The Sects — The Skeptics — The Epicureans — Epicurus — Leucippus and Democritus — Aristotle Plato — Stoics Pantheism — Chrysippus — Origin of evil — Antithesis — Negation — Epictetus — The Neo-Platonists — Important six hundred years — Course of history — Reflection at last — Aufklärang Revolution — Rome — The atom the Cæsar — The despair of the old the hope of the new — Paganism Christianity — The State — The temple — Asceticism — Philosophy the East Alexandria — The Neo-Platonists — Ecstasy — Cicero — Paley and the others all in him — All probably due to Aristotle — Sextus — Philo Judaeus — Minucius Felix — Cicero now as to Dr. Alexander Thomson and the Germans — A word in defence.
Gifford Lecture the Ninth.
WHAT for philosophical consideration follows Aristotle are what are called the Sects—the Stoics the Epicureans and the Skeptics. Our subject however relates only to the proofs for the existence of God; and we shall have to do with the Sects consequently only so far as they have any bearing on those proofs: it is not the history of philosophy that we are engaged on. Now in regard to that bearing the very name of the Sect may here in a case or two be determinative and decisive. Of them all in fact it is only among the doctrines of the Stoics that we shall find anything that bears on our business. The Skeptics for example knew nothing—neither a καλόν nor an αἰσχρόν neither a δίκαιον nor an ἄδικον neither a good nor a bad neither a right nor a wrong. They knew not at all that this is more than it is that; that anything in truth is; that in fact anything is any more than that it is not. Their standpoint was ϵ̓ποχή: they would not speak; or it was ἀκαταληψία and they did not understand; or it was ἀταραξία and they would not be troubled. It is in vain to seek for any argument on their part in reference to the existence of the Godhead. The very best and most advanced of them admitted in regard to anything only a more or less of perhaps.
Nor with the Epicureans are we one whit better placed. They believe in no reality but that of the body: they have no test for that reality but touch or sight or hearing—the ear or the eye or the fingers; and the transcendent object we would prove is within the reach of no sense. As it is written: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard.” In fact Epicurus directly tells us that we are not to believe in design but only in the movements proper of mere nature. We are not to suppose he says; the order of the universe to result from the ministration or regulation of any blessed god but that to the original consequences of the whirlings together at the birth of the world are due the necessary courses of movement (Diog. L. 24 76). In short in all such matters we are to see only a physical operation (ib. 78). Why Epicurus will have all from natural causes and not from any influence of beings supernatural is that belief in the latter would be the occasion of fear. Very evidently Epicurus has been an exceedingly sensitive person. For him the best thing from within is calm enjoyment and the worst thing from without fear. All is useless and superfluous that does not promote the one and prevent the other. So it is that it is quite idle to have knowledge as knowledge of astronomical phenomena say since those who have it are not led thereby to happiness; but on the contrary have rather more fears; for such is the effect of belief in the action of superterrestrial powers. But all accounts of such powers are only fables. Undisturbed assurance—that is the only end (ib. 85). “Our life” he says “has need not of ideology and empty opinion but of untroubled tranquillity” (ib. 87). “As for the size of the sun and the stars it is as regards us just such as it seems” (ib. 91). “With contradiction of our senses there can never be true tranquillity” (ib. 96). “If no meteorological apprehensions and none about death disturbed us we should have no need of physiology” (ib. 142). But “death is nothing to us for what is dissolved feels not and what is not felt is for us nothing” (ib. 139). These notices will be sufficient to show the absolutely materialistic nature of Epicureanism and how it rejected everything like teleological agency or explanation and referred all to the mechanical movements of mere corporeal particles. In short what we have from Epicurus is but a repetition of the atoms of Democritus and Leucippus of whom Aristotle (d. G. A. v. 18) said that “they rejected design and referred all to necessity.” It seems to be they also whom Plato (Soph. 246 A and Theaet 155 E) has in his eye when he speaks of “those who pull all things down to earth from heaven and the unseen stubbornly maintaining with their insensate fingers on rocks and oak trees that only what they touch is and that body and being are the same thing while of things that are incorporeal they will not hear a word.” Neither Skeptics nor Epicureans then are here anything for us.
The religion of the Stoics so far as they had a religion consisted probably on the whole in a sort of clumsy and crude material pantheism. Nevertheless unlike both Skeptics and Epicureans they did point to the nature of this universe—its contingency and design—as demonstrative of its origin in a divine and intelligent causality. This causality is to them a conscious God creative of the world through his own will but according to the necessity of law in beauty and in order ever—and as much as that in its terms at least must be confessed to be theistic rather than pantheistic. The argument of Socrates is put by them: Can we fancy that there is consciousness in us—the parts only—and not also and much more in the All from which we come. Aulus Gellius (vii. 1) testifies to the cogency with which the celebrated Stoic Chrysippus redargued the reasonings in denial of a Providence because of the evils in the world—the reasonings namely that if Providence were evil were not; but evil is therefore Providence is not. “Nothing can be more absurd” says Chrysippus “than to suppose that there could be good if there were not evil. Without correspondent and opposing contrary contrary at all there could be none. How could there be a sense of justice unless there were a sense of injustice? How possibly understand bravery unless from the opposition of cowardice? or temperance unless from that of intemperance? prudence from imprudence etc.? Men might as well require” he cries “that there should be truth and not falsehood. There are together in a single relation good and evil happiness and unhappiness pleasure and pain. They are bound together the one to the other as Plato says with opposing heads; if you take the one you withdraw both (si tuleris unum abstuleris utrumque).” On similar grounds Chrysippus vindicates or explains the fact of man suffering from disease. That is not something he would seem to say ordered express and on its own account. It is only there κατὰ παρακολούθησιν as it were by way of sequela and secondary consequence. The greater intrinsic good is necessarily attended by the lesser extrinsic evil. If you make the bones of the head delicate and fine for the business of thought within you only expose it the more to blows and injuries from without. “In the same way diseases also and sicknesses enter while it is for health that the provision is made. And so by Hercules while by the counsel of nature there springs in men virtue faults at the very same moment by a contrary affinity are born.” In this way the Stoics have put hand on a most important and cardinal truth—this truth namely that discernibleness involves negation. We should not know what warmth is were there no cold; nor light were there not twin with it darkness. Everything that is is what it is as much by what it is not as by what it is. The chair is not a table; the table is not a chair. Negation nevertheless is no infringement on affirmation: evil may be without prejudice to the perfection of the world. Evil in the creation of the universe was not the design: it is but the necessary shadow of the good as the dark of light. “Just as little” says Epictetus (Enchirid. c. 27) “as there is a target set up not to be hit is there in the world a nature of the bad”—an independent bad. “In partial natures and partial movements stops and hindrances there may be many but in the relation of the wholes none” (Plut. ref. St. 35).
The Neo-Platonists belong to a much later period than the principal Stoics; but being Greek we may refer to them here—not that we can illustrate the arguments for the existence of God technically from their writings or at all further from them themselves than by their devotion to God a devotion which manifested itself in the form of what has been named ecstasy. This phase of humanity however or of philosophy is to be better understood by reference to the historical period at which it appeared.
From the death of Aristotle in 322 B.C. to the conversion of Constantine or say to the date more memorial as a date of the Council of Nice in 325 A.D. there is an interval of some six hundred and more years. Now these six hundred years belong to that period in the history of the world when it is probable that a greater number of civilised men were intellectually interested occupied and active than ever before or since. The cause of this was so far politics without and religion within.
The general course in the common life of mankind seems to be this: men are at first hunters passing gradually perhaps into nomads; and intellect can assert itself for many many years only in wild warfare crude art superstition rather than religion and a dawning literature that is for the most part exclamation or song. By and by the wanderers settle themselves and take to agriculture. Agriculture necessitates dwelling-places and implements—quite an assemblage of coverings and shelters of goods and chattels. This assemblage necessitates the artizan to make them and mend them; and the artizan to be paid and to buy necessitates exchange. Then exchange itself necessitates or in fact is trade; while trade again necessitates the town. Now in this settled life what men are to become the leaders? Not any longer as was formerly the case necessarily the young the strong and the bold. What is required now is so to speak counsel advice direction in practical conduct; and counsel advice direction—direction in practical conduct—belongs to him who is tempered chastened matured by experience; enlarged enlightened and enriched made wise by actually living life's many and multiform eventualitics. The calm hearts and grey heads are now the guides and this their guidance naturally in expression takes the form of proverbs. Practical sagacity is the crown of life. But the faculty thus brought into action is the intellect. Insight into results and the means of results the causes of results is now the life of the matured brain. Every event is canvassed every proposal is canvassed with all that appertains to it in the new light that now is ever spreading and ever clearing around them. But in the midst of all this science is seen to have taken birth and to grow. Step by step man learns to harness to his own ends the very powers that were his fears; and step by step he becomes presumptuous contemptuous. What he feared is weak he finds; and he that feared is now strong. There are cobwebs all round about him from that old past; he laughs as he thinks of them and will scatter them to the winds. Betimes it is an age of scepticism; and bit by bit politically socially religiously the whole furniture of humanity is drawn into examination and doubt. And the more they examine and ever the more they doubt the more their rebellion at the old grows. Not a man but issues from his old wont as from a bondage and darkness in which he has been wronged. He is bitter as he thinks of what is and of what was. They are all bitter as they think of what is and of what was. They are in their Aufklärung and their Revolution must come—has come. They rush with a cry from their corners; and all together like a flood they lay flat the walls and the roof that had sheltered and saved them. For a time all is joy happiness delight action in the new light and the fresh air. But presently the mood is changed and they wander disconsolate amid the ruins. They have nothing now to come to them and lift them into a life that is common; they have nothing to believe in. They are together; but they are single each man by himself. Had they been scattered down from a pepper-box they could not be more disjunct.
This is the condition of the Sects and of the atoms around them; for we are still in the ancient world—the ancient world at its close. Everywhere at that time there was the reality of political social religious revolution if not the madness and violence if not the blood with which it has been convulsed and disfigured into hideousness and horror here in Europe within a century. And what generally over the known world saved them from as much as that then was the shadow of a vast vulture in the air that had not even yet filled its all-devouring maw and that making their hearts beat suddenly darkened and terrified them into the silence and stillness of an awaited doom. That vulture was Rome. Her prey was helpless and she had but to seize. Any and everywhere she could stoop; and any and everywhere she could seize. The entire world within all its bounds was her booty. And with this her booty at her feet the insatiable maw was at length glutted but not even so the fierce heart stilled. Even so the fierce heart could not be stilled. The one vulture became a crowd of vultures. Each in the fierceness of its own heart—each in its own pain turned and tore at the other; and it was a distracted universe in fight until at length and finally utterly worn out exhausted to the dregs they sank in apathy at the feet of one a single one of themselves who all too soon drunk with solitude—the solitude of power and of place—reeled into the imbecility and delirium of the irresponsible abstract absolute self that knows not what to do with itself nor any more what not to do—the realized Cæsar!
What I endeavour to picture thus in these brief terms is the condition of the whole world during the greater part of the six hundred years which I have signalized.
The fall of the old world which was at once political religious and philosophical was characterized by a universal atomism. Politically the individual as an atom found himself alone without a country hardly with a home. Religiously the individual as an atom has lost his God; he looks up into an empty heaven; his heart is broken and he is hopeless helpless hapless in despair. Philosophically all is contradiction; there is no longer any knowledge he can trust. What this world is he knows not at all. He knows not at all what he himself is. Of what he is here for of what it is all about he is in the profoundest doubt despondency and darkness. Politically religiously and philosophically thus empty and alone it is only of himself that the individual can think; it is only for himself that the individual must care. There is not a single need left him now—he has not a single thought in his heart—but ϵὐ̑ πράττϵιν his own welfare. How he can best take care of himself provide for his own comfort or as the word was then and in like circumstances still is secure his own tranquillity—effect it that that his tranquillity shall be undisturbed—this now is the sole consideration. He becomes an Epicurean and lives to sense. He lets his beard grow and as a Stoic is a king in rags. Or he is the jeering Skeptic and laughs at both at the same time that his own heart is but a piece of white ash. As one sees it is an age of what is called particularism subjectivity. Nothing is real now but what is particular and particular for the particular subject. Universal there is none. A universal is logical a thing of the intellect; and things of the intellect are no longer anything to anybody. A universal there is none; in that sense—in the philosophical sense of permanent guiding and abiding principle object there is none. That is there is no longer any common object for all men certainly to know for all men certainly to believe in for all men certainly to strive to. This that is now before us is about the most important lesson that philosophy can bring to us—the lesson that lies in the antithesis of universal and particular of objectivity and subjectivity—a lesson that will be found more or less fully suggested but only suggested in the Note on the Sophists in the English Schwegler. It is such a time as what is now before us that best illustrates this lesson—a time when the old and the new are to be seen in the deadliest grips of internecine battle. The phoenix is being burned; the phoenix is being born. To the dying spasms of paganism the birth throes of Christianity oppose themselves; and the hope of the new cannot but exasperate the despair of the old. There is in fact so far as the prevailing externality is concerned but a heaving welter of misery everywhere. The State has perished; and its organic cells its magistracies namely and other offices are dens and holes mainly for fox or wolf for snake or worm. The gods have fled; and in their temples there is only an empty echo of departing footfalls. The world is struck asunder and disintegrated into a mere infinitude of disjunct selves—selves that must in the wildest orgies rage or in the most prostrate asceticism crouch. The West in this its utter bankruptcy—religious social political—if it looked around for help could only look to the East. There at least there were still tales of religious communication religious acceptance religious grace. The darkening mundane of the West would turn to what gleam there was of a still shining supra-mundane in the East. If philosophy that had still words for the individual was dumb in regard to all that was universal theosophy still spoke. And Alexander too had flung down the barriers that on this side and on that had excluded union. He had as it were built a bridge between them; he had founded a city and given it his name—a city that as common to orient and to occident became for both the centre of a new life. Here in Alexandria it was that occidentals on the one hand were orientalized into a theosophizing philosophy; and orientals on the other hand were occidentalized into a philosophizing theosophy. The conditioning elements Eastern were Indian Persian but especially Jewish; while Western they were the doctrines of Plato Aristotle and perhaps above all Pythagoras; and as the one tendency led to the Gnostics so we can say that the other terminated in the Neo-Platonists. And beside both there were the so-called Egyptian Therapeutae who under Parsee Buddhist Pythagorean influences largely drew probably as well from the ascetic mysticism and cabbalistic doctrines of the Jewish Essenes. If Rome had been a colluvies of outcast and fugitive particulars surely Alexandria was a conflux from the very ends of the earth of streaming universals.
As regards the Neo-Platonists then with whom we are more particularly interested we can see how much they are conditioned by the historical influences that precede and surround their rise. They too like the Skeptics the Epicureans and the Stoics would save the individual from the misery and unhappiness of the centreless dispersed and mutually self-repellent life that alone now is. But this they would effect by ecstasy. We are miserable one may conceive them to feel we are wretched we are lost in this world which has nowhere a refuge for us which has nowhere a rest for our very feet. What signifies the indifference of the Stoic who would conceal the serpent that still gnaws beneath his rags? What signifies the complacency of the Epicurean whose aching void within no sensuality can fill? What signifies the jeer that covers the white ash of the Skeptic? Security so salvation so there is none for us. This wild soul of ours that would know all this wild heart of ours that would have and hold all—ah! we would leap to God; only with Him on His bosom in absorption into His essence can there be satisfaction consummation peace for us! This is the sort of rationale of the ecstasy by and in which Plotinus and the other Neo-Platonists would obtain entrance to the very presence of God—communion as it were with His very being. In them too we see the same loneliness the same atomism as in all the rest. They too have turned themselves away from the world. They are without any longer a nationality. Native country they have any longer none. Almost any longer they are without a home—without family children wife. All that remains to them still human though they say themselves they are ashamed of their very bodies and would gladly part with them is the amiable vanity that meekly suffers—these disciples who will come to them!
Leaving the Greeks for the Romans now it is Cicero that will interest us most in regard to the arguments for the existence of the Godhead. It is impossible for us here to do any justice to the length of treatment which Cicero in his de Natum Deorum bestows in particular for example on the argument from design; he returns to it there a score of times and it reappears again and again in his other philosophical works. In fact it would almost seem as though even a Paley had but few supports to add to those already supplied by Cicero and as though what the former had mainly to do was simply to elaborate the latter. Cicero follows design from the heavens to the earth and to the creatures of earth; and Paley does no more. The sun how it fills the world with its larga luce its large light! Should we for the first time suddenly see the light what a species caeli what a presence the heavens would be for us! It is only the custom of our eyes that stifles inquiry into the wonder of such things. But that any one should persuade himself that this most beautiful and magnificent world has been produced by a fortuitous concourse of atoms! As well might innumerable scattered alphabets thrown down take shape before our eyes as the annals of Ennius. Who would call him a man who seeing the assured movements of the heavens the marshalled ranks of the stars the harmony of all things mutually apt should yet deny that he saw reason in them and assign to chance the regulations of so great a wisdom and a wisdom so impossible to be reached by any wisdom of ours? He himself certainly is without a mind who regards all that as without the guidance of a mind—all that which could not only not be made without reason but which cannot possibly be understood without the highest reason. From things celestial Cicero passes to things terrestrial and asks what is there in these in which the reflection of an intelligent nature does not appear? There are the plants with their roots their rinds their tendrils etc. There is the infinite variety of animals with their hides fleeces bristles scales feathers horns wings and what not. All of them have their food provided for them; and Cicero refers to the admirable manner in which their frames are adapted for the seizure and utilization of their food. All within them is so skilfully created and so subtly placed that there is nothing superfluous nothing that is not necessary for the conservation of life. The progression of animals the adaptation of their construction to their habits of life their means of defence beak tooth tusk claw etc.; the trunk of the elephant the cunning and artifices of various animals as of spiders certain shell-fish certain sea birds cranes crocodiles serpents frogs kites crows etc. etc.—I only name these things to suggest how much what we have been accustomed to read in Paley and the Bridgewater Treatises is largely or for the most part almost universally indeed already represented in Cicero. Even the calculated contrivances found within the animal in its anatomical and physiological system are gone into by Cicero at very considerable length and in particular detail. In short the second book of the de Natura Deorum of Cicero may itself be regarded as in preliminary sketch or previous outline already a sort of Paley's Natural Theology or Bridgewater Treatise. In so early a work that would base itself on natural science blunders of course there must be; and they are there for the enemy to make his own use of them; nevertheless I will venture to say that whoever reads this book impartially and without prepossession will find himself under a necessity willingingly and generously to express his admiration and surprise. In fact from various accidental vestiges it may even be that a suspicion will grow that here too in the main it is still Aristotle that we have before us. The de Mundo wholly apart it is quite possible that in his lost work or works de Philosophia Aristotle really did include such embryo Natural Theology that acted as suggestive exemplar to Cicero. It does seem that there are some slight hints to that effect in the references to or the actual quotations from Aristotle which are to be found in other writers.
In Cicero for example there occur not once or twice but several times eloquent passages that lay stress on the analogy between this furnished and inhabited universe and a furnished and inhabited house or an adorned and decorated temple of the gods. “As” he says (second book chap. 5) “any one coming into a house or school or forum and seeing the design discipline method of all things cannot judge them to be without a cause but perceives at once that there must be some one who presides over it and whom it obeys; so much more in such vast motions and such vast revolutions orders of so many and so great things in which immense and infinite time has found no falsity he must conclude that such mighty movements of nature are governed by a mind.” In the next chapter he says again “If you should see a large and fine house you cannot be brought to believe even if you should see no master that it was built for mice and weasels.” Twice afterwards also in the same work there is allusion to this comparison of the world to a fine house built for a master and not for mice.
Now there actually are some signs in existence to suggest that it was Aristotle who was the original of this illustration and even of its extension generally. Cicero himself for example in the thirteenth chapter of his second book de Finibus has this: “They did not see that as the horse is born for the race the ox for the plough the dog for the chase so man (ut ait Aristoteles) is born quasi mortalem deum as though a mortal god for two things ad intelligendum namely et agendum.” In a similar passage in the de Natura Deorum where instead of Aristotle Chrysippus is the authority the two things appear as ad mundum contemplandum et imitandum. Born for thought and action before man is now born for contemplation and imitation of the world. It is evident however that if the former words were those of Aristotle and the latter those of Chrysippus these latter have only been borrowed from those former. But Cleanthes as his master preceded Chrysippus in the Stoic school; and Cleanthes shows traces of Aristotle as the original quarry in these or similar references. Cicero for example twice over refers to a fourfold origin for the notion of Deity as—1. Presentiments or divinations natural to the mind itself; 2. Destructive movements of nature storms thunder and lightning etc.; 3. Provision and supply of all things necessary for us; 4. The constant order of the celestial phenomena—twice over as I say Cicero refers to this fourfold origin of our belief in Deity and twice over he refers it to Cleanthes. Now the inference is that Cleanthes again got this from Aristotle. There is more than one passage in Sextus Empiricus namely (see Fragmenta Heitz p. 35) in which it is directly attributed to Aristotle that he said the notion of a God arose in us from the phenomena in the heavens and the experiences of our own minds through the communications of dreams or prophetic vision just before death. There is the remarkable passage we cannot forget in regard to the feelings of a subterranean race of mortals if suddenly brought into the light of day or the beauty of the night; and again also there is in the tenth chapter of the twelfth book of the Metaphysic that comparison of the order and its Commander in the world with the discipline and general of an army followed up as it is there by a similarly constituted reference to a house with its planned and regulated household. The illustration of the army will be found carried out at full length in Sextus who figures a spectator to look down from the Trojan Ida and observe the army of the Greeks variously marshalled “the horsemen first with their horses and their chariots and behind them the infantry” as Homer is quoted to say.
Generally in this reference it is certain that Philo Judaeus did adopt the illustration of the house carrying it out too into considerable detail. Of course Philo Judaeus was born some fourscore years after Cicero and might very well have borrowed from him; but being the accomplished Grecian he was and writing in Greek it is quite probable that he took the illustration from a Greek rather than a Roman source. It is in this way he speaks: “Those before us inquired how it was we assumed the Godhead and those who were considered the best of them said that from the world and its parts from the excellences that were in these we formed an inference to the cause of the world; for as should any one see a house skilfully constructed with forecourts porticoes and all the various chambers for the various persons and purposes he would conclude to its builder—for not without art and an artist would he suppose the house to have been completed; and in the same way as regards a city or a ship or any other lesser or greater production; so now also any one coming into this vastest house or city—the world—and beholding the revolution of the heavens and the planets and the stars and the earth and then the animals and plants assuredly he would reason that these things had not been constructed without a consummate skill but that the creator of all this is God.” There are other passages also in which Philo serves himself with the same illustration. We find it repeated by others after him as in a remarkable manner by Minucius Felix.
It is now in place to say that so far we have seen but the two arguments—that known as the teleological and that other which has been named cosmological. We have still to see the rise of the third and to us concluding argument. This the ontological argument or proof unlike the others has a Christian origin in that as an invention or device it is due namely to Anselm who died Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 1109. That is more than a millennium after Cicero. But it is to be borne in mind that without any other exception than this of Anselm's already as Cicero presents it the general argumentation was complete. Paley and the Bridgewater Treatises though writing it so to speak into modern instances really added to the teleological argument—generally as an argument—nothing whatever else. That argument as it appears in the de Natura Deorum may be left on the whole as pretty well finished.
I take it we may suppose Cicero's to be good hands to leave it in. Dr. Alexander Thomson published in 1796 a translation of Suetonius; but his principal object in so doing it seems was to give him an opportunity of perorating in his own way on Roman literature in general. In the course of that peroration he has this emphatic affirmation “The most illustrious prose writer of this or any other age is M. Tullius Cicero.” But alas! even as Dr. Alexander Thomson was writing the Germans were bent on altering all that. For many years back there has come only one note from Germany as regards Cicero. The vanity and vacillation of the man together with the interminable wordiness of the writer seem to have set everybody there against him—except the philologists who will have no Latinity absolutely classical except pretty well only that of Cicero and Caesar. I could quote largely from the Germans themselves in support of what I say. But a sentence or two from Prantl whose word in consequence of his Riesenarbeit his giant labour on logic is pretty well authoritative now—a sentence or two from Prantl by way of specimen will probably suffice. Prantl indeed seems unable even to speak the name Cicero without disgust. Cicero he says can certainly Schwätzen that is jabber or jaw. Then he speaks of his “entire impotence” and “equally disgusting verbiage;” “Cicero in fact” he says again “is either so ignorant or possessed of such frivolous levity that he the boundless babbler that he is has the conceit to think that in his three books ‘De Oratore’ he has brought together the Rhetoric of Aristotle and that of Isocrates although it is notorious that in very principle there is an utter difference between the two.” In a note here also he has this: “Just generally wherever Cicero names the name of Aristotle the effrontery is revolting with which without the slightest capability of an understanding he presumes to enter a judgment either for praise or blame.” These expressions will seem so extravagant as to defeat themselves. Nevertheless the present sentence of philosophical Germany lies not obscurely at the bottom of them. I fear we must admit the vanity the vacillation the verbiage and the want of either accuracy or depth; but still one would like to say something for Cicero. As regards the Catiline conspiracy for example it was to be sure tremulously but still it was truly persistently and successfully that he broke its neck. There are a considerable number of jokes too current in his name as of the Roman Vatinius who had been consul only for a few days that his consulship had been a most remarkable one that there had neither been winter spring summer nor autumn during the whole of it; or of that other consulship which had been of only seven hours’ duration that they had then a consul so vigilant that during his whole consulship he had never seen sleep. These and other such jokes attributed to Cicero are to be found in Macrobius; and I for one cannot believe that a man with humour in him wanted like a pedant or a craven either reality in his soul or substance on his ribs. Rather I will give him credit for both sincerely thanking him as well for his three books de Natura Deorum.
The lecturer has again gratefully to acknowledge the honouring obligation of Professor Blackie's felicitous verses on occasion of the foregoing:—
Atheism and Agnosticism.
(Lines written after hearing the Gifford Lecture by Dr. Hutchison Stirling on the Theism and Theology of the StoicsCicero and the Neo-Platonists last Saturday in the University.)
All hail once more! when nonsense walks abroad
A word of sense is music to the ear
Vexed with the jar of fools who find no God
In all the starry scutcheon of the sphere
Outside their peeping view and fingering pains
And with the measure of their crude conceit
Would span the Infinite. Where such doctrine reigns
Let blind men ride blind horses through the street:
I'll none of it. Give me the good old Psalm 1
King David sang and held it deadly sin
To doubt the working of the great I AM
In Heaven above and voice of law within.
Where'er we turn from earth and sea and sky
God's glory streams to stir the seeing eye.
JOHN STUART BLACKIE.
THE SCOTSMAN Friday April 5 1889.
From the book: