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THE FOUR LAST THINGS: DEATH, JUDGMENT, HEAVEN, AND HELL
IN all ages and in all places mankind has looked upon death as a passage to another state of existence. It is a common practice with
Christian apologists to argue "that the very
idea of immortality which the soul possesses, and its intense longing for its possession, prove the fact."1 St. Augustine says 2-"The soul can conceive the thought of immortality; therefore it is an immortal being, distinct from the body." Too much stress, however, must not be laid upon this line of argument. The mind of man can conceive the thought of many things which are not true. One of the commonest ideas amongst savages is that all diseases are caused by evil spirits. This is the most ancient and universal theory of sickness. Many tribes of savages, and many races of men far removed from savagery, have held the belief that the
1 Hettinger, Natural Religion, p, 236,
ANIMISM AND A FUTURE STATE
195 weapons and personal objects of the deceased warrior can be sent to accompany him in the life beyond the grave if they are "killed" by being broken and cast into the grave with the corpse. Nor is there any great uniformity amongst the notions of savage people as to the future state of the soul. Anthropologists trace such beliefs as exist to animism.
The national religion of the Maori race is the worship of the Atua, or the personified Powers of Nature, which are looked upon by the Maori as their own primitive ancestors. They also addressed prayers to the spirits of dead ancestors of their own line of descent. These invocations were called karakia, and of course presuppose a belief in the existence of the soul after death.1
When the spirit leaves the body, it is supposed to go on its way northward till it arrives at two hills. The first is named Wai-hokimai, and is a place on which to lament with wailings and cuttings, a kind of purgatory; there the spirit strips off its clothes. Arriving at the other hill, called Wai-otioti, the spirit turns its back on the land of life, and goes on to the spirits' leap; it then reaches a river which it crosses. The name of the new-comer is shouted out. He is made welcome, and food is given to him; if he eats this he can never return to life.2
1 Shortland, Maori Religion and Mythology, p. II.
SAVAGES AND ESCHATOLOGY
The North American Indians venerate the Rocky Mountains, which they call the Bridge of the World. They believe that the Master of Life, the Great Spirit, resides in one of the highest peaks. Paradise is there, the happy huntingground which cannot be seen by mortal eyes. The generous and good free spirits, who in their lifetime sought to please the Great Spirit, now enjoy everlasting happiness with him in the Land of Souls. Those who have done righteously in their mortal life dwell in bliss in this delightful country. Those who have done evil must roam for ever about sterile, sandy plains, suffering hunger and thirst, tormented by the glimpse they had of the felicity of their companions who have entered the heavenly fields.1
Amongst the Anglo-Saxons a place of torment and punishment was believed in, called Nástrond, the strand of the dead, filled with foulness, peopled with poisonous serpents, dark, cold, and gloomy. This Nástrond was what we call Hell.2
The Sonora Indians say that departed souls dwell among the caves and rocks of the cliffs, and that the echoes often heard are their voices.3' The Druids inculcated that the soul does not
1 Domenech, Deserts of North America, vol. i., p. 283. 2 Kemble, vol. i., pp. 392-93.
3 Alger, Doctrine of a Future Life, p. 208.
EGYPTIAN IDEAS OF DEATH
perish, but passes after death from one body to another.1
Egyptologists tell us that from the mass of ancient Egyptian fetishism, superstition, and polytheism, one dogma stands out clearly, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. "The idea of death, as it prevailed among the Egyptians, appears to have been not merely that a separation was thereby effected between that part of man which was mortal and that which was not; but the soul of man was itself regarded as composite, and its component elements, which 'had found their common home in the living body,' were supposed to set out independently 'each to find its own way to the gods.' If all succeeded in doing so, and it was further proved that the deceased had been good and upright, they again became one with him, and so entered into the company of the blessed, or even of the gods.
"In the Egyptian anthropology or eschatology, the Ka [was] 'the divine counterpart of the deceased, holding the same relation to him as a word to the conception which it expresses,' his 'Doppel-gänger'; the Ab or heart [was] symbolized by the scarabæus; the Ba or soul [was] symbolized by a bird; the Sahu [was the] bodily form; the Khaib, the shadow; and the Osiris or personal character [was] regarded as still sur1 Cæsar, De Bello Gall., vi. 14.
THE BOOK OF THE DEAD
viving. In his Osiris a man was judged; the adventures of the Osiris after death form the theme of the Book of the Dead, which is 'the largest and best known work in the religious literature of the nation.'
"The Book of the Dead, and cognate religious texts, always assume that judgment goes in favour of the deceased, that his heart approves him, and that he becomes one of the blessed. Nowhere are we clearly informed as to the fate of the condemned who could not stand before the God Osiris. We are told that the enemies of the gods perish, that they are destroyed or overthrown; but such vague expressions afford no certainty as to how far the Egyptians in general believed in the existence of a hell as a place of punishment or purification for the wicked; or whether, as seems more probable, they held some general belief that when judgment was pronounced against a man, his heart and other immortal parts were not restored to him. For such a man no re-edification and no resurrection was possible. The immortal elements were divine, and by nature pure and imperishable; but they could be preserved from entering the Osiris, from re-entering the hull of the man who had proved himself unworthy of them.'" 1
1 From a review of The Ancient Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul, by Alfred Wiedemann, D.Ph., etc., in the Tablet.