Page images
PDF
EPUB

fuppose all things to be one. But to conceive God to be the fentient soul of an animal, is altogether unworthy and absurd. There is no sense, nor sensory, nor any thing like a sense or sensory in God. Sense implies an impression from some other being, and denotes a dependence in the soul which hath it. Sense is a passion ; and passions imply imperfection. God knoweth all things, as pure mind or intellect, but nothing by sense, nor in nor through a sensory. Therefore to suppose a sensory of any kind, whether space or any other, in God would be very wrong, and lead us into false conceptions of his nature. The presuming there was such a thing as real absolute uncreated space, seems to have occasioned that modern mistake. But this presumption was without grounds. "

290. Body is opposite to spirit or mind. We have a notion of spirit from thought and action, We have a notion of body from resistance. So far forth as there is real power, there is spirit. So far forth as there is resistance, there is inability or want of power. That is, there is a negation of fpirit. We are embodied, that is, we are clogged by weight, and hindered by resistance. But in respect of a perfect spirit, there is nothing hard or impenetrable: there is no resistance to the Deity : : Nor hath he any body: nor is the supreme being united to the world, as the foul of an animal is to it's body, which necessarily implieth defect, both as an instrument, and as a constant weight and im. pediment.

291. Thus much it confists with piety to say, that a divine agent doth by his virtue permeate and govern the elementary fire or light (d), which serves as an animal spirit to enliven and actuate the

(d) 1570 172

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

--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 Tee water turned into air, and air rarified and made elastic (e) by the attraction of ancther 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 içself 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 fee and perceive them. Their real and objective natures are, therefore, the fame; passive without any thing active, Auent and changing without any thing permanent in them. However, as these make the first impressions, and the mind takes her first fight 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, abfolute motions, and real spaces, do pass in physics for causes and principles (8), yet are they in truth but hypotheses, nor can they be the objects of real science. They pass nevertheless in physics conversant about things of sense, and con

le) 149, 152, 200. (f) 207. (3) 270. (8) 220, 249, 259.

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, connecting, enlivening the whole frame; and imparting those motions, forms, qualities, and that order and symmetry to all those transient phænomena, which we term the course of ną. ture. i

294. It is with our faculties as with our affectie ons: what first feises, holds fast (a). It is a vule gar 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 life from different principles takes a dif, ferent issue. It is the same in regard to our facul. ties. Sense at first besets and over bears the mind, The sensible appearances are all in all, our reasonings are employed about them; our desires 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 Aeeting 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 ta

band 264.

this natural philosophy. And these fit 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 afcends 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 fulphur, 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 afcend through all those mediums to a glympfe 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 lowly 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 pureJy intelligible, and it seem a tedious work, by the flow helps of memory, imagination, and reafon, oppressed and overwhelmed, as we are, by the senses, through erroneous principles and long ambages of words and notions, to ftruggle upwards into the light of truth, yet as this gradually dawns, further 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 (6) 155. (c) 163, 266.

contempla

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 fpecu-
lation of Truth, the labour and aim of a few, than
for the practice of the world, or the subjects of ex-
perimental 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 efsay writer. It may, therefore, be par-
doned if this rude essay doth, by insensible transici-
ons, draw the reader into remote inquiries and fpe-
culations, 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, Pytha-
goræan, Ægyptian, and Chaldaic philosophy (o).
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 few hands.
It cannot be affirmed indeed (how probable foever
it may seem) that Moles was that fame Mochus,
with whose fucceffors, priests and prophets, Pytha-
goras is said to have conversed at Sidon. Yet the
study of philosophy appears to be of very great
antiquity and remote original; inasınuch as Timæus
(0) 179, 266.

Locrenfis,

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »