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Came Fools ; And then as an Instance of this it is added, They changed the Glory of the Incorruptible God, into the Image of Corruptible Man, and to Birds, and four-footed Beafts, and creeping Things: From which it appears that their bringing in of Idolatry, altho' it was the Proof of their Folly, yet it was the Project of their Wisdom.
It was the Wise amongst them that form’d the Design, and addrest to the Multitude with a grave appearance, and prevail'd (as we may conceive) by some such Form of Arguing as this.
are all aware, ye Sons of Noah, that “ Religion is our Chief Concern, and « therefore it well becomes us to improve « and advance That as much as possi« ble: And alcho' we have receiv'd Ap
pointments from God for the WorThip chat he requires, yet pointments may be alter'd for his
grea. ci ter Glory, who doubts but it will be "a commendable Piety so to alter them?
if these ap
« Now our Father Noah has instituted
us in a Religion, which in truth is too * Simple, and coo Unaffecting ; Ic “ directs us to worship God abstractedly from all Sense, and under a con« fus'd Nocion ; under the formality of “ Attributes, as Power, Goodness, Ju“ ftice, VVisdom, Eternity, and the “ like ; an Idea which we neither fufficiently reach, nor does that sufficient
ly reach our Affections: whereas '« in all Reason we ought to worship “ God more pompoully, and more 'ex
tensively too, than in his own Essence, “ We ought not only to adore his Per“sonal Attributes, but likewise all the “ Emanacions of them, and all those “ Creatures, by whom they are eminent“ ly represented ; this will ftir up and
quicken and direct our Devotion. “ Nor let any say that this Method will derogate from the Honour of the Crea
tor ; certainly it is most expressive of “ his Honour, when we acknowledge, that not only Himself but even his
“ Creatures are Adorable. We ought “therefore (if we will be Wise) to wor. “ ship the Host of Heaven ; or rather “ to worship God through them, because they are eminent Representations of “ his Glory and Eternity: We ought to « worship the Elements because they
represent his Benign, and Sustaining " and Ubiquitary Presence : We ought “ to worship the Ox and the Sheep, and “whatever Creatures are most beneficial, « because they are the Symbols of his " Love and Goodness : And with no « less Reason, the Serpent, the Croco. “ dile and other noxious Animals, bé.
cause they are the Symbols of his aw. “ ful Anger. Thus it is that we shall « worship him more intensly, and feel " and be affected with our Worship.
Now to Men dispos’d with a Desire to be wise in Religion above what was prescrib'd, there is no doubt but such Arguments as these would soon seem wile and weighty enough, to enforce
their Design. But there was another part of Idolatry which obtain'd first, and spread farthest, that Wisdom had yet more moving Pretences to establish it upon. The first Fruits of Idolatry was offered up to Men ; as we learn in this Chap. from the Verse following, and more at large from Wild. 14. where we are told that Princes were worshipp'd ; whether Present, in their persons; or Distant, by their Statues and Pictures ; And then that Men Inferiour to Princes, bur eminent in their Generation for any beneficent or obliging Qualities, were worshipped after their Death. As for the worship of Princes we have no reafon to doubt but it was as high and as early as Nimrod himself : Belus and Jupiter, Names by which he was known in other Regions, import no less than his Deification : So that tho he fail'd in building his Tower to Heaven ; which was a haughty attempt, that God thought fit to check and repress ; yer he fail'd
not to build up himself to Heaven in the Estimation of his Admirers; which was a Judgment that God thought fit to permit upon those that so boldly sought it.
As for the Deifying of Princes, Wildom suggested that They were the Representatives of God's Power upon Earth; to which Character worship was reaso. nably due : And not only so, but be. causé such an Adoration would best conduce to the good Government of the World, forasmuch as it added a new Obligation to Peace and Submission; and made it of Religious, as well as Ci. vil Importance.
As for the Worshiping of those among the Dead, who had been famous in their Generation (such as former Ages vulgar: ly stiled Heroes, and Modern the Beacify'd, or the Saints) Wisdom had abundance to alledge for this establishcent. As,
(1.) That such an Honour bestow'd upon the Vertuous was but a proper