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ry, because in different places they worshipped different Animals, which was the occasion of frequent Wars. b Plutarch says, that the People of Thebais only, of all the Ægyptians, worshipped but one God, whom they called Kneph. This is contrary to what
the more ancient Authors say of them, and might therefore probably be the effect of the propagation of Christianity, which soon made a great progress in Ægypt; and many, who were not fully converted, were reduced from the gross Idolatries, which they before had practised. Whoever killed any of the Beasts which by the Ægyptians were esteemed sacred, was punished with Death; and in a Famine they abc stained from these, tho' they made no scruple to eat Humane Flesh. In general, the Ægyptian Rites were so scandalous, that they were e forbidden at Rome. f Theft was allowed by them, under certain restraints; and by a strange and unnatural distinction, they taught & that Sons were not bound to provide for their Parents, unless they pleased; but Daughters were neces sarily obliged to it.
But when the excellency of the Christian Morals began to be lo generally observed and taken notice of, the last Refuge of Philosophy was in the Moral Dos
trines of the Stoicks. For almost all the latter Philosophers were of this Sed, which they refined and improved as well as they were able, that they might have something to oppose to the Morality taught (and pra&ised too) by the Christians. But the h Ancient Stoicks had been the Patrons and Advocates of the worst Vices, and had filled the Libraries with their obscene Books.
6 De Ilid. & Ofir. c Strab. 1. xvii. d Diod. Sic. ib.
The Stoicks first sprang from the Cynicks, that impudent and beastly Sect of Philosophers, and they refined themselves but by degrees. Zeno, who had as great Honour done him by the Athenians, as ever any Philosopher 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 most Nations, for Sins against Nature.
i Chryfippus taught the worst of Incest, as that of Fathers with their Daughters, and of Sons with their Mothers; and besides his opinion for eating human Flesh, and the like, both his Books, and those of Zeno were filled with such obscene Discourses, as no modest Man could read. k Athenodorus a Stoick, being Librarykeeper at Pergamus, cut all such ill Passages out of the Books of the Stoicks; but he was discovered, and those Passages were inserted again. It is no advantage to Cato's Character, that he should appear at the Ludi Florales, which he could not but know to be abominably. Lascivious. : * But when the People had fuch Reverence for his Person, that they were ashamed to require the Mimæ to be naked, as they were wont; he being acquainted with it, left the Theatre, that he might 110 longer by his Presence hinder an old Custom : For which he had the Thanks and Applause of the Rabble. Such was the Philosophy 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 these Philosophers might do as they pleased; for they pretended to be exempted from Sin; and the Stoical Philosophy, in the Original and Fundamental Do&rines of it, is nothing, as Tully observed, 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.). 3. C. 2.4. 25. adv. Matth l. 10. k Diog. Laërt. ib. * Valer. Nax, lib.ii. c. 5.
raise Admiration, but when throughly considered are ridiculous; as, that Men must live without Love, or Hatred, or Anger, or any other Passion ; that all Sins are equal; and that it is the same Crime whether a Man murther his Father, or kill a Cock, as · Tully fays, if there be no occasion for it. And it is no wonder, that Plutarch and others wrote purposely to expose the Stoical Philosophy, upon its old and genuine Principles. The m Stoicks boasted, that Chrysippus had written with more acuteness against the Truth of our Senses, than the Academicks themselves : But Plutarch obferves, that when he would answer his own Arguments, he fail'd in the attempt, which was n confess’d and complained of by the Stoicks themselves. 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 censures, but P Seneca exposes as ridiculous. The latter Stoicks being very sensible of the many defective and indefensible parts of their Philosophy, endeavoured to mollifie what seemed too harsh and absurd, that they inight bring their own as near the Christian Doctrine as they could. Quintilian will not allow that Seneca was any great Philosopher, but says that his main talent lay in declaiming against Vice, 9 in philosophia parum diligens, egregius tamen vitiorum infeétator fuit. It was rather the art and design of Seneca, who knew wherein the strength and defects of his Philosophy lay, to endeavour to give it all the advantage he could, and to recommend it to the World, by exposing the Follies and Vices of Men, rather than by instructing them in the Notions of his own Se&. 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 Absurdities of the Religions in use amongst the Heathen, in a Book written upon that Subje&t; yet, says he, s quæ omnia sapiens fervabit, tanquam legibus jusa, non tanquam Diis grata. And Tully likewise in divers places, when he has reason'd against the Absurdities of their Religion, resolves the Obligation to observe 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 pra&tised before them. The v Stoicks
| Tull. pro Muræna.
m Plut. de Repugnantiis Stoic.
, taught, that there is nothing incorporeal, w and that God and Nature are the same thing. Plutarch shews, that Chrysippus wrote irreverently of God and Providence, and he y charges both him and Zeno with Obsceneness. But z Xylander declares of one of Plus tarch's Tra&ts, that he could scarce endure to read it; and was so far from correding the Faults of the MSS. that out of modesty he purposely made fome Passageș obfcure in his Translation, and in this Tract Plutarch cites Solon's Verfes, which make one of the worst parts of it: And in a another place would justifie 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 excused from great Errors and Defe&ts. He teaches also, that Men should follow the Religion of their Country, whatever it be, Enchirid. cap. xxxviii
r Sen. de Tranqu. Animi, c. 15. s Aug. Civ. Dei, I. vi. C. 1O. + Xenophon. Memorab. lib. i. v Tull. Acad. Qu. I. 1.
w Quid enim aliud eft Natura quàm Deus, e Divina Ratio toti Mundo em partibus ejus inseria ? Senec. de Benefic. l. 4. C. 7. Vid. c. 8. x De Repugant. Stoic.
y Ib. & Sympof. 1. 2. probl. 6. ? Xyland. Annot. in Ainator. Plut. à De Fortun. Alex. I. I
. He allows too great indulgence to Luft, cap. xlvii. And when he proposes Rules of
Vertue, and cautions to arm Men against Vice and Temptation, how much short doth he fall of the Christian Doctrine ? “ If any Man, says he, tell you that « such an one hath spoken ill of you; make no Apo
logy for your self, but answer, He did not know “ my other Faults, or else he would not have charged
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 sacred Promise, Blef fed are ye, when men shall 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, says Epictetus, for being able
to understand and explain the Books of Chryfippus; ♡ say you to your self, Unless Chrysippus had written s obfçurely, this Man would have had nothing to “ boast of. But what do I design? to study Nature, s and follow it ? cap. Ixxiii. 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 same Vice? 1 Cor. viii. 1, 2, 3. So great were the Defeats and Errors, not only of the Learned Vulgar, and the Ignorant Vulgar, (as - Pliny diftinguishes) but of the Philosophers of highest renown for Wisdom. The best thing that can be faid of the Heathen Philosophers, 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 fensible than others of their Ignorance : And Socrates profess'd that to be the reafon, why the Oracle of Apollo declared him to be the
b Sedere cæpit fententia hæc (de Astrologia paritérque o eruditum vulgus a rude in eam cursu vadit. Hitt. lib. i. c. 7.