Page images
PDF
EPUB

own, * though he be so great an Advocate for the natural Deities. Saturnus, Fanus, Faunus, Fatna, Romulus, and all the Dii indigites, are generally owned to be Princes of Italy; and the Latin Jupiter might probably be Æneas, who was called Jupiter Indiges. Neither doth he receive his Name à juvando, as being so principal a Part of the Universe, as Varro, and Tully pretend ; but is only the Greek Zsús, with the usual Addition of Pater, as Marfpiter, Deifpiter, it being usual to change the Greek when put in Latin into 7 or G, which has the like Sound, as Jüzey jugum, 312 s16ng Gingiber. And as for Funo, I look upon her to be but the old Fana; and Saturn to be the true Name of that old King, which is preserved still in the Teutonick, Seater. So was the famous Hammon of Africa Cham the first Prince, or Founder of that Country, Bacchus a great Conqueror in the East, and the cele, brated Rhea, or Cybele, an adopted Daughter of Minos, an ancient King of Porygia, and Ceres, or Ifis, a Queen of Ægypt. There is no Doubt, but these Deities were first taken in as ascititious and tutelar Gods of the Place, and worshiped together with the supreme God, but in Time, like Saint-worship among the Papists, they justled out God Almighty through Pretence of their particular Inspection, and brought his Worship to little or nothing. And besides People stood upon Punailio's of Honour, to have their particular God the greatest God; so that there was not any little Hedge-God of a puny Province, but by his Votaries was equalled to the Gods of the King of Assyria. Hence Zeal for their Deities, and a fanciful Bigottry, founded abroad a Number of their Miracles and Excellencies, which coming to the Ears of foreign Countries, they in Time of Extremity, when they were willing to try all Experiments, adopted them their Gods too; as the † Mater Idea was brought to Rome when Hannibal with his Army was ravaging Italy, and lle Ær culapins was canonised there in that raging Pestilence which happened, An. V. C. 460. So that in Time

* De Nat. Deor. Lib. 3. + Liv. Hist. Lib. 39.0, 10. || Id. Lib. 1o. ncreale

Gods. d alm

this translating of Deities from one Country to another) did very much conduce to the Increase of the Heathen

Polytheism and fabulous Stories of their Gods. By the wor-, 3. Another great Cause of it was the early and almost Ship of the universal Worship of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. It is Sun, Moon certain, that the idolatry of the Sun and Moon is very And Stars.

ancient, by the Book of Job, which probably is the oldest Writing extant; for Job there maintaining his Integrity, disowns his ever having worshiped the Sun or Moon. If I beheld the Sun when it shined, or the Moon walking in Brightness, and my Heart hath been secretly enticed, or my Mouth has kissed my Hand; this were also an Iniquity to be punished by the Judge, for I should have denied the God that is above. Job xxxi. 26, 09. And Macrobius spends seven whole Chapters in his first Book of Şat urnalia, to prove, that Apollo, Mars, Mercury, Æf culapius, Salus, Hercules, Isis, Serapis, Adonis, Attys, Osga ris, Horus, Nemesis, Pan, and even Saturn and Jupiter, were nothing else but the Sun. And if one confiders the Gloriousness of that Planet, and its extraordinary Beneficialness to the Earth, one can hardly imagine, but that the first Idolaters paid their Worship to it. 'Tis plain by History, that the Persian Mithras was but another Name for the Sun. And learned Men have proved; that the Moabitish Baal-Peor, the Syrian Moloch, the Arabian Vrotalt, the Æthiopian Alabinus, and other Deities, were nothing else but the Sun. V. Voljivim de Orig. Idol. Spenc. di Leg. Heb. Selden, de Diis Syrisa That Hecate and Diana were but other Names for the Moon, is known to every one ; and, Orpheus in his Hymns makes her Proserpina too. :

Ωρών συμπλέκτειρα, φαεσφίες, αγλαιμορφα
'Eupene so wegésora

Spinster of Time, of bright and beauteous Forms
Opining, horned Goddess.

Thé

The same was in Probability the Ægyptian Isis, the Allyrian Astarte, or Astaroth, the Arabian Alilat, and the Greek Ilithyia. The other Planets gave Names to some Gods, as to Mars, Mercury, Venus or Dione, as the fanciful Forms of the Constellations might do to others, as to Hercules and Orion ; and when all these different "Names, which were given the same Luminaries in so ma'ny several Countries, came to be carried to Greece and Rome, who understood nothing of these barbarous Languages, they presently took them for new Deities food Eivier, outlandish Gods, which they had never worshiped before ; so that this alone must in Time swell their Lift of Deities to a considerable Length.

4. Another Cause of their Polytheism and fabulous Di- By deifying vinity, was their making Gods and Goddesses of Words, Words.

a Sort of grammatical Deities, that were made Gods when " of the Masculine, and Goddesses when of the feminine

Gender. Thus Somnis, and Dolor and Pavor, were He Gods; and Pecunia, Prudentia, and Concordia, were She ones, with a World more of the like. Now when the Heathen had gotten this Way of stocking Heaven, 'tis a · Mercy they had not left us the whole Dictionary full of Gods. And just at the fame Rate the Nurses and good Women were the Authors of a Multitude of Deities. It was they that invented the Office of Lucina to give an easy Labour, of Opis to receive the Child; of the God ** Vagicanns, that opened the Mouth of the Child to cry; of Lcvana, that took the Child up when 'twas down; of Cunina which guarded the Cradle, of the Carmentes which read the Destiny of it, of Rumina which made it fuck,

Educe and Potina, which made it eat and drink; of Me * nas, Fortuna Barbata, Fuguntinus, &c. Now I fancy, Philologus, I should make you break your Brains, should I set you to give a philosophical Account of all those Dei. ties, when an old 'Woman could coin twenty of them in a Breach. Phil. I thank you, Sir, for your kind offer; but I don't * Care to be set to such Sort of Work as the Conjurers do

* Vjd. Var. Ling. Lat. Lib. 4. August. Civ. Dci, Lib. 4. Cap. 11.

the

the Devils they raise; to pick Oatmeal and tell Sand. But although some Gilly People might make odd Sort of Work with natural Religion heretofore ; yer as it was taugl. and practised by the wisest of the Heathen, it was à noble Religion, full of wise Thought and rational Deduction; the Dictates whereof were not proved by Chapter and Verse, but by folid and curious Reasoning. And this your Divines are aware of well enough, when they are forced now and then to bring in a Shred or two of the ancient Learning, to add a Poignancy to their dull Dilcourses of Morality, to keep the Folks from sleeping: And I observe generally an Auditory on a sudden to look brisk upon Plato and Tully, when they have been nodding over Paul and Peter. And truly there is good Reason for it; for their Books and Sayings afford us such admirable Lectures of Morality; in them we may see the Duty of Mankind set out so fully and exactly, and in such cha: ming Strains of Eloquence, that all your inspired Authors, as you call them, look very poor Things to them. Now who can blame me for Itanding up for natural Religion, when you see it could raise these philosophical Minds to such a'noble Height, as Revelation can never pretend to?, I cannot read a piece of Seneca, or Plutarch, or any of those excellent Philosophers, but methinks, my Soul is warm'd with the Braveness of the Thoughts, and I am at the same Time convinced of, and in Love with my Duty. And I doubt not, but had I liv'd in those Times to have made the Observation, I might have perceived, that the Le&tures and Examples of these admirable Men had considerable Influence upon the Lives of the common People ; at least, I am sure, there was Force enough in their Do&rine to make them completely good. Sit arzio ma mea cum animis Philosophorum; and in another States let me but consort with the Plato's and Zeno's, and I fall never envy your Armies of Saints and Martyrs.

Cred. I will be kinder to you than you are to your self; and will put up my Prayers to God, that you may have a place in the Resurrection of the Just, and may be of the Number of God's Elect, and then I am sure you are safe. 179 It shall not be my Business to predetermine the future Stato, of those good Heathens, that have lived up to the Light of their Reason. I know they are to stand or fall by the Judgmene of a merciful God; and therefore for my Parc I am always inclined to hope very well of them. But this I am sure of, that the Morality of the Heathen Philofophers was so far from being a compleat Rule of Morals, that it was very erroneous, both as it represented the Nature of God and the Notion of Virtue ; and that it was so far from having any Influence upon the Lives of tlie Commonalty, that for the most part it had little or none upon their own. As for their good Language and handsome Thought, that was the Talent and peculiar Study of thofe Ages, but then again, that which sullied all their Performances, and spoild the best Things they did, or said, was, that Pride and Vain-glory, which was common to all of them, and which all their Words and Actions were bottomed upon. For I will make it appear to you, Pbie Julogus, · 1. That Pride and Vain-glory was the Primim Mobile, Morality of the first Spring of the Morality of the old Philofophers, the Philoand not a Delign of doing Good. Now such a pitiful jophers End, as this is, is enough to fpoil the best A&tion in the

" grounded

in the spon Pride, World. Tertullian, * I remember, calls a Philosopher the

Animal of Glory; and if one confiders the Generality of their Writings and Practice, one shall find he had great Rcason for it. And Cicero is so ingenuous às to own the Charge, though against himself : For he tells us fincerely, + Vule plane virtus honorem, nec eft virtutis ulla alia meriis. Virtue does plainly desire Horour, neither has she any other - Reward. And if a Man scans the wholé Tenor of the Philosopher's Lives, he can never think they had any other Ënd. For what other Account belides gaining Glory, and a Name in the World; can be given of their Hatching so many different Priticiples; both in Physiológy and Morality, but only to be taken Notice of for inventing something singular and remarkable? What was

Lib. de Animà † Cic. de Amicitiu

N

« PreviousContinue »