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either present or anticipated—if the True is something higher than past, present, or future facts—if the Beautiful is something more than a generalization from pleasing individual sensations—if the Just and the Right involve inquiries far above those endless logomachies, and questions of casuistry, which form the main features of modern ethics—if the State is a reality transcending a present aggregation of flowing and perishing individuals—if Law is a spiritual power distinct from the muscular force of a majority of present wills--if God is something more than gravitation, or the eternal development of a physical fate, which is only another name for an eternal succession of inexplicable phenomena—if there is a real foundation for the moral and religious, as distinct from, and not embraced in, the natural, or, in other words, if penalty and retribution are terms of far more solemn import than the modern jargon about physical consequences then surely is it high time that there should be some disturbance of this placid taking for granted of the opposing views; then surely should Plato be studied, if for no other purpose, as a matter of curiosity, to see if there may not possibly be some other philosophy than this noisy Baconianism, about which there is kept up such an everlasting din, or that still more noisy, because more empty, transcendentalism, which some would present as its only antidote. In place of all this, we want the clear, simple, common sense philosophy of Plato, commending itself, when rightly understood, to all the kolvai Évvocal, or universal ideas of the race, in distinction from that miscalled common sense which is only the manufactured public opinion of the moment, a philosophy most religious—most speculative, and yet most practical-most childlike in its primeval simpli
city, and yet most profound. We speak with confidence on this point. The young man who is an enthusiastic student of Plato can never be a sciolist in regard to education, a quack in literature, a demagogue in politics, or an infidel in religion.
Our main object, then, is to recommend this noble philosopher to the present generation of educated young men, especially to our theologians. The present work by no means professes to set forth his system as a whole, but merely to present some of its attractive points, to allure other minds among us to a more thorough examination. The main doctrine of ideas, although alluded to in almost every dissertation, is not discussed under its own title, because we had formed the design, if permitted to accomplish it, and if the present work should be acceptable to the public, of treating it by itself in an examination of another of the most interesting of the Platonic dialogues.
We conclude with the remark that, in a moral and practical, as well as in a speculative point of view, the particular subject of the dialogue selected has some claim to attention. He who thinks most deeply, and has the most intimate acquaintance with human nature, as exhibited in his own heart, will be the most apt to resolve all unbelief into Atheism. Especially will this be the case at a time when physical science, in league with a subtle pantheism, is everywhere substituting its jargon of laws, and elements, and nebular star-dust, and vital forces, and magnetic fluids, for the recognition of a personal God, and an ever wakeful, ever energizing special providence. Theism, we admit, is everywhere the avowed creed, but it wants life. It is too much of a mere philosophy. There
are times when the bare thought that God is, comes home to the soul with a power and a flash of light which gives a new illumination, and a more vivid interest to every other moral truth. It is on such occasions the conviction is felt that all unbelief is Atheism, or an acknowledgment of a mere natural power clothed with no moral attributes, and giving rise to no moral sanctions. We want vividness given to the great idea of God as a judge, a moral governor, a special superintendent of the world and all its movements, the head of a moral system, to which the machinery of natural laws serves but as the temporary scaffolding, to be continued, changed, replaced, or finally removed, when the great ends for which alone it was designed shall have been accomplished. Just as such an idea of God is strong and clear, so will be a conviction of sin, so will be a sense of the need of expiation, so will be a belief in a personal Redeemer, and so will follow in its train an assurance of all the solemn verities of the Christian faith, so strong and deep, that no boastful pretension of that science which makes the natural the foundation of the moral, and no stumbling-blocks in the letter of the Bible will for a moment yield it any disquietude. There is a want of such a faith, as is shown by the feverish anxiety in respect to the discoveries of science, and the results of the agitations of the social and political world. This timid unbelief, when called by its true name, is Atheism. The next great battle-ground of infidelity will not be the Scriptures. What faith there may remain will be summoned to defend the very being of a God, the great truth involving every other moral and religious truth-the primal truth, that HE IS, and that he is the rewarder of all who diligently seek him.