« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
persons that fasted each two years, one three years, another four, one seven, another fifteen, another eighteen, and one twenty ; yea, one twenty-nine, another thirty, another thirty-six, and one forty years. Famous is the story, perhaps fiction, being poetical, of * Epimenides (whose words St. Paul is thought to cite in his epistle to l'itus, Kpñtes ari fiūsces) whom some report to have slept seventeen years, some seventy-seven years together : But enough of story; those, that are desirous to read more, are referred to Marcellus Donat. Lib. iv. de Med. Hist. Mirab. c. 12. Schenk Lib. iv. Observ. Guaguinus, Lib. iii. Hist. Franc. Petrarch. Lib. ji. de Mirabil. c. 22. Portius de Hist. Puellæ German. Usper. gensis in Chron. Lentulus in Hist. Admir. Apol. Baccius Lib. de Vini Nutritione. Bozius Lib. xi. c. 4. de Signis Eccl. Fulgosius, Lib. i. c. 6. Lessæus, Lib, ix. Hist. Scot. Favorinus apud Gellium, Lib, xvi. c. 3. and especially Licetus that wrote a particular tract to solve the phænomena of this prodigy.
Now, sir, it would be our ambition to advance towards the same noble work, were it not our duty to serve those a while that blot all these stories with one dash of unbelief. That pen certainly drops blasphemy, that dares to rase the sacred records; and that uncharitableness which presumes to write falshood upon all human testimonies; they that assent to nothing, not confirmed by Autopsia, are unfit to converse in human societies; for how can I expect that any body should believe me, whilst I myself will believe no body? It is an argument of an empty braio, to presume to comprehend all things, and thereupon to reject those things, from an existence in the world, that have not their science in its intellectuals. Many things foreign and strange may well be admitted on good testimo. nies, since the most obvious objects are scarce pervious to the most eagle-eyed philosopher; witness the mistakes discovered by Descartes, Gassendus, &c. in Aristotle himself, one of the most sublimated wits in all the republick of Natural Philosophy; and likewise the spots in Hippocrates and Galen, those mirrors in me. dicine, modestly pointed at hy our famous Harvey, Glisson, Willis, &c. but, further to satisfy these incredulous persons, it is affirmed, that some of these abstinents have been t watched by the most wakeful eyes and jealous ears, to detect their fraud, if guilty of any; as was that maid that refused all food, except only water, for three years, by Bucoldianus, with whom she abode for twelve days, at the command of Ferdinand the emperor; so that Apol. lonia Schrejerana was taken by the senate of Bern, and put into the hospital of their town, and there watched till they were satis. fied in the truth of her total abstinence.
But enough to these that cut the knot to save the trouble of un. tying it; yet I may not step aside to those in the contrary extream, that believe a century of such reports, with a faith almost as miraculous as these miracles themselves, for so they seem to them. But, sir, as it is human infidelity to disbelieve all such re
Vid. Sennert, ubi supra. Zac. Lusit, ubi supra. Plutarch. in Sympos, & Lib. de Facie ia Orb. Lunæ,
† Sennert, ubi supra.
ports, because some are false, so it is superstitious charity to believe all, because some are true. Some persons, as scant in their reading, as they are in their travels, are ready to deem every thing strange to be a monster, and every monster a miracle. True it is, the fast of Moses, Elijah, and the incarnate word, was miraculous, and possibly of some others; yet why we should make all miracles, I understand not ; for what need have we now of miracles ? Since such supernatural operations * are for them that believe not, not for them that believe, as witnesseth that + celestial philosopher St. Paul; and thence we infer, beings are not to be multiplied without necessity. Moreover, to what end are such miracles wrought? Certainly, the infinitely wise operator labours not for nought; therefore these abstinents, if miraculous, should confirm some doctrine rejected, or refute some error received ; intranchise some saints oppressed, subvert some wickedness exalted, foretel some extraordinary events and issues of providence to be performed, or for some other end, at which miracles have been usually levelled; but not a cry of these from most of our abstinents. More.' over, the fast of our blessed Saviour and his Prodromi procured not the least detriment to their health, but it is otherwise with most of these.
Near of kin to these miracle-mongers are those that suppose these pretended fasters to be invisibly fed by angels. But it is incredible that such a favour should be shewn to persons of no known sanctity, as some of these (reported to be. Ethnicks) were. More. over, either this food was visible, or invisible; if visible, it is strange, that vigilant observers, and jealous suspecters, could nei. ther discover the ingress at the fore-door, nor the excrementitious egress at the back-door; but, if it were invisible, then altogether incongruous to our bodies, and therefore miraculous; of which before. Neither is it of easy credibility, that food should be supplied by dæmons possessing them; for we read of no footsteps of such a possession in the story, and it would be strange if the devil should grow so modest as to content himself with a single trophy of a captivated rational; and as strange, that a cloven foot should make such inroads, and not leave a doubled, yea redoubled im. pression. Cousin-germans to these are the presumers that the fasters are dead, and acted by dæmons; but this notion is also in. congruous, not only to their transmigration, from feeding to fasting, without any shew of a dissolution, but also to their regress from fasting to feeding (as it happened to some of these) and health again.
And as for the admirers of occult philosophy, who resolve these phrases into the effects of occult qualities, we only repose, that, though an antipathy to this or that food, and possibly to all food, may cause abstinence; yet, without food, I cannot understand how it gives sustenance. But others attribute all this to the influ. ence of celestial bodics, whose operations I deny not to be great
1 Cor. xir. 2.
t 9 Cor. xii. s.
on sublunary wights; yet it is not imaginable, that this universal cause, diffusing its energy so promiscuously, should now and then in a century, here and there in a country, produce such stupendious effects, without some universal preparation and predisposition of bodies to determine its general efficacy to the production of such a prodigy. But, as the former affect darkness, and these an invi. sible light, we leave them to their retirements, whilst we hunt the more perceptible prints of nature's progress in these anomalous productions.
By this time, sir, I hope you will grant that the old inconvenient and tottering building is, in a measure, demolished, the rubbish removed, and the ground cleared ; let us now propound the neces. sities and conveniencies, the ends and uses by our new building to be supplied and attained; and then we will fall to the architecture itself; I mean, let us consider, what the defect of aliment doth require for the support of human life. Ist. T'he natural eva. cuations, by urine, stool, salivation, terms, and transpiration, are so lavish, that, without reparation by feeding, it seems impossible to avoid a sudden dissolution. 2dly, How shall natural heat be preserved from extinction without a constant feeding on the ra. dical moisture? And how shall this oleaginous humour be secured from a nimble consumption, if it receive not additions from feed. ing? 3dly, How shall fermentation be continued in the blood without new additions of chyle? And how shall chyle be added, if no food is received ? 4thly, How shall there be a supply of vital spirits, and consequently of animal, without food or fermentation? Sthly, How can life consist without sleep? And how shall we at. tain sleep, without ascending fumes to the brain from ingested food?
For a foundation, I shall premise a few severals: 1. The long finger of powerful providence is undoubtedly to be observed in the production of these wonderful effects; though these be not ad. vanced to the zenith of divine miracles, wrought by the immediate hand of omnipotency, yet the first cause must be acknowledged in the proportioning, marshalling, dividing, uniting, and actuating of concurrent subordinate second causes for such heteroclite produce tions. Plato himself could say, geopetpei è Osòs, and the admirable Dr. Willis acknowledges, that nature's parent orders natural* principles as to their quantity and mixture, and consequently as to their operations.
2. It is very evident, that, when higher causes shall disjoin what nature usually conjoineth, and vice versá, and exalt one principle and depress another, then very astonishing results appear upon the stage of human bodies. Such is the stupendious voracity of some Helluo's, the monstrous digestion of your Lithophagi, the strange inetamorph sis of your Sanguineans into midnight melancholy, and of lucid intellectuals into piceous mopishness, &c.
• Si hujusmodi limitationis causa inquiratur, dicimus, quod naturæ parens posuit in primogenio cujusque sei semir: alim spiritus salis & sulphuris copiam quæ producendis kitim is corporum staininibus, scu lineamenti, sufficeres. Willis de ferment. p. 48, 49.
1. Now to supply the defect of food in its most useful restora. tion of what by daily evacuations the body is deprived of; as I Deed not compute the vast expence of the microcosm by stool, urine, spitting, and terms, these being vulgarly known ; so neither of the transcendent loss by transpiration, reckoned by * Sanctorius to preponderate all the rest; all which exact constant addi ions to be made by aliment, without which the body would quickly be depopalated. But 1. Let it be considered, that this person (as it is most credibly reported) empties nothing by urine or stool; and, it is probable, next to nothing by salivation or trans. piration, not by salivation through a considerable defect of drinks; nor by transpiration, because, wanting food, there is a partial defect of fermentation in the blood, and thence of natural heat, and so, by the coldness of the parts, the pores are precluded, and the diaphoresis impeded; whence it will follow, that, where the parts are duly warm, and the pores patent, there the more active principles are apt to take flight; yet, where the parts are cold, and the pores corked up, there it is otherwise; as generous wines and subtle spirits, left in open vessels, will quickly bid adieu to their more volatile and brisk principles; yet, if shut up in safe vessels, these fugitives are imprisoned and kept to their daily offices. The same is verified in aqueous humours, which (our kitchens as well as laboratories experiment) quickly evaporate through intense subjacent heats, but not without, and so it is here. Thus, these plentiful evacuations being suppressed, restoration by food is rendered less necessary. Yet, lest you should dread from this hypothesis a suffocating mass of excrementitious humours to assault the heart, &c. I therefore subjoin, that a defect of nutritious assumptions must needs precede a defect of humours; moreover, the blood commands much of these remaining humours for its own chariot use ; neither may it seem dissonant to reason, that the veotricle and some of the intestines are used as a receptacle of the more tartarous and terrestrial feculencies; as embryo's, though they receive large quantities of liquid nutriment, yet there is seldom observed the least excretion by the fundament, but a retention of a quantity of ex. crementitious terrestreities in the intestines, during their whole abode in their maternal cells. Likewise, in fermenting liqoors, the more active principles do precipitate the more sluggish to the bot. toms, chinks, and walls of their continents. Further it cannot be denied, that, by expiration, there is a considerable evacuation, as appears both by the heat of our breath, and its moisture, which is discovered by the reception of it into any concavous body. But 2. admit that there is some waste either by salivation or transpiration, yet these, being sinall, produce only a lingering consumption, which doth oiten consist for many years with a declining life : Such as oiur Virgin's is.
2. How shall natural heat be preserved, if not led by oil, con. tinually supplied and renewed. boy aliment? There arc, sir, divers opinions touching human ignicles, and therefore it highly concerns
Sanctorius de Statica Medicina.
us to proceed cautiously. It cannot be denied, that there is a po. - tential heat, more or less, in all human bodies, which is the Calor
mixti, remaining, when we are dead and key-cold ; such as is the heat of sulphur, arsenick, &c. though in a great allay. This appears from chymical operations on man's blood, by which it is forced to acknowledge its endowments with spirits and volatile salts in great quantities, and some sulphur also. Likewise, it must be granted, that there is an actual heat abiding in us, whilst we live, and some while after death. This is obvious to the sense of feeling itself; this is the heat, as I conceive, joined with the pri. mogenite humour, to which Aristotle ascribes life itself. But yet, sir, I am somewhat doubtful, whether this heat be properly called Calor videns, though the great * Riverius term it so; or an im. mediate cause of life, though an Aristotle pronounce it so; for, certainly, holy Scripture ascribes life to the blood, The blood is the life thereof; and death to a dissolution of the compositum, The body returns to the dust, and the spirit to God that gave it. But of this dissolution, I suppose, the soul is not ordinarily the cause, but the body; and, what part of the body may more justly be challenged to be the parent, if I may so phrase it, of death, than the blood, which is, in a famous sense, the parent of life. So, then, + most killing distempers must arise from the excessive mula tiplication, consumption, or depravation of the blood, and the pernicious effects thereof. Yet, mistake me not, this hinders not other parts of the body, bowels, and humours to be often peccant, as undoubtedly they are, by infecting the blood, and receiving infections morbifick from it. Moreover, this heat continues some hours without life, even after the dissolution ; and, as it is without life, so is life often found without it, as, not only in some vegetables, as, lettuce, hemlock, cucumbers, &c. but in animals, as, frogs and fish, which are said to be actually cold, and the salamander, reputed cold in a high digree. This heat may, possibly, be but the effect of matter and motion, i, e. of the blood, or, before it, of the seed-impregnated with active principles, which, through their activity and heterogeneity, suffer mutual collisions, or fermentations, whence ebullition; and thence this heat, which is, by circulation, not only promoted, but also conveyed to all parts of the body, and by the same causes preserved; which, possibly, may prove the sum of I Riverius's implanted and intuent heat. These things pre-supposed, it will not be impossible to guess, that this heat is no such celestial fire, as the most famous Fernelius would have it, but only the igneous result of the combinations and commotions of the most active elementary principles; and, if there be any other heat, it may prove to be, according to the conjecture of the great Riverius, the product of the immaterial soul. But of that I understand little; only this is unquestionable, that
* Riverii Instit. Med. Lib. i. Sect. 4. c. 3. de Calido innato. 'Eşi non rno Sporlexñs ois tã Degut. Arist. de Respirat. + Willis de Morb. Convuls. p. 175. Needham de formato Fætu, p. 138. Loweri Diatribæ, p. 115. Fernel. de Abdit. Lib. ii. c. .
Riverius, ubi supra.