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ter the Israelites were carried captives into Affyria. At first they seemed desirous to know and fear the God of Israel : but when they came to be informed of his holy character, and what kind of worship he required, they presently discovered their dislike. They pretended to fear him ; but it was mere pretence ; for every nation made gods of their own.t Now gods of their own making would doubtless be characterized according to their own mind; they would be patrons of such vices as their makers withed to indulge ; gods whom they could approach without fear, and in addressing them be “ more at ease," as Mr. Hume says, than in addressing the one living and true God; gods, in fine, the worship of whom might be accompanied with banquetings, revellings, drunkenness, and lewdness. These, I conceive, were the exercises, rather than the mere falling down to an idol, that interested the passions of the worshippers. These were the exercises that feduced the ungodly part of the Ifraelitish nation to an imitation of the heathens. They found it extremely disagreeable to be constantly employed in the worship of a holy God. Such worship would awe their spirits, damp their pleasures, and restrain their inclinations. It is not surprising therefore that they should be continually departing from the worship of Jehovah, and leaning towards that which was more congenial with their propensities. But the fituation of modern unbelievers is fingular. Things are fo circumstanced with them that they cannot worfhip the gods which they prefer. They never fail to discover a strong partiality in favour of heathens ; but they have not the face to practise or defend their
2 Kings, xvii.
absurd idolatries. The doctrine of one living and true God has appeared in the world, by means of the preaching of the gospel, with such a blaze of evidence, that it has forced itself into the minds of men, whatever has been the temper of their hearts. The stupid idolatry of past ages is exploded. Chriftianity has driven it out of Europe. The condequence is, great numbers are obliged to acknowledge a God whom they cannot find in their hearts to worship
If the light that is gonte abroad in the earth would permit the rearing of temples to Venus or Bacchus, or any of the rabble of heathen deities, there is little doubt but that modern unbelievers would in great numbers become their devotees : but seeing they cannot have a god whose worship shall accord with their inclinations, they seem determined not to worship at all. And to come off with as good a grace as the affair will admit, they compliment the Deity out of his sovereign prerogatives; profefling to. “ love him for his giving them existence, and all their properties, without Interest, and without subjecting them to any thing but their own nature."*
The introduction of fo large a portion of heathen mythology into the fongs, and other entertainments of the stage, sufficiently shews the bias of people's hearts. The house of God gives them no pleasure : but the refurrection of the obscenities, intrigues, and Bacchanalian revels of the old heathens affords them exquisite delight. In a country where Chriftian worfhip abounds, this is plainly saying, "What a weariness is it! O that it were no more! Since however we cannot introduce the worship of the gods,
Ignor. Philos. No. XXIV.
'We will neglect all worship, and celebrate the • praises of our favourite deities in another form.'. In a country where deism has gained the ascendency, this principle is carried still farther. Its lan. guage there is, ' Seeing we cannot, for shame, wor
ship any other than the one living and true God, • let us abolish the day of worship, and substitute ' in its place one day in ten, which shall be devon
ted chiefly to theatrical entertainments, in which we can introduce as much heathenism as we please.'
Mr. Hume acknowledges the justice of confidering the Deity as infinitely superior to mankind; but he represents it at the same time as very generally attended with unpleasant effects, and magnifies the advantages of having gods which are only a little superior to ourselves. “ While the Deity, he fays, “ is represented as infinitely superior to mankind, " this belief, though altogether just, is apt when
joined with superstitious terrors, to fink the human mind into the lowest submission and abafe
ment, and to represent the monkish virtues of « mortification, penance, huinility and paflive suf“fering, as the only qualities which are accepta66 ble to him. But where the gods are conceived “ to be only a little fuperior to mankind, and to « have been many of them advanced from that in66 ferior rank, we are more at our ease in our ad“ dresses to them, and may even without profane“ ness afpire sometimes to a rivallhip and emulation “ of them. Hence activity, fpirit, courage, mag
nanimity, love of liberty, and all the virtues “ which aggrandize a people."*
* Diffiro on tái Nat. Hift. nf Ril. § X.
It is easy to perceive from this passage, that though Mr. Hume acknowledges the justice of conceiving of a God infinitely superior to us, yet his inclination is the other way.
In a nation at least, the bulk of which will be supposed to be inclined to fuperftition, it is better, according to his reasoning, and more friendly to virtue, to promote the worship of a number of imaginary deities, than of the one
a only living and true God. Thus the fool faith in his beart, no God!"
The sum of the whole is this, modern unbelievers are deists in theory, pagans in inclination, and atheists in practice.
If deists loved the one only living and true God, they would delight in worshipping him : for love cannot be inoperative; and the only possible way for it to operate towards an infinitely glorious and all-perfect Being is by worshipping his name, and obeying his will. If Mr. Paine really felt for “ The honour of his Creator," as he atfects to do,* he would mourn in secret for all the great wickedness which he has committed against him; he would lie in the dust before him, not merely as “m out-caft,
an a beggar, and a worm," but as a finner, deserving his eternal displeasure. He would be glad of a Mediator, through whom he might approach his offended Creator ; and would consider Redemption by his blood not as "a fable," but a divine reality, including all his salvation, and all his defire. Yes, he himself would “ turn devcut ;” and it would be faid of him as of Saul of Tarsus, Behold he prayeth ! Nor would his prayers, though importunate, be “ dictatorial,” or his grief " affected." On the
Age of Reason, Part I. p. 16.
contrary, he would look on Him whom he hath pierced, and mourn, as one mourneth for an only fon; and be in bitterness, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.. But these are things pertaining to godliness; things, alas for him, the mention of which is fufficient to infiame his mind with malignity, and provoke him to the most outrageous and abusive language.
The Christian standard of morality is enlarged, and
free from impurity: but deism confines our obliga-. tions to those duties which respect our own species, and greatly palliates vice with regard to a breach even of them.
ERSONS who profefs the strictest regard to the rule of duty, and carry the extent of it to the highest pitch, may, it is allowed, be infincere, and contradict by their practice what they advance in their professions. But those whose ideas of virtue are low and contracted, and who embrace every opportunity to reconcile the vices of the world with its sacred precepts, cannot posibly be accounted any other than its enemies.
That which the Scriptures call holiness, spirituality, &c. as much surpasses every thing that goes under the names of morality and virtue amongst unbelievers, as a living man furpaffes a painting, or even a rude and imperfect daubing. If in this controversy. I have used these terms to express the scrip. tural ideas, it is not because in their ordinary ac.