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"the succourer;" and his soldiers, who followed him, were inspired with a kind of religious ardour. Josephus relates, that he proclaimed throughout Asia, that the God, whom the Hebrews worshipped, had foretold his name by the prophets, and that he should build him an house at Jerusalem, and that this was made known to him by Isaiah's writings, composed 140 years before the temple was destroyed. He adds, that Cyrus, on reading the prophecy, was seized with an ardent desire to fulfil it, and permitted the Jews to return and to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, promising them assistance and contribution from the neighbouring rulers and governors, as was accordingly imparted. He goes on to say, that Cyrus restored the sacred vessels, which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away and that he sent an epistle to the governor of Syria, informing him that the expense of rebuilding the temple was to be defrayed out of the royal revenues, and enumerating the sacred vessels which were - to be restored *. Cyrus might have deived from the Jews the conviction relating the immortality of the soul which he exssed as death.
b. xi. c. 1. and Theodoret.
On the Heathen Morality.
THEY who look to the Heathen morality as it is occasionally displayed in the works of Aristotle, Plato, Xenophon, and Cicero, and in later times in the writings of Seneca, Epictetus, and Plutarch, will be often inclined to regard it as entitled to considerable respect. It is in many instances refined by the most successful efforts of reason, and matured by the deductions of long observation and experience. In some places we seem to trace the finger of God inscribing moral impressions on the heart; and at others, we behold the highest discoveries of philosophy pushed so far, as to exhibit a kind of anticipation of that knowledge, which was afterwards revealed, or some acquaintance with the Divine precepts imparted in the Gospel.
Some instructions of eternal wisdom, spread abroad on the scattered leaves of revelation,
or handed down by tradition, demonstrate that God" at no time left himself without a "witness," or withheld entirely that light, which might direct the conscience. Intermixed, however, with the just principles which at all times had established their authority, there were every where to be discovered the defects of imperfect knowledge." Erroneous opinions, and fallacious maxim3, mingled their deceptions with the dictates of truth; while motives of false glory, and objects of pernicious tendency, were allowed to excite the evil passions, and mislead the bewildered imaginations of men.
As the traces of the Patriarchal Faith disappeared, the various superstitions of antiquity prevailed, and they generated false and pernicious systems of ethics in proportion as men receded from the standard of primeval simplicity. A depravity of moral principle was to be traced in connection with the prevalency of erroneous notions, as to the nature of the deities who were worshipped.
The withdrawing of the mind from a contemplation of the attributes of God to a consideration of the qualities of those objects of worship, which were substituted in his place -the shipping of the creature rather than
the Creator, led to every kind of misappre hension and error. The veneration entertained by the Assyrians and Persians for the elements of the visible world; the gross superstition of the Egyptians for objects in the animal and material systems; and the idolatrous regard paid by the Greeks and Romans to deified mortals, could not be expected to produce any codes of morality of a pure and unexceptionable character.
A knowledge of the relation which subsisted between God and his creatures, and a sense of a peculiar sanctity conferred on the Jews by the divine favour, produced a convietion of strong obligations to holiness, among that people, whilst their minds were enlightened by the purity of their faith: but upon a general and collective view of the Pagan discoveries, and upon a consideration of what might be composed from a combination of the most perfect and improved theories of unenlightened nations, we shall find that there is nothing, which can be framed from the united splendor of the Heathen systems, that can exhibit even a faint shadow of excellency, when compared with the Gospel.
Without judging it necessary to enter into any particular detail upon this copious subject, it may be observed, that the deficiency
of the Heathen codes is shewn, as well by the inferiority of the motives, as by the defect of the principles.
It is sufficiently evident, that wherever the foundation is unsound, the structure must fail; and that the Heathen morality rested on a false basis, will appear, if we reflect that it was framed without sufficient knowledge of the attributes and will of God, and without any just apprehension of the fallen nature of man.
It is true that many Heathen writers proposed the attainment of the divine favour as a principle of virtue; this however is ever blended with an undue deference to motives of earthly consideration, and the favour which is looked to is not that of a being whose perfections are defined, so as to become the objects of well regulated piety or humble
The Almighty is not viewed in that light in which he is disclosed to us; and such service was not enjoined as is consistent with the condition of a being, guilty of transgression, and every way accessible to temptation and sin. The motives, which revelation tends to excite, are all of the purest and most excellent kind, directly conspiring to the