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in understanding how the "divine ideas are God's essence."

2. I am complained of for not having “given an account of, or defined the nature of our ideas" (3). By "giving an account of the nature of ideas," is not meant, that I should make known to men their ideas; for I think nobody can imagine that any articulate sounds of mine, or any body else, can make known to another what his ideas, that is, what his perceptions are, better than what he himself knows and perceives them to be; which is enough for affirmations, or negations, about them. By the "nature of ideas," therefore, is meant here their causes and manner of production in the mind, i. e. in what alteration of the mind this perception consists; and as to that, I answer, no man can tell; for which I not only appeal to experience, which were enough, but shall add this reason, viz. because no man can give any account of any alteration made in any simple substance whatsoever; all the alteration we can conceive, being only of the alteration of compounded substances; and that only by a transposition of parts. Our ideas, say these men, are the "divine ideas, or the omniform essence of God," which the mind sometimes sees, and sometimes not. Now I ask these men, what alteration is made in the mind upon seeing? for there lies the difficulty, which occasions the inquiry.

For what difference a man finds in himself, when he sees a marygold, and sees not a marygold, has no diffi culty, and needs not be inquired after he has the idea now, which he had not before. The difficulty is, what alteration is made in his mind; what changes that has in itself, when it sees what it did not see before, either the divine idea in the understanding of God, or, as the ignorant think, the marygold in the garden. Either supposition, as to this matter, is all one; for they are both things extrinsical to the mind, till it has that perception; and when it has it, I desire them to explain to me, what the alteration in the mind is, besides saying,

(3) Cursory Reflections, &c. page 3.

as we vulgar do, it is having a perception, which it had not the moment before; which is only the difference between perceiving and not perceiving; a difference in matter of fact agreed on all hands; which, wherein it consists, is, for aught I see, unknown to one side as well as the other; only the one have the ingenuity to confess their ignorance; and the other pretend to be knowing.

3. P. Malebranche says, "God does all things by the simplest and shortest ways," . e. as it is interpreted in Mr. Norris's Reason and Religion, "God never does any thing in vain" (4). This will easily be granted them; but how will they reconcile to this principle of theirs, on which their whole system is built, the curious structure of the eye and ear; not to mention the other parts of the body? For if the perception of colours and sounds depended on nothing but the presence of the object affording an occasional cause to God Almighty to exhibit to the mind the idea of figures, colours, and sounds; all that nice and curious structure of those organs is wholly in vain: since the sun by day, and the stars by night, and the visible objects that surround us, and the beating of a drum, the talk of people, and the change made in the air by thunder; are as much present to a blind and deaf man, as to those who have their eyes and ears in the greatest perfection. He that understands optics ever so little, must needs admire the wonderful make of the eye, not only for the variety and neatness of the parts; but as suited to the nature of refraction, so as to paint the image of the object in the retina; which these men must confess to be all lost labour, if it contributes nothing at all, in the ordinary way of causes and effects, to the producing that idea in the mind. But that only the presence of the object gave occasion to God to show to the mind that idea in

(4) Reason and Religion; or, the Grounds and Measures of Devotion, considered from the Nature of God, and the Nature of Man. In several Contemplations. With Exercises of Devotion applied to every Contemplation. By John Norris, M. A. and Fellow of All-souls' College in Oxford, Part II. Contemplation II.

17. p. 195. Lond. 1689, in 8vo.

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himself, which certainly is as present to one that has a gutta serena, as to the quicksightedest man living. But we do not know how, by any natural operation, this can produce an idea in the mind; and therefore (a good conclusion!) God, the author of nature, cannot this way produce it. As if it were impossible for the Almighty to produce any thing, but by ways we must conceive, and are able to comprehend; when he that is best satisfied of his omniscient understanding, and knows so well how God perceives, and man thinks, cannot explain the cohesion of parts in the lowest degree of created beings, unorganised bodies.

4. The perception of universals also proves that all beings are present to our minds; and that can only be by the presence of God, because all "created things are individuals" (5). Are not all things that exist individuals? If so, then say not, all created, but all existing things are individuals; and if so, then the having any general idea proves not that we have all objects present to our minds. But this is for want of considering wherein universality consists; which is only in representation, abstracting from particulars. An idea of à circle, of an inch diameter, will represent, where, or whensoever existing, all the circles of an inch diameter; and that by abstracting from time and place. And it will also represent all circles of any bigness, by abstracting also from that particular bigness, and by retaining only the relation of equidistance of the circumference from the centre, in all the parts of it.

5. We have a " distinct idea of God" (6), whereby we clearly enough distinguish him from the creatures; but I fear it would be presumption for us to say, we have a clear idea of him, as he is in himself.

6. The argument, that "we have the idea of infinite, before the idea of finite, because we conceive infinite being, barely by conceiving being, without considering, whether it be finite or infinite" (7); I shall

(5) Reason and Religion, &c. Part II. Contemp. II. § 19. p. 197. (6) Ibid. § 20. p. 198. (7) Ibid. § 21. p. 198.

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

(11) Reason and Religion, Part I. Contempl. V. § 19, p. 82. (12) Ibid. § 20. (13) Ibid. § 21, p. 83.

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