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EVERYTHING has a pedigree. Everything, whether animate or inanimate, whether a thing of sense or a creation of the mind, every idea whether based on fact or the growth of a delusion, every truth and every error, has its pedigree.
A pedigree is a line of ancestors, a chain of causes and effects, each link first an effect and then a cause. Rarely, if ever, is an effect the result of an isolated cause, but causes cross and interlace in such endless combinations, that novel effects are continually being produced.
The simplest facts have endless pedigrees of causes and effects. A pebble lying on the path appears a simple object, commonplace and uninteresting; but let the geologist unfold its pedigree, and trace it down from the rock of which it was originally part, at a time when our planet was a barren lifeless mass of matter, and when it did not contain even the most elementary form of life; following this little
lump of matter through all the convulsions of Nature, the vicissitudes of climate, the development of vegetable and animal life, and the thousand circumstances which have contributed to the reduction of that pebble to its present form and nature, and determined its present situation, and we find a mass of causes and effects widening out in the retrospect with bewildering complication.
And so with each living animal, lines of ancestors multiplying as they recede into antiquity in geometrical proportion, until the ancestry seems to include the whole world of Nature, and involve all beings in one vast cousinship; always exposed to vicissitudes of climate, food, and the endless other incidents of the great struggle for existence, ever at work, modifying the characteristics of each race, evolving new forms and making fixity of type impossible.
Idea and ideals have also their pedigrees; but the ancestor ideas are not so easily dissected as those of material facts. Still ideas and ideals are facts, none the less so, that they may have been imaginary and false. An idea is a fact although a mere figment of the brain, founded on a fallacy; and when an idea becomes an article of faith, it becomes so strong a fact that it will be the parent of a thousand other ideas, each in its turn the father of a thousand others.
Amongst ideas, that of the Devil may rank as one which has taken a powerful hold on the mind of man. The present volume is directed to an examination of some of the many causes which have contributed to the construction of the ideal Devil.
It is difficult to discriminate with accuracy all the links which have formed the direct lines of descent, as each link in its turn has been a centre of radiation, a point of departure for other conceptions. It has been necessary to examine some of these collateral branches, in order to illustrate the process of divergence and point out some of the collateral relationships; and indeed the temptation to digress is great. But this has been done as little as possible, the object being, not to dogmatize on the result, but to examine the origin of a single but complex ideal, and the stages by which the result is connected with the original germs.
The Devil treated of is the modern orthodox Devil of Christian Belief. No attempt is therefore made to discuss the ideals and personifications of evil realized by other creeds, except so far as light may seem to be thrown on the history of the Christian Devil.
As to the conclusions to which the facts may point, it is for each to form his own opinion. The existence or non-existence of the Devil, his personality or abstract existence, are not the questions
treated of in these pages: an ideal of the Devil has existed, and still exists, and the only object is to trace the origin and evolution of that ideal.
Amongst the numerous works from which I have drawn materials for the pedigree, I would mention those of Mr. E. B. Tylor, Mr. Moncure Conway, M. François Lenormant, and the late Mr. Keightley, all of which have been of great assistance to me. I have endeavoured as far as possible to acknowledge in foot-notes the authorities from which I have drawn; where I may not have done this, I still would express my indebtedness to those authors whose works I have used.
MOORE PLACE, ESHER,
F. T. H.
Definition of Evil-Personal Evil-Social and Domestic Evil-
The Hebrew Satan-Old Testament Satans-The Satan of Job