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1 Mahomet was obliged to propagate his doctrines by
sensual indulgence and the terror of the sword; but being conscious that the Bible, from which he endeavoured to frame his system, did not allow of any thing like sensual indulgence, and finding that a system of self-denial was not calculated to give him popularity, he adopted many of the Pagan rites, and also gave permission to indulge in sensual pleasure. Therefore, he promised that every good Mahometan, who died fighting for his religion, should possess a multiplicity of wives, beautiful as the Houries, and that all who thus fell should be immediately translated to paradise.
The Mahometan is the established religion of Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, Morocco, Fez, Algiers, Tripoli, Barca, Nubia, Natolia, Turcomania, Georgia and Turkey in Europe.
Caliph was the sacred supreme ecclesiastical title, among the Saracens. They are said to have such a relationship to Mahomet, as the popes are said, by the Roman Catholics, to have to Christ and St. Peter. This is one of the titles of the Grand Seignior, which he is under the necessity of adopting, as the successor of Mahomet. The ancient Caliphs were priests as well as kings; they led the pilgrims to Mecca, and went forth with their armies, after the custom of the ancient eastern monarchs, before their time; and being the premier priest of the mussulmen, he read the public prayers every Friday, in the great mosque, or church. This custom, however, is not attended to ; for the labour of the Caliphs having been laid aside for the supineness of the Sultan, a high priest, called the Mufti, fills his religious office, and another minister, styled the Grand Vizier, leads the army to battle. But the Zerif of Mecca, in Arabia, is the great pontiff of the Mahometan religion,
who, to support the ancient order, is allowed to be a nominal, temporal, as well as an acknowledged spiritual, prince. His temporal authority, however, only extends over a part of Arabia, for which he pays tribute to the Grand Seignior.
The government of the Caliphs was continued from · the 655th year of the Hegira, i. e. the flight of Mahomet,
when the Tartars took Bagdat, their capital city ; and, from this period, the Sultan appointed the ecclesiastical officer, called the Mufti. Their priests are called Imans ; their monks, Dervises, who are very abstemious; and they have eight religious orders. As much as possible, they oblige every one to acknowledge, or profess, the Mahometan religion; it is true, that they allow the professors of the Christian religion, who are of the Greek church, as also the Jews, the liberty of their own worship: but they are under the necessity of paying tribute for that privilege ; and they are treated with a degree of contempt, both in the intercourse of society, and in their legal acts.
The Mahometans go once a year from Cairo, on a pilgrimage to Mecca. It is not only one of the most numerous caravans, but it is one of the richest in the east. Frequently not less than fifty thousand persons compose the caravan. The priests who perform the journey to Mecca, they call saints, and grant them great privileges. In the city of Fez, the capital of the emperor of Morocco, there are near one thousand mosques, fifty of which are built in a most magnificent style, supported by marble pillars. The circumference of the grand mosque is near a mile and a half, in which near a thousand lamps are lighted every night.
As some of the doctrines of the Mahometan religion agree with the scriptures, we must therefore expect to
find many things nearly the same as are contained in them. They believe, that at the last day, “ the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised;" that the angel Michael shall weigh the souls of men; that there is a separate state between heaven and hell, or a purgatory; that to have images in their temples is idolatry; that the new moon ought to be saluted reverentially ; that polygamy is allowable ; that a pilgrimage is to be made to Mecca every year, after the manner of the males to Jerusalem. All which are taken from the Bible, and modified so as to attach the sensuality of his votaries.
They also believe the doctrine of fate as to things of this world, but admit that all who live good lives will be sayed.
THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
We now come to treat of those things, sacred to every christian. When, to fulfil the ancient promise, that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" Messiah, the Redeemer of the world, left the glory of the Father, which he had with him before the world was ; became man for our salvation, [at whose coming the sacrifices appointed to be observed under the Mosaic dispen-. sation were to cease for ever] and promulgated the truths of our holy religion.
The fundamental principles of the Christian religion, appear, from what is said by our Lord, and his disciples, to consist in repentance, faith, and uprightness of life; love to God, and charity to man. Here is the groundwork on which the spiritual temple is to be raised for the reception of heaven in man; “ye are the temple nt
God.” “Repentance whereby we forsake sin, and faith whereby we steadfastly believe the promises of God," which, if it be a genuine faith, will produce a life in conformity thereto, “a conscience void of offence towards God, and towards man.”
Unlike all the churches which preceded, the Christian church was not to be a representative church ; no types, no figures, were necessary, when the great Foundcr of our religion made his appearance. He came to abolish the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Jews, which were all representatives of him the great sacrifice; and to show man, that the sacrifice of a “ broken and of a contrite spirit,” operating in a life agreeably to the i commands of God, is the most acceptable sacrifice to him. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams ? or with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” This is summed up in those ever-memorable words of the Christian's Redeemer, which comprehend the substance of true religion. Matt. xxii. 37. 39. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind : Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
It is not my intention to amuse the reader, by entering into the vast field of notions and opinions, which in the early ages of the Christian church obtained credit among a few unsettled and intemperate men ; it would be a loss of time, without answering any valuable end.
I shall, therefore, be as brief as possible in giving an account of the sects of lesser note; but with regard to those which made a more conspicuous figure, I shall endeavour to be more particular.
There are four religions in the world: viz. the Jewish, the Christian, the Mahometan, and the Pagan.
It is allowed that the world contains eight hundred millions of souls; having for)their rule of faith, THREE books, which are esteemed as revelations of the divine will. First: Those who receive the sacred Scriptures. Second : The Mahometans, who receive the Koran. Third: The Pagans, who have their own writings. One hundred and eighty three millions only are CHRISTIANS. One hundred and thirty millions are MAHOMETANS. Three millions are Jews; and most painful is it to say, that the remainder, amounting to four hundred and eighty seven millions, are PAGANS.
Christianity divides itself into THREE professions. The first in order is,
The Eastern church, by which we understand the
2d. The church of Rome. ,
Among professors of Christianity, there are THREE different opinions concerning church government. Episcopalian, that which is governed by bishops ; Presbyterian, i. e. governed by a body of elders; and that of the Independents, who are neither subject to bishops, assemblies, nor presbyteries.
There are THREE sects, holding different opinions respecting the object of divine worship. The Trinitarians, the Arians, and the Unitarians. There also exists a great difference of opinion among the complex body, as to the means by which salvation is given to men: