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quity, will think this painting unjust. The traits of which it is composed, lie so obviously on the face of history, that one needs only to collect them together, in order to discover the origin of this picture. Let a man only call to mind the severity of the laws of war among the ancients, and the hard bondage to which a great portion of the human race were subjected, and he will be immediately led to the supposition, that all the nations of the old world were more or less deficient in humanity and sensibility, and had but little esteem for human nature. This being admitted, from it we may naturally draw the following conclusions.
59. First. It is much to be feared that we shall meet with few great spirits in antiquity, who extended their views beyond their own people and embraced other nations in their plans of benevolence. Such enlargement of thought was doubtless a rare phenomenon. The very circumstances of the age absolutely confined men of powerful talents to their own native country, and compelled them to look upon all other nations as strangers, with whom they had nothing to do. He, who had boldly defended the society to which he belonged, given it laws, and governed it in wisdom, and thus been the means of forming its character, was thought to have attained the highest degree of honor and renown; and he who engaged in any very extensive projects, perceived obstacles in his way, which could be removed only by the force of arms. How then was it possible for that greatness of mind to develop itself, which comprehends many nations, and takes the whole human family in its grasp?
$60. Secondly. If we happen to discover such greatness, it will assuredly be made up of that enterprising, warlike spirit, so universally reverenced by the ancients; if we ever meet with a man of bold enlargement of thought, we shall find in him a conqueror. Who does not know how much this remark is confirmed by history? Ninus, Sesostris, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus,* Alexander, Demetri
[In the author's Latin commentation, Opuscul. Academ., I. 247, he remarks respecting Cyrus: Quae Xenophon de Cyro reliquit, ea,
us the besieger, Pyrrhus, and others, are unquestionable examples. These spirits were indeed too great to be confined within the narrow limits of the districts of which they were the rightful lords. The compass of their plan, however, agreeably to the prevailing taste, which considered boldness and military greatness, as something which deserved the most admiration, and opened for the hero a way to heaven and the rank of the gods, must have excited in them the desire of subduing all nations, while they filled the world with misery and desolation. The enlargement of thought, therefore, which they possessed, was so different from that which we now have in view, as to render it unnecessary for us to speak of it in detail.* Like
ut cum Cicerone [ad Quint. Fratr. I. 1. § 8,] loquar, non ad historiae veritatem, sed ad institutionis exemplum scripta sunt. Cf. Diog. Laert. 1. III. segm. 34, et Menagius ad h. 1. Concerning Caesar, cf. quae de animo Caesaris disputat, veterum auctoritatibus usus, Berger, in libro aureo, de naturali pulcritudine orationis, p. 84 seqq. Verissimum est Fergusoni de hoc viro iudicium: "The object of Caesar's wishes was not to be great or good, but to be the first, and the first in respect to those things which attract the admiration of the multitude;-the first in a village, rather than the second at Rome. Comp. Grundsätze der Moralphilosophie übers. v. Garve, Abtheil. 2. kap. 3. § 2. p. 61.]
*If the opinion of some writers, both of ancient and modern times, is correct, then Alexander is to be excepted from the number of these destructive ravagers of the world. They impute to this really wonderful man, a plan of the most benevolent character, and assert, that he intended to impart Grecian cultivation to the whole human family, found a confederacy of all nations, and, by the erection of a universal monarchy, make security, affluence, and happiness, universal. Vid. Plutarch, De fortuna vel virtute Alexandri, Orat. I. p. 311, Reisk. ed. [Vol. VII.,] and an anonymous writer, to whom 'Arrian appeals, De Exped. Alex. M., 1. VII. from the beginning; also Robertson's Hist. of Amer., Vol. I. p. 16 seqq.; and his Historical Disquisition concerning the knowledge which the ancients had of India, p. 12 seqq., Lond. and Ed., 1818. That Alexander connected many benevolent purposes with his ambitious plans, we may be assured from the goodness of his natural disposition, the rational education he received, and his having constantly associated with philosophers and wise men. That the ultimate goal of his enterprises, however, was a benevolent plan, no one will believe, who takes into impartial consideration, his fool-hardy conduct, and especially the vices and cruelties of which he was guilty, in the latter part of his life. Arrian makes a very correct remark to this effect, in the passage quoted.
a hurricane, it caused mankind to tremble, but it did not render them happy. We should be ungrateful indeed not to admit that Providence educed good out of these evils, and in the end made them promotive of the general welfare of mankind. This circumstance, however, has nothing to with the present subject. We are now in search of those, who, under the guidance of wisdom, and in conformity with their own resolutions, became the immediate benefactors of the human race,* and to this worthy class they certainly do not belong.
Such then being the state of things and the mode of thinking among the ancients, it is, in the third place, highly probable, that we shall not find a man among them, who was capable of that extension of thought, that expansive goodness, that tender benevolence, from which originated the plan of Jesus that we have already described. What can justify us in hoping to make such an agreeable discovery, since, circumstances being as they were, it is impossible to see by what causes such a spirit could have been produced? Dispositions, feelings, and plans of such a benevolent character, were by no means agreeable to the taste which prevailed in the old military world, and therefore in all probability not to be met with in it. For the honor of humanity, we should hope to light upon men among the ancients, who, to a certain extent, possessed these dispositions and feelings, and, under the influence of genuine benevolence, became the creators, defenders, teachers, and fathers of the nations to which they belonged. If so, however, we shall doubtless always find them very limited and cautious in their undertakings, in comparison with what is to be expected from such a comprehensive spirit of benevolence as that which we discovered in our examination of Christ's plan.† From this general con
* [In the Latin commentation, S. 247, reference is farther made to Seneca, De Benefice, l. I. c. 13, and Thomas Abbt, Vom Verdienste, S. 216 ff.]
"Human excellence," says Maximus, in the discourse quoted, "is not only far inferior to divine in general, but particularly in reference to extensive benevolence. No human being in this respect embraces
sideration, therefore, there is much reason even now to believe, that Jesus stands alone and without example, on an elevation which none before him ever attempted to reach.
61. There is another circumstance, however, which belongs to this place, and must strengthen us in this conjecture. The very character of the religions of antiquity appears to have been extremely prejudicial to that public spirit, that expansive benevolence, from which originated the plan of the Author of Christianity, and to have suppressed it in the greatest minds. Reflect upon the following circumstances.
It cannot be denied that the ancients, in general, agreed to a certain extent in contemplating the Deity, of whom they had a great variety of representations, such as images and pictures, in a terrific point of view, and considered him more as a being before whose anger they were to tremble, than as a benefactor and father, worthy of the utmost confidence and love. That this was almost always the case with rude nations, we know full well, and a great part of the anterior world was very rude.* Unquestionable traces of this mode of thinking are exhibited in the languages of the ancients, for most of the names which they appropriated to the Deity are significant of his almightiness, independence, and unlimited, incontrolable will, and, in reference to it, imply, that nothing remains for the weak creature of the dust but submission. So much do their religious notions hang upon these representations, that many have considered it as a proof that their whole religion took its rise in fear, and all their conceptions of the Deity sprung from terror at the great and powerful changes that take place in nature.† Nations and
his whole race, but each one, like the beasts of a single tribe, always confines himself to his own fellow citizens; and it is a great thing, if he comprehends even these as a body. Vid. p. 368, Davis. ed. [Reisk., I. 86.] The truth of this remark is hereafter very clearly established.
With respect to this remark, comp. Home's Sketches of the Hist. of Man, Vol. III. B. 3. Sk. 3. Chap. II. 269, ed. 1807.
Vid. Lucretius, De Rerum Nat. 1. V. 1217-1239.
individuals generally furnished the Deity with their own views, inclinations, and characters, and hence originated that almost endless variety of distinctions, at all times connected in their minds with the idea of God. Now as all the nations of the old world exhibited a certain degree of roughness, inflexibility, and inclination to cruelty and revenge, we need not be astonished if we find that their gods also possessed these qualities, were governed by unhappy passions, and could with satisfaction see their altars smoke with human blood.* So long, however, as the soul is pervaded by such opinions respecting the godhead, it is impossible for it to put forth that unlimited kindness, that heavenly desire of doing good as far as able, to all. That heart only will be warm with benevolence towards mankind without distinction, and active in promoting the general good, which looks upon God as a kind and common parent, and considers every human being as his child
In saying this, I do not deny that many philosophers, especially Socrates, Plato, and the Stoics, had better and purer notions of the Deity, and looked upon him as a good being, exercising a wise and ceaseless care for the welfare of mankind. These notions, however, did not enter into the religion of the people, and so incapable were these men of reforming, or supplanting the wretched popular relig ion prevalent, that they combined a part of the general superstition with their best principles, and endeavored to give it a tolerable meaning. [According to Stollberg's Reise in Italien, II. 267, the finest ancient statues of the gods, exhibit an expression of lifelessness and want of love, which indicates that the prevailing feeling of antiquity in regard to the Deity, was fear. The passage runs thus: "Most of the heads of the old statues, whether of gods or men, males or females, are distinguished for a certain character of hardness, want of sympathy and troubled melancholy, which approaches almost to anger. If I mistake not, a conception of transitoriness and of death as a long sleep (Tavnleyeos Javatoio,) produced an effect upon the imagination of the heathen artist;-an effect in different ways, according as he gave himself up to this impression or strove to harden himself against, an effect, which was transferred by the arm and chisel of the artist, from his heart to the marble. In confirmation of this, I appeal to the feelings of every unprejudiced man, who has formed an acquaintance with the art of the ancients from copper-plates alone. Even the features of those of their gods that were clothed with immortal youth, seem to be overcast with a dark cloud, the conception of death." Comp. Rom. 8: 15, which was not true of the Jews alone; 49oregor To Decor, Herodot., I. c. 32. III. c. 40.]