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whereas, if they did truly think that there were no such thing as God, why should they trouble themselves? Epicurus is charged that he did but dissemble, for his credit's sake, when he affirmed: "7 There were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed themselves without having respect to the government of the world.” Wherein they say he did temporize, though in secret he thought there was no God; but certainly he is traduced, for his words are noble and divine : "8 Non Deos vulgi negare profanum ; sed vulgi opiniones Diis applicare profanum.” Plato could have said no more. And although he had the confidence to deny the administration, he had not the power to deny the nature. The Indians of the West have names for their particular gods, though they have no name for God; as if the heathens should have had the names Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, &c., but not the word Deus : which shows that even those barbarous people have the notion, though they have not the latitude and extent of it; so that against Atheists the very savages take part with the very subtilest philosophers. The 10contemplative Atheist is rare; a Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian perhaps, and some others : and yet they seem to be more than they are ; 11 for that all that impugn a received religion or superstition are, by the adverse part, branded with the name of Atheists. But the great Atheists, indeed, are hypocrites, which are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must needs be cauterized in the end. The causes of Atheism are, divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce Atheism. Another is, scandal of priests ; when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith : “ 12 Non est jam dicere, ut populus, sic sacerdos ; quia nec sic populus, ut sacerdos.” A third is, custom of profane scoffing in holy matters ; which doth, by little and little, 13 deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity ; for troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. They that deny a God destroy man's nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body, and if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity and the raising of human nature : for take an example of a dog, and
mark what a generosity and courage he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man, who to him is in stead of a God or “melior natura ;" which courage is manifestly such as that creature, without that confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favour, gathereth a force and faith which human nature in itself could not obtain. Therefore, as Atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations. Never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome. Of this state hear what Cicero saith : “14 Quam volumus, licet, patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen nec numero Hispanos, nec robore Gallos, nec calliditate Poenos, nec artibus Graecos, nec denique hoc ipso hujus gentis et terrae domestico nativoque sensu Italos ipsos et Latinos ; sed pietate, ac religione, atque hâc unâ sapientiâ, quod Deorum immortalium numine, omnia regi, gubernarique perspeximus, omnes gentes nationesque superavimus."
It were better to have no opinion of God at all, than such an opinion as is unworthy of him; for the one is unbelief, the other is contumely: and certainly superstition is the reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose : “Surely," saith he, “I had rather a great deal men should say there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born," as the poets speak of Saturn. And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation, all which may be guides to an outward moral virtue though religion were not; but superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men. Therefore Atheism did never 1 perturb states ; for it makes men wary of themselves, as looking no further : and we
see the times inclined to Atheism (as the time of Augustus Caesar) were 2 civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new "primum mobile," that ravisheth all the spheres of government. The master of superstition is the people; and in all superstition wise men follow fools; and "arguments are fitted to practice in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the Council of Trent, where the doctrine of the schoolmen bare great sway :
“ That the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics, and epicycles, and such engines of orbs, to save the phenomena, though they knew there were no such things;" and in like manner that the schoolmen had framed a number of subtile and intricate axioms and theorems, to save the practice of the Church. The causes of superstition are, pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies ; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness ; over-great reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the Church ; the stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre ; the favouring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to conceits and novelties; the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations ; and lastly, barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition without a veil is a deformed thing ; for as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think to do best if they go furthest from the superstition formerly received : therefore care should be had that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad; which commonly is done when the people is the reformer.
It had been hard for 1 him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together, in few words, than in that speech : Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god : for it is most true that a natural and secret hatred and aversation towards society in any man hath somewhat of the savage beast ; but it is most untrue that it should have any character at all of the divine nature, except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire to sequester a man's self for a higher conversation, such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in some of the heathen-as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana, and truly and really in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the Church. But little do inen perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth : for a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love. The Latin adage 3 meeteth with it a little, “ Magna civitas, magna solitudo;” because in a great town friends are scattered, so that there is not that fellowship, for the most part, which is in less neighbourhoods. But we may go further, and affirm most truly that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness : and even in this sense also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings and suffocations are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind. You may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no 4 receipt openeth the heart but a true friend, to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.
It is a strange thing to observe how high a rate great kings and monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship whereof we speak ; so great, as they purchase it many times at the hazard of their own safety and greatness : for princes, in regard of the distance of their fortune from that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this fruit except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some persons to be, as it were, companions and almost equals to themselves; which many times sorteth to inconvenience. The modern languages give unto such persons the name of favourites, or privadoes, as if it were matter of grace, or conversation ; but the Roman name attaineth the true use and cause thereof, naming them “7 participes curarum,” for it is that which tieth the knot. And we see plainly that this hath been done, not by weak and passionate princes only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned ; who have oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants, whom both themselves have called friends, and allowed others likewise to call them in the same manner, using the word which is received between private men.
'L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed the Great) to that height that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla's overmatch
; for when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, and in effect bade him be quiet, “ for that more men adored the sun rising than the sun setting.” With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest, as he set him down in his testament for heir in remainder after his nephew. 10 And this was the man that had power with him to draw him forth to his death ; for when Caesar would have discharged the Senate, in regard of some ill presages, and specially a dream of Calpurnia, this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the Senate till his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth his favour was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero's Philippics, calleth him “venefica”—“witch;" as if he had enchanted Caesar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Maecenas about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him that he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa or take away his life ; there was no third way, he had made him so great. With Tiberius Caesar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they two were termed and reckoned as a pair of friends. Tiberius in a letter to him