|Sir Thomas Browne Page||Religio Medici|
Received yesternight, your Lordships of the 19 current ; wherein you are pleased to obleige me, not onely by extreame gallant expressions of favour and kindnesse : but likewise by taking so farre into your care the expending of my time during the tediousness of my restraint, as to recommend to my reading a Booke, that had received the honour and safeguard of your approbation, for both which I most humbly thanke your Lordship. And since I cannot, in the way of gratefulnesse expresse unto your Lordship as I would those hearty sentiments I have of your goodnesse to me ; I will at the least endeavour, in the way of Duty and observance, to let you see how the little needle of my Soule is throughly touched at the great loadstone of yours, and followeth sudainely and strongly which way soever you beckon it. In this occasion, the magnetlike motion, was impatience to have the Booke in my hands that your Lordship gave so advantageous a character of ; whereupon I sent presently (as late as it was) to Pauls Churchyard, for this favourite of yours, Religio Medici: which after a while found me in a condition fit to receive a Blessing by a visit from any of such Masterpeeces as you looke upon with gracious eyes ; For I was newly gotten into my Bed. This good natur'd creature I could easily perswade to bee my Bedfellow, and to wake with mee as long as I had any edge to entertaine my selfe with the delights I sucked from so noble a conversation. And truely (my Lord) I closed not my eyes till I had enricht my selfe with, (or at least exactly surveyed) all the treasures that are lapped up in the folds of those few sheets. To returne onely a generall commendations of this curious peece, or at large to admire the authors Spirit and smartnes, were too perfunctory an accompt, and too slight a one, to so discerning and steddy an eye as yours, after so particular and encharged a summons to read heedfully this discourse. I will therefore presume to blot a sheete or two of paper with my reflections upon sundry passages through the whole context of it, as they shall occurre to my remembrance. Which now your Lordship knoweth this packet is not so happy as to carry with it any other expression of my obsequiousnesse to you ; It will bee but reasonable, you should even here, give over your further trouble of reading, what my respect ingageth mee to the writing of.
Whose first steppe is ingenuity and a well natur'd evennesse of Judgement, shall bee sure of applause and faire hopes in all men for the rest of his Journey: And indeed (my Lord) me thinketh this Gentleman setteth out excellently poised with that happy temper ; and sheweth a great deale of Judicious piety in making a right use of the blind zeale that Bigots loose themselves in. Yet I cannot satisfie my doubts throughly, how hee maketh good his professing to follow the great wheele of the Church in matters of Divinity: which surely is the solid Basis of true Religion: for to doe so, without jarring against the conduct of that first mover by Eccentricall and irregular motions, obleigeth one to yeeld a very dutifull obedience to the determinations of it without arrogating to ones selfe a controlling ability in liking or misliking the faith, doctrine and constitutions of that Church which one looketh upon as their North starre : Whereas if I mistake not, this author approveth the Church of England not absolutely, but comparatively with other reformed Churches.
My next reflection is concerning what he hath sprinkled (most wittily) in severall places, concerning the nature and immortality of a humane soule, and the condition and state it is in, after the dissolution of the body. And here give me leave to observe what our Countryman Roger Bacon did long agoe ; That those students who busie themselves much with such notions, as reside wholly to the fantasie, do hardly ever become idoneous for abstracted metaphysicall speculations; the one having bulky foundatiõ of matter, or of the accidents of it, to settle upon, (at the least, with one foote ;) The other flying continually, even to a lessening pitch, in the Subtile ayre ; And accordingly it hath beene generally noted, that the exactest Mathematicians, who converse altogether with lines, figures, and other differences of quantity; have seldome proved eminent in Metaphysicks or speculative Divinity. Nor againe the professors of these sciences, in the other arts. Much lesse can it be expected that an excellent Physitian whose fancy is always fraught with the materiall drugs that hee prescribeth his Apothecary to compound his Medicines of ; and whose hands are inured to the cutting up, & eies to the inspection of anatomised bodies ; should easily, and with successe, flye his thoughts at so towring a Game, as a pure intellect, a Separated and unbodyed Soule ; surely this acute Authors sharpe wit, had hee orderly applyed his studies that way, would have beene able to satisfie himselfe with lesse labour, and others with more plenitude, then it hath beene the lot of so dull a braine as mine, concerning the immortality of the Soule: yet I assure you (my Lord) the little Philosophy that is allowed mee for my share, demonstrateth this proposition to mee, as well as faith delivereth it : which our Physician will not admit in his.1
To make good this assertion here, were very unreasonable, since that to doe it exactly, (and without exactnesse, it were no demonstration) requireth a totall Survey of the whole science of Bodyes, and of all the operations that wee are conversant with, of a rationall creature ; which I having done, with all the succinctness I have beene able to explicate so knotty a Subject with, hath taken mee up in the first draught neere two hundred sheets of paper. I shall therefore take leave of this point with onely this note, that I take the immortality of the Soule (under his favour) to bee that of nature, that to them onely that are not versed in the wayes of proving it by reason, it is an article of faith; to others, it is an evident conclusion of demonstrative Science.
And with a like short note I shall observe how if hee had traced the nature of the Soule from its first principles, hee could not have suspected it should sleepe in the grave till the Resurrection of the body. Nor would hee have permitted his compassionative nature to imagine it belonged to Gods mercy (as the Chiliasts did2) to change its condition in those that are damned, from paine to happiness. For where God should have done that, hee must have made that anguished Soule another creature then what it was, (as to make the fire cease from being hot, requireth it become another thing then the Element of fire ;) since, that to be in such a condition as maketh us understand damned Soules miserable, is a necessary effect of the temper it is in, when it goeth out of the Body, and must necessarily (out of its own nature) remaine in, unvariably for all eternity ; Though, for the conceptions of the vulgar part of mankind, (who are not capable of such abstruse notions) it be stiled (and truly too) the sentence and punishment of a severe Judge.
I am extreamely pleased with him, when he saith there are not impossibilities enough in Religion for an active faith ; And no whit lesse, when in Philosophy hee will not bee satisfied with such naked termes as in Schools use to be obtruded upon easie mindes, when the Masters fingers are not strong enogh to untie the knots proposed unto them. I confesse, when I enquire what light (to use our Authors example) is, I should bee as well contented with his Silence, as with his telling mee it is Actus perspicui; unlesse hee explicate clearly to me what those words mean, which I finde very few goe about to do.3 Such meate they swallow whole, and eject it as entire. But were such things, scientifically, and methodically declared, they would bee of extreame satisfaction, and delight. And that worke taketh up the greatest part of my formerly mentioned treatise. For I endeavour to shew by a continued progresse, and not by Leapes, all the motions of nature ; & unto them to fit intelligibly the termes used by her best Secretaries : whereby all wilde fantasticke qualities and moods (introduced for refuges of ignorance) are banished from my commerce.
In the next place (my Lord) I shall suspect that our author hath not penetrated into the bottome of those conceptions that deepe Schollers have taught us of Eternity. Me thinketh hee taketh it for an infinite extension of time, and a never ending revolution of continuall succession ; which is no more like Eternity, then a grosse body is like to a pure Spirit. Nay, such an infinity of revolutions, is demonstrable to bee a contradiction and impossible. In the state of eternity there is no succession, no change, no variety. Soules or Angells, in that condition, doe not so much as change a thought. All things, notions, and actions, that ever were, are, or shal bee in any creature, are actually present to such an intellect. And this (my Lord) I aver, not as deriving it from Theologie, and having recourse to beatifike vision to make good my tenet, (for so, onely glorified creatures should enjoy such immense knowledge) but out of the principles of Nature and Reason, and from thence shal demonstrate it to belong to the lowest Soule of the ignorantest wretch whiles hee lived in this world, since damned in Hell. A bold undertaking you will say ; But I confidently engage my selfe to it. Vpon this occasion occurreth also a great deale to bee said of the nature of Predestination (which by the short touches our Author giveth of it, I doubt hee quite mistakes) and how it is an unalterable Series and chaine of causes, producing infallible (and in respect of them, necessary) effects : But that is too large a Theame to unfold here ; too vast an Ocean to describe, in the scant Map of a Letter. And therefore I will refer that to a fitter opportunity, fearing I have already too much trespassed upon your Lordships patience ; but that indeed I hope you have not had enough to read thus far.
I am sure (my Lord) that you (who never forgot any thing, which deserved a roome in your memory) doe remember how wee are told, that Abyssus abyssum invocat:4 So here our Author, from the abysse of Predestination, falleth into that of the Trinity of Persons consistent with the indivisibility of the divine nature : And out of that (if I be not exceedingly deceived) into a third, of mistaking, when he goeth about to illustrate this admirable mystery by a wild discourse5 of a Trinity in our Soules. The dint of wit is not forcible enough to dissect such tough matter ; wherein at the obscure glimmering wee gaine of that inaccessible light, commeth to us cloathed in the darke weeds of negations, and therefore little can wee hope to meete with any positive examples to parallel it withall.
I doubt, hee also mistaketh, and imposeth upon the severer Schooles, when he intimateth that they gainesay this visible worlds being but a picture or shadow of the invisible & intellectual : which manner of Philosophising, hee attributeth to Hermes Trismegistus; but is every where to be met with in Plato; and is raised since to a greater heighti n the Christian Schooles.
But I am sure hee learned in no good Schoole, nor sucked from any good Philosophy to give an actuall subsistence and being to first matter without a forme. Hee that will allow that a Reall existence in nature is as superficially tincted in Metaphysicks, as an other would bee in Mathematicks that should allow the like to a point, a line, or a superficies in Figures. These, in their strict Notions, are but negations of further extension, or but exact terminations of that quantity which falleth under the consideration of the understanding, in the present purpose ; no reall entities in themselves : so likewise, the notions of matter, forme, act, power, existence, and the like, that are with truth considered by the understanding, and have there each of them a distinct entity, are never the lesse, no where by themselves in nature. They are termes which wee must use in the negotiations of our thoughts, if wee will discourse consequently, and conclude knowingly. But then againe wee must bee very wary of attributing to things in their owne natures, such entities as wee create in our understandings, when wee make pictures of them there ; for there every different consideration arising out of the different impression, which the same thing maketh upon us, hath a distinct being by it self. Whereas in the thing, there is but one single unity, that sheweth (as it were in a glasse, at severall positions) those various faces in our understanding. In a word ; all these words are but artificiall termes, not reall things : And the not right understanding them, is the dangerousest rocke that Schooles suffer shipwracke against.
I goe on with our Physitians contemplations. Vpon every occasion, hee sheweth strong parts and a vigorous brayne. His wishes and aymes, and what he pointeth at, speake him owner of a noble & a generous heart. He hath reason to wish that Aristotle had been as accurate in examining the causes, nature and affections of the great Vniverse hee busied himselfe about, as his Patriarke Galen hath beene in the like considerations upon his little World, mans body, in that admirable worke of his de usu partium. But no great humane thing, was ever borne and perfected at once. It may satisfie us, if one in our age, buildeth that magnifike structure upon the others foundations ; and especially, if where hee findeth any of them unsound, he eradicateth those, and fixeth new unquestionable ones in their roome : but so, as they still, in grosse, keep a proportion, and beare a Harmony with the others great worke: This, hath now, (even now) our learned Country-man done, The knowing Master White, (whose name, I believe your Lordship hath met withall) in his excellent booke, De Mundo, newly printed at Paris, where he now resideth, and is admired by the world of Lettered men there, as the Prodigie of these latter times. Indeed his three Dialogues upon that Subject, (if I am able to judge any thing) are full of the profoundest learning I ever yet met withall. And I beleeve ; who hath well read and digested them, will perswade himselfe there is no truth so abstruse, nor hitherto conceived our of our reach, but mans wit may raise engines to scale and conquer. I assure my selfe, when our author hath studied him throughly, hee will not lament so loude for Aristotles mutilated and defective Philosophy; as in Boccalini, Cæsar Caporali doth for the losse of Livies shipwracked Decads.
That Logicke which hee quarrelleth at for calling a Toade, or a Serpent ugly, will in the end agree with his ; for no body ever tooke them to be so, in respect of the Vniverse (in which regard, he defendeth their regularity, and Symmetry) but onely as they have relation to us.6
But I cannot so easily agree with him when he affirmeth that Devills, or other Spirits in the Intellectuall world have no exact Ephemerides wherein they may reade before-hand the stories of fortuite accidents : for I beleeve that all causes are so immediately chayned to their effects, as if a perfect knowing nature get hold but of one linke, it will drive the entire Series or pedegree of the whole to each utmost end ; (as I thinke I have proved in my forenamed treatise) so that in truth, there is no fortuitenesse or contingency of things, in respect of themselves, but onely in respect of us, that are ignorant of their certaine, and necessary causes.
Now a like Series or chaine, and complexe of all outward circumstances (whose highest Linke, Poets say prettily, is fastned to Jupiters chayre, and the lowest is riveted to every individuall on earth) steered and levelled by God Almighty, at the first setting out of the first Mover; I conceive, to bee that divine Providence and mercy, which (to use our Authors owne example) giveth a thriving Genius to the Hollanders; and the like : and not any secret, invisible blessing, that falleth not under the search or cognizance of a prudent indagation.
I must needs approve our authors æquanimity, and I may as justly say his magnanimity, in being contented so cheerfully (as he saith) to shake hands with the fading Goods of Fortune; and bee deprived of the joyes of her most precious blessings ; so that hee may in recompence, possesse in ample measure the true ones of the mind, like Epictetus, that great Master of morall wisedome and piety, who taxeth them of high injustice that repine at Gods distribution of his blessings, when he putteth not into their share of goods, such things as they use no industry or meanes to purchase. For why should that man who above all things esteemeth his owne freedome ; and who to enjoy that sequestereth himself from commerce with the vulgar of mankinde ; take it ill of his Starres, if such preferments, honors, & applauses meet not him, as are painefully gained after long & tedious services of Princes, & brittle dependances of humorous favourites, & supple complyances with all sorts of natures? As for what he saith of Astrologie; I do not conceive that wise men reject it so much for being repugnant to Divinity (which he reconcileth well enough) as for having no solid rules, or ground in nature. To rely too far upon that vaine art, I judge to bee rather folly then impiety. Vnlesse in our censure, we looke to the first Origine of it, which savoureth of the Idolatry of those Heathens that worshipping the Stars and heavenly bodies for Deities, did in a superstitious devotion, attribute unto them the causality of all effects beneath them. [(]And for ought I know, the beliefe of solid Orbes in the heavens, and their regularly-irregular motions, sprung from the same root.) And a like inanity, I should suspect in Chiromancy aswell as Astrologie, (especially, in particular contingent effects) however our Author, and no lesse a man then Aristotle, seeme to attribute somewhat more to that conjecturall art of Lynes.
This story I have but upon relation; yet of a very good hand. [Digby marginalia]
I should much doubt (though our Author sheweth himselfe of another minde) that Bernardinus Ochinus grew at the last to bee a meere Atheist: when after having beene first the institutor and Patriarch of the Capucine order (so violent was his zeale then, as no former religious institution, though never so rigorous, was strict enough for him) hee from thence fell to bee first an Hereticke, then a Jew; and after a while became a Turke, and at the last wrote a furious Invective against those whom hee called the three Grand-Impostors of the World; among whom hee ranked our Saviour Christ, aswell as Moses and Mahomet.7
I doubt hee mistaketh in his Chronologie, or the printer in the name, when hee maketh Ptolomy condemne the Alchoran.8
Hee needeth not be so scrupulous, as hee seemeth to bee in averring downe rightly, that God cannot doe contradictory things, (though peradventure it is not amisse to sweeten the manner of the expression, and the sound of the words) for who understandeth the nature of contradiction, will find Non Entity in one of the termes, which of God, were impiety not to deny peremptorily ; for being in his proper nature Selfe-Entity, all being must immediately flow from him, and all not-being be totally excluded from that effluxe. Now for the recalling of Time past, which the Angels posed Esdras withall ; there is no contradiction in that ; as is evident to them that know the essence of time (for it is but putting againe, all things, that had motion, into the same state they were in, at that moment unto which time was to be reduced backe and from thence, letting it travell on againe, by the same motions, and upon the same wheeles, it rolled upon before.) And therefore God could doe this admirable worke, though neither Esdras, nor all the power of creatures together could doe it : And consequently it cannot in this Question bee said, that he posed mortality with what himselfe was not able to performe.
I acknowledge ingenuously our Physicians experience hath the advantage of my Philosophy, in knowing there are witches. Yet I am sure, I have no temptation to doubt of the Deity; nor have any unsatisfaction in believing there are Spirits. I doe not see such a necessary conjunction betweene them, as that the supposition of the one, must needs inferre the other. Neither do I deny there are witches. I onely reserve my assent, till I meete with stronger motives to carry it. And I confesse I doubt asmuch of the efficacy of those magicall rules he speaketh of, as also of the finding out of mysteries by the courteous Revelation of Spirits.
I doubt, his discourse of an vniversall Spirit, is but a wilde fansie:9 And that in the marshalling of it, hee mistaketh the Hermeticall Philosophers. And surely, it is a weake argument, from a common nature that subsisteth onely in our understanding, (out of which it hath no being at all) to inferre, by parity, an actuall subsistence of the like, in realty of nature. (of which kind of miscarriage in mens discoursings, I have spoken before) And upon this occasion, I doe not see how seasonably he falleth, of a suddaine, from naturall speculations to a morall contemplation of Gods Spirit working in us. In which also I would inquire (especially upon his suddaine poeticall rapture) whether the solidity of the Judgement bee not outweighed by the ayrienesse of the fancy. Assuredly one cannot erre in taking this Author for a very fine ingenious Gentleman: but for how deepe a Scholler, I leave them to judge, that are abler then I am.
If he had applyed himselfe with earnest study, and upon right grounds, to search out the nature of pure intellects : I doubt not but his great parts would have argued more efficaciously, then he doth against those that between men and Angells put onely Porphyries difference of Mortality and immortality. And hee would have dived further into the tenor of their intellectuall operations ; in which there is no succession, nor ratiocinative discourse : for in the very first instant of their creation, they actually knew all that they were capable of knowing ; and they are acquainted even with all free thoughts, past, present, and to come ; for they see them in their causes, and they see them altogether at one instant : as I have in my forementioned treatise proved at large: and I thinke I have already touched thus much once before in this Letter.
I am tempted here to say a great deale concerning Light, by his taking it to bee a bare quality. For in Physicks no speculation is more usefull, or reacheth further. But to set downe such Phænomena's of it as I have observed, and from whence I evidently collect the nature of it ; were too large a Theame for this place ; when your Lordshippe pleaseth I shall shew you another more orderly discourse upon that Subject ; wherein I have sufficiently proved it to be a solid Substance and body.
In his proceeding to collect an intellectual world ; and in his discoursing upon the place, and habitation of Angels: As also in his consideration of the activity of glorified eyes ; (which shal be in a state of rest, whereas motion, is required to seeing) And in his subtil speculation upon two bodies placed in the vacuity beyond the utmost all-enclosing superficies of Heaven (which implyeth a contradiction in nature) me thinkes I heare Apelles crying out, Ne sutor ultra Crepidam:10 or rather it putteth me in minde of one of the titles in Pantagruels Library, (which he expresseth himselfe conversant in) namely, Quæstio subtilissima, Vtrum Chimæra in vacuo bombinans possit comedere Secundas intentiones. With which short note I will leave these considerations ; in which (it time and other circumstances allowed it) matter would spring up of excellent Learning.
When our author shall have read Master Whites Dialogues of the world, hee will no longer bee of the opinion, that the unity of the world is a conclusion of Faith : For it is there demonstrated byReason.
Here the thread of the discourse inviteth mee to say a great deale of the production, or creation of Mans Soule. But it is too tedious and too knotty a peece for a Letter. Now it shall suffice to note, that it is not Ex traduce, and yet hath a strange kind of neere dependance of the body ; which is, as it were, Gods instrument to create it by. This, thus said, or rather tumbled out, may seeme harsh ; But had your Lordship leisure to peruse what I have written at full upon this point, I doubt not but it would appeare plausible enough to you.
I cannot agree with him when hee seemeth to impute inconvenience to long life; & that length of time doth rather impaire, then improve us : For surely if wee will follow the course of nature, and of reason, it is a mighty great blessing ; were it but in this regard, that it giveth time leave to vent & boyle away the unquietnesses and turbulencies that follow our passions ; and to weane our selves gently from carnall affections, and at the last to drop with ease and willingnesse, like ripe fruit from the Tree; as I remember Plotinus finely discourseth in one of his Enneads. For when before the season, it is plucked off with violent hands, or shaken downe by rude and boysterous windes, it carrieth along with it an indigested raw tast of the wood, and hath an unpleasant aigrenesse in its juyce, that maketh it unfit for use, till long time have mellowed it : And peradventure it may be so backward, as instead of ripening, it may grow rotten in the very Center. In like manner, Soules that goe out of their bodies with affections to those objects they leave behinde them, (which usually is as long as they can relish them) doe retaine still even in their separation, a byas, and a languishing towards them : which is the Reason why such terrene Soules appeare oftenest in Cmeteries and Charnell houses; (and not, that morall one which our Author giveth :) for life which is union with the body, being that which carnal Soules have straightest affections to, and that they are loathest to be separated from ; their unquiet Spirit, which can never (naturally) loose the impressions it had wrought in it at the time of its driving out, lingreth perpetually after that deare confort of his. The impossibility cannot cure them of their impotent desires ; They would faine be alive againe,
Iterumque ad tarda reverti
Corpora. Quæ lucis miseris tam dira cupido?11
And to this cause peradventure may bee reduced the strange effect which is frequently seen in England, when at the approach of the Murderer, the slaine body suddainely bleedeth afresh : For certainely the Soules of them that are treacherously murdered by surprise, use to leave their Bodies with extreame unwillingnesse, and with vehement indignation against them that force them to so unprovided & abhorred a passage. That Soule then to wreak its evill tallent against the hated Murderer, and to draw a just and desired revenge upon his head ; would doe all it can to manifest the author of the fact. To speake, it cannot ; for in it selfe, it wanteth Organs of voyce, and those it is parted from, are now growne too heavy, and are too benummed for it, to give motion unto. Yet some change it desireth to make in the body which it hath so vehement inclinations to, & therefore is the aptest for it to worke upon. It must then endeavour to cause a motion in the subtilest & most fluid parts (and consequently, the most moveable ones) of it. This can be nothing but the Blood ; which then being violently moved, must needs gush out at those places where it findeth issues.
Our author cannot beleeve that the world will perish upon the ruines of its own principles : But Master White hath demonstrated the end of it upon naturall Reason. And though the precise time for that generall destruction bee inscrutable ; yet he learnedly sheweth an ingenious rule whereby to measure in some sort the duration of it, without being branded (as our author threatneth) with convincible and Statute madnesse, or with impiety. And whereas hee will have the worke of this last great day (the summer up of all past dayes) to imply annihilation and thereupon interesseth God onely in it : I must beg leave to contradict him namely in this point, and to affirme that the letting loose then of the activest Element to destroy this face of the World, will but beget a change in it, and that no annihilation can proceed from God Almighty : for his essence being (as I said before) selfe-existence, it is more impossible that Not-being should flow from him, then that cold should flow immediately from fire, or darkenesse from the actuall presence of light.
I must needs acknowldge that where he ballanceth life and death against one another and considereth that the latter is to bee a kinde of nothing for a moment, to become a pure Spirit within one instant, and what followeth of this strong thought ; is extreame handsomely said, and argueth very gallant and generous resolutions in him.
To exemplifie the immortality of the Soule, hee needeth not have recourse to the Philosophers stone. His owne store furnisheth him with a most pregnant one of reviving a plant (the same numericall plant) out of his owne ashes. But under his favour, I beleeve his experiment will faile, if under the notion of the same, hee comprehendeth all the Accidents that first accompanied the plant ; for since in the ashes there remaineth onely the fixed Salt, I am very confident that all the colour, and much of the odor and Tast of it, is flowne away with the Volatile salt.
What should I say of his making so particular a narration of pesonall things, and private thoughts of his owne ; the knowledge whereof cannot much conduce to any mans betterment? (which I make account is the chiefe end of his writing this discourse) As where he speaketh of the soundnesse of his body, of the course of his dyet, of the coolenesse of his blood at the Summer Solstice of his age, of his neglect of an Epitaph: how long he hath lived or may live what Popes, Emperorours, Kings, Grand-Seigneurs, he hath beene contemporary unto, and the like : would it not be thought that hee hath a speciall good opinion of himselfe, (and indeed hee hath reason) when he maketh such great Princes the Land-markes in the Chronology of himselfe? Surely if he were to write by retaile the particulars of his owne Story and life, it would bee a notable Romanze; since he telleth us in one totall summe, it is a continued miracle of thirty yeares. Though he creepeth gently upon us at the first, yet he groweth a Gyant, an Attlas (to use his own expression) at the last. But I will not censure him as hee that made notes upon Balsacs letters, and was angry with him for vexing his readers with stories of his Cholikes, and voyding of gravell. I leave this kind of his expressions, without looking further into them.
In the next place (my Lord) I shall take occasion from our authors setting so maine a difference between morall honesty and vertue, or being vertuous, (to use his owne phrase) out of an inbred loyalty to vertue ; and on the other side, being vertuous for a rewards sake ; To discourse a little concerning Vertue in this life, and the effects of it afterwards. Truely (my Lord) however he seemeth to prefer this latter, I cannot but value the other much before it, if we regard the noblenesse, and heroikenesse of the nature and mind from whence they both proceed : And if wee consider the Iourneyes end, to which each of them carrieth us, I am confident the first yeeldeth nothing to the second, but indeed both meete in the period of Beatitude. To cleare this point (which is very well worth the wisest mans seriousest thoughts) we must consider, what it is that bringeth us to this excellent State, to be happy in the other world of eternity and immutability. It is agreed on all hands to bee Gods grace and favour to us : But all doe not agree by what steps his grace produceth this effect. Herein I shall not trouble your Lordshippe with a long discourse, how that grace worketh in us, (which yet I will in a word touch anon, that you may conceive what I understand grace to be) but will suppose it to have wrought its effect in us in this life, and from thence examine what hinges they are that turn us over to Beatitude and Glory in the next. Some consider God as a Iudge, that rewardeth or punisheth men, according as they cooperated with or repugned to, the grace hee gave. That according as their actions please or displease him, he is well affected towards them or angry with them ; And accordingly maketh them, to the purpose, and very home, feele the effects of his kindenesse or indignation. Others that flye a higher pitch, and are so happy,
Vt rerum poterint cognoscere causas,12
doe conceive that Beatitude, and misery in the other life, are effects that necessarily and orderly flow out of the nature of those causes that begot them in this life, without engaging God Almighty to give a sentence, and act the part of a Iudge, according to the state of our cause, as it shall appeare upon the accusations and pleadings at his great Bar. Much of which manner of expression, is metaphoricall, and rather adapted to containe vulgar mindes in their duties (that are awed with the thought of a severe Iudge, sifting every minute action of theirs) then such as we must conceive every circumstance to passe so in reality as the literall sound of the words seemes to inferre in ordinary construction : (and yet all that is true too, in its genuine sense) But (my Lord) these more penetrating men, and that I conceive are vertuous upon higher and stronger motives (for they truely and solidly know why they are so) doe consider that what impressions are once made in the spirituall substance of a Soule, and what affections it hath once contracted, doe ever remaine in it till a contrary and diametrally contradicting judgement and affection, doe obliterate it, & expell it thence. This is the reason why Contrition, sorrow and hatred for past Sins, is encharged us. If then the Soule doe goe out of the body with impressions and affections to the objects, and pleasures of this life ; it continually lingreth after them, and as Virgil (learnedly as well as wittily) saith,
Quæ gratia currûm,
Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos.13
But that being a State wherein those objects neither are, nor can be enjoyed, it must needs follow that such a Soule must bee in an exceeding anguish, sorrow, & affliction, for being deprived of them ; & for want of those it so much priseth, will neglect all other contentments it might have, as not having a relish or tast moulded and prepared to the savouring of them ; but like feaverish tongues, that when they are even scorched with heat, take no delight in the pleasingest of liquors, but the sweetest drinks seeme bitter to them by reason of their overflowing Gall ; Soe they even hate whatsoever Good is in their power, and thus pine away a long eternity. In which the sharpenesse and activity of their paine, anguish, and sad condition, is to be measured by the sensiblenesse of their natures : which being then purely spirituall, is in a manner infinitely more then any torment that in this life can bee inflicted upon a dull grosse body. To this add, the vexation it must bee to them, to see how inestimable and infinite a good, they have lost ; and lost meerely by their own fault ; and for momentary trifles, and childrens play ; and that it was so easie for them to have gained it, had they remained but in their right senses, and governed themselves according to Reason. And then judge in what a tortured condition they must bee, of remorse and execrating themselves for their most resupine and senselesse madnesse. But if on the other side, a Soule be released out of this Prison of clay and flesh, with affections setled upon intellectual goods as Truth, Knowledge, and the like ; And that it be growne to an irkesome dislike of the flat pleasures of this world ; and looke upon carnall and sensuall objects with a disdainfull eye, as discerning the contemptible inanity in them, that is set off onely by their painted outside ; and above all, that it have a longing desire to bee in the society of that supereminent cause of causes, in which they know are heaped up the Treasures of all beauty, Knowledge, Truth, Delight, and good whatsoever ; and therefore are impatient at the Delay, and reckon all their absence from him as a tedious banishment ; and in that regard hate their life & body as cause of this divorce ; such a Soule I say must necessarily, by reason of the Temper it is wrought into enjoy immediately at the instant of the bodies dissolution and its liberty, more contentment, more joy, more true happinesse, then it is possible for a heart of flesh to have scarce any scantling of, much lesse to comprehend.
For immense knowledge is naturall to it ; as I have touched before. Truth, which is the adæquated and satisfying object of the understanding, is there displayed in her own Colours ; or rather without any.
And that which is the Crown of all, and in respect of which all the rest is nothing ; that infinite entity which above all things this soule thirsteth to bee united unto, can not for his owne goodnesse sake deny his embraces to so affectionate a Creature, and to such an enflamed love. If he should ; then, were that Soule, for being the best, and for loving him most, condemned to be the unhappiest. For what joy could shee have in any thing, were she barred from what she so infinitely loveth? But since the nature of superiour and excellent things is to shower downe their propitious influences wheresoever there is a capacity of receiving them, and no obstacle to keep them out (like the Sun that illuminateth the whole ayre, if no cloud or solid opacous body intervene) it followeth clearely that this infinite Sun of Iustice, this immense Ocean of goodnesse, cannot chuse but environ with his beames, and replenish even beyond satietie with his delightsome waters, a soule so prepared and tempered to receive them.
Now (my Lord) to make use of this discourse and apply it to what begot it ; be pleased to determine which way will deliver us evenest and smoothest to this happie end of our Journey; To bee vertuous for hope of a reward, and through feare of punishment, or to be so, out of a naturall and inward affection to vertue, for vertues and Reasons sake? surely one in this latter condition, not onely doth those things which will bring him to Beatitude; but he is so secured in a manner under an Armour of Proofe, that hee is almost invulnerable ; hee can scarce miscarry, hee hath not so much as an inclination to worke contrarily, the alluring baites of this World, tempt him not ; hee disliketh, hee hateth, even his necessary commerce with them whiles hee liveth. On the other side, the hireling that steereth his course onely by his reward and punishment, doth well I confesse ; but he doth it with reluctance ; he carrieth the Arke, Gods Image, his Soule, safely home, it is true, but hee loweth pitifully after his calves that hee leaveth behind him among the Philistians. In a word he is vertuous, but if hee might safely, hee would doe vitious things. (And hence bee the ground in nature, if so I may say, of our Purgatory) Meethinkes two such mindes may not unfitly be compared to two Maides, whereof one hath a little sprinkling of the green sicknesse,14 and hath more mind to eate ashes, Chalke, or Leather, then meates of solid and good nourishment ; but forbeareth them, knowing the languishing condition of Health it will bring her to : But the other having a ruddy, vigorous and perfect constitution, and enjoying a compleate entire eucrasie, delights in no food but of good nourriture, & loathes the others delights. Her health is discovered in her lookes, and shee is secure from any danger of that Malady, whereas the other, for all her good dyet, beareth in her complexion some sickly testimony of her depraved appetite ; and if she bee not very Wary, shee is in danger of a relapse.
It falleth fit in this place to examine our Authors apprehension of the end of such honest Worthies and Philosophers (as he calleth them) that dyed before Christ his incarnation, whether any of them could be saved or no. Truely (my Lord) I make no doubt at all, but if any followed in the whole Tenor of their lives, the dictamens of right Reason, but that their Iourney was secure to Heaven. Out of the former discourse appeareth what temper of minde is necessary to get thither. And, that Reason would dictate such a temper to a perfectly judicious man (though but in the state of Nature) as the best and most rationall for him, I make no doubt at all. But it is most true ; they are exceeding few, (if any) in whom Reason worketh clearly and is not overswayed by Passion and terrene affections ; they are few that can discerne what is reasonable to be done in every circumstance.
Pauci, quos æquus amavit
Jupiter, aut ardens evexit ad æthera virtus ;
Dis geniti, potuere ; 15
And fewer, that knowing what is best, can win of themselves do accordingly ; (video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor;16 being most mens cases) so that after all that can be expected at the hands of nature and reason in their best habit, since the lapse of them, wee may conclude, it would have beene a most difficult thing for any man, and a most impossible one for mankinde, to attaine unto Beatitude, if Christ had not come to teach, and by his example to shew us the way.
And this was the Reason of his incarnation, teaching life & death : for being God, wee could not doubt his veracity, when he told us newes of the other world ; having all things in his power, and yet enjoying none of the delights of this life, no man should sticke at foregoing them, since his example sheweth all men that such a course is best ; whereas few are capable of the Reason of it : And for his last act, dying in such an afflicted manner, hee taught us how the securest way to step immediately into perfect happinesse, is to be crucified to all the desires, delights, and contentments of this World.
But to come back to our Physician: Truely (my Lord) I must needs pay him as a due the acknowledging his pious discourses to bee excellent and patheticall ones, containing worthy motives, to encite one to vertue and to deterre one from vice : thereby to gaine Heaven, and to avoid Hell. Assuredly he is owner of a solid head and of a strong generous heart. Where hee imployeth his thoughts upon such things as resort to no higher, or more abstruse Principles then such as occurre in ordinary conversation with the world, or in the common tracke of study and learning, I know no man would say better. But when hee meeteth with such difficulties as his next concerning the Resurrection of the body, (wherein after deepe meditation, upon the most abstracted principles, and speculations of the Metaphysickes, one hath much adoe to solve the appearing contradictions in Nature) There, I doe not at all wonder hee should tread a little awry, and goe astray in the darke ; for I conceive his course of life hath not permitted him to allow much time unto the unwinding of such entangled and abstracted subtilties.17 But if it had, I beleeve his naturall parts are such as he might have kept the chaire from most men I know : for even where hee roveth widest, it is with so much wit and sharpenesse, as putteth me in mind of a great mans censure upon Joseph Scaligers Cyclometrica (a matter he was not well versed in) that hee had rather erre so ingeniously as he did, then hit upon Truth in that heavy manner as the Jesuite, his antagonist stuffeth his Bookes. Most assuredly his wit and smartnesse in this discourse is of the finest Standard; and his insight into severer Learning will appeare as piercing unto such as use not strictly the touchstone and the Test to examine every peece of the glittering coine hee payeth his reader with. But to come to the Resurrection. Methinkes it is but a grosse conception to thinke that every Atome of the present individuall matter of a body ; every graine of Ashes of a burned Cadaver, scattered by the wind throughout the world, and after numerous variations changed peradventure into the body of another man ; should at the sounding of the last Trumpet be raked together againe from all the corners of the earth, and be made up anew into the same Body it was before of the first man. Yet if we will be Christians, and rely upon Gods promises, wee must beleeve that we shall rise againe with the same Body, that walked about, did eate, drinke, and live here on earth ; and that we shall see our Saviour and Redeemer with the same, the very same, eyes, wherewith we now look upon the fading Glories of this contemptible world.
How shall these seeming contrarieties bee reconciled? if the latter be true why should not the former be admitted? To explicate this riddle the better, give me leave to aske your Lordship if you now see the Cannons, the Ensignes, the Armes, and other martiall preparations at Oxford, with the same eyes, wherewith many yeares agone you looked upon Porphyries and Aristotles learned leases there? I doubt not but you will answer mee, Assuredly with the very same. Is that noble and Gracefull person of yours, that begetteth both delight and Reverence in every one that looketh upon it? Is that body of yours, that now is growne to such comely and full dimensions, as Nature can give her none more advantagious, the same person, the same body, which your vertuous and excellent Mother bore nine moneths in her chast and honoured wombe, and that your Nurse gave sucke unto? most certainely it is the same. And yet if you consider it well, it cannot bee doubted but that sublunary matter, being in a perpetuall flux, and in bodies which have internall principles of Heate and motion, much continually transpiring out to make roome for the supply of new aliment ; at the length, in long processe of time, all is so changed, as that Ship at Athens may as well bee called the same ship that was there two hundred yeares before, and whereof (by reason of the continuall reparations) not one foote of the Tymber is remaining in her that builded her at the first ; As this Body now, can be called the same it was, forty yeares agone unlesse some higher consideration keepe up the Identity of it. Now what that is, Let us examine, and whether or no, it will reach to our difficulty of the Resurrection. Let us consider then how that which giveth the numerical indviduation to a Body, is the substantiall forme. As long as that remaineth the same, though the matter be in a continuall fluxe and motion, yet the thing is still the same. There is not one droppe of the same water in the Thames that ranne downe by Whitehall yesternight, yet no man will deny, but that it is the same River that was in Queene Elizabeths time, as long as it is supplied from the same Common Stocke, the Sea. Though this example reacheth not home, it illustrateth the thing. If then the forme remaine absolutely the same after separation from the matter, that it was in the matter, (which can happen onely to formes, that subsist by themselves ; as humane Soules) it followeth then, that whensoever it is united to matter againe, (all matter comming out of the same common Magazine) it maketh againe the same man, with the same eyes, and all the same limbes that were formerly. Nay, hee is composed of the same Individuall matter : for it hath the same distinguisher and individuator ; to wit, the same forme, or Soule. Matter considered singly by it selfe, hath no distinction : All matter is in it selfe the same ; we must fansie it, as we doe the indigested Chaos; It is an uniformely wild Ocean. Particularize a few drops of the Sea, by filling a glasse full of them ; then that glasse full is distinguished from all the rest of the watery Bulke: But returne backe those few drops to from whence they were taken, and the Glasse-full that even now had an individuation by it selfe, loseth that, and groweth one and the same with the other maine stocke : Yet if you fill your glasse againe, whersoever you take it up, so it be of the same uniforme Bulke of water you had before, it is the same Glasse-full of water that you had. But as I said before, this example fitteth entirely, no more then the other did. In such abstracted speculations, where we must consider matter without forme (which hath no actuall being) wee must not expect adæquated examples in nature. But enough is said to make a speculative man see, that if God should joyne the Soule of a lately dead man (even whiles his dead corps should lie entire in his winding sheete here) unto a Body made of earth taken from some mountaine in America; it were most true and certaine that the body he should then live by, were the same Identicall body he lived with before his Death and late Resurrection. It is evident that samenesse, thisnesse, and thatnesse, belongeth not to matter by it selfe, (For a generall indifference runneth through it all) but onely as it is distinguished and individuated by the Forme. Which, in our case, whensoever the same Soule doth, it must be understood alwayes to be the same matter and body.
This point thus passed over ; I may piece to it what our Author saith of a Magazine of Subsistent formes residing first in the Chaos, & hereafter (when the world shall have beene destroyed by fire) in the generall heape of Ashes; out of which Gods voyce did, & shall, draw them out & cloath them with matter.18 This language were handsome for a Poet or a Rhetorician to speake. But in a Philosopher, that should ratiocinate strictly and rigorously, I can not admit it, for certainly there are no subsistent forms of Corporeall things : (excepting the Soule of man, which besides being an informing forme, hath another particular consideration belonging to it ; too long to speake of here) But whensoever that compound is destroyed, the forme perisheth with the whole. And for the naturall production of Corporeall things I conceive it to be wrought out by the action and passion of the Elements among themselves ; which introducing new tempers and dispositions, into the bodies where these conflicts passe ; new formes succeed old ones, when the dispositions are raised to such a height as can no longer consist with the preceding forme, and are in the immediate degree to fit the succeeding one, which they usher in. The mystery of all which I have at large unfolded in my above mentioned treatise, of the immortality of the Soule.
I shall say no more to the first part of our Physicians discourse, after I have observed how his consequence is no good one, where hee inferreth that if the Devills foreknew, who would be damned or saved, it would save them the Labor, and end their worke of tempting mankinde to mischiefe and evill. For whatsoever their morall designe, and successe bee in it, their nature impelleth them to be alwaies doing it. For on the one side, it is active in the highest degree (as being pure Acts, that is Spirits,) so on the other side, they are maligne in as great an excesse : By the one they must be alwayes working wheresoever they may worke ; (like water in a vessell full of holes, that will run out of every one of them which is not stopped) By the other, their whole worke must be malicious and mischievous. Ioyning then both these qualities together, it is evident they will alwayes bee tempting mankind, though they know they shall be frustrate of their morall end.
But were it not time that I made an end? Yes, it is more then time. And therefore having once passed the limit that confined what was becoming, the next step carryed mee into the Ocean of Error; which being infinite, and therefore more or lesse bearing no proportion in it ; I will proceed a little further, to take a short survey of his Second part ; And hope for as easie Pardon after this addition to my suddaine and indigested remarkes, as if I had closed them up now.
Methinkes, he beginneth with somewhat an affected discourse to prove his naturall inclination to Charity which vertue is the intended Theame of all the remainder of his discourse. And I doubt he mistaketh the lowest Orbe or Lembe of that high Seraphicke vertue, for the top and perfection of it ; and maketh a kind of humane compassion to bee divine Charity. Hee will have it to bee a generall way of doing good : It is true, he addeth then, for Gods sake ; But hee allayeth that againe, with saying hee will have that good done as by obedience, and to accomplish Gods will ; and looketh at the effects it worketh upon our Soules but in a narrow compasse ; like one in the vulgar throng, that considereth God as a Iudge, & as a rewarder or a punisher. Whereas, perfect Charity, is that vehement love of God for his own sake, for his goodnesse, for his beauty, for his excellency that carrieth all the motions of our Soule directly and violently to him ; and maketh a man disdaine, or rather hate all obstacles that may retard his journey to him. And that face of it that looketh toward mankind with whõ we live, & warmeth us to doe others good, is but like the overflowings of the maine streame, that swelling above its bankes runneth over in a multitude of little Channels.19
I am not satisfyed, that in the likenesse which he putteth between God and Man, hee maketh the difference betweene them, to bee but such as betweene two creatures that resemble one another. For betweene these, there is some proportion ; but between the others, none at all.20 In the examining of which discourse, wherein the Author observeth that no two faces are ever seen to be perfectly alike ; Nay no two Pictures of the same face, were ever exactly made so ; I could take occasion to insert a subtile & delightfull demonstration of Mr. Whites, wherin he sheweth how it is impossible that two bodyes (for example, two Boules) should ever be made exactly like one another ; Nay, not rigorously equall in any one accident, as namely in weight, but that still there will be some little difference, and inequality between them, (the Reason of which observation, our Author medleth not with) were it not that I have beene so long already, as digressions were now very unseasonable.
Shall I commend or censure our Author for beleeving so well of his acquired knowledg as to be dejected at the thought of not being able to leave it a Legacy among his friends? Or shall I examine whether it be not a high injury to wise and gallant Princes, who out of the generousnesse and noblenesse of their Nature doe patronize arts and learned men, to impute their so doing to vanity of desiring praise, or to feare of reproach?
But let these passe : I will not ingage any that may befriend him, in a quarrell against him. But I may safely produce Epictetus to contradict him when he letteth his kindnesse engulfe him in deepe afflictions for a friend : For hee will not allow his wise man to have an inward relenting, a troubled feeling, or compassion of anothers misfortunes. That disordereth the one, without any good to the other. Let him afford all the assistances and relievings in his power ; but without intermingling himselfe in the others Woe. As Angels that doe us good, but have no passion for us. But this Gentlemans kindnesse goeth yet further : Hee compareth his love of a friend to his love of God; the union of friends Soules by affection, to the union of three persons in the Trinity; and to the Hypostaticall union of two natures in one Christ, by the Words Incarnation. Most certainly hee expresseth himselfe to be a right good natur'd man : But if Saint Augustine retracted so severely his patheticall expressions for the death of his friend,21 saying they savoured more of the Rhetoricall declamations of a young Orator, then of the grave confession of a devout Christian, (or somewhat to that purpose) what censure upon himselfe may wee expect of our Physician, if ever hee make any retraction of this discourse concerning his Religion?
It is no small misfortune to him, that after so much time spent, and so many places visited in curious search by travelling after the acquisition of so many languages ; after the wading so deepe in Sciences, as appeareth by the ample Inventory and particular hee maketh of himselfe : The result of all this, should bee to professe ingenuously he had studyed enough, onely to become a Sceptike: and that having runne through all sorts of Learning, hee could finde rest and satisfaction in none.22 This I confesse is the unlucky fate of those that light upon wrong Principles. But Master White teacheth us how the Theorems and demonstrations of Physickes, may be linked & chained together as strongly & as continuedly as they are in the Mathematickes, if men would but apply themselves to a right method of Study. And I doe not finde that Salomon complained of ignorance in the height of knowledge ; (as this Gentleman saith) but onely, that after he hath rather acnkowledged himselfe ignorant of nothing, but that he understood the natures of all Plants from the Cedar to the Hyssop, and was acquainted with all the wayes, and pathes of wisedome and knowledg ; hee exclaimeth that all this is but Toyle, and vexation of Spirit: and therefore adviseth men to change humane Studies into divine contemplations and affections.23
I cannot agree to his Resolution of shutting his Bookes, and giving over the search of knowledge, and resigning himselfe up to ignorance, upon the Reason that moveth him ; as though it were extreame vanity to wast our dayes in the pursuite of that, which by attending but a little longer (till Death hath closed the eyes of our body, to open those of our Soule) wee shall gain with ease, wee shall enjoy by infusion, and is an accessary of our Glorification. It is true, assoone as Death hath played the Midwife to our second birth, our Soule shall then see all truths, more freely then our corporal eyes at our first birth see all bodies and colours, by the naturall power of it (as I have touched already) and not onely upon the grounds our Author giveth. Yet farre be it from us to thinke that time lost which in the meane season we shall laboriously imploy to warme our selves with blowing a few little Sparkes of that glorious fire which we shall afterwards in one instant leape into the middle of, without danger of Scorching. And that for two important Reasons; (besides severall others, too long to mention here) the one, for the great advantage wee have by learning in this life ; the other, for the huge contentment that the acquisition of it here (which implyeth a strong affection to it) will be unto us in the next life. The want of knowledge in our first Mother (which exposed her to bee easily deceived by the Serpents cunning) was the roote of all our ensuing Misery and Woe. It is as true (which wee are taught by irrefragable authority) that Omnis peccans ignorat: And the well-head of all the Calamities and mischiefes in the world, consisteth of the trouble and bitter waters of ignorance, folly and rashnesse ; to cure which, the onely remedy and antidote, is the salt of true Learning, the bitter Wood or Study, painefull meditation, and orderly consideration. I doe not meane such Study, as armeth wrangling Champions for clamorous Schooles, where the ability of Subtile disputing to and fro, is more prised then the retriving of truth ; But such as filleth the mind with solid and usefull notions, and doth not endanger the swelling it up with windy vanities. Besides the sweetest companion and entertainement of a well tempered mind is to converse familiarly with the naked and bewitching beauties of those Mistresses, those Verities, and Sciences, which by faire courting of them, they gaine and enjoy ; & every day bring new fresh ones to their Seraglio; where the ancientest never grow old or stale. Is there any thing so pleasing or so profitable as this?
Nil dulcius est, bene quam munita tenere
Edita doctrinæ sapientum templa serena ;
Despicere unde queas alios, passimq; videre
Errare atque viam palanteis quærere vitæ. 24
But now if we consider the advantage we shall have in the other life by our affection to Sciences, and conversation with them in this, it is wonderfull great. Indeed that affection is so necessary, as without it we shall enjoy little contentment in all the knowledge we shall then bee replenished with : for every ones pleasure in the possession of a good, is to be measured by his precedent Desire of that good ; and by the quality of the tast and relish of him that feedeth upon it. Wee should therefore prepare and make our tast before-hand by assuefaction unto, and by often relishing, what we shall then be nourished with. That Englishman that can drinke nothing but Beere, or Ale, would be ill bestead, were he to goe into Spaine or Italy where nothing but Wine groweth : whereas a well experienced Goinfre25 that can criticise upon the severall tasts of liquors, would thinke his Palate in Paradise among those delicious Nectars, (to use Aretines phrase upon his eating of a Lamprey.) Who was ever delighted with Tobacco the first time he tooke it? & who could willingly be without it, after hee was a while habituated to the use of it? How many examples are there dayly of young men, that marrying upon their fathers command, not through precedent affections of their own, have little comfort in worthy and handsome wives, that others would passionately effect? Archimedes lost his life for being so ravished with the delight of a Mathematicall demonstration, that he could not of a suddaine recall his extasied Spirits to attend the rude Souldiers Summons : But instead of him, whose minde had beene alwayes fed with such subtile Dyet, how many playne Country Gentlemen doth your Lordship and I know, that rate the knowledge of their husbandry at a much higher pitch ; and are extreamely delighted by conversing with that ; whereas the other would be most tedious and importune to them? We may then safely conclude, that if we will joy in the Knowledge wee shall have after Death, we must in our life time raise within our selves, earnest affections to it, and desires of it : which cannot be barren ones ; but will presse upon us to gaine some knowledge by way of advance here ; and the more we attaine unto the more we shall be in Love with what remaineth behind. To this reason then adding the other, how knowledge is the surest proppe, and guide of our present life : and how it perfecteth a man in that which constituteth him a man ; his Reason; and how it enableth him to tread boldly, steadily, constantly, and knowingly in all his wayes : And I am confident, All men that shall heare the case thus debated, will joyne with mee in making it a Suit to our Physitian, that hee will keepe his Bookes open, and continue that Progresse he hath so happily begun.
But I believe your Lordship will scarcely joyne with him in his wish that wee might procreate and beget Children without the helpe of women or without any conjunction or commerce with that sweete, and bewitching Sex. Plato taxed his fellow Philosopher, (though otherwise a learned and brave man) for not sacrificing to the Graces; those gentle female goddesses. What thinketh your Lordship of our Physitians bitter censure of that action which Mahomet maketh the essence of his Paradise? Indeed besides those his unkindnesses, or rather frowardnesses, at that tender-hearted Sex (which must needes take it ill at his hands) me thinketh he setteth marryage at too low a rate, which is assuredly the highest and devinest linke of humane society. And where he speaketh of Cupid, and of Beauty, it is in such a phrase, as putteth mee in mind of the Learned Greeke Reader in Cambridge his courting of his Mistris out of Stephens his Thesaurus.
My next observation upon his discourse draweth me to a Logicall consideration of the nature of an exact Syllogisme: which kind of reflection, though it use to open the doore in the course of Learning and study ; yet it will neere shut it in my discourse ; which my following the thred that my Author spinneth, assigneth to this place. If he had well and throughly considered all that is required to that strict way of managing our Reason, he would not have censured Aristotle for condemning the fourth figure, out of no other motive, but because it was not consonant to his own principles ; that it would not fit with the foundations himself had laid ; though it doe with reason, (saith he) and bee consonant to that ; which indeed it doth not, at all times and in all Circumstances.26 In a perfect Syllogisme the predicate must bee identified with the subject, and each extreame with the middle terme, and so consequently, all three with one another. But in Galens fourth figure the case may so fall out, as these rules will not be current there.
As for the good and excellency that he considereth in the worst things ; and how farre from solitude, any man is in a wildernesse ; These are (in his discourse) but æquivocall considerations of Good, and of Lonelinesse: nor are they any wayes pertinent to the morality of that part where he treateth of them.
I have much adoe to believe what he speaketh confidently : that hee is more beholding to Morpheus for Learned and rationall, as well as pleasing Dreames; then to Mercury for smart and facetious conceptions ; whom Saturne (it seemeth by his relation) hath looked asquint upon in his geniture.
In his concluding Prayer, wherein he summeth up all he wisheth ; me thinketh his arrow is not winged with that fire which I should have expected from him upon this occasion : for it is not the peace of Conscience, nor the bridling up of ones affections, that expresseth the highest delightfulnes and happiest state of a perfect Christian. It is love onely that can give us Heaven upon earth, as well as in Heaven; and bringeth us thither too : so that the Thuscan Virgill had reason to say,27
In alte dolcezze
Non si puo gioir, se non amando.
And this love must be imployed upon the noblest and highest object ; not terminated in our friends. But of this transcendent and divine part of Charity that looketh directly and immediately upon God himselfe ; and that is the intrinsecall forme, the utmost perfection, the scope and finall period of true Religion, (this Gentlemans intended Theame; as I conceive) I have no occasion to speak any thing, since my Author doth but transiently mention it ; and that too, in such a phrase as ordinary Catechismes speake of it to vulgar capacities.
Thus (my Lord) having run through the booke (God knowes how sleightly, upon so great a suddaine) which your Lordship commanded mee to give you an account of, there remaineth yet a weightier taske upon me to performe ; which is to excuse my selfe of presumption for daring to consider any moles in that face which you had marked for a beauty. But who shall well consider my manner of proceeding in these remarkes, will free me from that censure. I offer not at Judging the prudence and wisedome of this discourse : Those are fit enquiries for your Lordships Court of highest appeale ; in my inferiour one, I meddle onely with little knotty peeces of particular Sciences ; (Matinæ apis instar, operosa parvus carmina fingo)28 In which it were peradventure a fault for your Lordship to be too well versed ; your imployments are of a higher and nobler Straine; and that concerne the welfare of millions of men :
Tu regere imperio populos (Sackville) memento
(Hæ tibi erunt artes) pacisque imponere morem.29
Such little Studies as these, belong onely to those persons that are low in the ranke they hold in the Commonwealth, low in their conceptions, and low in a languishing and rusting leisure, such a one as Virgill calleth Ignobile otium,30 and such a one as I am now dulled withall. If Alexander or Cæsar should have commended a tract of Land, as fit to fight a Battaile in for the Empire of the World, or to build a City upon, to be the Magazine and staple of all the adjacent countries ; No body could justly condemne that husbandman, who according to his owne narrow art and rules, should censure the plaines of Arbela, or Pharsalia for being in some places sterile ; or the meadowes about Alexandria, for being sometimes subject to bee overflowen ; or could taxe ought he should say in that kinde for a contradiction unto the others commendations of those places ; which are built upon higher, and larger principles. So (my Lord) I am confident I shall not be reproached of unmannerlinesse for putting in a demurrer unto a few little particularities in that Noble discourse which your Lordship gave a generall applause unto ; And by doing so, I have given your Lordship the best account I can of my selfe, as well as of your Commands. You hereby see what my entertainments are, and how I play away my time,
Dorset dum magnus ad altum
Fulminat Oxonium bello, victorque volentes
Per populos dat jura ; viamq; affectat Olympo.31
May your Counsels there bee happy, and successefull ones to bring about that Peace which if wee bee not quickly blessed withall, a generall ruine threatneth the whole Kingdome. From Winchester house the 22. (I thinke I may say the 23. for I am sure it is morning, and I thinke it is day) of December. 1642.
Your Lordships most humble
and obedient servant,
Ooking over these loose papers to point them, I perceive I have forgotten what I promised in the eight sheet to touch in a word concerning Grace: I doe not conceive it to be a quality, infused by God Almighty into a Soule.
Such kind of discoursing, satisfieth mee no more in Divinity, then in Philosophy. I take it to be the whole complex of such reall motives (as a solid account may be given of them) that incline a man to vertue, and piety ; and are set on foote by Gods particular Grace and favour, to bring that worke to passe. As for example : To a man plunged in Sensuality, some great misfortune happeneth, that mouldeth his heart to a tendernesse, and inclineth him to much thoughtfulnesse ; In this temper, hee meeteth with a Booke, or a Preacher, that representeth lively to him the danger of his owne condition ; and giveth him hopes of greater contentment in other objects, after hee shall have taken leave of his former beloved Sinnes. This begetteth further conversation with prudent and pious men, and experienced Physitians in curing the Soules Maladies; whereby hee is at last perfectly converted and setled in a course of Solid Vertue, and Piety.
Now these accidents of his misfortune, the gentlenesse and softnesse of his nature, his falling upon a good Booke, his encountring with a patheticke Preacher, the impremeditated Chance that brought him to heare his Sermon, his meeting with other worthy men, and the whole concatenation of all the intervening accidents to worke this good effect in him ; and that were ranged and disposed from all Eternity, by Gods particular goodnesse and providence for his Salvation ; and without which hee had inevitably beene damned ; this chaine of causes, ordered by God to produce this effect, I understand to bee Grace.
F I N I S .
1. It should be pointed out that if Browne were a doctor of speculative Divinity or of Metaphysicks rather than of medicine, Religio Medici would not, of course, be Medici: and so would lose much of its interest. This attitude of Digby's, not attractive to modern eyes, underlies a good deal of his more cutting criticism of Religio Medici. (We might also note with some amusement the next paragraph, where Digby mentions that his own proofs are as long as or longer than the whole of Religio Medici, and are unpublished; in the manner of Dean Wren, he refers to this proof throughout the remainder of the Observations.)
2. The chiliasts, that is, not of the primitive church, but of the Reformation: the Anabaptists and so on of the previous (16th) century. Their various doctrines had been vehemently, not to say violently, opposed by Luther and Calvin, and are frequently denied outright in the confessions of the various Protestant sects (most notably and offensively in the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566, as a "Jewish dream"). Some modern Protestant theologians continue to beat what is surely a dead dog with a bundle of very old sticks, presumably because it seems to whelp from time to time.
3. "Actus perspicui": In Rel. Med. Part I, Sect. 10; the obscurity of the phrase is at the heart of Browne's point.
4. Ps. 41:8 : "abyssus [ad] abyssum invocat in voce cataractarum tuarum omnia excelsa tua et fluctus tui super me transierunt" (in the Gallican Psalter version; the Vulgate has "abyssus abyssum vocat" etc.).
5. "Wild fantasy" of trinity in our souls: that is, presumably, the vegetative (as in plants, animals, and men), the sensitive (in animals and men) and the rational (in men alone), all united to form not three but one soul. However valid Digby's general objection, it is scarcely a wild discussion, nor even uncommon; see, for instance, Dante, Purgatorio XXV, rehearsing the argument of Sir Thomas Aquinas against Averroes, and cf. Canto XVIII three thinkers who can scarcely be considered fringe.
6. Browne, of course, says that there is no logicke by which they can be called ugly; Digby pretends to agree and then provides such a logicke one with which Browne would obviously quarrel. The argument in the following paragraphs is equally disdainful (or at best disregardful) of Browne's text, and seems inserted more to push one of Digby's hobby-horses than to respond to Browne; but this is, after all, a letter and not a philosophical treatise. (In general, Digby's philosophy is considerably less interesting than Browne's, although certainly more rigorous and, in the sense of pre-20th-century science, more scientific.)
7. Referring to Rel. Med. Sect. 20: "That villain and Secretary of Hell, that composed that miscreant piece of the three Impostors, though divided from all Religions, and was neither, Jew, Turk, nor Christian, was not a positive Atheist." Browne does not identify the author of the infamous "De tribus Impostoribus". The underlying statement that there are three chief impostors, Christ, Moses and Mohamet dates from at latest the twelfth century; among its supposed originators are Simon Tornacensis, a professor of theology, and Frederick II. The pamphlet bearing the title does not show up until early in the sixteenth century and has been attributed to Aretino, to Boccacio and to William Postel, as well as to "Bernardinus Ochinus". Bernardino Tommasino, usually called Ochino or Occhino from the land of his birth and also Bernardino of Siena (but not the Saint), was not the institutor of the Capucins; he was their second vicar-general. He certainly became a heretic, if Protestants are heretics, fleeing Italy to various Protestant countries and hounded out of each for various reasons, winding up in Calvin's Zurich, from which in turn he was expelled with two weeks' notice at the beginning of winter 1563 for publishing without previous consent his XXX Dialogues, the twenty-first of which concerns polygamy. As was nearly always the case with his works, the anti-Christian side has far the better arguments. (His dialogues that attempt to answer Jewish objections to Christianity, for instance, are usually alleged to be among the strongest such works, but, in fact, a careful reading shows that, at least by logical standards, the Jewish or Old Testament side is stronger. Similarly, in his dialogue about polygamy, the anti-polygamist side is reduced simply to saying that it's wrong and that the would-be polygamist should pray and do whatever God tells him.) Digby's story, from whatever hand he got it, is on its face absurd, but one could see how, speaking symbolically, Bernardino could be said to have turned heretic, then Jew, and finally, with his dialogue on polygamy, Mohametan. In any case, after attempting to find refuge in Nuremberg, Bernardino and his children wound up briefly in Poland, from which he was also eventually driven by, this time and somewhat more reasonably, Catholic enemies. Three of his children died of plague as they journeyed from Poland; and he himself died at the end of the year 1564 at Schlakau. The fourth child, if there was one, is never again heard of. Various stories are told of Bernardino's end, the most widespread (and least likely) that he recanted (Protestantism, presumably) on his deathbed and was murdered by disciples of Calvin. The best on-line story of his life, and one of the best ever published, is in Bayle's Dictionnaire, 3:520--526.
8. Browne says that Ptolomy thought his library incomplete without a copy of the Scriptures (Rel. Med. Part I, sect. 23). He follows this by his own critique of the Koran. He does not say (nor does he imply) that Ptolomy knew the work. Digby was reading a pirated copy of the Religio, however, and it may have been corrupt at this point.
9. The "discourse" (of two sentences) in Rel. Med Sect. 32, amounting to "there may be a universal spirit, as some say, but who cares? I know that there is one spirit...." etc.
10. As reported by Pliny; the story is in Natural History Book 35, 84-85. Referring to Rel. Med. Part I, Sect. 47, but once again showing an imperfect grasp of Browne's discourse indeed, taking what is but an accident or a happy figure for the meat of the argument, and thus turning it neatly on its head.
11. Virg. Aen. VI: 720-721.
12. Virg. Virgil: Georgics II.490 : "Felix, qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas" etc.
13. Virg. Aeneid VI.653-655. ["nitentis", although Servius quotes as "nitentes"]
14. Green-sickness, or chlorosis, an affliction most commonly of pubescent females, marked by anæmia, bulimia, irregular menses, a greenish cast to the skin; the irregular appetites, often for oatmeal, chalk, dirt, and so on, are usually stated to be a result of iron deficiency.
15. Virg. Aeneid VI.129-131.
16. Ovid Metamorphoses VII.20-21. The speaker is Medea.
17. Rel. Med. Sect. 46 (bis). Digby's criticism pays little attention to Browne's text, but the argument an extended petitio principii does illustrate Browne's subliminal point that such speculations by their nature can lead to very little aside from more speculation.
18. Referring to the end of the section noted above. Digby is misreading Browne; Chaos forms a subtheme of the Religio Medici, and the statements about it should be read each in the context of the others; Browne is alluding here, in particular, to his earlier statement about Chaos "wherein notwithstanding to speake strictly, there was no deformity, because no forme, nor was it yet impregnate by the voyce of God" (Sect. 16), and possibly inviting us to compare the Chaos of creation, or before creation, with that of destruction (among other things, implying the "impossibility", if anything is impossible to an omnipotent God, of true destruction: because the chaos after the destruction has implicit forms, while that before had none). (It is further interesting to note that, if we rationcinate strictly and rigorously, there are forms inherent in some matter, most notably, in the context, in amino acids, the "building blocks of life"; presumably it would be possible to reassemble any individual's physical form from his DNA, given the proper techniques. It is, rationcinating strictly, his soul that seems to lack form. Digby himself alludes to this possibility a few sentences later.)
19. Digby's notion of Charity here (whether or not he is aware of it) is strongly informed by an ultra-Protestant theology, which must reconcile any virtue or pretended virtue with the necessity of acknowledging that salvation comes through the grace of God alone, although here it is a straight pipeline the other way. Compare his discussion of Grace in the Postscript.
20. Rel. Med. Part II, Sect. 2; Browne in fact says "And thus is Man like God, for in the same things that wee resemble him, wee are utterly different from him"; it is hardly controvertible that we must resemble Him in some way, if we are made in his image; so that Browne's statement in fact goes farther than Digby's. Probably Digby wanted simply to insert another plug for his favorite Dr. White, whose book is dedicated to Digby.
21. Confessions, Book VII, chapters 4 and on. Augustine also compares his friendship to the relationship with the Holy Ghost. At the time of his friend's death, he was a Manichæan, for what that's worth. His friend had been baptized during his penultimate illness; upon his recovery he and Augustine were not as close as Augustine believed they should be. The story is more complicated and more subtle than Digby's comment would indicate.
22. Rel. Med. Part II sect. 8; the argument is rather against pride in knowledge and scholarship and against security in factual knowledge than against the pursuit of knowledge per se, although Digby's commentary is interesting and thoughtful and no doubt Browne would have agreed with much of it. (Some of it would no doubt have provoked at least quiet mirth, in light of the preceding passages.)
23. Ecclesiastes, passim: vanity, weariness, and vexation of spirit, says the Preacher.
24. Lucretius De rerum natura II, 7-10.
25. "Goinfre": Gourmand. The word is still used in French, although uncommon in English.
26. Rel. Med. Part II, sect. 9. Browne does not censure him; he merely remarks that Aristotle does it. Such, says Browne, is the way of intellectual inquiry: what we hold today as truth can be overturned tomorrow, by the finding of new facts, by new theories, or simply by the creation of a new set of logical rules that will not allow our syllogism to exist.
27. "Thuscan Virgill": G. Battista Guarini ; altered from his Pastore Fido of 1589, Act V, scene viii:
Vo diritto diritto
a trovarmi una sposa,
ché 'n sì alte dolcezze
non si può ben gioir, se non amando.
28. "Matinæ apis instar": after Horace: Odes IV, II:27-32.
29. "Tu regere" etc., Virgil: Aeneid VI: 851-852; "(Sackville)" replaces "Romane".
30. "Ignobile otium": Virg. Georgics IV, 564. Not nearly so humble as it would sound out of context.
31. "Dorest dum magnus" etc.: Virg. Georgics IV, 560-562, with, obviously, local emendations (recalling that this is written during the English civil wars, as alluded to in the previous passage considering Oxford).
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