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us be the followers. They may have been despised among men, but they have been owned and honored of God; and in following them, we shall be owned and honored too. The blessing of many ready to perish will descend upon us while here below; while our prayers, and labors, and alms, like those of good Cornelius, will ascend up for a memorial of us before the throne of our heavenly Father. Amen.
OUR INDEBTEDNESS TO MISSIONS A REASON FOR SUPPORTING THEM.
1 Corinthians xii. 2.
"Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols even as ye were led.”
THE apostle Paul, in writing to the Gentile converts, often found it necessary to remind them of what they once were, and from what they had been recovered by means of the gospel. Such hints, he might naturally suppose would serve to humble them, give them a sense of the value of the gospel, and excite them to the performance of those duties which were devolving on them as professed followers of Christ. Of his adopting and pursuing the course here spoken of, we have an example in the words of the text. "Ye know," says he to the Corinthians, by way of introducing instruction and reproof relative to the subject of spiritual gifts-" Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
It may be profitable to us, my brethren, to consider at this time our great indebtedness to the gospel, and the fearful depths of debasement and wretchedness, from which, by means of it, we have been preserved. Though it cannot be said of us personally, that we have been palpable idolaters; still it is in a sense true that we have been saved from idolatry, with all its attendant miseries and horrors, by means
of the gospel. Our European ancestors, let it be impressed on us, were once heathens, "carried away unto dumb idols, even as they were led." They were the blinded, determined votaries of an idolatrous and bloody superstition; and had they not been recovered from it by means of the gospel, we might have been born under the same yoke, and lived and died in the same miserable state.
In pursuing this subject, I shall
I. Describe some of the more prominent features of that superstition which formerly prevailed in the land of our fathers.
II. Shew when, and by what means, they were brought to a knowledge of Christianity. And,
III. Consider the duties devolving on us, in consequence of what was then done for them.
The inhabitants of Britain and the adjacent countries, from whom we claim to be descended, were once a cruel and ferocious race of Pagans. Their priests, if priests they could be called, were denominated Druids; who dwelt chiefly in impenetrable forests, dens, and caverns, far from the abodes of men. They kept themselves and their pursuits in profound secrecy and mystery, by which means they were enabled to hold all around them in a state of the most debasing terror and servitude. They are said to have been worshippers of the oak; and when their sacred tree was cut down, would even deify its shapeless stump. The Misseltoe, a small shrub growing on the boughs of the oak, was also an ob-ject of high veneration. Their sacrifices were offered in thick groves of oak, and on some occasions in temples, or more properly enclosures,. formed of massy, stones. One of these, denominated Stonehenge, is partly standing in England at the present
time; and the sites of several others have been discovered. It will give us a sufficiently dreadful idea of the rites of the Druids, and the religious customs of our Pagan ancestors, to know that they were in the frequent if not constant practice of offering human sacrifices. That this was their practice, is certain from the testimony of all credible historians, ancient and modern, who have treated the subject. Cesar, speaking of the inhabitants of Gaul and Britain, with whom he had the best opportunity of being acquainted, says, "They are much addicted to superstition; and for this cause, those who are afflicted with a dangerous disease often sacrifice a man for their recovery. In this business they employ the ministry of the Druids; because these have declared to them, that the anger of the immortal gods cannot be appeased so as to spare the life of one man, but by the life of another."-Suetonius assures us that the Druids sacrificed men; and says that Mercury is the god to whom they offered them.-"Pliny asserts, that they considered it as a part of their most solemn and most obligatory religion, to put men to death; and that to feed upon their dead bodies, they esteemed most wholesome. The human victims were in general selected from among the criminals; but when none of these were to be had, they did not scruple to sacrifice innocent persons."-Lucan, in his description of a grove in which the Druids performed their rites, after stating that the trees were so thick and interwoven that the rays of the sun could not penetrate through their branches, adds, "there was nothing to be seen there but a multitude of altars, upon which the Druids sacrificed human victims, whose blood turned the very trees of a horrid crimson colour." Diodorus Siculus states it as the general object of
these sacrifices, that "by the falling of the victim, or the tearing of his members, or the manner in which his blood gushed out, they might consult what measures to take, or learn what was to befal them."
Both Goldsmith and Hume, speaking in their respective histories concerning the Druids, say, "No species of superstition was ever more terrible than theirs. They sacrificed human victims, which they sometimes burned in large wicker cages, made so capacious as to contain a multitude of persons at once, who were thus consumed together. And besides these severe penalties which they were permitted to inflict in this world, they inculcated the eternal transmigration of souls, and thus extended their authority as far as the fears of their votaries. They were dreaded and almost adored by the people." The Editors of the new Edinburgh Encyclopædia give us the following account, relative to this subject. "The most horrid of the superstitious rites of the Druids consisted. in human sacrifices. The victim or victims, for there were sometimes several, were enclosed in a large figure resembling a man, formed of osier twigs; or according to some authors, they were simply wrapped round with hay. In this state, fire was applied, and they were reduced to ashes."--Another historian has observed, "The people were so devoted to this shocking custom of human sacrifices, that no business of any moment was transacted among them, without being prefaced by the blood of men. The altars, where these offerings were made, were far removed from the common resorts of mankind, being situated in the depth of woods, that the surrounding gloom might add to the horror of the operation, and give a reverence to the place and the proceeding." -When Professor Silliman was in England, he