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Alyssa Bronstein
Alyssa Bronstein

A Knock At Midnight: Inspiration From The Great Sermons Of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Free Dow



As for Aristotle, I confesse his authority is very great with me; not because I am superstitiously addicted to any of his opinions, which I shall ever be ready to forsake when better shall be shewed unto me. but because [Page] (besides the judgment of all accounted wise and learned in former ages) I am convicted in my judgment, that so much solid reason in all Arts and Sciences never issued from mortal man (known unto us by his writings) without supernatural illumination. Well: Aristotle doth not acknowledg Spirits, he mentions them not in any place. Let it be granted: And why should it be a wonder to any man that knows the [...] and purpose of Aristotle's Phylosophy? He lived when Plato lived; he had been his fellow Scholer under Socrates, and for some time his Scholer; but afterwards he became his aemulus, and pleased himself very much to oppose his Doctrine, insomuch as he is censured by some Ancients for his ingratitude. The truth is, Plato's writings are full of Prodigies, Apparitions of Souls, pains of Hell and Purgatory, Revelations of the gods, and the like. Wherein he is so bold that he is fain to excuse himself sometimes, and doth not desire that any man should believe him, according to the letter of his relations, but in grosse only, that somewhat was true to that effect. Indeed he hath many divine passages, yea, whole Treatises, that can never be sufficiently admired in their kind; but too full of tales, for a Phylosopher, it cannot be denyed. Aristotle therefore resolved upon a quite contrary way: He would meddle with nothing but what had some apparent ground in Nature. Not that he precisely denyed all other things, but because he did not think that it was the part of a Phylosopher to meddle with those things that no probable reason could be given of. This doth clearly appear by a Divine passage of his, De part. [...]. l. 1. c. 5. where he divides Substances in [...] Eternal and Incorruptible, that is, in effect, Spiritual (for even Spirits that were created might be termed [...] that is, properly, That have not their beginning by [...]; but we will easily grant, that the creation of Angels, good or bad, was not known to Aristotle: (we may understand God, and Intelligences) and those, that [...] that is, are [...]. He goes on, As for Divine Substances, which we honour, we can say but little of them though we [...] it, because so little of them is exposed to sense [and Reason.] Mortal things that we are familiarly acquainted and daily converse with, we may know if we take pains. But much more should we rejoice in the knowledg (yea though we know but a very little part) of things Divine for their excellency, then in the knowledg of these worldly things though never so perfect and general But the comfort that we have of them (which doth make some [...]) is the certainty, and that they come within the compasse of Sciences. What could be said more Divinely by a man that had nothing by revelation? Truly, there appeareth unto me (if I may speak without offence and misconstruction) more Divinity in those words, then in some books that pretend to nothing else. Add to this another place of his in his Metaphysicks, where he saith, That though things supernatural be of themselves clear and certain, yet to us they are not so, who see them only with Owles eyes. Can we say then that Aristotle denyed those things that he forbore to write of, because they were (their natures and their qualities) above the knowledg of man? Neither is it absolutely true that Aristotle never wrote of Spirits and [...]. Cicero in his first book De Divinatione, hath a long story out of him of a shape or Spirit that appeared in a dream to one Eudemus (his familiar friend and [Page] quaintance) and foretold him strange things that came to passe. Clemens exandrinus hath a strange story out of him, of a Magical Ring, one or two, hich Excestus, King of the Phocenses did use, and foresaw things future them. It is to be found and seen among the fragments of Aristotles [...] that he did not deny Witches, may appear by that mention he makes of them in more then one place. How much he ascribed to common report and experience, though no reason could be given, doth appear by his 'reface to his Treatise De Divinatione per insomnia: where he proposeth the case, how hard it is for a rational man to believe any thing upon report which he can see no reason for; nay, which seemeth contrary to reason: as, for a man to foretel by dream what shall happen in another Kingdome far off without any apparent cause. But on the other side, saith he, not less hard to deny that which all men, or most men, do believe, to wit, that there be such predictions. For to say (his own words) that such dreams come from God, besides what else might be objected (which might easily be understood by them that understand his Doctrine) it is most unreasonable to believe that God would send them to men either vitious in their lives, or idiots and fools, of all men the most vile and contemptible, who have been observed to have such dreams oftner then better and wiser men. So leaving the businesse undetermined, he doth proceed to the consideration of those Prophetick dreams, for which some probable reason may be given. Yet in the second Chapter he saith directly, That though dreams be not [...] yet they may be perchance The Latine Interpreter translates it Domoria; & I know not how it can be better expressed, though lyable to ambiguity. [...] for such he acknowledges Nature to be, not [...] but [...] only. I will not enquire further into the meaning of these words; it is not to be done in few words. It plainly appears that nothing troubled him so much (for he repeats the objection twice or thrice) as that God should be thought to favour either wicked men or fools. I wish no worse Doctrine had ever been Printed or Preached concerning God. But still let it be remembred that he knew of no Divine Word or Revelation. Yet Jul. Scaliger in his Commentaries upon Hypocrates De Insomniis, doth wonder that Aristotle should stick so much at this, and seems himself to give a reason grounded in Nature. Indeed he saith somewhat as to the case of fools and idiots, but nothing (that I remember) that reacheth to wicked men also. Let these things be considered, and let the Reader judge of how different temper Aristotle was from that of ancient or later Epicures. This mention of Aristotle and Plato puts me in mind of Socrates their Master, his Familiar Spirit; no Shape but a Voice only, by which his life and actions were much directed. The thing is attested by so many, so grave Authors whereof some lived at the very time, others not long after, or in times not very remote, that I know not how it can be questioned by any man. Neither indeed is it, that I remember, by any Heathens or Christians of ancient times, and there have been books written of it, divers, in Greek and Latine, whereof some are yet extant. But whether it were a good Spirit or an evil, some men have doubted, and it is free for any man to think what he pleaseth of it. For my part I ever had a Reverend opinion of Socrates, [Page] and do believe (if there be no impiety in it, as I hope not) that he was, as among Heathens in some respect, a fore-runner of Christ, to dispose them the better when the time should come to imbrace (and it did it effectually) the Gospel. Many other Phylosophers, that have been of greatest fame, were certainly great Magicians, as Orpheus, Pythagoras, Empedocles, and the like, as by those things that have been written of them by several ancient authors may be collected. But above all I give the pre-eminence to Apollonius Thianeus, a man of later times, and of whom we may speak with more confidence and certainty. This was the man whom ancient Heathens very tenacious of their former worship and superstitions, did pitch upon to oppose unto Christ. His Life hath been written by divers, four of them were joyned together and opposed to the four Gospels: and Hierocles, a famous Phylosopher of those times, made a Collation of his Miracles with those of Christs, who was answered by Eusebius, yet extant. Sure it is, they prevailed so much, that he was for a long time worshipped by many, and in sundry places as a very God; yea, by some Roman Emperors, as we find in History. Philostratus hath written his Life in very Elegant stile (as Photius judged) in 8 books, which are extant. And though they contain many fabulous things, as any man may expect by the undertaking, yet have they so much truth and variety of ancient learning, that I think they deserve to be better known then commonly they are; but cannot be understood, I am sure, as they should be, by any translation either Latine or French that ever I saw: For the Paris Edition, though it boast of great things (as the manner is) yet how Tittle was performed may easily appear unto any that will take the pains to compare it with the former edition of Aldus: Which I speak not to find fault, but because I wish that some able man would undertake the work; there is not any book, by the Translations yet extant, that more needeth it. What use Scaliger made of him, may appear by his frequent quotations in his Notes upon Eusebius, in the History of those times. As for Appollonius his Miracles or wonderful Acts (which is our businesse here) though many things have been added, some, probably, done by Imposture, yet I do not see how it can be doubted but he did many strange things by the help of Spirits, which things may be judged by due observation of circumstances; as for example, That being convented before Domitian the Emperor in the presence of many, he presently vanished and was seen a great way off (at Puteoli I think) about the same time. That at the very time when Domitian was killed at Rome, he spake of it publickly and of the manner of it at Ephesus: and so of many others, which seem to me (as unto most) almost unquestionable. The greatest won


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