« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
that he believed that there is one only God, the creator, preserver, and governor of the world, and that God is, in the highest sense, powerful, good, wise, benevolent to men, knowing all things, provident for all things, omnipresent.
OF THE WORSHIP OF GOD.
$ 16. The necessity and utility of divine worship. Socrates has assigned various reasons why the Deity should be worshipped by men. And first, because, though he is so far above us, he yet thinks us worthy of his interest in our wants, and regard for our happiness.* Again, because by the worship of him, we may best learn his goodness, love, providence, and good will to us.t Still more, because there is an instinctive tendency to adoration of the gods. For whence those fierce stings of conscience, which night and day goad and torment them who have done wrong? Whence that lofty calmness of a mind conscious of its innocence and goodness, if there is not in men an innate sentiment of the being of a God, who can reward and punish them, whose laws they ought to obey, whose person they are bound to reverence? Nor ought that opinion to be taken as resting on slight grounds, or as conceived under any illusion, which has ever prevailed in the public institutions of all nations, and has been the intimate conviction of the best and wisest men. I Truly this is a divine law, written by God himself on the soul of man-WORSHIP GOD_W
-which law whoever despises, him a punishment that cannot be escaped, shall necessarily follow. No one can with impunity break the divine laws, for from the very act, in which they are contemned, the punishment arises, by natural consequence. Thus from the divine laws to the human, has been transferred this ordinance concerning the worship of the gods; not from any evil design, but because it has been made clear that the State, which is not restrained by reverence for the Deity, must be disturbed and harassed by perpetual wars, seditions, deceits, wronys, fierceness, and other evils most pernicious to the social life of men, or by the severest penalties connected with the disregard of the laws of civil union.*
* 1. 4. 10.
f 1. 4. 18. | I. 4. 16. IV. 3. 16. § IV. 4. 19 seq. This passage contains a remarkable discussion of the natural laws engraven by the Deity on our souls.
$ 17. The outward worship of God. So far as pertains to the outward worship of Deity, Socrates, both in words and acts, followed the law of the State, and exhorted others to do the same.t He offered sacrifices after the manner of his fathers on the altars, public and private, and paid his vows to the gods in the temples of the city. (cf. $ 15.) For he judged them to be engaged in affairs out of their sphere, and to have undertaken a useless and unnecessary labor,f who wish to change by personal influence, the forms of religion which have been consecrated by the authority of the State. Socrates therefore mainly endeavored to make common a purer idea of God; conceiving that this would put to flight other abuses, which are sustained by formal rites alone. But in making sacrifices he strongly commended the precept of Hesiod, καδδύναμιν έρδειν icó a bavaroioi feior. For God is not persuaded as men are, by splendid gifts, and magnificent tokens of respect, but is best pleased with the reverence of the pious. Hence Socrates believed that the scanty offerings of the poor are not less acceptable to God than the costly and noble sacrifices of the rich. If it were not so, he must often prefer the offerings of the evil to those of the good. But life were not desirable, if the Deity were better pleased with the sacrifice of a wicked man, because it is rich, than of a good man, which might be of slight value.
$ 18. The inward worship of God. From what has been said, it is sufficiently evident that Socrates judged the true worship of God to consist not in actions of outward splendor, but in the feelings of the heart toward him, and in a sincere love of virtue. He who would be accepted of God, ought, he says, above all, to express to him the feelings of a grateful heart. Although no man can render a gratitude adequate to his kindness, yet we can attain the favor of God, if with constant and unremitting effort (which is the force of Hesiod's xadduvauin) we strive to conform every action of our life to bis will, to commend ourselves alway to his judgment, and desire in all the strength and sincerity of our souls to please and obey him.* If we hold resolutely to such a plan of life, and approve ourselves to God by such worship and obedience, we ought to repose in him the highest trust, and not only to seek from him all good things by prayer, but to expect them also with firm faith. In fraining our prayers, he specially enjoined that we should not decide what things are good and desirable from our own erring judgment, and as it were prescribe by name what we desire to obtain ; but that, simply and in general terms, we should ask of God, such things as are truly good and salutary, and firmly persuade ourselves that he best knows what will be for our interest, and from his own wisdom and benignity, will bestow such things in a manner far better than according to our feeble and imperfect choice.t
* Cf. Cic. de Legg. 11.7.
1 This I think is the force of the words περιέργους και ματαίους, which Xenophon used in the passage just cited, nor do I see why, as is commonly done, trepiégyous should be translated superstitious.
Ý Mem. I. 3. 3.
IV. 3. 15 seq. III. 9. 15. IV. 6. 2 seg. Socrates not only taught this by his precepts, but approved them by his example. Thus when once he was a senator, and the whole people wished unjustly to condemn nine magistrates to death, Socrates who at the time presided in the assembly, refused to put the questiou to a vote, though the people were exceedingly indignant, and himself was threatened by the more powerful citizens; preferring the sanctity of his oath to the favor of the people and his personal safety. Mem. I. 1. 18. This also is an eminent proof of his piety, that when he thought he had received any token of the Divine will, he would no more allow himself to be persuaded to act contrary to that declared will, than he would be persuaded to choose a blind and ignorant guide in place of one clearsighted and well acquainted with his route. He also severely censured the madness of others, who that they may avoid the reproof or ridicule of men, dare to disobey the known and published will of God. So far even did he reverence the will of God above all things else, that he was ready to suffer death, when he had judged Him to have decreed it, reckoning that he can turn to our advantage what seems to us the greatest evil. Mem. I. 3. 4. IV. cap. 8. throughout.
+ IV.3. 17. I. 3. 2. Evidently suited to the genius of Socrates, and concurring with the testimony of Xenophon, is the discussion of Socrates concerning divine worship and prayers, in the second Alci
This is nearly all that Xenophon has delivered to us of the doctrine of Socrates respecting God and his worship. Of this doctrine different men have formed widely different judgmients. Some have dared to equal and even to prefer Socrates to the holy founder of our religion and his apostles ; at whose vain attempts we may well wonder. For though he has taught many things excellent, noble, and true; yet not only are the same things found again and again in the sacred writings, but placed in clearer light, and accompanied by many other truths, more closely connected with the true happiness of man, of which no traces are to be found in Socrates. Others, on the contrary, have endeavored to depreciate the well deserved fame of Socrates; partly through ignorance; partly excited by the rash boldness of those who have dared, through undue admiration of Socrates, to undervalue divinely revealed truth ; partly without regard to the different circumstances of different ages, judging Socrates as a christian philosopher, and demanding more than is reasonable of him. Hence they are accustomed harshly to censure many things in him, which are not sustained by sufficient evidence of their truth, or which ought not to be severely blamed, when the age and manners among which he lived are considered, though in our times and with our better light and christian knowledge, they would merit strong terms of reprehension. But plainly, Socrates is not to be regarded as a man entirely free from the ordinary failings of humanity ; por as a teacher who can be expected to purify the discipline of morals and the doctrine of divine things from every stain and error, and lead men to that height of knowledge and moral safety, to which God himself has opened to us the way in Christ; but as one, who, under the guidance of sound reason, desired to attain, as far as the weakness of human nature, the state of his age, and the envy of his fellow citizens would allow, to the understanding of the true God and of virtue, and thus to a life of happiness, and who wished to bring others to the same end, by mild counsels and persuasions.* That the efforts of this most excellent man were not without effect, we may easily learn from the consideration of his life and teachings; and, after the most exact scrutiny and judgment, we cannot but call him the prince of the philosophers of antiquity, and assign him a place in that rank of good men, whose memory is ever precious.
biades of Plato, which may well be compared. And the supposition is not without plausibility which has before been maintained by some (Athenaeus Lib. XI. p. 506. c.) that the dialogue, wbich is entitled Alcibiades Minor, was written not by Plato, but by Xenophon.
THE WEAPONS OF UNIVERSALISM REVERSED.
By Rev. Edwin Holt, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
UNIVERSALISM, in its mutations, has reached a form that conflicts with not a few of the most obvious principles of inspired truth. Its march of improvement illustrates the tendency of a favorite hypothesis to blind the eye to contradictions of the most glaring character, in a doating pursuit of one engrossing end. It professes to teach a system of duty, and yet saps the foundation of all responsibility by making human conduct the result of unavoidable circumstances. It professes to prepare men for the heavenly world, and yet acknowledges no connection between the doings of this life and the retributions of eternity. It professes to give the inost exalted conceptions of the Deity, and yet on some essential points it degrades, more than any
It was ever the highest care of Socrates, to inform his friends with the true idea of God and of his relation to men, that not in the light only and in the presence of men, but in solitude, often the mother and the nurse of the worst counsels and vices, they might be restrained from all malice, meanness, injustice, and impiety. Mem. I: 4. 19. IV. 3. 2. The doctrine of Socrates would have made much greater progress, had it not been resisted partly by the common superstition which could not be attacked without danger, and which threatened him with a prison and with death, and partly by the influence of the Sophists, who sustained by their authority the sentiinents of the multitude. (Cf. IV.) For who does not prefer to be learned, to being a learner? (Cf. Plato, de Repub. Lib. VI. Tom. VII. p. 87. seq.) To Socrates may well be applied the words of the same writer in the Timaeus, τον μέν ποιητής και πατέρα τούδε του παντός ευρείν τε έργον και ευρόντα εις πάντας αδύνατον λέγειν. .