« AnteriorContinuar »
'is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer. "Whoever dies in battle, his sins are forgiven; ' and at the day of judgment, his wounds shall 'be resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as 'musk: and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels.' I apprehend that numbers of nominal Christians would feel much less aversion to the doctrine of future and eternal punishments, if thus limited and explained, with reference to the external profession of Christianity, and attachment to it. Besides the dread of so dire a destruction for themselves, and for relatives and connexions, from which men shrink back; the idea that they are deserving of it for their rebellion against God tends exceedingly to set them. against it.
The doctrines of human merit, in general, and of works of supererogation in particular, were inculcated by Mohammed. The two mountains,
Sapha and Merva, are monuments of the sacred things of God. He, therefore, who shall go on pilgrimage to the house of God, and shall visit ' it, there shall be no guilt upon him, if he 'surround them: and he who performs any good 'work, of his own accord, truly God will be grateful.' Koran ch. 2.- 5 Conj. ε Suo: libitu, et sponte, citra legis necessitatem aut dictamen boni quid fecit, deditve. Of his own 'accord, beyond the necessity or dictating of the 'law, shall give or do any good thing.' Golius. -Especially every exertion, contribution or risk,
by which the faith of Mohammed could be propagated, was not only meritorious, but entitled a man to indulgences and extra rewards.
It is generally said, that Mohammed held predestination: and this is in some sense true; but his sentiments on that subject neither fully accorded with heathen fatalism, nor with Christian predestination. Differently from the heathens, he supposes, what we may call the fatality of events, to originate entirely from the decree of God: yet he by no means speaks of it as the result of infinite wisdom, justice, goodness, and truth, foreknowing and fore-appointing every thing in the best manner possible, for the display of his own glory, and the highest good of all obedient creatures, and of all the redeemed, and in general of his universal and eternal kingdom. He had just that kind and degree of persuasion, that all events are decreed and must come to pass, which operated on his soldiers in the very same manner as notions of lucky and fortunate do among our soldiers and sailors, to make them confident and fearless in every danger: but, in respect of human actions, he seems to make God the author alike of the good and of the evil.
Stated prayers, giving alms, chiefly a proportion of spoils taken in war, or of other gains, which Mohammed required as an oblation to God; fastings, for which very convenient and accommodating compensations are appointed, and pilgrimages, but especially fighting in the path ' of God,' form the substance of his practical religion. Moral precepts are very thinly scattered in the Koran, and very vaguely expressed;
and with much allowance to believers, even as much as the carnal heart can well desire. The
holy, just, good, and spiritual law" of God is as much left out, or thrown into the back ground, as the doctrines of redemption are. As much indulgence to the sensual passion, in respect of polygamy, and the concubinage of females taken in war, is granted, as human nature can wish for. It would be an outrage to common decency to quote the Koran on this subject; and still more its Mohammedan commentators, who generally make the text itself appear more filthy by their glosses than it really is. All limitations, except men could not bear the expense, were merely nominal: a limited number of wives was connected with concubinage, in most cases; while Mohammed's own example greatly exceeded, in licentiousness, the laws, however indulgent, which he prescribed to others. -He indeed, in some places, forbids the use of wine, but in others he seems to allow of it; or to consider the use of it only as unfavourable to his political designs; for delicious wines form one of the gratifications of his paradise. Not the least restraint was placed by his religion on pride, ambition, avarice, rapacity, or the malignant passions: nay the whole of his system tended greatly to nourish and encourage them.-Here then was every thing congenial to depraved nature; every thing gratifying to one or other of the corrupt passions. Even paganism, at least the system of pagan moralists and philosophers, required far more self-denial, and fixed a far higher standard of morals, than Mohammedism does. To crown the whole, it proposed to the
hopes of its votaries a heaven of perpetual enjoyment of the most exquisite sensual delights, which the most voluptuous imagination could conceive, or the most carnal heart desire: They will feed on the most delicious fruits, be clothed in the most splendid silken garments, refreshed with 'rivers of water, wine, milk, and honey, enter'tained with the most delightful music, and the ravishing girls of paradise, with black eyes, the enjoyment of whose company will be a principal felicity of the faithful.'
Mohammed is by many supposed to have maintained that women had no souls. This, however, does not appear to be well-grounded: but, as a new creation of most beautiful women, to continue for ever in youth and vigour, formed on purpose for the gratification of the faithful, was a most essential part of his heaven; it is plain that the women who were of his religion in this world could not well share the same felicity: yet he repeatedly speaks of believing women being admitted to paradise. Women, in his hateful system, were considered as almost exclusively the objects of men's sensual indulgence'; and were in other respects of so little consequence, and he was so little concerned to excite them (who were. in general the most abject slaves of the men,) to exertion in his cause; that he seems almost to have overlooked them in his views of a future world.
One further particular appears to belong to this part of the subject. The followers of Mohammed were fully entitled to all the spoil and captives taken from the vanquished, paying a small tax to
him out of it: while the inhabitants of the countries among whom they went had only the option of embracing the religion of the conquerors, and sharing their privileges, or of being slain or made slaves. This excessively facilitated their success, when once begun: and, though political wisdom afterwards, especially as to the Christians, modified this condition, yet the spirit of it prevailed to a very great degree.
From this view of the religion of Mohammed, it is evident to all who know human nature, and what suits the market, or coincides with the desires and imagined wants of men, that it was admirably adapted for the purpose. It had nothing in the general constitution of fallen human nature to oppose it, and much, very much to recommend it. The powers of darkness had no interest in exciting opposition to it, but the contrary. Local prejudices, customs, and superstitions, with personal interests, formed a temporary obstruction. So would learning and philosophy also, had any been found in those dark times and regions; and the authority of princes if any had been powerful enough to resist the torrent; but none were. Mohammed accordingly found difficulty, great difficulty, at first, in putting his machine in motion: but, that once effected, there needed no immediate divine interposition to give it efficacy; no, not even what Mr. C. calls good 'fortune: an immediate divine interposition was as requisite to arrest and stop its progress, as to stop that of a tremendous conflagration, or of an impetuous torrent.
Having obtained a full establishment, the same