Page images

one another, as well as on the particles of light, for producing most of the phænomena in nature ? But in reality, those minute particles are only agited according to certain laws of nature, by some other agent, wherein the force exists and not in them, which have only the motion ; which motion in the body moved, the Peripatetics rightly judge to be a mere passion, but in the mover to be érégraidh or act.

251. It pafseth with many, I know not how, that mechanical principles give a clear solution of the phænomena. The Democritic hypothesis, faith doctor Cudworth, doth much more handsomely and intelligibly solve the phænomena, than that of Aristotle and Plato. But things rightly considered, perhaps it will be found not to solve any phænome. 'ñon at all. For all phænomena are, to speak tru. Jy, appearances in the foul or mind; and it hach never been explained, nor can it be explained, how external bodies, figures and motions should produce an appearance in the mind. Those principles, therefore, do not folve, if by solving is meant afligning the real, either efficient or final cause of appearances, but only reduce them to general rules...

252. There is a certain' analogy, constancy, and uniformity in the phænomena or appearances of na. ture, which are a foundation for general rules: and there are a grammar for the understanding of nature, or thac series of effects in the visible worla; whereby' we are enabled to foresee what will come to pass, in the natural course of things. · Plotinus observes, in his third Ennead, that the art of prefaging is in some sort the reading of natural letters denoting order, and that so far forth as analogy obtains in the universe, there may be vaticinacion. And in reality, he that foretells the mocions of the

plas planers, or the effects of medicines, or the result, of chemical or mechanical experiments, may be said to do it by natural vaticination.

253. We know a thing when we understand it : and we understand it, when we can interpret or cell what it signifies. Strictly the sense knows nothing. We perceive indeed sounds by hearing, and characters by light : but we are not therefore said to understand thein. After the same manner, the phæ. pomena of nature are alike visible to all : but all have not alike learned the connexion of natural things, or understand what they signify, or know how to vaticinate by them. There is no question, faith Socrates, in Theæreto, concerning that which is agreeable to each person ; but concerning what will in time to come be agreeable, of which all men are not equally judg's. He who foreknoweth what will be in cvery kind, is the wiseft. According to Socrates, you and the cook may judge of a dish on the table equally well; but while the dish is making, the cook can better foretell what will ensue from this or that manner of composing it. Nor is this manner of reasoning confined only to morals or policics; buc extends also to natural science. · 254. As the natural connexion of signs with the things Ggnified is regular and constant, it forms a sort of racional discourse (a), and is therefore che immediate effect of an intelligent cause. This is agreeable to the philosophy of Plato and other an. cients. Plotinus indeed faith, that which acts naturally is not intellection, but a certain power of moving matter, which doch not know, but only do. And it must be owned, chat, as faculties are multiplied by philosophers according to their operations, che will may be distinguished from the intellect.

[blocks in formation]

But it will not therefore follow, that the will, which operates in the course of nature, is not conducted and applied by intellect, although it be granted that neither will understands, nor intellect wills. Therefore, the phænomena of nature, which strike on the fenfes and are understood by the mind, form not only a magnificent fpectacle, but also a most coherent, entertaining, and instructive discourse; and ro effect this, they are conducted, adjusted, and ranged by the greatest wisdom. This language or discourse is studied with different attention, and interpreted with different degrees of skill. But fo far ás men have studied and remarked it's rules, and can interpret right, so far they may be faid to be knowing in nature. A beast is like a man who hears a ftrange congue, but understands nothing.

2.55. Nature, saith the learned Doctor Cudworth, is not master of art or wisdom : Nature is racio merfa & confufa, reason immersed and plung. ed into matter, and as it were fuddled in it and confounded with it. But the formation of plants and animals, the motions of natural bodies, their vari. ous properties, appearances and vicissitudes, in a word, the whole series of things in this visible world, which we call the course of nature, is fo 'wisely managed and carried on, that the most improved human reason cannot thoroughly comprehend even the least particle thereof; so far is it from seeming to be produced by fuddled or confounded reafon.

256. Natural productions, it is true, are not all equally perfect. But neither doch it fuit with the order of things, the structure of the univerfe, or the ends of providence that chey should be fo. General rules, we have seen (a), are necessary to

(al 249, 252.


make the world intelligible : and from the conftant , observation of such rules, natural evils will some times unavoidably ensue: things will be produced, in a Now length of time, and arrive at different de- , grees of perfection.

257. It must be owned, we are not conscious of the systole and diastole of the heart, or the motion, of the diaphragm. It may not nevertheless be, thence interred, that unknowing nature can act re- : gularly, as well as ourselves. The true inference, is, that the self-thinking individual, or humane per. son, is not the real author of those natural motions, And in fact no man blames himself if they are wrong, or values himself if they are right. The same may be said of the fingers of a musician, which some object to be moved by habit which understands not; it being evident, that what is done by rule must proceed from something that understands the rule ;, therefore, if not from the musician himself, from some other active intelligence, the same pera haps which governs bees and spiders, and moves the limbs of those who walk in their neep.

258. Inftruments, occasions, and signs (6) occur in, or rather make up, the whole visible course of nature. These, being no agents themselves, are under the direction of one agent concerting all for one end, the supreme good. All those mocions, whether in animal bodies or in other parts of the system of nature, which are not effects of particular wills, seem to spring from the fame general cause with the vegetation of plants, an ætherial spirit actuated by a mind.

259. The first poets and theologers of Greece and the east considered the generation of things, as ascribed rather to a divine caufe, but the Physici

(b) 160.

to natural causes fubordinate to, and directed still by' a divine ; except fome corporealifts and me.' chanics, who vainly pretended to make a world without a God. The hidden force that unites, adjusts, and causeth all things to hang cogether, and move in harmony, which Orpheus and Epedocles ftyl. ed Hove; this principle of union is no blind principle, but acts with intellect. This divine love and incellect are not themselves obvious to our view, or otherwise discerned than in their effects. Intellect enlighcens, Love connects, and the sovereign Good attracts all things. .. .

260. All things are made for the fucrire good, all things tend to that end : and we inay be faid to account for a thing, when we thew that it is to beft. In the Phædon, Socrates declar's it to ba his opinion, that he, who supposed all things to have been dispofed and ordered by a mind (c), should not pretend to affign any other cause of them. "He blames physiologers for attempting to account for phenomena, particularly for gravity and cohefion, by vortexes and æther, overlooking the body ev and to dov, - the strongest bond and ċement which holds together all the parts of the universe, and not discerning the cause it felt from those things 'which only attend it... ! . 261. As in the microcofm, tlie constant regular senor of the motions of the vifi'era and con ained juices doch mot hinder particular voluntary motions to be impreffed by the mind on the animal spirit; évenrfo initite mundane fyftem, the fteddy obser: vance of certain laws of nature, in the groffer malfes and more Eonfpicuous morions, doch not hinder, but a voluntary agent may foinetimes communicate particular intprutions to the fine ætherjal medium; nga 1154, 160.


« EelmineJätka »