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moment of our birth and the limits of our career,-what then is crime? Fate. What life? Submission." Such a doctrine, while it lessened the incentive to virtue, must have destroyed all the most powerful moral curbs on the passions, furnishing to vice at once an incentive and an apology; and destroying all the influence which the idea of final judgment might otherwise have had. It has been thought, however, that many of the Egyptians were fully persuaded that at the end of the great year the world should be destroyed, but that at the end of time the soul should enter on its career of immortality, the good being wafted to the sun or dog-star, the heaven of the Egyptian creed, the wicked consigned to an abode whence release was hopeless. The sculptures of Egypt furnish evidence that such ideas were entertained. One Egyptian traveller detailing the paintings on the tombs of the Theban kings, describes one wall as representing a band of blessed spirits, holding in their hands the symbol of immortality, following in the train of a god, who conducts them to Elysium; on the opposite wall is the descent into hell,-gods, boats, serpents, unhappy souls, hurrying towards that place whither "hope never comes." There is always a danger, however, of judging of such representations in accordance with preconceived opinions. Many of the Egyptian philosophers taught the doctrine, that the human race were degraded spirits, who for crimes or earthly desires were deprived of the angel wings they had worn in a heavenly sphere, and doomed to the pilgrimage of this earth, as an expiatory period of suffering, "to lift the heart from low desires," and fit them for returning to their celestial birthplace. This belief gave rise to certain ceremonies in connexion with the sacred mysteries or religious celebrations of the great temples; for the wild creations of the imagination were regarded not as the unbidden workings of the mind, but as the dim and shadowy remembrance of a former state of existence. Hence
the aspirant to initiation was informed that, on drinking in the cup of immortality, besides the other unspeakable delights,
Memory, too, with her dreams should come,
Dreams of a former happier day,
When heaven was yet the spirit's home,
That tell like gleams on a sunset sea
Such were the principal ideas and religious observances of the Egyptians, leaving out of consideration the worship of Venus Pandemos, Pan, and Priapus; a class of divinities whose worship, there is reason to believe, was of too revolting a kind to be minutely investigated, were it not that they received a very large share of Egyptian adoration.
In the Egyptian mythology there were associated together the apparently contradictory systems of Pantheism, Manicheism, and the belief in the descent of the soul from heaven and its return thither. Along with the first was implied the paralysing belief in an eternal succession of wholly similar worlds, to which the same spirits returned to perform the same actions; this, then, was a system of rigid fatalism. With the second was bound up the purer doctrine of opposing principles of good and evil, and the expectation of rewards and punishments in another world for the deeds committed while sojourning on earth; this was a pure and ennobling belief. The third system looked forward to all receiving back their angel wings, in other words, to the final happiness of every human being;* this, at least, was a consolatory doctrine. All recognised, however, the belief in one eternal immutable principle or being as the cause of all things, on whom all existences, material or immaterial, depended for their being, to whose agency all changes were referred, and by whose
will the eternal destiny of all would be fixed. A firm conviction in the existence of such a mighty power reconciles all the system of belief. On this the whole fabric of Pantheism depended. The Manichean, who conceded this point, looked on the principles of good and evil not as self-existent independent powers, but as subsidiary manifestations of the creation of the eternal principle; while the advocate of the ascent and descent of the soul worshipped the deities as the agents of the everlasting God, for preparing degraded spirits for their returning to their home again.
In ancient Egypt, however, no more than at the present day, did men universally believe in one creed or system of theology. While the separate systems mentioned already were unconditionally advocated by particular classes of men, the majority mingled the Egyptian systems together, to form, if it might be, an harmonious whole.
In the earliest and purest ages of the Egyptian history, Knuphis, the eternal principle, was adored. But this was wholly given up in later eras, and the whole adoration lavished on the lesser gods. All the deities came in for their share of adoration; Osiris, Typhon, and Horus, were universally worshipped along with their consorts, Isis, Esthys, and Bubastis. But particular districts choose particular gods as their especial favourites, and each city had its sacred patron like the superintending saints of the Romish calendar. Thus in the Arsinoite district of Egypt, Typhon, as the crocodile, was peculiarly adored; the inhabitants of Cynopalis worshipped Anubis, those of Aphroditopolis Venus, and so on. Yet the records of history, and the discoveries made in our day, have, to a lamentable extent, shown that whatever pure and ennobling doctrines were involved in the Egyptian's creed, however lofty might be the abstract ideas impersonated in their gods, the Egyptians themselves were a quaint unimaginative people, who, when they lost their
belief in one god, fell into the most revolting sensualities. An examination of the writings of those who have dedicated themselves to the inquiry, fully shows that the great mass of the community sacrificed to two classes of divinities, the one including the personifications of licentiousness, Pan, Priapus, and Venus Pandemos; the other the personification of moral and physical evil, Typhon, in all his power.
From this very slight glance at some of the most prominent features of the Egyptian creed, the reader may perhaps be able for himself to draw the conclusion, that the gods of Egypt were deified attributes indicative of the intellect, power, goodness, might, and other principles essential to the idea of the Supreme Being. The mere glance at the most prominent of these deified ideas, however, convey only examples of them. Their number is very great, and the difficulties attendant on the attempt to arrive at a definite understanding of the abstract ideas originally represented by them. It is not difficult how. ever to detect in these, indications of a perverted refinement of a pure faith, ending at length in the grossest idolatry. The wanderers from the Noahic family brought with them, in all probability, to Egypt the pure belief in the one true God. Regarding him according to his various attributes, they appear to have symbolized these and represented them by allegorical figures, perhaps with no original intent of idolatry, or of a plurality of gods. The doctrine of one Supreme Being is believed never to have been altogether lost to the few learned men, admitted to share in the sacred mysteries of the religion of Egypt. The same belief was secretly held by the wisest Greeks, if not indeed taught as a secret unfit to be communicated to the vulgar. With both people, however, the creed was productive of the grossest idolatry to the great mass, and with the Egyptians we have evidence that it was practically one of gross sensuality. To the people taught
in such a faith, might be applied with peculiar force, the words of the sacred text. "If the light that is in them be darkness, how great is that darkness." Then, indeed, darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. Life was without moral guidance and death without one pure ray of hope.
On the origin of the comparatively pure basis of the Egyptian creed, Wilkinson remarks:-"I do not pretend to decide respecting the origin of the notions entertained by the Egyptians of the triad into which the Deity, as an agent, was divided; nor can I attempt to account for their belief in his manifestation upon earth: similar ideas had been handed down from a very early period, and having been imparted to the immediate descendants of Noah, and the patriarchs, may have reached the Egyptians through that channel, and have been preserved and embodied in their religious system. And this appears to be confirmed by the fact of our finding the creative power, whilst in operation upon matter, represented by Moses as a Trinity, and not under the name indicative of unity until after that action had ceased. For the name given to the Deity by the divine legislator, when engaged in the creation of material objects, is not Ihôah, (“ who is, and will be,") but Elohim, "the Gods;" and this plural expression is used until the seventh day, when the creation was completed."
Following out these ideas, the same learned and judicious writer remarks:-"It may appear singular that the principle of a Trinity should be so obscurely noticed in the Old Testament; but the wise caution of the divine legislator foresaw the danger likely to result from too marked an allusion to what a people, surrounded by idolatrous polytheists, might readily construe into the existence of a plurality of Gods: the knowledge, therefore, of this mystery was confined to such as were thought £t to receive so important a secret: and thus dangerous specu