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exempt from punishment. This privilege procured such veneration for the statue, that he whom it represented was revered as a god, and called, according to some, Jupiter; and according to others, Saturn of the Babylonians. This happened in the two thousandth year of the world, and the last year but one of Noah's life. So idolatry begau.
All nations did not worship Belus. Other nations chose for them. selves gods after their own hearts. "The Africans worshipped the heavens; the Persians, fire, water, and the winds; the Lybians, the sun and moon; the Thebans, sheep and weasels; the Babylonious of Memphis, a whale; the inhabitants of Mendis, a goat; the Thessalians, storks; the Syrophenicians, doves; the Egyptians, dogs, cats, crocodiles, and hawks; nay, leeks, onions, and garlic.” Of the latter people the satirical Juvenal says
“O sanctas gentes, quibus baec nascuntur in hortis
Religious nations, sure, and bless'd abodes,
But worse than all, murderers, adulterers, thieves, drunkards, and robbers were deified and adored.
In the Roman Pantheon the gods were distributed into six classes, the Celestial, the Terrestrial, the Marine, the Infernal, the Minuti or Semones, and the Indigetes or Adscriptitii.
Amongst the celestial Jupiter stood first, next Apollo, Mars, Mers cury, and Bacchus; the goddesses of the same rank were Juno, Vesta. Minerva or Pallas, Venus, Luna, and Bellona. In the great arch of the Pantheon was drawn the image of the father of the gods and king of men—"Jupiter, placed on a throne of ivory, under a rich canopy, with a beard, holding thunder in his right hand, which he brandishes against the giants at his feet; his sceptre made of imperishable cypress, symbol of the eternity of his empire. On his sceptre sits an eagle, called his armor-bearer, because it brought hini thunder in his battles with the giants. He wears golden shoes, and is covered with a woolen cloak.” Thus appeared Jupiter in ancient Rome.
The names of Jupiter in the different nations wlich acknowledged him, cannot easily be enumerated. The Greeks called him Ammon. or Hammon, which signifies sandy. Ile obtained this name in Libia, because in the form of a ram he opened the kinds of the desert and water flowed on the petition of Bacchus. The Assyrians and Babylonians called him Belus. In different places and languages frous this root he was called Beel, Baal, Beelphegor, Beelzebub, and Beelzemen. He was alled in Rome Capitolinus, Tarpeius, Optimus Maximus, Custos. In other countries he was called Diespiter, Dodenoeus, Elicius, Feretrius Fulminator, Gragus, Genitor, Imperator, Opitulus, Olympius, Pistor, Regnator, Stator, Soter, the Saviour, Ultor, Zeus, &c. &c. Out of one god they frequently made many. Thus the Sun, according to the aspect in which he was viewed, be
came a new god. "The vernal Sun was the infant Horus, and the midsummer sun was Hercules. In autumn he was worshipped as the dying Adonis, and in winter as the dead Osiris. The priests of the Nile gave the figure of every sign to the Sun. Every new inonth then afforded a new deity. On entering Aries the Sun was worshipped as a ram, as Ammon; on entering Taurus he was worshipped as the bull, and became the celebrated Apis.” A volume would not define the names of all the gods of the Pagan world, and volumes would not record the feats, pranks, amors, debaucheries, murders, &c. of the gods of the two thousand years before the christian era.
In worshipping God men looked to the heavens. The heavens, under the name of Jupiter, were worshipped by the ancient Etruscans, Him the Pelasgians invoked as “the dweller in ether, and the driver of the clouds." "Aspice hoc sublime candens quem invocant omnes Jovem.” (Behold this lofty and bright expanse, whom they call Jove.) Or, as Virgil sings,
"Ab jove principium musae: Jovis omnia plena.” (From the great father of the gods above
My muse begins; for all is full of Jove.) From the adoration of the heavens in general, the mind in its descent next took hold of the Sun under the name of Apollo; next, the Moon, under the name of Diana; then the stars. The Egyptian Osiris was the Sun, or universal fire; and their Isis, the Moon; or, in other words, Osiris with them represented active power, and Isis passive nature. According to Thales, "wherever there was motion there was soul;" hence not only the heavenly bodies were personified, but almost all animated nature. From worshipping the heavens they descended to the worship of ants and roots.
Benefactors and heroes after their decease were first admired and then adored. Frequently these were blended with the worship of the heavenly bodies, insomuch that the same names are given to departed heroes and the host of heaven. Thus Hercules, amongst the Egyptians and Phenicians, was the midsummer sun in the fulness of his strength; and amongst the Greeks he was a piratical adventurer who sailed, depredated, and plundered upon the Grecian seas.
It is an arduous task to form an acquaintance with the complicated machinery of ancient mythology; for when to the gods and goddesses are added the priests and priestesses and all the paraphernalia of their groves, fanes, rites, ceremonies, and hieroglyphics, the acquisition of a foreign language is an easy matter in comparison of an accurate knowledge of the polytheism of the ancient nations.
This idolatry filled the world with every species of crime. When amors, intrigues, debaucheries, rapes, and murders were the pastimes of the gods worshipped by the great mass of human kind, what must have been the morals of such worshippers!!!
Fronı such premises we may judge whether Paul's picture of the l'agan morals be too high wrought: “Filled with all injustice, forni
cation, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strite, cunning, bad disposition, whisperers, revilers, haters of God, insolent, proud, boasters, inventory of evil pleasures, disobedient to parents, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.” After this peep into the polytheism of the Pagan world, which so often corrupted and distressed the Jews, let us take a reep into that Pagan philosophy which corrupted christianity soon after its birth. But before we touch upon the philosophy, let us just glance at the priesthood of this idolatry.
The priesthood of polytheism had an inner and an outer religion one for the common people, and one for the initiated. As a late writer has remarked, “Amongst simple tribes, where there is no regular priesthood, there is nothing complex in the rites of worship and little consistency in the scheme of belief. They worship nature when visible and present to their senses, and make scarcely anyuse of represen htive symbols. These are introduced with temples, and are necessary in a service no longer carried on in the face of nature. The priesthood seem always to have been aware of the origin of hero worship and of the political motives on account of which their deceased kings and legislators were admitted arnong the number of the gods; but this they concealed from the common people, and encouraged in them the gross worship of every idol in the most unnatural and complicated rites."
But knowing that the adoration of the heavenly bodies was the more ancient worship, and that even these were only the representatives of one great being, “the father of all the gods and men,” they communicated this their confused notion of but one divinity, to the initiated. Those initiated into their mysteries, amongst whom were many of their legislators and magistrates, were in.ormed of the grounds. of the vulgar worship and the reasons for tolerating it. These were very similar to what some of the high and low priests of nature of modern times have to offer for themselves. Christianity is necessasary,' say they, for the uneducated, unphilosophic mind--for the common people; but as for us philosophers, we
“Look through Nature up to Nature's God," and need not a written revelation nor the institutes of religion to direct our minds or regulate our conduct. Thus did the priests of polytheism teach those in the inner temple introduced into the mysteries of their high school, while the great mass in the outer court were encouraged in all the gross notions of demon worship down to the idolatry of reptiles.
Hence came the philosophers of the Pagan world to have ban outward and an inward philosophy.” The gross superstitions presented to the vulgar, and more refined mysteries reserved for the initiated,” being the policy of the priesthood, it is not unreasonable ; to expect that this should give a turn to the reasonings of their philosophers. But this must be postponed till our next.
ON THE RULES OF INTERPRETATION--No III.. LET us now, for a moment, imagine ourselves to stand in the place of those who were addressed by the prophets. Of course we must suppose ourselves to have the same understanding of the Hebrew language, to have been educated within the same circle of knowledge, and to be familiar with the same objects both in the natural and spiritual world. Should we need lexicons, grammars, and comcommentaries, in order to understand Isaiah, or any other prophet? The supposition is, upon the very face of it, almost an absurdity. Are our common people, who have the first rudiments of education, unable to understand the popular preachers of the present day? If it is so, it is the egregious fault of the preacher, and not of his hearers. It is because he chooses words not contained in the usual stores of language from which most persons draw, and which he need not choose, and should not select, because he must know that such a choice will make him more or less unintelligible. But who will suppose the prophets to have acted thus unwisely? The inspiration by the aid of which they spake and wrote, surely enabled them to speak and write intelligibly. If so, then were we listeners to them, and in the condition of those whom they actually addressed, we could of course understand them, for just the same reasons, and in the same way, that we now understand the popular preachers of our time. All our learned apparatus of folios and quartos, of ancient and modern lexicographers, grammarians, and critics, would then be quietly dismissed, and laid aside as nearly or altogether useless At the most we should need them no more than we now need Johnson's or Webster's Dictionaries, in order to understand a modern sermon in the English language.
All this needs only to be stated, in order to ensure a spontaneous assent to it. But what follows? The very thing, I answer, which I am laboring to illustrate and establish. If the persons addressed by the Hebrew prophets, understood them, and easily and readily understood them, in what way was this done? Plainly by virtue of the usual principles of interpretation, which they applied in all the common intercourse of life. They were not held in suspense about the meaning of a prophet, until a second interposition on the part of heaven took place, i.e. a miraculous illumination of their minds in order that they might perceive the meaning of words new and strange to them. Such words were not employed. They were able, therefore, at once to perceive the meaning of the prophet who addressed them, in all ordinary cases; and this is true throughout, with exceptions merely of such a nature as still occur, in regard to most of our preaching. Now and then a word is employed, which some part of a common audience does not fully comprehend; and now and then a • seatiment is developed, or an argument employed, which the minds of
some are not sufficiently enlightened fully to comprehend. But in such cases, the difficulty arises more from the subject than it does from the language.
The prophets indeed complain, not unfrequently, that the Jews did not understand them. But this complaint always has respect to a spiritual perception and relish of the truths which they delivered to them. They heard, but understood not; they saw, but perceived not." The fault, however, was the want of spiritual taste and dis. cernment; not because the language, in itself, was beyond human comprehension.
'Admitting then that the prophets spoke intelligibly, and that they were actually understood by their côtemporaries, and this without any miraculous interposition, it follows of course, that it was the usual laws of interpretation which enabled their hearers to understand them. They applied to their words, and spontaneously applied the same principles of interpretation which they were wont to apply to the language of all who addressed them. By so doing, they right. ly understood the prophets; at any rate, by so doing, they might have rightly understood them; and if so, then such laws of interpretation are the right ones, for those laws inust be right which conduct us to the true meaning of a speaker.
I can see no way of avoiding this conclusion, unless we deny that the prophets were understood, or could be understood, by their contemporaries. But to deny this, would be denying facts so plain, so incontrovertible, that it would argue a desperate attachment to system, or something still more culpable.
In view of what has just been said, it is easy to see why so much study and learning are necessary, at the present time, in order to enable us correctly to understand the original Greek and llebrew Scriptures. We are born neither in Greece nor Palestine; we have learned in our childhood to read and understand neither Greek nor Hebrew. Our condition and circumstances, our course of education and thought, as well as our language, are all different from those of a Jew in ancient times. Our government, our climate, our state of society and manners and habits, our civil, social, and religious condition, are all different from those of Palestine. Neither heaven above nor earth beneath, is the same in various respects. A thousand productions of nature and art, in the land of the Hebrews, are unknown to our times and country; and multitudes of both are familiar to us, of which they never had any knowledge. How can we then put ourselves in their places, and listen to prophets and apostles, speaking Hebrew and Greek, without much learning and study? It is plainly impossible. And the call for all this learning and study is explained by what I have just said. All of it is designed to accomplish one simple object, and only one, viz. to place us, as nearly as possible, in the condition of those whom the sacred writers originally addressed, Had birth and education placed us there, all this study and effort might be dispensed with at once; for, as has been already stated, we could then understand the sacred writers, in the same way and for the same reason that we now understand our own preachers. When we do this, we do it by spontaneously applying the laws of interpretation which we have practised from our childhood; and such would