Imágenes de páginas
PDF

except a wish, that Mr. Faber, or any other competent investigator of the difficulties of prophecy, would compare with them these facts and inferences; and, with your permission, oblige your readers with the result.

Ortoro.

--

To the Editor of the Christian observer.

VeRily, Mr. Observer, I wish that you and your brother reviewers would keep a sharp look out after your publishers, and not allow them

to undo on the outside of your works all the good you are so laudably trying to do within. Your publisher, I grant, is more discreet in this way than many of his brethren ;

but I sometimes catch him inserting an advertisement in the blue cover of your work, which is not quite the thing. However, as I said before, he is so comparatively innocent in this respect, that I have very little fault to find with him. He never inserts

any thing about Dr. Solomon, or the lottery. But there is another reli

gious publication, which I forbear to name: what does the publisher do

this month, but stitch at the end of it Ben Flower's Address to the Pub

lic, in recommendation of his “Political Review and Monthly Miscellany.” Lest this address should have escaped your notice, I send it you, having indignantly torn it out of the place where the publisher had stitched it, inadvertently I hope, and not as a substitute for the Address of his employers. That your readers may not think my displeasure to have been misplaced, I beg you will favour them with the following specimens:– “ The parliamentary debates, unhappily, on account of the low estimation in which the public characters of the majority of the debaters in administration and opposition are held by the public, exciting, comparatively speaking, but little interest, will therefore be discontinued.” Again: “We frankly inform our readers, that we shall deem it an im- ornt part of eur

duty to watch more particularly the publications on these suojects, proceeding from what is called the religious world, and to warn that class of our timid, but often wellmeaning countrymen, in the established church and amongst the various denominations of dissenters, who are too apt to resign their judgments to the direction of priests, or to men of a priestly disposition, against the fatal errors, --that an indifference to the rights given them by the great Creator, and confirmed to them by the constitution of their country, is to be considered a mark of vital Christianity, --that servility, corruption, bribery, the love of war, pillage, conflagration, and wholesale massacre, are to be apologised for, under the wretched pretence that our common parent has created us all radically, and to the heart's core, utterly vitiated; and that an indulgence of public vices at least, may be allowed, pleaded for, and covered, under the cloak of an evangelical profession.” And again: “Such is the state of degeneracy, in which the majority of all parties in the state and in the church appear to be sunk, that we have very slender hopes that peace able reformation will be the happy lot of this country.” I am a plain man, and do not well understand how such mischievous trash can be even indirectly propagated by any one, much more by a work, which challenges to be beneficially committed inte the hands of youth, and which the wise and good are to recommend without scruple. My advice to you reviewers, Mr. Observer, is to look to your outposts as well as to your citadel. For be your citadel ever so well guarded at present, if you suffer your out-posts to be quietly occupied by the enemy, your citadel too will soon be in his possession. FARMER BLUNT. Feb. 15, 1841,

To the Editorqf the Christian Observer.

By one of the articles in the treaty lately concluded with the court of Brazils, it is stipulated both that the Portugueze slave trade shall be confined within narrow limits, and that the Inquisition shall be abolished at Goa, and shall not be established in the Brazils. The benefits arising to the cause of hamanity from any limitation of the slave trade are now, perhaps, well understood and properly appreciated in this country. I question, however, whether the British public are sufficiently aware of the triumph which the same cause has obtained by the annihilation of the power of the Inquisition in both the Indies. I have been induced, sir, by a desire of impressing this point more strongly on the minds of your readers, to transmit to you for insertion an authentic account of an Auto-da-Fé, taken from Fox's Book of Martyrs, and to which I understand there have been several shocking parallels at Goa, even since that place has been under our protection, and garrisoned by our troops.

“The officers of the Inquisition, .

preceded by trumpets, kettle-drums, and their banner, marched on the 30th of May, in cavalcade, to the palace of the Great Square, where they declared by proclamation, that on the 30th of June the sentence of the prisoners would be put in exeCution. “Now there had not been a spectacle of this kind at Madrid for seYeral years before, for which reason it was expected by the inhabitants with as much impatience as a day of the greatest festivity and triumph. “When the day appointed arfived, a prodigious number of peoPle appeared dressed as splendidly as their respective circumstances would admit. In the Great Square was raised a high scaffold; and thither, from seven in the morning till the evening, were brought criminals Chaist. Observ. No. 111.

of both sexes;–all the inquisition* in the kingdom send their prisoners to Madrid. “Twenty men and women out of these prisoners, with one renegado Mahometan, were ordered to be burned: fifty Jews and Jewesses, having never before been imprisoned, and repenting of their crimes, were sentenced to a long confinement, and to wear a yellow cap; and ten others, indicted for bigamy. witchcraft, and other crimes, were sentenced to be whipped and to be sent to the galleys. These last wore large pasteboard caps, with inscriptions on them, having a halter about their necks, and torches in their hands. “On this solemn occasion, the whole court of Spain was present. The grand inquisitor's chair was placed in a sort of tribunal far above that of the king. The nobles here acted the part of the sheriff's offcers in England, leading such crimimals as were to be burned, and holding them when fast bound with thick cords; the rest of the criminals were conducted by the familiars of the inquisition.” The account of the Mass follows, with the reading of the sentence of condemnation. “Next followed the burning of the twenty-one men and women, whose intrepidity in suffering that horrid death was truly astonishing. Some thrust their hands and feet into the flames with the most dauntless fortitude; and all of them yielded to their fate, with such resolution, that many of the amazed spectators lamented that such heroic souls had not been more enlightened.”

It was by proceedings similar to that which has now been detailed, that the Inquisition at Goa forced a large proportion of the Syrian Christians, on the Malabar coast, to conform to the church of Rome, and the remainder to seek a refuge for their faith to the fastnesses of the mountains and in the comparatively

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

father, that these claims of Paganism are as fallacious as they are arrogaut, and that Christian “godliness” alone “ hath the promise of the life which is to come.” St. Augustin begins his reply to the higher pretensions of heathen philosophy, by an exposure of the common opinion concerning the various employments of the gods. The divisions of their power were supposed to be as numerous as the appearances of nature, or the events of human life. From his earliest moments, man was destined to pass through the successive protection of a multitude of deities, each of them exercising an exclusive and jealous authority, in his limited department. Nor was it the misfortune of the smaller deities alone to be thus cir<umscribed in office and authority. The great and select Gods, the “Dii majorum gentium,” were themselves subjected to similar disgrace. The heaven, the earth, and the sea, were Parcelled out into separate governments, and sometimes all the parts even of the same element were not subject to the same deity. “Hence,” observes our author, “ arose the first question urged by the Christian advocates against the lofty pretensions of their antagonists. From gods like these, what transcendant blessings can be reasonably expected by their votaries How shall beings, whose utmost ef. fort it is to direct some unimportant business upon earth, be themselves possessed of immortality ? How shall they, whose widest government is but a limited department of the world, be able to bestow the immeasurable rewards, the infinite happiness, of “the life to come o’” After noticing the subterfuge of the graver and more philosophical pagans, that the different employments assigned to the deities had always been understood by the wise in another and an higher sense; and that the numerous deities, fancied by the people, were but portions of the original, capacious, and universal

Jupiter; , Dr. Ireland proceeds to prove that this same supreme God, thus sagaciously discovered, and loftily proclaimed, was, in fact, no other than the soul of the world. Deum namgue ire per omnes Terrasque tractusque inaris, coelumque profundum.

But though maintained with much, apparent authority, this philosophy was attended with still greater absurdity than the superstition or the levity which it affected to correct. For if the minor deities were independent of each other, and often at variance (a case commonly supposed), and if they were no more than parts of the same Jupiter; Jupiter, in his nature and properties, must be at variance with himself. Nor was this system less impious than it was absurd. For if Jupiter is the soul of the world, the world itself is pronounced by the same authority to be his visible body. And though, to avoid the mortifying consequence of Jupiter being thus subject to the controul of man, beasts and the inanimate parts of nature were excluded from any participation in this inundane divinity; still, if Jupiter be mankind, he is exposed to many sorts of injury and indignity. He suffers whatever man suffers; he is affected by pain, disgrace, and labour; he dies in men; and, as Augustin condescends to remark, and Dr. Ireland, with a sly view probably to the experience of his juvenile auditors, seems pieased to quote, “is whipped in boys t” “Such, then,” says our acute and learned author, “is the dilemma with which the pa

trons of idolatry were harassed by the Chris

tian writers. If the gods are supposed to exist, the meanness of their nature, the insiguificance of their employments, and the mutual checks resulting from an authorit

thus various and divided, sufficiently shew how incapable they are of bestowing the great rewards of the life to come. On the other hand, if all the gods are resolved into Jupiter, and if Jupiter himself is resolved into the soul of the world,” (as Varro, the

[ocr errors]

most learned of the Romans, and the professed advocate of the supreme divinity of Jupiter, openly declared was his opinion), “ the Deity becomes a mere physical principle. There is no longer a Providence; and consequently the expectation of a future retributiou is at an end." p. 182.

Having mentioned Varro, Dr. Ireland goes on to present a more particular view of the system of that celebrated man, in order to ascertain the real nature of the Roman theology.

“Besides" (addressing himself to his young audience) “ the classical amusement which it may produce, and its illustration of the principles of those books with which you are daily conversant, it will convince us all, that the efforts of natural wisdom were totally incompetent to the discovery of religious truth; that the pagan worship was a mixture of ignorance, superstition, and duplicity; that it was unworthy of the Deity, and therefore falsely aspired to the privilege which was claimed for it, of bestowing eternal happiness.”

The “Antiquities” of Varro are unfortunately lost : but from the minute statement of its plan by St. Augustin alone, we are enabled to collect both its object and its character; and of this statement Dr. Ireland has given a most perspicuous and interesting analysis. The theology thus taught by Varro is divided into three branches: first, the mythic, or fabulous, which he confines to the poets, and allows that, for its licentiousness, it is in many parts deserving of the severest reprehension ; secondly, the civil, to which he gives his ostensible support, but of which it was the opprobrium, that, whatever distinctions were attempted in its favour, it constantly relapsed into the fabulous; and thirdly, the natural, which Varro believed to be the only true and dignified part of religion, the object of which was to inquire concerning the gods, who they were, where they resided, their descent and quality, when they began to exist, whether they were created or eternal, and other such questions.

Having fully investigated the opinion already ascribed to Varro, that God was the soul of the world, and that the world itself was a god, compounded of a soul and a body, Dr.Ireland shews, that at length, for the sake of a favourite principle, the soul of man is identified with Jupiter himself, the soul of the world; that both are, therefore, to be worshipped, or neither; that man is God, or Jupiter is man. The inferences which are drawn at the close of this chapter, from the review of the absurdity and impiety of the Roman theology, are so just and instructive, that we shall present them entire to our readers.

“1. In its religious institutions, paganism looked to no object beyond political convenience. On this ground alone, Varro supported the civil theology of his country; and, in the division of his work, professedly treated of Rome before its gods, the latter having derived all their worship from the will of the former. Revelation is independent of the establishments of men. Through the divine blessing indeed, it is eminently applicable to the civil condition of the world; and those nations are the happiest, which admit most of its influence into the direction of their policy. Our own country exhibits a glorious example of true religion allied with the state, and of the benefits resulting to both ; the state hallowed by religion, religion defended by the state. But, whatever be the views of human governments, whether they admit or refuse a civil connection with it, the Gospel maintains its own character. The everlasting word of God is not altered by any anthority of man; and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever,' ' ' '

“2. The only theology to which Varro gave a genuine approbation, he confined to the philosophical part of his countrymen. Hence it is evident, that he had discovered in it liothing which tended to the common benefit of the world, nothing which ultimately asfected the soul of man. It might amuse cur riosity, but did not lead to happiness. How different the religion of Christ! “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.' The common interest is proved by the necessity of a common knowledge. Every soul is the object of God's gracious call; and it is the characteristic of Christianity, not that it addresses only ‘th?

« AnteriorContinuar »