Volume I[867 pages]
VOLUME I - BOOK III - CHAPTER I
ORPHIC AND MITHRAITIC TRINITY SIMILAR TO THAT OF THE CHRISTIANSSIR WILLIAM JONES ON THE RELIGION OF THE PERSIANSPERSIAN OROMASDES, MITHRA, ARIMANIUSOPINIONS OF HERODOTUS, PROPHYRY, STRABO, JULIAN, ON THE ABOVEHYDE AND BEAUSOBRE RESPECTING TIMES OF PYTHAGORAS AND ZOROASTERFOLLOWERS OF ZOROASTER, NOT YET EXTINCTWORSHIP FIRETHE VEDAS DESCRIBE THE PERSIAN RELIGION TO HAVE COME FROM UPPER INDIAMAURICE ON THE HINDOO TRINITY
In contemplating the different, and often contradictory, circumstances of the religion of the ancient Persians, it is impossible not to observe the striking similarity both of its doctrine, and discipline or practices, to those of their Eastern neighbours of India, on one side; and their Western neighbours, the Christians of Europe, on the other. That religion appears to have been a connecting link in the chain, and probably in this point of view it will be regarded by every unprejudiced person, when all the circumstances relating to it are taken into consideration. Like almost all the ancient systems of theology, its origin is lost in the most remote antiquity. Its foundation is generally attributed to a sage of the name of Zoroaster, but in order to reconcile the accounts given of him with any thing like consistency, or with one another, several persons of this name must be supposed to have lived.
Treating of the religion of Persia, Sir William Jones says : "The primeval religion of Iran, if we may rely on the authorities adduced by Mossani Fáni, was that which Newton calls the oldest (and it may justly be called the noblest) of all religions; a firm belief that one Supreme God made the world by his power, and continually governed it by his providence; a pious fear, love, and adoration of him; and due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human species; and a compassionate tenderness even for the brute creation."*
* Sir E. Jones on the Persians, Diss. VI. p.197.
However bigoted my Christian reader may be, he will hardly deny that there is here the picture of a beautiful religion.
The first dogma of the religion of Zoroaster clearly was, the existence of one Supreme, Omnipotent God. In this it not only coincides with the Hindoo and the Christians, but with all other religions; in this, therefore, there is not any thing particular : but on further inquiry it appears that this great First Cause, called Ormusd or Oromasdes, was a being like the Gods of the Hindoos and of the Christians, consisting of three persons. The triplicate Deity of the Hindoos of three persons and one God, Bramha the Creator, Vishnu or Cristna, of whom I shall soon treat, the Saviour or Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer; and yet this was all one God, in his different capacities. In the same manner the Supreme God of the Persians consisted of three persons, Oromasdes the Creator, Mithra the Saviour, Mediator, or Preserver, and Ahriman the Destroyer. The Christians had also their Gods, consisting of three persons and one God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Psellus informs us, Oromasdes and Mithras were frequently used by the Magi for thetÕ Qeion, or whole Deity in general, and Plethro adds a third, called Arimanius, which is confirmed by Plutarch, who says, "That Zoroaster made a threefold distribution of things, and that he assigned the first and highest rank of them to Oromasdes, who, in the oracles, is called the Father; the lowest is Arimanes; and the middle to Mithras, who, in the same oracles, is called the second mind. Whereupon he observes, how great an agreement there was betwixt the Zoroastrian and the Platonic Trinity, they differing in a manner only in words."*
* Cudworth, Book i. Ch. iv. p.289.
"And indeed, from that which Plutarch affirms, that the Persians, from their God Mithras, called any Mediator, or middle betwixt two, Mithras, it may be more reasonably concluded, that Mithras, according to the Persian theology, was properly the middle hypostasis, of that triplasian, or triplicated deity of theirs, than he should be a middle, self-existent God, or Mediator, betwixt two adversary Gods, unmade, one good, and the other evil, as Plutarch would suppose."* If it were now needful, we might make it still further evident that Zoroaster, notwithstanding the multitude of Gods worshipped by him, was an asserter of one Supreme, from his own description of God, extant in Eusebius : god is the first incorruptible, eternal, indivisible, most unlike to every thing, the head or leader of all good; unbribable, the best of the good, the wisest of the wise; he is also the Father of law and justice, self-taught, perfect, and the only inventor of the natural holy.Eusebius tells us that the Zoroastrian description of God was contained verbatim in a book, entitled A Holy Collection of the Persian Monuments : as also, that Ostanes (himself a famous Magician and admirer of Zoroaster) had recorded the very same of him in his Octateuchon."**
* Ib. p.290. ** Ib. p.293.
Porphyry, in his treatise, de Antro Nympharum, says, " Wherefore, from the authority of Eubolus, we may well conclude also, that notwithstanding the Sun was generally worshipped by the Persians as a God, yet Zoroaster and the ancient Magi, who were best initiated in Mithraick mysteries, asserted another Deity, superior to the Sun, for the true Mithras, such as was the maker and father of all things, or of the whole world, whereof the Sun is a part. However, they also looked upon the Sun as the most lively image of the Deity in which it was worshipped by them, as they likewise worshipped the same Deity symbolically in fire, as Maximus Tyrius informeth us; agreeable to which is that in the Magic Oracles; All things are the offsprings of one fire; that is, of one Supreme Deity. And Julian, the Emperor, was such a devout Sun worshipper as this, who acknowledged, besides the Sun, another incorporeal deity, transcendant to it. The first kind of things (according to Zoroaster) is eternal, the Supreme God. In the first place (saith Eusebius) they conceive that God the Father and King ought to be ranked. This the Delphian Oracle (cited by Porphyrius) confirms :Chaldees and Jews wise only, worshiping purely a self-begotten God and King."
"This is that principle of which the author of the Chaldaic Summary saith, They conceive there is one principle of all things, and declare that is one and good."
"God (as Pythagoras learnt of the Magi, who termed him Oromasdes) in his body resembles light; in his shoul truth."
Sir W. Jones informs us that the letters Mihr in the Persian language denote the sun, and he also informs us, that the letters Mihira denote the sun in the Hindoo language. Now it is pretty clear that these two words are precisely the same : and are in fact nothing but the word Mithra the sun.
No one can doubt that the doctrines of Pythagoras and those of Zoroaster, as maintained when the former was at Babylon after its conquest by Cyrus, were, as it has been already remarked, the same or nearly so; nor can any one doubt that Pythagoras was either the fellow-labourer and assistant of Zoroaster, or a pupil of his school.
Manes lived long after both of them; and if it should be contended that he differed from them in any very abstruse speculative point, this will not be admitted as a proof that he did not draw his doctrine from their fountain, when it is known that it came from the East of the Euphrates, and when it is evidently the same in almost every other particular.
The Persian Magi have always denied that they worshipped fire in any other sense than as an emblem of the Supreme Being, but it is extremely difficult to ascertain the exact truth; and the difficulty is increased by the circumstances that most ancient philosophers, and, in fact, almost all the early Christian fathers, held the opinion that God consisted of a subtile, ethereal, igneous fluid, which pervades all naturethat God was fire.
All the Oriental and Grecian writers agree in ascribing to the Persians the worship of one Supreme God : they only differ as to the time when this first began to take place.
Mr. Maurice says, "But it is now necessary that we should once more direct our attention towards Persia. The profound reverence, before noticed, to have been equally entertained by the Magi of Persia and the Brachmans of India, for the solar orb and for fire, forms a most striking and prominent feature of resemblance between the religion of Zoroaster and that of Brahma"
The vedas are four very voluminous books, which contain the code of laws of Brahma. Mr. Dow supposes them to have been written 4887 years before the year 1769 [3118 B.C.]. Sir W. Jones informs us that the principal worship inculcated in them, is that of the solar fire; and, in the discourse on the Literature of the Hindoos, he acquaints us, that "The author of the Dabistan describes a race of old Persian sages, who appear, from the whole of this account, to have been Hindoos; that the book of Menu, said to be written in a celestial dialect, and alluded to by the author, means the Vedas, written in the Devanagari character, and that as Zeratusht was only a reformer, in India may be discovered the true source of the Persian religion.* This is rendered extremely probable by the wonderful similarity of the caves, as well as the doctrines, of the two countries. The principle temple of the Magi in the time of Darius Hystaspes was at Balch, the capital of Bactria, the most Eastern province of Persia, situated on the North-west frontiers of India and very near to where the religion of Bramha is yet in its greatest purity, and where the most ancient and famous temples and caverns of the Hindoos were situated."
* Asiat. Res. Vol. I p.349.
Mr. Maurice says, "Of exquisite workmanship, and of stupendous antiquityantiquity to which neither the page of history nor human traditions can ascendthat magnificent piece of sculpture so often alluded to in the cavern of Elephanta decidedly establishes the solemn fact, that, from the remotest æras, the Indian nations have adored a Triune Deity. There the traveller with awe and astonishment beholds, carved out of the solid rock, in the most conspicuous part of the most ancient and venerable temple of the world, a bust, expanding in breadth near twenty feet, and no less than eighteen feet in altitude, by which amazing proportion, as well as its gorgeous decorations, it is known to be the image of the grand presiding Deity of that hallowed retreat : he beholds, I say, a bust composed of three heads united to one body, adorned with the oldest symbols of the Indian theology, and thus expressly fabricated, according to the unanimous confession of the sacred sacerdotal tribe of India, to indicate the Creator, the Preserver, and the Regenerator of mankind."*
* Maurice, Ind. Ant. Vol. IV. p.736.
To destroy, according to the Vedantas of India and Sufis of Persia, that is, thesoFoi or wise men of Persia, is only to regenerate or reproduce in another form; and in this doctrine they are supported by many philosophers of our European schools. We may safely affirm, that we have no experience of the actual destruction,the annihilation of any substance whatever. On this account it is that Mahadeva of India, the destroyer, is always said to preside over generation, is represented riding upon a bull, the emblem of the sun, when the vernal equinox took place in that sign, and when he triumphed in his youthful strength over the powers of hell and darkness : and near him generally stands the gigantic Lingham or Phallus, the emblem of the creative power. From this Indian deity came, through the medium of Egypt and Persia, the Grecian mythos of Jupiter Genitor, with the Bull of Europa, and his extraordinary title of Lapisa title probably given to him on account of the stone pillar with which his statue is mostly accompanied, and the object of which is generally rendered unquestionable by the peculiar form of its summit or upper part. In India and Europe this God is represented as holding his court on the top of lofty mountains, In India they are called mountains of the Moon or Chandrasichara; in the Western countries Olympuses. He is called Trilochan and has three eyes. Pausanias tells us that Zeus was called Triophthalmos, and that, previous to the taking of Troy, he was represented with three eyes. As Mr. Forbes* says, the identity of the two Gods falls little short of being demonstrated.
* Mem. Orien. Vol. III. Ch. xxxv. p.444
In the Museum of the Asiatic Society is an Indian painting of a Cristna seated on a lotus with three eyesemblems of the Trinity.
BOOK III - CHAPTER II
THE WORD OMOMPHE. OMPHALOSOLYMPUS. AMMON. DELPHIDIGRESSION CONCERNING THE WORD ONSUBJECT OF AMMON RENEWEDHAM THE SON OF NOAH, AND AMMON THE SUN IN ARIESNIEBUHR ON THE OMBRICI OF ITALY : SEVERAL REMARKABLE SYNONYMSON THE SPIRIT OR RUH, THE DOVEPRIESTLEY'S OPINIONSUBJECT OF THE PERSIAN AND HINDOO TRINITY RESUMED
Mr. Hastings, one the most early and liberal patrons of Sanscrit literature in India, in a letter to Nathaniel Smith, Esq., has remarked how accurately many of the leading principles of the pure, unadulterated doctrines of Bramha correspond with those of the Christian system. In the Geeta, (one of the most ancient of the Hindoo books,) indeed, some passages, surprisingly consonant, occur concerning the sublime nature and attributes of God, as well as concerning the properties and function of the soul. Thus, where the Deity, in the form of Cristna, addresses Arjun : "I am the Creator of all things, and all things proceed from me,""I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things; I am time : I am all-grasping death, and I am the resurrection : I am the mystic figure OM ! I am generation and dissolution." Arjun in pious ecstacy exclaims, "Reverence ! reverence ! be unto thee, a thousand times repeated ! again and again reverence ! O thou who art all in all ! infinite in thy power and glory ! Thou art the father of all things animate and inanimate ! there is none like unto thee."*
* Maurice, Ind. Ant.
The divinity is frequently characterized in that book, as in other Sanscreet compositions, by the word OM, that mystic emblem of the Deity in India. The ancient Brahmins, as well as the Buddhists, of India, regarded this word with the same kind of veneration as the Jews did the word IEUE, which they never pronounced except on certain very solemn occasions. This is what is meant by the fourth commandment, which we render, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy god" (but which ought to be Ieue thy God) "in vain." As a pious Jew will not utter the word Ieue, so a pious Hindoo will not utter the word Om. It is the duty of the Jews and Hindoos to meditate on the respective words in silence, and with the most profound veneration.
The word Om is always prefixed in pronouncing the words which represent the seven superior worlds, as if to shew that these seven worlds are manifestations of the power signified by that word. In an old Purana we find the following passage : "All the rites ordained in the Vedas, the sacrifices to the fire, and all other solemn purifications, shall pass away; but that which shall never pass away is the word Omfor it is the symbol of the Lord of all things." M. Dubois adds, that he thinks it can only mean the true God. (P.155.)The sacred monosyllable is generally spelled OM : but, being triliteral, it seems better expressed by AUM, or AOM or AWM, it being formed of the three Sanscrit letters that are best so represented. The first letter stands for the Creator, the second for the Preserver, and the third for the Destroyer.*
* Moore's Pantheon, pp. 414-414.
Sir W. Jones informs us that the names Brahma, Veeshnu, and Seeva, coalesce and form the mystical word Om, which he says signifies neither more nor less than the solar fire.* Here I apprehend we have the identical word used by the ancient Egyptians and their neighbours for the Sun, Ammon.
* Jones, Asiat. Res.
Hesychius, also Suidas in voce, interprets the wordOMF to be Qeia clhdwn, the sacred voice, the holy soundand hence arose the omFaloj, or place of Omphe. But its real meaning is still further unravelled by explaining it as OM FH, the enunciation of the mysterious OM of Hindoo theology, the sacred triliteral AUM, but often written as it is pronounced, OM.
I find the oracle or Divina vox at Delphi called Omphalos, and the word Delphi orDelFmj means the female generative power; and in front of the temple of Delphi, in fact constituting a part of the religious edifice, was a large Phallus or Linga, anointed every day with oil. This, taken all together, shews very clearly that Omphale means the oracle of the generative (androgynous) power of Om. The Aum of India, as might well be expected, is found in Persia, under the name Hom, and particularly in the mountains of Persia, amongst the Arii, before they are said to have migrated, under Djemchid, to the South. As usual, we get the North-east, for the origin of things.*
* Creuzer, notes, p.686.
Bacchus was called Omestes, explained the devourer. This is in fact the Om-Esta,* of Persia. "Ista-char, or Esta-char, is the place or temple of Ista or Esta, who was the Hestia`Ejia of the Greeks, and Vesta of the Romans." This Persian ista or esta, is the Latin ista and est, he or she is; it is also Sanscrit, and means the same as the Jah of the Hebrews. Bacchus, at Chios and Tenedos, was also called Omadius. This is correctly the God, or the holy Om.
Various derivations are given on the word On, But I think it only stood for the sun as emblem of the procreative power of nature.
It was from Oenuphis, a priest of On, that Pythagoras is said to have learnt the system of the heavenly bodies moving round the sun in unceasing revolutions. The priests of this temple esteemed the first in Egypt.
Ænon or0"3 oinn, where John baptized, was called by a figure of speech only Ænon, or the fountain of the sun. The literal meaning was, The Fountain of the Generative Power.
The name of the son of Noah was.( Hm, called Ham. The name of the solar orb was %.( Hme the feminine of .( Hm. It appears to me that from misapprehension, the Ham of Noah has been confounded with the Ham, or Hm or Om of Egyptthe Jupiter Ammon or Amon, the God with the Ram's head, adored at the ejon Omane. The word .( Hm, the patriarch, and the word %.( Hme, the Sun, being the same, were the cause of the mistake. I know no reason for believing that the son of Noah was deifieda mere fancy of modern priests; but I have many reasons for believing that Amon was the Sun as the generating power, first in Taurus, then in Aries. "Belus, Kronos, Apis, were solar symbols, and Nonnus ranks Amon with these : Amon was clearly understood by the mythologists to represent the Sun in Aries."* Sir W. Drummond has given many other satisfactory reasons for Amon being the Sun : then how absurd is it to go farther ! All difficulties are easily explained by attending to the circumstance of the fundamental doctrine, that, in fact, all the Gods resolve themselves into the Sun, either as God or as emblem of the Triune Androgynous Being.
* Drum. Orig. B. iv. p.230.
Thus we have several clear and distinct meanings of OmFaloj. It was mitis, begnignus. It was the male generative power, as Falloj. As Omphale, it was the female generative power, the wife of Hercules, and the navel of the Earth or Nabbi. It was also the prophetic voice of the benignant Om. We shall see by and bye how it came to have all these different meanings. Before we conclude this work, we shall find a similar variety arising from other names connected with this subject, and in particular it should be recollected that we have found the Indian Creeshna or Cristna calling himself Om.
The third person was the Destroyer, or, in his good capacity, the Regenerator. The dove was the emblem of the Regenerator. When a person was baptized, he was regenerated or born again. A Dove descended on the head of Jesus at his baptism. Devotees profess to be born again by the Holy GhostSanctus Spiritus. We read of an Evil Spirit and of a Holy Spirit; one is the third person in his destroying capacity, the other in his regenerative capacity. We read in the Acts of the Apostles (ch. xvi. 16) of a spirit of Python or a Pythonic spirit, an evil spirit. Python, or the spirit of Python, was the destroyer. But at Delphi he was also Apollo, who was said to be the Sun in Heaven, Bacchus on Earth, and Apollo in Hell.
M. Dubois has observed, (p.293,) that the Prana or Principle of Life, of the Hindoos, is the breath of life by which the Creator animated the clay, and man became a living soul. Gen. ii. 7.
The Holy Spirit or Ghost was sometimes masculine, sometimes feminine. As the third person of the Trinity, it was well known to the ancient Gentiles as to the moderns, as it will hereafter be shewn.
I believe by almost all the ancients, both Jews and Gentiles, the Supreme Being was thought to be material, and to consist of a very refined igneous fluid; more like the galvanic or electric fire than any thing with which I am acquainted. This was also the opinion of most of the ancient Christian fathers. This was called the anima as feminine, or spiritus as masculineand was the (&+ ruh of the second verse of Genesis, which Parkhurst calls breath or air in motion, (Isaiah xi. 4,) an incorporeal substance, and the Holy Spirit. From this comes the expression to inspire, or holy inspiration. The word Ghost means spiritus or anima. This was often confounded with the igneous fluid of which God was supposed to consist; whence came the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost. (Matt. iii. 11.) These were absurd refinements of religious metaphysicians, which necessarily arose from their attempts to define that of which they had not the means of forming an idea. I should be as absurd, if I were to attempt to reconcile their inconsistencies. In the above examples of the different names for the Holy Ghost, a singular mixture of genders is observable. We see the active principle, fire, the Creator and the Preserver, and also the Destroyer, identified with the Holy Ghost of the Christians, in the united form of the Dove and of Fire settling on the apostles. Here we have most clearly the Holy Ghost identified with the Destroyer, Fire.
The wife of Jove, the Creator, very naturally bears the name of the female procreative power, Juno. It is unnecessary to point out the close relation of the passion of love to the procreative power. There can scarcely be a doubt that the Dove was called after the Yoni, or the Yoni after the Dove, probably from its salacious qualities. And as creation was destruction, and the creative the destructive power, it came to be the emblem of the destructive as well as the creative power.
M. Sonnerat also gives a passage from a Sanscrit Pooraum,* in which it is stated that it is God alone who created the universe by his porductive power, who maintains it by his all-preserving power, and who will destroy it by his destructive power, and that it is this God who is represented under the name of three Gods, who are called Trimourti.** Mr. Foster*** says, "One circumstance which forcibly struck my attention was the Hindoo belief of a Trinity; the persons are Sre Mun Narrain, the Maha Letchim, a beautiful woman, and a Serpent. These persons are by the Hindoos supposed to be wholly indivisible; the one is three, and the three are one." Mr. Maurice then states that the Sree Mun Narrain, as Mr. Foster writes it, is Narayen the Supreme God : the beautiful woman id the Imma of the Hebrews, and that the union of the sexes is perfectly consistent with the ancient doctrine maintained in the Geeta, and propagated by Orpheus, that the Deity is both male and female.****
*Voyages, Vol. I. p.259
** Ibid. p.749
*** Sketches of Hindoo Mythology, p.12
**** Maurice, Ind. Ant. Vol. IV. p.750
Mr. Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, says, "This notion of three persons in the Deity was diffused amongst all the nations of the earth, established at once in regions so distant as Japan and Peru, immemorially acknowledged throughout the whole extent of Egypt and India, and flourishing with equal vigour amidst the snowy mountains of Thibet, and the vast deserts of Siberia."
BOOK III - CHAPTER II
ISRAEL WORSLEY'S ACCOUNT OF ANCIENT TRINITIESOPINION OF DR. PRITCHARD AND OTHERS ON THE TRINITIESOPINION OF MAURICE AND OTHERS ON THE TRINITIESTHE CHRISTIAN TRINITYITS ORIGINMACROBIUS ON THE TRINITYPHILO'S TRINITY OF THE JEWSFABER'S ACCOUNT OF THE UNIVERSAL BELIEF OF THE TRINITYOBSERVATIONS ON THE DOCTRINE THAT DESTRUCTION IS ONLY REGENERATION
Mr. Worsley says, "This doctrine was of very great antiquity, and generally received by all the Gothic and Celtic nations. These philosophers taught, that the Supreme God, Teut or Woden, was the active principle, the soul of the world, which, uniting itself to matter, had thereby put it into a condition to produce intelligences or inferior gods and men. This the poets express by saying that Odin espoused Frea, or the Lady, by way of eminence. Yet they allotted a great difference between these two principles. The Supreme was eternal, whereas matter was his work, and of course had a beginning. All this was expressed by the phrase, Earth is the daughter and wife of the universal Father. From this mystical union was born the God Thor-Asa Thor, the Lord Thor. He was the firstborn of the Supreme, the greatest of the intelligences that were born of the union of the two principles. The characters given him correspond much with those which the Romans gave to their Jupiter. He, too, was the thunderer, and to him was devoted the fifth day, Thor's-dag; in German and Dutch, Donder dag, thunder day. The common oaths of these people mark the same origin. They swear by donder and blexen, thunder and lightning. Friday took its name from Frea, Frea's-dag; as Wednesday did from Woden, Woden's-dag. This was the name which the old Saxons gave to the son of the Supreme, thence Tuesday. Thor, being the firstborn, was called the eldest of the sons : he is made a middle divinity, a mediator between God and man. Such, too, was the Persians' God : for Thor was venerated also as the intelligence that animated the sun and fire. The Persians declared that the most illustrious of all the intelligences was that which they worshiped under the symbol of fire. They called him Mithras, or the mediator God. The Scythians called him Goeto-Syrus, the Good Star. All the Celtic nations were accustomed to worship the sun, either as distinguished from Thor, or as his symbol. It was their custom to celebrate a feast at the winter solstice, when that great luminary began to return again to this part of the Heavens. They called it Yuule, from Heoul, Helios, the sun, which to this day signifies the sun in the language of Bretagne and Cornwall: whence the French word Noel.
"How great a resemblance may be seen between the expressions which have been stated above, relative to these ancient Trinities, and those of some Christian worshipers, who imagine that the Father begat the Sonaccording to some in time, according to others from eternityand that from these two sprang or proceeded the Holy Ghost ! "*
* Israel Worsley's Enquiry, p.42.
According to Israel Worsley,* "It was Justin Martyr, a Christian convert from the Platonic school, who, about the middle of the second century, first promulgated the opinion, that the Son of God was the second principle in the Deity, and the creator of all material things. He is the earliest writer to whom this opinion can be traced. He ascribes his knowledge of it, not to the Scriptures, but to the special favour of God." But Justin is the very earliest admitted genuine Christian writer whom we have, not supposed to be inspired, and it seems that he did not attribute the knowledge of his doctrine to the gospel histories. The reason of this will be explained here-after.
* Ibid. p.54.
Mr. Worsley then proceeds to state that "Modern theologians have defined the three Hypostases in the Godhead with great precision, though in very different words: but the fathers of the Trinitarian Church were neither so positive nor so free from doubt and uncertainty, nor were they agreed in their opinions upon it. The very councils were agitated; nor is that which is now declared essential to salvation, the ancient Trinity. They who thought the Word an attribute of the Father, which assumed a personality at the beginning of the creation, called this the generation of the Son; regarding him still as inferior to the Father, whom they called the God by way of eminence, while, after the example of the old Heathens, they called the Son God. This notion of descent implied inferiority, and on that ground was objected to, and the Nicene Council, in 325, issued a corrected and improved symbol; and Christ instead of only Son, was styled God of God, and very God of very God. But even here the equality of the Son was not established, the Father by whom he was begotten, being regarded as the great fountain of life. The investment of wisdom with a personality still implied a time when be was begotten, and consequently a time when be was not. From this dilemma an escape was in process of time provided by the hypothesis of an eternal generation; a notion which is self-contradictory. The Nicene Fathers, however, did not venture on the term Trinity; for they had no intention of raising their pre-existent Christ to an equality with the Father : and as to the Holy Spirit, this was considered as of subordinate rank, and the clause respecting its procession and being worshiped together with the Father and the Son, were not added till the year 381, at the Council of Constantinople."* I give no opinion on the statement of Mr. Worsley, as it is not my intention to enter into a controversy as to what the Trinity is, but only give an historical account of it.
* Ibid. p.63.
Dr. Pritchard, in his analysis of Egyptian Mythology, (p.271,) describes the Egyptians to have a Trinity consisting of the generative, the destructive, and the preserving power. Isis answers to Seeva. Iswara, or "Lord," is the epthet of Siva, or Seeva. Osiris, or Ysiris, as Hellanicus wrote the Egyptian name, was the God at whose birth a voice was heard to declare, "that the Lord of all nature sprang forth to light." Dr. Pritchard again says, (p.262,) "The oldest doctrine of the Eastern schools is the system of emanations and metempsychosis." These two were also essentially the doctrine of the Magi, and of the Jews, more particularly of the sect of the Pharisees, or, as they ought to be called, of the Persees.*
* The Pharisees were merely Parsees, (the Jews pronounced P like PH or F,) persons who intermingled Magian notions (acquired during the captivity) with the law of Moses : hence a particular propriety in child of fire, , Matt. xxiii. 15.; Sup. to Palæromaica, pp. 63, 100.
The God Oromasdes was undoubtedly the Supreme God of the Persians, but yet the religion was generally known by the name of the religion of Mithra, the Mediator or Saviour.
In the same way in India the worship of the first person of their Trinity is lost and absorbed in that of the second, few or no temples being found dedicated to Brahman; so among the Christians, the worship of the Father is lost to that of the Son, the Mediator and Saviour.
The doctrine of the Trinity is first to be met with to the North-east of the Indus, and it may be traced Westwards to the Greeks and Latin nations; but the two latter seem almost to have lost sight of it as a national or vulgar doctrine; indeed, among the multitude in them, nothing half so rational is to be found. It seems to have been confined to the philosophers, such as Platobut whether as a secret doctrine or mystery may admit of doubt.
Whether the doctrine of the Trinity formed a part of the Christian religion has been disputed almost from its earliest period, by a great variety of sects, with a degree of bitterness and animosity hardly to be equalled in the history of the world.
In Chapter II. Mr. Maurice has brought together a vast variety of facts to prove that the doctrine of the Trinity was generally held by the Gentiles, but they all at last shew its origin to have been the Egyptians, Mithraitic or Hindoo school. From this source the Trinity sprang : a doctrine which it is seen may be traced to very remote periods of time, indeed long prior to the time fixed for the existence of the Jews, or probably of Noah : and it passed to them through the medium of the Persians and Egyptians, as it did also to the Greeks : and from them all it passed to the Christians in a later day. However, in all the great essential parts it is the same. There are the Father, the Creatorthe Son, the Preserver or Saviourand the evil principle or the devilin his bad character the destroyer, in his good one, the regenerator; the same three persons as in the Christian Trinityexcept that the ignorant monks of the dark ages, not understanding there fined doctrine of the Eternity of matter, and, that destruction was only reproduction, divided the third person into twothe Destroyer and Regenerator, and thereby, in fact, formed four Godsthe Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and the Devil.
And thus, by this learned priest,* not by me, the whole correct Christian Trinity, with its various HYPOSTASES, is shewn to have existed in the religion of Mithra and the Magi, ages before Christ was born.
* Maurice, Ind. Ant. Vol. IV. p.267.
Plutarch* says, "Zoroaster is said to have made a threefold distribution of things: to have assigned the first and highest rank to Oromasdes, who, in the oracles, is called the Father; the lowest to Ahrimanes; and the middle to Mithras; who, in the same oracle, is calledton deutefon Nqn , the second Mind." As Mr. Maurice says,* Plutarch, born in the first century, cannot have copied this from a Christian forgery. Besides, he expressly says that it is taken from the oraclesherein going very far to confirm the genuineness of the oracles; indeed, he actually does confirm it, in those parts where the quotations are found.
* De Iside et Osiride, p.370.
** Vol. IV. p.367.
In the Pythagorean and Platonic remains, written long anterior to the Christian æra, all the dogmas of Christianity are to be found. Witness theDhmiqfgoj or Zeuj Basileuj; the deutefoj Qeoj, or second God; deutefoj Nqj, or second Mind; the Miqfaj mesithj, or mediatorial Mithra; and gennhtoj Qeoj, or generated God, begotten not made. Again, the yuch cosmq, or soul of the world; i.e. the (&+ ruh or spiritus, of Osiris and Brahma, in loto arbore sedentem super aquam, brooding on the waters of the deep; the qeioj Logoj, or divine Word, berbum, which Jesus announced to his mother that he was, immediately on his birth, as recorded in the Gospel of his Infancy.*
* Maur. Ind. Scep. Conf. pp. 53 and 139.
Eusebius acknowledges that the doctrines of the Christians, as described in the first chapter of John, are perfectly accordant with those of the Platonists, who accede to everything in it, until they come to the sentence, Et verbum caro factum est. This seems to be only point in which the two systems differed. The philosophers could not bring themselves to believe that the Logos, in the gross and literal sense of the Christians, quitted the bosom of God, to undergo the sorrowful and degrading events attributed to him. This appeared to them to be a degradation of the Deity. Eusebius allows, what cannot be denied, that this doctrine existed long anterior to Plato; and that it also made part of the dogmas of Philo and other Hebrew doctors. He might have added that also, had he known it, of the priests of Egypt, and all of the philosophers of India.
Of the figure in the Hindus caves (the date cannot be denied to be long anterior to the time of Moses) of the second person, having his foot bitten by the serpent, whose head he is bruising, proves the origin of Genesis.
There can be no longer any reasonable doubt that it came from India, and as the Christian Trinity is to be found in its first chapter, it raises, without further evidence, a strong presumption that, that also came from India. ...
Macrobius,* in his Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, (a work of Cicero's,) which he explains by the great principles of the philosophy of the Pythagoreans and the Platonists, has given in the clearest manner, in his account of the Trinity of the Gentiles, a description of the Triad or Trinity of the orthodox,the triple distinction of God the Father, of his Logos, and of the Spiritus, with a filiation similar to that which exists in the theology of the Christians, and an idea of their unity inseparable from that of the Creator. It seems, in reading it, as if we were listening to a Christian Doctor, who was teaching us how the Spiritus proceeds, and the Son is engendered from the Father, and how they both remain eternally attached to the Paternal unity, notwithstanding their actions on the intellectual and visible world. ... He says that the three first links of this immense chain are the Father, his Logos,Nqj, Mens, and Anima or Spiritus Mundi; or, in the Christian phraseology, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the principles of all things, and placed above all created beings. After this he goes on to explain, in exact Christian style of language, the manner in which the spirit proceeds, and in which the son is begottenengendered by the Father.
* Macrob. Som. Scip. Lib. i. Cap.ii.-iv.
Navarette,* in his account of China, says "This sect (of Foe) has another idol they call SANPAO. It consists of three, equal in all respects. This, which has been represented as an image of the most blessed Trinity, is exactly the same with that which is on the high altar of the monastery of the Trinitarians at Madrid. If any Chinese whatsoever saw it, he would say the SAN PAO of his country was worshiped in these parts."
* Book ii Ch. x., and Book vi. Ch. xi.
The following extract from Mr. Faber's work on the Origin of Heathen Idolatry, exhibits a pretty fair proof how very general was the ancient doctrine of the Trinity among the Gentiles:"Among the Hindoos we have the triad the of Brama-Vistnou-Siva, springing from the monad Brahm : and it is acknowledged, that these personages appeared upon earth at the commencement of every new world, in the human form of Menu and his three sons. Among the votaries of Buddha we find the self-triplicated Buddha declared to be the same as the Hindoo Trimurti. Among the sect of the Jainists, we have the triple Jina, in whom the Trimurti is similarly declared to be incarnate. Among the Chinese, who worship Buddha under the name of Fo, we still find this God mysteriously multiplied into three persons, corresponding with the three sons of Fo-hi, who is evidently Noah. Among of that Tartars of the House of Japhet, who carried off into their Northern settlements the same ancient worship, we find evident traces of a similar opinion in the figure of the triple God seated on the Lotos, as exhibited on the famous Siberian medal in the imperial collection at Petersburgh : and if such a mode of representation required to be elucidated, we should have the exposition furnished us in the doctrine of the Jakuthi Tartars, who, according to Strahremberg, are the most numerous people of Siberia : for these idolaters worship a triplicated deity under the three denominations of Artugon, and Schugo-tangon, and Tangara. This Tartar God is the same even in appellation with the Tanga Tanga of the Peruvian's : who, like the other tribes of America, seem plainly to have crossed over from the North-eastern extremity of Siberia. Agreeably to the mystical motions so familiar to the Hindoos, that the self-triplicated great Father yet remained but one in essence, the Peruvian suppose their Tanga-tanga to be one in three, and three in one: and in consequence of the union of Hero worship with the astronomical and material systems of idolatry, they venerated the sun and the air, each under three images and three names. The same opinions equally prevailed throughout the nations which lie to the West of Hindostan. Thus the Persians had their Ormusd, Mithras, and Ahriman : or, as the matter was sometimes represented, their self-triplicating Mithras. The Syrians had their Monimus, Aziz, and Ares. The Egyptians had their Emeph, Eicton, and Phtha. The Greeks and Romans had their Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; three in number though one in essence, and all springing from Cronus, a fourth, yet older God. The Canaanites had their Baal-Spalisha or self-triplicated Baal. The Goths had their Odin, Vile, and Ve : who are described as the three sons of Bura, the offspring of the mysterious cow. And the Celts had their three bulls, venerated as the living symbols of the triple Hu or Menu. To the same class we must ascribe the triads of the Orphic and Pythagorean and Platonic schools : each of which must again be identified with the imperial triad of the old Chaldaic or Babylonian philosophy. This last, according to the accounts which is given of it by Damascius, was a triad shining throughout the whole world, over which presides a Monad."*
* Book iv. Ch. ii. p.470.
The school of Plato has been generally looked to for the origin of the Christian Trinity , but as we have seen, it would be more correct to look to the oracles of Zoroaster. There can be no doubt that the Heathens adored the Trinity before the Christians, and did not copy it from Christianity. If either copied, the Christians must have copied from their Heathen predecessors. But all this has a strong tendency to prove, that what Ammonius Saccas said was true, namely, that the religions of Christianity and the Gentiles were the same, when stripped of the meretricious ornaments with which the craft of the priests had loaded them.
Link to Volume I - Book IV.