[Footnote 771: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxix.]
[Footnote 772: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxvii.]
"Every kind of pleasure" is, in the estimation of Epicurus, "alike good," and alike proper. "If those things which make the pleasures of debauched men put an end to the fears of the mind, and to those which arise about the heavenly bodies [supernatural powers], and death and pain,... we should have no pretense for blaming those who wholly devote themselves to pleasure, and who never feel any pain, or grief (which is the chief evil) from any quarter." Whilst, however, all pleasures of the body, as well as the mind, are equal in dignity, and alike good, they differ in intensity, in duration, and, especially, in their consequences. He therefore divides pleasure into two classes; and in this, as Cousin remarks, is found the only element of originality in his philosophy. These two kinds of pleasure are:
1. The pleasure of movement, excitement, energy (edone en kinesei). This is the most lively pleasure; it supposes the greatest development of physical and mental power. "Joy and cheerfulness are beheld in motion and energy." But it is not the most enduring pleasure, and it is not the most perfect. It is accompanied by uneasiness; it "brings with it many perturbations," and it yields some bitter fruits.
[Footnote 773: "Fundamental Maxims," No. 9, in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxxi.]
[Footnote 774: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxviii.]
2. The second kind of pleasure is the pleasure of repose, tranquillity, impassibility (edone katastematike). This is a state, a "condition," rather than a motion. It is "the freedom of the body from pain, and the soul from confusion." This is perfect and unmixed happiness—the happiness of God; and he who attains it "will be like a god among men." "The storm of the soul is at an end, and body and soul are perfected."
Now, whilst "no pleasure is intrinsically bad," prudence (phronesis), or practical wisdom, would teach us to choose the highest and most perfect happiness. Morality is therefore the application of reason to the conduct of life, and virtue is wisdom. The office of reason is to "determine our choices"—to take account of the duration of pleasures, to estimate their consequences, and to regard the happiness of a whole lifetime, and not the enjoyment of a single hour. Without wisdom men will choose the momentary excitements of passion, and follow after agitating pleasures, which are succeeded by pain; they will consequently lose "tranquillity of mind." "It is not possible," says Epicurus, "to live pleasantly without living prudently and honorably and justly." The difference, then, between the philosopher and the ordinary man is this—that while both seek pleasure, the former knows how to forego certain indulgences which cause pain and vexation hereafter, whereas the ordinary man seeks only immediate enjoyment. Epicurus does not dispense with virtue, but he simply employs it as a means to an end, namely, the securing of happiness.
[Footnote 775: Id., ib.]
[Footnote 776: "Fundamental Maxims," No. 7.]
[Footnote 777: Ibid., No. 5.]
[Footnote 778: Pressense, "Religions before Christ," p. 141.]
Social morality is, like private morality, founded upon utility. As nothing is intrinsically right or wrong in private life, so nothing is intrinsically just or unjust in social life. "Justice has no independent existence: it results from mutual contracts, and establishes itself wherever there is a mutual engagement to guard against doing or sustaining any injury. Injustice is not intrinsically bad; it has this character only because there is joined with it the fear of not escaping those who are appointed to punish actions marked with this character." Society is thus a contract—an agreement to promote each other's happiness. And inasmuch as the happiness of the individual depends in a great degree upon the general happiness, the essence of his ethical system, in its political aspects, is contained in inculcating "the greatest happiness of the greatest number."
If you ask Epicurus what a man shall do when it is clearly his immediate interest to violate the social contract, he would answer, that if your general interest is secured by always observing it, you must make momentary sacrifices for the sake of future good. But "when, in consequence of new circumstances, a thing which has been pronounced just does not any longer appear to agree with utility, the thing which was just... ceases to be just the moment it ceases to be useful." So that self-interest is still the basis of all virtue. And if, by the performance of duty, you are exposed to great suffering, and especially to death, you are perfectly justified in the violation of any and all contracts. Such is the social morality of Epicurus.
With coarse and energetic minds the doctrine of Epicurus would inevitably lead to the grossest sensuality and crime; with men whose temperament was more apathetic, or whose tastes were more pure, it would develop a refined selfishness—a perfect egoism, which Epicurus has adorned with the name "tranquillity of mind—impassibility," (ataraxia).
[Footnote 779: "Fundamental Maxims," Nos. 35, 36.]
[Footnote 780: Ibid., No. 41.]
[Footnote 781: It is scarcely necessary to discuss the question whether, by making pleasure the standard of right, Epicurus intended to encourage what is usually called sensuality. He earnestly protested against any such unfavorable interpretation of his doctrine:—"When we say that pleasure is a chief good, we are not speaking of the pleasures of the debauched man, or those which lie in sensual enjoyment, as some think who are ignorant, and who do not entertain our opinions, or else interpret them perversely; but we mean the freedom of the body from pain, and the soul from confusion" ("Epicurus to Menaeceus," in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," bk. x. ch. xxvii.). The most obvious tendency of this doctrine is to extreme selfishness, rather than extreme sensuality—a selfishness which prefers one's own comfort and case to every other consideration.
As to the personal character of Epicurus, opinions have been divided both in ancient and modern times. By some the garden has been called a "sty." Epicurus has been branded as a libertine, and the name "Epicurean" has, in almost all languages, become the synonym of sensualism. Diogenes Laertius repels all the imputations which are cast upon the moral character of his favorite author, and ascribes them to the malignity and falsehood of the Stoics. "The most modern criticism seems rather inclined to revert to the vulgar opinion respecting him, rejecting, certainly with good reason, the fanatical panegyrics of some French and English writers of the last century. Upon the whole, we are inclined to believe that Epicurus was an apathetic, decorous, formal man, who was able, without much difficulty, to cultivate a measured and even habit of mind, who may have occasionally indulged in sensual gratifications to prove that he thought them lawful, but who generally preferred, as a matter of taste, the exercises of the intellect to the more violent forms of self-indulgence. And this life, it seems to us, would be most consistent with his opinions. To avoid commotion, to make the stream of life flow on as easily as possible, was clearly the aim of his philosophy."—Maurice's "Ancient Philosophy," p. 236.]
To secure this highest kind of happiness—this pure impassivity, it was necessary to get rid of all superstitious fears of death, of supernatural beings, and of a future retribution. The chief causes of man's misery are his illusions, his superstitions, and his prejudices. "That which principally contributes to trouble the spirit of men, is the persuasion which they cherish that the stars are beings imperishable and happy (i.e., that they are gods), and that then our thoughts and actions are contrary to the will of those superior beings; they also, being deluded by these fables, apprehend an eternity of evils, they fear the insensibility of death, as though that could affect them...." "The real freedom from this kind of trouble consists in being emancipated from all these things." And this emancipation is to be secured by the study of philosophy—that is, of that philosophy which explains every thing on natural or physical principles, and excludes all supernatural powers.
[Footnote 782: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. 1. 100-118.]
[Footnote 783: Epicurus to Herodotus, in Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," p. 453 (Bohn's edition).]
That ignorance which occasions man's misery is two-fold, (i.) Ignorance of the external world, which leads to superstition. All unexplained phenomena are ascribed to unseen, supernatural powers; often to malignant powers, which take pleasure in tormenting man; sometimes to a Supreme and Righteous Power, which rewards and punishes men for their good or evil conduct. Hence a knowledge of Physics, particularly the physics which Democritus taught, was needful to deliver men from false hopes and false fears. (ii.) Ignorance of the nature of man, of his faculties, powers, and the sources and limits of his knowledge, from whence arise illusions, prejudices, and errors. Hence the need of Psychology to ascertain the real grounds of human knowledge, to explain the origin of man's illusions, to exhibit the groundlessness of his fears, and lead him to a just conception of the nature and end of his existence.
[Footnote 784: "The study of physics contributes more than any thing else to the tranquillity and happiness of life."—Diogenes Laertius, "Lives," bk. x. ch. xxiv. "For thus it is that fear restrains all men, because they observe many things effected on the earth and in heaven, of which effects they can by no means see the causes, and therefore think that they are wrought by a divine power. For which reasons, when we have clearly seen that nothing can be produced from nothing, we shall have a more accurate perception of that of which we are in search, and shall understand whence each individual thing is generated, and how all things are done without the agency of the gods."—Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 145-150.]
Physics and Psychology are thus the only studies which Epicurus would tolerate as "conducive to the happiness of man." The pursuit of truth for its own sake was useless. Dialectics, which distinguish the true from the false, the good from the bad, on a priori grounds, must be banished as an unnecessary toil, which yields no enjoyment. Theology must be cancelled entirely, because it fosters superstitious fears. The idea of God's taking knowledge of, disapproving, condemning, punishing the evil conduct of men, is an unpleasant thought. Physics and Psychology are the most useful, because the most "agreeable," the most "comfortable" sciences.
In his physical theories Epicurus followed Leucippus and Democritus. He expounds these theories in his letters to Herodotus and Pythocles, which are preserved in Diogenes Laertius. We shall be guided mainly by his own statements, and when his meaning is obscure, or his exposition is incomplete, we shall avail ourselves of the more elaborate statements of Lucretius, who is uniformly faithful to the doctrine of Epicurus, and universally regarded as its best expounder.
The fundamental principle of his philosophy is the ancient maxim—"de nihilo nihil, in nihilum nil fosse reverti;" but instead of employing this maxim in the sense in which it is used by Parmenides, Anaxagoras, Empedocles, and others, to prove there must be something self-existent and eternal, or in other words, "that nothing which once was not can ever of itself come into being," he uses it to disprove a divine creation, and even presents the maxim in an altered form—viz., "nothing is ever divinely generated from nothing;" and he thence concludes that the world was by no means made for us by divine power. Nature is eternal. "The universal whole always was such as it now is, and always will be such." "The universe also is infinite, for that which is finite has a limit, but the universe has no limit."
[Footnote 785: "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x.]
[Footnote 786: "De Natura Rerum."]
[Footnote 787: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i.]
[Footnote 788: Ibid.]
[Footnote 789: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv.]
The two great principles of nature are a vacuum, and a plenum. The plenum is body, or tangible nature; the vacuum is space, or intangible nature. "We know by the evidences of the senses (which are our only rule of reasoning) that bodies have a real existence, and we infer from the evidence of the senses that the vacuum has a real existence; for if space have no real existence, there would be nothing in which bodies can move, as we see they really do move. Let us add to this reflection that one can not conceive, either in virtue of perception, or of any analogy founded on perception, any general quality peculiar to all beings, which is not either an attribute, or an accident, of the body or of the vacuum."
Of bodies some are "combinations"—concrete bodies—and some are primordial "elements," out of which combinations are formed. These primordial elements, out of which the universe is generated, are "atoms" (atomoi). These atoms are "the first principles" and "seeds" of all things. They are "infinite in number," and, as their name implies, they are "infrangible" "unchangeable" and "indestructible." Matter is, therefore, not infinitely divisible; there must be a point at which division ends.
The only qualities of atoms are form, magnitude, and density. All the other sensible qualities of matter—the secondary qualities—as color, odor, sweetness, bitterness, etc.—are necessarily inherent in form. All secondary qualities are changeable, but the primary atoms are unchangeable; "for in the dissolution of combined bodies there must be something solid and indestructible, of such a kind that it will not change, either into what does not exist, or out of what does not exist, but the change results from a simple displacement of parts, which is the most usual case, or from an addition or subtraction of particles."
[Footnote 790: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv.]
[Footnote 791: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxv.]
[Footnote 792: Id., ib., bk. x. ch. xxiv.]
[Footnote 793: Id., ib.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 616-620.]
[Footnote 794: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv.]
The atoms are not all of one form, but of different forms suited to the production of different substances by combination; some are square, some triangular, some smooth and spherical, some are hooked with points. They are also diversified in magnitude and density. The number of original forms is "incalculably varied," but not infinite. "Every variety of forms contains an infinitude of atoms, but there is not, for that reason, an infinitude of forms; it is only the number of them which is beyond computation." To assert that atoms are of every kind of form, magnitude, and density, would be "to contradict the phenomena; "for experience teaches us that objects have a finite magnitude, and form necessarily supposes limitation.
[Footnote 795: Id., ib.]
A variety of these primordial forms enter into the composition of all sensible objects, because sensible objects possess different qualities, and these diversified qualities can only result from the combination of different original forms. "The earth has, in itself, primary atoms from which springs, rolling forth cool water, incessantly recruit the immense sea; it has also atoms from which fire arises.... Moreover, the earth contains atoms from which it can raise up rich corn and cheerful groves for the tribes of men...." So that "no object in nature is constituted of one kind of elements, and whatever possesses in itself must numerous powers and energies, thus demonstrates that it contains more numerous kinds of primary particles," or primordial "seeds of things."
"The atoms are in a continual state of motion" and "have moved with equal rapidity from all eternity, since it is evident the vacuum can offer no resistance to the heaviest, any more than the lightest." The primary and original movement of all atoms is in straight lines, by virtue of their own weight. The vacuum separates all atoms one from another, at greater or less distances, and they preserve their own peculiar motion in the densest substances.
[Footnote 796: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 582-600.]
[Footnote 797: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 80-92.]
And now the grand crucial question arises—How do atoms combine so as to form concrete bodies? If they move in straight lines, and with equal rapidity from all eternity, then they can never unite so as to form concrete substances. They can only coalesce by deviating from a straight line. How are they made to deviate from a straight line? This deviation must be introduced arbitrarily, or by some external cause. And inasmuch as Epicurus admits of no causes "but space and matter," and rejects all divine or supernatural interposition, the new movement must be purely arbitrary. They deviate spontaneously, and of their own accord. "The system of nature immediately appears as a free agent, released from tyrant masters, to do every thing of itself spontaneously, without the help of the gods." The manner in which Lucretius proves this doctrine is a good example of the petitio principii. He assumes, in opposition to the whole spirit and tendency of the Epicurean philosophy, that man has "a free will," and then argues that if man who is nothing but an aggregation of atoms, can "turn aside and alter his own movements," the primary elements, of which his soul is composed, must have some original spontaneity. "If all motion is connected and dependent, and a new movement perpetually arises from a former one in a certain order, and if the primary elements do not produce any commencement of motion by deviating from the straight line to break the laws of fate, so that cause may not follow cause in infinite succession, whence comes this freedom of will to all animals in the world? whence, I say, is this liberty of action wrested from the fates, by means of which we go wheresoever inclination leads each of us? whence is it that we ourselves turn aside, and alter our motions, not at any fixed time, nor in any fixed part of space, but just as our own minds prompt?.... Wherefore we must necessarily confess that the same is the case with the seeds of matter, and there is some other cause besides strokes and weight [resistance and density] from which this power [of free movement] is innate in them, since we see that nothing is produced from nothing." Besides form, extension, and density, Epicurus has found another inherent or essential quality of matter or atoms, namely, "spontaneous" motion.
[Footnote 798: "At some time, though at no fixed and determinate time, and at some point, though at no fixed and determinate point, they turn aside from the right line, but only so far as you can call the least possible deviation."—Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. ii. l. 216-222.]
[Footnote 799: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things" bk. ii. 1. 1092-1096.]
[Footnote 800: Id., ib., bk. ii. l. 250-290.]
By a slight "voluntary" deflection from the straight line, atoms are now brought into contact with each other; "they strike against each other, and by the percussion new movements and new complications arise"—"movements from high to low, from low to high, and horizontal movements to and fro, in virtue of this reciprocal percussion." The atoms "jostling about, of their own accord, in infinite modes, were often brought together confusedly, irregularly, and to no purpose, but at length they successfully coalesced; at least, such of them as were thrown together suddenly became, in succession, the beginnings of great things—as earth, and air, and sea, and heaven."
[Footnote 801: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. ii. l. 1051-1065.]
And now Lucretius shall describe the formation of the different parts of the world according to the cosmogony of Epicurus. We quote from Good's translation:
But from this boundless mass of matter first How heaven, and earth, and ocean, sun, and moon, Rose in nice order, now the muse shall tell. For never, doubtless, from result of thought, Or mutual compact, could primordial seeds First harmonize, or move with powers precise. But countless crowds in countless manners urged, From time eternal, by intrinsic weight And ceaseless repercussion, to combine In all the possibilities of forms, Of actions, and connections, and exert In every change some effort to create— Reared the rude frame at length, abruptly reared, Which, when once gendered, must the basis prove Of things sublime; and whence eventual rose Heaven, earth, and ocean, and the tribes of sense.
Yet now nor sun on fiery wheel was seen Riding sublime, nor stars adorned the pole, Nor heaven, nor earth, nor air, nor ocean lived, Nor aught of prospect mortal sight surveyed; But one vast chaos, boisterous and confused. Yet order hence began; congenial parts Parts joined congenial; and the rising world Gradual evolved: its mighty members each From each divided, and matured complete From seeds appropriate; whose wild discortderst, Reared by their strange diversities of form, With ruthless war so broke their proper paths, Their motions, intervals, conjunctions, weights, And repercussions, nought of genial act Till now could follow, nor the seeds themselves E'en though conjoined in mutual bonds, co Thus air, secreted, rose o'er laboring earth; Secreted ocean flowed; and the pure fire, Secreted too, toward ether sprang sublime.
But first the seeds terrene, since ponderous most And most perplext, in close embraces clung, And towards the centre conglobating sunk. And as the bond grew firmer, ampler forth Pressed they the fluid essences that reared Sun, moon, and stars, and main, and heaven's high wall. For those of atoms lighter far consist, Subtiler, and more rotund than those of earth. Whence, from the pores terrene, with foremost haste Rushed the bright ether, towering high, and swift Streams of fire attracting as it flowed.
Then mounted, next, the base of sun and moon, 'Twixt earth and ether, in the midway air Rolling their orbs; for into neither these Could blend harmonious, since too light with earth To sink deprest, while yet too ponderous far To fly with ether toward the realms extreme: So 'twixt the two they hovered; vital there Moving forever, parts of the vast whole; As move forever in the frame of man Some active organs, while some oft repose.
[Footnote 802: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," b. v. l. 431-498]
After explaining the origin and causes of the varied celestial phenomena, he proceeds to give an account of the production of plants, animals, and man:
Once more return we to the world's pure prime, Her fields yet liquid, and the tribes survey First she put forth, and trusted to the winds.
And first the race she reared of verdant herbs, Glistening o'er every hill; the fields at large Shone with the verdant tincture, and the trees Felt the deep impulse, and with outstretched arms Broke from their bonds rejoicing. As the down Shoots from the winged nations, or from beasts Bristles or hair, so poured the new-born earth Plants, fruits, and herbage. Then, in order next, Raised she the sentient tribes, in various modes, By various powers distinguished: for not heaven Down dropped them, nor from ocean's briny waves Sprang they, terrestrial sole; whence, justly Earth Claims the dear name of mother, since alone Flowed from herself whate'er the sight surveys.
E'en now oft rears she many a sentient tribe By showers and sunshine ushered into day. Whence less stupendous tribes should then have risen More, and of ampler make, herself new-formed, In flower of youth, and Ether all mature.
Of these birds first, of wing and plume diverse, Broke their light shells in spring-time: as in spring Still breaks the grasshopper his curious web, And seeks, spontaneous, foods and vital air.
Then rushed the ranks of mortals; for the soil, Exuberant then, with warmth and moisture teemed. So, o'er each scene appropriate, myriad wombs Shot, and expanded, to the genial sward By fibres fixt; and as, in ripened hour, Their liquid orbs the daring foetus broke Of breath impatient, nature here transformed Th' assenting earth, and taught her opening veins With juice to flow lacteal; as the fair Now with sweet milk o'erflows, whose raptured breast First hails the stranger-babe, since all absorbed Of nurture, to the genial tide converts. Earth fed the nursling, the warm ether clothed, And the soft downy grass his couch compressed.
[Footnote 803: The doctrine of "spontaneous generations" is still more explicitly announced in book ii. "Manifest appearances compel us to believe that animals, though possessed of sense, are generated from senseless atoms. For you may observe living worms proceed from foul dung, when the earth, moistened with immoderate showers, has contracted a kind of putrescence; and you may see all other things change themselves, similarly, into other things."—Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 867-880.]
[Footnote 804: Ether is the father, earth the mother of all organized being.—Id., ib., bk. i. l. 250-255.]
[Footnote 805: Id., ib., bk. v. l. 795-836.]
A state of pure savagism, or rather of mere animalism, was the primitive condition of man. He wandered naked in the woods, feeding on acorns and wild fruits, and quenched his thirst at the "echoing waterfalls," in company with the wild beast.
Through the remaining part of book v. Lucretius describes how speech was invented; how society originated, and governments were instituted; how civilization commenced; and how religion arose out of ignorance of natural causes; how the arts of life were discovered, and how science sprang up. And all this, as he is careful to tell us, without any divine instruction, or any assistance from the gods.
Such are the physical theories of the Epicureans. The primordial elements of matter are infinite, eternal, and self-moved. After ages upon ages of chaotic strife, the universe at length arose out of an infinite number of atoms, and a finite number of forms, by a fortuitous combination. Plants, animals, and man were spontaneously generated from ether and earth. Languages, society, governments, arts were gradually developed. And all was achieved simply by blind, unconscious nature-forces, without any designing, presiding, and governing Intelligence—that is, without a God.
The evil genius which presided over the method of Epicurus, and perverted all his processes of thought, is clearly apparent. The end of his philosophy was not the discovery of truth. He does not commence his inquiry into the principles or causes which are adequate to the explanation of the universe, with an unprejudiced mind. He everywhere develops a malignant hostility to religion, and the avowed object of his physical theories is to rid the human mind of all fear of supernatural powers—that is, of all fear of God. "The phenomena which men observe to occur in the earth and the heavens, when, as often happens, they are perplexed with fearful thoughts, overawe their minds with a dread of the gods, and humble and depress them to the earth. For ignorance of natural causes obliges them to refer all things to the power of the divinities, and to resign the dominion of the world to them; because of those effects they can by no means see the origin, and accordingly suppose that they are produced by divine influence."
[Footnote 806: "Let us trample religion underfoot, that the victory gained over it may place us on an equality with heaven" (book i.). See Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxiv. pp. 453,454 (Bohn's edition); Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 54-120.]
[Footnote 807: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. vi. l. 51-60.]
To "expel these fancies from the mind" as "inconsistent with its tranquillity and opposed to human happiness," is the end, and, as Lucretius believes, the glory of the Epicurean philosophy. To accomplish this, God must be placed at an infinite distance from the universe, and must be represented as indifferent to every thing that transpires within it. We "must beware of making the Deity interpose here, for that Being we ought to suppose exempt from all occupation, and perfectly happy,"—that is, absolutely impassible. God did not make the world, and he does not govern the world. There is no evidence of design or intelligence in its structure, and "such is the faultiness with which it stands affected, that it can not be the work of a Divine power."
Epicurus is, then, an unmistakable Atheist. He did not admit a God in any rational sense. True, he professed to believe in gods, but evidently in a very equivocal manner, and solely to escape the popular condemnation. "They are not pure spirits, for there is no spirit in the atomic theory; they are not bodies, for where are the bodies that we may call gods? In this embarrassment, Epicurus, compelled to acknowledge that the human race believes in the existence of gods, addresses himself to an old theory of Democritus—that is, he appeals to dreams. As in dreams there are images that act upon and determine in us agreeable or painful sensations, without proceeding from exterior bodies, so the gods are images similar to those of dreams, but greater, having the human form; images which are not precisely bodies, and yet not deprived of materiality which are whatever you please, but which, in short, must be admitted, since the human race believes in gods, and since the universality of the religious sentiment is a fact which demands a cause."
[Footnote 808: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxv.; Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 55-60.]
[Footnote 809: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. v. l. 195-200.]
[Footnote 810: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 431.]
It is needless to offer any criticism on the reasoning of Epicurus. One fact will have obviously presented itself to the mind of the reflecting reader. He starts with atoms having form, magnitude, and density, and essays to construct a universe; but he is obliged to be continually introducing, in addition, a "nameless something" which "remains in secret," to help him out in the explanation of the phenomena. He makes life to arise out of dead matter, sense out of senseless atoms, consciousness out of unconsciousness, reason out of unreason, without an adequate cause, and thus violates the fundamental principle from which he starts, "that nothing can arise from nothing."
In the system of Epicurus, the soul is regarded as corporeal or material, like the body; they form, together, one nature or substance. The soul is composed of atoms exceedingly diminutive, smooth, and round, and connected with or diffused through the veins, viscera, and nerves. The substance of the soul is not to be regarded as simple and uncompounded; its constituent parts are aura, heat, and air. These are not sufficient, however, even in the judgment of Epicurus, to account for sensation; they are not adequate to generate sensible motives such as revolve any thoughts in the mind. "A certain fourth nature, or substance, must, therefore, necessarily be added to these, that is wholly without a name; it is a substance, however, than which nothing exists more active or more subtile, nor is any thing more essentially composed of small and smooth elementary particles; and it is this substance which first distributes sensible motions through the members."
[Footnote 811: As, e.g., Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l. 260-290.]
[Footnote 812: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 237-250.]
Epicurus is at great pains to prove that the soul is material; and it can not be denied that he marshals his arguments with great skill. Modern materialism may have added additional illustrations, but it has contributed no new lines of proof. The weapons are borrowed from the old arsenal, and they are not wielded with any greater skill than they were by Epicurus himself, I. The soul and the body act and react upon each other; and mutual reaction can only take place between substances of similar nature. "Such effects can only be produced by touch, and touch can not take place without body." 2. The mind is produced together with the body, it grows up along with it, and waxes old at the same time with it. 3. The mind is diseased along with the body, "it loses its faculties by material causes, as intoxication, or by severe blows; and is sometimes, by a heavy lethargy, borne down into a deep eternal sleep." 4. The mind, like the body, is healed by medicines, which proves that it exists only as a mortal substance. 5. The mind does not always, and at the same time, continue entire and unimpaired, some faculties decay before the others, "the substance of the soul is therefore divided." On all these grounds the soul must be deemed mortal; it is dissolved along with the body, and has no conscious existence after death.
[Footnote 813: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l. 138-168.]
[Footnote 814: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 444-460.]
[Footnote 815: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 438-490.]
[Footnote 816: Id., ib., bk. iii. l. 500-520.]
Such being the nature of the soul, inasmuch as it is material, all its knowledge must be derived from sensation. The famous doctrine of perception, as taught by Epicurus, is grounded upon this pre-supposition that the soul is corporeal. "The eidola aporroiai—imagines, simulacra rerum, etc., are, like pellicles, continually flying off from objects; and these material 'likenesses,' diffusing themselves everywhere in the air, are propelled to the perceptive organs." These images of things coming in contact with the senses produce sensation (aisthesis). A sensation may be considered either as regards its object, or as regards him who experiences it. As regards him who experiences it, it is simply a passive affection, an agreeable or disagreeable feeling, passion, or sentiment (to pathos). But along with sensation there is inseparably associated some knowledge of the object which excites sensation; and it is for this reason that Epicurus marked the intimate relation of these two phenomena by giving them analogous names. Because the second phenomenon is joined to the first, he calls it epaisthesis—perception. It is sensation viewed especially in regard to its object—representative sensation, or the "sensible idea" of modern philosophy. It is from perception that we draw our general ideas by a kind of prolepsis (prolepsis) an anticipation or laying hold by reason of that which is implied in sensation. Now all sensations are alike true in so far as they are sensations, and error arises from false reasoning about the testimony of sense. All knowledge is purely relative and contingent, and there is no such thing as necessary and absolute truth.
The system of Epicurus is thus a system of pure materialism, but not a system of materialism drawn, as a logical consequence, from a careful and unprejudiced study of the whole phenomena of mind. His openly avowed design is to deliver men from the fear of death, and rid them of all apprehension of a future retribution. "Did men but know that there was a fixed limit to their woes, they would be able, in some measure, to defy the religious fictions and menaces of the poets; but now, since we must fear eternal punishment at death, there is no mode, no means of resisting them." To emancipate men from "these terrors of the mind," they must be taught "that the soul is mortal, and dissolves with the body"—that "death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved is devoid of sensation, and that which is devoid of sensation is nothing to us." Starting with the fixed determination to prove that
"Death is nothing, and naught after death,"
he will not permit any mental phenomena to suggest to him the idea of an incorporeal spiritual substance. Matter, under any form known to Epicurus, is confessedly insufficient to explain sensation and thought; a "nameless something" must be supposed. But may not "that principle which lies entirely hid, and remains in secret"—and about which even Epicurus does not know any thing—be a spiritual, an immaterial principle? For aught that he knows it may as properly be called "spirit" as matter. May not sensation and cognition be the result of the union of matter and spirit; and if so, may not their mutual affections, their common sympathies, be the necessary conditions of sensation and cognition in the present life? A reciprocal relation between body and mind appears in all mental phenomena. A certain proportion in this relation is called mental health. A deviation from it is termed disease. This proportion is by no means an equilibrium, but the perfect adaptation of the body, without injury to its integrity, to the purposes of the mind. And if this be so, all the arguments of materialism fall to the ground.
[Footnote 817: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. i. l. 100-118.]
[Footnote 818: Diogenes Laertius, Maxim 2, in "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. x. ch. xxxi.]
[Footnote 819: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l. 275-280.]
The concluding portion of the third book, in which Lucretius discourses on death, is a mournful picture of the condition of the heathen mind before Christianity "brought life and immortality fully to light." It comes to us, like a voice from the grave of two thousand years, to prove they were "without hope." To be delivered from the fear of future retribution, they would sacrifice the hope of an immortal life. To extintinguish guilt they would annihilate the soul. The only way in which Lucretius can console man in prospect of death is, by reminding him that he will escape the ills of life.
"'But thy dear home shall never greet thee more! No more the best of wives!—thy babes beloved, Whose haste half-met thee, emulous to snatch The dulcet kiss that roused thy secret soul, Again shall never hasten!—nor thine arm, With deeds heroic, guard thy country's weal!— Oh mournful, mournful fate!' thy friends exclaim! 'One envious hour of these invalued joys Robs thee forever!—But they add not here, 'It robs thee, too, of all desire of joy'— A truth, once uttered, that the mind would free From every dread and trouble. 'Thou art safe The sleep of death protects thee, and secures From all the unnumbered woes of mortal life! While we, alas! the sacred urn around That holds thine ashes, shall insatiate weep, Nor time destroy the eternal grief we feel!' What, then, has death, if death be mere repose, And quiet only in a peaceful grave,— What has it thus to mar this life of man?"
[Footnote 820: Lucretius, "On the Nature of Things," bk. iii. l. 906-926.]
This is all the comfort that Epicureanism can offer; and if "the wretch still laments the approach of death," she addresses him "with voice severe"—
"Vile coward! dry thine eyes— Hence with thy snivelling sorrows, and depart!"
It is evident that such a system of philosophy outrages the purest and noblest sentiments of humanity, and, in fact, condemns itself. It was born of selfishness and social degeneracy, and could perpetuate itself only in an age of corruption, because it inculcated the lawfulness of sensuality and the impunity of injustice. Its existence at this precise period in Grecian history forcibly illustrates the truth, that Atheism is a disease of the heart rather than the head. It seeks to set man free to follow his own inclinations, by ridding him of all faith in a Divinity and in an immortal life, and thus exonerating him from all accountability and all future retribution. But it failed to perceive that, in the most effectual manner, it annihilated all real liberty, all true nobleness, and made of man an abject slave.
The Stoical school was founded by Zeno of Citium, who flourished B.C. 290. He taught in the Stoa Poecile, or Painted Porch; and his disciples thence derived the name of Stoics. Zeno was succeeded by Cleanthes (B.C. 260); and Cleanthes by Chrysippus (B.C. 240), whose vigorous intellect gave unity and completeness to the Stoical philosophy. He is reported to have said to Cleanthes,—"Give me your doctrines, and I will find the demonstrations."
[Footnote 821: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. vii.]
None of the writings of the early Stoics, save a "Hymn to Jupiter," by Cleanthes, have survived. We are chiefly indebted to Diogenes Laertius and Cicero for an insight into their system. The Hymn of Cleanthes sheds some light on their Theology, and their moral principles are exhibited in "The Fragments" of Epictetus, and "The Life and Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius.
[Footnote 822: "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii.]
[Footnote 823: "De Fm.," and "De Natura Deorum."]
The philosophy of the Stoics, like that of the Epicureans, was mainly a philosophy of life—that is, a moral philosophy. The manner in which they approached the study of morals, and the principles upon which they grounded morality, were, however, essentially different.
The grand object of Epicurus was to make the current of life flow on as comfortably as possible, without any distracting thoughts of the past or any disturbing visions of the future. He therefore starts with this fundamental principle, that the true philosophy of life is to enjoy one's self—the aim of existence is to be happy. Whatever in a man's beliefs or conduct tends to secure happiness is right; whatever awakens uneasiness, apprehension, or fear, is wrong. And inasmuch as the idea of a Divine Creator and Governor of the universe, and the belief in a future life and retribution, are uncomfortable thoughts, exciting superstitious fears, they ought to be rejected. The Physics and the Psychology of Epicurus are thus the natural outgrowth of his Morality.
Zeno was evidently a more earnest, serious, and thoughtful man. He cherished a nobler ideal of life than to suppose "man must do voluntarily, what the brute does instinctively—eschew pain, and seek pleasure." He therefore seeks to ascertain whether there be not some "principle of nature," or some law of nature, which determines what is right in human action—whether there be not some light under which, on contemplating an action, we may at once pronounce upon its intrinsic rightness, or otherwise. This he believes he has found in the universal reason which fashioned, and permeates, and vivifies the universe, and is the light and life of the human soul. The chief good is, confessedly, to live according to nature; which is to live according to virtue, for nature leads us to that point.... For our individual natures are all part of the universal nature; on which account, the chief good is to live in a manner corresponding to one's own nature, and to universal nature; doing none of those things which the common law of mankind (the universal conscience of our race) forbids. That common law is identical with RIGHT REASON which pervades every thing, being the same with Jupiter (Zeus), who is the regulator and chief manager of all existing things. The foundation of the ethical system of the Stoics is thus laid in their philosophy of nature—their Physiology and Psychology. If, therefore, we would apprehend the logical connection and unity of Stoicism, we must follow their order of thought—that is, we must commence with their
Diogenes Laertius tells us that the Stoics held "that there are two general principles in the universe—the passive principle (to naschon), which is matter, an existence without any distinctive quality, and the active principle (to poioun), which is the reason existing in the passive, that is to say, God. For that He, being eternal, and existing throughout all matter, makes every thing." This Divine Reason, acting upon matter, originates the necessary and unchangeable laws which govern matter—laws which the Stoics called logoi spermatikoi—generating reasons or causes of things. The laws of the world are, like eternal reason, necessary and immutable; hence the eimarmene—the Destiny of the Stoics, which is also one of the names of the Deity. But by Destiny the Stoics could not understand a blind unconscious necessity; it is rather the highest reason in the universe. "Destiny (eimarmene) is a connected (eiromene) cause of things, or the reason according to which the world is regulated."
[Footnote 824: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. liii.]
[Footnote 825: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxviii.]
[Footnote 826: "They teach that God is unity, and that he is called Mind, and Fate, and Jupiter."—Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxviii.]
[Footnote 827: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxxiv.]
These two principles are not, however, regarded by the Stoics as having a distinct, separate, and independent existence. One is substance (ousia); the other is quality (poios). The primordial matter is the passive ground of all existence—the original substratum for the Divine activity. The Divine Reason is the active or formative energy which dwells within, and is essentially united to, the primary substance. The Stoics, therefore, regarded all existence as reducible, in its last analysis, to one substance, which on the side of its passivity and capacity of change, they called hyle (yle); and on the side of its changeless energy and immutable order, they called God. The corporeal world—physical nature—is "a peculiar manifestation" of God, generated from his own substance, and, after certain periods, absorbed in himself. Thus God, considered in the evolution of His power, is nature. And nature, as attached to its immanent principle, is called God. The fundamental doctrine of the Stoics was a spiritual, ideal, intellectual pantheism, of which the proper formula is, All things are God, but God is not all things.
[Footnote 828: Or "matter." A good deal of misapprehension has arisen from confounding the intellectual yle of Aristotle and the Stoics with the gross physical "matter" of the modern physicist. By "matter" we now understand that which is corporeal, tangible, sensible; whereas by yle, Aristotle and the Stoics (who borrowed the term from him) understood that which is incorporeal, intangible, and inapprehensible to sense,—an "unknown something" which must necessarily be supposed as the condition of the existence of things. The formal cause of Aristotle is "the substance and essence"—the primary nature of things, on which all their properties depend. The material cause is "the matter or subject" through which the primary nature manifests itself. Unfortunately the term "material" misleads the modern thinker. He is in danger of supposing the hyle of Aristotle to be something sensible and physical, whereas it is an intellectual principle whose inherence is implied in any physical thing. It is something distinct from body, and has none of those properties we are now accustomed to ascribe to matter. Body, corporeity, is the result of the union of "hyle" and "form." Stobaeus thus expounds the doctrine of Aristotle: Form alone, separate from matter (yle) is incorporeal; so matter alone, separated from form, is not body. But there is need of the joint concurrence of both these—matter and form—to make the substance of body. Every individual substance is thus a totality of matter and form—a sinolon.
The Stoics taught that God is oneliness (Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxviii.); that he is eternal and immortal (bk. vii. ch. lxxii.); he could not, therefore, be corporeal, for "body infinite, divisible, and perishable" (bk. vii. ch. lxxvii.). "All the parts of the world are perishable, for they change one into another; therefore the world is perishable" (bk. vii. ch. lxx.). The Deity is not, therefore, absolutely identified with the world by the Stoics. He permeates all things, creates and dissolves all things, and is, therefore, more than all things. The world is finite; God is infinite.]
[Footnote 829: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxx.]
Schwegler affirms that, in physics, the Stoics, for the most part, followed Heraclitus, and especially "carried out the proposition that nothing incorporeal exists; every thing is essentially corporeal." The pantheism of Zeno is therefore "materialistic." This is not a just representation of the views of the early Stoics, and can not be sustained by a fair interpretation of their teaching. They say that principles and elements differ from each other. Principles have no generation or beginning, and will have no end; but elements may be destroyed. Also, that elements have bodies, and have forms, but principles have no bodies, and no forms. Principles are, therefore, incorporeal. Furthermore, Cicero tells us that they taught that the universal harmony of the world resulted from all things being "contained by one Divine SPIRIT;" and also, that reason in man is "nothing else but part of the Divine SPIRIT merged into a human body." It thus seems evident that the Stoics made a distinction between corruptible elements (fire, air, earth, water) and incorruptible principles, by which and out of which elements were generated, and also between corporeal and incorporeal substances.
[Footnote 830: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," p. 140.]
[Footnote 831: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxviii.]
[Footnote 832: "De Natura Deorum," bk. ii. ch. xiii.]
[Footnote 833: Ibid, bk. ii. ch. xxxi.]
On a careful collation of the fragmentary remains of the early Stoics, we fancy we catch glimpses of the theory held by some modern pantheists, that the material elements, "having body and form," are a vital transformation of the Divine substance; and that the forces of nature—"the generating causes or reasons of things" (logoi spermatikoi)—are a conscious transmutation of the Divine energy. This theory is more than hinted in the following passages, which we slightly transpose from the order in which they stand in Diogenes Laertius, without altering their meaning. "They teach that the Deity was in the beginning by himself".... that "first of all, he made the four elements, fire, water, air, and earth." "The fire is the highest, and that is called aether, in which, first of all, the sphere was generated in which the fixed stars are set...; after that the air; then the water; and the sediment, as it were, of all, is the earth, which is placed in the centre of the rest." "He turned into water the whole substance which pervaded the air; and as the seed is contained in the product, so, too, He, being the seminal principle of the world, remained still in moisture, making matter fit to be employed by himself in the production of things which were to come after." The Deity thus draws the universe out of himself, transmuting the divine substance into body and form. "God is a being of a certain quality, having for his peculiar manifestation universal substance. He is a being imperishable, and who never had any generation, being the maker of the arrangement and order that we see; and who at certain periods of time absorbs all substance in himself and then reproduces it from himself." And now, in the last analysis, it would seem as though every thing is resolved into force. God and the world are power, and its manifestation, and these are ultimately one. "This identification of God and the world, according to which the Stoics regarded the whole formation of the universe as but a period in the development of God, renders their remaining doctrine concerning the world very simple. Every thing in the world seemed to be permeated by the Divine life, and was regarded as the flowing out of this most perfect life through certain channels, until it returns, in a necessary circle, back to itself."
[Footnote 834: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxviii., lxix.]
[Footnote 835: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. lxx.]
[Footnote 836: Schwegler's "History of Philosophy," p. 141.]
The God of the Stoics is not, however, a mere principle of life vitalizing nature, but an intelligent principle directing nature; and, above all, a moral principle, governing the human race. "God is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect, and intellectual in his happiness, unsusceptible of any kind of evil; having a foreknowledge of the world, and of all that is in the world." He is also the gracious Providence which cares for the individual as well as for the whole; and he is the author of that natural law which commands the good and prohibits the bad. "He made men to this end that they might be happy; as becomes his fatherly care of us, he placed our good and evil in those things which are in our own power." The Providence and Fatherhood of God are strikingly presented in the "Hymn of Cleanthes" to Jupiter—
[Footnote 837: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. lxxii.]
[Footnote 838: Marcus Aurelius, bk. iii. ch. xxiv.]
Most glorious of the immortal Powers above! O thou of many names! mysterious Jove: For evermore almighty! Nature's source! Thou governest all things in their order'd course! All hail to thee! since, innocent of blame, E'en mortal creatures may address thy name; For all that breathe, and creep the lowly earth, Echo thy being with reflected birth— Thee will I sing, thy strength for aye resound: The universe, that rolls this globe around, Moves wheresoe'er thy plastic influence guides, And, ductile, owns the god whose arm presides. The lightnings are thy ministers of ire; The double-forked and ever-living fire; In thy unconquerable hands they glow, And at the flash all nature quakes below. Thus, thunder-armed, thou dost creation draw To one immense, inevitable law: And, with the various mass of breathing souls, Thy power is mingled, and thy spirit rolls. Dread genius of creation! all things bow To thee: the universal monarch thou!
Nor aught is done without thy wise control, On earth, or sea, or round the ethereal pole, Save when the wicked, in their frenzy blind, Act o'er the follies of a senseless mind, Thou curb'st th' excess; confusion, to thy sight, Moves regular; th' unlovely scene is bright. Thy hand, educing good from evil, brings To one apt harmony the strife of things. One ever-during law still binds the whole, Though shunned, resisted, by the sinner's soul. Wretches! while still they course the glittering prize The law of God eludes their ears and eyes. Life, then, were virtue, did they thus obey; But wide from life's chief good they headlong stray. Now glory's arduous toils the breast inflame; Now avarice thirsts, insensible of shame; Now sloth unnerves them in voluptuous ease, And the sweet pleasures of the body please. With eager haste they rush the gulf within, And their whole souls are centred in their sin. But, oh, great Jove! by whom all good is given! Dweller with lightnings and the clouds of heaven! Save from their dreadful error lost mankind! Father! disperse these shadows of the mind! Give them thy pure and righteous law to know; Wherewith thy justice governs all below. Thus honored by the knowledge of thy way, Shall men that honor to thyself repay; And bid thy mighty works in praises ring, As well befits a mortal's lips to sing: More blest, nor men, nor heavenly powers can be, Than when their songs are of thy law and thee.
[Footnote 839: Sir C. A. Elton's version, published in "Specimens of Ancient Poets," edited by William Peters, A. M., Christ Church, Oxford.]
As in the world there are two principles, the passive and the active, so in the understanding there are two elements: a passive element—sensation, and an active element—reason.
All knowledge commences with the phenomena of sensation (aisthesis). This produces in the soul an image (phantasia), which corresponds to the exterior object, and which Chrysippus regarded as a modification of the mind (alloiosis).
Associate with sensibility is thought—the faculty of general ideas—the orthos logos, or right reason, as the supreme power and the guiding light of humanity. This active principle is of divine origin, "a part or shred of the Divinity."
[Footnote 840: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. xxxiv.]
This "right reason," or "common reason," is the source and criterion of all truth; "for our individual natures are all parts of the universal nature," and, therefore, all the dictates of "common reason" are "identical with that right reason which pervades every thing, being the same with Jupiter, who is the regulator and chief manager of all things."
The fundamental canon of the logic of the Stoics, therefore, was that "what appears to all, that is to be believed, for it is apprehended by the reason, which is common and Divine."
It is needless to remark that the Stoics were compelled by their physiological theory to deny the proper immortality of the soul. Some of them seem to have supposed that it might, for a season, survive the death of the body, but its ultimate destination was absorption into the Divine essence. It must return to its original source.
If reason be the great organizing and controlling law of the universe, then, to live conformable to reason is the great practical law of life. Accordingly, the fundamental ethical maxim of the Stoics is, "Live conformably with nature—that is, with reason, or the will of the universal governor and manager of all things." Thus the chief good (eudaimonia) is the conformity of man's actions to reason—that is, to the will of God, "for nothing is well done without a reference to God."
[Footnote 841: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. liii.]
[Footnote 842: Marcus Aurelius, bk. iii. Sec. II.]
It is obvious that this doctrine must lead to a social morality and a jurisprudence the very opposite of the Epicurean. If we must do that which is good—that is, that which is reasonable, regardless of all consequences, then it is not for the pleasurable or useful results which flow from it that justice should be practised, but because of its intrinsic excellence. Justice is constituted good, not by the law of man, but by the law of God. The highest pleasure is to do right; "this very thing is the virtue of the happy man, and the perfect happiness of life, when every thing is done according to a harmony of the genius of each individual to the will of the Universal Governor and Manager of all things." Every thing which interferes with a purely rational existence is to be eschewed; the pleasures and pains of the body are to be despised. To triumph over emotion, over suffering, over passion; to give the fullest ascendency to reason; to attain courage, moral energy, magnanimity, constancy, was to realize true manhood, nay, "to be godlike; for they have something in them which is, as it were, a god"
The sublime heroism of the Stoic school is well expressed in the manly precept, "Anechou"—sustine—endure. "Endure the sorrows engendered by the bitter struggle between the passions support all the evils which fortune shall send thee—calumny, betrayal, poverty, exile, irons, death itself." In Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius this spirit seems to rise almost to the grandeur of Christian resignation. "Dare to lift up thine eyes to God and say, 'Use me hereafter to whatsoever thou pleasest. I agree, and am of the same mind with thee, indifferent to all things. Lead me whither thou pleasest. Let me act what part thou wilt, either of a public or a private person, of a rich man or a beggar.'" "Show those qualities," says Marcus Aurelius, "which God hath put in thy power—sincerity, gravity, endurance of labor, aversion to pleasure, contentment with thy portion and with few things, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from trifling, magnanimity."
[Footnote 843: Diogenes Laertius, "Lives of the Philosophers," bk. vii. ch. liii.]
[Footnote 844: Id., ib., bk. vii. ch. xliv.]
[Footnote 845: Arrian, "Diss. Epict.," bk. ii. ch. xviii.]
[Footnote 846: "I read to-day part of the 'Meditations of Marcus Antonius' [Aurelius]. What a strange emperor! And what a strange heathen! Giving thanks to God for all the good things he enjoyed! In particular for his good inspirations, and for twice revealing to him, in dreams, things wherby he was cured of (otherwise) incurable distempers. I make no doubt but this is one of the 'many' who shall come from the east and the west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,' while the 'children of the kingdom'—nominal Christians—are 'shut out.'"—Wesley's "Journal," vol. i, p. 353.]
Amid the fearful moral degeneracy of imperial Rome, Stoicism became the refuge of all noble spirits. But, in spite of its severity, and its apparent triumph over the feelings, it brought no real freedom and peace. "Stoical morality, strictly speaking, is, at bottom, only a slavish morality, excellent in Epictetus; admirable still, but useless to the world, in Marcus Aurelius." Pride takes the place of real disinterestedness. It stands alone in haughty grandeur and solitary isolation, tainted with an incurable egoism. Disheartened by its metaphysical impotence, which robs God of all personality, and man of all hope of immortality; defeated in its struggle to obtain purity of soul, it sinks into despair, and often terminates, as in the case of its two first leaders, Zeno and Cleanthes, and the two Romans, Cato and Seneca, in self-murder. "Thus philosophy is only an apprenticeship of death, and not of life; it tends to death by its image, apathy and ataraxy."
[Footnote 847: Cousin's "Lectures on the History of Philosophy," vol. i. p. 439.]
THE PROPAEDEUTIC OFFICE OF GREEK PHILOSOPHY.
"Philosophy, before the coming of the Lord, was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness, and it now proved useful for godliness, being in some part a preliminary discipline (propaideia tis ousa) for those who reap the fruits of faith through demonstration. Perhaps we may say it was given to the Greeks with this special object; for philosophy was to the Greeks what the Law was to the Jews, 'a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.'"—CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS.
Philosophy, says Cousin, is the effort of reflection—the attempt of the human mind to develop in systematic and logical form that which has dimly revealed itself in the spontaneous thought of ages, and to account to itself in some manner for its native and instinctive beliefs. We may further add, it is the effort of the human mind to attain to truth and certitude on purely rational grounds, uncontrolled by traditional authorities. The sublime era of Greek philosophy was, in fact, an independent effort of human reason to solve the great problems of existence, of knowledge, and of duty. It was an attempt to explain the phenomenal history of the universe, to interpret the fundamental ideas and laws of human reason, to comprehend the utterances of conscience, and to ascertain what Ultimate and Supreme Reality underlies the world of phenomena, of thought, and of moral feeling. And it is this which, for us, constitutes its especial value; that it was, as far as possible, a result of simple reason; or, if at any time Faith asserted its authority, the distinction is clearly marked: If this inquiry was fully, and honestly, and logically conducted, we are entitled to presume that the results attain by this effort of speculative thought must harmonize with the positive utterances of the Divine Logos—the Eternal Reason, whose revelations are embalmed and transmitted to us in the Word of God. If the great truth that man is "the offspring of God" and as such "the image and glory of God" which is asserted, alike, by Paul and the poet-philosophers of Tarsus and Mysia, be admitted, then we may expect that the reason of man shall have some correlation with the Divine reason. The mind of man is the chef-d'oeuvre of Divine art. It is fashioned after the model which the Divine nature supplies. "Let us make man in our image after our likeness." That image consists in epignosis—knowledge; dikalosyne—justice; and osiotes—benevolence. It is not merely the capacity to know, to be just, and to be beneficent; it is actual knowledge, justice, and benevolence. It supposes, first, that the fundamental ideas of the true, the just, and the good, are connate to the human mind; second, that the native determination of the mind is towards the realization of these ideas in every mental state and every form of human activity; third, that there is a constitutional sympathy of reason with the ideas of truth, and righteousness, and goodness, as they dwell in the reason of God. And though man be now fallen, there is still within his heart some vestige of his primal nature. There is still a sense of the divine, a religious aptitude, "a feeling after God," and some longing to return to Him. There are still ideas in the reason, which, in their natural and logical development compel him to recognize a God. There is within his conscience a sense of duty, of obligation, and accountability to a Superior Power—"a law of the mind," thought opposed and antagonized by depraved passions and appetites—"the law in the members." There is yet a natural, constitutional sympathy of reason with the law of God—"it delights in that law," and consents "that it is good," but it is overborne and obstructed by passion. Man, even as unregenerate, "wills to do that which is good," but "how to perform that which is good he finds not," and in the agony of his soul he exclaims, "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me!"
[Footnote 848: Plato sought also to attain to the Ultimate Reality underlying all aesthetic feeling—the Supreme Beauty as well as the Supreme Good.]
[Footnote 849: Romans, ch. vii.]
The Author of nature is also the Author of revelation. The Eternal Father of the Eternal Son, who is the grand medium of all God's direct communications to our race—the revealer of God, is also "the Father of the spirits of all flesh." That divine inbreathing which first constituted man "a living soul"—that "inspiration of the Almighty which giveth man understanding," and still "teacheth him knowledge," proceeds from the same Spirit as that which inspires the prophets and seers of the Old Testament Church, and the Apostles and teachers of the new. That "true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" shone on the mind of Anaxagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, as well as on the mind of Abraham and Rahab, Cornelius and the Syro-Phoenician woman, and, in a higher form, and with a clearer and richer effulgence, on the mind of Moses, Isaiah, Paul and John. It is not to be wondered at, then, if, in the teaching of Socrates and Plato, we should find a striking harmony of sentiment, and even form of expression, with some parts of the Christian revelation. No short-sighted jealousy ought to impugn the honesty of our judgment, if, in the speculations of Plato, we catch glimpses of a world of ideas not unlike that which Christianity discloses, and hear words not unfamiliar to those who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
If, then, there exists some correlation between Divine and human reason, and if the light which illuminates all minds in Christian and in heathen lands is the same "true light," though differing in degrees of brightness, it is most natural and reasonable to expect some connection and some correspondence between the discoveries of philosophy and the revelations of the Sacred Oracles.
Although Christianity is confessedly something which is above reason and nature—something communicated from above, and therefore in the fullest sense supernatural and superhuman, yet it must stand in relation to reason and nature, and to their historic development; otherwise it could not operate on man at all. "We have no knowledge of a dynamic influence, spiritual or natural, without a dynamic reaction." Matter can only be moved by forces, and according to laws, as it has properties which correlate it with these forces and laws. And mind can not be determined from without to any specific form of cognition, unless it have powers of apprehension and conception which are governed by uniform laws. If man is to be instructed by a verbal revelation, he must, at least, be capacitated for the reception of divine communication—must have a power of forming supersensuous conceptions, and there must be some original community of thought and idea between the mind that teaches and the mind that is taught. A revelation from an invisible God—a being "whom no man has ever seen or ever can see" with the eye of sense—would have no affinity for, and no power to affect and enlighten, a being who had no presentiment of an invisible Power to which he is in some way related. A revealed law promulgated from an unseen and utterly unknown Power would have no constraining authority, if man had no idea of right, no sense of duty, no feeling of obligation to a Supreme Being. If, therefore, religious instruction be not already preceded by an innate consciousness of God, and of obligation to God, as an operative predisposition, there would be nothing for revelation to act upon. Some relation between the reason which planned the universe, and which has expressed its thoughts in the numerical relations and archetypal forms which are displayed therein, and the reason of man, with its ideas of form and number, proportion and harmony, is necessarily supposed in the statement of Paul that "the invisible things of God from the creation are seen." Nature to us could be no symbol of the Divine Thought, if there were no correlation between the reason of man and the reason of God. All revelation, indeed, supposes some community of nature, some affinities of thought, some correlation of ideas, between the mind communicating spiritual knowledge, and the mind to which the communication is made. In approaching man, it must traverse ground already occupied by man; it must employ phrases already employed, and assume forms of thought already familiar to man. It must address itself to some ideas, sentiments, and feelings already possessed by man. If religion is the great end and destination of man, then the nature of man must be constituted for religion. Now religion, in its inmost nature, is a communion, a fellowship with God. But no creature can be brought into this communion "save one that is constitutionally related to God in terms that admit of correspondence." There must be intelligence offered to his intelligence, sentiment to his sentiment, reason to his reason, thought to his thought. There must be implanted in the human mind some fundamental ideas and determinations grounded upon this fact, that the real end and destination of man is for religion, so that when that higher sphere of life and action is presented to man, by an outward verbal revelation, there shall be a recognized harmony between the inner idea and determination, and the outer revelation. We can not doubt that such a relation between human nature and reason, and Christianity, exists. We see evidences of this in the perpetual strivings of humanity to attain to some fuller and clearer apprehension of that Supreme Power which is consciously near to human thought, and in the historic development of humanity towards those higher forms of thought and existence which demand a revelation in order to their completion. This original capacity, and this historical development, have unquestionably prepared the way for the reception of Christianity.
Christianity, then, must have some connection with the reason of man, and it must also have some relation to the progressive developments of human thought in the ages which preceded the advent of Christ. Christianity did not break suddenly upon the world as a new commencement altogether unconnected with the past, and wanting in all points of sympathy and contact with the then present. It proceeded along lines of thought which had been laid through ages of preparation; it clothed itself in forms of speech which had been moulded by centuries of education, and it appropriated to itself a moral and intellectual culture which had been effected by long periods of severest discipline. It was, in fact, the consummation of the whole moral and religious history of the world.
A revelation of new truths, presented in entirely new forms of thought and speech, would have defeated its own ends, and, practically, would have been no revelation at all. The divine light, in passing through such a medium, would have been darkened and obscured. The lens through which the heavenly rays are to be transmitted must first be prepared and polished. The intellectual eye itself must be gradually accustomed to the light. Hence it is that all revelation has been progressive, commencing, in the infancy of our race, with images and symbols addressed to sense, and advancing, with the education of the race, to abstract conceptions and spiritual ideas. The first communications to the patriarchs were always accompanied by some external, sensible appearance; they were often made through some preternatural personage in human form. Subsequently, as human thought becomes assimilated to the Divine idea, God uses man as his organ, and communicates divine knowledge as an internal and spiritual gift. The theistic conception of the earliest times was therefore more or less anthropomorphic, in the prophetic age it was unquestionably more spiritual. The education of Hebraic, Mosaic, and prophetic ages had gradually developed a purer theism, and prepared the Jewish mind for that sublime announcement of our Lord's—"God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit." For ages the Jews had worshipped in Samaria and Jerusalem, and the inevitable tendency of thought was to localize the divine presence; but the gradual withdrawment from these localities of all visible tokens of Jehovah's presence, prepared the way for the Saviour's explicit declaration that "neither in this mountain of Samaria, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father," to the exclusion of any other spot on earth; the real temple of the living God is now the heart of man. The Holiness of God was an idea too lofty for human thought to grasp at once. The light of God's ineffable purity was too bright and dazzling to burst at once on human eyes. Therefore it was gradually displayed. The election of a chosen seed in Abraham's race to a nearer approach to God than the rest of pagan humanity; the announcement of the Decalogue at Sinai amidst awe-inspiring wonders; the separation of a single tribe to the priestly office, who were dedicated to, and purified in an especial manner for the service of the tabernacle; the sanctification of the High-priest by sacrifice and lustration before he dared to enter "the holiest place"—the presence-chamber of Jehovah: and then the direct and explicit teaching of the prophets—were all advancing steps by which the Jewish mind was lifted up to the clearer apprehension of the holiness of God, the impurity of man, the distance of man from God, and the need of Mediation.
The ideas of Redemption and Salvation—of atonement, expiation, pardon, adoption, and regeneration—are unique and sui-generis. Before these conceptions could be presented in the fullness and maturity of the Christian system, there was needed the culture and education of the ages of Mosaic ritualism, with its sacrificial system, its rights of purification, its priestly absolution, and its family of God. Redemption itself, as an economy, is a development, and has consequently, a history—a history which had its commencement in the first Eden, and which shall have its consummation in the second Eden of a regenerated world. It was germinally infolded in the first promise, gradually unfolded in successive types and prophecies, more fully developed in the life, and sayings, and sufferings of the Son of God, and its ripened fruit is presented to the eye of faith in the closing scenic representations of the grand Apocalypse of John. "Judaism was not given as a perfect religion. Whatever may have been its superiority over surrounding forms of worship, it was, notwithstanding, a provisional form only. The consciousness that it was a preparatory, and not a definite dispensation, is evident throughout. It points to an end beyond itself, suggests a grander thought than any in itself; its glory precisely consists in its constant looking forward to a glorious future destined to surpass it."
[Footnote 850: Romans, IX 4-6.]
[Footnote 851: Pressense, "Religions before Christ," p. 202.]
Thus the determinations which, through Redemption, fall to the lot of history, as Nitzsch justly remarks, obey the emancipating law of gradual progress. Christianity was preceded by ages of preparation, in which we have a gradual development of religious phrases and ideas, of forms of social life and intellectual culture, and of national and political institutions most favorable to its advent and its promulgation; and "in the fullness of time"—the maturity and fitness of the age—"God sent his own Son into the world."
[Footnote 852: "System of Doctrine," p. 73.]
This work of preparation was not confined alone to Judaism. The divine plan of redemption comprehended all the race; its provisions are made in view of the wants of all the race; and we must therefore believe that the entire history of the race, previous to the coming of the Redeemer, was under a divine supervision, and directed towards the grand centre of our world's history. Greek philosophy and Grecian civilization must therefore have a place in the divine plan of history, and they must stand in an important relation to Christianity. He who "determined the time of each nation's existence, and fixed the geographical boundaries of their habitation in order that they may seek the Lord," can not have been unmindful of the Greek nation, and of its grandest age of philosophy. "The Father of the spirits of all flesh" could not be unconcerned in the moral and spiritual welfare of any of his children. He was as deeply interested in the Athenian as in the Hebrew. He is the God of the Gentile as well as the Jew. His tender mercies are over all his works. If the Hebrew race was selected to be the agent of his providence in one special field, and if the Jewish theocracy was one grand instrument of preparatory discipline, it was simply because, through these, God designed to bless all the nations of the earth. And surely no one will presume to say that a civilization and an intellectual culture which was second only to the Hebrew, and, in some of its aspects, even in advance of the Hebrew, was not determined and supervised by Divine Providence, and made subservient to the education and development of the whole race. The grand results of Hebrew civilization were appropriated and assimilated by Christianity, and remain to this day. And no one can deny that the same is true of Greek civilization. Through a kind of historic preparation the heathen world was made ready for Christ, as a soil is prepared to receive the seed, and some precious fruits of knowledge, of truth, and of righteousness, even, were largely matured, which have been reaped, and appropriated, and vitalized by the heaven-descended life of Christianity.
The chief points of excellence in the civilization of the Greeks are strikingly obvious, and may be readily presented. High perfection of the intellect and the imagination displaying itself in the various forms of art, poetry, literature, and philosophy. A wonderful freedom and activity of body and of mind, developed in trade, and colonization, in military achievement, and in subtile dialectics. A striking love of the beautiful, revealing itself in their sculpture and architecture, in the free music of prosaic numbers, and the graceful movement and measure of their poetry. A quickness of perception, a dignity of demeanor, a refinement of taste, a delicacy of moral sense, and a high degree of reverence for the divine in nature and humanity. And, in general, a ripe and all-pervading culture, which has made Athens a synonym for all that is greatest and best in the genius of man; so that literature, in its most flourishing periods has rekindled its torch at her altars, and art has looked back to the age of Pericles for her purest models. All these enter into the very idea of Greek civilization. We can not resist the conviction that, by a Divine Providence, it was made subservient to the purpose of Redemption; it prepared the way for, and contributed to, the spread of the Gospel.
[Footnote 853: In Lord Brougham's celebrated letter to the father of the historian Macaulay in regard to the education of the latter, we read: "If he would be a great orator, he must go at once to the fountain-head, and be familiar with every one of the great orations of Demosthenes.... I know from experience that nothing is half so successful in these times (bad though they be) as what has been formed on the Greek models. I use poor illustrations in giving my own experience, but I do assure you that both in courts and Parliament, and even to mobs, I have never made so much play (to use a very modern phrase) as when I was almost translating from the Greek. I composed the peroration of my speech for the Queen, in the Lords, after reading and repeating Demosthenes for three or four weeks."]
Its subserviency to this grand purpose is seen in the Greek tendency to trade and colonization. Their mental activity was accompanied by great physical freedom of movement. They displayed an inherent disposition to extensive emigration. "Without aiming at universal conquest, they developed (if we may use the word) a remarkable catholicity of character, and a singular power of adaptation to those whom they called Barbarians. In this respect they were strongly contrasted with the Egyptians, whose immemorial civilization was confined to the long valley which extended from the cataracts to the mouth of the Nile. The Hellenic tribes, on the other hand, though they despised the foreigners, were never unwilling to visit them and to cultivate their acquaintance. At the earliest period at which history enables us to discover them, we see them moving about in their ships on the shores and among the islands of their native seas; and, three or four centuries before the Christian era, Asia Minor, beyond which the Persians had not been permitted to advance, was bordered by a fringe of Greek colonies; and lower Italy, when the Roman Republic was just becoming conscious of its strength, had received the name of Greece itself. To all these places they carried their arts and literature, their philosophy, their mythology, and their amusements.... They were gradually taking the place of the Phoenicians in the empire of the Mediterranean. They were, indeed, less exclusively mercantile than those old discoverers. Their voyages were not so long. But their influence on general civilization was greater and more permanent. The earliest ideas of scientific navigation and geography are due to the Greeks. The later Greek travellers, Pausanias and Strabo, are our best sources of information on the topography of St. Paul's journeys.
"With this view of the Hellenic character before us, we are prepared to appreciate the vast results of Alexander's conquests. He took the meshes of the net of Greek civilization which were lying in disorder on the edge of the Asiatic shore, and spread them over all the countries he traversed in his wonderful campaigns. The East and the West were suddenly brought together. Separate tribes were united under a common government. New cities were built as the centres of political life. New lines of communication were opened as the channels of commercial activity. The new culture penetrated the mountain ranges of Pisidia and Lycaonia. The Tigris and Euphrates became Greek rivers. The language of Athens was heard among the Jewish colonies of Babylonia, and a Grecian Babylon was built by the conqueror in Egypt, and called by his name.
"The empire of Alexander was divided, but the effects of his campaigns and policy did not cease. The influence of these fresh elements of social life was rather increased by being brought into independent action within the sphere of distinct kingdoms. Our attention is particularly directed to two of the monarchical lines which descended from Alexander's generals—the Ptolemies, or the Greek kings of Egypt, and the Seleucidae, or the Greek kings of Syria. Their respective capitals, Alexandria and Antioch, became the metropolitan centres of commercial and civilized life in the East." Antioch was for ages the home of science and philosophy. Here the religious opinions of the East and the West were blended and mutually modified. Here it was discovered by the heathen mind that a new religion had appeared, and a new revelation had been given. In Alexandria all nations were invited to exchange their commodities and, with equal freedom, their opinions. The representatives of all religions met here. "Beside the Temple of Jupiter there rose the white marble Temple of Serapis, and close at hand stood the synagogue of the Jews." The Alexandrian library contained all the treasures of ancient culture, and even a copy of the Hebrew Scriptures.
[Footnote 854: Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i. pp. 8-10.]
[Footnote 855: Acts, xi. 26.]
The spread of the Greek language was one of the most important services which the cities of Antioch and Alexandria rendered to Christianity. The Greek tongue is intimately connected with the whole system of Christian doctrine.
This language, which, in symmetry of structure, in flexibility and compass of expression, in exactness and precision, in grace and elegance, exceeds every other language, became the language of theology. Next in importance to the inspiration which communicates the superhuman thought, must be the gradual development of the language in which the thought can clothe itself. That development by which the Greek language became the adequate vehicle of Divine thought, the perfect medium of the mature revelation of truth contained in the Christian Scriptures, must be regarded as the subject of a Divine providence. Christianity waited for that development, and it awaited Christianity. "The Greek tongue became to the Christian more than it had been to the Roman or the Jew. The mother-tongue of Ignatius at Antioch was that in which Philo composed his treatises at Alexandria, and which Cicero spoke at Athens. It is difficult to state in a few words the important relation which Alexandria, more especially, was destined to bear to the whole Christian Church." In that city, the Old Testament was translated into Greek; there the writings of Plato were diligently studied; there Philo, the Platonizing Jew, had sought to blend into one system the teachings of the Old Testament theology and the dialectic speculations of Plato. Numenius learns of Philo, and Plotinus of Numenius, and the ecstasy of Plotinus is the development of Philo's intuitions. A theological language by this means was developed, rich in the phrases of various schools, and suited to convey the spiritual revelation of Christian ideas to all the world. "It was not an accident that the New Testament was written in Greek, the language which can best express the highest thoughts and worthiest feelings of the intellect and heart, and which is adapted to be the instrument of education for all nations; nor was it an accident that the composition of these books and the promulgation of the Gospels were delayed till the instruction of our Lord, and the writings of his Apostles could be expressed in the dialect [of Athens and] of Alexandria." This must be ascribed to the foreordination of Him who, in the history of nations and of civilizations, "worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will."
[Footnote 856: Conybeare and Howson, "Life and Epistles of St. Paul," vol. i. p. 10.]
Now it is the doctrine of the best philologists that language is a growth. Gradually, and by combined efforts of successive generations, it has been brought to the perfection which we so much admire in the idioms of the Bible, the poetry of Homer, Dante, and Shakspeare, and the prose compositions of Demosthenes, Cicero, Johnson, and Macaulay. The material or root-element of language may have been the product of mental instinct, or perhaps the immediate gift of God by revelation; but the formal element must have been the creation of thought, and the result of rational combination. Language is really the incarnation of thought; consequently the growth of a language, its affluence, comprehension, and fullness must depend on the vigor and activity of thought, and the acquisition of general ideas. Language is thus the best index of intellectual progress, the best standard of the intellectual attainment of an age or nation. The language of barbaric tribes is exceedingly simple and meagre; the paucity of general terms clearly indicating the absence of all attempts at classification and all speculative thought. Whilst the language of educated peoples is characterized by great fullness and affluence of terms, especially such as are expressive of general notions and abstract ideas. All grammar, all philology, all scientific nomenclature are thus, in fact, psychological deposits, which register the progressive advancement of human thought and knowledge in the world of mind, as the geological strata bear testimony to the progressive development of the material world. "Language," says Trench, "is fossil poetry, fossil history," and, we will add, fossil philosophy. Many a single word is a concentrated poem. The record of great social and national revolutions is embalmed in a single term. And the history of an age of philosophic thought is sometimes condensed and deposited in one imperishable word.
[Footnote 857: See Trench "On the Study of Words," p. 20, where the word "frank" is given as an illustration.]
[Footnote 858: For example, the cosmos of the Pythagoreans, the eide of the Platonists, and the ataraxia of the Stoics.]
If, then, language is the creation of thought, the sensible vesture with which it clothes itself, and becomes, as it were, incarnate—if the perfection and efficiency of language depends on the maturity and clearness of thought, we conclude that the wonderful adequacy and fitness of the Greek language to be the vehicle of the Divine thought, the medium of the most perfect revelation of God to men, can only be explained on the assumption that the ages of philosophic thought which, in Greece, preceded the advent of Christianity, were under the immediate supervision of a providence, and, in some degree, illuminated by the Spirit of God.
Greek philosophy must therefore have fulfilled a propaedeutic office for Christianity. "As it had been intrusted to the Hebrews to preserve and transmit the heaven-derived element of the Monotheistic religion, so it was ordained that, among the Greeks, all seeds of human culture should unfold themselves in beautiful harmony, and then Christianity, taking up the opposition between the divine and human, was to unite both in one, and show how it was necessary that both should co-operate to prepare for the appearance of itself and the unfolding of what it contains." During the period of Greek philosophy which preceded the coming of Christ, human reason, unfolding itself from beneath, had aspired after that knowledge of divine things which is from above. It had felt within itself the deep-seated consciousness of God—the sporadic revelation of Him "who is not far from any one of us"—the immanent thought of that Being "in whom we live and move and are," and it had striven by analysis and definition to attain a more distinct and logical apprehension. The heart of man had been stirred with "the feeling after God"—the longing for a clearer sense of the divine, and had struggled to attain, by abstraction or by ecstasy, a more immediate communion with God. Man had been conscious of an imperative obligation to conform to the will of the great Supreme, and he sought to interpret more clearly the utterances of conscience as to what duty was. He had felt the sense of sin and guilt, and had endeavored to appease his conscience by expiatory offerings, and to deliver himself from the power of sin by intellectual culture and moral discipline. And surely no one, at all familiar with the history of that interesting epoch in the development of humanity, will have the hardihood to assert that no steps were taken in the right direction, and no progress made towards the distant goal of human desire and hope. The language, the philosophy, the ideals of moral beauty and excellence, the noble lives and nobler utterances of the men who stand forth in history as the representatives of Greek civilization, all attest that their noble aspiration and effort did not end in ignominious failure and utter defeat. It is true they fell greatly beneath the realization of even their own moral ideals, and they became painfully conscious of their moral weakness, as men do even in Christian times. They learned that, neither by intellectual abstraction, nor by ecstasy of feeling, could they lift themselves to a living, conscious fellowship with God. The sense of guilt was unrelieved by expiations, penances, and prayers. And whilst some cultivated a proud indifference, a Stoical apathy, and others sank down to Epicurean ease and pleasure, there was a noble few who longed and hoped with increasing ardor for a living Redeemer, a personal Mediator, who should "stand between God and man and lay his hand on both." Christ became in some dim consciousness "the Desire of Nations," and the Moral Law became even to the Greek as well as the Jew "a school-master to lead them to Him."