3. If we carry back our thought to the latter, we find them still more exclusively absorbed in the satisfying of their physical wants; what sub-serves this end, and what contravenes it, constitutes for them the entire sum of “good” and of “evil.” They believe in the existence of a superhuman power; but, as they are most impressed by whatever causes them some physical or worldly injury, they attribute all such occurrences to that power, of which, nevertheless, they have only a very vague idea.
Not being yet capable of conceiving of anything beyond the visible and tangible world, they imagine that power to reside in the beings and the things that are injurious to them. They therefore, regard ferocious or mischievous animals as being the direct and natural representatives of the occult power that they recognize without understanding it. For the same reason, whatever is useful to them is regarded as being the personification of a beneficent power; hence the worship rendered to certain animals, to certain plants, and even to inanimate objects. But humankind, as a general rule, are more keenly alive to evil than good; whatever is beneficial seems to them to be perfectly natural, whereas what is injurious seems to them abnormal and consequently affects them more sensibly. For this reason we find, in all the primitive forms of worship, that the ceremonies in honor of the maleficent power are much more numerous than those which are performed in honor of the beneficent one, the empire of fear in the primitive mind, being much stronger than that of gratitude.
For a long time, the human race knew nothing of “good” or “evil” excepting as connected with physical conditions; the awakening of the perception of moral good and moral evil marked the attainment of a new degree of progress by the human intellect. It was only when this step had been made that the human mind obtained a glimpse of spirituality, and began to understand that the superhuman power does not reside in any of the objects of the material universe, but exists outside the boundaries of the visible and the tangible. This conviction was arrived at by the most advanced intelligences of the ancient world; but even those intelligences were unable to carry their speculations and inductions beyond certain narrow limits.