Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

political liberty, they enjoy more literary freedom than ourselves; still English. men held out, and to this day, the orthodox literary conclusion is that the Zend' is a forgery. Of course there are a few individuals who maintain the contrary, but a long time must pass away before the great body of learned men will admit the error into which they plunged, and take steps for curing the evil. Meanwhile, however, the work of discovery is somewhat earnestly carried on by others, for opposition stimulates inquiry in the world of philology as much as in any other, and, as one result, we have lexicons and grammars to facilitate our study of the Zend language, and what is even more important, we have a splendid edition of the Zend books, with annotations, commentaries, and other necessary aids, all supplied by Westergaarde, the Copenhagen Orientalist, a work which, by-and-bye, will perhaps get itself rendered into English, so that all may judge for themselves, and decide fairly upon this great point. Then, too, there is the Dabistan and various Persian works coming to light, to render most important proof and assistance, and, to crown all, the tombs, monuments, and temples of Persia are now rendering up their secrets, so that we are in a fair way for eventually comprehending the main facts of Zoroastrianism, and for rendering ample justice to the olden days.

But although not fully supplied with the facts as yet, we are rich enough to form many clear and correct ideas of the man and the system, and to these we now invite the attention of our readers. Premising only that fairly and fully to understand the system and the people who believe it, one must have all the legends and miracles and other wonders related in the Zend books, for it is only by means of these that the reader can at all comprehend the spirit and meaning of Zoroaster and his teaching.

We may assume that he was born between 600 and 700 years B.C., for as Plato, writing in 400 B.C., speaks of him as ancient, we cannot name a later date. And the Persians believed that he was miraculously conceived. They have been careful to inform us that “God first created the soul of Zoroaster in a tree,” which grew in a pasture in which a cow, belonging to a Mobed, was feeding. The cow eat of the tree, and the Mobed's wife eventually took of the cow's milk, and thus conceived the future teacher. A Persian writer says: “When the world had been thrown into confusion by the wicked, and “was entirely at the mercy of the demon, God willed to raise up a prophet of "an exalted dignity, which the family of Faridun was alone worthy of filling. “ In those days lived a man, Patirasp, descended from Faridun, and his " wife's vame was Goghdwzalı, a virtuous matron, who was also of the family “ of Faridun. These two persons were selected by the Almighty as the shells “ for enclosing the pearl of Zardusht." But now that the Evil Spirit knew what had been done, he resolved to use his best endeavours in order that the child should never be born. Accordingly he blew upon the mother a blast pestilential, such as usually produced death, but she only fell sick, and at the same moment a voice from Heaven said to her, “ Fear not, for thou shalt find " relief from these pains ;” after which she was healed.* Various other plans were resorted to, but equally without success, for the mother ever heard the voice in her difficulties, bidding her to be of good cheer, “ Fear not: grieve " not, for God himself is thy son's guardian ; this honoured child shall be the " prophet of the just God." And so all went well, for in process of time the legions of devils were beaten off and the boy was born, but to the astonishment of all beholders, he laughed aloud immediately on entering the world, which caused his father---putative father-Puritasp, to write certain poetic lives, and later poets entering by the aid of fancy into his feelings, inform us that he

* Mirkbund, 286.

“ Said to himself, hie surely must be an emanation from God.

All, with the exception of him, weep on coming into the world."** But the mothers of his district were jealous, when they heard of this laughter, and said one unto the other, “ This meaneth no good. Go to, let us inform “the king, so that he may inquire, and perhaps punish this mortal.” The king, Duran Surun, was a worker of magic, and followed after Ahriman, the Spirit of Evil, who, when he heard of the event, knew that a prophet was born, and, with the worst intentions, immediately visited the house, and drew his sword to cut off Zoroaster's head, but Heaven withered his hand so that his purpose failed. The monarch withdrew, and informed the magicians how ill he had sped with his work, and in solemn council they resolved to destroy the child. To this end they collected together a great body of inflammable matter, which they mingled with wood and brimstone, and when all was in a blaze they seized and threw the child in, and then hastened with this intelligence to their king. But

“The devouring flame became as water,

In which peacefully slumbered the heaven-given pearl,”— by God's aid, the fire had no power to harm him. The weeping mother went to stir the ashes, and found her child safe; who wonders that, with a heart full joy, she bore him back to her home? As soon as the magicians heard of their having been foiled, they devised another plan which surely could not fail. They bore him away to a narrow passage between some rocks, through which herds of cattle passed on their way to water; and now surely all will go well, for the oxen will tread him to death, left as he is on the open path. But no, for a cow came in front and stood over the child, driving away with her horns any that pressed that way; but when all had passed she also joined the herd, and left the child to be found uninjured by its weeping mother on the morrow. After this, he was exposed in a narrow pass, through which horses ran; and saved from them, he was thrown into the dens of ravening wolves, whose cubs had been torn from them, in order to make them more savage. At night, when the wolves returned to their lairs, behold all their cubs are slaughtered, and there is an infant crying in their place. Surely savage nature will now prevail, and the boy will die. Not so; for again was he saved. Here are the Persian's own words : “ The chief wolf, and “ the boldest of them all, having rushed on to devour Zardusht, his “ mouth became closed, as though it was sewn up. At this miracle “ the wolves were altogether alarmed, and seated themselves like so many “ nurses around the head of the child; at the same time there also came “ two sheep from the mountain region, which applied their teats, filled with “ milk, to the lips of Zardusht; thus the sheep and the wolf lay down in one “ place. With the morning dawn, his mother, after anxious seeking and “ scarching, came to that frightful place, raised up the exalted prophet, and “ having poured out her gratitude to God, proceeded with exultation to her “ own home.”+ Thus every attempt against the life of this wonderful child failed ; 'heaven miraculously interfering to save the heaven-begotten' from the machinations of the evil ones. From all the perils by which he was surrounded, Zoroaster was preserved to do a work in the world, the aims, spirit, and results of which we shall seek to lay bare to our readers.

P. W. P. # Dabistan, vol, j, 218.

† Ibid, 220-221,

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE REFORMATION.-XXVIII. .

BOHEMIA IN REVOLT. ARCHBISHOP SBINKO having determined to purge his diocese of the Wycliffite “heresy," instituted a judicial examination of several clergymen accused thereof. It is a proof that, in despite of his teachings, Huss was not yet suspected in this matter, this he was not one among them. The case of one of them, Nicholas of Welenowitz, formed the occasion of Huss's interference. Nicholas had asserted that laymen as well as priests should be allowed to preach the gospel; he also declined swearing in the manner common then-viz. : by the crucifix, the gospels, or the saints-because he contended no oath could be taken on things created. Now, on neither of these points did Huss agree with Nicholas, but nevertheless he undertook to intercede with the Archbishop for him; but in vain, Nicholas was imprisoned for a time, and ultimately banished the diocese. Huss now wrote to the Archbishop : “ What is this,” exclaims, he, “that men, stained with “innocent blood, men guilty of every crime, shall be found walking abroad " with impunity, while humble priests, who spend all their efforts to destroy “sin, who fulfil their duties under your Church guidance, in a good temper, “never follow avarice, but give themselves for nothing to God's service, and “the proclamation of His word, are cast into dungeons as heretics, and must - suffer banishment for preaching the gospel?” Thus, as was indeed inevit. able, Huss had gone far beyond the Archbishop, for the one was working in the cause of Truth, the other in the interest of his cloth. Sbinko ultimately became one of Huss's worst enemies.

Huss pursues his work, and the Archbishop his; Huss becomes more and more a Wycliffite: the Archbishop sets on foot still more stringent measures to eradicate the “ heresy.” On the 16th July, 1410, behold, he has gathered together two hundred volumes of Wycliffe's works in his palace yard, and there, notwithstanding the prohibition of the king, and without any regard to the rights of private property (and to destroy a book then was like destroying a library now), burnt them all. Great disturbances followed this exercise of episcopal authority, ribald songs were written, and sung about the streets of Prague, in which the bishop was satirised, and more than one street contest, in which life was lost, took place. Huss now spoke forth again : “ The “ burning of books,” said he, “never yet removed a single sin from the “hearts of men, but has only destroyed many truths, many beautiful and fine " thoughts, and multiplied among the people disturbances, enmities, sus“picions, and murders.” The Archbishop accused Huss of fomenting the disturbances, and Huss appealed to the Pope to settle the dispute. A fact which shows that as yet he had not advanced so far as to question the power and authority of the Pope.

As Huss now occupied the position of Rector of the University of Prague. the dispute was, in fact, one between the Archbishop and that body, on whose behalf, rather than his own, Huss's appeal was made. Sbinko, with true priestly astuteness, sought to render this appeal nugatory, by reporting to the Pope that the University, nay, the whole State of Bohemia, was tainted with the Wycliffite heresy. The result was, that Huss's appeal remained unnoticed, and a commission was appointed by the Pope to inquire into the matter. Huss was cited to appear at Bologna, where the Pope was then residing. This he indignantly refused to do, and was supported in his refusal by the king, who called the Archbishop to account for having attached the stigma of heresy to his dominions, and wrote to the Pope, demanding that the citation should be revoked. The Pope had not been aware, hitherto, how matters stood. But now that he found the reputed heretic was supported by the king and a large party in Bohemia, and being desirous to obtain the aid of the Bohemians in the crusade he had begun against his enemy, the king of Naples, he thought his interest required that he should comply with the wishes of the king. Sbinko complained bitterly to the king at his supporting Huss in this way, but was silenced by Wencel's retort: “So long as Master “ Huss preached against us of the world you rejoiced, and declared that the “spirit of God spoke in him; it is now your turn.” Sbinko was preparing other measures, intended, indeed, appealing to the Emperor, but death surprised him in the midst of his designs.

Sbinko's successor was no polemic, and desired only peace; and so, for the present, Huss and the party of reform proceeded undisturbed. The next antagonist will be the Pope himself. The Pope's messengers were already on their way to preach throughout Bohemia the crusade against the King of Naples, and were the bearers of Indulgences to all who should take up arms in the papal cause, or who should contribute to the expenses of the war a certain proportion of their means. This may be looked upon as the event which first turned Huss into a thorough Reformer; it was certainly the cause of his becoming the opponent of the Papacy. Disgusted at the premium thus given to vice, he preached against the Indulgences, and denied the power of the Pope to grant them. Many who had hitherto gone with him fell off, now that he was attacking doctrine : “ They are my friends," said Huss, somewhat mournfully, “but Truth is my friend, and I must “honour Truth before them.” Jerome of Prague saw in this new contest a matter which called for all his energy; and he went far beyond what the prudence and good taste of Huss could sanction. He obtained possession of the Bull addressed to the University, affixed it to the back of a courtezan, and, with several hundred of the students, and a vast concourse of the people, escorted her, seated on a donkey, through the streets of Prague, while a trumpeter preceded, vociferating, “ To the stake with the letters of a heretic “ and a logue !” A vast bonfire was lit in the Pranger, and the Bull was burnt,

But still the preaching of the crusade, and the trade in the spiritual merchandize of Indulgences, went on. On the 10th July, in this same year, 1412, we look into one of the churches in Prague.- Mass has been celebrated; in the place of a sermon the Papal Bull, granting plenary indulgence to all good Christians who, in person or by their gifts, shall assist the Pope in exterminating his Neapolitan enemies, has been read, and the priest has been expatiating on the goodness of the “ Holy Father ” in giving even the worst of sinners the chance of salvation upon such easy terms, and is telling his congregation the exact conditions upon which their past sins, and all that they may thereafter commit, will be forgiven. While yet he is speaking, three working men, John, Martin, and Stasek, by name, start up, exclaiming : “ Priest ! thou liest ; Master John Huss has taught us better than that. “We know it is all false.” The priest stands aghast; but ere he can reply the papal emissaries and their adherents have seized the three men. The next day they are brought before the city council, and condemned to death for blasphemy.

In the meantime, Jerome and the students of the University have heard of this; Huss is informed, and, accompanied by Jerome, two thousand students,

and a vast multitude of people, he repaired to the council-house, and demanded a hearing. Huss was too important a man, especially when backed by an excited mob, for this to be refused. He then declared that the fault of these men was his own; that if they deserved to die, much more did he, for he had taught them the truth they had declared ; and he further stated, that if they were put to death he could not answer for the consequences. The council promised Huss that the young men should be liberated if he would prevail upon the crowd to disperse ;-he committed the error of accepting the promise.

Now, while the crowd was dispersing, a messenger was dispatched for a large body of soldiers; and some hours afterwards, when a sufficient military force has arrived to overawe the people, and while Huss is anxiously waiting the fulfilment of the promise made to him, the three young men, whose lives he thonght he had saved, are led, escorted by the soldiers, towards the place of execution. The news spread like wildfire, and the angry crowd grows ever larger ; the students are calling the people to arms; and so threatening is the aspect of affairs, that the executioner is ordered to do his work before they arrive at the destined place. In one of the public streets of Prague the three men are put to death. The headsman then, holding up the heads of the victims, cried, “Let him who does the like expect to suffer the same “fate!” A cry of defiance arose from the thousands there, “ We are all “ ready to do the like, and to suffer the same !” It is with difficulty the military make a way for the executioner and other functionaries through the crowd, who would fain have had blood for blood.

Look! the crowd have secured the bodies of the martyrs; women are dipping their handkerchiefs in their blood, that they may preserve them as precious relics; others have fetched linen of the finest to enshroud them with. Ere long, behold a great company of the students, marching in soleinn and sad procession; they lay the bodies on a bier, and convey them to Huss's Chapel. It is night ; and marching through the streets of that Prague city may be seen an immense multitude bearing torches. They are on their way to Bethlehem Chapel, to escort the bodies to the tomb; there they are joined by Huss and thousands of the students. A long procession is formed, and then bursts forth from out that mighty crowd, as from the throat of one man, a grand anthem to the honour of the “ slaughtered saints,”-the three martyrs whom they are bearing to the tomb; and in the midnight silence, by the weird torchlight, is heard the voice of Huss leading the solemn mass for the dead, as they lower the bodies into the grave. An ominous gloom rests on the city of Prague, and those who have been parties to the murder of the three men are by no means comfortable. A little thing will throw the city into a state of revolution.

Is this the lull before a storm ? The authorities are asking themselves this question, when news arrives from Rome. The Pope's anathema maranatha has been issued against Jolin Huss; and his interdict launched against the place which affords him shelter. Behold the city on the following Sunday ! Not a church is open ; the only voice of preaching heard that day is that of John Huss in Bethlehem Chapel. Henceforth, while Huss remains, no child shall be baptised, no marriage shall be made, no dead shall be buried; the Pope hath ordered it, and the priesthood are ready to obey. Angry murmurs are rapidly rising into open defiance, when King Wencel, who has hitherto supported Huss, declares he can support him no longer--the Pope must be obeyed, and the 'heretic " must depart. Huss felt now the truth of the old

« AnteriorContinuar »