Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

at present it is barren and thin of inhabitants. Sir John Chardin accounts for the difference. The climate of Persia is so dry, that scarce a shower falls during summer: even grafs will not grow without being watered. This defect of climate was remedied by the ancient inhabitants, tèrmed Gaures ; among whom it was a religious act, to cultivate waste land and to plant trees for fruit. It was a maxim in the sacred book of that religion, that he who cultivates the ground with care and diligence, acquires a greater stock of religious merit, than can be acquired by ten thousand prayers. The religion, on the contrary, of the present Mahometan inhabitants, Içads them to take no care for to-morrow: they grasp at present enjoyment, and leave all the rest to fate.

Superstitious rites in some religions, are successfully employ'd to enforce certain moral duties. The Romans commonly inade their folemn covenants in the capitol, before the statue of Jupiter ; by which foleinnity he was understood to guarantee the covenant, ready to pour cut vengeance upon the transgrellor. When an oath enters into any engagement, the

Burates,

Burates, a people in Grand Tartary, require it to be given upon a mountain, held to be sacred ; they are firmly persuaded, that the person who swears a falsehood, will not come down alive. The Ellenes, a Jewish sect, bound themselves by a folenin oath, to fhun unlawful gain, to be faithful to their promises, not to lie, and never to harm any one. In Cochin-China, the fouls of those who have been eminent for arts or arms, are worshipped. Their 1tatues are placed in the temples; and the fize of a statue is proportioned to the merit of the person represented. If that be impartially executed, there cannot be a nobler incitement to public spirit. The Ecyprians did not reach the thought of honouring virtue after death ; but they difhonoured vice, by excluding it froin the Elysian fields.

The falutary influence of religion on morality, is not confined to pure religion, whether by its connection with morality in general, or by inculcating particular moral duties. There are many religio:15 doctrines, donbtful or perhaps erroneous, that contribute also to enforce morality. Some followers of Confucius afcribe iin

mortality

mortality to the souls of the just only; and believe that the souls of the wicked perish with their bodies. The native Hindows are gentle and humane: the metempsychosis or tranfmigration of fouls, is an article in their creed ; and hence the prohibition to destroy any living creature, because it might disturb the foul of an ancestor. In the second chapter of the Sadder, it is written, that a man whose good works are more numerous than his fins, will

go to paradise ; otherwise that he will be thrust into hell, there to remain for ever. It adds, that a bridge erected over the great abyss where hell is situated, leads from this earth to paradise ; that upon the bridge there stands an angel, who weighs in a balance the merits of the passengers ; that the passenger whose good works are found light in the balance, is thrown over the bridge into hell; but that the passenger whose good works preponderate, proceeds in his journey to paradise, where there is a glorious city, gardens, rivers, and beautiful virgins, whose looks are a perpetual feast, but who must not be enjoy’d. In the fourth chapter of the Sadder, good works are

zealously

I

4 Oh my

[ocr errors]

zealously recommended in the following
parable. Zeradusht, or Zoroalter, being
in company with God, faw a mản in hell
who wanted his right foot.
Creator," said Zoroaster, “who is that

man who wants the right foot ?! God

answered, He was the king of thirty" three cities, reigned many years, but never did

any good, except once, when, “ seeing a sheep ty'd where it could not

reach its food, he with his right foot push“ ed the food to it; upon which account

that foot was faved from hell.” In Japan, those of the Sinto religion believe, that the fouls of good men are translated to a place of happiness, next to the habitation of their gods. But they admit no place of torment; nor have they any notion of a devil, but what animates the fox, a very mischievous animal in that country. What then becomes of the souls of ill men ? Bea ing denied entrance into heaven, they wander about to expiate their sins. Those of the Bubsdo religion believe, that in the other world, there is a place of misery as well as of happiness. Of the latter there are differenç degrees, for different degrees of virtue; and yet, far from enVOL, IV.

vying

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

own.

[ocr errors][merged small]

vying the happier lot of others, every inhabitant is perfectly satisfied with his

There are also different degrees of inisery ; for justice requires, that every inan be punished according to the nature and number of his fins. Jemma O is the severe judge of the wicked : their vices

appear to him in all their horror, by means of a mirror, named the mirror of knowledge. When fouls have expiated their fins, after suffering long in the prison of darkness, they are sent back into the world, to animate ferpents, toads, and such vile animals as resembled them in their former existence. From these they pass into the bodies of more innocent animals; and at last are again fuffered to enter human bodies ; after the diffolution of which, they run the same course of happiness or misery as at first. The people of Benin, in Africa, believe a man's fha-. dow to be a real being, that gives. testimony after death for or against him; and that he accordingly is made happy or miferable in another world. The Negroes hold that their own country is delicious above all others; and it is the belief of seteral of their tribes, that where-ever they

« AnteriorContinuar »