The Natural History of Religion (Google eBook)
As every enquiry, which regards religion, is of the utmost importance, there are two questions in particular, which challenge our attention, to wit, that concerning its foundation in reason, and that concerning its origin in human nature. Happily, the first question, which is the most important, admits of the most obvious, at least, the clearest solution. The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion. But the other question, concerning the origin of religion in human nature, is exposed to some more difficulty. The belief of invisible, intelligent power has been very generally diffused over the human race, in all places and in all ages; but it has neither perhaps been so universal as to admit of no exception, nor has it been, in any degree, uniform in the ideas, which it has suggested. Some nations have been discovered, who entertained no sentiments of Religion, if travellers and historians may be credited; and no two nations, and scarce any two men, have ever agreed precisely in the same sentiments. It would appear, therefore, that this preconception springs not from an original instinct or primary impression of nature, such as gives rise to self-love, affection between the sexes, love of progeny, gratitude, resentment; since every instinct of this kind has been found absolutely universal in all nations and ages, and has always a precise determinate object, which it inflexibly pursues. The first religious principles must be secondary; such as may easily be perverted by various accidents and causes, and whose operation too, in some cases, may, by an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances, be altogether prevented. What those principles are, which give rise to the original belief, and what those accidents and causes are, which direct its operation, is the subject of our present enquiry.
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absurd adoration AESCULAPIUS affirm ages allegory ancient animal appear apprehensions argument ascribe assent AUGUSTUS barbarous believe BRASIDAS capricious Catholics conceived conception contradiction corruption devotion DIODORUS SICULUS doctrine EGYPTIAN embraced endeavour enquiries concerning entertained entirely EPICURUS frame of nature Freemasonry gods GREEKS heathen heaven HERODOTUS HESIOD hopes and fears human creatures human nature human passions idea idolaters idolatry ignorant multitude imagination impiety impious infidelity invisible power JUPITER justly kind learned LUCRETIUS magnificent MAHOMETANISM mankind men's mind morals mythologists mythology nations NEPTUNE never objects observe opinion origin pagan particular perfect philosophers PLATO polytheism polytheists popular religions praise priests principles profane propensity reason refined regard religionist religious represent rise rites ROMAN sacred mysteries says scarcely sceptical sects sentiment species sublime superior superstition supposed supreme intelligence system of theology temple terrors theism theology THESEUS thing tradition universe unknown causes VENUS virtue votaries vulgar whence whole worship XENOPHON
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The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity
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