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with the use made by living savages of some similiar implement. So, too, the purpose of some rite or custom practised by one people may be doubtful or unknown until it is compared with the same or a similar rite performed elsewhere under circumstances which clearly show its object. Again, the Comparative Method is used in anthropology in x the same way as it is employed in deciphering fragmentary ancient inscriptions : in inscriptions of a similar kind similar formulæ recur, thus in decrees of the Athenian people the formula “resolved by the people” constantly recurs; so, if only a few letters of the formula can be traced in what is plainly a decree, we can restore the missing letters with confidence. In the same way, a custom consisting in the performance of a series of acts may be found amongst several peoples in its entirety, and may amongst another people only survive in a multilated form, and then we can infer with confidence that the missing acts also once formed part of this now fragmentary custom.
It is clear, therefore, that the Comparative Method can only be properly employed where the things compared resemble each other. If, then, we apply the Comparative x Method to religion, we seem to be committed to the assumption that all religions are alike--and that is a proposition to which no religious-minded person can be expected to assent, especially when some writers apparently take it as selfevident that all religion is fetishism or animism or what not. Now, it is clear that the application of the Comparative Method to religion does imply that religions resemble one another, otherwise it would be useless to compare them. But it is also equally clear that the use of the Comparative Method implies that religions differ from one another, otherwise it would be unnecessary to compare them. A bilingual inscription (of sufficient length) in both Etruscan and some known language would settle the problem of Etruscan: the resemblance in meaning would enable us to compare the two languages together; it is the differences which make it necessary to have some such means of comparison. Comparative anatomy would have no object if the structure of all animals were exactly alike. If there were no differences between languages, there would be no need of Comparative
Philology. And so it is precisely because religions do differ that the Comparative Method can be applied to them; and the use of the method is a standing disproof of the idea that all religions are alike.
The Comparative Method, then, can only be used where there are differences in the things compared. Indeed, we may go further, and say that it is for the sake of ascertaining these differences that the method is brought into use. Thus it is not the recurring formulæ, the stereotyped official phrases, which are the interesting points in Athenian inscriptions, but their subject matter in which they differ from each other and which is studied for the light it throws on the history of Athens. The various Indo-European languages both resemble and differ from one another; the resemblances are studied for the light which they throw on the differences, the differences are studied because in their explanation lies the key to the process by which the various languages all grew out of the common, original Aryan tongue. All growth consists in a series of changes, and the record of the successive differences is the history of the thing's growth. ]It was by a succession of changes in one direction that Italian was evolved out of Latin ; in another French, in another Spanish. The primitive custom which required vengeance to be taken for the murder of a kinsman appears in one form in the Corsican vendetta, in a more developed form in the Saxon demand for wer-geld, in a yet more developed form in the Athenian laws against murder, while in English law the prosecution has been taken entirely out of the hands of the kin. Now, the stages by which the final form of this or any other institution was reached in any given country may all be recorded in the annals of that country, but if some are missing the Comparative Method warrants us in inferring that they were the same as those by which the same institution reached its final form in other countries. Thus by the Comparative Method we are enabled to apply the theory of evolution to the study of social institutions, and amongst others to the study of religious customs and institutions, on their social side.
Here again, however, we are met with serious objections : evolution is the development of higher forms of life and
thought out of lower, monotheism is the highest form of religion, and therefore, on the general principles of evolution, must have been the final form reached by a slow evolution from such lower stages as polytheism, fetishism, ancestorworship, etc. They, therefore, who believe in the Bible must consider the very notion of evolution as essentially inapplicable to religion. Monotheism, according to Genesis, was revealed to begin with, and therefore cannot have been reached by a process of development. The truth was given to man at the beginning, and therefore cannot be the outcome of evolution. Every step taken in religion by man since Adam, if it was not in the right line of monotheism, must have been away from the truth of revealed religion; the only evolution, the evolution of error. Man's imagination, when once it abandons the one guide, becomes the prey of all sorts of perversion, of the monstrous customs of heathendom, which it is useless to trace, as they lead only away from the truth, and are as irrational and as little to be heeded as the ravings of a mind distraught.
The validity of this reasoning all depends upon the tacit assumption that evolution is the same thing as progress, whereas in point of fact evolution is universal, but progress is very rare—the civilised peoples of the earth are less numerous than the semi-civilised and uncivilised; and of the civilised themselves the progressive peoples are minority. Institutions not only grow but decay also, and decay as well as growth is a process of evolution. Florid art is evolved out of something simpler, but is not therefore superior to it. The Roman Empire was evolved out of the Roman Republic, and was morally a degeneration from it. The polytheism of Virgil is not better, as religion, than that of Homer; the polytheism of late Brahminism is certainly worse than that of the earlier periods. Therefore, to say that the only evolution in religion-except that which is on the lines of the Bible-is an evolution of error, may be quite true and yet not show that the idea of evolution is inapplicable to heathen religions. Their evolution may well have been, from the religious point of view, one long process of degeneration. Progress is certainly as exceptional in religion as in other things, and where it takes place must be
due to exceptional causes. The study of heathen religions, therefore, on evolutionary principles, may throw some light on true religion ; if we can ascertain the reasons why they have failed to advance, we shall be able better to appreciate the causes to which progress is really due. This, however, assumes that it is possible scientifically to ascertain the law of growth in the case of pagan religions; and it may seem that they are too hopelessly fallacious, almost insane, in their perversions of the truth. But the study of fallacies is a part, and a very valuable part of logic. Even insanity has its laws, and it is only by their discovery that the medical man can hope to cure the mind diseased. And though the missionary has resources which the physician has not, still it cannot but help him if he starts with a knowledge of the savage's point of view. To the necessity of such knowledge for the missionary, no more eloquent testimony could be given than is afforded by the labour which missionaries have bestowed on the study of native religions, and which provides most of the material for the history of early forms of religion.
To accept the principle, therefore, that religion is evolved, by no means pledges us to reject à priori and without examination the possibility that monotheism may have been the original religion. Nor shall we so reject it here. On the other hand, a writer who approaches the history of religion from the anthropological standpoint cannot start by assuming that monotheism was the original religion. He must start from the facts provided by his science, namely, the religious customs and institutions of the various peoples of the world. And even so, he will not be able to work back to the time of our first parents; anthropology carries us no further back than the period just before the civilised races appear to our view. It is to this period, therefore, that “primitive man,” as he appears in these pages hereafter, belongs; and, let it be borne in mind, he is a hypothesis, like the creatures which have left only a single bone, or a foot-print, behind-he is reconstructed from the traces he has left. He is invented to account for the features common to both civilised man and existing savages, or rather to their ancestors. He is not purely identical with the savage as he now exists, for the savage has existed for a long time, and
we cannot suppose without change—indeed, he can be shown to have retrograded in many cases. Thus between“ primitive man and our first parents there is a wide gap; and the anthropologist standing on primitive man's side of the gulf cannot pretend to see or say with certainty what did or did not happen on the other side. Science has not yet even settled the question whether man's origin was monogenetic or polygenetic—though the balance of opinion seems inclined to settle in favour of the former theory.
Whether the anthropologist will fall back upon the Book of Genesis to assist him in his conjectures as to what happened before the earliest times on which his science has any clear light to throw, will depend upon the value he assigns to Genesis, and the interpretation he puts upon it. Some writers argue that Genesis may be literally true, but it never says that religion was revealed. But it seems to me that the account in Genesis could never have been written except by one who believed (1) that monotheism was the original religion, (2) that there never was a time in the history of man when he was without religion, (3) that the revelation of God to man's consciousness was immediate, direct, and carried conviction with it. Now, the first of these three tenets is a point on which we have already touched, and the discussion of which we shall take up again in its proper place. The second is a proposition the falsity of which some writers have endeavoured to demonstrate by producing savage peoples alleged to have no religious ideas whatever. This point we have no intention of discussing, because, as every anthropologist knows, it has now gone to the limbo of dead controversies.
Writers approaching the subject from such different points of view as Professor Tylor, Max Müller, Ratzel, de Quatrefages, Tiele, Waitz, Gerland, Peschel, all agree that there are no races, however rude, which are destitute of all idea of religion.
The third is a point which must receive rather fuller treatment here. To the religious-minded man, the existence, the personality of God and communion with Him, are facts of internal but immediate consciousness: he has as direct perception of the light of the soul as he has of the light of the eye. To him, therefore, since God has never at any time