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worship of the heavens, and their animating power, is traced in the texture of primitive language, and in the remains of the most ancient worship. The transition from the worship of the heavens to the worship of the heavenly bodies is easy and obvious. The belief in the immortality of the soul naturally led to the belief that the dead, though divested of their grosser body, have not laid aside their cares and solicitudes for the living, but that they are still present with their posterity, and are become the protectors of their families and of their nations. As the heavenly bodies were worshipped, either when visible in the heavens, or if in the gloom of temples, by their emblem, the sacred fire; so deceased heroes were worshipped by rudely carved images, or teraphim, and hence the origin of idolatry. As long as the world was considered merely in parts, these parts alone were deified; but when philosophy arose, the world began to be considered as a whole; the scattered parts and their animating principles were re-united, and the separate deities of Polytheism were either absorbed into the soul of the world, or considered as emanations from the fountain of mind. But philosophy took a second step, and from reducing all the portions of the world to two eternal substances, matter and mind, reduced these two

into one,—mind, which alone has real existence, and which becomes matter by defect merely, as it flows dark and languid around its circumference, though glowing, and energetic, and spiritual, at its centre, or heart: and hence the emanative system. Philosophy took a third step, and considered that that which in itself is infinite and one, can never in reality be many and finite, and that if we do not perceive in all things the one and absolute Being, this must be attributed to a peculiar illusion,-the Maya of the Hindoos: and hence the strict Pantheistic system. In the above classes are included all the systems that have ever prevailed among nations destitute of revelation. When Christianity was proclaimed, there were two ways of receiving it, either for men to forsake their superstitions, and their systems of philosophy, falsely so called, and to receive in sincerity “the truth as it is in Jesus;” or to endeavour to form an alliance between Christianity and their former opinions. The latter attempt gave rise to the early heresies. The Jewish heresies consisted chiefly in endeavouring to preserve the authority of Moses and their ancient law, by reducing the Messiah and the Christian revelation to the same level. The early Gentile or Gnostic heresies consisted in attempting to incorporate Christianity with that modification of the emanative system then prevalent in the west of Asia. The Gnostic philosophy consisted in the belief of the stream of existence flowing from its divine fountain through a number of personifications, such as life, light, and wisdom, which they named Æons, till it reached its dark and impure termination in becoming matter; or in beings possessed of those malignant qualities which union with matter was supposed to occasion: and the whole of their practical religion and philosophy consisted in endeavouring to escape from matter, and in purifying the heavenly spark within them, that it might return to the original source of light. After the Gnostics had perished, less by the opposition of Christians than by the powerful arms of Porphyry, who attacked both Christianity and Gnosticism at once, the heresies among Christians arose chiefly from the wish to explain and ascertain the doctrine of the Trinity, and the equality or inferiority of the three Persons, by the help of the philosophy most prevalent in those days. And, accordingly, their reasonings concerning the Trinity, and the various disputes that occurred in consequence, proceed chiefly upon some modification of the emanative system. But, while Gentile philosophy was thus distracting the learned, Gentile superstition was making rapid inroads upon the vulgar. In addition to the high mysteries of Christian Pantheism, there were also introduced the mummeries of a Christian Poly

theism. Popery, which is merely baptized Paganism, began to rear its head, and to replace the ancient idols under new names. In the mysticism of the dark ages, we have a milder Pantheism, united to the doctrines of Christianity; and, in the midst of many hurtful mistakes, often breathing sentiments of true and fervent piety. The Reformation was a gradual work; the whole body of error was not cast off at once, but one error was rejected after another. Of course, the sooner the reformation in any country came to a stand, the more numerous were the errors that were retained. The reformers are, however, superior to their disciples; they were more freed from the trammels of human authority, and appealed more directly to the very words of Scripture. Scholastic theology and artificial systems began to revive amongst the reformed, perhaps a good deal from the example and influence of Melancthon, the first systematic writer among the reformed, whose genius was of a tamer cast, though his scholarship was great, and who, too submissive to former authority, wanted the fervid and commanding mind of Luther, or the philosophic understanding of Calvin. The freedom of the reformation gave rise to the latitudinarian theology, and the self-entitled rational divines, falsely so called,—men who misinterpreted the maxim, that the Scriptures could contain nothing contrary to reason, and supposed that the Scriptures were to retain nothing which was contrary to their ignorance and prejudice. That a truth should be agreeable to reason, is one thing, and that it should be agreeable to the reasoning of every shallow thinker, is another. True theology is conformable to reason enlarged and enlightened by revelation; but rational theology, as it is called, conforms itself to the reasonings and the mistakes of each individual, and changes its shape continually, like a cloud blown by the wind. Rational theology at its birth is Arminianism; in its growth it passes through the different shades of Arianism; and, in its short-lived maturity, is Socinianism. While Socinianism itself is handing over its pupils, with more rapidity than it receives them, to the inner school of infidelity,+and infidelity, without any stable tenets of its own, is accelerating the progress of the initiated, through its slight variety of changes, towards total scepticism, or Atheism, and the want of all principles or belief is predisposing the mind to the reception of any tenets that may present themselves, however absurd, in order to fill up the rayless and hopeless vacancy of unbelief. With respect to the errors in religious belief which are peculiar to the present time, we may remark, that they are very insignificant, when compared with those of ancient times. They are the offspring of men who possess no great vigour of

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