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the eternity of matter; and that the doctrine, that matter was created out of nothing, seems to have been unknown to the philosophers, and is one of which they had no notion." Aristotle asserted the eternity of the world, both in matter and form too, which was but an easy deduction from the former principle, and is sufficiently in proof of its Atheistical tendency.

The same doctrine was extensively spread at a very ancient period throughout the East, and plainly takes away a great part of the foundation of those arguments for the existence of a Supreme Deity, on which the moderns have so confidently rested for the demonstration of the existence of God by reason, whether drawn from the works of nature or from metaphysical principles: so much are those able works which have been written on this subject indebted to that revelation on which their authors too often close their eyes, for the very bases on which their most convincing arguments are built. The same Atheistical results logically followed from the ancient Magian doctrine of two eternal principles, one good, and the other evil; a notion which also infected the Greek Schools, as appears from the example of Plutarch, and the instances adduced by him.

No one enlightened by the scriptures, whether he acknowledge his obligations to them or not, has ever been betrayed into so great an absurdity as to deny the individuality of the human soul, and yet where the light of revelation has not spread, absurd and destructive to morals as this notion is, it very extensively prevails. The opinion that the human soul is a part of God, inclosed for a short time in matter, but still a portion of his essence, runs through much of the Greek Philosophy. It is still more ancient than that, and, at the present day, the same opinion destroys all idea of accountability among those who in India follow the Brahminical system. "The human soul is God, and the acts of the human soul are therefore the acts of God." This is the popular argument by which their crimes are justified.

The doctrine of one Supreme, All-wise, and Uncontrolable Providence, commends itself to our reason as one of the noblest and most supporting of truths; but we are not to overlook the source from whence even those draw it, who think the reason of man equal to its full developement. So far were the Pagans from being able to conceive so lofty a thought, that the wisest of them invented subordinate agents to carry on the affairs of the world, beings often divided among themselves, and subject to human passions, thereby destroying the doctrine of providence, and taking away the very foundation of human trust in a supreme

power. This invention of subordinate deities gave birth to idolatry, which is sufficiently in proof both of its extent and antiquity.

The beautiful and well-sustained series of arguments which have often in modern times been brought to support the presumption "that the human soul is immortal," may be read with profit; but it is not to be accounted for, that those who profess to confine themselves to human reason in the enquiry should argue with so much greater strength than the philosophers of ancient times, except that they have received assistance from a source which they are unfair enough not to acknowledge. Some fine passages on this subject may be collected from Plato, Cicero, Seneca and others, but we must take them with others which express sometimes doubt, and sometimes unbelief. With us this is a matter of general belief; but not so with the generality of either ancient or modern pagans. The same darkness which obscured the glory of God, proportionably diminished the glory of man, -his true and proper immortality. The very ancient notion of an absorption of souls back again into the Divine Essence was, with the ancients, what we know it to be now in the metaphysical system of the Hindoos, a destruction of individual immortality; nor have the demonstrations of reason done any thing to convince the other grand division of metaphysical pagans, into which modern heathenism is divided, the followers of Budhu, who believe in the total annihilation of both men and Gods after a series of ages,a point of faith held probably by the majority of the present race of mankind. (2)

(2) "The religion of Budhu," says Dr. Davy, "is more widely extended than any other religion. It appears to be the religion of the whole of Tartary, of China, of Japan and their dependencies, and of all the countries between China and the Burrampooter.

"The Budhists do not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, self-existent and eternal, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe: indeed, it is doubtful if they believe in the existence and operation of any cause besides fate and necessity, to which they seem to refer all changes in the moral and physical world. They appear to be materialists in the strictest sense of the term, and to have no notion of pure spirit or mind. Prane and Hitta, life and intelligence, the most learned of them appear to consider identical :-seated in the heart, radiating from thence to different parts of the body, like heat from a fire ;-uncreated, without beginning, at least that they know of;-capable of being modified by a variety of circumstances, like the breath in different musical instruments ;-and like a vapour, capable of passing from one body to another :—and like a flame, liable to be extinguished and totally annihilated. Gods, demons, men, reptiles, even the minutest and most imperfect animalcules, they consider as similar beings, formed of the four elements-heat, air, water, and that which is tangible, and animated by prane and hitta. They believe that a man may become a god or a demon; or that a god may become a man or an animalcule; that ordinary death is merely a change of form: and that this change is almost infinite and bounded only by annihilation, which they esteem the acme of happiness!"-Account of Ceylon.

These instances might be enlarged; but they amply shew that they who speak of the sufficiency of human reason in matters of morals and religion, neglect almost all the facts which the history of human opinions furnishes; and that they owe all their best views to that fountain of inspiration from which they so criminally turn aside. For how otherwise can the instances we have just mentioned, be explained? and how is it that those fundamental principles in morals and religion which modern philosophers have exhibited as demonstrable by the unassisted powers of the human mind, were either held doubtfully, or connected with some manifest absurdity, or utterly denied by the wisest moral teachers among the Gentiles, who lived before the Christian revelation was given? They had the same works of God to behold, and the same course of providence to reason from, to neither of which were they inattentive. They had intellectual endowments, which have been the admiration of all subsequent ages; and their reason was rendered acute and discriminative by the discipline of mathematical and dialectic science. They had every thing which the moderns have except the BIBLE; and yet on points which have been generally settled among the moral philosophers of our own age as fundamental to natural religion, they had no just views and no settled conviction. "The various apprehensions of wise men," says Cicero, "will justify the doubtings and demurs of Sceptics, and it will then be sufficient to blame them, si aut consenserint alii, aut erit inventus aliquis, qui quid verum sit invenerit, when others agree, or any one has found out the truth. We say not that nothing is true; but that some false things are annexed to all that is true, tanta similitudine ut iis nulla sit certa judicandi, et assentiendi nota, and that with so much likeness, that there is no certain note of judging what is true, or assenting to it. We deny not, that something may be true; percipi posse negamus, but we deny that it can be perceived so to be: for quid habemus in rebus bonis et malis explorati, what have we certain concerning good and evil? Nor for this are wE to be blamed, but NATURE, which has hidden the truth in the deep, naturam accusa quæ in profundo veritatem penitus abstruserit.” (3)

On this subject Dr. Samuel Clarke, though so great an advocate of natural religion, concedes, that " of the philosophers, some argued themselves out of the belief of the very being of a God; some by ascribing all things to chance, others to absolute fatality, equally subverted all true notions of religion, and made the docVide De Nat. Deorum, lib. 1, n. 10, 11. Acad. Qu. lib. 2, n. 66, 120.

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trine of the resurrection of the dead, and a future judgment needless and impossible. Some professed open immorality, others by subtle distinctions patronized particular vices. The better sort of them, who were most celebrated, discoursed with the greatest reason, yet with much uncertainty and doubtfulness, concerning things of the highest importance,—the providence of God in governing the world, the immortality of the soul, and a future judgment.”

If such facts prove the weakness and insufficiency of human reason, those just thoughts respecting God, his providence, his will, and a future state which sometimes appear in the writings of the wisest heathen, are not however, on the contrary, to be attributed to its strength. Even if they were, the argument for the sufficiency of reason would not be much advanced thereby ; for the case would then be, that the reason which occasionally reached the truth had not firmness enough to hold it fast, and the pinion which sometimes bore the mind into fields of light, could not maintain it in its elevation. But it cannot even be admitted, that the truth which occasionally breaks forth in their works was the discovery of their own powers. There is much evidence to shew, that they were indebted to a traditional knowledge much earlier than their own day, and that moral and religious knowledge among them received occasional and important accessions from the descendants of Abraham, a people who possessed records which, laying aside the question of their inspiration for the present, all candid Theists themselves will acknowledge, contain noble and just views of God and a correct morality. Whilst it cannot be proved that human reason made a single discovery in either moral or religious truth; it can be proved, that just notions as to both were placed within its reach, which it first obscured, and then corrupted.

CHAPTER V.

The Origin of those Truths which are found in the Writings and Religious Systems of the Heathen.

We have seen that some of the leading truths of religion and morals, which are adverted to by heathen writers or assumed in heathen systems, are spoken of as truths previously known to the world, and with which mankind were familiar. Also that no legislator, poet or philosopher of antiquity ever pretended to the discovery of the doctrines of the existence of a God, of providence, a future state, and of the rules by which actions are to be determined good and evil; whether these opinions were held by them with full conviction of their certainty, or only doubtfully. That they were transmitted by tradition from an earlier age; or were brought from some collateral source of information; or that they flowed from both,-is therefore the only rational conclusion.

To tradition the wisest of the heathen often acknowledge themselves indebted.

A previous age of superior truth, rectitude and happiness, sometimes called the golden age, was a commonly received notion among them. It is at least as high as Hesiod, who rivals Homer in antiquity. It was likewise a common opinion, that sages existed in ages anterior to their own, who received knowledge from the Gods, and communicated it to men. The wisest heathens, notwithstanding the many great things said of nature and reason, derive the origin, obligation and efficacy of law from the Gods alone. "No mortal," says Plato, in his Republic, "can make laws to purpose." Demosthenes calls law supμa nas dapox EH, ευρημα και δωρον Θε8, "the invention and gift of God." They speak of voμos arpatos, "unwritten laws," and ascribe both them, and the laws which were introduced by their various legislators, to the Gods. Xenophon represents it as the opinion of Socrates, that the unwritten laws received over the whole earth, which it was impossible that all mankind, as being of different languages, and not to be assembled in one place, should make, were given by

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