Boo the Cat. 1987-2002.
|Ancillary Material:||The Browne-Digby Letters||Digby's Observations Upon Religio Medici||Keck's Annotations Upon Religio Medici||Sir Thomas Browne Page|
|Religio Medici:||A note on the text: Read Me||Frontispiece||Errata||Epistle||Part 1||Part 2|
To such as have, or shall per-
use the Observations upon a
former corrupt Copy of
Here are some men that Politian speakes of, Cui quam recta manus, tam fuit & facilis: and it seemes the Authour to the Observations upon this Book would arrogate as much to himselfe; for they were by his owne confeßion, but the conceptions of one night; a hasty birth; and so it proves: For what is really controulable, he generally omitteth; and what is false upon the error of the Copy, he doth not alwaies take notice of; and wherein he would contradict, he mistaketh, or traduceth the intention, and (besides a parenthesis sometimes upon the Authour) onely medleth with those points from whence he takes a hint to deliver his prepar'd conceptions: But the grosse of his Booke is made out by discourses collaterall, and digreßions of his owne, not at all emergent from this Discourse; which is easily perceptible unto the intelligent Reader. Thus much I thought good to let thee understand, without the Authours knowledge, who slighting the refute, hath inforcedly published (as a sufficient confutation) his owne Booke; and in this I shall not make so bold with him, as the Observator hath done with that noble Knight, whose name he hath wrongfully prefixed, as I am informed, to his slight Animadversions; but I leave him to repentance, and thee to thy satisfaction.
Yours, A. B.
Page 13. l. 16. read, that it should, p. 16. l. 12. r. indisposed, p. 33. l. 13. r swerve, but, p. 43. l. 11 for yea, r. yet, p. 50. l. 20. dele great, p. 52. l. 15. r. postulate, p. 60. l. 8. for the, r. that, p. 67, l. 3. r. times present, p. 84. l. 15  for may, r. must, p. 86 l. 6. for a, r. at, l. 8. for but, r. that, p. 89 . l. 11. r. for, p. 106. l. 7. r. suæ, p. 119 l. 23. r. not to, p. 120. l. 8. dele say, p. 123. dele the last line, p. 133. l. 23. r. in the same degree, p. 138. l. 5. r. cannot, p. 146. l. 26 . for in, r. the, p. 149. l. 8. r. his, p. 156. l. 18. r. against reason, l. 25. for too, r. so, p. 157. l. 9. r. or generall, p. 158. l. 10. r. otherwise of my selfe, p. 159. l. 12. r. not, p. 162. l. 17. for all, r. at, p. 163. l. 2. dele not, l. 19. r. coold imagination, p. 170. l. 15. for the, r. there, p. 171. l. 23. for earthly, r. watery, p. 175. l. 23. r. should, p. 176. l. 7. r. unto riches, p. 180. l. 21. r. noble friends, p. 181. l. 5. r. the loves.
To the Reader.
Ertainly that man were greedy of life,K1 who should desire to live when all the world were at an end; and he must needs be very impatient, who would repine at death in the societie of all things that suffer under it. Had not almost every man suffered by the presse; or were not the tyranny thereof become universall; I had not wanted reason for complaint: but in times wherein I have lived to behold the highest perversion of that excellent invention; the name of his Majesty defamed, the honour of Parliament depraved, the writings of both depravedly, anticipatively, counterfeitly imprinted; complaints may seeme ridiculous in private persons, and men of my condition may be as incapable of affronts, as hopelesse of their reparations. And truly had not the duty I owe unto the importunitie of friends, and the allegeance I must ever acknowledge unto truth prevayled with me; the inactivitie of my disposition might have made these sufferings continuall, and time that brings other things to light, should have satisfied me in the remedy of its oblivion. But because things evidently false are not onely printed, but many things of truth most falsly set forth; in this latter I could not but thinke my selfe engaged: for though we have no power to redresse the former, yet in the other the reparation being within our selves, I have at present represented unto the world a full and intended copy of that Peece which was most imperfectly and surreptitiously published before.
This I confesse about seven yeares past, with some others of affinitie thereto, for my private exercise and satisfaction, I had at leisurable houres composed; which being communicated unto one, it became common unto many, and was by transcription succeßively corrupted untill it arrived in a most depraved copy at the presse. He that shall peruse that worke, and shall take notice of sundry particularities and personall expressions therein, will easily discerne the intention was not publik: and being a private exercise directed to my selfe, what is delivered therein was rather a memoriall unto me then an example or rule unto any other: and therefore if there bee any singularitie therein correspondent unto the private conceptions of any man, it doth not advantage them; or if dissentaneous thereunto, it no way overthrowes them. It was penned in such a place and with such disadvantage, that (I protest) from the first setting of pen unto paper, I had not the aßistance of any good booke, whereby to promote my invention or relieve my memory; and therefore there might be many reall lapses therein, which others might take notice of, and more than I suspected my selfe. It was set downe many yeares past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an immutable law unto my advancing judgement at all times, and therefore there might be many things therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, which are not agreeable unto my present selfe. There are many things delivered Rhetorically,K2 many expreßions therein meerely Tropicall, and as they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason. Lastly all that is contained therein is in submißion unto maturer discernments, and as I have declared shall no further father them then the best and learned judgements shall authorize them; under favour of which considerations I have made its secrecie publike and committed the truth thereof to every ingenuous Reader.
R E L I G I O
Or my Religion, though there be severall circumstances that might perswade the world I have none at all, as the generall scandall of my profession,K3 the naturall course of my studies,K4 the indifferency of my behaviour,K5 and discourse in matters of Religion, neither violently defending one, nor with that common ardour and contention opposing another; yet in despight hereof I dare, without usurpation, assume the honorable stile of a Christian: not that I meerely owe this title to the Font,K6 my education, or Clime wherein I was borne, as being bred up either to confirme those principles my Parents instilled into my unwary understanding; or by a generall consent proceed in the Religion of my Countrey: But having, in my riper yeares,K7 and confirmed judgement, seene and examined all, I finde my selfe obliged by the principles of Grace, and the law of mine owne reason, to embrace no other name but this; neither doth herein my zeale so farre make me forget the generall charitie I owe unto humanity, as rather to hate then pity Turkes, Infidels, and (what is worse) Jewes, rather contenting my selfe to enjoy that happy stile, then maligning those who refuse so glorious a title.
But because the name of a Christian is become too generall to expresse our faith, there being a Geography of ReligionsK8 as well as Lands, and every Clime distinguished not onely by their lawes and limits, but circumscribed by their doctrines and rules of Faith; To be particular, I am of that reformed new-cast Religion, wherein I dislike nothing but the name,K9 of the same beliefe our Saviour taught, the Apostles disseminated, the Fathers authorised, and the Martyrs confirmed; but by the sinister ends of Princes, the ambition & avarice of Prelates, and the fatall corruption of times, so decaied, impaired, and fallen from its native beauty, that it required the carefull and charitable hand of these times to restore it to its primitive integrity: Now the accidentall occasion whereon,K10 the slender meanes whereby, the low and abject condition of the person by whom so good a worke was set on foot, which in our adversaries beget contempt and scorn, fills me with wonder, and is the very same objection the insolent Pagans first cast at Christ and his Disciples.
Yet have I not so shaken hands with those desperate Resolutions, who had rather venture at large their decaied bottome, then bring her in to be new trim'd in the dock; who had rather promiscuously retaine all, then abridge any, and obstinately be what they are, then what they have beene, as to stand in diameter and swords point with them: we have reformed from them, not against them;K11 for omitting those improperations and termes of scurrility betwixt us, which onely difference our affections, and not our cause, there is between us one common name and appellation, one faith, and necessary body of principles common to us both; and therefore I am not scrupulous to converse and live with them, to enter their Churches in defect of ours, and either pray with them, or for them: I could never perceive any rationall consequence from those many texts which prohibite the children of Israel to pollute themselves with the Temples of the Heathens; we being all Christians, and not divided by such detested impieties as might prophane our prayers, or the place wherein we make them; or that a resolved conscience may not adore her Creator any where, especially in places devoted to his service; where if their devotions offend him, mine may please him, if theirs prophane it, mine may hallow it; Holy water and Crucifix (dangerous to the common people) deceive not my judgement, nor abuse my devotion at all: I am, I confesse, naturally inclined to that, which misguided zeale termes superstition; my common conversation I do acknowledge austere, my behaviour full of rigour, sometimes not without morosity; yet at my devotion I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and hand, with all those outward and sensible motions, which may expresse, or promote my invisible devotion. I should violate my owne arme rather then a Church, nor willingly deface the memory of Saint or Martyr. At the sight of a Crosse or Crucifix I can dispence with my hat, but scarce with the thought or memory of my Saviour; I cannot laugh at but rather pity the fruitlesse journeys of Pilgrims, or contemne the miserable condition of Friers; for though misplaced in circumstance, there is something in it of devotion: I could never heard the *Ave Marie Bell without an elevation, or thinke it a sufficient warrant, because they erred in one circumstance, for me to erre in all, that is in silence and dumbe contempt; whilst therefore they directed their devotions to her, I offered mine to God, and rectified the errours of their prayers by rightly ordering mine owne; At a solemne Procession I have wept abundantly, while my consorts, blinde with opposition and prejudice, have fallen into an accesse of scorne and laughter: There are questionlesse both in Greek, Roman, and African Churches, solemnities, and ceremonies, whereof the wiser zeales doe make a Christian use, and stand condemned by us; not as evill in themselves, but as allurements and baits of superstition to those vulgar heads that looke asquint on the face of truth, and those unstable judgements that cannot consist in the narrow point and centre of vertue without a reele or stagger to the circumference.
* A Church Bell that tolls every day at 6. and 12. of the Clocke, at the hearing whereof every one in what place soever either of house or street betakes him to his prayer, which is commonly directed to the Virgin.
As there were many Reformers, so likewise many reformations; every Countrey proceeding in a particular way and Method, according as their nationall interest together with their constitution and clime inclined them, some angrily and with extremitie, others calmely, and with mediocrity, not rending, but easily dividing the community, and leaving an honest possibility of a reconciliation, which though peaceable Spirits doe desire, and may conceive that revolution of time, and the mercies of God may effect; yet that judgement that shall consider the present antipathies between the two extreames, their contrarieties in condition, affection and opinion, may with the same hopes expect an union in the poles of Heaven.
But to difference my self neerer, & draw into a lesser circle: There is no Church whose every part so squares unto my conscience, whose articles, constitutions, and customes seeme so consonant unto reason, and as it were framed to my particular devotion, as this whereof I hold my beliefe, the Church of England, to whose faith I am a sworne subject, and therefore in a double obligation, subscribe unto her Articles, and endeavour to observe her Constitutions: whatsoever is beyond, as points indifferent, I observe according to the rules of my private reason, or the humor and fashion of my devotion, neither believing this, because Luther affirmed it, or disproving that, because Calvin hath disavouched it. I condemne not all things in the Councell of Trent, nor approve all in the Synod of Dort. In briefe, where the Scripture is silent, the Church is my Text; where that speakes, 'tis but my Comment; where there is a joynt silence of both, I borrow not the rules of my Religion from Rome or Geneva, but the dictates of my own reason. It is an unjust scandall of our adversaries, and a gross error in our selves, to compute the Nativity of our Religion from Henry the eight, who though he rejected the Pope, refus'd not the faith of Rome,K12 and effected no more then what his owne Predecessors desired and assayed in ages past, and was conceived the State of Venice would have attempted in our dayes.K13 It is as uncharitable a point in us to fall upon those popular scurrilities and opprobrious scoffes of the Bishop of Rome, whom as a temporall Prince, we owe the duty of good language; I confesse there is cause of passion betweene us; by his sentence I stand excommunicated, Heretick is the best language he affords me; yet can no eare witnesse I ever returned to him the name of Antichrist, Man of sin, or whore of Babylon; It is the method of charity to suffer without reaction: those usuall Satyrs, and invectives of the Pulpit may perchance produce a good effect on the vulgar, whose eares are opener to Rhetorick then Logick, yet doe they in no wise confirme the faith of wiser beleevers, who know that a good cause needs not to be patron'd by a passion, but can sustaine it selfe upon a temperate dispute.
I could never divide my selfe from any man upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his judgement for not agreeing with mee in that, from which perhaps within a few dayes I should dissent my selfe:K14 I have no Genius to disputes in Religion, and have often thought it wisedome to decline them, especially upon a disadvantage, or when the cause of truth might suffer in the weakenesse of my patronage: where wee desire to be informed, 'tis good to contest with men above our selves; but to confirme and establish our opinions, 'tis best to argue with judgements below our own, that the frequent spoyles and victories over their reasons may settle in our selves an esteeme, and confirmed opinion of our owne. Every man is not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gantlet in the cause of Veritie:K15 Many from the ignorance of these Maximes, and an inconsiderate zeale unto Truth, have too rashly charged the troopes of error, and remaine as Trophees unto the enemies of Truth: A man may be in as just possession of Truth as of a City, and yet bee forced to surrender: tis therefore farre better to enjoy her with peace, then to hazzard her on a battell: If therefore there rise any doubts in my way, I doe forget them, or at least defer them, till my better setled judgement, and more manly reason be able to resolve them; for I perceive every mans owne reason is his best Oedipus, and will upon a reasonable truce, find a way to loose those bonds wherewith the subtilties of errour have enchained our more flexible and tender judgements. In Philosophy where truth seemes double-faced, there is no man more paradoxicall then my self; but in Divinity I love to keepe the road,K16 and though not in an implicite, yet an humble faith, follow the great wheele of the Church, by which I move, not reserving any proper poles or motion from the epicycle of my own braine; by this meanes I leave no gap for Heresies, Schismes, or Errors, of which at present, I hope I shall not injure Truth, to say, I have no taint or tincture; I must confesse my greener studies have beene polluted with two or three, not any begotten in the latter Centuries, but old and obsolete, such as could never have been revived, but by such extravagant and irregular heads as mine; for indeed Heresies perish not with their Authors, but like the River Arethusa, though they lose their currents in one place, they rise up againe in another:K17 one generall Councell is not able to extirpate one single Heresie, it may be canceld for the present, but revolution of time and the like aspects from Heaven, will restore it, when it will flourish till it be condemned againe; for as though there were a Metempsuchosis, and the soule of one man passed into another, opinions doe finde after certaine revolutions, men and mindes like those that first begat them. To see our selves againe wee neede not looke for Platoes *yeare; every man is not onely himselfe; there have beene many Diogenes, and as many Timons, though but few of that name; men are lived over againe, the world is now as it was in ages past, there was none then, but there hath been some one since that parallels him, and is as it were his revived selfe.
* A revolution of certaine thousand yeares when all things should returne unto their former estate and he be teaching againe in his schoole as when he delivered this opinion.
Now the first of mine was that of the Arabians,K18 that the soules of men perished with their bodies, but should yet bee raised againe at the last day; not that I did absolutely conceive a mortality of the soule; but if that were, wch faith, not Philosophy hath yet thoroughly disproved, and that both entred the grave together, yet I held the same conceit thereof that wee all doe of the body, that it should rise againe. Surely it is but the merits of our unworthy natures, if wee sleepe in darkenesse, untill the last alarum: A serious reflex upon my owne unworthinesse did make me backward from challenging this prerogative of my soule; so I might enjoy my Saviour at the last, I could with patience be nothing almost unto eternity. The second was that of Origen, that God would not persist in his vengeance for ever, but after a definite time of his wrath hee would release the damned soules from torture;K19 Which error I fell into upon a serious contemplation of the great attribute of God his mercy, and did a little cherish it in my selfe, because I found therein no malice, and a ready weight to sway me from the other extream of despaire, wherunto melancholy and contemplative natures are too easily disposed. A third there is wch I did never positively maintaine or practice, but have often wished it had been consonant unto Truth, and not offensive to my Religion, and that is the prayer for the dead; whereunto I was inclined from some charitable inducements, whereby I could scarce containe my prayers for a friend at the ringing of a Bell, or behold his corpes without an oraison for his soule: 'Twas a good way me thought to be remembred by Posterity, and farre more noble then an History. These opinions I never maintained with pertinacity, or endeavoured to enveagle any mans beliefe unto mine, nor so much as ever revealed or disputed them with my dearest friends; by which meanes I neither propagated them in others, nor confirmed them in my selfe, but suffering them to flame upon their own substance, without addition of new fuell, they went out insensibly of themselves; therefore these opinions, though condemned by lawfull Councels, were not Heresies in me,K20 but bare Errors, and single Lapses of my understanding, without a joynt depravity of my will: Those have not only depraved understandings but diseased affections, which cannot enjoy a singularity without a Heresie, or be the author of an opinion, without they be of a Sect also; this was the villany of the first Schisme of Lucifer, who was not content to erre alone, but drew into his faction many Legions of Spirits; and upon this experience hee tempted only Eve, as well understanding the communicable nature of sin, and that to deceive but one, was tacitely and upon consequence to delude them both.
That Heresies should arise we have the1 prophecy of Christ, but that old ones should be abolished wee hold no prediction. That there must be heresies, is true, not onely in our Church, but also in any other: even in Doctrines hereticall there will be super-heresies, and Arians not onely divided from their Church, but also among themselves: for heads that are disposed unto Schisme and complexionally propense to innovation, are naturally indisposed for a community, nor will ever be confined unto the order or oeconomy of one body; and therefore when they separate from others they knit but loosely among themselves; nor contented with a generall breach or dichotomie with their Church, do subdivide and mince themselves almost into Atomes. 'Tis true, that men of singular parts and humors have not beene free from singular opinions and conceits in all ages; retaining something not onely beside the opinion of his own Church or any other, but also any particular Author: which notwithstanding a sober judgement may doe without offence or heresie; for there is yet after all the decrees of counsells and the niceties of the Schooles, many things untouch'd, unimagin'd, wherein the libertie of an honest reason may play and expatiate with security and farre without the circle of an heresie.
As for those wingy mysteries in Divinity, and ayery subtilties in Religion, which have unhindg'd the braines of better heads, they never stretched the Pia Mater of mine; me thinkes there be not impossibilities enough in Religion for an active faith; the deepest mysteries ours containes, have not only been illustrated, but maintained by syllogisme, and the rule of reason:K21 I love to lose my selfe in a mystery to pursue my reason to an oh altitudo. 'Tis my solitary recreation to pose my apprehension with those involved ænigma's and riddles of the Trinity, with Incarnation and Resurrection. I can answer all the objections of Satan, and my rebellious reason, with that odde resolution I learned of Tertullian, Certum est quia impoßibile est. I desire to exercise my faith in the difficultest point, for to credit ordinary and visible objects is not faith, but perswasion. Some beleeve the better for seeing Christ his Sepulchre, and when they have seene the Red Sea, doubt not of the miracle.K22 Now contrarily I blesse my selfe, and am thankefull that I lived not in the dayes of miracles, that I never saw Christ nor his Disciples; I would not have beene one of those Israelites that passed the Red Sea, nor one of Christs Patients, on whom he wrought his wonders; then had my faith beene thrust upon me, nor should I enjoy that greater blessing pronounced to all that believe & saw not. 'Tis an easie and necessary beliefe to credit what our eye and sense hath examined: I believe he was dead, and buried, and rose againe; and desire to see him in his glory, rather then to contemplate him in his Cenotaphe, or Sepulchre. Nor is this much to beleeve, as we have reason, we owe this faith unto History: they only had the advantage of a bold and noble faith, who lived before his comming, who upon obscure prophesies and mysticall Types could raise a beliefe, and expect apparent impossibilities.
'Tis true, there is an edge in all firme beliefe, and with an easie Metaphor wee may say the sword of faith; but in these obscurities I rather use it, in the adjunct the Apostle gives it, a Buckler; under which I perceive a wary combatant may lie invulnerable. Since I was of understanding to know we knew nothing, my reason hath beene more pliable to the will of faith; I am now content to understand a mystery without a rigid definition in an easie and Platonick description. That allegoricall description of Hermes,* pleaseth mee beyond all the Metaphysicall definitions of Divines; where I cannot satisfie my reason, I love to humour my fancy; I had as leive you tell me that anima est angelus hominis, est Corpus Dei, as Entelechia; Lux est umbra Dei, as actus perspicui:K23 where there is an obscurity too deepe for our reason, 'tis good to set downe with a description, periphrasis, or adumbration; for by acquainting our reason how unable it is to display the visible and obvious effect of nature, it becomes more humble and submissive unto the subtilties of faith: and thus I teach my haggard and unreclaimed reason to stoope unto the lure of faith. I believe there was already a tree whose fruit our unhappy parents tasted, though in the same Chapter, when God forbids it, 'tis positively said, the plants of the field were not yet growne; for God had not caused it to raine upon the Earth.K24 I beleeve that the Serpent (if we shall literally understand it) from his proper forme and figure, made his motion on his belly before the curse.K25 I find the triall of the Pucellage and Virginity of women, which God ordained the Jewes, is very fallible.K26 Experience, and History informes me, that not onely many particular women, but likewise whole Nations have escaped the curse of childbirth, which God seemes to pronounce upon the whole Sex;K27 yet doe I beleeve that all this is true, which indeed my reason would perswade me to be false; and this I think is no vulgar part of faith to believe a thing not only above, but contrary to reason, and against the arguments of our proper senses.
* Sphæra, cujus centrum ubique, circumferentia nullibi.
In my solitary and retired imagination, (Neque enim cum porticus aut me lectulus accepit, desum mihi) I remember I am not alone, and therefore forget not to contemplate him and his attributes who is ever with mee, especially those two mighty ones, his wisedome and eternitie; with the one I recreate, with the other I confound my understanding: for who can speake of eternitie without a soloecisme, or thinke thereof without an extasie?K28 Time we may comprehend, 'tis but five days elder then our selves, and hath the same Horoscope with the world; but to retire so farre backe as to apprehend a beginning, to give such an infinite start forward, as to conceive an end in an essence that wee affirme hath neither the one nor the other; it puts my reason to Saint Pauls Sanctuary; my Philosophy dares not say the Angells can doe it; God hath not made a creature that can comprehend him, 'tis the priviledge of his owne nature; I am that I am, was his owne definition unto Moses; and 'twas a short one, to confound mortalitie, that durst question God, or aske him what hee was; indeed he only is,K29 all others have and shall be, but in eternity there is no distinction of Tenses; and therefore that terrible terme Predestination, which hath troubled so many weake heads to conceive, and the wisest to explaine, is in respect to God no prescious determination of our estates to come, but a definitive blast of his will already fulfilled, and at the instant that he first decreed it; for to his eternitie which is indivisible, and altogether, the last Trumpe is already sounded, the reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in Abrahams bosome. Saint Peter speakes modestly, when hee saith, a thousand yeares to God are but as one day: for to speake like a Philosopher, those continued instances of time which flow into thousand yeares, make not to him one moment; what to us is to come, to his Eternitie is present, his whole duration being but one permanent point without succession, parts, flux, or division.
There is no Attribute that adds more difficulty to the mystery of the Trinity, where though in a relative way of Father and Son, we must deny a priority. I wonder how Aristotle could conceive the world eternall, or how hee could make good two Eternities:K30 his similitude of a Triangle, comprehended in a square, doth somewhat illustrate the Trinitie of our soules, and that the Triple Unity of God; for there is in us not three, but a Trinity of soules,K31 because there is in us, if not three distinct soules, yet differing faculties, that can, and doe subsist apart in different subjects, and yet in us are so united as to make but one soule and substance; if one soule were so perfect as to informe three distinct bodies, that were a petty Trinity: conceive the distinct number of three, not divided nor separated by the intellect, but actually comprehended in its Unity, and that is a perfect Trinity. I have often admired the mysticall way of Pythagoras, and the secret Magicke of numbers; Beware of Philosophy, is a precept not to be received in too large a sense; for in this masse of nature there is a set of things that carry in their front, though not in capitall letters, yet in stenography, and short Characters, something of Divinitie, which to wiser reasons serve as Luminaries in the abysse of knowledge, and to judicious beliefes, as scales and roundles to mount the pinnacles and highest pieces of Divinity. The severe Schooles shall never laugh me out of the Philosophy of Hermes, that this visible world is but a picture of the invisible, wherein as in a pourtract, things are not truely, but in equivocall shapes; and as they counterfeit some more reall substance in that invisible fabrick.
That other attribute wherewith I recreate my devotion, is his wisedome, in which I am happy; and for the contemplation of this onely, do not repent me that I was bred in the way of study: The advantage I have of the vulgar, with the content and happinesse I conceive therein, is an ample recompence for all my endeavours, in what part of knowledg soever. Wisedome is his most beauteous attribute, no man can attaine unto it, yet Solomon pleased God when hee desired it. Hee is wise because hee knowes all things, and hee knoweth all things because he made them all, but his greatest knowledg is in comprehending that he made not, that is himselfe. And this is also the greatest knowledge in man. For this do I honour my own profession and embrace the counsell even of the Devill himselfe: had he read such a Lecture in Paradise as hee did at *Delphos, we had better knowne our selves, nor had we stood in feare to know him. I know he is wise in all, wonderfull in what we conceive, but far more in what we comprehend not, for we behold him but asquint upon reflex or shadow; our understanding is dimmer than Moses eye, we are ignorant of the backparts, or lower side of his Divinity; therefore to pry into the maze of his Counsels, is not onely folly in Man, but presumption even in Angels; like us, they are his servants, not his Senators; he holds no Councell, but that mysticall one of the Trinity, wherein though there be three persons, there is but one minde that decrees, without contradiction; nor needs he any, his actions are not begot with deliberation, his wisedome naturally knowes what's best; his intellect stands ready fraught with the superlative and purest Idea's of goodnesse; consultation and election, which are two motions in us, make but one in him; his actions springing from his power, at the first touch of his will. These are Contemplations Metaphysicall, my humble speculations have another Method, and are content to trace and discover those expressions hee hath left in his creatures, and the obvious effects of nature; there is no danger to profound these mysteries, no Sanctum sanctorum in Philosophy: The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man: 'tis the debt of our reason wee owe unto God, and the homage wee pay for not being beasts; without this the world is still as though it had not been, or as it was before the sixt day when as yet there was not a creature that could conceive, or say there was a world. The wisedome of God receives small honour from those vulgar heads, that rudely stare about, and with a grosse rusticity admire his workes; those highly magnifie him whose judicious enquiry into his acts, and deliberate research into his creatures, returne the duty of a devout and learned admiration.
Search while thou wilt, and let thy reason goe
To ransome truth even to the Abysse below.
Rally the scattered causes, and that line
Which nature twists be able to untwine.
It is thy Makers will, for unto none
But unto reason can he ere be knowne.
The Devills doe know thee, but those damned meteours
Build not thy glory, but confound thy creatures.
Teach my endeavours so thy workes to read,
That learning them, in thee I may proceed.
Give thou my reason that instructive flight,
Whose weary wings may on thy hands still light.
Teach me to soare aloft, yet ever so,
When neare the Sunne, to stoope againe below.
Thus shall my humble feathers safely hover,
And though neere earth, more then the heavens discover.
And then at last, when holmeward I shall drive
Rich with the spoyles of nature to my hive,
There will I sit, like that industrious flye,
Buzzing thy prayses, which shall never die
Till death abrupts them, and succeeding glory
Bid me goe on in a more lasting story.
And this is almost all wherein an humble creature may endeavour to requite, and someway to retribute unto his Creator; for if not he that sayeth Lord, Lord; but he that doth the will of the Father shall be saved; certainely our wills must bee our performances, and our intents make out our actions; otherwise our pious labours shall finde anxiety in their graves, and our best endeavours not hope, but feare a resurrection.
* gnwqi seauton, nosce teipsum
There is but one first cause, and foure second causes of all things;K32 some are without efficient, as God, others without matter, as Angels, some without forme, as the first matter, but every Essence, created or uncreated, hath its finall cause, and some positive end both of its Essence and operation; This is the cause I grope after in the workes of nature, on this hangs the providence of God; to raise so beauteous a structure, as the world and the creatures thereof, was but his Art, but their sundry and divided operations with their predestinated ends, are from the treasury of his wisedome. In the causes, nature, and affections of the Eclipse of Sunne and Moone, there is most excellent speculation; but to profound farther, and to contemplate a reason why his providence hath so disposed and ordered their motions in that vast circle, as to conjoyne and obscure each other, is a sweeter piece of reason, and a diviner point of Philosophy; therefore sometimes, and in some things there appeares to mee as much divinity in Galen his Books De usu partium, as in Suarez Metaphysicks: Had Aristotle beene as curious in the enquiry of this cause as he was of the other, hee had not left behinde him an imperfect piece of Philosophy, but an absolute tract of Divinity.
Natura nihil agit frustra, is the onely indisputable axiome in Philosophy; there are no Grotesques in nature;K33 nor any thing framed to fill up empty cantons, and unnecessary spaces, in the most imperfect creatures, and such as were not preserved in the Arke, but having their seeds and principles in the wombe of nature, are every-where where the power of the Sun is; in these is the wisedome of his hand discovered: Out of this ranke Solomon chose the object of his admiration, indeed what reason may not goe to Schoole to the wisedome of Bees, Aunts, and Spiders? what wise hand teacheth them to doe what reason cannot teach us? ruder heads stand amazed at those prodigious pieces of nature, Whales, Elephants, Dromidaries, and Camels; these I confesse, are the Colossus and Majestick pieces of her hand; but in these narrow Engines there is more curious Mathematicks, and the civilitie of these little Citizens, more neatly set forth the wisedome of their Maker; Who admires not Regio-Montanus his Fly beyond his Eagle,K34 or wonders not more at the operation of two soules in those little bodies, than but one in the trunck of a Cedar?K35 I could never content my contemplation with those generall pieces of wonders, the flux and reflux of the sea, the encrease of Nile, the conversion of the Needle to the North, and have studied to match and parallel those in the more obvious and neglected pieces of Nature, which without further travell I can doe in the Cosmography of my selfe; wee carry with us the wonders, we seeke without us:K36 There is all Africa, and her prodigies in us; we are that bold and adventurous piece of nature, which he that studies, wisely learnes in a compendium, what others labour at in a divided piece and endlesse volume.
Thus there are two bookes from whence I collect my Divinity; besides that written one of God, another of his servant Nature, that universall and publik Manuscript, that lies expans'd unto the eyes of all;K37 those that never saw him in the one, have discovered him in the other: This was the Scripture and Theology of the Heathens; the naturall motion of the Sun made them more admire him, than its supernaturall station did the Children of Israel; the ordinary effect of nature wrought more admiration in them, than in the other all his miracles; surely the Heathens knew better how to joyne and reade these mysticall letters, than wee Christians, who cast a more carelesse eye on these common Hieroglyphicks, and disdain to suck Divinity from the flowers of nature. Nor do I so forget God, as to adore the name of Nature; which I define not with the Schooles, the principle of motion and rest, but, that streight and regular line, that setled and constant course the wisedome of God hath ordained the actions of his creatures, according to their severall kinds. To make a revolution every day is the nature of the Sun, because that necessary course which God hath ordained it, from which it cannot swerve, but by a faculty from that voyce which first did give it motion. Now this course of Nature God seldome alters or perverts, but like an excellent Artist hath so contrived his worke, that with the selfe same instrument, without a new creation hee may effect his obscurest designes. Thus he sweetneth the water with a wood, preserveth the creatures in the Arke, which the blast of his mouth might have as easily created: for God is like a skillful Geometrician, who when more easily, and with one stroke of his Compasse, he might describe, or divide a right line, had yet rather doe this in a circle or longer way, according to the constituted and forelaid principles of his art: yet this rule of his hee doth sometimes pervert, to acquaint the world with his prerogative, lest the arrogancy of our reason should question his power, and conclude he could not; & thus I call the effects of nature the works of God, whose hand & instrument she only is; and therefore to ascribe his actions unto her, is to devolve the honor of the principall agent, upon the instrument; which if with reason we may doe, then let our hammers rise up and boast they have built our houses, and our pens receive the honour of our writings. I hold there is a generall beauty in the works of God, and therefore no deformity in any kind or species of creature whatsoever: I cannot tell by what Logick we call a Toad, a Beare, or an Elephant, ugly, they being created in those outward shapes and figures which best expresse the actions of their inward formes. And having past that generall visitation of God, who saw that all that he had made was good, that is, conformable to his will, which abhors deformity, and is the rule of order and beauty; there is no deformity but in monstrosity, wherein notwithstanding there is a kind of beauty, Nature so ingeniously contriving the irregular parts, as they become sometimes more remarkable than the principall Fabrick. To speake yet more narrowly, there was never any thing ugly, or mis-shapen, but the Chaos; wherein notwithstanding to speake strictly, there was no deformity, because no forme, nor was it yet impregnate by the voyce of God: Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both the servants of his providence: Art is the perfection of Nature: Were the world now as it was the sixt day, there were yet a Chaos: Nature hath made one world, and Art another. In briefe, all things are artificiall, for nature is the Art of God.K38
This is the ordinary and open way of his providence, which art and industry have in a good part discovered, whose effects wee may foretell without an Oracle; To foreshew these is not Prophesie, but Prognostication. There is another way full of Meanders and Labyrinths, whereof the Devill and Spirits have no exact Ephemerides, and that is a more particular and obscure method of his providence, directing the operations of individualls and single Essences;K39 this we call Fortune, that serpentine and crooked line, whereby he drawes those actions his wisedome intends in a more unknowne and secret way; This cryptick and involved method of his providence have I ever admired, nor can I relate the history of my life, the occurrences of my dayes, the escapes of dangers, and hits of chance with a Bezo las Manos, to Fortune, or a bare Gramercy to my good starres: Abraham might have thought the Ram in the thicket came thither by accident; humane reason would have said that meere chance conveyed Moses in the Arke to the sight of Pharaohs daughter; what a Labyrinth is there in the story of Joseph, able to convert a Stoick? Surely there are in every mans life certaine rubs, doublings and wrenches which passe a while under the effects of chance, but at the last, well examined, prove the meere hand of God: 'Twas not dumbe chance, that to discover the Fougade or Powder plot, contrived a miscarriage in the letter. I like the victory of 88. the better for that one occurrence which our enemies imputed to our dishonour, and the partiality of Fortune, to wit, the tempests, and contrarietie of winds. King Philip did not detract from the Nation, when he said, he sent his Armado to fight with men, and not to combate with the winds. Where there is a manifest disproportion between the powers and forces of two severall agents, upon a maxime of reason wee may promise the victory to the superiour; but when unexpected accidents slip in, and unthought of occurrences intervene, these must proceed from a power that owes no obedience to those axioms: where, as in the writing upon the wall, we behold the hand, but see not the spring that moves it. The successe of that pety Province of Holland (of which the Grand Seignieur proudly said, That if they should trouble him as they did the Spaniard, hee would send his men with shovels and pick-axes and throw it into the Sea) I cannot altogether ascribe to the ingenuity and industry of the people, but to the mercy of God, that hath disposed them to such a thriving Genius; and to the will of his providence, that disposeth her favour to each Countrey in their preordinate season. All cannot be happy at once, for because the glory of one State depends upon the ruine of another,K40 there is a revolution and vicissitude of their greatnesse, and must obey the swing of that wheele, not moved by intelligences, but by the hand of God, whereby all Estates arise to their Zenith and verticall points, according to their predestinated periods. For the lives not onely of men, but of Commonweales, and the whole world, run not upon an Helix that still enlargeth, but on a Circle, where arriving to their Meridian, they decline in obscurity, and fall under the Horizon againe.
These must not therefore bee named the effects of fortune, but in a relative way, and as we terme the workes of nature. It was the ignorance of mans reason that begat this very name, and by a carelesse terme miscalled the providence of God: for there is no liberty for causes to operate in a loose and stragling way, nor any effect whatsoever, but hath its warrant from some universall or superiour cause. 'Tis not a ridiculous devotion, to say a Prayer before a game at Tables; for even in sortilegies and matters of greatest uncertainty, there is a setled and preordered course of effects; 'tis we that are blind, not fortune: because our eye is too dim to discover the mystery of her effects, we foolishly paint her blind, & hoodwink the providence of the Almighty. I cannot justifie that contemptible Proverb, That fooles onely are fortunate; or that insolent Paradox, That a wise man is out of the reach of fortune; much lesse those opprobrious Epithets of Poets, Whore, Baud, and Strumpet: 'Tis I confesse the common fate of men of singular gifts of mind, to be destitute of those of fortune;K41 which doth not any way deject the spirit of wiser judgements, who throughly understand the justice of this proceeding; and being enriched with higher donatives, cast a more carelesse eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. 'Tis a most unjust ambition, to desire to engrosse the mercies of the Almighty, nor to be content with the goods of mind, without a possession of those of body or fortune: and 'tis an errour worse than heresie, to adore these cõplementall & circumstantiall pieces of felicity, and undervalue those perfections and essentiall points of happinesse, wherin we resemble our Maker. To wiser desires 'tis satisfaction enough to deserve, though not to enjoy the favours of fortune; let providence provide for fooles: 'tis not partiality, but equity in God, who deales with us but as our naturall parents; those that are able of body and mind, he leaves to their deserts; to those of weaker merits hee imparts a larger portion, and pieces out the defect of one by the excesse of the other. Thus have wee no just quarrell with Nature, for leaving us naked, or to envie the hornes, hoofs, skins, and furs of other creatures, being provided with reason, that can supply them all. Wee need not labour with so many arguments to confute judiciall Astrology;K42 for if there be a truth therein, it doth not injure Divinity; if to be born under Mercury disposeth us to be witty, under Iupiter to be wealthy, I doe not owe a knee unto these, but unto that mercifull hand that hath ordered my indifferent and uncertaine nativity unto such benevolous aspects. Those that hold that all things were governed by fortune had not erred, had they not persisted there: The Romans that erected a Temple to Fortune, acknowledged therein, though in a blinder way, somewhat of Divinity; for in a wise supputation all things begin and end in the Almighty. There is a neerer way to heaven than Homers chaine; an easie Logick may conjoyne heaven and earth in one argument, and with lesse than a Sorites resolve all things into God. For though wee Christen effects by their most sensible and nearest causes, yet is God the true and infallible cause of all, whose concourse though it be generall, yet doth it subdivide it selfe into the particular actions of every thing, and is that spirit, by which each singular essence not onely subsists, but performes its operation.
The bad construction and perverse comment on these paire of second causes, or visible hands of God, have perverted the devotion of many unto Atheisme; who forgetting the honest advisoes of faith, have listened unto the conspiracie of Passion and Reason. I have therefore alwayes endeavoured to compose those fewds and angry dissentions between affection, faith, and reason: For there is in our soule a kind of Triumvirate, or Triple government of three competitors, which distract the peace of this our Common-wealth, not lesse than did that other the State of Rome.K43
As Reason is a rebell unto Faith, so passion unto Reason: As the propositions of Faith seeme absurd unto Reason, so the Theorems of Reason unto passion, and both unto Reason; yet a moderate and peaceable discretion may so state and order the matter, that they may bee all Kings, and yet make but one Monarchy, every one exercising his Soveraignty and Prerogative in a due time and place, according to the restraint and limit of circumstance. There is, as in Philosophy, so in Divinity, sturdy doubts, and boysterous objections, wherewith the unhappinesse of our knowledge too neerely acquainteth us. More of these no man hath knowne than my selfe, which I confesse I conquered, not in a martiall posture, but on my knees. For our endeavours are not onely to combate with doubts, but alwayes to dispute with the Devill; the villany of that spirit takes a hint of infidelity from our Studies, and by demonstrating a naturality in one way, makes us mistrust a miracle in another. Thus having perus'd the Archidoxis and read the secret Sympathies of things, he would disswade my beliefe from the miracle of the Brazen Serpent,K44 make me conceit that image work'd by Sympathie, and was but an Ægyptian tricke to cure their diseases without a miracle. Againe, having seene some experiments of Bitumen, and having read farre more of Naptha, he whispered to my curiositie the fire of the Altar might be naturall, and bid me mistrust a miracle in Elias when he entrench'd the Altar round with water;K45 for that inflamable substance yeelds not easily unto water, but flames in the armes of its Antagonist: and thus would hee inveagle my beliefe to thinke the combustion of Sodom might be naturall,K46 and that there was an Asphaltick and Bituminous nature in that Lake before the fire of Gomorrha: I know that Manna is now plentifully gathered in Calabria, and Josephus tels me in his dayes 'twas as plentifull in Arabia; the Devill therefore made the quere, Where was then the miracle in the dayes of Moses? the Israelites saw but that in his time, the natives of those Countries behold in ours. Thus the Devill played at Chesse with mee, and yeelding a pawne, thought to gaine a Queen of me, taking advantage of my honest endeavours; and whilst I labour'd to raise the structure of my reason, hee striv'd to undermine the edifice of my faith.
Neither had these or any other ever such advantage of me, as to encline me to any point of infidelity or desperate positions of Atheisme; for I have beene these many yeares of opinion there was never any. Those that held Religion was the difference of man from beasts,K47 have spoken probably, and proceed upon a principle as inductive as the other: That doctrine of Epicurus, that denied the providence of God, was no Atheism, but a magnificent and high-strained conceit of his Majesty, which hee deemed too sublime to minde the triviall actions of those inferiour creatures:K48 That fatall necessitie of the Stoickes, is nothing but the immutable Law of his will. Those that heretofore denied the Divinitie of the holy Ghost, have been condemned but as Heretickes; and those that now deny our Saviour (though more than Hereticks) are not so much as Atheists: for though they deny two persons in the Trinity, they hold as we do, there is but one God.
That villain and Secretary of Hell, that composed that miscreant piece of the three Impostors,K49 though divided from all Religions, and was neither, Jew, Turk, nor Christian, was not a positive Atheist. I confesse every Countrey hath its Machiavell, every age its Lucian, whereof common heads must not heare, nor more advanced judgements too rashly venture on: 'tis the Rhetorick of Satan and may pervert a loose or prejudicate beleefe.
I confesse I have perused them all, and can discover nothing that may startle a discreet beliefe: yet are there heads carried off with the wind and breath of such motives. I remember a Doctor in Physick of Italy, who could not perfectly believe the immortality of the soule, because Galen seemed to make a doubt thereof. With another I was familiarly acquainted in France, a Divine and man of singular parts, that on the same point was so plunged and gravelled with *three lines of Seneca, that all our Antidotes, drawne from both Scripture and Philosophy, could not expell the poyson of his errour. There are a set of heads, that can credit the relations of Mariners, yet question the testimonies of Saint Paul; and peremptorily maintaine the traditions of Ælian or Pliny, yet in Histories of Scripture, raise Quere's and objections, beleeving no more than they can parallel in humane Authors. I confesse there are in Scripture stories that doe exceed the fable of Poets,K50 and to a captious Reader sound like Gargantua or Bevis: Search all the Legends of times past, and the fabulous conceits of these present, and 'twill bee hard to find one that deserves to carry the buckler unto Sampson, yet is all this of an easie possibility, if we conceive a divine concourse or an influence but from the little finger of the Almighty. It is impossible that either in the discourse of man, or in the infallible voyce of God, to the weakenesse of our apprehensions, there should not appeare irregularities, contradictions, and antinomies: my selfe could shew a catalogue of doubts never yet imagined nor questioned, as I know, which are not resolved at the first hearing, not fantastick Quere's, or objections of ayre: For I cannot heare of Atoms in Divinity. I can read the history of the Pigeon that was sent out of the Ark, and returned no more, yet not question how shee found out her mate that was left behind: That Lazarus was raised from the dead, yet not demand where in the interim his soule awaited; or raise a Law-case, whether his heire might lawfully detaine his inheritance, bequeathed unto him by his death; and he, though restored to life, have no Plea or title unto his former possessions. Whether Eve was framed out of the left side of Adam, I dispute not; because I stand not yet assured which is the right side of a man, or whether there be any such distinction in Nature; that she was edified out of the ribbe of Adam I believe, yet raise no question who shall arise with that ribbe at the Resurrection.K51 Whether Adam was an Hermaphrodite, as the Rabbines contend upon the letter of the Text; because it is contrary to reason, there should bee an Hermaphrodite before there was a woman, or a composition of two natures, before there was a second composed. Likewise, whether the world was created in Autumne, Summer, or the Spring;K52 because it was created in them all; for whatsoever Signe the Sun possesseth, those foure seasons are actually existent: It is the nature of this Luminary to distinguish the severall seasons of the yeare, all which it makes at one time in the whole earth, and successive in any part thereof. There are a bundle of curiosities, not onely in Philosophy but in Divinity, proposed and discussed by men of most supposed abilities, which indeed are not worthy our vacant houres, much lesse our serious studies; Pieces onely fit to be placed in **Pantagruels Library, or bound up with Tartaretus de modo Cacandi.
* Post mortem nihil est, ipsa; mors nihil. Mos individua est noxia corpori, Nec patiens animæ Toti morimur, nullaq; pars manet Nostri
** In Rabelais.
These are niceties that become not those that peruse so serious a Mystery. There are others more generally questioned and called to the Barre, yet me thinkes of an easie, and possible truth. 'Tis ridiculous to put off, or drowne the generall Flood of Noah in that particular inundation of Deucalion:K53 that there was Deluge once, seemes not to mee so great a miracle, as that there is not one alwayes. How all the kinds of Creatures, not only in their owne bulks, but with a competency of food & sustenance, might be preserved in one Arke, and within the extent of three hundred cubits, to a reason that rightly examines it, will appeare very foesible.K54 There is another secret, not contained in the Scripture, which is more hard to comprehend, & put the honest Father to the refuge of a Miracle; and that is, not onely how the distinct pieces of the world, and divided Ilands should bee first planted by men, but inhabited by Tygers, Panthers and Beares. How America abounded with beasts of prey, and noxious Animals, yet contained not in it that necessary creature, a Horse, is very strange. By what passage those, not onely Birds, but dangerous and unwelcome Beasts came over: How there bee creatures there, which are not found in this triple Continent; all which must needs bee strange unto us, that hold but one Arke, and that the creatures began their progresse from the mountaines of Ararat. They who to salve this would make the Deluge particular, proceed upon a Principle that I can no way grant; not onely upon the negative of holy Scriptures, but of mine owne reason, whereby I can make it probable, that the world was as well peopled in the time of Noah as in ours, and fifteene hundred yeares to people the world,K55 as full a time for them as foure thousand yeares since have beene to us. There are other assertions and common tenents drawn from Scripture, and generally beleeved as Scripture; whereunto, notwithstanding, I would never betray the libertie of my reason. 'Tis a postulate to me, that Methusalem was the longest liv'd of all the children of Adam,K55aand no man will bee able to prove it; when from the processe of the Text I can manifest it may be otherwise. That Judas perished by hanging himself, there is no certainety in Scripture, though in one place it seemes to affirme it, and by a doubtfull word hath given occasion to translate it; yet in another place, in a more punctuall description, it makes it improbable, and seemes to overthrow it.K56 That our Fathers, after the Flood, erected the Tower of Babell,K57 to preserve themselves against a second Deluge, is generally opinioned and beleeved; yet is there another intention of theirs expressed in Scripture: Besides, it is improbable from the circumstance of the place, that is, a plaine in the land of Shinar. These are no points of Faith, and therefore may admit a free dispute. There are yet others, and those familiarly concluded from the Text, wherein (under favour) I see no consequence. The Church of Rome confidently proves the opinion of Tutelary Angels, from that answer when Peter knockt at the doore, 'Tis not he but his Angel; that is, might some say, his Messenger, or some body from him; for so the Originall signifies, and is as likely to be the doubtfull Families meaning. This exposition I once suggested to a young Divine, that answered upon this point, to which I remember the Franciscan Opponent replyed no more, but, That it was a new and no authentick interpretation.
These are but the conclusions, and fallible discourses of man upon the word of God, for such I doe beleeve the holy Scriptures; yet were it of man, I could not choose but say, it was the singularest, and superlative Piece that hath been extant since the Creation; were I a Pagan, I should not refraine the Lecture of it; and cannot but commend the judgement of Ptolomy,K58 that thought not his Library compleate without it: the Alcoran of the Turks (I speake without prejudice) is an ill composed Piece, containing in it vaine and ridiculous errours in Philosophy, impossibilities, fictions, and vanities beyond laughter, maintained by evident and open Sophismes, the policy of Ignorance, deposition of Universities, and banishment of Learning, that hath gotten foot by armes and violence;K59 This without a blow hath disseminated it selfe through the whole earth. It is not unremarkable what Philo first observed, That the Law of Moses continued two thousand yeares without the least alteration; whereas, we see, the Lawes of other Commonweales doe alter with occasions; and even those that pretended their originall from some Divinity, to have vanished without trace or memory. I beleeve, besides Zoroaster, there were divers that writ before Moses,K60 who notwithstanding have suffered the common fate of time. Mens Workes have an age like themselves; and though they out-live their Authors, yet have they a stint and period to their duration: This onely is a Worke too hard for the teeth of time, and cannot perish but in the generall flames, when all things shall confesse their ashes.
I have heard some with deepe sighs lament the lost lines of Cicero; others with as many groanes deplore the combustion of the Library of Alexandria;K61 for my owne part, I thinke there be too many in the world, and could with patience behold the urne and ashes of the Vatican, could I with a few others recover the perished leaves of Solomon. I would not omit a Copy of Enochs Pillars, had they many neerer Authors than Josephus, or did not relish somewhat of the Fable.K62 Some men have written more than others have spoken; *Pineda quotes more Authors in one work, than are necessary in a whole world. Of those three great inventions in Germany, there are two which are not without their incommodities,K63 and 'tis disputable whether they exceed not their use and commodities. 'Tis not a melancholy Utinam of mine owne, but the desires of better heads, that there were a generall Synod; not to unite the incompatible difference of Religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it as it lay at first in a few and solid Authours; and to condemne to the fire those swarms and millions of Rhapsodies, begotten onely to distract and abuse the weaker judgements of Scholars, and to maintaine the Trade and Mystery of Typographers.K63a
* Pineda in his Monarchia Ecclesiastica quotes one thousand and fortie Authors.
I cannot but wonder with what exceptions the Samaritanes could confine their beliefe to the Pentateuch, or five Books of Moses. I am ashamed at the Rabbinicall Interpretation of the Jews, upon the Old Testament, as much as their defection from the New: and truely it is beyond wonder, how that contemptible and degenerate issue of Jacob, once so devoted to Ethnick Superstition, and so easily seduced to the Idolatry of their Neighbours, should now in such an obstinate and peremptory beliefe, adhere unto their owne Doctrine, expect impossibilities, and in the face and eye of the Church persist without the least hope of conversion: This is a vice in them, that were a vertue in us; for obstinacy in a bad cause, is but constancy in a good. And herein I must accuse those of my own Religion; for there is not any of such a fugitive faith, such an unstable belief, as a Christian; none that do so oft transforme themselves, not unto severall shapes of Christianity and of the same Species, but unto more unnaturall and contrary formes, of Jew and Mahometan, that from the name of Saviour can condescend to the bare terme of Prophet; and from an old beliefe that he is come, fall to a new expectation of his comming: It is the promise of Christ to make us all one flock; but how and when this union shall be, is as obscure to me as the last day. Of those foure members of Religion wee hold a slender proportion; there are I confesse some new additions, yet small to those which accrew to our Adversaries, and those onely drawne from the revolt of Pagans, men but of negative impieties, and such as deny Christ, but because they never heard of him: But the religion of the Jew is expressly against the Christian, and the Mahometan against both; for the Turke, in the bulke hee now stands, he is beyond all hope of conversion;K64 if hee fall asunder there may be conceived hopes, but not without strong improbabilities. The Jew is obstinate in all fortunes; the persecution of fifteene hundred yeares hath but confirmed them in their errour: they have already endured whatsoever may be inflicted, and have suffered, in a bad cause, even to the condemnation of their enemies. Persecution is a bad and indirect way to plant Religion; It hath beene the unhappy method of angry devotions, not onely to confirme honest Religion, but wicked Heresies, and extravagant opinions. It was the first stone and Basis of our Faith, none can more justly boast of persecutions, and glory in the number and valour of Martyrs;K65 For, to speake properly, those are true and almost onely examples of fortitude: Those that are fetch'd from the field, or drawne from the actions of the Campe, are not oft-times so truely precedents of valour as audacity, and at the best attaine but to some bastard piece of fortitude: If wee shall strictly examine the circumstances and requisites which Aristotle requires to true and perfect valour, we shall finde the name onely in his Master Alexander, and as little in that Romane Worthy, Julius Cæsar;K66 and if any, in that easie and active way, have done so nobly as to deserve that name, yet in the passive and more terrible piece these have surpassed, and in a more heroicall way may claime the honour of that Title. 'Tis not in the power of every honest faith to proceed thus farre, or passe to Heaven through the flames; every one hath it not in that full measure, nor in so audacious and resolute a temper, as to endure those terrible tests and trialls, who notwithstanding in a peaceable way doe truely adore their Saviour, and have (no doubt) a faith acceptable in the eyes of God.
Now as all that die in warre are not termed Souldiers, so neither can I properly terme all those that suffer in matters of Religion Martyrs. The Councell of Constance condemnes John Husse for an Heretick, the Stories of his owne party stile him a Martyr;K67 He must needs offend the Divinity of both, that sayes hee was neither the one nor the other: There are many (questionlesse) canonized on earth, that shall never be Saints in Heaven; and have their names in Histories and Martyrologies, who in the eyes of God, are not so perfect Martyrs as was that wise Heathen Socrates, that suffered on a fundamentall point of Religion, the Unity of God.K68 I have often pitied the miserable Bishop that suffered in the cause of Antipodes,K69 yet cannot choose but accuse him of as much madnesse, for exposing his living on such a trifle, as those of ignorance and folly that condemned him. I think my conscience will not give me the lie, if I say, there are not many extant that in a noble way feare the face of death lesse than my selfe, yet from the morall duty I owe to the Commandement of God, and the naturall respects that I tender unto the conservation of my essence and being, I would not perish upon a Ceremony, Politick points, or indifferency; nor is my beleefe of that untractable temper, as not to bow at their obstacles, or connive at matters wherein there are not manifest impieties: The leaven therefore and ferment of all, not onely Civill, but Religious actions, is wisedome; without which, to commit our selves to the flames is Homicide, and (I feare) but to passe through one fire into another.
That Miracles are ceased, I can neither prove, nor absolutely deny, much lesse define the time and period of their cessation; that they survived Christ, is manifest upon record of Scripture; that they out-lived the Apostles also, and were revived at the conversion of Nations, many yeares after, we cannot deny, if wee shall not question those Writers whose testimonies wee doe not controvert, in points that make for our owne opinions; therefore that may have some truth in it that is reported by the Jesuites2 of their Miracles in the Indies, I could wish it were true, or had any other testimony then their owne Pennes: they may easily beleeve those Miracles abroad, who daily conceive a greater at home; the transmutation of those visible elements into the body and blood of our Saviour: for the conversion of water into wine, which he wrought in Cana, or what the Devill would have had him done in the wildernesse, of stones into Bread, compared to this, will scarce deserve the name of a Miracle: Though indeed, to speake properly, there is not one Miracle greater than another, they being the extraordinary effect of the hand of God, to which all things are of an equall facility; and to create the world as easie as one single creature. For this is also a miracle, not onely to produce effects against, or above Nature, but before Nature; and to create Nature as great a miracle, as to contradict or transcend her. Wee doe too narrowly define the power of God, restraining it to our capacities. I hold that God can doe all things, how he should work cõtradictions I do not understand, yet dare not therefore deny.K70 I cannot see why the Angel of God should question Esdras to recall the time past,K71 if it were beyond his owne power; or that God should pose mortalitie in that, which hee was not able to performe himselfe. I will not say God cannot, but hee will not performe many things, which wee plainely affirme he cannot: this I am sure is the mannerliest proposition, wherein notwithstanding I hold no Paradox. For strictly his power is the same with his will, and they both with all the rest doe make but one God.
Therefore that Miracles have beene I doe beleeve, that they may yet bee wrought by the living I doe not deny: but have no confidence in those which are fathered on the dead; and this hath ever made me suspect the efficacy of reliques, to examine the bones, question the habits and appertinencies of Saints, and even of Christ himselfe: I cannot conceive why the Crosse that Helena found and whereon Christ himself died should have power to restore others unto life; I excuse not Constantine from a fall off his horse, or a mischiefe from his enemies, upon the wearing those nayles on his bridle which our Saviour bore upon the Crosse in his hands:K72 I compute among your Piæ fraudes, nor many degrees before consecrated swords and roses, that which Baldwin King of Jerusalem return'd the Genovese for their cost and paines in his warre, to wit the ashes of John the Baptist. Those that hold the sanctitie of their soules doth leave behind a tincture and sacred facultie on their bodies, speake naturally of Miracles, and doe not salve the doubt. Now one reason I tender so little devotion unto reliques is, I think, the slender and doubtfull respect I have alwayes held unto Antiquities: for that indeed which I admire is farre before antiquity, that is Eternity, and that is God himselfe; who though hee be stiled the Antient of dayes, cannot receive the adjunct of antiquity, who was before the world, and shall be after it, yet is not older then it: for in his yeares there is no Climacter, his duration is eternity, and farre more venerable then antiquitie.
But above all things, I wonder how the curiositie of wiser heads could passe that great and indisputable miracle, the cessation of Oracles:K73 and in what swoun their reasons lay, to content themselves and sit downe with such far-fetch't and ridiculous reasons as Plutarch alleadgeth for it. The Jewes that can beleeve the supernaturall solstice of the Sunne in the dayes of Joshua, have yet the impudence to deny the Eclipse, which every Pagan confessed at his death: but for this, it is evident beyond all contradiction, *the Devill himselfe confessed it. Certainly it is not a warrantable curiosity, to examine the verity of Scripture by the concordance of humane history, or seek to confirme the Chronicle of Hester or Daniel, by the authority of Magasthenes or Herodotus.3 I confesse I have had an unhappy curiosity this way, till I laughed my selfe out of it with a piece of Justine, where hee delivers that the children of Israel for being scabbed were banished out of Egypt.K74 And truely since I have understood the occurrences of the world, and know in what counterfeit shapes & deceitfull vizzards times present represent on the stage things past; I doe beleeve them little more than things to come. Some have beene of my opinion, and endevoured to write the History of their own Lives; wherein Moses hath outgone them all, and left not onely the story of his life, but as some will have it of his death also.
* In his Oracle of Augustus.
It is a riddle to me, how this story of Oracles hath not worm'd out of the world that doubtfull conceit of Spirits and Witches; how so many learned heads should so farre forget their Metaphysicks, and destroy the Ladder and scale of creatures, as to question the existence of Spirits: for my part, I have ever beleeved, and doe now know, that there are Witches;K75 they that doubt of these, doe not onely deny them, but Spirits; and are obliquely and upon consequence a sort, not of Infidels, but Atheists. Those that to confute their incredulity desire to see apparitions, shall questionlesse never behold any, nor have the power to be so much as Witches;K76 the Devill hath them already in a heresie as capitall as Witchcraft, and to appeare to them, were but to convert them: Of all the delusions wherewith he deceives mortalitie, there is not any that puzleth mee more than the Legerdemain of Changelings; I doe not credit those transformations of reasonable creatures into beasts, or that the Devill hath a power to transpeciate a man into a horse, who tempted Christ (as a triall of his Divinitie) to convert but stones into bread. I could beleeve that Spirits use with man the act of carnality, and that in both sexes; I conceive they may assume, steale, or contrive a body, wherein there may be action enough to content decrepit lust, or passion to satisfie more active veneries; yet in both, without a possibility of generation: and therefore that opinion, that Antichrist should be borne of the Tribe of Dan by conjunction with the Devill,K77 is ridiculous, and a conceit fitter for a Rabbin than a Christian. I hold that the Devill doth really possesse some men, the spirit of melancholy others, the spirit of delusion others; that as the Devil is concealed and denyed by some, so God and good Angels are pretended by others, whereof the late defection of the Maid of Germany hath left a pregnant example.
Againe, I beleeve that all that use sorceries, incantations, and spells, are not Witches, or as we terme them, Magicians; I conceive there is a traditionall Magicke, not learned immediately from the Devill, but at second hand from his Schollers; who having once the secret betrayed, are able, and doe emperically practice without his advice, they both proceeding upon the principles of nature: where actives aptly conjoyned to disposed passives, will under any Master produce their effects. Thus I thinke at first a great part of Philosophy was Witchcraft, which being afterward derived to one another, proved but Philosophy, and was indeed no more but the honest effects of Nature: What invented by us is Philosophy, learned from him is Magicke. Wee doe surely owe the discovery of many secrets to the discovery of good and bad Angels. I could never passe that sentence of Paracelsus without an asterisk or annotation; *Ascendens constellatum multa revelat; quærentibus magnalia naturæ, i.e. opera Dei. I doe thinke that many mysteries ascribed to our owne inventions, have beene the courteous revelations of Spirits; for those noble essences in heaven beare a friendly regard unto their fellow-natures on earth; and therefore beleeve that those many prodigies and ominous prognostickes which fore-run the ruines of States, Princes, and private persons, are the charitable premonitions of good Angels, which more careless enquiries terme but the effects of chance and nature.
* Thereby is meant our good Angel appointed us from our nativity.
Now besides these particular and divided Spirits, there may be (for ought I know) an universall and common Spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion of Plato, and it is yet of the Hermeticall Philosophers; if there be a common nature that unites and tyes the scattered and divided individuals into one species, why may there not bee one that unites them all? However, I am sure there is a common Spirit that playes within us, yet makes no part of us, and that is the Spirit of God, the fire and scintillation of that noble and mighty Essence, which is the life and radicall heat of spirits, and those essences that know not the vertue of the Sunne, a fire quite contrary to the fire of Hell: This is that gentle heate that brooded on the waters, and in six dayes hatched the world; this is that irradiation that dispells the mists of Hell, the clouds of horrour, feare, sorrow, despaire; and preserves the region of the mind in serenity: whosoever feels not the warme gale and gentle ventilation of this Spirit (though I feele his pulse) I dare not say he lives; for truely without this, to mee there is no heat under the Tropick; nor any light, though I dwelt in the body of the Sunne.
As when the labouring Sun hath wrought his track,
Vp to the top of lofty Cancers back,
The ycie Ocean cracks, the frozen pole
Thawes with the heat of the Celestiall coale;
So when thy absent beames begin t' impart
Againe a Solstice on my frozen heart,
My winters ov'r, my drooping spirits sing,
And every part revives into a Spring.
But if thy quickning beames a while decline,
And with their light blesse not this Orbe of mine,
A chilly frost surpriseth every member,
And in the midst of Iune I feele December.
O how this earthly temper doth debase
The noble Soule, in this her humble place!
Whose wingy nature ever doth aspire,
To reach that place whence first it took its fire.
These flames I feele, which in my heart doe dwell,
Are not thy beames, but take their fire from Hell:
O quench them all, and let thy light divine
Be as the Sunne to this poore Orbe of mine.
And to thy sacred Spirit convert those fires,
Whose earthly fumes choake my devout aspires.
Therefore for Spirits I am so farre from denying their existence, that I could easily beleeve, that not onely whole Countries, but particular persons have their Tutelary, and Guardian Angels: It is not a new opinion of the Church of Rome, but an old one of Pythagoras and Plato;K78 there is no heresie in it, and if not manifestly defin'd in Scripture, yet is it an opinion of a good and wholesome use in the course and actions of a mans life, and would serve as an Hypothesis to salve many doubts, whereof common Philosophy affordeth no solution: Now if you demand my opinion and Metaphysicks of their natures, I confesse them very shallow, most of them in a negative way, like that of God; or in a comparative, between our selves and fellow creatures; for there is in this Universe a Staire, or manifest Scale of creatures, rising not disorderly, or in confusion, but with a comely method and proportion: betweene creatures of meere existence and things of life, there is a large disproportion of nature; betweene plants and animals or creatures of sense, a wider difference; between them and man, a farre greater: and if the proportion hold on, betweene man and Angels there should bee yet a greater. We doe not comprehend their natures, who retaine the first definition of Porphyry, and distinguish them from our selves by immortality; for before his fall, man also was immortall; yet must wee needs affirme that he had a different essence from the Angels: having therefore no certaine knowledge of their natures, 'tis no bad method of the Schooles, whatsoever perfection we finde obscurely in our selves, in a more compleate and absolute way to ascribe unto them. I beleeve they have an extemporary knowledge, and upon the first motion of their reason doe what we cannot without study or deliberation; that they know things by their formes, and define by specificall difference, what we describe by accidents and properties;4 and therefore probabilities to us may bee demonstrations unto them; that they have knowledge not onely of the specificall, but numericall formes of individualls, and understand by what reserved difference each single Hypostasis (besides the relation to its species) becomes its numericall selfe. That as the Soule hath a power to move the body it informes, so there's a Faculty to move any, though informe none; ours upon restraint of time, place, and distance; but that invisible hand that conveyed Habakkuk to the Lions den, or Philip to Azotus, infringeth this rule, and hath a secret conveyance, wherewith mortality is not acquainted; if they have that intuitive knowledge, whereby as in reflexion they behold the thoughts of one another, I cannot peremptorily deny but they know a great part of ours. They that to refute the Invocation of Saints, have denied that they have any knowledge of our affaires below, have proceeded too farre, and must pardon my opinion, till I can thoroughly answer that piece of Scripture, At the conversion of a sinner the Angels of heaven rejoyce. I cannot with those in that great Father securely interpret the worke of the first day, Fiat lux, to the creation of Angels,K79 though (I confesse) there is not any creature that hath so neare a glympse of their nature, as light in the Sunne and Elements; we stile it a bare accident, but where it subsists alone, 'tis a spirituall Substance, and may bee an Angel:K80 in briefe, conceive light invisible, and that is a Spirit.
These are certainly the Magisteriall & master pieces of the Creator, the Flower (or as we may say) the best part of nothing, actually existing, what we are but in hopes, and probabilitie, we are onely that amphibious piece betweene a corporall and spirituall essence, that middle forme that linkes those two together, and makes good the method of God and nature, that jumps not from extreames, but unites the incompatible distances by some middle and participating natures; that wee are the breath and similitude of God, it is indisputable, and upon record of holy Scripture, but to call our selves a Microcosme, or little world, I thought it onely a pleasant trope of Rhetorick, till my neare judgement and second thoughts told me there was a reall truth therein: for first wee are a rude masse, and in the ranke of creatures, which only are, and have a dull kinde of being not yet priviledged with life, or preferred to sense or reason; next we live the life of plants, the life of animals, the life of men, and at last the life of spirits, running on in one mysterious nature those five kinds of existences, which comprehend the creatures not onely of the world, but of the Universe; thus is man that great and true Amphibium, whose nature is disposed to live not onely like other creatures in divers elements, but in divided and distinguished worlds; for though there bee not one to sense, there are two to reason; the one visible, the other invisible, whereof Moses seemes to have left description, and of the other so obscurely, that some parts thereof are yet in controversie; and truely for the first chapters of Genesis, I must confesse a great deale of obscurity, though Divines have to the power of humane reason endeavoured to make all goe in a literall meaning, yet those allegoricall interpretations are also probable, and perhaps the mysticall method of Moses bred up in the Hieroglyphicall Schooles of the Egyptians.
Now for that immateriall world, me thinkes wee need not wander so farre as the first moveable, for even in this materiall fabricke the spirits walke as freely exempt from the affection of time, place, and motion, as beyond the extreamest circumference; doe but extract from the corpulency of bodies, or resolve things beyond their first matter, and you discover the habitation of Angels, which if I call the ubiquitary, and omnipresent essence of God, I hope I shall not offend Divinity; for before the Creation of the world God was really all things. For the Angels hee created no new world, or determinate mansion, and therefore they are every where where is his essence, and doe live at a distance even in himselfe: that God made all things for man, is in some sense true, yet not so farre as to subordinate the creation of those purer creatures unto ours, though as ministring spirits they doe, and are willing to fulfill the will of God in these lower and sublunary affaires of man; God made all things for himself, and it is impossible hee should make them for any other end than his owne glory; it is all he can receive, and all that is without himselfe; for honour being an externall adjunct, and in the honourer rather than in the person honoured, it was necessary to make a creature, from whom hee might receive this homage, and that is in the other world Angels, in this, man; which when we neglect, we forget the very end of our creation, and may justly provoke God, not onely to repent that hee hath made the world, but that hee hath sworne hee would not destroy it. That there is but one world, is a conclusion of faith. Aristotle with all his Philosophy hath not beene able to prove it, and as weakely that the world was eternall; that dispute much troubled the penne of the antient Philosophers, but Moses decided that question, and all is salved with the new terme of a creation,K81 that is, a production of something out of nothing; and what is that? Whatsoever is opposite to something or more exactly, that which is truely contrary unto God: for he onely is, all others have an existence, with dependency and are something but by a distinction; and herein is Divinity conformant unto Philosophy, and generation not onely founded on contrarieties, but also creation; God being all things is contrary unto nothing out of which were made all things, and so nothing became something, and Omneity informed Nullity into an essence.
[sic: 35 bis]
The whole Creation is a mystery, and particularly that of man, at the blast of his mouth were the rest of the creatures made, and at his bare word they started out of nothing: but in the frame of man (as the text describes it) he played the sensible operator, and seemed not so much to create, as make him; when hee had separated the materials of other creatures, there consequently resulted a forme and soule, but having raised the wals of man, he was driven to a second and harder creation of a substance like himselfe, an incorruptible and immortall soule. For these two affections we have the Philosophy, and opinion of the Heathens, the flat affirmative of Plato, and not a negative from Aristotle: there is another scruple cast in by Divinity (concerning its production) much disputed in the Germane auditories, and with that indifferency and equality of arguments, as leave the controversie undetermined. I am not of Paracelsus minde that boldly delivers a receipt to make a man without conjunction, yet cannot but wonder at the multitude of heads that doe deny traduction, having no other argument to confirme their beliefe, then that Rhetoricall sentence, and Antimetathesis of Augustine, Creando infunditur, infundendo creatur: either opinion will consist well enough with religion, yet I should rather incline to this, did not one objection haunt mee, not wrung from speculations and subtilties, but from common sense, and observation, not pickt from the leaves of any author, but bred amongst the weeds and tares of mine owne braine. And this is a conclusion from the equivocall and monstrous productions in the copulation of man with beast; for if the soule of man bee not transmitted and transfused in the seed of the parents, why are not those productions meerely beasts, but have also an impression and tincture of reason in as high a measure as it can evidence it selfe in those improper organs? Nor truely can I peremptorily deny, that the soule in this her sublunary estate, is wholly and in all acceptions inorganicall, but that for the performance of her ordinary actions, is required not onely a symmetry and proper disposition of Organs, but a Crasis and temper correspondent to its operations; yet is not this masse of flesh and visible structure the instrument and proper corps of the soule, but rather of sense, and that the hand of reason. In our study of Anatomy there is a masse of mysterious Philosophy, and such as reduced the very Heathens to Divinitie;K82 yet amongst all those rare discoveries, and curious pieces I finde in the fabricke of man, I doe not so much content my selfe, as in that I finde not, that is no Organe or instrument for the rationall soule; for in the braine, which wee tearme the seate of reason, there is not any thing of moment more than I can discover in the cranie of a beast: and this is a sensible and no inconsiderable argument of the inorganity of the soule, at least in that sense we usually so receive it. Thus we are men, and we know not how, there is something in us, that can be without us, and will be after us, though it is strange that it hath no history, what it was before us, nor cannot tell how it entred in us.
Now for these wals of flesh, wherein the soule doth seeme to be immured before the Resurrection, it is nothing but an elementall composition, and a fabricke that must fall to ashes; All flesh is grasse, is not onely metaphorically, but literally true, for all those creatures we behold, are but the hearbs of the field, digested into flesh in them, or more remotely carnified in our selves. Nay further, we are what we all abhorre, Antropophagi and Cannibals, devourers not onely of men, but of our selves; and that not in an allegory, but a positive truth; for all this masse of flesh which wee behold, came in at our mouths: this frame wee looke upon, hath beene upon our trenchers; In briefe, we have devoured our selves. I cannot beleeve the wisedome of Pythagoras did ever positively, and in a literall sense, affirme his Metempsychosis,K83 or impossible transmigration of the soules of men into beasts: of all Metamorphoses or transmigrations, I beleeve onely one, that is of Lots wife, for that of Nabuchodonosor proceeded not so farre; In all others I conceive there is no further verity then is contained in their implicite sense and morality: I beleeve that the whole frame of a beast doth perish, and is left in the same state after death, as before it was materialled unto life; that the soules of men know neither contrary nor corruption, that they subsist beyond the body, and outlive death by the priviledge of their proper natures, and without a miracle; that the soules of the faithfull, as they leave earth, take possession of Heaven: that those apparitions, and ghosts of departed persons are not the wandring soules of men, but the unquiet walkes of Devils, prompting and suggesting us unto mischiefe, bloud, and villany, instilling, & stealing into our hearts, that the blessed spirits are not at rest in their graves, but wander solicitous of the affaires of the world; that those phantasmes appeare often, and doe frequent Cemiteries, charnall houses, and Churches, it is because those are the dormitories of the dead, where the Devill like an insolent Champion beholds with pride the spoyles and Trophies of his victory in Adam.
This is that dismall conquest we all deplore, that makes us so often cry (O) Adam, quid fecisti? I thanke God I have not those strait ligaments, or narrow obligations to the world, as to dote on life, or be convulst and tremble at the name of death: Not that I am insensible of the dread and horrour thereof, or by raking into the bowells of the deceased, continuall sight of Anatomies, Skeletons, or Cadaverous reliques, like Vespilloes, or Grave-makers, I am become stupid, or have forgot the apprehension of mortality, but that marshalling all the horrours, and contemplating the extremities thereof, I finde not any thing therein able to daunt the courage of a man, much lesse a well resolved Christian. And therefore am not angry at the errour of our first parents, or unwilling to beare a part of this common fate, and like the best of them to dye, that is, to cease to breathe, to take a farewell of the elements, to be a kinde of nothing for a moment, to be within one instant of a spirit. When I take a full view and circle of my selfe, without this reasonable moderator, and equall piece of justice, Death, I doe conceive my selfe the miserablest person extant; were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of this world should not intreat a moments breath from me; could the Devill worke my beliefe to imagine I could ever dye, I would not out-live that very thought; I have so abject a conceit of this common way of existence, this retaining to the Sunne and Elements, I cannot thinke this is to be a man, or to live according to the dignitie of humanity; in expectation of a better I can with patience embrace this life, yet in my best meditations doe often defie death; I honour any man that contemnes it, nor can I highly love any that is afraid of it; this makes me naturally love a Souldier, and honour those tattered and contemptible Regiments that will die at the command of a Sergeant. For a Pagan there may bee some motives to bee in love with life, but for a Christian to be amazed at death, I see not how hee can escape this Dilemma, that he is too sensible of this life, or hopelesse of the life to come.
Some Divines count Adam 30. yeares old at his creation, because they suppose him created in the perfect age and stature of man; and surely wee are all out of the computation of our age, and every man is some moneths elder than hee bethinkes him; for we live, move, have a being, and are subject to the actions of the elements, and the malice of diseases in that other world, the truest Microcosme, the wombe of our mother; for besides that generall and common existence wee are conceived to hold in our Chaos, and whilst wee sleepe within the bosome of our causes, wee enjoy a being and life in three distinct worlds, wherein we receive most manifest graduations: In that obscure world and wombe of our mother, our time is short, computed by the Moone; yet longer than the dayes of many creatures that behold the Sunne, our selves being not yet without life, sense, and reason, though for the manifestation of its actions, it awaits the opportunity of objects; and seemes to live there but in its roote and soule of vegetation: entring afterwards upon the scene of the world, wee arise up and become another creature, performing the reasonable actions of man, and obscurely manifesting that part of Divinity in us, but not in complement and perfection, till we have once more cast our secondine, that is, this slough of flesh, and are delivered into the last world, that is, that ineffable place of Paul, that proper ubi of spirits. The smattering I have of the Philosophers stone, (which is something more then the perfect exaltation of gold) hath taught me a great deale of Divinity, and instructed my beliefe, how that immortall spirit and incorruptible substance of my soule may lye obscure, and sleepe a while within this house of flesh. Those strange and mysticall transmigrations that I have observed in Silkewormes, turn'd my Philosophy into Divinity. There is in these workes of nature, which seeme to puzle reason, something Divine, and hath more in it then the eye of a common spectator doth discover.
I am naturally bashfull, nor hath conversation, age, or travell, beene able to effront, or enharden me, yet I have one part of modesty, which I have seldome discovered in another, that is (to speake truly) I am not so much afraid of death, as ashamed thereof; tis the very disgrace and ignominy of our natures, that in a moment can so disfigure us that our nearest friends, Wife, and Children stand afraid and start at us. The Birds and Beasts of the field that before in a naturall feare obeyed us, forgetting all allegiance begin to prey upon us. This very conceite hath in a tempest disposed and left me willing to be swallowed up in the abysse of waters; wherein I had perished unseene, unpityed, without wondring eyes, teares of pity, Lectures of mortality, and none had said, quantum mutatus ab illo! Not that I am ashamed of the Anatomy of my parts, or can accuse nature for playing the bungler in any part of me, or my owne vitious life for contracting any shamefull disease upon me, whereby I might not call my selfe as wholesome a morsell for the wormes as any.
Some upon the courage of a fruitfull issue, wherein, as in the truest Chronicle, they seem to outlive themselves, can with greater patience away with death. This conceit and counterfeit subsisting in our progenies seemes to mee a meere fallacy, unworthy the desires of a man, that can but conceive a thought of the next world; who, in a nobler ambition, should desire to live in his substance in Heaven rather than his name and shadow in the earth. And therefore at my death I meane to take a totall adieu of the world, not caring for a Monument, History, or Epitaph, not so much as the bare memory of my name to be found any where but in the universall Register of God: I am not yet so Cynicall, as to approve the *Testament of Diogenes, nor doe I altogether allow that Rodomontado of Lucan;
Cælo tegitur, qui non habet urnam.
He that unburied lies wants not his Herse,
For unto him a tombe's the Universe.
But commend in my calmer judgement, those ingenuous intentions that desire to sleepe by the urnes of their Fathers, and strive to goe the nearest way unto corruption. I doe not envie the temper of Crowes and Dawes,K84 nor the numerous and weary dayes of our Fathers before the Flood. If there bee any truth in Astrology, I may outlive a Jubilee, as yet I have not seene one revolution of Saturne, nor hath my pulse beate thirty yeares, and yet excepting one, have seene the Ashes, and left under ground, all the Kings of Europe, have beene contemporary to three Emperours, foure Grand Signiours, and as many Popes; mee thinkes I have outlived my selfe, and begin to bee weary of the Sunne, I have shaked hands with delight in my warme blood and Canicular dayes, I perceive I doe Anticipate the vices of age, the world to mee is but a dreame, or mockshow, and wee all therein but Pantalones and Antickes to my severer contemplations.
* Who willed his friend not to bury him, but to hang him up with a staffe in his hand to fright away the Crowes.
It is not, I confesse, an unlawfull Prayer to desire to surpasse the dayes of our Saviour, or wish to out-live that age wherein he thought fittest to dye, yet, if (as Divinity affirmes) there shall be no gray hayres in Heaven, but all shall rise in the perfect state of men, we doe but out-live those perfections in this world, to be recalled unto them, by a greater miracle in the next, and run on here but to be retrograde hereafter. Were there any hopes to out-live vice, or a point to be super-annuated from sin, it were worthy our knees to implore the dayes of Methuselah. But age doth not rectifie, but incurvate our natures, turning bad dispositions into worser habits, and (like diseases) brings on incurable vices; for every day as we grow weaker in age, we grow stronger in sinne, and the number of our dayes doth but make our sinnes innumerable. The same vice committed at sixteene, is not the same, though it agree in all other circumstances, at forty, but swels and doubles from the circumstance of our ages, wherein besides the constant and inexcusable habit of transgressing, the maturity of our Judgement cuts off pretence unto excuse or pardon: every sin, the oftner it is committed, the more it acquireth in the quality of evill; as it succeeds in time, so it precedes in degrees of badnesse, for as they proceed they ever multiply, and like figures in Arithmeticke, the last stands for more than all that went before it: And though I thinke no man can live well once but hee that could live twice, yet for my owne part, I would not live over my houres past, or beginne againe the thred of my dayes: not upon Cicero's ground, because I have lived them well,K85 but for feare I should live them worse: I find my growing Judgement dayly instruct me how to be better, but my untamed affections and confirmed vitiosity makes mee dayly doe worse; I finde in my confirmed age the same sinnes I discovered in my youth, I committed many then because I was a child, and because I commit them still I am yet an Infant. Therefore I perceive a man may bee twice a child before the dayes of dotage, and stand in need of Æsons bath before threescore.K86
And truely there goes a great deale of providence to produce a mans life unto threescore; there is more required than an able temper for those yeeres; though the radicall humour containe in it sufficient oyle for seventie, yet I perceive in some it gives no light past thirtie; men assigne not all the causes of long life that write whole bookes thereof. They that found themselves on the radicall balsome or vitall sulphur of the parts, determine not why Abel liv'd not so long as Adam. There is therefore a secret glome or bottome of our dayes; 'twas his wisedome to determine them, but his perpetuall and waking providence that fulfils and accomplisheth them, wherein the spirits, our selves, and all the creatures of God in a secret and disputed way doe execute his will. Let them not therefore complaine of immaturitie that die about thirty, they fall but like the whole world, whose solid and well composed substance must not expect the duration and period of its constitution, when all things are compleated in it, its age is accomplished, and the last and generall fever may as naturally destroy it before six thousand, as me before forty:5 there is therfore some other hand that twines the thread of life than that of nature; wee are not onely ignorant in Antipathies and occult qualities, our ends are as obscure as our beginnings, the line of our dayes is drawne by night, and the various effects therein by a pencill that is invisible; wherein though wee confesse our ignorance, I am sure we doe not erre, if wee say, it is the hand of God.
I am much taken with two verses of Lucan, since I have beene able not onely, as we doe at Schoole, to construe, but understand:
Victurosque Dei celant ut vivere durent,
Felix esse mori.
We're all deluded, vainely searching wayes,
To make us happy by the length of dayes;
For cunningly to make's protract this breath,
The Gods conceale the happiness of Death.
There be many excellent straines in that Poet, wherewith his Stoicall Genius hath liberally supplyed him; and truely there are singular pieces in the Philosophy of Zeno, and doctrine of the Stoickes, which I perceive, delivered in a Pulpit, passe for currant Divinity: yet herein are they in extreames, that can allow a man to be his own Assaßine, and so highly extoll the end and suicide of Cato;K87 this is indeed not to feare death, but yet to bee afraid of life. It is a brave act of6 valour to contemne death, but where life is more terrible than death, it is then the truest valour to dare to live, and herein Religion hath taught us a noble example: For all the valiant acts of Curtius, Scevola or Codrus, do not parallel or match that one of Job; and sure there is no torture to the rack of a disease, nor any Poynyards in death it selfe like those in the way or prologue unto it. Emori nolo, sed me esse mortuum nihil curo, I would not die, but care not to be dead. Were I of Cæsars ReligionK88 I should be of his desires, and wish rather to goe off at one blow, then to be sawed in peeces by the grating torture of a disease. Men that looke no further than their outsides thinke health an appertinance unto life, and quarrell with their constitutions for being sick; but I that have examined the parts of man, and know upon what tender filaments that Fabrick hangs, doe wonder that we are not alwayes so; and considering the thousand dores that lead to death doe thanke my God that we can die but once. 'Tis not onely the mischiefe of diseases, and the villanie of poysons that make an end of us, we vainly accuse the fury of Gunnes, and the new inventions of death; 'tis in the power of every hand to destroy us, and wee are beholding unto every one wee meete hee doth not kill us. There is therefore but one comfort left, that though it be in the power of the weakest arme to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death: God would not exempt himselfe from that, the misery of immortality in the flesh, he undertooke not that was in it immortall. Certainly there is no happinesse within this circle of flesh, nor is it in the Opticks of these eyes to behold felicity; the first day of our Jubilee is death; the devill hath therefore fail'd of his desires; wee are happier with death than we should have beene without it: there is no misery but in himselfe where there is no end of misery; and so indeed in his own sense, the Stoick is in the right. Hee forgets that hee can die who complaines of misery, wee are in the power of no calamitie while death is in our owne.
Now besides this literall and positive kinde of death, there are others whereof Divines make mention, and those I thinke, not meerely Metaphoricall, as Mortification, dying unto sin and the world; therefore, I say, every man hath a double Horoscope, one of his humanity, his birth; another of his Christianity, his baptisme, and from this doe I compute or calculate my Nativitie, not reckoning those Horæ combustæ, and odde dayes, or esteeming my selfe any thing, before I was my Saviours, and inrolled in the Register of Christ: Whosoever enjoyes not this life, I count him but an apparition, though he weare about him the sensible affections of flesh. In these morall acceptions, the way to be immortall is to die daily, nor can I thinke I have the true Theory of death, when I contemplate a skull, or behold a Skeleton with those vulgar imaginations it casts upon us; I have therefore enlarged that common Memento mori, into a more Christian memorandum, Memento quatuor novißima, those foure inevitable points of us all, Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell. Neither did the contemplations of the Heathens rest in their graves, without a further thought of Radamanth or some judiciall proceeding after death, though in another way, and upon suggestion of their naturall reasons. I cannot but marvaile from what Sibyll or Oracle they stole the prophesy of the worlds destruction by fire, or whence Lucan learned to say,K89
Cõmunis mundo superest rogus, oßibus astra
There yet remaines to th' world one common fire,
Wherein our bones with stars shall make one pyre.
I beleeve the world growes neare its end, yet is neither old nor decayed, nor will ever perish upon the ruines of its owne principles. As the worke of Creation was above nature, so is its adversary, annihilation; without which the world hath not its end, but its mutation. Now what force should bee able to consume it thus farre, without the breath of God, which is the truest consuming flame, my Philosophy cannot informe me. Some beleeve there went not a minute to the worlds creation, nor shal there go to its destruction; those six dayes so punctually described, make not to them one moment, but rather seem to manifest the method and Idea of the great worke of the intellect of God, than the manner how hee proceeded in its operation. I cannot dreame that there should be at the last day any such Judiciall proceeding, or calling to the Barre, as indeed the Scripture seemes to imply, and the literall commentators doe conceive: for unspeakable mysteries in the Scriptures are often delivered in a vulgar and illustrative way, and being written unto man, are delivered, not as they truely are, but as they may bee understood; wherein notwithstanding the different interpretations according to different capacities may stand firme with our devotion, nor bee any way prejudiciall to each single edification.
Now to determine the day and yeare of this inevitable time, is not onely convincible and statute madnesse, but also manifest impiety; How shall we interpret Elias 6000. yeares,K90 or imagine the secret communicated to a Rabbi, which God hath denyed unto his Angels? It had beene an excellent quære, to have posed the devill of Delphos, and must needs have forced him to some strange amphibology; it hath not onely mocked the predictions of sundry Astrologers in ages past, but the prophecies of many melancholy heads in these present, who neither understanding reasonably things past or present, pretend a knowledge of things to come, heads ordained onely to manifest the incredible effects of melancholy, and to fulfill *old prophesies, rather than be the authors of new. [In those dayes there shall come warres and rumours of warres,] to me seemes no prophesie, but a constant truth, in all times verified since it was pronounced: There shall bee signes in the Moone and Starres, how comes he then like a theefe in the night, when he gives an item of his comming? That common signe drawne from the revelation of Antichrist is as obscure as any; in our common compute he hath beene come these many yeares, but for my owne part to speake freely, I am halfe of opinion that Antichrist is the Philosophers stone in Divinity, for the discovery and invention whereof, though there be prescribed rules, and probable inductions, yet hath hardly any man attained the perfect discovery thereof. That generall opinion that the world growes neere its end, hath possessed all ages past as neerely as ours; I am afraid that the Soules that now depart, cannot escape that lingring expostulation of the Saints under the Altar, Quousque Domine? How long, O Lord? and groane in the expectation of the great Jubilee.
* In those dayes there shall come lyers and false prophets.
This is the day that must make good that great attribute of God, his Justice, that must reconcile those unanswerable doubts that torment the wisest understandings, and reduce those seeming inequalities, and respective distributions in this world, to an equality and recompensive Justice in the next. This is that one day, that shall include and comprehend all that went before it, wherein as in the last scene, all the Actors must enter to compleate and make up the Catastrophe of this great peece. This is the day whose memory hath onely power to make us honest in the darke, and to bee vertuous without a witnesse. Ipsa suæ pretium virtus sibi,K91 that vertue is her owne reward, is but a cold principle, and not able to maintaine our variable resolutions in a constant and setled way of goodnesse. I have practised that honest artifice of Seneca,K92 and in my retired and solitary imaginations, to detaine me from the foulenesse of vice, have fancyed to my selfe the presence of my deare and worthiest friends, before whom I should lose my head, rather than be vitious, yet herein I found that there was nought but morall honesty, and this was not to be vertuous for his sake who must reward us at the last. I have tryed if I could reach that great resolution of his, to be honest without a thought of Heaven or Hell;K93 and indeed I found upon a naturall inclination, an inbred loyalty unto vertue, that I could serve her without a livery, yet not in that resolved and venerable way, but that the frailty of my nature, upon an easie temptation, might be induced to forget her. The life therefore and spirit of all our actions, is the resurrection, and stable apprehension, that our ashes shall enjoy the fruit of our pious endeavours; without this, all Religion is a Fallacy, and those impieties of Lucian, Euripedes, and Julian are no blasphemies, but subtile verities, and Atheists have beene the onely Philosophers.K94
[sic: 46 bis]
How shall the dead arise, is no question of my faith; to beleeve onely possibilities, is not faith, but meere Philosophy; many things are true in Divinity, which are neither inducible by reason, nor confirmable by sense, and many things in Philosophy confirmable by sense, yet not inducible by reason. Thus it is impossible by any solid or demonstrative reasons to perswade a man to beleeve the conversion of the Needle to the North; though this be possible, and true, and easily credible, upon a single experiment unto the sense. I beleeve that our estranged and divided ashes shall unite againe, that our separated dust after so many pilgrimages and transformations into the parts of mineralls, Plants, Animals, Elements, shall at the voyce of God returne into their primitive shapes; and joyne againe to make up their primary and predestinate formes. As at the Creation, there was a separation of that confused masse into its species, so at the destruction thereof there shall bee a separation into its distinct individuals. As at the Creation of the world, all the distinct species that wee behold, lay involved in one masse, till the fruitfull voyce of God separated this united multitude into its severall species: so at the last day, when these corrupted reliques shall be scattered in the wildernesse of formes, and seeme to have forgot their proper habits, God by a powerfull voyce shall command them backe into their proper shapes,K95 and call them out by their single individuals: Then shall appeare the fertilitie of Adam, and the magicke of that sperme that hath dilated into so many millions. I have often beheld as a miracle, that artificiall resurrection and revivification of Mercury, how being mortified into thousand shapes, it assumes againe its owne, and returns into its numericall selfe. Let us speake naturally, and like Philosophers, the formes of alterable bodies in these sensible corruptions perish not; nor, as wee imagine, wholly quit their mansions, but retire and contract themselves into their secret and unaccessible parts, where they may best protect themselves from the action of their Antagonist. A plant or vegetable consumed to ashes, to a contemplative and schoole Philosopher seemes utterly destroyed, and the forme to have taken his leave for ever: But to a sensible Artist the formes are not perished, but withdrawne into their incombustible part, where they lie secure from the action of that devouring element. This is made good by experience, which can from the ashes of a plant revive the plant, and from its cinders recall it into its stalk and leaves againe. What the Art of man can doe in these inferiour pieces, what blasphemy is it to affirme the finger of God cannot doe in these more perfect and sensible structures? This is that mysticall Philosophy, from whence no true Scholler becomes an Atheist, but from the visible effects of nature, growes up a reall Divine, and beholds not in a dreame, as Ezekiel, but in an ocular and visible object the types of his resurrection.
Now, the necessary Mansions of our restored selves are those two contrary and incompatible places wee call Heaven and Hell; to define them, or strictly to determine what and where these are, surpasseth my Divinity. That elegant Apostle which seemed to have a glimpse of Heaven, hath left but a negative description thereof; Which neither eye hath seen, nor eare hath heard, nor can enter into the heart of man: he was translated out of himself to behold it, but being returned into himselfe could not expresse it. Saint7 Johns description by Emeralds, Chrysolites, and pretious stones, is too weake to expresse the materiall Heaven we behold. Briefely therefore, where the soule hath the full measure, and complement of happinesse, where the boundlesse appetite of that spirit remaines compleatly satisfied, that it can neither desire addition nor alteration, that I thinke is truely Heaven: and this can onely be in the enjoyment of that essence, whose infinite goodnesse is able to terminate the desires of it selfe, and the unsatiable wishes of ours; where-ever God will thus manifest himselfe, there is Heaven, though within the circle of this sensible world. Thus the soule of man may bee in Heaven any where, even within the limits of his own proper body, and when it ceaseth to live in the body, it may remaine in its owne soule, that is its Creator. And thus wee may say that Saint Paul, whether in the body, or out of the body, was yet in Heaven. To place it in the Empyreall, or beyond the tenth Spheare, is to forget the worlds destruction; for when this sensible world shall bee destroyed, all shall then be here as it is now there, an Empyreall Heaven, a quasi vacuitie, when to aske where Heaven is, is to demand where the presence of God is, or where wee have the glory of that happy vision. Moses that was bred up in all the learning of the Egyptians, committed a grosse absurdity in Philosophy, when with these eyes of flesh he desired to see God, and petitioned his Maker, that is truth it selfe, to a contradiction. Those that imagine Heaven and Hell neighbours, and conceive a vicinity between those two extreames, upon consequence of the Parable, where Dives discoursed with Lazarus in Abrahams bosome, do too grossely conceive of those glorified creatures, whose eyes shall easily out-see the Sunne, and behold without a Perspective, the extremist distances: for if there shall be in our glorified eyes, the faculty of sight & receptiõ of objects I could thinke the visible species there to be in as unlimitable a way as now the intellectuall. I grant that two bodies placed beyond the tenth Spheare, or in a vacuity, according to Aristotles Philosophy, could not behold each other, because there wants a body or Medium to hand and transport the visible rayes of the object unto the sense; but when there shall be a generall defect of either Medium to convey, or light to prepare & dispose that Medium, and yet a perfect vision, wee must suspend the rules of our Philosophy, and make all good by a more absolute piece of Opticks.
I cannot tell how to say that fire is the essence of hell, I know not what to make of Purgatory, or conceive a flame that can either prey upon, or8 purifie the substance of a soule;K96 those flames of sulphure mentioned in the Scriptures, I take not to be understood of this present Hell, but of that to come, where fire shall make up the complement of our tortures, & have a body or subject wherein to manifest its tyranny: Some who have had the honour to be textuarie in Divinity, are of opinion it shall be the same specificall fire with ours. This is hard to conceive, yet can I make good how even that may prey upon our bodies, and yet not consume us: for in this materiall world, there are bodies that persist invincible in the powerfullest flames, and though by the action of fire they fall into ignition and liquation, yet will they never suffer a destruction: I would gladly know how Moses with an actuall fire calcin'd, or burnt the golden Calfe into powder: for that mysticall mettle of gold, whose solary and celestiall nature I admire, exposed unto the violence of fire, grows onely hot and liquifies, but consumeth not: so when the consumable and volatile pieces of our bodies shall be refined into a more impregnable and fixed temper like gold, though they suffer from the action of flames, they shall never perish, but lie immortall in the armes of fire. And surely if this frame must suffer onely by the action of this element, there will many bodies escape, and not onely Heaven, but earth will not bee at an end, but rather a beginning; For at present it is not earth, but a composition of fire, water, earth, and aire; but at that time spoyled of these ingredients, it shall appeare in a substance more like it selfe, its ashes. Philosophers that opinioned the worlds destruction by fire, did never dreame of annihilation, which is beyond the power of sublunary causes; for the last and proper action of that element is but vitrification or a reduction of a body into Glasse; & therefore some of our Chymicks facetiously affirm, that at the last fire all shall be crystallized & reverberated into glasse, which is the utmost action of that element. Nor need we fear this term [annihilation] or wonder that God will destroy the workes of his Creation: for man subsisting, who is, and will then truely appeare a Microcosme, the world cannot bee said to be destroyed. For the eyes of God, and perhaps also of our glorified selves, shall as really behold and contemplate the world in its Epitome or contracted essence, as now it doth at large and in its dilated substance. In the seed of a Plant to the eyes of God, and to the understanding of man, there exists, though in an invisible way, the perfect leaves, flowers, and fruit thereof: (for things that are in posse to the sense, are actually existent to the understanding.) Thus God beholds all things, who contemplates as fully his workes in their Epitome, as in their full volume, and beheld as amply the whole world in that little compendium of the sixth day, as in the scattered and dilated pieces of those five before.
Men commonly set forth the torments of Hell by fire, and the extremity of corporall afflictions, and describe Hell in the same method that Mahomet doth Heaven. This indeed makes a noyse, and drums in popular eares: but if this be the terrible piece thereof, it is not worthy to stand in diameter with Heaven, whose happinesse consists in that part that is best able to comprehend it, that immortall essence, that translated divinity and colony of God, the soule. Surely though wee place Hell under earth, the Devils walke and purlue is about it; men speake too popularly who place it in those flaming mountaines, which to grosser apprehensions represent Hell. The heart of man is the place the devill dwels in; I feele somtimes a hell within my selfe, Lucifer keeps his court in my brest, Legion is revived in me. There are as many hels as Anaxagoras conceited worlds;K97 there was more than one hell in Magdalen, when there were seven devils; for every devill is an hell unto himselfe: hee holds enough of torture in his owne ubi, and needs not the misery of circumference to afflict him, and thus a distracted conscience here is a shadow or introduction unto hell hereafter; Who can but pity the mercifull intention of those hands that doe destroy themselves? the devill were it in his power would doe the like, which being impossible his miseries are endlesse, and he suffers most in that attribute wherein he is impassible, his immortality.
I thanke God, and with joy I mention it, I was never afraid of Hell, nor never grew pale at the description of that place; I have so fixed my contemplations on Heaven, that I have almost forgot the Idea of Hell, and am afraid rather to lose the joyes of the one than endure the misery of the other; to be deprived of them is a perfect hell, & needs me thinkes no addition to compleate our afflictions; that terrible terme hath never detained me from sin, nor do I owe any good action to the name thereof: I feare God, yet am not afraid of him, his mercies make me ashamed of my sins, before his judgements afraid thereof: these are the forced and secondary method of his wisedome, which he useth but as the last remedy, and upon provocation, a course rather to deterre the wicked, than incite the vertuous to his worship. I can hardly thinke there was ever any scared into Heaven, they goe the fairest way to Heaven, that would serve God without a Hell, other Mercenaries that crouch unto him in feare of Hell, though they terme themselves the servants, are indeed but the slaves of the Almighty.
And to be true, and speake my soule, when I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abysse and masse of mercies, either in generall to mankind, or in particular to my selfe; and whether out of the prejudice of my affection, or an inverting and partiall conceit of his mercies, I know not, but those which others terme crosses, afflictions, judgements, misfortunes, to me who enquire farther into them than their visible effects, they both appeare, and in event have ever proved the secret and dissembled favours of his affection. It is a singular piece of wisedome to apprehend truly, and without passion the workes of God, and so well to distinguish his justice from his mercy, as not to miscall those noble attributes; yet it is likewise an honest piece of Logick so to dispute and argue the proceedings of God, as to distinguish even his judgements into mercies. For God is mercifull unto all, because better to the worst, than the best deserve, and to say he punisheth none in this world, though it be a Paradox, is no absurdity. To one that hath committed murther, if the Judge should onely ordaine a Fine, it were a madnesse to call this a punishment, and to repine at the sentence, rather than admire the clemency of the Judge. Thus our offences being mortall, and deserving not onely death, but damnation, if the goodnesse of God be content to traverse and passe them over with a losse, misfortune, or disease; what frensie were it to terme this a punishment, rather than an extremity of mercy, and to groane under the rod of his judgements, rather than admire the Scepter of his mercies? Therefore to adore, honour, and admire him, is a debt of gratitude due from the obligation of our nature, states, and conditions; and with these thoughts, he that knowes them best, will not deny that I adore him; that I obtaine Heaven, and the blisse thereof, is accidentall, and not the intended worke of my devotion, it being a felicitie I can neither thinke to deserve, nor scarce in modesty to expect. For these two ends of us all, either as rewards or punishments, are mercifully ordained and disproportionally disposed unto our actions, the one being so far beyond our deserts, the other so infinitely below our demerits.
There is no salvation to those that beleeve not in Christ, that is, say some, since his Nativity, and as Divinity affirmeth, before also; which makes me much apprehend the end of those honest Worthies and Philosophers which died before his Incarnation. It is hard to place those soules in HellK98 whose worthy lives doe teach us vertue on earth; methinks amongst those many subdivisions of hell, there might have bin one Limbo left for these: What a strange vision will it be to see their poeticall fictions converted into verities, & their imagined & fancied Furies, into reall Devils? how strange to them will sound the Historyof Adam, when they shall suffer for him they never heard of? when they derive their Genealogy from the Gods, shall know they are the unhappy issue of sinfull man? It is an insolent part of reason to controvert the works of God, or question the justice of his proceedings; Could humility teach others, as it hath instructed me, to contemplate the infinite and incomprehensible distance betwixt the Creator and the creature, or did wee seriously perpend that one Simile of Saint Paul, Shall the vessell say to the Potter, Why hast thou made me thus? it would prevent these arrogant disputes of reason, nor would wee argue the definitive sentence of God, either to Heaven or Hell. Men that live according to the right rule and law of reason, live but in their owne kinde, as beasts doe in theirs; who justly obey the prescript of their natures, and therefore cannot reasonably demand a reward of their actions, as onely obeying the naturall dictates of their reason. It will therefore, and must at last appeare, that all salvation is through Christ; which verity I feare these great examples of vertue must confirme, and make it good, how the perfectest actions of earth have no title or claime unto Heaven.
Nor truely doe I thinke the lives of these or of any other were ever correspondent, or in all points conformable unto their doctrines; it is evident that Aristotle transgressed the rule of his owne Ethicks;K99 the Stoicks that condemne passion, and command a man to laugh in Phalaris his Bull, could not endure without a groane a fit of the stone or collick. The Scepticks that affirmed they know nothing,K100 even in that opinion confute themselves, and thought they knew more than all the world beside. Diogenes I hold to bee the most vaineglorious man of his time, and more ambitious in refusing all honours, than Alexander in rejecting none. Vice and the Devill put a fallacie upon our reasons and provoking us too hastily to run from it, entangle and profound us deeper in it. The Duke of Venice, that weds himselfe unto the Sea, by a ring of Gold,K101 I will not argue of prodigality, because it is a solemnity of good use and consequence in the State. But the Philosopher that threw his money into the Sea to avoyd avarice, was a notorious prodigal. There is no road or ready way to vertue, it is not an easie point of art to disentangle our selves from this riddle, or web of sin: To perfect vertue, as to Religion, there is required a Panoplia or compleat armour, that whilst we lye at close ward against one vice we lye open to the vennie of another: And indeed wiser discretions that have the thred of reason to conduct them, offend without a pardon; whereas under heads may stumble without dishonour. There goe so many circumstances to piece up one good action,K102 that it is a lesson to be good, and wee are forced to be vertuous by the booke. Againe, the practice of men holds not an equall pace, yea, and often runnes counter to their Theory; we naturally know what is good, but naturally pursue what is evill: the Rhetoricke wherewith I perswade another cannot perswade my selfe: there is a depraved appetite in us, that will with patience heare the learned instructions of Reason; but yet performe no farther than agrees to its owne irregular Humour. In briefe, we all are monsters, that is, a composition of man and beast, wherein we must endeavour to be as the Poets fancy that wise man Chiron, that is, to have the Region of Man above that of Beast, and sense to sit but at the feete of reason. Lastly, I doe desire with God, that all, but yet affirme with men, that few shall know salvation, that the bridge is narrow, the passage straite unto life; yet those who doe confine the Church of God, either to particular Nations, Churches, or Families, have made it farre narrower than our Saviour ever meant it.
The vulgarity of those judgements that wrap the Church of God in Strabo's cloake and restraine it unto Europe,K103 seeme to mee as bad Geographers as Alexander, who thought hee had conquer'd all the world when hee not subdued the halfe of any part thereof: For wee cannot deny the Church of God both in Asia and Africa, if we doe not forget the peregrinations of the Apostles, the death of their Martyrs, the sessions of many, and even in our reformed judgement lawfull councells held in those parts in the minoritie and nonage of ours: nor must a few differences more remarkable in the eyes of man than perhaps in the judgement of God, excommunicate from heaven one another, much lesse those Christians who are in a manner all Martyrs, maintaining their faith in the noble way of persecution, and serving God in the fire, whereas we honour him but in the Sunshine. 'Tis true we all hold there is a number of Elect and many to be saved, yet take our opinions together, and from the confusion thereof there will be no such thing as salvation, nor shall any one be saved; for first the Church of Rome condemneth us, wee likewise them, the Sub-reformists and Sectaries sentence the Doctrine of our Church as damnable, the Atomist, or Familist reprobates all these, and all these them againe. Thus whilst the mercies of God doth promise us heaven, our conceits and opinions exclude us from that place. There must be therefore more than one Saint Peter, particular Churches and Sects usurpe the gates of heaven, and turne the key against each other, and thus we goe to heaven against each others wills, conceits and opinions, and with as much uncharity as ignorance, doe erre I feare in points, not onely of our own, but on anothers salvation.
I beleeve many are saved who to man seeme reprobated, and many are reprobated, who in the opinion and sentence of man, stand elected; there will appeare at the last day, strange, and unexpected examples, both of his justice and his mercy, and therefore to define either is folly in man, and insolency, even in the devils; those acute and subtill spirits, in all their sagacity, can hardly divine who shall be saved, which if they could prognostick, their labour were at an end; nor need they compasse the earth, seeking whom they may devoure. Those who upon a rigid application of the Law, sentence Solomon unto damnation,K104 condemne not onely him, but themselves, and the whole world; for by the letter, and written Word of God, we are without exception in the state of death, but there is a prerogative of God, and an arbitrary pleasure above the letter of his owne Law, by which alone wee can pretend unto salvation, and through which Solomon might be as easily saved as those who condemne him.
The number of those who pretend unto salvation, and those infinite swarmes who thinke to passe through the eye of this Needle, have much amazed me. That name and compellation of little Flocke, doth not comfort but deject my devotion, especially when I reflect upon mine owne unworthinesse, wherein, according to my humble apprehensions, I am below them all. I beleeve there shall never be an Anarchy in Heaven, but as there are Hierarchies amongst the Angels, so shall there be degrees of priority amongst the Saints. Yet is it (I protest) beyond my ambition to aspire unto the first rankes, my desires onely are, and I shall be happy therein, to be but the last man, and bring up the Rere in Heaven.
Againe, I am confident, and fully perswaded, yet dare not take my oath of my salvation; I am as it were sure, and do beleeve, without all doubt, that there is such a City as Constantinople, yet for me to take my oath thereon, were a kinde of perjury, because I hold no infallible warrant from my owne sense to confirme me in the certainty thereof. And truely, though many pretend an absolute certainty of their salvation, yet when an humble soule shall contemplate her owne unworthinesse, she shall meete with many doubts and suddainely finde how little wee stand in need of the precept of Saint Paul, Worke out your salvation with feare and trembling. That which is the cause of my election, I hold to be the cause of my salvation, which was the mercy, and beneplacit of God, before I was, or the foundation of the world. Before Abraham was, I am, is the saying of Christ, yet is it true in some sense if I say it of my selfe, for I was not onely before my selfe, but Adam, that is, in the Idea of God, and the decree of that Synod held from all Eternity. And in this sense, I say, the world was before the Creation, and at an end before it had a beginning; and thus was I dead before I was alive, though my grave be England, my dying place was Paradise, and Eve miscarried of mee before she conceiv'd of Cain.
Insolent zeales that doe decry good workes and rely onely upon faith, take not away merit: for depending upon the efficacy of their faith, they enforce the condition of God, and in a more sophisticall way doe seeme to challenge Heaven. It was decreed by God, that onely those that lapt in the water like dogges, should have the honour to destroy the Midianites, yet could none of those justly challenge, or imagine hee deserved that honour thereupon. I doe not deny, but that true faith, and such as God requires, is not onely a marke or token, but also a meanes of our Salvation, but where to finde this, is as obscure to me, as my last end. And if our Saviour could object unto his owne Disciples, & favourites, a faith, that to the quantity of a graine of Mustard seed, is able to remove mountaines; surely that which wee boast of, is not any thing, or at the most, but a remove from nothing. This is the Tenor of my beleefe, wherein, though there be many things singular, and to the humour of my irregular selfe, yet, if they square not with maturer Judgements, I disclaime them, and doe no further father them, than the learned and best Judgements shall authorize them.
The second part.
NOW for that other Vertue of Charity, without which Faith is a meer notion, and of no existence, I have ever endeavoured to nourish the mercifull disposition, and humane inclination I borrowed from my Parents, and regulate it to the written and prescribed Lawes of Charity; and if I hold the true Anatomy of my selfe, I am delineated & naturally framed to such a piece of vertue: for I am of a constitution so generall, that it consorts, and sympathizeth with all things; I have no antipathy, or rather Idio-syncrasie, in dyet, humour, ayre, any thing; I wonder not at the French, for their dishes of frogges, snailes, and toadstooles,K105 nor at the Jewes for Locusts and Grasse-hoppers, but being amongst them, make them my common viands; and I finde they agree with my stomach as well as theirs; I could digest a Sallad gathered in a Church-yard, as well as in a Garden. I cannot start at the presence of a Serpent, Scorpion, Lizard, or Salamander; at the sight of a Toad, or Viper, I finde in me no desire to take up a stone to destroy them. I feele not in my selfe those common antipathies that I can discover in others: Those nationall repugnances doe not touch me, nor doe I behold with prejudice the French, Italian, Spaniard, or Dutch; but where I finde their actions in ballance with my Countrey-mens, I honour, love, and embrace them in the same degree; I was borne in the eighth Climate, but seeme for to bee framed, and constellated unto all; I am no Plant that will not prosper out of a Garden. All places, all ayres make unto me one Country; I am in England, every where, and under any meridian; I have beene shipwrackt, yet am not enemy with the sea or winds; I can study, play, or sleepe in a tempest. In briefe, I am averse from nothing, my conscience would give me the lie if I should say I absolutely detest or hate any essence but the Devill, or so at least abhorre any thing but that wee might come to composition. If there be any among those common objects of hatred I doe contemne and laugh at, it is that great enemy of reason, vertue and religion, the multitude, that numerous piece of monstrosity, which taken asunder seeme men, and the reasonable creatures of God; but confused together, make but one great beast, & a monstrosity more prodigious than Hydra; it is no breach of Charity to call these fooles, it is the stile all holy Writers have afforded them, set downe by Solomon in canonicall Scripture, and a point of our faith to beleeve so. Neither in the name of multitude doe I onely include the base and minor sort of people; there is a rabble even amongst the Gentry, a sort of Plebeian heads, whose fancy moves with the same wheele as these; men in the same Levell with Mechanickes, though their fortunes doe somewhat guild their infirmities, and their purses compound for their follies. But as in casting account, three or foure men together come short in account of one man placed by himself below them: So neither are a troope of these ignorant Doradoes, of that true esteeme and value, as many a forlorne person, whose condition doth place them below their feet. Let us speake like Politicians, there is a Nobility without Heraldry, a naturall dignity, whereby one man is ranked with another, another Filed before him, according to the quality of his desert, and preheminence of his good parts. Though the corruption of these times, and the byas of present practise wheele another way, thus it was in the first and primitive Common-wealths, and is yet in the integrity and Cradle of well-ordered polities, till corruption getteth ground, ruder desires labouring after that wch wiser considerations contemn, every one having a liberty to amasse & heape up riches, and they a license or faculty to doe or purchase any thing.
This generall and indifferent temper of mine, doth more neerely dispose mee to this noble vertue. It is a happinesse to be borne and framed unto vertue, and to grow up from the seeds of nature, rather than the inoculation and forced graffes of education; yet if we are directed only by our particular Natures, and regulate our inclinations by no higher rule than that of our reasons, we are but Moralists; Divinity will still call us Heathens. Therfore this great worke of charity, must have other motives, ends, and impulsions: I give no almes to satisfie the hunger of my Brother, but to fulfill and accomplish the Will and Command of my God; I draw not my purse for his sake that demands it, but his that enjoyned it; I relieve no man upon the Rhetorick of his miseries, nor to content mine own commiserating disposition, for this is still but morall charity, and an act that oweth more to passion than reason. Hee that relieves another upon the bare suggestion and bowels of pity, doth not this so much for his sake as for his own: for by compassion we make anothers misery our own, & so by relieving them, we relieve our selves also. It is as erroneous a conceite to redresse other mens misfortunes upon the common considerations of mercifull natures, that it may bee one day our owne case, for this is a sinister and politick kind of charity, wherby we seem to bespeak the pities of men, in the like occasions; and truly I have observed that those professed Eleemosynaries, though in a croud or multitude, doe yet direct and place their petitions on a few and selected persons; there is surely a Physiognomy, which those experienced and Master Mendicants observe, whereby they instantly discover a mercifull aspect, and will single out a face, wherein they spy the signatures and markes of mercy: for there are mystically in our faces certaine characters which carry in them the motto of our Soules, wherein he that cannot read A.B.C. may read our natures. I hold moreover that there is a Phytognomy, or Physiognomy, not onely of men, but of Plants, and Vegetables; and in every one of them, some outward figures which hang as signes or bushes of their inward formes. The finger of God hath left an inscription upon all his workes, not graphicall or composed of Letters, but of their severall formes, constitutions, parts, and operations, which aptly joyned together doe make one word that doth expresse their natures. By these Letters God cals the Starres by their names, and by this Alphabet Adam assigned to every creature a name peculiar to its Nature. Now there are besides these Characters in our faces, certaine mysticall figures in our hands, which I dare not call meere dashes, strokes, a la volee, or at randome, because delineated by a pencill, that never workes in vaine; and hereof I take more particular notice, because I carry that in mine owne hand, which I could never read of, nor discover in another. Aristotle, I confesse, in his acute, and singular booke of Physiognomy, hath made no mention of Chiromancy, yet I beleeve the Egyptians, who were neerer addicted to those abstruse and mysticall sciences, had a knowledge therein, to which those vagabond and counterfeit Egyptians did after pretend, and perhaps retained a few corrupted principles, which sometimes might verifie their prognostickes.
It is the common wonder of all men, how among so many millions of faces, there should be none alike;K106 Now contrary, I wonder as much how there should be any; he that shall consider how many thousand severall words have beene carelessly and without study composed out of 24. Letters; withall how many hundred lines there are to be drawn in the fabrick of one man; shall easily finde that this variety is necessary: And it will bee very hard that they shall so concur as to make one portract like another. Let a Painter carelessly limbe out a Million of faces, and you shall finde them all different, yea let him have his copy before him, yet after all his art there will remaine a sensible distinction; for the patterne or example of every thing is the perfectest in that kind, whereof wee still come short, though wee transcend or goe beyond it, because herein it is wide and agrees not in all points unto its Copy. Nor doth the similitude of creatures disparage the variety of nature, nor any way confound the workes of God. For even in things alike, there is diversitie, and those that doe seeme to accord,9 doe manifestly disagree. And thus is Man like God, for in the same things that wee resemble him, wee are utterly different from him. There was never any thing so like another, as in all points to concurre, there will ever some reserved difference slip in, to prevent the Identity, without which, two severall things would not be alike, but the same, which is impossible.
But to returne from Philosophy to Charity, I hold not so narrow a conceit of this vertue, as to conceive that to give almes, is onely to be Charitable, or thinke a piece of Liberality can comprehend the Totall of Charity; Divinity hath wisely divided the act thereof into many branches, and hath taught us in this narrow way, many pathes unto goodnesse; as many wayes as we may doe good, so many wayes we may bee Charitable; there are infirmities, not onely of body, but of soule, and fortunes, which doe require the mercifull hand of our abilities. I cannot contemn a man for ignorance but behold him with as much pity as I doe Lazarus. It is no greater Charity to cloath his body, than apparell the nakednesse of his Soule. It is an honourable object to see the reasons of other men weare our Liveries, and their borrowed understandings doe homage to the bounty of ours. It is the cheapest way of beneficence, and like the naturall charity of the Sunne illuminates another without obscuring it selfe. To be reserved and caitif in this part of goodnesse, is the sordidest piece of covetousnesse, and more contemptible than the pecuniary avarice. To this (as calling my selfe a Scholler) I am obliged by the duty of my condition, I make not therefore my head a grave, but a treasure of knowledge; I intend no Monopoly, but a Community in learning; I study not for my owne sake onely, but for theirs that study not for themselves. I envy no man that knowes more than my selfe, but pity them that know lesse. I instruct no man as an exercise of my knowledge, or with an intent rather to nourish and keepe it alive in mine owne head, than beget and propagate it in his; and in the midst of all my endeavours there is but one thought that dejects me, that my acquired parts must perish with my selfe, nor can bee Legacyed among my honoured Friends. I cannot fall out or contemne a man for an errour, or conceive why a difference in opinion should divide an affection: for controversies, disputes, and argumentations, both in Philosophy, and in Divinity, if they meete with discreet and peaceable natures, doe not infringe the Lawes of Charity in all disputes; so much as there is of passion, so much there is of nothing to the purpose, for then reason like a bad hound spends upon a false sent, and forsakes the question first started. And this is one reason why controversies are never determined, for though they be amply proposed, they are scarce at all handled, they doe so swell with unnecessary Digressions, and the Parenthesis on the party, is often as large as the maine discourse upon the Subject. The Foundations of Religion are already established, and the principles of Salvation subscribed unto by all, there remaines not many controversies worth a passion, and yet never any disputed without, not onely in Divinity, but in inferiour Arts: What a batroco-muomacia, and hot skirmish is betwixt S. and T. in Lucian?K107 *How doth Grammarians hack and slash for the Genitive case in Jupiter. How doe they breake their owne pates to salve that of Priscian? Si foret in terris, rideret Democritus. Yea, even amongst wiser militants, how many wounds have beene given, and credits slaine for the poore victory of an opinion or beggerly conquest of a distinction? Schollers are men of peace, they beare no armes, but their tongues are sharper than Actius his razor,K108 their pens carry farther, and give a lowder report than thunder; I had rather stand in the shock of a Basilisco than in the fury of a mercilesse Pen. It is not meere zeale to Learning, or devotion to the Muses, that wiser Princes Patron the Arts, and carry an indulgent aspect unto Schollers, but a desire to have their names eternized by the memory of their writings,K109 and a feare of the revengefull pen of succeeding ages: for these are the men, that when they have played their parts, and had their exits, must step out and give the morall of their Scenes, and deliver unto posterity an Inventory of their vertues and vices. And surely there goes a great deale of conscience to the compiling of an History, there is no reproach to the scandall of a Story; It is such an Authenticke kinde of falsehood that with authority belies our good names to all Nations and Posteritie.
* Whether Jovis or Jupiteris.
There is another offence unto Charity, which no Author hath ever written of, and few take notice of, and that's the reproach, not of whole professions, mysteries and conditions, but of whole nations, wherein by opprobrious Epithets wee miscall each other, and by an uncharitable Logicke from a disposition in a few conclude a habit in all.
Le mutin Anglois, et le bravache Escossois;
Le bougre Italien, et le fol Francois;
Le poultron Romain, le larron de Gascongne,
L'Espagnol superbe, et l' Aleman yurongne.
Saint Paul that cals the Cretians lyers, doth it but indirectly and upon quotation of their owne Poet.K110 It is as bloody a thought in one way as Neroes was in another.K111 For by a word wee wound a thousand, and at one blow assassine the honour of a Nation. It is as compleate a piece of madnesse to miscall and rave against the times, or thinke to recall men to reason, by a fit of passion: Democritus that thought to laugh the times into goodnesse, seemes to me as deeply Hypochondriack, as Heraclitus that bewailed them; it moves not my spleene to behold the multitude in their proper humours, that is, in their fits of folly and madnesse, as well understanding that Wisedome is not prophan'd unto the World, and 'tis the priviledge of a few to be vertuous. They that endeavour to abolish vice destroy also vertue, for contraries, though they destroy one another, are yet the life of one another. Thus vertue (abolish vice) is an Idea; againe, the communitie of sinne doth not disparage goodnesse; for when vice gaines upon the major part, vertue, in whom it remaines, becomes more excellent, and being lost in some, multiplies its goodnesse in others which remaine untouched, and persists intire in the generall inundation. I can therefore behold vice without a Satyre, content onely10 with an admonition, or instructive reprehension; for Noble natures, and such as are capable of goodnesse, are railed into vice, that might as easily bee admonished into vertue; and we should be all so farre the Orators of goodnesse, as to protect her from the power of vice, and maintaine the cause of injured truth. No man can justly censure or condemne another, because indeed no man truely knowes another. This I perceive in my selfe, for I am in the darke to all the world, and my nearest friends behold mee but in a cloud, those that know mee but superficially, thinke lesse of me than I doe of my selfe; those of my neere acquaintance thinke more; God, who truely knowes me, knowes that I am nothing, for hee onely beholds me, and all the world, who lookes not on us through a derived ray, or a trajection of a sensible species, but beholds the substance without the helpes of accidents, and the formes of things, as wee their operations. Further, no man can judge another, because no man knowes himselfe, for we censure others but as they disagree from that humour which wee fancy laudable in our selves, and commend others but for that wherein they seeme to quadrate and consent with us. So that in conclusion, all is but that we all condemne, selfe-love. 'Tis the generall complaint of these times, and perhaps of those past, that charity growes cold; which I perceive most verified in those which most doe manifest the fires and flames of zeale; for it is a vertue that best agrees with coldest natures, and such as are complexioned for humility: But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to our selves? Charity begins at home, is the voyce of the world, yet is every man his greatest enemy, and as it were, his owne executioner. Non occides, is the Commandement of God, yet scarce observed by any man; for I perceive every man is his owne Atropos, and lends a hand to cut the thred of his owne dayes. Cain was not therefore the first murtherer, but Adam, who brought in death; whereof hee beheld the practise and example in his owne sonne Abel, and saw that verified in the experience of another,11 which faith could not perswade him in the Theory of himselfe.
There is I thinke no man that apprehends his owne miseries lesse than my selfe, and no man that so neerely apprehends anothers. I could lose an arme without a teare, and with few groans, mee thinkes, be quartered into pieces; yet can I weepe most seriously at a Play, and receive with a true passion, the counterfeit griefes of those knowne and professed impostures. It is a barbarous part of inhumanity to adde unto any afflicted parties misery, or endeavour to multiply in any man, a passion, whose single nature is already above his patience; this was the greatest affliction of Job, and those oblique expostulations of his friends a deeper injury than the downe-right blowes of the Devill. It is not the teares of our owne eyes onely, but of our friends also, that doe exhaust the current of our sorrowes, which falling into many streames, runne more peaceably, and is contented with a narrower channel. It is an act within the power of charity, to translate a passion out of one breast into another, and to divide a sorrow almost out of it selfe; for an affliction like a dimension may be so divided, as if not indivisible, at least to become insensible. Now with my friend I desire not to share or participate, but to engrosse his sorrowes, that by making them mine owne, I may more easily discusse them; for in mine owne reason, and within my selfe I can command that, which I cannot entreate without my selfe, and within the circle of another. I have often thought those Noble paires and examples of friendship not so truely Histories of what had beene, as fictions of what should be, but I now perceive nothing in them, but possibilities, nor any thing in the Heroick examples of Damon and Pythias, Achilles and Patroclus, which mee thinkes upon some grounds I could not performe within the narrow compasse of my selfe. That a man should lay down his life for his friend, seemes strange to vulgar affections, and such as confine themselves within that worldly principle, Charity beginnes at home. For mine owne part I could never remember the relations that I held unto my selfe, nor the respect that I owe unto mine owne nature, in the cause of God, my Country, and my Friends. Next to these three, I doe embrace my selfe; I confesse that I doe not observe that order that the Schooles ordaine our affections, to love our Parents, Wifes, Children, and then our Friends, for excepting the injunctions of Religion, I doe not find in my selfe such a necessary and indissoluble Sympathy to all those of my bloud. I hope I doe not breake the fifth Commandement, if I conceive I may love my friend before the nearest of my bloud, even those to whom I owe the principles of life; I never yet cast a true affection on a Woman, but I have loved my Friend as I do vertue, my soule, my God. From hence me thinkes I doe conceive how God loves man, what happinesse there is in the love of God. Omitting all other, there are three most mysticall unions; Two natures in one person; three persons in one nature; one soule in two bodies. For though indeed they bee really divided, yet are they so united, as they seeme but one, and make rather a duality then two distinct soules.
There are wonders in true affection, it is a body of Ænigmaes, mysteries and riddles, wherein two so become one, as they both become two; I love my friend before my selfe, and yet me thinkes I do not love him enough; some few months hence my multiplyed affection will make me beleeve I have not loved him at all, when I am from him, I am dead till I bee with him, when I am with him, I am not satisfied, but would still be nearer him: united soules are not satisfied with embraces, but desire to be truely each other, which being impossible, their desires are infinite, and must proceed without a possibility of satisfaction. Another misery there is in affection, that whom we truely love like our owne, wee forget their lookes, nor can our memory retaine the Idea of their faces; and it is no wonder, for they are our selves, and our affections makes their lookes our owne. This noble affection fals not on vulgar and common constitutions, but on such as are mark'd for vertue; he that can love his friend with this noble ardour, will in a competent degree affect all. Now if wee can bring our affections to looke beyond the body, and cast an eye upon the soule, wee have found out the true object, not onely of friendship but charity; and the greatest happinesse that wee can bequeath the soule, is that wherein we all doe place our last felicity, Salvation, which though it bee not in our power to bestow, it is in our charity, and pious invocations to desire, if not procure, and further. I cannot contentedly frame a Prayer for my selfe in particular, without a catalogue for my friends, nor request a happinesse wherein my sociable disposition doth not desire the fellowship of my neighbour. I never heare the Toll of a passing Bell, though in my mirth, without my prayers and best wishes for the departing spirit; I cannot goe to cure the body of my Patient, but I forget my profession, and call unto God for his soule; I cannot see one say his Prayers, but in stead of imitating him, I fall into a supplication for him, who perhaps is no more to mee than a common nature: and if God hath vouchsafed an eare to my supplications, there are surely many happy that never saw me, and enjoy the blessing of mine unknowne devotions. To pray for enemies, that is, for their salvation, is no harsh precept, but the practise of our daily and ordinary devotions. I cannot beleeve the story of the Italian,K112 our bad wishes and uncharitable desires proceed no further than this life; it is the Devill, and the uncharitable votes of Hell, that desire our misery in the world to come.
To doe no injury, nor take none, was a principle, which to my former yeares, and impatient affections, seemed to containe enough of morality, but my more setled yeares and Christian constitution have fallen upon severer resolutions. I can hold there is no such thing as injury, that if there be, there is no such injury as revenge, and no such revenge as the contempt of an injury; that to hate another, is to maligne himselfe, that the truest way to love another, is to despise our selves. I were unjust unto mine owne conscience, if I should12 say I am at variance with any thing like my selfe, I finde there are many pieces in this one fabricke of man; this frame is raised upon a masse of Antipathies: I am one mee thinkes, but as the world; wherein notwithstanding there are a swarme of distinct essences, and in them another world of contrarieties; wee carry private and domesticke enemies within, publike and more hostile adversaries without. The Devill that did but buffet Saint Paul, playes mee thinkes at sharpe with me: Let mee be nothing if within the compasse of my selfe, I doe not find the battell of Lepanto, passion against reason, reason against faith, faith against the Devill, and my conscience against all. There is another man within mee that's angry with mee, rebukes, commands, and dastards mee. I have no conscience of Marble to resist the hammer of more heavie offences, nor yet so soft and waxen, as to take the impression of each single peccadillo or scape of infirmity: I am of a strange beliefe, that it is as easie to be forgiven some sinnes, as to commit some others. For my originall sinne, I hold it to be washed away in my Baptisme; for my actuall transgressions, I compute and reckon with God, but from my last repentance, Sacrament or generall absolution: And therefore am not terrified with the sinnes or madnesse of my youth. I thanke the goodnesse of God I have no sinnes that want a name,K113 I am not singular in offences, my transgressions are Epidemicall, and from the common breath of our corruption. For there are certaine tempers of body, which matcht with an humorous depravity of mind, doe hatch and produce viciosities, whose newnesse and monstrosity of nature admits no name; this was the temper of that Lecher that carnald with a Statua,K114 and the constitution of Nero in his Spintrian recreations.K115 For the heavens are not onely fruitfull in new and unheard of starres, the earth in plants and animals, but mens minds also in villany and vices; now the dulnesse of my reason, and the vulgarity of my disposition, never prompted my invention, nor sollicited my affection unto any of these; yet even those common and quotidian infirmities that so necessarily attend me, and doe seeme to bee my very nature, have so dejected me, so broken the estimation that I should have otherwise of my selfe, that I repute my selfe the most abjectest piece of mortality: Divines prescribe a fit of sorrow to repentance, there goes indignation, anger, sorrow, hatred, into mine, passions of a contrary nature, which neither seeme to sute with this action, nor my proper constitution. It is no breach of charity to our selves to be at variance with our vices, nor to abhorre that part of us, which is an enemy to the ground of charity, our God; wherein wee doe but imitate our great selves the world, whose divided Antipathies and contrary faces doe yet carry a charitable regard unto the whole by their particular discords, preserving the common harmony, and keeping in fetters those powers, whose rebellions once Masters, might bee the ruine of all.
I thanke God, amongst those millions of vices I doe inherit and hold from Adam, I have escaped one, and that a mortall enemy to charity, the first and father sin, not only of man, but of the devil, Pride, a vice whose name is comprehended in a Monosyllable, but in its nature circumscribed not with a world; I have escaped it in a condition that can hardly avoid it: those petty acquisitions and reputed perfections that advance and elevate the conceits of other men, adde no feathers unto mine; I have seene a Grammarian toure, and plume himselfe over a single line in Horace, and shew more pride in the construction of one Ode, than the Author in the composure of the whole book.K116 For my owne part, besides the Jargon and Patois of severall Provinces, I understand no lesse then six Languages, yet I protest I have no higher conceit of my selfe than had our Fathers before the confusion of Babel, when there was but one Language in the world, and none to boast himselfe either Linguist or Criticke. I have not onely seene severall Countries, beheld the nature of their climes, the Chorography of their Provinces, Topography of their Cities, but understood their severall Lawes, Customes and Policies; yet cannot all this perswade the dulnesse of my spirit unto such an opinion of my self, as I behold in nimbler & conceited heads, that never looked a degree beyond their nests. I know the names, and somewhat more, of all the constellations in my Horizon, yet I have seene a prating Mariner that could onely name the Poynters and the North Starre, out-talke mee, and conceit himselfe a whole Spheare above mee. I know most of the Plants of my Country and of those about mee; yet me thinkes I do not know so many as when I did but know an hundred, and had scarcely ever Simpled further than Cheap-side: for indeed heads of capacity, and such as are not full with a handfull, or easie measure of knowledg, thinke they know nothing, till they know all, which being impossible, they fall upon the opinion of Socrates, and onely know they know not any thing. I cannot thinke that Homer pin'd away upon the riddle of the Fisherman,K117 or that Aristotle, who understood the uncertainty of knowledge, and confessed so often the reason of man too weake for the workes of nature, did ever drowne himselfe upon the flux and reflux of Euripus:K118 wee doe but learne to day, what our better advanced judgements will unteach to morrow: and Aristotle doth but instruct us as Plato did him; that is, to confute himselfe.K119 I have runne through all sorts, yet finde no rest in any, though our first studies & junior endeavors may stile us Peripateticks, Stoicks, or Academicks, yet I perceive the wisest heads prove at last, almost all Scepticks, and stand like Janus in the field of knowledge. I have therefore on[e] common and authentick Philosophy I learned in the Schooles, whereby I discourse and satisfie the reason of other men, another more reserved and drawne from experience, whereby I content mine owne. Solomon that complained of ignorance in the height of knowledge, hath not onely humbled my conceits, but discouraged my endeavours. There is yet another conceit that hath sometimes made me shut my bookes; which tels mee it is a vanity to waste our dayes in the blind pursuit of knowledge, it is but attending a little longer, and wee shall enjoy that by instinct and infusion which we endeavour at here by labour and inquisition: it is better to sit downe in a modest ignorance, & rest contented with the naturall blessing of our owne reasons, then buy the uncertaine knowledge of this life, with sweat and vexation, which death gives every foole gratis, and is an accessary of our glorification.
I was never yet once, and commend their resolutions who never marry twice, not that I disallow of second marriage; as neither in all cases of Polygamy, which considering some times and the unequall number of both sexes may bee also necessary. The whole world was made for man, but the twelfth part of man for woman: man is the whole world and the breath of God, woman the rib and crooked piece of man. I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this triviall and vulgar way of coition; It is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life,K120 nor is there any thing that will more deject his coold imagination, when he shall consider what an odde and unworthy piece of folly hee hath committed; I speake not in prejudice, nor am averse from that sweet sexe, but naturally amorous of all that is beautifull; I can looke a whole day with delight upon a handsome picture, though it be but of an Horse. It is my temper, & I like it the better, to affect all harmony, and sure there is musicke even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, farre sweeter than the sound of an instrument. For there is a musicke where-ever there is a harmony, order or proportion; and thus farre we may maintain the musick of the spheares; for those well ordered motions, and regular paces, though they give no sound unto the eare, yet to the understanding they strike a note most full of harmony. Whatsoever is harmonically composed, delights in harmony; which makes me much distrust the symmetry of those heads which declaime against all Church musicke. For my selfe, not only from my obedience but my particular genius, I doe imbrace it; for even that vulgar and Taverne Musicke, which makes one man merry, another mad, strikes in mee a deepe fit of devotion, and a profound contemplation of the first Composer, there is something in it of Divinity more than the eare discovers. It is an Hieroglyphicall and shadowed lesson of the whole world, and Creatures of God, such a melody to the eare, as the whole world well understood, would afford the understanding. In briefe, it is a sensible fit of that Harmony, which intellectually sounds in the eares of God. I will not say with Plato, the Soule is an Harmony, but harmonicall, and hath its neerest sympathy unto musicke: thus some, whose temper of body agrees, and humours the constitution of their soules, are borne Poets, though indeed all are naturally inclined unto Rhythme. *This made Tacitus in the very first line of his Story, fall upon a verse; and Cicero, the worst of Poets, but **declayming for a Poet, falls in the very first sentence upon a perfect §Hexameter. I feele not in me those sordid, and unchristian desires of my profession, I doe not secretly implore and wish for Plagues, rejoyce at Famines, revolve Ephemerides, and Almanacks, in expectation of malignant Aspects, fatall conjunctions, and Eclipses: I rejoyce not at unwholsome Springs, nor unseasonable Winters; my Prayer goes with the Husbandmans; I desire every thing in its proper season, that neither men nor the times bee out of temper. Let mee be sicke my selfe, if sometimes the malady of my patient be not a disease unto me, I desire rather to cure his infirmities than my own necessities, where I do him no good me thinkes it is scarce honest gaine, though I confesse 'tis but the worthy salary of our well-intended endeavours: I am not onely ashamed, but heartily sorry, that besides death, there are diseases incurable, yet not for my own sake, or that they be beyond my art, but for the general cause & sake of humanity whose common cause I apprehend as mine own: And to speak more generally, those three Noble professions which al civil Common wealths doe honour, are raised upon the fall of Adam, & are not any exempt from their infirmities; there are not onely diseases incurable in Physicke, but cases indissoluble in Lawes, Vices incorrigible in Divinity: if general Councells may erre, I doe not see why particular Courts should be infallible, their perfectest rules are raised upon the erroneous reasons of Man, and the Lawes of one, doe but condemn the rules of another; as Aristotle oft-times the opinions of his predecessours, because, though agreeable to reason, yet were not consonant to his owne rules, and the Logicke of his proper principles. Againe, to speake nothing of the sinne against the Holy Ghost, whose cure not onely, but whose nature is unknowne; I can cure the gout or stone in some, sooner than Divinity, Pride, or Avarice in others. I can cure vices by Physicke, when they remaine incurable by Divinity, and shall obey my pils, when they contemne their precepts. I boast nothing, but plainely say, we all labour against our owne cure, for death is the cure of all diseases. There is no Catholicon or universall remedy I know but this, which thogh nauseous to queasie stomachs, yet to prepared appetites is Nectar and a pleasant potion of immortality.
* Vrbem Romam in principio Reges habuere.
** Pro Archia Poeta.
§ In qua me non inficior mediocriter esse.
[sic: no Sect. 10]
For my conversation, it is like the Sunne's with all men; and with a friendly aspect to good and bad. Me thinkes there is no man bad, and the worst, best; that is, while they are kept within the circle of those qualities, wherein they are good: there is no mans minde of such discordant and jarring a temper to which a tuneable disposition may not strike a harmony. Magnæ virtutes nec minora vitia, it is the posie of the best natures, and may bee inverted on the worst;K121 there are in the most depraved and venemous dispositions, certaine pieces that remaine untoucht; which by an Antiperistasis become more excellent, or by the excellency of their antipathies are able to preserve themselves from the contagion of their enemy vices, and persist entire beyond the generall corruption. For it is also thus in natures. The greatest Balsames doe lie enveloped in the bodies of most powerfull Corrosives; I say moreover, and I ground upon experience, that poysons containe within themselves their own Antidote,K122 and that which preserves them from the venom of themselves; without which they were not deletorious to others onely, but to themselves also. But it is the corruption that I feare within me, not the contagion of commerce without me. 'Tis that unruly regiment within me that will destroy me, 'tis I that doe infect my selfe, the man without a Navell yet lives in me;K123 I feele that originall canker corrode and devoure me, and therefore Defenda me Dios de me, Lord deliver me from my selfe, is a part of my Letany, and the first voyce of my retired imaginations. There is no man alone, because every man is a Microcosme, and carries the whole world about him; Nunquam minus solus quam cum solus, though it bee the Apophthegme of a wise man, is yet true in the mouth of a foole; for indeed, though in a Wildernesse, a man is never alone, not onely because hee is with himselfe, and his owne thoughts, but because he is with the devill, who ever consorts with our solitude, and is that unruly rebell that musters up those disordered motions, which accompany our sequestred imaginations: And to speake more narrowly, there is no such thing as solitude, nor any thing that can be said to be alone, and by it selfe, but God, who is his owne circle, and can subsist by himselfe, all others besides their dissimilary and Heterogeneous parts, which in a manner multiply there natures, cannot subsist without the concourse of God, and the society of that hand which doth uphold their natures. In briefe, there can be nothing truely alone, and by its self, which is not truely one, and such is onely God: All others doe transcend an unity, and so by consequence are many.
Now for my life, it is a miracle of thirty yeares, which to relate, were not a History, but a peece of Poetry, and would sound to common eares like a fable; for the world, I count it not an Inne, but an Hospitall, and a place, not to live, but to die in. The world that I regard is my selfe, it is the Microcosme of mine owne frame, that I cast mine eye on; for the other, I use it but like my Globe, and turne it round sometimes for my recreation. Men that look upon my outside, perusing onely my condition, and fortunes, do erre in my altitude; for I am above Atlas his shoulders. The earth is a point not onely in respect of the heavens above us, but of that heavenly and celestiall part within us: that masse of flesh that circumscribes me, limits not my mind: that surface that tells the heavens it hath an end, cannot perswade me I have any; I take my circle to be above three hundred and sixty, though the number of the Arke do measure my body, it comprehendeth not my minde: whilst I study to finde how I am a Microcosme or little world, I finde my selfe something more than the great. There is surely a peece of Divinity in us, something that was before the Elements, and owes no homage unto the Sun. Nature tels me I am the Image of God as well as Scripture; he that understands not thus much, hath not his introduction or first lesson, and is yet to begin the Alphabet of man. Let me not injure the felicity of others, if I say I am as happy as any, Ruat coelum Fiat voluntas tua, salveth all; so that whatsoever happens, it is but what our daily prayers desire. In briefe, I am content, and what should providence adde more? Surely this is it wee call Happinesse, and this doe I enjoy, with this I am happy in a dreame, and as content to enjoy a happinesse in a fancie as others in a more apparent truth and reality. There is surely a neerer apprehension of any thing that delights us in our dreames, than in our waked senses; without this I were unhappy, for my awaked judgement discontents me, ever whispering unto me, that I am from my friend, but my friendly dreames in the night requite me, and make me thinke I am within his armes. I thanke God for my happy dreames, as I doe for my good rest, for there is a satisfaction in them unto reasonable desires, and such as can be content with a fit of happinesse; and surely it is not a melancholy conceite to thinke we are all asleepe in this world, and that the conceits of this life are as meare dreames to those of the next, as the Phantasmes of the night, to the conceit of the day. There is an equall delusion in both, and the one doth but seeme to bee the embleme or picture of the other; we are somewhat more than our selves in our sleepes, and the slumber of the body seemes to bee but the waking of the soule. It is the ligation of sense, but the liberty of reason, and our awaking conceptions doe not match the fancies of our sleepes. At my Nativity, my ascendant was the watery signe of Scorpius, I was borne in the Planetary houre of Saturne, and I think I have a peece of that Leaden Planet in me. I am no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardize of company, yet in one dreame I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh my self awake at the conceits thereof; were my memory as faithfull as my reason is then fruitfull, I would never study but in my dreames, and this time also would I chuse for my devotions, but our grosser memories have then so little hold of our abstracted understandings, that they forget the story, and can only relate to our awaked soules, a confused & broken tale of that that hath passed.K124 Aristotle, who hath written a singular tract of sleepe, hath not me thinkes throughly defined it, nor yet Galen, though hee seeme to have corrected it; for those Noctambuloes and night-walkers, though in their sleepe, doe yet enjoy the action of their senses: wee must therefore say that there is something in us that is not in the jurisdiction of Morpheus; and that those abstracted and ecstaticke soules doe walke about in their owne corps, as spirits with the bodies they assume, wherein they seeme to heare, see, and feele, though indeed the organs are destitute of sense, and their natures of those faculties that should informe them. Thus it is observed that men sometimes upon the houre of their departure, doe speake and reason above themselves. For then the soule begins to bee freed from the ligaments of the body, begins to reason like her selfe, and to discourse in a straine above mortality.
We tearme sleepe a death, and yet it is waking that kils us, and destroyes those spirits that are the house of life. Tis indeed a part of life that best expresseth death, for every man truely lives so long as hee acts his nature, or someway makes good the faculties of himselfe: Themistocles therefore that slew his Souldier in his sleepe was a mercifull executioner, 'tis a kinde of punishment the mildnesse of no lawes hath invented; I wonder the fancy of Lucan and Seneca did not discover it.K125 It is that death by which we may be literally said to die daily, a death which Adam died before his mortality; a death whereby we live a middle and moderating point betweene life and death; in fine, so like death, I dare not trust it without my prayers, and an halfe adiew unto the world, and take my farewell in a Colloquy with God.
The night is come like to the day,
Depart not thou great God away.
Let not my sinnes, blacke as the night,
Eclipse the lustre of thy light.
Keepe still in my Horizon, for to me,
The Sunne makes not the day, but thee.
Thou whose nature cannot sleepe,
On my temples centry keepe;
Guard me 'gainst those watchfull foes,
Whose eyes are open while mine close.
Let no dreames my head infest,
But such as Jacobs temples blest.
While I doe rest, my soule advance,
Make my sleepe a holy trance:
That I may, my rest being wrought,
Awake into some holy thought.
And with as active vigour runne
My course, as doth the nimble Sunne.
Sleepe is a death, O make me try,
By sleeping what it is to die.
And as gently lay my head
On my Grave, as now my bed.
How ere I rest, great God let me
Awake againe at last with thee.
And thus assur'd, behold I lie
Securely, or to wake or die.
These are my drowsie dayes, in vaine
I doe now wake to sleepe againe.
O come that houre, when I shall never
Sleepe againe, but wake for ever!
This is the dormitive I take to bedward, I need no other Laudanum than this to make me sleepe; after which I close mine eyes in security, content to take my leave of the Sunne, and sleepe unto the resurrection.
The method I should use in distributive justice, I often observe in commutative, and keepe a Geometricall proportion in both, whereby becomming equable to others, I become unjust to my selfe, and supererogate in that common principle, Doe unto others as thou wouldest be done unto thy selfe. I was not borne unto riches, neither is it I thinke my Starre to be wealthy; or if it were, the freedome of my minde, and franknesse of my disposition, were able to contradict and crosse my fates: for to me avarice seemes not so much a vice, as a deplorable piece of madnesse; to conceive our selves Urinals, or bee perswaded that wee are dead, is not so ridiculous,K126 nor so many degrees beyond the power of Hellebore, as this. The opinions of theory and positions of men are not so voyd of reason as their practised conclusion: some have held that Snow is blacke, that the earth moves, that the soule is ayre, fire water, but all this is Philosophy, and there is no delirium, if we doe but speculate the folly and indisputable dotage of avarice to that subterraneous Idoll, and God of the earth. I doe confesse I am an Atheist, I cannot perswade my selfe to honour that the world adores; whatsoever vertue its prepared substance may have within my body, it hath no influence nor operation without; I would not entertaine a base designe, or an action that should call mee villaine, for the Indies, and for this onely doe I love and honour my owne soule, and have mee thinkes, two armes too few to embrace my selfe. Aristotle is too severe, that will not allow us to bee truely liberall without wealth,K127 and the bountifull hand of fortune; if this be true, I must confesse I am charitable onely in my liberall intentions, and bountifull well-wishes. But if the example of the Mite bee not onely an act of wonder, but an example of the noblest charity, surely poore men may also build Hospitals, and the rich alone have not erected Cathedralls. I have a private method which others observe not, I take the opportunity of my selfe to do good, I borrow occasion of charity from mine owne necessities, and supply the wants of others, when I am in most neede my selfe; for it is an honest stratagem to take advantage of our selves, and so to husband the act of vertue, that where they are defective in one circumstance, they may repay their want, and multiply their goodnesse in another. I have not Peru in my desires, but a competence, and abilitie to performe those good workes to which hee hath inclined my nature. Hee is rich, who hath enough to bee charitable, and it is hard to bee so poore, that a noble minde may not finde a way to this piece of goodnesse. Hee that giveth to the poore lendeth to the Lord; there is more Rhetorick in that one sentence than in a Library of Sermons, and indeed if those sentences were understood by the Reader, with the same Emphasis as they are delivered by the Author, wee needed not those Volumes of instructions, but might bee honest by an Epitome. Upon this motive onely I cannot behold a Begger without relieving his necessities with my purse, or his soule with my prayers; these scenicall and accidentall differences betweene us cannot make mee forget that common and untoucht part of us both; there is under these Centoes and miserable outsides, these mutilate and semi-bodies, a soule of the same alloy with our owne, whose Genealogy is God as well as ours, and in as faire a way to salvation, as our selves. Statists that labour to contrive a Common-wealth without poverty, take away the object of charity, not understanding only the Common-wealth of a Christian, but forgetting the prophecy of Christ.
Now there is another part of charity, which is the Basis and Pillar of this, and that is the love of God, for whom wee love our neighbour: for this I thinke charity, to love God for himselfe, and our neighbour for God. All that is truely amiable is God, or as it were a divided piece of him, that retaines a reflex or shadow of himselfe. Nor is it strange that wee should place affection on that which is invisible, all that wee truely love is thus, what wee adore under affection of our senses, deserves not the honour of so pure a title. Thus wee adore vertue, though to the eyes of sense shee bee invisible. Thus that part of our noble friends that wee love, is not that part that we embrace, but that insensible part that our armes cannot embrace. God being all goodnesse, can love nothing but himselfe, hee loves us but for that part which is as it were himselfe, and the traduction of his holy Spirit. Let us call to assize the loves of our parents, the affection of our wives and children, and they are all dumbe showes, and dreames, without reality, truth, or constancy; for first there is a strong bond of affection betweene us and our parents, yet how easily dissolved? We betake our selves to a woman, forgetting our mothers in a wife, and the wombe that bare us in that that shall beare our image. This woman blessing us with children, our affection leaves the levell it held before, and sinkes from our bed unto our issue and picture of posterity, where affection holds no steady mansion. They growing up in yeares desire our ends, or applying themselves to a woman, take a lawfull way to love another better than our selves. Thus I perceive a man may bee buried alive, and behold his grave in his owne issue.
[sic: 15 bis]
I conclude therefore and say, there is no happinesse under (or as Copernicus will have it, above) the Sunne, nor any Crambe in that repeated veritie and burthen of all the wisedome of Solomon, All is vanitie and vexation of spirit; there is no felicity in that the world adores. Aristotle whilst hee labours to refute the Idea's of Plato, fals upon one himselfe: for his summum bonum, is a Chimæra, and there is no such thing as his Felicity. That wherein God himselfe is happy, the holy Angels are happy, in whose defect the Devils are unhappy; that dare I call happinesse: whatsoever conduceth unto this, may with an easie Metaphor deserve that name; whatsoever else the world termes happines, is to me a story out of Pliny, an apparition, or neat delusion, wherin there is no more of happinesse than the name. Blesse mee in this life with but the peace of my conscience, command of my affections, the love of thy selfe and my dearest friends, and I shall be happy enough to pity Cæsar. These are O Lord the humble desires of my most reasonable ambition and all I dare call happinesse on earth: wherein I set no rule or limit to thy hand or providence, dispose of me according to the wisedome of thy pleasure. Thy will bee done, though in my owne undoing.K128
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