Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/419

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403
TOTEMISM IN THE EVOLUTION OF THEOLOGY.

of bread and wine was a prominent feature in the worship of Mithras.

"There is a remarkable syncretist painting in a non-Christian catacomb in which the elements of the Greek mysteries of Demeter are blended with those of Sabazius and Mithra, in a way which shows that the worship was blended also." The most important rite of all these antique mysteries being the Eucharist, led the celebrated Cicero to exclaim, "Can a man be so stupid as to imagine that which he eats to be a god?" It has required a great effort for intelligent minds in all ages to reconcile their imaginations to the bloody ritual so prominent in all religious ceremonies from the earliest age. It is a relief to refined and spiritual natures to be able to look down the long ages of time and see that the early rite from which each evolved was instituted by savage peoples, and celebrated in their ignorant worship of animals.

It is a self-evident truth that "the ideas which the religious instinct has once grasped it seldom abandons"—consequently there are countless survivals along the entire line of religious progress, of beliefs and customs belonging to lower planes of culture, which have been, as far as possible, adapted to higher systems by giving them new names or more spiritual explanations. To this cause must be ascribed the fact—so evident to all students of comparative theology—of the early Christian Church becoming incrusted with the rituals and religious customs of the pagan world. The late Dr. Hatch, in the Hibbert Lectures of 1888, demonstrated, in the most convincing manner, "the influence of Greek ideas and usages upon the Christian Church." Every thoughtful person who has made even a slight study of this all-important subject is compelled to unite with him in saying: "Greece lives—not only its dying life in the lecture-rooms of universities, but also with a more vigorous growth in the Christian churches. It lives there, not by virtue of the survival within them of this or that fragment of ancient teaching, and this or that fragment of an ancient usage, but by the continuance in them of great modes and phases of thought, of great drifts and tendencies, of large assumptions. . . . No sooner is any new impulse given, either to philosophy or religion, than there arises a class of men who copy the form without the substance, and try to make the echo of the past sound like the voice of the present. So it has been with Christianity. It came into the educated world in the simple dress of a prophet of righteousness. It won that world by the stern reality of its life, by the subtile bonds of its brotherhood, by its divine message of consolation and hope. Around it thronged the race of eloquent talkers, who persuaded it to change its dress and to assimilate its language to their own. It seemed thereby to win a speedier and completer victory. But it purchased conquest