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for conciliating the favour of their gods more efficacious than gifts. Homer paints his gods as excessively mercenary. In the fourth book of the Iliad, Jupiter says, "Of these cities honoured the "most by the soul of Jove, is sacred Troy. Never stands the altar empty before me, oblations poured forth in my presence, savour that as"cends the skies." Speaking in the fifth book of a warrior, known afterwards to be Diomedes : "Some god he is, some power against the Trojans enraged for vows unpaid: destructive is "the wrath of the gods." Diomedes prays to Minerva, "With thine arm ward from me the "foe: a year-old hiefer, O Queen, shall be thine, "broad fronted, unbroken, and wild: her to thee "I will offer with prayer, gilding with gold her "horns." Precisely of the same kind are the offerings made by superstitious Roman Catholics to the Virgin Mary, and to saints. Electra in the tragedy of that name, supplicates Apollo in the following terms:
O! hear Electra too,
Who, with unsparing hand, her choicest gifts
The people of Hindostan, as mentioned above, atone for their sins by austere penances; but they Y 3
have no notion of presenting gifts to the Deity, nor of deprecating his wrath by the flesh of animals. On the contrary, they reckon it a sin to slay any living creature; which reduces them to vegetable food. This is going too far; for the Deity could never mean to prohibit animal food, when originally man's chief dependance was upon it. The abstaining however from animal food, shows greater humanity in the religion of Hindostan, than of any other known country, The inhabitants of Madagascar are in a stage of religion, common among many nations, which is, the acknowledging one supreme benevolent deity, and many malevolent inferior deities. Most of their worship is indeed addressed to the latter; but they have so far advanced before several other nations, as to offer sacrifices to the supreme Being, without employing either idols or temples.
Philosophy and sound sense in polished nations, have purified religious worship, by banishing the profession, at least, of oblations and sacrifices. The Being that made the world, governs it by laws that are inflexible, because they are the best; and to imagine that he can be moved by prayers, oblations, or sacrifices, to vary his plan of government, is an impious thought, degrading the Deity to a level with ourselves: "Hear O my people, " and I will testify against thee: I am God, even
thy God. I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he-goat out of thy fold: for every
"beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon "a thousand hills. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God "thanksgiving, and pay thy vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble: I "will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me *." "Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it; "thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sa"crifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken "and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not de
spiset." "For I desired mercy, and not sacri"fice; and the knowledge of God more than "burnt-offerings ‡." In dark ages, there is a great shew of religion, with little heart-worship: in ages of philosophy, warm heart-worship, with little shew S.
+ Psalm li.
+ Hosea vi. 6.
§ Agathias urges a different reason against sacrifices."Ego nullam naturam esse existimo, cui voluptati sint fœda"ta, sanguine altaria, et animantium laniena. Quod si qua " tamen est cui ista sint cordi, non ea mitis et benigna est ali
qua, sed fera ac rabida, qualem pavoreni poëtæ fingunt, et "Metum, et Bellonum, et Malam Fortunam, et Discordiam,
quam indometam appellant."-In English thus: "I cannot "conceive, that there should exist a superior being, who takes delight in the sacrifice of animals, or in altars stained with blood. If such there be, his nature is not benevolent, but "barbarous and cruel. Such indeed were the gods whom "the poets have created: such were Fear and Terror, the
This is a proper place for the history of idolatry; which, as will anon appear, sprung from religious worship corrupted by men of shallow understanding and gross conceptions, upon whom things invisible make little impression.
Savages, even of the lowest class, have an impression of invisible powers, though they cannot form any distinct notion of them. But such impression is too faint for the exercise of devotion. Whether inspired
goddess of War, of Evil Fortune, and of Discord."Arnobius batters down bloody sacrifices with a very curious argument. "Ecce si bos aliquis, aut quodlibet ex his ani"mal, quod ad placandas cæditur mitigandasque numinum "fur as vocem hominis sumat, eloquaturque his verbis; Ergene O Jupiter, aut quis alius deus es, humanum est istud "et rectum, aut æquitatis alicujus in æstimatione, ponendum, 66 ut cum alius peccaverit, ego occidar, et de meo sanguine "fieri tibi patiaris satis, qui nunquam te læsirim, nunquam "sciens aut nesciens, tuum numen majestatemque violarim, "animal, ut scis, mutum, naturæ meæ simplicitatem sequens,
nec multiformium morum varietatibus lubricum ?"-[In English thus: "What if the ox, while he is led out to slaugh"ter to appease the fancied wrath of an offended deity, should 66 assume the human voice, and in these words astonish-his con"ductors: Are these, ✪ merciful God, are these the dictates of "humanity, or of justice, that for the crime of another I should "forfeit my life. I have never by my will offended thee, and "dumb as I am, and uninformed by reason, my actions, accord
ing to the simplicity of my nature, cannot have given thee "displeasure, who hast made me as I am."If this argument were solid, it would be equally conclusive against animal food.
inspired with love to a good being, or impressed with fear of an ill being, savages are not at case without some sort of visible object to fix their attention. A great stone served that purpose originally; a very low instrument indeed of religious worship; but not altogether whimsical, if it was introduced, which is highly probable, in the following manner. It was an early and a natural custom among savages, to mark with a great stone, the place where their worthies were interred; of which we have hints every where in ancient history, particularly in the poems of Ossian. "Place "me," says Calmar mortally wounded, "at the "side of a stone of remembrance, that future times
may hear my fame, and the mother of Calmar "rejoice over the stone of my renown." Superstition in later times having deified these worthics, their votaries, rejoicing as formerly over the stones dedicated to them, held these stones to be essential in every act of religious worship performed to their new deities*. Tradition points out many stones in
*Frequent mention is made of such stones in the poems of Ossian. "But remember, my son, to place' this sword, this "bow, and this horn, within that dark and narrow house mark"ed with one gray stone;" p. 55.-" Whose fame is in that "dark-green tomb? Four stones with their heads of moss "stand there, and mark the narrow house of death;" p. 67.— "Let thy bards mourn those who fell. Let Erin give the sons ❝ of Lochlin to earth, and raise the mossy stones of their fame;