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head thereof seemeth to me not to have been visited being of so excellent use, both for the disclosing of nature, and the abridgement of art.
This science being therefore first placed as a common parent, like unto Berecynthia, which had so much heavenly issue,
"Omnes cœlicolas, omnes super alta tenentes:"
we may return to the former distribution of the three philosophies, divine, natural, and human.
And as concerning Divine Philosophy or Natural Theology, it is that knowledge or rudiment of knowledge concerning God, whieh may be obtained by the contemplation of his creatures; which knowledge may be truly termed divine in respect of the object, and natural in respect of the light. The bounds of this knowledge are, that it sufficeth to convince atheism, but not to inform religion: and therefore there was never miracle wrought by God to convert an atheist, because the light of nature might have led him to confess a God: but miracles have been wrought to convert idolaters and the superstitious, because no light of nature extendeth to declare the will and true worship of God. For as all works do shew forth the power and skill of the workman, and not his image; so it is of the works of God, which do shew the omnipotency and wisdom of the maker, but not his image; and therefore therein the heathen opinion differeth from the sacred truth; for they supposed the world to be the image of God, and man to be an extract or com
pendious image of the world; but the Scriptures never vouchsafe to attribute to the world that honour, as to be the image of God, but only the work of his hands; neither do they speak of any other image of God, but man: wherefore by the contemplation of nature to induce and inforce the acknowledgement of God, and to demonstrate his power, providence, and goodness, is an excellent argument, and hath been excellently handled by divers.
But on the other side, out of the contemplation of nature, or ground of human knowledge, to induce any verity or persuasion concerning the points of faith, is in my judgment not safe: "Da fidei quæ "fidei sunt." For the heathens 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, Jupiter 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 phylosophy have 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," &c. yet, notwithstanding, if you observe well that precept it may appear thereby that there be two things only forbidden, adoration of them, and opinion fantastical of them; either to extol them farther than appertaineth to the degree of a creature, or to extol a man's knowledge 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, v
reserve for the last of all, as the haven and sabbath of all man's contemplations) we will now proceed 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 acceptation, purged from vanity and superstition. Now although it be true, and I know it well, that there is an intercourse between causes and effects, so as both these knowledges,
speculative and operative, have a great connection between themselves; yet because all true and fruitful natural philosophy hath a double scale or ladder, 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 Physique and Metaphysique: wherein I desire it may be conceived that I use the word metaphysique 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