« הקודםהמשך »
Hardly a theory of physics, hardly a specu- mate date of these memorials and their inscriplation of metaphysics, concerning the origin of tions, we simply bring them into notice here, things — force, motion, heat, evolution, light, and pass to a single additional example. spirit - but is anticipated in the Rig Veda. Older than the oldest of the Vedas, and with There nature is etherealized and spirit material- the possible exception just mentioned, the most ized. “The intellectual and the sensible, the ancient landmark between the prehistoric chaos ethical and the naturalistic, are there conjoined and the recorded course of the world's history is in the most inartificial and also inseparable way, the religion of Egypt, as read in her temples and as kernel and shell in the yet unripe fruit grow monuments, and especially in the “Book of the indissolubly together.”* Nature and soul are Dead.” If in the liturgy of Egypt, as in that of one. The powers of nature personified, and by India, we find a mingling of the puerile and turns invested with all the attributes of Deity, or grotesque with the thoughtful and sublime, there the universal soul manifesting itself in the phe- is, on the whole, in the faith of Egypt more of nomena of nature, especially in light-the dawn, mystery, and in her worship more of majesty. the sun, the sky-all-pervading, all-renewing, all- In Egypt, as in India, we find in the religious beneficent, these worshiped with hymns, prayers, odes a frequent interblending of subjective and oblations, represent the religion of India in the objective, of metaphysical conceptions rising to oldest and purest of the Vedas.
pure monotheism and nature-worship, taking In reading these hymns of more than thirty upon them much sooner than in India the symcenturies ago, one is puzzled by the frequent bolic form of idolatry. At the same time, we are mixture in the same verse of seeming puerility left in suspense as to the order of manifestationwith real profundity. Where we find such meta- whether polytheistic forms sprang from a monophysical acumen and such poetic sublimity as theistic root,* or from the broad base of natureoften occur in the Rig Veda, it is fair to presume worship religion rose like a pyramid tapering that connected passages, which a literal transla- upward to a single point. But the Egyptian, tion makes meaningless or childish, had a higher whether he worshiped the sun as god or as a meaning, which is veiled from us by some sym- manifestation of the Deity, whether he worbol or mystery of language. Yet this very com- shiped Osiris as the vivifying, fructifying pomingling of metaphysical acumen and poetic tency in nature, or as a type of the ever-living, fervor with a certain childish credulity, which ever-progressing soul, did certainly conceive of a characterizes the Rig Veda, is found also in the supreme divinity, self-originated, invisible, incorHindoos of to-day. Indeed, as these qualities ruptible, imperishable, the creator and lord of all. are combined rather than contrasted in those The worship was elaborate and imposing, and early hymns, do they not show how human na- the priesthood almost absolute over domestic ture, at all points, was open to the influence of life, and even in affairs of state. “The Egypreligion — the philosophic thought, the poetic tians,” said Herodotus, “are religious to excess, fancy, equally with the childlike faith? And if far beyond any other race of men.” But that at length materialism shall establish its atomic faith can hardly be called a superstition which theory of the universe, this vaunted outcome of projected itself beyond the world and time into physical science could but reaffirm an old meta- the regions of spiritual life, and drew thence mophysical theory of the Indian mind—the devel- tives to the noblest conduct of this life-to jusopment of the universe from motion and heat, tice, honesty, temperance, chastity, truth, rever“impregnating powers and mighty forces, a self- ence, piety, kindness, and beneficence. supporting principle beneath, and energy aloft." + It seems a complete collapse to pass from the If physical science would make God “the sum high plane of religious thought and worship in of all the forces of the universe,” the Vedic re- Egypt and in Ethiopia to the fetichism of inner ligion made of Nature "a metaphysical deity."
Africa. Yet even in fetichism is found a belief Recent researches in Babylon have brought in supernatural power, in fate and mystery, in to light evidences of a religion there remarkable the spirits of the dead, and in other spirits of for simplicity and purity-teaching the unity of good and evil; and in all this the groundwork God and doctrines concerning sin, forgiveness, of a spiritual faith. In attributing to a doll the and the resurrection of the body, with singular speech and passions of a human being, the child analogies on some points to the Hebrew Scrip- makes this thing of wax or wood a reflection of tures. But, as there is still some controversy the personality which is just developing in its among Assyrian scholars concerning the proxi- own consciousness; it projects the spiritual bespirit which it feels must be. And so, in the in- denying self to live for others—“vivre pour fancy of the race, man makes the stone, the block, autrui” — Comte "had realized the essential the material thing that pleases him or does him conditions of a religion.”* And in describing harm, a spirit to be conversed with, to be pro- his father's character and opinions, Mr. Mill conpitiated, or to be shunned. The spirit within tends that many whose belief is far short of him, felt though unseen, reaches forth after the deism may be truly religious,” since“
yond its inner self, to be mated with some other * Professor O. Pfleiderer, “Die Religion, ihr Wesen und ihr Geschichte," vol. ii., p. 82.
* Bunsen held that “all polytheism is based on + Rig Veda, X., 129.
monotheism."-"Egypt's Place in Universal History," 1 Sayce's “Lectures on Babylonian Literature." book v., part i., sec. 2, C.
they spiritual without, which is felt though it can not have that which constitutes the principal worth be seen.
of all religions whatever, an ideal conception of a Whether belief in a personal God is so gen- perfect being, to which they habitually refer as eral that it may be regarded as native, or at least the guide of their conscience." + This ideal, normal, to the human mind, it does not fall with- though existing purely in thought, is nevertheless in our present scope to consider. Neither is this projected before the mind as a reality; and the the place for a general review of comparative bare conception of such an existence creates an mythology. Our sole aim in analyzing the reli- obligation to conform to this as the standard of gions of different races and different periods has life. Hence there enter into religion three elebeen to get at a conception of religion itself átments or conditions more or less pronouncedonce so fundamental and so comprehensive that, Nature, Man, or God; and the precedence of in defining this, we shall fix the place of the reli- one or the other of these elements, in the progious idea or sentiment in the system of philo- portion in which they are combined, gives to difsophic thought distinct from forms of worship and ferent religions their distinguishing characterisdogmas of theology. Thus far it is evident that tics. The first of these elements is Nature. Now religion is reverence or homage to an object ex- this term is so used by materialists as to exclude ternal to the worshiper, which is looked upon from the categories of science every form of the as superior in nature, in character, or in power. religious idea; hence a strict definition of nature That this object should be conceived of as a per- must precede and prepare our definition of relisonal being, or as one only God, is not essential ; gion. but religion does require an object of faith or Going back to the Greek conception of naworship, a something exterior to the man which ture, we find tÒ Qvolkov sharply distinguished from he looks upon with a sentiment of admiration, of το ηθικόν and το λογικόν. loyalty, or of awe, which leads him to acts of In his Metaphysics, Aristotle gives a definition homage. The virtue which proceeds solely from of qvors, or nature, which separates it equally one's inward impulses, or from self-regulation, from the sphere of mathematical speculations with no reference in thought or feeling to any and from that of spiritual powers : external source or motive of obligation, is morality or goodness, but not piety or religion. But, Physics are concerned with things that have a on the other hand, the lowest form of fetichism, principle of motion in themselves ; mathematics having an object of worship, is called a religion ; self-existent things; and there is another science
speculate on permanent but not transcendental and and, on the other hand, usage allows the term
separate from these two, which treats of that which religion to the homage to an ideal, such as na
is immutable and transcendental, if indeed there exture or humanity in the abstract; since such an
ists such a substance, as we shall endeavor to show ideal as the commanding motive or power over that there does. This transcendental and permanent the soul is to all intents personified or deified as substance, if it exists at all, must surely be the the object of worship. This application of the sphere of the divine, it must be the first and highest term-perhaps a little overstrained—Mr. Mill has principle. Hence it follows that there are three pointed out in the case of Comte, and also of his kinds of speculative science-physics, mathematics, own father. Speaking of Comte's homage to and theology. collective humanity as the “grand étre,” Mill says: “It may not be consonant to usage to call
When he comes to speak of nature more spethis a religion; but the term, so applied, has a
cifically, in his lectures on physics, Aristotle meaning, and one which is not adequately ex
gives this twofold definition : "Nature may be pressed by any other word. Candid persons of
said in one way to be the simplest and most deepall creeds may be willing to admit
that, if a per- their own principle of motion and change ; in an
lying substratum of matter in things possessing son has an ideal object, his attachment and sense other
way, it may be called the form and law of of duty toward which are able to control and discipline all his other sentiments and propensities, and prescribe to him a rule of life, that per- By John Stuart Mill, pp. 121–124. Also “Westminster
*“ The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte." son has a religion.” He then argues that, in the
Review," April, 1861. majesty of his idea of humanity as the object
† “ Autobiography,” book xlvi. of reverence and love, and in his golden rule of “Metaphysics," X., vii., 7.
."* And so Bacon, in the second ture of water to expand with heat and to freeze book of the “Novum Organum,' in the first with cold. Extending the range of such obseraphorism, speaks of forma as natura naturans, vations and inductions, we find an established and in the thirteenth aphorism as ipsissima res. course or order of things in general, and this we
Passing over from the Greeks to the Latins, term nature. But that which makes the obserwe find the equivalent of prors in natura, from vation, records the experience, classifies the innascor, which the German accurately renders by duction, call this what we may-whether a spirgeboren werden—not simply born or coming into itual entity or the functional activity of the brain being, but both origin and genesis. Hence na- —though it may have a nature of its own, is not tura denotes not only result, but on-going pro- included within that nature of whose phenomena cess, that orderly becoming which comprehends it thus takes cognizance. From a higher plane both that which is produced and also the produc- of vision the observer might perhaps be compreing agent. In the individual, nature denotes the hended within the scope of nature; but to him constitution or the quality of a thing as pro- nature is confined within the periphery of things, duced; and, when conceived of collectively or in from which he, at least quoad hoc, is distinguished continuity, nature is the order or course of things, as a person. Hence in worshiping nature, whethas being and “about-to-be.”
er as a whole or in detail, the worshiper sets beCuriously enough, Lucretius, in his poetical fore him, either in visible form or as a concepdisquisition on “The Nature of Things," has tion, an object separate from himself, to which omitted to give a strict definition of nature. Cice- he renders his homage and devout regard. In ro, however, in discoursing of “The Nature of nature-worship religion takes its hue from the the Gods,” gives these notions of the term : phases of physical phenomena as these are re
flected in the phases of the mind. Sometimes it Some think that nature is a certain irrational is the propitiation of terrible and hurtful elepower, exciting in bodies the necessary motions; ments; again it is the worship of sensuous beauothers, that it is an intelligent power, acting by order and method, designing some end in every cause, ty; * and, with a more advanced culture, it beand always aiming at that end. ... And some again, comes the homage of reason to material laws, as Epicurus, apply the word nature to everything. +
and of the imagination to the divinity immanent
in the universe as a soul; now its prevailing senCicero himself personifies nature, using this timent is an awe of phenomena which suggest as an equivalent for the gods, and speaking of mysterious and destructive forces; and, again, nature as an artificer and an intelligence. this feeling of reverence is modulated in art and
Nevertheless, in strict usage, nature stands in worship to a delight in whatever ministers to contrast to both spirit and art. Etymologically, taste, beauty, love, as being either a divinity or as we have seen, the natura is generation, but in some divine attribute or gift. In a word, the exthe double sense of that which is born and that tremes of superstition and naturalism meet in
which is in course of parturition—the thing or nature as the central object of the religious idea. • event which is and is continually becoming; Religion is, then, either the worship of objects
Werden and Dasein in perpetual flux and reflux. and forces in the material world as themselves Hence nature comes to mean the constitution of divinities, or the symbols of divinities; or it is a the world and the universe and the course of rationalistic atheism, which makes nature, or the things. In German philosophy the term Natur universe in its totality, the only power above is chiefly used to denote the world of matter in man; or, again, it is a sentimental, poetic personicontrast to the world of spirit or intelligence. fication of the grand and beautiful in the physical How, then, do we form our conception of nature? universe; or, it may be, a subtile pantheism, In strict contemplation of philosophy, nature is which denies to its divinity personality and indethat established constitution and course of things pendence, and holds the unconscious world-printhe knowledge of which we gain by observation ciple bound within the visible universe, as the or experience, and by induction; whereas that life-principle is imprisoned within bodily forms. which we know by intuition, or establish by logic, Thus nature-religion, starting from fetichism, or which the imagination conceives, lies within runs at last into sheer neuterism, the favorite another category. Observing certain phenomena form of modern pantheism—“modern” in a cerin regular sequence, we learn by experience to tain freshness of assertion by recent schools of depend upon their relations, and to look for their philosophy, but not modern as a theory of the repetition; and thus we ascertain, for example, universe, since Pliny held that the world and the that it is the nature of fire to burn, and the na- heaven, or universal ether, which embraces all things in its vast circumference, may be regarded machina ; and the miracle or the intervention is as itself a deity, immense, eternal, never made, ever at hand to supply any defect of observation and never to perish; and the Stoics declared that or of logic upon the facts of nature. And so, “God is the world, and the world is God; God paradoxical as it may seem, religion may be falis all matter and all mind.”
*“Nat. Aux.," II., i., 8. See Sir Alexander Grant's *“ The Homeric gods spoil no man's full enjoyment “ Ethics of Aristotle," essay iv.
of the desires of his senses."-Curtius, “History of + Cicero, “ De Deorum Natura," ii., xxxii.
Greece,” book i., 64.
sified by introducing into it too much of God! Where man is made the chief factor in the It is through this tendency to use the name of world-scheme, the type of religion is Human- God as a dogmatic formula, and to resort to the ism, whether as hero-worship or a divinized self- supernatural as an expedient for solving all mystehood. To that spiritual worship of the invisible ries in nature, that some theologians have brought and unknown God which the Hellenic races religion into a seeming contradiction of science. shared with other branches of the Aryan fami- But our analysis has shown that under all ly, and to the individualizing of divine attributes forms of conception and representation the reand powers as themselves separate and local di- ligious idea is constantly the same. Religion is vinities, the Greeks added myths of heroes whom an inner sense of obligation in man to an exterthey first reverenced as nearer to the gods in nal object of a nature different from his own, gifts and powers, and afterward worshiped with which is regarded as superior in nature, podivine honors. These heroes personified suc- sition, or power; which obligation prompts to cessive acts and periods in the development of acts of reverence, devotion, or obedience, with a man above nature; * and yet the deified human- view to please or to placate its object. Recallity of the Greeks was still, in some sort, under ing our definition of science, we see how readily bondage to nature through the doctrine of fate, religion falls within these limits—the systematic or through that dread of mysterious and destruc- summation of all the knowledges pertaining to tive forces which overhangs the religions of pa- a given subject-matter, and the formulating of ganism.
these in abstract general conceptions. Physical By conquering this dread of nature, modern science purports to concern itself exclusively with science has ministered to a yet bolder man-wor- things; but, in reality, science is not concerned ship. A supreme selfhood, an intensified ego- directly with things, but with our thoughts of ism, characterizes much of the rationalism of our things. Professor Jevons has shown that "scitime. Humanity and reason alone are divine, entific method must begin and end with the laws and worship is homage to human nature. “In- of thought," and we can not better conclude this effable,” says Emerson, “is the union of man reference of religion to the categories of science and God in every act of the soul. The simplest than by quoting the words with which Jevons person who in his integrity worships God, be- concludes the second edition of his “Principles comes God.” The highest theology of this school of Science":* is man divinized.
Among the most unquestionable rules of scienSuch are the results of an exaggeration either tific method is that first law that whatever phenomeof nature or of man, as terms in the scheme of non is, is. We must ignore no existence whatever ; religion. But there is also a conception of God we may variously interpret or explain its meaning which relegates him to the sphere of the past and origin, but, if a phenomenon does exist, it deor the unknown, as an abstraction or a fate not mands some kind of explanation. If, then, there personally cognizant of human affairs, not provi- is to be competition for scientific recognition, the dentially acting in them-a deism which postu- world without us must yield to the undoubted exislates nothing concerning the Deity but the in- tence of the spirit within. Our own hopes and wishes finite and the absolute, and ends with making of and determinations are the most undoubted pheGod an infinite and absolute nothing. “God is a
nomena within the sphere of consciousness. If men name for our ignorance.” For God is nothing to do act, feel
, and live as if they were not merely the a man as a conception unless he is conceived of brief products of a casual conjunction of atoms, but as an objective, substantive reality, possessing to record all other phenomena and pass over these ?
the instruments of a far-searching purpose, are we personality, will, holiness, and authority; and God We investigate the instincts of the ant and the bee is nothing to us as the cause of nature unless he and the beaver, and discover that they are led by an is the author of nature in a sense which distin- inscrutable agency to work toward a distant purpose. guishes him from nature, and sets him above Let us be faithful to our scientific method, and innature as the intelligent and controlling cause of vestigate also those instincts of the human mind by all things.
which man is led to work as if the approval of a Yet this view may be so exaggerated upon Higher Being were the aim of life. the other side, that God becomes the Deus ex
J. P. THOMPSON (British Quarterly Review). * Thus Heracles, Cadmus, the Argonauts, Danaus, etc. This point is well treated by Curtius, “History of *“A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method." By Greece," i., 2.
W. Stanley Jevons. 1877.
LETTERS OF CHARLES DICKENS*
F all the biographies of men eminent in lit- which his sister-in-law and his eldest daughter
erature, Mr. John Forster's “Life of Charles have brought together in two stout volumes. Dickens" was one of the least satisfactory. The The compilers modestly describe their collection hand which had interpreted Goldsmith with such as a supplement to Mr. Forster's biography, amplitude of knowledge, such sympathetic ap- which they consider to be "only incomplete as preciation, and such delicacy of insight, seemed regards correspondence"; but it is in reality of to have lost its cunning when it came to portray much greater value than this would imply, for it the life-long friend whose fame was in a sense not only contains in itself a fairly complete record committed to its care; and it is a curious but of the great author's life, but enables us to apundeniable fact that the popular estimate of proach his character from a quite different side. Dickens was distinctly lowered by a work, every If the alternative were placed before the reader line of which was inspired by an almost infatuated of discarding either Mr. Forster's biography or admiration for him. The explanation of this ap- this correspondence, we should feel no hesitation parent paradox is that Mr. Forster, himself a in advising him to retain the correspondence, as vain, self-sufficient, and egotistic man, was at- presenting on the whole a fairer, more adequate, tracted by these qualities in his associates—re- more trustworthy, and more pleasing picture of garded them as the special insignia of genius, in Dickens's character and life. fact--and when he came to delineate Dickens, The letters are arranged in their chronologiwho possessed on his own account no stinted cal order, with just so much of narrative and share of self-esteem, concentrated his attention explanation as are absolutely necessary to link upon these to the exclusion of other equally them together and render them intelligible, and marked and significant qualities. As portrayed no more. The compilers are evidently ill at ease by him, Dickens was vain, fussy, self-conscious, with the pen, and have purposely made their theatrical, always on parade, always churning his commentary as short as possible—" our great feelings in order to bring bubbles to the surface, desire being to give to the public another book always asking himself the question, How am I from Charles Dickens's own hands—as it were, to dazzle the eyes of the cockneys, and draw a portrait of himself by himself.” Their request tears from a too sentimental public? This un- for the loan of letters was so copiously responded fortunate impression was largely due, as the to that they were provided with abundant ma“Saturday Review” pointed out at the time, to terial for their work, without drawing largely Mr. Forster's view-point and method of treat- upon their own independent recollections; and ment. “The real man Dickens," said the re- the correspondence forms a nearly complete auviewer, " appears to elude us. We see him, as tobiography from the beginning of Dickens's litit were, talking to a literary friend in a publisher's erary life in 1833 to the day before his death in anteroom, not as he was in domestic life, or in 1870. his own privacy. We are introduced exclusively Perhaps the most surprising thing about the to that side of his character which he showed to “Letters" is that a man who wrote so much the judicious adviser in his various enterprises, otherwise—who was always pressed and perseand it is only by glimpses that we see anything cuted for "copy"-should have found the time deeper. It is Mr. Forster's fault if we are left and the patience to write so many. In a letter in doubt whether there was really something to a correspondent whom he had somewhat stronger and nobler behind, or whether the bril- neglected, Dickens suggests that it should be liant, sensitive, excitable outside was really the borne in mind “how difficult letter-writing is to whole man.”
one whose trade it is to write"; but it would Fortunately for Dickens and for the public, never be inferred from his correspondence that there were in existence ample materials for re- this was a difficulty which touched him. No ocpairing the deficiencies and correcting the mis- casion was too trivial to inspire a letter to one takes of Mr. Forster's work; and these materials of his friends, and, besides responding freely to could hardly have been used to greater advan- the innumerable claims thus made upon him, he tage than in the “ Letters of Charles Dickens,” would write long and carefully considered an
swers to a class of communications which are * The Letters of Charles Dickens. Edited by his commonly regarded as impositions by far less Sister-in-Law and his Eldest Daughter. In Two Vol- busy men, and promptly consigned to the wasteNew York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 12mo,
basket. Knowing that this collection comprises pp. 544, 536.
but a selected few of the letters which he actually