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his belief: indeed his declaration
may sidered as the proof of his faith; and his faith to be grounded in proportion to the openness of his declaration. That
reasoner could convince him, that Moses had borrowed his narrative from Indian sources, he never for a moment supposed, and if a doubt could be entertained on this subject, another parfage in the same dissertation must at once annihilate it. He had indeed no hefitation to acknowledge his persuasion, that a connection fubfisted between the old idolatrous nations of Egypt, India, Greece, and Italy, long before they migrated to their several settlements, and consequently before the birth of Moses; but he was equally persuaded, that the truth of the proposition could in no degree affect the veracity and fanctity of the Mosaic history, which, if
confirmation of it were necessary, it would rather tend to confirm.
“ The divine legate (I now quote his words) « educated by the daughter of a king, and in « all respects highly accomplished, could not “but know the mythological system of Egypt,
6 but he must have condemned the fuperftia
tions of that people, and despised the specu“ lative absurdities of their priests, though « some of their traditions concerning the crea“tion and the flood, were founded on truth. “ Who was better acquainted with the mytho
logy of Athens, than Socrates? who more
accurately versed in the rabbinical doctrines, “than Paul? Who possessed clearer ideas of “all ancient astronomical systems, than New
ton; or of scholastic metaphysicks, than « Locke? In whom could the Romish Church “ have had a more formidable opponent, than “ in Chillingworth, whose deep knowledge of “ its tenets rendered him fo competent to dif“ pute them? In a word, who more exactly “ knew the abominable rites and shocking
idolatry of Canaan, than Moses himnself? Yet " the learning of those great men only incited " them to seek other sources of truth, piety, “ and virtue, than those in which they had és
long been immersed. There is no shadow " then of a foundation for an opinion, that " Mofes borrowed the first nine or ten chap
es ters of Genesis from the literature of Egypt; “ still less can the adamantine pillars of our « Christian faith be moved by the result of any “ debates on the comparative antiquity of the “ Hindus and Egyptians, or of any enquiries « into the Indian theology.”
From the fame dissertation I select an. other passage, which from its importance is entitled to particular notice, while it evinces the solicitude of Sir William Jones to correct a mise conception, which, in my opinion, has been idly and injudiciously brought forward to support a fundamental tenet of Evangelical Revelation.
Very respectable natives have assured mé, " that one or two missionaries have been ab“ furd enough, in their zeal for the conversion “ of the Gentiles, to urge, that the Hindus
were even now almost Christians, because “ their Bramha, Vishnu, and Mahesa, were “ no other than the Christian Trinity; a sen
tence in which we can only doubt whether folly, ignorance, or impiety, predominates.” The three Hindu deities, were perhaps ori
ginally personifications only of the creating, preserving, and destroying, or, as it may be understood, the re-producing power of the Supreme Being. By the bulk of the people they are considered as distinct personages, each invested with divine attributes; and the mythological writings of the Hindus contain most ample and absurd histories of them ; but in the Vedanti philosophy, which is evidently Flatonic, the Almighty, known by the mystical and incommunicable appellation of O'M, is the only being, and all others, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa, are only the creatures of idea or perception, which will perish in the general annihilation, whilft O'M alone survives through all eternity*. Thus,
* On this subject, I shall take the liberty to quote some curious passages from a translation of a Persic version of the Yoog Vashesti, a very ancient composition in Sanscrit. There are several Persian versions of this work; but many pages of that from which the present translation is given, were compared with the original Sanscrit, and found to be substantially accurate.
“ The instability of the world, and of every thing con“ tained in it, is certain; hence it will one day happen, that “the evil deities who are now so powerful, shall fall into " annihilation, and the Debtas distinguished by the title Life--V. II.
whether we consider the vulgar opinion respecting these three divinities, or that of the Vedanti sect, nothing (to use the words of Sir William Jones) can be more evident, than s that the Indian triad, and that of Plato, " which he calls the Supreme Good, the reason “ and the soul, are infinitely removed from the
“of Anrrit, or immortal, shall perish. The Bermhand,
on which all nature depends for existence, shall be “ broken, and not a trace remain of Bramha, Vishnu, or “ Sivá. Time, having annihilated all, shall himself perish.
“ Bramha, Vishnu, and Mahdeva, notwithstanding “their exalted dignity, fall into the jaws of inexistence.
“ You are not to consider Vishnu, Bramha, or Mahdeva, and other incorporate beings as the deity, although they « have each the denomination of deva or divine; these are * all created, whilst the Supreme Being is without begin« ning crend, unformed and increated---worshipand adore
“The worship which is paid to the inferior deities and - the representations of them, proceeds from this: man"kind in general are more affected by appearances than “realities; the former they comprehend, but the latter
are difficult to be understood. Hence learned tutors « first place figures before them, that their minds may be
composed, and conducted by degrees to the essential
Unity who survives the annihilation, when the Debtas, « and all created existence are dissolved and absorbed into “ his essence.”