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fore, when Alexander laid siege to their city, they chained Appollo to Hercules, to prevent his giving them the slip.
$ 20. Revenge and self-murder were not only tolerated, but esteemed heroic by the best of the Heathen. I know not, in all profane history, six more illustrious characters, than those of Lycurgus, Timoleon, Cicero, Cato Uticensis, Brutus, and Germanicus. The first encouraged tricking and stealing, by an express law. The second, upon principle, murdered his own brother. Cicero, with all his fine talk about religion and virtue, had very little of either; as may appear by what he says, (I think it is in a letter to Atticus) on the death of his daughter Tullia, “I hate the very gods, who hitherto have been so profuse in their favours to me;" and by deserting his friends and his country and turning a servile flatterer to Cæsar. concludes all his mighty heroism with this exclamation : “ Vir. tue, I have pursued thee in vain, and found thee to be but an empty name;" and then kills himself. Cato's virtue was not strong enough to hinder his turning a public robber and oppressor, (witness his Cyprian expedition ;) nor to bear up against the calamities of life; and so he stabbed himself, and ran away like a coward, from his country and the world. Germanicus, who exceeded all men in his natural sweetness of temper, at the approach of death, called his friends about him, and spent his last moments in pressing them to take revenge of Piso and Plancina, for poisoning or bewitching him; in directing them how this might best be done ; and in receiving their oaths for the performance of his request. His sense of religion he thus expressed on that occasion : “ Had I died by the decree of fate, I should have had just cause of resentment against the gods, for hurrying me away from my parents, my wife and my children, in the flower of my youth, by an untimely death.”
§ 21. Socrates, Plato, and Cicero, who were more inclined to the belief of a future existence than the other philosophers, plead for it with arguments of no force; speak of it with the utmost uncertainty ; and, therefore, are afraid to found their system of duty and virtue on the expectation of it. Their notions of morality were of a piece with their religion, and had little else for a foundation than vain glory. Tully, in his Treatise of Friendship, says, that virtue proposes glory as its end, and hath no other reward. Accordingly, he maintains, that wars undertaken for glory, are not unlawful, provided they are carried on without the usual cruelty. Diogenes, and the sect of the Cynics, held, that parents have a right to sacrifice and eat their children; and that there is nothing shameful in committing the grossest acts of lewdness publicly, and before the faces of mankind. The virtuous sentiments discovered by the
philosophers on some occasions, will neither palliate these execrable principles, nor suffer us to think those who could abet them, fit instructors for mankind. Zeno, Cleombrotus, and Menippus, committed murder on themselves; the last, because he had lost a considerable sum of money, which, as he was an usurer, went a little too near his heart. That I do not charge the philosophers with worse principles and practices, than they themselves maintain, and their own Payan historians ascribe to them, any one may satisfy himself who will consult Diogenes, Laertius, Sextus Empiricus, Lucian, Plutarch, and the works of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero.
$ 22. Thus, it is plain, whether we consider what the human understanding could do, or what it actually did, that it could not have attained to a sufficient knowledge of God, without revelation ; so that the demonstration brought in favour of some religion, ends in a demonstration of the revealed.
When we attentively consider the nature of man, we find it necessary be should have some religion. When we consider the nature of God, we must conclude he never would have made a falsehood necessary to the happiness of his rational creatures, and that therefore there must be a true religion. And when we consider, that, by our natural faculties, it is extremely difficult to arrive at a right idea of God, till he reveals it to us, that all the Gentile world hath run into the grossest theological errors, and, in consequence of these, into the most enormous customs and crimes; and that no legislator ever founded his scheme of civil goveroment on any supposed religious dictates of nature, but always on some real or pretended revelations: we cannot help ascribing all the true religion in the world to divine instruction, and all the frightful variety of religious errors to human invention; and to that dark and degenerate nature, by the imaginary light of which, Deists suppose the right idea of God may be easily and universally discovered.
§ 23. Socrates, who never travelled out of Greece, had nothing to erect a scheme of religion or morality on, but the scattered fragments of truth, handed down from time immemorial among his countrymen, or imported by Pythagoras, Thales, and others, who had been in Egypt and the East. These he picked out from a huge heap of absurdities and errors, under which they were buried ; and, by the help of a most prodigious capacity, laying them together, comparing them with the nature of things and drawing consequences from them, he found reason to question the soundness of the Grecian theology and morality. But this is all the length he seems to have gone. He reasoned extremely well against the prevailing errors of his time; but was able to form no system of religion or morality. This was a work above the strength of his nature, and the lights he enjoyed. He taught his disciples to worship the gods, and to ground the distinction between right and wrong on the laws of their country; in the latter of which he followed the saying of his master, Archelaus, who taught, that what is just or dishonest, is defined by law, not by nature.
$24. "The notions of Plato concerning the divine nature, were infinitely more sublime and nearer the truth, than those of his master, Socrates. He did not content himself merely with removing errors: He ventured on a system ; and maintained, that virtue is a science, and that God is the object and source of duty; that there is but one God, the fountain of all being, and superior to all essence ; that he hath a Son, called The World: that there is a judgment to come, by wbich the just, who have suffered in this life, shall be recompensed in the other, and the wicked punished eternally; that God is omnipresent: and, consequently, that the wicked, if he were to dive into the deepest caverns of the earth, or should get wings, and fly into the heavens, would not be able to escape from him: that man is formed in the image of God; and that, in order to establish laws and government, relations made by true traditions and ancient oracles, are to be consulted. These points, so much insisted on by Plato, are far from being the growth of Greece, or his own invention, but derived from Eastern traditions, which, we know, he travelled for, at least as far as Egypt. He was wiser than his teacher, (who was a much greater man,) because his lights were better : But, as they were not sufficient, he ran into greater errors, speaking plainly as if he believed in a plurality of gods; making goods, women, and children, common, &c.
$ 25. The natural faculties of men, in all nations, are alike: and, did nature itself furnish all men with the means and materials of knowledge, philosophy need never turn traveller, either in order to her own improvement, or to the communication of her lights to the world. How came it to pass, that Scythia did not produce so many, so great philosophers as Greece? I think it very evident, that the great difference between these countries as to learning and instruction, arose from this : The latter had the benefit of commerce with the Phænicians, from whence they came by the knowledge of letters, and probably of navigation; and, with the Egyptians, from whom they learned the greater part of their theology, policy, arts, and sciences. Such advantages, the Scythians wanted; and, therefore, although their natural talents were as good as those of the Grecians, they were not able to make any improvements in philosophy. Why are the Asiatic Scythians at this day as ignorant as ever, while the European Scythians are little inferior to the other nations of Europe in arts and politeness? And how does it come to pass, that we, of this day, take upon us to approve the philosophy of Socrates and
Plato, rather than that of Epicurus and Aristippus? The Grecians were divided in this matter: some followed the notions of the former, and, others, those of the latter. Why did not reason put the matter out of question in those times, or at least immediately after? The infinite contradictions and uncertainties among the ancient philosophers, produced the sects of the Sceptics. In respect to religion, Socrates and Plato either were, or pretended to be, Sceptics, beating down the absurd notions of others, but seldom building up any thing of their own; or, when they did, building on mere conjectures, or arguments suspected by themselves.
$26. If it be said, the finding out of truth by the light of nature, is a work of time; time hath taught the Tartars, Africans, and Americans, little or nothing of true theology, or morality, even yet. Time, of itself, can search nothing. It was the Christian religion that opened the eyes of the polite nations of Europe, and even of the deists of this age, wherein their eyes are still open, and they have any true principles by which they are able to examine the philosophy of the ancients, and, by comparing their several opinions one with another, and with the truths derived from the Christian revelation, to decide in favour of some against the rest.
§ 27. As to the doctrine of the IMMORTALITY OF Soul; it is certain, nothing can be more agreeable to reason, when once the doctrine is proposed and thoroughly canvassed; while, at the same time, there is no one probable opinion in the world, which mankind, left entirely to themselves, would have been more unlikely to have started. Who, if he was not assured of it by good authority, would ever take it into his head to imagine, that man, who dies, and rots, and vanishes for ever, like all other animals, still exists? It is well, if this, when proposed, can be believed ; but, to strike out the thought itself, is somewhat, I am afraid, too high and difficult for the capacity of men. The only natural argument, of any weight, for the immortality of the soul, takes its rise from this observation, that justice is not extended to the good, nor executed upon the bad man in this life ; and, that as the Governor of the world is just, man must live hereafter to be judged. But as this only argument that can be drawn from mere reason, in order either to lead us to a discovery of our own immortality, or to support the opinion of it when once started, is founded entirely on the knowledge of God and his attributes; and, as we have already seen, that such knowledge is almost unattainable by the present light of nature, the argument itself, which, before the fall, could not possibly have been thought of, is, since the fall, clogged with all the difficulties mere reason labours under, in finding out a right idea of God. And, besides, this argument, in itself, is utterly inconclusive, on the
principles of the deists of our age and nation : because they insist that virtue fully rewards, and vice fully punishes itself. It is no wonder, that many heathen nations believed a future state, as they received it by tradition from their ancestors. But yet, there is this evidence, that mankind had not this doctrine merely from the easy and plain dictates of reason and nature, that many did not believe it.
§ 28. Socrates, in the Phædon of Plato, says most men were of opinion, that the soul upon its separation from the body, is dissipated and reduced to nothing. And Tully, in his first Tusculan question, says, Phercydes Cyrus, preceptor to Pythagoras, was the first person known to the learned world, who taught the iminortality of the soul. The other arguments brought by Plato and Cicero for the immortality of the soul, besides that already mentioned, are very inconclusive. They themselves thought so. The former, in his Phædon, makes Socrates speak with some doubt concerning his own arguments, and introduces Simmias saying to Socrates, ofter having listened to his principal reasonings, “ We ought to lay hold of the strongest arguments for this doctrine, that either we ourselves, or others can suggest to us. If both ways prove ineffectual, we must however put up with the best proofs we can get, till some promise or revelation shall clear up the point to us. One of Plato's arguinents for the immortality of the soul, is this : “Every cause produces an effect contrary to itself; and that therefore, as life produces death, so death shall produce life.” Cicero, to prove that the soul will exist after it is separated from the body, endeavours to prove that it existed before it was joined to it; and to that end he insists, " that what we call aptness in children to learn, is nothing more than memory." Another argument of Plato is this: “ That alone which moves itself, inasmuch as it is never deserted by itself, never ceases to move : but the mind moves itself, and borrows not its motion from any thing else, and therefore must move, and consequently exist for ever."
The wisdom of Socrates and Plato united, produce such arguments for a most favourite opinion, as they themselves are dissatisfied with, and therefore call for more than human help.
§ 29. Cicero being so fond of this opinion, that, as he says he would rather err with Plato in holding it, than think rightly with those who deny it, poorly echoes the arguments of Plato; adds little to them himself; and at the conclusion, in a manner giving up the point, with all the arguments brought to support it, endeavours to comfort himself and others against the approach of death, by proving death to be no evil, even supposing the soul to perish with the body. And this great philosopher, with all his knowledge, gives but one lot to the good and evil