Page images
[ocr errors]

king one whole, or all things together as making one universe. In doing which they did not exclude the intelligent mind, but confidered it as contain ing all things. Therefore, whatever was wrong in their way of thinking, it doch not, nevertheless, imply or lead to Atheism.

301. The humane mind is so much clogged, and born downward, by the strong and early impreffions of sense (a), that it is wonderful, how the ancients should have made even such a progress, and feen so far into intellectual matters, without some glimmering of a divine tradition. Whoever confiders a parcel of rude favages left to themselves, how they are sunk and fwallowed up in sense and prejudice, and how unqualified by their natural force to emerge from this state, will be app to think that the first spark of philofophy was derived from heaven ; and that it was (as a Heathen writer expreffeth it) θεοπαράδολ.G- φιλοσοφία,

302. The lapsed state of human kind is a thing to which the ancient philosophers were not strangers. The λύσις, the φυγή, the σαλιγμεσία fhew that the Egyptians and Pythagoreans, the Platonists and Stoics, had all fome notion of this. doctrine, the outlines of which seem to have been sketched out in those tenets. Theology and philosophy gently unbind the ligaments, that chain the soul down to the earth, and affitt her flight towards the sovereign Good. There is an instinct or tenden-cy of the mind upwards, which sheweth a natural endeavour to recover and raise ourselves, from our present fensual and low condition, into a state of light, order, and purity.

303. The perceptions of sense are grofs : but even in the senses there is a difference. Though harmony and proportion are not objects of senie,

(a) 264.


yet the eye and the ear are organs, which offer to the mind such materials, by means whereof the may apprehend both the one and the other. By experiments of sense we become acquainted with the lower faculties of the soul, and from them, whether by a gradual (a) evolution or ascent, we arrive at the highest. Sense supplies images to memory. These become subjects for fancy to work apon. Reafon confiders and judges of the imaginations. And thefe acts of reason become new objects to the understanding. In this scale, each lower faculty is a step that leads to one above it. And the uppermoft naturally leads to the Deity, which is rather the object of intellectual knowledge than even of the discursive faculty, not to mention the fenfitive. There runs a chain throughout the whole system of beings. In this chain one link drags another. The meanest things are connected with the highest. The calamity therefore is neither ftrange nor much to be complained of, if a low fenfual reader shall, from mere love of the animal life, find himfelf drawn on, surprised, and betray'd into some curiosity concerning the intellectual.

304. There is according to Plato properly no knowledge, but only opinion concerning things fensible and perifhing (b), not because they are naturally abstruse and involved in darkness, but because their nature and existence is uncertain, ever Beeting and changing ; or rather, because they do not in ftrict truth exist at all, being always generating or in fieri, that is, in a perpetual Aux, with out any thing stable or permanent in them to constitute an object of real science. The Pythagoreans and Platonics distinguish between so gleózef co and to ởv, that which is ever generated and that which exists. Sensible things and corporeal forms

(6) 263, 264.


(a) 275..

pre perpetually producing and perishing, appearing and disappearing, never resting in one ftate, but always in motion and change; and therefore in effect, not one being but a succession of beings : while to my is understood to be somewhat of an abstract or spiritual nature, and the proper obje& of intellectual knowledge. Therefore as there can be no knowledge of things fowing and instable, the opinion of Protagoras and Theæterus, that sense was science, is absurd. And indeed nothing is more evident, than that the apparent sizes and shapes, for instance, of things are in a constant flux, ever differing as they are view'd at different distances, or with glasses more or less accurate. As for those absolute magnitudes and figures, which certain Cartesians and other moderns suppose to be in things, that must seem a vain supposition, to whoever considers, it is supported by no argument of reason, and no experiment of sense.

305. As understanding perceiveth not, that is, doth noc hear or see or feel, so sense knoweth not : And although the mind may use both sense and phancy, as means whereby to arrive at knowledge yet sense or soul, so far forth as sensitive, knoweth nothing. For, as it is rightly observed in the Theatetus of Plato, science consists not in the passive preceptions, but in the reasoning upon them, το σέλ εκείνων συλλογισμώ.

306. In the ancient philosophy of Plato and Pythagoras, we find distinguished three forts of objects : In the first place a form or species that is neither generated nor destroyed, unchangeable, invisible, and altogether imperceptible to sense, being only understood by the intellect. A second fort there is ever Auent and changing (8), generating and perishing, appearing and vanishing. This

263, 264. (g) 292, 293

is comprehended by sense and opinion. The third kind is matter which, as Plato teacheth, being neither an object of understanding nor of sente, is hardly to be made out by a certain spurious way of reafoning λογισμώ τινι νόθω μόγις πισόν. See his Timæus. The same doctrine is contained in the Pythagoric treatise De anima mundi, which diftinguishing ideas, sensible things, and matter, ma. keth the first to be apprehended by intellect, the second by sense, and the last, to wit, matter, noglouý vólw' whereof Themiftius the Perripatetic assigns the reason. For, saith he, that act is to be esteemed fpurious, whose object hath nothing positive, being only a mere privation, as filence or darkness. And such he accounteth matter.

307. Aristotle maketh a threefold distinction of objects according to the three speculative sciences, Physics he supposeth to be conversant about such. things as have a principle of motion in themselves; mathematics about things permanent but not abstracted ; and theology about being abstracted and immoveable ; which distinction may be seen in the ninth book of his Metaphysics, Where by ab. ftracted, ywersov, he understands separable from corporeal beings and sensible qualities.

308. That philosopher held that the mind of man was a tabula rafa, and that there were no innate ideas. Plato, on the contrary, held original ideas in the mind, that is, notions which never were or can be in the sense, such as being, beauty, goodness, likeness, parity. Some perhaps may think the truth to be this: That there are proper. ly no ideas or passive objects in the mind, but what were derived from fenfe : but that there are also besides these her own acts or operations ; fuch are notions. 309. It is a maxim of the Platonic philosophy,


[ocr errors]

that the soul of man was originally furnished with native inbred notions, and stands in need of sensible occasions, not absolutely for producing them, but only for, awakening, rousing, or exciting into act what was already pre-existent, dormant, and latent in the soul; as things are said to be laid up in the memory, though not actually perceived, until they happen to be called forth and brought into view by other objects. This notion seemech somewhat different from that of innate ideas, as understood by those moderns who have attempted to explode them. To understand and to be, are according to Parmenides the same thing. And Plato in his seventh letter makes no difference between vêç and imisiun, inind and knowledge. Whence it follows, that mind, knowledge, and notions, either in habit or in act, always go together.

310. And albeit Aristotle considered the soul in it's original state as a blank paper, yet he held it to be the proper place of forms, riw fuglue errou tómov did wo (a). Which doctrine first maintained by others he admits, under this restriction, that it is not to be understood of the whole soul, but only of the vosłown'; as is to be seen in his third book De anima. Whence, according to Themistius in his commentary on that treatise, it may be inferred that all beings are in the soul. For, faith he, the forms are the beings. By the form every thing is what it is. And he adds, it is the soul that imparteth forms to matter; tlu irlw μορφώσα ποικίλαις μόρφαις. Therefore they are firit in the soul. He further adds, that the mind is all things, taking the forms of all things it becomes all things by intellect and senfe. Alexander Aphrodifæus faith as much, affirming the mind to be all things, και α τε το νοείν και το αιθάνεθ. And (a) 269.

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »