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is not immediately impelled to seek a single universal source of being. The teeming earth, the quickening sun, the restless sea, the rushing stream, the irresistible storm, every display of superhuman might which it beholds, rouses a distinct sentiment of religious awe. Everywhere it finds deities, which however may not for a long time be distinguished by name from the objects in which their presence is manifested.”1 This is the first stage of the author's development of Greek religion, viz., the worship of nature; and he at once appropriates to it Agamemnon's invocation, which he seems to consider but a specimen of “all the traces of the primitive religion to be found in the later Greek mythology.” He also identifies it with Herodotus's Pelasgic period, and interprets his “ nameless deities” by “invisible powers.” This interpretation, he says, “is highly probable in itself;" and he confirms it “by the example of the ancient Persians.”
Then he proceeds, after the example, but not on the theory of Herodotus, “to trace the steps by which this simple creed was transformed into the complicated system of Greek mythology.” Herodotus, as we have seen, had referred to the Egyptian religion and to the poets. Dr. Thirlwall rejcts the notion of any direct influence of Egypt in the process: first, on the fair antecedent ground that the information came from the priests of that country, who were neither acquainted with Grecian mythology nor unbiassed witnesses in a question so nearly touching their national pride; and, next, from what certainly is of the nature of evidence, that there is very little of a foreign character in the mythology. Yet, though he considers it of native growth, he will not grant to Herodotus that the poets were its authors, or that its matter and its ritual are allegorical, or philosophy its origin and Vol. i. p. 184.
its latent interpretation. This opinion he considers to be “repugnant to all analogy, as well as to all internal evidence.” Accordingly, he conjectures that the mythology arose from the gradual development of popular ideas and feelings, brought into shape, as regards the persons, provinces, functions, and mutual relations of the deities, by many generations of sacred bards, and especially in the course of the heroic age. And thus the Hellenic period, in which the heroic is included, is contrasted with the Pelasgic.
Shortly afterwards he debates the question, whether human sacrifices entered into the religion of the Greeks, which has been disputed on account of the silence of Homer on the subject; and he reasonably concludes that such mere silence “would not in the slightest degree shake the authority of the numerous legends” which record them; that in the Iliad itself twelve Trojans are immolated by Achilles to the shade or memory of Patroclus; moreover, that the notion of propitiating an offended deity, or that foreign example, might lead to that cruel superstition, and that the bloodless dedi. cation of living persons, which was very ancient, might, not inconsistently with the manners of the heroic age, be changed into a dedication of blood.
Who will deny the fairness of these conclusions? yet how singularly are they independent of definite facts! And if such are allowable where speculation is harmless, why may they not be a duty when action is imperative?
8. Heeren, who has already been noticed, after an elaborate review of the state, monuments, and commerce of Meroe, ends by observing "that the first seats of commerce were also the first seats of civilization.”1 When we examine the proofs of this “ great conclusion, which,” he says, “becomes in a manner forced upon us," it seems to consist merely in this, that the cities of which he has treated
? Hist. Res. vol. 4, p. 475. Oxf. tr.
were both centres of civilization and marts of commerce. There is no fact adduced to decide for us, by what Lord Bacon would call an experimentum crucis, whether the commerce led to the civilization or the civilization to the commerce. He adopts however, as I have said, the former of these two propositions; and he supports it by a purely antecedent argument. “Exchange of merchandize,” he observes, “led to the exchange of ideas, and by mutual friction was first kindled the sacred flame of humanity."
Whether this antecedent reasoning be correct need not here be determined. So much may plausibly be advanced in its favour, that, of the needs respectively supplied by commerce and civilization, those supplied by commerce are far the most urgent, and are likely to have engaged the earlier attention; food has a prior claim on us to books. Yet it is remarkable that Heeren, instead of troubling himself with any closer proof than is contained in the words which have been quoted from him, had already suggested to us a previous hypothesis, which supersedes the question of this alternative altogether, viz., that religion led both to commerce and civilization. He insists, as one of the three great facts which he has proved, that the chief marts were also “establishments of a priest caste, who as a dominant race had their principal seat at Meroe,”1 whence they sent out colonies, which in their turn became builders of cities and temples, and likewise the founders of states; "a caste whose civilization was bound to their religion,"2 the fame of whose piety and justice spread even to the Greeks, 3“whose progress in architecture, and in a certain degree in the pictorial arts, is still one of the greatest problems, though one of the greatest certainties;" and, on the other hand, “who, by sending out colonies, guided the course of trade.”
And here, again, to prove the dependence of commerce on religion, ingenious and satisfactory as he
i p. 471. ? p. 475. 3 p. 477.
westablish their princvhich in
is, he is equally antecedent in his arguments, as when he would prove the dependence of civilization on commerce. His proof mainly consists of certain powerful presumptions, that trade in the East must extend under the shadow of religion, confirmed by instances, not of ancient, but modern times. Those countries,' he says, are desert wilds, inhabited by nomadic tribes; there is no security for the merchant but in sacred places. Besides, religion is a festive principle, and requires the goods of this world for its due exercise; fairs are naturally both devotional and commercial assemblages. Caravans of pilgrims are trading caravans. Mecca is still the seat of religion and commerce. “The rapidity with which a place rises in the East, when once it has obtained a sanctuary that becomes the object of pilgrimage, and by that means becomes a place of trade, almost surpasses belief,"2 as Tenta, a city of the Delta, has risen in our own day. Burkhardtfound a priestly establishment at Damer, in the isle of Meroe, of five hundred houses, which was also a trading state. These sacred characters are much reverenced by their wild neighbours, and two of them accompanied his caravan as guards. “It would require an armed force,” he adds, “to pass here without the aid of some of these religious men.” Antecedent or collateral considerations such as these, he thinks he brings home with sufficient cogency to the immediate proposition to which he has committed himself, if he can produce just one or two distinct facts in evidence, such as the probable fact that the celebrated Temple of Ammon was also the halt of a caravan. And, doubtless, he proceeds in this method of reasoning, on the latent but very reasonable principle, that it is impertinent to ask for what it is hopeless to obtain.
9. One more instance of the same method shall be supplied from Mosheim. He prefaces his Dissertation, “De turbatâ per recentiores Platonicos
I p. 448. ? p. 449. 3 p. 425.
direct evig which invol mstances whts if it be possibles,
Ecclesiâ,” by a caution that he is giving but a sketch of the alleged corruption, and of the grounds on which it is to be proved; yet as much as a sketch he certainly means to give. Now what he has undertaken to show is a fact, the fact of an extensive effect wrought on the Church by the Neo-platonic philosophy;—whether he shows it by means of direct evidence, instances or testimony, or of existing causes which involve it, or of results which presuppose it, or of circumstances which presume and betoken it. We want actual proof, if it be possible, of a definite process; of certain wrong principles, first, in Neo-platonism, and then, in matter of fact, passing from Neo-platonism into the Church, and corrupting it. Now let us see how far he answers our reasonable demand.
On the face of the history, we find that Eclecticism existed in the Church before the Eclectic sect was heard of. Athenagoras's extant works, as Mosheim refers to them, show that he was an Eclectic, that is, chose out the best opinions from all philosophies, when he was a Christian. St. Clement, again, expressly gives the name of philosophy par excellence,
not to the Stoic, Platonic, Epicurean, or Aristotelic,” but “to whatever is good in each collected together,” or “to an Eclectic system,” using the very word; and whereas some Christians spoke against philosophy, he, on the contrary, considered it as a preparation for Christianity. Moreover, Ammonius, the founder of the Neo-platonic, or Eclectic sect, who was a contemporary of St. Clement, was a Christian, and had been educated at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. And, indeed, from the nature of the case, the principle of Eclecticism must have been exercised by the Church from the first, and except upon that principle no Christian could be a philosopher at all; for Christianity, treating of the same subject-matter as heathen philosophy had undertaken, could not avoid