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common causes. Even if some few, who neither dogmatise nor submit to dogmatism, have been so spirited as to request others to join them in investigation, yet have such, though honest in their zeal, been weak in their efforts. For they seem to have followed only probable reasoning, and are hurried in a continued whirl of arguments, till by an indiscriminate license of inquiry, they have enervated the strictness of investigation. But not one has there been found of a disposition to dwell sufficiently on things themselves and experience. For some again, who have committed themselves to the waves of experience, and become almost mechanics, yet in their very experience employ an unsteady investigation, and war not with it by fixed rules. Nay, some have only proposed to themselves a few paltry tasks, and think it a great thing if they can work out one single discovery, a plan no less beggarly than unskilful. For no one examines thoroughly or successfully the nature of any thing in the thing itself, but after a laborious variety of experiments, instead of pausing there, they set out upon some further inquiry. And we must by no means omit observing, that all the industry displayed in experiment has, from the very first, caught with a too hasty and intemperate zeal at some determined effect; has sought (I say) productive rather than enlightening experiments, and has not imitated the divine method, which on the first day created light alone, and assigned it one whole day, producing no material works thereon, but descending to their creation on the following days. Those who have attributed the preeminence to logic, and have thought that it afforded the safest support to learning, have seen very correctly and properly that man's understanding, when left to itself, is deservedly to be suspected. Yet the remedy is even weaker than the disease; nay, it is not itself free from disease. For the common system of logic, although most properly applied to civil matters, and such arts as lie in discussion and opinion, is far from reaching the subtilty of nature, and, by catching at that which it cannot grasp, has done more to confirm, and, as it were, fasten errors upon us, than to open the way to truth.

To sum up therefore our observations, neither reliance upon others, nor their own industry, appear hitherto to have set forth learning to mankind in her best light, especially as there is little aid in such demonstrations and experiments as have yet reached us. For the fabric of this universe is like a labyrinth to the contemplative mind,

where doubtful paths, deceitful imitations of things and their signs, winding and intricate folds and knots of nature everywhere present themselves, and a way must constantly be made through the forests of experience and particular natures, with the aid of the uncertain light of the senses, shining and disappearing by fits. But the guides who offer their services are (as has been said) themselves confused, and increase the number of wanderings and of wanderers. In so difficult a matter we must despair of man's unassisted judgment, or even of any casual good fortune for neither the excellence of wit, however great, nor the die of experience, however frequently cast, can overcome such disadvantages. We must guide our steps by a clue, and the whole path, from the very first perceptions of our senses, must be secured by a determined method. Nor must I be thought to say, that nothing whatever has been done by so many ages and so much labour; for I regret not our discoveries, and the ancients have certainly shown themselves worthy of admiration in all that requires either wit or abstracted meditation. But as in former ages, when men at sea used only to steer by their observations of the stars, they were indeed enabled to coast the shores of the Continent, or some small and inland seas; but before they could traverse the ocean and discover the regions of a new world, it was necessary that the use of the compass, a more trusty and certain guide on their voyage, should be first known; even so, the present discoveries in the arts and sciences are such as might be found out by meditation, observation, and discussion, as being more open to the senses and lying immediately beneath our common notions: but before we are allowed to enter the more remote and hidden parts of nature, it is necessary that a better and more perfect use and application of the human mind and understanding should be introduced.

We, for our part at least, overcome by the eternal love of truth, have committed ourselves to uncertain, steep, and desert tracks, and trusting and relying on divine assistance, have borne up our mind against the violence of opinions, drawn up as it were in battle array, against our own internal doubts and scruples, against the mists and clouds of nature, and against fancies flitting on all sides around us: that we might at length collect some more trustworthy and certain indications for the living and posterity. And if we have made any way in this matter, no other method than the true and genuine humiliation of the human soul

has opened it unto us. For all who before us have applied themselves to the discovery of the arts, after casting their eyes awhile upon things, instances, and experience, have straightway invoked as it were some spirits of their own to disclose their oracles, as if invention were nothing but a species of thought. But we in our subdued and perpetual intercourse with things, abstract our understanding no further from them than is necessary to prevent the confusion of the images of things with their radiation, a confusion similar to that we experience by our senses: and thus but little is left for the powers and excellence of wit. And we have in teaching continued to show forth the humility, which we adopt in discovering. For we do not endeavour to assume or acquire any majestic state for these our discoveries, by the triumphs of confutation, the citing of antiquity, the usurpation of authority, or even the veil of obscurity, which would easily suggest themselves to one endeavouring to throw light upon his own name, rather than the minds of others. We have not, I say, practised either force or fraud on men's judgments, nor intend we so to do; but we conduct them to things themselves and the real connexion of things, that they may themselves behold what they possess, what they prove, what they add, and what they contribute to the common stock. If, however, we have in any matter given too easy credit, or slumbered and been too inadvertent, or have mistaken our road, and broken off inquiry, yet we exhibit things plainly and openly so that our errors can be noted and separated before they corrupt any further the mass of sciences, and the continuation of our labours is rendered easy and unembarrassed. And we think that by so doing we have established for ever the real and legitimate union of the empiric and rational faculties, whose sullen and inauspicious divorces and repudiations have disturbed every thing in the great family of mankind.

Since, therefore, these matters are beyond our control, we in the beginning of our work pour forth most humble and ardent prayers to God the Father, God the Word, and God the Spirit, that mindful of the cares of man, and of his pilgrimage through this life, in which we wear out some few and evil days, they would vouchsafe through our hands to endow the family of mankind with these new gifts; and we moreover humbly pray that human knowledge may not prejudice divine truth, and that no incredulity and darkness in regard to the divine mysteries may arise in our

minds upon the disclosing of the ways of sense, and this greater kindling of our natural light; but rather that from a pure understanding, cleared of all fancies and vanity, yet no less submitted to, nay wholly prostrate before the divine oracles, we may render unto faith the tribute due unto faith. And lastly, that being freed from the poison of knowledge, infused into it by the serpent, and with which the human soul is swoln and puffed up, we may neither be too profoundly nor immoderately wise, but worship truth in charity.

Having thus offered up our prayers, and turning our thoughts again towards man, we propound some salutary admonitions, and some just requests. First then we admonish mankind to keep their senses within the bounds of duty as regards Divine objects. For the senses, like the sun, open the surface of the terrestrial globe, but close and seal up that of the celestial; next that, whilst avoiding this error, they fall not into the contrary, which will surely be the case, if they think the investigation of nature to be in any part denied as if by interdict. For it was not that pure and innocent knowledge of nature, by which Adam gave names to things from their properties, that was the origin or occasion of the fall, but that ambitious and imperious appetite for moral knowledge, distinguishing good from evil, with the intent that man might revolt from God and govern himself, was both the cause and means of temptation. With regard to the sciences that contemplate nature, the sacred Philosopher declares it to be "the glory of God to conceal a thing, but of the king to search it out,"* just as if the Divine Spirit were wont to be pleased with the innocent and gentle sport of children, who hide themselves that they may be found; and had chosen the human soul as a playmate out of his indulgence and goodness towards man. Lastly, we would in general admonish all to consider the true ends of knowledge, and not to seek it for the gratification of their minds, or for disputation, or that they may despise others, or for emolument, or fame, or power, or such low objects, but for its intrinsic merit and the purposes of life, and that they would perfect and regulate it by charity. For from the desire of power the angels fell, and men from that of knowledge; but there is no excess in charity, and neither angel nor man was ever endangered by it.

* Prov. xxv. 2.

The requests we make are three. Of ourselves we say nothing; but for the matter which we treat, we desire men not to regard it as an opinion, but as a work, and to hold it for certain that we are not laying the foundation of any sect or theory, but of that which will profit and dignify mankind. In the next place, that they should fairly consult their common advantage, laying aside the jealousies and prejudices of opinions, and themselves participate in the remaining labours, when they have been rescued by us from the errors and impediments of the road, and furnished with our defence and assistance. Moreover that they should be strong in hope, and should not pretend or imagine that our instauration is an infinite work surpassing human strength, since it is really an end and legitimate termination of infinite error, yet that they should still recollect the mortal lot of man, and not trust that the matter can be altogether perfected within the course of one age, but deliver it over to succeeding ages, and finally that they should not arrogantly search for the sciences in the narrow cells of human wit, but humbly in the greater world. That, however, which is empty is commonly vast, whilst solid matter is generally condensed, and lies in a small space. Lastly, we must require (least any one should be disposed to injustice towards us in the very point on which our subject turns) that men would consider, how far they imagine they can be permitted to comment and pass judgment on our work, after considering what it is necessary for us to claim for ourselves, if we would preserve any consistency, seeing we reject all human methods, that are premature, anticipating, carelessly and too rapidly abstracted from things as regards the investigation of nature, considering them to be changeable, confused, and badly constructed; nor is it to be required, that we should be judged by that which we ourselves arraign.

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