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Now, he who knows what is in the REVIEW, &c.-PRESCIENCE OF GOD.
power of men, and what is not; who [Concluded from our last.]
knows the make of their bodies, and Having extended this critique much all the mechanism and propension of beyond our original intention, we them; who knows the nature and ershould have terminated our remarks tent of their understandings, and what in the preceding number, but for a will determine them this way or that; wish, which we were unwilling to sup- who knows all the process of natural press, to lay before our readers the causes, and consequently how these reasonings of an acute writer, on this may work upon them ;-he, I say, who momentous subject. Should any apo- knows all this, may know what men logy be necessary for the length of our will do, if he can but know this one observations, we hope it will be found thing more, viz. whether they will use in the occasion of this discussion, their rational faculties, or not. And that has placed before us an object, since even we ourselves, mean and which, though abstruse in its investi- defective as we are, can, in some mea. gation, is of serious importance in its sure, conceive how so much as this nature, and deeply interesting to man- may be done, and seem to want but kind. The writer proceeds as fol- one step more to finish the account, lows:
can we, with any shew of reason, deny It seems to me not impossible, that to a Perfect Being this one article God should know what is to come: on more, or think that he cannot do that the contrary, it is highly reasonable to too; especially if we call to mind, that think, that he does and must know this very power of using our faculties things future. Whatever happens in is held of him? the world, which does not come im- Observe, what a sagacity there is in mediately from him, must either be some men, not only in respect of phythe effect of mechanical causes, or of sical causes and effects, but also of the the motions of living beings and free future actings of mankind; and how agents. Now, as to the former, it very easy it is, many times, if the percannot be impossible for him, upon sons concerned, and their characters whom the being and nature of every and circumstances, are given, to forething depend, and who, therefore, see what they will do; as also to foremust intimately know all their powers, tel many general events, though the and what effects they will have; to see intermediate transactions, upon which through the whole train of causes and they depend, are not known.
Consieffects, and whatever will come to pass der how much more remarkable this in that way; nay, it is impossible that penetration is in some men than in he should not do it.
others: consider further, that if there We ourselves, if we are satisfied of be any minds more perfect than the the goodness of the materials of which human, (and who can be so conceited a machine is made, and understand of himself as to question this ?) they the force and determination of those must have it in a still more eminent powers by which it is moved, can tell degree, proportionable to the excellence what it will do, or what will be the of their natures. If, therefore, even effect of it. And as to those things on this ground of analogy, we only which depend upon the voluntary mo- allow this power of discerning in God, tions of free agents, it is well known, to be proportionable to his nature, as that men can only be free with respect in lower beings it is proportionable to to such things as are within their theirs, it then becomes infinite ; and sphere, and this we are assured is not then again the future actions of free very extensive: and their freedom agents are at once all unlocked, and with respect to these, can only consist exposed to his view. For that knowin a liberty either tó act without any ledge is not infinite, which is limited to incumbent necessity, as their own rea- things past, or present, or which come son and judgment shall determine to pass necessarily. them; or to ect their rational facul- But after all that has been said, and ties, and not to use them at all; but all that can be advanced, on this myssuffer themselves to be carried away terious, but interesting subject, our by the tendencies and inclinations of best attempts to shew how far we can the body, which, left thus to itself, acts go, towards an adequate conception of in a manner mechanically.
the manner in which future things may
be known, can only be considered as ceiving these. As they want a fifth feeble, mean, and grovelling. Of an sense to perceive sounds and colours, infinite and all-perfect Being, we can of which they have no notion; so we, have no adequate conception; and perhaps, want a sixth sense, or some therefore we cannot justly reason from faculty, of which future events may ourselves to him. His powers, and be the proper objects. Nor have we among them his power of knowing, any more reason to deny that there is must infinitely surpass our under- such a sense or faculty, than the deaf standing. It must be something dif- or blind have to deny, that there is ferent from, and infinitely transcend- such a sense as that of hearing or seeing, all the modes of apprehending ing: things, of which we have any know- We can never conclude, that it is imledge.
possible for an infinitely-perfect Being We know matter of fact, by the to know what a free agent will choose help of our senses, the strength of me- to do, until we can comprehend all mory, impressions upon the fancy, or the powers of such a Being; and that the report of others; and all these me- is, till we ourselves are infinite and diums or ways suppose the things perfect. So far are we from being known either to be present, or once to able to pronounce, with any shew of have been so. But is it therefore reason, that it is impossible there should impossible, that there should be any be such knowledge in God. other ways of knowing? This is so far In the last place, this knowledge is from being true, that, since God has not only not impossible, but that which no organ of sensation, nor such mean has been already proved concerning faculties as the best of ours are, and, the Deity and his perfection, doth consequently, cannot know things in necessarily infer, that nothing can be the way in which we know them, if he hidden from him. For, if ignorance does not know them by some other be an imperfection, the ignorance of way, he cannot know them at all, future acts and events must be so; even though they were present. There and then, if all imperfections are to must, therefore, be other ways, or at be denied of him, this must. least another way of knowing even
even There is, indeed, a common prejųmatters of fact. And since the diffi- dice against the Prescience (as it is culty we find in determining whether usually called) of God; which sugfuture matters of fact may be known, gests, that, if God foreknows things, arises chiefly from this, that we in he foreknows them infallibly or cer. reality consider, without minding it, tainly; and if so, then they are cerwhether they may be known in our tain; and if certain, then they are no way of knowing; it vanishes, when we longer matters of freedom. And, thus, recolleot, that they are and must be prescience and freedom are thought to known to God by some other way; and be inconsistent. But, surely, the nanot only so, but this must be some ture of a thing is not changed by its away that is perfect, and worthy of him. being known, or known beforehand.
Future, or what to us is future, may For, if it is known truly, it is known be as truly the object of divine know- to be what it is, and therefore is not ledge, as present is of ours: nor.can altered by this. The truth is, God we tell, what respect past, present, and foresees, or rather sees, the actions of to come, have to the Divine mind, or free agents, because they will be; not wherein they differ. To deaf men, that they will be because he foresees there is no such thing as sound; to them. If I see an object in a certain blind men, no such thing as colour; place, the veracity of my faculties bor, when these are defined and ex- supposed, it is certain that object is plained to them in the best manner there ; but yet it cannot be said, it is which their circumstances admit, are there because I see it there, or that my they capable of knowing how they seeing it there is the cause of its being are apprehended. So, here, we can there; but because it is there, therenot tell how future things are known, fore I see it there. It is the object perhaps, any more than deaf or blind that determines my sensation: and so, people know what sounds and colours in the other case, it is the future choice are, and how they may be perceived: of free agents that determines the but yet there may be a way of know- prescience, which yet may be infalliing those, as well as there is of per- I bly true. No. 4, Vol. I.
Let us put these two contradictory that, never been left, had the petition propositions: B, some particular man, never been preferred. The grant may will go to church next Sunday, and B be called the effect of a future act; and will not go to church next Sunday; and it depends as much upon it, as if it let us suppose withal that B is free, had been made after the act. In all and that his going or not going de- this, there is nothing hard to be admitpends merely upon his own will. In ted, if M be allowed to foreknow the this case, he may indeed do either, case. And thus the prayers which but yet he can do but one of these two good men offer to the all-seeing God, things, either go, or not go; and one and the neglects of others, may find of these things he must do, or, in other fitting effects already forecasted in the words, he cannot avoid both. One course of nature. These possibilities of these two propositions, therefore, is may be extended to the labours of now true; but yet it is not the truth of men, and to their behaviour in genethe proposition which forces him to do ral. what is contained in it; on the con- In all this, there is no implication trary, the truth of the proposition of any contradiction or absurdity; and arises from what he shall choose to do. therefore it may fairly be supposed. And if that truth doth not now force And hence it will follow, that a partihim, the foreknowledge of that truth cular providence, as well as that which will not. We may, surely, suppose B is general, may be accounted for, and himself to know certainly, beforehand, rendered compatible with the actions which of the two he will choose to do, of men. Such a supposition is cerwhether to go to church or not (I mean tainly not beyond the power of an so far as it depends upon his choice almighty and all-perfect Being ; neionly); and if so, then here is B's own ther does it appear to be inconsistent foreknowledge consistent with his either with his wisdom or his goodness. freedom; and if we can but further -See Wollaston's Religion of Nature, suppose God to know as much in Sc. p. 99–103. this respect as B does, there will be God's foreknowledge consistent with B's freedom.
Interesting Questions to Correspondents. In a word, it involves no contradiction to assert, that God certainly knows TO THE EDITOR OF THE IMPERIAL what any man will choose; and, there
MAGAZINE. fore, that he should do this, cannot be Sir, said to be impossible.
The perusal of Number 1, of your But the prescience of God, when Imperial Magazine afforded me conviewed in connection with the actions siderable pleasure, and I sincerely of moral agents, may be placed in wish it a circulation equal, in every another light, which the following ob- respect, to its merit. My attention was servations will serve to render intelli- particularly arrested by the last paragible.
graph that appears in your review of Let us suppose M, some particular Verax, page 27. The observations on man, to foreknow, some way or other, the phrase, one eternal now,” led that, when he shall come to be upon me to examine the precise import of his death-bed, L will petition for some human language, when applied to exparticular legacy, in a manner so ear- press divine things ; and continuing to nest and humble, and with such a dis- revolve this subject over in my mind, position, as will render it proper to a number of important questions arose, grant his request: and upon this, M to which I shall be greatly obliged, if makes his last will, by which he de- you, or some of yourlearned Corresponvises to L that which was to be asked, dents, will furnish me with an answer, and then locks up his will: and all through the medium of your interesting this many years before the death of M, compendium.-Is language of human and whilst L has no expectation or or of divine origin? Have words natuthought of any such thing. When rally any signification; or
their the time comes, the petition is made meaning purely arbitrary? Was lanand granted ; not by the making of any guage regularly formed, before a writnew will, but by the old one already ten Revelation was given to man? made, and without any alteration: Were the words employed in the vowhich legacy had, notwithstanding ) lume of Revelation, to express invisi. ble, spiritual, and eternal things, ori- we call a foot, a Chancellor's foot: ginally invented and appropriated to what an uncertain measure would this express visible, natural, and temporal be! One Chancellor has a long foot, things? If the same words be em- another a short foot, a third an indifployed to express the things of earth ferent foot: it is the same thing in the and the things of heaven, does it not Chancellor's conscience. follow, that some of the ideas and no- That saying, “ Do as you would be tions usually associated with words, done to," is often misunderstood; for when employed as the signs of some it is not thus meant, that I, a private earthly phenomena, should be drop- man, should do to you, a private man, ped, when they are substituted to as I would have you to do to me; but express the glorious objects of the do as we have agreed to do one to eternal world ! Does not this hold another by public agreement. If the universally of every word that lan- prisoner should ask the judge, whether guage can supply; the things of earth, he would be content to be hanged, and the things of heaven, being so were he in his case? he would answer, diverse in their natures, is it possible No. Then, says the prisoner, do as you that the same word can be used uni- would be done to. Neither of them vocally of both ? When words are must do as private men, but the judge taken from their primary use, and must do by him as they have publicly adopted as the signs of things imper- agreed ; that is, both judge and priceptible to sense, should not the mean- soner have consented to a law, that ing of the word be governed by the if either of them steal, he shall be nature of the object for which it stands, hanged. and not the nature of the object de
Friends. termined by the primary import of the Old friends are best: King James term? If the origin, nature, and use used to call for his old shoes; they of language, were generally under- were easiest for his feet. stood, would it not prevent many of
Conscience. those mistakes which are made in If we once come to leave that so the religious and in the philosophical loose, as to pretend conscience against world?
law, who knows what inconvenience I am, Sir, yours respectfully, may follow? For, thus, suppose an An Inquirer after Truth, Anabaptist comes and takes my horse.
S. I sue him. He tells me he did ac
cording to his conscience. His con
science tells him all things are common CONTINUATION OF SELECTIONS FROM
among the saints; what is mine is his : “TABLE TALK,” BY SELDEN.
therefore you do ill to make such a Epitaph.
law. If any man takes another's An epitaph must be made fit for the horse, he shall be hanged. What can person for whom it is made: for a man I say to this man? He does accordto say all the excellent things that can ing to his conscience. Why is not he be said upon one, and call that his as honest a man, as he that pretends a epitaph, is as if a painter should make ceremony established by law is against the handsomest picture he can possi- his conscience? Generally to pretend bly make, and say it was my picture. conscience against law is dangerous: It holds in a funeral sermon.
in some cases haply we may. Equity. Equity in law, is the same that the spirit is in religion, what every one HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY. pleases to make it: sometimes they go according to conscience, sometimes
[Continued from col. 213.] according to law, sometimes according Astronomy of the Chinese. - In adto the rule of Court.
verting to the claims which different Equity is a roguish thing: for law nations have made to an early knowwe have a measure, and know what to ledge in Astronomy, those of the Chitrust to; equity is according to the nese ought not to be overlooked. It conscience of him that is Chancellor, appears highly probable, that they have and as that is larger or narrower, so is studied that science almost as early as equity. It is all one as if they should the deluge; but it is needless to notice make the standard for the measure their vain and extravagant pretensions prior to that event. It seems to be farther informed, are not of equal maggenerally allowed, that their first Em- nitude; that is, they do not extend peror, Fohi, was nearly contemporary through equal portions of the ecliptic; with Noah, and that he computed as- but, taken altogether, they make up a tronomical tables; he is also said to complete revolution through it. See have given figures to the heavenly Magalhaen's Hist. of China, p. 335; Du bodies, and to have instituted sacri- Halde, vol. 2. p. 30. fices at the time of the solstices. In The Chinese do not give to their the reign of Hoangti, A. C. 2697, the constellations a form corresponding to Pole Štar was observed by Yuchi, the name, as the Greeks did. This who invented also a kind of armillary indeed, in many instances, is not possphere; and the cycle of sixty years sible; as the greater part of the above was then established. The Emperor names express, in the Chinese lanhimself is said to have invented seve- guage, the dignities or employments ral instruments for observing the stars, of magistrates; though some are the and fixing the cardinal points ; and names of rivers, mountains, provinces, posterity have ascribed to him the or towns of China; and a few are the merit of founding a tribunal of mathe- names of domestic furniture, or inmatics, for the advancement of his struments of husbandry. On the favourite science.
northern part of the sphere, they place Yao began his reign, as the annals the king, the queen, the heir appaof the Chinese inform us, about the rent, the guards, and courtiers; but year before Christ 2317. He is said these are represented by single stars, to have been the inventor of the civil and not by collections of them: and year; which is luni-solar, and begins their constellations are formed by confrom the instant of the new moon, necting the stars with straight lines. which happens nearest to the time in this manner the Great Bear would when the Sun enters the 15th degree of be thus represented Aquarius, (Du Halde, p. 90,) at which time a festival of tillage is solemnized;
* and they call that day the beginning of Spring. The Chinese divide the heavens into
* twenty-eight constellations. They assign four of these constellations to each of the seven Planets; so that the Much has been said by historians, year always begins with the same pla- concerning the skill of the Chinese in net. They also include in them all predicting eclipses, and of their early the stars which are in the heavens, as attention to the observation of these well those which are in the zodiac, as phenomena. Du Halde, vol. 3, p. 80, those which lie out of it.
assures us, that the circumstances of of these Constellations, according to no less than 36 eclipses of the Sun are Du Halde, vol. 3d, p. 96, are,
recorded by Confucius himself; out of 1. Kao. 15. Juey. which there are but two that are false 2. Kang. 16. Leou, and doubtful; he probably means, 3. Ti.
17. Guey. which do not agree with modern ta4. Fang. 18. Mao.
Confucius lived about 551 years be6. Vi.
20. Tsuy. fore Christ; Magalhaen's Hist. p. 65. A 7. Ki. 21. Tsan.
remarkable eclipse happened, accord8. Teou. 22. King. ing to their accounts, in the first year 9. Lieou.
23. Quey. of the Emperor Tchong-Kang; and 10. Niou. 24. Licou,
we are informed, that the two Impe11. Hio. 25. Sing
rial astronomers, Hi and Ho, were 12. Guey. 26. Chang.
put to death, because they had neg13. Che. 27. Ye.
lected to foretell it, which it was their 14. Pie. 28. Chin.
duty to have done. These answer not only to four com- It is said that the Chinese knew the plete revolutions of the Planets, but true length of the solar year, to be also to the twenty-eight mansions of 365, and a little less than six hours, at the Moon, by the Arabian astrono- least 2000 years before the birth of
These constellations, we are Christ. And P. Trigault, who went