« AnteriorContinuar »
mortalium judicio”! est illius nomen, “cujus prope invicto calamo invictorum res gestæ conscriberentur. Sed illa dies veniet (et monet me nescio quid lætius de doctrinæ fato augurium) cum, depulsis oblivionis tenebris, e Pompeiorum et Herculanei ruderibus (ut sol, umbris nocturnis cedentibus) matutino quasi fulgore relucebunt renascentes Literæ ! Io Diodoro non solum illam feliciorem dicendi suavitatem desideramus, sed præceptis variarum artium abundantem, luminibus distinctam sententiarum, elegantiam. Singula in re commoratio, quæ plurimum movet, plurimum docet; exquisita locorum descriptione commendata varietas; rerum naturalium vis virtusque penitus perspecta; hæc omnia adeo in desiderationem cadunt, ut humaniores videantur literæ suam suavissimam lucem amisisse, historiæque rerum pulcherrimarum nox offundi! Antiquas artes ; Antiquioris vitæ necessitudines; reipublicæ administrandæ illam sapientem, divinam rationem ; illam denique augustárum lucem virtutum, æternis tenebris obduxit oblivio.
Ad philosophos jam defluximus ; in quibus licet enumerentur plurimi, Epicurus tantum, et Tullius nostræ sufficient quæstioni; ne ingenii quasi æstus a terra nos abripiat, atque in altum a rei propositæ conspectu abstrahat. De cæteris autem melius egit dies, quæ dum opinionum commenta delet, Naturæ judicia confirmat.
Nisi in illa Alexandriana æde, illa ingeniorum "acerba omnium cinere” esset obrutum quicquid fere æterni nominis excogitaverunt viri, omuigenæ antiquorum doctrinæ, disciplinæ, omnisque ea curiosior eruditio, memori posterorum cognitione yersarentur; Epicurumque ilium abditum, reconditumque fontem Lucretiani carminis accederemus !
Neutiquam alicui vestrum, Academici, e mente excidit, quam indignior barbarorum ætas est admirata ea de Gloria disceptatio: hæc ævi tenebris tristissimo quodam fato damnata esse videatur; quippe quæ oblivionem est elapsa, oblivioni demum rediit!
Hæc nobis augusta antiquorum ingenia desiderantibus objicitur Eloquentia, illa rerum civilium arbitra; veterum oraculum civitatum. Quid ? si suavitatem Isocrates, subtilitatem Lysias, acumen Hyperides habuit, quorum virtutes ingeniumque pene delevit dies, Demosthenem tamen solum inter Græcos, inter Latinos, neminem desiderandum judico. Demosthenem ; qui non solum suorum linguam locupletavit, mirabiliter auxit, magnifice ornavit; sed omnium rerum, quæ ad dicendum perti
• Epitaph. illud in Monasterio Sanctæ Justina ; olim Junonis Templo.
nerent, fontes animo ac memoria continuit; qui non solum in improborum vindictam inflammavit suos, non solum ad luctum, quoties voluit, misericordiamque deduxit; sed ad ultimum evexit fastigium Virtutis ; cujus quamdiu mansit imitatio, tamdiu omni floruit dignitate Atheniensium civitas. Quicquid Tullius effecit, adhuc integrum videt, integrum veneratur, recentiorum ætas.
Horum utraque civitas, casus tandem vicissitudinesque sensit rerum. Quæque totius terrarum orbis excitarant incendia; aliorum strage steterant, arma fregerant, vires debilitarant 2 suis tandem confagrarunt-ardoribus, conciderunt armis, mole, viribus.
Quotiescunque contemplemur, Academici, inter Athenarum vel Romæ ruinas, illam pristino exutam luxu Atriorum majestatem, prostratam et dirutam ante oculos Fanorum religionem quotiescunque contemplemur illam collapsam Imperii molem, in humanarum rerum mutabiles miserosque casus lachrymas profundimus, pioque luctu solvimur! Hodie autem nobis contigit illa augustiora mentis artificia, illa magis inmortalitati addicta monumenta, mortalitatis vero sortem experta, fideliori desiderio ornare!
Acrius porro in mentibus insidet dolor, cum meminerimus, quam pene integrum incorruptumque mansisset quicquid felicius sunt ausa veterum ingenia ; Arabum ' enim mandabatur monumentis quicquid elaboraverunt Plato, Euclides ille Ptolemæus, alii: sed illi in oblivionem sublapsi retro referuntur; ingeniorumque pene omnis abolevit gratia!
Anquirentibus nobis, omnique acie ingenii contemplantibus, quæ singula in re desideratissima olim floruerunt, exemplaria sese ostenderunt, illa quæ majorum consuetudines vitamque declarant ; quibus ad veritatem accedimus ; quibus utilitas paratur reipublicæ; poëtarum pertractatio; historiarum cognitio ; hæc omnia sunt fontes disputationis, quibus complevimus pectus ; quorum suavitate, copia, varietate, quantum in nobis est, orationem distinximus : inutiles forsan (et veniam dabitis, Academici) sententias possemus amputasse; feliciores inseruisse !
Desiderio autem quoddam solatium afferendum volo; ne luctuosæ quæstioni operam omnem navasse videamur. Etsi oblivione perierint egregiæ memoriæ multa monumenta; historiæque hiulcæ, et depravatæ tradantur; multaque Lyricorum, Dramaticorum privemur suavitate, meminerimus oportebit ad nostram usque ætatem inulta esse conservata, quibus primas concessit Ultima ea,
1 Sc. Demosthenis et Tullii. 2 Bellendenus,“ de Statu prisci Orbis,” cap. 15. 3 Gibbon. Hist. vol. X. p. 45. Consul. not. 56, et 57.
Antiquitas, quæque, ipsa excellentissima, veteri laude ingenii floruerunt.
sola nostræ naturæ honesta, tandem offertur consolatio; ætatem scilicet nobis servasse illa ingenii divinioris Monumenta, quæ docent agnitionem veri Dei, qui solus fons et origo est veræ virtutis, veræque (quam ignorabat cantata illa toties Antiquitas) Sapientiæ; quæ ultra angusti hujusce terminos ævi facit prospiciamus, et ad meliora tendentes erigit animos, atque accendit. Frustra igitur annorum series, frustra barbarorum furor illam immortalitate digniorem ingeniorum memoriam conata est abolere! At leviora literarum monumenta suo debentur fato. Horum in relliquiis contemplandis immorati sumus: eorum naturam, vin tractavimus. Quique in iis beatiori utilitatis ubertate, auctoritatis pondere olim floruerunt; quique ipsi (ni obducti essent oblivione rerum) hodiernis literarum studiis lumen accederent, Scriptores excerpsimus ; et ex variis ingeniis excellentissima tantum libavimus. Hi sunt quos hodie mihi demandatum fuit evolvere : juvabit evolvisse,-si eorum laudem, jam prope senescentem, ab oblivione hominum in communem notitiam vindicarem.
prising a view of the leading Arguments in favor of
No. II.-[Continued from No. LVIII.] It may here possibly be alleged, that the internal evidence in support of Christianity has surely an equal claim to our regard with the external, and that it is in a great degree derived from the nature and tendency of the doctrinal points proposed to our assent. This, I imagine, no one will hesitate to concede in its fullest latitude, and if a repeated examination of the sacred volume should lead to the discovery of any opinions, manifestly
hostile to the wisdom, power, or goodness of the First Cause, there cannot exist the shadow of a doubt, that its credibility would in exactly that proportion be shaken or diminished. There are some persons, however, whom this concession is not sufficient to satisfy. Not only do they rejoice, in common with every genuine Christian, at seeing any passage proved to be false, which is evidently inconsistent with the perfections of the Deity, but they boldly advance a step farther, and eagerly search for some plausible excuse for expunging from the sacred writings every text, in which the doctrines affirmed are in their estimation, mysterious, or superfluous. Thus, they are not contented with the doctrine of the divine Unity, which the generality of Christians agree in admitting, and which is necessarily inferred from the sameness of design observable in all the operations of the natural and the intellectual world, but they strenuously maintain the Unity of the Divine essence, of which no proof whatever is afforded by the light of nature, and question the authority of every passage in scripture at all favorable to the Trinitarian tenets of the primitive church. If we search for an explanation of this conduct, we shall find that it in great measure arises from the incompatibility of the orthodox opinion with those ideas of simplicity by which alone they are taught to regulate their faith. Thus, also, they banish from their creed the atonement of our Saviour, because they cannot reconcile it to their pre-established notions, that the conditional pardon of sin offered to the whole human race, should have been ordained to be the result of the expiatory sacrifice of the death of Christ. Upon the same principle, they utterly deny the divinity of our Lord, even in the limited acceptation adopted by Arians, because they maintain that every purpose of his mission might be effected without this supposition, and that therefore it ought to be considered as one of those superfluous doctrines deservedly classed among the corruptions of Christianity.' Let it not be forgotten,
* It is not meant to deny that the defenders of Unitarianism profess, like every other sect, to prore the truth of their dogmas by an appeal to the sacred writings; but at the same time, it is notorious that their mode of interpretation is more metaphorical, and more inconsistent with the rules of just criticism, than that of almost any other class of scismatics; and iť is not less evident that they have been led to adopt this method by their love of what they conceive to be unadulterated simplicity, and by the theoretic reasoning in which they allow themselves so much to indulge. A fondness for mystery, where none really exists, is, in my opinion, one characteristic of a weak and superstitious mind; but on the other hand,
to reject any doctrine, or to discredit awy fact, when founded
however, that this mode of reasoning, indulged to the extent it
upon substantial evidence, solely because it is mysterious and inexplicable, is not less indicative of strong prejudice, and a perverted understanding. Thus, the doctrines of the divinity of our Saviour, and the miraculous conception, are strenuously opposed by a certain sect of Christians, because they involve difficulties incapable of solution by human sagacity. But let us call to mind how many mysteries (for they can be called by no other name) we have to encounter in our enquiries on the subjects of Natural Religion, and particularly on the points connected with the nature of primary attributes of the Supreme Being. Even the great oppugner of the orthodox faith on these topics, has virtually admitted the truth of this assertion, and does not hesitate to assent to doctrines, containing difficulties at least equal to those, which on other occasions he considers to be abundantly sufficient to justify disbelief. As a striking example of this inconsistency, we have only to refer to Dr. Priestley's Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion (Vol. i. p. 7), where it is affirmed, that the creature and the Creator must necessarily have been 'coeval. “ It is impossible that we should conceive how creation should have been coeval with its maker; and yet, if we admit that there ever was a time when nothing existed, besides the Divine Being himself, we must suppose a whole eternity to have preceded any act of creation; an eternity in which the Divine Being was possessed of the power
and disposition to create and to make happy, without once exerting them; or that a reason for creating must have occurred to him after the lapse of a whole eternity, which had not occurred before ; and these seem to be greater difficulties than the other.” After reading this passage, I should wish to ask, why, if the incomprehensible nature of these tenets did uot operate in Dr. P.'s mind as a complete obstacle to his belief, that effect should be produced by the incomprehensibility of the doctrine of our Lord's divinity? It will be affirmed, perhaps, that it is not the circumstance of its being heyond our comprehension which renders the latter doctrine incredible, but its apparent contradiction to our reason. To this notion, likewise, we may find a sufficient reply in the same work, After expressing his opinion that the works of God must have been without beginning, the writer makes the following remarks :-"So little are our minds equal to these speculations, that though we all agree that an infinite duration must have preceded the present moment, and that another infinite duration must necessarily follow it; and though the former of these is continually receiving additions, which is, in our idea, the same thing as its growing continually larger; and the latter is constantly suffering as great diminutions, which, in our idea, is the same thing as its growing, continually less ; yet we are forced to acknowledge, that they both ever have been, and always must be, exactly equal ; neither of them being at any time, conceivably greater or less than the other. Nay, we cannot conceive how both these eternities added together, can be greater than either of them separately taken.".
Now, I certainly do think, that the contradictions contained in these sentiments are equal in number and magnitude to those which are alleged by the same author and his followers to exist in the scriptural doctrine of the divinity of Christ. But if it be said that the former are merely apparent contradictions arising from the imperfection of our