Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Hinc exaudiri gemitus, et sæva sonare
Verbera : tum stridor ferri, tractæquæ catenæ.
Constitit Æneas, strepitumque exterritus hausit.
Quiæ scelerum facies ? (o virgo, effare) quibusve
Urgentur pænis ? quis tantus plangor ad auras ?
Tum vates sic orsa loqui : Dux inclyte Teucrum,
Nulli fas casto sceleratum insistere limen ;
Sed me, cum lucis Hecate præfecit Avernis,
Ipsa Deûm pænas docuit, perque omnia duxit.

lin. 565.

lin. 616.

Saxum ingens volvunt alii : radiisque rotarum
Districti pendent: sedet, æternumque sedebit
Infelix Theseus : Phlegyasque miserrimus omnes
Admonet, et magna testatur voce per umbras :
“ Discite justitiam moniti, et non temnere Divos ”
Vendidit hic aurô patriam, dominumque potentem
Imposuit : fixit leges pretio, atque refixit, &c.

But whatever impression these representations might make on the minds of the initiated, Warburton saith it was rendered in a great measure ineffectual, by the shews of the gods and goddesscs, who passed in review before them; and by the hymns which were sung to each, descriptive of his origin, his character, and his actions. For the vicious actions of the gods celebrated in these hymns, must have led such of the initiated as were capable of reasoning on the subject, to consider the punishments inflicted on men for the very same crimes of which the gods themselves were guilty, as utterly unjust; consequently, to think the whole a fiction. So that the motives to virtụe, arising from the representations of the punishment of the damned, were destroyed by the confirmation which the popular theology derived, from the other parts of the shews in the lesser mysteries. The truth is, if a person was disposed to gratify any irregular passion, it was easy for him to excuse himself by the example of the gods, as we find one actually doing in Terence : Ego homuncio hoc non facerem?

To remedy this inconvenience, Warburton saith the greater inysteries were contrived, in which such of the initiated, as were judged capable of the discovery, were made acquainted with the wholc delusion of the commonly received theology. The mystagogue, Hierophant, or priest, who might be of either sex indifferently, and whose office it was to conduct the initiated, through the preparatory ceremonies, and to explain to him the mystic shows, taught him, that Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Mars, and the rest, were only dead men, who while in life, were subject to the same passions with themselves. But having been benefactors to mankind, grateful posterity had deified them; and with their virtues had canonized their vices also.—The fabulous divinities being thus discarded, the mystagogue discovered to the initiated, the Supreme Creator of the universe, who pervades all things by his virtue, and governs all things by his providence, and who is one, having neither equal, nor second to himself. From this time the initiated was called Emotns, a beholder, to intimate that he saw things as they are, without disguise. Whereas before, he was only Musas, from HUELY TO OTOMs, one who was to keep his mouth shut, because he did not understand the true nature of things. This doctrine of the unity of God, taught in the greater mysteries, Warburton affirms, was the grand secret, atopintov, of which there is so much said in ancient authors.

The discovery of the supreme being was made in the greater mysteries, first of all by a mystic shew or representation, which Psellus thus describes, The autof. is, when he who is initiated beholds the divine lights. To the same purpose, Themestias : “ It being thoroughly purified, he now displays to the initiated, “a region all over illuminated, and shining with a divine splen“ dour. The clouds and thick darkness are dispersed, and the “mind emerges into day, full of light and cheerfulness, as be“ fore of disconsolate obscurity.” That which the priest thoroughly purified, was ayanus, an image, which represented the Divine being. When this was exhibited, the hierophant habited like the Creator, sung a hymn in honour of the one only God; of which, according to Warburton, there is a fragment preserved by Clem. Alexand. and Eusebius, which begins thus: “I « will declare a secret to the initiated. But let the doors be "shut against the profane. But thou Musæus, the offspring of “ fair Selene, attend carefully to my song; for I shall speak of “important truths. Suffer not, therefore, the former prepos66 sessions of your mind, to deprive you of that happy life, which * the knowledge of these mysterious truths will procure you. “ But look on the divine nature; incessantly contemplate it, " and govern well the mind and heart: Go on in the right way, 66 and see the sole Governour of the world. He is one, and of “ himself alone ; and to that one, all things owe their being. “ He operates through all, was never seen by mortal eyes, but “ does himself see every thing."

.

Because Musæus, who had been hierophant at Athens, directed Æneas to the place in Elysium where his father's shade abode, Warburton thinks Anchises opened to him the doctrine of perfection in these sublime words,

lin. 724.

Principio cælum, ac terras, camposque liquentes,
Lucentemque globum Lunæ, Titaniaque'astra,
Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per artus
Mens agitat molem, et magno se corpore miscet.
Inde hominum pecudumque genus, vitæque volantum,
Et quæ marmoreo fert monstra sub æquore pontus, &c.

and that with this discovery of the unity, Æneas's initiation concluded. On this supposition it will follow, that before the unity of God was discovered to the initiated, the shews which represented the blessed in Elysium, were exhibited to them. In these shews, they saw Legislators, and such as had brought mankind from a state of nature into a civilized state, enjoying happiness in the chief places of Elysium. Next to them, the initiated beheld patriots, and those who had died for the good of their country. Virtuous and pious priests, were represented as occupying the third place. And the lowest was assigned to the inventors of the mechanic and liberal arts.

The shews being ended, the initiated, as was observed above, were introduced to the sight of the cya Afoe, or shining image, which represented the Creator, and the hymn in which the atopate, or secrets concerning his nature, attributes, and operations, were delivered, being sung, the assembly was dismissed with the two following barbarous words, κoγξ ομπαξ, which, as Le Clerc thinks, are only a bad pronunciation of kots and om'phels, which, he says, signify in the Phænician tongue, watch, and abstain from evil, If we may believe Voltaire, the initiated at almost every

celebration of their mysteries confessed their sins. For in his Es. say on Universal History, chap. xii. after telling us that Aquinas said of confession, It is not a downright sacrament, but a kind of sacrament. He adds: “ Confession may be looked upon as " the greatest check to secret crimes. The sages of antiquity, “ had in some measure embraced this salutary practice. The “ Egyptians and the Greeks made confession of sins at their “ expiations, and almost at every celebration of their mysteries, “ Marcus Aurelius, assisting at the mysteries of Ceres Eleu“ sina, confessed to the hierophantes.” But of the sins which

the vulgar among the heathens confessed, those which the gods were supposed to commit, in whose honour the mysteries were celebrated, we may be sure made no part.

The nature of the greater mysteries being such as above described, the wisest of the ancients, Warburton says, spake of them as very useful in forming men to virtue, and as the source of their best consolation. For which reason, as Zosimus tells us, when the Emperor Valentinian resolved to suppress all nocturnal ceremonies, Pretextatus who governed Greece as Proconsul, informed him, that such a law, by abolishing the mysteries, would cause the Greeks to lead HOWTON Blov, a lifeles8 life, a life absolutely void of comfort. Nor is it any wonder, saith Warburton, that the Greeks should have considered the abolition of the mysteries as the greatest evil, since the life of man, without the support of the doctrine taught in the mysteries, was thought by them as no better than a living death: On which account Isocrates called the mysteries, the thing which human nature stood most in need of.

But notwithstanding, according to Warburton, the greater mysteries were contrived to correct the errors of the popular religion, inculcated by the shews in the lesser mysteries, and to impress the initiated with just notions of God, of providence, and of a future state, he acknowledges that the discovery came too late, to counteract the pernicious influence of the shews in the lesser mysteries; and that the Orgies of Bacchus, and the mysteries of the mother of the gods, and of Venus, and Cupid, being celebrated in honour of deities who inspired and presided over the sensual passions, it was natural for the initiated to believe, that they honoured these divinities, when they committed the vicious actions of which they were the patrons. ' He likewise acknowledges, that the mysteries of these deities being performed during the darkness of night, or in dark places, and under the seal of the greatest secrecy, the initiated indulged themselves, on such occasions, in all the debaucheries with which the patron god was supposed to be delighted. The truth is, the enormities committed in the mysteries of these impure deities, came at length to be so intolerable, that their rites were proscribed in different countries; as were the rites of Bacchus at Rome. See Livy, B. 39. No. 8. 18.

The English translator of Voltaire's Essay on Universal History, hath subjoined the following note to the passage quoted above from that essay. “ These mysteries were so revered by

XTEIS

and φαλλος

“ the ancients, and kept with such secrecy, that the disclosing of « them was reckoned the most impious action that could be « committed. This, however, did not hinder several writers in “ the first ages of Christianity, from prying into the great se“ cret, and bringing it to light. Tertullian says of it, Tota in

adytis divinitas, &c. Simulacrum membri virilis revelatur. Theo“ doret says it was, Naturæ muliebris imago." Induced by these and other testimonies, Warburton himself acknowledges, what he hath termed that very flagitious part of the mysterious rites when at the worst, namely, the carrying of the

in

procession.-Concerning this obscene rite, Leland, who, as shall be shewed immediately, differs from Warburton in his account of the design of the mysteries, saith, ( Advantage and Necessity of the Christian Revelation, vol. i. page 195. note.) that this obscene rite, instead of being introduced when the mysteries were at the worst, seems to have been one of those anciently used in the mysteries of Isis, from which the Eleusinian rites were derived. Warburton indeed saith, “ It was introduced under the pretence « of their being emblems of the mystical regeneration and new « life, into which the initiated had engaged themselves to “ enter.” But Leland says, “ It is no way probable that this was “ the original ground of introducing it; but a pretence invented “ for it after it was introduced; and observes, that Arnobius “ justly exposed the absurdity of couching holy mysteries under 6 obscene representations, on pretence that they had a profound « and sacred meaning."-Be this however as it may, the facts above mentioned, which are acknowledged by all, shew with what truth the apostle Paul stylcd the so much boasted heathen mysteries, Ephes. v. 11. The unfruitful works of darkness ; works which produced no good, either to those who did them, or to society; and prohibited Christians from joining in them, because the things which were done in them under the seal of secrecy, were such, that it was even base to mention them, ver. 12.

Warburton tells us, that while all the other mysteries became exceedingly corrupt, through the folly or wickedness of those who presided at their celebration, and gave occasion to many abominable impurities, whereby the manners of the heathens were entirely vitiated, the Eleusinian mysteries long preserved their original purity. But at last, they also yielding to the fate of all human institutions, partook of the common depravity, and had a very pernicious influence on the morals of mankind. Wherefore, in proportion as the gospel gained ground

« AnteriorContinuar »