Edward Ryan.

The history of the effects of religion on mankind : in countries ancient and modern, barbarous and civilized online

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Ryan, Edward

The history of the effects

of religion on mankind











Seel. I. The Expediency of true Religion in civilized States, with tlie
Origin and EfFefts of Pagan Superftitions.

Sedl. II. The Effsfts of Judaifm on the Hebrews themfelves, and on
the Sentiments of Pagans.

Sea. III. Tendency and real Effefts of the Chriftian Code.

Se£l. IV. Origin, Progrefs, and Effefts of Mahometanifm,

By the Rev. E D W A R D "R Y A N, B. D.


Tully de Nat. Deer. Lib. I. Cap. ij.



ST. Paul's church yard.

voce LXXXVIi I,



Lord Archbifhop of D U B L I N.


'T^O whom could this work be fo properly
dedicated as to the friend and protestor
of its author ? Acce])t it then, my Lord, as
the offering of refpeft, efteem, and gratitude.
It is the only return I can make, for the
many favours and marks cf attention with
which I have been honoured by your grace ;
£ivours not a little enhanced by the free and
generous manner in which tiiey were con-
ferred. Excluf.ve of thefe conli.ierations,
the rectitude with which you, my Lord,
diicharge the duties of archbifl^op, fhould
in itfelf be a fufficient inducement to fubmit
this work to your grace's protection ; nor can
I doubt the patronage of him, whofe conduct
has ever evinced the fmcerefl: wifhes for the
advancem.ent of religion. You, my Lord,
have at all times difplayed a defire of difliii-
guifhing merit, hy your approbation and pro-
A 2 tedion ;

( iv )

te£llon ; and have laudably encouraged your
clergy to the faithful dlfcharge of their duty,
by various marks of attention and regard.
Were I fkilled in panegyric, I could point
out many virtues in your grace's private
character of huiband, father, friend, &c. &c.
but the virtues which you fo eminently
praflife in your public ftation, more peculiarly
demand a public acknowledgment ; which
cannot, in juftice, be withheld by him, who
has the honour to fubfcribe himfelf

Your Grace's mofl dutiful,
Moil obliged.
And mofl devoted Servant,

Edward Ryan,


•^ I ^ H E fubjecl of this work originated
from a queflion propofed, in the Uni-
verfity of Dublin, by the Provoft and Fel-
lows in the year 1775, entitled ** A DiiTer-
tation on the Influence of Religion on Civil
Society." Four months were allowed for
the difquifition ; and a premium was offered
to the author of the befl diflertation. The
right honourable John Hely Hutchinfon, the
Provoft, has attended more than any of his
predeceflbrs, to this mode of encouraging li-
terary compolitions ; and we have reafon
fliortly to exped: excellent works, from men
who have been taught early to arrange their
ideas, to write corredlly, and to diredt their
ftudies to important fubjedls. The author's
diflertation, on that queftion, was honoured
with a premium by that learned Society ;
and, in the year 1780, he was encouraged,
and prevailed on by the late Dr. Forefayth,
who was eminent for erudition, to enlarge
on the fubje6:. The author often lamented
A 3 thdt


that fbme of the moft learned and Ingenious
Fellows of that Univeililj, did not under-
take the tafk ; and ailures his readers, that
if he had forefeen the difficulties which were
to be encountered, and the degree of judg-
ment and inform, tion ^vhich would be ne-
ceflary m this dif^uifition, he would not
have engaged in this work, from a defpair
of doing juftice to lo important an enquiry.
Confcious that a treatife, which elucidates
theology by hiflory, will be more read than
dry diflertations on religion and morality;
the Author has blended theology with po-
licy, and the dodrines of all religions with
hiilory, both ancient and modern, civil and
eccleliaftical. in order to reduce this work
to a moderate uzq, fentences fhort and deem-
ed expreffive, have been preferred to well
turned periods; and thofe religious tenets
are feledted, which had an influence on po-
licy and morals, on the condition of indivi-
duals, and the welfare of barbarous, as well
as civilized ftates. By this feledlion many
important queftions are difcufl'ed in three
odavos ; the firft of which exhibits the effe^s
of JSlaturaly Pagan, ycwi/b, Chrijiian^ and
Mahometan religions. The next two volumes



will, doubtlefs, be more interefling to many
readers, as they contain the hiftory of events
lefs remote. This hiftory, in fome cafes,
detedls, without controverfy, falfe fyflems
of religion ; and fliews that do6lrines, which
tend to the detriment of fociety, and have
operated according to their tendency, could
not have been dictated, by a wife and good
God. On the contrary, the real and folid
advantages, which have refulted from the
Gofpel ; and the many evils which arofe from
breaches of its precepts, fhould attach men
to it, and induce the enemies of religion to
give it a fair hearing. Candidates for the
clerical profeffion might derive much ufeful
and neceffary information from a treatife of
this kind, which refers to fome of the befl
avithors on each fubject ; and comprifes,
within a narrow compafs, the fruits of many
years clofe fludy and refearch. Yet they
who read for the purpofe of cenfure will,
doubtlefs, be gratified, in perufing this
work ; for though it is fupported by hiflory,
and, in general, by arguments which can-
not be controverted ; ** yet it is not armed
at all points for battle, nor capable of land-
ing the teft of a captious controverfy." Can-

A 4 did


did and learned readers will readily excu^
trifling impel fe6lions, in a work ufeful in
its tendency, and extenfr/e in its informa-
tion ; but feverity is chiefly to be appre-
hended from men of fuperficial knowledge,
who poffefs, or think they poffefs fome tafte
ill compolition ; while they want judgment,
and information for a work of this nature.
The author of this trad has pointed out
errors, in writers far fuperior to him in un-
derftanding and knowledge ; and mull: ex-
pe6l the fime treatment, from fome who
are, perhaps, inferior to him in both thefe
refpeds. But he has not animadverted on
any writers, except thofe who held erroneous
opinions, which clafhed with his fyftem ;
or who held tenets fubverfive of morality
and detrimental to fociety. If he has, like
other writers, maintained fuch do6lrines ;
or voluntarily perverted the books which he
confulted ; he neither deicrves, nor dtfires
the Indulgence of his readers. If Criticks
fhould attack him, he has determined not
to fuffer an anfvver to interrupt the progrefs
of his two fucceeding volumes ; but will
poftpone his defence to the conclufion of the
Third. The Author could not conclude



this Preface, withonr exprefling his acknow-
ledgments to feveral men of learning, who
have each read one or more Sedions of this
volume, and favoured him with their re-
marks. He is much indebted to Dr. Agar,
Lord Archbifhop of Cafliel, for his judi-
cious obiervations refpe'ting the arrange-
ment ; and to Dr. Woodward, Lord Bifhop
of Cloyne, for perufing this entire volume,
and fugg^fting many inportant ideas in the
courle of this treatife. He is alfo indebted
to Dr. Bathurft, Canon of Chrift Church,
Oxford; and to Dr. Dobbin, Dr. Dabzac,
Dr. J. Kearney, Dr. Young, MefTrs. Bar-
rat, Burro wes, Elrington, Graves, (Fel-
lows of the Univerfity of Dublin) and other
learned men, who have each read particular
Sections of it, and honoured him with their




Expediency of true Religion to civilized
States, with the Origin and Effects of
Pagan Superstitions.

The origin and ejlablijliment of ciiil fociely. — T'le
expediency and defers of human laws. — Human

fanBions imperjcci. — Pagan legijlaiors employed re^
ligion to remedy the defeats of human laws. — Ten-
dency of natural religion to prevent crimes and
enforce oaths. — Its tendency with rejpcB to judges
and loitnejfesy princes and their [uh]e^s. — Source
of religious knoivledge among fome ancient nations,
—Effe5is of that religion, u/ually called naturaf
on the ancient Chinefe. — Effects of it on the ancient
Perfians. — E^eBs of it on the ancient Indians. —
Qiiejlion relative to the origin and effects of pa-
ganifm. — Anubis and Sphinx, Egyptian fymhols,
not real beings. — Ofiris and Neptune, fymbols, not
real beings. — Ifis, Ceres, Diana, and Venus. —
Mars, Hercules, Vulcan, Apollo, taken from Horus
an Egyptian Jymbol. — Mu/es, Graces, Pallas, Pales
taken from the figures of Ijn. — Symbols and fu-
neral ceremonies of the Egyptians the fource of

fables. — Fable of the Giants and Proferpine. — Mer-



cury, Mem7ton and Bacchus. — Origin of the wor-
JJiip of animals ^ of augury and other fuperjlitions,
—"Origin of idolatry and the workup of falfe
Gods. — Brucker's opinion examined. — Caufes of
ohfcurity in Heathen Mythology. — Cicero's opinion
examined. — Effe^s of paganifm in Egypt. — Po-
pular religion of other Pagan nations. — Paganifm
prodiiHive of impurity^ adultery and drmikennefs,
— Paganifm a fnurce of cruelty. The fame fub-
jcH continued. — Pagan priefls and players did not
refrain vice in the Roman empire. — Philo/opbers
did not refirain vice by precept or examiple. — Pa-
gan lawgivers inculcated fom.e virtues. — Pagan^
ifm a mere political contrivance. — Heathen ora-
cles. — Some particular effeBs of paganifm in Hea-
then gov ernmenls. — Effects of various Pagan fu-
perfitions. — Paganifm afffled the Pomans in ex-
tending their conquefs. — Superfiition contributed
to the deflrul^ion of the Roman empire. — The fi ale
of religion among Pagans ^ proves the necefUy of
Jupernatural affjlance. Page i.


Effects of Judaism on the Hebrews them-

T>fign of the miracles of Mofes and of his whole law.
'^Intention and efcHs of the fabhath, — Of the



Hebrew fejliv ah. — Of the fahhatical year, juhilee
and laws of ujury. — Of clean and unclean beajls
and the place of worfiip. — Means employed to pro-
cure refpe5i for God. — Of the tabernacle and tem-
ple. — Of Jacnfices and lujlrations. — Tendency of
the theocracy and of temporal Jan£f ions. — Effects of
thofe fanSfions in the time cf judges. — Effects of
them in the time of kings. — Intention cf particular
laws and rites of Jitdaifm. — 'The fame fubjeEl con-
tinued. — The fame fubjecl continued. — General ten-
dency of the Mofaic riieSy preceptSy and prohibitions.
— The Mofaic rites and injlitutions local and iem-
porajy. — Laws of Mofes preferable to thofe of
Pagan lawgivers. — His writings of divine autho-
rity,, — Temporal fanBions prove his divine com-
mijfion. — The truth of his account confrmed by
Bryant. — fudaifm imperJeB. — Judaifm prepared
men for the gofpel. — Hebrew writings vfeful in
chronology and hifiory. — Mofaic account of the crea-
tion tends to remove feme errors of naturalijls. —
Jews and their tenets known to ancient Pagans. —
Hebrews and Heathens relate the fame faBs.— Plato
borrowed from the Hebrezvs. — OrpheuSj Horner^
Solon and others bo7'rowed from them. — Greeks in-
debted to them by the teflimony of the learned.-—
Ancient philofophers borrowed their theology. —
Greek philofophers were plagiaries. — Their abfiir-
dities prove that they borrowed their theology. — Di-
vine attributes not invefligatcd by reafon. — Brucker
errs in denying that Heathens borrowed from He-


brews* The fame fubjeSl continued, — He errs in
denying that Plato borrowed from them. He errs
•with refpeH to the Jimilitude of Jewifi and Pagan
dogmas. — Whether the law allowed cf human facri-
fccs. — How far it was lawful to ejed and dejlroy
the Canaanites. — The election cf the Hebrews no
argument cf divine partiality. Page 89


Tendency and Effects of the Christian


DoUrines rnd motives of the gofpel. — Lord Kaims's
idea of univerfal benevole7Jce. — His opinion of the
malignant afeBions. — Bolingbroke approves of the
moral fyjlem of Chrijiians.— Gofpel motives to obe-
dience preferable to any other. — 'The praBices of
barbarous fates prove the expediency of the Chrijiian
fyfem. — The gofpel tends to abolifi the evils of re-
venge among Barbarians. — Cruelty and murder
among uncivilized fates. — Excellence of the gofpel
proved front the bad effecls of violating its precepts
in PeriL and other places. — Bad effc^s of violating
it in the Englifi colonies of the Wejl and Eaf In-
dies. — EJfeds of violating it in Denmark^ Irela?id,
Poland and Rvjfia. — Effeds of modern Paganifm
prove the excellent tendency of the gofpel.— The



gofpel tends to revici'e the bad ejFccts ofjalfe ideas
of futurity. — It tends to aholifi auflerities and other
effe^s of fdperfiition. — Effects ofFaganifm at Ma-
labar, Narfinga, and other places. — Effects of Fa-
ganfhi in North and South America. — Some fuper-
flitions produHive of genilenefs among Indians and
Peruvians. — Frauds in Chma, ArrakaUy and other
places. — Frauds in Peru, Congo, Loango, and other
places. — Frauds in Whidah,Guinea^and other places,
— Frauds in Japan and other places. - Frauds of
priefls marks of falfe religion — Dijfcult to a/cer^
tain the actual effe5is of the gofpel. — The gofpel
aboViflied divorce and polygamy. — It mitigated thz
rigours offervitude. — Its teachers prcfervedjufiicc
and checked warriors. — Gofpel abolifhed barbarous
practices. — It aholijlied the fights of gladiators.' —
— // rendered Britons, Scots, Gauls and Irifli hfs
barbarous. — It checked cruelty in China and Japan,
— It abolifJied human facrifices and other cruelties
in many places. — Aljo idolatry and cruelty in Ger-
many, Paraguay, and Canary if ands. — It diffufed
knowledge and aboUfoed feme bad effeEis of fuper-
fliiion. — Its teachers pre ferved learning. — The ex-
ample of Chriflians taught Pagans kindnefs to the
diflreffed. — Gofpel rendered its frf profelytes true
and honefi ; — patient, confant and chafe. — Cor-
re^ed pride and vanity. — Improved the old Roman
laws. — Calumnies agaivfl Chriflians and the gofpel
ferviceable to both. — Chrijlians falfely accufed of
inceft and devouring infants.— Of being atheifls
2 and


and authors of public calamities, — Of turhuknde,'^
Of being poor and ignorant, — And ujtiefs member i
of fociety. — TeriuUiafi and Jufiin Manyr -provt
mankind refor?ned by the gofpel.— The fame proved
by other authors. — Julian and Pliny adiyiit the vir-
tues oj Chrijlians. — An affertion of Mr. Gibbon eX'
amined, — Animadverfions on Dr, Prief ley's ^6th
■tenure. Page [84


On the Origin, Progress, and Effects of

Enquiry into the origin of Mahometanifm^ ufeful and.
curious. — State of religion in Arabia^ and the dif
putes of Chrifiian churches favoured Mahomet's
deftgns. — Imbecility of neighbouring nations, and
the political Jiate of Arabia contributed to his fuC'
cefs. — Means employed in propagating his religion.
•—The famejubje5f continued. — Parts of the Koran
defgned to extricate him from fame difficiUty or
gratify fome paffion. — CharaBer of Mahomet.—'
He abolif led fome fuperjlitious and barbarous prac^
tices of Pagan Arabs. — Many of his doBrines bor-
rowed, and irferior to ihofe in the originals. — His
unborrowed opinions falje, contradictory and ridi-
culous, — His paradife and hell. — Paradife and
other doctrines contributed to his fucceffts. — Death
of Mahomet, and ejiablifiment of the Caliphat. — .-



Mahometanifm affjled Cakd in reducing Perjia
and other places. — It afhfted him in red'.icwo; Da-
mafcus. — It ajfiflrd Ok-idah in redvnng HeviSy
Jerufalemy and other places. — All Syria, Eo;ypt,
and part of Perjia^ jubmit to the Saracens in the
Caliphat of Omar. — -Other places fuhmitted to
them in his Caliphat.-^-Other caufes concurred with
Mahometanifm in promoting the conquejls of the
Saracens. — Comparifon of Chrijtianitv and Maho-
metanifm in the tendency and effcHs of their doc-
trines. — Comparifon of the lives and doBrines of
Chrifl and Mahomet. — Difftculty of making apoj-
tatesfrom Mahometanifm. — Dcfpotifm an effeB of
the conquejis of the Saracens. — The Koran fccures
private property to individuals.'— Ignorance an ef-
fe£l of Mahometanifm. — Revenge^ illibcrality, and
extortion effe£}s of it. — EffeBs of the doctrine of
Fredejiination. — EffcBs of Mahometan devotions
on individuals and communities,^— Excels of Ma-
hometanifm prove the excclknt tendency of Chrifl
tianity. Page 297









Expediency of true Religicn to chilizcd States^ with
the Origin and Effe^s of Pagan Superflitions.

SOME moralifts, enquiring into the origin and sect.
advantages of civil inftitutions, have exhi- ,^ J^ ,

bited a pi6ture of a (late of nature, which never The origin
exiltedi except in their own tertile imaginations, buiiimentof
In this ftate, they have fuppofed a confiderable "^'^ '''^'^^^'
number of men deftitute of every juft notion of
property, maiming, murdering^ and plundering
each other. Thefe men, by exaggerated defcrip-
tions of the evils of this fantaftic ftate, probably
B intended

^he Uifiory of the Effctfs

intended to compliment Icginators and founders
of ftates. But the hypothefis of thefc moralifts
is repugnant to reafon, and to the moft ancient
account of the origin of mankind. The hiftory
of the Hebrew lawgiver affures us, that mankind
fprung from a fingle pair, who mud have kept
their children fubje8; to parental government, and
inculcated both moral and focial duties. As
mankind multiplied, the ties of blood were gradu-
ally loofened, men's private interefts were feparated,
and, as we may reafonably fuppofe, feveral fmall
focieties were formed independent of each other.
But thefe focieties, being refpe61ively in the con-
dition afcribed to individuals in a ftate of nature,
muft have been fubject to the evils refulting from
that ftate. Should any difpute arife between two
families, or between two members of different
families, we may guefs the confcquences : for
want of a common judge, prejudice and felf-love
muft render men obftinate, warp the judgment,
and magnify offences to fuch a degree, that the
conteft naturally terminates in riot and bloodftied.
To avoid thefc inconveniences, and to obtain all
the advantages of a focial ftate, individuals and
tribes judged it expedient to unite in Ibciety.
Before fuch union they enjoyed uncontroled li-
berty, and were fubjc6t to no earthly jurifdi6lion
but parental. However, as this liberty was un-
certain in its duration, and liable to encroach-
ments : it is reafonable to fuppofe, that men


of Religion on Mankind, 3

would clieerfully refign part of it ; in order to S E c t.
preferve the remainder inviolate. This refigna- s— v — -*,
tion was made by the eftablifhment of civil polity,
which deprived man of his original independence,
and of all right of avenging himfelf ; and fub-
je6led him to fuch laws, as were enacted by gene-
ral confent for the common intereft. Nor was it
difficult to prevail on men to affociate together,
and unite in focieties. Their weaknefs, their
wants, and the many evils, to which they were
expofed, required it; while a propenfity to pro-
pagation and a love of their offspring made fuch
focieties defirable and ufeful. The Roman ora-
tor {a) acquaints us, that even mifanthropes feek
for the fociety of men, to whom they might
communicate their thoughts, and difcharge their
malice on the reft of mankind. The diverfity of
talents produced a reciprocal dependence amongft
men, the faculty of fpeech, which is ufelefs out
of fociety, fitted them for it ; a denre of praife
prompted them to it {h') ; and all thefe circum-
ftances concur in proclaiming it to be the divine
will, that men fliould enter into a focial ftate ;
for, what reafon and human neceffities di6late, we
may be fully perfuaded is the divine will. A
late ingenious writer maintains, that man is a
compound of unfocial afic£lions as well as focial;

{a) De Araicitia, cap. 23. {b) See Tyckcx's Treatif*

on Government, Part II. e. 1.

B 3 and

4 ^e Hijlory of the EffeEis

SECT, and that the former are as natural to man as^.the
V — V — ' latter. That averfion to ftrangers makes a branch
of our nature, exiRs among individuals in private
life, flames high beiv^^een neighbouring^ tribes, and
is vifibie even in infancy. That favage nations
who are gentle, juft, -good-natured and grateful to
thofe of their own tribe are' falfe and faithicfs to
ftrangers and foreigners. " T-hat Europeans, who
vifited fome iflands of the South-Sea, found the
natives with arms in their hands, ref'olute to pre-
vent their landing. That among the Koriacks,
bordering on Kamfcatka, murder within the tribe
is feverely punidied; while the murder of a
flranger is not minded." But, might not the
averfion fubfifting among neighbouring tribes be
afcribed to quarrels, which are unavoidable, where
property is undetermined, and no written laws to
terminate difputes ? It fhould not be confidered
as a proof of unfocial affections, that favages arm
themfelves to repel Europeans, who were gene-
rally known to vifit their coafts, not to gratify
curiofity, but to difturb their tranquility and
ftrip them of their pofleffions. Nor is it fair to
judge of human nature from favages, who acl
more from example and felf-defence, than from
the refinements of reafon. Had this writer pe-
rufed the works of the benevoient Cumberland,
he could not have maintained, the malignant af-
feftions to be natural to man, without attempting
to refute him j cfpecially, as the argument from


of Religion on Mankind. 5

favages, who are as narrow in their afFeBions, as sec t,

in their education ; cannot overthrow the reafon- * ^ — '

ings of that prelate, which are founded on the
nature of man and on his obh'gations to virtue.
Even Lord Kaims pro;duceb inflances, in the fame
Sketch, of difinterefted benevolence among nations
and tribes, who poffibly were flrangers to the vio-
lence of invaders. This writer afferts, that " the
inhabitants of fonie fouthern iflands appear to
have little or no averfion to flrangers ; and that
among the Celtas it was capital to kill a ftrangcr,
whereas the killing a citizen was but banilh-
ment (c).

Both reafon and refpeQable authorities (c?) Expediency

1 • n • and defefts

evince, that human laws were inltituted to pre- of human
vent injuftice, to protedl the weak, to reflrain the
t-urbulent, to encourage virtue, and to promote
the peace and intereft of fociety. If human laws
do not uniformly produce thofe falutary effefts,
the original intention of entering into fociety is
fo fa fruflrated, as thcjfe laws are defettive. But
the toUowing obfervatlons, borrowed chiefly from
the writings of a learned bifhop (^), fully prove
that human laws are-not fufFiciently coercive, nor
produftive of all the advantages, which they were
intended to produce. Human laws, being the
Gomi^ofitions of weak, prejudiced or interefted

(r) Book 11. Sketch I. [d] Hor. Lib. I. Sat. ili.

Jir. Tu'ily de Leg. Lib. L cap. 22. and Lib. IL cap. 5.
(f) Warburton's Divine Legation, Book L fed. 2.

' B 3 men.

6 The ITifiory of the Effects

s t c T. men, are not always juft, and when juft, cannot
"^■i , I f provide againlt all diforders in a ftate : many
grievances necefTarily efcaping the for.; fight of the
wifeft legiflators. They are frequently ambigu-
ous, equivocal and liable to milinterpretation, and
the plained and mofl; fimple are often wrefted
from their obvious meaning and intention. Po-
litical laws, ever attentive to the external anions
of men, forbid only fuch enormities as are evi-
dently pernicious to fociety, and plainly defiruc-
tive of human happinefs. They take no cogni-

Online LibraryEdward RyanThe history of the effects of religion on mankind : in countries ancient and modern, barbarous and civilized → online text (page 1 of 24)