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out in what it doth confift; it is not a Thing to be al"ter'd at Pleasure; both the Law of Nature, and the Law "of God; both the natural Difpenfation under which all "Men are born, and the reveal'd Dispensation as we have " either in the Old or New Teftament; do fufficiently inftruct "us in the main Heads of it. Nay, I dare be bold to say, fo long as Mankind do retain their Nature, and are not tranf"form'd into another Sort of Creatures than what God made "them at first; it is impoffible that there should be

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any true

Religion, but what may be fummed up in these two,

Things; To love God, and our Neighbour..




That the not adhering to thofe Notions Reafon dictates concerning the Nature of God, has been the Occafion of all Superftition, and all thofe innumerable. Mischiefs, that Mankind, on the Account of Religion, have done either to themselves, or one another.


AVING in general fhewn the Abfurdity of not being govern'd by the Reafon of Things in all Matters of Religion, I fhall now in particular, fhew the fatal Confequences of not adhering to thofe Notions Reafon dictates concerning the Nature of God..

Charron, tho' a Prieft of that Church which abounds with Superftition, the most pernicious as well as abfurd, feems to have a right Notion of Superftition as well as juftly to abhor it, in saying, that ". Superftition, and most other charron of "Errors and Defects in Religion, are, generally speaking, Tal. p. "owing chiefly to Want of becoming, and right Apprehen- 131. "fions of God; We debafe, and bring him down to us; "We compare, and judge him by ourselves; We cloath him

" with

Wifdom. Eng

« with our Infirmities, and then proportion, and fit our FanWhat horrid Prophanation and Blaf

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"TIs to this Abfurdity of debafing God, and cloathing him with our Infirmities, and judging of him by ourselves, that the Mediatory Gods amongst the Heathen owe their Rife. Had they believ'd a fupreme Being was every where, and at all Times knew their Thoughts, they cou'd never have taken fuch a round-about Way of addreffing him; who not only knew what they defir'd, but their real Wants, and what would relieve them better than any Mediatory Beings whatever.

B. THEY addrefs'd to Mediatory Beings, to fhew their greater Respect to the fupreme Being; and their own Unworthiness to approach him.

A. THIS fhews what unworthy Notions they had of the fupreme Being; fince it wou'd be an Affront even to a Temporal Prince, if he was present, and heard every Thing you faid, not to address to him, but to another, to let the Prince know what you wanted from him.

THE Heathen must think, if they thought at all, that thofe Mediatory Gods cou'd either fuggeft, to the fupreme God fome Reasons he before was ignorant of; or that by their Importunities they cou'd prevail on his Weakness, to do what otherwise he was not willing to do.

THIS Heathen Notion, as it fuppos'd the fupreme God either ignorant or weak; fo it made the Mediatory Gods to have a greater Kindness for, and Readiness to do Good to Mankind; and that their Sollicitations made him betternatur'd than otherwife he wou'd be: This of Course took off their Love from the Supreme, and plac'd it on those mediatory Gods, upon whose powerful Interceffions they fo


much depended. However, these Heathens, allowing One, and but One Moft High God, did not fo far derogate from the Honour of the One True God, as to pretend that the most distinguished among their several Mediators was equal to him; Equality and Mediation being as inconfiftent as Equality and Supremacy, And they wou'd have made their Religion an errant Jumble, if they had worshipp'd these Gods fometimes as Mediators only; fometimes as fovereign: Difpofers of Things; and sometimes as both together.

HAD the Heathen believ'd God to have been a purely-fpiritual, invisible Being, they cou'd never have suppos'd him visible to Mortals; or have thought that an unlimited Being cou'd appear under the limited Form of a Man, or other Animal; or that an Omnipresent Being cou'd any more be present in one Place, or Creature, than another; or that such a Being cou'd be confin'd to a fmall Spot of Earth, while another equally omniprefent was in Heaven, and a Third defcending from thence, &c. Or that one God cou'd be sent on the Errand of another God, after the Manner that God Mercury was by God Jupiter; tho' there was nothing too abfurd for the Heathen to believe, after they had de-ftroy'd the Unity of God; except it was, that Jupiter and Mercury, the Sender and the Sent were the fame God. The primitive Fathers bitterly inveigh'd against these heathenish Notions: Justin Martyr for Inftance says, Juftin Oper. "None, who have the leaft Senfe, will dare to affirm, that p. 207. Ed. "the Maker and Father of the Universe did appear in a Al. p. 283.B, "fmall Spot of Earth; the God of the Universe can nei-P. 356, E. "ther ascend, nor descend, or come into any Place. Tertullian fays, "He wou'd not believe the fovereign God def-cap. 16. "cended into the Womb of a Woman, tho' even the Scrip-"ture itself should fay it. "Tis impoffible, fays Eufebius,


Adv. Prax.

6 that

Demon. Evan.

1. 5 c. 20, p. 248.

that the Eyes of Mortals fhould ever fee the fupreme "God; viz. Him, who is above all Things, and whose Eccl. Hift. 1. 1. "Effence is unbegotten and immutable. Again, ""Tis ab•.2. p. 6, C. "furd, and contrary to all Reason, that the unbegotten and "immutable Nature of the Almighty God fhould take the "Form of a Man; or that the Scripture fhould forge such

Reeve's Tranfl. p. 121.


like Falfities. Minutius Felix in his Apology fays, that "The Deity can't dye, nor can any Thing which is born be Ed, Dav. c.23. " a God: That only is divine, which has neither Begin"ning nor End; If the Gods get Children, they would get "them immortal: We must conclude thofe Gods to be "Men, of whose Birth and Burial we are fully fatisfy'd. " Thus the Fathers expos'd the Pagan Polytheism.

A great deal more, as you may well imagine, might be faid on this Head; but now I shall briefly confider what pernicious Effects the having wrong and unnatural Conceptions of the Deity, has occafion'd among Men with relation to themselves, and one another.

If we take a general View of thofe Mischiefs Mankind have at all Times practis'd on a religious Account, either upon themselves or others; we shall find them owing to their entertaining fuch Notions of God, as are intirely inconfiftent with his Nature; and contrary to what their Reason, if attended to, wou'd inform them of the Defign and End of the Laws of God.

HAD not Numbers in all Ages thought, that God delighted in the Pain and Misery of his Creatures; they cou'd never have imagin'd, that the best Way to render them acceptable to him, was by tormenting themselves with immoderate Watchings, Faftings, Penances, and Mortifications. of all Sorts; and the greater the more pleafing: And even at present there are among Chriftians, Mahometans, and Pa


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