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Philosophy, consider'd as a Science, had no ancienter Original than Socrates. Before, it lay in loose and incoherent Sayings, fuch as those of Solon and Thales, and the rest 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 Pythagoreans, or Platonists, or Stoicks, or Aristotelians; the greatest part of the Nations of the World, never heard so much as of the Names of the most celebrated Philosophers, and know nothing at all of their Doerine.
That Philosophy was defective in its Do&rines is notorious : For, as Lactantius observes, the very Name of Philosophy (invented by Pythagoras, who yet would be thought to have had some supernatural Assistance) implies a Confession of Ignorance, or Imperfection of their Knowledge, and a Profession only to search after Wisdom. And i Pythagoras gave this very reason why he styled himself a Philosopher, Because no Man can be Wise but God only; and yet
this vain Man sometimes pretended himself to be a God. Socrates was the first of all the Philosophers that apply'd himself to the Study of Morality; and khe, who first undertook to render Philosophy useful and beneficial to Mankind, profess’d to know nothing at all certainly, but to disprove the Errors of others, not to establish or discover Truth : In which he was follow'd by Plato ; and before him, 'Democritus, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and almost all the ancient Philosophers, agreed in this, though they agreed in few things elfe, that they could attain to no certain knowtedge of things. So that, as Tully says, Arcesilas was not the Founder of a new Academy, or Seot of Phi
i Diog. Laërt. in Pythag. Jamblich. vit. Pythag.
losophers, who professed to doubt of all things ; for he taught no more than what the ancient Philosophers had generally taught before him, unless it were that Socrates profess'd to know his own ignorance of things, but Arceflas would not own himself certain of so much as that. Indeed, the notions of Philosophy were so little convincing, even in the plainest. matters, that many of the greatest Wits took up in Scepticism, or little better. No Man had studied all the Hypotheses of Philosophy more, or understood them better, or had better explained them than Tully; and yet at last all concluded in uncertainty, as he often profeffes : the like may be faid of Varro, Cotta, and others. It would be endless to infist upon the contrary Notions of their Philosophers; "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 less moment, but in the Doctrines of Religion and Morality: Whereas the Writers of the Old Testament are both of greater Antiquity than the Philosophers, and of so entire agreement 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 buc the Instruments and Ministers in declaring the Divine Truth, God is the Author, who inspired them in allthey wrote; and therefore the Creation of the World, the Formation of Man, the Immortality of the Soul, and a future Judgment, with whatever else is necessary to be known, are deliver'd by them in such a manner, as if all had been uttered by the fame mouth.
The Do&trine, of Philosophy concerning God and Providence, and a Future State, was very imperfect and uncertain, as Socrates himself declared just before his Death: but what could be certain to him, that
Juft. Martyr. Cohort. ad Græc.
profess’d to doubt of every thing? The ^ Errors of the Philosophers concerning Providence, are discovered and confuted by Nemefus, in an admirable Difcourse upon that Subject.. • Varro computed near Three hundred Opinions concerning the Summum Bo« i num; they were so 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 consists, or what the aim and design of our Actions ought to be. Platos 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 to others, as if it had been a very generous and friend-> ly Ad, and the very heighth and perfection of their: Philosophy. It was a practice both among the P 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 Hortensius, without the Solemnity of a new Marriage. Fornication was so far from being disallowed: by the Heathen, that it was rather recommended as a Remedy against Adulteries by Cato himself, " whoses Intemperance in Drinking was likewise. notorious; Pliny represents it as his greatest Praise, that Men res tained their regard and reverence for him, even wheni they found him in Drink. Many of the Philosophers: held Self-murther lawful, and did themselves fet any Example of it to their Followers. The exposing of
1. i. c. 24.
n Nemes. de Nat. Hom. C. 44. • Aug. de Civ. 1. xix. C. "I. p Demosth. pro Phorinione. Strabo, 1. xi. Alex. ab Alex.* 4 Horat. Serm. l: i. Sat. 2. Cic. pro M. Cælio. r Plin. lib. iii. Ep. 12.
Children to be starved, or otherwise destroyed, was practised amongst the most civilized Heathen Nations ; and it being foretold some time before the Birth of Augustus, 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 dishonest in the Laws of Lycurgusy though Theft, community of Wives, and the murthering of such Infants as they saw weak and fickly, and therefore thought they would prove unfit to serve 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 Wise Men of Greece, Be kind to your Friends, and revenge your self upon your Enemies. Revenge was esteemed not only lawful, but honourable ; and a desire of Popular Fame and Vain Glory were reckoned among the Vertues of the Heathen, and were the greatest motive and encitement they had to any other Vertue. * Pluitarch tells us of Aristides, só famed for Justice, that tho' he were strictly just in private Affairs, yet in things of publick concernment he made no scruple to a&t according as the present condition of the Commonwealth seemed to require. For it was his Maxim, that in such cases Justice must give way to Expediency; and he gives an instance, how Aristides advised the Athenians to act contrary to their most solemn 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 strictest Rules of Justice, and proposes so many admirable Examples of it, yet resolves the notion of Justice only into a Principle of Honour; upon which he concludes, that no Man should
Sueton. Auguft. c. 94.
t Plutarch. in Lycurg. 4. Sofiad. apud Stobæum. Serm. 3. * Plut. in Aristide.
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 se adhibere teftem, id eft (ut arbitror) mentem fuam, quâ nihil homini dedit ipfe Deus divinius.
The Indians themselves, whatever may be thought to the contrary, have naturally as good Sense and Parts as other People; which y Acosta sets himself to prove in divers instances: but they had less communication with those who retained revealed Religion; and by their own Vices and the Subtilty of the Devil, the Notions, which they had received from it, were lost or perverted.
The Egyptians, who were so famous for their Learning, are a great instance how poor a thing humane Reason is without the Afliftance of Divine Revelation : For all their profound Learning did but lead them to the grofsest Idolatry, whilst they conceived God to be only an Anima Mundi, and therefore to be worshipped in the several Parts and Species of the Universe. Yet whilst they deified not only the Nile, but the vileft Creatures, and almost every part of the inferior World, they paid no z such Veneration to the Heavens. They * offered humane Sacrifices, and observed obscene Rites: But Amosis, if we may credit Manetho, cited by Porphyry, abolished humane Sa-. crifice at Heliopolis : For what could be more unnatural, and against all common Reafon, than to worship Beasts, and at the same time to sacrifice Men? They had more forts of Religion among them than any other People, and a accused each other of Impie
y Jos. Acost. Hist. lib. iv. C. 1.