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upon which he based all his instructions, and from which he derived that lofty courage, which sustained him, throughout life, in his virtue. Plato, his ingenious disciple, less modest than his master, has carried them out still farther ; but, as we have said before, his speculations are not to be taken as the sentiments of Socrates.
It will doubtless be asked, if the opinions of Socrates, respecting the unity of the Sovereign God, were so pure, how it was that he himself engaged in the worship of the many gods of Athens, composing hymns to some of them, during the interval he spent in prison, and ordering a cock to be sacrificed to Esculapius, the god of health, as Plato says he did, in his last moments ? Several things ought, however, to be considered here. In the first place, it has always appeared to me not an improbable opinion, that his disciples, eager to vindicate his fame with the multitude, for their own sakes, invented of him, in these respects, what was not strictly true. And then again, Socrates, though convinced of the Supreme Divinity, was yet, as we shall show, confessedly ignorant of the manner in which he should be publicly honored, and might have thought it unwise to distrust the existing modes of worship, or to neglect them himself, until some better way was discovered, lest he should be thought to favor an atheism which he detested.* Certainly, if he had not been sincere in his opinions, he need not have died under sentence of the law; as he might have averted his condemnation by timely recanting. Beside, it is not fairly honest to condemn a man for what he did in the last moment of mortal weakness. Socrates wished his last act to be an act of piety; and if that act was ordering a sacrifice to a false god, because he knew no better, it is, I repeat, most uncharitable to condemn so good a man for one such act, at such a time.
It should also be remembered, that Socrates, with his disciples, and Cicero among the Latins, used the word divine to signify intelligent being, because spiritually resembling God. They meant by divine what we mean by moral. It is, however, a doctrine of our own Scriptures, that the God of All employs angelic ministers to execute his will, whom the Jewish doctors call angels of Provi. dence; and the belief in a number of inferior gods, was a corruption of that true opinion. Socrates was wrong, if he really worshipped them, but not wrong in applying to them the epithet divine, in his sense of it.
This also explains somewhat the assertion which Socrates is said frequently and seriously to have made, that he had within him a demon, or divine being, who rebuked him when he had done wrong, and urged him to do what was right.f He is supposed by many to have made these declarations, to gain greater respect for his doctrines, as Numa pretended to hold converse with the nymph Egeria, that the Romans might be better persuaded to receive his laws, and not intrude upon the privacy in which he prepared them. The ancients discussed the question as to the nature of this demon, or
Theodorick de Curatione Græcorum.
Some stories of the interference of this familiar spirit, though gravely told, are too ridiculous for belief.
god, of Socrates, with great interest; and among the rest, Apulicus, a Latin disciple of Plato, (who lived in the second century of the Christian era,) has written a treatise, in which he learnedly treats of all the opinions which had been offered upon the subject. The conclusion to which he seems to come, (for he is not very clear in expressing himself,) is most probably the correct one. The in-dwelling divine spirit of Socrates was his conscience. Indeed, a modern has pronounced conscience to be 'God's vicegerent in the soul of man ;' and the poet Menander has a line to the same effect :
In all mortals, conscience is God.'* The definition of Apulicus is curious, and deserves to be repeated. *He of whom I speak,' says he, 'dwells in the most profound recesses of the mind, a perfect guardian, a singular prefect, a domestic speculator, a proper curator, an intimate inspector, an assiduous observer, an inseparable arbiter, a reprobater of what is evil, an approver of what is good; and if he is legitimately attended to, sedulously known, and religiously reverenced, in the way he was reverenced by Socrates, with justice and innocence, will be a predicter in things uncertain, a premonitor in things dubious, a defender in things dangerous, and an assistant in want.'t
Another question will naturally arise in many minds, whether the fact of such opinions being held by heathen Socrates, does not argue against the necessity of divine revelation ? We answer no; but that, on the contrary, whatever be the arguments of the modern objector to a divine revelation, he has no right to claim Socrates as his associate.
For, in the first place, the moral opinions of Socrates were very defective. This is seen, among other instances, in the manner he treats of women. He never seems to consider their moral influence at all. They are only regarded by him as the mothers of the children of the state, and as little more than necessary evils. The hallowed influence of the marriage contract, and the vital connection of female purity with social happiness, was to him unknown. For in the beginning of the eighth book on the Republic, Plato (and I fear this time with too much truth) puts into his mouth the following startling sentence: “These things are now agreed on, that in this city, which is to be constituted in a perfect manner, the women are to be common, the children common, and the education common. And there are many things of a like character recorded of him elsewhere. Knowing this, we need not wonder that we find him visiting the witty and learned Aspasia, and the less celebrated though clever Throdota, without appearing to think the less of them, that they followed the most infamous profession. Indeed, it is only where christianity has taught men to value the virtues of the heart more than physical strength and voluptuous pleasure, that women are raised to that influence in society, which, among us, they so well deserve, and 80 beautifully adorn. There only have men learned, that female
* Βρoτoις απασιν συνειδησις θεος. .
† Apulicus in Dæm. Soc.
virtue is, under God, the purest fountain of human happiness ; that the holiest temple on earth is the home consecrated by the pious ministry of woman; and that the bosom of a faithful mother is the altar upon which infant man is most securely dedicated to his country, to the world, and to God.
"There woman reigns; the mother, daughter, wife,
And fireside pleasures gambol at her feet.'* Beside, no one can be more fully persuaded of the insufficiency of his reason to discover moral truth, than was Socrates himself. It was a favorite observation of his, that the Divine Original had veiled many things in mystery, to teach us dependence and reverence; nay, that
ese mysteries proved the superior divinity. For this reason, he constantly exhorted his followers to consult the will of Deity, and seek his guidance. He taught, it is true, the noble maxiin, that the 'honorable was no other than the useful,' a principle, which that purest of Roman moralists, Cicero, has so largely and delightfully dwelt upon; but how to discover, always, what was honorable and useful, he confessed his inability; and declared his belief, that men would yet be taught by revelation from heaven that which they could not discover themselves. This he states distinctly, in the treatise on the Republic, when he says that a perfect kingdom would yet be established upon earth, by men inspired by God; and that until such inspiration is given, all attempts to form a perfect state, will be in vain. In the same work he also asserts with confidence, that a perfect example of human excellence would yet appear among men. His description of this perfect or just man is so curious, (I had almost said prophetic,) that I give it here, as it is found in the second book of the Republic. He will be a simple and ingenuous man, desiring, according to Æschylus, not the semblance but the reality of goodness; for if he shall be thought to be just, he will have honor and rewards ; and thus it will be uncertain whether he be just for the pure sake of justice, or the rewards and honors of it. Let him be stripped of every thing but his integrity; while he doth no injustice, let him have the reputation of doing the greatest ; that he may be tortured for justice, not yielding to reproach, or such things as arise from it; but may be immoveable until death, appearing to be unjust through life, yet being really just. The just man being of this disposition, will be scourged, tormented, bound, have his eyes burnt out, and lastly, having suffered all manner of evils, will be CRUCIFIED.'+
He speaks yet more plainly in the second Alcibiades, where this dialogue occurs :
Soc. It is altogether necessary, Alcibiades, that you should wait (to be taught to pray) till some person teach you how you ought to behave both toward God and men.
ALCI. And when will that time come, Socrates? And who is he that will teach me ? With what pleasure ought I w look upon him?
* J. MONTGOMERY.
Soc. He will do it, who watches over you; but methinks, as we read in Homer, that Minerva scattered the mist that veiled Diomede's eyes, and hindered him from distinguishing between God and man, so it is necessary ihat he should, in the first place, scatter the darkness that covers your soul, and afterward give you the remedies that are necessary to put you in a condition to discover between good and evil, for at present you know not how to do so.
Alci. Let him do so; let him scatter this darkness, and do whatever else he pleases. I abandon myself to his conduct, and am very ready to obey all his commands, provided I shall be made the better for it.
Soc. Do not doubt of that. For this governor I tell you of, has a most tender love
Alci. I will defer it, and to express my gratitude to you for this good counsel, let me take this crown from my head, and place it upon yours. We will give other crowns to the gods for the service we owe them, when I see that happy day — which will not be deferred long, if they please.
Eupolis, a pupil of Socrates, 440 a. C., has left us also an admirable Hymn to the Creator, from which Pope has evidently borrowed the opening part of his Universal Prayer. I subjoin an extract from an excellent translation by Samuel Wesley, the father of the founder of Methodism. It may be found in Coke's life of the latter :
Author of being, source of light,
With such almost prescient opinions, who can doubt that Socrates, had he lived in our day, would have been a Christian ? Certainly nothing can be more unfair than for the opponents of revelation to claim him as being with them. And here I cannot avoid adding a testimony, wrung from the soul of the sensual but eloquent Rousseau. It is found in the second volume of . Emilia.'
What prejudices, what blindness, must possess that man who dares to compare the son of Sophroniscus with the son of Mary? What an immense distance between them? Socrates dying without pain, without ignominy, easily supported to the last his character; and if this easy death had not cast a lustre upon his life, it might have been doubted whether Socrates, with all his genius, was any thing but a sophist. (Here the Frenchman is characteristically extravagant.) It may be said he invented morality, but before him others had practised it. He only said what they had done, and made lessons of their examples. Aristides had been just, before Socrates said what justice was. Leonidas
had died for his country, before Socrates had made love of country a duty. Sparta was sober, before Socrates had praised sobriety. Before he had defined virtue, Greece abounded with virtuous men. But where did Jesus, among his countrymen, take the pattern of that elevated and pure morality, of which he alone hath given both the precept and example ? From the bosom of the most furious fanati. cism, the highest Wisdom made herself heard, and the simplicity of the most heroic virtue honored the vilest people upon earth. The death of Jesus, expiring in torments, blasphemed, reviled, execrated by a whole people, is the most fearful death one could dread. Socrates taking the cup of poison, blessed the weeping man who presented it. Jesus, in the midst of a frightful punishment, prayed for his blogd-thirsty executioners. Yes! if the life and death of Socrates be that of a philosopher, the life and death of Jesus is that of a God!
A little examination will also convince us, that the great doctrines of Socrates were by no means original discoveries of his own. It is commonly, but erroneously, supposed, that idolatry is the early commencement of religion among a people, upon which they improve, as they advance in knowledge and civilization, until they attain a better and more rational faith. The fact, however, is, that all false religions are corruptions of a true faith, which was common to mankind, in the first ages. This was the opinion of St. Paul, who was well acquainted with classic history. I'or, speaking of the heathen, he says: . When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.'* In this he is sustained by history, and the opinions of the ancients themselves. So far from purifying their religion, as they increased in knowledge and refinement, the Greeks and Romans added to the number of their gods every year, until they became countless. Their best philosophers, in later ages, had a high reverence for the opinions of antiquity; and the higher up we follow the stream of moral sentiment, the purer does it become, which is a strong indication that it flowed originally from a pure fountain. Their poets sang, too, of a happy period, which the world at first enjoyed, and which they called the golden age, 'before,' as Virgil says, 'impious men learned to feed upon the slaughtered herds,' and when, according to Ovid,
Man, yet new,
Thus we find, before the time of Socrates, records, not faint nor few, of the same doctrines which he systematized. Anaxagoras, his great master, undoubtedly taught that 'pure, intelligent, active MIND
* Romans i. 21, 22, 23.