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wonder that, while the retribution with which the Roman was threatened in a future state, was so often regarded but as a puerile and contemptible tale, to be credited scarcely by the most ignorant of mankind; the retribution of the Koran should have contributed so effectually to subdue the minds of the Moslem to the purposes of imposture, and have armed the hand of Mahomet with an instrument of holy and irresistible terror.
I. In commenting on the future state which has been thus described, it may be first observed that the Prophet never permits a sentiment of a spiritual character, to blend with and refine the delights of his gorgeous paradise. Some, indeed, have laboured to prove that the happiness of his heaven was not wholly to consist in the impure indulgence of corporeal appetites; and the verse in which he informs his followers that “they shall have hereafter what
ever they desire, and there shall be abundance of “ bliss with them *,” is fondly quoted in justification of this opinion t. But we know not on what grounds such an inference is deduced from this solitary passage. Judging by the voluptuousness which breathes in the paradisaical fables of the “ Apostle of God,” we should rather conclude that by this “ superabundant bliss,” nothing more was meant than the highest degree of sensual indulgence; and the learned Sale, whose Mahomedan prejudices are neither few nor slight, is compelled, after some struggle, to acknowledge the striking contrast exhibited by the grossness of the Koran to the sublime purity of the gospel 5.
11. It may be remarked, in the second place,
* Koran, chap. I. + Sale, Prelim. Dissertat. v. i. p. 133.
Sale, Prelim. Dissertat. vol. i. p. 133.
that the future state disclosed by the Koran has been evidently framed to subserve not so much the interests of virtue as the purposes of imposture. The calm and moral graces of domestic life, the patience and fortitude of resignation, the retiring humility, the love of peace, the meekness and soberness of the unworldly spirit, were to be less encouraged to anticipate the felicities of hereafter, than the proselyting fanaticism of the Mussulman who was to stain his sword with the blood of the infidel, and to plant the standard of the prophet amid the desolation of cities and of realms which his sanguinary fury had overthrown. In this manner the paradise of fancy was become that of ambition and of imposture. The gay and florid phantom was first to lure disciples to the prophet, and then to stimulate them to bear his standard over the world, and to conquer or die in the destruction of his enemies, and the diffusion of his religion. —" Say not, 0 true believers, that those who are “ slain in fight for the religion of God, are dead.
Yea, they are living. And when ye encounter the “ unbelievers, strike off their heads, till
have “ made a great slaughter of them. God commandeth
ye to fight his battles; and as to those who fight in “ defence of God's true religion, God shall not “ suffer their works to perish, and he will lead them " into Paradise of which he told them.”
When the “last and best of the Prophets” contrasted the green valleys, the fascinating nymphs, and the sensual enjoyments of his smiling Elysium, with the glooms, the woes, and the horrors of his hell, he proceeded on the same principle of worldly
and political sagacity. If, in the regions of punishment, he exbibit every object which was best calculated to excite dismay, he dealt out the tortures of his imaginary retribution more especially to crimes which militated against his views. The flight of the Mussulman in the day of battle, the desertion of the crescent by the timid or reluctant proselyte, the disinclination to shed blood in the holy cause, the pertinacity which refused to renounce its first faith for a new creed, the hesitation which lingered to cast itself at the feet of the prophet; such were the sins which were most likely to obstruct the
progress of the Koran, and the views of its author, and which were, accordingly, doomed, with unqualified and peculiar reprobation, to the dwellings of woe. The murderer and the robber were, indeed, to suffer ; but not the murderer and robber who wielded the sword of extermination, and extended the havoc of spoil under the banners of the Koran; and, while all the enormities of a barbarous and sanguinary fanaticism were to be followed by eternal recompence, they who rejected the celestial mission of the prophet, or refused to go forth in war for the accomplishment of his purpose, were to be associated in hell with the lowest of the damned, and to taste, in the bitterest sense, “ the pain of burning.”
Thus did the mighty master of the Koran accelerate the progress of that frightful crusade against mankind, the Jew, the Christian, and the Gentile alike, in the advancement of which so many nations were overwhelmed, and the blood of Unbelievers was so prodigally and barbarously shed. The Impostor himself saw his dream of ambition fully realized. The zeal, the devotion, and the fanaticism of his followers were proportioned to the promises
with which they were tempted, or the menaces by which they were alarmed; and he beheld the plant of which he had sown the seed, and whose growth he had watched and nourished with so much care, rapidly springing to maturity, and beginning to extend the darkness of its shade, and to tender the bitterness of its fruits, to various nations of the earth.
The Mahomedan Doctors, under the Caliphat, laboured to confirm the tendency which their aspiring master communicated to his religion. The sword, in their language, as in that of the Prophet, is “ the key of heaven;" and a single drop of blood shed in what they called the service of God, is as incense of priceless value. We know the result of this doctrine. The spell produced its effects. Fanaticism and ferocity soon marked with the traces of blood and of subjugation almost a third part of the globe; and the spirit kindled by the arts of the Prophet, for the accomplishment of his own purposes, descended, in all its religious and martial energy, to his successors, and confirmed their despotism in the finest regions of the East and of the West.
Temporal sanctions of the Jewish law- The doctrine of a future state
but slightly intimated in the Old Testament - Christ came to proclaim it to all people—The untarying justice of the future allotments announced by the gospel - General annunciation-No minute details afforded of the beatitude or the misery of a life to come — The view opened, admirably calculated to ercite the hopes and fears of men — The sinner-The tribunal before which he is to be judged
-Circumstances of his trial— Equity of his allotment—The upright - Magnificent, though general, declaration of the felicity which awaits them-Less ambiguous lights afforded on this subject — Hearen a scene of repose-Of celestial association-Of progressire improvement--of advancing wisdom and knowledgeHere we dwell in shadows-In hearen this imperfection donc away-Faith to terminate in vision — The upright to know as they are known — To be invested with that liberty which is as the spirit of life—To become like the angels of heaten—To see God face to face--The privileges, the glory, and the felicity included in these promises Recapitulation - Conclusion.
AT the promulgation of the Gospel, few intimations of a future state were to be derived from the old, to illuminate the pages of the new, covenant. The law of Moses, in many respects, was of a local, a partial, and a transitory nature. The people of Israel re quired a code of a peculiar character. Prone as they were to swerve from the religion of their fathers, and to embrace the idolatry of the surrounding countries, they were to be separated, as far as possible, from the contagion of other nations, and to be restrained and governed by a system, referring, in its institutions, to their predominant propensities, and to their high origin as a chosen race. Hence their forms and ceremonies, their feasts and fasts, their sacrifices and atonements; and hence those laws which, in