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brought by imagination nearer to man, were invested with the human form, and actuated by human passions. The poets completed what the minds of the community had begun, and nothing remained to the deities of the elements in which they arose, except the emblems of them. The power of heaven still retained his thunderbolt, and the power of the sea his earth-shaking trident. W. The complicated superstitions of the Gentiles were, in many nations, rendered more intricate and perplexing by the institution of a numerous hereditary priesthood. This is one cause of the difference between the mythology of Greece and of several nations of the east. Where mythology was nursed by poetry, it became plastic and imaginative also ; where it was modelled by the priesthood, it was dark, cumbrous, and over-wrought with emblems. The system of hieroglyphics added both to the number and to the fantastic and monstrous shapes of the Egyptian idols. To the priesthood may also be traced the existence of an inner and of an outer religion; gross superstitions presented to the vulgar, and more refined mysteries reserved for the initiated. Amongst simple tribes, where there is no regular priesthood, there is nothing complex in the rites of worship, and little consistency in the scheme of belief; their temples and images are rude and unfrequent; they worship nature when visible and present to their senses, and make scarcely any use of representative symbols. These are introduced with temples, and are necessary in a service no longer carried on in the face of nature. These emblems, when once introduced, are continually increasing in numbers and complexity, and are mistaken by the people for new deities; while the hereditary priesthood preserve among themselves the reasons for which these varied representations were contrived. The priesthood seem always to have been aware of the origin of hero worship, and of the political motives on account of which their deceased kings and legislators were admitted among the number of the gods.
It was through the priests of Egypt that the Grecian travellers learned that the adoration of the heavenly bodies was the original worship of that country as well as of the other nations of antiquity; and several reformers of Polytheism seemed desirous to have brought back the superstitions of their country to the primitive model. On this plan most of their idols would have been discarded, the homage paid to dead men would have been restricted, and the sun, moon, and stars would have been considered as supreme, and alone truly divine. This is probably the utmost that the largest and most enlightened minds among the Gentiles, and who most lamented the immorality of their mythology, and the corruption of their principles, would have done for the mass of their countrymen; though those who were initiated in the mysteries were instructed (in an erroneous and confused sense), in the unity of the Divine Being. The mysteries appear to have consisted in communicating to a certain portion of the population those views which the priesthood, and the legislators who had been initiated by the priesthood, entertained upon the religion and the superstition of their country, Unfettered by the rites and fables which they were inculcating upon others, and abounding in leisure and tranquillity, the sacred caste of Egypt, Chaldea, and India, appear to have laid the first foundations of speculative philosophy. They had enlarged the worship of the sun into the adoration of the universal fire, or active principle which pervades existence. They considered nature not in detached parts, guided by a variety of different minds, but as one immense whole actuated by one common soul, of which other minds were but portions and emanations. Thus, in the Orphic hymns which, if not so ancient as once supposed, yet retrace very ancient opinions, a complete identity is asserted between the most dissimilar deities; to the eyes of the initiated all the gods are blended into one, and Jupiter, Juno, and Neptune, with the rest, like mere phantoms of mist and transient exhalations, break and dissolve into the original and allpervading Mind. The souls of men they considered as rays from that Mind, imprisoned in dark earthly
bodies, which could only escape and recover their former liberty by keeping themselves pure from the contamination of matter. This doctrine, though dimly and imperfectly traced out, seems to have given the first notion of purgatory, so beautifully developed by Virgil, and so profitably maintained by the church of Rome. Thus the unity of the Deity, and the purification, along with the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, formed the prominent topics in the ancient mysteries. VI. As the priesthood had an outward and inward religion, so the philosophers had an outward and an inward philosophy. Philosophy began exactly at the point where the more refined systems of superstition ended. The earliest corruptions of religion consisted in assigning animating principles, or souls, to the elements, and the separate portions of nature. The later, and more elaborate superstition of the priesthood was founded on the belief of one universal soul actuating the whole of nature. From this point the earliest speculations of Grecian philosophy commenced; at least that branch of it which was derived from the Egyptian. Thales, and his successors, held a mundane soul, that is, a soul immersed in matter, and actuating it from within; and it was not till the time of Anaxagoras that the doctrine of a supramundane soul was maintained, that is, of a soul actuating matter from without, unconfined, impassive, and immaterial. Hitherto two principles were admitted in nature, independent, self-originating, and ever-existing, Matter and Mind. But the higher philosophy of the east went a step further, and simplifying the theory of existence, admitted but one original principle,_ Mind, of which Matter was the dark and degenerate offspring; Mind being the bright centre and fount of all things, but becoming gross and dim as it flowed at a distance from its source. This system of emanation prevailed over the east, and was introduced amongst the Greeks by Pythagoras. In his school it underwent some slight modifications; till at last, among the elder Eleatic sect, it passed into a still higher system, that of strict Pantheism, which not only does not admit of more than one principle, but excludes any other being than what arises from visionary and deceptive appearances, excepting only the one absolute and universal existence. Pantheism again passed into transcendental atheism, and became similar to many systems which still prevail in the east. The one existence being considered as above the reach of our comprehension, and being every way infinite, is affirmed to be without attributes and modifications, and thus to have as little affinity with mind as with matter. Hence the first cause has been termed an infinite