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a Reality in respect of the Persons to do, and avoid them, cannot possibly be Arbitrary things made by Will without Nature, because, says he, It is universally true, that things are what they are, not by IVill, but by Nature. As for Example, Things are Triangular by Triangularity, Round by Rotundity ; the which, whether we consider as Qualities in the Objects without us, according to the Peripatetical Philosophy, or as a certain disposition of Parts in respect of Magnitude, Figure, Sight, and Motion, which beget those Senfations or Phantasms of Rotundity or Triangularity. Omnipotence (to speak with Reverence) cannot by mere Will make a Body Triangular or Round, without having the Nature and Properties of a Triangle in it; without having three Angles equal to two Right ones, &c. The Reason whereof is plain, because it implies a manifest Contradi&ion that things should be what they are not.
And this is a certain Truth fundamentally necessary to all Knowledge, that Contradictories cannot be true: For otherwise, nothing wou'd be certainly true or false.
Therefore since a thing cannot be made any thing by mere Will, without a Being or Nature, every thing must be necessarily and immutably determin’d by its own Nature; when things exist they are what they are, this or that abfolutely or relatively, not by ordinary Command, but by Necessity of their own Nature. Wherefore the Nature of Justice and Unjustice, cannot be arbitrarious Things that may be applicable by Will indifferently to any Actions or Difpofitions whatsoever.
And if it be objected here, that when God or Civil Powers command a Thing to be done that was not before Obligatory or Unlawful, the Thing
willed or commanded doth forth with become Obligatory, by consequence the Positive Things at least must needs owe all their Morality, their Good and Evil to mere Will without Nature. Our Learned Author will answer, that if we well consider it, we shall find that even in positive Commands themselves mere Will doth not make the Thing commanded Just or Olligatory; but that it is Natural Justice or Equity which gives to one the Right or Authority of Commanding, and begets in another Duty and Obli. gation to Obedience.
And, says he, that common distinction, Things naturally and positively Good and Evil, stand in need of a right Explication, that we be not led into a mistake thereby, as if the Obligation to do those Thetical and positive Things did arise wholly from Will without Nature. Here the Author enlarges and shews, that there are some Things which the Intellectual Nature obligeth to of it felf, directly, absolutely, and perpetually; and that other Things there are also, which the fame intellectual Nature obligeth to by Accident only, and bypothetically, upon Condition of some voluntary Action either of our own or some other Persons, &c. insomuch that no Command makes any Thing morally Good or Evil, Juft or Unjust, nor can oblige otherwise than by virtue of what is naturally Juft.
Notwithstanding all this, there are that will still contend, with that ingenious Philosopher Renatus des Cartes, that tho' it shou'd be granted that moral Good and Evil, Juft and Unjuft, do not depend upon any created Will; yet nevertheless they must needs depend upon the arbitrary Will of God, because the Nature and Effences of all
Things, and consequently all Verities and Falsities depend upon the same.
To this Exception our Author answers, and proves with solid Arguments, that it wou'd destroy all Knowledge and definite Natures or Notions of Things, as being an Affertion which implies most plainly Contradiction. Nay, that which implies a Contradiction is a Non-entity, and therefore cannot be the Object of Divine Power. The Names of the Things can be chang’d, but the Essences of Things are never convertible into one another; a Cube, says he, may be called Sphere, or a Square may be called Circle, yet never the Elence of a Circle is arbitrarily convertible in that of a Square ; and so
It is doubted whether Cartesius were in jest or earnest in this Business, but it matters not, says Dr. Cudworth ; and for very good Reasons proceeds further to thew, that particular Esences depend on the arbitrary Will of God. Because if they depended, there certainly can be no such thing as Science or Demonstration, nor the Truth of any Mathematical or Metaphysical Propofition be known any otherwise than by fome Revelation of the Will of God concerning it, and by a certain Enthusiastick or Fanatick Faith and Persuasion thereupon, that God wou'd have fuch a thing to be true or false at such a time, or for so long. And fo nothing wou'd be true or false naturally, but positively only; all Truth and Science being mere arbitrarious Things: Truth and Falfhood wou'd be only Names. Neither wou'd there be any more certainty in the Knowledge of God himself, since it must wholly depend upon the Mutability of a Will in him, and
God himself wou'd not know or be wise by Knowledge or by Wisdom, but by Will, &c.
Protagoras the Adarite was the chief amongst the Philosophers, who, to avoid the Force of these invincible Demonstrations, denied there was any immutable Nature or Essence, affirming all Being and Knowledge to be Fantastical and Relative.
This pretended Opinion was chiefly intended as a Battery or Assault against Morality, to difprove the absolute and immutable Natures of Good and Evil, Just and Unjuft; and so it appeareth in that learned Dialogue of Platos's, called, Theætetus. *
It is evident from Platos's Writings, that 'twas Protagoras who laid the first Foundation of these Maxims in the Heraclitical Philosophy; which introduc'd a moveable Essence, affirming, that 110thing stood, but all Things, either of Nature or Knowledge, moved, and flowed like a Stream
There were not any Philosophers of Note, besides Parmenides and Melisus that opposed it, who also ran into another Extreme: And therefore the former of these were facetioully called the Flowing Philosophers, the latter the Standards.
Protogoras went further, and made a Combination upon this Heraclitical Philosophy out of the old Åtomical or Phænician one, which clearly asserted, that all those sensible Qualities, as they are called, of Heat and Cold, Light and Colours, Sounds, Odours, and Sapours formally considered, are not Things really and absolutely existing without us, but only Passions, Sensations, and Phantasms in us, occasioned by certain local Motions made upon the Organs of Sense
* Ęd. Servani, p. 157, 167,
from the Objects without us. Thus of two Philosophies, Protagoras made up his own.
The Mechanical or Atomical Philosophy just now mention'd, and which has been lately restored by Cartesius and Gasendus, as to the main substance of it, was older than Epicurus, Plato, Aristotle, Democritus, Leucippus, nay, than even the Trojan War.
Our Author examines, but finds that 'twas Moschus, a Sidonian, the Inventor of the Atomical Philosophy; that this Moschus is the same with Moschus the Physiologer, who is the same with Moses the Jewish Lawgiver. That Plato and Aristotle were not acquainted with this Phenician Philosophy, which was rejected by Plato because abused to Scepticism, as also by Aristotle, but revived by Epicurus, who fo blended it with Impiety and Morality that it foon sunk again. And that it has been but too successfully restored in the last Age, as it was hinted, by Cartefius and Gassendus.
Protagoras, and the Sentiments of others, when they are grounded on this Atomical Philofophy, are not only ridiculously absurd and contradictious in themselves, but also altogether inconsequent from the same. · Hence Aristotle in his Metaphysicks, with some mixture of facetiousness, fays, To those that put their Finger under their Sight, or between their Eyes, it will be both two and one. But Sextus Empiricus bestows more subtlety upon it : If every Fancy be true, says he, then when one fancies that every Fancy is not true, that must be true also ; and so then this Proposition, that every Fancy is true, will be false.
Tho'our Author had sufficiently confuted Protagoras's Objection, yet he is pleas'd to launch