« VorigeDoorgaan »
me an adversary that understands me. But, wretch that I am, after having met with such an adversary, I am now forced to contend with one that does not understand himself.
His Preface concludes thus: I thought once to have changed the order in which the quotations of the second chapter are placed.. BUT METHOD IN SUCH CASES DE
PENDING ALMOST AS MUCH UPON THE FANCY OF EVERY READER AS THE REAL PROPRIETY OF THE
THING ITSELF, I chose rather to submit them as they are, &c. p. ix. By these his frank sentiments of method, it appears he has forgot his logic too, if ever he had any, as well as his Greek, which, he tells us, he had neglected, like Lord Chief Justice Hale, by a long advocation to studies of quite another nature. p. viii. Whatever his studies were, he can scarce persuade the reader to think them like Lord Chief Justice Hale's. That learned man indeed lost his Greek, but got a great deal of good sense. Our Author too has lost his Greek. And what has he got? Marry, the knack of writing without any sense at all.
II. We come now to his first chapter, the only one that I am concerned in; and therefore the only one I shall, at present, give myself the trouble of considering. As just before he had innocently blundered out of the question; so now by entering on his attendance on the Author of The Divine Legation, he has as innocently blundered into it: And thus has set all right again.
After having frankly told the reader, that the Author of The Divine Legation had not the direct and immediate discovery of truth, and the REAL and SUBSTANTIAL improvement of mankind [i. e. the recommendation of Pagan Philosophy] in his thoughts and studies, but the advancement of a certain favourite scheme [i. e. of Revelation] he goes on to quote the apologies I make for venturing to deny a commonly received opinion. On which he thus descants: By all which, and indeed his whole manner of treating this subject, he plainly discovers such a great distrust of his arguments and conclusions to convince the judgment of his reader, that, &c. pp. 1-3. I am a very unlucky Writer. If I express myself with confidence, I am supposed to distrust other men's opinions; if with diffidence, my own.
But let him
rest himself content. I am under no manner of diffidence. Or, if I had any, his writing against me had easily removed it. However, in this I shall never recriminate. I confess, he writes all the way as much without fear as wit.
I shall (says our crafty Advocate) pass over his nice distinctions, divisions, and subdivisions. p. 3. Now this, I cannot but think hard. He had before made his exceptions to Greek, and I dare say he would think it unfair to have it urged against him after he had so fairly pleaded Ignoramus to it; yet a critical use of that language is alone sufficient to determine a decisive question in this controversy, namely, of the Spinozism of the ancient philosophers: and here he debars me all benefit of logic, and won't have patience while I state the question, and divide the subject. I shall pass over (says he) his nice distinctions, divisions, and subdivisions. So that because he knows neither Greek nor method, I shall Here then I might fairly dismiss this minute philosopher, who dares me to the combat, and yet excepts against all the weapons in use. But not to disappoint the company we have brought together, I will accept his challenge, and fight him with his own wooden dagger.
I proceed (says he) directly to take notice of those reasons which, IN MY APPREHENSION, any ways affect the present question; and these, I think, may be reduced to two. 1st, "That the philosophers held it lawful, for "the public good, to say one thing, when they thought "another, and that they actually did so. 2dly, That they held some fundamental principles of philosophy, "which were altogether inconsistent with the doctrine of future rewards and punishments." pp. 3, 4. But surely, if he will needs write against ine, his business is not only to consider what, in his apprehension, tends to the proof of my point, but likewise what in my apprehension I had said does so. For instance, in his apprehension, this argument, That the philosophers held it lawful in general to say one thing, when they thought another, and this, that they actually did so, tends to the proof of my point. And, in my apprehension, this other argument likewise, That the philosophers acted on the above principle, with regard to a future state of rewards and punishments, the very
doctrine in question, has, at least, as strong a tendency: For which reason I had employed six large pages to inforce it. But to all this my adversary has thought fit to say-Nothing.
However, if he will needs confine the strength of my discourse to those two points, I must be content, and accept the best terms he can be brought to. Nor will the reader perhaps think these bad ones. But, alas! he yet knows little of our advocate. Of a hundred arguments from reason and authority which support those two points, he has not ventured so much as at a decimation; and his attack of those few he shuffles off in so evasive a manner, as would never get him victory in the schools, (p 3.) nor hardly credit at the bar. But what would he not do, or what would he not forbear to do, for his philosophers? For if that set of modern heathens, as he gravely tells us, ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD, who being really in good carnest in the search of truth, have without prejudice considered, and have calmly, seriously, and with the utmost diligence examined into the obligation of the several religions, or sects of religion, which now prevail in the world; and after the maturest deliberation are satisfied there is nothing extraordinary or immediately divine in any of them; but that, upon the whole, all which they contain or pretend to (except what relates to our duty to God, and our obligations to morality) is merely human invention, and the product of design, of error, or of enthusiasm. pp. 201, 202. If these be so near day, in what a hopeful condition are those of the elder house, who certainly cannot be said to have rejected the Gospel; though so ready to give a diligent and dispassionate examination to any thing that would afford room for a dispute.
III. But we must take him as we find him, and be thankful. The reader will say presently we have reason. For he now proceeds to the confutation of the first point, That the philosophers held it lawful, for public good, to say one thing, when they thought another. And how does he set about it? Truly in a very new way. By PROVING it at large, from the fourth to the sixteenth
page: which, he honestly, for the second time, concludes bus: all which is, in effect, no more than what Mr. Warburton himself says. pp. 16, 17. Why, no; but he being able to say it so much better, had a mind to shew Bis parts. And now, according to his own confession, bis. the philosophers holding it lawful, for the public good, to say one thing when they thought another; and I having proved, to which proof he has not opposed a single syllable, that they practised this rule in the very point
question, the dispute is fairly at an end. This will certainly surprise our less attentive readers: but they must know, all this good-natured pains was neither for their sakes nor for mine, but for his dear philosophers. The case stood thus: when I spoke of the double doctrine, I considered the practice of it as not altogether free from Blame. Not that this representation contributed to prove it practised in the point in question, but because I thought the representation true. But But my adversary, as we see, having taken it for granted, that I had not the direct and immediate discovery of TRUTH in my thoughts and studies, had nothing left, but the first reason to assign for my representation, which affecting the credit of his masters, he will endeavour, as great an enemy as he is to divisions and distinctions, to distinguish away this opprobrium. He therefore divides the practice of the double doctrine into two sorts. The one, a little criminal: the other, quite free from blame. And to shew his judgment, in the first class he places priests and politicians, and in the second, the Chinese literati, who taught Atheism in private; and Orpheus, who against his conscience, as he says, taught Polytheism in public. pp. 7 and 12—14But the class of innocents, you may be sure, was erected chiefly for his dear philosophers, whose double doctrine he impiously compares to the practices of the ever blessed Jesus, pp. 30-39. For which I remit him to the appointed defenders of religion: who will, I hope, give him due correction for all his insults on their ignorance and their school-books.
The mighty argument then he labours with, and for the sake of which he has, before he was aware, given up the whole cause, is this: "The philosophers' practice of the
double doctrine was innocent and laudable: therefore
it could never be employed to preach up a future state "of rewards and punishments in public, and to preach it "down in private."-This, I suppose, he would have said, had he known how to express his own meaning. Let us see then what force it has upon his principles. For, as much as he contends for the propagation of truth, he is not likely to die a martyr to it; as you may hear by his talking-To disturb the public peace, to break the laws, and fruitlessly to expose ourselves to manifest danger for the sake of propagating our religion, SEEMS TO CARRY A CONTRADICTION IN ITSELF, and would need no confutation, if the mistaken principles and practice of fezo zealots did not inflame some people to think otherwise. p. 43. It is no wonder this should raise his indig nation. For had not Christ and his apostles been guilty of the very misdemeanor that, he tells us, carries a contradiction in itself (which, whatever it means in his jargon, is surely something very bad) we had never had the poor philosophers at this time of day so disgracefully pushed beside the chair. But for this, I again send him to be disciplined by the defenders aforesaid; and go on to try his argument on his own principle. The philosophers, as he confesses, used, for the public good, to say one thing when they thought another. They saw that the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments was firmly believed by the people, and of infinite service to society. But their speculative opinions led them to reject it. What was to be done? Telling what they thought the truth would be injurious, on the supposition, both to society and themselves. And (as he assures us) fruitlessly to expose one's self to manifest danger for the sake of propagating one's religion, seems to carry a contradiction in itself. Here then their principle of saying one thing when they thought another, came in practice, nothing being left, but to profess in public, and believe in private. But he will say, perhaps, that sincere impartial inquirers after truth, like his philosophers, could not, after the most careful examination, reject the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. Why not, I ask him? They might be as costive of belief, for aught he knows, as his favourite class of free-thinkers; who, with the same qualifications, reject all Revelation in general. But it ran strangely