« EelmineJätka »
motion the Peripatetics trace out a first immoveable mover. The Platonics make God anthor of all good, author of no evil, and unchangeable. According to Anaxagoras there was a confused mass of all things in one chaos, bui mind supervening, én sabw, distinguished and divided them. Anaxagoras, it seems, ascribed the motive faculty to mind, which mind some subsequent philosophers have accurately discriminated from soul and life, ascribing to it the sole faculty of intellection.
321. But still God was supposed the first agent, the source and original of all things, which he produceth, not occasionally, or instrumentally but with actual and real efficacy. Thus, the trea. tise, De secretiore parte divinæ sapientiæ fecundum Ægyptios, in the tenth book, faith of God, that he is not only the first agent, but also that he it is who truly acts or creates, qui verè efficit. .
322. Varro, Tully, and St. Augustin understand the soul to be vis, the power, or force that acts, moves, enlivens. Now although, in our conception, vis, or spirit might be distinguished from mind, it would not thence follow, that it acts blindly or without mind, or that it is not closely connected with intellect. If Plutarch is to be trusted in his account of the opinions of philofophers, Thales held the mind of the world to be God : Democritus held the soul of the world to be an igniform deity (8): Pythagoras taught that God was the monad and the good, or s'a'yalòy: Socrates also and Placo pronounced him to be the to èv (b), the single, self originate one, essentially good. Each of which appellations and forms of speech directly tends to, and determines in mind, sis töv võiv aréude faith Plutarch. 323. Whence that author concludes, that in the sense
(8) 166, 168, 277. (b) 287.
mind as This notion w world, as I rendued with
of those philosophers God is a mind, xwesov údo not an abstract idea compounded of inconsistencies and prescinded from all real things, as some moderns understand abitraction ; but a really existing Spirit, distinct or separate from all sensible and corporeal beings. And although the Stoics are represented as holding a corporeal deity, or that che very system of the world is God, yet it is certain they did not, at bottom, diffent from the forementioned doctrine; inasmuch as they supposed the world to be an animal, (a) consisting of foul or mind as well as body..
324. This notion was derived from the Pythagoreans, who held the world, as Timæus Locrus teacheth, to be one perfect animal, endued with soul and reason : but then they believed it to have been generated : whereas the Stoics looked on the world as the supreme God, including therein mind or intellect. For the elementary fire, or, if one may so speak, the animal fpirit of the world, seemeth, according to them, to have been the vehicle of the soul (6), the vehicle of intellect or võs; fince they styled the Divinity wūe vospor (c), or intellectual fire.
325. The Egyptians, if we may credit the Hermaic writings, maintained God to be all things, not only actual but possible. He is styled by them, that which is made and that which is unmade. And therein it is said, shall I praise thee for those things chou hast made manifest, or for the things thou hast hidden ? therefore, in their fense, to manifest, was to create ; the things created having been before hidden in God.
326. Now whether the võis be abstracted from the sensible world, and considered by it felt, as diftinct from, and presiding over the created fyf(a) 276. 279. (6) 277. 284. (5) 272.
tem, or whether the whole universe, including' mind together with the mundane body, is conceived to be God (d), and the creatures to be partial manifestations of the divine essence, there is no atheism in either case, whatever misconceptions there may be; so long as mind or intellect is understood to preside over, govern, and conduct the whole frame of things. And this was the general prevailing opinion among the philosophers.
327. Nor if any one, with Aristotle in his Metaphysics, should deny that God knows any thing without himself; seeing that God comprehends all things, could this be justly pronounced an atheistical opinion. Nor even was the following notion of the same author to be accounted atheism, to wit, that there are some things beneath the know. ledge of God, as too mean, base, and vile; however wrong this notion may be, and unworthy of the divine perfection. .
328. Might we not conceive that God may be said to be all in divers senses ; as he is the cause and origine of all beings; as the vgs is the vogla, a doctrine both of Platonics and Peripatetics (e); as the võis is the place of all forms, and as it is the fame which comprehends and orders (f) and fuftains the whole mundane system. Aristole declares, that the divine force or influence permeates the intire universe (8) and that what the pilot is in a ship, the driver in a chariot, the præcentor in a choir, the law in a city, the general in an army, the same God is in the world. This he amply fecs forth in his book De mundo, a treatise which having been anciently ascribed to him, ought not to be set aside from the difference of style, which (aş Patricius rightly observes) being in a letter to
a king, might well be supposed to differ from the other dry and crabbed parts of his writings.
329. And although there are some expressions to be met with in the philosophers, even of the Platonic and Aristotelic sects, which speak of God as mixing with, or pervading all nature and all the elements ; yet this must be explained by force and not by extension, which was never attributed to the mind (b) either by Aristotle or Plato. This they always affirmed to be incorporeal: and, as Plotinus remarks, incorporeal things are distant each from other not by place, but (to use his expression) by alterity.
330. These disquisitions will probably seem dry and useless, to such readers as are accustomed to consider only sensible objects. The employment of the mind on things purely intellectual is to moft men irksome; whereas the sensitive powers, by constant ufe acquire strength. Hence, the objects of fenfe more forcibly affect us (k), and are too often counted the chief good. For thefe things men fight, cheat and fcramble. Therefore, in order to tame mankind and introduce a sense of virtue, the beft humane means is to exercise their understand. ing, to give them a glympse of another world, superior to the fensible, and while they take pains to cherish and maintain the animal life, to teach chem not to neglect the intellectual.
331. Prevailing studies are of no fmall consequence to a state, the religion, manners and civil government of a country ever taking some bias from it's philosophy, which affects not only the minds of its professors and students, but also the opinions of all the better fort and the practise of the whole people, remotely and consequentially, indeed, though not inconsiderably. Have not the (6) 290, 293, 297. 319. ' (t) 264, 294.
polemic and scholastic philosophy been observed to produce controversies in law and religion? And have not Fatalism and Sadducism gained ground, during the general passion for the corpuscularian and mechanical philofophy, which hath prevailed for about a century ? This indeed might usefully enough have employed some share of the leisure and curiosity of inquisitive perfons. But when it entered the seminaries of learning as a necessary accomplishment, and most important part of educa. tion, by engrossing men's thoughts, and fixing their minds so much on corporeal objects, and the laws of motion, it hath, however undefignedly, indirectly, and by accident, yet not a little indisposed them for spiritual, moral, and intellectual matters. Certainly had the philofophy of Socrates and Pythagoras prevailed in this age, among those who think themselves too wife to receive the dictates of the gospel, we should not have seen interest take so general and fast hold on the minds of men, nor public spirit reputed to be gervarav fungerar, a generous folly, among those who are reckoned to be the most knowing as well as the most getting part of mankind.
332. It might very well be thought serious trifling to tell my readers that the greatest men had ever aq high esteem for Plato; whose writings are the touchstone of a hafty and shallow mind; whose phiłorophy has been the admiration of ages; which supplied patriots, magiftrates, and lawgivers to the most fourishing states, as well as fathers to the church, and doctors to the schools. Albeit in these days, the depths of that old learning are rarely fathomed, and yet it were happy for these lands, if our young nobi licy and gentry instead of modern maxims would imbibe the notions of the great men of antiquity. Bu in these free thinking times many an empty head is
Itone ofan for Plato: the greater