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mortification, such as the torturing and macerating the body with painful labour, excessive abstinence, continual prayer and contemplation. Their penances, whether for original or voluntary sin, are carried to extravagance; and those who put an end to their lives by such severities, are termed the sacred victims of repentance, consumed by the fire of divine love. Such suicides are esteemed peculiarly meritorious in the eye of Heaven; and it is thought, that their sufferings cannot fail to appease the anger of the Deity. That celibacy is a state of purity and perfection, is a prevailing notion in many countries: among the Pagans, a married man was forbidden to approach the altar, for some days after knowing his wife; and this ridiculous notion of pollution, contributed to introduce celibacy among the Roman Catholic priests *. The Emperor Otho, anno 1218, became a signal penitent: but instead of atoning for his sins by repentance and restitution, he laid himself down to be trodden under foot by the boys of his kitchen: and frequently submitted to the discipline of the whip, inflicted by monks. The Emperor Charles V. toward the end of his days, was sorely depressed in spirit with fear of hell. Monks were his only companions, with whom he spent his time in chanting hymns. As

Fasting and celibacy were by Zoroaster condemned with abhorrence, as a criminal rejection of the best gifts of Providence.

As an expiation for his sins, he in private disciplined himself with such severity, that his whip, found after his death, was tinged with his blood. Nor was he satisfied with these acts of mortification timorous and illiberal solicitude still haunting him, he aimed at something extraordinary, at some new and singular act of piety, to display his zeal, and to merit the favour of heaven. The act he fixed on, was as wild as any that superstition ever suggested to a distempered brain it was to celebrate his own obsequies. He ordered his tomb to be erected in the chapel of the monastery: his domestics marched there in funeral procession, holding black tapers: he followed in his shroud : he was laid in his coffin with much solemnity: the service of the dead was chanted; and he himself joined in the prayers offered up for his requiem, mingling his tears with those of his attendants. The ceremony closed with sprinkling holy water upon the coffin; and the assistants retiring, the doors of the chapel were shut. Then Charles rose out of the coffin, and stole privately to his apartment.

The history of ancient sacrifices is not so accurate, as in every instance to ascertain upon what principle they were founded, whether upon fear, upon gratitude for favours received, or to solicit future favour. Human sacrifices undoubtedly belong to the present head: for being calculated to deprecate the wrath of a malevolent deity, they Y



could have no other motive but fear; and indeed they are a most direful effect of that passion *. It is needless to lose time in mentioning instances, which are well knowu to those who are acquainted with ancient history. A number of them are collected in Historical Law-tracts and to these I take the liberty of adding, that the Cimbrians, the Germans, the Gauls, particularly the Druids, practised human sacrifices; for which we have the authority of Julius Cæsar, Strabo, and other authors. A people on the bank of the Misissippi, named Tensas, worship the sun; and, like the Natches their neighbours, have a temple for that luminary, with a sacred fire in it, continually burning. The temple having been set on fire by thunder, was all in flames when some French travellers saw them throw children into the fire, one after another, to appease the incensed deity. The Prophet Micah ‡, in a passage partly quoted above, inveighs bitterly against such sacrifices: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and "bow myself before the high God; shall I come "before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of "a year old? will the Lord be pleased with "thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of "" rivers


* The Abbé de Boissy derives human sacrifices from the history of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son Isaac, which, says he, was imitated by others. A man who is so unlucky at guessing had better be silent.

+ Tract 1:

Chap, vi.

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"rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my "transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin "of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O mán, "what is good: and what doth the Lord require "of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to "walk humbly with thy God!”

The ancient Persians acknowledged Oromazes and Arimanes as their great deities, authors of good and ill to men. But I find not that Arimanes, the evil principle, was ever an object of any religious worship. The Gaures, who profess the ancient religion of Persia, address no worship but to one God, all-good and all-powerful.

Next, of worshipping the Deity in the character of a mercenary being. Under that head come sacrifices and oblations, whether prompted by gratitude for favours received, or by self-interest to procure future favours which, for the reason mentioned, I shall not attempt to distinguish. As the deities of early times were thought to resemble men, it was a natural endeavour in men to conciliate their favour by such offerings as were the most relished by themselves. It is probable, that the first sacrifices of that kind, were of sweetsmelling herbs, which in the fire emitted a flavour that might reach the nostrils of a deity, even at a distance. The burning incense to their gods, was practised in Mexico and Peru; and at present is practised in the peninsula of Corea. An opportunity so favourable for making religious zeal a Y 2 fund


fund of riches to the priesthood, is seldom neglected. There was no difficulty to persuade ignorant people, that the gods could eat as well as smell what was offered to a deity for food, being carried into the temple, was understood to be devoured by him.

With respect to the Jewish sacrifices of burntofferings, meat-offerings, sin-offerings, peace-offerings, heave-offerings, and wave-offerings, these were appointed by God himself, in order to keep that stiff-necked people in daily remembrance of their dependance on him, and to preserve them if possible from idolatry. But that untractable race did not adhere to the purity of the institution : they insensibly degenerated into the notion that their God was a mercenary being; and in that character only, was the worship of sacrifices performed to him. The offerings mentioned were liberally bestowed on him, not singly as a token of their dependance, but chiefly in order to avert his wrath, or to gain his favour *.

The religious notions of the Greeks were equally impure they could not think of any means


There is no mention in ancient authors of fish being offered to the gods in sacrifice. The reason I take to be, that the most savoury food of man was reckoned the most agreeable to their gods; that savages never thought of fish till land-animals became scarce; and that the matter as well as form of sacrifices were established in practice, long before men had recourse to fish for food.

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