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Beacon Lights of History, Volume I by John Lord

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another's.... If a man speaks or acts with evil thoughts pain follows,
as the wheel the foot of him who draws the carriage.... He who lives
seeking pleasure, and uncontrolled, the tempter will overcome.... The
true sage dwells on earth, as the bee gathers sweetness with his mouth
and wings.... One may conquer a thousand men in battle, but he who
conquers himself alone is the greatest victor.... Let no man think
lightly of sin, saying in his heart, 'It cannot overtake me.'... Let a
man make himself what he preaches to others.... He who holds back rising
anger as one might a rolling chariot, him, indeed, I call a driver;
others may hold the reins.... A man who foolishly does me wrong, I will
return to him the protection of my ungrudging love; the more evil comes
from him, the more good shall go from me."

These are some of the sayings of the Indian reformer, which I quote from
extracts of his writings as translated by Sanskrit scholars. Some of
these sayings rise to a height of moral beauty surpassed only by the
precepts of the great Teacher, whom many are too fond of likening to
Buddha himself. The religion of Buddha is founded on a correct and
virtuous life, as the only way to avoid sorrow and reach Nirvana. Its
essence, theologically, is "Quietism," without firm belief in anything
reached by metaphysic speculation; yet morally and practically it
inculcates ennobling, active duties.

Among the rules that Buddha laid down for his disciples were--to keep
the body pure; not to enter upon affairs of trade; to have no lands and
cattle, or houses, or money; to abhor all hypocrisy and dissimulation;
to be kind to everything that lives; never to take the life of any
living being; to control the passions; to eat food only to satisfy
hunger; not to feel resentment from injuries; to be patient and
forgiving; to avoid covetousness, and never to tire of self-reflection.
His fundamental principles are purity of mind, chastity of life,
truthfulness, temperance, abstention from the wanton destruction of
animal life, from vain pleasures, from envy, hatred, and malice. He does
not enjoin sacrifices, for he knows no god to whom they can be offered;
but "he proclaimed the brotherhood of man, if he did not reveal the
fatherhood of God." He insisted on the natural equality of all
men,--thus giving to caste a mortal wound, which offended the Brahmans,
and finally led to the expulsion of his followers from India. He
protested against all absolute authority, even that of the Vedas. Nor
did he claim, any more than Confucius, originality of doctrines, only
the revival of forgotten or neglected truths. He taught that Nirvana was
not attained by Brahmanical rites, but by individual virtues; and that
punishment is the inevitable result of evil deeds by the inexorable law
of cause and effect.

Buddhism is essentially rationalistic and ethical, while Brahmanism is a
pantheistic tendency to polytheism, and ritualistic even to the most
offensive sacerdotalism. The Brahman reminds me of a Dunstan,--the
Buddhist of a Benedict; the former of the gloomy, spiritual despotism of
the Middle Ages,--the latter of self-denying monasticism in its best
ages. The Brahman is like Thomas Aquinas with his dogmas and
metaphysics; the Buddhist is more like a mediaeval freethinker,
stigmatized as an atheist. The Brahman was so absorbed with his
theological speculation that he took no account of the sufferings of
humanity; the Buddhist was so absorbed with the miseries of man that the
greatest blessing seemed to be entire and endless rest, the cessation of
existence itself,--since existence brought desire, desire sin, and sin
misery. As a religion Buddhism is an absurdity; in fact, it is no
religion at all, only a system of moral philosophy. Its weak points,
practically, are the abuse of philanthropy, its system of organized
idleness and mendicancy, the indifference to thrift and industry, the
multiplication of lazy fraternities and useless retreats, reminding us
of monastic institutions in the days of Chaucer and Luther. The Buddhist
priest is a mendicant and a pauper, clothed in rags, begging his living
from door to door, in which he sees no disgrace and no impropriety.
Buddhism failed to ennoble the daily occupations of life, and produced
drones and idlers and religious vagabonds. In its corruption it lent
itself to idolatry, for the Buddhist temples are filled with hideous
images of all sorts of repulsive deities, although Buddha himself did
not hold to idol worship any more than to the belief in a personal God.

"Buddhism," says the author of its accepted catechism, "teaches goodness
without a God, existence without a soul, immortality without life,
happiness without a heaven, salvation without a saviour, redemption
without a redeemer, and worship without rites." The failure of Buddhism,
both as a philosophy and a religion, is a confirmation of the great
historical fact, that in the ancient Pagan world no efforts of reason
enabled man unaided to arrive at a true--that is, a helpful and
practically elevating--knowledge of deity. Even Buddha, one of the most
gifted and excellent of all the sages who have enlightened the world,
despaired of solving the great mysteries of existence, and turned his
attention to those practical duties of life which seemed to promise a
way of escaping its miseries. He appealed to human consciousness; but
lacking the inspiration and aid which come from a sense of personal
divine influence, Buddhism has failed, on the large scale, to raise its
votaries to higher planes of ethical accomplishment. And hence the
necessity of that new revelation which Jesus declared amid the moral
ruins of a crumbling world, by which alone can the debasing
superstitions of India and the godless materialism of China be replaced
with a vital spirituality,--even as the elaborate mythology of Greece
and Rome gave way before the fervent earnestness of Christian apostles
and martyrs.

It does not belong to my subject to present the condition of Buddhism as
it exists to-day in Thibet, in Siam, in China, in Japan, in Burmah, in
Ceylon, and in various other Eastern countries. It spread by reason of
its sympathy with the poor and miserable, by virtue of its being a great
system of philanthropy and morals which appealed to the consciousness of
the lower classes. Though a proselyting religion it was never a
persecuting one, and is still distinguished, in all its corruption, for
its toleration.


The chief authorities that I would recommend for this chapter are Max
Mueller's History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature; Rev. S. Seal's Buddhism
in China; Buddhism, by T. W. Rhys-Davids; Monier Williams's Sakoontala;
I. Muir's Sanskrit Texts; Burnouf's Essai sur la Veda; Sir William
Jones's Works; Colebrook's Miscellaneous Essays; Joseph Muller's
Religious Aspects of Hindu Philosophy; Manual of Buddhism, by R. Spence
Hardy; Dr. H. Clay Trumbull's The Blood Covenant; Orthodox Buddhist
Catechism, by H. S. Olcott, edited by Prof. Elliott C. Coues. I have
derived some instruction from Samuel Johnson's bulky and diffuse books,
but more from James Freeman Clarke's Ten Great Religions^ and
Rawlinson's Religions of the Ancient World.



Religion among the lively and imaginative Greeks took a different form
from that of the Aryan race in India or Persia. However the ideas of
their divinities originated in their relations to the thought and life
of the people, their gods were neither abstractions nor symbols. They
were simply men and women, immortal, yet having a beginning, with
passions and appetites like ordinary mortals. They love, they hate, they
eat, they drink, they have adventures and misfortunes like men,--only
differing from men in the superiority of their gifts, in their
miraculous endowments, in their stupendous feats, in their more than
gigantic size, in their supernal beauty, in their intensified pleasures.
It was not their aim "to raise mortals to the skies," but to enjoy
themselves in feasting and love-making; not even to govern the world,
but to protect their particular worshippers,--taking part and interest
in human quarrels, without reference to justice or right, and without
communicating any great truths for the guidance of mankind.

The religion of Greece consisted of a series of myths,--creations for
the most part of the poets,--and therefore properly called a mythology.
Yet in some respects the gods of Greece resembled those of Phoenicia and
Egypt, being the powers of Nature, and named after the sun, moon, and
planets. Their priests did not form a sacerdotal caste, as in India and
Egypt; they were more like officers of the state, to perform certain
functions or duties pertaining to rites, ceremonies, and sacrifices.
They taught no moral or spiritual truths to the people, nor were they
held in extraordinary reverence. They were not ascetics or enthusiasts;
among them were no great reformers or prophets, as among the sacerdotal
class of the Jews or the Hindus. They had even no sacred books, and
claimed no esoteric knowledge. Nor was their office hereditary. They
were appointed by the rulers of the state, or elected by the people
themselves; they imposed no restraints on the conscience, and apparently
cared little for morals, leaving the people to an unbounded freedom to
act and think for themselves, so far as they did not interfere with
prescribed usages and laws. The real objects of Greek worship were
beauty, grace, and heroic strength. The people worshipped no supreme
creator, no providential governor, no ultimate judge of human actions.
They had no aspirations for heaven and no fear of hell. They did not
feel accountable for their deeds or thoughts or words to an irresistible
Power working for righteousness or truth. They had no religious sense,
apart from wonder or admiration of the glories of Nature, or the good or
evil which might result from the favor or hatred of the divinities
they accepted.

These divinities, moreover, were not manifestations of supreme power and
intelligence, but were creations of the fancy, as they came from popular
legends, or the brains of poets, or the hands of artists, or the
speculations of philosophers. And as everything in Greece was beautiful
and radiant,--the sea, the sky, the mountains, and the valleys,--so was
religion cheerful, seen in all the festivals which took the place of the
Sabbaths and holy-days of more spiritually minded peoples. The
worshippers of the gods danced and played and sported to the sounds of
musical instruments, and revelled in joyous libations, in feasts and
imposing processions,--in whatever would amuse the mind or intoxicate
the senses. The gods were rather unseen companions in pleasures, in
sports, in athletic contests and warlike enterprises, than beings to be
adored for moral excellence or supernal knowledge. "Heaven was so near
at hand that their own heroes climbed to it and became demigods." Every
grove, every fountain, every river, every beautiful spot, had its
presiding deity; while every wonder of Nature,--the sun, the moon, the
stars, the tempest, the thunder, the lightning,--was impersonated as an
awful power for good or evil. To them temples were erected, within which
were their shrines and images in human shape, glistening with gold and
gems, and wrought in every form of grace or strength or beauty, and by
artists of marvellous excellence.

This polytheism of Greece was exceedingly complicated, but was not so
degrading as that of Egypt, since the gods were not represented by the
forms of hideous animals, and the worship of them was not attended by
revolting ceremonies; and yet it was divested of all spiritual
aspirations, and had but little effect on personal struggles for truth
or holiness. It was human and worldly, not lofty nor even reverential,
except among the few who had deep religious wants. One of its
characteristic features was the acknowledged impotence of the gods to
secure future happiness. In fact, the future was generally ignored, and
even immortality was but a dream of philosophers. Men lived not in view
of future rewards and punishments, or future existence at all, but for
the enjoyment of the present; and the gods themselves set the example of
an immoral life. Even Zeus, "the Father of gods and men," to whom
absolute supremacy was ascribed, the work of creation, and all majesty
and serenity, took but little interest in human affairs, and lived on
Olympian heights like a sovereign surrounded with the instruments of his
will, freely indulging in those pleasures which all lofty moral codes
have forbidden, and taking part in the quarrels, jealousies, and
enmities of his divine associates.

Greek mythology had its source in the legends of a remote
antiquity,--probably among the Pelasgians, the early inhabitants of
Greece, which they brought with them in their migration from their
original settlement, or perhaps from Egypt and Phoenicia. Herodotus--and
he is not often wrong--ascribes a great part of the mythology which the
Greek poets elaborated to a Phoenician or Egyptian source. The legends
have also some similarity to the poetic creations of the ancient
Persians, who delighted in fairies and genii and extravagant exploits,
like the labors of Hercules The faults and foibles of deified mortals
were transmitted to posterity and incorporated with the attributes of
the supreme divinity, and hence the mixture of the mighty and the mean
which marks the characters of the Iliad and Odyssey. The Greeks adopted
Oriental fables, and accommodated them to those heroes who figured in
their own country in the earliest times. "The labors of Hercules
originated in Egypt, and relate to the annual progress of the sun in
the zodiac. The rape of Proserpine, the wanderings of Ceres, the
Eleusinian mysteries, and the orgies of Bacchus were all imported from
Egypt or Phoenicia, while the wars between the gods and the giants were
celebrated in the romantic annals of Persia. The oracle of Dodona was
copied from that of Ammon in Thebes, and the oracle of Apollo at Delphos
has a similar source."

Behind the Oriental legends which form the basis of Grecian mythology
there was, in all probability, in those ancient times before the
Pelasgians were known as Ionians and the Hellenes as Dorians, a mystical
and indefinite idea of supreme power,--as among the Persians, the
Hindus, and the esoteric priests of Egypt. In all the ancient religions
the farther back we go the purer and loftier do we find the popular
religion. Belief in supreme deity underlies all the Eastern theogonies,
which belief, however, was soon perverted or lost sight of. There is
great difference of opinion among philosophers as to the origin of
myths,--whether they began in fable and came to be regarded as history,
or began as human history and were poetized into fable. My belief is
that in the earliest ages of the world there were no mythologies. Fables
were the creations of those who sought to amuse or control the people,
who have ever delighted in the marvellous. As the magnificent, the
vast, the sublime, which was seen in Nature, impressed itself on the
imagination of the Orientals and ended in legends, so did allegory in
process of time multiply fictions and fables to an indefinite extent;
and what were symbols among Eastern nations became impersonations in the
poetry of Greece. Grecian mythology was a vast system of impersonated
forces, beginning with the legends of heroes and ending with the
personification of the faculties of the mind and the manifestations of
Nature, in deities who presided over festivals, cities, groves, and
mountains, with all the infirmities of human nature, and without calling
out exalted sentiments of love or reverence. They are all creations of
the imagination, invested with human traits and adapted to the genius of
the people, who were far from being religious in the sense that the
Hindus and Egyptians were. It was the natural and not the supernatural
that filled their souls. It was art they worshipped, and not the God who
created the heavens and the earth, and who exacts of his creatures
obedience and faith.

In regard to the gods and goddesses of the Grecian Pantheon, we observe
that most of them were immoral; at least they had the usual infirmities
of men. They are thus represented by the poets, probably to please the
people, who like all other peoples had to make their own conceptions of
God; for even a miraculous revelation of deity must be interpreted by
those who receive it, according to their own understanding of the
qualities revealed. The ancient Romans, themselves stern, earnest,
practical, had an almost Oriental reverence for their gods, so that
their Jupiter (Father of Heaven) was a majestic, powerful, all-seeing,
severely just national deity, regarded by them much as the Jehovah of
the Hebrews was by that nation. When in later times the conquest of
Eastern countries and of Macedon and Greece brought in luxury, works of
art, foreign literature, and all the delightful but enervating
influences of aestheticism, the Romans became corrupted, and gradually
began to identify their own more noble deities with the beautiful but
unprincipled, self-indulgent, and tricky set of gods and goddesses of
the Greek mythology.

The Greek Zeus, with whom were associated majesty and dominion, and who
reigned supreme in the celestial hierarchy,--who as the chief god of the
skies, the god of storms, ruler of the atmosphere, was the favorite
deity of the Aryan race, the Indra of the Hindus, the Jupiter of the
Romans,--was in his Grecian presentment a rebellious son, a faithless
husband, and sometimes an unkind father. His character was a combination
of weakness and strength,--anything but a pattern to be imitated, or
even to be reverenced. He was the impersonation of power and dignity,
represented by the poets as having such immense strength that if he had
hold of one end of a chain, and all the gods held the other, with the
earth fastened to it, he would be able to move them all.

Poseidon (Roman Neptune), the brother of Zeus, was represented as the
god of the ocean, and was worshipped chiefly in maritime States. His
morality was no higher than that of Zeus; moreover, he was rough,
boisterous, and vindictive. He was hostile to Troy, and yet
persecuted Ulysses.

Apollo, the next great personage of the Olympian divinities, was more
respectable morally than his father. He was the sun-god of the Greeks,
and was the embodiment of divine prescience, of healing skill, of
musical and poetical productiveness, and hence the favorite of the
poets. He had a form of ideal beauty, grace, and vigor, inspired by
unerring wisdom and insight into futurity. He was obedient to the will
of Zeus, to whom he was not much inferior in power. Temples were erected
to this favorite deity in every part of Greece, and he was supposed to
deliver oracular responses in several cities, especially at Delphos.

Hephaestus (Roman Vulcan), the god of fire, was a sort of jester at the
Olympian court, and provoked perpetual laughter from his awkwardness and
lameness. He forged the thunderbolts for Zeus, and was the armorer of
heaven. It accorded with the grim humor of the poets to make this clumsy
blacksmith the husband of Aphrodite, the queen of beauty and of love.

Ares (Roman Mars), the god of war, was represented as cruel, lawless,
and greedy of blood, and as occupying a subordinate position, receiving
orders from Apollo and Athene.

Hermes (Roman Mercury) was the impersonation of commercial dealings, and
of course was full of tricks and thievery,--the Olympian man of
business, industrious, inventive, untruthful, and dishonest. He was also
the god of eloquence.

Besides these six great male divinities there were six goddesses, the
most important of whom was Hera (Roman Juno), wife of Zeus, and hence
the Queen of Heaven. She exercised her husband's prerogatives, and
thundered and shook Olympus; but she was proud, vindictive, jealous,
unscrupulous, and cruel,--a poor model for women to imitate. The Greek
poets, however, had a poor opinion of the female sex, and hence
represent this deity without those elements of character which we most
admire in woman,--gentleness, softness, tenderness, and patience. She
scolded her august husband so perpetually that he gave way to complaints
before the assembled deities, and that too with a bitterness hardly to
be reconciled with our notions of dignity. The Roman Juno, before the
identification of the two goddesses, was a nobler character, being the
queen of heaven, the protectress of virgins and of matrons, and was also
the celestial housewife of the nation, watching over its revenues and
its expenses. She was the especial goddess of chastity, and loose women
were forbidden to touch her altars.

Athene (Roman Minerva) however, the goddess of wisdom, had a character
without a flaw, and ranked with Apollo in wisdom. She even expostulated
with Zeus himself when he was wrong. But on the other hand she had few
attractive feminine qualities, and no amiable weaknesses.

Artemis (Roman Diana) was "a shadowy divinity, a pale reflection of her
brother Apollo." She presided over the pleasures of the chase, in which
the Greeks delighted,--a masculine female who took but little interest
in anything intellectual.

Aphrodite (Roman Venus) was the impersonation of all that was weak and
erring in the nature of woman,--the goddess of sensual desire, of mere
physical beauty, silly, childish, and vain, utterly odious in a moral
point of view, and mentally contemptible. This goddess was represented
as exerting a great influence even when despised, fascinating yet
revolting, admired and yet corrupting. She was not of much importance
among the Romans,--who were far from being sentimental or
passionate,--until the growth of the legend of their Trojan origin.
Then, as mother of Aeneas, their progenitor, she took a high rank, and
the Greek poets furnished her character.

Hestia (Roman Vesta) presided over the private hearths and homesteads of
the Greeks, and imparted to them a sacred character. Her personality was
vague, but she represented the purity which among both Greeks and Romans
is attached to home and domestic life.

Demeter (Roman Ceres) represented Mother Earth, and thus was closely
associated with agriculture and all operations of tillage and
bread-making. As agriculture is the primitive and most important of all
human vocations, this deity presided over civilization and law-giving,
and occupied an important position in the Eleusinian mysteries.

These were the twelve Olympian divinities, or greater gods; but they
represent only a small part of the Grecian Pantheon. There was Dionysus
(Roman Bacchus), the god of drunkenness. This deity presided over
vineyards, and his worship was attended with disgraceful orgies,--with
wild dances, noisy revels, exciting music, and frenzied demonstrations.

Leto (Roman Latona), another wife of Zeus, and mother of Apollo and
Diana, was a very different personage from Hera, being the impersonation
of all those womanly qualities which are valued in woman,--silent,
unobtrusive, condescending, chaste, kindly, ready to help and tend, and
subordinating herself to her children.

Persephone (Roman Proserpina) was the queen of the dead, ruling the
infernal realm even more distinctly than her husband Pluto, severely
pure as she was awful and terrible; but there were no temples erected to
her, as the Greeks did not trouble themselves much about the
future state.

The minor deities of the Greeks were innumerable, and were identified
with every separate thing which occupied their thoughts,--with
mountains, rivers, capes, towns, fountains, rocks; with domestic
animals, with monsters of the deep, with demons and departed heroes,
with water-nymphs and wood-nymphs, with the qualities of mind and
attributes of the body; with sleep and death, old age and pain, strife
and victory; with hunger, grief, ridicule, wisdom, deceit, grace; with
night and day, the hours, the thunder the rainbow,---in short, all the
wonders of Nature, all the affections of the soul, and all the qualities
of the mind; everything they saw, everything they talked about,
everything they felt. All these wonders and sentiments they
impersonated; and these impersonations were supposed to preside over the
things they represented, and to a certain extent were worshipped. If a
man wished the winds to be propitious, he prayed to Zeus; if he wished
to be prospered in his bargains, he invoked Hermes; if he wished to be
successful in war, he prayed to Ares.

He never prayed to a supreme and eternal deity, but to some special
manifestation of deity, fancied or real; and hence his religion was
essentially pantheistic, though outwardly polytheistic. The divinities
whom he invoked he celebrated with rites corresponding with those traits
which they represented. Thus, Aphrodite was celebrated with lascivious
dances, and Dionysus with drunken revels. Each deity represented the
Grecian ideal,--of majesty or grace or beauty or strength or virtue or
wisdom or madness or folly. The character of Hera was what the poets
supposed should be the attributes of the Queen of heaven; that of Leto,
what should distinguish a disinterested housewife; that of Hestia, what
should mark the guardian of the fireside; that of Demeter, what should
show supreme benevolence and thrift; that of Athene, what would
naturally be associated with wisdom, and that of Aphrodite, what would
be expected from a sensual beauty. In the main, Zeus was serene,
majestic, and benignant, as became the king of the gods, although he was
occasionally faithless to his wife; Poseidon was boisterous, as became
the monarch of the seas; Apollo was a devoted son and a bright
companion, which one would expect in a gifted poet and wise prophet,
beautiful and graceful as a sun-god should be; Hephaestus, the god of
fire and smiths, showed naturally the awkwardness to which manual labor
leads; Ares was cruel and bloodthirsty, as the god of war should be;
Hermes, as the god of trade and business, would of course be sharp and
tricky; and Dionysus, the father of the vine, would naturally become
noisy and rollicking in his intoxication.

Thus, whatever defects are associated with the principal deities, these
are all natural and consistent with the characters they represent, or
the duties and business in which they engage. Drunkenness is not
associated with Zeus, or unchastity with Hera or Athene. The poets make
each deity consistent with himself, and in harmony with the interests he
represents. Hence the mythology of the poets is elaborate and
interesting. Who has not devoured the classical dictionary before he has
learned to scan the lines of Homer or of Virgil? As varied and romantic
as the "Arabian Nights," it shines in the beauty of nature. In the
Grecian creations of gods and goddesses there is no insult to the
understanding, because these creations are in harmony with Nature, are
consistent with humanity. There is no hatred and no love, no jealousy
and no fear, which has not a natural cause. The poets proved themselves
to be great artists in the very characters they gave to their
divinities. They did not aim to excite reverence or stimulate to duty or
point out the higher life, but to amuse a worldly, pleasure-seeking,
good-natured, joyous, art-loving, poetic people, who lived in the
present and for themselves alone.

As a future state of rewards and punishments seldom entered into the
minds of the Greeks, so the gods are never represented as conferring
future salvation. The welfare of the soul was rarely thought of where
there was no settled belief in immortality. The gods themselves were fed
on nectar and ambrosia, that they might not die like ordinary mortals.
They might prolong their own existence indefinitely, but they were
impotent to confer eternal life upon their worshippers; and as eternal
life is essential to perfect happiness, they could not confer even
happiness in its highest sense.

On this fact Saint Augustine erected the grand fabric of his theological
system. In his most celebrated work, "The City of God," he holds up to
derision the gods of antiquity, and with blended logic and irony makes
them contemptible as objects of worship, since they were impotent to
save the soul. In his view the grand and distinguishing feature of
Christianity, in contrast with Paganism, is the gift of eternal life and
happiness. It is not the morality which Christ and his Apostles taught,
which gave to Christianity its immeasurable superiority over all other
religions, but the promise of a future felicity in heaven. And it was
this promise which gave such comfort to the miserable people of the old
Pagan world, ground down by oppression, injustice, cruelty, and poverty.
It was this promise which filled the converts to Christianity with joy,
enthusiasm, and hope,--yea, more than this, even boundless love that
salvation was the gift of God through the self-sacrifice of Christ.
Immortality was brought to light by the gospel alone, and to miserable
people the idea of eternal bliss after the trials of mortal life were
passed was the source of immeasurable joy. No sooner was this sublime
expectation of happiness planted firmly in the minds of pagans, than
they threw their idols to the moles and the bats.

But even in regard to morality, Augustine showed that the gods were no
examples to follow. He ridicules their morals and their offices as
severely as he points out their impotency to bestow happiness. He shows
the absurdity and inconsistency of tolerating players in their
delineation of the vices and follies of deities for the amusement of the
people in the theatre, while the priests performed the same obscenities
as religious rites in the temples which were upheld by the State; so
that philosophers like Varro could pour contempt on players with
impunity, while he dared not ridicule priests for doing in the temples
the same things. No wonder that the popular religion at last was held in
contempt by philosophers, since it was not only impotent to save, but
did not stimulate to ordinary morality, to virtue, or to lofty
sentiments. A religion which was held sacred in one place and ridiculed
in another, before the eyes of the same people, could not in the end but
yield to what was better.

If we ascribe to the poets the creation of the elaborate mythology of
the Greeks,--that is, a system of gods made by men, rather than men made
by gods,--whether as symbols or objects of worship, whether the religion
was pantheistic or idolatrous, we find that artists even surpassed the
poets in their conceptions of divine power, goodness, and beauty, and
thus riveted the chains which the poets forged.

The temple of Zeus at Olympia in Elis, where the intellect and the
culture of Greece assembled every four years to witness the games
instituted in honor of the Father of the gods, was itself calculated to
impose on the senses of the worshippers by its grandeur and beauty. The
image of the god himself, sixty feet high, made of ivory, gold, and gems
by the greatest of all the sculptors of antiquity, must have impressed
spectators with ideas of strength and majesty even more than any
poetical descriptions could do. If it was art which the Greeks
worshipped rather than an unseen deity who controlled their destinies,
and to whom supreme homage was due, how nobly did the image before them
represent the highest conceptions of the attributes to be ascribed to
the King of Heaven! Seated on his throne, with the emblems of
sovereignty in his hands and attendant deities around him, his head,
neck, breast, and arms in massive proportions, and his face expressive
of majesty and sweetness, power in repose, benevolence blended with
strength,--the image of the Olympian deity conveyed to the minds of his
worshippers everything that could inspire awe, wonder, and goodness, as
well as power. No fear was blended with admiration, since his favor
could be won by the magnificent rites and ceremonies which were
instituted in his honor.

Clarke alludes to the sculptured Apollo Belvedere as giving a still more
elevated idea of the sun-god than the poets themselves,--a figure
expressive of the highest thoughts of the Hellenic mind,--and quotes
Milman in support of his admiration:--

"All, all divine! no struggling muscle glows,
Through heaving vein no mantling life-blood flows;
But, animate with deity alone,
In deathless glory lives the breathing stone."

If a Christian poet can see divinity in the chiselled stone, why should
we wonder at the worship of art by the pagan Greeks? The same could be
said of the statues of Artemis, of Pallas-Athene, of Aphrodite, and
other "divine" productions of Grecian artists, since they represented
the highest ideal the world has seen of beauty, grace, loveliness, and
majesty, which the Greeks adored. Hence, though the statues of the gods
are in human shape, it was not men that the Greeks worshipped, but those
qualities of mind and those forms of beauty to which the cultivated
intellect instinctively gave the highest praise. No one can object to
this boundless admiration which the Greeks had for art in its highest
forms, in so far as that admiration became worship. It was the divorce
of art from morals which called out the indignation and censure of the
Christian fathers, and even undermined the religion of philosophers so
far as it had been directed to the worship of the popular deities, which
were simply creations of poets and artists.

It is difficult to conceive how the worship of the gods could have been
kept up for so long a time, had it not been for the festivals. This wise
provision for providing interest and recreation for the people was also
availed of by the Mosaic ritual among the Hebrews, and has been a part
of most well-organized religious systems. The festivals were celebrated
in honor not merely of deities, but of useful inventions, of the seasons
of the year, of great national victories,--all which were religious in
the pagan sense, and constituted the highest pleasures of Grecian life.
They were observed with great pomp and splendor in the open air in front
of temples, in sacred groves, wherever the people could conveniently
assemble to join in jocund dances, in athletic sports, and whatever
could animate the soul with festivity and joy. Hence the religious
worship of the Greeks was cheerful, and adapted itself to the tastes and
pleasures of the people; it was, however, essentially worldly, and
sometimes degrading. It was similar in its effects to the rural sports
of the yeomanry of the Middle Ages, and to the theatrical
representations sometimes held in mediaeval churches,--certainly to the
processions and pomps which the Catholic clergy instituted for the
amusement of the people. Hence the sneering but acute remark of Gibbon,
that all religions were equally true to the people, equally false to
philosophers, and equally useful to rulers. The State encouraged and
paid for sacrifices, rites, processions, and scenic dances on the same
principle that they gave corn to the people to make them contented in
their miseries, and severely punished those who ridiculed the popular
religion when it was performed in temples, even though it winked at the
ridicule of the same performances in the theatres.

Among the Greeks there were no sacred books like the Hindu Vedas or
Hebrew Scriptures, in which the people could learn duties and religious
truths. The priests taught nothing; they merely officiated at rites and
ceremonies. It is difficult to find out what were the means and forms of
religious instruction, so far as pertained to the heart and conscience.
Duties were certainly not learned from the ministers of religion. From
what source did the people learn the necessity of obedience to parents,
of conjugal fidelity, of truthfulness, of chastity, of honesty? It is
difficult to tell. The poets and artists taught ideas of beauty, of
grace, of strength; and Nature in her grandeur and loveliness taught the
same things. Hence a severe taste was cultivated, which excluded
vulgarity and grossness in the intercourse of life. It was the rule to
be courteous, affable, gentlemanly, for all this was in harmony with the
severity of art. The comic poets ridiculed pretension, arrogance,
quackery, and lies. Patriotism, which was learned from the dangers of
the State, amid warlike and unscrupulous neighbors, called out many
manly virtues, like courage, fortitude, heroism, and self-sacrifice. A
hard and rocky soil necessitated industry, thrift, and severe punishment
on those who stole the fruits of labor, even as miners in the Rocky
Mountains sacredly abstain from appropriating the gold of their
fellow-laborers. Self-interest and self-preservation dictated many laws
which secured the welfare of society. The natural sacredness of home
guarded the virtue of wives and children; the natural sense of justice
raised indignation against cheating and tricks in trade. Men and women
cannot live together in peace and safety without observing certain
conditions, which may be ranked with virtues even among savages and
barbarians,--much more so in cultivated and refined communities.

The graces and amenities of life can exist without reference to future
rewards and punishments. The ultimate law of self-preservation will
protect men in ordinary times against murder and violence, and will lead
to public and social enactments which bad men fear to violate. A
traveller ordinarily feels as safe in a highly-civilized pagan community
as in a Christian city. The "heathen Chinee" fears the officers of the
law as much as does a citizen of London.

The great difference between a Pagan and a Christian people is in the
power of conscience, in the sense of a moral accountability to a
spiritual Deity, in the hopes or fears of a future state,--motives which
have a powerful influence on the elevation of individual character and
the development of higher types of social organization. But whatever
laws are necessary for the maintenance of order, the repression of
violence, of crimes against person and the State and the general
material welfare of society, are found in Pagan as well as in Christian
States; and the natural affections,--of paternal and filial love,
friendship, patriotism, generosity, etc.,--while strengthened by
Christianity, are also an inalienable part of the God-given heritage of
all mankind. We see many heroic traits, many manly virtues, many
domestic amenities, and many exalted sentiments in pagan Greece, even if
these were not taught by priests or sages. Every man instinctively
clings to life, to property, to home, to parents, to wife and children;
and hence these are guarded in every community, and the violation of
these rights is ever punished with greater or less severity for the sake
of general security and public welfare, even if there be no belief in
God. Religion, loftily considered, has but little to do with the
temporal interests of men. Governments and laws take these under their
protection, and it is men who make governments and laws. They are made
from the instinct of self-preservation, from patriotic aspirations, from
the necessities of civilization. Religion, from the Christian
standpoint, is unworldly, having reference to the life which is to come,
to the enlightenment of the conscience, to restraint from sins not
punishable by the laws, and to the inspiration of virtues which have no
worldly reward.

This kind of religion was not taught by Grecian priests or poets or
artists, and did not exist in Greece, with all its refinements and
glories, until partially communicated by those philosophers who
meditated on the secrets of Nature, the mighty mysteries of life, and
the duties which reason and reflection reveal. And it may be noticed
that the philosophers themselves, who began with speculations on the
origin of the universe, the nature of the gods, the operations of the
mind, and the laws of matter, ended at last with ethical inquiries and
injunctions. We see this illustrated in Socrates and Zeno. They seemed
to despair of finding out God, of explaining the wonders of his
universe, and came down to practical life in its sad realities,--like
Solomon himself when he said, "Fear God and keep his commandments, for
this is the whole duty of man." In ethical teachings and inquiries some
of these philosophers reached a height almost equal to that which
Christian sages aspired to climb; and had the world practised the
virtues which they taught, there would scarcely have been need of a new
revelation, so far as the observance of rules to promote happiness on
earth is concerned. But these Pagan sages did not hold out hopes beyond
the grave. They even doubted whether the soul was mortal or immortal.
They did teach many ennobling and lofty truths for the enlightenment of
thinkers; but they held out no divine help, nor any hope of completing
in a future life the failures of this one; and hence they failed in
saving society from a persistent degradation, and in elevating ordinary
men to those glorious heights reached by the Christian converts.

That was the point to which Augustine directed his vast genius and his
unrivalled logic. He admitted that arts might civilize, and that the
elaborate mythology which he ridiculed was interesting to the people,
and was, as a creation of the poets, ingenious and beautiful; but he
showed that it did not reveal a future state, that it did not promise
eternal happiness, that it did not restrain men from those sins which
human laws could not punish, and that it did not exalt the soul to lofty
communion with the Deity, or kindle a truly spiritual life, and
therefore was worthless as a religion, imbecile to save, and only to be
classed with those myths which delight an ignorant or sensuous people,
and with those rites which are shrouded in mystery and gloom. Nor did
he, in his matchless argument against the gods of Greece and Rome, take
for his attack those deities whose rites were most degrading and
senseless, and which the thinking world despised, but the most lofty
forms of pagan religion, such as were accepted by moralists and
philosophers like Seneca and Plato. And thus he reached the intelligence
of the age, and gave a final blow to all the gods of antiquity.

It would be instructive to show that the religion of Greece, as embraced
by the people, did not prevent or even condemn those social evils that
are the greatest blot on enlightened civilization. It did not
discourage slavery, the direst evil which ever afflicted humanity; it
did not elevate woman to her true position at home or in public; it
ridiculed those passive virtues that are declared and commended in the
Sermon on the Mount; it did not pronounce against the wickedness of war,
or the vanity of military glory; it did not dignify home, or the virtues
of the family circle; it did not declare the folly of riches, or show
that the love of money is a root of all evil. It made sensual pleasure
and outward prosperity the great aims of successful ambition, and hid
with an impenetrable screen from the eyes of men the fatal results of a
worldly life, so that suicide itself came to be viewed as a justifiable
way to avoid evils that are hard to be borne; in short, it was a
religion which, though joyous, was without hope, and with innumerable
deities was without God in the world,--which was no religion at all, but
a fable, a delusion, and a superstition, as Paul argued before the
assembled intellect of the most fastidious and cultivated city of
the world.

And yet we see among those who worshipped the gods of Greece a sense of
dependence on supernatural power; and this dependence stands out, both
in the Iliad and the Odyssey, among the boldest heroes. They seem to be
reverential to the powers above them, however indefinite their views. In
the best ages of Greece the worship of the various deities was sincere
and universal, and was attended with sacrifices to propitiate favor or
avert their displeasure.

It does not appear that these sacrifices were always offered by priests.
Warriors, kings, and heroes themselves sacrificed oxen, sheep, and
goats, and poured out libations to the gods. Homer's heroes were very
strenuous in the exercise of these duties; and they generally traced
their calamities and misfortunes to the neglect of sacrifices, which was
a great offence to the deities, from Zeus down to inferior gods. We
read, too, that the gods were supplicated in fervent prayer. There was
universally felt, in earlier times, a need of divine protection. If the
gods did not confer eternal life, they conferred, it was supposed,
temporal and worldly good. People prayed for the same blessings that the
ancient Jews sought from Jehovah. In this sense the early Greeks were
religious. Irreverence toward the gods was extremely rare. The people,
however, did not pray for divine guidance in the discharge of duty, but
for the blessings which would give them health and prosperity. We seldom
see a proud self-reliance even among the heroes of the Iliad, but great
solicitude to secure aid from the deities they worshipped.

* * * * *

The religion of the Romans differed in some respects from that of the
Greeks, inasmuch as it was emphatically a state religion. It was more of
a ritual and a ceremony. It included most of the deities of the Greek
Pantheon, but was more comprehensive. It accepted the gods of all the
nations that composed the empire, and placed them in the Pantheon,--even
Mithra, the Persian sun-god, and the Isis and Osiris of the Egyptians,
to whom sacrifices were made by those who worshipped them at home. It
was also a purer mythology, and rejected many of the blasphemous myths
concerning the loves and quarrels of the Grecian deities. It was more
practical and less poetical. Every Roman god had something to do, some
useful office to perform. Several divinities presided over the birth and
nursing of an infant, and they were worshipped for some fancied good,
for the benefits which they were supposed to bestow. There was an
elaborate "division of labor" among them. A divinity presided over
bakers, another over ovens,--every vocation and every household
transaction had its presiding deities.

There were more superstitious rites practised by the Romans than by the
Greeks,--such as examining the entrails of beasts and birds for good or
bad omens. Great attention was given to dreams and rites of divination.
The Roman household gods were of great account, since there was a more
defined and general worship of ancestors than among the Greeks. These
were the _Penates_, or familiar household gods, the guardians of the
home, whose fire on the sacred hearth was perpetually burning, and to
whom every meal was esteemed a sacrifice. These included a _Lar_, or
ancestral family divinity, in each house. There were Vestal virgins to
guard the most sacred places. There was a college of pontiffs to
regulate worship and perform the higher ceremonies, which were
complicated and minute. The pontiffs were presided over by one called
Pontifex Maximus,--a title shrewdly assumed by Caesar to gain control of
the popular worship, and still surviving in the title of the Pope of
Rome with his college of cardinals. There were augurs and haruspices to
discover the will of the gods, according to entrails and the flight
of birds.

The festivals were more numerous in Rome than in Greece, and perhaps
were more piously observed. About one day in four was set apart for the
worship of particular gods, celebrated by feasts and games and
sacrifices. The principal feast days were in honor of Janus, the great
god of the Sabines, the god of beginnings, celebrated on the first of
January, to which month he gave his name; also the feasts in honor of
the Penates, of Mars, of Vesta, of Minerva, of Venus, of Ceres, of Juno,
of Jupiter, and of Saturn. The Saturnalia, December 19, in honor of
Saturn, the annual Thanksgiving, lasted seven days, when the rich kept
open house and slaves had their liberty,--the most joyous of the
festivals. The feast of Minerva lasted five days, when offerings were
made by all mechanics, artists, and scholars. The feast of Cybele,
analogous to that of Ceres in Greece and Isis in Egypt, lasted six days.
These various feasts imposed great contributions on the people, and were
managed by the pontiffs with the most minute observances and legalities.

The principal Roman divinities were the Olympic gods under Latin names,
like Jupiter, Juno, Mars, Minerva, Neptune, Vesta, Apollo, Venus, Ceres,
and Diana; but the secondary deities were almost innumerable. Some of
the deities were of Etruscan, some of Sabine, and some of Latin origin;
but most of them were imported from Greece or corresponded with those of
the Greek mythology. Many were manufactured by the pontiffs for
utilitarian purposes, and were mere abstractions, like Hope, Fear,
Concord, Justice, Clemency, etc., to which temples were erected. The
powers of Nature were also worshipped, like the sun, the moon, and
stars. The best side of Roman life was represented in the worship of
Vesta, who presided over the household fire and home, and was associated
with the Lares and Penates. Of these household gods the head of the
family was the officiating minister who offered prayers and sacrifices.
The Vestal virgins received especial honor, and were appointed by the
Pontifex Maximus.

Thus the Romans accounted themselves very religious, and doubtless are
to be so accounted, certainly in the same sense as were the Athenians by
the Apostle Paul, since altars, statues, and temples in honor of gods
were everywhere present to the eye, and rites and ceremonies were most
systematically and mechanically observed according to strict rules laid
down by the pontiffs. They were grave and decorous in their devotions,
and seemed anxious to learn from their augurs and haruspices the will of
the gods; and their funeral ceremonies were held with great pomp and
ceremony. As faith in the gods declined, ceremonies and pomps were
multiplied, and the ice of ritualism accumulated on the banks of piety.
Superstition and unbelief went hand in hand. Worship in the temples was
most imposing when the amours and follies of the gods were most
ridiculed in the theatres; and as the State was rigorous in its
religious observances, hypocrisy became the vice of the most prominent
and influential citizens. What sincerity was there in Julius Caesar when
he discharged the duties of high-priest of the Republic? It was
impossible for an educated Roman who read Plato and Zeno to believe in
Janus and Juno. It was all very well for the people so to believe, he
said, who must be kept in order; but scepticism increased in the higher
classes until the prevailing atheism culminated in the poetry of
Lucretius, who had the boldness to declare that faith in the gods had
been the curse of the human race.

If the Romans were more devoted to mere external and ritualistic
services than the Greeks,--more outwardly religious,--they were also
more hypocritical. If they were not professed freethinkers,--for the
State did not tolerate opposition or ridicule of those things which it
instituted or patronized,--religion had but little practical effect on
their lives. The Romans were more immoral yet more observant of
religious ceremonies than the Greeks, who acted and thought as they
pleased. Intellectual independence was not one of the characteristics of
the Roman citizen. He professed to think as the State prescribed, for
the masters of the world were the slaves of the State in religion as in
war. The Romans were more gross in their vices as they were more
pharisaical in their profession than the Greeks, whom they conquered and
imitated. Neither the sincere worship of ancestors, nor the ceremonies
and rites which they observed in honor of their innumerable divinities,
softened the severity of their character, or weakened their passion for
war and bloody sports. Their hard and rigid wills were rarely moved by
the cries of agony or the shrieks of despair. Their slavery was more
cruel than among any nation of antiquity. Butchery and legalized murder
were the delight of Romans in their conquering days, as were inhuman
sports in the days of their political decline. Where was the spirit of
religion, as it was even in India and Egypt, when women were debased;
when every man and woman held a human being in cruel bondage; when home
was abandoned for the circus and the amphitheatre; when the cry of the
mourner was unheard in shouts of victory; when women sold themselves as
wives to those who would pay the highest price, and men abstained from
marriage unless they could fatten on rich dowries; when utility was the
spring of every action, and demoralizing pleasure was the universal
pursuit; when feastings and banquets were riotous and expensive, and
violence and rapine were restrained only by the strong arm of law
dictated by instincts of self-preservation? Where was the ennobling
influence of the gods, when nobody of any position finally believed in
them? How powerless the gods, when the general depravity was so glaring
as to call out the terrible invective of Paul, the cosmopolitan
traveller, the shrewd observer, the pure-hearted Christian missionary,
indicting not a few, but a whole people: "Who exchanged the truth of God
for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the
Creator, ... being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication,
wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife,
deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, insolent,
haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affections,
unmerciful." An awful picture, but sustained by the evidence of the
Roman writers of that day as certainly no worse than the
hideous reality.

If this was the outcome of the most exquisitely poetical and
art-inspiring mythology the world has ever known, what wonder that the
pure spirituality of Jesus the Christ, shining into that blackness of
darkness, should have been hailed by perishing millions as the "light of
the world"!

* * * * *


Rawlinson's Religions of the Ancient World; Grote's History of Greece;
Thirlwall's History of Greece; Homer's Iliad and Odyssey; Max Mueller's
Chips from a German Workshop; Curtius's History of Greece; Mr.
Gladstone's Homer and the Homeric Age; Rawlinson's Herodotus;
Doellinger's Jew and Gentile; Fenton's Lectures on Ancient and Modern
Greece; Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Mythology; Clarke's Ten
Great Religions; Dwight's Mythology; Saint Augustine's City of God.



550-478 B.C.

About one hundred years after the great religious movement in India
under Buddha, a man was born in China who inaugurated a somewhat similar
movement there, and who impressed his character and principles on three
hundred millions of people. It cannot be said that he was the founder of
a new religion, since he aimed only to revive what was ancient. To quote
his own words, he was "a transmitter, and not a maker." But he was,
nevertheless, a very extraordinary character; and if greatness is to be
measured by results, I know of no heathen teacher whose work has been so
permanent. In genius, in creative power, he was inferior to many; but in
influence he has had no equal among the sages of the world.

"Confucius" is a Latin name given him by Jesuit missionaries in China;
his real name was K'ung-foo-tseu. He was born about 550 B.C., in the
province of Loo, and was the contemporary of Belshazzar, of Cyrus, of
Croesus, and of Pisistratus. It is claimed that Confucius was a
descendant of one of the early emperors of China, of the Chow dynasty,
1121 B.C.; but he was simply of an upper-class family of the State of
Loo, one of the provinces of the empire,--his father and grandfather
having been prime ministers to the reigning princes or dukes of Loo,
which State resembled a feudal province of France in the Middle Ages,
acknowledging only a nominal fealty to the Emperor.

We know but little of the early condition of China. The earliest record
of events which can be called history takes us back to about 2350 B.C.,
when Yaou was emperor,--an intelligent and benignant prince, uniting
under his sway the different States of China, which had even then
reached a considerable civilization, for the legendary or mythical
history of the country dates back about five thousand years. Yaou's son
Shun was an equally remarkable man, wise and accomplished, who lived
only to advance the happiness of his subjects. At that period the
religion of China was probably monotheistic. The supreme being was
called Shang-te, to whom sacrifices were made, a deity who exercised a
superintending care of the universe; but corruptions rapidly crept in,
and a worship of the powers of Nature and of the spirits of departed
ancestors, who were supposed to guard the welfare of their descendants,
became the prevailing religion. During the reigns of these good emperors
the standard of morality was high throughout the empire.

But morals declined,--the old story in all the States of the ancient
world. In addition to the decline in morals, there were political
discords and endless wars between the petty princes of the empire.

To remedy the political and moral evils of his time was the great desire
and endeavor of Confucius. The most marked feature in the religion of
the Chinese, before his time, was the worship of ancestors, and this
worship he did not seek to change. "Confucius taught three thousand
disciples, of whom the more eminent became influential authors. Like
Plato and Xenophon, they recorded the sayings of their master, and his
maxims and arguments preserved in their works were afterward added to
the national collection of the sacred books called the 'Nim Classes.'"

Confucius was a mere boy when his father died, and we know next to
nothing of his early years. At fifteen years of age, however, we are
told that he devoted himself to learning, pursuing his studies under
considerable difficulties, his family being poor. He married when he was
nineteen years of age; and in the following year was born his son Le,
his only child, of whose descendants eleven thousand males were living
one hundred and fifty years ago, constituting the only hereditary
nobility of China,--a class who for seventy generations were the
recipients of the highest honors and privileges. On the birth of Le, the
duke Ch'aou of Loo sent Confucius a present of a carp, which seems to
indicate that he was already distinguished for his attainments.

At twenty years of age Confucius entered upon political duties, being
the superintendent of cattle, from which, for his fidelity and ability,
he was promoted to the higher office of distributer of grain, having
attracted the attention of his sovereign. At twenty-two he began his
labors as a public teacher, and his house became the resort of
enthusiastic youth who wished to learn the doctrines of antiquity. These
were all that the sage undertook to teach,--not new and original
doctrines of morality or political economy, but only such as were
established from a remote antiquity, going back two thousand years
before he was born. There is no improbability in this alleged antiquity
of the Chinese Empire, for Egypt at this time was a flourishing State.

At twenty-nine years of age Confucius gave his attention to music, which
he studied under a famous master; and to this art he devoted no small
part of his life, writing books and treatises upon it. Six years
afterward, at thirty-five, he had a great desire to travel; and the
reigning duke, in whose service he was as a high officer of state, put
at his disposal a carriage and two horses, to visit the court of the
Emperor, whose sovereignty, however, was only nominal. It does not
appear that Confucius was received with much distinction, nor did he
have much intercourse with the court or the ministers. He was a mere
seeker of knowledge, an inquirer about the ceremonies and maxims of the
founder of the dynasty of Chow, an observer of customs, like Herodotus.
He wandered for eight years among the various provinces of China,
teaching as he went, but without making a great impression. Moreover, he
was regarded with jealousy by the different ministers of princes; one of
them, however, struck with his wisdom and knowledge, wished to retain
him in his service.

On the return of Confucius to Loo, he remained fifteen years without
official employment, his native province being in a state of anarchy.
But he was better employed than in serving princes, prosecuting his
researches into poetry, history, ceremonies, and music,--a born scholar,
with insatiable desire of knowledge. His great gifts and learning,
however, did not allow him to remain without public employment. He was
made governor of an important city. As chief magistrate of this city, he
made a marvellous change in the manners of the people. The duke,
surprised at what he saw, asked if his rules could be employed to
govern a whole State; and Confucius told him that they could be applied
to the government of the Empire. On this the duke appointed him
assistant superintendent of Public Works,--a great office, held only by
members of the ducal family. So many improvements did Confucius make in
agriculture that he was made minister of Justice; and so wonderful was
his management, that soon there was no necessity to put the penal laws
in execution, since no offenders could be found. Confucius held his high
office as minister of Justice for two years longer, and some suppose he
was made prime minister. His authority certainly continued to increase.
He exalted the sovereign, depressed the ministers, and weakened private
families,--just as Richelieu did in France, strengthening the throne at
the expense of the nobility. It would thus seem that his political
reforms were in the direction of absolute monarchy, a needed force in
times of anarchy and demoralization. So great was his fame as a
statesman that strangers came from other States to see him.

These reforms in the state of Loo gave annoyance to the neighboring
princes; and to undermine the influence of Confucius with the duke,
these princes sent the duke a present of eighty beautiful girls,
possessing musical and dancing accomplishments, and also one hundred and
twenty splendid horses. As the duke soon came to think more of his
girls and horses than of his reforms, Confucius became disgusted,
resigned his office, and retired to private life. Then followed thirteen
years of homeless wandering. He was now fifty-six years of age,
depressed and melancholy in view of his failure with princes. He was
accompanied in his travels by some of his favorite disciples, to whom he
communicated his wisdom.

But his fame preceded him wherever he journeyed, and such was the
respect for his character and teachings that he was loaded with presents
by the people, and was left unmolested to do as he pleased. The
dissoluteness of courts filled him with indignation and disgust; and he
was heard to exclaim on one occasion, "I have not seen one who loves
virtue as he loves beauty,"--meaning the beauty of women. The love of
the beautiful, in an artistic sense, is a Greek and not an
Oriental idea.

In the meantime Confucius continued his wanderings from city to city and
State to State, with a chosen band of disciples, all of whom became
famous. He travelled for the pursuit of knowledge, and to impress the
people with his doctrines. A certain one of his followers was questioned
by a prince as to the merits and peculiarities of his master, but was
afraid to give a true answer. The sage hearing of it, said, "You should
have told him, He is simply a man who in his eager pursuit of knowledge
forgets his food, who in the joy of his attainments forgets his sorrows,
and who does not perceive that old age is coming on." How seldom is it
that any man reaches such a height! In a single sentence the philosopher
describes himself truly and impressively.

At last, in the year 491 B.C., a new sovereign reigned in Loo, and with
costly presents invited Confucius to return to his native State. The
philosopher was now sixty-nine years of age, and notwithstanding the
respect in which he was held, the world cannot be said to have dealt
kindly with him. It is the fate of prophets and sages to be rejected.
The world will not bear rebukes. Even a friend, if discreet, will rarely
venture to tell another friend his faults. Confucius told the truth when
pressed, but he does not seem to have courted martyrdom; and his manners
and speech were too bland, too proper, too unobtrusive to give much
offence. Luther was aided in his reforms by his very roughness and
boldness, but he was surrounded by a different class of people from
those whom Confucius sought to influence. Conventional, polite,
considerate, and a great respecter of persons in authority was the
Chinese sage. A rude, abrupt, and fierce reformer would have had no
weight with the most courteous and polite people of whom history speaks;
whose manners twenty-five hundred years ago were substantially the same
as they are at the present day,--a people governed by the laws of
propriety alone.

The few remaining years of Confucius' life were spent in revising his
writings; but his latter days were made melancholy by dwelling on the
evils of the world that he could not remove. Disappointment also had
made him cynical and bitter, like Solomon of old, although from
different causes. He survived his son and his most beloved disciples. As
he approached the dark valley he uttered no prayer, and betrayed no
apprehension. Death to him was a rest. He died at the age of

In the tenth book of his Analects we get a glimpse of the habits of the
philosopher. He was a man of rule and ceremony.-He was particular about
his dress and appearance. He was no ascetic, but moderate and temperate.
He lived chiefly on rice, like the rest of his countrymen, but required
to have his rice cooked nicely, and his meat cut properly. He drank wine
freely, but was never known to have obscured his faculties by this
indulgence. I do not read that tea was then in use. He was charitable
and hospitable, but not ostentatious. He generally travelled in a
carriage with two horses, driven by one of his disciples; but a carriage
in those days was like one of our carts. In his village, it is said, he
looked simple and sincere, as if he were one not able to speak; when
waiting at court, or speaking with officers of an inferior grade, he
spoke freely, but in a straightforward manner; with officers of a
higher, grade he spoke blandly, but precisely; with the prince he was
grave, but self-possessed. When eating he did not converse; when in bed
he did not speak. If his mat were not straight he did not sit on it.
When a friend sent him a present he did not bow; the only present for
which he bowed was that of the flesh of sacrifice. He was capable of
excessive grief, with all his placidity. When his favorite pupil died,
he exclaimed, "Heaven is destroying me!" His disciples on this said,
"Sir, your grief is excessive." "It is excessive," he replied. "If I am
not to mourn bitterly for this man, for whom should I mourn?"

The reigning prince of Loo caused a temple to be erected over the
remains of Confucius, and the number of his disciples continually
increased. The emperors of the falling dynasty of Chow had neither the
intelligence nor the will to do honor to the departed philosopher, but
the emperors of the succeeding dynasties did all they could to
perpetuate his memory. During his life Confucius found ready acceptance
for his doctrines, and was everywhere revered among the people, though
not uniformly appreciated by the rulers, nor able permanently to
establish the reforms he inaugurated. After his death, however, no honor
was too great to be rendered him. The most splendid temple in China was
built over his grave, and he received a homage little removed from
worship. His writings became a sacred rule of faith and practice;
schools were based upon them, and scholars devoted themselves to their
interpretation. For two thousand years Confucius has reigned
supreme,--the undisputed teacher of a population of three or four
hundred millions.

Confucius must be regarded as a man of great humility, conscious of
infirmities and faults, but striving after virtue and perfection. He
said of himself, "I have striven to become a man of perfect virtue, and
to teach others without weariness; but the character of the superior
man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not
attained to. I am not one born in the possession of knowledge, but I am
one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there. I am a
transmitter, and not a maker." If he did not lay claim to divine
illumination, he felt that he was born into the world for a special
purpose; not to declare new truths, not to initiate any new ceremony,
but to confirm what he felt was in danger of being lost,--the most
conservative of all known reformers.

Confucius left behind voluminous writings, of which his Analects, his
book of Poetry, his book of History, and his Rules of Propriety are the
most important. It is these which are now taught, and have been taught
for two thousand years, in the schools and colleges of China. The
Chinese think that no man so great and perfect as he has ever lived. His
writings are held in the same veneration that Christians attach to their
own sacred literature. There is this one fundamental difference between
the authors of the Bible and the Chinese sage,--that he did not like to
talk of spiritual things; indeed, of them he was ignorant, professing no
interest in relation to the working out of abstruse questions, either of
philosophy or theology. He had no taste or capacity for such inquiries.
Hence, he did not aspire to throw any new light on the great problems of
human condition and destiny; nor did he speculate, like the Ionian
philosophers, on the creation or end of things. He was not troubled
about the origin or destiny of man. He meddled neither with physics nor
metaphysics, but he earnestly and consistently strove to bring to light
and to enforce those principles which had made remote generations wise
and virtuous. He confined his attention to outward phenomena,--to the
world of sense and matter; to forms, precedents, ceremonies,
proprieties, rules of conduct, filial duties, and duties to the State;
enjoining temperance, honesty, and sincerity as the cardinal and
fundamental laws of private and national prosperity. He was no prophet
of wrath, though living in a corrupt age. He utters no anathemas on
princes, and no woes on peoples. Nor does he glow with exalted hopes of
a millennium of bliss, or of the beatitudes of a future state. He was
not stern and indignant like Elijah, but more like the courtier and
counsellor Elisha. He was a man of the world, and all his teachings have
reference to respectability in the world's regard. He doubted more than
he believed.

And yet in many of his sayings Confucius rises to an exalted height,
considering his age and circumstances. Some of them remind us of some of
the best Proverbs of Solomon. In general, we should say that to his mind
filial piety and fraternal submission were the foundation of all
virtuous practices, and absolute obedience to rulers the primal
principle of government. He was eminently a peace man, discouraging wars
and violence. He was liberal and tolerant in his views. He said that the
"superior man is catholic and no partisan." Duke Gae asked, "What should
be done to secure the submission of the people?" The sage replied,
"Advance the upright, and set aside the crooked; then the people will
submit. But advance the crooked, and set aside the upright, and the
people will not submit." Again he said, "It is virtuous manners which
constitute the excellence of a neighborhood; therefore fix your
residence where virtuous manners prevail." The following sayings remind
me of Epictetus: "A scholar whose mind is set on truth, and who is
ashamed of bad clothes and bad food, is not fit to be discoursed with. A
man should say, 'I am not concerned that I have no place,--I am
concerned how I may fit myself for one. I am not concerned that I am not
known; I seek to be worthy to be known.'" Here Confucius looks to the
essence of things, not to popular desires. In the following, on the
other hand, he shows his prudence and policy: "In serving a prince,
frequent remonstrances lead to disgrace; between friends, frequent
reproofs make the friendship distant." Thus he talks like Solomon.
"Tsae-yu, one of his disciples, being asleep in the day-time, the master
said, 'Rotten wood cannot be carved. This Yu--what is the use of my
reproving him?'" Of a virtuous prince, he said: "In his conduct of
himself, he was humble; in serving his superiors, he was respectful; in
nourishing the people, he was kind; in ordering the people, he
was just."

It was discussed among his followers what it is to be distinguished. One
said: "It is to be heard of through the family and State." The master
replied: "That is notoriety, not distinction." Again he said: "Though a
man may be able to recite three hundred odes, yet if when intrusted with
office he does not know how to act, of what practical use is his
poetical knowledge?" Again, "If a minister cannot rectify himself, what
has he to do with rectifying others?" There is great force in this
saying: "The superior man is easy to serve and difficult to please,
since you cannot please him in any way which is not accordant with
right; but the mean man is difficult to serve and easy to please. The
superior man has a dignified ease without pride; the mean man has pride
without a dignified ease." A disciple asked him what qualities a man
must possess to entitle him to be called a scholar. The master said: "He
must be earnest, urgent, and bland,--among his friends earnest and
urgent, among his brethren bland." And, "The scholar who cherishes a
love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar." "If a man," he said,
"take no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at
hand." And again, "He who requires much from himself and little from
others, he will keep himself from being an object of resentment." These
proverbs remind us of Bacon: "Specious words confound virtue." "Want of
forbearance in small matters confound great plans." "Virtue," the master
said, "is more to man than either fire or water. I have seen men die
from treading on water or fire, but I have never seen a man die from
treading the course of virtue." This is a lofty sentiment, but I think
it is not in accordance with the records of martyrdom. "There are three
things," he continued, "which the superior man guards against: In youth
he guards against his passions, in manhood against quarrelsomeness, and
in old age against covetousness."

I do not find anything in the sayings of Confucius that can be called
cynical, such as we find in some of the Proverbs of Solomon, even in
reference to women, where women were, as in most Oriental countries,
despised. The most that approaches cynicism is in such a remark as this:
"I have not yet seen one who could perceive his faults and inwardly
accuse himself." His definition of perfect virtue is above that of
Paley: "The man of virtue makes the difficulty to be overcome his first
business, and success only a secondary consideration." Throughout his
writings there is no praise of success without virtue, and no
disparagement of want of success with virtue. Nor have I found in his
sayings a sentiment which may be called demoralizing. He always takes
the higher ground, and with all his ceremony ever exalts inward purity
above all external appearances. There is a quaint common-sense in some
of his writings which reminds one of the sayings of Abraham Lincoln. For
instance: One of his disciples asked, "If you had the conduct of
armies, whom would you have to act with you?" The master replied: "I
would not have him to act with me who will unarmed attack a tiger, or
cross a river without a boat." Here something like wit and irony break
out: "A man of the village said, 'Great is K'ung the philosopher; his
learning is extensive, and yet he does not render his name famous by any
particular thing.' The master heard this observation, and said to his
disciples: 'What shall I practise, charioteering or archery? I will
practise charioteering.'"

When the Duke of Loo asked about government, the master said: "Good
government exists when those who are near are made happy, and when those
who are far off are attracted." When the Duke questioned him again on
the same subject, he replied: "Go before the people with your example,
and be laborious in their affairs.... Pardon small faults, and raise to
office men of virtue and talents." "But how shall I know the men of
virtue?" asked the duke. "Raise to office those whom you do know," The
key to his political philosophy seems to be this: "A man who knows how
to govern himself, knows how to govern others; and he who knows how to
govern other men, knows how to govern an empire." "The art of
government," he said, "is to keep its affairs before the mind without
weariness, and to practise them with undeviating constancy.... To
govern means to rectify. If you lead on the people with correctness,
who will not dare to be correct?" This is one of his favorite
principles; namely, the force of a good example,--as when the reigning
prince asked him how to do away with thieves, he replied: "If you, Sir,
were not covetous, although you should reward them to do it, they would
not steal." This was not intended as a rebuke to the prince, but an
illustration of the force of a great example. Confucius rarely openly
rebuked any one, especially a prince, whom it was his duty to venerate
for his office. He contented himself with enforcing principles. Here his
moderation and great courtesy are seen.

Confucius sometimes soared to the highest morality known to the Pagan
world. Chung-kung asked about perfect virtue. The master said: "It is
when you go abroad, to behave to every one as if you were receiving a
great guest, to have no murmuring against you in the country and family,
and not to do to others as you would not wish done to yourself.... The
superior man has neither anxiety nor fear. Let him never fail
reverentially to order his own conduct, and let him be respectful to
others and observant of propriety; then all within the four seas will be
brothers.... Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles, and be
moving continually to what is right." Fan-Chi asked about benevolence;
the master said: "It is to love all men." Another asked about
friendship. Confucius replied: "Faithfully admonish your friend, and
kindly try to lead him. If you find him impracticable, stop. Do not
disgrace yourself." This saying reminds us of that of our great Master:
"Cast not your pearls before swine." There is no greater folly than in
making oneself disagreeable without any probability of reformation. Some
one asked: "What do you say about the treatment of injuries?" The master
answered: "Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with
kindness." Here again he was not far from the greater Teacher on the
Mount "When a man's knowledge is sufficient to attain and his virtue is
not sufficient to hold, whatever he may have gained he will lose again."
One of the favorite doctrines of Confucius was the superiority of the
ancients to the men of his day. Said he: "The high-mindedness of
antiquity showed itself in a disregard of small things; that of the
present day shows itself in license. The stern dignity of antiquity
showed itself in grave reserve; that of the present shows itself in
quarrelsome perverseness. The policy of antiquity showed itself in
straightforwardness; that of the present in deceit." The following is a
saying worthy of Montaigne: "Of all people, girls and servants are the
most difficult to behave to. If you are familiar with them, they lose
their humility; if you maintain reserve to them, they are discontented."

Such are some of the sayings of Confucius, on account of which he was
regarded as the wisest of his countrymen; and as his conduct was in
harmony with his principles, he was justly revered as a pattern of
morality. The greatest virtues which he enjoined were sincerity,
truthfulness, and obedience to duty whatever may be the sacrifice; to do
right because it is right and not because it is expedient; filial piety
extending to absolute reverence; and an equal reverence for rulers. He
had no theology; he confounded God with heaven and earth. He says
nothing about divine providence; he believed in nothing supernatural. He
thought little and said less about a future state of rewards and
punishments. His morality was elevated, but not supernal. We infer from
his writings that his age was degenerate and corrupt, but, as we have
already said, his reproofs were gentle. Blandness of speech and manners
was his distinguishing outward peculiarity; and this seems to
characterize his nation,--whether learned from him, or whether an inborn
national peculiarity, I do not know. He went through great trials most
creditably, but he was no martyr. He constantly complained that his
teachings fell on listless ears, which made him sad and discouraged; but
he never flagged in his labors to improve his generation. He had no
egotism, but great self-respect, reminding us of Michael Angelo. He was
humble but full of dignity, serene though distressed, cheerful but not
hilarious. Were he to live among us now, we should call him a perfect
gentleman, with aristocratic sympathies, but more autocratic in his
views of government and society than aristocratic. He seems to have
loved the people, and was kind, even respectful, to everybody. When he
visited a school, it is said that he arose in quiet deference to speak
to the children, since some of the boys, he thought, would probably be
distinguished and powerful at no distant day. He was also remarkably
charitable, and put a greater value on virtues and abilities than upon
riches and honors. Though courted by princes he would not serve them in
violation of his self-respect, asked no favors, and returned their
presents. If he did not live above the world, he adorned the world. We
cannot compare his teachings with those of Christ; they are immeasurably
inferior in loftiness and spirituality; but they are worldly wise and
decorous, and are on an equality with those of Solomon in moral wisdom.
They are wonderfully adapted to a people who are conservative of their
institutions, and who have more respect for tradition than for progress.

The worship of ancestors is closely connected with veneration for
parental authority; and with absolute obedience to parents is allied
absolute obedience to the Emperor as head of the State. Hence, the
writings of Confucius have tended to cement the Chinese imperial
power,--in which fact we may perhaps find the secret of his
extraordinary posthumous influence. No wonder that emperors and rulers
have revered and honored his memory, and used the power of the State to
establish his doctrines. Moreover, his exaltation of learning as a
necessity for rulers has tended to put all the offices of the realm into
the hands of scholars. There never was a country where scholars have
been and still are so generally employed by Government. And as men of
learning are conservative in their sympathies, so they generally are
fond of peace and detest war. Hence, under the influence of scholars the
policy of the Chinese Government has always been mild and pacific. It is
even paternal. It has more similarity to the governments of a remote
antiquity than that of any existing nation. Thus is the influence of
Confucius seen in the stability of government and of conservative
institutions, as well as in decency in the affairs of life, and
gentleness and courtesy of manners. Above all is his influence seen in
the employment of men of learning and character in the affairs of state
and in all the offices of government, as the truest guardians of
whatever tends to exalt a State and make it respectable and stable, if
not powerful for war or daring in deeds of violence.

Confucius was essentially a statesman as well as a moralist; but his
political career was an apparent failure, since few princes listened to
his instructions. Yet if he was lost to his contemporaries, he has been
preserved by posterity. Perhaps there never lived a man so worshipped by
posterity who had so slight a following by the men of his own
time,--unless we liken him to that greatest of all Prophets, who, being
despised and rejected, is, and is to be, the "headstone of the corner"
in the rebuilding of humanity. Confucius says so little about the
subjects that interested the people of China that some suppose he had no
religion at all. Nor did he mention but once in his writings Shang-te,
the supreme deity of his remote ancestors; and he deduced nothing from
the worship of him. And yet there are expressions in his sayings which
seem to show that he believed in a supreme power. He often spoke of
Heaven, and loved to walk in the heavenly way. Heaven to him was
Destiny, by the power of which the world was created. By Heaven the
virtuous are rewarded, and the guilty are punished. Out of love for the
people, Heaven appoints rulers to protect and instruct them. Prayer is
unnecessary, because Heaven does not actively interfere with the soul
of man.

Confucius was philosophical and consistent in the all-pervading
principle by which he insisted upon the common source of power in
government,--of the State, of the family, and of one's self.
Self-knowledge and self-control he maintained to be the fountain of all
personal virtue and attainment in performance of the moral duties owed
to others, whether above or below in social standing. He supposed that
all men are born equally good, but that the temptations of the world at
length destroy the original rectitude. The "superior man," who next to
the "sage" holds the highest place in the Confucian humanity, conquers
the evil in the world, though subject to infirmities; his acts are
guided by the laws of propriety, and are marked by strict sincerity.
Confucius admitted that he himself had failed to reach the level of the
superior man. This admission may have been the result of his
extraordinary humility and modesty.

In "The Great Learning" Confucius lays down the rules to enable one to
become a superior man. The foundation of his rules is in the
investigation of things, or _knowledge_, with which virtue is
indissolubly connected,--as in the ethics of Socrates. He maintained
that no attainment can be made, and no virtue can remain untainted,
without learning. "Without this, benevolence becomes folly, sincerity
recklessness, straightforwardness rudeness, and firmness foolishness."
But mere accumulation of facts was not knowledge, for "learning without
thought is labor lost; and thought without learning is perilous."
Complete wisdom was to be found only among the ancient sages; by no
mental endeavor could any man hope to equal the supreme wisdom of Yaou
and of Shun. The object of learning, he said, should be truth; and the
combination of learning with a firm will, will surely lead a man to
virtue. Virtue must be free from all hypocrisy and guile.

The next step towards perfection is the _cultivation of the
person_,--which must begin with introspection, and ends in harmonious
outward expression. Every man must guard his thoughts, words, and
actions; and conduct must agree with words. By words the superior man
directs others; but in order to do this his words must be sincere. It by
no means follows, however, that virtue is the invariable concomitant of
plausible speech.

The height of virtue is _filial piety_; for this is connected
indissolubly with loyalty to the sovereign, who is the father of his
people and the preserver of the State. Loyalty to the sovereign is
synonymous with duty, and is outwardly shown by obedience. Next to
parents, all superiors should be the object of reverence. This
reverence, it is true, should be reciprocal; a sovereign forfeits all
right to reverence and obedience when he ceases to be a minister of
good. But then, only the man who has developed virtues in himself is
considered competent to rule a family or a State; for the same virtues
which enable a man to rule the one, will enable him to rule the other.
No man can teach others who cannot teach his own family. The greatest
stress, as we have seen, is laid by Confucius on filial piety, which
consists in obedience to authority,--in serving parents according to
propriety, that is, with the deepest affection, and the father of the
State with loyalty. But while it is incumbent on a son to obey the
wishes of his parents, it is also a part of his duty to remonstrate with
them should they act contrary to the rules of propriety. All
remonstrances, however, must be made humbly. Should these remonstrances
fail, the son must mourn in silence the obduracy of the parents. He
carried the obligations of filial piety so far as to teach that a son
should conceal the immorality of a father, forgetting the distinction of
right and wrong. Brotherly love is the sequel of filial piety. "Happy,"
says he, "is the union with wife and children; it is like the music of
lutes and harps. The love which binds brother to brother is second only
to that which is due from children to parents. It consists in mutual
friendship, joyful harmony, and dutiful obedience on the part of the
younger to the elder brothers."

While obedience is exacted to an elder brother and to parents, Confucius
said but little respecting the ties which should bind husband and wife.
He had but little respect for woman, and was divorced from his wife
after living with her for a year. He looked on women as every way
inferior to men, and only to be endured as necessary evils. It was not
until a woman became a mother, that she was treated with respect in
China. Hence, according to Confucius, the great object of marriage is to
increase the family, especially to give birth to sons. Women could be
lawfully and properly divorced who had no children,--which put women
completely in the power of men, and reduced them to the condition of
slaves. The failure to recognize the sanctity of marriage is the great
blot on the system of Confucius as a scheme of morals.

But the sage exalts friendship. Everybody, from the Emperor downward,
must have friends; and the best friends are those allied by ties of
blood. "Friends," said he, "are wealth to the poor, strength to the
weak, and medicine to the sick." One of the strongest bonds to
friendship is literature and literary exertion. Men are enjoined by
Confucius to make friends among the most virtuous of scholars, even as
they are enjoined to take service under the most worthy of great
officers. In the intercourse of friends, the most unbounded sincerity
and frankness is imperatively enjoined. "He who is not trusted by his
friends will not gain the confidence of the sovereign, and he who is not
obedient to parents will not be trusted by friends."

Everything is subordinated to the State; but, on the other hand, the
family, friends, culture, virtue,--the good of the people,--is the main
object of good government. "No virtue," said Emperor Kuh, 2435 B.C.,
"is higher than love to all men, and there is no loftier aim in
government than to profit all men." When he was asked what should be
done for the people, he replied, "Enrich them;" and when asked what more
should be done, he replied, "Teach them." On these two principles the
whole philosophy of the sage rested,--the temporal welfare of the
people, and their education. He laid great stress on knowledge, as
leading to virtue; and on virtue, as leading to prosperity. He made the
profession of a teacher the most honorable calling to which a citizen
could aspire. He himself was a teacher. All sages are teachers, though
all teachers are not sages.

Confucius enlarged upon the necessity of having good men in office. The
officials of his day excited his contempt, and reciprocally scorned his
teachings. It was in contrast to these officials that he painted the
ideal times of Kings Wan and Woo. The two motive-powers of government,
according to Confucius, are righteousness and the observance of
ceremonies. Righteousness is the law of the world, as ceremonies form a
rule to the heart. What he meant by ceremonies was rules of propriety,
intended to keep all unruly passions in check, and produce a
reverential manner among all classes. Doubtless he over-estimated the
force of example, since there are men in every country and community who
will be lawless and reckless, in spite of the best models of character
and conduct.

The ruling desire of Confucius was to make the whole empire peaceful and
happy. The welfare of the people, the right government of the State, and
the prosperity of the empire were the main objects of his solicitude. As
conducive to these, he touched on many other things incidentally,--such
as the encouragement of music, of which he was very fond. He himself
summed up the outcome of his rules for conduct in this prohibitive form:
"Do not unto others that which you would not have them do to you." Here
we have the negative side of the positive "golden rule." Reciprocity,
and that alone, was his law of life. He does not inculcate forgiveness
of injuries, but exacts a tooth for a tooth, and an eye for an eye.

As to his own personal character, it was nearly faultless. His humility
and patience were alike remarkable, and his sincerity and candor were as
marked as his humility. He was the most learned man in the empire, yet
lamented the deficiency of his knowledge. He even disclaimed the
qualities of the superior man, much more those of the sage. "I am,"
said he, "not virtuous enough to be free from cares, nor wise enough to
be free from anxieties, nor bold enough to be free from fear." He was
always ready to serve his sovereign or the State; but he neither grasped
office, nor put forward his own merits, nor sought to advance his own
interests. He was grave, generous, tolerant, and sincere. He carried
into practice all the rules he taught. Poverty was his lot in life, but
he never repined at the absence of wealth, or lost the severe dignity
which is ever to be associated with wisdom and the force of personal
character. Indeed, his greatness was in his character rather than in his
genius; and yet I think his genius has been underrated. His greatness is
seen in the profound devotion of his followers to him, however lofty
their merits or exalted their rank. No one ever disputed his influence
and fame; and his moral excellence shines all the brighter in view of
the troublous times in which he lived, when warriors occupied the stage,
and men of letters were driven behind the scenes.

The literary labors of Confucius were very great, since he made the
whole classical literature of China accessible to his countrymen. The
fame of all preceding writers is merged in his own renown. His works
have had the highest authority for more than two thousand years. They
have been regarded as the exponents of supreme wisdom, and adopted as
text-books by all scholars and in all schools in that vast empire,
which includes one-fourth of the human race. To all educated men the
"Book of Changes" (Yin-King), the "Book of Poetry" (She-King), the "Book
of History" (Shoo-King), the "Book of Rites" (Le-King), the "Great
Learning" (Ta-heo), showing the parental essence of all government, the
"Doctrine of the Mean" (Chung-yung), teaching the "golden mean" of
conduct, and the "Confucian Analects" (Lun-yu), recording his
conversations, are supreme authorities; to which must be added the Works
of Mencius, the greatest of his disciples. There is no record of any
books that have exacted such supreme reverence in any nation as the
Works of Confucius, except the Koran of the Mohammedans, the Book of the
Law among the Hebrews, and the Bible among the Christians. What an
influence for one man to have exerted on subsequent ages, who laid no
claim to divinity or even originality,--recognized as a man,
worshipped as a god!

No sooner had the sun of Confucius set under a cloud (since sovereigns
and princes had neglected if they had not scorned his precepts), than
his memory and principles were duly honored. But it was not until the
accession of the Han dynasty, 206 B.C., that the reigning emperor
collected the scattered writings of the sage, and exerted his vast power
to secure the study of them throughout the schools of China. It must be
borne in mind that a hostile emperor of the preceding dynasty had
ordered the books of Confucius to be burned; but they were secreted by
his faithful admirers in the walls of houses and beneath the ground.
Succeeding emperors heaped additional honors on the memory of the sage,
and in the early part of the sixteenth century an emperor of the Ming
dynasty gave him the title which he at present bears in China,--"The
perfect sage, the ancient teacher, Confucius." No higher title could be
conferred upon him in a land where to be "ancient" is to be revered. For
more than twelve hundred years temples have been erected to his honor,
and his worship has been universal throughout the empire. His maxims of
morality have appealed to human consciousness in every succeeding
generation, and carry as much weight to-day as they did when the Han
dynasty made them the standard of human wisdom. They were especially
adapted to the Chinese intellect, which although shrewd and ingenious is
phlegmatic, unspeculative, matter-of-fact, and unspiritual. Moreover, as
we have said, it was to the interest of rulers to support his doctrines,
from the constant exhortations to loyalty which Confucius enjoined. And
yet there is in his precepts a democratic influence also, since he
recognized no other titles or ranks but such as are won by personal
merit,--thus opening every office in the State to the learned, whatever
their original social rank. The great political truth that the welfare
of the people is the first duty and highest aim of rulers, has endeared
the memory of the sage to the unnumbered millions who toil upon the
scantiest means of subsistence that have been known in any
nation's history.

This essay on the religion of the Chinese would be incomplete without
some allusion to one of the contemporaries of Confucius, who spiritually
and intellectually was probably his superior, and to whom even Confucius
paid extraordinary deference. This man was called Lao-tse, a recluse and
philosopher, who was already an old man when Confucius began his
travels. He was the founder of Tao-tze, a kind of rationalism, which at
present has millions of adherents in China. This old philosopher did not
receive Confucius very graciously, since the younger man declared
nothing new, only wishing to revive the teachings of ancient sages,
while he himself was a great awakener of thought. He was, like
Confucius, a politico-ethical teacher, but unlike him sought to lead
people back to a state of primitive society before forms and regulations
existed. He held that man's nature was good, and that primitive
pleasures and virtues were better than worldly wisdom. He maintained
that spiritual weapons cannot be formed by laws and regulations, and
that prohibiting enactments tended to increase the evils they were
meant to avert. While this great and profound man was in some respects
superior to Confucius, his influence has been most seen on the inferior
people of China. Taoism rivals Buddhism as the religion of the lower
classes, and Taoism combined with Buddhism has more adherents than
Confucianism. But the wise, the mighty, and the noble still cling to
Confucius as the greatest man whom China has produced.

Of spiritual religion, indeed, the lower millions of Chinese have now
but little conception; their nearest approach to any supernaturalism is
the worship of deceased ancestors, and their religious observances are
the grossest formalism. But as a practical system of morals in the days
of its early establishment, the religion of Confucius ranks very high
among the best developments of Paganism. Certainly no man ever had a
deeper knowledge of his countrymen than he, or adapted his doctrines to
the peculiar needs of their social organism with such amazing tact.

It is a remarkable thing that all the religions of antiquity have
practically passed away, with their cities and empires, except among the
Hindus and Chinese; and it is doubtful if these religions can withstand
the changes which foreign conquest and Christian missionary enterprise
and civilization are producing. In the East the old religions gave place
to Mohamedanism, as in the West they disappeared before the power of
Christianity. And these conquering religions retain and extend their
hold upon the human mind and human affections by reason of their
fundamental principles,--the fatherhood of a personal God, and the
brotherhood of universal man. With the ideas prevalent among all sects
that God is not only supreme in power, but benevolent in his providence,
and that every man has claims and rights which cannot be set aside by
kings or rulers or priests,--nations must indefinitely advance in virtue
and happiness, as they receive and live by the inspiration of this
elevating faith.

* * * * *


Religion in China, by Joseph Edkins, D.D.; Rawlinson's Religions of the
Ancient World; Freeman Clarke's Ten Great Religions; Johnson's Oriental
Religions; Davis's Chinese; Nevins's China and the Chinese; Giles's
Chinese Sketches; Lenormant's Ancient History of the East; Hue's
Christianity in China; Legge's Prolegomena to the Shoo-King; Lecomte's
China; Dr. S. Wells Williams's Middle Kingdom; China, by Professor
Douglas; The Religions of China, by James Legge.



Whatever may be said of the inferiority of the ancients to the moderns
in natural and mechanical science, which no one is disposed to question,
or even in the realm of literature, which may be questioned, there was
one department of knowledge to which we have added nothing of
consequence. In the realm of art they were our equals, and probably our
superiors; in philosophy, they carried logical deduction to its utmost
limit. They advanced from a few crude speculations on material phenomena
to an analysis of all the powers of the mind, and finally to the
establishment of ethical principles which even Christianity did not

The progress of philosophy from Thales to Plato is the most stupendous
triumph of the human intellect. The reason of man soared to the loftiest
flights that it has ever attained. It cast its searching eye into the
most abstruse inquiries which ever tasked the famous minds of the
world. It exhausted all the subjects which dialectical subtlety ever
raised. It originated and carried out the boldest speculations
respecting the nature of the soul and its future existence. It
established important psychological truths and created a method for the
solution of abstruse questions. It went on from point to point, until
all the faculties of the mind were severely analyzed, and all its
operations were subjected to a rigid method. The Romans never added a
single principle to the philosophy which the Greeks elaborated; the
ingenious scholastics of the Middle Ages merely reproduced Greek ideas;
and even the profound and patient Germans have gone round in the same
circles that Plato and Aristotle marked out more than two thousand years
ago. Only the Brahmans of India have equalled them in intellectual
subtilty and acumen. It was Greek philosophy in which noble Roman youths
were educated; and hence, as it was expounded by a Cicero, a Marcus
Aurelius, and an Epictetus, it was as much the inheritance of the Romans
as it was of the Greeks themselves, after Grecian liberties were swept
away and Greek cities became a part of the Roman empire. The Romans
learned what the Greeks created and taught; and philosophy, as well as
art, became identified with the civilization which extended from the
Rhine and the Po to the Nile and the Tigris.

Greek philosophy was one of the distinctive features of ancient
civilization long after the Greeks had ceased to speculate on the laws
of mind or the nature of the soul, on the existence of God or future
rewards and punishments. Although it was purely Grecian in its origin
and development, it became one of the grand ornaments of the Roman
schools. The Romans did not originate medicine, but Galen was one of its
greatest lights; they did not invent the hexameter verse, but Virgil
sang to its measure; they did not create Ionic capitals, but their
cities were ornamented with marble temples on the same principles as
those which called out the admiration of Pericles. So, if they did not
originate philosophy, and generally had but little taste for it, still
its truths were systematized and explained by Cicero, and formed no
small accession to the treasures with which cultivated intellects sought
everywhere to be enriched. It formed an essential part of the
intellectual wealth of the civilized world, when civilization could not
prevent the world from falling into decay and ruin. And as it was the
noblest triumph which the human mind, under Pagan influences, ever
achieved, so it was followed by the most degrading imbecility into which
man, in civilized countries, was ever allowed to fall. Philosophy, like
art, like literature, like science, arose, shone, grew dim, and passed
away, leaving the world in night. Why was so bright a glory followed by
so dismal a shame? What a comment is this on the greatness and
littleness of man!

In all probability the development of Greek philosophy originated with
the Ionian Sophoi, though many suppose it was derived from the East. It
is questionable whether the Oriental nations had any philosophy distinct
from religion. The Germans are fond of tracing resemblances in the early
speculations of the Greeks to the systems which prevailed in Asia from a
very remote antiquity. Gladish sees in the Pythagorean system an
adoption of Chinese doctrines; in the Heraclitic system, the influence
of Persia; in the Empedoclean, Egyptian speculations; and in the
Anaxagorean, the Jewish creeds. But the Orientals had theogonies, not
philosophies. The Indian speculations aim at an exposition of ancient
revelation. They profess to liberate the soul from the evils of mortal
life,--to arrive at eternal beatitudes. But the state of perfectibility
could be reached only by religious ceremonial observances and devout
contemplation. The Indian systems do not disdain logical discussions, or
a search after the principles of which the universe is composed; and
hence we find great refinements in sophistry, and a wonderful subtilty
of logical discussion, though these are directed to unattainable
ends,--to the connection of good with evil, and the union of the Supreme
with Nature. Nothing seemed to come out of these speculations but an
occasional elevation of mind among the learned, and a profound
conviction of the misery of man and the obstacles to his perfection. The
Greeks, starting from physical phenomena, went on in successive series
of inquiries, elevating themselves above matter, above experience, even
to the loftiest abstractions, until they classified the laws of thought.
It is curious how speculation led to demonstration, and how inquiries
into the world of matter prepared the way for the solution of
intellectual phenomena. Philosophy kept pace with geometry, and those
who observed Nature also gloried in abstruse calculations. Philosophy
and mathematics seem to have been allied with the worship of art among
the same men, and it is difficult to say which more distinguished
them,--aesthetic culture or power of abstruse reasoning.

We do not read of any remarkable philosophical inquirer until Thales
arose, the first of the Ionian school. He was born at Miletus, a Greek
colony in Asia Minor, about the year 636 B.C., when Ancus Martius was
king of Rome, and Josiah reigned at Jerusalem. He has left no writings
behind him, but was numbered as one of the seven wise men of Greece on
account of his political sagacity and wisdom in public affairs. I do not
here speak of his astronomical and geometrical labors, which were great,
and which have left their mark even upon our own daily life,--as, for
instance, in the fact that he was the first to have divided the year
into three hundred and sixty-five days.

"And he, 'tis said, did first compute the stars
Which beam in Charles's wain, and guide the bark
Of the Phoenecian sailor o'er the sea."

He is celebrated also for practical wisdom. "Know thyself," is one of
his remarkable sayings. The chief claim of Thales to a lofty rank among
sages, however, is that he was the first who attempted a logical
solution of material phenomena, without resorting to mythical
representations. Thales felt that there was a grand question to be
answered relative to the _beginning of things._ "Philosophy," it has
been well said, "maybe a history of _errors_^ but not of _follies_". It
was not a folly, in a rude age, to speculate on the first or fundamental
principle of things. Thales looked around him upon Nature, upon the sea
and earth and sky, and concluded that water or moisture was the vital
principle. He felt it in the air, he saw it in the clouds above and in
the ground beneath his feet. He saw that plants were sustained by rain
and by the dew, that neither animal nor man could live without water,
and that to fishes it was the native element. What more important or
vital than water? It was the _prima materia_, the [Greek: archae] the
beginning of all things,--the origin of the world. How so crude a
speculation could have been maintained by so wise a man it is difficult
to conjecture. It is not, however, the cause which he assigns for the
beginning of things which is noteworthy, so much as the fact that his
mind was directed to any solution of questions pertaining to the origin
of the universe. It was these questions, and the solution of them, which
marked the Ionian philosophers, and which showed the inquiring nature of
their minds. What is the great first cause of all things? Thales saw it
in one of the four elements of Nature as the ancients divided them; and
this is the earliest recorded theory among the Greeks of the origin of
the world. It is an induction from one of the phenomena of animated
Nature,--the nutrition and production of a seed. He regarded the entire
world in the light of a living being gradually maturing and forming
itself from an imperfect seed-state, which was of a moist nature. This
moisture endues the universe with vitality. The world, he thought, was
full of gods, but they had their origin in water. He had no conception
of God as _intelligence_, or as a _creative_ power. He had a great and
inquiring mind, but it gave him no knowledge of a spiritual,
controlling, and personal deity.

Anaximenes, the disciple of Thales, pursued his master's inquiries and
adopted his method. He also was born in Miletus, but at what time is
unknown,--probably 500 B.C. Like Thales, he held to the eternity of
matter. Like him, he disbelieved in the existence of anything
immaterial, for even a human soul is formed out of matter. He, too,
speculated on the origin of the universe, but thought that _air_, not
water, was the primal cause. This element seems to be universal. We
breathe it; all things are sustained by it. It is Life,--that is,
pregnant with vital energy, and capable of infinite transmutations. All
things are produced by it; all is again resolved into it; it supports
all things; it surrounds the world; it has infinitude; it has eternal
motion. Thus did this philosopher reason, comparing the world with our
own living existence,--which he took to be air,--an imperishable
principle of life. He thus advanced a step beyond Thales, since he
regarded the world not after the analogy of an imperfect seed-state, but
after that of the highest condition of life,--the human soul. And he
attempted to refer to one general law all the transformations of the
first simple substance into its successive states, in that the cause of
change is the eternal motion of the air.

Diogenes of Apollonia, in Crete, one of the disciples of Anaximenes,
born 500 B.C., also believed that air was the principle of the
universe, but he imputed to it an intellectual energy, yet without
recognizing any distinction between mind and matter. He made air and
the soul identical. "For," says he, "man and all other animals breathe
and live by means of the air, and therein consists their soul." And as
it is the primary being from which all is derived, it is necessarily an
eternal and imperishable body; but as _soul_ it is also endued with
consciousness. Diogenes thus refers the origin of the world to an
intelligent being,--to a soul which knows and vivifies. Anaximenes
regarded air as having life; Diogenes saw in it also intelligence. Thus
philosophy advanced step by step, though still groping in the dark; for
the origin of all things, according to Diogenes, must exist in
_intelligence_. According to Diogenes Laertius, he said: "It appears to
me that he who begins any treatise ought to lay down principles about
which there can be no dispute."

Heraclitus of Ephesus, classed by Ritter among the Ionian philosophers,
was born 503 B.C. Like others of his school, he sought a physical ground
for all phenomena. The elemental principle he regarded as _fire_, since
all things are convertible into it. In one of its modifications this
fire, or fluid, self-kindled, permeating everything as the soul or
principle of life, is endowed with intelligence and powers of ceaseless
activity. "If Anaximenes," says Maurice, not very clearly, "discovered
that he had within him a power and principle which ruled over all the
acts and functions of his bodily frame, Heraclitus found that there was
life within him which he could not call his own, and yet it was, in the
very highest sense, _himself_, so that without it he would have been a
poor, helpless, isolated creature,--a universal life which connected him
with his fellow-men, with the absolute source and original fountain of
life.... He proclaimed the absolute vitality of Nature, the endless
change of matter, the mutability and perishability of all individual
things in contrast with the eternal Being,--the supreme harmony which
rules over all." To trace the divine energy of life in all things was
the general problem of the philosophy of Heraclitus, and this spirit was
akin to the pantheism of the East. But he was one of the greatest
speculative intellects that preceded Plato, and of all the physical
theorists arrived nearest to spiritual truth. He taught the germs of
what was afterward more completely developed. "From his theory of
perpetual fluxion," says Archer Butler, "Plato derived the necessity of
seeking a stable basis for the universal system in his world of ideas."
Heraclitus was, however, an obscure writer, and moreover cynical
and arrogant.

Anaxagoras, the most famous of the Ionian philosophers, was born 500
B.C., and belonged to a rich and noble family. Regarding philosophy as
the noblest pursuit of earth, he abandoned his inheritance for the study
of Nature. He went to Athens in the most brilliant period of her history,
and had Pericles, Euripides, and Socrates for pupils. He taught that the
great moving force of Nature was intellect ([Greek: nous]). Intelligence
was the cause of the world and of order, and mind was the principle of
motion; yet this intelligence was not a moral intelligence, but simply
the _primum mobile_,--the all-knowing motive force by which the order of
Nature is effected. He thus laid the foundation of a new system, under
which the Attic philosophers sought to explain Nature, by regarding as
the cause of all things, not _matter_ in its different elements, but
rather _mind_, thought, intelligence, which both knows and acts,--a
grand conception, unrivalled in ancient speculation. This explanation of
material phenomena by intellectual causes was the peculiar merit of
Anaxagoras, and places him in a very high rank among the thinkers of the
world. Moreover, he recognized the reason as the only faculty by which
we become cognizant of truth, the senses being too weak to discover the
real component particles of things. Like all the great inquirers, he was
impressed with the limited degree of positive knowledge compared with
what there is to be learned. "Nothing," says he, "can be known; nothing
is certain; sense is limited, intellect is weak, life is short,"--the
complaint, not of a sceptic, but of a man overwhelmed with the sense of
his incapacity to solve the problems which arose before his active mind.
Anaxagoras thought that this spirit ([Greek: nous]) gave to all those
material atoms which in the beginning of the world lay in disorder the
impulse by which they took the forms of individual things, and that this
impulse was given in a circular direction. Hence that the sun, moon, and
stars, and even the air, are constantly moving in a circle.

In the mean time another sect of philosophers had arisen, who, like the
Ionians, sought to explain Nature, but by a different method.
Anaximander, born 610 B.C., was one of the original mathematicians of
Greece, yet, like Pythagoras and Thales, speculated on the beginning of
things. His principle was that _The Infinite_ is the origin of all
things. He used the word _[Greek: archae] (beginning)_ to denote the
material out of which all things were formed, as the Everlasting, the
Divine. The idea of elevating an abstraction into a great first cause
was certainly a long stride in philosophic generalization to be taken at
that age of the world, following as it did so immediately upon such
partial and childish ideas as that any single one of the familiar
"elements" could be the primal cause of all things. It seems almost like
the speculations of our own time, when philosophers seek to find the
first cause in impersonal Force, or infinite Energy. Yet it is not
really easy to understand Anaximander's meaning, other than that the
abstract has a higher significance than the concrete. The speculations
of Thales had tended toward discovering the material constitution of the
universe upon an _induction_ from observed facts, and thus made water to
be the origin of all things. Anaximander, accustomed to view things in
the abstract, could not accept so concrete a thing as water; his
speculations tended toward mathematics, to the science of pure
_deduction_. The primary Being is a unity, one in all, comprising within
itself the multiplicity of elements from which all mundane things are
composed. It is only in infinity that the perpetual changes of things
can take place. Thus Anaximander, an original but vague thinker,
prepared the way for Pythagoras.

This later philosopher and mathematician, born about the year 600 B.C.,
stands as one of the great names of antiquity; but his life is shrouded
in dim magnificence. The old historians paint him as "clothed in robes
of white, his head covered with gold, his aspect grave and majestic,
rapt in the contemplation of the mysteries of existence, listening to
the music of Homer and Hesiod, or to the harmony of the spheres."

Pythagoras was supposed to be a native of Samos. When quite young, being
devoted to learning, he quitted his country and went to Egypt, where he
learned its language and all the secret mysteries of the priests. He
then returned to Samos, but finding the island under the dominion of a
tyrant he fled to Crotona, in Italy, where he gained great reputation
for wisdom, and made laws for the Italians. His pupils were about three
hundred in number. He wrote three books, which were extant in the time
of Diogenes Laertius,--one on Education, one on Politics, and one on
Natural Philosophy. He also wrote an epic poem on the universe, to which
he gave the name of _Kosmos_.

Among the ethical principles which Pythagoras taught was that men ought
not to pray for anything in particular, since they do not know what is
good for them; that drunkenness was identical with ruin; that no one
should exceed the proper quantity of meat and drink; that the property
of friends is common; that men should never say or do anything in anger.
He forbade his disciples to offer victims to the gods, ordering them to
worship only at those altars which were unstained with blood.

Pythagoras was the first person who introduced measures and weights
among the Greeks. But it is his philosophy which chiefly claims our
attention. His main principle was that _number_ is the essence of
things,--probably meaning by number order and harmony and conformity to
law. The order of the universe, he taught, is only a harmonical
development of the first principle of all things to virtue and wisdom.
He attached much value to music, as an art which has great influence on
the affections; hence his doctrine of the music of the spheres. Assuming
that number is the essence of the world, he deduced the idea that the
world is regulated by numerical proportions, or by a system of laws
which are regular and harmonious in their operations. Hence the
necessity for an intelligent creator of the universe. The Infinite of
Anaximander became the One of Pythagoras. He believed that the soul is
incorporeal, and is put into the body subject to numerical and
harmonical relation, and thus to divine regulation. Hence the tendency
of his speculations was to raise the soul to the contemplation of law
and order,--of a supreme Intelligence reigning in justice and truth.
Justice and truth became thus paramount virtues, to be practised and
sought as the end of life. "It is impossible not to see in these lofty
speculations the effect of the Greek mind, according to its own genius,
seeking after God, if haply it might find Him."

We now approach the second stage of Greek philosophy. The Ionic
philosophers had sought to find the first principle of all things in the
elements, and the Pythagoreans in number, or harmony and law, implying
an intelligent creator. The Eleatics, who now arose, went beyond the
realm of physics to pure metaphysical inquiries, to an idealistic
pantheism, which disregarded the sensible, maintaining that the source
of truth is independent of the senses. Here they were forestalled by the
Hindu sages.

The founder of this school was Xenophanes, born in Colophon, an Ionian
city of Asia Minor, from which being expelled he wandered over Sicily as
a rhapsodist, or minstrel, reciting his elegiac poetry on the loftiest
truths, and at last, about the year 536 B.C., came to Elea, where he
settled. The principal subject of his inquiries was deity itself,--the
great First Cause, the supreme Intelligence of the universe. From the
principle _ex nihilo nihil fit_ he concluded that nothing could pass
from non-existence to existence. All things that exist are created by
supreme Intelligence, who is eternal and immutable. From this truth that
God must be from all eternity, he advances to deny all multiplicity. A
plurality of gods is impossible. With these sublime views,--the unity
and eternity and omnipotence of God,--Xenophanes boldly attacked the
popular errors of his day. He denounced the transference to the deity of
the human form; he inveighed against Homer and Hesiod; he ridiculed the
doctrine of migration of souls. Thus he sings,--

"Such things of the gods are related by Homer and Hesiod
As would be shame and abiding disgrace to mankind,--
Promises broken, and thefts, and the one deceiving the other."

And again, respecting anthropomorphic representations of the deity,--

"But men foolishly think that gods are born like as men are,
And have too a dress like their own, and their voice and their figure;
But there's but one God alone, the greatest of gods and of mortals,
Neither in body to mankind resembling, neither in ideas."

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