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Such views of Providence banish malevolent deities; and we settle at last in a most comfortable opinion ; either that there are no such beings; or that, if they exist and are permitted to perpetrate any mischief, it is in order to produce greater good Thus, through a long maze of errors, man arrives at true religion, acknowledging but one Being, supreme in power, intelligence, and benevolence, who created all other beings, to whom all other beings are subjected, and who directs every event to answer the best purposes. This system is true theology t.
Having gone through the different stages of religious belief, in its gradual progress toward truth and purity, I proceed to a very important article, The hi
• The Abyffinians think that the afcribing to the devil the wicked acts of which the Portugueze declare him to be guilty, is falling into the error of the Manichecs, who admit two principles, one good, one evil.
+ Pliny seems to relish the doctrine of unity in the Deity; but is at a loss about forming any just conception of him, sometimes considering the world 10 be our only deity, sometimes the fun.
story of tutelar deities. The belief of tutelar deities preceded indeed several of the ftages mentioned, witnefs the tutelar deities of Greece and Rome; but as it is not connected with any one of them exclusive of the rest, the clearness of method required it to be postponed to all of them. This belief, founded on selfishness, made a rapid progress after property in the goods of fortune was established. The Greeks, the Romans, and indeed most nations that were not mere favages, appropriated to themselves tutelar deities, who were under-stood to befriend them upon all occasions; and, in particular, to fight for them a gainst their enemies. The Iliad of Hor mer is full of miraculous battles between the Greeķs and Trojans, the tutelar deities mixing with the contending parties, and partaking of every disaster, death only excepted which immortals could not fuffer. The lares, penates, or householdgods, of Indoftan, of Greece, and of Rome, hcar witness, that every family, perhaps every person, was thought to be under the protection of a tutelar deity. Alexander ab Alexandro gives a list of tu, telar deities, Apollo and Miscrva were
the tutelar deities of Athens; Bacchus and Hercules of the Baotian Thebes Juno of Carthage, Sainos, Sparta, Argos, and Mycené; Venus of Cyprus ; Apollo of Rhodes and of Delphos ; Vulcan of Lemnos; Bacchus of Naxus ; Neptune of Tenedos, &c. The poets testify, that even individuals had tutelar deities :
Mulciber in Trojam, pro Troja ftabat Apollo ;
Æqua Venus Teucris, Pallas iniqua fuit.
Ille tamen Veneris numine tutus erat.
Eripuit patruo fæpe Minerva fuo * (a). Though the North-American savages recognise a supreme Being, wife and benevolent, and also subordinate benevolent beings who are intrusted with the government of the world ; yet as the great distance of these subordinate beings and the full occupation they have in general go
*“ The rage of Vulcan, and the martial maid,
" Pursu'd old Troy; but Phæbus' love repay'd.
(a) Ovid. Tridt. lib. 1. eleg. 2.
vernment, are supposed to make them overlook individuals, every man has a tutelar deity of his own, termed Manitou, who is constantly invoked during war to give him victory over his enemies. The Natches, bordering on the Mislilippi, offer up
the skulls of their enemies to their god, and deposite them in his temple. They consider that being as their tutelar deity who assists them against their enemies, and to whom therefore the skull of an enemy must be an acceptable offering. Tho' they worship the sun, who impartially shines on all mankind ; yet such is their partiality, that they consider themselves as his chosen people, and that their enemies are his enemies.
A belief fo abfurd shows woful imbecillity in human nature. Is it not obvious, that the great God of heaven and earth
governs the world by inflexible laws, from which he never can swerve in any case, because they are the best possible in every cafe? To suppose any family or nation to be an object of his peculiar love, is no less impious, than to suppose any family or nation to be an object of his peculiar hacred: they equally arraign Providence of
partiality. Even the Goths had more just notions of the Deity. Totila, recommending to his people justice and humanity, says, “ Quare fic habete, ea quæ amari ab " hominibus folent ita vobis falva fore, fi
justiciæ reverentiam fervaveritis. Si “ transitis in mores alios, etiam Deum ad “ hoftes tranfiturum. Neque enim ille,
aut omnibus omnino hominibus, aut uni alicui genti, addicit fe focium *.”
That God was once the' tutelar deity of the Jews, is true ; but not in the vulgar acceptation of that term, importing a deity chosen by a people to be their patrón and protector. The orthodox faith is, “ That « God chose the Jews as his peculiar peo
ple, not from any partiality to them, “ but that there might be one nation to
keep alive the knowledge of one supreme
* " Be affured of this, that while ye preserve your reverence for justice, ye will enjoy all the blessings which are estimable among mankind. If
ye refuse to obey her dictates, and your morals “ become corrupted, God himself will abandon
you, and take the part of your enemies. For although the benevolence of that power is not par
tially confined to tribe or people, yet in the eye “ of his justice all men are not equaliy the objects " of his approbation."