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A Digreffion concerning Connate Ideas, or Inbred Knowledge.


UT this is the great Difficuly, What the Voice and Senfe of Nature is; which if it fignify any thing, muft fignify fome Natural and Inbred Knowledge; which is exploded as a ridiculous Conceit by fome great and profound Philofophers of our Age; who will allow no Innate Knowledge, but affert the Soul to be a Rafa Tabula, White Paper, whereon nothing is written, but is capable of any Impreffions, and must receive all from without: That nothing is in the Understanding, but what enters by the Senfes; which is the old Atheistick Hypothefis, which banishes Original Mind and Wisdom out of the World, makes Mind younger than Matter, later than the making of the World, and therefore not the Maker of it. I fhould not trouble my felf at this time with profefs'd Atheists; but when Men who profess to believe a God, and another World, advance fuch Principles as tend to overturn, or at least very much weaken the Belief of both, it is fitting upon fuch an Occafion, to confider what they have to fay And I shall Reafon upon their own Principles, upon the Suppofition that there is a God, who is the Maker of the World.

1. Then, if we allow that there is a God, and that he made the World, as Mr. Lock does, this is Damonstration,

1. That

1. That Knowledge is before the Things that are known, and is the Maker of them: For if God made the World, he knew what he would make, before he made it; and therefore the Ideas of all things were originally in the divine Mind, before any thing was made.

2. Hence it follows, that Ideal Knowledge is effential to a Mind; it is found no where originally but in the eternal Mind; and it is effential to the very Notion and Idea of a Mind: For what is a Mind, without the Images and Ideas of Things? Which is a good Argument that created Minds, as far as they partake of the Eternal Mind, have the Natural Ideas of Things interwoven in their Frame and Conftitution, if I may fo fpeak. For a Mind is a Mind, whether created or uncreated: And if created Minds are made after the Pattern of the divine Mind, (and there is no other Pattern for our Minds) Natural Ideas must be as effential to created Minds, as they are to the uncreated Mind; for there is no Notion of a Mind without them. Of which more presently.

3. This proves that all Truths, and all true Ideas, are Eternal: They may be feen, and known, and difcovered anew, but cannot be made: They always were in the divine Mind, and cannot be otherwife than they always were. And therefore our Improvement in true Knowledge, does not confift in framing and making new Ideas of Things, but in finding out the old ones; for Truth is no more to be made, than God.

4. I fhall obferve but this one thing more, That Ideas are not in the Things whofe Ideas they are, but in the Mind that conceives and apprehends them; for Mind is the original Seat of Ideas: And this proves that no Ideas can come into the Mind from without, because they


are not without, though they may be excited, and rais'd, and brought into view, by external Impreffions. But if the Work of the Mind be not to make new Truths, and new Ideas, but to discover old ones; thefe old Truths, which are not in the Things without, must be originally in the Mind itself; or elfe all the tumblings and joggings in the World will never find them there.

2. To confirm this, Let us confider the Nature of Human Souls, as Rational and Intelligent Beings.

1. And in the first place, I fuppofe all who believe the Mofaical History of the Creation, will allow, that the first Man is the most perfect Pattern and Exemplar of Human Nature, in its Natural State: For the first Man was immediately made by God, and made fuch a Creature as God intended Man to be; for he was to propagate the fame Nature, which God had given him, to his Pofterity.

Now we all know that Adam was created with the natural Ideas and Knowledge of Things, and had all his Knowledge from within, not from without: He knew what every Thing was at the firft fight, and what its natural Powers and Properties were; which could not be from external Impreffions, in which way at best nothing can be known without long Obfervation, and many Experiments, and a train of Reafonings; and therefore must be from connate or inbred Ideas, which were then bright and sparkling in his Mind. He could fpeak as foon as he was made, and if he had an inbred natural Knowledge of Words, he must have an inbred Knowledge of Things, which are fignified by Words. For a Mind muft conceive and have formed Notions

Notions and Ideas of Things, before it can fpeak.

Now indeed it does not hence follow that every Child muft fpeak, and have the actual Exercife of its Reafon as foon as it is born, because Adam was created in the perfect and actual Exercise of these Powers; for Adam was not created a Child, but a Man, and therefore created in a manly State of Knowledge, with thofe clear and bright Ideas of Truth, which become the Vigor and Maturity of human Understandings. But it does hence follow, That the Soul of Man, in its original Constitution, and in the most perfect State of its Nature, is not a Rafa Tabula, without any Notions or Ideas of Truth imprinted on it; but that it has its most natural and perfect Knowledge from within, from contemplating its own Notions and Ideas of Truth. Nay, it hence follows, That if Adam's Soul had these natural Impreffions and Characters on it, which were the Principles of all rational Knowledge; all human Souls have fo too, or else they have not the fame Nature that Adam's Soul had: For a Soul with the natural Ideas of Things, and a Soul without any fuch natural Ideas, are not of the fame Kind and Species of Souls. And if Adam was to beget his own Likeness, the Souls as well as Bodies of his Children must have the fame natural Characters and Impreffions on them. And that it must be fo, will appear, if we confider,

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2dly, What a rational Soul, and an intelligent Principle is. Mr. Lock will allow the Soul to be a rational intelligent Principle; and then undertakes to prove, how a rational Soul, which has a natural Principle of Understanding, may form its own Notions, without any natural and connate Ideas. But now it feems neceffary to me, first to enquire what this conceiving, think

ing, rational Principle is; and whether there can be a rational Nature, without the Principles of Reason innate to it. Now I can no more underftand how a Soul, which has no rational Ideas, fhould have any Principle of Reafon or Thought, and therefore fhould ever actually think, than I can, how that which has no natural Heat, fhould ever warm or burn. For the Principle and the Act are of the fame Kind;' and that which can think, must have some natural Thoughts or Ideas which can be brought into Act, which are the natural Seeds and Principles of Thinking.


I do defire to know what the Sentient Faculty whether there must not be Senfe in the Soul, to make it capable of the external Impreffions of Pain or Pleasure: And by the fame Reafon there must be Knowledge, in the Soul to make it capable of knowing external Objects. There is no Thought in the World, but only in Minds; and therefore all the Things of the World can never put a Thought into us, but can only raife it: That if we have no Thoughts within to be brought into Act, we can never have any, no more than the Stones of the Street. If no Thoughts can come into us from without, we must find them all within and what is within, belongs to our Na÷ ture, and has always been there, though we did no fooner find it.

Life is nothing elfe but confcious Perception, either Knowledge or Senfe; and then I would know how a living Nature can be without natural Know+ ledge. For if all Knowledge, muft come from without, Life itself must do so, if Knowledge be Life. Life is an internal Principle of Perception, which can never be without the internal Seeds and Principles of Knowledge or Senfe

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I would defire to know why external Objects do not form the fame Notions and Ideas in the Minds


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