« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
“ ral union of our minds with the universal and infinite " reason, we should not have the liberty to think on “ all things,” as he expresses it, p. 538. To explain himself farther concerning this universal reason, or, as he there calls it by another name, order, p. 539, he says, that “God contains in himself the perfections of all « the creatures that he has created, or can create, after “ an intelligible manner.” Intelligible to himself, it is true; but intelligible to men, at least to me, that I do not find, unless, “ by containing in himself the per« fections of all the creatures,” be meant, that there is no perfection in any creature, but there is a greater in God, or that there is in God greater perfection than all the perfections of the creatures taken together. And therefore though it be true what follows in the next words, “ that it is by these intelligible perfections that “ God knows the essence of every thing ;' yet it will not follow from hence, or from any thing else that he has said, that those perfections in God, which contain in them the perfections of all the creatures, are “ the “ immediate objects of the mind of man;" or that “ they are so the objects of the mind of man,” that he can in them see the essences of the creatures. For I ask in which of the perfections of God does a man see the essence of an horse or an ass, of a serpent or a dove, of hemlock or parsley? I for my part, I confess, see not the essence of any of these things in any of the perfections of God, which I have any notion of. For indeed I see not the distinct essence either of these things at all, or know wherein it consists. And therefore I cannot comprehend the force of the inference, which follows in these words, “ then the intelligible “ ideas or perfections that are in God, which represent 6 to us what is out of God, are absolutely necessary « and unchangeable." That the perfections that are in God are necessary and unchangeable, I readily grant: but that the ideas that are intelligible to God, or are in the understanding of God (for so we must speak of him whilst we conceive of him after the manner of men) can be seen by us; or, that the perfections that are in God represent to us the essences of things that are out
of God, that I cannot conceive. The essence of matter, as much as I can see of it, is extension, solidity, divisibility, and mobility ; but in which of the perfections of God do I see this essence? To another man, as to our author perhaps, the essence of body is quite another thing; and when he has told us what to him is the essence of body, it will be then to be considered in which of the perfections of God he sees it. For example, let it be pure extension alone, the idea then that God had in himself of the essence of body, before body was created, was the idea of pure extension; when God then created body he created extension, and then space, which existed not before, began to exist. This, I confess, I cannot conceive; but we see in the perfections of God the necessary and unchangeable essences of things. He sees one' essence of body in God, and I another : which is that necessary and unchangeable essence of body which is contained in the perfections of God, his or mine? Or indeed how do or can we know there is any such thing existing as body at all? For we see nothing but the ideas that are in God; but body itself we neither do nor can possibly see at all, and how then can we know that there is any such thing existing as body, since we can by no means see or perceive it by our senses, which is all the way we can have of knowing any corporeal thing to exist ? but it is said, God shows us the ideas in himself, on occasion of the presence of those bodies to our senses. This is gratis dictum, and begs the thing in question; and therefore I desire to have it proved to me that they are present. I see the sun, or an horse; no, says our author, that is impossible, they cannot be seen, because being bodies they cannot be united to my mind, and be present to it. But the sun being risen, and the horse brought within convenient distance, and so being present to my eyes, God shows me their ideas in himself: and I say God shows me these ideas when he pleases, without the presence of any such bodies to my eyes. For when I think I see a star at such a distance from me, which truly I do not see, but the idea of it which God shows me; I would haye it proved to me that there is such a star existing a
million of million of miles from me when I think I see it, more than when I dream of such a star. For until it be proved that there is a candle in the room by which I write this, the supposition of my seeing in God the pyramidical idea of its flame, upon occasion of the candle's being there, is begging what is in question. And to prove to me that God exhibits to me that idea, upon occasion of the presence of the candle, it must first be proved to me that there is a candle there, which upon these principles can never be done.
Farther, We see the « necessary and unchangeable “ essences of things" in the perfections of God. Water, a rose, and a lion, have their distinct essences one from another, and all other things; what I desire to know, are these distinct essences, I confess I neither see them in nor out of God, and in which of the perfections of God do we see each of them?
Page 504, I and these words, " It is evident that the a perfections that are in God which represent created 6 or possible beings, are not at all equal; that those « for example that represent bodies, are not so noble « as those for example that represent spirits; and « amongst those themselves which represent nothing but « body, or nothing but spirit, there are more perfect “ one than another to infinity.. This is conceivable “ clearly, and without pain, though one finds some 6. difficulty to reconcile the simplicity of the divine “ Being with this variety of intelligible ideas which he “ contains in his wisdom.” This difficulty is to me insurmountable; and I conclude it always shall be so, till I can find a way to make simplicity and variety the same. And this difficulty must always cumber this doctrine, which supposes that the perfections of God are the representatives to us of whatever we perceive of the creatures; for then those perfections must be many, and diverse, and distinct one from another, as those
ideas are that represent the different creatures to us. · And this seems to me to make God formally to contain
in him all the distinct ideas of all the creatures, and that so, that they might be seen one after another. Which seems to me after all the talk of abstraction to be but a little less gross conception than of the sketches of all the pictures that ever a painter draws, kept by him in his closet, which are there all to be seen one after another, as he pleases to show them. But whilst these abstract thoughts produce nothing better than this, I the easier content myself with my ignorance which roundly thinks thus: God is a simple being, omniscient, that knows all things possible; and omni. potent, that can do or make all things possible. But how he knows, or how he makes, I do not conceive : his ways of knowing as well as his ways of creating, are to me incomprehensible; and if they were not so, I should not think him to be God, or to be perfecter in knowledge than I am. To which our author's thoughts seem in the close of what is above cited somewhat to incline, when he says, “the variety of intelligible ideas, “ which God contains in his wisdom;" whereby he seems to place this variety of ideas in the mind or thoughts of God, as we may so say, whereby it is hard to conceive how we can see them; and not in the being of God, where they are to be seen as so many distinct things in it.
To discourse of miracles, without defining what one means by the word miracle, is to make a show, but in effect to talk of nothing. . A miracle then I take to be a sensible operation, which, being above the comprehension of the spectator, and in his opinion contrary to the established course of nature, is taken by him to be divine.
He that is present at the fact, is a spectator: he that believes the history of the fact, puts himself in the place of a spectator.
This definition, it is probable, will not escape these two exceptions :
1. That hereby what is a miracle is made very uncertain ; for it depending on the opinion of the spectator, that will be a miracle to one which will not be so to another.
In answer to which, it is enough to say, that this objection is of no force, but in the mouth of one who can produce a definition of a miracle not liable to the same exception, which I think not easy to do; for it being agreed, that a miracle must be that which surpasses the force of nature in the established, steady laws of causes and effects, nothing can be taken to be a miracle but what is judged to exceed those laws. Now every one being able to judge of those laws only by his own acquaintance with nature, and notions of its force