Page images
PDF
EPUB

271. Concerning absolute space, that phantome of the mechanic and geometrical philosophers (b), it may suffice to observe, that it is neither perceived by any sense, nor proved by any reason, and was accordingly treated by the greatest of the ancients as a thing merely visionary. From the notion of absolute space springs that of absolute motion *; and in thesi are ultimately founded the notions of external existence, independence, necessity, and fate. Which fate, the idol of many moderns, was by old philosophers differently understood, and in such a sense, as not to destroy the «v-rt|»Vioi> of God or man. Parmenides, who thought all things to be made by necessity or fate, understood justice and providence to be the fame with fate; which, how fixed- and cogent soever with respect to man, may yet be voluntary with respect to God. Empedocles declared fate to be a cause using principles and elements. Heraclirus taught that fate was the general reason that runs through the whole nature of the universe; which nature he supposed to be an æthereal body, the seed of the generation of all things. Plato held fate to be the eternal reason or law of nature. Chryfippus supposed that fate was a spiritual power which disposed the world in order; that it was the reason and law of those things which are administred by providence.

(i) 250.^

• Our judgment in these matters is not to be over-born by a presumed evidence of mathematical notions and reasonings, since it is plain, the mathematicians of this age embrace obscure notions, and uncertain opinions, and are puzzled about then, contradicting each other and disputing like other men: witness their doctrine of fluxions, about which, within these ten yean, I have seen published about twenty tracts and dissertations. whci authors being utterly at variance, and inconsistent with eacft other, inllruct by standers what to think of their pretensions to «vid«nce.

272. AU

272. All the foregoing notions of fate, as re* presented by Plutarch, do plainly shew 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 foul 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 faid, that sate 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 fame thing, and one no more intelligible than the other. Such is the mutual relation, connection, motion, and sympathy os the parts of this world, that they seem as it were animated and held together by one foul : and such is their harmony, order, and regular course, as Iheweth the foul 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 lise. This opinion was also so general and current among the Greeks, that Plutarch asserts all others held the world to be an animal, and governed by providence, except Leucippus, Democritus, and Epicurus. And although an animal, container 154. W «53, «72,

R 2 ing ing all bodies within it self, could not be touched or sensibly affected from withoutyet rt is plain they attributed to it an inward sense and feeling, as well as appetites and aversions; 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 chasm 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 persected by the participation of a higher. As air becomes igneous, so the purest fire becomes animal, and the animal foul becomes 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 lise of 'living things, the first principle and exemplar of all, from whence by different degrees are derived the inferior classes of lise; first the rational, then the sensitive, 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 somewhat sensitive, and lastly in mixt bodies, as metals and mineral, somewhat of vegetation: By which means the Whole 13 thought to be mo?e perfectly connected. Which

doctrine; doctrine implies that all the faculties, instincts, and motions of inserior 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 sentient 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. For 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 understanding, 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 lise insused throughout all things: the nvq vof^y, sruf Ti^»i)c«v, an intellectual and artificial fire an inward principle, animal spirit, or natural lise producing and forming withm as art doth without, regulating, moderating and reconciling the various motions, qualities and parts of this mundane system. By virtue of this lise 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. Ic 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 ju'ces from the earth, and the leaves and cortical vessels to separate and attract such particles of air, and elementary fire, as suit (heir respective natures.

278. Nature seems to be not otherwise distirt

ff; \(&, 168, 174* 175, tf(.

guished guished 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 lise of the world. Some Platonics indeed, regard lise 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 lise 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 life resulting from soul, as cogitation from intellect.

279. If nature be the lise of the world, animated by one foul, 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 fame end, the ultimate and supreme good of the whole, it should seem reasonable to fay, with Ocellus Lucanus the Pythagoræan, that as lise holds together the bodies of animals, the cause whereof is the soul; and as a city is held together by concord, the cause whereef js law; even so the work! is he ld together by harmony, the cause whereef is God. And in this fense, the world or universe may be considered either as one animal if) or one city.

280. Aristotle difapproves the opinion of those who hold a soul to be diffused throughout the world; and for this reason, because the elements are not alive. Tho5 perhaps it may not be easy to prove, that blood and animal spirit are more alive in man, tha.n water and fire in the world. Thatphi

\n «72.277

losophcr,

« EelmineJätka »