CHRISTMAS DAY. 177
cent pleasures and the exercise of the domestic charities. This was reserved for the Christian religion;—one of the marks of whose divinity it is, that it can mingle with many of the pleasures and all the virtues of the world, without sullying the purity of its glory—without depressing the sublime elevation of its character. The rites of Ceres were thought profaned, if the most virtuous believer of the divinity of that goddess beheld them, without having undergone the ceremonies of special initiation. The worship of Saturn gave rise to a liberty inconsistent with the ordinary government of states. At the altar of Diana, on certain days, the Spartans flogged children to death. And the offerings which, on state occasions, the Romans made to Jupiter, were such as feudal vassals might offer to their warlike lord. But now, thank God !—to use the words of Milton's Hymn on the Nativity:—
" Peor and Baalim Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd God of Palestine; And mooned Ashtaroth, Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine \ The Lybick Hammon shrinks his horn; In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch, fled, Has left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue; In vain with Cymbals' ring, They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue : The brutish Gods of Nile as fast, Iris, and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud , Nor can he be at rest, Within his sacred chest;
Naught but profoundest hell can be his shroud In vain, with timbrelled anthems dark. The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worship"d ark.
He feels from Judah'sr land The dreaded Infant's hand ; 13