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Remarks on This Chapter - Johann Gottlieb Heineccius, A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations 
A Methodical System of Universal Law: Or, the Laws of Nature and Nations, with Supplements and a Discourse by George Turnbull. Translated from the Latin by George Turnbull, edited with an Introduction by Thomas Albert and Peter Schröder (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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Remarks on This Chapter
Our Author’s positions concerning the interpretation of laws, and the imputation of actions in foro humano, are very clear and just. But it may not be improper to add the following observations concerning the effects of ignorance and error in foro divino, i.e. with respect to the good and bad consequences of actions occasioned by ignorance or error, according to the laws of God in his government of the world.
1. It must be as true in morals as it is confessed to be in mechanics, that deviation from truth will lead into a wrong manner of acting; and all action must be liable to all the consequences of the laws of nature, i.e. to all the consequences connected with it in the regular and wise constitution of things, according to which every cause operates, means are proper and effectual, and different operations have different effects. And in fact we know no mistakes in action through ignorance, rash judgments, or whatever way it happens, which do not produce hurtful consequences; insomuch that there is good reason to conclude, that more of the misery of mankind is owing to wrong methods of action which are the effects of ignorance or error, than to any other cause. It must be true in general, that in a world governed by general laws; or in which connexions are invariably established, every deviation from truth, every mistake about the connexions of things in it, must be in some degree hurtful.
But, 2. Since all the interests of intelligent agents require government by general laws, or fixed connexions which operate invariably, the government of the world will be perfectly good, if the connexions or general laws which constitute it are the best adapted that may be, to promote the greater good of rational agents in the sum of things. Now, that it is so, must be certain, if the being and providence of an infinitely good God can be proved à priori. And there is sufficient reason to conclude that it is so à posteriori, because the more examples we find by enquiring into the government of the world, of such good general laws, the greater is the presumption that the whole is governed by the best general laws. But the further we enquire, the further we search, the more and clearer instances do we find of good, of perfect government. See my Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy.
3. Our great business therefore is to endeavour to acquire just notions of the connexions of things; or of the good and bad consequences of actions, in order to act agreeably to them. If getting knowledge to direct our conduct were not in our power, directing our conduct could not be in our power: wherefore, if ignorance, want of knowledge, error, false notions or judgments be not imputable to us, wrong actions are not imputable to us. So that ultimately, whether we speak of the imputation of actions in the juridical stile, or in other words, as we have now spoken of it, (both of which must mean the same thing) it is ignorance or error in judgment that is imputed, when action is imputed; it is ignorance or error that brings evil upon us, when wrong action does it; because every action is directed by our present opinion and judgment, and the affection corresponding to it. And for that reason, our chief business, interest and duty, must be to have just or true ideas of the nature and consequences of actions; or of the connexions of things, according to which our actions ought to be regulated, since it is according to them that actions have certain effects or consequences.
4. False judgments, which tend to direct into a wrong course of action, or to introduce a wrong temper into the mind, must, (as hath been said) be hurtful. But, on the one hand, it is as sure as that there is a God, and that the world is governed by good laws, for the greater general good of the whole, that a virtuous reasonable temper, and virtuous reasonable conduct, are, upon the whole of things, the most advantageous course of acting. It is so in fact in the present life considered by itself without any regard to futurity; and it must be so in a special manner in a future state. And, on the other hand, it is as sure as that there is a God, that no opinions, tho’ false, which do not tend to corrupt the temper, or to lead into a wrong course of action, can render us obnoxious to the divine displeasure, can be provoking to him, as such, if the bent of the heart be sincerely towards truth and right; or can as such involve in any hurtful consequences appointed to be punishments of false opinions, not tending to corrupt the temper, nor to lead to vitious behaviour; and not proceeding from want of love to truth and right in any degree, or from want of impartial, honest diligence, as far as that is in our power, to find out truth and avoid error.
How moral conscience, or our sense of right and wrong may be, and only can be impaired, corrupted, or overpowered, is explained at great length in the Enquiry concerning virtue, Characteristicks, T. 2.p. 40, amp;c.3 And to improve it, and preserve it pure and untainted, must be our chief duty and interest. Enquiries therefore into right and wrong conduct are of the utmost importance. They are enquiries into the natures and consequences of things, and are in that sense philosophy. But which is more, they are enquiries into the natures and consequences of things which ought to direct our conduct; and therefore they are moral philosophy, or compose the science of life, the science of right conduct, the science and art of living suitably to our nature and rank, suitably to our dignity; agreeably to the will of our Creator, manifested by the connexions of things established by him; and agreeably to our own best interest. For this must be certain, that it is the established connexions of things which constitute our best interest. And if the established connexions of things be according to the best order, acting according to virtue or the best order, must be in the sum of things our best interest. And why should we doubt that it is really so in a future state, and for ever, since it is really so at present, even while virtue is but in its first state of education, culture and discipline; since the compleat natural effect of highly improved virtue cannot take place till virtue be brought to a great pitch of perfection by gradual culture, because the effect cannot precede the cause. But that virtue is our best interest, as well as acting according to the best order, and easily discoverable to be such, will appear as our author proceeds in his deduction and demonstration of particular duties or virtues. I thought it proper to add this remark, as well on account of those who speak vaguely and loosely about the imputability of ignorance and error, as of those who maintain opinions which result in asserting, That sincere love of truth, and impartial diligence to discover it, is not the best temper, the best part we can act, nay, all the good within our power, with regard to knowledge, speculative or practical. And if this be not the temper and conduct which leads to happiness, according to the constitution of things, what a terrible, what a wretched constitution of things must it be!
Of the duties of man to God.
A Transition to the doctrine of duties.Hitherto we have but premised some of the first principles of the beautiful moral science; let us now proceed to consider the offices or duties which the law of nature prescribes to mankind; to all and every one of the human race. What the Greek philosophers called τὸ Δὲον, and the Stoics τὸ καθῆκον, Tully afterwards, in explaining this part of philosophy in the Roman language, called officium, not without deliberating about the matter a long time, and consulting his friends.*
Office or duty defined.By office or duty I understand an action conformable to the laws, whether of perfect or imperfect obligation. Nor can I entirely approve the definition given by the Stoics, who say, it is an action, for the doing which a probable reason can be given; or, in other words, an action which reason persuades to do.* Diog. Laert. 7. 107. 108. Cicero de finibus, l. 3. 17.1
The nature of duty.But since office or duty means an action conformable to law, it is plain that duty cannot be conceived without a law; that he does not perform a duty, who imposes upon himself what no law commands; that an action ceases to be duty, when the law, or the reason of the law enjoining it ceases; and that when a law extends to certain persons only, of two persons who do the same action, the one performs his duty, and the other acts contrary to his duty.†
Duty divided into perfect and imperfect.The obligation binding one to do his duty being either perfect or imperfect (§120), duty must likewise be divided into perfect and imperfect; the former being done in obedience to perfect obligation, or a law; the other being performed in consequence of imperfect obligation, or from virtue.*
Into natural and christian.Further, law being the rule of duties (§121), because law is either divine or human, and divine law is either natural or positive, there are so many corresponding divisions of duties. Those which are commanded by the divine natural law, are called natural duties. Those commanded by the divine positive law, are called christian duties; and those, in fine, which are enjoined by human laws, are called civil offices or duties.†
Into duties to God, to ourselves, and to others.But the principal division of duties is taken from their object. For as there are three objects to whom we owe certain duties, God, ourselves, and other men (§90), so there are duties of three kinds; duties to God, duties to ourselves, and duties to other men; of all which we are to treat in order.
The foundation of our duties towards God.As to our duties towards God we have already observed, that they must be inferred from the consideration of the divine perfections (§87); and hence we concluded, that God ought to be loved with a love of devotion and obedience, and therefore ought to be worshipped with all the powers of our soul, as the most perfect of Beings, upon whom we wholly depend, and to be obeyed with the most sincere and perfect obedience (§91).
Our obligation to know God.Since the duties we owe to God must be deduced from his infinite perfections (§125), it follows, by necessary consequence, that man is obliged not only to acquire the most lively knowledge of God, and of his perfections, but daily to encrease this knowledge, and advance in it, that he may attain daily to greater and greater certainty and perfection in it; which, since it cannot be done but by daily meditation upon those truths which reason is able to discover concerning God, by the careful and serious contemplation of his works of creation and providence, so full of evident marks of his infinite wisdom and goodness; hence it is manifest that we are obliged to these exercises, and that those who neglect these means of coming to the knowledge of God, which are in every one’s power who has a sound mind, are in a state of inexcusable ignorance; and those who ascribe any imperfection to God, are in a state of inexcusable error (§107).*
And to have just apprehensions of his perfections.Hence it likewise follows, that we are obliged, or that it is our duty to have just apprehensions of the divine perfections, and to know and believe that he is the Creator and Governor of all things, that all things are made by him, and are under his providence and government, human affairs principally; and that he is one pure, eternal, independent, omnipotent, incomprehensible, intelligent, wise, omniscient, free, active, good, true, just, and most excellent Being.*
All impiety and blasphemy are inexcusable.He who obstinately denies the being, or any of the perfections of God, is impious: he who ascribes imperfections to God, repugnant to his nature, is called a blasphemer: since therefore they, who do not know the perfections of God, are inexcusably ignorant, and they, who attribute any imperfection to him, inexcusably err; it is incontrovertible that all blaspheming and impiety are inexcusable. But they are therefore impious, and without excuse, who, with a hardened mind, deny the divine existence or providence; and they are blasphemers, who, with Homer, and other poets, assert a plura-lity of Gods, and represent them as contending and quarrelling one with another; as adulterers, incestuous, or deformed, lame, in pain, and groaning in an effeminate manner; and who have not only professed in words such absurd opinions of the Gods, but have not hesitated to set them forth to the eyes of men under horrible images, and by wicked and vile ceremonies.*
Our obligation to promote the glory of God.He who has a just and lively notion of any perfections, cannot but be highly delighted with the contemplation of them, and will spare no pains to persuade others to pay the same regard to the Being possessed of them; it is therefore our duty to endeavour to bring others to the knowledge of the divine perfections, and to restore those who err to a right apprehension of them; and, as much as in us lies, to convince the impious, by solid and per-suasive reasoning with them, of their absurdity and wickedness, and bring them to render due reverence to God: and they who do so, are said to exert themselves to promote the glory of God.*
And to the love of God.Because he who has a just conception of the divine perfections, cannot but highly delight in them (§129), and the desire of good to an object, with delight arising from the consideration of its perfection and happiness, is love (§8), the consequence is, that God must be loved. And because of the more excellent and sublime a nature a Being is, the more love and veneration is due to it (§87): God ought to be loved with the most perfect love; i.e. as the scripture expresses it, “with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength,” Mat. xxii. 37. Luke x. 27. Because goodness is one of the divine perfections (§127); God is in himself, and with regard to mankind, infinitely good: he is therefore to be loved for both these reasons.†
And likewise obedience and fear.Among the divine perfections are omnipotence and omniscience (§127); but none can keep these perfections in view without being excited to the diligent, unintermitted study of doing whatever may be pleasing to God, and of avoiding whatever may be disagreeable to him; which study and endeavour we call obedience to God. And since none can represent God to himself as a most just Being, without being seriously concerned not to offend him; not to do or say any thing that is dishonourable to him, or tends to create his displeasure; it must be our duty to fear him: for this concern not to incur his anger is fear, and when united with the love of him above described (§130), it is properly called filial fear.*
As also to avoid superstition.He who fears God with a servile fear, separates the love of God from the fear of him (§131); but because love of God consists in delight in the consideration of the divine perfections (§130); he therefore who fears God without any knowledge of his perfections, is called superstitious; and hence it follows, that a good man ought carefully to avoid all superstition, because it proceeds from ignorant servile fear.†
Its effects.All superstition, internal and external, being inconsistent with just apprehensions of the divine perfections (§132), one who has just notions of them, will keep himself carefully from all slavish fear of created beings, and from those absurd errors, whereby God is represented as avaritious and placable by gifts; and likewise from magical arts and divinations, from idol-worship; and, in fine, from this absurd opinion, that God may be propitiated by mere external worship, tho’ not accompanied either with internal fear or love.*
And to repose our trust in God.Further, since none can represent the divine perfections to himself without presenting to his mind the ideas of perfect wisdom, power and goodness; such a person cannot but place his confidence and trust in God, and be satisfied in his mind with the divine administration; and thus be disposed to submit to whatever may happen to him in the course of divine providence with a firm and cheerful soul; nor will he be stumbled because evils fall upon the good, and good things fall to the share of the wicked, but be persuaded that all things shall co-operate to the good of the virtuous, to good in the whole.
Of internal and external worship.In these and the like offices does that internal worship of God consist, by which we understand the love, fear and trust, with which we embrace God in our pure minds. But man being so framed, that his affections naturally exert themselves in certain external actions, his internal love of God could not be thought sincere unless it exerted itself in external love; i.e. in such external acts as express love, fear, and resignation towards God.*
External worship ought to flow from the love of God.Since therefore the external worship of God consists in actions flowing from love, fear, and resignation towards God (§135), but love must naturally exert itself in praising the Being in whose perfection and happiness we highly delight, it must be our duty always to speak honourably of God, and with due reverence, and to excite others by our actions to love him, to sing praises to him, and not to dishonour his name by rash swearing, by perjury, or by whatever irreverent discourse.
As also from the fear of God.From the fear and obedience we owe to God as the most perfect of Beings, we may justly conclude that all our actions ought to be conformed to his precepts, and that we ought always to have in mind his omnipresence and omniscience, by which he discerns our most secret thoughts; whence it follows, that all hypocrisy and dissimulation ought to be avoided, as being necessarily accompanied with injurious and contemptible apprehensions of God.*
Confidence ought to be placed in God.In fine, he who places his trust in God (§134), will never cease to send up pure devout prayers to him, and will cheerfully embrace every occasion of speaking well of and with God privately and publicly. For this is what right reason prescribes concerning the external worship of God. As for the external rites, it is likewise obvious, that public worship cannot be performed unless certain times and places be devoted to it; and a duty of such importance ought to be done with all decency; but as to the rites or ceremonies themselves, reason can lay down no other rule about them, but in general, that they ought to be in every respect such as are proper to recal to our minds those sentiments in which divine worship consists.
[3 ] Anthony Ashley Cooper, Third Earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), An Enquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit (1699), in Shaftesbury, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, 163–230. This is one of the rare references by Turnbull to Shaftesbury.
[* ] That the Stoics called it τὸ καθῆκον, and held the doctrine of duties as the chief part of moral philosophy, we are assured by Diogenes Laertius, who has not only briefly and clearly explained the chief precepts of the Stoics with relation to human duties, but has likewise commended their treatises on the subject, as that of Zeno, l. 7. 4. of Cleanthes, cap. 7. of Sphaerus ibidem, &c. Plutarch mentions a book of morals by Chrysippus de repugn. Stoic. [[Plutarch, “On Stoic Self-contradiction” (De Stoicorum repugnantiis), in Plutarch, Moralia: in Seventeen Volumes, vol. 13, pt. 2, 412–602. Plutarch refers to a number of works by Chrysippus in the text. Cicero mentions one of Panaetius upon duties (de off. 3. 2.) and in his letters to Atticus, 16. 11. he speaks of one by Posidonius. When, after their example, Cicero had wrote a treatise of the same kind in Latin, after long deliberation what title to give it, all things duly considered, he could not find a more proper word to express the τὸ καθῆκον of the Stoics than the Latin word officium. So he writes to Atticus, 16. 6. “Quod de inscriptione quaeris, non dubito, quin καθῆκον officium sit, nisi quid tu aliud. Sed inscriptio plenior de officiis.” Cicero, Epistulae ad Atticum 16.6: “As to what you enquire about my writing, I do not doubt that καθῆκον is to be translated officium (duty). But there will be a fuller writing ‘de officiis’ (‘On Duties’).”]]
[* ] For since nothing is done even rashly, for which a probable reason may not be given, whatever is done, not only by men, but by brutes, may be called officium, office or duty. And thus the Stoics understood the word, of whom Laertius says, l. 7. 107. “They extended the word to plants and animals, for with regard to these there are offices.” [[Diogenes Laertius, Lives, 7.107. It is true, an office ought to be founded upon a reason, but it ought to be a reason which is proper to determine men to act or forbear acting, and not brutes, i.e. an obligatory reason.]]
[1 ] Cicero, De finibus bonorum et malorum.
[† ] It is proper to illustrate these propositions by examples. None will say that Origen did a duty when he emasculated himself, whether by an instrument, as Hieronym. [[St. Jerome (ca. 342–420), one of the four Latin doctors of the church relates, ep. 65. or, as others have narrated, by medicines. Epiph. Haer. 64. Epiphanius, The Panarion of St. Epiphanius, 215. For there is no divine precept commanding it, insomuch that Origen himself afterwards acknowledged he had misunderstood that passage in St. Mat. xix. 12. See Huet. Origeniana I. 1. 13. p. 8. Huet, Origeniana. None will deny that a christian would act contrary to his duty, if he should not submit to the law of circumcision, or offer sacrifice to God, tho’ formerly both were duties, Gal. iii. 23, 25. iv. 3, 4, 5. 2 Col. ii. 20. Heb. ix. 9, 10. Finally, if a priest usurps the office of a judge, he acts contrary to his duty, and is guilty of intrusion into a charge not committed to him; whereas a judge doing the same action, does his duty, 1 Peter iv. 15.]]
[* ] Accordingly, to do hurt to no person, to fulfil contracts, to repair damage done by us, and such like duties, are perfect. To relieve the indigent, give alms, shew those who are gone out of their way the right road, give counsel to those who are in doubt, and such like duties, are imperfect. See Cicero de off. 3. 12. & seq.
[† ] To worship God with religious reverence, to honour our parents, to defend ourselves against injuries, are natural duties, l. 2. l. 3. Dig. de just. & jure: To deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ, are christian duties: to pay civil taxes, to observe particular forms and times in law-suits, and such like, are civil duties.
[* ] Hence the apostle says what may be known of God is manifest to the Heathens, because the invisible perfections of God from the beginning of the world are clearly discovered by his wonderful works, and therefore they are without excuse who know him not, Rom. i. 20. And whence else indeed that universal consent in the acknowledgment of his being and perfections urged by Cicero, Qu. Tusc. 1. 13. de nat. deorum, 2. 2. Maxim. Tyr. diss. 38. Aelian. Var. hist. 2. 31. Sen. ep. 117? [[Maximus of Tyre, Dissertationes, 303–12; Aelian, Varia historia (Historical Miscellany). For tho’ this universal consent be not a demonstrative argument of the Being of God (§71), yet hence it is manifest, that as the apostle says, “What may be known of God is easily discoverable.” For which reason, Cicero de nat. deorum, 2. 2. affirms, “If any one doubt whether there is a God, I cannot comprehend why the same person may not as well doubt whether there be a sun or not.” Cicero, De natura deorum.]]
[* ] Epictetus Enchirid. c. 38. tells us, “The chief thing in religion is to have just ideas of the immortal powers, and of their infinitely wise and good administration.” [[Epictetus, Enchiridion, but chap. 31, rather than 38 (Epictetus, The Discourses and Manual, vol. 2:226). And they are in a great error indeed, who think that the whole of our duty consists in probity and integrity, of life, and that it is a matter of indifference what one thinks of God, or what notions he entertains of divine things. For since our duties to God can only be inferred from his perfections (§125), how can one render to God the homage and reverence due to him, or that sincere and universal obedience to which he is justly entitled, if he be ignorant of his perfections, or has imbibed false and corrupt notions of them?]]
[* ] The ancient writers of apologies for the christian religion have severely reproached the Pagans for this impiety and blasphemy, as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophilus Antiochenus, Tatianus, Hermias, Tertullian, Cyprian, Minucius Faelix, Arnobius, Lactantius, Eusebius, Julius Firmicus Maternus, and others. But which is more surprizing, some Pagan authors have likewise reproved this madness of their contemporary countrymen. Not to quote several passages of Lucian and other Heathen writers to this effect, I shall satisfy my self with mentioning one of Sophocles preserved to us by Justin Martyr Paraenes. ad Graec. p. 17. and de monarchia Dei, p. 104, and by Eusebius, Praep. Evang. p. 348, and some others. “In truth, there is one God who made heaven and the spacious earth, the ebbing and flowing sea, and the mighty winds. But many of us having lost our understanding, for a consolation in our calamities, make to ourselves Gods, and endeavour to propitiate lifeless images by sacrifices to them: we celebrate festivals foolishly, imagining ourselves pious in so doing.” Is it not truly wonderful to find Sophocles reproaching his fellow Pagans for the same impiety the apostle charges them with, Rom. i. 21, 22, 23. [[For the references to Sophocles in the Paraenesis (or Cohortatio) ad Graecos and De monarchia dei, see Pseudo-Iustinus, Cohortatio ad Graecos, De Monarchia, Oratio ad Graecos, 48 and 88. The same passage, with very small alterations, is attributed to Sophocles by Eusebius in his Praeparatio evangelica, 680b (Eusebius, Praeparationis evangelicae libri XV). The passage by Sophocles is as follows:There is in truth One God, and One alone,Who made the lofty heavens, and wide-spread earth,The sea’s blue wave, and might of warring winds.But we poor mortals with deceived heart,Seeking some solace for our many woes,Raised images of gods in stone or bronze,Or figures wrought of gold or ivory,And when we crowned their sacrifice, and heldHigh festival, we thought this piety.(Trans. E. H. Gifford)]]
[* ] I have said by solid and persuasive arguments, not menaces and penalties. For since ignorance and error are vices not of the will, but of the understanding, there is no other remedy for them, but to convince persons of the truth, and to excite them by proper arguments to embrace it; and hence it is evident, that those can never be serviceable to the ignorant or erring, who are for employing fire and gibbets against atheists, especially since it hath never been an uncommon practice to brand with that name (to use the words of Clemens Alex. in Protrept.) “men living regularly and modestly, who were quicker-sighted in discerning impostures about the Gods than the generality of mankind.” [[Clement of Alexandria, “Protreptikos pros Hellenas” (The Exhortation of the Greeks), in Clement of Alexandria, 3–263. Of this many examples are brought by the learned. See Aelian. Var. Hist. 2. 31.]]
[† ] What the Epicurean philosophers and the Sadduceans in ancient times said of the pure love of God, is well known to the learned: And in our own times, some mystick divines have renewed that doctrine, the chief of whom is Franc. Saignac de Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, whose treatise entitled, “The maxims of the saints,” gave rise to a controversy, of which I have elsewhere given a short history (Elem. Philos. moral. §198). [[Heineccius, Elementa philosophiae rationalis et moralis. François de Salignac de La Mothe-Fénelon (1651–1715) was archbishop of Cambrai and tutor of Louis Duke de Bourgogne, grandson and heir to Louis XIV. He is best known for his Les aventures de Télémaque (1699) [Telemachus, Son of Ulysses, 1994]. Heineccius refers here to Fénelon’s Explication des maximes des saints sur la vie intérieure (1698), which was condemned by the pope. But who can conceive God otherwise than as good to all his creatures? How idle then is the question about the pure love of God? nay, how dangerous? This hath been shewn by Leibnitz, in Praef. prodrom. & mantissae codicis juris gentium, by Wolfius and others.]]
[* ]Filial fear, is therefore attended with love, and servile fear with hatred: it excludes love. But since it is our duty not only to fear God, but likewise to love him (§130), the consequence is, that the law of nature requires filial not servile fear of God, the latter of which wicked men and evil spirits cannot shake off.
[† ]Superstition is fear of God, which results not from the contemplation of the divine perfections, but from false conceptions of God. This is Theophrastus’s meaning, Charact. p. 47, where he defines superstition, “Δειλίαν πρὸς τὸ δαιμόνιον, a trembling dread of the Divinity.” [[Theophrastus, Theophrastus: Characters, 97. By Δειλίαν, Casaubon in his notes understands fear different from that which becomes good men who have just ideas of the Deity; and by τὸ δαιμόνιον, the Gods and Demons, and whatever in times of ancient ignorance was thought to have any share of Divinity. This absurd dread, as it is in the mind, is called internal superstition, and as it discovers itself in outward acts, it is called superstitious worship.]]
[* ] These are the principal branches of superstition, to which all its other effects may be reduced. See Budd. de Super. & Atheismo, cap. 7 & 8. [[Buddeus, Theses theologicae de atheismo et superstitione variis observationibus illustratae. Hence it appears how idle the comparison between superstition and atheism is, both being equally repugnant to true piety, as the same learned writer has proved against Bayle, cap. 4. §5. None however will deny, that very many great evils proceed from superstition, insomuch that there is reason to cry out with the Poet,Quantum religio possit suasisse malorum.
“So potent was superstition in persuading to evil deeds!” (See Lucretius, De rerum natura 1.101.)
If by religio be meant the dread of God, disjoined form love, i.e. superstition. Upon this subject Juvenal’s fifteenth satyr is well worth our reading. For it often happens, that as the Poet there says,Inter finitimos vetus atque antiqua simultas,Immortale odium, & nunquam sanabile vulnusArdet adhuc Ombos & Tentyra. Summus utrimqueInde furor vulgo, quod numina vicinorumOdit uterque locus, quum solos credat habendosEsse Deos, quos ipse colit.
Juvenal, Satires 15.33, in Juvenal and Persius: “Between the neighbours Ombi and Tentyra there still blazes a lasting and ancient feud, an undying hatred, a wound that can never be healed. On each side the height of mob fury arises because each place detests the gods of their neighbours. They think that only the gods they themselves worship should be counted as gods.”
[* ] Some have denied that the necessity of external worship can be proved from principles of reason, partly, because God does not stand in need of it; (as the philosopher Demonax in Lucian, in Demonacte, tom. 1. p. 861, asserts, when being accused of impiety, for not offering sacrifice to Minerva, he answered, “I did not think she stood in need of sacrifice”). [[A reference to a life of the philosopher Demonax by the Greek satirist Lucian (ad ca. 117–80), republished in several editions in the early modern period (see, for example, Demonactis philosophi vita ex Lutiano latine conversa a Christophoro Hegendorphino). Partly because human society, and the tranquillity of human life, is not hurt by the omission of external worship: (See Thomasius, Jurisprud. divin. 2. 1. 11. and his introd. in Ethic. 3. 37. & seq.) Thomasius, Einleitung zur Sittenlehre. But neither does God stand in need of internal worship, which none will deny to be a duty. And the other argument falls to the ground, when that fundamental error is refuted, which asserts that nothing is of the law of nature but what can be inferred from sociability (§75). See Hochstet. Colleg. Pufend. Exercit. 3. 38. Hochstetter, Collegium Pufendorfianum.]]
[* ] Thales Milesius, acknowledged this sublime truth, when being asked, “whether God saw unjust actions,” he answered, “yea and unjust thoughts likewise,” Clemens Alexand. Strom. 5. p. 594. [[Clement of Alexandria, Les Stromates (Stromateis), Stromate V, vol. 1, chap. 14, 96.4, p. 113. But who can choose but fear an omnipotent God, who knoweth and seeth all things? Epictetus says elegantly in Arrian, “Wherefore, doors and windows being shut, or when you are in darkness, say not you are alone; for you are not. And you certainly are not, because God is present.” Epictetus, The Discourses as Reported by Arrian, bk. 1, 14.13–14. We are therefore under the strongest obligation to sincere piety, since we are always in the sight of God.]]