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barbarous northern people. For, besides those already CHAP. mentioned, Cæsar, and Strabo, and Ammianus Mar- _
Cæs. I. vi. cellinus say, that the Druids asserted the immortality of souls ; and neither Orpheus, nor any out of Egypt, Ammian.
Po Marcellin. ever conversed among them.
1. xv. But some in our age are so fond of the Egyptians, that they will by all means make the immortality of souls to be a noble invention of theirs: Nobilissimum Canon.
+ Chron. autem eorum inventum fuit immortalitas animæ. What . is the meaning of this noble invention? Is it that none ever thought of it before them; and all others derived it from them? That appears already to be otherwise ; and that very distant and remote nations, who had no communication with these noble inventors, held the same opinions, as might, if it were needful, be proved by undoubted testimonies, both of t'e East and West Indies, where neither Orpheus nor the Egyptian priests were ever heard of. And Pausanias long since observed, Pausan, in That the Chaldæans and Indians held the same, and Mess. before the Egyptians; for he makes them the first. But Herodotus saith, That the Egyptians were the Herodot. first who asserted the immortality of souls : not abso-". lutely, but so as to pass from one body to another, till at last it came into a human body. And of this noble invention let the Egyptians have the due honour, and not those Greeks, who, as he saith, would deprive them of it. It is great pity they should lose it; since Diodorus Siculus saith, The soul of Osiris passed into Diod. Sic. a bull; and that is the reason why they give so much"
1. i. c. 85. honour to it. It cannot be denied, that some Greek philosophers of great reputation did assert the transmigration of souls, if their doctrine be not misrepresented; but neither Pythagoreans nor Platonists did hold it universally, nor in such a manner as is commonly understood. For they held no transmigration of the souls
BOOK of good men, which were fit for happiness, but asserted
– that they went immediately to heaven, or a state of
bliss ; as may be proved by the testimonies of Epiapud Grot. Excerpt. * charmus, Empedocles, Plato, and many others. But p. 481. Clement.
the difficulty lay about impure souls: the Pythagore
tr:5. ans utterly rejected the poetical fables about the state los. p. 28. of the dead; and therefore they were forced to think
of some way of purifying them after death. They had no light to direct them but their own imagination; and they thought it best for the same soul to come into another human body, to try if it would behave itself better, that it might be happy : but for profligate and very wicked persons, they told them of going into such beasts as were most remarkable for those vices they were most addicted to; as the cruel into tigers and beasts of prey; the voluptuous into swine; the proud and vain into birds; the idle and soft into fishes. This is the account given, saith Bessarion, by Timæus, in his book de Mundo et Anima. And when Trapezuntius charged Plato with asserting that brutes were in
formed by human souls, Cardinal Bessarion, a very Bessar. learned Greek, utterly denies it, and saith, That Plato lumn. I. ii. doth not make the soul of a man to become the soul of c. 7.
a brute; but only that it is confined to it as a prison for a certain time, but it is not capable of acting there for want of proper organs. So that these philosophers' opinion was very different from the Egyptians. But whence came the most ancient philosophers to hold the immortality of souls? Had they it from the Egyptians ? Plutarch saith, that Thales was the first; not that held the soul to be immortal; for so many did before him; but that maintained it as a philosopher by reason; that is, because it had the principle of motion within itself, and so could not be supposed to forsake itself, or to cease moving by the death of the body.
Θαλής απεφήνατο πρώτος την ψυχήν, φύσιν αεικίνητος και αυτοκί- CHAP. vntov. For, as Cicero observes, a body is moved by im- _ pulse from another body, but the soul finds it hath this P1
Plac. Phil. power wholly within and from itself; and therefore is l. iv. c. 2.
ed. Xyland. immortal.
i. 23. But Pythagoras is said to have learnt this doctrine" in Egypt. He called the soul a self-moving number, saith Plutarch in the same place, i. e. as he well explains it, he puts number, after his mystical way, for a mind : and it seems very strange to me, that so great a man as Aristotle should think Pythagoras spake literally of numbers; as though any number could move itself. But Plutarch rightly interpreted him; and the latter Pythagoreans, from Moderatus Gaditanus, made no scruple of saying that Pythagoras expressed his Porphyr. in
Vit.Pythag. sense about immaterial beings by numbers and figures, Piu as having nothing of matter in them. And it is very de Isid. et
Y Osir. p. 354. probable he learnt this way from the symbols and hieroglyphics of the Egyptians. But Cicero saith, That Cic. Tusc. he had learnt the immortality of the soul from his master Pherecydes; which he confirmed very much. And it is observable, that he first supposes a general Cap. 13. consent of mankind as to the immortality of souls, from a very ancient tradition ; and then proceeds to the philosophers, who offered to give reasons for asserting it; of which he gives an account. And if there were Cap. 12. such a general consent from all antiquity, as he affirms, then this doctrine could not originally come out of Egypt by Orpheus into Greece.
Let us now consider the sense of religion, or Divine worship among the Greeks, before Orpheus's time; whether they were such strangers to it as they must be supposed, if he brought it first among them. Plato Plato in was a very competent witness as to the old Greeks; Cratyl.
'p. 273. and he affirms, that the first inhabitants of Greece
. i. 16.
BOOK seemed to him to have worshipped no other gods but
the sun, moon, and earth, and stars, and the heavens; as most barbarous nations still do. So that here we have the same religion in Greece, that was then common to the rest of the world, i. e. the worship of visible deities, and such as they apprehended to have the greatest influence upon their affairs. The heavenly bodies did strike them with astonishment at their vastness and beauty, and orderly motion, and the benefits they continually received from them; and these they were most ready to pay their devotions to, as to those which appeared most to them; but that which did not appear, w as to them that were so much governed by sense, as if it were not. As if we suppose a prince travelling with his chariot in the country, with the curtains drawn up on all sides, and a great retinue about him; the people are much surprised with so great an appearance, and flock about them to see to whom they must pay their respects; and seeing nobody in the chariot, they turn their eyes to the attendants, and especially to him that sits so high in the coach-box, and manages the horses, and immediately give him that profound reverence which was only due to the prince himself, if he had appeared. Much after this manner it was with the barbarous people, both in Greece and other parts of the world. There was something so great as to require devotion from them; and they looked about them, and could see nothing which they thought could deserve it better than the sun, moon, and stars, which were placed very high, and were the great movers which kept all things in their order, and made them so serviceable to them. But this is far from being an argument that they had no religion; it being rather a sign they had too much, but knew not how to govern it. But this was a far more reasonable wor
ship, than that which Orpheus or the old poets brought CHAP. in among the Greeks; whose stories and ceremonies were. so filthy and indecent, as were enough to have turned the stomachs of modest and virtuous men from any kind of worship, which had the tincture of so much obscenity going along with it. And it is really to be wondered at, that the Orphic mysteries and poetical fables received among the Greeks, did not quite overthrow all religion among them. For, as Plutarch well saith, Absurd notions of God have very ba i conse- Plutarch. de
Isid. et quences both ways; for some are plunged into the Osir. depth of superstition, and others, to avoid that, run themselves into atheism. And if there had not been some very great reason in nature to have kept the notion of a Deity in men’s minds, it is hardly conceivable, that, under all the horrible superstitions of Greece, there should be any such thing as a sense of religion left among them. But the evidence of that was so great, as made all men of understanding to put any tolerable sense upon those vile superstitions, which were so prevailing in Greece, after the Egyptian fopperies were brought in among them. The rule they went by was this, that religion must be preserved in the world, not to serve politic ends, but to satisfy the reason and common sense of mankind; and that since such a way of worship was so generally received, they were willing to put the best constructions upon it, and to make it some way or other serve to keep up the sense of a Divine Power in the management of the world. And of this we have a remarkable instance in Plutarch, with respect to the Egyptian mysteries, in his treatise of Isis and Osiris. He professes at first a great desire to find out the truth of these things that concern the knowledge of God, it being the greatest blessing God can give, and mankind can receive ; and that without