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ing gardens, and ever-flowing fountains of nectar. That such places really existed, and would hereafter be enjoyed by pious souls, was a subject of earnest and vital belief among the Hindoos; a fact sufficiently proved by the large numbers among them who, in all ages have eagerly sought death, in hopes of entering Paradise. It was natural that they should thus long for regions abounding with delicious fruit, flowing with milk, wine, and honey, inhabited by the wise and good, who there spent thousands or millions of years, according to their degrees of merit, enjoying all that was beautiful in sight or sound, singing praises to the Gods, and constantly increasing in knowledge. But it is not easy to imagine why men deprived themselves of all pleasure in this world, and tortured their poor bodies, with the hope of becoming absorbed in the Universal Soul, which of course involved annihilation of their own identity. Yet those who entered upon a saintly career regarded such absorption as a state of perfect beatitude, for the attainment of which it was wise to sacrifice every thing in this life. Egyptian monuments plainly indicate belief in ascending spheres of existence, through which the pure departed were led by starry Spirits, till they arrived at the realm of supernal glory; while the wicked passed through descending spheres of degradation and misery. There is reason to suppose that they also regarded union with the Supreme as the highest bliss. The Druids had such assured faith in a life beyond the grave, that they actually loaned money on the promise of repayment in another world; and the same thing is related of Buddhists. In Greece, the populace seem to have been almost entirely swayed by hopes and fears of a temporal nature. But they believed that the souls of departed ancestors were living somewhere, and took a sympathizing interest in human affairs; for they always invoked their aid in great emergencies. The beautiful conceptions of their poets concerning the Elysian Fields seem to have flitted, like graceful shadows, through the imagination, without taking strong hold upon their faith. Reflecting men among them expressed themselves on the subject with timid uncertainty, often mingled with earnest hope, and lofty aspirations toward an infinite perfection of being. Pictures of a future existence formed no part of the sacred literature of Hebrews. There are no direct and positive allusions to it in the books ascribed to Moses. It was not until after the return from Babylon, when the Persian language and ideas were amalgamated with their own, that the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body became subjects of dispute between different sects. When the belief did prevail among them, it was coupled with the prevailing oriental theories of preexistence and transmigration. The allusions to the subject, even in the later Prophets, are brief, incidental, and indefinite. The hope of immortality is so inherent in human nature, the heart has so universally clung to it, imagination has invested it with such wealth of beauty, that the apparent absence of it among a people so devout is a singular fact, of which I have never seen any satisfactory explanation. Bishop Warburton, in his “Divine Legation of Moses," acknowledges the fact, and attempts to account for it thus : The basis of his theory is that no people can be restrained from sin without the fear of future punishment, and the hope of future reward, unless by the miraculous interposition of Deity. The Jews, being under the perpetual and personal guidance of Jehovah, were intended to be a miraculous exception to this universal law. Therefore, whoever transgressed among them was sure to suffer the consequences of his sin in this life; or if he did not, his posterity could not escape from it; and this was done to prove to Jehovah's chosen people that he was always present with them, watching all their ways. Moses, knowing this was the Divine policy, purposely concealed his own faith in the immortality of the soul, and guided the people altogether by temporal inducements.
The inhabitants of Asiatic countries were greatly troubled with poisonous serpents; and when they imagined what torments would be inflicted on wicked souls, they naturally supposed that they dwelt in regions infested with stinging serpents, and gnawing worms that never died. It was the general belief that these places of suffering were temporary abodes, merely intended to purify the soul from sin; that purpose being accomplished, it would return to earth to serve another probation, and perchance attain to Paradise. Fire, being the subtlest of the elements, and the least connected with Matter, was supposed to be the most effectual for purification. Some passed through fire in this life, or passed their children through fire, as a baptism, or even burned themselves to death, to avoid the necessity of such a cleansing process hereafter, when it would be all the more prolonged for not being voluntary. Of course, with such ideas, fire was a predominant feature in their conception of regions prepared for the wicked. Hindoos, Persians, Greeks, and Jews, all supposed sinners would be subjected to such purification. Persians believed that all Spirits, even the Devil himself, would finally do homage to goodness, and thus become happy. Jews supposed that the wicked of their own nation would be tormented with fire hereafter, but merely for purposes of purification. At the end of the world, they would be summoned to rise from the dead, and share in the bliss of the Messiah's kingdom. They generally supposed that other nations would have no resurrection.
Hindoos made an exact calculation of the amount of reward and punishment appropriate to every degree of sin. If a man did more than good enough to save himself from punishment, it was so much earned and invested in Paradise. Every additional prayer, every act of charity to pilgrims, or the poor, increased his stock. Therefore, the pious among them were greatly addicted to works of supererogation; and the same was the case with Pharisees among the Jews. Hindoos also believed that the prayers, offerings, and almsgiving of one man might be transferred for the benefit of another. Consequently, they prayed, and did penance, and made offerings to the gods, and gave donations to the Bramins, and alms to pilgrims, for the benefit of departed ancestors; believing that every such
act on their part helped to shorten their period of punish. ment in another world. Buddhists adopted these views, as they did most of the traditions of their native land.
As soon as men conceived of punishment for sin, they began to seek some mode of escape from it by proxy. Blood, being considered the principle of life, was deemed an appropriate expiation, peculiarly acceptable to deities. Large and noble animals were more highly esteemed for this purpose than smaller ones. Therefore superb horses were sacrificed to the beneficent Spirit of the Sun, who, in many countries, was the most popular object of worship. Man, being the noblest of all animals, was the highest kind of sacrifice, and his blood was supposed to atone for a greater amount of sins than the blood of horses or oxen. Consequently human victims were offered to atone for na. tional sins, or to avert national calamities. Hence, when Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover, when each family offered the blood of a Paschal Lamb as atonement for sin, the High Priest said it was "good that one man should die for all the people.” The idea that men might be forcibly put to death for the offences of others grew into the belief that he who voluntarily sacrificed himself might thereby expiate the sins of his whole family, tribe, or nation. Thus the Hindoo widow, who voluntarily burned herself on the funeral pile of her husband, was supposed thereby to atone for all the transgressions of his family and her own. The higher and holier the victim, the more efficacious the blood, and the greater the amount of sins it could wash away. Even when the Jewish High Priest died in the course of nature, his death was supposed to atone for all the involuntary sins the people had committed since the annual Day of Atonement. In great emergencies, kings sacrificed their children, and sometimes offered their own blood, to expiate the sins of the whole nation, and avert the wrath of offended deities.
It has been already stated that the existence of Evil was ascribed to the imperfection of Matter. This sounds like a harmless abstract theory; but it formed the root of many theological opinions, and has had an extensive and powerful influence on human character and destiny. At a very early period, it introduced civil war into the house of life, by teaching men to regard the body as an enemy to the soul. Passions and instincts given for usefulness, and for enjoyment, were considered spiritual snares. A healthy body and a good appetite were hindrances in the
of holiness; and to feel sexual attraction was yielding to the instigation of the Devil. In order to become angels, men tormented their poor material forms. They reduced themselves to skeletons, by midnight watchings and prolonged fasts; they scourged themselves till the blood flowed; they tore their flesh with hooks, and burned it with fire. They spent their wealth in sacrifices, and their time in prayers, to atone for the sin of having any bodily wants. From this horror of natural instincts arose the traditions of various nations that their holy teachers were born of virgins; that process being supposed necessary, in order to disconnect them with the alleged impurity of human passions.
With regard to Evil Spirits, the growth of ideas seems to have been very gradual. In the beginning, there was no distinct and defined separation between good and evil in the minds of men. In Hindoo theology, the same god destroyed and reproduced, and was not supposed to be impelled by wicked motives in his work of destruction, any more than Nature is. In Egypt, the two powers were divided, but the malignant Typho was twin brother of Osiris the good. Zoroaster taught the doctrine of one powerful Prince of Darkness, who headed a legion of wicked subordinates, in perpetual warfare with the God of Light. The idea of one representative of evil, named Satan, did not appear in Jewish writings till after their residence in Babylon. A host of inferior Evil Spirits swarmed in all religions, and were everywhere supposed to produce diseases by taking possession of human bodies. Sudden and violent attacks of illness, such as insanity, or fits, were peculiarly attributed to their agency. It was the general