Page:A Few Hours in a Far Off Age.djvu/16

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The thoughtful, beautiful eyes of his mother have again their abstracted expression as of examining into that far-off past of which she discourses.

"Those primitive men had numerous peculiar forms of belief. A little reflection would show you that acting in accordance with them could not be called 'irreverence.' They worshipped the Infinite as an avenging deity of an exceedingly vain and cruel nature, and, by a strange complexity in metaphysics, boastfully claimed a likeness to that deity; but it was no more irreverence in them than was the belief of their ancestors in still more primordial creeds—namely, that the earth was flat, a place below named 'hell,' and one above named 'heaven,' both of which places were inhabited by many gods—some of whom, indeed the most of them, judged by the growing light of succeeding ages, were remarkably immoral. When they reduced their deities to one they made that one a male, and with their usual deficiency in reason said his sons came down to earth 'to the daughters of men;' and that their progeny became 'men of renown.' Such a belief formed part of the creed of the more civilized time which we are reviewing. It was printed by those peculiar people in some curious books called Bible, Koran, &c., the contents of which were taught by their myth-men, or "clergymen," to have been the actual words of their god. But all that will be fully explained in our mornings for mythology. I only touch the subject to show you that morality and religion are of close affinity. When we know the creed of a nation we can judge correctly as to its ethics. If the creed be of an impossible or debasing nature the ethics will be found to correspond. We may deplore the ignorance which caused so much wrong-doing and suffering, but must not abase our own higher minds by condemn-