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The rules prescribed for this formal devotion are laid down with the most cautious and punctilious accuracy, and the strictness of the detail proves how much importance was attached by Mahomet to the external sign. Was there to be a devotional procession? The votary was to pace round the caaba, in a certain step, with certain pauses, and in a certain number of times. Was the prayer to be recited? The worshipper was to turn his face towards Mecca*, to bend his knees with prescribed exactness, to modulate his voice to a particular key †, and to repeat his supplications with formal regularity. These devotions were to be multiplied with holy accuracy, and to be offered with more certain acceptance, at allotted periods, and, if tendered at night, they were to be counted as works of supererogation; or, if preferred at the break of day, to be witnessed and recorded by the fidelity of inspecting angels. The believer was often to prepare himself for offices of this kind, by a series of exact and minute ablutions, and to lave his head, his face, his hands, his elbows,
*This injunction is of such importance that "the direction of Mecca is carefully pointed out in every mosque, by a niche which is called Al Mehrâb, and without the mosque, by the situation of the doors opening into the galleries and the steeples. There are express tables of calculation in places where there are no other rules to guide the believer in this essential point." Hyde. de Relig. Vet. Pers. pp. 8, 9, 126, &c.
"Pronounce thy prayers aloud, neither pronounce them in too low a voice, but follow the middle way." Kor. ch. xviii. P. 3.
"Regularly prefer thy prayers at the decline of the sun, at the first darkness of the night, and at break of day, for the prayer at day-break is born witness to by angels; and watch, in some part of the night in the same exercise, as a work of supererogation." Kor. ch. xvii. vol. ii. pp. 106, 107; ch. xx. vol. ii. p. 151; ch. xxx. p. 256.
his ankles, his feet, and, sometimes, if conscious of pollution, his whole body*, before he presumed to aproach the altar, and pour forth his aspirations. However pure might be the temper and the effusions of the heart, they did not, in any wise, supersede the necessity of observances like these; and piety itself was scarcely to bring down the favour of heaven, if it were not aided in its supplications by the auxiliary merits of ritual forms, framed by the fraud and policy of imposture, to accommodate the prejudices and conciliate the zeal of popular superstition.
The conclusion to be inferred from the whole of this discussion, is very obvious. An efficacy and importance are attributed by the Koran to the mode of worship, which should be ascribed only to the motive; the worshipper, who is instructed, at one moment, to contemplate in the object of his reverence the mingled qualities of mercy to the faithful and of cruelty to the infidel, is to be attached, at another, by the fundamental injunctions of his religion, to distinctions and modes with which truth and reason have little concern; and the intercourse of man with his Creator, which ought to be an intercourse only of regenerated affections and a pure heart, is to be enfeebled and modified by a ceremonial formality, in its observance burdensome and superstitious, and in its effects useless or injurious to the moral and religious capacity of human nature.
* Kor. ch. iv. p. 138. Sale's Prel. Dissert. § 4. pp. 138, 9, 149.
The whole duty of man included in that which he owes to God, and to his fellow creature-The duty to God beautifully enforced by the Gospel-The foundation of worship laid in the heart of the worshipper-For oblations, and sacrifices, and ceremonies, and forms, to be substituted the love of God, and the devotion which it inspires -The motives on which the love of God is founded-Objections answered-Sorrow and suffering especially invited to the altar— The duty a privilege, the privilege a blessing-Admirable directions for prayer-All acts of devotion to be preceded by the charities of forgiveness, and accompanied by brotherly love—The blessings for which we are permitted to supplicate God-The piety of the Christian inseparably connected with his moral duties-The deficiencies, in this respect, of all other religions, abundantly supplied by the wisdom of the Gospel.
THE whole duty of man is that which he owes to God, to his fellow creature, and to himself; and to instruct him in the nature of these several obligations, has been the real or pretended object of all religions.
With what wisdom the duty due to God has been inculcated or explained by the Greek, the Roman, the Hindu, and the Mahometan religions, has been already stated; and we are now to enter upon another investigation, and to inquire whether we may find in the Gospel those doctrines of pure and spiritual devotion, which we have been able to discover in no other creed.
The highest inducements of mere utility and wisdom, are not always sufficiently forcible to govern the dispositions of men. The truths by which reason might be convinced, will often be counteracted by
the persuasions of prejudice and of passion; and the precept which, in the calm hour of recollection and retreat, may be acknowledged as incontrovertible, may yet, amid the troubles and discords of worldly interests, lose its efficacy and its power. The will, therefore, as far as possible, should be prepared for the reception of truth, and reason sustained by the co-operation of the heart. The Gospel of Christ has, accordingly, enforced the first and greatest of duties, by an appeal, not merely to the understanding, but to the affections of men. At a period when every nation of the earth, save that of the Jews, was darkened by the glooms of a pernicious superstition, the command was uttered which was to lay the foundations of worship in the bosom of the worshipper, and, for the terror, the selfishness, or the profligacy, which had so unhappily characterized and so deeply polluted the piety of men, to substitute that pure and perfect love which was to devote the whole soul to the service of God. No longer were to be required the oblations due to a hard and capricious master, or to a cruel and sanguinary despot; and no longer was celestial favour to be conciliated by abject prayer, by useless ceremonies, or by wanton processions. All those generous inducements and motives were, on the contrary, supplied, by which devotion is at once ennobled and purified; and, if the affectionate and grateful reverence was required, the gratitude and the affection were excited by the most interesting and most inspiring views of the goodness, the mercy, and the paternity of the Almighty.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy "heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength.' "This is the first and great commandment."-The
lofty precept which is here taught, is not merely a cold and authoritative injunction, but a doctrine enforced by appropriate motives. The Creator, the Sovereign, the Friend, the Father, the Redeemer, the Guide, the Sanctifier of man; in his nature perfect; in his operations benevolent and wise; in his designs preparing for his people the white robes and sceptres of the just, and all the unspeakable and immortal blessings of heaven; such is the great but gracious Being to whom men are invited to turn in confidence and love. In this view there is every thing to awaken the highest and the best affections of our nature, and to purify them also. The majesty and the solemnity of the representation might justly excite humility and awe, but the paternal and boundless beneficence which it unfolds, and the unmerited and unlimited mercies which it includes, elevate the humility and awe into glowing and affectionate veneration. A noble persuasion of the relationship of God to man, and of man to God, is impressed upon the heart. We become connected in our hopes with the best and most glorious of all objects. Our nature is elevated by the conceptions which we thus acquire, and by the emotions which are thus created and exercised; and, while virtue itself is dignified and sustained, piety is kindled into affection, by doctrines so lovely and inspiring in the objects which they present, and so forcible and animating in the motives which they supply.
It has been pretended, that a Being, like God, infinite, invisible, and unknown, cannot reasonably be he object of sentiments of this nature. "He dwells "in the secret place of the thunder. His paths are "in the great waters. He erects his pavilion in "clouds and darkness. We go forward, but he is