SUPERSTITION

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SUPERSTITION ; the error of those who, in then* opinions of the causes on which the fate of men depends, believe or disbelieve, without judgment and knowledge. The external causes by which the fate of men is decided, are God and nature ; and accordingly there is a religious, and a philosophical superstition. Superstition shows itself either in deriving natural effects from supernatural causes, attributing, for instance, an uncommon disease, connected with striking symptoms, to the influence of some evil spirit, or in believing such events as accidentally follow each other to be united by invisible connexions; as, for example, in considering a comet a messenger of distress, because it has happened sometimes, that, after the appearance of a comet, a misfortune has taken place. It is impossible to point out all the kinds of superstition, as they have existed among different nations, and to estimate the melancholy effects which they have had on human virtue and happiness. Yet it is not always easy to fix the limits of superstition ; and many an assertion or opinion, which has been rejected, at one time, as mere superstition, has been proved, in later times, to be founded in truth. Medical science, in particular, affords many such instances.