xi A SYNTHETIC PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING 409
By the close of the fourth century before Christ the two attitudes toward life confronted each other as Stoicism and Epicureanism, which have had a great influence upon the world. At its best, Stoicism produced men who transcended national boundaries in a great and noble conception of humanity. At its worst, it was hard, angular and self-conscious, without generous human sympathy and without grace or charm; the apotheosis of a rigid self-control from which all understanding of the loveliness of life had passed away. At its best Epicureanism was a serene and noble appreciation of the stable elements of life, a quiet and urbane enjoyment of its permanent qualities of loveliness. At its worst, it was a surrender to all the lawless impulses of a gross and unbridled sensuality; the apotheosis of untamed passion. It is impossible to watch the interplay of these two opposing conceptions and to observe the consequences of good or evil following from a one-sided emphasis upon either without realizing that each has its gifts to make to the life of man and that each needs to be supplemented by the other. When he stood on the Areopagus at Athens, Paul confronted the representatives of these two views of life, and though his thought was not moving along these channels, we can see that the thesis and antithesis met that day in a higher unity which included the elements of truth to which each bore witness.
The insistence upon righteousness in the prophets of the Old Testament moves in the same mental and moral realm as the ethical passion of Stoicism. The prophets brought home to Israel the sense of a set of absolute standards to which men must conform and by which they would be judged. They filled the moral demand with such fire and passion as it never developed among the Greeks. In fact, had it