Page images
PDF
EPUB

*Απαντι δαίμων ανδρί συμπαρίσταται

Ευθες γενομένω, μυςαγωγός τύ βία. The mythology or fabulous hystory of the gods and goddesses is a mixture of fiction and corruption of tradition; a manifest instance of which we have in the accounts of Isis, who probably takes her name, as Vossius observes, from the Hebrew own, Ischa: that she has a crescent upon her head is an allusion to the moon in her increase and decrease; that she is adorned with a kind of serpent, tanquam regio diademate, as he again observes, most probably has reference to the history of the fall. See Deities also.

GIBBON, the historian of the decline and full of the Roman empire, is a consummate adept in the arts of misrepresentation; and, deserting the open path of truth, he has attempted to lead his readers into the intricate labyrinths of error, by assigning, 1. a visionary and inefficient cause for the propagation of the Gospel; (namely, the doctrine of the Millenium ;) 2. attempting to invalidate the evidence of prophecy; 3. unwarrantably imputing uncharitableness to the primitive Christians; 4. drawing wrong conclusions from facts; 5. selecting passages manifestly inconclusive, and suppressing others of the same writers equally connected with the subject. Kett's Bampton Lectures, Sermon 5, p. 183.

As it was the first glory of the Gospel (or Christianity) to call forth into action the most benevolent feelings of the mind, the treasures of its most opulent converts were not lavished on votive offerings and bloody sacrifices, but were appropriated to the relief of the shipwrecked mariner, the distant exile, and the fettered captive. The songs of gratitude and the supplications of distress were no longer wasted on sculptured images, but were addressed to the high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity, and who heareth when the righteous call. The dark and fraudulent oracles of the priests were deserted for the predictions of inspired prophets, and for the lessons of the Book of Life. The parents who formerly exposed their infant-offspring to untimely death, or reared them to maturity that they might barter their innocence for the waves of prostitution, awoke to the exquisite feelings of nature, and led them to the paih: of holiness and virtue. The slave no longer dreaded the stripes of his despotic master; for, as soon as he was purified by the water of baptism, he arose to a spiritual equality with him, and was entitled to all the benefits of a free-born citizen. The bloody combats of gladiators, which had long been the favourite spectacles of the polite as well as of the vulgar, gave way to amusements more refined and more consistent with humanity. The licentious festival of the Saturnalia was superseded by the commemoration of the birth of Christ, and the fcasts of Flora were abolished for the observance of his meritorious Passion. The prophane mysteries of Ceres and of Bacchus, and the horrid barbarity of human sacrifices, were succeeded by the pure A a

and

and simple celebration of baptism and of the Eucharist. The Cross of Calvary, which had been the conteinptible instrument of the execution of slaves, adorned the summit of the churches, and was depictured on the standard of the legions. As soon as divine honours were paid to Christ, the heathen acknowleged the weakness of his gods. -- The barriers of national cunity and inveterate prejudice, which had for ages obstrucicd the intercourse of mankind, through the increasing influence of Christianity were broken down; and the inhabitants of different countries, with benignant looks of esteem and cordiality, met around the social hearth or filled the solemn assembly. The Jet, enlightened by the evangelical law, no longer viewed the Gentile with disdain, or refused him the cominon offices of benevolence: nor did the converted Gentile any longer survey the Jew as the hater of mankind and the advocate for an iniolerant superstition. The nations, who, before the glorious advent of Christ, had been only distinguished by their abject and coarse barbarity, rose, from the condition of rude savages, to a higher cleration in the scale of reason and of morals. The Egyptian Idolater ceased to bend at the shrine of Serapis and Typhong and to exalt the sacred aniinals of his country to the rank of celestial spirits. The mysterious syinbols of the sacerdotal hieroglyphich were changed for the practical and intelligible precepts of the GospelThe Parthian and Persian tribes instituted the decent rites of sepulture, abolished their incestuous alliances, and restrained the inordinate license of polygainy. The varlike inhabitants of Scythia, of Germany, of Spain, of Pannonia, and Briain, forsook their gloomy superstition for the pure religion of Christ; and, while its precepts softened their ferocious spirit, they imbibed a taste for literature and for arts. Their adoption of Christianity from their Roman foes was, at once, an argument of its intrinsic excellence and of their ardent and sincere veneration for truth. They relinquished the savage prospect of reveling afier death in the gloomy palace of Odin for the bright hope of a heaverly paradise. They no longer shed the blood of human victims at the altar of their shapeless idols, but bent a willing knce to the God of mercy. The druids, who were wont to lead the rude inhabitants of Germany and Gant from the deep recesses of the forests to the field of carnage and deathì, and inspired them with the delusive hope that the soul would re-animate another body, were succeeded by peaceful orders of ecclesiastics, who taught their converts the real value of life and the true doctrine of immortality. Kett's Barnpton Lectures, Sermon 4, p. 149, &c.

The term Son of God, I suppose, was then first assumed, when the acros suet syevetu, and that therefore the rigus was not necessarily usos. The royos, who existed in the beginning, who existed with God, who was God, who existed from all eternity, av again, with God, became incarnate; and, in consequence of this incarnation, “We beheld his glory, the g.ory as of the only-begotten of the Father,” After this, the erangelist drops the term royos, and uses only uvos; and, of the unos, he says, (c. iii.)

The

[ocr errors]

« The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.” But it is to be observed that this is not said of the noros, - but of the Son, i.e. of the Man, who, by the union of the Dogos with him, became the iros, the Son of God. Until, then, the final period of the dispensation, all things are delivered into the hands of the Son; but, when that period shall be fully come, and the victory over death and hell be completely accomplished, when all things shall be subdued unto him, then, saith St Paul, shall the Son, ó ïsos, also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. The noyos will then be altogether in the unity of the Godhead, the delegated power will be revoked from the Son, on whom it had been conferred, and the whole of the dispensation will be finally closed, because all its purposes will have been accomplished. Hawtrey on the Divinity of the Son of God,

Those who disbelieve the assistances of divine GRACE, because they have not an inward sense of them, should consider that an inward and distinct perception of the motions of God's spirit would be inconsistent with that degree of freedom which is necessary in a state of probation. For such a sense of the inward workings of the spirit would lay too great a restraint upon us, and overpower the will; and we should not dare to sin under so sensible indications. Seed's 10th Sermon.

Clement the 7th seeined inclined to satisfy the King of England, HARRY the 8th, in his demand of a divorce, but started several dificulties as to the manner of proceeding, which only heightened the king's hopes and increased his importunity. At length, however, he appointed several cardinals and divines to examine the validity of the marriage, who unanimously declared that it was agreeable to the law of God. This examination of the cardinals was perhaps only proposed by the pope as a means of delay, as he afterwards protracted the time for the decision of the affair upon various pretences. The English embassadors again urging that they could prove the dispensation of Julius II. in favour of the marriage, not canonical, he appointed a second examination; and, at the desire of the cardinals, two judges were appointed to decide the affair in England, viz. Cardinals Wolsey and Campegio; to which last he gave a bull, annulling the marriage, with leave to shew it to the king and Wolsey, but with express orders not to give sentence till he should receive a second mandate from Rome. Modern Univ. Hist. vol. xxvi. p: 296, :

Clement, having continued some weeks in France in the year 1534, returned to Rome in the end of December, and soon after, at the instigation of the emperor's embassadors, he excommunicated Harry the 8th and all his subjects, because he had rejected his lawful wife and married another. Henry was no sooner informed of this sentence, which was published on the 24th of March, than he withdrew his obedience from the church of Rome, and by an act of parliainent abolished the pope's authority in England, and even made it capital to name the word pope. Idein, p. 304.. Aao

And And may we not, from comparing tlicse two passages, very fairly infer the suplicilik and not the infallibility, of the pope? . .

The term Honoun is of dubious iinport. According to the notions of these times, a man may' blaspheme God, sell his country, murder his friend, pick the pocket of his fellow-sharper, and employ his whole life in seducing others to vice and perdition, and yet be accounted a man of houour, provided he be accustomed to speak certain words, wear certain clothes, and haunt certain company. Beattie on Truth, p. 414.

No penal laws were enacted in England against ILERESY, till the reign of Henry IV. who employed them as an engine of state; and he engaged the parliament to pass a law for that purpose, whereby it was enacted, that, when any heretic, wiro rc lapsed or refused to abjure his opinions, was delivered over to the secular arın by the bishop or his commissaries, he should be committed to the flames by the civil magistrate, before the whole people. Hume's Hist. vol. ij. p. 65.

That Horns were made use of as marks of dignity and religious veneration may be abundantly proved froin many learned authors, but how they came to be adopted to this purpose is not fully accounted for; but it is most probable that it arose from the use of sacrifices, and that, as bulls and ranis were the beasts usually offered up, the horns enight be annexed to the altars, as distinguishing marks of the two different kinds of allars on which the sacrifices were offered; or, perhaps, if the invention of Idolatry, might be first made use of in honour to the moon in her increasing and decreasing state, when she resembles a pair of horns. See p. 177, 2d paragraph.

It is hard to conceive how HIEROGLYPHICS, viz. pictures or symbols, could be accommodated to the use of history; vide Shuckf. Connect. vol. ii. p. 295. And I imagine that their being called hieroglyphics, or sacred marks, intimates that they were not at tirst designed for common use, but for the purposes of their superstition, which they called sacred. I therefore most incline to think that hieroglyphics were invented by the priests, after the discovery of alphabetical letters in Sesac's and Solomon's time. Winder's Hist. of Knowledge, vol. ii. p. 137, &c.

And the use of these hieroglyphics, or mystic symbols, seems to have been principally for secrecy and concealment, that strangers inight not be able to discern the recency of their state. Idem, vol. i. p. 258.

As to the Egyptians in particular, their continuing to use hieroglyphical writing, and excelling in it, shews that they could not have invented alphabetical; for this, if we suppose it invented so early as before the time of Moses, would have abolished that, just as the use of the ten cyphers has all the other imperfect methods of notation of numbers. Nor does it seem very likely that hieroglyphical writing should lead to

alphabetical;

alphabetical; bit rather from it, since hieroglyphical characters, are the iminediate representatives of objects and ideas, and the mediate representatives not of letters, or simple articulate sounds, but of words and even of clusters of words. It seems probable, also, that the Egyptians would even be backward in receiving alphabetical writing from the Israelites, at the time that the Philistines or Phanicians did, as being then greatly advanced in the use of their own hieroglyphical writing, and prejudiced in its favour. And thus we may solve that very difficult question, why the Egyptians, who seem to have erected a kingdom early, and to have brought it to considerable perfec, tion before Joseph's time, and to very great perfection afterwards, chiefly by his means, should yet have left no history of their affairs, not even of the great empire undler Sesit, or Sesostris, and his successors? Even the Grecks, who had no alpha, betical writing till six hundred years after the time of Moses, have given a better account of their affairs than the Egyptians. It ought however to be remarked, in this place, that, if we suppose the Jewish history to have been recorded by the divine appointment and direction, which is highly probable, this will lessen the force of the present arguinent, but not quite destroy it. The late reception of writing amongst the Greeks is both an argument that it did not exist in any other neighbouring nation before the time of Moses, and also is consistent with its being miraculously communicated to him. If alphabetical writing was known upon the continent of Asia and Africa six hundred years before Cadmus, how could it be kept from the Greeks till his arrival amongst them, and then accommodated to the Greek tongue only very impera fectly? For the Greeks received but sixteen letters from him. But, if alphabetical writing was given to Moses miraculously, it is easy to be conceived that it should not arrive at Greece sooner than the time of Cadmus. For the Jews were a separatç people, their priests kept the writings of Moses in the ark, i. e. the only alphabetical writings in the world, and must be some time before they could be ready and expert either in reading or writing. Thus the art of alphabetical writing might not transpire to any of the neighbouring nations till the time of Eli, when the ark, with the writings of Moses in it, was taken by the Philistines. For, since the writings of Moses were not in the ark when it was put into the temple by Solomon, it may be that the Philistines kept them, and learnt from them the art of writing alphabetically, being now sufficiently prepared for it by such notions concerning it as had transpired to them, previously, in their former intercourses with the Israelites. And thus the Phænicians, or Philistines, will have appeared the inventors of letters to the Greeks; and Cadmus may well be supposed to have been able to accommodate the Phænician method of writing, in an imperfect manner, to the Greek language, about two generations after the taking of the ark. Hartley's Observations on Man, vol. i. p. 309.

The way of writing in hieroglyphics seems to have been spread in the Lower Egypt before the days of Moses; for thence came the worship of their gods in the various shapes of birds, beasts, and fishes, forbidden in the second commandment. Now this

emblematical

« PreviousContinue »