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Instead of looking to Earth for the principles according to which men ought to regulate their conduct, religion searches for them in Heaven ; instead of founding morality upon thofe plain and obvious relations that sublift between iman and his feilow-creatures, religion founds it upon relations which are supposed to fubfift between man and certain unknown powers, placed in the inaccessible regions of the Empyreum. At the Divines of every country, what they mean by morality? they will tell you, it is the art of pleasing the Gods; that the Gods are offended when we offend men ; that 'the Gods will punih in this world, or the next, every crime committed againft fociety, and will reward virtuous actions. Ask these enlightened Sages, what is virtue? They will answer, it is the conformity of man's actions to the will of his God. But who is this God, whose will you publish upon earth ? He is, they will tell you, an incomprehensible Being, of whom mortals can form no idea. What are the views and designs of this Being, to which men are obliged to conform ? They are impenetrable to us ; but God has revealed the conduct which men ought to observe both in regard to himself and others. Have all the inhabitants of the earth the fame God? No; the different countries of this globe have different Gods, and different precepts from their Gods. They do not fpeak the faine language to the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, and the Europeans. Each religion prescribes different duties to its rotaries; and what the Deity orders or permits at one time or at one place, is ftri&tly forbid at other times and in other places.
If, in order to discover the divine designs and intentions, we consult the several revelations which we are told have been made to men, we find that it is impossible to conform ourselves to them, without violating the most evident rules of morality. In almost every system of religion upon earth, the Deity is represented as a furious and unjust lovereign; implacable in his anger; punishing the guilty without measure or proportion; making innocent children bear the iniquities of their fathers ; fetting do bounds to his vengeance ; and commanding, in the moit delpotic manner, perfidy, robbery, and carnage. In a word, even in those nations which are looked upon as the most civi. lized, religious adoration is paid io invitible Tyrants, who violate all the rules of morality, and whose example is fufficient to destroy every idea of duty in the minds of their worthippers.
Are caprice, therefore, cruelty, and the violation of every principle of equity, models fit to be proposed to reasonable Beings, formed to live in fociety? Is it not exciting them to crimes, to tell them that they ought to imitate Beings which are represented under the characters of the worst of men? The most horrid and outrageous acts of villainy, crimes the moft
Mocking to humanity, have been committed without fcruple or hesitation, under pretence of obeying and pleasing the Deity.
Paganism filled Olympus with a crowd of Deities, which mythology represents to us as monsters of luxury, debauchery, and infamy." Was not the conduct of a Jupiter, who filled heaven and earth with his crimes, sufficient to authorize the most determined libertinism?
Can any man, who has formed to himself the least idea of morality, without being totally blinded by his prejudices, propose to himself the jealous, inconstant, vindi&tive, sanguinary God of J--a for his model? Is a God, who is unjust to every nation, excepting that which his caprice made choice of for a peculiar people, a God of armies, and vengeance, a God who exterminates nations, a proper example for the imitation of any reasonable being who has ideas of goodness, justice, and humanity ? Unless we are completely intoxicated with enthusiasm, can we poslibly perceive infinite perfections in a God, who, in those very books which are said to be inspired by him, describes himself in the character of a Tyrant, who has a right to violate all the rules of morality, which yet are supposed to be dictated by his fupreme and sovereign pleasure ?
When we complain of so despotic a God, or of his conduct, which is so contrary to all the principles and notions of good men, bis minifters tell us, that divine justice is different from human justice, that the ways of God are not like the ways of men.
But when they talk at this rate, do they not undermine all the principles of morality? If justice, goodness, and the other perfections of God, are entirely different from justice, goodness, and other good qualities among men, what ideas can men posTibly form of them? If the justice and goodness of God allow him to act like what we call a Tyrant, that is, like an unjust sovereign, will not his worshippers be tempted to conclude, that he loves injustice and wickedness, and that they must do evil in order to find favour in his fight? A cruel and perverse sovereign will never think himself well served but by Naves who resemole hiin. Nor is the God of **
a safer guide to lead us into the paths of real virtue. This misanthropic Deity, in his gloomy and unsociable precepts, seems to have been entirely ignorant that he was speaking to men living in society. What indeed are we taught by his morality, which is so highly extolled by those who never feriously examined it? Why ít teaches uz to retire from the world, to deteft ourselves, to hate pleasure, to cherish grief and forrow, to despise knowledge, to prefer voluntary ignorance and poverty of spirit, to love nothing upon earth, and to be afraid of the esteem and app:obation of our fellow creatures. And what motives does
fore us in order to induce us to act a part so contrary to ada ture, lo repugnant to what we owe to society? It calks to us of another lite, where ineffable pleasures are laid up in store for those, who have voluntarily rendered themselves unbappy in the present world, and done nothing for the happiness of others. On the other hand, this religion threatens, with eternal punishment, those who fall refuse to practise these barren virtues, which it prefers to such as are truly useful in society. A Itupid credulity that never reasons, a vague hope of ideal felicity, a low, creeping bumility, sufficient to break every generous spring of action in the human breast, austerity, abftirence, voluntary punishment—these are the wonderful perfece tions which every
**** ********* must strive to attain ! This religion, it is true, places charity in the number of virtues; this charity confifts in loving a terrible Deity above every thing, and our neighbours as our felves; but in ******* ****** the love of our neighbours has never been a real, opera'tive virque: if we find it in the books of **********, it has ever been banishred from the hearts and from the conduct of their priefts. The mioiiters of the God of peace have, in every age, Thewn then selves the most unfociable, the most inhuman, and the Icaft indulgent of mankind. Under pretence of promoting the interests of heaven, they have a thouland times railed coria 'fulion and disorder upon earth, from a principle of hypocritical zeal or real fanaticifm. Eternally at variance with one atsother, they have engaged princes and nations in their fatal quarrels ; and, filled with a bloody, murdering charity, they have piously butchered their neighbours, whenever they refused to receive those opinions which they judged necessary to their eternal falvation. In a word, the religious spirit ever has been, and ever will be, incompatible with moderation, gendenes, justice, and humanity.
Nothing has ever been more hurtful to human morze lity, than to combine it with the morality of the Gods. By connecting a system of morality, plain and obvious in itsek, founded on reason and experience, with a mysterious religion, founded upon imagination and authority, we only perplex, weaker, and even destroy ire. Every man who reflects, is capable of knowing very plainly what is hurtful or disagreeable to his neighbour; but it is very difficult to know what offends the Gods, whom we never see but in the clouds, and of whom we can know noihing but from the discordant accounts that are given of them by their miniters and interpreters. Nothing is more easy tran to see the effeas which are produced upon our neighbour, by injustice, violence, and calumny; but nothing, excepting ihe imagination of mea, or the authority of their priests, marked under the name of re7
velation, can fhew us the effects wbich such things are capable of producing upon the Deity. According to almost every system of religion upon earth, what is hurtful and difpleasing, what is perfectly useless to those of our own species, is often very agreeable to the Gods, who are beings of a very different nature from ours. Every sensible man knows, by the light of nature, that assassination is a great crime ; but a devout *********, full of zeal, believes that nothing is more agreeable to his God than to calumniate a heretic, persecute him, and '. even put him to death ; because his priest has told him, that a heretic is a being to whom we can shew neither justice, goodness, nor humanity, without displeasing the Deity.
Nothing is of so little consequence to a nation, as a man's sentiments concerning religion ; it is sufficient that he acts the part of a virtuous and good citizen; and yet nothing is more execrable in the eyes of every priest, to whatever fet he belongs, than the man who refuses to believe the opinions and mysteries which the priest reveres, or who dares to call his. infallibility in question, and hid defiance to his authority. Want of faith is the most horrid of all crimes, according to the uniform doctrine of all those, whose opulence, titles, and existence are founded upon faith. Accordingly every religion abounds more or less with external observances, expiations, and lucrative ceremonies, the observation of which is ftrictly enjoined, and the omillion or 'contempt of which provoké heaven much more than those actions that are most pernicious to society, The ministers, of religion in every country, have jovented an infinite number of imaginary virtues and crimes, which have nothing in common with real morality.
It is to nature, therefore, to experience and reason, and not to the ministers of religion, we must have recourse, in order to discover what we owe to ourselves and what we owe to fociety. A fufpicious authority, a delirious fanaticism, uncer. tain hypothesis, and voluntary blindness, are guides on whom we can never rely. We have thus given a fufficient
specimen of this execrable System; our just censure of which is sufficiently expressed in the introductory part of the article : to which we all here only add, that we think it impoflible for any candid, intelligent, and well-difpofed perfon, even if he difoelieves the divine original of the Bible, not to feel a generous indignation against a writer, who is capable of misrepresenting in lo gross and inju. rious a manner, the most benevolent and most amiable system of morality that ever appeared among men; a system that breathes universal love and charity in every precept !--Bue such is toe ftyle in which all the wits and geniu'es of France, in this enlightened age, afe & to talk of RELIGION !
ART. XX. Cours d'Hippiatrique, ou Traité complet de la Médecine des Chevaux, &c.
-A complete Treatise on the Diseases of Horses, &c. adorned with fixty-five Plates, carefully engraved. By M. Lafolie. Folio;
imperial Paper. Paris, 1772. Sold by Elmfley in London, WE have here a very magnificent and useful work, upon a
branch of medical knowledge of great importance, not only to farriers and borse-doctors, but to every gentleman who is fond of horses, and desirous of being acquainted with the structure of one of the most noble and most useful of all animals, the diseases to which he is fubject, the manner of curing them, &c. &c.
M. Lafoffe's abilities in his profesion are well known to all Europe ; his advantages for being eminent in it have been very great, and the public is obliged to him for his Guide du Maréchal, published in 1766, and still more for the expensive and noble work now before us. The anatomical part of it, which is very full, and entirely new, has not, the Author tells us in his preface, been taken from books, but is the fruit of twenty years experience, during which time he has been employed in dillecting a very considerable number of horses, and in giving both public and private lectures upon the subject. His anatomical descriptions, he likewise declares, have been all made with the dissecting knife in his hand; and if many of them are different from the descriptions of preceding writers, the reason is, that frequent dissections have prevented him from falling into the same mistakes.
The Author likewise tells us, that he has carefully revised the treatise already mentioned, published in 1766, changed the arrangement of it, corrected several mistakes, and given it to the public, in the work before us, with many additional and important observations.
To the honour of our own country, be it likewise observed, that with respect to the Anatomy of the Horje we have, allo, a noble and accurate work, by that admirable artist Mr. STUBBS : See Review, vol. xxxvi. p. 160.
A R T XXI. Histoire de l'Academie Royale des Infcriptions et Belles Lettres, &c.-The
History of the Royal Academy of infcriptions and Belles Lettres, with Memoirs of Literature, taken from the Regiters of that Academy, from the Year 1764 to the Year 1766 inclusive.
Vols. XXXIV and XXXV. 410. Paris. — Article continued, THE Aourishing fate, the honours, and the splendor of this
Academy, as well as of many others in Europe, may fug. gest to men of letters a very useful reflection. They will see ibat nothing so effectually keeps up the spirit of literature as