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sidered an impediment and a burden, and is less loved in this than in other nations, then it should be a subject for reflection, whether our morality be less dependent upon religious rule and motive than upon worldly wisdom, and whether it be likely to stand its ground against the increasing assaults which are yearly and hourly making inroads upon it, from the continual growth of our riches, our love of and dependence upon them. And if the examples used should seem to have been drawn from distant places and times, and to bear the appearance of solitary instances, it must be noted that this is the only mode in which a universal habit can be shown; and that it would be tedious to multiply instances in each country; and that one constant and revered practice could hardly exist among a people, without other feelings and practices existing which would be in accordance with it;—and what is more, in most of the examples which will be given, it will be obvious that they are but examples, and exhibitions of the real and well-known characters of the nations alluded to;-and further still, and this is the chief point, it cannot but be confessed, that almost all the ceremonies and practices which will be referred to, would be quite irrelevant and abhorrent to our own habits and dispositions, and tastes, and conveniences.
Roman Catholics, Mahometans, Hindoos, and other idolaters, agree in thinking that the English have not any religion. The first thing they see is, that we have no processions; no outward ceremonies presented to the eye, and arresting it in the midst of worldly objects. We have no festivals set apart for religious purposes ;
no days or hours exempted from business. No: we believe that religion would be desecrated by being brought into sight; not that it would hallow our common occupations. As for festivals, they are excuses for idleness, and are a waste of business hours;- and so we are much more careful not to abstract any the least thing from what is the right and property and the just due, in the service of Mammon, than we are in guarding the claim and property of God, in the Lord's Day. We may have processions of schools, and clubs, and societies, and political associations ;- but no one such thing in the honour of God! That would be quite out of place. As for religious festivals,-it is not mere taste and opinion,- but we should grudge such a tribute and sacrifice to God's honour and service :-it would be throwing good time away.
The Mahometans, of India especially, tell us that we pray only once a week. It is obvious enough to tell them, that we pray every morning and night in private. But where is the sign and the effect of it? They will doubt the universality of even this extent of our profession, when they see no trouble or inconvenience incurred;and who can charge them with injustice! They themselves pray five times a day; and they do it moreover, at the stated times, wherever they may be, in public or in private. The Muezzins call them to their mosques, at the stated hours of prayer, twice in every day of the week; and they obey the call eagerly. I have already observed that the sailors in their fleets prostrate themselves in worship, at the five stated periods of the twenty-four hours. Among the persons received a short time since
at the Sailors' Home in the Thames, were some Lascars. The Lascars made their devotions strictly and punctually morning and evening :—the English sailors were smoking their pipes.
A resident for twelve years among the Mahometans says, “ the people really seem to make religion their study, and the great business of their lives."* "Nothing, however trifling or unimportant, according to their praiseworthy ideas, should ever be commenced without being first dedicated to God.”+ Every meal and cup of water is preceded and succeeded by their grace,
Glory be to God ;” and so devotional are their feelings, that they have not any expression corresponding to “ I thank you,” but for every gift or service they say “ All thanks to God,” acknowledging that every, the smallest thing, comes directly from Him, though received by the hands of mortals. The Mahometans even show greater respect than we do ourselves to the name of “ Jesus.” As the Jews never mention the name of God, without adding “ Blessed be He,” or of Moses, without saying “ Peace be with Him,” or the Messiah, without saying “ May He redeem us;" so the Mahometans never name the name of “ Jesus,” even in speech, without stopping and adding to it, with upraised hands and an inclination of the head, “ On Him be peace.”
* Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali, p. 155.
t Ibid. 157. The similar practices of the early Christians may be seen in Fleury, Moeurs des Chrétiens, pt. 1, s. 5.
| Ib. 256. When the distressed inhabitants of Acre first received their rations from the Turks after its capture by the English, they fell on their faces and gave thanks to God; as reported in the Morning Herald, December 18, 1840.
The watchmen in the camp of the caravans, says Tavernier, go their rounds, crying one after another, " God is
” “ He is merciful.”* Their fasts also are most self-denying, and of the most rigorous kind, extending especially, even among the women, to the total laying aside of all comforts and ornaments, to both which they are at other times most strongly addicted.t
When a motion was made in the House of Commons for a public fast, on account of the cholera, it was met with coldness; and it was only upon after reflection that the ministers acceded to the proposal. When a public calamity takes place in China, the emperor himself sets the first example, and mortifies and fasts, and exercises acts of clemency, as considering that the scourge may be on account of his own sins and maladministration ;# and if this be not actually done, but be only an official report, yet it has the effect of turning the minds of the people to serious reflections, and sets them an example of religious reverence, the most weighty and influential, such as is always in the hands of every government and crowned head, if they should choose to exercise it.
The Queen's speech of the session 1841 contained no single expression of thanks to Almighty God for the very signal successes of our forces in all parts of the world, which it noticed with a tribute of praise to our forces for their skill and bravery. Public thanks have been rendered to our commanders and troops, but not
* Voyage de Perse, liv. i. c. 10.
any to the God of Battles, for two of the greatest and most critical successes of our arms contemporaneously during the last year.
There is a custom in the Greek Church, and it used to be common in all parts of Christendom, for persons meeting on Easter day, to say to each other, “ Christ is risen.” The answer was,
“ He is risen indeed.” And then even enemies were in the instant reconciled to one another. * Similar religious customs formerly existed in numbers, and are still to be met with in some places.t They all take their departure first from England.
Bremer speaks with pleasure of witnessing the singing of the Soldier's Evening Hymn, by 12,000 men, after a review, in Sweden. This beautiful custom of joining together in praise of Almighty God, at the fall of night, is said to be universal among the troops in Sweden and Norway.
It is a ready and plausible defence, to call all such practices superstitious; and we could not find place here for a comparison between superstitious and vulgar religion, and civilized, sensible indifference and rational
* Prasca Loupouloff, p. 44. The boys in the Blue-coat School, when they walk in procession to the Mansion House, on Easter Monday, have a printed paper, “ He is risen," on their breasts. The origin of this custom is, that Edward Arris, surgeon, in the year 1669, left £6 per annum for ever to the Hospital, on on, that each boy, at Easter, should have a pair of white gloves, and wear a paper bearing the inscription, “ He is risen,” somewhere upon
person, so as to be distinctly visible; and this to be done on Easter Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, on which three days formerly they used to go in procession, and three spital sermons were preached. Many years since the Wednesday was cut off from the ceremony.
+ See Bourne's Antiquities of the Common People.