Page images

losopher, in his books of the soul, reniarks 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 car.' rier or vehicle of the soul, inasmuch as it is the vehicle of fire, which is the spirit immediately moved and animated by the soul is).

281. The living fire, the living omniform seminary of the world, and other expressions of the like nature occuring 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 feminary, 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 thofe animalcules which Piato, in his Timæus, faith are invisible for their smallmess, but, being fown in a proper matrix, are therein gradually distended 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 Locrenfis in (8) 163, 171.

his book of the foul of the world, suppofeth eveti souls to be derived from the celestial luminaries, excepcing only the rational or intellectual part: But what influence or influx is there from the celestial bodies, which hath not light for it's vehicle (a)?.

283. What other nature there should be intera mediate between the soul of the world (b) and this gross corporeal system, which might be the vehicle of life, or, to use the language of philofophers, might receive or be impressed with the forms of things, is difficult to comprehend. It is a vulgar remark, that the works of art do not bear a nice microscopical inspection, but the more helps are used, and the more nicely you pry into natural productions, the more do you discover of the fine mechanisın of nature, which is endless or inexhaustible ; new and other parts, more subtile and delicate than the precedent, still continu. ing to offer themselves to view. And these microscopial observations have confirmed the ancient theory concerning generation, delivered in the Timæus of Plato. But that theory or hypothesis, how agreeable foever to modern discoveries, is not alone fufficient to explain the phænomena, without the immediate action of a mind. And Ficinus, notwithstanding what himself and other Placonics say of a plastic nature, is obliged to own, that with the mundane force or soul it is to be under, ftood, there is joined an intelligence, upon which the seminal' nature constantly depends, and by which it is governed.

284. Alcinous, in his tract of the doctrine of Placo, faith that God hath given the world both · mind and soul : others include both in the word foul, and suppose the soul of the world to be God.

(a) 43. (6) 121

Philo appears to be of this opinion in several parts of his writings. And Virgil, who was no stranger to the Pythagoræan and Platonic tenets writes to the same burpose.

Deum namque ire per omnes : Terrasque tractusque maris cælumque profun

duin. Hinc pecudes armenta, viros, genus omne fe

rarum, Quemque fibi tenues nascentem arcessere vitas, Thus much the schools of Plato and Pythagoras seem agreed in, to wit, that the soul of the world (6) whether having a distinct mind of its own, or directed by a superior mind (c) doth embrace all it's parts, connect them by an invisible and indissoluble chain, and preserve them ever well adjusted, and in good order.

285. Naturalists, whose proper province it is to consider phænomena, experiments, mechanical organs and motions, principally regard the vi. sible frame of things or corporeal world, supposing foul to be contained in body. And this hypothesis may be tolerated in physics, as it is not necessary in the arts of dyalling or navigation to men. tion the true system or earth's motion. But those who, not content with sensible appearances, would penetrate into the real and true causes (the object of theology, metaphysics, or the philosophia prima) will rectify this error, and speak of the world as contained by the soul, and not the soul by the world.

286. Aristotle hath observed there were indeed some who thought so groly, as to suppose the universe to be one only corporeal and extended nature : but in the first book of his Metaphy

[blocks in formation]

fics he justly remarks they were guilty of a great mistake ; forasinuch as they took into their account the elements of corporeal beings alone ; whereas there are incorporeal beings also in the universe; and while they attempted to assign the causes of generation and corruption, and account for the native of all things, they did at the same time destroy the very cause of motion.

287. It is a doctrine among other speculacions contained in the Hermaic writings, that all things are one. And it is not improbable that Orpheus, Parmenides, and others among the Greeks, might have derived their notion of so gv, THE ONE, from Ægypt. Tho' that fubcil metaphysician Parmenides, in his doctrine of tv esos, feems to have added something of his own. If we suppose, that one and the fame mind is, the, universal principle of order and harmony throughout the world, containing and connecting all it's parts, and giving unity to the fyftem, there seems to be nothing atheistical or impious in this supposition. '

288. Number is no object of senfe: it is an act of the mind. The same thing in a different conception is one or many. Comprehending God and the creatures in one general notion, we may say that all things together make one universe, or ta' Wmv. But if we should say, that all things make one God; this would, indeed, be an erroneous DCtion of God, but would not amount to atheism, so long as mind or intellect was admitted to be the

xiyepousson, the governing part. It is nevertheJess more respectful, and consequently the truer notion of God, to suppose him neither made up of parts, nor to be himself a part of any whole whatfoever.

289. All those, who conceived the universe to be an animal, must in confequence of that notion,


luppose all things to be one. But to conceive God to be the sentient soul of an animal, is altogether unworthy and absurd. There is no sense, nor lensory, nor any thing like a sense or sensory in God. Sense implies an impression from some other being, and denotes a dependence in the soul which hach it. Sense is a passion; and passions imply imperfection. God knoweth all things, as pure mind or intellect, but nothing by sense, nor in nor through a sensory. Therefore to suppose a fenfory of any kind, whether space or any other, in God would be very wrong, and lead us into false conceptions of his nature. The presuming there was such a thing as real absolute uncreated space, seems to have occasioned that modern mistake. But this presumption was without grounds. .

290. Body is opposite to fpirit or mind. We have a notion of spirit from thought and action. We have a notion of body from resistance. So far forth as there is real power, there is spirit. So far forth as there is resistance, there is inability or want of power. That is, there is a negation of fpirit. We are enibodied, that is, we are clogged by weight, and hindered by resistance. But in respect of a perfect spirit, there is nothing hard or impenetrable: there is no resistance to the deity : Nor hath he any body: nor is the supreme being united to the world, as the foul of an animal is to it's body, which necessarily implieth defect, both as an instrument, and as a constant weight and impediment.

291. Thus much is consists with piety to say, that a divine agent doth by his virtue permeate and govern the elementary fire or light (d), which ferves as an animal spirit to enliven and actuate the

(od 157, 172.."

.. whole

« EelmineJätka »