A FREE and IMPARTIAL CENSVRE Of The PLATONICK PHILOSOPHIE Being a Letter Written to his much Honoured Friend Mr N. B.


OXFORD, Printed by W. Hall, for Richard Davis, Ann. Dom. 1666.

To the Reverend Dr. BATHURST, The Worthy and Learned PRESIDENT Of TRINITY COLLEDGE in OXFORD.

I Shall not need (as the Custome is) to argue the decency and fitness of this address, nor to excuse its ma­ny nice and critical Solecismes, because your absolute and unalie­nable Right to all the Fruits of my Studies has made it due and necessary; (and the Obligations of Duty cancel all the Laws of Indecency) so that if to present you with so mean a trifle be unhandsome, yet not to have done it, would have been unjust. For my Studies (Sir) [Page] are too deeply indebted to your Incouraging Directi­ons, to make any other repayment then by entirely resigning themselves up into your hands, and there­fore I cannot alienate any thing that's theirs, from being Yours, without being guilty at once of the grea­test Injustice and Ingratitude. So that though I do but Injure your Name by concerning its Authority in behalf of so worthless a Trifle, yet an Injury that's the result of Duty and Gratitude, may hope for not only your Pardon, but (such Sir is your Can­dour) your Acceptance too; since you cannot suspect the Reality of my Resentments, when I decline not so Criminal an Evidence thereof, and rather wilfully chose to commit any Faults and Indecencies then lose the least Opportunity to prove it.

I will not be so troublesome as to remind you of the retaile of your Obligations, yet there is one, whose peculiar matchlesness obliges me to as peculiar an acknowledgment. For to your prevailing advice (Sir) do I owe my first Rescue from the Chains and Fet­ters of an unhappy Education, then which 'twas im­possible either for you to have conferred, or for me to have received a greater benefit, there being no Per­fection to be Valued at so high a Rate as a true Free­dome and Ingenuity of Mind: 'Tis this, that di­stinguishes Churches from Heards. And those men that have laid aside the free and impartial use of their Reasons, are just as fit for Religion as Sheep [Page] and Oxen, for they differ only in this, that the one are Brutes without Reason, and the other Brutes with it. How could the Scythian have sacrificed Rational Beings, had he not first sacrificed his Reason; or the Egyptian adored Irrational Creatures, had not himself been one? Onyons could never have been Deities if Egyptians had been men; but when Rea­son was once banished the Temples, no wonder if folly and superstition commenced Religion; a stock might be a Deity when the Priest was no more. But (Sir) the excess of my Ioy and Zeal tempt me to be impertinent.

Philosophie may perhaps think her self hardly dealt with, to have two of her famousest Sects call'd to the Barre by so mean a Cleark as my self, yet I think I have done them not a little Honour in citing them before so Eminent a Iudge, and one so much their Peer in all Sublime Learning and Generositie of Soul; that their great Masters Zeno and Plato might justly Resign the Chair, and yield their Porch and Academy inferior to the Colledge that you Pre­side. Where the many good foundations, and grounds of Polite Literature, that you alone have laid, may well be thought the only Talismans of its present flourishing and prosperous Condition. These Papers therefore which were formed and hatched under your immediate Influences, being to take their flight abroad into the World, ought to be legitimated by no other [Page] then that Sun, which has always shined so favourably upon all my Endeavours. I cannot but acknowledge that (Sir) I have one selfish design in this Epistolary Address; namely, to bribe your affection that it may defend me from the Power of your Iudgment. 'Tis a very unusual request I confess, but yet 'tis mine at present, that you would be pleased to Protect me from your self; For I here offer to your sight that Paper which (did I not know your Candor to be proportion'd to your other Accomplishments) I could even wish might escape it. And thus (Sir) by prefixing your Name to this Pamphlet, I have not onely Rescued it from your own Iudgment, and the Contempt of others, but have also in some measure gratified my own Pride, in that as many as shall chance by the sight thereof, to understand that there's such a thing as I in the world, may withal be informed of the Honour and Happi­ness I have in being

Reverend Sir, Your most Faithful, most obli­ged, and most humble Servant, SAM: PARKER.



WEE that are so inconsiderate, as to print Books, sell our selves into the greatest Slavery in the world, be­ing thereby exposed to the severe commands of those that know us, and severer lashes of those that know us not: so that you may perhaps sooner expect to find me in a Venetian Gally then in the Press again. Not as if I were either so little a Philosopher, as to regard other mens Cen­sures, (for I have too little esteem for the Generali­ty of Mankind, to be at all concern'd how they e­steem of me; and you know 'tis one of my greatest designes in this world, to be one of the most un­concern'd men in it,) or so little your Friend, as to stile your commands Burthens: yet, (to be [Page 2] plain with you upon the warrant of our Philoso­phick Friendship) had they not surprised me at a very seasonable time, I had sent you no other reply, then either of Excuse, or flat Denyal: For, though I was then addressing my self to some Mathematical Studies, to the pursuance whereof I allotted the next portion of time, yet the main of my Studies for some weeks before had been employ'd in Plato­nick Authors, so that both my Brain and my Papers being well stuffed with Ideas, I was not displeased with the oportunity you have given me of Venting the one, and Methodizing the other.

The Task then you enjoyn me, is, To give an account of two Passages in my Tentamina Physico-Theologica; The one out of the last Chapter of the first Book, in which I exclaim against the Platonick Philosophy, as an ungrounded and Fanatick Fancy: The other out of the last Chapter of the second Book, where disputing against those that assert the necessity of the Worlds Eternal Existence, I was oc­casionally obliged, to glance upon the two grand Attributes of Gods Dominion and Goodness; hence you enjoyn me to make good my charge against Plato by giving you a larger, and more particular account of his Phylosophie, and to send you a further Expli­cation of the Nature and Extent of the forementio­ned Attributes, especially, as they have reference to the lately reviv'd Hypothesis of the Preexistence of [Page 3] Souls, seeing I have there reckoned that up among o­ther rash and unwarrantable opinions, which some men think to maintain from the Nature of Gods goodness; together with a special account of the groundlesness of the Hypothesis it self.

But if (Sir) I now pay one part of this Debt, I owe to your Commands, I may safely presume up­on your Candor for a forbearance of the other half; because (as I have often told you) although the Re­creation, I sometimes take to frame my Thoughts and Conceptions into words, almost equals the Ravishing delight I derive from their first Births and Discoveries, yet too long a continuance at this imployment is to me (and I believe to most men else) the most tedious and wearisome piece of Drudgerie in the world; so that if after this pay­ment in part, you will but grant me a short respite to refresh my self with a little Varietie, I do here engage to discharge the whole Debt, when ever you shall demand it. At present therefore deferring the latter half of my Task, I shall only send you as satisfactory an account of the Platonick Philoso­phie, as I am able; and that it may be as full and entire as its brevity will permit: I shall consider it in all its parts, according to the most usual, and perhaps most comprehensive division of Philosophie into Morality, Logick, Phisick, and Natural Theologie.

[Page 4] FIrst then, as for their Morality, no Platonist can set an higher estimate upon it, then my self; For beside those useful and excellent Notices, which it teaches in common with the Ethicks of other Sects, it may challenge a signal Preheminence upon seve­ral accounts; as

1. In that the Rules and Directions it prescribes are Sober and Practicable; it does not flatter men with Romantick Degrees of Happiness, upon fond and fantastick Principles, but complies with the conditions of Humane life, and neither Promises nor Designes greater proportions of Felicity, then our present Capacities will allow of. The Platonists were not so Vain as to comfort them­selves with high strein'd Paradoxes against the con­victions of Sense and Experience: They do not teach us, when we are in the extremity of Pain and Anguish, to sing Quam suave, quam dulce hoc est, Quam hoc non curo? No, but they esteemed of every thing as they found and felt it, and therefore whatsoever they experienced agreeable to their Natures they put into the Accounts of Good, as on the contrary, whatsoever they found to be a Grievance, they needed no other inducement to convince them of its Evil. Whereas it was the humour of the Stoicks, rather to strein for Parodoxes and Braveries then give practicable Rules of [Page 5] Life: And therefore it was well observed by some of the Antients, that never any man could attain to that height of wisdome, which the Stoical Philosophie pretends to. Stoici eam Sapientiam (saies Cicero) in­terpretantur, quam adhuc nemo mortalis est consecutus; And Seneca speaking of a true Stoick; Fortasse (says he) tanquam Phoenix semel anno quingentis simo na­scitur; and then only mentions the single instance of Cato. But the last time I had the happiness to Discourse with you, you was sufficiently con­vinc'd how little the vertue of Cato, and the honesty of Regulus are to be valued. If you should demand of me an account of the Stoical Principles, they are such as these. That the Beggerly Stoick is the only Rich man, [...], be­cause forsooth he is Master of all other mens wealth. That he alone is beautiful, free, and noble, that all other men are ugly sordid slaves. That he alone is Prince and Emperor of the Universe. That he can vie Perfection & Happiness with God Himself; nay Seneca blushes not to affirm,Epist. 53. est aliquid quo sapiens ante­cedat Deum. That he alone is a true Poet, Orator, Painter, Shoo-maker, Cobler, Taylor, or that him­self is good for everything, and no body else good for any thing. That to kill a Swallow is not a less villanie then Parricide. That 'tis as great a vertue to take a flea-biting patiently, at it is to preserve ones Coun­try [Page 6] by the most Gallant and Heroick Actions. That there is as much prudence in lifting up your finger with discretion, as in managing the Roman Empire. That he alwayes hath his will, [...]; Wish what you will, and you shall obtaine what you wish: Like old decrepid Iolaus in Euri­pides, that by the force of a wish, retrived his youth­ful Vigour and Spritefulness, &c. After all which, you will think this a Paradox indeed, [...], that 'tis impossible for a Stoick to be mad. So Extravagant are their Principles, that Plutarch has made it the Title of one of his Books, [...] That the Stoicks talk more Extravagantly then the Poets. I could quote you many places out of Lucian to this purpose against the Stoicks, but then it must only be to shew you how well I am acquainted with his Writings, for he is every where so abusive and bitter in his Sa­tyres, against all sorts of Philosophers, that if his mouth be any slander, they must have been a pack of the Vilest Villains that ever breathed, and upon that score I shall wave his Testimony: To proceed therefore,

Whereas it was a Fundamental Principle of the Stoicks, to esteem all things out of the power of a mans own will, [...], nor good nor evil, and thence not to reckon Health, Chearfulness, good Name, Wealth, Friends, Sickness, Grief, Disgrace, [Page 7] Poverty, Enemies, into the accounts of Good or Evil. The Platonists, on the contrary, made their measures of Good and Evil, from the observations of Sense and Experience; They therefore went not about to perswade themselves that any accident, which they felt to be evil, was ere the less so, by be­ing placed beyond the reach and command of their own wills; but looking about into the Nature of things, they first found that Man was a complex and multifarious Being, integrated of Body and Soul, and so that his felicity could not be consum­mate, if one constituent half of him was miserable: and then, that the body was liable to a thousand forreign contingencies, which 'tis not in the power of the mind of avoid, but yet that Vertue and Consi­deration, which have the most immediate, and most diffus'd influence upon the repose and satisfaction of man-kind; derive entirely from within a mans self, and depend not at all upon any external occur­rencies; whence they concluded, that though the biggest portions of our felicity be at our own dis­posals, yet that it must be acknowledged that some of the smaller parcels thereof are left to Chance, and uncertain Emergencies. And these they did not hope (with the Stoicks) to escape by a wilful senselesness and stupidity, like Posidonious, who when a very importunate fit of the Gout attempted to interrupt his Harangue before Pompey, cries out, [Page 8] Nihil agis dolor, quamvis sis molestus, nunquam con­sitebor te malum esse; the most pathetical Expres­sion of the acuteness of his paine! But the course they took, was to purge their minds of froward popular humours, and to sweeten them with mild and benign Principles; to moderate and command their passions, to furnish themselves with prudence and experience, and then whatever happened, to govern themselves by the Lawes of Wisdom and Moderation: Because, though all the Fountains of contentment are not within, nor do all our joys issue from our own Bowels, yet they receive their cheif tinctures thence: and hereby almost all our hap­piness is prudently confin'd within the compass of our own minds; for all intellectual endowments (which are our greatest perfection, because they perfect and advance our highest faculties) depend upon our selves, and when the mind is furnished with Vertue & Wisdom, it is able to extract some­thing beneficial to its own Interests, from the most malicious accidents. For every thing having two ends as well as two handles; if a wise man miss the one, he will not fail to hit the other; as he in Plu­tarch, who throwing a stone at a dog, but hit his curst Mother in Law, said, That he had not mist his Mark. A Wise man having his Palladium deposited within his own bosome, by whatsoever circumstances he is besieged, must needs be secure, if by good, they [Page 9] minister to the delights of Temperance, if by bad, they are improved to the interests of Patience and Contentedness; so that though a Wise man be ob­noxious to the spitful injuries of Fortune, and may be assaulted by forreign calamities, yet his mind (his Fort-Royal) is impregnable, and in the middest of all disappointments, its serenity shines as indi­sturbedly as the Lights of Pharos in the mid'st of Storms and Tempests. Hereby you see that though many of the ingredients of our happiness grow not within our selves, yet their composition being at our disposal, 'tis easie, either to add to their good qua­lities, or to allay their bad ones. But because here­in consists the Fundamental difference between the morality of the Academicks and Stoicks, I will en­deavour to assert and illustrate it a little more clear­ly, by discussing the main objecdtion of the Stoicks; which is this,

If (say they) our satisfaction should depend up­on forreign advantages, and any part of our happi­ness should be beyond our power, then it being sus­pended on a thousand uncertainties, it would both render Philosophie useless, and the condition of man­kind unavoidably calamitous and deplorable, in that no body can be master of his own satisfaction, but must be forced to intrust it with so blind and so un­certain a thing as Fortune, and so must needs be con­tinually liable to infinite misfortunes, and incessant­ly [Page 10] harassed with fears of loosing those things, which are not more necessary to his happiness, then they are uncertain and variable.

Though this objection be pregnantly answered by every mans Experience of humane affairs, yet partly because 'tis the main Basis of Stoicism, and partly because it reflects unhandsomely on the deal­ings of Providence, supposing that mankind would be hardly dealt with, if all his Goods be not placed within the confines of his own power, I shall endea­vour to silence it for ever, which I think may be done by these ensuing considerations.

1. That our Earthly happiness is never mere and unmixt, but when 'tis purest, its diluted with some dashes of misery.


Unallayed satisfactions are too Divine to be en­joyed any where, but where the Divinity it selfe Resides: For as to the happiness of this life, there is no one ultimate Object or summum Bonum, to the Acquisition whereof all other Goods do but con­tribute as Intermedial Instruments, but every thing that Ministers to our Contentment, is a Portion of our Soveraigne Happiness, which is nothing else but a mans present repose and satisfaction. I can not therefore but commend that Principle of some of the Cyrenaicks, that neither expected, nor [Page 11] pursued any other happiness in this life, beside what was to be found in every single action and affaire thereof. For all unanimously teach, that the tran­quillity and satisfaction of the mind, is the Soveraign happiness of this life, and yet that is onely an act of the mind exercised about its present objects, and not any distinct object thereof: But the Crea­tures are not replenished with that variety of per­fections as to be able to gratifie all our Appetites, much less with that infinite fulness as to be able to satisfie them: for alas! all Created Beings are but small fragments of perfection, which on­ly serve to support our Souls, till we arrive at the fruition of that Object, whose Prerogative it is to be adequate and satisfactory to all our desires and expectations. The Stoicks then for­get themselves, when they think an impossibility of being certainly and entirely happy here, such an insupportable Misery; when all things in this world are by the unalterable Lawes of Provi­dence imperfect, variable, and subject to the Vicissitudes of Fortune. Now Wise men, that consider the Nature and Inconstancy of things, will not designe to themselves more rai­sed degrees of Blessednesse, then the World can afford: but will be content to be as happy as their own Capacities, and the present Condition of things will permit and not fruitlesly aspire to heights [Page 12] of felicity, which they can never reach.

2. Though some smaller parcels of our happi­ness be beyond the command of our wills, yet the greater Portions thereof are not: for instance, all that in which the Stoicks place their whose feli­city; and that is pregnant enough of Tranquillity, to render our lives sedate and comfortable. What though some appendages of our happiness are out of our own reach, if the main body thereof be within it? Sure if Vertue be so Soveraign a good, as singly to compleat our felicity, it will be suffi­cient to support our repose in the absence of smal­ler helps and assistances; Why then should they deem our estate so deplorable, when we can be se­cure of our most important interests, though some lesser concernments be left to the disposal of fortune

3. 'Tis in our power to alleviate and qualifie those evils, which 'tis not in our power to escape. What though I can not avoid Sickness, Povertie, and Disgrace, yet I may by prudent reflection a­void being grieved at them, and may improve them to the benefit of Vertue and Wisdome? The mould of a mans Fortune is in his own hands, though the materials are not. Although a firm and health­ful habit of body be exceeding conducive to a chear­ful Tenor of mind, yet may I be chearful without it, though I might have been much more so with it. When I cannot suit events to my desires, I will [Page 13] suit my desires to them, I will compromise with those grievances which I cannot shun, and those blows of Fortune, I cannot ward off by Prudence, I will dead by meeting them with a hardy courage and resolution. I know I cannot bend the Laws of nature of my own will, there remains therefore no other remedie then that I sweeten and mollifie their rigour, by a cheerful and generous complyance with them, and so according to that vulgar, but very wise saying, Make a Vertue of necessity: and so that me­tal that's most solid and generous, is most malleable too. But (to dispatch) methinks it becomes not a dull Apathist to object that we should be disquieted with perpetual feares, if any parcel of our happiness should not be lock'd up within our own breasts: sure he might resolve, when there remain'd no other remedie, to cast himself into an insensible Apathy. How ever every man that premeditates the nature and uncertainty of things, will neither be so stupid, as to be surprised with any disaster, nor so silly as to double it by a fruitless anxiety, but will make the best of his condition by prudence and discretion.

2. A second thing for which I value the Plato­nists above all other Philosophers, is the innocent Gayety and Pleasantness of their Humours. For Whether I look into their Principles, or into their lives, I can see nothing but what is calme and [Page 14] cheerful. For beside that their complexions were generally brisk and spritely, the Genius of their Phi­losophie was free and facetious. It being one of its main principles, That as God had provided ineffa­ble pleasures for good men in the next world, so he had made liberal provisions for their entertain­ment in this, and consequently that this life affords enough to please, though not to satisfie; whence they were willing to enjoy all its innocent pleasures and sensualities, though they thought them not of any great concernment to such as were furnished with capacities of rising above it, and aspiring to heavenly delights. And thus you may see, how at the same time a wise man may enjoy the world and despise it too. And from this manly and Philo­sophick indifferency of life, resulted a handsome and generous contempt of death, for they did not so much defie it, out of a dogged neglect of life, as slite it out of a sober and Philosophick uncertainty, whe­ther it were better that they continu'd in their pre­sent happiness, or left it to enjoy more pure and generous delights. This was the main ground of Socrates's undaunted constancy in reference to death, because whether it were preferable before life, [...], it was uncertain and ambigu­ous to all but God alone, as Plato concludes his in­comparable Apologie. [...] (saies Euripides) [...]; Who knows whether [Page 15] is life to live or dye? To die, is to be born into another world, which every goodman may justly presume he shall find better then this. Though the main rea­son, why they were so willing to bid adieu to this present Stage of life, was an eager curiosity to be acquainted with the transactions and Phoenomena of the next. And methinks, had I no other Rule to guide my self by, then mere Philosophie, I could willingly play the Platonist in this particular: For though I am neither valiant nor miserable, and am as yet in my green and unexperienced years, and have tasted less of sensual delights, then (I believe) any one plac'd in the same capacities and circumstances with my self (for I have hitherto scarce employ'd any of my senses, but that of seeing) insomuch that though my Palate be not surfeited and cloy'd with the same repeated relishes, nor my Eye quite wea­ry of beholding the same repeated objects, yet I could be highly content (upon the account of a Phi­losophick curiosity) to leave this present Theatre, that I might enter upon the next, for the delight of being entertain'd with a new Scene of things. Socra­tes having been discoursing of the condi­tionIn Apolog. of good men after death adds [...], were I but sure of the truth of these things, I would die a thou­sand deaths, for an experimental knowledge of them. Besides the whole life of man is transacted [Page 16] in the short space of 24 hours, in the rest of his age he does but tread the same Stage over and over, the same businesses always returning in the same compass of time. Now any wise or generous per­son, that shall but reflect upon the best spent day of his whole life, will scarce find the business of it so enticing, as to make him over greedy of more of it. But a man that has been running in this Round several years, should (methinks) be so sick and weary of doing the same things over and over, as to be willing to be at Rest, or at least to change his Em­ployment; so that though life be no misery, yet be­cause there may be a satiety of it, deaths a privi­ledge. But for the Stoicks (that I may continue the parallel with their only Rivals in mortality) they founded their satisfaction upon a scornful & Frierly contempt of every thing, & are so injurious to their Creator, as to teach that he has provided nothing to entertain his Creatures with, but a few such childish empty trifles, as grave men (i. e. Stoicks) should scorn to tast, much less to feed upon. But though the Platonists are not so impious as to think that God made the world vain, yet they are so wise and observing, as to perceive that it has made it self so; and therefore I meet with no Sect raised so much above the admired and gaudy trifles of the vulgar, as they, nor any more confidently putting the worlds Pomp quite out of countenance by a [Page 17] handsome and free-spirited disdain, then they; nor any less concern'd in news, and the little transactions of humane affairs; Nor any better entertaining them­selves with the various and odd humours of man­kind, making dayly Comedies to themselves from the follies and little conceits of the inconsiderate many. Thus the spangled & glittering Squire, who came to Athens very brave and gallant, with a numerous train of Attendants, supposing himself fine enough to be adored by the Athenians, and to be reputed at least a Demi-God, was by the discreet and facetious Sa­tyrs of the Platonick Philosophers laughed out of his vanity, and reduc'd to discretion and sobriety. And thus the Platonist in Lucian raises mirth to himself from the several Acts of the Play; now he laughs at the Rich mans displaying his Purple, with his troublesome croud of poor-spirited Sycophants; anon pleasing himself with the disturbances and foolish madness of the Horse-race; & then with those pretty passages which happen at Funerals and ma­king of Wills; next at the silly pleasures of great Feasts and curious Entertainments; and then at the little tumults & odd contingencys at the Baths, &c. But to conclude this head, the Platonists were gene­rous souls, that being raised above the little con­cernments and under-Shreiveries of this life (as the Cardinals of Rome are pleased to stile all secular em­ployments) sate as unconcern'd spectators, looking [Page 18] down from aloft, with pity and disdain, upon the odd Carriage of humane affaires. And happy is he

—Celsâ qui mentis ab arce
Despicit errantes, humanaque gaudia ridet.

For no Prospect is so pleasant and delightful to the mind of man, as when he sees all the world below him, & beholds all others scrambling for aspiring to those things which himself contemns and tramples upon.

3. The third good quality of the Platonists, was their valuing good-nature at so high a rate, which though it be a constitution no less virtuous and excellent, then 'tis charming and amiable, yet the estimate they set upon it was proportionable to its real value. Whence resulted that exceeding delight they took in the Society of ingenious and sweet-natur'd young Gentlemen,V. Platonis Convivium. upon which score they pro­fest themselves as great Votaries to the Celestial Venus, as common Mortals are to the Earthly one, for their Amours were not kindled by lust and petulency (they being pro­fessedly the most generous contemners of Women in the world) but were pure and cleanly enough to become Angels and separated souls, Plato's Love-Laws forbidding to court any other objects then abstracted and intellectual Beauties. And Plotinus makes it the first ascent to wisdome,Ennead. 1. l. 3 to be affected with the meer proportions of Harmony abstracted from the sensible sound, and [Page 19] to be enamour'd with the features of beauty, without respect to the body, which they render beautiful. And yet hence some have taken occasion to slander Plato himself (together with his incomparable master Socrates) as guilty of that unnatural beastliness of the lustful Sodomites. Although Plato at the end of his Convivium has said as much to remove all suspi­cion from Socrates, as a matter of this nature is ca­pable of. And himself in his first book of Laws detests and strictly prohibits this [...] disho­nourable impurity as [...] a most unna­tural impudence. But the forementioned calumny had never gain'd any credit with us, had it not been re­ported by some of the Ancient Fathers, & yet it is too notorious to dissemble that they were not only very careless in their relations concerning the Philosophers, being apparently guilty of innumerable [...], but also in many Instances highly disinge­nious, insomuch that I find no Prose-writer to a­gree so much with their reports as Lucian, whose main design it was to abuse every body that was grave and sober. Which may a little appear by giving you an account of the original and progress of the forementioned slander. The first Authors then of this and other resembling reports were the Comick-Poets, who were persons of a free, droling, and Satyrical humour, and whose chief design in their Comedies, was to abuse men with roguish and [Page 20] unlucky Stories; whatever was their Argument, their Plot was always Satyr. They therefore who flourished about the time of the Peloponesian Warr, when the government of Athens was popular, were wont to traduce the great and rich men of the City: But when the Grandees were grown too big to be brought upon the Stage (by the alteration of the Government into an Aristocracy) they betook them­selves to abuse former Poets, and in that Age, Homer was sufficiently lashed; but afterwards, when Phi­losophie began to flourish, the Philosophers (upon every small quarrel that hapned between them and the Poets) were brought upon the Stage, and per­secuted with all their Satyrs. And thus this foul charge of Sodomy, wherewith Socrates has been so loudly impeach'd, was nothing else but an abusive invention of Aristophanes, who having an implacable picque against him, endeavour'd by all means to render him both odious and ridiculous: For Socra­tes being of a grave and severe humour did not a little dis-relish the vanity and looseness of the Stage, whereupon Aristophanes the Poet Laureat of that Age, was so netled, that he immediately left the old Comical Argument of droling upon former Poets, and set himself to abuse the Philosophers, but especially Socrates, all whose actions he continually persecuted with sharp and unlucky Satyrs. And therefore whereas Socrates was wont to take home to himself, [Page 21] the most ingenious & spritely Youths, he could meet with, to bestow upon them an Education propor­tionable to their parts, Aristophanes (with too much foulness for any Ingenuous Person) represents him as one that pickt up the loveliest youths, to the foulest and most beastly purposes. And whereas Socrates taught, that God was to be sought after in Heaven, and not in their Images. Aristophanes perstringes him as one that Worshiped the Clouds, and to this end he Wrote his [...] only to abuse Socrates and his Gods. Neither did their Malice rest here, but proceeded to Death and Banishment; for the Poets had the greatest hand in the impeach­ment of Socrates; and Melitus, that was his most ve­hement Accuser, was one of Aristophanes's Players. And a while after (about the CXX. Olimpiad) one Sophocles, a Pragmatical Fellow of the Poetick Facti­on, procured a Decree for the Banishment of all the Philosophers from Athens, which took effect, till at length the Controversie being fairly debated before the Senate, the cause of the Philosophers seem'd so apparently innocent to them, that they immediately caused the Decree to be cancelled, or­dered that the Philosophers should be speedily cal­led home, and fined Sophocles five Talents. Now, though the Fathers could never meet with any such filthy Relations in sober and impartial Hi­storians, yet because they apprehended (though [Page 22] very ineptly) that it made for the Interest of Chri­stianity, that the best men among the Heathens should be but bad enough; rather then be destitute of competent Testimonies against Socrates, (the most eminent instance of Ethnick Vertue) they would cite them from such as were not only his Enemies, but Poets and Satyrists too; i. e. from those who were not onely obliged by their design to abuse all men, especially the wiser and more serious sort, but also were incensed with a peculiar spite and malice against him. Any one therefore that is ac­quainted with the Genius of the Grecian Comedy in general, and with this now mentioned Contest of the Philosophers and Comedians in particular, will be far from thinking their Satyres a sufficient Te­stimony against any mans morality. And there­fore some of our modern Criticks are not very kind to the Philosophers, when they think a good part of the Philosophick History is to be collected out of the Ancient Comedians. Having consum'd so many lines in Vindicating our Philosophers chastity, I shall wave adding any farther Evidences of the goodness of their Natures; onely give me leave to throw in this single item thereof, that in the Plato­nick History you may meet with more instances of true Philosophick & Heroick Friendship, then in all the world beside. They were indeed generally some­what too fond of their Friends, & it was their expres­sing [Page 23] the offices of Friendship and Good-Nature (by way of Allusion) in amorous terms, that gave too much ground for the forementioned slander.

And now (Sir) how much will this Excellent Quality recommend them to our esteem, when we consider at how high a rate our Blessed Saviour him­self valued it? If we look into his Laws, what are they but so many injunctions to the several instances of good nature, Mildness, Patience, Mercifulness, Hu­mility, Candor, Ingenuity? His new and peculiar Precept is, That we should love one another, and be kind not onely to Friends, but Enemies. And therefore a peevish ill-natur'd Christian, is the grea­test contradiction in the World. Peevishness be­ing the greatest reproach and weakness of humane Nature, and most contrary to the temper of the Divine Mind: So that they, who, not long since, were wont to discourse, that the Saints or People of God (i. e. That sort of people who can be De­vout and Godly, without being Vertuous) are in­deed peevish here, but in Heaven this imperfecti­on shall be removed, might as well have told us, that the Saints are Drunkards here, but in Heaven they shall be Temperate; the Saints are Cheats and Knaves here, but in Heaven they shall be Honest; the Saints are Adulterers here, but in Heaven they shall be Chast; for an habitual Peevishness is as inconsistent with the design of Christianity, as the [Page 24] sins of an habitual dishonesty, Drunkenness, and A­dultery. And then if we look into our Saviours life, the unparallel'd civility and obligingness of his Deportment, seems to be almost as high an Evi­dence of the Truth and Divinity of his Doctrine, as his unparallel'd Miracles were; For 'tis altoge­ther unimaginable that so sweet-natur'd a Person should be such a base and profligate Impostor, as he must have been, if he had been one. And a­mong all his Favourites, it was the Gentle and sweet-natur'd St. Iohn that was his darling Disci­ple; whilst we often find him checking Peters rude and unmannerly Zeal.

But all this while, by good Nature, I do not bare­ly design a sweet Complexion and temperament of Body, (though that is an happy advantage to Ver­tue) but such a Divine and Gracious temper of Mind as produces a sincere kindness and benevo­lence towards all men. 'Tis the fairest Character and Imitation of the Deity, that distributes his Bounty to all, and like his own Sun, shines upon the Just and Unjust. 'Tis a Catholick Charity that enfolds the whole world in the Arms of love and kindness. Only there are some persons of such pe­vish and self confined Spirits, that will not suffer themselves to be embraced by those, whose unboun­ded embraces equally comprehend all, and disdain to be but the partial objects of an impartial Love. [Page 25] These men confine the displays of their love and tenderness, within the narrow and contracted Cir­cumference of a small party, and Excommunicate the residue of Mankind as unworthy their charity, and think it a great pollution to entertain any kind thoughts for any besides themselves, confining the Elect within the walls of Rome or Geneva: Now against such testy and irregular Spirits, the sweetest Natures have the greatest Antipathies, not from any malice or bitterness against their Persons, but from a true Zeal, for largness and ingenuity of Spirit, and a real hatred against all those Pestilent qualities that tend to supplant or de­stroy it. Whence the Blessed Iesus (who was the highest and most matchless Patterne of all the In­stances of Good-Nature) was remarkably sharp and severe in his Invectives against the Pharisees; because these Ill-natured Fellows despised and scor­ned all that were not of their Sect, endeavouring to confine all Goodness to their own Faction, and looking upon the rest of Mankind, as a rout of vile and worthless Reprobates. Now, though our Sa­viour could win and oblige Publicans and Harlots, (persons of the most debauch't and loosest lives) by his mild and sweet Deportment, yet when He had to do with these holy Pharisaical Zelots, his usual Language was, Ye Scribes and Pharisees, Hy­pocrites, ye are of your Father the Devil. There be­ing [Page 26] nothing more hateful to God, then a high pre­tender to Religion, void of Charity and true Good­ness.

I have heard some men (of a bitter and envious Complexion, that have too much Gall to have the Innocence of Doves, and that through the bitter­ness of their own Spirits, cannot rellish the sweet­ness of Good-Nature) enveigh against the advan­cing of Good-Nature, as if it were a more neat and secret designe of undermining the Interests of Religion, and advancing those of Atheism. A Ca­lumny as absurd as 'tis impious: For how can that undermine Religion, which is its prime intend­ment? Can any designe be injur'd or defeated by its intrinsick and proper end? And what more evi­dent, then that one of the main purposes of Chri­stianity, is to sweeten and refine our Natures? What does our Lawgiver more vehemently and frequently urge, then Meekness, Mercifulness, Hu­mility, and other resembling Instances of Good-Nature? What bids greater defiance to the genu­ine Spirit of Christianity, then rude, churlish, and ungentile Peevishness? What more lovely in the Blessed Iesus then the sweetness and obligingness of his Conversation? What did he ever more inveigh against, then an uncivil and Pharisaical Zeal, how­soever otherwise sincere and cordial? so that if to urge upon men the practice of Good-natur'd Qua­lities [Page 27] be to supplant Christianity, then Christianity must supplant and contradict it self.

But men have unhappily of late Christned a sort of sulphureous and Fanatique fire, by the name of Zeal: And when once their minds are tainted and enraged by this hot devotional Zeal, 'tis as natural to them to be rude and base-natur'd, as 'tis to Dogs and Tigres. Zeal is a fire in the Soul, which un­less qualified and slaked by meekness and a calm-nature, doth not only prey upon the mind, and de­vour its intellectual Powers, and enflame all the Passions, but its rage breaks forth, and sets whole States and Kingdoms into a combustion, and re­duces the whole World to Ashes; the greatest Zealots always proving the greatest Incendiaries; so that what Homer sayes of the Syrian Star, is not more true of any thing then this fiery Zeal,

Iliad. [...].

4. A fourth preheminence of the Platonists (that I may insist on no more) is their readiness & ability in the smaller Morals, by which I mean their skill in all the Arts of behaviour and conversation. For though I have sufficiently experienced a modest shamefacedness, and uncoothness in ceremonial ad­dresses, to be the natural and unavoidable results of privacy, (as all Metals contract rust by lying) yet the Platonists, notwithstanding their contemplative [Page 28] retiredness, were not inferior to the most polished Courtiers, in the neatness and complaisance of their Deportment. Which I am apt to ascribe chiefly to the readiness and pregnancy of their Fancies; for though a sound and steddy Judgment (which rarely goes in company with subtil and flashy imaginati­ons) is the most useful and commanding ability in businesse, yet 'tis the quick and spritely fancy that takes and commands most in converse. A strong ready wit, with a bold and plausible Tongue, shall win more respect and reputation, then all other more valuable and emproving accomplishments, if wan­ting these advantages. Besides, they did not spend all their time and diligence in Bookishness, which renders Schollars soft, silly, unexperienced things, but proposing to themselves ability and judgment in business, as one main end of Study; they rather used their Learning, then admired it, according to that Aphorism of my Lord Bacon, Crafty men contemn stu­dies, simple men admire them, & wise men use them. But the main ground of their good-meen, was their being blest with all the advantages of nature & education. Were it not too tedious to run through the whole succession of the Academy from the first rise thereof to its utmost period, it would not be difficult to re­present to you, how every member thereof super­induced to a pure complexion, and a gentile educati­on the advantages of Travel and severe Study; and [Page 29] what more could be desired to compleat them in all the Realities and Ornaments of Humane Na­ture? As Plato himself was of so well-temper'd a complexion, that he chose an unhealthy place of re­sidence, for a check and revulsion to his too high and luxuriant habit of Body, and yet liv'd to a great age unacquainted with sickness and diseases, and at last this Socratick Swan expired insensibly in a plea­sant contemplation: Est etiam (saies Cicero) quietae & purae atque eleganter actae aetatis placida ac lenis sene­ctus, qualem accepimus Platonis, qui uno & octuages­simo aetatis anno scribens mortuus est. And then for his Parentage, though I do as little credit that he was begot either by Apollo or by a Spectre in his shape, as I do that he was born of a Virgin Mother (and yet both are reported by many Authors, and seem to be believed by more) yet 'tis past doubt that his ex­traction was from two of the most Antient and most Noble Families in Athens, his Mother Peri­ctione being of the race of Solon, and his Father Ari­sto of the Family of the Codri. And then for his Edu­cation he was no Athenian Cockney, but was So­crates's darling favourite, Travelled into all parts of the Learned World, resided a considerable time in the Court of Dionysius, where he was both admi­red and envied by the Courtiers for the unaffected Gracefulness of his addresses, and some say the rea­son why he received so bad usage from the Tyrant, [Page 30] was that he excell'd him so far in all the Arts and charms of conversation, that he seem'd to be almost as much respected and admired as himself. For he knew how to be facetious without being vaine or trifling, & how to be serious without being soure or morose, his behaviour was alwaies mild and courte­ous, his humour alwaies cheerful and uniform, and his gravity at an equal distance from moroseness & vanity; to be brief, he was entirely adorn'd with all the accomplishments that can command either love or honour. And then for Plotinus, his deport­ment (as Porphyrie relates in his life) was so gentile that his Audience was composed of a confluence of the Noblest and most Illustrious Personages in Rome; his integrity so eminent, that he was depu­ted over-seer to most of their Wills, and Arbitrator in most of their Controversies, and yet mannaged all with that Candor, Prudence, and Sincerity, as that he neither lost one Friend, nor Purchased one Enemy in five and twenty years Residence at Rome, For the rest of his life consult Porphyrie and Eunapius. For the life of Porphyrie, I refer you to Eunapius, but yet I cannot omit this single instance of the goodness of his humour, that after an ob­stinate conflict, and many reiterated controversial Rencounters with Amelius, as soon as he was con­vinced that Truth and Amelius stood together, he neither scrupled to make a Publick Recantation [Page 31] then, nor to record it to Posterity, that himself was bafled (as he has done in the Life of Plotinus) then which we scarce know a greater instance of an Heroick Candour. For Proclus consult his Scholar Marinus the Neopolitan, and Philostratus the younger De vitis Sophistarum (I say the younger, because he was Nephew to him that wrote the History of A­pollonius Tyanaeus, though they be usually confoun­ded upon the Authority of that careless Rhapsodist Suidas, who has been the Author of infinite other resembling mistakes) lastly consult Eunapius for the lives of AEdesius, Iamblicus, Sopater, (Constan­tines unhappy favourite) Eustathius, and his eminent wife Sosipatra (of whom so many strange stories are reported,) Crispus one of Iulian's Courtiers, a man of eminent prudence and policy, Oribasius, Iulians Physician, Maximus and Chrysanthius his great Favourites, the former whereof, was an eminent Courtier, during the time of Iulian's Reign, & after­wards (I fear too much) an instance of Christian Cru­elty and Revenge; though the generous Chrysan­thius could never be courted from his Philosophick retirements by all the Emperours importunity: Pro­aeresius, who was so famous an Orator, that the City of Rome erected to him a publick Statue of Brass with this inscription, Regina Rerum Roma, Regi Eloquentiae. Hephaestion, Himerius, Libanius, Nymphi­dianus, &c. and you will find them such a [Page 32] succession of Gentile, Vertuous, and Generous Persons, that the Ethnick world cannot shew the like. To these I might add the novel restorers of Platonism; for as the Platonick succession expired not long after the reign of Iulian, having received its mortal wound from Constantine, who dissolved their Scholes and dispersed their Professors; so about the fourteenth Centurie, it began to revive and to wrestle with Aristotle's Philosophie: for some of the Grecian Prelates, that then sate in the Council of Flo­rence (call'd to reconcile the Greek and the Latine Churches) seeing all other Philosophie quite dashed out of Countenance in these Western Parts by the Aristotelian, they were not a little zealous to restore that of Plato, whence arose the disputes between Georgius Trapezuntius, and Georgius Scholarius on the behalf of Aristotle, and Bessarion Bishop of Nice, (made Cardinal for his eminent services in the Coun­cil) and Gemistus Pletho on the behalf of Plato. But Pletho getting into favour with Laurentius Cosmo the great Duke, inspired him with such a mighty zeal for the Platonick Philosophie, that he immediate­ly devoted young Ficinus (Son to one of his chiefest Phisicians) to its Restauration, and educated him accordingly; and invited that worthy Heroe Io­hannes Picus the Earle of Mirandula, Georgius Vespu­sius, Christophorus Landinus, Angelus Politianus, and others to Florence, where they erected an Academie. [Page 33] Which, with much more, you may meet with in the extant Epistles of the Earl of Mirandula, Marsilius Ficinus, and Angelus Politanus. But I proceed, though the Platonists could Artificially conform their Behaviour to the more refined and Gentile sort of Men, yet as for that salvage Beast, the Po­pular Rout, they valued no more to please them, then to gratifie Wolves or Tigres; for really (Sir) folly is so moulded into the Constitution of the com­mon and mechanical sort of men, that that Phi­losopher must be well-nigh as absurd as they, who supposes them capable of wisdom, when they have scarce wit or judgment enough to think a thought, that is not inept and ridiculous. Their childish and froward humour is not unhandsomely display­ed by Charon. ‘All that they think is Vanity, all that they say is false and erroneous; that they re­prove is good, that they approve is naught; that which they praise is infamous, that which they do and undertake is folly.’ So that 'tis not pos­sible for any man, who aspires to wisdom, to con­descend to any compliance with their base and ab­surd humours. And therefore these Sons of wis­dome were [...]egardless of them, as of Apes and Baboons.

But now for the Stoicks, their Conversation was insolent and supercilious, their looks affected and artificial, their Deportment was such a soure and [Page 34] morose behaviour, as the vulgar stile gravity. And I think Iosephus was not much mistaken, when he describ'd the rude and ill-natur'd Pharisees by com­paring them with the Stoicks, [...] (sayes he, describing his own Sect) [...]. For as the supercilious Pharisees accoun­ted their own Sect the only School of Sanctity, so the Stoicks esteem'd themselves the onely Sons of wisdom, and all others Children, Fools, and Mad­men. I might both evidence these things by several particular instances, and add several other Prerogatives of the Platonick Morality, but because I fear I have more need to beg your pardon for having been already so tedious, I shall onely tell you, that you may find the fairest and exactest Idea and Picture thereof in the Life and Precepts of Socrates, the several linea­ments of which lie scattered and diffused in Plato's Writings, but are pretty handsomly collected into one Table in a late French discourse of Mr. Iulien Davion, Entitled, Le Crayon du Christianisme en la Philosophie de Socrate.

And now I proceed to the ne [...] [...]art of my Task, their Logick, of which my censure is brief­ly this, That as Plato's manner of arguing is more succinct then the tedious way of Syllogising, so 'tis not less sure and evident; for what discourse can [Page 35] proceed with greater evidence and conviction, then after you have explain'd the Terms of the Que­stion, and agreed with your Adversary about the matter debated of, to propose to him some Principles so clear and palpable, that they shall either presuppose or enforce his assent, and from thence to lead him by Induction through a se­ries of propositions depending upon and orderly deduced from your first Proleptick Principles, till he is fairly brought or unawares betrayed in­to an unavoidable necessity of assenting to the Truth you assert? Which is the method that Plato pretends to. I must confess that arguing by Syllogismes is more sutable to Youths and Novices in Reason, but 'tis far more Elegant and Manly, to mannage a few short Interrogatories with that dexterity and strength of Reason, as thereby to di­stress your Adversary so far, as to force him either to Seal to your Opinion, or to retract his own for­mer concessions: For in the former Method, the Disputant moves on by slow Progressions, and takes a great compass about to approach and get up to his Enemy; but in the latter his motion is quick and nimble, and the engagement so direct and smart, that it cannot be closely pursued, but by Persons very expert and knowing in the Art and Laws of Reasoning.

But some that make the best Laws, are not al­wayes [Page 36] their best observers. Thus though Plato's discoursings about practical matters are exceeding handsome and pertinent, yet when he treats of spe­culative Notions, his rules of arguing could not be more strict, close, and exact, then his Argumenta­tions were wide,In his Plato Ex­otericus. lose, and incoherent: When Patricius confidently asserts Pla­to's demonstrations in his Parmenides to be so strong and undeniable, Ut nullae tales apud Mathematicum ullum reperiantur; I commend his confidence, but dare not contradict his assertion, because I think it unhandsome to contradict in a matter, which I dare not be very confident I understand. But when Cardinal Bessarion asserts,Adv. Calum. l. 1. c. 5. Totum Platonis Timaeum ex syllogismis demonstrativis con­stare; I who have read over that discourse with as much caution and attention as I could, dare (by the Cardinals leave) pronounce that there is not one demonstrative syllogisme in the whole Book; nay that there is not one true and valid Argument, but that the whole discourse is weak and incoherent: And (to speak out plainly) that Person will much oblige me, that shall direct me to one material ra­tiocination about speculative Theories in all Plato's Writings, where I cannot shew him some manifest flaw or other. For they either (1.) bottome upon uncertain and inevident Principles, as they generally do; but because there can be no certainty in the [Page 37] conclusion, without a certainty in the premises, and the certainty of intermediate propositions de­pends upon the first, if that be uncertain, the whole trayn of Inferences deduced from it, (though aptly connected to each other) must needs be so too. Or else (2.) they are circular, as in his Meno he bot­tomes the Souls Reminiscency of those Ideas, it conversed with in a former state, upon its presup­posed Immortality; and yet in his Phaedo, he fairly argues for the Souls Immortality from its presup­posed Reminiscency. And any one that peruses his Writings warily, will find them to abound with infinite such Circles. Or (3.) he wanders into matters remote and impertinent to the Subject and Argument of his Discourse, roving into disputes of a quite distant nature from the Question in debate; or beating about through wild, intricate and uncertain Ambages, or taking a wide and tedious compass to pursue and drive a trivial word into its proper sig­nification. Though perhaps this charge will admit of an Apologie. Because most of his disputes were mannaged against the Sophists of that age, who made it their whole business to maintain wrangles by tricks and shifts of words, and therefore who­ever undertook to dispute against them, must of necessity be ingaged in word quarrels. And hence it was that Plato does almost every where take such large compasses meerly to vindicate the [Page 38] signification of a single word against their idle cavils, and though sometimes he may pursue his task pres­ly and coherently, yet because of the small impor­tance of the matter debated of, his discourse must needs be both very tedious and not very profitable. Or else (5.) there is some flaw and incoherence in some of the intermediate propositions, which must needs marre the chain of his whole Discourse: For the certain knowledge of Consequences is only condi­tional, and supposes the Truth of Premises, so that where any Proposition is false, there the coherence ceases, and all conclusions that follow it are absurd, because incoherent. But if I should give you a Ca­talogue of his Circular arguings, incoherences, con­tradictions, non-consequences, and all other viola­tions of the Laws of Reasoning, I must send you a Volumn as vast as his. And besides it would not be less fruitless then tedious, and might seem to aim at no other design, but merely his disparagement. But yet that you may not suspect me of rashness in drawing up so big a charge against so eminent a per­son without being able to back it with a proportiona­ble evidence, I suppose it will not be impertinent to give you a competent proof of it, if I can perform it without being tedious. Which may be done by pro­posing one instance and referring you to an Author, that will supply you with infinite more, if you think it worth the while to examine them. The Instance I [Page 39] shall give you, is the known and famous Argument for the Souls Immortality in his Phaedrus. [...]. The sence of which words is fully and more plainly contained in this Analysis, The Soul is always in motion; that which is always in motion, is self moving; that which is self­moving, is never deserted of it self; that which never deserts it self, never ceases to move; that which never ceases to move, is the source and origine of all motion; that which is the source of all motion has no beginning; and that which has no beginning can have no ending. To omit that every Proposition is either false, or un­certain, or incoherent, as your self will easily ob­serve, judge whether we are not likely to have a mighty proof of the Souls immortality, when it must be resolved into its own self-subsistence.

The Author I shall refer you to, is Iohannes [Page 40] Baptista Crispus his Quinarius Primus de Ethnicis Philosophis caute Legendis. 'Tis a Book of no small bulk, containing above 500 pages in folio, and yet the main business of it is to display the defectiveness of Plato's arguings: Where you may be supplyed with infinite apparent & palpable instances thereof if you will be at the pains to read and consider them. We might possibly have had a better account in Theo­pompus his Book [...], of which thus Athenaeus 11. 15. [...]. Theopompus in his Book against the Platonick Discipline and Institution, maintains that a great many of Plato's Dialogues are trifling and false, and that many others of them are stoln out of the Discourses of Aristippus, or Antisthenes, or Bryson of Heraclea.

After this brief account of Plato's Logick, I come now to his Natural Philosophie, in which I shall en­deavour all possible brevity, because this part, as well as the former, doth not so directly concern my present design, the intendment of my charge being chiefely against his Natural Theologie. But that my Discourse may be entire in all its parts, and regular in its method, I shall to my account of his Logick cast in this of his Physiologie. Which will be sufficiently display'd and disparaged too, by telling [Page 41] you that in its main strokes it accords with the Aristotelean Philosophie; a parallel between them was asserted and demonstrated by Am­monius, Porphyrie, Hierocles, V. Phot. eclog. CCLI. and others of the sacred succession among the An­cients, and among Modern Writers has been attemp­ted by Foxius, Carpentarius, Marronius, Buratellus and others. The Retail of instances you may see in them, but he that tells you in gross that they agree in one Principle, by which alone they solve all the ap­pearances and productions of Nature, tells you all. For as Aristotle resolves all Phaenomena into his Forms, (which he starts from the Bosome of mat­ter) so Plato solves all by the Soul of the Universe and Ideas, (which in Greek are all one with Forms.) For the Mechanical Hypotheses having been probably advanced to a considerable Grandeur by Leucippus and Democritus (of whom Plato makes not any men­tion in all his Writings) and other Ancient Vertuosi, these two great and ambitious Wits, Plato and Aristotle, designing a Philosophical Empire to themselves scorn'd to be so meanly employ'd, as only to improve other mens principles, and therefore endeavoured to amuse the world with new ones, which they knew others could as little confute, as themselves could prove, by reason of their obscuri­ty and remoteness from sence. How little Aristotle intended his Forms should be understood is already [Page 42] infinitely notorious, and how little mind Plato had that it should be ever known what kind of Thing his Universal Soul is, is as notoriously apparent from his descriptions of it, which are nothing else but some odd fantastick Schemes of numerical figures and proportions, as you may see in both the Ti­maeus's; where 'tis highly pleasant to read how se­riously he prescribes the Method of its Composi­tion out of numerical Ingredients. Take (saith he) all the numbers which make up Musical propor­tions, as Diapasons, Diapente's, Diatesserons, and an infinite number more, but be especially careful not to omit the double [...], that which arises by e­ven proportions, as 1, 2, 4, 8, &c. and that whose proportions run into odd numbers, as 1, 3, 9, 27, &c. Mix and pound them together with all possi­ble exactness, and if you find any void spaces be­tween the even and odd numbers, fill them with the smallest [...] (which are some very fine and mi­nute fragments) and when you have wrought all ex­ceeding exactly into the shape of the Letter I, di­vide it in the middle long ways into two equal parts, cross them in the form of the Letter X, and be sure to fasten them very strongly at the Commissure, and then bow all four joynts, till at length you make them so pliable, as to bring them into a Spherical figure, and then 'tis brought to a right Animary Temper and Harmony. If this description (to [Page 43] what ever purpose 'tis design'd) be not prodigiously silly and ridiculous, pray tell me what is. And yet this sensless insignificant Jargon is made the sole and intimate Principle of all Natural Events. All Motions, Generations, Corruptions, Alterations, Sympathies, Antipathies, the properties of Bo­dies, the figure of the Heavens, the systeme of the Stars, the motions of the Planets, Eclipses, Co­mets, Meteors, The roundness of the Earth, the Flux and Reflux of the Sea, the Original of Ri­vers and Fountains, the Generation of Winds, Thunder, Lightning, Clouds, Rain, Haile, Snow, Ice, Dew, Petrification, the wonders of the Mag­net, the Generation and Transmutation of Me­tals, the Powers and Specifick Vertues of Plants, the Variety of Animals, their Origine, their Shapes, their Nutrition, their Faculties, The Qualities of the Elements, Heat, Cold, Gravi­ty, Levity, Fluidity, Firmness, Rarity, Density, Perspicuity, Opacity, Hebetude, Subtilty, Smooth­ness, Asperity, Hardness, Softness, Stubbornness, Flexibility, Light, Colours, Sounds, Tasts, Smells, and all other Phaenomena of Nature are only so many Tricks of this Magical kind of Soul. If I could have satisfied my self it had been to any purpose, I should have given you an account of his enormous absurdities in all the forementioned parti­culars, as they are discoursed of in his Timaeus, which [Page 44] contains the whole Body of his Natural Philosophy. But I shall beg your leave to dismiss this Theme, partly because none have more professedly disclaim­ed the Platonick Physiologie, then they that stickle most for his other Whimsies, partly because the Aristotelian Philosophy having been of late so shame­fully bafled, this which agrees so much with it in its main Principles, and more in its Genius, must of necessity perish together with it, and so will as little need as deserve any particular confutation; partly because their Physiologie is well nigh purely Theological; The Platonists alwayes Treating of [...]. as Proclus obser­ves; so that in ventilating and sifting their Theolo­gie, I must also of necessity discuss their Natural Philosophie, which is every where so intimately mingled with it; but chiefly because I am lately grown such a despairing Sceptick in all Physiological Theories, that I cannot concern my self in the Truth or Falshood of any Hypotheses. For though I pre­fer the Mechanical Hypotheses before any other, yet me thinks their contexture is too slight and brit­tle to have any stress laid upon them; and I can resemble them to nothing better then your Glass drops, from which, if the least portion be broken, the whole Compages immediately dissolves and shat­ters into Dust and Atoms; for their parts, which rather lie then hang together, being supported only [Page 45] by the thin filme of a brittle Conjecture (not an­neal'd by experience and observation) if that fail any where, the whole Systeme of the Hypothesis unavoidably shatters: And how easie a thing it is to spoil the prettiest conjecture, is obvious to the most vulgar observer. The cheif reason therefore, why I prefer the Mechanical and Experimental Philosophie before the Aristotelean, is not so much because of its so much greater certainty, but be­cause it puts inquisitive men into a method to at­tain it, whereas the other serves only to obstruct their industry by amusing them with empty and insignificant Notions. And therefore we may ra­tionally expect a greater Improvement of Natural Philosophie from the Royal Society, (if they pursue their design) then it has had in all former ages; for they having discarded all particular Hypotheses, and wholly addicted themselves to exact Experiments and Observations, they may not only furnish the World with a compleat History of Nature, (which is the most useful part of Physiologie) but also laye firm and solid foundations to erect Hypotheses upon, (though perhaps that must be the work of future Ages:) at least we shall see whether it be possible to frame any certain Hypotheses or no, which is the thing I most doubt of, because, though the Expe­riments be exact and certain, yet their Application to any Hypotheses is doubtful and uncertain; so that [Page 46] though the Hypothesis may have a firm Basis to bot­tome upon, yet it can be fastned and cemented to it no other way, but by conjecture and uncertaine (though probable) applications, and therefore I doubt not but we must at last rest satisfied with true and exact Histories of Nature for use and practice; and with the handsomest and most probable Hypo­theses for delight and Ornament.

And now I pass over to the main design of these Papers, which is to give an account of the Platonick Theologie: The Civil Part whereof, viz. That which concerns their Publick Worship, I shall omit, For all the Religious Observations of their Coun­try being trifling, obscene, or inhumane, their tem­porising Conformity to them, stands upon Record as one of their greatest Blemishes: Though it must be confessed that the Platonists were of all men the greatest Refiners and Improvers of Helenisme; in­stead of rude and barbarous Usages, introducing civil and more modest Ceremonies. And yet the latter Platonists, or second School of Plato, degene­rated into the basest and foulest Superstition, being the greatest Patrons of Theurgical Rites and Magical Arts, or rather Iugling Tricks, (for whatever they were, they could be no better) especially those of them that did most Pythagorise, As Apollonius Ty­anaeus, that grand stickler for Ethnicisme; Iambli­cus, one of their Famousest Devoto's; Iulianus the [Page 47] Syrian, Sirnamed Theurgus, from his Eminent knowledge and agility in Magical Tricks, were great Zealots for the Pythagorean Philosophie. But if you look into Eunapius, you will see, that not only these, but the Emperour Iulian, Porphyrie, Maximus, Libanius, Amelius, Sopater, AEdesius, Chrysanthius, and others were Zealous Asserters of this Magical kind of Jugling, chiefly (as 'tis supposed) to con­front the Christian Religion, and the Miracles on which it stood. But I forbear to prosecute this Theme, my intention being not to discourse of their publick and political actions, but only of their pri­vate sentiments.

Their Theologie then consisted of two parts; Practical, or that which concerns Theological Ver­tues; and Speculative, or that which concerns spe­culations about Theological matters. Which two parts integrate a Body of Divinity not unlike to that of King Ptolomies man in Lucian, who was one half perfectly black, and the other exceeding white; so that part of their Theologie, which relates to pra­ctice, is eminently clear and perspicuous, whilst that which is employed in Theorie and Contem­plation is monstrously dark and obscure. This lat­ter I shall endeavour to evince more largely in the sequel of my discourse; but for a brief evidence of the first, take this short Catalogue of their Senti­ments concerning Religion, which are such as these.

[Page 48] Its main design is to perfect and dignifie humane Nature, 'tis consonant to our Natural Reasons, complies with our Natural Necessities, relieves our Natural Wants. It consists in living up to our Faculties, and acting as becomes Rational Be­ings; In clearing the Soul from prejudices and prepossessions, and pursuing Truth with an honest and impartial Simplicity: In following the Con­duct of Reason, and being confident in its Gui­dance, seeing the Condition of him that does so is as secure, as 'tis certain that Infinite Goodness can­not be angry with him, that has endeavour'd with all faithfulness and diligence to know and do his Duty. It resides in the Mind and Spirit, not in Customes and bare Ceremonies. It is Free and In­genuous, not Slavish and Troublesome, because it flows from a true Love of God and Goodness. It is truly Noble and Generous, and requires of us to act suitable to the Dignity of rational Beings, to keep up the Splendour and Grandeur of our Natures, and to scorn any Action that's unhand­some, or unworthy our Station and Quality: It commands us onely to live like Men, and forbids us nothing but what makes us Brutes or Devils. It teaches us to imitate and resemble the Divine Perfections, to be God-like in Wisdom, and Ju­stice, and Goodness, in Meekness, and Pity, and Clemency, in Kindness and Patience, in forgiving [Page 49] Injuries, and Pardoning Enemies, in doing hurt to no Man, and doing good to every Man. It inter­dicts us not any Innocent Delights, but onely re­strains the Extravagancies of our Passions and Ap­petites. It is the most conducive Instrument in the world to the pleasures of both Mind and Body; Infelicities (though Providence were banish't the World) being the Spontaneous Issues of Vile Pra­ctices; and Sin the Natural Womb of Punishment; it therefore permits (unless in some special contin­gencies) all Corporeal Pleasures, as far as they are healthful and pleasant, and debars us of no delights, but those that are destructive of the Tranquillity of our Minds, or Indolency of our Bodies. It produ­ces a sweet and gracious temper of Mind, that causes an universal benevolence and kindness to Mankind. It makes us Affable, Humble, Cour­teous, Charitable, Moderate, Prudent, Unpassi­onate. It consists of Love, Candour, Ingenuity, Clemency, Patience, Mildness, and all other In­stances of Good-Nature. It detests nothing more then a Peevish, Froward, Morose, Uncivil, Pas­sionate, Furious, Talkative, Fanatick Zeal. It begets a true Liberty and Freedome of Spirit. It Exempts us from all effeminate Fears and Scru­ples, and begets the greatest Serenity and Chear­fulness of Mind. It instructs us to dread no Evil from God, but to look upon Him as an infinitely [Page 50] Gracious and Benigne Being, that designs nothing more then the happiness and perfection of his Crea­tures; that Transacts with Mankind by gentle and paternal Measures, and that is so far from tying upon us Niceties and Scruples, that he pities our Infirmities, and bids us to concern our selves onely about plain and palpable Duties. It is the most spritely and vivacious thing in the world, driving away all sad and gloomy Melancholly, begetting in us a firm and rational Confidence, and the inef­fable joys of a good Conscience. It advances the Soul to its Just Power and Dominion, and enables it to govern all Corporeal Appetites, and therefore enjoyns us above all things to shun Intemperance, not only for its own Intrinsique Baseness, but for its mischeivous Effects; because it naturally so debauches and dulls our Reasons, as to disable them for all good and vertuous Actions. For Religion is pure, cleanly and spiritual; but an intemperate sensuality is nasty, sottish, and makes the mind of man cheap and foolish, and unapt for any thing that is Manly, Generous, and Rational, and so is the greatest Impediment to all the ends and Exercises of Religion, which directly tends to the enobling of our Natures, the fortifying of our Reasons, the subduing of all our lower and sottish Appetites, the advancing of our manly and intellectual Abili­ties, in any thing that renders us less like Beasts, and [Page 51] more like men. But as for Intemperance, that does by a natural necessity besot and weaken the vigour of our Reasons, and so directly thwart all the ends of Religion, for it either stupifies or en­rages our Spirits, either stuffing our Bodies with dull, watry, and flatulent humours, or putting their Ferments into irregular and extravagant motions. I have often known a rude, wild, dissolute, chole­rick, ungovernable Spirit enter into persons (other­wise of a well-inclin'd Complexion) by no other way then a wide and devouring Throat. To con­clude, our work in this World is to see that the [...] maintain its own Authority against all the assaults of rude and barbarous Passions; that it tame and civilize that wild and salvage Beast, to which Providence has tyed it, that by a compleat Victory over all ignoble and unhandsome motions of the brutish Faculties, it may be in a manner re­stored to the condition of a pure and intellectual Being; and so be capacitated to relish the joyes proper to God and Spiritual Natures, for we are not capable of that degree of Felicity which they enjoy, till our Souls are rendred so by proportio­nate degrees of Purity and Holiness; for the hap­piness of Heaven is pure and intellectual, and there­fore our minds are purged here from all feculen­cies of matter, that they may be fitted and quali­fied to relish its Enjoyments; so that when the vi­gorous [Page 52] Energy of the Soul has melted down all the drossy parts of sluggish and unweildy matter, and is become [...] God-like, and purely spiritual, then it shall mount up into the Regions of Bliss and Hap­piness, and shall be admitted into an intimate con­verse and union with the Divine Nature, and shall live in the Ravishing Contemplations and Embra­cings of uncreated Beauty, and bathe its dilated Fa­culties in the full streams of Infinite Goodness, and Sun it self in the Invigorating Beams of Light and Love, and spend a whole Eternity in the blissful Acts of Love, and Joy, and Peace, and every thing that can procure or encrease its happinesse. By all which, you easily discern that Religion is no Arbitrary Exaction, but Wise and Rational, and of natural necessity to perfect and refine our Natures, to raise and purifie our Minds, to pre­pare and fit us for a higher and more Divine Con­dition, the Soul being not capable or fit without it to enjoy the pleasures of God and Heaven.

And now I descend to their Speculative or Me­taphysical Theologie, which the Platonists stile Di­vine; The Peripateticks Primitive Philosophie; and include in it that which they call Sapience or Me­taphysicks; so that I shall not confine my self to mat­ters meerly Theological, but shall take in all the general Principles of Science; especially because I do not intend a pursuit of all particular Disputes, [Page 53] (for that would be an endless undertaking) but only some such General Exceptions, as though they may have a more direct aspect on Metaphysical Speculations, yet may concern their Philosophie in gross, and cast an oblique look upon all its other parts, This premised, I proceed

1. The first thing therefore, against which I ex­cept, is their way of resolving knowledge into its first and fundamental Principles; in that by reject­ing the Testimony and Judgment of sense in mat­ters of Philosophie, they do but involve and per­plex the Principles thereof, under the pretext of a more abstracted and intellectual discovery of things: For hereby the minds of men are taken off from the native Evidence of plain and palpable Truths, and are fain to ground all their knowledge upon nice and subtle Speculations, whereby, at least, clear and unquestionable Truths are resolved into Principles infinitely more uncertain and dispu­table then themselves. And that the Platonick way of resolving knowledge is justly chargable here­with, needs no other proof then barely to represent it. They then suppose that the Truth of all Be­ings consists in a conformity to their Archetypal Ideas, whereby they mean some General Patterns, by which all the Individuals of each species are fra­med, so that to investigate the Nature of things, we must endeavour to know the Resemblance they [Page 54] have to their Originals; and that therefore to re­flect upon these, and to consider their agreement with sensible things, is the onely way to attain a certain knowledge of the Natures of the things themselves. And therefore Plato concludes the Omniscience of the first Mind, from the supposi­tion that it is furnished with the Ideas of all things. And that Mankind might be in a capacity of know­ing the Natures of things, he asserts that God has hang'd a multitude of these little Pictures of himself and all his Creatures in every mans under­standing, that by attending to them, he might direct himself in his Conceptions and Notions of the things themselves; and that herein alone consists the Nature of true Science;In Timao. and therefore the only difference he assignes between Science and Opinion, is, that the one attends to these unchang­able Ideas, but the other to the uncertain and va­riable Reports of sense. And in ano­ther place,In Epist. ad Dionis Amicos. discoursing more particu­larly of this Notion; to the Science of a thing he requires a threefold knowledge, viz. of its Name, of its Definition, and of its Picture, which last he asserts to be the cheif cause of knowledge, and instances in a Circle, to the true Science whereof, 'tis necessary that we know by what name to express it, and then its Definition, that 'tis a figure, whose parts are every where equally distant [Page 55] from the Centre; and lastly, that it be represen­ted to us by some visible figure; which, sayes he, gives us a far more solid knowledge of the nature of a Circle then the other two; and is that which advances our knowledge from Opinion to Science: Now (continues he) the same use that these deli­neations have in Mathematical Theories, Idea's have in Physical Speculations, as therefore we best under­stand what a Circle is by looking upon its Delinea­ted Figure, so the surest knowledge, we can have of the Natures of things, is gotten by contempla­ting their Ideal Pictures or Images engraven on our understandings.

But first, methinks this fetching of Principles and Proleptick Notions out of the mind of Man, is the same thing, as to anatomise the eye to search for the first Principles and Postulata of Opticks: For as 'tis the Nature and Office of the Eye to con­template and observe those objects with which 'tis presented, and thence to frame Optical Rules and Maximes, so 'tis of the mind to speculate and con­sider those things, which are any way conveyed to its notice, and thence to make general Rules and Observations, which after an exact scrutiny and comparison of every individual, are justly admitted for Proleptick and fundamental Verities: so that general Axiomes are only the results and abridgments of a multitude of single Experiments; thus from [Page 56] the plain experience and observation of all man-kind was framed that unquestionable Maxime, That the whole is greater then its parts, because they saw and found it was so in all individual Bodies in the world, and the Reason why all men assent to it at the first proposal, is because they cannot look abroad, but they are presented with innumerable instances there­of, every visible thing in the world being a whole com­pounded of parts sensibly smaller then it self. Now to what purpose should Providence imprint such obvious and apparent Notices as this upon the minds of Men, when as but to open our eyes, is e­nough to discover their undoubted Truth and Evi­dence? A man that has animadversive Faculties, has as little need to be minded of such obvious and apparent Certainties, as a man that has his Eyes in his head, has to be taught that there is a Sun in the Heavens. But suppose that we were born with these congenite Anticipations, and that they take Root in our very Faculties, yet how can I be cer­tain of their Truth and Veracity? For 'tis not im­possible but the seeds of Error might have been the natural Results of my Faculties, as Weeds are the first and natural Issues of the best Soyles, how then shall we be sure that these spontaneous Notions are not false and spurious? Now the only way to be fully satisfied of their Truth and Sincerity, is to ex­amine them by a wary and discreet Experience, [Page 57] the Test whereof will remove all ground to doubt for the future of their Integrity. And if so, to what purpose do Connate Principles serve; for be­fore I have made Tryal, I cannot use them, because I have no Reason to trust them, till I can be certain of their Veracity; which I cannot be, but by Ex­perience, which yet makes them useless; because Experimental knowledge is of all others the safest and most unquestionable, and therefore must needs render all lesser evidence vain and unnecessary. At least when our knowledge proceeds in an Empiri­cal way 'tis solid and palpable, and made so un­doubtedly certain from the plain and most undoub­ted Testimony of Sense and Experience, as unde­niably to convince Scepticism of a pitiful and ridicu­lous Obstinacy. But when we begin our know­ledge from Notions within our selves, besides that 'tis a difficult and nice dispute to prove that the mind of man is furnished with any such innate Pro­lepses, and that we are destitute of any sure [...] to discern Natural Anticipations from Preconcep­tions of Custome and Education (unless we bring them to the Touchstone of Experience) 'tis doubt­less that Generalites are not capable of so palpa­ble and convictive an Evidence, as single and par­ticular Observations.Advancement of Learning. l. 1. c. 5. And therefore my Lord Bacon has well noted it as none of the least obstructions to the advancement of [Page 58] knowledge, that Men have sought for Truth in their own little Worlds, and that withdrawing themselves from the Contemplation of Nature, and the Observati­ons of Experience, they have tumbled up and down in their own Speculations and Conceits; And so have by continual meditation and agitation of Wit urged, and as it were, invocated their own Spirits to Divine, and give Oracles unto them, whereby they have been deservedly and pleasingly deluded.

But secondly, however the case may be as to o­ther Innate Notions, the Existence of Plato's Ideas is altogether precarious and uncertain, and there­fore absolutely unfit to be made the foundation of all Science, for by them they unanimously under­stand real Pictures and Images of things, painted and carved upon the Mind, rather then Habits, Thoughts, or Conceptions, and therefore Plato defines them to be [...], which further appears from the grounds from whence they labour to deduce them; for it is evident, say they, that the Eternal Mind exerted Intellectual Actions from all Eternity, but because there can be no In­tellection without an Intelligible Object, it must fol­low, that there must be Exemplars and Ideal objects in the Divine Mind, to terminate the actions there­of. But to suppose that the understanding cannot act, unless it be employed about an object really existing, is not only precarious, but for any thing [Page 59] appears to the contrary, contrary to every mans Experience, seeing we are all able to create Chi­maera's at pleasure. But though this Postulatum were granted as to created Intellects, yet to tie and li­mit the Contemplations of the Divine Mind to a pre-existent object, is (beside many other absur­dities) not less rash and unwarrantable then to con­fine the operations of Omnipotence to the Laws of Matter and Motion: seeing then there's no tollera­ble Evidence to be produced of the Truth and Re­ality of these Mental Images, what can more betray the cause of Science to the Exceptions of Scepticks, then to resolve its utmost Truth and Evidence in­to such uncertain and imaginary Principles?

2. A second Fault, for which they are justly blameable, is their serious endeavouring to know and define the Notions of abstracted Essences; for these pure and Seraphick Intellectualists forsooth despise all sensible knowledge, as too gross and material for their nice and curious Faculties, and disdain to pursue any knowledge, but what is pure and Intellectual, that is such as is sutable to their refin'd, and as it were, separated Understandings; and therefore they cheifly employ their Thoughts about abstracted and purely Metaphysical Beings; and thence they take upon them exactly to describe the meer Essences of all sorts of Beings, whether Material, or Immaterial; whether they belong to [Page 60] the intellectual, or to the sensible World: In or­der whereto, they resolve all Beings into their sim­ple and unmixt Ingredients, and then attempt to assigne their precise notions and differences from each other. Thus they Analyse all Physical Bo­dies into ten Principles or Primitive Ingredients; for first, they supposing that all things, by how much the less perfect they are, are so much the more compounded, and then placing Bodies in the low­est ranck of Beings, they infer that something of all Superiour Essences must concur to their Con­stitution, so that all Bodies must participate of the nine Superiour Orders of Beings,See Patricius's Panarchia, e­specially the e­leventh Book. viz. Form, Quality, Nature, Soul, Mind, Life, Essence, Unity, One, from the mixture of which, after the four several wayes of Composition, i. e. of Profundity, Latitude, Lon­gitude, and Solidity results Corporeiety, And some are so strangely subtle and abstractive, as to make a real and substantial difference between Mat­ter and Body. Again, to pass by their several kinds of immaterial Motion and Harmony, they make five sorts of Numbers, Divine, whose Pro­perty is Uniformity; Substantial, whose Property is Immobility; Animarie, whose Property is a Pow­er of Self-moving; Natural, whose Property is a Capacity to be moved; Mathematical, which is the common sort, and the grossest of all, because (say [Page 61] they) it may be deciphred by External figures. But if they are able to frame a Conception of any Num­ber, besides that which is Mathematical, they have more faculties then I, who am born but a Man, and live by the use of my Reason, and five Senses.

And yet they confidently enough assay to give the world minute descriptions of these, and such other nice and subtle Essences. It will be unnecessary to ex­amine their particular performances, if I can evi­dently Convict the Attempt it self of Folly and Madness, as I presume to you I easily can, Because I know you are already sufficiently convinced how fruitless and insignificant these definitions of Meta­physical and abstracted Essences are, for they are in truth nothing else but notifying that thing by more words of a narrower signification, which at other times is signified by a single one of a larger Import, as if in Arithmetical Accounts, we should denote one greater summe by many little ones. But the expressing of a thing by divers words, does not more unfold its Nature, then when 'tis signed by one; because the use of Words is not to explaine the Natures of Things, but only to stand as marks and signes in their stead, as Arithmetical figures are only notes of Numbers; and therefore Names are as unable to explaine abstracted Natures, as figures are to solve Arithmetical Problems. I am not ignorant that it has been an ancient and credi­table [Page 62] Opinion of the Platonists, that Names have in them a natural resemblance and suitableness to things, and are peculiarly expressive of the several natures and properties of those things they are used to represent. But words being meerly several Mo­difications of sound made by the Organs of Speech, can have no likeness to any thing but sounds; and where a word signifies any peculiar sound, it may have a natural resemblance to it, by giving it a sound like that which it represents, as Tintinnabu­lum and Clangor, which words strike the Organs of hearing somewhat after the same manner, as those things do, of which they are expressive. But to imagine that any words should carry in them a re­semblance to any things besides Noises, is an ab­surd and groundless conceit; which will evidently appear by imposing upon words contrary signifi­cations, and applying them to express things quite contrary to what they now signifie. For Example, take the Names, by which Fire is expressed in all Languages, and apply them to water; and so on the contrary, call Water by the names of Fire, and you will easily perceive they have no more natural Correspondency to the one then to the other, and that the Names of fire have as much agreement with the Nature and Properties of water, as they have with the thing they now signifie, and that they would as well express it, if men would agree to change their Imposition.

[Page 63] And therefore I conclude that the office of De­finitions is not to explain the Natures of things, but to fix and circumscribe the significa [...]ion of Words; for they being Notes of things, unless their signifi­cations be settled, their meaning must needs be E­quivocal and uncertain; that is, unless it be deter­mined of what things such particular Names are signs, no man shall be able to signifie his Thoughts to another, because he will use uncertain signs. And therefore to define Matter, Form, Substance, Ac­cident is not to unfold the Intrinsick nature of those things, of which the names of Matter, Form, Substance, Accident are marks and signs, but only to define what things I intend to express and signify by these Names. And unless I have some Idea and know­ledge of that thing which I call Form or Accident, Antecedently to my denoting of it by these Names, they will be altogether insignificant, because I know not what thing 'tis which they signifie, and the Names themselves give me no more knowledge of those things, then Gas and Blas or any other words of no defined signification. All which I hope suffici­ently evinces the vanity of Metaphysical definitions in order to the discovering the hidden Essences of things. But yet further, we are so far from attaining any certain and real knowledg of Incorporeal Beings (of an acquaintance with which, these Visionists so much boast) that we are not able to know any thing of [Page 64] Corporeal Substances as abstract from their Accidents. Ther's nothing can more perplex my Faculties, then the simple Idea of naked matter. And certain­ly, it was never intended that meer Essences should be the Objects of our Faculties. And therefore the truely wise and discerning Philosophers do not en­deavour after the dry and sapless knowledge of ab­stracted Natures, but only search after the Proper­ties, Qualities, Vertues and Operations of Natu­ral Beings; the knowledge whereof may be acqui­red by Observations and Experiments; but there are no certain means or rational Methods (that I could ever yet meet with) to investigate the mysterious Ideas of bare and abstracted Essences. Besides, all Beings are either Objects of sence, or not; now to go about to discover the nature of the former by metaphysical definitions, would be ridiculous, see­ing they are far better understood by our senses. If any one should ask me, what a Bed-staff or a Joint-stool is, the only way to acquaint him what they are, is not to amuse him with fine artificial de­finitions, but to shew him the things themselves: And besides to abstract sensible things from ma­teriality, is to abstract them from themselves, be­cause their very Essences are Material. And then of them that take upon them to describe the Na­tures of Beings that are not obnoxious to sence, I demand by what ways and methods they came to [Page 65] that knowledge. For tis not enough to prove that this or that is the Idea of any thing, because some fanciful men are able to make pretty Hypotheses concerning it, but if any man have attain'd any cer­tain knowledge thereof, he is able to give a rational account of the way and method, by which he pro­ceeded in his Enquiry. But this these bold definers neither have, nor can do; but if you will be so ci­vil as to take their words, they will requite your Civility by acquainting you with more strange and stupendious Mysteries. And here (before I conclude this head) I cannot but proclaim a Quarrel against the Metaphysicks of the School-Doctors, who pretend too by their definitions to unfold the most hidden and abstracted Essences of Things, But their perfor­mance is a pregnant Argument of the vanity of their undertaking. For their Vast Volums are fil­led with well nigh nothing, but empty and insigni­ficant words, frivolous and confus'd distinctions, useless and imaginary notions, precarious and un­certain suppositions, senceless and unintelligible Discourses, and with a deal of such phantastick and uncouth stuff, as makes Fools stare, and Wise men laugh: But the Intrinsick Essence of any one Being is no more explain'd and unsecreted after all their Labour, then it was afore. This, Sir, you may un­derstand as a recantation of my Errour, or rather bemoaning my unhappiness, in that I have (contra­ry [Page 66] to what you once advised me) lost so much time and industry in these absurd and senceless Authors. And though this be only to accuse, yet 'tis as easie a task to make good my charge to the utmost, as 'tis to make it, but that, because it cannot be done un­less by an induction of particular instances, would require a larger Discourse then can be allowed to a Digression in this Letter.

3. My Third Impeachment, is their affecting a mysterious obscurity and abstruseness, thereby to render their notions more solemn and venerable. Of this I might produce you infinite Instances: But for a full conviction, let me only engage you to spend one hour either in Plato's Parmenides (which though Proclus thinks an entire & exact System of Platonick Divinity,In Plat. Theol. lib. 1. cap. 7, 8, 9, 10, &c. yet him­selfe wasts several Chapters in an En­quiry after the scope and designe of that Dialogue) or any of those of his Theological Commentators, whom they will allow to have understood him, (for Patricius will not allow that his first Glossers to the number of above 75 were able to reach his meaning)In his Plato Exotericus. but cheifly Proclus his 6 Books upon Plato's Theologie, or for bre­vity sake his Theological Institutions annexed to them. Of the Obscurity and Ambiguity of Plato's senti­ments concerning the Deity, I have treated you know where, & therefore thither I refer you, on­ly [Page 67] let me note, Adv Calum. l. 2. c. 3. the passage is somewhat too tedious to tran­scribe. that when Cardinal Bes­sarion professes to give us a brief & sum­mary account of Plato's notion of God in his Parmenides, he amasses together (as their man­ner is) a Cento of flat contradictions, & gives a Descri­ption much like that Peripatetick Riddle of matter, Aelia Laelia Crispis, nec Mas, nec Foemina, nec Andro­gyna, nec casta, nec meretrix, nec pudica, sed omnia, and then applauds both himself and Plato for their Orthodox sentiments about the Deity. Just such an­other senseless Iargon is that supposititious piece of Dyonysius the Areopagite, de Divinis Nominibus. A­gain is it not a wild kind of speculative fanaticisme to explain the unaccountable Ideas of immate­rial Beings, by numbers and figures, of which I have already given you a sufficient Instance? But if I should transcribe their pretty dreams and conceits of the superessential Unity, of the Divine Orders and Oeconomys, of the [...], of the Pa­ternum Profundum, Iynges, Teletarchae, Fontani Pa­tres, of the Field of Truth, the Super-celestial Regions & Invisible Heavens, together with the descriptions of their several Inhabitants, & of all other Intellectual Hypostases, I am confident it would tempt your gravity (though you were Stoically morose) much beyond the essay of a smile, unless perhaps your perusal of Iacob Behem may have prevented their novelty.

But the Graecian Theology (as Proclus [Page 68] contends being founded by Orpheus, Plat. Theol. l. 1. c. 5. ad­vanced by Pythagoras, and compleated by Plato; as Orpheus represented his mysteries by Tales and Fables, Pythagoras by Numbers and Symbols, so Plato and his Followers have (in imitation of them) communi­cated their Notions by Emblems,See Proclus in Platon. Theol. lib. 1. c. 4. Fa­bles, Symbols, Parables, heaps of Metaphors, Allegories, and all sorts of Mystical Representations (as is vulgarly known.) All which upon the account of their Obscurity and Ambiguity are apparently the unfittest signes in the world to express the Train of any mans thoughts to another: For beside that they carry in them no Intelligible Affinity to the Notices, which they were design'd to intimate, the Powers of Imagina­tion are so great, and the Instances in which one thing may resemble another are so many, that there is scarce any thing in nature, in which the Fancie cannot find or make a Varietie of such Symbolising Resemblances; so that Emblems, Fables, Sym­bols, Allegories, though they are prettie Poetick Fancies, are infinitely unfit to express Philosophical Notions and discoveries of the Natures of things: and besides, seeing they have left us no key to these dark Cyphers, there can be no sure and constant way to unriddle what conceptions are lock'd up under them; so that it does not only require a great deal [Page 69] of pains to frame conjectures of their mea [...]ing, but the surest we can pitch upon are withal so uncer­tain and ambiguous, that they unavoidably leave us fluctuating in meer uncertainties. And what wife man will take so much pains for such a knowledge that can at highest amount but to a doubtful guess? The truth of it is, they have by these Exorbitances been highly injurious to the advancement of true and solid Philosophie; for it needs little less pains to discover their meaning, then perhaps it would to have examined the thing it self, and yet when that is done, we are as far from our end as before. The end of Philosophie is to search into and disco­ver the Nature of things, but I believe you under­stand not how the Nature of any thing is at all dis­covered, by making it the Theme of Allegorical and dark discourses.

But I must not too much aggravate this Accu­sation upon the Platonists in particular, seeing it has been the Catholick Crime of all the Learned World. The Monk of Viterbo in his Counterfeit Berosus derives this Art of wraping up and unfold­ing Mysteries at the same time from Noah, but per­haps another man would have fetch't its Invention from the Oracular Devils, who taking upon them to foretel, what they could not foreknow, were for­ced to use such shifts to hide their Ignorance.

Ambage nexa delphico mos est Deo
Arcana tegere.

[Page 70] And from hence they who affected a Title of Wis­dom imitated their Oracles, and because they un­dertook to explain those secrets, which were above the reach of their Inquisition, that they might not discover their ignorance instead of their knowledge, they wrapt up their Mysteries in dark and aenigma­tical Representations, as being too Sacred and Ve­nerable (as they pretended) to be prostituted to vulgar and unhallowed Minds.Stromat. l. 5. Clemens Alexandrinus roundly charges almost e­very Sect of the Philosophers herewith. Laert. in his Life. Only Epicurus took the word [...] Perspicuity for his Motto, whereas the rest generally disclaimed it. The story is common, that Hipparchus was bani­shed Pythagoras his School, and a [...] set in his place, as of a Person lost, and all because he went about to unriddle the Pythagorick Arcana: Cic. de fini­bus. l. 2. neither is Heraclitus his Sirname [...] because of the obscurity of his Writings less famous, Clarus ob obscuram linguam magis inter inanes, as Lu­cretius quibbles upon him, & Laertius relates of him in his life, That he Wrote a Book so monstrously obscure, that at length it became a Controversie, whether it treated of a Common-wealth, or of Nature. And no less common is Aristotles Epistle to Alex­ander, [...] Plut. in Alex. wherein he professes that though he had made his Books publick, yet he had not published them, and therefore [Page 71] he divides his Writings into Exotericks, that were Intelligible to Vulgar Readers, and Eisotericks, that were Intelligible to none but Sons of Art; whence Atticus in Eusebius compares him to the Cuttle-Fish, because he like that sort of Fish, hides him­self with his own Inke. And how well the School-Doctors (his great Admirers) have imitated him, I need not tell you, onely I have more then once with pleasure observ'd it of Aegidius, that where he cannot make his Master Aquinas speak good sense, (though the Non-sense be palpable) he attributes a Mysteriousness to his extraordinary and more then humane subtletie. Shall I add the proud Race of Spagyrists, who (like Aeneas) go cloathed in clouds, and what they discover by their fire, darken by their smoak? I might add many modern Writers, but I forbear, only methinks all the World seem to have gone to School to that Pedagogue in Quintilian, Qui discipulos obscurare quae dicerent, juberet, graeco verbo utens [...].Institut, l. 8 c. 2. All Writers are am­bitious to have Commentators, and certainly 'tis not a little estimation that obscurity gains from the Vulgar, whence that commendation in Quintilian, Tanto melior, ne ego quidem Intellexi; and that con­clusion in Lucretius,

Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amantque,
Inversis quae sub verbis Latitantia cernunt.

[Page 72] But all that they understand, they despise, [...], saies Synesius in his Encomium of Calvisi [...]. Now since I have ventured to play the Aristarchus in reference to so many eminent Vertuosi, methinks I may dare to add the same Censure of our late English Rosie-Crusians, but yet of all men I am most sorely afraid of angring these, because they seem to be of a very quarrelsome Humour, and to have a huge ambition to be esteemed the Polemi­cal Scripturients of the Age; whereas I have been scared from Engaging with a Rosie-Crucian, ever since I first saw the Controversial Rencountres of Eugenius Philalethes; and besides, (to confess my fears to you) I know not but the Romantick Heroes of this Order may have retreiv'd the lost Invention of Enchanted Arms, especially that lovely Fairie Knight descended (as the Romance of his Life re­lates it, 'tis a prettier Tale then that of Amadis de Gaul) of the Cesar Heydons of Rome, and the venera­ble Author of the Heydonian Philosophy, as himself modestly stiles his own ignorant, uncouth, and ri­diculous Scrible.

But 'tis more fitting that these Pedantick Cheats were chastised by the Publique Rods, in that they directly Poison mens minds, and dispose them to the wildest and most Enthusiastick Fanaticisme; for there is so much Affinity between Rosi-Crucianisme and Enthusiasme, that whoever entertains the one, [Page 73] he may upon the same Reason embrace the other; And what Pestilential Influences the Genius of Enthusiasme or opinionative Zeal has upon the Pub­lick Peace, is so evident from Experience, that it needs not be prov'd from Reason. To conclude, I am confident, that from the beginning of time to this day, there has not been so great a Conjunction of Ignorance with Confidence, as in these Fellows, which certainly of all other Aspects is the most contrary and malignant to true knowledge.

4. My next Accusation is, that instead of pure and genuine Reason, they abound so much with gaudy and extravagant Phancies. I that am too simple or too serious to be cajol'd with the frenzies of a bold and ungovern'd Imagination cannot be perswa­ded to think the Quaintest plays and sportings of wit to be any true and real knowledge. I can easily allow their Discourses the Title of Philosophical Romances, (a sort of more ingenious impertinencies) and 'tis with this estimate I would have them read: But when they pretend to be Natures Secretaries, & to understand all her Intrigues, or to be Heavens Privadoes, talking of the Transactions there, like men lately drop'd thence encircled with Glories, and cloathed with the Garments of Moses & Elias, and yet put us off with nothing but rampant Metaphors, and Pompous Allegories, and other splendid but empty Schemes of speech, I must crave leave to [Page 74] account them (to say no worse) Poets & Romancers true Philosophie is too sober to descend to these wild­nesses of Imagination, and too Rational to be chea­ted by them. She scorns, when shee is in chase of Truth, to quarry upon trifling gaudy Phantasms: Her Game is things not words. I shall not presume to censure Plato's Stile for its being too Pompous & Poetick, though this has been done already by Ari­stotle, Dionysius Halicarnasseus, Vossius, and other Pro­fessors of the Critical Art. Only I remember I had not long conversed with Platonick Authors, when I took occasion to set it down as a note to my self, that though a huge lushious stile may relish sweet to childish and liquorish Fancies, yet it rather loaths and nauceats a discreet understanding, then informs and nourishes it. That Platonisme is almost nothing but an Allegorie, is too notorious to want a proof, Plato's two famous Dialogues, viz. his Symposium and his Phaedrus, ranked by Ficinus among his Me­taphysical and Theological Treatises, treat of no­thing but Love and Beauty, and of them too in Poetick Schemes and Fables. 'Tis pretty to read their Metaphysical Discourses of Truth, which are nothing else but Love-stories. The soul being en­amour'd with the transcendent Beauty and Love­liness of Truth is enflamed with impatient desires of enjoying her embraces, and therefore Wooes and Courts her with indefatigable Patience, for she [Page 75] must be supposed (as all other Beauties are) ex­cessively coy and difficult, but by diligence and im­portunitie the understanding wins and enjoys her; And then they express their embraces in the same language, they would speak of the private trans­actions between Man and Wife. Thus (you see) they have the main Propertie of Romaneers to talk much of Love. And indeed Plato himself seems to have been the first Author of Amorous Romances, for to­wards the beginning of his Convivium he chides the Poets, that lived before him, for their Omissions in reference to Love, and that when they had made Panegyricks of all the other Gods. None of them had ever attempted an Elogie upon This.

Now to Discourse of the Natures of Things in Metaphors and Allegories is nothing else but to sport and trifle with empty words, because these Schems do not express the Natures of Things, but only their Similitudes and Resemblances, for Me­taphors are only words, which properly signifying one thing, are apply'd to signifie another by reason of some Resemblance between them. When there­fore any thing is express'd by a Metaphor or Alle­gory, the thing it self is not expressed, but only some similitude observ'd or made by Fancy. So that Metaphors being only the sportings of Fancy comparing things with things, and not marks or signes of Things. All those Theories in Philosophie [Page 76] which are expressed only in metaphorical Termes, are not real Truths, but the meer Products of Ima­gination, dress'd up (like Childrens babies) in a few spangled empty words, such as the Greeks call [...] empty Phraseologies that have not Notion & Thing enough to fill them out. Thus their wan­ton & luxuriant fancies climbing up into the Bed of Reason, do not only defile it by unchast and ille­gitimate Embraces, but instead of real conceptions and notices of Things, impregnate the mind with nothing but Ayerie and Subventaneous Phan­tasmes.

But 'tis still more fantastick and absurd to talke metaphorically concerning those things, of whose Ideas we are utterly ignorant, & of which we are not able to discourse in Proper Terms, for such Dis­course must needs be Non-sence, and the matter of it must needs be nothing; because they treat of they know not what. For Metaphors not signifying things, and things being always signified by proper Termes, what can be more evident then that meer Metaphors without proper Terms are employed about nothing at all, or only an Imaginary some­thing. And they that talk thus, do but first ima­gine a Subject, and then imagine in it some Re­semblances to something else, that is in effect, they make a bauble, and then play with it. Of this Na­ture, (to give you one Instance) are the greatest [Page 77] part of their discourses concerning the Soul, in di­scoursing of which, they draw Metaphors from all the Senses, Members, and Functions of the Body, from all the General Hypotheses of Nature; from all the Phaenomena of the Heavens and the Earth, from all the several Properties and Operations of the several species of Creatures, and apply them to the Nature, Faculties, and operations of the Soul; But because they are altogether ignorant of the na­ture and substance of the Soul, and are not able to express the greatest part of these things by proper terms; all these Metaphors must pass for idle and insignificant Non-sense, because they signifie we know not what, and describe we know not how; so that methinks the Platonick Philosophie is just such another thing as the Epicureans fancy the world to be, a Mass of pretty words handsomely and luckily pack't together; I must confess that before I had examined it, by reason of its huge Tumid words, I look't upon it at a distance, as the loftiest and sub­limest knowledge in the world, but when I came to survey it more closely, I soon found that it was nothing else but words, so that I may more hand­somely compare it to a Landskip, in which at a distance appear huge Rocks, and vast Mountaines, that seem to vie height with, and out-reach the Clouds, and yet by a nearer approach these vast bulky Appearances are found to be nothing but a few Artificial Shadows.

[Page 78] 5. Another miscarriage is, that they employ much of their Contemplations in things altogether uncertain and unsearchable. They delight exces­sively to wander into remote and invisible Notions, and to talk confidently (as Travellers into forreign Regions are wont to do) of doubtful and unaccoun­table Problems, and any thing which is as far distant from Humane discovery, as concernment. Which scopeless desire of searching into things exempt from humane Inquisition, is that which renders Curiosity Criminal; For Curiosity it self is a gallant and he­roical Quality, and the natural Product of a Ge­nerous Complexion, but when it aspires after the knowledge of things placed above its Reach, it de­generates into a vain and fruitless Ambition, or ra­ther an unnatural lust of the mind after strange and extravagant Notions. Though the Truth of it is, The minds (or rather fancies) of men have such a natural liquorishness after the knowledge of things strange and remote, that they swallow nothing with so grateful a Gusto, as stories of things rare and un­usual; neither care they how uncertain and phan­tastick they be, so they be but odd and prodigious; and hence it comes to pass, that men are generally more tickled and enchanted with Legends and Ro­mances, then with useful and remarkable Memories. Which (they say) is the Reason why the Ancients made so much use of Fables and Apologues to in­struct [Page 79] the People, because they carried in them something monstrous, and exceeding the limits of Probability. The senseless multitude, that could not rellish the wise Discourses of Socrates, would be much taken and surprised with a pretty and ex­travagant Tale of a Lyon, an Ape, or a Fox, &c. But not to aggravate this Childishness of these dull and muddy Souls. 'Tis an unpardonable Luxury and Wantonness for Wise and considering Philo­sophers, to spend their time and study to disclose distant and inscrutable Mysteries, and frontlesly to dictate to the world in such Theories, as are infi­nitely remote from humane knowledge and discove­ry, and which 'tis as impossible to know, as it would be if they had never been. And that the Platonists are of all men most chargeable with this folly, these few ensuing instances may demonstrate. As when they confidently take upon them to give the world exact and minute descriptions of Incorporeal Be­ings; To give an account of the Nature and Oeco­nomy of the God-head, and how the several Ranks of Ideas are suspended upon the three [...] Uniform Hypostases, to pry into the most hidden Re­cesses of the Divine Mind, and distinctly to deli­neate how the Ideas of all Created Perfections are there displayed. To discourse about the Substance, Nature, Properties, Offices, Actions, Orders, and Polities of Angels: To assert that the Heavenly [Page 80] Host is divided into three Hierarchies, and that each Hierarchie is subdivided into three Orders, and e­very Order into as many Legions, as there are con­tain'd Individuals in every Legion, i. e. 6666; and that this Ternary of Hierarchies, and Norary of Orders do Circulate about the three-fold Essence of God, (as the Planets about the Sun) with infi­nite other the like Dreams about their peculiar Natures, Offices, Distances, and Employments:See Proclus in Plat. Theolog. l. 4. c. 19. And withall to pretend to demonstrative Evidence in these things. Again, when they confidently assert the First Mind to be the onely Author of Souls; and that humane Souls were temper'd in the same Vessel, where the Soul of the Universe had been wrought; and that they were made out of some remaining fragments of that mixture out of which the Gods of the second and third Classis had been framed; That the First Mind had deputed the Genii or Iunior Deities Guar­dians of his Of-spring; and that it is they, that Marry them to their Respective Vehicles. When they define whether the Apostate Genii be purely im­material; and whether they be vitally united with matter; and whether they were made peccable on­ly by union with their Vehicles; whether any of the Aerial Spirits be Atheists or no, whether any of them be of a sportive, droling humour, and delight to effect Antick Prodigies in the Aire, to abuse and [Page 81] affright silly Mortals; How they change Intelli­gence, and discourse together. When they deline­ate the Cosmographie of the Archetypal World, re­plenished with the Immaterial Ideas of all mate­rial Beings; and describe the Systeme of the Invisi­ble Heavens. When they frame particular Hypo­theses, not onely of the nature of the Soul, but of the manner of its living, before its lapse into this life, and after its return home again. Lastly, when they Graphically describe the manner of the worlds last and final Conflagration: I might add too their Hypotheses about the manner of the worlds Produ­ction; for unless they had been Spectators, it was not possible for them to know in what way and me­thod the Universe was Erected; that depending wholly on the free Election of the Divine Will: Though some Learned Men have thought it a migh­ty Confirmation of the Truth of the Mosaick Wri­tings, if they could but evince a consonancy of any of the, Philosphers Hypotheses with the Mosaick Account of the Origine of the Universe; as if their naked surmises could give any Testimony to Truth: For either they received the Account they give, from a credible Tradition, and if so, then Moses was the first Author thereof, for none else could give any certain Account of the Process, Providence was pleased to use in the Production of things, but cer­tainly tis no Argument of the Truth of the Mosaick [Page 82] Account, because the Iews told it to the Egypti­ans, and they to the Grecians, for this can adde no Authority or Evidence to it: Or else they were of their own framing, and consequently were altoge­ther groundless and unwarrantable Conjectures; for it was surely impossible any mans Reason should tell him the particular Circumstances of the worlds Creation; as that its material Principle was a Tohu and a Bohu, that it was agitated by the Divine Spi­rit, that several Portions were form'd at several times, that all was finished in six days space, ra­ther then five or seven, and the like: this designe therefore of discovering a Consonancy between the Hypotheses of any of the Philosophers concerning the Origine of the Universe, and the Mosaick Ac­count thereof, is absolutely scopeless and unprofi­table. But this is a digression that has thrust its self in here before I was aware of it. To resume therefore my former Theme, is it not the highest and most disingenuous madness for men to give such confident and definitive sentences in matters so re­mote and unaccountable? All the forementioned particulars (to which it were easie to add a thou­sand more) are apparently beyond the reach of hu­mane Cognisance, and such things as cannot be known but by Revelation, there being no other means to attain to any knowledge of things of their vast distance and remoteness. And if we [Page 83] will but reflect upon our own Thoughts, we must confess that we cannot perceive the Ideas of Beings that are not placed within the Horizon of Sense, and those that pretend to a discovery of them, had better pretend to Oracles, Prophesies, Illapses, and Divinations, then to the sober and steady Max­imes of Philosophie. And therefore 'tis not un­usual with the Platonists to pretend to a kind of Enthusiasme. They stile themselves [...], the inspired Priests of Truth; and their Philosophie [...] as if it had been poured into them in a Divine and Extatical Fury, and Proclus says it a thousand times of Plato and his Commentators, that they did [...], as if they had written with a kind of Bacchical Enthusiasme; And they every where talk so like Prophets and Oracles, as if they were inspired at least by a Bath-Col: And 'tis huge­ly pleasant to read their own Exorbitant Parades of the Exalted, Divine, and Extatick sublimity of Platonick Contemplation; they boast so often of sequestring themselves from all Corporeal Com­merce, and soaring up into the Ethereal Regions, that a man would expect News from the third Heaven every day. If they were in good earnest, we might expect strange discoveries indeed, but alas, these Sons of Imagination are as little trou­bled with Real Extasies, as other men, onely they are pleased to express the Frenzies of their fiery and [Page 84] subtle Fancies by these Allusions. So that let them talk never so Seraphically of retiring from the tri­vial and common Entertainments of sense, they do but sit down in the Theatre of Fancy, and enter­tain themselves with the Idola Specus, or Images of their own Complexion, and though they take them for great Realities, (as other Sleepers do their Dreams) yet when they awake out of their fanci­ful Visions, and return to a strength and consistency of Reason, they then discern them to have been on­ly evanid Appearances represented (as all Dreams are) upon the Scene of Imagination.

Now 'tis a great mistake of some men to think it necessary that we should be able to confute such vain and ungrounded Positions; and that for this Reason, because they are out of the Sphear of hu­mane knowledge; for though they may sometimes perchance, like the Cartesian Vortices, justle with some certain Truths belonging to our Sphear by reason of their Vicinity, yet that happens by chance, and is not necessary: But being in their own Na­tures out of our View, 'tis not to be expected we should give any account of them, because that would be to assert what we cannot know, which is to commit the very fault we are now chastising; 'tis therefore sufficient to shew the absurdity of an assertion, if I can evince it to be unevident, though I can not to be untrue, for it is not less unbecoming a [Page 85] Wise man to assent to an uncertainty than to an untruth: because 'tis not the real certainty of a Truth, that is a sufficient motive of our assent, but its evidence to us; for all Truths are in themselves equally certain (though not equally necessary and durable) but 'tis from the variety of evidence that the difference of our knowledge proceeds; and howsoever assertions may be in themselves real and certain Truths, yet unless they are evident as well as certain, they will be to us vain and fictiti­ous Phantasms. And therefore I cannot but com­mend this one Paradox of the Stoicks, That a Wise man is always free from Opinion, Ignorance, and Error: From Opinion, because he will not as­sent to uncertainties: from Ignorance, because what he knows not, he knows that he knows it not, and so has as much knowledge of the thing, as he is capable of: from Error, because he that will neither assent to what is uncertain, and knows what is to be known, and what not, can scarce be liable to mistakes. And it was none of the least In­stances of Epicurus's Wisdom and Modesty, that he made it one of his cheifest Physiological Canons, that he had nothing to do with [...] mat­ters meerly Possible, and meerly Contingent; and there­fore he was alwayes wont to state and conclude all Questions about the Phaenomena of the Heavens, and all other remote and unevident Enquiries, with nothing else but It may be so.

[Page 86] Besides in such cases any man may assert whatever a warm or giddy Brain may suggest, and we shall have equal inducements to embrace contrary Hy­potheses; thus as Mahomet has somewhere in his Alcoran, described the Systeme of the invisible Heavens, the Orders of Angels, & the several Folds, in which their several Choruses reside, as well as Plato, so I have as great Reason to induce me to credit the Mahometan Hypothesis as the Platonick. And then (to dispatch) we are not concern'd in such cases to shew the vanity of the Assertion (for that we suppose impossible) but that of the Assertor, whom we blame for acting so much against all the Rules of Reason, in affirming that, which 'tis evi­dently impossible for him to know; whereby he both troubles the world with debates equally un­necessary and endless, and obstructs the Advance­ment of True Knowledge, by diverting those that are in quest after it, into dark, dubious, and endless Traverses: And certainly among the many things that have been hindrances to the discovery of Truth, none seem to have been of a more unhappy and dif­fused Influence, then that men have been generally digging for it, where its veins lie too deep, and out of the fathome of humane Industrie.

Now if this one Caution against dogmatizing in matters remote and unevident were well im­bibed, it would not only prove an effectual An­tidote [Page 87] against many thousand pestilent controver­sies, that infest the world, but also a deadly Bane to the Platonick Philosophie; for if in reading the Platonists, you shall as you proceed, but ask them for a rational evidence of their magisterial dictates (especially in those things which they boast of as their sublimest speculations) and resolve that you will not make them matters of opinion, 'till they shall have given you some rational inducements so to do, I will engage you shall never be one of their Disciples, though you should study them to the revolution of their Great Year.

Before I take my leave of this Consideration, I cannot but note that this Impudent humour of tal­king confidently of things uncertain and widely re­mote from humane Cognizance was the peculiar crime of the first and earliest Hereticks in the Chri­stian Church. Thus the main of the Heretical O­pinions of the Gnosticks, and the several sub-dividing Factions of them, Valentinians, Saturnilians, Basili­dians and other primitive Hereticks were only some extravagant Hypotheses concerning the Divinity, and its Essential Emanations, and their several Sy­zigiae, and Pleromata, out of which they framed a peculiar Oeconomie of the Godhead, compounding the Divine Nature out of a multitude of Orders and Individuals (you may fancy it such a kind of Monster, as the Picture of Mr Hobbs's Leviathan.) [Page 88] And this they did by blending some Fancies out of Plato, and Fables out of Hesiods Theogonia with the Gospel of Saint Iohn, as the Fathers unanimously conclude. And as 'tis reported of Simon Magus, that he endeavoured to compound a Religious Worship out of the Rites of Paganisme, and the Sacraments of Christianity; so 'tis manifest that the Gnosticks would have integrated one System of Di­vinity by mingling the Orphean, Pythagorean, and Pla­tonick Theologie with the Doctrines of the Gospel. Of this sort of men and their Doctrines all the more learned Commentators understand the frequent cautions of the Apostles against Heresies and Here­ticks, and peculiarly that eminent passage, Colos. 2. 8. where the Apostle warns them against Philosophie and vain deceit, after the Tradition of men, after the Rudiments of the world, i. e. a [...] a false knowledge that pretends to know the highest my­steries upon the naked Assertions of some confident men. And of these [...] and the several emanati­ons of the Godhead do they understand those fabu­lous [...] Saint Paul mentions 1 Tim. 1. 4. so that the Hereticks, the Apostles speak of, were only giddy and opinionative men, that took upon them to in­troduce the Opinions of the Philosophers into the Christian Faith: For which reason it was that Ter­tullian stiled the Philosophers Hereticorum Patriar­chus, because from them were borrowed the greatest [Page 89] part of Heretical Opinions. Thus the Learned Dissert. de vita & scriptis Por­phyr. c. 1. Holstenius has made a Parallel between the Pythagorean and Manichean Principles. And Iohannes Baptista Crispus in his discus­sing of Plato's Opinions, has at the end of every Chapter shewn what Here­sies sprung from each Opinion. In this Notion of Heresie the School-Doctors will prove as Arch-Hereticks as any of the Ancients, for they have in the same manner corrupted the simplicity and pu­rity of Christian Religion, by blending the Placits of Aristotle with the Articles of Faith, as Manes and Valentinus did by mingling with the Christian Faith, the Philosophy of Plato and Pythagoras. And then they have filled their vast Volumns with sub­tle and nice Hypotheses made out of this mixture, out of which are of necessity generated an infinite number of idle and unprofitable Altercations, or as (as my Lord Bacon prettily stiles them) Vermiculate Questions, because they are generated from the pu­trefaction of ture and solid knowledge, like worms from putrified substances: though perhaps they may ere long deserve that Epithete upon another score. I might have added to them the late grand Dogmatical Master of Orthodoxy, whose rude Dogmatising has occasioned as many Controversies in the Christian Church, as ever Manes or Valentinus did. The result of all this is to direct to the true [Page 90] Apostolical Notion of Heresie, which is not so much an Opinion that is apparently false, as one that is groundless and unwarrantable, and so naturally tends to the creating unnecessary disputes, and ma­king Factions and Divisions, as Plotinus speaks of the Gnosticks, Ennead 2. lib. 9. that they were Inventors of new and vain Opinions, to no other end then the erecting of a peculiar Sect. And though most of the Primitive Heresies were false and impious, as well as rash and ungrounded, yet that which gave them their denomination, was their vanity and ten­dency to create mischeivous and destructive Schismes. The way then to prevent Controver­sies, and to avoid Schisms, is not to define, but si­lence groundless and dividing Opinions. The Church should in such cases imitate Socrates's Dae­mon, that never gave any positive Answer, but as oft as it was consulted answered either No, or No­thing; because they are usually started about mat­ters uncertain, and consequently undeterminable. So that when both Parties determine contrary to each other, and upon that separate, they are both equally Schismaticks, because they both divide upon insufficient and unwarrantable grounds. For instance (to pass by that early and unhappy Quartodecimarian Schism.) In that grand Schism of the Greek Church from the Romane, though the latter was notoriously Schismatical, yet the former was not altogether [Page 91] guiltless: for although they had Reasons sufficient to warrant a secession from the Romanists; as the Popes usurpation in challenging a Power to impose on them new Articles of Faith, and putting of this Tyranny into practise, by requiring of all that would be Members of the Romane Communion, to receive his addition of the Filioque into their Creeds: Now (I say) had they divided only for the maintaining their own Liberty against the Pa­pal Encroachments, and for not admitting the addition of Filioque as an Article of Faith, their separation had been just and noble. But when they stood as obstinately on the other side, as the Romanists did, and would not admit of an Union, but upon Condition, that it might be received as an Article of Faith, that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the Father only, they can­not be cleared of a Schismatical division. Now if instead of being dogmatical in both these contra­ry Extreams, both Parties had agreed to silence the Controversie and decide it neither way, as Truth would not have been less secur'd, so Peace would have been much better preserved. I con­clude therefore in the words of a late Learned and Judicious Divine. If the Church had stopt and damn'd up the Originals and Springs of Contro­versies, rather then by the determining for the one part, to give them as it were a Pipe and Conduit to convey [Page 92] them to Posterity, I perswade my self the Church had not suffered that inundation of Opinions, with which at this day it is over-run.

The supposed Agreement between MOSES and PLATO DISPROVED.

I Have (Sir) presented you with these Reflecti­ons rather then any other, not so much because I apprehend them more considerable (though perhaps they are so) as because they first occurred to my Thoughts: For it had been no difficult work to have added Infinite more; but these Con­siderations being already too prolix, and the small portion of Time allotted for this Task almost ex­pired, I shall wave those that remain, and only vin­dicate the Accusations I have already made, by ex­amining & controuling an Apology, that endeavours to wash them off.

For it is replyed on Plato's behalf, that he can­not well be charged with Rashness and Futility, but the Accusation must reach Moses also, and the rest of the Sacred Prophets; because from them Plato borrowed his choicest and sublimest Theories, which if in any thing vain and trifling, the first Au­thors ought in reason to beare the greatest Blame, & [Page 93] so at length my charging Plato with Futility, if it be valid, will fall foul upon Moses himself. Which farther compleatly excuses his Rashness, seeing he delivered his Theological Theories, not from his own Fancy, but derived them from so good and sure an Authority, as Moses and the Prophets. And that he did so is the unanimous consent of all the learned world: Fathers, School-Doctors, and Modern Writers agree not more unanimously in any one Principle then this: [...] is now become as vulgar and trivial as a Proverb. The particular account they give hereof, is this, That Plato derived many of these Mysteries from Pythagoras, who in his Travels into Aegypt and the East had either immediately received them from the Jewes themselves, or from the Aegyptian Priests, and the Chaldean Wise men, who came to know them by Converse with, and Tradition from the Jewes. And that Plato himself travelling into Ae­gypt in quest after knowledge, received his choicest and most important notices concerning Divine and Supernatural things from the Jewes, who about that time in great flocks resorted thither, or from the Egyptian Priests, who either derived them from the Mosaick writings, or received them from the Jewes by an Oral Tradition. For (say they) God delivered to Moses in Mount Sinai a twofold Law, [...] The Written Law, and [...] The [Page 94] Vocal Law, which is the Mystical and Enigmatical meaning of the Former, but by reason of its extra­ordinary sacredness was not exposed to the rude Peo­ple, but only whispered and conveyed in the slender Pipe of Auricular Tradition from age to age among the great Sanhedrim and the Prophets down to the time of Esdras, by whom (and the great Syna­gogue, of which many of the latter Prophets were members) it was committed to writing, least by reason of their frequent dispersions and captivities it should by some ill fortune perish: which carry­ed its stream out of the private Channel, in which it run before, and soon spread it abroad among Forreign Nations, especially in Egypt and Chaldea, where great numbers of Jews resided. For an emi­nent▪ Instance of all which, they alledge the Do­ctrine of the Sacred Trinity, which (say they) be­ing one of the Rarest and Choicest Mysteries of this Vocal Cabala, was greedily embraced by the Egyptians, from whom Plato and his Followers re­ceived that clear and full knowledge thereof, which appears so much every where in their Writings.

To all which I answer in these ensuing Conside­rations.

1. That it is so far from being matter of com­mendation that it is rather a disparagement to have been conversant in, and borrowed from the old Eastern and Egyptian Learning. That the Anci­ent [Page 95] Sages of Egypt and the East were acquainted with the first Rudiments of Mathematical Sciences is evident from the most authentick Records of An­cient Times, & from that skill, which the Grecians gained among them. But it is as evident that all their Theological Learning was lamentably frivo­lous, obscure, fabulous, uncouth, magical and su­perstitious. The Scythian Tarabostesci, the Persi­an Magi, the Indian Brachmans and Gymnoso­phists, the Egyptian Priests, the Bards and Druids of Gaul and Brittain, and other Ancient Sects have (I confess) made a great noise in the world, yet they that endeavour to celebrate them most, tell us so many Superstitious and Pedantick stories, as suf­ficiently evince them to have been no very extraor­dinary Persons. Any one that considers those few Opinions and Ratiocinations of theirs that are still extant, will easily conclude them to have been men of no great Reason or Judgment. Some have en­deavour'd to maintain the Credit of this Ancient Learning by retreiving and collecting its scattered Fragments, and others by counterfeiting supposi­titious Authors, such as Zoroaster and Hermes Tris­megistus, but whoever will be at the paines to per­use Zoroaster's Oracles, the Books of Trismegist, the Writings of Psellus, and the Earl of Mirandula's Riddles, with which he challenged all the Learned world, will need no other proof of the Vanity of [Page 96] all pretences to the more abstruse and mystical Learning of the Antients. I do not question but that great and honourable Personage I last mentio­ned, was a Person of stupendious Parts and Learn­ing, yet I am sure that those Notions, wherewith he made the greatest Noise in the world, were but grand and pompous Futilities.

The Old Egyptian Learning was so Famous, that the Spirit of God,Act. 7. 22. 1 King. 4. 29, 30. sets forth the Emi­nency of Moses's knowledge by his skill in it, & the matchlesness of Solomons Wisdom by its exceeding it; And therefore I conclude that it was conversant about more generous and more useful Notices then afterwards; such as Geometry, Astronomy, Policy, Physick, and other resembling Arts, which either were perfective of their Ratio­nal Faculties, or did minister to the uses and ne­cessities of Nature: as is generally reported by all Ancient Historians. But had the Pristine Learning of Egypt been the same it was in latter Ages, it had been as great a disparagement to Mo­ses, as 'tis now justly reputed a commendation, that he was accomplished in all the Egyptian learn­ing, and had amounted only to this, that he was a vain, trifling, superstitious Fellow. And what the Egyptian Priest objected to the Greeks, that they were always Children, might be more truly applied to themselves, if it be the property of chil­dren [Page 97] to value trifles. What childish fooleries their Hieroglyphicks were, Learned Men now prove from the lost labour and fruitless industry of Kir­chers Oedipus Aegyptiacus. CertaSinly, if they had design'd to abuse and debauch this humour, they could scarce have contrived more fond and extra­vagant Emblems; and indeed their courseness and unlikeness to the things they should resemble, suffici­ently discover them to have been but the rude Essays of a barbarous and undisciplined Fancy. The truth of it is, the Egyptians seem to have had onely knowledge enough, to know that their neighbours had none at all, and cunning enough to vaunt an In­spection into strange and abstruse Mysteries, know­ing that others by reason of their Ignorance could not controule them, and by reason of their credulity would be very apt to credit them, and thence they continually abused the credulous Grecians with Tales and Fables. And surely the Egyptian Priest took not a little secret pleasure,In Platonis Timaeo. when he perceived Old Solon to entertain his Ro­mantick and Legendary account of Ancient Times with so much greediness and satisfaction; unless per­haps himself had been imposed upon by earlier Ro­mancers, for I fancy the Egyptian Priests to have been such another generation of men, as our Monks were in the darkest times of Popery, who believed as well as recorded those Legends, which earlier Im­postors [Page 98] had Coined. So that if the ancient Sages of Greece had purchased no more knowledge by their Travels into Egypt, then those few remainders of Egyptian learning still upon Record (excepting a few Mathematical Theories) they had spent their time and pains to as little purpose, as the famous Travel­ler of Odcomb, who footed most parts of the known world to no other purpose, then to describe his Hosts Beard or Sign-Post. I might here also give an ac­count of the mean abilities of Orpheus and Pythago­ras, but I delight not to speak too hardly of any Ver­tuoso's Ashes, and therefore I forbear: For it is not my design, by representing these Primitive sages as fools and dunces to rob them of that esteem and ve­neration, with which they have been deservedly ho­noured in all succeeding Ages, for though it be gran­ted that their knowledge was much inferiour to that of latter Ages, (for Learning being then in its Infan­cy, must needs be Childish, but is since grown more solid and manly) yet it is but reasonable they should be allowed bigger Proportions of Honour and Re­nown, not only because they were very wise Men, considering the rudeness and ignorance of the times, in which they lived, but because they were the first founders and discoverers of that knowledge, which after Ages have but improved, and the world surely is much more beholding to those that first invent useful Arts and Sciences, than to those that onely [Page 99] improve them; it is therefore just, they should be allowed greater Glory, though they had much less knowledge then their followers. Besides, Theolo­gical speculations met with the latest and slowest improvements, and therefore those that might have considerable skill in other Theories, might be (as indeed they were) barbarously ignorant in these.

2. I perceive not any such clear Agreement be­tween the Platonick Philosophie and the Sacred Scri­ptures, as may give us any tolerable ground of sus­pecting the one to have been derived from the other: For most of the Notions, in which Plato speaks most consonantly to the Scriptures, are so obvious and so universally acknowledged, that it is easie to discern how he came by them, without any acquaintance with the holy Writings: such as are the Being of God, the Immortality of the Soul, the Essential dif­ferences of Good and Evil, some general Rules of Natural and Essential Goodness. Thus his Excep­tions against the Grecian Idolatry and Superstition must by all means be transcribed from the Mosaick Writings, and when in the Eighth Book of his Laws,V. Collium de animab. Pagan. l. 5. c. 17. 25. Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. Euseb. prepar. Evang. l. 11, 12. he enjoyns Solemn Festivals in honour of the Gods, he must needs have it from the fourth Commandment of the Decalogue, and when in the Tenth Book, he declaims against Irreverence in Divine Worship, he must by all means borrow it from the [Page 100] second Precept, and when in his Eleventh Book he treats of honour due from Children to their Parents, he must doubtlesly have read the fifth Command­ment, and the like in other Instances. Whereas the natural reasonableness of these Principles is in it self so apparently clear & evident, that they could scarce escape the observation of any rational and inquisitive man; and therefore Plato's lighting upon them is no more an Argument, that he was conversant in the Mosaick Writings, then is his saying that the Sun is the brightest Star in the Firmament. And then as for their more hidden and abstruse mysteries, where they seem to agree most, their difference is greater then their agreement; and it would not be difficult to shew how these Notions, which have the fairest Consonancy to Scripture, are derived from Hypothe­ses that have none at all, as I shall anon evince in the Article of the Trinity. And shall in the Interim shew the infirmity and vanity of this conceit, by shewing the weakness of that Authority, upon which it is grounded.

The first time then, that I met with it, was in Modern Authors, who vouch'd the Authority of the Primitive Fathers for it, betaking my self there­fore to them, I found some of them to aver it in­deed with no small earnestness, especially Clemens Alexandrinus, Eusebius, Theodoret, but upon no better grounds, then the naked assertions of two or three [Page 101] Iews (especially Cleobulus and Iosephus) and that, when contending about the Glories and Preroga­tives of their own Nation, in which Controversie men of all Nations are apparently partial for their own, but none so grossly as the Jews; who would have their Nation the only Fountain of all know­ledge and wisdom (as if all other men had been meer Mushromes, and had not reason enough to re­flect upon and observe the natures and properties of Things) and therefore Aristobulus (the first Founder and Foundation of this Conceit) does with the same Confidence maintain that the Peripatetick Philosophie was stoln out of Moses and the Prophets,Apud Clem Alex­and. Strom. 5. as that the Fancies of Plato and Pythagoras were taken thence. There are perhaps one or two obsolete Grecian Testimonies produced on the behalf of this Opinion, but I shall not be at the pains critically to examine their weight and authority, because I have as great a suspition of all those obsolete records concerning the Iewish Nation cited by some Ancient Authors, as I have of their Sibillan Prophecies and other confessed Impostures, in that most of them discover their own Forgery: As those so famous and still credited Testimonies of Apollo's Oracle on behalf of the Jewes, of which there is [...] gre [...]t multitude in Eusebius his Praeparatio Evangelica, among the rest this is one of the famousest

lib. 9. c. 10.

[Page 102] The Chaldeans and Hebrews alone are Professors of true Wisdome, who worship the Eternal God in a pure and holy manner. 'Tis strange Eusebius should think the world so credulous (& yet so credulous it has been) as to believe that this Distick ever drop'd from A­pollo's Oracle, for whether that were inspired by the Priests, or by the Divel, I am confident they were neither of them so honest or so simple, as thus open­ly to commend the Iewish Religion and condemn their own.

But now as for those Writers, who were best able to give the truest account of the Commerce be­tween the Jewes and the Grecians (if there had been any) they are universally silent in it: The An­cient Records of Greece are scarce more silent in any thing, then the Iewish Nation. Though they relate frequent Voyages of their wise men into Forreigne Countries, yet no mention at all of their Iewish Traffick; they acknowledge their Geometrie to have been imported from Egypt, their Astronomie from Chaldea, their Arithmetick from Phenicia, their Theo­logie from Persia, but no account of their Cargo from Iudaea. And Lactantius justly and seriously chides with the Ancient Philosophers, because they neglected to trade with the Jewes for wisdome, as well as other Nations.De verâ Sap. cap. 2. Equidem mi [...]ari soleo (saies he) quod cum Pythagoras & postea Plato amore indagandae veritatis ad Aegyptios, & Ma­gos, [Page 103] & Persas usque Penetrassent, ut earum Gentium ritus & sacra Cognoscerent (suspicabantur enim sapien­tiam in Religione versari) ad Iudaeos tamen non acces­serint, penes quos tum solos fuit, & quo facilius ire po­tuissent. There are indeed some conjectures to make it probable that the Grecians might confound Iudea with Phaenicia, which if true, 'tis a good Argument that they had very little knowledge of it; for 'tis not likely that any, who conversed with the Iewish Nation should confound them with the Phaenicians, when there was so vast not only difference but con­trariety between them as to their Civil State, Laws, Customes, and Religion. Nay the Jewish Religion, Customes, & Laws being of so peculiar a constitu­tion from those of all other Nations, it can scarce be supposed but that those who so carefully observed the Laws and Customes of Forreign Nations, as the Grecian Philosophers did, should have taken a more signal and particular Notice of the Iewish Constitu­tions if they had been acquainted with them. Be­sides all which, let me add that we find as great a consonancy of the opinions of the Wise men of other Nations with the Hebrew Writings, where there ap­peare no foot-steps of commerce between them, as of the Grecians. For instance, though Numa Pom­pilius is generally acknowledged the first Pythagore­an (being more ancient then Pythagoras) yet there is not the least appearance of any commerce between [Page 104] him and the Jewes. And therefore when Mr Selden thinks that if those 7 Books of Wisdome found in the Field of Petilius An,De Iure Nat. & Gent. l. 1. c. 2. ab U. C. DLXX. and attributed to Numa by an In­scription upon the Chest in which they were, were really his, that he was probably not unacquain­ted with the Discipline of the Hebrews, only because Cassius Hemina and C. Piso in Plinie report that the matter contained in them was very consonant to the Pythagorick Philosophie; the best foundation of the conjecture is the (deserved) greatness of his own name and authority, for you cannot but perceive that in it self 'tis very fond & frivolous, and if such a licentious latitude may be allowed in historical guesses, Quidli­bet ex Quolibet will soon be as warantable a maxime in History, as 'tis in the Epicurean Philosophie. It were easie to have given you a larger account hereof, but I write a Letter not a Treatise.

3. As to the pretence of a Vocal Cabala, I can scarce without amazement consider with what confidence and eagerness some learned men of late have cryed up an invention so novel and fanciful; for I know no­thing more precarious and destitute of tolerable pre­tences then these Cabalistical Traditions, being only a late & silly Invention of the Iewish Rabbins: for they are altogether unknown to and unmentioned by the ancient both Jewes and Christians.Oedip. tom. 2. class. 4. prefat. And yet Kircher (who never gives out at cre­dulity) [Page 105] would have every one that does not believe the Divine Original of the Cabala to be convict­ed of Heresie as an Enemy to the Divine Provi­dence. But for my part, I cannot understand how any Rational man can be at all concerned for so vain and frivolous an Invention of the Modern (i. e. trifling) Rabbins. But he that could find all the Learning of the world in an Egyptian Hiero­glyphick may find all the Articles of his Faith in a Rabbinical Fable. 'Tis certain that the Cabala was invented since the dispersion of the Iewish Nation, (there being not the least footsteps of it before) but in what Century or Period is uncertain and must remain so, for from the Destruction of Ierusalem there commenced as to the Iewish History a Tem­pus [...] (a Period alwayes fit for Fables;) there being no Records or Monuments of their Condition and Affairs, (unless some few fabulous Relati­ons in the Talmud.) But whatever became of them, 'tis certain that being given up to a vain and trifling spirit, they imployed themselves, in foolish & absurd Inventions, of which making Mystical and Allegorical Interpretations of Scripture is none of the least: especially when they prefer them so much before the true and literal meaning: for they com­pare the Scripture it self to a Candle, but the My­stical sense to a Iewel, for the discovery where­of [Page 106] of the Candle is lighted; and the Misnical Doctors (that is, they that study onely the litteral sense) are compared to Apothecaries, who only prepare those Medicaments, which the Physitian prescribes, but the Cabbalistical Doctors to Physitians, who understand their Natures, Uses, and secret Pro­perties. And therefore they leave the litteral and superficial sense of Scripture, to the rude and ig­norant People, whilst they that are Learned dive into the mysteries and depths of the Law, and by the help of Fancy fetch strange and wonderful secrets from Words, Letters, Points, from their several Shapes, Combinations, Transpositions, Abbreviatures, Arithmetical Indications, and the like. And then with a frontless Impudence, as­sert that they came Originally from Adam, Abra­ham, and Moses. You may see enough of this Cab­balistical Trash in a thousand Authours, but most Copiously in Reuchlin de Arte Cabbalistica, and in that grand Thesaurus of Learned Trifles, Kirchers Oedip. tom. 2. Class. 4. The first that produced them into the Christian World was the Earl of Mirandula, in whose time the very word Cabbala was so unknown, that (as Hottinger relates out of Garzon) it was taken for a Witch, Vetula venesi­cits dedit [...]. And the Earl himself relates in his Apology, that one of his greatest Antagonists be­ing [Page 107] asked what this Cabbala was, replyed that he was a certain notorious Heretick, that had oppo­sed himself against Iesus Christ, and that from him his Accomplices and Followers were named Cab­balistae. The Earl, when he had at a high price purchased some small fragments of it from the Iews, thought himself Master of the most ancient and valuable Monument in the World: The mi­stake was pardonable in him, but unpardonable in those who since have had opportunity to examine its first rise and antiquity, and cannot discern the least Traces of it beyond the Talmudical Rabbins: Besides this, I might overthrow the Cabbala from rational Arguments taken from the thing it selfe, as that it would reflect upon the Wisdom of God, that he should conveigh down such material and important Truths (as are supposed to be contained in the Cabbala) by so uncertain and questionable a way, as Oral Tradition. That it renders the Word of God ridiculous and useless, and makes its mean­ing altogether doubtful and ambiguous, and expo­ses it to the giddy and fanciful Conjectures of e­very warm Brain: but the groundlesness of the thing it self, makes all other confutation needless. Some (not unlearned men) have urged the Consistency of the Cabbala with it self, and the suitableness of the Allegory to the Text as no contemptible Argument [Page 108] of its Truth and Solidity. But alas, (beside that most of their Analogies between the Mystery and the Text are sufficiently forced and uncouth) there's nothing more easie then for Fancy to find some Consonancy between the most distant things, especially in such various and unlimited things as Allegories are. If you should require it, I think I could with an ordinary plausibility draw up a bo­dy of the Epicurean Philosophie out of the Writings of Iacob Behem, and yet perhaps it would puzle you to think of any Hypotheses of a more distant Genius then they. Such an Africa is Fancy, that it can couple things of the most distant and con­trary Natures. And therefore I shall never think the prettiest Parallels, Analogies, and Similitudes, to be any tollerable Arguments.

4. Having thus evidenced the unwarrantable Rashness of deriving Platonick Notions from Iew­ish Traditions, I come in the next place to give (1.) A brief Account of the Rise of that seem­ing agreeableness between the Platonick and the Christian Trinity. (2.) To shew by what Prin­ciples and steps the Platonists happened upon their Triad.

For the first it seems to have its Original from those counterfeit and supposititious Authors, which pretended to the greatest Antiquity, but yet were [Page 109] really composed by the Gnosticks out of the Ethnick and Christian Theologie, and ascribed to names of the greatest Antiquity and Veneration, such as Hermes Trismegistus, Zoroasters Oracles, the Sybillan Prophe­cies, now it were strange if in these Authors there did not appear some kind of Resemblance and Vi­cinity between the Platonick Philosophie and the Holy Scriptures, seeing they had by all Artificial ways blended them together; as by coupling their different terms to express the same thing, for where­as the Scripture stiles the first Person of the Trinity [...], and Plato the first of his Trinity [...], they joyn'd them together, and call him [...], and as the Second Person is in Scripture termed [...], and in Plato [...], in these he is generally stiled [...]: Now they that knew nothing of the Imposture, meeting with such an Artificial agreement between Platonick Notions and Christian Doctrines, might easily imagine that it was natural. The first Author of this mistake seems to have been Ammonius of Alexandria (Father to that Golden Chain of Philosophers of the Sacred succession) who being both a Christian and a Platonist, & lighting upon these Spurious Books, in which the Platonick Notions and Christian Articles were blended and reconciled together, might thence be easily indu­ced to fancy a true and real ConsonancyPa [...]arch. lib. 9. between them, And therefore Patricius avers [Page 110] that he was the first that understood aright the no­tion of Plato's Threefold Principle, and that he came by this knowledge by perusing the Books of Trisme­gistus. And hence those Platonists that followed him might speak of the Trinity more consonantly to the Scriptures, then perhaps they intended, though not long after these Impostures were discovered by Porphyrie, as himself relates in the Life of Plo­tinus.

For the second, the Platonick Triad is widely dif­ferent from the Christian, for they intend by it so many Orders and Ranks of Intellectual Beings, and frequently added a fourth, which was the Humane Soul, and set it at no greater distance from the Third, by which they meant the Soul of this Universe, then that was removed from the Second, by which they meant the First mind or soul of the Immaterial world. And their Progress to the knowledge of these Beings proceeded in this Method.

1. They suppose all things to ascend by Scales to Unity, as Plato endeavours to prove in his Parmeni­des, [...] Unity is the Origine of all Number, or all mix'd and compounded Beings must be at last resolved into some one simple and unmix'd Principle, otherwise the resolution would be endless, so that all blended and Heterogeneous Per­fections both material and immaterial must of ne­cessity [Page 111] exist somewhere simple and unmix'd. And then all Immaterial Perfections being found blended together in the Humane Soul, they concluded that as many degrees of Perfection as they could discover there, that there were so many Ranks of superior and more homogeneal Beings in the Intellectual world. The Soul therefore (as they apprehended) consi­sting of four parts, must have the fourth Rank in the order of Intellectual Beings, and by consequence there must be three superior Orders more simple and uncompounded, which must by several steps as far exceed each other, as the lowest order surmounts the Soul, to the highest whereof must of necessity agree pure and meer simplicity.

2. That which is the supream Being, and conse­quently the first Author of all other Beings, must of necessity be the highest perfection, and contain in it self all the Excellency and Accomplishments of all its Productions, & yet by vertue of the former maxime it can be but one simple and uncompounded per­fection, and therefore to find out its Nature, they consider with themselves what one Simple Perfe­ction is so absolute and transcendent as to compre­hend all others; and at length conclude that Good­ness is the most consummate and most entirely com­pleat Perfection conceivable, and therefore that the most simple and unmixt Goodness must be the First [Page 112] Being. Which as 'tis [...] i. e. pure goodness, so it is [...] i. e. meer Unity or rather simplicity, and has the same Relation to the other Beings, as Unity has to Number. Now they do not attribute the Crea­tion and Government of the world to this Being we have already discovered, but to the second Being, for, say they, it could not flow from the First, unless the Ideas of all Things had resided in him, but then he could not have been absolutely simple, having such a multiplicity of Ideas within him. But Ideas lodging in the Intellect, the Second Being which was no­thing but Intellect was not only capable of receiving them, but had in him as it were an Ocean of them, which flowing from him filled all Possibilities of Being with actual Existencies. Upon this account they stiled there [...] because it was not the immediate Fountain of Things, but only the Cause of that which was. And therefore I am apt to think that upon what Rationalities soever they pretend to introduce their [...], that their first inducement to it was, that they might rise higher then Anaxa­goras and those other Philosophers, that asserted an Eternal [...] to be the First Being and First Cause of all things.

3. Intellect or Understanding being the Noblest Perfection next to Goodness, the second thing must be simply and absolutely [...], and being the Supream [Page 113] Entity, it must also be [...], but because 'tis com­pounded of Intellect and Entity 'tis [...] only by Parti­cipation. And hence was started that nice Contro­versy, whether is superior Ens or Unum? The Earl of Mirandula's Book de Uno & Ente is only a Dispute against the Platonists, to prove Unity not superior to Entity, because they assert their Original and Uncreated [...] to be the Principle of all Beings, whilst it self is [...], and therefore they will not permit you to terme it [...], but have inven­ted that higher one of [...] a Nature that is placed above Essentiality. But seeing (by the way) [...] sig­nifies nothing but the Essence or Existence of the Thing, to which it is applyed, 'tis a gross Contra­diction to deny it▪ of any thing, that really exists, because if it exists, it must surely be it self, and if so, it may by consequence with as great Propriety of speech be denominated [...], as any thing else. But whatever that Term imports, the signification of [...] is of necessity most uncertain and ambiguous, for no body understands how much [...] advanceth the signification of [...], and because it may signifie any thing it does in effect signifie nothing, for an in­determinate signification is all one with an insignificant one. And yet in this Particle consists a great part of the mysterious sublimity of the supposititious and counterseit Areopagite. But 'tis not my business to [Page 114] confute but to represent their Notions, seeing there­fore they will Place the Supream Cause of all [...]; the Second Being in order which is [...], must be [...] becasuse it is [...].

4. Their third Principle, which proceeds from the second as that from the first, is [...], by which they understand nothing but the Soul of the Uni­verse, and therefore usually stile it [...], as be­ing the Architect of the World; and hence as they assert the [...] or self originated Goodness to be [...] Causally Intellect; and the [...] or First mind to be [...] Causally Soul, so they make [...] to be [...] be­cause 'tis the Cause of Matter and the Universe. I have already given you Plato's wild description of this Hypostasis; and therefore (especially because I begin to tire and faulter) I shall not trouble you with any farther account thereof, having sufficiently shewed the difference of the vulgar Doctrine of the Trinity from the Platonick Triad, and withal from what Principles and by what Reasonings the Pla­tonists hap'ned to own and assert their Threefold Principle.

It were easie (Sir) to add Infinite Considerations more, but if these wherewith I have already pre­sented you be material, I have said enough; if not, too much. Being therefore already tyred, I will [Page 115] not put my self to the trouble of caressing you with a fine and courtly Conclusion, but shall Bluntly and without any Ceremony summ up the main scope and signification of this tedious Letter into this one Serious and Eternal Truth, that I am,

Sir Your most Faithful most Humble, and most Affectionate Servant, S. PARKER.

PAg. 16. l. 15. for Mortality read Morality. p. 18. l. 7. for scrambling for aspiring read scrambling for And aspiring. p. 33. l. 3. for Politanus read Politianus. p. 93. l. ult. for [...] read [...]


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