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and the People's Mifery, beyond almost a Poffibility of Redress.
LASTLY, As the Heathen Priests facrificed Goats to Bacchus, for browsing his Vines; and Men to Pluto and Proferpine, and other angry Deities, to appease their Wrath, and avert Evils from themselves; fo the Popish Priests. facrifice and devote their Enemies, under the Names of Heretics and Schifmatics, to the infernal Fiend: And as thofe Idolaters were allowed to know when was the most proper Time to make their Sacrifices to their Deities, and what Victims would be most acceptable to them, as being prefumed to understand beft the Minds of their provoked Gods; fo the prefent ones are in Poffeffion of the fole Judgment of what is Herefy, and of facrificing by that means whom they please to their Ambition and Revenge; which equally fubjects the unhappy Laity to them.
THEY have alfo imitated the Heathens in making every human Foible and Imbecillity, as well as every common and uncommon Appearance in Nature, contribute to their Interefts; which fhall be the Subject of my next Paper,
Wednesday, January 11. 1721.
Prieftly Empire founded on the Weakneffes of Human Nature.
HERE is not a living Creature in the Universe, which has not fome innate Weakness, or original Imbecillity, co-eval with its Being; that is, fome Inclinations, or Difgufts, fome peculiar Defires or Fears, which render it an eafy Prey to other Animals, who, from their conftitutional Sagacity or Experience, know how to take Advantage of this Infirmity; of which it would be needlefs, as well as endless, to enumerate Particulars. My Purpose is only to fhew, that all the Dignity of Human Nature, and the Superiority which Almighty God has given to Man above other Beings, has not exempted
him from this Imperfection; which probably was left in his Fabric, to put him in Mind of his Mortality, to humble his Pride, and excite his Diligence.
THE peculiar Foible of Mankind is Superftition, or an intrinfic and panic Fear of Beings invisible and unknown. It is obvious to every one, that there must be Caufes in Nature for all the Good or Evil which does, or ever can, happen to us; and it is impoffible for any Man fo far to diveft himself of all Concern for his own Happiness, as not to be solicitous to know what those Caufes are: And fince, for the most part, they are so hidden and out of Sight, that we cannot perceive or difcover them by our own Endeavours, we con clude them to be immaterial, and in their own Nature invifible; and are, for the most part, ready to take their Accounts, who have the Dexterity to make us believe, that they know more of the Matter than we do, and that they will not deceive us.
To this Ignorance and Credulity, joined together, we are beholden for the most grievous Frauds and Impofitions, which ever did, or do yet, opprefs Mankind, and interrupt their Happinefs; namely, for the Revelations and Vifions of Enthufiafts, for all the forged Religions
in the World, and the Abuses and Corruptions of the true one; as well as all the idle and fantastical Stories of Conjurers and Witches, of Spirits, Apparitions, Fairies, Demons, and Hobgoblins, Fortune-tellers, Aftrologers, and the Belief in Dreams, Portents, Omens, Prognoftics, and the feveral Sorts of Divinations; all which, more or less, disturb the greatest Part of the World, and have made them the Dupes and Property of Knaves and Impoftors in all Ages.
EVERY thing in the Universe is in conftant Motion, and where-ever we move, we are furrounded with Bodies, every one of which muft, in a certain Degree, operate upon themselves and us; and it cannot be otherwise, but in the Variety of Actions and Events, which happen in all Nature, that fome must appear very extraordinary to those who know not their true Causes. Men naturally admire what they cannot apprehend, and feem to do fome fort of Credit to their Understandings, in believing whatever is out of their Reach to be fupernatural.
FROM hence perpetual Advantages have been given to, and Occafions taken by, the Heathen and Popish Priests, to circumvent and opprefs the credulous and unwary Vulgar.
What fraudulent Ufes have been made of Eclipfes, Meteors, epidemical Plagues, Inundations, great Thunder and Lightnings, and other amazing Prodigies, and feeming Menaces of Nature? What juggling Tricks have been, or may be, acted with Glaffes, Speaking Trumpets, Ventriloquies, Echoes, Phofphorus, Magic-Lanterns, &c. in the ignorant Parts of the World? The Americans were made to believe, that Paper and Letters were Spirits, which conveyed Mens Thoughts from one to another; and a dancing Mare was, not many Years fince, burnt for a Witch in the Inquifition in Portugal.
NATURE. Works by a thoufand Ways imperceptible to us: The Loadstone draws Iron to it; Gold, Quickfilver; the fenfitive Plant fhrinks from the Touch; fome Sorts of Vegetables attract one another, and twine together; others grow farther apart; the treading upon the Torpedo affects, and gives raging Pains to, our whole Bodies; Turkey-cocks and Pheafants fly at a red Rag; a Rattle-fnake, by a fort of magical Power in his Eyes, as it is faid, will force a Squirrel to run into his Mouth; Mufic will cure the Bite of a Tarantula; the Frights and Longings of Women with Child. will ftamp Impreflions upon the Babes within