So large a part of human life passes in a state contrary to our natural desires, that one of the principal topics of moral instruction is the art of bearing calamities; and such is the certainty of evil, that it is the duty of every man to furnish his mind with those principles that may enable him to act under it with decency and propriety.
The sect of ancient philosophers that boasted to have carried this necessary science to the highest perfection were the Stoics, or scholars of Zeno, whose wild enthusiastic virtue pretended to an exemption from the sensibilities of unenlightened mortals, and who proclaimed themselves exalted, by the doctrines of their sect, above the reach of those miseries which embitter life to the rest of the world. They therefore removed pain, poverty, loss of friends, exile, and violent death, from the catalogue of evils; and passed, in their haughty style, a kind of irreversible decree, by which they forbade them to be counted any longer among the objects of terror or anxiety, or to give disturbance to the tranquillity of a wise man.
The only persons amongst the heathens who sophisticated nature and philosophy were the Stoics; who affirmed a fatal, unchangeable concatenation of causes, reaching even to the elicite acts of mans will.
The Stoics held a fatality, and a fixed, unalterable course of events; but then they held also that they fell out by a necessity emergent from and inherent in the things themselves, which God himself could not alter.