Page images
PDF
EPUB

motion the Peripatetics trace out a first imttfoveable mover. The Platonics make God au

able. According to Anaxagoras there was a consused mass of all things in one chaos, but mind supervening, «TfA.9«r, distinguished and divided "them. Anaxagoras, it seems, ascribed the motive faculty to mind, which mind some subsequent philosophers have accurately discriminated from soul and lise,ascribing toit the sole faculty os intellection.

321. But still God was supposed the first agent, the source and original of all things, which he produceth, not occasionally or instrumentally but with actual and real efficacy. Thus, the treatise, De secretiore parte divinæ fapientiae secundum Ægyptios, in the tenth book, faith of God, that he is not only the first agent, but also that he it is who truly acts or creates, qui vere efficit. :. 321. Varro, Tully, and St. Augustin understand the soul to be vis, the power, or force that acts, "moves, enlivens. Now although, in our conception, vis, or spirit might be distinguished from - mind, it would not thence follow, that it acts blindly or without mind, or that it is not closely connected with intellect. If Plutarch is to be trusted in his account of the opinions of philoso- phers, Thales held the mind of the world to be God : Democritus held the soul of the world to be an igniform deity (g): Pythagoras taught that God was the monad and the good, or r *ya9S*: Socrates also and Plato pronounced him to be the '» (b), the single, self originate one, . essentially good. Each of which appellations and "forms of speech directly tends to, and determines in mind, tit 'nt vSv mrivin faith Plutarch. 3 2 3. Whence that author concludes, that in the sense (g) 166, 168, 277. (J) 287.

thor of all good, author of no evil,

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

of of those philosophers God is a mind, not an abstract idea compounded of inconsistencies and prescinded from all real things, as some moderns understand abstraction; but a really existing spirit, distinct or separate from all sensible and corporeal beings. And: although the Stoics are represented as holding a corporeal deity, or that the very system of the world is God, yet it is certain they did not, at bottom, dissent from the foreinentioned doctrine; inasmuch as they supposed the world to be an animal, (a) consisting of foul or mind as well as body.

324. This notion was derived from the Pythagoreans, who'held the world, as Timaeus Locrus teacheth, to be one persect animal, endued with foul and reason: but then they believed it to have been generated: whereas the Stoics looked on the world as the supreme God, including therein mind or intellect. For the elementary fire, or, if one may so speak, the animal spirit of the world, seemeth, according to them, to have been the vehicle of the soul (b)y the vehicle of intellect or *Ssi since they styled the Divinity wujj mgep (s)> or intellectual fire. -;| .. -.

'325. The ^Egyptians, if we may credit the Hermaic writings, maintained God to be all things, not only actual but possible. He is styled by them, that which is made apd that which is unmade. And therein it is faid, fliall I praise thee for those things thou hail made manisest, or for the things thou hast hidden? therefore, in their sinse, to manisest,

. was to create; the things:creat;ed having been be

- fore hidden in God.

ja6. Now whether the »»f be abstracted from the sensible world, and- considered by it self, as distinct from, and presiding over the created fys

{.->) 276.279. (*) 277. 284. (r) 272.

} tem,

- tern, or whether the whole universe, including mind together with the mundane body, is conceived to be God (d), and the creatures to be partial manisestations of the divine essence, there is no atheism in either case, whatever misconceptions there may be; so long as mind or intellect is understood to preside over, govern, and conduct the whole frame of things. And this was the general prevailing opinion among the philosophers. -: i

327. Nor if any one, with Aristotle in his Metaphysics, should deny that God knows any thing without himself; seeing that God comprehends all things, could this be justly pronounced nn atheistical opinion. Nor even was the following notion of the fame author to be accounted atheism, to wit, that there are some things beneath the knowledge of God, as too mean, base, and vile; however wrong this notion may be, and unworthy of the divine persection.

328. Might we not conceive that God may be faid to be all in divers senses; as he is the cause and origine of all beings; as the vSt is the »o>j7fli, a doctrine both of Platonics and Peripatetics (*); as the vSt is the place of all forms, and as it is the fame which comprehends and orders (/) and sustains the whole mandane system. Aristole declares, that the divine force or influence permeates the intire universe (g) and that what the pilot is in a ship, the driver in a chariot, the præcentorin

- a choir, the law in a city, the general in an army, the fame God is in the world. This he amply sets forth in his book De mundo, a treatise which having been anciently ascribed to him, ought not to be set aside from the difference of style, which (as Patricius rightly observes) being in a letter to {J) 30a .(*) 309, 310. (f) 320. fe) 173.

a king a king, might well be supposed to differ from tk other dry and crabbed parts of his writings.

329. And although there are some expressions to be met with in the philosophers, even of the Platonic and Aristotelic sects, which speak of God as mixing with, or pervading all nature and all the elements; yet this must be explained by force and not by extension, which was never attributed to the mind (b) either by Aristotle or Plato. This they always affirmed to be incorporeal: and, as Plotinus remarks, incorporeal things are distant. each from other not by place, but (to use his expression) by alterity.

330. These disquisitious will probably seem dry and useless, to such readers as are accustomed to consider only sensible objects. The employment of the mind on things purely intellectual is to most men irksome: whereas the sensitive powers, by constant use acquire strength. Hence, the objects of sense more forcibly afsect us and are too often counted the chief good. For these things men sight, cheat and scramble. Therefore, in order to tame mankind and introduce a fense of virtue, the best humane means is to exercise their understanc1ing, to give them a glympse of another world, -superior to the'sensible, and while they take pains to cheristi and maintain the animal lise, to teach

,them not to-neglect the intellectual. 1 i 32J4. -Prevailing studies are Of no small consetfUeaceto a stare, the religion, manners and civil goyermnent of a country ever taking some bias ifloaa u-V philosophy, which afsects not only the ominds of its prosetffors and students, but also the iop'tnibrw of all the better sort and the practise of ojhV.iWnole:people, remotely and consequentially, indeed,; though not "inconsiderably. :Have not the (b) 290, 293, 297, 3(9. (i) 264, 294. « polemic polemic and scholastic philosophy been observed ro produce controversies in law and religion? And have not Fatalism and Sadducism gained ground, during the general passion for the corpuscularian and mechanical philosophy, which hath prevailed for about a century? This indeed might usesully enough have employed some (hare of the leisure and curiosity of inquisitive persons. But when it entered the seminaries of learning as a necessary accomplishmenr, and most important part of education, by engrossing men's thoughts, and fixing their minds so much on corporeal objects, and the laws of motion, it hath, however undefignedly, indi„ rectly, and by accident, yet not a little indisposed them for spiritual, moral, and intellectual matters. Certainly had the philosophy of Socrates and Pytbagoras prevailed in this age, among those who think themselves too wise to receive the dictates of the gospel, we should not have seen interest take so general and fast hold on the minds of men, nor public spirit reputed to be ytim'av tuii'9««y, a generous folly, among those who are reckoned to be the most knowing as well as the most getting part of mankind, .:

[graphic]

332. It might very well bethought serious trifling, to tell my readers that the greatest men had ever an high esteem for Plato -, whose writings are the touchstone of a hasty and shallow mind; whose philosophy has been the admiration of ages; which supplied patriots, magistrates, and lawgivers to the most flourishing states, as well as fathers to the church, and doctors to the schools. Albeit in these days, the depths of that old learning are rarely fathomed, and yet it were happy for these lands, if our young nobility and gentry instead of modern maxims would imbibe the notions of the great men of antiquity. But in these free thinking,tim«s many an empty head is

shook

« EelmineJätka »