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tation, with too sudden haste desist from that they began, and with precipitancy returning to their former experiments, are reconciled to them again.
The state of man, in respect of arts, and such things as concern the intellect, being now described, the parable passeth to religion : for, after the planting of arts, follows the setting of divine principles, which hypocrisy hath overspread and polluted. By that twofold sacrifice therefore is elegantly shadowed out the persons of a true religious man and an hypocrite. In the one is contained fatness, which, by reason of the inflammation and fumes thereof, is called the portion of God, by which his affection and zeal, tending to God's glory, and ascending towards heaven, is signified. In him also are contained the bowels of charity, and in him is found that good and wholesome flesh; whereas in the other there is nothing but dry and naked. bones, which nevertheless do stuff up the hide, and make it appear like a fair and goodly sacrifice : by this may be well meant those external and vain rites, and empty ceremonies, by which men do oppress and fill sincere worship of God; things composed rather for
. ostentation than any way conducing to true piety. Neither do they hold it sufficient to offer such mocksacrifices unto God; except they also lay them before him, as if he had chosen and bespoke them. Certainly the prophet, in the person of God, doth thus expostulate concerning this choice : Esa. Iviii. 5. “ Num tandem hoc est illud jejunium, quod ELEGI, “ ut homo animam suam in diem unum affligat, et
caput instar junceti demittat ?" Is it such a fast that I have chosen, that a man should afflict his soul for a day, and to bow down his head like a bulrush ?
Having now' touched the state of religion, the parable converts itself to the manners and conditions of human life : and it is a common but apt interpretation by Pandora, to be meant pleasure and voluptuousness, which, when the civil life is pampered with too much art, and culture, and superfluity, is engendered, as it were, by the efficacy of fire, and therefore the work of voluptuousness is attributed unto Vulcan, who also himself doth represent fire. From this do infinite miseries, together with too late repentance, proceed and overflow the minds, and bodies, and fortunes of men; and that not only in respect of particular estates, but even over kingdoms and commonwealths : for from this fountain have wars, tumults, and tyrannies derived their original.
But it would be worth the labour to consider how elegantly and proportionably this fable doth delineate two conditions, or, as I may say, two tables or examples of human life, under the persons of Prometheus or Epimetheus : for they that are of Epimetheus' sect are improvident, not foreseeing what may come to pass hereafter, esteeming that best which seems most sweet for the present; whence it happens that they are overtaken with many miseries, difficulties, and calamities, and so lead their lives almost in perpetual affliction; but yet, notwithstanding, they please their fancy, and out of ignorance of the passages of things, do entertain many vain hopes in their mind, whereby they sometimes, as with sweet dreams, solace themselves, and sweeten the miseries of their life. But they that are Prometheus' scholars, are men endued with prudence, foreseeing things to come, warily shunning and avoiding many evils and misfortunes. But to these their good properties they have this also annexed, that they deprive themselves and defraud their genius of many lawful pleasures, and divers recreations; and, which is worse, they vex and torment themselves with cares and troubles, and intestine fears; for being chained to the pillar of necessity, they are afflicted with innumerable cogitations, which, because they are very swift, may be fitly compared to an eagle; and those griping, and, as it were gnawing and devouring the liver, unless sometimes as it were by night, it may be they get a little recreation and ease of mind, but so, as that they are again suddenly assaulted with fresh anxieties and fears.
Therefore this benefit happens to but a very few of either condition, that they should retain the commodities of providence, and free themselves from the miseries of care and perturbation ; neither indeed can any attain unto it but by the assistance of Hercules, that is, fortitude and constancy of mind, which is prepared for every event, and armed in all fortunes; foreseeing without fear, enjoying without loathing, and suffering without impatience. It is worth the noting also, that this virtue was not natural to Prometheus, but adventitial, and from the indulgence of another : for no in-bred and natural fortitude is able to encounter with these miseries. Moreover this virtue was received and brought unto him from the remotest part of the ocean, and from the sun, that is, from wisdom as from the sun; and from the meditation of inconstancy, or of the waters of human life, as from the sailing upon the ocean ; which two, Virgil hath well conjoined in these verses :
“ Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas :
Moreover, it is elegantly added for the consolation and confirmation of men's minds, that this noble hero crossed the ocean in a cup or pan, lest, peradventure, they might too much fear that the straits and frailty of their nature will not be capable of this fortitude and constancy. Of which very thing Seneca well conceived, when he said, “ Magnum est
, “ habere simul fragilitatem hominis, et securitatem “ Dei." It is a great matter for human frailty and divine security to be one and the self-same time, in one and the self-same subject.
But now we are to step back a little again to that, which by premeditation we past over, lest a breach should be made in those things which were so linked together : that therefore which I could touch here is that last crime imputed to Prometheus, about seeking to bereave Minerva of her virginity : for, questionless, it was this heinous offence that brought that punishment of devouring his liver upon him ; which is nothing else but to shew, that when we are puffed up with too much learning and science, they go about oftentimes to make even divine oracles subject to sense and reason, whence most certainly follows a continual distraction, and restless griping of the mind; we must therefore, with a sober and humble judgment, distinguish between humanity and divinity, and between the oracles of sense and the mysteries of faith, unless an heretical religion and a commentitious philosophy be pleasing unto us.
Lastly, it remains that we say something of the games of Prometheus, performed with burning torches, which again hath reference to arts and sciences, as that fire, in whose memory and celebration these games were instituted ; and it contains in it a most wise admonition, that the perfection of sciences is to be expected from succession, not from the nimbleness and promptness of one only author : for they that are nimblest in course, and strongest in contention, yet happily have not the luck to keep fire still in their torch, seeing it may be as well extinguished by running too fast as by going too slow. And this running and contending with lamps seems long since to be intermitted, seeing all sciences seem even now to flourish most in their first authors, Aristotle, Galen, Euclid, and Ptolemy; succession having neither effected, nor almost attempted any great matter : it were therefore to be wished that these