Imágenes de páginas

his views, that the Assyrians held the doctrine of future rewards and punishments; and such is the manner in which he overthrows the hypothesis of the "recent ingenious writer," M. Fr. Lenormant. As will be seen from his statement before produced, our French Assyriolgue had expressed the opinion that, while the Assyrians entertained the notion of a future existence, of which he himself had offered conclusive testimony, there was no trace, so far as known, that they believed in a state of rewards and punishments. For ourselves, while we think it quite likely that the AssyroBabylonians did entertain a vague notion of this kind, we believe that no conclusive evidence to this effect has, as yet, been discovered. Their notions of moral distinctions, in fact, were by no means well defined, although they did distinguish between the righteous and sinful, between good and evil; their standards being very low, however, in such matters. But we have to notice, briefly, here, another proof, which Mr. Talbot introduces, in support of his hypothesis. He remarks:

[ocr errors]



"The Sun, who was the judge of men,' is called the destroyer of the wicked.' And what this future judgement would be may be inferred from a passage in the third Michaux Stone (col. 4, 11,) where it is said The remover of this landmark shall be accursed,' and the Sun, the great judge of heaven and earth shall condemn him and shall thrust him into the fire.'" 10



The author then gives the Text and his translation of two lines of the document to which he refers, as follows:"The Sun great judge of heaven and earth, may he judge his judgment, and into the fire thrust him." 12 From another document of the same class,13 he cites the following, according to his version: "The Sun, great judge of heaven and earth, may he judge his judgment, and into the fire may he thrust him." 14 It can be readily seen that these renderings are awkward; and, in fact, they are positively incorrect. M. M.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Menant and Oppert have made of the so-called "Stones of Michaux" a special study; and we give here their versions of the same passages cited by Mr. Talbot:


May Shamas (the Sun), the bright judge of heaven and earth, judge his lawsuit, and have him seized in deed doing." 15


May Shamas, the great Judge of heaven and earth, judge his unpunished misdeeds, and surprise him in flagrant deeds." 16

There is no doubt as to the accuracy of these translations; and they serve to illustrate to what extent Mr. Talbot has been misled by his theological prepossessions. There are numberless imprecations of a similar character to be found in the Texts, upon those who should remove land-marks, deface inscriptions, or mutilate monuments, but in no case, so far as we have been able to discover, do these imprecations contemplate other than temporal calamities, or worldly misfortunes. No allusion to a future state of rewards and punishments is ever made, so far as we are aware; and these facts tend to the conclusion that no such doctrine was held by the Assyrians.

We enter now upon the consideration of the evidences as collected by Mr. Talbot, that the Assyro-Babylonians entertained the belief in man's future existence. Upon this point, we think our author has been wholly successful, and no small degree of importance attaches to the results of his investigations. The following is a translation of a prayer for the king, who seems to have been lavish in his gifts to the deities and to their temples:

"The bounds vast and wide of his empire and of his rule, may he enlarge and may he complete! Holding over all kings supremacy and royalty and empire, may he attain to grey hairs and old age, and after the gift of these present days, in the feasts of the land of the silver sky, the refulgent courts, the abode of blessedness, and in the light of the Happy Fields, may he dwell a life eternal - holy in the presence of the gods who inhabit Assyria." 17


16 Ibid. p. 96.

[ocr errors]

15 See Records of the Past, ix, p. 100.

17 Trans. So. Bib. Arch. i, p. 107, cf. Ibid, iii, p. 441; where Lenormant's rendering of the same Text is placed side by side with Mr. Talbot's.



The foregoing translation may be regarded as perfectly reliable. In fact, M. Lenormant subsequently published a version of the same Text, which is remarkably similar in all respects. The differences between the two versions are merely verbal. But our author renders another Text, which he entitles "The Death of the Righteous Man," and of this we quote the closing lines:

"That righteous man let him now depart. May he rise as bright as that Khisibta (a mystical jewel)! May he soar on high like that Sisbu (ditto)! Like pure silver may his figure shine! Like brass may it be radiant! To the Sun, greatest of the gods, may it return! And may the Sun, greatest of the gods, receive the saved soul into his holy hands." 18

The foregoing are the principal passages, whose allusion to a future life may be regarded as quite certain. In addition to these are some brief notices, having apparently a like reference; as the following, in allusion to the soul of the dying


[ocr errors]

"Like a bird may it fly to a lofty place! To the holy hands of its god, may it return.” 19

Respecting the notion of a resurrection, it is impossible to produce any extended notices. Marduk, the son of the god Hea, was a kind of mediator; and he was supposed to have the power to raise the dead, according to a hymn addressed to him, translated by M. Lenormant; thus, he is styled : "The merciful among the gods; the merciful who raises the dead to life." 20 This sentence occurs twice in the same hymn; and it indicates, therefore, the actual prevalence of the notion of a resurrection. Besides this idea, the palace of the gods, the seat of the divine hierarchy, was the celestial region penetrated by the summit of the traditional Mount of Paradise, the Kharsak-Kurra, one with the Har-Moed, or "Mount of the Congregation," to which Isaiah alludes (xiv, 13, 14). It was the dying hope of the Assyrian and Babylonian monarchs, to be transported by the gods to dwell with them forever, in this sacred abode. It is probable that the priests 20 Prem. Civil, ii, p, 178.

18 Transactions, ii, p. 31.

19 Ibid, p. 29.

and nobles, and warriors, looked forward to the same destiny after death. This was, as it would seem, quite a different region from the inferior heavens, the region to which Ishtar descended. But this is a point not yet fully explained; and it remains for future investigation.

Such, then, are the principal and most important points, in the Assyrian doctrine of the future life, so far as is at present known. The current notions were by no means so well defined, as were those prevailing among the Egyptians, judging from our present sources of information. It is obvious that the Hebrews, if they had come to believe in a state of rewards and punishments after death, did not borrow the doctrine from the Chaldæo-Assyrians, but rather from the Persians, as Dr. Bissell suggests, in the article heretofore cited. On this point, however, we do not undertake to put forth any positive opinions.


Universalism and Punishment.

THE Greek language has two words for punishment, expressing the two great ideas involved in it. Ilown is a word that carries us back to the passive condition of the being wronged, and represents him as feeling the wrong and sympathizing, and expresses the necessity and the fact of a compensation paid or satisfaction given to effect or make right the injury committed. It is largely if not purely a word of equation, indicating the balance regained, equilibriun adjusted, simple values restored. It is the making even of scores, by restitution or by substitution, a price paid to offset a damage done. Pœna is a partial Latin equivalent but like the German strafen, strafe, other shades of meaning enter in to make up the whole significance of the word. Poena and strafe, however, both refer primarily to the feeling of the person wronged or witnessing the wrong, to express the satisfaction of this feeling by a price or penalty.

Another word, Kolaois, comes from another source and has a primary significance radically different. It takes us not back but forward. It sets us thinking, not of the wrong nor of the feelings of the wronged or the beholder, but entirely of the wrong doer. What will the non, poena, strafe, effect when it strikes him? It means a checking, curtailing, pruning. The Latin word approximately equivalent is castigare, which in turn is allied to purgo to cleanse, both purgo and castigare referring to the feeling or condition of, or the purpose in reference to the person castigated.

Thus in the Greek and Latin originals of our word punishment we find two meanings, one of simple satisfaction or compensation for a wrong committed, and one of correction or restraint of the wrong doer.

Proceeding from this analysis of its original meaning we shall desire in the present article to give expression to some of the facts that fall under this word punishment, that we may finally inquire what connection these facts have with Universalism, how they bear upon, antagonize, or coincide with our commonly accepted dogmas.

I. In any proper development of the idea of punishment we are carried back to the sources of all penalty, to inquire concerning the divine purposes therein indicated, and forward into the observed results of punishment for a verification of what a priori we have reasoned that the purposes must be. What is God's purpose in punishment, or what are we to suppose as the occasion in God, as the source, motive, suggestion, out of which the dispensation of punishment flows; and, secondly, do the results under observation verify our reasoning?

1. It is fair to infer from what is instinctive in ourselves to what is natural in God. This is a method approved by all, the only method indeed by which the qualities of the Deity may be appreciated by us. When we have found a legitimate occasion of activities in ourselves, if we can reason at all about a similar activity in God we are permitted compelled to assign a similar occasion. What are the motives that lie back of the dispensation of punishments among men? In

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »