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Socrates, spoke of the Divinity, and that to their disciples, when we should expect the greatest accuracy, in the plural form:-they represented the gods as the creators, preservers, and benefactors of mankind, -as seeing and hearing all things, and as being everywhere present :—and thus, I think, clearly prove, that they understood the Divine nature to be peculiar and appropriate, not to one god only, but to many gods, who in common possessed it, and to whom the titles and the characters of the Divinity belong.
Their views of the Divinity, besides, were such as could not fail to encourage, if not apparently to justify, the people in giving religious worship to a multitude of gods. Without alluding to all their erroneous opinions on this subject, there was one, which, more than any other, seemed to make idolatry a duty, and furnished the most plausible arguments in its favour,namely, that the soul of the world is God. This opinion was very general among the Heathen philosophers, and was the chief ground of the polytheism of the whole Pagan world; concluding, as they did, that because God was all things, and all things God, he ought to be worshipped in all the parts and objects of nature. The Stoics, in particular, were most strenuous supporters of this tenet, -maintaining that the mind which governs the world passeth through every part of it, as the soul doth in us; or, as the poet has expressed it,
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
In conformity with this doctrine, we find some of the Ştoics, after proving the existence and providence of God, from the beauty and order of the works that are made, gravely maintaining that the world is an animal,
-reasonable, wise, and happy, and therefore is God. On this principle, whatever parts of the universe they chose to deify, were parts of God, and therefore entitled to religious worship. They themselves also, and their fellow-creatures, were parts of the divinity, a notion which tended to produce that pride and selfsufficiency for which the Stoics were so highly distinguished. On this absurd, but, to minds darkened and vain in their imaginations most plausible, ground, did the wisest and the best philosophers of antiquity advocate the system of polytheism and idol worshipa system which is so totally at variance with what we deem the light of nature, which was composed of rites, foolish, indecent, and cruel, and which sanctioned the grossest licentiousness and immorality. wonder that an apostle should think it necessary to caution the disciples of christianity to beware lest any man should spoil them through philosophy and vain deceit?
The history of the ancient world does not furnish us with a single example of a philosopher who at
I am far from wishing to bring against the poet the charge of Spinosism and Pantheism. I have quoted his lines, because they are suscepti. ble of furnishing an illustration of the doctrine of the Anima Mundi to those who are unacquainted with it. See Note B.
tempted to turn men from the worship of images, statues, and dumb idols, to that of the living and true God. The accusation with which Socrates was charged, and which led to his condemnation and death, was not, that he dissuaded the people from worshipping the gods appointed by law, but that he himself did not esteem those to be gods which the city of Athens regarded as such, and that he introduced other new gods. It is mortifying to relate, that this great man on the day of his death, alluded to a hymn which he had composed in his prison-house to the idol Apollo. The doctrine which he and all other philosophers held, was, that all men should worship the gods of their respective countries: nor did they forget to reduce this maxim to practice, when they assumed the character of legislators, by prescribing to the people the giving of religious homage to a multitude of deities. When we remember that every man in those times who had any pretensions to letters, in all the ranks and offices of life, whether in the senate or at the bar, in the
army or upon the throne, was a disciple of one of the philosophical sects, and, consequently, the advocate for the established system of polytheism and idolatry,—that this system was interwoven with the civil constitution of every government in the world but one, and, therefore, had the power of the prince and the magistrate in its support,--that it had the aid and the influence of a priesthood that was neither unconcerned nor disinterested as to its continuance, and that the whole of mankind were its auxiliaries in the feelings of veneration for that supposed sanctity which it awakened, and in the base and potent passions for which it furs nished gratification, we may form some feeble conception of the extent of that darkness that covered the earth when our Lord appeared, and of the gross darkness that covered the people. Yet, it was against this system, advocated by philosophers, entwined around the throne of princes, authorized by the laws, enforced by the magistrate, venerable from age, captivating to the senses, and having in its favour the full flow of public opinion, that the apostles of Christ went forth, unpatronised, unprotected, with no power to shield them but that of God, with no advantages, but the endowments of the Holy Spirit, with no weapon
but eternal truth, and with no less an aim than the entire subversion of idolatry over the world, by turning men from darkness to light, and from the dominion of Satan to the service of the living and true God. Their success proves that they were in reality what they professed to be,—the servants of the Most High God, commissioned to shew unto men the way of salvation.
Section V.-The Inexcusableness of Mankind in be
coming, and in remaining, Idolaters.
This is repeatedly intimated by the Apostle Paul; and their inexcusableness is stated as the ground of their having been given up to judicial blindness and insensibility. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them; so that they are without excuse. Their inexcusableness appears from the advantages which all mankind derived from the early revelation which