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truth to tell, they seldom fail to bolster it up with some appended falsehoods. (8)

Nor can the force of the argument in favour of the necessity of a direct revelation of the will of God, by these facts be weakened by alleging, what is unhappily too true, that where the Christian revelation has been known, great violations of all these rules have been commonly observed; for, not to urge the moral superiority of the worst of Christian States, in all of them the authority and sanction of religion is directed against vice; whilst among heathens their religion itself, having been corrupted by the wickedness of man, has become the great instrument of encouraging every species of wickedness. This circumstance so fully demonstrates the necessity of an interposition on the part of God to restore truth to the world, that it deserves a particular consideration.

(8) It is the business of all," says Sir John Shore, "from the Ryot to the Dewan, to conceal and deceive. The simplest matters of fact are designedly covered with a veil, which no human understanding can penetrate." The prevalence of perjury is so universal, as to involve the judges in extreme perplexity. "The honest men," says Mr. Strachey, as well as the rogues, are perjured. Even where the real facts are sufficient to convict the offender, the witnesses against him must add others, often notoriously false, or utterly incredible, such as in Europe would wholly invalidate their testimony."

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CHAPTER VIII.

The Necessity of Revelation:-Religions of the Heathen.

THAT the religions which have prevailed among pagan nations have been destructive of morality, cannot be denied.

How far the speculative principles which they embodied had this effect, has already been shewn; we proceed to their more direct influence.

The gloomy superstition which pervaded most of them, fostered ferocious and cruel dispositions.

The horrible practice of offering human sacrifices prevailed throughout every region of the heathen world, to a degree which is almost incredible; and it still prevails in many populous countries, where Christianity has not yet been made known. There are incontestible proofs of its having subsisted among the Egyptians, the Syrians, the Persians, the Phenicians, and all the various nations of the East. It was one of the crying sins of the Canaanites. The contagion spread over every part of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The Greeks and Romans, though less involved in this guilt than many other nations, were not altogether untainted with it. On great and extraordinary occasions, they had recourse to what was esteemed the most efficacious and most meritorious sacrifice that could be offered to the Gods, the effusion of human blood. (9) But among more barbarous nations, this practice took a firmer root. The Scythians and Thracians, the Gauls and the Germans, were strongly addicted to it; and our own island, under the gloomy and ferocious despotism of the Druids, was polluted with the religious murder of its inhabitants. In the semi-civilized kingdoms on the Western side of Africa, as Dahomy, Ashantee, and others, many thousands fall every year victims to superstition. In America, Montezuma offered 20,000 victims yearly to the Sun; and modern navigators have found the practice throughout the whole extent of the vast Pacific Ocean. As for India, the cries of its abominable and cruel superstitions have been sounded

(9) Plutarch in the Lives of Themistocles, Marcellus, and Aristides.-Livy 1, 22, c. 57.-Florus 1. 1, c. 13.—Virg. Æn. x, 518, xi, 31.

repeatedly in the ears of the British public and its Legislature; and, including infants and widows, not fewer than 10,000 lives fall a sacrifice to idolatry in our own Eastern dominions yearly! (1)

The influence of these practices in obdurating the heart, and disposing it to habitual cruelty, need not be pointed out; but the religions of paganism have been as productive of impurity as of blood.

The Floralia among the Romans were celebrated for four days together by the most shameless actions; and their Mysteries in every country, whatever might be their original intent, became horribly corrupt. It was in the temples of many of their deities, and on their religious festivals, that every kind of impurity was most practised; and this continues to the present day throughout all the regions of modern paganism. (2)

This immoral tendency of their religion was confirmed and perfected by the very character and actions of their Gods, whose names were perpetually in their mouths; and whose murderous or obscene exploits, whose villanies and chicaneries, whose hatreds and strifes, were the subject of their popular legends; which made up in fact the only theology, if so it may be called, of the body of the people. That they should be better than their Gods, was not to be expected, and worse they could not be. Deities with such attributes could not but corrupt, and be appealed to, not merely to excuse, but to sanctify the worst practices. (3)

Let this argument then be summed up.

All the leading doctrines on which religion rests, had either been corrupted by a grovelling and immoral superstition, among heathen nations; or the philosophic speculations of their wisest men had introduced principles destructive of man's accountability and present and future hope. On morals themselves, the original rules were generally perverted, limited, or rejected;

(1) See Maurice's Indian Antiquities; the Writings of Dr. Claudius Buchanan; Ward on the Hindoos; Dubois on Hindoo Manners, &c.; Robertson's History of America; Bowditch's Account of Ashantee; Moore's Hindoo Pantheon; and Porteus and Ryan on the effects of Christianity.

(2) See Leland, and Whitby, on the Necessity of a Revelation; and the writers on the customs of India,-Ward, Dubois, Buchanan, and Moore, before referred to.

(3) Hence Chærea, in Terence, pertinently enough asks, Quod fecit is qui templa cœli summa sonitu concutit, ego homuncio non facerem ? Euuuch. Act. 3, sc. 5. -He only imitated Jupiter. And says Sextus Empyricus, "That cannot be unjust, which is done by the God Mercury, the Prince of theives; for how can a God be wicked?" Apud Euseb. Præp. lib. 6, cap. 10.

whilst the religious rites, and the legendary character of the deities worshipped, to the exclusion of the true God, gave direct incitement and encouragement to vice. Thus the grossest ignorance on divine subjects universally prevailed; the learned were involved in inextricable perplexities; and the unlearned received as truth the most absurd and monstrous fables, all of them however favourable to vicious indulgence. The actual state of morals also accorded with the corrupt religious systems and the lax moral principles which they adopted; so that in every heathen state of ancient times, the description of the Apostle Paul in the first chapter of Romans is supported by the evidence of their own historians and poets. The same may also be affirmed of modern pagan countries, whose moral condition may explain more fully, as they are now so well known through our intercourse with them, the genius and moral tendency of the ancient idolatries, with which those of India, and other parts of the East especially, so exactly agree.

These are the facts. They affect not a small portion of mankind, but all who have not had the benefits of the doctrines and morals of the Holy Scriptures: There are no exceptions from this of any consequence to the argument, though some difference in the morals of heathen states may be allowed. Where the Scriptures are unknown, there is not, nor ever has been since the corruption of the primitive religion, a religious system which has contained just views of God and religious truth, the Theists of the present day being judges ;-none which has enjoined a correct morality, or even opposed any effectual barrier against the deterioration of public manners. These facts cannot be denied: for the allegations formerly made of the morality of modern pagan nations, have been sufficiently refuted by a better acquaintance with them; and the conclusion is irresistible-that an express Revelation of the will of God, accompanied with efficient corrective Institutions, was become necessary, and is still demanded by the ignorance and vices, the miseries and disorders of every part of the earth into which Christianity has not been introduced.

But we may go another step. This exhibition of the moral condition of those nations who have not had the benefit of the renewal and republication of the truths of the patriarchal religion, not only supports the conclusion that new and direct revelations from God were necessary; but the wants, which that condition so obviously created, will support other presumptions as to the nature and mode of that revelation, in the case of

such a gift being bestowed in the exercise of the Divine Mercy. For if there is ground to presume, that Almighty God, in his compassion for his creatures, would not leave them to the unchecked influence of error and vice; nor, upon the corruption of that simple but comprehensive doctrine, worship, and morals communicated to the progenitors of all those great branches of the family of man which have been spread over the earth, refuse to interpose to renew and to perfect that religious system which existed in an elementary form in the earliest ages, and give to it a form less liable to alteration and decay than when left to be transmitted by tradition alone; there is equal ground to presume, that the revelation, whenever vouchsafed, should be of that nature, and accompanied by such circumstances, as would most effectually accomplish this benevolent purpose.

Presumptions as to the manner in which such a revelation would be made most effectually to accomplish its ends, are indeed to be guarded, lest we should set up ourselves as adequate judges in a case which involves large views and extensive bearings of the Divine Government. But without violating this rule, it may, from the obviousness of the case, be presumed, that such a supernatural manifestation of truth should 1., contain explicit information on those important subjects on which mankind had most greatly and most fatally erred. 2. That it should accord with the principles of former revelations, given to men in the same state of guilt and moral incapacity as we find them in the present day. 3. That it should have a satisfactory external authentication. 4. That it should contain provisions for its effectual promulgation among all classes of men.-All this, allowing the necessity and the probability of a supernatural communication of the will of God, must certainly be expected, and if the Christian revelation bears this character, it has certainly the presumptive proof in its favour, not only of meeting an obvious case of necessity, but of conformity to all these particulars :

1. It gives information on those subjects which are most important to man, and which the world had darkened with the greatest errors-the nature and perfections, claims and relations of GODhis WILL (4) as the RULE of moral good and evil—the means of obtaining PARDON and of conquering vice-the true MEDIATOR between God and man- -Divine PROVIDENCE-the CHIEF GOOD of man, respecting which alone more than three hundred different opinions among the ancient sages have been reckoned upman's IMMORTALITY and accountability, and a FUTURE STATE.

(4) See Note A at the end of the Chapter.

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