Page images

a large recruit to the royal trcasury, (which was 1,300,000 pesos,) he was obliged to. apply by petition for a small sum to Charles V. to discharge some petty debts which he had contracted during the course of his service. Robertson's Hist. of Amer. vol. ii. p. 247, 264.,

Cum vates sacri semper de Deo humanitus loquuntur, humanos actiones, humanos affectus, humana etiam membra illi tribuentes, qui fieri potest, ut omnino existimentur Divinam Majestatem unquam digne expressisse, ac non potius, quantum in ipsis fuit imminuisse ac violasse videantur? Non; ne id de illis etiam verum erit, quod Homero merito vitio vertit Longinus, nimirum illum Deos suos homines fecisse, vel etiam infra humanam sortem depressisse? Sed Homerus cæterique ea de Diis suis in proprio sensu acceperunt, quæ vix, ac ne vix quidem, possunt allegorice intelligi. Contra vates sacri naturam divinam sub humanis imaginibus adumbrent, co quod necessario illud postulet humanæ mentis imbecillitas; eoque modo, ut quæ a rebus humanis ad Deuin transfèruntur, nunquam proprie accipi possint. Atque hoc ni fallor, rei cujusdam satis notabilis rationem aliquantum 'reconditam explicabit; nimirum cur ex iis rerum imaginibus, quæ ad Deum transferuntur, illæ potissimum, quæ in sensu proprio acceptæ ab ejus natura alienissimæ ejusque majestate indignissimæ viderentur, tamen in metaphora aut comparatione longe maximam habent sublimitatem. Verbi gratia, quæ a corpore et membris humanis ducuntur, plerumque grandius quiddam habent et magnificentius, quam quæ transferuntur ab affectibus aut intellectu; quæque a brutis animalibus sumuntur, sæpe sublimitate exsuperant ea quæ petuntur ab hominis, natura. -- Cum enim imagines in se spectatæ crassum quiddam et plane absonum spirent, tantâque materia quam maxime indignum, eo citius inde abripitur animus, et ad rei ipsius magnitudinem contemplandam subito transit. Vide Ps. lxxviii. 65, Jer. XXV, 30, Hos. xiii. 7, 8. , Lowth de Sac. Poes. p. 151, 300.

A patribus multis locis docetur, ipsum salutis initium tribui debere PRIME GRATIÆ,h. e. supernaturalibus actibus, quibus Deus immediate mentem illuminat, sanctas cogitationes inspirat, voluntatem 'ac affectus excitat, liberumque arbitrium ita supra naturam suam occulta ratione elevat, ut cum ante ex natura sua non posset non se opponere divinæ gratiæ, jam potens aptumque fiat ad non repugnandum vocationi divinæ. Nempe viderunt patres, si dicatur, gratiam supernaturalem pendere ab merito de congruo, nec simpliciter fateamur, eam omnimodis esse priorem omni hominis operatione, quæ quidem ad conversionem ac justificationem qualemcunque ex sc habeat respectum, plane consequi, ut divina gratia exspectet conatum naturæ, atque ita initium salutis sit ex nobis, quia initium operum ad salutem disponentium sit ex nobis. Voss. Hist. Pelag. lib. vii. p. 1, thes. 4.

* It may with great probability, be supposed that there was nothing very arbitrary or.. despotic in the manner of GOYERNMENT: at or near the beginning. So, historically,


we find that Pharaoh behaved with great gentleness towards Abraham, Gen. xii. 18, 20. And, as the government must at that time have been partly patriarchal and partly elective, this was perhaps the method of kings in those primitive ages of simplicity. There was then a greater parity among mankind; and government itself was erected either from patriarchal love, as by the father of a family over his own tribe, or for the general good, by the choice of the subjects; we must think it would be at first a mild and gentle thing. And, if by degrees it became hereditary, by regarding primogeniture in the posterity of the patriarch-monarch, yet, if it was considered under the notion of a fatherly authority descending to the hereditary king, there was a tenderpess in the very notion; and, if it was partly elective, though in the patriarch's family, it must have been considered that government was, in the notion of it, an instrument of the public good. So that probably this gentle and humane kind of government was the species of priinitive government that at first prevailed. Finder's Hist. of Knowledge, vol. ii. p. 217.

The supreme executor acts contrary to his trust when he either employs the force, treasure, and offices, of the society, to corrupt the representatives and gain them to his purposes, or openly pre-engages the electors, and prescribes to their choice such whom he has, by solicitations, promises, threats, or otherwise, won to his designs, and employs them to bring in such who have promised before-hand what to vote and what to enact. Thus to regulate candidates and electors, and new model the ways of election, what is it but to cut up the government by the roots, and poison the very fountain of public society? Lock on Government, lib. ii. c. 19. . ii .!

Petty principalities seem to have been the original government of mankind, and deduced from the natural right of paternal dominion; but whether those little principalities descended by succession, or whether the rulers were elected by the consent of the people, is not recorded. Lyttleton's Letters, letter 3. .. i Our civil government is happily placed between the two extremes of despotic power and popular licentiousness. It is wisely composed of such a due mixture of the several simple forms of government, those of one, of a few, and of many, as to retain as far as possible the advantages, and to exclude the inconveniencies, peculiar to each. The harmony of the whole arises from the mutual connection and the mutual opposition of the several constituent parts.. The three different orders which compose the system, including every part of the community and possessing the unlimited authority of the whole, are connected together by a power of ordaining, belonging jointly to them all; they are opposed to one another by a power of hindering, belonging sepasately to each: by the former they are enabled to provide for the good of the community in general, by the latter they are disabled from encroaching on each other's rights, or oppressing any part. — Every one of the three powers is a moderating power, placed between two others, and ready to exert its force on either hand; to aid or resist, to incite or repress, as the exigence may demand. Thus the aristocratical

power power is, as it were, the isthmus between the regal and popular powers, keeping each within its due bounds, not suffering either to overflow its shores. Each of the others, in its turn, bath a like influence in tempering the powers on each side of it; nor is the influence of the collective body of the people wholly excluded by devolving its rights on the representative; for it not only creates the representative, body, but holds it, when created, in continual restraint by the freedom and frequency of a new choice. Such are the fundamental principles, such the general plan, of our system of government; a system, beautiful and admirable in theory beyond all the ideal forms that political wisdom hath ever conceived; useful and salutary, in practice, beyond all the real examples that civil history can furnish. Lowth's Assize Serm. August 15, 1764.

In absolute governments there is no power of lifting up the sword against the higher powers, because there is none can obtain a share in the government, and so none can have any power of the sword, a right to be an avenger of evil, but the absolute power. In mixt governments, if any person or states can claim the power, it must be either, Ist, upon compact that such persons shall have power to defend their laws; or, 2dly, by virtue of that rule of Grotius, that, where a people hath confined not an absolute power but a government according to the law, they must be supposed to have reserved to themselves a power necessary to preserve their laws. Butler's Serm....

Instead of that activity and zeal to propagate Christian knowledge, and to dispel the clouds of ignorance and barbarity which keep the minds of men in darkness, for us, he that is ignorant may be ignorant still, and be that is filthy may be filthy still. Though the world is much better opened by greater discoveries of new countries, and greater improvements of trade and navigation, than there were formerly, we have made use of these advantages, not for the instruction or conversion of the heathen, but for propagating of trade; with all the frauds that attend the most unchristian way of managing it. Instead of recovering men out of their errors and superstitions, we have rather rivetted and confirmed them in their evil ways; while we shew nothing of religion among them neither in life or doctrine, but rather an atheism and indifference, and greater signs of infidelity than are to be found among themselves. Nay, there is even a zeal to oppose and hinder every thing that has any tendency to the encouragement of' religion or the propagation of the GOSPEL; and we will much more readily concur:in: methods of destruction and extirpation, than in any endeavours towards the instruction or conversion of the heathen in our neighbourhood. Blair's Sermons, vol. i. p. 441. .

It is obvious to observe one circumstance, which cannot fail.of introducing the Gosa pel into distant nations with great advantage. That part of the world, wherein Christianity is established, infinitely surpasses the rest in all the sciences and improvements which raise one nation above another in reputation or power. Of this superiority the Europeans have availed themselves to the utmost in every project for extending their empire or commerce, and have brought a great part of the globe into a dependence either on their arts or arms. Now, these same attainments in science or policy might be employed to good purpose on the side of religion; and, though hitherto subservient to the designs of interest or ambition, may we not flatter ourselves that at least they shall become noble instruinents in the hand of God for preparing the world to receive the Gospel? This glorious prospect may be distant, but it is not imaginary. Even in a degenerate age, zealous and active spirits have ariser, and societies hare been formed upon the generous plan of propagating the knowledge of Christ to nations far off. Robertson's Serm. for promoting Christian Knowledge. . · If we prize the great blessing which was in the light of the Gospel as we ought, and are actuated with a spirit becoming it, we shall be even zealous to maintain and secure it to ourselves; and, when occasion offers, and as far as our influence extends, to impart and communicate it to others; to which great work of zeal and charity (the propagation of the Gospel) the providence of God seems at this time expressly to call us, by opening an immense field to this pious labour in the vast accession made to our foreign dominions among barbarous and unenlightened nations. Lowth's Assize-Serm. August, 1764.


· The oldest annals and histories of the Phænicians, Egyptians, 'Libyans, Atlantians, Chaldæans, and Cretans, agreed, that the first Gods were men and women who were deified after their death, and they do not mention any worship paid to the celestial bodies and elements before this, and which was instituted after mankind became dispersed into different parts of the earth, and societies and kingdoms were formed. About the time of this dispersion, Sanchoniatho places the deification of Eliun, the father of Uranus; but most others agree either that Uranus, or Saturn, (Phænician Kings) were the first kings who were worshipped as gods; and, it seems to me most probable, that. the Idolatry of hero-worship began upon the death of Saturn, about 800 years after the flood: 'and, it is most probable, that this laid the foundation of the worship of the celestial orbs, sun, moon, stars, &a into which the souls of the first deified kings and eminent persons were believed to reside and worshipped in them; and, by being worshipped, both, they and the celestial bodies were in time believed to be eternal gods. And it appears from Sanchoniatho, whose history is the standard of pagan theogony, that the Phænicians bad temples and images of the hero-gods from the beginning, and Plato supposes the same of the Egyptians. And could these be erected by mere physical elements? could the elements or celestial bodies be represented by the forms of men and women? There could (as Eusebius well observes) be no occasion for these images to represent and put them in mind of the sun, moon, 'planets, earth, 'air, fire, and water, which they daily saw or perceived: and how came they also particularly to describe the complexions, statures, wárlike and amorous exploits, and all the passions,

• weils e in... . . virtues,

firtues, and vices, of the gods and goddesses, if they did not believe they were men and women? Jackson's Chronol. vol. iii, p. 46, 47, 48, &c. .

. But, to this opinion, it may be objected that the supposition of Idolatry taking its rise among the Phænicians seems to have no good foundation; for, as this learned author allows, in p. 39, that Sanchoniatho, for the greater honour of his country, makes all the first ten generations of men live in Phænicia, and supposes the dispersion of thein afterwards, according to their families, into different and distant parts of the earth, to have proceeded from that country, as Moses does more truly from the land of Shinar or the country of Babylonia and Chaldæa, we may reasonably suppose that Idolatry was first practised in Chaldæa; and, from what this author says himself afterwards of the Persian, Arabian, and Chaldæan, Idolatry, it may be concluded that the worship of the celestial bodies was prior to any other, which he allows, page 55, the Chaldæans believed were animated with divine intelligences as well as the souls of dead men; and, by another passage on the origin of oracles, page 256, he rather ascribes the rise of Idolatry to the belief of these spiritual intelligences, where he says, “ The belief of tutelar angels, presiding under God as the ministers of his providence over every country and nation, was universally received, either by revelation or tradition, in the first dispersions and settlements of men, and Moses and the prophets seem to give credit to the truth of it. And, as men would be always desirous of their propitious presence and influences, so it was natural for them to seek out means of conversing with them by soine visible representations or symbols, (such as these were probably the Teraphim of Laban,) which by degrees produced many sorts of superstitions and various kinds of oracles. It is hard to account any other way for the so antient and universal institutions of divination and oracles, which, by the policy of kings and priests, and also by the delusions of evil damons, became the source of endless Idolatry and superstition.” And again, p. 256: “ Whether any direct adoration was paid to these celestial angelic beings in the first ages of the world, or before the flood, does not appear; but it is highly probable, that, after the dispersion of the sons of Noah, men soon began to worship them. And there is nothing more unanimously attested in the most antient histories than the universally-received opinion of the sun, moon, stars, and planets, and the several parts of the earth, being inhabited by celestial spirits or dæmons, of different orders and degrees of knowledge and power; who presided over countries and influenced human affairs. Therefore they endeavoured, by sacrifices, divinations, and making teraphim, or visible representations of them, to secure their propitious influence and presence with them." But, besides, he supposes that many of the American nations were descended from the Phanicians, for this reason, because they worshipped the sun, moon, and Saturn, which were the most antient Phænician deities. Page 355.

That a good or evil genius attended every man from his birth was a prevailing opinion ainong the heathens, as appears from these lines of Menander.


« PreviousContinue »