Natural theology what is it? — Usual answers — Hutcheson — Varro — The Middle Ages — Raymund of Sebonde — Rays Paleys etc. — Till 1860 — Since — Philosophies of religion — Pagan gods — De Quincey Augustine Cicero Pliny Juvenal Herodotus Aulus Gellius — The proofs historically treated — That the theme — Plotinus Augustine — Natural theology not possibly a physical science — Understanding and faith Augustine Anselm — Monotheism alone religion proper — The course affirmative negative — China India Colebrooke Râs bihârî Mukharjî — Hindu texts (Gnostics) — Hesiod.
Gifford Lecture the Second.
HAVING discussed and settled so far as seemed desirable the personal aspects in connection with the matter in hand—what viz. may have been the wishes intentions and general spirit of the Testator himself in the reference as well as what expectations it may he in place to form in regard to the immediate lecturer and the mood of mind in which he avows himself to enter upon this theme—questions it is hoped all viewed with feelings and considerations not alien from but so far in harmony with the subject—to that subject itself it only now remains for us more directly to turn.
It—that subject—is formally dictated and expressly prescribed to us under the name of Natural Theology. We are met at once in the first place then by the question What is it—what is Natural Theology? I daresay we have all some idea more or less correspondent to the interest itself of what Theology is. Theology by the etymology of the mere expression is the logos of The Greek logos to be sure like the Latin ratio has quite an infinitude of applications; but the application that comes pretty well at once to the surface here suggests as in some degree synonymous with itself such words as description narrative account report rationale theory etc. Geology is a description narrative account report rationale theory of all that concerns the earth in itself and in its vicissitudes. Zoology is such an account of all that concerns animals; and astrology supposing it to mean as it ought all that astronomy means is a description narrative account report rationale theory of all the objects we perceive in the heavens and of their various movements and general phenomena. Theology then is to expound to us God the fact of His existence and the nature of His Being. Now the qualifying word Natural when applied to Theology must have a limitative restrictive and determinative force. What is still in hand is Theology the account of God; but that account is to be a natural account. In short Natural Theology means that we are to tell of God all that we can tell of Him via naturæ by the way of nature—we are to tell of Him all that we can tell of Him from an examination of mere nature—of nature as we perceive or find it to be without us of nature as we perceive or find it to be within us. The information so acquired will sometimes be found to be named as by the Scholastics and by Descartes and Leibnitz after them the lumen naturæ lumen naturale lumière naturelle the light of nature; and consequently by very name is opposed to the supernatural light which is to be understood as given us by express revelation.
Francis Hutcheson in the third part De Deo of his excellent little Latin Synopsis of Metaphysics says that “although all philosophy is pleasant and profitable there is nevertheless no part of it more productive and rich than that which contains the knowledge of God quæque dicitur Theologia Naturalis.” This Natural Theology he goes on to describe as due to “philosophers who support themselves on the sole powers of human reason and make no reference to what God has supernaturally revealed to inspired men.” And the thing itself confirms the definition. We have only to look to what treatises have been actually written on the subject to perceive that the attempt in all of them is to demonstrate the existence and attributes of the Deity by reason alone in application to nature itself as it appears within us or without us. Any sketch of the history of these treatises—of the history of Natural Theology—usually begins with the mention of Varro the contemporary of Cicero a man as it appears of encyclopædic knowledge. I cannot see however much in his connection that is in application here. All that is known of Varro on this head is to be found in the sixth book of St. Augustine's City of God the greater part of which is taken up with Varro and his relation to the gods. Augustine praises Varro and says “he will teach the student of things as much as Cicero delights the student of words.” There shall have been on his part also “a threefold division of theology into fabulous natural civil.” And here Varro says himself “they call that kind mythical (or fabulous) which the poets chiefly use; physical that which the philosophers use; civil that which the people use;” and again he says “the first theology is especially adapted to the theatre the second to the world the third to the city.” But without going any further into this it may be said at once that the Natural rather Physical Theology here only considered the principles of the philosophers as the fire of Heraclitus the numbers of the Pythagoreans the atoms of Epicurus; and was merely a rationalizing of what was alleged of the gods into these—these principles and had no claim whatever to the title Natural Theology as understood by us. At all to allude to Varro in this connection is on the whole idle.
Of the power and majesty as well as of the love of God exhibited in the spectacle of the creation we know that in the Old and New Testaments there is much both of awing sublimity and heart-touching gentleness. And accordingly we may as readily surmise that such marvels of poetry and inspiration would not escape the early Fathers but would be rapturously used by them. And so indeed it was. Not but that there was a religious teaching sooner or later in vogue also that despised nature and turned from it as something inferior or wicked. All through the Middle Ages and in most of their respective writings there occur traces of references to nature that may be claimed in any professed history of the subject; but in point of reality there is no veritable “Natural Theology” till the work expressly so named by the Raimond Sebond the Raimondus do Sebonde of Montaigne. The place he is named from is supposed to be somewhere in Spain but nobody seems to know where it is to be found; every new authority has a new name for it Sebonde Sabunde Sabeyda Sabieude etc.
Raymund flourished in the middle of the fifteenth century and his book was called Theologia Naturalis sive Liber Creaturarum ex quo homo in Dei et creaturarum suique ipsius cognitionem assurgit—Natural Theology or Book of the Creatures from which a man rises to a knowledge of God and the creatures and his own self. This is sufficiently promising; but after all there is not a great deal in the book. Nevertheless it appeared of such importance to the Roman Curia that we find its Prologue in the list of forbidden books; this in 1595 more than a century and a half after its presumed composition. Montaigne too who translated it into French for his father speaks in the highest terms of it. “Many folks amuse themselves reading it” he says “and especially the ladies.” I had noted some passages to quote but they are hardly worth the time. In the ascent of things to God man is on the fourth grade he remarks: he is he lives he feels and he understands. This is a fourfold distinction taken from Aristotle which we find in most writers throughout the Middle Ages; it is the esse vivere sentire intelligere so universally applied in exposition of the stages of creation during the Hexaemeron—the six days of it.
After Raymund or his commentator Montaigne I fancy we need hardly mention any other writers on the subject till we come to the Grews Hays Cudworths Stillingfleets Derhams Clarkes and Fénélons nearer our own times; in which (times) all previous authorities have been superseded by our Paley and our Bridgewater Treatises.
These last then—this now is the important consideration and here is the critical pause—these last then represent Natural Theology and as a whole exhibit it—is it their contents that shall constitute the burden of these lectures and be reproduced now? It is Natural Theology we have to treat—Paley is Natural Theology. Shall we just give Paley over again? I fear the question will be met by most of us with a shudder. For many years back it would seem as though the Natural Theology of the Rays and the Derhams of the Paleys and the Bridgewater Treatises had vanished from our midst. “Where” asked a metaphysician some fourscore years ago—“where may or can now a single note of former Natural Theology be heard—all that has been destroyed root and branch and has disappeared from the circle of the sciences?” His own question all the same did not hinder the same metaphysician from lecturing affirmatively on Natural Theology a considerable number of years later; while at about the same time in England there was a revival of interest in the subject principally in consequence perhaps of a new edition of Paley's work to which Sir Charles Bell and Lord Brougham had each in his own way contributed. From that time quite on indeed till 1860 we may say there was the old interest the old curiosity admiration reverence awe as in presence of the handiwork of God when the descriptions of Natural Theology were before us whether in lecture or in book. But now again a new wave has come and washed for some twenty years back Natural Theology pretty well out of sight. He who should take it up now as Paley took it up or as Lord Brougham took it up would simply be regarded as a fossil.
In such circumstances the resource seems to be to turn to what is called the Philosophy of Religion and has been introduced into Great Britain almost quite recently in the form of one or two translations from the German. There are other philosophies of religion in existence besides any as yet translated. Perhaps indeed there is no department of philosophy so far as publishers' lists are in evidence which claims a greater number of books at present. Even here however with a special view to the requirements of Lord Gifford's Bequest I do not find my look of inquiry quite hopefully met. In one of the translated books for example what we find as a philosophy of religion is pretty well a series of biographies; while in the other there are two parts—a part that is general and a part that is biographical. Now I do not apprehend that a mere series of biographies would suit the requirement which we have in view; and as for the general part it does not seem to satisfy me in that consideration either. That part may be said to consist of three divisions—one division being given to what we may call alien religions another to our own Christianity and a third to what may be regarded as specially general. Now as regards Christianity I do not feel that I should be happy did I philosophize it to you even if that were competent to us on Lord Gifford's foundation in the way in which it has been usual to do so as in fact we find at once in the example readiest to hand—I mean in the Raymund of Sabunde we have just spoken of. This writer holds that there must of necessity be a plurality of persons in the Godhead quia in Deo debet esse communicatio quæ nequit esse sine dante et recipiente atque communicante (that is “because in God there must be communication or community which again is impossible unless there be a Giver a Receiver and a Communicator”). Of course as is obvious at once Raymund means that the Father should be the Giver the Son the Receiver and the Third Person in the Godhead the Communicator. I do not mean to say that it is literally thus our modern writers philosophize to us the Trinity; but it is an example in point and perfectly illustrates the general method actually in use. I do not know that it is popularly known; it is quite true nevertheless that in the greater number of the Fathers of the Church and the other ecclesiastical especially mystical writers of the Middle Ages some such method of philosophizing the persons of the Godhead is commonly to be found. In them for example as in more modern philosophical writers it is quite usual for Christ to stand as the existent world. Now I am not at all a foe to a warranted religious philosophizing; I am not at all a foe even to the carrying of trinity—trinity in unity—into the very heart of the universe in constitution of it. But it strikes me that in these days and as we are here in Great Britain so to attempt to philosophize the Christian Godhead would only repugn. I for my part cannot feel at home in it. I feel quite outside of it. There is such a naked naïveté in the Old Testament and there is such a direct trust of natural simplicity in the New as comport but ill with the apparent artifice and more ingenuity of these seeming externalities. Again as regards the division which in these books is devoted to other religious than our own one finds it hard to put faith in that adjustment of them the one to the other that would make a correlated series of them and a connected whole. With whatever attempt to philosophize them there appears little for us that is vital in these religions now. They are not lively these nondescript divinities. My reading of these parts of these philosophies has been careful enough; but I always found that a Gesindel (a rabble) of gods would not prove to me as a Gesindel of ghosts had proved to a German professor entertaining that is and refreshing. My experience rather seemed to be something like that of De Quincey in his dreams. “I fled from the wrath of Brahma; Vishnu hated me; Siva lay in wait for me; I came suddenly on Isis and Osiris. I had done a deed they said which the ibis and the crocodile trembled at” Milton's “Lars and Lemures” and “wounded Thammuz” and “the dog Anubis” and “that twice-battered god of Palestine” were only delightful to me in his own most glorious poem. Apart from it I was as grimly content to see them turn tail and flee as he was. I quite sympathized with Augustine in his contempt or horror of such gods as Jugatinus and Domiducus and Domitius and Manturna and Subigus and Prema and Pertunda. I agreed with Cicero that it was “detestable” that it was to he “repudiated” and not to be “tolerated” that there should be such gods as Fever and Mischance Insolence and Impudence. I did not wonder at Pliny's disgust with the human folly that would believe in such gods. And did not Juvenal tell us of the Leek and the Onion as the gods whom inviolably the Egyptians swore by? “Oh the holy nation” exclaims Juvenal—“oh the holy nation whose very gods grow in their gardens!” One remembers nevertheless that in the erection of the pyramids according to Herodotus these same Egyptians ate up ever so many hundred talents' worth of those gods of theirs. As for the divinity of the onion in particular Aulus Gellius informs us that the Egyptian priests believed it because the onion reversed for them the usual order of sublunary things growing namely as the moon declined and declining as the moon grew. I am not aware that modern science has confirmed the supposition; but no doubt they knew a great many more things then than we know now! A Gesindel a canaille a rabble of gods truly! And Pliny has it that there was in his time even a greater population of gods and goddesses than of human beings! The Greek poets and the Roman poets—I am just recounting my relative experiences here—were all as pleasing to me no doubt as to another; but I could not say that the special gods Jupiter and the rest made any very appreciable part of the pleasure. I had no interest in the gods of polytheism at all: after strange gods I suppose it formed no part of my idiosyncrasy to run. In short in the division under reference of the said philosophies of religion the philosophizing of the various gods of the various nations failed to move me or inspire me with a will to follow in the same direction. This of course cannot be without some natural exaggeration; for in the end I by no means deny a certain affinity of the religions the one to the other and a consequent possibility of philosophically bringing them together. I only wish that for the purpose of use the actual attempts in this direction so far as possibility of presentation is concerned were better suited for our public. But for the mere histories of the various popular divinities I failed to see that I could make any application of them in the charge I had accepted in connection with Lord Gifford's bequest. Natural Theology as Natural Theology I could not in any way find in them.
But besides the divisions philosophizing—the one Christianity and the other paganism—there was the intermediate division of a more general philosophical matter discussing for example the question of the seat of religion whether it was a sentiment or whether it was a knowledge—even here I failed to find myself satisfied as to its sufficient availableness in respect of the conditions in view. The best performances in this regard had in them assuming all else to be unobjectionable such a mode of presentation and treatment as hardly could be acceptably and intelligibly conveyed.
Recurring perforce from the Philosophy of Religion to Natural Theology again it suggested itself that after all Paley's way of it did not exhaust the subject. The field was really a larger field than Paley occupied. Paley entertained no questions of the proofs as the proofs and the proofs as the proofs constituted the subject. The arguments the proofs for the Being of a God—that was Natural Theology. And again not less are these proofs the very essential elements and bases of the philosophy of religion itself. There is no philosophy of religion that extricating itself from mere biography possesses a general part but finds room—the best of them large important and essential room—for the subject of the proofs. Whence come these proofs then? They must have had a beginning. But begin where they might they could have had no place where paganism and polytheism obtained. Side by side with religion there might have been vague crude general philosophizings but there could have been no Natural Theology as Natural Theology and no proofs as proofs of Natural Theology. Polytheism therefore must fade monotheism must dawn before there could be even a thought of Natural Theology or its proofs. What then is the history of these proofs and in this relation?
Suppose at long and last we take up this—suppose we take up consideration of the known received tabulated traditional proofs and in connection with their history—that would be an escape at once from what is alleged to be antiquated and to what brings with it an element that promises to be new; for there may be in existence sketched suggestions in regard to those who have written on the subject; but it seems unknown that any attention has been paid as yet to the historical derivation of the proofs themselves. In this way too there would be no abandonment of the subject itself. Natural Theology—God as the sole content of Natural Theology—would never fall from sight nor cease to be before our eyes. Nor yet are we any more in this way excluded from philosophy: we are at once here in the very heart of the philosophy of religion itself; and in a personal regard there can be no want of every opportunity to say everything whatever that one may have a wish or ability to say on such theme generally. With four men at four universities all declaiming year after year on the same text there may come necessity for diversion and digression; but now in this first year it would ill become the lecturer who was first elected on the whole foundation and in the university at least of the capital—it would ill become him so signalized and so placed to set the example of an episode while it was the epic he was specially engaged for. There can be no doubt that Lord Gifford was very serious in his bequest—there can be no doubt of the one meaning end aim intention and object of all those emphatic specifications and designations of his—there can he no question but that the Testator's one wish in these days of religious difficulty and distrust was for some positive settlement in regard to the Being of a God. One cannot read that last Will and Testament of Lord Gifford's indeed without being reminded of what Porphyry tells us of Plotinus. Plotinus died he says with these last words in his mouth: Πϵιράσθω τὸ ϵ̓ν ἡμι̑ν θϵι̑ον ἀνάγϵιν πρὸς τὸ ϵ̓ν τω̨̑ πάντι θϵι̑ον (strive to bring the God that is in us to the God that is in the All). Kepler apparently in contrast to this says: “My highest wish is to find within the God whom I find everywhere without.” In such a matter however it does not signify from which side we take it. There can be no doubt that the last thoughts of Lord Gifford concerned his own soul and the God who made it. To know that was to Lord Gifford to know all. It was with him just as though he soliloquized with St. Augustine (Soliloq. i. 7): Deum et animam scire cupio (I desire to know God and the soul). Nihilne plus (Nothing more)? Nihil omnino (Nothing at all)!
It is true at the same time—and it may be well for a moment to meet this point—that Lord Gifford wished the subject to be treated as a strictly natural science just as astronomy or chemistry is. But natural obviously is only opposed here to supernatural only to what concerns Revelation. It were idle to ask me to prove this: every relative expression is a proof in place. If it were said that astronomy is to be treated as a strictly natural science just as chemistry is would it be necessary to substitute in the former the method of the latter—to roast Jupiter in a crucible or distil Saturn over in a retort? Things that are identical in the genus are very unlike in the species as in the Aristotelian example of the ox and the man where each is an animal. The apparatus of chemistry is for chemistry and the apparatus of astronomy is for astronomy; neither can be substituted for the other; and both are powerless in regard to the object of Natural Theology. Our transatlantic brothers as we hear at this moment are going to have object glasses or reflectors or refractors of ever so many feet; but the very tallest American with the very tallest of telescopes will never be able to say that he spied out God. Natural Theology is equally known as Rational Theology; and Rational Theology is equally known as the Metaphysic of God. That last phrase is acceptable enough; it repugns not; but fancy the Physic of God! The Greek term doubtless has an identity with the Latin one; but it has also a difference. Natural Theology may be considered a strictly natural science; but it were hardly possible to treat it as a strictly physical science. Physical Theology sounds barbarous and carries us no farther than Mumbo-Jumbo and the fetich in general.
What we have to aim at wholly and solely here in our science is the knowledge of God a knowledge that can come to us only metaphysically; for it is a knowledge that with whatever reference to nature is still beyond nature;—a knowledge in fact whose very business in the end is to transcend nature—the knowledge namely to which the Finite is only the momentary purchase that gives the rise to the Infinite. It can come to us then as said only metaphysically and for that matter too only religiously. The old way of it is not without its truth the old way of it as in the time of Augustine or as in the time of Anselm. To both Augustine and Anselm there may be a necessity for a cultivation of the understanding; but to both also there is a necessity that faith precede. Augustine (Civ. Dei ix. 20) has in mind the verse (1 Cor. viii. 1) “Knowledge puffeth up but charity buildeth up.” “And this can only be understood” he says “as meaning that without charity knowledge does no good but inflates a man or magnifies him with an empty windiness.” So it is that to Augustine faith love charity must precede knowledge. Even as the ground must be loosened and softened for reception of the seed so must the heart be made tender by faith charity and love if it would profitably receive into itself the elements of knowledge. The same necessities to the same end with humility occur in. Anselm. So here we have only to recollect his most frequent expressions to know that the general object of Lord Gifford too was faith belief—the production of a living principle that giving us God in the heart should in this world of ours guide us in peace.
How inapplicable mere Physics are to Natural Theology is obvious also from this that Lord Gifford directly styles the latter “the only science the science of Infinite Being.” It is not in a science of Infinite Being that the lever or the pulley or the screw can have any place; in respect of such a science there is no power to deal with it but what lies in philosophy. And thus in meeting an objection that may rest on such expressions as astronomy chemistry natural science etc. we are brought back to where we were in connection with the proofs and their appearance in history. Natural Theology as Natural Theology the philosophy of Infinite Being as the philosophy of Infinite Being neither the one nor the other can be found in Physics and just as little in paganism or in polytheism; but both are to be found and found together when on the stage of history polytheism is melting into monotheism and paganism is drawing nigh to Christianity. I have been met with surprise when I have said that religion proper only begins with monotheism. But you will realize what I mean if you will only consider the idea of sin. In mere mythology which is superstition only there may be fear for an evil in threat or hope for a good that is desired but there is no moral sense of sin no moral anguish and conflict in one's own conscience. Moral responsibility comes only with the doctrine of the one God that has made man in His image. For then man is no longer a slave; he is a free man and is referred to his own standard as a rational being in regard to whether he is in unison with his Maker or not. Had ever any Greek or Roman struggles within himself us to his belief or unbelief? Many a modern has given to this world soul-thrilling testimonies of struggles as to God; but never a Greek or a Roman in regard to Jupiter or Juno. Men of course will tear you like wild beasts and rend you into a thousand fragments should you spit upon their fetiches in whose good-will they trust; but that is a different matter. These men may hate you; but they have no struggles in themselves.
And now after all these meetings of objections and all these explanations in which I trust you will still kindly acknowledge a certain treatment of the subject itself—after all this it remains for me to state finally and formally what our further course shall be both for this session and the next. I take the theme as it is prescribed to me—Natural Theology and the proofs for the Being of a God. These proofs I follow historically while the reflection at the same time that we have still before us “the only science the science of Infinite Being” may bring with it a certain breadth and filling tending to preclude perhaps what possible insufficiency of philosophical matter a mere consideration of the proofs themselves might chance to involve. This is one half of my enterprise. The other half—the negative half—shall concern the denial of the proofs. This session I confine myself to the affirmative; next session I shall conclude with what concerns the negative. In this way we shall have two correspondent and complementary halves—one irenical and the other polemical; one with the ancients and the other with the moderns. For I shall bring the affirmative half historically down only till we come again in sight of Raymund of Sabunde with whom in a way our explanations opened. I shall not trouble you with any formal exposition of the proofs themselves till we come to the negative that denies them; and I do not think it necessary to deduce the historical part farther than Raymund. I hold the Grews the Rays the Derhams etc. to have been all absorbed in your familiar Paley who for his part needs no exposition of mine.
Now of the historical reference in question I know not that there is much to be said till the first faint rise of monotheism begins to show itself among the Greeks; for I shall presume the writings of the Hebrews to have stood fairly on the world-stage only after Christianity came to the struggle with heathenism; though certainly some 250 years before the commencement of our era the Jews had attained in Alexandria to a decided influence on to say so the universal historical life.
Before Greece and in regard to possible philosophizings spoken of as side by side with the religions we have to cast our eyes only on India; for as regards China there does not seem anything for us there unless the declaration of the sect of Lao-tse that a material naturalism need not alone be the object of knowledge and belief but that the superiority lies with the things of reason and the soul. Henry Thomas Colebrooke in his essays on the philosophy of the Hindus published in the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society and reprinted in his Miscellaneous Essays has collected for us all that bears on the philosophical theology of India; for what is philosophical in that reference alone concerns us—we have no call to turn to that Gesindel of gods themselves. I may allow myself to lament to you that I have not an assistance here which I had at least much hoped for. I have in correspondence with me an Indian gentleman of the greatest philosophical promise who has for years been engaged upon and will soon publish a great historical work in reference to the philosophy and philosophies of the Hindus—Mr. Râs Bihârî Mukharjî. In the meantime while we wait we must be glad that we have Colebrooke. Here among his translations is one in which the beginning of all things is represented very much as it is in the first chapter of Genesis: “The earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Then was there neither entity nor nonentity; no world nor sky nor aught above it…darkness there was…but THAT breathed without afflation—other than Him nothing existed…this universe was enveloped with darkness…but that mass which was covered by the husk was at length produced by the power of contemplation and desire the original productive seed.” It is observed in a note to the passage in Colebrooke that darkness and desire here (Tamas and Kárna) bear a distinct resemblance to the Chaos and Eros of Hesiod. But that mighty formless void as it were the nebula of a world breathed out like an exhalation around the Supreme Being who then was simply contemplation and desire reminds of similar ideas in the Gnostics who also were mainly Orientals. Thus to Valentinus God was as the Bythos the deeply-brooding abyss the syzygy of which was ϵ̓́ννοια meditation; and meditation was σιγή silence or χάρις bliss. All these ideas seem to go together; and as Thomas Taylor might say are not paradigmatic only but parental. They are not merely schematic—merely in effigy or scheme but they are substantially productive procreative parturient. Almost we get the thought from them that God must be and with God His world. There is the βυθός the deep the eternal deep the abysmal deep—is it not very striking that with such first principle the second should be ϵ̓́ννοια meditation? And that meditation is σιγή silence deep eternal infinite; and that silence is χάρις bliss the mighty secret the deep silent mystic felicity of the all-blessed God hidden and shut up into Himself. One cannot think of that first of things that unfathomable profound all-silent there all-blissful there—one cannot think of it but as full—the æon world is its πλήρωμα and its πλήρωμα its filling is the universe that is to be. All the thoughts go together and they come to us as but the necessary nisus of the mighty prime the prime that is itself a necessity and a nisus. The Gnostics proceed to add here perhaps a discordant note. They call this βυθός ἀῤῥϵνο-θηλυς man-woman; but still it is not incongruous that it should be as yet the all-one the all-indifferent the all-neutral the simple infinite the ἄπϵιρον of Anaximander. Another syzygy of the Gnostics here is ἀλήθϵια truth and truth also is in place. To all mankind as to Democritus it has seemed only fit that truth should be hidden in a well (βυθω̨̑).
These gnostic ideas are evidently very much in consonance with the conceptions of the Indians in regard to their Supreme Being who at first for them “breathed without afflation” And I refer to such ideas now not as formally illustrative of the proofs as such but as being at least akin to them. If there be a creating God as there is both to the Indians and the Gnostics then what is called Teleology is irrepressible design confronts us on the spot. But however it be with Teleology with the proofs how much such a passage as that Indian passage is as a voice from what to Lord Gifford is “the only science—the science of Infinite Being” must of itself be obvious at once. As might be expected too it is not a passage left to Colebrooke alone; it is to be found in all writers of the class as prominently in the texts and translations of that eminent Orientalist Dr. John Muir. In his History of Ancient Sanscrit Literature at page 546 there is also an admirable poetical rendering of it at the able hands of Mr. Max Müller who as we all know is not only a passed master in linguistic science but in comparative mythology as well the chief authority.
Further here it may not be out of place indeed that I should name a few more of these Indian assonances. This for example is very notable: “Looking around that primeval being saw nothing but himself and he first said ‘I am I.’ Therefore his name was ‘I.’” Here too is a remarkable passage: “Brighu approached his father Varuna saying ‘Venerable! make known to me Brahma;’” and on the third asking it is said “He (Varuna) meditated in deep contemplation and discovered intellect to be Brahma; for all these beings are indeed produced from intellect; when born they live by intellect; towards intellect they tend; and they pass into intellect.” Anaxagoras on the νου̑ς could hardly have been better abbreviated. The declarations of Hindu philosophy in regard to causality may be referred to as having a relation as well to Teleology as to Ontology or the Science of Being. But for them we shall have a fitter place elsewhere. Continuing our illustrations from Colebrooke here is another proposition which I think we shall yet find of the greatest relevance and reach in what constitutes for us our special interest: “There must be one to enjoy what is formed for enjoyment: a spectator a witness of it; that spectator is soul.” There is also to be found similarly in these communications this remarkable statement in regard to the final cause of the world or rather simply of nature nature as such. It (nature) is not there independently self-subsistently and on its own account; it is there only for a purpose and as a means. “As a dancer” it is said “having exhibited herself to the spectator desists; so does nature desist having manifested herself to soul.…He (the spectator) desists because he has seen her; and she (the dancer) desists because she has been seen.” That is the work has been accomplished; what was to be done has been done; and the implements withdraw.
As regards the reference on the part of Colebrooke to the Theogony of Hesiod and certain resemblances in its traditions to those of the Indians there cannot be a doubt of its correctness. Both ring with assonances to the cosmogony of the Pentateuch; and it is impossible to avoid believing in reference to all three that they echo to us some of the most ancient utterances of the race. Mr. Paley the learned editor of Hesiod observes in his preface (xv.) that in the Theogony we have “traces of what appear to be primitive and nearly universal traditions of the human family…traditions so immensely ancient that all traces of anything like a history of them had long before Hesiod's time been utterly and irretrievably lost. The coincidences between the earliest known traditions of mankind and the Mosaic writings are much too numerous and important to be purely accidental and much too widely dispersed to have been borrowed solely from that source.” So writes Mr. Paley. The traditions in Hesiod therefore in regard to primitive being infinite and divine are in nowise discordant from those of the East. We shall allow Hesiod accordingly to be so far the bridge from the East to the West from the Indian to the Greek where and among whom we shall find at last the scientific beginning historically as well of Teleology as of Ontology with all the ethical and other consequences desiderated by Lord Gifford.
From the book: