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A theory espoused by feveral writers ancient and modern, must not be overlooked; because it pretends to compofe the world without a Deity; which would reduce the fenfe of Deity to be delufive, if it have any existence. The theory is, That the world, composed of animals, vegetables, and brute matter, is felf-existent and eternal; and that all events happen by a neceffary chain of caufes and effects. In this theory, tho' wisdom and benevolence are confpicuous in every part, yet the great work of planning and executing the whole, is understood to have been done blindly without intelligence or contrivance. It is fcarce neceffary to remark, that this theory, affumed at pleasure, is highly im probable, if not abfurd; and yet that it is left naked to the world without the leaft cover or fupport. But what I chiefly infist on is, that the endless number of wife and benevolent effects, difplay'd every where on the face of this globe, afford to us complete evidence of a wife and benevolent caufe; and as these effects are far above the power of man, we neceffarily afcribe them, to fome fuperior being, or in other words to the Deity (a). And, this is fufficient to remove the prefent objection against the existence of a sense of Deity. But I am not satisfied with this partial victory. I proceed to obferve, that nothing more is required but the proof of a Deity, to overturn the fuppofition of felf-existence in a world compofed of many heterogeneous parts, and of a chain of caufes and effects framed without intelligence or forefight, tho' full of wisdom and contrivance in every part. For if a Deity exift, wife and powerful above all other beings, selfexistence ought to be his peculiar attribute; and no perfon of rationality will have any hesitation in rejecting the felf-existence of fuch a world, when fo natural a fuppofition lies in view, as that the whole is the operation of the truly felf-exiftent being, to Jedi song


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(a) First sketch of this third book, sect. 1.


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whofe power and wisdom are fully adequate to that arduous tafk.

Many grofs and abfurd conceptions of Deity that have prevailed among rude nations, are urged by fome writers as another objection against a fenfe of Deity. That objection fhall not be overlooked; but it will be answered to better purpose, after these grofs and abfurd conceptions are examined; which shall be done 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 a sense operates intuitively without reafoning, the fenfe of Deity is made a branch of human nature, in order to enlighten those who are incapable of a long chain of reafoning; and to fuch, who make the bulk of mankind, it is more convincing, than the most perfpicuous reafoning to a philofopher.

Progrefs of Opinions with refpect to DEITY.


(a) Part 2. fect. 7.

THE fenfe of Deity, like many other delicate fenfes, is in lavages fo faint and obfcure as easily to be biaffed from truth, Among them, the belief of many fuperior beings, is univerfal And two causes join to produce that belief. The first is, that be


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ingaccustomed to a plurality of visible objects, men, mountains, trees, cattle, and fuch like, they are naturally led to imagine the fame plurality in things not vifible; and from that flight bias, flight indeed but natural, is partly derived the fsystem of Polytheism, univerfal among favages. The other is, that favages know little of the connection between caufes and effects, and still lefs of the order and government of this world: every event that is not familiar, appears to them fingular and extraordinary; and if fuch event exceed human power, it is without hesitation afcribed to a fuperior being. But as it occurs not to a favage, nor to any person who is not a philofopher, that the many various events exceeding human power and feemingly unconnected, may all proceed from the fame caufe; they are readily afcribed to different beings. Pliny afcribes Polytheism to another cause, viz. the consciousness men have of their imbecility: Our powers are con"fined within narrow bounds: we do not readily conceive (C powers in the Deity much more extenfive; and we fupply by "number what is wanting in power." Polytheism, thus founded, is the first stage in the progrefs of theology; for it is embraced by the rudest savages, who have neither capacity nor inclination to pierce deeper into the nature of things.

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The next ftage is distinguishable from others, by a belief that all fuperior beings are malevolent. Man, by nature weak and helpless, is prone to fear, dreading every new object and every unufual event. Savages, having no protection against ftorms, tempests, or other external accidents, and having no pleasures but in gratifying hunger, thirft, and animal love, have much to fear, and little to hope. In that difconfolate condition, they attribute the bulk of their diftreffes to invifible beings, who in their opinion must be malevolent. This seems to have been the opinion of the Greeks in the days of Solon; as appears in a converfation between him and Crofus King of Lydia, mentioned by Herodotus

Herodotus in the first book of his history. "Cræfus, faid So"lon, you ask me about human affairs; and I answer as one "who thinks that all the gods are envious, and disturbers of "mankind." The negroes on the coast of Guinea, dread their deities as tyrants and oppreffors: having no conception of a good deity, they attribute the few blessings they receive, to the foil, to the rivers, to the trees, and to the plants. The Lithuanians continued Pagans down to the fourteenth century; and worshipped in gloomy woods, where their deities were held to refide. Their worship probably was prompted by fear, which is allied to gloominess or darkness. The people of Kamskatka acknowledge to this day many malevolent deities, having little or no notion of a good deity. They believe the air, the water, the mountains, and the woods, to be inhabited by malevolent spirits, whom they fear and worship. The favages of Guiana afcribe to the devil even their most common diseases; nor do they ever think of another remedy, but to apply to a forcerer to drive him Such negroes as believe in the devil, paint his images

away. white.

Conviction of fuperior beings, who, like men, are of a mixed nature, fometimes doing good, fometimes mischief, conftitutes the third stage. This came to be the system of theology in Greece, The introduction of writing among the Greeks, while they were little better than favages, produced a compound of character and manners, that has not a parallel in any other nation. They were acute in fcience, fkilful in fine arts, extremely deficient in morals, grofs beyond conception in theology, and fuperftitious to a degree of folly; a ftrange jumble of exquisite fenfe and abfurd nonfenfe. They held their gods to resemble men in their external figure, and to be corporeal. In the 21ft book of the Iliad, Minerva with a huge stone beats Mars to the ground, whofe monftrous body covered feven broad acres. As corporeal beings, they were fuppofed

to require the nourishment of meat, drink, and fleep. Homer
mentions more than once the inviting of gods to a feast: and Pau-
fanias reports, that in the temple of Bacchus at Athens, there were
figures of clay, representing a feast given by Amphyction to Bac-
chus and other deities. The inhabitants of the island Java are not
fo grofs in their conceptions, as to think that the gods eat the of-
ferings prefented to them but it is their opinion, that a deity
brings his mouth near the offering, fucks out all its favour, and
leaves it tastelefs like water *. The Grecian gods, as defcribed by
Homer, dress, bathe, and anoint, like mortals. Venus, after be-
ing detected by her husband in the embraces of Mars, retires to
Paphos, t
tom od brew)..


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Where to the pow'r an hundred altars rife,
And breathing odours fcent the balmy skies:
Conceal'd the bathes in confecrated bow'rs,
The Graces unguents fhed, ambron
fhed, ambrofial fhow'rs,


1 CimbSD?

Unguents that charm the gods! She last affumes
Her wondrous robes; and full the goddess blooms.



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spla ODYSSEY, book 8. {Juno's ©dress is most poetically described, Iliad, book 14. It was alfo univerfally believed, that the gods were fond of women." and many children by them. The ancient Germans thought more fenfibly, that the gods were too high to resemble men in any degree, or to be confined within the walls of a temple. Led by the fame impreflions of deity, the Greeks seem to have thought, that ‹ the gods did not much exceed themselves in knowledge. When Agefilaus journeyed with his private retinue, he ufually lodged in


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* All Greek writers, and those in their neighbourhood, form the world out of a chaos. They had no fuch exalted notion of a deity as to believe, that he could make the world out of nothing..




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