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a mere appendage of his vocation and position; it carried along with it no idea of sacerdotal holiness or authority.
Up to this point in religion, hero worship was a beautiful unity. It had one distinct object that it gladly, glowingly, undividedly revered. As long as the idea of the Hero predominated over the idea of the god, there was a bulwark against any extraneous and corrupting elements in the modes of devotion. As soon as the idea of the god became the predominant one, there was thenceforth an avenue opened to the wildest and most extravagant conceptions. While men clung to the Hero's personality, however exaggerated their statements respecting his feats—however exaggerated their notions of his greatness-still they had a definite fact which they could easily conceive, and the facility of whose conception prevented any confusion or mistake. But the transition from the known to the unknown, the transition from the Hero to the god, became a source of endless intricacies and perplexities. Of the Hero, they had conceived as something like themselves, but higher and more potent; of the god, into which they had progressively changed him, as something vague and mysterious—as something possibly like, but probably unlike, what they were or could be. Yet, in one of their own attributes, they imagined he must resemble them, in that which to them was thegrandest manifestation of supposable existence-power, material power. As they were not arrived at that degree of knowledge which distinguishes the conscious from the unconscious exhibitions of power, they confounded the effect with the cause, and considered movement, life, and power, as identical. Man, put in motion by his reason; the brute, put in motion by its instinct; the tree, put in motion by the wind; the stone, put in motion by the application of some foreign force, were, in their view, endowed with the same kind of motive agency. What more obvious notion than that of believing, that all the scattered movements that they daily witnessed, were so many fragments of the God of power that they had evolved from the wreck of hero worship? From worshippers of the Hero, they had thus, by successive steps, been transmuted into the worshippers of a Pantheistic divinity. But Pantheistic universality, they were unable as yet habitually to grasp. While, therefore, spreading the idea of Deity on all matter-for all matter was capable of movement, and movement was power, and power was God—they yet communed religiously only with sections of matter, for with such only did their limited intelligence and sentiment permit them to commune. This separation of matter into sections, gave them countless divinities instead of one. The animate and the inanimate alike furnished multiplied objects to their homage. The foaming cataract, the howling storm, the lifeless wonders -the living monsters of air, of earth, and of ocean—the ceaseless sights and sounds of the world, teemed with energies that they could individualise and adore. Hero worship had accustomed them to offering and to ceremony; and Pantheistic worship, in a modified form, adopted these. Instead of the innocent gifts lavished on the Hero's shrine, blood was poured out as a symbol of reverence to whatever individual object they had selected as an emblem of power. And this blood was shed for the readily suggested reason, that the destruction of power was the best mode of doing homage to a godlike power. The effusion of blood and the consequent death of the animal, was the extinction of a weaker strength in honour of what they recognised as a greater strength. When this novel kind of sacrifice was introduced, the Poet could no longer continue as priest. A stouter, sterner breast, and a more unsparing hand were required, and they were found in the Shepherd. He was appointed to execute the sacrifice, because he was a bloodshedder by profession; and less even than in the case of the Patriarch and the Poet, would the idea of sacerdotal authority and holiness be associated with his sacerdotal office.
The blood shed as an homage to divine energies, laid the foundation for a fresh religious phase. The feeling of fear and the feeling of interest gradually united themselves with the idea of power, as stimulants to worship. Men's continued adoration of personified strengths, exaggerated their notion of the ability that belonged to those strengths; and it was concluded, that they were able to bless and to injure, to punish and to reward. The blood of sacrifice now gushed more frequently than before, and more important victims stained the scene of offering. Because there were ever then, as now, sins to be atoned for, and benefits to be sought; to atone for the one more surely, to seek for the other more earnestly, human gore, and especially the gore of the young, the beautiful, and the innocent, would be made to flow. And this was the primary appearance of that strange doctrine of the Atonement (misnamed Christian), around which so many falsehoods have for ages been accumulating. In passing, also, it may be remarked, that ņo element once introduced into religion is ever perfectly banished therefrom. Hero worship gave place to Pantheistic; and Pantheistic to Polytheistic; and Polytheistic had countless revolutions. But each embraced a portion of its predecessor. And in Grecian idolatry, the highest conceivable dovelopement of religion, independently of God's direct Revelation, all previous religions were gracefully, symmetrically, sublimely blended and symbolised. It seems to have been the intention of our wise Creator, not only to make religion a source of happiness and a means of culture, but to evolve all its possible truths, by permitting its assumption of all possible forms.
The next idea that would be introduced, in consequence of the introduction of fear and interest in connection with sacrifice, would be that of good and evil divinities. It would be concluded, that the will to bless could reside only with benevolent Gods, and the will to injure, only with malignant; offerings would be made to the former, in order to secure wished for advantages; offerings to the latter, in order to avert a dreaded wrath. And at this period would the priesthood, as a separate and sacred profession, begin. When terror became a stronger impulse to worship than love, man would be driven to seek in foreign means, and in foreign instructers, what he had hitherto been satisfied to find in himself. During the time that religion was the simple expression of affection, gratitude, and veneration, man would find in his own heart, and in his own untutored ingenuity, ample and adequate modes of embodying his religious fervour. When terror became the predominating motive, all his self-dependence would vanish, and he would throw himself for aid and succour on those of his fellow-creatures whose wisdom, and skill, and power, he regarded as greater than his own. It is evident from this, that it was not the priesthood that invented the deification of the principle of evil, but it was the deification of the principle of evil, that produced the priesthood. The priesthood did not organise itself from motives of imposture and ambition; it was one of the natural results of religious developement, one of the natural supplies of a social and popular want. If an interest distinct from the general welfare is bestowed on any class of men whatever, they will group themselves necessarily round that interest, and assume the appearance, the constituents, and the character of a corporation. But almost universally it is not selfishness or fraud that prompts to the creation of such castes; but they spring from the voluntary surrender by society of some one of its rights, through fear or ignorance. When, however, the priesthood was once organised into a corporation, there were no limits to its fraud, its imposture, or its ambition. And it would proceed in its career of despotism and deception, all the more rernorselessly and triumphantly, from its immense superiority over its dupes in knowledge and sagacity. It would employ all the old machinery of religion that seemed adapted to its purposes, while it remedied its defects by adding a new. Its main object would be, to make faith in the priesthood the first and most necessary faith; faith in the religious observances that it recommended, the second; and faith in the divinities, that it recognised, the feeblest, the vaguest, and the last. It would therefore spread the belief of its miraculous endowments, which, by means of magical trickeries and a more intimate acquaintance with the workings of nature, it easily could. The doctrine of the immortality of the soul, would be torn from its place in the midst of indefinite traditions, and elevated into peculiar prominence; not, as may well be supposed, to gladden the heart of the superstitious worshipper, but to make him more completely the slave of sacerdotal tyranny, by showing to his affrighted imagination, the eternal and unspeakable tortures that were reserved for his guilt, if he had the boldness to rebel against its supremacy. The doctrine of the transmigration of souls, and every other doctrine that increased the feeling of the awful, would be introduced for a similar purpose. Hence the division of ceremonies and rites, into those that the people were allowed to witness, and those from which they were carefully excluded. Hence the celebration of mysteries, on which none but the initiated were privileged to gaze. Hence midnight assemblings, and assemblings in dark and difficultly accessible caves, in the remotest and sombrest parts of the forest, and wherever an association of terror could be stamped, or a feeling of terror excited. And then, in order to increase authority and influence under another aspect, by being the communicators of pleasure, what pomp and splendour in all that part of worship which the vulgar were permitted to viewin the gorgeous temples-the numerous statues—the processions, on which everything that could charm the senses was accumulated—and in the multiform and manycoloured grandeurs, by which the material in man was flattered and fascinated, and the spiritual and the rational obliviated and paralysed. Priesthood, in its earliest organised form-priesthood, in its successive organizations, did, what it does now,--it took hold of the two most powerful motives in man, till he is brought under the dominion of that spiritualism which Jesus came to communicate; it grasped in every conceivable phase his terror, and it ministered to every conceivable phase of his sensuousness, and thus it became all but omnipotent.
But let us not, in our hatred to the priesthood, pass over its services to mankind. It has never willingly done good; for no class of men in a corporate capacity ever will. The interests of the corporation, and not the interests of the community, will ever be the dominant interests. Yet the priesthood has been unconsciously blissful. It
gave the best example to man that has ever been given of the power of associated energy; it has frequently been the opponent of royalty and aristocracy, and the champion of the people, not from any disinterested impulse, but simply because it suited its purpose; it has more nourished than
any other agency, man's artistical feelings, adaptations, and capacities, in the region of the material; it has, from time to time, been the softener of manners, the promoter of science, the suggester and architect of comprehensive and systematic activities, in the various departments of speculation and of thought.