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rections for conduct, and such rewards promised for the observation of such conduct, as we find in Scripture? For example; when God by his prophet Isaiah severely censures the hypocrisy of the Jews in their fasts, and declares the sort of conduct he
and requires from them, he thus expresses him . self; “ Is not this the fast I have chosen? to “ loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the
heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go * free? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hun
gry, and that thou bring the poor that are 16 cast out to thy house? when thou seest the “ naked, that thou cover him; and that thou “ hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then “ shall thy light break forth as the morning, “ and thine health shall spring forth speedily: “thy righteousness shall go
before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward," or, as it may be translated, “shall gather thee “ up.”. “ Then shalt thou call, and the Lord “ shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say,
Here I am.---And if thou draw out thy • soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted “ soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, " and thy darkness be as the noon-day: and “ the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat
thy bones : and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose “ waters fail not. If thou turn away from
doing thy pleasure on the Sabbath, on my
holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, “ the holy of the Lord, honourable; and 6 shalt honour him, not doing thine own
ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will
cause thee to ride upon the high places “ of the earth, and will feed thee, &c. The “ mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Further, “ Pure and undefiled religion before 66 God and the Father is this; to visit the fa" therless and widows in their affliction, and “ to keep himself unspotted from the world. Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,” &c. Now how different the moral and theological code of the heathens was from the above, we may gather from the following just picture of it, drawn by Mr. Locke, in his Reasonableness of Christianity: “A clear “ knowledge of their duty was wanting to 6 the heathens : this part of knowledge, " though cultivated with care by some of the “ Pagan philosophers, yet got little footing amongst the people, for
the people, for very few went to
“ their schools to be informed what was good
evil in their actions. All mankind, in“ deed, under pain of displeasing the gods,
were to frequent their temples; and every “ one went to their sacrifices : but the priests 66 did not make it their business to teach the “ people virtue. If they were diligent in “ their observations and ceremonies, punc“ tual in their feasts and solemnities, and the “ forms of religion, the priests assured them “ the gods were pleased, and they looked no “ further: lustrations and processions were “ much easier than a clear conscience, and a “ steady course of virtue; and an expiatory “ sacrifice, which they were taught atoned
for the want of these, was much more con“ venient than a strict and holy life. Reli“ gion therefore with them was every where “ distinguished from and preferred to virtue ; " and it was considered as profaneness, and
a dangerous heresy, to affirm and maintain « the contrary.”
Lord Bacon likewise, speaking of unity in religion, observes, that the religion of the heathens consisted rather in rites and ceremonies, than in any settled or constant belief. Indeed, how could it be otherwise,
since the heathens had no knowledge of his laws * ?
The heathen religion was not only devoid of charity, it was even malicious and revengeful: it did not preach, “ Be not over
come of evil, but overcome evil with good,” nor, 66 Love
your enemies ;" on the contrary, Plato makes Socrates affirm, in the Philebus, that it is right to rejoice at such evils as befal them : and, as a still stronger proof of the vindictive spirit of their religion, Dr. Potter, in his Grecian Antiquities, mentions, that “ whenever the Athenian priests implored à
blessing on Athens and her allies, at the same time they always denounced curses
on the whole Macedonian name and na“ tion, on its king in particular, and likewise “ on his kindred." These people had not the remotest conception that the real excellency of the human character consisted in its possessing the heavenly temper of charity towards man, as well as of holiness towards God : for though it would be doing great injustice to many of the ancient philosophers, not to allow that they considered piety as one of the greatest excellencies in man, Py
* Psalm cxlvii.
thagoras and Plato extol it in the highest degree; and Cicero observes of it, “ in meo * judicio pietas est omnium virtutum funda“ mentum ;" yet they certainly had no just idea of charity towards man, as it is explained by St. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthians; or of that commiseration or pity for the distresses of their fellow-creatures, devoid of which there can be but little if any excellency in the human character. This capital virtue was considered by them even as a weakness; and men of the most improved minds formally asserted it in their writings to be so. Cicero observes, “ Mise“ ricordia est ægritudo animi ex alienis rebus “ adversis :" and that he meant by the word
iegritudo” an imperfection and weakness of mind, is proved from another passage, in which he particularly defines its meaning to
Ægritudo est animi adversante ra“ tione contractio.” Seneca, in a still stronger manner, affirms this; observing, that none but base tempers are susceptible of pity, and that it is the vice of a pusillanimous spirit; “ Misericordiam omnes boni vitabunt, est “ enim vitium pusilli animi*.” And what was the consequence of this savage state of mind?
* De Clement. lib. ii.