ACTIVE, Activus, something that communicates Motion, or Action to another. See ACTION.

In this sense, the word stands opposed to Passive. See PASSIVE.

Thus, we say, an Active Cause, Active Principles, &c.See CAUSE.

The Quantity of Motion in the World, Sir Isaac Newton shows, must be always decreasing, in virtue of the Vis Inertiae, &c. So that there is a necessity for certain Active Principles to recruit it: Such he takes the Cause of Gravity to be, and the Cause of Fermentation. Adding, that we see but little Motion in the Universe, except what is owing to these active principles. See MOTION, GRAVITATION, FERMENTATION, etc.

Active Principles, in Chemistry, are those which are supposed to act of themselves, and do not need to be put in action by others. See PRINCIPLES.

Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury, are usually considered by the Chemists as Active Principles; and Phlegm and Earth, as Passive ones. See SALT, etc.

M. Holberg, and some late Chemists after him, only make one Active Principle, viz. Sulphur, or Fire; which they take to be the Source or Principle of all the Motion and Action of the Universe. See SULPHUR, and FIRE.

The term Active Principles, says Dr. Quincy, has been used to express some divisions of matter, that are, by some particular modifications, comparatively active, in respect of others; as, Spirit, Oil, and Salt, whose parts are better fitted for Motion, than those of Earth and Water; but with how much impropriety, will easily appear.

For, in a strict sense, all Motion in Matter is rather Passion ; and there is no Active Principle, unless we call so that known Property of Gravitation, on which the Newtonian Philosophy is founded; which is a mutual inclination of bodies towards one another, in proportion to the quantity of matter, in all bodies: so that let them exist under what modificationssoever, there can be no alteration made of this universal property. — Hence, the division of matter into what, for distinction's sake, may be called Spirit, does not give it any properties inconsistent with this general law. See MATTER, MOTION, etc.

Active, in Grammar, is something that has an active signification, and serves to explain, or denote an action, A Verb Active, a Conjugation Active, &c. an Active Participle, &c. See PARTICIPLE, CONJUGATION, etc.

Verbs Active, are such as do not only signify doing or acting, but have also nouns following them, to be the subject of the action or impression. See VERB.

Thus, to love, to teach, are Verbs Active; because we can say, to love a thing, to teach a man.

Verbs Neuter also signify an action; but are distinguished from Verbs Active, in that they cannot have a noun following them. — Such are, to sleep, to go, &c. See NEUTER.

Some grammarians, however, make three kinds of verbs Active: The Transitive, where the action passes into a subject different from the agent; Reflected, where the action returns upon the agent; and Reciprocal, where the action returns mutually upon the two agents who produced it. See TRANSITIVE, &c.