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the rank of bold and manly fortitude. Suicide was eulogized by poets and historians as a mark of great mental strength, and the certain evidence of a heroic mind. One of the wisest lawgivers of which the heathen world could boast, ordained that all infants should be exposed to perish, which were in any respect defective or maimed; or who, from any apparent constitutional weakness, did not hold out the prospect of being serviceable to the state. Thus infanticide was not only tolerated, but expressly enjoined by the institutions of Lycurgus, the Spartan legislator, and rigidly observed by that people for ages. The natural and unavoidable result of such unfeeling institutions, was a most pernicious system of morals. Depravity was the legitimate fruit of such a barbarous system of government. There was, indeed, a few, who inculcated different sentiments, and sometimes pleaded the cause of humanity with much eloquence and pathos: But their example was so pernicious, that their better code of precepts had very little influence upon the manners of their countrymen.And in reading the history of the heathen world, it is extremely difficult to determine what they called vice, unless it was the weakness of cowardice.
The Emperors of Rome were stained with every species of impurity and wickedness; if we but trace them to the retirements of the palace, where "they practiced all manner of uncleanness with greediness."
Their systems of philosophy were in some respects refined, but they were not adapted to the mental degradation of the great mass of the common people, and therefore failed to produce any salutary effect upon their morals. The multitude were left to grope in darkness, because they could not comprehend the refinements of the philosophy of that age, and therefore were abused with the grossest absurdities as a substitute for religion. The mysteries of heathen worship were withheld from the great mass of the people, while the splendid sacrifices which were required for their initiation, were beyond their ability to procure. Hence they were left in ignorance and darkness.
But suppose they were instructed in all the mysteries and in all the wisdom which heathen philosophy could unfold-would it inspire them with the conviction of the
unity of God?-would it excite the confident hope of a future happy existence ?-Heathen philosophy never did produce this effect; and judging from the influence which it has exerted in past ages, we can form no conception that it possesses any power to illuminate the dark and dreary passage of the grave, or brighten the prospect of man beyond the narrow limits of the tomb.
ISAIAH xl. 5.
"The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
In my preceding Lecture, I laid before you a brief, but faithful epitome of heathen idolatry, comprehending the variety and character of the objects to which they paid religious honors; together with the barbarity and cruelty of their sacrificial offerings, the lascivious and brutal conduct of the worshippers, and the universal prevalence and toleration of the most detestable vices-vices which could not but degrade the human mind, and paralize all the noblest energies of reason and virtue, to reform the lives and morals of human society! And when we reflect that all these cruelties and abominations were directly countenanced and encouraged by the civil institutions of heathen countries; yea, more— -when we reflect that these horrid crimes were lauded as the most acceptable offerings of religion, and the certain means of appeasing the wrath and procuring the favor of the object adored; we ask, with confidence, was not the moral condition of human beings such as to need the light of revelation to instruct, improve, and civilize the society of man?
If we were to survey other countries, in later ages, and even down to our own times, we should find little less to excite our pity and astonishment. A great part of the eastern world is still enveloped in the darkness of Mahometan imposture, or groan under the weight of pagan idolatry. The extensive regions of Hindostan, containing about 100,000,000 of inhabitants, are principally involved in this deplorable darkness and ignorance, even to the present hour The worshippers of the ponderous idol of the eastern world, are annually crushed to death beneath his merciless car, as the willing victims of superstition and
the most deplorable ignorance; while the plains of Hindostan are lighted up by the unsparing flames of the funeral pile, and thousands of widows are sacrificed to the most inhuman superstition.
I might notice a fearful catalogue of other cruelties, which are still practiced in heathen countries; but the heart sickens at the horrid picture, and turns with painful sensibility from the scenes of such barbarous superstition, and the eye of pity contributes the tear of regret to the weakness and misery of man, while destitute of revelation's clear and friendly light to illuminate the pathway of his understanding. I shall forbear to mention the human sacrifices which were formerly offered by the aborigines of America, as I have forborne to notice the gross idolatry of other barbarous nations; and briefly consider the character of modern heathenism, under the plausible names of philosophy and science.
These acknowledge no God, but nature, no eternal principal, but matter, and no obligation but such as would contribute to the gratification of passion, or subserve their temporal interest. But of such philosophers, it may well be said, "they worship they know not what :" And doubtless they are not aware that they are offering their homage to inert and inconscious matter; to the sun, the moon and the stars; to rocks and mountains, hills and valleys, rivers and plains, oceans and continents; to animals and plants of every description; and even to the grossest passions that ever rankled in the human heart! For these, it cannot be denied, are parts, and the principal parts of nature with which we are acquainted. If there was, therefore, any inconsistency in the worship of those ancient pagans, of whom we have already spoken, the same inconsistency attaches to the character and views of modern skepticism. No wonder, then, that a promiscuous intercourse should be justified and pleaded, as fancy might suggest or inclination dictate !
Are these thy boasted triumphs, O reason! Are these thy proud trophies of renown, O philosophy! Is this the beastly eminence on which ye would place us? Yes-this is the altar on which we are invited to sacrifice the noble institutions which have emanated from the light of revela