Obrazy na stronie

alter'd his Brain, that he was seiz’d with Madness, and, in one of his Fits, throwing himself into Atna was consumed by the Flames.. Ho- Deus imrace tells us, he made this bold Leap in Pursuit of mortalis an Apotheosis. Cornelius Agrippa, in these later habcri,

Dum cupit Times, so crased and enfeebled his Understand

Empedoing by reading Plato, and conversing with the cles, arDoctrines of the Platonick School, that he grew

dentem frantick by his own Confession. Peter de Apono, a frigidus

Ætnam Physician of Padua, under Pope Clement VII, by

Infiluit. studying the Arabian Philosophy, and too fre- Hor. quently contemplating the Astrology of Alfraganus, corrupted his Fancy to that Degree, that he was put into the Inquisition, as suspected of Magick. Pompenatius and Cremoninus, the one Professor at Padua, the other at Pisa, were transported to Impiety and Atheism, by their unwarrantable method of philosophical Enquiry ; and have left to after Ages the unhappy Monuments of an abus'd Reason and infatuated Mind. It may indeed be affirm'd, that the common Effect of Philosophy in those Days, was no better than ineer Libertinism ; and 'twas this that gave it so ill a Name ; while Men utterly corrupted and debauch'd their Judgment by their unaccountable Means of forming and improving it. In a word, if the best Reason and Wisdom Facessant of Mankind is yet capable of Error, to what Ex-philofopki travagances must such Men lay themselves open, humanam as are guided by the false Lights of vain Philo- non inftrusophy, and the wild Sallies of their own weak unt fed and capricious Spirit.


Lactant. XXIX. We ought to look on him as a good Profici- nia scire ent in Philosophy, that has once discover'd how summe fije full of Doubt and Uncertainty those Things are entia eft,

Chrysol. Quæ nequeunt seiri nefcire nos confitemur, neque ea veftigare cura mus quæ non pode comprebendi liquidiflimum eft. 'Arnob. 1. 2. DA 3


Nolle oma

of which he is best appriz'd, and who is contented to be ignorant of that which he is not in a Capacity of knowing. 'Tis by virtue of this Reflection that the wiseft Men deliver themselves with peculiar Modesty and Diffidence: The Greatness of their Comprehension renders them the more cautious in their Asertions : The more Light they have attain'd, the better they are acquainted with the Darkness and Obscurity of their Spirit: The deeper their Reach and Penetration, the fuller the Discoveries which they make of their Weakness, and the greater their Sufpicion and Distrust of their own Powers. Hence Aristotle has observ'd that old Men are more incredulous and timorous than others;

because the Use and Experience they have had Cui plura

of the Uncertainty of Things, awakens their Cirnoje dae cumspection, and holds them upon their Guard. tum eft

Socrates was at a loss how to iuterpret the Oracle, eum majo- that pronounc'd him the Wisest of Men: He Ta dubiá fequun.

examind and survey'd himself, and could find

no Title that he had to fo glorious an Elogy, Æn. Sylv. but his Modesty in Disclaiming it. His KnowPlutarch. ledge rendred him sensible of his Ignorance, and de Doctr. his Ingenuity prompted him, without Ceremony,

to confess it. Epicurus had good Talents of Nature, and was a Philosopher in his very Pleasures : 'Tis a Saying of his Brother Nicocles, in Plutarch, that Nature had assembled together all the Atoms of Sense and Knowledge, to form his Understanding, while yet he himself profess'd with Socrates, that he knew Nothing: his Friends were loud in his Commendation; and he was, as deaf to their Applause. Besides this Modesty which is a Vertue and Accomplishment of the greatest Men, there is a Sort of wise and fensible Ignorance which, in the Conduct of Life, has learnt to doubt of Things, of which it cannot




certainly be inform’d, to decline the Search of what is past its Discovery, and never to found unfathomable Depths. For Nature having lock’t up some Secrets beyond our View, we owe Her the Respect of futting our Eyes before her aweful Mysteries. There's no Truth or Falshood but what may change its Colours, and outward Appearance: And upon this Uncertainty is founded that Cautionand Reserve of wise Men in declaring their Judgments. This is indeed one of the fairest Fruits, and most seal Benefits of Philosophy: and we may so far concur with the Opinion of the Academicks, as they plac'd the true Reason and supreme Science of Man, in acknowledging the Weakness of his Spirit, and the Instability of his Thought. But when the fame Philosophers deny all manner of Credit to the Senses, because 'tis possible they may be de- Sensus 112ceiv'd, and, because some Things are really du-tura cersos bious, take an Occasion from hence to doubt ofputamus, all ; we ought to give them over as extravagant.parens, non True Philosophy observes an equal Distance be-nutrix, tween these Extrenies on both Hands. non magi

Der de prevat, Cic. de Leg. Invenies primis à fenfibus eße creatan, Notician veri, neque fenfus posle repelli. 'Lucret.

bos non

XXX But if it seems a like Folly to doubt of nothing, or to doubt of all Things ; to approve of all Things, or to approve of Nothing, cannot be a greater Argument of Wisdom. 'Tis a Strength Qui citò of Soul, at which few Men can arrive, to pre-credit, leserve the entire Prerogative of their Judgment, cordes so as never to be over-ruld either by false Reason, Ecclus.10 or incompetent Authority. The Presumptuous and Obstinate subscribe to no Assertion; because they will not disparage themselves by yielding: The Light and Inconstant subscribe indifferent


D d 4

iftud qui.

ly to any; because they will not bear the Trouble of enquiring. Always to comply, or always to

stand out, is an equal Reflection upon a Man's Athenis Sense. The Design of that Proconful of Greece, Gellium who summond before him all the Masters of the Proconfi- several Sects then famous in Athens, and gravely bem philofopbos qui

exhorted them to an Agreement, was ridiculd, tum erant as a very

fignal Absurdity, by Pomponius Atticus. convocásse, But the Project of that Arabian Philosopher, who ipfij que thought to hew down all his Rivals at one autorem. Stroke, by his Book intituled, the Destruction of controver_ Philosophy, seems to me still more ridiculous. Á fiarum fa. verroes writ in Confutation of this Piece, and cerent mo- sty’ld his Answer, the Destruction of the Destruction; dum. Cic. which is one of the finest Parts of his works. de Leg. Indeed, if we take a View of the Method of Foculare

Human Life and Conduct, we shall judge it to dem, o be the last Extravagance for a Man to affect a multis de- perpetual Suspence of Judgment, and to stand risum. obstinately neuter, between the Variety of Truths ibid, and Falsities, universally acknowledg’d or deAlgazel. cried. 'Tis certainly an Argument of Weakness Apud quos to hang upon other Men's Lips, and to be a Slave præjudica.

to their opinions : But it seems a more dange. za opinio rous Eftate to hover in habitual Scepticism, and poterat

, ut by a Pride of Spirit, to resist that natural Bent ctiam fine and Inclination which Man has to be convinc'd ratione

by Truth, and concluded by Reason, Nor, on autoritas, the other Hand, am I in Love with that blind Cic. de Submission which Pythagoras requires of his SchoN. Deor. lars; who argued only on the foot of his Au

thority, and made his Words the facred Test and Standard of Truth. This imperious Management of Proselytes is fitter to break, and subvert Mens Spirits, than to edifie and improve them. For, truly speaking, a Man's Freedom consists in the Right he has to judge of Things according Bo his own Views; and the Use of his Reafon is




the most valuable Part of his Property. These Violences are highly blameable in a Philosopher, whose Attention ought to be fixt upon impartial Truth. And yet some Wits are of such a craving Temper as always to want new Food and Matter, to keep them in A&tion: Any Thing goes down with them, even to false Ideas, groundless Imaginations, and chimerical De

Periculo. ligns : Rather than let their Thoughts lie fallow, they exercise them upon the Dreams and Visions credere &

? Sum est of other Men, as being unable to supply them non credewith Inventions and Amusements of their own re. Phæd. Growth. And this Fault betrays Men into Fab. another of no less pernicious Consequence, fuetudo

Ipsa con an easie Credulity. Let us carefully avoid these afsentrendi Irregularities : Let us be as diligent in Exami- periculose ning what is doubtful, as in Embracing what videtur is certain : Let us never hold out against Evi

& lubri.

ca. Cic. dence, and never build upon Conjecture : Let us in all Points, consult Reason and good Sense, as the sure Guides to Truth, and the unerring Means of Information.

XXXI. If we examine the Motives by which the greatest Part of Philosophers are determin’d to their peculiar Sect, we shall find that Philosophy has the least Share in them. 'Tis often by Prevention of Age, or Accident, without Deliberation, or Choice, and sometimes without Thought, that they embrace one Opinion rather than another. Men come to agree in the same Persuasion, by the Habit they wear, the Nation to which they belong, the Company they keep; by the Way of Life that first engages them, by the Society that first gains and possesses them, by the Multitude that carries them along, by the Stream that bears them down; and by any Confiderations, except those


« PoprzedniaDalej »