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birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things." To show what man is when left to himself, God
per. mitted that very nation which had carried human wis- . dom to its greatest height, to be the theatre in 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 deserts of Egypt into a terrestrial paradise, by peopling them, in the time appointed by his providence, 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.
& The great wonder of Lower Egypt, says Abbé Fleury, in his Ecclesiastical History, was the city of Oxyrinchus, peopled with monks, both within and without, so that they were more numerous than its other inhabitants. The public edifices, and idol tem. ples, had been converted into monasteries, and these likewise were more in number than the private houses. The monks lodged even over the gates, and in the towers. The people had twelve churches to assemble in, exclusive of the oratories belonging to the monasteries. There were twenty thousand virgins and ten thousand monks in this city, every part of which echoed night and day with the praises of God. By order of the magistrates, centinels were posted at the gates, to take notice of all strangers and poor who came into the city; and those who first received them were obliged to provide them with all hospitable accommodations.
* Rom. i. 22, 25.
& Plut. Tom. V. p. 25, 26
THZ CEREMONIES OF THE EGYPTIAN FUNERALS.
SHALL now give a concise account of the funeral ceremonies of the Egyptians.
The honours which have been paid in all ages and nations to the bodies of the dead, and the religious care taken to provide sepulchres for them, seem to insinu. ate an universal persuasion that bodies were lodged in sepulchres merely as a deposit or trust.
We have already observed, in our mention of the pyramids, with what magnificence sepulchres were built in Egypt; for besides that, they were erected as so many sacred monuments, destined to transmit to future times the memory of great princes, they were likewise considered as the mansions where the body was to remain during a long succession of ages; "where. as common houses were called inns, in which men were to abide only as travellers, and that during the course of a life 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 abstained from baths, wine, and dainties of every kind. This mourning held forty or seventy days, probably according to the quality of the person.
i Bodies were embalmed three different ways. The most magnificent was bestowed on persons of distin. guished rank, and the expense amounted to a talent of silver, or three thousand French livres.
* Diod. 1. i. p. 47.
* Herod. I. ü. c. 85, Set * About $ 600.
'Many hands were employed in this ceremony. Some drew the brain through the nostrils, by an instrument 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 filled with perfumes and various odoriferous drugs. As this evacuation, which was necessarily attended with some dissections, seemed in some measure cruel and inhuman, the persons employed fled as soon as the operation was over, and were pursued with stones by the bystanders. 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 over with the most exquisite perfumes. By this mean, it is said, that the entire figure of the body, the very lineaments of the face, and the hairs on the lids and eyebrows, were preserved in their natural perfection.
The body, thus embalmed, was delivered to the relations, who shut it up in a kind of open chest, fitted exactly to the size of
then they placed it upright against the wall, either in sepulchres, if they had any, or in their houses. These embalmed bodies are now what we call Mum. mies, which are still brought from Egypt, and are found in the cabinets of the curious. This shows the care which the Egyptians took of their dead. Their gratitude to their deceased relations was immortal. Children, by seeing the bodies of their ancestors thus preserved, recalled to mind those virtues for which the
Diod. 1. i. p. 81.
public had honoured them; and were excited to a love of those laws which such excellent persons had left for their security. We find that part of these ceremonies were performed in the funeral honours done to Joseph in Egypt.
I have said that the public recognized the virtues of deceased persons, because that, before they could be admitted into the sacred asylum of the tomb, they underwent a solemn trial. And this circumstance in the Egyptian funerals is one of the most remarkable to be found in ancient history.
It was a consolation among the heathens, to a dying man, to leave a good name behind him; and they imagined that this is the only human blessing of which death cannot deprive us. But the Egyptians would not suffer praises to be bestowed indiscriminately on all deceased persons. This honour was to be obtained only from the public voice. The assembly of the judges met on the other side of a lake which they crossed in a boat. He who sat at the helm was called Charon, in the Egyptian language; and this first gave the hint to Orpheus, who had been in Egypt, and after him to the other Greeks, to invent the fiction of Charon's boat. As soon as a man was dead, he was brought to his trial. The public accuser was heard. If he proved that the deceased had led a bad life, his memory was condemned, and he was deprived of burial. The people were affected with laws which extended even beyond the grave; and
every one, struck with the disgrace inflicted on the dead person, was afraid to reflect dishonour on his own memory, and that of his family. But if the deceased person was not convicted of any crime, he was interred in an honourable manner.
A still more astonishing circumstance, in this public inquest upon the dead, was that the throne itself was no protection from it. Kings were spared during their lives, because the public peace was concerned in this forbearance; but their quality did not exempt them from the judgment passed upon the dead, and even some of them were deprived of sepulture. This custom was imitated by the Israelites. We see, in scripture, that bad kings were not interred in the mon. uments of their ancestors. This practice suggested to princes, that if their majesty placed them out of the reach of men's judgment while they were alive, they would at last be liable to it, when death should reduce them to a level with their subjects.
When, therefore, a favourable judgment was pronounced on a deceased person, the next thing was to proceed to the ceremonies of interment. In his pane. gyric, no mention was made of his birth, because every Egyptian was deemed noble. No praises were considered as just or true, but such as related to the personal merit of the deceased. He was applauded for having received an excellent education in his younger years; and, in his more advanced age, for having cultivated piety towards the gods, justice towards men, gentleness, modesty, moderation, and all other virtues which constitute the good man. Then all the people shouted, and bestowed the highest eulogiums on the deceased, as one who would be received for ever into the society of the virtuous in Pluto's kingdom.