The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires: And

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:40 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAPTER XXI. PROBLEM OF RELIGIOUS CONTRADICTIONS.

The various groups having taken their places, an unbounded silence succeeded to the murmurs of the multitude; and the legislator said:

Chiefs and doctors of mankind! You remark how the nations, living apart, have hitherto followed different paths, each believing its own to be that of truth. If, however, truth is one, and opinions are various, it is evident that some are in error. If, then, such vast numbers of us are in the wrong, who shall dare to say, "I am in the right?" Begin, therefore, by being indulgent in your dissensions. Let us all seek truth as if no one possessed it. The opinions which to this day have governed the world, originating from chance, propagated in obscurity, admitted without discussion, accredited by a love of novelty and imitation, have usurped their empire in a clandestine manner. It is time, if they are well founded, to give a solemn stamp to their certainty, and legitimize their existence. Let us summon them this day to a general scrutiny, let each propound his creed, let the whole assembly be the judge, and let that alone be acknowledged as true which is so for the whole human race.

Then, by order of position, the representative of the first standard on the left was allowed to speak:

"You are not permitted to doubt," said their chief, "that our doctrine is the only true and infallible one. FIRST, it is revealed by God himself—"

"So is ours," cried all the other standards, "and you are not permitted to doubt it."

"But at least," said the legislator, "you must prove it, for we cannot believe what we do not know."

"Our doctrine is proved," replied the first standard, "by numerous facts, by a multitude of miracles, by resurrections of the dead, by rivers dried up, by mountains removed—"

"And we also have numberless miracles," cried all the others, and each began to recount the most incredible things.

"THEIR miracles," said the first standard, "are imaginary, or the fictions of the evil spirit, who has deluded them."

"They are yours," said the others, "that are imaginary;" and each group, speaking of itself, cried out:

"None but ours are true, all the others are false."

The legislator then asked: "Have you living witnesses of the facts?"

"No," replied they all; "the facts are ancient, the witnesses are dead, but their writings remain."

"Be it so," replied the legislator; "but if they contradict each other, who shall reconcile them?"

"Just judge!" cried one of the standards, "the proof that our witnesses have seen the truth is, that they died to confirm it; and our faith is sealed by the blood of martyrs."

"And ours too," said the other standards; "we have thousands of martyrs who have died in the most excruciating torments, without ever denying the truth."

Then the Christians of every sect, the Mussulmans, the Indians, the Japanese, recited endless legends of confessors, martyrs, penitents, etc.

And one of these parties, having denied the martyrology of the others: "Well," said they, "we will then die ourselves to prove the truth of our belief."

And instantly a crowd of men, of every religion and of every sect, presented themselves to suffer the torments of death. Many even began to tear their arms, and to beat their heads and breasts, without discovering any symptom of pain.

But the legislator, preventing them—"O men!" said he, "hear my words with patience. If you die to prove that two and two make four, will your death add any thing to this truth?"

"No!" answered all.

"And if you die to prove that they make five, will that make them five?"

Again they all answered, "No."

"What, then, is your persuasion to prove, if it changes not the existence of things? Truth is one—your persuasions are various; many of you, therefore, are in error. Now, if man, as is evident, can persuade himself of error, what is the persuasion of man to prove?

"If error has its martyrs, what is the sure criterion of truth?

"If the evil spirit works miracles, what is the distinctive character of God?

"Besides, why resort forever to incomplete and insufficient miracles? Instead of changing the course of nature, why not rather change opinions? Why murder and terrify men, instead of instructing and correcting them?

"O credulous, but opinionated mortals! none of us know what was done yesterday, what is doing to-day even under our eyes; and we swear to what was done two thousand years ago!

"Oh, the weakness and yet the pride of men! The laws of nature are unchangeable and profound—our minds are full of illusion and frivolity—and yet we would comprehend every thing—determine every thing! Forgetting that it is easier for the whole human race to be in error, than to change the nature of the smallest atom."

"Well, then," said one of the doctors, "let us lay aside the evidence of fact, since it is uncertain; let us come to argument—to the proofs inherent in the doctrine."

Then came forward, with a look of confidence, an Iman of the law of Mahomet; and, having advanced into the circle, turned towards Mecca, and recited with great fervor his confession of faith. "Praise be to God," said he, with a solemn and imposing voice, "the light shines with full evidence, and the truth has no need of examination." Then, showing the Koran, he exclaimed: "Here is the light of truth in its proper essence. There is no doubt in this book. It conducts with safety him who walks in darkness, and who receives without discussion the divine word which descended on the prophet, to save the simple and confound the wise. God has established Mahomet his minister on earth; he has given him the world, that he may subdue with the sword whoever shall refuse to receive his law. Infidels dispute, and will not believe; their obduracy comes from God, who has hardened their hearts to deliver them to dreadful punishments."*

* This passage contains the sense and nearly the very words
of the first chapter of the Koran; and the reader will
observe in general, that, in the pictures that follow, the
writer has endeavored to give as accurately as possible the
letter and spirit of the opinions of each party.


At these words a violent murmur arose on all sides, and silenced the speaker. "Who is this man," cried all the groups, "who thus insults us without a cause? What right has he to impose his creed on us as conqueror and tyrant? Has not God endowed us, as well as him, with eyes, understanding, and reason? And have we not an equal right to use them, in choosing what to believe and what to reject? If he attacks us, shall we not defend ourselves? If he likes to believe without examination, must we therefore not examine before we believe?

"And what is this luminous doctrine that fears the light? What is this apostle of a God of clemency, who preaches nothing but murder and carnage? What is this God of justice, who punishes blindness which he himself has made? If violence and persecution are the arguments of truth, are gentleness and charity the signs of falsehood?"

A man then advancing from a neighboring group, said to the Iman:

"Admitting that Mahomet is the apostle of the best doctrine,—the prophet of the true religion,—have the goodness at least to tell us whether, in the practice of his doctrine, we are to follow his son-in-law Ali, or his vicars Omar and Aboubekre?"*

* These are the two grand parties into which the Mussulmans
are divided. The Turks have embraced the second, the
Persians the first.


At the sound of these names a terrible schism arose among the Mussulmans themselves. The partisans of Ali and those of Omar, calling out heretics and blasphemers, loaded each other with execrations. The quarrel became so violent that neighboring groups were obliged to interfere, to prevent their coming to blows. At length, tranquillity being somewhat restored, the legislator said to the Imans:

"See the consequences of your principles! If you yourselves were to carry them into practice, you would destroy each other to the last man. Is it not the first law of God that man should live?"

Then, addressing himself to the other groups, he continued:

"Doubtless this intolerant and exclusive spirit shocks every idea of justice, and overturns the whole foundation of morals and society; but before we totally reject this code of doctrine, is it not proper to hear some of its dogmas? Let us not pronounce on the forms, without having some knowledge of the substance."

The groups having consented, the Iman began to expound how God, having sent to the nations lost in idolatry twenty-four thousand prophets, had finally sent the last, the seal and perfection of all, Mahomet; on whom be the salvation of peace: how, to prevent the divine word from being any longer perverted by infidels, the supreme goodness had itself written the pages of the Koran. Then, explaining the particular dogmas of Islamism, the Iman unfolded how the Koran, partaking of the divine nature, was uncreated and eternal, like its author: how it had been sent leaf by leaf, in twenty-four thousand nocturnal apparitions of the angel Gabriel: how the angel announced himself by a gentle knocking, which threw the prophet into a cold sweat: how in the vision of one night he had travelled over ninety heavens, riding on the beast Borack, half horse and half woman: how, endowed with the gift of miracles, he walked in the sunshine without a shadow, turned dry trees to green, filled wells and cisterns with water, and split in two the body of the moon: how, by divine command, Mahomet had propagated, sword in hand, the religion the most worthy of God by its sublimity, and the most proper for men by the simplicity of its practice; since it consisted in only eight or ten points:—To profess the unity of God; to acknowledge Mahomet as his only prophet; to pray five times a day; to fast one month in the year; to go to Mecca once in our life; to pay the tenth of all we possess; to drink no wine; to eat no pork; and to make war upon the infidels.* He taught that by these means every Mussulman becoming himself an apostle and martyr, should enjoy in this world many blessings; and at his death, his soul, weighed in the balance of works, and absolved by the two black angels, should pass the infernal pit on the bridge as narrow as a hair and as sharp as the edge of a sword, and should finally be received to a region of delight, which is watered with rivers of milk and honey, and embalmed in all the perfumes of India and Arabia; and where the celestial Houris—virgins always chaste—are eternally crowning with repeated favors the elect of God, who preserve an eternal youth.

* Whatever the advocates for the philosophy and civilization
of the Turks may assert, to make war upon infidels is
considered by them as an obligatory precept and an act of
religion. See Reland de Relig. Mahom.


At these words an involuntary smile was seen on all their lips; and the various groups, reasoning on these articles of faith, exclaimed with one voice:

"Is it possible that reasonable beings can admit such reveries? Would you not think it a chapter from The Thousand and One Nights?"

A Samoyede advanced into the circle: "The paradise of Mahomet," said he, "appears to me very good; but one of the means of gaining it is embarrassing: for if we must neither eat nor drink between the rising and setting sun, as he has ordered, how are we to practise that fast in my country, where the sun continues above the horizon six months without setting?"

"That is impossible," cried all the Mussulman doctors, to support the teaching of the prophet; but a hundred nations having attested the fact, the infallibility of Mahomet could not but receive a severe shock.

"It is singular," said an European, "that God should be constantly revealing what takes place in heaven, without ever instructing us what is doing on the earth."

"For my part," said an American, "I find a great difficulty in the pilgrimage. For suppose twenty-five years to a generation, and only a hundred millions of males on the globe,—each being obliged to go to Mecca once in his life,—there must be four millions a year on the journey; and as it would be impracticable for them to return the same year, the numbers would be doubled—that is, eight millions: where would you find provisions, lodgings, water, vessels, for this universal procession? Here must be miracles indeed!"

"The proof," said a catholic doctor, "that the religion of Mahomet is not revealed, is that the greater part of the ideas which serve for its basis existed a long time before, and that it is only a confused mixture of truths disfigured and taken from our holy religion and from that of the Jews; which an ambitious man has made to serve his projects of domination, and his worldly views. Look through his book; you will see nothing there but the histories of the Bible and the Gospel travestied into absurd fables—into a tissue of vague and contradictory declamations, and ridiculous or dangerous precepts.

"Analyze the spirit of these precepts, and the conduct of their apostle; you will find there an artful and audacious character, which, to obtain its end, works ably it is true, on the passions of the people it had to govern. It is speaking to simple men, and it entertains them with miracles; they are ignorant and jealous, and it flatters their vanity by despising science; they are poor and rapacious, and it excites their cupidity by the hope of pillage; having nothing at first to give them on earth, it tells them of treasures in heaven; it teaches them to desire death as a supreme good; it threatens cowards with hell; it rewards the brave with paradise; it sustains the weak with the opinion of fatality; in short, it produces the attachment it wants by all the allurements of sense, and all the power of the passions.

"How different is the character of our religion! and how completely does its empire, founded on the counteraction of the natural temper, and the mortification of all our passions, prove its divine origin! How forcibly does its mild and compassionate morality, its affections altogether spiritual, attest its emanation from God! Many of its doctrines, it is true, soar above the reach of the understanding, and impose on reason a respectful silence; but this more fully demonstrates its revelation, since the human mind could never have imagined such mysteries."

Then, holding the Bible in one hand and the four Gospels in the other, the doctor began to relate that, in the beginning, God, after passing an eternity in idleness, took the resolution, without any known cause, of making the world out of nothing; that having created the whole universe in six days, he found himself fatigued on the seventh; that having placed the first human pair in a garden of delights, to make them completely happy, he forbade their tasting a particular fruit which he placed within their reach; that these first parents, having yielded to the temptation, all their race (which were not yet born) had been condemned to bear the penalty of a fault which they had not committed; that, after having left the human race to damn themselves for four or five thousand years, this God of mercy ordered a well beloved son, whom he had engendered without a mother, and who was as old as himself, to go and be put to death on the earth; and this for the salvation of mankind; of whom much the greater portion, nevertheless, have ever since continued in the way of perdition; that to remedy this new difficulty, this same God, born of a virgin, having died and risen from the dead, assumes a new existence every day, and in the form of a piece of bread, multiplies himself by millions at the voice of one of the basest of men. Then, passing on to the doctrine of the sacraments, he was going to treat at large on the power of absolution and reprobation, of the means of purging all sins by a little water and a few words, when, uttering the words indulgence, power of the pope, sufficient grace, and efficacious grace, he was interrupted by a thousand cries.

"It is a horrible abuse," cried the Lutherans, "to pretend to remit sins for money."

"The notion of the real presence," cried the Calvinists, "is contrary to the text of the Gospel."

"The pope has no right to decide anything of himself," cried the Jansenists; and thirty other sects rising up, and accusing each other of heresies and errors, it was no longer possible to hear anything distinctly.

Silence being at last restored, the Mussulmans observed to the legislator:

"Since you have rejected our doctrine as containing things incredible, can you admit that of the Christians? Is not theirs still more contrary to common sense and justice? A God, immaterial and infinite, to become a man! to have a son as old as himself! This god-man to become bread, to be eaten and digested! Have we any thing equal to that? Have the Christians an exclusive right of setting up a blind faith? And will you grant them privileges of belief to our detriment?"

Some savage tribes then advanced: "What!" said they, "because a man and woman ate an apple six thousand years ago, all the human race are damned? And you call God just? What tyrant ever rendered children responsible for the faults of their fathers? What man can answer for the actions of another? Does not this overturn every idea of justice and of reason?"

Others exclaimed: "Where are the proofs, the witnesses of these pretended facts? Can we receive them without examining the evidence? The least action in a court of justice requires two witnesses; and we are ordered to believe all this on mere tradition and hearsay!"

A Jewish Rabbin then addressing the assembly, said: "As to the fundamental facts, we are sureties; but with regard to their form and their application, the case is different, and the Christians are here condemned by their own arguments. For they cannot deny that we are the original source from which they are derived—the primitive stock on which they are grafted; and hence the reasoning is very short: Either our law is from God, and then theirs is a heresy, since it differs from ours, or our law is not from God, and then theirs falls at the same time."

"But you must make this distinction," replied the Christian: "Your law is from God as typical and preparative, but not as final and absolute: you are the image of which we are the substance."

"We know," replied the Rabbin, "that such are your pretensions; but they are absolutely gratuitous and false. Your system turns altogether on mystical meanings, visionary and allegorical interpretations.* With violent distortions on the letter of our books, you substitute the most chimerical ideas for the true ones, and find in them whatever pleases you; as a roving imagination will find figures in the clouds. Thus you have made a spiritual Messiah of that which, in the spirit of our prophets, is only a temporal king. You have made a redemption of the human race out of the simple re-establishment of our nation. Your conception of the Virgin is founded on a single phrase, of which you have changed the meaning. Thus you make from our Scriptures whatever your fancy dictates; you even find there your trinity; though there is not a word that has the most distant allusion to such a thing; and it is an invention of profane writers, admitted into your system with a host of other opinions, of every religion and of every sect, during the anarchy of the first three centuries of your era."

* When we read the Fathers of the church, and see upon what
arguments they have built the edifice of religion, we are
inexpressibly astonished with their credulity or their
knavery: but allegory was the rage of that period; the
Pagans employed it to explain the actions of their gods, and
the Christians acted in the same spirit when they employed
it after their fashion.


At these words, the Christian doctors, crying sacrilege and blasphemy, sprang forward in a transport of fury to fall upon the Jew; and a troop of monks, in motley dresses of black and white, advanced with a standard on which were painted pincers, gridirons, lighted fagots, and the words Justice, Charity, Mercy.* "It is necessary," said they, "to make an example of these impious wretches, and burn them for the glory of God." They began even to prepare the pile, when a Mussulman answered in a strain of irony:

"This, then, is that religion of peace, that meek and beneficent system which you so much extol! This is that evangelical charity which combats infidelity with persuasive mildness, and repays injuries with patience! Ye hypocrites! It is thus that you deceive mankind—thus that you propagate your accursed errors! When you were weak, you preached liberty, toleration, peace; when you are strong, you practise persecution and violence—"

* This description answers exactly to the banner of the
Inquisition of Spanish Jacobins.


And he was going to begin the history of the wars and slaughters of Christianity, when the legislator, demanding silence, suspended this scene of discord.

The monks, affecting a tone of meekness and humility, exclaimed: "It is not ourselves that we would avenge; it is the cause of God; it is the glory of God that we defend."

"And what right have you, more than we," said the Imans, "to constitute yourselves the representatives of God? Have you privileges that we have not? Are you not men like us?"

"To defend God," said another group, "to pretend to avenge him, is to insult his wisdom and his power. Does he not know, better than men, what befits his dignity?"

"Yes," replied the monks, "but his ways are secret."

"And it remains for you to prove," said the Rabbins, "that you have the exclusive privilege of understanding them."

Then, proud of finding supporters to their cause, the Jews thought that the books of Moses were going to be triumphant, when the Mobed (high priest) of the Parses obtained leave to speak.

"We have heard," said he, "the account of the Jews and Christians of the origin of the world; and, though greatly mutilated, we find in it some facts which we admit. But we deny that they are to be attributed to the legislator of the Hebrews. It was not he who made known to men these sublime truths, these celestial events. It was not to him that God revealed them, but to our holy prophet Zoroaster: and the proof of this is in the very books that they refer to. Examine with attention the laws, the ceremonies, the precepts established by Moses in those books; you will not find the slightest indication, either expressed or understood, of what constitutes the basis of the Jewish and Christian theology. You nowhere find the least trace of the immortality of the soul, or of a future life, or of heaven, or of hell, or of the revolt of the principal angel, author of the evils of the human race. These ideas were not known to Moses, and the reason is very obvious: it was not till four centuries afterwards that Zoroaster first evangelized them in Asia.*

* See the Chronology of the Twelve Ages, in which I conceive
myself to have clearly proved that Moses lived about 1,400
years before Jesus Christ, and Zoroaster about a thousand.


"Thus," continued the Mobed, turning to the Rabbins, "it was not till after that epoch, that is to say, in the time of your first kings, that these ideas began to appear in your writers; and then their appearance was obscure and gradual, according to the progress of the political relations between your ancestors and ours. It was especially when, having been conquered by the kings of Nineveh and Babylon and transported to the banks of the Tygris and the Euphrates, where they resided for three successive generations, that they imbibed manners and opinions which had been rejected as contrary to their law. When our king Cyrus had delivered them from slavery, their heart was won to us by gratitude; they became our disciples and imitators; and they admitted our dogmas in the revision of their books;* for your Genesis, in particular, was never the work of Moses, but a compilation drawn up after the return from the Babylonian captivity, in which are inserted the Chaldean opinions of the origin of the world.

* In the first periods of the Christian church, not only the
most learned of those who have since been denominated
heretics, but many of the orthodox conceived Moses to have
written neither the law nor the Pentateuch, but that the
work was a compilation made by the elders of the people and
the Seventy, who, after the death of Moses, collected his
scattered ordinances, and mixed with them things that were
extraneous; similar to what happened as to the Koran of
Mahomet. See Les Clementines, Homel. 2. sect. 51. and
Homel. 3. sect. 42.

Modern critics, more enlightened or more attentive than the
ancients, have found in Genesis in particular, marks of its
having been composed on the return from the captivity; but
the principal proofs have escaped them. These I mean to
exhibit in an analysis of the book of Genesis, in which I
shall demonstrate that the tenth chapter, among others,
which treats of the pretended generations of the man called
Noah, is a real geographical picture of the world, as it was
known to the Hebrews at the epoch of the captivity, which
was bounded by Greece or Hellas at the West, mount Caucasus
at the North, Persia at the East, and Arabia and Upper Egypt
at the South. All the pretended personages from Adam to
Abraham, or his father Terah, are mythological beings,
stars, constellations, countries. Adam is Bootes: Noah is
Osiris: Xisuthrus Janus, Saturn; that is to say Capricorn,
or the celestial Genius that opened the year. The
Alexandrian Chronicle says expressly, page 85, that Nimrod
was supposed by the Persians to be their first king, as
having invented the art of hunting, and that he was
translated into heaven, where he appears under the name of
Orion.


"At first the pure followers of the law, opposing to the emigrants the letter of the text and the absolute silence of the prophet, endeavored to repel these innovations; but they ultimately prevailed, and our doctrine, modified by your ideas, gave rise to a new sect.

"You expected a king to restore your political independence; we announced a God to regenerate and save mankind. From this combination of ideas, your Essenians laid the foundation of Christianity: and whatever your pretensions may be, Jews, Christians, Mussulmans, you are, in your system of spiritual beings, only the blundering followers of Zoroaster."

The Mobed, then passing on to the details of his religion, quoting from the Zadder and the Zendavesta, recounted, in the same order as they are found in the book of Genesis, the creation of the world in six gahans,* the formation of a first man and a first woman, in a divine place, under the reign of perfect good; the introduction of evil into the world by the great snake, emblem of Ahrimanes; the revolt and battles of the Genius of evil and darkness against Ormuzd, God of good and of light; the division of the angels into white and black, or good and bad; their hierarchal orders, cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominions, etc.; the end of the world at the close of six thousand years; the coming of the lamb, the regenerator of nature; the new world; the future life, and the regions of happiness and misery; the passage of souls over the bridge of the bottomless pit; the celebration of the mysteries of Mithras; the unleavened bread which the initiated eat; the baptism of new-born children; the unction of the dead; the confession of sins; and, in a word, he recited so many things analagous to those of the three preceding religions, that his discourse seemed like a commentary or a continuation of the Koran or the Apocalypse.**

* Or periods, or in six gahan-bars, that is six periods of
time. These periods are what Zoroaster calls the thousands
of God or of light, meaning the six summer months. In the
first, say the Persians, God created (arranged in order) the
heavens; in the second the waters; in the third the earth;
in the fourth trees; in the fifth animals; and in the sixth
man; corresponding with the account in Genesis. For
particulars see Hyde, ch. 9, and Henry Lord, ch. 2, on the
religion of the ancient Persians. It is remarkable that the
same tradition is found in the sacred books of the
Etrurians, which relate that the fabricator of all things
had comprised the duration of his work in a period of twelve
thousand years, which period was distributed to the twelve
houses of the sun. In the first thousand, God made heaven
and earth; in the second the firmament; in the third the sea
and the waters; in the fourth the sun, moon and stars; in
the fifth the souls of animals, birds, and reptiles; in the
sixth man. See Suidas, at the word Tyrrhena; which shows
first the identity of their theological and astrological
opinions; and, secondly, the identity, or rather confusion
of ideas, between absolute and systematical creation; that
is, the periods assigned for renewing the face of nature,
which were at first the period of the year, and afterwards
periods of 60, of 600, of 25,000, of 36,000 and of 432,000
years.


** The modern Parses and the ancient Mithriacs, who are the
same sect, observe all the Christian sacraments, even the
laying on of hands in confirmation. The priest of Mithra,
says Tertullian, (de Proescriptione, ch. 40) promises
absolution from sin on confession and baptism; and, if I
rightly remember, Mithra marks his soldiers in the forehead,
with the chrism called in the Egyptian Kouphi; he celebrates
the sacrifice of bread, which is the resurrection, and
presents the crown to his followers, menacing them at the
same time with the sword, etc.

In these mysteries they tried the courage of the initiated
with a thousand terrors, presenting fire to his face, a
sword to his breast, etc.; they also offered him a crown,
which he refused, saying, God is my crown: and this crown is
to be seen in the celestial sphere by the side of Bootes.
The personages in these mysteries were distinguished by the
names of the animal constellations. The ceremony of mass is
nothing more than an imitation of these mysteries and those
of Eleusis. The benediction, the Lord be with you, is a
literal translation of the formula of admission chou-k, am,
p-ka. See Beausob. Hist. Du Manicheisme, vol. ii.


But the Jewish, Christian, and Mahometan doctors, crying out against this recital, and treating the Parses as idolaters and worshippers of fire, charged them with falsehood, interpolations, falsification of facts; and there arose a violent dispute as to the dates of the events, their order and succession, the origin of the doctrines, their transmission from nation to nation, the authenticity of the books on which they are founded, the epoch of their composition, the character of their compilers, and the validity of their testimony. And the various parties, pointing out reciprocally to each other, the contradictions, improbabilities, and forgeries, accused one another of having established their belief on popular rumors, vague traditions, and absurd fables, invented without discernment, and admitted without examination by unknown, partial, or ignorant writers, at uncertain or unknown epochs.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:40 am

Part 2 of 2

A great murmur now arose from under the standards of the various Indian sects; and the Bramins, protesting against the pretensions of the Jews and the Parses, said:

"What are these new and almost unheard of nations, who arrogantly set themselves up as the sources of the human race, and the depositaries of its archives? To hear their calculations of five or six thousand years, it would seem that the world was of yesterday; whereas our monuments prove a duration of many thousands of centuries. And for what reason are their books to be preferred to ours? Are then the Vedes, the Chastres, and the Pourans inferior to the Bibles, the Zendavestas, and the Zadders?* And is not the testimony of our fathers and our gods as valid as that of the fathers and the gods of the West? Ah! if it were permitted to reveal our mysteries to profane men! if a sacred veil did not justly conceal them from every eye!"

These are the sacred volumes of the Hindoos; they are sometimes written Vedams, Pouranams, Chastrans, because the Hindoos, like the Persians, are accustomed to give a nasal sound to the terminations of their words, which we represent by the affixes on and an, and the Portuguese by the affixes om and am. Many of these books have been translated, thanks to the liberal spirit of Mr. Hastings, who has founded at Calcutta a literary society, and a printing press. At the same time, however, that we express our gratitude to this society, we must be permitted to complain of its exclusive spirit; the number of copies printed of each book being such as it is impossible to purchase them even in England; they are wholly in the hands of the East India proprietors. Scarcely even is the Asiatic Miscellany known in Europe; and a man must be very learned in oriental antiquity before he so much as hears of the Jones's, the Wilkins's, and the Halhed's, etc. As to the sacred books of the Hindoos, all that are yet in our hands are the Bhagvat Geeta, the Ezour-Vedam, the Bagavadam, and certain fragments of the Chastres printed at the end of the Bhagvat Geeta. These books are in Indostan what the Old and New Testament are in Christendom, the Koran in Turkey, the Zadder and the Zendavesta among the Parses, etc. When I have taken an extensive survey of their contents, I have sometimes asked myself, what would be the loss to the human race if a new Omar condemned them to the flames; and, unable to discover any mischief that would ensue, I call the imaginary chest that contains them, the box of Pandora.

The Pandora myth is a kind of theodicy, addressing the question of why there is evil in the world. According to this, Pandora opened a jar (pithos) (commonly referred to as "Pandora's box") releasing all the evils of humanity.

-- Pandora, by Wikipedia


The Bramins stopping short at these words: "How can we admit your doctrine," said the legislator, "if you will not make it known? And how did its first authors propagate it, when, being alone possessed of it, their own people were to them profane? Did heaven reveal it to be kept a secret?"*

* The Vedas or Vedams are the sacred volumes of the Hindoos,
as the Bibles with us. They are three in number; the Rick
Veda, the Yadjour Veda, and the Sama Veda; they are so
scarce in India, that the English could with great
difficulty find an original one, of which a copy is
deposited in the British Museum; they who reckon four Vedas,
include among them the Attar Veda, concerning ceremonies,
but which is lost. There are besides commentaries named
Upanishada, one of which was published by Anquetil du Peron,
and entitled Oupnekhat, a curious work. The date of these
books is more than twenty-five centuries prior to our era;
their contents prove that all the reveries of the Greek
metaphysicians come from India and Egypt. Since the year
1788, the learned men of England are working in India a mine
of literature totally unknown in Europe, and which proves
that the civilization of India ascends to a very remote
antiquity. After the Vedas come the Chastras amounting to
six. They treat of theology and the Sciences. Afterwards
eighteen Pouranas, treating of Mythology and History. See
the Bahgouet-guita, the Baga Vadam, and the Ezour-Vedam,
etc.


But the Bramins persisting in their silence: "Let them have the honor of the secret," said a European: "Their doctrine is now divulged; we have their books, and I can give you the substance of them."

Then beginning with an abstract of the four Vedes, the eighteen Pourans, and the five or six Chastres, he recounted how a being, infinite, eternal, immaterial and round, after having passed an eternity in self-contemplation, and determining at last to manifest himself, separated the male and female faculties which were in him, and performed an act of generation, of which the Lingam remains an emblem; how that first act gave birth to three divine powers, Brama, Bichen or Vichenou, and Chib or Chiven;* whose functions were—the first to create, the second to preserve, and the third to destroy, or change the form of the universe. Then, detailing the history of their operations and adventures, he explained how Brama, proud of having created the world and the eight bobouns, or spheres of probation, thought himself superior to Chib, his equal; how his pride brought on a battle between them, in which these celestial globes were crushed like a basket of eggs; how Brama, vanquished in this conflict, was reduced to serve as a pedestal to Chib, metamorphosed into a Lingam; how Vichenou, the god mediator, has taken at different times to preserve the world, nine mortal forms of animals; how first, in shape of a fish, he saved from the universal deluge a family who repeopled the earth; how afterwards, in the form of a tortoise,** he drew from the sea of milk the mountain Mandreguiri (the pole); then, becoming a boar, he tore the belly of the giant Ereuniachessen, who was drowning the earth in the abyss of Djole, from whence he drew it out with his tusks; how, becoming incarnate in a black shepherd, and under the name of Christ-en, he delivered the world of the enormous serpent Calengem, and then crushed his head, after having been wounded by him in the heel.

* These names are differently pronounced according to the
different dialects; thus they say Birmah, Bremma, Brouma.
Bichen has been turned into Vichen by the easy exchange of a
B for a V, and into Vichenou by means of a grammatical
affix. In the same manner Chib, which is synonymous with
Satan, and signifies adversary, is frequently written Chiba
and Chiv-en; he is called also Rouder and Routr-en, that is,
the destroyer.


** This is the constellation testudo, or the lyre, which was
at first a tortoise, on account of its slow motion round the
Pole; then a lyre, because it is the shell of this reptile
on which the strings of the lyre are mounted. See an
excellent memoir of M. Dupuis sur l'Origine des
Constellations.


Then, passing on to the history of the secondary Genii, he related how the Eternal, to display his own glory, created various orders of angels, whose business it was to sing his praises and to direct the universe; how a part of these angels revolted under the guidance of an ambitious chief, who strove to usurp the power of God, and to govern all; how God plunged them into a world of darkness, there to undergo the punishment for their crimes; how at last, touched with compassion, he consented to release them, to receive them into favor, after they should undergo a long series of probations; how, after creating for this purpose fifteen orbits or regions of planets, and peopling them with bodies, he ordered these rebel angels to undergo in them eighty-seven transmigrations; he then explained how souls, thus purified, returned to the first source, to the ocean of life and animation from which they had proceeded; and since all living creatures contain portions of this universal soul, he taught how criminal it was to deprive them of it. He was finally proceeding to explain the rites and ceremonies, when, speaking of offerings and libations of milk and butter made to gods of copper and wood, and then of purifications by the dung and urine of cows, there arose a universal murmur, mixed with peals of laughter, which interrupted the orator.

Each of the different groups began to reason on that religion: "They are idolators," said the Mussulmans; "and should be exterminated." "They are deranged in their intellect," said the followers of Confucius; "we must try to cure them." "What ridiculous gods," said others, "are these puppets, besmeared with grease and smoke! Are gods to be washed like dirty children, from whom you must brush away the flies, which, attracted by honey, are fouling them with their excrements!"

But a Bramin exclaimed with indignation: "These are profound mysteries,—emblems of truth, which you are not worthy to hear."

"And in what respect are you more worthy than we?" exclaimed a Lama of Tibet. "Is it because you pretend to have issued from the head of Brama, and the rest of the human race from the less noble parts of his body? But to support the pride of your distinctions of origin and castes, prove to us in the first place that you are different from other men; establish, in the next place, as historical facts, the allegories which you relate; show us, indeed, that you are the authors of all this doctrine; for we will demonstrate, if necessary, that you have only stolen and disfigured it; that you are only the imitators of the ancient paganism of the West; to which, by an ill assorted mixture, you have allied the pure and spiritual doctrine of our gods—a doctrine totally detached from the senses, and entirely unknown on earth till Beddou taught it to the nations."*

* All the ancient opinions of the Egyptian and Grecian
theologians are to be found in India, and they appear to
have been introduced, by means of the commerce of Arabia and
the vicinity of Persia, time immemorial.


A number of groups having asked what was this doctrine, and who was this god, of whom the greater part had never heard the name, the Lama resumed and said:

"In the beginning, a sole-existent and self-existent God, having passed an eternity in the contemplation of his own being, resolved to manifest his perfections out of himself, and created the matter of the world. The four elements being produced, but still in a state of confusion, he breathed on the face of the waters, which swelled like an immense bubble in form of an egg, which unfolding, became the vault or orb of heaven, enclosing the world.* Having made the earth, and the bodies of animals, this God, essence of motion, imparted to them a part of his own being to animate them; for this reason, the soul of everything that breathes being a portion of the universal soul, no one of them can perish; they only change their form and mould in passing successively into different bodies. Of all these forms, the one most pleasing to God is that of man, as most resembling his own perfections. When a man, by an absolute disengagement from his senses, is wholly absorbed in self-contemplation, he then discovers the divinity, and becomes himself God. Of all the incarnations of this kind that God has hitherto taken, the greatest and most solemn was that in which he appeared thirty centuries ago in Kachemire, under the name of Fot or Beddou, to preach the doctrines of self-denial and self-annihilation."

* This cosmogony of the Lamas, the Bonzes, and even the
Bramins, as Henry Lord asserts, is literally that of the
ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians, says Porphyry, call Kneph,
intelligence, or efficient cause of the universe. They
relate that this God vomited an egg, from which was produced
another God named Phtha or Vulcan, (igneous principle or the
sun) and they add, that this egg is the world. Euseb.
Proep. Evang. p. 115.

They represent, says the same author in another place, the
God Kneph, or efficient cause, under the form of a man in
deep blue (the color of the sky) having in his hand a
sceptre, a belt round his body, and a small bonnet royal of
light feathers on his head, to denote how very subtile and
fugacious the idea of that being is. Upon which I shall
observe that Kneph in Hebrew signifies a wing, a feather,
and that this color of sky-blue is to be found in the
majority of the Indian Gods, and is, under the name of
Narayan, one of their most distinguishing epithets.


Then, pursuing the history of Fot, the Lama continued:

"He was born from the right flank of a virgin of royal blood, who did not cease to be a virgin for having become a mother; that the king of the country, uneasy at his birth, wished to destroy him, and for this purpose ordered a massacre of all the males born at that period, that being saved by shepherds, Beddou lived in the desert till the age of thirty years, at which time he began his mission to enlighten men and cast out devils; that he performed a multitude of the most astonishing miracles; that he spent his life in fasting and severe penitence, and at his death, bequeathed to his disciples a book containing his doctrines."

And the Lama began to read:

"He that leaveth his father and mother to follow me," says Fot, "becomes a perfect Samanean (a heavenly man).

"He that practices my precepts to the fourth degree of perfection, acquires the faculty of flying in the air, of moving heaven and earth, of prolonging or shortening his life (rising from the dead).

"The Samanean despises riches, and uses only what is strictly necessary; he mortifies his body, silences his passions, desires nothing, forms no attachments, meditates my doctrines without ceasing, endures injuries with patience, and bears no malice to his neighbor.

"Heaven and earth shall perish," says Fot: "despise therefore your bodies, which are composed of the four perishable elements, and think only of your immortal soul.

"Listen not to the flesh: fear and sorrow spring from the passions: stifle the passions and you destroy fear and sorrow.

"Whoever dies without having embraced my religion," says Fot, "returns among men, until he embraces it."

The Lama was going on with his reading, when the Christians interrupted him, crying out that this was their own religion adulterated—that Fot was no other than Jesus himself disfigured, and that the Lamas were the Nestorians and the Manicheans disguised and bastardized.*

* This is asserted by our missionaries, and among others by
Georgi in his unfinished work of the Thibetan alphabet: but
if it can be proved that the Manicheans were but
plagiarists, and the ignorant echo of a doctrine that
existed fifteen hundred years before them, what becomes of
the declarations of Georgi? See upon this subject, Beausob.
Hist. du Manicheisme.


But the Lama, supported by the Chamans, Bonzes, Gonnis, Talapoins of Siam, of Ceylon, of Japan, and of China, proved to the Christians, even from their own authors, that the doctrine of the Samaneans was known through the East more than a thousand years before the Christian era; that their name was cited before the time of Alexander, and that Boutta, or Beddou, was known before Jesus.*

* The eastern writers in general agree in placing the birth
of Beddou 1027 years before Jesus Christ, which makes him
the contemporary of Zoroaster, with whom, in my opinion,
they confound him. It is certain that his doctrine
notoriously existed at that epoch; it is found entire in
that of Orpheus, Pythagoras, and the Indian gymnosophists.
But the gymnosophists are cited at the time of Alexander as
an ancient sect already divided into Brachmans and
Samaneans. See Bardesanes en Saint Jerome, Epitre a Jovien.
Pythagoras lived in the ninth century before Jesus Christ;
See chronology of the twelve ages; and Orpheus is of still
greater antiquity. If, as is the case, the doctrine of
Pythagoras and that of Orpheus are of Egyptian origin, that
of Beddou goes back to the common source; and in reality the
Egyptian priests recite, that Hermes as he was dying said:
"I have hitherto lived an exile from my country, to which I
now return. Weep not for me, I ascend to the celestial
abode where each of you will follow in his turn: there God
is: this life is only death."—Chalcidius in Thinaeum.

Such was the profession of faith of the Samaneans, the
sectaries of Orpheus, and the Pythagoreans. Farther, Hermes
is no other than Beddou himself; for among the Indians,
Chinese, Lamas, etc., the planet Mercury and the
corresponding day of the week (Wednesday) bear the name of
Beddou, and this accounts for his being placed in the rank
of mythological beings, and discovers the illusion of his
pretended existence as a man; since it is evident that
Mercury was not a human being, but the Genius or Decan, who,
placed at the summer solstice, opened the Egyptian year;
hence his attributes taken from the constellation Syrius,
and his name of Anubis, as well as that of Esculapius,
having the figure of a man and the head of a dog: hence his
serpent, which is the Hydra, emblem of the Nile (Hydor,
humidity); and from this serpent he seems to have derived
his name of Hermes, as Remes (with a schin) in the oriental
languages, signifies serpent. Now Beddou and Hermes being
the same names, it is manifest of what antiquity is the
system ascribed to the former. As to the name of Samanean,
it is precisely that of Chaman, still preserved in Tartary,
China, and India. The interpretation given to it is, man of
the woods, a hermit mortifying the flesh, such being the
characteristic of this sect; but its literal meaning is,
celestial (Samaoui) and explains the system of those who are
called by it.—The system is the same as that of the
sectaries of Orpheus, of the Essenians, of the ancient
Anchorets of Persia, and the whole eastern country. See
Porphyry, de Abstin. Animal.

These celestial and penitent men carried in India their
insanity to such an extreme as to wish not to touch the
earth, and they accordingly lived in cages suspended from
the trees, where the people, whose admiration was not less
absurd, brought them provisions. During the night there
were frequent robberies, rapes and murders, and it was at
length discovered that they were committed by those men,
who, descending from their cages, thus indemnified
themselves for their restraint during the day. The Bramins,
their rivals, embraced the opportunity of exterminating
them; and from that time their name in India has been
synonymous with hypocrite. See Hist. de la Chine, in 5
vols. quarto, at the note page 30; Hist. de Huns, 2 vols.
and preface to the Ezour-Vedam.


Then, retorting the pretensions of the Christians against themselves: "Prove to us," said the Lama, "that you are not Samaneans degenerated, and that the man you make the author of your sect is not Fot himself disguised. Prove to us by historical facts that he even existed at the epoch you pretend; for, it being destitute of authentic testimony,* we absolutely deny it; and we maintain that your very gospels are only the books of some Mithriacs of Persia, and the Essenians of Syria, who were a branch of reformed Samaneans."**

* There are absolutely no other monuments of the existence
of Jesus Christ as a human being, than a passage in Josephus
(Antiq. Jud. lib. 18, c.3,) a single phrase in Tacitus
(Annal. lib. 15, c. 44), and the Gospels. But the passage
in Josephus is unanimously acknowledged to be apocryphal,
and to have been interpolated towards the close of the third
century, (See Trad. de joseph, par M. Gillet); and that of
Tacitus in so vague and so evidently taken from the
deposition of the Christians before the tribunals, that it
may be ranked in the class of evangelical records. It
remains to enquire of what authority are these records.
"All the world knows," says Faustus, who, though a
Manichean, was one of the most learned men of the third
century, "All the world knows that the gospels were neither
written by Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, but by certain
unknown persons, who rightly judging that they should not
obtain belief respecting things which they had not seen,
placed at the head of their recitals the names of
contemporary apostles." See Beausob. vol. i. and Hist. des
Apologistes de la Relig. Chret. par Burigni, a sagacious
writer, who has demonstrated the absolute uncertainty of
those foundations of the Christian religion; so that the
existence of Jesus is no better proved than that of Osiris
and Hercules, or that of Fot or Beddou, with whom, says M.
de Guignes, the Chinese continually confound him, for they
never call Jesus by any other name than Fot. Hist. de Huns.


** That is to say, from the pious romances formed out of the
sacred legends of the mysteries of Mithra, Ceres, Isis,
etc., from whence are equally derived the books of the
Hindoos and the Bonzes. Our missionaries have long remarked
a striking resemblance between those books and the gospels.
M. Wilkins expressly mentions it in a note in the Bhagvat
Geeta. All agree that Krisna, Fot, and Jesus have the same
characteristic features: but religious prejudice has stood
in the way of drawing from this circumstance the proper and
natural inference. To time and reason must it be left to
display the truth.


At these words, the Christians set up a general cry, and a new dispute was about to begin; when a number of Chinese Chamans, and Talapoins of Siam, came forward and said that they would settle the whole controversy. And one of them speaking for the whole exclaimed: "It is time to put an end to these frivolous contests by drawing aside the veil from the interior doctrine that Fot himself revealed to his disciples on his death bed.*

* The Budsoists have two doctrines, the one public and
ostensible, the other interior and secret, precisely like
the Egyptian priests. It may be asked, why this distinction?
It is, that as the public doctrine recommends offerings,
expiations, endowments, etc., the priests find their profit
in preaching it to the people; whereas the other, teaching
the vanity of worldly things, and attended with no lucre, it
is thought proper to make it known only to adepts. Can the
teachers and followers of this religion be better classed
than under the heads of knavery and credulity?


"All these theological opinions," continued he, "are but chimeras. All the stories of the nature of the gods, of their actions and their lives, are but allegories and mythological emblems, under which are enveloped ingenious ideas of morals, and the knowledge of the operations of nature in the action of the elements and the movement of the planets.

"The truth is, that all is reduced to nothing—that all is illusion, appearance, dream; that the moral metempsychosis is only the figurative sense of the physical metempsychosis, or the successive movement of the elements of bodies which perish not, but which, having composed one body, pass when that is dissolved, into other mediums and form other combinations. The soul is but the vital principle which results from the properties of matter, and from the action of the elements in those bodies where they create a spontaneous movement. To suppose that this product of the play of the organs, born with them, matured with them, and which sleeps with them, can subsist when they cease, is the romance of a wandering imagination, perhaps agreeable enough, but really chimerical.

"God itself is nothing more than the moving principle, the occult force inherent in all beings—the sum of their laws and properties—the animating principle; in a word, the soul of the universe; which on account of the infinite variety of its connections and its operations, sometimes simple, sometimes multiple, sometimes active, sometimes passive, has always presented to the human mind an unsolvable enigma. All that man can comprehend with certainty is, that matter does not perish; that it possesses essentially those properties by which the world is held together like a living and organized being; that the knowledge of these laws with respect to man is what constitutes wisdom; that virtue and merit consist in their observance; and evil, sin, and vice, in the ignorance and violation of them; that happiness and misery result from these by the same necessity which makes heavy bodies descend and light ones rise, and by a fatality of causes and effects, whose chain extends from the smallest atom to the greatest of the heavenly bodies."*

* These are the very expressions of La Loubre, in his
description of the kingdom of Siam and the theology of the
Bronzes. Their dogmas, compared with those of the ancient
philosophers of Greece and Italy, give a complete
representation of the whole system of the Stoics and
Epicureans, mixed with astrological superstitious, and some
traits of Pythagorism.


At these words, a crowd of theologians of every sect cried out that this doctrine was materialism, and that those who profess it were impious atheists, enemies to God and man, who must be exterminated. "Very well," replied the Chamans, "suppose we are in error, which is not impossible, since the first attribute of the human mind is to be subject to illusion; but what right have you to take away from men like yourselves, the life which Heaven has given them? If Heaven holds us guilty and in abhorrence, why does it impart to us the same blessings as to you? And if it treats us with forbearance, what authority have you to be less indulgent? Pious men! who speak of God with so much certainty and confidence, be so good as to tell us what it is; give us to comprehend what those abstract and metaphysical beings are, which you call God and soul, substance without matter, existence without body, life without organs or sensation. If you know those beings by your senses or their reflections, render them in like manner perceptible to us; or if you speak of them on testimony and tradition, show us a uniform account, and give a determinate basis to our creed."

There now arose among the theologians a great controversy respecting God and his nature, his manner of acting, and of manifesting himself; on the nature of the soul and its union with the body; whether it exists before the organs, or only after they are formed; on the future life, and the other world. And every sect, every school, every individual, differing on all these points, and each assigning plausible reasons, and respectable though opposite authorities for his opinion, they fell into an inextricable labyrinth of contradictions.

Then the legislator, having commanded silence and recalled the dispute to its true object, said: "Chiefs and instructors of nations; you came together in search of truth. At first, every one of you, thinking he possessed it, demanded of the others an implicit faith; but perceiving the contrariety of your opinions, you found it necessary to submit them to a common rule of evidence, and to bring them to one general term of comparison; and you agreed that each should exhibit the proofs of his doctrine. You began by alleging facts; but each religion and every sect, being equally furnished with miracles and martyrs, each producing an equal number of witnesses, and offering to support them by a voluntary death, the balance on this first point, by right of parity, remained equal.

"You then passed to the trial of reasoning; but the same arguments applying equally to contrary positions—the same assertions, equally gratuitous, being advanced and repelled with equal force, and all having an equal right to refuse his assent, nothing was demonstrated. What is more, the confrontation of your systems has brought up more and extraordinary difficulties; for amid the apparent or adventitious diversities, you have discovered a fundamental resemblance, a common groundwork; and each of you pretending to be the inventor, and first depositary, have taxed each other with adulterations and plagiarisms; and thence arises a difficult question concerning the transmission of religious ideas from people to people.

"Finally, to complete your embarrassment: when you endeavored to explain your doctrines to each other, they appeared confused and foreign, even to their adherents; they were founded on ideas inaccessible to your senses; you consequently had no means of judging of them, and you confessed yourselves in this respect to be only the echoes of your fathers. Hence follows this other question: how came they to the knowledge of your fathers, who themselves had no other means than you to conceive them? So that, on the one hand, the succession of these ideas being unknown, and on the other, their origin and existence being a mystery, all the edifice of your religious opinions becomes a complicated problem of metaphysics and history.

"Since, however, these opinions, extraordinary as they may be, must have had some origin; since even the most abstract and fantastical ideas have some physical model, it may be useful to recur to this origin, and discover this model—in a word, to find out from what source the human understanding has drawn these ideas, at present so obscure, of God, of the soul, of all immaterial beings, which make the basis of so many systems; to unfold the filiation which they have followed, and the alterations which they have undergone in their transmissions and ramifications. If, then, there are any persons present who have made a study of these objects, let them come forward, and endeavor, in the face of nations, to dissipate the obscurity in which their opinions have so long remained."
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

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Part 1 of 3

CHAPTER XXII. ORIGIN AND FILIATION OF RELIGIOUS IDEAS.

At these words, a new group, formed in an instant by men from various standards, but not distinguished by any, came forward into the circle; and one of them spoke in the name of the whole:

"Delegates, friends of evidence and virtue! It is not surprising that the subject in question should be enveloped in so many clouds, since, besides its inherent difficulties, thought itself has always been encumbered with superadded obstacles peculiar to this study, where all free enquiry and discussion have been interdicted by the intolerance of every system. But now that our views are permitted to expand, we will expose to open day, and submit to the judgment of nations, that which unprejudiced minds, after long researches, have found to be the most reasonable; and we do this, not with the pretension of imposing a new creed, but with the hope of provoking new lights, and obtaining better information.

"Doctors and instructors of nations! You know what thick darkness covers the nature, the origin, the history of the dogmas which you teach. Imposed by authority, inculcated by education, and maintained by example, they pass from age to age, and strengthen their empire from habit and inattention. But if man, enlightened by reflection and experience, brings to mature examination the prejudices of his childhood, he soon discovers a multitude of incongruities and contradictions which awaken his sagacity and excite his reasoning powers.

"At first, remarking the diversity and opposition of the creeds which divide the nations, he takes courage to question the infallibility which each of them claims, and arming himself with their reciprocal pretensions, he conceives that his senses and his reason, derived immediately from God, are a law not less holy, a guide not less sure, than the mediate and contradictory codes of the prophets.

"If he then examines the texture of these codes themselves, he observes that their laws, pretended to be divine, that is, immutable and eternal, have arisen from circumstances of times, places, and persons; that they have issued one from the other, in a kind of genealogical order, borrowing from each other reciprocally a common and similar fund of ideas, which every lawgiver modifies according to his fancy.

"If he ascends to the source of these ideas, he finds it involved in the night of time, in the infancy of nations, even to the origin of the world, to which they claim alliance; and there, placed in the darkness of chaos, in the empire of fables and traditions, they present themselves, accompanied with a state of things so full of prodigies, that it seems to forbid all access to the judgment: but this state itself excites a first effort of reason, which resolves the difficulty; for if the prodigies, found in the theological systems, have really existed—if, for instance, the metamorphoses, the apparitions, the conversations with one or many gods, recorded in the books of the Indians, the Hebrews, the Parses, are historical events, he must agree that nature in those times was totally different from what it is at present; that the present race of men are quite another species from those who then existed; and, therefore, he ought not to trouble his head about them.

"If, on the contrary, these miraculous events have really not existed in the physical order of things, then he readily conceives that they are creatures of the human intellect; and this faculty being still capable of the most fantastical combinations, explains at once the phenomenon of these monsters in history. It only remains, then, to find how and wherefore they have been formed in the imagination. Now, if we examine with care the subjects of these intellectual creations, analyze the ideas which they combine and associate, and carefully weigh all the circumstances which they allege, we shall find that this first obscure and incredible state of things is explained by the laws of nature. We find that these stories of a fabulous kind have a figurative sense different from the apparent one; that these events, pretended to be marvellous, are simple and physical facts, which, being misconceived or misrepresented, have been disfigured by accidental causes dependent on the human mind, by the confusion of signs employed to represent the ideas, the want of precision in words, permanence in language, and perfection in writing; we find that these gods, for instance, who display such singular characters in every system, are only the physical agents of nature, the elements, the winds, the stars, and the meteors, which have been personified by the necessary mechanism of language and of the human understanding; that their lives, their manners, their actions, are only their mechanical operations and connections; and that all their pretended history is only the description of these phenomena, formed by the first naturalists who observed them, and misconceived by the vulgar who did not understand them, or by succeeding generations who forgot them. In a word, all the theological dogmas on the origin of the world, the nature of God, the revelation of his laws, the manifestation of his person, are known to be only the recital of astronomical facts, only figurative and emblematical accounts of the motion of the heavenly bodies. We are convinced that the very idea of a God, that idea at present so obscure, is, in its first origin, nothing but that of the physical powers of the universe, considered sometimes as a plurality by reason of their agencies and phenomena, sometimes as one simple and only being by reason of the universality of the machine and the connection of its parts; so that the being called God has been sometimes the wind, the fire, the water, all the elements; sometimes the sun, the stars, the planets, and their influence; sometimes the matter of the visible world, the totality of the universe; sometimes abstract and metaphysical qualities, such as space, duration, motion, intelligence; and we everywhere see this conclusion, that the idea of God has not been a miraculous revelation of invisible beings, but a natural offspring of the human intellect—an operation of the mind, whose progress it has followed and whose revolutions it has undergone, in all the progress that has been made in the knowledge of the physical world and its agents.

"It is then in vain that nations attribute their religion to heavenly inspirations; it is in vain that their dogmas pretend to a primeval state of supernatural events: the original barbarity of the human race, attested by their own monuments,* belies these assertions at once. But there is one constant and indubitable fact which refutes beyond contradiction all these doubtful accounts of past ages. From this position, that man acquires and receives no ideas but through the medium of his senses,** it follows with certainty that every notion which claims to itself any other origin than that of sensation and experience, is the erroneous supposition of a posterior reasoning: now, it is sufficient to cast an eye upon the sacred systems of the origin of the world, and of the actions of the gods, to discover in every idea, in every word, the anticipation of an order of things which could not exist till a long time after. Reason, strengthened by these contradictions, rejecting everything that is not in the order of nature, and admitting no historical facts but those founded on probabilities, lays open its own system, and pronounces itself with assurance.

* It is the unanimous testimony of history, and even of
legends, that the first human beings were every where
savages, and that it was to civilize them, and teach them to
make bread, that the Gods manifested themselves.


** The rock on which all the ancients have split, and which
has occasioned all their errors, has been their supposing
the idea of God to be innate and co-eternal with the soul;
and hence all the reveries developed in Plato and Jamblicus.
See the Timoeus, the Phedon, and De Mysteriis Egyptiorum,
sect. I, c. 3.


"Before one nation had received from another nation dogmas already invented; before one generation had inherited ideas acquired by a preceding generation, none of these complicated systems could have existed in the world. The first men, being children of nature, anterior to all events, ignorant of all science, were born without any idea of the dogmas arising from scholastic disputes; of rites founded on the practice of arts not then known; of precepts framed after the development of passions; or of laws which suppose a language, a state of society not then in being; or of God, whose attributes all refer to physical objects, and his actions to a despotic state of government; or of the soul, or of any of those metaphysical beings, which we are told are not the objects of sense, and for which, however, there can be no other means of access to the understanding. To arrive at so many results, the necessary circle of preceding facts must have been observed; slow experience and repeated trials must have taught the rude man the use of his organs; the accumulated knowledge of successive generations must have invented and improved the means of living; and the mind, freed from the cares of the first wants of nature, must have raised itself to the complicated art of comparing ideas, of digesting arguments, and seizing abstract similitudes."

I. Origin of the idea of God: Worship of the elements and of the physical powers of nature.

"It was not till after having overcome these obstacles, and gone through a long career in the night of history, that man, reflecting on his condition, began to perceive that he was subjected to forces superior to his own, and independent of his will. The sun enlightened and warmed him, the fire burned him, the thunder terrified him, the wind beat upon him, the water overwhelmed him. All beings acted upon him powerfully and irresistibly. He sustained this action for a long time, like a machine, without enquiring the cause; but the moment he began his enquiries, he fell into astonishment; and, passing from the surprise of his first reflections to the reverie of curiosity, he began a chain of reasoning.

"First, considering the action of the elements on him, he conceived an idea of weakness and subjection on his part, and of power and domination on theirs; and this idea of power was the primitive and fundamental type of every idea of God.

"Secondly, the action of these natural existences excited in him sensations of pleasure or pain, of good or evil; and by a natural effect of his organization, he conceived for them love or aversion; he desired or dreaded their presence; and fear or hope gave rise to the first idea of religion.

"Then, judging everything by comparison, and remarking in these beings a spontaneous movement like his own, he supposed this movement directed by a will,—an intelligence of the nature of his own; and hence, by induction, he formed a new reasoning. Having experienced that certain practices towards his fellow creatures had the effect to modify their affections and direct their conduct to his advantage, he resorted to the same practices towards these powerful beings of the universe. He reasoned thus with himself: When my fellow creature, stronger than I, is disposed to do me injury, I abase myself before him, and my prayer has the art to calm him. I will pray to these powerful beings who strike me. I will supplicate the intelligences of the winds, of the stars, of the waters, and they will hear me. I will conjure them to avert the evil and give me the good that is at their disposal; I will move them by my tears, I will soften them by offerings, and I shall be happy.

"Thus simple man, in the infancy of his reason, spoke to the sun and to the moon; he animated with his own understanding and passions the great agents of nature; he thought by vain sounds, and vain actions, to change their inflexible laws. Fatal error! He prayed the stone to ascend, the water to mount above its level, the mountains to remove, and substituting a fantastical world for the real one, he peopled it with imaginary beings, to the terror of his mind and the torment of his race.

"In this manner the ideas of God and religion have sprung, like all others, from physical objects; they were produced in the mind of man from his sensations, from his wants, from the circumstances of his life, and the progressive state of his knowledge.

"Now, as the ideas of God had their first models in physical agents, it followed that God was at first varied and manifold, like the form under which he appeared to act. Every being was a Power, a Genius; and the first men conceived the universe filled with innumerable gods.

"Again the ideas of God have been created by the affections of the human heart; they became necessarily divided into two classes, according to the sensations of pleasure or pain, love or hatred, which they inspired.

"The forces of nature, the gods and genii, were divided into beneficent and malignant, good and evil powers; and hence the universality of these two characters in all the systems of religion.

"These ideas, analogous to the condition of their inventors, were for a long time confused and ill-digested. Savage men, wandering in the woods, beset with wants and destitute of resources, had not the leisure to combine principles and draw conclusions; affected with more evils than they found pleasures, their most habitual sentiment was that of fear, their theology terror; their worship was confined to a few salutations and offerings to beings whom they conceived as greedy and ferocious as themselves. In their state of equality and independence, no man offered himself as mediator between men and gods as insubordinate and poor as himself. No one having superfluities to give, there existed no parasite by the name of priest, no tribute by the name of victim, no empire by the name of altar. Their dogmas and their morals were the same thing, it was only self-preservation; and religion, that arbitrary idea, without influence on the mutual relations of men, was a vain homage rendered to the visible powers of nature.

"Such was the necessary and original idea of God."

And the orator, addressing himself to the savage nations, continued:

"We appeal to you, men who have received no foreign and factitious ideas; tell us, have you ever gone beyond what I have described? And you, learned doctors, we call you to witness; is not this the unanimous testimony of all ancient monuments?*

* It clearly results, says Plutarch, from the verses of
Orpheus and the sacred books of the Egyptians and Phrygians,
that the ancient theology, not only of the Greeks, but of
all nations, was nothing more than a system of physics, a
picture of the operations of nature, wrapped up in
mysterious allegories and enigmatical symbols, in a manner
that the ignorant multitude attended rather to their
apparent than to their hidden meaning, and even in what they
understood of the latter, supposed there to be something
more deep than what they perceived. Fragment of a work of
Plutarch now lost, quoted by Eusebius, Proepar. Evang. lib.
3, ch. 1, p. 83.

The majority of philosophers, says Porphyry, and among
others Haeremon (who lived in Egypt in the first age of
Christianity), imagine there never to have been any other
world than the one we see, and acknowledged no other Gods of
all those recognized by the Egyptians, than such as are
commonly called planets, signs of the Zodiac, and
constellations; whose aspects, that is, rising and setting,
are supposed to influence the fortunes of men; to which they
add their divisions of the signs into decans and dispensers
of time, whom they style lords of the ascendant, whose
names, virtues in relieving distempers, rising, setting, and
presages of future events, are the subjects of almanacs (for
be it observed, that the Egyptian priests had almanacs the
exact counterpart of Matthew Lansberg's); for when the
priests affirmed that the sun was the architect of the
universe, Chaeremon presently concludes that all their
narratives respecting Isis and Osiris, together with their
other sacred fables, referred in part to the planets, the
phases of the moon, and the revolution of the sun, and in
part to the stars of the daily and nightly hemispheres and
the river Nile; in a word, in all cases to physical and
natural existences and never to such as might be immaterial
and incorporeal. . . .

All these philosophers believe that the acts of our will and
the motion of our bodies depend on those of the stars to
which they are subjected, and they refer every thing to the
laws of physical necessity, which they call destiny or
Fatum, supposing a chain of causes and effects which binds,
by I know not what connection, all beings together, from the
meanest atom to the supremest power and primary influence of
the Gods; so that, whether in their temples or in their
idols, the only subject of worship is the power of destiny.
Porphyr. Epist. ad Janebonem.


II. Second system: Worship of the Stars, or Sabeism.

"But those same monuments present us likewise a system more methodical and more complicated—that of the worship of all the stars; adored sometimes in their proper forms, sometimes under figurative emblems and symbols; and this worship was the effect of the knowledge men had acquired in physics, and was derived immediately from the first causes of the social state; that is, from the necessities and arts of the first degree, which are among the elements of society.

"Indeed, as soon as men began to unite in society, it became necessary for them to multiply the means of subsistence, and consequently to attend to agriculture: agriculture, to be carried on with success, requires the observation and knowledge of the heavens. It was necessary to know the periodical return of the same operations of nature, and the same phenomena in the skies; indeed to go so far as to ascertain the duration and succession of the seasons and the months of the year. It was indispensable to know, in the first place, the course of the sun, who, in his zodiacal revolution, shows himself the supreme agent of the whole creation; then, of the moon, who, by her phases and periods, regulates and distributes time; then, of the stars, and even of the planets, which by their appearance and disappearance on the horizon and nocturnal hemisphere, marked the minutest divisions. Finally, it was necessary to form a whole system of astronomy,* or a calendar; and from these works there naturally followed a new manner of considering these predominant and governing powers. Having observed that the productions of the earth had a regular and constant relation with the heavenly bodies; that the rise, growth, and decline of each plant kept pace with the appearance, elevation, and declination of the same star or the same group of stars; in short, that the languor or activity of vegetation seemed to depend on celestial influences, men drew from thence an idea of action, of power, in those beings, superior to earthly bodies; and the stars, dispensing plenty or scarcity, became powers, genii,** gods, authors of good and evil.

* It continues to be repeated every day, on the indirect
authority of the book of Genesis, that astronomy was the
invention of the children of Noah. It has been gravely
said, that while wandering shepherds in the plains of
Shinar, they employed their leisure in composing a planetary
system: as if shepherds had occasion to know more than the
polar star; and if necessity was not the sole motive of
every invention! If the ancient shepherds were so studious
and sagacious, how does it happen that the modern ones are
so stupid, ignorant, and inattentive? And it is a fact that
the Arabs of the desert know not so many as six
constellations, and understand not a word of astronomy.


** It appears that by the word genius, the ancients denoted
a quality, a generative power; for the following words,
which are all of one family, convey this meaning: generare,
genos, genesis, genus, gens.


"As the state of society had already introduced a regular hierarchy of ranks, employments and conditions, men, continuing to reason by comparison, carried their new notions into their theology, and formed a complicated system of divinities by gradation of rank, in which the sun, as first god,* was a military chief or a political king: the moon was his wife and queen; the planets were servants, bearers of commands, messengers; and the multitude of stars were a nation, an army of heroes, genii, whose office was to govern the world under the orders of their chiefs. All the individuals had names, functions, attributes, drawn from their relations and influences; and even sexes, from the gender of their appellations.**

* The Sabeans, ancient and modern, says Maimonides,
acknowledge a principal God, the maker and inhabitant of
heaven; but on account of his great distance they conceive
him to be inaccessible; and in imitation of the conduct of
people towards their kings, they employ as mediators with
him, the planets and their angels, whom they call princes
and potentates, and whom they suppose to reside in those
luminous bodies as in palaces or tabernacles, etc. More-
Nebuchim.


** According as the gender of the object was in the language
of the nation masculine or feminine, the Divinity who bore
its name was male or female. Thus the Cappadocians called
the moon God, and the sun Goddess: a circumstance which
gives to the same beings a perpetual variety in ancient
mythology.


"And as the social state had introduced certain usages and ceremonies, religion, keeping pace with the social state, adopted similar ones; these ceremonies, at first simple and private, became public and solemn; the offerings became rich and more numerous, and the rites more methodical; they assigned certain places for the assemblies, and began to have chapels and temples; they instituted officers to administer them, and these became priests and pontiffs: they established liturgies, and sanctified certain days, and religion became a civil act, a political tie.

"But in this arrangement, religion did not change its first principles; the idea of God was always that of physical beings, operating good or evil, that is, impressing sensations of pleasure or pain: the dogma was the knowledge of their laws, or their manner of acting; virtue and sin, the observance or infraction of these laws; and morality, in its native simplicity, was the judicious practice of whatever contributes to the preservation of existence, the well-being of one's self and his fellow creatures.*

* We may add, says Plutarch, that these Egyptian priests
always regarded the preservation of health as a point of the
first importance, and as indispensably necessary to the
practice of piety and the service of the gods. See his
account of Isis and Osiris, towards the end.


"Should it be asked at what epoch this system took its birth, we shall answer on the testimony of the monuments of astronomy itself; that its principles appear with certainty to have been established about seventeen thousand years ago,* and if it be asked to what people it is to be attributed, we shall answer that the same monuments, supported by unanimous traditions, attribute it to the first tribes of Egypt; and when reason finds in that country all the circumstances which could lead to such a system; when it finds there a zone of sky, bordering on the tropic, equally free from the rains of the equator and the fogs of the North;** when it finds there a central point of the sphere of the ancients, a salubrious climate, a great, but manageable river, a soil fertile without art or labor, inundated without morbid exhalations, and placed between two seas which communicate with the richest countries, it conceives that the inhabitant of the Nile, addicted to agriculture from the nature of his soil, to geometry from the annual necessity of measuring his lands, to commerce from the facility of communications, to astronomy from the state of his sky, always open to observation, must have been the first to pass from the savage to the social state; and consequently to attain the physical and moral sciences necessary to civilized life.

* The historical orator follows here the opinion of M.
Dupuis, who, in his learned memoirs concerning the Origin of
the Constellations and Origin of all Worship, has assigned
many plausible reasons to prove that Libra was formerly the
sign of the vernal, and Aries of the autumnal equinox; that
is, that since the origin of the actual astronomical system,
the precession of the equinoxes has carried forward by seven
signs the primitive order of the zodiac. Now estimating the
precession at about seventy years and a half to a degree,
that is, 2,115 years to each sign; and observing that Aries
was in its fifteenth degree, 1,447 years before Christ, it
follows that the first degree of Libra could not have
coincided with the vernal equinox more lately than 15,194
years before Christ; now, if you add 1790 years since
Christ, it appears that 16,984 years have elapsed since the
origin of the Zodiac. The vernal equinox coincided with the
first degree of Aries, 2,504 years before Christ, and with
the first degree of Taurus 4,619 years before Christ. Now
it is to be observed, that the worship of the Bull is the
principal article in the theological creed of the Egyptians,
Persians, Japanese, etc.; from whence it clearly follows,
that some general revolution took place among these nations
at that time. The chronology of five or six thousand years
in Genesis is little agreeable to this hypothesis; but as
the book of Genesis cannot claim to be considered as a
history farther back than Abraham, we are at liberty to make
what arrangements we please in the eternity that preceded.
See on this subject the analysis of Genesis, in the first
volume of New Researches on Ancient History; see also Origin
of Constellatians, by Dupuis, 1781; the Origin of Worship,
in 3 vols. 1794, and the Chronological Zodiac, 1806.


** M. Balli, in placing the first astronomers at
Selingenakoy, near the Bailkal paid no attention to this
twofold circumstance: it equally argues against their being
placed at Axoum on account of the rains, and the Zimb fly of
which Mr. Bruce speaks.


"It was, then, on the borders of the upper Nile, among a black race of men, that was organized the complicated system of the worship of the stars, considered in relation to the productions of the earth and the labors of agriculture; and this first worship, characterized by their adoration under their own forms and natural attributes, was a simple proceeding of the human mind. But in a short time, the multiplicity of the objects of their relations, and their reciprocal influence, having complicated the ideas, and the signs that represented them, there followed a confusion as singular in its cause as pernicious in its effects."

III. Third system. Worship of Symbols, or Idolatry.

"As soon as this agricultural people began to observe the stars with attention, they found it necessary to individualize or group them; and to assign to each a proper name, in order to understand each other in their designation. A great difficulty must have presented itself in this business: First, the heavenly bodies, similar in form, offered no distinguishing characteristics by which to denominate them; and, secondly, the language in its infancy and poverty, had no expressions for so many new and metaphysical ideas. Necessity, the usual stimulus of genius, surmounted everything. Having remarked that in the annual revolution, the renewal and periodical appearance of terrestrial productions were constantly associated with the rising and setting of certain stars, and to their position as relative to the sun, the fundamental term of all comparison, the mind by a natural operation connected in thought these terrestrial and celestial objects, which were connected in fact; and applying to them a common sign, it gave to the stars, and their groups, the names of the terrestrial objects to which they answered.*

* "The ancients," says Maimonides, "directing all their
attention to agriculture, gave names to the stars derived
from their occupation during the year." More Neb. pars 3.


"Thus the Ethopian of Thebes named stars of inundation, or Aquarius, those stars under which the Nile began to overflow;* stars of the ox or the bull, those under which they began to plow; stars of the lion, those under which that animal, driven from the desert by thirst, appeared on the banks of the Nile; stars of the sheaf, or of the harvest virgin, those of the reaping season; stars of the lamb, stars of the two kids, those under which these precious animals were brought forth: and thus was resolved the first part of the difficulty.

* This must have been June.


"Moreover, man having remarked in the beings which surrounded him certain qualities distinctive and proper to each species, and having thence derived a name by which to designate them, he found in the same source an ingenious mode of generalizing his ideas; and transferring the name already invented to every thing which bore any resemblance or analogy, he enriched his language with a perpetual round of metaphors.

"Thus the same Ethiopian having observed that the return of the inundation always corresponded with the rising of a beautiful star which appeared towards the source of the Nile, and seemed to warn the husbandman against the coming waters, he compared this action to that of the animal who, by his barking, gives notice of danger, and he called this star the dog, the barker (Sirius). In the same manner he named the stars of the crab, those where the sun, having arrived at the tropic, retreated by a slow retrograde motion like the crab or cancer. He named stars of the wild goat, or Capricorn, those where the sun, having reached the highest point in his annuary tract, rests at the summit of the horary gnomon, and imitates the goat, who delights to climb the summit of the rocks. He named stars of the balance, or libra, those where the days and nights, being equal, seemed in equilibrium, like that instrument; and stars of the scorpion, those where certain periodical winds bring vapors, burning like the venom of the scorpion. In the same manner he called by the name of rings and serpents the figured traces of the orbits of the stars and the planets, and such was the general mode of naming all the stars and even the planets, taken by groups or as individuals, according to their relations with husbandry and terrestrial objects, and according to the analogies which each nation found between them and the objects of its particular soil and climate.*

* The ancients had verbs from the substantives crab, goat,
tortoise, as the French have at present the verbs serpenter,
coquetter. The history of all languages is nearly the same.


"From this it appeared that abject and terrestrial beings became associated with the superior and powerful inhabitants of heaven; and this association became stronger every day by the mechanism of language and the constitution of the human mind. Men would say by a natural metaphor: The bull spreads over the earth the germs of fecundity (in spring) he restores vegetation and plenty: the lamb (or ram) delivers the skies from the maleficent powers of winter; he saves the world from the serpent (emblem of the humid season) and restores the empire of goodness (summer, joyful season): the scorpion pours out his poison on the earth, and scatters diseases and death. The same of all similar effects.

"This language, understood by every one, was attended at first with no inconvenience; but in the course of time, when the calendar had been regulated, the people, who had no longer any need of observing the heavens, lost sight of the original meaning of these expressions; and the allegories remaining in common use became a fatal stumbling block to the understanding and to reason. Habituated to associate to the symbols the ideas of their archetypes, the mind at last confounded them: then the same animals, whom fancy had transported to the skies, returned again to the earth; but being thus returned, clothed in the livery of the stars, they claimed the stellary attributes, and imposed on their own authors. Then it was that the people, believing that they saw their gods among them, could pray to them with more convenience: they demanded from the ram of their flock the influences which might be expected from the heavenly ram; they prayed the scorpion not to pour out his venom upon nature; they revered the crab of the sea, the scarabeus of the mud, the fish of the river; and by a series of corrupt but inseparable analogies, they lost themselves in a labyrinth of well connected absurdities.

"Such was the origin of that ancient whimsical worship of the animals; such is the train of ideas by which the character of the divinity became common to the vilest of brutes, and by which was formed that theological system, extremely comprehensive, complicated, and learned, which, rising on the borders of the Nile, propagated from country to country by commerce, war, and conquest, overspread the whole of the ancient world; and which, modified by time, circumstances and prejudices, is still seen entire among a hundred nations, and remains as the essential and secret basis of the theology of those even who despise and reject it."

Some murmurs at these words being heard from various groups: "Yes!" continued the orator, "hence arose, for instance, among you, nations of Africa, the adoration of your fetiches, plants, animals, pebbles, pieces of wood, before which your ancestors would not have had the folly to bow, if they had not seen in them talismans endowed with the virtue of the stars.*

* The ancient astrologers, says the most learned of the Jews
(Maimonides), having sacredly assigned to each planet a
color, an animal, a tree, a metal, a fruit, a plant, formed
from them all a figure or representation of the star, taking
care to select for the purpose a proper moment, a fortunate
day, such as the conjunction of the star, or some other
favorable aspect. They conceived that by their magic
ceremonies they could introduce into those figures or idols
the influences of the superior beings after which they were
modeled. These were the idols that the Chaldean-Sabeans
adored; and in the performance of their worship they were
obliged to be dressed in the proper color. The astrologers,
by their practices, thus introduced idolatry, desirous of
being regarded as the dispensers of the favors of heaven;
and as agriculture was the sole employment of the ancients,
they succeeded in persuading them that the rain and other
blessings of the seasons were at their disposal. Thus the
whole art of agriculture was exercised by rules of
astrology, and the priests made talismans or charms which
were to drive away locusts, flies, etc. See Maimonides,
More Nebuchim, pars 3, c. 29.

The priests of Egypt, Persia, India, etc., pretended to bind
the Gods to their idols, and to make them come from heaven
at their pleasure. They threatened the sun and moon, if
they were disobedient, to reveal the secret mysteries, to
shake the skies, etc., etc. Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p. 198,
and Jamblicus de Mysteriis Aegypt.


"Here, ye nations of Tartary, is the origin of your marmosets, and of all that train of animals with which your chamans ornament their magical robes. This is the origin of those figures of birds and of snakes which savage nations imprint upon their skins with sacred and mysterious ceremonies.

"Ye inhabitants of India! in vain you cover yourselves with the veil of mystery: the hawk of your god Vichenou is but one of the thousand emblems of the sun in Egypt; and your incarnations of a god in the fish, the boar, the lion, the tortoise, and all his monstrous adventures, are only the metamorphoses of the sun, who, passing through the signs of the twelve animals (or the zodiac), was supposed to assume their figures, and perform their astronomical functions.*

* These are the very words of Jamblicus de Symbolis
Aegyptiorum, c. 2, sect. 7. The sun was the grand Proteus,
the universal metamorphist.


"People of Japan, your bull, which breaks the mundane egg, is only the bull of the zodiac, which in former times opened the seasons, the age of creation, the vernal equinox. It is the same bull Apis which Egypt adored, and which your ancestors, Jewish Rabbins, worshipped in the golden calf. This is still your bull, followers of Zoroaster, which, sacrificed in the symbolic mysteries of Mithra, poured out his blood which fertilized the earth. And ye Christians, your bull of the Apocalypse, with his wings, symbol of the air, has no other origin; and your lamb of God, sacrificed, like the bull of Mithra, for the salvation of the world, is only the same sun, in the sign of the celestial ram, which, in a later age, opening the equinox in his turn, was supposed to deliver the world from evil, that is to say, from the constellation of the serpent, from that great snake, the parent of winter, the emblem of the Ahrimanes, or Satan of the Persians, your school masters. Yes, in vain does your imprudent zeal consign idolaters to the torments of the Tartarus which they invented; the whole basis of your system is only the worship of the sun, with whose attributes you have decorated your principal personage. It is the sun which, under the name of Horus, was born, like your God, at the winter solstice, in the arms of the celestial virgin, and who passed a childhood of obscurity, indigence, and want, answering to the season of cold and frost. It is he that, under the name of Osiris, persecuted by Typhon and by the tyrants of the air, was put to death, shut up in a dark tomb, emblem of the hemisphere of winter, and afterwards, ascending from the inferior zone towards the zenith of heaven, arose again from the dead triumphant over the giants and the angels of destruction.

"Ye priests! who murmur at this relation, you wear his emblems all over your bodies; your tonsure is the disk of the sun; your stole is his zodiac;* your rosaries are symbols of the stars and planets. Ye pontiffs and prelates! your mitre, your crozier, your mantle are those of Osiris; and that cross whose mystery you extol without comprehending it, is the cross of Serapis, traced by the hands of Egyptian priests on the plan of the figurative world; which, passing through the equinoxes and the tropics, became the emblem of the future life and of the resurrection, because it touched the gates of ivory and of horn, through which the soul passed to heaven."

* "The Arabs," says Herodotus, "shave their heads in a
circle and about the temples, in imitation of Bacchus (that
is the sun), who shaves himself is this manner." Jeremiah
speaks also of this custom. The tuft of hair which the
Mahometans preserve, is taken also from the sun, who was
painted by the Egyptians at the winter solstice, as having
but a single hair upon his head. . . .

The robes of the goddess of Syria and of Diana of Ephesus,
from whence are borrowed the dress of the priests; have the
twelve animals of the zodiac painted on them. . . .

Rosaries are found upon all the Indian idols, constructed
more than four thousand years ago, and their use in the East
has been universal from time immemorial. . . .

The crozier is precisely the staff of Bootes or Osiris.
(See plate.)

All the Lamas wear the mitre or cap in the shape of a cone,
which was an emblem of the sun.


At these words, the doctors of all the groups began to look at each other with astonishment; but no one breaking silence, the orator proceeded:

"Three principal causes concur to produce this confusion of ideas: First, the figurative expressions under which an infant language was obliged to describe the relations of objects; expressions which, passing afterwards from a limited to a general sense, and from a physical to a moral one, caused, by their ambiguities and synonymes, a great number of mistakes.

"Thus, it being first said that the sun had surmounted, or finished, twelve animals, it was thought afterwards that he had killed them, fought them, conquered them; and of this was composed the historical life of Hercules.*

* See the memoir of Dupuis on the Origin of the
Constellations, before cited.


"It being said that he regulated the periods of rural labor, the seed time and the harvest, that he distributed the seasons and occupations, ran through the climates and ruled the earth, etc., he was taken for a legislative king, a conquering warrior; and they framed from this the history of Osiris, of Bacchus, and others of that description.

"Having said that a planet entered into a sign, they made of this conjunction a marriage, an adultery, an incest.* Having said that the planet was hid or buried, when it came back to light, and ascended to its exaltation, they said that it had died, risen again, was carried into heaven, etc.

* These are the very words of Plutarch in his account of
Isis and Osiris. The Hebrews say, in speaking of the
generations of the Patriarchs, et ingressus est in eam.
From this continual equivoke of ancient language, proceeds
every mistake.


"A second cause of confusion was the material figures themselves, by which men first painted thoughts; and which, under the name of hieroglyphics, or sacred characters, were the first invention of the mind. Thus, to give warning of the inundation, and of the necessity of guarding against it, they painted a boat, the ship Argo; to express the wind, they painted the wing of a bird; to designate the season, or the month, they painted the bird of passage, the insect, or the animal which made its appearance at that period; to describe the winter, they painted a hog or a serpent, which delight in humid places, and the combination of these figures carried the known sense of words and phrases.* But as this sense could not be fixed with precision, as the number of these figures and their combinations became excessive, and overburdened the memory, the immediate consequence was confusion and false interpretations. Genius afterwards having invented the more simple art of applying signs to sounds, of which the number is limited, and painting words, instead of thoughts, alphabetical writing thus threw into disuetude hieroglyphical painting; and its signification, falling daily into oblivion, gave rise to a multitude of illusions, ambiguities, and errors.

* The reader will doubtless see with pleasure some examples
of ancient hieroglyphics.

"The Egyptians (says Hor-appolo) represent eternity by the
figures of the sun and moon. They designate the world by
the blue serpent with yellow scales (stars, it is the
Chinese Dragon). If they were desirous of expressing the
year, they drew a picture of Isis, who is also in their
language called Sothis, or dog-star, one of the first
constellations, by the rising of which the year commences;
its inscription at Sais was, It is I that rise in the
constellation of the Dog.

"They also represent the year by a palm tree, and the month
by one of its branches, because it is the nature of this
tree to produce a branch every month. They farther
represent it by the fourth part of an acre of land." The
whole acre divided into four denotes the bissextile period
of four years. The abbreviation of this figure of a field
in four divisions, is manifestly the letter ha or het, the
seventh in the Samaritan alphabet; and in general all the
letters of the alphabet are merely astronomical
hieroglyphics; and it is for this reason that the mode of
writing is from right to left, like the march of the stars.
—"They denote a prophet by the image of a dog, because the
dog star (Anoubis) by its rising gives notice of the
inundation. Noubi, in Hebrew signifies prophet—They
represent inundation by a lion, because it takes place under
that sign: and hence, says Plutarch, the custom of placing
at the gates of temples figures of lions with water issuing
from their mouths.—They express the idea of God and destiny
by a star. They also represent God, says Porphyry, by a
black stone, because his nature is dark and obscure. All
white things express the celestial and luminous Gods: all
circular ones the world, the moon, the sun, the orbits; all
semicircular ones, as bows and crescents are descriptive of
the moon. Fire and the Gods of Olympus they represent by
pyramids and obelisks (the name of the sun, Baal, is found
in this latter word): the sun by a cone (the mitre of
Osiris): the earth, by a cylinder (which revolves): the
generative power of the air by the phalus, and that of the
earth by a triangle, emblem of the female organ. Euseb.
Proecep. Evang. p. 98.

"Clay, says Jamblicus de Symbolis, sect. 7, c. 2. denotes
matter, the generative and nutrimental power, every thing
which receives the warmth and fermentation of life."

"A man sitting upon the Lotos or Nenuphar, represents the
moving spirit (the sun) which, in like manner as that plant
lives in the water without any communication with clay,
exists equally distinct from matter, swimming in empty
space, resting on itself: it is round also in all its parts,
like the leaves, the flowers, and the fruit of the Lotos.
(Brama has the eyes of the Lotos, says Chasler Nesdirsen, to
denote his intelligence: his eye swims over every thing,
like the flower of the Lotos on the waters.) A man at the
helm of a ship, adds Jamblicus, is descriptive of the sun
which governs all. And Porphyry tells us that the sun is
also represented by a man in a ship resting upon an
amphibious crocodile (emblem of air and water).

"At Elephantine they worshipped the figure of a man in a
sitting posture, painted blue, having the head of a ram, and
the horns of a goat which encompassed a disk; all which
represented the sun and moon's conjunction at the sign of
the ram; the blue color denoting the power of the moon, at
the period of junction, to raise water into the clouds.
Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p. 116.

"The hawk is an emblem of the sun and of light, on account
of his rapid flight and his soaring into the highest regions
of the air where light abounds.

A fish is the emblem of aversion, and the Hippopotamus of
violence, because it is said to kill its father and to
ravish its mother. Hence, says Plutarch, the emblematical
inscription of the temple of Sais, where we see painted on
the vestibule, 1. A child, 2. An old man, 3. A hawk, 4. A
fish, 5. A hippopotamus: which signify, 1. Entrance, into
life, 2. Departure, 3. God, 4. Hates, 5. Injustice. See
Isis and Osiris.

"The Egyptians, adds he, represent the world by a Scarabeus,
because this insect pushes, in a direction contrary to that
in which it proceeds, a ball containing its eggs, just as
the heaven of the fixed stars causes the revolution of the
sun, (the yolk of an egg) in an opposite direction to its
own.

"They represent the world also by the number five, being
that of the elements, which, says Diodorus, are earth,
water, air, fire, and ether, or spiritus. The Indians have
the same number of elements, and according to Macrobius's
mystics, they are the supreme God, or primum mobile, the
intelligence, or mens, born of him, the soul of the world
which proceeds from him, the celestial spheres, and all
things terrestrial. Hence, adds Plutarch, the analogy
between the Greek pente, five, and pan all.

"The ass," says he again, "is the emblem of Typhon, because
like that animal he is of a reddish color. Now Typhon
signifies whatever is of a mirey or clayey nature; (and in
Hebrew I find the three words clay, red, and ass to be
formed from the same root hamr). Jamblicus has farther told
us that clay was the emblem of matter and he elsewhere adds,
that all evil and corruption proceeded from matter; which
compared with the phrase of Macrobius, all is perishable,
liable to change in the celestial sphere, gives us the
theory, first physical, then moral, of the system of good
and evil of the ancients."


"Finally, a third cause of confusion was the civil organization of ancient states. When the people began to apply themselves to agriculture, the formation of a rural calendar, requiring a continued series of astronomical observations, it became necessary to appoint certain individuals charged with the functions of watching the appearance and disappearance of certain stars, to foretell the return of the inundation, of certain winds, of the rainy season, the proper time to sow every kind of grain. These men, on account of their service, were exempt from common labor, and the society provided for their maintenance. With this provision, and wholly employed in their observations, they soon became acquainted with the great phenomena of nature, and even learned to penetrate the secret of many of her operations. They discovered the movement of the stars and planets, the coincidence of their phases and returns with the productions of the earth and the action of vegetation; the medicinal and nutritive properties of plants and fruits; the action of the elements, and their reciprocal affinities. Now, as there was no other method of communicating the knowledge of these discoveries but the laborious one of oral instruction, they transmitted it only to their relations and friends, it followed therefore that all science and instruction were confined to a few families, who, arrogating it to themselves as an exclusive privilege, assumed a professional distinction, a corporation spirit, fatal to the public welfare. This continued succession of the same researches and the same labors, hastened, it is true, the progress of knowledge; but by the mystery which accompanied it, the people were daily plunged in deeper shades, and became more superstitious and more enslaved. Seeing their fellow mortals produce certain phenomena, announce, as at pleasure, eclipses and comets, heal diseases, and handle venomous serpents, they thought them in alliance with celestial powers; and, to obtain the blessings and avert the evils which they expected from above, they took them for mediators and interpreters; and thus became established in the bosom of every state sacrilegious corporations of hypocritical and deceitful men, who centered all powers in themselves; and the priests, being at once astronomers, theologians, naturalists, physicians, magicians, interpreters of the gods, oracles of men, and rivals of kings, or their accomplices, established, under the name of religion, an empire of mystery and a monopoly of instruction, which to this day have ruined every nation. . . ."

Here the priests of all the groups interrupted the orator, and with loud cries accused him of impiety, irreligion, blasphemy; and endeavored to cut short his discourse; but the legislator observing that this was only an exposition of historical facts, which, if false or forged, would be easily refuted; that hitherto the declaration of every opinion had been free, and without this it would be impossible to discover the truth, the orator proceeded:

"Now, from all these causes, and from the continual associations of ill-assorted ideas, arose a mass of disorders in theology, in morals, and in traditions; first, because the animals represented the stars, the characters of the animals, their appetites, their sympathies, their aversions, passed over to the gods, and were supposed to be their actions; thus, the god Ichneumon made war against the god Crocodile; the god Wolf liked to eat the god Sheep; the god Ibis devoured the god Serpent; and the deity became a strange, capricious, and ferocious being, whose idea deranged the judgment of man, and corrupted his morals and his reason.

"Again, because in the spirit of their worship every family, every nation, took for its special patron a star or a constellation, the affections or antipathies of the symbolic animal were transferred to its sectaries; and the partisans of the god Dog were enemies to those of the god Wolf;* those who adored the god Ox had an abhorrence to those who ate him; and religion became the source of hatred and hostility,—the senseless cause of frenzy and superstition.

* These are properly the words of Plutarch, who relates that
those various worships were given by a king of Egypt to the
different towns to disunite and enslave them, and these
kings had been taken from the cast of priests. See Isis and
Osiris.


"Besides, the names of those animal-stars having, for this same reason of patronage, been conferred on countries, nations, mountains, and rivers, these objects were taken for gods, and hence followed a mixture of geographical, historical, and mythological beings, which confounded all traditions.

"Finally, by the analogy of actions which were ascribed to them, the god-stars, having been taken for men, for heroes, for kings, kings and heroes took in their turn the actions of gods for models, and by imitation became warriors, conquerors, proud, lascivious, indolent, sanguinary; and religion consecrated the crimes of despots, and perverted the principles of government."
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

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Part 2 of 3

IV. Fourth system. Worship of two Principles, or Dualism.

"In the mean time, the astronomical priests, enjoying peace and abundance in their temples, made every day new progress in the sciences, and the system of the world unfolding gradually to their view, they raised successively various hypotheses as to its agents and effects, which became so many theological systems.

"The voyages of the maritime nations and the caravans of the nomads of Asia and Africa, having given them a knowledge of the earth from the Fortunate Islands to Serica, and from the Baltic to the sources of the Nile, the comparison of the phenomena of the various zones taught them the rotundity of the earth, and gave birth to a new theory. Having remarked that all the operations of nature during the annual period were reducible to two principal ones, that of producing and that of destroying; that on the greater part of the globe these two operations were performed in the intervals of the two equinoxes; that is to say, during the six months of summer every thing was procreating and multiplying, and that during winter everything languished and almost died; they supposed in Nature two contrary powers, which were in a continual state of contention and exertion; and considering the celestial sphere in this view, they divided the images which they figured upon it into two halves or hemispheres; so that the constellations which were on the summer heaven formed a direct and superior empire; and those which were on the winter heaven composed an antipode and inferior empire. Therefore, as the constellations of summer accompanied the season of long, warm, and unclouded days, and that of fruits and harvests, they were considered as the powers of light, fecundity, and creation; and, by a transition from a physical to a moral sense, they became genii, angels of science, of beneficence, of purity and virtue. And as the constellations of winter were connected with long nights and polar fogs, they were the genii of darkness, of destruction, of death; and by transition, angels of ignorance, of wickedness, of sin and vice. By this arrangement the heaven was divided into two domains, two factions; and the analogy of human ideas already opened a vast field to the errors of imagination; but the mistake and the illusion were determined, if not occasioned by a particular circumstance. (Observe plate Astrological Heaven of the Ancients.)

"In the projection of the celestial sphere, as traced by the astronomical priests,* the zodiac and the constellations, disposed in circular order, presented their halves in diametrical opposition; the hemisphere of winter, antipode of that of summer, was adverse, contrary, opposed to it. By a continual metaphor, these words acquired a moral sense; and the adverse genii, or angels, became revolted enemies.** From that moment all the astronomical history of the constellations was changed into a political history; the heavens became a human state, where things happened as on the earth. Now, as the earthly states, the greater part despotic, had already their monarchs, and as the sun was apparently the monarch of the skies, the summer hemisphere (empire of light) and its constellations (a nation of white angels) had for king an enlightened God, a creator intelligent and good. And as every rebel faction must have its chief, the heaven of winter, the subterranean empire of darkness and woe, and its stars, a nation of black angels, giants and demons, had for their chief a malignant genius, whose character was applied by different people to the constellation which to them was the most remarkable. In Egypt it was at first the Scorpion, first zodiacal sign after Libra, and for a long time chief of the winter signs ; then it was the Bear, or the polar Ass, called Typhon, that is to say, deluge,** on account of the rains which deluge the earth during the dominion of that star. At a later period,*** in Persia,**** it was the Serpent, who, under the name of Abrimanes, formed the basis of the system of Zoroaster; and it is the same, O Christians and Jews! that has become your serpent of Eve (the celestial virgin,) and that of the cross; in both cases it is the emblem of Satan, the enemy and great adversary of the Ancient of Days, sung by Daniel.

* The ancient priests had three kinds of spheres, which it
may be useful to make known to the reader.

"We read in Eusebius," says Porphyry, "that Zoroaster was
the first who, having fixed upon a cavern pleasantly
situated in the mountains adjacent to Persia, formed the
idea of consecrating it to Mithra (the sun) creator and
father of all things: that is to say, having made in this
cavern several geometrical divisions, representing the
seasons and the elements, he imitated on a small scale the
order and disposition of the universe by Mithra. After
Zoroaster, it became a custom to consecrate caverns for the
celebration of mysteries: so that in like manner as temples
were dedicated to the Gods, rural altars to heroes and
terrestrial deities, etc., subterranean abodes to infernal
deities, so caverns and grottoes were consecrated to the
world, to the universe, and to the nymphs: and from hence
Pythagoras and Plato borrowed the idea of calling the earth
a cavern, a cave, de Antro Nympharum.

Such was the first projection of the sphere in relief;
though the Persians give the honor of the invention to
Zoroaster, it is doubtless due to the Egyptians; for we may
suppose from this projection being the most simple that it
was the most ancient; the caverns of Thebes, full of similar
pictures, tend to strengthen this opinion.

The following was the second projection: "The prophets or
hierophants," says Bishop Synnesius, "who had been initiated
in the mysteries, do not permit the common workmen to form
idols or images of the Gods; but they descend themselves
into the sacred caves, where they have concealed coffers
containing certain spheres upon which they construct those
images secretly and without the knowledge of the people, who
despise simple and natural things and wish for prodigies and
fables." (Syn. in Calvit.) That is, the ancient priests
had armillary spheres like ours; and this passage, which so
well agrees with that of Chaeremon, gives us the key to all
their theological astrology.

Lastly, they had flat models of the nature of Plate V. with
the difference that they were of a very complicated nature,
having every fictitious division of decan and subdecan, with
the hieroglyphic signs of their influence. Kircher has
given us a copy of one of them in his Egyptian Oedipus, and
Gybelin a figured fragment in his book of the calendar
(under the name of the Egyptian Zodiac). The ancient
Egyptians, says the astrologer Julius Firmicus, (Astron.
lib. ii. and lib. iv., c. 16), divide each sign of the
Zodiac into three sections; and each section was under the
direction of an imaginary being whom they called decan or
chief of ten; so that there were three decans a month, and
thirty-six a year. Now these decans, who were also called
Gods (Theoi), regulated the destinies of mankind—and they
were placed particularly in certain stars. They afterwards
imagined in every ten three other Gods, whom they called
arbiters; so that there were nine for every month, and these
were farther divided into an infinite number of powers. The
Persians and Indians made their spheres on similar plans;
and if a picture thereof were to be drawn from the
description given by Scaliger at the end of Manilius, we
should find in it a complete explanation of their
hieroglyphics, for every article forms one.


** If it was for this reason the Persians always wrote the
name of Ahrimanes inverted thus: ['Ahrimanes' upside down
and backwards].


*** Typhon, pronounced Touphon by the Greeks, is precisely
the touphan of the Arabs, which signifies deluge; and these
deluges in mythology are nothing more than winter and the
rains, or the overflowing of the Nile: as their pretended
fires which are to destroy the world, are simply the summer
season. And it is for this reason that Aristotle (De
Meteor, lib. I. c. xiv), says, that the winter of the great
cyclic year is a deluge; and its summer a conflagration.
"The Egyptians," says Porphyry, "employ every year a
talisman in remembrance of the world: at the summer solstice
they mark their houses, flocks and trees with red, supposing
that on that day the whole world had been set on fire. It
was also at the same period that they celebrated the pyrric
or fire dance." And this illustrates the origin of
purification by fire and by water; for having denominated
the tropic of Cancer the gate of heaven, and the genial heat
of celestial fire, and that of Capricorn the gate of deluge
or of water, it was imagined that the spirit or souls who
passed through these gates in their way to and from heaven,
were roasted or bathed: hence the baptism of Mithra; and the
passage through flames, observed throughout the East long
before Moses.


**** That is when the ram became the equinoctial sign, or
rather when the alteration of the skies showed that it was
no longer the bull.


"In Syria, it was the hog or wild boar, enemy of Adonis; because in that country the functions of the Northern Bear were performed by the animal whose inclination for mire and dirt was emblematic of winter. And this is the reason, followers of Moses and Mahomet! that you hold him in horror, in imitation of the priests of Memphis and Balbec, who detested him as the murderer of their God, the sun. This likewise, O Indians! is the type of your Chib-en; and it has been likewise the Pluto of your brethren, the Romans and Greeks; in like manner, your Brama, God the creator, is only the Persian Ormuzd, and the Egyptian Osiris, whose very name expresses creative power, producer of forms. And these gods received a worship analogous to their attributes, real or imaginary; which worship was divided into two branches, according to their characters. The good god receives a worship of love and joy, from which are derived all religious acts of gaiety, such as festivals, dances, banquets, offerings of flowers, milk, honey, perfumes; in a word, everything grateful to the senses and to the soul.* The evil god, on the contrary, received a worship of fear and pain; whence originated all religious acts of the gloomy sort,** tears, desolations, mournings, self-denials, bloody offerings, and cruel sacrifices.

* All the ancient festivals respecting the return and
exaltation of the sun were of this description: hence the
hilaria of the Roman calendar at the period of the passage,
Pascha, of the vernal equinox. The dances were imitations
of the march of the planets. Those of the Dervises still
represent it to this day.


** "Sacrifices of blood," says Porphyry, "were only offered
to Demons and evil Genii to avert their wrath. Demons are
fond of blood, humidity, stench." Apud. Euseb. Proep. Ev.,
p. 173.

"The Egyptians," says Plutarch, "only offer bloody victims
to Typhon. They sacrifice to him a red ox, and the animal
immolated is held in execration and loaded with all the sins
of the people." The goat of Moses. See Isis and Osiris.

Strabo says, speaking of Moses, and the Jews, "Circumcision
and the prohibition of certain kinds of meat sprung from
superstition." And I observe, respecting the ceremony of
circumcision, that its object was to take from the symbol of
Osiris, (Phallus) the pretended obstacle to fecundity: an
obstacle which bore the seal of Typhon, "whose nature," says
Plutarch, "is made up of all that hinders, opposes, causes
obstruction."


"Hence arose that distinction of terrestrial beings into pure and impure, sacred and abominable, according as their species were of the number of the constellations of one of these two gods, and made part of his domain; and this produced, on the one hand, the superstitions concerning pollutions and purifications; and, on the other, the pretended efficacious virtues of amulets and talismans.

"You conceive now," continued the orator, addressing himself to the Persians, the Indians, the Jews, the Christians, the Mussulmans, "you conceive the origin of those ideas of battles and rebellions, which equally abound in all your mythologies. You see what is meant by white and black angels, your cherubim and seraphim, with heads of eagles, of lions, or of bulls; your deus, devils, demons, with horns of goats and tails of serpents; your thrones and dominions, ranged in seven orders or gradations, like the seven spheres of the planets; all beings acting the same parts, and endowed with the same attributes in your Vedas, Bibles, and Zend-avestas, whether they have for chiefs Ormuzd or Brama, Typhon or Chiven, Michael or Satan;—whether they appear under the form of giants with a hundred arms and feet of serpents, or that of gods metamorphosed into lions, storks, bulls or cats, as they are in the sacred fables of the Greeks and Egyptians. You perceive the successive filiation of these ideas, and how, in proportion to their remoteness from their source, and as the minds of men became refined, their gross forms have been polished, and rendered less disgusting.

"But in the same manner as you have seen the system of two opposite principles or gods arise from that of symbols, interwoven into its texture, your attention shall now be called to a new system which has grown out of this, and to which this has served in its turn as the basis and support.

V. Moral and Mystical Worship, or System of a Future State.

"Indeed, when the vulgar heard speak of a new heaven and another world, they soon gave a body to these fictions; they erected therein a real theatre of action, and their notions of astronomy and geography served to strengthen, if not to originate, this illusion.

"On the one hand, the Phoenician navigators who passed the pillars of Hercules, to fetch the tin of Thule and the amber of the Baltic, related that at the extremity of the world, the end of the ocean (the Mediterranean), where the sun sets for the countries of Asia, were the Fortunate Islands, the abode of eternal spring; and beyond were the hyperborean regions, placed under the earth (relatively to the tropics) where reigned an eternal night.* From these stories, misunderstood, and no doubt confusedly related, the imagination of the people composed the Elysian fields,** regions of delight, placed in a world below, having their heaven, their sun, and their stars; and Tartarus, a place of darkness, humidity, mire, and frost. Now, as man, inquisitive of that which he knows not, and desirous of protracting his existence, had already interrogated himself concerning what was to become of him after his death, as he had early reasoned on the principle of life which animates his body, and which leaves it without deforming it, and as he had imagined airy substances, phantoms, and shades, he fondly believed that he should continue, in the subterranean world, that life which it was too painful for him to lose; and these lower regions seemed commodious for the reception of the beloved objects which he could not willingly resign.

* Nights of six months duration.


** Aliz, in the Phoenician or Hebrew language signifies
dancing and joyous.


"On the other hand, the astrological and geological priests told such stories and made such descriptions of their heavens, as accorded perfectly well with these fictions. Having, in their metaphorical language, called the equinoxes and solstices the gates of heaven, the entrance of the seasons, they explained these terrestrial phenomena by saying, that through the gate of horn (first the bull, afterwards the ram) and through the gate of Cancer, descended the vivifying fires which give life to vegetation in the spring, and the aqueous spirits which bring, at the solstice, the inundation of the Nile; that through the gate of ivory (Libra, formerly Sagittarius, or the bowman) and that of Capricorn, or the urn, the emanations or influences of the heavens returned to their source, and reascended to their origin; and the Milky Way, which passed through the gates of the solstices, seemed to be placed there to serve them as a road or vehicle.* Besides, in their atlas, the celestial scene presented a river (the Nile, designated by the windings of the hydra), a boat, (the ship Argo) and the dog Sirius, both relative to this river, whose inundation they foretold. These circumstances, added to the preceding, and still further explaining them, increased their probability, and to arrive at Tartarus or Elysium, souls were obliged to cross the rivers Styx and Acheron in the boat of the ferryman Charon, and to pass through the gates of horn or ivory, guarded by the dog Cerberus. Finally, these inventions were applied to a civil use, and thence received a further consistency.

*See Macrob. Som. Scrip. c. 12.


"Having remarked that in their burning climate the putrefaction of dead bodies was a cause of pestilential diseases, the Egyptians, in many of their towns, had adopted the practice of burying their dead beyond the limits of the inhabited country, in the desert of the West. To go there, it was necessary to pass the channels of the river, and consequently to be received into a boat, and pay something to the ferryman, without which the body, deprived of sepulture, must have been the prey of wild beasts. This custom suggested to the civil and religious legislators the means of a powerful influence on manners; and, addressing uncultivated and ferocious men with the motives of filial piety and a reverence for the dead, they established, as a necessary condition, their undergoing a previous trial, which should decide whether the deceased merited to be admitted to the rank of the family in the black city. Such an idea accorded too well with all the others, not to be incorporated with them: the people soon adopted it; and hell had its Minos and its Rhadamanthus, with the wand, the bench, the ushers, and the urn, as in the earthly and civil state. It was then that God became a moral and political being, a lawgiver to men, and so much the more to be dreaded, as this supreme legislator, this final judge, was inaccessible and invisible. Then it was that this fabulous and mythological world, composed of such odd materials and disjointed parts, became a place of punishments and of rewards, where divine justice was supposed to correct what was vicious and erroneous in the judgment of men. This spiritual and mystical system acquired the more credit, as it took possession of man by all his natural inclinations. The oppressed found in it the hope of indemnity, and the consolation of future vengeance; the oppressor, expecting by rich offerings to purchase his impunity, formed out of the errors of the vulgar an additional weapon of oppression; the chiefs of nations, the kings and priests, found in this a new instrument of domination by the privilege which they reserved to themselves of distributing the favors and punishments of the great judge, according to the merit or demerit of actions, which they took care to characterize as best suited their system.

"This, then, is the manner in which an invisible and imaginary world has been introduced into the real and visible one; this is the origin of those regions of pleasure and pain, of which you Persians have made your regenerated earth, your city of resurrection, placed under the equator, with this singular attribute, that in it the blessed cast no shade.* Of these materials, Jews and Christians, disciples of the Persians, have you formed your New Jerusalem of the Apocalypse, your paradise, your heaven, copied in all its parts from the astrological heaven of Hermes: and your hell, ye Mussulmans, your bottomless pit, surmounted by a bridge, your balance for weighing souls and good works, your last judgment by the angels Monkir and Nekir, are likewise modeled from the mysterious ceremonies of the cave of Mithras** and your heaven differs not in the least from that of Osiris, of Ormuzd, and of Brama.

* There is on this subject a passage in Plutarch, so
interesting and explanatory of the whole of this system,
that we shall cite it entire. Having observed that the
theory of good and evil had at all times occupied the
attention of philosophers and theologians, he adds: "Many
suppose there to be two gods of opposite inclinations, one
delighting in good, the other in evil; the first of these is
called particularly by the name of God, the second by that
of Genius or Demon. Zoroaster has denominated them Oromaze
and Ahrimanes, and has said that of whatever falls under the
cognizance of our senses, light is the best representation
of the one, and darkness and ignorance of the other. He
adds, that Mithra is an intermediate being, and it is for
this reason the Persians call Mithra the mediator or
intermediator. Each of these Gods has distinct plants and
animals consecrated to him: for example, dogs, birds and
hedge-hogs belong to the good Genius, and all aquatic
animals to the evil one.

"The Persians also say, that Oromaze was born or formed out
of the purest light; Ahrimanes, on the contrary, out of the
thickest darkness: that Oromaze made six gods as good as
himself, and Ahrimanes opposed to them six wicked ones: that
Oromaze afterwards multiplied himself threefold (Hermes
trismegistus) and removed to a distance as remote from the
sun as the sun is remote from the earth that he there formed
stars, and, among others, Sirius, which he placed in the
heavens as a guard and sentinel. He made also twenty-four
other Gods, which he inclosed in an egg; but Ahrimanes
created an equal number on his part, who broke the egg, and
from that moment good and evil were mixed (in the universe).
But Ahrimanes is one day to be conquered, and the earth to
be made equal and smooth, that all men may live happy.

"Theopompus adds, from the books of the Magi, that one of
these Gods reigns in turn every three thousand years during
which the other is kept in subjection; that they afterwards
contend with equal weapons during a similar portion of time,
but that in the end the evil Genius will fall (never to rise
again). Then men will become happy, and their bodies cast
no shade. The God who mediates all these things reclines at
present in repose, waiting till he shall be pleased to
execute them." See Isis and Osiris.

There is an apparent allegory through the whole of this
passage. The egg is the fixed sphere, the world: the six
Gods of Oromaze are the six signs of summer, those of
Ahrimanes the six signs of winter. The forty-eight other
Gods are the forty-eight constellations of the ancient
sphere, divided equally between Ahrimanes and Oronmze. The
office of Sirius, as guard and sentinel, tells us that the
origin of these ideas was Egyptian: finally, the expression
that the earth is to become equal and smooth, and that the
bodies of happy beings are to cast no shade, proves that the
equator was considered as their true paradise.


** In the caves which priests every where constructed, they
celebrated mysteries which consisted (says Origen against
Celsus) in imitating the motion of the stars, the planets
and the heavens. The initiated took the name of
constellations, and assumed the figures of animals. One was
a lion, another a raven, and a third a ram. Hence the use
of masks in the first representation of the drama. See Ant.
Devoile, vol. iii., p. 244. "In the mysteries of Ceres the
chief in the procession called himself the creator; the
bearer of the torch was denominated the sun; the person
nearest to the altar, the moon; the herald or deacon,
Mercury. In Egypt there was a festival in which the men and
women represented the year, the age, the seasons, the
different parts of the day, and they walked in precession
after Bacchus. Athen. lib. v., ch. 7. In the cave of
Mithra was a ladder with seven steps, representing the seven
spheres of the planets, by means of which souls ascended and
descended. This is precisely the ladder in Jacob's vision,
which shows that at that epoch a the whole system was
formed. There is in the French king's library a superb
volume of pictures of the Indian Gods, in which the ladder
is represented with the souls of men mounting it."


VI. Sixth System. The Animated World, or Worship of the Universe under diverse Emblems.

"While the nations were wandering in the dark labyrinth of mythology and fables, the physical priests, pursuing their studies and enquiries into the order and disposition of the universe, came to new conclusions, and formed new systems concerning powers and first causes.

"Long confined to simple appearances, they saw nothing in the movement of the stars but an unknown play of luminous bodies rolling round the earth, which they believed the central point of all the spheres; but as soon as they discovered the rotundity of our planet, the consequences of this first fact led them to new considerations; and from induction to induction they rose to the highest conceptions in astronomy and physics.

"Indeed, after having conceived this luminous idea, that the terrestrial globe is a little circle inscribed in the greater circle of the heavens, the theory of concentric circles came naturally into their hypothesis, to determine the unknown circle of the terrestrial globe by certain known portions of the celestial circle; and the measurement of one or more degrees of the meridian gave with precision the whole circumference. Then, taking for a compass the known diameter of the earth, some fortunate genius applied it with a bold hand to the boundless orbits of the heavens; and man, the inhabitant of a grain of sand, embracing the infinite distances of the stars, launches into the immensity of space and the eternity of time: there he is presented with a new order of the universe of which the atom-globe which he inhabited appeared no longer to be the centre; this important post was reserved to the enormous mass of the sun; and that body became the flaming pivot of eight surrounding spheres, whose movements were henceforth subjected to precise calculations.

"It was indeed a great effort for the human mind to have undertaken to determine the disposition and order of the great engines of nature; but not content with this first effort, it still endeavored to develop the mechanism, and discover the origin and the instinctive principle. Hence, engaged in the abstract and metaphysical nature of motion and its first cause, of the inherent or incidental properties of matter, its successive forms and its extension, that is to say, of time and space unbounded, the physical theologians lost themselves in a chaos of subtile reasoning and scholastic controversy.*

* Consult the Ancient Astronomy of M. Bailly, and you will
find our assertions respecting the knowledge of the priests
amply proved.


"In the first place, the action of the sun on terrestrial bodies, teaching them to regard his substance as a pure and elementary fire, they made it the focus and reservoir of an ocean of igneous and luminous fluid, which, under the name of ether, filled the universe and nourished all beings. Afterwards, having discovered, by a physical and attentive analysis, this same fire, or another perfectly resembling it, in the composition of all bodies, and having perceived it to be the essential agent of that spontaneous movement which is called life in animals and vegetation in plants, they conceived the mechanism and harmony of the universe, as of a homogeneous whole, of one identical body, whose parts, though distant, had nevertheless an intimate relation;* and the world was a living being, animated by the organic circulation of an igneous and even electrical fluid,** which, by a term of comparison borrowed first from men and animals, had the sun for a heart and a focus.***

* These are the very words of Jamblicus. De Myst. Egypt.


** The more I consider what the ancients understood by ether
and spirit, and what the Indians call akache, the stronger
do I find the analogy between it and the electrial fluid. A
luminous fluid, principle of warmth and motion, pervading
the universe, forming the matter of the stars, having small
round particles, which insinuate themselves into bodies, and
fill them by dilating itself, be their extent what it will.
What can more strongly resemble electricity?


*** Natural philosophers, says Macrobius, call the sun the
heart of the world. Som. Scrip. c. 20. The Egyptians, says
Plutarch, call the East the face, the North the right side,
and the South the left side of the world, because there the
heart is placed. They continually compare the universe to a
man; and hence the celebrated microcosm of the Alchymists.
We observe, by the bye, that the Alchymists, Cabalists,
Free-masons, Magnetisers, Martinists, and every other such
sort of visionaries, are but the mistaken disciples of this
ancient school: we say mistaken, because, in spite of their
pretensions, the thread of the occult science is broken.


"From this time the physical theologians seem to have divided into several classes; one class, grounding itself on these principles resulting from observation; that nothing can be annihilated in the world; that the elements are indestructible; that they change their combinations but not their nature; that the life and death of beings are but the different modifications of the same atoms; that matter itself possesses properties which give rise to all its modes of existence; that the world is eternal,* or unlimited in space and duration; said that the whole universe was God; and, according to them, God was a being, effect and cause, agent and patient, moving principle and thing moved, having for laws the invariable properties that constitute fatality; and this class conveyed their idea by the emblem of Pan (the great whole); or of Jupiter, with a forehead of stars, body of planets, and feet of animals; or of the Orphic Egg,** whose yolk, suspended in the center of a liquid, surrounded by a vault, represented the globe of the sun, swimming in ether in the midst of the vault of heaven;*** sometimes by a great round serpent, representing the heavens where they placed the moving principle, and for that reason of an azure color, studded with spots of gold, (the stars) devouring his tail—that is, folding and unfolding himself eternally, like the revolutions of the spheres; sometimes by that of a man, having his feet joined together and tied, to signify immutable existence, wrapped in a cloak of all colors, like the face of nature, and bearing on his head a sphere of gold,**** emblem of the sphere of the stars; or by that of another man, sometimes seated on the flower of the lotos borne on the abyss of waters, sometimes lying on a pile of twelve cushions, denoting the twelve celestial signs. And here, Indians, Japanese, Siamese, Tibetans, and Chinese, is the theology, which, founded by the Egyptians and transmitted to you, is preserved in the pictures which you compose of Brama, of Beddou, of Somona-Kodom of Omito. This, ye Jews and Christians, is likewise the opinion of which you have preserved a part in your God moving on the face of the waters, by an allusion to the wind*5 which, at the beginning of the world, that is, the departure of the sun from the sign of Cancer, announced the inundation of the Nile, and seemed to prepare the creation."

* See the Pythagorean, Ocellus Lacunus.


** Vide Oedip. Aegypt. Tome II., page 205.


*** This comparison of the sun with the yolk of an egg
refers: 1. To its round and yellow figure; 2. To its central
situation; 3. To the germ or principle of life contained in
the yolk. May not the oval form of the egg allude to the
elipsis of the orbs? I am inclined to this opinion. The
word Orphic offers a farther observation. Macrobius says
(Som. Scrip. c. 14. and c. 20), that the sun is the brain of
the universe, and that it is from analogy that the skull of
a human being is round, like the planet, the seat of
intelligence. Now the word Oerph signifies in Hebrew the
brain and its seat (cervix): Orpheus, then, is the same as
Bedou or Baits; and the Bonzes are those very Orphics which
Plutarch represents as quacks, who ate no meat, vended
talismans and little stones, and deceived individuals, and
even governments themselves. See a learned memoir of Freret
sur les Orphiques, Acad. des Inscrp. vol. 25, in quarto.


**** See Porphyry in Eusebus. Proep. Evang., lib. 3, p. 115.


*5 The Northern or Etesian wind, which commences regularly
at the solstice, with the inundation.


VII. Seventh System. Worship of the SOUL of the WORLD, that is to say, the Element of Fire, vital Principle of the Universe.

"But others, disgusted at the idea of a being at once effect and cause, agent and patient, and uniting contrary natures in the same nature, distinguished the moving principle from the thing moved; and premising that matter in itself was inert they pretended that its properties were communicated to it by a distinct agent, of which itself was only the cover or the case. This agent was called by some the igneous principle, known to be the author of all motion; by others it was supposed to be the fluid called ether, which was thought more active and subtile; and, as in animals the vital and moving principle was called a soul, a spirit, and as they reasoned constantly by comparisons, especially those drawn from human beings, they gave to the moving principle of the universe the name of soul, intelligence, spirit; and God was the vital spirit, which extended through all beings and animated the vast body of the world. And this class conveyed their idea sometimes by Youpiter,* essence of motion and animation, principle of existence, or rather existence itself; sometimes by Vulcan or Phtha, elementary principle of fire; or by the altar of Vesta, placed in the center of her temple like the sun in the heavens; sometimes by Kneph, a human figure, dressed in dark blue, having in one hand a sceptre and a girdle (the zodiac), with a cap of feathers to express the fugacity of thought, and producing from his mouth the great egg.

* This is the true pronunciation of the Jupiter of the
Latins. . . . Existence itself. This is the signification
of the word You.


"Now, as a consequence of this system, every being containing in itself a portion of the igneous and etherial fluid, common and universal mover, and this fluid soul of the world being God, it followed that the souls of all beings were portions of God himself partaking of all his attributes, that is, being a substance indivisible, simple, and immortal; and hence the whole system of the immortality of the soul, which at first was eternity.*

* In the system of the first spiritualists, the soul was not
created with, or at the same time as the body, in order to
be inserted in it: its existence was supposed to be anterior
and from all eternity. Such, in a few words, is the
doctrine of Macrobius on this head. Som. Seip. passim.

"There exists a luminous, igneous, subtile fluid, which
under the name of ether and spiritus, fills the universe.
It is the essential principle and agent of motion and life,
it is the Deity. When an earthly body is to be animated, a
small round particle of this fluid gravitates through the
milky way towards the lunar sphere; where, when it arrives,
it unites with a grosser air, and becomes fit to associate
with matter: it then enters and entirely fills the body,
animates it, suffers, grows, increases, and diminishes with
it; lastly, when the body dies, and its gross elements
dissolve, this incorruptible particle takes its leave of it,
and returns to the grand ocean of ether, if not retained by
its union with the lunar air: it is this air or gas, which,
retaining the shape of the body, becomes a phantom or ghost,
the perfect representation of the deceased. The Greeks
called this phantom the image or idol of the soul; the
Pythagoreans, its chariot, its frame; and the Rabbinical
school, its vessel, or boat. When a man had conducted
himself well in this world, his whole soul, that is its
chariot and ether, ascended to the moon, where a separation
took place: the chariot lived in the lunar Elysium, and the
ether returned to the fixed sphere, that is, to God: for the
fixed heaven, says Macrobius, was by many called by the name
of God (c. 14). If a man had not lived virtuously, the soul
remained on earth to undergo purification, and was to wander
to and fro, like the ghosts of Homer, to whom this doctrine
must have been known, since he wrote after the time of
Pherecydes and Pythagoras, who were its promulgators in
Greece. Herodotus upon this occasion says, that the whole
romance of the soul and its transmigrations was invented by
the Egyptians, and propagated in Greece by men, who
pretended to be its authors. I know their names, adds he,
but shall not mention them (lib. 2). Cicero, however, has
positively informed us, that it was Pherecydes, master of
Pythagoras. Tuscul. lib. 1, sect. 16. Now admitting that
this system was at that period a novelty, it accounts for
Solomon's treating it as a fable, who lived 130 years before
Pherecydes. 'Who knoweth,' said he, 'the spirit of a man
that it goeth upwards? I said in my heart concerning the
estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them and
that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For
that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts; even
one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the
other; yea they have all one breath, so that a man hath no
pre-eminence above a beast: for all is vanity.'" Eccles. c.
iii: v. 18.

And such had been the opinion of Moses, as a translator of
Herodotus (M. Archer of the Academy of Inscriptions) justly
observes in note 389 of the second book; where he says also
that the immortality of the soul was not introduced among
the Hebrews till their intercourse with the Assyrians. In
other respects, the whole Pythagorean system, properly
analysed, appears to be merely a system of physics badly
understood.


"Hence, also its transmigrations, known by the name of metempsychosis, that is, the passage of the vital principle from one body to another; an idea which arose from the real transmigration of the material elements. And behold, ye Indians, ye Boudhists, ye Christians, ye Mussulmans! whence are derived all your opinions on the spirituality of the soul; behold what was the source of the dreams of Pythagoras and Plato, your masters, who were themselves but the echoes of another, the last sect of visionary philosophers, which we will proceed to examine.

VIII. Eighth system. The WORLD-MACHINE: Worship of the Demi-Ourgos, or Grand Artificer.

"Hitherto the theologians, employing themselves in examining the fine and subtile substances of ether or the generating fire, had not, however, ceased to treat of beings palpable and perceptible to the senses; and theology continued to be the theory of physical powers, placed sometimes exclusively in the stars, and sometimes disseminated through the universe; but at this period, certain superficial minds, losing the chain of ideas which had directed them in their profound studies, or ignorant of the facts on which they were founded, distorted all the conclusions that flowed from them by the introduction of a strange and novel chimera. They pretended that this universe, these heavens, these stars, this sun, differed in no respect from an ordinary machine; and applying to this first hypothesis a comparison drawn from the works of art, they raised an edifice of the most whimsical sophisms. A machine, said they, does not make itself; it has had an anterior workman; its very existence proves it. The world is a machine; therefore it had an artificer.*

* All the arguments of the spiritualists are founded on
this. See Macrobius, at the end of the second book, and
Plato, with the comments of Marcilius Ficinus.


"Here, then, is the Demi-Ourgos or grand artificer, constituted God autocratical and supreme. In vain the ancient philosophy objected to this by saying that the artificer himself must have had parents and progenitors; and that they only added another step to the ladder by taking eternity from the world, and giving it to its supposed author. The innovators, not content with this first paradox, passed on to a second; and, applying to their artificer the theory of the human understanding, they pretended that the Demi-Ourgos had framed his machine on a plan already existing in his understanding. Now, as their masters, the naturalists, had placed in the regions of the fixed stars the great primum mobile, under the name of intelligence and reason, so their mimics, the spiritualists, seizing this idea, applied it to their Demi-Ourgos, and making it a substance distinct and self-existent, they called it mens or logos (reason or word). And, as they likewise admitted the existence of the soul of the world, or solar principle, they found themselves obliged to compose three grades of divine beings, which were: first, the Demi-Ourgos, or working god; secondly, the logos, word or reason; thirdly, the spirit or soul (of the world).* And here, Christians! is the romance on which you have founded your trinity; here is the system which, born a heretic in the temples of Egypt, transported a pagan into the schools of Greece and Italy, is now found to be good, catholic, and orthodox, by the conversion of its partisans, the disciples of Pythagoras and Plato, to Christianity.

* These are the real types of the Christian Trinity.


"It is thus that God, after having been, First, The visible and various action of the meteors and the elements;

"Secondly, The combined powers of the stars, considered in their relations to terrestrial beings;

Thirdly, These terrestrial beings themselves, by confounding the symbols with their archetypes;

Fourthly, The double power of nature in its two principal operations of producing and destroying;

"Fifthly, The animated world, with distinction of agent and patient, of effect and cause;

"Sixthly, The solar principle, or the element of fire considered as the only mover;

"Has thus become, finally, in the last resort, a chimerical and abstract being, a scholastic subtilty, of substance without form, a body without a figure, a very delirium of the mind, beyond the power of reason to comprehend. But vainly does it seek in this last transformation to elude the senses; the seal of its origin is imprinted upon it too deep to be effaced; and its attributes, all borrowed from the physical attributes of the universe, such as immensity, eternity, indivisibility, incomprehensibility; or on the moral affections of man, such as goodness, justice, majesty; its names* even, all derived from the physical beings which were its types, and especially from the sun, from the planets, and from the world, constantly bring to mind, in spite of its corrupters, indelible marks of its real nature.

* In our last analysis we found all the names of the Deity
to be derived from some material object in which it was
supposed to reside. We have given a considerable number of
instances; let us add one more relative to our word God.
This is known to be the Deus of the Latins, and the Theos of
the Greeks. Now by the confession of Plato (in Cratylo), of
Macrobius (Saturn, lib. 1, c. 24,) and of Plutarch (Isis and
Osiris) its root is thein, which signifies to wander, like
planein, that is to say, it is synonymous with planets;
because, add our authors, both the ancient Greeks and
Barbarians particularly worshipped the planets. I know that
such enquiries into etymologies have been much decried: but
if, as is the case, words are the representative signs of
ideas, the genealogy of the one becomes that of the other,
and a good etymological dictionary would be the most perfect
history of the human understanding. It would only be
necessary in this enquiry to observe certain precautions,
which have hitherto been neglected, and particularly to make
an exact comparison of the value of the letters of the
different alphabets. But, to continue our subject, we shall
add, that in the Phoenician language, the word thah (with
ain) signifies also to wander, and appears to be the
derivation of thein. If we suppose Deus to be derived from
the Greek Zeus, a proper name of You-piter, having zaw, I
live, for its root, its sense will be precisely that of you,
and will mean soul of the world, igneous principle. (See
note p. 143). Div-us, which only signifies Genius, God of
the second order, appears to me to come from the oriental
word div substituted for dib, wolf and chacal, one of the
emblems of the sun. At Thebes, says Macrobius, the sun was
painted under the form of a wolf or chacal, for there are no
wolves in Egypt. The reason of this emblem, doubtless, is
that the chacal, like the cock announces by its cries the
sun's rising; and this reason is confirmed by the analogy of
the words lykos, wolf, and lyke, light of the morning,
whence comes lux.

Dius, which is to be understood also of the sun, must be
derived from dih, a hawk. "The Egyptians," says Porphyry
(Euseb. Proecep. Evang. p. 92,) "represent the sun under the
emblem of a hawk, because this bird soars to the highest
regions of air where light abounds." And in reality we
continually see at Cairo large flights of these birds,
hovering in the air, from whence they descend not but to
stun us with their shrieks, which are like the monosyllable
dih: and here, as in the preceding example, we find an
analogy between the word dies, day, light, and dius, god,
sun.


"Such is the chain of ideas which the human mind had already run through at an epoch previous to the records of history; and since their continuity proves that they were the produce of the same series of studies and labors, we have every reason to place their origin in Egypt, the cradle of their first elements. This progress there may have been rapid; because the physical priests had no other food, in the retirement of the temples, but the enigma of the universe, always present to their minds; and because in the political districts into which that country was for a long time divided, every state had its college of priests, who, being by turns auxiliaries or rivals, hastened by their disputes the progress of science and discovery.*

* One of the proofs that all these systems were invented in
Egypt, is that this is the only country where we see a
complete body of doctrine formed from the remotest
antiquity.

Clemens Alexandrinus has transmitted to us (Stromat. lib.
6,) a curious detail of the forty-two volumes which were
borne in the procession of Isis. "The priest," says he, "or
chanter, carries one of the symbolic instruments of music,
and two of the books of Mercury; one containing hymns of the
gods, the other the list of kings. Next to him the
horoscope (the regulator of time,) carries a palm and a
dial, symbols of astrology; he must know by heart the four
books of Mercury which treat of astrology: the first on the
order of the planets, the second on the risings of the sun
and moon, and the two last on the rising and aspect of the
stars. Then comes the sacred author, with feathers on his
head (like Kneph) and a book in his hand, together with ink,
and a reed to write with, (as is still the practice among
the Arabs). He must be versed in hieroglyphics, must
understand the description of the universe, the course of
the sun, moon, stars, and planets, be acquainted with the
division of Egypt into thirty-six nomes, with the course of
the Nile, with instruments, measures, sacred ornaments, and
sacred places. Next comes the stole bearer, who carries the
cubit of justice, or measure of the Nile, and a cup for the
libations; he bears also in the procession ten volumes on
the subject of sacrifices, hymns, prayers, offerings,
ceremonies, festivals. Lastly arrives the prophet, bearing
in his bosom a pitcher, so as to be exposed to view; he is
followed by persons carrying bread (as at the marriage of
Cana.) This prophet, as president of the mysteries, learns
ten other sacred volumes, which treat of the laws, the gods,
and the discipline of the priests. Now there are in all
forty-two volumes, thirty-six of which are studied and got
by heart by these personages, and the remaining six are set
apart to be consulted by the pastophores; they treat of
medicine, the construction of the human body (anatomy),
diseases, remedies, instruments, etc., etc."

We leave the reader to deduce all the consequences of an
Encyclopedia. It is ascribed to Mercury; but Jamblicus
tells us that each book, composed by priests, was dedicated
to that god, who, on account of his title of genius or decan
opening the zodiac, presided over every enterprise. He is
the Janus of the Romans, and the Guianesa of the Indians,
and it is remarkable that Yanus and Guianes are homonymous.
In short it appears that these books are the source of all
that has been transmitted to us by the Greeks and Latins in
every science, even in alchymy, necromancy, etc. What is
most to be regretted in their loss is that part which
related to the principles of medicine and diet, in which the
Egyptians appear to have made a considerable progress, and
to have delivered many useful observations.


"There happened early on the borders of the Nile, what has since been repeated in every country; as soon as a new system was formed its novelty excited quarrels and schisms; then, gaining credit by persecution itself, sometimes it effaced antecedent ideas, sometimes it modified and incorporated them; then, by the intervention of political revolutions, the aggregation of states and the mixture of nations confused all opinions; and the filiation of ideas being lost, theology fell into a chaos, and became a mere logogriph of old traditions no longer understood. Religion, having strayed from its object was now nothing more than a political engine to conduct the credulous vulgar; and it was used for this purpose, sometimes by men credulous themselves and dupes of their own visions, and sometimes by bold and energetic spirits in pursuit of great objects of ambition.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

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Part 3 of 3

IX. Religion of Moses, or Worship of the Soul of the World (You-piter).

"Such was the legislator of the Hebrews; who, wishing to separate his nation from all others, and to form a distinct and solitary empire, conceived the design of establishing its basis on religious prejudices, and of raising around it a sacred rampart of opinions and of rites. But in vain did he prescribe the worship of the symbols which prevailed in lower Egypt and in Phoenicia;* for his god was nevertheless an Egyptian god, invented by those priests of whom Moses had been the disciple; and Yahouh,** betrayed by its very name, essence (of beings), and by its symbol, the burning bush, is only the soul of the world, the moving principle which the Greeks soon after adopted under the same denomination in their you-piter, regenerating being, and under that of Ei, existence,*** which the Thebans consecrated by the name of Kneph, which Sais worshipped under the emblem of Isis veiled, with this inscription: I am al that has been, all that is, and all that is to come, and no mortal has raised my veil; which Pythagoras honored under the name of Vesta, and which the stoic philosophy defined precisely by calling it the principle of fire. In vain did Moses wish to blot from his religion every thing which had relation to the stars; many traits call them to mind in spite of all he has done. The seven planetary luminaries of the great candlestick; the twelve stones, or signs in the Urim of the high priests; the feast of the two equinoxes, (entrances and gates of the two hemispheres); the ceremony of the lamb, (the celestial ram then in his fifteenth degree); lastly, the name even of Osiris preserved in his song,**** and the ark, or coffer, an imitation of the tomb in which that God was laid, all remain as so many witnesses of the filiation of his ideas, and of their extraction from the common source.

* "At a certain period," says Plutarch (de Iside) "all the
Egyptians have their animal gods painted. The Thebans are
the only people who do not employ painters, because they
worship a god whose form comes not under the senses, and
cannot be represented." And this is the god whom Moses,
educated at Heliopolis, adopted; but the idea was not of his
invention.


** Such is the true pronunciation of the Jehovah of the
moderns, who violate, in this respect, every rule of
criticism; since it is evident that the ancients,
particularly the eastern Syrians and Phoenicians, were
acquainted neither with the J nor the P which are of Tartar
origin. The subsisting usage of the Arabs, which we have
re-established here, is confirmed by Diodorus, who calls the
god of Moses Iaw, (lib. 1), and Iaw and Yahouh are
manifestly the same word: the identity continues in that of
You-piter; but in order to render it more complete, we shall
demonstrate the signification to be the same.

In Hebrew, that is to say, in one of the dialects of the
common language of lower Asia, Yahouh is the participle of
the verb hih, to exist, to be, and signifies existing: in
other words, the principle of life, the mover or even motion
(the universal soul of beings). Now what is Jupiter? Let
us hear the Greeks and Latins explain their theology. "The
Egyptians," says Diodorus, after Manatho, priest of Memphis,
"in giving names to the five elements, called spirit, or
ether, You-piter, on account of the true meaning of that
word: for spirit is the source of life, author of the vital
principle in animals; and for this reason they considered
him as the father, the generator of beings." For the same
reason Homer says, father, and king of men and gods. (Diod.
lib. 1, sect 1).

"Theologians," says Macrobius, "consider You-piter as the
soul of the world." Hence the words of Virgil: " Muses let
us begin with You-piter; the world is full of You-piter."
(Somn. Scrip., ch. 17). And in the Saturnalia, he says,
"Jupiter is the sun himself." It was this also which made
Virgil say, "The spirit nourishes the life (of beings), and
the soul diffused through the vast members (of the
universe), agitates the whole mass, and forms but one
immense body."

"Ioupiter," says the ancient verses of the Orphic sect,
which originated in Egypt; verses collected by Onomacritus
in the days of Pisistratus, "Ioupiter, represented with the
thunder in his hand, is the beginning, origin, end, and
middle of all things: a single and universal power, he
governs every thing; heaven, earth, fire, water, the
elements, day, and night. These are what constitute his
immense body: his eyes are the sun and moon: he is space and
eternity: in fine," adds Porphyry. "Jupiter is the world,
the universe, that which constitutes the essence and life of
all beings. Now," continues the same author, "as
philosophers differed in opinion respecting the nature and
constituent parts of this god, and as they could invent no
figure that should represent all his attributes, they
painted him in the form of a man. He is in a sitting
posture, in allusion to his immutable essence; the upper
part of his body is uncovered, because it is in the upper
regions of the universe (the stars) that he most
conspicuously displays himself. He is covered from the
waist downwards, because respecting terrestrial things he is
more secret and concealed. He holds a scepter in his left
hand, because on the left side is the heart, and the heart
is the seat of the understanding, which, (in human beings)
regulates every action." Euseb. Proeper. Evang., p 100.

The following passage of the geographer and philosopher,
Strabo, removes every doubt as to the identity of the ideas
of Moses and those of the heathen theologians.

"Moses, who was one of the Egyptian priests, taught his
followers that it was an egregious error to represent the
Deity under the form of animals, as the Egyptians did, or in
the shape of man, as was the practice of the Greeks and
Africans. That alone is the Deity, said he, which
constitutes heaven, earth, and every living thing; that
which we call the world, the sum of all things, nature; and
no reasonable person will think of representing such a being
by the image of any one of the objects around us. It is for
this reason, that, rejecting every species of images or
idols, Moses wished the Deity to be worshipped without
emblems, and according to his proper nature; and he
accordingly ordered a temple worthy of him to be erected,
etc. Geograph. lib. 16, p. 1104, edition of 1707.

The theology of Moses has, then, differed in no respect from
that of his followers, that is to say, from that of the
Stoics and Epicureans, who consider the Deity as the soul of
the world. This philosophy appears to have taken birth, or
to have been disseminated when Abraham came into Egypt (200
years before Moses), since he quitted his system of idols
for that of the god Yahouh; so that we may place its
promulgation about the seventeenth or eighteenth century
before Christ; which corresponds with what we have said
before.

As to the history of Moses, Diodorus properly represents it
when he says, lib. 34 and 40, "That the Jews were driven out
of Egypt at a time of dearth, when the country was full of
foreigners, and that Moses, a man of extraordinary prudence
seized this opportunity of establishing his religion in the
mountains of Judea." It will seem paradoxical to assert,
that the 600,000 armed men whom he conducted thither ought
to be reduced to 6,000; but I can confirm the assertion by
so many proofs drawn from the books themselves, that it will
be necessary to correct an error which appears to have
arisen from the mistake of the transcribers.


*** This was the monosyllable written on the gates of the
temple of Delphos. Plutarch has made it the subject of a
dissertation.


**** These are the literal expressions of the book of
Deuteronomy, chap. XXXII. "The works of Tsour are perfect."
Now Tsour has been translated by the word creator; its
proper signification is to give forms, and this is one of
the definitions of Osiris in Plutarch.


X. Religion of Zoroaster.

"Such also was Zoroaster; who, five centuries after Moses, and in the time of David, revived and moralized among the Medes and Bactrians, the whole Egyptian system of Osiris and Typhon, under the names Ormuzd and Ahrimanes; who called the reign of summer, virtue and good; the reign of winter, sin and evil; the renewal of nature in spring, creation of the world; the conjunction of the spheres at secular periods, resurrection; and the Tartarus and Elysium of the astrologers and geographers were named future life, hell and paradise. In a word, he did nothing but consecrate the existing dreams of the mystical system.

XI. Budsoism, or Religion of the Samaneans.

"Such again are the propagators of the dismal doctrine of the Samaneans; who, on the basis of the Metempsychosis, have erected the misanthropic system of self-denial, and of privations; who, laying it down as a principle that the body is only a prison where the soul lives in an impure confinement, that life is only a dream, an illusion, and the world only a passage to another country, to a life without end, placed virtue and perfection in absolute immobility, in the destruction of all sentiment, in the abnegation of physical organs, in the annihilation of all our being; whence resulted fasts, penances, macerations, solitude, contemplations, and all the practices of the deplorable delirium of the Anchorites.

XII. Brahmism, or Indian System.

"And such, too, were the founders of the Indian System; who, refining after Zoroaster on the two principles of creation and destruction, introduced an intermediary principle, that of preservation, and on their trinity in unity, of Brama, Chiven, and Vichenou, accumulated the allegories of their ancient traditions, and the alembicated subtilities of their metaphysics.

"These are the materials which existed in a scattered state for many centuries in Asia; when a fortuitous concourse of events and circumstances, on the borders of the Euphrates and the Mediterranean, served to form them into new combinations.

XIII. Christianity, or the Allegorical Worship of the Sun, under the cabalistical names of Chrish-en, or Christ, and Ye-sus or Jesus.

"In constituting a separate nation, Moses strove in vain to defend it against the invasion of foreign ideas. An invisible inclination, founded on the affinity of their origin, had constantly brought back the Hebrews towards the worship of the neighboring nations; and the commercial and political relations which necessarily existed between them, strengthened this propensity from day to day. As long as the constitution of the state remained entire, the coercive force of the government and the laws opposed these innovations, and retarded their progress; nevertheless the high places were full of idols; and the god Sun had his chariot and horses painted in the palaces of the kings, and even in the temples of Yahouh; but when the conquests of the sultans of Nineveh and Babylon had dissolved the bands of civil power, the people, left to themselves and solicited by their conquerors, restrained no longer their inclination for profane opinions, and they were publicly established in Judea. First, the Assyrian colonies, which came and occupied the lands of the tribes, filled the kingdom of Samaria with dogmas of the Magi, which very soon penetrated into the kingdom of Judea. Afterwards, Jerusalem being subjugated, the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Arabs, entering this defenceless country, introduced their opinions; and the religion of Moses was doubly mutilated. Besides the priests and great men, being transported to Babylon and educated in the sciences of the Chaldeans, imbibed, during a residence of seventy years, the whole of their theology; and from that moment the dogmas of the hostile Genius (Satan), the archangel Michael,* the ancient of days (Ormuzd), the rebel angels, the battles in heaven, the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection, all unknown to Moses, or rejected by his total silence respecting them, were introduced and naturalized among the Jews.

* "The names of the angels and of the months, such as
Gabriel, Michael, Yar, Nisan, etc., came from Babylon with
the Jews:" says expressly the Talmud of Jerusalem. See
Beousob. Hist. du Manich. Vol. II, p. 624, where he proves
that the saints of the Almanac are an imitation of the 365
angels of the Persians; and Jamblicus in his Egyptian
Mysteries, sect. 2, c. 3, speaks of angels, archangels,
seraphims, etc., like a true Christian.


"The emigrants returned to their country with these ideas; and their innovation at first excited disputes between their partisans the Pharisees, and their opponents the Saducees, who maintained the ancient national worship; but the former, aided by the propensities of the people and their habits already contracted, and supported by the Persians, their deliverers and masters, gained the ascendant over the latter; and the Sons of Moses consecrated the theology of Zoroaster.*

* "The whole philosophy of the gymnosophists," says Diogenes
Laertius on the authority of an ancient writer, "is derived
from that of the Magi, and many assert that of the Jews to
have the same origin." Lib. 1. c. 9. Megasthenes, an
historian of repute in the days of Seleucus Nicanor, and who
wrote particularly upon India, speaking of the philosophy of
the ancients respecting natural things, puts the Brachmans
and the Jews precisely on the same footing.


"A fortuitous analogy between two leading ideas was highly favorable to this coalition, and became the basis of a last system, not less surprising in the fortune it has had in the world, than in the causes of its formation.

"After the Assyrians had destroyed the kingdom of Samaria, some judicious men foresaw the same destiny for Jerusalem, which they did not fail to predict and publish; and their predictions had the particular turn of being terminated by prayers for a re-establishment and regeneration, uttered in the form of prophecies. The Hierophants, in their enthusiasm, had painted a king as a deliverer, who was to re-establish the nation in its ancient glory; the Hebrews were to become once more a powerful, a conquering nation, and Jerusalem the capital of an empire extended over the whole earth.

"Events having realized the first part of these predictions, the ruin of Jerusalem, the people adhered to the second with a firmness of belief in proportion to their misfortunes; and the afflicted Jews expected, with the impatience of want and desire, this victorious king and deliverer, who was to come and save the nation of Moses, and restore the empire of David.

"On the other hand, the sacred and mythological traditions of preceding times had spread through all Asia a dogma perfectly analogous. The cry there was a great mediator, a final judge, a future saviour, a king, god, conqueror and legislator, who was to restore the golden age upon earth,* to deliver it from the dominion of evil, and restore men to the empire of good, peace, and happiness. The people seized and cherished these ideas with so much the more avidity, as they found in them a consolation under that deplorable state of suffering into which they had been plunged by the devastations of successive conquests, and the barbarous despotism of their governments. This conformity between the oracles of different nations, and those of the prophets, excited the attention of the Jews; and doubtless the prophets had the art to compose their descriptions after the style and genius of the sacred books employed in the Pagan mysteries. There was therefore a general expectation in Judea of a great ambassador, a final Saviour; when a singular circumstance determined the epoch of his coming.

* This is the reason of the application of the many Pagan
oracles to Jesus, and particularly the fourth eclogue of
Virgil, and the Sybilline verses so celebrated among the
ancients.


"It is found in the sacred books of the Persians and Chaldeans, that the world, composed of a total revolution of twelve thousand, was divided into two partial revolutions; one of which, the age and reign of good, terminated in six thousand; the other, the age and reign of evil, was to terminate in six thousand more.

"By these records, the first authors had understood the annual revolution of the great celestial orb called the world, (a revolution composed of twelve months or signs, divided each into a thousand parts), and the two systematic periods, of winter and summer, composed each of six thousand. These expressions, wholly equivocal and badly explained, having received an absolute and moral, instead of a physical and astrological sense, it happened that the annual world was taken for the secular world, the thousand of the zodiacal divisions, for a thousand of years; and supposing, from the state of things, that they lived in the age of evil, they inferred that it would end with the six thousand pretended years.*

* We have already seen this tradition current among the
Tuscans; it was disseminated through most nations, and shows
us what we ought to think of all the pretended creations and
terminations of the world, which are merely the beginnings
and endings of astronomical periods invented by astrologers.
That of the year or solar revolution, being the most simple
and perceptible, served as a model to the rest, and its
comparison gave rise to the most whimsical ideas. Of this
description is the idea of the four ages of the world among
the Indians. Originally these four ages were merely the
four seasons; and as each season was under the supposed
influence of a planet, it bore the name of the metal
appropriated to that planet; thus spring was the age of the
sun, or of gold; summer the age of the moon, or of silver;
autumn the age of Venus, or of brass; and winter the age of
Mars, or of iron. Afterwards when astronomers invented the
great year of 25 and 36 thousand common years, which had for
its object the bringing back all the stars to one point of
departure and a general conjunction, the ambiguity of the
terms introduced a similar ambiguity of ideas; and the
myriads of celestial signs and periods of duration which
were thus measured were easily converted into so many
revolutions of the sun. Thus the different periods of
creation which have been so great a source of difficulty and
misapprehension to curious enquirers, were in reality
nothing more than hypothetical calculations of astronomical
periods. In the same manner the creation of the world has
been attributed to different seasons of the year, just as
these different seasons have served for the fictitious
period of these conjunctions; and of consequence has been
adopted by different nations for the commencement of an
ordinary year. Among the Egyptians this period fell upon
the summer solstice, which was the commencement of their
year; and the departure of the spheres, according to their
conjectures, fell in like manner upon the period when the
sun enters cancer. Among the Persians the year commenced at
first in the spring, or when the sun enters Aries; and from
thence the first Christians were led to suppose that God
created the world in the spring: this opinion is also
favored by the book of Genesis; and it is farther
remarkable, that the world is not there said to be created
by the God of Moses (Yahouh), but by the Elohim or gods in
the plural, that is by the angels or genii, for so the word
constantly means in the Hebrew books. If we farther observe
that the root of the word Elohim signifies strong or
powerful, and that the Egyptians called their decans strong
and powerful leaders, attributing to them the creation of
the world, we shall presently perceive that the book of
Genesis affirms neither more nor less than that the world
was created by the decans, by those very genii whom,
according to Sanchoniathon, Mercury excited against Saturn,
and who were called Elohim. It may be farther asked why the
plural substantive Elohim is made to agree with the singular
verb bara (the Elohim creates). The reason is that after the
Babylonish captivity the unity of the Supreme Being was the
prevailing opinion of the Jews; it was therefore thought
proper to introduce a pious solecism in language, which it
is evident had no existence before Moses; thus in the names
of the children of Jacob many of them are compounded of a
plural verb, to which Elohim is the nominative case
understood, as Raouben (Reuben), they have looked upon me,
and Samaonni (Simeon), they have granted me my prayer; to
wit, the Elohim. The reason of this etymology is to be
found in the religious creeds of the wives of Jacob, whose
gods were the taraphim of Laban, that is, the angels of the
Persians, and Egyptian decans.


"Now, according to calculations admitted by the Jews, they began to reckon near six thousand years since the supposed creation of the world.* This coincidence caused a fermentation in the public mind. Nothing was thought of but the approaching end. They consulted the hierophants and the mystical books, which differed as to the term; the great mediator, the final judge, was expected and desired, to put an end to so many calamities. This being was so much spoken of, that some person finally was said to have seen him; and a first rumor of this sort was sufficient to establish a general certainty. Popular report became an established fact: the imaginary being was realized; and all the circumstances of mythological tradition, being assembled around this phantom, produced a regular history, of which it was no longer permitted to doubt.

* According to the computation of the Seventy, the period
elapsed consisted of about 5,600 years, and this computation
was principally followed. It is well known how much, in the
first ages of the church, this opinion of the end of the
world agitated the minds of men. In the sequel, the general
councils encouraged by finding that the general
conflagration did not come, pronounced the expectation that
prevailed heretical, and its believers were called
Millenarians; a circumstance curious enough, since it is
evident from the history of the gospels that Jesus Christ
was a Millenarian, and of consequence a heretic.


"These mythological traditions recounted that, in the beginning, a woman and a man had by their fall introduced sin and misery into the world. (Consult plate of the Astrological Heaven of the Ancients.)

"By this was denoted the astronomical fact, that the celestial virgin and the herdsman (Bootes), by setting heliacally at the autumnal equinox, delivered the world to the wintry constellations, and seemed, on falling below the horizon, to introduce into the world the genius of evil, Ahrimanes, represented by the constellation of the Serpent.*

* "The Persians," says Chardin, "call the constellation of
the serpent Ophiucus, serpent of Eve: and this serpent
Ophiucas or Ophioneus plays a similar part in the theology
of the Phoenicians," for Pherecydes, their disciple and the
master of Pythagoras, said "that Ophioneus Serpentinus had
been chief of the rebels against Jupiter." See Mars. Ficin.
Apol. Socrat. p. m. 797, col. 2. I shall add that ephah
(with ain) signifies in Hebrew, serpent.


These traditions related that the woman had decoyed and seduced the man.*

* In a physical sense to seduce, seducere, means only to
attract, to draw after us.


"And in fact, the virgin, setting first, seems to draw the herdsman after her.

"That the woman tempted him by offering him fruit fair to the sight and good to eat, which gave the knowledge of good and evil.

"And in fact, the Virgin holds in her hand a branch of fruit, which she seems to offer to the Herdsman; and the branch, emblem of autumn, placed in the picture of Mithra* between winter and summer, seems to open the door and give knowledge, the key of good and evil.

* See this picture in Hyde, page 111, edition of 1760.


That this couple had been driven from the celestial garden, and that a cherub with a flaming sword had been placed at the gate to guard it.

"And in fact, when the virgin and the herdsman fall beneath the horizon, Perseus rises on the other side;* and this Genius, with a sword in his hand, seems to drive them from the summer heaven, the garden and dominion of fruits and flowers.

* Rather the head of Medusa; that head of a woman once so
beautiful, which Perseus cut off and which beholds in his
hand, is only that of the virgin, whose head sinks below the
horizon at the very moment that Perseus rises; and the
serpents which surround it are Orphiucus and the Polar
Dragon, who then occupy the zenith. This shows us in what
manner the ancients composed all their figures and fables.
They took such constellations as they found at the same time
on the circle of the horizon, and collecting the different
parts, they formed groups which served them as an almanac in
hieroglyphic characters. Such is the secret of all their
pictures, and the solution of all their mythological
monsters. The virgin is also Andromeda, delivered by
Perseus from the whale that pursues her (pro-sequitor).


That of this virgin should be born, spring up, an offspring, a child, who should bruise the head of the serpent, and deliver the world from sin.

"This denotes the son, which, at the moment of the winter solstice, precisely when the Persian Magi drew the horoscope of the new year, was placed on the bosom of the Virgin, rising heliacally in the eastern horizon; on this account he was figured in their astrological pictures under the form of a child suckled by a chaste virgin,* and became afterwards, at the vernal equinox, the ram, or the lamb, triumphant over the constellation of the Serpent, which disappeared from the skies.

* Such was the picture of the Persian sphere, cited by Aben
Ezra in the Coelam Poeticum of Blaeu, p. 71. "The picture
of the first decan of the Virgin," says that writer.
"represents a beautiful virgin with flowing hair; sitting in
a chair, with two ears of corn in her hand, and suckling an
infant, called Jesus by some nations, and Christ in Greek."

In the library of the king of France is a manuscript in
Arabic, marked 1165, in which is a picture of the twelve
signs; and that of the Virgin represents a young woman with
an infant by her side: the whole scene indeed of the birth
of Jesus is to be found in the adjacent part of the heavens.
The stable is the constellation of the charioteer and the
goat, formerly Capricorn: a constellation called proesepe
Jovis Heniochi, stable of Iou; and the word Iou is found in
the name Iou-seph (Joseph). At no great distance is the ass
of Typhon (the great she-bear), and the ox or bull, the
ancient attendants of the manger. Peter the porter, is
Janus with his keys and bald forehead: the twelve apostles
are the genii of the twelve months, etc. This Virgin has
acted very different parts in the various systems of
mythology: she has been the Isis of the Egyptians, who said
of her in one of their inscriptions cited by Julian, the
fruit I have brought forth is the sun. The majority of
traits drawn by Plutarch apply to her, in the same manner as
those of Osiris apply to Bootes: also the seven principal
stars of the she-bear, called David's chariot, were called
the chariot of Osiris (See Kirker); and the crown that is
situated behind, formed of ivy, was called Chen-Osiris, the
tree of Osiris. The Virgin has likewise been Ceres, whose
mysteries were the same with those of Isis and Mithra; she
has been the Diana of the Ephesians; the great goddess of
Syria, Cybele, drawn by lions; Minerva, the mother of
Bacchus; Astraea, a chaste virgin taken up into heaven at
the end of a golden age; Themis at whose feet is the balance
that was put in her hands; the Sybil of Virgil, who descends
into hell, or sinks below the hemisphere with a branch in
her hand, etc.


That, in his infancy, this restorer of divine and celestial nature would live abased, humble, obscure and indigent.

"And this, because the winter sun is abased below the horizon; and that this first period of his four ages or seasons, is a time of obscurity, scarcity, fasting, and want.

"That, being put to death by the wicked, he had risen gloriously; that he had reascended from hell to heaven, where he would reign forever

"This is a sketch of the life of the sun; who, finishing his career at the winter solstice, when Typhon and the rebel angels gain the dominion, seems to be put to death by them; but who soon after is born again, and rises* into the vault of heaven, where he reigns.

* Resurgere, to rise a second time, cannot signify to return
to life, but in a metaphorical sense; but we see continually
mistakes of this kind result from the ambiguous meaning of
the words made use of in ancient tradition.


"Finally, these traditions went so far as to mention even his astrological and mythological names, and inform us that he was called sometimes Chris, that is to say, preserver,* and from that, ye Indians, you have made your god Chrish-en or Chrish-na; and, ye Greek and Western Christians, your Chris-tos, son of Mary, is the same; sometimes he is called Yes, by the union of three letters, which by their numerical value form the number 608, one of the solar periods.** And this, Europeans, is the name which, with the Latin termination, is become your Yes-us or Jesus, the ancient and cabalistic name attributed to young Bacchus, the clandestine son (nocturnal) of the Virgin Minerva, who, in the history of his whole life, and even of his death, brings to mind the history of the god of the Christians, that is, of the star of day, of which they are each of them the emblems."

* The Greeks used to express by X, or Spanish iota, the
aspirated ha of the Orientals, who said haris. In Hebrew
heres signifies the sun, but in Arabic the meaning of the
radical word is, to guard, to preserve, and of haris,
guardian, preserver. It is the proper epithet of Vichenou,
which demonstrates at once the identity of the Indian and
Christian Trinities, and their common origin. It is
manifestly but one system, which divided into two branches,
one extending to the east, and the other to the west,
assumed two different forms: Its principal trunk is the
Pythagorean system of the soul of the world, or Iou-piter.
The epithet piter, or father, having been applied to the
demi-ourgos of Plato, gave rise to an ambiguity which caused
an enquiry to be made respecting the son of this father. In
the opinion of the philosophers the son was understanding,
Nous and Logos, from which the Latins made their Verbum.
And thus we clearly perceive the origin of the eternal
father and of the Verbum his son, proceeding from him (Mens
Ex Deo nata, says Macrobius): the oenima or spiritus mundi,
was the Holy Ghost; and it is for this reason that Manes,
Pasilides, Valentinius, and other pretended heretics of the
first ages, who traced things to their source, said, that
God the Father was the supreme inaccessible light (that of
the heaven, the primum mobile, or the aplanes); the Son the
secondary light resident in the sun, and the Holy Ghost the
atmosphere of the earth (See Beausob. vol. II, p. 586):
hence, among the Syrians, the representation of the Holy
Ghost by a dove, the bird of Venus Urania, that is of the
air. The Syrians (says Nigidius de Germaico) assert that a
dove sat for a certain number of days on the egg of a fish,
and that from this incubation Venus was born: Sextus
Empiricus also observes (Inst. Pyrrh. lib. 3, c. 23) that
the Syrians abstain from eating doves; which intimates to us
a period commencing in the sign Pisces, in the winter
solstice. We may farther observe, that if Chris comes from
Harisch by a chin, it will signify artificer, an epithet
belonging to the sun. These variations, which must have
embarrassed the ancients, prove it to be the real type of
Jesus, as had been already remarked in the time of
Tertullian. "Many, says this writer, suppose with greater
probability that the sun is our God, and they refer us to
the religion of the Persians." Apologet. c. 16.


** See a curious ode to the sun, by Martianus Capella,
translated by Gebelin.


Here a great murmur having arisen among all the Christian groups, the Lamas, the Mussulmans and the Indians called them to order, and the orator went on to finish his discourse:

"You know at present," said he, "how the rest of this system was composed in the chaos and anarchy of the three first centuries; what a multitude of singular opinions divided the minds of men, and armed them with an enthusiasm and a reciprocal obstinacy; because, being equally founded on ancient tradition, they were equally sacred. You know how the government, after three centuries, having embraced one of these sects, made it the orthodox, that is to say, the pre-dominant religion, to the exclusion of the rest; which, being less in number, became heretics; you know how and by what means of violence and seduction this religion was propagated, extended, divided, and enfeebled; how, six hundred years after the Christian innovation, another system was formed from it and from that of the Jews; and how Mahomet found the means of composing a political and theological empire at the expense of those of Moses and the vicars of Jesus.

"Now, if you take a review of the whole history of the spirit of all religion, you will see that in its origin it has had no other author than the sensations and wants of man; that the idea of God has had no other type and model than those of physical powers, material beings, producing either good or evil, by impressions of pleasure or pain on sensitive beings; that in the formation of all these systems the spirit of religion has always followed the same course, and been uniform in its proceedings; that in all of them the dogma has never failed to represent, under the name of gods, the operations of nature, and passions and prejudices of men; that the moral of them all has had for its object the desire of happiness and the aversion to pain; but that the people, and the greater part of legislators, not knowing the route to be pursued, have formed false, and therefore discordant, ideas of virtue and vice of good and evil, that is to say, of what renders man happy or miserable; that in every instance, the means and the causes of propagating and establishing systems have exhibited the same scenes of passion and the same events; everywhere disputes about words, pretexts for zeal, revolutions and wars excited by the ambition of princes, the knavery of apostles, the credulity of proselytes, the ignorance of the vulgar, the exclusive cupidity and intolerant arrogance of all. Indeed, you will see that the whole history of the spirit of religion is only the history of the errors of the human mind, which, placed in a world that it does not comprehend, endeavors nevertheless to solve the enigma; and which, beholding with astonishment this mysterious and visible prodigy, imagines causes, supposes reasons, builds systems; then, finding one defective, destroys it for another not less so; hates the error that it abandons, misconceives the one that it embraces, rejects the truth that it is seeking, composes chimeras of discordant beings; and thus, while always dreaming of wisdom and happiness, wanders blindly in a labyrinth of illusion and doubt."
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:53 am

CHAPTER XXIII. ALL RELIGIONS HAVE THE SAME OBJECT.

Thus spoke the orator in the name of those men who had studied the origin and succession of religious ideas.

The theologians of various systems, reasoning on this discourse: "It is an impious representation," said some, "whose tendency is nothing less than to overturn all belief, to destroy subordination in the minds of men, and annihilate our ministry and power." "It is a romance," said others, "a tissue of conjectures, composed with art, but without foundation." The moderate and prudent men added: "Supposing all this to be true, why reveal these mysteries? Doubtless our opinions are full of errors; but these errors are a necessary restraint on the multitude. The world has gone thus for two thousand years; why change it now?"

A murmur of disapprobation, which never fails to rise at every innovation, now began to increase; when a numerous group of the common classes of people, and of untaught men of all countries and of every nation, without prophets, without doctors, and without doctrine, advancing in the circle, drew the attention of the whole assembly; and one of them, in the name of all, thus addressed the multitude:

"Mediators and arbiters of nations! the strange relations which have occupied the present debate were unknown to us until this day. Our understanding, confounded and amazed at so many statements, some of them learned, others absurd and all incomprehensible, remains in uncertainty and doubt. One only reflection has struck us: on reviewing so many prodigious facts, so many contradictory assertions, we ask ourselves: What are all these discussions to us? What need have we of knowing what passed five or six thousand years ago, in countries we never heard of, and among men who will ever be unknown to us? True or false, what interest have we in knowing whether the world has existed six thousand, or twenty-five thousand years? Whether it was made of nothing, or of something; by itself, or by a maker, who in his turn would require another maker? What! we are not sure of what happens near us, and shall we answer for what happens in the sun, in the moon, or in imaginary regions of space? We have forgotten our own infancy, and shall we know the infancy of the world? And who will attest what no one has seen? who will certify what no man comprehends?

"Besides, what addition or diminution will it make to our existence, to answer yes or no to all these chimeras? Hitherto neither our fathers nor ourselves have had the least knowledge or notion of them, and we do not perceive that we have had on this account either more or less of the sun, more or less of subsistence, more or less of good or of evil.

"If the knowledge of these things is so necessary, why have we lived as well without it as those who have taken so much trouble concerning it? If this knowledge is superfluous, why should we burden ourselves with it to-day?"

Then addressing himself to the doctors and theologians:

"What!" said he, "is it necessary that we, poor and ignorant men, whose every moment is scarcely sufficient for the cares of life, and the labors of which you take the profit,—is it necessary for us to learn the numberless histories that you have recounted, to read the quantity of books that you have cited, and to study the various languages in which they are composed! A thousand years of life would not suffice—"

"It is not necessary," replied the doctors, "that you should acquire all this science; we have it for you—"

"But even you," replied the simple men, "with all your science, you are not agreed; of what advantage, then, is your science? Besides, how can you answer for us? If the faith of one man is applicable to many, what need have even you to believe? your fathers may have believed for you; and this would be reasonable, since they have seen for you.

"Farther, what is believing, if believing influences no action? And what action is influenced by believing, for instance, that the world is or is not eternal?"

"The latter would be offensive to God," said the doctors.

"How prove you that?" replied the simple men.

"In our books," answered the doctors.

"We do not understand them," returned the simple men.

"We understand them for you," said the doctors.

"That is the difficulty," replied the simple men. "By what right do you constitute yourselves mediators between God and us?"

"By his orders," said the doctors.

"Where is the proof of these orders?" said the simple men.

"In our books," said the doctors.

"We understand them not," said the simple men; "and how came this just God to give you this privilege over us? Why did this common father oblige us to believe on a less degree of evidence than you? He has spoken to you; be it so; he is infallible, and deceives you not. But it is you who speak to us! And who shall assure us that you are not in error yourselves, or that you will not lead us into error? And if we should be deceived, how will that just God save us contrary to law, or condemn us on a law which we have not known?"

"He has given you the natural law," said the doctors.

"And what is the natural law?" replied the simple men. "If that law is sufficient, why has he given any other? If it is not sufficient, why did he make it imperfect?"

"His judgments are mysteries," said the doctors, "and his justice is not like that of men."

"If his justice," replied the simple men, "is not like ours, by what rule are we to judge of it? And, moreover, why all these laws, and what is the object proposed by them?"

"To render you more happy," replied a doctor, "by rendering you better and more virtuous. It is to teach man to enjoy his benefits, and not injure his fellows, that God has manifested himself by so many oracles and prodigies."

"In that case," said the simple men, "there is no necessity for so many studies, nor of such a variety of arguments; only tell us which is the religion that best answers the end which they all propose."

Immediately, on this, every group, extolling its own morality above that of all others, there arose among the different sects a new and most violent dispute.

"It is we," said the Mussulmans, "who possess the most excellent morals, who teach all the virtues useful to men and agreeable to God. We profess justice, disinterestedness, resignation to providence, charity to our brethren, alms-giving, and devotion; we torment not the soul with superstitious fears; we live without alarm, and die without remorse."

"How dare you speak of morals," answered the Christian priests, "you, whose chief lived in licentiousness and preached impurity? You, whose first precept is homicide and war? For this we appeal to experience: for these twelve hundred years your fanatical zeal has not ceased to spread commotion and carnage among the nations. If Asia, so flourishing in former times, is now languishing in barbarity and depopulation, it is in your doctrine that we find the cause; in that doctrine, the enemy of all instruction, which sanctifies ignorance, which consecrates the most absolute despotism in the governors, imposes the most blind and passive obedience in the people, that has stupefied the faculties of man, and brutalized the nations.

"It is not so with our sublime and celestial morals; it was they which raised the world from its primitive barbarity, from the senseless and cruel superstitions of idolatry, from human sacrifices,* from the shameful orgies of pagan mysteries; they it was that purified manners, proscribed incest and adultery, polished savage nations, banished slavery, and introduced new and unknown virtues, charity for men, their equality in the sight of God, forgiveness and forgetfulness of injuries, the restraint of all the passions, the contempt of worldly greatness, a life completely spiritual and completely holy!"

* Read the cold declaration of Eusebius (Proep. Evang. lib.
I, p. 11,), who pretends that, since the coming of Christ,
there have been neither wars, nor tyrants, nor cannibals,
nor sodomites, nor persons committing incest, nor savages
destroying their parents, etc. When we read these fathers
of the church we are astonished at their insincerity or
infatuation.


"We admire," said the Mussulmans, "the ease with which you reconcile that evangelical meekness, of which you are so ostentatious, with the injuries and outrages with which you are constantly galling your neighbors. When you criminate so severely the great man whom we revere, we might fairly retort on the conduct of him whom you adore; but we scorn such advantages, and confining ourselves to the real object in question, we maintain that the morals of your gospel have by no means that perfection which you ascribe to them; it is not true that they have introduced into the world new and unknown virtues: for example, the equality of men in the sight of God,—that fraternity and that benevolence which follow from it, were formal doctrines of the sect of the Hermatics or Samaneans,* from whom you descend. As to the forgiveness of injuries, the Pagans themselves had taught it; but in the extent that you give it, far from being a virtue, it becomes an immorality, a vice. Your so much boasted precept of turning one cheek after the other, is not only contrary to every sentiment of man, but is opposed to all ideas of justice. It emboldens the wicked by impunity, debases the virtuous by servility, delivers up the world to despotism and tyranny, and dissolves all society. Such is the true spirit of your doctrines. Your gospels in their precepts and their parables, never represent God but as a despot without any rules of equity; a partial father treating a debauched and prodigal son with more favor than his respectful and virtuous children; a capricious master, who gives the same wages to workmen who had wrought but one hour, as to those who had labored through the whole day; one who prefers the last comers to the first. The moral is everywhere misanthropic and antisocial; it disgusts men with life and with society; and tends only to encourage hermitism and celibacy.

* The equality of mankind in a state of nature and in the
eyes of God was one of the principal tenets of the
Samaneans, and they appear to be the only ancients that
entertained this opinion.


"As to the manner in which you have practised these morals, we appeal in our turn to the testimony of facts. We ask whether it is this evangelical meekness which has excited your interminable wars between your sects, your atrocious persecutions of pretended heretics, your crusades against Arianism, Manicheism, Protestantism, without speaking of your crusades against us, and of those sacrilegious associations, still subsisting, of men who take an oath to continue them?* We ask you whether it be gospel charity which has made you exterminate whole nations in America, to annihilate the empires of Mexico and Peru; which makes you continue to dispeople Africa and sell its inhabitants like cattle, notwithstanding your abolition of slavery; which makes you ravage India and usurp its dominions; and whether it be the same charity which, for three centuries past, has led you to harrass the habitations of the people of three continents, of whom the most prudent, the Chinese and Japanese, were constrained to drive you off, that they might escape your chains and recover their internal peace?"

* The oath taken by the knights of the Order of Malta, is to
kill, or make the Mahometans prisoners, for the glory of
God.


Here the Bramins, the Rabbins, the Bonzes, the Chamans, the Priests of the Molucca islands, and the coasts of Guinea, loading the Christian doctors with reproaches: "Yes!" cried they, "these men are robbers and hypocrites, who preach simplicity, to surprise confidence; humility, to enslave with more ease; poverty, to appropriate all riches to themselves. They promise another world, the better to usurp the present; and while they speak to you of tolerance and charity, they burn, in the name of God, the men who do not worship him in their manner."

"Lying priests," retorted the missionaries, "it is you who abuse the credulity of ignorant nations to subjugate them. It is you who have made of your ministry an art of cheating and imposture; you have converted religion into a traffic of cupidity and avarice. You pretend to hold communications with spirits, and they give for oracles nothing but your wills. You feign to read the stars, and destiny decrees only your desires. You cause idols to speak, and the gods are but the instruments of your passions. You have invented sacrifices and libations, to collect for your own profit the milk of flocks, and the flesh and fat of victims; and under the cloak of piety you devour the offerings of the gods, who cannot eat, and the substance of the people who are forced to labor."

"And you," replied the Bramins, the Bonzes, the Chamans, "you sell to the credulous living, your vain prayers for the souls of the dead. With your indulgences and your absolutions you have usurped the power of God himself; and making a traffic of his favors and pardons, you have put heaven at auction; and by your system of expiations you have formed a tariff of crimes, which has perverted all consciences."*

* As long as it shall be possible to obtain purification
from crimes and exemption from punishment by means of money
or other frivolous practices; as long as kings and great men
shall suppose that building temples or instituting
foundations, will absolve them from the guilt of oppression
and homicide; as long as individuals shall imagine that they
may rob and cheat, provided they observe fast during Lent,
go to confession, and receive extreme unction, it is
impossible there should exist in society any morality or
virtue; and it is from a deep conviction of truth, that a
modern philosopher has called the doctrine of expiations la
verola des societes.


"Add to this," said the Imans, "that these men have invented the most insidious of all systems of wickedness,—the absurd and impious obligation of recounting to them the most intimate secrets of actions and of thoughts (confessions); so their insolent curiosity has carried their inquisition even into the sanctuary of the marriage bed,* and the inviolable recesses of the heart."

* Confession is a very ancient invention of the priests, who
did not fail to avail themselves of that means of governing.
It was practised in the Egyptian, Greek, Phrygian, Persian
mysteries, etc. Plutarch has transmitted us the remarkable
answer of a Spartan whom a priest wanted to confess. "Is it
to you or to God I am to confess?" "To God," answered the
priest: "In that case," replied the Spartan, "man, begone!"
(Remarkable Savings of the Lacedemonians.) The first
Christians confessed their faults publicly, like the
Essenians. Afterwards, priests began to be established,
with power of absolution from the sin of idolatry. In the
time of Theodosius, a woman having publicly confessed an
intrigue with a deacon, bishop Necterius, and his successor
Chrysostom, granted communion without confession. It was
not until the seventh century that the abbots of convents
exacted from monks and nuns confession twice a year; and it
was at a still later period that bishops of Rome generalized
it.

The Mussulmen, who suppose women to have no souls, are
shocked at the idea of confession; and say; How can an
honest man think of listening to the recital of the actions
or the secret thoughts of a woman? May we not also ask, on
the other hand, how can an honest woman consent to reveal
them?


Thus by mutual reproaches the doctors of the different sects began to reveal all the crimes of their ministry—all the vices of their craft; and it was found that among all nations the spirit of the priesthood, their system of conduct, their actions their morals, were absolutely the same:

That they had everywhere formed secret associations and corporations at enmity with the rest of society:*

* That we may understand the general feelings of priests
respecting the rest of mankind, whom they always call by the
name of the people, let us hear one of the doctors of the
church. "The people," says Bishop Synnesius, in Calvit.
page 315, "are desirous of being deceived, we cannot act
otherwise respecting them. The case was similar with the
ancient priests of Egypt, and for this reason they shut
themselves up in their temples, and there composed their
mysteries, out of the reach of the eye of the people." And
forgetting what he has before just said, he adds: "for had
the people been in the secret they might have been offended
at the deception played upon them. In the mean time how is
it possible to conduct one's self otherwise with the people
so long as they are people? For my own part, to myself I
shall always be a philosopher, but in dealing with the mass
of mankind, I shall be a priest."

"A little jargon," says Geogory Nazianzen to St. Jerome
(Hieron. ad. Nep.) "is all that is necessary to impose on
the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire.
Our forefathers and doctors of the church have often said,
not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity
dictated to them."

"We endeavor," says Sanchoniaton, "to excite admiration by
means of the marvellous." (Proep. Evang. lib. 3.)

Such was the conduct of all the priests of antiquity, and is
still that of the Bramins and Lamas who are the exact
counterpart of the Egyptian priests. Such was the practice
of the Jesuits, who marched with hasty strides in the same
career. It is useless to point out the whole depravity of
such a doctrine. In general every association which has
mystery for its basis, or an oath of secrecy, is a league of
robbers against society, a league divided in its very bosom
into knaves and dupes, or in other words agents and
instruments. It is thus we ought to judge of those modern
clubs, which, under the name of Illuminatists, Martinists,
Cagliostronists, and Mesmerites, infest Europe. These
societies are the follies and deceptions of the ancient
Cabalists, Magicians, Orphies, etc., "who," says Plutarch,
"led into errors of considerable magnitude, not only
individuals, but kings and nations."


That they had everywhere attributed to themselves prerogatives and immunities, by means of which they lived exempt from the burdens of other classes:

That they everywhere avoided the toils of the laborer, the dangers of the soldier, and the disappointments of the merchant:

That they lived everywhere in celibacy, to shun even the cares of a family:

That, under the cloak of poverty, they found everywhere the secret of procuring wealth and all sorts of enjoyments:

That under the name of mendicity they raised taxes to a greater amount than princes:

That in the form of gifts and offerings they had established fixed and certain revenues exempt from charges:

That under pretence of retirement and devotion they lived in idleness and licentiousness:

That they had made a virtue of alms-giving, to live quietly on the labors of others:

That they had invented the ceremonies of worship, as a means of attracting the reverence of the people, while they were playing the parts of gods, of whom they styled themselves the interpreters and mediators, to assume all their powers; that, with this design, they had (according to the degree of ignorance or information of their people) assumed by turns the character of astrologers, drawers of horoscopes, fortune-tellers, magicians,* necromancers, quacks, physicians, courtiers, confessors of princes, always aiming at the great object to govern for their own advantage:

* What is a magician, in the sense in which people
understand the word? A man who by words and gestures
pretends to act on supernatural beings, and compel them to
descend at his call and obey his orders. Such was the
conduct of the ancient priests, and such is still that of
all priests in idolatrous nations; for which reason we have
given them the denomination of Magicians.

And when a Christian priest pretends to make God descend
from heaven, to fix him to a morsel of leaven, and render,
by means of this talisman, souls pure and in a state of
grace, what is this but a trick of magic? And where is the
difference between a Chaman of Tartary who invokes the
Genii, or an Indian Bramin, who makes Vichenou descend in a
vessel of water to drive away evil spirits? Yes, the
identity of the spirit of priests in every age and country
is fully established! Every where it is the assumption of
an exclusive privilege, the pretended faculty of moving at
will the powers of nature; and this assumption is so direct
a violation of the right of equality, that whenever the
people shall regain their importance, they will forever
abolish this sacrilegious kind of nobility, which has been
the type and parent stock of the other species of nobility.


That sometimes they had exalted the power of kings and consecrated their persons, to monopolize their favors, or participate their sway:

That sometimes they had preached up the murder of tyrants (reserving it to themselves to define tyranny), to avenge themselves of their contempt or their disobedience:

And that they always stigmatised with impiety whatever crossed their interests; that they hindered all public instruction, to exercise the monopoly of science; that finally, at all times and in all places, they had found the secret of living in peace in the midst of the anarchy they created, in safety under the despotism that they favored, in idleness amidst the industry they preached, and in abundance while surrounded with scarcity; and all this by carrying on the singular trade of selling words and gestures to credulous people, who purchase them as commodities of the greatest value.*

* A curious work would be the comparative history of the
agnuses of the pope and the pastils of the grand Lama. It
would be worth while to extend this idea to religions
ceremonies in general, and to confront column by column, the
analogous or contrasting points of faith and superstitious
practices in all nations. There is one more species of
superstition which it would be equally salutary to cure,
blind veneration for the great; and for this purpose it
would be alone sufficient to write a minute detail of the
private life of kings and princes. No work could be so
philosophical as this; and accordingly we have seen what a
general outcry was excited among kings and the panders of
kings, when the Anecdotes of the Court of Berlin first
appeared. What would be the alarm were the public put in
possession of the sequel of this work? Were the people
fairly acquainted with all the absurdities of this species
of idol, they would no longer be exposed to covet their
specious pleasures of which the plausible and hollow
appearance disturbs their peace, and hinders them from
enjoying the much more solid happiness of their own
condition.


Then the different nations, in a transport of fury, were going to tear in pieces the men who had thus abused them; but the legislator, arresting this movement of violence, addressed the chiefs and doctors:

"What!" said he, "instructors of nations, is it thus that you have deceived them?"

And the terrified priests replied.

"O legislator! we are men. The people are so superstitious! they have themselves encouraged these errors."*

* Consider in this view the Brabanters.


And the kings said:

"O legislator! the people are so servile and so ignorant! they prostrated themselves before the yoke, which we scarcely dared to show them."*

* The inhabitants of Vienna, for example, who harnessed
themselves like cattle and drew the chariot of Leopold.


Then the legislator, turning to the people—"People!" said he, "remember what you have just heard; they are two indelible truths. Yes, you yourselves cause the evils of which you complain; yourselves encourage the tyrants, by a base adulation of their power, by an imprudent admiration of their false beneficence, by servility in obedience, by licentiousness in liberty, and by a credulous reception of every imposition. On whom shall you wreak vengeance for the faults committed by your own ignorance and cupidity?"

And the people, struck with confusion, remained in mournful silence.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:55 am

CHAPTER XXIV. SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM OF CONTRADICTIONS.

The legislator then resumed his discourse: "O nations!" said he, "we have heard the discussion of your opinions. The different sentiments which divide you have given rise to many reflections, and furnished several questions which we shall propose to you to solve.

"First, considering the diversity and opposition of the creeds to which you are attached, we ask on what motives you found your persuasion? Is it from a deliberate choice that you follow the standard of one prophet rather than another? Before adopting this doctrine, rather than that, did you first compare? did you carefully examine them? Or have you received them only from the chance of birth, from the empire of education and habit? Are you not born Christians on the borders of the Tiber, Mussulmans on those of the Euphrates, Idolaters on the Indus, just as you are born fair in cold climates, and sable under the scorching sun of Africa? And if your opinions are the effect of your fortuitous position on the earth, of consanguinity, of imitation, how is it that such a hazard should be a ground of conviction, an argument of truth?

"Secondly, when we reflect on the mutual proscriptions and arbitrary intolerance of your pretensions, we are frightened at the consequences that flow from your own principles. Nations! who reciprocally devote each other to the bolts of heavenly wrath, suppose that the universal Being, whom you revere, should this moment descend from heaven on this multitude; and, clothed with all his power, should sit on this throne to judge you; suppose that he should say to you: Mortals! it is your own justice that I am going to exercise upon you. Yes, of all the religious systems that divide you, one alone shall this day be preferred; all the others, all this multitude of standards, of nations, of prophets, shall be condemned to eternal destruction. This is not enough: among the particular sects of the chosen system, one only can be favored; all the others must be condemned: neither is this enough;—from this little remnant of a group I must exclude all those who have not fulfilled the conditions enjoined by its precepts. O men! to what a small number of elect have you limited your race! to what a penury of beneficence do you reduce the immensity of my goodness! to what a solitude of beholders do you condemn my greatness and my glory!

"But," said the legislator rising, "no matter you have willed it so. Nations! here is an urn in which all your names are placed: one only is a prize: approach, and draw this tremendous lottery!" And the nations, seized with terror cried: "No, no; we are all brothers, all equal; we cannot condemn each other."

"Then," said the legislator, resuming his seat: "O men! who dispute on so many subjects, lend an attentive ear to one problem which you exhibit, and which you ought to decide yourselves."

And the people, giving great attention, he lifted an arm towards heaven, and, pointing to the sun, said:

"Nations, does that sun, which enlightens you, appear square or triangular?"

"No," answered they with one voice, "it is round."

Then, taking the golden balance that was on the altar:

"This gold," said the legislator, "that you handle every day, is it heavier than the same volume of copper?"

"Yes," answered all the people, "gold is heavier than Copper."

Then, taking the sword:

"Is this iron," said the legislator, "softer than lead?"

"No," said the people.

"Is sugar sweet, and gall bitter?"

"Yes."

"Do you love pleasure and hate pain?"

"Yes."

"Thus, then, you are agreed in these points, and many others of the same nature.

"Now, tell us, is there a cavern in the centre of the earth, or inhabitants in the moon?"

This question caused a universal murmur. Every one answered differently—some yes, others no; one said it was probable, another said it was an idle and ridiculous question; some, that it was worth knowing. And the discord was universal.

After some time the legislator, having obtained silence, said:

"Explain to us, O Nations! this problem: we have put to you several questions which you have answered with one voice, without distinction of race or of sect: white men, black men, followers of Mahomet and of Moses, worshippers of Boudha and of Jesus, all have returned the same answer. We then proposed another question, and you have all disagreed! Why this unanimity in one case, and this discordance in the other?"

And the group of simple men and savages answered and said: "The reason of this is plain. In the first case we see and feel the objects, and we speak from sensation; in the second, they are beyond the reach of our senses—we speak of them only from conjecture."

"You have resolved the problem," said the legislator; "and your own consent has established this first truth:

"That whenever objects can be examined and judged of by your senses, you are agreed in opinion; and that you only differ when the objects are absent and beyond your reach.

"From this first truth flows another equally clear and worthy of notice. Since you agree on things which you know with certainty, it follows that you disagree only on those which you know not with certainty, and about which you are not sure; that is to say, you dispute, you quarrel, you fight, for that which is uncertain, that of which you doubt. O men! is this wisdom?

"Is it not, then, demonstrated that truth is not the object of your contests? that it is not her cause which you defend, but that of your affections, and your prejudices? that it is not the object, as it really is in itself, that you would verify, but the object as you would have it; that is to say, it is not the evidence of the thing that you would enforce, but your own personal opinion, your particular manner of seeing and judging? It is a power that you wish to exercise, an interest that you wish to satisfy, a prerogative that you arrogate to yourself; it is a contest of vanity. Now, as each of you, on comparing himself to every other, finds himself his equal and his fellow, he resists by a feeling of the same right. And your disputes, your combats, your intolerance, are the effect of this right which you deny each other, and of the intimate conviction of your equality.

"Now, the only means of establishing harmony is to return to nature, and to take for a guide and regulator the order of things which she has founded; and then your accord will prove this other truth:

"That real beings have in themselves an identical, constant and uniform mode of existence; and that there is in your organs a like mode of being affected by them.

"But at the same time, by reason of the mobility of these organs as subject to your will, you may conceive different affections, and find yourselves in different relations with the same objects; so that you are to them like a mirror, capable of reflecting them truly as they are, or of distorting and disfiguring them.

"Hence it follows, that whenever you perceive objects as they are, you agree among yourselves, and with the objects; and this similitude between your sensations and their manner of existence, is what constitutes their truth with respect to you; and, on the contrary, whenever you differ in opinion, your disagreement is a proof that you do not represent them such as they are,—that you change them.

"Hence, also, it follows, that the causes of your disagreement exist not in the objects themselves, but in your minds, in your manner of perceiving or judging.

"To establish, therefore, a uniformity of opinion, it is necessary first to establish the certainty, completely verified, that the portraits which the mind forms are perfectly like the originals; that it reflects the objects correctly as they exist. Now, this result cannot be obtained but in those cases where the objects can be brought to the test, and submitted to the examination of the senses. Everything which cannot be brought to this trial is, for that reason alone, impossible to be determined; there exists no rule, no term of comparison, no means of certainty, respecting it.

"From this we conclude, that, to live in harmony and peace, we must agree never to decide on such subjects, and to attach to them no importance; in a word, we must trace a line of distinction between those that are capable of verification, and those that are not; and separate by an inviolable barrier the world of fantastical beings from the world of realities; that is to say, all civil effect must be taken away from theological and religious opinions.

"This, O ye people of the earth! is the object proposed by a great nation freed from her fetters and her prejudices; this is the work which, under her eye and by her orders, we had undertaken, when your kings and your priests came to interrupt it. O kings and priests! you may suspend, yet for a while, the solemn publication of the laws of nature; but it is no longer in your power to annihilate or to subvert them."

A general shout then arose from every part of the assembly; and the nations universally, and with one voice, testified their assent to the proposals of the delegates: "Resume," said they, "your holy and sublime labors, and bring them to perfection. Investigate the laws which nature, for our guidance, has implanted in our breasts, and collect from them an authentic and immutable code; nor let this code be any longer for one family only, but for us all without exception. Be the legislators of the whole human race, as you are the interpreters of nature herself. Show us the line of partition between the world of chimeras and that of realities; and teach us, after so many religions of error and delusion, the religion of evidence and truth!"

Then the delegates, having resumed their enquiries into the physical and constituent attributes of man, and examined the motives and affections which govern him in his individual and social state, unfolded in these words the laws on which nature herself has founded his happiness.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:57 am

THE LAW OF NATURE.

CHAPTER 1. OF THE LAW OF NATURE.


Q. What is the law of nature?

A. It is the constant and regular order of events, by which God governs the universe; an order which his wisdom presents to the senses and reason of men, as an equal and common rule for their actions, to guide them, without distinction of country or sect, towards perfection and happiness.

Q. Give a clear definition of the word law.

A. The word law, taken literary, signifies lecture,* because originally, ordinances and regulations were the lectures, preferably to all others, made to the people, in order that they might observe them, and not incur the penalties attached to their infraction: whence follows the original custom explaining the true idea.

The definition of law is, "An order or prohibition to act with the express clause of a penalty attached to the infraction, or of a recompense attached to the observance of that order."

* From the Latin word lex, lectio. Alcoran likewise
signifies lecture and is only a literal translation of the
word law.


Q. Do such orders exist in nature?

A. Yes.

Q. What does the word nature signify?

A. The word nature bears three different significations.

1. It signifies the universe, the material world: in this first sense we say the beauties of nature, the riches of nature, that is to say, the objects in the heavens and on the earth exposed to our sight;

2. It signifies the power that animates, that moves the universe, considering it as a distinct being, such as the soul is to the body; in this second sense we say, "The intentions of nature, the incomprehensible secrets of nature."

3. It signifies the partial operations of that power on each being, or on each class of beings; and in this third sense we say, "The nature of man is an enigma; every being acts according to its nature."

Wherefore, as the actions of each being, or of each species of beings, are subjected to constant and general rules, which cannot be infringed without interrupting and troubling the general or particular order, those rules of action and of motion are called natural laws, or laws of nature.

Q. Give me examples of those laws.

A. It is a law of nature, that the sun illuminates successively the surface of the terrestrial globe;—that its presence causes both light and heat;—that heat acting upon water, produces vapors;—that those vapors rising in clouds into the regions of the air, dissolve into rain or snow, and renew incessantly the waters of fountains and rivers.

It is a law of nature, that water flows downwards; that it endeavors to find its level; that it is heavier than air; that all bodies tend towards the earth; that flame ascends towards the heavens;—that it disorganizes vegetables and animals; that air is essential to the life of certain animals; that, in certain circumstances, water suffocates and kills them; that certain juices of plants, certain minerals attack their organs, and destroy their life, and so on in a multitude of other instances.

Wherefore, as all those and similar facts are immutable, constant, and regular, so many real orders result from them for man to conform himself to, with the express clause of punishment attending the infraction of them, or of welfare attending their observance. So that if man pretends to see clear in darkness, if he goes in contradiction to the course of the seasons, or the action of the elements; if he pretends to remain under water without being drowned, to touch fire without burning himself, to deprive himself of air without being suffocated, to swallow poison without destroying himself, he receives from each of those infractions of the laws of nature a corporeal punishment proportionate to his fault; but if on the contrary, he observes and practises each of those laws according to the regular and exact relations they have to him he preserves his existence, and renders it as happy as it can be: and as the only and common end of all those laws, considered relatively to mankind, is to preserve, and render them happy, it has been agreed upon to reduce the idea to one simple expression, and to call them collectively the law of nature.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:58 am

CHAPTER II. CHARACTERS OF THE LAW OF NATURE.

Q. What are the characters of the law of nature?

A. There can be assigned ten principal ones.

Q. Which is the first?

A. To be inherent to the existence of things, and, consequently, primitive and anterior to every other law: so that all those which man has received, are only imitations of it, and their perfection is ascertained by the resemblance they bear to this primordial model.

Q. Which is the second?

A. To be derived immediately from God, and presented by him to each man, whereas all other laws are presented to us by men, who may be either deceived or deceivers.

Q. Which is the third?

A. To be common to all times, and to all countries, that is to say, one and universal.

Q. Is no other law universal?

A. No: for no other is agreeable or applicable to all the people of the earth; they are all local and accidental, originating from circumstances of places and of persons; so that if such a man had not existed, or such an event happened, such a law would never have been enacted.

Q. Which is the fourth character?

A. To be uniform and invariable.

Q. Is no other law uniform and invariable?

A. No: for what is good and virtue according to one, is evil and vice according to another; and what one and the same law approves of at one time, it often condemns at another.

Q. Which is the fifth character?

A. To be evident and palpable, because it consists entirely of facts incessantly present to the senses, and to demonstration.

Q. Are not other laws evident?

A. No: for they are founded on past and doubtful facts, on equivocal and suspicious testimonies, and on proofs inaccessible to the senses.

Q. Which is the sixth character?

A. To be reasonable, because its precepts and entire doctrine are conformable to reason, and to the human understanding.

Q. Is no other law reasonable?

A. No: for all are in contradiction to the reason and the understanding of men, and tyrannically impose on him a blind and impracticable belief.

Q. Which is the seventh character?

A. To be just, because in that law, the penalties are proportionate to the infractions.

Q. Are not other laws just?

A. No: for they often exceed bounds, either in rewarding deserts, or in punishing delinquencies, and consider as meritorious or criminal, null or indifferent actions.

Q. Which is the eighth character?

A. To be pacific and tolerant, because in the law of nature, all men being brothers and equal in rights, it recommends to them only peace and toleration, even for errors.

Q. Are not other laws pacific?

A. No: for all preach dissension, discord, and war, and divide mankind by exclusive pretensions of truth and domination.

Q. Which is the ninth character?

A. To be equally beneficent to all men, in teaching them the true means of becoming better and happier.

Q. Are not other laws beneficent likewise?

A. No: for none of them teach the real means of attaining happiness; all are confined to pernicious or futile practices; and this is evident from facts, since after so many laws, so many religions, so many legislators and prophets, men are still as unhappy and ignorant, as they were six thousand years ago.

Q. Which is the last character of the law of nature?

A. That it is alone sufficient to render men happier and better, because it comprises all that is good and useful in other laws, either civil or religious, that is to say, it constitutes essentially the moral part of them; so that if other laws were divested of it, they would be reduced to chimerical and imaginary opinions devoid of any practical utility.

Q. Recapitulate all those characters.

A. We have said that the law of nature is,

1. Primitive;
2. Immediate;
3. Universal;
4. Invariable;
5. Evident;
6. Reasonable;
7. Just;
8. Pacific;
9. Beneficent: and
10. Alone sufficient.

And such is the power of all these attributes of perfection and truth, that when in their disputes the theologians can agree upon no article of belief, they recur to the law of nature, the neglect of which, say they, forced God to send from time to time prophets to proclaim new laws; as if God enacted laws for particular circumstances, as men do; especially when the first subsists in such force, that we may assert it to have been at all times and in all countries the rule of conscience for every man of sense or understanding.

Q. If, as you say, it emanates immediately from God, does it teach his existence?

A. Yes, most positively: for, to any man whatever, who observes with reflection the astonishing spectacle of the universe, the more he meditates on the properties and attributes of each being, on the admirable order and harmony of their motions, the more it is demonstrated that there exists a supreme agent, a universal and identic mover, designated by the appellation of God; and so true it is that the law of nature suffices to elevate him to the knowledge of God, that all which men have pretended to know by supernatural means, has constantly turned out ridiculous and absurd, and that they have ever been obliged to recur to the immutable conceptions of natural reason.

Q. Then it is not true that the followers of the law of nature are atheists?

A. No; it is not true; on the contrary, they entertain stronger and nobler ideas of the Divinity than most other men; for they do not sully him with the foul ingredients of all the weaknesses and passions entailed on humanity.

Q. What worship do they pay to him?

A. A worship wholly of action; the practice and observance of all the rules which the supreme wisdom has imposed on the motion of each being; eternal and unalterable rules, by which it maintains the order and harmony of the universe, and which, in their relations to man, constitute the law of nature.

Q. Was the law of nature known before this period:

A. It has been at all times spoken of: most legislators pretend to adopt it as the basis of their laws; but they only quote some of its precepts, and have only vague ideas of its totality.

Q. Why.

A. Because, though simple in its basis, it forms in its developements and consequences, a complicated whole which requires an extensive knowledge of facts, joined to all the sagacity of reasoning.

Q. Does not instinct alone teach the law of nature?

A. No; for by instinct is meant nothing more than that blind sentiment by which we are actuated indiscriminately towards everything that flatters the senses.

Q. Why, then, is it said that the law of nature is engraved in the hearts of all men.

A. It is said for two reasons: first, because it has been remarked, that there are acts and sentiments common to all men, and this proceeds from their common organization; secondly, because the first philosophers believed that men were born with ideas already formed, which is now demonstrated to be erroneous.

Q. Philosophers, then, are fallible?

A. Yes, sometimes.

Q. Why so?

A. First, because they are men; secondly, because the ignorant call all those who reason, right or wrong, philosophers; thirdly, because those who reason on many subjects, and who are the first to reason on them, are liable to be deceived.

Q. If the law of nature be not written, must it not become arbitrary and ideal?

A. No: because it consists entirely in facts, the demonstration of which can be incessantly renewed to the senses, and constitutes a science as accurate and precise as geometry and mathematics; and it is because the law of nature forms an exact science, that men, born ignorant and living inattentive and heedless, have had hitherto only a superficial knowledge of it.
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Re: The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires:

Postby admin » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:58 am

CHAPTER III. PRINCIPLES OF THE LAW OF NATURE RELATING TO MAN.

Q. Explain the principles of the law of nature with relation to man.

A. They are simple; all of them are comprised in one fundamental and single precept.

Q. What is that precept?

A. It is self-preservation.

Q. Is not happiness also a precept of the law of nature?

A. Yes: but as happiness is an accidental state, resulting only from the development of man's faculties and his social system, it is not the immediate and direct object of nature; it is in some measure, a superfluity annexed to the necessary and fundamental object of preservation.

Q. How does nature order man to preserve himself?

A. By two powerful and involuntary sensations, which it has attached, as two guides, two guardian Geniuses to all his actions: the one a sensation of pain, by which it admonishes him of, and deters him from, everything that tends to destroy him; the other, a sensation of pleasure, by which it attracts and carries him towards everything that tends to his preservation and the development of his existence.

Q. Pleasure, then, is not an evil, a sin, as casuists pretend?

A. No, only inasmuch as it tends to destroy life and health which, by the avowal of those same casuists, we derive from God himself.

Q. Is pleasure the principal object of our existence, as some philosophers have asserted?

A. No; not more than pain; pleasure is an incitement to live as pain is a repulsion from death.

Q. How do you prove this assertion?

A. By two palpable facts: One, that pleasure, when taken immoderately, leads to destruction; for instance, a man who abuses the pleasure of eating or drinking, attacks his health, and injures his life. The other, that pain sometimes leads to self-preservation; for instance, a man who permits a mortified member to be cut off, suffers pain in order not to perish totally.

Q. But does not even this prove that our sensations can deceive us respecting the end of our preservation?

A. Yes; they can momentarily.

Q. How do our sensations deceive us?

A. In two ways: by ignorance, and by passion.

Q. When do they deceive us by ignorance?

A. When we act without knowing the action and effect of objects on our senses: for example, when a man touches nettles without knowing their stinging quality, or when he swallows opium without knowing its soporiferous effects.

Q. When do they deceive us by passion?

A. When, conscious of the pernicious action of objects, we abandon ourselves, nevertheless, to the impetuosity of our desires and appetites: for example, when a man who knows that wine intoxicates, does nevertheless drink it to excess.

Q. What is the result?

A. That the ignorance in which we are born, and the unbridled appetites to which we abandon ourselves, are contrary to our preservation; that, therefore, the instruction of our minds and the moderation of our passions are two obligations, two laws, which spring directly from the first law of preservation.

Q. But being born ignorant, is not ignorance a law of nature?

A. No more than to remain in the naked and feeble state of infancy. Far from being a law of nature, ignorance is an obstacle to the practice of all its laws. It is the real original sin.

Q. Why, then, have there been moralists who have looked upon it as a virtue and perfection?

A. Because, from a strange or perverted disposition, they confounded the abuse of knowledge with knowledge itself; as if, because men abuse the power of speech, their tongues should be cut out; as if perfection and virtue consisted in the nullity, and not in the proper development of our faculties.

Q. Instruction, then, is indispensable to man's existence?

A. Yes, so indispensable, that without it he is every instant assailed and wounded by all that surrounds him; for if he does not know the effects of fire, he burns himself; those of water he drowns himself; those of opium, he poisons himself; if, in the savage state, he does not know the wiles of animals, and the art of seizing game, he perishes through hunger; if in the social state, he does not know the course of the seasons, he can neither cultivate the ground, nor procure nourishment; and so on, of all his actions, respecting all his wants.

Q. But can man individually acquire this knowledge necessary to his existence, and to the development of his faculties?

A. No; not without the assistance of his fellow men, and by living in society.

Q. But is not society to man a state against nature?

A. No: it is on the contrary a necessity, a law that nature imposed on him by the very act of his organization; for, first, nature has so constituted man, that he cannot see his species of another sex without feeling emotions and an attraction which induce him to live in a family, which is already a state of society; secondly, by endowing him with sensibility, she organized him so that the sensations of others reflect within him, and excite reciprocal sentiments of pleasure and of grief, which are attractions, and indissoluble ties of society; thirdly, and finally, the state of society, founded on the wants of man, is only a further means of fulfilling the law of preservation: and to pretend that this state is out of nature, because it is more perfect, is the same as to say, that a bitter and wild fruit of the forest, is no longer the production of nature, when rendered sweet and delicious by cultivation in our gardens.

Q. Why, then, have philosophers called the savage state the state of perfection?

A. Because, as I have told you, the vulgar have often given the name of philosophers to whimsical geniuses, who, from moroseness, from wounded vanity, or from a disgust to the vices of society, have conceived chimerical ideas of the savage state, in contradiction with their own system of a perfect man.

Q. What is the true meaning of the word philosopher?

A. The word philosopher signifies a lover of wisdom; and as wisdom consists in the practice of the laws of nature, the true philosopher is he who knows those laws, and conforms the whole tenor of his conduct to them.

Q. What is man in the savage state?

A. A brutal, ignorant animal, a wicked and ferocious beast.

Q. Is he happy in that state?

A. No; for he only feels momentary sensations, which are habitually of violent wants which he cannot satisfy, since he is ignorant by nature, and weak by being isolated from his race.

Q. Is he free?

A. No; he is the most abject slave that exists; for his life depends on everything that surrounds him: he is not free to eat when hungry, to rest when tired, to warm himself when cold; he is every instant in danger of perishing; wherefore nature offers but fortuitous examples of such beings; and we see that all the efforts of the human species, since its origin, sorely tends to emerge from that violent state by the pressing necessity of self-preservation.

Q. But does not this necessity of preservation engender in individuals egotism, that is to say self-love? and is not egotism contrary to the social state?

A. No; for if by egotism you mean a propensity to hurt our neighbor, it is no longer self-love, but the hatred of others. Self-love, taken in its true sense, not only is not contrary to society, but is its firmest support, by the necessity we lie under of not injuring others, lest in return they should injure us.

Thus mans preservation, and the unfolding of his faculties, directed towards this end, teach the true law of nature in the production of the human being; and it is from this essential principle that are derived, are referred, and in its scale are weighed, all ideas of good and evil, of vice and virtue, of just and unjust, of truth or error, of lawful or forbidden, on which is founded the morality of individual, or of social man.
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