« AnteriorContinuar »
perours of Rome were adored, as gods. In that extensive country, called Thibet, lying west of China, we find a whole nation, paying divine honours to a living mortal, under the title of the Grand Lama. He is considered by some, as the vicegerent of God; by others, as God himself. It will not appear upon examination, that, in the religion of modern pagans, there is less, either of the impure or ferocious, than was noticed, as belonging to ancient heathen worship. Indeed it must not be forgotten, that the religion of the Hindoos, which, as already observed, has, in some form or other, overspread the most populous countries of the East, bears no inconsiderable resemblance to the mythology of Greece and Italy. In the North of Europe, before the introduction of Christianity, human sacrifices were offered. The same mode of worship, it is well known, was adopted by the Mexicans. Every captive, taken in war, after having been cruelly tormented, was sacrificed to the gods. I forbear to mention those circumstances of savage barbarity, with which these offerings were accompanied. In the islands of the South Sea, human sacrifices are still offered. Though it does not appear, so far as I know, that the Hindoos, at present, offer human sacrifices, by immolation at an altar, it is nevertheless true, that until within a few years, such victims were offered
to the river Ganges.**This sacrifice, was performed in fulfilment of a vow, made by parents, apprehensive of not having issue. Under certain circumstances, it is considered, as a religious rite, to offer in sacrifice, either:the sick, or such as are far advanced in years. ... . . . . . . . . You have often heard of that horrible idol, which, in the province of Orissa, is constituted the object of pagan worship. As other temples are usually adorned with figures, emblematical of their religion, iso the temple, which is, devoted to this idol, has representations, numerous and various, of that vice, which constitutes the essence of his worship. In this are chanted songs the most licentiousf These, say the infatuated devotees, are the delight of the god.” To engage in this worship, incredible numbers assemble annually from various parts of Northern India. Under the wheels of the car, on which this enormous image is conveyed, it is common for persons to throw themselves for the purpose of being crushed to death. The god is said to smile at beholding these sanguinary libations of ‘This account, let it be considered, is given by an eye witness, a man highly respected for piety and ..so win. ***Eas. in hi. * *. *** abolished by Lord Wellesley. Chris. Obs. Xii. 421." to . . ." to rob part of the earth,” says Dr. Rouenoson, co vide outs. ion between the gratification of sensual desire, and the rites of public religion, displayed with more avowed indecency than in India.”
literature. Nor have twelve years elapsed, since he was present to behold this scene of lewdness, abomination, and horrour. Another writer gives a corresponding account, in a spirit equally indignant. “These pagans,” says he, “in forming their idols, cast out every vestige of beauty; every thing, that, by consent of mankind, is supposed to convey pleasing sensations; and, in their place, substitute the most extravagant and unnatural deformity, the most loathsome filth, and most disgusting obscenity. It is not in language to convey an adequate idea of their temples and idols; and, if it were, no purpose could be answered by it, but the excitement of painful and abominable emotions.” In the worship of modern pagans, we find not only all that is impure and sanguinary, but the most degrading stupidity. By these institutions the rational nature of man is disgraced and outraged. The Sovereign of the Universe requires a ralional service. The worship of the Heathen is strikingly the reverse. “What the Hindoos” call prayer, and which they suppose to be so efficacious, bears little or no resemblance to what the Jews and Christians signify by that term. It is no proper address to the Supreme Being, expressing sentiments of humility, veneration, and submission ; but the
* Institutions of Moses, 157.
mere repetition of certain words, the pronunciation of which can be supposed to operate only as a charm. The worshippers of Vishnou pretend, that his name, though-pronounced without any determinate:motive, or even in contempt, cannot fail to produce a good effect. This, alone, say they, has the power of effacing crimes.” . . . o. . . . . . -*It will, I suppose; be acknowledged,...that the facts which have been exhibited, together with the remarks to which they have led, are sufficient to illustrate theatext; and to shows that ignorance of Gob may be predicated, at least, with as much propriety, of modern, as of ancient heathen. Still, as marks of the divine existence and perfections are impressed on all visible objects; as the heavens declare the glory of the Lord, and the firmament showeth his handy work; you may indulge the hope, that men of distinguished talents, industry, and virtue, will yet risetup in the pagan world, and make known to their brethren the way of life. . . . . . . To this I shall briefly reply, that, among the ancient heathen, men of the description, now mentioned, did, actually appear. There were men, whose superiour application and wisdom procured for them the reputation of philosophers. Still the state of religious knowledge was such, as has been described. . . . . . Many reasons.might be assigned why the Greek and Roman philosophers did little or nothing towards dispelling the darkness, in which their respective ages were involved. Of these many reasons we have time, at present, to select but one. Philosophers were extremely erroneous and discordant as to their views of the Supreme Being. There is no subject, says the Roman orator, concerning which, not only the ignorant, but also the learned, are so little agreed. While some denied the existence of God, others spake of it in very doubtful terms, or confounded his existence with that of the Universe. Nor was the uncertainty less in regard to the divine government. By the illustrious author, just mentioned, it is represented as the great question, at issue among philosophers, whether the gods enjoy their existence in eternal leisure, regardless of human affairs; or whether having created the world, they employ their power and wisdom in sustaining and governing it. But in whatever consisted the defect of ancient philosophy, one thing is certain. Darkness still covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. A multitude of dissolute gods were still adored; their temples were crowded with worshippers; their altars were smoking with incense; indecent and cruel rites were held sacred; the crimes of celestial beings were called to remembrance and imitated. Now, if in the most refined ages of Greece and Rome, when the human intellects appear to have