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Philofophy, confider'd as a Science, had no ancienter Original than Socrates. Before, it lay in loofe and incoherent Sayings, fuch as thofe of Solon and Thales, and the reft of the Seven Wife Men, who liv'd but in the time of Cyrus. Philosophy of all kinds, has always been a matter of Learning, and confined to learned Men: There never was any one Nation of Pythagoræans, or Platonifts, or Stoicks, or Ariftotelians; the greatest part of the Nations of the World, never heard fo much as of the Names of the most celebrated Philofophers, and know nothing at all of their DoЯrine.
That Philofophy was defective in its Doctrines is notorious: For, as Lactantius obferves, the very Name of Philofophy (invented by Pythagoras, who yet would be thought to have had fome fupernatural Affiftance) implies a Confeffion of Ignorance, or Imperfection of their Knowledge, and a Profeffion only to fearch after Wifdom. And Pythagoras gave this very reason why he ftyled himself a Philofopher, Becaufe no Man can be Wife but God only; and yet this vain Man sometimes pretended himself to be a God. Socrates was the firft of all the Philofophers that apply'd himself to the Study of Morality; and he, who firft undertook to render Philofophy useful and beneficial to Mankind, profefs'd to know nothing at all certainly, but to difprove the Errors of others, not to eftablish or discover Truth: In which he was follow'd by Plato; and before him, 'Democritus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and almost all the ancient Philofophers, agreed in this, though they agreed in few things elfe, that they could attain to no certain knowledge of things. So that, as Tully fays, Arcefilas was not the Founder of a new Academy, or Sect of Phi
i Diog. Laërt. in Pythag. Jamblich. vit. Pythag.
k Tull. Acad. Q. lib. i.
1 Vid. Diog. Laërt. in Pyrrhon.
lofophers, who profeffed to doubt of all things; for 1 he taught no more than what the ancient Philofophers had generally taught before him, unless it were that Socrates profefs'd to know his own ignorance of things, but Arcefilas would not own himself certain of fo much as that. Indeed, the notions of Philofophy were fo little convincing, even in the plainest. matters, that many of the greatest Wits took up in Sceptici fm, or little better. No Man had ftudied all the Hypotheses of Philofophy more, or underftood them better, or had better explained them than Tully; and yet at laft all concluded in uncertainty, as he often profeffes: the like may be faid of Varro, Cotta, and others. It would be endless to infift upon the contrary Notions of their Philofophers; Justin Martyr and others of the Fathers fhew at large the very different and contrary Opinions of the principal of them,' not only in things of lefs moment, but in the Do&trines of Religion and Morality: Whereas the Wri ters of the Old Testament are both of greater Antiquity than the Philofophers, and of fo entire agree ment among theinfelves, m that they all speak the fame things, and teach the fame Doctrines, tho' living in different Ages and Countries; because they were but the Inftruments and Minifters in declaring the Divine Truth, God is the Author, who infpired them in all they wrote; and therefore the Creation of the World, the Formation of Man, the Immortality of the Soul, and a future Judgment, with whatever elfe is neceffary to be known, are deliver'd by them in fuch a manner, as if all had been uttered by the fame mouth.
The Doctrine of Philofophy concerning God and Providence, and a Future State, was very imperfect and uncertain, as Socrates himself declared juft before his Death: but what could be certain to him, that
m Juft. Martyr. Cohort. ad Græc.
profefs'd to doubt of every thing? The Errors of the Philofophers concerning Providence, are difcovered and confuted by Nemefius, in an admirable Difcourfe upon that Subject.. • Varro computed near Three hundred Opinions concerning the Summum Bo- i num; they were fo far from being able to give any › certain Rules and Directions for the Government of our Lives, that they could by no means agree in what the chief Happiness of Man confifts, or what the aim and defign of our Actions ought to be. Plato taught the lawfulness and expediency of Mens having their Wives in common; and both Socrates and Cato. must hold a community of Wives lawful, as we learn from their Practice for they lent out their Wives tor others, as if it had been a very generous and friend-> ly Act, and the very heighth and perfection of theirs Philofophy. It was a practice both among the Greeks and Romans, to part with their Wives to other Men; though Mercer thinks the Romans were divorced from their Wives before others took them; because Cato is blamed for taking his Wife again after the Death of Hortenfius, without the Solemnity of a new Mar riage. Fornication was fo far from being difallowed by the Heathen, that it was rather recommended as a Remedy against Adulteries by Cato himself, whofer Intemperance in Drinking was likewife notorious; Pliny reprefents it as his greatest Praife, that Men reis tained their regard and reverence for him, even when they found him in Drink. Many of the Philofophers held Self-murther lawful, and did themselves fet an Example of it to their Followers. The expofing of
n Nemef. de Nat. Hom. c. 44.
o Aug. de Civ. l. xix. c. 1.
P Demofth. pro Phormione. Strabo, 1. xi. Alex. ab Alex. 1. i. c. 24.
4 Horat. Serm. 1 i. Sat. 2. Cic. pro M. Cœlio. Plin. lib. iii. Ep. 12.
Children to be ftarved, or otherwife deftroyed, was practifed amongst the moft civilized Heathen Nations; and it being foretold fome time before the Birth of Auguftus, that a King of the Romans would be born that Year, the Senate made a Decree, s Nequis illo anno genitus educaretur. Plutarch himself fays, that he could find nothing unjust or difhoneft in the Laws of Lycurgus, though Theft, community of Wives, and the murthering of fuch Infants as they faw weak and fickly, and therefore thought they would prove unfit to ferve the Commonwealth, were a part of those Laws.
This was "one of the Precepts of those who were honoured with the Title of the Seven Wife Men of Greece, Be kind to your Friends, and revenge your felf upon your Enemies. Revenge was esteemed not only lawful, but honourable; and a defire of Popular. Fame and Vain Glory were reckoned among the Vertues of the Heathen, and were the greateft motive and encitement they had to any other Vertue Plutarch tells us of Ariftides, fo famed for Juftice, that tho' he were strictly just in private Affairs, yet in things of publick concernment he made no fcruple to act according as the prefent condition of the Commonwealth feemed to require. For it was his Maxim, that in fuch cases Juftice muft give way to Expediency; and he gives an inftance, how Ariftides advised the Athenians to act contrary to their most folemn Contract and Oath, imprecating upon himself the punishment of the Perjury, to avert it from the Commonwealth. Tully, in the Third Book of his Offices, where he treats of the ftri&teft Rules of Juftice, and proposes so many admirable Examples of it, yet refolves the notion of Juftice only into a Principle of Honour; upon which he concludes, that no Man fhould
s Sueton. Auguft. c. 94. t Plutarch. in Lycurg. Sofiad. apud Stobæum. Serm. 3.
Plut. in Ariftide.
do a dishonest Action, though he could conceal it both from God and Men; and determines, that an Oath is but an Appeal to a Man's own Mind or Conscience. Cùm verò jurato dicenda fententia fit, meminerit Deum fe adhibere teftem, id eft (ut arbitror) mentem fuam, qua nihil homini dedit ipfe Deus divinius.
The Indians themselves, whatever may be thought to the contrary, have naturally as good Senfe and Parts as other People; which y Acofta fets himself to prove in divers inftances: but they had lefs communication with thofe who retained revealed Religion; and by their own Vices and the Subtilty of the Devil, the Notions, which they had received from it, were loft or perverted.
The Egyptians, who were fo famous for their Learning, are a great inftance how poor a thing humane Reason is without the Affiftance of Divine Revelation: For all their profound Learning did but lead them to the groffeft Idolatry, whilft they conceived God to be only an Anima Mundi, and therefore to be worfhipped in the feveral Parts and Species of the Univerfe. Yet whilft they deified not only the Nile, but the vileft Creatures, and almoft every part of the inferior World, they paid no fuch Veneration to the Heavens. They offered humane Sacrifices, and obferved obfcene Rites: But † Amofis, if we may credit Manetho, cited by Porphyry, abolished humane Sacrifice at Heliopolis: For what could be more unnatural, and against all common Reason, than to worfhip Beafts, and at the fame time to facrifice Men? They had more forts of Religion among them than any other People, and a accufed each other of Impie
y Jof. Acoft. Hift. lib. iv. c. 1.
z Phil. Jud. vit. Mof. 1. iii.
* Athenæ, 1. iv. c. 21. Diod. Sic. 1. i. c. 2. Dion. Caff. 1. 42. Porph. de Abftin. 1. ii. §. 55.
a Diod. Sic. ibid. c. 4. Dion. Caff. ib.