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theory. There are more special arguments which favour the priority of the savage to the civilized phases of the doctrine of a future life. If savages did in general receive their views of another existence from the religious systems of cultured nations, these systems can hardly have been such as recognize the dominant doctrines of heaven and hell. For, as to the locality of the future world, savage races especially favour a view little represented in civilized belief, namely, that the life to come is in some distant earthly country. Moreover, the belief in a fiery abyss or Gehenna, which excites so intensely and lays hold so firmly of the imagination of the most ignorant men, would have been especially adapted to the minds of savages, had it come down to them by tradition from an ancestral faith. Yet, in fact, the lower races so seldom recognize such an idea, that even the few cases in which it occurs lie open to suspicion of not being purely native. The proposition that the savage
doctrines descend from the more civilized seems thus to involve the improbable supposition, that tribes capable of keeping up traditions of Paradise, Heaven, or Hades, should nevertheless have forgotten or discarded a tradition of Hell. Still more important is the contrast between the continuance-theory and the retribution-theory of the future existence, in the sections of culture where they respectively predominate. On the one hand, the continuance-theory, with its ideas of a ghostly life like this, is directly vouched for by the evidence of the senses in dreams and visions of the dead, and may be claimed as part of the 'Natural Religion,' properly so called, of the lower races. On the other hand, the retribution-theory is a dogma which this evidence of apparitions could hardly set on foot, though capable of afterwards supporting it. Throughout the present study of animistic religion, it constantly comes into view that doctrines which in the lower culture are philosophical, tend in the higher to become ethical; that what among savages is a science of nature, passes among civilized nations into a moral engine. Herein lies the distinction of deepest import between the two great theories of the soul's existence after bodily death. According to a development theory of culture, the savage, unethical doctrine of continuance would be taken as the more primitive, succeeded in higher civilization by the ethical doctrine of retribution. Now this theory of the course of religion in the distant and obscure past is conformable with experience of its actual history, so far as this lies within our knowledge. Whether we compare the early Greek with the later Greek, the early Jew with the later Jew, the ruder races of the world in their older condition with the same races as affected by the three missionary religions of Buddhism, Mohammedanism, Christianity, the testimony of history vouches for the like transition towards ethical dogma.
In conclusion, though theological argument on the actual validity of doctrines relating to the future life can have no place here, it will be well not to pass by without further remark one great practical question which lies fairly within the province of Ethnography. How, in the various stages of culture, has the character and conduct of the living been affected by the thought of a life to come? If we take the savage beliefs as a starting-point, it will appear that these belong rather to speculative philosophy than to practical rule of life. The lower races hold opinions as to a future state because they think them true, but it is not surprising that men who take so little thought of a contingency three days off, should receive little practical impulse from vague anticipations of a life beyond the grave. Setting aside the consideration of possible races devoid of all thought of a future existence, there unquestionably has been and is a great mass of mankind whose lives are scarcely affected by such expectations of another life as they do hold. The doctrine of continuance, making death as it were a mere journey into a new country, can have little direct action on men's conduct, though indirectly it has indeed an enormous and disastrous influence on society, leading as it does to the slaughter of wives and slaves, and the destruction of pro
perty, for the use of the dead in the next world. If this world to come be thought a happier region, the looking forward to it makes men more willing to risk their lives in battle, promotes the habit of despatching the sick and aged into a better life, and encourages suicide when life is very hateful here. When the half-way house between continuance and retribution is reached, and the idea prevails that the manly virtues which give rank and wealth and honour here will lead hereafter to yet brighter glory, then this belief must add new force to the earthly motives which make bold warriors and mighty chiefs. But among men who expect to become hovering ghosts at death, or to depart to some gloomy land of shades, such expectation strengthens the natural horror and hatred of dissolution. They tend toward the state of mind frequent among modern Africans, whose thought of death is that he shall drink no more rum, wear no more fine clothes, have no more wives. The negro of our own day would feel to the utmost the sense of those lines in the beginning of the Iliad, which describe the heroes' 'souls' being cast down to Hades, but themselves' left a prey to dogs and carrion birds.
Rising to the level of the higher races, we mark the thought of future existence taking a larger and larger place in the conyictions of religion, the expectation of a judgment after death gaining in intensity and becoming, what it scarcely seems to the savage, a real motive in life. Yet this change is not to be measured as proceeding throughout in any direct proportion with the development of culture. The doctrine of the future life has hardly taken deeper and stronger root in the higher than in the middle levels of civilization. In the language of ancient Egypt, it is the dead who are emphatically called the 'living,' for their life is everlasting, whether in the world of the departed, or nearer home in the tomb, the eternal dwelling.' The Moslem says that men sleep in life and wake in death; the Hindu likens the body which a soul has quitted to the bed he rises from in the morning. The story of the ancient
Getæ, who wept at births and laughed at funerals, embodies an idea of the relation of this life to the next which comes to the surface again and again in the history of religion, nowhere perhaps touched in with a lighter hand than in the Arabian Nights' tale where Abdallah of the Sea indig. nantly breaks off his friendship with Abdallah of the Land, when he hears that the dwellers on the land do not feast and sing when one of them dies, like the dwellers in the sea, but mourn and weep and tear their garments. Such thoughts lead on into the morbid asceticism that culminates in the life of the Buddhist saint, eating his food with loathing from the alms-bowl that he carries as though it held medicine, wrapping himself in grave-clothes from the cemetery, or putting on his disfigured robe as though it were a bandage to cover a sore, whose looking forward is to death for deliverance from the misery of life, whose dreamiest hope is that after an inconceivable series of successive existences he may find in utter dissolution and not being a refuge even from heaven.
The belief in future retribution has been indeed a powerful engine in shaping the life of nations. Powerful both for good and evil, it has been made the servant-of-all-work of many faiths. Priesthoods have used it unscrupulously for their professional ends, to gain wealth and power for their own caste, to stop intellectual and social progress beyond the barriers of their consecrated systems. On the banks of the river of death, a band of priests has stood for ages to bar the passage against all poor souls who cannot satisfy their demands for ceremonies, and formulas, and fees. This is the dark side of the picture. On the bright side, as we study the moral standards of the higher nations, and see how the hopes and fears of the life to come have been brought to enforce their teachings, it is plain that through most widely differing religions the doctrine of future judgment has been made to further goodness and to check wickedness, according to the shifting rules by which men have divided right from wrong. The philosophic schools which from classic times onward have rejected the belief in a future existence, appear to have come back by a new road to the very starting-point which perhaps the rudest races of men never quitted. At least this seems true as regards the doctrine of future retribution, which is alike absent from the belief of classes of men at the two extremes of culture. How far the moral standard of life may have been adjusted throughout the higher races with reference to a life hereafter, is a problem difficult of solution, so largely do unbelievers in this second life share ethical principles which have been more or less shaped under its influence. Men who live for one world or for two, have high motives of virtue in common; the noble self-respect which impels them to the life they feel worthy of them; the love of goodness for its own sake and for its immediate results; and beyond this, the desire to do good that shall survive the doer, who will not indeed be in the land of the living to see his work, but who can yet discount his expectations into some measure of present satisfaction. Yet he who believes that his thread of life will be severed once and for ever by the fatal shears, Well knows that he wants a purpose and a joy in life, which belong to him who looks for a life to come. Few men feel real contentment in the expectation of vanishing out of conscious existence, henceforth, like the great Buddha, to exist only in their works. To remain incarnate in the memory of friends is something. A few great spirits may enjoy in the reverence of future ages a thousand years or so of subjective immortality;' though as for mankind at large, the individual's personal interest hardly extends beyond those who have lived in his time, while his own memory scarce outlives the third and fourth generation. But over and above these secular motives, the belief in immortality extends its powerful influence through life, and culminates at the last hour, when, setting aside the very evidence of their senses, the mourners smile through their tears, and say it is not death but life.