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III.

Practical

character

CHAP. a production either of Ormazd the good divinity, or else of the impure arch-demon,-the Old Persian was at least as anxious to escape from bodily defilement', or from contact with material things possessed by Ahriman, as to exemplify the higher moral qualities of which that Evil One had introduced the hideous negations. On the other hand, of the Old it is apparent that the consciousness of an unceasing Persian. conflict in the spirit-world had kept alive the habit of discriminating between moral light and moral darkness, and produced in many hearts a deep abhorrence of the evil, and a resolute yearning after good. The Persian had been commonly one of the least compromising, if not also the most active and most truthful, nations of antiquity. Accustomed to regard the universe in general as one mighty battlefield, the genuine worshipper of Ormazd had also tenanted his own immediate sphere with foes innumerable: his mission was to aid in counteracting the unwearied malice of the devs, to vindicate the cause of right and truth against the advocates of wrong and falsehood; and the stern intolerant spirit breathed by despots like Cambyses indicates the natural product of that system of religion, when directed by unflinching hands.

On this subject, see, for instance, Vendid. VII.193-196. Rhode (Die heilige Sage des Zendvolks, pp. 453 sq. Frankfurt, 1820) in discussing such passages attempts to establish an absolute identity of view in the Avesta and the Old Testament: but whatever may be urged with regard to some particulars, there is certainly not a word in the Books of Moses to justify the supposition

that any creature is essentially unclean, or that certain animals are produced by the creative energy of an Evil Principle.

2 Burnouf, Études, in the Journ. Asiat. (1840), p. 324, regards the importance assigned to the 'sentiment of human personality and morality' as the best feature of 'Zoroastrianism.'

III.

High posi

kings.

ship.

Indeed the Persian monarchs may be fitly taken CHAP. as at once the visible centres and the highest practical illustrations of the Medo-Persian theology. tion of the Unchecked alike by the intrigues and admoni- Persian tions of a dominant priesthood, such as that which flourished at the ancient court of Oude, or Thebes, or Memphis, they stood forward the supreme reflections, if not actual incarnations, of the glory of Ormazd1. The warm and flexible polytheism of King-wor their subjects had been earnestly directed towards them. They seemed to be entrusted with the sole administration of the light-kingdom, as the Pharaohs of an earlier period were the children of the Sun3. Their court was an inferior copy of the court of Ormazd: on grand or critical occasions they convoked a solemn council, the idea of which, in form and number, had been borrowed from the brilliant circle of divine amshaspands; and as 'words of Ormazd' himself were deemed most sacred and oracular, the law of ancient Persia had been taken from the lips of her great despot, who by placing his own signet on the harshest of decrees could render them irrevocable.

1 Thus, when Themistocles (Plutarch. Them. c. xxvii.) wished to be presented to the king, he was told by the Persian Artabanus that he must first submit to offer worship 'to the image of god the preserver of all things,' (i. e. of Ormazd). Curtius (VIII. 5) in like manner, says expressly, 'Persas reges suos inter deos colere:' see Hengstenberg,

Genuineness of Daniel, pp. 103 sq.
Edinb. 1847.

2 Arrian, Alex. IV. II, mentions
a report that this προσκύνησις began
with Cyrus: Λέγεται τὸν πρῶτον
προσκυνηθῆναι ἀνθρώπων Κῦρον καὶ
ἐπὶ τῷδε ἐμμεῖναι Πέρσαις τε καὶ
Μήδοις τήνδε τὴν ταπεινότητα.
3 Above, p. 38.

CHAPTER IV.

Alleged Affinities of the Medo-Persian Creed to
Hebraism and Christianity.

Οὕτω λέγει Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς τῷ χριστῷ μου Κύρῳ, οὗ ἐκράτησα τῆς δεξιᾶς... Ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι πλὴν ἐμοῦ θεός. ἐνίσχυσά σε, καὶ οὐκ ᾔδεις με. ἵνα γνῶσιν οἱ ἀπ' ἀνατολῶν ἡλίου καὶ οἱ ἀπὸ δυσμῶν, ὅτι οὐκ ἔστι θεὸς πλὴν ἐμοῦ. ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι. ἐγὼ ὁ κατασκευάσας φῶς, καὶ ποιήσας σκότος, ὁ ποιῶν εἰρήνην, καὶ κτίζων κακά. ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς, ὁ ποιῶν πάντα ταῦτα. Is. xlv. 17. (LXX.)

CHAP. THE second period in her life-time when the IV. Hebrew Church was forced into more lasting and The Great direct communication with the heathen of surCaptivity. rounding countries must be dated from the middle of the eighth century before the Christian era. As the prelude to a general deportation of the Ten Tribes, the settlers in the Trans-Jordanic province had been carried captive to Assyria under Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings xv. 29); and at length, about the year 600, a large portion of the feeble remnant, stricken by a like calamity, had run the risk of being quite extinguished under the tremendous despotism, which formed in every age a vivid type of the ungodlike and unchristlike,-Babylon the Great.

Causes of

it.

The exile was itself, however, the effect', and not the cause, of cravings after all the abominations of the heathen.' From the period of the Exodus the leaders of the Hebrew nation had been ever struggling with this downward, retro

1 See above, pp. 142-145.

Alleged Affinities of the Medo-Persian Creed. 183

it.

IV.

gressive, tendency. 'The Lord God of their CHAP. fathers sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes and sending...but they mocked the messengers of God and despised His words and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy' (2 Chron. xxxvi. 15, 16.) Yet penal Effects of though it was, the isolation of the Hebrews in the 'wilderness of the nations' had been also meant as a corrective discipline, and actually conduced by visible stages to the culture and the exaltation of the Church. Henceforth, as Jew and Christian have alike acknowledged, there was far less disposition to relapse into the bondage of the old polytheism. Closer contact with the creed and institutions of his heathen taskmasters had wakened in the spirit of the Hebrew exile a more deep and passionate longing not for Salem only, but the worship of his fathers' God. He bowed no more in adoration of the graven image, nor of elements and heavenly bodies: he no longer substituted a personification of recurring processes in animal or vegetable nature for the God of the spirits of all flesh.' It is again observable that New phases the trying period of captivity, when the Hebrew of doctrine. could no longer celebrate the ritual worship of his fathers, was selected as the aptest time for inculcating lessons of Divine wisdom on the subject of a new œconomy and a truer service of the heart: while prophecies of the Messiah, in accordance with the law of progress and expansion which obtains in all their earlier stages, had been now detached more plainly from the thought of national

1 Part I. pp. 147-149.

CHAP. triumph or disaster, and invested with their fullest form and their most spiritual expression.

IV.

Modern

theories

the effect of

the Cap

tivity.

But while sacred writers on the one hand trace respecting that exile to the heathenish temper of the chosen people, and attribute on the other hand the restoration of the Hebrews to a signal act of mercy following their profound repentance, the assailants of revealed religion have persisted in affirming that the sojourn of the Jews in Babylonia was the time when, most of all, they had deflected from the creed of Abraham and David, when the priest and prophet also, equally besotted by the popular love of heathenism, had joined in the adulteration of the choicest truths committed to their keeping. With the sole exception of a faithful remnant, whose descendants must be sought for (it is now discovered) in the sect of the Sadducees, the great community returned from Babylon, so infected with the superstitions of the foreign despot, that the doctors of the subsequent period (not excepting Christ and the Apostles) had been all unable or unwilling to shake off the dominant delusion. As the traces of Egyptian heathenism were freely pointed out, by this class of critics, in the ritual institutions of the ancient Hebrew, they proceed to argue that a worse corruption in respect of doctrine had resulted from his long familiarity with the Zendic literature of Medo-Persia.

With what

form of

were the Hebrews

Now in estimating this momentous question it heathenism is doubtless of the first importance to observe that any influences exerted on the Hebrews by the votaries of the Ormazd-religion must have always, in the period of the exile, been extremely slender

contact?

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