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indeed his intention to make all his fellow-citizens MEN OF TASTE? He might as well have thought of making them all LORDS *.
So. absurd and pernicious is the conduct of the Free-thinkers, even admitting them to be in the right. But if, instead of removing the rubbish of superstition, they be indeed subverting the grounds of true religion, what name must be given to this degree of madness and impiety?
On the whole, I fear we are in no right way. Whether in the Public too we resemble the picture this sage historian hath drawn of degenerated Greece, I leave to such as are better skilled in those matters to determine.
The great Geographer, whose knowledge of men and manners was as extensive as the habitable globe, speaks to the same purpose:
“ The multitude in “ society are allured to virtue by those enticing
fables, which the poets tell of the illustrious “ atchievements of ancient heroes, such as the “ labours of Hercules and Theseus; and the rewards “ conferred by the Gods, for well-doing.
they are restrained from vice by the punishments, " the Gods are said to inflict upon offenders, and
by those † terrors and threatnings which certain * dreadful words and monstrous forms imprint upon " their minds; or by believing that divine judge
* See note [A] at the end of this Book. * See note [B] at the end of this Book.
4: ments have overtaken evil men.
. For it is im" possible to govern women and the gross body of "" the people, and to keep them pious, holy, and
virtuous, by the precepts of philosophy: this can “ be only done by the FEAR OF THE Gods; which s is raised and supported by ancient fictions and 4 modern prodigies. .
The thunder therefore of « Jupiter, the Agis of Minerva, the Trident of " Neptune, the Thyrsus of Bacchus, and the Snakes " and Torches of the Furies, with all the other
apparatus of ancient theology, were the engines “ which the Legislator employed, as bugbears, to " strike a terror into the childish imaginations of « the Multitude *.'
Lastly, Pliny the elder "owns it to be expedient “ for society, that men should believe, that the « Gods concerned themselves in human affairs; " and that the punishments they inflict on offen
* Οι τε πολλοί των τας πόλεις oικάνων είς μεν προτροπήν άγονlαι τοϊς ηδέσι των μύθων, όταν ακέωσι των ποιητών ανδραγαθήμαία μυθώδη διηγεμένων· οίον Ηρακλέας άβλες, ή Θησέως, και τιμάς παρά των θεών νεμομένας,-είς απόθροπήν δε, όταν κολάσεις σταρά θεών, και φόβος, και απειλές, ή δια λόγων, ή δια τύπων αώρων τινών προσδέχωνίαι, ή και, πιστεύωσι περιπεσείν τινας. Ου γαρ όχλον τε γυναικών, και σπανιός χυδαία πλήθος επαγαγείν λόγω δυνατόν φιλοσόφω, και προσκαλέσασθαι προς ευσέβειαν, και οσιότηλα, και είσιν, αλλά δει και, διά δεισιδαιμονίας: τετο δ' εκ άνευ μυθοποιίας, και τεραλείας. Κεραυνός γαρ, αιγίς, και τρίαινα, και λαμπάδες, και δράκονίες, και θυρσόλούχα των θεών όπλα, μύθοι και πάσα θεολογία αρχαική: ταύτα δ' απεδέξανθο οι τάς σολίlείας καιασησάμενοι μορμολύκας τινας προς τες νηπιόφρονας. Strabo, Geogr. 1. 1.
" ders, though sometimes late indeed, as from « Governors busied in the administration of so vast
an Universe, yet are never to be evaded *: Thus He, though an Epicurean; but an Epicurean in his senses : from whom we hear nothing of the mad strains of Lucretius,“ That all religion should to be abolished, as inconsistent with the peace of * mankind.”
BUT to give this matter its full evidence, it will be proper to set together the PUBLIC PROFESSIONS, and the PRIVATE SENTIMENTS of the ancient THEISTICAL PHILOSOPHERS: who, notwithstanding they were for ever discoursing on the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, to the People, yet were all the while speculating in private 'on other and different principles. A conduct which could proceed from nothing, but a full persuasion that this doctrine was the
vital part of Religion; and the only support of that influence, which divine worship hath on the ininds of the Multitude.
Now, though after reading their history, reflecting on their characters, and examining their writings with all the care I was able, it appeared to me, that these men believed nothing of that future state which they so industriously propagated in the world; and therefore on this, as well as other accounts, deserved all that asperity of language with which they are treated by the Sacred writers; yet the contrary having been long and generally taken for granted, and their real opinions often urged by our ablest divines, as conformable and favourable to the Christian doctrine of a future state; I suspect that what I have here said, will be exclaimed against as an unreasonable and licentious paradox.
* Verum in his Deos agere curam rerum humanarum credi, ex usu vitæ est; pænasque maleficiis aliquando seras, occupato Deo in tanta mole, nunquam autem irritas esse. Hist. Nat. l. ii. c. 7.
But, for all this, I do not despair of proving it a certain, though an unheeded, truth: and then I shall hope my reader's pardon for the length of this enquiry, as it is of no small moment to shew the sense Antiquity had of the use of a future state to Society: and as, in shewing that use, I shall be able to clear up a very important point of antiquity, doubly obscured, by length of time and perversity of contradiction.
But, before I enter on the matter, I shall, in order to abate the general prejudice, explain what is meant by that FUTURE STATE, which, I suppose, the THEISTICAL PHILOSOPHERS did not believe. And this the rather, because the contrary opinion has continued the longer unquestioned, through the lax and ambiguous use of the term. Thus, because it was evident, that all, or most of the theistical philosophers believed, as well as taught, the immortality, or rather the eternity of the soul, men, tied
down to the associations of modern ideas, concluded that they believed, as well as taught, the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments.
To make the reader, therefore, master of the question, it will not be unfit, just to distinguish the several senses, in which the Ancients conceived the PERMANENCY of the human soul; and to reserve the explanation of them, and assignment of them to their proper authors, for another place.
This permanency was either, I. A SIMPLE EXISTENCB after this life : Or, II. EXISTENCE IN A STATE OF REWARD AND PUNISHMENT, according to men's behaviour here.
Each of these was two-fold.
Simple existence was either,
I. AN IMMEDIATE REFUSION OF THE SOUL, ON DEATH, INTO THE UNIVERSAL NATURE or TO "EN, FROM WHENCE IT PROCEEDED : Or,
II. A CONTINUANCE OF ITS SEPARATE AND DISTINCT EXISTENCE, ON DEATH, FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD, BEFORE ITS REFUSION INTO THE TO *EN, IN A SUCCESSIVE TRANSITION THROUGH VARIOUS ANIMALS, BY A NATURAL AND FATAL, NOT MORAL DESIGNATION.
Existence in a state of rewards and punishments was either,
I. A STATE OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS, IMPROPERLY SO CALLED; WHERE HAPPI