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been contented to worship the most abject Beings in Nature; and indeed, nothing feems to have been too abfurd and ridiculous for them to believe and practife, under the Direction of any Men, who had Confidence enough to take upon them to be spiritual Guides of the People. It was ever fufficient to pretend to teach Religion, to make any thing to be received as Religion.
Th' Egyptians worshipp'd Dogs, and for
NOR is this Difpofition at all abated in the World. The Pagan Part is much the fame: And many Chriftians are more prone, if poffible, to Absurdity and Foily, than the Pagans. The Popish, Greek, and feveral other Chriftian Sects, worship a Breaden God; and, befides o her numerous Abfurdities and Follies, exceed VOL. II. E
them in that grand one of all, of delivering up their Perfons, Eftates, and Confciences, to the Prieft; and of hating, damning, perfecuting, and burning one another, and all who have any Difference in Opinion with them, as he inspires them: In all which they outgo both the antient and modern Pagans, who have generally given Toleration to Men of different Religions from themselves, and have in no Place gone those Lengths in Perfecution, which fome Chriftians (or rather fome Perfons pretending to be Chriftians) have done.
As a farther Proof, that Religion is natural to Man, I observe, that no History informs us, that ever Atheism (by which I understand, a direct Denial of the Existence of a Deity, a Providence, and Worship) was able to introduce itself among the People of any Country whatsoever,
RELIGION is not only natural to Man, but efteemed neceffary to Government by Princes and States, who, whether they themfelves have believed any Religion or no, have eftablished Forms of Religion, and been willing, that their Subjects should obey them, and defend their Country, upon a Principle of Religion, as knowing its powerful Operation on the Minds of Men.
AND befides, Religion has a great Support from Priefts or Divines, who are very numerous every-where, and have a Zeal for every Form which they profefs, equal to the Intereft which they derive from it: And if the Interest of one Form runs low, many of them can change their Party, and become zealous for another Religion; as they did three times in the Compass of five Years in England, in the Reigns of Edward the Sixth, Mary, and Elizabeth; the non-complying Clergy never amounting to Two hundred under any of those Changes.
GREAT Complaints indeed have been and are daily made in relation to the mighty Growth of Atheism. But those Complaints feem to me, for the most part, if not altogether, groundless, and to be generally Calumnies of High-Church Priefts, and High-Church Men, upon the best Chriftians, namely, fuch who profefs themselves ready to fubmit to the Authority of Jesus Christ, but refuse Submiffion to any Priests, whether they be Greek, Muscovite, Roman, Dutch, Scotch or English.
THERE is not, therefore, and cannot be, any Danger of the Overthrow of Religion, as long as Men continue Men; Religion will neceffarily prevail among us, and every- where F 2 elfe,
else, in Virtue of Mens general Difpofition to Religion, either under one or several Forms, according as the Civil Magistrates of the World are more or lefs perfuaded, that they themselves are to dictate (or to dictate after a Prieft) Religion to their Subjects.
THE noify Outcry therefore of the Danger of Religion from Atheism or Irreligion, is a mere Chimera of the High Priests; which, in all Likelihood, they start, to put Men on a false Scent, and to disguise and carry on their own Defigns of Power and Wealth: For while People are alarmed with the Fears of Atheism, they are difpofed to fall into all the pretended. Measures of the Priest to suppress it, and to become zealous for him, who never fails to make ufe of the Panic or Madness of the People (which is his Opportunity) to establish Doctrines and Practices for his own Advantage; which at his Suggestion they falfly suppose to be most oppofite to Atheism, and to be the best Means to fuppress it.
BUT the constant Danger, and the great and only Concern which we ought to have, is, left under the Colour and Name of Religion, or the Worship of God, we have not only Falfhood and Superftition put upon us, but the moft deteftable and wicked Practices introduced;