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This observation, then, holds universally : But still ficient to observe, that the people, every where, degrade their dieties into a fimilitude with themselves, and consider them merely as a species of human creatures, somewhat more potent and intelligent. This will not remove the difficulty. For there is no man fo stupid, as that, judging by his natural reason, he would not esteem virtue and honesty the most valuable qualities, which any person could poffefs. Why not ascribe the same fentiment to his deity? Why not make all religion, or the chief part of it, to confift in these attainments ?
Nor is it satisfactory to say, that the practice of morality is more difficult than that of superstition; and is therefore rejected. For, not to mention the exceffive pennances of the Brachmans and Talapoins ; it is certain, that the Rhamadan of the TURKS, during which the poor wretches, for many days, often in the hotteft months of the year, and in some of the hottest climates of the -world, remain without eating or drinking from the rising to the setting of the fun; this Rhamadan, I say, must be more severe than the practice of any moral duty, even to the most vicious and depraved of mankind. The, four lents of the MUSCOVITES, and the aufterities of fome Roman Catholics, appear more disagreeable than meekness and benevolence. In short, all virtue, when men are reconciled to it by ever so little practice, is agreeable : All superstition is for ever odious and burthensome.
Perhaps, the following account may be received as a true folution of the difficulty. The duties which a man performs as a friend or parent, feem merely owing to his benefactor or children ; nor can he be wanting to these duties, without breaking through all the ties of nature and morality. A strong inclination may prompt him to the performance: A sentiment of order and moral beauty
joins its force to these natural ties : And the whole mari, if truly virtuous, is drawn to his duty, without any effort or endeavour. Even with regard to the virtues, which are more auftere, and more founded on reflection, such as public spirit, filial duty, temperance, or integrity; the moral obligation, in our apprehenfion, re
moves all pretence to religious merit; and the virtuous conduct is esteemed no more than what we owe to lociety and to ourselves. In all this, a fuperftitious man finds nothing, which he has properly performed for the fake of his deity, or which can peculiarly recommend him to the divine favour and protection. He confiders not, that the most genuine method of serving the divinity is by promoting the happiness of his creatures. He still looks out for some more immediate fervice of the fu. preme Being, in order to allay those terrors, with which he is haunted. And any practice, recommended to him, which either serves to no purpose in life, or offers the strongest violence to his natural inclinations; that practice he will the more readily embrace, on account of those very circumstances, which should make him absolutely reject it. It seems the more purely religious, that it proceeds from no mixture of any other motive or confideration. And if, for its fake, he facrifices much of his ease and quiet, his claim of merit appears still to rife upon him, in proportion to the zeal and devotion which he discovers. In restoring a loan, or paying a debt, his divinity is nowise beholden to him ; because these acts of justice are what he was bound to perform, and what many would have performed, were there no god in the universe. But if he faft a day, or give himself a found whipping; this has a direct reference, in his opinion, to the service of God. No other motive could engage him to such austerities. By these distinguished marks of devotion, he has now acquired the divine favour; and may
expect, in ti recompenee, protectiontand-fafety in this world, and eternal happiness in the next vi
Hence the greatest crimes have been found, in many instances compatible with a fuperftitious piety and devotion: Hence it is justly regarded as unsafe to draw
any certain inference in favour of a man's morals from the
fervoúr or strictness of his religious exercifes, even tho he himself believe them fincere. Nay, it has been ob
ferved, that enormities of the blackeft dye, have been rather apt to produce fuperftitious terrors, and encrease the religious passion." BOMILCAR, having formed a confpiracy for afsaffinating at once the whole senate of CARTHAGE, and invading the liberties of his country, loft "the opportunity, from a continual regard to omens and prophefics. Those who undertake the most criminal and most dangerous enterprizes are commonly the most fuperftitious ; as an antient historian * remarks on this occasion. Their "devotion and fpiritual faith rise with their fears. CATILINE was not contented with the established deities, and received rites of the national religion: His anxious terrors made him feek new inventions of this kind 'F'; which he never probably had dreamed of, had hetemained a good citizen; and obedient to the laws of his country
To which we may add, that, even' after the commiffion of crimes, there arise remorses and fecret horrors, which give no reft to the mind, but make it have recourse to religious rites and ceremonies, as expiations of its offences. Whatever weakens 'or disorders the interhat frame promotes the interests of fuperftition : And' no . thing is more destructive to them than a manly, steady Virtue, which either preserves us from disastrous, melana choly accidents, or teaches us to beat them. During
Dios. Sic. lib. xv.
Cic. Catil... SALLUST, de bello Catil.
such calm funshine of the mind, these spectres of false
Sect. XV. General Corollary from the whole.
Though the stupidity of men, barbarous and uninstructed, be so great, that they may not see a sovereign author in the more obvious works of nature, to which they are so much familiarized; yet it scarce feems poffible, that any one of good understanding should reject that idea, when once it is fuggested to him. A purpose, an intention, a design is evident in every thing; and when our comprehension is so far enlarged as to contemplate the first rise of this vifible system, we must
adopt, with the strongest conviction, the idea of some intelligent cause or author. The uniform maxims too, which prevail through the whole frame of the universe, naturally, if not necessarily, lead us to conceive this intelligence as single and undivided, where the prejudices of education oppose not so reasonable a theory. Even the contrarieties of nature, by discovering themselves every where, become proofs of some consistent plan, and establish one single purpose or intention, however inexplicable and incomprehensible.
Good and ill are universally intermingled and confounded; happiness and mifery, wisdom and folly, virtue and vice. Nothing is pure and entirely of a piece. All advantages are attended with disadvantages. An universal compensation prevails in all conditions of being and existence. And it is scarce possible for us, by our most chimerical wishes, to form the idea of a station or situation altogether desirable. The draughts of life, according to the poet's fiction, are always mixed from the vessels on each hand of JUPITER: Or if any cup be presented altogether pure, it is drawn only, as the same poet tells us, from the left-handed vessel.
The more exquisite any good is, of which a small specimen is afforded us, the sharper is the evil, allied to it; and few exceptions are found to this uniforin law of nature. The most sprightly wit borders on madness; the highest effufions of joy produce the deepest melancholy; the most ravishing pleasures are attended with the most cruel laffitude and disgust; the most flattering hopes make way for the severest disappointments. And in general, no course of life has such fafety (for happiness is not to be dreamed of) as the temperate and moderate, which maintains, as far as possible, a mediocrity, and a kind of insensibility, in every thing.