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to be still so immutable, as to have provided for the pious soul a blissful existence after death. In his explanation of natural phenomena, he combines the notion of Heraclitus, that things were in a perpetual flux, with the Anaxagorean system of elements being not created but arranged ; while, as the last teacher of the Eleatic school, he sublimated their general theories of a creative power, in the idea more worthy of infinite greatness, of one all-perfect, self-existent Being, creating and maintaining endless series of existences, by the pervading influence of love.

The whole value of this school, in respect of intellectual research, consists in the correction of the errors of the senses by recognising thought as the peculiar element of mind. This view, especially when united, as in Empedocles, with the priestly character, elevated both his moral and perceptive value; though, amongst the numerous faults resulting from the mechanical theory of physics, life was esteemed but a series of worthless phenomena, enlightened by only a dim hope, vaguely expressed, of a blissful future. Nevertheless, the panting of the soul after its proper region induced these philosophers to cherish what they failed to prove; so that, without correcting error, they partially recognised the inherent force of truth. Like unskilful swimmers carried beyond their depth, they endeavoured, by diving into the mysteries of creation, to find some rock upon which the foot might rest in firmness and security. Who but will sympathise with Xenophanes in his lamentation over the darkness of age with no hope to light it onward to the skies? We can imagine him exclaiming in the language of the poet

“Oh! that from yonder orbs,' I thought,

• Pure and eternal as they are,
There could to earth some power be brought;

Some charm with their own essence fraught,
To make man deathless as a star;

And open to his vast desires,
A course as boundless and sublime,

As lies before those comet-fires,

That roam and burn throughout all time!'" If indeed anything can enhance the value of Christianity, it is the sure and certain fruition which, in contrast to dubious speculation, it proffers to all those who “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for” the spiritual believer in Jesus, “ kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1 Pet. i. 4, 5.

CHAPTER IV.

THE SOPHISTS.

The tendency of the human mind to seek out

many inventions," and thus to obscure even the slight knowledge which it is able unaided to ascertain, is clearly manifested in the history of the Sophists. This sect sprang from the insufficiency of former doctrines to solve the problem of existence, and ended in a total denial of truth as universally valid, or of right as existing otherwise than by convention. Even this irrational school, however, has its defenders ; in fact, its extreme impudence seems to have elicited a debased and morbid admiration, though its peculiar characteristic was to depreciate religious sentiment by taking advantage of conflicting opinions, and to involve the moral principle in the incredulity of universal doubt.

This depraved tendency was increased by the

a

corruption of the rhetorical art, which, by the Sophists, was perverted, under the specious pretext of a scientific doctrine of fallacies, into the promulgation of corrupt knowledge, and a spirit of incredulous investigation. The progress of error was rapid. As the mind of the Grecian youth became imbued with contempt for the vicious representations and heathen legends of the gods, so in the absence of revealed truth, for “ the world by wisdom knew not God," the transition was easy to a denial both of reward for the righteous, and of a God that judgeth the world. Sophistical argument, by which evil appeared good, and good evil, engrossed the attention alike of the teacher and the pupil, until both were speedily involved in total scepticism ; and the only benefits which accrued from the labours of those professors who used the Sophistical art in the education of youth, were an improvement in style, and greater accuracy in logical definition. These, indeed, it must be confessed, afforded greater capability to the schools of Socrates and his successors to discern truth from its counterfeit error; but it will appear that the accuracy of the perceptive was dearly purchased by the corruption of the moral

power. With dexterous ambiguity, we find the Sophists adapting their theories sufficiently to previous systems, to throw a suspicious character over all; they have equal affinity to the Eleatic, the Ionic; in fact, in one aspect, even to the Pythagorean systems. Chameleon-like, their colour varies according to the hue of each subject upon which they rest; and they figure before us as the very Jesuits of philosophy.

The first that will come under our notice are Leucippus and Democritus, or, as they are sometimes called, the Atomists. Leucippus, a disciple of Zeno Eleates, was the founder of a new school, brought subsequently into repute by Democritus. His personal history is little known, but his philosophical researches seem to have been restricted to physics. He taught that the universe was an infinite vacuum, in which material atoms floated, combining from mutual attraction, into different bodies perceivable by the senses : the action, however, of these atoms was not spontaneous, for a certain necessity impelled them to constant change. For his general tenets we must refer to Democritus, who expounded them more fully, and whose life presents details of a far greater import and certainty; in fact, this philosopher

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