Imatges de pÓgina

But what is this being who is thus invoked at first? Is it the sun? Is it the moon? I do not think so. Let us examine what passes in the minds of childre ; they are nearly like those of uninformed men. They are struck, neither by the beauty nor by the utility of the luminary which animates, nature, nor by the assistance lent us by the moon, nor by the regular variations of her course; they think not of these things; they are too much accustomed to them. We adore, we invoke, we seek to appease, only that which we fear. All children look upon the sky with indifference; but when the thunder growls, they tremble and run to hide themselves. The first men undoubtedly did likewise. It could only be a sect of philosophers who first observed the courses of the planets, made them admired, and caused them to be adored; mere tillers of the ground, without any information, did not know enough of them to embrace so noble an error.

A village then would confine itself to saying,There is a power which thunders and hails upon us, which makes our children die ; let us appease it. But how shall we appease it? We see, that by small presents we have calmed the anger of irritated men; let us then make small presents to this power. It must also receive a name. The first that presents itself is that of chief, master,' 'lord.' This power then is styled 'my Lord. For this reason perhaps it was, that the first Egyptians called their god · Knef;' the Syrians, ‘Adonai;' the neighbouring nations, “Baal,' or · Bel,' or "Melch,' or 'Moloch;' the Scythians, Papæus ;' all these names signifying · lord,' master.'

Thus was nearly all America found to be divided into a multitude of petty tribes, each having its protecting god. The Mexicans too, and the Peruvians, forming great nations, had only one god-the one adoring Manco Capak, the other the god of war. The Mexicans called their warlike divinity · Visiliputsli,' as the Hebrews had called their Lord · Sabaoth,

It was not from a superior and cultivated reason that every people thus began with acknowledging one only Divinity; had they been philosophers, they would have adored the God of all nature, and not the god of

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a village; they would have examined those infinite relations between all things which prove a Being creating and preserving; but they examined nothing—they felt. Such is the progress of our feeble understanding. Each village would feel its weakness and its need of a protector; it would imagine that tutelary and terrible being residing in the neighbouring forest, or on a mountain, or in a cloud. It would imagine only one, because the clan had but one chief in war; it would imagine that one corporeal, because it was impossible to represent it otherwise. It could not believe that the neighbouring tribe had not also its god. Therefore it was, that Jeptha said to the inhabitants of Moab,“ You possess lawfully what your god Chemoth has made you conquer; you should, then, let us enjoy what our god has given us by his victories.”

This language, used by one stranger to other strangers, is very remarkable. The Jews and the Moabites had dispossessed the natives of the country; neither had any right but that of force; and the one says to the other, Your god has protected you in your usurpation; suffer our god to protect us in ours.

Jeremiah and Amos both ask what right the god Melchem had to seize the country of Gad? From these passages it is evident that the ancients attributed to each country a protecting god. We find other traces of this theology in Homer.

It is very natural, that, men's imaginations being heated, and their minds having acquired some confused knowledge, they should soon multiply their gods, and speedily assign protectors to the elements, the seas, the forests, the fountains, and the fields. The more they observed the stars, the more they would be struck with admiration. How indeed should they have adored the divinity of a brook, and not have adored the sun? The first step being taken, the earth would soon be covered with gods, and from the stars men would at last come down to cats and onions.

Reason however will advance towards perfection: time at length found philosophers who saw that neither onions, nor cats, nor even the stars, had arranged the order of nature. All those philosophers--Babylonians,

Persians, Egyptians, Scythians, Greeks, and Romansadmitted a supreme, rewarding, and avenging God.

They did not at first tell it to the people; for whosoever should have spoken ill of onions and cats before priests and old women, would have been stoned; whosoever should have reproached certain of the Egyptians with eating their gods, would himself have been eaten,-as Juvenal relates that an Egyptian was in reality killed and eaten quite raw, in a controversial dispute.

What then did they do? Orpheus and others established mysteries, which the initiated swore by oaths of execration not to reveal,--of which mysteries the principal was the adoration of a supreme God. This great truth made its way through half the world, and the number of the initiated became immense. It is true, that the ancient religion still subsisted; but as it was not contrary to the dogma of the unity of God, it was allowed to subsist. And why should it have been abolished ? The Romans acknowledged the 6. Deus optimus maximus,” and the Greeks had their Zeus—their supreme God. All the other divinities were only intermediate beings; heroes and emperors were ranked with the Gods-i. e. with the blessed; but it is certain that Claudius, Octavius, Tiberius, and Caligula, were not regarded as the creators of heaven and earth.

In short, it seems proved that, in the time of Augustus, all who had a religion, acknowledged a superior, eternal God, with several orders of secondary gods, whose worship was called idolatry.

The laws of the Jews never favoured idolatry; for, although they admitted the Malachim, angels and celestial beings of an inferior order, their law did not ordain that they should worship these secondary divinities. They adored the angels, it is true; that is, they prostrated themselves when they saw them; but as this did not often happen, there was no ceremonial nor legal worship established for them. The cherubim of the ark received no homage. It is beyond a doubt, that the Jews, from Alexander's time at least, openly adored


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one only God, as the innumerable multitude of the
initiated secretly adored him in their mysteries.

It was at the time when the worship of a Supreme
God was universally established among all the wise in
Asia, in Europe, and in Africa, that the christian reli-
gion took its birth.

Platonism assisted materially the understanding of its dogmas. The ‘Logos,' which with Plato meant the

wisdom,' the reason of the Supreme Being, became with us the word,' and a second person of God. Profound metaphysics, above human intelligence, were an inaccessible sanctuary in which religion was enveloped.

It is not necessary here to repeat how Mary was afterwards declared to be the mother of God; how the consubstantiality of the father and the word was established; as also the proceeding of the ‘pneuma,' the divine organ of the divine Logos; as also the two natures and two wills resulting from the hypostasis; and Jastly, the superior manducation---the soul nourished as well as the body, with the flesh and blood of the God-man, adored and eaten in the form of bread, present to the eyes, sensible to the taste, and yet annihilated. All mysteries have been sublime.

In the second century, devils began to be cast out in the name of Jesus; before, they were cast out in the name of Jehovah or Ihaho; for St. Matthew relates, that the enemies of Jesus having said that he cast out devils in the name of the prince of devils, he answered, “ If I cast out devils by Belzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out ?".

It is not known at what time the Jews. recognised Belzebub, who was a strange god, as the prince of devils; but it is known, for Josephus tells us, that there were at Jerusalem exorcists appointed to cast out devils from the bodies of the possessed; that is, of such as were attacked by singular maladies, which were then in a great part of the world attributed to malific genii.

These demons were then cast out by the true pronunciation of Jehovah, which is now lost, and by other ceremonies now forgotten?

This exorcism by Jehovah or by the other names of God, was still in use in the first ages of the church. Origen, disputing against Celsus, says to him—“ If, when invoking God, or swearing by him, you call him • the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, you will by those words do things, the nature and force of which are such, that the evil spirits submit to those who pronounce them; but if


call him by another name, as • God of the roaring sea, &c.,' no effect will be produced. The name of Israel' rendered in Greek will work nothing; but pronounce it in Hebrew with the other words required, and you will effect the conjuration."

The same Origen has these remarkable words: “ There are names which are powerful from their own nature. Such are those used by the sages of Egypt, the magi of Persia, and the brahmins of India. What is called magic,' is not a vain and chimerical art, as the stoics and epicureans pretend. The names Sabaoth' and “Adonai' were not made for created beings, but belong to a mysterious theology which has reference to the Creator; hence the virtue of these names when they are arranged and pronounced according to rule," &c.

Origen, when speaking thus, is not giving his private opinion; he is but repeating the universal opinion.

All the religions then known admitted a sort of magic, which was distinguished into celestial magic and infernal magic, necromancy and theurgy--all was prodigy, divination, oracle. The Persians did not deny the miracles of the Egyptians, nor the Egyptians those of the Persians. God permitted the primitive christians to be persuaded of the truth of the oracles attributed to the Sibyls, and left them a few other unim-. portant errors, which were no essential detriment to their religion. Another very remarkable thing is, that the christians of the primitive ages held temples, altars, and images in abhorrence. Origen acknowleges this,

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