« AnteriorContinua »
Soul. In short, the Philosophers in general were noted for their beastly Corruption of the young Scholars they had the charge of; and this was one of the Articles *, tho' perhaps groundless, whichı Anytus and Melitus objected against Socrates, and which he was condemned for. Now this Imputation was so notorious against the Philosophers, that Lucian makes Sport with it throughout his Dialogues, and the Socratici Cynedi was grown to a Proverb to denote the worst of those infamous Wretches, Nay, I remember somewhere, that Plutærch does in some Measure apologise for this Vice of the Philosophers, bem cause they make amends by the improving their Minds for the Corruption of their Bodies. These are the Fathers, Philologus, of your Infidel Church, whom you build your Religion upon; but, for my Part, let my Soul be with Christ and his Apostles, and all his holy Saints and Martyrs, which I am sure are in a better Condition than these lewd unregenerate Wretches.
5. And as for the common and illiterate People, one. The Lives cannot expect that their Lives should be any Thing vir- of the cmn
mon Pagans tuous, when their Philosophers, who pretended to teach
highly viss them Virtue, were so mistaken in their Principles, and for ous. the most part debauched in their Practice: For they, poor People, for the most Part, blindly followed the Impulse of their Senses and Pallions, and could propose no other End of their actions, but the present Gratification of their Affections and Inclinations. For everlasting Life and eternal Glory, which is the great Spring of the Christian Virtue and Holiness, was unknown to them ; and was the great Promise only of our blessed Saviour, Who bath brought Life and Immortality to Light through the Gospel, They had nothing among them like it, but some fanciful Stories of Elyfium, which too was generally lookt upon a poetical Dream, and believed by none so as to found any religious Action upon it. And therefore the Philosophers They comed (who depended little or nothing upon the Rewards of a the Philofuture State, tho' they might sometime talk of it) devi-fophers fed a hundred Şort of several Ends of human Acions, or true End
* Laert. in Vit. Socr,
Notions, wherein they fancied Happiness did confist, which all referred only to this World; which they would never have donc, had they stedfaftly believed a happy State, or a Reward for Virtue in the next. Thus Epicurus would have Man's Happiness to consist in an Indolence or Freedom from all Pain, in not hungring, or thirfting, or being cold; and of this he was so confident, that he was wont impiously to say • Títols edi walei pucizedben, he would contend with Jupiter for the Truth of his Opie
Dinomachus and Callipho made their End, the doing any Thing, a Mar might reap Pleasure by. Aristotle, and most of the Stoicks, made their End to live according to Virtue : so that Virtue, according to them, was its own Reward. Cleanthes's End consisted in living agreeable ta Nature, and “ TÕ évnougir, in understanding Logick, or Reasoning well. Panctius's End was, in gratifying the Appetites of Nature, and Poljidonius's, in contemplating the Truth and Order of the Universe. Herillus's End was, to live according to Philosophy, or Knowledge. And those of the * latter Academy would have it consist in a firmly aba fining from Appearances or Representations of Senses. Agaxagoras's End was, Contemplation ; Pythagoras's
, the Knowledge of the Perfection of the Virtues of the Sovil: Democrit14 s, the Tranquilliry of the Mind, which he called the eveço, or Well-being : Hecataus's, Sufficiency: Nausipharies's, Admiration : Antisthenes's
, a Vacancy from Pride: and the Anicercans, who were a Party of the Cyrenaick Selts despised their Master Epicurus's End, and neither would have Pleasure, nor any Thing else, the End of human Adions, but ta do what one lift. And as for the Immortality of the Soul, it was denied and ridiculed by all the FolJowers of Democrities and Epicurus, it was doubted by the Academicks; it was made only very vivacious and surviving to the Conilagration by the Stoicks ; and even the great Socrates, the Founder of the Platonick Philofophy, is brought in by Plato in his Phaedo as only having good
* Vid. Cic. de Fin. Diog. Lacrt, & Plutarch, in Vit. Philof. & Clcm. Alex, Strom. Lib. 2.
Hopes of it, and of which he will not be very confident. Now who can expect that the common People among the Heathen should make any great Progress in Virtue, when the most knowing among them had no Principle to practise it upon? Indeed some of these whimsical Ends of human Actions might serve a Philosopher to banter upon; but none of the common People would ever govern their Lives by them. When they did not believe the immortal Bliss of another World, they must with the Cyrenaick Philosophers propose all their Happiness in the Pleasures of this; which was the most sensible Deduction, and which the Apostle does plainly confirm upon this Supposition, What advantageth me if the Dead rise not? let us eat and drink, for to morrow we die, 1 Cor. xv. 32. And if we consider the Lives and Actions of the ancient Heathen, we shall find the Worship of the Gods, and the Vitiousness of their Lives, wholly agreeable to. this Hypothesis: And tho' the Lives of Christians generally be not answerable to those admirable Laws of our Saviour they are blessed with ; yet those divine Precepts have had 'that Influence upon the Christian World, as to make the Generality of them live better, and not to be guilty of those' notorious Errors and Vices the Heathens were.
And truly, Philologus, it is to me a demonstrative Proof The Lives of the great Neceslity of our Christian Revelation, and of Christi
ans bercer the Defect of natural Religion, that since the Preaching than the of the Gospel a great Part of the World has been freed Pagans in from many epidemical Vices and Errors, which they many parwere over-run with before. I shall not now trouble you, with shewing, what an Influence the Christian Doctrine had over the Philosophy of the Gentiles after its Propagation ; for it is easy for any one to observe, that Epičtetus and Antoninus, Plutarch and Hierocles, Maximus Tyrius and Arrian, had quite another Caft in their Morality from the old Philosophers; and their Thoughts appear everywhere more elevated and divine, after they had mended their Philosophy by Christian Principles. I shall only sranfiently touch upon some of those many Wickednesses
and Mistakes which Christianity has dispelled, and with which the Heathen World was heretofore, and is still
(where it continues so) infected with. Idolatry. All Men of your Persuasion allow, that Idolatry and
Image-worship are very great Errors, and very injurious to the divine Nature ; and this you know the Heathen World was over-run with. But Christianity, as far as it spreads, has fairly delivered it from this; unless where the Papists have, in some Measure, brought it back, to the
Scandal of our common Christianity. Bagick.
The Use of Magick was a Vice that the Heathen were almost univerfålly addicted to, not only Persians and Gauls, and other barbarous Nations, but also the Greeks and Romans; and even the Philosophers themselves, as appears by the Examples of Apollonius Thyanaus, Apuleius, and Porphyry ; but in Christian Nations it is rarely known, it is generally abominated, and when detected,
severely punished. Augury.
The several Sorts of Augury were either superstitious Delusions, or else a Communication with evil Spirits, by odd Signs of the Flying of Fowl, by the Entrails of Beasts, or Feeding of Chickens, which universally obtained among the old Pagans; and which, by the Grace of God, we Christians are not taxable with.
Human Sacrifice, and the most unnatural Sort of it, of crifices. their own Children, was a devilish Custom, which was
common to all the Heathen Nations, and was used not only among such barbarous People as the Syrians and the Britans, but among the Greeks and Romans; for * Erectheus Atticus facrificed his own Daughter to Persephone, and so did Marius his Daughter Diis Averruncanis ; which execra
ble Superstition the Christian World is freed from. Lewd Wor- We have nothing in our Worship like the Heathens Hip. lewd Worship in the Feasts of Flora, Priapus and Cybele, in
which such abominable Lufts were acted, as is a Shame to mention; and this our Part of the World
thanks Christianity for too,
* Juftin. Mart. é Demarato in rebus Tragicis, & Dorothco in rebus Italicis,
I do not know, whether a perfect and chaft Matrimony was used in any Part of the World, but among the Christians. Hasty and humoursome Divorces were allow'd Unlawful both by Greeks and Romans, and sometimes they super- Marriages, induced, as they call it, a new Wife over the other. The Persians * married their Mothers, Ægyptians their Sisters; and Polygamy was practifed all over the East, and in most parts of the World. But Christianity has established the most decent and peaceable Kind of Matrimony; which is most agreeable to the Ends of Nature; better for the Education and Provision for Children, and for the mutual Satisfaction of each other.
We are beholden to the Christian Religion for that Humanity and good Nature, which obtains in the World since the Planting the Gospel, in Respect of that diabo- Cruelty lical Cruelty, which reigned among the Heathen. Our Christians, tho' otherways but bad Men, would take no Pleasure in feeing the poor Gladiators forced to butcher one another, as they did ; they would abominate that so many Men should die for no Purpose, as were exhibited by Trajan, one of the best of their Princes, who in three Quarters of a Year murthered ten thousand Men thisWay. Our Flesh trembles at the Thoughts of those horrid Punishments they took Delight in seeing infli&ted
the poor Christians; and we cannot, without Horror, now think of Men's being torn asunder by Boughs of Trees, and wild Horses, of being roasted with Salt and Vinegar, of being broild upon Gridirons, and scalded in boiling Oil. The most cruel Tyrants that ever the Christian World beheld, never, like the Roman Emperors, fiddled and sung over the Flames of a burning City, made an Entertainment of feeing Men tortured, nor were delighted with the Musick of dying Men's Groans, as Nero and Caligulą were,
We Christians do abhor Self-Murther, and fix a pub- Self-Mung lick Infamy on those that lay violent Hands upon them- ther. selves ; but among the Romans it was accounted a Piece
* Sext. Emp. Hyp. Lib. 3. Cap. 24.