Religion, Primitive

Religion, Primitive.

Far in the distance, behind Buddhism, Brahminism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, and all the ten religions so graphically set forth by Freeman Clarke, there lies a primitive faith of great power, to which our attention is called in Heb 11:2: "For by it the ancients obtained a good report." To this primitive religion all the later forms of truth, of error, and of idolatry, with all the mixtures of good and evil pertaining to religions now ancient, owe their origin, whether we can or cannot trace the genealogy. The faith of all the patriarchs anterior to the call of Abraham may be reckoned to this early form of the knowledge, fear, Iove, and service of the true God. How it came that descendants of Shem, of Ham, of Japhet, are soon found precipitated in ignorance, crime, and abominable idolatry, we are told in Ro 1:28: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." Thus they lost that faith in which they had been instructed by Noah during three centuries after the deluge. Some there were who held the truth in part long centuries after others had become utterly apostate. Abraham kept the straight course of truth, broadening, deepening, and accumulating strength, through Moses, David, Solomon, Ezra, John the Baptist, Christ himself, the apostles, Wycliffe, Luther, and the Reformed churches, to the present day. Deviations of more or less latitude from this line have been found in every age, as well as in our own, many of these deviations holding enough of the Gospel to secure for long periods the validity of their claim to a share of the primitive religion, bringing glory to God and salvation to men. To delineate briefly the relation of these to the main trunk is the object of this article.

I. Egyptian. — When Abraham went to Egypt to escape the famine (Ge 12:10), he found that the Lord held intercourse with Pharaoh, and, that Pharaoh aid his men had regard to the Lord's will, and rendered that obedience which is better than sacrifice. This fear of the Lord we find very happily developed in the time of Joseph, when he had interpreted Pharaoh's dreams. The king of Egypt not only believed the revelation, as from God, but he and his counsellors went to work to improve their opportunity. "The thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, Can we find such a one as this is? a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" (Ge 41:38). It might be well for the nations now that are nominally Christian to take lessons from this king and his court. Whatever was the form of their religion, it is there recognised as valid for the welfare of the nation. And when Joseph, at a later date, bought up the land for Pharaoh, the land of the priests was reserved to them. When Joseph's father is introduced to Pharaoh, the king, after conversing with him, condescended to receive the blessing of Jacob, when it was well understood that "the less is blessed by the better." It was not until another dynasty took possession of the throne — a king that knew not Joseph — that we hear in that court the haughty challenge, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." Under this new regime, Egypt was transformed into an apostasy, on which were executed the ten plagues;

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and, finally, the king and his army were precipitated to the bottom of the sea. The sphinx of Egypt belongs to this ancient religion, and had nothing to do with the grovelling ideas of worshipping crocodiles and other crawling things. Even in Joseph's time, and no doubt in Abraham's, the ancient religion had declined, or the Egyptians would not have held "every shepherd" in abomination, as Moses was in danger of being stoned should he offer sacrifice in their land.

II. Philistine. — Abimelech, king of the Philistines, had a remnant of the true religion. When Abraham came to Gerar, he thought, "Surely the fear of God is not in this place." This proved to be a great mistake, for God came to Abimelech in a dream by night; Abimelech heeded the warning, restored Sarah, sought reconciliation through Abraham's prayer, and dealt very liberally with the patriarch, giving him presents, and offering him his choice of the land. Soon after Abraham's return from the Philistine country, Abimelech and Phicol, the general of his army, made a visit, and entered into a friendly covenant with him at Beersheba. Although the friendly feeling was much diminished in the days of Isaac, the Philistine government entertained a high respect for Isaac, not merely as Abrahamn's son, but as the Blessed of the Lord. Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phicol the general, came to Isaac and renewed their covenant of peace at the same place where they had made it with his father. During the time of Jacob we find no friendly association with the Philistines. In Joshua's time their land was to be given to Israel. During the period of the Judges we find only hostility, civil and religious. The worship of Dagon and other idols had now supplanted every vestige of the ancient faith. Beelzebub was the god of Ekron. David burned the images that he found in the conquered camp. The overthrow of Saul was published in the house of their idols, and his armor deposited in the temple of Ashtaroth. Their soothsaying is noted by Isa 2:6. The illegal associations formed with Ashdod in the days of Nehemiah were most damaging to the people of the Lord. Goliath defied the God of Israel, and cursed David by his gods.

III. Canaanitish. — Another illustration of the primitive religion we have in Melchizedek and his people. He was king of Salem, priest of the Most High, and a very eminent type of the expected Deliverer. While Melchizedek lived, and others of the same faith, in sufficient numbers to have influence in the nation, it was announced to Abraham that the iniquity of the Amorites was "not yet full." Some four hundred years were yet allowed them to improve or misimprove their privileges. A very few, like Rahab of Jericho, were willing to obey the truth; but the seven nations, as such, had wholly apostatized to the grossest idolatry. It is possible, almost probable, that there was still some regard for the true religion among those known as Jebusites, although they did not surrender to Joshua. The following considerations are in their favor:

(a.) They were long spared after the other nationalities had been broken up. They held their capital till the time of David.

(b.) This capital was the ancient seat of Melchizekek, where we might expect the truth to be kept in families when the nation had given it up.

(c.) Araunah the Jebusite is honorably noted in the history of David, after their capital had surrendered.

(d.) At Araunah's threshingfloor the destroying angel suspended his work.

(e.) He made to David a noble offer — victims for the sacrifice, and wood to burn it from his farming implements.

(f.) He is living in Jerusalem, not as an idolater, but apparently like the people around him.

(g.) In 2Sa 24:23, the Hebrew reading is, "All these did king Araunah give to the king." This would indicate that he was a lineal descendant of the royal line of Melchizedek, and was king of the Jebusites when they surrendered to David. At all events, he was possessor of the soil, though a conquered subject; and he readily fell in with the new religion, although it was an advance on that of his ancestors. For some such reasons; he readily sold the old homestead — the floor for fifty shekels of silver, the farm for six hundred shekels of gold.

IV. Mesopotamian. — Terah and his sons, Abram, Nahor, and Haran, in Ur of the Chaldees, were brought up in this. primitive religion; but it had become corrupted by idolatrous excrescences, and although they belonged to the witnessing line, they became involved in the idolatry, as we read (Jos 24:2), "They served other gods." To preserve yet a faithful testimony, Abraham was called out of that land when he was about seventy years old, had the covenant of God renewed to him, and commenced a renovated service on the basis of the old faith, with new revelations. Abraham, after the death of his father, removed to Canaan, leaving a residue at Haran, where he had resided five years. Thus freed from all family connections, except those under his own control, he carried down the true religion in its purity to Isaac and Jacob, with their adherents, all living as strangers in a foreign country. The ancient religion still received new developments of the coming Deliverer, super-added to all former revelations; nor was it a new religion, but a new edition of the old, that was given to Moses Meantime, the old religion retained, in the family of Nahor, some at least of the old corruptions. The teraphim, for example, Rachel wished to introduce into Jacob's family. Laban called these his gods; the Sept. calls them idols. On what terms of religious observance Jacob lived in Laban's family we have nothing specific; but after the parting we find that each had his own distinct religion. Laban swears by the God of Abraham and the God of Nahorthe God of their father. Jacob appeals to the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac (Ge 31:42,53). The memorial pillar points to him who is the Rock of Ages, while the heap of gathered stones seems to indicate the Church's confession of imperishable truths, on which we all hold communion with one another and with God in his ordinances. How long this imperfectly organized Church continued in Padan-aram we have no indication, but we know that the Aramites were no friends to Israel in the days of the kings. A very interesting item on the religion of Bethuel's family is connected with the visit of Abraham's prime minister. The friends of Rebekah recognise Jehovah, the covenant God; and they give their farewell blessing in the name of the promised Deliverer: "Let thy seed possess the gate of those who hate him." Excepting Luther, translators have made sad work with this verse (Ge 24:60).

Perhaps to this connection belongs Balaam the soothsayer; from Aram, from the mountains of the east, from the river of his people, from Pethor of Aram-naharaim. From some source he had obtained a profound knowledge of God and of his ways; yet so perverted was his heart that he endeavored to bring all that knowledge to effect the destruction of Israel. From the tops of the rocks he could see the Deliverer coming, yet so deep was his malignity that he could meet death in this world and damnation in the next rather than have this man rule over him. He furnishes an awful example of those who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

V. Midianitish. — In those days we have brought up a most beautiful example of the ancient faith — Jethro, the prince and priest of Midian. It is true that the Midianites were descended from Abraham by Keturah; but their relations with Isaac and his descendants would not have kept up, and did not keep up, the faith of Abraham in its advanced stages. All that they received directly from Abraham needed some kind of support after they were sent away from Isaac; this support could come only from the scattered fragments of primitive religion floating among their new associations, and collected into a focus by such a man as Jethro. So soon as he is off the stage, superannuated or dead, and his son Hobab has joined the camp of Moses, we find no more faith among the Midianites, nor any friendship for the people of the Lord.

VI. Magian. — In the court of Persia, as late as the captivity, we find traces of the primitive religion. Not only was Cyrus individually called for special service, but there was much favor shown to the Jews by native Persians, while foreign satraps, like Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, used all their craft, as well as their power, to frustrate the labors of Nehemiah in restoring the city. How often they obtained a partial success needs not to be told here; nor does this invalidate the idea of friendly relations when these could have fair play. Writers like James Freeman Clarke, after tracing far into antiquity the Zoroastrian faith, are unwilling to recognise an ancient faith to which belong the griffin, the serpent, the sacred fire, the sacred tree, and other items, while traces of it are found mixed in with later observances. Such writers can see any religion only as the philosophical outgrowth of the human mind, but not as a divine revelation. Of a different cast is a late writer in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, the Rev. J. Murray Mitchell, LL.D. When treating of another, though adjoining, country, he uses the following phraseology: "While we can now trace the great religion of India without interruption almost up to its fountain-head... for nearly four thousand years, it is far otherwise with the ancient religion of Persia." See the Methodist Quarterly Review, January, 1879. India itself! Is there not enough truth (though seen through a distorted medium) to carry us far beyond the period of the Vedas? To say nothing of moral precepts, a Creator, a Triad — Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva — the Incarnation of Vishnu in the ten Avatars, these and other items claim our attention as remnants of patriarchal revelation.

However much or little they may have learned from the return of Balaam's retinue, after he was killed in battle (Nu 31:8), certain it is that the primitive religion furnished a healthy stock on which to engraft the "Star of Jacob" in Persia and all over the East, whence came the Magi to Jerusalem when Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judaea.

VII. Arabian. — Among the very interesting details of the ancient religions we find Job and his friends. Without going into minute inquiry, let us place him somewhere about the period of Terah, the father of Abraham. He is classed with "the sons of the East;" yet we cannot locate him in the far East like the Persian Magi. His own name, and the names of his friends, resemble more than any other the names of the Seirites, among whom, in later times, Esau and his posterity intermingled and intermarried. In Genesis 36 we find the names Tensanite, Jobab, Eliphaz, Teman, with others not identical, but of the same general cast as the names of Job's associates. The faith of these godly men, wherever they may have lived, is of a very high order, and their knowledge of God and of his ways is of the highest degree. Neither by Job nor by any of his friends is there the least allusion to the covenant of Abraham. Whatever mistakes they labored under, they are recognised as true worshippers, and God deals with them as his own.

VIII. Assyrian. — Late discoveries by Layard and Rawlinson have brought us into contact with the ancient Assyrians in much of their religion, as well as war and civil policy. Among the sculptures exhumed, none are more interesting than the winged quadrupeds finished off with a human head, or the human form with eagle's head and wings. These carry us back to the early cherubim, the forms of which must have been preserved by Noah and his sons. At first sight these Assyrian images may seem no more than mere idols — false gods; but that would not account for their close affinity with the living creatures of Ezekiel and the τεσσαρα ζῶα of John's Revelation. While no one of the Assyrian sculptures embodies the four principles of Ezekiel and John, yet two of them, taken together, do embody the four identical principles, and no more. The winged lion and the winged ox have the aspect of a man, lion, eagle, ox, and nothing besides. The reason for making them double arose from the difficulty of distinguishing the body of the ox from that of the lion in the same figure. Nor is it impossible that the Assyrians could have borrowed from Ezekiel; almost equally certain that they did not borrow from Moses. This leaves us the only course, that of authentic tradition from Noah and Shem, as they had the figures down from the garden of Eden. Whether these winged figures were worshipped by the Assyrians or not, it is of importance to notice that they were not the highest objects of adoration, for they are found bowing themselves before the Supreme, the symbol of Supreme Deity being a human form sitting in a winged circle or globe. While the races of Shemites occupied one part of Mesopotamia and the Hamites another, they were sufficiently contiguous to afford the opportunity of corrupting one another in the matter of worship, as well as in the manner. We have already seen that the best family of the Shemites — Terah and his sons — had gone into idolatry in connection with the true worship, and needed reformation in the days of Abraham; we may safely infer that other Shemites, as well as the families of Ham, were more deeply involved, and went still further from the truth till the days of Sardanapalus, Nebuchadnezzar, and Belshazzar. Whether in the Abrahamic line there was kept any physical type of the original, cherubim until renewed by Moses is nowhere recorded. Yet there are some hints worthy of our serious consideration. (a.) Rebekah went somewhere to inquire of the Lord and received a specific answer. May not this have come froi sacred utensils still in the custody of Abraham? (b.) Before Moses had set up the new tabernacle there was some kind of tabernacle in use (Ex 33:7). (c.) A sacred chest belonged to many of the ancient idolatries. Was it copied from a true original? (d.) In the higher rank of families the teraphim were long retained in connection with the true religion. Not only did Rachel import them from Laban's house, but Michal brought one into David's; and they are classed with recognised symbols in Ho 3:4. On the other side they are classed with idols, and were used by the king of Babylon for idolatrous purposes. May they not have been like the brazen serpent, at first a mere memorial of truth, afterwards turned into an object of false worship. SEE TERAPHIM.

IX. Inferences. — Other ancient religions we must pass over here in order to take a survey of the leading features of the primitive, from which they are all derived, and from which they all inherit some features in common, while each seems to have dropped other matters, according to their various tastes and circumstances (see Princeton Rev. July, 1872; Tayler Lewis, The Prinmitive Greek Religion).

On what foundation did the primitive faith rest its confidence?

1. The knowledge, fear, and reverence which Adam retained even after the fall. Let it be fairly admitted that Adam, by transgression, was lost — lost to all spiritual good accompanying salvation; that the first of all the commandments — love — was completely obliterated in his heart; that he was dead in trespasses and sins. Still the apostle tells us that where the law of love had been written there was still left τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμον γραπτόν, the "work" of the law, which work is still written in the heart of even the heathen (Ro 2:14-15).This work he places largely in the domain of knowledge, and even conscience, yet it is not in any degree the law of love (1:32): "Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." This by nature is our own moral state; yet, blessed be God, knowledge, memory, reason, conscience, have not been entirely destroyed, though conscience has been seared, and all the faculties greatly debilitated. Adam, on leaving the garden, still retained the sad remembrance of happiness in great variety, now lost, lost! lost!! Lost forever through the former channel. With all that he had lost, who is there among us that would not travel a long, long pilgrimage to hear him tell the beauty of the garden inside; the perfect satisfaction of everything he saw, heard, felt, while innocent; the nature of that holiness which is only now to be regained by incessant labor, suffering, and watching; unimpeded communion with God. Darwin himself, and the modern race of improved baboons, might envy the intellect which he retained even then. Acquaintance with God! Fellowship of the Spirit! Seeing him as he is! Social worship in the holy family! The first Sabbath-day!

2. The promise of a Seed, a coming Deliverer, while as yet he had no child. Modern theologians can see in the first promise a deliverance, but many of us cannot see a personal Deliverer. It was not so with Eve, the mother of all living (Ge 4:1): "I have obtained a man, the Lord."* What if she were mistaken in the time, the individual, and many other material considerations? What if she were a Millenarian? An Adventess? Such can be found under brighter skies to-day. She had faith in One who is able to save to tihe uttermost. SEE SEED OF PROMISE. Through all those ancient faiths noted above there are traces of.the coming One. Some of them retain this idea while they have lost many others, and sunk into dark paganism. Witness the ten Avatars of Vishnu, as well as the "Desire of all nations" (Hag 2:7).

3. The institution of sacrifice. This needs not here to be discussed; how early it was observed, how extensively propagated, however altered and perverted, it held a place in all ancient religions, teaching in some sense or other the doctrine of atonement by blood, as well as of purification by blood and water. SEE ALTAR; SEE ATONEMENT; SEE SACRIFICE.

4. The cherubim. For the structure and uses of these, see the word. For their spiritual meaning, SEE LIVING CREATURES; SEE SERAPHIM. Set over against the sword of flame, they were the symbols of mercy to those reconciled by the sacrifice. Their place in the ancient religions is well known, even after those religions had departed far from primitive rectitude, both in ritual and moral code.

The sphinx of Babylon and Egypt; the griffin of Assyria, Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome; the Serapis of Egypt, Greece, and Rome; the apes of Egypt; the Moloch of Moab and the Ammonites; the Baals of Syria, in all their variety; the ox of Bengal; the live buffalo of Calcutta; the triform idol of Chiun; and hundreds of other sacred images, including the teraphimthese all were derived from the original cherubim at the east of Paradise. At first these imitations may have been considered as mere memorials of the early devotion of honored and godly ancestors; but, in process of theological improvements, they became associated with the sun, moon, stars, fructifying and other general powers of nature, as well as with the more spiritual demands of man's higher nature, till they are seen clothed with the attributes of deity, and worshipped and served more than the Creator. To the tradition of the earlv cherubim, we think, more than to the inventive genius of any priesthood, must be traced these homogeneous idols with all their diversities of aspect. The true symbolism of the cherubim belonged to the universal and primal religion; the idolatrous imitations had their diversities from human fancy. This will account for the worship of the golden calf, to which the Israelites themselves were so easily seduced. Of all the depreciated forms of the early cherubim the Assyrian quadrupeds are the most complete. Layard passes high encomium on the skill and judgment of the inventors (?) in selecting the four highest forms of mundane life to represent the higher sphere of existence, while he utterly ignores the divine originals from which they were copied.

The cherubs at the Garden of Eden set over against the sword of flame, as well as those seen by Ezekiel evolved from a mass of fire, evidently were intended to symbolize that mercy which rejoices against judgment and delivers from wrath to come.

5. The flaming sword kept before the mind of worshippers the Justice to be satisfied. Whether ws trace this to the sword of flame, the death of the victim, or the universal conscience, it is equally a portion of the primitive religion. The soul that sinneth deserves to die (Ro 1:32). And we know no better symbol that could have been introduced to exhibit the wretchedness of those who are twice dead.

6. The tree of life, untouched, waved its laden branches in the garden long after the expulsion of our first parents. While this emblem must of necessity call up the feeling of deep regret, it would, at the same time, after the door of mercy was opened, call for all the joy and all the effort that belong to a well-grounded hope. That tree could never be regained, perhaps not desirable now that it should be; but another Tree of Life in a higher paradise yields its fruit every month (Revelation 22).

Here it may be proper to observe that each of these early emblems of man's recovery is, from the very gate of Eden, carried uninterruptedly down the stream of revelation till we come to the last chapter of the last book; while other emblems have been added as occasion might demand. The rainbow had an early place and holds its position till: the last (Re 10:1). 7. Occasional revelations made to such men as Enoch Noah, and perhaps Lamech, the father of Noah (Ge 5:29), were still added to the former stock, and thus were all advances made to rest on the word of God. Before the use of writing, and even after, we find appeals made to what had been taught to the ancestors, whether by Providence or by revelation (Job 8:8; Job 15:10,18; De 4:31; De 32:7; Ps 44:1). We think that none of the revelations that God has made have ever been lost.

X. Features. — Having seen the sure basis of this early religion, it is proper to glance at some of its characteristics.

1. It was a universal religion, adapted to man as such in every climate and for all time, having its primary relation to eternity. It was the work of evil men then, as it is now, to lop off and add to the truth of God till they had as many religions as languages throughout the world.

2. It was monotheistic: one Lord, one faith, one Spirit, one Mediator, one God and Father of all. The question whether the Persians borrowed from the Hebrews or the Hebrews from the Persians has no place here; the origin of both from one primitive source is sufficient to account for all the items of similarity, or even identity, in the two religions. So, also, we may reckon of the Hebrews and Egyptians, the Hebrews and the Greeks, and all affinities of this kind. While the primitive religion was monotheistic, there are many indications of a plurality of persons, as in Ge 1:1, where a singular verb is joined with אֶלֹהַים, as in a thousand other instances. So, too, ch. 1:24 and 3:22.

3. Delight in all that God has revealed of himself — the fact, as well as the doctrines, of inspiration. Adam was extensively a prophet — a seer. Not merely had he the intimation of the Deliverer, but there was given to him the future history of the whole race — the standing, irrepressible conflict, the numerous progeny, the heavy labor, the sore pain, the deep sorrow, all ending in the death of the body and its return to dust. On the other halnd, the productiveness of the soil for constant support, acceptance of his service, occasional victories over evil, final triumph over sin and Satan in the One Seed. The third chapter of Genesis is too little studied. If John the Baptist could point to the Lamb of God, Adam had the first intimation of his coming, whether Adam was born of woman or not. So happily and largely are the words of inspiration connected with our redemption that Christ is pleased to wear the happy name, the Word of God.

But here, again, while the nations in separating from one another took, each one, some degree of respect for the Word revealed, or for some part of it, it was reserved to one nation only to preserve it pure and entire. "'To the Jews were committed the oracles of God." Other nations retained a glimmering tradition, a tetragrammaton, a holy phrase, of which they knew not the meaning and used it merely as a charm-a φυλακτήριον. How the true believer in every age and country appreciates the word, we may learn, if not by happy experience, by Psalm 119. Under these beams of the Sun of Righteousness, Enoch walked with God. Light and life and love are again restored. If we come to the particular doctrines of this primitive religion, we have many scattered hints of, say, acceptance with God, in the sacrifice of Abel; a higher life, in the translation of Enoch; retribution, in the conscience of Cain; calling on the name of the Lord, in the days of Enos; judgment combined with mercy, in the deluge and the cities of the plain; intercession, by Abraham; and from the same source, that the Judge of all the earth will do right; family government and instruction; covenant with God; precepts given to Noah; and many, very many, of the doctrine ofof Christianity. But what a vacuum we should have just here were it not for the book of Job! Wherever the patriarch may have lived, or in whatever age, besides the lesson of his own biographyv we have, in the speeches of himself and of his friends: a very full development of the patriarchal theology. Whether each particular doctrine of Watson's Institutes or Hodge's Outlines could be deduced from the book of Job, or whether each expression in it is to be relied on as correct, we shall not here inquire; but certain it is that each chapter contains a mass of theological thought befitting our age as well as that in which it was delivered. It opens with the doctrine of holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Next we have God's blessing on all that Job possessed, as in Ps 107:38. Then his anxiety about his children — their liability to sin. We have the atonement in his offering sacrifices; particular atonement, "to the number of them all." The humblest resignation when all was taken from him" Blessed be the name of the Lord." The Kinsman — a living Redeemer, and his coming to the earth. The speciality of providence is iterated and reiterated. But, not to dwell on the more common doctrines, we find some of those which would be an attainment even in our own time. Civil-service reform is taught, or rather taken for granted, in ch. 34:17, 18; and national reform in all its depth comes in ver. 29, 30: "When he giveth quietness, who then can give trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation or against a man only: that the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared." Let any one take up the book of Job under this aspect, and he will see how much of the Gospel there is in such passages as ch. 22:21-30; 33:14-30. Altogether, apart from the plot of the poem, there is wrought into the speeches a vast amount of the deep knowledge of God, not by the inspiration of the several speakers, but by their earnestness in using the floating capital which belonged to the patriarchal faith. The occasion was such as made an extraordinary call on their knowledge, and on their skill in using it.

We must here pass in silence the ancient religions of those respective nations which issued in the many gods of Greece and Rome, of the Celtic tribes, and the Gothic hordes. There was truth underlying them all, but oh, how deeply buried in the filth and rubbish of ages!

It is not to be denied that the worship of mere nature furnished the element of these fallen religions. We have enough of that in Jeremiah 44 among the chosen people. But it is never to be admitted that any religion was ever originated by man, however it may have been manipulated "by art and man's device." No historian can feelthat Mohammed, even with the assistance of the monk Sergius, originated Islam; his claim was to restore the ancient religion of the world. Mecca was a place of pilgrimage ages before he was born. All his revelations were ostensibly to restore and improve the primitive faith of Adam, of Abraham, and of Ishmael. A large amount of popery, even, is, independent of divine revelation, brought down from ancient traditions much later than the primitive faith. Paul preached at Athens the service of God, who made the world and all things therein (as the people had been taught by their own poets); though he was still, in a great measure, the Unknown, and the apostle was esteemed a setter-forth of strange deities. While we rejoice in the abundance of our Scriptures, it is to be remembered that Adam, Seth, and Enos did not require so much as we do. They were born to a bright inheritance near the throne of their heavenly Father. "Adam who was the son of God." Thus, while we have added line upon line as it was needed, the true religion is, like its Author, "the same yesterday, to-day, and forever." (R. H.)

* The particle אֵת here, however, is correctly rendered "front" in the English version. — ED.

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