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ture state of rewards and punishments. Whether all men might not have been made angels, and whether more happiness might not have resulted from a different system, lie far beyond the reach of human knowledge. From what is known of the conduct of Providence, we have reason to presume, that our present state is the result of wisdom and benevolence. So much we know with certainty, that the sense we have of Deity and of moral duty, correspond accurately to the nature of man as an imperfect being; and that these senses, were they absolutely perfect, would convert him into a very different being.
A doctrine espoused by several writers ancient and modern, pretends to compose the world without a Deity; that the world, composed of animals, vegetables, and brute matter, is self-existent and eternal; and that all events happen by a necessary chain of causes and effects. It will occur even at first view, that this theory is at least improbable : can any supposition be more improbable than that the
great work of planning and executing this universe, beautiful in all its
and bound together by the most perfect laws, should be a
blind work, performed without intelligence or contrivance ? It would therefore be a sufficient answer to observe, that this doctrine, though highly improbable, is however given to the public, like a foundling, without cover or support. But affirmatively I urge, that it is fundamentally overturned by the knowledge we derive of Deity from our own nature : if a Deity exist, self-existence must be his peculiar attribute; and we cannot hesitate in rejecting the supposition of a self-existent world, when it is so natural to suppose that the whole is the operation of a felf-existent Being, whose power and wisdom are adequate to that great work.
work. I add, that this rational doctrine is eminently supported from contemplating the endless number of wife and benevolent effects, display'd every where on the face of this globe; which afford complete evidence of a wise and benevolent cause. As these effects are far above the power of man, we necessarily ascribe them to a superior Being, or in other words to the Deity (a).
Many gross and absurd conceptions of Deity that have prevailed among
(a) First sketch of this third book, Sect. 1.
tions, are urged by some writers as an objection against a sense of Deity. That objection shall not be overlooked ; but it will be answered to better purpose, after these gross and absurd conceptions are examined in the chapter immediately following.
The proof of a Deity from the innate sense here explained, differs materially from what is contained in essays on morality and natural religion (a). The proof there given is founded on a chain of reasoning, altogether independent on the innate sense of Deity. Both equally produce conviction; but as fense operates intuitively without reasoning, the sense of Deity is made a branch of human nature, in order to enlighten those who are incapable of a long chain of reasoning; and to such, who make the bulk of mankind, it is more convincing, than the most perspicuous reasoning to a philofopher.
(a) Part 2. fect. 7.
THE sense of Deity, like many other
delicate senses, is in favages fo faint and obscure as easily to be biassed from truth. Among them, the belief of many, fuperior beings, is universal. And two causes join to produce that belief. The first is, that being accustomed to a plurality of visible objects, men, mountains, trees, cattle, and such like, they are naturally led to imagine a like plurality in things not visible; and from that flight bias, slight indeed but natural, is partly derived the system of Polytheism, univerfal among favages. : The other is, that savages know little of the connection between causes and effects, and still less of the order and government of the world : every event that is not familiar, appears to them singular and extraordinary; and if such event exceed human power, it is without hesitation ascribed to a superior being. But as it occurs not to a savage, nor to any person who is not a philosopher, that the many various events ex-, ceeding human power and seemingly una connected, may all proceed from the fame cause; they are readily ascribed to different beings. Pliny ascribes Polytheisin to the consciousness men have of their imbecillity: Our powers are confined within
without * Plurality of heads or of hands in one idol, is sometimes made to supply plurality of different ;dols. Hence among favages the grotesque figure of some of their idols.
narrow bounds: we do not readily con“ ceive powers in the Deity much more “ extensive; and we supply by number “ what is wanting in power *." Polytheism, thus founded, is the first stage in the progress of theology; for it is embraced by the rudest savages, who have neither capacity nor inclination to pierce deeper into the nature of things.
This stage is distinguishable from others, by a belief that all superior beings. are malevolent. Man, by nature weak and helpless, is prone to fear, dreading