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RELIGION DIFFERENT FROM SCIENCE. 169 spread his sail so as to catch the wind blowing from the West, from the setting of the sun, would not yet constitute a religious act, even though the Westwind had been called Zephyrus 1, and become known as the son of Eos and Astraeos. We should have entered the domain of mythology, but not yet that of religion. But when in the Iliad (xxi. 192) the funeral pile with the corpse of Patroklos on it, does not burn, and Achilles prays to the two winds, Boreas and Zephyros, and promises them beautiful offerings (iepà kalá) if they will come and kindle the flames, we shall then have to admit that we are at least on the threshold of religion, though as yet on the threshold only. For though sacrifices are generally considered as religious acts, they are sometimes mere customs which in the beginning had little or nothing of religion about them.
When, however, men begin to feel constrained to do what they do not like to do, or to abstain from what they would like to do, for the sake of some unknown powers which they have discovered behind the storm or the sky or the sun or the moon, then we are at last on religious ground.
Moral Influences of Physical Phenomena. It has often been considered very strange that a mere perception of the powers of nature should have influenced the acts of men, or that even a belief in personal agents, as manifested in such phenomena as the rising and setting of the sun, the changes of day and night, of the seasons and of the year, or again in
i See M. M., • Zephyros und Gâhusha,' in Techmer's Internationale Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, 1 Band, 1 Heft, 1884.
storm and rain, in thunder and lightning, should have supplied motives for virtuous efforts.
I am far from maintaining that natural phenomena by themselves would have sufficed to call out moral sentiments, ideas of right and wrong in man. This is a subject that belongs to the student in ethics, and on which I do not at present mean to touch. Thus Dr. Martineau writes in his Study of Religion, i. 16: • The enquiries on which we are now entering have been preceded by a treatment of ethical theory (in his work, The Types of Ethical Theory, 1885), the results of which will here be assumed as known. This order of exposition undoubtedly implies that I do not regard moral rules as depending upon prior religious belief; and that I do regard the consciousness of duty as an originating condition of religion.' Professor Flint also, in his works on Theism and Antitheistic Theories, regards ethics as quite independent of religion, though he admits the powerful influence which religion may exercise on morality. In his chapter on Secularism (p. 242) he goes so far as to say that morality which ignores religion is inherently weak because inherently self-contradictory. But when these sentiments had once been called forth, in however rudimentary a form, the contemplation of natural phenomena, whether in their unbroken order or in their violent disturbance, might well have reacted upon them and developed them in a new direction. It has often been said that fear made the gods, but it is equally true to say that the gods, even in their purely physical character, made men fear. When man had once learnt to fear the gods of the sky in their terrible aspect, and to admire
1 'Primus in orbe deos fecit timor,' Statius, Theb. iii, 661.
them in their beneficent character, what was more natural than that this relation between man and the gods should call out the same feelings of fear and awe, but also of respect and gratitude, which a child feels towards his parents. If a child could implore his father to spare him, or thank his mother for acts of kindness, why should not man have implored the father of the sky to restrain the storm, or thanked the mother Earth for her kindly gifts ?
It is sometimes supposed that it was peculiar to the Aryan nations only to interpret the signs and wonders of nature in a religious sense. But it seems to me that the same spirit pervades all the pages of the Old Testament. Every deluge was accepted as a punishment, and the bow in the cloud was interpreted as a token of a covenant between God and man. In the Psalms the anger of the Lord is constantly perceived in the great commotions of the sky and the earth. “The earth shook and trembled, the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because He was wroth.'
It is quite true that not every natural phenomenon, nor every god, would evoke such feelings of fear and awe. Hermes and Hephaestos, Venus and Mars were not likely at first to react on the moral character of those who believed in them and celebrated their achievements. But the gods of thunder and lightning, the god of rain and sunshine, as soon as they had been recognised, could hardly help being addressed by supplicants to grant them their favour and their protection.
You know the old prayer of the Athenians 1 : ûgov, Όσον, ώ φίλε Ζεύ, κατά της αρούρας των Αθηναίων και
1 Lect. S. L. ii. 476.
TÔV medlwv, 'Rain, rain, O dear Zeus, on the land of the Athenians and on the fields.'
Here we might translate Zeus by sky, but the vocative pide Zeû, dear Zeus, at once brings in the personal element.
Vedic Prayers. In the Veda also we can see how a poet first appeals to the mighty works achieved by Indra, the god of storm and thunder and lightning, and asks people to believe in him; and how he implores the same god not to hurt his children, because he believes in him.
* Look 1 at this great and mighty work,' he says, and believe in the power of Indra.' And again :
Do not hurt our nearest kin, O Indra, for we believe in thy great power.'
When the gods have thus been invoked as powerful beings, able to injure man, but also willing to protect him, a mutual relation between gods and men is soon established, and people profess to do what is right in order to please the gods, and to avoid evil in order to escape their anger.
Early Morality. This is the earliest morality founded on a belief in physical deities. It may not be a very exalted morality; it is very much founded on the principle of Do ut des. But it contained germs which might grow. and improve till men could say, as Fichte said, that all ‘moral action flows from the love of God gently and quickly, as light flows from the sun.'
Hibbert Lectures, p. 307.
Moral Influence of Ancestral Spirits. That a belief in ancestral spirits might likewise influence human actions, requires hardly any proof. I believe it could be shown that the earliest ideas of right and wrong in a legal sense arose from that belief. It was the father who had laid down what should be done during his life-time, he being generally the stronger and the wiser man. And after his death, whenever doubts arose as to what was right and what was wrong to be done, an appeal to what the father had settled and laid down would often decide the question. Early law-books are very commonly ascribed to some distant ancestor, some Unkulunkulu, or, as in India, to Manu, the father of mankind, of whom it was said that “whatever Manu declared, was medicine,' that is, was a remedy, and a prescription that ought to be followed by his children. Sir Henry Maine, in his work on Ancient Law (p. 125), has well explained how law was originally the parent's word, and how in Greece the so-called Oeulotes were the awards of judges, whether chiefs of families, of tribes, or of confederacies. They were not laws in our sense of the word, but dooms, decisions, and they were supposed to have a divine character and even a divine origin, because they were inspired by Justice, the daughter of Zeus, and only pronounced by the ancient judges. Sir Henry Maine has illustrated this first phase in the history of law by a comparison with Indian Law.
Ancestral Law in China. Let me give you another illustration from China, taken from a recent work on China, its social, political and religious life, by M. Eug. Simon. M. Simon,