Imágenes de páginas

by one of Plato's school, the sense of man resembles the sun, which openeth and revealeth the terrestrial globe, but obscureth and concealeth the celestial; so doth the sense discover natural things, but darken and shut

up divine. And this appeareth sufficiently in that there is no proceeding in invention of knowledge, but by similitude; and God is only self-like, having nothing in common with any creature, otherwise than as in shadow and trope. Therefore attend his will as himself openeth it, and give unto faith that which unto faith belongeth; for more worthy it is to believe, than to think or know, considering that in knowledge, as we now are capable of it, the mind suffereth from inferior natures; but in all belief it suffereth from a spirit, which it holdeth superior, and more authorised than itself.

To conclude; the prejudice hath been infinite, that both divine and human knowledge hath received by the intermingling and tempering of the one with the other: as that which hath filled the one full of heresies, and the other full of speculative fictions and vanities.

But now there are again, which, in a contrary extremity to those which give to contemplation an overlarge scope, do offer too great a restraint to natural and lawful knowledge; being unjustly jealous that every reach and depth of knowledge wherewith their conceits have not been acquainted, should be too high an elevation of man's wit, and a searching and ravelling too far into God's secrets; an opinion that ariseth either of envy, which is proud weakness, and to be censured and not confuted, or else of a deceitful simplicity. For if they mean that the ignorance of a second cause doth make men more devoutly to depend upon the providence of God, as supposing the effects to come immediately from his hand; I demand of them, as Job demanded of his friends, Will you lye

for God, as man will for man to gratify him? But if any man, without any sinister humour, doth indeed make doubt that this digging further and further into the mine of natural knowledge, is a thing without



example, and uncommended in the Scriptures, or fruitless; let him remember and be instructed : for behold it was not that pure light of natural knowledge, whereby man in paradise was able to give unto every living creature a name according to his propriety, which gave occasion to the fall; but it was an aspiring desire to attain to that part of moral knowledge, which defineth of good and evil, whereby to dispute God's commandments, and not to depend upon the revelation of his will, which was the original temptation. And the first holy records, which within those brief memorials of things which passed before the flood, entered few things as worthy to be registered, but only lineages and propagations, yet nevertheless honour the remembrance of the inventor both of music and works in metal.

Moses again, who was the reporter, is said to have been seen in all the Egyptian learning, which nation was early and leading in matter of knowledge. And Solomon the king, as out of a branch of his wisdom extraordinarily petitioned and granted from God, is said to have written a natural history of all that is green, from the cedar to the moss, which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb, and also of all that liveth and moveth. And if the book of Job be turned over, it will be found to have much aspersion of natural philosophy. Nay, the same Solomon the king affirmeth directly, that the glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out, as if, according to the innocent play of children, the divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; for in naming the king he intendeth man, taking such a condition of man as hath most excellency and greatest commandment of wits and means, alluding also to his own person, being truly one of those clearest burning lamps, whereof himself speaketh in another place, when he saith, The spirit of man is as the lamp of God, wherewith he searcheth all inwardness; which nature of the soul the same Solomon holding precious and inestimable, and therein conspiring with the affection of Socrates,

who scorned the pretended learned men of his time for raising great benefit of their learning, whereas Anaxagoras contrariwise, and divers others, being born to ample patrimonies, decayed them in contemplation, delivereth it in precept yet remaining, Buy the truth, and sell it not; and so of wisdom and knowledge.

And lest any man should retain a scruple, as if this thirst of knowledge were rather an humour of the mind, than an emptiness or want in nature, and an instinct from God; the same author defineth of it fully, saying, God hath made every thing in beauty according to season; 'also he hath set the world in man's heart, yet can he not find out the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end: declaring not obscurely that God hath framed the mind of man as a glass, capable of the image of the universal world, joying to receive the signature thereof, as the eye is of light; yea, not only satisfied in beholding the variety of things, and vicissitude of times, but raised also to find out and discern those ordinances and decrees, which throughout all these changes are infallibly observed. And although the highest generality of motion, or summary law of nature, God should still reserve within his own curtain; yet many and noble are the inferior and secondary operations which are within man's sounding. This is a thing which I cannot tell whether I may so plainly speak as truly conceive, that as all knowledge. appeareth to be a plant of God's own planting, so it may seem the spreading and flourishing, or at least the bearing and fructifying of this plant, by a providence of God, náy, not only by a general providence, but by a special prophecy, was appointed to this autumn of the world: for to my understanding, it is not violent to the letter, and safe now after the event, so to interpret that place in the prophecy of Daniel, where, speaking of the latter times, it is said, Many shall pass to and fro, and science shall be increased; as if the opening of the world by navigation and commerce, and the further discovery of knowledge, should meet in one time or age. But howsoever that be, there are besides the autho

[ocr errors]

rities of Scriptures before recited, two reasons of exceeding great weight and force, why religion should dearly protect all increase of natural knowledge: the one, because it leadeth to the greater exaltation of the glory of God; for as the Psalms and other Scriptures do often invite us to consider, and to magnify the great and wonderful works of God; so if we should rest only in the contemplation of those shews which first offer themselves to our senses, we should do a like injury to the majesty of God, as if we should judge of the store of some excellent jeweller, by that only which is set out to the street in his shop. The other reason is, because it is a singular help and a preservative against unbelief and error; for, saith our Saviour, You err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God; laying before us two books or volumes to study, if we will be secured from error; first, the Scriptures revealing the will of God, and then the creatures expressing his power; for that latter book will certify us, that nothing which the first teacheth shall be thought impossible. And most sure it is, and a true conclusion of experience, that a little natural philosophy. inclineth the' mind to atheism, but a further proceeding bringeth the mind back to religion.

To conclude then: Let no man presume to check the liberality of God's gifts, who, as was said, hath set the world in man's heart. So as whatsoever is not God, but parcel of the world, he hath fitted it to the comprehension of man's mind, if man will open and dilate the powers of his understanding as he may.

But yet evermore it must be remembered, that the least part of knowledge passed to man by this so large a charter from God, must be subject to that use for which God hath granted it, which is the benefit and relief of the state and society of man; for otherwise all manner of knowledge becometh malign and serpentine, and therefore, as carrying the quality of the serpent's sting and malice, it maketh the mind of man to swell; as the Scripture saith excellently, Knowledge 'bloweth up, but charity buildeth up. And again, the same author doth notably disavow both

power and knowledge, such as is not dedicated to goodness or love; for saith he, If I have all faith, so as I could remove mountains, there is power active; if I render my body to the fire, there is power passive; if I speak with the tongues of men and angels, there is knowledge, for language is but the conveyance of knowledge, all were nothing.

And therefore it is not the pleasure of curiosity, nor the quiet of resolution, nor the raising of the spirit, nor victory of wit, nor faculty of speech, nor lucre of profession, nor ambition of honour or fame, or inablement for business, that are the true ends of knowledge; some of these being more worthy than other, though all inferior and degenerate: but it is a restitution and reinvesting, in great part, of man to the sovereignty and power, for whensoever he shall be able to call the creatures by their true names, he shall again command them, which he had in his first state of creation. And to speak plainly and clearly, it is a discovery of all operations and possibilities of operations from immortality, if it were possible, to the meanest mechanical practice. And therefore knowledge, that tendeth but to satisfaction, is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure, and not for fruit or generation. And knowledge that tendeth to profit or profession, or glory, is but as the golden ball thrown before Ata. lanta; which while she goeth aside, and stoopeth to take up,

she hindereth the race. And knowledge referred to some particular point of use, is but as Har, modius, which putteth down one tyrant: and not like Hercules, who did perambulate the world to suppress tyrants and giants and monsters in every part.

It is true, that in two points the curse is peremptorý, and not to be removed: the one, that vanity must be the end in all human effects; eternity being resumed, though the revolutions and periods may be delayed. The other, that the consent of the creature being now turn d into reluctation, this power cannot otherwise be exercised and administered but with labour, as well in inventing as in executing; yet nevertheless chiefly that labour and travel which is described by the

« AnteriorContinuar »