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No evidence is needed to prove the general interes man takes in whatever concerns the past ages of the world; an interest common to every period, claiming the title of civilized. The vast labours of the learned, displayed in many profound historical researches, in antiquarian pursuits, in critical questions on philosophy and literature, which appear unimportant, if not frivolous, to the common understanding, as well as the homage which has always been paid to classical learning, and to those noble languages in which it is recorded, all tend to shew the interest and curiosity excited by the concerns of antiquity. The same interest and curiosity which urge some to devote their time and talents to the great and exciting field of History, in which, after all, we find little more than the meagre details of unjust wars, political strife, internal broils, intrigues of men for power, reckless ambition, or the endless conflict of passion, dispose different minds to the quieter field of Philosophy and Literature. In the latter, there is a more permanent interest; because, while the actions of men cease to have any influence over their
distant posterity, their systems of philosophy, their literature, their modes of thought, may still exercise an extended influence over the minds of men, in their opinions, their tastes, and habits of thought. The conquests of Alexander of Macedon are still read with avidity; the conflicts of the Greek republics still maintain their interest; but as to any permanent influence over the human mind, they have none; the former only awakening in the puerile heart latent feelings of ambition, while the latter seems only useful as a beacon to some men, by which to warn us against the horrors of democracy. But no one can deny, that the philosophy of ancient times, as well as their literature, have a remarkable power over the thoughts and opinions of men. And while this power exists, man will always desire to know something of the original fountain, whose immortal waters impregnate the streams of human thought and speculation. Moreover, there is a kind of romance of life in the affairs of the ancient world, charming our minds the nearer we approach the realms of doubt and conjecture; affording such a field of speculation as the curious mind delights in: for if all past were as intimately known to us as things present, the charm would cease, our curiosity would fade away, our interest would die; while the artificial estimation in which we are pleased to hold men's sayings and doings in antiquity, would fall to the low standard by which we value, perhaps more truly, the events of modern times, and the labours of men.
This peculiar interest we have in the history of man, and in all his works in ages long past, makes any contrast between the moral precepts of antiquity-efforts of natural reason—and the system taught in the pages of Christian truth-the work of Divinity-a task both pleasing