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rized them to indulge, and which affords them a foretaste on earth of the happiness of heaven.

The redemption of the Gospel, then, we may now, perhaps, be permitted to conclude, is not wholly a mystery, incomprehensible to the affections and the understandings of men. As it refers to God, it harmonizes his justice with his mercy, and affords an intelligible and beautiful comment on the most awful, alike, and the most gracious of his attributes. With respect to Christ, it afforded him occasion to exemplify and confirm his precepts by a life of trial, and a death of ignominy and sorrow. In its reference to mankind, it supplies the saving efficacy which was to be found neither in the imperfection of their repentance, nor in the vanity of their oblations. If, in its cause and consequences, it be not wholly revealed to the ignorance of human, or perhaps, to the wisdom of angelic, beings, it discloses to us the remedy of transgression ; the graciousness of the new covenant; the love which has redeemed, and justified, and accepted, the sinner ; the full and perfect accomplishment of the types and figures of preceding ages; and the satisfaction which, accepted by the equity of God, has ransomed the sins of the whole world. In this sublime manifestation, an . appeal is made, not merely to the reason, but to the senses, of man. We are addressed by facts, by visible objects, by the procession to Calvary, by the wonders of the cross. All that is awful is united for our edification with all that is beneficent and good. The heart of the sinner is warned of the danger of sin, and the necessity of reformation ; a new solemnity is lent to pardon, a new force to precept, a new strength to motive, a new and more binding efficacy to obligation; and sure and adequate grounds, sup

plying the deficiency of all other religions, are afforded for hope, to confirm the righteous; for fear, to restrain the guilty ; for confidence, to support the afflicted; for faith, to enlighten and strengthen the ignorant and weak ; and for that holy and sublime conviction, which, illuminating and evangelizing the spirit and the heart, recognises, in God, the parent, and, in Christ, the friend and the redeemer, not of a party or of a sect, of Christian or of Jew, but of the human race throughout all generations, from the birth to the end of time. Such is the atonement of the Gospel, in its nature, its object, and its effects. Sacrifices, penances, pilgrimages, and lustrations, the hopeless expiations of guilt, have passed away. Types and shadows are no more. The promises of early days are realized. And the trust of man, so long resting on the vain satisfaction of his own oblations, is directed to an offering which human wisdom was equally inadequate to suggest or to provide, and which is coextensive, in its efficacy, with the disorders to be remedied, and the sins to be redeemed.

CHAPTER XII.

THE FOUNDERS AND TEACHERS OF RELIGION.

SECT. I.

The founders and teachers of the religion of Greece-Bards and

priests_Their doctrines confirmed by subsequent legislatorsThe mode of teaching inadequate-Precept unaided by example Religion unsanctioned by due authority Both equally unsustained by the character and conduct of their authors.

of legislators. They copied, methodized, or embellished, the mythology of Egypt and of the East, and interwove with the materials which they borrowed, allegorical fables, and poetic tales, of their own creation. Each, in his turn, added something to the diversified but splendid tissue.

The phenomena of nature were converted into gods. The hero, or robber, who wandered abroad for occasions of war and spoil, was to increase, in due time, the number of divinities; and Olympus was to be converted into a mighty temple for the reception of a crowd of alien deities, naturalized by the tolerating spirit, and classified by the fertile fancy, of the poet who imported them.

Orpheus, Homer, and Hesiod, were among the priestly bards who conveyed the polytheism thus framed and decorated to the Greeks. In accomplishing this work, they, sometimes, demonstrated a felicity of fancy, and even a taste and wisdom, which

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merit, and have excited, the applause of mankind. If there was superstition, it was clothed in the most becoming and fascinating garb; if error, it was contrasted by precepts and institutions which might justly reach and influence the heart. But truth was often deserted for imagination, or overwhelmed by a mass of absurdity and incoherence. The teacher, hurried away by the enthusiam of an ungovernable fancy, or himself tainted by the creed which he announced, infused into his system the wildest and most pernicious dogmas ; and, thus, a religion was gradually produced, if a religion it may be called, in which the moral was rare, and the inconsistency and contradiction unparalleled, except, perhaps, in the holy romance of Hindu idolatry.

Legislators of so frail a character, were not calculated to become useful preceptors of mankind. They affected, indeed, to have been taught by inspirations from heaven, and to teach, in their turn, what had been thus inspired. But they were poets not moralists, priests to conduct the populace of their day to the altars of superstition, not instructors to inculcate the necessity, and the obligation, of piety and virtue. The precepts of practical wisdom which they announced, were scattered, parsimoniously and incidentally, through their songs; but they perpetually recurred to the pernicious dogmas of their idolatry, or exhausted their genius in recording and embellishing the vices of their gods. In their capacity as public teachers, they were governed by no regular and benevolent design, and, apparently, by no wish, but that of engaging the passions, and winning the applause, of the multitude whom they addressed. They struck their lyre with spontaneous fervour in the assemblies of the populace, or in the

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halls of the great; and poured forth their extemporaneous rhapsodies, with unequalled and inexhaustible fancy, to their delighted countrymen; but, if they contributed to subdue and modify the halfcivilized temper of their times, they were indebted for this praise to the fascinating harmony of their verse, and the superstitious awe which they impressed; and not to any earnest and well-directed zeal to correct the vices, illuminate the ignorance, and reform the manners of mankind.

They were invested, it was said, or they invested themselves, with the authority of heaven. The Gods protected, and the Muses inspired them; and they were followed and venerated under the twofold character of poet and of priest; of priest, to sanction, and of poet to diffuse, the tenets of their creed. From this double character they derived an influence which reached to all Greece. The forests and the rocks, it was said, exulted as they sung ; the city was surrounded with unwonted walls; and the hitherto wild and untamed savage became, as miraculously, social and humane. Yet, however their cotemporaries may have applauded or been civilized by their songs, the benefit, moral or religious, is equivocal or slight. Of the idolatry which they recommended and decorated with so much pomp and beauty of language, it will scarcely be affirmed that it did not pervert the reason and corrupt the practice of the people; and the academic philosopher who so indignantly excluded their works from his republic, has not merited, by doing so, the imputation of a very severe, or a very fastidious moralist.

Whether those extraordinary men confirmed, by exemplifying, their precepts, and demonstrated by an accordant life the sincerity of their faith, we are

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