ST PAUL AND SENECA.
HPHE earliest of the Latin fathers, Tertullian, writing about a Senecatra-*- century and a half after the death of Seneca, speaks of this accounted philosopher as ' often our own1.' Some two hundred years later ^ 1S" St Jerome, having occasion to quote him, omits the qualifying adverb and calls him broadly 'our own SenecaV Living midway between these two writers, Lactantius points out several coincidences with the teaching of the Gospel in the writings of Seneca, whom nevertheless he styles 'the most determined of the Roman Stoics*.' From the age of St Jerome, Seneca was commonly regarded as standing on the very threshold of the Christian Church, even if he had not actually passed within its portals. In one Ecclesiastical Council at least, held at Tours in the year 567, his authority is quoted with a deference generally accorded only to fathers of the Church4. And even to the present day in the marionette plays of his native Spain St Seneca takes his place by the side of St Peter and St Paul in the representations of our Lord's passion8.
Comparing the language of Tertullian and Jerome, we are
1 Tertull. deAnim. 20 'Seneca saepe fait': comp. ii. 9, vi. 24, etc.
noster.' 'Labbrei Concilia v. p. 856 (Paris,
'Adv. Jovin. i. 49 (n. p. 318)' Serip- 1671) 'Siout ait Seneca pessimnm in
semnt Aristoteles et Plutarchus et nos- eo vitium esse qui in id quo insanit
ter Seneca de matrimonio libros etc.' caeteros putat furere.' See Fleury
* Die. Inst. i. 5 'Annaeus Seneca Saint Paul et Sonique I. p. 14.
qui ex Romanis vel acerrimus Stoicus * So Fleury states, I. p. 289.
able to measure the growth of this idea in the interval of time which separates the two. One important impulse however, which it received meanwhile, must not be overlooked. When The forged St Jerome wrote, the Christianity of Seneca seemed to be denoe of established on a sounder basis than mere critical inference. A Seneca correspondence, purporting to have passed between the heathen philosopher and the Apostle of the Gentiles, was then in general circulation; and, without either affirming or denying its genuineness, this father was thereby induced to give a place to Seneca in his catalogue of Christian writers1. If the letters of Paul and Seneca, which have come down to us, are the same with those read by him (and there is no sufficient reason for doubting the identity5), it is strange that he could for a moment have entertained the question of their authenticity. The poverty of thought and style, the errors in chronology and history, and the whole conception of the relative positions of the Stoic philosopher and the Christian Apostle, betray clearly the hand of a forger. Yet this correspondence has without doubt been mainly instrumental in fixing the belief on the mind of the later Church, as it was even sufficient to induce some hesitation in St Jerome himself. How far the known history and the extant writings of either favour this idea, it will be the object of the present essay to examine. The enquiry into the historical connexion between these two great contemporaries will naturally expand into an investigation of the relations, whether of coincidence or of contrast, between the systems of which they were the respective exponents. And, as Stoicism was the only philosophy which could even pretend to rival Christianity in the earlier ages of the Church, such an investigation ought not to be uninstructive3.
1 Vir. Ittustr. 12' Quem non ponerem 3 In the sketch, which I have given,
in catalogo sanctorum, nisi me illae epi- of the relation of Stoicism to the or
stolae provocarent quae leguntur a plu- cumstances of the time and to other
rimis, Pauli ad Senecam et Senecae ad earlier and contemporary system* of
Paulum.' philosophy, I am greatly indebted to
* See the note at the end of this die- the account in Zeller's Phileuophii der
sertation. Qriechen Th. m. Abth. 1 Dis ***•
Like all the later systems of Greek philosophy, Stoicism was Later phithe offspring of despair. Of despair in religion: for the old the chilmythologies had ceased to command the belief or influence the ^spalr conduct of men. Of despair in politics: for the Macedonian conquest had broken the independence of the Hellenic states and stamped out the last sparks of corporate life. Of despair even in philosophy itself: for the older thinkers, though they devoted their lives to forging a golden chain which should link earth to heaven, appeared now to have spent their strength in weaving ropes of sand. The sublime intuitions of Plato had been found too vague and unsubstantial, and the subtle analyses of Aristotle too hard and cold, to satisfy the natural craving of man for some guidance which should teach him how to live and to die.
Thus the soil of Greece had been prepared by the uprootal Greece of past interests and associations for fresh developments of for new religious and philosophic thought. When political life became SJ-^8.of impossible, the moral faculties of man were turned inward upon Phyhimself and concentrated on the discipline of the individual soul. When speculation had been cast aside as barren and unprofitable, the search was directed towards some practical rule or rules which might take its place. When the gods of Hellas had been deposed and dishonoured, some new powers must be created or discovered to occupy their vacant throne.
Stimulated by the same need, Epicurus and Zeno strove Coinoi
in different ways to solve the problem which the perplexities of contrasts
their age presented. Both alike, avoiding philosophy in the Smsbmmusi
proper sense of the term, concentrated their energies on ethics: Stoio phi* m ° losophies.
but the one took happiness, the other virtue, as his supreme
good, and made it the starting-point of his ethical teaching.
Both alike contrasted with the older masters in building their
systems on the needs of the individual and not of the state: but
the one strove to satisfy the cravings of man, as a being intended
aristotelische Philosophic (2nded. 18(55), of Sir A. Grant on 'The Ancient Stoios' which it is impossible to praise too in his edition of Aristotle's Ethics I. highly. See also the instructive essay p. 243 sq. (2nd ed.).
Oriental origin of
by nature for social life, by laying stress on the claims and privileges of friendship, the other by expanding his sphere of duty and representing him as a citizen of the world or even of the universe. Both alike paid a certain respect to the waning beliefs of their day: but the one without denying the existence of the gods banished them from all concern in the affairs of men, while the other, transforming and utilising the creations of Hellenic mythology, identified them with the powers of the physical world. Both alike took conformity to nature as their guiding maxim: but nature with the one was interpreted to mean the equable balance of all the impulses and faculties of man, with the other the absolute supremacy of the reason, as the ruling principle of his being. And lastly; both alike sought refuge from the turmoil and confusion of the age in the inward calm and composure of the soul. If Serenity (drapa^la) was the supreme virtue of the one, her twin sister Passionlessness (airaBia) was the sovereign principle of the other.
These two later developments of Greek philosophy both took root and grew to maturity in Greek soil. But, while the seed of the one was strictly Hellenic, the other was derived from an Oriental stock. Epicurus was a Greek of the Greeks, a child of Athenian parents. Zeno on the other hand, a native of Citium, a Phoenician colony in Crete, was probably of Shemitic race, for he is commonly styled 'the Phoenician1.' Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Carthage, reared some of his most illustrious successors. Cilicia, Phrygia, Rhodes, were the homes of others. Not a single Stoic of any name was a native of Greece proper5.
To Eastern affinities Stoicism was without doubt largely indebted for the features which distinguished it from other schools of Greek philosophy. To this fact may be ascribed the intense moral earnestness which was its most honourable characteristic. If the later philosophers generally, as distinguished from the earlier, busied themselves with ethics rather than metaphysics, with the Stoics this was the one absorbing passion. The contrast between the light, reckless gaiety of the Hellenic spirit and the stern, unbending, almost fanatical moralism of the followers of Zeno is as complete as could well be imagined. The ever-active conscience which is the glory, and the proud self-consciousness which is the reproach, of the Stoic school are alike alien to the temper of ancient Greece. Stoicism breathes rather the religious atmosphere of the East, which fostered on the one hand the inspired devotion of a David or an Isaiah, and on the other the self-mortification and self-righteousness of an Egyptian therapeute or an Indian fakir. A recent writer, to whom we are indebted for a highly appreciative account of the Stoic school, describes this new phase of Greek philosophy, which we have been reviewing and of which Stoicism was the truest exponent, as ' the transition to modernism1.' It might with greater truth be described as the contact of Oriental influences with the world of classical thought. Stoic- Union of ism was in fact the earliest offspring of the union between the ^thclas
Its moral earnestness derived thence.
1 See Diog. Laert. vii. 3, where
Crates addresses him H <pfvyeii, & *«-
vuitSiov; comp. § 15 fyoivutaav; § 25
4>ou>ii««3i; § 30 el Si rdrpa Qolviaaa, Ti's
o <pBivos; We are told also § 7 im-
roioCiro 5' airov KaX oi iv Siiun Kiruis-
So again ii. 114 Zifrura rbr *»>io.
3 See below, pp. 282, 288.
religious consciousness of the East and the intellectual culture fi0*1
. . . ... thought.
of the West. The recognition of the claims of the individual
soul, the sense of personal responsibility, the habit of judicial introspection, in short the subjective view of ethics, were in no sense new, for they are known to have held sway over the mind of the chosen people from the earliest dawn of their history as a nation. But now for the first time they presented themselves at the doors of Western civilization and demanded admission. The occasion was eminently favourable. The conquests of Alexander, which rendered the fusion of the East and West for the first time possible, also evoked the moral need which they had thus supplied the means of satisfying. By the overthrow of the state the importance of the individual was enhanced. In the failure of political relations, men were thrown
1 Grant, I. c. p. 243. Sir A. Grant element in Stoicism (p. 246). however fully recognises the Eastern
back on their inward resources and led to examine their moral
wants and to educate their moral faculties.
Exclusive It was in this way that the Eastern origin of Stoicism
attention ,.,..,. . . , ,
to ethics, combined with the circumstances and requirements ol the age
to give it an exclusively ethical character. The Stoics did, it is
true, pay some little attention to physical questions: and one or
two leading representatives of the school also contributed
towards the systematic treatment of logic. But consciously
and expressly they held these branches of study to be valueless
except in their bearing on moral questions. Representing
philosophy under the image of a field, they compared physics
to the trees, ethics to the fruit for which the trees exist, and
logic to the wall or fence which protects the enclosure1. Or
again, adopting another comparison, they likened logic to the
shell of an egg, physics to the white, and ethics to the yolk5.
Practical As the fundamental maxim of Stoical ethics was conformity to
physics nature, and as therefore it was of signal importance to ascertain
man's relation to the world around, it might have been supposed
that the study of physics would have made great progress in
the hands of Zeno's disciples. But, pursuing it for the most
part without any love for the study itself and pursuing it
moreover only to support certain foregone ethical conclusions,
they instituted few independent researches and discovered no
and depre- hidden truths. To logic they assigned a still meaner part. The ciation of . .... , ., . ,
logic. place which it occupies in the images already mentioned clearly
points to their conception of its functions. It was not so much
a means of arriving at truth, as an expedient for protecting truth already attained from external assaults. An extreme representative of the school went so far as to say that 'Of subjects of philosophical investigation some pertain to us, some have no relation to us, and some are beyond us: ethical questions belong to the first class; dialectics to the second, for they contribute nothing towards the amendment of life; and physics to the third, for they are beyond the reach of knowledge and are profitless withal1.' This was the genuine spirit of the school2, though other adherents were more guarded in their statements. Physical science is conversant in experiment; logical science in argumentation. But the Stoic was impatient alike of the one and the other; for he was essentially a philosopher of intuitions.
1 Diog. Laert. vii. 40, Philo de Phil. § 396. But this is a matter of
Agric. 3, p. 302 M. See also de MM. little moment; for, whichever form of
Nom. § 10, p. 589 M, where Philo after the metaphor be adopted, the ethial
giving this comparison says oflrui ovv bearing of physics is put prominently
t<paaav Kal iv </>iXoffo</>(y SeTv H/v re <pu- forward. Indeed as ancient naturalist*
oud\v Ko! Xo7«V rpayiuvrelav erl T^k were not agreed about the respective
jjBiKriv ava<p(p«rBai K.t.x. functions of the yolk and the white, the
a Sext. Emp. vii. 17. On the other application of the metaphor must hive
hand Diog. Laert. I.e. makes ethics the been influenced by this uncertainty,
white and physics the yolk. See Zeller The inferiority of logic appears in ill
I.e. p. 57, and Ritter and Preller Hist. the comparisons.
And here again the Oriental spirit manifested itself. The Prophetio Greek moralist was a reasoner: the Oriental for the most part, the sohool. whether inspired or uninspired, a prophet. Though they might clothe their systems of morality in a dialectical garb, the Stoic teachers belonged essentially to this latter class. Even Ghrysippus, the great logician and controversialist of the sect, is reported to have told his master Cleanthes, that 'he only wanted the doctrines, and would himself find out the proofs*.' This saying has been condemned as 'betraying a want of earnestness as to the truth4'; but I can hardly think that it ought to be regarded in this light. Flippant though it would appear at first sight, it may well express the intense faith in intuition, or what I have called the prophetic8 spirit, which distinguishes the school. Like the other Stoics, Chrysippus
1 Ariston in Diog. Laert. vii. 160, some apology; but I could not find
Stob. Flor. lxxx. 7. See Zeller I.e. a better. I meant to express by it
p. 50. the characteristic of enunciating moral
2 'Quicquid legeris ad mores statim truths as authoritative, independently
referas,' says Seneca Ep. Mar. lxxxix. of processes of reasoning. The Stoic,
See the whole of the preceding epistle. being a pantheist and having no dis
* Diog. Laert. vii. 179 roMdiris (\eyt tinct belief in a personal God, was not
/uSnjs rijs ruv Soyn&ruv SiSoffKaXios xpTr a prophet in the ordinary sense, but
lei v rai S' droSeifiis avrds tvpriaeiy. only as being the exponent of his own
4 Grant I.e. p. 253. inner consciousness, which was his su
s Perhaps the use of this term needs preme authority.
Parallel to Christianity in the westward progress of Stoicism.
Influence of Greeoe
and of Rome.
had no belief in argumentation, but welcomed the highest truths as intuitively apprehended. Logic was to him, as to them, only the egg-shell which protected the germ of future life, the fence which guarded the fruitful garden. As a useful weapon of defence against assailants, and nothing more, it was regarded by the most perfect master of the science which the school produced. The doctrines did not derive their validity from logical reasoning: they were absolute and self-contained. Once stated, they must commend themselves to the innate faculty, when not clouded by ignoble prejudices of education or degrading habits of life.
But though the germ of Stoicism was derived from the East, its systematic development and its practical successes were attained by transplantation into a western soil. In this respect its career, as it travelled westward, presents a rough but instructive parallel to the progress of the Christian Church. The fundamental ideas, derived from Oriental parentage, were reduced to a system and placed on an intellectual basis by the instrumentality of Greek thought. The schools of Athens and of Tarsus did for Stoicism the same work which was accomplished for the doctrines of the Gospel by the controversial writings of the Greek fathers and the authoritative decrees of the Greek councils. Zeno and Chrysippus and Panaetius are the counterparts of an Origen, an Athanasius, or a Basil. But, while the systematic expositions of the Stoic tenets were directly or indirectly the products of Hellenic thought and were matured on Greek soil, the scene of its greatest practical manifestations was elsewhere. It must be allowed that the Roman representatives of the school were very inadequate exponents of the Stoic philosophy regarded as a speculative system: but just as Latin Christianity adopted from her Greek sister the creeds which she herself was incapable of framing, and built thereupon an edifice of moral influence and social organization far more stately and enduring, so also when naturalised in its Latin home Stoicism became a motive power in the world, and exhibited those practical results to which its renown is chiefly due. This
comparison is instituted between movements hardly comparable in their character or their effects; and it necessarily stops short of the incorporation of the Teutonic nations. But the distinctive feature of Christianity as a Divine revelation and of the Church as a Divine institution does not exempt them from the ordinary laws of progress: and the contrasts between the doctrines of the Porch and the Gospel, to which I shall have to call attention later, are rendered only the more instructive by observing this parallelism in their outward career.
It is this latest or Roman period of Stoic philosophy which Attention has chiefly attracted attention, not only because its practical theRomau influence then became most manifest, but also because thisfenoistage of its history alone is adequately illustrated by extant writings of the school. On the Christian student moreover it has a special claim; for he will learn an instructive lesson in the conflicts or coincidences of Stoicism with the doctrines of the Gospel and the progress of the Church. And of this stage in its history Seneca is without doubt the most striking representative.
Seneca was strictly a contemporary of St Paul. Born Seneca probably within a few years of each other, the Christian Apostle and the Stoic philosopher both died about the same time and both fell victims of the same tyrant's rage. Here, it would have seemed, the parallelism must end. One might indeed indulge in an interesting speculation whether Seneca, like so many other Stoics, had not Shemitic blood in his veins. The whole district from which he came was thickly populated with Phoenician settlers either from the mother country or from her great African colony. The name of his native province Baetica, the name of his native city Corduba, are both said to be Phoenician. Even his own name, though commonly derived from the Latin, may perhaps have a Shemitic origin; for it is borne by a Jew of Palestine early in the second century1.
1The name 2ew«£s or 2«>«oj word is usually connected with 'senex.' occurs in the list of the early bishops Curtius Griech. Etym. § 428. of Jerusalem, Euseb. U. E. iv. 6. The
contrasted This however is thrown out merely as a conjecture. Otherwise Paul. the Stoic philosopher from the extreme West and the Christian Apostle from the extreme East of the Roman dominions would seem very unlikely to present any features in common. The one a wealthy courtier and statesman settled in the metropolis, the other a poor and homeless preacher wandering in distant provinces, they were separated not less by the manifold influences of daily life than by the circumstances of their birth and early education. Yet the coincidences of thought and even of language between the two are at first sight so striking, that many writers have been at a loss to account for them, except on the supposition of personal intercourse, if not of direct plagiarism1. The inference indeed appears unnecessary: but the facts are remarkable enough to challenge investigation, and I propose now to consider their bearing. upright and good and great mind except (a) god lodging in a human body1?' The spark of a heavenly flame has alighted on the hearts of men*. They are associates with, are members of God. The mind came from God and yearns towards God*.
Coincidences of thought and language.
1 The connexion of St Paul and Seneca has been a favourite subject with French writers. The most elaborate of recent works is A. Floury's Saint Paul et SCneque (Paris 1853), in which the author attempts to show that Seneca was a disciple of St Paul. It is interesting and full of materials, but extravagant and unsatisfactory. Far more critical is C. Aubertin's Etude Critique sur les rapports suppose"* entre Stneque et Saint Paul (Paris 18S7), which appears intended as an answer to Floury. Aubertin shows that many of the parallels are fallacious, and that many others prove nothing, since the same sentiments occur in earlier writers. At the same time he fails to account for other more striking coincidences. It must be added also that he is sometimes very careless in his statements. For instance (p. 186) he fixes an epoch by coupling together the names of Celsus and Julian, though they are separated by nearly two centuries. Floury's opinion is combated also in Baur's articles Seneca una" Paulus, republished in Drei Abhandlungcn etc. p. 377 sq. (ed. Zeller, 1876). Among other recent French works in
which Seneca's obligations to Christianity are maintained,may be named those of Troplong, De Vinfluence du Oristianisme sur le droit civil des Remains p. 76 (Paris 1843), and C. Schmidt Essai historique sur lasociftf civiUdani le monde Romainetsursa transformation par le Christianisme (Paris 1853). The opposite view is taken by C. Martha Les Moralistes sous I'Empire Romai* (2°" ed. Paris 1866). Le Stoicisme i Rome, by P. Montee (Paris 1865), is a readable little book, but does not throw any fresh light on the subject. Seekers after God, a popular and instructive work by the Rev. F. W. Farrar, appeared about the same time as my first edition. Still later are the discussions of G. Boissier La Religion Romaine a. p. 52 sq. (Paris 1874) and E. Frank Stoicismus u. Christenthum (Brealsa 1876). The older literature of the subject will be found in Fleury i. p. 1 HIn reading through Seneca I have been able to add some striking coincidence* to those collected by Fleury and others, while at the same time I have rejected a vast number as insufficient or illusory.
Though general resemblances of sentiment and teaching will carry less weight, as compared with the more special coincidences of language and illustration, yet the data would be incomplete without taking the former into account1. Thus we might imagine ourselves listening to a Christian divine, when we read in the pages of Seneca that' God made the world because He Goodness is good,' and that 'as the good never grudges anything good, He therefore made everything the best possible*.' Yet if we are tempted to draw a hasty inference from this parallel, we are checked by remembering that it is a quotation from Plato. Again Seneca maintains that'in worshipping the gods, the first Belation thing is to believe in the gods,' and that 'he who has copied G0<i. them has worshipped them adequately3'; and on this duty of imitating the gods he insists frequently and emphatically4. But here too his sentiment is common to Plato and many other
1 No account is here taken of certain direct reproductions of Christian teaching which some writers have found in Seneca. Thus the doctrine of the Trinity is supposed to be enunciated by these words 'Quisquisformatoruniversi fuit, sive ille Deus est potens omnium, sive incorporalis ratio ingentium operant artifex, sive divinus spirit us per omnia maxima ac minima aequali intentione diffusus, sive fatum et inmutabilis causarum inter se cohaerentium series' (ad Helv. matr. 8). Fleury (i. p. 97), who holds this view, significantly ends his quotation with' diffusus,'omitting the clause 'sive fatum, etc' Thus again some writers have found an allusion to the Christian sacraments in Seneca's language, 'Ad hoc sacrament urn adacti sumus ferr e mortalia,' deVit. beat. 15 (comp. Ep. Mor. lxv). Such criticisms are mere plays on words and do not even deserve credit for ingenuity. On the other hand Seneca does mention
the doctrine of guardian angels or demons; 'Sepone in praesentia quae quibuadam placent, unicuique nostrum paedagogum dari deum,' Ep. Mor. cz; but, as Aubertin shows (p. 284 sq.), this was a tenet common to many earlier philosophers; and in the very passage quoted Seneca himself adds, 'Ita tamen hoc seponas volo, ut memineris majores nostros, qui credidemnt, Stoicos fuisse, singulis enim et Genium et Junonem dederunt.' See Zeller p. 297 sq.
2 Ep. Mor. lxv. 10.
3 Ep. Mor. zcv. 50.
* de Vit. beat. 15 'Habebit illud in animo vetus praeceptum: deum sequere'; de Bene/. iv. 25 'Propositum est nobis secundum rerum naturam vivere et deorum exemplum sequi'; ib. i. 1 'Hos sequamur duces quantum humana imbecillitas patitur'; Ep. Mor. cxxiv. 23 'Animus emendatus acpurus, aemulator dei.'
of the older philosophers. 'No man,' he says elsewhere,' is good without God1.' 'Between good men and the gods there exists a friendship—a friendship do I say? nay, rather a relationship and a resemblance3'; and using still stronger language he speaks of men as the children of God*. But here again he is treading in the footsteps of the older Stoic teachers, and his very language is anticipated in the words quoted by St Paul from Cleanthes or Aratus,' We too His offspring are4.' Fatherly From the recognition of God's fatherly relation to man
merit of important consequences flow. In almost Apostolic language Seneca describes the trials and sufferings of good men as the chastisements of a wise and beneficent parent: 'God has a fatherly mind towards good men and loves them stoutly; and, saith He, Let them be harassed with toils, with pains, with losses, that they may gather true strength8.' 'Those therefore whom God approves, whom He loves, them He hardens, He chastises, He disciplines6.' Hence the 'sweet uses of adversity" find in him an eloquent exponent. 'Nothing,' he says, quoting his friend Demetrius,'seems to me more unhappy than the man whom no adversity has ever befallen7.' 'The life free from care and from any buffetings of fortune is a dead sea8.' Hence too it follows that resignation under adversity becomes a plain duty. 'It is best to endure what you cannot mend, and without murmuring to attend upon God, by whose ordering all things come to pass. He is a bad soldier who follows his captain complaining8.' The in- Still more strikingly Christian is his language, when he
st^xitof speaks of God, who 'is near us, is with us, is within,' of 'a holy God. spirit residing in us, the guardian and observer of our good and
evil deeds10.' 'By what other name,' he asks, 'can we call an
From this doctrine of the abiding presence of a divine spirit the practical inferences are not less weighty. 'So live with men, as if God saw you; so speak with God, as if men heard you4.' 'What profits it, if any matter is kept secret from men? nothing is hidden from God5.' 'The gods are witnesses of everything8.'
But even more remarkable perhaps, than this devoutness of Universal tone in which the duties of man to God arising out of his filial 0f sin. relation are set forth, is the energy of Seneca's language, when he paints the internal struggle of the human soul and prescribes the discipline needed for its release. The soul is bound in a prison-house, is weighed down by a heavy burden7. Life is a continual warfare8. From the terrors of this struggle none escape unscathed. The Apostolic doctrine that all have sinned has an apparent counterpart in the teaching of Seneca; 'We shall ever be obliged to pronounce the same sentence upon ourselves, that we are evil, that we have been evil, and (I will add it unwillingly) that we shall be evil'.' 'Every vice exists in every man, though every vice is not prominent in each10.' 'If we would be upright judges of all things, let us first persuade ourselves of this, that not one of us is without fault11.' 'These are vices of mankind and not of the times. No age has been free from fault".' 'Capital punishment is appointed for all, and
1 Ep. Mor. xxxi. The want of the 5 Ep. Mor. lxxxiii; comp. Fragm. 14
definite article in Latin leaves the exact (in Lactant. vi. 24). meaning uncertain; but this uncertain- * Ep. Mor. cii.
ty is suited to the vagueness of Stoic 7 adHelv.matr. 11, Ep.Mor. lxv,cii.
theology. In Ep. Mor. xli Seneca quotes 8 See below, p. 269, note 5.
the words 'Quis deus, incertum est; 9 de Bene/, i. 10.
habitat Deus' (Virg. Mn. viii. 352), and 10 de Bene/, iv. 27.
applies them to this inward monitor. "de Ira ii. 28; comp. ad Polyb. 11,
31 de Otio 5. Ep. Mor. xlii.
3 Ep. Mor. xcii. u Ep. Mor. xcvii.
4 Ep. Mor. x.
Office of the conscience.
this by a most righteous ordinance1.' 'No one will be found who can acquit himself; and an)' man calling himself innocent has regard to the witness, not to his own conscience*.' 'Evenday, every hour,' he exclaims, 'shows us our nothingness, and reminds us by some new token, when we forget our frailty5.' Thus Seneca, in common with the Stoic school generally, lays great stress on the office of the conscience, as 'making cowards of us all.' 'It reproaches them,' he says, 'and shows them to themselves4.' 'The first and greatest punishment of sinners is the fact of having sinned6.' 'The beginning of safety is the knowledge of sin.' 'I think this,' he adds, 'an admirable saying of Epicurus*.'
Hence also follows the duty of strict self-examination. 'As far as thou canst, accuse thyself, try thyself: discharge the office, first of a prosecutor, then of a judge, lastly of an intercessor7.' Accordingly he relates at some length how, on lying down to rest every night, he follows the example of Sextius and reviews his shortcomings during the day: 'When the light is removed out of sight, and my wife, who is by this time aware of my practice, is now silent, I pass the whole of my day under examination, and I review my deeds and words. I hide nothing from myself, I pass over nothing8.' Similarly he describes the good man as one who 'has opened out his conscience to the gods, and always lives as if in public, fearing himself more than others8.' In the same spirit too he enlarges on the advantage of having a faithful friend,'a ready heart into which your every secret can be safely deposited, whose privity you need fear less than your own1'; and urges again and again the duty of meditation and self-converse2, quoting on this head the saying of Epicurus,' Then retire within thyself most, when thou art forced to be in a crowd*.'
1 Qu. Nat. ii. 59.
2 de Ira i. 14.
* Ep. Mor. ci.
4 Ep. Mor. xcvii. 15.
5 ib. 14.
6 Ep. Mor. xxviii. 9 'Initium est salutis notitia pecoati.' For convenience I have translated peccatum here as elsewhere by 'sin'; but it will be evident at once that in a saying of Epicurus, whose gods were indifferent to the doings of men, the associations con
nected with the word must be very different. See the remarks below, p. 279. Fleurv (i. p. Ill) is eloquent on this coincidence, but omits to mention that it occurs in a saying of Epicurus. His argument crumbles into dust before our eyes, when the light of this fact is admitted.
7 ib. 10.
8 de Ira iii. 36.
• de Bene/, vii. 1.
Nor, when we pass from the duty of individual self-discipline Dutiea to the social relations of man, does the Stoic philosophy, as 0°hers.8 represented by Seneca, hold a less lofty tone. He acknowledges in almost Scriptural language the obligation of breaking bread with the hungry4. 'You must live for another,' he writes,'if you would live for yourself8.' 'For what purpose do I get myself a friend?' he exclaims with all the extravagance of Stoic self-renunciation, 'That I may have one for whom I can die, one whom I can follow into exile, one whom I can shield from death at the cost of my own life*.' 'I will so live,' he says elsewhere, 'as if I knew that I was born for others, and will give thanks to nature on this score7.'
Moreover these duties of humanity extend to all classes and ranks in the social scale. The slave has claims equally with the freeman, the base-born equally with the noble. 'They are slaves, you urge; nay, they are men. They are slaves; nay, they are comrades. They are slaves; nay, they are humble friends. They are slaves; nay, they are fellow-slaves, if you reflect that fortune has the same power over both.' 'Let some of them,' he adds, 'dine with you, because they are worthy; others, that they may become worthy.' 'He is a slave, you say. Yet perchance he is free in spirit. He is a slave. Will this harm him? Show me who is not. One is a slave to lust, another to avarice, a third to ambition, all alike to fear8.'
1 ile Tranq. Anim. 7. Comp. Ep, nem suum dividat': comp. Is. lviii. 7
Mor. xi. (Vulg.)'Frange esurienti panem tuum,
'- Ep. ilor. vii 'Recede in teipsum Ezek. xviii. 7, 16.
quantum potes,' de Otio 28 (1) 'Prode- * Ep. Mor. xlviii.
rit tamen per se ipsum secedere; me- 6 Ep. Mov. ix.
liores erimus singuli': comp. ad Marc. 7 de Vit. beat. 20: comp. de Otio
23. 30 (3).
* Ep. Mor. Xxv. 8 Ep. Mor. xlvii. 15,17.
* Ep. Mor. xcv ' Cum esuriente pa
Parallels But the moral teaching of Seneca will be brought out more
mon on clearly, while at the same time the conditions of the problem the Mount, before us will be better understood, by collecting the parallels,
which are scattered up and down his writings, to the sentiments
and images in the Sermon on the Mount. Matt. v. 8. ■ The mind, unless it i6 pure and holy, comprehends not
God1.' v. 21 gq. 'A man is a robber even before he stains his hands; for he
is already armed to slay, and has the desire to spoil and to
kill*.' 'The deed will not be upright, unless the will be
upright*.' v. 29. 'Cast out whatsoever things rend thy heart: nay, if they
could not be extracted otherwise, thou shouldst have plucked
out thy heart itself with them4.' v. 39. 'What will the wise man do when he is buffeted (colaphis
percussus)? He will do as Cato did when he was smitten on
the mouth. He did not burst into a passion, did not avenge
himself, did not even forgive it, but denied its having been
done5.' v. 44. 'I will be agreeable to friends, gentle and yielding to
enemies8.' 'Give aid even to enemies7.' v. 45. 'Let us follow the gods as leaders, so far as human weakness
allows: let us give our good services and not lend them on
usury...How many are unworthy of the light: and yet the day
arises...This is characteristic of a great and good mind, to pursue not the fruits of a kind deed but the deeds themselves1.' 'We propose to ourselves...to follow the example of the gods... See what great things they bring to pass daily, what great gifts they bestow, with what abundant fruits they fill the earth.. .with what suddenly falling showers they soften the ground...All these things they do without reward, without any advantage accruing to themselves...Let us be ashamed to hold out any [Lukevi. benefit for sale: we find the gods giving gratuitously. If you '* imitate the gods, confer benefits even on the unthankful: for the sun rises even on the wicked, and the seas are open to pirates*.'
1 Ep. Mor. lxxxvii. 21. gulos, opem ferre etiam inimicis miti
3 de Bene/. v. 14. So also de Const. (v.l. senili) manu': comp. also de Benef.
Sap. 7 he teaches that the sin consists v. 1 (fin.), vii. 31, de Ira i. 14. Sucli
in the intent, not the act, and instances however is not always Seneca's tone
adultery, theft, and murder. with regard to enemies: comp. Ep. Mor.
3 Ep. Mor. xcv' Actio recta non erit, lxxxi ' Hoc certe, inquis, justitiae eonnisi recta fuerit voluntas,' de Bene/. v. venit, suum cuique reddcre, beneficio 19 ' Mens spectanda est dantis.' gratiam, injuriae talionem aut certe
4 Ep. Mor. li. 13. malam gratiam. Verum erit istud.
5 de Const. Sap. 14. cum alius injuriam fecorit, alius bent* de Vit. beat. 20 'Ero amicis ju- fioium dederit etc.' This passage sham
cundus, inimicis mitis et facilis.' that Seneca's doctrine was a very feeble
7 de Otio 28 (1)' Non desinemus com- and imperfect recognition of the Chrismuni bono operam dare, adjuvare sin- tian maxim 'Love your enemies.'
'One ought so to give that another may receive. It is not Matt. vi. giving or receiving to transfer to the right hand from the left*.' 'This is the law of a good deed between two: the one ought at once to forget that it was conferred, the other never to forget that it was received4.'
'Let whatsoever has been pleasing to God, be pleasing to vi. 10. man5.'
'Do not, like those whose desire is not to make progress but vi. 16. to be seen, do anything to attract notice in your demeanour or mode of life. Avoid a rough exterior and unshorn hair and a carelessly kept beard and professed hatred of money and a bed laid on the ground and whatever else affects ambitious display by a perverse path...Let everything within us be unlike, but let our outward appearance (frons) resemble the common people6.'
1 de Bene/, i. 1. See the whole oon- p. 281. Of the villain P. Egnatius
text. Tacitus writes (Ann. xvi. 32), ' Auctori
J de Bene/, iv. 25, 26. See the con- tatem Stoicae sectae praeferebat haliitu
text. Compare also de Bene/, vii. 31. et ore ad exprimendam imaginem ho
* de Bene}, v. 8. nesti exercitus.' EgnatiuS, like so many
4 de Bene/, ii. 10. other Stoics, was an Oriental, a native
5 Ep. Mor. lxxiv. 20. of Beyrout (Juv. iii. 116). If the phil
* Ep. Mor. v. 1, 2. Other writers osopher's busts may be trusted, the are equally severe on the insincere pro- language of Tacitus would well describe fessors of Stoic principles. 'Like their Seneca's own appearance: but probaJewish counterpart, the Pharisees, they bly with him this austerity was not were formal, austere, pretentious, and affected.
not unfrequently hypocritical'; Grant
vi.19- 'Apply thyself rather to the true riches. It is shameful to
depend for a happy life on silver and gold1.' 'Let thy good deeds be invested like a treasure deep-buried in the ground, which thou canst not bring to light, except it be necessary*.'
vii. 3 sq. 'Do ye mark the pimples of others, being covered with
countless ulcers? This is as if a man should mock at the moles or warts on the most beautiful persons, when he himself is devoured by a fierce scab*.'
vii. 12. 'Expect from others what you have done to another*.' 'Let
us so give as we would wish to receive5.'
vii. 16,17- 'Therefore good things cannot spring of evil.. .good does not grow of evil, any more than a fig of an olive tree. The fruits correspond to the seed8.'
vii. 26. 'Not otherwise than some rock standing alone in a shallow
sea, which the waves cease not from whichever side they are driven to beat upon, and yet do not either stir it from its place, etc...Seek some soft and yielding material in which to fix your darts7.'
other co- Nor are these coincidences of thought and imager}' confined
with on?8 to tne Sermon on the Mount. If our Lord compares the
Lord's Ian- hypocritical Pharisees to whited walls, and contrasts the scruBuage. J r
pulously clean outside of the cup and platter with the inward corruption, Seneca also adopts the same images: 'Within is no good: if thou shouldest see them, not where they are exposed to view but where they are concealed, they are miserable, filthy, vile, adorned without like their own walls...Then it appears how much real foulness beneath the surface this borrowed glitter has concealed8.' If our Lord declares that the branches must perish unless they abide in the vine, the language of Seneca presents an eminently instructive parallel: 'As the leaves cannot flourish by themselves, but want a branch wherein they may grow and whence they may draw sap, so those precepts wither if they are alone: they need to be grafted in a sect1.' Again the parables of the sower, of the mustard-seed, of the debtor forgiven, of the talents placed out at usury, of the rich fool, have all their echoes in the writings of the Roman Stoic: 'Words must be sown like seed which, though it be small, yet when it has found a suitable place unfolds its strength and from being the least spreads into the largest growth...They are few things which are spoken: yet if the mind has received them well, they gain strength and grow. The same, I say, is the case with precepts as with seeds. They produce much and yet they are scanty*.' 'Divine seeds are sown in human bodies. If a good husbandman receives them, they spring up like their origin...; if a bad one, they are killed as by barren and marshy ground, and then weeds are produced in place of grain*.' 'We have received our good things as a loan. The use and advantage are ours, and the duration thereof the Divine disposer of his own bounty regulates. We ought to have in readiness what He has given us for an uncertain period, and to restore it, when summoned to do so, without complaint. He is the worst debtor, who reproaches his creditor4.' 'As the money-lender does not summon some creditors whom he knows to be bankrupt...so I will openly and persistently pass over some ungrateful persons nor demand any benefit from them in turn8.' 'O how great is the madness of those who embark on distant hopes: I will buy, I will build, I will lend out, I will demand payment, I will bear honours: then at length I will resign my old age wearied and sated to rest. Believe me, all things are uncertain even to the prosperous. No man ought to promise himself anything out of the future. Even what we hold slips through our hands, and fortune assails the very hour on which we are pressing6.' If our Master declares that 'it is more blessed to give than to receive,' the Stoic philosopher tells his readers that he'would rather not receive benefits, than not confer them1,' and that 'it is more wretched to the good man to do an injury than to receive one3.' If our Lord reminds His hearers of the Scriptural warning ' I will have mercy and not sacrifice,' if He commends the poor widow's mite thrown into the treasury as a richer gift than the most lavish offerings of the wealthy, if His whole life is a comment on the prophet's declaration to the Jews that God 'cannot away with their sabbaths and new moons,' so also Seneca writes: 'Not even in victims, though they be fat and their brows glitter with gold, is honour paid to the gods, but in the pious and upright intent of the worshippers*.' The gods are 'worshipped not by the wholesale slaughter of fat carcasses of bulls nor by votive offerings of gold or silver, nor by money poured into their treasuries, but by the pious and upright intent4.' 'Let us forbid any one to light lamps on sabbathdays, since the gods do not want light, and even men take no pleasure in smoke...he worships God, who knows Him5.' And lastly, if the dying prayer of the Redeemer is 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,' some have discovered a striking counterpart (I can only see a mean caricature) of this expression of triumphant self-sacrifice in the language of Seneca: 'There is no reason why thou shouldest be angry: pardon them; they are all mad«.'
1 Ep. Mor. Ox. 18. 3 de Bene/. ii. 1.
• de Vit. beat. 24. « Ep. Mor. Unvii. 24, 25.
* de Vit. beat. 27. * de Vit. beat. 27. 4 Ep. Mor. xciv. 43. This is a quo- 8 de Provid. 6.
1 Ep. Mor. xov. 59. See the remarks * ad Mare. 10.
below, p. 313, on this parallel. 5 de Bene/. v. 21.
3 Ep. Mor. xxrviii. 2. • Ep. Mor. oi. 4. 'Ep. Mor. lxxiii. 16.
Nor are the coincidences confined to the Gospel narratives. The writings of Seneca present several points of resemblance
Apostolic also to the Apostolic Epistles. The declaration of St John that Epistles, . ,
'perfect love casteth out fear7' has its echo in the philosophers
words,' Love cannot be mingled with fear8.' The metaphor of
St Peter, also,'Girding up the loins of your mind be watchful
Coincidence!! with the
1 de Bene/, i. 1.
s Ep. ilor. xcv. 52: comp. de liette/. iv. 12, vii. 31, 32. • de Bene/. L 6. 4 Ep. Mot. Cxv. 5.
* Ep. ilor. xov. 47.
• de Bene/. v. 17. See the rem»rb below, p. 280.
1 1 Joh. iT. 18.
8 Ep. Mor. xlvii. 18.
and hope1,' reappears in the same connexion in Seneca, 'Let the
mind stand ready-girt, and let it never fear what is necessary
but ever expect what is uncertain*.' And again, if St James
rebukes the presumption of those who say, 'To-day or to-morrow
we will go into such a city, when they ought to say, If the Lord
will, we shall live and do this or that3,' Seneca in a similar
spirit says that the wise man will 'never promise himself
anything on the security of fortune, but will say, I will sail
unless anything happen, and, I will become praetor unless
anything happen, and, My business will turn out well for me
unless anything happen*.'
The coincidences with St Paul are even more numerous and and especially with not less striking. It is not only that Seneca, like the Apostle st Paul.
of the Gentiles, compares life to a warfare5, or describes the
struggle after good as a 'contest with the flesh6,' or speaks of
this present existence as a pilgrimage in a strange land and of
our mortal bodies as tabernacles of the soul7. Though some of
these metaphors are more Oriental than Greek or Roman, they
are too common to suggest any immediate historical connexion.
It is more to the purpose to note special coincidences of thought
and diction. The hateful flattery, first of Claudius and then of
1 1 Pet. i. 13. in carne ponenda.' This use of aAp$
5 ad Polyb. 11 'In prooinctu stet has been traced to Epicurus.
animus etc.' 7 Ep. Mor. exx 'Nee domum esse
3 James iv. 13. hoc corpus sed hospitium et quidem
* de Tranq. Anim. 13. breve hospitium,' and again 'Magnus
s Ep. Mor. xevi 'Viverc, Luoili, animus...nihil horum quae circa sun/
militare est'; ib. li ' Nobis quoque mi- suum judicat, sed ut commodatis utitur
litandum est et quidem genere militiae peregrinus et properans.' So also Ep.
quo numquam quies, numquam otium, Mor. eii. 24 'Quicquid circa te jacet
datur'; ib. lxv ' Hoc quod vivi t stipen- rerum tamquam hospitalis loci sarcinas
dium putat'; ib. cxx. 12 'Civem se esse specta.' In this last letter (§ 23) he
universi et militem credens.' The com- speaks of advancing age as a ' ripening
parison is at least as old as the Book of to another birth (in alium maturesci
Job, vii. 1. mus partum),'and designates death by
< ad Marc. 24 'Omne illi cum hoc the term since consecrated in the lan
carne grave certamen est.' The flesh guage of the Christian Church, as the
is not unfrequently used for the carnal birth-day of eternity: 'Dies iste, quem
desires and repulsions, e.g. Ep. Mor. tamquam supremum reformidas, aeter
lxxiv' Non est summa felicitatis nostrae ni natalis est' (§ 26). 1 ad Polyb. 7. 6 Ep. Mor. Ixxviii. 16.
Nero, to which the expressions are prostituted by Seneca, does not conceal the resemblance of the following passages to the language of St Paul where they occur in a truer and nobler application. Of the former emperor he writes to a friend at court,'In him are all things and he is instead of all things to thee1': to the latter he says, 'The gentleness of thy spirit will spread by degrees through the whole body of the empire, and all things will be formed after thy likeness: health passes from the head to all the members*.' Nor are still closer parallels
2 Cor. xii. wanting. Thus, while St Paul professes that he will 'gladly spend and be spent' for his Corinthian converts, Seneca repeats the same striking expression, ' Good men toil, they spend and
Tit. i. 15. are spent'.' While the Apostle declares that'unto the pure all things are pure, but unto the denled and unbelieving nothing is pure,' it is the Roman philosopher's dictum that 'the evil man turns all things to evil4.' While St Paul in a wellremembered passage compares and contrasts the training for
l Cor. ix. the mortal and the immortal crown, a strikingly similar use is made of the same comparison in the following words of Seneca; 'What blows do athletes receive in their face, what blows all over their body. Yet they bear all the torture from thirst of glory. Let us also overcome all things, for our reward is not a crown or a palm branch or the trumpeter proclaiming silence for the announcement of our name, but virtue and strength of mind and peace acquired ever after8.'
The coincidence will be further illustrated by the following passages of Seneca, to which the corresponding references in St Paul are given in the margin.
Rom. i. 23. 'They consecrate the holy and immortal and inviolable gods
in motionless matter of the vilest kind: they clothe them with
the forms of men, and beasts, and fishes8.'
Kom. i. 28, 'They are even enamoured of their own ill deeds, which is 32.
2 ai Clem. ii. 2. • ae Supent. (Fragm. 31) in August
3 di Provid. 5. Civ. Dii vi. 10.
4 Ep. Mor. xcviii. 3.
the last ill of all: and then is their wretchedness complete, when shameful things not only delight them but are even approved by them1.'
4 The tyrant is angry with the homicide, and the sacrilegious Rom.ii.2l, man punishes thefts*.'
'Hope is the name for an uncertain good8.' ^?m- viii
'Pertinacious goodness overcomes evil men4.' Bom. xii.
'I have a better and a surer light whereby I can discern the i cor. ii.
true from the false. The mind discovers the good of the mind8.' •
'Let us use them, let us not boast of them: and let us use l Cor. vii.
31. them sparingly, as a loan deposited with us, which will soon
'To obey God is liberty7.' 2 Cor. iii.
'Not only corrected but transfigured8.' 2 Cor. iii.
'A man is not yet wise, unless his mind is transfigured into 18those things which he has learnt8.'
'What is man? A cracked vessel which will break at the 2Cor.iv.7. least fall10.'
'This is salutary; not to associate with those unlike our- 2 Cor. vi. selves and having different desires".'
'That gift is far more welcome which is given with a ready 2Cor.ix.7 than that which is given with a full hand".' j).)TM*'*3"1'
'Gather up and preserve the time".' EPh> v-16
'I confess that love of our own body is natural to us".' Eph.v.28,
29 'Which comes or passes away very quickly, destined to <jol. ii. 22.
perish in the very using (in ipso usu sui periturum)16.'
1 Ep. Mor. xxxix. 6. "Ep. Mor. vi. 1.
» de Ira ii. 28. * Ep. Mor. xciv. 48.
» Ep. Mor. x. § 2. "ad Marc. 11. So Ps. xxxi. 12 'I
* de Bene/. vii. 31. am become like a broken vessel.'
8 de Vit. beat. 2. » Ep. Mor. xxxii. 2.
« Ep. Mor. lxxiv. 18. a de Bene/. i. 7.
7 de Vit. beat. 15. Compare the 13 Ep. Mor. i. 1. So also he speaks
language of our Liturgy, * Whose ser- elsewhere (de Brev. Vit. 1) of 'invest
vice is perfect freedom.' Elsewhere ing' time (conlocaretur).
(Ep. Mor. viii) he quotes a saying of u Ep. Mor. xiv. 1. The word used
Epicurus, ' Thou must be the slave of for love is ' caritas.'
philosophy, that true liberty may fall u de Vit. beat. 7. to thy lot.'
lTim.ii.9. 'Neither jewels nor pearls turned thee aside1.'
1 Tim. iv. < I reflect how many exercise their bodies, how few their
minds*.' 'It is a foolish occupation to exercise the muscles of the arms...Return quickly from the body to the mind: exercise this, night and day'.' lTim.v.6. 'Do these men fear death, into which while living they hare buried themselves4?' 'He is sick: nay, he is dead5.'
2 Tim. iii. 'They live ill, who are always learning to live6.' 'How long 7
wilt thou learn? begin to teach7.'
In the opening sentences of our Burial Service two passages
l Tim. vi. of Scripture are combined: 'We brought nothing into this
Job i. 21 world and it is certain we can carry nothing out . The Lord
gave and the Lord hath taken away: blessed be the name of
the Lord.' Both passages have parallels in Seneca: 'Non licet
plus efferre quam intuleris8;' 'Abstulit (fortuna) sed dedit,.p
In the speech on the Areopagus again, which was addressed
partly to a Stoic audience, we should naturally expect to find
parallels. The following passages justify this expectation.
Acts xvii. 'The whole world is the temple of the immortal gods".'
24 sq. , Temples are not to be built to God of stones piled on high:
He must be consecrated in the heart of each man".'
'God wants not ministers. How so? He Himself ministereth to the human race. He is at hand everywhere and to all men".' xvii. 27. 'God is near thee: He is with thee; He is within1*.'
xvii. 29. 'Thou shalt not form Him of silver and gold: a true like
ness of God cannot be moulded of this material14.' The first The first impression made by this series of parallels is
SS striking. They seem to show a general coincidence in the
1 ad Helv. matr. 16. • Ep. Mor. lxiii. 7.
* Ep. Mor. lux. 2. 10 de Bene/. vii. 7.
8 Ep. Mor. xv. 2, 5. u Fragm. 123, in Lactant Dir.
* Ep. Mor. oxxii. 3. Inst. vi. 25.
• de Brev. Vit. 12. "Ep. Mor. xov. 47.
• Ep. Mor. xxiii. 9. » Ep. Mor. xli. 1.
7 Ep. Mor. xxxiii. 9. M Ep. Mor. xxxL 11.
3 Ep. Mor. oii. 25.
fundamental principles of theology and the leading maxims in parallels ethics: they exhibit moreover special resemblances in imagery modified, and expression, which, it would seem, cannot be explained as the result of accident, but must point to some historical connexion.
Nevertheless a nearer examination very materially diminishes the force of this impression. In many cases, where the parallels are most close, the theory of a direct historical connexion is impossible; in many others it can be shown to be quite unnecessary; while in not a few instances the resemblance, however striking, must be condemned as illusory and fallacious. After deductions made on all these heads, we shall still have to consider whether the remaining coincidences are such as to require or to suggest this mode of solution.
1. In investigating the reasonableness of explaining coinci- Difficulty dences between two different authors by direct obligation on blishing the one hand or the other, the dates of the several writings are t^g ^'0. obviously a most important element in the decision. In the nol°gy, present instance the relative chronology is involved in considerable difficulty. It is roughly true that the literary activity of Seneca comprises about the same period over which (with such exceptions as the Gospel and Epistles of St John) the writings of the Apostles and Evangelists extend. But in some cases of parallelism it is difficult, and in others wholly impossible, to say which writing can claim priority of time. If the Epistles of St Paul may for the most part be dated within narrow limits, this is not the case with the Gospels: and on the other hand the chronology of Seneca's writings is with some few exceptions vague and uncertain. In The priormany cases however it seems impossible that the Stoic philo- times besopher can have derived his thoughts or his language from the aen^ca° New Testament. Though the most numerous and most striking parallels are found in his latest writings, yet some coincidences occur in works which must be assigned to his earlier years, and these were composed certainly before the first Gospels could have been circulated in Rome, and perhaps before they were
even written. Agaiii, several strong resemblances occur in Seneca to those books of the New Testament which were written after his death. Tlius the passage which dwells on the fatherly chastisement of God1 presents a coincidence, as remarkable as any, to the language of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus again in tracing the portrait of the perfect man (which has been thought to reflect mauy features of the life of Christ, delineated in the Gospels) he describes him as 'shining like a light in the darkness9'; an expression which at once recalls the language applied to the Divine Word in the prologue of St John's Gospel. And again in the series of parallels given above many resemblances will have been noticed to the Pastoral Epistles, which can hardly have been written before Seneca's death. These facts, if they do not prove much, are at least so far valid as to show that the simple theory of direct borrowing from the Apostolic writings will not meet all the facts of the case. Seneca's 2. Again; it is not sufficient to examine Seneca's writings
dons to hy themselves, but we must enquire how far he was anticipr<mous pated Dy the older philosophers in those brilliant flashes of theological truth or of ethical sentiment, which from time to time dazzle us in his writings. If after all they should prove to be only lights reflected from the noblest thoughts and sayings of former days, or at best old fires rekindled and fanr>«*H into a brighter flame, we have found a solution more simple and natural, than if we were to ascribe them to direct intercourse with Christian teachers or immediate acquaintance with Christian writings. We shall not cease in this case to regard them as true promptings of the Word of God which was from the beginning, bright rays of the Divine Light which ' was in the world' though 'the world knew it not,' which 'shineth in the darkness' though 'the darkness comprehended it not': but we shall no longer confound them with the direct effulgence of
1 See above, p. 260 sq. Compare * Ep. Mor. cxx. 13' Non aliter quam
Hebrews xii. 5 sq., and see Prov. iii. in tenebris lumen eflulsit.'
11, 12, which is quoted there.
the same Word made flesh, the Shechinah at length tabernacled among men,'whose glory we beheld, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father.'
And this is manifestly the solution of many coincidences which have been adduced above. Though Seneca was essentially a Stoic, yet he read widely and borrowed freely from all existing schools of philosophy1. To the Pythagoreans and the Platonists he is largely indebted; and even of Epicurus, the founder of the rival school, he speaks with the deepest respect2. It will have been noticed that several of the most striking passages cited above are direct quotations from earlier writers, and therefore can have no immediate connexion with Christian ethics. The sentiment for instance, which approaches most nearly to the Christian maxim 'Love your enemies,' is avowedly based on the teaching of his Stoic predecessors*. And where Parallels this is not the case, recent research has shown that (with some found in exceptions) passages not only as profound in feeling and truth- ^jSjJJ, ful in sentiment, but often very similar in expression and not less striking in their resemblance to the Apostolic writings, can be produced from the older philosophers and poets of Greece and Rome'1. One instance will suffice. Seneca's picture of the perfect man has been already mentioned as reflecting some features of the 'Son of Man' delineated in the Gospels. Yet the earlier portrait drawn by Plato in its minute touches reproduces the likeness with a fidelity so striking, that the chronological impossibility alone has rescued him from the charge of plagiarism: 'Though doing no wrong,' Socrates is represented saying, 'he will have the greatest reputation for
1 See what he says of himself, de Vit. liche Kliinge aiu den Qriechischcn und
beat. 3, de Otio 2 (29). BOmischen Klassikern (Gotha, 1865),
a de Vit. beat. 13 'In ea quidem ipsa p. 327 sq.
sententia sum, invitishocnostrispopu- 4 Such parallels are produced from
laribusdicam, sanctaEpicurumet recta older writers by Aubertin (Sonique et
praecipereet,si propius accesseris, tris- Saint Paul), who has worked out this
tia': comp. Ep. Mor. ii. 5, vi. 6, viii line of argument. See also the large
8, xx. 9. collection of passages in R. Schneider
3 de Otio 1 (28). See above, p. 264, Christliche Kliinge. note 7. See also R. Schneider Christ
wrong-doing,' 'he will go forward immovable even to
appearing to be unjust throughout life but being just,''he will
be scourged,' 'last of all after suffering every kind of evil he
will be crucified (dvaaxi'vSv\ev8^aerai)1.' Not unnaturally
Clement of Alexandria, quoting this passage, describes Plato
as 'all but foretelling the dispensation of salvation'.'
Manyco- 3. Lastly: the proverbial suspicion which attaches to
are faUa- statistics ought to be extended to coincidences of language,
for they may be, and often are, equally fallacious. An expression or a maxim, which detached from its context offers a striking resemblance to the theology or the ethics of the Gospel, is found to have a wholly different bearing when considered in its proper relations.
Stoicism This consideration is especially important in the case before
and Chris- . r J r
tianity are us. Stoicism and Christianity are founded on widely different
oppose . theological conceptions; and the ethical teaching of the two in many respects presents a direct contrast. St Jerome was led astray either by his ignorance of philosophy or by his partiality for a stern asceticism, when he said that' the Stoic dogmas in very many points coincide with our own3.' It is in the doctrines of the Platonist and the Pythagorean that the truer resemblances to the teaching of the Bible are to be sought . It was not the Porch but the Academy that so many famous teachers, like Justin Martyr and Augustine, found to be the vestibule to the Church of Christ. Again and again the Platonic philosophy comes in contact with the Gospel; but Stoicism moves in another line, running parallel indeed and impressive by its parallelism, but for this very reason precluded from any approximation. Only when he deserts the Stoic platform, does Seneca really approach the level of Christianity. Struck by their beauty, he adopts and embodies the maxims of other schools: but they betray their foreign origin, and refuse to be incorporated into his system.
1 Plato Resp. ii. pp. 361, 362. See * Hieron. Comm. in Isai. i*. a. 11
Aubertin p. 254 sq. 'Stoici qui nostra dogmati in pleris
a Strom, v. 14 novovovxl rp<xprrreiuy que concordant' (Op. Iv. p. 139, Val
Ttjy eurripiov olKovo,uiay. larsi).
For on the whole Lactantius was right, when he called Seneca
WfLR 1 tiFllfl
Seneca a most determined follower of the Stoics1. It can only gtoic. excite our marvel that any one, after reading a few pages of this writer, should entertain a suspicion of his having been in any sense a Christian. If the superficial colouring is not seldom deceptive, we cannot penetrate skindeep without encountering some rigid and inflexible dogma of the Stoic school. In his fundamental principles he is a disciple of Zeno; and, being a disciple of Zeno, he could not possibly be a disciple of Christ.
Interpreted by this fact, those passages which at first sight His panstrike us by their resemblance to the language of the Apostles materialand Evangelists assume a wholly different meaning. The basis lsm" of Stoic theology is gross materialism, though it is more or less relieved and compensated in different writers of the school by a vague mysticism. The supreme God of the Stoic had no existence distinct from external nature. Seneca himself identifies Him with fate, with necessity, with nature, with the world as a living whole*. The different elements of the universe, such as the planetary bodies, were inferior gods, members of the Universal Being*. With a bold consistency the Stoic assigned a corporeal existence even to moral abstractions. Here also Seneca manifests his adherence to the tenets of his school. Courage, prudence, reverence, cheerfulness, wisdom, he says, are all bodily substances, for otherwise they could not affect bodies, as they manifestly do4.
Viewed by the light of this material pantheism, the injunc- His lan
I* lift Q G
tion to be 'followers of God ' cannot mean the same to him as mastbe in. terpreted it does even to the Platonic philosopher, still less to the tenets. Christian Apostle. In Stoic phraseology 'imitation of God' signifies nothing deeper than a due recognition of physical laws on the part of man, and a conformity thereto in his own actions. It is merely a synonyme for the favourite Stoic formula of 'accordance with nature.' This may be a useful precept; but so interpreted the expression is emptied of its religious significance. In fact to follow the world and to follow God are equivalent phrases with Seneca1. Again, in like manner, the lesson drawn from the rain and the sunshine freely bestowed upon all2, though in form it coincides so nearly with the language of the Gospel, loses its theological meaning and becomes merely an appeal to a physical fact, when interpreted by Stoic doctrine. Consistent Hence also language, which must strike the ear of a mk^in Christian as shocking blasphemy, was consistent and natural 8Pe"^n8 on the lips of a Stoic. Seneca quotes with approbation the saying of his revered Sextius, that Jupiter is not better than a good man; he is richer, but riches do not constitute superior goodness; he is longer-lived, but greater longevity does not ensure greater happiness*. 'The good man,' he says elsewhere, 'differs from God only in length of time4.' 'He is like God, excepting his mortality8.' In the same spirit an earlier Stoic, Chrysippus, had boldly argued that the wise man is as useful to Zeus, as Zeus is to the wise man8. Such language is the legitimate consequence of Stoic pantheism. He has no Hence also the Stoic, so long as he was true to the tenets conscious- £ his school, could have no real consciousness of sin. Only
1 See above, p. 249. nam, omnia ejusdem dei nomina sunt
1 See especially de Bene}, iv. 7, 8 varie utentis sua potestate'; de Vit.
'Natura, inquit, hoc mini praestat. beat. 8 'Mundus ouncta complectens
Non intellegis te, cam hoc dicis, mutare rectorque universi deus.' Occasionally
nomen deo? quid enim aliud est natura a more personal conception of deity
quam deus et divina ratio toti mundo appears: e.g. ad Helv. Matr. 8.
partibusque ejus inserta ?...Hunc eun- * de Clem. i. 8.
dem et fatum si dixeris, non mentieris * Ep. Mot. cvi:comp. Ep.Mor. oxvii. ... Sic nunc naturam voca, fatum, f ortu
ness of' «
sin- where there is a distinct belief in a personal God, can this consciousness find a resting-place. Seneca and Tertullian might use the same word peccatum, but its value and significance to the two writers cannot be compared. The Christian Apostle and the Stoic philosopher alike can say, and do say, that 'All men have erred1'; but the moral key in which the saying is pitched is wholly different. With Seneca error or sin is nothing more than the failure in attaining to the ideal of the perfect man which he sets before him, the running counter to the law of the universe in which he finds himself placed. He does not view it as an offence done to the will of an all-holy all-righteous Being, an unfilial act of defiance towards a loving and gracious Father. The Stoic conception of error or sin is not referred at all to the idea of God*. His pantheism had so obscured the personality of the Divine Being, that such reference was, if not impossible, at least unnatural.
1 de Ira ii. 16 'Quid est autem cur 4 de Prov. 1.
hominem ad tam infelicia exempla re- 8 de Count. Sap. 8: cotup. Ep. ilor.
voces, cum habeas mundum deumque, xxxi. 'Par deo surges.' NaT, in one
quern ex omnibus animalibus ut solus respect good men exoel God, 'Ille extra
imitetur, solus intellegit.' patientiam malorum est, vos supra
2 See the passages quoted above, p. patientiam,' de Prov. 6.
264 sq. « Plut. adv. Stoic. 33 (Op. ilar. p.
3 Ep. ilor. lxxiii. 12, 13. 1078).
And the influence of this pantheism necessarily pervades the Meaning Stoic vocabulary. The 'sacer spiritus' of Seneca may be gpirffin0 y translated literally by the Holy Spirit, the irvevfia aryiov, of9enecaScriptural language; but it signifies something quite different. His declaration, that we are 'members of God,' is in words almost identical with certain expressions of the Apostle; but its meaning has nothing in common. Both the one and the other are modes of stating the Stoic dogma, that the Universe is one great animal pervaded by one soul or principle of life, and that into men, as fractions of this whole, as limbs of this body, is transfused a portion of the universal spirit*. It is almost purely a physical conception, and has no strictly theological value.
Again, though the sterner colours of Stoic morality are fre- His moral quently toned down in Seneca, still the foundation of his ethical hag au the system betrays the repulsive features of his school. His funda- TMpuiaive mental maxim is not to guide and train nature, but to overcome Stoicism.
1See the passages quoted above, 3 Compare thewell-known passage in
p. 261 sq. Virgil, Mn. vi. 726 sq.' Spiritus intus alit
2 See the remarks of Baur I. c. p. 190 totamque iufusa per artus mens agitat
sq., on this subject. molem et magno se corpore misoet.'
it1. The passions and affections are not to be directed, but to be crushed. The wise man, he says, will be clement and gentle, but he will not feel pity, for only old women and girls will be moved by tears; he will not pardon, for pardon is the remission of a deserved penalty; he will be strictly and inexorably just!. It is obvious that this tone leaves no place for repentance, for forgiveness, for restitution, on which the theological ethics of the Gospel are built. The very passage3, which has often been quoted as a parallel to the Saviour's dying words,'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,' really stands in direct contrast to the spirit of those words: for it is not dictated by tenderness and love, but expresses a contemptuous pity, if not a withering scorn.
In the same spirit Seneca commits himself to the impassive calm which forms the moral ideal of his school4. He has no sympathy with a righteous indignation, which Aristotle called 'the spur of virtue'; for it would disturb the serenity of the Its impas- mind8. He could only have regarded with a lofty disdain contrasts (unless for the moment the man triumphed over the philowith the gopher) the grand outburst of passionate sympathy which in the the Gos- Apostle of the Gentiles has wrung a tribute of admiration even ! from unbelievers,' Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is
offended, and I burn not8?' He would neither have appreciated nor respected the spirit which dictated those touching words, 'I say the truth...I lie not...I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart...for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh7.' He must have spurned the precept which bids the Christian 'rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep1,' as giving the direct lie to a sovereign maxim of Stoic philosophy. To the consistent disciple of Zeno the agony of Gethsemane could not have appeared, as to the Christian it ever will appear, the most sublime spectacle of moral sympathy, the proper consummation of a Divine life: for insensibility to the sorrows and sufferings of others was the only passport to perfection, as conceived in the Stoic ideal.
1 <le Brev. I'it. 14 'Hominisuaturam mortem quo suam exspectat. Non cum Stoicis vincere.' magis hanc timet quam illam dolet.
2 de Clem. ii. 5—7, where he makes Inhonesta est omnia trepidatioet sollia curious attempt to vindicate the citudo.' And see especially Ep. Jfor. Stoics. cxvi.
9 It is quoted above, p. 268. * de Ira iii. 3.
4 Ep. Mor. lxxiv. 30 'Non adfligitur • 2 Cor. xi. 29.
sapiens liberorum amissione, non ami- 7 Rom. ix. 1, 2, 3.
corum : eodem enim animo fert illorum
These considerations will have shown that many even of the most obvious parallels in Seneca's language are really no parallels at all. They will have served moreover to reveal Inconsistthe wide gulf which separates him from Christianity. It must geneca be added however, that his humanity frequently triumphs over andofStohis philosophy; that he often writes with a kindliness and a sympathy which, if little creditable to his consistency, is highly honourable to his heart. In this respect however he does not stand alone. Stoicism is in fact the most incongruous, the most self-contradictory, of all philosophic systems. With a gross and material pantheism it unites the most vivid expres sions of the fatherly love and providence of God: with the sheerest fatalism it combines the most exaggerated statements of the independence and self-sufficiency of the human soul: with the hardest and most uncompromising isolation of the individual it proclaims the most expansive view of his relations to all around. The inconsistencies of Stoicism were a favourite taunt with the teachers of rival schools*. The human heart in fact refused to be silenced by the dictation of a rigorous and artificial system, and was constantly bursting its philosophical fetters.
But after all allowance made for the considerations just Coinoi
urged, some facts remain which still require explanation. It Btin reappears that the Christian parallels in Seneca's writings become j£p\" fnelj6 more frequent as he advances in life*. It is not less true that
1 Rom. xii. 15. 3 Among his more Christian works
a See for instance the treatise of Pin- are the de Providentia, de Otio, de Vita
tarch de RepugnarUiia Stoicorum (Op. beata, de Benefieiii, and the Eptitolae
Mor. p. 1033 sq.). Morales ; among his less Christian, the they are much more striking and more numerous than in the other great Stoics of the Roman period, Epictetus and M. Aurelius ; for though in character these later writers approached much nearer to the Christian ideal than the minister of Nero, though their fundamental doctrines are as little inconsistent with Christian theology and ethics as his, yet the closer resemblances of sentiment and expression, which alone would suggest any direct obligations to Christianity, are, I believe, decidedly more frequent in Seneca1. Lastly: after all deductions made, a class of coincidences still remains, of which the expression 'spend and be spent' may be taken as a type2, and which can hardly be considered accidental. If any historical connexion (direct or indirect) can be traced with a fair degree of probability, we may reasonably look to this for the solution of such Historical coincidences. I shall content myself here with stating the 'different ways in which such a connexion was possible or probable, without venturing to affirm what was actually the case, for the data are not sufficient to justify any definite theory. (i) The 1. The fact already mentioned is not unimportant, that the
origiuof principal Stoic teachers all came from the East, and that Stoicism, therefore their language and thought must in a greater or less degree have borne the stamp of their Oriental origin. We advance a step further towards the object of our search, if we remember that the most famous of them were not only Oriental but Shemitic. Babylonia, Phoenicia, Syria, Palestine, are thenhomes. One comes from Scythopolis, a second from Apamea, a third from Ascalon, a fourth from Ptolemais, two others from
de Constantia SapientU and de Ira. In the belief that he was acquainted with
some cases the date is uncertain; but the language of the Gospel,
what I have said in the text will, I - See above, p. 270. Aubertin has ai
think, be found substantially true. tacked this very instance (p. 360 sq.i.
1 I have read Epictetus and M. Au- but without success. He only shows
relius through with a view to such coin- (what did not need showing) that'im
cidences, and believe the statement in pendere' is used elsewhere in this same
the text to be correct. Several of the sense. The important feature in the
more remarkable parallels in the former coincidence is the combination of the
writer occur in the passages quoted be- active and passive voioes.
low, p. 299 sq., and seem to warrant
Hierapolis, besides several from Tyre and Sidon or their colonies, such as Citium and Carthage1. What religious systems they had the opportunity of studying, and how far they were indebted to any of these, it is impossible to say. But it would indeed be strange if, living on the confines and Its possieven within the borders of the home of Judaism, the Stoic tion° j/8" teachers escaped all influence from the One religion which,Judaismit would seem, must have attracted the attention of the thoughtful and earnest mind, which even then was making rapid progress through the Roman Empire, and which afterwards through the Gospel has made itself far more widely felt than any other throughout the civilised world. I have already ventured to ascribe the intense moral earnestness of the Stoics to their Eastern origin. It would be no extravagant assumption that they also owed some ethical maxims and some theological terms (though certainly not their main doctrines) directly or indirectly to the flourishing Jewish schools of their age, founded on the teaching of the Old Testament. The exaggerations of the early Christian fathers, who set down all the loftier sentiments of the Greek philosophers as plagiarisms from the lawgiver or the prophets, have cast suspicion on any such affiliation: but we should not allow ourselves to be blinded by reactionary prejudices to the possibilities or rather the probabilities in the case before us.
2. The consideration which I have just advanced will (2) Seneca's possible knowledge of explain many coincidences: but we may proceed a step further.
1 I have noted down the following Cyreiu, Eratosthenes (p. 351). TheCili
homes of more or less distinguished oian Stoics are enumerated below p. 288.
Stoic teachers from the East; Seleucia, Of the other famous teaohers belong
Diogenes (p. 41); Epiphania, Euphrates ing to the School, Cleanthes came from
(p. 613); Scythopolii, Basilides (p. 614); Assos (p. 31), Ariston from Chios (p. 32),
Aicalon, Antibius, Eubius (p. 615) • Dionysius from Heraclea (p. 35), Spha-.
Hierapolis in Syria (?), Serapio(p. 612), rus from Bosporus (p. 35), Panffltius
Publius (p. 615); Tyre, Antipater, Apol- from Rhodes (p. 500), Epictetus from
lonius (p. 520); Sidon, Zeno (p. 36), Hierapolis in Phrygia (p. 660). The
Boethus? (p. 40); Ptolemais, Diogenes references are to the pages of Zeller's
(p. 43); Apamea in Syria, Posidonius work, where the authorities for the
(p. 509); Citium, Zeno (p. 27), Perseus statements will be found. (p. 34); Carthage, Herillus (p. 33);
Christian- _ . . .. , , ... , *, , , _, r
ity. Is it impossible, or rather is it improbable, that beneca was
acquainted with the teaching of the Gospel in some rudimentary form? His silence about Christianity proves nothing, because it proves too much. If an appreciable part of the lower population of Rome had become Christians some few years before Seneca's death1, if the Gospel claimed converts within the very palace walls*, if a few (probably not more than a few) even in the higher grades of society, like Pomponia Grajcina', had adopted the new faith, his acquaintance with its main facts is at least a very tenable supposition. If his own account may be trusted, he made a practice of dining with his slaves and engaging them in familiar conversation4; so that the avenues of information open to him were manifold5. His acquaintance with any written documents of Christianity is less probable: but of the oral Gospel, as repeated from the lips of slaves and others, he might at least have had an accidental and fragmentary knowledge. This supposition would explain the coincidences with the Sermon on the Mount and with the parables of our Lord, if they are clear and numerous enough to demand an explanation. (3) His 3. But the legend goes beyond this, and connects Seneca
conSon directly with St Paul. The Stoic philosopher is supposed to be with St included among the 'members of Caesar's household' mentioned in one of the Apostle's letters from Rome. The legend itself however has no value as independent evidence. The coincidences noted above would suggest it, and the forged correspondence would fix and substantiate it. We are therefore thrown back on the probabilities of the case; and it must be confessed that, when we examine the Apostle's history with a view to tracing a historical connexion, the result is not very encouraging. St Paul, it is true, when at Corinth, was brought before Seneca's brother Gallio, to whom the philosopher Gallio. dedicates more than one work and of whom he speaks in tenderly affectionate language1; but Gallio, who 'cared for none of these things,' to whom the questions at issue between St Paul and his accusers were merely idle and frivolous disputes about obscure national customs2, would be little likely to bestow a serious thought upon a case apparently so unimportant, still less likely to communicate his experiences to his brother in Rome. Again, it may be urged that as St Paul on his arrival in Rome was delivered to Burrus the prefect of the Burrus. praetorian guards*, the intimate friend of Seneca, it might be expected that some communication between the Apostle and the philosopher would be established in this way. Yet, if we reflect that the praetorian prefect must yearly have been receiving hundreds of prisoners from the different provinces, that St Paul himself was only one of several committed to his guardianship at the same time, that the interview of this supreme magistrate with any individual prisoner must have been purely formal, that from his position and character Burrus was little likely to discriminate between St Paul's case and any other, and finally that he appears to have died not very long after the Apostle's arrival in Rome*, we shall see very little cause to lay stress on such a supposition. Lastly; it is said that, when St Paul was brought before Nero for trial, Nero. Seneca must have been present as the emperor's adviser, and being present must have interested himself in the religious opinions of so remarkable a prisoner. But here again we have only a series of assumptions more or less probable. It is not known under what circumstances and in whose presence
1 See l'hilippians pp. 17 sq., 25 sq. Rossi Hull, di Archeol. Crist. 1867, p
- Phil. iv. 22; see Philippians p. 6, quoted by Friedlander, in. p. 535)
171 sq. mentions one M. Anneus Plains Pe
3 See Philippians p. 21. trus, obviously a Christian. Was he
4 Ep. Mor. xlvii. descended from some freedman of Se
5 An early inscription at Ostia (de neca's house?
such a trial would take place; it is very far from certain that St Paul's case came on before Seneca had retired from the court; and it is questionable whether amid the formalities of the trial there would have been the opportunity, even if there were the will, to enter into questions of religious or philosophical interest. On the whole therefore it must be confessed that no great stress can be laid on the direct historical links which might connect Seneca with the Apostle of the Gentiles.
Summary I have hitherto investigated the historical circumstances which might explain any coincidences of language or thought as arising out of obligations on the part of Seneca or of his Stoic predecessors. It has been seen that the teachers of this school generally were in all HkeUhood indebted to Oriental, if not to Jewish, sources for their religious vocabulary; that Seneca himself not improbably had a vague and partial acquaintance with Christianity, though he was certainly anything but a Christian himself; and that his personal intercourse with the Apostle of the Gentiles, though not substantiated, is at least not an impossibility. How far the coincidences may be ascribed to one or other of these causes, I shall not attempt to discriminate: but there is also another aspect of the question which must not be put out of sight. In some instances at least, if any obligation exist at all, it cannot be on the side of the philosopher, for the chronology resists this inference: and for these cases some other solution must be found. Stoiounn, As the speculations of Alexandrian Judaism had elaborated andrian a new ar*d important theological vocabulary, so also to the (["rfrepara- language 0I> Stoicism, which itself likewise had sprung from the
tionforthe union of the religious sentiment of the East with the philoGospel. ° r
sophical thought of the West, was due an equally remarkable development of moral terms and images. To the Gospel, which was announced to the world in 'the fulness of time,' both the one and the other paid their tribute. As St John (nor St John alone) adopted the terms of Alexandrian theosophy as the least inadequate to express the highest doctrines of Christianity, so St Paul (nor St Paul alone) found in the ethical laEguage of the Stoics expressions more fit than he could find elsewhere to describe in certain aspects the duties and privileges, the struggles and the triumphs, of the Christian life. But though the words and symbols remained substantially the same, yet in their application they became instinct with new force and meaning. This change in either case they owed to their being placed in relation to the central fact of Christianity, the Incarnation of the Son. The Alexandrian terms, expressing the attributes and operations of the Divine Word, which in their origin had a purely metaphysical bearing, were translated into the sphere of practical theology, when God had descended among men to lift up men to God. The Stoic expressions, describing the independence of the individual spirit, the subjugation of the unruly passions, the universal empire of a triumphant self-control, the cosmopolitan relations of the wise man, were quickened into new life, when an unfailing source of strength and a boundless hope of victory had been revealed in the Gospel, when all men were proclaimed to be brothers, and each and every man united with God in Christ.
It is difficult to estimate, and perhaps not very easy to Wide inoverrate, the extent to which Stoic philosophy had leavened the ethical the moral vocabulary of the civilised world at the time of the !>*n|SmE0 Christian era. To take a single instance; the most important icwm. of moral terms, the crowning triumph of ethical nomenclature, avveiSriai<;, conscientia, the internal, absolute, supreme judge of individual action, if not struck in the mint of the Stoics, at all events became current coin through their influence. To a great extent therefore the general diffusion of Stoic language would lead to its adoption by the first teachers of Christianity; while at the same time in St Paul's own case personal circumstances might have led to a closer acquaintance with the diction of this school.
Tarsus, the birth-place and constant home of St Paul, was Stoicism at this time a most important, if not the foremost, seat of
Greek learning. Of all the philosophical schools, the Stoic
was the most numerously and ably represented at this
great centre. Its geographical position, as a half-way house,
had doubtless some influence in recommending it to a
philosophy which had its birth-place in the East and grew