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And a Tranflation from the Greek of
PROCLUS'S THEOLOGICAL ELEMENTS.
By THOMAS TAYLOR.
Νυν αὔτε σκοπὸν αλλον, ὃν ἔπω τις βάλεν ανής,
Εἴσομαι αἴ κε τύχοιμι, πόρη δέ μοι εἶχε ΑΠΟΛΛΩΝ. HOM. ODYS.
And Sold by T. PAYNE and SON; B. WHITE and SON; L. DAVIS; J. ROBSON;
Now present the reader with the remaining part of the Commentaries of Proclus on Euclid: with the addition of his Theological Elements, and a Hiftory of the Restoration of the Platonic Theology, by the latter disciples of Plato. Should my design be enquired into, in combining works which the superficial observer will confider as oppofite and heterogeneous, I answer that it is no less novel than certain, no lefs important than appofite and connected. Its novelty will be evident by affuring the reader, that a vindication of philofophical Polytheism, as embraced by the wisdom, and fupported by the general voice of antiquity, is the ultimate tendency of its execution. Its connection too with geometry will be manifeft to every Tyro in Platonism, and has been fo copiously proved in the former volume, that it would be fuperfluous to repeat the demonftration in the prefent. I am well aware that nothing has been so much the subject of ridicule and declamation, of ignorant afperfion and impotent contempt, as the theology of the ancients. It has fupplied the harangues of the pulpit with an endless variety of popular argument, and an exhauftless source of priefly elocution. It has been equally derided by the man of learning and the merchant, by the noble and the vulgar, by the peasant and the priest. But it ftill lives in the works of the ancients, it is ftill capable of being fupported by found reasoning, and fublime philofophy; and its intrinfic excellence and truth will extend its exiftence beyond the wreck of modern systems, and the defolation of ages. Like a strong and capacious ship it fails with majeftic fecurity through the ocean of time; and sustains with careless dignity the ftorms of oppofition that roar round its well-compacted fides. The blafts of calumny may indeed impede
pede its progrefs, but are unable to fhatter its indiffoluble fabric; and the profperous gales of philofophy will always fucceed the tempefts of folly, and waft it with rapidity to the enlightned regions of mankind. The time perhaps is not far diftant, when this fortunate change may commence. Above twelve hundred years have elapfed fince the veffel of ancient wifdom vifited the civilized parts of the world, and the nations were bleft with its invaluable contents and during this dreadful interval, ignorance and delufion, ja gon and reverie, have held an undisturbed and univerfal reign. The depravity of the times is the fubject of general complaint: genius no longer foars; learning has evaporated into words; and philofophy is but a name. Yet, though the restoration of ancien: theology is the object of my moft ardent defires, I much fear that a period ftill more barbarous, with refpect to philofophy; that an age still darker and more debafed muft precede its eftablishment on the earth. Prodigies and deftruction attended, as we fhall obferve in the enfuing hiftory, its departure from mankind; and defolation will doubtlefs be the harbinger of its future appearance. The orb of viciffitude produces renovation and decay in regular fucceffion; and marks, as it revolves, the dormant events of future periods with the ruinou, characters of the past. Let us, therefore, patiently wait for, and joyfully expect the happy moment when the breezes of philofophy fhall arife with abundance and vigour; and impel the veffel of theology laden with the riches of wisdom, on our natal coaft. The revolution is certain, however remote: and the profpect is of itself fufficient to increase the vigour of exertion, and animate the expectations of hope; to enable us to brave the ftorms of ecclefiaftical perfecution, and vanquish the refiftance of folly.
Concerning Petitions and Axioms.
INCE the principles of geometry are triply divided into Hypothefes, Petitions, and Axioms, the difference between these we have explained in the preceding books. But we now intend to discourse more accurately of petition and axiom, as especially neceffary to our prefent defign. For hypotheses, which are alfo called definitions, we have already explained. It is common, therefore, as well to axioms as to petitions, to require no demonstration, and no
* In the two preceding books of this work our author has difplayed an uncommon degree of philofophic elegance and depth; and in the prefent two, he no lefs manifefts the greatest geometrical accuracy and skill. In the former he elevates us from participated truth to truth itself; and from the glimmering light of univerfals reflected in the catoptric bofom of the phantafy, to the bright refulgence of ideas. In the latter he combines geometry and philofophy, occafionally cloathes the rigid accuracy of demonftration with the enchanting imagery of divine imaginations, and unites the graces of diction with the precifion and fanctity of truth. Yet his genius, though rapid as a torrent, never paffes beyond the bounds of propriety; and though his thoughts are vehement and vaft, they are at the fame time orderly and majeltic. For my own part I confefs myself enamoured with the grandeur of his diction, aftonished with the magnificence of his conceptions, and enlightened by the irradiations of his powerful genius. And I defire nothing fo much as that others may experience fimilar effects from this admirable work. I only add, that the study of this fecond part is abfolutely neceffary to a perfect comprehenfion of Euclid's method and meaning; and to the understanding geometry completely and philofophically. It is cafy indeed to learn a fcience in a manner fufficient for mechanical purpofes; for this is accomplished by the many but it is arduous to learn it with a view to the perception of truth; VOL. II. for