Though, I confess, I have seldom taken any great pleasure, in reading other mens Apologies, yet must I at this time make some my self. First therefore, I acknowledge, that when I engag'd the Press, I intended onely a Discourse concerning Liberty and Necessity, or to speak out more plainly, Against the Fatall Necessity of all Actions and Events; which upon whatsoever Grounds or Principles maintain'd, will (as We Conceive) Serve The Design of Atheism, and Undermine Christianity, and all Religion; as taking away all Guilt and Blame, Punishments and Rewards, and plainly rendring a Day of Judgment, Ridiculous: And it is Evident that some have pursued it of late, in order to that End. But afterwards We consider'd, That this which is indeed a Controversy, concerning The True Intellectual System of the Universe, does, in the full Extent thereof, take in Other things; the Necessity of all Actions and Events being maintained by Several Persons, upon very Different Grounds, according to that Tripartite Fatalism, mentioned by us in the beginning of the First Chapter. For First, The Democritick Fate, is nothing but The Material Necessity of all things without a God: it supposing Sensless Matter, Necessarily Moved, to be the onely Original and Principle of all things: Which therefore is called by Epicurus, The Physiological; by us, the Atheistick Fate. Besides which, The Divine Fate is also Bipartite; Some Theists supposing God, both to Decree and Doe all things in us, (Evil as well as Good) or by his Immediate Influence to Determine all Actions, and so make them alike Necessary to us. From whence it follows, That his Will is no way Regulated or Determined, by any Essentiall and Immutable Goodness, and Justice; or that he hath nothing of Morality in his Nature, he being onely Arbitrary Will Omnipotent. As also That all Good and Evil Morall, to us Creatures are <A3v> meer Theticall or Positive things; νόμῳ, and not φύσει, by Law or Command onely, and not by Nature. This therefore may be called, The Divine Fate Immorall, and Violent. Again, There being other Divine Fatalists, who acknowledge such a Deity, as both suffers other things, besides it self, to Act, and hath an Essentiall Ggoodness and Justice in its Nature; and consequently, That there are things, Just and Unjust to us Naturally, and not by Law and Arbitrary Constitution onely; and yet nevertheless take away from men, all such Liberty, as might make them capable of Praise and Dispraise, Rewards and Punishments, and Objects of Distributive Justice: they conceiving Necessity to be Intrinsecall to the Nature of every thing, in the Actings of it; and nothing of Contingency to be found any-where; from whence it will follow, That nothing could possibly have been Otherwise, in the whole World, then it Is. And this may be called The Divine Fate Morall, (as the other Immorall,) and Naturall, (as the other Violent;) it being a Concatenation, or Implexed Series of Causes, all in themselves Necessary, depending upon a Deity Morall, (if we may so speak) that is, such as is Essentially Good, and Naturally Just, as the Head thereof; the First Contriver and Orderer of all. Which kind of Divine Fate, hath not onely been formerly asserted by the Stoicks, but also of late, by divers Modern Writers. Wherefore of the Three Fatalisms, or False Hypotheses of the Universe, mentioned in the beginning of this Book; One is Absolute Atheism: Another Immorall Theism, or Religion without any Naturall Justice and Morality: (all Just and Unjust, according to this Hypothesis, being meer Theticall or Factitious things, Made by Arbitrary Will and Command onely:) The Third and Last, such a Theism, as acknowledges not onely a God, or Omnipotent Understanding Being, but also Natural Justice and Morality, Founded in him, and Derived from him; nevertheless no Liberty from Necessity anywhere, and therefore no Distributive or Retributive Justice in the World. Whereas these Three Things are, (as we conceive) the Fundamentals or Essentials of True Religion. First, That all things in the World, do not Float without a Head and Governour; but that there is a God, an Omnipotent Understanding Being, Presiding over all. Secondly, That this God being Essentially Good and Just, there is φύσει καλὸν καὶ δίκαιον, Something in its own Nature, Immutably and Eternally Just, and Unjust; and not by Arbitrary Will, Law, and Command onely. And Lastly, That there is Something ἐφ' ἡμ͂ιν, or, That we are so far forth Principles or Masters of our own Actions, as to be Accountable to Justice for them, or to make us Guilty and Blame-worthy for what we doe Amiss, and to Deserve Punishment accordingly. Which Three Fundamentals <A4r> of Religion, are Intimated by the Authour to the Hebrews, in these Words; He that Cometh to God, must Believe that He Is, and That He is a Rewarder of those who seek him out. For to Seek out God here, is nothing else, but to Seek a Participation of his Image, or the Recovery of that Nature and Life of his, which we have been Alienated from. And these Three Things, namely, That all things do not Float without a Head and Governour; but there is an Omnipotent Understanding Being Presiding over all: That this God, hath an Essentiall Goodness and Justice, and That the Differences of Good and Evil Morall, Honest and Dishonest, are not by meer Will and Law onely, but by Nature; and consequently, That the Deity cannot Act, Influence, and Necessitate men, to such things as are in their Own Nature, Evil: and Lastly, That Necessity is not Intrinsecall to the Nature of every thing; But that men have such a Liberty, or Power over their own Actions, as may render them Accountable for the same, and Blame-worthy when they doe Amiss; and consequently, That there is a Justice Distributive of Rewards and Punishments, running through the World; I say, These Three, (which are the most Important Things, that the Mind of man can employ it self upon) taken all together, make up the Wholeness and Entireness of that, which is here called by us, The True Intellectual System of the Universe; in such a Sense, as Atheism may be called, a False System thereof: The Word Intellectual, being added, to distinguish it from the other, Vulgarly so called, Systems of the World, (that is, the Visible and Corporeal World) the Ptolemaick, Tychonick, and Copernican; the Two Former of which, are now commonly accounted False, the Latter True. And thus our Prospect being now Enlarged, into a Threefold Fatalism, or Spurious and False Hypothesis of the Intellectual System, making all things Necessary upon several Grounds; We accordingly Designed the Confutation of them all, in Three Several Books. The First, Against Atheism, (which is the Democritick Fate) wherein all the Reason and Philosophy thereof is Refelled, and the Existence of a God Demonstrated; and so that ὑλικὴ ἀνάγκη, or Material Necessity of all things, Overthrown. The Second, For such a God as is not meer Arbitrary Will Omnipotent, Decreeing, Doing, and Necessitating all Actions, Evil as well as Good; but Essentially Moral, Good and Just; and For a Natural Discrimen Honestorum & Turpium; whereby another Ground of the Necessity of all Humane Actions will be Removed. And the Third and Last, Against Necessity Intrinsecall and Essentiall to all Action; and for such a Liberty, or Sui-Potestas, in Rational Creatures, as may render them Accountable, capable of Rewards and Punishments, and so Objects of Distributive or Retributive Justice: <A4v> by which the now onely remaining Ground, of the Fatal Necessity of all Actions and Events, will be Taken away. And all these Three under that One General Title, of The True Intellectual System of the Universe. Each Book having besides, its own Particular Title: as, Against Atheism, For Natural Justice and Morality, Founded in the Deity; For Liberty from Necessity, and a Distributive Justice of Rewards and Punishments in the World. And this we conceive may fully satisfy, concerning our General Title, all those, who are not extremely Criticall or Captious, at least as many of them as have ever heard of the Astronomical Systems of the World: so that they will not think us hereby Obliged, to Treat of the Hierarchy of Angels, and of all the Several Species of Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals, &c. that is, to write De Omni Ente, of whatsoever is Contained within The Complexion of the Universe. Though the Whole Scale of Entity is here also taken notice of; and the General Ranks of Substantiall Beings, below the Deity, (or Trinity of Divine Hypostases) Consider'd: which yet, according to our Philosophy, are but Two; Souls of several Degrees, (Angels themselves being included within that Number) and Body or Matter: as also the Immortality of those Souls Proved. Which notwithstanding is Suggested by us, onely to Satisfy some mens Curiosity. Nevertheless we confess that this General Title, might well have been here spared by us, and this Volume have been Presented to the Reader's View, not as a Part or Piece, but a Whole Compleat and Entire thing by it self, had it not been for Two Reasons; First, Our beginning with those Three Fatalisms, or False Hypotheses of the Intellectual System, and Promising a Confutation of them all, then when we thought to have brought them within the Compass of One Volume; and Secondly, Every other Page's, throughout this whole Volume, accordingly bearing the Inscription, of Book the First, upon the Head thereof. This is therefore that which in the First place, we here Apologize for, our Publishing One Part or Book alone by it self; We being surprized in the Length thereof; Whereas we had otherwise Intended Two more along with it. Notwithstanding which, there is no Reason, why this Volume should therefore be thought Imperfect and Incomplete, because it hath not All the Three Things at first Designed by us; it containing All that belongeth to its own Particular Title and Subject, and being in that respect no Piece, but a Whole. This indeed must needs beget an Expectation, of the Two following Treatises, (especially in such as shall have receiv'd any Satisfaction from this First;) concerning those Two other Fatalisms, or False Hypotheses mentioned; to make up our Whole Intellectual System Compleat: The One, to Prove, That God is not meer Arbitrary Will Omnipotent, (without any Essential Goodness and Justice) Decree <*1r> ing and Doing all things in the World, as well Evil as Good; and thereby making them alike Necessary to us; from whence it would follow, that all Good and Evil Moral, are meer Thetical, Positive, and Arbitrary things, that is, not Nature, but Will; Which is the Defence of Natural, Eternal, and Immutable Justice, or Morality: The Other, That Necessity is not Intrinsecal to the Nature of Every thing, God and all Creatures, or Essentiall to all Action; but, That there is Something ἐφ' ἠμῖν, or, That we have some Liberty, or Power over our own Actions: Which is the Defence of a Distributive or Retributive Justice, dispensing Rewards and Punishments throughout the whole World. Wherefore we think fit here to advertize the Reader concerning these, That though they were, and still are, really intended by us; yet the Compleat Finishing and Publication of them, will notwithstanding depend upon many Contingencies; not onely of our Life and Health, the Latter of which, as well as the Former, is to us very Uncertain; but also of our Leisure, or Vacancy from other Necessary Employments.
In the next place, We must Apologize also, for the Fourth Chapter; inasmuch as, though in regard of its Length, it might rather be called a Book, then a Chapter; yet it doth not Answer all the Contents Prefixed to it. Here therefore must we again, confess our selves Surprized; who when we wrote those Contents, did not suspect in the least, but that we should have Satisfied them all within a lesser Compass. And our Design then was, besides Answering the Objection, against the Naturality of the Idea of God, from the Pagan Polytheism, (we having then so fit an Occasion) to give such a further Account of the Idolatry and Religion of the Gentiles, as might prepare our way for a Defence of Christianity, to be subjoyned in the Close: it being not onely agreeable to the Sense of Ancient Doctors, but also expresly declared in the Scripture, That One Design of Christianity, was to abolish and extirpate the Pagan Polytheism and Idolatry. And our Reasons for this Intended Defence of Christianity, were. First; Because we had Observed, that some Professed Opposers of Atheism, had either incurred a Suspicion, or at least suffered under the Imputation, of being meer Theists, or Natural Religionists onely, and no hearty Believers of Christianity, or Friends to Revealed Religion. From which either Suspicion or Imputation therefore, we thought it Justice to free our selves, we having so Unshaken a Belief, and firm Assurance, of the Truth of the whole Christian Doctrine. But, Secondly and Principally; Because we had further Observed it, to have been the Method of our Modern Atheists, to make their First Assault against Christianity, as thinking that to be the most Vulnerable; and that it would be an easy Step for them from thence, to Demolish all Religion, and <*1v> Theism. However, since the Satisfying the Former Part of those Contents, had already taken up so much Room, that the Pursuit of the Remainder, would have quite Excluded, our principally Intended Confutation of all the Atheistick Grounds; the forementioned Objection being now sufficiently Answered; there was a necessity, that we should there break off, and leave the further Account of the Pagan Idolatry and Religion, together with our Defence of Christianity, to some other more convenient Opportunity.
And now we shall Exhibit to the Reader's view, a Brief and General Synopsis, of the whole following Work, together with some Particular Reflexions upon several Parts thereof; either for his better Information concerning them, or for their Vindication: some of which therefore, will be of greater Use, after the Book has been read, then before. The First Chapter, is an Account of the Atomick Physiology, as made the Foundation of the Democritick Fate. Where the Reader is to understand, that this Democritick Fate, which is One of the Three False Hypotheses of the Intellectual System, there Mentioned, is the very Self-same thing with the Atomick Atheism; the onely Form of Atheism, that hath publickly appeared upon the Stage, as an Entire Philosophick System; or hath indeed been much taken notice of in the World, for these Two Thousand years past. For, Though it be true, That Epicurus, (who was also an Atomick Atheist, (as is afterwards declared) having, in all probability, therefore a Mind to Innovate Something, that he might not seem to have borrowed all from Democritus,) did by violence introduce Liberty of Will, into his Hypothesis; for the Salving whereof, he ridiculously devized, That his Third Motion of Atoms, called by Lucretius, ——Exiguum Clinamen Principiorum: Yet was this, as Cicero long since observed, a most Heterogeneous Patch, or Assumentum of his, and altogether as Contradictious to the Tenour of his own Principles, as it was to the Doctrine of Democritus himself. There can be nothing more Absurd, then for an Atheist to assert Liberty of Will: but it is most of all Absurd, for an Atomick One. And therefore our Modern Atheists do here plainly disclaim Epicurus, (though otherwise so much Admired by them;) and declare open War against this Liberty of Will: they Apprehending that it would unavoidably Introduce Incorporeal Substance; as also well Knowing, that Necessity, on the contrary, Effectually overthrows all Religion; it taking away Guilt and Blame, Punishments and Rewards; to which might be added also, Prayers and Devotions.
And as there was a necessity for us here, to give some Account of that <*2r> Ancient Atomick Physiology, with which Atheism now became thus Blended and Complicated; so do we in this First Chapter, chiefly insist upon Two things concerning it. First, That it was no Invention of Democritus nor Leucippus, but of much greater Antiquity: not onely from that Tradition transmitted by Posidonius the Stoick, That it derived its Original from one Moschus a Phœnician, who lived before the Trojan Wars, (which plainly makes it to have been Mosaicall;) but also from Aristotle's Affirmation, That the greater part of the Ancient Philosophers entertained this Hypothesis; and further because it is certain, that divers of the Italicks, and particularly Empedocles, before Democritus, Physiologized Atomically: which is the Reason, he was so much applauded by Lucretius. Besides which, it is more then a Presumption, that Anaxagoras his Homœomery or Similar Atomology, was but a Degeneration from the True and Genuine Atomology of the Ancient Italicks, that was an Anomœomery, or Doctrine of Dissimilar and Unqualified Atoms. Wherefore all that is True concerning Democritus and Leucippus, is onely this, That these men were indeed, the First Atheizers of this Ancient Atomick Physiology, or the Inventors and Broachers of the Atomick Atheism. Which is Laërtius his True meaning, (though it be not commonly understood,) when he recordeth of them, that they were the First, who made Unqualified Atoms, the Principles of all things in the Universe without exception; that is, not onely of Inanimate Bodies, (as the other Ancient Religious Atomists, the Italicks, before had done) but also of Soul and Mind.
And whereas we conceive this Atomick Physiology, as to the Essentialls thereof, to be Unquestionably True, viz. That the onely 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 Phancies in us: (Which excellent Discovery therefore, so long agoe 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 Atomick Physiology rightly understood, is so far from being either the Mother or Nurse of Atheism, or any ways Favourable 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 then 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; <*2v> 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 Pythagorick Doctrine, of the Præ-Existence of Souls, was founded upon the very same Principle, with the Atomick Physiology. And it is from this very Principle rightly understood, that Ourselves afterwards, undertake to Demonstrate, The Absolute Impossibility of all Atheism. Moreover, we have made it undeniably Evident, That the Intrinsick Constitution of this Atomick Physiology also is such, as that whosoever admits it, and rightly understands it, must needs acknowledge Incorporeal Substance; which is the Absolute Overthrow of Atheism. And from hence alone, is it 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 Atomick Atheism, being Really nothing else, but a Rape committed upon the Atomick Physiology. For which Reason, we do by no means here Applaud Plato, nor Aristotle, in their Rejecting this most Ancient Atomick Physiology, and Introducing again, 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 Atomick 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 onely 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.
As to the Second Chapter, we have no more to say, but onely this; That here we took the Liberty, to Reveal the Arcane Mysteries of Atheism, and to Discover all its Pretended Grounds of Reason, that we could find anywhere suggested in Writings; those onely excepted, that are peculiar to the Hylozoick Form, (which is directly contrary to the Atomick;) and that to their best advantage too: nevertheless to this end, that these being afterwards, all Baffled and Confuted, Theism might by this means, Obtain the Greater and Juster Triumph over Atheism.
In the Third Chapter, we thought it necessary, in order to a fuller Confutation of Atheism, to consider all the other Forms thereof, besides the Atomick. And here do we first of all, make a Discovery of a certain Form of Atheism, never before taken notice of, by any Modern Writers, which we call the Hylozoick: which notwithstanding, though it were long since started by Strato, in way of Opposition to the Democritick and Epicurean Hypothesis; yet because it afterwards slept in perfect Silence and Oblivion, should have been here by us passed by Silently; had we not had certain Knowledge of its being of late Awakened and Revived, by some, who were so sagacious, as plainly to perceive, that the Atomick Form could never doe their business, nor prove Defensible: and therefore would attempt to carry on this Cause of Atheism, in quite a different way, by the Life and Perception of Matter: as also that this in all probability, would ere long publickly appear upon the Stage, though not Bare-faced, but under a Disguize. Which Atheistick Hypothesis, is partly Confuted by us, in the Close of this Third Chapter, and partly in the Fifth.
In the next place, it being certain, that there had been other Philosophick Atheists in the world before those Atomicks, Epicurus and Democritus; we declare, out of Plato and Aristotle, what that most Ancient Atheistick Hypothesis was; namely, the Eduction of all things, even Life and Understanding it Self, out of Matter, in the way of Qualities; or as the Passions and Affections thereof, Generable and Corruptible. Which Form of Atheism is styled by us, not onely Hylopathian, but also Anaximandrian: however we grant some probability of that Opinion, That Anaximander held an Homœomery of Qualified Atoms, as Anaxagoras afterwards did; the difference between them being onely this, that the Latter asserted an Unmade Mind, whereas the Former Generated all Mind and Understanding, out of those Qualified Atoms, Hot and Cold, Moist and Dry, Compounded together: because we Judged this Difference not to be a sufficient Ground to multiply Forms of Atheism upon. And here do we give notice, of that strange kind of Religious Atheism, or Atheistick Theogonism, which asserted, not onely other Understanding Beings, Superiour to Men, called by them Gods; but also amongst those, one Supreme or Jupiter too; nevertheless Native, and Generated at First out of Night and Chaos, (that is, Sensless Matter) as also Mortal and Corruptible again into the same.
Besides which, there is yet a Fourth Atheistick Form taken notice of, out of the Writings of the Ancients, (though perhaps Junior to the rest, it seeming to be but the Corruption and Degeneration of Stoicism) which concluded the whole World, not to be an Animal, (as the Pagan <**1v> Theists then generally Supposed) but onely One Huge Plant or Vegetable, having an Artificial, Plantal, and Plastick Nature; as its Highest Principle, Orderly disposing the Whole, without any Mind or Understanding. And here have we set down, the Agreement of all the Atheistick Forms, (however differing so much from one another) in this One General Principle, viz. That all Animality, Conscious Life and Understanding, is Generated out of Sensless Matter, and Corruptible again into it.
Wherefore in the Close of this Third Chapter, we insist Largely, upon an Artificial, Regular and Plastick Nature, devoid of express Knowledge and Understanding, as subordinate to the Deity: Chiefly in way of Confutation, of those Cosmo-Plastick, and Hylozoick Atheisms. Though we had a further Design herein also, for the Defence of Theism: for asmuch as without such a Nature, either God must be supposed to Doe all things in the world Immediately, and to Form every Gnat and Fly, as it were with his own hands; which seemeth not so Becoming of him, and would render his Providence, to Humane Apprehensions, Laborious and Distractious; or else the whole System of this Corporeal Universe, must result onely from Fortuitous Mechanism, without the Direction of any Mind: which Hypothesis once admitted, would Unquestionably, by degrees, Supplant and Undermine all Theism. And now from what we have declared, it may plainly appear, that this Digression of ours, concerning an Artificial, Regular and Plastick Nature, (Subordinate to the Deity) is no Wen, or Excrescency, in the Body of this Book; but a Natural and Necessary Member thereof.
In the Fourth Chapter; After the Idea of God fully declared, (where we could not omit his Essential Goodness and Justice, or (if we may so call it) the Morality of the Deity; though that be a thing properly belonging to the Second Book, The Confutation of the Divine Fate Immoral) There is a large Account given of the Pagan Polytheism; to satisfy a very considerable Objection, that lay in our way from thence, Against the Naturality of the Idea of God, as Including Oneliness and Singularity in it. For had that, upon enquiry, been found True, which is so commonly taken for granted, That the generality of the Pagan Nations, had constantly, Scattered their Devotions, amongst a multitude of Self-Existent, and Independent Deities, they acknowledging no One Sovereign Numen; This would much have Stumbled the Naturality of the Divine Idea. But now it being on the Contrary, clearly Proved, That the Pagan Theologers all along, acknowledged One Sovereign and Omnipotent Deity, from which all their other Gods were Generated or Created, we have thereby not onely Removed the forementioned Objection out of the way; but also Evinced, That the Generality of mankind, <**2r> have constantly had a certain Prolepsis or Anticipation in their Minds, concerning the Actual Existence of a God, according to the True Idea of him. And this was the rather done Fully and Carefully by us; because we had not met with it sufficiently performed before: A. Steuchus Eugubinus, having laboured most in this Subject: from whose profitable Industry though we shall no way detract; yet whosoever will compare, what he hath written, with ours, will find no Just Cause to think ours Superfluous and Unnecessary; much less, a Transcription out of his. In which, besides other things, there is no Account at all given, of the Many Pagan, Poetical and Political Gods, what they were; which is so great a part of our Performance, to prove them Really to have been, but the Polyonymy of one God. From whence it follows also, That the Pagan Religion, though sufficiently Faulty, yet was not altogether so Nonsensical, as the Atheists would represent it, out of design; that they might from thence infer, all Religion to be nothing but a meer Cheat and Imposture: they worshipping onely One Supreme God, in the several Manifestations of his Goodness, Power, and Providence throughout the World, together with his Inferiour Ministers. Nevertheless we cannot deny, that being once engaged in this Subject, we thought our Selves the more Concerned, to doe the business thoroughly and effectually, because of that Controversy lately Agitated, concerning Idolatry, (which cannot otherwise be Decided, then by giving a True Account of the Pagan Religion;) and the so Confident Affirmations of some, That none could possibly be Guilty of Idolatry, in the Scripture Sense, who Believed One God the Creator of the whole world: Whereas it is most certain on the contrary, that the Pagan Polytheism and Idolatry, consisted not in worshipping Many Creators, or Uncreateds, but in giving Religious Worship to Creatures, besides the Creator; they directing their Devotion, (as Athanasius plainly affirmeth of them,) ἑνὶ ἀγενήτῳ, καὶ πολλοῖς γενητοῖς, To One Uncreated onely; but besides him, to many Created Gods. But as for the Polemick Management of this Controversy, concerning Idolatry, we leave it to other Learned Hands, that are already engaged in it.
Moreover, We have in this Fourth Chapter, largely Insisted also upon the Trinity. The Reason whereof was, Because it came in our way; and our Contents engaged us thereunto, in order to the giving a full Account of the Pagan Theology: it being certain, that the Platonicks and Pythagoreans at least, if not other Pagans also, had their Trinity, as well as Christians. And we could not well avoid, the Comparing of these Two together: Upon which Occasion we take notice of a Double Platonick Trinity; the One Spurious and Adulterated, of some latter Platonists; the Other True and Genuine, of Plato himself, Parmenides, and the Ancients. The Former of which, though it be Opposed by us to the Christian Trinity, and Con <**2v> futed; yet betwixt the Latter and that, do we find a Wonderfull Correspondence: which is Largely Pursued, in the Platonick Christians Apology. Wherein notwithstanding, nothing must be lookt upon, as Dogmatically Asserted by us, but onely Offered, and Submitted to the Judgment of the Learned in these Matters; We confining our selves, in this Mysterious Point of the Holy Trinity, within the Compass of those its Three Essentials declared: First, That it is not a Trinity of meer Names and Words, or of Logical Notions onely: But of Persons or Hypostases. Secondly, That none of those Persons or Hypostases, are Creatures, but all Uncreated. And Lastly, That they are all Three, Truely and Really One God. Nevertheless we acknowledge, That we did therefore, the more Copiously insist upon this Argument, because of our then Designed, Defence of Christianity; we conceiving that this Parallelism, betwixt the Ancient or Genuine Platonick, and the Christian Trinity, might be of some use to satisfy those amongst us, who Boggle so much at the Trinity, and look upon it as the Choak-Pear of Christianity; when they shall find, that the Freest Wits amongst the Pagans, and the Best Philosophers, who had nothing of Superstition, to Determine them that way, were so far from being shy of such an Hypothesis, as that they were even Fond thereof. And that the Pagans had indeed such a Cabbala amongst them, (which some perhaps will yet hardly believe, notwithstanding all that we have said,) might be further convinced, from that memorable Relation in Plutarch, of Thespesius Solensis, who after he had been lookt upon as Dead for Three days, Reviving; Affirmed amongst other things, which he thought he saw or heard in the mean time in his Ecstasy, This, Of Three Gods in the Form of a Triangle, pouring in Streams into one another; Orpheus his Soul, being said to have arrived so far; accordingly as from the Testimonies of other Pagan Writers, we have proved, that a Trinity of Divine Hypostases, was a part of the Orphick Cabbala. True indeed, our Belief of the Holy Trinity, is Founded upon no Pagan Cabbala's, but onely Scripture Revelation: it being that which Christians are, or should be, all Baptized into: Nevertheless these things are Reasonably noted by us to this end; That that should not be made a Prejudice Against Christianity, and Revealed Religion; nor lookt upon as such an Affrightfull Bugbear or Mormo in it; which even Pagan Philosophers themselves, and those of the most Accomplished Intellectuals, and Uncaptivated Minds, though having neither Councils, nor Creeds, nor Scriptures; had so great a Propensity and Readiness to entertain, and such a Veneration for.
In this Fourth Chapter, We were necessitated by the Matter it self, to run out into Philology and Antiquity; as also in the other Parts of the Book, we do often give an Account, of the Doctrine of the Ancients: which however some Over-severe Philosophers, may look upon Fastidiously, or Underva <***1r> lue and Depretiate; yet, as we conceived it often Necessary, so possibly may the Variety thereof not be Ungratefull to others; and this Mixture of Philology, throughout the Whole, Sweeten and Allay the Severity of Philosophy to them: The main thing which the Book pretends to, in the mean time, being the Philosophy of Religion. But for our parts, we neither call Philology, nor yet Philosophy, our Mistress; but serve our selves of Either, as Occasion requireth.
As for the Last Chapter; Though it Promise onely a Confutation of all the Atheistick Grounds; yet do we therein also Demonstrate, the Absolute Impossibility of all Atheism, and the Actual Existence of a God. We say Demonstrate; not A Priori, which is Impossible and Contradictious; but by Necessary Inference, from Principles altogether Undeniable. For we can by no means grant to the Atheists; That there is no more, then a Probable Persuasion, or Opinion to be had, of the Existence of a God; without any Certain Knowledge or Science. Nevertheless it will not follow from hence; That whosoever shall Read these Demonstrations of ours, and Understand all the words of them, must therefore of Necessity, be presently Convinced, whether he will or no, and put out of all manner of Doubt or Hesitancy, concerning the Existence of a God. For we Believe That to be True, which some have Affirmed, That were there any Interest of Life, any Concernment of Appetite and Passion, against the Truth of Geometricall Theorems themselves; as of a Triangle's Having Three Angles Equall to Two Right; whereby mens Judgements might be Clouded and Bribed; Notwithstanding all the Demonstrations of them, many would remain, at least Sceptical about them. Wherefore meer Speculation, and Dry Mathematical Reason, in Minds Unpurified, and having a Contrary Interest of Carnality, and a heavy Load of Infidelity and Distrust sinking them down; cannot alone beget an Unshaken Confidence and Assurance of so High a Truth as this, The Existence of One Perfect Understanding Being, the Original of all things. As it is certain also on the contrary, That Minds Cleansed and Purged from Vice, may without Syllogisticall Reasonings, and Mathematical Demonstrations, have an Undoubted Assurance of the Existence of a God, according to that of the Philosopher; ἡ κάθαρσις ποιεῖ ἐν γνώσει τῶν ἀρίστων Εἶναι, Purity Possesses men with an Assurance of the Best things: whether this Assurance be called a Vaticination or Divine Sagacity, (as it is by Plato and Aristotle) or Faith, as in the Scripture. For the Scripture-Faith, is not a meer Believing of Historicall Things, and upon Inartificiall Arguments, or Testimonies onely; but a Certain Higher and Diviner Power in the Soul, that peculiarly Correspondeth with the Deity. Notwithstanding which, Knowledge or Science, added to this Faith, (accor <***1v> ding to the Scripture Advice) will make it more Firm and Stedfast; and the better able to resist those Assaults of Sophisticall Reasonings, that shall be made against it.
In this Fifth Chapter, as sometimes elsewhere, we thought Our selves concerned, in Defence of the Divine Wisdome, Goodness, and Perfection, against Atheists, to maintain, (with all the Ancient Philosophick Theists,) the Perfection of the Creation also; or that the Whole System of things taken all together, could not have been Better Made and Ordered then it is. And indeed, This Divine Goodness and Perfection, as Displaying and Manifesting it self in the Works of Nature and Providence, is supposed in Scripture, to be the very Foundation of our Christian Faith; when that is Defined, to be the Substance and Evidence Rerum Sperandarum; that is, of Whatsoever is (by a Good man) to be hoped for. Notwithstanding which, it was far from our Intention, therefore to Conclude, That Nothing neither in Nature nor Providence, could be Otherwise then it is; or, That there is Nothing left to the Free Will and Choice of the Deity. And though we do in the Third Section, insist largely, upon that Ancient Pythagorick Cabbala, That Souls are always United to some Body or other; as also, That all Rationall and Intellectuall Creatures, consist of Soul and Body; and suggest several things, from Reason and Christian Antiquity, in favour of them both: yet would we not be Understood, to Dogmatize in either of them, but to Submit all to better Judgments.
Again, we shall here Advertise the Reader, (though we have Caution'd concerning it, in the Book it self) That in our Defence of Incorporeal Substance against the Atheists, However we thought our selves concerned, to say the utmost that possibly we could, in way of Vindication of the Ancients, who generally maintained it to be Unextended, (which to some seems an Absolute Impossibility;) yet we would not be supposed Ourselves, Dogmatically to Assert any more in this Point, then what all Incorporealists agree in, That there is a Substance Specifically distinct from Body; namely such, as Consisteth Not of Parts Separable from one another; and which can Penetrate Body; and Lastly, is Self-Active, and hath an Internal Energy, distinct from that of Locall Motion. (And thus much is undeniably Evinced, by the Arguments before proposed.) But whether this Substance, be altogether Unextended, or Extended otherwise then Body; we shall leave every man to make his own Judgment concerning it.
Furthermore, We think fit here to Suggest, That whereas throughout this Chapter and Whole Book, we constantly Oppose the Generation of Souls, that is, the Production of Life, Cogitation and Understanding, out of Dead and Sensless Matter; and assert all Souls to be as Substantiall as Matter <***2r> it self; This is not done by us, out of any fond Addictedness to Pythagorick Whimseys, nor indeed out of a meer Partiall Regard to that Cause of Theism neither, which we were engaged in, (though we had great reason to be tender of that too;) but because we were enforced thereunto, by Dry Mathematicall Reason; it being as certain to us, as any thing in all Geometry, That Cogitation and Understanding, can never possibly Result out of Magnitudes, Figures, Sites, and Locall Motions, (which is all that ourselves can allow to Body) however Compounded together. Nor indeed in that other way of Qualities, is it better Conceiveable, how they should emerge out of Hot and Cold, Moist and Dry, Thick and Thin; according to the Anaximandrian Atheism. And they who can persuade themselves of the Contrary, may Believe, That any thing may be Caused by any thing; upon which Supposition, we confess, it Impossible to us, to prove the Existence of a God, from the Phænomena.
In the Close of this Fifth Chapter; Because the Atheists do in the Last place Pretend, Theism and Religion to be Inconsistent with Civil Sovereignty; we were necessitated, briefly to Unravel and Confute, all the Atheistick Ethicks and Politicks, (Though this more properly belong to our Second Book Intended:) Where we make it plainly to appear, That the Atheists Artificiall and Factitious Justice, is Nothing but Will and Words; and That they give to Civil Sovereigns, no Right nor Authority at all, but onely Belluine Liberty, and Brutish Force. But on the contrary, as we Assert Justice and Obligation, not Made by Law and Commands, but in Nature; and Prove This, together with Conscience and Religion, to be the onely Basis of Civil Authority; so do we also maintain, all the Rights of Civil Sovereigns; giving both to Cæsar, the things that are Cæsar's; and to God, the things that are God's.
And now, having made all our Apologies and Reflexions, we have no more to adde, but onely the Retractation or Retraction of one Passage, Page 761. Where mentioning that Opinion of a Modern Atheistick Writer, That Cogitation is nothing else but Local Motion, we could not think Epicurus and Democritus to have sunk to such a Degree, either of Sottishness or Impudence, as this; whereas we found Cause afterwards, upon further Consideration, to Change our Opinion herein, Page 846. For asmuch as when Epicurus Derived Liberty of Will in men, meerly from that Motion of Sensless Atoms Declining Uncertainly from the Perpendicular; it is Evident, that according to him, Volition it self must be really Local Motion. As indeed in the Democritick Fate, and Material Necessity of all things, it is Implied, That Humane Cogitations are but Mechanism and Motion. Notwithstanding which, both Democritus and Epicurus supposed, That the World was made without Cogitation, though by Local Motion. So <***2v> that the meaning of these Besotted Atheists, (if at least they had any meaning) seems to have been this, That all Cogitation is Really Nothing else but Local Motion; nevertheless all Motion, not Cogitation; but onely in such and such Circumstances, or in Bodies so Modified.
And now we are not Ignorant, That some will be ready to condemn this whole Labour of ours, and of others in this Kind, Against Atheism, as altogether Useless and Superfluous; upon this Pretence, that an Atheist is a meer Chimæra, and there is no such thing any-where to be found in the World. And indeed we could heartily wish, upon that condition, that all this Labour of ours, were Superfluous and Useless. But as to Atheists, These so confident Exploders of them, are both Unskilled in the Monuments of Antiquity, and Unacquainted with the Present Age, they live in; others having found too great an Assurance, from their own Personal Converse, of the Reality of Them. Nevertheless this Labour of ours, is not Intended onely for the Conversion of Downright and Professed Atheists, (of which there is but Little Hope, they being sunk into so great a degree of Sottishness;) but for the Confirmation of Weak, Staggering, and Scepticall Theists. And unless these Exploders of Atheists, will affirm also, that all men have constantly, an Unshaken Faith, and Belief of the Existence of a God, without the least mixture of Doubtfull Distrust, or Hesitancy, (which if it were so, the world could not possibly be so bad as now it is) they must needs Grant, such Endeavours as these, for the Confirming and Establishing of mens Minds in the Belief of a God, by Philosophick Reasons, in an Age so Philosophicall, not to be Superfluous and Useless.
Hic Liber, cui Titulus, The True Intellectuall System of the Universe, &c.
Sam. Parker, Reverendmo in Christo Patri ac Domino, Domino Gilberto, Divinâ Providentiâ Archiep. Cantuar. à Sacr. Dom.
Maii 29. 1671.
Place the Contents at the latter end of the Book.
Cite as: Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe: The First Part (1678), pp. A3r-***2v, http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/normalised/Cudworth1678-excerpt002, accessed 2020-02-28.