صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

leave to be considered, whether it is not a mistake, of priority of nature, for priority of conception.

7. “God made all things for himself” (8); therefore we “ see all things in him.” This is called demonstration. As if all things were as well made for God, and mankind had not as much reason to magnify him, if their perception of things were any other way than such an one of seeing them in him; as shows not God more than the other, and wherein not one of a million takes more notice of him, than those who think they perceive things, where they are, by their senses.

8. If God should create a mind, and give it the sun, suppose, for its idea, “or immediate object of knowledge, God would then make that mind for the sun, and not for himself” (9). This supposes, that those that see things in God, see at the same time God also, and thereby show that their minds are made for God, having him for the “immediate object of their knowledge." But for this I must appeal to common experience, whether every one, as often as he sees any thing else, sees and perceives God in the case; or whether it be not true of men, who see other things every moment, that God is not in all their thoughts ? Yet, says he, “ when the mind sees his works, it sees him in some manner" (10). This some manner, is no manner at all to the purpose of being made only for God, for his idea, or for his immediate object of knowledge. A man bred up in the obscurity of a dungeon, where, by a dim and almost no light, he perceives the objects about him ; it is true, he owes this idea to the light of the sun ; but having never heard, nor thought of the sun, can one say that the idea of the sun is “ his immediate object of knowledge,” or that therefore “ his mind was made for the sun ?” This is the case of a great part of mankind; and how many can we imagine of those, who have got some notion of God, either from tradition or reason ; have an idea of him present in their minds as often as they think of any thing else?

(8) Reason and Religion, Part II. Contemp. II. $ 22, p. 199.

(9) Ibid. $ 22, p. 199. (10) Ibid. $ 23, p. 200.

9. But if our being made for God necessarily demonstrates that we should “see all things in him ;" this, at last, will demonstrate, that we are not half made for him, since it is confessed by our author, that we see no other ideas in God, but those of number, extension, and essences; which are not half the ideas that take up men's minds.

10. “ The simple essences of things are nothing else but the divine essence itself considered with his connotation, as variously representative, or exhibitive of things, and as variously imitable or participable by them” (11); and this he tells us are ideas (12). The meaning, I take it, of all this, put into plain intelligible words, is this ; God has always a power to produce any thing that involves not a contradiction. He also knows what we can do. But what is all this to ideas in him, as real beings visible by us? God knew, from eternity, he could produce a pebble, a mushroom, and a man. Were these, which are distinct ideas, part of his simple essence? It seems then we know very well the essence of God, and use the word simple, which comprehends all sorts of variety, in a very proper way. But God knew he could produce such creatures; therefore, where shall we place those ideas he saw of them, but in his own essence ? There these ideas existed “ eminenter;" and so they are the essence of God. There are things themselves existed too “ eminenter," and therefore all the creatures, as they really exist, are the essence of God. For if finite real beings of one kind, as ideas are said to be, are the essence of the infinite God; other finite beings, as the creatures, may be also the essence of God. But after this rate we must talk, when we will allow ourselves to be ignorant of nothing; but will know even the knowledge of God, and the way of his understanding!

11. The "essences of things, or ideas existing in God(13). There are many of them that exist in God; and so the simple essence of God has actually existing in it as great a variety of ideas as there are of creatures ; all of them real beings, and distinct one from another. If it be said, this means, God can, and knows he can produce them ; what doth this say more than every one says ? If it doth say more, and shows us not this infinite number of real distinct beings in God, so as to be his very essence ; what is this better than what those say, who make God to be nothing but the universe; though it be covered under unintelligible expressions of simplicity and variety, at the same time, in the essence of God? But those who would not be thought ignorant of any thing to attain it, make God like themselves; or else they could not talk as they do, of “ the mind of God, and the ideas in the mind of God, exhibitive of all the whole possibility of being" (14).

(u) Reason and Religion, Part I. Contempl. V. $19, p. 82.

(12) Ibid. $ 20. (13) Ibid. $ 21, p. 83.

12. It is " in the divine nature that these universal natures, which are the proper object of science, are to be found. And consequently it is in God that we know all the truth which we know(15). Doth any universal nature therefore exist? Or can any thing that exists any where or any how, be any other than singular? I think it cannot be denied that God, having a power to produce ideas in us, can give that power to another; or, to express it otherwise, make any idea the effect of any operation on our bodies. This has no contradiction in it, and therefore is possible. But you

will

say, you conceive not the way how this is done. If you stand to that rule, that it cannot be done, because you conceive not the manner how it is brought to pass ; you must deny that God can do this, because you cannot conceive the manner how he produces any idea in us. If visible objects are seen only by God's exhibiting their ideas to our minds, on occasion of the presence of these objects, what hinders the Almighty from exhibiting their ideas to a blind man, to whom, being set before his face, and as year his eyes, and in as good a light as to one not blind, they are, according to this

(14) Reason and Religion, Part I. Contempl. V. $30, p. 92, 93. (15) Ibid. Part II. Contempl. II. § 30, p. 206.

supposition, as much the occasional cause to one as the other ? But yet under this equality of occasional causes, one has the idea, and the other not; and this constantly; which would give one reason to suspect something more than a presential occasional cause in the object.

13. Farther, if light striking upon the eyes be but the occasional cause of seeing; God, in making the eyes of so curious a structure, operates not by the simplest ways; for God could have produced visible ideas upon the occasion of light upon the eye-lids or forehead.

14. Outward objects are not, when present, always occasional causes. He that has long continued in a room perfumed with sweet odours, ceases to smell, though the room be filled with those flowers; though, as often as after a little absence he returns again, he smells them afresh. He that comes out of bright sunshine into a room where the curtains are drawn, at first sees nothing in the room ; though those who have been there some time, see him and every thing plainly. It is hard to account for either of these phenomena, by God's producing these ideas upon the account of occasional causes. But by the production of ideas in the mind, by the operation of the object on the organs of sense, this difference is easy to be explained.

15. Whether the ideas of light and colours come in by the eyes, or no; it is all one as if they did ; for those who have no eyes never have them. And whether or no, God has appointed that a certain modified motion of the fibres, or spirits in the optic nerve, should excite, or produce, or cause them in us; call it what you please : it is all one as if it did; since where there is no such motion, there is no such perception or idea. For I hope they will not deny God the privilege to give such a power to motion, if he pleases. Yes, say they, they be the occasional, but not the efficient cause ; for that they cannot be, because that is in effect to say, he has given this motion in the optic nerve a power to operate on himself, but cannot give it a power to operate on the mind of man; it may by this appointment operate on himself, the impassible infinite spirit, and put him in mind when he is to operate on the mind. of man, and exhibit to it the idea which is in himself of any colour. The infinite eternal God is certainly the cause of all things, the fountain of all being and power. But, because all being was from him, can there be nothing but God himself? or, because all power was originally in him, can there be nothing of it communicated to his creatures ? This is to set very narrow bounds to the power of God, and, by pretending to extend it takes it away. For which (I beseech you, as we can comprehend) is the perfectest power; to make a machine, a watch, for example, that when the watchmaker has withdrawn his hands, shall go and strike by the fit contrivance of the parts; or else requires that whenever the hand, by pointing to the hours, minds him of it, he should strike twelve upon the bell ? No machine of God's making can go of itself. Why? because the creatures have no power ; can neither move themselves, nor any thing else. How then comes about all that we see? Do they do nothing ? Yes, they are the occasional causes to God, why he should produce certain thoughts and motions in them. The creatures cannot produce any idea, any thought in man.

How then comes he to perceive or think? God upon the occasion of some motion in the optic nerve, exhibits the colour of a marygold or a rose to his mind. How came that motion in his optic nerve ? On occasion of the motion of some particles of light striking on the retina, God producing it, and so on. And so whatever a man thinks, God produces the thought ; let it be infidelity, murmuring, or blasphemy. The mind doth nothing; his mind is only the mirror that receives the ideas that God exhibits to it, and just as God exhibits them; the man is altogether passive in the whole business of thinking.

16. A man cannot move his arm or his tongue; he has no power; only upon occasion, the man willing it, God moves it. The man wills, he doth something; or else God, upon the occasion of something, which he himself did before, produced this will, and this action in him. This is the hypothesis that clears doubts, and brings us at last to the religion of Hobbes and Spinosa,

« السابقةمتابعة »