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neither beginning, iniddle, nor end. Nor is it finite, for the finite is something limited by something else.
It is not strange that Aristotle called Zenophanes, “clownish.”
Parmenides taught that the all is one; that the one is finite and real, and the many, only in appearance. “All is,” says Heraclitus," and all is not; for, though it comes into being, it forthwith ceases to be.” Such meagre fragments of thought, thongh glittering in the firmament of knowledge, scarcely obtained the consistency of theory in ethics or history.
The next form in which pantheism appears as a moral force in history, is the Neo-Platonism of the Alexardrine School, which took its rise near the close of the second century. Its chief phase as a theory of history was its antagonism to Christianity. It combined against that all the elements of Indian and Grecian philosophies, all the dialectic subtleties and mysticism of Aristotle and of Plato, with so much of the Christian guise as would render it attractive to those on the verge of the Christian faith. Ammonius Saccus was its distinguished founder; but it included some of the most brilliant minds of the age,-minds that made the age brilliant,-Plotinus, Proclus, and Jamblicus.
As in the Hindoo pantheism, so here the identity of God and the universe underlies this more poetic and attractive scheme. “God is all things," says one of these writers ; “he is both the things that are, and the things that are not: for the things that are he hath manifested, and the things that are not he contains within himself."
The Neo-Platonic school started with unity as the last analysis of deity,—an absolute universal one, neither personal, intelligent, nor existent. “The God that does not think,” says Aristotle, “is not worthy to be respected.” And yet this abstract unity was their ideal of the beautiful and the good. This non-existent Esse, by emanation, becomes first concrete in intelligence, the vows or a spiritual world. Then by a further movement it passes into soal, or yux) which constitutes the psychical or outer world of life, and ultimates in matter as the gross or dregs of the Divine. And this tidal ebb and flow of the one substance is not a matter of thought
and will, for there is nothing of intelligence at the starting point.
History is the flux and reflux of this infinite ocean of substance, through the ideal straits and channels of boundless space—this one and all, passing through the tenses and eternities, in its transitions from unity to multiplicity, and back again—" the restless manifestation,” says one, “of an eternal and ever restless force."
“But these manifestations," writes an acute and candid critic, "have no absolute truth or duration. History is then only a phantom. The individual perishes and passes into the universal, because individual. It is only the universal that endures. The individual is the finite, the perishable. The universal is the infinite, the immortal. To die, therefore, is simply to be free from the conditions of space and time, and to lose personality.” “I am struggling," said Plotinus in his closing hours, “to liberate the divinity within me."
With these old heathen forces, those great thinkers at Alexandria and at Athens joined the issue against the new Christian power. They fought skilfully and valiantly, but they could not conquer. The dead abstraction of a One-All could not stand before the distinctly pronounced one, living, personal and Divine Being. Emanation gave way, in the circles of philosophy and science, as well as of theology, to the original and simple doctrine of creation; and the confused idea of one substance for God and the universe, yielded to the clear discriminations of Creator and creature, the infinite and finite; and the endless circle of blind, tidal forces, before a wise and all-ruling Providence in history. “In no species of grandeur,” says M. Taisset, "was the
“ Alexandrine school deficient; genius, power, and devotion, have consecrated it." For three centuries it was a formidable rival to the greatest power that ever appeared on earth-the power of Christianity; and if it succumbed in the struggle, it only fell with the civilization of which it had been the last rampart.
But the struggle with this form of pantheism was a help to humanity, and in it a new step was taken in correct catholic thinking. Its fall was another testimony to the Providence
that is in and above the universe. The fighters on the side of theism and a providential history were made better swordsmen by the battles they fought on this field. They understood more fully the weak points of their old enemy, and the invincibility of their cause. Providence rules as completely over the philosophies that discard its sway, as in those that include it; for it moves on in all the philosophies and above them, making its own wise use of them. Pantheism, with all the accessories of Grecian acuteness and Roman judicial comprehension, could not answer the great questions that everywhere, in all ages, meet the thoughtful mind. Those it leaves as" a desert, whose only semblance of vegetation is mirage,
a without fruit, without flower, without vegetation; arid, trackless, and silent, but vast and fascinating."
For more than twelve hundred years this victory of Providence over pantheism attended the Christian movement. No counter-current of any moment is perceived in the flow of those centuries. Ripples, indeed, were visible, and single elements of the nebulous maze mingle here and there in the speculations of the schoolmen.
But in the middle of the seventeenth century, pantheism re-appeared in a system more logical, and of far greater mathematical exactness than had ever marked its history. It introduced an era in philosophy, and its influence in speculative circles has not yet ceased.
The Hindoo pantheism was cloudy; the Neo-Platonic, poetic and brilliant. But that of Benedict Spinoza was a structure of the most solid mathematical and deductive masonry. He was a Jew, thoroughly trained in Old Testament and Talmudic lore, and who, from his idea of every thing as God, is called by Novalis a “Gott trunkner mann." Не early discovered an acuteness in speculation which perplexed the Rabbis, and later, a philosophic audacity which offended them.
Finding himself menaced with excommunication, he withdrew from the synagogue, leaving the thunderbolt which had hung darkly over his head to spend itself in the air. The large black candles are lighted at the door of the Tabernacle, above the books of the Law. Execrations come forth from the chanters on one side, and the trumpet tones on the other. The candles are then reversed and drip slowly into a vase of blood, in which, at the final anathema, the light is extinguished.
Meantime, the object of this direful consummation is quietly pondering the mysteries of his own being, and of the universe. “What am I? Whence did I come? Whither do I go? What is this around me and above me the finite and the infinite?” These problems he solved to his own satisfaction, by a series of axioms, definitions, and propositions, of which the one-substance doctrine is the beginning and the end. The animus of his system will be best conveyed by a brief statement of its main principles.
First.-All substance is that which exists in itself, and can be conceived only through itself; and this substance is God, not gross, as matter, but the abstract essence of all things— God, and necessarily infinite. Def. III. VI.
Second.—This God-substance has attribute and mode: attri. bute, the very essence of substance and mode, an accident or variation of it. Def. IV. V. VI.
Third.—There cannot be many substances, but only one. Prop. V.
Fourth.-Substance cannot create, nor be created. Prop. VI.
Fifth.—All substance is necessarily infinite, for if any were finite, it would be limited by another substance, when there would be two substances, which is impossible. Prop. VIII.
Sixth.—Time has no more relation to spirit than to a circle or a triangle, man, as to his essential nature, never being older or younger.
These principles, according to Spinoza, are the rudiments of history, and the elements of all science.
The expansion of God's being into the universe, on this philosophy, is an eternal necessity, and consequently an eternal fact, which precludes all idea of freedom, beginning, or creation. The varied forms of nature, of animal life and intelligence, are only so many modulations, intonations, and vibrations of the one will-less and planless substance.
Hence by a logical necessity, it allows only a mathematical and soul-less ethics. To ascribe justice to God, is simply to see in him a reflection of ourselves, which is no more proof of such a quality in him, than if a circle should give to him the property of circularity, or a triangle conceive of him as triangular. Evil, because it cannot be a part of the divine essence, is a non-entity. “What in me is right,” say the Spinozists, “ is good, because it is God; and what is wrong is nothing, because it is not God.”
History, as in all forms of pantheism, is the process of the infinite, unconscious impersonality, under the necessity of self evolution and involution, in an endless gyrating, rotating, and revolving universe, without beginning, problem, progress, or end.
But is this the true philosophy, the right rendering of the finite and the infinite? It is very simple, methodical, and mathematical. Yet it does not even look toward the solution of these problems. Its fundamental falsity is in its bald assumption of one substance as the starting point. Its most delusive fallacy lies in its definition of substance as infinite. Allow these two, and it is a compact and beautiful structure. It illustrates and explains every thing. Deny these, and it is a castle in the air, dazzling, but deceptive, which explains nothing.
How can the pantheist know that every thing is God, better than the atheist that nothing is? How does Spinoza prove that the world ard man are not a new and created substance? By his sixth proposition that all substance is infinite, and as such, cannot create or be created. Why does he assert that cause and effect, subject and object are identical? For the simple reason that his system will not allow them to be otherwise, as a triangle does not allow its three angles to be either less or more than two right angles.
This figure of the triangle illustrates the cardinal vice of pantheism as a phase in philosophy and a theory of history—it is an error of method. It is purely deductive; and hence, assumptive. With Spinoza, it was a futile, thongh splendid effort to apply the principles of mathematics in the province of metaphysics, theology, and history. From a mathematical point,