« PreviousContinue »
thereon; and this they did, not only when they tended the fire to lay more wood thereon, or do any other service about it; but also when they approached it to read the daily offices of their liturgy before it. So that they mumbled over their prayers, rather than spoke them, in the same manner as the Popish priests do their masses, without letting the people present articulately hear one word of what they said, and if they should hear them, they would now as badly understand them. For all their public prayers, are even to this day in the old Persian language, in which Zoroastres first composed them, about two thousand two hundred years since; of which the common people do not now understand one word. And in this absurdity also have they the Romanists partakers with them. When Zoroastres composed his liturgy, the old Persic was then indeed the vulgar language of all those countries, where this liturgy was used. And so was the Latin throughout all the western empire, when the Latin service was first used therein. But when the language changed, they would not consider, that the change which was made thereby, in the reason of the thing, did require that a change should be made in their liturgy also; but retained it the same, after it ceased to be understood, as it was before. So it was the superstitious folly of adhering to old establishments against reason, that produced this absurdity in both of them, though it must be acknowledged that the Magians have more to say for themselves in this matter, than the Romanists. For they are taught, that their liturgy was brought them from heaven, which the others do not believe of theirs, though they stick to it, as if it were. And if that stiffness of humour, which is now among too many of us, against altering any thing in our liturgy, should continue, it must at last bring us to the same pass. For all languages being in fluxu, they do in every age alter from what they were in the former, and therefore as we do not now understand the English, which was here spoken by our ancestors three or four hundred years ago, so in all likelihood, will not our posterity three or four hundred years hence understand that, which is now spoken by us. And therefore should our liturgy be still continued without any change or alteration, it will then be as much in an unknown language, as now the Roman service is to the vulgar of that communion.
"But to return to the reformations of Zoroastres; how much he followed the Jewish platform in the framing of them, doth manifestly appear from the particulars I have mentioned. For most of them were taken either from the sacred writings or the sacred usages of that people. Moses heard God speaking to him out of a flame of fire from the bush, and all Israel heard him speaking to them in the same manner out of the midst of fire from mount Sinai. Hence Zoroastres pretended to have heard God speaking to him also out of the midst of a flame of fire. The Jews had a visible shecinah of the divine presence among them resting over the
mercy-seat in the holy of holies, both in their tabernacle, and temple, toward which they offered up all their prayers, and therefore Zoroastres taught his Magians to pretend to the like, and to hold the sun, and the sacred fires in their fire-temples, to be this shecinah in which God especially dwelt, and for this reason they offered up all their prayers to him with their faces turned towards both. The Jews had a sacred fire, which came down from heaven upon their altar of burnt-offerings, which they did there ever after, till the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, inextinguishably maintain, and with this fire only were all their sacrifices and oblations made, and Nadab and Abihu were punished with death for offering incense to God with other fire. And in like manner Zoroastres pretended to have brought his holy fire from heaven, and therefore commanded it to be kept with the same care. to kindle fire on the altar of any new erected fire-temple, or to rekindle it on any such altar, where it had been by any unavoidable accident extinguished, from any other fire, than from one of the sacred fires in some other temple, or else from the sun, was reckoned a crime to be punished in the same manner. And whereas great care was taken, among the Jews, that no wood should be used on their altar in the temple, but that which they reputed clean, and for this reason they had it all barked and examined before it was laid on; and that, when it was laid on, the fire should never be blowed up either with bellows or the breath of man for the kindling of it. Hence Zoroastres ordained both these particulars to be also observed in respect to his sacred fire among his Magians, commanding them to use only barked wood for the maintaining of it, and no other means for the kindling of it up into a flame, but the pouring on of oil, and the blasts of the open air. And that he should in so many things, write after the Jewish religion, or have been so well informed therein, can scarcely seem probable, if it had not been first educated, and brought up in it.
"Zoroasters having thus taken upon him to be a prophet of God, sent to reform the old religion of the Persians, to gain the better reputation to his pretensions, he retired into a cave, and there lived a long time, as a recluse, pretending to be abstracted from all worldly considerations, and to be given wholly to prayer and divine meditations; and the more to amuse the people, who there resorted to him, he dressed up his cave with several mystical figures representing Mithra, and other mysteries of their religion, from whence it became for a long while after, a usage among them to choose such caves for their devotions, (which being dressed up in the same manner, were called Mithratic caves. While he was in this retirement he composed the book, wherein all his pretended revelations are contained, which shall be hereafter spoken of. And Mahomet exactly followed his example herein. For he also retired to a cave some time before he
broached his imposture, and by the help of his accomplices there formed the Alcoran, wherein it is contained. And Pythagoras on his return from Babylon to Samos, in imitation of his master Zoroastres, (whom Clemens Alexandrinus tells us he emulously followed) had there, in like manner, his cave, to which he retired, and wherein he mostly abided both day and night, and for the same end as Zoroastres did in his; that is, to get himself the greater veneration from the people.* For Pythagoras acted a part of imposture as well as Zoroastres, and this perchance he also learnt from him.
"After he had thus acted the part of a prophet in Media, and there settled all things according to his intentions, he removed from thence into Bactria, the most eastern province of Persia, and there settled in the city of Balch, which lies on the river Oxus in the confines of Persia, India, and Cowaresmia, where under the protection of Hystaspes, the father of Darius, he soon spread his imposture through all that province with great success. although Darius after the slaughter of the Magians, had with most of his followers gone over to the sect of the Sabians; yet Hystaspes still adhered to the religion of his ancestors, and having fixed his residence at Balch, (where it may be supposed he governed those parts of the empire under his son) did there support and promote it to the utmost of his power."
* And Jesus Christ is alleged to have gone into the wilderness for forty days as his part of the cave project, and also to have been born in a cave; as by the apocryphal gospels. R. C.
(EXTRACTED BY H. D. R.)
For thus, when by mere illusion, as in a tragedy, the passions of this kind are skilfully excited in us; we prefer the entertainment to any other of equal duration. We find by ourselves, that the moving our passions in this mournful way, the engaging them in behalf of merit and worth, and the exerting of whatever we have of social affection, and human sympathy, is of the highest delight, and affords a greater enjoyment in the way of thought and sentiment, than any thing besides can do in a way of sense and common appetite. And after this manner it appears, "How much the mental enjoyments are actually the very natural affections themselves.".
As for that other effect of social love, viz., the consciousness of
merited kindness or esteem; it is not difficult to perceive how much this avails in mental pleasure, and constitutes the chief enjoyment and happiness of those who are in the narrowest sense voluptuous. How natural is it for the most selfish among us, to be continually drawing some sort of satisfaction from a character, and pleasing ourselves in the fancy of deserved admiration and esteem? For though it be mere fancy, we endeavour still to believe it truth, and flatter ourselves, all we can, with the thought of merit of some kind, and the persuasion of our deserving well from some few at least, with whom we happen to have' a more intimate and familiar commerce.
What tyrant is there, what robber, or open violator of the laws of society, who has not a companion, or some particular set, either of his own kindred, or such as he calls friends; with whom he gladly shares his good; in whose welfare he delights; and whose joy and satisfaction he makes his own? What per
son in the world is there, who receives not some impressions from the flattery or kindness of such as are familiar with him? It is to this soothing hope and expectation of friendship, that almost all our actions have some reference. It is this which goes through our whole lives, and mixes itself even with most of our vices. Of this, vanity, ambition, aud luxury, have a share; and many other disorders of our life partake. Even the unchastest love borrows largely from this source. So that were pleasure to be computed in the same way as other things commonly are; it might properly be said, that out of these two branches (viz., community or participation in the pleasures of others, and belief of meriting well from others) would arise more than nine-tenths of whatever is enjoyed in life. And thus in the main sum of happiness, there is scarce a single article, but what derives itself from social love, and depends immediately on the natural and kind affections.
P. 114. Let any one consider well those pleasures which he receives either in private retirement, contemplation, study, and converse with himself; or in mirth, jollity, and entertainment, with others; and he will find, that they are wholly founded in an easy temper, free of harshness, bitterness, or distaste; and in a mind or reason well composed, quiet, easy within itself, and such as can freely bear its own inspection and review. Now such a mind, and such a temper, which fit and qualify for the enjoyment of the pleasures mentioned, must of necessity be owing to the natural and good affections.
As to what relates to temper, it may be considered thus. There is no state of outward prosperity, or flowing fortune, where inclination and desire are always satisfied, fancy and humour pleased. There are almost hourly some impediments or crosses to the appetite: some accident or other from without, or something from within, to check the licentious course of the indulged affec
tions. They are not always to be satisfied by mere indulgence. And when a life is guided by fancy only, there is sufficient ground of contrariety and disturbance. The very ordinary lassitudes, uneasinesses, and defects of disposition in the soundest body; the interrupted course of the humours, or spirits, in the healthiest people; and the accidental disorders common to every constitution, are sufficient, we know, on many occasions, to breed uneasiness and distaste. And this, in time, must grow into a habit, where there is nothing to oppose its progress, and hinder its prevailing on the temper. Now the only sound opposite to ill humour, is natural and kind affection. For we may observe, that when the mind, upon reflection, resolves at any time to suppress this disturbance already arisen in the temper, and sets about this reforming work with heartiness, and in good earnest; it can no otherwise accomplish the undertaking, than by introducing into the affectionate part some gentle feeling of the social and friendly kind; some enlivening motion of kindness, fellowship, complacency, or love, to allay and convert that contrary motion of impatience and discontent.
If it be said, perhaps, that in the case before us, religious affection or devotion is a sufficient and proper remedy; we answer, that it is according as the kind may happily prove. For if it be of the dismal or fearful sort; if it brings along with it any affection opposite to manhood, generosity, courage, or free thought; there will be nothing gained by this application: and the remedy will, in the issue, be undoubtedly found worse than the disease. The severest reflections on our duty, and the consideration merely of what is by authority and under penalty enjoined, will not by any means serve to calm us on this occasion. The more dismal our thoughts are on such a subject; the worse our temper will be, and the readier to discover itself in harshness and austerity. If, perhaps by compulsion, or through any necessity or fear incumbent, a different carriage be at any time affected, or different maxims owned, the practice at the bottom will be still the same. If the countenance be composed; the heart, however, will not be changed. The ill passion may for the time be withheld from breaking into action; but will not be subdued, or in the least debilitated against the next occasion. So that in such a breast as this, whatever devotion there may be; it is likely there will in time be little of an easy spirit, or good temper remaining; and consequently few and slender enjoyments of a mental kind.
(To be continued.)
Printed and Published by RICHARD CARLILE, 62, Fleet-street, where all Communications, post paid, or free of expence, are requested to be left.