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It was while engaged in the preparation of a book -still unfinished-on the Sway of Friendship in the World's Forces, that I came upon facts concerning the primitive rite of covenanting by the inter-transfusion of blood, which induced me to turn aside from my other studies, in order to pursue investigations in this direction.
Having an engagement to deliver a series of lectures before the Summer School of Hebrew, under Professor W. R. Harper, of Chicago, at the buildings of the Episcopal Divinity School, in Philadelphia, I decided to make this rite and its linkings the theme of that series; and I delivered three lectures, accordingly, June 16-18, 1885.
The interest manifested in the subject by those who heard the Lectures, as well as the importance of the theme itself, has seemed sufficient to warrant its presentation to a larger public. In this publishing, the form of the original Lectures has, for convenience sake, been adhered to; although some considerable additions to the text, in the way of illustrative facts,
have been made since the delivery of the Lectures while other similar material is given in an Appendix.
From the very freshness of the subject itself, there was added difficulty in gathering the material for its illustration and exposition. So far as I could learn, no one had gone over the ground before me in this particular line of research; hence the various items essential to a fair statement of the case must be searched for through many diverse volumes of travel and of history and of archæological compilation, with only here and there an incidental disclosure in return. Yet, each new discovery opened the way for other discoveries beyond; and even after the Lectures, in their present form, were already in type, I gained many fresh facts, which I wish had been earlier available to me. Indeed, I may say that no portion of the volume is of more importance than the Appendix; where are added facts and reasonings bearing directly on well-nigh every main point of the original Lectures.
There is cause for just surprise that the chief facts of this entire subject have been so generally overlooked, in all the theological discussions, and in all the physio-sociological researches, of the earlier and the later times. Yet this only furnishes another illustration of the inevitably cramping influence of a preconceived fixed theory,—to which all the ascertained facts must be conformed,-in any attempt at thorough
and impartial scientific investigation. It would seem to be because of such cramping, that no one of the modern students of myth and folk-lore, of primitive ideas and customs, and of man's origin and history, has brought into their true prominence, if indeed he has even noticed them in passing, the universally dominating primitive convictions: that the blood is the life; that the heart, as the blood-fountain, is the very soul of every personality; that blood-transfer is soul-transfer; that blood-sharing, human, or divine-human, secures an inter-union of natures; and that a union of the human nature with the divine is the highest ultimate attainment reached out after by the most primitive, as well as by the most enlightened, mind of humanity.
Certainly, the collation of facts comprised in this volume grew out of no pre-conceived theory on the part of its author. Whatever theory shows itself in their present arrangement, is simply that which the facts themselves have seemed to enforce and establish, in their consecutive disclosure.
I should have been glad to take much more time for the study of this theme, and for the re-arranging of its material, before its presentation to the public; but, with the pressure of other work upon me, the choice was between hurrying it out in its present shape, and postponing it indefinitely. All things considered, I chose the former alternative.