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force of almost all argument. There are even some pleasant stories of that kind, which, though somewhat profane, are commonly told by the Catholics themselves. One day, a priest, it is said, gave inadvertently, instead of the facrament, a counter, which had by accident fallen among the holy wafers. The communicant waited patiently for some time, expecting it would dissolve on his tongue : But finding, that it ftill remained entire, he took it off. I wish, cried he to the priest, you have not committed fomė mistake : I wish you have not given me God the Father : He is so hard and tough there is no swallowing him.
A famous general, at that time in the MUSCOVITE service, having come to Paris for the recovery of his wounds, brought along with him a young TURK, whom he had taken prisoner. Some of the doctors of the SORBONNE (who are altogether as positive as the dervises of CONSTANTINOPLE) thinking it a pity, that the poor TURK should be damned for want of instruction, folicited MUSTAPHA very hard to turn Christian, and promised him, for his encouragement, plenty of good wine in this world, and paradise in the next. These allurements were too powerful to be refifted; and therefore, having been well instructed and catechized, he at last agreed to receive the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's supper. The priest, however, to make every thing sure and solid, still continued his instructions; and began his catechism the next day with the usual question, How many Gods are there? None at all, replies BENEDICT; for that was his new name. How! None at all! cries the priest. To be sure, said the honest profelyte. You have told me all along that there is but one God: And yesterday I eat him.
Such are the doctrines of our brethren, the Catholics. But to these doctrines we are so accustomed, that we never wonder at them: Though, in a future age, it will
priens The NATURAL HISTORY of Religion. probably become difficult to perfuade fome nations, that any human, 'two-legged creature, could ever embrace such principles. And it is a thousand to one, but these nations themselves shall have something full as abfurd în their own creed, to which they will give a most implicite and most religious affent. 19:5 "1butt. yd 387
I lodged once at Paris, in the same hotel with an embassador from TUNIS, who, having passed some years at London, was returning home that way. One day I observed his Moorish excellency diverting himself under the porch, with surveying the splendid equipages that drove along; when there chanced to pass that way some Capucin friars, who had never seen a Turks as his part, though accustomed to the EUROPEAN dresses, had never seen the grotesque figure of a Capucin: And there is no expressing the mutual admiration, with which they inspired each other. Had the chaplain of the embaffy entered into a dispute with these FrANCISCANS, their reciprocal surprize had been of the same nature. And thus all mankind stand staring at one another; and there is no beating it out of their heads, that the turban of the AFRICAN is not just as good or as bad a fashion as the cowl of the EUROPEAN. "He is a very honest man, said the prince of SALLEE, speaking of de RUYTER, It is a pity he were a Christian. worship them, replies the latter; at least, we do not, at the same time, eat them. But what strange objects of adoration are cats and monkies ? says the learned doctor, They are at least as good at the relicts or rotten bones of martyrs, answers his no less learned antagonist. "Are you not mad, infifts the Catholic, to cut one another's throat about the preference of a cabbage or a cucumber? Yes, says the pagan; I allow it, if you will confess,
that all those are still madder, who fight about the pre-
+ It is strange that the EGYPTIAN religion, though so absurd, thould yet have borne so great a resemblance to the Jewis, that antient writers I even of the greateft genius were not able to observe any difference betwixt them. For it is very remarkable that both Tacitus and SUETONIUS, when they mention that decree of the senate, under TIBERIUS, by which the EGYPTIAN and JEWISH proselytes were banished from Rome, erpresly treat these religions as the same; and it appears, that even the decree itfelf was founded on that supposition. " A&um & de facris ÆGYPTIIS,
“ JUDAICISQUE pellendis ; factumque patrum confultum, ut quatuor mil«c lia libertini generis ea superftitione infecta, quîs idonea ætas, in 'infułam
Sardiniam veherentur, coercendis illic latrociniis ; & fi ob gravitatem cæli ,," interiffent, vile damnum : Ceteri cederent ITALIA, nifi certam ante diem
“ profanos ritus exuiffent.” Tacit. ann. lib. ii. c. 85. " Externas cæ“ remonias, ÆGYPTÍOS, JUDAICOS QUE ritus compescuit; coactis qui
fuperftitione ea tenebantur, ' religiosas vestes cum inftrumento omni come
burere, &c." SUETON, TIBER. C. 36. These wise heathens, obferv. ing something in the general air, and genius, and spirit of the two religions to be the fame, esteemed the differences of their dogmas too frivolous to de ferve any attention,
| Lib. i.
rose upon him with the utmost fury; and all the efforts of the prince were not able to save him. The fenate and people of Rome, I am persuaded, would not, then, have been so delicate with regard to their national deities. They very frankly, a little after that time, voted AU GUSTUS a place in the celeftial manfions; and wouldi have dethroned every god in heaven, for his fake, bad he seemed to desire it, Prefens divus habebitur. Augus. Tus, says HORACE.
That is a very important point: And in other nations and other ages, the fame circumstance has not been efteemed altogether indifferent +.
Notwithstanding the sanctity of our holy religion, says TULLY I, no crime is more common with us than facrilege: But was it ever heard of, that an EGYPTIAN Vio lated the temple of a cat, an ibis, or a crocodile? There is no torture, an EGYPTIAN would not 'undergo, fays the same author in another place ||, rather than injure an ibis, an afpic, a cat, a dog, or a crocodile. Thus it is Ariely true, 'what DRYDEN observes,
c Of whatsoe'er defcent their godhead be,
ABSALOM and ACHITOPHEL.
Nay, the baser the materials are, of which the divinity is composed, the greater devotion is he likely to excite in the breasts of his deluded votaries. They exult in
+ When Lovis the XIVth took on himself the protection of the Je. fuits college of CLERMONT, the fociety ordered the king's arms to be put up over their gate, and took down the cross, in order to make way for it; Which gave occasion to the following epigran:
Suftulit hinc Christi, posuitque insignio Regis :
Impia gens, alium nescit habere Deum. IDe nat. Deor. 1. i.
X Tusc. Quæft. lib. v.
their shame, and make a merit with their deity, in braving, for his fake, all the ridicule and contumely of his enemies. Ten thousand Croises inlift themselves under the holy banners, and even openly triumph in those parts of their religion, which their adversaries regard as the most reproachful.
b There occurs, I own, a difficulty in the EGYPTIAN fyftem of theology; as indeed, few systems are entirely free from difficulties. It is evident, from their method of propagation, that a couple of cats, in fifty years, would stock a whole kingdom; and if that religious veneration were still paid them, it would in twenty more, not only be easier in Egypt to find a god than a man, which PETRONIUS fays was the case in some parts of ITALY; but the gods must at last entirely starve the men, and leave themselves neither priests nor votaries re. maining. It is probable, therefore, that that wife nation, the most celebrated in antiquity for prudence and found policy, foreseeing fuch dangerous consequences, reserved all their worship for the full-grown divinities, and used the freedom to drown the holy spawn or little sucking gods, without any scruple or remorse. And thus the practice of warping the tenets of religion, in order to serve temporal interests, is not, by any means, to be regarded as an invention of thefe latter ages.
The learned, philosophical VARRO, discourfing of religion, pretends, not to deliver any thing beyond probabilities and appearances : Such was his good fente and moderation ! But the passionate, the zealous AUGUS
Tin, insults the noble ROMAN on his fcepticism and reserve, and profeffes the most thorough belief and affurance t. A heathen poet, however, contemporary with the saint, absurdly esteems the religious system of the
+ De civitate Dei, L. iii, s. 17.