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Stoics contended for a providence, but in their creed it was counteracted by the doctrine of an absolute necessity, or fate, to which God and matter, or the universe, which consists, as they thought, of both, was immutably subject; and where they allow it, they confine the care of the gods to great affairs only.

The Platonists, and the followers of Pythagoras believed that all things. happened κατα θειαν προνοιαν, according to Divine providence; but this they overthrew by joining fortune with God. "God, fortune, and opportunity," says Plato, "govern all the affairs of men." (De Leg. lib. 4.)

To them also there were "Lords many and gods many :" and wherever Polytheism is admitted, it is as destructive of the doctrine of providence as fate, though by a different process. The fatalist makes all things fixed and certain, and thus excludes government; the Polytheist gives up the government of the world to innumerable opposing and contrary wills, and thus makes every thing uncertain. If the favour of one deity be propitiated, the wrath of another, equally or more powerful, may be provoked; or the gods may quarrel among themselves. Such is the only providence which can be discovered in the Iliad of Homer, and the Eneid of Virgil, poems which unquestionably embody the popular belief of the times in which they were written. The same confused and contradictory management of the affairs of men, we see in all modern idolatrous systems, only that with length of duration they appear to have become more oppressive and distracting. Where so many deities are essentially malignant and cruel to men; where demons are supposed to have power to afflict and to destroy at pleasure; and where aspects of the stars, and the screams of birds, and other ominous circumstances, are thought to have an irresistible influence upon the fortunes of life, and the occurrences of every day; and especially where, to crown the whole, there is an utter ignorance of one supreme controlling infinite mind, or his existence is denied; or he who is capable of exercising such a superintendence as might render him the object of hope, is supposed to be totally unconcerned with human affairs; there can be no ground of firm trust, no settled hope, no permanent consolation. Timidity and gloom tenant every bosom, and in many instances render life a burden. (9)

(9) The testimony of missionaries who see the actual effects of paganism in the different countries where they labour, is particularly valuable. On the point mentioned in the text, the Wesleyan missionaries thus speak of the state of the Cingalese :-"We feel ourselves incapable of giving you a full view of the deplorable state of a people, who believe that all things are governed by chance; who find malignant gods, or devils, in every planet, whose influence over mankind they consider to be exceeding great, and the agents who inflict all the evil that men suffer in the world. A people so circumstanced need no addition to their miseries, but are objects toward which Christian pity will extend itself, as far as the voice of their case can reach. They are literally, through fear of death, or malignant demons, all their lifetime subject to bondage."



Another great principle of religion is the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments; and though in some form it is recognized in pagan systems, and the traditions of the primitive ages may be traced in their extravagant perversions and fables; its evidence was either greatly diminished, or it was mixed up with notions entirely subversive of the moral effect which it was originally intended to produce.

Of the ancient Chaldean philosophy, not much is known. In its best state it contained many of the principles of the patriarchal religion; but at length, as we find from Scripture, it degenerated into the doctrine of judicial astrology, which is so nearly allied to fatalism, as to subvert the idea of the present life being a state of probation, and the future a state of just and gracious rewards and punishments.

Ancient writers differ as to the opinions of the learned of Egypt on the human soul. Diodorus Siculus says, they believed its immortality, and the future existence of the just among the gods. Herodotus ascribes to them the doctrine of transmigration. Both may be reconciled. The former doctrine was the most ancient, the latter was induced by that progress of error which we observe among all nations. Another subtle notion grew up with it, which infected the philosophy of Greece, and, spreading throughout Asia, has done more to destroy the moral effect of a belief in the future existence of man, than any other. This was, "that God is the soul of the world," from which all human spirits came, and to which they will return, some immediately, and others through long courses of transmigration. The doctrine of ancient revelation, of which this was a subtle and fatal perversion, is obvious. The Scripture account is, that the human soul was from God by creation; the refinement of pagan philosophy, that it is from him by emanation, or separation of essence, and still remains a separate portion of God, seeking its return to him. With respect to the future, revelation always taught, that the souls of the just return to God at death, not to lose their individuality, but to be united to him in holy and delightful communion: the philosophic perversion was, that the parts so separated from God, and connected for a time with matter, would be reunited to the great source by refusion, as a drop of water to the ocean. (1) Thus philosophy refined upon the doctrine of immortality until it converted it into annihilation itself, for so it is in the most absolute sense as to distinct consciousness and personality. The prevalence of this notion under different modifications is indeed very remarkable.

(1) "Interim tamen vix ulli fuere (quæ humanæ mentis caligo, atque imbecillitas est,) qui non inciderint in errorem illum de refusione in Animam mundi. Nimirum, sicut existimârunt singulorum animas particulas esse animæ mundanæ quarum quælibet suo corpore, ut aqua vase, effluere, ac animæ mundi, e qua deducta fuerit, iterum uniri." (GASSENDI Animadv. in Lib. 10, Diog. Laertii, p. 550.)

Bishop Warburton, proves that this opinion was held not merely by the Atheistical and skeptical sects among the Greeks, but by what he calls the Philosophic Quaternion of dogmatic Theists, the four renowned schools, the PYTHAGORIC, the PLATONIC, the PERIPATETIC, and the Sroic; and on this ground argues, that though they taught the doctrine of future rewards and punishments to the populace, as a means of securing their obedience to the laws, they themselves did not believe what they propagated; and in this he was doubtless correct. With future reward and punishment, in the proper and commonly received sense in all ages, this notion was entirely incompatible. He observes, "And that the reader may not suspect these kind of phrases, that the soul is part of God, discerpted from him, of his nature, which perpetually occur in the writings of the ancients, to be only highly figurate expressions, and not to be measured by the severe standard of metaphy. sical propriety, he is desired to take notice of one consequence drawn from this principle, and universally held by antiquity, which was this, that the soul was eternal à parte ante, as well as à parte post, which the Latins well express by the word sempiternus. But when the ancients are said to hold the pre and post existence of the soul, and therefore to attribute a proper eternity to it, we must not suppose that they understood it to be eternal in its distinct and peculiar existence; but that it was discerpted from the substance of God in time, and would in time be rejoined and resolved into it again; which they explained by a bottle's being filled with sea water, that swimming there awhile, on the bottle's breaking, flowed in again, and mingled with the common mass. They only differed about the time of this reunion and resolution, the greater part holding it to be at death; but the Pythagoreans not till after many transmigrations. The Platonists went between these two opinions, and rejoined pure and unpolluted souls, immediately on death, to the universal Spirit. But those which had contracted much defilement, were sent into a succession of other bodies, to purge and purify them before they returned to their parent substance."

Some learned men have denied the consequence which Warburton wished to establish from these premises, and consider the resorption of these sages as figurative, and consequently compatible with distinct consciousness and individuality. The researches, however, since that time made into the corresponding philosophy of the Hindoos, bear this acute and learned man out to the full length of his conclusion. "God, as separated from matter, the Hindoos contemplate as a being reposing in his own happiness, destitute of ideas; as infinite placidity; as an unruffled sea of bliss; as being perfectly abstracted and void of consciousness. They therefore deem it the height of perfection to be like this being. The person whose very nature, say they, is absorbed in Divine meditation; whose life is like a sweet sleep, unconscious and undisturbed;

who does not even desire God, and who is changed into the image of the ever blessed, obtains absorption into Brumhu." (Ward's View of the Hindoos, 8vo, vol. ii, p. 177–8.) And that this doctrine of absorption is taken literally is proved, not merely by the terms in which it is expressed, though these are sufficiently unequivocal; but by its being opposed by some of the followers of Vishnoo, and by a few also of their philosophers. Mr. Ward quotes Jumudugnee, as an exception to the common opinion: he says, "The idea of losing a distinct existence by absorption, as a drop is lost in the ocean, is abhorrent. It is pleasant to feed on sweetmeats, but no one wishes to be the sweetmeat itself." So satisfactorily is this point made out against the "wisdom of this world;" -by it the world neither knew God nor man.

Another notion equally extensive and equally destructive of the original doctrines of the immortality of the human soul, and a state of future rewards and punishments, which sprung up in the Egyptian schools, and was from thence transmitted into Greece, India, and throughout all Asia, was that of a periodial destruction and renovation of all things. "They conceived," says Diodorus Siculus, "that the universe undergoes a periodical conflagration, after which all things were to be restored to their primitive form, to pass again through a similar succession of changes." The primitive tenet, of which this was a corruption, is also evident; and it affords another singular instance of the subtlety and mischief of that spirit of error which operated with so much activity in early times, that the doctrine of the destruction of the world, and the consequent termination of the probationary state of the human race preparatory to the general judgment, an awful and most salutary revelation, should have been so wrought into philosophic theory, and so surrounded with poetic embellishment, as to engage the intellect, and to attract the imagination, only the more effectually to destroy the great moral of a doctrine which was not denied, and covertly to induce an entire unbelief in the eternal future existence of man.

As the Stoics held that all inferior divinities and human souls were portions separated from the soul of the world, and would return into the first celestial fire, so they supposed, that at the same time the whole visible world would be consumed in one general conflagration. "Then,” says Seneca, "after an interval the world will be entirely renewed, every animal will be reproduced, and a race of men free from guilt will repeople the earth. Degeneracy and corruption are however to creep in again, and the same process is to go on for ever." (Ep. 9.) This too is the Brahminical notion: "The Hindoos are taught to believe that at the end of every Calpa (creation or formation) all things are absorbed in the Deity, and at a stated time the creative power will again be called into action." (Moore's Hindoo Pantheon.) And though the system of the Budhists denies a Creator, it holds the same species of

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revolution. They are of opinion that the universe is eternal, at least they neither know it had a beginning, or will have an end; that it is homogeneous, and composed of an infinite number of similar worlds, each of which is a likeness of the other, and each of which is in a constant state of alteration,-not stationary for a moment,―at the instant of greatest perfection beginning to decline, and at the moment of greatest chaotic ruin beginning to regenerate. They compare such changes to a wheel in motion perpetually going round." (Dr. Davey's Account of Ceylon.)

But other instances of darkness and error among even civilized hea. thens respecting the human soul, and a future state are not wanting; for it is a fact which ought never to be lost sight of in these inquiries, that among pagans, opinions on these subjects have never been either certain or rational; and that error once received has in no instance been exchanged for truth; but has gone on multiplying itself, and assuming an infinite variety of forms.

The doctrine of Aristotle and the Peripatetics gives no countenance to the opinion of the soul's immortality, or even of its existence after death. Democritus and his followers taught, that the soul is material and mortal; Heraclitus, that when the soul is purified from moist vapours, it returns into the soul of the universe; if not, it perishes: Epicurus and his followers, that "when death is, we are not." The leading men among the Romans, when philosophy was introduced among them, followed the various Greek sects. We have seen the uncertainty of Cicero. (2) Pliny declares, that "non magis a morte sensus ullus aut

(2) From the philosophical works of Cicero it may be difficult to collect his own opinions, as he chiefly occupies himself in explaining those of others; but in his epistles to his friends, when, as Warburton observes, we see the man divested of the politician and the sophist, he professes his disbelief of a future state in the frankest manner. Thus in lib. 6, epis. 3, to Torquatus, written in order to console him in the unfortunate state of the affairs of their party, he observes: "Sed hæc consolatio levis est; illa gravior, qua te uti spero; ego certe utor. Nec enim dum ero, angar ulla re, cum omni vacem culpa; et si non ero, sensu omnino carebo. But there is another and a far higher consolation, which I hope is your support, as it certainly is mine. For so long as I shall preserve my innocence, I will never while I exist be anxiously disturbed at any event that may happen; and if I shall cease to exist, all sensibility must cease with me."

Similar expressions are found in his letters to Toranius, to Lucius Mescinius, and others, which those who wish to prove him a believer in the soul's immortality endeavour to account for by supposing that he accommodated his sentiments to the principles of his friends. A singular solution, and one which scarcely can. be seriously adopted, since in the above cited passage he so strongly expresses what is his own opinion, and hopes that his friend takes refuge in the same consolation. It may be allowed that Cicero alternated between unbelief and doubt; but never I think between doubt and certainty. The last was a point to which he never seems to have reached.

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