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to the multitude, whose gross conceptions they thought might be amused by a variety of fabulous tales, and whose hopes and fears would be more excited by a plurality of deities than by the unity of an over-ruling power.

The divinities first introduced in consequence of this opinion, were the sun, and the principal planets, to which were soon added the elements of fire, air, earth, and water. These fictitious deities were invested with the human form, and all the passions incident to human nature were attributed to them. The fabricated tales of their adventures, comprehended an indulgence of the most vicious propensities and the perpetration of enormous crimes. The Greeks adored Jupiter as at the head of the celestial association, the protector of mankind, and governor of the universe; while their philosophers, who appear in general to have been Atheists, by this personage typified the higher region of the air; and by his wife (Juno) the lower atmosphere diffused between the heavens and the sea. And whilst the common people paid homage to Cybele, as the mother of the gods, the more refined part of the nation intended nothing more than the earth by that object of worship. Fire was deified, and the great body of water had also its divine representative. Apollo was the sun, and the

, moon was his sister, Artemis, or Diana. Thus by the fertile imagination of the Greeks, their deities were gradually multiplied to a remarkable excess; indeed the poet, Hesiod, swells the amount to THIRTY THOUSAND! According to their mythology, all parts of nature teemed with divine agents, and a system which it must be owned was in some respects elegantly fanciful, was characterised, under other views, by features of the grossest absurdity.

Worship was originally offered to their deities in the open air, in groves, or upon eminences; but the Greeks, in the progress of their superstition, were led to believe that their deities would be better pleased with the erection of buildings peculiarly devoted to their service; and temples, at first simple and unadorned, afterwards magnificent and sumptuous, were the fruits of this opinion. Of the extent to which this point was ultimately carried, we have indeed a striking instance in the case of the temple of Diana, at Ephesus, the length of which, Pliny tells us, was 425 feet, and in breadth 220. It was supported by 107 pillars, each of them CO feet high. This magnificent structure was erected at the expence of all Asia, and 250 years were spent in finishing it. At first these temples were without images; but in process of time wooden figures of their gods were exhibited for public reverence. Stone or marble was soon deemed preferable for this use; metals of various kinds were also adopted; and the rudeness of early fabrication was succeeded by elegant workmanship.

Sacrifices formed an essential part of the superstitious worship of the Greeks, as well as of the Romans. Grateful respect for the favours conferred on them by their imaginary deities,--the desire of averting their anger after the commission of any offence,--and an eagemess to secure their blessing on a projected enterprise, were the inducements to these oblations. Herbs were the earliest offerings, and it was usual to burn them that the smoke might ascend towards heaven. Barley, and cakes made of that grain, were afterwards substituted for ordinary herbs; and ultimately some of the most useful animals were immolated at their altars,* upon which also milk, oil, and wine were poured. Those who served at the altar were required to prepare themselves, by abstaining even from lawful pleasures for one or more preceding days; and all who entered the temples, on these occasions, dipped their hands in consecrated water. When the people were assembled about the altar, the priest sprinkled them with holy water, and

See Acts xiv. 11-13.

offered up a short prayer for them: he next examined the victim, to ascertain its freedom from defects or blemishes; prayer was then resumed; frankincense was strewed upon the altar; hymns were sung; the animal was killed with ceremonious precision; pieces of its flesh were offered and burnt as first-fruits, and the principal devotees carried off the rest.

The religious system which Romulus planted on the banks of the Tiber, corresponded pretty much with that of Greece as above described. A multiplicity of divine beings, graciously superintending human affairs, formed the prevailing creed. All the deities had priests and ministers, sacrifices and oblations, The augurs, or soothsayers, in whose art or imposture the founder of Rome excelled, were considered as an important and necessary part of the establishment. Each tribe had one of these pretended prophets, who announced the will of the gods with regard to any future enterprise, from an observance of the flight or the noise of birds, from the feeding of poultry, the movement of beasts, and other appearances, The high priest and his associates not only regulated the public worship, but acted as judges in all cases which had any reference to religion, and exercised a censorial and authoritative jurisdiction over inferior ministers.

The sacrifices in which the different priests officiated did not agree in every particular; but the following usages and ceremonies were the most prevalent. When a sacrifice was intended, a solemn procession was made to the temple of some deity. In the first place a preco, or public cryer, called the attention of the people to the pious work: then appeared the flute-players and harpers, performing in their best manner. The victims followed, wearing white fillets, with their horns gilt. As soon as the priest reached the altar, he prayed to the gods, imploring pardon for his sins, and a blessing upon his country. Having commanded all impuro VOL. I.

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vicious persons to withdraw, he threw grain, meal, and frankincense upon the heads of the animals, and poured wine between the horns of each; and, having first scored them on the back, he gave orders to his attendants to slay them. The entrails were closely inspected, and from their particular appearance, omens were deduced, or inferred, supposing the gods to intimate their will by such minutiæ to sagacious and devout observers. Some portions of the flesh were then placed upon the altar, for the gratification of that deity to whose honour the temple had been reared the remainder was divided among the attendant votaries.

What has been now said of the superstition of the ancient Romans, refers particularly to the manner of conducting their worship in the city of Rome, but similar arrangements prevailed in the provinces: and in our own country there were twenty eight flamins, or pagan priests, according to the number of the cities, and three arch-flamins ; namely one at London, a second at York, and a third at Caerleon. But to enter into a more particular detail of these things would carry me beyond the limits of this prefatory discourse; suffice it therefore to say, that the whole originated in the vulgar superstitions of the most remote ages of Paganism, and it would be difficult to say, which part was Trojan, which Egyptian, or which Chaldean. The Romans in general knew the whole to be an imposition, and many of them ridiculed the pretence that the institution was divine; and perhaps the subject cannot be more fitly and aptly expressed than it has been by Mr. Gibbon, in the following words. “ The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false ; and by the magistrate as equally useful. And thus toleration produced not only mutual indulgence, but eyen religious concord.” *

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* Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. I. ch. ii.

The Religions of the Indians, Egyptians, Persians,

and Cells.

IN reviewing the various systems of Polytheism which prevailed at that time, those which were cultivated by the Indians, the Persians, the Egyptians, and the Celts, are entitled to distinguished notice. Of these the Indians and Celts are chiefly remarkable for having selected for the object of their adoration a set of ancient heroes and leaders, whose memory, so far from being rendered illustrious by their virtues, had descended to posterity disgraced and loaded with vice and infamy. Both these classes of men believed that the souls of men survived the dissolution of their bodies: the former conceiving that all of them, without distinction, entered at death into other bodies on this earth; while the latter, on the contrary, considering immortality to be the reward which heaven bestows on valour alone, supposed that the bodies of the brave, after being purified by fire, again became the receptacles of their souls, and that the heroes thus renewed were received into the council and society of the gods. Authority of the most despotic kind was committed to their priests by the people of either country. Their official duties were not restricted to the administration of the concerns of religion, but extended to the enacting of laws, and the various other departments of civil government.

In describing the religion of the Egyptians, we must distinguish between the general religion of the country, and the practice of particular provinces or districts. The liberty which every city and province enjoyed of adopting what deities it preferred, and of worshipping them under any forms which the inbabitants might think proper to institute, necessarily gave rise to a great variety of private systems. In the choice of their public

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