Зображення сторінки

much with other nations; he recalled them to their pride of conquest and exclusiveness of faith. They were going astray after different doctrines and deities from those of their fathers; he bade them be true to Ormuzd against Ahriman, but had no zeal to humble them before the Being to whom all other deities were inferior. The prayer of Zoroaster was, that he might be the blessing of his country in publishing the law of Good upon the earth.” But the work committed to him could not be fulfilled without some assistance from those who were wise enough to adopt and powerful enough to protect his reforms. The people could never have supported him against the upper classes, however readily they might have received his doctrines for themselves. The Magi would of course oppose a reformer who confessed his aim to make their religion more independent of their control; but could he win the good-will of the nobles or the king, his success was sure. Of high and royal birth himself, the only class on which Zoroaster could readily depend was that from which he was sprung. He came first before the king, from whom he demanded faith and support, and to whom he unfolded the divine character he claimed for his mission among men. The Persian name of the king was Gustasp; it probably belonged to the same monarch whom the Greeks called Darius Hystaspis. But whosoever the monarch may have been, he lent a willing ear to the reformer; nor is it strange that he did so. As well as we can learn from the writings of Zoroaster, he shared in all the fire and energy peculiar to the Persian race; and to their glory, to the glory, therefore, of their king, he was as ready to devote himself as the humblest warrior who went forth to battle under the royal banners. The Persians were the people to whom he principally preached his doctrines, and to their keeping he intrusted truths and duties which he would have thought violated in being opened to the nations whom the Persians overcame. It pleased the king, as it would have pleased any conqueror, to assist the labors whose result was sure to increase the separation of the dominant from the subject people of his empire. It was equally soothing to his own excited ideas of royalty or despotism, that he should be saluted as the vicegerent of the deity whom he worshipped; and if Darius were really the sovereign to whom Zoroaster addressed himself, he could not have hesitated to assure the prophet of his protection. But though Zoroaster relied upon the royal countenance too much to have thought of directly assailing the monarchy by reforms, he was sufficiently ardent to approach it indirectly, yet none the less determinedly, by instructions. His experiences were chiefly of the good that may be wrought by despotism; for without the aid of his sovereign, his exertions would have been utterly overpowered. But there needs little research into the precepts which Zoroaster inculcated before all the Persian nation to perceive a decided intention of making the king amenable to the same moral laws by which the people at large were governed. The reformer had a heart wide enough to interest itself for the subjects, – perhaps not so much for the inferior as for the superior, but certainly for the subjects generally,–as well as for the monarch. He could not comprehend the duties of the Persians towards the dependent nations, but he conceived with striking truth and still more amazing boldness the duties of the king towards the Persians. If Darius or any other sovereign had great powers, which Zoroaster never thought of disturbing, he had great obligations, which Zoroaster never hesitated to declare. As the monarch was to be obeyed because he was Ormuzd's representative, unaccountable to men, he was to be regarded as Ormuzd's servant, accountable to the god from whom his authority descended. Hence the declaration was not considered to be a mockery, that “the chief of chiefs must be he who is most abundant in good works”;" while throughout the Pure Law, as that of Zoroaster was called, the prosperity of the virtuous and the misery of the evil monarch were repeatedly described” in language of daring resolution. The words might express the desire of better things than could be fulfilled, but they are still to be taken as the expression of such ideas of justice as were formed under the Persian monarchy, in defiance of its periods of despotism. Zoroaster was led, however submissively he began, to set his hopes high concerning the relations between the king and the Persians. More and more struck with the immense power which had been given, as he thought, by Ormuzd to a single mortal, he renewed his efforts that Ormuzd should be served with fidelity. A sort of patriarchal government rose out of doubts and longings, as a vision he had waited to behold;" and though the contradiction between the rule of the warrior and that of the patriarch was irreconcilable, the reformer did not quail before the proposal of royal responsibilities more imperative than any which had yet been imagined amongst the loyal and ignorant people of the Persian mountains. The king was not only exhorted, but directly instructed, to govern his subjects as Ormuzd himself would govern them, like a true father and friend.” High up in heaven before the throne of the god, the prophet had beheld a burning fire. While that lasted, he related, the king would live; but when Ormuzd willed, the flame would be extinguished and the king would die. And the monarch on earth, before whom the prophet spake, must have trembled with unwonted fear, to hear his complete dependence upon the deity and the flame in heaven. 53 “For nothing imperfect,” ac- 54 See the essay of Kleuker on cording to one of the Chaldacan ora- the Civil Life of the Persians, apcles, attributed to Zoroaster, “cir- pended to his translation of the The whole world of Persia was to be constituted, according to Zoroaster, after the model of the celestial kingdom which Ormuzd ruled. The Persians of the lowest classes were uplifted from their degradation; husbandmen were openly portrayed as “sources of blessings”; * and the relief of the indigent was exalted to the highest service which Ormuzd could receive.” But it was more in the reform of lives, in the inculcation of the same virtues to every class, that Zoroaster elevated the condition of his inferior countrymen. Every Persian was bound to purity and to union; in purity,” his duties to himself, in union, those to his race, would be most thoroughly accomplished. The chief of the family or the class, the quarter or the city, was to be chosen for his superiority in the qualities which the law required; while priest, noble, or warrior was nominally accountable for the exercise of the authority he obtained.” It may be trusting too much to words, but there are many signs that Zoroaster had less hesitation in improving upon the civil than he had shown concerning the religious condition of his people. The part 55 Zend-Avesta, I. ptie. 2, p. 141. by the holiness of his thoughts, of

50 Zend-Avesta, Tom. I. ptie. 2, p. 255. Cf. p. 106.

5l Zend-Avesta, I. ptie. 2, p. 128. 52 “May the pure king command 1 May the wicked king have no power!” Zend-Avesta, I. ptie. 2, p. 201. “Give to us,” so runs a prayer, “a strong king, firm in

WOL. I. 12

right, who shall protect the good, and think nothing but what is virtuous.” Ibid., II. p. 225. Him “who comforts and supports the poor ’’ shall Ormuzd establish as the king. Ibid., I. ptie. 2, p. 81.

culates from a paternal principle.” Zend-Avesta, Vol. I. p. 71. Cory's Ancient Fragments, p. 241.

The “purest point of the law” his words, and of his actions,” was was to “sow the earth with grain.” declared to “give a new purity to

Ibid., p. 284. the pure law.” Zend-Avesta, I. 56 Zend-Avesta, 1. ptie. 2, p. 284. ptie. 2, pp. 105, 141, 367. So “he who gives alms unites him- 58 “He who is without sin shall self with him who receives.” Ibid., correct him who has committed sin, II. p. 35. and the simple Persian shall have

57 The great duty of man was to the power to reprove even the dockeep himself pure. “The word of tor of the law.” Zend-Avesta, 1. the pure Zoroaster” was his guide; ptie. 2, p. 128. but “he who purifieth his own law

« НазадПродовжити »