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Poor Jack! We smuggled him up to London and got him into the army in the ranks. He is doing fairly well, and Challoner is very good to him, and does his best to keep him straight.
I was ill for a week or so after all these events, and Challoner, though he was dying to fly off to his lady love, nursed me faithfully, and never left me till I was on my legs again.
He married Miss Damer six weeks later, and I was well enough to attend the wedding, and to hear the capital story that Lord Carden had made at my expense of the ghost at Challoner Chase.
Whether Mrs. George Challoner will live there remains to be seen.
' And it was now Dark; and Jesus was not come to them.'
THEY toiled in rowing; and they toiled in vain ;
Gennesareth, raging, rocked and racked their bark,
And Jesus was not come ; and it was dark.
His sovereign footsteps trod the surges out:
'Thou little trusting! wherefore didst thou doubt?' Oh, might men's eyes behold Him 'mid the strife
Of struggling souls again, and near and soon!
To all, at eve or morn, at night or noon,
SARA HAMMOND PALFREY.
The knowledge of the ancient faith of Persia has been preserved to us in the book called the Zend-Avesta—a book which is in itself a literature, its earliest and latest portions being more than a thousand years distant from each other. The name Zend means the commentary ; Avesta means the sacred wisdom or revelation. By a curious accident, the name of this original sacred law has been put last. If we would not have the cart before the horse, we should say the Avesta-Zend. Of this Avesta, or collection of writings, the oldest part is what is called the Gâthas,' consisting of hymns, prayers, and commandments that were ascribed to Zoroaster and his immediate disciples.
The story of the discovery of this ancient volume, and of its introduction to Europe, is not without an element of romance. The first copy brought to this country-at the end of the seventeenth century-was deposited in the Bodleian Library, at Oxford ; there chained up, and left, without any attempt to decipher its hidden meaning, for more than fifty years, although one Oxford scholar, Archdeacon Hyde, tried to call attention to the probable importance of the book. In 1754, a young Frenchman, Anquetil Duperron, who had seen it, was seized with an enthusiastic desire to learn everything about its origin and contents; and, unable to meet with any help towards his inquiry in Europe, he took service as a common sailor in a vessel trading to Bombay. Hearing of his enterprise, the French Government generously supplied him with money for the purchase
The passages from the Zend-Avesta given in this paper are chiefly from the translation by Prof. James Darmesteter (Clarendon Press, Oxford).' The writer desires to acknowledge his obligations to an able article on ‘Zoroaster and Persian Dualism,' by Prof. J. T. Bixby, in the Arena of May, 1892.
of manuscripts and other needs; and after learning the language, he began, in 1759, the translation of the Zend-Avesta ; and two years later came back to Europe with a large number of manuscripts in various languages. In 1771 he published the result of his discovery ; but, as in the case of the traveller, James Bruce, he was doomed to meet with a vast amount of incredulity and suspicion from the learned. Even the great German philosopher, Kant, regarded him as the dupe of Oriental forgeries ; and our own scholars, to their lasting discredit, jealous of a discovery that might redound to the glory of France, denounced the whole thing as an imposture.
At length, in the year 1826, the eminent Danish scholar, Erasmus Rask, determined to investigate the matter for himself by a journey to Persia, and, after careful inquiry, was enabled to confirm in every particular the good faith of Duperron, and to give his decisive testimony to the genuineness and importance of these ancient records.
The Avesta religion was before all things an ethical religion. It was meant to make men good. The Persians thought of the Supreme Being as one to whom moral distinctions were real and vital, who loved righteousness and hated unrighteousness. This ethically-conceived deity, called Ahura-Mazda (the Omniscient Lord), was for them the one true God. They did, indeed, set over against the good and wise Spirit another spirit, whom they called Angra-Mainyu (the evil-minded), on which account it has been customary to represent the ancient Persians as believers in a dualism rather than as monotheists. But the Persian dualism was involuntary. The prominence given in this religion to the evil spirit, the source and maker of all evil things in the world, was the result and proof of the intensity of its moral tone. The Zoroastrians were so bent on maintaining the holiness and goodness of God that, to save these from being compromised, they were willing to sacrifice or imperil His sovereignty by setting beside Him a rival deity—a sort of anti-god, who should
a be held responsible for all the evil.
Like so many other profound thinkers, Zoroaster had been confronted by the great problem of the origin of evil. That evil exists cannot be denied by any sane man. How did it come into existence? Brooding over this problem, Zoroaster's thought traces back smaller to greater evils, effects to causes, until he reached in his speculation the very beginning of things in the Divine Power. Everywhere, as he has gone backward in his scarchings, he sees the good and the evil associated. The refreshing shower and the destructive thunderbolt, the fire that warms and the flame that burns, always go together.
Everywhere in Nature does the same mystery press upon ourselves, as in that far-distant day to Zoroaster, in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, and in the water under the earth; in lightning, in fire, in steam, in the explosive power of gunpowder and of dynamite ; and, more than all, in water, sparkling, beautiful water, which has slain its tens of thousands, buried beneath the waves. So is it also in the region which transcends Nature,-in the realm of the spiritual. Even the Gospel itself is 'a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death.'
By some seemingly inexorable law, the two opposites are seen to be involved one with another. There is never a day without a succeeding night; no life without death ; no good without evil. Hence Zoroaster supposed in the Supreme Being a primal pair of twin principles, original and opposite ; not independent or separate beings, but only antithetic tendencies or phases of the one God. But gradually, Ahura-Mazda, the Supreme, came to be identified with the beneficent spirit, and Angra-Mainyu, or Ahriman, the destructive tendency, became developed into an independent being, the personified essence of all evil, divorced from all good, and the constant adversary of Ahura-Mazda. Each became sovereign in his own sphere, and had his own council and army.
The importance of this creed, as an attempted solution of the hardest problem of speculation, cannot easily be over-estimated. The good and the evil in existence limit each other. There can be no happiness undefined by sorrow, and no goodness which does not resist sin. Accordingly, the evil principle is recognised as so inevitable that it is represented by an evil god. His very name, however, is simply a thought or a passion. He is more impersonal than personal. The good Deity is not responsible for the wickedness and grief which prevail. His power itself, in this creed, could not have prevented their occurrence. And He alone has a specifically objective name, and one which could only be applied to a person.
Whatever we may think as regards the truth or error of these representations, they are certainly some of the most weighty that have ever been made in the history of human thought, and we find them for the first time in the pages of the Zend-Avesta.
The followers of Zoroaster held it to be the duty of every man
to love and serve the good spirit, and to hate the evil spirit and all his works.
It is told of a certain English lady that she said to a friend, not many years ago, 'Do you make your children bow their heads whenever they mention the Devil's name?' 'I do,' she added, solemnly ; 'I think it is safer.'
Of this expedient duplicity, which takes care to make friends with the lord of unrighteousness, there was no particle in the frank, outspoken Zoroaster. He was a prophet of the most uncompromising spirit, and made no truce with the powers of evil.
While the prudent Hindoos thought it a cunning and useful measure to propitiate the evil powers, the honest-hearted Zoroaster made his motto incessant warfare on them,' execration and renunciation of all the deeds of the prince of lies. No psalmist can detest evil more thoroughly than he does, and the moral standard of the Gâthas, the most ancient part of the Avesta, is a very noble one.
When Zarathustra asks the Supreme, “What is that prayer which in goodness and beauty is worth all that is between earth and heaven?' Ahura Mazda answers : ‘That prayer, O Zarathustra, when a man renounces all evil thoughts, words, and deeds. And in one of the Yaznas this is reaffirmed in that striking declaration : ‘To arrive at prayer is to arrive at a perfect conscience.'
The gem of the Avesta is the beautiful allegory which describes the passage of the faithful soul from this world to the next :
'1. Zarathustra asked Ahura-Mazda, saying, 0 Ahura Mazda, most beneficent spirit, Maker of the material universe, Thou Holy One, when one of the faithful departs this life, where does his soul abide on that night ?'
Ahura-Mazda answered :
‘2. It takes its seat near the head, singing the Astavaiti Gâtha, and proclaiming happiness ; “ Happy is he, happy the
, man, whoever he be, to whom Ahura Mazda gives the full accomplishment of his wishes.” On that night his soul tastes as much of happiness as the whole of the living world can taste.'
The same question and answer are repeated with regard to the second and third night, and then follows :
'7. At the end of the third night, when the dawn appears, it