Page images
PDF
EPUB

Sir Ifaac 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 afunder, 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 falts, vapours, and heterogeneous particles contained therein. Hence it follows, that there is no such thing as a pure limple element of air. It follows also, that on the highest mountains air fhould be more rare than in proportion to the vulgar rule, of the spaces being reciprocally as the pressures : and so in fact 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 therefore 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 promiscuousy by ancient philofophers.

152, This

152. This æther or pure invisible fire, the most fubtile and elastic of all bodies, seems to pervade and expand it self throughout the whole universe. If air be the immediate agent or inftrument 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, diftinguishes the various stages of nature, and keeps up the perpetual round of generations and corruptions, pregnant with forms which it constantly sends forth and resorbs. So quick in it's motions, so subtile and penetrating in it's nacure, so extensive in it's effects, it feemeth no o ther than the vegetative soul or vital spirit of thç world.

153. The animal spirit in man is the instru: mental or physical cause both of sense and mos tion. To suppose sense in the world, would be gross and unwarranted. But loco-motive faculties are evident in all it's parts. The Pythagoræans, Platonists, and Stoics held the world to be an animal. Though some of them have chosen to con fider' it as a vegetable, . However the phænomena and effects do plainly sew there is a spirit that moves, and a mind or providence that prefides. This providence, 'Plutarch faith, was thought to be in regard to the world, what the foul is in regard to nian.

154. The order and course of things, and the expertinents we daily make, thew there is a mind chuir governs and actuates this mundane fyftemi,

(a) 139, 149, 151,

as

as the proper real agent and cause. And that the inferior instrumental cause is pure æther, fire, or the substance of light (c) which is applied and des termined by an infinite mind in the macrocosm or universe, with unlimited power, and according to ftated rules; as it is in the microcosm, with limited power and skill by the human mind. We have no proof either from experiment or reason, of any other agent or efficient cause than mind or fpirit. When therefore we speak of corporeal agents or corporeal causes, this is to be underfood in a different, fubordinate, and improper fense.

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 ftrictly 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 inftrument, 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 sig. nification. 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, buc only in a gross and popular sense, which sticks in appearances, and doth not analyse things to their first principles. In compliance with established language, and the use of the world, we must employ the popular current phrase. But then in regard to truth we ought to distinguish (c) 29, 37, 136, 149.

its meaning. It may fuffice to have made this declaration once for all, in order to avoid mis stakes.

156. The calidum innatum, the vital Aame, or animal spirit in man is supposed the cause of all motions, in the several parts of his body, whe ther voluntary or natural. That is, it is the instrument, by means whereof the mind exerts and manifests herself in the motions of the body. In the same sense may not fire 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 fame fiery substance, as an instrumen tal 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), cherishing, heating, fermenting, diffolving, this ning and operating in various manners, where a subject offers to employ or determine its force. It is present in all 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, mar. vellous, or terrible but proceeds from fire, that diffufed and active principle, which at the same time that it Thakes the earth and heavens, will enzer, divide, and diffolve the smallest, clofest, 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 exhalacion, that gives birth to an earthquake or tempeft, which splits mountains, or overturns cities. This same fire stands unseen in (0) 152.

the

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

159. No eye could ever hitherto discern, and no sense 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 faid of

pure fire.

160. The mind of man acts by an instrument neceffarily. The to ygąuovexov, or mind presiding in the world, acts by an instrument freely. Without inftrumental 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 lofs, not knowing what to expect, or how to govern themselves, or 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 alift, not the governor, but the governed.

161. In the human body the mind orders and moves the limbs: but the animal spirit is fupposed the immediate physical cause of their motion. So likewise in the mundane fystem, a mind presides, but the immediate, mechanical, or inftrumental cause, that moves or animates all it's parts, is the pure elementary fire or fpirit of the world. The more fine and subtile part or spirit is supposed to receive the impreslions of the first mover, and communicate them to the groffer fenfible parts of this world. Motion, though in me

K

taphysical

« EelmineJätka »