Front Page Titles (by Subject) Number LI.: An Analogy between Ancient Heathenism and Modern Priestcraft. - The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743)
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Number LI.: An Analogy between Ancient Heathenism and Modern Priestcraft. - Thomas Gordon, The Independent Whig, vol. 2 (7th ed. 1743) 
The Independent Whig: or, a Defence of Primitive Christianity, And of Our Ecclesiastical Establishment, against The Exorbitant Claims and Encroachments of Fanatical and Disaffected Clergymen. The Seventh Edition, with Additions and Amendments (London: J. Peele, 1743). Vol. 2.
Part of: The Independent Whig, 4 vols.
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An Analogy between Ancient Heathenism and Modern Priestcraft.
Wednesday,January 4. 1721.
AS Extremes meet in a Point, and Corruption in terrestrial Bodies is the next State from Perfection; so all the Commands and Denunciations of Heaven have not been able to keep the Christian Priesthood, in most Countries, from running headlong into the Superstitions and Follies of the Gentile Idolaters. By a strange Sort of Fatality, they have jumped in the same Thoughts, and played over and over again the same Tricks; insomuch that if we but make small Allowances for the constant Alterations of Time, and such as must necessary result from different Languages and Fashions, the present Romish Churches might be easily mistaken for Heathen Temples, and the Services performed in them for Pagan Worship.
The Devil, as subtle and cunning as he is represented to be, with all the Assistance of corrupt Priests, has not been able to find out a new Device; but has ever danced the Hay, and made his Rounds within the same Circle. The same Arts and Stratagems have been always made use of to seduce and delude Mankind; the same Advantages taken of their Weaknesses and Passions, and in all Times equally applied to destroy true Religion, advance the Priesthood, and make the honest and industrious, but unthinking, Part of the World, the Prey and Property of Hypocrites and Impostors.
The All-powerful, All-wise, and All-merciful God himself, is too often represented, like the Heathen Deities, to be revengeful, cruel, capricious, impotent, vain, fond of Commendation and Flattery; and, in Effect, subject to all the other Passions and Imperfections of the weakest Men: His Being, which is boundless as Extension, and which the whole World cannot contain, is pretended to be confined to single Structures, and narrow Edifices built with Hands; nay, to Parts of those Edifices where he is supposed to be pleased and gratified, like frail Mortals, with costly Furniture, gilded Roofs, engraven and polished Marble, fine Carving, and other curious, though baubling Workmanship of Mechanics and Artificers.
I confess I am not wise enough to find out any essential Difference between the present and the old Roman Worship: They both dedicate their Temples to dead Men and Women, whom the Papists call Saints, and the Pagans called Demi-Gods and Goddesses: The Pagan Forms of Hocus Pocus, which they called Consecrations, were intended to conjure and call down their Deities to inhabit personally their Temples, their Images, and Idols: The Popish Priests consecrate their Churches for the same Purpose, namely, to obtain the more immediate Presence of the Deity: Like the old Romans too, they erect Altars in their Temples, where they worship Saints with Supplications, Tears, Grimaces, antic and distorted Faces and Gestures, Music, and Ceremonies, and tender Offerings and Oblations to them; and, like the others, often make Processions, Cavalcades, and Shews in their Honour; and sometimes go in Pilgrimages to them, to obtain their Favour.
The Popish Priests have profaned the plain and simple Direction of our Saviour to his Disciples, for commemorating the Benefits which we have received by his Death, by turning it into an old Roman Sacrifice: Amongst them, the Pipers and Harpers were the Fore-runners of the Shew; and before the modern Sacrifice, the Organs strike up a Tune: There the Priests went up to the Altar in a white Garment free from Spots (being an Emblem of Innocence); in new Rome, the Priest wears a white Surplice: The Heathen Priest turned about to the East, being the Region of the rising Sun, and bowed; the Popish Priest does the same: The Horns of the Beast sacrificed were marked with Gold, and his Blood received in Golden and Silver Vessels; here the pretended Christian Sacrifice of the real Body and Blood of Christ is poured into the same costly Cups, or laid upon as rich Plates and Dishes. The old Roman Altar was raised by several Steps above the Floor of their Temples; so is the present: The Priest, amongst them, made a crooked Line with his Knife from the Head to the Tail of the Victim; the Popish Priest plays Tricks of Legerdemain with his Fingers over the Elements: Lastly, when the Beast was consecrated and killed, the Heathen Priests regaled themselves upon what was left, after their Gods were served; the Romish Priests make it profane for any Layman to drink of the consecrated Wine, or for any one even to eat the Bread but the Communicants.
The old Romans had different Orders of Priests, with different and distinct Offices and Revenues; the High-Priest, the Luperci, the Augurs, the Haruspices, the Pontifices, the Flamines, Salii, Feciales, the Duumviri, Decemviri, Quindecimviri, the Keepers of the Sibylline Books, the Corybantes, &c. The present Romans (besides the several Sorts which are in Use and Fashion amongst us) have a Pope, Cardinals, Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, Carmelites, Benedictines, Carthusians, Capuchins, Cistercians, Observantines, Augustines, Servites, &c. In Imitation also of the Vestal Virgins, in old Rome, they have founded several Orders of Nuns, who take a Vow of Chastity, for the Breach of which they are immured, as the others were buried alive: And as they had a Right to deliver from the Hands of Justice any Malefactors, whom they casually met in their Walks; so the present Romish Priests claim and exercise an equal Right to protect all Criminals who can fly to them for Protection, which is borrowed from that of the old Roman Asylum.
The old Romans had their Dies fastos & nefastos, their Fasts and Feasts their Sacrifioia, their Epula’s, their Feria’s, in Honour of their Gods and Demi-Gods; the present Romans also make Distinctions of Days a great Part of their Religion; they too have their Dies fastos & nefastos, their stated Fasts and Feasts in Honour of their Saints, or to commemorate and condole past Misfortunes, or rejoice over signal Successes; and some of their Feasts, and particularly their Carnivals, exceed in Lewdness and Prodigality the Bacchanalia of the Antients.
The Heathens had their Deos tutelares, to whom the Desence of certain Countries was committed; and their Deos Præsides, who had the Safe-guard of particular Cities: The Papists have Saints who supply the same Offices. Artificers and Professions have also their particular Saints, who preside over them; Scholars have their Saint Nicolas, and Saint Gregory; Painters, Saint Luke; as Soldiers and Lovers had formerly their Mars and Venus: Diseases too have their Saints to cure them; as the Pox, Saint Roque; the Falling-Evil, Saint Cornelius; the Tooth-ach, Saint Apollin: And even Beasts and Cattle have theirs; Saint Loy is the Horse-leech, and Saint Antony the Swineherd.
As the Heathen Priests would suffer none to come into their Sanctuaries but themselves; neither will the Popish Priests permit any Layman to come within the Rails of the Altar, and profane with unhallowed Feet that holy Place. As the Antients obliged all, who were initiated into their Mysteries, to confess, under the most severe Denunciations, all the Secrets of their past Lives; by which means they were so much in their Power, that they never afterwards durst blab out what they saw, nor give the least Opposition to their Designs; so the Romish Priests trust their Mysteries only to the vere adepti, (their trusty Associates) and have made the same Use of Confession (the Loss of which is sorely lamented by others): For they oblige, upon the Penalty of Damnation, all their Votaries to confess not only their private Sins, but secret Thoughts, as well as every thing else they know of other Peoples, which may any way regard the Interests of their Order; and so have Possession and fast Hold of all Families, and become acquainted with all the Designs, which may ever thwart their Pride; and consequently have secured their own Domination, and the People’s Misery, beyond almost a Possibility of Redress.
Lastly, As the Heathen Priests sacrificed Goats to Bacchus, for browsing his Vines; and Men to Pluto and Proserpine, and other angry Deities, to appease their Wrath, and avert Evils from themselves; so the Popish Priests sacrifice and devote their Enemies, under the Names of Heretics and Schismatics, to the infernal Fiend: And as those Idolaters were allowed to know when was the most proper Time to make their Sacrifices to their Deities, and what Victims would be most acceptable to them, as being presumed to understand best the Minds of their provoked Gods; so the present ones are in Possession of the sole Judgment of what is Heresy, and of sacrificing by that means whom they please to their Ambition and Revenge; which equally subjects the unhappy Laity to them.
They have also imitated the Heathens in making every human Foible and Imbecillity, as well as every common and uncommon Appearance in Nature, contribute to their Interests; which shall be the Subject of my next Paper.