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moon to be the swiftest of the planets in motion, and temerity to answer, glory to know, doubt to contrathe rest in order, the higher the slower; and so are dict, end to gain, sloth to search, seeking things in compelled to imagine a double motion : whereas words, resting in part of nature; these and the like, how evident is it, that that which they call a con have been the things which have forbidden the happy trary motion, is but an abatement of motion. The match between the mind of man and the nature of fixed stars overgo Saturn, and so in them and the things; and in place thereof have married it to rest all is but one motion, and the nearer the earth vain notions and blind experiments : and what the the slower. A motion also whereof air and water posterity and issue of so honourable a match may be, do participate, though much interrupted. But why it is not hard to consider. Printing, a gross invendo I in a conference of pleasure enter into these tion; artillery, a thing that lay not far out of the great matters, in sort that pretending to know much, way ; the needle, a thing partly known before: what I should forget what is seasonable ? Pardon me, it a change have these three made in the world in was because all things may be endowed and adorned these times; the one in state of learning, the other with speeches, but knowledge itself is more beauti- in the state of war, the third in the state of treasure, ful than any apparel of words that can be put upon commodities, and navigation! And those, I say, it. And let not me seem arrogant without respect were but stumbled upon and lighted upon by chance. to these great reputed authors. Let me so give Therefore, no doubt, the sovereignty of man lieth every man his due, as I give Time his due, which hid in knowledge ; wherein many things are reser
served, is to discover truth. Many of these men had great which kings with their treasure cannot buy, nor with wits, far above mine own, and so are many in the their force command; their spials and intelligenuniversities of Europe at this day. But alas, they cers can give no news of them, their seamen and learn nothing there but to believe : first to believe discoverers cannot sail where they grow : now we that others know that which they know not; and govern nature in opinions, but we are thrall unto after themselves know that which they know not. her in necessity ; but if we would be led by her in But indeed facility to believe, impatience to doubt, I invention, we should command her in action.
THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE :
ANNOTATIONS OF HERMES STELLA.
A FEW FRAGMENTS OF THE FIRST BOOK
[ None of the Annotations of Stella are set down in these Fragments.)
and all other errors of religion have ever confessed CHAPTER I.
that it sounds not like man, “ Love your enemies;
be you like unto your heavenly Father, that sufferof the limits and end of knowledge.
eth his rain to fall both upon the just and the unIn the divine nature, both religion and philo-just,” doth well declare, that we can in that point sophy hath acknowledged goodness in perfection, commit no excess. So again we find it often rescience or providence comprehending all things, and peated in the old law, “Be you holy as I am holy;" absolute sovereignty or kingdom. In aspiring to and what is holiness else but goodness, as we conthe throne of power, the angels transgressed and sider it separate, and guarded from all mixture, and fell; in presuming to come within the oracle of all access of evil ? knowledge, man transgressed and fell; but in pur Wherefore seeing that knowledge is of the num. suit towards the similitude of God's goodness or ber of those things which are to be accepted of with love, which is one thing, for love is nothing else caution and distinction; being now to open a founbut goodness put in motion or applied, neither tain, such as it is not easy to discern where the man or spirit ever hath transgressed, or shall issues and streams thereof will take and fall; I transgress.
thought it good and necessary in the first place, to The angel of light that was, when he presumed make a strong and sound head or bank to rule and before his fall, said within himself, “ I will ascend guide the course of the waters ; by setting down and be like unto the Highest;" not God, but the this position or firmament, namely, “That all knowHighest. To be like to God in goodness, was no ledge is to be limited by religion, and to be referred part of his emulation : knowledge, being in creation to use and action.” an angel of light, was not the want which did most For if any man shall think, by view and inquiry solicit him; only because he was a minister he into these sensible and material things, to attain to aimed at a supremacy; therefore his climbing or any light for the revealing of the nature or will of ascension was turned into a throwing down or pre- God; he shall dangerously abuse himself. It is cipitation.
true, that the contemplation of the creatures of God Man on the other side, when he was tempted be- hath for end, as to the natures of the creatures fore he fell, had offered unto him this suggestion, themselves, knowledge ; but as to the nature of God, " that he should be like unto God.” But how ? not no knowledge, but wonder : which is nothing else simply, but in this part, “ knowing good and evil.” but contemplation broken off, or losing itself. Nay For being in his creation invested with sovereignty farther, as it was aptly said by one of Plato's school, of all inferior creatures, he was not needy of power “ The sense of man resembles the sun, which openor dominion. But again, being a spirit newly en eth and revealeth the terrestrial globe, but obscureth closed in a body of earth, he was fittest to be allured and concealeth the celestial ;" so doth the sense with appetite of light and liberty of knowledge. discover natural things, but darken and shut up Therefore this approaching and intruding into God's divine. And this appeareth sufficiently in that there secrets and mysteries, was rewarded with a farther is no proceeding in invention of knowledge, but by removing and estranging from God's presence. similitude; and God is only self-like, having nothing But as to the goodness of God, there is no danger in common with any creature, otherwise than as in in contending or advancing towards a similitude shadow and trope. Therefore attend his will as thereof; as that which is open and propounded to himself openeth it, and give unto faith that which our imitation. For that voice, whereof the heathen I unto faith belongeth ; for more worthy it is to be
lieve, than to think or know, considering that in condition of man as hath most excellency and knowledge, as we now are capable of it, the mind greatest commandment of wits and means, alluding suffereth from inferior natures ; but in all belief it also to his own person, being truly one of those suffereth from a spirit, which it holdeth superior, clearest burning lamps, whereof himself speaketh and more authorized than itself.
in another place, when he saith, “The spirit of man To conclude; the prejudice hath been infinite, that is as the lamp of God, wherewith he searcheth all both divine and human knowledge hath received by inwardness ;" which nature of the soul the same the intermingling and tempering the one with the Solomon holding precious and inestimable, and therein other : as that which hath filled the one full of conspiring with the affection of Socrates, who scornheresies, and the other full of speculative fictions ed the pretended learned men of his time for raisand vanities.
ing great benefit of their learning, whereas AnaxaBut now there are again, which, in a contrary goras contrariwise, and divers others, being born to extremity to those which give to contemplation an ample patrimonies, decayed them in contemplaover-large scope, do offer too great a restraint to tion, delivereth it in precept yet remaining, “Buy natural and lawful knowledge ; being unjustly jealous the truth, and sell it not ;” and so of wisdom and that every reach and depth of knowledge where with knowledge. their conceits have not been acquainted, should be And lest any man should retain a scruple, as if too high an elevation of man's wit, and a searching this thirst of knowledge were rather a humour of and ravelling too far into God's secrets ; an opinion the mind, than an emptiness or want in nature, and that ariseth either of envy, which is proud weakness, an instinct from God; the same author defineth of and to be censured and not confuted, or else of a it fully, saying, “God hath made every thing in deceitful simplicity. For if they mean that the ig- beauty according to season ; also he hath set the norance of a second cause doth make men more de- world in man's heart, yet can he not find out the voutly to depend upon the providence of God, as work which God worketh from the beginning to the supposing the effects to come immediately from his end :" declaring not obscurely that God hath framed hand ; I demand of them, as Job demanded of his the mind of man as a glass, capable of the image of friends, “Will you lie for God, as man will for man the universal world, joying to receive the signature to gratify him ?” But if any man, without any thereof, as the eye is of light; yea, not only satissinister humour, doth indeed make doubt that this fied in beholding the variety of things, and vicissitude digging farther and farther into the mine of natural of times, but raised also to find out and discern those knowledge, is a thing without example, and uncom ordinances and decrees, which throughout all these mended in the Scriptures, or fruitless ; let him re- changes are infallibly observed. And although the member and be instructed : for behold it was not highest generality of motion, or summary law of that pure light of natural knowledge, whereby man nature, God should still reserve within his own curin paradise was able to give unto every living crea- tain; yet many and noble are the inferior and secondture a name according to his propriety, which gave ary operations which are within man's sounding. occasion to the fall; but it was an aspiring desire This is a thing which I cannot tell whether I may so to attain to that part of moral knowledge, which de- plainly speak as truly conceive, that as all knowfineth of good and evil, whereby to dispute God's ledge appeareth to be a plant of God's own planting, commandments, and not to depend upon the revela so it may seem the spreading and flourishing, or at tion of his will, which was the original temptation. least the bearing and fructifying of this plant, by a And the first holy records, which within those brief providence of God, nay not only by a general provimemorials of things which passed before the flood, dence, but by a special prophecy, was appointed to entered few things as worthy to be registered, but this autumn of the world : for to my understanding, only lineages and propagations, yet nevertheless it is not violent to the letter, and safe now after the honour the remembrance of the inventor both of event, so to interpret that place in the prophecy of music and works in metal. Moses again, who was Daniel, where, speaking of the latter times, it is said, the reporter, is said to have been seen in all the “Many shall pass to and fro, and science shall be Ægyptian learning, which nation was early and increased ;” as if the opening of the world by navileading in matter of knowledge. And Solomon the gation and commerce, and the farther discovery of king, as out of a branch of his wisdom extraordi- knowledge, should meet in one time or age. narily petitioned and granted from God, is said to But howsoever that be, there are besides the auhave written a natural history of all that is green, thorities of Scriptures before recited, two reasons of from the cedar to the moss, which is but a rudiment exceeding great weight and force, why religion between putrefaction and an herb, and also of all should dearly protect all increase of natural knowthat liveth and moveth. And if the book of Job be ledge : the one, because it leadeth to the greater turned over, it will be found to have much aspersion exaltation of the glory of God; for as the Psalms of natural philosophy. Nay, the same Solomon the and other scriptures do often invite us to consider, king affirmeth directly, that the glory of God "is and to magnify the great and wonderful works of to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to God; so if we should rest only in the contemplation find it out,” as if, according to the innocent play of of those shows which first offer themselves to our children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his senses, we should do a like injury to the majesty of works, to the end to have them found out; for in God, as if we should judge of the store of some exnaming the king he intendeth man, taking such a cellent jeweller, by that only which is set out to the
street in his shop. The other reason is, because it It is true, that in two points the curse is perempis a singular help and a preservative against unbe- tory, and not to be removed; the one, that vanity lief and error; for, saith our Saviour, “ You err, not must be the end in all human effects; eternity beknowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God ;" lay- ing resumed, though the revolutions and periods ing before us two books or volumes to study, if we may be delayed. The other, that the consent of will be secured from error ; first the Scriptures re the creature being now turned into reluctation, this vealing the will of God, and then the creatures ex power cannot otherwise be exercised and adminispressing his power; for that latter book will certify tered but with labour, as well in inventing as in us, that nothing which the first teacheth shall be executing; yet nevertheless chiefly that labour and thought impossible. And most sure it is, and a travel which is described by the sweat of the brows, true conclusion of experience, that a little natural more than of the body; that is, such travel as is philosophy inclineth the mind to atheism, but a far- joined with the working and discursion of the spirits ther proceeding bringeth the mind back to religion. in the brain : for as Solomon saith excellently,
To conclude then : Let no man presume to check" The fool putteth to more strength, but the wise the liberality of God's gifts, who, as was said, “ hath man considereth which way;" signifying the elecset the world in man's heart." So as whatsoever tion of the mean to be more material than the mulis not God, but parcel of the world, he hath fitted it tiplication of endeavour. It is true also that there to the comprehension of man's mind, if man will open is a limitation rather potential than actual, which is and dilate the powers of his understanding as he may. when the effect is possible, but the time or place
But yet evermore it must be remembered, that yieldeth not the matter or basis whereupon man the least part of knowledge passed to man by this should work. But notwithstanding these precincts so large a charter from God, must be subject to that and bounds, let it be believed, and appeal thereof use for which God hath granted it, which is the made to time, with renunciation nevertheless to all benefit and relief of the state and society of man; the vain and abusing promises of alchemists and for otherwise all manner of knowledge becometh magicians, and such like light, idle, ignorant, cremalign and serpentine, and therefore, as carrying dulous, and fantastical wits and sects, that the newthe quality of the serpent's ng and malice, it found world of land was not greater addition to the maketh the mind of man to swell; as the Scripture ancient continent, than there remaineth at this day saith excellently, “ Knowledge bloweth up, but a world of inventions and sciences unknown, having charity buildeth up." And again, the same author respect to those that are known, with this difference, doth notably disavow both power and knowledge, that the ancient regions of knowledge will seem as such as is not dedicated to goodness or love; for barbarous, compared with the new; as the new saith he, “ If I have all faith, so as I could remove regions of people seem barbarous, compared to many mountains,” there is power active ; " if I render my of the old. body to the fire,” there is power passive; “ if I The dignity of this end, of endowment of man's speak with the tongues of men and angels,” there is life with new commodities, appeareth by the estiknowledge, for language is but the conveyance of mation that antiquity made of such as guided thereknowledge, “ all were nothing."
unto ; for whereas founders of states, lawgivers, exAnd therefore it is not the pleasure of curiosity, tirpers of tyrants, fathers of the people, were honor the quiet of resolution, nor the raising of the noured but with the titles of worthies or demi-gods, spirit, nor victory of wit, nor faculty of speech, nor inventors were ever consecrated amongst the gods lucre of profession, nor ambition of honour or fame, themselves. And if the ordinary ambitions of men or enablement for business, that are the true ends of lead them to seek the amplification of their own knowledge ; some of these being more worthy than power in their countries, and a better ambition than other, though all inferior and degenerate: but it is that hath moved men to seek the amplification of the a restitution and reinvesting, in great part, of man power of their own countries amongst other nations ; to the sovereignty and power, for whensoever he better again and more worthy must that aspiring be, shall be able to call the creatures by their true which seeketh the amplification of the power and names, he shall again command them, which he kingdom of mankind over the world : the rather, had in his first state of creation. And to speak because the other two prosecutions are ever culpable plainly and clearly, it is a discovery of all operations of much perturbation and injustice ; but this is a and possibilities of operations from immortality, if work truly divine, which cometh in aura leni, withit were possible, to the meanest mechanical practice. out noise or observation. And therefore knowledge, that tendeth but to satis The access also to this work hath been by that faction, is but as a courtesan, which is for pleasure, port or passage, which the Divine Majesty, who is and not for fruit or generation. And knowledge that unchangeable in his ways, doth infallibly continue tendeth to profit, or profession, or glory, is but as and observe; that is, the felicity wherewith he hath the golden ball thrown before Atalanta; which blessed an humility of mind, such as rather labourwhile she goeth aside, and stoopeth to take up, she eth to spell, and so by degrees to read in the volumes hindereth the race. And knowledge referred to of his creatures, than to solicit and urge, and as it some particular point of use, is but as Harmodius, were to invocate a man's own spirit to divine, and which putteth down one tyrant; and not like Her- give oracles unto him. For as in the inquiry of cules, who did perambulate the world to suppress divine truth, the pride of man hath ever inclined to tyrants and giants and monsters in every part. leave the oracles of God's word, and to vanish in
the mixture of their own inventions ; so in the self- / probably thus, that it was with them in matter of same manner, in inquisition of nature, they have knowledge, but as the dawning or break of day. ever left the oracles of God's works, and adorned For at that time the world was altogether homethe deceiving and deformed imagery, which the un bred, every nation looked little beyond their own equal mirrors of their own minds have represented confines or territories, and the world had no thorough unto them. Nay, it is a point fit and necessary in lights then, as it hath had since by commerce and the front, and beginning of this work, without hesi- navigation, whereby there could neither be that tation or reservation to be professed, that it is no contribution of wits one to help another, nor that less true in this human kingdom of knowledge, than variety of particulars for the correcting the cusin God's kingdom of heaven, that no man shall tomary conceits. enter into it, except he become first as a little And as there could be no great collection of wits child."
of several parts or nations, so neither could there be
any succession of wits of several times, whereby one Of the impediments of knowledge.
might refine the other, in regard they had not hisBeing the IVth chapter, the preface only of it.
tory to any purpose.
And the manner of their tra
ditions was utterly unfit and unproper for amplifiIn some things it is more hard to attempt than cation of knowledge. And again, the studies of those to achieve; which falleth out, when the difficulty times, you shall find, besides wars, incursions, and is not so much in the matter or subject, as it is in rapines, which were then almost every where betwixt the crossness and indisposition of the mind of man states adjoining, the use of leagues and confederato think of any such thing, to will or to resolve it; cies being not then known, were to populate by and therefore Titus Livius in his declamatory digres- multitude of wives and generation, a thing at this sion, wherein he doth depress and extenuate the day in the waster part of the West-Indies principally honour of Alexander's conquests, saith, “Nihil aliud effected; and to build, sometimes for habitation, quam bene ausus vana contemnere :" in which sort towns and cities ; sometimes for fame and memory, of things it is the manner of men first to wonder that monuments, pyramids, colosses, and the like. And any such thing should be possible, and after it is if there happened to rise up any more civil wits; found out, to wonder again how the world should then would he found and erect some new laws, cusmiss it so long. Of this nature I take to be the in- | toms, and usages, such as now of late years, when vention and discovery of knowledge, &c.
the world was revolute almost to the like rudeness
and obscurity, we see both in our own nation and The impediments which have been in the times, and abroad many examples of, as well in a number of in diversion of wits.
tenures reserved upon men's lands, as in divers cus
toms of towns and manors, being the devises that Being the Vth chapter, a small fragment in the
such wits wrought upon in such times of deep ignobeginning of that chapter.
rance, &c. The encounters of the times have been nothing favourable and prosperous for the invention of know
The impediments of knowledge for want of a true ledge, so as it is not only the daintiness of the seed
succession of wits, and that hitherto the length of to take, and the ill mixture and unliking of the
one man's life hath been the greatest measure of ground to nourish or raise this plant, but the ill knowledge. season also of the weather, by which it hath been checked and blasted. Especially in that the seasons
Being the VIth chapter, the whole chapter. have been proper to bring up and set forward other In arts mechanical the first devise cometh shortmore hasty and indifferent plants, whereby this of est, and time addeth and perfecteth. But in sciences knowledge hath been starved and overgrown; for of conceit, the first author goeth farthest, and time in the descent of times always there hath been some- leeseth and corrupteth. Painting, artillery, sailing, what else in reign and reputation, which hath and the like, grossly managed at first, by time acgenerally aliened and diverted wits and labours from commodate and refined. The philosophies and that employment.
sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Hippocrates, For as for the uttermost antiquity, which is like of most vigour at first, by time degenerated and imfame that muffles her head, and tells tales, I cannot based. In the former, many wits and industries presume much of it; for I would not willingly imi- | contributed in one. In the latter many men's wits tate the manner of those that describe maps, which spent to deprave the wit of one. when they come to some far countries, whereof they The error is both in the deliverer and in the rehave no knowledge, set down how there be great ceiver. He that delivereth knowledge, desireth to wastes and deserts there : so I am not apt to affirm deliver it in such form as may be soonest believed, that they knew little, because what they knew is and not as may easiliest be examined. He that relittle known to us. But if you will judge of them ceiveth knowledge desireth rather present satisfacby the last traces that remain to us, you will con tion than expectant search, and so rather not to clude, though not so scornfully as Aristotle doth, doubt than not to err. Glory maketh the author that saith our ancestors were extreme gross, as those not to lay open his weakness : and sloth maketh the that came newly from being inoulded out of the disciple not to know his strength. clay, or some earthly substance; yet reasonably and Then begin men to aspire to the second prizes,