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« one Providence which governs the universe, and 66 which has several fubaltern ministers under it; “ men give to this deity, which is the same, diffe66 rent names and pay it different honours, accord6 to the laws and customs of every country.” .
But were these reflections which offer the most rational vindication that can be made, of idolatrous worship, sufficient to cover the ridicule of it? Could it be call'd a raising of the divine attributes in a suitable manner, to direct the worshipper to admire and seek for the image of them, in beasts of the most vile and contemptible kinds, as crocodiles, ferpents, and cats? Was not this rather degrading and debasing the Deity, of whom, even the most stupid, usually entertain a much greater and more august idea ?
HOWEVER, these philosophers were not always so just, as to ascend from sensible beings to their invisible author. The scriptures tell us, that these
pretended Sages deserv’d, on account of their pride Rom. i.
and ingratitude, to be given over to a reprobate mind; 22, 25. and whilst they professd themselves wise, to become
fools, for having changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things..
To fhew what man is when left to himself, God per. mitted that very nation, which had carried human wisdom to its greatest height, to be the theatre on which the most ridiculous and absurd idolatry was. acted. And, on the other side, to display the Almighty power of his grace, he converted the frightful desarts of Egypt into a terrestrial paradise ; by peopling them, in the time appointed by his provi. dence, with numberless multitudes of illustrious hermits, whose fervent piety, and rigorous penance, have done so much honour to the christian religion. I cannot forbear giving here a famous instance of it ; and I hope the reader will excuse this kind of digression.
er The great wonder of Lower Egypt, says Abbé Tom. 5, une Fleury in his Ecclesiastical History, was the city of P. 250 26. 6,1 Oxyrinchus, peopled with monks, both within and ats without, so that they were more numerous than its
other inhabitants. The publick edifices, and idol Fie! temples had been converted into monasteries, and i chese likewise were more in number than the private
houses. The monks lodg'd even over the gates, and 5: in the towers. The people had twelve churches to e assemble in, exclusive of the oratories belonging to 2: the monafteries. X There were twenty thousand vir
gins and ten thousand monks in this city, every part de of which eechoed night and day with the praises of to God. By order of the magiftrates, centinels were
posted at the gates, to take notice of all strangers
and poor who came into the city ; and those who er first received them, were obliged to provide them
with all hospital accommodations.
SECT. II. The ceremonies of the Egyptian
FUN ER AL S. .
T SHALL now give a concise account of the fu-
The honours which have been paid in all ages mi and nations to dead bodies; and the religious care
i taken to provide fepulchres for them, seem to insiwnuate an universal persuasion, that bodies were lodg'd
in sepulchres merely as a deposit or trust. : chy We have already observd, in our mention of the
to pyramids, with what magnificence fepulchres were bi built in Egypt ; for besides, that they were erected në as so many facred monuments, destin'd to transmit me to future times the memory of great princes; they Ecwere likewise consider'd as the mansions where the -d body was to remain during a long succession of ages : 5d whereas .common houses were called inns, in which Diod. I. s. men were to abide only as travellers, and that during p. 47.
the course of a lise which was too short to engage their affections.
When any person in a family died, all the kindred and friends quitted their usual habits, and put on mourning; and abstain'd from baths, wine, and dainties of every kind. This mourning held forty or seventy days; probably according to the quality of
the person. Herod.
Bodies were embalmed three ways. The most 1. 2.c 85, magnificent was bestowed on persons of distinguish'd &c. rank, and the expence amounted to a talent of filver,
. or three thousand French livres. Diod. 1.'1.
Many hands were employed in this ceremony. p. 81. Some drew the brain through the nostrils, by an in
strument made for that purpose. Others emptied the bowels and intestines, by cutting a hole in the side, with an Ethiopian stone that was as sharp as a razor: after which the cavities were fill'd with perfumes and various odoriferous drugs. As this evacuation (which was necessarily attended with some dissections) seem'd in some measure cruel and inhuman; the persons employed fled as foon as the operation was over, and were pursued with stones by the standers-by. But those who embalmed the body were honourably treated. They filled it with myrrh, cinnamon, and all sorts of spices. After a certain time, the body was swathed in lawn fillets, which were glued together with a kind of very thin gum, and then crusted them over with the most exquisite perfunies. By this means, 'tis said that the entire figure of the body, the very lineaments of the face, and the hairs on the lids and eye-brows were preserv'd in their natural perfection. The body thus embalın'd, was delivered to the relations, who shut it up in a kind of open chest, fitted exactly to the size of the corps ; then they plac'd it upright against the wall, either in fepulchres, (if they had any) or in their houses. These embalm'd bodies are now what we call Mummies, which are still brought from