« ZurückWeiter »
our Saviour, and probably to the time of HOMER, we know very certainly; yet the celebrated poem, entitled Bhagavat, which contains a prolix account of his life, is filled with narratives of a most extraordinary kind, but strangely variegated and intermixed with poetical decorations: the incarnate deity of the Sanferit romance was cradled, as it informs us, among Herdsmen, but it adds, that he was educated among them, and paffed his youth in playing with a party of milkmaids; a tyrant, at the ' time of his birth, ordered all new-born males to be flain, yet this wonderful babe was preserved by biting the breaft, inftead of fucking the poifoned nipple, of a nurse commiffioned to kill him; he performed amazing, but ridiculous, miracles in his infancy, and, at the age of feven years, held up a mountain on the tip of his little finger he faved multitudes partly by his arms and partly by his miraculous powers; he raised the dead by descending for that purpose to the lowest regions; he was the meekeft and beft-tempered of beings, wafhed the feet of the Brahmans, and preached very nobly, indeed, and fublimely, but always in their favour; he was pure and chafte in reality, but exhibited an appearance of exceffive libertinism, and had wives or miftreffes too numerous to be counted; laftly, he was benevolent and tender, yet fo
mented and conducted a terrible war. motley story muft induce an opinion that the fpurious Gofpels, which abounded in the first age of Chriftianity, had been brought to India, and the wildest parts of them repeated to the Hindus, who ingrafted them on the old fable of CE'SAVA, the APOLLO of Greece.
As to the general extenfion of our pure faith in Hinduftán, there are at present many fad obstacles to it. The Mufelmáns are already a fort of heterodox Chriftians: they are Chriftians, if LOCKE reasons juftly, because they firmly believe the immaculate conception, divine character, and miracles of the MESSIAH; but they are heterodox, in denying vehemently his character of Son, and his equality, as God, with the Father, of whofe unity and attributes they entertain and express the most awful ideas; while they confider our doctrine as perfect blafphemy, and infift, that our copies of the Scriptures have been corrupted both by Jews and Chriftians. It will be inexpreffibly difficult to undeceive them, and scarce poffible to diminish their veneration for MOHAMMED and ALI, who were both very extraordinary men, and the second, a man of unexceptionable morals: the Koràn fhines, indeed, with a borrowed light, fince moft of its beauties are taken from our Scrip
tures; but it has great beauties, and the Muselmáns will not be convinced that they were borrowed. The Hindus on the other hand would readily admit the truth of the Gofpel; but they contend, that it is perfectly confiftent with their Sáftras: the deity, they fay, has appeared innumerable times, in many parts of this world and of all worlds, for the falvation of his creatures; and though we adore him in one appearance, and they in others, yet we adore, they fay, the fame God, to whom our several worfhips, though different in form, are equally acceptable, if they be fincere in substance. We may affure ourselves, that neither Mufelmáns nor Hindus will ever be converted by any miffion from the Church of Rome, or from any other church; and the only human mode, perhaps, of caufing fo great a revolution will be to tranflate into Sanferit and Perfian fuch chapters of the Prophets, particularly of ISAIAH, as are indifputably Evangelical, together with one of the Gospels, and a plain prefatory discourse containing full evidence of the very diftant ages, in which the predictions themselves, and the hiftory of the divine perfon predicted, were feverally made publick; and then quietly to difperfe the work among the well-educated natives; with whom if in due time it failed of producing
very falutary fruit by its natural influence, we could only lament more than ever the strength of prejudice, and the weakness of unaffifted reafon.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
Printed by T. DAVISON,