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from it; would any one question, whether it wanted any thing essential ? It would be absurd to ask, Whether a thing really existing wanted any thing essential to it? Or could it be demanded, Whether this made an essential or specific difference or no; since we have no other measure of essential or specific, but our abstract ideas? And to talk of specific differences in nature, without reference to general ideas and names, is to talk unintelligibly. For I would ask any one, What is sufficient to make an essential difference in nature, between any two particular beings, without any regard had to some abstract idea, which is looked upon as the essence and standard of a species ? All such patterns and standards being quite laid aside, particular beings, considered barely in themselves, will be found to have all their qualities equally essential; and every thing, in each individual, will be essential to it, or, which is more, nothing at all. For though it may be reasonable to ask, Whether obeying the magnet be essential to iron? yet, I think, it is very improper and insignifi, cant to ask, Whether it be essential to the particular parcel of matter I cut my pen with, without consider, ing it under the name iron, or as being of a certain species? And if, as has been said, our abstract ideas, which have names annexed to them, are the boundaries of species, nothing can be essential but what is contained in those ideas. .
§. 6. It is true, I have often mentioned a real essence, distinct in substances from those abstract ideas of them, which I call their nominal essence. By this real essence I mean the real constitution of any thing, which is the foundation of all those properties that are com bined in, and are constantly found to co-exist with the nominal essence; that particular constitution which everything has within itself, without any relation to any thing without it. But essence, even in this sense, relates to a sort, and supposes a species; for being that real constitution, on which the properties depend, it necessarily supposes a sort of things, properties belong. ing only to species, and not to individuals ; v. g. sup. posing the nominal essence of gold to be a body of such
à peculiar colour and weight, with malleability and fu-
5. 8. And that the species of things to us are nothing but the ranking them under distinct names, ac
cording to the complex ideas in us, and not according to precise, distinct, real essences in them; is plain from hence, that we find many of the individuals that are ranked into one sort, called by one common name, and so received as being of one species, have yet qualities · depending on their real constitutions, as far different one from another, as from others, from which they are accounted to differ specifically. This, as it is easy to be observed by all who have to do with natural bodies; so chemists especially are often, by sad experience, convinced of it, when they, sometimes in vain, seek for the same qualities in one parcel of sulphur, antimony or vitriol, which they have found in others. For though they are bodies of the same species, having the same nominal essence, under the same name; yet do they often, upon severe ways of examination, betray qualities so different one from another, as to frustrate the expectation and labour of very wary chemists. But if things were distinguished into species, according to their real essences, it would be as impossible to find different properties in any two individual substances of the same species, as it is to find different properties in two circles, or two equilateral triangles. That is properly the essence to us, which determines every particular to this or that classis; or, which is the same thing, to this or that general name; and what can that be else, but that abstract idea, to which that name is annexed ? and so has, in trutlı, a reference, not so much to the being of particular things, as to their general deno. minations. i $. 9. Nor indeed can we rank and sort Not the real things, and consequently (which is the end "essence, of sorting) denominate them by their real which we essences, because we know them not. Our know faculties carry us no farther towards the knowledge and distinction of substances, than a collection of those sensible ideas which we observe in them; which, however made with the greatest diligence and exactness we are capable of, yet is more remote from the true internal constitution, from which those qualities flow, than, as I said, a countryman's idea is from the inward con
trivance of that famous clock at Strasburgh, whereof he only sees the outward figure and motions. There is not so contemptible a plant or animal, that does not confound the most enlarged understanding. Though the familiar use of things about us take off our wonder; yet it cures not our ignorance. When we come to esamine the stones we tread on, or the iron we daily handle, we presently find we know not their make, and can give no reason of the different qualities we find in them. It is evident the internal constitution, whereon their properties depend, is unknown to us. For to go no farther than the grossest and most obvious we can imagine amongst them, what is that texture of parts, that real essence, that makes lead and antimony fusible; wood and stones not? What makes lead and iron malleable, antimony and stones not? And yet how infinitely these come short of the fine contrivances, and unconceivable real essences of plants or animals, everyone knows. The workmanship of the all-wise and powerful God, in the great fabric of the universe, and every part thereof, farther exceeds the capacity and comprehension of the most inquisitive and intelligent man, than the best contrivance of the most ingenious man doth the conceptions of the most ignorant of rational creatures. Therefore we in vain pretend to range things into sorts, and dispose them into certain classes, under names, by their real essences, that are so far from our discovery or comprehension. A blind man may as soon sort things by their colours, and he that has lost his smell, as well distinguish a lily and a rose by their odours, as by those internal constitutions which he knows not. He that thinks he can distinguish sheep and goats by their real essences, that are unknown to him, may be plead to try bis skill in those species, called cassiowary 4,id querechinchio ; and by their internal real essences determine the boundaries of those species, without knowing the complex idea of sensible qualities, that each of those names stand for, in the countries where those animals are to be found.
8. 10. Those therefore who have been Not substan. taught, that the several species of sub- tial forms, stances had their distinct internal substantial which we forms; and that it was those forms which know made the distinction of substances into their true species and genera; were led yet farther out of the way, by having their minds set upon fruitless inquiries after substantial forms, wholly unintelligible, and whereof we have scarce so much as any obscure or confused conception in general.
$. 11. That our ranking and distinguish- That the no. ing natural substances into species, consists
is that where. in the nominal essences the mind makes, bv we distin and not in the real essences to be found guish spe. in the things themselves, is farther evident cies, farther from our ideas of spirits. For the mind evident from getting, only by reflecting on its own ope
og rations, those simple ideas which it attributes to spirits, it hath, or can have no other notion of spirit, but by attributing all those operations, it finds in itself, to a sort of beings, without consideration of matter. And even the most advanced notion we have of God is but attributing the same simple ideas which we have got from reflection on what we find in ourselves, and which we conceive to have more perfection in them, than would be in their absence; attributing, I say, those simple ideas to ,him in an unlimited degree. Thus having got, from reflecting on ourselves, the idea of existence, knowledge, power, and pleasure, each of which we find it better to have than to want; and the more we have of each, the better : joining all these together, with infinity to each of them, we have the complex idea of an eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, ini nitely wise and happy Being. And though we are tol!, that there are different species of angels; yet we know not how to frame distinct specific ideas of them : not out of any conceit that the existence of more species than one of spirits is impossible, but because having no more simple ideas (nor being able to frame more) applicable to such beings, but only those few taken from ourselves, and from the actions of our own minds in VOL. I.