« EelmineJätka »
this natural philosophy. And these fit the occafion 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 world, 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 all, and is to all created beings the source of unity and identity, harmony and order, existence and stability.
296. It is neither acid, nor salt, nor sulphur, nor air, nor æther, nor visible corporeal fire (6), much less the phantome fate, or necessity, that is the real agent, but by a certain analysis, a regular connection and climax, we ascend through all those mediums to a glympse of the first mover, invisible, incorporeal, unextended, intellectual source of life 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 grosly sensible and purely intelligible, and it seem a tedious work, by the Now 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 light of truth, yet as this gradually dawns, further discoveries still correct the style, and clear up the notions.
292. The mind, her acts and faculties, furnish a new and distinct class of objects (c) from the
. 163, 266.
contemplation 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 ex'cluded from vulgar speech and books, as abstract from sensible matters, and more fit for the speculation of Truth, the labour and aim of a few, 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 professedly 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 essay 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 philofophy (). Men in those early days were not overlaid with languages 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 patriarchal lights handed down through a few hands. It cannot be affirmed indeed (how probable foever it may seem) that Moses was that same Mochus, with whose successors, priests and prophets, Pythagoras is said to have conversed at Sidon. Yet the study of philosophy appears to be of very greac antiquity and remote original ; inasmuch as Timæus
Locrensis, that ancient Pythagorean, author of the book concerning the soul of the world, speaks of a most ancient philosophy, even in his time, a węko Gúsa Pinocolía, stirring up and recovering the soul from a state of ignorance to the contemplation of divine things. And though the books attributed to Mercurius Trismegistus were none of them wrote by him, and are allowed to contain some manifest 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 obferves, that the books under his name contain indeed mercurial opinions, though often expressed in the style of the Greek philosophers; as having been translated from the Ægyptian tongue into Greek.
299. The difference of Isis from Osiris (d) refembles that of the moon from the sun, of the female from the male, of natura naturata (as the schoolmen speak) from natura naturans. But Isis, though mostly taken for nature, yet (as the Pagan divinities were very fluctuating things) it sometimes fignified to gãy. And we find in Mountfaucon an Isis of the ordinary form with this inscription Jeg taulós. And in the mensa Isiaca, which seems to exhibit a general system of the religion and superstition of the Ægyptians, Isis on her throne poffeffeth the center of the table. Which may seem to fignify, that the universe or so war was the center of the ancient secret religion of the Ægyptians; their Ifis or to wão comprehending both Osiris the author of nature and his work.
300. Plato and Aristotle considered God as abftracted or distinct from the natural world. But the Ægyptians considered God and nature as ma(d) 368.
king one whole, or all things together as making one universe. In doing which they did not exclude the intelligent mind, but considered it as containing 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 impreslions 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 considers a parcel of rude favages left to themiselves, how they are funk and swallowed up in sense and prejudice, and how unqualified by their natural force to emerge from this state, will be apt to think that the first spark of philosophy was derived from heaven ; and that it was (as a Heathen writer exprefech it) θεοπαράδοίο φιλοσοφία.
302. The lapsed state of human kind is a thing to which the ancient philosophers were not strangers. The λύσις, the φυγή, the σάλι/γρεσία hew 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 philofophy gently unbind the ligaments, that chain the soul down to the earth, and aslist her flight towards the sovereign Good. There is an instinct or tendency of the mind upwards, which sheweth a natural endeavour to recover and raise ourselves, from our present sensual 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 sense,
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 afcent, we arrive at the highest. Sense supplies images to memory. These become subjects for fancy to work upon. Reason considers and judges of the imaginations. And these 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 uppermost naturally leads to the Deity, which is rather the object of intellectual knowledge than even of the discursive faculty, not to mention the sensitive. 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 strange nor much to be complained of, if a low sensual reader shall, from mere love of the animal life, find himself 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 sensible and perishing (b), not because they are naturally abstruse and involved in darkness, but because their nature and existence is uncertain, ever Aeeting and changing; or rather, because they do not in itriệt truth exist at all, being always gene· rating or in fieri, that is, in a perpetual Aux, without any thing stable or permanent in them to constitute an object of real science. The Pythagoreans and Platonics distinguish between so gluóukor and to öv, that which is ever generated and that which exists. Sensible things and corporeal forms
(a) 275 (6) 263, 264