Page images
PDF
EPUB

tual Aux or succession, ever differing and various. No 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 .

348. Socrates, in the Theætetus of Plato, speaketh of two parties of philosophers, the peortes and oi 78 örou scriwton, the Rowing philosophers who held all things to be in a perpetual Aux, always generating and never existing; and those others who maintained the universe to be fixed and immoveable. The difference seems to have been this, that Heraclitus, Protagoras, Empedocles, and in general those of the former sect, considered things sensible and natural ; whereas Parmenides and his party confidered το παν, not as the sensible but as the intelligible world (e), abstracted from all sensible things.

349. In effect if we mean by things the sensible objects, these, it is evident, are always fowing ; 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 av to be greswis 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 subject varied by digressions, 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 at(d) 287, 288. (e) 293, 294, 295; (f) 298, 301.

tention

tention of the ableft men. Those great men, Pythagoras, 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 most acute at all abstracted and sublime speculations; the clearest light being ever neceffary to guide the most important actions. And whatever the world thinks, he who hath not much meditated upon God, the humane mind, and the Summum bonum, may possibly make a thriving earthworm, but will most indubitably make a forry patriot and a forry statesman.

351. According to the nice metaphysics of those ancient philosophers, so ły, being conGdered as what was first and simplest in the Deity, was prescinded even fromentity 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 exift; 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 self; therefore the conftantimmutable to v did not exist in time, and if not in time, then in none of the differences of time past, present, or to come ; therefore we cannot say that it was, is, or will be. But nevertheless it is admitted in the same Parmenides, that to võr 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 so v (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. wortli, shall we say that the first hypoftasis or person is dves and drogos, senseless and irrational, and allo. gether devoid of mind and understanding? or would

() 298, 301.

not

not this be to introduce a kind of mysterious atheism? To which it may be answered, that whoever acknow: ledseth the universe to be made and governed by an eternal mind, cannot be justly deemed an atheist (8.) And this was the tenet of those ancient philosophers In the Platonic doctrine, the generation of the vgs of aóyos was not contingent but necessary, not temporary but from everlasting. There never was a time fupposed wherein to èv fubfifted 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 diftin&tion of priority between tó y and vous doth not infer, that the one ever existed without the other. It follows, cherefore, that the father or od v may, in a certain sense, be said to be dvys without atheism, or without destroying the notion of a deity; any more than it would destroy the notion of a humane foul, 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 ev, or the first hypoftafis,contains all excellence and perfection, whereof it is the original fource, and is eminenter, as the schools speak, intellect and life, as well as goodness; while the second hypoftafis is essentially intellect, and by participation goodness and life ; and the third, life essentially, and by participation goodness and intellect.

353. Therefore, the whole being considered, it will not feem just, to fix the imputation of atheism upon those philosophers, who held the doctrine of nov; whether it be taken in an abstracted or collec. tive, 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 univerfal system of beings, as one, since the union, connexion, and order of it's mem(8). 154, 276, 279, 287. (6) 300.

bers,

[ocr errors]

bers, do manifestly infer a mind or intellect to be the cause thereof.

354. The one or to èv 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 other hand, consider THE ONE, to ev, 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 v 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 êv nad Täv, are justly to be accounted atheists. Therefore modern atheism, be iç 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 tenet 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 fame. 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 re. marked 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.

(b) 294, 295 Y

Soul,

[ocr errors]

Soul, faith it is the mind that maketh each thing to be one, το δε εν ποιϊν τύτο ονς έκαςον. How this 19 done, Themistius is more particular, observing, thật as being conferreth essence, the mind by virtue of her fimplicity 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 somewhat simple. This they derived from an act of the mind. And neither this simple indivisible unite, nor any fum of repeated unites, confequently no number, can be separated from the things themselves, and from the operation of the mind. Themiftius goeth so far as to affirm, that it cannot be separated from the words or signs ; and, as it cannot be uttered without them, so faith he, neither can it be conceived without them. Thus much upon the whole may be concluded, that, dif tinct from the mind and her operations, there is in created beings neither unite nor number.

358. Of inferior beings the human mind, felf, or person is the most simple and undivided essence (b). And the supreme father is the most perfect one. Therefore the fight of the mind towards God is called by the Platonics φυγή μόνο προς μόνον. The fupreme being, faith Plotinus, as he excludes all diverfity, is ever alike present. And we are then present to him, when, recollected and abstracted from the world and sensible objects, we are most free and disengaged (c) from all variety. He adds, that in the intuition of (a) 345, 346, 347

(c) 268.

the

7

(6) 347

« EelmineJätka »