« AnteriorContinua »
cause of all things, and teach that the celestial virtue, by them called Li, when joined to corporeal substance, doth fashion, distinguish, and specificate all natural beings. This Li of the Chinese seems to answer the forms of the Peripatetics; and both bear analogy to the foregoing philosophy of fire. The worship of Vesta at Rome, was in truth the worship of fire.
“ Nec tu aliud Vestam, quam vivam intellige flammam," saith Ovid in his Fasti. And as in old Rome the eternal fire was religiously kept by virgins, so in Greece, particularly at Delphi and Athens, it was kept by widows. It is well known that Vulcan, or Fire, was worshipped with great distinction by the Egyptians. The Sabeans are also known to have been worshippers of tire. It appears, too, from the Chaldean Oracles, that fire was regarded as divine by the sages of that nation; and it is supposed that Ur of the Chaldeans was so called from the Hebrew word signifying fire, because fire was publicly worshipped in that city. It doth not seem that the prostrations of the Persians before the perpetual fires, preserved with great care in their pyreia, or fire temples, were merely a civil respect, as Dr. Hyde would have it thought. Although he brings good proof that they do not invoke the fire on their altars, or pray to it, or call it God; and that they acknowledge a supreme invisible Deity: civil respects are paid to things as related to civil power; but such relation doth not appear in the present case. It should seem, therefore, that they worship God as present in the fire, which they worship or reverence, not ultimately, or for itself, but relatively to the Supreme Being. It must be owned, that there are many passages in the holy Scripture that would make one think the Supreme Being was in a peculiar manner present and manifest in the element of fire. Not to insist, that God is more than once said to be a consuming fire, which might be understood in a metaphorical sense, the divine apparitions were by fire, in the bush, at Mount Sinai, on the tabernacle, in the cloven tongues. God is represented in the inspired writers, as descending in fire, as attended by fire, or with fire going before him. Celestial beings, as angels, chariots, and such like phenomena, are invested with fire, light and splendor.'
It is hoped that these extracts from a truly philosophical work of Berkeley will not appear tedious or misplaced. He wrote before Franklin had exhibited the wonders of modern electricity, and before that method of calling into action elemental fire, had been discovered,
now, the shepherds kindle bonfires on midsummer eve, a custom which, Toland, who lived about the beginning of the last century, says was very prevalent in that part of Ireland the most contiguous to Scotland—a relic of the worship of the sun cultivated by the Druids.
which now bears the name of Galvavi; yet we find him describing, in the most animated language, the wonderful effects of elemental fire, and with the liberality of a philosopher, removing from those who paid divine honors to this element, the imputations of dolatry. It has been fashionable amongst those who have not taken the trouble to ascertain Berkeley's meaning, to ridicule him, as contending for the noil-existence of matter; but he in truth never maintained any such doctrine. That matter has no permaneut existence, is a truth of philosophy; but that the learned bishop denied the existence of sensible objects, is altogether false ; and it excites surprise, how men, pretending to information and powers of discrimination, could have formed any such supposition; for he guards against it in many parts of his writings, as apprehensive that some might inadvertently fall into such a mistake.
But why, it will be asked, take such pains to inculcate what the learned know, and the public, generally speaking, hath no inclination to learn ? The excellence of ancient philosophy has at all times been contended for by some; but it is no longer fashionable, and our youth turn their time to better account, than were they to consume it in the study of that which is no longer prized. It is answered, that these essays are not written for the learned; but in the hope that those who have proceeded so far in their studies, may be induced to prosecute them with the view of becoming better acquainted with the philosophy of antiquity, the writer has adopted a more popular manner than the excellence of the subject might appear to demand. This philosophy has been prized and honored by the greatest monarchs : the time bas been when its professors were reverenced by the people, while they beld offices of the first distinction in the state ; and although, as learning falls into decay, the object of learning recedes from our view, yet truth is eternal, and will ultimately prevail over error. From time to time mankind have lost sight of true science; but the darkest ages have been succeeded by others more enlightened, and the restoration of science has ever been effected by a recurrence to the wisdom of former ages. Whenever men shall be convinced, that to wander in an endless labyrinth of experiments concerning the infinitely varied powers of nature, and combinations of material forms, is not the means of acquiring true science; and the period, it is probable, is not far distant, when we shall enter upon the study of truth as a new pursuit, and we trust with all the alacrity inspired by novelty, superadded to motives of a higher order. In a former essay (No. II.) it was observed, that’Apety, Virtus,was frequently used as a synonyme of Philosophia: it was thus used by Aristotle in an ode there quoted, and it is thus used by Isocrates, who, after informing Demonicus that beanty inay fade before disease, and must be destroyed by time : that riches more frequently minister to vice than virtue ; and that bodily
strength, unless under the governance of sound discretion, must prove inju sous to its possessor, adds, that the acquirement of virtue is alone stable, accompanying the possessor even in old age; more excellent than riches, and more estimable than woble birth, rendering that practicable which to others appear impossible, and boldly meeting what to the multitude appear objects of terror, and accounting sloth disgrace, and labor praise. 'H dè tñs 'Apetñs xT70IS, οίς αν ακιβδήλως εν ταϊς διανοίαις συναυξήθη. μόνη μεν συγγηράσκει: • πλούτου δε κρείττων, χρησιμώτερα δε ευγενείας έστι, τα μεν τοις άλλοις αδύνατα δυνατά καθιστώσα, τα δε τώ πλήθει φοβερα θαρσαλέως υπομένουσα και τον μεν όκνον ψόγον, τον δε πόνον έπαινον ηγουμένη. Such are the fruits of philosopby, and so powerful the inducements to its study and cultivation, ihroughout our lives
The first essay published under this title, had for its object to point out the injustice done to Aristotle by the writer of an introductory essay to a supplement of an Encyclopædia published in Edinburgh, who appeared to have been misled by a faulty Latin translator, and had not taken the trouble to consult the original ; and generally to show that modern philosophy does not deserve the estimation in which it is held, and that those, who pretended to guide the pursuits of mankind in quest of knowledge, were themselves ignorant of the philosophy they pretended to despise.
In the second, the character of Lord Bacon, and his claims to the title of a philosopher, were more particularly considered ; and reasons were assigned why he could not possibly be acquainted with the philosophy which he pronounced unprofitable, and why, upon an impartial retrospect, he appears to have been, from want of information, altogether unqualified to afford real assistance to mankind in the pursuit of true knowledge.
The third contained strictures upon the writings of some of Bacon's admirers, who have had no small share in bringing about that disregard of true philosophy which characterises our times, and threatens the return of ages of ignorance, like those that succeeded the fall of the Roman empire. In particular, the attempt of Mr. Dugald Stewart, to show that the induction of Bacon was unknown to Aristotle and the ancients, was fully considered ; and proofs adduced, that the induction of Bacon and his followers has been in use from the earliest times, and is in fact the basis of the demonstrative syllogism. It was shown, that the word metaphysics is misunderstood by writers of our times, who pretend that it was casually given to certain writings of Aristotle composed after his Physics ; whereas in truth it refers to what is eternal and unchangeable, and is beyond the coguisance of our senses.
It seems to have escaped the notice of those writers, that the preposition Letà, signifies beyond as well as after.
In this fourth essay, the object of the writer has been to show, that philosophical investigations terminate in the contemplation of the Deity; that philosophy is in fact watural rel grol, and must ever accord with true religion, whether natural or revealed. The indiscreet zeal of some Christians has led then to misrepresent the doctrines of pilosophy, to asseri that it is founded in error, and can lead to no useful conclusions; but the mosi enli btened Christians of all ages have held very different sentiments; and of this several proofs have been given, and inany more might be adduced. An intelligent writer of the seventeenih ceviury published a small work intitled
Theologiæ Philosophia Ancillans ;" :od the object of the author was to show, that philosophy naturally leads to the study and contemplation of Deity; and be takes pains to show, that what the phiJosopher by reasoning knows to be true, he may also receive as an article of Christian faith. Fiis words are: “ Philosophus aliquis sciens per demonstrationem unum Deum esse, omnium rerum principium et causam, potest ejusdem propositionis accipere fidem, manenie priore cognitione : si videlicet e Pagano fiat Christianus : is ergo simul babebit fidem et scientiam, ejusque fides pro objecto habebit ; res evidenter scilas seu visas.” This author, professor of moral philosophy in the university of St. Andrews, in the time of king James the First, appears to have entertained opinions concerning theology and philosophy at once just and liberal ; and had all Christian writers entertained sentiments like his, we should not at this time bave witnessed a neglect and consequent decay of learning and true philosophy, which threatens the return of ages of darkness and deplorable ignorance. Religious animosities have, at several times, deeply injured the cause of learning; and even of late the labors of the truly-learned Jesuits have been undervalued, and too often interdicted, by those of the reformed religion. The buffoonery of Butler was directed against literature and philosophy, because Milton, and certain others, adherents of Cromwell and ihe commonwealth, were scholars and philosophers; and the profligacy and ignorance of the court of the restored monarch, to which this buffoonery was highly acceptable, contributed to make it fashionable throughout the kingdom to admire it. During the last two hundred years, many causes have co-operated to lead away the mind from the pursuit of true knou ledge, and the recurrence to just priociples and proper educatiou of youth, will no doubt be attended with difficulty, as long as learning and science are not held to be necessary to what is called success in life, and the patronage of government, without much regard to merit, is bestowed according to political influence. The honorary rewards bestowed in our universities, have no doubt great influence on the minds of some, who, like Tweddell, are nobly ambitious of literary acquirements and literary fame; but farther
inducements are yet wanting to the more effectual prosecution of the siudy of the language and philosophy of Greece. That this study mohly rewards its cultivators is true, but the difficulties at first to be encountered deter many from entering upon it, and some progress, even considerable progress, must be made before its excellence is discerned. Our youth should have a competent acquaintance with the Greek language before they euter the university, and the course of study ought to be much longer than at present.It is the language of science, and without a familiar acquaintance with it, we can never comprehend the philosophy, the study of which it is the object of these essays to recommend. By this philosophy, the object of which is the attainment of truth, we arrive at general principles, to which particulars are to be referred; but the investigation of particulars is necessarily infinite ; and it is only by accident that experiments appear to be now leading us back to the principles which have stood the test of ages, and of which we never ought to have lost sight. In order to acquire a just claim to the character of a learned man, long and laborious study is requisite; but the grandeur of the object, and inestimable value of the acquisition, ought to animate our efforts ; for here the words of Plato are truly applicable :
'Αλλα τούτων δή ένεκα χρή ων διεληλύθαμεν -πάντα ποιείν, ώστε 'Αρετής και φρονήσεως εν τω βίω μετασχεϊν καλόν γαρ το Αθλον, και η ελπίς μεγάλη.
We have made arrangements for collecting an account of All manuscripts on the foregoing departments of Literature, which at present exist in the various PubLIC LIBRARIES in GREAT BRITAIN.
We shall continue them till finished, when an Index will be given of the whole. We shall then collect an account of the Manuscripts in the Royal and IMPERIAL LIBRARIES on the Continent.