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gereth maligu ulcers and pernicious imposthumations.
The part of Epimetheus might well become Prometheus, in the case of discontentments, for there is not a better provision against them. Epimetheus, when griefs and evils flew abroad, at last shut the lid, and kept hope in the bottom of the vessel. Certainly, the politic and artificial nourishing and entertaining of hopes, and carrying men from hopes to hopes, is one of the best antidotes against the poison of discontentments : and it is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts by hopes, when it cannot by satisfaction ; and when it can handle things in such manuer as no evil shall appear so peremptory but that it hath some outlet of hope: which is the less hard to do, because both particular persons and factions are apt enough to flatter themselves, or, at least, to brave that which they believe not.
Also the foresight and prevention, that there be no likely or fit head whereunto discontenter persons may resort, and under whom they may join, is a known, but an excellent point of caution. I understand a fit head to be one that hath greatness and reputation, that hath confidence with the discontented party, and upon whom they turn their eyes, and that is thought discontented in his own particular; which kind of persons are either to be won and reconciled to the state, and that in a fast and true manner; of
he fronted with some
other of the same party that may oppose them, and so divide the reputation. Gentrally, the dividing and breaking of all factions and comBinations that are adverse to the state and setting them at a distance, or, at least, distrust among themselves, is not one of the worst remedies; for it is a desperate case, if those that hold with the proceeding of the state be full of discord and faction, and those that are against it be entire and united.
I have noted, that some witty and sharp speeches, which have fallen from princes, have given fire to seditions. Cæsar did himself infinite hurt in that speech, “Sylla nescivit literas, non potuit dictare;" for it did utterly cut off that hope which men had entertained, that he would at one time or other give over his dictatorship Galba undid himself by that speech, “legi a se militem, non emi;" for it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative: Probus, likewise, by that speech, “si vixero, non opus erit amplius Romano imperio militibus;" a speech of great despair for the soldiers : and many the like. . Surely princes had need, in tender matter and ticklish times, to beware what they say, especially in these short speeches, which fly abroad like darts, and are thought to be shot out of their secret intentions; for as for large discourses, they are flat things, and not so much noted.
Lastly, let princes, agairezt all events, not be without some great person, one, or rather more, of military valour, near unto them, for the re
pressing of seditions in their beginnings; for without that, there useth to be more trepidation in court upon the first breaking out of trouble than were fit; and the state runneth the danger of that which Tacitus saith, “atque is habitus animorum fuit, ut pessimum facinus audereut pauci, plures vellent, omnes paterentur :" but let such military persons be assured, and well reputed of, rather than factious and popular; holding also good correspondence with the other great men in the state, or else the remedy is worse than the discase.
I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind; and, therefore, God never wrought miracles to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheist, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for, while the mind of man locketh upon the second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no farther; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity: nay, even that school, which is most accused of atheism, doth most demonstrate religion; that is, the school of
Leucippus, and Democritus, and Epicurus : for it is a thousand times more credible, that four mutable elements and one immutable fifth essence, duly and eternally placed, need no God, than that an army of infinite small portions, or seeds unplaced, should have produced this order and beauty without a divine marshal. The scripture saith, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God;" it is not said, “The fool hath thought in his heart;" so as he rather saith it by rote to himself, as that he would have, than that he can thoroughly believe it, or be persuaded of it; for none deny there is a God but those for whom it maketh that there were no God. It appeareth in nothing more, that atheism is rather in the lip than in the heart of man, than by this, that atheists will ever be talking of that their opinion, as if they fainted in it within themselves, and would be glad to be strengthened by the opinion of others : nay, more, you shall have atheists strive to get disciples, as it fareth with other sects; and, which is most of all, you shall have of them that will suffer for atheism, and not recant; 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 not dissemble for his credit's sake, when he affirmed there were blessed natures, but such as enjoyed themselves without having respect to the government of the world; wher in they say he did temporize, though in secret he thouglit there was no God: bui cer
tainly he is traduced, for his words are noble and divine: “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
subtilest philosophers. The contemplative atheist is rare, a Diagoras, a Bion, a Lucian, perhaps, and some others; and yet they seem to be more than they are; 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 there 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, “non est jam dicere, ut populus, sic sacerdos; quia nec sic populus, ut sacerdos :" a third is, a custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which dotia