Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from him is magic. We do surely owe the discovery of many secrets to the discovery of good and bad angels. I could never pass that sentence of Paracelsus without an asterisk, or annotation; "Ascendens constellatum multa revelat, quærentibus magnalia naturæ, i. e., opera Dei." I do think that many mysteries ascribed to our own inventions have been the courteous revelations of spirits, for those noble essences in heaven bear a friendly regard unto their fellow-nature on earth; and therefore believe that those many prodigies and ominous prognostics which forerun the ruins of states, princes, and private persons are the charitable premonitions of good angels, which more careless inquiries term but the effects of chance and nature.

Now, besides these particular and divided spirits, there may be, for aught I know, an universal and common spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion of Plato, and it is yet of the Hermetical philosophers, If there be a common nature that unites and ties the scattered and divided individuals into one species, why may there not be one that unites them all ? However, I am sure there is a common spirit that plays within us, yet makes no part in us; and that is the Spirit of God, the fire and scintillation of that noble and mighty essence, which is the life and radical heat of spirits, and those essences that know not the virtue of the sun, a fire quite contrary to the fire of hell. This is that gentle heat that brooded on the waters, and in six days hatched the world; this is that irradiation that dispels the mists of hell, the clouds of horror, fear, sorrow, despair,- and preserves the region of the mind in serenity. Whosoever feels not the warm gale and gentle ventilation of this spirit (though I feel his pulse), I dare not say he lives: for truly, without this, to me there is no heat under the tropic; nor any light, though I dwelt in the body of the sun.

«As when the laboring sun hath wrought his track
Up to the top of lofty Cancer's back,
The icy ocean cracks, the frozen pole
Thaws with the heat of the celestial coal;
So when thy absent beams begin t'impart
Again a solstice on my frozen heart,
My winter's o'er, my drooping spirits sing,
And every part revives into a spring.
But if thy quick’ning beams awhile decline,
And with their light bless not this orb of mine,

A chilly frost surpriseth every member,
And in the midst of June I feel December.
Oh, how this earthly temper doth debase
The noble soul, in this her humble place!
Whose wingy nature ever doth aspire
To reach that place whence first it took its fire.
These flames I feel, which in my heart do dwell,
Are not thy beams, but take their fire from hell.
Oh, quench them all, and let thy light divine,
Be as the sun to this poor orb of mine:
And to thy sacred spirit convert those fires,
Whose earthly fumes choke my devout aspires.”

Therefore for spirits, I am so far from denying their existence that I could easily believe that not only whole countries, but particular persons, have their tutelary and guardian angels. It is not a new opinion of the Church of Rome, but an old one of Pythagoras and Plato. There is no heresy in it, and if not manifestly defined in Scripture, yet is an opinion of a good and wholesome use in the course and actions of a man's life, and would serve as an hypothesis to solve many doubts, whereof common philosophy affordeth no solution. Now, if you demand my opinion and metaphysics of their natures, I confess them very shallow, most of them in a negative way, like that of God, or in a comparative, between ourselves and fellow-creatures; for there is in this universe a stair, or manifest scale of creatures, rising not disorderly or in confusion, but with a comely method and proportion. Between creatures of mere existence and things of life, there is a large disproportion of nature; between plants and animals and creatures of sense, a wider difference; between thein and man, a far greater: and if the proportion hold on, between man and angels there should be yet a greater. We do not comprehend their natures, who retain the first definition of Porphyry, and distinguish them from ourselves by immortality; for before his fall, it is thought man also was immortal; yet must we needs affirm that he had a different essence from the angels. Having, therefore, no certain knowledge of their natures, it is no bad method of the schools, whatsoever perfection we find obscurely in ourselves, in a more complete and absolute way to ascribe unto them. I believe they have an extemporary knowledge, and upon the first motion of their reason do what we cannot without study or deliberation; that they know things by their forms, and define by specifical difference what we describe by accidents and properties,- and therefore probabilities to us may be demonstrations unto them; that they have knowledge not only of the specifical, but numerical forms of individuals, and understand by what reserved difference each single hypostasis (besides the relation to its species) becomes its numerical self. That as the soul hath power to move the body it informs, so there is a faculty to move any, though inform none; ours upon restraint of time, place, and distance. But that invisible hand that conveyed Habakkuk to the lions' den, or Philip to Azotos, infringeth this rule, and hath a secret conveyance, wherewith mortality is not acquainted. If they have that intuitive knowledge, whereby, as in reflection, they behold the thoughts of one another, I cannot peremptorily deny but they know a great part of ours. They that to refute the invocation of saints have denied that they have any knowledge of our affairs below, have proceeded too far, and must pardon my opinion, till I can thoroughly answer that piece of Scripture, “At the conversion of a sinner the angels in heaven rejoice.” I cannot with those in that great Father securely interpret the work of the first day, fiat lux, to the creation of angels, though I confess there is not any creature that hath so near a glimpse of their nature, as light in the sun and elements. We style it a bare accident, but where it subsists alone it is a spiritual substance, and may be an angel; in brief, conceive light invisible, and that is a spirit.

These are certainly the magisterial and masterpieces of the Creator, the flower, or, as we may say, the best part of nothing, actually existing, what we are but in hopes, and probability; we are only that amphibious piece between a corporeal and spiritual essence, that middle form that links those two together, and makes good the method of God and nature, that jumps not from extremes, but unites the incompatible distances by some middle and participating natures. That we are the breath and similitude of God, it is indisputable, and upon record of Holy Scripture; but to call ourselves a microcosm, or little world, I thought it only a pleasant trope of rhetoric, till my near judgment and second thoughts told me there was a real truth therein: for first we are a rude mass, and in the rank of creatures, which only are, and have a dull kind of being not yet privileged with life, or preferred to sense or reason; next we live the life of plants, the life of animals, the life of men, and at last the life of spirits, running in one mysterious nature those five kinds of existences, which comprehend the creatures not only of the world, but of the universe. Thus is man that great and true amphibium, whose nature is disposed to live not only like other creatures in divers elements, but in divided and distinguished worlds. For though there be but one to sense, there are two to reason; the one visible, the cther invisible, whereof Moses seems to have left description, and of the other so obscurely, that some parts thereof are yet in controversy. And truly for the first chapters of Genesis, I must confess a great deal of obscurity; though divines have to the power of human reason endeavored to make all go in a literal meaning, yet those allegorical interpretations are also probable, and perhaps the mystical method of Moses, bred up in the hieroglyphical schools of the Egyptians.

Now, for that immaterial world, methinks we need not wander so far as beyond the First Movable; for even in this material fabric the spirits walk as freely exempt from the affection of time, place, and motion, as beyond the extremest circumference. Do but extract from the corpulency of bodies, or resolve things beyond their first matter, and you discover the habitation of angels, which, if I call the ubiquitary and omnipresent essence of God, I hope I shall not offend divinity; for before the creation of the world God was really all things. For the angels he created no new world, or determinate mansion, and therefore they are everywhere where is his essence, and do live at a distance even in himself. That God made all things for man is in some sense true, yet not so far as to subordinate the creation of those purer creatures unto ours, though as ministering spirits they do, and are willing to fulfill the will of God in these lower and sublunary affairs of man. God made all things for himself, and it is impossible he should make them for any other end than his own glory. It is all he can receive, and all that is without himself: for honor being an external adjunct, and in the honorer rather than in the person honored, it was necessary to make a creature from whom he might receive his homage, and that is, in the other world angels, in this man: which when we neglect, we forget the very end of our creation, and may justly provoke God, not only to repent that he hath made the world, but that he hath sworn he would not destroy it. That there is but one world is a conclusion of faith. Aristotle, with all his philosophy, hath not been able to prove it, and, as weakly, that the world

was eternal. That dispute much troubled the pen of the philos. ophers, but Moses decided that question, and all is salved with the new term of a creation, that is, a production of something out of nothing. And what is that? Whatsoever is opposite to something; or, more exactly, that which is truly contrary unto God. For he only is, all others have an existence with dependency, and are something but by a distinction; and herein is divinity conformant unto philosophy, and not only generation founded on contrarieties, but also creation. God being all things, is contrary unto nothing, out of which were made all things; and so nothing became something, and omniety informed nullity into an essence.

The whole creation is a mystery, and particularly that of man. At the blast of his mouth were the rest of the creatures made, and at his bare word they started out of nothing; but in the frame of man (as the text describes it) he played the sensible operator, and seemed not so much to create, as make him. When he had separated the materials of other creatures, there consequently resulted a form and soul; but having raised the walls of man, he was driven to a second and harder creation of a substance like himself, an incorruptible and immortal soul. For these two affections we have the philosophy and opinion of the heathen, the flat affirmative of Plato, and not a negative from Aristotle. There is another scruple cast in by divinity concerning its production much disputed in the German auditories, and with that indifferency and equality of arguments as leave the controversy undetermined. I am not of Paracelsus's mind, that boldly delivers a receipt to make a man without conjunction; yet cannot but wonder at the multitude of heads that do deny traduction, having no other argument to confirm their belief, than that rhetorical sentence, and antimetathesis of Augustine, “Creando infunditur, infundendo creatur." Either opinion will consist well enough with religion; yet I should rather incline to this, did not one objection haunt me, not wrung from speculations and subtleties, but from common sense and observation; not picked from the leaves of any author, but bred amongst the weeds and tares of mine own brain. And this is a conclusion from the equivocal and monstrous productions in the copulation of a man with a beast; for if the soul of man be not transmitted, and transfused in the seed of the parents, why are not those productions merely beasts, but have also an impression

« AnteriorContinuar »