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due to any human knowledge heretofore delivered, yet are now due to the knowledge propounded.
Of the impediments which have been in the affections, the principle whereof hath been despair or diffidence, and the strong apprehension of the difficulty, obscurity, and infiniteness which belongeth to the invention of knowledge, and that men have not known their own strength, and that the supposed difficulties and vastness of the work is rather in shew and muster than in state or substance where the true way is taken. That this diffidence hath moved and caused some never to enter into search, and others when they have been entered either to give over or to seek a more compendious course than can stand with the nature of true search. That of those that have refused and prejudged inquiry, the more sober and grave sort of wits have depended upon authors and traditions, and the more vain and credulous resorted to revelation and intelligence with spirits and higher natures. That of those that have entered into search, some having fallen upon some conceits which they after consider to be the same which they have found in former authors, have suddenly taken a persuasion that a man shall but with much labour incur and light upon the same inventions which he might with ease receive from others; and that it is but a vanity and self-pleasing of the wit to go about again, as one that would rather have a flower of his own gathering, than much better gathered to his hand. That the same humour of sloth and diffidence suggesteth that a man shall but revive some ancient opinion, which was long ago propounded, examined, and rejected. And that it is easy to err in conceit that a man's observation or notion is the same with a former opinion, both because new conceits must of necessity be uttered in old words, and because 1 upon true and erroneous grounds men may meet in consequence or conclusion, as several lines or circles that cut in some one point. That the greatest part of those that have descended into search have chosen for the most artificial and compendious course to induce principles out of particulars, and to reduce all other
A parenthesis "(as the Schools well know)" which follows here, has a line drawn
propositions unto principles; and so instead of the nearest way, have been led to no way or a mere labyrinth. That the two contemplative ways have some resemblance with the old parable of the two moral ways, the one beginning with incertainty and difficulty, and ending in plainness and certainty, and the other beginning with shew of plainness and certainty, and ending in difficulty and incertainty. Of the great and manifest error and untrue conceit or estimation of the infiniteness of particulars, whereas indeed all prolixity is in discourse and derivations; and of the infinite and most laborious expence of wit that hath been employed upon toys and matters of no fruit or value. That although the period of one age cannot advance men to the furthest point of interpretation of nature, (except the work should be undertaken with greater helps than can be expected), yet it cannot fail in much less space of time to make return of many singular commodities towards the state and occasions of man's life. That there is less reason of distrust in the course of interpretation now propounded than in any knowledge formerly delivered, because this course doth in sort equal men's wits, and leaveth no great advantage or preeminence to the perfect and excellent motions of the spirit. That to draw a straight line or to make a circle perfect round by aim of hand only, there must be a great difference between an unsteady and unpractised hand and a steady and practised, but to do it by rule or compass it is much alike.
Of the impediments which have been in the two extreme humours of admiration of antiquity and love of novelty, and again of over-servile reverence or over-light scorn of the opinions of others.
Of the impediments which have been in the affection of pride, specially of one kind, which is the disdain of dwelling and being conversant much in experiences and particulars, specially such as are vulgar in occurrency, and base and ignoble in use. That besides certain higher mysteries of pride, generalities seem to have a dignity and solemnity, in that they do not put men in mind of their familiar actions, in that they
have less affinity with arts mechanical and illiberal, in that they are not so subject to be controuled by persons of mean observation, in that they seem to teach men that they know not, and not to refer them to that they know. All which conditions directly feeding the humour of pride, particulars do want. That the majesty of generalities, and the divine nature of the mind in taking them (if they be truly collected, and be indeed the direct reflexions of things,) cannot be too much magnified. And that it is true that interpretation is the very natural and direct intention, action, and progression of the understanding delivered from impediments. And that all Anticipation is but a deflexion or declination by accident.
Of the impediments which have been in the state of heathen religion and other superstitions and errors of religion. And that in the true religion there hath not' nor is any impediment, except it be by accident or intermixture of humour. That a religion which consisteth in rites and forms of adoration, and not in confessions and beliefs, is adverse to knowledge; because men having liberty to inquire and discourse of Theology at pleasure, it cometh to pass that all inquisition of nature endeth and limiteth itself in such metaphysical or theological discourse; whereas if men's wits be shut out of that port, it turneth them again to discover, and so to seek reason of reason more deeply. And that such was the religion of the Heathen. That a religion that is jealous of the variety of learning, discourse, opinions, and sects, (as misdoubting it may shake the foundations,) or that cherisheth devotion upon simplicity and ignorance, as ascribing ordinary effects to the immediate working of God, is adverse to knowledge. That such is the religion of the Turk, and such hath been the abuse of Christian religion at some several times, and in some several factions. And of the singular advantage which the Christian religion hath towards the furtherance of true knowledge, in that it excludeth and interdicteth human reason, whether by interpretation or anticipation, from examining or discussing of the mysteries and principles of faith.
1 So MS.
Of the impediments which have been in the nature of society and the policies of state. That there is no composition of estate or society, nor order or quality of persons, which have not some point of contrariety towards true knowledge. That monarchies incline wits to profit and pleasure, and commonwealths to glory and vanity. That universities incline wits to sophistry and affectation, cloisters to fables and unprofitable subtilty, study at large to variety; and that it is hard to say, whether mixture of contemplations with an active life, or retiring wholly to contemplations, do disable and hinder the mind more.