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fabulous, the philosophical, and the political. Here, too, we have a clear and historical detail of the opinions of the ancient philosophers.”
Of the remaining books, the first four describe the beginning, the middle four the progress, and the last four the issues of the two states, namely, the city of God, and the world; the history of both, and the different genius and spirit of each, are, throughout, conceived with great energy by the author, and are illustrated with copiousness and perspicuity.
“ The eleventh book begins with a just and solid view of the knowledge of God by the Mediator, and the authority of the Scriptures. A number of questions which respect the beginning of things, rather curious than important, follow.
“In the twelfth book, the question concerning the origin of evil is still more explicitly stated; and the opinions of those who pretend to account for the origin of the world in a manner different from the Scriptures, and to give it an antiquity much superior to that which is assigned to it in them, are refuted.
6. The thirteenth book describes the fall of man; but questions of little or no moment are interspersed.
6. The fourteenth book contains matter more interest ing than the foregoing three ; though it is not without unintportant speculations. A just idea of the magnitude of the first sin is given, and the justice of God is excellently vindicated.
“ In the fifteenth book, he enters upon the second part of the history of the two states, namely, their progress. He describes very justly the two types, Sarah and Agar, and illustrates the spirit and genius of the two sects by the cases of Cain and Abel. He confutes those who would make the lives of the ante, diluvians of shorter duration than that assigned them in Scripture.
“ The sixteenth book carries on the history of the city of God from Noah to David, and contains important instruction throughout, especially to those who have not read the same things in modern aụthors,
« The seventeenth book may be called the prophetic history.
“In the eighteenth he displays much learning in describing the times of the world coeval with those of the church of God, to the birth of Christ. the superior antiquity of prophetic authority to that of any philosophers. The remarkable harmony of the sacred writers in the promotion of one system, and the endless discordances of philosophers, are ably contrasted. Yet, he proves, from the earliest times, that the citizens of the new Jerusalem were not confined absolutely to Jewry.
The last four books describe the issues of the two states. The twentieth undertakes to describe the last judgment. In the last two books, he gives his ideas of the punishment of the wicked and of the happiness of the righteous, in a future state. In the last book, which describes the eternal rest of the city of God, he dwells a little on the external evidences of Christianity; and in speaking on miracles, he describes some which were wrought in his own time ; one of them, the healing of a disorder, seems peculiarly striking, because it was in answer to prayer. He closes his work with a delightful view of the eternal felicity of the church of God.”
29. MAHOMET, THE ARABIAN IMPOSTOR. MAHOMET was born at Mecca, a city in Arabia, near the Red Sea, A. D. 569. Possessing but a scanty edu'cation, but of great natural talents, he sought to raise himself to celebrity by feigning a divine mission, to propagate a new religion for the salvation of mankind. Early in life he was instructed in the business of a merchant, and employed by a rich widow of the name of Hadijah, aş a factor. Into her favour he so effectually insinuated himself, as to obtain her in marriage. Ву this event, he became possessed of considerable wealth and power, and continued in the mercantile occupation for several years. About the thirty-eighth year of his
age he retired to the desert, and pretended to hold conferences with the angel Gabriel, who delivered to him, from time to time, portions of the Koran (the sacred book of the Mahometans), containing revelations from God, with the doctrines which he required his prophet (Mahomet) to communicate to the world.
His first converts were his wife, his servant, his pupil, and his friend. In process of time some of the citizens of Mecca were introduced to the private lessons of the prophet; they yielded to the voice of enthusiasm, and repeated the fundamental creed, “ There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet.”
Being opposed in propagating his doctrines, he was obliged to flee. His flight, called the Hegira (A.D. 622), is the era of his glory. He betook himself to Medina, was joined by the brave Omar, and thence commenced propagating his religion by the sword. He divided his spoil among his followers, and from all sides the roving Arabs were allured to the standard of religion and plunder ; the prophet sanctioned the license of embracing the female captives as their wives or concubines, and the enjoyment of wealth and beauty was the type of Paradise. “ The sword,” says Mahomet, “is the key of heaven and hell ; a drop of blood shed in the cause of God, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer; whoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven; at the day of judgment his wounds shall be resplendent as vermilion, and odoriferous as musk; and the loss of his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim.”
In a few years, Mahomet subdued all Arabia and a part of Syria. In the midst of his victories, he died at the age of 63, A. D. 632, being poisoned, as it was supposed, by a Jewish female. He was buried on the spot where he expired, but his remains were afterwards removed to Medina, whither innumerable pilgrims to Mecca often turn aside to bow in devotion before the humble tomb of their prophet.
His successors extended their conquests and religion till their empire was
widely extended in many countries of the east; and in the eighth century threatened the conquest of Europe, and the extermination of Christianity.
30. AN ACCOUNT OF THE KORAN. THE Koran or Alcoran, the sacred book of the Ma. hometans, contains the revelations and doctrines of their pretended prophet.
The great doctrine of the Koran is the unity of God; to restore which, Mahomet pretended was the chief end of his mission; it being laid down by him as a fundamental truth, that there never was, nor ever can be, more than one true orthodox religion ; that, though the particular laws or ceremonies are only temporary, and subject to alteration according to the divine direction, yet the substance of it, being eternal truth, is not liable to change, but continues immutably the same; and that, whenever this religion became neglected or corrupted in essential, God had the goodness to reinform and readinonish mankind thereof, by several prophets, of whom Moses and Jesus were the most distinguished, till the appearance of Mahomet, who is their seal, and no other to be expected after him. The more effectually to engage people to hearken tu him, a great part of the Koran is employed in relating examples of dreadful punishments, formerly inflicted by God on those who rejected and abused his messengers ; several of which stories, or some circumstances of them, are taken from the Old and New Testaments, but many more from the apocryphal books and traditions of the Jews and Christians of those ages, set up in their Koran as truths, in opposition to the Scriptures, which the Jews and Christians are charged with having altered ; and, indeed, few or none of the rela tions of circumstances in the Koran were invented by Mahomet, as is generally supposed; it being easy to trace the greatest part of them much higher, as the rest might be, were more of these books extant, and were it worth while to make the inquiry. The rest of the
Alcoran is taken up in prescribing necessary laws and directions, frequent admonitions to moral and divine virtues, the worship and reverence of the Supreme Being, and resignation to his will. There are also a great number of occasional passages in the Alcoran, relating only to particular emergencies. For, by his piecemeal method of receiving and delivering his revelations, Mahomet had this advantage—that, whenever he happened to be perplexed with any thing, he had a certain resource in some new morsel of revelation. It was an admirable contrivance to bring down the whole Alcoran only to the lowest heaven, not to earth ; since, had the whole been published at once, innumerable objections would have been made, which it would have been impossible for him to have solved; but as he received it by parcels, as God saw fit they should be published for the conversion and instruction of the people, he had a sure way to answer all emergencies, and extricate himself with honour from any difficulty which might oceur.
It is the common opinion, that Mahomet, assisted by one Sergius, a monk, composed this book; but the Mussulmans believe, as an article of their faith, that the prophet, who, they say, was an illiterate man, had no concern in inditing it; but that it was given him by God, who to that end made use of the ministry of the angel Gabriel ; that, however, it was communicated to him by little and little, a verse at a time, and in different places, during the course of twenty-three years. “And hence," say they, “proceed that disorder and confusion visible in the work ;” which, in truth, are so great, that all their doctors have never been able to adjust them; for Mahomet, or rather his copyist, having put all the loose verses promiscuously in a book together, it was impossible ever to retrieve the order wherein they were delivered. These twenty-three years which the angel employed in conveying the Alcoran to Mahomet, are of wonderful service to his followers; inasmuch as they furnish them with an answer to such an charge them with those glaring contradictions of