Page:A Brief History of Modern Philosophy.djvu/15

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THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RENAISSANCE

of its subjects is the acceptance of general religious ideas (the unity of Deity, predestination).

3. The general religious ideas which Grotius has in mind, and which even Melanchthon accepted, were elaborated by a series of thinkers in more or less direct opposition to the confessional conception. Similar ideas had already been expressed during the period of the older Italian Renaissance (especially in the Platonic Academy at Florence). Jean Bodin (a Frenchman learned in law, d. 1596), previously mentioned, in his remarkable work called the Dialogue of Seven Men (Colloquium Heptaplomeres) describes a conversation between men whose religious viewpoints were widely at variance. Two of the men, defending natural religion—one of them dogmatically, the other more critically—engage in controversy with a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Calvinist, a Jew, and a Mohammedan. According to Bodin, true religion consists in the purified soul turning to God, the infinite essence. This religion can be exercised within any of the various religions, and the seven men therefore separate in charity and peace.

Bodin’s book was in circulation for a long time in nothing but manuscript copies. In 1624, however, the English diplomat, Herbert of Cherbury, published his book De veritate, which remained the text book of natural religion for a long number of years. Cherbury takes issue with those on the one hand who regard confessional faith as superior to rational knowledge, and seek to inculcate such faith by threats of future punishment, and those on the other hand who pretend to depend wholly on the rational understanding, together with those who would derive everything from sense experience, conceiving the soul as a blank tablet (tabula Rasa). He holds that there