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worthy and refined, and the accounts we have of a state of happiness or misery so clear and evident, that the contemplation of such objects will give our discourse à noble vigour, an invincible force, beyond the power of any human consideration. "Tully requires in his perfect orator some skill in the nature of heavenly bodies ; because, says he, his mind will ecome more extensive and uncon. fined ; and when he descends to treat of human affairs, he will both think and write in a more exalt. ed and magnificent manner.
For the same reason that excellent master wonld have recommended the study of those great and glorious mysteries which revelation has discovered to us; to which the noblest parts of this system of the world are as much inferior as the creature is less excellent than its Creator. The wisest and most knowing among the heathens had very poor and imperfect notions of a future state. They had indeed some tain hopes, either received by tradition, or gathered by reason, that the existence of virtuous men would not be determined by the separation of soul and body : but they either disbelieved a future state of punishment and misery; or, upon the same ac"count that Appelles painted Antigonus with one side only towards the spectator, that the loss of his eye might not cast a blemish upon the whole piece; so these represented the condition of man in its fairest view, and endeavoured to conceal what they thought was a deformity to human nature. I have often observed, that whenever the above-mentioned orator in his philosophical discourses is led by his argument to the mention of immortality, he seems like one awakened out of sleep ; roused and alarmed with the dignity
of the subject, he stretches his imagination to conceive something uncommoni,
and, with the greatness of his thoughts, casts, as it were a glory round the sentence. Uncertain and unsettled as he was, he seems fired with the contemplation of it. And nothing but such a glorious prospect could have forced so great a lover of truth as he was to declare his resolution never to part with his persuasion of immortality, though it should be proved to be an erroneous one. But had he lived to see all that Christianity has brought to light, how would he have lavished out all the force of eloquence in those noblest contemplations which human nature is capable of, the resurrection and the judgment that follows it! How had his breast glowed with pleasure, when the whole compass of futurity lay open and exposed to his view ! How would his imagination have hurried him on in the pursuit of the mysteries of the incarnation ! How would he have entered, with the force of lightning, into the affections of his hearers, and fixed their attention, in spite of all the opposition of corrupt nature, upon those glorious themes which his eloquence hath painted in such lively and lasting colours !
This advantage Christians have; and it was with no small pleasure I lately met with a fragment of Longinus, which is preserved, as a testimony of that critic's judgment, at the beginning of a man 'script of the New Testament in the Vatican library After that the author has numbered up the most cele. brated orators among the Grecians, he says, "add to these Paul of Tarsus, the patron of an opinion pot yet fully proved.” As a heathen he condemns the Christian religion; and, as an impartial critic, he judges in favour of the promoter and preacher of it. To me it seems that the latter part of his judgment adds great weight to his opinion of St.
Paul's abilities since, under all the prejudice of opinions directly opposite, he is constrained to acknowledge the merit of that apostle. And no doubt such as Longinus describes St. Paul, such he appeared to the inhabitants of those countries which he visited and blessed with those doctrines he was divinely commissioned to preach. Sacred story gives us, in one circumstance, a convincing proof of his eloquence, when the men of Lystra called him Mercury “because he was the chief speaker," and would have paid divine worship to him, as to the God who invented and presided over eloquence. This one account of our apostle sets his character, considered as an orator only, above all the celebrated relations of the skill and influence of De. mosthenes and his contemporaries. Their power in speaking was admired, but still it was thought human: their eloquence warmed and ravished the hearers, but still it was thought the voice of man, not the voice of God. What advantage then had St. Paul above those of Greece or Rome? I con. fess I can ascribe this excellence to nothing but the power of the doctrines he delivered, which may have still the same influence on his hearers, which have still the power when preached by a skilful 'orator, to make us break out in the same expressions as the disciples who met our Saviour in their way to Emmaus made use of; “ Did not our hearts burn within us when he talked to us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures ?” I may be thought bold in my judgment by some, but I must affirm that no one orator has left us so vi. sible marks and footsteps of his eloquence as our apostle. It may perhaps be wondered at, that, in his reasonings upon idolatry at Athens, where eloquence was born and flourished, he confines himself to strict argument only; but my reader may remember what many anthors of the best cre. dit have assured us, that all attempts upon the affections, and strokes of oratory, were expressly forbidden by the laws of that country in courts of judicature. His want of eloquence therefore here was the cffect of his exact conformity to the laws ; but his discourse on the resurrection to the Corinthians, his harangue before Agrippa upon his own conversion, and the necessity of that of others, are truly great, and may serve as full examples to those excellent rules for the sublime, which the best of critics has left us. The sum of all this discourse is, that our clergy have no farther to look for an example of the perfection they may arrive at than to St. Paul's harangues; that when he, under the want of several advantages of nature, as he himself tells us, was heard, admired, and made a standard to succeeding ages by the best judges of a different per. suasion iu religion ; I say, our clergy may learn that, however instructive their sermons are, they are capable of receiving a great addition : which St. Paul has given them a noble example of, and the Christian religion has furnished them with certain means of attaining to.'
No 592. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1714.
“Ο ελαχίστων δεόμενος έγγιστα Θεών. .
SOCRATES apud Xen.
It was the common boast of the heathen philoso. phers, that by the efficacy of their several doctrines, they made human nature resemble the divine. How much mistaken soever they might be in the several means they proposed for this end, it must be owned that the design was great and glorious. The finest works of invention and imagination are of very
little weight when put in the balance with what refines and exalts the rational mind. Longinus excuses Homer very handsomely, when he says the poet made his gods like men, that he might make his men appear like gods. But it must be allowed that several of the ancient philosophers acted as Cicero wishes Homer had done: they endeavoured rather to make men like gods than gods like men.
According to this general maxim in philosophy, some of them have endeavoured to place men in such a state of pleasure, or indolence at least, as they vainly imagined the happiness of the Supreme Being to consist in. On the other hand, the most virtuous sect of philosophers have created a chimerical wise man, whom they made exempt from passions and pain, and thought it enough to pronounce him all. suflicient.
This last character, when divested of the glare of human philosophy that surrounds it, signifies no more than that a good and wise man should so arm