« AnteriorContinuar »
Allusive or parabolical is a narration applied only to express some special purpose or conceit: which latter kind of parabolical wisdom was much more in use in the ancient times, as by the fables of Æsop, and the brief sentences of the Seven, and the use of hieroglyphics, may appear. And the cause was, for that it was then of necessity to express any point of reason, which was more sharp or subtile than the vulgar in that manner; because men in those times wanted both variety of examples and subtilty of conceit: and as hieroglyphics were before letters, so parables were before arguments: And nevertheless now, and at all times, they do retain much life and vigour; because reason cannot be so sensible, nor examples so fit.
But there remaineth yet another use of poesy parabolical, opposite to that which we last mentioned for that tendeth to demonstrate and illustrate that which is taught or delivered, and this other to retire and obscure it; that is, when the secrets and mysteries of religion, policy, or philosophy, are involved in fables or parables. Of this in divine poesy we see the use is authorized. In heathen poesy we see the exposition of fables doth fall out sometimes with great felicity; as in the fable that the giants being overthrown in their war against the gods, the Earth, their mother, in revenge thereof brought forth Fame:
"Illam Terra parens, irâ irritata deorum,
Extremam, ut perhibent, Coco Enceladoque sororem Progenuit."
Expounded, that when princes and monarchs have suppressed actual and open rebels, then the malignity of the people, which is the mother of rebellion, doth bring forth libels and slanders, and taxations of the state, which is of the same kind with rebellion, but more feminine. So in the fable, that the rest of the gods having conspired to bind Jupiter, Pallas called Briareus with his hundred hands to his aid: expounded, that monarchies need not fear any curbing of their absoluteness by mighty subjects, as long as by wisdom they keep the hearts of the people, who will be sure to come in on their side. So in the fable, that Achilles was brought up under Chiron the Centaur, who was part a man and part a beast. expounded ingeniously, but corruptly by Machiavel, that it belongeth to the education and discipline of princes to know as well how to play the part of the lion in violence, and the fox in guile, as of the man in virtue and justice. Nevertheless, in many the like encounters, I do rather think that the fable was first, and the exposition then devised, than that the moral was first, and thereVOL. I.-25
upon the fable framed. For I find it was an ancient vanity in Chrysippus, that troubled himself with great contention to fasten the assertions of the Stoics upon the fictions of the ancient poets; but yet that all the fables and fictions of the poets were but pleasure and not figure, I interpose no opinion. Surely of those poets which are now extant, even Homer himself, (notwithstanding he was made a kind of Scripture by the latter schools of the Grecians,) yet I should without any difficulty pronounce that his fables had no such inwardness in his own meaning; but what they might have upon a more original tradition, is not easy to affirm; for he was not the inventor of many of them.
In this third part of learning, which is poesy, I can report no deficience. For being as a plant that cometh of the lust of the earth, without a formal seed, it hath sprung up and spread abroad more than any other kind: but to ascribe unto it that which is due, for the expressing of affections, passions, corruptions, and customs, we are beholden to poets more than to the philosophers' works; and for wit and eloquence, not much less than to orators' harangues. But it is not good to stay too long in the theatre. Let us now pass on to the judicial place or palace of the mind, which we are to approach and view with more reverence and attention.
The knowledge of man is as the waters, some descending from above, and some springing from beneath; the one informed by the light of nature, the other inspired by divine revelation. The light of nature consisteth in the notions of the mind and the reports of the senses: for as for knowledge which man receiveth by teaching, it is cumulative and not original; as in a water that, besides his own spring-head, is fed with other springs and streams. So then, according to these two differing illuminations or originals, knowledge is first of all divided into Divinity and Philosophy.
In Philosophy, the contemplations of man do either penetrate unto God,-or are circumferred to nature,- -or are reflected or reverted upon himself. Out of which several inquiries there do arise three knowledges, Divine philosophy, Natural philosophy, and Human philosophy or Humanity. For all things are marked and stamped with this triple character, of the power of God, the difference of nature, and the use of man. But because the distributions and partitions of knowledge are not like several lines that meet in one angle, and so touch but in a point; but are like branches of a tree, that meet in a stem, which hath a dimension and quantity of entireness and continuance, before it come to discontinue and break itself into arms and boughs; therefore it is good, before we enter into the former distribution, to erect and constitute one universal science, by the name of " Philosophia Prima," primitive or summary phi
in philosophy thus, that the quantum of nature is eternal? in natural theology thus, that it requireth the same omnipotence to make somewhat nothing, which at the first made nothing somewhat? according to the Scripture, "Didici quod omnia opera, quæ fecit Deus, perseverent in perpetuum; non possumus eis quicquam addere nec auferre." Is not the ground, which Machiavel wisely and largely discourseth concerning governments, that the way to establish and preserve them is to reduce them "ad principia," a rule in religion and nature, as well as in civil administration? Was not the Persian magic a reduction or correspondence of the principles and architectures of nature to the rules and policy of governments? Is not the precept of a musician, to fall from a discord or harsh accord upon a concord or sweet accord, alike true in affection? Is not the trope of music, to avoid or slide from the close or cadence, common with the trope of rhetoric of deceiving expectation? Is not the delight of the quavering upon a stop in music the same with the playing of light upon the water?
losophy, as the main and common way, before we
Now that there are many of that kind need not to be doubted. For example; is not the rule, “Si inæqualibus æqualia addas, omnia erunt inæqualia," an axiom as well of justice as of the mathematics? And is there not a true coincidence between commutative and 'stributive justice, and arithmetical and geometrical proportion? Is not that other rule, "Quæ in eodem tertio conveniunt, et inter se conveniunt," a rule taken from the mathematics, but so potent in logic as all syllogisms are built upon it? Is not the observation, • Omnia mutantur, nil interit," a contemplation, the power and skill of the workman, and not his
"Splendet tremulo sub lumine pontus."
Are not the organs of the senses of one kind with the organs of reflection, the eye with a glass, the
ear with a cave or strait determined and bounded?
Neither are these only similitudes, as men of narrow observation may conceive them to be, but the same footsteps of nature, treading or printing upon several subjects or matters. This science, therefore, as I understand it, I may justly report as deficient: for I see sometimes the profounder sort of wits, in handling some particular argument, will now and then draw a bucket of water out of this well for their present use; but the spring-head thereof seemeth to me not to have been visited: being of so excellent use, both for the disclosing of nature and the abridgment of art.
This science being therefore the first placed as common parent, like unto Berecynthia, which had so much heavenly issue,
"Omnes cœlicolas, omnes supera alta tenentes :" we may return to the former distribution of the three philosophies, divine, natural, and human.
And as concerning Divine Philosophy or Natural Theology, it is that knowledge or rudiment of knowledge concerning God, which may be obtained by the contemplation of his creatures; which knowledge may be truly termed divine in respect of the object, and natural in respect of the light. The bounds of this knowledge are, that it sufficeth to convince atheism, but not to inform religion: and therefore there was never miracle wrought by God to convert an atheist, because the light of nature might have led him to confess a God; but miracles have been wrought to convert idolaters and the superstitious, because no light of nature extendeth to declare the will and true worship of God. For as all works do show forth
image; so it is of the works of God, which do show the omnipotency and wisdom of the maker, but not his image; and therefore therein the heathen opinion differeth from the sacred truth: for they supposed the world to be the image of God, and man to be an extract or compendious image of the world; but the Scriptures never vouchsafe to attribute to the world that honour, as to be the image of God, but only the work of his hands; neither do they speak of any other image of God, but man: wherefore by the contemplation of nature to induce and enforce the acknowledgment of God, and to demonstrate his power, providence, and goodness, is an excellent argument, and hath been excellently handled by divers.
But on the other side, out of the contemplation of nature, or ground of human knowledge, to induce any verity or persuasion concerning the points of faith, is in my judgment not safe: “Da fidei, quæ fidei sunt." For the heathen themselves conclude as much, in that excellent and divine fable of the golden chain: "That men and gods were not able to draw Jupiter down to earth; but contrariwise, Jupiter was able to draw them up to heaven.”
So as we ought not attempt to draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason; but | contrariwise to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth. So as in this part of knowledge, touching divine philosophy, I am so far from noting any deficience, as I rather note an excess: whereunto I have digressed; because of the extreme prejudice which both religion and philosophy have received and may receive, by being commixed together; as that which undoubtedly will make an heretical religion, and an imaginary and fabulous philosophy.
gems." And it is no more unlawful to inquire the nature of evil spirits, than to inquire the force of poisons in nature, or the nature of sin and vice in morality. But this part touching angels and spirits I cannot note as deficient, for many have occupied themselves in it; I may rather challenge it, in many of the writers thereof, as fabulous and fantastical.
If then it be true that Democritus said, "That the truth of nature lieth hid in certain deep mines and caves:" and if it be true likewise that the alchymists do so much inculcate, that Vulcan is a second nature, and imitateth that dexterously and compendiously, which nature worketh by ambages and length of time, it were good to divide natural philosophy into the mine and furnace; and to make two professions or occupations of natural philosophers, some to be pioneers and some smiths; some to dig, and some to refine and hammer; and surely I do best allow of a division of that kind, though in more familiar and scholastical terms; namely, that these be the two parts of natural philosophy, the inquisition of causes, and the production of effects; speculative and operative, natural science, and natural prudence. For as in civil matters there is a wisdom of discourse, and a wisdom of direction; so is it in natural. And here I will make a request, that for the latter, or at least for a part thereof, I may revive and reintegrate the misapplied and abused name of Natural Magic; which in the true sense is but natural wisdom, or natural prudence; taken according to the ancient acceptation, purged from vanity and superstition. Now although it be true, and I know it well, that there is an intercourse between causes and effects, so as both these knowledges, speculative and operative, have a great connection between themselves; yet because all true and fruitful natural philosophy hath a double scale or ladder ascendant and descendent; ascending from experiments to the invention of causes, and descending from causes to the invention of new experiments; therefore I judge it most requisite that these two parts be severally considered and handled.
Otherwise it is of the nature of angels and spirits, which is an appendix of theology, both divine and natural, and is neither inscrutable nor interdicted; for although the Scripture saith, "Let no man deceive you in sublime discourse touching the worship of angels, pressing into that he knoweth not," &c. yet, notwithstanding, if you observe well that precept it may appear thereby that there be two things only forbidden, adoration of them, and opinion fantastical of them; either to extol them farther than appertaineth to the degree of a creature, or to extol a man's knowledge Natural Science or Theory is divided into Phyof them farther than he hath ground. But the sic and Metaphysic; wherein I desire it may sober and grounded inquiry, which may arise out be conceived that I use the word metaphysic in a of the passages of Holy Scriptures, or out of the differing sense from that that is received: and in gradations of nature, is not restrained. So of like manner, I doubt not but it will easily appear degenerate and revolted spirits, the conversing to men of judgment, that in this and other particuwith them or the employment of them is prohibit-lars, wheresoever my conception and notion may ed, much more any veneration towards them; differ from the ancient, yet I am studious to keep but the contemplation or science of their nature, the ancient terms. For hoping well to deliver their power, their illusions, either by Scripture or myself from mistaking, by the order and perspi reason, is a part of spiritual wisdom. For so the cuous expressing of that I do propound: I am apostle saith, "We are not ignorant of his strata- otherwise zealous and affectionate to recede as
Leaving therefore divine philosophy or natural theology (not divinity or inspired theology, which we reserve for the last of all, as the haven and sabbath of all man's contemplations) we will now proceed to Natural Philosophy.
little from antiquity, either in terms or opinions, | provision; that they be handled as they have effias may stand with truth and the proficience of cacy in nature, and not logically. It appeareth knowledge. And herein I cannot a little marvel likewise, that Natural Theology, which heretcat the philosopher Aristotle, that did proceed in fore hath been handled confusedly with metaphysuch a spirit of difference and contradiction to- sic, I have enclosed and bounded by itself. It is wards all antiquity: undertaking not only to frame therefore now a question what is left remaining new words of science at pleasure, but to confound for metaphysic; wherein I may without prejudice and extinguish all ancient wisdom: insomuch as preserve thus much of the conceit of antiquity, he never nameth or mentioneth an ancient author that physic should contemplate that which is or opinion, but to confute and reprove; wherein inherent in matter, and therefore transitory; and for glory, and drawing followers and disciples, he metaphysic that which is abstracted and fixed. took the right course. For certainly there cometh And again, that physic should handle that which to pass, and hath place in human truth, that supposeth in nature only a being and moving; which was noted and pronounced in the highest and metaphysic should handle that which suptruth: "Veni in nomine Patris, nec recipitis me; poseth further in nature a reason, understanding, si quis venerit in nomine suo, eum recipietis." and platform. But the difference, perspicuously But in this divine aphorism, (considering to whom expressed, is most familiar and sensible. For as it was applied, namely to Antichrist, the highest we divided natural philosophy in general into the deceiver,) we may discern well that the coming inquiry of causes, and productions of effects; so in a man's own name, without regard of antiquity that part which concerneth the inquiry of causes or paternity, is no good sign of truth, although it we do subdivide according to the received and be joined with the fortune and success of an "Eum sound division of causes; the one part, which is recipietis." But for this excellent person Aris- physic, inquireth and handleth the material and totle, I will think of him that he learned that efficient causes; and the other, which is metahumour of his scholar, with whom, it seemeth, physic, handleth the formal and final causes. he did emulate; the one to conquer all opinions, as the other to conquer all nations: wherein nevertheless, it may be, he may at some men's hands, that are of a bitter disposition, get a like title as his scholar did:
Physic, taking it according to the deriviation, and not according to our idiom for medicine, is situate in a middle term or distance between natural history and metaphysic. For natural history describeth the variety of things; physic, the causes, but variable or respective causes; and metaphysic, the fixed and constant causes.
"Felix terrarum prædo, non utile mundo
"Felix doctrinæ prædo."
But to me, on the other side, that do desire as Fire is the cause of induration, but respective to much as lieth in my pen to ground a sociable in-clay: fire is the cause of colliquation, but respectercourse between antiquity and proficience, it tive to wax; but fire is no constant cause either seemeth best to keep away with antiquity, "us- of induration or colliquation: so then the physical que ad aras;" and therefore to retain the ancient causes are but the efficient and the matter. Phyterms, though I sometimes alter the uses and defi-sic hath three parts; whereof two respect nature nitions, according to the moderate proceeding in united or collected, the third contemplateth nature civil government; where although there be some diffused or distributed. Nature is collected either alteration, yet that holdeth which Tacitus wisely into one entire total, or else into the same principles noteth, "eadem magistratuum vocabula." or seeds. So as the first doctrine is touching the contexture or configuration of things, as "de mundo, de universitate rerum." The second is the doctrine concerning the principles or originals of things. The third is the doctrine concerning all variety and particularity of things; whether it be of the different substances, or their different qualities and natures; whereof there needeth no enumeration, this part being but as a gloss, or paraphrase, that attendeth upon the text of natural history. Of these three 1 cannot report any as deficient. In what truth or perfection they are handled, I make not now any judgment: but they are parts of knowledge not deserted by the labour of man.
To return, therefore, to the use and acceptation of the term Metaphysic, as I do now understand the word; it appeareth, by that which hath been already said, that I intend "philosophia prima," Summary Philosophy and Metaphysic, which heretofore have been confounded as one, to be two things. For, the one I have made as a parent or common ancestor to all knowledge; and the other I have now brought in as a branch or descendant of natural science. It appeareth likewise that I have assigned to Summary Philosophy the common principles and axioms which are promiscuous and indifferent to several sciences: I have assignea unto it likewise the inquiry touching the operation of the relative and adventitious characters of essences, as quantity, similitude, diversity, possibility, and the rest: with this distinction and
"Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit,
For Metaphysic, we have assigned unto it the inquiry of formal and final causes; which assigna tion, as to the former of them, may seem to be
nugatory and void; because of the received and | by that course of invention which hath been used; inveterate opinion, that the inquisition of man is in regard that men, which is the root of all error, not competent to find out essential forms or true have made too untimely a departure and too redifferences of which opinion we will take this mote a recess from particulars. hold, that the invention of forms is of all other But the use of this part of metaphysic, which parts of knowledge the worthiest to be sought, if I report as deficient, is of the rest the most excelit be possible to be found. As for the possibility, lent in two respects: the one, because it is the they are ill discoverers that think there is no land, duty and virtue of all knowledge to abridge the when they can see nothing but sea. But it is infinity of individual experience, as much as the manifest that Plato, in his opinion of ideas, as conception of truth will permit, and to remedy the one that had a wit of elevation situate as upon a complaint of "vita brevis, ars longa;" which is cliff, did descry, "That forms were the true ob- performed by uniting the notions and conceptions ject of knowledge;" but lost the real fruit of his of sciences: for knowledges are as pyramids, opinion, by considering of forms as absolutely whereof history is the basis. So of Natural abstracted from matter, and not confined and de- Philosophy, the basis is natural history; the stage termined by matter; and so turning his opinion | next the basis is physic; the stage next the verupon theology, wherewith all his natural philo- tical point is metaphysic. As for the vertical sophy is infected. But if any man shall keep a point, "Opus quod operatur Deus à principio uscontinual watchful and severe eye upon action, que ad finem," the summary law of nature, we operation, and the use of knowledge, he may ad- know not whether man's inquiry can attain unto vise and take notice what are the forms, the dis- it. But these three be the true stages of knowclosures whereof are fruitful and important to the ledge, and are to them that are depraved no better state of man. For as to the forms of substances, than the giants' hills: man only except, of whom it is said, "Formavit hominem de limo terræ, et spiravit in faciem ejus spiraculum vitæ," and not as of all other creatures, “Producant aquæ, producat terra;" the forms of substances, I say, as they are now by compounding and transplanting multiplied, are so perplexed, as they are not to be inquired; no more than it were either possible or to purpose to seek in gross the forms of those sounds which make words, which by composition and transposition of letters are infinite. But, on the other side, to nquire the form of those sounds or voices which nake simple letters, is easily comprehensible; and being known, induceth and manifesteth the orms of all words, which consist and are compounded of them. In the same manner, to inquire the form of a lion, of an oak, of gold; nay, of water, of air, is a vain pursuit: but to inquire the forms of sense, of voluntary motion, of vegetation, of colours, of gravity and levity, of density, of tenuity, of heat, of cold, and all other natures and qualities, which, like an alphabet, are not many, and of which the essences, upheld by matter, of all creatures do consist; to inquire, í say, the true forms of these, is that part of metaphysic which we now define of. Not but that physic doth make inquiry, and take consideration of the same natures: but how? Only as to the material and efficient causes of them, and not as to the forms. For example; if the cause of whiteness in snow or froth be inquired, and it be rendered thus, that the subtile intermixture of air and water is the cause, it is well rendered; but nevertheless, is this the form of whiteness? No; but it is the efficient, which is ever but "vehiculum formæ." This part of metaphysic I do not find laboured and performed; whereat I marvel not: because I hold it not possible to be invented
"Ter sunt conati imponere Pelio Ossam
Scilicet, atque Ossæ frondosum involvere Olympum."
But to those which refer all things to the glory of God, they are as the three acclamations, "Sancte, sancte, sancte;" holy in the description or dilatation of his works; holy in the connexion or concatenation of them; and holy in the union of them in a perpetual and uniform law. And therefore the speculation was excellent in Parmenides and Plato, although but a speculation in them, that all things by scale did ascend to unity. So then always that knowledge is worthiest, which is charged with least multiplicity; which appeareth to be metaphysic; as that which considereth the simple forms or differences of things, which are few in number, and the degrees and coordinations whereof make all this variety.
The second respect, which valueth and commendeth this part of metaphysic, is, that it doth enfranchise the power of man unto the greatest liberty and possibility of works and effects. For physic carrieth man in narrow and restrained ways, subject to many accidents of impediments, imitating the ordinary flexuous courses of nature; but "late undique sunt sapientibus viæ :" to sapience, which was anciently defined to be "rerum divinarum et humanarum scientia," there is ever choice of means: for physical causes give light to new invention "in simili materia." But whosoever knoweth any form, knoweth the utmost possibility of superinducing that nature upon any variety of matter; and so is less restrained in operation, either to the basis of the matter, or the condition of the efficient: which kind of know ledge Solomon likewise, though in a more divine sort, elegantly describeth: "Non arctabuntu! gressus tui, et currens non habebis offendiculum."