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Fig. 1.--The Winged Sun of Thebes.
THE history of religious error is the history of the mind wandering in its search after Truth. We meet among the gross idolatry of one nation, as in the purer religion of another nation, the same acknowledgment that man is not his own creator, and that he is dependent for his welfare upon the will of some being or beings more powerful than himself.
The cultivated man, when studying the wonders of the creation around him, traces them back through numerous secondary causes to one great First Cause, and thus arrives at the belief in One Undivided God; and feels more sure of the truth of his reasoning in proportion to the simplicity to which it leads him. On the other hand, an observing but unphilosophical man, in the childhood of the world when he had noted the various secondary causes which produce all the effects which meet his senses, would perhaps look no further; and he thus arrived at the belief in a variety of gods. But this is not always the case. Some nations seem, like the modern Turks, to have arrived at a belief in one God, as if from indolence of mind, from blind fatalism, from mere want of observation of the numerous causes which are working around them. Thus
many of the Arabic races in the neighbourhood of Egypt, as well as the Israelites, traced the hand of one only God, or Great First Cause, in all they enjoyed and all they suffered. But the Egyptians, like the Greeks and Romans, seeing so many causes at work, and not perceiving that they might all be set in motion by One First Cause, thought that every blessing that they received, and every misfortune that befel them, was the work of a different god. They thus peopled the seen and the unseen world beyond with a variety of beings or powers. To these they returned thanks for the blessings that they enjoyed, or more often, as led by a melancholy and less grateful disposition, addressed entreaties that they would withhold their injuries and punishments. The sculptured monuments of the country teach us the figures and sometimes the characters of these imaginary beings, together with the cities and parts of the kingdom in which each was more particularly worshipped.