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times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation backward from ourselves.
Another error, induced by the former, is a distrust that any thing should be now to be found out, which the world should have missed and passed over so long time; as if the same objection were to be made to time, that Lucian maketh to Jupiter and other the heathen gods, of which he wondereth, that they begot so many children in old time, and begot none in his time; and asketh, whether they were become septuagenary, or whether the law Papia, made against old men's marriages, had restrained them. So it seemeth men doubt lest time is become past children and generation; wherein, contrariwise, we see commonly the levity and inconstancy of men's judgments, which, till a matter be done, wonder that it can be done; and as soon as it is done, wonder again that it was no sooner done; as we see in the expedition of Alexander into Asia, which at first was prejudged as a vast and impossible enterprise: and yet afterwards it pleaseth Livy to make no more of it than this; "Nil aliud, quam bene ausus est vana contemnere:" and the same happened to Columbus in the western navigation. But in intellectual matters, it is much more common; as may be seen in most of the propositions of Euclid, which till they be demonstrated, they seem strange to our assent; but being demonstrated, our mind accepteth of them by a kind of relation, as the lawyers speak, as if we had known them before.
Another error, that hath also some affinity with the former, is a conceit, that of former opinions or sects, after variety and examination, the best hath still prevailed, and suppressed the rest: so as, if a man should begin the labour of a new search, he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion; as if the multitude, or the wisest, for the multitude's sake, were not ready to give passage, rather to that which is popular and superficial, than to that which is substantial and profound: for the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid.
Another error, of a diverse nature from all the former, is the over early and peremptory reduction of knowledge into arts and methods; from which time commonly sciences receive small or no augmentation. But as young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, do seldom grow to a farther stature: so knowledge, while it is in aphorisms and observations, it is in growth; but when it once is comprehended in exact methods, it may perchance be farther polished and illustrated, and accommodated for use and practice; but it increaseth no more in bulk and substance.
Another error which doth succeed that which we last mentioned, is, that after the distribution of particular arts and sciences, men have abandoned universality, or philosophia prima; which cannot but cease, and stop all progression. For no perfect
discovery can be made upon a flat or a level: neither is it possible to discover the more remote and deeper parts of any science, if you stand but upon the level of the same science, and ascend not to a higher science.
Another error hath proceeded from too great a reverence, and a kind of adoration of the mind and understanding of man; by means whereof, men have withdrawn themselves too much from the contemplation of nature, and the observations of experience, and have tumbled up and down in their own reason and conceits. Upon these intellectualists, which are, notwithstanding, commonly taken for the most sublime and divine philosophers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, "Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and not in the great and common world;" for they disdain to spell. and so by degrees to read in the volume of God's works; and contrariwise, by continual meditation and agitation of wit, do urge and as it were invocate their own spirits to divine, and give oracles unto them, whereby they are deservedly deluded.
Another error that hath some connexion with this latter, is, that men have used to infect their meditations, opinions, and doctrines, with some conceits which they have most admired, or some sciences which they have most applied; and given all things else a tincture according to them, utterly untrue and improper. So hath Plato intermingled his philosophy with theology, and Aristotle with logic; and the second school of Plato, Proclus and the rest, with the mathematics. For these were the arts which had a kind of primogeniture with them severally. So have the alchemists made a philosophy out of a few experiments of the furnace; and Gilbertus, our countryman, hath made a philosophy ont of the observations of a loadstone. So Cicero, when, reciting the several opinions of the nature of the soul, he found a musician, that held the soul was but a harmony, saith pleasantly, "Hic ab arte suâ non recessit," etc. But of these conceits Aristotle speaketh seriously and wisely, when he saith, “Qui respiciunt ad pauca, de facili pronuntiant."
Another error is an impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion without due and mature suspension of judgment. For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action, commonly spoken of by the ancients: the one plain and smooth in the beginning, and in the end impassable; the other rough and troublesome in the entrance, but after a while fair and even so it is in contemplation; if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties,
Another error is in the manner of the tradition and delivery of knowledge, which is for the most part magistral and peremptory; and not ingenuous and faithful, in a sort, as may be soonest believed, and not easiliest examined. It is true, that in com pendious treatises for practice, that form is not to be disallowed. But in the true handling of knowledge, men ought not to fall either, on the one side, into the vein of Velleius the Epicurean: "Nil tam metuens, quam ne dubitare aliqua de re videretur:"
nur, on the other side, into Socrates his ironical Subting of all things; but to propound things sincerely, with more or less asseveration, as they stand in a man's own judgment proved more or less. Other errors there are in the scope that men propand to themselves, whereunto they bend their envours: for whereas the more constant and devoted t.nd of professors of any science ought to propound to themselves to make some additions to their ience; they convert their labours to aspire to certain second prizes; as to be a profound interpreter, commentator; to be a sharp champion or defendr; to be a methodical compounder or abridger; and so the patrimony of knowledge cometh to be metimes improved, but seldom augmented.
But the greatest error of all the rest, is the mistaking or misplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge: for men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural carosity, and inquisitive appetite; sometimes to enmain their minds with variety and delight; sometimes for ornament and reputation; and sometimes enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; And most times for lucre and profession; and selA sincerely to give a true account of their gift of mason, to the benefit and use of men: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terrace, for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of state, for a proud mind to raise itself upon; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife and contention; or a shop, for proor sale; and not a rich storehouse, for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate. But this is that which will indeed dignify and exalt knowledge, if contemplation and action may be more early and straitly conjoined and united together than they have been; a conjunction like unto that of the two highest planets, Saturn, the planet of rest and contemplation, and Jupiter, the planet of civil society and action. Howbeit, I do not mean, when I speak of use and action, that end before mentioned of the applying of knowledge to lucre and profession; for I am not ignorant how much that diverteth and terrupteth the prosecution and advancement of knowledge, like unto the golden ball thrown before Atalanta, which while she goeth aside and stoopet, to take up, the race is hindered;
Declinat cursus, aurumque volubile tollit. Neither is my meaning, as was spoken of Socrates, to call philosophy down from heaven to converse apon the earth; that is, to leave natural philosophy de, and to apply knowledge only to manners and policy. But as both heaven and earth do conspire and contribute to the use and benefit of man; so the nd ought to be, from both philosophies to separate and reject vain speculations, and whatsoever is empty and void, and to preserve and augment whatsoever solid and fruitful that knowledge may not be, a courtesan, for pleasure and vanity only, or, as a bond woman, to acquire and gain to her master's ; but, as a spouse, for generation, fruit, and enfort.
Thus have I described and opened, as by a kind of dissection, those peccant humours, the principal of them, which have not only given impediment to the proficience of learning, but have given also occasion to the traducement thereof: wherein if I have been too plain, it must be remembered, "Fidelia vulnera amantis, sed dolosa oscula malignantis."
This, I think, I have gained, that I ought to be the better believed in that which I shall say pertaining to commendation; because I have proceeded so freely in that which concerneth censure. And yet I have no purpose to enter into a laudative of learning, or to make a hymn to the Muses, though I am of opinion that it is long since their rites were duly celebrated: but my intent is, without varnish or amplification, justly to weigh the dignity of knowledge in the balance with other things, and to take the true value thereof by testimonies and arguments divine and human.
First, therefore, let us seek the dignity of knowledge in the archetype or first platform, which is in the attributes and acts of God, as far as they are revealed to man, and may be observed with sobriety; wherein we may not seek it by the name of learning; for all learning is knowledge acquired, and all knowledge in God is original; and therefore we must look for it by another name, that of wisdom or sapience, as the Scriptures call it.
It is so then, that in the word of the creation we see a double emanation of virtue from God; the one referring more properly to power, the other to wisdom; the one expressed in making the subsistence of the matter, and the other in disposing the beauty of the form. This being supposed, it is to be observed, that, for any thing which appeareth in the history of the creation, the confused mass and matter of heaven and earth was made in a moment; and the order and disposition of that chaos, or mass, was the work of six days; such a note of difference it pleased God to put upon the works of power, and the works of wisdom: wherewith concurreth, that in the former it is not set down that God said, "Let there be heaven and earth," as it is set down of the works following; but actually, that God made heaven and earth: the one carrying the style of a manufacture, and the other of a law, decree, or council.
To proceed to that which is next in order, from God to spirits. We find, as far as credit is to be given to the celestial hierarchy of that supposed Dionysius the senator of Athens, the first place or degree is given to the angels of love, which are termed Seraphim; the second to the angels of light, which are termed Cherubim; and the third, and so following places, to thrones, principalities, and the rest, which are all angels of power and ministry; so as the angels of knowledge and illumination are placed before the angels of office and domination.
To descend from spirits and intellectual forms to sensible and material forms; we read the first form that was created was light, which hath a relation and correspondence in nature and corporal things to knowledge in spirits and incorporal things.
So in the distribution of days, we see, the day | As in the law of the leprosy, where it is said, "If wherein God did rest, and contemplate his own works, the whiteness have overspread the flesh, the patient was blessed above all the days wherein he did effect may pass abroad for clean; but if there be any and accomplish them. whole flesh remaining, he is to be shut up for unclean:" one of them noteth a principle of nature, that putrefaction is more contagious before maturity, than after: and another noteth a position of moral philosophy, that men, abandoned to vice, do not so much corrupt manners, as those that are half good and half evil. So in this, and very many other places in that law, there is to be found, besides the theological sense, much aspersion of philosophy.
After the creation was finished, it is set down unto us, that man was placed in the garden to work therein; which work, so appointed to him, could be no other than work of contemplation; that is, when the end of work is but for exercise and experiment, not for necessity; for there being then no reluctation of the creature, nor sweat of the brow, man's employment must of consequence have been matter of delight in the experiment, and not matter of labour for the use. Again, the first acts which man performed in paradise, consisted of the two summary parts of knowledge; the view of creatures, and the imposition of names. As for the knowledge which induced the fall, it was, as was touched before, not the natural knowledge of creatures, but the moral knowledge of good and evil; wherein the supposition was, that God's commandments or prohibitions were not the originals of good and evil, but that they had other beginnings, which man aspired to know, to the end to make a total defection from God, and to depend wholly upon himself.
To pass on in the first event or occurrence after the fall of man, we see, as the Scriptures have infinite mysteries, not violating at all the truth of the story or letter, an image of the two estates, the contemplative state, and the active state, figured in the two persons of Abel and Cain, and in the two simplest and most primitive trades of life; that of the shepherd, who, by reason of his leisure, rest in a place, and living in view of heaven, is a lively image of a contemplative life; and that of the husbandman; where we see again, the favour and election of God went to the shepherd, and not to the tiller of the ground.
So in the age before the flood, the holy records within those few memorials, which are there entered and registered, have vouchsafed to mention, and honour the name of the inventors and authors of music, and works in metal. In the age after the flood, the first great judgment of God upon the ambition of man was the confusion of tongues; whereby the open trade and intercourse of learning and knowledge was chiefly imbarred.
To descend to Moses the lawgiver, and God's first pen: he is adorned by the Scriptures with this addition and commendation, that he was seen in all the learning of the Egyptians;" which nation, we know, was one of the most ancient schools of the world for so Plato brings in the Egyptian priest saying unto Solon, "You Grecians are ever children; you have no knowledge of antiquity, nor antiquity of knowledge." Take a view of the ceremonial law of Moses; you shall find, besides the prefiguration of Christ, the badge or difference of the people of God, the exercise and impression of obedience, and other divine uses and fruits thereof, that some of the most learned Rabbins have travelled profitably, and profoundly to observe, some of them a natural, some of them a moral sense, or reduction of many of the ceremonies and ordinances.
So likewise in that excellent book of Job, if it be revolved with diligence, it will be found pregnant and swelling with natural philosophy: as for example, cosmography, and the roundness of the world; Qui extendit aquilonem super vacuum, et appendit terram super nihilum;" wherein the pensileness of the earth, the pole of the north, and the finiteness or convexity of heaven, are manifestly touched. So again, matter of astronomy; "Spiritus ejus ornavit cœlos, et obstetricante manu ejus eductus est Colu ber tortuosus." And in another place; "Nunquid conjungere valebis micantes stellas Pleiadas, aut gyrum Arcturi poteris dissipare ?" Where the fixing of the stars, ever standing at equal distance, is with great elegancy noted. And in another place; “Qui facit Arcturum, et Oriona, et Hyadas, et interiora Austri;" where again he takes knowledge of the depression of the southern pole, calling it the secrets of the south, because the southern stars were in that climate unseen. Matter of generation; "Annon sicut lac mulsisti me, et sicut caseum coagulasti me," etc.
Matter of minerals; "Habet argentum venarum suarum principia: et auro locus est in quo conflatur, ferrum de terrâ tollitur, et lapis solutus calore in æs vertitur:" and so forwards in that chapter.
So likewise in the person of Solomon the king, we see the gift or endowment of wisdom and learning, both in Solomon's petition, and in God's assent thereunto, preferred before all other terrene and temporal felicity. By virtue of which grant or donative of God, Solomon became enabled, not only to write those excellent parables, or aphorisms, concerning divine and moral philosophy; but also to compile a natural history of all verdure, from the cedar upon the mountain to the moss upon the wall, which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb, and also of all things that breathe or move. Nay, the same Solomon the king, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, "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; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellows in that game, considering the great commandment of wits and means, whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them.
Neither did the dispensation of God vary in the | to the exaltation of the glory of God. For as the umes after our Saviour came into the world; for Psalms and other scriptures do often invite us to our Saviour himself did first show his power to sub- consider and magnify the great and wonderful works due ignorance, by his conference with the priests of God; so if we should rest only in the contemand doctors of the law, before he showed his power plation of the exterior of them, as they first offer to subdue nature by his miracles. And the coming themselves to our senses, we should do a like injury of the Holy Spirit was chiefly figured and expressed unto the majesty of God, as if we should judge or in the similitude and gift of tongues, which are but construe of the store of some excellent jeweller, by vehicula scientiæ. that only which is set out toward the street in his shop. The other, because they minister a singular help and preservative against unbelief and error: for our Saviour saith, "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; whereof the latter is a key unto the former: not only opening our understanding to conceive the true sense of the Scriptures, by the general notions of reason and rules of speech; but chiefly opening our belief, in drawing us into a due meditation of the omnipotency of God, which is chiefly signed and engraven upon his works. Thus much, therefore, for Divine testimony and evidence, concerning the true dignity and value of learning.
So in the election of those instruments, which it pleased God to use for the plantation of the faith, notwithstanding that at the first he did employ persons altogether unlearned, otherwise than by inspiration, more evidently to declare his immediate working, and to abase all human wisdom or knowage; yet, nevertheless, that counsel of his was no oner performed, but in the next vicissitude and accession, he did send his divine truth into the world, waited on with other learnings, as with servants or hand-maids: for so we see St. Paul, who was the only learned amongst the apostles, had his pen ost used in the Scriptures of the New Testament. So again, we find that many of the ancient bishops and fathers of the church were excellently read and studied in all the learning of the heathen; insomuch, that the edict of the emperor Julianus, whereby it was interdicted unto christians to be admitted into schools, lectures, or exercises of learning, was teemed and accounted a more pernicious engine and machination against the christian faith, than were all the sanguinary prosecutions of his predeessors; neither could the emulation and jealousy of Gregory, the first of that name, bishop of Rome, *r obtain the opinion of piety or devotion; but ontrariwise received the censure of humour, maligtaly, and pusillanimity, even amongst holy men; in that he designed to obliterate and extinguish the memory of heathen antiquity and authors. But contrariwise it was the christian church, which, amidst the inundations of the Scythians on the one side from the north-west, and the Saracens from the et, did preserve, in the sacred lap and bosom thereof, the precious relics even of heathen learning, which otherwise had been extinguished, as if no such thing had ever been.
And we see before our eyes, that in the age of ourselves and our fathers, when it pleased God to call the church of Rome to account for their degenerate manners and ceremonies, and sundry doctrines obaxious, and framed to uphold the same abuses; at one and the same time it was ordained by the Divine Providence, that there should attend withal a renovation, a new spring of all other knowledges: and, the other side, we see the Jesuits, who partly in themselves, and partly by the emulation and provocation of their example, have much quickened and strengthened the state of learning; we see, I say, what notable service and reparation they have done
to the Roman see.
Wherefore, to conclude this part, let it be observed, that there be two principal duties and services, besides ornament and illustration, which philosophy and human learning do perform to faith and religion. The one, because they are an effectual inducement
As for human proofs, it is so large a field, as, in a discourse of this nature and brevity, it is fit rather to use choice of those things which we shall produce, than to embrace the variety of them. First, therefore, in the degrees of human honour amongst the heathen, it was the highest, to obtain to a veneration and adoration as a god. This unto the christians is as the forbidden fruit. But we speak now separately of human testimony; according to which, that which the Grecians call "apotheosis," and the Latins, "relatio inter divos," was the supreme honour which man could attribute unto man; especially when it was given, not by a formal decree or act of state, as it was used among the Roman emperors, but by an inward assent and belief. Which honour being so high had also a degree or middle term; for there were reckoned above human honours, honours heroical and divine: in the attribution and distribution of which honours, we see, antiquity made this difference: that whereas founders and uniters of states and cities, lawgivers, extirpators of tyrants, fathers of the people, and other eminent persons in civil merit, were honoured but with the titles of worthies or demigods, such as were Hercules, Theseus, Minos, Romulus, and the like: on the other side, such as were inventors and authors of new arts, endowments, and commodities towards man's life, were ever consecrated amongst the gods themselves: as were Ceres, Bacchus, Mercurius, Apollo, and others; and justly for the merit of the former is confined within the circle of an age or a nation; and is like fruitful showers, which though they be profitable and good, yet serve but for that season, and for a latitude of ground where they fall; but the other is indeed like the benefits of heaven, which are permanent and universal. The former, again, is mixed with strife and perturbation; but the latter hath the true character of divine presence, coming in aura leni, without noise or agitation.
Neither is certainly that other merit of learning, | in repressing the inconveniences which grow from man to man, much inferior to the former, of relieving the necessities which arise from nature; which merit was livelily set forth by the ancients in that feigned relation of Orpheus's theatre, where all beasts and birds assembled, and, forgetting their several appetites, some of prey, some of game, some of quarrel, stood all sociably together, listening to the airs and accords of the harp; the sound whereof no sooner ceased, or was drowned by some louder noise, but every beast returned to his own nature; wherein is aptly described the nature and condition of men, who are full of savage and unreclaimed desires of profit, of lust, of revenge; which as long as they give ear to precepts, to laws, to religion, sweetly touched with eloquence and persuasion of books, of sermons, of harangues, so long is society and peace maintained; but if these instruments be silent, or that sedition and tumult make them not audible, all things dissolve into anarchy and confusion.
But this appears more manifestly, when kings themselves, or persons of authority under them, or other governors in commonwealths and popular estates, are endued with learning. For although he might be thought partial to his own profession, that said, "Then should people and estates be happy, when either kings were philosophers, or philosophers kings;" yet so much is verified by experience, that under wise and learned princes and governors there have been ever the best times: for howsoever kings may have their imperfections in their passions and customs; yet if they be illuminate by learning, they have those notions of religion, policy, and morality, which do preserve them; and refrain them from all ruinous and peremptory errors and excesses, whispering evermore in their ears, when counsellors and servants stand mute and silent. And senators, or counsellors likewise, which be learned, do proceed upon more safe and substantial principles, than counsellors which are only men of experience; the one sort keeping dangers afar off, whereas the other discover them not till they come near hand, and then trust to the agility of their wit to ward off or avoid them.
Which felicity of times under learned princes, to keep still the law of brevity, by using the most eminent and selected examples, doth best appear in the age which passed from the death of Domitian the emperor, until the reign of Commodus; comprehending a succession of six princes, all learned, or singular favourers and advancers of learning; which age, for temporal respects, was the most happy and flourishing that ever the Roman empire, which then was a model of the world, enjoyed; a matter revealed and prefigured unto Domitian in a dream the night before he was slain; for he thought there was grown behind upon his shoulders a neck and a head of gold which came accordingly to pass in those golden times which succeeded; of which princes we will make some commemoration : wherein although the matter will be vulgar, and may be thought fitter for a declamation, than agreeable to a treatise en- |
folded as this is; yet because it is pertinent to the point in hand, "neque semper arcum tendit Apollo," and to name them only were too naked and cursory, I will not omit it altogether.
The first was Nerva, the excellent temper of whose government is by a glance in Cornelius Tacitus touched to the life: " Postquam divus Nerva res olim insociabiles miscuisset, imperium et libertatem." And in token of his learning, the last act of his short reign, left to memory, was a missive to his adopted son Trajan, proceeding upon some inward discontent at the ingratitude of the times, comprehended in a verse of Homer's.
Telis, Phoebe, tuis lacrymas ulciscere nostras. Trajan, who succeeded, was for his person not learned: but if we will hearken to the speech of our Saviour, that saith, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet, shall have a prophet's reward," he deserveth to be placed amongst the most learned princes; for there was not a greater admirer of learning, or benefactor of learning; a founder of famous libraries, a perpetual advancer of learned men to office, and a familiar converser with learned professors and preceptors, who were noted to have then most credit in court. On the other side, how much Trajan's virtue and government was admired and renowned, surely no testimony of grave and faithful history doth more livelily set forth, than that legend tale of Gregorius Magnus, bishop of Rome, who was noted for the extreme envy he bore towards all heathen excellency; and yet he is reported, out of the love and estimation of Trajan's moral virtues, to have made unto God passionate and fervent prayers for the delivery of his soul out of hell; and to have obtained it, with a caveat, that he should make no more such petitions. In this prince's time also, the persecutions against the christians received intermission, upon the certificate of Plinius Secundus, a man of excellent learning, and by Trajan advanced.
Adrian, his successor, was the most curious man that lived, and the most universal inquirer; insomuch as it was noted for an error in his mind, that he desired to comprehend all things, and not to reserve himself for the worthiest things; falling into the like humour that was long before noted in Philip of Macedon, who, when he would needs overrule and put down an excellent musician, in an argument touching music, was well answered by him again, "God forbid, sir," saith he, "that your fortune should be so bad, as to know these things better than I." It pleased God likewise to use the curiosity of this emperor, as an inducement to the peace of his church in those days. For having Christ in veneration, not as a God or Saviour, but as a wonder or novelty; and having his picture in his gallery, matched with Apollonius, with whom, in his vain imagination, he thought he had some conformity, yet it served the turn to allay the bitter hatred of those times against the christian name, so as the church had peace during his time. And for his government civil, although he did not attain to that of Trajan's, in the glory of arms, or perfection of justice; yet in deserving of the weal of the subject he