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sentiments of love and pity in the human breast? Those varied acts demand not one but many Deities of varying powers; and yet they seem to work in harmony, a union so complete that after all they must be One. So now 'tis Indra, now Varuna; next 'tis Agni, God of Fire; then Ushas, Goddess of the Dawn, or Maruts God of Storms, of whom the worshipper by turns obtains a glimpse whilst gazing upwards into heaven and essaying to scale its heights. But what he fails to see is One Divinity, immutable amidst the shifting scenes of nature.
Thus, even in that early age there sate a venerable God on high in a material heaven, ruling in wisdom and in power: a King possessing mortal passions, and stepping down from time to time to mingle with his earthly subjects, to aid or thwart their plans, direct their individual acts and thoughts; reward their virtues, or chastise their sins. Around his throne there stood the lesser gods and heroes ; mortals raised up from earth to dwell with Him in heaven, and there to taste immortal joys perhaps as gross and carnal as the pleasures of this world, but unalloyed with pain and disappointment. Those were the courtiers and attendants of the many-featured Vedic God.
Before this earliest picture of the Deity is allowed to pass, let us for a moment consider what it teaches us regarding the people by whom it was painted. Reflecting, as it does (and as all conceptions of the Deity have ever done), the nature of the men who worshipped him, it shows us that even in that primeval stage they possessed all the moral and immoral propensities of modern civilised communities. Intoxication, violence in drink, and gambling, are already
mentioned as sins to be avoided. The inordinate love of riches is deprecated, even whilst wealth, pastoral of course amongst an agricultural people, is directly asked in prayer; indeed the only difference between the Aryan and modern Man in that respect appears to be, that the former was a little more honest and ingenuous in the terms of his petition. The thirst for glory, too, was prominent amongst the passions of our race, and the warrior chiefs who, in our day, issue proclamations in regard to victories with which the Almighty crowns their arms, differ but in a small degree from him of old, who through the favour of the Deity and with his aid, gloriously captured the “sixty thousand and ninety-nine forts,” and who "advanced from town to town” in pools of blood. A trifle less exaggeration now, and a little more humanity, perhaps, in the treatment of the wounded; there the distinction terminates. But on the other hand, that the kind mortal is "greater than the great in heaven,” and alms-giving warmly recommended; these indicate the presence of the higher qualities of love and charity in men ; whilst the repentant tone, the frequent repetition of the prayer that sin may be avoided, and the noblest ends attained ; those, coupled with the oftrepeated praise of the Divine Ideal, whose titles always indicated greatness and beneficence, indisputably prove that even then our ancestors possessed a firm conviction of their heavenly origin and destiny. And so the contemplation of this crude, imperfect, outline of the Godhead, teaches us that in the earliest age Man was a sinning, but repentant creature, born to toil and pleasure intermixed, with aspirations after peace, and joy, and final rest above.
“I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name' JEHOVAH was I not known unto them.”—Exodus vi., v. 3.
It is not our intention to trench more than is absolutely necessary upon the debatable ground of controversial theology, or it might be deemed necessary, before we seek to obtain a glimpse of the Semitic Deity in the sacred writings of the past, to inquire whether or not the Hebrews were true 'monotheists. A few reflections on this head may perhaps arise incidentally out of the contemplation of the picture of “Jehovah,” but it may be as well to state that the controversy does not appear to the author to possess the importance which certain learned writers have thought fit to attach to it.* For there are two kinds of monotheism, the one which recognises an omnipresent Deity, the Ruler of the universe, the Father of the whole human race, and the guardian of life in all its phases and aspects, the other a belief in a God whose care is bestowed upon some particular race or section of the human family; a faith which never concerns itself about the possibility of other gods, or any Providence for less highly favoured peoples, or which tacitly admits the existence of inferior deities, all of whom are however pretenders, and but second
* Vide Semitic Monotheism in Professor Max Müller's Chips from · a German Workshop,' and the works of Renan there noticed.
ary in comparison with “our true God.” All the evidence that can be extracted from the earlier portions of the Old Testament tends to show that the monotheism of the ancient Hebrews was of the latter kind, and some of its spirit has been transmitted not only to their modern descendants, but it has also found its way into the faith of many Christian denominations, who, although they do not openly proclaim it to the world, still believe that theirs is the true faith, and that they are a people specially favoured by the Almighty.
But if it be not our province to enter upon polemical debate, there is another treatment of the subject which demands our earnest consideration, and which will have to be kept constantly in mind throughout this and the two succeeding chapters, namely, the gradual expansion of the contracted and anthropomorphic monotheism of the early Hebrews, into the broad unitarian theology of the great Master;
and if the question be scientifically and dispassionately investigated, it will be found that the developmental theory is just as applicable to the human mind in its conception of the Deity, as it is to the visible and material operations of nature, by the observation of which the divine image has been to a large extent moulded. It was formerly thought, and is still believed by some, that the Almighty has from time to time brought new forms of life into being, by a special and immediate interference with the regular order of nature; that is to say, that He temporarily suspended or changed His known laws in order to produce
new types of existence, per saltum, but that scientific creed is being displaced by the theory that all changes in the material world have been brought about slowly and almost imperceptibly by the Almighty power, acting through what are
termed secondary causes, but in complete accordance with recognised laws, and by means of the ordinary processes of nature. So, too, the popular theology of to-day represents one Deity revealed through Moses, another God of a somewhat higher order proclaimed to Man it may be through Isaiah, and a third whose character is supposed by many to have been for the first time unfolded by Jesus Christ. These conceptions of the Divinity are believed to have been promulgated direct from Heaven; some think in ordinary human language, or by the descent in person of the Most High to dwell for a time amongst men. And this belief is not confined to modern Jews and Christians, but something analogous to it will be found to pervade most other human creeds.
It will be seen, however, from an unprejudiced study of theological history, that there have been no such distinct creations of the Divine Ideal, but a gradual elaboration of a more and more exalted conception of the Deity in the minds of good and holy men, beginning with the dawn of religious thought, and, so far as the Semitic race is concerned, culminating in the God and Father of Jesus Christ. And excepting to those who are incapable of seeing more than one side of an argument, or whose previous education renders them unwilling to apply the same rules of thought to sacred as to secular inquiries, it will be obvious that the conception of the Deity has been formed by a gradual accumulation of metaphysical traits ; that the Divinity has been becoming more and more divine, if such an expression be allowable, as the thoughts of men have expanded ; and as a necessary corollary, that the image, or more correctly speaking, the reality, will appear more exalted still, con