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ruption; and if its rites, and even its superstitious observances, bear that analogy to those of the old world, which must exist where all haye flowed from one source: then all that is really useful in the ques: tion respecting the origin of the inhabitants of this continent will be fully obtained. There will be no anomaly in the history of human nature; and the assertion of Voltaire will be found to be as false as it is flippant, that the Americans are a race entirely different from other men, and that they have sprung to existence like plants and insects *.
• “Il n'est permis qu'à un aveugle de douter que les Bļancs, les Négres, les Albinos, les Hottentots, les Lapons, les Chinois, les Américans soient des raees entièrement différentes." Voltaire Euvres, vol. 16. p. 8.
“Aų reste si l'on demande d'où sont venus les Américains, il faut aussi demander d'où sont venus les habitants des terres Australes ; et l'on a déjà répondu que la providence qui a mis des hommes dans le Norvège, en a planté aussi en Amérique et sous le cercle polaire meridional, comme elle y a planté des arbres et fait croitre de l'herbe.” Ibid. p. 10,
“ Se peut-il qu'on demande encore d'où sont venus les hommes qui ont peuplé l'Amérique ? On doit assurément faire la même question sur les nations des Terres Australes. Elles sont beaucoup plus éloignées du port dont partit Christophe Colomb, que ne le sont les îles Antilles. On a trouvé des hommes et des animaux partout où la terre est habitable; qui les y a mis ? On a déjà dit ; C'est celui qui fait croître l'herbe des champs : et on ne devait pas être plus surpris de trouver en Amérique des hommes que des mouches." Ib. p. 37.
How much pains did this extraordinary man take to degrade that nature of which he was at once the ornament and the shame! No one can read the writings of Voltaire, without a feeling of admiration at the wonderful versatility of his talents. No one can help being amused, and having his mind drawn along, by the powers of his excursive fancy. But with all this, there is, to every serious and sensitive mind, a feeling of disgust and shrinking abhorrence. By associating ludicrous images with subjects which have been hallowed by the veneration of ages, he has the address to impart to them that ridicule which properly belongs only to the company in which he
Previous to the dispersion of the descendants of Noah, the knowledge of the true God, of the worship which he required from his creatures, and of the sanctions with which he enforced his commands, must have been common to all. It is impossible to conceive of any distinction where all were equally related to him, and possessed equal means ofinstruction and knowledge. In a word, the whole of mankind formed one universal church, having the same faith and the same worship.
How long this purity continued we know not, nor when, nor where, idolatry was first introduced. That it began, however, at a very early period, we have the strongest evidence; for Terah, the father of Abraham, was an idolater, notwithstanding the precepts and example of Noah, both of which, for more than a hundred years, he personally enjoyed. We may account for it from that tendency in our nature which seeks to contract every thing within the compass of our understanding, and to subject it, if possible, to the scrutiny of our senses. A Being purely spiritual, omniscient and omnipotent, is above our comprehension, and we seek, by the multiplication of subordinate deities, to account for the operations of his power. When this is done, the imagi
has placed them. Hence, his writings have done more injury to truth, and to human happiness, than those of any other modern--perhaps I may add, of any other being. The thoughtless and the timid have been frightened out of their good principles by his caustic sarcasm, while to the rashly bold and ignorantly daring, the eyes of the judgment have been blinded by the coruscations of his wit.
nation feels itself at liberty to clothe them with corporeal forms; and from this idea, the transition is not difficult, to the formation of idols, and the introduction of idolatry.
But notwithstarding this departure from primeval purity, the religion of mankind did not at once lose all its original brightness. It was still the form of the archangel ruined. It did not reject the worship of the true God, but seems only to have absurdly combined with it the worship of inferior divinities.
When Abraham sojourned at Gerar, the king of that country had evidently communications with the Almighty; and the testimony which God gave of the integrity of his character, and his submission to the divine admonition, clearly prove that he was a true believer*.
At a subsequent period, when Isaac lived in the same country, the king, a descendant of the former monarch, requested that a covenant of friendship should be made between them, because, as he observed, Isaac was the blessed of Jehovaht. “This,” as Bishop Horsley remarks, “is the language of one who feared Jehovah, and acknowledged his providences.”
When Joseph was brought before the King of Egypt, both speak of God as if they had the same faith, and the same trust in his overruling providenceg. * Gen. xx. 3, 4, 5, 6. See also xxi. 22, 23. to Gen. xxvi. 28, 29.
Horsley's Dissertation on the Prophecies of the Messiah, dispersed among the Heathen, prefixed to Nine Serm. p. 41. New-York, 1816. 8vo.
$ Gen. xli. 25, 32, 38, 39.
Even at so late a period as when the Israelites entered Canaan, the spies of Joshua found a woman of Jericho, who confessed that “ Jehovah, the God of Israel, he is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath*.”
The book of Job presents an interesting view of the patriarchal religion as it existed in Arabia ; and, it will be remembered that, in Mesopotamia, Balaam was a prophet of the Most High.
These instances are sufficient to show how extensively the worship of the true God prevailed, and that it had not become extinct even when the children of Israel took possession of the land of promise, and became the peculiar people of Jehovah. That it was blended, however, with the worship of inferior divinities, represented in idolatrous forms, is equally apparent from the sacred history.
When the servant of Abraham had disclosed to the family of Nahor the purpose of his mission, both Laban and Bethuel replied : “ The thing proceedeth from Jehovah ; we cannot speak unto thee bad or goodt.” This reply was an evidence of their faith in the true God; yet it afterwards appears
that the same Laban had images which he called his gods, and which were regarded with veneration, and greatly valued by himself and his children I. Upon the occasion of Jacob's departure to Bethel, he commanded his household to “put away the strange gods that were among them.”
* Josh. ii. v. 11. do Gen. xxiv. 50. Gen. xxxi. 19, 30, 32, 34, 35.
must have been numerous ; for it is mentioned that “ they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and he hid them under the oak by Shechem*.” Even the chosen family, therefore, was not exempt from the infection of idolatry.
But this was idolatry in its milder form. The progress of corruption among mankind soon introduced a grosser and more malignant species. The worship of the invisible Creator was at length forgotten; His seat was usurped by fictitious deities; and a general apostacy prevailed. Quis nescit
Juvenal. SAT. XV.
Then it was that the Almighty was pleased to give the nations over “to a reprobate mind I,” and to select a peculiar people, to be a signal example of his providence, the witness of his wonders, and the guardian of that revelation with which he sought to check the waywardness of human corruption.
I. Having thus seen that all false religions are, in a greater or less degree, departures from the
* Gen. xxxv. 2, 4.
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