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TWO SERMONS, ON 1 John ii. 3, 4. and 1 Cor. xv. 57.
By RALPH CUDWORTH, D.D.
A A NEW EDITION;
Account of the Life and Writings of the Author :
IN FOUR VOLUMES :
PRINTED BY J. F. DOVE, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE;
CHAP. V. CONTINUED.
But it would be no impertinent digression here, (as to the main scope of our present undertaking) should we briefly compare the forementioned doctrine and cabala of the ancient Incorporealists (the Pythagoreans and Platonists) with that of Christianity: and consider the agreement, or disagreement, that is betwixt them. First, therefore, here is a plain agreement of these best and most religious philosophers with Christianity in this : That the most consummate happiness, and highest perfection, that human nature is capable of, consisteth not in a separate state of souls, stripped naked froin all body, and having no manner of converse with matter, as some high-flown persons in all ages have been apt to conceit. For such amongst the philosophers (and Platonists too) was Plotinus; the unevenness and unsafeness of whose temper may sufficiently appear from hence, that as he conceived human souls might possibly ascend to so high a pitch, as quite to shake off
commerce with all body; so did he on the other hand again imagine, that they might also descend and sink down so low, as to animate not only the bodies of brutes, but even of trees and plants too: two inconsistent paradoxes; the latter whereof is a most prodigious extravagancy, which yet Empedocles, though otherwise a great wit, seems to have been guilty of also, from those verses of his in Athenæus ;*
"Ηδη γάρ ποτ' εγώ γενόμην κούρη σε κόρος τε,
Θάμνος τ', οιωνός τε και είν άλι έλλοπος ιχθύς. And amongst the Jews, the famous Maimonides was also of this persuasion, it being a known aphorism of his, in his great work, 73 78 8377 Obyou in 28: That in the world to come, or state of consummate happiness, there shall be nothing at all of body, but pure incorporeity.Upon which account, being accused as a denier of the resurrection, (an article as well of the Jewish as of the Christian faith) he wrote that book entitled Iggereth Tenian, purposely, to purge himself, and to reconcile those two assertions together, which he doth after such a manner, as that there should be indeed a resurrection, at the first coming of the Jewish Messias, of some certain persons, to live here awhile upon the earth, eat and drink, marry and be given in marriage, and then die again; after which, in the world to come, they should for ever continue pure souls, ununited to any body. In which it may be well suspected, that the design Maimonides drove at, was against Christianity; which, notwithstanding, as to this particular, hath the
* Deipnosophist, lib. viii. p. 510.