(1) The worship of.the one God was a primeval principle beginning with the very dawn of human history. As surely as God was first, so surely must the pure worship have prcceded the various forms of idolatry. It was man's recognition of a higher Power when dominion was given "over all the earth." But man sinned and wcnt away from God ; it was disobedience first, and then murder. Polygamy camc next and polytheism was not far behind the other transgressions. There is no in stance in the world's history where monotheism has been evolved from polytheism or idol wor ship. Dr. Frank B. Jevons says: "Indeed, if we base ourselves upon evolutionary principles, we may safely say that whatever may have been the genesis and history of monotheism, one thing is certain. namely, that it cannot have been devel oped out of polytheism" (Introduction to the His tory of Religion, p. 387).
The further we go back among the earliest mythologies, the nearer we come to the primitive principle. When the Hindus first come within the range of history their devotions are paid to earth and air and sea, the sun is praised, and the rain implored; their gods are few in number. In the early Vedic age there were only seven promi nent deities, but polytheism rapidly developed upon the soil of India until her pantheon con tained millions of gods.
(2) The more modern polytheism of Rome or even of ancient Greece need hardly be examined, hut in Egypt there was at first only one Horus. In later periods, however, this onc dcity had de veloped into twelve, each one representing a dif ferent conception, but all of them having been evolved from the first. Dr. Wiedmann gives the naines of twelve or more different Horuses who were worshiped in different localities, and some times several of them were adored in the same temple.
Many eminent Egyptologists, including Mari ette, Brugsch, and Renouf, claim that the earliest monuments show the primitive religion of the Nile valley to have been monotheism. It is
claimed that when the Egyptians moved into the Nile a thousand years before Menes, thry had only one God, and that was Nu. Surely this name is very nearly akin to Ann, who is described upon the tablets as the supreme God of ancient Accad.
Maspero and others take exceptions to the mon otheistic theory, but all Egyptologists agree that there are comparatively few divinities mentioned in the beginning of monumental history, and that the number steadily increases, until during the Roman era they became almost numberless. All agree that in the earliest forms of worship among the Egyptians there are no such traces of super stition as in the later eras.
Maspero writes as follows : "Ancient tradi tion affirms that the earliest Egyptian temples con tained neither images nor inscriptions, and, in point of fact, the temple of the Sphinx is bare" (Maspero, Archoology, p. 86).
Up to this time the temple of the Sphinx was the only one of that earliest time which had been uncovered, but at Medum, in 1891, Dr. Petrie dug up a temple which was even more ancient, and it is a very suggestive fact that in this early sanctu ary, so simple and massive in its construction, "no sign of an idol, or statue, or magical text, was discovered." (Petrie, Illedum, London, 1892.) It is also true that the earliest writings of the Egyptians, as "The Precepts of Phath Hotep," are much higher in moral tone than the mass of their later productions.
That the people of Egypt were at one time wor shipers of the true God is evident from the proph ecy of Isaiah. He says: "And the Lord shall smite Egypt and heal it, and they shall return even to the Lord, and he shall heal them" (Is. xix :22). The Hebrew word which is here ren dered "return" is translated by the word return, or its equivalents, 815 times in the Old Testament, so there is no room for philological dispute on this important point.
In the valley of the Euphrates the same rule obtains in relation to the multiplication of deities.