Page images

affords me the opportunity of directing the reader's attention to the judicious and satisfactory refutation, which it has lately received, in a prize essay, in one of the Sister Universities. See Mr. Pearson's Critical Essay on the ixth Book of the Divine Legation, p. 25—34. The reasons that induced Warburton to adopt so heterodox a position, are assigned by himself in one of his private letters to his friend Dr. Hurd, and are to the full as insufficient as the position is untenable. These, together with the alarm given to Dr. Hurd by the new doctrine taken up by his friend, will be found noticed in the Letters from a late Eminent Prelate, p. 421-423.

[blocks in formation]

PAGE 8. (C) If we look to the practices of the Heathen world, we shall find the result of the reasoning, which is advanced in the page referred to, confirmed from experience by abundant proof. We shall find that almost the entire of the religion of the Pagan nations, consisted in rites of deprecation. Fear of the Divine displeasure, seems to have been the leading feature, in their religious impressions ; and in the diversity, the costliness, and the cruelty of their sacrifices, they sought to appease Gods, to whose wrath they felt themselves exposed, from a consciousness of sin, unrelieved by any information as to the means of escaping its effects. So strikingly predominant was this feature of terror in the gentile superstitions, that we find it expressly laid down by the father of Grecian bistory, το Θειον σαν φθονερον τε και ταραχώδες (Herod. Lib. 1. cap. 32): and Porphyry directly asserts, “ that there was wanting some universal method of delivering men's souls, which no sect of philosophy had ever yet found out.” (August. de civit. Dei. Lib. X. cap. 32.)—that is, that something besides their own repentance, was wanting to appease the anger of their Gods.

The universal prevalence of HUMAN SACRIFICES, throughout the Gentile world, is a decisive proof of the light, in which the human mind, unaided by revelation, is disposed to view the divinity; and clearly evinces, how little likelihood there is in the supposition, that unassisted reason could discover the sufficiency of repentance, to regain the favour of an offended God. Of this savage custom, Mr. De Paauw (Rech. Phil. sur les Americ. v. 1. p. 211) asserts, that there is no nation mentioned in history, whom we cannot reproach with having, more than once, made the blood of its citizens, stream forth, in holy and piòus ceremonies, to appease the divinity when he appeared angry, or to move him when he appeared indolent.”



Of this position, both antient and modern historians, supply the fullest confirmation. Heliodorus (Æthiopic. lib. 10, p. 465-ed. 1630) informs us, that the Ethiopians were required by their laws to sacrifice boys to the Sun, and girls to the Moon. Sanchoniathon, as quoted by Philo, (Euseb. Præp. Evang. lib i. c. 10.) asserts, that among the Phænicians, “ it was customary in great and public calamities, for princes and magistrates to offer up in sacrifice to the avenging demons, the dearest of their offspring,” Eus AUTPOY TOIS TIPewpois dapport. This practice is also attributed to them by Porphyry. (Euseb. P. Ev. lib. iv.) Herodotus (lib. 4. cap. 62) describes it as a custom with the Scythians, to sacrifice every hundredth man of their prisoners to their God Mars. And Keysler, who has carefully investigated the antiquities of that race, represents the spreading oaks, under which they were used to perform their sanguinary rites, as being always profusely sprinkled with the blood of the expiring victims. (Antiq. Septentr. Dissert. iii.) Of the Egyptians, Diodorus relates it (lib. i. p. 99. ed. Wessel.) to have been an established practice, to sacrifice red haired men at the tomb of Osiris; from which, he says, misunderstood by the Greeks, arose the fable of the bloody rites of Busiris. This charge brought by Diodorus against the Egyptians, is supported by Plutarch, on the authority of Manetho. (Isid.

[ocr errors]

et Osir. p. 380.) At Heliopolis also, three men were daily offered up to Lucina, which practice Porphyry informs us, was put a stop to by Amasis (see Wessel. Diod. p. 99. n. 86.) And we are told by an Arabian writer, Murtadi, that it had been customary with the Egyptians, to sacrifice to the river Nile, a young and beautiful virgin, by flinging her, decked in the richest attire, into tlie stream: and, as Mr. Maurice remarks, a vestige of this barbarous custom remains to this day; for we learn from Mr. Savary's Letters on Egypt, (v. 1. p. 118) that the Egyptians anpually make a clay statue in the form of a woman, and throw it into the river, previous to the opening of the dam-see Maurice's Indian Antiquities, p. 433.

That this cruel practice existed also among the Chinese, appears from their histories, which record the oblation of their monarch Chingtang, in pacification of their offended Deity, and to avert from the nation the dreadful calamities, with which it was at that time visited. This sacrifice, it is added, was pronounced by the Priests to be demanded by the will of Heaven: and the aged monarch is represented as supplicating at the altar, that his life may be accepted, as an atonement for the sins of the people. (Martin. Hist. Sin. lib. 3. p. 75. ed. 1659.) Even the Persians, whose mild and beneficent religion appears at this day so repugnant to this

[ocr errors]

horrid usage, were not exempt from its contagion. Not only were their sacred rites, like those of other nations, stained with the blood of immolated victims, as may be seen in Herodotus, (lib. 1. cap. 132. and lib. 7. cap. 113.) Xenophon, (Cyrop. lib. 8.) Arrian, (De Exped. Alex. lib. 6. ad finem.) Ovid, (Fast. lib. 1.) Strabo, (lib. 15. p. 1065. ed. 1707.) Suidas, (in Medpa); and as is fully proved by Brissonius, (De Reg. Pers. Princ. lib. 2. a cap. 5. ad. cap. 43.): but Herodotus (lib. 7. cap. 114.) ex-. pressly pronounces it to have been the Persian custom, to offer human victims by inhumation; Περσικον δε τας ζωοντας κατορυσσειν : and in support of his position adduces two striking instances. of the fact; in one of which, his testimony is. corroborated by that of Plutarch. teries also of the Persian God Mithra, and the discovery of the Mithriac sepulchral cavern, as described by Mr. Maurice, have led that writer, in the most decisive manner to affix to the Persian votary, the charge of human sacrifice. (Indian Antiquities, pp. 965, 984, &c.)— -The ancient Indians likewise, however their descendants at this day may be described by Mr.. Orme, (Hist. of Indost, v. 1. p. 5.) as of a nature utterly repugnant to this sanguinary rite, are represented both by Sir W. Jones, (Asiat. Res. v. 1. p. 265.) and Mr. Wilkins, (in his explanatory, notes on the Heetopades, note 292)

The mys

« PreviousContinue »