Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Universe. So far from contradicting that belief, he said that it erred not by excess but by defect. He declared that the hope held out by Brahmanism of emancipation from individual care, so far from being a delusive hope, was not expressed with sufficient emphasis. The Brahman had contented himself with saying that a redemption from individual care might come in the future world ; Buddha announced that such a redemption might be reached now and here. He told his countrymen that they had been taught by Brahmanism to look not for too much but for too little; that they did not need to wait for the loosing of the silver cord in order to find rest; that they might enter into rest in the very heart of the present scene of things, and in the midst of the world of life might obtain the Nirvana of peace. He told them that the true death for the spirit of man was the death of self, the surrender of individual desire, the giving up of the anxious longing for seen and perishable things. Here was a new civilisation, yet it was a novelty reached purely by the transmutation of the old-a civilisation which had indeed constructed a completely different edifice, but which had constructed it by transposing and recombining the elements of that edifice which it had destroyed. Buddhism was not the annihilation of Brahmanism. It did not build itself upon the ruins of the ancient system ; rather did it carry that system up to the summit of the mount and transfigure it there. It built a new tabernacle, but it built it out of old materials—those very materials which had been furnished by the life of that age which it came to supplant.

1 See T. Y. R. David's 'Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, as illustrated by some points in the History of Indian Buddhism, Appendix X., p. 253.

The second representative instance we shall select is the transition from Judaism into Christianity. We believe Christianity to have been the introduction of a new moral and spiritual force into this world, the introduction of a force which conferred upon humanity a new power for living a moral and a spiritual life. To this extent, therefore, we hold Christianity to have been an innovation on the old order of things. But the innovation lay purely in the newness of the method, not in the newness of the work to be done. Christianity by its own admission did not come to teach men a new morality; almost the initial words of its Divine Founder are these: “Think not I am come to destroy the law.” So far from having come to destroy the morality of Judaism, Christianity declared that its mission was to intensify the range of that morality, to fulfil that which from its weakness it could not itself do. The force which lay in Judaism was not sufficient to accomplish its own aspirations; Christianity brought a new force to its aid to overtake the old things.

Accordingly, as we pass from the Jewish to the Christian dispensation we are struck with a fact somewhat analogous to that observed in the transition from Brahmanism to Buddhism. We see that we have entered into a different circle of ideas, but we are at the same time made aware that the difference has been reached not by destruction but by transmutation. The leading ideas of Christianity are renewals of the leading ideas of Judaism. If Christianity destroys Judaism, it is only on the principle that where the perfect has come the partial is done away; it destroys it by absorbing its separate night-lights in one common blaze of day. Christianity has united two ideas which in Judaism are not only separate but contradictory -the idea of kinghood and the thought of sacrifice. In the Judaic polity these ideas never did coalesce; the one was the antithesis of the other. There were cases, indeed, in which the offices of the priest and of the king were combined in one person, but even then there was no amalgamation. The same person might be both priest and king, but he could not be both priest and king at the same moment. And the reason is plain. In Judaism priesthood and kinghood denoted two opposite states of mind : priesthood was the mark of humility, kinghood was the badge of independ

ence. Accordingly, in Judaism the ruler could only become a priest by ceasing for the moment to rule, and the priest could only become a ruler by ceasing for the moment to sacrifice. The acts might be combined in one life, but they were only combined as any number of inconsistencies may be united in the person of a single man. But when Christianity came, it not only retained these two ideas—it abolished their differences, it joined together what man had put asunder. The idea of priesthood and the idea of kinghood ceased to denote two opposite mental attitudes; they became merely different sides of one thought-the headship of Christ. Here the priest and the king met together. The Head of the body was king over the members just because He was the real sufferer in all that the members bore, and He was the real sufferer in all that the members bore just because He was the Head of the body. In this strange and subtle thought, borrowed from the constitution of the physical frame, Christianity joined together in one idea what in all the systems of antiquity had been separate and contradictory elements. It united the conception of sacrifice with the conception of royalty, and out of their union it evoked a new idea—the empire of sacrificial service. The combination was as new in its result as is the result produced by the combination of oxygen and hydrogen, yet equally in the one case as in the other, the newness has been reached by the incorporation of elements already existing in the previous state of things.

We shall take one more example of the relation which, in the course of human history, the new culture habitually bears to the old. In one sense no two states of civilisation can be more opposed to one another than Mediævalism and Paganism. Theoretically, the former is the antithesis of the latter, and came to supersede it. Yet it is none the less certain that the temple of Mediævalism is supported by two pillars which had their origin in Pagan culture. Mediævalism is professedly a survival of the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire, in its Christianised form, preserved essentially all the characteristics of its Pagan condition. Now the Roman emperor in his days of Paganism united in himself two functions, in both of which he was esteemed an object of reverence; he was the ruler of the state and he was the head of religion—the chief Consul and the Pontifex Maximus. In both of these attitudes the emperor was deemed sacred. Hence it was that in the system of Roman Paganism, Church and State were one. There was no real distinction between the political and the religious, between treason and impiety, between heresy and crime. Around the idea of the state there circled two conceptions — the thought of religious sanctity and the thought of

« AnteriorContinuar »