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planets, or the effects of medicines, or the result of chemical or mechanical experiments, may be said to do it by natural vaticination.
253. We know a thing when we understand it: and we understand it, when we can interpret or tell what it signifies. Strictly the sense knows nothing. We perceive indeed sounds by hearing, and characters by sight : but we are not therefore said to understand them. After the same manner, the phænomena of nature are alike visible to all : but all have not alike learned the connexion of natural things, or understand what they signify, or know how to vaticinate by them. There is no question, faith Socrates, in Theæteto, concerning that which is agreeable to each person ; but concerning what will in time to come be agreeable, of which all men are not equally judges. He who foreknoweth what will be in every kind, is the wisest. According to Socrates, you and the cook may judge of a dish on the table equally well; but while the dish is making, the cook can better foretel what will ensue from this or that manner of composing it. Nor is this manner of reasoning confined only to morals or politics ; but extends also to natural science.
254. As the natural connexion of signs with the things signified is regular and constant, it forms a sort of rational discourse (a), and is therefore the immediate effect of an intelligent cause. This is agreeable to the philosophy of Plato and other ancients. Plotinus indeed faith, that which acis naturally is not intellection, but a certain power of moving matter, which doth not know, but only do. And it must be owned, that, as faculties are multiplied by philosophers according to their operations, the will may be distinguished from the intellect.
But it will not therefore follow, that the will, which operates in the course of nature, is not conducted and applied by intellect, although it be granted that neither will understands, nor intellect wills. Therefore, the phænomena of nature, which strike on the senses and are understood by the mind, form not only a magnificent spectacle, but also a most coherent, entertaining, and instructive discourse and to effect this, they are conducted, adjusted, and ranged by the greatest wisdom. This language or discourse is ftudied with different attention, and interpreted with different degrees of skill. But fo far as men have studied and remarked its rules, and can interpret right, fo far they may be said to be knowing in nature. A beast is like a man who hears a strange tongue, but understands nothing.
255. Nature, faith the learned Doctor Cudworth, is not master of art or wisdom : Nature is ratio mersa et confufa, reason immersed and plunged into matter, and as it were fuddled in it and confounded with it. But the formation of plants and animals, the motions of natural bodies, their various properties, appearances, and vicissitudes, in a word, the whole series of things in this visible world, which we call the course of nature, is so wisely managed and carried on, that the most improved human reason cannot thoroughly comprehend even the least particle thereof; fo far is it from seeming to be produced by fuddled or confounded reason.
256. Natural productions, it is true, are not all equally perfect. But neither doth it suit with the order of things, the structure of the universe, or the ends of providence, that they should be fo. General rules, we have seen (a), are necessary to
(a) 249, 252.
make the world intelligible: and from the constant observation of such rules, natural evils will sometimes unavoidably ensue : things will be produced in a slow length of time, and arrive at different degrees of perfection.
257. It must be owned, we are not conscious of the systole and diastole of the heart, or the motion of the diaphragm. It may not nevertheless be thence inferred, that unknowing nature can act regularly, as well as ourselves. The true inference is, that the self-thinking individual, or human perfon, is not the real author of those natural motions. And in fact no man blames himself if they are wrong, or values himself if they are right. The same may be faid of the fingers of a musician, which some object to be moved by habit which understands not; it being evident, that what is done by rule must proceed from something that understands the rule ; therefore, if not from the musician himself, from some other active intelligence, the fame perhaps which governs bees and spiders, and moves the limbs of those who walk in their sleep.
258. Instruments, occasions, and signs (5) occur in, or rather make up, the whole visible course of nature. These, being no agents themselves, are under the direction of one agent concerting all for one end, the supreme good. All those motions, whether in animal bodies or in other parts of the system of nature, which are not effects of particular wills, seem to spring from the fame general cause with the vegetation of plants, an ætherial fpirit actuated by a mind.
259. The first poets and theologers of Greece and the East considered the generation of things, as ascribed rather to a divine cause ; but the Phylici
to natural causes, subordinate to, and directed still by a divine ; except fome corporealists and mechanics, who vainly pretended to make a world without a God. The hidden force that unites, adjusts, and causeth all things to hang together, and move in harmony, which Orpheus and Empedocles styled love ; this principle of union, is no blind principle, but acts with intellect. This divine love and intellect are not themselves obvious to our view, or otherwise difcerned than in their effects. Intellect enlightens, Love connects, and the sovereign Good attracts all things.
260. All things are made for the supreme good, all things tend to that end : and we may be said to account for a thing, when we shew that it is so best. In the Phädon, Socrates declares it to be his opinion, that he, who supposed all things to have been disposed and ordered by a mind (c), should not pretend to assign any other cause of them. He blames physiologers for attempting to account for phænomena, particularly for gravity and cohesion, by vortexes and æther, overlooking the το αγαθόν and το δέον, the ftrongeft bond and cement which holds together all the parts of the universe, and not discerning the cause it self from those things which only attend it.
261. As in the microcosm, the constant regular tenor of the motions of the viscera and contained juices doth not hinder particular voluntary motions to be impressed by the mind on the animal fpirit; even so in the mundane system, the steddy obser
ance of certain laws of nature, in the grosser masses and more conspicuous motions, doth not hinder but a voluntarily agent may sometimes communicate particular impressions to the fine ætherial medium,
(C) 154, 160.
which in the world answers the animal spirit in man. Which two (if they are two) although invisible and inconceivably small, yet seem the real latent springs, whereby all the parts of this visible world are moved ; albeit they are not to be regarded as a true cause, but only an instrument of motion; and the instrument not as a help to the creator, but only as a sign to the creature.
262. Plotinus supposeth that the soul of the universe is not the original cause or author of the species, but receives them from intellect, the true principle of order and distinction, the source and giver of forms. Others consider the vegetative foul only as some lower faculty of a higher soul, which animates the fiery ætherial spirit (d). As for the blots and defects which appear in the course of this world, which some have thought to proceed from a fatality or necessity in nature, and others from an evil principle, that fame philosopher observes, that, it may be, the governing reason produceth and ordained all those things ; and, not intending that all parts Tould be equally good, maketh some worse than others by design, as all parts in an animal are not eyes : and in a city, comedy, or picture, all ranks, characters, and colours are not equal or like'; even so excesses, defects, and contrary qualities, conspire to the beauty and harmony of the world,
263. It cannot be denied, that with respect to the universe of things, we in this mortal state are like men educated in Plato's cave, looking on shadows with our backs turned to the light. But though our light be dim, and our situation bad, yet if the best use be made of both, perhaps fomething may be seen. Proclus, in his commentary on the theology of 'Plato, observes there are two