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the temple was desecrated, the altar thrown down, CHAP. the priesthood degraded or put to the sword, this was done in the fierceness of hostility, or the insolence of pride *; or from policy, lest the religion should become the rallying point of civil independencet; rarely, if ever, for the purpose of extirpating a false, or supplanting it by a true, system of belief; perhaps in no instance with the design of promulgating the tenets of a more pure and perfect religion. A wiser policy commenced Policy of with Alexander. The deities of the conquered nations were treated with uniform reverence, the sacrilegious plunder of their temples punished with exemplary severity. I According to the Grecian system, their own gods were recognised in those of Egypt and Asia; they were called by Grecian names $, and worshipped with the accustomed offerings; and thus all religious differences between Macedonian, and Syrian, and Egyptian, and Persian, at once vanished away. On the same principle,
* Such was the conduct of Cam- seems to have mingled with his byses in Egypt. Xerxes had, before strange character. 1 Macc. i. 41. et his Grecian invasion, shown the seqq. 2 Macc. vi. Diod. Sic. xxxiv. proud intolerance of his disposition, 1. Hist. of the Jews, vol. ii. p. 42. in destroying the deities of the Ba- † Arrian, lib. vi. p. 431. 439. bylonians, and slaying their priest. (Edit. Amst. 1668.); Polyb. v. 10. hood (Herod. i. 183., and Arrian, Ø Arrian, lib. iii. p. 158., vii. vii. 19.); though, in this case, the p. 464., and 486. Some Persian trarapacity which fatally induced him ditions, perhaps, represent Alexto pillage and desecrate the temples ander as a religious persecutor ; of Greece may have combined with but these are of no authority against his natural arrogance.
Herod. the direct statement of the Greek viii. 53.
historians. The Indian religious † This was most likely the prin- usages, and the conduct of some ciple of the horrible persecution of of their faquirs, excited the wonder the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, of the Greeks. though a kind of heathen bigotry
CHAP. and with equal sagacity, Rome, in this as in other
respects, aspired to enslave the mind of those naof Rome. tions which had been prostrated by her arms. The
gods of the subject nations were treated with every mark of respect: sometimes they were admitted within the walls of the conqueror, as though to render their allegiance, and rank themselves in peaceful subordination under the supreme divinity of the Roman Gradivus, or the Jupiter of the Capitol*; till, at length, they all met in the amicable synod of the Pantheon, a representative assembly, as it were, of the presiding deities of all nations, in Rome, the religious as well as the civil capital of the world. † The state, as Cicero shows in his Book of Laws, retained the power
of declaring what forms of religion were permitted by
* Solere Romanos Deos omnes Soranus. Plut. Quæst. Rom. Note urbium superatarum partim pri- on Hume's Hist. Nat. Rel. Essays, vatim per familias spargere, partim p. 450. publice consecrare. Arnob. iii. 38.
Roma triumphantis quotiens ducis inclita It was grave charge against
Plausibus excepit, totiens altaria Divom Marcellus, that, by plundering the Addidit, et spoliis sibimet nova numina fecit. temples in Sicily, he had made the
PRUDENTIUS. state an object of jealousy (énio0o- Compare Augustin de Cons. vov), because not only men but Evang. i. 18. gods were led in triumph. The For the Grecian custom on this older citizens approved rather the subject, see Thucyd. iv. 98. Philip, conduct of Fabius Maximus, who the king of Macedon, defeated left to the Tarentines their offended by Flaminius in his wars with gods. Plut. Vit. Marc.
the Grecian states, paid little re+ According to Verrius Flaccus, spect to the temples.., His adcited by Pliny (xxviii. 2.), the Ro- miral Dicæarchus is said to have mans used to invoke the tutelary erected and sacrificed on two altars deity of every place which they to Impiety and Lawlessness, 'Agebesieged, and bribed him to their beia and Ilapavópia. This fact side by promising greater honours. would be incredible on less grave Macrobius has a copy of the form authority than that of Polybius, of Evocation. The name of the lib. xviii. 37. On the general respect tutelar deity of Rome was a secret. to temples in war, comp. Grot. de Pliny, Nat. H. üi. 5. Bayle, Art. Jur. Bell, et Pac. ii. 12. 6.
the law (licitæ) * ; but this authority was rarely CHAP. exercised with rigour, excepting against such foreign superstitions as were considered pernicious to the morals of the people, in earlier times, the Dionysiact; in later, the Isiac and Serapic rites. I Christianity proclaimed itself the religion not of Universal.
ity of Chrisfamily, or tribe, or nation, but of universal man. tianity. It admitted within its pale, on equal terms, all ranks and all races.
It addressed mankind as one brotherhood, sprung from one common progenitor, and raised to immortality by one Redeemer. In this respect Christianity might appear singularly adapted to become the religion of a great empire. At an earlier period in the annals of the world, it would have encountered obstacles apparently insurmountable, in passing from one province to another, in moulding hostile and jealous nations into one religious community. A fiercer fire was necessary to melt and fuse the discordant elements into one kindred mass, before its gentler warmth could penetrate and permeate the whole with its vivifying influence. Not only were the circumstances of the times favourable to the extensive propagation of Christianity, from the facility of intercourse between the most remote na
* The question is well discussed ples of Isis and Serapis were twice by Jortin, Discourses, p. 53, note. ordered to be destroyed, Dion. xl. Dionysius Hal. distinguishes be- p. 1+2, xlii. p. 196., also liv. p.525. tween religions permitted, and pub. Val. Max. i. 3. Prop. ii. 24. On licly received. lib. 11. vol. i. p. 275. the Roman law on this subject, edit. Reiske.
compare Jortin, Discourses, p. 53. + Livy, xxix. 12. et seqq. Gibbon, vol. i. p. 55, with Wenck's
CHAP. tions, the cessation of hostile movements, and the
uniform system of internal police, but the state of mankind seemed imperiously to demand the introduction of a new religion, to satisfy those universal propensities of human nature, which connect man with a higher order of things. Man, as history and experience teach, is essentially a religious being ; there are certain faculties and modes of thinking and feeling apparently inseparable from his mental organisation, which lead him irresistibly to seek some communication with another and a higher world. But at the present juncture, the ancient religions were effete: they belonged to a totally different state of civilisation ; though they retained the strong hold of habit and interest on different classes of society, yet the general mind was advanced beyond them; they could not supply the religious necessities of the age. Thus, the world, peaceably united under one temporal monarchy, might be compared to a vast body without a soul : the throne of the human mind appeared vacant ; among the rival competitors for its dominion, none advanced more than claims local, or limited to a certain class. Nothing less was required than a religion co-extensive with the empire of Rome, and calculated for the advanced state of intellectual culture: and in Christianity this new element of society was found; which, in fact, incorporating itself with manners, usages, and laws, has been the bond which has held together, notwithstanding the internal feuds and divisions, the great European commonwealth ; maintained a kind of federal re
lation between its parts; and stamped its peculiar CHAP. character on the whole of modern history.
Christianity announced the appearance of its Dissociating Divine Author as the era of a new moral creation ; old religions. and if we take our stand, as it were, on the isthmus which separates the ancient from the modern world, and survey the state of mankind before and after the introduction of this new power into human society, it is impossible not to be struck with the total revolution in the whole aspect of the world. If from this point of view we look upward, we see the dissociating principle at work both in the civil and religious usages of mankind; the human race breaking up into countless independent tribes and nations, which recede more and more from each other as they gradually spread over the surface of the earth ; and in some parts, as we adopt the theory of the primitive barbarism*, or that of the degeneracy of man from an earlier state of culture, either remaining stationary at the lowest point of ignorance and rudeness, or sinking to it; either resuming the primeval dignity of the race, or rising gradually to a higher state of civilisation. A certain diversity of religion follows the diversity of race,
* The notion that the primeval should at the same time call in state of man was altogether bar- question this, almost established, barous and uncivilised, so gene- theory. Dr. Whateley's argument, rally prevalent in the philosophy of that there is no instance in history the two last centuries (for Dryden's of a nation self-raised from savage line,
life, is very strong. I have been Since wild in woods the noble savage ran,
much struck by finding a very contains the whole theory of Rous- strong and lucid statement to the seau) has encountered a strong re- same effect, in an unpublished lecaction. It is remarkable that Nie- ture of the late Lord Stowell (Sir buhr in Germany, and Archbishop William Scott), delivered when Whateley in this country, with no professor of History at Oxford. knowledge of each other's views,