Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

delity or desperate positions of atheism; for I have been these many years of opinion there was never any. Those that held religion was the difference of man from beasts, have spoken probably, and proceed upon a principle as inductive as the other. That doctrine of Epicurus, that denied the providence of God, was no atheism, but a magnificent and high-strained conceit of his majesty, which he deemed too sublime to mind the trivial actions of those inferior creatures.(5) That fatal necessity of the Stoics, is nothing but the immutable law of his will. Those that heretofore denied the divinity of the Holy Ghost, have been condemned, but as heretics: and those that now deny our Saviour (though more than heretics) are not so much as atheists: for though they deny two persons in the Trinity, they hold, as we do, there is but one God.

That villain and secretary of hell, that composed

(52) In this I cannot agree with Sir Thomas Browne. Man, considered in himself, is not a contemptible creature ; he is the work of God, and, within our experience, the chiefest work. To disparage him, therefore, is to disparage his Creator ; so that it was not piety, but the reverse, which laid the basis of Epicureanism. Still, the doctrine of the old Gargettian was not atheism. With respect to man, it is only when he would vainly compare himself with his Maker that he becomes contemptible. Then even the inspired prophets proclaim his nothingness, and humble his pride in the dust. Hear Isaiah : “ It is He that sitteth on the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” (xl. 22.) What more need we to humble our pride ? In a similar strain Homer :

“ Like leaves on trees the race of men is found,

Now in life, now withering on the ground !"-ED.

that miscreant piece of the Three Impostors, (*) though divided from all religions, and was neither Jew, Turk, nor Christian, was not a positive atheist. I confess every country hath its Machiavel, every age its Lucian, (54) whereof common heads must not hear, nor advanced judgments too rashly ven

« Cui sæpe

(53) It was Ochinus that composed this piece ; but there was no less a man than the Emperor Frederic the Second, that was as lavish of his tongue, as the other of his pen;

in

ore, tres fuisse insignes impostores, qui genus humanum seduxerunt, Moysem, Christum, Mahumitem.” Lips. Monit. et. Exempl. Polit. c. 4. And a greater than he, Pope Leo the Tenth, was as little favourable to our Saviour, when he used that speech which is reported of him : “Quantas nobis divitias comparavit ista de Christo fabula !” ANON. Annot. In addition to the information furnished by the Annotator, I may observe, that the passage of Lipsius, which refers to the emperor solely, is found in Vol. IV. of his collected works, p. 347, (by mistake, 147,) where he relates it without citing any authority. He owed, however, the knowledge of the fact to Matthew Paris, who relates it in somewhat different language ; and I owe the same to Burton, (Anatomy of Melancholy, Part. III. $.4. Vol. II, p.558,) who says, “Frederic the emperor, as Matthew Paris records, licet non sit recitabile,” (I use his own words,)“ is reported to have said, “ Tres præstigiatoes, Moses, Christus, et Mahomet, uti mundo dominarentur totum populum sibi contemporaneum seduxisse.' (Henry the La ve of Hesse heard him speak it.) Si principes imperii institutioni meæ adhærerent, ego multo meliorem modum credendi et vivendi ordinarem.'” Muth. Par. p. 645. With the work “De Tribus Impostoribus,” Marcennus (ap. Burton. ubi sup.) classes the “ Mundi Cymbalum Dialogis Quattuor Contentum, an. 1538, auctore Peresio, Parisi :s excusum.” Giordano Bruno's wild production, exposed in the Spectator by Addison, Vanini's extravagancies, and Spinoza's “Tractatus Theologico-Politicus,” once famous, have now sunk irrecoverably into obscurity.--Ed.

(54) That Lucian was an infidel and a scoffer there can be no doubt on any one's mind who reads the “ Jupiter Traægdus," and many other of his pieces ; but it is not quite certain that Macchiture on: it is the rhetoric of Satan, and may pervert a loose or prejudicate belief.

I confess I have perused them all, and can discover nothing that may startle a discreet belief; yet are their heads carried off with the wind and breath of such motives. I remember a doctor in physic of Italy, who could not perfectly believe the immortality of the soul, because Galen seemed to make a doubt thereof. With another I was familiarly acquainted in France, a divine, and a man of singular parts, that on the same point was so plunged and gravelled with three lines of Seneca, (55) that all our antidotes, drawn from both Scripture and philosophy, could not expel the poison of his error. There are a set of heads that can credit the rela.. tions of mariners, yet question the testimonies of St. Paul; and peremptorily maintain the traditions of Ælian or Pliny, yet in histories of Scripture raise queries and objections, believing no more than they can parallel in human authors. I confess there are in Scripture stories that do exceed the fables of poets, and to a captious reader sound like Gargantua or Bevis. Search all the legends of times past, and the fabulous conceits of these present, and it will be hard to find one that deserves to carry the buckler unto Sampson; yet is all this of an easy possibility, if we conceive a divine con

avelli deserves to be found in company so disreputable.--
Ed.
(55) Post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mors nihil.

Mors individua est, noxia corpori, nec patiens animæ
Toti morimur, nullaque pars manet nostri.

course, or an influence from the little finger of the Almighty. It is impossible that either in the discourse of man, or in the infallible voice of God, to the weakness of our apprehensions there should not appear irregularities, contradictions, and antinomies : myself could show a catalogue of doubts, never yet imagined or questioned, as I know, which are not resolved at the first hearing ; not fantastic queries or objections of air; for I cannot hear of atoms in divinity. I can read the history of the pigeon that was sent out of the ark, and returned no more, yet not question how she found out her mate that was left behind : that Lazarus was raised from the dead, yet not demand where in the interim his soul awaited; or raise a law-case, whether his heir might lawfully detain his inheritance bequeathed unto him by his death, and he, though restored to life, have no plea or title unto his former possessions. Whether Eve was framed out of the left side of Adam,(5") I dispute not; because I stand not yet assured which is the right side of a man ;(57) or whether there be any such

(56) A specimen of the literary trifling which amused our an. cestors. To this Butler alludes, where, among the other profound acquisitions of the republican knight, (Butler was a royalist, and died neglected,) he enumerates his great proficiency in this department of science. He could, he says, tell

“ What Adam dreamt of, when his bride
Came from her closet in his side.
If either of them had a navel;

Who first made music malleable."
The bad rhyme stops me—I can quote no more.—ED.

(57) Perhaps not, though probably he would never have endistinction in nature. That she was edified out of the rib of Adam, I believe, yet raise no question who shall arise with that rib at the resurrection. Whether Adam was an hermaphrodite, (**) as the rabbins contend upon the letter of the text, because it is contrary to reason there should be an hermaphrodite before there was a woman; or a composition of two natures, before there was a second composed. Likewise, whether the world was created in autumn, summer, or the spring, because it was created in them all; for whatsoever sign the sun possesseth, those four seasons are actually existent: it is the nature of this luminary to distinguish the several seasons of the year, all which it makes at one time in the whole earth, and successively in any part thereof. There are a bundle of curiosities, not only in philosophy, but in divinity, proposed and discussed by men of most supposed abilities, which indeed are not worthy our vacant hours, much less our serious studies. Pieces only fit to be placed in Pantagruel's library, or bound up with Tartaretus's De Modo Cacandi. (69)

These are niceties that become not those

tertained a doubt, or speculated at all on the subject, had not Plato (De Legg. VIII. 14. f. Bekk.) thought proper to make his airy citizens ambidextrous, and to ridicule the old-fashioned practice, which, however, has long outlived him.-ED.

(58) Another bolt from the same quiver. The rabbins bad been filching extravagances from the speech of Aristophanes in Plato's Symposion, where the original inhabitants of the world are described as having been all hermaphrodites, with four legs and arms, &c.-ED.

(59) In Rabelais.

« PredošláPokračovať »