Page images

Therefore the good or one is not the light that enlightens, but the source of that light. ..

344. Every moment produceth some change in the parts of this visible creation. Something is added or diminished, or altered in essence, quantity, quality, or habitude. Wherefore all generated beings were said by the ancients to be in a perpetual flux (c). And that which, on a confused and general view, seems one single constant being, shall upon a nearer inspection appear a continued series of different beings. But God remains for ever one and the same. Therefore God alone exists. This was the doctrine of Heraclicus, Plato, and other ancients.

345. It is the opinion of Plato and his followers, that in the soul of man, prior and superior to intellect, there is somewhat of an higher nature, by virtue of which we are one ; and that by means of our one or unit, we are most closely joined to the deity. And, as by our intellect we touch the divine intellect, even so by our tó ĝy or unit the very flower of our essence, as Proclus expresseth it, we touch the first one.

346. According to the Placonic philosophy, ens and unum are the same. And consequently our minds participate so far of existence as they do of unity. But it should seem that personality is the indivisible center of the soul or mind, which is a monad so far forth as The is a person. Therefore person is really that which exists, inasmuch as it participates of the divine unity. In man the monad or indivisible is the autó Tó ávto the self same self or very felf, a thing, in the opinion of Socrates, much and narrowly to be inquired into'and discussed, to the end that, knowing ourlelves, we may know what belongs to us and our happiness.

347. Upon mature reflexion the mind of all created beings seemech alone indivisible, and to partake most of unity. But sensible things are rather considered as one than truly so, they being in a perpe.

(6) 304, 336.

tual tention

tual flux or succession, ever differing and various. Ne. vertheless, all things together may be considered as one universe (d), one by the connection, relation and order of it's parts, which is the work of mind whose unit is by Platonic, supposed a participation of the first to br.

348. Socrates, in the Theatetus of Plato, speaketh of two parties of philosophers, the peoutes and ci rõ έλου γασιώται, the Howing philofophers who held all things to be in a perpetual fux, always generating and never existing, and those others who maintained the universe to be fixed and immoveable. The diffe. rence seems to have been this, that Heraclitus, Protagoras, Empedocles, and in general those of the former fect, considered things sensible and natural; whereas Parmenides and his party confidered το παν, not as the sensible but as the intelligible world (e), abftracted from all sensible things. .

349. In effect if we mean by things the sensible ob jects, these, it is evident, are always flowing ; but if we mean things purely intelligible, then we may fay on the other hand, with equal truth, that they are immoveable and unchangeable. So that those, who thought the whole or to trav to be preswis a fixed or permanent one, seem to have understood the whole of real beings, which, in their sense, was only the intellectual world, not allowing reality of being to things not permanent,

350. The displeasure of some readers may perhaps be incurred, by surprising them into certain reflexions and inquiries for which they have no curiosity. But perhaps some others may be pleased, to find a dry fubject varied by digresions, traced through remote inferences, and carried intoancient times, whose hoary maxims (f) scattered in this essay are not proposed as principles, but barely as hints to awaken and exercise the inquisitive reader, on points not beneath the ato (d287, 288. (c) 293, 294, 295. () 298, 301.

tention of the ablest men. Those great men, Pytha. goras, Plato, and Aristotle, the most consummate in politics, who founded states, or instructed princes, or wrote most accurately on publick government, were at the same time mort acute at all abstracted and sublime speculations; the clearest light being ever necessary to guide the most important actions. And whatever the world thinks, he who hath not much nieditated upon God, the humane mind, and the Summum bonum, may possibly make a thriving earthworm, but will most indubitably make a sorry patriot and a sorry statesman.

351. According to the nice metaphysics of those ancient philosophers, só èv, being considered as whac was first and simpleft in the Deity, was prescinded even from entity to which it was thought prior and superior; and is therefore by the Platonics styled super-effential. And in the Parmenides it is said, to v doth not exist; which might seem to imply a negation of the divine being. The truth is, Zeno and Parmenides argued, that a thing existing in time was older and younger than it felf; therefore the constantimmutable to ou did not exist in time; and if not in time, then in none of the differences of cime past, present, or to come; therefore we cannot say that it was, is, or will be. But nevertheless it is admitted in the fame Parmenides, chat ro rūv is every where present to só év: that is, instead of a temporary succession of moments, there is one eternal now, or, punctum ftans, as it is termed by the schoolmen.

352. The simplicity of a giv (the father in the Pythagoric and Platonic trinity) is conceived such as to exclude intellect or mind, to which it is supposed prior. And that hath created a suspicion of atheism in this opinion. For, faith the learned doctor Cud. worth, thall we say that the first hypostasis or person is drys and úrogos, senseless and irrational, and alto. gether devoid of mind and understanding? or would (8) 298, 301.


not this be to introduce a kind of mysterious atheism? To which it may be answered, that whoever acknowledgeth the universe to be made and governed by an eternal mind, cannot be justly deemed an atheilt (8). And this was the tenet of those ancient philosophers. In the Platonic doctrine, the generation of the vgs or aózos was not contingent but necessary, not temporary but from everlasting. There never was a time supposed wherein vo èv sublisted without intellect, the priority having been understood only as a priority of order or conception, but not a priority of age. Therefore, the maintaining a distinction of priority between to èv and voūs doth not infer, that the one ever existed without the other. It follows, therefore, that the father or to v may, in a certain sense, be said to be åres without atheism, or without destroying the notion of a deity; any more chan it would destroy the notion of a humane soul, if we should conceive a diftinction between self and intellect, or intellect and life. To which we may farther add, that it is a doctrine of Platonics, and agrees with their master's tenets, to say that to gv, or the first hypostasis,contains all excellence and perfection, whereof it is the original source, and is eminenter, as the schools speak, intellect and life, as well as goodness; while the second hypoftasis is essentially intellect, and by participation goodness and life; and the third, life effentially, and by participation goodness and intellect.

353. “Therefore, the whole being considered, it will not seem just, to fix the imputation of atheism upon those philosophers, who held the doctrine of Jó év; whether it be taken in an abstracted or collective, a metaphysical or merely vulgar meaning (b); that is, whether we prescind unity from essence and intellect, since metaphysical distinctions of the divine attributes do not in reality divide them: or whether we consider the universal system of beings, as one, fince the union, connexion, and order of it's mem-:

(8) 154, 276, 279, 287. (5) 300.


bers, do manifestly infer a mind or intellect to be the cause thereof. · 354. To ty may be conceived either by composition or division. For as, on the one hand, we may lay the world or universe is one whole or one animal ; so we may, on the ocher hand, consider THE ONE, To my, by division or abstraction, as somewhat in the order of things prior to mind. In either sense there is no atheism, so long as mind is admitted to preside and direct the animal, and so long as the unum or to èv is supposed not to exist without mind (a). So that neither Heraclitus nor Parmenides, nor Pythagoras, nor Plato, neither the Ægyptians nor Stoics, with their doctrine of a divine whole or animal, nor Xenophanes with his gv xa mãv, are justly to be accounted atheists. Therefore modern atheism, be it of Hobbes, Spinosa, Collins, or whom you will, is not to be countenanced by the learning and great names of antiquity.

355. Plato teacheth, that the doctrine concerning the one or unite is a means to lead and raise the mind (b) to the knowledge of him who truly is. And it is a tener both of Aristotle and Plato, that identity is a certain unity. The Pythageorans also, as well as the Platonic philosophers, held unum and ens to be the same. Consistently with which that only can be said to exist, which is one and the same. In things sensible and imaginable, as such, there seems to be no unity, nothing that can be called one prior to all act of the mind; since they being in themselves aggregates, consisting of parts or compounded of elements, are in effect many. Accordingly it is remarked by Themiftius, the learned interpreter of Aristotle, that to collect many notions into one, and to consider them as one, is the work of intellect, and not of sense or fancy. 356. Aristotle himself, in his third book of the (a) 287, 288. (6) 294, 295.


« EelmineJätka »