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ground, rightly inferred that my business was with the whole tribe of Ancient Philosophers: and that to stop at the Greeks was mistaking the extent of my
But a little attention to my general argument would have shewn him, that this inquiry into the real sentiments of a race of Sages, then most eminent in all political and moral Wisdom, concern; ing this point, was made solely to shew the vast importance of the doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment to society, when it was seen that these men, who publicly and sedulously taught it, did not indeed believe it. For this end, the Greek Philosophers served my purpose to the full. Had my end been not the importance, but the discredit of the Doctrine (as this learned man unluckily conceived it) I had then, indeed, occasion for much more than their suffrage to carry my point.
In what follows of this learned Criticism, I am much further to seek for that candour which so eminently adorns the writings of this worthy person. He pretends I have not proved my charge against the Greek Philospohers. Be it so. But when he says, I have not ATTEMPTED it by any clear and evident testimonies; but only by conjectures; by instances in some Particulars; by consequences deduced from the Doctrines and Institutes of certain of the Philosophers; This, I cannot reconcile to his ingenuous spirit of criticism. For what are all those passages given above, from Timæus the Lọcrian, from Diogenes Laertius, from Plutarch, Sextus
Empiricus, Empiricus, Plato, Chrysippus, Strabo, Aristotle, Epictetus, M. Antoninus, Seneca, and others, but testimonies, clear and evident, either of the parties concerned, or of some of their school, or of those who give us historical accounts of the Doctrines of those Schools, that none of the Theistical Sects of Greek Philosophy did believe any thing of a future state of rewards and punishments.
So much for that kind of evidence which the learned person says I have not given.
Let us consider the nature of that kind, which he owns I have given, but owns it in terms of discredit.
In tanti momenti accusatione-conjecturis tantum, exemplis nonnullis denique consectariis ex institutis, &c.
1. As to the CONJECTURES he speaks of-Were these offered for the purpose he represents them ; that is to say, directly to inforce the main question, I should readily agree with him, that in an accusation of such moment they were very impertinently urged. But they are employed only occasionally to give credit to some of those particular testimonies, which I esteem clear and evident, but which he denies to exist at all, in my inquiry.
2. By what he says of the instances or ExAMPLES in some particulars, he would insinuate that what a single Philosopher says, holds only against himself, not against the Sect to which he belongs : though he insinuates it in defiance of the very genius of the Greek Philosophy, and of the extent of that temper (by none better understood than by this learned man himself) which disposed the Members of a School
- jurare in verba Magistri. 3. With regard to the INFERENCES deduced from the Doctrines and Institutes of certain of the Philosophers; by which he principally means those deduced from their ideas of God and the Soul; We must distinguish.
If the inference, which is charged on an opinion be disavowed by the Opinionist, the charge is unjust.
If it be neither avowed nor disavowed, the charge is inconclusive.
But if the Consequence be acknowledged, and even contended for, the charge is just : and the evidence resulting from it has all the force of the most direct proof.
Now the Consequence I draw from the Doctrines of the Philosophers concerning God and the Soul, in support of my charge against them, is fully and largely acknowledged by them. The learned person proceeds, and assures his reader that, by the same way of reasoning, he would undertake to prove that none of the Christian Divines believed
any thing of that future state which they preached up to the people. “Ego quidem mediocris ingenii homo et tanto viro quantus est IVarburtonus longe
inferior, Omnes Christianorum Theologos nihil
eorum, quæ publice tradunt, credere, et callide “ hominum mentibus impietatis venenum afilare
velle, convincam, si mihi eadem eos via invadendi
potestas concedatur, qua Philosophos Vir doc- tissimus aggressus est.”
This is civil. But what he gives me on the side of ingenuity, he repays himself on the side of judgment. For if it be, as he says, that by the same kind of reasoning which I employ to convict the Philosophers of impiety, the Fathers themselves might be found guilty of it, the small talent of ingenuity, which nature gave me, was very ill bestowed.
Now if the Learned Person can shew that Christian Divines, like the Greek Philosophers, made use of a double doctrine-that they held it lazeful to deceive, and say one thing when they thought another ---that they sometimes owned and sometimes denied a future state of reward and punishment--that they held God could not be angry, nor hurt any one-that the soul was part of the substunce of God --and acowed that the consequence of these ideas of God and the Soul was, no future state of rewards and punishments-When, I say, lie has shen all this, I shall be ready to give up the Dirines, as I have given up the Philosophers.
But if, instead of this, he will first of all misrepresent the force of my reasoning against the Phi
losophers, and then apply it, thus misrepresented, against the Divines; bringing vague conjectures in support of the main question; making the case of particulars (Synesius for instance) to include the whole body; or urging consequences not seen or abhorred when seen (such as Polytheism from the Trinity): If, I say, with such kind of proof (which his ingenuity and erudition may find in abundance) he will maintain that he has proved the charge in question as strongly against Christian Divines as I have done against the Greek Philosophers: why then I will agree with the first Sceptic I meet, that all enquiries concerning the Opinions either of the one set of men or of the other, is an idler employment than picking straws: For when Logic and Criticism will serve no longer to discover Truth, but may be made to serve the wild vagaries, the blind prejudices and the oblique interests of the Disputers of this IVorld, it is time to throw aside these old Instruments of Vanity and Mischief.
BUT it may now perhaps be said, “Though I have designed well, and have obviated an objection arising from the present question; yet—Was it not imprudent to employ a circumstance for this purpose, which seems to turn to the discredit of the Christian doctrine of a future state ? For what can bear harder on the REASONABLENESS of this