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net's Roman Antiquities many pages filled with them; and he will observe, that men of . the most improved minds, such as Augustus Caisar, were as subject to them as the lowest classes of the people. There is exactly the same spirit of superstition in modern nations, where the blessing of revealed religion does not prevail; as the reader will find instanced in Major Symes's Embassy to Ava, Maurice's Indian Antiquities, Harris's Voyages, &c. Another similar tyranny was exerted over the heathen mind by oracles, divinations, and augury; to which our Saviour's doctrines put a final stop, as the apostate Emperor Julian expressly admits; and they were likewise the cause of abolishing childmurder, (which the Emperor Trajan tried in vain to do,) human sacrifices, and those barbarous instances of cruelty, which were exhibited on the public theatre for Roman amusement. Again, the ancient philosophers were far from having had any just ideas of that humility of mind, without which there can exist no beauty or excellence, no real virtue or piety in the character of man. Whenever we read the writings of either the philosophers, poets, or historians of antiquity, we are sometimes shocked at the
blasphemy, but continually disgusted with those sentiments of pride, arrogance, and self-sufficiency, which so perpetually degrade their compositions. Seneca, for example, is so extravagant, as to set his sage even above God himself. " Est aliquid, quo sapiens ante"cedat Deum: Ille naturae beneficio non ti** met; suo sapiens*." But the most important point, in which our blessed Saviour's doctrines soared beyond all the systems of the ancient philosophers, was in Ithe establishment of human happiness on its true and proper basis, and which was never done by any heathen. The late Mr. Harris, in his learned and celebrated Treatise on Happiness, has collected the opinions of the best philosophers of antiquity on this subject, and has proved, that the most perfect idea they entertained of the sovereign good of man was this; "That it must be agreeable to our na"ture, conducive to well-being, accommodate "to all places and times, be durable, self"derived, and indeprivableaccordingly these men placed it in virtue, in human virtue, that is, in each man's acting according to his interpretation of virtue. This was
* Epist. liii
doubtless the best theory they could adopt as a rule of conduct; but from their ignorance of the nature, and of a proper standard of true and genuine virtue, they miserably failed in their practice. Brutus, for example, whose mind, Plutarch observes, was highly cultivated by philosophy, thought it a great degree of virtue to assassinate Cajsar, because he affected kingly power. Now had he been educated in the doctrines of revelation, and his mind enlightened by the superior principles of Christianity, (though he might by no means have remained an inactive or tame observer of the conduct of a man, who threatened the subversion of the liberties of his country, and would, perhaps, have readily risked his life in such a defence of those liberties as the laws allowed and justified,) he would never have engaged in the dark conspiracy on which he so readily entered: he would have considered, that a man is not justified in doing evil that good may come of it, and that he is not permitted to take the sword of justice in this foul and underhand manner into his own hands; especially against his friend, patron, and benefactor, and a person who had given him his life and liberty, both which he had
forfeited at the battle of Pharsalia. Indeed, Caesar not only gave him that life which he had forfeited by joining the party of Pompey* (who had murdered his father,) but Caesar's affection and partiality towards him was such, that Plutarch says he gave particular orders to his officers, after the abovementioned battle, that if they met with Brutus, by no means to kill him ; and if he would not surrender himself, to let him escape.■ Though, from the erroneous principles of Pagan philosophy, Brutus thought he acted right, in reality he acted very wrong; and his wrong conduct was the cause of his enduring a great deal of misery whilst he lived, of his suffering a violent death, and his making this false exclamation prior to it; "O virtue, virtue, I have worshipped thee "as a sovereign good; but I find thou art "only an empty name." This misery whilst he lived, his violent death, and the bitter exclamation he made at his decease, were all owing to his real ignorance of the nature of true virtue, and would have been avoided, had he been better instructed. Cato's selfmurder is another instance of mistaken virtue.
In the same erroneous manner was virtue
considered by Stilpo, the celebrated Megarean philosopher. When the city in which this man lived was destroyed, with his wife and children, and he alone escaped from the fire, being asked, whether he had lost any thing? he replied, All my treasures are still with me; justice, virtue, prudence, temperance, and this inviolable principle, not to esteem any thing as my proper good which can be ravished from me. Nothing, I think, can better evince the superiority of the doctrines of Jesus Christ over those of philosophy, than the different conduct prescribed by each under such a heavy calamity as the one above mentioned. This philosopher, whom Diogenes Laertius places at the head of the Stoics, considered the stifling and Overcoming the natural feelings of tenderness, love, and affection, as the height of virtue; and the indulgence of those amiable feelings which imply goodness of heart, and whose existence in the human mind makes it, in some degree, resemble the divine, he considered beneath the dignity of philosophy. Now the Christian religion does not require the extinction of the affections, it only enjoins their due and reasonable regulation; it requires us to rejoice with those that rejoice,