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“ the founder of the second dynasty of

Chipa, was told by the priests who inter“ preted the will of Heaven, that its venge

ance could only be appeased by an human to sacrifice; and he himself readily offered to “ become the devoted victim. The aged king, says Martinius, having laid by his “ imperial robes, cut off the venerable grey “ hairs of his head, shaved his beard, pared “ his nails, and subjected himself to other

preparatory ceremonies, esteemed indigni“ties in China; barefooted, covered over

with ashes, and in the posture of a con“demned criminal, he approached the altar of sacrifice, where, with supplicant

hands, he intreated Heaven to launch the “ thunderbolt of its wrath, and to accept the “ life of the monarch for the sins of the peo“ple.” However difficult it may be in the opinion of some persons to assign the reason, it is certain, that it was a religious opinion, received and adopted with the utmost veneration by the ancients, that in great and afflictive emergencies and dangers of the state, the impending destruction might be averted, if the prince or some of the chief magistrates had the nobleness of mind to make a voluntary offer of their persons, and to devote

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themselves to certain death, as a sacrifice for the general welfare of the people. And the late Dr. Johnson confirms this opinion, by observing, that mankind in every age and in every country, however barbarous or however civilized, have always judged, that a vicarial offering was the one the most likely to deprecate the wrath of the Deity, and the one the most suited to his dignity. It was this opinion that amongst the Grecians (without mentioning either Lycurgus, or Leonidas king of Sparta) wholly influenced the conduct of Codrus the last king of the Athenians, and Menæceus the Theban ; and amongst the Romans, Curtius, and three of the noble family of the Decii, who all devoted themselves to certain death for the salvation of their country. And, in opposition to the before-mentioned stigma thrown on the philanthropy of

man,

I
may

instance the conduct of Mr. Howard in our own country, who voluntarily quitted all that ease and comfort which is in general so highly prized, and exposed his person to the dank and noxious vapours of almost every prison in England, to administer health and comfort, and to relieve from oppression the afflicted in those prisons; in which he greatly suc

ceeded. He afterwards quitted this favoured, this happy region, the seat of liberty, arts, and sciences, and the society of its refined and polished circles, to encounter the severities of a barbarous climate, and the prejudices of a barbarous people; because he imagined he might prove the happy means of extirpating the desolating ravages which a pestilential and contagious distemper annually inflicted. He himself lost his life in this disinterested, benevolent, and magnanimous attempt, and fell a victim to the very disease he was in hopes of eradicating; dying indeed in the bed of honour, of eternal honour*! Many missionaries likewise, infu

* In the most authentic publication of the metropolis, an account was lately given of a most gallant action, in which, after mentioning the particulars of the capture, Captain Manby indisputably proves, that British compassion as well as British valour can triumph over the fear of death, when it has so noble an object in view as the saving the lives of others, though they may be those even of an enemy. In his letter to the Admiral, Captain Manby writes in the following very interesting manner: A melancholy and painful task is now imposed on me, to re“ late the sad catastrophe attending this capture ; which, after “ being more than an hour in our possession, was found to be " rapidly sinking. Every exertion was made to preserve her ; " but, alas! at eight she foundered close beside us,

I had some “ time previous to this event ordered every body to quit her ; « but British humanity, in striving to extricate the wounded

enced by an ardent and high sense of their duty, in endeavouring to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of man, and animated by the glorious and never-fading reward which is promised to those who turn many to righteousness, have voluntarily risked their lives to accomplish so great and noble a purpose. Why then should it be thought incredible that infinite goodness should have reluctance to evince that compassion for the eternal salvation of men, which finite goodness is capable of shewing even for their temporal welfare? especially as the idea, that it is inconsistent with the majesty of the Godhead that a divine Being should appear on earth for the benefit of mankind, is an idea neither supported by heathen mythology nor Scripture, nor by the judgment or reason of man, whether learned or unlearned. , Both in the Old and New Testament instances are recorded of angels being sent from heaven to earth; and the same idea

“ Frenchmen from destruction, weighed so forcibly with Mr. “ Archibald Montgomery and twenty brave followers, that they “ persevered in this meritorious service until the vessel sank “ under them. The floating wreck, I rejoice to say, buoyed up

many from destruction ; but with sorrow I mention, Mr. Fre« deric Spence and Mr. Auckland, two promising young gentle“ men, with five of my gallant crew, unfortunately perished.”

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prevailed and was admitted by the Heathens. Thus when Paul and Barnabas were at Lystra, and the former cured the lame man at that place, the people said, “ The “ gods are come down to us in the shape of

men; and they called Barnabas Jupiter, “ and Paul Mercurius : and the priest of Ju

piter brought oxen and garlands, and “ would have sacrificed to them.” The philosopher in the Phædon of Plato supposes a heavenly revelation of divine truth not only as very desirable, but as very possible. Confucius did the same. And even the Sceptic Bayle, in his Life of Aristotle, records, that this philosopher particularly approved of that passage in Homer's Odyssey, which affirms, that it does not misbecome the gods to assume the nature of man, to the end that they may enlighten mankind. Upon the whole, the weight of argument in favour of the incarnation of our blessed Saviour, and of his descent on earth, is so internally strong and powerful, and the external evidence of it so great, so various, and attended, in the judgment of every candid person, with circumstances and proofs of so public, so ostensible, and irresistible a nature, that unfortunate indeed must be the frame of that

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