Obrazy na stronie

ably to be chosen, and the practice of it to be recommended necef, sarily above all things; and yet they could never clearly and satisfactorily make out, upon what principles originally, and for what end ultimately, this choice was to be made, and upon what grounds it was universally to be supported. Hence they perpetually * disagreed, opposed, and contradicted one another in all their disputations to such a degree, that St. Austin somewhere out of Varro reckons up no less than 280 opinions concerning that one question, what was the chief good or final happiness of man. The effect of all which differences could not, without doubt, but be a mighty hindrance to that conviction and general influence which that great truth, in the certainty whereof they all clearly agreed (namely, that the practice of virtue was necessary and indispensable), ought to have had upon the minds and lives of men. This whole matter is excellently set forth by Lactantius : “ The ph¡losophers," faith + he, “ take them all together, did indeed discover all the particular “ doctrines of true religion ; but, because each one endeavoured to “ confute what the others asserted, and no one's fingle scheme was " in all its parts consistent, and agreeable to reason and truth;

and none of them were able to collect into one whole and entire so scheme the several truths dispersed ainong them all, therefore “ they were not able to maintain and defend what they had dif“ covered.” And again ; having set down a brief summary of the whole doctrine and design of true religion, from the original to the consummation of all things ; “ this entire scheme,” says I he, " because the philosophers were ignorant of, therefore they were “ not able to comprehend the truth; notwithstanding that they " faw and discovered fingly almost all the particulars of which the «« whole scheme consists. But this was done by different men and " at different times, and in different manners ;" (with various mixtures of different errors, in what every one discovered of truth fingly ;) and without finding the connexion of the causes, and conSequences and reasons of things ; from the mutual dependencies of which the compleatness and perfection of the whole scheme arises. Whereas, had there been any man, who could have collected and put together in order all the several truths which were taught fingly and scatteredly by philosophers of all the different fe&ts, and have

“Nec, qoid defendere debeant, scientes ; nec quid refutare. Incursanique paflım fing " delectu omnia quæ afferunt, quicunque diffentiunt." Lactant. lib. VII.

+ “ Totam igitur veritatem, & omne divinæ religionis arcanum philosophi attigerunt, " Sed aliis refellentibus, defendere id, quod invencrant, nequiverunt ; quia fingulis ratio “ non quadravit ; nec ea, quæ vera senserant, in sumomam redigere potucrunt." Lactant, lib. VII.

* “ Quam fummam, quia philofophi non comprehenderunt; nec veritatem comprehen. " dere poruerunt; quamvis ea ferè, quibus fumma ipsa conftat, & viderint & explicaverint. “ Sed diversi ac diverse illa omnia protulerunt, non annectentes nec causas rerum, nec con" sequentias, nec rationes ; ut fummam illam, quæ continet universa, & compingerent &

complerent." Lactant. lib. VII.

" Quod fi extitiffet aliquis qui' veritatem sparsam per fingulos, per sectasque diffufam, “ colligeret in unum, ac redigeret in corpus; is profe&o non diffentiret a nobis. Sed hoc "nemo facere, nisi veri peritus ac fciens, porest. Verum autem non nifi ejus fcire eft, qui • ft doctus a Deo." Id. ibid.


made up out of them one entire confiftent fcheme; truly he would not have differed much from us Chriftians, ; but this, it was not poslible for any man to do, without having the true fystem of things firft revealed to him. 5. AND THOSE THINGS WHICH THEY WERE ABLE TO'PROVE


Lastly : 'even those things, which the philosophers were not only themselves certain of, but which they have also been able to prove and explain to others, with sufficient clearness and plainnels ; such as are the most obvious and necessary duties of life ;- they have not get had authority enough to enforce and inculcate upon men's minds with so strong an impression as to influence and govern the general practice of the world. The truths which they proved by speculative reason * wanted - ftill fome more fenfible authority, to back them, and make them of more force and efficacy in practice; and the + precepts which they laid down, however evidently reason able and fit to be obcycd, seemed still to want weight, and to be but the precepts of men. Hence I none of the philosophers, even of those who taught the cleareft and certainest truths, and offered the best and wisest instructions, and enforced them with the strongest motives that could be, were yet ever able to work any remarkable change in the minds and lives of any confiderable part of mankind; as the preaching of Christ and his apostles undeniably did. Nor does it appear in hiftory, that ş any number of Socrates's or Plato's followers were convinced of the excellency of true virtue, or the certainty of its final reward, in such a manner as to be willing to lay down their lives for its fake; as innumerable of the difciples of Christ are known to have done. In fpeculation, indeed, it may perhaps seem possible, that, notwithstanding it must be con: fessed philofophy cannot discover any complete and satisfactory remedy for past miscarriages, yet the precepts and motives offered by the best philosophers might at leaft be sufficient to amend and reforin men's manners for the future. But in experience and prac

* " Platonis documenta, quamvis ad rem multum conferant, tamen parum habent fire i mitatis ad probandam & implendam veritatem.” Lactant. lib. VII.

+ " Quid ergo ? nihilne illi.(philosophi] simile præcipiunt ? Imo permulta, & ad ve

rum frequenter accedunt. Sed nihil ponderis habent illa præcepta, quia funt humana ; “ & auétoritate majori, id eft, divina illi, carent. Nemo igitur credit ; quia tam fe hoc “ minem putat esse qui audit, quam eft ille qui præcipit." Lactant, lib. Ill.

| Encino d' in dang Usaj tris Purbance; do Otivces bis an access to y degouévey W B.2017, o's τέτων έτως εχόντων. Διατίθενθαι Ιεδαίοι και Χριστιανοί σε του απ' αυτών καλαμίχο μέλλον και αιει.. -δεικνύτω δν και Κίλιαν ή και βελόμενο, τίνες διετέβησαν σε αιμνίων κολάσεων, υπό των τελετών και husnuzüro Origen. advers. Cell. lib. Vili.

Παρά μεν τοίς "Ελλησιν είς τις Φαίδων, και εκ οίδα ε δεύτερο και Πολίμαν, μελαβαλ θες από ασιώτου και μοχθηροτατα βία έφιλοσόφησαν παρει δε τω Ιησού, και μόνον τότε οι δαίικα, αλλ' αιεί και κολλαπλασίες οίτινες γενόμενοι σωφρόνων χερός. Idenι, 11b. 111.

“ Da mihi virum qui fit iracundus, &c. Numquis hæc philosophorum, &c." Lactant, lib. III. See this pallage cited above, p. 192.

Ο Σωκράτει μέν γαρ κδείς έπις ευθη υπερ τούτα τα εύγμαι αποζνήσκειν. Χρις δε το και από Σια κρήτες ατό μέρος γνωσθίνει και φιλόσοφοι ουδέ φιλολόγοι μόνον επείσθησαν, αλλά και παντελώς μειωται i ens ens pózo in Sarato xalipinourliso Justin. Åpolug. I.

tice it hath on the contrary appeared to be altogether impoffible, for philosophy and bare reason to reform mankind effe&tually, without the affistance of some higher principle. For, though the bare natural pofsibility of the thing cannot indeed easily be denied ; yet jų this cale (as Cicero excellently expreffes * it), in like manner as in phyfic, it matters nothing, whether a disease be such as that no man does, or no man can recover from it ; fo neither does it make any difference, whether by philosophy np man is, or no man can be made wise, and good. So that, without fome greater help and assistance, mankind is plainly left in a very bad ftate. Indeed, in the original uncorrupted state of human nature, before the mind of man was depraved with prejudicate opinions, corrupt affections, and vitipus inclinations, customs and habits, right reason may juftly be supposed to have been a 'fufficient guide, and a principle power ful enough to preserve men in the constant practice of their duty. But, in the present circumstances and condition of mankind, the wileft and most sensible of the philofophers themselves have not been backward to complain, that they found the understandings of men Lo dark and cloudy, their wills so biassed and inclined to evil, their paffions so outragious and rebelling against reafon, that they looked upon the rules and laws of right reason as very hardly practicable, and which they had very little hopes of ever being able to perfuade the world to submit to. In a word, they confeffed that human nature was strangely corrupted; and they acknowledged this corruption to be a disease whereof they knew not the true cause, and could not find out a fufficient remedy. So that the great duties of religion were laid down by them as matters of speculation and dispute, rather than as the rules of action ; and not so much urged upon the hearts and lives of men, as proposed to the admiration of thofe, who thought them hardly poshble to be effe&tually practised by the generality of men. To remedy all these disorders, and conquer all thefe corruptions, there was plainly wanting fome extraordinary and fupernatural affiftances which was above the reach of bare reafon and philofophy to procure, and yet without which the philosophers themselves were sensible there f.could never be any truly great men.

VII. For these reasons, there was plainly wanting a divine Revelation, to recover mankind out of their universally degenerate estate, into a state suitable to the original excellency of their nature. Which divine Revelation, both the neceflities of men, and their Datural notions of God, gave them reasonable ground to expect and hope for ; as appears from the acknowledgments which the best and wisest of the Heathen philosophers themselves have made, of their tense of the necessity and want of such a revelation ; and from their

* “ Nam fi, consensu omnium philofophorum, fapientiam nemo affequitur; in fummis « malis omnes fumus, quibus vos optimè coutultum a Diis immortalibus dicitis. Nam ut “ nihil intereft utrum nemo valeat, an nemo poffit valere ; fic non intelligo quid interiit, 4 utrum nemo ft sapiens, an nemo effe poffit." Cic. de Natura Deor. lib. ill. † “ Nemo unquam vir magnus, line divino afflatu fuit,” Cicero. 5


expressions of the hopes they had entertained, that God would somo time or other vouchlafe it unto them. 1. A DIVINE REVELATION ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR THE

RECOVERY OF MANKIND. There was plainly wanting a divine Revelation, to recover mankind out of their universal corruption and degeneracy; and without fuch a revelation, it was not possible that the world fhould ever be effe&nally reformed. For if (as has been before particularly shewn) the gross and stupid ignorance, the innumerable prejudices and vain opinions, the strong paffions and appetites of sense, and the many vitious customs and habits, which the generality of mankind continually labour under, make it undeniably too difficult a work for men of all capacities to discover every one for himself, by the bare light of nature, all the particular branches of their duty; but moft men, in the present state of things, have manifestly need of much teaching, and particular instruction: if those who were beft able to discover the truth and instruct others therein, namely the wifest and beft of the philosophers, were themselves unavoidably altogether ignorant of some do&rines, and very doubtful and uncertain of others, absolutely necessary to the bringing about that great end, the reformation of mankind : if those truths, which they were themselves very certain of, they were not yet able to prove and explain clearly enough to vulgar understandings : if even those things which they -proved fufficiently, and explained with all clearness, they had not

yet authority enough to inforce and inculcate upon men's minds with so strong an impression, as to influence and govern the general practice of the world; nor pretended to afford men any supernatural affiftance, which yet was very necessary to so great a work : and if, ifter ali, in the discovery of such matters as are the great motives of religion, men are apt to be more easily worked upon, and more strongly affected, by good testimony, than by the Atricteft abstract arguments ; so that, upon the whole, it is plain the philosophers were never by any means well qualified to reform mankind with any considerable success: then there was evidently wanting some particular revelation, which might supply all these defects : there was plainly a necessity of some particular revelation, to discover * in what manner, and with what kind of external service, God might acceptably be worshiped : there was a neceffity of some particular revelation to discover what expiation God would accept for fin; by which the authority, honour, and dignity of his laws might be effectually vindicated : there was a necessity of some particular revelation, to t give men full assurance of the truth of those great motives of religion, the rewards and punishments of a future ftate;

Νομοθέτης δεις αν και αι, οπότε μη τολμήση καινομων επί θεοσέβειαν, ήτις μη σαφές έχει τη τρέψαι πόλιν εαυτό.-μεν τοπαρίπαν ειδως, ώσπερ ον δυνατόν ειδέναι τη θητη φύσει των τούτων wigo. Plato in Epinomide.

Τα γαρ δή τοιαύτα [ιώ, θεραπείας] τ' έπιςάμεθα ημείς, οικίζοντές τε πόλιν αδεί άλλη πεισόpiede inov vo vy ixquely, cudè xarobnega išnguin, ana'r tu walio Dica. Plato de Republ. lib. IV.

+ Το μεν αληθές, ώ ξίνι, διίχυρίζεσθαι ταύτα έτως έχει, πολλών αμφισβητώνων, Θ ίσι. Plato de Legib. lib. I.

which, notwithstanding the strongest arguments of reason, men could not yet forbear doubting of: in fine, there was a necessity of some particular divine revelation, to * make the whole do&rine of religion clear and obvious to all capacities, to add weight and authority to the plainest precepts, and to furnish men with extraordinary assistances to enable them to overcome the corruptions of their nature. And without the assistance of such a revelation, it is manifeft, it was not possible that the world could ever be effectually reformed Ye may even give over," faith Socrates +, “ all hopes “ of amending men's manners for the future, unless God be pleased " to send you some other person to inftruct you." And Plato: " Whatever,” saith he $, " is set right and as it should be, in the “ present evil ftate of the world, can be so only by the particular



Since therefore there was plainly and confessedly wanting a divine revelation, to relieve the neceffities of men in their natural state ; and since no man can presume to say, that it is inconsistent with any of the attributes of God, or unbecoming the wisdom of the Creator of all things, to supply that want; to reveal to his creatures more fully the way to happiness; to make more particular discoveries of his will to them; tu set before them, in a clearer light, the rewards and punishments of a future ftate; to explain in what manner he will be pleased to be worshiped ; and to declare what satisfaction he will accept for sin, and upon what conditions he will receive returning finners ; nay fince, on the contrary, it seems more suitable to our natural notions of the goodnets and mercy of God, to suppose that he should do all this, than not: it follows undeniably, that it was most reasonable, and agreeable to the dictates of nature, to expect or hope for such a divine revelation. The generality of the heathen world, who were far more equal and less prejudiced judges in this matter, than modern Deifts, were fo fully persuaded, that the great rules for the conduct of human life muit receive their authority from heaven, that their chief law-givers thought it not a fufficient recommendation of their laws, that they were agreeable to the light of nature, unless they pretended also, that they received them from God. But I have no need, in this argument, to make use of the examples of idolatrous law-givers, The pluilosophers themselves, the best and wiseft, and the least superstitious of them, that ever lived, were not ashamed to confess openly their sense of the want of a divine revelation ; and to des

Totso ti y ti u sav.tv qush xuróralsu, xej dormley w'; ov ne recol. 15ue s'acusa paliv, Micár 4% raço ånd' od ley diocfary; HA LO:s vengiza. Pla:o in Epinomide. + είτα τον λο. πόν zívv xrc; 80:75 47:a.77 coveri pon tora rana Miró dos imité 418, xude

ipwr. Plato in Apulog. Socratis. + Eύ γρ χ ή ειδέναι, ό, τι τεράν σωθή τε και γένηται ούν δει, εν τοιαύτη καθαράσει πολιτειών, Θι2 uso em . Plato de Republ. lib. V.


« PoprzedniaDalej »