Page images

Sir Isaac Newton. Though it may be questioned, -whether what is thought a change be not only a disguise.

149. Fire seems the most elastic and expansive of all bodies. It communicates this quality to moist vapours and dry exhalations, when it heats and agitates their parts, cohering closely with them, overcoming their former mutual attraction, and causing them, instead thereof, reciprocally to repel each other and fly asunder, with a force proportionable to that wherewith they had cohered.

150. Therefore in air we may conceive two parts, the one more gross which was raised and carried off from the bodies of this terraqueous mass: the other a fine subtile spirit by means whereof the former is rendered volatile and elastic. Together they compose a medium, whose elasticity . is less than that of pure æther, fire, or spirit, in proportion to the quantity of salts, vapours, and heterogeneous particles contained therein. Hence it follows, that there is no such thing as a pure simple element of air. It follows also, that on the highest mountains air should be more rare than in proportion to the vulgar rule, of the spaces being reciprocally as the pressures: and so in sact it is said to have been found, by the gentlemen of the French Academy of Sciences.

151. Æther, fire, or spirit being attracted and clogged by heterogeneous particles becometh less active; and the particles cohering with those of æther, become more active than before. Air theresore is a mass of various particles, abraded and sublimated from wet and dry bodies of all sorts, cohering with particles of æther; the whole permeated by pure æther, or light, or fire: for these words are used promiscuously by ancient philoso* phers.

152. This

152. This æther or pure invisible fire, tHfe most subtile and elastic of all bodies, seems to pervade and expand it self throughout the whole universe. If air be the immediate agent or instrument in natural things, it is the pure invisible fire that is the first natural mover or spring, from whence the air derives it's power (a). This mighty agent is every where at hand, ready to break forth into action, if not restrained and governed with the greatest wisdom. Being always restless and in motion, it actuates and enlivens the whole visible mass, is equally fitted to produce and to destroy, distinguishes the various stages of nature, end keeps up the perpetual round of generations and corruptions, pregnant with forms which it constantly fends forth and resorbs. So quick in it's motions, so subtile and penetrating in it's nature, so extensive in it's effects, it seemeth no cither than the vegetative soul or vital spirit of the world.

153. The animal spirit in man is the instrumental or physical cause both of sense and motion. To suppose sense in the world, would be gross and unwarranted. But loco-motive saculties are evident in all it's parts. The Pythagoræans, Platonists, and Stoics held the world to be an ani;ma). Though some of them have chosen to consider'it as a vegetable, . However the plaænomena and effects do plainly shew there tea spirit that moves, and a mind or providence that presides. This providence, Plutarch faith, was thought to be in reg.ird to the world, what the soul is in regard to man.

154. The brder and course of things, and the experiments we daily make, shew there is a mind char governs and actuates this mundane system.,

(a) 139, 149, 151,

as ,,. . . ( 7i ) .

as the proper real agent and cause. And that the inferior instrumental cause is pure æther, fire, of the substance of light (c) which is applied and de* termined by an infinite mind in the macrocosm or universe, with unlimited power, and according to stated rules; as it is in the microcosm, with limited power and skill by rhe human mind. We proof either from experiment or reason, of any other agent or efficient cause than mind or spirit.- When therefore we speak of cor

Soreal agents or corporeal causes, this is to be underood in a different, subordinate, and improper sense. 155. The principles whereof a thing is compounded, the instrument used in its production, and the end for which it was intended, are all in vulgar use termed Causes, though none of them be strictly speaking agent or efficient. There is not any proof that an extended corporeal or mechanical cause doth really and properly act, even motion itself being in truth a passion. Therefore though we speak of this fiery substance as acting, yet it is to be understood only as a mean or instrument, which indeed is the case of all mechanical causes whatsoever. They are nevertheless sometimes termed agents and causes, although they are by no means active in a strict and proper signification. When, therefore, force, power, virtue, or action are .mentioned as subsisting in an extended and corporeal or mechanical being, this is not to be taken in a true, genuine, and real, but only in a gross and popular fense, whith sticks in appearances, and doth not analyse things to their first principles. In compliance with established language, and the use of the world, wer must employ the popular current phrase. But then in regard to truth we ought to distinguish

(«) 29. 37» '36» H9

US Its meaning.- It may suffice to have made tlifa declaration once for all, in order to avoid mistakes. »

156. The calidum innatum, the vital flame, or animal spirit in man is supposed the cause of all motions, in the several parts of his body, whether voluntary or natural. That is, it is the in* strument, by means whereof the mind exerts and manifests herself in the motions of the body. In the same fense may not sire be said to have force* to operate, and agitate the whole system of the world, which is held together and informed by one presiding mind, and animated throughout by one and the same fiery substance, as an instrumental and mechanical agent, not as a primary real efficient?

157. This pure spirit or invisible fire is ever ready to exert and shew itself in its effects {d)9 cherishing, heating, fermenting, dissolving, fhi* ning and operating in various manners, where a fubje-ct offers to employ or determine its force. It is present in ail parts of the earth and firmament, though perhaps latent and unobserved, till some accident produceth it into act, and renders it visible in its effects.

158. There is no effect in nature, great, marvellous, or terrible but proceeds from fire, that diffused and active principle, which at the same time that it shakes the earth and heavens, will enter, divide, and dissolve the smallest, closest, and most compacted bodies. In remote cavities of the earth it remains quiet, till perhaps an accidental spark from the collision of one stone against another kindles an exhalation, that gives birth to an earthquake or tempest, which splits mountains, or overturns cities. This same fire stands unseen in

W '5*.

the focus of a burning glass, till subjects for it to act upon it come in it's way, when it is sound to melt, calcine, or vitrify the hardest bodies.

159. No eye could ever hitherto discern, and no fense perceive, the animal spirit in a human body, otherwise than from it's effects. The same may be said of pure fire, or the spirit of the universe, which is perceived only by means of some other bodies, on which it operates, or with which it is joined. What the chemists say, of pure acids being never found alone, might as well be said of pure fire.

160. The mind of man acts by an instrument necessarily. The To ^wavim, or mind presiding in the world, acts by an instrument freely. Without instrumental and second causes, there could be no regular course of nature. And without a regular course, nature could never be understood. Mankind must always be at a loss, not knowing what to expect, or how to govern themselves, of direct their actions for the obtaining of any end. Therefore in the government of the world physical agents, improperly so called, or mechanical, or second causes, or natural causes, or instruments, are necessary to assist, not the governor, but the governed.

161. In th« human body the mind orders and moves the limbs: but the animal spirit is supposed the immediate physical eause of their motion. So likewise in the mundane system, a mind presides, but the immediate, mechanical, or instrumental cause, that moves or animates all it's parts, is the pure elementary fire or spirit of the world. The more fine and subtile part or spirit is supposed to receive the impressions of the first mover, and communicate them to the grosser sensible parts of this world. Motion, though in me

K taphysieal

« EelmineJätka »