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putes and altercations, which helped as much to the find- CHAP. ing out of truth, as the fighting of two cocks on a dung- II. bill doth to the finding out the jewel that lies there. For which, scraping and searching into the natures of things had been far more proper than contentions and wranglings with each other; but by means of this litigious humour, philosophy, from being a design, grew to be a mere art; and he was accounted the best philosopher, not that searched further into the bowels of nature, but that dressed and tricked up the notions he had in the best posture of defence against all who came to oppose him. From hence those opinions were most plausible, not which were most true, but which were most defensible, and which, like Des Cartes's second Element, had all the angles cut off, on which their adversaries might have an advantage of justling upon them; and then their opinions were accounted most pure, when they were so spherical as to pass up and down without interruption. From such a degeneracy of philosophy as this we have now mentioned, arose the opinion of the eternity of the world; for the certain tradition of the world being now lost in a crowd of philosophers, whose main aim was to set up for themselves, and not to trade with the common bank, so that there could be no certain and convictive evidence given to a shuming philosopher that things were ever otherwise than they are ; they found it most defensible to assert that the world never had a beginning, nor would have an end, but always did, and would continue in the state they were in. This opinion, though Aristotle seems to make all before him to be of another mind, yet was hatched, as far as we can find, at first under Pythagoras's successors, by Ocellus Lucanus, as appears by his book still extant, negi tñs ToŰ wartos púrews, of the nature of the universe; to whom Aristotle hath not been a little beholden, as Ludov. Nogarola hath in part manifested in his notes on Ocellus; although Aristotle had not the ingenuity of Pliny, agnoscere per quos profecerit. From Aristotle this opinion, together with his name, spread itself much farther, and became the opinion most in vogue among the Heathen philosophers, especially after the rise of Christianity; for then not only the Peripatetics, but the modern Platonists, Plotinus, Apuleius, Taurus, lamblichus, Alcinous, Proclus, and others, were all engaged in the defence of the eternity of the world, thinking thereby the better to overthrow Christianity. Hence came the hot and eager contests between Proclus, Simplicius, and



BOOK Philoponus; who undertook to answer Proclus's eighteen

arguments for the eternity of the world, and to charge Aristotle with self-contradiction in reference to it. But nothing were they more troubled about, than to reconcile the T'imæus of Plato with the eternity of the world, which they made to be a mere hypothesis, and a kind of diagram to salve Providence withal; although the plain words of Plato, not only there, but elsewhere, do express, as far as

we can judge by his way of writing, his real judgment to Plato. So- have been for the production of the world by God. For phist. P:

which purpose we have this observable testimony in his 185. Ed.

Sophista, where he divides all manner of productions of things into divine and human, and opposes the opinion that conceived all things to be produced by an eternal power, to the opinion of the vulgar; which, saith he, was την φύσιν αυτά γεννάν από τινος αιτίας αυτομάτης και άνευ διανοίας puéons, that all things were produced by a blind force of nature, without any reason or counsel; to which he opposeth the other opinion, that they are made jeta abye te mai επιςήμης θείας από θεού γιγνομένης, by a Divine power, with infinite reason and wisdom ; and when Theætetus expresseth himself in an academical way as to either of these opinions, the Hospes Eleatensis, who there acts the part of the philosopher, tells him, if he thought he were inclinable to the other opinion, νύν αν τώ λόγω μετά πειθώς ανακαίας επεχειρεμεν σοιεϊν ομολογείν, he would undertake to make him confess the contrary, by the evidence of reason which he would bring. And we shall see what great reason there is for this opinion, when we consider what weak and infirm foundations the contrary is built upon. For all the arguments which either Ocellus, or Aristotle, or the modern Platonists make use of, are built on these following suppositions; which are all false. 1. That it is unconceivable that things should ever have been in any other state than they are. 2. That there is no other way of production but by generation. 3. That God is no free agent, but produced the world by necessity of nature.

1. That it is unconceivable that things should ever have been any otherwise than they are. The reason of which supposition was this: That the general conclusions of reason, which they proceed upon in philosophy, were taken up from the observation of things as they are at present in the world. Which is evident from the ground of Aristotle's condemning the opinion of Empedocles; who asserted the production of the world, and yet the incorruptibility of it : το μεν έν γενέσθαι μεν, αΐδιον δ' όμως είναι



pávoti, tūv åduvétwy, which he accounts impossible; and CHAP. gives this as his reason, μόνα γαρ ταύτα θετέον ευλόγως, όσα

11. éti wordőv is warlos ópõuev úzépkorta. For, saith he, nothing Arist. de else can be rationally asserted, but what we find to be in all cælo, l.i. things, or at least in most; now because there could no- cap. 1o. thing be found in the world which was produced, (i. e. by generation,) and yet was incorruptible, therefore he concludes it impossible it should be so with the universe. By which we evidently see what the grand principles of reason among the philosophers were; viz. such observations as they had made from the present course of nature in the order of the universe. From hence arose that strong presumption among them, which hath been so taken for granted, that it hath been looked on as a common notion of human nature, viz. ex nihilo nihil fit, which Vid. Laert. was the main argument used by them to prove the eternity in Vit. Deof the world, and by others, to prove the preexistence of matter. So Ocellus argues against both the dissolution and production of the world, from this principle: If the world be dissolved, saith he, it must either be štoi się to ôv, sis tò usi ôv, either into that which is, or into that which is not. It cannot be dissolved into that which is, because then the universe cannot be destroyed; for that which is, is either the universe, or a part of it: neither can it be dissolved into that which is not, αμήχανον γαρ το όν αποτέλεσθαι Ocellus Luεκ των μη όντων, και εις το μη όν αναλυθήναι, for it is impossible that canus, P. 16.

Ed. . a thing should be made out of that which is not, or be dissolved into nothing. And Aristotle somewhere tells us, Aristot. that it is a principle which all the writers of Natural Phi- Physic.l.iv. losophy are agreed in (σερί γάρ ταύτης ομογνωμονούσι της δόξης άπαντες οι σερί της φύσεως,) which is έκ μη όντων γίνεσθαι αδύvarov, that it is impossible for any thing to come out of nothing. But now when we observe upon what grounds this principle was took up by these philosophers, we have no reason to admit of it as an universal standard of nature. For we find by these naturalists, who thus asserted this principle, that when they go about to prove it, it is only from the course of generations in the world, or from the works of art, both which suppose matter preexistent; and from these short collections they form this universal maxim. And from hence, when they discoursed of the manner whereby God did produce the world, their imaginations ran presently upon that which the Epicurean in Tully enquires after, Quæ molitio? Quce ferramenta ? Cicero de Qui vectes ? Quæ machinæ ? Qui ministri tanti operis fue- Nat. Deor. runt? They apprehend God only as an artificer, that con

1. i. c. 19.


BOOK trives the world first into a platform, and then useth in

struments to erect it ; and consequently still suppose the

matter ready for him to work upon. So true is that of Ibid. l. ii. Balbus in Tully, when he comes to discourse of the nature

of God; In quo nihil est difficilius quam a consuetudine oculorum aciem mentis abducere, nothing is more difficult than to abstract our minds from the observations of this visible world, when we seek io apprehend the nature of the Deity. Thus we see upon what general grounds the philosophers proceeded, and from what they took them, and how insufficient any collections from the present order of the universe are to determine any thing concerning its production by. For supposing a production of the world, several things must of necessity be supposed in it different from what the present order of the world is; and it is an unreasonable thing to argue from a thing when it is in its greatest perfection, to what must always have been in the same thing; for by this means we must condemn many things for falsities which are apparently true, and believe

many others to be true which are apparently false. For Maimon. which Maimonides useth an excellent similitude. SupMore Nev. pose, saith he, one of exquisite natural parts, whose mother 1. ii. c. 17. dies as soon as he is born, and his father brings him up in an

island, where he may have no society with mankind till he be grown up to years of understanding, and that he never saw any female of either man or beast; suppose now this person to enquire of the first man he speaks with, how men are born, and how they come into the world? The other tells him, that every man is bred in the womb of one of the same kind with ourselves, thus and thus formed; and that while we are in the womb, we have a very little body, and there move and are nourished; and we grow up by little and little till we come to such a bigness, and then we come forth into the world, and yet grow still till we come to such a proportion as we are of. Here presently this young man stops him, and enquires, when we were thus little in the womb, and did live, move, and grow, did we not eat and drink, and breathe at our mouth and nostrils as we do now? Did we not ease nature as we do now? If it be answered him, No, then he presently is ready to deny it, and offers to bring demonstrations that it was utterly impossible that it should be so. For, saith he, if either of us cease breathing but for an hour, our motion and life is gone : how is it then possible for one of us, though never so little, to live and move in the womb for so many months, when it is so close, and shut up, and in the middle of the body? If one of us, saith he, should


swallow a little bird, it would presently die as soon as it CHAP. came into the stomach ; how much more if it were in the belly ? If we should be but for few days without eating and drinking, we could not live ; how can a child then continue so many months without it? Again; if one doth eat, and not void the excrement of what he eats, he will be killed with it in few days; how can it possibly be otherwise with a child? If it be replied, that there is a passage open in the belly, at which the child receives his nourishment, he will presently say that it is as impossible as the other ; for if our bellies were so open, we should be quickly destroyed. And again, if the child hath all its limbs perfect and sound, how comes it not to open its eyes, use the feet, mouth, and hands, as we do? And so concludes it impossible that man should ever be born after this manner. Much after this way, saith that excellent author, do Aristotle and others argue against the production of the world; for if the world were produced, say they, it must have been thus and thus; and it is impossible that it should have been so. Why? Because we see things are otherwise now in the world. Which how infirm a way of arguing, it appears from the consideration of the former similitude, in which the arguments are as strong to prove the impossibility of that which we know to be true, as in the case about which we dispute.

And this now leads us to the second false hypothesis, which the opinion of the world's eternity was founded on, which is, That there is no other way of production but by generation. Most of the arguments which are used by Ocellus and Aristotle against the production of the world, run upon this supposition, that it must be generated, as we see things are in the world. So Ocellus argues, Tūv te Ocell. Luc. το γενέσεως αρχήν ειληφός, και διαλύσεως οφείλον κοινωνήσαι, δύο Ρ:8.

Ed. Comm. επιδέχεται μεταβολάς: μίαν μεν την από μείονος επί το μείζον, και την άπό τού χείρονος επί το βέλλιον· καλείται δε το μεν άφ' έπερ αν αρξηται μεταβάλλειν, γένεσις· το δε εις ο αφικνείται, ακμή: δευτέραν δε την από το μείζονος επί το μείον, και την από του βελλίονος

È επί το χείρον το δε συμπέρασμα της μεταβολής ταύτης ονομάζεται @Jopa xai quáauris. Every thing that comes into being, and is subject to dissolution, hath two observable mutations in it: the one is whereby it grows from less to greater, and from worse to better, and this is called generation, and the height of this mutation, perfection. The other begins from better to worse, and from bigger to less; and the conclusion of this is corruption and dissolution. But now, saith he, if the world had a beginning, there would be such a mutation

VI. 2.

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