« ForrigeFortsett »
it avail us, that our Consciences are hidden from Men, when our Souls lie open to God? What could a Christian have spoken more to the purpose in this case, than this divine Pagan? And in the Beginning of the same Work, fays Seneca, "That is it that we do? To what end is it to stand contriving, and to hide ourselves? We are under a Guard, and there's no escaping from our Keeper, One Man may be parted from another by Travel, Death, Sickness: But there's no dividing us from ourselves. It is to no purpose to creep into a Corner where no body shall fee us. Ridiculous Madness! Make it the Case that no mortal Eye could find us out. He that has a Con. science, gives Evidence agaiost himself.
It is truly and excellently spoken of Lib. 6. Cap. 25. Seneca, says Lactantius once again ;
Confider, says he, the Majesty, the Goodness and the venerable. Mercies of the Almighty; a Friend that is always at hand. What delight can it be to him, the Slaughter of innocent Creatures, or the Wor• fhip of bloody Sacrifices ? Let us purge our Minds, and lead virtuous and honest Lives. His Pleasure lies not in the Magnificence of Temples, made with Stone, but in the Piety and Devotion of consecrated Hearts. In the Book thai Seneca wrote against Superstitions,
treating of Images, says St. Austin, he De Civ. Dei writes thus, They represent the holy, Lib. 6. Cap. io. the immortal, and the inviolable Gods,
in the baseft Manner, and without Life or Motion : In the Forms of Men, Beasts, Fishes ; some of mixed Bodies; and those Figures they call Deities which, if they were but animated, would affright a Man, and pass for Monsters. And then a little farther, treating of natural Theology; after citing the opinions of Philosophers, he supposes an Objection against himself: Some body will perhaps ask me; Would you have me then to believe the Heavens, and the Earth to be God's; and Some of them above the Moon, and fome below it? Thall I ever be brought to the Opinion of Plato, or of Strato the Peripatetic: The one of which would have God to be without a Body, and the other without a Mind? To which he replies ; And, Do you give more Credit then. 80 the Dreams of T.Tatius, Romulus and Hoftilius, who
caused among other Deities, even Fear and Palenels to be worshipped ? The vileft of human Affections ; the one being the Motion of an affrighted Mind; and the other, not so much the Disease, as the Colour of a difordered Body. Are these the Deities that you will rather put your Faith in, and place in the Heavens ? And speaks ing afterwards of their abominable Caftoms, with what Liberty does he write? One, fays' be, out of Zeal, makes himself an Eunuch ; another lances his Arm: If this be the way to please their Gods, what should a Man do if he had a mind to anger them? Or if this be the way to please them, they do certainly deserve not to be worshipped at all. What a Phrenzy is this, to imagine, that che Gods can be delighted with such Cruelties, as even the worst of Men would make a Conscience to inflict ! The most barbarous and notorious of Tyrants, fome of them have perhaps done it themselves, or ordered the tearing of Men to Pieces by others; but they never went fo far, as to command any Man to torment himself. We have heard of those that have suffered Caftration, to gratify the Lust of their imperioas Masters; but never any Man that was forced to act it upon himself. They murder themselves in their very Temples, and their Prayers are offered
in Blood. Whosoever shall but observe what they do, and what they suffer, will find it so misbecoming an honest Man, fo unworthy of a Freeman, and fo inconsistent with the Action of a Man, in his Wits, that he must conclude them all to be mad, if it were not that there are so many of them; for only their Number is their Justification, and their Protection.
When he comes to reflect, says St. Auguftine, upon those Palfages which he himself had seen in the Capitol, ke censures them with Liberty and Resolution : And no Man will believe that such Things would be done, unless in Mockery or Phrenzy. What Lamentation is there in the Egyptian Sacrifices for the Loss of Osiris! And then what Joy for the finding of him again? Which he makes himself Sport with ; for, in truth it is all a Fiction : and yet those people, that neither lost anything, nor found any thing, must express their Sorrows, and their Rejoicings, to the highest Degree: But their is only a certain Time, Says he, for this Freak, and once in a Year Peo
Quæstor, then Prætor, and some will have it that he was chosen Consul; but this is doubtful.
Seneca finding that he had ill Offices done him at Court, and that Nero's Favour began to cool; he went directly and resolutely to Nero with an offer to refund all that he had gotten. Which Nero would not receive; but, however, from that time, he changed his Course of Life, received few Visits, shuned Company, went little abroad; still pretending to be kept at home, either by Indisposition, or by Study. Being Nero's Tutor and Governor, all things went well, fo long as Nero followed his Coun. fel." His two chief Favourites were. Burrhus and Se. neca, svho were both of them excellent in their ways : Burrhus in his care of Military Affairs, and Severity of Discipline; Séneca for his Precepts and good Advice in the matter of Eloquence, and the Gentleness of an honelt Mind : Afflting one another in the flippery Age of the Prince, (says Tacitus) to invite him by the allowance of lawful Pleafures, to the love of Virtue, Seneca had two Wives; the Name of the fint is not mentioned; his second was Paulina s whom he oftea Speaks of with great Pasion. By the former he had his son Marcus:
In the firlt year of Claudius he was Banished into Gore fica, when Julia the Daughter of Germanicus was accured by Mefalina of Adultery, and banilhed too ; Seneca being charged as one of the adulterers.'s After a matter of eight Years and upwards in Exile, he was called back, and as much in Favour again as ever." His Efate was partly patrimonial, but the greatest Part of it was the Bounty of his Prince. His Gardens, Villas, Lands, PofSeffions, and libcredible Sums of Money, ate agreed upon ar all hands zowhich dréwidn Envy upon him. Dis reports him to have bim had 2500col. Sterling at Interest in Brilany alone, which he called in all at a Sum. The Court itself could not bring him to Flattery and, for his 'Piety, Submiffion gladd Virtue, the Practices of his whole Life and is do briswitnesses for himno visofoon, says he; Da Icecliborza: las the Candle ibraken away my wife, 241 20 COMH ethav koolws my cuftont, lies fili; withi out'a Wordlfpeaking: andiahko do bsrecollect all that have said, or donerkthat. Dayziland take myself to Shrift. And why should I conceal, or referre any things or make
ET apy Scruple of enquiring into , when I can say
Do lo no more, and once I'd forgive. thee? And again, What can be more pious, and self-denying than this Passage, in one of his Epistles ? Believe me now, when I tell you the very Bottom of my Soul: In all the Difficulties Epistle 96. and Crosses of my Life, this is my Con., fideration ; since it is God's Will, I do not only obey, but aslėpt to it; 'nor do I comply, out of Necesity, buç
Here follows now, says Tacitus, the Death of Seneca, to Nero's great Satisfaction : Not so much for any preg. pant Proof against him, that he was of Pifo's Confpiracy; but Nero was resolved to do that by the Sword, which he could not effect by Poison. For it is reported that New to had corrupted Cleonicus (a Freeman of Seneca's), to give his Master Poiron, which did not fucceed. Whether that the Servant had discovered it to his Maltér, or that Seneca by his own Caution and Jealousy had avoided it; for he lived only upon a simple Diet, as the Fruits of the Farth; and his Drink was most commonly River Water.
Natalis, it seems, was sent upon a Visit to him, (being indifpofed) with a Compliment, That he would not let, Pifo came at him; and advising him to the Continuance of their Friendship and Acquaintance, as formerly. To whom Seneca made Answer, that frequent Meetings and Conferences betwixt them, could do neither of them any good; but that he had a great loterest in Pifo's Welfare: Hareupon Granius Sylvanus (a Captain of the Guard, was. fent to examine Seneca upon the Discourse that passed be. tivixt him and Natalis, and to return his Answer. See noca, either by Chance, or on Purpose, came that Day from Campania, to a Villa of his own, within four Miles of the City; and thither the Officer went the next Evening, and befet the Place. He found Seneca at Supper with his Wife Paulina, and two of his Friends ; and gave him immediately an Account of his 'Commission, Seneca teld him, that it was true, that Natalis had been with him in Pifo's Name, with a Complaint, that Pifo could not be admitted to see him: and that he excused himself by Reafon of his want of Health, and his Desire to be quiet and private, and that he had no Reason to prelos
another Man's Welfare before his own Cefar himself he said, knew very well, that he was not a Man of Com: pliment; having received more Proofs of of his Freedom, thab of his Flattery. This Answer of Seneca's was delivered to Cæfar in the presence of Poppaa and Tigellinys, the intimate Confidents of this barbarous Prince ; and Nero asked him, Whether he could gather any thing From Seneca, as if be intended to make himself away The Tribune's Answer was, That he did not find him one jot moved with the Meffage : But that he went on round: ly with his Tale, and never fo much as changed Countenance for the Matter. Go back to him then, says Nero, and tell him, That he is condemned to die. Fabius Ruo. Aicus delivers it, That the Tribune did not return the fame way he came, but went aside to Fenius, (a Captain of that Name) and told him Cæfar's Orders, asking his Advice, whether he should obey them, or not ; who bad him by all means to do as he was ordered. Which waot of Resolution was fatal to them all; for Silvanus also, that was one of the Conspirators, affifted now to serve, and to it.crease those Crimes, which he had before complotted to revenge. And yet
he did not think fit to appear himself in the Busipels, but sent a Centurion to Seo neca, to tell bis Doom. Seneca without any Surprize, or Disorder, calls for his will; which being refused him by the Officer, he turned to his Friends, and told them, That Gince he was not permitted to requite them, as they deserved, he was yet at Liberty to bequeathe them the Thing of all others that he e teemed the most, that is the Image of his Life: which should give them the Reputation both of Constancy and Friendship, if they would but imitate it; exhorting them to a firmgess of Mind, sometimes by good Counsel, otherwhile by Reprehension, as the Occasion required. Where, says he, is all your Philosophy gow?', all your premeditated Refolutions against the violences of Fortune ? Is there any Man fo ignorant of Nero's Cruelty, as to expect, after the Murder of his Mother, and his Brother, that he should ever spare the life of his Governor and Tutor? After some general Exprellions to this purpose, he took his wife in his Arms, and having somewhat fortified her against the present Calamity, he belougbt