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at least that it was not essentially necessary to the salvation of mankind ;' and Charles Blount, who composed a book, entitled, The Oracles of Reason, and, in the year 1693, died by his own hand. XXIII. Infidelity and even atheism showed themselves
also on the continent during this century. In Republici France, Julius Cesar Vanini, the author of two
books, the one entitled, The Amphitheatre of Providence, and the other, Dialogues concerning Nature,' was publicly burnt at Toulouse, in the year 1629, as an im
tural revelation from heaven in favour of a book that was designed to prove all revela, tion uncertain and useless ? But the absurdity does not end here, for our deist not only sought for this revelation, but also obtained it, if we are to believe him. Let us at least hear him. “I had no sooner, says he, spoken these words, but a loud, though yet gentle noise came forth from the heavens, for it was like nothing on earth, which did so cheer and comfort me, that I took my petition as granted.” Rare credulity this in an unbe. liever! but these gentlemen can believe even against reason, when it answers their purpose. His lordship continues, “ Tbis, bowever, strange it may seem, I protest, before the Eternal God, is true ; neither am I superstitiously deceived herein, &c. See Leland's View of the Deistical Writers, &c. vol. i. p. 470, &c.
h This is sufficiently known to those who have perused lord Herbert's book De Cai sis Errorum, as also his celebrated work De Religion Gentilium. This author is generally considered as the chief and founder of the sect or society that are called naturalists, from their attachment to natural religion alone. See Arnoldi Historia Ecelesias, tica el Hærel. part ii. p. 1083. The peculiar tenets of this famous Deist have been refuted by Musæus and Kortholt, two Gerinan divines of eminent learning and abilities. DP Gassendi also composed on answer to lord Herbert's book, De Veritate. In England it was refuted by Mr. Richard Baxter, in a treatise, entitled More Reasons for the Christian Religion, and no Reason against it. Mr. Locke, in Essay on Human Under standing, shows, with great perpicuity and force of evidence, that the five articles of natural religion proposed by this noble author are not, as he represents them, common notices, clearly inscribed by the hand of God in the minds of all men, and that a divino revelation is necessary to indicate, develope, and enforce them. Dr. Whitby bas also treated the same matter amply in his learned work, entitled 'The Necessity and Usefulness of the Christian Revelation, by reason of the Corruptions of the Principles of Natural Religion among the Jews and Heathens,'8vo. 1075.
i See Chauffepied, Nouveau Dictionaire Historique et Crit. though this author bas omits ted the mention of this gentleman's unbappy sate, out of a regard, no doubt, to his illastrious family. [ Mr. Chauffepied has done no more than translate the article Charles Blount from that of the English continuators of Bayle.
ork This book was published at Lyons in the year 1615, was approved by the alergy and magistrates of that city, and contains many things absolutely irreconcilable with Atheistical principles ; its title is as follows ; ' Amphitheatrum Eteroæ Providentiæ, Divino Magicum, Christiano Physicum, Astrologico, Catholicum, adversas Veteres Philosophos, Atheos, Epicureos, Peripatetices, Stoicos, &c. This book has been esteemed innocent by several writers, impious by others; but, in our judgment, it would have escaped reproach, had Vanini published none of his other productions, since the impieties it may contain, according to the intention of its author, are carefully concealed. This is by no means the case of the book mentioned in the following Rote.
Abai This book, concerning the Secrets of Queen Nature, the Goddess of Mortals, was published with this suspicious title at Paris, in the year 1616, and contains glaring marks of impiety and Atheism; and yet it was published with the king's permission, and the approbation of the Faculty of Theology at Paris. This scandalous negligence or ignorance is unaccountable in such a reverend body. The Jesuit Garasse pretends that the faculty was deceived by Vanini, who substituted another treatise in the place of that which had been approved. See a wretched book of Garasse, entitled Doctrine Curimise, p. 998, as also Durand Vie deVanini, p. 116.
pious and obstinate Atheist. It is nevertheless to be observed, that several learned and respectable writers con sider this unhappy man rather as a victim to bigotry and envy, than as a martyr to impiety and Atheism, and maintain, that neither his life nor his writings were so absurd or blasphemous as to entitle him to the character of a de spiser of God and religion." But if Vanini had his apolo gists, this was by no means the case of Cosmo Ruggeri; a native of Florence, whose Atheism was as impudent as it was impious, and who died in the most desperate senti. ments of irreligion at Paris, in the year 1615, declaring, that he looked upon all the accounts that had been given of the existence of a Supreme Being, and of evil spirits, as idle dreams." Casimir Leszynski, a Polish knight, was capitally punished, suffering death at Warsaw, in the year 1689, for denying the being and providence of God; but whether or no this accusation was well founded, can only be known by reading his trial, and examining the nature and circumstances of the evidence that was produced against him. In Germany, a senseless and frantic sort of a man, called Matthew Knutzen, a native of Holstein, attempted to found a new sect, whose members, laying aside all consideration of God and religion, were to follow the dictates of reason and conscience alone, and from thence were to assume the title of Conscientiarians. But this wrongheaded sectary was easily obliged to abandon his extravagant undertakings; and thus his idle attempt came to nothing.”
xxiv. The most accurate and eminent of the Atheists of this century, whose system represented the Benedice Supreme Author of all things as a Being bound Spinoza.
m See Budæus's Theses de Atheismo et Superstitione, p. 120. The author of the Apologia pro Vanino, wbich appeared in Holland, in the year 1712, is Peter Frederic Arp, a a learued lawyer, who, in his Ferice æstivales seu Scriptorum suorum Historia, p. 28, has promised a new edition of this apology, with considerable additions. We may also place among the defenders of Vanini, the learned Elias Frederic Heister, in his Apologia pro Medicis, sect. xviii. p. 93.
n See Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Ruggeri.
o See the German work of Arnold, entitled, Kirchen und Ketzer Historie, p. 1077. There was formerly in the famous library of Uffenbach, a complete collection of all the papers relating to the trial of Leszynski, and a full account of the proceedings against him.
p Sce Molleri Cimbria Literata, tom. j. p. 304, and Isagoge ad Historiam Chersones. Cimbr. part ii. cap. vi. § viii. p. 164. La Croze, Entretiens sur divers sujets d'Histoire, p. 100. VOL. III.
by the eternal and immutable laws of necessity or fate, was Benedict Spinoza, a Portuguese Jew. This man, who died at the Hague, in 1677, observed, in his conduct, the rules of wisdom and probity, much better than many who profess themselves Christians, nor did he ever endeavour to pervert the sentiments, or to corrupt the morals of those with whom he lived, or to inspire, in his discourse, a contempt of religion or virtue. It is true indeed that in liis writings, more especially in those that were published after his death, he maintains openly, that God and the Universe are one and the same Being, and that all things happen by the eternal and immutable law of nature, i. e. of an all comprehending and infinite Being, that exists and acts by an invincible necessity. This doctrine leads directly to consequences equally impious and absurd; for if the principle now mentioned be true, each individual is his own God, or at least, a part of the universal Deity, and is therefore impeccable and perfect.' Be that as it may, it
q The life of Spinoza has been accurately written by Colerus, whose performance was published at the Hague in 8vo. in the ycar 1706. But a more ample and circumstantial account of this singular man has been given by Lenglet du Fresnoy, and is prefixed to Boulainvillier's Exposition of the Doctrine of Spinoza, which was published at Amsterdam, under the title of Brussels, in 12mo. in the year 1731. See also Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Spinoza. iQ Lenglet du Fresnoy republished the work of Colerius, and added to it several anecdotes and circumstances, borrowed from a Life of Spinoza, written by an infamous profligate, whose name was Lucas, and who practised physic at the Hague. See below the potes x and y.
r The learned Fabricius, in his Bibliotheca Græca, lib. v. part iii. p. 119, and Jenichen, in his Historia Spinozismi Lehnhofiani, p. 58–72, has given us an ample list of the writers who have refuted the system of Spinoza. The real opinion which this subtile sophist entertained concerning the Deity, is to be learned in his Ethicks, that were published aster bis death, and not in his Tractalus Theologico Politicus, which was printed during his lifc. For in this latter Treatise he reasons like one who was persuaded that there exists an eternal Deity, distinct from matter and the universe who has sent upon carth a religion designed to form men to the practice of benevolence and justice, and his confirmed that religion by events of a wonderful and astonishing, though not of a supernatural kind. But in his Ethicks, he throws off the mask, erplains clearly his sentiments, and endeavours to demonstrate, that the Deity is nothing more than the universe, producing a series of necessary movements or acts, in consequence of its own intrinsic, immutable, and irresistible energy. This diversity of sentiments that appears in the different productions of Spinoza, is a sufficient refutation of those, who, forming their estimate of bis system from his Tractatus Theologico Politicus alone, pronounce it less pernicious, and its author less impious, than they are generally supposed to be. But, on the other hand, how shall this diversity be accounted for? Are we to suppose that Spinoza proceeded to Atheism by gradual steps, or is it rather more probable, that, during his lise, he prudently concealed his real sentiments ? Which of these two is the case, it is not easy to determine ; it appears however, from testimonies every way worthy of credit, that he never, during his whole lise, citber madc, or attempted to make converts to irreligion; never said any thing in public that tended to encourage disrespectful sentiments of the Supreme Being, or of the worship that is due to him ; nay, it is well known, on the contrary, that, when subjects of a religious nature were incidentally treated in the course of conversation where he was present, he always expressed himself with the utmost decency on the occasion, and often with an air of piety and seriousness that was more adapted to edify than to give offence. See Des Maizeaux, Vie de M. de S. Evremond, p. 117, tom. i. of bis works. This appears also evident from the Letters that are published in his posthumous works,
is evident that Spinoza was seduced into this monstrous system by the Cartesian philosophy, of which he was a passionate admirer, and which was the perpetual subject of his meditation and study. Having adopted that general principle, about which philosophers of all sects are agreed; that all realities are possessed by the Deity in the most eminent degree ; and having added to this principle, as equally evident, the opinion of Des Cartes, that there are only two realities in nature, thought and extension, the one essential to spirit, and the other to matter ;' the natural consequence of this was, that he should attribute to the Deity both these realities, even thought and extension, in an eminent degree; or, in other words, should represent them as infinite and immense in God.. Hence the transition seemed easy enough to that enormous system which confounds God with the universe, represents them as one and the same Being, and supposes only one substance from whence all things proceed, and into which they all return. It is natural to observe here, what even the friends of Spinoza are obliged to acknowledge, that this system is neither attended with that luminous perspicuity, nor that force of evidence that are proper to make proselytes. It is too dark, too intricate, to 'allure men from the belief of those truths relating to the Deity, which the works of nature, and the plainest dictates of reason are perpetually enforcing upon the human mind. Accordingly, the followers of Spinoza tell us, without hesitation, that it is rather by the suggestions of a certain sense, than by the investigations of reason, that his doctrine is to be comprehended; and that it is of such a nature, as to be easily misunderstood even by persons of the greatest sagacity and penetration. The disci
p s The hypothesis of Des Cartes is not perhaps represented with sufficient accuracy and precisiou, by saying that he looked upon thought as essential to spirit, and extension as essential to matter ; since it is well known, that this philosopher considered thought as the very essence or substance of the soul, and extension as the very essence and substance of matter.
t There is certainly no man so little acquainted with the character of Bayle, as to think him void of discernment and sagacity; and yet this most subtile metaphysician has been accused, by the followers of Spinoza, of misunderstanding and misrepresenting the doctrine of that pantheist, and consequently of answering it with very little golidity,
ples of Spinoza assume the denomination of Pantheists, choosing rather to derive their distinctive title from the nature of their doctrine, than from the name of their master.". The most noted members of this strange sect were a physician, whose name was Lewis Meier," a cer
See Bayle's Dictionary, at the article Spinoza. This charge is brought against Bayle, with peculiar severity, by L. Meier, in bis Preface to the posthumous Works of Spinoza, in which, after complaining of the misrepresentations that have been given of the opinions of that writer, be pretends to maintain, that bis system was, in every point, conformable to the doctrines of Christianity. Boulainvilliers also, another of Spinoza's commentators and advocates, declares, in his preface to a book, whose perfidious title is mentioned below in note y, that all the antagonists of that famous Jew either ignotantly misunderstood, or maliciously perverted his true doctrine ; his words are : "Les Refutations de Spinosa m'ont induit a juger, ou que leurs Auteurs n'avoient pas voulu mettre la doctrine, qu'ils combattent, dans une evidence suffisante, ou qu'ils l'avoient inal entendue,” p. 153. But now, is this be true, if the doctrine of Spinoza be not only far beyond the comprehension of the vulgar, but also difficult to be understood, and liable to be mistaken and misrepresented by men of tbe most acute parts and the most eminent abilities, what is the most obvious conclusion deducible from this fact ? It is plainly this, that the greatest part of the Spinosists, whose sect is supposed by some to be very numerous in Europe, have adopted the doctrine of that famous Atheist, not so much from a conviction of its truth founded on an examination of its intricate contents, as from the pleasure they take in a system that promises impunity to all transgressions that do not come within the cognizance of the civil laws, and thus lets loose the reins to every irregular appetite and passion. For it would be senseless, the bighest degree, to imagine, that tbe pretended multitude of the Spinosists, many of whom never once dreamed of exercising their minds in the pursuit of truth, or accustoming them to philosophical discussion, should all accurately comprehend a system, which, according to their own accounts, has escaped the penetration and sagacity of the greatest genuises.
u Toland, unable to purchase himself a dinner, composed and published, in order to supply the sharp demands of hunger, an infamous and impious book under the following title ; Pantheisticon ; sive, Formulæ celebrandæ Societatis Socraticæ, in Tres Particulas divisæ ; quæ Pantheistarum, sive sodalium continent, 1. Mores et Axiomata ; 1. Numen et Philosophiam ; m. Libertatem et non fallentem legem neque fallendam," &c. The design of this book, which was published in 8vo. at London in the year 1720, appears by the title. It was intended to draw a picture of the licentious morals and priociples of his brethren the Pantheists under the fictitious description of a Socratical society, which they are represented as holding in all the places where they are dispersed. In the Socratical, or rather Bacchanalian society, described in this pernicious work, the president and members are said to converse freely on several subjects. There is also a form or liturgy read by the president, who officiates as priest, and is answered by the assembly in suitable responses. He recommends earnestly to the members of the society the care of truth, liberty, and health ; exhorts them to guard against superstition, that is, religion ; and reads aloud to them, by way of lesson, certain select passages out of Cicero and Seneca, which seem to favour irreligion. His colleagues promise solemnly to conform themselves to his injunctions and exhortations. Sometimes the whole fraternity is so animated with enthusiasm and joy, that they all raise their voices together, and sing certain verses out of the ancient Latin poets, that are suitable to the laws and principles of their sect. See Des Maizeaux, Life of John Toland, p. 77. Bibliotheque Angloise, tom. viii. part ii. p. 285. If the pantheistical community be really such as it is bere represented, it is not so much the duty of wise and good men to dispute with or resute its members, as it is the business of the civil magistrate to prevent such liccntious and turbulent spirits from troubling the order of society, and seducing honest citizens from their religious principles, and the duties of their respective stations.
w This Meier was the person, who translated into Latin the pieces that Spinoza had composed in the Dutch language ; who assisted bim in his last moments, after having attempted, in vain, to remove his disorder ; and who published his Posthumous Works with a Preface, in which, with great impudeure and little success, ha