« AnteriorContinuar »
with whom he spent his time in chanting hymns. As an expiation for his fins, he in private disciplined himself with such severity, that his whip, found after his death, was tinged with his blood. Nor was he fatisfied with these acts of mortification : timorous and illiberal folicitude still haunting him, he aimed at something extraordinary, at some new and fingular 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 fuperftition 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 folemnity: the service of the dead was chanted; and he himself joined in
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 fa
Human facrifices undoubtedly belong to the present head: for being calculated to deprecate the wrath of a malevolent deity, they 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 known to those who are acquainted with ancient history. A number of them are collected in Historical Law-tracts (a): and to these I take the liberty of adding, that the Cimbrians, the Germans, the Gauls, particularly the Druids, practised human facrifices; for which we have the authority of Julius Cæ
* The Abbè de Boissy derives human facrifices from the history of Abraham preparing to sacrifice his fon Ifaac, which, says he, was imitated by others. A man who is so unlucky at guesling had better be silent.
(a) Tract 1,
far, Strabo, and other authors. , A people on the bank of the Missisippi, named Tensas, worship the fun; and, like the Natches their neighbours, have a temple for that luminary, with a facred fire in it, continually burning. The temple having been set on fire by thunder, was all in flames when some French travellers faw them throw children into the fire, one after another, to appease the incensed deity. The Prophet Micah (a), in a passage partly quoted above, inveighs bitterly against such sacrifices : “ Wherewith shall I come
before the Lord, and bow myself be"fore 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 of oil ? shall I give my
first-born for my transgression, the “ fruit of my body for the fin of my
soul? " He hath shewed thee, Oman, what is
good : and what doth the Lord require “ of thee, but to do juftly, to love mer
cy, and to walk humbly with thy
The ancient Persians acknowledged O
(a) Chap. 6.
romazes and Arimanes as their
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 allpowerful.
Next, of worshipping the Deity in the character of a mercenary being. Under that head come facrifices and oblations, whether prompted by gratitude for favours received, or by self-interest to procure future favours; which, for the reafon mentioned, I shall not attempt to diftinguish. 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 facrifices of that kind, were of sweet-smelling 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 peninfula of Corea. An opportunity fo favour
able for making religious zeal a 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
With respect to the Jewish sacrifices of burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, fin-offerings, peace-offerings, heave-offerings, and wave-offerings, these were appointed by God himself, in order to keep that stiffnecked people in daily remembrance of their dependence on him, and to preserve them if possible from idolatry. But that untractable race did not adhere to the
purity of the institution ; they infenfibly 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 dependence, but chiefly in order to avert his wrath, or to gain his favour *
* There is no mention in ancient authors of fish