Obrazy na stronie

upon Authority; the Modern upon Experience: The Antient is fimple and natural; the Modern artificial, and refin'd: The former has more Gravity and Modefty; the latter a more affuming and magifterial Air. The Antient is quiet and peaceable; fo far from difputing, that it advifes the forming and preparing younger Heads by the Help of the Mathematicks, to fubmit readily to Demonstration. The Modern has made it an Art to difpute of all Things, and to train up Youth in the Tumult and Contention of the Schools. The Antient fearches after Truth, with a fincere Defire of finding it: The Modern takes a Delight in fencing and parrying with it, after it has found it. The one proceeds by a more regular Courfe, as taking the Metaphyficks for its Guide: the other, whenever it neglects this Affiftance, is but uncertain in its Motions. Conftancy, Fidelity, Refolution, and good Senfe, was what they meant by Philofophy in Plato's Days. But Philofophy, in the Language of many in our Time, is a general Difguft to Bufinefs; a Chagrine and Melancholy; a renouncing of Pleafures when the Tafte of them has been loft by the Mortifying of the Paffions; together with I know not what Kind of Authority, refulting from an hoary Beard, a falfe Aufterity, an unactive Phlegm and Moderation, and all the Wisdom that is ufually owing to Weakness of Age and Conftitution. The antient Philofophy is generally, the more knowing, as extending its Views on all Sides; whereas the Modern contains it felf within the Bounds of natural Speculations. The Antient is more conftant and fevere in its Studies; more laborious and indefatigable in its Undertakings: For the first Profeffors carried on the Course of their Enquiries with that of their Lives. The


Módern is more unfettled in its Application, more fuperficial in its Labours, more precipitate in its Designs and Purfuits. And this Precipitation gradually accuftoms it to rely too easily upon inaccurate Reafonings, groundless Reports unfaithful Witneffes, and ill concerted Experiments. It pronounces boldly upon Doubts and Uncertainties, to fatisfie the Ambition it fometimes has of broaching its particular Opinions,and giving Vent to its novel Conceits. So that were the Prize in my Difpofal, I fhould (with a great Judge,) be inclin❜d to beftow it in favour of the MonAntients, whofe good Senfe alone feems prefer- ragne Eff. able to all the Art, and all the Refinement of the 1. 3. c. 5. Moderns. But let us, without Prejudice, conclude, that as the Light is pleasant from whatfoever Quarter it breaks, fo Truth ought to be valued, tho' coming from any Party. Don't let us fancy a Diftinction between antient and modern Reason: For Reafon, from what Side foever we look upon it, or whatsoever Colours we give it, will always be the fame. Let us reflect, that if fome Opinions have had the good Fortune to meet with a more kind Entertainment in the World than others, their Success was perhaps owing to more aufpicious Planets, or more vigorous Societies and Cabals.


X X.

So that in managing our felves between the antient Philofophers and the modern, there are two Extremes to be avoided. The first, of those who by a strong Conceit of their own Ability, obeft plethink nothing comparable to the Age in which,umque iis they live. The Ambition they have to difen- qui difere thrall themselves from the Bondage and Ufur-volunt,au

toritas eo

pation of antient Authority, is but a falfe Zeal; rum qui for, by this means, they would impofe new docent. Laws on Reafon, under pretence of afferting its Cic. de Freedom, N. Deon




docemus. Petron,

Nos vino Freedom. And all thofe fine Admonitions fcortifs which they give us, to diveft our felves of the accufato- Prejudices of Education, Custom and Authores amti- rity, and to cure our Minds of popular Errors quitatis and Prepoffeffions, are but fo many Snares vitia tan- which they lay for our Eafinefs of Belief: They túm dif- talk to us of Liberty, with no other Defign but to bring us under a new Yoke. They would add to the Moderns whatever they detract from the Antients; and defire to ruin the Authority of Ariftotle, only that they may build up that of Defcartes. But can it be reasonable to defpife thofe, whom all Antiquity has had in Veneration? Bare Tradition, and the univerfal Confent of Mankind fhould engage us to do Juftice to those great and excellent Perfons, who have been the Inventors of Arts and Sciences. The World is a wide and vaft Affembly, in which every Age has its free Vote; and therefore, to know whom we ought to prefer in our Judgments and Characters of Men, we must confider who has deferved the most universal Approbation of the Publick. Superficial Spirits find the greatest Charms in new and upftart Opinions. But he that is happy in folid Wisdom, cannnot fuffer himself to be furpriz'd with the Sapienti falfe Luftre of Novelty, but will be guided am anti- by the conftant Suffrage of the Ancients; quorum according to the Advice of the wife Man. exquiret « Can it be believ'd, fays Tully, that nofapiens. Eccluf. thing good, nothing even tolerable, should XXXIX." be produced by the united Labours of fo ແ many Ages, fo many excellent Wits, fuch "invincible Application and Study?" If therefore we are dispos'd to compare our felves, with


In anti

quis eft fapientia in multo tempore prudentia.. Job. XII.

Nibine tot faculis, fummis ingeniis, maximis ftudiis explicatum putamus? Qu. Acad. 4.


mus, illi

the great Men of the firft Ages, yet let us Nifi ingra not pronounce rafhly in our own Favour; we tiffimi fu are interested and partial Judges, and Pofterity clariffimi alone ought to decide the Caufe. To look back-facrarum wards, and take a Survey of elder Times, is a opinionum powerful Lesson of Modesty and Sobriety. The conditorenown'd Perfons then upon the Stage, befide res nobis nati funt: their extraordinary Genius for Knowledge, ad res pulfpent their whole Lives in unwearied Pains and cherrimas Travels, with a Docility of Temper, not to be alieno laparallel'd in our Days. Pythagoras, till the fif- bore dedutieth Year of his Age, was a Scholar under deBr.Vit the greatest Masters in the World. Eufebius teftifies that Democritus fpent no lefs than fourfcore Years in hard Study. Parmenides fhut himfelf eighteen Years in a Cave, to finish his Logical Speculations. Plato gave forty Years Attendance to the Lectures of Socrates, Archytas and Eurytas. Ariftotle labour'd more than twenty Years under Plato: And we after fome two Years flight Practice under indifferent Masters, dare to enter the Lift against those Heroes. XXI.


The other Extreme to be avoided, is the too Veterum fervile Adherence of fome Men to the Ancients, autoritati making an Idol of their Authority, and paying tribui ni. a blind Worship to their Merit. Such was the lebat PlaExtravagance of George Trapezuntius, who writ a to, quod Book to prove the Conformity of the Ariftotelian ipfe ita Doctrine to the facred Scriptures: And that of doctus effet apud Egyp Marcilius Ficinus, who pretends that Plato actios. Carp knowledg'd the Mystery of the Holy Trinity in Alcin in which refpect he is juftly condemn'd by Me- L. 2. de dina a Spanish Divine, for a Boldness highly in- Compar. jurious to the Purity of our Religion, and to Plut. & the great Objects of Faith which are fupernatu- Ariftot. rally reveal'd. The Paffion of Hermolaus Barbarus? Patriarch of Aquileia, for the Philofophy of


Bodinus. Ariftotle, was much more fcandalous. This learned Man, by a deteftable Infatuation, is faid to have confulted the Devil upon the true Meaning of the Word 'ErTexéxed. But the wildeft Enthusiast was the Emperor Julian, who by the Confeffion of his own Hiftorian, facrificed many Virtues and good Endowments to the affected Title of a Philofopher. He was chafte, and fober, and vigilant, and just, and brave. Yet by a ridiculous Bigotry to the antient Masters, he preferr'd the Doctrine of Plato to that which St. Paul taught at Athens; and by fo horrible an Estrangement of Mind, he became a Slave to all the evil Curiosity of an abused Superftition. The Pride and Folly of his Pagan Wisdom would not stoop to the wife Foolishness of the Crofs, which he thought a Difparagement to his boasted Philofophy. And having chofen this Philofophy for his Religion, when once he became Master of the World and of his own Opinion, he renounc'd the Doctrine of Jefus Chrift, to embrace that of Socrates and Pythagoras; by the Help of which he hop'd to raise to himself a Romantick Character, and to outfhine the Philofophers his Contemporaries. So abominable was the Mixture of his Vanity and Impiety, that he would confefs and own no Gods, but thofe whofe Divinity depended upon his Suffrage. And his unreasonable Veneration bomo bre- for Antiquity, was the Thing that thus horribly vis, Idolia- corrupted and vitiated his Spirit. We ought, nus. Amm then, to obferve a Temper between thefe contending Parties, and to fhew fuch a Deference to the one, as shall not be conjoyn'd with a Contempt of the other. Let us advance in making larger Discoveries, without rejecting those that have been made to our Hands. Let us preferve the Freedom and Privilege of our Reason, and




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