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to have no religion, it is a folly to boafi of the want 'of it.
'Whence then this eagerness to propagatc systems, the tendency whereof is to slacken the reins that curb the irregularity of our appetites, and restrain the impetuosity of paslion? In our 'dogmatizing philosophers, it mustproceed from the corruption of the heart, averse to restraint ; or the vanity of the mind, which glories in striking srom the common path, and not thinking
lwith the multitude.
Your unspott'ed character, justifies you from any''im'putat'ion o'fa design to infect others with the'poison of ali'centi'ous 'doctrine : but vanity 'is'one of those forelgn' ingredients, 'blended by thezloss 'of 'original justice into our nature. It prefers glorious 'vices to Obscure virtues. It ani=mates thehero'to extend'his conquests at the e''z'rpensehf juit'ice ; and stimulates the philoso*phe'r'to erect'thebanners of error on the ruinsoftr'ti'th. 'You'seerrr'to'acknowledge it in your en''quiiies'intothe causes os*'error : a It was vaunity'in'þhilosophvers which caused so many ***"different 'sects and 'sy*sterns." I believe it. Montaigne'was of the same opinion. Imr'ne'r'sedin an 'ocean. of disorders, "glorying in appearance, in an utter extinction 'of remorse, and 'conversa'nt with the doctrine taught 'in''Epiclrrus's garden, he acknowledges that vanflyluin
duce: Free-thinken to affect more impiety than they are really capahle of Lucretius in like manner, whose arguments against the immortality of the soul are the saine with yours, corroborates your opinion, relative to 'the biass 'vanity gives those fearing and philosophical geniusc's, who strike from the trodden path. When in glowing, numbers he enforced his fond opinion of care? less Gods and material souls, as favourable to the calm repose which the voluptuous bard, who makes his invocation .to Venus, would fain enjoy without remorse here, or punishment hereafter, he was well aware that his doc_ trine clashed with'the general sense of mankind. But the philosophical poet consoles himself,
*with the flattering expectat'ion of gr'atifying his
" 'Tis sweet to crop frefh flowers, and get a " crown, _ '* For 'new and rare inventions of my own."
In. a word, some men' of learning plume themselves upon the smgularity of their opinions; and however they may di'sclaim vanity, as the spring of their literary performances, yet
it is one of those ingredients which gives a zest'
to their compositions. And if singularity and novelty of invention, be stimulatives to felt'love, few authors of the age are more bound to
B z guard
guard against this dangerous and agreeable pola sour, than the author of the Thought: on nature and religion.
To range those singularities under their proper heads, is almost impoffible; and modesty does not permit to transcribe from your book several passages of your allegorical commentary, on the second chapter of Genesis. T he coat os shins, then, with which God covered the man and woman after their fall, as well as the fruit so filed/ing to the eye, which the woman tasted, Ileave
the Doctor in full posseffion of. He is a married.
man, and skilled in the anatomy of all parts of the body.
After giving his readers the important infor- '
mation, that Adam was displeased with his wife, for inducing him to a faux pas, which I believe no married man (except Adam, if we believe the Doctor) ever scrupled, he allegorizes some of the rest of the chapter in the following manner : " God planted a garden eastward in " Eden," says the inspired writer, " and there " he put the man whom he had formed. What V is called a garden," says the Doctor, " Itake " to be the human mind. By the river which " watered the garden, and afterwards divided " into four branches, is meant innocence di" vided into the four cardinal virtues." Here he loses breath, for to allegorize all would be
too tedious, and doubtless the public have room to regret the Doctor's omiffion in not continu. ing the allegory to the end of the chapter.
He professes his belief in the scriptures, but has the good luck' to elude every difficulty which falls in his way, by the affistance of metaphors, and thinks himself the more authorized to take this freedom with Moses, as he discovers a mistake inthe Bible. V I will strike Egypt, *' saith the Lord, from the tower of Syene to the *5 borders of Ethiopia. Ezechiel." " Instead of " Ethiopia," says the Doctor, " it should be
" Arabia, for Syene was situated on the bor" ders of Ethiopia."
Pray, Doctor, does a mistake in geography uon the part of the translators of the Bible, invalidate the Mosaical account of man's inno
cence, together with his felicity in Paradise, the malice of the tempting spirit, and his appearance under the form of a serpent; the fall
of Adam and Eve, fatal to all their posterity ; the first man justly punished in his children, and mankind cursed by God; vthe first promise of redemption, and the future victory of men over the Devil who had undone them? Has not the memory of those great events, and the fatal t'ranlition from original justice to the cor
ruption of sin, been preserved in the golden*
and iron ages of the poets, their Hesperian gar* ' den.s
dens watched by dragons, and in the inchantments andworship of idolatrous nations, in whose incantations and superstitions, the serpent always bore, as it bears still, a principal part. Allegorize Moses as much as you please , he relates that God promised that the woman's qfipring would crush the sZ'rpent's hend. This very promise of a
Redeemer, and man's' victory through his'
grace, are foretold in the oracles of the Gen
tiles. Even Tacitus, though a mortal enemyv
to the Jews and Christians, acknowledges, that it was a constant tradition amongst the Oriental nations, that from the Jews would spring a conz queror, who would subdue the world. A translator's mistake as to the name of a town or tower, is no plea for scepticism, especially as there are and have been, several towns of the same name in different places, which might
have been the case with Syene ; and cities which.
in a long succeffion. of time, have changed their names, or born different names at the same time, as is the case with Constantinople, which the Turks call Stamboul, and others Byzantium.
But let us suppose that the tower of Syene was situated on the same line, in an opposite direction, with the frontiers of Ethiopia, is there any impropriety in saying, "I will strike FF Egypt from the tower of Syene to the