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illustrious scholars, I need not be afraid of public censure. Like them, I wish to prove that the sacred pages are as alluring by their language, as they are important in their doctrines; and that, whatever be the boast of Greece and Rome with respect to poetic attainments, they are often equalled, and occasionally surpassed, by the former. The man who, professing the Christian religion, is acquainted with the ancient classics, ought, at the same time, to be acquainted with biblical criticism; he has, otherwise, neglected his truest interest, and lived but for little purpose in the world. I delight in profane literature, but still more do I delight in my Bible: they are lamps, that afford a mutual assistance to each other. In point of importance, however, I pretend not that they admit of comparison; and could it once be demonstrated that the pursuits are inconsistent with each other, I would shut up Lucretius for ever, and rejoice in the conflagration of the Alexandrian library.” Pref. p. xvii.
. The following able sketch of the system of Epicurus will be read with interest and advantage by the young student of the philosophy of the ancients.
“In its mere PHYSICAL contemplation, the theory of Epicurus allows of nothing but matter and space, which are equally infinite and unbounded, which have equally existed from all eternity, and from different combinations of wbich every individual being is created. These existences have no property in common with each other; for, whatever matter is, that space is the reverse of; and whatever space is, matter is the contrary to. The actually solid parts of all bodies, therefore, are matter; their actual pores, space; and the parts which are not altogether solid, but an intermixture of solidity
and pore, are space and matter combined. Anterior to the formation of the universe, space and matter existed uncombined, or in their pure and elementary state. Space, in its elementary state, is positive and unsolid void : matter, in its elementary state, consists of inconceivably minute seeds or atoms-so small, that the corpuscles of vapour, light, and heat, are compounds of them; and so solid, that they cannot possibly be broken, or made smaller, by any concussion or violence whatever. The express figure of these primary atoms is various: there are round, square, pointed, jagged, as well as many other shapes. These shapes, however, are not diversified to infinity; but the atoms themselves, of each existent shape, are infinite or innumerable. Every atom is possessed of certain intrinsic powers of motion. Under the old school of Democritus, the perpetual motions exhibited were of two kinds,-a descending motion, from its own gravity; and a rebounding motion, from mutual concussion. Besides these two motions, and to explain certain phenomena which the following poem developes, and which were not accounted for under the old system, Epicurus supposed that some atoms were occasionally possessed of a third, by which, in some very small degree, they descended in an oblique or curvilinear direction, deviating from the common and right line anomalously; and hence, in this respect, resembling the oscillations of the magnetic needle.
“ These infinitudes of atoms, flying immemorially in such different directions, through all the immensity of space, have interchangeably tried and exhibited every possible mode of action, --sometimes repelled from each other by concussion, and sometimes adhering to each
other from their own jagged or pointed construction, or from the casual interstices which two or more connected atoms must produce, and which may just be adapted to those of other configurations, as globular, oval, or square. Hence the origin of compound bodies; hence the origin of immense masses of matter; hence, eventually, the origin of the world itself. When these primary atoms are closely compacted together, and but little vacuity or space intervenes, they produce those kinds of substances which we denominate solid, as stones and metals: when they are loose and disjoined, and a large quantity of space or vacuity occurs between them, they produce the phenomena of wool, water, vapour. In one mode of combination, they form earth; in another, air; and in another, fire. Arranged in one way, they produce vegetation and irritability; in another way, animal life and perception. Man hence arises-families are formed-society multiplies, and governments are instituted.
"The world, thus generated, is perpetually sustained by the application of fresh elementary atoms, flying with inconceivable rapidity through all the infinitude of space, invisible from their minuteness, and occupying the posts of all those that are perpetually flying off. Yet, nothing is eternal and immutable but these elementary seeds or atoms themselves, the compound forms of matter are continually decompounding, and dissolving into their original corpuscles : to this there is no exception-minerals, vegetables, and animals, in this respect all alike, when they lose their present configuration, perishing from existence for ever, and new combinations proceeding from the matter into which they dissolve. But the world itself is a compound, though not an
organized being ; sustained and nourished like organized beings, from the material pabulum that floats through the void of infinity. The world itself must, therefore, in the same manner, perish: it had a beginning, and it will eventually have an end. Its present crasis will be decompounded; it will return to its original, its elementary atoms; and new worlds will arise from its destruction.
Space is infinite, material atoms are infinite, but the world is not infinite.--This, then, is not the only world, or the only material system, that exists. The cause whence this visible system originated is competent to produce others; it has been acting perpetually from all eternity; and there are other worlds and other systems of worlds existing around us. In the vast immensity of space, there are also other beings than man, possessed of powers of intellect and enjoyment far superior to our own; beings who existed before the formation of the world, and will exist when the world shall perish for ever; whose happiness flows unlimited and unalloyed, and whom the tumults and passions of gross matter can never agitate. These, the founder of the system denominated gods ;-not that they created the universe, or are possessed of a power of upholding it; for they are finite and created beings themselves, and endowed alone with finite capacities and powers; —but from the uninterrupted beatitude and
and tranquillity they enjoy, their everlasting freedom from all anxiety and care.” p. cxi.
“ Epicurus, in the opening of a letter addressed to a favourite disciple, says, ' Believe, before all things, that God is an immortal and blessed Being; as, indeed, common sense should teach us concerning God. Con
ceive nothing of him that is repugnant to blessedness and immortality, and admit every thing that is consistent with these perfections.
“He admitted, moreover, the existence of orders of intelligences, possessed of superior powers to the human race, whom, like the angels and archangels of the Christian system, he conceived to be immortal from their nature; to have been created anterior to the formation of the world, to be endowed with far ampler faculties of enjoyment than mankind, to be formed of far purer materials, and to exist in far happier abodes. The chief difference which I have been able to discern between the immortal spirits of the Epicurean system, and of the Christian theologist, is, that while the latter are supposed to take an active part in the divine government of the world, the forner are represented as having no kind of connexion with it: since it was conceived by Epicurus that such an interference is absolutely beyond their power, and would be totally subversive of their beatitude.” p. lxvi.
Gassendi, in his tractate “ de Vitâ et Moribus Epicuri,” has a similar observation.. Yet the difference to which both he and Dr. Good advert, is not secondary and trifling, but primary, essential, and of the utmost moment. If, as Epicurus taught, it was inconsistent with the nature and being, not merely of these minor divinities but of the Supreme Deity, to give himself either diversion or disturbance by making the world ; if he encumber not himself with the care and government of it; if he dwell for ever in the extramundane spaces, exercising no inspection over mankind, nor concerning himself about their actions and affairs; if in him neither anger nor favour, complacency