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so many exemplifications of the vanity of human wisdom *.

Epicurus is more bold and impious in his tenets, but not less absurd. Rejecting with contempt the creative, or rather forming, power, which some philosophers ascribed to the godst, he frames a finite, corporeal, and contradictory divinity, which, according to the varying fancy of its creator, was cloathed with different forms and invested with different attributes. It was occasionally arrayed in human shape, because, in that shape only, as it was pretended, a proper sensorium for the divine nature could be foundt. At other times, it was fancied to consist of a totality of worlds, all of which were perpetually in a state of renovation, or decay; and, in wilder moods, it was placed in that infinity of indivisible corpuscles, which, though utterly devoid of intelligence, and influenced by no intelligent cause, have formed, by a fortuitous felicity of movement, the beautiful and magnificent structure of the universel.

vol. 1. p.

• The Stoic, in Cicero, repeats these syllogisms with great confidence, and seems to think them irresistible. See Appendix, note E. † De Nat. Deor. lib. i. $9, &c. Cudworth, Intellectual System,

60. Aperta simplexque mens, nulla re adjuncta, conciliique participens, fugere intelligentiæ nostræ vim. De Nat. Deor. lib.i. $2. The Epicurean, elsewhere, endeavours, to refine the materiality of his god, into something approaching spirit; and he talks very unintelligibly of its consisting-non corporis, sed quasi corporis, non sanguinis, sed quasi sanguinis - The sophistry was worthy of the school.

| Cotta, in the masterly treatise of Cicero, alludes to the extravagant doctrines of Epicarus-Sed ubi est veritas ? In mundis invumernbilibus, omnibus minimis temporum punctis, aliis nascen


This deity, whatever he be, is yet said to be supremely blessed, and capable neither of suffering nor inflicting pain. Of the felicity which is thus conferred, we possess a full and explicit description. Though moral attributes be essential to happiness, and action be essential to moral attributes, the divinity of Epicurus possesses neither the attribute nor the activity. He is no longer the corpuscular deity, the deity cloathed in the form of man, or the deity constituted of aggregated worlds, but a nameless power, which, scorning to inhabit the dwelling of visible nature, resides in certain imaginary regions, in the depths of space, where the clear and cloudless ether is brightened by the beams of eternal sunshine*. There, operating no good, exercising no faculty, demonstrating no glory, he enjoys the boasted beatitude of perpetual rest, a languid, unvaried, and dead repose. To preside over the order of nature ; to preserve, regulate, and govern, the world; to effuse the blessings of a guiding and beneficent Providence; or to listen to the supplications of human infirmity and want, would be utterly incompatible with this serene and celestial tranquillity, and would supersede the felicities of slumber by the toils of agency. Why, indeed, it is asked, should the deity disturb himself with the affairs of the universe? What does it concern him whether

tibus, aliis cadentibus? An irrindividuis corpusculis, tam præclara
opera, nulla moderante natura, nulla ratione, fingentibus. De Nat.
Deor. lib. 1. $ 24.
Quas neque

concutiunt venti, neque nubila nimbis
Adspergunt, neque nix aeri concreta pruina,
Cana cadens violat, semperque innubilus Other
Integit, et largo diffuso lumine ridet.

Lucret. lib. üi, 19.

the world exist or perish? And, if he be supremely happy in his own nature, what motive can exist to induce him to substitute, for a secure and unimpassioned blessedness, the cares and labours of

providential interposition".

From impieties and contradictions thus gross or absurd, we turn to the philosophical reveries of the academy.

The master of that learned but sceptical school, though he was frequently little more than a metaphysical poet, or a poetical metaphysician, who was ardent to decorate truth with the trappings of fancy, has often promulgated tenets on the subject of Deity, which are, indisputably, noble and sublime. But, if he occasionally surpassed all his cotemporaries in the dignity and purity of his principles, he was occasionally to equal them in inconsistency and error. While his eloquence expatiated on the perfection and glory of the divine attributes, he was a polytheist who delighted in a pantheon of his own creation; and he not only rejected the atheism of the creed of Anaxagoras, who denied the divine nature of the celestial bodies, but frequently and seriously affirmed the divinity of the stars, and recommended them, like other gods, to the faith and worship of the peoplet.

Yet numerous as is the host of his deities, he assigns the government of the world, not to their

power and wisdom, but to the agency and skill of a plastic soul which he diffuses through the universe. In

The felicity said to be enjoyed by the deity of Epicurus, is properly estimated by the stoic, in the Treatise of Cicero. De Nat. Deor. lib. 1. $ 40. The whole passage is eminently beautiful.

• Plato, de Leg. lib. x.

explaining the manner in which this mighty power operates upon matter, the speculative philosopher degenerates into the adventurous rhapsodist. The being of which he speaks, is alternately spiritual and material. In one page it is represented as a vital and quickening energy, ruling without the instrumentality of a material form ; in another, it is a brazen or fiery body, by the propulsion of which the sun and stars are moved and governed ; and, whether it be a vital energy, or a fiery body, it intimately unites itself with all material existence, penetrates and blends with the least and mightiest masses, and excites and regulates, with omnipotent wisdom, the powers and movements of universal nature.

This, however, is not the supreme divinity of Plato. The philosopher asserts a deity of incomparably an higher nature, and of the most pure and perfect unity. Of this unity every tenet is involved in darkness. It is said to be so utterly unmixed, as to include neither intellect nor intelligence, because these imply multiplicity, and, consequently, diversity of qualities, by which the unity would be impaired. Nothing, therefore, is to be predicated of the mysterious Being, to whom this transcendant simplicity is ascribed. He has no qualities; he is engaged in no operations; and he is to be considered as utterly devoid even of the attributes essential to the exercise of that “goodness,” of which he is supposed to be the essence, the beginning, and the end.

He is the eldest and the most perfect deity. The vital energy, or the fiery body, is, according to the master of the academy, far less antient and divine. The qualities or perfections, however, which were considered as utterly inconsistent with the essential and absolute unity of the first, have been prodigally lavished on the inferior divinity; and, while the one was to remain idle and vacant from all the operations which we would humbly ascribe to a supremely good and powerful Being; the other was to be the great demiurgical god, the pervader of the earth and the heavens, and the undisputed ruler of that universe which was formed and embellished by his power and his wisdom *.

Consistently with the principle on which the academy was founded, these opinions were proposed with the most sceptical reserve. Wild, chimerical, and mysterious, they were less recommended by the authority, than disparaged by the hesitation, of the master spirit from which they issued. To the philosopher they brought no knowledge, to the multitude they offered no edification. They neither retarded the progress of error, nor accelerated the diffusion of truth; and faith and motive could derive neither strength, nor confidence, nor dignity, from a system which might justly be described as composed of clouds and founded on shadows, as a mass of fancies, eluding, by its mysteriousness and incongruity, not merely the comprehension of the ignorant, but the reason of the wise,

The theologists who have been here reviewed, satisfied, says Cicero, with the approbation of a few judges, proudly, or prudently, averted themselves from the “profane vulgar;” but it is admitted also, that the “ profane vulgar” reprobated and detested the doctrines and impieties of the theologists f. It is not difficult to determine which

• Appendix, Note F. + Et philosophia paucis contenta judicibus, inultitudinem consulto fugiens, eique ipsi suspecta et invisa ; ut vel si quis universam velit vituperare, secundo id populo facere possit. Cicero. Tuscul. Quæst. lib. i. Ņ 1. lib. xiv. ♡ 12.

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