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the Rise and Progress of the Colonies of South Carolina and G20rgia, "
Now it happens, that none of the Moravian Brethren,
I am, Gentlemen, yours, &c.
AN OLD CORRESPONDENT.
11 I see in your Monthly Review for Jan. 1780, an account of an
I am, Gentlemen, yours.
$15 In answer to an applica:ion which we have received, relative to a passage in our ew for last month; we need only refer our Correspondent to the late publications of Dr. Priestley, for instructions relating to the methods of imitating, and even excelling, with respect to their medical qualities, the waters of Spa, and others of that class.
I! Dr. FRANKLIN's Political and Miscellaneous Pieces in our next.
* The deign of a General Index to all the volumes of The
R An accident has prevented Mr. Hey's Letter from appearing in this Month's Review. It will be given in our next.
Τ Η Ε
For MARCH, 1780.
ART. I. Demoniacs. An Enquiry into the Heathen and the Scrip
ture Doctrine of Dæmons. Io which the Hypo:hesis of the Rev.
fattered ourselves that we were about to peruse, ac
The greater part of the publication before us is little more than a vehement declamation upon the tendency and confequences of denying the agency and influence of fuperior evil beings in the natural and moral world. To affert, that the world is under the sole government of God, and that no other Being has any power or dominion over the course of nature, is prepotteroully represented as striking at the foundation of both natural and revealed religion. The Reader may judge by the following instance, how well qualified our Author is, critically to examine, and fairly to state, the opinions of others.
Near the beginning of his first chapter, the design of which is to prove, that the greatest part of those Deities to whom the Heathens facrificed, werc by them considered as existing prior to the creation of man,' he has quoted a passage from the beginning of Hesiod's Theogony, containing a poetical and allegorical account of the origin of the immortals always exifting, and of the earth in its present form, &c. In his remarks upon it, he says, among other things, í The ancient Greeks acknowledged one Supreme Deity, the Creator of the universe, whom they considered as incapable of any evil, and to whom they ascribed every perfection, while, at the fame time, they worshipped a multitude of other gods as intelligent beings, superior to the nature of human souls; and thought these deities to have been brought into being by the First Cause, along with the different parts of nature, prior to the existence of man. This is evident from those pallages in Hefiod's Theogony, which we have just quoted.'.
Without inquiring into the truth of this observation, which may easily be contraverted, we have only to remark, that in the paslages quoted from Hesiod, no mention is made of a Supreme Deity, the Creator of the universe, incapable of evil, and possessed of every perfection, or of any • First Cause, by whom other deities were brought into being.' Mr. Fell has several times in this chapter repeated this title, the Creator of the Universe, as given by the Heathen to their chief deity, but has not produced a single paffage from any of their writers in support of his assertion. Ovid's Ille Opifex Rerum-Mundi Fabricator, will bear no such interpretation. It is doubtful at least, whether even those philosophers, who allowed that the world had a beginning, had any proper idea of a creation. Mr. Fell is confident that they had, and arrogantly declares, that to affert that he is called,' in a passage not quoted, the fource of nature, who had once been a man, and that,' in another, he is represented as being filled with terror, whom the Heathens confidered as the Creator of the Universe, must be evident proof, either of
* Hor. lib. iii. O1. 4. V. 42, &c.
very great inattention to the language and design of ancient writers, or else of that kind of prejudice which admits of no cure. We believe, that many persons whose attention and judgment are equal to Mr. Fell's, will still be of opinion, that Horace referred to the chief deity of the Heathen. Whether they or Mr. Fell be under the worse kind of prejudice, must be left to others to determine.
In the sequel of this chapter, he labours to prove, in opposition to Mr. Farmer, that the Pagans never confounded their natural with their hero gods, or even associated them together. His proofs are vague and inconclufive ; but his affertions are as positive as if they had been supported by demonstration.
The chapter closes with the following paragraph, which we give our Readers as a specimen at once of the loose reasoning and of the illiberal sentiments of this writer.
Idolatry, indeed, is in its very nature the nurse of vice; because it cannot exist without a denial of the strongest moral obligations. Nothing can be more repugnant to reason, and the first principles of natural religion. That which setteth aside our moft solemn duties towards God, must, in its consequences, be pernicious to the interests of mankind; the religious worship therefore of any creature is the height of wickedness. Hence the extensive influence of this crime, which was a continued opposition to the light and dictates of nature, clearly proves all idolaters to have been void of true morality and religion. For if genuine virtue doth not include a resolute and steady observe ance of those sacred duties which we owe to our Maker, it is an empty name, and not worth cultivating: if, indeed, we also understand by it, those highest moral obligations which are due to God, then genuine virtue never can be found but in the exercise of pure religion, undefiled with idolatrous practices. To talk therefore of virtuous Heathens, if idolaters be meant, is an absurdity, too great for language to express!
That idolatry and superstition have a tendency to corrupt the mind and manners, will readily be allowed; but that no virtuous characters are to be found amongst idolaters, is a position inconfiftent with the common use of words, with all just notions of human nature, and with the united testimony of ancient and modern history.
The second chapter is entitled, The Testimony of Scripture cone: cerning Heathen Gods. The design of it is to prove, that the worship of dead men is never mentioned, or even referred to in the Old Testament; that that kind of idolatry was not practised in the neighbourhood of Judea, till after the time in which the books of the Old Testament were written; and consequently, that the only deities to which the Jews and neighbouring nations sacrificed, were the heavenly bodies, or thole which N 2
are called the natural and primary gods of the Heathen. To this end he first quotes a passage from Deuteronomy, chap. iv. .ver. 15-19,-as describing the state of idolatry in the time of Moses. The generality of readers and commentators, we believe, are of opinion, that by the likeness of male or female, ver, 16. is intended, the likeness of man or woman: but Mr. Fell afferts, without hesitation, that Moses, in this description of the idolatry of his own times, doth not even intimate that any of their emblematic figures were in the Shape of men. In order to see afide the proofs, which Mr. Farmer has brought from the writings of the Old Testament, that the Pagan deities were considered as dead men, an interpretation different from that of the most eminent and learned commentators is put upon the paslages that he has quoted. In particular, the Hebrew word, Schedim, Deut. xxxii. 17. and Psal. cvi. 37. is afferted to signify not destroyers, as is generally imagined, but distributers, feil. of good things. It might have been imagined, that the fingularity of this interpretation was sufficient to have inspired even Mr. Fell, with some degree of modesty and diffidence. On the contrary, he seems to rise in positiveness and assurance upon the occasion. · But,' are his words,'hë, that is, Mr. Farmer,' thus goes on : “ the word fchedim, is derived from a verb which signifies to lay waste, to destroy, and ought to have been rendered the destroyers. It expresses the supposed cruel nature and character of these gods, who were thought to delight in, and who were accordingly worshipped by, the destruction of the human species, and who required, as appears from the context, even the blood of their fons and daughters.” To this we answer with all brevity, that the word sehedim, is not derived from a verb which fignifies to lay waste, and to destroy; that it ought not to have been rendered the destroyers ; that it does not express the supposed cruel nature of those false gods ; and that it doth not refer to those mischiefs which they had formerly occafioned, but to those bounties which they were then thought to give.'
This, however, is but one instance out of many, in which Mr. Fell has replied to Mr. Farmer in the same concise and convincing manner.
Mr. Fell's principal arguments in support of his own opinion are, that whenever the particular objects of idolatrous worship in Judea or the neighbouring countries are specified in the Old Testament, no others are mentioned than the sun, moon, planets, and hosts of heaven;' and that even the writers of the New Testament are so far from representing all the Pagan deities as nothing but dead men, that they do not take any notice of the worthip of deceased persons, even when reasoning with idolaters, where dead men were known to be worshipped.