supreme God; to whose honour they burnt incense, but of whom they had no image. The words, Mr. Marsden says, which were on the tablet were three, tien, heaven; hoang-tien, supreme heaven; and Shang-ti, sovereign Lord. De Guignes tells us, that the word tien stands indifferently for the visible heaven and the Supreme Deity. Marco Paulo tells us, that from the God whose name was on the tablet the Chinese only petition for two things, sound intellect and health of body, but that they had another God, of whom they had a statue or idol called Natigai, who was the God of all terrestrial things; in fact, God, the Creator of this world, (inferior or subordinate to the Supreme Being,) from whom they petition for fine weather, or whatever else they want—a sort of Mediator. Here is evidently a striking similarity to the doctrines of some of the early Christian heretics.
It seems pretty clear from this account, that originally, and probably at this time also, like all the ancients of the West in the midst of their degrading idolatry, they yet acknowledged one Supreme God, with many subordinate agents, precisely the same as the Heathens of Greece and Rome, and modern Christians, under the names of inferior gods, angels, demons, saints, &c. In fact they were Deists.
7. In addition to the authorities which have been produced to prove that the whole of the different Gods of antiquity resolve themselves at last, when properly examined, into different names of the God Sol, it would be easy, if it were necessary, to produce as many more from every quarter of the world; but what, it may be asked, will you do with the Goddesses? The reader shall now see; and first from the learned and Rey. Mr. Maurice.
“Whoever will read the Geeta with attention will perceive in that small tract the outlines of nearly all the various systems of theology in Asia. That curious and ancient doctrine of the Creator being both male and female, mentioned in a preceding page to be designated in Indian temples by a very indecent exhibition of the masculine and feminine organs of generation in union, occurs in the following passages: ‘I am the father and mother of this world; I plant myself upon my own nature, and create again and again this assemblage of beings; I am generation and dissolution, the place where all things are deposited, and the inexhaustible seed of all nature; I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things.’” In another part he more directly says, “The great Brahme is the womb of all those various forms which are conceived in every natural womb, and I am the father that soweth the seed.’” Herodotus informs us that the Persian Mithras was the same with the Assyrian Venus Mylitta or Urania, and the Arabian Alitta. Mr. Cudworth shews that this must have been the Aphrodita Urania, by which was meant the creating Deity. It is well known that the Venus Aphrodite was a Phœnician Deity, worshiped particularly at Citium, and was of both the male and female gender,—the Venus Genitrix.
Proclus describes Jupiter, in one of the Orphic Hymns, to be both male and female, αρσενοφηλυν, Hermaphroditic, And Bishop Synesius adopts it in a Christian hymn. The Priapus of the Etruscans was both male and female. (See Table LVIII. of Gorius.) He has the membrum virile, with the female breasts.
Damascius, treating of the fecundity of the Divine Nature, cites Orpheus as teaching, that the Deity was at once both male and female, αρσενοθηλυν αυτην ὑπεςησατο, προς ενδειξιν των παντων γεννητικης ουσιας, to shew the generative power by which all things were formed. Proclus, upon the Timæus of Plato, cites the following:
Ζευς αρσην γενετο, Ζευς αμβροτος επλετο νυμφη·
Jupiter is a man; Jupiter is also an immortal maid. And in the same commentary, and the same page, we read that all things were contained εν γαςερι Ζηνος, in the womb of Jupiter.
- Tom. II. p. 350.
- Maurice Ind. Ant. Vol. IV. p. 705.
- Hyde de Rel. Pers. Cap. iii. p. 95.
- Ubi sup. p. 304.