« AnteriorContinuar »
Republick of Letters.
For MAY 1731.
A Treatise concerning ETERNAL and Im
MUTABLE MORALITY, by Ralph Cudworth, D.D. Formerly Master of Christ's College in Cambridge ; with a Preface by the Right Reverend - Father in God Edward Lord Bishop of Durham. Printed for James' and John Knapton at the Crown in St. Paul's Church-yard. 1731.
Y what we have already said of this ex
cellent Divine and great Metaphysician, in our three preceding Journals, it may be easily judged how valuable this book is. However,
we cannot omit assuring our Reader, that almoft every Page shews the Penetration of the Author's Understanding, the Fertility and Nicety, as well as Solidity of his Judgment and Invention, and the whole accompany'd with profound Learning.
The IVth and Vth Chapters of the second Book deserve indeed to be transcrib'd word for word, but we shall content our felves with barely specifying the Subjects they contain, and fhall enlarge a little more upon the Articles of the fifth.
BOOK II. C HA P. IV.
1: [Ndividual material Things cannot be the im
mediate Objects of Intelle&tion and Knowledge ; besides which, there must be some other kind of Beings or Entities as the immediate Objects, such things as do not flow, but remain immutably the same. 2. Of these immutable Entities, what they are, from whence, and where they exift. 3. That there is an Eternal Mind, from wbich all created Understandings are constantly furnish'd with Ideas. 4. Conclusion, that Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, are eternal and Self-fubfiftent Things, superior to Matter and all sensible Things.
1. Ntelligible Notions of Things, though exift
ing only in Mind, are not Figments of the Mind, but have an Immutable Nature ; they are an Adamantine thing in the World, because,
says the Author, Intelligible Essences of Things
are like Unities indivisible; fo that if the least 66 be added to them, or detracted from them, “ they are not the same but something else ;
" and this Trutb being rightly understood by any
one particular Mind whatsoever, and where “ foever it be, is a Catholick and Universal one.
2. The Criterion of Truth, with reference to this, “ We must not, says Dr. Cudworth, go « about to look for it without our selves, by " consulting individual Sensibles, as the Exam“plars of our Ideas, and measuring our Con“ ceptions by them. And how is it possible to “ know by measuring of sensible Squares, that “ the Diameter of every Square is incommenfu“rable with the Sides? In other terms, says he, “ The Criterion of true Knowledge is not to be " look'd for any where abroad, neither in the
Heighth above, nor in the Depth beneath, " but only in our Knowledge and Conceptions " themselves: The Entity of all Theoretical 6. Truth, being nothing else but clear Intel“ ligibility, and whatever is clearly conceiv'd “ is an Entity and a Truth; but that which is "false, Divine Power it self cannot make it to
be clearly and distinctly understood; falfhood, as he observ'd before, being Non-Entity, and
a clear conception being an Entity ; Omnipo" tence it self cannot make a Non-Entity to be
an Entity. Wherefore he concludes, “No Man ever was
or can be deceiv'd in taking that for an Epi« ftemonical Truth which he clearly and di“ftinatly apprehends, but only in assenting to
things not clearly apprehended by him, which is the only true Original of all Error.
3. The Opinion that nothing can be demonstrated to be true absolutely, but only bypothetically, refuted: For, says our Author, if we cannot
“ clearly comprehend what they do not, “ that therefore they can never be cer" tain that they do, clearly comprehend any " thing which is juft ; as if we shou'd argue,
that because in our Dreams we think we have 6. clear Sensations, we cannot therefore be ever “ fure, when we are awake, that we see things “ that really are.
Dr. Cudworth concludes this Chapter with Origen against Celfus.
5. That Science and Knowlege is the only firm thing in the World, without a Participation of which communicated to them from God, all Creatures, says he, wou'd be mere Ludibria and Vanity.
With a Letter sent to the Author of the
HE Alogians, who cou'd not persuade
themselves that they were * compil'd by St. John, had written a Critique on them, where, among other Particulars, they objected that the Church of Thyatira did not exist in the Age of that Apoftle. As these were Hereticks who re* Epiph. Hæres, 51.
jected even St. John's Gospel, little notice is taken of their opinions. But 'tis not they who are hinted at in this place, but St. Epiphanius who refutes them, tho’ very triflingly; and in such a manner as to give them to understand, that in case they wou'd allow him
the Gospel, he'd very freely give them up the Revelations. If they, † fays he, admitted the Gospel, and reje&ted only the Revelations, one might conclude that they did it purely for the sake of being exact, and for fear of receiving an Apocryphal Piece. What surprizing Moderation is this in St. Epiphanius, he, who upon all other occasions was so stubborn and unpliant. According to him, had the Alogians rejected only such a Piece as the Revelations, nothing cou'd have been laid to their charge, but their being too scrupulously exact. Mr. Basnage thinks this is speaking very coldly of one of the Bonks of Scripture ; but why does this Writer fay coldly? 'Tis prevaricating with a witness.
But tho' the People of the East and the Greeks had no great esteem for the Revelations, yet the Latins, especially the most Western part of them, were more inclin'd to receive them : Among those who quote them in the fourth Century, are reckon’à Firmicus Maternus in the 20th Chapter against Idolatry ; Phebades of Agen in his Book against the Arians ; Pacienus Bishop of Barcelona in his first Epistle ; Prudentius the Poet in his fixth Hymn, written for those who are going to sleep; St. Hilary, in his Commentary on the Psalms, in which he cannot comprehend (to mention this transiently) how ’tis pofsible for Willows to grow on the Banks of Ri