Page images
PDF
EPUB

it before a tribunal incompetent to decide upon so important a question; and is, in fact, to exalt a terrestrial judge before the eternal Judge of all things. Since, however, the ancient Jews did not think it repugnant to reafon to distinguish the divine Essence into THREE Lights, assigning them names very nearly resembling those by which we denominate the three hypostases of the Christian Trinity; and since they affirm that number in God does not destroy bis unity; since, also, the system of emanations, issuing from, and returning into, the abyss of the Divinity, was so generally admitted into the theology of those pagan nations, whose sole guide in forming that theology is averred to have been the light of reason; we are justified in asserting that this doctrine, though not founded upon reason as a basis, is by no means destitute of its decided support and concurrence. The basis upon which it rests is far more noble as well as durable, DIVINE REVELATION, strengthened by the most ancient traditions, and the consenting creed of nearly all the kingdoms of the Greater Asia. This fact, already in part established, will be still more fully evinced, as we continue the progress of our investigation through that extensive quarter of the globe,

From

From India, if we direct our eyes northward to the great empires of Tangut and Thibet, and over the vast Tartarian deserts to Siberia itself, we shall find the same sentiments predominate. In the former country, if the authors quoted in Parsons's Remains of Japhet may be credited, medals, having the figure of the TRI-UNE Deity stamped upon them, are given to the people by the Dalai Lama, who unites in his own person the hierarchal and regal character, to be suspended as a holy object around their necks, or conspicuously elevated in the chapels where they perform their devotions.* It is there also asserted that the Roman missionaries, arriving in those regions, found the people already in possession of that fundamental doctrine of the true religion, which, among others, they came to impress upon their minds, and universally adoring an idol fabricated to resemble, as nearly as possible, a Trinity in Unity. Dr. Parsons is of opinion, that, as there is no record of their having had the principles of the Christian religion ever propagated among them, they could only have attained to the knowledge of that mysterious truth by means of traditional dogmas, handed down to them

Ddd , from * See Parsons's Remains of Japhet, p. 185 and 206.

[ocr errors]

from very high antiquity, which, in the course of so many revolving ages and such numerous vicissitudes as Asia has undergone, has never been obliterated from their minds, although it has been degraded by being blended with the superstitions of the neighbouring brahmins and the magi. With respect to the Tartars and Siberians, Van Strahlenburg, there cited, after remarking how universal a veneration prevails through all northern Tartary for the sacred number THREE, acquaints us that “a race of Tartars, called Jakuthi, who are idolaters, and the most numerous people of all Siberia, adore in fact only one indivisible God under three different denominations, which, in their vernacular tongue, are ARTUGON, SCHUGO-TEUGON, TANGARA;” the first of which words Colonel Grant translates Creator of all things; the second, the God of armies; and the third he renders, Amor ab utroque procedens, the Spirit of heavenly love, proceeding from the two former.

The celebrated SIBERIAN MEDAL, published by Dr. Parsons, and now deposited in the valuable cabinet of the Empress at Petersburg, on one side of which is engraved the figure of a tri-une deity, and, on the other side, certain Thibetian characters, illustrative of that

figure,

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

figure, was found in an old ruined chapel, together, with many ancient manuscripts, near the river Kemptschyk, which falls into the great river Jenisei near its head. It is composed, according to M. Van Strahlenburg, of a substance resembling terra hgillata, and is of the exact shape and size of the accompanying engraving, the border of one part of the medal being very much corroded. Of this medal Dr. Parsons's description is as follows : “ The image, which appears upon one side, and which represents a deity, is one human figure as to the body and lower extremities, but is distinguished above by three heads. The figure fits cross-legged upon a low sopha, or stool, in the manner of Eastern sovereigns: an arched urn, or fomething refembling it, is under the sopha, but seems empty. It is thought that this figure is thus made, with one body, three heads, and fix arms, from an idea prevailing among those who faa bricated it of a Trinity in Unity.”* To this account of Dr. Parsons I shall add the remark of Strahlenburg; that the people who fabricated this figure were perhaps of opinion that the first person in it, content with having created all things, rested in tranquillity: they

. Ddd 2 ... therefore * Remains of Japhet, p. 187, ubi fequent.

therefore drew him with his hands folded across, as if he had resigned all care of the . universe to the other two: and they figured out this his pre-eminence by adorning his head with a high mitre cap. The inscription on the opposite fide of the medal is in English, as follows: “ The bright and sacred image of Deity, conspicuous in three figures. Gan ther the holy purpose of God from them: love him.” The mode of expression and the alternate use of the singular and the plural noun decisively mark the real sentiments and intent of those who caused it to be thus en. graved.

Dr. Parsons describes this triple image as seated upon a low sopha, with an arched urn, or something resembling it, underneath. It is rather surprizing that our author, who was hy profession a physician, an order of men to whom one should suppose botany ought to be somewhat familiar, and a member of the Society of Antiquaries, in whose noble engraved collection the lotos perpetually appears sculptured on innumerable medallions, vases, and other precious relics of Egyptian and Afiatic antiquities, should have not discovered that the urn, or cup, alluded to, is that of the lotos. In respect to the figure itself, it is evi

dently

« PreviousContinue »