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of the'Trinity, as an invention of the clergy, ;borrqwed 'from the poetical fable of the three brothers, Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; the -Divinity of Christ, as .an imposition of the Church; and the immortality of the foul, as the fruit.of scholastic subtlety.
You think the religion of nature a sufficient guide, and prefer.Socrates and Cato to the clergy of the Christian .religion. The great Cato, whom you applaud for his bon mot when he said, that he was surprized bow two priests could tneet without bursting out into a fit of laughter. X)o .not confide too 'much, my dear Sir, in reason and this boasted law of nature, wjiich.formed an Aristides, a Socrates, a Cato whom you applaud for laughing at priests. Whatever' tricks .or juggles might have been played in the recesses of the Capitol, where the Sibylline oracles were deposited, to answer the purposes of -state,—to animate the people to.war, from an expectation of success, under the protection of Jupiter or Appllo,—-and to support the pride and policy of Roman grandeur;.... the priests of- the Christian religion do not conceal their belief. Cato might laugh in seeing his colleague, •for reasons best known to themselves: and doubtless, r the priest, who .came to the Roman lady wi.thva message/from Apollo, informing iber th?t-.'the <jqd. intended to honour her that C 2 night night with his company, by sleeping with her in his temple, laughed heartily in seeing the young gentleman who bribed him to the cheat, and the more so, as on the day following the lady gave the public to understand, that however great Apollo might have been, in his quality of God, honoured with altars and temples, he had nothing extraordinary in his quality of companion. Cato's priests then might have laughed in seeing one another; the mysteries and rites of their Gods, as debauched and corrupt as themselves, afforded scenes of impure mirth: and the Christian clergy are obliged to the Doctor for putting them and the three brothers, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whom they worship, on a level with the heathen priests and their Jupiter, who ravished Ganymedes, Neptune and his sea nymphs, and Pluto, who carried off Proserpina.
In spite of the preference, given by the doctor to Ca to and Socrates, over the Christian clergy, and the sufficiency of the law of nature to regulate the conduct of man, we can assure him, that under the direction of a Christian mouther who never studied philosophy, a child imbibes fublimer notions of the Divinity, and purer ideas of virtue than Plato ever taught in the academy, or Aristotle in the Lyceum. What were those boasted sages whom our modern
. FreeFree-thinkers so often introduce on the stage, as paragons of wisdom, in order to play the dazzling glass in the eyes of the unwary, by making reason their only oracle, and painting religion as priest-craft? Some doubted of their own existence, and consequently of the existence of a God. Some figured to themselves an indolent God, who never concerned himself in the affairs of mortals, equally indifferent about vice or virtue; who, to use the words of Lucretius,
"Ne'er smiles at good, ne'er frowns at wicked deeds."
Some considered the Supreme Being as the slave of destiny. Others as incorporate with the universe, and a part of a world which is the work of his hand.
What extravagant notions concerning the nature of the foul! In one school it was an assemblage of atoms; in another it was subtile air; in a third school it was a something which after its separation from one body entered into another; roaming from heaven to earth and from earth to heaven, without any permanent abode; alternately swaying the sceptre of authority in the hands of the monarch, and animating the body of a beast of burden. Their great remedy against the terrors of death, consisted in a false but flatlering way of reasoning. f* Either the soul dies with the body, or survives *Mt. If it dies with the body it cannot suffer. If
*• it ** itfur^ivrfs it, it will be happy.'* Not reflecting that the horrors of sin, and infinite justice, may appoint an intermediate state, wherein man is eternally miserable. Hence all the refns werd slackened, and the most abominable crimes honoured with priests, altars and temples. Public worship became a public prostitutioii. Incest, impurity,- drunkenness, hatred, pride, were deified under the fictitious names of Jupiter, Juno, Venus, Mars, &c. and criminal Gods were worshipped with crimes.
It was hot the mountain inhabited by the rude arid uncivilized, which alone was polluted with the fmoak of profane incense: the nations most renowned for learning and refinement,—Romans; Greeks, and Egyptians,—in the midst of their cities^ saw sumptuous edifices confe^ crated to the passions which the gospel condemns. By their mistakes and errors, it is easy to perceive the weakness of reason, and the necessity of revealed religion.
Your Philosophers, whom our Modern Freethinkers are ever extolling, with a view to degrade the- Christian religion and its ministers^ never escaped the general contagion. Your Cato, besides suicide, was guilty of levities of a. softer nature than the steel with which he killed himself. Your Socrates, whom you would
fain truth and the original religion of nature, acknowledges, in his defence, that he worshipped the Gods of his c'rty, and was seen on public festivals, sacrificing at their altars. His wrestling naked with his pupil, Alcibiades, was an attitude illsuited to the character of a man, entitled to % place in the calendar of saints. What shall \ fay of the Cynics, who laid aside allthe natural, restraints of shame and modesty? Of Chrysippus, the advocate of inter-mar/iages between fathers and daughters? Of the Persian Magi, who married their mothers? Of Seneca, playing the moralist in public, debauching his sovereign's wife in private, and preferring, his pretended wife man to God himself? What shall I fay of the divine Plato, who annihilates the institution of connubial ties? who by introducing a community of women, and refusing the husbandany exclusive property in the marriage bed, would fain introduce a horrid confusion amongst men; confound all paternal rights, which nature itself respected, and people his republic with inhabitants, uncertain of their origin ; without tenderness, affection, or humanity: Whereas in such a state it would have been impossible for the son to know his father.