Worse than the three impostors? towards an interpretation of Theodor Ludwig Lau’s Meditationes philosophicae de Deo, mundo, homine

  • April G. Shelford
Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas / Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idées book series (ARCH, volume 148)


Theodor Ludwig Lau was obviously disappointed when the University of Halle upheld the decisions taken at Frankfurt am Main to condemn, confiscate, and burn the pamphlet he had anonymously published there in 1717, the Meditationes philosophicae de Deo,mundo, hommne, and to exile its author. He had expected better from his former teacher Christian Thomasius, and he complained that, even if his Meditationes had been worse than that ‘erzgottloseste Traktat’ De tribus impostoribus, such a crime merited confiscation at most; that any harm should befall its author ran counter to the spirit of Protestantism, he asserted rather mysteriously.2


Interpretative Strategy Religious Motive Intellectual Freedom Perpetual Motion Latin Version 
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  1. 2.
    Fritz Mauthner, Geschichte des Atheismus im Abendlande, Vol. iii (Stuttgart, 1921), 242.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Some of the scribes who subsequently copied Lau’s Meditationes were not so scrupulous in maintaining that distance. The Hague, Koningsbibliotheek, MS 132 D 30 bears the title of that same ‘erzgottloseste Traktat’; moreover, its unknown scribe was clearly familiar enough with the mythic history of De tribus impostoribus to attribute his handiwork to one of its legendary authors, Julius Caesar Vanini. Mauthner reports that he found another copy of Lau’s Meditationes similarly mistitled (Geschichte des Atheismus, 247). We can only speculate why Lau’s Meditationes were mistitled, but the motivation may have been commercial—that is, one could demand a higher price for a manuscript masquerading as the infamous De tribus impostoribus.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    That Lau himself knew of De tribus impostoribus is obvious from his response to the Halle decision, although it is not possible to determine whether he had read it or, if he had, whether he had read the Latin version or the French Traité des trois imposteurs. (For the record, Lau’s list of impostors includes, in addition to Moses, Christ, and Mohammed, Confucius, the Pope, Luther, and Calvin; Meditationes, iv.i8.) He also mentions it in his second anonymous heterodox treatise, the Meditationes, theses, dubia, philosophico-theologica (1719), indicating his awareness of the publication of the French treatise in the Netherlands. (Meditationes, theses, etc., 6; Cambridge, Mass., Andover—Harvard Theological Library, MS 3o/Niedmer 3373B).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    In any event, as a clandestine manuscript, both in the original Latin and in German and French translation, Lau’s little treatise may have acquired more celebrity, both contemporary and modern, than the cheap little brochure ever would have. Miguel Benitez lists seven Latin versions and one French version in his 1988 article `Matériaux pour un inventaire des manuscrits philosophiques clandestins’, Rivista di storia della filosofia, III (1988): 501–31; Henri Coulet refers to other versions, especially in East Germany, in his article `Réflexions sur les Meditationes de Lau’, in Le Matérialisme du XVIII’ siècle et la littérature clandestine, ed. Olivier Bloch (Paris, 1982), 31–44 esp. n. 1. A German translation is published in G. Stiehl, Materialisten der Leibniz-Zeit (Berlin, 1966), 83–107. Another German manuscript is available in Cambridge, Mass., Andover—Harvard Theological Library, MS 31/Niedmer 3374, though it lacks a title page and Lau’s preface.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    could not benefit from Martin Pott’s analysis of Lau’s Meditationes communicated in his preface to Theodor Ludwig Lau, Meditationes philosophicae de Deo, mundo, homme and Meditationes, theses, dubia philosophico-theologica (Stuttgart—Bad Cannstatt, 1992), as it was published after this essay was written.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    Goulet, `Réflexions’, 36; Ira O. Wade, The clandestine organization and diffusion of philosophic ideas in France from 1700 to 1750 (Princeton, 1938), 241.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Winfried Schröder has begun to move Lau out of the shadow of Spinoza. He sagely notes the discrepancy between the assessments of modern scholars (Dunin-Borkowski, Bell, van Stockum, Baeck, Hirsch, Mauthner, Grunwald, Goulet, Gulyga, Merker, Gilli, and Wild) and those of Lau’s contemporaries. While virtually all of the former judge Lau a Spinozist, the vast majority of his contemporaries dubbed him atheist, pantheist, indifferentist, or deist. That Lau is almost universally considered Spinoza’s disciple (if a wrong-headed one) is, writes Schröder, the intellectual legacy of Jakob Brucker’s Historia critica philosophiae (1742–67), in which Lau is described as `Spinozismi suspectus’; Winfried Schröder, Spinoza in der deutschen Frühaufklärung (Würzburg, 1987), 124–32. Even a copyist, reporting the opinion of G. Stolle in his Gantz neue Zusätze and Ausbesserungen der Historie der philosophischen Gelahrtheit (1736), wrote that Spinoza would have objected to the Meditationes! (See miscellaneous biographical notes inserted between the first and second treatise in a compilation of Lau’s Meditationes philosophicae de Deo, mundo, homme and Meditationes, theses, dubia philosophico-theologica, Cambridge, Mass., Andover–Harvard Theological Library, MS 3o/Niedmer 3373A–B.)Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    To be fair, Lau’s intellectual relationship with Spinoza and Spinozism is far from straightforward, and Schröder has probably overstated the case. Lau himself admits that his Meditationes will probably earn him the epithet `Spinozist’ as well as atheist (Preface). After publication he wrote that his persecution earned him a place on the esteemed (by him, at least) roster of writers hounded for their beliefs, a roster which included Hobbes, Toland, and Spinoza. According to the Freydenker-Lexikon, he was guilty of the ultimate Spinozist crime — that is, ‘er macht hier die Welt zu Gott’; Johann Anton Trinius, Freydenker-Lexikon (Leipzig and Berburg, 1759), 84. And what are we to make of the fact that Lau himself translated into German the article SPINOZA from Bayle’s Dictionnaire historique et critique? (See Max Grunwald, Spinoza in Deutschland (Berlin,1897; rpt. Darmstadt, 1986), 61.) I have not had the opportunity to review this document, but at the very least the fact that Lau translated a text that both misrepresents and is hostile towards Spinoza’s philosophy is yet another proof of David Bell’s assertion of the `appallingly inaccurate image of Spinoza in the minds of the majority of German literates for over roc years’; David Bell, Spinoza in Germany from 1670 to the age of Goethe (London, 1984), 2.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Now it is undeniable that Spinoza’s ideas, however poorly understood, tantalized and haunted pre-Enlightenment intellectuals and religious thinkers on the continent; that the FreydenkerLexikon’s listing of 129 refutations is incomplete only reinforces that fact; see Bell, Spinoza in Germany, r. Still, given the vagaries of the transmission of Spinoza’s ideas, especially those of the Ethics, Winfried Schröder is absolutely correct when he rejects the notion that we can adequately account for Lau’s metaphysics as simply a misunderstanding of Spinoza’s Deus sive Natura—the interpretative strategy, for example, of both Bell and Max Grunwald in their discussion of Lau’s natura naturans, natura naturata (see below).Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    In the end, the effect of this is a game of intellectual charades. `Sounds likeChwr(133) ?’ John Toland, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Pierre Gassendi, Rene Descartes, Paracelsus, according to G. Stiehl. Descartes, Spinoza, Galen, Newton, Stahl, Epicurus/Lucretius, Hippocrates, Hobbes and Locke, according to Goulet. He’s a sceptic, writes Schröder. A Spinozist gone awry, writes Grunwald, but a Kabbalist as well; Spinoza in Deutschland, 60–63.Google Scholar
  11. 7.
    Aram Vartanian, ‘Quelques Réflexions sur le concept d’âme dans la littérature clandestine’, in Le Matérialisme du XVIIIe siècle, 149–63. Vartanian traces the Lau variety of soul to the recovery and rehabilitation of Epicurean ideas, thanks to Gassendi, but the idea is not at all peculiar to Epicureanism.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    Here it should be noted that Goulet misunderstands Lau’s description of the composition of the soul and body (111:5–7). Lau writes that the body is dense and passive material composed of fire, air, earth, and water; the soul, on the other hand, is a subtle and active substance. Goulet writes that the soul, like the body, is made up of fire, air, earth, and water, the only difference being that these elements are subtler in the soul than in the body. Goulet, `Réflexions’, 35•Google Scholar
  13. 8.
  14. 9.
    This biographical information is drawn largely from Mauthner, Geschichte des Atheismus, and Stiehl, Materialisten der Leibniz-Zeit, Preface.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    Ibid., 22.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    The biographical notes found in the Andover—Harvard manuscript indicate that Thomasius had scant respect for his disciple and considered it absurd that Lau even submit the Meditationes to him. Mauthner’s account is particularly useful for an appreciation of the relationship betweenThomasius and Lau.Google Scholar
  17. 13.
    E. M. Barnard, `Christian Thomasius: Enlightenment and bureaucracy’, American political science review, LIx (1965): 435.Google Scholar
  18. 14.
    E M. Barnard, `The “practical philosophy” of Christian Thomasius’, Journal of the history of ideas, xxxii (1971): 433. ‘4 Mauthner, Geschichte desAtheismùs, 240.Google Scholar
  19. 15.
    While I have not had the opportunity to review this manuscript in depth, it appears to repeat many of the ideas of the first treatise—e.g., intellectual freedom, the error of polytheism—and to be a much more conventionally `Deist’ work. But while giving natural religion priority, in this treatise Lau also appears to accord more importance and respect to revealed religion, especially to Christianity, than he did in the first treatise. a Mauthner, Geschichte des Atheismus, 235–6.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    It is difficult, for example, to reconcile Lau’s rather unflattering presentation of kings in Meditationes with his grovelling in the preface to the German text mentioned above. Even by the low standards of candour of dedications, this is a bit much: `Ich werde meine Souverainen, die sichtbaren Welt-Götter, ehren, ihren Willens-Meinungen gehorsamen und durch wohleingerichtete Financien, sie nebst ihren Ländern, reich und mächtig zu machen suchen.’ The adherence to Scripture he claims cannot help but sound a little hollow, and the context is more than a little nasty. He writes that he will fulfil his duty to his sovereign against all, who `mögen entweder mit den Juden auf den kommenden Messias warten, oder mit mir das Alte und Neue Testament für die Richtschnur der echten Religion verehren, oder durch den Alcoran selig zu werden sich einbilden, oder die Abgöttern mit den Heiden und das unchristliche Christentum mit den masquierten Gleitznern, öffentlichen und verdeckten theologischen und politischen Heuchel-Christen, Atheisten, Tartüffen, Pharisäern, und Sadducäern ausüben, welche also leben, als wann kein ander Leben zu hoffen, und so sicher sterben, als wann keine Hölle wäre’. Mauthner, Geschichte des Atheismus, 234–5•Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    This discussion is based on Peter Hanns Reill, The German Enlightenment and the rise of historicism (California, 197-). 2° Ibid., 26. °’ Ibid., 25.Google Scholar
  22. 19.
    Miguel Benitez, `La Tentation du gouffre: la pluralité des mondes dans la littérature clandestine’, in Le Matérialisme du XVIII’ siècle, 117. Of course, Descartes himself settled for indefinite, rather than infinite.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    See D. P. Walker, The ancient theology (London, 1972); for Athanasius Kircher, see R. J. W. Evans, The making of the Hapsburg monarchy (Oxford, 1979) esp. 433–42.Google Scholar
  24. 21.
    Ralph Cudworth, in fact had a rather ingenious defense for the continued use of the Hermetic Corpus. Although Cudworth takes the part of Causaubon as opposed to Kircher, he alleges that Casaubon had not proved that all of the hermetic writings were forgeries, then writes that `yet would they for all that upon another accompt, afford no inconsiderable Argument to prove that the Egyptian Pagans asserted One Supreme Deity; viz. Because every Cheat and Imposture must needs have some Basis or Foundation of Truth to stand upon; there must have been somethings truly Egyptian, in such counterfeit Egyptian Writings, (and therefore this at least One Supreme Deity) or else they could never have obtained credit at first, or afterwards have maintain’d the same.’ Ralph Cudworth, The true intellectual system of the universe (London, 1678), 32o.Google Scholar
  25. 22.
    Robert E. Sullivan, John Toland and the Deist controversy (Harvard University Press, 1982), 1989. Stiehl discusses the impact of Toland upon the German materialist philosophers Lau, Stosch, Wagner, and Bucher, and specifically compares Lau and Toland with respect to theories of the development and political uses of religion; Materialisten der Leibniz-Zeit, 19. Lau himself, in one of the two poems he wrote in response to his condemnation at Halle, gives Toland, with Hobbes and Spinoza, a place on that honor roll of writers whose works were suppressed. `Es kann ihr Irrtum nicht dieselben Bücher leiden, I Die den gemeinen Weg des Irrtums wollen meiden.’ See Mauthner, Geschichte des Atheismus, 243.Google Scholar
  26. 23.
    The encyclopedia of philosophy (New York, 1967), s.v. `Christian Thomasius’.Google Scholar
  27. 24.
    Bell, Spinoza in Germany, 17–21. In his Philosophia Moysaica, Edelmann wrote that Hermes was a `good Spinozist’.Google Scholar
  28. 25.
    Marianne Schaub, `Le Piétisme: une théologie mystique des lumières’, in Recherches sur le XVII, siècle (Paris, 1986), 97.Google Scholar
  29. 26.
    Ernst Cassirer, The Platonic renaissance in England, tr. James O. Pettegrove (Austin, 1953), 159–60.Google Scholar
  30. 27.
    Cassirer, Platonic renaissance in England, 193, citing Shaftesbury. Mention of Shaftesbury here as well as of Toland later in this paper reinforces the connection between English and German thought in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Its impact on Lau needs to be further explored.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Mercurii Trismegisti liber De potestate et sapientia Dei: e greco in latinum traductus a Marsilio Ficino fiorentino (Paris, 1505); Pimander, ch. 6. (Subsequent references to the Pimander will be indicated as P: ch. no.; references to the Asclepius as A: ch. no.)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Schröder, Spinoza in der deutschen Frühaufklärung, 129–30.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    In this connection he gives too much emphasis to a statement Lau makes in his second treatise: `Scrutianismus, Carthesianismus, Scepticismus, genuini ad templum veritatis sunt ductores’ (§ 5). Here there appears no other recourse than to believe that Lau did not, in fact, understand what Cartesianism or Scepticism or both were. If we assert that Lau is stating his intellectual loyalties, we would be forced to believe that he is a Cartesian as well, which is nonsensical.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    This itself bears an uncanny resemblance to a passage in P: xi: `Unus itaque deus mundum unum est confessus: et solem unum unicam lunam unam quoque divinitatem. Ipsum vero deum unum quidem credimus esse. Unus igitur: singula facit in multis. Num censes arduum quiddam et laboriosum deo vitam, animam, immortalitatem, mutationemque efficere? Tu enim tot tantaque potes: vides, audis, odoras, gustas, tangis, loqueris, graderis, spiras: intelligis.’Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    `nam quis illo lucidior. Ille quippe omnia ob earn causam fabricavit. ut eum per singula cerneres. Hec dei bonitas. hec eius virtus est: ilium fulgere per omnia. Nihil est vel in incorporeis etiam invisibile. mens ipsa intellectione videtur. deus autem in operatione conspicitur.’ P: xi.See also P: III: `Generatio hominem ad divinorum operum cognitionem, testimoniumque nature ad imperandum omnibus que celo teguntur, ad bonorum discretionem, ad incremen rum generis numerique propaginem. Omnibusque anima velata carnis umbraculo: ad celestium deorum discursum suspiciendum, ad opera dei, et nature progressus, ad bonorum signa ad potestatis divine cognitionem.’Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    `the Almighty Creator of the Heavens and the EarthChwr(133) hath set before our eyes two most principal books: the one of Nature, the other of his written WordChwr(133) The wisdom of Natures book, men commonly call Natural Philosophy which serveth to allure to the contemplation of that great incomprehensible God, that wee might glorify him in the greatness of his work. For the ruled motions of the OrbesChwr(133) the connection, agreement, force, virtue, and beauty of the ElementsChwr(133) are so many sundry natures and creatures in the world, are so many interpreters to teach us, that God is the efficient cause of them and that he is manifested in them, and by them, as their final cause to whom also they tend.’ Tymme, cited in Allen G. Debus, Man and nature in the Renaissance (Cambridge, 1978), 14. For the view of English natural philosophers such as Robert Boyle, see Richard S. Westfall, Science and religion in seventeenth-century England (New Haven, 1958), ch. 2.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Grunwald, Spinoza in Deutschland, 6,. 38 Bell, Spinoza in Germany,,6.Google Scholar
  38. 39.
    ’Hine apud physicos principium divinum, natura infinita et natura naturans, principium principiorum, sydus syderum, lux luminum, seu creaturarum lux undique collocens, spiritus spirituum, et spirituum opifex atque effector, mundus mundorum, dux, gubernator et director omnium, exultator et depressor nuncupatur.’ Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi historia, cited in Serge Hutin, Robert Fludd, 1574–1637: alchimiste et philosophe rosicrucien (Paris, 1971), 79.Google Scholar
  39. 40.
    Giordano Bruno, Opera latine conscripta (Stuttgart, 1962), 1/2: 346.Google Scholar
  40. 41.
    Ibid., 347: ‘Unum veluti centrum est individuum, ex quo et de quo originaliter omnes species veluti diversarum innumerabiliumque linearum effluxus esse cognoscimus: ad quod item et in quod sese recipiendo reducuntur.’Google Scholar
  41. 42.
    In Lau’s second treatise the conventional relationship of creator to created is just as marked, and the neo-Platonic organization of emanation more clearly stated: ‘Principia humus [God’s] cognitions sunt opera creations, sensus et ratio. Per hanc scalam, hos per gradus, per hanc climacemGoogle Scholar
  42. 43.
    homo ascendit in coelumChwr(133) Opera adsunt, ergo artifex; effectus, ergo causa; fructus, ergo semen; radii, ergo Sol; fluvii, ergo Oceanus; creaturae, ergo Creator; creatio, ergo Deus.’ (S 19)Google Scholar
  43. 44.
    Hélène Védrine’s discussion of Bruno’s use of the circle/point metaphor as `cercle dont le centre n’est nulle part et la circonférence partout’ (citing Bruno) is a good one, and she also connects Bruno’s use of that metaphor with that of Nicholas of Cusa: `Sed in regione intellectus, qui vidit in unitate numerum complicari et in puncto lineam et in centro circulum, coincidentia unitatis et pluralitatis, puncti et lineae, centri et circuli attingitur visu mentis sine discursu, uti in libellis De conjecturis videri poruisti, ubi etiam super coincidentiam contradictoriorum Deum esse declaravi, cum sit oppositorum oppositio secundum Dionysium.’ Védrine, La Conception de la nature chez Giordano Bruno (Paris, 1962), 33o. The same emphasis on point and monad exists in Fludd, though his geometry is rather more complicated; see Hutin, Robert Fludd, 105–9.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Walter Pagel describes this relationship particularly well, writing: `For, to Bruno, the circle is the first principle and root of all other geometrical figures. It forms and gauges, embraces and comprises, fills and measures them. The circle is at the same time a whole and a part, a beginning and an end, a central point and a circumference. Any motion that returns to its point of departure assumes that shape of necessity. It is only circular motion that is continual and consistent. Indeed, each object of nature constitutes a circle, its function and activity deriving from a centre, the soul. From this the active principle tends to go out into the periphery whence it tends to flow back to the centre.’ Pagel, `Giordano Bruno: the philosophy of circles and the circular movement of the blood’, Journal of the history of medicine, vi (Winter 1951): 116–24.Google Scholar
  45. 43.
    `Deus super omnia est: et circa omnia. Dei radii: actes existunt, mundi radii. sunt nature: radii vero homines artes atque scientie.’ P: x. `Monas: id est unitas omnium principium radix atque origo. absque vero prinicipio nihil. Initium autem est non principii sed alterius. monas ergo principium: omnemque numerum conti-net a nullo contenta, omnemque gignit numerum nullo numero genita. Quicquid utique genitum imperfectum dividuum crescens: atque, decrescens.’ P: iv.Google Scholar
  46. 44.
    The second book of the Pimander makes the relationship of God to the motion of the universe particularly clear.Google Scholar
  47. 45.
    ’Tempus, deus, et universum sic se habent. Deus eternitas. Tempus generatio. Deus eternitatern, eternitas mundum: mundus tempus, tempus generationem efficit. Dei quasi essentia est: bonum, pulchrum, beatitudo, sapientia, eternitas. essentia: ipsum idem mundi ordo: temporis transmutatio, generatio, mors, et vita. actus dei: mens et anima. eternitas, perseveratio atque immortalitas: mundi institutio et restitutio temporis. augmentum et diminutio: generationis denique qualitas. Eternitas ergo in deo: in eternitate mundus. tempus in mundo. in tempore generatio. eternitas extat circa deum mundus in eternitate movetur. tempus terminatur in mundo: generatio complectitur in tempore.’ P: xi.Google Scholar
  48. 46.
    `Deus quid est? Quod nullum ex ffs est: horum tamen omnium ut sit causam presens quidam cunctis presentiam etiam unicuique neque quicquam permittit non esse. Omnia ex fis quam sunt procreatur. de nihilo autem nihil pervenit.’ A: u.Google Scholar
  49. 47.
    `Celum ergo sensibilis deus, administrator est omnium [c]orporum: quorum augmenta detrimentaque sol et luna sortiti sunt. Celi vero, et ipsius anime, et omnium que in mundo sunt: ipse gubernator est: qui est omnium effector deus. a supra dictis enim omnibus quorum gubernator est omnium frequens per mundum fertur fnfluxio, et per animam omnium generum et specierum omnium perque rerum naturam. mundus autem preparatus est a deo: receptaculum omniformium specierum.’ A: II.Google Scholar
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    `[E]ffector mundi: deus et eorum que insunt omnium simul cuncta gubernando cum ipso homine gubernatore composita.’ A: vi.Google Scholar
  51. 49.
    `Omnia enim deus et ab eo omnia et eius voluntate omnia. quod totum est bonum, decens et prudens inimitabile: et ipsi soli sensibile atque intelligibile. et sine hoc nec fuit aliquid nec est nec erit. omnia enim ab eo et in ipso et per ipsum: et multiformes qualitates et magne quantitates et omnem mensuram excedentes magnitudines et omniformes species.’ A: XII.Google Scholar
  52. 50.
    `O naturarum omnium fecunda pregnatio. Cognovimus te: totius nature tuo conceptu plenissime. Cognovimus te: eterna preservatio.’ A: xv.Google Scholar
  53. 51.
    `Elementa nature unde manarunt? Ex voluntate dei: que verbum complexa pulchrumque intuita mundum ad eius exemplar reliqua sui ipsius elementis vitalibusque seminibus exornavit. Mens autem deus utriusque sexus fecunditate plenissimus vita et lux cum verbo suo mentem alteram opifecem peperitChwr(133)’ P: I.Google Scholar
  54. 52.
    `Qui postquam didicit horum essentiam propriamque naturam conspexit: penetrare atque rescindere iam exoptabat ambitum circulorum vimque gubernatoris presidentis igni comprehendere. Quive arbitrium et potestatem omnium habuerat: in animantia mundi mortalia et ratione carentia per harmoniam emersit atque exiliit, penetrans ac resolvens potentiam circulorum.’ P: I.Google Scholar
  55. 46.
    On this, from the Pimander: ‘Universum mundum verbo non manibus fabricatus est opifex. Ipse vero sic cogita illum presentem semper agentem omnia: deum unicum voluntate sua cuncta constituentem.’ P: nn.Google Scholar
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    `Non dico o Tati universa facit, faciens enim: longo quodam tempore deficiens: at indignum est. Siquidem interdum facit interdum cessat: egenum quidem et quantitatis pariter et qualitatis. nonnunquam qualia et quanta disponens: alias horum contraria.’ P: x.Google Scholar
  57. 54.
    `Quid autem propter hoc aliud deus efficiet? necque enim ociosus est deus. Nam ociosa forenomnia. cuncta siquidem plena sunt deo: ocium vero in nullis mundi partibus reperitur. nomen perfecto vanum est ocium: turn secundum id quod agit, turn etiam secundum id quod agit. universa fieri necesse est: ac semper fieri secundum loci cuiusque naturam. Agens non uni presens est tantum: sed omnibus. nec unum duntaxat verum universa producit. nam efficax existens in seipsa potestas: in iisque facta sunt minime sufficiens estChwr(133)’ P: xi.Google Scholar
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    When he refers to the fact that people cannot agree as to the number of years from creation, he might have the chronology of Ussher in mind as well.Google Scholar
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    Burnet, Preface to The theory of the Earth. 49 Ibid., ch. 2, p. 76.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Robinson, New observations of the natural history of this world of matter (London, 1696), 2.Google Scholar
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    D. C. Allen discusses these and other `rationalized’ accounts of the universal deluge in The legend of Noah, Illinois studies in language and literature, Vol. xxxul, nos. 3–4 (1949), ch. 5.Google Scholar
  62. 52.
    This idea is present in the work of that other famous, yet explicitly Christian, Hermetic, Fludd. `C’est Dieu seul qui agit, et sans intermédiaire, en chaque créature: rien ne peut m’empêcher, ni moi, ni aucun chrétien de déclarer qu’Il agit tout entier en toutes choses, dans et par ce Verbe, de Lui-même, par Lui-même et sans intermédiaire, et par conséquent n’abandonne jamais la créature qui agit d’elle-même ou par elle-même.’ Fludd, cit. Hutin, Robert Fludd, 140.Google Scholar
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    John Toland, Letters to Serena (London, 1704), 187–8.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., 209. ss Védrine, La Conception de la nature, 127.Google Scholar
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    Toland, Letters to Serena, 2i4.Google Scholar
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    Ralph Cudworth, The true intellectuall system of the univers (London, 1678), 669.Google Scholar
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    Védrine, La Conception de la nature, 342.Google Scholar
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    ’Corpora vero ex materia in differentia constant: horum quaedam ex terra, quaedam ex aqua, ex aere alia: ex igne quoque permulta universa certe composita.’ P: ix.Google Scholar
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    Lau’s second heterodox treatise expands upon his idea of the soul’s migration, making it perfectly clear that he literally believes that he will be transformed into a demon, star, or angel after death (111.40).Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • April G. Shelford
    • 1
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityUSA

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