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ty, becaufe in different places they worshipped different Animals, which was the occafion of frequent Wars. b Plutarch fays, that the People of Thebais only, of all the Egyptians, worthipped but one God, whom they called Kneph. This is contrary to what the more ancient Authors fay of them, and might therefore probably be the effect of the propagation of Christianity, which foon made a great progrefs in Egypt; and many, who were not fully converted, were reduced from the grofs Idolatries, which they before had practifed. Whoever killed any of the Beafts which by the Egyptians were esteemed facred, was punished with Death; and in a Famine they ab ftained from thefe, tho' they made no fcruple to eat Humane Flesh. In general, the Ægyptian Rites were fo fcandalous, that they were forbidden at Rome. f Theft was allowed by them, under certain restraints; and by a strange and unnatural diftinction, they taught s that Sons were not bound to provide for their Parents, unless they pleased; but Daughters were necef farily obliged to it.
But when the excellency of the Christian Morals began to be fo generally obferved and taken notice of, the laft Refuge of Philofophy was in the Moral Doctrines of the Stoicks. For almost all the latter Philofophers were of this Sect, which they refined and improved as well as they were able, that they might have fomething to oppofe to the Morality taught (and practifed too) by the Chriftians. But the Ancient Stoicks had been the Patrons and Advocates of the worst Vices, and had filled the Libraries with their obfcene Books.
b De lid. & Ofir.
c Strab. 1. xvii.
e Dion. Caff. 1. 54. f Diod. Sic. ib. c. 3. h Theophil. ad Autolych. lib. iii.
d Diod. Sic. ib. Herod. l. ii. c. 35.
The Stoicks firft fprang from the Cynicks, that impudent and beaftly Sect of Philofophers, and they refined themfelves but by degrees. Zeno, who had as great Honour done him by the Athenians, as ever any Philofopher had, under the Notion of his Vertue, taught, that Men ought to have their Wives in common; and would have been put to death by the Laws of moft Nations, for Sins against Nature. i Chryfippus taught the worst of Inceft, as that of Fathers with their Daughters, and of Sons with their Mothers; and befides his opinion for eating human Flesh, and the like, both his Books, and thofe of Zeno were filled with fuch obfcene Difcourfes, as no modeft Man could read. Athenodorus a Stoick, being Librarykeeper at Pergamus, cut all fuch ill Paffages out of the Books of the Stoicks; but he was discovered, and thofe Paffages were inferted again.. It is no advantage to Cato's Character, that he fhould appear at the Ludi Florales, which he could not but know to be abominably Lafcivious. But when the People had fuch Reverence for his Perfon, that they were afhamed to require the Mime to be naked, as they were wont; he being acquainted with it, left the Theatre, that he might no longer by his Prefence hinder an old Cuftom: For which he had the Thanks and Applaufe of the Rabble. Such was the Philofophy of Cato himself! He must have had a poor opinion of Vertue, who would not use his great Authority with the People, to reclaim them from Vice, rather than to indulge them in it. But thefe Philofophers might do as they pleafed; for they pretended to be exempted from Sin; and the Stoical Philofophy, in the Original and Fundamental Doctrines of it, is nothing, as Tully obferved, but a vain pomp and boast of Words, which at first
i Diog. Laërt. in Zenon. & Chryfipp. Plut. de Repugnantiis Stoic. Sext. Emperic. Pyr. Hypot. 4. 3. C. 24. 25. adv. Matth. 10. k Diog. Laërt. ib. Valer. Max, lib. ii. c. 5.
raise Admiration, but when throughly confidered are ridiculous; as, that Men muft live without Love, or Hatred, or Anger, or any other Paffion; that all Sins are equal; and that it is the fame Crime whether a Man murther his Father, or kill a Cock, as Tully fays, if there be no occafion for it. And it is no wonder, that Plutarch and others wrote purposely to expofe the Stoical Philofophy, upon its old and genuine Principles. The m Stoicks boafted, that Chryfippus had written with more acutenefs against the Truth of our Senfes, than the Academicks themselves: But Plutarch obferves, that when he would anfwer his own Arguments, he fail'd in the attempt, which was n confefs'd and complained of by the Stoicks themfelves. The truth is, a vain Subtilty feems to have been the Character of Chryfippus, as when he would maintain, that Vertue and Vice, and Arts and Sciences, were corporeal and rational Animals which not only Plutarch cenfures, but P Seneca expofes as ridiculous. The latter Stoicks being very fenfible of the many defective and indefenfible parts of their Philofophy, endeavoured to mollifie what feemed too harsh and abfurd, that they might bring their own as near the Chriftian Doctrine as they could. Quintilian will not allow that Seneca was any great Philofopher, but fays that his main talent lay in declaiming against Vice, 9 in philofophia parum diligens, egregius tamen vitiorum infectator fuit. It was rather the art and defign of Seneca, who knew wherein the ftrength and defects of his Philofophy lay, to endeavour to give it all the advantage he could, and to recommend it to the World, by expofing the Follies and Vices of Men, rather than by inftructing them in the Notions of his
own Se&t. But this, notwithstanding, was one of his Rules, nonnunquam & ufque ad ebrietatem veniendum; and when he had expos'd the Cruelties, the Filthinefs, and the Abfurdities of the Religions in ufe a mongst the Heathen, in a Book written upon that Subject; yet, fays he, quæ omnia fapiens fervabit, tanquam legibus juffa, non tanquam Diis grata. And Tully. likewife in divers places, when he has reafon'd againft the Abfurdities of their Religion, refolves the Obligation to obferve it into the Duty which Men are bound to pay to the Laws of the Government under which they live; their Philosophy, it seems taught them, that we must obey Men rather than God. But they held no more than Socrates had taught and practifed before them. The Stoicks taught, that there is nothing incorporeal, w and that God and Nature are the fame thing. Plutarch fhews, that Chryfippus wrote irreverently of God and Providence, and he y charges both him and Zeno with Obfceneness. But Xylander declares of one of Plutarch's Tracts, that he could fcarce endure to read it; and was fo far from correcting the Faults of the MSS. that out of modefty he purposely made fome Paffages obfcure in his Tranflation; and in this Tra&t Plutarch cites Solon's Verfes, which make one of the worft parts of it: And in a another place would juftifie that, by the Example of Socrates, which he there recommends from the Authority of Solon. Epictetus himself, who has fet off the Heathen Morality to the best advantage, cannot be excufed from great Errors and De
r Sen. de Tranqu. Animi, c. 15.
Xenophon. Memorab. lib. i.
s Aug. Civ. Dei, 1. vi. c. 1o. ▾ Tull. Acad. Qu. 1. 1. wQuid enim aliud eft Natura quàm Deus, & Divina Ratio toti Mundo & partibus ejus inferta? Senec. de Benefic. I. 4. c. 7. Vid. c. 8. De Repugant. Stoic. y Ib. & Sympof. 1. 2. probl. 6. Xyland. Annot. in Amator. Plut.
a De Fortun. Alex. I. r
fects. He teaches alfo, that Men fhould follow the
me with these only, cap. xlviii. This is a fine Saying, a pretty turn of Thought; but what is there in it comparable to that awful and facred Promife, Blef fed are ye, when men fhall revile you, and perfecute you: rejoyce and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, Mat. v. 11, 12. Again, "When a "Man values himself, fays Epictetus, for being able "to understand and explain the Books of Chryfippus;
fay you to your felf, Unlefs Chryfippus had written "obfcurely, this Man would have had nothing to "boaft of. But what do I defign? to ftudy Nature, " and follow it? cap. lxxiii. This is no ill Satyr upon the Vanity of Men: But is there any thing in it like that Piety and Authority with which St. Paul reproves the fame Vice? 1 Cor. viii. 1, 2, 3. So great were the Defects and Errors, not only of the Learned Vulgar, and the Ignorant Vulgar, (as b Pliny diftinguilhes) but of the Philofophers of highest renown for Wifdom. The best thing that can be faid of the Heathen Philofophers, is, that most of them frequently confefs'd the great imperfection of their Philofophy, and placed their greatest Wifdom in this, That they were more fenfible than others of their Ignorance: And Socrates profefs'd that to be the reafon, why the Oracle of Apollo declared him to be the
b Sedere cœpit fententia hac (de Aftrologia paritérque & eruditum vulgus & rude in eam curfu vadit, Hift. lib. ii. c. 7.