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on this point. The original of the ancient fables, and of
the doctrines of the Metempsychosis and Metamorphosis,

occasionally enquired into and explained - Pp. 45-125
SECT. IV. Shews, in order to a fuller conviction, that the

ancient philosophers not only did not, but that they
could not possibly believe a future state of rewards and
punishments, because two metaphysical principles, con-
cerning the nature of God, and of the human soul, which
entirely overturn the doctrine of a future state of re-
wards and punishments, were universally held and be-
lieved by all the Greek philosophers. These doctrines
examined and explained. In the course of this enquiry,
the true genius of the ancient Egyptian wisdom ex-
plained; and their pretended philosophy, as delivered by
the later Greek writers, shewn to be spurious. The Sec-
tion concludes with the use to be made of this remarkable

fact (of the ancient philosophers not believing, and yet

1. sedulously teaching, a future state of rewards and punish-

ments) for the support of our main question, pp.125-208

SECT. V. This account of the ancient philosophy, so far

from being prejudicial to Christianity, that it greatly

credits and recommends it. Proved froin the mischiefs

that attend those different representations of paganism,

in the two extremes, which the defenders of religion are

accustomed to make: where it is shewn that the diffe-

rence in point of perfection, between the ancient and

modern systems of morality, is entirely owing to Christi-


pp. 208–215

SECT. VI. The atheistical pretence of religion's being an

invention of statesmen, and therefore false, clearly con-

futed, and shewn to be both impertinent and false. For

that, was the Atheists account of religion right, it would

not follow that religion was false, but the contrary. But

the pretence false and groundless, religion having existed

before the civil magistrate was in being - PP. 215--314


pp. 315-.354


pp. 355-399

p. 60. (note ) for [M] read [N].
p. 65. (note *) for [P] read [o].
p. 146. 1.5. for below, read above.






upon the proof of my second proposition ; namely, THAT ALL ANTIQUITY WAS UNANIMOUS' IN THINKING THAT THE DOCTRINE OF A FUTURE


NECESSARY TO THE WELL-BEING OF SOCIETY : And the method I laid down for it, was, 1. To shew the conduct of Legislators, and the founders of civil policy. 2. The opinions of the wisest and most learned of the ancient Sages.

The CONDUCT OF THE LEGISLATORS hath been fully examined in the last book.

II. THE OPINION OF THE ANCIENT SAGES, is the subject of the present. VOL. III.



They too, as well as the Lawgivers, were unanimous in this point, how discordant soever and at variance amongst themselves, in other matters. Whatever System of Policy the Historian favoured; whatever Theory of Nature the Philosopher espoused; this always remained an unquestionable principle. The favourer of arbitrary power deemed it the strongest bond of blind obedience; and the friend of civil liberty, the largest source of virtue and a public spirit. The Atheist, from the vastness of its social use, concluded Religion to be but an invention of State ; and the Theist, from that confessed utility, laboured to prove it of divine original.

To give the reader a detail of the discourses, where this truth is owned and supported, would be to transcribe Antiquity : for, with this begins and ends every thing they teach and explain of Morals, Government, human Nature, and civil Policy. I shall therefore content myself with two or three passages, as a specimen only, of the general voice of ancient Wisdom.

Timæus the Locrian, a very early Pythagorean, well practised in affairs, and, in Plato's opinion, of consummate knowledge in philosophy, discoursing on the remedies to moral evil, after having spoken of the use of philosophy to lead well-tempered minds to happiness, by teaching the measures of just and unjust; adds, that, for intractable spirits civil Society was invented; which keeps men in fear by the coercions of Law and Religion: “ But if we «come (says he) to a perverse ungovernable dispo“ sition, there, punishments should be applied ;

both those which civil laws inflict, and those “ which the terrors of religion denounce against the « wicked from above and from below: as, that

ENDLESS PUNISHMENTS attend the remains of unhappy men; and all those torments, which I

highly applaud the Ionic poet for recording from " ancient tradition, in order to cleanse and purify " the mind from vice *.»

That sage historian, Polybius (whose knowledge of mankind and civil Government was so celebrated, that Rome preferred him to the august employment of composing laws for Greece, now become a province to the republic) speaking of the excellence of the Roman Constitution, expresseth himself in this manner: “ But the superior excel“ lence of this Policy, above others, manifests itself, " in my opinion, chiefly in the religious notions “ the Romans hold concerning the Gods: that

thing, which in other places is turned to abuse, “ being the very support of the Roman affairs; I

mean THE FEAR OF THE GODS, or what the

* -Ει δε κά τις σκλαρός και απειθής, τέτω δ' επέσθω κόλασις, άτ' εκ των νόμων και α εκ των λόγων σύνθονα επάγεσα δείμαιά τε έπωράνια και τα καθ' άδεω, ότι κολάσιες απαραίτηλοι απόκειναι δυσδαίμοσι νερλέροις" και τάλλα όσα έπαινέω τον Ιωνικόν σοιήίαν, έκ παλαιάς ποιεϋλα τως εναγέας. Περί ψυκάς κόσμω. Τimaeus, p. 23. in Opusculis Myth. Eth. et. Physicis, Cantabr. 1671, 8vo.

“ Greeks

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“ Greeks call superstition; which is come to such a

height, both in its influence on particulars, and

on the public, as cannot be exceeded. This, “ whichmany may think unaccountable, seems

plainly to have been contrived for the sake of the

Community. If, indeed, one were to frame a “ civil Policy only for wise men, it is possible this « kind of Institution might not be necessary. But

since the multitude is ever fickle and capricious, “ full of lawless passions, and irrational and violent

resentments, there is no way left to keep them in order, but by the terrors of FUTURE PUNISH

MENT, and all the pompous circumstance that « attends such kind of fictions. On which account " the Ancients acted, in my opinion, with great

judgement and penetration, when they contrived "to bring in these notions of the Gods,, and of a

FUTURE STATE, into the popular belief; and “ the present age as inconsiderately, and absurdly, “ in removing them, and encouraging the multitude

to despise their terrors. For see now the conse

quence : in Greece, the man who is entrusted " with the public money (to pass by other matters.)

though it be but of a single talent, and though he

give a ten-fold security in the most authentic form, " and before twice the number of witnesses which “ the Law requires, cannot be brought to discharge « his engagements; while, amongst the Romans, " the mere RELIGION OF AN OATH keeps those, " who have vast sums of money passing through



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