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gave the alarm to the public in the following emphatic language, which merits well to be considered. “Nor are Christians themselves so much out of danger of being seduced by these Heathenish notions about an intelligent world (the stoical anima mundi,) but that even in these times there is lately sprung up a sect of men, as well professing Christianity as pretending to philosophy; who, (if I be not misinformed of their doctrine) do very much symbolize with the ancient Heathens, and talk much indeed of God, but mean such a one as is not really distinct from the animated and intelligent universe ; but is on that account very differing from the true God whom we Christians believe and worship. And though I find the leaders of this sect to be looked upon by some more witty than knowing men, as the discoverers of unheardof mysteries in physics and natural theology, yet their hypothesis does not at all appear to to me to be new, &c.” Then he proceeds to shew, that this philosophical God, which is not essentially different from Nature, was the Deity of the Heathen philosophers, citing such passages as that of Seneca, Nihil natura sine Deo est, nec Deus sine natura, sed IDEM est uterque.
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How near the expressions of our Doctor Halley approach to an avoval of this Heathen opinion in his eulogium on the Newtonian philosophy, let any impartial person judge, when he has considered the sense of them. And here let me observe by the way, that it is to no purpose for any man to tell us that these things are popular, and must not be spoken against: they ought to be spoken against for that very reason; because the whole world does not afford a greater temptation to error than long established popularity; on which consideration, all men who wish to chain down others to their own favourite errors, are for ever ringing this popularity in their ears. To go on therefore with Doctor Halley, whose sentiments concerning God and Nature, are communicated in the following lines :
En tibi norma poli, & divæ libramina Molis,
Here the Moles, or mass of matter which constitutes the world, has the spithet diva ascribed to it, which makes it divine: and in another part of the same poem the epithet is given to Nature,
jamque abdita DiÆ Claustra patent NATURÆ
Then the computus Jovis, or calculation of Jupiter, supposing it to allude to the motions of the heavenly bodies, must imply that the visible world is Jupiter, as it stands in the Heathen poet-Jupiter est quodcunque vides : and this seems farther evident from the sentiment which is explanatory of it, viz. that the Creator (supposing Jupiter to be he) gave laws to himself; which is true if God and Nature are the same thing; because in that case the laws given to Nature, will be laws imposed upon God. The Psalmist, who distinguishes rightly between the works and the work-master, says,
“ he gave them a law which shall not be broken :” and Mr. Boyle, in his treatise above referred to, hath well remarked, that." God when he made the world, and established the laws of motion, gave them to Matter, and not to himself”;" as if he had been censuring that expression of Dr. Halley, which has been the subject of our present animadversion. If
any other philosophers have been betrayed by the authority of great names, into • Edit. 1685-6. P. 158.
the belief of this strange doctrine, it cannot be wondered at, if such are found but badly disposed for the reception of the Christian mysteries: for what concord hath Heathen Jupiter with the Christian Trinity? What arguments can be strong enough to persuade those men of a divine co-equal personality in the Godhead, who have relapsed into the reveries of Stoicism, and are the votaries of an anima mundi, an intelligent universe, a Deity immersed in matter? To such, the notion of a co-eternal Son of God, Creator of all things that exist, and who shall be still the same when nature shall wax old, and the heavens shall vanish away, must of necessity be contemptible and incredible: and this I apprehend to be one reason why we have so many Arians among the professed admirers of natural philosophy, thus falsely understood.
Let it not be said that I take any pleasure in censuring: a captious censor is an odious character. If the question should be put to me, “ who made thee a ruler and a judge?”
am ready to answer for myself, that I shall never wish to rule where so few are inclined to obey; and that I shall never judge where my duty will permit me to excuse. country hasting to ruin on many different
I see my
principles; and I point out one of them, which is the most pernicious of all, if it is not in fact the mother of all the rest.
I only say what must be said by somebody, if we are ever to be reclaimed from the perilous consequences of Pagan corruption : if not, liberavi animam meam. . Should any person ask me how Christianity is to be banished out of Christendom, as the predictions of the Gospel give us reason to expect it will be, 'I should make no scruple to answer, that it will certainly be brought to pass by this growing affection to Heathenism”. And therefore it is devoutly to be wished that some censor would arise with the zeal and spirit of Martin Luther, to remonstrate effectually against this indulgence of Paganism, which is more fatal to the interests of Christianity than all the abuses purged away at the Reformation. This is now the grand abuse, against which the zeal of a Luther, and the wit of an Erasmus, ought to be directed: it is the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not, even in the sanctuary of Christianity, and is a worse offence than all the profanations that
* Is not this conjecture of the Author, in the year 1776, now confirmed, by what hath lately happened in France ?