Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY I: Of the City, or Kingdom, of God in the Rational World, and the Defects in Heathen Deism - A Treatise of the Laws of Nature
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ESSAY I: Of the City, or Kingdom, of God in the Rational World, and the Defects in Heathen Deism - Richard Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature 
A Treatise of the Laws of Nature, translated, with Introduction and Appendix, by John Maxwell (1727), edited and with a Foreword by Jon Parkin (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005).
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Of the City, or Kingdom, of God in the Rational World, and the Defects in Heathen Deism
Man consider’d in his various Capacities.“Know thy-self,” was certainly the Wisest of the Sayings of the seven Wise-Men of Greece; that Knowledge being the greatest Wisdom, as being the only Method, by which we are enabled to discharge those Duties and Obligations we lie under, and to obtain Happiness.
Man is consider’d, in a double Capacity, Natural and Political.
Man, in his natural Capacity, is compos’d of two Parts, Body and Mind.
His Body is consider’d, by the Anatomist, as it is an Organiz’d Body; and by the Physician, and Surgeon, as it is a Body liable to Distempers, that may be prevented, or remedied.
The Natural Philosopher, commonly so call’d, considers the Nature of the human Mind, and of its Faculties; of which the two Principal are the Understanding and the Will, the Object of the former being Truth; and of the latter, Good. Logick conducts our Understanding in the Search after, and Delivery of, Truth.1Morality and Religion conduct our Will in the Pursuit of Good.
Man Political is consider’d, as a Member of Society.
The Societies are various, of which a Man may at the same Time be a Member, who may, therefore, be considered in as many various Political Lights.
Oeconomics regulate his Conduct, as Member of a Family; the Laws of his Country, as Member of the Common-Wealth; the Laws of Nature, as he is a Member of Human Society; and Religion, as he is a Member of a holy Society of rational Agents, with God at their Head, which constitute what we call a Church.
The Denyers of Providence, Atheists.§II. Whoever does not consider himself, as Member of a Society, at whose Head God is, seems to me, to be truly an Atheist. For, whoever pretends to acknowledge a God, or universal Mind, considering him only Naturally, as the Soul of the World, and not Politically, as the supreme Governor there of, and so not acknowledging a Providence, (a particular Providence, for, without that, a general Providence is an unintelligible Notion;) as he cannot prove the Being of such a God, so neither does the Acknowledging him influence our Conduct, or answer any valuable Purpose in Life. If God were the Soul of the World, and not its supreme Governor, it would be impossible for us to prove his Being, which we can discover, only from the Effects of his Wisdom, Power, and Goodness, in Forming and Governing the World. If you take away these, you may as well call him by the empty Names of Chance, or Fate, or Nature, or any Thing else, as well as God: Nor could the Acknowledgment of such a God influence our Conduct, any more than the Gods of Epicurus did his.
Future Rewards, and Punishments, prov’d.§III. Now every Wise, Good, and Powerful Governor, must be a Law-Giver; for, without Laws, there is no Government: Such a Law-Giver must therefore have promulg’d his Laws, which God has done by Reason only, to those, to whom he has not afforded Revelation; and they can oblige no farther, than they have been promulg’d. Such a Law-Giver must also have fenc’d his Laws, with the Sanction of sufficient Rewards and Punishments, otherwise his Laws were in vain; but a wise Being does nothing in vain. Right Reason, from Experience, pronounces, “That the Rewards, and Punishments, naturally connected with the Observance, or Non-Observance, of the Laws of Nature, are not a sufficient Sanction.” Human Wisdom has, therefore, every where guarded such of the Laws of Nature as could properly fall within their Cognizance, with the additional Sanction of positive Rewards, and Punishments; which, however, tho’ they pretty well support Civil Society, are by no Means a sufficient Fence to the Law of Nature, and that upon several Accounts, 1. Many of the Laws of Nature are of such a Kind, as not properly to fall within the Design of human Laws, such as those, which enjoyn Gratitude, Veracity, in many Cases, Temperance, Liberality, Courtesy, &c.2. Other Crimes, of which human Laws can take Notice, are sometimes committed so secretly, as to escape the Knowledge of those, who should put the Laws in Execution. 3. Others, sometimes, escape unpunish’d, for want of a sufficient Power to enforce the Laws; the Crimes of some being of such a Kind, as, in their own Nature, tend to enable the Criminal to trample upon the Power of the Laws, as the unjust Acquisition of Arbitrary Power. 4. Human Wisdom cannot proportion Punishments to Crimes, because that depends upon such a through Knowledge, both of Things and Circumstances, as none but God has; the Pillory, being a far greater Punishment to some, than the Gallows is to others. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the supreme Law-Giver, and Governor of the World, as he would effectually Vindicate the Honour of his Laws, and promote the publick Happiness, to let no Crime pass unpunish’d; but that a super-added Punishment should await Criminals after this Life, of what Kind soever these Punishments may be; whether such as are naturally Connected with evil Habits, and the evil Company of the Wicked, with one another, or by the farther Addition of Punishments positively inflicted, as the Nature of the Case and of Things requires. All Crimes fall properly within his Cognizance; no Privacy excludes him; no Power can resist him; no Prejudice can byass him; and he, and he only, knows how to proportion Punishments to the Crimes, and to the Nature of the Sufferer, and to what the greatest Good of the Whole requires, which seems to be the Measure of the Intensenes sand Duration of Punishments.
If it be objected, “That future Rewards and Punishments, super-added to those of this Life, are not sufficient, if by the Word [Sufficient] be meant, what fully prevents the Transgression of the Law, in all the Members of the Society. But that if by [Sufficient] be meant, that which renders the Observance of the Law more eligible, than the Breach, to a well-inform’d Mind; the natural Consequences of Action, without any future Rewards, or Punishments, super-added, are, in this Sense, Sufficient.” I answer, “That, according to this Reasoning, all civil Sanctions, super-added to those of Nature, would be unnecessary, Minds well-inform’d not needing such Motives, and wicked Men, not being restrain’d by these Sanctions super-added to those of Nature; yet we see, that Civil Laws and Sanctions, are of great Use, notwithstanding the Appearance of this Reasoning to the contrary, many being mov’d by both Sanctions, that would not be mov’d by one only, as also others by the treble Sanction of natural Rewards and Punishments, positive Rewards and Punishments, inflicted by Men, and by the super-added Rewards and Punishments of another Life, who would not be influenc’d by the former Two.”
Without such a State of future Rewards and Punishments, no End can be assign’d, why such a Maker and Governor of the World should have placed us here, such as we are. Upon that Supposition, the Shortness and Uncertainty of human Life is unaccountable, and our Reason is often a disadvantage; the Bulk of Mankind losing Life, before they come to the full and true Exercise of their Reason; and when we do, to what purpose is this Mind possess’d of it, and of so many exalted and capacious Faculties, but, “like the Soul of a Swine,” (as our Author well observes,) “in-stead of Salt to preserve the Body from Putrefaction”;2 which, without that Reason, and those Faculties, it might support much longer than it does; several Brutes, without them, living longer than Man, and many Vegetables, without even a Sensitive Soul, much more without a Rational One, longer than either. Could such a Creator and Governor of the World, have given us Reason and Reflexion, with unbounded Prospects and Desires, with respect to Futurity and Eternity, with Anxieties and Doubts from thence arising innumerable, at the End of a short Farce to shut up the Scene in Death? A Farce, where the Wicked often thrive by their Vice, and the Good suffer, even on account of their Virtue. And Wisdom, united with Goodness, would rather have so ordered it, that we should neither have fear’d to die, nor desir’d to live beyond the Time appointed by Nature, as it is with the Beasts of the Field, often the Happier of the Two, if that were the Case, neither knowing, nor caring, whence they come, or whither they go. The many and grievous Calamities, (beyond what the Brutes are subject to,) lengthen’d out by the Memory of what is past, and the Fears of what is to come, can fairly be accounted for, if this Life be a State of Probation, and there be a Retribution afterwards, otherwise not, under the Conduct of a Wise and Good Governor of the World, and he would have made us satisfy’d with, and acquiesce under, our present Lot, whatever it were, like the Brute Creation, who when they suffer, do not redouble the Force of it by Reflexion; and if we were like them in the one Circumstance, why not in the other so? Why were we so made, that the Remembrance of certain past Actions creates in us Grief, Fear, and Horror, from which neither the Tyrant, nor the Polititian, can free himself, if our Maker had not design’d us for accountable Creatures, in giving us such an Idea of Guilt, and Punishment, even for the most secret Crimes?
But I would not be mis-understood here, as if I thought, “That human Affairs were so disorderly, as not clearly to shew plain Marks of a governing Providence.” To say, “That the present moral Appearances are all regular and good,” is false. But, “That there is no moral Order visible in the Constitution of Nature,” is equally false. The Truth seems this, “Moral Order is prevalent in Nature; Virtue is constituted, at present, the supreme Happiness, and the Virtuous generally have the happiest Share of Life.” The few Disorders, which are exceptions to this general Proposition, are probably left to us as Evidences, or Arguments, for a future State. This Argument has been finely touch’d upon by Lord Shaftsbury, in his Rhapsody, thus. “If Virtue be to it-self no small Reward, and Vice, in a great Measure, its own Punishment, we have a solid Ground to go upon. The plain Foundations of a distributive Justice, and due Order in this World, may lead us to conceive a further Building. We apprehend a larger Scheme, and easily resolve ourselves, why Things were not compleated in this State; but their Accomplishments reserv’d rather to some further Period. For, had the Good and Virtuous of Mankind been wholly prosperous in this Life; had Goodness never met with Opposition, nor Merit ever lain under a Cloud; where had been the Trial, Victory, or Crown of Virtue? Where had the Virtues had their Theater, or whence their Names? Where had been Temperance, or Self-denial? Where Patience, Meekness, Magnanimity? Whence have these their Being? What Merit, except from Hardship? What Virtue without a Conflict, and the Encounter of such Enemies as arise both within, and from abroad?
“But as many as are the Difficulties which Virtue has to encounter in this World, her Force is yet superior. Expos’d as she is here, she is not however abandon’d, or left miserable. She has enough to raise her above Pity, tho’ not above our Wishes: And as happy as we see her here, we have room for further Hopes in her behalf. Her present Portion is sufficient to shew Providence already ingag’d on her side. And since there is such Provision for her here, such Happiness, and such Advantages, even in this Life; how probable must it appear, that this providential Care is yet extended further to a succeeding Life and perfected Hereafter?”3
Antient, Current, and Famous, were the Notices in Paganism, touching the Soul’s Immortality, the Rewards and Punishments of another Life, touching Hades, Elysium, the Isles of the Blessed, Orcus, Erebus, Tartarus, Mercury the Soul-Carrier, the Judges of Hell, which the Stoicks laugh’d at, as vulgar Errors, because they were the Doctrines of vulgar Paganism. But without them Natural Religion would be but Matter of Ridicule. And, accordingly, it is an Article of natural Religion, which is antecedent to any Institution of Paganism, Judaism, or Christianity. And the Christian Doctrine, touching the Rewards and Punishments of a future Life, is so con-natural to the Mind of Man, (which hath the Conscience of Good and Evil,) so agreeable to his Reason, and his Notions of a God and Providence, that it has met with a general Reception, and Approbation. Agreeably to these Sentiments, the generality of Pagan Religionists stiled the Soul Divine, of Kin to the Gods, a Part and Particle of God, deducing it from Heaven, and reducing it thither again, worshipping their Heroes and Benefactors. All which imply’d, that their Religion had this generous Sentiment in it, which Cicero (de Leg. 2.) accounteth one of its Principles, “That Virtue and Piety are Things which raise Men unto Heaven.”4 The Egyptians are particularly fam’d for their Doctrine of the Soul’s Immortality, and the Rewards of the Pious in another Life, as is most conspicuous, from a Funeral Rite of theirs recorded by Porphyry, and which deserveth to be everlastingly remember’d. When they embalm’d one of their Nobles, they took out the Belly, (which it is hence plain, they did not make a God of,) and put it into a Chest, which they held up to the Sun, one of the Embalmers making this Oration for the Dead Man. Porphyry de abst. L. 4. §. 10
“O LORD the Sun, and all ye Gods that give Life to Men, receive me, and transmit me into Consortship with the eternal Gods; for so long as I liv’d in the World, I piously worshipp’d the Gods, whom my Parents shewed me; those that generated my Body I always honoured; I neither kill’d any Man, nor defrauded any of what was committed to my Trust; nor have I done any Thing else of an atrocious Nature. If, in my Life-Time, I committed any Offence in Eating and Drinking what was not Lawful, the Offence was not done by my-self, but by those,” pointing at, or shewing, the Chest, wherein the Belly was. And having so said, he threw it into the River. The Rest of the Body was embalm’d apart, as Pure.5
The Immortality of the Soul, agreeable to the Notions we naturally Form of the Deity.§IV. It is evident, that his making us capable of Happiness, was the Effect of his Goodness. It will therefore, from thence, and from the Immutability of his Nature, necessarily follow, “That he, who will’d us once into Being, will always Will the Continuance of our Being, and that too in a happy State, except where the Vindication of the Honour of his Laws, and the Common Good requires the contrary.”
It is the Will of God, that we should practise Religion.§V. God, the Author of Nature, has imprinted Characters of his independent Power, Wisdom, Goodness, Providence, & c. upon his Works; he has given us Reason, by which we cannot but discover, if we attend, these his Attributes, and the Relation we bear to him. It is, therefore, his Will, that we should know, and, knowing, acknowledge these his Perfections, and the Relation He and We, his dependent Creatures, bear to one another; that is, that we should pursue and promote, to our Power, those beneficent Ends, which he had in creating us, and other Beings like our-selves, capable of Happiness, and give him the Honour due to him, that is, that we should practise Virtue and Religion, which are, therefore, his Laws to us.
A View of the Pagan System of the Rational World.II. Let us, in the next Place, consider the several Parts of that Society of Rational Agents, of which God is at the Head; first, according to the Notion of the Pagans, and next, according to the Idea we have of it, by Revelation, and the Scriptures; for Truth, and Error, like all other Opposites, will best illustrate each other. For we can no otherwise come to the Knowledge of our-selves, in the political Sense, of our Duty, and the Obligations we lie under, without considering the Relation we stand in to the Kingdom of God, that great and holy Society, of which we are a Part; and to any other Society, if such there be, with which we may have to do; for it is impossible, to understand a Duty which is Relative, without first understanding the Terms of the Relation, (to make use of a Logical Expression.) To begin then with the Pagan System.
In which they consider’d, 1. One intellectual Head of the Universe.The Heathen Philosophers, who acknowledg’d a Deity, acknowledg’d but one single intellectual Head of the Universe, (whom they call’d Jupiter, Zeus, Baal, &c.) and but one Universe; not such a One as the Epicureans imagin’d, who incoherently talk’d of infinite incoherent Worlds in infinite Space, but one total universal System, made up of several coherent subordinate Systems.
This one Universe is capable of being consider’d Politically and Naturally: Politically, the Heathens consider’d it as a Universe of Rational Agents.
Whom they suppos’d also the Soul of the World.The Universe was Politically considered by the Heathen Theologers; for they suppos’d it to be a Political System, or Monarchy, having the foremention’d intellectual Head presiding in and over it. But they consider’d it also Naturally, supposing it to be an Animated System, or Mundan Animal, with the foremention’d intellectual Head, as the Soul thereof; yet so, as to be also the imperial Head of the Monarchy of the Universe.
Representing the Universe of rational Agents as but one political System, which is a fundamental Mistake.§II. The Heathen Theologers, who do not acknowledge any such Society as the Church of God, represented the Universe of Rational Agents, as but one Political System, which is their prime fundamental Mistake. For, in this Scheme, God and the Creature are not sufficiently distinguish’d, but criminally confounded by deifying Creatures. The Kingdoms of Good and Bad Angels (or Demons) are not distinguish’d. The Church and the World are not distinguish’d, but confounded, or rather, the Church is shut out of Being, for which there is no Place in the Heathen System. Heaven, Earth, and Hell, are not duly distinguish’d, but confounded into one Political Society, under one Monarch; and they are suppos’d, as friendly conspiring together, whence they thought themselves secure from any Disaster after Death. And, because they thought themselves by Nature, the Citizens of God’s Kingdom already, they could not be prevail’d with, to enter into the real Kingdom of God, when the Gospel was preach’d, which they oppos’d, as opposite to their System. Upon this fundamental Error, was grounded their whole Morality; and upon this Notion, That they were Fellow-Citizens with the Gods, their Practice was, doubtless, grounded of making new Gods, as it were by a right of Suffrage in Heaven it-self.
§III. Some Christian Writers have, in great Measure, adopted these Sentiments, not discerning the Difference between a Holy Divine Republick, and a Heathen Mundan System, heedlesly entertaining false Notions of the State of the Universe, and speaking the Language of Heathen Philosophers, which is irreconcileable with the Jewish, and Christian Religion.
The Worshippers of the true God indeed are, in a large Sense, Citizens of this lower World; they have a Duty to discharge as such, and must not fail of a dutiful and virtuous Correspondence with Nature, and common Providence; but the proper Design, and Effect of God’s reveal’d Laws, was not to instate men Citizens of the World at large, nor was it the proper Law of that Estate of Life, nor was it the Law of Nature governing all Things as such, but it was the Law of that King, who governeth all Things as Law-Giver of his Church.
From which our Author is not free.The foregoing Language of the Heathen Philosophers, our Author usually speaketh, “The most ample Society of all rational Agents, the City of God. The System of all rational Agents, or the whole natural City of God. The whole Aggregate of rational Beings, or the whole City, the Head where of is God. The System of all rational Agents, the Kingdom of God. God, the Head and Father of all rational Beings, and other rational Agents, as his Sons. All men, altho’ they are not under the same human imperial Power, yet are in the most ample City of God. In the City of God, or in the Universe, they are Subjects, that in a human City are Supreme. This Law of Nature, Care of the publick Good, is the natural Law, uniting all rational Beings. The Summary of the Laws of rational Nature, or of the City of God, which is the Aggregate of Mankind, subordinate to God the Rector, his City constituted by the Nature of it. The whole System of rational Beings, that City, the Head of which is God; the Members, all his Subjects.”6 Such Christian Doctrines, in their Scheme, agree with the Heathens, in making the Universe of rational Agents a Kingdom; in making it one Kingdom; in making common Reason, which directeth to common Good, to be the common Law, which uniteth the Universe of rational Agents into one Kingdom; and in making degenerate Mankind to be by Nature, in the State of Society with God, the Citizens of the City of God, and the Subjects of his Kingdom. But in these Respects they differ. The Heathens deify’d subordinate rational Agents, which these Christian Divines do not; as the Heathens were much more Curious than the Christians, in distinguishing several Orders in their Kingdom of rational Beings, which they generally divided into 6 Classes.
The Heathens divided their system of rational Agents into 6 Classes, 1. The supreme God. 2. Subordinate Gods Invisible. 3. Visible. 4. Demons. 5. Heroes. 6. Men. The Word God, taken by the Heathens in a larger, and more refrained Sense.§IV. 1. The supreme God. 2. Subordinate Gods Invisible. 3. Visible, such as the 12 Dij majorum Gentium, namely, the 7 Planets, the 4 Elements, and the Earth, and such like. 4. Demons. 5. Heroes, or Souls of illustrious Men deify’d. 6. Men.
In a large Sense they call’d every Thing Superior to Man, a God, as in Ovid, “Deus & melior Natura,” are the same; and Cicero argueth, “There is something Superior to Man, therefore there is a God.”7 But in their classing, or distinguishing, the System of rational Agents, they took the Word God in a restrain’d Sense.
§V. These several Orders of rational Beings, the Heroes only excepted, belong to the original Constitution of the Universe, in the Heathen Scheme. The middle Order of Demons does not proceed from any fall of Angels, as Revelation informs us, but is suppos’d originally necessary to the Polity of the Universe. 1. That all the Regions of the Universe may be replenished with proper Animals, and rational Inhabitants. 2. That there may be due Order amongst rational Agents, which requires some First, some Last, and some Middle, according to the usual Method of Nature, which gradually ascends. 3. That the Gods might not be polluted, as it were, nor descend beneath their Majesty, in managing human Affairs by themselves.Of the Order of Demons. 4. For the Management of the Affairs of their Religion and Virtue, and rendering their Souls more Happy, presiding over Oracles, and managing the Affairs of Prophecy and Divination. Hence that Prayer in the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, as they are call’d.
“Jupiter Father, either do thou thy-self loose all Men from those manifold Evils, or shew them all what Demon is to be made use of for that Purpose.”8 5. For carrying on an Intercourse between Gods and Men, and to be Mediators between them. 6. To manage (in subserviency to the Gods) Nature, Providence, and human Affairs.
The Universe of rational Agents, being thus united into one friendly and harmonious System, constitutes one Monarchy thereof, which is a fundamental Pagan Mistake.
Of Demons Good and Evil, and a Good and Evil Principle.III. These Demons, the Heathens distributed into Good and Evil, (call’d Vejoves.) the former worshipp’d in hopes of their Help, the latter, lest they should Hurt. At the Head of the Good Demons, some set a Good Principle, at the Head of the Evil, an Evil. This Doctrine was embrac’d by the antient Persians, of which Prideaux giveth the following Account. “Zoroastres did not found a new Religion, but only took upon him to revive and reform an old one, that of the Magians, which had been, for many Ages past,The Doctrine of the Magi reform’d by Zoroastres. the antient national Religion of the Medes as well as of the Persians.—The chief Reformation which he made in the Magian Religion, was in the first Principle of it. For, whereas before they held the Being of two first Causes, the First, Light, or the good God, who was the Author of all Good; and the other, Darkness, or the evil God, who was the Author of all Evil; and that of the Mixture of these two, as they were in a continual Struggle with each other, all Things were made; he introduc’d a Principle superior to them both, one supreme God, who created both Light and Darkness, and out of these two, according to the alone Pleasure of his own Will, made all Things else that are.——But to avoid making God the Author of Evil, his Doctrine was, that God originally and directly created only Light, or Good, and that Darkness, or Evil, follow’d it by Consequence, as the Shadow doth the Person; that Light, or Good, hath only a real Production from God, and the other afterwards resulted from it, as the Defect thereof. ——That, in the Struggle between them, where the Angel of Light prevails, there the most is Good, and where the Angel of Darkness prevails, there the most is Evil: That this Struggle shall continue to the End of the World: That there shall be a general Resurrection, and a Day of Judgment, wherein just Retribution shall be rendered to all, according to their Works. After which the Angel of Darkness, and his Disciples, shall go into a World of their own, where they shall receive the Punishments of their evil Deeds. And the Angel of Light, and his Disciples, shall go into a World of their own, where theyshall receive, in everlasting Light, the Reward due unto their good Deeds; and that after this they shall remain separated for ever, and Light, and Darkness, be no more annex’d together to all Eternity. And all this, the Remainder of that Sect, which is in India and Persia, do, without any variation, after so many Ages, still hold even to this Day,”9 as is affirm’d by Ovington, in his Travels, Lord in his Discovery of the Sects of the Banians, and Persees, and other Travellers.10 The good Principle they call’d Oromasdes, the evil Principle, Arimanius; to both which Zoroastres taught them to Sacrifice, as Plutarch relates.11 This Doctrine of two Principles was introduc’d, in order to account for the Evil observ’d in the World, and as it stood before Zoroastres reform’d it as above, was the most evident Ditheism, or acknowledgment of two supreme co-ordinate independent Deities, that ever was, or that can be imagin’d; in whom there was not so much as an Unity of Will, their Wills being always in direct Opposition to one another. Upon this Occasion, I cannot but take Notice of a remarkable Passage, in A Discourse of the GroundsA mistake of the Author of the Grounds, &c. corrected.and Reasons of the Christian Religion, P. 139, 140. “It is to be observ’d, that the Jews, who were greatly departed from the Law of Moses, and especially from the Doctrine of the Unity of God, went Idolaters into Captivity; that they went into Chaldea, a Country, where one God had from remote Antiquity been believ’d and worshipp’d; that the religious Books of that Nation give a Relation of Matters from the Creation to the Time of Abraham, so little different from that contain’d in the Pentateuch, that one of the Accounts must, in all probability, be borrow’d from the other. That particular Care was taken among the Chaldees, to instruct the Jewish Youths of Quality and Parts, in the Chaldean Discipline and Learning; that the Jews came out at different Times from Chaldea, such firm Believers and Worshippers of one God, and that under the high Patronage and Protection of the Kings of Chaldea, ordaining such Belief and Worship among them, that they have continu’d in that Belief and Worship ever since; that it seems more Natural for a Body of Slaves and Captives to be form’d by their Masters and Conquerors, than that the Conquerors should be form’d by them; and that the Slave should rather receive Histories, and Antiquities, from the Master, than the Master from the Slave; that, particularly, it seems improbable, that the Jews, who chang’d their own idolatrous Notions and Practices for those of the Chaldeans, should have so much Credit with the Chaldeans, as to introduce new History and Antiquities among them; and that it seems more probable, that the Jews, who became compleat Converts to the Notion of one God, receiv’d among the Chaldeans, and were, in many Respects, form’d and disciplin’d by them, should receive their History and Antiquities from the Chaldeans.”12 Thus far the Author of the Grounds, &c. Let us now examine upon what Authority he has advanc’d this Assertion. “That the Chaldeans were, from remote Antiquity, Worshippers of one God only,” he advances upon the Authorities of Hyde, in his Account of the Religion of the antient Persians; of Prideaux, in his Connexion, Vol. 1. of Lord, in his Account of the Religion of the Persees; of Pocock, in his Specimen of the History of the Arabians, P. 148.13
Now all these Authors speak there only of the Religion of the Persians, but not a Syllable of the Religion of the Chaldeans, or Babylonians, concerning which is the present Question.
That those different Nations did not profess the same Religion, we shall see presently, the Persians being Magians, and the Chaldeans, or Babylonians, Sabians. But, if the Babylonians, to whom the Jews were Captives, had been of the same Religion with the Persians of that Time, I do not see how it would prove the Babylonians, Worshippers of one God only, at that Time; for the Persians were then Magians, and Ditheists; Zoroastres not having reform’d Magianism ’till after the Babylonian Captivity, as above.
Therefore it does not appear, that even the Persians believ’d in one first Cause, and supreme Governor of the World, ’till after the Babylonian Captivity; asserting two first and independent Principles, the one Good, and the other Evil, as above, ’till Zoroastres reform’d Magianism, and establish’d one first and good Principle, which, according to Dr. Prideaux, and Sir Isaac Newton was not ’till the Days of Darius Hystaspes, about 492 Years before Christ.14 Now Cyrus put an End to the 70 Years Captivity of the Jews, in, or about, the Year before Christ 536, that is, 44 Years before the first Appearance of Zoroastres at the Persian Court.
Now it does not appear, that the Babylonians were ever of the Magian Sect; but that, from the earliest Times we have any Account of them, they were Polytheists, and Idolaters; and, more particularly, during the Time of the Jewish Captivity under them; how then could the Jews imbibe their Notion of the Unity of God, and aversion to Idolatry, from those who were themselves Polytheists, and Idolaters?
The Chaldeans, from among whom God call’d Abraham, were an Idolatrous Nation. Joshua (24. 2) thus accosteth the Children of Israel, “Your Fathers dwelt on the other Side of the Flood (i.e. of the River Euphrates) in old Time, even Terah, the Father of Abraham, and the Father of Nahor, and they serv’d other Gods.” The Canaanites, among whom the Patriarchs sojourn’d, ’till their Descent into Egypt, were all of them Idolatrous Nations, as were the Egyptians, to whom they were so long in Bondage. Rachel Stole the Gods of her Father Laban the Syrian. And, as for the Babylonians particularly, it is so far from being true, that the Jews ow’d their Belief of the Unity of God, and Detestation of Images, to them; that we have undoubted Proof, of their being an Idolatrous Nation at that Time. When the ten Tribes were carried away Captive by the King of Assyria, he planted Samaria with Colonies from his other Dominions. We are told (2 Kings 17. 28.) that these Colonies did not “Fear the Lord,” that is, the one God; but that, when they settled in Samaria, they set up and worshipp’d their own Idols. “The Men of Babylon made Succoth-Benoth, the Men of Cuth made Nergal, &c. 2 Kings 17.30.” which Images, we are told v. 41. that their Fathers before them had worshipp’d. We find likewise Sennacherib, King of Assyria, “Worshipping in the House of Nisroch, his God, 2 Kings 19. 37.” We are likewise told by Ezra, (1. 7.) That “Cyrus the King brought forth the Vessels of the House of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the House of his Gods.” Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, set up a Golden Image, in the Plain of Dura, to be worshipp’d by all his Subjects, under Pain of Death, for refusing to comply with which, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were cast into the Fiery Furnace, Dan. Chap. 3. which, I think, is a pretty plain Proof, that the Jews did not learn their Aversion to Idolatry from the Babylonians, their Masters. Belshazzar, the Son of Nebuchadnezzar, and his Princes, in a remarkable Feast, “Drank Wine, and prais’d the Gods of Gold, and of Silver, of Brass, of Iron, of Wood, and of Stone,” Dan. 5. 4. Upon which Occasion, Daniel delivers himself thus to Belshazzar, (23.) “Thou hast prais’d the Gods of Silver, and Gold, of Brass, Iron, Wood, and Stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose Hand thy Breath is, and whose are all thy Ways, hast thou not glorify’d.” Great Marks of the Babylonians attachment to the Belief of the Unity of God, and Aversion to Idolatry! The Occasion also of Daniel ’s being thrown into the Lyons Den, is another Proof of the like Kind. “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and all the graven Images of her Gods he hath broken unto the Ground.” Is. 21.9. “Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their Idols were upon the Beasts, and upon the Cattle,” saith Isaiah (46. 1.) speaking of the Idols of Babylon. “Babylon is taken, Bell is confounded, Merodach is broken in Pieces, her Idols are confounded, her Images are broken in Pieces.” Jer. 50. 2. “A Sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the Lord, and upon the Inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her Princes, and upon her Wise-Men:—A Drought is upon her Waters, and they shall be dry’d up; for it is the Land of graven Images, and they are mad upon their Idols.” Jer. 50. 35–38. “I will do Judgment upon the graven Images of Babylon.” Jer. 51. 47. 52.
Thus, therefore, I think it evident, “That the Author of the Grounds, &c. has not given a probable Account, how the Jews came out of the Babylonian Captivity, more firm Believers of the Unity of God, and more averse to Idolatry, than they were, when they went into Captivity; Dr. Prideaux, in his Connexion, seems to me, to have given amuchmore probable Solution of that Affair.15
As for what the Author of the Grounds, &c. affirms, (from Berosus in Josephus, against Apion, Book 1.) That “the religious Books of the Chaldeans give a Relation of MattersFrom the Creation, to the Time of Abraham, so little different from that contain’d in the Pentateuch, that one of the Accounts must, in all probability, be borrowed from the other.”16Josephus is here quoted, for what he does not say, who expresses himself only thus. “Berosus, after the Manner of the most antient Historians, treats of theDeluge, and the Destruction of Mankind, just as Moses reports it; and of theArkalso; and how the first Father of our Race was preserv’d in it a-float upon the Mountains of Armenia. He runs thro’ the Genealogy likewise of the Sons of Noah, their Names, and their Ages; and so carries on the Train, from Noah himself to Nabulassar.” Now an Account from the Creation, and from the Deluge, are two very different Things; nor do I see any Reason, which makes it probable, that Moses borrow’d his Account of the Origin of Things from the Chaldeans, as this Author would insinuate; Moses having had no intercourse, that we know of, with the Chaldeans; nor the Jewish Nation, indeed, ’till after the Building of Solomon’ s Temple, to which, both their Civil and Religious Establishments, and, consequently, their Accounts of Things, were long prior. The Chaldean Account, from the Flood downward, agreeing with the Mosaick, is, indeed, a very good Proof of the Truth of the Chaldean Accounts of those Affairs; but no Proof at all, that Moses, who had no intercourse with the Chaldeans, borrow’d his Accounts of the Creation and downwards, from them. Besides, Josephus affirms, “That most antient Historians agreed with the Mosaick Account of the Deluge”; which is no more a Proof, that Moses borrow’d his Account from the Chaldeans, than from the Aegyptians, or Phoenicians, with whom Moses, and the Jews, had then much more intercourse. All that we can fairly infer from the Passage quoted, I think, is this, “That most antient Historians agreeing with the Mosaick Account of the Deluge, shews, that the Tradition of that Affair was pretty General, and, consequently, that it is very probable, that it was true”; which is a great Confirmation of the Truth of the Mosaick Account of Things. But so much for this Digression, which I hope the Reader will pardon.
The Egyptian TyphonThe Aegyptian Typhon seems to have been of the same Stamp with the Persian Arimanius. And Plutarch says, That “Typhon begat two Sons, Hierosolymus, and Judaeus”;17 which is a small Sample of the Kindness the Aegyptians had for the Hebrews: He also Interprets the antient Stories of Giants, and Titans, concerning evil Demons; for he, with some other Grecian Philosophers, acknowledg’d such, which the Stoicks, as well as Epicureans, utterly deny’d, deriding the Punishments of another Life.
The Doctrine of Evil Demons, according to the Heathens.§II. Plutarch acknowledges powerful and surly evil Demons, who were the Authors of unlucky Days, who were worshipp’d by Beating, Lamentations, and Fasting, obscene Words, and contumelious Speeches, by which their Fury was appeas’d, contrary to the Nature of the good Demons.18 These Demons, they conceiv’d to have Bodies, and some of them so gross, that they might be wounded with a Sword, whence Spencer explains a Magical Rite, mention’d Ezek. 33. 26. Ye stand upon your Swords.19 For they had their Swords in readiness drawn and glittering, to keep the Ghosts and Demons in awe, whom they had conjur’d up. Which is not a more unphilosophical Notion, than that of several of the Hebrew Doctors, “That the Aerial Demons, Eat, and Drink, Generate, and Die, as Men.”20 Nor than that Conceit of several of the Fathers, “That the Fall of Angels, was their falling in Love with Women, and having impure Commerce with them,” whence the Giants were begotten, as some of them say; Demons, as others. Most of the Fathers believ’d, “That they had Bodies of apurer Kind.” The Heathens generally believ’d, “That the Demons were pleas’d and allur’d by the Scent and Fumes of the Sacrifices they offer’d to them, and which they thought a Sort of Food to them”; whence it was customary for the Sacrificers, to pour the Blood upon the Ground, or into a Ditch, to entice the Demons to come, themselves Banquetting, about the Blood, upon the Sacrifice, that so they might gain the Friendship and Society of the Demons, and the Faculty of Divination. Whence the Jews were commanded to bring the Animals, which they sacrific’d, unto the Door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and their Blood was to be sprinkled upon the Altar, that the Children of Israel might no more offer their Sacrifices to Devils, Sehirim, to hairy, or Goat-like Demons. Lev. 17. 7.21 This Kind of Idolatry, amongst others, the Israelites learn’d from the Aegyptians, who had a mighty Veneration for the Goat, which they religiously abstain’d from killing; and the Mendesians (a People of Aegypt) thought it an Honour to bear the Name of Mendes, a Goat in their Language, which they deify’d, and to which they built Temples.
§III. A second Class of Evil Demons, or Genij, is acknowledg’d by some later Heathen Writers, (who, probably, took the Hint from the Christians, whose Doctrines were then well known;) these were said to be vitious in their Nature, and to tempt Men to vice. “There are differences of Virtue and Vice among Demons, as among Men,” says Plutarch.22 The same Author, in the Life of Galba, relates the Speech of an Officer to his Soldiers, then about to revolt, wherein he represents the Fickleness of their Temper, “That chang’d so often in so short a Time, not upon any rational Consideration, but by the impulse of some Demon, that hurried them from one Treason to another.” As the former Class of Evil Demons were suppos’d to bring upon Men Natural Evils, so the latter were suppos’d to tempt them to Moral Evil.
Now this Doctrine of the Pagans, concerning Evil Demons, must, of necessity, fall in, either with the Manichean, or with the Christian, Scheme; with the Manichean, if they were originally constituted Evil; with the Christian, if they became such by an abuse of their own Liberty.
Petavius saith, that several of the Fathers suppose, “That, when the World was made, the several Parts of it were committed to several Orders of Angels, that he who is now the Devil, was the Chief of the Terrestrial Order, and that his Sin was this, that, He envy’d and could not brook the Dignity bestow’d upon Man.”23 Which Conceit of theirs, That Envy was the Devil’s Sin, has been entertain’d by many.
Of Nemesis and the Furies, Ministers of divine Vengeance.§IV. A third Class of Evil Demons, but not so reputed upon account of their vitious Nature, are the Ministers of divine Vengeance, call’d Furies, Dirae, Erynnyes, Alastores, Dii impii, Hecate, Proserpina, with Nemesis at their Head. So, according to some Expositors, the Evil Angels, mention’d Psal. 78. 49. were not morally Evil, but are denominated Evil, as being Angels of Punishment. Such were those, which Atteius invok’d by Name, when he curs’d Crassus, as Plutarch relates in his Life.24 Some of these they suppos’d, to go about and punish enormous Crimes in this World, (which seem to be no more than the Stings of Conscience,) supposing it inconsistent with the Nature of the Gods, to be themselves the Punishers of wicked Men; but not so, to appoint these their Executioners upon such Occasions. For Plutarch, enquiring the Reason, why the Romans cloath’d their Lares, or domestick Gods, with Dog-Skins, makes this Conjecture. “As Chrysippus supposeth, that certain evil Genij go about, which the Gods make use of, to do the Work of Executioners upon impious and unjust Men; so the Lares may be thought certain direful and punitive Genij.” In this Author’s Description of the Punishments of another Life, certain Lakes are said to be there, “and certain Demons stand by, which plunge Souls in, and draw them out.”25 As in the famous Apologue of Er in Plato, there are “Men ferine and of igneous Aspect,” the Tormentors of Souls.26 This Sort of Evil Demons is acknowledg’d by Plato; and one of his School (who acknowledgeth no Demons morally Evil, yet) affirmeth, “That there are Demons, which punish Souls; that the Sins of Men make the Gods their Enemies, not that the Gods are angry, but they separate them from the Gods, and joyn them to the punitive Demons; that the Souls of the Flagitious, after their departure from the Body, are tormented by them, and that there are, for separate Souls, expiatory Gods and Demons, who purge them from their Sins.”27 It was this Sort of Demons, which the Pagans suppos’d maleficent Magicians to hold Correspondence with.
Of the Sentiments of the Jews concerning evil Demons.§V. The Jews are said by Hulsius28 and others, to acknowledge Angels of 3 Classes, 1. Separate Intelligences, who appear not in a corporeal Form, nor can be comprehended by bodily Senses, but only by prophetick Vision, and incompass the Throne of the Divine Majesty, such as Michael, Gabriel, Raphael. 2. Angels of Ministry, created by God for the Welfare and Ministry of Men. 3. Angels of Punishment, or Torment, Destruction, Mischief, and Death; possessing the Sublunary and Infernal Mansions, whose Head is Samael, the Angel of Death, as the Jews call him, who is suppos’d to kill Mankind, and other Animals.29 But these Angels of Punishment, are consider’d by the Jews, not as Tormentors only, but as morally Evil, and Tempters also of Mankind. For they affirm, “That Mankind Sin by the Seduction of the Serpent;30 That Samael rode upon the Serpent, for bigness like a Camel, when he tempted Eve;31 That Satan has his Name from הטש (Satah,) for he it is that causeth Man toDeclinefrom the Way of Truth.” Asmodeus, whom the Jews suppose the King of the Tempters, is by Graves suppos’d probably to be deriv’d from the Persian Word Azmoud, he tempted, or solicited to Evil, and therefore signifieth the Tempters.32Moses in Deut. 32. 17. saith of the Israelites, that they sacrific’d unto Devils, םידש (Sheddim,) which Fagius upon the Place saith, that the Jews suppose to be evil Spirits, that come out of the Waters, and are said to have their Name from דדש (Shadad) Vastavit because they devastate a good Mind with bad Opinions and Affections. There are several Passages cited by Windet, Spencer, and Hoornbeck, from the Hebrew Doctors, insinuating, or acknowledging, the Fall of Angels;33 such as these of Rabbi Eleazar, “The evil Angels were driven out of Heaven by a fiery Scepter. Samael and his Armies, God cast them out of Heaven. Aza and Azael were the two Angels that accus’d their Lord, and God cast them Head-long out of the Holy Place.” The Book Zohar says, “God threw Aza and Azael down Head-long, bound and chain’d.” And, in another antient Book (of the Death of Moses,) it is said of them, “Descending from Heaven, they corrupted their Way.” So in Jonathan’s Targum, Samcha, Zai, and Uziel, (the same with Aza, and Azael,) are said to have fallen from Heaven, and are suppos’d to have begotten Giants. Also the Rabbinical Name of their Prince דודמ (Marod) signifieth an Apostate,34 who is call’d by several other Rabbinical Names,35 which likewise imply the Fall of Angels, such as, “The Prince of Gehennah, the Head of the Satanae.” The common Name, among the Jews in our Saviour’s Time, for the Prince of the Devils, was Beelzebub, or Beelzebul, which may signify Lord of Matter, that is, the presidentiary Ruler of the material World; for לובז (Zebul) is the same with κόπρος which, in the Orphic Verses, signifieth the Matter;
Jupiter, most Illustrious, the greatest of the Gods, involv’d in Dung, or the Matter.
Empedocles’s Doctrine of Demons, which fell from Heaven, and are agitated by the Gods.As among the Jewish Doctors, so among the Heathen Philosophers, a fall of Demons, or Angels from Heaven, is, in some Measure, acknowledg’d; for some of them discourse of a Sort of evil Genij, passively and penally such, which are called by Plutarch, “The Demons of Empedocles, who are agitated by the Gods, and have fallen from Heaven,”36 whom Empedocles thus describes;
The Heaven-Fallen Demons of Empedocles, pursu’d by the Vengeance of the Gods, altho’ they are an approach to the Christian Doctrine, cannot reasonably be thought a Tradition from the Jews, who themselves then talked not so clearly upon this Head.1. This Doctrine of Empedocles greatly befriends the common Hypothesis of the Lapse of Angels from Heaven, which must be call’d the Christian Hypothesis, tho’ it has been weakly oppos’d by some Christian Writers, who have asserted the Evil Angels, to be, originally, the Inhabitants of the Air and Earth, and never to have been in Heaven, and enjoy’d the Beatifick Vision there. For their height of Felicity might be so far from securing them from a Fall, that it might occasion it, thro’ Pride, Self-Admiration, and Self-Love; and, in consequence, affecting a Dominion over Subjects withdrawn from the Subjection of God, agreeably to the Heads of Empire, which Satan usually setteth up in the World, that usually affect an unbounded Liberty. And that himself, in Consort with his Fellow-Rebels, should be like-minded, and therefore should chuse to make a total Revolt from God and their Duty, was not incompatible with their coelestial Condition; nor is it at all incredible, the like prodigiously-frantick Enormities being no Rarities amongst intelligent Agents. Wherefore the usual Doctrine is unexceptionable, which is clearly enough express’d in H. Scriptures, which represent the Holy Angels, as originally the Inhabitants of Heaven. Matt. 22. 30. Luc. 20. 36. Heb. 12. 22. And the laps’d Angels, originally, of the Number of the Holy Angels, 2 Pet. 2. 5. Jud. 6. 2. 2. The Heathen Doctrine of Demons befriends the Christian Hypothesis of a Kingdom of evil Angels. For the Heathen Demonologists suppos’d, “That the Evil Demons have an imperial Head over them.” Therefore, in consistence with themselves, they ought to have suppos’d, “That there is a distinct Kingdom, or Polity, of Evil Demons,” as Christianity asserteth. But they have so qualify’d this Doctrine of Evil Demons, as to make it no Contradiction to their Doctrine of the Unity of the Monarchy of the Universe, or their City of God; for they were Gods themselves, and Part of the common Polity of their Gods, which is monstrously, both Absurd and Impious. For whoever has any Veneration for God, will not count it a small Matter, to deify Evil Demons, and to pay them religious Worship. Yet this Worship of Demons was the Religion of popular Societies amongst the Heathens, as Plutarch plainly acknowledges,38 there by giving a great Attestation to the Truth of Christianity, (which chargeth upon Paganism, the Sacrificing unto, and having Fellowship with, Devils;) and to the peculiar Excellency of the Christian Learning, which alone, to the Purpose, discovereth Satan. For both Jews and Pagans (notwithstanding their slender Notice of Evil Angels) are far from knowing him as they ought, and so far as is needful to the Purpose of Piety and Sanctity. 3. The Heathen Doctrine of Demons greatly befriends the Christian, by asserting and ascertaining (in Consort with it) the Existence of Evil Demons. They were assured of their Existence from their Operations and Effects; and, from this Hypothesis, Plutarch gives an Account of the Apparitions to Brutus and Dio, upon which, after his Manner, he reflects finely. “If Brutus and Dio,” (saith he,) “Philosophical Men, of great Strength of Mind, and not apt to fancy horrible Appearances, were put into such Commotion by Apparitions, that they solicitously related them to their Friends; perhaps we may be forc’d to embrace that (seemingly) most absurd Opinion of the Antients, That there are Evil and Envious Demons, that, envying good Men, and withstanding their Actions, raise Fears and Troubles to them, to shake and overthrow their Virtue; lest, if they should persist stedfast and uncorrupted in Good, they should, after their Decease, enjoy a better Condition than theirs.” The Laws of the XII Tables, in condemning and punishing hurtful Magick, acknowledge the Being of evil Demons. And who can doubt, but that those Learned Heathen Philosophers were in the Right, who suppose the antick and barbarous Rites of their Religion, to be the Worship of powerful evil Demons. For the Pagan Religion is a Demonstration of the Being of evil Demons, because it cannot be suppos’d, that any Power, but a Diabolical, could have subjected the World, for so many Ages, to such an Institution as Paganism is. The Heathens justly argued for the Existence of Aerial Demons, in this Manner, “Would Nature, that has replenish’d all other Regions with Inhabitants, suffer the spacious Air to be an uninhabited Waste?” With whom, in this, both Jewish and Christian Divines agree, whence the Chief of them is call’d by the Apostle, the Prince of the Power of the Air, and the Rulers of his Empire are call’d Spiritual Wickedness (ὀν τοῖςἐπουρανίοις) in Heavenly, or Aerial, Places. But yet these Aerial Demons are sometimes under penal Confinement in the Subterraneous Regions, as that Petition of theirs implies, Luk. 8. 31. They besought him, that he would not command them to go out into the Deep, or Abyss, the same with the bottomless Pit, mention’d Rev. 20. 3. where Satan was chain’d.
In this Doctrine then of Evil Spirits, Pagans, Jews, Mahometans, and Christians, agree, the common Sense of Mankind concurring with Revelation.
Of Genij, or Guardian Angels.IV. The Pagans agreed, “That Good Demons are Guardian-Genij, which, tho’ Servants to the supreme God, or subordinate Deities, are Patrons of particular Persons, Nations, or Societies; of Things, and of Places.” So Servius, “The Genius, according to the Sense of the Antients, is the natural God of every Place, or Thing, or Person.” And this was a common antient Inscription, “To Jupiter the Best and Greatest, and to the Genius of the Place.” The Genius of the Roman People, (distinct from the tutelar God of the City, whose Name was kept secret,) was call’d the Publick Genius, and is usual in antient Coins. So the Trojan Palladium was not a Thing that fell from Heaven, but a Telesm, or Image, made by a Philosopher and Astrologer, under a most fortunate Horoscope, and enclosing the Genius, or Fortune, of the City, by Virtue of Astrological Magick. So the Lares were look’d upon, as the proper Guardian-Genij of their Houses, whence they were call’d Prestites, and, as Plutarch tells us, cloath’d with Dog-Skins. Among the personal Guardian-Genij, that of the Prince was thought by far the most August, whence arose a Custom among the Romans, of swearing by Caesar’s Genius, which if any did forswear by in a Suit, he was Bastinadoed, but Perjury, by the Name of God, was not punish’d, they supposing that God would sufficiently avenge the Abuse of his own Deity. It was a receiv’d Opinion “That every Nation had a Tutelar-Deity, with subordinate Demons.” The Nomes, or Prefectures of Aegypt, had each their distinct God, whilst Isis and Osiris were worshipp’d over the Whole, see Sir Is. Newton’s Chronology.39
With respect to this Doctrine, the Heathens were divided in their Sentiments, some allowing a good-Genius, only to every Man,40 others a good and a bad to each,41 which Doctrine Mahomet has adopted. Many Christians, especially they of the Church of Rome, have embrac’d the Doctrine of good-Genij, converting them into Guardian-Angels. The determining every Man’s Genius at his Birth, those who gave into the Astrological Scheme, ascrib’d to the Stars, and to every Man’s Horoscope at his Birth.
Heathenism, a Religion of Patron-Deities, and their Clients.§II. This Doctrine of Genij, the Heathens ow’d to their Notion of the Polity of the Universe; every thing superior to Man, and subordinate to the supreme Deity, being with them a Genius, each other Being, nay, and Mode of Being, having their Genius. Jupiter was the President, or Genius, of Heaven, Neptune of the Sea, Pluto of the Infernal Regions, a Triumvirate. The Planets had each their Genius, the Elements theirs: Nations, Societies, and individual Persons, had theirs. Venus was Goddess of the Passion of Love; Mars and Bellona were Patrons of the State of War; Janus of Peace; Terminus of Bounds; Mercury, Apollo, and the Muses, of the Professions of Eloquence, Poetry, and several Parts of Learning; Esculapius, of Physick; Vulcan, of Smiths; and Minerva, of the Faculty of Prudence.
With which the Church of Rome greatly Symbolizes.Hence it appears, “That the Religion of the Heathens is a Religion of Patron-Deities and of their Clients, in subordination to the supreme God.” Herein consisted their Polytheism: How much, in this respect, Christian-Rome has borrow’d from Heathen-Rome, is but too obvious; pursuant to which the Romanists pray to one Saint in Child-Bed; to another, in the Tooth-Ach; to a third, when they are Travelling by Land; to a fourth, by Water: as if the Providence of the one God, supreme over All, did not extend over All, and equally over All: as if he were not the God, both of Land and Sea, Hills and Valleys; and as if he had not appointed one Mediator and Intercessor, sufficient for All; who has requir’d these Things at their Hands?
Different Senses of the Word, Demon.The Word Demon is sometimes taken in a larger, sometimes in a stricter, Sense; sometimes as extensively as God in the largest Sense: So Homer calls his Gods, Demons; and the Pagans say of St. Paul, Act. 17.18. He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange Demons, that is, Gods. Sometimes it is taken in a stricter Sense, for a class of Beings between Gods and Heroes. Thus, according to the Heathens, were all things full, not of God, but of Gods; and they were guilty of the Worship of Demons, in both Senses of the Word, from which neither the Platonists, nor Pythagoreans, were free; but were great Promoters of it.
The Jewish Notion of the Government of the Universe, falls in with that of the Heathens, in great Measure;§III. The Jews fell into the Heathen Notion of the Government of the World, believing, “That their Nation had a Guardian-Angel, who could transact nothing without leave of the Divine Providence”; supposing, “That all other Nations were committed to the care of their Angels, who were to them as Gods”; believing also “Bread, the Water, the Fire, the Hail, the Winds, &c. had each their Angel-President over them.” They assign “Seven President-Angels to the seven Days of the Week, twelve to the twelve Months, and four to the four Seasons;43Arch-Angels to the 7 Planets;44 every Nation, the Israelites excepted, being subject to its particular Planet.”45 Also, with allusion to the Government of the Nations by Angels in Stars and Constellations, and not by immediate Divine Providence, the Jews, in their Liturgy, give to God the Name of the King of Kings, that is, the King of those Angelical Powers, who rule over the Potentates of the Earth. They are also of Opinion, “That the Number of Nations and Languages upon Earth is 70, having 70 President-Angels, by whom the Division of Languages was made at Babel.”46 This their Opinion is visible in the Septuagint-Translation of Deut. 32. 8. “When the most High divided the Nations, when he separated the Sons of Adam, he set the Bounds of the People, according to the Number” [not of the Children of Israel, as the Hebrew hath it, but] “of the Angels of God”; which they say are 70, and whom they call the Sanhedrim above.
As does that of many Christian Divines.§IV. This Notion, which transforms the Universe into a Paganlike Republick, and the holy Angels into Pagan Gods and Demons, has been embrac’d by many of the Christian Fathers, modern Divines, and Philosophers; allowing, among other Parts of their Scheme, each of the heavenly Bodies their Intelligence, as they call it. Upon this Plan has Idolatry principally prevail’d, both among Heathens and Christians: Upon this Plan also, the Devil, with his Angels under him, was suppos’d by some to have been President of our Earth, and never to have been an Inhabitant above, the Disagreement of which with Scripture is above shewn. The above-mention’d Mistranslation of the Septuagint seems, to have been a leading Cause of Error, in this Point, to the Fathers, who generally did not understand Hebrew, but made use of that Translation. This Notion was at last enlarg’d by many, even to the Assigning a Guardian-Angel to every individual of Mankind, which is nothing but the Heathen Doctrine of Demon-Genij with a new Name, and must have given the Heathens a great Advantage against those Christians, when they charg’d the Heathens with the Worshipping of many Gods and of Demons.
The Scripture-Notion of the Holy Angels, who have no Prefecture, nor Magistracy, in the Government of the World; nor are employ’d, as Guardian-Angels to particular Persons.§V. The Scriptures, indeed, do acknowledge the holy Angels as a sort of Potentates superior to Man, and as occasionally subservient to the Divine Providence in the Government of the World; but not as sublunary Prefects of various Faculties, Offices, Places, Stations, and Persons, residing upon their several Charges. A misunderstanding of Dan. 4. 17. “This Matter” (the Judgment upon Nebuchadnezzar) “is by the Decree of the Watchers, and the Demand” (or Ordinance) “by the Word of the holy Ones,” seems to have led many into various and gross Mistakes upon this Head. This Text seems to be rightly thus explain’d. This Matter is by more than human Appointment, it is nothing less than the Decree of the most High. For thus the Prophet, in his Interpretation of the Dream, interpreteth the Angels saying v. 24. This is the Decree of the most High, which is come upon my Lord the King. Therefore the Angels saying is a Mode of expressing the Decree of the most High. For the Decree of the Watchers, and the Word of the holy Ones, are not their own Decree and Word, but God’s, whose Agents they are. This remarkable Scripture is, therefore, no Foundation for that Jewish Notion of God’s consulting with his Sanhedrim above, or that the President-Angels of the Babylonian Monarchy decreed the Matter, at the Petition of the Tutelar-Angels of the several Provinces, who complain’d of Nebuchadnezzar’s Tyranny; or that the greater Angels made this Decree, at the Request of the inferior Angels. But here is a clear express Testimony for the Superintendence of the Holy Angels, in subordination to the divine Providence. So the Elect Angels are consider’d by the Apostle, as the Spectators of our Actions, along with God and Christ, 1 Tim. 5. 21. “I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus, and theelect Angels.” And, agreeably to the Name of Watchers in Daniel, we read, in the Revelations, of the “7 Lamps of Fire burning before the Throne of God, which are the 7 Spirits of God”; of “seven Angels, which are and stand before the Throne”; of “the 7 Horns, and the 7 Eyes of the Lamb, which are the 7 Spirits of God, sent forth into all the Earth”;47 so, in the Prophet Zechariah, (as Interpreters have observ’d,48 ) 7 Angels are represented by the Candlestick of 7 Lamps, which burn’d continually in the Temple; and those seven Angels (because appointed to exercise, both in Heaven and in this World, an inspection and superintendence over us and our Affairs) are styled “the 7 Eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro, through the whole Earth.” The Scripture, therefore, describeth the Court of Heaven conformably to the Persian Court,49 where there were 7 Princes, who saw the King’s Face, and sat first in the Kingdom, (to be Officers of the Presence, such as see the King’s Face, denoteth the principal Persons at Court, Jer. 52. 25.) who are sometimes styled the King’s seven Counsellors. And, because these 7 Angels in the Court of Heaven are plainly Analogical, or Correspondent, to the 7 Princes in the Persian Court; because we read of Angelical chief Princes;50 therefore some of the Holy Angels are consider’d as a sort of Heavenly Potentates, agreeably to the Style of the New-Testament.
For, in the New-Testament, some of the Holy Angels are usually intituled Authorities, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers,51 with Christ, who created them, at their head; between which the Difference is no greater than this, that the Apostle considers them, as the several general Names and Notions of the most Eminent created Potentates in the Universe. So the highest Rank of Potentates, in Satan’s Kingdom, are call’d Principalities and Powers.52 Wherefore it seems a great Mistake of many, to suppose, “That the Apostle maketh a distribution of the Holy Angels into four or five subordinate Ranks, Orders, and Classes, which are signify’d by so many Names,” whereas he means, only in general, “Whatever is high and eminent in Government.” Had the Apostle made a distribution of human, or angelical, Authority, into several subordinate ranks, he must have noted them by proper Names of Distinction, which these are evidently not, according to any Rules of Criticism, any Model of Government, or any Titles of Honour. There is, however, a Subordination of Angels, for we read of Michael, and his Angels, Apoc. 12. 7.
“In Scripture the holy Angels are represented as the occasional Missionary Ministers of God’s governing Providence, and the Works there of are represented as done by their Ministry”; which their very Name denotes, and the many Instances of their being employ’d, in God’s Appearances, in making Revelations, and bringing Messages to Mankind; in guiding, succouring, and defending, the Just; in opposing the Enmity and Malice of evil Spirits; in dispensing Benefits to, and executing Judgments upon, the World, at the End of which they are to be the Reapers. But this their occasional Ministry, at the immediate and particular Command of God upon every Occasion, is far from vesting them with such a Magistracy in the Government of the World, as the Heathens ascrib’d to their Deities; the Church of Rome, to the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, St. Paul, &c. nor does infer a Guardian-Angel, as will appear from a View of the Texts quoted for that purpose.
So Act. 12. 15. where the Christians at Jerusalem say of Peter knocking at the Gate, “It is his Angel,” Dr. Hammond renders the Word Messenger, or one that came from him, or made use of his Name; because the Faithful cannot be suppos’d so ignorant as to think, that an Angel would not come in without knocking, or having the Door open’d.53 Others suppose, That it is St. Peter’s Guardian-Angel, in the usual Sense, which they meant. But 1. It does not appear, That the Jews then embrac’d that Notion; nor 2. Will it follow, That the Notion was true, if they did believe it. But 3. What need was there, that an Angel should be sent to deliver St. Peter out of Prison, or St. Paul from Shipwreck, or to strengthen our Lord in his Agony, if an Angel-Guardian were their inseparable Attendant? Beside, 4. If they did not believe it a Messenger, but an Angel, they might have suppos’d it an Angelical Appearance, in his Likeness, and Personating him, whom they might have styled his Angel, as Lightfoot supposes.54 To as little Purpose do they quote Matt. 18. 10. “Take heed” (saith Christ) “that ye despise not one of these little Ones; for I say unto you, that, in Heaven, their Angels do always behold the Face of my Father, which is in Heaven.” Our Saviour sheweth, That the Sin and Danger of despising his little Ones, is not little; because, tho’ they be little in the eye of the World, yet really they are of so great Quality and Value, that their Angels, (that is, not their Guardian-Angels, but the Spirits that Minister unto them, which is the Apostles Notion of Angels, Heb. 1. 13.) always behold the Face of his Father in Heaven. This Place also speaketh not of inferior Angels, but of the Angels of Presence, which correspond to those in Power next to the Prince, who have always the Privilege to see the King’s Face. But it cannot be thought, that every pious Person hath an Arch-Angel for his Guardian; therefore our Saviour speaketh not of such Guardian-Angels.
The Angel of the Name and Presence of God.From Jacob’s Prayer, Gen. 48. 16. The Angel, which redeem’d me from all Evil, bless the Lads. And from Eccles. 5. 6. Neither say thou before the Angel, that it was an Error; wherefore should God be angry at thy Voice, and destroy the Work of thine Hands? Some infer a Guardian-Angel, but not justly. For the Angel, which the Preacher speaketh of, is the Angel of the Name and Presence of God; the Difference between whom and a mere Angel, is visible in the Israelites Case, who, before their Idolatry of the Calf, had an Angel to conduct them, of whom God saith, Exo. 23. 21. “My Name is in him.” But, after that Idolatry of theirs, God threateneth, That he “will send an Angel before them, but himself will not go up in the Midst of them.”55 As the Angel of the Name of God, so the Angel of his Presence, transcendeth a mere Angel; for Moses would not be satisfy’d with the Guardianship of a mere Angel, but petitioneth for the Continuance of God’s Presence,56The Angel of his Presence,57 which is manifestly the same with the Angel of God’s Name. Such an Angel, because God’s Name is in him, is more than a mere Creature; and therefore great charge is given to the Israelites, to revere and obey him.58 By such an Angel God exhibited his own Presence, and a Declaration of his Mind by the Angel’s Voice, who bears the Name, and sustains the Person of God, speaketh and is spoken to as God, as appears from many Instances in the Old-Testament. For this Reason, this Angel is to be look’d upon, as God exhibiting himself by an Angel; therefore the Name of God is in him; and God may be fitly styled the Angel, which may therefore be one of the Names of God, not simply, but as exhibiting himself by an Angel; and thus it is to be understood in the two Texts now under consideration. And that this is the Preacher’s Sense, appears from the Context, “Neither say thou before the Angel, that it was an Error; wherefore should God be angry at thy Voice?” The 70 also render that which is in the Hebrew, “Before the Angel” [πρὸ προσώπου τοῦ θέου] in the Sight of God. Agreeably hereunto, when Jehovah, or the Lord, is said to do any Thing, the Arabick Version saith, the Angel of the Lord did such a Thing; see Walton’s Polyglot.59
Some Prophetick Parts of holy Writ are alledg’d, in favour of a sublunary Magistracy of the holy Angels. In Zech. 6. 1. There is a four-fold Division of the Angelick Host, concern’d in the Affairs of the World, into 4 Chariots, as in antient Times their Hosts consisted of Chariots. These are said, to “Come out from between two Mountains, to go forth from standing before the Lord of the whole Earth, into the four Quarters of the World, to execute God’s Judgments,” v. 1–5. Of these 4 Chariots the Prophet enquireth, “What are these, my Lord?” The Angel answereth, “These are the four Spirits” (or Winds) “of Heaven”; like that of the Apocalypse 7. 1. where there is mention of 4 Angels at the 4 Corners of the Earth, holding the four Winds of the Earth, that they should not blow on the Earth, nor Sea. The Name of Winds, given to the Angels, denoteth their Subtilty and Agility, according to the Psalmists Description of them,60“Who maketh his Angels” (Messengers) “Spirits” (Winds,) “his Ministers a flaming Fire.” It denoteth also their Activity, in the Commotions and Changes of human Affairs, in raising new Empires, and demolishing the old; for that the great things, in the Vicissitude of Kingdoms and Empires, are done by the Angels, is an Hypothesis, that both Daniel and the Revelations plainly suppose.
This plain Hypothesis will enable us to form a true Notion of the Princes of Persia and Grecia, which are Parties in the Conflict of the Angelical Powers, which are spoken of in Daniel 10. 13, 20, 21. As Michael there, the Jews Prince, is an Angel, so, doubtless, the Princes of Persia and Grecia are Angels also, not evil, but good, Angels (v. 21. There is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your Prince.) And these Angels conflict with each other,61 as opposite Parties at Court, that have an Interest there. Here is therefore an Appearance, “That the Court of Heaven resembleth the Court of Rome, where several Nations have their several Cardinal-Protectors, as their Patrons and Tutelar-Angels.” And, because Michael is usually thought the Presidentiary-Angel of the Jewish Nation, and, because the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia is certainly an Angel; hence some infer, It is plain, that there are Presidentiary-Angels of all Kingdoms, Nations, and Countries, which are suppos’d to have a settled Prefecture over them. Whereas it is plainly incongruous to suppose, “That the Nations of Greece, usually at War with one another, and not united into one Estate, are the Prefecture of one Angel; and that the holy Angels bandy against, and conflict with, each other, in behalf of their several Nations and Countries”; which is as unlikely, as that they should fight with each other, when those Nations fight.
It is incongruous also to suppose, “That two great Pagan Nations have two angelical Princes, or chieftain Angels, for their Prefects, unless all such other Pagan Nations have the like”; and to suppose, “holy Angels the Prefects of unholy Pagan Nations,” is incongruous; and it is much more incongruous, to infer this from the Names of Persia and Grecia, in the Prophecy, which do not signify two Nations, but two great Monarchies, wherein the fate of God’s People was involv’d. The Princes of Grecia and Persia, (understood according to the Hypothesis above-mention’d,) are the angelical Agents of raising those two Empires, (as the Arch-Angel Michael is, by divine Appointment, the Agent of the Jews deliverance out of captivity, and of re-erecting their Government;) which imperial Administration of theirs, maketh them adverse and punitive to the Jews; for the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstandeth the Jews Deliverance out of Captivity, (probably pleading the demerit of their Crimes,) and withstandeth the Angel, that spake to Daniel 21 Days. To this Account of these Princes, it may be proper to add; That as “The seven Arch-Angels, or 7 Eyes of the Lord, Zech. 4. 10. are usually employ’d in the affairs of the several parts of the World, (inspecting, superintending, administring them, Zech. 1. 10) as occasional Missionaries of Providence only, without being constituted the Presidentiary-Angels of any parts of the World”; and as “The Angel Gabriel is usually employ’d in the Affairs of Prophecy, and of the Prophets, as an occasional Missionary of Providence only, without being constituted the Presidentiary-Angel of Prophecy, or Prophets, like Mercury the Heathen President of Eloquence”; so we may reasonably suppose, “That the Prince of Persia and his Angels, (which are thought to have the Name of Kings, Dan. 10. 13.) were usually employ’d in the Affairs of Persia: That Michael and his Angels were usually employ’d in the Affairs of the Jews, without being constituted the Presidents, or Prefects, over Persia and the Jewish Nation.” They were no more, than occasional Missionaries62 of Providence, God’s Messengers and Ministers, that do nothing but by his Command, Angels employ’d in such animperial, national, Administration.
Arguments against their subordinate mundan Magistracy, and the Doctrine of the Guardian-Angel.§VI. The holy Angels belong not to the Polity of this World, of which they are, therefore, no Magistrates; which if they were, this World would be the City of God, and his Republick: Nor are they Guardian-Angels, inseparably attending upon Men all their Days. But they are occasional Missionaries (“Ministring Spirits sent forth,” Heb. 1. 14.) they are the “Angels of God in Heaven,”63 they are the Courtiers and Citizens of Heaven; and such are the Guardian-Angels, which our Saviour speaketh of, that “always” (save only when they are sent abroad) “behold his Father’s Face in Heaven,” and have their abode and dwelling there.
In Ezek. Chap. 1, and 10. the holy Angels (which are signify’d by the hieroglyphical figures of Cherubims) are represented, as the imperial Chariot of the God of Israel; which importeth, “That he is the supreme Governor in Power Imperial, thro’ their ministerial Power, flying, as it were, upon their Wings”; agreeably to which, the God of Israel is usually describ’d, as “sitting upon the Cherubims, dwelling between the Cherubims,” and the holy Angels are represented as his regial Seat, or Throne; the Posture of the Cherubims, in the Tabernacle and Temple, was standing; they were furnish’d with Wings, and their Faces were towards the Mercy-Seat; all which Notices of the holy Angels (and many more) represent them, as Ministers of, and constant Attendants upon, the Divine Majesty, not as Magistrates of this World, attending upon their Charges.
As God has appointed, by Nature, all Men to live in civil Society; so hath he ordain’d, by Grace, that his holy People should live in holy Society, under the Guidance of publick Officers, which Body-Politick is the Church. Agreeably whereunto, the invisible World is constituted; for the holy Angels are Sons of the divine Family, and live in Society as other Families do.64 They are Members of the Church-Triumphant, and live in Communion with it as Church-Members.65 They are Citizens of the heavenly-Jerusalem, there bearing Offices, and enjoying Honours. How else can they constitute a Family, a City, a Church? They are the Host of Heaven, and therefore live in angelical Society, residing in Heaven; which is inconsistent with their sublunary Magistracy in this World, (which was a fundamental Error of Paganism, embrac’d by many Jews and Christians,) and with the Hypothesis of the Guardian-Angel, for such an Angel liveth out of angelical Society.
The Angels, which minister to the welfare of the Just, usually go forth by Troops and Bands.66 And, agreeably to the Platonick Notion,67Christianity allotteth a Convoy of Angels for the departing Soul of one pious Man, Lazarus, to conduct him to Paradise; which Office the Heathen Poets assign’d to Mercury; which is also agreeable to the Notion of the Jews. But, if they convey single departed Souls in Troops, they, doubtless, minister to their welfare in this Life, in Troops also. Numbers of them associate with us in our religious Assemblies, and are inspectors of our Behaviour there.68 When the Jews were the holy People, the holy Angels, in some sort, resided among them; to which some, reasonably enough, refer that Voice, which was heard in the Temple, immediately before its Destruction, “Let us go hence”; those Angels of the Shechinah, or Divine Majestick Presence, then leaving the Jews naked and expos’d to all Calamities.
The company and custody of the holy Angels is, according to the Scriptures, a principal Privilege of God’s People, and a Privilege is an uncommon Right. This Principle, therefore, destroys the Heathenish sublunary Magistracy of the holy Angels, and of the Angel-Guardian, common to all Mankind. Yet we must acknowledge the holy Angels general Guardianship of Mankind in general. The evil Demons are under Laws and Government; God is the Founder and supreme Governor of the World; as he hath an universal Dominion, so he exercises that Right in a Superintendence of all, as the Sovereign Disposer of the private and publick Affairs of Men. In which Administration of Things, the holy Angels are employ’d in defence of Mankind in general, of publick Persons, and publick Societies of Men, which are not wholly abandon’d to the will of Satan and his Partisans, unless sometimes for their Punishment.
If we suppose the holy Angels to be sublunary Rectors and Magistrates, Lords and Rulers of this World, in their several Provinces, to whom Mankind are rightfully subjected; if our good and evil Things, our Welfare and Punishment, are in their Hands to dispense: This is that Notion, which the Pagan-Theology supposeth, a delegated Providence, whereby the World is govern’d. Whereas the Providence, which the Scripture-Theology supposeth and teacheth, is God’s own undelegated Exercise of Providence, in his divine Decrees, and the Execution of them. The Scripture-Theology representeth God, as the universal Inspector, (to the meanest Sparrow,) Protector, and Benefactor; the sole Arbiter of our Fate, upon whose Pleasure our well, or ill, being intirely depends. Pious Men submit to Afflictions, as to God’s Hand, give him Thanks for Mercies, as his Gifts, in Wants and Dangers, they trust to his Aid, and in all their Ways and Enterprizes, the Eye of their Observance and Regard is upon him alone, and their Service is to this their sole Lord.69 The holy Angels, indeed, are sent to execute his Commands. Psa. 103. 20, 21.
If the holy Angels are sublunary Magistrates and Rectors, they are, to Mankind, governing authoritative Powers; they must resemble Kings and civil Governors, God’s Vicegerents, but excelling them in Dignity; there must be Societies, consisting of the holy Angels, as Regents, and of Mankind, as Subjects; and the Societies of the World must be such Societies, more than human, or civil, Power and Authority belonging to such Rectors. But of such Political Societies, the Scriptures know nothing, unless we suppose them in the Kingdom of Darkness, which consisteth of Heathen Mankind, and of the Rulers of the Darkness of this World; nor are these Political Societies consistent with true Religion, for they manifestly imply and introduce Idolatry, and Demonolatry, by appropriating to them divine Honours, and subjecting themselves to them, taking them from their immediate Dependence upon, and Addresses to, God.
§VII. To bring what I have been laying down to a point. From what I have said, and, from a through Consideration of the Pagan Religion, it appears, “That the Kingdom of God does not consist of all rational Agents, as of one political System, with God at their Head”; there being a Kingdom of Darkness too, and a divided State of rational Beings: And it also appears, “That the Heathens were so far ignorant of the true God, that he is not to be found amongst their Deities,” notwithstanding what has been advanc’d by many Christian Divines to the contrary.
1. The supreme Deity, in the Heathen Religion, is the supreme among Heathen Deities. The Heathens acknowledg’d a supreme God, but not the true kind of supreme God. “This is Life Eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” Joh. 27. 3. They Atheistically explain’d away the true Deity of God, into a Jupiter of the Heroe-kind, sometimes into a mystical first Nature, sometimes into the Soul of the World, and sometimes into infinite Matter. “It is much more easy, to deviate from the true God, than from the true” [partial] “Notion of the Deity; for the Gentiles, how good soever their Notion of the Divinity was, which they had in their Mind, yet in this they seem to have miscarried in the first Place, they did not attribute it to him, to whom it belong’d.”70 Many of the Heathens had a true Notion of the Deity; they suppos’d him to be the great Father of Nature, the Former and Governor of the Universe; yet every imaginary Deity, that has these Attributes, is not the true God, nor is the Heathen Deity such.
2. The true God was not the Deity of Religion amongst the Heathens. Among the Romans, Capitoline Jove was the supreme Deity of their Religion, with Augurs for his Prophets, and Juno and Minerva for his Coassessors; attended by a Nurse too, so confounding Cretan and Cosmical Jupiter. Capitoline Jove was the same with Babylonian Bel, threaten’d by God, Jer. 51. 44. The same with Jupiter Olympius, whom Antiochus Epiphanes endeavour’d to substitute instead of the true God, and to have the Temple in Jerusalem, call’d the Temple of Jupiter Olympius, who is therefore call’d the Abomination that maketh desolate.71 The same with Baal and Moloch, which are Names too that signify a supreme God, but extremely different from the true God. Summanus (Summus deorum Manium) was the proper Name of Jupiter Capitolinus himself; and denoteth what he was in the best Notion of him, only the chief of the Heathen Gods. Accordingly, in Scripture, the Gentiles are said to worship Idols, but never to be God’s Worshippers; the Assyrian Colonies, in their Heathenism, “feared not the Lord”;72 all the Deities of Religion amongst them, are constantly intitul’d no-Gods, Idols, other Gods, strange Gods. The Apostle saith, “When they knew God,” (had natural Notices of the true God of Religion,) “they glorify’d him not as God,”73 (they did not acknowledge him for their God, the Object of their religious Worship,) worshipping the Creature instead of the Creator. This the Apostle affirms of them, v. 25. ἐσεβάσησαν καί ἐλάτρευσαν τη̣̂ κτίσει παρὰ τὸν κτίσαντα, which our Translation thus renders, They worshipp’d and serv’d the Creature, more than the Creator. The Words are also capable of this other rendering; They worshipp’d and serv’d the Creature besides the Creator. And, according to either of these Versions, as some observe, “It is suppos’d, that the Pagans did worship the true God, though they worshipped the Creature also besides him, or perhaps in some sense above him, and more than him also.”74 But the Words are capable of a third rendering, which is probably the true, for παρὰ is here render’d in the vulgar Latin, potius quam, rather than, as it usually signifieth, and, in this Version, there will be no difficulty, if the Word [Creature] be understood to signify [that which is not the Creator;] and then the Words will run thus, “They worshipp’d and serv’d that which is not the Creator, rather than the Creator”; which is perfectly agreeable to the following Words, v. 28. “They did not like to retain God in their knowledge.” Therefore they chose to worship the Creature, rather than the Creator.
3. The supreme Deity, among the Heathens, is the Deity of a Heathen Religion; which the true God is not. Accordingly, the Apostle argueth, that the religious Service of the Heathens was a false religious Service: “God, that made the World and all the Things therein, seeing that he is Lord of Heaven and Earth, dwelleth not in Temples made with Hands. Neither is worshipp’d with Mens Hands, as though he needed any Thing, seeing he giveth to all Life, and Breath, and all Things. For as much then as we are the Offspring of God, we ought not to think, that the God-head is like unto Gold, or Silver, or Stone, graven by Art, or Man’s Device.”75 In which the Drift of the Apostles Discourse is, to persuade the Athenians to change the great Object of their Worship, not their corrupt Manner of Worshipping him; otherwise the Apostle would not have preach’d to them in such a style as he does, telling them of their profound Ignorance of God, that his design was to declare God to them, and exhorting them to seek the Lord, if happily they might feel after him and find him.76
4. The true God is intituled the unknown God at Athens; unknown, as when we say, a Thing is Foreign, Alien, and not of our acquaintance; not in such an honourary Sense, as when the Platonists call their first Deity, altogether unknown; or as if the Athenians design’d it to signify, the Deity invisible and incomprehensible by Mortals. “Most learn’d Expositors probably think that Altar, which St. Paul found at Athens, had been erected upon occasion of some famous Victory, whose procurement the Athenians not knowing, by any Circumstance, unto what known God it might be ascrib’d; and hence fearing, left by attributing it to any of those Gods whom they worshipp’d, the true Author of it might be wrong’d, or neglected, they ascrib’d it to an unknown God.”77 Whence will follow,
First, “That the true God was not one of the Athenian Deities”; for all these were sufficiently well known to themselves. All the Deities of the Athenian Religion were to them well known; therefore the true God, whom St. Paul intitul’d the unknown God at Athens, could not be one of them.
Secondly, “That the unknown God at Athens was not the same with Zeus, or Jupiter,” as some imagine. The Apostle citing Aratus, “for we are his Offspring,” is by them said to interpret it of the true God; which is suppos’d to be a plain Scripture-acknowledgment, that by the Zeus of the Greekish Pagans was, sometimes at least, meant the true God. But, if Jupiter is the true God, he is necessarily the same with the unknown God at Athens, and it follows, “That the Athenians were in profound Ignorance of their own Jupiter; that they worshipp’d him, not knowing him; that they ought to have grop’d after him, and that St. Paul ’s Business at Athens was to preach up the Pagan Jupiter, to those too, that knew him at least as well as himself; and that the Pagan Jupiter is the very same Deity, who set up an Anti-Pagan Religion in Judaism and Christianity; that the great Crime of the Gentiles was, they knew not their own Jupiter, nor glorify’d him as God, nor made him their God, whose Oracles, therefore, Priests, and Temples, were the Oracles, Priests, and Temples, of the true God.” Fine Consequences! The Apostle discourseth of the Deity, from an Heathen Author, to Heathen Auditors; citeth the Saying of a Poet touching the Deity, as a true Notice of him, that is of kind and quality the true God, (which is ill apply’d to, and understood of, an Heathen kind of Deity, but is rightly apply’d to, and interpreted of, him that is the true God,) representeth him according to their own Notices; but doth not affirm, or intend to say, that by God, the supreme God, Zeus, Jupiter, or Dios, the Poet meaneth determinately him that is the true God, or that an Anima Mundi (which is Jupiter in the best Notion of him) is God blessed for evermore.
5. The Difference between the Heathen and the true Theology, is a Dispute between two pretending Wholes, the Church and the World. Both Theologies have the same Notion of a City, Polity, and Kingdom; both agree touching the Rules and Measures of Duty to the Whole; and both agree, that there is a System, which is the City and Kingdom of God. But these Attributes the Pagan Theology attributeth to the World; the Christian, to the Church. The Dispute between these two Theologies, is a Dispute to which of these two Catholick Systems the true supreme God belongeth. Both Theologies agree, that he cannot belong to both these Catholick Systems, which are manifestly inconsistent. The Pagan Catholick System shutteth out of Being that holy Society, the Church of God. And the Hypothesis of this holy Society is of a ruinous Nature to their Whole, to the supreme Deity of their Religion, to their native State of Mankind, which they suppose to be by Nature that of Fellow-Citizens with, Domesticks and Sons of, God; which is built upon a false imaginary State of the Universe.
6. “The Heathens, therefore, knew not God,” in the truly religious Sense of knowing him, in which consists the whole of true Piety, in order to recover Mankind out of which unenlighten’d State, the Revelation, contain’d in the holy Scriptures, which God has been pleas’d to make of himself to Mankind, has been a favour of the highest Kind, as it is of the utmost Importance.
[1. ][Maxwell] “I take Logick here, not in the common restrain’d Sense, but so as to comprise all Arts, or Methods of Reasoning, such as the Algebraical, Geometrical, Metaphysical, &c.”
[2. ]Cumberland, A Treatise of the Laws of Nature (1727), 1.29. For the source of Cumberland’s analogy, see Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II.64; De Finibus, V.13.
[3. ]Shaftesbury, The Moralists, a Philosophical Rhapsody (1714), p. 275. The first edition was published in 1709; Maxwell is using the second edition.
[4. ]Cicero, De Legibus, II.19.
[5. ]Porphyry, De Abstinentia (in Select Works of Porphyry), IV.10.
[6. ]Cumberland, De Legibus Naturae (1672), VII.9, p. 350; V.48, p. 296; V.49, p. 300; V.3, p. 190; I.14, p. 22; V.50, p. 303; IX.7, p. 388; II.8, p. 88; I.19, p. 28.
[7. ]Ovid, Metamorphoses, I.21; Cicero, De Natura Deorum, II.16.
[8. ]Maxwell quotes from Hierocles’s Golden Verses of Pythagoras, lines 61–62. As with so many of Maxwell’s citations, it is not clear which edition or collection the quotation comes from.
[9. ]Prideaux, The Old and New Testament Connected in the History of the Jews and Neighbouring Nations (1717), pt. I, bk. IV, p. 169.
[10. ]Ovington, Voyages to Suratt in 1689 (1696); Lord, A Display of Two Forraigne Sects in the East Indies (1630).
[11. ]Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride (in Moralia).
[12. ]Collins, A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion (1724), pp. 139, 140.
[13. ]Hyde, Historia religionis veterum Persorum (1700); Prideaux, Old and New Testament; Lord, A Display of Two Forraigne Sects in the East Indies (1630), vol. I;Pocock, Specimen Historiae Arabum (1650), p. 148.
[14. ][Maxwell cites Prideaux] “In the Passage above quoted, and in his Defence of it, in the Letters which pass’d between him and Mr. Moyle, in Moyle’s works, Vol. 2d.” See n. 9 (above) and his defense of his ideas in Moyle, The Works of Walter Moyle (1726), vol. II. The work by Newton is the unauthorized Abregé de la Chronologie de M. le Chevalier Newton (1725).
[15. ]Prideaux, Old and New Testament.
[16. ]Collins, A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons.
[17. ]Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride (in Moralia).
[18. ]Plutarch, De Defectu Oraculorum (in Moralia).
[19. ]Spencer, De Legibus Hebraeorum Ritualibus (1685), II.11.
[20. ]Mu¨nster, Biblia Hebraica (1534–35), Leviticus 17.7n.
[22. ]Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride (in Moralia).
[23. ]Pétau (Petavius), Opus de Theologicis Dogmatibus (1644), vol. 3, III.2.8–9, 3.5.
[24. ]Plutarch, Vitae Parallelae (Parallel Lives), XIV.6.
[25. ][Maxwell] “In his Treatise, concerning such whom God is slow to punish.” Maxwell refers to Plutarch’s De Sera Numinis Vindicta (in Moralia).
[26. ]Plato, Republic, X, 613e–621d.
[27. ]Sallust (the Platonist), De Diis et Mundo, chs. 12, 14, 19.
[28. ]Hulsius, Theologiae Judaicae (1653), pt. 1, bk. 1, pp. 71, 72.
[29. ]Lightfoot, Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae (1664), p.59, on 1 Corinthians 10.10.
[30. ]Hulsius, Theologiae Judaicae, p. 169.
[31. ]Maimonides, Moreh Nevuchim, pt. II, ch. 30.
[32. ]Maxwell is probably referring to Greaves’s Anonymus Persa de Siglis Arabum & Persarum Astronomicis (1648).
[33. ]Windet, De Vita Functorum Statu (1663), sect. 13; Spencer, De Legibus Hebraeorum (1686), bk. III, diss. 8, p. 457; Hoornbeek, Pro Convincendis et Convertendis Judaeis Libri Octo (1655), IV.2, p. 309.
[34. ]Spencer, De Legibus Hebraeorum, p. 455.
[35. ]Windet, De Vita Functorum Statu, p. 126.
[36. ]Plutarch, De Vitando Aere Alieno and De Iside et Osiride (both in Moralia).
[37. ]Maxwell’s source is not indicated; for a modern edition of the passage quoted, see Wright, Empedocles: The Extant Fragments (1981), pp. 138, 270–75.
[38. ]Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride and De Defectu Oraculorum (both in Moralia).
[39. ]Newton, Abregé de la Chronologie.
[40. ]Iamblichus, De Mysteriis (1678), p. 170; Plutarch, De Stoicorum Repugnantiis (in Moralia), p. 1051.
[41. ]Plutarch, De Tranquillitate Animi (in Moralia), p. 474; Iamblichus, De Mysteriis (1678), p. 317.
[42. ]Persius, Satirae, VI.18.
[43. ]Selden, De Jure Naturali et Gentium (1640), bk. IV, ch. 7.
[44. ]Mede, on Zechariah 4.10, in Diatribae. Discourses on Divers Texts of Scripture (1642).
[45. ]Tenison, Of Idolatry (1678), p. 106.
[47. ]Revelations 1.4, 4.5, 5.6, 8.2.
[48. ]Mede, on Zechariah 4.10, in Diatribae.
[49. ]Esther 1.14; Ezra 7.14.
[50. ]Daniel 10.13.
[51. ]I Peter 3.22; Ephesians 1.21; Colossians 1.16.
[52. ]Ephesians 6.13; Colossians 2.15.
[53. ]Hammond, A Paraphrase and Annotations upon All the Books of the New Testament (1659), p. 384.
[54. ]Lightfoot, A Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles (1645), p. 324.
[55. ]Exodus 33.2, 3.
[56. ]Exodus 33.15.
[57. ]Isaiah 63.9.
[58. ]Exodus 23.21.
[59. ]Walton, Biblia Sacra Polyglotta (1657).
[60. ]Psalms 104.4.
[61. ]Grotius, Annotationes ad Vetus Testamentum (1644), on Daniel 10.13 and 10.20.
[62. ][Maxwell] “In this Notion Cyrenius is call’d Governor of Syria.” The reader is referred to Hammond’s Paraphrase on Luke 2.2.
[63. ]Matthew 22.30; Luke 15.10.
[64. ]Ephesians 3.15.
[65. ]Hebrews 12.22, 23.
[66. ]Luke 2.13; I Corinthians 11.10; Matthew 13.41; Revelations 12.7; Psalms 91.11,34.7.
[67. ]Windet, De Vita Functorum Statu (1664), 2d ed., pp. 116, 119, 120.
[68. ]I Corinthians 11.10.
[69. ]Genesis 15.1, 24.7; I Samuel 2.6–9; Job 34.29; Psalms 16.8, 44.4, 62.11–12, 75.7,119.11; Proverbs 3.6; Isaiah 5.12, 26.12, 14, 45.7; Acts 4.28; I Corinthians 16.2; James 4.12, etc.
[70. ]Arminius, Orationes (1611), I.
[71. ]Daniel 11.31; 2 Maccabees 6.2.
[72. ]2 Kings 17.25.
[73. ]Romans 1.21.
[74. ]Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678), pp. 472–73.
[75. ]Acts 17.24, 25, 29.
[76. ]Acts 17:23, 27, 30.
[77. ]Jackson, A Treatise Containing the Originall of Unbeliefe (1625).