chapter  V
17 Pages

Of Religion

MAN being created after the image of God, it is good reason that he acknowledge, serve, worship, praise, and bless his Creator, and that therein he employ his whole desire, his mind, his strength, and his courage. But the nature of man having been corrupted by sin, this fair light that God had first given unto him hath been so darkened that he is become thereby to lose the knowledge of his beginning. And forasmuch as God showeth not himself unto us by a certain visible form, as a father or a King might do, man finding himself overcome with poverty and infirmity, not settling himself to the contemplation of the wonders of this Almighty workman, and to seek him as he ought to be sought for, with a base and brutish spirit, miserably hath he forged to himself gods, according to his own fancy. And there is nothing visible in the world but hath been deified in some place or other, yea, even in that rank and degree imaginary things hath also been put, as virtue, hope, honour, fortune, and a thousand such like things: item infernal gods, and sicknesses, and all sorts of plagues, everyone worshipping the things that he stood in fear of. But notwithstanding, though Tully hath said, speaking of the nature of the gods, that there is no nation so savage or brutish nor so barbarous but is seasoned with some opinion of them; yet there have been found, in these later ages, nations that have no feeling thereof at all: which is so much the stranger that among them there were, and yet are, idolaters, as in Mexico and Virginia. If we will, we may add hereunto Florida. And, notwithstanding, all being well considered, seeing .the

condition both of the one and of the other is to be lamented, I give more praise to him that worshippeth nothing than to him who worshippeth creatures without either life or sense, for at least, as bad as he is, he blasphemeth not, and giveth not the glory due to God to another, living (indeed) a life not much differing from brutishness; but the same is yet more brutish that adoreth a dead thing, and putteth his confidence in it. And, besides, he which is not stained with any bad opinion is much more capable of true adoration than the other, being like to a bare table, which is ready to receive what colour soever one will give to it. For when any people hath once received a bad impression of doCtrine, one must root it out from them before another may be placed in them. Which is very difficult, as well for the obstinacy of men, which do say our fathers have lived in this sort, as for the hindrance that they give them which do teach them such a doCtrine, and others whose life dependeth thereupon, who do fear that their means of gain be taken from them, even as that Demetrius the silversmith, mentioned in the Acts of the Apoflles [xix. 24]. This is the reason why our savages of New France will be found more easy to receive the Christian doCtrine, if once the Province be thoroughly inhabited. For (that we may begin with them of Canada) James Cartier, in his second relation,90 reciteth that which I have said a little before, in these words, which are not here laid down in the former Book.