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agents or corporeal forces, which make the partie cles of bodies to cohere. Nor is it the business of experimental philosophers to find them out.
249. The mechanical philosopher, as hath been already observed, inquires properly concerning the rules and modes of operation alone, and not concerning the cause, forasmuch as nothing mechanical is or really can be a cause (u). And although a mechanical or mathematical philosopher may speak. of absolute space, absolute motion, and of force as existing in bodies, causing such motion and proportional thereto ; yet what these forces are, which are supposed to be lodged in bodies, to be impressed on bodies, to be multiplied, divided, and communicated from one body to another, and which seem to animate bodies like abstract spirits or souls, hath been found very difficult, not to say impossible, for thinking nien to conceive and explain, as may be. seen by consulting Borellus De vi percussionis, and Torricelli in his Lezioni academiche, among other authors.
250. Nor, if we consider the proclivity of mankind to realize their notions, will it seem strange that mechanic philosophers and geometricians should, like other men, be mised by prejudice, and take mathematical hypotheses for real beings existing in bodies, so far as even to make it the very aim and end of their science to compute or measure those phantoms; whereas it is very certain that nothing in truth can be measured * or computed, beside the very effects or motions themselves. Sir Isaac Newton asks, have not the minute particles of bodies certain forces or powers by which they act on
(x) 236, 247. * This subject is handled at large in my Latin tract De motu, published above twenty years ago.
one another, as well as on the particles of light, for producing most of the phænomena in nature But in reality, those minute particles are only agited according to certain laws of nature, by fome other agent, wherein the force exists and not in them, which have only the motion ; which motion in the body moved, the Peripatetics rightly judge to be a mere passion, but in the mover to be évéparer de or act.
251. It passeth with many, I know not how, that mechanical principles give a clear solution of the phænomena. The Democritic hypothesis, faith doctor Cudworth, doth much more handsomely and intelligibly solve the phænomena, than that of Aristotle and Placo. But things rightly considered, perhaps it will be found not to folve any phænomenon at all. For all phænomena are, co speak truly, appearances in the soul or mind; and it hath never been explained, nor can it be explained, how external bodies, figures and motions should produce an appearance in the mind. Those principles, therefore, do not solve, if by solving is meant assigning the real, either efficient or final cause of appearances, but only reduce them to general rules.
252. There is a certain analogy, constancy, and uniformity in the phænomena or appearances of nature, which are a foundation for general rules: and these are a grammar for the understanding of na. ture, or that series of effects in the visible world, whereby we are enabled to foresee what will come to pass, in the natural course of things. Plotinus obferves, in his third Ennead, that the art of prefaging is in some sort the reading of natural letters denoting order, and that so far forth as analogy obtains in the universe, there may be vaticination. And in reality, he that foretells the motions of the
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 charac. ters by sight : but we are not therefore said to understand them. “After the same manner, the phæ. nomena 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 wiseft. 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 foretell 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 acts naturally is not intellection, but a certain power of mov. ing matter, which doch 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 studied with different attention, and interpreted with different degrees of skill. But so far as men have studied and remarked it's 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 Cud. worth, is not master of art or wisdom : Nature is ratio mersa & confufa, reason immersed and plung. ed 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 vari. ous properties, appearances and viciffitudes, 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; so 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 fuit with the order of things, the ftructure of the universe, or the ends of providence that they should be so. 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 fometimes unavoidably ensue: things will be produced in a Now length of time, and arrive at different des grees of perfection.
257. It must be owned, we are not conscious of the lystole 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 humane per. fon, 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 said 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 same perhaps which governs bees and spiders, and moves the limbs of those who walk in their neep.
258. Instruments, occasions, and signs (6) occur in, or rather make up, the whole visible course of nature. These, being no agents themfelves, are under the direction of one agent concerting all for one end, the supreme good. All those notions, whether in animal bodies or in other parts of the system of nature, which are not effects of parricular wills, seem to spring from the same general cause with the vegetation of plants, an ætherial spirit actuated by a mind.
259. The first poets and cheologers of Greece and the east considered the generation of things, as ascribed rather to a divine cause, but the Physici
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