« ForrigeFortsæt »
deity was fast bound in chains, to prevent him from deserting to the enemy... The city of Ambracia being taken by the Romans, and every sta tue of their gods being carried to Rome; the Ambracians complained bitterly that not a single divinity was left them to worship. How much more rational are the Hindostan Bramins, who teach their disciples, that idols are emblems only of the Deity, intended merely to fix the attention of the populace!
The first statues in Greece and Tuscany were made with wings, to signify the swift motion of the gods. These statues were so clumsy, as scarce to resemble human creatures, not to talk of a divinity. But the admirable statues executed in later times, were imagined to resemble most accurately the deities represented by them; whence the vulgar notion, that gods have wings, and that angels have wings.
I proceed to what in the history of idolatry may be reckoned the second part. Statues, we have seen, were at first used as representatives only of the Deity; but came afterwards to be metamorphosed into Deities. The absurdity did not stop there. People, not satisfied with the visible deities erected in temples for public worship, became fond to have private deities of their own, whom they worshipped as their own tutelar deities; and this practice spread so wide, that among many nations. eyery family had household gods cut in wood or
stone. Every family in Kamskatka has a tutelar deity in the shape of a pillar, with the head of a man, which is supposed to guard the house against malevolent spirits. They give it food daily, and anoint the head with the fat of fish. The Prophet Isaiah *puts this species of deification in a most ridiculous light: "He burneth part thereof "in the fire: with part thereof he roasteth flesh: of the residue he maketh a god, even his graven image; he falleth down, worshipping, and praying to it, and saith, Deliver me, for thou art my god." Multiplication could not fail to sink household-gods into a degree of contempt: some slight hope of good from them, might produce some cold ceremonial worship; but there could be no real devotion at heart. The Chinese manner
of treating their household-gods, will vouch for me. When a Chinese does not obtain what he prays for, "Thou spiritual dog," he will say, "I lodge thee well, thou art beautifully gilded, treated with perfumes and burnt-offerings; and yet thou withholdest from me the necessaries of "life." Sometimes they fasten a cord to the idol,
and drag it through the dirt. The inhabitants of
* Chap. xliv.
Ceylon treat their idols in the same manner. Thor, Woden, and Friga, were the great deities of the Scandinavians. They had at the same time infe
rior deities, who were supposed to have been men translated into heaven for their good works. These rio boow ni Z-3400 they
they treated with very little ceremony, refusing to worship them if they were not propitious; and even punishing them with banishment; but, restoring them after a time, in hopes of amendment. Domestic idols are treated by the Ostiacs with no greater reverence than by the people mentioned. But they have public idols, some particularly of brass, which are highly reverenced: the solidity of the metal is, in their imagination, connected with immortality; and great regard is paid to these idols, for the knowledge and experience they must have acquired in an endless course of time.
When by philosophy and improvement of the rational faculty, the Pagan religion in Rome was sinking into contempt, little regard was had to tutelar deities, to auguries or to prophecies. Ptolemy, King of Egypt, being thrust out of his kingdom by a powerful faction, applied to the Senate of Rome to be restored. Lentulus, proconsul of Syria, was ambitious to be employed; but he had enemies who made violent opposition. They brought religion into the quarrel, alleging a Sybilline oracle, prophesying that Ptolemy should be restored, but not by an army. Cicero, in a letter still extant, gave Lentulus the following advice, that with his Syrian army he should invade Egypt, beat down all opposition, and when the country was quieted, that Ptolemy should be at hand to take possession. And this the great Cicero thought might
might be piously done without contradicting the oracle.
Saints, or tutelar deities, are sometimes not better treated among Roman Catholics, than among Pagans." When we were in Portugal," says Captain Brydone," the people of Castelbranco were "so enraged at St Antonio, for suffering the Spa"niards to plunder their town, contrary, as they "affirmed, to his express agreement with them, "that they broke many of his statues to pieces; " and one that had been more revered than the “rest, they took the head off, and in its stead pla"ced one of St Francis. The great St Januarius
himself was in imminent danger, during the last "famine at Naples. They loaded him with abuse " and invective; and declared point-blank, that "if he did not procure them corn by such a time, "he should be no longer their saint." The Tutelar saint of Cattania, at the foot of Mount Etna, is St Agatha. A torrent of lava burst over the walls, and laid waste great part of that beautiful city. Where was St Agatha at that time? The people say, that they had given her just provocation: but that she has long ago been reconciled to them, and has promised never to suffer the lava to hurt them again. At the foot of Mount Etna, a statue of a saint is placed as a memorial for having prevented the lava from running up the mountain of Taurominum, and destroying that town; the 24 saint
saint having conducted the lava down a low valley
to the sea.
Let a traveller once deviate from the right road, and there is no end of wandering. Porphyrius reports, that in Anubis, an Egyptian city, a real man was worshipped as a god; which is also asserted by Minutius Fælix, in his apology for the Christians. A thousand writers have said, that the Tartars believe their high-priest, termed Dalai Lama, to be immortal. But this is a mistake: his death is published through the whole country; and couriers intimate it even to the Emperor of China: his effigy is taken down from the portal of the great church, and that of his successor is put in its stead. The system of the metempsychosis, adopted in that country, has occasioned the mistake.They believe, that the holy spirit, which animates a Dalai Lama, passes upon his death into the body of his successor. The spirit, therefore, is believed to be immortal, not the body. The Dalai Lama, however, is the object of profound veneration. The Tartar Princes are daily sending presents to
him, and consulting him as an oracle; they even
undertake a pilgrimage in order to worship him in person. In a retired part of the temple, he is shown covered with precious stones, and sitting cross-legged. They prostrate themselves before him at a distance, for they are not permitted to kiss his toe. The priests make, traffic even of his excrements, which are greedily purchased at a high