Imatges de pÓgina
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Phil. I beseech you, Sir, don't go to run down the Grounds we build our Assertion upon, without under standing what they are. For there is a great Deal of Reaz son to believe, that the ænigmatical Way of explaining the Nature and Providence of the Deity, gave Occasion to the Heathen Polytheism, and serves very much to apologise for it.

For I look upon the Heathen Zeis, or Jupiter, with the learned Ancients *, to be but the Æther, or that Auid agitated Part of the Universe, which permeates the Pores of all Bodies, and is the Cause of all Motion, Generation, Fermentation, &c. and therefore is well called Jupiter, quafi juvans pater. The Goddess Juno t, or Hn (i. e.) quafi a'epén, is the Air, which warmed, or agitated by the Ælher, is a principal Cause of the Procreation of Animals and Vegetables, and was for that Reason worshiped as the Goddess of Child births, ll Saturnus quasi satur annis, or Keóvos, is said to be the Father of Jupiler, becaule before the World was, Time was. He is said to dethrone his Father because the Creation of the World put a Period to that long unmea, sured Duration. Ceres quası Geres à gerendo, the Goddess of Corn, or anuútne qu. Inimne, or Mother-Earth, is only the Ground, as Neptunus, the Sea, or the same Deity exercising his Providence in all ; or to use St. Austin's Words, who expresses the Meaning of the Ancients well, thus : ipse in athere eft Jupiter, ipse in aere funo, in mari Neptunus, in inferioribus etiam maris ipse Salacia, inz terra Pluto, in terrà inferiore Proferpina, in focis domefticis Vesta, in fabrorum fornace Pulcanus, in (yderibus Sol, Luna,

Stella : In divinantibus Apollo, in merce Mercurius, in Jano Initiator, in termino Terminator, Saturnus in Tempore, Mars & Bellora in Bellis, Liber in vineis, Ceres in frumena tis, Diana in sylvis, Minerva in ingeniis, &c. So that all the ancient Theology and Theogony is only ap Account of the divine Attributes and Providence in an ænigma

* Cic. de Nat. Decr. Lib. 3. Plat. in Timäg. Sallust. de Diis & Mund. Gap.6. + Cic. ib. Plato in Cratyl. ll Cic. ib. Nat. Com. Much. Lib. 2. Cap.2. Aug. Civ. Dei, Lib. 7, Cap. 19. § Civ. Doi. Lib. 4. Cap. }!. Vid. De hac se Var. De Ling. Lat. Lib. *

tical and mythological Manner; and it was only owing to
the mean Capacities of the Vulgar, that they blundered
into Polytheism by it: Just as if when the Scripture men-
tions Wisdom and Religion in the Notion of a Person,
Her Ways are Ways of Pleasantness, &c. an ignorant Chri-.
ftian should take her for a Goddess, and as when St.
Paul preached ingês jazgasarır, Jesus and the Resur-
rection, the Greeks took him for a fetter forth of strange
Gods, Acts xvii. 18. an Introducer of a new God and
Goddess, which the Athenians in all their Theogony had
never heard of, So that at last there was but the same
Deity under Varro's three thousand Names, and the same,
fupreme Jupiter was not more distinct under all these,
than when he was called ipístos, Eirios, aneuvios, or Ju-
piter Capitolinus, or Stator. And this I think is a fair Aca
count of the Rise of the Heathen Polytheism, and the
many superstitious Rites which crept into natural Religia
on upon it.
Cred. I confess

, Philologus, you are not mistaken, that Heathen many of the ancient Philosophers have given this Ac- Polytheism count of the Rise of the Heathen Idolatry which

not the di.

you but then I very much question the Truth of their Al-bitions of

verse Exhit sertion, and the validity of their Arguments, and I think Providence, there are other and better Reasons to be given of the Origin of it. Nor is the Opinion of the Philosophers much to be relied upon ; for they lived long after Polytheism was introduced, and knew as little of its Origin as we do; and besides, they had an Interest to ferve, which was to represent the Folly of the Heathen Polytheism as favourably as they could to Men of Sense; they were (if I may so fay) the Condoms of Paganism, to qualify it

, the better to go down with Men of Thought and Enquiry. Neither is there any Thing in it, for ought I see, but a little Wit and Fancy, of which Plato, who (I think) was the Author of it, had enough; For. Socrates having suffered for an Unitarian, and deriding the Gentile Multitude of Gods, Plata hada Mind to trim the Matter, by this kind of Reconciliation, which

you

have mentioned in hiş Dialogues Timans and Cratylus. And

what

do;

what I pray are all these fine Derivations of the Names of these Deities (which are the principal Part of the Are' gument) but mere sportive Rovings of Fancy, and as {plenetick as making Men and Chariots in the Clouds ? I would undertake, as easily to make these principal Deities to be the four Quarters of the Year, as you have made them the chief Parts of the World ; and I think with as much Veri-fimilitude. Let Juno be the Spring, and the Greek "Hpn 'is nigher He the Spring, than 'Ang the Air. ' Ler-Zços be the fervid hot Summer, Pluto the rich Autumn, and Neptune (or if you will Sæuth) the cold watery Winter. Now if this had come from an old Beard, and a Pallism, and had had but the Prescription of two thousand Years, it would have been lookt upon, perhaps, by many of your Gentlemen, as a rare Comment upon the Heathen Theology. But after all, these fabutous Stories of the Gods are uncapable of allegorising, or having any tolerable mystical Sense put upon them. For what other Senfe besides the literal Meaning can be put upon the Rapes and

Whoredoms of Jupiter, and the other Gods? What mystical Meaning can be put upon Jupi-, per's Rape of Europa, in the Shape of a Bull

, or Danae in a golden Shower? Indeed so far the Story may be unriddled, that Jupiter who committed this Wickedness was a Grecian Prince named Taurus, as * Palaphatus contends, or in a Ship called the Bull as others : That the golden Shower by which he corrupted Danae was by giving her Money, or by bribing her Keepers, But after all, the Story is a lewd Story ftill, and which cannot without Horror be heard to be attributed to the fupreme God of Heaven and Earth. And what good Sense can be put upon those yet lewder Amours of Jupiter and his Boy Ganymede, Apollo and Hyacinthus, Hercules and Hy las? Indeed Plato in his Dialogue de Pulchro, seems as if he had a Mind to interpret this infamous Familiarity of Fapiter with Ganymede into his platonick Love; but in my Mind that very Dialogue lacks Apology its fclf; for

* Palaph. de Incred. de Europa.

a Man finds there so much of the épão and the igaueros,
the Anator and Amafius, with such odd Allutions to that
execrable Vice, that one had need of very virtuous
Thoughts, and a very charitable. Mind to allegorise al
the strange Metaphors of that Discourse into a chastę
Meaning A Man would be hardly put to it, to mora-
life and unriddle all the poetical Banter about Jupiter,
and Mars, and Venus, and Bacchus, &c. and at the same
Time take them for Gods, or only particular Energies of
the divine Providence. For what can one make, besides
some fanciful Remarks, of Saturn's devouring his Chil-
dren; of Jupiter's castrating his Father ; of Řhea the old
Beldam Goddess, her being in Love with Arys, a young
Boy; of the Adultery of Mars and Venus ; of the Ta
tan's Wars, and Vulcan's celestial Forge? Now, who can
ever imagin?, that all this horrid, lewd, and simple Stuff,
was ever designed for practical Divinity, and to teach
Morality to Mankind by representing their Gods fo mean,
so foolish, and so debauched? It remains therefore, that
fome other Account must be given of the Heathen My-
thology, than that of ancient Riddles, and Theology,
and Morality's being delivered under those Umbrages.

Therefore, I suppose, that the Heathen Idolatry and caused by
mythological Divinity was owing to the illiterate Dark, the Dark-
ness of fome Ages, which succeeded after the Flood. nefs of the
* Varro does very well divide Time (at least as far as an ages.
twas known to the Heathens) into the "Admier, or that
obscure Time which was from the beginning of Things
to the first Cataclysm (i. e.) Ogyges's Flood; the second
was the ju. Fixón reaching from the first Cataclysm to the
first Olympiad, called fabulous, because all the poetical
History was transacted in it; and ever since has been the
isegixd, or Time of History, when a true Account of
Matters of FaA hath been given us. Now the Reason
why there was no certain Account of these two former
Stages of Time, was the Want of the Invention of Wri,
ting, or at least the general Use of it, so that all the

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* In Censorin. de Die Nat. Cap. 21.

Accounts

Accounts of former Times could only be deduced and carried down by Tradition ; and what fad Work this would make in History and Theology, every one knows. The People of the several Nations had some general Notions of the Deity; they had heard of Gods freely conyersing with the Patriarchs after the Flood, of the Ministry of Angels, &c. and this they jumbled together with the Stories of their Kings, like a piece of Turkish Chronology. Their Kings, according to the usual Flattery of those Ages, were made Gods; and then the common People who never stood upon the Decency of the Character, ascribed to them all the Actions and Infirmities which belonged to their Manhood, after they were Gods. When they told a Story of former Times in a barbarous Age, it was hardly worth hearing, unless there was something strange and prodigious in it, and it was safe making it as wonderful as one pleased, because there was no standing History to contradict it. From hence no doubt it must come to pass that all our monkish Stories and Romances must be out-done, as the Barbarity of those first Times was greater ; so that all the Stories of Jupiter, and the Centimari, and Pelion and Ossa, Bacchus and Thea feus, Andromede and Medea, &c. were but the first Edition of Giants, enchanted Castles, Knight-Errants and King's Daughters. Therefore it grieves me to see learned Men (Christians especially) abusing their Time and Letters, to fish out philosophical Reasons for all these lying

Fooleries. By deifying 2. It was in great Measure owing to the deifying of of Princes. Princes. For most of those Gods which were worshiped

by the old Heathens, were Kings formerly of the Country where they were adored. It is agreed by all, that the great Alyrian Belus was either Nimrod, or fome other great Prince of that Country: And* Diodorus Siculus relates the same of the Ægyptian Horus, and Ofyris. The Greek Zeus, or Jupiter, was King of Crete, at least he that was commonly worshiped ; as Tully himself is forced tą

* Hift. Stabul. Lib, 1,

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