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it be believed, that the honest and studious author of the True Intellectual System of the Universe could not escape the shafts of calumny, but that his sincerity was called into question ? That, instead of receiving the well merited praise which his refutation of atheism demanded, he should be accused of entertaining those very principles which he opposed, and that this very accusation should be founded in his having fairly stated those doctrines which he as fairly overturned? That this, however, was the case appears from a few passages which we shall extract from a brief memoir of the author, prefixed to Birch's edition. After speaking of some objections made by a Catholic divine to the view which Cudworth bad taken of the pagan idolatry, his learned editor proceeds:
“ But let us now see, in how severe a manner he was treated, even by a Protestant divine, Mr. John Turner, in his Discourse of the Messiah. He tells us, ' We must conclude Dr. Cudworth to be himself a tritheistic; a sect, for which, I believe, he
have a kindness, because he loves hard words, or something else, without either stick or trick, which I will not name, because his book pretends to be written against it.' And again, that the most that charity itself can allow the doctor, if it were to step forth, and speak his most favourable character to the world, is, that he is an Arian, a Socinian, or a Deist.
" Mr. Dryden likewise tells us, that our author' has raised such strong objections against the being of a God and Providence, that many
think he has not answered them.' And the late Earl of Shaftesbury, in his Moralists, a rhapsody, has the following passage : You know the common fate of those who dare to appear fair authors. What was that pious and learned man's case, who wrote the Intellectual System of the Universe? I confess, it was pleasant enough to consider, that though the whole world were no less satisfied with his capacity and learning, than with his sincerity in the cause of the Deity; yet was he accused of giving the upper hand to the atheists, for having only stated their reasons and those of their adversaries fairly together.'
“Such was the treatment which our great author received for his immortal volume; wherein, as Mr. Warburton says, with a boldness uncommon indeed, but very becoming a man conscious of his own integrity, and of the truth and evidence of his cause, he launched out into the immensity of the Intellectual System, and at his first essay, penetrated the very darkest recesses of antiquity, to strip Atheism of all its disguises, and drag up the lurking monster to conviction. Where, though few readers could follow him, yet the very slowest were able to unravel his secret purpose—to tell the worldthat he was an Atheist in his heart, and an Arian in his book. However, thus ran the popular clamour against this excellent person. Would the reader know the consequence? Why, the zealots inflamed the bigots :
'Twas the time's plague, when madmen led the blind :
The silly calumny was believed ; the much injured author grew disgusted ; his ardour slackened ; and the rest and far greatest part of the defence never appeared."
We have made these extracts as testimony to the matter of fact, and though we have represented Warburton and Shaftesbury as sympathizing with the fate of Cudworth, we would guard against any insinuation that the author of the Intellectual System had any sympathy of sentiment with the paradoxical bishop, or the sceptical and arrogant peer. All that these three men had in common, was a deep and original habit of thought, accompanied with a boldness in stating their opinions, and a recklessness of the consequences which might be deduced from them. But Cudworth never went out of his way for the sake of paradox, never degenerated into affectations for . the purpose of displaying originality, was content to be full of his subject, instead of making his subject full of himself; it was not his aim to wrap himself in the clouds of conceitedness, and to make himself obscure to the multitude, but to render himself as intelligible as the subject would admit. His object was to seek for the truth wherever it might be found, and to communicate truth to whomsoever it was desirable. Warburton indeed in the above extract says, “ few readers could follow him.” This is a piece of transparent common-place vanity, a pleasant mode in which a man may advertise his own profundity, insinuating that himself is one of the favoured few who can see so much farther than the rest of the world. The fact is, that there is not, from one end of the Intellectual System to the other, a single section or train of reasoning, which may not be well understood by any average degree of intellect, or by any one at all accustomed to abstraction. Herein is the great value and lasting beauty of the work : it is not like the Divine Legation by Warburton, that is, merely admired for its author's ingenuity, but its merits are real and substantial. We do not rise from its perusal, thinking that the author could equally well have advocated the opposite system, but we are satisfied that the mind has followed the leadings of conviction. Cudworth does not argue as a pleader who is engaged to make the best of a cause, but sums up, at length, the evidence, like an honest judge who sees where the right lies.
But it is time we turn our attention to the work; which, though but a part of the author's intention, is whole in itself. The work is divided into five chapters: of which the first contains an account of the atomic physiology, as made the ground of the Democritic fate, which is one of
the three false hypotheses of the Intellectual System. In this chapter it is shewn, that neither Deinocritus nor Leucippus were inventors
of this doctrine of atoms, but that it had a much more ancient origin, and is, so far as relates to the material universe, the true philosophy.
“And whereas," says our author, we conceive this atomic physiology, as to the essentials thereof, to be unquestionably true, viz. That the only principles of bodies are magnitude, figure, site, motion, and rest; and that the qualities and forms of inanimate bodies are really nothing, but several combinations of these, causing several fancies in us; (which excellent discovery, therefore, so along ago made, is a notable instance of the wit and sagacity of the ancients ;) so do we, in the next place, make it manifest, that this atomic physiology, rightly understood, is so far from being either the mother or nurse of atheism, or any ways favorable thereunto, (as is vulgarly supposed) that it is indeed the most directly opposite to it of any, and the greatest defence against the same. For, first, we have discovered, that the principle, upon which this atomology is founded, and from whence it sprung, was no other than this, nothing out of nothing, in the true sense thereof; or that nothing can be caused by nothing; from whence it was concluded, that in natural generations there was no new real entity produced, which was not before; the genuine consequence whereof was two-fold; that the qualities and forms of inanimate bodies are no entities really distinct from the magnitude, figure, site, and motion of parts; and that souls are substances incorporeal, not generated out of matter. Where we have shewed, that the Pythagoric doctrine of the pre-existence of souls, was founded upon
very same principles with the atomic physiology. And it is from this very principle rightly understood, that ourselves afterwards undertake to demonstrate the absolute impossibility of atheism. Moreover, we have made it undeniably evident, that the intrinsic constitution of this atomic physiology also is such, as that whoever admits it, and rightly understands it, must needs acknowledge incorporeal substance; which is the absolute overthrow of atheism. And from hence alone it is certain to us, without any testimonies from antiquity, that Democritus and Leucippus could not possibly be the first inventors of this philosophy, they either not rightly understanding it, or else wilfully depraving the same; and the atomic atheism being really nothing else, but a rape committed
upon the atomic physiology. For which reason we do by no means here applaud Plato, nor Aristotle, in their rejecting this most ancient atomic physiology, and again introducing that unintelligible first matter, and those exploded qualities and forms, into philosophy. For though this were probably done by Plato, out of a disgust and prejudice against the atomic atheists, which made him not so well consider nor understand that physiology; yet was he much disappointed of his expectation herein, that atomology, which he exploded, (rightly understood,) being really the greatest bulwark against atheism; and, on the contrary, those forms and qualities, which he espoused, the natural seed thereof, they, besides their unintelligible darkness, bringing something out of nothing, in the impossible sense; which we shew to be the inlet of all atheism. And thus, in this first chapter,
have we not only quite disarmed atheism of atomicism, or shewed that the latter, (rightly understood) affordeth no manner of shelter or protection to the former ; but also made it manifest, that it is the greatest bulwark and defence against the same; which is a thing afterwards further insisted on."
This extract from the preface contains the outline of the first chapter, and points out the basis and principle of its argument; and surely if the atheist were to be confuted from his own notions, it was essential that these should be fairly and candidly stated. The second chapter therefore proceeds to state the several forms in which atheism has presented itself to the world. This enumeration is hardly worth our notice in this article, except to repeat that it is made fairly, as by one prepared to overthrow the several sophistries, and not sneeringly, or with exultation, as by one who wishes to raise more difficulties than can be easily removed.
The third chapter proceeds to a more minute and analytical inquiry into all the several forms of atheism, together with what our author calls a necessary digression concerning a plastic or artificial nature. We transcribe the first section of this chapter, wherein is stated the difference between the hylozoic and the atomic atheism.
“We have now represented the grand mysteries of atheism, which may be also called the mysteries of the kingdom of darkness; though indeed some of them are but briefly hinted here, they being again more fully to be insisted on afterward, where we are to give an account of the atheists' endeavours to solve the phenomenon of cogitation. We have represented the chief grounds of atheisms in general, as also of that most notorious form of atheism in particular, that is called atomical. But whereas there has been already mentioned another form of atheism, called by us hylozoical; the principles hereof could not possibly be insisted on in this place, where we were to make the most plausible plea for atheism, they being directly contrary to those of the atomical, so that they would have mutually destroyed each other. For, whereas the atomic atheism supposes the notion or idea of body to be nothing but extended resisting bulk, and consequently to include no manner of life and cogitation in it; hylozoism, on the contrary, makes all body, as such, and therefore every smallest atom of it, to have life essentially belonging to it (natural perception and appetite,) though without any animal sense or reflexive knowledge; as if life, and matter or extended bulk, were but two incomplete and inadequate conceptions of one and the same substance, called body. By reason of which life, (not animal, but only plastical,) all parts of matter being supposed able to form themselves artificially and methodically (though without any deliberation or attentive consideration) to the greatest advantage of their present respective capabilities, and therefore also sometimes by organization to improve themselves fur
ther into sense and self-enjoyment in all animals, as also to universal reason and reflexive knowledge in men; it is plain, that there is no necessity at all left, either of any incorporeal soul in men to make them rational, or of any deity in the whole universe to solve the regularity thereof. One main difference betwixt these two forms of atheism is this, that the atomical supposes all life whatsoever to be accidental, generable, and corruptible; but the hylozoic admits of a certain natural or plastic life, essential and substantial, ingenerable and incorruptible, though attributing the same only to matter, as supposing no other substance in the world besides it.'
The greatest blemish in the work, we conceive to be the fanciful and superfluous digression concerning this plastic nature. It was well to prove that the atomic physiology was not only consistent with, but absolutely required the acknowledgment of a Deity; butit was superfluous to encumber the argument by the admission of the plastic nature, which introduces, as it were, another substance between God and the universe. It would have been better to have exploded the notion altogether, as a mere word invented to cover atheistic ignorance. The very ground and reason of its introduction are bad—for the same principle which requires this, might, with a very little ingenuity, be extended to the introduction or palliation of polytheism. It may be necessary to give the learned author's own words on this subject. We must content ourselves with a partial, though a long extract--for the whole digression occupies too vast a space to be transcribed entire.
“ For unless there be such a thing admitted as a plastic nature that acts &vexá rov, for the sake of something, and in order to ends, regularly, artificially, and methodically, it seems that one or other of these two things must be concluded ; that either in the efformation and organization of the bodies of animals, as well as the other phenomena, every thing comes to pass fortuitously, and happens to be as it is, without the guidance and direction of any mind or understanding; or else, that God himself doth all immediately, and, as it were, with his own hands, form the body of every gnat and fly, insect and mite, as of other animals in generations, all whose members have so much of contrivance in them, that Galen professed he could never enough admire that artifice, which was in the leg of a fly, (and yet he would have admired the wisdom of nature more, had he been but acquainted with the use of microscopes): I say, upon supposition of no plastic nature, one or other of these two things must be concluded; because it is not conceived by any, that the things of nature are all thus administered, with such exact regularity and constancy every where, merely by the wisdom, providence, and efficiency of those inferior spirits, demons, or angels. As also, though it be true, that the works of nature are dispensed by a divine law and command, yet this is not to be understood in a vulgar sense, as if they were all effected by the mere