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The sergeant spent more time upon the oaths with which he embellished the counter-question as to how he should know anything about it, than would have been consumed in a civil explanation.If Plotinus rose above the vulgar superstitions of the West, while, at the same time, using their language for the easier expression of his philosophical ideas, there was one more refined superstition of mixed Greek and Oriental origin which he denounced with the most uncompromising vigour. This was Gnosticism, as taught by Valentinus and his school. Towards the close of our last chapter, we gave some account of the theory in question. It was principally as enemies of the world and maligners of its perfection that the Gnostics made themselves offensive to the founder of Neo-Platonism. To him, the antithesis of good and evil was represented, not by the opposition of spirit and Nature, but by the opposition between his ideal principle through all degrees of its perfection, and unformed Matter. Like Plato, he looked on the348 existing world as a consummate work of art, an embodiment of the archetypal Ideas, a visible presentation of reason. But in the course of his attack on the Gnostics,518 other points of great interest are raised, showing how profoundly his philosophy differed from theirs, how entirely he takes his stand on the fixed principles of Hellenic thought. Thus he particularly reproaches his opponents for their systematic disparagement of Plato, to whom, after all, they owe whatever is true and valuable in their metaphysics.519 He ridicules their belief in demoniacal possession, with its wholly gratuitous and clumsy employment of supernatural agencies to account for what can be sufficiently explained by the operation of natural causes.520 And, more than anything else, he severely censures their detachment of religion from morality. On this last point, some of his remarks are so striking and pertinent that they deserve to be quoted.
It was short and to the point upon Cairness's part, and having finished he stood up.If, however, we pass to the second point of view, and judge Neo-Platonism according to the requirements, not of truth or of usefulness, but of beauty, our first verdict of utter condemnation will be succeeded by a much more favourable opinion. Plotinus has used the materials inherited from his predecessors with unquestionable boldness and skill; and the constructive power exhibited in the general plan of his vast system is fully equalled by the close reasoning with which every detail is elaborated and fitted into its proper place. Nothing can be imagined more imposing than this wondrous procession of forms defiling from the unknown to the unknownfrom the self-developing consciousness of Reason as it breaks and flames and multiplies into a whole universe of being and life and thought, ever returning, by the very law of their production, to the source whence they have sprungonward and outward on the wings of the cosmic Soul, through this visible world, where they reappear as images of intellectual beauty in the eternal revolutions of the starry spheres above, in the everlasting reproduction of organic species below, in the loveliest thoughts and actions of the loveliest human soulstill339 the utmost limits of their propagation and dispersion have been reached, till the last faint rays of existence die out in the dark and void region that extends to infinity beyond. Nothing in the realm of abstractions can be more moving than this Odyssey of the human soul, wakened by visions of earthly loveliness to a consciousness of her true destiny, a remembrance of her lost and forgotten home; then abandoning these for the possession of a more spiritual beauty, ascending by the steps of dialectic to a contemplation of the archetypal Ideas that lie folded and mutually interpenetrated in the bosom of the eternal Reason where thought and being are but the double aspect of a single absolute reality; seeking farther and higher, beyond the limits of existence itself, for a still purer unity, and finding in the awful solitude of that supreme elevation that the central source of all things does not lie without but within, that only in returning to self-identity does she return to the One; or, again, descending to the last confines of light and life that she may prolong their radiation into the formless depths of matter, projecting on its darkness an image of the glory whose remembrance still attends her in her fall.
That Aenesidmus held this view is stated as a fact by Sextus, whose testimony is here corroborated by Tertullian, or rather by Tertullians informant, Soranus. We find, however, that Zeller, who formerly accepted the statement in question as true, has latterly seen reason to reject it.188 Aenesidmus cannot, he thinks, have been guilty of so great an inconsistency as to base his Scepticism on the dogmatic physics of Heracleitus. And he explains the agreement of the ancient authorities by supposing that the original work of Aenesidmus contained a critical account of the Heracleitean theory, that this was misinterpreted into an expression of his adhesion to it by Soranus, and that the blunder was adopted at second-hand by both Sextus and Tertullian.299
"You didn't stay to see the operation?" His voice was ominously quiet.To add to the fame of Frederick, news arrived that Marshal Lewald, with twenty thousand Prussians, had beaten the great horde of Russians at J?gerndorf, and driven them out of Prussia, with the single exception of Memel; that Lewald and Manteuffel had swept the Swedes out of Pomerania, taking three thousand prisoners; and that Prince Henry of Prussia and Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, to whom Frederick, at the urgent request of England, had entrusted the command of the Hanoverian and Hessian troops which Cumberland had abandoned, had, with these very troops, driven the French from Lüneburg, Zell, and Hanover. These troops, it is true, were bound by the Convention of Closter-Seven not to fight again during the war; but the generals pleaded that the cruelties and rapacity of the French in Hanover were such as set aside all compacts.
Jeff chuckled rather sourly.When the sun was at midheaven, and the shadows of the pines beyond the clearing fell straight, the [Pg 35]clanging of a triangle startled the mountain stillness. The Mexicans dropped their tools, and the white teamster left a mule with its galled back half washed.