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calling a witness to our secret thoughts, which no one can know but God, They deem it a species of idolatry to erect magnificent tombs; but to kiss relics, &c. is idolatry itself; and therefore they affirm, that it it an action acceptable to God to destroy the tombs of Mahomedan saints in Arabia and Persia, and to appropriate their rich ornaments to worldly purposes, for which they were designed. They say, that it is wicked to mourn for the dead, for if they were good Mahomcdans their souls are in paradise, at which their friends .should rejoice. The Wahabees reject the whole of the traditions, limiting their belief to the Koran, which was, they say, sent from heaven to Mahomed, who was an excellent man, and much beloved of God. They continue to preserve the usages of circumcision, ablution, &c. which they found established, but consider them more as matters of practice and usage than of faith. The leading principle of this sect is their right to destroy and plunder all who differ from them: and those Mahometans who do not adopt their creed are represented as far less -entitled to mercy than either Jews ■or Christians. Their progress was so great about ten years ago, as to excite considerable alarm in the Turkish government. Among other places, they plundered the rich tombs of Aly and his sons at Nujuff and Kerbelah. Their inroads are always dreadful, for they spare none who do not conform to their opinions; but they have lately met with some severe checks, and appear to be ideelinine.

THE SECT OF S00FFEES.

{From the Same)

Jn a chapter upon the religion of Persia it is impossible to pass over the Sooffees. That extraordinary class of devotees have been before noticed; but they claim a fuller description. We discover from the evidence of Mahomedan authors, that these en thuBiasts were co-existent with their religion. Their rapturous zeal, perhaps, aided in no slight degree its first establishment; but they have since been considered among the most dangerous of its enemies. There can lie no doubt that their free opinions regarding its dogmas, their contempt of its forms, and their claim to a distinct communion with the Deity, are all calculated to subvert that belief for which they outwardly profess their respect; and their progress has, consequently, been deemed as synonimous with that of infidelity. There is no country over which the tenets of the Sooffees have, at different periods, been more widely diffused than Persia. The great reputation acquired by one of their priests, enabled his descendants to occupy the throne of that kingdom for more than two centuries: but the monarchs of the Suffavean dynasty were too sensible of the aid which their power derived from the continuance of an established and understood religion, to indulge in the rapt and visionary dreams of their pious ancestors. Their country, however, continued to abound with persons who believed in the tenets ^hich these had taught;

-and and the increase of their numbers has been, of late years, so great in Persia, that the Mahometan divines of that nation have called upon the reigning king to defend the true faith from the attacks of several popular teachers; who, from the sanctity •f their lives, and the delusive character of their doctrines, had acquired an alarming popularity. The monarch has, in consequence, adopted the most rigorous proceedings; and his severity has, for the moment, repressed a flame, which it would appear more calculated to increase than te extinguish.

It would be vain to attempt to give a full history of the Sooffee doctrine; traces of which exist, in some shape or other, in every region of the world. It is to be found in the most splendid theories of the ancient schools of Greece, and in those of the modern philosophers of Europe. It its the dream of the most ignorant, and of the most learned; and is seen at one time indulging in the shade of ease, and at another traversing the pathless desart. It •very where professes to be adverse to error and superstition, but exists by the active propagation of both. The wild and varied doctrines of their teachers are offered to the disciples of this sect, in the place of the forms and usages of their religion. They are invited to embark on the sea •f doubt, under the guidance of a sacred teacher, whom they are required todcem superiorto all other mortals, and \\ orthy of a holy confidence that borders, upon adoration. It is in India, beyond all ether dimes, that this delusive

and visionary doctrine baft most flourished. There is, in the habits of that nation, and in the character of the Hindoo religion, what peculiarly cherishes thai mysterious spirit of holy abstraction in which it is founded: and we may grant our belief to the conjecture which assumes, that India is the source from whence other nations have derived this mystic worship of the Divinity.

The general name which the Persian followers of this sect have adopted, is Sooffee; a term which implies pure: and by this all ranks who adopt this creed are known, from the revered teacher, who is followed by thousands of disciples, to- the humblest dervish, or fakecr, who travels about naked, and begs alms to support him in that life of prayer which he has voluntarily adopted.

The Sooffees represent themselves as entirely devoted to the search of truth, and as incessantly occupied in the adoration of the Almighty, an union with whom they desire with all the ardour of divine love. The great Creator is, according to their belief, diffused over all his creation. He exists every where, an-l in every thing. They compare the emanations of his divine essence, or spirit, to the rays of the sun; which are, they conceive, continually darted forth, and reabsorbed. It is for this reabsoqition in flie divine essence, to which their immortal part belongs, that they continually sigh. They believe that the soul of man, and that the principle of life, which exists throughout all nature, is not from God, but of

God;

God; and hence those doctrines which their adversaries have held to be the most profane, as they were calculated to establish a degree of equality of nature between the created and the Creator.

The Sooffee doctrine teaches that there are four stages through which man must pass before he can reach the highest, or that of divine beatitude; when, to use their own language, "his corporeal veil will be removed, and his emancipated soul will mix again with the glorious essence, from whicli it had been separated, but not divided.'' The first of these stages is that of humanity, which supposes the disciple to live in an obedience to the holy law, and an observance of all the rites, customs, and precepts of the established religion; which are admitted to be useful in regulating the lives, and restraining within proper bounds the vulgar mass, whose souls cannot reach the heights of divine contemplation, and who might be corrupted and misled by that very liberty of faith whjch tends to enlighten and delight those of superior intellect, or more fervent devotion. The second stage, in which the disciple attains power, or force, is termed the road, or path; and he who arrives at this, leaves that condition in which he is only admitted to admire and follow a teacher, and enters the pale of Sooffeeism. He may now abandon all observance ■of Teligious forms and ceremonies, as he exchanges, to use their own phrase, practical for spiritual worship;" but

this stage cannot be obtained without great piety, virtue, and fortitude; for the mind cannot' he trusted in the neglect of usages' and rites, necessary to restrain it when weak, till it has acquired strength from habits of mental devotion, grounded on a proper' knowledge of its own dignity, and of the divine nature of the Almighty. The third stage is that of knowledge; and the disciple who arrives at it is deemed to have attained supernatural knowledge; or, in other words, to be inspired: and he is supposed, when he reaches this state, to be equal to the angels. The fourth and last stage is that which denotes his arrival at truth; which implies his complete union with the Divinity.

The Sootf'ees are divided into innumerable sects, as must be the case in a doctrine which may be termed the belief of the imagination. By enumerating a few of the most remarkable of these sects, the character of the whole will be understood: for though they differ in name, and some minor usages, they are all agreed in the principal tenets; and particularly in those which inculcate the absolute necessity of a blind submission to inspired teachers, and the possibility, through fervent piety and enthusiastic devotion, *f ..ttaining for the soul, even when the body inhabits the earth, a state of celestial beatitude.

Authors are divided whether there are two or seven of what can be deemed original sects among the Sooflees: but a very' learned writer, whose hostile ■ bigotry made him djre'l all Ms ability

ability to explain and confute the doctrines of the Sooffees, after enumerating the seven that are supposed to be original, states his opinion, that there are but two entitled to that distinction. These are called the Hulooleah, or " the inspired," and the Itahedelh, or " the unionists." He deems the other five sects, which have been considered by many as original, to be only branches from these two. The principle maintained by the Hulooleah, or "the inspired," is, that God has entered or descended into them; and that the Divine Spirit enters into all who are devout, and have an intelligent mind. The Itahedeah, or "unionists," believe that God is as one with every enlightened being. They compare the Almighty to flame, and their souls to charcoal; and say, that in the same manner that charcoal when it meets flame becomes flame, their immortal part, from its union with God, becomes God. It has, the learned author here followed states, been aliinned, that these two sects, which are now deemed original, arc derived from a sect called Hermaneah, who borrowed their tenets from the Sabettcah, or "ancient Sabians." "Impious men," he observes, " desirous to conceal from themselves the great error, into which they had fallen, have tried to connect the doctrines of these sects with that of the twelve holvlmaums, to which they have not the slightest afli • nity: but," he adds, " the principal tenets of the Hulcokah certainly approach the creed of the Nazarenes, who believe that the Spirit of God entered iuto the

womb of the Virgin Marr, ana* thence the doctrine of the di*ira nature of their prophet, Jesus."

Character Of The Peksiavs.

(From the Same J

There is a considerable diflerecee of character among the inhabitant' of the various cities and towes of Persia, which originates in th* opposite feelings and habits which they have derived from their ancestors. The natives of Kazreen. Tabreez, Hamadan, Shiraz, sad Yezd, are as remarkable for their courage, as those of Koom, Ksshan, and Isfahan, are for their cowardiee. The former are chiefly descended from martial tribe* i while the forefathers of the laiser have, for many centuries, pursuedciviloccupations. But, though some of the citizens of Persia ore less warlike than others, the different shades of character whTob this occasions are not of so much consequence as to prevent their being included in a general description. The whole of this community may be deemed, as far As regards their personal appearance, a fine race of men: they are not tall; but it is rare to see any cr" them diminutive or deformed, and they are in general strong and active. Their complexions vary from a dark olive to a fairness which approaches that of a northern European: and if they hsve not all the bloom of the latter, their florid healthy look often gives them no inconsiderable share of beauty. As a people, they may be praised for their quickness of apprehension, their vivacity, and

the

tlie natural politenessof their manners. They are sociable and cheerful; and, with some remarkable exceptions, as prodigal in disbursement as they are eager of gain. The higher classes of the citizens of Persia are kind and indulgent masters; and the lower ranks are, as far as respects the active performance of their duty, and the prompt execution of the orders they receive, the best of servants. In countries where the law grants equal protection to all ranks of society, and where servitude does not imply dependance, the master and servant are much more separated than in despotic states. In the latter, where there are no middle classes, the servant is often the humble friend, and lives in habits of intimacy that could only exist where the actual distinction is so great as to remove all danger of either torgetting the inequality of their condition.

The falsehood of the Persians is proverbial: nor are the inliabitants of that country forward to deny this national reproach: but they argue, that this vice appertains to the government, and is the natural consequence of the condition of the society in which they live: and there can be no doubt, that when rulers practise violence and oppression, those who are oppressed will shield themselves by every means within their power: and when they are destitute of combination and strength, they can only have recourse to art and duplicity. Nor is the moral character always debased by the use of this species of defence : instances continually occur in Persia, as in other counVol. LVII.

tries subject to an arbitrary government, where the head of a village, or the magistrate of a city, entitles himself to the gratitude and admiration of those1 under him, by a virtuous and undaunted perseverance in falsehood, by which he endangers his own, life and property, to save others who consider him as their guar* dian and protector.

The frame of private society in Persia is, perhaps, still more calculated to render men artful and false than the constitution of their government. The wives and slaves of a despotic husband and master must have all the vices of their debased condition. The first lessons which their children learn from the example of those they lave, is to practise deceit; and this early impression is confirmed by all their future habits. They may hear and admire moral sentences upon the beauty and excellenceof truth ; but prudence warns them against a rigid adherence to so dangerous a virtue. The onths which they constantly use to attest their veracity, are only proofs of their want of it. They sweat by the head of the king, by that of the person they address, by their own, by that of their son, that they are not asserting what is false: and if a stranger should continue to evince suspicion, they sometimes exclaim, "Believe me; "for, though a Persian, I am "speaking truth." There are, no doubt, some of the natives of Persia who do not deserve to be included in this general description, and who are distinguished by their regard for truth: but their numbers are too inconsiderable to save their countrymen

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