Page images

pearls in the shell, where no idle or wicked speech is heard, but only the words · Peace, Peace.' *They who fear the judgment of God shall have two gardens. Which of the benefits of God will ye deny? Adorned with groves. Which of the benefits of God will ye deny? In each of them shall spring two fountains. Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ? In each of them shall grow two kinds of fruits. Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ? They shall lie on carpets brocaded with silk and embroidered with

gold ; the fruits of the two gardens shall be near, easy to pluck. Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ? There shall be young virgins with modest looks, unprofaned by man

or jinn.
Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ?
They are like jacinth and coral.
Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ?
What is the recompence of good, if not good ?
Which of the benefits of God will ye deny ?' &c.

With these descriptions of Paradise idealized on secular life, it is interesting to compare others which bear the impress of a priestly caste, devising a heaven after their manner. We can almost see the faces of the Jewish rabbis settling their opinions about the high schools in the firmament of heaven, where Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and the great Rabbi Eliezer teach Law and Talmud as they taught when they were here below, and masters and learners go prosing on with the weary old disputations of cross question and crooked answer that pleased their souls on earth. Nor less suggestively do the Buddhist heavens reflect the minds of the ascetics who devised them. As in their thoughts sensual pleasure seemed poor and despicable in comparison with mystic inward joy, rising and rising till consciousness fades in trance, so, above their heavens of millions of years of mere divine happiness, they raised other ranges of heavens where sensual pain and pleasure cease, and enjoy

1 Koran,'ch. lv. lvi.

Eisenmenger, 'Entdecktes Judenthum,' part i. p. 7.


ed speech i la


[blocks in formation]

ment becomes intellectual, till at a higher grade even bodily
form is gone, and after the last heaven of 'Neither-
consciousness-nor-unconsciousness' there follows Nirwana,
as ecstasy passes into swoon.1

But the doctrine of the continuance of the soul's life has
another and a gloomier side. There are conceptions of an
abode of the dead characterized not so much by dreaminess
as by ghostliness. The realm of shades, especially if it be
a cavern underground, has seemed a dim and melancholy
place to the dwellers in this 'white world,' as the Russian
calls the land of the living. One description of the Hurons
tells how the other world, with its hunting and fishing, its
much-prized hatchets and robes and necklaces, is like this
world, yet day and night the souls groan and lament.?
Thus the region of Mictlan, the subterranean land of Hades
whither the general mass of the Mexican nation, high and
low, expected to descend from the natural death-bed, was an
abode looked forward to with resignation, but scarcely with
cheerfulness. At the funeral the survivors were bidden not
to mourn too much, the dead was reminded that he had
passed and suffered the labours of this life, transitory as
when one warms himself in the sun, and he was bidden to
have no care or anxiety to return to his kinsfolk now that
he has departed for ever and aye, for his consolation must
be that they too will end their labours, and go whither he
has gone before. Among the Basutos, where the belief in
a future life in Hades is general, some imagine in this under-
world valleys ever green, and herds of hornless speckled
cattle owned by the dead; but it seems more generally
thought that the shades wander about in silent calm,
experiencing neither joy nor sorrow. Moral retribution
there is none.4 The Hades of the West African seems no

zed on sale

[ocr errors]

h bear the

en after the

Jewish s in the fire ochai and i


s they to d learners

cross questi 7 earth.? N ect the most heir thout compania consciousnes Tons of ra" r ranges i , and enjoy


Hardy, ‘Manual of Budhism,' pp. 5, 24; Köppen, ‘Rel. des Buddha,'
vol. i. p. 235, &c.
2 Brebeuf in Rel. des Jés.' 1636, p. 105.

ahagun, ‘Hist. de Nueva España,' book iii. appendix ch, i., in Kings-
borough, vol. vii. ; Brasseur, vol. iii. p. 571.

4 Casalis, ‘Basutos,' pp. 247, 254.



[ocr errors]

ecstatic paradise, to judge by Captain Burton's description: 'It was said of the old Egyptians that they lived rather in Hades than upon the banks of the Nile. The Dahomans declare that this world is man's plantation, the next is his home,-a home which, however, no one visits of his own accord. They of course own no future state of rewards and punishment: there the King will be a King, and the slave a slave for ever. Ku-to-men, or Deadman's land, the Dahoman's other but not better world, is a country of ghosts, of umbræ, who, like the spirits of the nineteenth century in Europe, lead a quiet life, except when by means of mediums they are drawn into the drawing-rooms of the living. With some such hopeless expectation the neighbours of the Dahomans, the Yorubas, judge the life to come in their simple proverb that 'A corner in this world is better than a corner in the world of spirits.'1 The Finns, , who feared the ghosts of the departed as unkind, harmful beings, fancied them dwelling with their bodies in the grave, or else, with what Castrén thinks a later philosophy, assigned them their dwelling in the subterranean Tuonela. Tuonela was like this upper earth, the sun shone there, there was no lack of land and water, wood and field, tilth and meadow, there were bears and wolves, snakes and pike, but all things were of a hurtful, dismal kind, the woods dark and swarming with wild beasts, the water black, the cornfields bearing seed of snakes' teeth, and there stern pitiless old Tuoni, and his grim wife and son with the hooked fingers with iron points, kept watch and ward over the dead-lest they should escape.

Scarce less dismal was the classic ideal of the dark realm below, whither the shades of the dead must go to join the many gone before (és adeóvwv ikéo Bai; penetrare ad plures; andare tra i più). The Roman Orcus holds the pallid souls, rapacious Orcus, sparing neither good nor bad.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

1 Burton, 'Dahome,' vol. ii. p. 156; ‘Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. iii. p. 403; ‘Wit and Wisdom from W. Afr.' pp. 280, 449 ; see J. G. Müller, p. 140.

2 Castrén, ‘Finn. Myth.' p. 126, &c. ; Kalewala, Rune xv. xvi. xlv. &c. ; Meiners, vol. ii. p. 780.

in Burton's desert
at they livels

Mile The
ntation, the met

one visits of ature state of a -ill be a Kings or Deadmans ka world, is a nice rits of the mini

Gloomy is the Greek land of Hades, dark dwelling of the images of departed mortals, where the shades carry at once their living features and their dying wounds, and glide and cluster and whisper, and lead the shadow of a life. Like the savage hunter on his ghostly prairie, the great Orion still bears his brazen mace, still chases over the meadows of asphodel the flying beasts he slew of yore in the lonely mountains. Like the rude African of to-day, the swiftfooted Achilles scorns such poor, thin, shadowy life; rather would he serve a mean man upon earth than be lord of all the dead.

except when by


[ocr errors]

• Truly, oxen and goodly sheep may be taken for booty,
Tripods, too, may be bought, and the yellow beauty of horses ;
But from the fence of the teeth when once the soul is departed,
Never cometh it back, regained by plunder or purchase.'

[ocr errors]

xpectation the judge the rner in this

spirits." d as unkin eir bodies in the er philosophy

, an Tuonela I ze there, there i d, tilth and's

d pike

, but al

ods dark and

che cornfields hi 7 pitiless al med fingers Head lest that

classic idegli of the dead ν ικέσθαι;

Where and what was Sheol, the dwelling of the ancient Jewish dead? Of late years the Biblical critic has no longer to depend on passages of the Old Testament for realizing its conception, so plainly is it connected with the sevencircled Irkalla of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion, the gloomy subterranean abode whence there is no return for man, though indeed the goddess Ishtar passed through its seven gates, and came back to earth from her errand of saving all life from destruction. In the history of religions, few

. passages are more instructive than those in which the prophets of the Old Testament recognize the ancestral connexion of their own belief with the national religions of Babylon-Assyria, as united in the doctrine of a gloomy prison of ghosts, through whose gates Jew and Gentile alike must pass. Sheol (Syaw from 5xv) is, as its name implies, a cavernous recess, yet it is no mere surface-grave or tomb, but an under-world of awful depth: ‘High as Heaven, what doest thou ? deeper than Sheol, what knowest thou?' Asshur and all her company, Elam and all her multitude, the

dan Orcus hali

either good

oc.' vol

, p, # Müller, p. 141 Rune XT, ITI DI

1 Homer. Il. ix. 405; Odyss. xi. 218, 475 ; Virg. Æn. vi. 243, &c., &c.

mighty fallen of the uncircumcised, lie there. The great king of Babylon must go down :

“Sheol from beneath is moved because of thee, to meet thee at thy

coming : He rouseth for thee the mighty dead, all the great chiefs of the earth; He maketh to rise up from their thrones, all the kings of the nations. All of them shall accost thee, and shall say unto thee : Art thou, even thou too, become weak as we? Art thou made like

unto us ?'


To the Greek Septuagint, Sheol was Hades, and for this the Coptic translators had their long-inherited Egyptian name of Amenti, while the Vulgate renders it as Infernus, the lower regions. The Gothic Ulfilas, translating the Hades of the New Testament, could use Halja in its old German sense of the dim shadowy home of the dead below the earth ; and the corresponding word Hell, if this its earlier sense be borne in mind, fairly translates Sheol and Hades in the English version of the Old and New Testament, though the word has become misleading to uneducated ears by being used also in the sense of Gehenna, the place of torment. The early Hebrew historians and prophets, holding out neither the hope of everlasting glory nor the fear of everlasting agony as guiding motives for man's present life, lay down little direct doctrine of a future state, yet their incidental mentions justify the translators who regard Sheol as Hades. Sheol is a special locality where dead men go to their dead ancestors : ‘And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people ... and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.' Abraham, though not even buried in the land of his forefathers, is thus 'gathered unto his people;' and Jacob has no thought of his body being laid with Joseph's body, torn by wild beasts in the wilderness, when he says, 'I shall go down to my son mourning to Sheol (els Qdov' in the LXX., 'èpesēt èàmenti' in the Coptic, ‘in infernum' in the Vulgate). The rephaim, the 'shades of the dead, who dwell in Sheol, love not to be disturbed from their rest by the

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »