In our enquiry into the doctrines of the ancients with regard to immortality we have found many different forms of religion varying with the customs and characters of the different nations. The question now comes up, what these thoughts on immortality spring from, - whether they originated in the hopes of the individual, or in the observation of others. It seems as if the last supposition must be the better. Our expectations, fears and hopes about death centre first around others; those who by ties of affection are near to us. So we may safely assume that the faith of the ancients was first formed on objective rather than subjective grounds.
Various elements enter in to form the belief in immortality. The ancient writers thought that the dream supplied the first germ of life to faith, but the duration of this life was limited. Other things were needed to strengthen and establish belief. The most important element which helped to accomplish this was that of feeling; the dread of death, and the yearning for loved dead. Then the element of desire, whether for the individual or for others had wide influence. In its rude form this element was undoubtedly connected with the thought of self. The deep seated longing for after life testified to the worth of life. The ethical element also helped to establish the roots of faith in immortality. This element demanded that good should be rewarded and evil punished. Finally there remain to be mentioned the important doctrines of Resurrection and Transmigration, which were important elements and widely recognized.