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a legitimate and fair development of incipient principles long held, but a rejection of all development, and a return to the original doctrine and to the practice of their fathers; while it declared the idols into whose worship they had drifted to be devils.
The political obscurity of this branch of the Aryan family, and the absence of extensive literary culture, prevent us tracing the influence of this reformation from the beginning; but when under Cyrus they suddenly burst on the world as a temperate, hardy, and courageous people, we find the central truth retained, and freer from the over-weighting of superstition and idolatry than among neighbouring nations. This appears from the character of their worship at the time in question, but more especially from the ease and readiness with which Cyrus received and executed the command of the Lord to build His temple. But such knowledge of the Supreme Ruler at the commencement of their communal life could only have come from a direct revelation. Their mode of life was pastoral, and the exigencies of their condition kept them in constant poverty, so that there was neither time nor opportunity for profound
metaphysical speculation to produce such results. Besides, in the thousands of years which have since passed, during which minds of keenest penetration and widest grasp have been devoted to such speculation, no definite results have been attained, not a single proposition which can be used as a rule of practice has been formulated. How then can we suppose that these poor shepherds and herdsmen of Irania surpassed at a bound the long toil of many centuries of wisdom ?
When we first become acquainted with the unreformed Aryans of India, which our former authority supposes is about five hundred years later than the time of Zoroaster, we find the grand central facts acknowledged, and although in many cases rendered void by spurious fancies, yet existing as a means of spiritual life in a few, and if in a few, still possessing potentiality for the many. Thus in the Rig Veda, vii. 86, the Creator is addressed as Varuna. • Wise and mighty are the works of him who stemmed asunder the wide firmaments. He lifted on high the glorious heaven; he stretched apart the starry sky and the earth. Do I say this to
I my own self?
How can I get to Varuna ? Will he accept my offering without displeasure ?
When shall I with a quiet mind see him propitiated ? I ask, O Varuna, wishing to know this
my sin. I go to ask the wise. The sages all tell me the same : Varuna it is who is angry with thee. Was it an old sin, O Varuna, that thou wishest to destroy thy friend, who always praises thee?
Tell me, thou unconquerable lord, and I will quickly turn to thee with praise freed from sin. Absolve us from the sins of our fathers, and from those which we have committed with our own bodies. Let me without sin give satisfaction to the angry God, like a slave to the bounteous lord. The Lord God enlighteneth the foolish.'
Here we not only have a conscious fellowship, but that fellowship suspended by sin, of which the worshipper is certified by the conscious anger of God, and by the instruction of his teachers. But the sin may be put away, and he may come again as a friend.
All this is more fully expressed in another of the early Vedic hymns. Without thee, () Varuna, I am not the master even of the twinkling of an eye.
Do not deliver us unto death, although we have offended against thy commandments day by day. Accept our sacrifice, forgive our offences, let us appear together again like old friends. Hear this
calling, O Varuna, and bless me now; I call upon thee desirous of thy help. Thou, O wise God, art king of all, of heaven and earth; hear me on my path' (Chips from a German Workshop, ii. p. 326).
We could not find more correct doctrine or more real experience in the contemporary Moses than in the above extracts. And it must be borne in mind, that so far as we can judge, religion was the most common and the most important occupation of their minds. They do not seem to have applied it so directly to the regulation of their lives as did the practical Egyptians, but its doctrines were the food of their meditations, and its services were the luxuries of their life. That this was so is not a matter of wonder, when we consider the breadth as well as the truth of these Vedic ideas of religion. When the sentiments we have quoted were used in worship, the philosophical spirit of later times did not exist, so that we have in them the primitive and natural expressions of the human heart. They also show the following facts :-(a) They knew the Supreme Creator and Ruler, who was not far from every man, who was able to help him in all his need, and who was ready to give the
needed help to all who sought it. (6) They had a sense of sin which involved the knowledge of a real Divine rule over them, of the law they had broken, and of its penalty as well as their obligation to keep it. They also knew that the sin might be pardoned by means of sacrifice, and the Divine favour be regained. (c) They also had a sense of the need of this purification from sin, of the restored help and favour, and a remembrance of its past enjoyment. In the Abrahamic line, we have not a more complete religion than here. not a speculation of the intellect, pursuing a phantom of its own evoking, but a real, natural experience of the soul, from whence consolation and strength for a natural life, which acknowledged and strove to fulfil all duty, alone could come.
Thus we have evidence of the influence of the incarnation as a quickening power among the three great families of men, at the earliest time of preserved historic record. We find also such a knowledge of Divine action in creation and providence as invited to fellowship with Him. It is true, that at the time of our first acquaintance with these peoples, degeneracy had begun, and in its progress not