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shook at Aristotle and Plato, as well as at the holy scriptures. And the writings of those celebrated ancients are by most men treated on a foot, with the dry and barbarous lucubrations of the schoolmen. It may be modestly presumed, there are not many among us, even of those who are called the better fort, who have more sense, virtue, and love of their country than Cicero, who in a letter to Atticus could not forbear exclaiming, O Socrates et Socratici viri! nunquam vobis gratiam referam. Would to God many of our countrymen had the same obligations to those Socratic writers. Certainly where the people are well educated, the art of piloting a state is best learned from the writings of Plato. But among bad men void of discipline and education, Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle themselves, were they living, could do but little good. Plato hath drawn a very humorous and instructive picture of such a state; which I shall not transcribe for certain reasons. But whoever has a mind, may fee it in page 78. of the second come of Aldus's edition of Plato's works.
333. PROCLUS, in the first book of his commentary on the theology of Plato observes that, as in the mysteries, chofe who are initiated, at first meet with manifold and multiform Gods, but being entered and thoroughly initiated they receive the divine illumination and participate the very deity ; in like manner, if the soul look abroad she beholds the shadows and images of things ; but returning into herself she unravels and beholds her own essence: At first the feemeth only to behold her felf: But having penetrated farther she discovers the mind. And again, still farther advancing into the innermost fanctuary of the soul the contemplates the Teño grévos. And this, he faich, is the molt excellent of all human acts, in the filence and repose of the faculties of the foul to tend upwards to the very divinity ; to approach and
be be closely joined with that which is ineffable and supe perior to all beings. When come so high as the first principle she ends her journey and rests. Such is the doctrine of Proclus.
334. But Socrates in the first Alcibiades teacheth on the other hand, that the contemplation of God is the proper means to know or understand our own soul. As the eye, faith he, looking stedfastly at the visive part or pupil of another eye beholds it's self, even so the soul beholds and understands her self, while she conteniplates the Deity which is wisdom and vertue or like thereunto. In the Phædon Socrates speaks of God as being regalov and to deor (a), the good and the decent : Plotinus represents God as order ; Ari. stotle as law.
335. It may seem perhaps to those, who have been taught to discourse about substratums, more reasonable and pious to attribute to the Deity a more substantial being, than the notional entities of wisdom, order, law, vertue, or goodness, which being only complex ideas, framed and put together by the understanding, are its own creatures, and have nothing substantial, real, or independent in them. But it mult be considered, that in the Platonic system, order, vertue, law, goodness, and wisdom are not creatures of the soul of man, but innate and originally existent therein, not as an accident in a substance, but as light to enlighten, and as a guide to govern. In Plato's style, the term idea doth not merely signify an inertinactive object of the understanding, but is used as synonymous with ásticv and ciexy, cause and principle. Acz cording to that philosopher, goodness, beauty, vertue and such like, are not figments of the mind, nor mere mixed modes, nor yet abstract ideas in the modern sense, but the most real beings, intellectual and unchangeable ; and therefore more real than the feeting transient objects of sense (b), which wanting .. (a) 260, 220. . .(6) 306.
continuinhing anfrom senlere till
Atability cannot be fubjects of science (c), much less of intellectual knowledge.
336. By Parmenides, Timæus, and Plato a distinction was made, as hath been observed already, between genitum and ens. The former fort is always generating or in fieri (e), but never exifts, because it never continues the same, being in a constant change, ever perishing and producing. By entia they understand things remote from sense, invisible and intellectual, which never changing are still the same, and may therefore be said truly to exist : óvoia, which is generally transated substance, but more properly effence, was not thought to belong to things sensible and corporeal, which have no stability ; but rather to intellectual ideas, cho' discerned with more difficulty, and making less impression on a mind stupified and immersed in animal life, than gross objects that continually beset and sollicit our senses.
337. The most refined huinane intellect exerted to its utmost reach can only seize some imperfect glympfes (f) of the divine ideas, abstracted from all things corporeal, sensible, and imaginable. Therefore Pythagoras and Plato treated them in a mysterious manner, concealing rather than exposing them to vulgar eyes; so far were they from thinking, that those abftract things, alcho' the most real, were the fittest to in Auence common minds, or become principles of knowledge, not to say duty and virtue, to the generality of mankind.
338. Aristotle and his followers have made a monstrous representation of the Platonic ideas ; and fome of Plato's own school have said very odd things concerning them. But if that philosopher himself was not read only, but studied also with care, and made his own interpreter, I believe the prejudice that now lies against him would soon wear off (8) or be even
6) 264, 266, 297. (e) 304, 306. (1 313, 330. (8) 309, 313,
converted into a high esteem for those exalted notions and fine hints, that sparkle and shine throughout his writings; which seem to contain not only the most valuable learning of Athens and Greece, but also a treasure of the most remote traditions and early science of the east.
339. In the Timæus of Plato mention is made of ancient persons, authors of traditions, and the offspring of the gods. It is very remarkable, that in the account of the creation contained in the same piece, it is said that God was pleased with his work, and that the night is placed before the day. The more we think, the more difficult shall we find it to conceive, how mere man, grown up in the vulgar habits of lite, and weighed down by sensuality, shoulder be able to arrive at science, without some trdijo,..) or teaching, which mighe either sow the feed is nie die ledge, or call forth and excite those latent i solims were originally fown in the soul.
340. Humane souls in this low situation, kan ing on mere animal life, bear the weight a. ' po through the dusk of a gross atmosphere, galioski from wrong judgments daily passed, false opinions daily learned, and early habits of an older dat: toan either judgment or opinion. Through such a medium the sharpeft eye cannot see clearly (k). And if by some extraordinary effort the mind should surmount this dusky region, and snatch a glympse of pure light, she is soon drawn backward and depressed by the heaviness of the animal nature, to which she is chained. And if again the chanceth, amidst the agitation of wild fancies and itrong affections, to spring upwards, a second relapse speedily succeeds into this region of darkness and dreams.
341. Nevertheless, as the mind gathers strength by repeated acts, we should not defpond, but conLinue to exert the prime and flower of our faculties, (h) 298, 301, 302. (k) 292, 293, 294. X2
still recovering, and reaching on, and struggling into the upper region, whereby our natural weakness and blindness may be in some degree remedied, and a taste attained of truth and intellectual life. Beside the constant prevailing opinion of the greatest men of antiquity, that there is both an universal spirit author of life and motion, and an universal mind enlightening and ordering all things, it was a received tener among them, that there is also to èv or tagov (a), which they looked on as the fons deitatis, the first hypostasis in the divinity.
342. The one or to ev, being immutable and indivisible, always the same and entire, was therefore thought to exist truly and originally, and other things only to far as they are one and the same, by participation of the tó &v. This gives unity, stability, reality to thing (b). Plato describes God, as Moses, from his being. ACcording to both, God is he who truly is, ó óttas wr. Change and division were esteemed defects or bad. Evil fcatters, divides, destroys : Good, on the contrary, produceth concord and union, assembles, combines, perfects, and preserves entire. The several beings which compose the universe are parts of the same system, they combine to carry on one end, and perfect one whole. And this aptness and concurrence thereunto furnishes the parcial particular idea of good in the distinct creatures. Hence it might have come to pass, that rayasov and có gv were regarded as one and the same,
343. Light and sight (faith Plato in the sixth book of his Republic) are not the sun ; even so truth and knowledge are not the good itself, alcho' they approach thereunto. And again, what the sun is in a visible place with respect to light and things seen, that fame is Tayabór or good in an intelligible place, with respect to understanding and things understood.
(6) 264, 306.