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ism? I believe that it would not. I believe that the primitive man would look upon all objects in movement in the same manner as a child looks upon all objects in movement. A child's delight in looking at a steam-boat lies precisely in the fact that to the child the steamboat is not a piece of mechanism, but an independent and self - acting agent, moved by its own power and impelled by its own will. A man has no such joy in the perception, just because a man has arrived at the notion that the appearance of self-agency is a delusion. The primitive man's first sight of nature is a sight which awakens wonder; but why does it awaken wonder? It is precisely because he seems to find in the universe something which he has found to be lacking in himself—i.e., a principle of self-origination. He has arrived already at the conviction that he himself is not independent. He has reached that conviction by the blank in his own memory. He has found that his individual life has come into existence at a very recent date, and that therefore it must be dependent for its being on the existence of some other thing. What is that other thing? Where shall he seek it? Where can he seek it more naturally than in the objects which strike his eye? These objects arrest him in the first instance just by their seeming contrast to himself. He has arrived at the conviction that he is a poor, passive thing, that yesterday he was nothing, and that he owes the breath of to-day to the intervention of some other agency. When he opens his eyes upon the universe he sees in it a collection of objects which appear to be more privileged than himself. They do not suggest to him the notion of a beginning. They seem to stand out in contrast to his own limited existence. He finds that they have been already on the field before his coming and independently of his coming. Is it not natural that, instead of seeking an origin for them, he should seek in them an origin for himself ? Is it not to be expected that, instead of saying “who made these ?” he should begin by saying “have not these made me”? He has come to the universe not in search of a cause for the universe, but in search of a cause for the only limit he has hitherto found in nature—the limit to his own existence: is it not to be presumed that his earliest pursuit of such a cause will be amidst those objects of the material world which are not subject to the limits of his human consciousness ?
I do not think, however, we are entitled to suppose that the primitive man will find in every object of the universe an equally probable source of his own origin. There is a fact to be accounted for in the history of religions—the fact that the earliest objects of worship are precisely those things which are not in themselves the grandest. We should have expected that the primitive man would have fixed his first reverence on the most exalted things. We should have thought that he would have looked up to the sun and moon and stars and yielded to them his earliest tribute of praise. On the contrary, his gaze is riveted to that which is not above his head but beneath his feet. Instead of looking up to the heavens he casts his eye downward upon the earth. He takes up the pebble from the beach, or the stone from the causeway, or the piece of cloth that has been wafted to his feet by the passing breeze, and he invests each or all of them with a magical power. Why is this? It is clearly an act performed in the full exercise of choice. It is not as if his senses had been originally defective and incapable of taking in distant objects. His perception of the heavenly bodies is as distinct and lucid as is his perception of the pebble or the piece of cloth. In selecting the one in preference to the other he is determined by some principle of judgment. What is that principle of judgment? Would we not expect that the sun and moon would present by their very activity more likeness to his own spiritual nature than would be seen in the sluggish inertness of the stone? Why, then, does he pass the former by and concentrate upon the latter his whole attention and his earliest reverence ?
Now I take the reason to lie precisely in the fact that seems to constitute the ground for an opposite conclusion. I believe that the primitive
man prefers the stone to the star just because he finds in the stone less likeness to himself than in the star. Remember the conclusion which he has reached with reference to his own spiritual nature. He has found it to be a poor, perishable thing, a thing which yesterday had no existence and which is dependent for its present life upon the agency of some other power. He comes to the sight of nature with a prejudice against himself. If he seeks in nature for a cause of himself, his hope to find it shall certainly rest in those objects which seem to him most foreign to his own being. What are those objects which seem most foreign to his own being ? Clearly not the highest but the lowest things of the universe. The higher objects of nature exhibit to the eye the appearance of a continual change. The glory which the heavens declare is a perpetually shifting glory. The sun rises and sets, and even during the time of its abiding it reveals stages of fluctuating light. The stars which one moment are bright are in the next obscured by a passing cloud. In these appearances the primitive man beholds simply a repetition of his own image, and it is his own image which he wants to avoid. He wants to find some object in nature which shall not suggest the idea of a beginning. The higher objects of nature do suggest such an idea. They seem to rise and fall with circumstances. They convey to his mind the same sense
of limitation which he has experienced in contemplating his own life. Where shall he meet with an opposite suggestion ? Clearly he must seek it in the things of the lower sphere. When he turns from the star to the stone he seems to find all that he is in search of. Here is an object which, so far as he can observe, exhibits no fluctuation and is subject to no structural change. It does not rise or fall in its apparent magnitude; it does not vary in its intensity with the circling of the hours. It suggests to the mind of the beholder no beginning, no origination, no need of an outward cause. Its very inertness, its very passiveness, its very imperviousness to surrounding impressions, invest it with a semblance of eternity. Upon this, therefore, the eye of the primitive man fastens. It seems to him that he has found here the object best suited to meet and to explain his own sense of dependence. In the shifting feelings of his individual life he has reached the conclusion that his own being is short-lived. Here is an object which exhibits no shifting, which to all appearance is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Is not this the eternal something which lies at the base of the other fleeting things ? Is not this changeless substance the power on which depends the human spirits that are born and die, and the physical stars which rise and set ? May he not rest here in his search for causes, and recognise in this