Page images

one another, as well as on the particles of-light, for producing mof t of the phsenomena in nature? But in reality, thofe minute particles are only agited according to certain laws of nature, by fome other agent, wherein the force exifts and not in them, which have only the motion; which motion ki the body moved, the Peripatetics rightly judge to be a mere paflion, but in the mover to be m^n* er net.

251. It pafleth with many, I know not how, that mechanical principles give a clear folution of the phsenomena. The Democritic hypothefis, faith dodlor Cudworth, doth much more handfomeljr and intelligibly folve the phsenomena, than that of Ariftotle and Plato. But things rightly confidered, perhaps it will be found not to folve any phasnome

*hon at all. For all phasnomena are, to fpeak truly, appearances in the foul or mind; and it hath never been explained, nor can it be explained, how external bodies, figures and motions -fhould pro=duce an appearance in the mind. Thofe principles^ therefore, do not folve, if by folving is meant affigning the real, either efficient or final caufe of appear* ances, but only red«ce them to general rules. •

252. There is a certain analogy, conftancy, and uniformity in the phasnomena or appearances of na» ture, which are a foundation for general rales: and thefe are a grammar for the underItanding of na^ ture, or that feries of effe<5ls in the vifible world, whereby we are enabled to forefee what will come' to pafs, in the, natural courfe of things. Plotfnuff obferves, in his third Ennead, that the art of pre-faging is in fome fort the reading of natura-1 letters' denoting order, and that fo far forth as analogy obtains in the univerfe, there may be" vaticination. And in reality, he that foretells the motions of the

pkplanets, or the effects of medicines, or the refult* of chemical or mechanical experiments, may be faid to do it by natural vaticination.

253. We know a thing when We underfland it 1 and we underftand it, when we can interpret of tell what it fignifies. Strictly the fenfe knows nothing. We perceive indeed founds by hearing, and characters by fight: but we are not therefore faid to underftand them. After the fame manner, the phscnomena of nature are alike vifible to all : but all have not alike learned the connexion of natural things, or underftand what they fignify, or know how to vaticinate by them* There is no queftion, faith Socrates, in Theaeteto, concerning that which is agreeable to each perfon; 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 every kind, is the wifeft. According to Socrates, you and the cook may judge of a difh on the table equally well; but while the dim is making, the cook can better foretell what will enfue from this or that manner of compofmg it. Nor is this manner of reafoning confined only to morals or politics; but extends alfo to natural fcience.

254. As the natural connexion of figns with the things Signified is regular and conftant, it forms a fort "of rational difcourfe (a), and is therefore che immediate effect of an intelligent caufe. This is agreeable to the philofophy of Plato and other ancients. Plotinus indeed ftith, that which a«fls naturally is not imellection, but a certain power of moving matter, which doth not know, but only do. And k nuift be owned, that, as faculties are multiplied by philofophers according to their operations, the will may be diftinguifliea from the intellect.

(•0 is*-
QL Bat

But it will not therefore follow, that the will, which operates in rhe courfe of nature, is not conducted" and applied by intellect, although it be granted that neither will underftands, nor intellect wills. Therefore, the phsenomena of nature, which ftrike on the fenfcs and arc underftood by the mind, form not only a magnificent fpectacle, but alfo a mod coherent, entertaining, and rnftructive drfcourfe; and ro effect this, they are conducted, adjufted, and ranged by the greateft wifdom. This language or Jifcourfe is ftudied with different attention, and interpreted with different degrees of Ikill. But fo faf as men have ftudied and remarked it's rules, and Can interpret right, fo far they may be faid to be knowing in nature. A beaft is like a man who hears a itrange tongue, but underftands nothing.

£55. Nature, faith the learned Doctor Cudworth, is not mafter of art or wifdom: Nature is ratio merla & confufa, reafon immerfed and plunged 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 various properties, appearances and viciflitudes, in a word, the whole feries of things in this vifibfe world, which we call the courfe of nature, is fo wifely managed and carried on, that the moft improved human reafon cannot thoroughly comprehend even the leaft particle thereof; fo far is it from feeming to be produced by fuddled or confounded reaforr.

256. Natural productions, it is true, are not all equally perfect. But neither doth it fuit with the order of things, the ftructure of the univerfe, or the ends of providence that they fhould be fo. General rules, we have feen (a), are neceflary -to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

make the world intelligible: and from the obfervation of iuch rules, natural evils will fometimes unavoidably enfue: things will be produced , in a flow length of time, and arrive at different de- , grees of perfection.

257. k mult be owned, we are not confcious of the fyftole and diaftole of the heart, or the motion . of the diaphragm. It may not neverthelefs be. thence inferred, that unknowing nature can act regularly, as well as ourfelves. The true inference is, that the felf-thinking individual, or humane perfon, is not the real author of thole natural motions. And in .fu<ft no man blames himfelf if they are wrong, or values himfelf if they are right. The fame may be laid of the fingers of a mufician, which fome object to be moved by habit which underftands not -, it being evident, that what is done by rule mult proceed from fomething that underftands the rule ;. therefore, if not from the mufician himfelf, from fome other active intelligence, the fame perhaps which governs bees and fpiders, and moves the limbs of thofe who walk in their fleep.

258. Inftruments, occafions, and figns ( #) occur in, or rather make up, the whole vifible courfe of nature. Thele, being no agents themfclves, are under the direction of one agent concerting all for one end, the fupreme good. All thofe motions, whether in animal bodies or in other parts of the fyftem of nature, which are not effects of particular wills, feem to fpring from the fame general caufe with the vegetation of plants, an setherial fpirit actuated by a mind.

259. The firft poets and theologers of Greece and the eait confidered the generation of things, as afcribed rather to a divine caufe, but the Phyfici

(I) 160.

« EelmineJätka »