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not been wanting Brahmins wlio spurned at the interested practices of their brethren, and who opposed, as far as they dared, the prevailing torrent of idolatry that so widely overspread the land. Among these, the great VYASA, the Plato of India, holds the most distinguished rank; for, his design in writing the Geeta, as Mr Wilkins has told us in his judicious preface, seems to have been 5 to undermine 'certain tenets inculcated in the Vedas, by setting up the doctrine of the Unity of the Godhead in opposition to idolatrous sacrifices and the worship of images; for, although the author dared not make a direct attack, either upon the prevailing prejudices of the people or the divine authority of those antient scriptures, yet, by offering eternal happiness to such as worship BRAHME, the Almighty, while he declares the reward of such as follow other gods should be but a temporary reward in an inferior heaven, for a period measured by the extent of their virtues, his intention, doubtless, was to bring about the downfal of polytheism.*
Similar to this conduct was that of the hierophant in the mystic cells of Egypt. The
* Preface to the Geeta, p. 24.
immortal Cudworth * has indeed ably vindicated the Egyptian priests from the charge of atheism; but still the people were kept in profound ignorance of that great truth, the UNITY OF GOD, which was thought dangerous to reveal, lest a contempt of the established system and the downfal of the popular superstition should be the fatal consequence. They permitted, therefore, the multitude to remain plunged as they were in the depth of a gross and complicated idolatry ; but, for those philosophic few who could bear the light of truth without being confounded by the biaze, they removed the mysterious veil, and displayed to them the Deity in the radiant glory of his UNITY.
From the vulgar eye,, however, these doctrines were kept inviolably sacred, and wrapt in the veil of impenetrable mystery. They were denominated MYSTERIES, as well because the initiated were enjoined to keep the doctrines inculcated and the rites practised in the secret cell sacred from the profane as because the former were constantly taught and the latter celebrated ev OKOTW xa VUXTi, in the bosom of darkness and in the dead silence of the night. This profound darkness, this midnight silence, they imagined,
• See Cudworth's Intellectual System, chap. iv. p. 4, sect. 18.
threw a kind of sacred horror over their rites, and the priests, both of Egypt and Athens, thought these a securer defence against intrusion than either the secret depths of those subterraneous caverns, in which they were originally celebrated, or the lofty walls, that, in succeeding ages, encircled the superb temple of Ceres at Eleusis. In the extensive review which Warburton has taken of this subject, after mentioning the division of the Eleusinian mysteries into the GREATEŘ and the less, after stating that in the LESS was inculcated the general belief of a' Providence and of a future state, and that they were only preparatory to the GREATER, that celebrated investigator of those mysteries thus proceeds ; 66 But there was one insuperable obstacle in paganism to a life of purity and holiness, which was the vicious examples of their gods. Ego, homun- . cio, hoc non facerem? was the absolving formulary, whenever a man had determined to give a loose to his irregular appetites. There was a necessity therefore of remedying this evil, which could only be done by striking at the root of it; so that such of the initiated as were judged capable were made acquainted with the whole delusion. The mystagogue taught them, that Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the whole rabble of licentibus dei
ties, were indeed only DEAD MORTALS, subject in life to the same passions and vices with themselves : but, having been, in several instances, benefactors to mankind, grateful posterity had deified them, and, with their virtues, had indiscreetly canonized their vices. The fabulous gods being thus routed, the
CAUSE of all things, of course, took their place: him they were taught to consider as the Creator of the universe, who pervaded all things by his virtue, and governed all things by his providence. From this time, the inititiated had the title of 'ETATTIS, or, one that sees things as they are, without disguise, whereas before he was called Musas, which has a contrary signification, The reader will recollect, that there has been described, in the cavern of Elephanta, an interior recess, or sacellum, which, while the exterior temple was crowded with mythologic sculptures, possessed no ornament whatsoever, except one solitary but degrading emblem of the great Creator. However degrading the symbol, it was certainly intended to shadow out the ONE SUPREME DEITY and FATHER'OF
The exterior temple was, therefore, allotted for the performance of the blind and prostrate devotions of the multitude; and, at • Divine Legation, vol. i. p. 148.
) the same time, it must be owned, that many of the divinities, whose images are graven on those walls, were as remarkable for licentiousness, in the mythologic histories of the Hindoos, as ever were those of the Egyptians and Greeks in their fabulous annals. The external temple was also appropriated, like the body of the mystic temples of Egypt, to the initiation of the younger Brahmins into the lesser mysteries of the Hindoo religion and sciences, as well as to the celebration of the splendid rites of the former and the display of the wonderful arcana of the latter. The elder and more experienced votaries, the Indian Epoptai, were admitted into the internal sanctuary, and all the errors of vulgar polytheism, as in the greater mysteries of Egypt and Eleusis, were laid bare to their view. The Deity broke forth in all the majesty of UNITY upon them, and the rising Sun of TRUTH dissipated the clouds of deception and allegory.
However defective ayd inconclusive may be thought the arguments brought by Warburton in support of the general hypothesis, which he laboured to establish in the Divine Legation, and however particularly erroneous and fanciful may appear his strictures upon the sixth Æneid of Virgil, in elucidation of the Eleusinian mysteries, yet, it must be owned, T 4