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based upon a faith in the essential goodness of human nature. The foundation for it all is to be found in this Essay, where, rightfully or not, the ideas are ascribed to Confucius. Certainly Confucius never pressed them.
“ The nature of man is received from God. Conduct in accordance with it leads through the proper path. The regulation of that path is self-culture.” This is our own free, but intelligible version of the beginning of the Treatise. There are many evident inconsistencies. If the “ Course of the Mean” is so natural, why is it only an equilibrium between two extremes ? Five chapters which follow the 20th, said to be quoted from Confucius, throw no new light on the matter; and in the 24th there is a ridiculous descent from the dignity of the theme. What Jesus meant when he said, “ If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light,” Confucius says in the words, “ It is characteristic of the most complete sincerity to be able to foreknow," and then we are led to “evil omens” to divination by means of mil-foil and the tortoise !
Without sharing Dr. Legge's objection to the doctrine of the essential goodness of human nature, we agree with him in thinking that the author of this book has done his utmost to puff up the fancies of his countrymen.
We conclude this section of the subject by selections and new translations from the three books under consideration, which will enable our readers to judge them for themselves. It is very common for the advocates of Confucius to insist that the best parts of his wisdom are not quoted or translated. We will not leave ourselves open to that reproach. We will select the very best passages that we can find, in the complete works, and also occasionallyto show how far these books can stand comparison with such as are elsewhere called Holy,
,-we shall select some of the very silliest.
From the Analects of Confucius.
“ The superior man bends his attention to what is radical. That being established, all practical courses naturally grow up.” (But this radicalism, it will be found, is not dangerous.) “Filial piety and fraternal submission !-are they not the root of all benevolent actions ?"
A very false idea of Confucian philosophy would arise, if we quoted only the first paragraph.
CH. 8. “Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles. Have no friends not equal to yourself.”
“ When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.” 9.
• Let there be a careful attention to the funeral rites due to parents. Let them be followed, when long gone, with the ceremonies of sacrifice ; then the virtue of the people will resume its proper excellence.”
11. “ The Master said, "While a man's father is alive, look at the bent of his will; when his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for three years, he does not alter from the way of his father, he may be called filial.?”
16. “ The Master said, “I will not be afflicted at men's not knowing me. I will be afflicted that I do not know men.' BOOK IT
CH. 6 .“ Mang-Woo asked what filial piety was. The Master said, • Parents are anxious lest their children should be sick.!” (Evidently an enigma.)
15. “ Learning without thought is labor lost. Thought without learning is perilous."
24. “ To see what is right, and not to do it, is a want of courage.” BOOK III.
CH. 17. “ Tsze-Kung wished to do away with the offering of a sheep on the first of every month. The Master said, • Tsze, you love the sheep-I love the ceremony.'” BOOK IV.
CH. 3. “ It is only the truly virtuous man who can love or who can hate others.”
6. “ The Master said, 'I have not seen a person who loved virtue, or who hated what was not virtuous.'”
16. “ The superior man is conversant with righteousness, the mean man with gain.”
“ The Master said, • The reason why the ancients did not readily give utterance to their words, was that they feared lest their actions should not come up to them.'”
26. “ In serving a Prince, frequent remonstrances lead to disgrace. Between friends, frequent reproofs to distance." BOOK V.
“ Rotten wood cannot be carved.”
Tsze-Kung said, 'What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to them.')
“ The Master said, · Tsze, you have not attained to that.'”
20. “ The Master said, · When good order prevailed in his country, Ning Woo acted the part of a wise man. When his country was in disorder, he acted the part of a stupid one. Others may equal his wisdom; but they cannot equal his stupidity.”
27. “ The Master said, “In ten families there may be found one honorable and sincere as I am, but not one so fond of learning.” BOOK VI.
CH. 18. “ The Master said, “ They who know the truth are not equal to those who love ir; those who love it are not equal to those who find pleasure in it.'"
28. “ To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves, this may be called the art of virtue."
(Conclusion in our next number.)
THE FOUR GOSPELS.
Article XVI. THE MARVELLOUS NARRATIVES.
(II.—Direct application to Gospel Text. Idea of the Mytb.) IN N our last article we described in detail as much as possible the nature of
the myth. In the present article we shall continue the subject by giving some reasons for believing that the mythical interpretation should be applied to the New Testament—i.e., that the marvellous stories of the Gospels are, in general, myths, as heretofore described.
(a.) The mythical interpretation appears to be necessitated by the refutation of the two other systems, the literal and the naturalistic. The literal or supernatural mode is refuted by the argument which invalidates the credibility of miracles : the naturalistic mode is refuted by the utterly worthless and unhistorical character of its results, as well as by its gross violations of the plain language and intention of the record. But if the literal mode, which makes the narrative all fact, and the naturalistic mode, which makes the narrative part fact and part fiction, be abandoned, there is left only the view that the narrative is wholly fictitious. But if the narrative is wholly fictitious, it must be an intentional and deliberate fiction,-which is refuted by many critical facts, by the general air of honesty of purpose, and by the known character of some of the witnesses, and is now held by very few, if any, authorities of any weight whatever; or it must be an unconscious and unintentional fiction, implicitly accepted by the author as fact,—and this falls under the notion of the myth. When, therefore, the literal and naturalistic methods fail, the only alternative left is the mythical.
(b.) The Gospels are the sacred books of a religion, the oracles of a new faith, a new form and institution also, which over-ran the earth. But all religions have issued forth from myths : all old religious records and sacred documents abound in mythical stories. Every religion appears first as an infant wrapped in the swaddling clothes of fiction. By these shape and size are concealed and mystery preserved. Only much later in life does religion appear arrayed in such garments as betray the form ; and, last of all, the courageous sculpture of philosophy undertakes the figure in its own naked and magnificent proportions. Religions and races are usually young, or at least immature, together. Ail religions, therefore, display in their beginning the traits which mark the youth of races; and these are poetry, fancy, myth, personification. Such a people are conscious of personality in themselves, but have not attained the idea of law outside of themselves; all phenomena, therefore, especially the strange, unknown, or startling, and, above all, the circumstances or forms closely connected with the popular religion, are referred directly to the agency of arbitrary personal action-1, e., to the immediate interference of deity. This tendency is so natural to the uninstructed and devout people that the scientific idea has been growing for centuries in the learned classes side by side with the belief in the supernatural, yet unshaken in the breasts of the unlettered population. Now, why should it be imagined that this tendency to myths which is the characteristic of every other religion has been escaped altogether by the Christian religion? To reply, that Christianity is the one true religion is to say nothing to the purpose, since the truth may surely be united with some mythical element: a form or faith of the most unquestionable divine origin does not necessarily thereby preclude from its records all legendary accretion, and the question becomes one of amount; while the presumption is that at least some will be found, because, however divine a religion may be in its origin or revelation, it is impossible to deny that it appears subject to human conditions in its transmission.
(c.) But if we should, therefore, expect more or less of mythical narrative in the Christian, as in all other, religious records, the probability is greatly increased by the character of the people among whom Christianity arose. Among the Greeks, who developed into comparative proficiency in all branches of art, learning, and philosophy, the popular religion overflowed with myths most implicitly believed. How much inore, then, were these to be expected in the Hebrew theocracy, where fire, fancy and song reigned always supreme, where philosophy never reared its head, and the historic idea was never realized ? The Hebrews were an essentially believing people; and while no more credulous, doubtless, than the Greek, and exhibiting even less mythopoeic fertility than that polytheistic race which boasts the highest secular, epic and lyric poetry in the world, yet the very monotheism of the Hebrew made his mythical credence more crystalline and enduring; and it is quite certain that the Greek possessed, far more than the Hebrew, the mental and historical elements that enabled him to outgrow and finally repudiate his myths. The Hebrew was naturally tenacious, conservative, theocratically patriotic, and he shared the utter credulity and somewhat rank imagination which has distinguished eastern races in general, and characterize, with some variations, the primitive ages of all races. The Hindoos present an instructive analogy : I cite an authority quoted by Grote (vol. i., p. 343 ; Am. ed.): “Any Englishman can easily conceive a poet, in his highest calenture of the brain, addressing the ocean as a steed that knows his rider, and patting the crested billow as his flowing mane ; but he must come to India to understand how every individual of a whole community of many millions can address a fine river as a living being—a sovereign princess who hears and understands all they say, and exercises a kind of local superintendence over their affairs, without a single temple in which her image is wor. shipped or a single priest to profit by the delusion. As in the case of the Ganges, it is the river itself to whom they address themselves, and not to any deity residing in it, or presiding over it,--the stream itself is the deity which fills their imaginations and receives their homage.” And again : « With the Hindoos, the greater the improbability the more monstrous and preposterous the fiction—the greater is the charm it has over their minds; and the greater their learning in the Sanscrit the more are they under the influence of this charm. * * * The analogies of nature are never for a moment considered : nor do questions of probability or possibility, according to those analogies, ever obtrude to dispel the charm with which they are so pleasingly bound. They go on through life reading and talking of these monstrous fictions, which shock the taste and understanding of other nations, without ever questioning the truth of one single incident, or hearing it questioned ” (Ibid., p. 431). Such, no doubt, will answer for a picture-scarcely, if any, exaggerated-of the state of the Hebrew mind in the time of Jesus ;* and so evidently are myths to be expected in the Hebrew history and sacred books that very many eminent authorities who still contend for the truth of the Gospel miracles have long ago remanded to the domain of myths many or most of the marvels of the Old Testament. But the presumption is in favor of a similar treatment of both the Old and the New Testaments, and the Gospels must make out their case in respect to this special, and to us unreasonal, exemption.
(d.) But not only was there thus no doubting, questioning, and examining spirit to be found in the society in which the Gospels arose ; there was, on the other hand, present in it an exceptional and peculiar element which tended powerfully to the production of mythopoeic fertility, and would act directly to repress doubt, if any should perchance happen to arise. I refer to the Messianic hopes and expectations of the Hebrews, which in the time of Jesus had produced a state of intense and feverish excitement and expectancy. Daily and hourly they looked for the advent of their great national deliverer. They thought themselves on the eve of the re-establishment of David's line with royal glory and magnificence. The chosen people should be again illustrious. Every line and word and letter of the Old Testament was tortured and mystically interpreted to minister to, and to shape, their hopes; and aged men and women passed their time in and near the Temple, praying that they might not die till the long-delayed jut now soon-coming Messiah had appeared. Now, such an eager, expectant, and patriotic excitement in an ima. ginative, unphilosophical and comparatively non writing people, would be in itself highly productive of a mythopoeic spirit; while the special object of hope and expectation among the Hebrews was calculated to encourage the marvellous and mythical in the highest degree, for they were expecting the natural course of history to be turned aside by the direct interference and miraculous action of Jehovah. And when it was once believed, as it was undoubtedly believed by the apostles, that Jesus was the promised Messiah, at last arrived, and ready at the proper moment to enter upon his kingdom, thi mythopoeic excitement would be very certain to invest his career with wonders and signs; and if any spirit of doubt could ever arise, which is hardly
* “There was a time, and that not far distant, when it was the same in England, and in ery other European nation; and there are, I am afraid, some parts of Europe where it is so 11” (Grote, vol. i., p. 431).