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pressible convictions of the soul, and now, with great ingenuity and acuteness, follows out a subtle and most elaborate chain of reasoning ; but after all, he fails to prove his point. The great truth of immortality is not established ; and although to those who acknowledged the validity of the premises, the argument might for the moment seem conclusive, yet their convictions, we may be sure, would vanish almost with the closing of the volume. With us there are but one or two of the arguments that can have the slightest weight.
But further, as the philosophical teachings of the Greeks wanted consistency and coherence, so they wanted sanction. Even admitting that they had actually succeeded in attaining to the truth, who knew it? Who could vouch for it? Who could bring these speculations to bear upon the multitude, or even upon themselves, in the shape of well attested and authoritative truths ? It was at best but speculation; and although it might be correct speculation, yet, coming with no higher voucher than human reason, (or reasoning,) it utterly failed even to command the assent, much more to bind the conscience and control the conduct of the multitude. Who had rent the curtain of the future, and, having looked in upon its profound abysses, had come back to recount the scenes of his travel in the land from whose bourne no traveller returns ? Who had wrested from the unwilling grave its secrets? What eye had explored the realm of darkness? What ear had caught the echoes of the land of silence ? Over that boundless future, over that infinite unknown, hung the curtain of impenetrable mystery. All that entered there were instantly and for ever swallowed up from mortal view; and every individual of the race, were he peasant or philosopher, as he drew near its awful confines, had each for himself to plunge blindly and uncertainly into the “palpable obscure,” which revealed to his straining vision not a single well-defined object.
But again, the teachings of philosophy, even so far as they were unquestionably correct, and laid on the soul of man their undisputed obligations, finding their vindicator and voucher in every human bosom, were after all wholly inadequate to a successful conflict with the fierce passions of the human heart, and the gigantic organized vices of society. Beautiful and noble sentiments they might be, which lived in the contemplations and influenced the conduct of the thoughtful few ; but they vainly strove (if indeed they strove at all) to make any deep impression on the characters and lives of the many. They were like the coruscations of the Aurora Borealis, which glitter, but do not warm; they played over the dark charnel-house of human corruption like the lights which gleam above the sepulchre, but send no reviving ray into the bosom of death. They had in short no medicine for the deeply seated disease of humanity; no power to make man love the virtues which he hated, and hate the vices which he loved. Nor indeed was such to any considerable extent their aim. The intellect of Greek philosophy was much more capacious than its heart. It possessed little of the aggressive spirit; little disposition to make the masses of society the recipients of its blessings. The few favored spirits sat on an illumined eminence, and felt, it is to be feared, little anxiety that the light which fell on them should dissipate the darkness of the vales below. Socrates was a distinguished and noble exception. He was the missionary of Paganism; the one solitary example, we believe, furnished in all its annals, of a man avowedly and systematically devoting himself to the benefit of his fellow-creatures. Had Greek philosophy uniformly possessed his spirit, with all her defects, she would indeed have proved an inestimable blessing to mankind. But generally she was encased in a hard and cold selfishness, having little sympathy with humanity at large, and making small effort to strengthen its weaknesses and solace its woes.hu
Thus Greek philosophy was partly indifferent and partly impotent for the working of any thorough moral renovation. Survey it in the two extremes which it reached the systems of the Porch and the Garden, of Zeno and Epicurus. The former of these, the Stoic, proposed to itself a noble and exalted aim, the formation of a perfect man in the complete triumph of the rational and moral nature over all the lower appetites and passions ; in the attainment of a sublime indifference to all outward circumstances, to physical pain, to poverty, misfortune, sickness, and death. Such was the rugged system of Zeno. Virtue was the only good ; vice the only evil. All other things were simply indifferent, and their presence or absence could never affect the tranquillity of a wise man. This was a noble, but, alas! an impracticable scheme. It pointed to a proud elevation, but it opened no path by which the magnificent height was to be scaled. True, under this system many lofty traits of moral heroism might be developed; many stern and rigid virtues might be cultivated ; and a resolute denial of the animal appetites might often seem to be securing a complete spiritual triumph to the zealous votary of perfection. But, alas! Leviathan was not so tamed. That votary had no catholicon in his materia medica for healing the deep-seated disease of human nature,--for eradicating “the uneradicable taint of sin." “ That boundless upas, that all-blasting tree, ” still bore its bitter fruit, still shed around its deadly poison. He might close up this or that outlet of passion, might cut off this or that stream; but there was the fountain, unseen, mysterious, fathomless, a well of bitter waters, springing up into everlasting death.
The philosophy of the Garden, on the other hand, proposed pleasure as the chief good—the great end of human life. In so doing, it subverted the very foundations of morality, and rendered man a being to whom the law of duty was wholly inapplicable. For if moral obligation is of any force whatever, its authority is paramount, and the right must always take precedence of the expedient. But the disciple of Epicurus pursued the right only because it was expedient, and could never in his conflict with vice rise above considerations of mere utility. Here then was a philosophy which led its votaries along an easy and flowery path—but toward no noble end. It was a scheme perfectly practicable, for it released its votary from every obligation of toilsome and self-sacrificing endeavor, and threw the shield of its sanction over every course to which his capricious inclinations might impel him. The disciple of Zeno saw a sublime eminence which he longed and strove zealously to attain. But it was in the clouds; and between it and him was a great gulf fixed which he could not pass. The disciple of Epicurus saw an easy and enchanting path stretching out before him, but it led but too often to the bowers of indolence, to the lazar-house of disease, to the abysses of corruption, wretchedness, and death.*
Even the slight sketch which we have given shows that the Grecian philosophy was unable to solve the great problem of man's spiritual relations and destinies; and while partly by its direct teachings, and still more perhaps by the general spirit of inquiry which it awakened, it tended
powerfully to subvert the reigning superstitions, it could furnish no solid basis for a new and better system. Its natural result therefore was skepticism,-a disposition to mock and scoff at all religion, as suited only to the infancy of society, or to the wants of the unreflecting and ignorant multitude. This spirit had reached its acme about the time of our Saviour, a time when gray-haired, doting superstition, solemn hypocrisy, and mocking unbelief formed a strange and incongruous
* See Blackwood's Magazine, June, 1834, in a note to The Cesars," which suggests the above contrast between the Stoic and the Epicurean philosophy.
jumble, and produced a state of society, which, as delineated on the pages of Lucian, the Voltaire of Paganism, shows into how mournful a wreck had fallen the once splendid structure of Grecian civilization.
We have run rapidly and cursorily over a subject whose full development would require volumes, rather than a single essay. But we have said enough to show the impotence of Heathenism, in all its elements, for any effective moral elevation of the race. What could it effect? With a religion whose “ gods were such as lust makes welcome," and whose rites at best consisted of little else than empty forms, and often degenerated into an indulgence in foul and loathsome vices; with a code of morals that tolerated and often approved pride, ambition, lust, and revenge; and finally, with a philosophy which, though it might loosen the foundations of ancient belief, could lay no broad and solid ones of its own on which to build anew the structure of religious faith and moral virtue ; which, though it might expose and explode many popular superstitions, either furnished for them no substitute, or substituted doctrines often equally false and scarcely less pernicious; which was thus powerful to generate skepticism, but could construct no system of consistent and intelligent belief,—what with all this could it effect for human regeneration? How could it release men from the slavery of passion? How could it cleanse away the defilement of sin? How could it lift from the conscience its heavy burden of guilt? What bright hopes could it hold out to depraved, degraded, perishing humanity, of reascending to that bright eminence of purity, freedom, and bliss, from which it had a vague conception of having fallen, and to which its noblest instincts still pointed ?
It was our intention to set forth some of the leading principles which Paul brought to the conflict with this great system of evil, but we have already transcended our limits. We had proposed to analyze that master-piece of sacred eloquence, the address of Paul before the court of the Areopagus, and place in contrast the great doctrines there developed, with the superstition whose leading features we have endeavored to delineate. It would be difficult for imagination to conceive a situation of more sublime and thrilling interest than is furnished by Paul standing before that august tribunal, whose origin was lost in the grayest antiquity, and whose members had for centuries consisted of the ex-magistrates—men ripe in age, experience, and wisdom-of the Athenian republic. There stands the great
apostle, with the idolatrous city lying outstretched beneath his eye, crowded with the statues and temples of the gods, while above all and in full view towered the stately Parthenon, and near it the armed statue of Minerva, who, with spear and helmet, still guarded the fallen fortunes of her chosen city. There stands Paul and announces the strange but sublime doctrines of one spiritual, supreme God, the Creator of the world and all things that are therein; a God, who filleth heaven and earth, and dwelleth not in temples made with hands, and bears no resemblance to gold or silver, or to any image graven by art and man's device; a Moral Ruler, who, though he might bear long with, and seem to overlook the wickedness of his creatures, yet takes strict account of all their proceedings, and will one day “judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” How do all the great doctrines of revealed truth-doctrines worthy of a God to deliver, doctrines harmonizing perfectly with the noblest faculties and aspirations of man-pass successively and in solemn grandeur before our minds in this brief outline, or perhaps rather introduction only of Paul's discourse before the Areopagus! How admirably is the whole adapted, both in style and sentiment, to the time, the place, and the audience! How do the loftiest speculations of Heathenism “ lose discountenanced and like folly show," before this majestic cartoon, this sublime yet simple outline of the great doctrines of Christianity. Whoever can read it attentively and fail to be profoundly impressed with its immeasurable superiority to everything which ever proceeded from the unaided human intellect, must be more or less.than man.
ART. VII,-NINEVEH AND ITS REMAINS. Nineveh and its Remains: with an Account of a Visit to the
Chaldæan Christians of Kurdistan, and the Yezidis, or Devilworshippers, and an Inquiry into the Manners and Arts of the Ancient Assyrians. By AUSTEN HENRY LAYARD, Esq., D. C. L. In 2 vols., pp. 326, 373. New-York : George P. Putnam. 1849.
There are few topics which we pursue with more lively interest than the memorials of the long-buried past. A relic from a distant age often has a high market value. Especial