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them to pass between two fires for purification, as some think, but by burning them in the manner of a whole burntoffering. Psal. cvi. 36–38. “And they served their idols which were a snare unto them: yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan, and the land was polluted with blood.' Almost the whole world, during the times of that ignorance which God winked at, paid court to the devil. Since then, it is abundantly evident, from these sacrifices, by what a sense of vindicatory justice, horror of punishment, and consciousness of sin, mankind are constrained: we must enlarge a little on the consideration of them.
Tacitus speaking of the Germans, says, 'Of the gods, they chiefly worship Mercury, to whom, on certain days, they hold it as an article of religion and piety to sacrifice human victims : Mars, they have always been accustomed to appease by a most cruel worship; for his victims were the deaths of the captives.' Jornandes affirms the same of the Goths. And thus Lucan writes in his siege of Marseilles;
Here the sacred rites of the gods are barbarous in their manner; altars are built for deadly ceremonies, and every tree is purified by human blood.'
And the same author, in the sixth book, from his Precepts of Magic, has these verses.
Vulnere si ventris, &c. • If contrary to nature, the child be extracted through à wound in the belly, to be served up on the hot altars.'
Virgil bears witness that such sacrifices were offered to Phoebus or the Sun. Æneid x.
Next Lycas fell; who not like others born,
Sacred, 0 Phæbus! from his birth to thee.-Dryden's VIRGIL. But Acosta asserts, that infants are sacrificed, even at this very time, to the Sun, in Cuscum, the capital of Peru.
And thus the Scriptures testify, 2 Kings xvii. 29–31.
• Howbeit, every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places, which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima; and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim.'
Ditmarus, in his first book, testifies, that the Normans and Danes sacrificed yearly, in the month of January, to their gods, ninety-nine human creatures, as many horses, besides dogs and cocks.' But what Procopius, on the Gothic war writes, is truly astonishing, viz. 'that the Francs.made use of human victims in his time, even though they then worshipped Christ.' Alas! for such a kind of Christianity. The practices of the Tyrians, Carthaginians, and Egyptians, in this respect, are known to every one.
And Theodoret says, “that in Rhodes, some person was sacrificed to Saturn, on the sixteenth of the calends of November, which, after having been for a long time observed, became a custom. And they used to reserve one of those who had been capitally condemned till the feast of Saturn.'
Porphyry, 'on Abstinence from Animals,' relates the customs of the Phænicians concerning this matter. The Phænicians,' says he, in great disasters, either by wars, or commotions, or pestilence, used to sacrifice one of their dearest friends, or relations, to Saturn, devoted to this fate by the common suffrages. They were called Phænicians, from the word φοίνιξ, which signifes a red colour ; φοίνιξ, according to Eustathius, is from póvos, which signifies blood; thence the colour called porvikos, or the purple colour. Hence, the learned conjecture, that the Phænicians were the descendants of Esau or Edom, whose name also signifies red, and from whom also the Red Sea was named. Edom, then poīvix and įpvpatos, mean the same, viz. red. Why may we not then conjecture, that the Phænicians or Idumæans, were first led to this custom, from some corrupt tradition concerning the sacrificing of Isaac, the father of Esau, the leader and head of their nation. This, at least, makes for the conjecture, that while other nations sacrificed enemies or strangers, Porphyry bears witness that they sacrificed one of their dearest friends or relations. But Isaac
Concerning the Tyrians, see Curtius, book fourth ; and concerning the Carthaginians, see Diodorus, book twentieth.
was not to Abraham one of the dearest, but the only dear
From such corrupt traditions as these, it is not to be wondered, that the consciences of men, struck with a fear of punishment, should have been encouraged to persevere in so cruel and superstitious a worship.
Concerning the ancient Gauls, we have the most creditable evidences, Cicero, and Julius Cæsar; the former of whom charges them with the practice of offering human sacrifices, as a horrid crime, and certain evidence of their contempt of Deity. The other, however, commends them on this
very account, on the score of a more severe religion. 'If at any time induced by fear, they think it necessary that the gods should be appeased, they defile their altars and temples with human victims; as if they could not practice religion, without first violating it by their wickedness. For who does not know, that even at this day, they retain that savage and barbarous custom of sacrificing human beings; thinking that the immortal gods can be appeased by the blood and wickedness of man.' Cicero
Cicero pro Fonteio. But Cæsar, the conqueror of the Gauls, gives us a very different account of these kind of sacrifices; this nation,' says he,
of all the Gauls, is most devoted to religious observances ; and for that reason, those who labour under any grievous distemper, or who are conversant in dangers and battles, either sacrifice human victims, or vow that they will sacrifice them, and they employ the Druids as the conductors of such sacrifices; for they have an opinion that, unless a human life be given for a human life, the heavenly deities cannot be appeased. These last words seem to me to acknowledge a persuasion that must have arisen from some ancient tradition about the substitution of the Son of Man, in the stead of sinners, as a propitiation for sin.
No doubt can be entertained concerning the inhabitants of Britain, but that they were guilty of the same practices; for from them came the Druids, the first promoters of that superstition, not only in the Gauls, but even in Italy, and in the city of Rome itself. The doctrine of the Druids,' says Cæsar, 'is thought to have been found in Britain, and brought thence into Gaul : and now such as are desirous to examine more particularly into that matter, generally go thither for the sake of information.' Book vi. of the wars
in Gaul. But Tacitus informs us with what kind of sacrifices they performed their divine services there, in the fourteenth book of his annals. When the island of Anglesea was conquered by Paulinus, a guard, sảys he, 'was placed over the vanquished, and the groves devoted to cruel superstitions were hewn down (the same was done by Cæsar in the siege of Marseilles ; Lucan, book third); for it was an article of their religion to sacrifice their captives on the altars, and to consult their gods by human entrails.' Hence that verse in Horace.
Visam Britannos hospitibus feros.
I will visit the Britons cruel to strangers. At which remote place," the Britons used to sacrifice their guests for victims; yea, even in Rome itself, as Plutarch, in his life of Marcellus testifies, they buried, by order of the high-priests, "a man and woman of Gaul, and a man and woman of Greece,' alive in the cattle market, to avert some calamity by such a fatal sacrifice. Whether this was done yearly, as some think, I am rather inclined to doubt.
Of the same kind was the religion of the Decii, devoting themselves for the safety of the city. Hence a suspicion arose, and was every where rumoured among the Gentiles concerning the sacred rites of the Jews, with which they were unacquainted, viz. that they were wont to be solemnized with human sacrifices. For although after the destruction of the temple, it was manifest that they worshipped the God of heaven only, yet so long as they celebrated the secret mysteries appointed them by God, Josephus against Appio bears witness, that they laboured under the infamy of that horrible crime, viz. of sacrificing human victims, among those who were unacquainted with the Jewish polity; where he also recites, from the same Appio, a most ridiculous fiction about a young Greek captive, being delivered by Antiochus, when he impiously spoiled the temple, after having been fed there on a sumptuous diet for the space of a year, that he might make the fatter a victim.
A custom that prevailed with some, not unlike this untruth about the young Greek kept in the temple, seems to have given rise to it. For thus Diodorus, in book v. writes of the Druids, They fix up their malefactors upon poles, after having kept them five years (it seems they fattened much slower than at Jerusalem), and sacrifice them to their gods; and with other first-fruits of the year, offer them on large funeral piles.' Theodoret also mentions something of that kind concerning the Rhodians, in the first book of the Greek Affections ;' the words have been mentioned before.
b Viz. Anglesea.
But that young Greek, destined for sacrifice, in Appio, has no name; that is, there never was any such
Pope'se Homer's Odyssey, book. viii. But after having prepared the plot, he ought not to have shunned the task of giving names to the actors. We have the name of a Persian sacrificed even among the Thracians, in Herodotus, book ix. • The Thracians of Apsinthium,' says he, “having seized Oiobazus flying into Thrace, sacrificed him after their custom to Pleistorus, the god of the country.'
There is still remaining, if I rightly remember, the name of a Spanish soldier, a captive with other of his companions among the Mexicans, well known inhabitants of America, who being sacrificed on a very high altar to the gods of the country, when his heart was pulled out, if we can credit Peter Martyr, author of the History of the West Indies, tumbling down upon the sand, exclaimed, 'O companions, they have murdered me.' Clemens of Alexandria makes mention of Theopompus, a king of the Lacedemonians, being sacrificed by Aristomenes the Messenian. His words, which elegantly set forth this custom of all the nations, we shall beg leave to trouble the reader with : ‘But now, when they had invaded all states and nations as plagues (he is speaking of dæmons) they demanded cruel sacrifices; and one Aristomenes, a Messenian, slew three hundred in honour of Ithometan Jupiter, thinking that he sacrificed so many hecatombs in due form, and of such a kind. Among these, too, was Theopompus, king of the Lacedemonians, an illustrious victim. But the inhabitants of Mount Taurus, who dwell about the Tauric Chersonese, instantly sacrifice
e The words in the original apply much better to our author's meaning. See them, Odyss. lib. viii. v. 550.