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bchaviour, could not be induced to act honestly, or preserve their faith, in the case even of a single talent.”
That the Greeks had nothing of those moral restraints, which result from a firm conviction of the divine existence, perfections, and governmeni, and from an expectation of being answerable at a righteous tribunal, has been made sufficiently evident by the testimony of Thucydides, concerning the moral effects, which the plague produced among the Athenians. This testimony was exhibited in a preceding lecture.
As to the moral state of Rome, we may have full satisfaction from the testimony of them, who were eye witnesses. No one can read Sallust's account of the Jugurthine and Catalinean wars, without forming an unfavourable opinion of that nation, both as to private morals and public virtue. He represents it, as sunk in voluptuousness and profligacy. The conspiracy, which Cataline formed, was extensive. Men of all ranks were engaged in it. Yet the design was nefarious; and such were the characters, by whom it was supported.
Jugurtha, who wel knew, declared, that all things were venal at Rome; and his own power and interest were preserved many years, by bribing the senate, and those generals, who were sent to subdue him.
The works of Horace and Juvenal go directly to evince Roman depravity. No one can read the works of the former, without being convinced, that those, among whom he lived, and of whom he wrote, were emphatically without God in the world. But his severity towards others is not the only evidence, by which we are to judge. As he himself wrote in character of a moral instructer, and without concealing his name; as, morcover, he says much in favor of virtue, it is hardly to be supposed, that he thought his own character very far below what night reasonably be expected of a teacher of morals. Yet no one, in the lcast acquainted with his writings, can doubt, for a moment, the great impurity and sensuali
ty of his life. His avowed course of living was that of an ingenious, polished, and well taught libertine, who, in expeclation of no future state, was determiued to get as much of mirth and sensual pleasure, as could be obtained in the short space of mortal existence. Now, if such was the avowed life of one, who wrote much against the dissoluteness of manners, then prevalent, we can have no doubt, that the tone of morals in general was extremely depressed.
The writings of the other Roman satirist are more remarkably to our purpose, than those of Horace. One can scarcely conceive, that vices, so various, so excessive, gross, and nauseating, should, among a people of high refinement, degrade the human character. Whatever of selfishness, cruelty, revenge, or lust, the boldest imagination is able to conceive, was practised among that people,whose power gave law 10 all nations, and whose literary productions still excite the admiration of the world. Whoever compares the descriptions of Juvenal, with those contained in the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, will be forcibly struck with the resemblance. After speaking of crimes, the most unnatural and detestable, the latter proceeds to say, that the Gentiles were filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness ; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity: whisperers, backbilers, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, indenters of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.
This is no more, than their own poets acknowledge, mentioning, at the same time, the names of persons thus guilty; and using a grossness of language, which the inspired apostle is cautious to avoid.
We are next to consider, more particularly, the morality, prevailing among pagans of later times.
1. In regard to the Chinese, though their external manners, says a late writer, are marked with the most ceremonious politeness, and seem to indicate the greatest mildness
and benevolence of disposition, some of their customs and usages denote the most singular unfeelingness, and most savage brutality. (Bigl. iv. 312.)
The horrid practice of infanticide, sanctioned by custom, and tolerated by government, is here carried to the most shocking extent.
The police of Pekin, says a late writer, employ persons to go about the streets at an early hour, every morning, for the purpose of picking up the children, that have been thrown out in the night. The bodies are carried to a common pit without the walls, into which, those, that are alive, as well as those, that are dead, are promiscuously thrown. According to the best accounts, no fewer, than nine thousand infants, are thus inhumanly butchered by their unfeeling parents, or thrown out and buried alive every year, in the city of Pekin; and it is supposed, that about an equal number are destroyed in the same manner, in other parts of the empire. The substance of this account is taken from Barrow, a late traveller in China.
“ The practice of infanticide, says Sir Wm. Jones, so far as regards female infants, is fully substantiated with respect to a particular tribe on the frontiers of Juanpore; a district of the province of Benares. A race of Hindoos, called Rajekoomers, reside there. And it was discovered in 1789 only, that the custom of putting to death their female offspring, by causing their mothers to starve them, had long subsisted, and did actually then very generally prevail among them. The resident at Benares, where the Rajekoomers dwell, had an opportunity of authenticating the existence of the custom from their own confessions."
Nothing can be more satisfactory, than this evidence. The illustrious author, from whose communication this extract is made, introduces the account by remarking, that the crime alledged is of such a nature, as ought not without the most unexceptionable evidence, to be believed. Yet he considered the fact, as fully substantiated.
The practice is common among a race of Hindoos, called Rajpoots. Without alledging any other reason, than the difficulty of providing for daughters, they slarve their female infants to death.
To a similar fact, we have a more recent witness in Dr. Buchanan, from whose memoirs the following is taken. “ 16 a child refuse the mother's milk, whether from disease, or from any other cause, it is supposed to be under the influence of an evil spirit. In this case, the babe is put into a basket, and hung upon a tree for three days. It generally happens, that before the expiration of that time, the infant is dead, being destroyed by ants, or by birds of prey. If it be alive at the end of three days, it is taken home, and means are used to preserve its lise."
As to the general moral character of the Hindoos, the author, last mentioned, has exhibited the testimony of three competent Judges. The first, a King of Hindostan, who was well acquainted with the higher class of the Hindoos. The second, a city magistrate, who was conversant with the lower classes. The third, an author, well versed in their mythology. The first of these was a Mahometan; the second a modern philosopher; and the third a Christian.
According to the first, who was no less a personage, than Tamerlane the great, “ The inhabitants of Hindostan and Bengal, are equally debilitated in their corporeal, and inert in their mental powers. They are inexorable in their temper, and, at the same time, so pernurious and sordid in mind, that nothing can be obtained from them, but by personal violence. It appears unquestionable to me, said that mighty chieftain, that this people are under the displeasure of the Almighty: otherwise a prophet would have been appointed for them to turn them away from the worship of idols, and fire and cows, and to direct them to the adoration of the true God. Like those dæmons, who, with a view to deceive, can assume the most specious appearances, the native of Hindostan cultivates imposture, fraud, and decep
(ion, and considers them to be meritorious accomplishments. Should any person trust to him the care of his property, that person will be only the nominal possessor of it.”
The second witness is Mr. Holwell, who was a city magisfrate at Calcutta, about the middle of the last century. “ The Gentoos, says he, are as degenerate, crafty, and superstitious, litigious, and wicked a people, as any race of beings in the old world, if not eminently more so, especially the common run of Bransins. And we can truly aver, that during almost five years, that we presided in the Judicial Court of Calcutta, never any murder, nor other atrocious crime came before us, but it was proved, in the end, that a Bramin was at the bottom of it."
Now, if such were, in general, the character of the instructors of religion, we wonder the less at that entire want of integrity, which he charges upon the people.
The third witness is Capt. Wilford, author of Essays on Indian and Egyptian Mythology, and who had long resided in the society of the Bramins. “The Pundit of Capt. Wilford, having, for a considerable time, heen guilty of interpolating his books, and fabricating new sentences in old works, to answer a particular purpose, was at length detected, and publicly disgraced. As a last resort to save his character, he brought ten Bramins, not only as his compurgators, but to swear by what is most sacred in their religion to the genuineness of the extracts."
This depravity of morals was the legitimate offspring of their religious system. Agreeably to a remark made in regard to the ancient pagans, it may be said of these Hindoos, that their religion corrupted them. Such was the character of their gods, and such the ceremonies observed in their worship, that moral sensibility and discernment must have been gradually destroyed. By those scenes, which were exhibited at their temples, on days of public festivity, the law written upon the heart must have been effaced, and all distinction between virtue and vice confounded.