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by the fall of Adam, nor will they be restored until the son of Perez (the Messiah) comes;” and in Berachoth: “ If the eye were possessed of the power of seeing all things, no creature would live for fear of the countless numbers of evil spirits.”
We pass on now to the traditions and philosophies of the heathens concerning the end, the burning of the world, and the future renovation of all things, which agree so fully even in diction with the Scripture teachings on these points, that attempts have not been wanting to pass off the prophecies of Scripture for idle dreams of mankind. They are interesting in the highest degree, and furnish a wonderful testimony for the foundation of this universal hope of humanity, proclaimed by the Scriptures.
It cannot, of course, likewise be our object to refer to all of them. The prophecies on the end and renovation of the world are generally so closely connected with each other that they cannot easily be separated. This great catastrophe will be brought about by fire. The fears and hopes founded thereon we meet with in the traditions and religions of nearly all nations, especially in the religion of Zoroaster, in the traditions of India, in all the Sibylline oracles, in the songs of the Edda, yea, even in the traditions of the American and Australian tribes, which were separated for centuries from the rest of mankind, thus furnishing conclusive evidence both of the original unity of the race and of the deep impress which had been made upon the human mind prior to the dispersion. In the older Edda we have the following beautiful prophetic description :
** The sun goes out in darkness, the earth falls into the ocean,
The bright stars fall from heaven;
When the Germans were subsequently converted to Christianity, heathen and Christian notions about the future contiagration of the world mixed in a strange manner, as we see from the prayer Muspilli. At the approach of the great night of the gods, all the gods and men perish in the fearful struggle which ensues between the gods and the so-far submissive powers of evil, the stars fall from heaven, and Surtur, the ruler of the fire-world, triumphs. Muspelheim appears with his shining army, and from Niflheiin rushes to the conflict the race of Loki-all traits such as we meet in the Völuspå. On the other hand, there are Christian traits not wanting: Elias performs the role of Donar, Antichrist that of Surturas soon as the blood of Elias drips upon the ground, the great catastrophe commences. According to J. Grimm and K. Simrock, the German legend of the sleeping emperor has likewise reference to the end of all things, and not as is often supposed to a merely political revolution. The points of agreement between these legends and the Bible not to be overlooked are these : The national traditions connect intimately the destruction of the world and the appearance of the great deliverer or renovator, who brings back the original golden age after the universal conflagration, after sin is destroyed from the face of the earth by this conflagration. The difference between the Christian doctrine and the traditions is thus often only this: that, according to the former, Christ appears a second time at, or rather before, the end of the world; while tradition, like the prophecies of the Old Testament, sees all things perspectively together. There is, furthermore, the idea in all traditions, that the end of the world is preceded by a grand and final struggle of the evil principle against the good, and that the latter will triumph. It is especially worthy of note, that according to the traditions all the gods will perish with this world, with the sole exception of Jupiter, as being alone unborn.
In Oriental mythology this old tradition of the destruction of the world passed over into the doctrine of the repetition of worlds, of the great world-periods, the great world-years. This doctrine is found in the books Vaguavalkya III., 10, and in the Indian Puranas. According to this doctrine the de
velopment of the world does not end in a perfectly good, God-ordained state of things, as the Bible teaches, but in an eternally monotonous destruction and renewal. The destruction of the world is only the transition to new destructions, a time of peace never comes, the history of the world is never brought to a close. The same idea we find in Parsisin, according to Theopompus. The world, we are told there, is perfected in 12,000 years. Of these 6000 elapsed from the origin of the first being to the creation of the earth, and the earth lasts 6000, of which the last 3000 Ahriman alone reigns, when the whole system will be renewed. From the East this doctrine found its way into the West, as the drokaTáoTaois, or, as it was later called, the doctrine of the Platonic or Stoic world-year. In “Nemesius de nat. hominum,” c. 38, we have this rermarkable passage: Έν ρηταίς χρόνων περιόδους εκπύρωσιν και φθοράν των όντων απεργάζεσθαι και πάλιν εξ υπαρχής εις το αυτό τον κόσμον αποκαθίστασθαι-γίγνεσθαι δε την αποκατάστασιν του παντός ούχ άπαξ, αλλά πολλάκις, μάλλον δε εις άπειρον και ατελευτήτως τα αυτά αποκαθίστασθαι teach), that in fixed periods of times a burning and destruction of all things take place, and the world returns again from the beginning into the very same shape (i. e., as it was before); and that the restoration of the all happens not once but often, or rather that the same things are brought back an infinite number of times.” According to Firmicus Maternus (Mathes., III., 1, p. 47), this renovation by burning holds good for three hundred thousand years—the burning is followed by a universal inundation, since things burned out cannot poss: bly be called into life.
In Plato's Timous, an old Egyptian priest develops the doctrine of the great world-year--10,000 solar years--as a very old tradition. A great flood is there also spoken of, which periodically returns like certain diseases. The Stoics developed this doctrine so that they taught, that in the new periods the same men, the same souls, would return under the same circumstances, i. e., either Socrates in person, or at least a man exactly like Socrates, who would marry a Xantippe, would be accused by the same men, Melitus, Anytos, etc., and that ad infinitum. Even the constellations, under which this
catastrophe will take place, have been determined by the ancients. Says Seneca, III., Natur., lt., 29: “Berosus, who has interpreted Belus, says that these things happen by the course of the heavenly bodies, and even assigns the time of the universal conflagration and deluge by them, asserting that all earthly things will burn when all constellations which are now running different courses, shall meet in Cancer, and the universal flood shall break in when they shall meet in Capricorn.” As has been stated already, the durations of these world-years were different with different peoples. In the Indian mythology every thing is of a gigantic scale; the worldyear is equal to fourteen Manus or Richis, and every Manus to a day of Brahma, and a day of Brahma to one thousand world-years. In the west the length of such a world-year fluctuates between 5500 and 25,000 years. Beautifully does Lasaulx express himself on this point: “Even if these ideas had no other value than that of magnificent productions of the imagination, and of a bold mind boldly philosophizing with an inadequate knowledge of the subject, still they would deserve, on account of the vastness of the problems which they try to solve, to be studied again by modern philosophers.”
These expectations of a dissolution of the present system of the world were not only widely spread, but they are also traceable to the very remotest antiquity. Josephus (Archæol. Jud., 1, 2, 3) speaks of columns, or pillars, or rather of the legend about these pillars, that was well known all over western Asia, and especially in Egypt. These columns are said to have been built of bricks that they might withstand the universal conflagration, that had been foretold by the first man. In like manner Seneca ascribes the prophecy of the future conflagration to the oldest of all seers and poets, Orpheus (llerc., Oet. V., 1103); the passage is as follows:
“ When laws and morals shall have fled,
The Sibylline prophecies about this catastrophe are too well known to require a special notice here.
Almost in the language of holy writ speaks Ovid (Met., I., 256-258) of this catastrophe: “Jove remembers that it is written in the books of fate, that the time will come when the sea, and the earth, and the citadel of heaven will catch fire, and when the mundane system shall be destroyed.” The final relapse of the universe into a state of chaos is thus described by Lucan, lib. I. :
“When all bonds are loosed and the last hour of the world's
And every thing will rush back into chaos." The agency bringing about this final destruction is, by universal consent, fire. Thus, Heraclitus is represented by Clemens Alex., Strom. V., 20, as teaching: “ The world itself was neither made by a God, nor by a man, but it always was and always shall be, being an ever-living fire;” and by Eusebius: “Heraclitus taught that fire was the beginning of all things, from which all things come and into which all things are dissolved, saying that all things were in a constant change, and the time was fixed for the dissolution of all things into fire, and for the creation of all things out of the same element." Seneca says (de consol., 26): “Stars will rush upon stars and the whole material world will burn in one fire.” Cic. (de nat. Deor., II., 46): “Our (men) are of the opinion, that at last the whole world will be set on fire, when all water is consumed and the earth can neither be supported nor any more air be generated, so that nothing but fire be left, from which the renewal of all things proceeds again." In the hands of the philosophers this doctrine (of a universal conflagration) loses its religious character altogether, wliich the ancient tradition has, being nothing else than a great revolution caused by fire, an idea which our modern philosophers likewise entertain. Although the new world that comes forth out of the universal wreck, is but another edition of the