Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

be forward to assent to spiritual raptures and revelations; because he is truly acquainted with the tempers of men's bodies, the composition of their blood, and the power of fancy, and so better understands the difference between diseases and inspirations.

But in all this he commits nothing that is irreligious. Tis true, to deny that God has heretofore warned the world of what was to come, is to contradict the very Godhead itself; but to reject the sense which any private man shall fasten to it, is not to disdain the Word of God, but the opinions of men like ourselves. To declare against the possibility that new prophets may be sent from heaven, is to insinuate that the same infinite Wisdom which once showed itself that way is now at an end. But to slight all pretenders, that come without the help of miracles, is not a contempt of the Spirit, but a just circumspection that the reason of men be not over-reached. To deny that God directs the course of human things, is stupidity: but to hearken to every prodigy that men frame against their enemies, or for themselves, is not to reverence the power of God, but to make that serve the passions, the interests, and revenges of men.

It is a dangerous mistake, into which many good men fall, that we neglect the dominion of God over the world, if we do not discover in every turn of human actions many supernatural providences and miraculous events. Whereas it is enough for the honour of his government, that he guides the whole creation in its wonted course of causes and effects: as it makes as much for the reputation of a prince's wisdom, that he can rule his subjects peaceably by his known and standing laws, as that he is often forced to make use of extraordinary justice to punish or reward.

Let us, then, imagine our philosopher to have all slowness of belief, and rigour of trial, which by some is miscalled a blindness of mind and hardness of heart. Let us suppose that he is most unwilling to grant that anything exceeds the force of nature, but where a full evidence convinces him. Let it be allowed, that he is always alarmed, and ready on his guard, at the noise of any miraculous event, lest his judgment should be surprised by the disguises of faith. But does he by this diminish the authority of ancient miracles or does he not rather confirm them the more, by confining their number, and taking care that every falsehood should not mingle with them? Can he by this undermine Christianity, which does not now stand in need of such extraordinary testimonies from heaven? or do not they rather endanger it, who still venture its truths on so hazardous a chance, who require a continuance of signs and wonders, as if the works of our Saviour and his apostles had not been sufficient? Who ought to be esteemed the most carnally-minded-the enthusiast that pollutes religion with his own passions, or the experimenter that will not use it to flatter and obey his own desires, but to subdue them? Who is to be thought the greatest enemy of the gospel-he that loads men's faiths by so many improbable things as will go near to make the reality itself suspected, or he that only admits a few arguments to confirm the evangelical doctrines, but then chooses those that are unquestionable? It cannot be an ungodly purpose to strive to abolish all holy cheats, which are of fatal consequence both to the deceivers and those that are deceived: to the deceivers, because they must needs be hypocrites, having the artifice in their keeping; to the deceived, because, if their eyes shall ever be opened, and they chance to find that they have been deluded in any one thing, they will be apt not only to reject that, but even to despise the very truths themselves which they had before been taught by those deluders.

It were, indeed, to be confessed, that this severity of censure on religious things were to be condemned

29

in experimenters, if, while they deny any wonders that are falsely attributed to the true God, they should approve those of idols or false deities. But that is not objected against them. They make no comparison between his power and the works of any others, but only between the several ways of his own manifesting himself. Thus, if they lessen one heap, yet they still increase the other; in the main, they diminish nothing of his right. If they take from the prodigies, they add to the ordinary works of the same Author. And those ordinary works themselves they do almost raise to the height of wonders, by the exact discovery which they make of their excellences; while the enthusiast goes near to bring down the price of the true and primitive miracles, by such a vast and such a negligent augmenting of their number.

By this, I hope, it appears that this inquiring, this scrupulous, this incredulous temper, is not the disgrace, but the honour of experiments. And, therefore, I will declare them to be the most seasonable study for the present temper of our nation. This wild amusing men's minds with prodigies and conceits of providence has been one of the most considerable causes of those spiritual distractions of which our country has long been the theatre. This is a vanity to which the English seem to have been always subject above others. There is scarce any modern historian that relates our foreign wars, but he has this objection against the disposition of our countrymen, that they used to order their affairs of the greatest importance according to some obscure omens or predictions that passed amongst them on little or no foundations. And at this time, especially this last year [1666], this gloomy and ill-boding humour has prevailed. So that it is now the fittest season for experiments to arise, to teach us a wisdom which springs from the depths of knowledge, to shake off the shadows, and to scatter the mists which fill the minds of men with a vain consternation. This is a work well becoming the most Christian profession. For the most apparent effect which attended the passion of Christ, was the putting of an eternal silence on all the false oracles and dissembled inspirations of ancient times.

[Cowley's Love of Retirement.]

Upon the king's happy restoration, Mr Cowley was past the fortieth year of his age; of which the greatest part had been spent in a various and tempestuous condition. He now thought he had sacrificed enough of his life to his curiosity and experience. He had enjoyed many excellent occasions of observation. He had been present in many great revolutions, which in that tumultuous time disturbed the peace of all our neighbour states as well as our own. He had nearly beheld all the splendour of the highest part of mankind. He had lived in the presence of princes, and familiarly conversed with greatness in all its degrees, which was necessary for one that would contemn it aright; for to scorn the pomp of the world before a man knows it, does commonly proceed rather from ill manners than a true magnanimity.

He was now weary of the vexations and formalities of an active condition. He had been perplexed with a long compliance to foreign manners. He was satiated with the arts of court; which sort of life, though his virtue had made innocent to him, yet nothing could make it quiet. These were the reasons that moved him to forego all public employments, and to follow the violent inclination of his own mind, which in the greatest throng of his former business had still called upon him, and represented to him the true delights of solitary studies, of temperate pleasures, and of a moderate revenue, below the malice and flatteries of fortune.

*

**

*

In his last seven or eight years he was concealed in the first generations of mankind; it had the beauty his beloved obscurity, and possessed that solitude of youth and blooming nature, fresh and fruitful, which, from his very childhood, he had always most and not a wrinkle, scar, or fracture in all its body; no passionately desired. Though he had frequent invita-rocks nor mountains, no hollow caves nor gaping tions to return into business, yet he never gave ear to channels, but even and uniform all over. And the any persuasions of profit or preferment. His visits to smoothness of the earth made the face of the heavens the city and court were very few; his stays in town so too; the air was calm and serene; none of those were only as a passenger, not an inhabitant. The tumultuary motions and conflicts of vapours, which places that he chose for the seats of his declining life the mountains and the winds cause in ours. 'Twas were two or three villages on the bank of the Thames. suited to a golden age, and to the first innocency of During this recess, his mind was rather exercised on nature.' By degrees, however, the heat of the sun, what was to come than what was past; he suffered no penetrating the superficial crust, converted a portion more business nor cares of life to come near him than of the water beneath into steam, the expansive force what were enough to keep his soul awake, but not to of which at length burst the superincumbent shell, disturb it. Some few friends and books, a cheerful already weakened by the dryness and cracks occaheart, and innocent conscience, were his constant sioned by the solar rays. When, therefore, the companions. 'appointed time was come that All-wise Providence had designed for the punishment of a sinful world, the whole fabric brake, and the frame of the earth was torn in pieces, as by an earthquake; and those great portions or fragments into which it was divided fell into the abyss, some in one posture, and some in another.' The waters of course now appeared, and the author gives a fine description of their tumultuous raging, caused by the precipitation of the solid fragments into their bosom. The pressure of such masses falling into the abyss, could not but impel the water with so much strength as would carry it up to a great height in the air, and to the top of anything that lay in its way; any eminency, or high fragment whatsoever: and then rolling back again, it would sweep down with it whatsoever it rushed upon-woods, buildings, living creatures-and carry them all headlong into the great gulf. Sometimes a mass of water would be quite struck off and separate from the rest, and tossed through the air like a flying river; but the common motion of the waves was to climb up the hills, or inclined fragments, and then return into the valleys and deeps again, with a perpetual fluctuation going and coming, ascending and descending, till the violence of them being spent by degrees, they settled at last in the places allotted for them; where bounds are set that they cannot pass over, that they return not again to cover the earth.

4

*

$

Thus the flood came to its height; and it is not easy to represent to ourselves this strange scene of things, when the deluge was in its fury and extremity; when the earth was broken and swallowed up in the abyss, whose raging waters rose higher than the mountains, and filled the air with broken waves, with an universal mist, and with thick darkness, so as nature seemed to be in a second chaos; and upon this chaos rid the distressed ark that bore the small remains of mankind. No sea was ever so tumultuous as this, nor is there anything in present nature to be compared with the disorder of these waters. All the poetry, and all the hyperboles that are used in the description of storms and raging seas, were literally true in this, if not beneath it. The ark was really carried to the tops of the highest mountains, and into the places of the clouds, and thrown down again into the deepest gulfs; and to this very state of the deluge and of the ark, which was a type of the church in this world, David seems to have alluded in the name of the church (Psal. xlii. 7.) "Abyss calls upon abyss at the noise of thy cataracts or water-spouts; all thy waves and billows have gone over me.' It was no doubt an extraordi nary and miraculous providence that could make a vessel so ill-manned live upon such a sea; that kept it from being dashed against the hills, or overwhelmed in the deeps. That abyss which had devoured and swallowed up whole forests of woods, cities, and provinces, nay, the whole earth, when it had conquered

It

*

I acknowledge he chose that state of life, not out of any poetical rapture, but upon a steady and sober experience of human things. But, however, I cannot applaud it in him. It is certainly a great disparagement to virtue and learning itself, that those very things which only make men useful in the world should incline them to leave it. This ought never to be allowed to good men, unless the bad had the same moderation, and were willing to follow them into the wilderness. But if the one shall contend to get out of employment, while the other strive to get into it, the affairs of mankind are like to be in so ill a posture, that even the good men themselves will hardly be able to enjoy their very retreats in security.

DR THOMAS BURNET.

DR THOMAS BURNET (1635-1715), master of the Charter-house in London, and who probably would have succeeded Tillotson as archbishop of Canterbury, had not his heterodoxy stood in the way, acquired great celebrity by the publication of a work entitled The Sacred Theory of the Earth; containing an Account of the Original of the Earth, and of all the General Changes which it hath already undergone, or is to undergo, till the Consummation of all Things. The first edition, which was written in Latin, appeared in 1680; but an English translation was published by the author in 1691. In a geological point of view, this treatise is totally worthless, from its want of a basis of ascertained facts; but it abounds in fine composition and magnificent description, and amply deserves perusal as an eloquent and ingenious philosophical romance. The author's attention seems to have been attracted to the subject by the unequal and ragged appearance of the earth's surface, which seemed to indicate the globe to be the ruin of some more regular fabric. He tells that in a journey across the Alps and Apennines, the sight of those wild, vast, and indigested heaps of stones and earth did so deeply strike my fancy, that I was not easy till I could give myself some tolerable account how that confusion came in nature.' The theory which he formed was the following:-The globe in its chaotic state was a dark fluid mass, in which the elements of air, water, and earth were blended into one universal compound. Gradually, the heavier parts fell towards the centre, and formed a nucleus of solid matter. Around this floated the liquid ingredients, and over them was the still lighter atmospheric air. By and by, the liquid mass became separated into two layers, by the separation of the watery particles from those of an oily composition, which, being the lighter, tended upwards, and, when hardened by time, became a smooth and solid crust. This was the surface of the antediluvian globe. In this smooth earth, says Burnet, were the first scenes of the world, and

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

all, and triumphed over all, could not destroy this single ship. I remember in the story of the Argonautics (Dion. Argonaut. 1. i. v. 47.), when Jason set out to fetch the golden fleece, the poet saith, all the gods that day looked down from heaven to view the ship, and the nymphs stood upon the mountain-tops to see the noble youth of Thessaly pulling at the cars; we may with more reason suppose the good angels to have looked down upon this ship of Noah's, and that not out of curiosity, as idle spectators, but with a passionate concern for its safety and deliverance. A ship, whose cargo was no less than a whole world; that carried the fortune and hopes of all posterity; and if this had perished, the earth, for anything we know, had been nothing but a desert, a great ruin, a dead heap of rubbish, from the deluge to the conflagration. But death and hell, the grave and destruction, have their bounds.'

We cannot pursue the author into further details, nor analyse the ingenious reasoning by which he endeavours to defend his theory from some of the many insuperable objections which the plainest facts of geology and natural philosophy furnish against it. The concluding part of his work relates to the final conflagration of the world, by which, he supposes, the surface of the new chaotic mass will be restored to smoothness, and leave a capacity for another world to rise from it.' Here the style of the author rises into a magnificence worthy of the sublimity of the theme, and he concludes with impressive and appropriate reflections on the transient nature of earthly things. The passage is aptly termed by Addison the author's funeral oration over his globe.

and transient glory of all this habitable world; how, by the force of one element breaking loose upon the rest, all the varieties of nature, all the works of art, all the labours of men, are reduced to nothing; all that we admired and adored before, as great and magnificent, is obliterated or vanished; and another form and face of things, plain, simple, and everywhere the same, overspreads the whole earth. Where are now the great empires of the world, and their great imperial cities? Their pillars, trophies, and monuments of glory? Show me where they stood, read the inscription, tell me the victor's name! What remains, what impressions, what difference or distinction do you see in this mass of fire? Rome itself, eternal Rome, the great city, the empress of the world, whose domination and superstition, ancient and modern, make a great part of the history of this earth, what is become of her now? She laid her foundations deep, and her palaces were strong and sumptuous: she glorified herself, and lived deliciously, and said in her heart, I sit a queen, and shall see no sorrow. But her hour is come; she is wiped away from the face of the earth, and buried in perpetual oblivion. But it is not cities only, and works of men's hands, but the everlasting hills, the mountains and rocks of the earth, are melted as wax before the sun, and their place is nowhere found. Here stood the Alps, a prodigious range of stone, the load of the earth, that covered many countries, and reached their arms from the ocean to the Black Sea; this huge mass of stone is softened and dissolved, as a tender cloud into rain. Here stood the African mountains, and Atlas with his top above the clouds. There mountains of Asia. And yonder, towards the north, was frozen Caucasus, and Taurus, and Imaus, and the stood the Riphæan hills, clothed in ice and snow. All these are vanished, dropped away as the snow upon their heads, and swallowed up in a red sea of fire. (Rev. xv. 3.) Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints. Hallelujah.

[The final Conflagration of the Globe.]

But 'tis not possible, from any station, to have a full prospect of this last scene of the earth, for 'tis a mixture of fire and darkness. This new temple is filled with smoke while it is consecrating, and none can enter into it. But I am apt to think, if we could look down upon this burning world from above the clouds, and have a full view of it in all its parts, we should think it a lively representation of hell itself; for fire and darkness are the two chief things by which that state or that place uses to be described; and they are both here mingled together, with all other ingredients that make that tophet that is prepared of old (Isaiah xxx.) Here are lakes of fire and brimstone, rivers of melted glowing matter, ten thousand volcanos vomiting flames all at once, thick darkness, and pillars of smoke twisted about with wreaths of flame, like fiery snakes; mountains of earth thrown up into the air, and the heavens dropping down in lumps of fire. These things will all be literally true concerning that day and that state of the earth. And if we suppose Beelzebub and his apostate crew in the midst of this fiery furnace (and I know not where they can be else), it will be hard to find any part of the universe, or any state | of things, that answers to so many of the properties and characters of hell, as this which is now before us. But if we suppose the storm over, and that the fire hath gotten an entire victory over all other bodies, and subdued everything to itself, the conflagration will end in a deluge of fire, or in a sea of fire, covering the whole globe of the earth; for, when the exterior region of the earth is melted into a fluor, like molten glass or running metal, it will, according to the nature of other fluids, fill all vacuities and depressions, and fall into a regular surface, at an equal distance everywhere from its centre. This sea of fire, like the first abyss, will cover the face of the whole earth, make a kind of second chaos, and leave a capacity for another world to rise from it. But that is not our present business. Let us only, if you please, to take leave of this subject, reflect, upon this occasion, on the vanity |

Dr Burnet is led by his subject into the following energetic

[Rebuke of Human Pride.]

We must not, by any means, admit or imagine that all nature, and this great universe, was made only for the sake of man, the meanest of all intelligent creatures that we know of; nor that this little planet where we sojourn for a few days, is the only habitable part of the universe: these are thoughts so groundless and unreasonable in themselves, and also so derogatory to the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of the First Cause, that as they are absurd in reason, so they deserve far better to be marked and censured for heresies in religion, than many opinions that have been censured for such in former ages. How is it possible that it should enter into the thoughts of vain man to believe himself the principal part of God's creation; or that all the rest was ordained for him, for his service or pleasure? Man, whose follies we laugh at every day, or else complain of them; whose pleasures are vanity, and his passions stronger than his reason; who sees himself every way weak and impotent; hath no power over external nature, little over himself; cannot execute so much as his own good resolutions; mutable, irregular, prone to evil. Surely, if we made the least reflection upon ourselves with impartiality, we should be ashamed of such an arrogant thought. How few of these sons of men, for whom, they say, all things were made, are the sons of wisdom! how few find the paths of life! They spend a few days in folly and sin, and then go down to the regions of death and misery. And is it possible to believe that all nature, and all Providence, are only,

or principally, for their sake? Is it not a more reasonable character or conclusion which the prophet hath made, Surely every man is vanity? Man that comes into the world at the pleasure of another, and goes out by a hundred accidents; his birth and education generally determine his fate here, and neither of those are in his own power; his wit, also, is as uncertain as his fortune; he hath not the moulding of his own brain, however a knock on the head makes him a fool, stupid as the beasts of the field; and a little excess of passion or melancholy makes him worse, mad and frantic. In his best senses he is shallow, and of little understanding; and in nothing more blind and ignorant than in things sacred and divine; he falls down before a stock or a stone, and says, Thou art my God; he can believe nonsense and contradictions, and make it his religion to do so. And is this the great creature which God hath made by the might of his power, and for the honour of his majesty? upon whom all things must wait, to whom all things must be subservient? Methinks, we have noted weaknesses and follies enough in the nature of man; this need not be added as the top and accomplishment, that with all these he is so vain as to think that all the rest of the world was made for his sake.

Figuring to himself the waters of the sea dried up, he thus grandly describes the appearance of

[The Dry Bed of the Ocean.]

That vast and prodigious cavity that runs quite round the globe, and reacheth, for ought we know, from pole to pole, and in many places is unsearchably deep when I present this great gulf to my imagination, emptied of all its waters, naked and gaping at the sun, stretching its jaws from one end of the earth to another, it appears to me the most ghastly thing in nature. What hands or instruments could work a trench in the body of the earth of this vastness, and lay mountains and rocks on the side of it, as ramparts to inclose it?

*

But if we should suppose the ocean dry, and that we looked down from the top of some high cloud upon the empty shell, how horridly and barbarously would it look! And with what amazement should we see it under us like an open hell, or a wide bottomless pit! So deep, and hollow, and vast; so broken and confused; so everyway deformed and monstrous. This would effectually awaken our imagination, and make us inquire and wonder how such a thing came in nature; from what causes, by what force or engines, could the earth be torn in this prodigious manner? Did they dig the sea with spades, and carry out the moulds in hand-baskets? Where are the entrails laid? And how did they cleave the rocks asunder? If as many pioneers as the army of Xerxes had been at work ever since the beginning of the world, they could not have made a ditch of this greatness. According to the proportions taken before in the second chapter, the cavity or capacity of the sea-channel will amount to no less than 4,639,090 cubical miles. Nor is it the greatness only, but that wild and multifarious confusion which we see in the parts and fashion of it, that makes it strange and unaccountable. It is another chaos in its kind; who can paint the scenes of it? Gulfs, and precipices, and cataracts; pits within pits, and rocks under rocks; broken mountains, and ragged islands, that look as if they had been countries pulled up by the roots, and planted in the sea.

Besides his 'Sacred Theory of the Earth,' Burnet wrote a work entitled Archeologia Philosophica, giving an account of the opinions of the ancients concerning the nature of things; with the design, as he says,

'to vindicate and give antiquity its due praise, and to show that neither were our ancestors dunces, nor was wisdom or true philosophy born with us.' His opinion of the ancient philosophers, however, seems to have been considerably exalted by his finding in their views some traces of his own favourite theory. In this work he gave much offence to the orthodox, by expressing some free opinions concerning the Mosaic account of the creation, the fall of man, and the deluge; he even considered the narrative of the fall to be an allegorical relation, as many of the fathers had anciently taught. In a posthumous work On Christian Faith and Duties, he gives the preference to those parts of Christianity which refer to human conduct over the disputed doctrinal portions. Another posthumous treatise, On the State of the Dead and Reviving, is remarkable as maintaining the finity of hell torments, and the ultimate salvation of the whole human race. It is said that, in consequence of holding these views, Dr Burnet, notwithstanding the patronage of Tillotson, and the favour of King William, was shut out by a combination of his clerical brethren from high ecclesiastical preferment.

DR HENRY MORE.

The last of the divines of the established church whom we shall mention at present is DR HENRY MORE (1614-1687), a very learned cultivator of the Platonic philosophy. He devoted his life to study and religious meditation at Cambridge, and strenu ously refused to accept preferment in the church, which would have rendered it necessary for him to leave what he called his paradise. The friends of this recluse philosopher once attempted to decoy him into a bishopric, and got him as far as Whitehall, that he might kiss the king's hand on the oc casion; but when told for what purpose they had brought him thither, he refused to move a step farther. Dr More published several works for the promotion of religion and virtue; his moral doctrines are admirable, but some of his views are strongly tinged with mysticism, and grounded on a philosophy which, though considerable attention was paid to it at the time when he lived, has now fallen into general neglect as visionary and absurd. He was one of those who held the opinion that the wisdom of the Hebrews had descended to Pythagoras, and from him to Plato, in the writings of whom and his followers he believed that the true principles of divine philosophy were consequently to be found. For such a theory, it is hardly necessary to remark, there is no good foundation, the account given of Pythagoras's travels into the east being of uncertain authority, and there being no evidence that he had any com munication with the Hebrew prophets. Dr More truth, and is celebrated by his contemporaries as a was an enthusiastic and disinterested inquirer after He once observed to a friend, that he was thought man of uncommon benevolence, purity, and devotion. by some to have a soft head, but he thanked God he the idea that supernatural communications were had a soft heart.' Among his visionary notions was made to him, under the direction of God, by a parti cular genius or demon like that of Socrates; that he was unusually gifted with the power of explaining

6

1

* The two works mentioned above were originally published in Latin, under the titles De Fide et Officiis Christianorum, and lated; though the author, apprehensive of bad consequences De Statu Mortuorum et Resurgentium. Both have been trans from the publication of an English version of the latter, strongly cular tongue. protested, in a note, against its being rendered into the verna

[ocr errors]

the prophecies of Scripture; and that, when writing on that subject, he was under the guidance of a special providence. He was, moreover, credulous as to apparitions and witchcraft, but in this differed little from many intelligent and learned contemporaries. His works, though now little read, were extremely popular in the latter half of the seventeenth century. The principal of them are, The Mystery of Godliness, The Mystery of Iniquity, A Discourse on the Immortality of the Soul, Ethical and Metaphysical Manuals, several treatises against atheism and idolatry, and a dull and tedious poem, entitled A Platonic Song of the Soul. The following two stanzas are a favourable specimen of the last-named work :

[Nature of the Evidence of the Existence of God.]

When I say that I will demonstrate that there is a God, I do not promise that I will always produce such arguments that the reader shall acknowledge so strong, as he shall be forced to confess that it is utterly unpossible that it should be otherwise; but they shall be such as shall deserve full assent, and win full assent from any unprejudiced mind.

[The Soul and Body.]

For I conceive that we may give full assent to that which, notwithstanding, may possibly be otherwise; which I shall illustrate by several examples :-Suppose two men got to the top of Mount Athos, and there viewing a stone in the form of an altar with ashes on it, and the footsteps of men on those ashes, or some words, if you will, as Optimo Maximo, or To agnosto Theo, or the like, written or scrawled out upon the ashes; and one of them should cry out, Assuredly here have been some men that have done this. But the other, more nice than wise, should reply, Nay, it may possibly be otherwise; for this stone may have naturally grown into this very shape, and the seeming ashes may be no ashes, that is, no remainders of any fuel burnt there; but some unexplicable and unperceptible motions of the air, or other particles of this

Like to a light fast lock'd in lanthorn dark,
Whereby by night our wary steps we guide
In slabby streets, and dirty channels mark,
Some weaker rays through the black top do glide,
And flusher streams perhaps from horny side.
But when we've pass'd the peril of the way,
Arriv'd at home, and laid that case aside,
The naked light how clearly doth it ray,

And spread its joyful beams as bright as summer's day. fluid matter that is active everywhere, have wrought

some parts of the matter into the form and nature of ashes, and have fridged and played about so, that they have also figured those intelligible characters in the same. But would not anybody deem it a piece of weakness, no less than dotage, for the other man one whit to recede from his former apprehension, but as fully as ever to agree with what he pronounced first, notwithstanding this bare possibility of being other

Even so the soul, in this contracted state,
Confin'd to these strait instruments of sense,
More dull and narrowly doth operate;
At this hole hears, the sight must ray from thence,
Here tastes, there smells: but when she's gone from
hence,

Like naked lamp she is one shining sphere,
And round about has perfect cognoscence
Whate'er in her horizon doth appear:
She is one orb of sense, all eye, all airy ear.

wise?

So of anchors that have been digged up, either in plain fields or mountainous places, as also the Roman urns with ashes and inscriptions, as Severianus Ful. Linus, and the like, or Roman coins with the effigies and names of the Cæsars on them, or that which is more ordinary, the skulls of men in every churchyard, with the right figure, and all those necessary perforations for the passing of the vessels, besides those conspicuous [Devout Contemplation of the Works of God.] hollows for the eyes and rows of teeth, the os styloeides, ethoeides, and what not. If a man will say of them, Whether, therefore, our eyes be struck with that that the motions of the particles of the matter, or more radiant lustre of the sun, or whether we behold some hidden spermatic power, has gendered these, both that more placid and calm beauty of the moon, or be anchors, urns, coins, and skulls, in the ground, he doth refreshed with the sweet breathings of the open air, but pronounce that which human reason must admit or be taken up with the contemplation of those pure is possible. Nor can any man ever so demonstrate sparkling lights of the stars, or stand astonished at that those coins, anchors, and urns, were once the the gushing downfalls of some mighty river, as that artifice of men, or that this or that skull was once a of Nile, or admire the height of some insuperable part of a living man, that he shall force an acknowand inaccessible rock or mountain; or with a plea-ledgment that it is impossible that it should be othersant horror and chillness look upon some silent wood, wise. But yet I do not think that any man, without or solemn shady grove; whether the face of heaven doing manifest violence to his faculties, can at all smile upon us with a cheerful bright azure, or look suspend his assent, but freely and fully agree that upon us with a more sad and minacious countenance, this or that skull was once a part of a living man, dark pitchy clouds being charged with thunder and and that these anchors, urns, and coins, were certainly lightning to let fly against the earth; whether the once made by human artifice, notwithstanding the air be cool, fresh, and healthful; or whether it be possibility of being otherwise. sultry, contagious, and pestilential, so that, while we gasp for life, we are forced to draw in a sudden and inevitable death; whether the earth stand firm, and prove favourable to the industry of the artificer; or whether she threaten the very foundations of our buildings with trembling and tottering earthquakes, accompanied with remugient echoes and ghastly murmurs from below; whatever notable emergencies happen for either good or bad to us, these are the Joves and Vejoves that we worship, which to us are not many, but one God, who has the only power to save or destroy. And therefore, from whatever part of this magnificent temple of his-the world-he shall send forth his voice, our hearts and eyes are presently directed thitherward with fear, love, and veneration.

And what I have said of assent is also true in dissent; for the mind of man, not crazed nor prejudiced, will fully and irreconcilably disagree, by its own natural sagacity, where, notwithstanding, the thing that it doth thus resolvedly and undoubtedly reject, no wit of man can prove impossible to be true. As if we should make such a fiction as this-that Archimedes, with the same individual body that he had when the soldiers slew him, is now safely intent upon his geometrical figures under ground, at the centre of the earth, far from the noise and din of this world, that might disturb his meditations, or distract him in his curious delineations he makes with his rod upon the dust; which no man living can prove impossible. Yet if any man does not as irreconcilably dissent from

Of the prose composition of Dr More, the subjoined extracts, the first from his Mystery of Godliness,' and the second from An Antidote against Atheism,' will serve as specimens :

·

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »