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Expansion of the human mind; its saered records had preserved in its original of Juda simplicity the notion of the Divine Power; the pregnant definitions
of the one great self-existing Being, the magnificent poetical amplifications of his might and providence were of all ages : they were eternal poetry, because they were eternal truth. If the moral aspect of the Divine nature was more obscurely intimated, and, in This respect, had assumed the character of a local or national Deity, whose love was confined to the chosen people, and displayed itself chiefly in the beneficence of a temporal sovereign : yet nothing was needed but to give a higher and more extensive sense to those types and shadows of universal wisdom; and improvement which the tendency of the age manifestly required; and which the Jews themselves, especially the Alexandrian school, had already altempted, by allegorising the whole annals of their people, and extracting a profound moral meaning from all the circumstances of their extraordinary history (1).
But lhe progress of knowledge was fatal to the popular religion of know. of Greece and Rome. The awe-struck imagination of the older race, ledge up, which had listened with trembling belief to the wildest fables,
the on poly.
deep feeling of the sublime and the beautiful, which uniting with national pride, had assembled adoring multitudes before the Parthenon or the Jove of Phidias, now gave place to cold and sober reason. Poetry had been religion—religion was becoming mere poetry. Humanizing the Deity, and bringing it loo near the earth, naturally produced, in a less imaginative and more reflecting age, that familiarity which destroys respect. When man became more
acquainted with his own nature, the less was he salisfied with deities Beneficial, cast in his own mould. In some respects the advancement of ci
vilisation had no doubt softened and purified the old religions from their savage and licentious tendencies. Human sacrifices had ceased (2), or had retired to the remotest parts of Germany, or to the shores of the Baltic (3). Though some of the secret rites were
Effects of progress
(1) Philo wrote for the unbelievers among his of Philopæmen. Plut Vit. Philop. c. 21. Compare own people, and to conciliate the Greeks. (De Tschirner, Fall des Heidenthums, p. 34. Conf. Lingaar. vol. i. p. 405.) The same prin. Octavius is said (Suet. Vit. Octav.) to have saciple which among the heathens gave rise to the crificed 300 Perugian captives on an altar sacred system of Euhemerus, who resolved all mytho- to the deified Julius (Divo Julio). This may be logy into bistory, and that of the other philoso- considered the sanguinary spirit of the age of phers who attempted to reduce it to allegory, in- proscriptions taking for once a more solemn and duced Philo, and no doubt his predecessor Aris- religious form. As to the libation of the blood of tobulus, thus to endeavour to accommodate the the gladiators, (see Tertullian, Apolog. c. 9. Mosaic history to an incredulous age, and to Scorpiac. 7. Cyprian, De Spectaculis. Compare blend Judaism and Platonism into one harmo. Porphyr. de Abstin. Lactant. 1-21.) I should nious system.
agree with M. Constant in ascribing this cere(2) Humau sacrifices sometimes, but rarely, mony to the barbarity of the Roman amusements occur in the earlier periods of Grecian history. rather than to their religion. All public specAccording to Plutarch, Vit. Arist 9. and Vit. tacles were, perhaps, to a certain degree religious Themistoclis, three sons of Sandauke, sister of ceremonies; but the gladiators were the victims the king of Persia, were offered, in obedience to of the sanguinary pleasures of the Roman people, an oracle, to Bacchus Onestes. The bloodstained not slain in honour of their gods. Constant, iv. altar of Diana of Tanris was placed by the trage. 335. Tschirner, p. 45. dians in a barbarous region. Prisoners were so. (3) Tac. Ann. i. 61. Tac. Germ. 10. 40. Commetimes slain on the tombs of warriors in much
pare on the gradual abolition of human sacrifices, later times, as in the Homeric age, even on that Constant, iv. 330. The exception, whicla rests on P3:
said to be defiled with unspeakable pollutions (1), yet this, if true,
But with the tyranny, which could thus extort from reluc- Prejudi-
the authority of Pliny, xxviji 2., and Plutarch, fables licencieuses coinmence avec le mépris et le Vita Marii. in init. Quæst. Rom., appears to me
ridicule versé sur ces fables. Il en est de même very donhtful. The prohibitory law of Lentulus, des cérémonies. Des rites indécens peuvent être AU. DCLVII. and Livy's striking expression, pratiqués par un peuple religieux avec une more non Romano, concerning the sacrifice said grande pureté de cour. Mais quand l'incrédulité to be continued to a late period, as well as the atteint ces peuples, ces rites sont pour lui la cause cdict of Tiberius, promulgated in the remoter et le prétexte de la plus révoltante corruption." provinces, indicate the general sentiment of the Du Polyth. Rom. ii. 102. time. Non satis æstimari polest quantum Roma.' (2) Our generals began to wage civil wars nis debeatur, qui sustulere monstra in quibus against each other, as soon as they neglected the hominem occidere religiosissimnuin erat, mandi auspices. Cic. Nat. Deor. ii. 3. This is good vero saluberrimum. Plin. H. N. xxx. 1. Sce in evidence to the fact; the cause lay deeper. Ovid, Fasti, iii. 341. the reluctance of Numa to (3) This was the main argument of his great offer human sacrifice. Hadrian issued an edict work, de Civitate Dei. It is no where more prohibiting human sacrifices; this was directed, strongly expressed than in the oration of Symaccording in Creuzer, (Syınb. i. 363.), against the machus to Theodosius. Hic cultus in leges meas later Mithriac rites, which had reintroduced the orbem redegit; hæc sacra Annibalem a me horrible practice of consulting futurity in the nibus, a Capitolio Sennonas repulerunt. This entrails of hunan victims. The savage Coinmo- subject will frequently recur in the course of dus (Lainprid. in Comia.) offered a human victim our History. to Mithra. The East, if the accounts are to be cre. (4) The deification of Augustus found some opdited, continually reacted on the religion of ponents. Nihil Deorum honoribus relictum, cum Roine. Human sacrifices are said to have taken se templis et effigie numinum, per flamines et place under Aurelian (Aug. Hist. Vit. Aurel.), sacerdotes coli vellet. Tac. Ann. i. 10 The more and even under Maxentius.
sagacious Tiberius shrunk from such honours. (1) The dissolute rites against which the In one instance, he allowed himself to be joined Fathers inveigh were of foreign and Oriental in divine honours with his mother and the senate, origin—Isiac, Bacchanalian, Mithriac. Lobeck, i. but in general he refused them. Tac. Ann. iv, 15. 197. See Constant, vol. iv. c. 11. Compare the
37. v 2. The very curious satire of Seneca, the Confession of Hispala in Livy. I cannot refrain A Toxonúvtwois, though chiefly aimed at Claufrom transcribing an observation of M. Constant dius, throws ridicule on the whole ceremony. Au. on these rites, which strikes me as extremely gustus, in his speech to the gods, says, Denique profound and just : " La mauvaise influence des duin tales decs facitis, nemo vos deos esse credet,
living, or the apotheosis of the dead emperor, whom a few years
But Philosophy aspired in vain to fill that void in the human
The last hopes of the ancient religion lay in the Mysteries. Or thern alone the writers, about the time of the appearance of Christianity, speak with uniform reverence, if not with awe. They alone could beslow happiness in life, and hope in death (3). In
A later writer complains--Aliquanti pari libidine tuissem, non ad hæc potissimum confugissem. De in coelestium numerum referuntur, ægre exequiis Nat. Deor. i. 4. digni. Aur. Victor, Cæsar, in Gallievo. M. Ranke, in the first chapter of whose admiralble work die θενείας του καθορωμένων σαφώς ευσχη
(2) Πραγμάτων υπ' ανθρωπίνης ασRömischen Papste) I am not displeased to find some coincidences of view, even of expression, novéorrepos punyeus é Mülos. Max. Tyr., with my own, seems to think that much of the Dissert. X. The whole essay is intended to strength of the old religion lay in the worship of prove that poetry and philosophy held the same the emperor. I ain not disposed to think so ill of doctrine about the gods. This process, it should huinan nature,
be observed, though it had already com
menced, was not carried to its height until phi. (1) Cicero, no doubt, speaks the language of losophy and polytheism coalesced again, from many of the more elevated minds when he states the sense of their common danger, and endeavourthat he took refuge in philosophy from the afflic. ed to array a system composed of the most ratio. tions of life at that dark period of civil conven- nal and attractive parts of both, against the en. tion. Hortata etiam est, ut me ad hæc conferrem, croachments of Christianity. animni ægritudo, inagnâ et gravi commota injuria: (3) Neque solum cun lætitiâ vivendi rationem cujus si inajorem aliquam levationem reperire po- accepimus, sed etiam cum spe meliore moriendi,
these remarkable riles (1) the primitive Nature-worship had survived under a less refined and less humanized form; the original and more simple symbolic forms (those of the first agricultural inhabitants of Greece (2)) had been retained by ancient reverence : as its allegory was less intricate and obscure (3), it accommodated itself betler with the advancing spirit of the age. It may indeed be questioned whelher the Mysteries did not owe much of their influence to their secrecy, and to the impressive forms, under which they shadowed forth their more recondite truths (4). These, if they did not satisfy, yet kept the mind in a state of progressive and continued excitement. They were, if it may be so said, a great religious drama, in which the initiated were at once spectators and actors; where the fifth act was designedly delayed lo the utmost possible point, and of this still suspended catastrophe, the dramatis personæ, the only audience, were kept in studied ignorance (5). The Mysteries had, perhaps, from an early period associated a moral (6) purport with their sacred shows; and with the progress of opinion, the moral would more and more predominale over the primitive religious meaning (7). Yet the morality of the Mysteries was apparently that of the ancient Nature-worship of the East. It taught the immortality of the soul, as a part of that vast system of nature, which, emanating from the Supreme Being, passed through a long course of deterioration or refinement, and at length returned and resolved itself into the primal source of all existence. But the Mysteries, from their very nalure, could only act upon the public mind in a limited manner (8): direclly they ceased to be mysteries they lost their power (9). Nor can it be
Cic. de Leg. ii. 14. The theory of Warburton on natura, sacra sua non simul tradit. Initiatos nos the Mysteries is now universally exploded; but credimus : in vestibulo ejus hæremus. Sen. Nat. neither, with the utmost deference to his erudi- Quæst. vii. 31. Ut opinionem suspendio cogui. tion, can I enter altogether into the views of Lo- tionis ædificent, atque ita tantam inajestatem adbeck. In my judgment his quotations do not hibere videantur, quanlum præstruxerunt cupi. bear him out, as to the publicity of the cere- ditatem. Tert, ad. Valent. c. 1. monies ; nor can I conceive that there was none,
(6) Pindar, Frag. 116. Sophocles. Fragın. or scarcely any, secret.
Luc. LVIII. Isoc. Pan. Vii. Plato, Men,
(7) Even Lobeck allows this of the Eleusinian Vulgarit arcanæ, sub iisdem
Mysteries—Sacerdotes interdum aliquid de me. Sit trabibus, fragilemque mecum Solvat phaselum.
Hor. Carm. iii. 2.
tempsychosi dixisse largiar." i. 73. (1) The theories of Maier, Warburton, Ples- the Mysteries. In the Greek text of the LXX, a
(8) The Jews were forbidden to be initiated in sing, Boulanger, Dupuis, Meiners, Villoison, P. Knight, Heeren, St. Croix, Creuzer, may be
text was interpolated or mistranslated (Deut. found briefly stated, Lobeck, 1.6.8.
xxiii. 17.), in which Moses, by an anachronisin (2) Quibus explicatis, ad rationemque revo.
not uncoinmon in the Alexandrian school, was catis, reruin magis natura cognoscitur, quam of paganism.
made distinctly to condemn these peculiar rites deoram. Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 42.
(3) See Varro's View of the Eleusinian Myste. (9) Philo demands why, if they are so useful, ries, preserved by Augustin,De Civ. Dei, vii. 15. they are not public : “ Nature makes all her
(4) 'Αγνωσία σεμνότης επί τελετων most heautiful and splendid works, her heaven tai vùč. Sic TO ŪTO TIOTIÚPTAI Td pure and all her stars for the sight of all; her seas,
fountains, and rivers, the annual temperature of τήρια, και άβατα σπήλαια δια τούτο the air, and the winds, the innumerable tribes ορύττεται, καιροί και τόποι κρύπτειν and races of animals, and fruits of the earth, for ridotes apontoupybav čv@sov. Synes, de the common use of man-why then are the MysProv. Compare the splendid passage in Dio. teries confined to a few, and those not always the Chrys. Orat. 12.
most wise and most virtuous ?” This is the ge(5) Non semel quædam sacra traduntur . Eleu- neral sense of a long passage, vol. ii. p. 260. Éd. sis servat, quod ostendat revisentibus. Rerum Mang.
doubted, that while the local and public Mysteries, particularly
II. Philosophy as a substitute for religion was still more mani-
is impossible to make him known to all.” So, observes a German historian of Christianity, think the Brahmins of India. Plato might aspire to the creation of an imaginary republic, which, if it could possibly be realised, might stand alone, an unapproachable model of the physical and moral perfection of man; but the amelioration of the whole world, the simultaneous elevation of all nations, orders, and classes to a higher degree of moral advancement, would have been a vision from which even his imagination would have shrunk in despair. This remained to be conceived and accomplished by one who appeared to the mass of mankind in his own age, as a peasant of Palestine.
It cannot be denied that, to those whom it deigned to address,
hand, lo lead the inquirer, either to the luxurious gardens of Epi-
or among the loftier spirits of the Porch. In the two preva-
(1) The republic severely prohibited these sage. See the translation of Neander, which had practices, which were unknown in its earlier and not been announced when the above was written. better days. Dionys. Hal. ii. viii.
It is curious that Strabo remarks, on another (2) 'Opas, só traños Tv ouvospatwv; point, the similarity of the Indian opinions to πη τις τράπησαι; ποίον αυτών κατε- Platonisim, and treats thein all as μύθοι: λέξομεν; τίνι πεισθώ των παραγγελ- Παραπλέκουσι δε και μύθους, ώσπερ και Mátwv; Max. Tyr. xxxv. sub tin.
Πλάτων, περί τε αρθαρσίας ψυχής, και (3) Neander has likewise quoted several of the των καθ' αδου κρίσεων και άλλα τοιαύτα. saine authorities adduced in the following pas- L. xv. p. 713.