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altars afforded no asylum for criminals, which those of the heathens constantly did.
10. I now proceed to observe that, whereas much of the attention of the heathen nations was taken up with the superstitious practice of divination, in a great variety of forms, with witchcraft and necromancy; these being efsential parts of their religion, and more studied than any other (so that at Rome to despise the established auguries would have been reckoned the extreme of profaneness), the Hebrews of all the ancient nations were entirely exempt from this wretched superstition, the offspring of the most extreme ignorance, though they knew no more of philosophy, or the true causes of events, than other people. Every branch of this superstition was strictly forbidden to the Israelites, as well as things of greater enormity. Lev. xix. 26, “ Neither shall ye use enchantments, nor ob6 serve times.” Deut. xviii. 10, “ There 6 shall not be found among you any one that “ maketh his son or his daughter to pass 6 through the fire, or that useth divination, “ or an observer of times, of an enchanter, or ha witch, or a charmer, of a consulter with “ familar spirits, or a wizard, or a necro
mancer. · For all that do these things are
an abomination unto the Lord, and becaufe “ of these abominations the Lord thy God “ doth drive them out from before thee. “ Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy “ God. For these nations which thou shalt “ possess hearkened unto observers of times, “ and unto diviners; but as for thee, the Lord
thy God hath not suffered thee so to do." Is this any mark of the detestable superstition with which Voltaire charges the religion of the Jews ? On the contrary, it is such good sense as we in vain look for in the religions of other nations that this writer represents as in all respects their superior.
Considering the very strong hold that these opinions and practices still have on the minds of men (for to this day many Christians, and even many unbelievers in Christianity, have great faith in charms, and other things of a fimilar nature relating to good or bad fortune, as insignificant as the sailors whistling for a wind), there is not a clearer and more unequivocal mark of superior, of divine wisdom, than the contempt that is fo Atrongly expressed for every thing of this kind in the books of
Mofes, especially considering the times in which they were written.
11. The heathens had many superftitious rules with respect to sacrifices. Thus hogs were sacrificed to Ceres, an owl to Minerva, a hawk to Apollo, a dog to Hecate, an eagle to Jupiter, a horse to the sun, à cock to Æsculapius, a goose to Isis, and a goat to Bacchus. The Zabians sacrificed to the sun seven bats, seven mice, and seven other reptiles. The Egyptians were so far from facrificing horned cattle, that they worshipped them, as also the ram. The Hebrews alone kept to the natural and rational idea of facrifices, which was to confine them to things most proper for the food of
for the food of man, in order to express their gratitude to God, as the giver of it, and, as it were, to be the guests at his table.
That sacrifices, though not required of Christians, was a natural mode of worship, cannot be denied, because they were universal, and are used by all heathen nations to this day. No philosopher, in the most enlightened period of the heathen world, ever objected to them.
The heathens were used to reserve some of the flesh of the animals they sacrificed for superstitious uses, as the Christians, when superftition crept in among them, did of the confecrated bread in the eucharift. For the Christians derived all their superstitious practices from the heathens. When the Mahometans facrifice a sheep, as they always do, on their pilgrimage to Mecca, they dry a great part of the flesh, which by this means may be kept two years, and make presents of it to their friends at their return. This was probably an ancient idolatrous custom, which Mahomet kept up. But to prevent every superstitious use of sacrifices, the Hebrews were directed to keep nothing of theirs till the next day; and no fleth of the paschal lamb was to be carried out of the house in which it was eaten. They were also strictly forbidden to eat any part of it raw, Exod. xii. 9, which has been observed to have been a superstitious and indecent custom with the Egyptians and others.
12. Some part of the first fruits of their harvests were reserved by the heathens for magical purposes. On the contrary, the Ilraelites were directed, when they presented
to the folemn mourning in the festival of Isis), “ neither have I taken away ought thereof " for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof “ for the dead” (that is, for idolatrous purposes), “ but I have hearkened to the voice “ of the Lord my God, and have done ac6 cording to all that thou hast commanded “ me. Look down from thy holy habitation, * from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, " and the land which thou hast given us, as " thou fwarest unto our fathers, a land that “ floweth with milk and honey." Here certainly is piety and good sense, and nothing of that detestable superftition which Voltaireafcribes to this ancient people.
13. The rules laid down in the books of Moses for the diet of the Israelites, permitting the use of some kinds of food, and prohibiting others, will, no doubt, be deemed superstition by some persons. But if the particulars be considered, it will be found that the Israel. ites were confined to that food which was the most wholesome, and best suited to the climate they were destined to inhabit. On the contrary, there was real and mere superstition in the restrictions that many of the heathens laid themselves under in this respect,