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notwithstanding the darkness which surrounds them. Sophocles may be imagined to have had these truths in his eye, when speaking of the divine edicts, and the immutable decrees of heaven, he puts this fine sentiment in the mouth of Antigone,
Ου γαρ τι νυν γε καχθες, αλλ' αει ποτε
Zη ταυλα, κουδεις οιδεν εξ ότου φανη. And yet we have wits and philosophers of great name and recent date, who seem desirous of re. viving the old atomical physiology, which, "as Dr. Cudworth expresses it, “ makes all things to be « materially and mechanically necessary without a « God." These gentlemen are at least far from pronouncing matter incapable of the privilege of thought. One * in direct terms calls thought the agitation of the brain. Unhappily Mr. Locke so far subscribes to this principle, as to declare his opinion, that “we have not sufficient knowledge to “ determine, by the light of reason, that God “ could not grant the gift of thought and sensation “ to a being which we call material.” Mr. Voltaire eagerly catched at this notion of the “ sole reason« able metaphysician,” as he calls him. . : More's Antid. against Atheism. p. 10. CudWORTH's Intell. Syft. ch. 3. P. 176. Plato de Leg. 1. 10. Clarke's Dem. of the Being, &c. of God, p.22, 23, &c. Sophoc. Antig. A&t. 3. v. 462. Memoirs of VOLTAIRE, p. 61. See Johnson's note et cap. 4. of PUFFENDORF's de officio hom. et civ. See M. AnTONI. lib. 2-15.
* Hume's Dialogues, p. 60.
Page 19. (e) hundred mysteries as one.] I shall beg leave to confront the pride of infidels with the joint authorities of Mr. Boyle, and Lord Bacon ; the former of whom in his treatife, entitled Motives to the Love of God, thus expresses himself. “ If I be not very much mistaken, they are so, " who presume to give us fatisfactory definitions of “God's nature, which we may perhaps more fafely « define by the impossibility of its being accurately « defined. Nor will an affiduity and constancy of
our speculations herein relieve us: for too fixed a contemplation of God's essence does but the
more confound us." And then he refers us to the well-known story of Simonides. Agreably to these fentiments, the great Lord Bacon says, “If any
man shall think by view and enquiry into these “ sensible and material things, to attain that light “ whereby he may reveal unto himself the nature “ and will of God, then is he spoiled through vain
philosophy. And hence, continues he, it hath “ proceeded, that some of the chofen rank of the
more learned have fallen into herely, whilft they have fought to fly up to the secrets of the Deity, by the waxen wings of the senses.” And
again. “ The prerogative of God comprehends so the whole man, and is extended as well to " the reason, as to the will of man ; i. e. that
man renounce himself wholly, and draw near * unto God; wherefore as we are to obey his law,
" though we find a reluctation in our will, so “ we are to believe his word, though we find a re“ luctation in our reason; for if we believe only " that which is agreeable to our reason, we give “ affent to the matter, not to the author, &c. By o how much therefore any divine mystery is more « discordant and incredible, by so much the more “ honour is given to God in believing, &c. &c.” How do thefe fentiments differ from those of the “ philofophic Christians” of this enlightened age !
Motives, &c. p. 63, 64. Bacon on the Advancement of Learning, translated by Watts, B. 1. p. 8.
9. P. 468.
Page 21. (f) ventilation of these subjects.] It is ridiculous, it is useless, it is endless to start metaphysical questions, which inftead of clearing matters, serve only to confound them. It has been asked, whether the Deity be naturally or morally good ; or whether he is “ necessarily good and
just in the same sense as he is eternal and omnil“ cient ?" All speculations on such points as these are covered by the general idea of absolute inherent perfection. Perhaps Seneca may be allowed to discharge this difficulty not unhappily, when, speaking of the Deity, he says, Ipfe est necessitas fua. The ingenious editor of Puffendorf's treatise De officio hominis et civis speaks much the same language in the following note : Deus intelligitur 'ad Juarum perfe&tionüm normam actiones componere. Ipse
fibi lex est. Ens natura perfectissimum cum Deus fit, ideo quodcunque agit vel eligit, non poteft non effe optimum. Itaque nugas agunt, vel quiddam pejus, qui Deum, ens primum et fummum, virtutis et obligationis capacem effe docent. * But these last words seem rather obscure.
To avoid making God the author of evil, the doctrine of Zoroastres was, that “God originally " and directly created only light, or good; and that « darkness, or evil, followed it by consequence, " as the shadow doth the person ; that light, or
good, hath only a real production from God, " and the other afterward resulted from it, as the “ defect thereof." An ingenious writer gives us the sentiments of Plato on this perplexing subject, in the following transation. “God is good. “ He is not, as many fay, the cause of every thing. “ The good things we enjoy are to be solely ascribed “ to him, but we are to search for another caufe " than God for our evils. Or, if we will say
they come from God,+ fome such reason as this is or to be afligned. We may say, God does always “ what is just and good, and the persons punished “ receive benefit by it ; but the poet must not say " the sufferers are miserable, and God inflicts that
* See Johnson's Note at Sect. 4. Book 1.
+ Plato quotes here the famous paffage in Homer, where mention is made of Jupiter's two Vessels, the one containing good, and the other evil, &c. See Plato de Repub. b. 2. and Pope's Note at v. 527. of 24th. Book of the Iliad.
misery on them ; if indeed he say, the wicked,
as miserable, stand in need of punishment, and “ when punished by God, receive benefit from it, " this may be permitted; but we are strenuously “to oppose any man, who says God is the author “ of evil to a good man. Such language is at “ no rate to be tolerated in a state.” The judicious reader will see how little a way this theory goes towards clearing the difficulty ; but he will, I prefume, acknowlege it goes far enough to convince us, that Plato had, “ to speak modestly, as precise “ ideas of the Divine nature as any modern philo
sopher,” according to the translator's expression. But in his Timæus, this famous philosopher imputės the origin of evil to the “ necessity of imperfect
beings," as Dr. Cudworth expresses it. “Where“ fore, says he, though, according to Plato, God be
properly and directly the cause of nothing else but
good, yet the necessity of these lower imperfeet things “ does unavoidably give birth and being to evils.” This is conformable enough to modern notions. Aristotle seems to have thought the Deity to have been the cause or principle of all things without exception ; tho' in the following sentence he expreffes himfelf in terms general, modest, and unpereoptory 3-θεος δοκει το αιπον πασιν ειναι και αρχη τις.
It is further observable, that not only many heathens, and among others, Platonists, but, what is more extraordinary, Christians also have asserted