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their tribunal amid the ashes of the grave, and to call departed humanity to trial and to judgment*, Even the precepts and ordinances communicated by the celestial ministry of Gabriel, are frequently and speedily abrogated by contradictory annunciations from heaven ; and that Being in whom there is no change, appears to indulge the wantonness, the caprice, and the mutability, of mant. Does the prophet require new doctrines to favour the policy demanded by new and different circumstances ? Are his insatiable passions to be indulged in privileges proportioned to their progressive impurity ? Had he, in the infancy of his power, held forth promises to his followers, which his established authority enabled him, and his individual interests called upon him, to rescind? Does he wish to renew the indulgences, which he had lately renounced with the solemnity of an oath? He brings down a complying and convertible providence to vindicate and sanction the revolutions of his will; and precepts descend from heaven, with inexhaustible prodigality, to justify the almost diurnal variations of the caprice, the temper, and the passions of the prophet I

The angelic ministers, in general, whom he employs in his machinery of the divine government, are made the perpetual subjects of crude and ludicrous fable. In none of them do we discover the bloom and beauty of celestial natures, in none of them the form and movements of grace, or the kindly and ardent benevolence, which might be supposed to distinguish the inhabitants of heaven. Cloathed in darkness suited to the gloomy agency in which they are employed, or armed with maces of iron to bruise the temples of departed sinners, they are the remorseless“ spies of the living ;” the “ drivers and witnesses ” of the dying and the dead; the unpitying judges who are to call before their tribunal the dwellers of the tomb; the hideous “ summoners at whose voice the realms of death are to tremble, and every departed soul, even on the night of the sepulture of its body, is to come forth for judgment*. If, in the description of such beings there be great wildness and wantonness of design, there is, in the ministry, the most glaring and incongruous absurdity. But, în these delineations, Mahomet was to consult the heated and undisciplined imagination of the multitude; and they who would have been feebly impressed, perhaps, by chastised and rational representations of divine agency, were to be roused, for the purposes of the prophet, by bold and romantic tales of the terrific Azrael, the minister of death, and the despotic Israfil, the summoner of the resurrection.

Kor. ch. viii. vol. 1. p. 222, and ch. xlvii.

66 There are two angels who attend on every man before and behind, and these are changed every day.” Kor. ch. xiji. vol. 2. p. 55. See also Sale's Prelim. Dissertat. sect. iv. p. 94.

† Appendix, Note M.
# The passages are quoted in the ist chap. sect. iii.

Even of the high and distinguished Gabriel, the agency is described in a manner scarcely less strange. He is the perpetual minister of God, yet he ascends to the throne of heaven but in “a day whose space is fifty thousand years t."

Sometimes he is seen “ beside the Lotos tree, in the seventh heaven, beyond which the angels are not permitted to pass ;"

• Appendix, Note N.
+ Kor. ch. Ixx. vol. 2. p. 458.

and, sometimes, he is beheld sailing from the

highest part of the horizon, and descending at the “ distance of two bows length to reveal that which he “ reveals *.” But he is principally employed in vindicating the Koran, and punishing its opponents. “ I will surely,” said he to the prophet,

“ take thy part against the scoffers t.” Accordingly, invested with the might of Providence, he goes forth, at the head of the Moslem, to smite the infidel; and the eye of the Prophet is permitted to behold him, amid the carnage of battle, mounted on his horse Haizum, followed by an irresistible array of auxiliary an: gels, and every where; in furtherance of the divine purpose, scattering, overthrowing, or exterminating the foe I. The populace, persuaded by such tales that their prophet enjoyed the favour of heaven, were animated with proportional zeal in his cause: The impiety became accessary to the ambition of the impostor; and the vileness and profligacy of mortal views were to derive aliment and strength from the very insults which degraded the providence of God.

But the economy of heaven was to be still further degraded by the burlesque misrepresentations of the Arabian legislator. We contemplate with astonishment and reverence, the sublime operations of divine

Kor. ch. liži, vol. 2. pp. 401, 402. + Kor. ch. xv. vol. 2. p. 75.

1 The victory was accomplished by the aid of Gabriel, and a legion of four thousand angels. The followers of Mahomet were at first blind enough to attribute the success to the skill and valour of the prophet; but they were soon better instructed. Kor. ch. viii. vol. 1. p. 226. See also Kor. ch. iii. The faith of the “ true believers” seems to have been sufficiently tractable to the purposes of the master spirit which had impressed it.

power, and with love and gratitude the effusions of divine beneficence. The tales in which the Koran describe the operations of Providence, are calculated to excite' very different emotions. After Abel had fallen by the hand of Cain, the body, we are told, was to remain unburied till “ God sent a raven to instruct the murderer how to hide the shame of his brother*.” The Israelites had unhappily eaten fish on the Sabbath day, and God said to them, “ Be ye changed into apes, and driven from the society of men, and they were changed f.” The Moslems were dissatisfied with the manner in which the spoils of the infidel were divided, but a voice from heaven appeased the contest, and vested the power of distribution in the will of the prophet I." The wives of Mahomet had presumed in secret to canvass the debauchery of their husband ; and instantly a celestial messenger was dispatched to inform him of their audacity, and to enforce conjugal submission and docility by the menace of a divorce. And the Christian youthsý, so famous in religious story, were laid asleep in a cave for three hundred and nine years, were miraculously guarded by their dog“ with his fore feet stretched out at the mouth of the cell-s,” were frequently turned in their slumber of centuries from the right hand to the left by the care of God himself*, were regularly visited by the beams of the sun, which changed its course twice every day to illuminate the cavern, and were finally awakened to become the living monuments of the goodness, the wisdom, and the power, of Providencet.

* Kor. ch. v. vol. 1. p. 136. † Kor. ch. v. vol. 1. p. 143. See also Note by Sale, in loco. :

1 “ They will ask thee concerning the spoils; answer, The division of the spoils belongeth unto God, and the apostle." Kor. ch. viii. vol. 1. p. 222.

|| Kor. ch. lợi. vol. 2. p. 447.

Ś They fled to the cavern from the persecution which commenced under the Emperor Decius, and ceased under the milder despotism of Theodosius. This slumber scarcely lasted two hundred years. Gabriel, or the prophet, was a little too minute.

The dog, according to the Mohammedan writers, followed them to the cave, and when they endeavoured to drive him away, God caused him to speak ; and he said, “ I love them that are dear to God; go sleep, therefore, and I will guard you.” This dog is held in great veneration by all true Mussulmen, and a place is assigned to him in Paradise, with some other favoured brutes. Kor. vol. 2. p. 114. Note, by Sale.

Among these ludicrous or contemptible fables, the wildest dreams of the Talmudists are detailed with earnest minuteness, or expanded with fanciful and rhetorical exaggeration; and credulity and superstition are amply indulged with a series of divine interpositions, which equally violate the records of history, and the persuasions of common sense. God is, thus, on countless occasions, exhibited as the ruling power of a romance, and not as the all-wise and omnipotent sovereign of the universe ; and the designs and operations in which he is said to exhaust his attributes, are not more entitled to respect and belief than the wonders which are sometimes ascribed to the necromancy of magic. Abraham is delivered up to the infidels, and cast upon the pile; but God said,

Fire be thou cooled,”and Abraham was preserved f.

* Lest their flesh should be injured by lying too long in the same posture. ..The prophet was doubtful of the number of the sleepers. Kor. ch. xviii. vol. 2. p. 115. Was not Gabriel sufficiently instructed to inform him?

† Abraham is said to have been brought by God out of the land of Ur of the Chaldeans, Gen. xv. 17. Mahomet, with some of the ignorant Jews, understanding Ur, not as the name of a city, but

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