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it thrice to the rifing fun; imploring his protection, and recommending the tribe to his care. The chief proceeds to smoke; and every one smokes in his turn. This ceremony is performed on important occafions only: lefs matters are reserved for their Manitou. The Miffifippi people offer to the fun the first of what they take in hunting; which their commander artfully converts to his own ufe. The Apalachites, bordering on Florida, worship the fun; but facrifice nothing to him that has life: they hold him to be the parent of life, and think that he can take no pleasure in the destruction of any living creature: their devotion is exerted in perfumes and fongs. The Mexicans, while a free people, prefented to the fun a share of their meat and drink. The inhabitants of Darien, believe in the fun as their god, and in the moon as his wife, paying equal adoration to each. The people of Borneo, worship the fun and moon as real divinities. The Samoides worship both, bowing to them morning and evening in the Persian
But if the fun and moon were the first objects of idolatry, knowledge and reflection reformed many from the error of holding these luminaries to be deities. "That original intelligence," fay the Magians, "who is the first principle of all things, difcovers himself to the mind and understanding only but he "hath placed the fun as his image in the visible univerfe; and “the beams of that bright luminary, are but a faint copy of the
glory that shines in the higher heavens." The Perfians, as Herodotus reports, had neither temples, nor altars, nor images: for, fays that author, they do not think, like the Greeks, that there is any resemblance between gods and men. The Gaures, who to this day profess the ancient religion of Perfia, celebrate divine worship before the facred fire, and turn with peculiar veneration toward the rifing fun, as the reprefentative of God; but they adore neither the fun, nor the facred fire. They are profeffed e3 H 2 nemies
nemies to every image of the Deity cut with hands: and hence the havock made by the ancient Perfians, upon the statues and temples of the Grecian gods. Such fublimity of thought was above the reach of other uninfpired nations, excepting only the Hindows and Chinese.
I close the history of idolatry with a brief recapitulation of the outlines. Admitting the fun and moon to have been the first objects of idolatry, yet as Polytheifin was once univerfal, they make only two of the many gods that were every where worshipped. We have seen, that the facred fire was employ'd in the worship of the fun, and that images were employ'd in the worship of other deities. Images were originally used for the fole purpose of animating devotion: fuch was their use in Perfia and Hindoftan; and fuch was their use in every country among philofophers. The Emperor Julian, in an epiftle to Theodore concerning the images of the gods, fays, "We believe not that these images are gods:
we only use them in worshipping the gods." In the progress toward idolatry, the next step is, to imagine, that a deity loves his image, that he makes it his refidence, or at least communicates fome virtue to it. The laft ftep is, to imagine the image itself to be a deity; which gained ground imperceptibly as statuary advanced toward perfection. It would be incredible that men of fense should ever fuffer themselves to be impressed with fo wild a delufion, were it not the overbearing influence of religious fuperftition. Credo quia impoffibile eft, is applicable to idolatry as well as to tranfubftantiation. The worshipping the fun and moon as deities, is idolatry in the strictest sense. With respect to images, the first step of the progrefs is not idolatry: the next is mixed idolatry: and the laft is rank idolatry.
So much upon idolatry. I proceed to what approaches the nearest to it, which is worship addressed to deified mortals. The ancient gods were exalted fo little above men, that it was no hard
talk for the imagination to place in heaven, men who had made. a figure on earth. The Grecian heaven was entirely peopled with fuch men, as well as that of many other nations. Men are deified every day by the Romish church, under the denomination of faints : perfons are frequently selected for that honour who scarce deferved a place on earth, and some who never had a place there. The Roman Catholics copy the Pagans, in worshipping these fubordinate divinities by prayers and oblations: and they are well rewarded, by being taken under protection of these faints in quality of tutelar deities. One branch of the office beftow'd on these faints, is to explain the wants of their votaries to the King of heaven, and to fupplicate for them. The mediatorial office prevails with refpect to earthly potentates, as well as heavenly being ftruck with awe and timidity in approaching those exalted above us, we naturally take hold of fome intermediate perfon to folicit for us. In approaching the Almighty, the mind, finking down into humility and profound veneration, ftops fhort, relying upon fome friend in heaven to intercede in its behalf. Temples among the Cochin-Chinese are conftructed with a deep and dark niche, which is their fanctum fanétorum. They hold, that no representation, whether by painting or fculpture, can be made of God, who is invifible. The niche denotes his incomprehenfibility; and the good men placed by them in heaven, are believed to be their interceffors at the throne of grace. The prayers of the Chingulefe are feldom directed to the fupreme being, but to his vicegerents. Interceffors, at the fame time, contribute to the eafe of their votaries: a Roman Catholic need not affume a very high tone in addreffing a tutelar faint chofen by himself.
Falfe notions of Providence have prompted groveling mortals to put confidence in mediators and interceffors of a ftill lower class, viz. living mortals, who by idle aufterities have acquired a reputation for holinefs. Take the following inftance, the ftrong
eft of the kind that can be figured. Louis XI. of France, fenfible of the approach of death, fent for a hermit of Calabria, named Francifco Martarillo; and throwing himself at the hermit's feet in a flood of tears, entreated him to intercede with God, that his life might be prolonged; as if the voice of a Calabrian friar, fays Voltaire, could alter the course of Providence, by preferving a weak and perverse foul in a worn-out body.
Having difcuffed the perfons that are the objects of worship, the next step in order is, to take under view the forms and ceremonies employ'd in religious worship. Forms are necessary whereever a number of perfons join in one operation: they are effential in an army, and little lefs effential at public worship. The use of ceremonies is to excite devotion: but to preserve a just medium, requires great delicacy of taste; for tho' ceremonies are neceffary at public worship to prevent languor, yet fuperfluity of ceremonies quenches devotion, by occupying the mind too much upon externals. The Roman-Catholic worship is crowded with ceremonies it resembles the Italian opera, which is all found, and no fentiment. The Prefbyterian form of worship is too naked: it is proper for philofophers more than for the populace. This is fundamentally the caufe of the numerous feceffions from the church of Scotland that have made a figure of late: people dislike the established forms, when they find lefs comfort in public worship than is expected; and without being fenfible of the real cause, they chufe paftors for themselves, who fupply the want of ceremonies by loud fpeaking, with much external fervor and devotion.
The frequent ablutions or washings among the Mahometans and others, as acts of devotion, show the influence that the flighteft resemblances have on the ignorant. Because purification, in feveral languages, is a term applicable to the mind as well as to the body, fhallow thinkers, mifled by the double meaning, imagine that the mind, like the body, is purified by water.
The fect of Ali use the Alcoran translated into the Perfian language, which is their native tongue. The fect of Omar esteem this to be a grofs impiety; being perfuaded, that the Alcoran was written in Arabic, by the Angel Gabriel, at the command of God himself. The Roman Catholics are not then the only people who profess to speak nonsense to God Almighty; or, which is the fame, who profess to pray in an unknown tongue.
Jupiter in Ho
At meals, the ancients poured out fome wine as a libation to the gods: Christians pronounce a fhort prayer, termed a grace. The grofs notion of Deity entertained by the ancients, is exemplified in their worshipping and facrificing on high places; in order, as they thought, to be more within fight. mer praises Hector for facrificing to him frequently upon the top of Ida; and Strabo obferves, that the Perfians, who ufed neither images nor altars, facrificed to the gods in high places. Balak carried Balaam the prophet to the top of Pisgah, and other mountains, to facrifice there, and to curfe Ifrael. The votaries of Baal always worshipped in high places. Even the fage Tacitus was infected with that abfurdity. Speaking of certain high mountains where the gods were worshipped, he, expreffes himself thus: Maxime cælo appropinquare, precefque mortalium a Deo nufquam propius audiri *.
Ceremonies that tend to unhinge morality, belong more properly to the following fection, treating of the connection between religion and morality.
It is now full time to take under confideration an objection to the fenfe of Deity hinted above, arguing from the grofs conceptions of deity among many nations, that this sense cannot be inThe objection is not indeed ftated in the following paffage,
* "As approaching nearer to heaven, the prayers of mortals are there more diftinctly heard."