« IndietroContinua »
of Canaan, to add majesty and dignity to the pages of the immortal Iliad.
It is also said in the mythology, that “ Hercules and Bacchus made an expedition to India ;" but as we know nothing concerning such an expedition being made by Moses and Joshua, to that part of the world which we ... call India ; this seems to set aside all that has been said, to prove, that the ancient Hercules and Bacchus, were Joshua and Moses. We shall, however, easily get over this difficulty, by proving that the land of Canaan was anciently called India.
Vossius* says, “ the ancients called all parts eastward of the Mediterranean sea, India.” This also appears from Ovid,f who says, “ Perseus brought Andromeda from India.” But Perseus did not bring his wife Andromeda from modern India, but from Joppa, a town in the land of Canaan, according to Strabo. Therefore it is evident, that the expedition which Hercules and Bacchus. are said to have made to India, will perfectly agree with the expedition of Moses and Joshua, to the land of Canaan. All these things prove to a demonstration, that the characters of the heathen gods, (so called) as well as the materials for framing the mythology, were taken by the compilers of the religion of the Greeks, from the ancient pages of the bible.
* De Idolat. lib. 1. c. 26.
† de arte Amandi.
I lib. 1.
THE WORSHIP OF THE ANCIENT ROMANS
Was, in its origin, much the same as that of the an(cient Grecians ; for they believed that Jupiter, i. e. Jao
pater, or Jehovah the father, (as above) was the supreme of all the gods. Like the Greeks, to him they assigned all the attributes of the God of heaven; but to their subordinate gods, or rulers, they assigned a dominion only over certain things. Juno, over plenty and riches ; Venus, beauty ; Minerva, wisdom ; Vesta, the earth ; Ceres, corn ; Diana, hunting ; Mars, war ; Mercury, eloquence ; Vulcan, fire ; Apollo, physic; Neptune, the sea ; Janus, kusbandry; Bacchus, wine ; and Saturn, time. These were their subordinate gods, or governors ; for this word was originally given to men among the Romans, as El. hoim was among the Hebrews.
These subordinate gods, in their origin, were only men who had the government, or chief management of all those departments of the state, signified by the name so given. Thus they would call among us, a secretary at war, MARS; the lord chancellor, being at the head of the department for eloquence, MERCURY ; the first lord of the admiralty, NEPTUNE, who assumes the dominion of the sea ; the president of the college of physic, APOLLO ; the president of the board of agriculture, Janus, because he is presumed to attend particularly to the encouragement of husbandry. This latter was strikingly significant; for at the beginning of the year, he is described with two faces; with one face on the first of January, (which
comes from Janus,) he looked forward to the new year, ( while at the same time he looked back with the other
face on the good or bad management of the agriculture
of the old year; they therefore symbolically prefigured him with a second face, at the back of the head. The ranger of the forests, Diana ; the board of commissioners for the land-tax, VESTA; the primate of England, MINERVA, i. e. wisdom, because he is at the head of the ecclesiastical department, for the regulation of the whole, and the promulgation of religion, which must be allowed to teach the only true wisdom. The society for the suppression of vice, Venus, because among the wise ancients, virtue only was considered to constitute true beauty. The manager of the corn department, CERES ; the commissioner to regulate the importation of wines, and the regulator of the vineyards in countries where the vintage is produced, BACCHUS ; the first lord of the treasury, Juno; the army, by which the whole order is defended, Vulcan; because by fire, arms for the defence of the country are forged; and time, SATURN; because by time, all these things were brought to perfection.
It appears sufficiently evident, that the sacrificial worship of the Hebrews, was in a great measure adopted by the ancient Romans. In their mythology, a bull was the proper sacrifice to Jupiter; the same animal was -appointed in the sacrifice for a peace-offering to God, Exod. xxix. 1. Shur, in Hebrew, which means a bull, is rendered, a bullock, and in other places, an ox ; but as nothing mutilated was permitted to be offered in sacritice, it should have been rendered bull, as it is in the mythology. An oak in the mythology was said to be sacred to Jupiter: so the patriarchs worshipped God, in sak groves, and under oak trees, in allusion to its durability above all other trees; and so by it they emblematically represented the eternity of God.
They also sacrificed other animals to Jupiter, which were commanded to be sacrificed among the Hebrews,
as well as the bull. Such as the ram, the goat, the lamb, the dove. By an eagle, the king of birds, they represented the majesty and supremacy of God. The cock was with them assigned to the sun, which was taken from the testament, where he is noticed by Christ, on account of his peculiar property, by which he gives notice of the various watches of the night.
Mourning women were hired by them to mourn for, and sing the virtues of the deceased ; and it was accounted the greatest of all misfortunes that could befal them, the greatest of all punishments, if at any time, they were in danger of being denied the honour of burial. These customs were also taken from the ancient Hebrews, Jer. xxii. 18, 19. “ Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah Lord ! or Ah his glory! He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
In the time of Numa, the worship of the Romans appears to have been more consistent with reason, and the religion of the bible, than it was in after-ages. One of their offerings consisted of corn and cakes, besprinkled with salt, which was similar to the offerings among the Hebrews. The vestals, afterwards called nuns, were chosen to perform certain services in their temples. This custom began with the daughter of Jephthah, who was not sacrificed, but agreeably to his vow, was appointed to a certain office in the temple. This, according to the language of Jephthah, when he said, shall be the Lord's, meant, that she should be dedicated to the Lord, by leaving all worldly concerns, and by devoting her whole life to the service of God in the temple.
Such was the high opinion the ancient Romans entertained concerning chastity, that if any of these vestal virgins were known to commit fornication, they were buried alive.
The priests of Jupiter, were originally twelve, according to the number of the twelve tribes of the Hebrews. They also had a high priest, a sovereign pontiff, who, like Aaron, had the supreme government of all things, appertaining to religion ; and whose opinion was conclusive. So sacred did they hold the office of their great pontiff, that any criminal who fled to him for protection, if his crime had merited death, obtained a res. pite for a considerable time, and if the crime was not capital, he frequently escaped punishment. This custom was taken from the bible, where we read that the cities of refuge were appointed for the man-slayer.
Varro, and other writers inform us, that there were above thirty thousand different idols worshipped in Euprope; that a god was assigned to every thing in nature ; as to the sun, moon, stars, oceans, gulfs, straits, lakes, rivers, mountains, trees, plants : also to all the passions and affections of man, good and evil: to which, like the descendants of the ancient Grecians, they paid divine honours. But Varro, and other writers, who have given us this information, have confined themselves to the idolatry of the Romans, as it was practiced at the time of the dispersion of the Jews; at which period, pagan idolatry was the profession of the whole Roman empire. Had they given us an account of the origin of the multitudinous worship, which, by the authority of the Roman goyernment, was the established worship over Europe at the coming of Christ, they would have informed us, that the most ancient Romans attributed the minute affairs of man, and all the operations of nature, in all her variety