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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

On the Ancient Religions and Civilisations

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On the Ancient Religions and Civilisations.

The human body may be considered as nothing more than an invention of the spirit world, and therefore, of necessity, the best instrument that the united wisdom of the Godhead has been able to devise for the purposes of self-procreation of the highest form of spiritual and bodily development hitherto possible under the conditions of this planet. The evils of this life result simply from the fact of our being in an imperfect state. Many of those evils can be remedied, or perhaps altogether removed, if men will take the proper methods and put their own shoulders to the right part of the wheel, and not wait for Jupiter to do all.

When man was first created he was of necessity without those principles of self-government which are now at the command of all, and are the results of human experience for thousands of years past. In this unlearned condition it was considered right by the Supreme Power that rules of conduct should by degrees be laid down for the guidance of this noblest animal of earth life. At first sight it might seem easy enough for the Divine Being to simply tell his creature what to do, and that any reasoning being would simply, from love and gratitude, immediately do it; but such unfortunately is not possible.

Having at various times lived near savages, from my own experience I think I can see plainly that no spiritual instructions would ever convince the original man of the necessity of continuous labour, and yet without such labour (both mental and bodily) the highest perfection of mind possible in this earthly state cannot be attained; and, consequently, when the harvest is reaped by death, the spirit crop annually arising from a savage community is not nearly so valuable to the spirit world, nor yet so numerous as would be garnered from the same extent of country when under the government of religion, law, and civilisation generally. Therefore the Divine Being originated various religions in different countries and at different periods. At the first commencement all that the original man could understand would be something tangible, such as a stone or a log of wood. Priests, prophets, and oracles were started, in many instances, really by divine power, and although we at this date may be inclined to laugh at such things, yet in those early times they were necessary to catch the attention of the multitude. Then the prophet anointed the head slave-driver (the king), and became perhaps his prime minister or adviser: the prophet himself being often chosen by the all-seeing Governor of the Universe, would naturally be the cleverest and worthiest man for that position, often infinitely superior in mind to the men whom he had assisted to the kingly power. The king being appointed, or having by superior brute force appointed himself, naturally chose kindred spirits as captains over the warriors, and afterwards as slave-drivers over the lower classes, and then with the lash at his back, the originally free and independent barbarian became forcibly compelled to do infinitely more work than ever his small ideas of gratitude would have caused him to perform had he been simply asked or even divinely commanded to improve his mental and bodily powers by labour. It was, therefore, to enslave the ancient Egyptian that his peculiar religion had been permitted to come on earth; the poor labourer was sacrificed in order that his manual labour might give mental employment for his superiors, and thus advance them and other races along with them, and to some extent also to improve even the workman himself; then pyramids, temples, and other great works were built. At the present day people are often greatly astonished to find that the Egyptian priests, without the help of our modern astronomical and other implements were oftentimes ahead of the moderns in matters of mathematical accuracy. If they had not those implements, or similar ones, how is it possible that they should know of their own knowledge such difficult questions, for instance, as the distance of the earth from the sun? I was given to understand (and page 3 it seems reasonable to me) that where the intellect of the priest failed, there the power of the prophet often commenced; and that possibly when planning such a building as the great pyramid that the prophet received divine command to make it of a certain length on the base; and that plan was implicitly, but at the same time intelligently, followed out. And perhaps we see the result at the present day better, in some respects, than it was understood even by its builders. Still, the divine teachings committed to the Egyptian priests were, no doubt, excellent in matters of learning, and also they greatly improved their mathematical knowledge by means of self-advancement, possibly however not to the extent of measuring the exact distance of the earth from the sun. These pyramids, gigantic statues, &c., while teaching the Egyptians, Greeks, and other surrounding nations in the building arts, sculpture, and various sciences were also still more particularly intended to place a firm record on this earth showing what nations could do under a slave government even at those very remote periods, and thereby inciting the people who should arise thousands of years afterwards to still greater achievements; and we can see that result (viz., emulating of ancient builders and scientists) has been attained during the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and also at the present period, for when great ideas in architecture and engineering are spoken of, we almost instinctively turn our venerating gaze to the old land of Egypt.

The race inhabiting that country was naturally of a disposition suitable for the initiation of the then new slave system of government (that is new on a large scale); they were more docile than the Greeks, therefore fitter to learn the lesson and teach it when learned, than that more lively people. There were also civilisations then commencing in other parts of the world, but (with the exception perhaps of those nations on the Tigris and Euphrates) none of them were divinely intended to influence European progress so much as that which had been brought about on the banks of the Nile.

The system introduced in India was intended by the Supreme Power to chrystalise by means of the caste system so as to produce large annual crops of fairly developed spirits; but it was never meant to greatly influence those races in Europe from which the greatest amount of advancement was expected in these latter days.

The Chinese philosophy (with its principles of servilely following their teachers, and considering it to be almost impious to advance beyond them) had an intention of producing vast multitudes for spirit life, they being kept during the earthly existence under a tolerably kind and liberal form of Government; but still of necessity there had to be so much of the conservative element introduced into the system, that stagnation has been one necessary evil of it. As to the other religions, I have neither time nor space to say anything about them, but I shall now endeavour to show somewhat of the plan followed by the spirit world in training our modern European nations, by means of the errors and sufferings of those preceding them. When the Greeks began to see the great improvements that had been carried out in surrounding countries, their own natural emulation—assisted by direct spirit teaching—caused their more intelligent men to aspire to equal and, if possible, to surpass their teachers; they sent young men to Egypt and elsewhere to learn scientific matters, but never having been enslaved themselves, except on isolated occasions, they found a difficulty in getting their freemen to do the hard continuous labour necessary for great engineering and building operations, they apparently got over the objection by means of keeping large gangs of slaves, raised from the prisoners taken in war, and by purchase from the Phoenicians and others, and still amongst themselves they kept up a most intense love of liberty; this itself was a great advance above the condition of the Egyptians, where it would seem that slavery and servility was almost universal; as, however, the Greeks, as a nation, had never gone through the painful but salutary process of learning how to work by routine, they were often unable to arrive at the correct spiritual ideas on the dignity and necessity of labour; how- page 4 ever, they did great things by means of their most admirable philosophers and rulers, and helped greatly to teach the Romans and moderns. Their brilliant career was directly assisted by means of oracles, sometimes causing them to choose the right men as rulers, and sometimes the wrong; now leading them to victories the world can never forget, and then to sad humiliations such as happened to Nicias, at Syracuse. It was, however, not required of them that they should found a system of permanent republics, that indeed is to come in the future, but the Greeks were wanted at that time to experimentalise and succeed at times, and to blunder into defeat at others. The Deity having sufficiently demonstrated the fact that even the intelligent Greeks were unfit to govern themselves, their power was taken from them and given to the Romans, who, profiting to a great extent from Greek historians and philosophers, were able to render their Government more capable of improving and civilising humanity, than any system the world had yet seen; however, slavery of a great portion of the working population had still to be practised. Then came the religion of Christianity, promising great things as to the increasing of the popular happiness, but up to a very late period there has, perhaps, been but little addition to the earthly advantages of the masses on that account; however, the grand ideal of worshipping and endeavouring to imitate man in the generous and unselfish form of Jesus has done much towards raising the moral character of many of the European races; then the idea of being saved by belief alone; faith in God has assisted the development of those moral organs of the mind that in the savage state are so seldom used; he that has blind, undoubting, unsuspicious faith in his Deity and brother man Jesus, can hardly deny a large amount of trustfulness to his neighbour on earth, whom he knows to have similar religious ideas; at any rate as far as my experience goes, those nations whose forefathers have been most strongly grounded in the doctrine of salvation for belief alone, are at the present time generally noted for their conscientiously assisting one another in gaining any great political or other object. This want of brotherly trustfulness and perhaps still more the want of trust in their leaders, were two of the most serious faults of the ancient Greeks; they would assist one another at times, but then the snaky, shortsighted, selfish reason would step in, and for hardly any offence they would kill the best men in Greece, or destroy Greek cities for little provocation. Now at the present time by means of our religious and historical trainings, and the beliefs resulting from them, we are saved from such dangerous cruelty and the unsuccessful leader is generally, at the present day, an object of reverence, for what he has done justly.

Now as to the oracles of the ancient world, we of modern times have been trained to believe that as there was so much childish lying nonsense in many of those matters, that therefore, of necessity they could not any of them be of spiritual or divine origin; but when we come to consider the reason of their being given, perhaps their very unreliability was one of the necessities of the state of the world at that time, had it been the divine intention to spread republican liberty from Athens as a centre to the farthest limits of the world, then the oracles might have spoken truly, and done no injury to men at the time or to future ages. The world was not ready to receive liberty on the basis of freedom to all, and nothing short of that would please our loving father God (that is the united spirit world) therefore the Greek was allowed to experimentalise, was assisted sometimes to good at other times to bad laws, the oracles just teaching sufficient to make them open their eyes and use their own reason; if Dodona did not suit the popular will, then try Delphos, failing that, consult their cleverest men again, and that is the way the spiritual teachings are even now oftentimes given; the spirit world does not intend to do for us that which we can do for ourselves, not that they are careless about these matters, but because if they did so they would be hindering a vastly important principle, namely, that of self-improvement, and after training us and our progenitors for ages in the paths leading to self-government, is it likely that when the end is almost in view that they will suddenly alter their policy and teach one how to find his stolen property and so on; it is true they will do so at times, but page 5 the exceptions prove the rule, for they who, not individually but collectively, see and know all that is to be known, can of course tell us where to find thieves. &c.; and what then, are we to dismiss our detectives, magistrates, and trust to a spiritual police? No, no, this would be retrogression, not progress, and therefore will not be done; and even in the matter of curing disease by miracles and what not, for my own part I would infinitely prefer the advice of a sound physician to any amount of spiritual opinions, although I have known them to be of great use on many occasions.