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be connected with some invisible power ; and the worship paid to the former, is as representing the latter, or as in some manner connected with it. Every family among the ancient Lithuanians, entertained a real serpent as a household god ; and the same practice is at prefent universal among the negroes in the kingdom of Whidah : it is not the serpent that is worshipped, but some deity imagined to reside in it. The ancient Egyptians were not idiots, to pay divine honours to a bull or a cat, as such : the divine honours were paid to a deity, as residing in these animals. The fun is to man a fainiliar object : being frequently ob. fcured by clouds, and totally eclipsed during night, à savage naturally conceives it to be a great fire, sometimes flaming bright, sometimes obscured, and fometimes extinguished. Whence then sun-wor. ship, once universal among savages ? Plainly from the same cause : it is not only properly the sun that is worshipped, but a deity who is supposed to dwell in that luminary.
Taking it then for granted, that our conviction of superior powers has been long universal, the important question is, . From what cause it proceeds. A conviction so universal and so perma. nent, cannot proceed from chance"; but must have a cause operating constantly and invariably upon all men in all ages. Philosophers, who believe the world to be eternal and self-existent, and imagine it to be the only deity though without intelligence, endeavour to account for our conviction of superior power, from the terror that thunder and other elementary convulsions raise in favages ; and thence conclude that such belief is no evidence of a deity. Thus Lucretius,
• Præterea, cui non animus formidine divam Contrahitur? cui non conripunt membra pavore,
Fulminis horribili cum plaga torrida tellus Contremit, et magnum percurrunt murmura. cæ. .lum * (a)?
And Petronius Arbiter,
It will readily be yielded to these gentlemen, that: savages, grossly ignorant of causes and effects, are apt to take fright at every unusual appearance, and to think that some malignant being is the cause. And if they mean only, that the first perception of deity among savages is occasioned by fear, I heartily fubscribe to their opinion. But if they mean,' that such perceptions proceed from fear folely,' without having any other cause, I wish to be informed from what source is derived the belief we have of benevolent deities. Fear cannot be the source: and it will be seen anon, that tho' malevolent deities were first recognized among savages, yet that in the progress of society, the existence of benevolent deities was universally believed. The fact is certain ; and therefore fear is not the sole cause of our believing the existence of superior beings.
It is beside to me evident, that the belief e. ven of analevolent deities, once universal among
all all the tribes of men cannot be accounted for from fear solely, I observę first, That there are many men to whom an eclipse, an earthquake, and even thunder, are unknown: Egypt in parti. cular, tho' the country of superstition, is little or not at all acquainted with the two latter; and in Peru, tho' its government was a theocracy, thun, der is not known. Nor do such appearances strike terror into every one who is acquainted with them. The univerfality of the belief, must then have some cause inore universal than fear. I observe next, That if the belief were founded solely on fear, it would die away gradually as men improve in the knowledge of causes and effects : instruct a savage, that thunder, an eclipse, an carthquake, proceed from natural causes, and are not threatenings of an incensed deity ; his fear of malevolent beings will yanish; and with it his belief in them, if founded solely on fear. Yet the direct contrary is true: in proportion as the human understanding ripens, our conviction of superior powers, or of a Deity, turns more and more firm and authoritative; which will be made evident in the chapter immediately following.
* What man can boast a firm undaunted foul,
That hears unmov'd when thunder shakes the pole ; :
(a) Lib. 5:
And livid clouds first gave the thunder birth,
Philosophers of more enlarged views and of deeper penetration, may be inclined to think that the operations of nature and the goyernment of this world, which loudly proclaim a Deity, may. be sufficient to account for the universal belief of superior powers, And to give due weighę to the argument, I shall relate a conversation between a Greenlander and a Danish missionary, mentioned by Crantz in his history of Green. Jand. - It is true," says the Greenlander, “ we $6 were ignorant Heathens, and knew little of a “ God, till you came. But you must not ima, “ gine, that no Greenlander thinks about these
" things. A kajak (a), with all its tackle and «s implements, cannot exist but by the labour of
man; and one who does not understand it, would spoil it. But the meanest bird requires
more skill than the best kajak ; and no man 66 can make a bird. There is still more skill re
quired to make a man : by whom then was he " made ? He proceeded from his parents, and they 66 from their parents. But some must have been 66 the first parents : whence did they proceed ? " Common report says, that they grew out of the “ earth : if so, why do not 'men itill grow out « of the earth ? And from whence came the " earth itself, the sun, the moon, the stars ? Cer. 66 tainly there must be some being who made all « these things, a being more wise than the wiselt « man.” The reasoning here from effects to their causes, is stated with great precision; and were all men equally penetrating with the Greenlander, such reasoning might perhaps be sufficient to account for the conviction of a Deity, universally spread among favages. But such penetration is a rare quality among favages; and yet the conviction of superior powers is universal, not excepting even the groffest favages, who are altogether incapable of reasoning like our Greenland philosopher. Natural history has made so rapid a progress of late years, and the finger of God is fo visible to us in the various operations of nature, that we do not readily conceive how even savages can be ignorant : but it is a common fallacy in reasoning, to judge of others by what we feel' in ourselves. And to give juster notions of the condition of savages, I take liberty to introduce the Wogultzoi, a people in Siberia, ex. hibiting a striking picture of savages in their natural Itate. That people were baptized at the
to even the of real history
fe) A Greenland boat,
command of Prince Gagarin, governor of the province; and Laurent Lange, in his relation of à journey from Petersburg to Pekin anno 1715, gives the following account of their conversion. co I hadi curiosity," says he, “ to question them “ about their worship before they embraced Chris6. tianity. They said, that they had an idol hung “ upon a tree, before which they prostrated them. “ felves, raising their eyes to heaven, and howling " with a loud voice. They could not explain w what they meant by howling; but only, that 66 every man howled in his own fashion. Being “ interrogated, Whether, in raising their eyes to “ heaven, they knew that a .god is, there, who “ fees all the actions, and even the thoughts of " men; they answered simply, That heaven is « too far above them to know whether a god be " there or not; and that they had no care but " to provide meat and drink. Another question " being put, Whether they had not more fatif< faction in worfhipping the living God, than they " formerly bad in the darkness of idolatry; they sc answered, We fee no great difference, and we
“ do not break our heads about such matters." · Judge how little capable such ignorant favages
are, to reason from effects to their causes, and to trace a Deity from the operations of nature. It may be added with great certainty, that could they be made in any degree to conceive such reasoning, yet so weak and obscure would their conviction be, as to rest there without moving them to any sort of worship; which however among favages goes hand in hand with the conviction of superior powers.
If fear be a cause altogether insufficient for our conviction of a Deity, universal among all tribes; and if reasoning from effects to their causes can have no influence upon ignorant savages; what 1 .