« PoprzedniaDalej »
Such is the general plan of the present work, but it is necessary we should say something more concerning, its extensive nature.
All the religions of the various nations in the world, are here displayed in a plain, easy, concise manner; and while the author has adhered to truth, he has not suffered himself to be biased by any party prejudices, infavour of any particular opinions; for in delineating these important subjects, he has sometimes found things simple in their own nature, and really praise worthy, which, at the same time, were joined with such rites of human invention as disgrace the memory of those who invented them. While he relates the follies of many of his fellow creatures, he does it in pity; not doubting, but had he lived in those countries, and in: those ages, he might have been an idolator himself,
At this time, when people in general are engaged in the most laudable of all pursuits, that of religious investigation and free inquiry after truth, nothing it is presumed can be more acceptable to the public than this impartial History of the Religious CEREMONIES and CUSTOMS of all NATIONS, on the most liberal and extensive plan. This volume will exhibit a particular account of the diversities of opinions that have prevailed respe&ing the object of Divine worship in every part of the world, and of the seets and parties which have been formed in consequence of those opinions from the beginning of time to the present Æra. The Ceremonies and Customs of the Idolatrous Nations will be pointed out, the gradual growth of Idolatry, and the absurd and superstitious notions, which by degrees have been introduced amongst the various Savage and Barbarian Countries.
The Jewish and Christian Churches are also noticed in a very particular manner; and the most satisfactory account given of the various denominations of Religion in America and Europe, particularly in these Kingdoms. The gradual increase of the Papal power and influence is traced; together with the policy, interest, and government of the Roman Pontiffs; and a view of the Prophecies relating to them, and the different opinions of the Learned concerning those prophecies.
There is no other Book in our Language, nor indeed in any other, on an enlarged plan; for blending Instruction with Entertainment, this work will lead mankind to set a proper value on the great truths of the Protestant Religion; and it is hoped the Author's sincere endeavours to diffuse useful knowledge amongst all tanks of people, will meet with general approbation and applause.
In writing concerning the Ancient Jews, he has taken the whole of his materials from what we find recorded in the sacred Scriptures, confirming these accounts by the testimony of Josephus; and with respect to the Modern Jews, he has consulted the liturgy used in the public Synagogues, and availed himself of the confession cf faith which they daily repeat.
The Religious Rites and Ceremonies of the Ancient Heathens have been taken from the best authors extant; and much assistance has been given to the writer by some of the greatest men in the present age, particularly those who have made such subjects their favourite study. In writing of the heathen rites and ceremonies, we meet with many things which seem to have a resemblance to the Old Testament dispensation ; such as Sacrifices, the Observations of Days, Months, Sabbaths, and New Moons, but still the difference is great, All the Rites and Ceremonies used by the Jews, as prescribed by the law of Moses, were calculated to make them a peculiar people from all others in the world; and it is remarkable, that although they often plurged themselves into the grossest idolatry, yet many of them adhered to the worship of the true God, and even laid down their lives rather than blaspheme his name.
The accounts of the Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Chinese, the Japanese, the Persians, the inhabitants of the Coast of Guinea, the Druids, the Laplanders, the Hottentols, and the Savages in America, &c. &c. will afford much matter of entertainment for the reader, wlio perhaps never attended to these things before.
In the account of the Religious Ceremonies of the Greek Church, the author has been assisted by materials communicated to him by a gentleman lately deceased, who resided many years as Consul for his late Majesty in the Levant; at Smyrna, Alleppo, Constantinople, and Alexandria; and in this part of the work, some curious particulars have been taken notice of which other historians have entirely neglected.
The origin of the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of Rome, their progress from time to time, and a view of them as they appear at present, have been carefully attended to; and the reader will find a comparison drawn between them and genuine Christianity. The same care has been attended to in giving an account of the Rites and Ceremonies used by the different denominations of Protestants in Europe; and as the author. resided some years on the Continent, so he considers himself as master of the subject; having been present at most of their public assemblies, where he made himself acquainted not only with their Tenets, but also with their Ceremonies; which must serve to throw a considerable light on this part of the work.
In speaking of the different denominations and sectaries in these nations, he has joined candour and truth in such a manner, that the most rigid cannot find fault, nor will the libertine have reason to exult over what he may consider as enthusiasm and weakness. Diversity of tempers, and a variety of circumstances which human prudence could not foresee, have often rendered men enemies to each other, while it was their duty to act as disciples of the blessed Jesus, and where they thought their brethren were deceived, or in any manner led into an error, to draw a veil over their weakness, and exhort them to a proper use of the apostolical injunction, viz. “ Prove all things, and hold that which is good.”' Although convinced of the importance of the subject, the author cannot expect the approbation of all, however he may have exerted his utmost endeavours to deserve it. But there are many men who delight in acquiring knowledge, who seek wisdom in humility, and would desire to be an ornament to their age and country. And there are many young people who have not had an opportunity of attending to these things, but wish to receive information concerning matters of so much importance. By persons of such benevolent sentiments, the following work will be well received; a careful perusal of it will lead them to consider the great difference between all the Heathen religions and those of the Jews and Chrisians. As for Mahometanism, it is a compound of many heresies, first embraced by enthusiasts, and then propagated by force. There are many other Religious Rites and Ceremonies, which will be taken notice of in the course of this work; such as the Armenians, the Bramins, the Banians, and the Ethiopians; which last was communicated to the author by one of the most extraordinary persons of the present age. Throughout the whole, a strict attention has been paid to Chronology; a science which but few are acquainted with, although it is well known, that without it, we can never understand history:
Upon the whole, there is little doubt but this arduous undertaking will merit the thanks of that generous public, for whose benefit it was undertaken; and the author, who has no mercenary views, will, at least, receive the thanks of his fellow subjects. Consistent with human nature, he is anxious for the public applause, but not at the expence of truth; many years have been spent in bringing this work to a state of perfection; and with respect to all the various Religions in the world, it will be found an useful family library, necessary to be perused by all ranks of people, of great service to youth in general, and such as
the man of learning may read without deviating from the dignity of his character in the literary world. The author has excluded from the whole every thing disgustful in controversy, representing men and things as they really are; and drawing a veil over the frailties of human nature, he has modestly pointed out the improprieties and errors of the prejudiced.
It is remarkable, that although we have some useful and valuable books published in numbers, and some of these on Religon, yet this is the first ever attemated on an enlarged and liberal plan. And the author doubts not but from the perusal of this work, the rising generation will be agrecably instructed, and the man of experience entertained.
The History of the Patriarchial Religion, and that of the Ancient Jero's. HAUT
AVING taken notice of the general plan of to point out the great sacrifice which was to be made
our work in the preface, we think it unneces- on Mount Calvary, for the sins of a guilty world. sary to say any thing more by way of introduction, That such was the practice during the life of but will immediately begin with the Patriarchial | Adam, will appear evident to any one who peruses Religion, which may be divided into two parts; the account of Cain and Abel, (Gen. iv.) for sacrifirst, respecting it's state before the deluge; second- fices are there mentioned as the principal part of ly, with regard to its situation from the time of religion. It is true, the form and manner in which Noah till the calling of Abraham. With respect to they were offered up is not mentioned; nor does it the first, we must be directed by what we find in appear that any thing of a particular nature was, the sacred history; for we have no other authorities, i required. Cain, as a person who cultivated the besides some traditions of the heathens, which are ground, brought, as an offering, the fruits of the so much blended with fable that no confidence ought carth: And Abel, who was a shepherd, presented to to be placed in them. To love God without con- the Lord some of the best lambs of his flock: they sciousness of sin, was the business of our first parents came, however, with different dispositions; the one in a state of innocence, when there was no fault to was accepted, the other rejected. The temples for deplore; but no sooner did sin take place in the these sacrifices, in those early ages, were the world world, in consequence of their disobedience, than at large, and the canopy of heaven was the roof every thing was changed, and the earth was cursed which covered them. The altars were no more for their guilt. Dreadful, however, as that curse than clods of earth, or turf, laid up in heaps; for was, God did not forget the works of his hands; , architecture was then little known. When the he looked in compassion on those who had offend-sacrifice was laid upon the altar, if it was approved ed, and he pointed out a remedy, in promising, that of by the Divine Being, he sent down a miraculous in time, a most glorious person, who, according to fire to consume it; and this was considered as a the flesh, was to descend from Adam, should make mark of approbation, and acceptance. Fire pointe:l an atonement for the sins of a guilty world. Al- out the sufferings of the Divine Redeemer, who was though the sacred scriptures do not point out all the endure, in his own person, all the wrath of God for particulars of the promise, yet there can be no doubt sin; and the consuming of the sacrifice, that he was but God had told our first parents, that the seed of to make a complete and final atonement. That the woman, the promised Messiah, was to offer this was the practice during the remainder of the himself up a sacrifice for the sins of his people. Antediluvian world, cannot be doubted; for we are It is, therefore, from the fall of man that we must told that Noah, after the deluge had subsided, built date the origin of sacrifices; which were enjoined an altar to the Lord; which was no more than what
he had learned before God destroyed men for their offer up the sacrifice, and his only son was the vicwickedness. At that time, every man, the father of tim; which may serve to shew, that there was at a family, was a legislator and a priest; there was no that time, a sacerdotal as well as civil power, lodged sacerdotal ordinations; and it is probable, that till in the master of every family. It does not, indeed, the confusion of tongues at Babel, all the descen- appear, that the patriarchs of old ever offered their dants of Noah were of one religion.
slaves in sacrifice; but the case of Isaac was of a The sentiments of those men who lived soon after peculiar nature, and no way applicable to the comthe deluge, seem to be plain, artless, and simple; mon state of affairs in this world, which would put they looked upon God as their maker, they trusted in an end to the existence of civil society. his providence, and their views were directed for- During the life of the patriarch Isaac, as well as wards to that glorious person, who was to make an that of his father Abraham, there seems to have been atonement for their sius. It appears evident, that but little difference between the religious ceremonies soon after the dispersion of the children of Noah, of the heathens and those of the patriarchs; only, by the confusion of tongues, many human inventions that the one worshipped the true God, the others took place in religion, which occasioned the calling were idolators. The person who swore to perform of Abraham, that, in his family, he might preserve any commanded duty, put his right-hand under the the worship of the true God.
thigh of his master, and then invoked the Great Abraham lived in the land of the Chaldeans, since Jehovah to be witness to his fidelity. Altars still called Persia, and like most of the people of that age continued to be made of stones and turf; for as the being a shepherd, it was no difficult mater for him people wandered from place to place, consequently to remove from the place of his nativity ; for landed they could not have temples erected where they property was not then known. During the whole might regularly attend on Divine worship. It was of his history, we find him at different times, and much the same during the life of the patriarch Jacob, in different places, erecting altars to the true God, who supported his family by keeping his flocks in the and offering sacrifices upon them. These altars wilderness; and so it continued till Joseph was sold were what we have already mentioned, namely, lit- as a slave to the Ishmaelites, who carried him into tle hillocks of turfs heaped upon each other; and the Egypt. There is no doubt, but that during the time person who offered the sacrifice, walked round the the children of Israel were in Egypt, they were litpile till the holy fire came down from heaven to tle better than idolators; and it appears that they consume it, taking care to drive away from it all were there at least two hundred and thirty years. sorts of birds and beasts, because it was sacred to All those who went into Egypt were dead before the Lord of creation, providence and grace. Of Moses was called upon to lead their successors to the this we have a striking instance in Gen. XV; where land of promise; and it seems probable, that when we are told, that when the birds came down upon he led them across the Red sca, they had little knowthe sacrifice, Abraham drove them away.
ledge of the true God; or rather, that they were It seems plain, that before the deluge nothing idolators, who worshipped the gods of the heawas more common than to offer in sacrifice the thens. fruits of the earth; but after that period, living Soon after the Jews, or children of Israel, were creatures only were to be sacrificed: and this is what delivered from Egyptian slavery, Moses, their leader the Apostle Paul says (chap. x.) in his Epistle to delivered them a law which he received from God the Hebrews, without shedding of blood, there was on Mount Sinai. This law was delivered in the most no remission. Isaac, as the son of promise from marvellous and miraculous manner, and consisted whom the Messiah was to spring, was given to of precepts relating to their duty both to God and Abraham in a miraculous manner ; beyond the to each other ; but such were the corrupt notions power of man to conceive, and contrary to the or- of those people, that while Moses remained in the dinary course of generation. This will account in mount, they actually made to themselves the image tre clcarest manner, why his father so cheerfully of a golden calf, which they worshipped as the true complied with the Divine command, in submitting God; and this was done in imitation of what they ro offer him up as a burnt offering. The circum- had seen in Egypt. They danced and sung round tances of the narration are affecting, but they are the idol till the holy messenger of God returned instructive. Abraham himself was the priest; he from the mount, and then they were chastised for was to cut the throat of that son who had been given their disobedience. It was therefore necessary, that him on the sacred word of promise from the Divine many rites and ceremonies should be observed by lang. not dorbung but he would raise him up to that people, who seem to have been hard-hearted him again. Abraham was the priest who was to and stiff-necked from the beginning. The most