« EelmineJätka »
whole mass, and all the members of this visible world. Nor is this doctrine less philosophical than pious. We see all nature alive or in motion. We fee water turned into air, and air rarified and made elastic (e) by the attraction of another medium, more pure indeed, more subtil, and more volatile than air. But still, as this is a moveable extended, and, consequently, a corporeal being (f), it cannot be itself the principle of motion, but leads us naturally and necessarily to an incorporeal spirit or agent. We are conscious that a spirit can begin, alter, or determine motion, but nothing of this appears in body. Nay the contrary is evident, both to experiment and reflection.
292. Natural phænomena are only natural appearances. They are, therefore, such as we see and perceive them. Their real and objective natures are, therefore, the fame; passive without any thing active, fluent and changing without any thing permanent in ijhem. However, as these make the first impressions, and the mind takes her first flight and spring, as it were, by resting her foot on these objects, they are not only first considered by all men, but most considered by most men. They and the phantomes that result from those appearances, the children of imagination grafted upon sense, such for example as pure space (I) are thought by many the very first in existence and stability, and to embrace and comprehend all other beings.
293. Now although such phantomes as corporeal forces, absolute motions, and real spaces, do pass in physics for causes and principles (g), yet are they in truth but hypotheses, nor can they be the objects of real science. They pass nevertheless in physics converfant about things of sense, and cons') «49' «5?,ao0. s/J 20;. (1) 370. (f) 220, fined to experiments and mechanics. But when we enter the province of the philosophia prima, we discover another order of beings, mind and it's acts, permanent being, not dependent on corporeal things, nor resulting, nor connected, nor contained; but containing, connnecting, enlivening the whole frame; and imparting those motions, forms, qualites, and that order and symmetry to all those transient phænomena, which we term the course of nature.
294. It is with our faculties as with our affections: what first seises, holds fast (a). It is a vulgar theme, that man is a compound of contrarieties, which breed a restless struggle in his nature, between flesh and spirit, the beast and the angel, earth and heaven, ever weighed down and ever bearing up. During which conflict the character fluctuates: when either side prevails, it is then fixed for vice or virtue. And lise from different principles takes a disserent issue. It is the fame in regard to our faculties. Sense at first besets and overbears the mind. The sensible appearances are all in all, our reasonings are employed about them; our defires terminate in them: we look no farther for realities or causes; till intellect begins to dawn, and cast a ray on this shadowy scene. We then perceive the true principle of unity, identity, and existence. Those things that before seemed to constitute the whole of being, upon taking an intellectual view of things, prove to be but fleeting phantomes.
295. From the outward form of gross masses which occupy the vulgar, a curious inquirer proceeds to examine the inward structure and minute parts, and from observing the motions in nature, to discover the laws of those motions. By the way he frames his hypothesis and suits his language to
this this natural philosophy. And these sit the occasion and answer the end of a maker of experiments or mechanic, who means only to apply the powers of nature, and reduce the phænomena to rules. But, if proceeding still in his analysis and inquiry, he . ascends from the sensible into the intellectual Wotm, and beholds things in a new light and a new order, he will then change his system and perceive, that what he took for substances and causes are but fleeting shadows; that the mind contains all, and acts ah, and is to all created beings the source of unity and identity, harmony and order, existence and stability.
296. It is neither acid, nor falt, nor sulphur, nor air, nor æther, nor visible corporeal fire much less the phantome fate, or necessity, that is the real agent, but by a certain analy sis, a regular connection and climax, we ascend through all those mediums to a glympsc of the first mover, invisible, incorporeal, intellectual source of lise and being. There is, it must be owned, a mixture of obscurity and prejudice in human speech and reasonings. This is unavoidable, since the veils of prejudice and error are slowly and singly taken off one by one. But if there are many links in the chain which connects the two extremes of what is grofly sensible and purely intelligible, and it seem a tedious work, by the flow helps of memory, imagination, and reason, oppressed and overwhelmed, as we are, by the senses, through erroneous principles and long ambages of words and notions, to struggle upwards into the Jight of truth, yet as this gradually dawns, surther discoveries still correct the style, and clear up the notions.
297- The mind, her acts and faculties, furnish a new and distinct class of objects (c) from the
(*) '55- . (/) «63i '266.
contemplacontemplation whereof arise certain other notions, principles, and verities, so remote from, and even so repugnant to, the first prejudices which surprize the sense of mankind, that they may well be excluded from vulgar speech and books, as abstract from sensible matters, and more fit for the speculation of Truth, the labour and aim of a sew, than for the practice of the world, or the subjects of experimental or mechanical inquiry. Nevertheless, though, perhaps, it may not be relished by some modern readers, yet the treating in physical books concerning metaphysical and divine matters can be justified by great authorities among the ancients; not to mention, that he, who prosessedly delivers the elements of a science, is more obliged to method and system, and tied down to more rigorous laws, than a mere essay writer. It may, therefore, be pardoned if this rude eflay doth, by insensible transitions, draw the reader into remote inquiries and speculations, that were not thought of, either by him or by the author, at first setting out.
298. There are traces of profound thought as well as primæval tradition in the Platonic, Pythagoræan, Ægyptian, and Chaldaic philosophy (p). Men in those early days were not overlaid with lan* guages and literature. Their minds seem to have been more exercised, and less burthened, than in later ages; and, as so much nearer the beginning of the world, to have had the advantage of pa*triarchal lights handed down through a sew hands. It cannot be affirmed indeed (how probable soever it may seem) that Moses was that some Mochus, with whose successors, priests and prophets, Pythagoras is faid to have conversed at Sidon. Yet the study of philosophy appears to be of very great antiquity and remote original ; inasmuch as Timæus (j>] 179, 266.
Locrcnfis, that ancient Pythagoræan, author of the . book concerning the foul of the world, speaks of a most ancient philosophy, even in his time, ci vftc 6uV« £piAo(T6(p,«, stirring up and recovering the foul from a state of ignorance to the contemplation of divine things. And though the books attributed to Mcrcurius Trismegistus were none of them wrote by him, and are allowed to contain some manisest forgeries; yet it is also allowed, that they contain tenets of the antient Ægyptian philosophy, though dressed perhaps in a more modern garb. To account for which, Jamblichus observes, that the books under his name contain indeed mercurial opinions* though often expresled in the style of the Greek phiJosophers; as having been translated from the Ægyptian tongue into Greek.
299. The difference of Isis from Ofiris (J) resembles that of the moon from the sun, of the semale from the male, of natura naturata Cas the schoolmen speak) from natura naturans. But Isis, though mostly taken for nature, yet (as the Pagan divinities were very fluctuating things) it sometimes signified ti ar«v. And we find in Mountfaucon an Isis of the ordinary form with this inscription 9*i want. And in the menfa Isiaca, which seems to exhibit a general system of the religion and superstition of the Ægyptians, Isis on her throne possesseth the center of the table. Which may seem to signify, that the universe or Ib wa* was the center of the ancient secret religion of the Ægyptians; their Isis or To ar«v comprehending both Ofiris the author of nature and his work.
300. Plato and Aristotle considered God as abstracted or distinct from the natural world. But the Ægyptians considered God and nature as mi