Page images
PDF
EPUB

Soul, faith it is the mind that maketh each thing to be one, tó dÈ v Torv TÔTo ó vos éx2500. How this is done, Themiftius is more particular, observing, that as being conferreth essence, the mind by virtue of her fimplicity conferreth simplicity upon compounded beings. And, indeed, it seemeth that the mind, fo far forth as person, is individual(a) therein resembling the divine one by participation, and imparting to other things what itself participates from above. This is agreeable to the doctine of the ancients, however the contrary opinion of supposing number to be an original primary quality in things, independent of the mind, may obtain among the moderns.

357. The Peripatetics taught, that in all divisible things there was somewhat indivisible, and in all compounded things somewhat simple. This they derived from an act of the mind. And neither this simple indivisible unite, nor any sum of repeated unites, consequently no number, can be separated from the things themselves, and from the operation of the mind. Themiftius goeth so far as to affirm, that it cannot be separated from the words or signs; and, as it cannot be uttered without them, so faith he, neither can it be conceived without them. Thus much upon the whole may be concluded, that distinct from the mind and her operations, there is in created beings neither unite nor number.

358. Of inferior beings the human mind, self, or person is the most simple and undivided essence (6). And the supreme father is the most perfect one. Therefore the fight of the mind towards God is called by the Platonics φυγή μόνο προς μόνον. The fupreme being, faith Plotinus, as he excludes all diversity, is ever alike present. And we are then present to him, when, recollected and abstracted from the world and sensible objects, we are most free and disengaged (c) from all variety. He adds, that in the intuition of

(a) 345, 346, 347. (6) 347. (c) 268.

as themelius goeth to words or baith

olt perte ed ene elf, or

the

the supreme deity the soul finds her wished for end and repose; which that philosopher calls awaking out of his body into himself.

359. In the tenth book of the arcane, or divine wisdom of the Ægyptians, we are taught that the supreme being is not the cause of any created thing; but that he produced or made the word; and that'all created beings were made by the word, which is accordingly styled the cause of all causes : and that this was also the doctrine of the Chaldæans. Plato, likewise, in his letter to Hermias, Erastus, and Coriscus, speaks of God the ruler and cause of all things, as having a father : And in his Epinomis, he exprelly teacheth that the word or aágos made the world. Accordingly faint Augustine in his commentary on the beginning of saint John's Gospel, having declared that Christ is the wisdoin of God by which all things were made, observes that this doctrine was also found in the writings of philofophers, who taught that God had an only begotten Son by whom are all things.

360. Now, though Plato had joined with an imagination the most splendid and magnificent, an intellect not less deep and clear; yet it is not to be supposed, that either he or any other philosophers of Greece or the east, had by the light of nature attained an adequate notion of the Holy Trinity, nor even that their imperfect notion, so far as it went, was exactly just ; nor perhaps that those sublime hints, which dart forth like flashes of light in the midst of a profound darkness, were originally struck from the hard rock of human reason ; but rather derived, at least in part, by a divine tradition (a) from the author of all things. It seems a remarkable confirmation of this, what Plotinus observes in his fifth Ennead, that this doctrine of a Trinity, father, mind, and soul, was no late invention, but an ancient tenet.

(a) 298, 301.

Y 2

361,

361. Certain it is, that the notion of a Trinity is to be found in the writings of many old heathen philosophers, that is to say, a notion of three divine hypostases. Authority, light, and life did, to the eye of reason, plainly appear to support, pervade, and ani. mate the mundane system or macrocosm. The same appeared in the microcosm, preserving soul and body, enlightening the mind, and moving the affections, And these were conceived to be necessary, universal principles, co-existing and co-operating in such fort, as never to exist asunder, but on the contrary to constitute one Sovereign of all things. And, indeed, how could power or authority avail or subsist without knowledge? or either without life and action?

362. In the administration of all things there is authority to establish, law to direct, and justice to execute. There is first the source of all perfection, or fons deitatis, fecondly the supreme Reason, order, or aby G, and lastly the Spirit which quickens and inspires. We are sprung! from the father, irradiated or enlightened by the son, and moved by the spirit, Certainly, that there is father, son, and spirit; that these bear analogy to the sun, light, and heat; and are otherwise expressed by the terms, principle, mind, and soul; by one or to ev, intellect, and life; by good, word, and love; and that generation was not attributed to the second hypostasis, the võs or nógo, in respect of time, (8), but only in respect of origine and order, as an eternal necessary emanation; these are the express tenets of Platonists, Pythagoræans, Ægyptians, and Chaldæans.

263. Though it may be well presumed there is nothing to be found on that sublime subject in human writings, which doth not bear che fure signatures of humanity ; yet it cannot be denied, that several fathers of the church have thought fit to illustrare the christian doctrine of the holy Trinity, by fimi

litudes (8) 352.

Sanity; yeth have thous Trinity, b

litudes and expressions borrowed from the most emia nent heathens, whom they conceived to have been no strangers to that mystery; as hath been plainly proved by Beffarion, Eugubinus, and Doctor Cud.

worth.

364. Therefore, how unphilosophical soever that doctrine may seem to many of the present age, yet it is certain, the men of greatest fame and learning among the ancient philosophers held a Trinity in the Godhead. It must be owned, that upon this point some later Platonists of the Gentile world seem to have bewilder'd themselves, (as many christians have also done ) while they pursued the hints derived from their predecessors, with too much curiosity.

365. But Plato himself consider'd that doctrine as a venerable mystery, not to be lightly treated of or rashly divulged. Wherefore in a letter to Dionysius he writes (as he himself profeffeth) ænigmatically and briefly in the following terms, which he giveth for a summary of his notion concerning the supreme being, .and which being capable of divers senses, I leave to be decyphered by the learned reader. Till tov w OUTW Bee cinéa Avtésig my ÉXÉIVY ÉVEXQ Tavla, s éxeīvo äition áráva 1ων των καλών, δέυθερον δε περί τα δέυθερα, και τρίτον περί τα Teita. Plato enjoins Dionysius over and over, with great earnestness not to suffer, what he commu. nicates concerning the mystery of the divine nature, to fall into illiterate or vulgar hands, giving it withal as a reason for this caution, that nothing would seem more ridiculous or absurd to the common run of mankind. He adds, that in regard writings might miscarry, the prudent way was to write nothing at all on those matters, but to teach and learn them by word of mouth: for which reason, faith he, I have never wrote any thing thereon; nor is there, nor shall there ever be any thing of Plato's extant on that subject. He farther adds, as for what hath been now said, it belongs all to Socrates.

366. And, indeed, what this philosopher in his Phædrus speaketh of the super-celestial region, and the divinity resident therein, is of a strain not to be relished or comprehended by vulgar minds ; to wit, ellence realy existent, object of intellect alone, without colour, without figure, without any tangible qua

lity. He might very justly conceive that such a de'scription must seem ridiculous to sensual men. . 367. As for the perfect intuition of divine things,

that he supposeth to be the lot of pure fouls, beholding by a pure light, initiated, happy, free and unstained from those bodies, wherein we are now imprifoned like oysters. But in this mortal state, we must be fatisfy'd to make the best of those glympses (b) within our reach. It is Plato's remark in his Theætetus, that while we fit still we are never the wifer, but going into the river and moving up and down, is the way to discover its depths and shallows. If we exercise and beftir ourselves, we may even here discover something.

368. The eye by long use comes to see even in the darkest cavern: and there is no subject so obscure, but we may difcern fome glympse of truth by long poring on it. Truth is the cry of all, but the game of a few. Certainly where it is the chief passion, it doth not give way to vulgar cares and views; nor is it contented with a little ardour in the early time of life, active perhaps to pursue, but not so fit to weigh and revise. He that would make a real progress in knowledge, muft dedicate his age as well as youth, the later growth as well as first fruits, at the altar of truth, Cujufvis eft errare, nullius nisi infipientis in errore perseverare.

Сіс. (b) 335, 337.

FINI S.

« EelmineJätka »