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mankind with each other by words had been lost. And CHAP. I cannot see how mere matter and motion could help mankind either to frame words, or to utter them to others, without a tongue; nor how it could be framed by it.
The hand is so provided with joints, muscles, and tendons, for the great variety of necessary uses it serves mankind for, that he that can think it could be so contrived by chance, doth thereby shew that some can think only by chance without any reason; and it is a vain thing to hope to convince them. I shall not need to insist on the curiosity of the contrivance of all the muscles of the hands; but it is impossible for any man to give an account of the perforation of those muscles which serve for the use of some of the fingers and toes, from mere matter and motion; nor the ligaments Riolan. about the tendons of those muscles, for the greater 1. v. c. 28. easiness of their motion. Aristotle hath a discourse Aristot. de about the great use of a hand to mankind. Anaxago-1. iv. c. 10. ras, he saith, said that man was the wisest animal, because he alone had hands ; but, saith he, therefore man had hands, because he was the wisest; being best able to make use of such an excellent instrument. For that is the wisdom of nature to do as a wise man would do, i. e. to give the best instruments to the best workman. Now, saith he, the hand is the most useful instrument to him that is capable of making a good use of it. And therefore he blames those that said, Man was the worst provided for of any animals; for they have but one help afforded them by nature; but the hand is instead of all, for it can make use of all. And for that reason he shews how very convenient the make and fashion of the hand is, and the division of it into five parts; on which he insists at large. So that Aristotle was fully satisfied that the production of mankind was no casual or sponta
BOOK neous thing, but the effect of wisdom and under
These things I have here laid together at first, because this hypothesis of Diodorus Siculus hath been thought by some in our age to be the natural sense of mankind without revelation: whereas in truth it is the foundation of irreligion, and the reproach of mankind; but not the sense of the wisest part of them. And to make out this more effectually, I shall now proceed to consider and compare the sense of the most ancient philosophers on both sides, as to this point, whether the world was the effect of chance, or of a wise Providence. For if the world were made by a wise and intelligent Being, it can never be suspected that religion is an imposture, or a contrivance of politicians; for then it will appear to be built upon the truest rea
And I shall the more carefully inquire into the opinions of the eldest philosophers; because they were neither priests nor politicians, having no interest to carry on by the practice of religion. And some of them were born in a very good condition, and quitted their estates, or neglected other business, the more freely to attend on their philosophical inquiries. And therefore we have the more reason to search into their opinions, so far as relates to these matters.
It cannot be denied, that, after men began to be inquisitive into the philosophical reasons of things, there were some who set up for material causes only, without an efficient. And there were two different sorts of these; and the other schemes may be well reduced to them.
The first was of those who were the immediate successors of Thales.
For I see no reason to put him in the head of them, if what Cicero, Diogenes Laertius, and Plutarch report of him be true. For it is said in
Cicero, that Thales made God to be the mind that CHAP. formed all things. And to what
And to what purpose should Velleius say this, if this had not been then known to have Nat. Deor. been his opinion? For it had been better for his design l. i. c. 10. to have made so great a man as Thales was esteemed, to have excluded God and Providence. Diogenes Laertius saith, That he not only made God an eternal Being, but that the world was of his making. And he was no more partial in this case, than the Epicurean in Tully. It is observable, that when Plutarch blames Plutarch. de Anaximander and Anaximenes for leaving out the ef-l. i. c. 3. ficient cause, he takes no notice of Thales on that account; which he ought to have done, as being the head of that sect of philosophers called the Ionic, as himself acknowledges in that place. And Stobæus saith, Stob.Eclog.
Phys. C. 1. That Thales owned a Divine Power, which passed through and gave motion to the fluid matter, out of which he supposed all things to be made. The great objection against this is, that several of the ancient writers say, that Anaxagoras was the first philosopher who attributed the making of the world to an Infinite Mind; and that Plutarch himself, in the Life of Pericles, saith the same. But the true answer to this is, that Anaxagoras was the first who owned this in writing; whose words are produced by so many; but Thales wrote nothing about it that appeared, and therefore his scholars going another way, there might be some presumption against him. For it is too evident that Anaximander, his disciple, did never mention a God in the making of the world; but he mentions several gods made out of the world, dii nativi, a sort of Phænician gods, which rose out of matter; and such as the poets had possessed the people with among the Greeks. I have already observed from Plato, that the old Greeks worshipped the sun, moon, and stars, &c.
BOOK as other barbarous nations did: now herein lay the
artifice of Anaximander, that he took care to assert the popular deities, and so avoided the imputation of atheism among the people; who looked no farther than whether men owned the religion in vogue. But whether there were an Infinite Mind superior to those gods they worshipped, they looked on as a speculation too deep for them, and therefore they let those alone who spake nothing against the 'gods they solemnly worshipped. And this was the true reason of the different usage of Anaximander and Anaxagoras. The former asserted the beginning of all things to have been from infinite matter, without an efficient cause; the latter said this was impossible : but there must be an Eternal Mind to give motion to matter, and to direct it. Now one would have thought that Anaxagoras should have been in favour with the people, who hated atheism, and Anaximander punished; but, on the contrary, Anaximander kept up his interest among the people where he lived, at Miletus in Asia, and at last carried a colony along with him to Apollonia. The reason was, the people of Miletus had a wonderful veneration for the sun and moon, under the names of Apollo and
Diana; and as long as Anaximander complied with bi . 17: them as to these dii nativi, they let him alone in his
philosophy. But Anaxagoras coming to Athens, and being there in favour with Pericles, a leading man in the city, but opposed violently by a different faction of Thucydides Milesius, who took all advantages they could against Pericles's party : they finding that Anaxagoras had shewed too much of his philosophy, when he called the sun a mass of fire, this set them all in a flame, and made such a disturbance about it, that Anaxagoras was accused of atheism ; and Pericles, with all his interest and eloquence, could not save him from
banishment, in which he died, as appears by Laertius CHAP. and Ælian. Anaxagoras was very clear as to the main point of atheism ; for he asserted an Eternal Mind which made the world : this Anaximander denied, but he asserted the common deities : and although the Epicurean in Tully argues well against Anaximander's opinion, Sed nos Deum nisi sempiternum intelligere qui possumus? we can have no true notion of God not eternal: yet such philosophical reasons signified little; he allowed the same worship which they practised, and this was enough to satisfy them.
I am not ignorant that some have gone about to excuse Anaximander, as though he were so intent upon the material causes, that through incogitancy only he left out the efficient. A strange piece of incogitancy in a philosopher to leave out the main point. For the just fault which Anaxagoras found, was that he went about to make a world without an Eternal Mind before matter; and he knew very well what the sense of Anaximander and his scholar Anaximenes were, by whom he was instructed. And why should Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, &c. look on it as so extraordinary a thing in Anaxagoras to assert an Eternál Mind as the first cause, if his predecessors meant the same thing? But there is a passage in Aristotle, which seems most to favour Anaximander, viz. that he owned an infinite first Principle, which did contain and govern all things, and was immortal and incorruptible. And this Aug. Steuchus Eugubinus, in his learned book de Perenni Philosophia, insists much upon; a De Perenni book written with so good a design, and, bating some 5. supposititious authorities, so well managed, that the elder Scaliger, as his son tells us, commended it parti- Jos. Scalig. cularly to a great friend of his, too inclinable to atheism, Scaligeri, (as was too much the fashion then, as well as since, P. 50.
Philos. l. xi.
de Vit. Jul.