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some advances in an apparent moral rectitude beyond the abject wickedness of purely pagan lands. The Persians were the descendants of Elam, the son of Shem; and with the rest of the nations early fell away in their apostacy from the worship of the true God. The purity of their faith was revived in the time of Abraham, but was corrupted again before the Babylonish captivity. It was revived by Zoroaster, who maintained that there is one supreme God, and a general resurrection and retribution to all according to their deeds. But while the Persian religion for centuries held its sway over a multitude of minds, it never made men holy. 6 The Persians," says Sismondi in his history of the downfall of the Roman empire, “had laws emanating from despotic power, which preserve order, but which secure to a nation neither justice, nor happiness. They had that literary culture which feeds the imagination, but does not enlighten the understanding. Their religion and their aversion to idolatry, satisfied the reason, but did not purify the heart.” It is also worthy of remark, that for all that is venerable in antiquity and purity, the Persian religion was indebted to the Bible. By those who are best informed in oriental literature, Zoroaster is represented to have been “cotemporary with Daniel, and if not a Jew, yet perfectly acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures.»* Nor is

Prideaux's Connexions, and Graves on the Pentateuch.

political advancement which rendered Athens and Sparta the models of their age, could not rescue them from a superstitious polytheism. Legislators as well as philosophers, have failed, and always will fail to regenerate the heart. No matter how wise and equal the laws; no matter what principles of government, or modes of legislation may be adopted and enforced; no matter with how much skill the affairs of princes are adjusted; none of these things convey the knowledge of holiness and salvation. It is an instructive fact, that while pagan nations were advancing from one degree of literary and civil refinement to another, their religious character sunk in progressive, if not in proportioned degeneracy. Not merely did it retain its uncultivated barbarism, but waxed worse with every accession of human wisdom. From the most exalted, or rather the least debasing system, that of siderial worship, it descended to “images, made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and to four-footed beasts, and to creeping things.” Never did it reach a lower abyss of degradation, than when heathen lands had attained their acme of civilization and learning. And in a state thus abject did it continue “even under the Ptolemies in Egypt, and the Cæsars in Rome," till “ the fullness of time was come when God sent forth his Son."

Have then men ever become holy through the influence of false religions ? Not certainly by paganism, as we have already seen. The Persians and Mohammedans have, it must be confessed, made

some advances in an apparent moral rectitude beyond the abject wickedness of purely pagan lands. The Persians were the descendants of Elam, the son of Shem; and with the rest of the nations early fell away in their apostacy from the worship of the true God. The purity of their faith was revived in the time of Abraham, but was corrupted again before the Babylonish captivity. It was revived by Zoroaster, who maintained that there is one supreme God, and a general resurrection and retribution to all according to their deeds. But while the Persian religion for centuries held its sway over a multitude of minds, it never made men holy. “ The Persians,” says Sismondi in his history of the downfall of the Roman empire, “had laws emanating from despotic power, which preserve order, but which secure to a nation neither justice, nor happiness. They had that literary culture which feeds the imagination, but does not enlighten the understanding. Their religion and their aversion to idolatry, satisfied the reason, but did not purify the heart.” It is also worthy of remark, that for all that is venerable in antiquity and purity, the Persian religion was indebted to the Bible. By those who are best informed in oriental literature, Zoroaster is represented to have been “cotemporary with Daniel, and if not a Jew, yet perfectly acquainted with the Jewish Scriptures."* Nor is

* Prideaux's Connexions, and Graves on the Pentateuch.

it less true that all that is valuable in the system of Mahomet was drawn from the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Colonies of Jews were once scattered over Arabia, at a period when the religion of the Arabians was polytheism, and when there were three hundred and sixty idols in their principal temple at the Kaaba at Mecca. The character of Mahomet was austere ; his imagination ardent; his temperance extreme; and he was disposed to religious meditations and lofty reveries. His chief thought at first was to fix his own belief, and purify it from the superstitions of his country. He recognized as God an eternal Spirit, omniscient, omnipresent, and incapable of being represented by any material image. He nourished this idea till the age of forty, when he resolved to become the reformer of his nation. He taught them the knowledge of the one God, but he called himself his Prophet. From the time he took this character, his life lost its purity, his temper its mildness, policy entered into his religion, and fraud into his conduct. He dictated the Koran, for he could not read or write, and the sublimity of its language is to Musselmen a proof of its inspired character. He admitted six revelations,—those of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, and his own. The religion of Mahomet leaned toward fatalism, but did not deny the influence of the will in human actions. Nor did it consist in doctrines only, but in the practice of justice and charity. It considers alms-giving the most

rigorous duty; and the Koran exacts from a tenth to a fifth of a believer's income in charity. It enjoins prayer, ablution and fastings. Five times a day, a Musselman must pray. Fasts were so rigid, that during the month of Ramadam, one might neither eat, nor drink, nor enjoy any gratification from sunrise to sunset. Before the time of Mahomet, the Arabs enjoyed unbounded licence; and he forbade dissoluteness, only by reducing it within the bounds of expediency and law. The blood of their enemies was a sure passport to the Mohammedan Paradise. Every Musselman, indeed, however bad, was sure of Paradise, after expiating his sins a suitable time in purgatory, not to exceed five thousand years. The most favorable exhibition of the religion of Mahomet shows its perfect powerlessness to form any thing like a spiritual character. We have spoken of its immoral tendencies in a previous lecture; and it were the merest farce to claim for it any spiritual influence. We freely grant to these religions all they can claim. And the most that can be said of them is, that they are not idolatrous. And if they have effected something in supplanting the existence of idolatry, nothing is more obvious than that their influence in this particular is to be attributed to the Bible. Wherever indeed, men have ceased to bow down to the sun, moon and stars; wherever they have ceased erecting pillars and statues on the tops of hills and mountains for the purpose of offering sacrifices to the host of heaven; wherever they

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