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wonder if she Nights human ordinances, and refuses to comply with any established form of religion, as thinking herself directed by a much superior guide.
As Enthusiasm is a kind of excess in devotion, Superstition is the excess not only of devotion, but of religion in general; according to an old Heathen saying, quoted by Aulus Gellius, Religentem elle oportet ; religiofum nefas; A man should be religious, not superstitious; for, as the author tells us, Nigidius observed upon this passage, that the Latin words which terminate in osus generally imply vicious characters, and the having of any quality to an excess.
An Enthusiast in religion is like an obftinate clown, a superstitious man like an insipid courtier. Enthusiasm has something in it of madness, Superstition of folly. Most of the Sects that fall short of the Church of England, have in them strong tinctures of Enthusiasm, as the Roman Catholic Religion is one huge oyer-grown body of childish and idle Superstitions.
The Roman Catholic Church seems indeed irrecoverably lost in this particular. If an absurd dress or behaviour be
introduced in the world, it will soon be -found out and discarded : On the contrary, a habit or ceremony, cho' never so ridiculous, which has taken sanctuary in the Church, sticks in it for ever. A Gothic Bishop, perhaps, thought it proper to repeat such a form in such particular shoes or Nippers ; another fancied it would be very decent if such a part of public devotions were performed with a Mitre on his head, and a Crofier in his hand : To this a brother Vandal, as wise as the others, adds an antick dress, which he conceived would allude very aptly to such and such mysteries, 'cill by degrees the whole office was de generated into an empty show. i
Their fucceffors see the vanity and inconvenience of these ceremonies ; but instead of reforming, perhaps add others, which they think more significant, and which take poffeffion in the fame manner, and are never to be driven out after they have been once admitted. I have seen the Pope officiate at St. Peter's, where, for two hours together, he was busied in putting on or off his different accoutrements, according to the different parts he was to act in them,
Noo :- Nothing is so glorious in the eyes of mankind, and ornamental to human nature, fetting aside the infinite advantages which arise from it, as a strong steady masculine piety; but Enthusiasm and Superftition are the weaknesses of human reason, that expofe us to the scorn and derision of Infidels, and sink us even below the Beasts that perish.
Idolatry may be looked upon as another error arising from mistaken Devotion ; but because reflections on that subject would be of no use to an English reader I fhall not enlarge upon it. .
Omnibus in terris, quæ funt à Gadibus ufque
TN my last Saturday's paper I laid down
some thoughts upon Devotion in general, and shall here shew what were the notions of the most refined Heathens on this subject, as they are represented in Plato's dialogue upon Prayer, intitled Alcibiades the Second, which doubtless gave occasion to Juvenals tenth Sa
tire, and to the second Satire of Persius ; as the last of these authors has almost tranfcribed the preceding dialogue, intitled, Alcibiades the First, in his fourth Sacire. .. in · The speakers in this dialogue upon Prayer, are Socrates and Alcibiades ; and the substance of it (when drawn together out of the intricacies and digressions) as follows. .
Socrates meeting his pupil Alcibiades, as he was going to his devotions, and observing his eyes to be fixed upon the earth with great seriousness and attention, tells him, that he had reason to be thoughtful on that occasion, since it was possible for a man to bring down evils upon himself by his own Prayers, and that those things which the Gods send him in answer to his petitions might turn to his destruction : This, says he, may not only happen when a man prays for what he knows is mischievous in its own nature, as Oedipus implored the Gods to fow dissension between his fons, but when he prays for what he believes would be for his good, and against what he believes would be to his detriment. This the Philosopher shews must necessa. I 2
rily rily happen among us, fince most men are blinded with ignorance, prejudice, or paffion, which hinder them from seeing such things as are really beneficial to them. For an instance, he asks Alçibiades, Whether he would not be thoroughly pleased and satisfied if that God to whom he was going to address himself, thould promise to make him the sovereign of the whole earth ? Alcibiades answers, that he should doubtless look upon such a promise as the greatest favour that could be bestowed upon him. Socrates then asks him, If after receiving this great favour he would be contented to lose his life? Or if he would receive it though he was sure he should make an ill use of it? To both which questions Alcibiades answers in the negative. Socrates then shews him from the examples of others, how these might probably be the effects of such a blesing. He then adds, That other reputed pieces of good fortune, as that of having a fon or procuring the highest poft in a government, are subject to the like fatal consequences ; which nevertheless, says he, men ardently desire, and would not fail to pray for, if they thought their