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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; or to be fronted with some other of the same party that may oppose them, and so divide the reputation. Generally the dividing and breaking of all factions and combinations that are adverse to the State, and setting them at 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. Caesar did himself infinite hurt in that speech, “Sylla was ignorant of literature, he therefore was not qualified to dictate, or to be Dictator:” 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, “ that soldiers were chosen or appointed by him, not purchased ;” for it put the soldiers out of hope of the donative. Probus likewise by that speech, “If I shall live, the Roman Empire will have no further occasion for soldiers;” a speech of great despair for the soldiers: and many the like. Surely princes had need, in tender matters, 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 against all events not be without some great person, one, or rather more, of military valour, near unto them, for the repressing of Seditions in their beginnings. For without that, there useth to be more trepidation in Court, upon the first breaking out of troubles, than were fit. And the State runneth the danger of that; which Tacitus saith: “And such was the habit or state. of their minds, that a few openly dared to commit the most atrocious actions, more wished to be concerned in them, and all tamely permitted them to be done.” 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 disease.
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 a miracle to convince Atheism, because his ordinary works convince it. It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to Atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's * minds about to Religion. For while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further: 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 consent 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 but dissemble for his credit sake, when he affirmed, there were blessed natures; but such as enjoyed themselves, without having respect to the government of the world: wherein, they say, he did temporize; though in secret he thought there was no God. But certainly he is traduced; for his words are noble and divine: “To deny the Gods of the vulgar, is not profane; but to apply the opinions of the vulgar to the Gods, is profane.” 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 of 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 take part with the very 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 they 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 Saint Bernard saith, “It is not now proper to say, As are the people, so is the priest, because neither now are the people as bad as the priest.” A third is, custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which doth by little and little deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, especially with peace and prosperity: for troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds to religion. They that deny a God, destroy man's nobility: for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and if he