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I beg your Pardon for this long Digression from our main Design, which yet your Discourse led me to. And now I shall speak to the Argument of your poetical Friend; which one would think should be irrefragable, considering it is so often repeated by your Gentlemen with such Grace and Emphasis :
The Priests eat Roast-meat, and the People ftar'd. But had not the People their Share of Roast-meat too as well as the Priests? Now here is a good Jest spoild The People for lack of understanding the Roman or Greek Antiqui- the anciene ties, or for want of reading the Books of Exodus, or Leo Sacrifices. viticus. For every Child knows, that the Fews were obliged every Year
to go to Jerusalem, not to see the Priests eat the Paschal Sacrifiet, but to eat it themselves. And 'tis plain, that the People eat likewise of other Sacrifices, by i Sam. ix. 13. where 'tis said, the People will not cat till Samuel come, because he doth bless the Sacrifice. And nothing of the Jewilh Sacrifices were peculiar to the Priests but only the Remainders of the voluntary, piacular Offerings, Lev. vi. 16. And so in the Heathen Sacrifices, after some small Parts were offered to the Gods, the rest made a Feast for all the Sacrificers together, both Priests and People in common. So Homer speaks in general of all present at that Sacrifice;
Auta's è mai nauravo nivå, TET'20v? To dzird,
They every one do share an equal Feaft.
Kenda ορς επείψανο πλοίο,
Which they to all prefent
Vescitur Æneas fimul & Trojana juventus
In order, of the sacrificed Meat. But farther, Lylius Geraldus, in his Treatise de Diis Gentrium, informs us out of Herodotus and others; that the People were so far from not having a Share at the Sacrifice, that they might carry' weides, or Cuts of it home with them to their Friends, so that they too might partake of the Sacrifice. Which might perhaps give OccaLion to the like Custom of the Christians in the Eucharist. Euseb. Eccl. Hist. Lib. s. Cap. 24. 29. Nay, these voracious Priests were so far from eating up the Sacrifice, that many of the remaining Parts were afterwards fold at the Shambles. Vid. Herod. Clio. Augustin. Expof. in Rom. which gave Occasion to those Scruples among the Corinthians, concerning Idolatry, which St. Paul so judiciously satisfies, i Cor. x. 25. What focver is sold in the Shambles eat, asking no Question for Conscience-fake, &c. Which Custom the Apoftate Julian improved so far to be re. venged upon the Christians at Antioch; as to make all the Food which was brought to Market to be first dedicated at a Heathen Altar. Theod. Lib. 1. Cap. 14. And fo much for your gormandising Priests.
Phil. Well this is but a small Matter to talk of. But I can never forgive the sanctimonious Brotherhood, for all the Mischief they have done to natural Religion, by burying its pure and divine Light in such a Load of ceremonious Trumpery. If it were not for these Inventions of Priestcraft, a Man might do his Duty as far as Nature directs, with all the Ease imaginable. If a Man would but take Care to do what unprejudiced Nature prompts him to, not to overcharge her with more than the craves, nor to check her in her juft Desires, and to have as great and august Thoughts as he can of the Deity; he might perform the whole Business of Religion to all Intents and
Purposes. All the ceremonious Foppery which does so pester Mankind, is owing to the Priest's Contrivance, who would not have got so much by the free eafy Directions of Nature, as they do by long Catalogues of Articles of Faith, and a fine pageant-like raree-show Worship. For my Money give me good old, pure, natural Religion, which was in diebus illis.
In pious Times e'er Priestcraft did begin. Cred. Which was in Utopia, or only in the Brains of Natural the Gentlemen of your Way. For your Notion of na- Religion tural Religion is so far from being God's Law, or a Rule nos ike Ten.
dencies of of Mankind, that it was never dreamt of, till Mr. Hobbs would make his vitious Qualities the Rule of human Actions, and some of his Disciples had improved farther
upon him since. 'Tis true, I am for that natural Religion, which is the Dictates of right Reason, as much as any one; but your natural Religion is the corrupt Inclination of a depraved Will and disorderly Paffions, made out of Fear, Pride, Luft, and a felfish Humour. Men of these Principles are temperate, only for fear of the Sickness of a Debauch, or in hopes to live as long as the old Gentle. man of Malmesbury. They forbear to kill, or rob their Friend, for fear of the Animadversion of the Leviathan, or Common-wealth ; or that they may not incurr the Danger of being hanged, or losing their Reputation. Adultery indeed may be a little against the Pact we enter'd into, when we retired from a State of Nature; but moderate Whoring is as innocent, as eating, drinking, or sleeping. And now what a noble Idea of natural Religion is this, for Men thus to philofophise themselves into Beasts, and to call that pure Nature which is the worst Sort of Brutality? It cannot be denied, but that we have some disorderly Affections within, which are apt to prompt us to such Actions; but we have before thewn, that these Appetites have received an original Depravation, which has been the Opinion of all wife Men ; and besides, in the midst of this Tumult cf unruly Passions, we still find a right Reason within us, disalloying of these
irregular Tendencies, and a Conscience checking us for the submitting to them. And now let any one judge, which has the justest Claim to the Title of natural Religion, and the unblameable Practice of Mankind; those wise Dictates of Reason which restrain these Desires, or the mad Passions themselves. And yet when all comes to all, your Infidel Sparks, after all their Cry for natural Reli
pure uncorrupted Nature, mean no more by it, than uncontrolled Sensuality: Which is so vile an End for a Man to propose to himself, that it reflects a Disa grace upon our common Reason ; and at last, let him gain as much of it as he can, he will never arrive that Way to the Happiness of an ordinary Beast. For a Boar, or a Monkey, can enjoy more of this Sort of Satisfaction, than e'er a Libertine of 'em all. Epicuri de grege Porci! Phil
. I beseech you, Credentius, not to levere. All we Infidels are not such Hogs as you would make us ; for fome of us are better principled than this comes to. Such Men as you describe are our Hereticks, as I may call them: Tho' they pretend to natural Religion, they have highly corrupted it, and almost destroy'd it. But we orthodox Unbelievers have our Tenets fixed up a founder Bottom, and take nothing up for natural Religion, which is not the Result of right Reasoning, and grounded upon the clear Principles of natural Light : For this is the sole Rule which God has given us to walk by ; not that Men like these Libertines should mistake the Cravings of their irregular Appetites for the Law of Nature, but to govern them by it. For I suppose God to have given us these Appetites not to be Law to our Actions, but as a Subject to excrcise our Obedience to this Law of God or Nature upon; so thar then we are said to act according to the Law of Nature, when we follow those Dictates which every one's unbiassed Reason affords him, even in Oppofition to these irregular Tendencies of our vitiated Appe; tites. This is that noble Rule which alone, if followed, will make a Man wise, and virtuous, and happy. Under the Influence of this Law alone (till the Priests began their Reign) primitive Mankind liv'd golden Ages;
and went to Heaven at last, without Sacrifices and Rea
1. There was always in the World a Rank of Men Priests in who had the Office of the Priesthood annexed to them, all Places of whose Office it was to put up Prayers to the Deity for and all A the People, to offer Sacrifices and the like. That this
ges. Office was entailed upon Primogeniture, as fome maintain from Numb. xviii. 16. Vid. Grot. in Luk. ii. I think is not so certain; but that it belonged, and was constantly practised by the Heads of Families, and Princes of Nations in the earliest Times, is unquestionable. So Noah after the Deluge sacrificed for himself and Family, Gen. viii. 20. The like is recorded of Abraham, and Jacob, and Fob. And so among the Gentiles, in the higheit Ages, the Crown and Priesthood went together; of which, the History of Melchizedek King of Salem is a remarkable Instance in Scripture. And amongst prophane Authors, Virgil tells us the like of Anius King of Delus ; Rex Anius, Rex, idem hominum, Phæbique facerdos.
Virg. Æn. 3.
Upon which Verse Servins has this Note: Sane majorsam hæc erat confuetudo, ut Rex effet etiam facerdos, vel Pontifex : Onde hodieque Imperatores Pontifices dicimus. This was the Custom of the Ancients, that the King