The earliest writers upon cholera emphasized its remarkable preference for particular places; and the history of each successive epidemic implies, besides an importation of the contagion, certain local conditions which may be either general sanitary defects or peculiarities of climate and soil.
The only good of man is the pure existence of the soul, which in itself, apart from the contagion of the body, is perfectly free from error or defect; if only it can be restored to the untrammelled activity of its original being, nothing external, nothing bodily, can positively impair its perfect welfare.
Taylor, Te Ika a Maui, 165), or when uncleanness is removed as if it were a physical secretion by washing, wiping and so forth, it is hard to say whether what we should now call a " material " nature is not ascribed to the sacred, more especially when its transmissibility after the manner of a contagion is the trait that holds the attention.
Jevons (in An Introduction to the History of Religion, vii.) distinguishes between " things taboo," which have the mystic contagion inherent in them, and " things tabooed," to which the taboo-infection has been transmitted.
It is the note of every great religious reformer, Moses, Buddha, Paul, Mani, Mahomet, St Francis, Luther, to enlighten and direct it to higher aims, substituting a true personal holiness for a ritual purity or taboo, which at the best was viewed as a kind of physical condition and contagion, inherent as well in things and animals as in man.