Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 26.djvu/185
of ‘faculties’ are the internal sense, or conscience, distinguishing good from evil; the external sense, or sensation; and the discursus, or reason, which distinguishes the relations between conceptions produced by the other faculties. Finally, Herbert asserts that man's capacity for religion rather than his reason distinguishes him from animals. The ‘De Veritate’ was republished in Paris in 1636. A French translation appeared in the same city in 1639. It was first published in London in 1645, and again in 1659.
Herbert continued his theory in his ‘De Causis Errorum,’ a work on logical fallacies, published in 1645. With that work he issued accounts of his religious opinions in two tracts, ‘Religio Laici’ and ‘Ad Sacerdotes de Religione Laici,’ and three Latin poems, two of which, on life here and hereafter, also appear in the autobiography. He completed his exposition of his religious views in his ‘De Religiono Gentilium,’ published posthumously at Amsterdam in 1663 (2nd edit. 1700), which appeared in an English translation by W. Lewis in 1709, and is the only one of Herbert's philosophical works of which there is an English version. ‘A Dialogue between a Tutor and a Pupil,’ London, 1768, 4to, of which a manuscript is in the Bodleian Library, is also undoubtedly by Herbert, and fulfils the promise made by him in his autobiography of making a special treatise on education, but chiefly deals with the need of reforming religious instruction in accordance with his own religious theories. Herbert's religious doctrine starts with the assumption that religion, which is common to the human race, consists merely of the five innate ideas or axioms, that there is a God, that He ought to be worshipped, that virtue and piety are essential to worship, that man ought to repent of his sins, and that there are rewards and punishments in a future life. Herbert shows that all religions, Christian and pagan, are resolvable into these elements, and his method undoubtedly pointed the way to the science of comparative religion. The first axiom is illustrated, as in Paley's ‘Evidences,’ by the example of a watch, but both Herbert and Paley were here anticipated by Cicero (De Deorum Natura, ii. 34). Herbert rejects all Revelation, and describes so-called Revelation as the artifice of priests, for whom he has little respect. All known Revelations lack the universal assent which could alone demonstrate their truth. None the less, he admits, that a special revelation may be made directly to a particular person, and asserts that the sign vouchsafed to him when in doubt as to the publication of his ‘De Veritate’ was a genuine revelation from heaven. Finally, he regards Christianity as on the whole the best religion, because its dogmas are least inconsistent with his five primary articles. Incidentally Herbert describes sin as very often attributable to hereditary physical defects; declares that a virtuous man, whatever form his religion takes, will attain eternal happiness; and that it is best for a man to overlook injuries done him in this world, because the aggressor who does not suffer here will receive double punishment hereafter. In practice, Herbert seems to have conformed to the ceremonies of the church of England. Aubrey says that he kept a chaplain and had prayers read twice a day in his house.
Herbert shows no signs of any acquaintance with the works of his contemporary, Bacon; and, although he had read Plato, Aristotle, Tilenus, and Paracelsus, there can be no question of his originality as a speculative inquirer. His religious opinions excited nearly universal hostility, but it was not till some years after his death that much interest in them was exhibited. Charles Blount (1654-1693) [q. v.] professed himself a disciple, and paid Herbert the compliment of plagiarising his ‘Religio Laici’ in a volume of the same name (1682), and his ‘De Religione Gentilium’ in ‘Great is Diana of the Ephesians’ (1680). In his ‘Two First Books of Apollonius Tyaneus’ Blount claimed to have utilised unpublished notes by Herbert, but he only borrowed from his published works. Nathaniel Culverwell, in 1652, in his ‘Discourse of the Light of Nature,’ accepts in part Herbert's theory of à priori knowledge, but vehemently denounces his theory of religion. Richard Baxter, in ‘More Reason for the Christian Religion’ (1672), seeks to refute his objections to Revelation. Thomas Halyburton [q. v.], in ‘Natural Religion Insufficient’ (1714), was scandalised by Herbert's comparisons of Christianity with paganism. Locke, in his ‘Essay on Human Understanding,’ examines in detail Herbert's theory of innate ideas for the purpose of rejecting it, but adopts parts of his religious theory, and in his ‘Reasonableness of Christianity’ admits the justice of his strictures on sacerdotal theology. Dr. John Leland discusses from a hostile point of view Herbert's views in the opening chapter of his ‘View of the Principal Deistical Writers’ (1754), i. 134. In 1783 appeared ‘An Enquiry into the Infidelity of the Times, with Observations on Lord Herbert of Cherbury,’ by J. Ogilvie. Meanwhile, Herbert had received higher commendation abroad. He sent a copy of his ‘De Veritate’ to Gassendi the philosopher, through Milton's friend Diodati, and Gassendi refers, in the main approvingly, to his theory of