Heathen philosophers, who took their names from the Greek word stoa, signifying a porch, or portico, because Zeno, the head of the Stoics, kept his school in a porch of the city of Athens. It is supposed that Zeno borrowed many of his opinions from the Jewish Scriptures; but it is certain that Socrates and Plato had taught much of them before. The Stoics generally maintained that nature impels every man to pursue whatever appears to him to be good. According to them, self-preservation and defence is the first law of animated nature. All animals necessarily derive pleasure from those things which are suited to them; but the first object of pursuit is not pleasure, but conformity to nature. Every ne, therefore, who has a right discernment of what is good, will be chiefly concerned to conform to nature in all his actions and pursuits. This is the origin of moral obligation. With respect to happiness or good, the stoical doctrine was altogether extravagant: they taught that all external things are indifferent and cannot affect the happiness of man; that pain, which does not belong to the mind, is not evil; and that a wise man will be happy in the midst of torture, because virtue itself is happiness.
Of all the sects however of the ancient philosophers, it is said that the Stoics came nearest the Christian; and that not only with respect to their strict regard to moral virtue, but also on account of their moral principles; insomuch, that Jerome affirms that in many things they agree with us. They asserted the unity of the Divine Being–the creation of the world by the Word–the doctrine of Providence–and the conflagration of the universe. They believed in the doctrine of fate, which they represented as no other than the will and purpose of God, and held that it had no tendency to looseness of life.
Charles Buck (1771-1815) was an English Independent minister, best known for the publication of his “Theological Dictionary”. According to the “Dictionary of National Biography”, a Particular Baptist minister named John C. Ryland (1723-1792) assisted Buck by writing many of the articles for the aforementioned publication. One may conclude, based not only Buck’s admiration for his friend Ryland, but also on the entries in his Theological Dictionary, that he stood head and shoulders with the High-Calvinists of his day.