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mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.' Rev. xxi. 3.
Let every conscientious Christian fairly weigh these portions of the divine word, and then say, whether there be not, according to the spirit of these passages, a great degree of criminality attached to the person who in any way countenances idolatry. I am not ashamed to confess, that I fear more for the continuánce of the British power in India, from the encouragement which Englishmen have given to the idolatry of the Hindoos, than from any other quarter whatever. The Governor of the world said to the Israelites, in particular reference to idolatry, If ye walk contrary to me, I will walk contrary to you.' Moses, in the name of Jehovah, thus threatens the Jews, if they countenance idolatry:- I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it: ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. It cannot be doubted, that in every case in which either a person, or a nation, begins to think favourably of idolatry, it is a mark of departure in heart and practice from the living God: it was always so considered among the Jews. There is scarcely any thing in Hindooism, when truly known, in which a learned man can delight, or of which a benevolent man can approve; and I am fully persuaded, that there will soon be but one opinion on the subject, and that this opinion will be, that the Hindoo system is less ancient than the Egyptian, and that it is the most PUERILE, IMPURE, AND BLOODY OF ANY SYSTEM OF IDOLATRY THAT WAS EVER ESTABLISHED ON EARTH.
To this description of the Hindoo Mythology, the author has added accounts of the principal Hindoo Seceders, including the sects founded by Booddhủ, Rishůbhủ-dévů, Nanŭků, and Choitủnyů.
All the founders of these sects appear to have been religious mendicants, who, animated by excessive enthusiasm, have attempted to carry certain points of the Hindoo system farther than the regular Hindoos, particularly those which respect severe mortifications. Nanŭků and Choitůnyú were less rigid, and do not seem to have pressed the importance of religious austerities. Booddhủ and Rishủbhủ-dévŭ evidently adhered to the systems of those Hindoo philosophers who were atheistsh.
Both these systems are comprised in two or three doctrines : - the world is eternal, and possesses in itself the energy which gives rise to what we call creation, preservation, and resuscitation ; religion (Dhůrmů) regulates all states, and is in fact what Christians call providence, connected with absolute predestination; the person who acquires the greatest portion of dhărmă becomes a personification of religion, procures happiness for himself, and deserves the worship of others. Amongst all excellent qualities, compassion is the cardinal virtue, especially as manifested in a rigid care not to hurt or destroy sentient beings.
Without abating an atom of our abhorrence and contempt of a scheme of religion which excludes a God, it is a singular feature of this system of atheism, that it has placed the sceptre of universal government in an imagined being under the name of Religion; or, to speak more correctly, in the hands of two beings, Religion and Irreligion, who have the power of rewarding and punishing the virtuous and the vicious. In short, these heresiarchs have not promulgated a system of atheism, without making some provision for the interests of morality in their way; and if the idea of punishment alone would make men virtuous, a Bouddhủ and a Joinŭ might attain a place in the niche of fame not much below thousands who believe in a First Cause.
1 The Shrée-bhagtivůtů mentions Booddhë as the son of Unjúnú, of Kēēkútů ; and that Charvvakt, a celebrated atheist, embraced and published the real opinions of Booddhů. See Shrēë-bhagůvůtă, chap. i. sect. 3.
: As men are born under a certain destiny, and as every action produces its destined fruit, little is left to human exertion, and in consequence religious ceremonies have little place in these systems. The only object of worship is a deceased or living perfect ascetic: the former has temples erected to his memory, which contain his image, and before which a few ceremonies areperformed similar to those before the Hindoo idols; and the living mendicant is worshipped by the devout wherever he happens to rest from his peregrinations.
These men have almost entirely excluded from their system a social life; and at present those Joinŭs, who find the rules of their guides too strict, are obliged to solicit the forms of marriage at the hands of some Hindoo priest. In the translation of the Témee Jatů, a Bouddhủ work, (see vol. ii. p. 221,) the readers will perceive, that a monarch and all his subjects abandoned a civil life at the call of the monarch's son, an ascetic, and sought in a forest that abstraction from secular concerns which they considered as an essential preparation for re-union to the divine essence.
The ceremonies of these two-sects are all comprised in the worshipping of their saints, rehearsing their praises, listening to their sayings or written works, and a rigid care to avoid the destruction of animal life, even in its most diminutive forms. The Booddhủs and Joinŭs have not excluded, it is true, every thing pleasant from their religion, for a number of festivals are celebrated among them monthly or annually; but there is reason to suppose, that these are no parts of the original system, but the additions of mendicants less rigid in their principles and less austere in their manners.
The Joinủs speak of the Bouddhủs with a degree of contempt, as being very loose in their practice, particularly as it regards the destruction of animal life. From this circumstance, and from the Joinŭs being still found in Hindoost'hanŭ, as well as from the fact that they trace their religion up to a very early
Hindoo monarch, it may be conjectured, that they are the oldest of the two sects, and are the scattered remnants of those persecuted under the name of atheists, after the destruction of the Goutůmů dynasty, or, as they were then called, Bouddhús.
Nanúků, the Shikh leader, does not appear to have had any connection with the atheists; he disapproved of the excessive polytheism of the Hindoos, and wished to draw them to the worship of the one God, whom, however, he called by the names usually adopted by the Hindoos : Brůmhủ, Pŭrům-éshwŭrů, Unadee, Nirakarů, &c. He did not publicly reprobate those parts of the Hindoo system to which he was most averse, but contented himself with observing, that while he left them indifferent, the practice of them would not be accompanied with the benefits held out by the Hindoo writers. He formed, from the bramhinical system, a new one, having little polytheism in it, but borrowing all its principal doctrines from the Hindoo writings; and he and his successors incorporated the whole in two volumes. The principal tenets of this seceder are :-There is one invisible God, who is to be worshipped or honoured in holy men; his name is to be repeated; the spiritual guide is to be reverenced; all evil avoided : if images be adopted, they should be those of eminent ascetics. Future happiness, consisting in union to the divine nature, is secured to those Shikhs who observe the rules laid down by their sacred books.
Choitặnyú, the last of the seceders, departed still less from regular Hindooism : his principal opposition was aimed at the rising sect of the shaktůs, or those who worship the female deities with bloody sacrifices : he testified his abhorrence of the destruction of animal life in sacrifices, and professed to be a rigid Voishnůvă, adopting Krishnů, or Hŭree, as his favourite deity. He did not proscribe the other gods, but set up Vishnoo as uniting all in himself; nor did he explode any tenet of Hindooism beside that relating to bloody sacrifices. A devout attachment to Krishnů; a strict union among all his followers ; reverence for religious mendicants; visiting holy places; re
peating the name of Hŭree, and entertaining mendicant Voishnůvės, compose the prime articles in the creed of this sect.
Such are the systems established by these Hindoo heresiarchs, each of which, though different in many essential points, is distinguished by one remarkable feature, reverence for mendicant saints, especially those who seem to have carried abstraction of mind, seclusion from the world, and religious austerities to the greatest lengths. Among the atheistical sects, these mendicants are regarded as personifications of religion; and among the two last, as partial incarnations, or persons approaching the state of re-union to the Great Spirit.
Respecting the priority of the atheistical or the bramhinical systems, the author has not been able entirely to satisfy his own mind. Some persons conjecture, that they see a coincidence betwixt the doctrines of the védús, and of the atheistical sects, respecting the origin of things, and the worship of the elements. It may be safely added, that to these systems succeeded the pouranic mythology, and after that the worship of the female deities with bloody sacrifices. The whole of these systems, however, when more generally known, will, no doubt, exceedingly endear the Word of Truth' to every sincere Christian, and more and more prove, how deep and important a stake he has in the 'glorious gospel of the Blessed God.'