A denomination given to the cultivators of a species of philosophy originally derived from Socrates, and afterwards illustrated and enforced by Plato. The contradictory systems which had been successively urged upon the world were become so numerous, that, from a view of the variety and uncertainty of human opinions, many were let to conclude that truth lay beyond the reach of our comprehension. The consequence of this conclusion was absolute scepticism: hence the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, the preferableness of virtue to vice, were all held as uncertain. This sect, with that of the Epicureans, were the two chief that were in vogue at the time of Christ's appearance, and were embraced and supported by persons of high rank and wealth. A consideration of the principles of these two sects (see EPICUREANS) will lead us to form an idea of the deplorable state of the world at the time of Christ's birth; and the necessity there was of some divine teacher to convey to the mind true and certain principles of religion and wisdom. Jesus Christ, therefore, is with great propriety called the Day Spring from on High, the Sun of Righteousness, that arose upon a benighted world to dispel the clouds of ignorance and error, and discover to lost man the path of happiness and heaven. But, as we do not mean to enlarge much upon these and some other sects, which belong rather to philosophy than theology, we shall refer the reader to Buddeus's Introduction to the History of Philosophy; Stanley' Lives; Brucker's History of Philosophy; or (which is more modern) Enfield's Abridgment.