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present day is, that monotheism is at the foundation of all pagan mythology.” It is now generally held by the best mythologists, that fetichism is a less ancient form of religion than the worship of ancestors. Religious honors, paid to famous progenitors, were the rites which naturally grew up first, after men had forgotten the true God. A
distinguished ancestor had some symbol, Origin of
dog, crocodile, reindeer, or other natural object,
— by which he was known among his contemporaries, and which gradually became the fetich of his descendants. The synonyme for “ fetich,” in the dialect of the North American Indians, seems to have been “ totem ;”
and the religious worship which grew up among The totem of them has been called totemism. Hence Long
says, in one of his poems,
" And they painted on the grave-posts
Of the graves, yet unforgotten,
But whether or not we have here a true account of the origin of fetichism, “it is enough for my purpose," again using the words of Naville, “to have shown that it is not merely the grand tradition guaranteed by the Christian faith, but the most distinctly marked current of contemporary science, which tells us that God shone upon the cradle of the species. The August Form was veiled, and idolatry, with its train of shameful rites, shows itself in history as the result of a fall which calls for a restoration,
rather than as the point of departure of a continued progress.”
Therefore, without going farther into the history of ancient systems, and admitting that the starting
point. leaven of pantheism was in many of them, to a greater or less extent, I come back to the lonely exile of Amsterdam as our proper starting-point in the survey undertaken. It is cheering to find that the latest researches of scholars and critics are falling in so well with our inspired traditions. This look into the remote past, through the glass of science, also strengthens our position as to the first origin and the genesis of all unbelief. Separated from God, the human mind becomes lost in its own speculations. As it turns back to him, it partakes again of the spirit of a pure monotheism, which the students of history may have sometimes unjustly condemned as pantheism. Presuming it to be such, they have found it to be such, as there are not wanting those who have found the same thing in the New Testament. Where, however, the human mind has not thus turned back, but has kept on with its face away from God, it has taken one or the other of two opposite paths of infidelity. Which of these two paths it has in any case taken, has depended on its inherent tendency, whether to make the outward or the inward its starting-point of inquiry. There did unquestionably exist in ancient times, and in various countries, men occupied with philosophy and religion who sought their data in the inner world of consciousness. So far as those thinkers were without knowledge of the true God, they undoubtedly inclined to pantheism, - losing the human in the divine, substituting emanation for creation, and confounding the Maker of all things with the work of his hands.
But this ancient pantheism was unshapen, before him. changeable, crude, indeterminate, vague. It
was forever repeating itself in one form or another; slightly varied, to suit the genius of different countries and ages, yet on the whole confirming the truth of Dugald Stewart's remark, who says, in view of the frequent recurrences of the same essential error, 66 One is almost tempted to believe that human invention is limited, like a barrel organ, to a specific number of tunes.” Gleams of the vast conception, now eagerly grasped and now cast aside, flash out upon us all along in the pathways of ancient thought; but that conception seems never to come forth, and plant itself in solid proportions before us; it never unfolds into a well-adjusted and comprehensive system. We catch only elusive glimpses of the vision; vague hints and impressions, with no fixed centre about which to crystallize; faint foreshadowings of the doctrine whose elaborator and expounder was yet to come.
The weary ages of paganism circled on. Hureligious thought
manity, cut off from God, groped after its ansketched.
cient blessedness, but went sounding on a dim and perilous way. The great lights of philosophy burned out, one after another, or withdrew into the heavens. Then “the Desire of all nations”
Wise inen followed his star, and, paying their homage at his feet, found again the glory which had been lost. But not all were wise.
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” And that nation of despisers and rejecters,
dashed in pieces for its unbelief, was scattered over the world. The Great Light, seen of them that sat in the region and shadow of death, rose towards the meridian; and to it the moon and stars did obeisance. After displaying for a time its glory, so full of grace and truth, the mists of human selfishness began to obscure it. It was hidden from the world on which it had briefly shone in triumph, and the night of the dark ages descended. And not until those ages had passed away, in the full morning of modern literature, when the Bible was in the hands of the people, and humanity everywhere was awaking as to some new destiny, did the high priest of pantheism appear.
Born of the proud but rejected stock, spurning Judaism, and seeing no beauty in Christ, he braves the religious faith of his own time, and claims to interpret the dream of benighted philosophy. Yes, to Spinoza belongs the honor, whatever
Spinoza's that may be, of grasping the principle of former system the
receptacle. impressions and tendencies, and fixing forever the laws and limits of pantheistic speculation. He seized the essence of the world-old dream. And not only that, but he made it stand forth so completely in his exposition, that he
be said to have necessitated. the formulas of his most famous successors; as Newton, when he enunciated the principle of gravitation, became virtually the author of all subsequent astronomy. The influence of Spinoza in the history of pantheistic thinking, reminds us of the great river which flows through the central valley of the United States. His mind was the point, far up in untrodden wilds, where previous tendencies were first gathered into a single fountain head. He scooped the
channel into which the brooklets emptied themselves, and which drained the neighboring swales and marshes. It was the rush of his tireless genius that gave unity, direction, and momentum to the stream. He has had many successors; but, drawn irresistibly towards the main current, they at length lose their independent life, and become, as it were, the tributaries of his greatness.
I must not omit here, in claiming this preClaims of
cedence for Spinoza, to mention one other name
which is nearly related to the rise of pantheism in modern times. Giordano Bruno is thought by some to deserve the place assigned to the great Hebrew thinker. Even Willis, the biographer of Spinoza, and editor of his Correspondence and Ethics, inclines to this opinion. He thinks it impossible that Spinoza should not have been familiar with the works of Bruno, and wonders that he nowhere alludes to them, while they so thoroughly anticipate the main doctrines of his system. “In the present day,” says he, “we should hold the man who borrowed so freely as our philosopher has certainly done from his predecessor, to be guilty of unmitigated plagiarism, did he fail to acknowledge the obligation." But it is by no means certain that Spinoza deserves this wound in the house of his friends. He must be acquitted of anything approaching dishonesty. Ile had too much intellectual pride, to say nothing of his general character, ever to deck himself with the plumes of another. Bruno certainly had as many advantages as the outcast Jew for becoming the leader of his school, if he deserved to be. not of the rejected race, but a Christian Catholic. He had
i Life, Correspondence, and Ethics, General Introduction, p. 11,