Imatges de pÓgina

divinity as a novel doctrine. “ The psalms and songs of the brethren, says Eusebius', which were written by the faithful, from the beginning, fet “ forth the praises of Christ as the Word of God, ascribing divinity to him.” From the whole it may be concluded, that this ordinance of singing of psalms, as it was used by Christ and his apostles, so it was continued in the ages next to them; and though it has been dragged through the sinks of Popery, yet it ought not to be rejected on that account: Had our reformers treated the ordinances of Christ in such a manner, because they found them corrupted, we should have had no ordinance now in being : Let us rather do all we can to clear this of every degree of superstition, and restore it to its native fimplicity and spirituality.

Ψαλμου οσοι και ωδαι αδελφων απαρχης (cribendum eft απ’ αρχης) υπι σιρων γραφεισι, Tov aeyou Te !8 Tov Xposer vun evig Stoneyevlogo. Ibid. I. 5. c. 28. p. 196.


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Funeral SERMONS, ORATIONS, and ODES. Occasioned by Two FUNERAL DISCOURSES, lately published on

the Death of Dame MARY PAGE, Relict of Sir GREGORY PAGE, Bart. The one by Mr HARRISON, with an Oration at her Interment; and an Ode sacred to her Memory. The other by Mr RICHARDSON. With some Observations on each of them.

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HAVE for some time been of opinion, that the custom of preaching

Funeral Sermons, and making Orations at the interment of the dead, took its rise from some such practice first in use among the heathens : Two discourses of this kind having been lately published on the death of the Lady Page, both attended with some odd circumstances, which I am fenable you are no stranger to, they have occasioned some fresh thoughts on this subject, the result of which I now send you, together with some few observations on the said discourses, all which I humbly submit to your impartial judgment.

The Egyptians, the posterity of Ham, were the first cultivators of idolatrous worship, and superstition, after the food; they were the first that gave nanies to deities ‘, built temples, erected altars, and set up images for divine adoration. They were the first who asserted the imortality of the soul", its transmigration into all kinds of animals in earth, air, and sea, and its return to the human body; which they supposed to be within the term of three thousand years : Hence proceeded their very great care in embalming of their dead bodies, and their being at such vast expences, as they were, in building proper repositories for them; for they were more solicitous about their graves than their houses: This gave birth to those wonders of the world, the pyramids, which were built for the burial of their kings, with such vast charges, and almost incredible magnificence, the fame whereof has since spread itself all the world over. It cannot therefore be foreign to my present design, to en-, quire after what manner these people performed their funeral obsequies, which, I find, was as follows :

migration • Herodot, l. 2. c. 4. & 38. Lactant. de Orig. Error. 1. 2. C. 14.

► Herodot, 1. 3. C. 193.

“ When the corps was to be buried, the nearest a-kin gave notice of the “ day for the funeral to the judges, the relations, and the friends of the de“ ceased; and particularly gave out, that he, naming the name of the de6 ceafed, would then pass the lake. The day being come, more than forty “ of the judges feated themselves in the form of a semi-circle by the side of « the lake, where the boat, which is managed by a pilot, whom the Egyptians “ in their language call Charon, being first prepared for use, is drawn up in " readiness. The vessel being let into the lake, before the deceased's coffin is “ put into it, every one has a liberty to bring in an accusation against him. If “ any one can prove he has lived a bad life, the judges pronounce the fen“ tence, and the corps is forbid the usual sepulture ; but if it appears, that “ the accuser is guilty of calumny, he is liable to the feverest punishment. “ When either there is no accuser, or a false one, the relations lay aside their

mourning, and praise the deceased. They make no mention of his descent, w as the Grecians do, because they reckon that all in Egypt are equally noble

but then they rehearse his education and learning in childhood, and his “ piety, justice, continency, and other virtues in his adult age ; beseeching “ the gods below to receive him into the society of the pious : while the mula “ titude, in the mean time, applaud and proclaim the praises of the deceased,

as one that is to spend an eternity with the godly in Hades.'

In this account it is easy to observe the first rudiments of funeral orations, and what was the subject of them, which were afterwards formed into a more polite and regular manner by other nations, who received this custom from the Egyptians. Nor can I omit remarking, that those funeral folemnities were attended, not only with orations in praise of the deceased, but with prayers


& Diodor. Sicul. I, J, C. 5.

for him; which prayers, it seems, were made by one who personated the deceased: an entire form of one of them is preserved by Porphyry', and perhaps it may in some measure, gratify your curiosity to recite it from him.

« When, “ says he, they, taht is, the Egyptians, embalm their deceased nobles, they pri“ vately take out the entrails, and lay them up in an ark or chest : more“ over among other things which they do in favour of the deceased, lifting

up the ark or chest to the sun, they invoke him ; one of the Libitinarii “ making a prayer for the deceased, which Euphantus has translated out of “ the Egyptian language, and is as follows: O lord, the sun, and all the “ gods who give life to men, receive me, and admit me into the society of “ the immortal ones, for as long as I lived in this word, I religiously wor

shipped the gods whom my parents shewed me, and have always honoured “ those who begat my body: nor have I kihed any man, nor have I de“ frauded any of what has been committed to my trust, nor have I done any “ thing which is inexpiable. Indeed, whilft I was alive, if I have finned “ either by eating or drinking any thing which was not lawful; not through “ myself have I sinned, but through these, shewing the ark and chest where " the entrails were. And having thus spoke, he casts it into the river, but “ the rest of the body he embalms as pure.” I cannot but couclude, that fuch like practices as these among the heathens, have given rise to praying for departed saints among the Papists.

But to go on : The Grecians received the seeds of superstition and idolatrous worship' from the Egyptians, through the coming of Cecrops, Cadmus, Danaus, and Erechtheus, into Greece. The first of these was the first king of Athens, from whose coming thither, the Attic Æra begins; where he first 8 introduced the worship of Jupiter and Minerva, setting up an altar for the one, and the image of the other; and among the rest of the Egyptian customs and laws which he brought along with him into Greece, the burial of the dead bodies in the earth was one. Of this Cicero particularly informs us in the following words : “ They report, says he, that from the times of Cecrops, it “ remained a custom at Aibens to that day, to bury the bodies of their dead «' in the earth":" which some say were laid with the head towards the East, and others towards the Weffk. But what Cicero says, as to their manner of interment, is this: “That the relations, or neighbours of the deceased, laid “ the body in the ground, and having cast the earth over the corps, sowed “ the ground with all manner of grain or fruit; that so the earth might be " as the bosom or lap of a mother to the deceased; and yet, being expi“ated by these fruits, might be restored, or rendered useful, to the living. “ After the interment, as he further tells us, followed the epulæ, or feasts, at “ which the company used to appear crowned ; when they spoke in praise “ of the dead, so far as they could go with truth, it being esteemed a no“ torious wickedness to lie upon such an occasion k.” A rule that very well deserves to be observed in making panegyrics or encomiums on the dead in Funeral Sermons and Orations; in many of which, I fear, the bounds of truth are too often exceeded. And not only at those feasts, but even before the company departed from the fepulchre, they were sometimes entertained with a panegyric upon the dead person.

interment, d De Abftinentia, 1. 4. fe&. 10.

• These were a sort of men who provided every thing needful for burials, so called from the goddess Libitina, in whose temple all such things were exposed to sale. Vid. Kennet's Antiq. par. 2. b. 5. c. 10. p• 340.

{ Herodot, 1. 2. C. 4. & 58. & Eufeb. de præpar. Evangel. 1. 10. c.9. Delegibus, l. 2. prope finem. Diogen. Laert. in vita Solon, k Ælian. var. Hift. l. 5. c. 14. &7.19.

The Grecian soldiers, who died in war, had not only their tombs adorned with infcriptions Newing their names, parentage, and exploits, but were also honoured with an oration in their praise. Particularly the custom among the Albenians in the interment of their foldiers was as follows ", namely, “ They “ used to place the bodies of their dead in tents three days before the funeral, “ that all persons might have opportunity to find out their relations, and pay “ their last respects to them. Upon the fourth day, a coffin of cypress was ". sent from every tribe, to convey the bones. of their own relations; after “ which went a covered hearse, in memory of those whose bodies could not be “ found. All these, accompanied with the whole body of the people, were · “ carried to the public burying place, called Ceramicus, and there interred.. "One oration was spoken in commendation of them all, and their monuments “ adorned with pillars, inscriptions, and all other ornaments usual about the “ tombs of the most honourable persons. The oration was pronounced by “ the fathers of the deceased persons, who had behaved themselves most va

Thus after the famous battle at Marathon, the fathers of Callimachus “ and Cynægyrus, were appointed to make the funeral oration". And upon : “ the return of the day, upon which the solemnity was first held, the fame “ oration was constantly repeated every year."

From the Egyptians and Grecians, especially from the latter, the Romans received many of their laws and customs, as well as much of their polycheism VOL. III.

and * Cicero, ibid. '? Potter's Archäolog. Græc. vol. 2, book 4. chap. 8 m Ibid. b. 3. c. 11. p. 103, 105•

· Polemo in Argumento TNI srlapir oyoyo. • Cicero de Oratore,

« liantly.

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