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of Pagan Philosophy, I engaged, that if any writers more equal to the subject should come abroad, I would return their civility and fair argument in such sort as that the world should see I esteemed every sincere inquirer after truth rather as a friend to the public than an enemy to myself. Since that time, the misfortune I had of differing in opinion from some writers of great merit and learning has been the disagreeable occasion of reminding me of my promise.
[See Divine Legation, Book iv. § 6. sub. fin.] Of these, the first place would be due to my very learned friend, the Author of the elegant and useful Letter from Rome; who, taking entirely to himself what was meant in general of the numerous writers on the same subject, and the more numerous followers of the same hypothesis, hath done a* notion of mine the honour of his confutation, in a Postscript to that Letter. But the same friendly considerations, which induced him to end the Postscript with declaring his unwillingness to enter further into controversy with me, have disposed me not to enter into it at all. This, and neither any neglect of him, nor any force I apprehend in his arguments, have kept me silent. In the mean time, I owe so much both to myself and the public, as to take notice of a misrepresentation of my argument; and a change of the question in dispute between us: without which notice, the controversy (as I agree to leave it in his hands) could scarce receive an equitable decision. The misrepresentation I speak of is in these words: "He [the Author of the "D. L.] allows that the writers, who have undertaken to "deduce the rights of Popery from Paganism, have shewn an exact and surprising likeness between them "in a great variety of instances. This (says he) one "would think, is allowing every thing that the cause "demands: it is every thing, I dare say, that those "writers desire t." That it is every thing those writers desire, I can easily believe, since I see my learned friend himself hath taken it for granted, that these two asser* Div. Leg. lib. iy. § 6. sub, fin, † Postscript, p. 228.
tions, 1 The religion of the present Romans derived from that of their heathen ancestors; and 2. An exact conformity or uniformity rather of worship between Popery and Paganism, are convertible propositions. For, undertaking, as his title page informs us, to prove, the religion of the present Romans derived from that of their heathen ancestors; and having gone through his arguments, he concludes them in these words, "But it is high "time for me to conclude, being persuaded, if I do not "flatter myself too much, that I have sufficiently made good WHAT I FIRST UNDERTOOK TO PROVE, an exact conformity or uniformity rather of worship between Popery and Paganism *.* But what he undertook to prove, we see, was, The religion of the present Romans derived from their heathen ancestors. That I have, therefore, as my learned friend obscrves, allowed every thing those writers desire, is very likely. But then, whether I have allowed every thing that the cause demands, is another question. Which I think can never be determined in the affirmative, till it be shewn that no other probable cause can be assigned of this exact conformity between Papists and Pagans, but a borrowing or derivation from one to the other. And I guess, this is not now ever likely to be done, since I myself have actually assigned another probable cause, namely, the same spirit of superstition operating in equal circumstances.
But this justly celebrated writer goes on" This question, according to his [the Author of The Divine Legation] notion, is not to be decided by fucts, but by a principle of a different kind, a superior knowledge of human naturet." Here I am forced to complain of a want of candour, a want not natural to my learned friend. For, whence is it, I would ask, that he collects, that, according to my notion, this question is not to be decided by facts, but a superior knowledge of human nature? From any thing I have said? Or from any thing I have omitted to say? Surely, not from any thing I have said (though he seems to insinuate so much by putting the words a superior knowledge of human nature in Italic characters, as they are called because I leave him in possession of his facts, and give them all their Postscript, p. 228.
Letter, p. 224.
full validity; which he himself observes; and, from thence, as we see, endeavours to draw some advantage to his hypothesis: nor from any thing I have omitted to say; for, in the short paragraph where I delivered my opinion, and, by reason of its evidence, offered but one single argument in its support, that argument arises from a supposed FACT, viz. that the superstitious customs in question were many ages later than the conversion of the imperial city to the Christian faith: whence I concluded that the ruling churchmen could have no motive in borrowing from Pagan customs, either as they were then fashionable in themselves, or respectable for the number or quality of their followers. The supposition I could easily convert into a proof, were I not restrained by the considerations before spoken of. And what makes this the more extraordinary is, that my learned friend himself immediately afterwards quotes these words; and then tells the reader that the argument consists of an HISTOTORICAL FACT and of a consequence deduced from it. It appears therefore, that, according to my notion, the question is to be decided by facts, and not by a superior knowledge of human nature. Yet I must confess I then thought, and do so still, that a superior knowledge of human nature would do no harm, as it might enable men to judge better of facts than we generally find them accustomed to do. But will this excuse a candid representer for saying, that the question, according to my notion, was not to be decided by facts, but a superior knowledge of human nature? However, to do my learned friend all justice, I must needs say, that, as if these were only words of course, or words of controversy, he goes on, through the body of his Postscript, to invalidate my argument from fact; and we hear no more of a superior knowledge of human nature than in this place where it was brought in to be laughed at.
As to the argument, it must even shift for itself. It has done more mischief already than I was aware of: and forced my learned friend to extend his charge from the modern to the ancient church of Rome. For my argument, from the low birth of the superstitions in question, coming against his hypothesis after he had once and again declared the purpose of his Letter to be the
exposing the heathenish idolatry and superstition of the
*Letter from a Gentleman of Lincoln's-Inn, p. 55.
spoke of Answerers by profession, I meant Lawyers by profession; who, without flattering them, I may say, deserve as little the character there given of the said answerers as I do the calumnies here bestowed by this letter-writer.
But his charge of contradiction was excusable. The Doctor had led him up to the primitive church, and there he found me; and there he supposed I had always been: and seeing me not quite conformable to the Doctor's decisions, he would quarrel with me for a schismatic. But I can easily overlook this (that he took upon trust, as he did his Greek) for the sake of so charitable an office as the teaching me how to write; which he kindly professes to be the whole purpose of his Letter.
My learned friend will excuse my speaking thus much of a controversy which he knows, from the time of the first publication of his Postscript, I had intended not to keep up. But thus much was necessary to state it truly, and to hold it fairly on the foot whereon he first placed it, and I had left it. As to the subject itself, so curious and interesting, if ever I should be disposed to treat it at large, as possibly I may, I would chuse to do it in thesi, and not in prosecution of any particular controversy.
[See Divine Legation, Book iv. § 4.]
THE first writer I am concerned with is the Reverend Dr. Richard Pococke: who, in his late Book of Travels, hath a Chapter on the ancient Hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, wherein, in opposition to my account of the nature of that kind of writing, he expresseth himself as follows-" If hieroglyphical figures stood for words or "sounds that signified certain things, the power of 'hieroglyphics scems to be the same as of a number of "letters composing such a sound, that by agreement was made to signify such a thing. For hieroglyphics, as words, seem to have stood for sounds, and sounds signify things; as for instance, it might have been "agreed that the figure of a crocodile might stand for "the sound that meant what we call malice: the children