Imágenes de páginas

mean it of application of that which is known, and not of a discovery of that which is unknown. So he saw plainly, that this mark, namely, invention of further means to indow the condition and life of man with new powers or works, was almost never yet set up and resolved in man's intention and enquiry.

6. He thought also, that amongst other knowledges, natural philosophy hath been the least followed and laboured. For since the christian faith, the greatest number of wits have been employed, and the greatest helps and rewards have been converted upon divinity. And before-time likewise, the greatest part of the studies of philosophers was consumed in moral philosophy, which was as the heathen divinity. And in both times a great part of the best wits betook themselves to law, pleadings, and causes of estate; specially in the time of the greatness of the Romans, who, by reason of their large empire, needed the service of all their able men for civil business. And the time amongst the Grecians, in which natural philosophy seemed most to flourish, was but a short space; and that also rather abused in differing sects and conflicts of opinions, than profitably spent. Since which time natural philosophy was never any pro fession, nor never possessed any whole man, ex cept perchance some monk in a cloyster, or some

gentleman in the country, and that very rarely; but became a science of passage, to season a little,

young and unripe wits,

duction to other arts,

and to serve for an introspecially physic and the practical mathematics. So as he saw plainly, that natural philosophy hath been intended by few persons, and in them hath occupied the least part of their time; and that in the weakest of their age and judgment.

7. He thought also, how great opposition and prejudice natural philosophy had received by superstition, and the immoderate and blind zeal of religion; for he found that some of the Grecians, which first gave the reason of thunder, had been condemned of impiety; and that the Cosmographers, which first discovered and described the roundness of the earth, and the consequence thereof touching the antipodes, were not much otherwise censured by the ancient fathers of the christian church; and that the case is now much worse, in regard to the boldness of the schoolmen and their dependances in the monasteries, who, having made divinity into an art, have almost incorporated the contentious philosophy of Aristotle into the body of christian religion; and generally he perceived in men of devout simplicity this opinion, that the secrets of nature were the secrets of God; and part of that glory whereinto the

mind of man, if it seek to press, shall be ope pressed; and that the desire in men to attain to so great and hidden knowledge, hath a resemblance with that temptation which caused the original fall; and, on the other side, in men of a devout policy, he noted an inclination to have the people depend on God the more, when they are less acquainted with second causes; and to have no stirring in philosophy, lest it may lead to an innovation in divinity, or else should discover matter of further contradiction to divinity. But in this part, resorting to the authority of scriptures, and holy examples, and to reason, he rested not satisfied alone, but much confirmed. For first, he considered that the knowledge of nature, by the light whereof man discerned of every living creature, and imposed names according to their propriety, was not the occasion of the fall; but the moral knowledge of good and evil, affected to the end to depend no more upon God's commandments but for man to direct himself. Neither could he find in any scripture, that the inquiry and science of man in any thing, under the mysteries of the deity, is determined and restrained, but contrariwise allowed and provoked. For concerning all other knowledge, the scripture pronounceth, That it is the glory of God to conceal, but it is the glory of man (or of the king, for the king

is but the excellency of man) to invent; and and again, The spirit of man is as the lamp of God, wherewith he searcheth every secret; and again most effectually, That God hath made all things beautiful and decent, according to the return of their seasons; also that he hath set the world in man's heart, and yet man cannot find out the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end: shewing that the heart of man is a continent of that concave or capacity, wherein the content of the world (that is, all forms of the creatures, and whatsoever is not God) may be placed or received; and complaining, that through the variety of things, and vicissitudes of times, (which are but impediments and not impuissances) man cannot accomplish his invention. In precedent also he set before his eyes, that in those few memorials before the flood, the scripture honoureth the name of the inventors of music and works in metal; that Moses had this addition of praise, that he was seen in all the learning of the Egyptians; that Solomon, in his grant of wisdom from God, had contained as a branch thereof that knowledge, whereby he wrote a natural history of all verdure, from the cedar to the moss, and of all that breatheth; that the book of Job, and many places of the prophets, have great aspersion of natural philosophy; that the church in the bosom and lap thereof

in the greatest injuries of times, ever preserved (as holy reliques) the books of philosophy and all heathen learning; and that when Gregory the bishop of Rome became adverse and unjust to the memory of heathen antiquity, it was censured for pusillanimity in him, and the honour thereof soon after restored, and his own memory almost perse. cuted by his successor Sabinian; and lastly, in our times, and the ages of our fathers, when Luther and the divines of the protestant church on the one side, and the jesuits on the other, have enterprized to reform, the one the doctrine, the other the discipline and manners of the church of Rome, he saw well how both of them have awaked to their great honour and succour all human learning ; and for reason, there cannot be a greater and more evident than this, that all knowledge, and specially that of natural philosophy, tendeth highly to the magnifying of the glory of God in his power, providence and benefits, appearing and engraven in his works, which without this knowledge are beheld but as through a veil : for if the heavens in the body of them do declare the glory of God to the eye, much more do they in the rule and decrees of them declare it to the understanding. And another reason, not inferior to this, is, that the same natural philosophy principally amongst all other human knowledge, doth give an excellent

« AnteriorContinuar »