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PROP. most of their discourses upon these subjects have
been rather speculative and learned, nice and subtile disputes, than practical and universally useful instructions. They proved, by strict and nice argumentation, that the practice of virtue is wise and reasonable, and fit to be chosen, rather than that it is of plain, necessary, and indispensable obligation ; and were able to deduce the will of God only by such abstract and subtile reasonings as the generality of men had by no means either abilities or opportunities to under. stand or to be duly affected by, Their very profession and manner of life led them to make their philosophy rather an entertainment of leisure time, * a trialof
* wit and parts, an exercise of eloquence, and of the art and skill of good speaking, than an endeavour to reform the manners of men, by showing them their plain and necessary duty: And accordingly the study of it, was, as Cicerot himself observes, unavoidably confined to a few, and by no means fitted for the bulk and common sort of mankind, who, as they cannot judge of the true strength of nice and abstract arguments, so they will always be suspicious of some fallacy in them. None but men of parts and learning, of study and liberal education, have been able to profit by the sublime doctrine of Plato, or by the subtile disputations of other philosophers; whereas the doctrine of morality, which is the rule of life and manners, ought to be plain, easy, and familiar, and suited fully to the capacities of all men. Secondly, another
Profecto omnis istorum disputatio, quanquam uberrimos fontes virtutis et scientiæ contineat, tamen collata cum horum (qui rempublicam gubernant] actis perfectisque rebus, vereor ne non tantum videatur attulisse negotiis hominum utilitatis, quantum oblectationem quandam otii.-Cic. de Repub. Fragm.
+ Est, inquit Cicero, philosophia paucis contenta judicibus, multitudinem consulto ipsa, fugiens.—Maximum itaque argumentum est, philosophiam quod neque ad sapientiam tendere, neque ipsam esse sapientiam, quod mysterium ejus, barba tantum celebratur et pallio.-Lactant. lib. 3.
t'ολίγες μεν ώνησεν ή περικαλλής και υπισετηδευμένη Πλάτωνος λέξις, πλάονας δε ή των ευτελέστερον άμα και πραγματικώς και εστοχασμένως των
reason why the philosophers were never able to prove PROP. and explain clearly and distinctly enough, even those things of which they were the most certain, to persons of all capacities, in order to their complete conviction and reformation, was because they never were able to frame to themselves any complete, regular, and consistent system or scheme of things; but the truths which they taught* were single and scat. tered, accidental as it were, and hit upon by chance, rather than by any knowledge of the whole true state of things; and consequently less universally convictive. Nothing could be more certain, (as they all well knew,)than that virtue was unquestionably to be cho. sen, and the practice of it to be recommended necessarily 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,t 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, πολλών διδαξάντων και γραψάντων έστι γεν ιδείν, τον μεν Πλάτωνα εν χερσα Tūv dozóvtwv sivai pinorów jóvev.-Orig. Advers. Cels. lib. 6.
'Αγροικότερον ειπών ο Ιησές, Τα θέλοντι τον χιτώνα σε λαβών άφες και το ιμάτιον, βιωφελέστερον κεκίνηκε τον λόγον και παρέστησεν έτως επών, ή ως έν το Κρίτωνα Πλάτων, και μηδ' ακέραν ιδιώται δύνανται, αλλά μόγις οι τα έγκύκλια προς της σεμνής Ελλήνων φιλοσοφίας μεμαθηκότες.-Ιd. lib. 7.
* Ουκ ότι αλλότριά έστι τα Πλάτωνος διδαγμάτα τα Χριστού αλλ' ότι εκ έστι πάντη όμοια, ώσπερ έδε τα των άλλων. έκαστος γάρ τις, απο μέρες
, . του σπερματικά 9ία λογα το συ/γενές ορών, καλώς έφθέγξατο. Οι δε ταναντία αυτοϊς εν κυριωτέροις ειρηκότες, εκ επιστήμην την αποπλον και γνώσιν την åvéresrov paívovrch médi.-Justin. Apolog. 1.
+ Nec quid defendere debeant, scientes; nec quid refutare.' Incursantque passim sine delectu omnia quæ asserunt, quicunque dissentiunt.--Laclant. lib. 7.
PROP. (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 philosophers, saith he,* take them altogether, 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 single 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 scheme the several truths dispersed among them all, therefore they were not able to maintain and defend what they had discovered. 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 het because the philosophers were ignorant of, therefore they were not able to comprehend the truth, notwithstanding that they saw and discovered singly 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 singly ;) and without finding the connexion of the causes, and consequences, and reasons of things, from the mutual dependencies of which the completeness and perfection of the whole
* Totam igitur veritatem, et omne divinæ religionis arcanum philosophi attigerunt. Sed aliis refellentibus, defendere id, quod invenerant, nequiverunt; quia singulis ratio non quadravit; nec ea quæ vera senserant, in summam redigere potuerunt.-Lactant. lib. 7.
+ Quam summam, quia philosophi non comprehenderunt, nec veritatem comprehendere potuerunt, quamvis ea ferè, quibus summa ipsa constat, et viderint et explicaverint. Sed diversi ac diverse illa omnia protulerunt, non annectentes nec causas rerum, nec consequentias, nec rationes ; ut summam illam, quæ continet universa, et compingerent et complerent.-Lactant. lib. 7.
Quod si extitisset aliquis qui veritatem sparsam per singulos, per sectasque diffusam, colligeret in unum, ac redigeret in corpus, is profecto non dissentiret à nobis. Sed hoc nemo facere, nisi veri perituse aeosciens, potest. Verùm autem non nisi ejus scire est, qui sit doctus a Deo, Iit. ibid.
to prove and ex
scheme arises; whereas, had there been any man PROP. who could have collected and put together in order all the several truths which were taught singly and scatteredly by philosophers of all the different sects, and have made up out of them one entire consistent scheme, truly he would not have differed much from us Christians : But this it was not possible for any man to do, without having the true system of things first revealed to him. 6. Lastly : Even those things which the philoso- And those
things phers were not only themselves certain of
, but which which they they have also been able to prove and explain to were able others, with sufficient clearness and plainness,—such as are the most obvious and necessary duties of life,- plain clearthey have not yet had authority enough to enforce
distinctly and inculcate upon men's minds with so strong an enough, impression as to influence and govern the general yet they practice of the world. The truths which they prov- sufficient ed by speculative reason wanted still some more sen- authority
to enforce sible authority to back them,* and make them 'of in practice. more force and efficacy in practice; and the precepts which they laid down, however evidently reasonable and fit to be obeyed, † seemed still to want weight, and to be but the precepts of men.
Hence none of the philosophers, even of those who taught the clearest and certainest truths, and offered the best and wisest instructions, and enforced them with the strongest motives that could be, were yet ever able
* Platonis documenta quamvis ad rem multum conferant, tamen parum habent firmitatis ad probandam et implendam veritatem.Lactant. lib. 7.
+ Quid ergo? nihilne illi [philosophi] siniile præcipiunt ? Imo permulta, et ad verum frequenter accedunt. Sed nibil ponderis habent illa præcepta, quia sunt humana, et auctoritate majori, id est, divina illa carent. Nemo igitur credit, quia tam se hominem putat esse qui audit, quam est ille qui præcipit.-Laclant. lib. 3.
Η "Ειποιμι δ' αν αληθεύειν, τους δυνηθέντας διαθεϊναι τους ακροατάς των λεγομένων έτω βιoύντας, ως τέτων ούτως εχοντων. Διατίθενται Ιεδαίοι και Χριστιανοί περί του απ' αυτών καλεμένα μέλλοντος αιώνος.
-δεικνύτω ούν και κέλσος ή ο βελόμενος, τίνες διετέθη, αν περί
PROP. to work any remarkable change in the minds and
lives of any considerable part of mankind, as the preaching of Christ and his apostles undeniably did. Nor does it appear in history* that 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 sake, as innumerable of the disciples of Christ are known to have done. In speculation, indeed, it may, perhaps, seem possible, that notwithstanding it must be confessed philosophy cannot discover any complete and satisfactory remedy for past miscarriages, yet the precepts and motives offered by the best philosophers might at least be sufficient to amend and reform men's manners for the future: But in experience and practice it hath, on the contrary, appeared to be altogether impossible for philosophy and bare reason to reform mankind effectually, without the assistance of some higher principle: For though the bare natural possibility of the thing cannot indeed easily be denied, yet in this case (as Cicero excellently expresses itt,) in like manner as in physic it matters nothing whether a disease be
αιωνίων κολάσεων, υπό των τελετών και μυσταγωγών.-Origen. advers. Cels. lib. 8.
Παρά μεν τοίς "Ελλησιν είς τις Φαίδων, και ουκ οίδα ει δεύτερος, και εις Πολέμων, μεταβαλόντες από ασώτου και μοχθηροτάτου βία έφιλοσόφησαν παρά δε τώ Ιησέ, και μόνον τότε οι δώδεκα, αλλ' αίει και πολλαπλασίες οΐτινές γενόμενοι σωφρόνων χορός.-Ιdem, lib. 3.
Da mihi virum qui sit iracundus, &c. Numquis hæc philosophorum, &c.--Laclant, lib. 3. See this passage cited above.
* Σωκράτει μεν γαρ έδεις επιστεύθη υπερ τότε του δόγματος αποθνήσκειν. Χριστώ δε τω και από Σωκράτους από μέρους γνωσθεντι και φιλόσοφοι έδε φιλολόγοι μόνον επείσθησαν, αλλά και παντελώς ιδιώται και δόξης και φόβου και Savúrou xarapgovnouvres.-- Justin. Apolog. 1:
+ Nam si, consensu omnium philosophorum, sapientiam nemo ase sequitur; in summis malis omnes sumus, quibus vos optimè consultum à Diis immortalibus dicitis. Nam ut nihil interest utrum nemo valeat, an nemo possit valere ; sic non intelligo quid intersit, utrum nemo sit sapiens, an nemo esse possit. Cic. de Natura Deor. lib. 3.