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safely ascribe the origin of eulogies. These hymns were inspired by admiration and gratitude. Man, in his primæval state, on contemplating the magnificent canopy of Heaven, the boundless immensity of the waters, the deep gloom of the forests, the endless variety and richness of the fields, and the innumerable multitude of beings, destined to ornament the globe which he inhabited, must have been impressed with the feelings of admiration and delight. To these, another sentiment would necessarily succeed. When the transports of wonder had subsided at this august spectacle, he could not fail to discover that he was not the author of it, but that it was the work of an all-wise, all-powerful, and all-benevolent Being. Possessed of this religious idea, he must then have joined his voice to that of nature, and sung forth, with the most lively sensations of gratitude, the praises of Him, who enabled him to perceive, and feel, the incomparable beauty of the universe.
The first hymn chanted in this solitude of the world, observes an elegant and profound writer*, was a great epoch for the human race. Soon after that event, parents, we may suppose, assembled their children in the fields, to offer up the same homage. Then did
* See the beautiful "Essai sur les Eloges," by M. Thomas.-Tom. I. p.2.
the aged sire, holding a blade of corn in one hand, and, with the other, pointing to the earth, sea, and skies, instruct his family to sound the praises of the God who nourished them.
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Thus wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous, then!
To us invisible, or dimly seen,
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Paradise Lost, Book v.
In this reign of nature, thanksgivings were likewise repeated at the rising and setting of the sun, the renewal of the year, the commencement of a season, and the appearance of a new moon. In ages more advanced into a state of regular policy, we discover the constant practice of addressing the gods upon all occasions of happiness, or misery. When battles were fought, and won, or when pestilence and famine visited them, the people equally crowded the temple, to celebrate the praises of the deities they adored.
In those hymns, which were sung in that country where Homer poured forth his immortal lines, and Orpheus instituted his mysteries, and which are still left entire to us, it is easy to discover passages of great sublimity, disfigured as they are by the idle tales of
superstition. The hymns attributed to Homer, partake of the grandeur and beauty of his poetry; yet may rather be regarded as monuments of ancient mythology, than of religious eulogies. Tradition has handed down to us, the unrivalled fame which Pindar obtained for his hymns to Jupiter, his pæans to Apollo, and his lofty dithyrambics* to Bacchus. But the hand of time has not spared one of those performances; all that can now be safely affirmed of them is, that they were consecrated to the Delphian Apollo, whose oracles equally laid under contribution, the credulity of the people, and the ambition of kings. It may, however, be reasonably doubted, whether even the muse of Pindar could have soared to an higher pitch of sublimity, than is to be found in the following hymn of Cleanthes. Animated by his divine subject, he thus breaks forth in strains worthy, in every respect, of the father of the Stoics+.
* Laurea donandus Apollinari,
Lege solutis ;
Seu Deos, regesque canit, Deorum,
Horace, Lib. iv. Ode 2.
+ The appellation given him by Cicero, although he was the disciple
and successor of Zeno, the founder of the Portico.
"O thou, who, under several names art adored, but whose power is entire and infinite, O Jupiter, first of immortals, sovereign of nature, governor of all, and supreme legislator of all things, accept my suppliant prayer, for to man is given the right to invoke thee. Whatever lives and moves on this earth, drew its being from thee; we are a faint similitude of thy divinity. I will address, then, my hymns to thee, and never will I cease to praise thy wondrous power. That universe, suspended over our heads, and which seems to roll around the earth, obeys thee; it moves along, and silently submits to thy mandate. The thunder, minister of thy laws, rests under thy invincible hands, flaming, gifted with an immortal life, it strikes, and all nature is terrified. Thou directest the universal spirit, which animates all things, and lives in all beings. Such, O Almighty King, is thy unbounded sway! In heaven, on earth, or in the floods below, there is nought performed, or produced, without thee, except the evil, which springs from the heart of the wicked*.
* Οὐδε τι γιγνεται ἔργον ἐπι χθονι σου δίχα, δαιμον,
Οὔτε κατ ̓ ἀιθεριον θειον πολον, ὄντ ̓ ἐνι ποντω
Πλην όποσα ρεζουσι κακοι σφετέρησιν ανοιαις.---Lines 15-17.
How similar is this sentiment to that expression of the Apostle St. James; "Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
Epist. Chap. i. 13.
By thee, confusion is changed into order: by thee, the warring elements are united. By an happy agreement, thou so blendest good with evil, as to produce a general and eternal harmony in all things. But man, wicked man, alone, breaks this great harmony of the world. Wretched being, who seeks after good, and yet perceives not the universal law which points out the way to render him at once good and happy! He abandons the pursuit of virtue and justice, and roves where each passion moves him. Sordid wealth, fame, and sensual pleasures, become, by turns, the objects of his pursuit. O God, from whom all gifts descend, who sittest in thick darkness*, thunder-ruling Lord, dispel this ignorance from the mind of man; deign to enlighten his soul; draw it to that eternal reason which serves as thy guide, and support, in the government of the world! So that, honoured with a portion of this light, we may, in our turn, be able to honour thee, by celebrating thy great works unceasingly, in a hymn. This is the proper duty of man. For, surely, nothing can be more delightful to the inhabitants of the earth, or the skies,
* Αλλα Ζε πανδωρε, κελαινεφες, ἀρχικεραυνε.--Line 32. "He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies."-Psalm xviii. v. 11. The hymn of Cleanthes is preserved by Stobæus.
Edit. Heeren. Tom. I. p. 30, 35.