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sun, light, and heat; and are otherwise expressed by the terms principle, mind, and soul; by one or To EV, intellect and life; by good, word, and love; and that generation was not attributed to the second hypostasis, the vous or λoyos, in respect of time,* but only in respect of origin and order, as an eternal necessary emanation; these are the express tenets of Platonists, Pythagoreans, Egyptians, and Chaldeans.

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363. Though it may be well presumed there is nothing to be found on that sublime subject in human writings, which doth not bear the sure signatures of humanity; yet it cannot be denied, that several fathers of the church have thought fit to illustrate the Christian doctrine of the holy Trinity, by similitudes and expressions borrowed from the most eminent heathens, whom they conceived to have been no strangers to that mystery; as hath been plainly proved by Bessarian, Eugubinus, and Doctor Cudworth.

ཐཱ།། 364. Therefore, how unphilosophical soever that doctrine may seem to many of the present age, yet it is certain, the men of greatest fame and learning among the ancient philosophers held a Trinity in the Godhead. It must be owned, that upon this point some later Platonists of the gentile world seem to have bewildered themselves (as many Christians have also done), while they pursued the hints derived from their predecessors, with too much curiosity.


365. But Plato himself considered that doctrine as a venerable mystery, not to be lightly treated of, or rashly divulged. Wherefore in a letter to Dionysius he writes (as he himself professeth) enigmatically and briefly in the following terms, which he giveth for a summary of his notion concerning the supreme Being, and which, being capable of divers senses, I leave to be deciphered by the learned reader. Hepi Tov TáνTWV βασιλέα πάντ ̓ ἐστὶ, καὶ ἐκέινου ἕνεκα πάντα, καὶ ἐκεῖνο αἴτιον


* Sect. 352.

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ἁπάντων τῶν καλῶν, δεύτερον δὲ περὶ τὰ δεύτερα, καὶ τρίτον TEρi Ta Tρira. Plato enjoins Dionysius over and over, with great earnestness, not to suffer what he communicates concerning the mysteries of the Divine nature, to fall into illiterate or vulgar hands, giving it withal as a reason for this caution, that nothing would seem more ridiculous or absurd to the common run of mankind. He adds, that in regard writings might miscarry, the prudent way was to write nothing at all on those matters, but to teach and learn them by word of mouth: for which reason, saith he, I have never wrote any thing thereon; nor is there, nor shall there ever be, any thing of Plato's, extant on that subject. He farther adds, as for what hath been now said, it belongs all to Socrates.

366. And, indeed, what this philosopher in his Phædrus speaketh of the supercelestial region, and the Divinity resident therein, is of a strain not to be relished or comprehended by vulgar minds; to wit, essence really existent, object of intellect alone, without colour, without figure, without any tangible quality. He might very justly conceive that such a description must seem ridiculous to sensual men.

367. As for the perfect intuition of Divine things, that he supposeth to be the lot of pure souls, beholding by a pure light, initiated, happy, free and unstained from those bodies, wherein we are now imprisoned like oysters. But in this mortal state, we must be satisfied to make the best of those glimpses within our reach.* It is Plato's remark, in his Theatetus, that while we sit still we are never the wiser, but going into the river and moving up and down, is the way to discover its depths and shallows. If we exercise and bestir ourselves, we may even here discover something.

368. The eye by long use comes to see even in the darkest cavern: and there is no subject so obscure, but *Sect. 335. 337.

we may discern some glimpse of truth by long poring on it. Truth is the cry of all, but the game of a few. Certainly where it is the chief passion, it doth not give way to vulgar cares and views; not is it contented with a little ardour in the early time of life; active, perhaps, to pursue, but not so fit to weigh and revise. He that would make a real progress in knowledge, must dedicate his age as well as youth, the later growth as well as first fruits, at the altar of Truth.

Cujusvis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore perseverare.


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