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justify the conduct of the ancient Lawgivers in establishing religion; and to shew the infinite service of this institution to civil Society. Another use of it may be the gaining an exacter knowledge of the nature of the established religions in the pagan world: for, having the true theory of an Establishment, it serves as a straight line to discover all the obliquities to which it is applied.
I shall therefore consider the causes, which facilitated the establishment of religion in the ancient world; and likewise those causes which prevented the establishment from receiving its due form.
I. Ancient pagan religion consisted in the worship of local tutelary Deities; which, generally speaking, were supposed to be the author's of their civil Institutes. The consequence of this was, that the State, as well as particulars, was the suBJECT of religion. So that this religion could not but be national and established; that is, protected and encouraged by the civil Power. For how could that religion, which had the national God for its object; and the State, as an artificial man, for its subject, be other than national and established ?
II. But then these very things, which so much promoted an established rcligion, prevented the union's being made upon a just and equitable footing. 1. By giving a wrong idea of civil Society. 2. By not giving a right form to the religious.
1. It is nothing strange, that the ancients should have a wrong idea of civil Society; and should suppose it ordained for the cognizance of religious, as well as of civil matters, while they believed in a local tutelary Deity, by whose direction they were formed into
Community i Community; and while they held, that Society, as such, was the subject of religion, contrary to what has been shewn above, that the civil Society's offer of a voluntary alliance with the religious, proceeded from its having no power in itself to inforce the influence of religion to the service of the State.
2. If their religion constituted a proper Society, it was yet a Society dependent on the State, and therefore not sovereign. Now it appears that no voluntary alliance can be made, but between two independent sovereign Societies. But, in reality, Pagan religion did not constitute any Society at all.
For it is to be observed, that the unity of the object of faith, and conformity to a formula of dogmatic theology, as the terms of communion, are the great foundation and bond of a religious Society * Now these things were wanting in the several national religions of Paganism : in which there was only a conformity in public Ceremonies. The national Pagan religion therefore did not properly compose a Society; nor do we find by Antiquity, that it was ever considered under that idea; but only as part of the State; and in that view, indeed, had its particular Societies and Companies, such as the colleges of Priests and Prophets.
These were such errors and defects as destroyed much of the utility, which results from religious Estublishments, placed upon a right bottom. But yet religious Establishments they were; and, notwithstanding all their imperfections, served for many good purposes : such as preserving the being of Religion:
-bestowing additional veneration on the person of the Magistrate, and on the laws of the State :-giving
* See The Alliance between Church and State, Book I. Ch. 5.
the Magistrate the right of applying the civil efficacy of religion :—and giving Religion a coactive power for the reformation of manners. And thus much for
S E C T. VI.
THE last instance to be assigned of the Magistrate's care of religion, shall be that universal practice, in the ancient world, of religious TOLERATION; or the permitting the free exercise of all religions, how different soever from the National and Established. For though the very nature and terms of an Established religion implied the Magistrate's peculiar favour and protection; and though in fact, they had their Testlaws for its support, wherever there was diversity of worship; yet it was ancient policy to allow a large and full TOLERATION. And even in the extent of this allowance they seem generally to have had juster notions than certain of our modern Advocates for religious Liberty. They had no conception that any one should be indulged in his presumption of extending it to Religious Rites and practices hurtful to Society, or dishonourable to Humanity. There are many examples in Antiquity of this sage restriction. I shall only mention the universal concurrence in punishing Mugical Rites, by which the health and safety of particulars were supposed to be injuriously affected. And Suetonius's burning the sacred grove in Anglesea*,
in “ Præsidium posthac impositum victis, excisique Luci, SÆvis superstitionibus sacri. Nam cruore captivo adolere aras, et hominum fibris consulere deos fas habebant."
inn. 1. xiv. c. 30. ----- Superstition amongst the Greeks and Romans
in which human sacrifices were offered up by the Druids, was but the beginning of what those modern Advocates, above mentioned, would call a Persecution against the Order itself, whose obstinate perseverance in this infernal practice could not be overcome but by their total extirpation.
Two principal causes induced the ancient Lawgivers to the sage and reasonable conduct of a large and full toleration ;
I. They considered that Religion seldom or never makes a real impression on the minds of those who are forced into a profession of it: and yet, that all the service Religion can do to the State, is by working that real impression *. They concluded, therefore, that the profession of Religion should be FREE.
Hence may be understood the strange blindness of those modern Politicians, who expect to benefit the State by forcing men to outward conformity; which only making hypocrites and atheists, destroys the sole means religion hath of serving the State. But here, by a common fate of Politicians, they fell from one blunder into another. For having first, in a tyrannical adherence to their own scheme of Policy, or superstitious fondness for the established System of Worship, infringed upon religious Liberty; and then beginning
had its free course. But the sævæ superstitiones, the savage and cruel Rites, injurious and dishonourable to human nature and çivil Society, were rigorously forbidden.
In specie autem fictæ simulationis, sicut reliquæ virtutes, ita PIETAS inesse non potest; cum qua simul et sanctitatem et religionem tolli necesse est: quibus sublatis, perturbatio vitæ sequitur et magna confusio, Atque haud scio, an PIETATE adversus deos sublata fides etiam, et societas humani generis, et una excellentis. sima virtus, justitia tollatur, Cic. De pat. deor. l. i. c. 2,
to find, that diversity of Sects was hurtful to the State, as it always will be, while the rights of Religion are violated; instead of repairing the mistake, and restoring religious Liberty, which would have stifled this pullulating evil in the sced, by affording it no further nourishment, they took the other course; and endeavoured, by a thorough discipline of Conformity, violently to rend it away; and with it they rooted up and destroyed all that good to Society, which so natuFally springs from Religion, when it hath once taken fast hold of the human mind.
II. This was the most legitimate principle they went upon, and had the most lasting effect. They had another, which, though less ingenuous, was of more immediate influence; and this was the keeping up the warmth and vigour of religious impressions, by the introduction and toleration of new Religious and foreign Worship. For they supposed that piety " and virtue then chiefly influence the mind, while
men are busied in the performance of religious “ Rites and Ceremonies *;" as Tully observes, in the words of Pythagoras, the most celebrated of the pagan Lawgivers. Nor does this at all contradict the Roman maxim, as delivered by Posthumius in Livy (see p. 294.] For that maxim relates to publie Religion, or the Religion of the State; this concerns private Religion, or the religion of Particulars. Now vulgar Paganism being not only false, but highly absurd, as having its foundation solely in the fancy and the passions; variety of Worships was necessary to suit
Siquidem et illud bene dictum est a Pythagora, doctissimo viro, tum maxime et pietatem et religionem versari in animis, cum rebus divinis operam daremus. De Leg. 1. ii. c. 11.