Page images
PDF
EPUB

272. All the foregoing notions of fate, as represented by Plutarch, plainly few that those antient philosophers did not mean by fate a blind, head-long, unintelligent principle, but an orderly settled course of things conducted by a wise and provident mind. And as for the Ægyptian doctrine, it is indeed asserted in the Pimander, that all things are produced by fate. But Jamblichus, who drew his notions from Ægypt, affirms, that the whole of things is not bound up in fate ; but that there is a principle of the soul higher than nature, whereby we may be raised to an union with the gods, and exempt ourselves from fate. And in the Asclepian dialogue it is exprefly said, that fate follows the decrees of God. And indeed, as all the motions in nature are evidently the product of reason (c), it should seem there is no room for necessity, in any other sense than that of a steddy regular course.

273. Blind fate and blind chance are at bottom , much the same thing, and one no more intelligible than the other. Such is the mutual relation, con, nection, motion, and sympathy of the parts of this world, that they seem as it were animated and held together by one soul : and such is their harmony, order, and regular course, as sheweth the soul to be governed and directed by a mind. It was an opinion of remote antiquity that the world was an animal (d). If we may trust the Hermaic writings, the Ægyptians thought all things did

partake of life. This opinion was also fo general and current among the Greeks, that Plutarch asserts all others held the world to be an animal, and govern ed by providence, except Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus. And although an animal, contain : (c) 154.

(d) 153, 172, R. 2

ing

ing all bodies within it felf, could not be touched or sensibly affected from without ; yet it is plain they attributed to it an inward sense and feeling, as well as appetites and averfions; and that from all the various tones, actions, and passions of the universe, they supposed one symphony, one animal act and life to result.

274. Jamblichus declares the world to be one animal, in which the parts however distant each from other, are nevertheless related and connected by one common nature. And he teacheth, what is also a received notion of the Pythagoreans and Platonics that there is no chası in nature, but a chain or scale of beings rising by gentle uninterrupted gradations from the lowest to the highest, each nature being informed and perfected by the participation of a higher. As air becomes igneous, so the purest fire becomes animal, and the animal fuul becomnes intellectual, which is to be understood not of the change of one nature into another, but of the connection of different natures, each lower nature being, according to those philosophers, as it were a receptable or subject for the next above it to reside and act in.

275. It is also the doctrine of Platonic philosophers, that intellect is the very life of living things, the first principle and exemplar of all, from whence by different degrees are derived the inferior classes of life; first the rational, then the fenfitive, after that the vegetal, but so as in the rational animal there is still somewhat intellectual, again in the sensitive there is somewhat rational, and in the vegetal fomewhat sensitive, and lastly in mixt bodies, as metals and mineral, fomewhat of vegetation : By which means the whole is thought to be more perfectly connected. Which

doctrine

doctrine implies that all the faculties, instincts, and motions of inferior beings, in their several respective subordinations, are derived from, and depend upon mind and intellect.

276. Both Stoics and Platonics held the world to be alive, though sometimes it be mentioned as a Yentient animal, sometimes as a plant or vegetable. But in this, notwithstanding what hath been surmised by some learned men, there seems to be no atheism. Für so long as the world is supposed to be quickened by elementary fire or spirit, which is it self animated by soul, and directed by underitanding, it follows that all parts thereof originally depend upon, and may be reduced unto, the fame indivisible stem or principle, to wit, a supreme mind; which is the concurrent doctrine of Pythagoræans, Platonics, and Stoics.

277. There is according to those philosophers a life infused throughout all things: the wūę voegov, TEXvencv, an intellectual and artificial fire (e), an inward principle, animal spirit, or natural life producing and forming within as art doth without, regulating, moderating and reconciling the various motions, qualities and parts of this mundane system. By virtue of this life the great masses are held together in their orderly courses, as well as the minutest particles governed in their natural motions, according to the several laws of attraction, gravity, electricity, magnetism, and the rest. It is this gives instincts, teaches the spider her web, and the bee her honey. This it is that directs the roots of plants to draw forth juices from the earth, and the leaves and cortical vessels to separate and attract fuch particles of air, and elementary fire, as suit their respective natures. 278. Nature seems to be not otherwise distin(e) 166, 168, 174, 175, &c.

guished

[ocr errors]

guilhed from the anima mundi, than as life is from foul, and, upon the principles of the oldest philosophers, may not improperly or incongruously be styled the life of the world. Some Platonics indeed, regard life as the act of nature, in like manner as intellection is of the mind or intellect. As the first intellect acts by understanding, so nature according to them acts or generates by living. But life is the act of the foul, and seems to be very nature it self, which is not the principle, but the result of another, and higher principle, being a lite resulting from foul, as cogitation from intellect.

279. If nature be the life of the world, animated by one soul, compacted into one frame, and directed or governed in all parts by one mind : This system cannot be accused of atheism; tho' perhaps it may of mistake or impropriety. And yet, as one presiding mind gives unity to the infinite aggregate of things, by a mutual communion of actions and passions, and an adjustment of parts, causing all to concur in one' view to one and the same end, the ultimate and supreme good of the whole, it should seem reasonable to say, with Ocellus Lucanus the Pythagorean, that as life holds together the bodies of animals, the cause whereof is the soul; and as a city is held together by concord, the cause whereof is law; even so the world is held together by harmony, the cause whereof is God. And in this sense, the world or universe may be considered cither as one animal (f) or one city.

280. Aristotle disapproves the opinion of those who hold á soul to be diffused throughout the world; and for this reason, because the elements are not alive. Tho' perhaps it may not be easy to prove, that blood and animal spirit are more alive in inan, than water and fire in the world. That phiV) 172, 277.

losopher,

losopher, in his books of the foul, remarks upon an opinion set forth in the Orphics, of the soul's entering from the universe into living creatures being born by winds, that this cannot be true of plants or of certain animals which do not breath. But air vessels are by later experiments allowed to be found in all plants and animals. And air may in some sort not improperly be said, to be the carrier or vehicle of the soul, inasmuch as it is the vehicle of fire, which is the spirit immediately moved and animated by the soul ig).

281. The living fire, the living omniform seminary of the world, and other expressions of the like nature occurring in the ancient and Platonic philosophy, how can they be understood exclusive of light or elemental fire, the particles of which are known to be heterogeneous, and, for ought we know, may some of them be organized, and, notwithstanding their wonderful minuteness, contain original seeds which, being formed and fown in a proper matrix, do gradually unfold and manifest themselves, still growing to a just proportion of the species.

282. May not this æthereal seminary, consistently with the notions of that philosophy, which ascribed much of generation to celestial influence, be supposed to impregnate plants and animals with the first principles, the stamina, or those animalcules which Piato, in his Timæus, faith are invisible for their smallness, but, being sown in a proper matrix, are therein gradually diftended and explicated by nourishment, and at length the animals brought forth to light. Which notion hath been revived and received of late years by many, who perhaps are not aware of it's antiquity, or that it was to be found in Plato. Timæus Locrensis in (8) 163, 171.

his

« EelmineJätka »