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the worship of tutelar deities? They did not indeed adopt the abfurd opinion, that the fupreme Being was their tutelar deity: but they held, that there are divine perfons fubordinate to the Almighty, who take under their care nations, families, and even individuals; an opinion that differs not effentially from that of tutelar deities among the Heathens. That opinion, which flatters felf-love, took root in the fifth century, when the deification of saints was introduced, fimilar to the deification of heroes among the ancients. People are fond of friends to be their interceffors; and with regard to the Deity, deified faints were thought the properest interceffors. Temples were built and dedicated to them; and folemn rites of worship instituted to render them propitious. It was imagined, that the fouls of deified faints are at liberty to roam where they list, and that they love the places where their bodies are interred; which accordingly made the fepulchres of the faints a common rendezvous of fupplicants. What paved the way to notions fo abfurd, was the grofs ignorance that clouded the Christian world, after the northern barbarians became ma
fters of Europe. In the feventh century, the bishops were fo illiterate, as to be indebted to others for the fhallow fermons they preached; and the very few of that order who had any learning, fatisfied themselves with compofing infipid homilies, collected from the writings of Auguftin and Gregory. In the ninth century, matters grew worfe and worfe; for these faints, held at first to be mediators for Chriftians in general, were now converted into tutelar deities in the strictest fenfe. An opinion prevailed, that such faints as are occupied about the fouls of Christians in general, have little time for individuals; which led every church, and every private Chriftian, to elect for themfelves a particular faint, to be their patron or tutelar deity. That practice made it neceffary to deify faints without end, in order to furnish a tutelar deity to every individual. The dubbing of faints, became a new fource of abufes and frauds in the Christian world: lying wonders were invented, and fabulous hiftories compofed, to celebrate exploits that never were performed, and to glorify perfons who never had a being. And thus religion among Hh 2 Chriftians,
Christians, funk down to as low a state as: it had been among Pagans.
There still remains upon hand, a capital branch of our history; and that is idolatry, which properly fignifies the worshipping visible objects as deities. But as idolatry evidently fprung from religious worship, corrupted by the ignorant and brutish; it will make its appearance with more advantage in the next chapter, of which religious worship is the subject.
We have thus traced with wary steps, the gradual progrefs of theology through many stages, correfponding to the gradual openings and improvements of the human mind. But tho' that progrefs, in almost all countries, appears uniform with refpect to the order of fucceffion, it is far otherwife with respect to the quickness of fucceffion: nations, like individuals, make a progrefs from infancy to maturity; but they advance not with an equal pace, fome making a rapid progrefs toward perfection in knowledge and in religion, while others remain ignorant barbarians. The religion of Hindoftan, if we credit history or tradition, had advanced to a confiderable degree of purity and refinement, at a
very early period. The Hindoftan Bible, termed Chatahbhade or Shaftah, gives an account of the creation, lapfe of the angels, and creation of man; instructs us in the unity of the Deity, but denies his prefcience, as being inconfiftent with freewill in man; all of them profound doctrines of an illuminated people, to establish which a long courfe of time must have been requifite, after wandering through errors without number. Compared with the Hindows in theology, even the Greeks were mere favages. The Grecian gods were held to be little better than men, and their history, as above mentioned, correfponds to the notion entertain'd of them.
In explaining the opinions of men with refpect to Deity, I have confined my view to fuch opinions as are fuggested by principles or biasses that make a part of com-mon nature; omitting many whimsical notions, no better than dreams of a roving imagination. The plan delineated, shows wonderful uniformity in the progress of religion through all nations. That irregular and whimfical notions are far otherwife, is not wonderful. Take the fol
lowing fpecimen. The Kamfkatkans are not fo ftupidly ignorant, as to be altogether void of curiofity. They sometimes think of natural appearances. Rain, fay
they, is fome deity piffing upon them; and they imagine the rainbow to be a party-coloured garment, put on by him in preparing for that operation. They believe wind to be produced by a god fhaking with violence his long hair about his head. Such tales will fcarce amuse children in the nursery. The inhabitants of the island Celebes formerly acknowledged no gods but the fun and the moon, which were held to be eternal. Ambition for fuThe moon periority made them fall out. being wounded in flying from the fun, was delivered of the earth.
Hitherto of the gradual openings of the human mind with respect to Deity. I clofe this fection with an account of fome unfound notions concerning the conduct of Providence, and concerning fome fpeculative matters. I begin with the for
In days of ignorance, the conduct of Providence is very little understood. Far from having any notion, that the govern