Theological Institutes

Part First - Evidences of The Divine Authority of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 6

The Necessity of Revelation;-State of Religious Knowledge among the Heathen.

SEVERAL presumptive arguments have been offered in favour of the opinion, that almighty God in his goodness has made an express reve­lation of his will to mankind. They have been drawn from the fact, that we are moral agents, and therefore under a law or rule of conduct-from the consideration that no law can be binding till made known, or at least rendered cognizable by those whom it is intended to govern- from time inability of the generality of men to collect any adequate information on moral and religious subjects by processes of induction-from the insufficiency of reason, even in the wisest, to make any satisfactory discovery of the first principles of religion and duty-from the want of all authority and influence in such discoveries, upon the majority of mankind, had a few minds of superior order and with more favourable opportunities been capable of making them-from the fact that no such discovery was ever made by the wisest of the ancient sages, inasmuch as the truths they held were in existence before their day, even in the earliest periods of the patriarchal ages-and from the fact, that whatever truths they collected from early tradition, or from the descendants of Abraham, mediately or immediately, they so corrupted under the pretence of improving them,[1] as to destroy their harmony and moral influence, thereby greatly weakening the probability that immoral truth was ever an object of the steady and sincere pursuit of men. To these presumptions in favour of an express revelation, written, preserved with care, and appointed to be preached and published under the authority of its author, for time benefit of all, wise or unwise, we may add the power­ful presumption which is afforded by the necessity of the case. This necessity of a revelation is to be collected, not only from what has been advanced, but from the state of moral and religious knowledge and practice, in those countries where the records which profess to contain the Mosaic and the Christian revelations have been or are still unknown.

The necessity of immediate Divine instruction was acknowledged by many of the wisest and most inquiring of the heathen, under the con­viction of the entire inability of man unassisted by God to discover truth with certainty,-so greatly had the primitive traditional revelations been obscured by errors before the times of the most ancient of those sages among the heathen, whose writings have in whole or in part been trans­mitted to us, and so little confidence had they in themselves to separate truth from error, or to say, "This is true and that false." And as the necessity of an express and authenticated revelation was acknowledged, so it was publicly exhibited, because on the very first principles of reli­gion and morals, there was either entire ignorance, or no settled and consonant opinions, even among the wisest of mankind themselves. [2]

Some proofs of this have already been adduced; but the importance of the subject requires that they should be enlarged.

Though the belief of one Supreme Being has been found in many parts of the world, yet the notion of subordinate deities, the immediate dispensers of good and evil to men, and the objects of their fear and worship, has almost equally obtained; and this of necessity destroyed or greatly counteracted the moral influence of that just opinion.

"The people generally among the Gentiles," says Dr. Tenison, did rise little higher than the objects of sense. They worshipped them each as supreme in their kind, or no otherwise unequal than the sun, and the moon, or the other celestial bodies, by the adoration of which the ancient idolaters, as Job intimateth, denied (or excluded) the God that is above. Porphyry himself, one of the most plausible apologists for the religion of the Gentiles, doth own in some the most gross and blockish idolatry of mean objects. lie tells us that it is not a matter of which we should be amazed, if most ignorant men esteemed wood and stone Divine statues; seeing they who are unlearned look upon monuments which have inscriptions upon them as ordinary stones, and regard books as so many bundles of paper." (Discourse on Idolatry, p. 50.)

The modern idolatry of Hindostan, which in principle differs nothing from that of the ancient world, affords a striking comment upon this point, and indeed is of great importance in enabling us to conceive justly of the true character and practical effects of idolatry in all ages. One Supreme Being is acknowledged by the Hindoos, but they never wor­ship him, nor think that he concerns himself with human affairs at all.

The Hindoos believe in one God, so completely abstracted in his own essence, however, that in this state lie is emphatically the unknown, and is consequently neither the object of hope nor of fear; he is even destitute of intelligence, and remains in a state of profound repose." (Ward's Hindoo Mythology, vol. ii, p. 306.)

"This Being," says Moore, (Hindoo Pantheon, p. 132,) "is called Brahm, one eternal mind, the self-existing, incomprehensible Spirit. To him, however, the Hindoos erect no altars. The objects of their adorationtion commence with the Triad,-Brahma, Vishnu, and Seva, which re­present the almighty powers of creation, preservation, and destruction."

The learned among the classic heathen, it is true, occasionally speak nobly concerning God and his attributes; but at the same time they were led by their own imaginations and reasonings to conclusions, which neutralize the effect of their sublimer conceptions and often con­tradict them. The eternity of matter, for instance, was held by the Greek and Roman philosophers and by their preceptors in the oriental schools, who thought it absolutely impossible that any thing should be produced from nothing, thus destroying the notion of creation in its proper sense, and of a Supreme Creator. This opinion, as Bishop Stillingfleet shows, (Origines Sacrae, I. iii, c. 2,) is contrary to the om­nipotence and independence of God, and is a great abatement of those correct views which the words of the ancient philosophers would seem sometimes to express. [3]

It had another injurious effect; it destroyed the interesting doctrine of Divine government as to those natural evils to which men are subject. These they traced to the unchangeable and eternal nature of matter, which even the Supreme God could not control. Thus Seneca says, (De Provid. cap. 5,) "that evil things happen to good men, quia non potest Artifex mutare materiam, because God the Artificer could not change matter; and that a magno Artifice multa formantur prava, many things were made ill by the great 4rtificer; not that he wanted art, but through the stubbornness of matter," in which they generally agree. This opinion of theirs was brought from the oriental schools, where it had been long received; nor was it confined to Egypt and Chaldea, It was one of the dogmas which Confucius taught in China in the filth century before Christ, that out of nothing that which is cannot be pro­duced, and that material bodies must have existed from all eternity. From this notion it follows, that there is no calamity to which we are not liable, and that God himself is unable to protect us from it. Prayer is useless, and trust in him is absurd. The noble doctrine of the infliction of misery by a wise and gracious Being for our correction and improvement, so often dwelt upon in Scripture, could have no place in a system which admitted this tenet; God could neither be "a refuge in trouble," nor a Father, "correcting us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." What they knew of God was therefore, by such speculations, rendered entirely unprofitable.

But a worse consequence resulted from this opinion. By some of them the necessary obliquity and perverseness of matter was regarded not only as the source of natural, but also of moral evil; by which they either made sin necessary and irresistible, or found in this opinion much to palliate it.

Others refer moral evil to a natural principle of evil, an evil god, "emulous of the good God," which Plutarch says,[4] is a tradition of great antiquity, derived "from the divines ax qeologwn and lawgivers to the poets and philosophers, whose first author cannot be found." But whether natural and moral evil be traced to an eternal and uncontrollable matter, or to an eternal and independent anti-god, it is clear that the notion of a Supreme Deity, as contained in the Scriptures, and as conceived of by modern Theists, who have borrowed their light from them, could have no existence in such systems; and that by making moral evil necessary, men were taught to consider it as a misfortune rather than a crime, and were thus in fact encouraged to commit it by regarding it as unavoidable.

In like manner, though occasionally we find many excellent things said of the providence of God, all these were weakened or destroyed by other opinions. The Epicurean sect denied the doctrine, and laid it down as a maxim, "that what was blessed and immortal gave neither any trouble to itself nor to others;" a notion which exactly agrees with the system of the modern Hindoos. "According to the doctrine of Aris­totle, God resides in the celestial sphere, and observes nothing, and cares for nothing beyond himself. Residing in the first sphere, he pos­sesses neither immensity nor omnipresence; far removed from the inferior parts of the universe, he is not even a spectator of what is pass­ing among its inhabitants." (Enfield's History of Philosophy, lib. ii, cap. 9.) The Stoics contended for a providence, but in their creed it was counteracted by the doctrine of an absolute necessity, or fate, to which God and matter, or the universe, which consists, as they thought, of both, was immutably subject; and where they allow it, they confine the care of the gods to great affairs only.

The Platonists, and the followers of Pythagoras believed that all things happened kata qeian wronoian, according to Divine providence; but this they overtlmrew by joining fortune with God. "God, fortune, and opportunity," says Plato, "govern all the affairs of men." (De Leg. lib. 4.)

To them also there were "Lords many and gods many:" and wherever Polytheism is admitted, it is as destructive of the doctrine of providence as fate, though by a different process. The fatalist makes all things fixed and certain, and thus excludes government; the Polytheist gives up the government of the world to innumerable opposing and contrary wills, and thus makes every thing uncertain. If the favour of one deity be propitiated, the wrath of another, equally or more powerful, may be provoked; or the gods may quarrel among themselves. Such is the only providence which can be discovered in the Iliad of Homer, and the AEneid of Virgil, poems which unquestionably embody the popular belief of the times in which they were written. The same confused and contradictory management of the affairs of men, we see in all modern idolatrous systems, only that with length of duration they appear to have become more oppressive and distracting. Where so many deities are essentially malignant and cruel to men; where demons are supposed to have power to afflict and to destroy at pleasure; and where aspects of the stars, and the screams of birds, and other ominous circumstances, are thought to have an irresistible influence upon the fortunes of life, and th occurrences of every day; and especially where, to crown the whole, there is an utter ignorance of one supreme controlling infinite mind, or his existence is denied; or he who is capable of exercising such a super­intendence as might render him the object of hope, is supposed to be totally unconcerned with human affairs; there can be no ground of firm trust, no settled hope, no permanent consolation. Timidity and gloom tenant every bosom, and in many instances render life a burden.[5]

Another great principle of religion is the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments; and though in some form it is recognized in pagan systems, and the traditions of the primitive ages may be traced in their extravagant perversions and fables; its evidence was either greatly diminished, or it was mixed up with notions entirely subversive of the moral effect which it was originally intended to produce.

Of the ancient Chaldean philosophy, not much is known. In its best state it contained many of the principles of the patriarchal religion; but at length, as we find from Scripture, it degenerated into the doctrine of judicial astrology, which is so nearly allied to fatalism, as to subvert the idea of the present life being a state of probation, and the future a state of just and gracious rewards and punishments.

Ancient writers differ as to the opinions of the learned of Egypt on the human soul. Diodorus Siculus says, they believed its immortality, and time future existence of the just among the gods. Herodotus ascribes to them the doctrine of transmigration. Both may be recon­ciled. The former doctrine was the most ancient, the latter was in­duced by that progress of error which we observe among all nations. Another subtle notion grew up with it, which infected the philosophy of Greece, and, spreading throughout Asia, has done more to destroy the moral effect of a belief in the future existence of man, than any other, This was, t tat God is the soul of the world," from which all human spirits came, and to which they will return, some immediately, and others through long courses of transmigration. The doctrine of ancient revelation, of which this was a subtle and fatal perversion, is obvious. The Scripture account is, that the human soul was from God by creation; the refinement of pagan philosophy, that it is from him by emanation, or separation of essence, anti still remains a separate portion of God, seek­ing its return to him. With respect to the future, revelation always taught, that the souls of the just return to God at death, not to lose their individuality, but to be united to him in holy and delightful communion: the philosophic perversion was, that the parts so separated from God, and connected for a time with matter, would be reunited to the great source by refusion, as a drop of water to the ocean. [6] Thus philosophy refined upon the doctrine of immortality until it converted it into annihilation itself for so it is in the most absolute sense as to distinct consciousness and personality. The prevalence of this notion under different modifications is indeed very remarkable.

Bishop Warburton proves that this opinion was held not merely by the Atheistical and skeptical sects among the Greeks, but by what he calls the Philosophic Quaternion of dogmatic Theists, the four renowned schools, the PYTHAGORIC, the PLATONIC, the PERIPATETIC, and the STOIC; and on this ground argues, that though the taught the doc­trine of future rewards and punishments to the populace, as a means of securing their obedience to the laws, they themselves did not believe what they propagated; and in this he was doubtless correct. With future reward and punishment, in the proper and commonly received sense in all ages, this notion was entirely incompatible. He observes, "And that the reader may not suspect these kind of phrases, that the soul is part of God, discerpted from him, of his nature, which per­petually occur in the writings of the ancients, to be only highly figurate expressions, anti not to be measured by time severe standard of metaphysical propriety, he is desired to take notice of one consequence drawn from this principle, and universally held by antiquity, which was this, that the soul was eternal a parte ante, as well as a parte post, which the Latins well express by the word sempiternus. But when time ancients are said to hold the pre and post existence of time soul, and therefore to attribute a proper eternity to it, we must not suppose that they under­stood it to be eternal in its distinct and peculiar existence; but that it was discerpted from the substance of God in time, and would in time be rejoined and resolved into it again; which they explained by a bottle's being filled with sea water, that swimming there awhile, on the bottle's breaking, flowed in again, and mingled with time common mass. They only differed about the time of this reunion and resolution, the greater part holding it to be at death; but the Pythagoreans not till after many transmigrations. The Platonists went between these two opinions, and rejoined pure and unpolluted souls, immediately on death, to the uni­versal Spirit. But those which had contracted much defilement, were sent into a succession of other bodies, to purge and purify them before they returned to their parent substance."

Some learned men have denied the consequence which Warburton wished to establish from these premises, and consider the resorption of these sages as figurative, and consequently compatible with distinct consciousness and individuality. The researches, however, since that time made into the corresponding philosophy of the Hindoos, bear this acute and learned man out to the full length of his conclusion. "God, as separated from matter, the Hindoos contemplate as a being reposing in his own happiness, destitute of ideas; as infinite placidity; as an un­ruffled sea of bliss; as being perfectly abstracted and void of conscious­ness. They therefore deem it the height of perfection to be like this being. The person whose very nature, say they, is absorbed in Divine meditation; whose life is like a sweet sleep, unconscious and undisturbed; who does not even desire God, and who is changed into the image of the ever blessed, obtains absorption into Brumhu." (Ward's View of the Hindoos, 8vo, vol. ii, p. 177-8.) And that this doctrine of absorption is taken literally, is proved, not merely by the terms in which it is ex­pressed, though these are sufficiently unequivocal; but by its being opposed by some of the followers of Vishnoo, and by a few also of their philosophers. Mr. Ward quotes Jumudugnee, as an exception to the common opinion: he says, "The idea of losing a distinct existence by absorption, as a drop is lost in the ocean, is abhorrent. It is pleasant to feed on sweetmeats, but no one wishes to be the sweetmeat itself." So satisfactorily is this point made out against the "wisdom of this world;-by it the world neither knew God nor man.

Another notion equally extensive and equally destructive of the original doctrines of the immortality of the human soul, and a state of future re­wards and punishments, which sprung up in the Egyptian schools, and was from thence transmitted into Greece, India, and throughout all Asia, was that of a periodical destruction and renovation of all things. "They conceived," says Diodorus Siculus, "that the universe undergoes a periodical conflagration, after which all things were to be restored to their primitive form, to pass again through a similar succession of changes." The primitive tenet, of which this was a corruption, is also evident; and it affords another singular instance of the subtlety and mischief of that spirit of error which operated with so much activity in early times, that the doctrine of the destruction of the world, and the consequent termination of the probationary state of the human race preparatory to the general judgment, an awful and most salutary revelation, should have. been so wrought into philosophic theory, and so surrounded with poetic embellishment, as to engage the intellect, and to attract time imagination, only the more effectually to destroy the great moral of a doctrine which was not denied, and covertly to induce an entire unbelief in the eternal future existence of man.

As the Stoics held that all inferior divinities and human souls were portions separated from the soul of the world, and would return into the first celestial fire, so they supposed, that at the same time the whole visible world would be consumed in one general conflagration. "Then," says Seneca, "after an interval the world will be entirely renewed, every animal will be reproduced, and a race of men free from guilt will repeople the earth. Degeneracy and corruption are however to creep. in again, and the same process is to go on for ever." (Ep. 9.) This too is the Brahminical notion: "The Hindoos are taught to believe that at the end of every Calpa (creation or formation) all things are absorbed in the Deity, and at a stated time the creative power will again be called into action." (Moore's Hindoo Pantheon.) And though the system of the Budhists denies a Creator, it holds the same species of revolution. "They are of opinion that the universe is eternal, at least they neither know it had a beginning, or will have an end; that it is homogeneous, and composed of an infinite number of similar worlds, each of which is a likeness of the other, and each of which is in a constant state of alteration,-not stationary for a moment,-at the instant of greatest perfection beginning to decline, and at the moment of greatest chaotic ruin beginning to regenerate. They compare such changes to a wheel in motion perpetually going round." (Dr. Davey's Account of Ceylon.)

But other instances of darkness and error among even civilized hea­thens respecting the human soul, and a future state are not wanting; for it is a fact which ought never to be lost sight of in these inquiries, that among pagans, opinions on these subjects have never been either cer­tain or rational; and that error once received has in no instance been exchanged for truth; but has gone on multiplying itself, and assuming an infinite variety of forms.

The doctrine of Aristotle and the Peripatetics gives no countenance to the opinion of the soul's immortality, or even of its existence after death. Democritus and his followers taught, that the soul is material and mor­tal; Heraclitus, that when the soul is purified from moist vapours, it returns into the soul of the universe; if not, it perishes: Epicurus and his followers, that "when death is, we are not." The leading men among the Romans, when philosophy was introduced among them, fol­lowed the various Greek sects. We have seen the uncertainty of Cicero.[7]  Pliny declares, that "non magis a morte sensus ullus aut animae aut corpori quam ante natalem, the soul and body have no more sense after death, than before we were born." (Nat. Hist. lib. 7, cap. 55.) Caesar, "that beyond death there is neque cure neque gaudis locum, neither place for care or joy." (Sallust. Be Bello Catil. sec. 5.) Seneca in his 102d epistle speaks of a Divine part within us, which joins us to the gods; and tells Lucilius, "that the day which he fears as his last aeterni natalis est, is the birth-day of eternity;" but then he says, he was willing to hope it might be so, on time account of some great men, rem gratissiman promillentium magis quam probantium, who promised what they could not prove ;" and on other occasions he speaks out plainly, anti says that death makes us incapabable of good or evil. The poets, it is true, spoke of a future state of rewards and punishments; they had the joys of Elysiumn amid the tortures of Tartarus; but both philosophers and poets regarded them as vulgar fables. Virgil does not hide this, and numerous quotations of the same import might be given both from him and others of their poets.

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas;

Atquo metus omues et inexorabile fatum

Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari !"-Georg. 2, 1. 490, &c

Happy the man, whose vigorous soul can pierce

Through the formation of this universe,

Who nobly dares despise, with soul sedate,

The din of Acheron, and vulgar fears and fate.-Warton.

Nor was the skepticism and unbelief of time wise and great long kept from the vulgar, among whom they wished to maintain the old super­stitions as instruments by which they might be controlled. Cicero complains, that the common people in his day mostly followed the doctrine of Epicurus.

Since then these erroneous and mischievous views concerning God providence, and a future state, or the total denial of all of them, are found to have resulted from the rejection or loss of the primitive traditions; and farther as it is clear that such errors are totally subversive of the fundamental principles of morals and religion, and afford inducement to the commission of every species of crime without remorse, or fear of punishment; the necessity of a republication of these great doctrines in an explicit and authentic manner, and of institutions for teaching and enforcing them upon all ranks of men, is evident; and whatever proof may be adduced for the authentication of the Christian revelation, it can never be pretended, that a revelation to restore these great principles was not called for by the actual condition of man; and, in proportion to the necessity of the case, is the strength of the presumption that one has been mercifully afforded.


[1] Plato, in his Epinominis, acknowledges that time Greeks learned many things from the barbarians, though he asserts, that they improved what they thus borrowed, and made it better, especially in what related to the worship of the gods. (Plat. Oper. p. 703. Edit. Ficin. Lugd. 1590.)

[2]  (6) Plato, beginning his discourse of the gods and the generation of the world, cautions his disciples "not to expect any timing beyond a likely conjecture concern­ing these things." Cicero, referring to the same subject, says, "Latent ista om nia crassis occulta et circumfusa tenebris, all these things are involved in deep obscurity."

The following passage from the same author mummy be recommended to the consideration of modern exalters of the power of unassisted reason. Time treasures of the philosophy of past ages were poured at his feet, and he had studied every branch of human wisdom, with astonishing industry and acuteness, yet he ob­serves, " Quod si tales nos natura genuisset, ut earn ipsam intueri, et persieer eademque optima duce cursum vita conficere hmossemus; hand era sane quod quisquam rationem, ac doctrinam requireret. Nunc parvulos nobis dedit igni~ culos, quos celeriter malls moribus, opinionibusque depravati sic restinguimus, ut husquam naturae lumen appareat. If we had come into the world in such cir­cumstances, as that we could clearly and distinctly have discerned nature herself, and have been able in the course of our lives to follow her true and uncorrupted directions, this alone might have been sufficient, and there would have been little need of teaching and instruction; but now nature has given us only some has­ small sparks of right reason, which we so quickly extinguish with corrupt opinions and evil practices, that the true light of nature nowhere appears." (Tusc. Quaest. 3.)

The same author, (Tusc. Quaest. 1,) having reckoned up the opinions of philosophers as .to the soul's immortality, concludes thus, "Harum sententiarum quae vera eat Dous aliquis viderit, quae versimillima eat, magna quaestio eat. Which of these opinions is true, some god must tell us; which is most like truth, is a great question." Jamblicus, speaking of the principles of Divine worship, saith:

It is manifest that those things are to be done which arc pleasing to God; but what they are, it is not easy to know, except a man were taught them by God himself, or by some person who had received them from God, or obtained the knowledge of them by some Divine means." (Jamb. in Vit. Pythag. c. 28.)

[3] (7) When we meet with passages in the writings of heathens which recommend moral virtues, and speak in a fit and becoming manner of God, we are apt from our more elevated knowledge of these subjects to attach more correct and precise ideas to the terms used, than the original writers themselves, and to give them credit for better views than they entertained. It is one proof, that though some of them speak, for instance, of God seeing and knowing all things, they did not conceive of the omniscience of God in the manner in which that attribute is explained by those who have learned what God is from his own words; that some of the pagan philosophers who lived after the Christian era, complain that the Christians had introduced a very troublesome and busy God, who did "in

omnium mores, actus, omnium verba denique, et occultas cogitationes diligenter

inquirere, diligently inquire into the manners, actions, words, and secret thoughts of all men." Cicero, too, denies the foreknowledge of God, and for the same reason which has been urged against it in modern times by some who, for the time at least, have closed their eyes upon the testimony of the Scriptures on this point, and been willing, in order to serve a favourite theory, to go back to the obscurity of pagainism. The difficulty with him is, that prescience is inconsistent with Contingency. Mihi ne in Deum cadere videatur ut sciat quid casu et fortuito tuturum sit; si onim scit, certe illud eveniet ; si carte eveniet, nulla fortuna est; est autem fortuna, reruru ergo fortuitarum nulla praesensio est. (De Fato. n.12, 13.)

[4] Do Isid. et Osir,-Dr. Cudworth thinks that Plutarch has indulged in an overstrained assertion: but the confidence with which the philosopher speaks is at least a proof of the great extent of this opinion.

[5] The testimony of missionaries, who see the actual effects of paganism in the different countries where they labour, is particularly valuable. On the point mentioned in the text, the Wesleyan missionaries thus speak of the state of the Cingalese :-" We feel ourselves incapable of giving you a full view of the de­plorable state of a people, who believe that all things are governed by chance; who find malignant gods, or devils, in every planet, whose influence over man­kind they consider to be exceeding great, and the agents who inflict all the evil that men suffer in the world. A people so circumstanced need no addition to their miseries, but are objects toward which Christian pity will extend itself, as far as the voice of their case can reach. They are literally, through fear of death, or malignant demons, all their lifetime subject to bondage."

[6] "Interim tamen viz ulli fucre (quae humanae mentis caligo, atque imbecil. litas est,) qui non inciderint in errorem illum do ref usione in Animam mundi. Nimirum, sicut existimarunt singulorum animas particulas ease animae mundanae quarum quaelibet suo corpora, ut aqua vase, effluere, ac animae mundi, e qua deducta fuerit, iterum uniri." (GASSENDI Animado. in Lib. 10, Diog Laertii, p. 550.)

[7] From the philosophical works of Cicero it may be difficult to collect his own opinions, as he chiefly occupies himself in explaining those of others; but in his epistles to his friends, when, as Warburton observes, we see the man divested of the politician, and the sophist, be professes his disbelief of a future state in the frankest manner. Thus in lib. 6, epis 3, to Torquatus, written in order to console him in the unfortunate state of the affairs. of their party, he observes: "Sed haec consolatio levis est; illa gravior, qua te uti spero; ego certe utor. Nec enim dum ero, angar ulla re, cum omni vacem culpa; et si non ero sensu omnino carebo. But there is another and a far higher consolation, which I hope is your support, as it certainly is mine. For so long as I shall preserve my innocence, I will never while I exist be anxiously disturbed at any event that may happen; and if I shall cease to exist, all sensibility must cease with me."

Similar expressions are found in his letters to Toranius, to Lucius Mescinius, and others, which those who wish to prove him a believer in the soul's immortality endeavour to account for by supposing that he accommodated his sentiments to the principles of his friends. A singular solution, and one which scarcely can be seriously adopted, since in the above cited passage he so strongly expresses what is his own opinion, and hopes that his friend takes refuge in the samo Consolation. It may be allowed that Cicero alternated between unbelief and doubt; but never I think between doubt and certainty. The last was a point to which he never seems to have reached