Page images
PDF
EPUB

d

that a rational man would wish to preserve, when he would be rather thankful to find his passions and his appetites extinct.

And thus having traced the various order of forms, from the lowest and basest up to the highest and best, and considered how, though differing, they all agree in this, that they give to every being its peculiar and distinctive character, we shall here conclude our speculations concerning form, the second species of substance, and which appears in part to be an element, in part an efficient cause.

And yet we cannot quit these speculations, the latter part of them at least, without a few observations on their dignity and importance.

Their principal object has been to shew, that in the great intellectual system of the universe, means do not lead to ends, but ends lead to means; that it was not the organization of the sheep's body which produced the gentle instincts of the sheep; nor that of the lion's body which produced the ferocious instincts of the lion ;. but because, in the divine economy of the whole, such respective animating and active principles were wanting, it was therefore necessary that they should be furnished with such peculiarly organized bodies, that they might be enabled to act, and to perform their part, agreeably to their respective natures, and their proper business in the world.

The ancient system of atheism supposed the organs to come first, before any thing further was thought of;' which organs, being all of them formed fortuitously, some of them luckily answered an end, and others answered none: those that answered, for a while subsisted; those that failed, immediately perished.

to what is of the same nature with itself, beginning of this note, the following remar; except the soul: that alone is invisible, and quotation may perhaps inform us further both during its presence here, and at its in the sentiments of the Stagirite, and his departure.” Cyropæd. p. 326, 327. school.

Thus translated by Cicero: Mihi quidem The human intellect was supposed by the nunquam persuaderi potest animos, dum in Peripatetics to be pure and absolute cacorporibus essent mortalibus, vivere ; cum pacity; to be no particular thing, till it exissent ex iis, emori : nec vero tum animum began to comprehend things ; nor to be esse insipientem, cum ex insipienti corpore blended with body, because, if it were, it evasisset sed, cum, omni admixtione corporis would have some quality of body adhere liberatus, purus et integer esse cæpisset, to it, (such as hot, cold, and the like) tum esse sapientem. Atque etiam, cum which quality would of course obstruct its hominis natura morte dissolvitur, ceterarum operations. On the contrary, they held it rerum perspicuum est quo quæque dis- to receive its impressions, ώσπερ εν γραμcedant; abeunt enim illuc omnia, unde matelo, ag under útápxe evTeReyelą gye orta sunt: animus autem solus, nec cum ypauuévov, “as impressions are made in adest, nec cum discedit, apparet. De Se- a writing tablet, where nothing as yet is in nectute, cap. 22.

actuality written.” Aristot. de Anima, lib. These speculations of Cyrus may more iii. c. 4. p. 58. edit. Sylb. properly be called the speculations of Xeno- But this in the way of digression : it is phon, who derived them without doubt (as only the short specimen of an ancient he did the rest of his philosophy) from his speculation, which gives us reasons, why great master, Socrates. They passed also the human intellect can have no innate into other systems of philosoplıy, derived ideas. from the same original ; such, for example, d See the two last notes of the preceding as the philosophy of Aristotle, who was a chapter. hearer and a disciple as well of Socrates as e See before, in the beginning of this of Plato.

chapter, p. 278. Besides what has been offered in the See Hermes, p. 232.

Empedocles (which is somewhat surprising, if we consider some of his better and more rational doctrines) appears to have favoured this opinion: και τα μόρια των ζώων από τύχης gevéobai meiota pnoiv: “he says, (as Aristotle tells us,) that the limbs of animals were the greater part of them made by chance.” Soon after this, Aristotle proceeds in explaining this strange system: όπου μεν ούν άπαντα συνέβη, ώσπερ κάν ει ένεκά του εγίγνετο, ταύτα μεν εσώθη, από του αυτομάτου συστάντα επιτηδείως. όσα δε μη ούτως, απώλετο και απόλλυται, καθάπερ Εμπεδοκλής λέγει τα βουγενή και ανδρόπρωρα : “ when therefore these limbs all coincided, as if they had been made for the purpose, they were then saved and preserved, having been thus aptly put together by the operation of chance ; but such as coincided not, these were lost, and still [as far as they arise) are lost ; according to what Empedocles says concerning [those monstrous productions] the bull species with human heads." Arist. Physic. I. ii. c. 4. 8.

Lucretius advances the same doctrine, which was indeed suitable to his ideas of the world's production. The earth, he tells us, in his account of creation, aimed at the time to create many portentous beings, some with strange faces and members ; others deficient, without either feet or hands; but the endeavours were fruitless, for nature could not support, and carry them on to maturity :

Multaque tum Tellus etiam portenta creare
Conata est, mira facie, membrisque coorta ;
Orba pedum partim, manuum viduata vicissim:
Nequicquam, quoniam Natura absterruit auctum,
Nec potuere cupitum ætatis tangere florem,
Nec reperire cibum, &c.

Lucret. v. 835, &c. It is more expressly in contradiction to the doctrines inculcated through this whole tract, that he denies final causes; that he holds, eyes were not made for seeing, nor feet for walking, &c.; that he calls such explanations a preposterous and inverted order, the existence of the use (according to him) not leading to the production of the thing, but the casual production of the thing leading to the existence of the use.

Lumina ne facias oculorum clara creata,
Prospicere ut possimus, et, ut proferre viai
Proceros passus, ideo, &c.
Cætera de genere hoc inter quæcunque pretantur,
Omnia perversa præpostera sunt ratione:
Nil adeo quoniam natum'st in corpore, ut uti

Possimus ; sed quod natum'st, id procreat usus. Lucret. iv. 822. 30. An elegant poet of our own, states this doctrine with his usual humour:

Note here, Lucretius dares to teach
(As all our youths may learn from Creech)
That eyes were made, but could not view,
Nor hands embrace, nor feet pursue ;
But heedless Nature did produce
The members first, and then the use :
What cach must act, was yet unknown,
Till all was moved by Chance alone.

A man first builds a country seat,
Then finds the walls not fit to eat ;
Another plants, and wond'ring sees
Nor books, nor medals on his trees.
Yet poet and philosopher
Was he, who durst such whims aver.
Blest, for his sake, be human reason,

Which came at last, tho' late, in season. Prior's Alma, canto i. The poet had cause to be thankful, that a time came, when men of sense opposed reason to such sophistry; but the opposition was not so late, nor so long in coming, as he imagined. Galen, many centuries ago, in his excellent treatise De Usu Partium ; Cicero, in the best and most conclusive part of his treatise De Natura Deorum ; and before them both, as well as before Lucretius, Aristotle, through every part of his works, and, above all, in those respecting the history of the members, and the progression of animals, had inculcated, with irresistible strength of argument, the great doctrine of final causes; which if we allow with regard to ourselves, but deny to nature, we totally annihilate through the universe any divine or intelligent principle. For nothing can be divine, which is not intelligent; nor any thing intelligent, which has not a meaning; nor any being have a meaning, which has no scope, or final cause, to govern and direct its energies and operations.

A painter, painting a hundred portraits, succeeds in ninetynine, and fails in one. We may possibly impute the single failure to chance; but can we possibly impute to chance his success in the ninety-nine? How then can we dream of chance in the operations of nature; operations so much more accurate, though withal so much greater, and more numerous, than those of the painter? Chance is never thought of in that which happens always; nor in that which happens for the most part; but, if any where, in that which happens unexpectedly and rarely.

And so much for those philosophers, recorded for having hardily denied a Providence.

& See the note, p. 12, 13, where the doc- It was consonant to the reasoning there trine of chance and fortune is discussed at held, that Plato, long before, is said to have large upon the Peripatetic principles; and called fortune σύμπτωμα φύσεως ή προαιwhere an attempt is made to explain that péoews :

a symptom, or thing co-incident most subtle and ingenious argument of the either with nature or the human will." Stagirite, by which he proves that chance and See Suidas in the word Eluapuévn. Plato's fortune are so far from supplanting mind, account will be better understood, perhaps, or an intelligent principle, that the exist- by recurring to the quotation in the former ence of the two former necessarily infers part of this note. the existence of the latter.

There are others, who, though they have not denied one, have yet made systems that would do without one; seeming to think, concerning the trouble of governing a world, as queen Dido did of old,

Scilicet is superis labor est ; ea cura quietos
Sollicitath

Virg. Æn. iv. A third sort, with more decency, have neither denied a Providence, nor omitted one; yet have seldom recurred to it, but upon pressing occasions, when difficulties arose, which they either happened to find, or had happened to make. They appear to have conducted themselves by Horace's advice:

Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus. Hor. Art. Poet. A fourth philosopher remains, and a respectable one he is, who supposes Providential wisdom never to cease for a single moment; and who says to it with reverence, what Ulysses did to Minerva,

ουδέ δε λήθω
Κινύμενος. .
Nor can I move, and 'scape

Thy notice.k
But to quit philosophers and poets, and return from a digres-
sion, to which we have been led insensibly by the latent con-
Dection of many different ideas.

There remains nothing further, in the treating of substance, than to say something of those characters which are usually ascribed to it by Aristotle and his followers, when they consider it not in a physical, but in a logical view.

Tursum

h It was the advice of the Epicureans, Ausonius has translated the sentiment in with regard to “ themselves, not to marry, two iambics, Ep. cxvi. not to have children, not to engage in Quod est beatum, morte et æternum carens, public affairs:" où ràp yauntéov, årı' oudè Nec sibi parit negotium, nec alteri. παιδοποιητέον, αλλ' ουδέ πολιτευτέον. Αr- See also Lucretius i. 57. vi. 83, whom rian. Epict. iii. 7. p. 384. edit. Upt. The Horace seems to have copied in the verses political life, according to them, was, like above quoted. that of Sisiphus, a life of labour which It is true, this idea destroyed that of a knew no end.

Providence ; but to them, who derived the Hoc est adverso nirantem tundere monte world from a fortuitous concourse of atoms, Sarum, quod tamen a summo jam vertice such a consequence was of small import

ance. Volritur, et plani raptim petit æquora campi. i Hom. Iliad. x. ver. 279, See Arrian's

Lucret. iii. 1013, &c. Epictetus, lib. i. c. 12, both in the original, Hence, with regard to their gods, they and in Mrs. Carter's excellent translation. provided them a similar felicity ; a felicity, See also the comment of my worthy and like their own, detached from all attention. learned friend Upton, on this chapter, in Thus Horace, when an Epicurean :

his valuable edition of that author, vol. ii. Deos didici securum agere ævum, p. 40, 41. See also Psalm cxxxix. Nec, si quid miri faciat natura, deos id k to the citations in note t, p. 293, may Tristes ex alto cæli demittere tecto.

be added the following fine sentiment of Hor. lib. i. sat. 5. Thales: Ηρώτησέ τις αυτόν, εί λήθοι Θεούς Thus Epicurus himself: το μακάριον και άνθρωπος άδικών αλλ' ουδε διανοούμενος, άφθαρτον ούτε αυτό πράγματα έχει, ούτε έφη: “ One asked him, If a man might či tapéxel: “ that which is blessed and escape the knowledge of the gods, when he immortal (meaning the Divine Nature) has was committing injustice ? No, says he, not neither itself any business, nor does it find even when he is meditating it.” Diog. Laert. business for any other.” Diog. Laert. x. i. 36. 139.

CHAPTER VII.

CONCERNING THE PROPERTIES OF SUBSTANCE, ATTRIBUTED TO IT IN THE

PERIPATETIC LOGIC.

The ancient logicians, or rather Aristotle and his school, have given us of substance the following characters.

They inform us, that, as substance, it is not susceptible of more and less. Thus a lion is not more or less a lion, by being more or less bulky; a triangle is not more or less a triangle, by being more or less acute-angled. The intensions and remissions are to be found in their accidents; the essences remain simply and immutably the same, and either absolutely are, or absolutely are not.

Again; substance, they tell us, admits of no contraries. It is to this that Milton alludes, when, after having personified substance, he tells us,

To find a foe it shall not be his hap,

And peace shall lull him in her flow'ry lap. Milt. Poems, No. ii. The assertion is evident in compound beings, that is to say, in substances natural; for what is there contrary to man considered as man, or to lion considered as lion? This is true also in the relation borne by matter to form ; for while contraries by their coincidence destroy each other, these two, matter and form, coalesce so kindly, that no change to either arises from their union. Thus the marble, when adorned with the form of a statue, is as precisely marble as it was before ; and the oak, when fashioned into the form of a ship, is as truly oak as when it flourished in the forest. If there be any contrariety in substance, it is that of form to privation, where privation nevertheless is nearly allied to nonentity.

Lastly; substance, they tell us, is something, which, though it have no contrary, yet is by nature susceptible of all contraries, itself still remaining one and the same."

We cannot forget that description, given by Virgil, of the Cumæan prophetess :

Subito non vultus, non color unus,
Non comptæ mansere comæ ; sed pectus anhelum,
Et rabie fera corda tument.

Æn. vi.
Δοκεί δε η ουσία μη επιδέχεσθαι το edit. Sylb.
Mâlov kal httov. Arist. Præd. p. 28. η Μάλιστα δε ίδιον της ουσίας δοκεί είναι
edit. Sylb. See Hermes, p. 175.

το ταυτόν και εν αριθμώ όν των εναντίων m Υπάρχει δε ταϊς ουσίαις και το μηδέν είναι δεκτικόν, Arist. Pred. p. 29. edit. aútais tvartlov elva.. Arist. Præd. p. 28. Sylb.

« PreviousContinue »