Comparative Theology a New Science

But if Science has unintentionally helped the progress of the occult phenomena, the latter have reciprocally aided science herself. Until the days when newly-reincarnated philosophy boldly claimed its place in the world, there had been but few scholars who had undertaken the difficult task of studying comparative theology. This science occupies a domain heretofore penetrated by few explorers. The necessity which it involved of being well acquainted with the dead languages, necessarily limited the number of students. Besides, there was less popular need for it so long as people could not replace the Christian orthodoxy by something more tangible. It is one of the most undeniable facts of psychology, that the average man can as little exist out of a religious element of some kind, as a fish out of the water. The voice of truth, "a voice stronger than the voice of the mightiest thunder," speaks to the inner man in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, as it spoke in the corresponding century B.C. It is a useless and unprofitable task to offer to humanity the choice between a future life and annihilation. The only chance that remains for those friends of human progress who seek to establish for the good of mankind a faith, henceforth stripped entirely of superstition and dogmatic fetters is to address them in the words of Joshua: "Choose ye this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell."*

"The science of religion," wrote Max Müller in 1860, "is only just beginning. . . . During the last fifty years the authentic documents of the most important religions in the world have been recovered in a most unexpected and almost miraculous manner.f We have now before us the Canonical

f One of the most surprising facts that have come under our observation, is that students of profound research should not couple the frequent recurrence of these "unexpected and almost miraculous" discoveries of important documents, at the most opportune moments, books of Buddhism; the Zend-Avesta of Zoroaster is no longer a sealed book; and the hymns of the Rig-Veda have revealed a state of religions anterior to the first beginnings of that mythology which in Homer and Hesiod stands before us as a mouldering ruin."*

In their insatiable desire to extend the dominion of blind faith, the early architects of Christian theology had been forced to conceal, as much as it was possible, the true sources with a premeditated design. Is it so strange that the custodians of "Pagan" lore, seeing that the proper moment had arrived, should cause the needed document, book, or relic to fall as if by accident in the right man's way? Geological surveyors and explorers even as competent as Humboldt and Tschuddi, have not discovered the hidden mines from which the Peruvian Incas dug their treasure, although the latter confesses that the present degenerate Indians have the secret. In 1839, Perring, the arch^ologist, proposed to the sheik of an Arab village two purses of gold, if he helped him to discover the entrance to the hidden passage leading to the sepulchral chambers in the North Pyramid of Doshoor. But though his men were out of employment and half-starved, the sheik proudly refused to "sell the secret of the dead," promising to show it gratis, when the time would come for it. Is it, then, impossible that in some other regions of the earth are guarded the remains of that glorious literature of the past, which was the fruit of its majestic civilization? What is there so surprising in the idea? Who knows but that as the Christian Church has unconsciously begotten free thought by reaction against her own cruelty, rapacity, and dogmatism, the public mind may be glad to follow the lead of the Orientalists, away from Jerusalem and towards Ellora; and that then much more will be discovered that is now hidden?

* "Chips from a German Workshop," vol. i., p. 373; Semitic Monotheism.

of the same. To this end they are said to have burned or otherwise destroyed all the original manuscripts on the Kabala, magic, and occult sciences upon which they could lay their hands. They ignorantly supposed that the most dangerous writings of this class had perished with the last Gnostic; but some day they may discover their mistake. Other authentic and as important documents will perhaps reappear in a "most unexpected and almost miraculous manner."

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