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sinners, and they are very unhappy in consequence; and some of them go to a great expense in pilgrimages and offerings to the false gods, in order to satisfy their consciences; but they remain as much sinners as ever, and as far from happiness; and dying as they do, strangers to God, they have no good hope of eternal life. I have said they remain as much sinners as ever ; in general they become more so, in consequence of their idolatrous practices, for they are impure and corrupting, and the people become worse in imitation of their gods; and that which was once expressed by a Hindoo, when he was reproved for his wickedness, is felt by all,' I may do as the gods do; they sin, and
80 may I."
Perhaps it may be urged that every one must look at this question in the same light; that all must see and abhor the debasing character of the Hindoo mythology. But how stands the fact. They never thought of doing so till the missionary spirit woke up in England. We could point out a variety of testimonies from men of high standing in the literary and intellectual world, attributing a wonderfully recondite and sublime meaning, not only to the fooleries of mythology generally, but especially to those of Hindooism. It was indeed generally believed, that by the ridiculous and disgusting rites of heathenism, certain moral or physical truths were adumbrated; whereas the very opposite appears to have been the fact. When the priest found the people inclined to laugh at these superstitions, he cast about to find some specious excuse for his folly, or his exactions; so that what he wished them to believe was really the philosophy of his system, was in truth nothing more than an apology, called for by its gross and palpable absurdities. Well is it observed in the little work before us, with reference to this part of our subject.
Among the stories which they invented, was one, that Ram or Ramu (another Hindoo god,) after he had conquered the giants, became very great, and that he was four hundred miles high. I mention this in order to shew you the importance of schools giving to the young, the means of detecting these impostures. There was a boy in one of the schools in Ceylon, who found out that this was clearly impossible in the nature of things; and one morning, going to his goroo or teacher, with his book ynder his arm, he said, Goroo, did you not tell me that Ram
was four hundred miles high?' 'Yes,' said the goroo, and so he was.' Now,' said the boy, that cannot be true, for the island of Ceylop is only three hundred miles long.' 'Oh,' said the goroo, ó that must be a mistake.' "Oh no,' said the boy, it is no mistake, here is my geography book, and here it is
Ceylon, three hundred miles long, from forty to one hundred miles broad.'-Now, Mr. Goroo, how do you get out of that?' Mr. Goroo was puzzled for some time, but at last he said, “Oh, I recollect how it is—they made a hole at one end of the island one hundred miles deep, for him to put his legs into.' 'No, no,' said the boy, · that is an invention of yours, and it is clear that it is all invention, and having discovered this, I have done with you and all your false gods, and he put himself from that time under the instructions of the missionaries.”
Of the tender mercies of heathenism, take this picture, “ We have very lately received from the Scottish missionaries in Old Calabar a distressing account of the destruction of life which took place immediately on the death of the late king. On the same night above one hundred of his subjects, some of them his wives and others his officers, were put to death, to go and attend him in the unseen world ; these were knocked on the head immediately on the king's death being announced, and it was feared that a much larger number would be put to death previous to his funeral, and that the bodies of some of his wives, and some twenty or thirty others, would be thrown into the large grave in which he was buried, and that others would be killed on the day of the coronation of the new king. In Ashantee, the number put to death on a like occasion appears to have been not less than 3,000. Mr. Freeman, the Wesleyan missionary, informs us, that after a custom, as they call it, or a sacrifice of victims, it is impossible to walk through a place without seeing parts of human bodies exposed to the jackals or the vultures; and when he was admitted to an audience with the king of Ashantee, he passed over a path which had been recently turned up. He found afterwards that two women had been killed and buried under that path immediately before he came, in order to appease the false gods, and prevent any injury to the king in consequence of his admitting a foreigner into his presence. All their religion,
like that of other heathen nations, partakes of this characternot love, but fear.”
To the same purport writes the Rev William Arthur, himself a missionary, and an eye witness to similar atrocities, in one of the most eloquent lectures it has ever been our lot to read—we are sorry we cannot add, to hear.* Speaking of the same coast, he says of its unhappy population, “ Their Fetishworship is of a character which admits of no better description than · blood and murder.' Men are supposed to hold the same station, and to feel the same wants, in the next world as in the present. Consequently, when a person of any importance is dying, a slave is kept at hand; and, in order that the master may not enter another world unattended, no sooner is the spirit fled, than the slave is decapitated. Then, after a few days spent in preliminary ceremonies, others are sacrificed, to a number sufficient to furnish the departed individual with a retinue, such as would have done him honor in life. In the case of a great chief, this requires several hundreds; and, it is said, that at the death of some kings, above 1000 have fallen. The king of the powerful country of Dahomi lives in a palace, the wall surrounding which is ornamented by a trelliswork of human skulls. When the erection of this horrid monument of barbarism (which is of modern date) had proceeded a considerable length, the architect reported to the king that he would be obliged to change the pattern, as he had not skulls enough to finish in the style in which he had begun ; but the King simply ordered that a sufficient number of slaves should be killed to provide the requisite material. Kumasi, the capital of the neighbouring kingdom of Ashanti, may be soberly called the metropolis of murder. At the death of every great chief, and the recurrence of every national solemnity, the streets literally stream with blood, while hosts of carrion birds are constantly on the watch for the prey, which falls to them instead of to the grave.”
* “ The Extent and the Moral Statistics of the British Empire. A Lecture delivered before the Young Men's Christian Association,” published by our good friend Mr. B. L. Green, who, we are happy to find, is issuing a succession of cheap, admirable, and popular little works-little, often as regards their cost and size, but not unfrequently, as in the present instance, great in the highest sense which that word expresses.
But, to come back to the fertile subject of Hindoo idolatry, who can read unmoved the magnificent summ
amary of its enormities, given by the author last quoted.
“ You have heard, gentlemen, of Brahmanism, with its antiquity, its learning, its splendour, its refinement, and perhaps its sublimity. This system is taught in a multitude of sacred books, commonly distributed into four Vaydas, six Shastras, and eighteen Puranas, each holding a divine, though graduated authority. The number of gods recognised is three hundred and thirty millions, and the spirit of the system is to make every thing a god. India at large is one colossal illustration of the scriptural phrase, “ wholly given to idolatry.” You can hardly look on an object that is pot, in one sense or another, a god. The wind is a god, the sea a god, the earth a goddess, most of the rivers goddesses; while the planets, and “ fowls of the air, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things,” are all received into the swollen catalogue of divinities. Every caste has its peculiar god, every trade its patron celestial, every order of event, every phase of fortune, its divine president; every village has its temple, every house its protector, every man his selected guardian. You cannot look upon a scene, you cannot hear a narration, you cannot walk a street, you cannot witness an important transaction, without some forcible memento that the land is 'wholly given to idolatry.' The herd lowing in the valley, the banyan spreading on the hill, the monkey gambolling in the wood, the vulture flying in the air, the serpent crawling in the dust, all receive part of the homage due to God alone ; but, by the fallen spirit of the Hindu, squandered on unworthy things.
“There is not a field in the wide champaign but is stained with the ashes of some victim offered to Bhoomi, the goddess of the earth ;* there is not a planet in the deep blue sky, but shares the honors of godhead; there is not a mountain soaring in the land, though its own magnificence proves that “
an idol is nothing in the world,” but is a pedestal of some miserable competitor for the honors of the Great King; there is not a drop in the inexhaustible Ganges, but is turned into a rival to the • Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. All nature stands united in one dark conspiracy to usurp the rights of the • Generally a goat, but in the Goomsoor country, a human victim.
Most High. On every hill the spirit of evil sits enthroned: he spreads abroad his dark wings, and two hundred millions of men sit under their shade, and die.
“ You cannot tell the degradation of that idolatry. Images not bigger than an infant's plaything, forms more obscene than bacchanals, and more monstrous than the fancies of night mare, are worshipped with deep prostrations. I have heard a man, who could write poetry as fast as I am speaking, tell me, in a storm of indignation, that the serpent I had just killed was his god. I have seen a group of men, some of them poets, some astrologers, some tutors, some clerks, some schoolmasters, all Brahmans, with every head bowed, and every hand raised, in adoration of a kite. I have seen men with white hairs, falling down to the ground before the image of a bull; children of tender years bowing to the representation of a god in the act of sinning ; artisans doing reverence to their implements, and men coming to a grove where monkeys were playing their antics, to present them with an offering. The man that, without deep emotions of pity and shame, can consider the fact, that one-sixth of the souls on earth are in a state so dreary, so fallen, so essentially debased as this, scarcely deserves to have escaped the same delusions. The Englishman whose breast does not warm with generous wishes to spread among these hosts of his fellow subjects the same blessed truths which have given freedom to our thoughts, joy to our homes, and sublimity to our faith, scarcely deserves to be free or happy, and is utterly incapable of being sublime.”
We dare not, to this sublime, but fearful and accusing voice, add anything of our own. Let us, therefore, bring this paper to a close, with a further extract from the same powerful writer, to which we can only append our own fervent Amen!
England! thou dost stand in the midst of the nations, and voices from afar urge thee to be holy! Hope has her eye on thee! The soul of the Red Man, held in misty doubt between the voice of the Great Spirit and that of dark goblins, is looking for light to thee! The soul of the Negro, gloomed with a thousand errors, terrified with gory rites, trembling at the suspicion of his immortality, bleeding before his Fetish, is looking for balm to thee! The soul of the Hindu, reduced to craven