« PreviousContinue »
the sacred truth ; for they supposed the world to be the image of God, and man to be an extract or compendious image of the world; but the Scriptures never vouchsafe to attribute to the world that honour, as to be the image of God, but only the work of his nands; neither do they speak of any other image of God, but man: wherefore by the contemplation of nature, to induce and enforce the acknowledgment of God, and to demonstrate his power, providence, and goodness, is an excellent argument, and hath been excellently handled by divers.
But on the other side, out of the contemplation of nature or ground of human knowledges, to induce any verity or persuasion concerning the points of faith, is in my judgment not safe: Da fidei, quæ fidei sunt. For the heathen themselves conclude as much in that excellent and divine fable of the golden chain ; “ That men and gods were not able to draw
Jupiter down to the earth ; but contrariwise, Jupi“ter was able to draw them up to heaven."
So as we ought not to attempt to draw down or submit the mysteries of God to our reason ; but contrariwise, to raise and advance our reason to the divine truth. So as in this part of knowledge, touching divine philosophy, I am so far from noting any deficience, as I rather note an excess; whereunto I have digressed, because of the extreme prejudice which both religion and philosophy hath received, and may receive, by being commixed together; as that which undoubtedly will make an heretical religion, and an imaginary and fabulous philosophy.
Otherwise it is of the nature of angels and spirits, which is an appendix of theology, both divine and natural, and is neither inscrutable nor interdicted: for although the Scripture saith, Let no man deceive you in sublime discourse touching the worship of angels, pressing into that he knoweth not, etc. yet, notwithstanding, if you observe well that precept, it may appear thereby that there be two things only forbid den, adoration of them, and opinion fantastical of them, either to extol them farther than appertaineth
to the degree of a creature, or to extol a man's knowledge of them farther than he hath ground. But the sober and grounded inquiry, which may arise out of the passages of holy Scriptures, or out of the gradations of nature, is not restrained. So of degenerate and revolted spirits, the conversing with them, or the employment of them, is prohibited, much more any veneration towards them.
But the contemplation or science of their nature, their power, their illusions, either by Scripture or reason, is a part of spiritual wisdom. For so the apostle saith, We are not ignorant of his stratagems. And it is no more unlawful to inquire the nature of evil spirits, than to inquire the force of poisons in nature, or the nature of sin and vice in morality. But this part, touching angels and spirits, I cannot note as deficient, for many have occupied themselves in it: I may rather challenge it, in many of the writers thereof, as fabulous and fantastical.
Leaving therefore divine philosophy or natural theology, not divinity, or inspired theology, which we reserve for the last of all, as the haven and sabbath of all man's contemplations, we will now próceed to natural philosophy.
If then it be true that Democritus said, “ That the “ truth of nature lieth hid in certain deep mines and "caves :" and if it be true likewise that the alchemists do so much inculcate, that Vulcan is a second nature, and imitateth that dexterously and compendiously, which nature worketh by ambages and length of time; it were good to divide natural philosophy into the mine and the furnace, and to make two professions or occupations of natural philosophers, some to be pioneers, and some smiths; some to dig, and some to refine and hammer: and surely I do best allow of a division of that kind, though in more familiar and scholastical terms : namely, that these be the two parts of natural philosophy, the inquisition of causes, and the production of effects ; speculative, and operative; natural science, and natural prudence. For as in civil matters there is a wisdom of discourse, and a wisdom of direction; so is it in natural. And here I will make a request, that for the latter, or at least for a part thereof, I may revive and reintegrate the misapplied and abused name of natural magic, which, in the true sense, is but natural wisdom, or natural prudence; taken according to the ancient acception, purged from vanity and superstition.
Now although it be true, and I know it well, that there is an intercourse between causes and effects, so as both these knowledges, speculative and operative, have a great connexion between themselves; yet because all true and fruitful natural philosophy hath a double scale or ladder, ascendent and descendent; ascending from experiments, to the invention of causes; and descending from causes, to the invention of new experiments; therefore I judge it most requisite that these two parts be severally considered and handled.
Natural science, or theory, is divided into Physic and Metaphysic; wherein í desire it may be conceived, that I use the word metaphysic in a differing sense from that that is received : and, in like manner, I doubt not but it will easily appear to men of judgment, that in this and other particulars, wheresoever my conception and notion may differ from the ancient, yet I am studious to keep the ancient terms.
For hoping well to deliver myself from mistaking, by the order and perspicuous expressing of that I do propound; I am otherwise zealous and affectionate to recede as little from antiquity, either in terms or opinions, as may stand with truth, and the proficience of knowledge.
And herein I cannot a little marvel at the philosopher Aristotle, that did proceed in such a spirit of difference and contradiction towards all antiquity, undertaking not only to frame new words of science at pleasure, but to confound and extinguish all ancient wisdom ; insomuch as he never nameth or mentioneth an ancient author or opinion, but to confute and
reprove; wherein for glory, and drawing followers and disciples, he took the right course.
For certainly there cometh to pass, and hath place in human truth, that which was noted and pronounced in the highest truth ; Veni in nomine Patris, nec recipitis me; si quis venerit in nomine suo eum recipietis. But in this divine aphorism, considering to whom it was applied, namely to Antichrist, the highest deceiver, we may discern well, that the coming in a man's own name, without regard of antiquity or paternity, is no good sign of truth, although it be joined with the fortune and success of an Eum recipietis.
But for this excellent person, Aristotle, I will think of him, that he learned that humour of his scholar, with whom, it seemeth, he did emulate, the one to conquer all opinions, as the other to conquer all nations: wherein nevertheless, it may be, he may at some men's hands, that are of a bitter disposition, get a like title as his scholar did.
Felix terrarum prædo, non utile mundo
Editus exemplum, etc. So
Felir doctrinæ prædo. But to me, on the other side, that do desire as much as lieth in my pen to ground a sociable intercourse between antiquity and proficience, it seemeth best to keep way with antiquity usque ad aras; and therefore to retain the ancient terms, though I sometimes alter the uses and definitions; according to the moderate proceeding in civil government, where, although there be some alteration, yet that holdeth which Tacitus wisely noteth, eadem magistratuum vocabula.
To return therefore to the use and acception of the term metaphysic, as I do now understand the word; it appeareth, by that which hath been already said, that I intend philosophia prima, summary philosophy, and metaphysic, which heretofore have been confounded as one, to be two distinct things. For, the one I have made as a parent, or common ancestor, to all knowledge; and the other I have now brought in, as a branch, or descendant, of natural science. It appeareth likewise that I have assigned to summary philosophy the common principles and axioms which are promiscuous and indifferent to several sciences : I have assigned unto it likewise the inquiry touching the operation of the relative and adventive characters of essences, as quantity, similitude, diversity, possibility, and the rest; with this distinction and provision, that they be handled as they have efficacy in nature, and not logically. It appeareth likewise, that natural theology, which heretofore hath been handled confusedly with metaphysic, I have enclosed and bounded by itself.
It is therefore now a question, what is left remaining for metaphysic; wherein I may without prejudice preserve thus much of the conceit of antiquity, that physic should contemplate, that which is inherent in matter, and therefore transitory; and metaphysic, that which is abstracted and fixed.
And again, that physic should handle that which supposeth in nature only a being and moving; and metaphysic should handle that which supposeth farther in nature, a reason, understanding, and platform. But the difference perspicuously expressed, is most familiar and sensible.
For as we divided natural philosophy in general into the inquiry of causes, and productions of effects; so that part which concerneth the inquiry of causes, we do subdivide according to the received and sound division of causes; the one part, which is physic, inquireth and handleth the material and efficient causes; and the other, which is metaphysic, handleth the formal and final causes.
Physic, taking it according to the derivation, and not according to our idiom for medicine, is situate in a middle term, or distance, between natural history and metaphysic. For natural history describeth the variety of things, physic the causes, but variable or respective causes ; and metaphysic, the fixed and constant causes.