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selves responsible by the indissoluble obligations of their moral nature. He was considered impious, who did not recognize his allegiance by prayer and sacrifice, by libation and festival. To these things the common people were strongly attached by long accustomed habit and hereditary veneration. It was this religious belief, erroneous as it was, which gave sanction to oaths, and cemented those moral ties by which the very elements of society are kept together. On the pillars of a false religion then, was sustained not only the lesser fabric of private society, but the vast edifice of the state. He then, who called in question the religion of his country, was thought not only irreligious, but unpatriotic, not only an impious but a dangerous man.
Not only so; the people, when they saw their religious belief called in question, not only felt themselves endangered, but insulted; for no injury ever excites a more bitter and unrelenting resentment than to call a man and his ancestors fools.
But it was impossible for Paganism to bear the examination of an enlightened mind. No man, who had reflected at all upon the necessary nature and attributes of the Designer, the Creator, the Sustainer, and Governor of all things, could worship as that perfect, eternal, and unchangeable Spirit, Jupiter the son of Saturn, who himself had once been a man and reigned in Crete. As men's minds became more and
more informed, the silly legends which were related of their deities must have seemed more and more absurd and ridiculous. The consequence was, that the discrepancy gradually became so great between the necessary deductions of reason and the dogmas of popular faith, that the more intelligent not only rejected the commonly accepted opinions, but repudiated all religious convictions. Thus Paganism became a hindrance to religion instead of an aid. In this state of things the only use that was made of it was as an engine of state. The superstitious fears of men were used to keep them in order, and grave philosophers and official dignitaries were seen to bear a part in religious rites, which they secretly smiled at, and inwardly despised. Such a state of things could not long continue, and as mass after mass rose to an intellectual level which enabled them to see through the delusion, their religious ceremonies must just as fast have lost all reverence; and that which was once sacred must have become contemptible. The condition of things then had come precisely to this, that the more enlightened part of the heathen world must have a better religion or none at all. At that juncture the Almighty saw fit to interpose, and establish a religion in the world, which would satisfy the religious wants of man, and fill all his best conceptions in all stages of his advancement to the end of
time. "When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son."
Those great and gifted men, whom God raised up as the agents in bringing about this vast advancement in the intellectual condition of the world, deserve the grateful commemoration of mankind. Though favored by no supernatural illumination, they made the best use of the light which was accorded to them, "they did what they could," and they accomplished much. I count it no irreverence to mention their names in this place consecrated to the teaching of the religion of Christ. I would not violate the reverence which all who cherish our common faith bear to the sacred and venerable name of Jesus, by exalting those men to a level with him, or by depressing him to an equality with them. To me, as I hope to you, the name of Jesus has a sacredness, which I feel for none except the Infinite Jehovah alone. He has been exalted by God to a dignity altogether unapproached. To me "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." These men stood up as the interpreters of Nature. To us Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. They were the teachers of human wisdom. In Jesus dwelt the Wisdom and Word of God. They dealt in dim and fallible probabilities. Jesus knew and demonstrated by miracle, that his doctrine was from God. They of their own wills established a few schools of philoso
phy, and gathered about them a few disciples to be scattered at their death. Jesus was sent by God to be the Saviour of the world, to lay the foundation of a society which should never cease to exist; as he himself prophesied on making his first convert, "Thou art surnamed the Rock, and upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The words of those sages are proposed to the minds of men to be accepted or rejected as may seem to them good. The words of Jesus judge the nations, and decide the destiny of the human soul.
Anaxagoras, Thales, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, were the names of the principal luminaries, which rising upon the thick darkness of the heathen world, kept up a sort of star-light after the setting of the Hebrew prophets, and before the coming of the Sun of Righteousness. About the time of the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and during the lifetime of the last writers of the Old Testament, there appeared in Athens the most remarkable man of pagan antiquity. This was Socrates, whose name and character have become the heritage of all time. In him was exhibited such a wonderful combination of intellectual wisdom and moral excellence, such a purity of life combined with active benevolence, that he has been in subsequent times the admiration not only of the heathen, but the Chris
tian world. And when we compare his life with that of the majority under the Gospel, we are forcibly reminded of the words of Christ, when he said: "Many shall come from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, and the children of the kingdom shall be cast out."
Socrates was the son of a statuary, left early in life on his own resources to support himself by the labor of his own hands. But he early discovered intellectual powers of the first order, and a thirst for knowledge which nothing could repress. Athens had already become the centre of learning and art, and almost every science had able teachers by whom the studious might be trained to usefulness and accomplishment. A wealthy citizen, discovering his ardent love of knowledge, became his patron, and by appointing him preceptor of his children, relieved him from the necessity of manual labor, and gave him an opportunity to complete his education under the best masters. He soon became the greatest mind of the city, and of the world. But what sanctified his greattalents and acquirements, and made him such a blessing to the world, was the fact, that he cultivated his moral as well as his intellectual nature. In him that pride and selfishness, which are often excited by the possession of great talents and splendid acquisitions, found no place. His heart grew with his understand