pg 60Critical ApparatusSECTION 9
Comparison of these Religions, with regard to Persecution and Toleration
1Polytheism or idolatrous worship, being founded entirely in vulgar tra-2ditions, is liable to this great inconvenience, that any practice or opinion, 3however barbarous or corrupted, may be authorized by it; and full scope Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus4is given, for knavery to impose on credulity, till morals and humanity be Critical Apparatus5expelled from the religious systems of mankind. At the same time, idolatry 6is attended with this evident advantage, that, by limiting the powers and 7functions of its deities, it naturally admits the gods of other sects and nations Critical Apparatus8to a share of divinity, and renders all the various deities, as well as rites, 9ceremonies, or traditions, compatible with each other.42 Theism is opposite 10both in its advantages and disadvantages. As that system supposes one sole 11Deity, the perfection of reason and goodness, it should, if justly prosecuted, 12banish every thing frivolous, unreasonable, or inhuman from religious wor-13ship, and set before men the most illustrious example, as well as the most 14commanding motives, of justice and benevolence. These mighty advan-15tages are not indeed overbalanced, (for that is not possible) but somewhat 16diminished, by inconveniencies, which arise from the vices and prejudices 17of mankind. While one sole object of devotion is acknowledged, the worship 18of other deities is regarded as absurd and impious. Nay, this unity of object 19seems naturally to require the unity of faith and ceremonies, and furnishes Critical Apparatus20designing men with a pretence for representing their adversaries as profane, Critical Apparatus21and the objects of divine as well as human vengeance. For as each sect is 22positive that its own faith and worship are entirely acceptable to the Deity, 23and as no one can conceive, that the same being should be pleased with Editor’s Note24different and opposite rites and principles; the several sects fall naturally pg 611into animosity, and mutually discharge on each other that sacred zeal and 2rancour, the most furious and implacable of all human passions.
3The tolerating spirit of idolaters, both in ancient and modern times, is 4very obvious to any one, who is the least conversant in the writings of 5historians or travellers. When the oracle of Delphi was asked, What rites or Critical Apparatus6worship was most acceptable to the gods? "Those which are legally established Editor’s Note7in each city," replied the oracle.43 Even priests, in those ages, could, it seems, Editor’s Note8allow salvation to those of a different communion. The Romans commonly 9adopted the gods of the conquered people; and never disputed the attributes Critical Apparatus10of those local and national deities, in whose territories they resided. The Editor’s Note11religious wars and persecutions of the Egyptian idolaters are indeed an 12exception to this rule; but are accounted for by ancient authors from reasons Critical Apparatus13singular and remarkable. Different species of animals were the deities of Critical Apparatus14the different sects among the Egyptians; and the deities being in continual Editor’s Note15war, engaged their votaries in the same contention. The worshippers of 16dogs could not long remain in peace with the adorers of cats or wolves.44 Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus17But where that reason took not place, the Egyptian superstition was not so 18incompatible as is commonly imagined; since we learn from Herodotus,45 19that very large contributions were given by Amasis towards rebuilding the 20temple of Delphi.
21The intolerance of almost all religions, which have maintained the unity Critical Apparatus22of God, is as remarkable as the contrary principle of polytheists. The Editor’s Note23implacable narrow spirit of the Jews is well known. Mahometanism set out 24with still more bloody principles; and even to this day, deals out damnation, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus25though not fire and faggot, to all other sects. And if, among Christians, 26the English and Dutch have embraced the principles of toleration, this 27singularity has proceeded from the steady resolution of the civil magistrate, 28in opposition to the continued efforts of priests and bigots.
Editor’s Note29The disciples of Zoroaster shut the doors of heaven against all but Editor’s Note30the Magians.46 Nothing could more obstruct the progress of the Persian 31conquests, than the furious zeal of that nation against the temples and 32images of the Greeks. And after the overthrow of that empire, we find Editor’s Note33Alexander, as a polytheist, immediately re-establishing the worship of the 34Babylonians, which their former princes, as monotheists, had carefully 35abolished.47 Even the blind and devoted attachment of that conqueror to 36the Greek superstition hindered not but he himself sacrificed according to 37the Babylonish rites and ceremonies.48
pg 62Critical Apparatus1So sociable is polytheism, that the utmost fierceness and antipathy, which Critical Apparatus2it meets with in an opposite religion, is scarcely able to disgust it, and keep Editor’s Note3it at a distance. Augustus praised extremely the reserve of his grandson, Critical Apparatus4Caius Cæsar, when this latter prince, passing by Jerusalem, deigned not Critical Apparatus5to sacrifice according to the Jewish law. But for what reason did Augustus 6so much approve of this conduct? Only, because that religion was by the 7Pagans esteemed ignoble and barbarous.49
8I may venture to affirm, that few corruptions of idolatry and polytheism Critical Apparatus9are more pernicious to society than this corruption of theism,50 when Editor’s Note10carried to the utmost height. The human sacrifices of the Carthaginians, Editor’s NoteCritical Apparatus11Mexicans, and many barbarous nations,51 scarcely exceed the inquisition 12and persecutions of Rome and Madrid. For besides, that the effusion of 13blood may not be so great in the former case as in the latter; besides this, 14I say, the human victims, being chosen by lot, or by some exterior signs, 15affect not, in so considerable a degree, the rest of the society. Whereas 16virtue, knowledge, love of liberty, are the qualities, which call down the Editor’s Note17fatal vengeance of inquisitors; and when expelled, leave the society in the 18most shameful ignorance, corruption, and bondage. The illegal murder of 19one man by a tyrant is more pernicious than the death of a thousand by 20pestilence, famine, or any undistinguishing calamity.
Editor’s Note21In the temple of Diana at Aricia near Rome, whoever murdered the 22present priest, was legally entitled to be installed his successor.52 A very 23singular institution! For, however barbarous and bloody the common 24superstitions often are to the laity, they usually turn to the advantage of the 25holy order.
42 Editor’s Note1Verrius Flaccus, cited by Pliny, lib. 28. cap. 2. affirmed, that it was usual for the Romans, Critical Apparatus2before they laid siege to any town, to invocate the tutelar deity of the place, and by promising him Critical Apparatus3greater honours than those he at present enjoyed, bribe him to betray his old friends and votaries. 4The name of the tutelar deity of Rome was for this reason kept a most religious mystery; lest the 5enemies of the republic should be able, in the same manner, to draw him over to their service. 6For without the name, they thought, nothing of that kind could be practiced. Pliny says, that the 7common form of invocation was preserved to his time in the ritual of the pontifs. And Macrobius 8has transmitted a copy of it from the secret things of Sammonicus Serenus.
44 1Plutarch. de Isid. & Osiride.
45 1Lib. 2. sub fine.
46 1Hyde, de Relig. vet. Persarum.
47 1Arrian. de exped. lib. 3. Id. lib. 7.
48 1Id. ibid.
49 1Sueton. in vita Aug. cap. 93.
51 Critical Apparatus1Most nations have fallen into this guilt of human sacrifices; though, perhaps, that impious 2superstition has never prevailed very much in any civilized nation, unless we except the 3Carthaginians. For the Tyrians soon abolished it. A sacrifice is conceived as a present; and any Critical Apparatus4present is delivered to their deity by destroying it and rendering it useless to men; by burning 5what is solid, pouring out the liquid, and killing the animate. For want of a better way of doing 6him service, we do ourselves an injury; and fancy that we thereby express, at least, the heartiness 7of our good-will and adoration. Thus our mercenary devotion deceives ourselves, and imagines it 8deceives the deity.
52 1Strabo, lib. 5. Sueton. in vita Cal.