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BOOK in the pursuit of causes, shall at last come to this (even
-as the heathen philosophers confessed) one first Mover ; that is, a first and an eternal Cause of all things, which is that which men mean by the name of God. This seems a plain confession, that reason must carry men to the owning a first and an eternal Cause of all things. And is not reason a peculiar quality in mankind ? How then come the seeds of religion not to be placed therein, but in ignorance and fear ? And he after saith, that the natural seed of religion lies in these four things ; opinion of ghosts, ignorance of second causes, devotion towards what men fear, and taking things casual for prognostics. How comes the natural reason of mankind to be left out? If by that men may be convinced of a first and eternal Cause of things, doth not that dispose men to a fear and reverence towards a Divine Majesty ? And is not that religion? Then the best and truest seed of religion lies in that which most disposeth the mind to fear God. What is the meaning then that the seed of religion is placed by him in things without reason? If men by reason are brought to own or acknowledge one God, eternal, infinite, omnipotent, doth not the same reason oblige them to pay him that reverence, and fear, and duty, which is owing to him? Therefore by this seed of religion, he really can mean nothing but an inclination to superstition. And to this purpose he speaks in the conclusion of the foregoing chapter. And this fear of things invisible, is the natural seed of that which every one in himself calleth religion; and in them that fear or worship that power otherwise than they do, superstition. Here is a notable distinction found out between religion and superstition; the former is the good word a man gives to himself, the other the nickname he bestows on those who differ from him.
But, in general, religion and superstition are the same chaP. thing to him ; unless a difference be found out from – the allowance of one, and not of the other. So he saith in another place: Fear of power invisible feign-Leviathan, ed by the mind, or imagined from tales publicly allow-“
ch. vi. p. 26. ed, is religion; not allowed, superstition. So that what is 'feigned and allowed is religion ; and what is not allowed is superstition. So that the worship of the heathen gods, being from tales publicly allowed, was religion, and not superstition; and the Christian worship under the persecution, was superstition and not religion. No, saith Mr. Hobbes. When the power imagined is such as we imagine, that is true religion. How can it be true religion, if religion be a fear of a power imagined by the mind, or from tales publicly allowed ? For if this be religion in general, true religion must be a true fiction; a real chimera, an allowed piece of nonsense. But when the power is such as we imagine it, then, saith he, it is true religion. But if it were a power imagined to be such as the law makes it, is not that true religion ? And if it contradicts what is so established, can this be according to Mr. Hobbes's true religion? Then it follows, that the distinction doth not arise from the public allowance or disallowance. For if it be possible for the civil power to disallow the worship of the true God, (as we know it hath too frequently happened,) is such worship, being disallowed, true religion ? If it be, then it is impossible the other should be true, that religion is taken from the public allowance, and superstition from the disallowance. But they who put in some expressions only for a disguise and concealment, know well enough that they contradict themselves; and they know their friends will allow them in it, as long as the true meaning may be understood by them: and the safest way of instil
BOOK ling atheism, is by writing contradictions, i.e. by seem
ing at some times to own a God, but by the whole series of the discourse to overthrow his being; as a mere fancy of an invisible power raised by a predominant fear. But hereby we see that fear prevails so much on such men, that they dare not speak consist
ently; which is very unbecoming philosophers. As Lescaloper the gross hypocrisy of Vaninus before his discovery, in Cic. de N. D. i. and the most servile flatteries and importunities of p. 127. ed. Par.
Theophile in France, did shew how much the power of fear may sway in those who have no religion, (which may be allowed in them.) But how comes fear to be
made out to be the seed of religion in mankind ? This Tract. The a true disciple to the Leviathan, in the preface to his olog. Polit.
book, hath undertaken to make out more fully than Mr. Hobbes had done; and therefore ought to be considered in this place. When men, saith he, are under any great distress, and see not the way out of it, their anxiety and fear makes them act like men distracted, and ask any one's help, which at another time they would despise : so we find it as to religion; when they are in great trouble, they run to their prayers; and when they are over, their devotion is soon cooled; as he instances in Alexander, and might have done in many others. But what is all this to the proof of the main point? That men are too prone to superstition, especially under calamities, there is no question. But it is a most unreasonable supposition, that all religion is nothing else but superstition, which men take up only when they are at their wits end. But if there be a God and Providence, as we find both the best philosophers asserted, and the strongest reason prove it, then whatever men's condition be as to this world, there is the same ground in reason for a due reverence and worship to be paid to him. But it is a very bad way of arguing against all religion, because of some men's CHAP. extravagant superstition. Some men have run mad _ with superstition. What follows? Therefore all religion is madness? Where lies any colour in the argument? Some have been mad through an excess of love; therefore all love is madness ? No; but we must inquire into the proper objects and degrees of love; whereof some are allowable, and some not. So here in the passion of fear; there is a violent, foolish, ungovernable fear; but may there not be a prudent, wise, and reasonable fear? It is madness and folly in great distresses to run to what cannot help us : but is it so to make our addresses to a Being infinitely wise and powerful, who alone can do it? Here lies the fundamental mistake of these men: they would have it taken for granted that there is no God nor Providence, and then they cry out upon the foolish fear and superstition of mankind : but they cannot deny, that, if our foundations be true, religion is a wise and reasonable thing in mankind; as it is an owning our Creator by a solemn submission to him, and invocation of his help, and dependence upon his providence. Let any man in his wits (let his condition as to this world be what it will) deny that it is reasonable for him to be governed by one infinitely wiser and better than himself. If his condition be prosperous, he hath more reason to be thankful; if it be troublesome, he hath more reason to be patient; because God knows best both how to support him under it, and to deliver him out of it. But if there be no God nor Providence, he hath nothing but the miserable comfort of necessity. But did not the multitude of gods in the Gentile world come from their ignorant and superstitious fear, as Mr. Hobbes hath at large shewed ? Truly he needed not to have taken so much pains to prove a thing which nobody denies.
BOOK But what then? The Gentiles feigned a great many
gods from their superstitious fear; therefore there is no God but what is the effect of fear. Is this good arguing? But they fancied 'powers invisible, which were only in their own imaginations. Therefore there is no invisible power but what depends upon imagination. Can such men pretend to reason, who talk at this rate? But those invisible powers they took to be spirits, and that they were incorporeal, or immaterial, which are words of a contradictory signification. This is news, and ought to have been proved in some measure, since the best philosophers, who understood contradictions, never thought so, as I have shewed already. But those who, by their meditation, arrive to the acknowledgment of one infinite, omnipotent, eternal God, chose rather to confess he is incomprehensible and above their understanding, than to define his nature by spirit incorporeal, and then confess their definition to be unintelligible. Do any, that believe God to be an immaterial substance, confess this to be unintelligible? I rather believe that they think a material God to be unintelligible, as being inconsistent with the Divine perfections. And although they acknowledge that what is infinite is so far incomprehensible, yet they may have clear and distinct conceptions of a first and eternal Cause, which is endued with infinite perfections. And this is not only attributed to him as a title of honour with a pious intention ; but from the true sense of their minds, as to such attributes which are proper
to God. Mr. Hobbes When Mr. Hobbes was charged with introducing &c. p. 30.' atheism, by denying immaterial or incorporeal sub
stances, he undertook to defend himself; not only be
cause we say God is incomprehensible, but because the P. 32. notion of an incorporeal substance came from Plato