Imágenes de página

thing but powers in it to produce those ideas in us : we also by our senses perceive the colour and brittleness of charcoal, whereby we come by the knowledge of another power in fire, which it has to change the colour and consistency of wood. By the former, fire innediately, by the latter it mediately discovers to us these several qualities, which therefore we look upou to be a part of the qualities of fire, and so make them a part of the complex idea of it. For all those powers that we take cognizance of, terminating only in the alteration of some sensible qualities in those subjects on which they operate, and so making them exhibit to us new sensible ideas; therefore it is that I have reckoned these powers amongst the simple ideas, ubich make the compilex ones of the sorts of substances; though these powers, considered in themselves, are truly complex ideas. And in this looser sense I crave leave to be understood, when I name, any of these potentialities among the simple ideas, which we recollect in our minds when we think of particular substances. For the powers that are severally in them are necessary to be considered, if we will have true distinct notions of the several sorts of substances. And why.

§. 8. Nor are we to wonder, that powers

make a great part of our coinplex ideas of substances : since their secondary qualities are those, which in most of them serve principally to distinguish substances one from another, and commonly make a considerable part of the complex idea of the several sorts of them. For our senses failing us in the discovery of the bulk, texture, and figure of the minute parts of bodies, on which thcir real constitutions and differences depend, we are fain to make use of their secondary qualities, as the characteristical notes and marks, whereby to frame ideas of them in our minds, and distinguish then one from another. AH which secondary qualities, as has been shown, are nothing but bare powers. For the colour and taste of opium are, as well as its soporifick or anodyne virtues, mere pówurs depending on its primary qualities, whereby it is

tliree sorts.

fitted to produce different operations on different parts of our bodies.

$. 9. The ideas that make our complex Threc sorts ones of corporeal substances, are of these of ideas First, the ideas of the primary

make our qualities of things which are discovered by of substances

complex ones our senses, and are in them even when we perceive them not; 'such are the bulk, figure, number, situation, and motion of the parts of bodies, which are really in them, whether we take notice of them or no. Secondly, the sensible secondary qualities, which depending on these, are nothing but the powers those substances have to produce several ideas in us by our senses; which ideas are not in the things themselves, otherwise than as any thing is in its cause. Thirdly, the aptness we consider in any substance to give or receive such alterations of primary qualities, as that the substance so altered should produce in us different ideas from what it did before ; these are called active and passive powers : all which powers, as far as we have any notice or notion of them, terminate only in sensible simple ideas. For whatever alteration a loadstone has the power, to make, in the minute particles of iron, we should have no notion of any power it had at all to operate on iron, did not its sensible motion discover it : and I doubt not, but there are a thousand changes, that bodies we daily handle have a power to cause in one another, which we never suspect, because they never appear ini sensible effects.

$. 10. Powers therefore justly make a Powers make great part of our complex ideas of sub- a great part stances. He that will examine his complex idea of gold, will find several of its ideas plex ideas of

substances. that make it up to be only powers: as the power of being melted, but of not spending itself in the fire ; of being dissolved in aqua regia ; are ideas as necessary to make up our complex idea of gold, as its colour and weight: which, if duly considered, are also nothing but different powers. For to speak truly, yel, lowness is not actually in gold; but is a power in gold to produce that idea in us by our eyes, when placed in

[ocr errors]

of our com.

ad ,


a due light: and the heat, which we cannot leave out of our ideas of the sun, is no more really in the sun, than the white colour it introduces into wax.

These are both equally powers in the sun, operating, by the motion and figure of its sensible parts, so on a man, as to make him have the idea of heat; and so on wax, as to make it capable to produce in a man the idea of white. The now se

$. 11. Had we senses acute enough to condary qua

discern the minute particles of bodies, and lities of bo- the real constitution on which their sensible dies would

qualities depend, I doubt not but they disappear, if we could dis

would produce quite different ideas in us; coverthepri.

and that which is now the yellow colour of mary ones of gold, would then disappear, and instead of their minute it we should see an admirable texture of parts.

parts of a certain size and figure. This microscopes plainly discover to us; for what to our naked eyes produces a certain colour, is, by thus augmenting the acuteness of our senses, discovered to be quite a different thing; and the thus altering, as it were, the proportion of the bulk of the minute parts of a coloured object to our usual sight, produces different ideas from what it did before. Thus sand or pounded glass, which is opake, and white toʻthe naked eye, is pellucid in a microscope; and a hair seen this way, loses its former colour, and is in a great measure pellucid, with a mixture of some bright sparkling colours, such as appear from the refraction of diamonds, and other pellucid bodies. Blood to the naked eye appears all red; but by a good microscope, wherein its lesser parts appear, shows only some few globules of red, swimming in a pellucid liquor : and how these red globules would appear, if glassos could be found that could yet magnify them a thousand or ten thousand tiines more, is uncertain. Oer faculties

§. 12. The infinitely wise contriver of us, of discovery

and all things about us, hath fitted our suited to our senses,

senses, faculties, and organs, to the convestate.

viences of life, and the business we have to do here. We are able, by our senses, to know and distinguish things, and to examine them so far, as to


[ocr errors]

apply them to our uses, and several ways to accommodate the exigencies of this life. We have insight enough into their admirable contrivances and wonderful effects, to admire and magnify the wisdom, power, and goodness of their author. Such a knowledge as this, which is suited to our present condition, we want not faculties to attain. But it appears not, that God intended we should have a perfect, clear, and adequate knowledge of them: that perhaps is not in the comprehension of any finite being. We are furnished with faculties (dull and weak as they are) to discover enough in the creatures, to lead us to the knowledge of the Creator, and the knowledge of our duty; and we are fitted well enough with abilities to provide for the conveniencies of living : these are our business in this world. But were our senses altered, and made much quicker and acuter, the appearance and outward scheme of things would have quite another face to us; and, I am apt to think, would be inconsistent with our being, or at least well-being, in this part of the universe which we inhabit. He that considers how little our constitution is able to bear a remove into parts of this air, not much higher than that we commonly breathe in, will have reason to be satisfied, that in this globe of earth allotted for our mansion, the all-wise Architect has suited our organs, and the bodies that are to affect them, one to another. If our sense of hearing were but one thousand times quicker than it is, how would a perpetual noise distract us? And we should in the quietest retirement be less able to sleep or meditate, than in the middle of a sea-fight. Nay, if that most instructive of our senses, seeing, were in any man a thousand or a hundred thousand times more acute than it is by the best microscope, things several millions of times less than the smallest object of his sight now, would then be visible to his naked eyes, and so he would come nearer to the discovery of the texture and motion of the ininute parts of corporeal things; and in

many of them, probably get ideas of their internal constitutions. But then he would be in a quite different world from other people; nothing would appear


the same to him, and others; the visible ideas of every thing would be different. So that I doubt, wliether he and the rest of men could discourse concerning the objects of sight, or have any communication about colours, their appearances being so whólly different. And perhaps such a quickness and tenderness of sight could not endure bright sun-shine, or so much as open day-light; nor take in but a very small part of any object at once, and that too only at a very near distance. And if, by the help of such inicroscopical eyes (if I may so call them), a man could penetrate farther than ordinary into the secret composition and radical texture of bodies, he would not make any great advantage by the change, if such an acute sight would not serve to conduct him to the market and exchange; if he could not see things he was to avoid, at a couvenient distance; nor distinguish things he had to do with, by those sensible qualities others do. Ile that was sharp-sighted enough to see the configuration of the minute particles of the spring of a clock, and ohserve upon what peculiar structure and impulse its elastic motion depends, would no doubt discover something very admirable: but if eves so framed could not view at once the hand, and the characters of the hour. plate, and thereby at a distance see what o'clock it was, their owner could not be much benefited by that acuteness; which, whilst it discovered the secret contrivance of the parts of the machine, made him lose its use. Conjecture

$. 13. And here give me leave to proabout spirits. pose an extravagant conjecture of mine,

viz. that since we have some reason (if there be any credit to be given to the report of things, that our philosophy cannot account for) to imagine, that spirits can assume to themselves bodies of different bulk, figure, and conformation of parts; whether one great advantage some of them have over us, may not lie in this, that they can so frame and shape to themselves organs of sensation or perception, as to suit them to their present design, and the circumstances of the object they would consider. For how much would that tuan èxceed all others in knowledge, who had but the


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »