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and every real good, whether public or private, proceeded wholly from virtue. After him, Plato, and Aristotle, and others, followed his example in teaching morality. And among the Romans, Cicero; and, in later times, Epictetus and Antoninus, and several others, gave the world admirable systems of Ethics, and noble and moral instructions and exhortations of excellent use and benefit to the generations wherein they lived, and deservedly of great value and esteem even unto this day. 2. WHO SEEM TO HAVE BEEN DESIONED BY PROVIDENCE TO
BEAR WITNESS AGAINST THE WICKEDNESS OF THE NATIONS WHEREIN THEY LIVED.
So that, I think, it may very justly be fuppofcd, that these mer were raised up and designed by Providence (the abundant goodness of God having never left itself wholly without witness, notwithftanding the greatest corruptions and provocations of mankind), as instruments to reprove in some measure, and put some kind of check to the extreme fuperstition and wickedness of the nations wherein they lived; or at least to bear witness against, and condemn it. Concerning Job, the case is evident and confeffed. And for the same reason, fome of the ancientest writers of the church have not fcrupled to * call even Socrates alío, and some others of the best of the heather moralists, by the name of Christians; and to affirm, that † as the law was as it were a schoolmaiter to bring the Jews unto Christ, so true moral philosophy was to the Gentiles a preparative to receive the gospel. This perhaps was carrying the matter somewhat too far but, to be fure, thus much we may safely affert, that whatever any of thefe men were at any time enabled to deliver wisely and profitably and agreeably to divine truth, was as a light shining in a dark place, derived to them' by a ray of that infinite overflowing goodness, which does good to all even both just and unjuft ; from God, the sole author of all truth and wisdom; and this for some advantage and benchit to the rest of the world, even in its blindest and most corrupt estate. 3. BUT YET NONE OF THESE MEN WERE EVER ABLE TO REFORM
THE WORLD WITH ANY CONSIDERABLE SUCCESS. But then, notwithstanding the most that can be made of this fuppofition, it is certain the effect of all the teaching and instruction even of the best of the philosophers in the heathen world, was in comparison very small and inconsiderable. They never were able to reform the world with any great and universal success, nor to keep together any considerable number of men in the knowledge and practice of true virtue. With relpect to the worship of God, idolatry prevailed universally in all nations; and, notwithstanding men did indeed know God, fo as to be without excufe, yet they
“ did not like to retain him in their knowledge, but became vain " in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened, and
they changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into images, Rom. i. 21, and 28. of the vileft creatures ; and no philosophers ever turned any great number of men from this absurd idolatry, to the acknowledgement and worship of the only true God. In respect of mens dealings one with another ; honour, and intereft, and friendship, and laws, and the necessities of society, did indeed cause justice to be practised in many heathen nations to a great degree ; but very few men among them were just and equitable upon right and true principles, a due sense of virtue, and a constant fear and love of God. With respect to themselves, intemperance and luxury and unnatural uncleanness was commonly practised, even in the most civilized countries ; and this not fo much in opposition to the doctrine of the philosophers, as by the consent indeed and encouragement of too great a part of them. I shall not enlarge upon this ungrateful and melancholy subject : there are accounts enough extant of the universal corruption and debauchery of the heathen world. St. Paul's description of it, in the whole first chapter of his epistle to the Romans, is alone sufficient; and * the complaints of their own writers abundantly confirm it. The disciples of the best moralists, at least the practisers of their doctrine, were, in their own life-time, very + few ; as too plainly appears from the evil treatment which that great man Socrates met withal at Athens. And, at their deaths, their doctrine in great measure died with them; not having any sufficient evidence or authority to support it. And their followers quickly fell back into the common idolatry, superftition, uncleanness, and debauchery. Of which, the character the Roman writers give of those that called themfelves the disciples of Socrates, is a particular and remarkable instance. These confideras tions (so very early did they appear to be true) affected in fach a manner that great admirer of Socrates, Plato ; that he sometimes seems to give over all hopes of working any reformation in men by philosophy; and says, that I “ a good man, when he coirfiders there
things, would even choose to fit quiet, and thift for himself; like
a man that, in a violent hurricane, creeps under a wall for his de“ fence ; and seeing the whole world round about him filled with “all manner of wickedness, be content if, preserving his single self
“ Egregium sanctumque virum fi cerno, bimembri
“ Piscibus inventis, & fætä сomparo mula." Juvenal. Sat. xiii. 64. + " Sint licet perhonefti;- sed audire depofcimus quot fint aut fuerint numero
ero. -Unus, “ Duo, Tres.--At genus humanum non ex bonis pauculis, sed ex cæteris omnibus æftimari " convenit." Arnob. adverf. Gentes, lib. 11.
" Da mihi virum qui fit iracundus, maledicos, effrænatus ; pauciffimis Dei verbis tam • placidum, quam ovim, reddam. Da libidinofum, &c.-Numquis hæc Philosophorum
auc unquam præftitit, aut præhare, fi velit, poteft ?" Lactant. lib. 111.
Τούτη λογισμού λιονήσυχίαν έχων, τα α: τα πρώτα να ολον έν χιμανι κονι εκ κ ζάνης και το πνεύμα- φερομένα, υπό τοιχίον υποσάς, όπων τές άλλες καλαπιμπλαμένες ανομίας, αγαπά εί οη αυτές καθαρός οικίας τι και ανησίων έργων, τόνι ενθάδε βίον βιασίλαι, και την απαλλαγών αυτε μία καλής innitasiniw, Ti tuwis ananicila. Plato de Republ. lib. VI.
t from iniquity and every evil work, he can pass away the present “ life in peace, and at last die with tranquillity and good hope.” And indeed, for many reasons, it was altogether impossible, that the teaching of the philosophers should ever be able to reform mankind, and recover them out of their very degenerate and corrupt eftate, with any considerably great and universal success. 1. BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN BUT VERY FEW, THAT HAVE IN EARNEST SET THEMSELVES ABOUT THAT EXCELLENT WORK.'
In the first place, because the number of those who have in carneft set themselves about this excellent work have been exceedingly few. Philosophers indeed, that called themselves fo, there were enough in every place, and in every age. But those who truly made in their business to improve their reason to the height; to free themselves from the superstition, which overwhelmed the whole world; to search out the obligations of morality, and the will of God their creator ; to obey it sincerely themselves, as far as they could discover it by the light of nature ; and to encourage and exhort others to do the like ; were but a very few names. The doctrine of far the greatest part of the philosophers consisted plainly in nothing but words, and subtilty, and strife, and empty contention ; and did not at all amend even their own manners; much less was fitted to reform the world. Their scholars, as Aristotle * excellently describes them, “ thought themselves greatly improved in philosophy, and that “ they were become gallant men, if they did but hear and understand ss and learn to dispute about morality; though it had no effect at “ all, nor influence upon their inanners. Just as if a fick man “ should expect to be healed, by hearing a physician discourse " though he never followed any of his directions. Undoubtedly, ' faith he, “the mind of the one was exactly as much improved by “ such philosophy; as the health of the other's body, by such phy“ fic." And no wonder the generality of the common hearers judged of their own improvement in philosophy by such false measures; when the enormous vitiousness of the lives of the philofophers themselves made it plainly appear, that + their art was not so much intended and fitted for the reformation of men's manners, as to be an exercise of wit and subtilty, and an instrument of vainglory. Excepting perhaps Socrates and Piato, and some others of that rank ; this account is too plainly true of the greatest part of the philofophers. The argument is too unpleasant, to instance in particulars. Whoever pleases may, in Diogenes Laertius and other writers, find accounts enough of the lewdness and unnatural vices of most of the philosophers. It is a shame for us so much as to speak of those things which were done of them, not only in secret,
* 'Αλλ' και πολλοί ταύτα μεν και πρότζεσιν επί δε τον λόγον καφεύγοντες είναι φιλοσοφείν, και έτως έσισθαι σπαδαίοι όμοιόν τε καίες του, κίμνησιν, οί των ιατρών ακέoυσι μεν επιμελως, ποιούσι δ' αδέν των προς ασσομενων, ώσπερ εν κ' εκείνοι εί έξεσι το σαμα, ότω θεραπευόμε.δι: 18” έτοι την twest, iti pidorotides. Aridos. Ethic. lib. II. cap. 3.
+ Inclusos (Philofophos) in angulis, facienda præcipere, que ne ipfi quidem faciunt
qui loquuntur; & quoniam le a veris actibus removerunt, apparet eos exercendæ linguæ * caula, vel advocandi gratia, artem ipsam philosophiæ reperitle.” Lactant, lib. III. Vol. IV.
but even in the most public manner. I shall here only add the judgement of Cicero ; a man as able to pass a right judgement in this matter as ever lived. “ Do you think,” says * he, “ that “ these things (meaning the precepts of morality] had any in“ fluence upon those men (excepting only a very few of them), “ who taught, and writ, and dilputed about them? No; who is “ there of all the philofophers, whose mind and life and manners " were conformable to right reason? who ever made his philosophy “ to be the law and rule of his life, and not a mere boast and show “ of his wit and parts ? who observed his own instructions, and • lived in obedience to his own precepts? On the contrary; many • of them were Naves to filthy lufts, many to pride, many to co“ vetousness, &c." 2. AND THOSE FEW OF THE PHILOSOPHERS, WHO DID INDEED
SINCERELY ENDEAVOUR TO REFORM MANKIND, WERE YET THEMSELVES ENTIRELY IGNORANT OF SOME DOCTPINES ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO THE BRINGING ABOUT THAT GREAT END.
Those few extraordinary men of the philosophers, who did indeed in good measure fincerely obey the laws of natural religion themselves, and made it their chief bufiness to instruct and exhort others to do the same, were yet themselves entirely ignorant of some doctrines absolutely necessary to the bringing about this great end, of the reformation and recovery of mankind.
In general : having no knowledge of the whole scheme, order, and state of things, the method of God's governing the world, his design in creating mankind, the original dignity of human nature, the ground and circumstances of mens present corrupt condition, the manner of the divine interposition necessary to their recovery, and the glorious end to which God intended finally to conduct them ; having no knowledge (I fay) of all this, their whole attempt to discover the truth of things, and to inttruct others therein, was + like wandering in the wide sea, without knowing whither they were to go, or which way they were to take, or having any guide to conduct them. And accordingly I the wiseft of them were never backward to confess their own ignorance and great blindness : that truth g was hid from them, as it were in an unfathomable depth : that | they were much in the dark, and very dull and itu
" Sed hæc eadem num censes apud eos ipsos valere, niâ admodum paucos, a quibus "inventa, disputata, conscripta funt ? Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui “ fit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita conft.cutus, ut ratio poftular ; qui disciplinam fuam non “ oftentationem scientiæ, fed legem vitæ putet; qui obtemperet iple fibi, & decretis fuis “ pareat? Videre licet multos, libidinum servos, &c.” Cic, Tusculan. Quæstion. lib. II.
+ “ Errant ergo vclut in mari magno, nec quo ferantur intelligunt; quia nec viam cernunt, nec ducein sequuntur." Lactant. lib. VI. I“ Ex cæteris philosophis, nonne optimus & graviffimus quisque confitetor, multa fe ignorare ; & mulia fibi etiam arquc etiam effe discenda ?" Cic. Tusc. Quæft. 3. S 'Ex Biowcembrane.
i “ Tui ergo te, Cicero, libri arguunt, quam nibil a philofophia disci poflit ad vitam. “ Hæc tua verba sunt : mihi autem non modo ad fapicntiam cæci videmur; fed ad ca “ ipfa, quæ aliqua ex parte cerni vidcantur, hebetes & obtusi.” Lactant, lib. 111.
pid, not only as to the profounder things of wisdom, but as to such things also which seemed very capable of being in great part difcovered : nay, that even * those things, which in themselves were of all others the most manifest (that is, which, whenever made known, would appear most obvious and evident), their natural understanding was of itself as unqualified to find out and apprehend, as the eyes of bats to behold' the light of the fun : that the very first and most neceffary thing of all, the nature and attributes of God himself t, weré, notwithstanding all the general helps of reason, very difficult to them to find out in particular, and ftill more difficult to explain ; it being much I more easy to say what God was not, than what he was : and, finally, that the method of instructing men effe&tually, and making them truly wife and good, was a thing very obfcure and dark, and difficult to be found out. In a word, Son crates himfelf always openly professed, that he pretended to be wiser than other men only in this one thing, that he was duly sensible of his own ignorance, and I believed that it was merely for that very reason, that the oracle pronounced him the wiseft of men. PARTICULARLY, THEY WERE VERY IGNORANT IN WHAT MAN
NER GOD MIGHT BE ACCEPTABLY WORSHIPED. • More particularly : the manner in which God might be acceptably worshiped, these men were entirely and unavoidably ignorant of. That God ought to be worshiped, is, in the general, as evident and plain from the light of nature as any thing can be : but in what particular manner, and with what kind of service he will be wors Thiped, cannot be certainly discovered by bare reason. Obedience to the obligations of nature, and imitation of the moral attributes of God, the wifeft philofophers easily knew, was undoubtedly the most acceptable service to God. But some external adoration seemed also to be necessary; and how this was to be performed, they could not with any certainty discover. Accordingly even the very best of them complied therefore generally with the outward religion of their country, and advised others to do the same ; and so, notwithftanding all their wife discourses, they fell lamentably into the practice of the most foolish idolatry. Lactantius observes that Socrates himself **, at the conclusion of one of the bravest discourses that ever was made by any philosopher, superstitiously ordered a sacrifice to be offered for him to Æfculapius. But herein Lactantius was
"Ωσπερ γαρ και τα των νυχθερίδων όμματα προς το φέγγου έχει το μεθ' ημέραν, έτω και της ήμελέας toxñs o vos meos à thi quou feevegur celce wcérlwr. Ariftor. Metaphyf. lib. II. cap. 1.
+ Tuo per šv wasuline is so celégee aide the sailos, sugris se lig;07, xij zupbila níyse vis warles idorazior. Plato in Timæo.
“ Profecto eos ipfos, qui se aliquid certi habere arbitrantur, addubitare coget do&tis. « fimorum hominum de maxima re tanta diffenfio." Cic. de Natura Deor. lib. 1. 1 " Utinam cam facilè vera invenire pofiem, quam falsa convincere.” Id. Ibid.
“Επα εξαμενΘ. μετ' εμού.–Καί μοι δύσβατός γε τις τόπου φαίνεθαι και επίσκι: έσιν εν Gard; Bus êtspeuro. Plato de Republ. lib. IV.
| See Plato in Apologia Socratis. ** Είπεν, και δη τελευταιον έρθέγξα». «Ω Κρίτων, το 'Ασκληπιω οφείλομεν αλέκυόνες αλλά απόδοί, un aukonle. Plato in Phædone.
“ Illud vero nonne fummæ vanitatis ; quod ante mortem familiaręs suos rogavit, ut $ Æículapio gallum, quem voverat, pro fe facrarent," Lactant. lib. III.