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RALPH CUDWORTH A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality - Lewis Amherst Selby-Bigge, British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, vol. 2 
British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, edited with an Introduction and analytical Index by L.A. Shelby-Bigge in two volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897). Vol. 2.
Part of: British Moralists, being Selections from Writers principally of the Eighteenth Century, 2 vols.
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RALPH CUDWORTH A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality
[Written before 1688. First published 1731. Reprinted here from the posthumous first edition.]
813 I. Wherefore in the first Place, it is a Thing which we shall very easily demonstrate, That Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, Honest and Dishonest, (if they be not meer Names without any Signification, or Names for nothing else, but Willed and Commanded, but have a Reality in Respect of the Persons obliged to do and avoid them) cannot possibly be Arbitrary things, made by Will without Nature; because it is Universally true, That things are what they are, not by Will but by Nature. As for Example, Things are White by Whiteness, and Black by Blackness, Triangular by Triangularity, and Round by Rotundity, Like by Likeness, and Equal by Equality, that is, by such certain Natures of their own. Neither can Omnipotence itself (to speak with Reverence) by meer Will make a Thing White or Black without Whiteness or Blackness; that is, without such certain Natures, whether we consider them as Qualities in the Objects without us according to the Peripatetical Philosophy, or as certain Dispositions of Parts in respect of Magnitude, Figure, Site and Motion, which beget those Sensations or Phantasms of White and Black in us. Or, to instance in Geometrical Figures, Omnipotence itself cannot by meer Will make a Body Triangular, without having the Nature and Properties of a Triangle in it; That is, without having three Angles equal to two Right ones, nor Circular without the Nature of a Circle; that is, without having a Circumference Equidistant every where from the Center or Middle Point. Or lastly, to instance in things Relative only; Omnipotent Will cannot make Things Like or Equal one to another, without the 814 Natures of Likeness and Equality. The Reason whereof is plain, because all these Things imply a manifest Contradiction; That things should be what they are not. And this is a Truth fundamentally Necessary to all Knowledge, that Contradictories cannot be true: For otherwise, nothing would be certainly true or false. Now things may as well be made White or Black by meer Will, without Whiteness or Blackness, Equal and Unequal, without Equality and Inequality, as Morally Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, Honest and Dishonest, Debita and Illicita, by meer Will, without any Nature of Goodness, Justice, Honesty. For though the Will of God be the Supreme Efficient Cause of all things, and can produce into Being or Existence, or reduce into Nothing what it pleaseth, yet it is not the Formal Cause of any Thing besides itself, as the Schoolmen have determined, in these Words,1 That God himself cannot supply the Place of a formal Cause: And therefore it cannot supply the Formal Cause, or Nature of Justice or Injustice, Honesty or Dishonesty. Now all that we have hitherto said amounts to no more than this, that it is impossible any Thing should Be by Will only, that is, without a Nature or Entity, or that the Nature and Essence of any thing should be Arbitrary.
815 2 And since a Thing cannot be made any thing by meer Will without a Being or Nature, every Thing must be necessarily and immutably determined by its own Nature, and the Nature of things be that which it is, and nothing else. For though the Will and Power of God have an Absolute, Infinite and Unlimited Command upon the Existences of all Created things to make them to be, or not to be at Pleasure; yet when things exist, they are what they arc, This or That, Absolutely or Relatively, not by Will or Arbitrary Command, but by the Necessity of their own Nature. There is no such thing as an Arbitrarious Essence, Mode or Relation, that may be made indifferently any Thing at Pleasure: for an Arbitrarious Essence is a Being without a Nature, a Contradiction, and therefore a Non-Entity. Wherefore the Natures of Justice and Injustice cannot be Arbitrarious Things, that may be Applicable by Will indifferently to any Actions or Dispositions whatsoever. For the Modes of all Subsistent Beings, and the Relations of things to one another, are immutably and necessarily what they are, and not Arbitrary, being not by will but by Nature.
816 3. Now the necessary Consequence of that which we have hitherto said is this, That it is so far from being true, that all Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust are meer Arbitrary and Factitious things, that are created wholly by Will; that (if we would speak properly) we must needs say that nothing is Morally Good or Evil, Just or Unjust by meet Will without Nature, because every thing is what it is by Nature, and not by Will. For though it will be objected here, that when God, or Civil Powers Command a Thing to be done, that was not before1 obligatory or unlawful, the thing Willed or Commanded doth forthwith become 2 Obligatory, that which ought to be done by Creatures and Subjects respectively; in which the Nature of Moral Good or Evil is commonly Conceived to consist. And therefore ff all Good and Evil, Just and Unjust be not the Creatures of meer Will (as many assert) yet at least Positive things must needs owe all their Morality, their Good and Evil to meer Will without Nature: Yet notwithstanding, if we well Consider it, we shall find that even in Positive Commands themselves, meer Will doth not make the thing commanded Just or Obligatory, or beget and create any Obligation to Obedience; but that it is Natural Justice or Equity, which gives to one the Right or Authority of Commanding, and begets in another Duty and Obligation to Obedience. Therefore it is observable, that Laws and Commands do not run thus, to Will that this or that thing shall become Just or Unjust, Obligatory or Unlawful; or that Men shall be obliged or bound to obey; but only to require that something be done or not done, or otherwise to menace Punishment to the Transgressors thereof. For it was never heard of, that any one founded all his Authority of Commanding others, and others Obligation or Duty to Obey his Commands, in a Law of his own making, that men should be Required, Obliged, or Bound to Obey him, Wherefore since the thing willed in all Laws is not that men should be Bound or Obliged to Obey; this thing cannot be the product of the meer Will of the Commander, but it must proceed from something else; namely, the Right or Authority of the Commander, which is founded in natural Justice and Equity, and an antecedent Obligation to Obedience in the Subjects; which things are not Made by Laws, but pre-supposed before all Laws to make them valid: And if it should be imagined, that any one should make a positive Law to require that others should be Obliged, or Bound to Obey him, every one would think such a Law ridiculous and absurd; for if they were Obliged before, then this Law would be in vain, and to no Purpose; and if they were not before Obliged, then they could not be Obliged by any Positive Law, because they were not previously Bound to Obey such a Person's Commands: So that Obligation to Obey all Positive Laws is Older than all Laws, and Previous or Antecedent to them. Neither is it a thing that is arbitrarily Made by Wail, or can be the Object of Command, but that which either Is or Is not by Nature. And if this were not Morally Good and Just in its own Nature before any Positive Command of God, That God should be Obeyed by his Creatures, the bare Will of God himself could not beget an Obligation upon any to Do what he Willed and Commanded, because the Natures of things do not depend upon Will, being not things that are arbitrarily Made, but things that Are. To conclude therefore, even in Positive Laws and Commands it is not meet Will that Obligeth, but the Natures of Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, really existing in the World.
817 4. Wherefore that common Distinction betwixt things, things naturally and positively Good and Evil, or (as others express it) betwixt Things that are therefore commanded because they are Good and Just, and Things that are therefore Good and Just, because they are Commanded, stands in need of a right Explication, that we be not led into a mistake thereby, as if the Obligation to do those Thetical and Positive things did arise wholly from Will without Nature: Whereas it is not the meer Will and Pleasure of him that commandeth, that obligeth to do Positive things commanded, but the Intellectual Nature of him that is commanded. Wherefore the Difference of these things lies wholly in this, That there are some things which the Intellectual Nature obligeth to of it self, and directly, absolutely and perpetually, and these things are called naturally Good and Evil; other things there are which the same Intellectual Nature Obligeth to by Accident only, and hypothetically, upon Condition of some voluntary Action either of our own or some other Persons, by means whereof those things which were in their own Nature indifferent, falling under something that is absolutely Good or Evil, and thereby acquiring a new Relation to the Intellectual Nature, do for the time become such Things as Ought to be Done or Omitted, being Made such not by Will but by Nature. As for Example, To keep Faith and perform Covenants, is that which natural Justice obligeth to absolutely; therefore upon the Supposition that any one maketh a Promise, which is a voluntary Act of his own, to do something which he was not before Obliged to by natural Justice, upon the intervention of this voluntary Act of his own, that indifferent thing promised falling now under something absolutely Good, and becoming the Matter of Promise and Covenant, standeth for the present in a new Relation to the Rational Nature of the Promiser, and becometh for the time a thing which Ought to be done by hml, or which he is obliged to do. Not as if the meer Will or Words and Breath of him that covenanteth had any power to change the Moral Natures of things, or any Ethical Vertue of Obliging; but because Natural Justice and Equity obligeth to keep Faith and perform Covenants. In like manner Natural Justice, that is, the Rational or Intellectual Nature, obligeth not only to Obey God, but also Civil Powers, that have lawful Authority of Commanding, and to observe Political order amongst men; and therefore if God or Civil Powers command any thing to be done that is not unlawful in it self; upon the intervention of this voluntary Act of theirs, those things that were before Indifferent, become by accident for the time Obligatory, such things as Ought to be done by us, not for their own sakes, but for the sake of that which Natural Justice absolutely obligeth to.
818 And these are the things that are commonly called Positively Good and Evil, Just or Unjust, such as though they are adiaphorous or Indifferent in themselves, yet Natural Justice obligeth to accidentally, on Supposition of the voluntary Action of some other Person rightly qualified in Commanding, whereby they fall into something Absolutely Good. Which things are not made Good or Due by the meer Will or Pleasure of the Commander, but by that Natural Justice which gives him Right and Authority of Commanding, and Obligeth others to Obey him; without which Natural Justice, neither Covenants nor Commands could possibly oblige any one. For the Will of another doth no more oblige in Commands, than our own Will in Promises and Covenants. To conclude therefore, Things called Naturally Good and Due are such things as the Intellectual Nature Obliges to immediately, absolutely and perpetually, and upon no Condition of any voluntary Action that may be Done or Omitted intervening; but those things that are called Positively Good and Due, are such as Natural. Justice or the Intellectual Nature Obligeth to accidentally and hypothetically, upon Condition of some voluntary Act of another Person invested with lawful Authority in Commauding.
819 And that it is not the meer Will of the Commander, that makes these Positive things to Oblige or become Due, but the Nature of things; appears evidently from hence, because it is not the volition of every one that Obligeth, but of a Person rightly qualified and invested with lawful Authority; and because the liberty of commanding is circumscribed within certain Bounds and Limits, so that if any Commander go beyond the Sphere and Bounds that Nature sets him, which are indifferent things, his Commands will not at all oblige.
820 5. But if we would speak yet more accurately and precisely, we might rather say, That no Positive Commands whatsoever do make any thing morally Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, which Nature had not made such before. For Indifferent things Commanded, Considered Materially in themselves, remain still what they were before in their own Nature, that is, Indifferent, because (as Aristotle speaks) Will cannot change Nature. And those things that are by Nature Indifferent, must needs be as immutably so, as those things that are by Nature Just or Unjust, honest or shameful. But all the Moral Goodness, Justice and Virtue that is exercised in Obeying Positive Commands, and doing such things as are positive only and to be done for no other Cause but because they axe Commanded, or in respect to Political Order consisteth not in the Materiality of the Actions themselves, but in that Formality of yielding Obedience to the Commands of Lawful Authority in them. Just as when a man Covenanteth or Promiscth to do an Indifferent thing which by Natural Justice he was not bound to do, the Virtue of doing it consisteth not in the Materiality of the Action promised, hut in the Formality of Keeping Faith and Performing Covenants. Wherefore in Positive Commands, the Will of the Commander doth not create any New Moral Entity, but only diversly Modifies and Determines that general Duty or Obligation of Natural Justice to Obey Lawful Authority and Keep Oaths and Covenants, as our own Will in Promising doth but produce several Modifications of keeping Faith. And therefore there are no New things Just or due made by either of them, besides what was alway by nature Such, to Keep our own Promises, and Obey the Lawful Commands of others.
821 6. We see then that it is so far from being true, that all Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust of they be any thing) are made by meet Will and Arbitrary Commands (as many conceive) that it is not possible that any Command of God or Man should Oblige otherwise than by Virtue of that which Is Naturally Just. And tho’ Particular Promises and Commands be made by Will, yet it is not Will but Nature that obligeth to the doing of things Promised and Commanded, or makes them such things as ought to be done. For meet Will cannot change the Moral Nature of Actions, nor the Nature of Intellectual Beings. And therefore if there were no Natural Justice, that is, if the Rational or Intellectual Nature in its self were mdetermined and Unobliged to anything, and so destitute of all Morality, it were not possible that any thing should be made Morally Good or Evil, obligatory or unlawful, or that any Moral Obligation should be begotten by any Will or Command whatsoever.
822 I. BUT some there are that will still Contend, that though it should be granted that Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust do not depend upon any Created Will, yet notwithstanding they must needs depend upon the Arbitrary Will of God, because the Natures and Essences of all things, and consequently all Verities and Falsities, depend upon the same. For if the Natures and Essences of things should not depend upon the Will of God, it would follow from hence, that something that was not God was independent upon God.
2. And this is plainly asserted by that ingenious Philosopher Renatus Des Cartes, who in his Answer to the Sixth Objector against his Metaphysical Meditations, writes thus: It is a Contradiction to say, that the Will of God was not from Eternity Indifferent to all things which are or ever shall be done; because no Good or Evil, nothing to be Believed or Done or Omitted, can be fixed upon, the Idea whereof was in the Divine Intellect before that his Will Determined it self to Effect that such a thing should be. Neither do I speak this concerning Priority of Time, but even there was nothing Prior in Order or by Nature, or Reason as they call it, so as that that Idea of Good inclined God to chuse one thing rather than another. As for Example sake, he would therefore create the World in Time, because that he saw that it would be better so than if he had created it from Eternity; neither willed he that the three Angles of a Triangle should be Equal to two Right Angles, because he knew that it could not be otherwise. But on the contrary, because he would create the World in Time, therefore it is better than if he had created it from Eternity; and because he would that the three Angles of a Triangle should necessarily be equal to two Right Angles, therefore this is true and can be no otherwise; and so of other things. And thus the Greatest Indifference in God is the Greatest Argument of his Omnipotence.
823 And again afterward, To him that Considers the Immensity of God it is Manifest, That there can be nothing at all which doth not depend upon him, not only nothing Subsisting, but also no Order, no Law, no Reason of Truth and Goodness.
And when he was again urged by the Sixth Objector, Could not God cause that the Nature of a Triangle should not be such? and how, I pray thee, could he from Eternity cause that it should not be true, That twice four are eight? He confesseth ingenuously that those things were not intelligible to us; but yet notwithstanding they must be so, because Nothing in any Sort of Being can be, which doth not depend upon God. Which Doctrine of Cartesius is greedily swallowed down by some Servile Followers of his that have lately written of the Old Philosophy.
824 3. Perhaps some may make a Question for all this, whether Cartesius were any more in earnest in this, than when he elsewhere goes about to defend the Doctrine of Transubstantiation by the Principles of his new Philosophy, because in his Meditations upon the old Philosophy (where it is probable he would set clown tha genuine Sense of his own Mind more undisguisedly, before he was assaulted by these Objectors, and thereby forced to turn himseff into several Shapes) he affirmeth that the Essences of things were eternal and immutable; but being afterward urged by Gassendus with this Inconvenience, that then something would be eternal and immutable besides God, and so independent upon God, he doth in a manner unsay it again, and betakes himself to this pitiful Evasion, As the Poets feign that the Fates were indeed fixed by Jupiter, but that when they were fixed, he had obliged himself to the preserving of them; so I do not think that the Essences of things, and those mathematical Truths which can be known of them, are independent on God; but I think nevertheless that because God so willed, and so ordered, therefore they are immutable and eternal; which is plainly to make them in their own Nature mutable. But whether Cartesius were in jest or earnest in this Business, it matters not, for his bare Authority ought to be no more valued by us than the Authority of Aristotle and other antient Philosophers was by him, whom he so freely dissents from.
825 4. For though the Names of things may be changed by any one at pleasure, as that a Square may be called a Circle, or a Cube a Sphere; yet that the Nature of a Square should not be necessarily what it is, but be arbitrarily convertible into the Nature of a Circle, and so the Essence of a Circle into the Essence of a Sphere, or that the self-same Body, which is perfectly cubical, without any physical Alteration made in it, should by this metaphysical Way of Transformation of Essences, by meer Will and Command be made spherical or cylindrical; this doth most plainly imply a Contradiction, and the Compossibility of Contradictions destroys all Knowledge and the definite Natures or Notions of things. Nay, that which implies a Contradiction is a Non-Entity, and therefore cannot be the Object of Divine Power. And the Reason is the same for all other things, as just and unjust; for every thing is what it is immutably by the Necessity of its own Nature; neither is it any Derogation at all from the Power of God to say, that he cannot make a thing to be that which it is not. Then there might be no such thing as Knowledge in God himself. God might will that there should be no such thing as Knowledge.
826 5. And as to the Being or not Being of Particular Essences, as that God might, if he pleased, have Willed that there should be no such thing as a Triangle or Circle, and therefore nothing Demonstrable or Knowable of either of them; which is likewise asserted by Cartesius, and those that make the Essences of things dependent upon an Arbitrary Will in God: This is all one as if one should say, that God could have Willed, if he had pleased, that neither his own Power nor Knowledge should be Infinite.
827 6. Now it is certain, that if the Natures and Essences of all things, as to their being such or such, do depend upon a Will of God that is essentially Arbitrary, there can be no such thing as Science or Demonstration, nor the Truth of any Mathematical or Metaphysical Proposition be known any otherwise, than by some Revelation of the Will of God concerning it, and by a certain Enthusiastick or Fanatick Faith and Perswasion thereupon, that God would have such a thing to be true or false at such a time, or for so long. And so nothing would be true or false Naturally but Positively only, all Truth and Science being meer Arbitrarious things. Truth and Falshood would be only Names. Neither would there be any more Certainty in the Knowledge of God himself, since it must wholly depend upon the Mutability of a Will in him Essentially Indifferent and Undetermin'd; and if we would speak properly according to this Hypothesis, God himself would not Know or be Wise by Knowledge or by Wisdom, but by Will.
828 7. Wherefore as for that Argument, That unless the Essences of things and all Verities and Falsities depend upon the arbitrary Will of God, there would be something that was not God, independent upon God; if it be well consider'd, it will prove a meer Bugbear, and nothing so terrible and formidable as Cartesius seemed to think it. For there is no other genuine Consequence deducible from this Assertion, That the Essences and Verities of things are independent upon the Will of God, but that there is an eternal and immutable Wisdom in the Mind of God, and thence participated by Created Beings independent upon the Will of God. Now the Wisdom of God is as much God as the Will of God; and whether of these two things in God, that is, Will or Wisdom, should depend upon the other, will be best determined from the several Natures of them. For Wisdom in it self hath the Nature of a Rule and Measure, it being a most Determinate and Inflexible thing; but Will being not only a Blind and Dark thing, as consider'd in it self, but also Indefinite and Indeterminate, hath therefore the Nature of a thing Regulable and Measurable. Wherefore it is the Perfection of Will, as such, to be guided and determined by Wisdom and Truth; but to make Wisdom, Knowledge and Truth, to be Arbitrarily determined by Will, and to be regulated by such a Plumbean and Flexible Rule as that is, is quite to destroy the Nature of it; for Science or Knowledge is the Comprehension of that which necessarily is, and there can be nothing more contradictious than Truth and Falshood Arbitrary. Now all the Knowledge and Wisdom that is in Creatures, whether Angels or Men, is nothing else but a Participation of that one Eternal, Immutable and Increated Wisdom of God, or several Signatures of that one Archetypal Seal, or like so many multiplied Reflections of one and the same Face, made in several Glasses, whereof some are clearer, some obscurer, some standing nearer, some further off.
829 8. Moreover, it was the Opinion of the Wisest of the Philosophers, (as we shall shew afterward) That there is also in the Scale of Being a Nature of Goodness Superior to Wisdom, which therefore measures and determines the Wisdom of God, as his Wisdom measures and determines his Will, and which the antient Cabalists were wont to call כחד, a Crown, as being the Top or Crown of the Deity, of which more afterward. Wherefore altho’ some Novelists make a contracted Idea of God, consisting of Nothing else but Will and Power; yet his Nature is better expressed by some in this Mystical or Enigmatical Representation of an infinite Circle, whose inmost Center is Simple Goodness, the Rays and expanded Plat thereof, all Comprehending and Immutable Wisdom, the Exterior Periphery or Interminate Circumference, Omnipotent Will or Activity, by which every thing Without God is brought forth into Existence. Wherefore the Will and Power of God have no Command Inwardly1 either upon the Wisdom and Knowledge of God, or upon the ethical and Moral Disposition of his Nature, which is his Essential Goodness; but the Sphere of its Activity is 2 without God, where it hath an Absolute Command upon the Existences of things; and is always Free, tho’ not always indifferent, since it is its greatest Perfection to be determined by Infinite Wisdom and Infinite Goodness. But this is to anticipate what according to the Laws of Method should follow afterward in another Place.
830 Now the Demonstrative Strength of our Cause lying plainly in this, That it is not possible that any thing should Be without a Nature, and the Natures or Essences of all things being Immutable, therefore upon Supposition that there is any thing Really Just or Unjust,1 Due or unlawful, there must of necessity be something so both Naturally and Immutably, which no Law, Decree, Will, nor Custom can alter. There have not wanted some among the Old Philosophers, that rather than they would acknowledge any thing Immutably Just or Unjust, would not stick to shake the very Foundations of all things, and to deny that there was any Immutable Nature or Essence of any thing, and by Consequence any absolute Certainty of Truth or Knowledge; maintaining this strange Paradox, that Both all Being and Knowledge was Phantastical and Relative only, and therefore that Nothing was Good or Evil, Just or Unjust, True or False, White or Black, absolutely and Immutably, but Relatively to every Private Person's Humour or Opinion.* * * * * * *
831 WE have now abundantly confuted the Protagorean Philosophy, which, that it might be sure to destroy the Immutable Natures of Just and Unjust, would destroy all Science or Knowledge, and make it Relative and Phantastical. Having shewed that this Tenet is not only most absurd and contradictious in it self, but also manifestly repugnant to that very Atomical Physiology, on which Protagoras endeavoured to found it, and, than which nothing can more effectually confute and destroy it: and, also largely demonstrated, that though Sense be indeed a mere Relative and Phantastical Perceptlon, as Protagoras thus far rightly supposed; yet notwithstanding there is a Superior Power of Intellection and Knowledge of a different Nature from Sense, which is not terminated in meer Seeming and Appearance only, but in the Truth and Reality of things, and reaches to the Comprehension of that which Really and Absolutely is, whose Objects are the Eternal and Immutable Essences and Natures of Things, and their Unchangeable Relations to one another.
832 2. To prevent all Mistake, I shall again remember, what I have before intimated, that where it is affirmed that the Essences of all Things are Eternal and Immutable; which Doctrine the Theological Schools have constantly avouched, this is only to be understood of the Intelligible Essences and Rationes of Things, as they are the Objects of the Mind: And that there neither is nor can be any other Meaning of it, than this, that there is an Eternal Knowledge and Wisdom, or an Eternal Mind or Intellect, which comprehends within it self the Steady and Immutable Rationes of all Things and their Verities, from which all Particular Intellects are derived, and on which they do depend. But not that the Constitutive Essences of all Individual Created Things were Eternal and Uncreated, as if God in Creating of the World, did nothing else, but as some sarcastically express it, Sartoris instar Rerum Essentias vestire Existentia, only cloathed the Eternal, Increated, and Antecedent Essences of Things with a New outside Garment of Existence, and not created the whole of them: And as if the Constitutive Essences of Things could Exist apart separately from the Things themselves, which absurd Conceit Aristotle frequently, and no less deservedly chastises.
833 3. Wherefore the Result of all that we have hitherto said is this, that the Intelligible Natures and Essences of Things are neither Arbitrary nor Phantastical, that is, neither Alterable by any Will whatsoever, nor changeable by Opinion; and therefore every Thing is Necessarily and Immutably to Science and Knowledge what it is, whether Absolutely, or Relatively, to all Minds and Intellects in the World. So that if Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust, signify any Reality, either Absolute or Relative, in the Things so denominated, as they must have some certain Natures, which are the Actions or Souls of Men, they are neither Alterable by meet Will nor Opinion.
834 Upon which Ground that wise Philosopher Plato, in his Minos, determines that Ηόμος, a Law, is not Δόγμα πόλεως, any Arbitrary Decree of a City or supreme Governours; because there may be Unjust Decrees, which therefore are no Laws, but the Invention of that which Is, or what is Absolutely or Immutably Just, in its own Nature. Though it be very true also, that the Arbitrary Constitutions of those that have Lawful Authority of Commanding, when they are not materially Unjust, are Laws also in a secondary Sense, by vertue of that Natural and Immutable Justice or Law that requires Political Order to be Observed.
835 4. But I have not taken all this Pains only to Confute Scepticism or Phantasticism, or meerly to defend and corroborate our Argument for the Immutable Natures of Just and Unjust; but also for some other Weighty Purposes that are very much conducing to the Business that we have in hand. And first of all, that the Soul is not a meer Rasa Tabula, a Naked and Passive Thing, which has no innate Furniture or Activity of its own, nor any thing at all in it, but what was impressed upon it without; for if it were so, then there could not possibly be any such Thing as Moral Good and Evil, Just and Unjust; Forasmuch as these Differences do not arise meerly from the outward Objects, or from the Impresses which they make upon us by Sense, there being no such Thing in them; in which Sense it is truly affirmed by the Author of the Leviathan. That there is no common Rule of Good and Evil to be taken from the Nature of the Objects themselves, that is, either considered absolutely in themselves, or Relatively to external Sense only, but according to some other interior Analogy which Things have to a certain inward Determination in the Soul it self, from whence the Foundation of all this Difference must needs arise, as I shall shew afterwards; Not that the Anticipations of Morality spring meerly from intellectual Forms and notional Ideas of the Mind, or from certain Rules or Propositions, arbitrarily printed upon the Soul as upon a Book, but from some other more inward, and vital Principle, in intellectual Beings, as such, whereby they have a natural Determination in them to do some Things, and to avoid others, which could not be, if they were meer naked Passive Things. Wherefore since the Nature of Morality cannot be understood, without some Knowledge of the Nature of the Soul, I thought it seasonable and requisite here to take this Occasion offered, and to prepare the Way to our following Discourse, by shewing in general, that the Soul is not a meer Passive and Receptive Thing, which hath no innate active Principle of its own, Because upon this Hypothesis there could be no such Thing as Morality.
836 5. Again, I have the rather insisted upon this Argument also, because that which makes Men so inclinable to think that Justice, Honesty and Morality are but thin, airy and phantastical Things, that have little or no Entity or Reality in them besides Sensuality, is a certain Opinion in Philosophy which doth usually accompany it, that Matter and Body are the first Original and Source of all Things; that there is no Incorporeal Substance superiour to Matter and independent upon it: And therefore that sensible Things are the only real and substantial Things in Nature; but Souls and Minds springing secondarily out of Body, that Intellectuality and Morality which belong unto them, are but thin and evanid Shadows of sensible and corporeal Things, and not natural, but artificial and factitious Things that do as it were border upon the Confines of Non-Entity.
837 6. This is a Thing excellently well observed by Plato, and therefore I shall set down his Words at large concerning it. ‘These Men making this Distribution of Things, that all Things that are, are either by Nature, or Art, or Chance, they imagine that the greatest and most excellent Things that are in the World, are to be attributed to Nature and Chance; which working upon those greater Things which are made by Nature, does form and fabricate certain smaller Things afterward, which we commonly call artificial Things. To speak more plainly, Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, they attribute wholly to Nature and Chance, but not to any Art or Wisdom; in like manner those Bodies of the Earth, the Sun, Moon and Stars, they will have to be made out of them fortuitously agitated; and so by Chance causing both divers Systems and Compages. of Things: thus they would have the whole Heavens made, and all the Earth and Animals, and all the Seasons of the Year, not by any Mind Intellect, or God, not by any Art or Wisdom, but all by blind Nature and Chance. But Art and Mind afterwards springing up out of these, to have begotten certain ludicrous Things, which have little Truth and Reality in them, but are like Images in a Glass, such as Picture and Musick produces. Wherefore these Men attribute all Ethicks, Politicks, Morality and Laws, not to Nature, but to Art, whose Productions are not real and substantial.’
838 7. Now this Philosopher, that he may evince that Ethicks, Politicks and Morality are as real and substantial Things, and as truly natural as those Things which belong to Matter, he endeavours to shew that Souls and Minds do not spring secondarily out of Matter and Body, but that they are real Things in Nature, superior and antecedent to Body and Matter. His Words are these: ‘These Men are all ignorant concerning the Nature of Mind and Soul, as in other Regards, so especially in respect of its Original, as it is in order of Nature before Matter and Body, and does not result out of it; but does command it, govern it, and rule it.’
And I have in like manner in this antecedent Discourse, endeavoured to shew that Wisdom, Knowledge, Mind and Intellect, are no thin Shadows or Images of corporeal and sensible Things, nor do result secondarily out of Matter and Body, and from the Activity and Impressions thereof; but have an independent and self-subsistent Being, which in order of Nature, is before Body; all particular created Minds being but derivative Participations of one Infinite Eternal Mind, which is antecedent to all corporeal Things.
839 8. Now from hence it naturally follows, that those Things which belong to Mind and Intellect, such as Morality, Ethicks, Politicks and Laws are, which Plato calls, The Offspring and Productions of Mind, are no less to be accounted natural Things, or real and substantial, than those things which belong to stupid and senseless Matter: For since Mind and Intellect are first in order of Nature before Matter and Body, those Things which belong to the Mind must needs be in order of Nature before those Things which belong to the Body. ‘Wherefore Mind and Intellect, Art and Law, Ethicks and Morality are first in order of Nature, before Hard and Soft, Light and Heavy, Long and Broad, which belong to Body;’ and therefore more real and substantial Things. For since Mind and Intellect are a higher, more real and substantial Thing than senseless Body and Matter, and what hath far the more Vigour, Activity and Entity in it, Modifications of Mind and Intellect, such as Justice and Morality, must of Necessity be more real and substantial Things, than the Modifications of meer senseless Matter, such as Hard and Soft, Thick and Thin, Hot and Cold, and the like are. And therefore that grave Philosopher excellently well concludes, that ‘the greatest and first Works and Actions are of Art or of Mind, which were before Body; but those Things which are said to be by Nature (in which they abuse the Word Nature, appropriating it only to senseless and reanimate Matter) are afterwards, being governed by Mind and Art.’
840 9. Wherefore I thought our former Discourse seasonable to confute the Dulness and Grossness of those Philosophasters that make corporeal Things existing without the Soul, to be the only solid and substantial Things, and make their grossest external Senses the only Judges of Reality of Things, ‘ and so conclude nothing is or has any Reality but what they can grasp in their Hands, or have some gross or palpable Sense of.’
Whereas notwithstanding it is most true that those corporeal Qualities, which they think to be such Real Things existing in Bodies without them, are for the most part fantastlck and imaginary Things, and have no more Reality than the Colours of the Rainbow; and, as Plotinus expresseth it, ‘have no Reality at all in the Objects without us, but only a seeming Kind of Entity in our own Fancies;’ and therefore are not absolutely any Thing in themselves, but only relative to Animals. So that they do in a manner mock us, when we conceive of them as Things really existing without us, being nothing but our own Shadows, and the vital passive Energies of our own Souls.
841 Though it was not the Intention of God or Nature to abuse us herein, but a most wise Contrivance thus to beautify and adorn the visible and material World, to add Lustre or Imbellishment to it, that it might have Charms, Relishes and Allurements in it, to gratify our Appetities; Whereas otherwise really in it self, the whole corporeal World in its naked Hue, is nothing else but a Heap of Dust or Atoms, of several Figures and Magnitudes, variously agitated up and down; so that these Things, which we look upon as such real Things without us, are not properly the Modifications of Bodies themselves, but several Modifications, Passions and Affections of our own Souls.
842 10. Neither are these passive and sympathetical Energies of the Soul, when it acts confusedly with the Body and the Pleasures resulting from them, such real and substantial things as those that arise from the pure noetical Energies of the Soul it self Intellectually and Morally; for since the Mind and Intellect is in it self a more real and substantial Thing, and fuller of Entity than Matter and Body, those Things which are the pure Offspring of the Mind, and sprout from the Soul it self, must needs be more real and substantial than those Things which blossom from the Body, or from the Soul infeebled by it, and slumbering in it.
843 II. Wherefore that Philosopher professing and understanding to confute Atheists, and to shew, That all Atheists, though they pretend to Wit never so much, are but Bunglers at Reason, and sorry Philosophers, He, not without Cause, fetches his Discourse from hence, that’ They that thus infect Men's Minds with Impiety and Atheism, make that which is the first Cause of all Generation and Corruption, to be the last Thing in the Universe, and that which is the last to be the first: From hence proceeds their Errour concerning the Being of God;’ that is, they make Mind and Soul to be the last Thing, and Body and Matter to be the first.
844 This therefore is the only Course and Method which this Philosopher proceeds in to confute the Atheists; to shew ‘That Mind and Soul, in the Order of the Universe, are before Body, and not posterior to it; Mind and Soul being that which rules in the Universe, and Body that which is ruled and ordered by it.’ And there is no Phenomenon in the World but may be salved from this Hypothesis.
Now this he demonstrates, even from local Motion, because Body and Matter has no self-moving Power, and therefore it is moved and determined in its Motion by a higher Principle, a Soul or Mind; which Argument is further improved by the Author of that excellent philosophical Treatise, Book II. Chap. II.
845 12. Now, for the self-same Cause, I have endeavoured to demonstrate in the foregoing Discourse, that Knowledge and Intellection cannot possibly spring from Sense, nor the Radiation or Impresses of Matter and Body upon that which knows, but from an active Power of the Mind, as a Thing antecedent to Matter, and independent upon it, whereby it is enabled from within it self to exert intelligible Ideas of all Things.
846 13. Lastly, I have insisted the rather so largely upon this Argument, for this further Reason also, because it is not possible that there should be any such Thing as Morality, unless there be a God, that is, an Infinite Eternal Mind that is the first Original and Source of all Things, whose Nature is the first Rule and Exemplar of Morahty; for otherwise it is not conceivable, whence any such Thing should be derived to particular Intellectual Beings. Now there can be no such Thing as God, if stupid and senseless Matter be the first Original of all Things; and if all Being and Perfection that is found in the World, may spring up and arise out of the dark Womb of unthinking Matter; but if Knowledge and Understanding, if Soul, Mind and Wisdom may result and emerge out of it, then doubtless every thing that appears in the World may; and so Night, Matter, and Chaos, must needs be the first and only Original of all Things.
847 14. Wherefore Plato, as I have already intimated, taking Notice of the Opinion of divers Pretenders to Philosophy, ‘That Fire, Water, Air and Earth, are the first Beings of all, to which senseless and inanimate Things they appropriate the Title of Nature: But that Soul did spring up afterward out of these as a secondary Thing,’ and as a meer Shadow of them, he immediately adds concerning it, ‘We have here found and discovered the true Fountain of all that atheistical Madness that possesses most of those that deal in Physiology or Questions of Natural Philosophy,’ viz. That they are all possessed with this Sottishness, that Matter and Body is the first Original of all Things; and therefore it is observed by the same Author, that the same Persons that held all Things were derived from Body, Blind Nature and Chance, did both deny the Existence of God, and which is consentaneous thereunto, asserted, that Justice and Morality have no Nature or Entity at all, saying, they were nothing but Passion from Corporeal Things, without the Sentient or the Renitence, or the Reaction made upon local Motion in a Body duly mixed and tempered: that is, if Soul and Mind, Knowledge and Wisdom may thus arise from the Contemplation of meet senseless Matter, and Radiation or Impression that is the meer local Motion of corporeal Objects without, then, as we said before, there cannot possibly be the least Shadow of Argument left to prove a Deity by; since not only the souls of Men, but also all that Wisdom, Counsel and Contrivance that appears in the Frame of the whole visible World, might first arise in like manner from the meet casual Concourse and Contemperation of the whole Matter; either in those particular Bodies of the Sun and Stars, or else in the whole System and Compages of the material World it self.
848 15. Wherefore we have not only shewed that all Intellection and Knowledge does not emerge or emane out of Sense, but also that Sense it self is not a meer Passion or Reception of corporeal Impresses without, but that it is an active Energy and Vigour, though sympathetieal in the Sentient. And it is no more possible that this should arise out of senseless Matter and Atoms, by reason of any peculiar Contemperation or Contexture of them in respect of Figure, Site, and Motion, than that which all Atheists stoutly deny, that something should arise out of nothing.
And here we can never sufficiently applaud that antient atomical Philosophy, so successfully revived of late by Cartesius, in that it shews distinctly what Matter is, and what it can amount unto, namely, nothing else but what may be produced from meet Magnitude, Figure, Site, local Motion, and Rest; from whence it is demonstrably evident and mathematically certain, that no Cogitation can possibly arise out of the Power of Matter; whereas that other Philosophy which brings in a dark unintelligible Matter that is nothing and every thing, out of whose Potentiality not only innumerable Qualities, but also substantial Forms and sensitive Souls, (and therefore why not rational also, since all reason emerges out of Sense) may be educed, must of necessity perpetually brood and hatch Atheism. Whereas we cannot but extremely admire that monstrous Dotage and Sottishness of Epicurus, and some other spurious Pretenders to this Atomical Philosophy, that notwithstanding they acknowledge nothing else in Matter besides Magnitude, Figure, Site, and Motion, yet would make not only the Power of Sensation, but also of Intellection and Ratiocination, and therefore all human Souls, to arise from the mere Contexture of corporeal Atoms, and utterly explode all incorporeal Substances; than which two Assertions nothing can be more contradictious. And this is far more absurd, to make Reason and Intellection to arise from Magnitude, Figure and Motion, than to attribute those unintelligible Qualities to Matter which they explode.
Deum ipsum non posse supplere locum Causae formalis.
Debitum or illicitum.
Δέον or debitum.
Imperium ad intra.
Imperium ad intra.