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into a poetical history of nature or of society; while others, like Plutarch, saw in it the corruption of a purer faith, though without the power of realizing fully their own grand and beautiful idea. Many sought refuge in foreign opinions and usages, though not with much satisfaction ; and a few insisted, that, while superstitions ought · to be abandoned, religion, of whose divine beauty they had some conception, was good and true. Seneca recommended his disciples to worship the gods, as a thing due to good manners, but to rely upon something else as a ground of conviction and hope in reference to duty and destiny.

It thus came to pass that ingenuous inquirers after truth hardly knew what to believe, or what to disbelieve, in perusing the writings or attending the teachings of the so called philosophers. Some plunged irremediably into the prevalent Epicureanism, and so lived for the hour. Others committed suicide, or willingly lost their lives in battle; while others, like Clemens Romanus and Justin Martyr, alternated constantly between belief and unbelief, hope and despair. They went from the Peripatetics to the Stoics, and from the Stoics to the Platonics, but all seemed to them confusion, contradiction, and doubt.*

*

* Is this wonderful when even Xenophanes, whose sublimė acknowledgment of the one God we have already quoted, found in the little he knew only doubt and difficulty? His state of mind is strik

This, in fact, was the period of transition, when paganism, incapable of emancipating itself, proclaimed its vanity and weakness, and yet gave incontestable token of " man's old eternal want."

For in all ages, amid error and superstition, certain elder truths, certain instinctive convictions, maintained their place with more or less persistence. The idea of worship, of dependence upon spiritual powers, of obligation to the divine, the hope or dread of a future state, figured under the dream of Tartarus and the Elysian Fields, the necessity of mediation and atonement, of reunion and eternal life in the bosom of God, were never altogether lost. Often the night was dark and portentous; but anon the everlasting stars were visible in the heavens. Nay, the hope of some spiritual deliverer, especially among the more thoughtful nations, the longing for a divine Teacher, to which reference may be found in

ingly described by Timon, the Sillograph, who puts into the mouth of Xenophanes these words :

“O that mine were the deep mind, prudent, and looking to both

sides! Long, alas ! have I strayed on the road of error, beguiled, And am now hoary of years, yet exposed to doubt and destruction Of all kinds ; for, wherever I turn to consider, I am lost in the One and All.”

The difficulty with Xenophanes lay in his pantheism, or rather his inability to distinguish between the one ard the ALL. See Ritter, Hist. of Ph. i. 443.

*

Plato,* soine mighty Redeemer, Son of God, or Savior of man, developed itself, with more or less significance, through the long lapse of ages. The sun had not yet risen, but lights were gleaming at distant intervals, relieving the terrible gloom of the long polar night, or heralding the dawn of the approaching day.t

It might be desirable in this connection to trace the origin and transmission of the great primeval faith, scattered in “ sporadic revelations," as Neander aptly calls them, or in traditional fragments, among all the nations, from the first Eden down through the antediluvian believers, the Seths and Enochs of that early time, and subsequently through the patriarchs and prophets, with other saintly and priestly men of the postdiluvian age; the Noahs, the Abrahams, the Melchisedecs, the Jobs, and the Moseses of ancient inspiration; but this we defer for the present, which we do the more readily from the fact that the subject is somewhat familiar to all. Our knowledge of the Adamic and patriarchal ages is derived exclusively from the Scriptures, whose

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* In the Second Alcibiades and elsewhere. See Dr. Lewis's Platonic Theology, pp. 367, 368.

+ Those who wish to see this idea carried out, and more amply discussed, are referred to Trench's Hulsean Lectures, where the “un. conscious prophecies of heathenism” are cited and discussed with much candor and ability.

simple annals bring down the history of true religion from its first revelation in Paradise to its final establishment in the kingdom of Christ.

In the mean while we will devote a chapter to the consideration of ancient philosophy, as cultivated among the more enlightened heathen nations, as an element of progress, and a preparation for Christ.

CHAPTER IV.*

THE CENTRAL IDEA, OR CHRIST IN ANCIENT

PHILOSOPHY.

The human mind is under the necessity of bringing all things into unity: it is itself a unit, nature therefore must appear to it as a unit, or universe. Again, each man, as well as each society, and of course the entire race, stands, so to speak, between two infinites, or two eternities; though these are only one, in which we are embosomed, like islands in a boundless sea. And as nothing can happen without the supposition of an adequate cause, mankind must ascribe their origin to the One Supreme Power, whether named Mind, Reason, Spirit, Creator, or God.

Thus man, the inoment he begins to reflect profoundly, finds himself pressed on all sides by the idea of the Infinite and Eternal. Thought presupposes and necessitates this idea. It begins with this, ends with this; for it ever starts from a limit, as it comes to a limit, beyond which it must acknowledge the presence of

* This chapter, with some modifications, was published as an arti. cle in the January number of the Christian Review for 1853.

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