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There cannot be a greater proof of the undue influence of the will, and of the weakness of human nature in religious matters, than the tenacity with which most persons retain their opinions; very few indeed being so much masters of themselves as to show any disposition to be unravelled as it were, and become willing to unlearn all they have learned. This indeed would be a sacrifice to self-will and self-love, which would at once prove whether such were disposed to be under any other government than their own natural tempers. It would be a test of their love to him to whom they wish the world to suppose they are willing to sacrifice their all; and might justly be said to

be a stupendous mountain of opposition removed, and the clearing of a way for every good word and work.

Perhaps it may not be unprofitable, having given some proofs from ancient history that reason and philosophy, without superior aid, were insufficient to give strength to resist evil propensities, to show also it was equally wanting respecting the knowledge of the divine Being; and that the most learned and experienced of the heathen philosophers were sensible of a defect in unassisted human nature. Cicero tells us, "that while he was perusing Plato's Discourse on the


Immortality of the Soul, his arguments convinced him but no sooner did he lay aside the book, and carefully revolve those arguments in his mind, but all his former conviction vanished." (Cicer. Tusc. Quæst. lib. i. p. 22. ed. 1723.)

And Socrates was so convinced there was a higher authority than the mere efforts of human reason to seal and sanctify the useful lessons of instruction he delivered to his disciples, that he passionately wishes for a future messenger from Heaven, authorized with proper credentials, to teach men morality with greater efficacy than he had done." (Plat. lib. ii. p. 150, vol. ii.) A declaration similar to this, concerning the reasonableness of believing that the gods should descend from heaven and instruct mankind, Aristotle is reported to have made a little before his death.-Vide Fabr. Bibl. Gr. tom. ii. lib. 3. p. 166. Bayle's Dict. Stanley Vit. Phil.

Socrates, though he excelled the other philosophers in his reasonings on the immortality of the soul and of a divine intelligencer, was far from being clear in his ideas on these points. He was pronounced by the Delphian oracle to be "the wisest and the best of men, because he constantly maintained that he knew nothing."

And it is generally imagined he was sentenced to die for asserting the unity of the Supreme Being. But this opinion does not seem to be well founded; and Xenophon contradicts it when he assures us that Socrates declared (with the Pythian oracle), "The gods are to be worshipped according to the laws of the city where a man resides, and those who did otherwise he counted superstitious and vain." Indeed Plato's account of his Apology before the Senators confirms Xenophon's assertion: "I wonder much, Athenians, how Melitus came to this knowledge, that I do not worship those gods who are worshipped in the city; others have seen. me (and so might Melitus if he had pleased) sacrifice at common festivals on the public altars." Being charged by Melitus with owning no God, he says, "You are a strange man! how can you talk so? do not I believe as other men do, that the sun and moon are gods? And in a conversation with his friends after he was condemned, we find him thus consoling • Those who have suborned false witness against me are doubtless conscious of equal impiety and injustice; but as for me, what should deject me, being nothing the more guilty they could not prove I named any new gods for Jupiter, Juno, or the rest." And to





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prove his indecision, and the uncertainty of his belief; after he had received his sentence, we find his thus addressing his judges: "And now, O judges, ye are going to live and I to die; which of these is best the gods know, but I suppose no man does." It is notwithstanding acknowledged none ever expressed more sublime sentiments on moral philosophy, or on that part in man which is immortal. It is related by Erasmus, that on the day of his execution, a little before the draught of poison was brought to him, entertaining his friends with a discourse on the immortality of the soul, he made use of these remarkable expressions: "Whether God will approve of my actions I know not; but of this I am sure, that I have at all times made it my endeavour to please him, and I have a good hope that this my endeavour' will be accepted by him." (Addison's Evidence.) And yet, to show how incapable the most refined reasoning alone is to strengthen us even to believe justly, after he had drunk the hemlock, and his extremities were grown cold, human nature discovered "itself, and we find him sinking again into his former weakness, by his assenting to the popular idolatry; saying to his friend, "O Crito, I owe to Esculapius a cock; pay it; neglect it not."-See Plato's Apol. for Socrates.

And even Seneca, who lived near 500 years after the death of Socrates, although he had the advantage of all the precepts of the most learned philosophers before his time both at Rome and at Athens, yet how ignorant was he also of the true nature of the Deity! "There is something," says he, "wherein a wise man may have the precedence of God; he is wise by the benefit of nature, not by his own efficiency, as the wise man is. The wise man seeth and contemneth all things which others possess with as equal a mind as Jupiter; and upon this account more admireth himself. Jupiter cannot make use of them; the wise man will not.”

A very important lesson may however be learned from most of the heathen philosophers; they were men of undoubted wisdom and learning; but, as before said, were in degree sensible of the weakness and corruption of human nature; some of them confessing the uncertainty. of human reason in divine things, and panting, as it were, for a more certain evidence of the revealed will of God. It is also to be noticed, that all the reasoning and philosophy of the ancients produced little or no change in the lives or morals of the bulk of mankind; all their endeavours to introduce a new course of life having been in vain. This exalted proof of the di

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