Page images
PDF
EPUB

Soul, faich it is the mind that maketh each thing to be one, to dè Èr Torgv T850 óvos šxasov. How this is done, Themiftius is more particular, observing, that as being conferreth essence, the mind by virtue of her simplicity conferreth simplicity upon compounded beings. And, indeed, it seemeth that the mind, so far forth as person, is individual(a) therein resembling the divine one by participation, and imparting to other things what itself participates from above, This is agreeable to the doctine of the ancients, however the contrary opinion of supposing number to be an original primary quality in things, independent of the mind, may obtain among the moderns,

357. The Peripatetics taught, that in all divisible things there was somewhat indivisible, and in all compounded things fomewhat simple. This they derived from an act of the mind. And neither this simple indivisible unite, nor any sum of repeated unites, consequently no number, can be separated from the things themselves, and from the operation of the mind. Themiftius goeth fo far as to affirm, that it cannot be separated from the words or signs; and, as it cannot be uttered without then, so faith he, neither can it be conceived without them. Thus much upon the whole may be concluded, that, dittinct from the mind and her operations, there is in created beings neither unite nor number.

358. Of inferior beings the human mind, self, or person is the most simple and undivided essence (1). And the supreme father is the most perfect one. Therefore the fight of the mind towards God is called by the Platonics CuginMÓVe Ted's uóvor. The supreme being, faith Plotinus, as he excludes all diversity, is ever alike present. And we are then present to him, when, recollected and abstracted from the world and fensible objects, we are most free and disengaged from all variety. He adds, that in the intuition of (a) 345, 316, 34;: (1) 347. ( 268.

the

the supreme deity the soul finds her wished for end and repose ; which thac philosopher calls awaking out of his body into himself.

359. In the tenth book of the arcane, or divine wildom of the Ægyptians, we are taught that the supreme being is not the cause of any created thing; but that he produced or made the word; and that all created beings were made by the word, which is accordingly styled the cause of all causes : and that this was also the doctrine of the Chaldæans. Plato, lik-wise, in his letter to Hermias, Erastus, and Coriscus, speaks of God the ruler and cause of all things, as having a father: And in his Epinomis, he expresy teachech that the word or nóyos made the world. Accordingly faint Augustine in his commentary on the beginning of saint John's Gospel, having declared that Chrift is the wisdom of God by which all things were made, observes that this docuine was also found in the writings of philofophers, who taught that God had an only begotten Son by whom are all things.

360. Now, though Placo had joined with an imagination the most [piendid and magnificent, an intellect not less deep and clear; yet it is not to be suppored, that either he or any other philosophers of Grecce or the east, had by the light of nature attained an adequate notion of the Holy Trinity, nor even that their imperfect notion, 1o far as it went, was exactly just ; nor perhaps that those sublime hints, which dart forth like fathes of light in the midst of a profound darkness, were originally struck from the hard rock of human reason ; but rather derived, at deait in part, by a divine tradition (a) from the author of all things. It feems a remarkable confirmation of this, what Plotinus observes in his fifth Ennead, that this doctrine of a Trinity, father, mind, and soul, was no lace invention, but an ancient tenet,

(a) 298, 301.

Y 2

361.

361. Certain it is, that the notion of a Trinity is to be found in the writings of many old heathen philosophers, that is to say, a notion of three divine hypostases. Authority, light, and life did, to the eye of reason, plainly appear to support, pervade, and animate the mundane fyftem or macrocosm. The same appeared in the microcosm, preserving foul and body, enlightening the mind, and moving the affections, And these were conceived to be necessary, universal principles, co existing and co-operating in such sort, as never to exist asunder, but on the contrary to constitute one Sovereign of all things. And, indeed, how could power or authority avail or sublift without knowledge? or either without life and action?

362. In the administration of all things there is authority to establish, law to direct, and justice to execute. There is first the source of all perfection, or fons deitatis, secondly the supreme Reason, order, or rágo, and lastly the Spirit which quickens and inspires. We are sprung from the father, irradiated or enlightened by the son, and moved by the spirit, Certainly, that there is father, son, and spirit; that these bear analogy to the sun, light, and heat; and are otherwise expressed by the terms, principle, mind, and soul; by one or fv, intellect, and life ; by good, word, and love, and that generation was not attributed to the second hypostasis, the vis or hero, in respect of time, (8), but only in respect of origine and order, as an eternal necessary emanation ; these are the express tenets of Platonists, Pythagoreans, Ægyptians, and Chaldæans.

263. Though it may be well presumed there is - nothing to be found on that sublime subject in human writings, which doth not bear the sure signatures of humanity ; yet it cannot be denied, that several fathers of the church have thought fit to illustrate the christian doctrine of the holy Trinity, by fimi

litudes (3) 352.

litudes and expressions borrowed from the most emi. nent heathens, whom they conceived to have been no ftrangers to that mystery; as hath been plainly proved by Beffarion, Eugubinus, and Doctor Cudworth.

364. Therefore, how unphilosophical soever that doctrine may seem to many of the present age, yet it is certain, the men of greatelt fame and learning among the ancient philosophers held a Trinity in the Godhead. It must be owned, that upon this point some later Platonists of the Gentile world seem to have bewilder'd themselves, (as many Christians have also done ) while they pursued the hints derived from their predecessors, with coo much curiosity.

365. But Placo himself consider'd that doctrine as a venerable mystery, not to be lightly treated of or rashly divulged. Wherefore in a letter to Dionysius he writes (as he himself professeth) ænigmatically and briefly in the following ternis, which he giveth for a summary of his notion concerning the supreme being, and which being capable of divers senses, I leave to be decyphered by the learned reader. περί των πάντων βασιλέα σάντ' έξι, και εκέινς ένεκα πανια, και εκείνο αιτιον απάνTwv TWv xan@v, déut egon de regd to déu?ego, by Tpítov Tepl opita. Plato enjoins Dionysius over and over, with great earnestness not to suffer, what he communicates concerning the mystery of the divine nature, to fall into illiterate or vulgar hands, giving it withal as a reason for this caution, that nothing would seem more ridiculous or absurd to the common run of mankind. He adds, that in regard writings might miscarry, the prudent way was to write nothing at all on those matters, but to teach and learn them by word of mouth: for which reason, faith he, I have never wrote any thing thereon; nor is there, nor shall chere ever be any thing of Plato's extant on that subject. He farther adds, as for what hath been now said, it belongs all to Socrates,

366. And, indeed, what this philosopher in his Phædrus fpeaketh of the super-celestial region, and the divinity resident therein, is of a strain not to be relished or comprehended by vulgar minds; to wit, essence realy existent, object of intellect alone, without colour, without figure, without any tangible quality. He might very juftly conceive that such a de: scription must seem ridiculous co sensual men.

367. As for the perfect intuition of divine things, that he supposeth to be the lot of pure fouls, behold. ing by a pure light, initiated, happy, free and unstained from those bodies, wherein we are now imprisoned like oysters. But in this mortal state, we must be satisfy'd to make the best of those glympses (b) within our reach. It is Plato's remark in his Theætetus, that while we fit ftill we are never the wiser, but going into the river and moving up and down, is the way to discover its depths and shallows. If we exercise and beftir ourselves, we may even here discover something.

368. The eye by long use comes to see even in the darkest cavern: and there is no subject so obscure, but we may discern some glympse of truth by long poring on it. Truch is the cry of all, but the game of a few. Certainly where it is the chief passion, it doth not give way to vulgar cares and views; nor is it concented with a little ardour in the early time of life, active perhaps to pursue, but not fo fit to weigh and revise. He that would make a real progress in knowjedge, must dedicate his age as well as vouch, the later growth as well as farft fruits, at the altar of truth.

If Wover

the eye and to

Cujusvis est errare, nullius nisi infipientis in errore perseverare,

Cic. (4) 335, 337.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« EelmineJätka »