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wisdom has found no mode of reuniting to himself so many particles of his nature corrupted in the delinquent Debtah, but by the extravagant instrumentality of ascending and descending spheres, of purifying wanderings through so many forms, and of centuries of punishment which, it might be thought, nothing but omnipotent malignity could imagine or decree?

From tales like these, often contradictory, and always wild, little can be learned for the moral or intellectual improvement of man. Superstition may study them and tremble, and they may confirm the religious slavery, by exciting the religious terrors, of the people. But they afford no strength to genuine virtue, no support to human affliction, and no foundation for rational faith. They thicken the glooms of approaching death, while they announce to the expiring sufferer a long continuance of migratory trial, and a distant heaven, to be lost, perhaps, by new crimes, inducing the necessity of new purgations. Of the nature and attributes of God, they inculcate only the most false and mischievous notions; and, with respect to this world and its duties, they afford as little to correct and edify the believer. They are, therefore, useless or pernicious to mankind; and may be considered, as the most monstrous inventions of priestly enthusiasm or fraud, and as the most ludicrous and cumbrous appendages of a superstition, contemptible in the estimate of sober reason, and worthy only of the acceptance of the ignorant, the credulous, and the wildered fanatic.

SECT. III.

Future state of the Koran-Views of the day of judgment --Sublime

and ludicrous circumstances— Final decreeThe passage of the bridge Sirat -The wicked chained to devilsTheir sufferingsParadise-Voluptuously described --Its pearls, rubies, cushions, carpets, rivers of wine, cooling breezes, sensual espousals-Conparison of the future state of Virgil and Mahomet-Mahomet mure gorgeous, but more sensual, in his descriptionsJustice and truth sacrificed to the object of his detailsThe object accomplished in the fanaticism which was inspired.

THE people of Arabia, at the period when Mahomet commenced the labours of his pretended mission, were ignorant and rude. Even in the more polished society of Mecca, little learning and little civilization were to be found; and the surrounding tribes, accustomed to the vagrancy of an unsettled and wandering life, had declined into a deeper and more confirmed barbarity. The wild and romantic scenery of the country, the simple but pleasing incidents of shepherd life, the joys or sufferings of rustic love, or the more striking events of the war of clans, might occasionally inspire the song in hall or bower; but, though the Muse was sometimes heard to cheer the migrations or the poverty of the Arab, almost every other species of literature was unknown; and learning and philosophy were to accompany only the triumphs of Caliphat.

On the great topic of the immortality of the soul, the Arabs were divided into sects, some rejecting, and some modifying, the belief, with equal ignorance and zeal. In the estimate of the few, who affected to soar above the prejudices of the popular faith, the grave was to close the scanty scene of the hopes

and fears of mankind. Others encouraged a less melancholy persuasion; and death, as they imagined though it might suspend, for a period, the active existence of the soul, was finally to be succeeded by renovation and immortality. Then was to commence a Paradise of sense. The pleasures most eagerly solicited in this life were to be renewed, and to flow in a more copious and unbroken stream. The wants and desires, indeed, of those voluptuous passions which had been felt and pampered on earth, were also to be experienced in the regions of joy; but imagination was exhausted in describing the various modes by which they were to be gratified; and human sensuality was so completely indulged in these reveries, that the brute animals who had contributed in one world to the comfort and convenience of man, were assigned to promote the happiness of their masters in another.

To such a people, warm, impassioned, and rude, was Mahomet to address himself. His doctrines were to be accommodated not merely to their uncultivated undersandings, but to their senses and passions, their habits and prejudices, their customs and superstitions, their hopes and fears. What policy required, he had inclination and talents to supply. Without entering into any profound disquisition on the modes of future existence, or on the moral and intellectual constitution of a future state, he skilfully adapted his promises of hereafter to the peculiar temper of the times which he addressed. The believer was taught to anticipate a futurity of sure and stable blessedness. The sceptic was invited to contemplate a more clear and distinct prospect of the world beyond the grave, and, thereby, to cheer his infidelity into a brighter and better conviction.

To all was tendered an immortality of unlimited voluptuousness; and the most sensual of men might have been satisfied with the impure and earthly pleasures which were provided for them in the paradise of the Prophet.

But Mahomet knew too well the influence of fear on the human heart, not to add the terrors of menace to the flattery of promise. He has, therefore, provided a hell for punishment, as he has spread out a paradise for reward. The sinner, deprived of all hope, was taught to contemplate a region where vengeance shall seize upon the criminal, and consign him to an eternity of unmitigated sorrow. The glare of a more hideous Tartarus was seen beyond the grave; and the retribution which was described by the sublime imagination of the Roman poet, was less horrible and frightful, than the woes prefigured for guilt by the ardent fancy of the Arabian Impostor.

These scenes of future justice, to which we shall hereafter more particularly refer, are to be preceded by the awful events of the day of judgment. That day, according to one text of the Koran, shall include a thousand, according to another, fifty thousand years. A mighty smoke, horrible to unbelievers, " shall then fall upon the whole earth; and the “sound of the trumpet shall be heard; and the " beasts shall be gathered together; and the seas “ shall boil; and the mountains, pass away; and " the sun be folded up; and the stars shall fall ; " and the graves be turned upside down; and the "heavens be cloven in sunder and removed *.” While these sublime and terrific occurrences are taking place, the dead shall come forth; and the

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nations shall be hurried on by the angelic might of " the driver and witness,” to receive their final allotment; and the “Summoner," the immortal Israfil, shall call, with irresistible authority, the quick and the dead to the tribunal of judgment; and, finally, the state of the reprobate and of the blessed shall be immutably fixed by the decree of heaven *

As the period of this decree shall approach, the assembled multitude shall be agitated with consternation and dismay; " for the shock of that hour shall be a ter“ rible thing." Every sentiment which had, hitherto, most predominated in the heart, shall be lost in solicitude and expectation. “Men shall be seen seem.

ingly drunk, but they shall not be really drunk; “ and every woman who giveth suck shall forget the “ infant which she suckleth; and every female that “ is with young shall cast her burden t.” The terror, however, shall not be alike for all. If some, smitten by the recollection of their crimes, “ shall “ creep, grovelling with their faces on the ground," and others, whose good deeds have been incomplete, “ shall go on foot;" the pious, it is added, shall indulge in hope, and “ shall find ready prepared for “ them, when they come forth from their sepulchres, “ white winged camels, with saddles of gold,” on which they shall triumphantly ride forward in the presence of the universe , to receive the allotment of celestial favour.

Thus assembled, the nations shall await the hour of judgment; and, in due time, God shall appear upon a throne borne and surrounded by angels of

* Koran, chap. 54. + Koran, chap. 22. Sale, Translation of the Koran, Preliminary Discourse, p. 112.

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