« הקודםהמשך »
ed; that spirit study to know; that spirit is the
Is there any thing in all this very different from what we witness in the Christian world? The idolatry of one people is more open, in another more disguised ; but the same thing intrinsically prevails—the same principles are apparent throughout the human family. Just so far as men come to know God manifested in their own flesh, they cease to make idols. The flesh and blood of Jesus is an idol; some sects make a visible image of it; others, one in the mind, and call it their Saviour, when it is no more so, than the crocodiles of Egypt, or the sun that is worshipped in Hindostan.
The propriety of image worship was long a matter of dispute in the early ages of Christendom-the overthrow of images was attempted in vain. Among the first that was attacked, was a brazen statue of Jesus—the ladders that were raised against it, were thrown down; and it was declared that minor sins could be more easily pardoned, than failing of prostration at the shrine of the saints.
We witness the same feelings at the present day, in all the sects of Christians; an outcry of
See Letters on India, by Maria Graham.
Deism, is raised against any one who refuses to bow to a visible Christ; and the language of conduct every where speaks to us—" we will overlook your minor sins, but you must subscribe to our forms and bow down to our images.” And yet these sects are composed of men, who, blinded to their own idolatry, undertake the overthrow of that of other nations !
There must be idolatry where the true God is unknown; from the same cause the same ef. fect proceeds; and all the profession in the world cannot change it: men may acknowledge the spirituality of the Christian religion, but this can no more turn them from idolatry, than it can dry up the waters of the ocean: as the tree so will be the fruit; the aspect may be different, but the reality is the same; and whether it manifests itself in worshipping the sun, moon, or stars, the beasts of the field or the fowls of the air, in depending upon a body of flesh and blood, upon the Bible, or any other thing; it is alike idolatry. Nay every hope that is placed upon them is a robbery of God. The conclu. sion will naturally be, by those who believe these sentiments, that idolatry is deeply rooted among men, and such is surely the fact: but I only write truths, which have been made manifest in my own mind, without judging or condemning
any man or set of men. With their sins I have nothing to do.
There is a state of existence, in which there is no looking to the creature, to find the Cre. ator.
“ From Nature up to Nature's God." But the power of God is first, then the creatures, and this is not idolatry.
But to return to my subject, with all the superiority that Christians assume, we meet with no one sect of them, whose principles come up to the high standard recorded of Plato, the hea. then philosopher, and his followers, of “ loving God for his own sake.” Go into those houses called places of worship, and listen to the discourses which are delivered ; almost every sermon begins and ends in selfishness; if happiness can be attained all is well; so that I am sometime's ready to believe, that the mouth which now blesses would curse if Heaven was to be reached thereby ; they attempt to make conditions with their Maker; and quote as true religion the sentiment which is recorded of Jacob. “ If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.” Gen. xviii. 20, 21.
Men may use language different from what they exactly mean, but if we credit what our preachers say, we cannot believe that they realize à pure disinterested love of God, but that in their view the prize of eternal life is to sway the virtue of men.
Let us query whether real virtue can spring from self love? whether any thing can deserve the name which is founded either on the hopes of reward or the fear of punishment? It is well known that in weighing actions between men, nothing is considered pure but what springs from a disinterested motive.
I have already alluded to the Hindoo scriptures, and though their pages contain things which cannot be identified with pure religion, and which taken literally, have, like our own Bible, given rise to the most absurd practices; yet many passages which I have seen quoted from them, upon the subject under considera. tion, show great purity of doctrine respecting it. I select the following.
“ Works performed, except for the sake of God, only entangle the soul. Therefore, O Urjoon, forsaking desire, perform works with a view to please God.”
“ The person who performs works without desire of fruition, directing his mind to God,
obtains eternal rest, and the person who is devoted to fruition, and performs works with desire, he is indeed inextricably involved.”
“ Oh Urjoon, rites performed for the sake of fruition, are degraded far below works done without desire, which lead to the acquisition of the knowledge of God. Therefore, perform thou works without desire of fruition, with a view of acquiring divine knowledge. Those who perform works for the sake of fruition, are most debased.”
“ It is my firm opinion, that works are to be performed, forsaking their consequences, and the prospect of their fruits."*
It is stated, that one of the most virtuous women of latter times, declared, that she was as ready to go to Hell as to Heaven, if that was consistent with the Divine will! in her the re. compense of reward, was absorbed in her per. fect love of her heavenly Father, and confidence that whatever was dispensed to her would be right; and this is the state of every truly redeemed mind. It is not a state of simple resignation, but a state of confidence, in which resignation is at an end, because there is nothing to resign. Other ancient philosophers besides Plato, taught this pure doctrine of perfect confi.
* Second Conference, p. 6 and 7.