The Victoria Institute
(Selected Articles) - www.creationism.org/victoria/
By the Rev. J. H. Titcomb, M.A., M.V.I.
(Journal of 1872-73 -- pages 141 to 162)
SIR JOHN LUBBOCK, in his Origin of Civilization, lays down certain assertions respecting the religious characteristics of the races of man which are so clearly contrary to the experience and testimony of many trustworthy witnesses, that I shall devote this paper to a refutation of them. The object of that eminent writer was, as we all know, to establish the aboriginal degradation of the human family ; to prove that its first stock was not only savage in manners, but without one spark of real religious knowledge, such knowledge being gradually acquired only after ages of successive development. In order to test this, he very properly makes the whole question turn upon the nature of a belief in Deity. Thus, on page 136, he says : --
Hitherto it has been usual to classify religions according to the nature of the object worshipped : Fetichism, for instance, being the worship of inanimate objects ; Sabæism that of the heavenly bodies. The true test, however, seems to me to be the estimate in which the Deity is held.
2. Let us adopt this test. Nothing can be fairer, as a matter either of philosophical or ethnological inquiry; nor can anything, in my judgment, be more thoroughly decisive of the controversy. According to the theory of Sir John Lubbock, the first stage in the religious thought of man is one of total ignorance, and unconsciousness concerning God. This he calls Atheism, p. 136. The next stage is that in which " man supposes he can force the Deity to comply with his desires." This he calls Fetichism. The third stage is that in which " natural objects, trees, lakes, stones, animals, &c., are worshipped." This he calls Totemism, The fourth stage is that in which " the superior deities are far more powerful than man, and of a different nature, and whose places of abode are far off." This he calls Shamanism. The fifth stage is that in which the gods take the nature of man, but are still far more powerful, being regarded, however, as amenable to persuasion. These gods are a part of nature, but not creators, and are represented by idols. This he calls Anthropomorphism or Idolatry. The sixth stage is that in which the Deity is considered, " not merely a part of nature, but the author of nature ; and, for the first time, becomes a really supernatural being." The last stage is that in which "morality is associated with religion" (p. 137).
3. Now, according to this sort of graduated religiousness, the measure of which follows an ascending, not descending scale of growth, we have a right to demand some visible exposition of such line of growth wherever we prosecute historical or ethnological research. For example, we have a right to expect that no morality will be found associated with religious belief in any nation before the development of Totemism and Anthropomorphism, or Idolatry. Again, that no idea of one Supreme and Supernatural Deity will appear until after all the previous lower stages have been first traversed. In view, therefore, of the fact that some of these higher and lower stages of religious belief often actually co-exist in the same age, and among the same people, we have to trace, as far as possible, which of them has had historical priority. Sir John Lubbock--assuming what he desires to prove, rather than proving it--slips into the following easy observation:--
Where man, either by natural progress or by the influence of a more advanced race, rises to the conception of a higher religion, he still retains his old beliefs, which linger on side by side with, and yet in utter opposition to, the higher creed. The new and more powerful spirit is an addition to the old Pantheon, and diminishes the importance of the older deities ; gradually the worship of the latter sinks in the social scale, and becomes confined to the ignorant and the young.
4. Remarks like these glide easily from the pen of a ready writer; but you will observe that they consist entirely of assertion. The fact of a contemporaneous mingling together of higher and lower beliefs in certain countries justifies us in making no a priori conclusion as to which came first in point of order. According to the dogmatic statement of Sir John Lubbock, a transfer from inferior to superior faith has been universal. But is this opinion historical? Do the evidences furnished by ethnological research confirm this view? Taking the higher or lower estimates of belief in a Deity as the crucial test of this great question, what do facts proclaim concerning it?
5. Such are the inquiries which I propose to prosecute in the present paper.
6. One instance of a contemporary co-existence of higher and lower religious belief is to be seen in Madagascar, where the natives, though they were found in the 17th century worshipping their departed ancestors, and reverencing charms and idols, yet possessed the knowledge of a Supreme and Supernatural Deity, whose attributes directly connected religion with morality. Robert Drury, who was shipwrecked upon Madagascar in 1702, and remained there as a slave till 1717, and whose narrative is universally received as trustworthy, tells us that the name by which this Supreme Being is known signifies "the Lord above," between whom and mankind there are four mediators. Now this, according to Sir John Lubbock's theory, marks a high and later development of religious belief, which could only have been reached after a passage through the lower stages of savagery. We have a right, therefore, to expect some historical proof of this order of sequence; or evidence, at least, of some sort, beyond the bare assertion of such a statement. So far from this, however, while the worthy baronet quotes Robert Drury with evident satisfaction in order to bring out the present more debased features of the Malagassy native religion, he entirely suppresses Drury's testimony just quoted. Which, then, came first--the baser or the purer faith? Was this higher religious belief attained by progress, or was it the remnant of some nobler creed lost by degradation? Dismissing all hasty speculation and unsafe generalization, let us endeavour to see what conclusions we may draw from actual facts. Of course, in a country which has neither history nor monuments, and where even traditions of the past are vague, it would be unsafe to look for facts in that direction. The only other source of evidence thereupon lies in those old proverbs and ancient sayings which come down through successive generations in almost all countries as a kind of moral inheritance from the past. Aristotle speaks of proverbs, e.g., as " fragments of an elder wisdom, which, on account of their brevity and aptness, have been preserved amidst wreck and ruin."* But are there such proverbs in Madagascar? And if so, do they bear testimony to the priority of Fetichism and Totemism, or to that of purer and nobler faith? One of their proverbs runs thus:--" Do not consider the secret valley, for God is overhead;" in which the truth of Divine Omniscience is evidently recognized. Another recognizes the Supreme Deity as Ruler and Disposer of events : --" The wilfulness of man can be borne by the Creator; for God alone bears rule." Another says : " Better be guilty with men than guilty before God ;" which directly implies a belief both in Divine Holiness and Justice. Now you will bear in mind that these are not modern sayings which have resulted from missionary labour, but old and indigenous, and common throughout the country, older far than the present idolatrous system of Madagascar, which is of comparatively modern date, some of their idols having been introduced within the memory of the people who were living at the time when our first missionaries entered the island.† Thus we have clear evidence of a primeval Monotheism underlying a subsequent degradation of religious belief in Madagascar, the higher coming first, and the lower being brought out afterwards,--a discovery which is the very opposite to the assertion so dogmatically laid down by Sir John Lubbock and others of the same school. ‡
7. Let it not be thought that in using this language I am more anxious to snatch an argumentative triumph, or to defend a theological position, than to search honestly and dispassionately after truth. On the contrary, it seems to me that this is just the snare into which that particular school of which Sir John Lubbock stands forth as so able an exponent is in danger of falling ; for, carried away by another line of evidence into those distant regions of antiquity where man's remains lie embedded amidst marks of primeval barbarism, that school seems incapable of tolerating any opposite opinion. Hence, when questions of aboriginal belief come up for discussion, a theory such as that presented in the opening of this paper is arbitrarily framed, in order to harmonize with the supposed savage origin of man; and pains are not sufficiently taken to make a careful inquiry into other facts of the case which might possibly tend to overthrow that theory. In other words, this school of thought, when looking upon the condition of barbarous nations, instinctively seize hold of their grosser superstitions, and unconsciously disregard any underlying proofs of their having had a higher aboriginal faith indicative of some primeval moral civilization. Thus, Sir John Lubbock, when speaking of the Kaffirs, not only affirms that there is no appearance of any religious worship among them,* but quotes the following testimony of a Zulu :--
Our knowledge does not urge us to search out the roots of religion ; we do not try to see them ; if any one thinks ever so little, he soon gives it up, and passes on to what he sees with his eyes.¥
The object of the writer is to express the almost innate incapacity of these Zulus to hold any religious belief, and so to place them on the lowest line of his programme, viz. Atheism. Yet the present Bishop of Natal, in a paper published during 1855, says :--
Like other Kaffirs, the Zulus have no idols, and it has been a common charge against them that they have no gods. I know not what may be the case with the frontier Kaffirs, but the Zulus have certainly two distinct names for a Supreme Being, viz. Unkulunkulu, or " The Great, Great One," equivalent to "Almighty"; and Unvelinganga, or "The First Outcomer," equivalent to the " First Essence." They spoke of Him to me repeatedly, and quite of their own accord, as " The Maker of all things and of all men."
Such was the testimony of the Bishop in 1855, exhibiting a state of things which is" totally at variance with the allegation that these Kaffirs are without any religious conceptions. Sir J. Lubbock does not quote this evidence. On the contrary, he makes an effort to show, from a separate source, that Unkulunkulu is merely the name of the first man--the Zulu Adam, in fact,--and that it is not the name of a Deity at all.* I prefer the testimony, however, of such a man as Bishop Colenso on this point, whose bitterest enemy could not even charge with any undue amount of credulity in matters of religious belief.
8. Now I ask, whence this higher conception of faith, in the midst of all other kinds of religious unconsciousness ? According to my opponent, there are only two replies : 1. It may have been gradually attained through successive stages of progress. But, if so, where are the proofs of that progress? We have the phenomena presented to us here of nothing except the highest and lowest terms in Sir J. Lubbock's series of religious beliefs ; the interval, which ought to be filled up with Fetichism, Totemism, Shamanism, and Idolatry, being a complete blank. Or, 2. It may have come through the influence of a more advanced race. But, if so, where are the proofs of that influence? Is it natural, or even possible, that this advanced race should have impressed upon these savages their own intellectual conceptions of the Deity, and yet have left them no other heritage of civilization? Every reasonable evidence of this Prehistoric Monotheism among the Kaffirs, therefore, is in favour of its underlying rather than overlying their present barbarism; and so far bears witness to their having been aboriginally possessed of a higher culture.
9. The same may be said of the Dyaks of Borneo, who have no system of idolatry, and in many respects appear to have no sense of religion, † Yet the writer of Life in the Forests of the far East, who lived long in Borneo and knew it well, says :--
They have a firm, though not clear belief in the existence of one Supreme Being, who is above all and over all. In fact, all my inquiries among the wild tribes of Borneo confirm me in the opinion that they believe in a Supreme Being. ‡
Now this being so, I ask whence did they derive so high a conception of faith? If they gained it according to Sir John Lubbock's theory of progressive stages in religious belief, where are the intermediate links ? Or if they obtained it from contact with a race superior to themselves, why do we find no other marks of civilization among them? A careful consideration of the case seems to leave us no other conclusion than that this form of Prehistoric Monotheism simply remains among them, in the midst of all their barbarism, as an indelible remnant of that higher aboriginal culture, from which in the course of ages they have so sadly degenerated.
10. To show that I do not unduly press this argument, and that Sir John Lubbock really does enforce the necessity of idol-worship entering into a nation as a stage of religious belief, before morality is connected with religion, thereby excluding all anterior possibility of a Monotheistic faith, let it be observed that, after describing the lowest or Atheistic stage, he goes on to speak, on page 242, of religion being " greatly raised in importance" by Fetichism; afterwards, on page 248, he adds, " The next stage in religious progress is that which may be called Totemism:" he then says, on page 252, " As Totemism overlies Fetichism, so does Shamanism overlie Totemism;" and subsequently, on page 256, he tells us, " The worship of idols characterizes a somewhat higher stage of human development." It is not till he has crept up to page 291 that he discovers that highest stage of all, when there enters belief in a " Beneficent and Just Being," who connects Morality and Religion. Hence, if words mean anything, the whole theory of Sir John Lubbock must stand or fall by the place which Prehistoric Monotheism occupies in the order of religious beliefs. I say prehistoric; for if it were a matter of clear authentic history, there would be no dispute about it. The entire discussion consists in our fairly grappling with those loose and disjointed evidences which crop up here and there, either among those savage nations which have no history at all, or else among those anciently civilized nations which flourished before authentic history begins.
11. Let us turn to this latter class, commencing with the ancient Chinese empire. Sir John Lubbock, quoting Astley, says :--
It is observable that there is not to be found in the Chinese canonical books the least footstep of idolatrous worship, till the image of Fo was brought from China several ages after Confucius (p. 258).
This is true. In proof of it I may mention that there exists in China a very ancient work, called Pokootoo, comprising sixteen volumes, which, though they contain several hundred pictures of jugs, vases, and bottles", of the Shang, Chow, and Han dynasties, comprehending a period of 1784 years b.c. (no small portion of them being intended for use on the altars), yet there is not found one vessel in that work with an idolatrous mark upon it. Such being the case, it ought to be impossible for us to discover any abstract conceptions of a deity during that period, or, at all events, any which connect a Supernatural Being with the principles of religious morality. Nevertheless, in Shoo-king, the second of the Chinese sacred books, which Confucius remodelled out of older documents, allusion is made no less than thirty-eight times to some great Power or Being, called Shang-te, which means " August or Sovereign Ruler." * Moreover, as there depicted, this Shang-te has heavenly chiefs underneath him, who are presidents of heaven, and earth, and the sea; and the people are enjoined to worship Him as the Sovereign Lord of Heaven. In opposition to this statement it is said that the modern Chinese regard the Shang-te as a name for the mere material heaven, which they worship as a kind of animated deity. That fact, however, furnishes no just argument as to the correct interpretation of what Confucius taught in his edition of the ancient Shoo-king, and still less as to what its original principles consisted in. Indeed, the language of that work leaves it almost impossible for us to regard Shang-te as a mere "anima mundi," ever giving the processes of nature, and receiving worship only as a collective embodiment of all the spirits; for to Him especially was ordained the sacrifice Lobe, while other sacrifices were separately offered to the spirits of the mountains, rivers, &c. Besides which, He is described as possessing personally a high measure of intelligence; and as exercising some degree of moral government, " punishing the evil and rewarding the good."† Now this form of thought is totally at variance with the later notions of the Chinese, which treat the essence of the Divine Being as an unintelligent, will-less principle. And it is quite as much at variance with Sir John Lubbock's theory, which makes the belief in a Supreme Personal Deity impossible before an age of Idolatry.
12. Nor is this the only testimony as to the contents of the Shoo-king, and the doctrine of Confucius; for Bellamy, in his History of all Religions,‡ quotes one part of the Shoo-king, in which there is the following significant description of God: --
Independent Almighty, a Being who knows all things ; the secrets of the heart not hidden from Him.
In which few words, you will observe, are comprehended the perfections of the one Supreme Deity. To the same effect spoke Confucius:--
Heaven has not two suns ; earth has not two kings ; a family has not two masters ; sovereign power has not two directors. There is one God, and one Emperor.
In which words it is idle to say that the Divine Being described is an impersonal, unintelligent essence. Language like this is indicative of a knowledge of true Monotheism, which, however it may have been gradually mixed up with pantheistic ideas, or subsequently lost in a host of idolatrous conceptions, is quite sufficient to prove that, in the sequence of religious beliefs, the higher was not evolved from the lower, but preceded and underlaid it.
13. Let us now pass to ancient India. Speaking of the modern Hindoos, Sir J. Lubbock reminds us that they pay honour to almost every living creature. " The cow, the ape, the eagle, and the serpent receive the highest honours; but the tiger, elephant, horse, stag, sheep, hog, dog, cat, rat, peacock, chameleon, lizard, tortoise, fish, and even insects, have been made objects of worship." All this is very true, and we might ourselves add very much more. It is a land of ultra-polytheistic degradation. Its gods are numbered by millions. It would have been more to the purpose of his own argument, however, if Sir John Lubbock had shown that, while the Fetichism, the Shamanism, and the idolatries of India had been growing during twenty centuries, the age preceding that period was one of Atheistic belief or of total religious unconsciousness. That is the position which he has laid down* as the natural origin of civilization, and he is bound in consistency to maintain it.
14. Yet nothing can be further from the truth. Moreover, it is a truth so universally known, that it seems incomprehensible to me how a man of Sir John Lubbock's attainments could have refused to anticipate the rejoinder of his critics, and to say something at least upon the subject by way of self-justification. For every student of philosophy and ethnology is aware that, although the earliest Hindu worship was that of nature, yet it was not the sun, nor moon, nor fire, nor water, which were worshipped as things material, but only as the emblems or abodes of one Supreme Being, towards whom the hearts of all worshippers should be turned.
The Polytheism of these Vedas, says Creuzer, is dissolved into Mono-theism.†
The very vastness of the Hindoo mythology obliges it to be inconsistent. It is an effort to represent a Being who can only be grasped by an infinite thought. Were it consistent, its failure would be still more signal, the many being but fractions of the one, and this one an infinite spirit. It therefore takes refuge in poetry, and struggles to utter, by luxuriant similitudes, what language cannot with accuracy express.*
Coleman, in his Hindoo Mythology, says the same thing (p. 1):--
The early writers exhaust language in endeavours to express the lofty character and attributes, and the superlative power and dignity of this great unity--the highest conception of which man is capable. He is spoken of as " The Almighty, Infinite, Eternal, Incomprehensible, Self-existent Being--He who sees everything, though never seen--He who is not to be compassed by description--He from whom the universe proceeds--who rules supreme --the Light of all lights--whose power is too infinite to be imagined--the One Being--the True and Unknown brahm."
The Rig-Veda is generally acknowledged to be about 3,000 years old. It is a collection of prayers and hymns. One prayer runs thus:--
May my soul, which mounts aloft in my waking hours as an ethereal spark, and which, even in my slumber has a like ascent, soaring to a great distance as an emanation of the Light of lights, be united by devout meditation with the Spirit supremely high and supremely intelligent.t
And in one of its hymns on Creation, the same Infinite Spirit is thus
"Who knows, and shall declare when and why
This creation (ever) took place?
The gods are subsequent to the production of the world,
Who, then, can know from whence
This varied world comes?
He, who in highest heaven is Ruler does know :
But not another can possess that knowledge.
15. I will only give one other illustration, taken from the Bhagavet Geeta, which is an episode in the great national poem called the Mahabharatta, and is certainly between two and three thousand years old. In this part of the poem Arjun, the hero, is addressed in the following language :--
I am the Creator of all things, and all things proceed from me. I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things ; I am time ; I am all-grasping death ; and I am renovation.
Arjun, in pious ecstasy, exclaims :--
Reverence, reverence be unto Thee a thousand times repeated. Again and again reverence. 0 thou who art all in all ! Infinite in Thy power and glory ! Thou art the Father of all things animate and inanimate. There is none like unto Thee.
16. I am quoting this as pure Monotheism. Those who are familiar with the translation of these ancient Hindu writings must be well aware that they strangely combine both Pantheism and Monotheism ; and that all their pantheistic idealism is more or less polytheistic also. But, though this be the case, they are nevertheless devoid of that deformed and debased animal-worship which afterwards came into usage, and which we still see everywhere throughout Hindustan. So far from this, the Rig-Veda shows us that the character of the early Hindu people was one which craved after things unseen and eternal. Dissatisfied with this transitory existence, they sought a world without change, and endeavoured to grasp the Infinite. And though the elements and powers of nature personified were the first gods of the Aryan race, the minds of the worshippers passed beyond those material and external objects into the One Supreme Spirit who nourished nature in Himself.*
17. From whence, then, I ask, were these high and lofty conceptions of religious faith derived? According to Sir John Lubbock's programme, they represent a late phase in the development of civilization; and they ought to have been preceded by a series of changes, beginning with Atheism and Fetichism. As to what preceded the Hindu Vedas, we know nothing. All we can say is, that the earliest dawn of Aryan mythology presents us with a far finer faith in Supernatural Deity than the wearisome ages which succeeded it; and that, consequently, the modern theory of man's degraded origin so far breaks down under the light of prehistoric Monotheism.
18. From ancient India, let us now pass to that of Egypt. In this country we have the singular phenomenon presented to us of an idolatrous system of animal-worship which not only did not precede any purer faith in times of less perfect civilization, but appears to have been gradually evolved out of that purer faith as its visible exponent and delineator. Wilkinson observes that the fundamental doctrine of ancient Egypt was the Unity of the Deity; but that, inasmuch as the attributes of that Deity were represented under positive forms, there arose a multitude of deified objects.* Plutarch gives an illustration of this in regard to the worship of the crocodile, telling us, according to the notions of those days, that as that creature had its eyes covered over by a thin transparent membrane, by means of which, though living in the water, it could see, and yet not be seen, it was taken as a representation of the Invisible and Omniscient God.† Ex uno disce omnes. The instances which might be adduced are numberless.
19. It may possibly be contended that high conceptions of the Deity like these were after-thoughts of a more advanced age, which deeper thinkers skilfully fitted in to previous superstitions with a view to redeem them from their grossness. But, however ingenious such an idea may be, in order to make the theory of Sir John Lubbock and his school go on all-fours, I beg to recall those gentlemen from theory to fact, and from speculation to reason.
20. Nothing can be clearer than that the earliest gods of Egypt, although they were symbolically represented as hawk-headed, ram-headed, or frog-headed, were nevertheless worshipped under human forms. The monuments prove this. The further subdivision of representative deities under the figures of animals was the effect of a later religious development, resulting in part from pantheistic and in part from intellectual movements; and against which the minds of some of the Egyptians revolted, as being opposed to the honour of that One Supreme Deity which had been before figuratively venerated under the higher forms of anthropomorphism. Thus Plutarch says of the people of Thebes, that--
Whilst other Egyptians paid their proportion of tax imposed upon them for the nourishment of sacred animals worshipped by them, the inhabitants of Thebes refused, because they acknowledged no mortal god, and only worshipped Him whom they called Kneph, the unmade and Eternal Deity.‡
Professor Rawlinson speaks rightly when he says :--
The deity once divided, there was no limit to the number of Ms attributes of various kinds, and of different grades ; and in Egypt everything that partook of the divine essence became a god. Emblems were added to the catalogue; and though not really deities, they called forth feelings of respect, which the ignorant could not distinguish from actual worship. §
Well might the more polished Thebans, therefore, protest against such additions, by refusing to pay taxes for their support, especially in view of such noble relics of the earlier empire as those presented in Memphis and its neighbourhood, where the temples often contained statues which prompted worshippers to silence and stillness, and taught the secret and incomprehensible nature of the Supreme God ; and on which inscriptions were read like that in the temple of Isis at Sais--"I am all that hath been, is, and shall be; and no man hath uncovered my veil,"*--reminding those who drew near to Him that there was a unity and eternity in the Supreme Being which no mortal man could fathom.
21. Egypt lent her best thoughts to the early Greeks, such as Thales, Pythagoras, and others. We may therefore expect to read the same refined conceptions of Deity in the fragmentary remains of the philosophers which have been handed down to us. And so we do. Thales, who lived in the 5th century b.c., held a sort of Pantheistic-Monotheism, declaring, on the one hand, "All things are full of God; and on the other, "God is the oldest of all things because He is unmade."† Pythagoras spoke more plainly--" God is One, and All-in-All; the Light of all power; the Beginning of all things; the Father, Life, Mind, and Motion of the universe." His whole school held Mind to be the first great cause. The Eleatic school, which followed, spoke still more distinctly. Xenophanes, the founder of this school, declared that " God was an Infinite Being, unlike man in shape and thought, being all sight, and ear, and intelligence." ‡ Passing onward, we come to Plato, whose language was more unmistakably monotheistic. He speaks of " the Architect of the world "--" the Sovereign Mind which orders all things "--" the Greatest of the Gods "--" He that produceth all other things, and even Himself;" thus bringing out the doctrine of a Supreme Deity who was self-existent.
22. It will, of course, be contended that all these splendid conceptions of Deity were the result of an intellectual development following those lower forms of Polytheism which appear in the Pantheisms of Homer and Hesiod. In some respects, no doubt, they were the growth of ideal truth. But if this observation be intended to assert that there was no Monotheistic faith underlying the earlier Polytheism of the nation, then I meet it by a quotation from Aristotle, Plato's greatest pupil, who refutes it in language which absolutely crushes and overwhelms this objection of our 19th century speculators. Had Aristotle been gifted with a spirit of prophecy, and desired to rebut the ethnological philosophy of Sir John Lubbock, he could not possibly have written words which more completely tear into shreds his entire theory and programme of ancient religious beliefs. Aristotle says :--
It has been handed down to us from very ancient times that the stars are gods ; besides that supreme Deity which contains the whole of nature. But all the other things were fabulously added; for the better persuasion of the multitude, and for utility of human life and political ends, to keep men in obedience to civil laws. As, for example, that the gods are of human form, or like to other animals.*
23. Two things come out from this language which I think it impossible to gainsay. First: That a belief in one Supreme Deity had been handed down from remote antiquity, and was the general persuasion of the civilized Greeks. Secondly : That all the observations of this higher conception of Deity, either by anthropomorphous or animal idolatry, had been simply additions to that primitive Monotheism. Thus Aristotle turns the theory of Sir John Lubbock bottom upwards ; and, instead of making man in remote ages a blind and degraded savage, who lived in a state of atheistic unconcern, and then by degrees crawled into the light through Fetichism, Totemism, &c., he looked upon remote antiquity as handing down the superior light, and upon later generations as obscuring and disfiguring it.
24. I know not whether it is necessary for me to add more. If it were, I might easily double or treble the length of this paper, which has already grown sufficiently long. I might take you into ancient Scandinavia, of whose inhabitants Mallet, in his work on the Northern nations of Europe, says :--
The most ancient mythology taught the being of a Supreme God, master of the universe, to whom all things were obedient and submissive ; called in the old Icelandic literature, Author of everything that exists, the Eternal, the Being that never changeth.
I might take you to ancient Mexico, of which Prescott writes:--
The Aztecs recognized the existence of one Supreme Creator, and Lord of the universe ; addressing him as "the Omnipresent," that knoweth all thoughts, and giveth all gifts, invisible, incorporeal, under whose wings we find sure repose and defence.
I might take you among many tribes in America, of whom Squier, in his Archæological Researches, says :--
The attributes given to the Supreme Spirit in whom they believe are not less lofty than those assigned to the Indian Brahm. They seldom mention His name, and then with the greatest reverence.
25. But why should I enter further upon these topics? Enough has surely been said to prove both the truth of Prehistoric Monotheism and its inevitable tendency to overthrow the modern ethnological dogma of the aboriginal savagery of man. If this conclusion falls in with the teaching of Scripture, it is satisfactory to know that we have used no Scriptural evidence in order to establish it. We have merely dealt with facts--facts which ought to be well considered by a class of students who are disposed, on other considerations, to overlook them. That the evidence which has been here adduced, although brief and compressed in its character, may induce our opponents to reflect upon their position, and at least pay greater respect to those who differ from them, has been one great object of the author in writing this paper for the Victoria Institute.
The Chairman.--I am sure we have listened with very great interest to the able exposition of this subject which has just been addressed to us. I think we must all feel great satisfaction that the points which have been elsewhere raised, and which are so entirely subversive of all our ideas of the progress of religious belief, have been thus controverted and refuted, and I feel assured that you will join with me in a cordial vote of thanks to Mr. Titcomb. I will repeat what I have already stated, that as this paper directly controverts the opinions of Sir John Lubbock, who was invited to be present here to-night, in order that he might speak for himself. We shall now be happy to hear any observations that either members of the Institute or visitors may wish to make.
Dr. E. Haughton.--The point which it has occurred to me to bring forward is in reference to the statement made by those who hold Sir John Lubbock's views, that the Dyaks, Zulus, various African tribes, and the natives of Patagonia, have no religious belief at all, with which I cannot agree, for it always seems to me that those persons who assert that particular tribes have no religious belief, put themselves into a particularly difficult position, because they undertake to prove a negative,--asserting, because they have not found a particular thing, that therefore that particular thing does not exist. It is just as though some one were to say : " I undertake to prove that such and such a murder has not taken place, because I did not see it happen, nor do I know any one who did." But the instances which are adduced in the paper before us go to show the proper way of dealing with these objections, because it appears that both these tribes--both Dyaks and Zulus--have a much better notion of religious belief than has been generally attributed to them. I have read something about the Dyaks, and they appear to have a very strong opinion upon the subject; for when ten missionaries went to Borneo to preach Christianity, a deputation of the natives waited upon them, and suggested that as the missionaries were only ten in number, it would be better for them to cease creating a disturbance and commotion by preaching novel doctrines, and to at once adopt the religion of the Dyaks, when they would all be able to get along comfortably and peacefully together. (Laughter.) That looks as if the Dyaks, instead having no religious belief at all, had a very strong one. It will be found in the case of many savage tribes, that the notion of their having no knowledge of the Deity arises from the want of proper information as to their customs, habits, and feelings.
Mr, I. T. Prichard.--I would like to ask one question. I have not read Sir John Lubbock's book, and wish to know whether he makes the assertion that anywhere, in any part of the world, so far as our researches have gone, there has been found any race possessing no idea of a God 2
Rev. J. H. Titcomb.--Oh yes. He makes that assertion most distinctly.
Mr. Prichard.--Then I think it is a matter for extreme regret that he is not here to-night to support his views by argument; because, so far as my researches, or reading go, I have never, that I can recollect, come across a single instance of the kind. I do not know of a single tribe, in any part of the world, that has been altogether without some knowledge of the Deity. The most barbarous races that I ever heard of, and the most debased--those tribes, for instance, which are to be found in the northern part of Asia, in the wildest parts of Siberia--clearly have some notion of a Supreme Being. I remember reading the old travels of the Jesuits who passed through that country several hundred years ago, and who described the condition of the people ; and there was clearly an idea of the Deity among the rudest of these people. Certainly the worship was very rude, but it was a worship of the Supreme Being. The only ceremony connected with it that they had any idea of performing was the sacrifice of a horse or some other animal; that creature they would kill, and then they would suspend portions of the carcase upon the trees of the forest for a certain time, and pay them a certain amount of veneration; after which they would devour them. That is an example of the greatest debasement I ever read of in any country in the world. Among books of travel, I give the first place to the Abbe Hue's travels in China; but the next place I give unquestionably to a book by an American gentleman connected with the electric telegraph, called "Tent Life in Siberia." He left California, and travelled over part of Siberia, which was a terra incognita, where he fell in with many wandering Koraks, who are the natives of those regions ; and he says most clearly and distinctly that they have an idea of the Deity; he mentions a display of the Aurora Borealis, and the feelings with which those people regarded the phenomenon, proving distinctly that they had a very strong feeling about the existence of God. I repeat that it is to my great astonishment that so learned and well-known a man as Sir John Lubbock could possibly have made the assertion which I am told he has. With regard to the question of the "ancient Hindoo mythology, to which I have paid more attention than to any other of the points now before us, I can corroborate the arguments of Mr. Titcomb on that subject. That mythology is now very much debased, and a school has sprung up among the Hindoos who revert to the original mythological belief of the Vedas ; but the present worship is derived from books called the Purans, written at present in Hindee, though some of the older ones were possibly written in Sanscrit. These books constitute the scriptures of the present Hindoos, and they contain quaint stories of demons and gods, and genii; but the original religion of the Hindoos was something very different, and I cannot conceive any nearer approach to inspiration, that the mind of man is capable of making by its own efforts, than the religious philosophy of the Vedas, and the belief of the most ancient Hindoos. The idea of the Deity contained in the older forms of religion is a grand conception, but the present Hindoo religion is extremely debased. If we go to the Mahommedans, who occupy so large a portion of the religious world, we all know that one of the main purposes of Mahomet was to overthrow, as far as he could, the idolatry that had arisen in Arabia; and his efforts were the outcome of the purer growth of Monotheism which had existed before. I can only repeat my regret that we cannot hear Sir John Lubbock to-night, because he seems to me to have taken up a position which is quite untenable, (Cheers.)
Mr. Titcomb.--As I have attacked Sir John Lubbock, it is only fair that I should so far defend him as to say that he is not without warrant in his assertion that the testimony of others is in his favour. In pages 141 and 142 of his book, he says that there is the testimony of various travellers to the point, and he quotes Robertson, who, speaking of America, says that several tribes had been discovered there with no idea of religion. At the same time, I quite agree with Mr. Prichard in not believing the assertion to be a statement of fact.
Dr. J. A. Fraser.--As no one will defend Sir John Lubbock, I may be allowed to say that I do not think Mr. Titcomb's paper goes into the pre-historical question, for all its arguments are drawn from historical times. We have references to the Aztecs and to the Scandinavians'; but these peoples were surely within reach of history in one sense of the term, and certainly the civilized Greeks, and even the Egyptians, are.
Rev. C. A. ROW.--Sir John Lubbock refers to all these nations in his book.
Dr. Fraser.--But they are not pre-historical. I quite believe that, so far as historical times are concerned, the farther back we go, the more monotheistic does religion become. Now Sir John Lubbock says :--
"The new and more powerful spirit is an addition to the old Pantheon, and diminishes the importance of the older deities ; gradually the worship of the latter sinks in the social scale, and becomes confined to the ignorant and the young."
I think that that is a most questionable statement. It seems to me that if we look back to what history tells us, we shall find that the older worship diminished in popularity, and in the belief of the great mass of the people ; it became confined rather to the initiated and the learned, and that was a step which was certainly retrogressive, and not advancing. In one passage, reference is made to Unkulunkulu, described by Sir John Lubbock as the Zulu Adam. But it should be borne in mind that one of the earliest forms of worship that we can trace is that of deified man. There, at any rate, you have but one being worshipped under the form of man, it is true, for the savages knew no other being but man, and therefore they made him into a god; so that, even going back so far as that, we still have the monotheistic idea. Then, if we take the religions of Babylon and Assyria, Sir Henry Rawlinson tells us that the purest form of their worship is dualism. No doubt there were two principles,--that of good and that of evil ; but the evil principle very rarely appears. He is only alluded to once in the ancient inscriptions which have been found, whereas the principle of good is constantly alluded to. While the principle of good, Ormuzd, is very generally found, Ahriman, the principle of evil, occurs only once ; and that shows that the form of worship was certainly not polytheistic. My main objection, however, to Mr. Titcomb's paper is that it does not go far enough back, and I have no doubt that would be Sir John Lubbock's answer to it; that he is referring all the time to a far more remote period than any dealt with in this paper.
Mr. ROW.--I have not read Sir John Lubbock's book very lately. I own that the term " pre-historic " is somewhat misapplied, seeing that a great deal of its illustrations are derived from historic times. The general principle of Sir John Lubbock's work seems to be this: to go over the whole of the existing savage races and to infer, from the theology of the savage races which now exist, what was the theology of the earliest races which do not now exist. If the inquiry be simply as to what opinions were held by prehistoric man, the inquiry, in one sense, would bo absurd, because if we have no history we cannot tell what the people believed,--that is inevitable. (Laughter.) But I wonder at the logic of Sir John Lubbock. No doubt it is possible to travel over all the existing savage races of mankind, and reduce their various religious beliefs into such a system as Sir John Lubbock has propounded, which has seven branches. No doubt you can systematize the absurd beliefs of savage races in this way if you like, but it by no means follows that you are therefore entitled to invert the cone, so to speak, and to say that atheism was the earliest form of belief in the mind of the first original savage, and that religious belief went on developing itself upwards in a continually improving form, until we come at last to pure monotheism. This seems to me to be vicious reasoning, and I do not understand on what principle a man is entitled to take the existing beliefs of savage races, to range them in his own order, and then to say " The order in which I have arranged these beliefs is the order in which they sprang into being, from the beginning of man down to the present day." (Cheers.) I cannot see on what principle such an inference could possibly be maintained. There are a great number of things of this kind on which Sir John Lubbock bases his theory, and there are many instances quoted in his book in support of his argument; but still, with respect even to the present races of mankind, it is difficult for strangers going among savages to form any correct estimate of their religious beliefs. Nothing is more difficult, and it is not likely to conduce to the discovery of truth, to take up a number of reports which many people of various degrees of accuracy have made--many of them being quite unsupported-- and then to draw a conclusion from them. It would be more to the purpose to find out what were the earliest beliefs of historical man to which there is something like testimony. I cannot suppose that there was any law which regulated beliefs in prehistoric times in a different manner from the way in which they have been ruled in historical times ; and if you cannot prove in historical times that religious beliefs advance from low to higher forms, I do not see why you are to adopt another view in the case of prehistoric times. If I can show that there is a tendency in historical times to descend from higher to lower forms, then I conceive I am not entitled to say that a contrary process went on in prehistoric times.
Why is it that in historical times religious beliefs have retrograded ? for it is a fact that they have done so. We can appeal to the universal voice of history and show that a great number of beliefs, which we can prove to have existed in the earlier periods, have, instead of developing themselves from low to high, taken the opposite direction, and descended from high to low. Mr. Titcomb is well acquainted with the religion of Egypt, and who can doubt that the earlier theism of the Egyptians was not much more perfect than the religion which existed in the historic times of the Ptolemies and even during the first three centuries of our era, when it was one of the most degraded forms of polytheism known upon the earth? It is certain that there was a higher form of religion in the earlier ages. In the same way, you can turn to India, and you can fairly assert that the earlier forms of Hindoo belief approached far more nearly to monotheism than they did later on ; and that, instead of a development of improvement, they underwent one of retrogression. Of course, if all religions are subject to laws of development, I suppose that persons who hold these views consider that the Jewish and the Christian religions are both subject to the same laws, and I am fairly entitled to argue with them on their own ground. Let me ask, Were not the earlier forms of Judaism much higher and more elevated than the Judaism that existed in the time of our Lord; and, in one word, whether Judaism has invariably developed itself upwards or in an opposite direction? Take another example--that of the Christian church itself--because I assume that I am now reasoning with people who say that both Judaism and Christianity are of natural growth. If you look through the history of the Christian church, you will see that Christian theology often had a great tendency to develop itself in a wrong direction. I ask you whether the Christianity of the New Testament is not of a very different kind, and of a much higher development, than the Christianity of the middle ages ; and whether out of the pure monotheism of the Bible there has not been a tendency to develop into polytheism 1 I do not deny that religions sometimes exhibit a tendency to grow upwards, but as a general rule their tendency is downwards ; and certainly a more rational mode of constructing a history of religion in prehistoric times would be to argue from the known to the unknown, and not from the unknown to the known. (Cheers.) It gives us a fine opportunity for speculation when we get into the unknown and the intangible, but I prefer the known, and my process of reasoning would be to take the reverse course from that pursued by Sir John Lubbock. I do not think there is any fairness in assuming that religion began in its lowest form and gradually advanced to higher forms in prehistoric times; and it seems to me to involve several very serious assumptions before you can arrive at any such conclusion. Sir John Lubbock has much to say about witchcraft and ghosts, and so forth; but I believe that in the most civilized countries you could pick up many other similar matters, and arrange them in a similar manner. It is remarkable that a vast amount of superstition prevails in every country. There is also a great deal about charms and things of that kind in Sir John Lubbock's book; but we all know that a belief in such obtains even in our own day. We have heard of witches, and magic spells, and " charms." These things exist in most countries, and from such you could construct a theory quite as good as Sir John Lubbock has constructed as to the beliefs of uncivilized man. (Cheers.)
Rev. G. Percy Badger.--I should like to say one word on this subject. How Sir John Lubbock or any one can know what the religion of prehistoric times was, I am at a perfect loss to conceive. Such monumental evidence as we have of the earliest times, is rather in favour of the religion of that period being monotheistic than in favour of its being polytheistic. Take, for example, Tsabaism:--and to show how people, and often very learned people, make great mistakes in trying to get acquainted with the religion of foreign countries, I may mention that the Greeks said that the Arabs had two gods, one of whom was called Orotalt, and the other Alilat, and they made out the latter to be Venus. Now, " Orotalt" is undoubtedly a corruption of the Arabic Allâh-Ta'âlah, the Most High God, a title then, as now, given by the Arabs to the one only true God. Everybody knows that the Tsabians believed in one all-powerful God, to whom they devoted themselves, though they believed in inferior deities who dwelt in the fixed stars and planets. There is no question that Tsabaism originally was a pure monotheism. Mr. Row has spoken of Sir John Lubbock's assumptions. Now, I wonder why on earth Sir John Lubbock, or any one else who quotes Hesiod and Homer, objects to quote the Bible. (Cheers.) Is not Moses as good an authority as either of these pagan writers ? Herodotus, for instance, wrote a great deal of stupid nonsense ; yet we say we can put away all the nonsense, and sift the chaff from the wheat. For instance, he says on one occasion, that he had heard from the priests of Egypt that the waters of the Nile came from melting snow in regions farther south ; but how, he argued, could there be snow in a region where the sun was so hot that the people were blackened by it? (Laughter.) He also says that the fish in the Nile were flat-ribbed on one side of the body, because as the stream took them down they rubbed against the banks, and when they came back they rubbed themselves on the same side on the opposite bank ! As sure as you quote a heathen author of antiquity, we must fall down and worship him; but when you quote the writers of the Bible, it is thought that we had better not listen to them at all. Now I, for one, cannot see why we should not believe the cosmogony of the Bible as well as that of any heathen author, especially when we examine the cosmogonies of the latter. One thing that proves the inspiration of the Bible to me is, that in all other cosmogonies the greatest folly and nonsense is talked ; but in the Bible I find it sublimely stated that in the beginning God created all things. Now, where did Moses get that from? (Cheers.)
Mr. Row.--I ought to have mentioned, before I sat down, that there has also been a tendency to development in the wrong direction in Mahommedanism. You have a system of pure theism in the Koran, but a sect of Mahommedans have sprung up in whose belief saint-worship holds an important place. Sir John Lubbock, to have proved anything at all, should have proved that his divisions correspond with the developments and enlargements of the human intellect, but he has not attempted that at all.
Rev. T. M. Gorman.--I think the paper furnishes a striking corroboration of the truth, that Divine Revelation is the primal source of a belief in One Supreme Being. The author has indicated a source of evidence from which it may be abundantly proved that the higher we ascend in the history of nations, the more clearly the idea of One God is seen to lie at the root of their various beliefs and modes of worship. I would, however, take the liberty of observing, that the form of the argument employed does not appear to do full justice to the principles of the Christian religion, so far as they are connected with the subject. Admitting that it may be valid and useful as far as it goes, it cannot, I think, be pronounced conclusive. We shall find, if I mistake not, that in the last analysis, the fact of prehistoric monotheism (to use the language of the day) can be reasonably and permanently established only by the aid of a true Christian theology. To carry on investigations on such transcendental subjects as the origin of civilization without the light of Divine Revelation, is an impossibility. Attempts of a similar kind have been made, of late years, to give an account of the origin of species, and to determine " Man's place in Nature" by methods and processes purely scientific. When carefully scrutinized, as to their principles and results, these Essays explain nothing. They may be briefly characterized as new versions of the Oriental story of the elephant resting on the tortoise, skilfully adapted to the notions of Western nature-worshippers. The thorough investigation and analysis of such problems is a work to which the mere " light of nature " is unequal. The monotheism of the Bible, rightly understood according to the general sense of the Bible itself, will, I believe, be found in perfect harmony with the needs of human reason in the highest state of culture. In the absence of anything that can be fairly called a reason, we must refuse to surrender this position to those who differ from us. We cannot accept as arguments chance conjectures based chiefly on a purely arbitrary arrangement of certain facts, and made, apparently, in the interest of a foregone conclusion. If the whole question be made to turn upon the nature and character of belief in the Deity, then the argument of such writers as Sir John Lubbock may be moved entirely round to an opposite point. The very denial of the Supernatural and the Divine on the part of some who have been brought up and continue to live in the midst of its light, furnishes of itself a most cogent proof of the necessity of an original Revelation to man. It shows that man, in his natural state, could never arrive at a knowledge of truths pertaining to the spiritual order. It is not difficult to imagine a votary of natural science, here in London, surrounded with adverse influences of various kinds, allowing himself gradually to slide so far down the now dangerously steep incline of modern unbelief, as to arrive at last at that point where God and nature are regarded as practically identical, and in this state of worse than heathen darkness proceeding to construct fanciful hypotheses concerning the origin of civilization. Such a phenomenon, indeed, strikingly illustrates the Christian dogma of the fall of man, but sheds not a ray of light on his true origin. One extract given in this paper sufficiently indicates the stage at which sceptical speculation has arrived :--
" Hitherto it has been usual to classify religions according to the nature of the object worshipped ; Fetichism, for instance, being the worship of inanimate objects ; Sabæism that of the heavenly bodies. The true test, however, seems to me to be the estimate in which the Deity is held."
It is not a little curious to find such statements confidently made as if they were so many indisputable facts. Before blindly accepting them, one is at liberty to ask, "When did such a mode of classification become generally received among thinking men?" With whom did it originate? On what principle does it rest? Let us take this alleged " true test" of the comparative value of religions. If, by an " estimate " of the Deity, be meant the character of the idea we have of Him, then the Christian religion fairly tried by this test, rises so far superior to all other religions, as to evince its own original heavenly origin. Its cardinal doctrine, in relation to the present subject, is sufficiently explicit. It is this. There is one God who has vouchsafed to reveal Himself, from the beginning to His creatures. He is fully revealed in the Christian Scriptures in a veritable human form, so that all may know and worship Him. This idea, when once fairly grasped, suggests to the unbiassed and instructed mind stupendous conceptions of Deity and of Creation. For the Christian, the question of the origin of civilization is substantially the question of the origin of man, stated in other words. It is clear, then that reasoning which is either implicitly or explicitly non-Christian can be of no use in this matter. With respect to the real point in dispute, there is no common ground. This ought to be frankly admitted on both sides. The Christian who knows what he believes, does not fear to make this admission. The Bible, in the simplest and clearest terms, declares that " God created the heaven and the earth," and that upon this earth " He created man in His image," and that He " breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." These plain, direct, affirmative declarations must, I venture to submit, form the basis of all reasonable speculation concerning the origin of civilization. Man, thus created in God's image, may be considered to be the true origin of the Civitas Dei, whether on earth or in heaven. Until some sort of agreement be come to, with respect to these elementary principles, it seems utterly useless to engage in totally incongruous processes of reasoning on this subject. I wish to observe, however, that in what has been advanced by such writers as Sir John Lubbock, Mr. Darwin, and Professor Huxley, a clear and marked distinction ought to be taken between genuine facts of science and conjectures as to the true meaning of these facts. It should ever be borne in mind that truths of a philosophical kind belong to a sphere which is above that of mere science. In truth, the problem of the origin of civilization is one of those which, in some of its relations, transcends both science and philosophy. Students of physical science, in the present day, need to be reminded that the respective domains of science, philosophy, and theology are totally distinct, though intimately connected. The man of science, as such, is not competent to decide on questions which lie beyond the ambit of his peculiar studies. Even the philosopher, as such, cannot legitimately pronounce an opinion on matters which pertain to the sphere of spiritual and divine truth, or theology proper. Until the boundaries of these altogether distinct domains of thought are marked out with rigorous precision, and the principles peculiar to each duly subordinated, speculations on such subjects as that discussed this evening cannot but result in hopeless confusion of ideas and mere empty terms. In each of these fields of human inquiry, first principles must be clearly predetermined. Meantime, in the light of Christian philosophy we are able to say to those who differ from us, " Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship." An unknown God is practically equivalent to no God. I wish to add, in conclusion, that this privileged position of the Christian philosopher in no way conflicts with another definite doctrine of revealed religion, namely, that all sincere and humble worship--embracing whatever may be included in Sir John Lubbock's " six stages "--is accepted, in ways unknown to men, by Him who sees the heart. Thus all non-Christian forms of worship, according to the light vouchsafed, comes at last to be, in reality, a worship, in fact, of the one living and true God, who is the sole and only origin of civilization, because He is the Creator of the first man, in His own image, and the continual inspirer and preserver of all that is good and true in humanity. This view appears to me to contain the elements and basis of a truly rational monotheism. This is, I believe, the monotheism of the Bible, and furnishes, I venture to think, the true test by which to try the real value of any " estimate in which the Deity is held," especially in certain modern scientific speculations, which too often present, at least, the appearance of conscious and determined hostility to the very foundations of divinely-revealed truth.
Mr. A. V. newton.--Are we to understand the last speaker to say that monotheism had its origin in the Bible, and was not known before?
Mr. Gorman.--This question introduces a new element into the subject before the meeting, and one which it would be impossible for me now to discuss. Suffice it to say, that from the Bible itself it may be shown that the Word, or a Divine Revelation, existed among men before the Scriptures written by Moses, which we now possess. The law as given on Mount Sinai was the commencement of the Word, as we now have it. When I speak of the word, I mean Divine Truth, as distinct from the clothing of the peculiar language in which it has been handed down to these times, and adapted to the capacity of man, specifically, to that of the Israelitish people. There once existed among men a Paradise state, a golden age, of which mankind is at this day, in general, profoundly ignorant.
Mr. Newton.--Do not the fire-worshippers or the Parsees claim a much higher origin than any of the other idolaters?
Mr. Gorman.--The worship of the Parsees, even in its most enlightened forms, is nothing but a remnant of the primeval revelation, more or less corrupted and perverted into an idolatrous worship.
Mr. Titcomb.--After having listened to the debate that has been raised upon my paper, I can only express my regret that Sir John Lubbock had not some advocate present to have shown fight on behalf of the system which he has taken up. There are two objections which have been advanced against the paper; but both are very mild. The Rev. Mr. Badger did not mean to attack me, but what he said was, in a certain sense, a sort of criticism upon my paper, when he found fault, or expressed astonishment, because no argument had been drawn from Scripture. He seemed rather to put it to me why, as a clergyman, I should not stand upon the platform of Scripture. Mr. badger.-- Excuse me. I should have done the same as you have done ; what I said was about your opponents.
Mr. Titcomb.--But I should like to explain why it was that I did not go upon the platform of Scripture. Supposing a Roman Catholic wanted to confirm the truth of the tradition that St. Peter lived as Bishop of Rome for five-and-twenty years, would it be of any use to quote that tradition as a proof? It is obviously absurd, and therefore a sort of thing to be avoided. If anything is urged against the Bible, it is of no use to appeal to the Bible to prove the contrary. The only thing for the clergy to do is to meet these people on their own ground. The other point, brought forward rather smartly by Mr. Row and Dr. Fraser, against my paper, was that I had constructed it on a sort of misnomer, because where there is no history there can be nothing historic.
Mr. ROW.--I did not mean you; I referred to Sir John Lubbock. Mr. Titcomb.--Very well, but I will just read again a short passage from the 10th paragraph of my paper :--
"The entire discussion consists in our fairly grappling with those loose and disjointed evidences which crop up here and there, either among those savage nations which have no history at all, or else among those anciently civilized nations which flourished before authentic history begins."
My idea is, that as these men try to show the prehistoric times of savages, so we must try to show the prehistoric times of monotheism. My title, therefore, is the counterpart of theirs ; my object being to show that among those nations where history is wanting, there are glimpses in our range of view which throw us back into the past gulf, and give us ground for supposing that monotheism then prevailed. We believe, for instance, that Egypt flourished before authentic history began; indeed Manetho gives us a history of events before the 18th dynasty, at a time coeval with Moses. But there is nothing authentic, or very little that is authentic, before the time of Rameses the Great. The monuments of Egypt, however, go back much farther, and we get much that is prehistoric from the drawings or sculptures upon them. These representations are not historic in the proper sense of the word ; they give us glimpses of the prehistoric. Anything that alludes to something past--anything, in fact, which gives the first point of contact with history, and which contains a shadow of reflection on previous history, would be prehistoric in my view ; and it is from such glimpses of the past that I have endeavoured to make out my case. I only hope that this line of thought will fructify, and that we shall be more and more confirmed in the truth ourselves, and better able to confirm it in the minds of those who are waverers and doubters. (Cheers.)
The Meeting was then adjourned.