Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

VI.

PROP. 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 and learn to dispute about morality, though it had no effect at all nor influence upon their manners ; just as if a sick man should expect to be healed by hearing a physician discourse, though he never followed any of his directions. Undoubtedly, saith he, the mind of the one was exactly as much improved by such philosophy, as the health of the other's body by such physic: And no wonder the generality of the common hearers judged of their own improvement in philosophy by such false measures, when the enormous viciousness of the lives of the philosophers themselvest 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 Plato, and some others of that rank, this account is too plainly true of the greatest part of the philosophers. 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, but even in the most public manner

. I shall here only add the judgment of Cicero, a man as able to pass a right judgment in this

a

'Αλλ' οι πολλοί ταύτα μεν και πράττεσιν επί δε τον λόγον καταφεύγοντες

કે οίονται αιλοσοφεϊν, και έτως έσεσθαι σπουδαίοι όμοιον τε ποιέντες τους κάμνουσιν, οί των ιατρών ακέoυσι μεν επιμελώς και ποιούσι δ' ούθεν των προστασσομένων, ώσπερ εν ουδ' εκείνοι εύ εξουσι το σώμα, ούτω θεραπευόμενοι: ουδ' ούτοι την ψυxov, outav pinosocoûts. Arislot. Ethic. lib. 2. cap. 3.

+ Inclusos [philosophos) in angulis, facienda præcipere, quæ ne ipsi quidem faciunt qui loquuntur, linguæ et quoniam se a veris actibus removerunt, apparet eos exercendæ causa, vel advocandi graţia, artem ipsam philosophiæ reperisse.—Lactant. lib. 3.

few of the

matter as ever lived. Do you think,* says he, that PROP. these things (meaning the precepts of morality,) had

VI. any influence upon those men, (excepting only a very few of them,) who taught, and wrote, and disputed about them? No; who is there of all the philosophers, whose mind, and life, and manners were conforinable to right reason ? Whoever 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 slaves to filthy lusts, many to pride, many to covetousness, &c.

2. Those few extraordinary men of the philoso- And those phers, who did indeed in good measure sincerely

philoso obey the laws of natural religion themselves, and phers, who make it their chief business to instruct and exhort did indeed

sincerely others to do the same, were yet themselves entirely endeavour ignorant of some doctrines absolutely necessary to the to reform

, bringing about this great end, of the reformation were yet and recovery of mankind.

entirely In general: Having no knowledge of the whole

ignorant scheme, order, and state of things, the method of of some God's governing the world, his design in creating absolutely mankind, the original dignity of human nature, the necessary ground and circumstances of men's present corrupt bringing condition, the manner of the divine interposition ne about that cessary to their recovery, and the glorious end to great end. which God intended finally to conduct them: Having no knowledge (I say) of all this, their whole at. tempt to discover the truth of things, and to instruct others therein, was like wandering in the wide seat

* Sed hæc eadem num censes apud eos ipsos valere, nisi admodum paucos, a quibus inventa, disputata, conscripta sunt? Quotus enim quisque philosophorum invenitur, qui sit ita moratus, ita animo ac vita constitutus, ut ratio postulat ; qui disciplinam suam non ostentationem scientiæ, sed legem vitæ putet, qui obtemperet ipse sibi, et decretis suis pareat ? videre licet multos, libidinum servos, &c.Cic. Tusculan. Quæst. lib. 2.

+ Errant ergo velut in mari magno, nec quo ferantur intelligunt ; quia nec viam cernunt nec ducem sequuntur.-Lactant. lib. 6.

theinselves

doctrines

VI.

PROP. without knowing whither they were to go, or which

way they were to take, or having any guide to con-
'duct them: And accordingly the wisest of them were
never backward to confess their own ignorance and
great blindness ;* that truth was hid from themt as it
were in an unfathomable depth; that they were much
in the dark,# and very dull and stupid, not only as
to the profounder things of wisdom, but as to such
things also which seemed very capable of being in
great part discovered : Nay, that even those things
which in themselves were of all others the most ma-
nifest,g (that is, which, whenever made known, would
appear most obvious and evident,) their natural un.
derstanding was of itself as unqualified to find out
and apprehend as the eyes of bats to behold the light
of the sun; that the very first and most necessary
thing of all,|| the nature and attributes of God him-
self, were, notwithstanding all the general helps of
reason, very difficult to them to find out in particu-
lar, and still more difficult to explain; it being much
inore easy to say what God was not than what he
was :** And finally, that the method of instructing
men effectually, and making them truly wise and
good, was a thing very obscure and dark, and diffi-

* Ex cæteris philosophis, nonne optimus et gravissimus quisque confitetur, multa se ignorare; et multa sibi etiam atque etiam esse discenda?--Cic. Tusc. Quest. 3.

+ 'Ev Busy ångera.

| Tui ergo te, Cicero, libri arguunt, quam nihil a philosophia disci possit ad vitam. Hæc tua verba sunt, mihi autem non modo ad sapientiam cæci videmur, sed ad ea ipsa, quæ aliqua ex parte cerni videantur, hebetes et obtusi.-Lactant. lib. 3.

5 "Ωσπερ γάρ και τα των νυκτερίδων όμματα προς το φέγγος έχει το μεθ' ημέραν, έτω και της ημετέρας ψυχής ο νούς προς τα τη φύσει φανερώτατα TÁVTWV.Aristot. Metaphys. lib. 2. c. 1.

|| Τον μεν έν ποιητής και πατέρα τέδε τά παντός ευρείν τε έργον, και εύρόντα λέγειν εις πάντας αδύνατον.-Plato in Τimeo.

Profecto eos ipsos, qui se aliquid certi habere arbitrantur, addubitare coget doctissimorum hominum de maxima re tanta dissensio. -Cic. de Natura Deor. lib. 1. ** Utinam tam facilè vera invenire possem, quam falsa convincere. Id. ibid.

[ocr errors]

VI.

were very

cult to be found out :* In a word, Socrates himself PROP. 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 believed that it was merely for that very reason that the oracle pronounced him the wisest of men.t

More particularly ; the manner in which God Particu. might be acceptably worshipped these men were en- larly they tirely and unavoidably ignorant of. That God ought ignorant in to be worshipped is, in the general, as evident and what manplain from the light of nature as any thing can be ; might be but in what particular manner, and with what kind acceptably

worshipof service he will be worshipped, cannot be certainly ped. discovered by bare reason. Obedience to the obliga. tions of nature, and imitation of the moral attributes of God, the wisest philosophers 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 thevery best of them complied therefore generally with the oưuward religion of their country, and advised others to do the same; and so, notwithstanding all their wise discourses, they fell lamentably into the practice of the most foolish idolatry. Plato, after having delivered very noble, and almost divine truths concerning the nature and attributes of the Supreme God, weakly

[ocr errors]

* "Επε ευξάμενος μετ' εμού.-Και μοι δύσβατός γέ τις τόπος φαίνεται και επίσκιος έστιν εν σκοτεινός και δυσδιερεύνητος.-Plato de Republ. lib. 4.

+ See Plato in Apologia Socratis.

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 Æsculapius. But herein Lactantius was certainly mistaken; for Socrates undoubtedly spake this in mockery of Æsculapius, looking upon death as his truest deliverance.

"Ειπεν, δ' δη τελευταίον έφθέγξατο· 'Ω Κρίτων, το Ασκληπιό οφείλομεν άλεκτρυόνα: αλλά απόδοτε, και μη αμελήσητε.-Plato in Phedone.

Illud vero nonne summe vanitatis, quod ante mortem familiares suos rogavit, ut Æsculapio gallum, quem voverat, pro se sacrarent? -Lactant. lib. 3.

[ocr errors]

VI.

PROP. advises men to worship likewise inferior gods,* de

mons, and spirits, and dared not to condemn the worshipping even of statues also and images, dedicated according to the laws of their country; as if the honour they paid to lifeless idols could procure the favour and good-will of superior intelligences ;t And so he corrupted and spoiled the best philosophy in the world by adding idolatry to that worship which he had wisely and bravely before proved to be due to the creator of all things. [ After him, Cicero, the greatest and best philosopher that Rome or perhaps any other nation ever produced, allowed men to continue the idolatry of their ancestors ;|| advised them to conform themselves to the superstitious religion of their country,s in offering such sacrifices to different gods as were by law established; and disapproves and finds fault with the Persian Magi,** for burning the temples of the Grecian gods, and asserting that the whole universe was God's temple: Inft

Πρώτον μεν, φαμεν, τιμάς τας μετ' ολυμπίες τε και της τον πόλιν έχοντας θεές, τους χθονίοις άν τις θεούς άρτια και δεύτερα και αριστερά νέμων, ορθόταία του της ευσέβειας σκοπού τυγχάνοι.- -Μετά θες δε τέσδε, και τους δαίμοσιν όν έμφρων οργιάζοιτ' άν.Επακολεθεί δ' αυτούς ιδρύματα öy' '

και
ίδια πατρώων θεών κατά νόμον οργιαζόμενα.-Plato de Legib. lib. 4.

+ Tες μεν γαρ των θεών ορώντες σαφώς, τιμώμεν των δε εικόνας αγάλματα ίδρυσάμενοι, ές ημίν αγάλλεσι, καίπερ αψύχους όντας, εκείνους ηγέμεθα, τες εμψύχους θεούς πολλήν διά ταυτ’ έννοιαν και χάριν έχειν.-Plato de Legib. lib. 11.

* Τα Πλάτωνα ούκ απιθανως μεν ειρημένα, ου μήν και διέθεντο τον φιλόσοφον αξίως καν αυτό αναστραφήναι εν τη προς τον ποιητης των όλων ευσεβεια, ήν έχρήν μη νοθεύειν, μηδέ μιάινειν τη ειδωλολατρεία.-Orig. advers, Cels. lib. 6.

|| A patribus acceptos Deos placet coli. Cic. de Legib. lib. 2.

s Item illud ex institutis pontificum et aruspicum non mutandum est, quibus hostiis immolandum cuique Deo.-Id. ibid.

Nec sequor Magos Persarum, quibus auctoribus Xerxes inflammâsse templa Græciæ dicitur, quod parietibus includerent Deos, quorum hic mundus omnis templum esset et domus. Melius Græci atque nostri, qui, ut augerent pietatem in Deos, easdem illos, quas nos urbes incolere voluerunt. Id ibid.

++ Video te, Cicero, terrena et manufacta venerari. Vana esse intelligis, et tamen eadem facis quæ faciunt ipsi quos ipse stultisssimos confiteris. -Si libenter errant etiam ii, qui errare se sentiunt quanto magis vulgus indoctum ? - Lactant. lib. 2.

**

« AnteriorContinuar »