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not vary according to time and place. It is not different now from what it was formerly. The same law sways all nations, because it proceeds from the King and common Father of all. A crime is none the less criminal because there is no human law against it. The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves. Love of order is the sovereign justice, and this justice is excellent for its own sake. Whoever loves it for its utility, is politic, but not good. The highest injustice is to love justice only for the sake of recompense. The eternal, unchangeable, universal law of all beings is to seek the good of one another, like children of the same Father."
Cicero informs us that philosophers of all schools agreed in believing the Supreme Deity incapable of inflicting panishment, or feeling resentment; that anger toward one, and favour toward another, were equally inconsistent with an immortal, wise, and happy nature. Therefore, they all agreed that fear could have no place in the mind of man with regard to God.
Like Plato, he was very conservative with regard to established forms, regarding them as necessary for the preservation of good order. He says: “When religion is in question, I do not consider what is the doctrine thereon of Zeno, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus, but I am guided by what the Chief Priests say of it. From you, who are a philosopher, I am not unwilling to receive reasons for my faith ; but to our ancestors I trust implicitly, without receiving any reason at all.”
He thought those who disturbed popular belief in the auguries ought to be punished. For that reason he entered a complaint against two men who sailed contrary to the auspices; because, according to his views, the established "religion is to be obeyed, and the customs of our forefathers are not to be discarded.”
The Stoics, founded by Zeno, about three hundred years before Christ, had numerous adherents, especially among the Romans, to whose stern and lofty character their doctrines were well adapted. They explained virtue as the true harmony of man with himself, and with the laws of nature, without regard to reward or punishment. This state was to be attained by mastery over the passions and affections, and complete indifference to external things. Self-denial and resolute endurance were prominent points in their moral teaching. They were characterized by abstemiousness, plainness of dress, and strict regard to decorum. They held that a man was at liberty to lay down his life whenever he deemed it no longer useful. Zeno, and others of their teachers, committed suicide in old age. They believed the universe was pervaded by a Divine Intelligence, as by a soul. The elements and the heavenly orbs partook of this divine essence, and were therefore suitable objects of worship. They did not adopt the common doctrine of successive transmigrations of the human soul, but held that it returned to the Supreme Soul, after death. Epictetus says: “There is no Tartarus. You do not go to a place of pain. You return to the source from which you came, to a delightful reunion with your primitive elements.” They were taught not to deprecate impending calamities, but to pray for resignation and fortitude to endure them. Marcus Antoninus says: "Either the gods have power, or no power. If they have no power, why do you pray? If they have power, why do you not rather pray that you may be without anxiety about an event, than that the event may not take place ?"
In common with many of the Grecian sects, they believed in the old Hindoo, Chaldean, and Egyptian calculations concerning the destruction of the world by water and by fire. This universal devastation was to take place at stated intervals, with vast astronomical intervals between. All was to be restored to a state of order, innocence, and beauty; the old tendency to degeneracy would end in similar destruction, to be again renovated, and so on alternately forever. Seneca says: “A time will come when the world, ripe for renovation, will be wrapped in flames; when the opposite powers in conflict will mutually destroy each other. The constellations will dash together, and the whole universe, plunged in the same common fire, will be consumed to ashes. The world being melted and reentered into the bosom of Jupiter, this god will continue for some time concentred in himself, immersed in the contemplation of his own ideas. Afterward, a new world will spring from him, perfect in all its parts. The whole face of nature will be more lovely; and under more favourable auspices, an innocent race of men will people this earth, the worthy abode of virtue."
The religious doctrines and customs of Greece were adopted by Rome without essential alterations. Something of their gracefulness was lost under the influence of her less poetic character, but a stronger moral element was infused. In the days of the Roman Republic, temples were erected to Concord, Faith, Constancy, Modesty, and even to Peace. Venus Verticordia presided over the purity of domestic morals, and the most virtuous woman in Rome was chosen to dedicate her statue. Religion was intimately connected with the state. The Emperor was the Supreme Pontiff; and High Priests were chosen among the most illustrious senators. The priests, both of the city and the provinces, were mostly men of wealth and rank, who received, as an honourable distinction, the care of some celebrated temple, or some public sacrifice, or the sacred games, which were frequently exhibited at their own expense. They acted as magistrates, and claimed none of the peculiar sacredness which so strongly riveted the power of Hindoo and Egyptian priests.
Numa, second king of Rome, forbade the people to put images or pictures in their temples; giving as a reason that God was to be apprehended only by the mind, and it was wrong to represent the most excellent being by such mean things. For one hundred and sixty years, their temples contained neither statues nor paintings. It was the policy of government to exclude foreign worship, and for a time they tried to enforce it rigidly. But Rome, being the cen. tre of power, was the point of confluence for all nations of the earth, and it became necessary to allow foreign residents and visitors the practice of their own religious rites. This toleration was easily granted, because it was a common opinion among polytheistic nations that every country had the religion best suited to its climate and character, and that the deity it worshipped, whoever he might be, was one of many beneficent Spirits, appointed to preside over various divisions of the earth, and manifold departments of the universe. From Egypt, Carthage, Gaul, Persia, and numerous other countries, the conquering armies of Rome brought back foreign customs and opinions with the spoils of war. The popular feeling in favour of adding the gods of other nations to their own established worship became too strong for the policy of government or the wisdom of sages to resist. The worship of Serapis was first celebrated in private chapels at Rome, then publicly prohibited; the first temples erected to him were ordered to be destroyed; afterward, it was permitted to build them within a mile of the city; and at last he was formally acknowledged and established among the deities. The Persian Mithras was enrolled in the same calendar. The Magi, resident in Rome, introduced his Mysteries, which were solemnized in a cave. In the process of initiation, candidates were subjected to severe ordeals, such as long fasts in solitude and darkness, passing through deep waters and through fire. It is said that one of the ceremonies of admission was to eat bread and drink wine, and to receive the mark of a Cross on the forehead; probably the Hindoo and Egyptian Cross, already described. When the Jews became tributary to Rome, they were protected in their own forms of worship; it being readily admitted that Jehovah might be a true national deity, though not the only Governor of the Universe. Solemn embassies were sent to invite Cybele from Phry. gia, and Æsculapius from Greece. The image of Astarte was brought from Carthage to Rome, to be married to the image of the Sun; and the day of their mystic nuptials was kept as a festival throughout the empire. It was a common custom to tempt the deities of besieged cities, by promising them more distinguished honours in Rome than they received in their own country.
Roman priests, as well as those of Hindostan, were acquainted with a chemical process, which enabled them to resist fire. Strabo says that many persons, every year, walked barefoot over burning coals without receiving the slightest injury, and crowds assembled to see it. The more rational citizens of Rome strongly disapproved of nocturnal assemblies, as occasions for revelry and licentiousness, under the disguise of religion. They discountenanced the impure rites practised in temples of Venus, and the mad orgies connected with the worship of Bacchus; and at last their influence so far prevailed, that the festivals of Bacchus were prohibited by law.
Rome was the great gathering-place for all the nations of the earth. To the general admixture of religious forms and creeds was added almost unlimited freedom of inquiry in the philosophical schools. The ceremonies consecrated by long established custom were observed for reasons of state, and to satisfy the requisitions of the populace; but they gradually degenerated into mere lifeless forms. Cicero argues that it was impossible the oracle at Delphi could have gained so much reputation in the world, and been enriched with such costly presents from almost all kings and nations, had not the veracity of its prophecies been confirmed by the experience of ages. But he informs us that it had declined very much before his day; the Pythia being often accused of taking bribes of the rich and powerful.
A belief in the existence of the soul after death was indicated in all periods of the history of Greece and Rome, by the fact that they were always accustomed to address prayers to the Spirits of their ancestors, when overwhelmed with trouble, or about to undertake any important enterprise. They likewise offered sacrifices for the benefit of the dead, and performed such games at their tombs as they most delighted in while living on this earth. But though they thus implied a belief that spirits of the departed were pres