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He shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every God, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, &c. &c, Suppose all this now to be spoken by Daniel of nothing more than the short persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, which, that it cannot be, I have shown above; but suppose it were, and that it was all forged after the event, yet it cannot be the case of St. Paul and St. John, who describe exactly a like power, and in like words; speaking of things to come in the latter days, of things still future in their time, and of which there was then no footsteps, no appearance in the world. The day of Christ, says St. Paul, shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God:--whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness." Again: “The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, (that is, for so it should be translated, doctrines concerning demons or souls of men departed;) forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, &c. St. John, in like manner, prophesies of a wild beast or tyrannical power, to whom was given great authority, and a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies: and he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him to overcome all kindreds, and tongues, and nations; and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him. And he that exerciseth his power before him-doth great wonders-and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by means of those miracles which he hath power to do.. And he causeth that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast. And the kings of the earth have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast; for God hath put into their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree and give their kingdoms to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. The name of the person in whose hands the reins or principal direction of the exercise of this power is lodged, is Mystery, Babylon the Great, She is drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and by her sorceries are all nations deceived: and in her is found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that are slain upon the earth. And this person (the political person) to whom these titles and characters belong, is that great city, standing upon seven mountains, which reigneth over the kings of the earth."
"If, in the days of St. Paul and St. John, there was any footstep of any such a sort of power as this in the world; or if there ever had been any such power in the world; or if there was then any appear. ance of probability that could make it enter into the heart of man to imagine that there ever could be any such kind of power in the world, much less in the temple or church of God; and if there be not now such a power actually and conspicuously exercised in the world; and
if any picture of this power, drawn after the event, can now descrihe it more plainly and exactly than it was originally described in the words of the prophecy; then may it with some degree of plausibleness be suggested, that the prophecies are nothing more than enthusiastic imaginations."
James Douglass, Esq.
CORRUPTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY TERMINATING IN
POPERY--No. II. AS the priesthood had an ontward and inward religion, so the philosophers had an outward and an inward philosophy, Philosophy beyan exactly at the point where the more refined systems of superstition ended. The earliest corruptions of religion consisted in assigning animating principles, or souls, to the elements, and the separate portions of nature. The latter, and more elaborate superstition of the priesthood was founded on the belief of one universal soul actuating the whole of nature. From this point the earliest speculations of Grecian philosophy commenced; at least that branch of it which was derived from the Egyptiun. Thales, and his successors, held a mundane soul, that is, a soul immersed in matter, and actuating it from within; and it was not till the time of. Anaxagoras that the doctrine of a supramundane soul was maintained, that is, of a soul actuating matter from without, unconfined, impassive, and immaterial.
Hitherto two principles were admitted in nature independent, selforiginating, and ever-existing—Matter and Mind. But the higher philosophy of the East went a step further, and simplifying the theory of existence, admitted but one original principle-Mind, of which Matter was the dark and degenerate offspring; Mind being the bright centre and fount of all things, but becoming gross and dim as it flowed at a distance from its source. This system of emanation pre. vailed over the East, and was introduced amongst the Greeks by Pythagoras. In his school it underwent some slight modifications, till at last, among the elder Eleatic sect, it passed into a still higher system, that of strict Pantheism, which not only does not admit of more than one principle, but excludes any other being than what arises from visionary and deceptive appearances, excepting only the one absolute and universal existence. Pantheism again passed into transcendental atheism, and became similar to many systems which still prevail in the East. The one existence being considered as above the reach of our comprehension, and being every way infinite, is affirmed to be without attributes and modifications, and thus to have as little affinity with mind as with matter. Ilence the first cause has 'been termed an infinile nothing. These doctrines passed on the one side into the absolute and universal scepticism of Pyrrhonism, and on the other into the opposite system of atomic atheism, which, going to The contrary extreme, admitted of no existence but that which came within the sphere of the senses. VOL. II.
* Thus the world by wisdom knew not God; the more they reasoned the more they departed from the truth. “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." Nothing can be more striking than the incongruity and absordity of the notions and arguments of the most eminent men of antiquity in their attempts to reason on the nature of the First Cause. This is exhibited within a short compass in Cicero's eloquent treatise concerning the nature of the gods. No doubt their absurdities lose nothing by passing through his hands, and had they been accompanied by the elaborate trains of reasoning which led to them, they would have appeared more specious than when represented in the nakedness of their ridiculous and jarring conclusions. .Still these conclusions are presented by Cicero with considerable accuracy, and with great beauty and spirit; and afford an admirable commentary to St. Paul's remarks on Gentile wisdom.
It is true that Socrates, in ais striking and original efforts to discover truth, promised to bring back the philosophy of Greece to saner views; but though the genius of Socrates lent its coloring to many of the systems which followed him, yet his sobriety of investigation had few imitators. Plato added the dreams and wonders of Pythagoras to the more practical tenets of his master, and lost himself in his favorite ideal world, instead of looking at existence in its actual condition. Nor were the varying and contradictory opinions of Aristotle concerning the First Mover, though more destitute of imagi: nation, on that account, nearer to the truth. Many of the Stoic dogmas, though sounding high and plausible concerning the divine nature, are yet found, when examined upon the genuine principles of their philosophy, to have more show than significance. Nor was there any hope of amendment in new systems springing up, for the Grecians were continually reasoning upon false principles, and the more accurately they reasoned, the more erroneous and monstrous were their conclusions.
The best and most correct opinions concerning religion which the ancients possessed, were those which were handed down to them from remote antiquity, which were celebrated in the writings of their moral poets, and which their legislators adopted and inculeated in order to give a sanction to their laws. These form the outer doctrines of phiJosophy, and are very superior to the tenets of the inner school. In these outer doctrines, the philosophers considered not what was true, but what was useful; and they showed themselves much better judges of utility than of truth. They were ignorant of the simple demonstration which proves that general utility and truth must be forever coincident. Hence the pernicious and perplexing division of their doctrines into the exoteric and esoteric; the first adapted to the world at large: the second hurtful, if generally promulgated, but which might be revealed to the few who were devoted to the pursuit of wisdom. Thus in their own estimation, their whole stock of opinions were made up of useful errors and dangerous truths. But in the
absence of just principles, as it is more easy to discover what is useful than what is true, their supposed errors were often truths, and their supposed truths were always errors.
Entangled in the web of their own double doctrine; and at best, by no means remarkable, notwithstanding their genius, even in their most lucid moments, for perspicuity and consistency, they expressed themselves so vaguely and figuratively, that they leave ample room for the conjectures, disputes, and mistakes of commentators. We are principally indebted to the vigorous mind and sagacious learning of Warburton for first pointing out determinately the real opinions of the ancient philosophers respecting the nature of the Deity and of the soul, and also for placing in the clearest light the ultimate principle upon which these reasonings proceeded.
The philosophy of the ancients took its form and character from their entire ignorance of the principle of creation, and from their denial of the possibility of any other change than a change of form, and the giving a new mould to pre-existing materials. Thus whatever had real existence was eternal, it was only the modifications of that existence which were temporary. Hence the belief that matter and mind were both of them self-existing and ever-enduring; and hence the obvious conclusion that all finite souls were but rays emitted from the Original Mind, and would soon return to the ocean from which they had been for a moment exhaled.
But the doctrine of two principles yielded to the belief of one principle, as being a more harmonious and comprehensive scheme of philosophy, and hence Pantheism, or the considering the universe as God, the one and only true existence, has chiefly prevailed in all ages and countries where revelation has been unknown.
In the scheme of Pantheism, the great difficulty is to account for finite existence; this has given rise to two systems, emanative philosophy, and Pantheism strictly so called. The emanative philosophy considers all changes as taking place in the divine substance itself: but Pantheism considers all changes to be merely deceptions, yet it fails to account for the origin of illusion, nor can it explain in what manner this can have any place in the Infinite Mind. The system of emanation has most generally prevailed; it is not only found in numerous schools of philosophy, but many of the ancient superstitions have been remodelled on its basis. The mythology of the Hindoos has been recast upon this model by the ancient Braminical priesthood, while the opposing doctrines of Boudh derive their character from Pantheism strictly so called. These systems have re-appeared in modern times, both in the East and in the West, and have given rise to peculiar modifications in mystical devotion, which shall afterwards be noticed. It is thus that opinions descend lower and lowěr in the scale of mind, and that the errors of ancient genius become the here. sies of modern sectarians.,
Thus we observe, that the great and ever-recurring error of the ancients proceeds from their ignorance of creation. The substance
of all things they supposed to be necessarily eternal. Forms might be changed, but essences were forever the same; and all essences were but one essence, the one eternal and unbounded existence. Possessed with this false principle, the more they reasoned upon it, the deeper they sunk into error; it haunted them on every side, and blinded them to every sane notion of God, of nature, and of themselves. It is the view which all reasoners unacquainted wih revelation have taken of existence; and it is the view into which men have ever å tendency to relapse whenever they trust to their own reason, and are not guided implicitly by revelation in their speculations concerning the Divine Being. There was not the least prospect that the Gentile philosophers could ever have shaken off this error, unless they had been furnished with a strength not their own. All their flights of speculation, all their ceaseless inquiries and diseussions, served only to rivet more firmly upon them the maxim that from nothing, nothing could be produced. No strength of understanding availed them to find out the truth; once departing from the right way, the more rapidJy and prosperously they proceeded, the more inextricably they were involved in error; nor was the prospect brighter for any future and distant age. One theory, indeed, rapidly gave place to a sircceeding one; but all theories were erected upon the false basis, and were merely modifications and expansions of the same fundamental mistake. Nor when invention was exhausted, and new theories ceased to be brought forward, was any approach made to the discovery of the truth. The strength of mind which had expended itself in originality, was, in after ages, employed in defending the errors of others; and the genius of Greece not only proved that the highest efforts of the human mind, when unassisted from on high, were unavailing to find out the true God; but they also enchained the understandings of other nations, and future ages, to submit, in blind acquiescence, to the authority and maxims of Grecian philosophy. .
If ever truth could have been discovered and excogitated by the human mind itself, it must have been in the favored times and situation of Greece; the human faculties were then in the full stretch of exertion, and had reached the highest point of enthusiasm and power. The Greeks are far too favorable a sample of the unassisted under. standing of man; they were placed in peculiaj circumstances by Providence to show that the mind of man, in its very best estate, is, when trusting to itself, but emptiness and vanity; that there is no true knowledge of nature to be obtained, except by humble and patient investigation; and no true knowledge of God, except by child-like docility, and humble attention, to what he himself is pleased to reveal. .
Neither in latter days has the mind of man gained in strength, though it has in information; as soon as it departs even now from revelation, though surrounded on all sides by light, it immediately falls into the same darkness, and the same errors. The infidel writers in modern times, as we shall afterwards have occasion to notive,