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altogether an useless and unprofitable restraint: for as men ate formed
for society, and have an absolute necessity and dependance upon one
another; so there is a retirement of the soul, with which it converses
in heaven, even in the midst of men; and indeed no man is more fit to
speak freely, than he who can, without any violence himself, refrain his
tongue, or keep silence altogether. As to religion, it is by this the
foul gets acquainted with the hidden mysteries of the holy writings;
here she finds those floods of tears, in which good men wash themselves
day and night, and only makes a visit to God, and his holy angels. In
this conversation the truest peace and most solid joy are to be found;
it is a continual feast of contentment on earth, and the means of
attaining everlasting happiness in heaven.


Honesty is a virtue beloved by good men, and pretended to by all other
persons. In this there are several degrees: to pay every man his own is
the common law of honesty: but to do good to all mankind, is the
chancery law of honesty: and this chancery court is in every man's
breast, where his conscience is a Lord Chancellor. Hence it is, that a
miser, though he pays every body their own, cannot be an honest man,
when he does not discharge the good offices that are incumbent on a
friendly, kind, and generous person: for, faith the prophet Isaiah,
chap. XXXII. ver. 7, 8. _The instruments of a churl are evil: he
deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when
the needy speaketh right. But the liberal soul deviseth liberal things,
and by liberal things shall he stand_. It is certainly honest to do
every thing the law requires; but should we throw every poor debtor into
prison till he has paid the utmost farthing, hang every malefactor
without mercy, exact the penalty of every bond, and the forfeiture of
every indenture, this would be downright cruelty, and not honesty: and
it is contrary to that general rule, _To do to another, that which you
would have done unto you_. Sometimes necessity makes an honest man a
knave: and a rich man a honest man, because he has no occasion to be a
knave. The trial of honesty is this: Did you ever want bread, and had
your neighbour's loaf in keeping, and would starve rather than eat it?
Were you ever arrested, having in your custody another man's cash, and
would rather go to gaol, than break it? if so, this indeed may be
reckoned honesty. For King Solomon tells us, _That a good name is better
than life, and is a precious ointment, and which, when a man has once
lost, he has nothing left worth keeping_.

CHAP. III _Of the present state of Religion in the world_.

I doubt, indeed, there is much more devotion than religion in the world,
more adoration than supplication, and more hypocrisy than sincerity; and
it is very melancholy to consider, what numbers of people there are
furnished with the powers of reason and gifts of nature, and yet
abandoned to the grossest ignorance and depravity. But it would be
uncharitable for us to imagine (as some Papists, abounding with too much
ill nature, the only scandal to religion, do) that they will certainly
be in a state of damnation after this life; for how can we think it
consistent with the mercy and goodness of an infinite Being, to damn
those creatures, when he has not furnished them with the light of the
gospel? or how can such proud, conceited and cruel bigots, prescribe
rules to the justice and mercy of God?

We are told by some people, that the great image which King
Nebuchadnezzar set up to be adored by his people held the representation
of the sun in it's right hand, as the principal object of adoration. But
to wave this discourse of Heathens, how many self-contradicting
principles are there held among Christians? and how do we doom one
another to the devil, while all profess to worship the same Deity, and
to expect the same salvation.

When I was at Portugal, there was held at that time the court of justice
of the Inquisition. All the criminals were carried in procession to the
great church, where eight of them were habited in gowns and caps of
canvass, whereon the torments of hell were displayed, and they were
condemned and burnt for crimes against the Catholic faith and
blessed Virgin.

I am sorry to make any reflection upon Christians; but indeed, in Italy
the Roman religion seems the most cruel and mercenary upon earth; and a
very judicious person, who travelled through Italy from Turkey, tells,
_That there is only the face and outward pomp of religion there; that
the church protects murderers and assassins; and then delivers the civil
magistrate over to Satan for doing justice; interdicts whole kingdoms,
and shuts up the churches for want of paying a few ecclesiastical dues,
and so puts a stop to religion for want of their money; that the court
of Inquisition burnt two men for speaking dishonourably of the Blessed
Virgin; and the missionaries of China tolerated the worshipping the
devil by their new converts: that Italy was the theatre, where religion
was the grand opera: and that the Popish clergy were no other than
stage players_.

As to religion in Poland, they deny Christ to be the Messiah, or that
the Messiah has come in the flesh. And as to their Protestants, they are
the followers of Laelius Socinus, who denied our Saviour's divinity; and
have no concern about the divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

In Muscovy their churches are built of wood, and, indeed, they have but
wooden priests, though of the Greek church; they pray as much to St.
Nicholas, as the Papists do to the Virgin Mary, for protection in all
their difficulties or afflictions.

As to Lutherans, they only differ from the Romans in believing
consubstantiation, instead of transubstantiation; but like them, they
are much pleased with the external gallantry and pomp, more than the
true and real practice of it.

In France I found a world of priests, the streets every where crowded
with them, and the churches full of women: but surely never was a nation
so full of blind guides, so ignorant of religion, and even as void of
morals, as those people who confess their sins to them.

Does it not seem strange, that, while all men own the Divine Being,
there should be so many different opinions as to the manner of paying
him obedience in the Christian church? I know not what reason to assign
for this, except it be their different capacities and faculties.

And, indeed, upon this account, we have perceived, in all Christian
countries, what mortal feuds have been about religion; what wars and
bloodshed have molested Europe, till the general pacification of the
German troubles at the treaty of Westphalia: and since those times, what
persecution in the same country among the churches of the Lutherans; and
should I take a prospect at home, what unhappy divisions are between
Christians in this kingdom, about Episcopacy and Presbytery; the church
of England and the Dissenters opposing one another like St. Paul and St.
Peter, even to the face; that is, they carry on the dispute to the
utmost extremity.

It might be a question, why there are such differences in religious
points, and why these breaches should be more hot and irreconcileable?
All the answer I can give to this, is, that we inquire more concerning
the truth of religion, than any other nation in the world; and the
anxious concern we have about it, makes us jealous of every opinion, and
tenacious of our own; and this is not because we are more furious and
rash than other people; but the truth is, we are more concerned about
them, and being sensible that the scripture is the great rule of faith,
the standard for life and doctrine, we have recourse to it ourselves,
without submitting to any pretended infallible judge upon earth.

There is another question, pertinent to the former, and that is, _What
remedy can we apply to this malady_? And to this I must negatively
answer, _Not to be less religious, that we may differ the less_. This is
striking at the very root of all religious differences; for, certainly,
were they to be carried on with a peaceable spirit, willing to be
informed, our variety of opinions would not have the name of
differences; nor should we separate in communion of charity though we
did not agree in several articles of religion.

Nor is there a less useful question to start, namely, _Where will our
unhappy religious differences end?_ To which, I hope, I may answer, _In
Heaven_; there we shall unchristian and unbrotherly differences will
find a period; there we shall embrace many a sinner, that here we think
it a dishonour to converse with; & perceive many a heart we have broken
here with censures, reproachings, & revilings, made whole again by the
balm of the same Redeemer's blood. Here we shall perceive there have
been other flocks than those of our fold; that those we have
excommunicated have been taken into that superior communion; and, in a
word, that those contradicting notions and principles which we thought
inconsistent with true religion, we shall then find reconcileable to
themselves, to one another, and to the fountain of truth. If any man ask
me, Why our differences cannot be ended on earth? I answer, _Were we all
thoroughly convinced, that then they would be reconciled, we would put
an end to them before; but this is impossible to be done: for as men's
certain convictions of truth are not equal to one another, or the weight
or significancy of such veracity: so neither can a general effect of
this affair be expected on this side of time_.

Before I conclude this chapter, I shall beg leave to discourse a little
of the wonderful excellency of negative religion and negative virtue.
The latter sets out, like the Pharisee, with, _God, I thank thee;_ it is
a piece of religious pageantry, the hypocrite's hope: and, in a word, it
is positive vice: for it is either a mask to deceive others, or a mist
to deceive ourselves. A man that is clothed with negatives, thus argues:
_ I am not such a drunkard as my landlord, such a thief as my tenant,
such a rakish fellow, or a highwayman; No! I live a sober, regular,
retired life: I am a good man, I go to church; God, I thank thee._ Now,
through a mans boasts of his virtue in contradiction to the vices
mentioned, yet a person had better have them altogether than the man
himself; or he is so full of himself, so persuaded that he is good and
religious enough already, that he has no thoughts of any thing, except
it be to pull of his hat to God Almighty now and then, and thank him
that he has no occasion for him; and has the vanity to think that his
neighbours must imagine well of him too.

The negative man, though he is no drunkard is yet intoxicated with the
pride of his own worth; a good neighbour and peace-maker in other
families, but a tyrant in his own; appears in church for a show, but
never falls upon his knees in his closet; does all his alms before men,
to be seen of them; eager in the duties of the second table, but
regardless of the first; appears religious, to be taken notice of by
men, but without intercourse or communication between God and his own
soul: Pray, what is this man? or what comfort is there of the life he
lives? he is insensible of faith, repentance, and a Christian mortified
life: in a word, he is a perfectly a stranger to the essential part
of religion.

Let us for a while enter into the private and retired part of his
conversation: What notions has he of his mispent hours, and of the
progress of time to the great centre and gulph of life, eternity? Does
he know how to put a right value on time, or esteem the life-blood of
his soul, as it really is, and act in all the moments of it, as one that
must account for them? if then you can form an equality between what he
can do and what he shall receive; less can be founded upon his negative
virtue, or what he has forborne to do: And if neither his negative nor
positive piety can be equal to the reward, and to the eternity that
reward is to last for, what then is to become of the Pharisee, when he
is to be judged by the sincerity of his repentance, and rewarded,
according to the infinite grace of God, with a state of blessedness to
an endless eternity?

When the negative man converses with the invisible world, he is filled
with as much horror and dread as Felix, when St Paul reasoned to him of
temperance, righteousness, and of judgment to come; for Felix, though a
great philosopher, of great power and reverence, was a negative man, and
he was made sensible by the Apostle, that, as a life of virtue and
temperance was its own reward, by giving a healthy body, a clear head,
and a composed life, so eternal happiness must proceed from another
spring; namely, the infinite unbounded grace of a provoked God, who
having erected a righteous tribunal, Jesus Christ would separate such as
by faith and repentance he had brought home and united to himself by the
grace of adoption, and on the foot of his having laid down his life as a
ransom for them, had appointed them to salvation, when all the
philosophy, temperance, and righteousness in the world besides had been
ineffectual. And this, I say, it was, that made Felix, this negative
man tremble.

CHAP. IV. _Of listening to the voice of Providence_.

The magnificent and wise King Solomon bids us cry after knowledge, and
lift up our voice for understanding; by which is meant, religious
knowledge, for it follows: _Then shalt thou understand the fear of the
Lord, and find the knowledge of God_. By which undoubtedly he meant, to
enquire after every thing he has permitted us to know, and not to search
into those ways that are unsearchable, and are effectually locked up
from our knowledge. - Now, _as listening to the voice of Providence_ is
my present subject, I intend, in the first place, to write to those who
own, 1. That there is a God, a first great moving cause of all things,
and eternal power, prior, and consequently superior to all created power
or being. - 2. That this eternal power, which is God, is the sovereign
creator and governor of heaven and earth.

To avoid all needless distinctions, what persons in the God-head
exercise the creating, and what the governing power, I offer that
glorious text, Psal. xxiii. 6. where the whole Trinity is entitled to
the whole creating work: and, therefore, in the next place, I shall lay
down these two propositions.

I. _That the eternal God guides, by his providence, the whole
universe, which was created by his power._

II. _That this providence manifests a particular care over, and
concern in, the governing and directing man, the most noble
creature upon earth_.

It is plain, that natural religion proves the first, by intimating the
necessity of a providence guiding and governing the world, from the
consequence of the wisdom, justice, prescience, and goodness of the
Almighty Creator: for otherwise it would be absurd to think, that God
should create a world, without any care or providence over it, in
guiding the operations of nature, so as to preserve the order of
his creation.

Revealed religion gives us a light into the care and concern of his
providence, by the climate's being made habitable, the creatures
subjected and made nourishing, and all vegetative life made medicinal;
and all this for the sake of man, who is made viceroy to the King of the
earth. The short description I shall give of providence is this: _That
it is that operation of the power, of the wisdom, and goodness of God,
by which be influences, governs, and directs, not only the means, but
the events of all things, which concern us in this sublunary world; the
sovereignty of which we ought always to reverence, obey its motions,
observe its dictates, and listen to its voice. The prudent man forseeth
the evil, and hideth himself; that is, as I take it, there is a secret
providence intimates to us, that some danger threatens, if we strive not
to shun it_.

The same day that Sir John Hotham kept out Hull against the royal martyr
King Charles I. the same day Sir John Hotham was put to death by the
parliament for that very action: The same day that the King himself
signed the warrant for the execution of the Earl of Stafford, the same
day of the month was he barbarously murdered by the blood-thirsty
Oliverian crew: and the same day that King James II. came to the crown
against the bill of exclusion, the same day he was voted abdicated by
the parliament, and the throne filled with King William and Queen Mary.

The voice of signal deliverances from sudden dangers, is not only a just
call to repentance, but a caution against falling into the like danger;
but such who are utterly careless of themselves after, show a lethargy
of the worst nature, which seems to me to be a kind of practical atheism
or at least, a living in a contempt of Heaven, when he receives good at
the hand of his Maker, but is unconcerned from whence it comes, or to
thank the bountiful hand that gave it; neither, when he receives evil,
does it alter his manner of life, or bring him to any state of

We have a remarkable story of two soldiers being condemned to death in
Flanders. The general being prevailed upon to spare one of them, ordered
them to cast dice upon the drumhead for their lives; the first having
thrown two sixes, the second fell a wringing his hands, having so poor a
chance to escape; however, having thrown, he was surprised when he also
threw other two sixes. The officer appointed to see the execution,
ordered them to throw again; they did so, and each of them threw fives;
at which the soldiers that stood round, shouted, and said, neither of
them was to die. Upon this, the officer acquainted the council of war,
who ordered them to throw a third time, when they threw two fours: the
general being acquainted with it, sent for the men, and pardoned them.
_I love,_ said he, _in such extraordinary cases, to listen to the voice
of Providence._

We read in the holy writings, how God speaks to men by appearance of
angels, or by dreams and visions of the night. As God appeared to
Abraham, Lot, and Jacob: so angels have appeared to many in other cases,
as to Manoah and his wife, Zechariah, the Virgin Mary, and to the
apostles; other have been warned in a dream as king Abimelech, the false
prophet Balaam, and many others.

It is certainly a very great and noble inquiry, _What we shall be after
this life?_ for there is scarce a doubt, that there is a place reserved
for the reception of our souls after death: for if we are to be, we must
have a where, which the scriptures assert by the examples of Dives and
Lazarus. The doctrine of spirits was long believed before our Saviour's
time; for when the disciples of the blessed Jesus perceived our Saviour
walking on the sea, they were as much surprised as though they had seen
a spirit. Nay, in those ages of the world, it was believed that spirits
intermeddled in the affairs of mankind; and, throughout the Old
Testament, I do not find any thing that in the least contradicts is. All
the pains and labour that some learned men have taken, to confute the
story of the witch of Endor, and the appearance of an old man
personating Samuel, cannot make such apparitions inconsistent with
nature or religion; and it is plain, that it was either a good or bad
spirit, that prophetically told the unfortunate king what should happen
the next day; for, said the spirit, _The Lord will deliver thee into the
hands of the Philistines; and to-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be
with me._

Abundance of strange notions possessed me, when I was in the desolate
island; especially on a moonshine night, when every bush seemed a man,
and every tree a man on horseback. When I crept into the dismal cave
where the old goat lay expiring, whole articulate groans even resembled
those of a man, how was I surprised! my blood chilled in my veins,
a cold sweaty dew sat on my forehead, my hair stood upright, and my
joints, like Belshazzar's knees, struck against one another. And, indeed,
though I afterwards found what it was, the remains of this surprise did
not wear off for a great while; and I had frequently returns of those
vapours on different occasions, and sometimes without any occasion at all.

One night, after having seen some appearance in the air, as I had just
lain down in my bed, one of my feet pained me; after that came a
numbness, succeeded with a tingling in my blood; when on a sudden I
thought something alive lay upon me, from my knee to above half my leg.
Upon this I flung myself out of bed where I thought the creature lay;
but finding nothing, _Lord deliver me from evil spirits_, said I, _what
can this be?_ When I lighted a candle, I could perceive no living
creature in the place with me, but the poor parrot, who, being frighted,
cried out, _Hold your tongue_, and _What's the matter with you_, which
words I had taught him, by saying so to him, when he made such screaming
noises as I did not like. _Lord_, said I aloud, _surely the devil has
been here._ _Hold your tongue_, says Poll. I was then mad at the bird,
and putting on my clothes, cried, _I am terribly frighted._ _What's the
matter with you_? says Poll. _You toad_, said I, _I'll knock your brains
out._ _Hold you tongue_, cried he again, and so fell a chattering, and
calling Robinson Crusoe, as he did before. But after I had composed
myself, and went to bed again, I began plainly to see it was a distemper
that affected my nerves, and so my terrors vanished at once.

How intelligences are given or received, we do not know; nor are we
sensible how they are conveyed from spirits embodied to ours that are
in life; or, on the contrary, from us to them; the latter is certainly
done without help of the organs, and the former is conveyed by the
understanding, and the retired faculties of the soul.

The spirits, without the help of voices, converse, and the more
particular discoveries of converse of the spirits, seem to me as
follow: to wit, dreams, voices, noises, impulses, hints, apprehensions,
involuntary sadness, &c.

Dreams of old were the ways by which God himself was pleased to warn
men what services to perform, and what to shun. Joseph was directed of
God in a dream to go to Egypt; and so were the wise men warned in a
dream to depart into their own country another way, to avoid the fury
of Herod. I am not like those who think dreams are the mere designs of
a delirious head, or the relics of a day's perplexities or pleasures;
but, on the contrary, I must beg leave to say, I never met with any
capital mischief in my life, but I had some notice of it by a dream;
and had I not been a thoughtless unbelieving creature, I might have
taken many a warning, and avoided many of the evils I afterwards fell
into, merely by total neglect of those dreams.

I was once present at a dispute between a layman and a clergyman, upon
the subject of dreams. The first thought no regard should be given unto
them; that their communication from the invisible to the visible world
was a mere chimera, without any solid foundation. For, first, said he,
if dreams were from the agency of any prescient being, the motives would
be more direct, and the discoveries more plain, and not by allegories
and emblematic fancies, expressing things imperfect and obscure. 2.
Since, with the notice of evil, there was not a power given to avoid it,
it is not likely to proceed from a spirit, but merely fortuitious. 3.
That the inconstancy of such notices, in cases equally important, proves
they did not proceed from any such agent. 4. That as our most distinct
dreams had nothing in them of any significancy, it would be irrational
and vain to think that they came from heaven. And, 5. That as men were
not always thus warned or supplied with notice of good or evil, so all
men are not alike supplied with them; and what reason could we give,
why one man or one woman should not have the same hints as another.

To all this the clergyman gave answer: 1. That as to the signification of
dreams, & the objections against them, as being dark and doubtful, they are
expressed generally by hierogliphical representations, similies, allusions,
and figurative emblematic ways, by which means, for want of interpretation,
the thing was not understood, and, consequently, the evil not shunned. 2.
That we charge God foolishly, to say, that he has given the notice of evil,
without the power to avoid it; for, if any one had not power to avoid the
evil, it was no notice to him; and it was want of giving due head to that
notice, that men first neglected themselves, and then charged the Judge of

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Online LibraryDaniel DefoeThe Life and Most Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner (1801) → online text (page 25 of 27)