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and we cannot but think, that its importance in early Christian history, which has usually been traced almost exclusively in the West, has been much underrated. Hence came the mystic Cabala (1) of the Jews, ihe chief parent of those gnostic opinions, out of which grew lhe heresies of the early Church : here the Jews, under the Prince of the captivity, held their most famous schools, where learning was embodied in the Babylonian Talmud; and here the most influential heresiarch, Manes, attempted to fuse into one system the elements of Magianism, Cabalism, and Christianity. Having thus rapidly traced the fortunes of this great Jewish colony, we must reascend to the time of its first establishment.
From a very early period the Jews seem to have possessed a Cabala, a traditionary comment or interpretation of the sacred writings. Whether it existed before the Captivity, it is impossible to ascertain; it is certain that many of their books, even those written by distinguished prophets, Gad and Iddo, were lost at that disastrous time. But whether they carried any accredited tradition to Babylonia, it seems evident, from the Oriental cast which it assumed, that they either brought it from thence on their relurn to their native land, or received it subsequently during their intercourse with their Eastern brethren (2). Down to the Captivity the Jews of Palestine had been in contact only with the religions of the neighbouring nations, which, however differently modified, appear to have been essentially the same, a sort of Nature-worship,
in which the host of Heaven, especially the sun and moon, under Syrian
different names, Baal and Moloch, Astarte and Mylitta, and proReligions. bably as symbols or representatives of the active and passive powers
of nature, no doubt with some distinction of their attributes, were the predominant objects. These religions had long degenerated into cruel or licentious superstitions ; and the Jews, in falling off to the idolatry of their neighbours, or introducing foreign rites into their own religious system, not merely offended against the great primal distinction of their faith, the unily of the godhead, but sunk from the pure, humane, and comparatively civilised institutes of their lawgiver, to the loose and sanguinary usages of
barbarism. In the East, however, they encountered a religion of Religion of Persia. a far nobler and more regular structure (3): a religion which offered
no templation to idolatrous practices; for the Magian rejected, with the devout abhorrence of the followers of Moses, the exhibilion of the Deity in the human form; though it possessed a rich store of mythological and symbolical figures, singularly analogous to those which may be considered the poetic machinery of the later seems peculiarly appropriate if written in that
(1) Cabala is used here in its most extensive region.
sense. See Chiarini, p. 97. Lucan's “Cumque superba foret Babylon spo- (2) Mosheim, De Rebus Christ, ii. 18. lianda" may indeed be mere poetic licence, or (3) In Asiâ Persarum religionem cæteris esse may allude to Seleucia,
nobiliorem. Mosheim, Inst. p. 58., and Grot, de
Ver. ii. 10.
Hebrew prophets (1). The religion of Persia seems to have held an intermediate rank belween the Pantheism of India, where the whole universe emanated from the Deity, and was finally to be reabsorbed into the Deity, and the purer Theism of the Jews, which asserted the one omnific Jehovah, and seemed to place a wide and impassable interval between the nature of the Creator and that of the crealed being. In the Persian system, the Creation owed its existence to the conflicting powers of evil and good. These were subordinate to, or proceeding from, the Great Primal Cause (Zeruane Akerene), Time without bounds (2), which in fact appears, as Gibbon observes, ralher as a metaphysical abstraction, than as an active and presiding deity. The Creation was at once the work and the dominion of the two antagonist creators, who had balanced against each other in perpetual conflict a race of spiritual and material beings, light and darkness, good and evil. This Magianism, subsequent to the Jewish Captivity (3), and during the residence of the caplives in Mesopotamia, either spread with the conquests of the Persians, from the régions farther to the east, Aderbijan and Bactria, or was first promulgated by Zoroaster, who is differently represenled as the author or as the reformer of the faith. From the remarkable allusions or points of coincidence belween some of the Magian tenets and the Sacred Writings (4), Hide and Prideaux laboured to prove that Zoroaster (5) had been a pupil of Daniel, and derived [hose nolions, which seem more nearly allied to the purer Jewish failh, from his intercourse with the Hebrew prophel, who held a high station under the victorious MedoPersian monarchy (6). But, in fact, there is such an originality Complete6)
Zoroastri. (1) This, it may be observed, has no connec- of gold,” or “the star of splendour," and may
an system, tion whatever with the originality or authority have been a litle or appellative. of these predictions. It should be borue in mind, (6) The bypotbesis which places Zoroaster that in these visions. it is the moral or religious under the reign of Darius Hystaspes, identified meaning alone which can be the object of faith, with the Gushtasp of Persian mythological hisnot the figures through which that meaning is tory, is maintained by Hyde, Prideaux, Anquetil conveyed. There is no reason why the images of du Perron, Kleuker, Herder, Goerres, Malcolm, Daniel and Ezekiel should not be derived from, Von Hammer, and apparently by De Guignaut. or assimilate to, the prevalent förins around The silence of Herodotus appears to me among them, as well as those of the rustic Amoz be the strongest objections to this view. chiefly drawn from pastoral or rural life. See, e. Foucher, Tychsen, Heeren, and recently Holty, 8., Chiarini's curious theory about the chariot identify Gushtasp with Cyaxares I., and place the of Ezekiel. Preface to Talmud, p. 90. and 101. religious revolution under the previous Median
(2) So translated by Du Perron and Kleuker. dynasty.
These views may in some degree be reconciled (3) The appearance of the Magian order, be. by the supposition that it was a reformation, not fore the conquest of Babylon by the Medo-Per- a primary development of the religion which sian Kings, is an extremely difficult question. took place under the Medo-Persian, or the Persian Nebuchadnezzar's arıny was attended (Jer. xxxix monarchy. The elements of the faith and the 3.) by Nergal-sharezer, the Rab-mag, 22 27 caste of the Magi were, I should conceive, earlier. (Archimagus). Compare Bertholdt, Daniel Ex
The inculcation of agricultural habits on a peo
ple emerging from the pastoral life, so well decurs, iii. (4) Isaiah, xlvii. 7.
veloped by Heeren, seems to indicate a more an
cient date, Consult also Gesenius on Isaiah, Ixv. (5) The name of Zoroaster (Zerotoash), has been deduced from works signifying
5. Constant, sur la Religion, ii. 187. “the star
and completeness in the Zoroastrian system, and in its leading
Is, as appears to be the general opinion of the continental wridavesta. ters, who have most profoundly investigated the subject, we have
authentic remains, or at least records which, if of later dale, con-
(1) It may be necessary, in this country, briefly afford sufficient ground for supposing that they
Klenker, to form a complete system. II. Du Per- tion; and those points in which Parseism seems • ron must have forged the language in which the to coincide with Christianity are integral and in
books are written, as well as the books them separable parts of their great system. And against selves. But the Zend is universally admitted by all such opinions must be weighed the learned the great Orientalists and historians of language paper of Professor Rask, who gives strong rea; to be a genuine and very curious branch of the sons for the antiquity both of the language and Eastern dialects. (See Bopp. Vergleichende Gram- of the books. The language he considers the vermatik.) It should be added, that the publication nacular tongue of ancient Media. (Trans, of of the Zendavesta, in the original, has been Asiatic Society, iii. 524.). Still, while I appeal to coinmenced by M. Bournonf in Paris, and by the Zendavesta as authority, I shall only adduce M. Olshausen in Germany.
the more general leading principles of the faitb, III. These documents may be considered as of which the antiquity appears certain ; and more rodern compilations, of little greater au- rarely any tenet for which we have not corrobothority than the Sadder, which Hyde translated rative authority in the Greek and Latin writers. from the modern Persian. That they are of the The testimonies of the latter have been collected age of Zoroaster, it may be difficult to prove; both by Du Perron and Kleuker. but their internal evidence, and their coinci- (2) Mosheim has traced with brevity, but with dence with the other notices of the Persian reli. his usual good sense and candour, this analogy givn, scattered among the writings of the Greeks between the traditional notions of the Jews and and Romans (see du Perron's and Kleuker's il- those of the Magians. De Reb. antè Const. M. ii. 7. lustrations, especially the Persica of the latter),
many of those doctrines, about which the great schism in the Jewish popular creed, that of the traditionists and antitraditionists, conlended for several centuries. It has already been observed, that in the later prophetic writings, many allusions and much of what may be called the poetic language and machinery, is strikingly similar to the main principles of the Magian faith. Nor can it be necessary to suggest how completely such expressions as the " children of light," and the “ children of darkness," had become identified with the common language of the Jews, at the time of our Saviour: and when Jesus proclaimed himself" the Light of the world,” no doubt he employed a term familiar to the ears of the people, though, as usual, they might not clearly comprehend in what sense it was applicable to the Messiah, or to the purely moral character of the new religion.
It is generally admitled, that the Jewish notions about the an- The an. gels (1), one great subject of dispute in their synagogues, and what
gels. may be called their Dæmonology, received a strong foreign linge during their residence in Babylonia. The earliest books of the Old Testament fully recognize the ministration of angels; but in Babylonia (2) this simpler creed grew up into a regular hierarchy, in which the degrees of rank and subordination were arranged with almost heraldic precision. The seven great archangels of Jewish tradition correspond with the Amschaspands of the Zendavesta (3): and in strict mulual analogy, both systems arrayed against each other a separate host of spiritual beings, with distinct powers and functions. Each nation, each individual had in one case his Ferver, in the other his guardian angel (4); and was exposed to the malice of the hostile Dev or Dæmon. In apparent allusion to or coincidence with this system, the visions of Daniel represent Michael, the tutelar anget or intelligence of the Jewish people, in opposition to the four angels of the great monarchies; and even our Saviour seems to condescend to the popular language, when he represents the parental care of the Almighty over children under the significant and beautiful
(1) La doctrine de l'existence des anges, fondée (3) Jonathan, the Chaldean paraphrast, on
Compare also Foucher's Disquisition, translated
ed from all connec
image, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of
my Father which is in Heaven (1).” Principle
The great impersonated Principle of Evil appears to have assumed much of the character of the antagonist power of darkness. The name itself of Salan (2), which in the older poetical book of Job is assigned to a spirit of different attributes, one of the celestial ministers who assemble before the throne of the Almighty, and is used in the earlier books of the Old Testament in its simple sense of an adversary, became appropriated to the prince of the malignant spirits—the head and representative of the spiritual world, which ruled over physical as well as moral evil.
Even the notion of the one Supreme Deity had undergone some ity remov- inodification consonant to certain prevailing opinions of the time.
Wherever any approximation had been made to the sublime truth tion with of the one great First Cause, either awful religious reverence or
rial philosophic abstraction had removed the primal Deity entirely
beyond the sphere of human sense, and supposed that the inter-
more popular or more philosophie, the more material or more abMediator. stract notions of the age or people (3). This was the doctrine from
the Ganges, or even the shores of the Yellow Sea (4), to the Ilissus;
'(4) M. Abel Remusat says, of the three Chi-
(6) See above.
(7) Πάν το δαιμονιών μεταξύ εστι
books of the Old Testament. In the book of