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if he knew what it should be capable of, he had the idea of what he knew; for before the creation there was nothing but God, and the ideas he had. It is true, the colour of that flower is not actually in God, no more is its figure actually in God; but we that can consider no other understanding, but in analogy to our own, cannot conceive otherwise but as the ideas of the figure, colour, and situation of the leaves of a marigold are in our minds, when we think of that flower in the night when we see it not; so it was in the thoughts of God before he made that flower. And thus we conceive him to have the idea of the smell of a violet, of the taste of sugar, the sound of a lute or trumpet, and of the pain and pleasure that accompany any of these or other. sensations which he designed we should feel, though he never felt any of them, as we have the ideas of the taste of a cherry in winter, or of the pain of a burn when it is over. This is what I think we conceive of the ideas of God, which we must allow to have distinctly repres sented to him all that was to be in time, and consequently the colours, odours, and other ideas they were to produce in us. I cannot be so bold as to pretend to say what those ideas are in God, or to determine that they are real beings; but this I think I may say, that the idea of the colour of a marigold, or the motion of a stone, are as much real beings in God, as the idea of the figure or number of its leaves. * 42. The reader must not blame me for making use here all along of the word " sentiment,” which is our author's own, and I understood it so little, that I knew not how to translate it to any other. He concludes, " that he believes there is no appearance of truth in 's any other ways of explaining these things, and that ss this of seeing all things in God, is more than pro. “bable.” I have considered with as much indifferency and attention as is possible; and I must own it appears to me as little or less intelligible than any of the rest; and the summary of his doctrine, which he here subjoins, is to me wholly incomprehensible. His words are, “ Thus our souls depend on God all manner of
ways: for as it is he which makes them feel pleasure « and pain, and all other sensations, by the natural " union which he has made between them and our bo65 dies, which is nothing else but his decree and gene« ral will: so it is he, who by the natural union which 6 he has made betwixt the will of man and the repreo sentation of ideas, which the immensity of the divine es being contains, makes them know all that they « know, and this natural union is also nothing but his «. general will." This phrase of the union of our wills to the ideas contained in God's immensity, seems to me a very strange one; and what light it gives to his doctrine I truly cannot find. It seemed so unintelligible to me, that I guessed it an errour in the print of the edition I used, which was the 4to printed at Paris, 78, and therefore consulted the 8vo, printed also at Paris, and found it “ will” in both of them. Here again the “ immensity of the divine being" is mentioned as that which contains in it the ideas to which our wills are united; which ideas being only those of quantity, as I shall show hereafter, seems to me to carry with it a very gross notion of this matter, as we have above remarked. But that which I take notice of prin. eipally here, is, that this union of our wills to the ideas contained in God's immensity does not at all explain our seeing of them. This union of our wills to the ideas, or, as in other places, of our souls to God, is, says he, nothing but the will of God. And, after this union, our seeing them is only when God discovers them,'i. e. our having them in our minds, is nothing but the will of God; all which is brought about in a way we comprehend not. And what then does this explain more than when one says, our souls are united to our bodies by the will of God, and by the motion of some parts of our bodies? V. g. the nerves or animal spirits have ideas or perceptions produced in them, and this is the will of God. Why is not this as intelligible and as clear as the other? Here is by the will of God given union and perception in both cases; but how that perception is made in both ways, seems to me equally incomprehensible. In one, God discovers ideas in himself to the soul united to him when he pleases;
and in the other, he discovers ideas to the soul, or produces perception in the soul united to the body by motion, according to laws established by the good pleasure of his will; but how it is done in the one or the other I confess my incapacity to comprehend. So that I agree perfectly with him in his conclusion, that “there « is nothing but God that can enlighten us:" but a clear comprehension of the manner how he does it, I. doubt I shall not have, till I know a great deal more of him and myself, than in this state of darkness and ignorance our souls are capable of.
43. In the next, chap. 7, he tells us, “ there are four " ways of knowing; the first is to know things by them. “ selves;" and thus, he says, “ we know God alone;" and the reason he gives of it is this, because “ at pre« sent he alone penetrates the mind, and discovers « himself to it.”
First, I would know what it is to penetrate a thing that is unextended? These are ways of speaking, which taken from body, when they are applied to spirit, signify nothing, nor show us any thing but our ignorance. To God's penetrating our spirits, he joins his discovering himself; as if one were the cause of the other, and explained it: but I not conceiving any thing of the penetration of an unextended thing, it is lost upon me. But, next God penetrates our souls, and therefore we “ see him by a direct and immediate “ view," as he says in the following words. The ideas of all things which are in God, he elsewhere tells us, are not at all different from God himself; and if God's penetrating our minds be the cause of our direct and immediate seeing God, we have a direct and immediate view of all that we see; for we see nothing but God and ideas; and it is impossible for us to know that there is any thing else in the universe; for since we see, and can see nothing but God and ideas, how can we know there is any thing else which we neither do nor can see? But if there be any thing to be understood by this penetration of our souls, and we have a direct view of God by this penetration, why have we not also a direct and immediate view of other separate spirits besides
God? To this he says, that there is none but God alone who at present penetrates our spiritse. This he says, but I do not see for what reason, but because it suits with his hypothesis: but he proves it not, nor goes about to do it, unless the direct and immediate view, he says, we have of God, be to be taken as a proof of it. But what is that direct and immediate view we have of God that we have not of a cherubim? The ideas of being, power, knowledge, goodness, duration, make up the complex idea we have of one and of the other ; but only that in the one we join the idea of in-, finite to each simple. idea, that makes our complex one; but to the other that of finite. But how have we a more direct or immediate view of the idea of power, knowledge, or duration, when we consider them in God, than when we consider them in an angel ? The view of these ideas seems to be the same. Indeed we have a clearer proof of the existence of God than of a cherubim; but the idea of either, when we have it in our minds, seems to me to be there by an equally direct and immediate.view. And it is about the ideas which are in our minds that I think our author's inquiry here is, and not about the real existence of those things whereof we have ideas, which are two very remote things.
44. Perhaps it is God alone, says our author, “ who
can enlighten our minds by his substance.” When I know what the substance of God is, and what it is to be enlightened by that substance, I shall know what I also shall think of it; but at present I confess myself in the dark as to this matter; nor do these good words. of substance and enlightening, in the way they are here used, help me one jot out of it.
45. He goes on, “one cannot conceive, says he, that « any thing created can represent what is infinite." And I cannot conceive that there is any positive comprehensive idea in any finite mind that does represent it fully and clearly as it is. I do not find that the mind of man has infinity positively and fully represented to it, or comprehended by it; which must be, if his argument were true, that therefore God enlightens our minds by his proper substance: because no created thing is big enough to represent what is infinite; and therefore what makes us conceive his infinity, is the presence of his own infinite substance in our minds : which to me manifestly supposes, that we comprehend in our minds God's infinite substance, which is present to our minds; for if this be not the force of his argument, where he says, “ nothing created can represent 66 what is infinite; the being that is without bounds, " the being immense, the being universal, cannot be 6 perceived by an idea, i. e. by a particular being, by “ a being different from the universal infinite being " itself.” It seems to me that this argument is founded on a supposition of our comprehending the infinite substance of God in our minds, or else I see not any force in it, as I have already said. I shall take notice of one or two things in it that confound me, and that is, that he calls God here the universal being; which must either signify that being which contains, and is made up as one comprehensive aggregate of all the rest, in which sense the universe may be called the universal being; or else it must mean being in general, which is nothing but the idea of being, abstracted from all inferiour divisions of that general notion, and from all particular existence. But in neither of these senses can I conceive God to be the universal being, since I cannot think the creatures either to be a part or a species of him. Next he calls the ideas that are in God particular beings. I grant whatever exists is particular, it cannot be otherwise; but that which is particular in existence, may be universal in representation, which I take to be all the universal beings we know, or can conceive to be. But let universal or particular beings be what they will, I do not see how our author can say, that God is an universal being, and the ideas we see in him particular beings; since he in another place tells us, that the ideas we see in God, are not at all different from God. But, says he, “as to particular beings it “ is not hard to conceive that they can be represented “ by the infinite being which contains them, and con“ tains them after a very spiritual manner, and conseVOL. IX.