Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Religio Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend, by Sir Thomas Browne

Part 1 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Note: I have omitted the accent over the "a" in the phrase "a la
volee" on line 28 of page 80; I have also omitted Greek words or
phrases, substituting [Greek omitted] in their place; in addition,
I have made the following changes to the text:
56 11 comtemplations. contemplations.
93 34 that si that is
117 14 Egyptains Egyptians
120 1 Egyptains Egyptians
148 13 aprehension apprehension
151 15 where where-
162 5 viii 809 viii. 809
176 16 limped limpid
187 30 things.' things."
Footnote symbols in the text include the asterisk, the dagger,
the double dagger, and the section, for which I have substituted,
respectively, the *, the +, the #, and the $. Endnote numbers
within the text are indicated by Arabic numerals enclosed within
pointed brackets, e.g., <1>.









SIR THOMAS BROWNE (whose works occupy
so prominent a position in the literary his-
tory of the seventeenth century) is an author
who is now little known and less read. This com-
parative oblivion to which he has been consigned is
the more remarkable, as, if for nothing else, his
writings deserve to be studied as an example of the
English language in what may be termed a transition
state. The prose of the Elizabethan age was begin-
ning to pass away and give place to a more inflated
style of writing--a style which, after passing through
various stages of development, culminated in that of

Browne is one of the best early examples of this
school; his style, to quote Johnson himself, "is
vigorous but rugged, it is learned but pedantick, it
is deep but obscure, it strikes but does not please, it
commands but does not allure. . . . It is a tissue
of many languages, a mixture of heterogeneous words
brought together from distant regions."

Yet in spite of this qualified censure, there are
passages in Browne's works not inferior to any in
the English language; and though his writings may
not be "a well of English undefiled," yet it is the
very defilements that add to the beauty of the work.

But it is not only as an example of literary style
that Browne deserves to be studied. The matter of
his works, the grandeur of his ideas, the originality
of his thoughts, the greatness of his charity, amply
make up for the deficiencies (if deficiencies there be)
in his style. An author who combined the wit of
Montaigne with the learning of Erasmus, and of
whom even Hallam could say that "his varied talents
wanted nothing but the controlling supremacy of good
sense to place him in the highest rank of our litera-
ture," should not be suffered to remain in obscurity.

A short account of his life will form the best
introduction to his works.

Sir Thomas Browne was born in London, in the
parish of St Michael le Quern, on the 19th of October
1605. His father was a London merchant, of a good
Cheshire family; and his mother a Sussex lady,
daughter of Mr Paul Garraway of Lewis. His
father died when he was very young, and his mother
marrying again shortly afterwards, Browne was left
to the care of his guardians, one of whom is said to
have defrauded him out of some of his property. He
was educated at Winchester, and afterwards sent to
Oxford, to what is now Pembroke College, where he
took his degree of M.A. in 1629. Thereupon he
commenced for a short time to practise as a physician
in Oxfordshire. But we soon find him growing tired
of this, and accompanying his father-in-law, Sir
Thomas Dutton, on a tour of inspection of the castles
and forts in Ireland. We next hear of Browne in
the south of France, at Montpellier, then a celebrated
school of medicine, where he seems to have studied
some little time. From there he proceeded to Padua,
one of the most famous of the Italian universities,
and noted for the views some of its members
held on the subjects of astronomy and necromancy.
During his residence here, Browne doubtless acquired
some of his peculiar ideas on the science of the
heavens and the black art, and, what was more im-
portant, he learnt to regard the Romanists with that
abundant charity we find throughout his works.
From Padua, Browne went to Leyden, and this sud-
den change from a most bigoted Roman Catholic to
a most bigoted Protestant country was not without
its effect on his mind, as can be traced in his book.
Here he took the degree of Doctor of Medicine, and
shortly afterwards returned to England. Soon after
his return, about the year 1635, he published his
"Religio Medici," his first and greatest work, which
may be fairly regarded as the reflection of the mind
of one who, in spite of a strong intellect and vast
erudition, was still prone to superstition, but having

"Through many cities strayed,
Their customs, laws, and manners weighed,"

had obtained too large views of mankind to become
a bigot.

After the publication of his book he settled at
Norwich, where he soon had an extensive practice
as a physician. From hence there remains little to
be told of his life. In 1637 he was incorporated
Doctor of Medicine at Oxford; and in 1641 he
married Dorothy the daughter of Edward Mileham,
of Burlingham in Norfolk, and had by her a family
of eleven children.

In 1646 he published his "Pseudodoxia Epi-
demica," or Enquiries into Vulgar Errors. The dis-
covery of some Roman urns at Burnham in Nor-
folk, led him in 1658 to write his "Hydriotaphia"
(Urn-burial); he also published at the same time
"The Garden of Cyrus, or the Quincunxcial Lozenge
of the Ancients," a curious work, but far inferior to
his other productions.

In 1665 he was elected an honorary Fellow of
the College of Physicians, "virtute et literis orna-

Browne had always been a Royalist. In 1643 he
had refused to subscribe to the fund that was then
being raised for regaining Newcastle. He proved a
happy exception to the almost proverbial neglect the
Royalists received from Charles II. in 1671, for when
Charles was at Newmarket, he came over to see Nor-
wich, and conferred the honour of knighthood on
Browne. His reputation was now very great. Evelyn
paid a visit to Norwich for the express purpose of
seeing him; and at length, on his 76th birthday
(19th October 1682), he died, full of years and

It was a striking coincidence that he who in his
Letter to a Friend had said that "in persons who out-
live many years, and when there are no less than
365 days to determine their lives in every year, that
the first day should mark the last, that the tail
of the snake should return into its mouth precisely
at that time, and that they should wind up upon the
day of their nativity, is indeed a remarkable coin-
cidence, which, though astrology hath taken witty
pains to solve, yet hath it been very wary in making
predictions of it," should himself die on the day of
his birth.

Browne was buried in the church of St Peter,
Mancroft, Norwich, where his wife erected to his
memory a mural monument, on which was placed
an English and Latin inscription, setting forth that
he was the author of "Religio Medici," "Pseudodoxia
Epidemica," and other learned works "per orbem
notissimus." Yet his sleep was not to be undisturbed;
his skull was fated to adorn a museum! In 1840,
while some workmen were digging a vault in the
chancel of St Peter's, they found a coffin with an

"Amplissimus Vir
Dus Thomas Browne Miles Medicinae
Dr Annis Natus 77 Denatus 19 Die
Mensis Octobris Anno Dnj 1682 hoc.
Loculo indormiens Corporis Spagy-
rici pulvere plumbum in aurum

The translation of this inscription raised a storm
over his ashes, which Browne would have enjoyed
partaking in, the word spagyricus being an enigma
to scholars. Mr Firth of Norwich (whose translation
seems the best) thus renders the inscription:--

"The very distinguished man, Sir Thomas Browne, Knight,
Doctor of Medicine, aged 77 years, who died on the 19th of
October, in the year of our Lord 1682, sleeping in this coffin
of lead, by the dust of his alchemic body, transmutes it into
a coffer of gold.

After Sir Thomas's death, two collections of his
works were published, one by Archbishop Tenison,
and the other in 1772. They contain most of his
letters, his tracts on various subjects, and his Letter
to a Friend. Various editions of parts of Browne's
works have from time to time appeared. By far the
best edition of the whole of them is that published
by Simon Wilkin.

It is upon his "Religio Medici"--the religion of a
physician--that Browne's fame chiefly rests. It was
his first and most celebrated work, published just after
his return from his travels; it gives us the impres-
sions made on his mind by the various and opposite
schools he had passed through. He tells us that he
never intended to publish it, but that on its being
surreptitiously printed, he was induced to do so.
In 1643, the first genuine edition appeared, with
"an admonition to such as shall peruse the
observations upon a former corrupt copy of this
book." The observations here alluded to, were
written by Sir Kenelm Digby, and sent by him to
the Earl of Dorset. They were first printed at the
end of the edition of 1643, and have ever since been
published with the book. Their chief merit consists
in the marvellous rapidity with which they were
written, Sir Kenelm having, as he tells us, bought
the book, read it, and written his observations, in
the course of twenty-four hours!

The book contains what may be termed an
apology for his belief. He states the reasons on
which he grounds his opinions, and endeavours to
show that, although he had been accused of atheism,
he was in all points a good Christian, and a loyal
member of the Church of England. Each person
must judge for himself of his success; but the effect
it produced on the mind of Johnson may be
noticed. "The opinions of every man," says he,
"must be learned from himself; concerning his
practice, it is safer to trust to the evidence of others.
When the testimonies concur, no higher degree of
historical certainty can be obtained; and they
apparently concur to prove that Browne was a
zealous adherent to the faith of Christ, that he
lived in obedience to His laws, and died in con-
fidence of His mercy."

The best proof of the excellence of the "Religio"
is to be found in its great success. During the
author's life, from 1643 to 1681, it passed through
eleven editions. It has been translated into Latin,
Dutch, French, and German, and many of the
translations have passed through several editions.
No less than thirty-three treatises have been written
in imitation of it; and what, to some, will be the
greatest proof of all, it was soon after its publication
placed in the Index Expurgatorius. The best proof
of its liberality of sentiment is in the fact that its
author was claimed at the same time by the Romanists
and Quakers to be a member of their respective

The "Hydriotaphia," or Urn-burial, is a treatise
on the funeral rites of ancient nations. It was
caused by the discovery of some Roman urns in
Norfolk. Though inferior to the "Religio," "there is
perhaps none of his works which better exemplifies
his reading or memory."

The text of the present edition of the "Religio
Medici" is taken from what is called the eighth
edition, but is in reality the eleventh, published in
London in 1682, the last edition in the author's life-
time. The notes are for the most part compiled
from the observations of Sir Kenelm Digby, the
annotation of Mr. Keck, and the very valuable notes
of Simon Wilkin. For the account of the finding
of Sir Thomas Browne's skull I am indebted to Mr
Friswell's notice of Sir Thomas in his "Varia."
The text of the "Hydriotaphia" is taken from the
folio edition of 1686, in the Lincoln's Inn
library. Some of Browne's notes to that edition
have been omitted, and most of the references, as
they refer to books which are not likely to be met
with by the general reader.

The "Letter to a Friend, upon the occasion of the
Death of his intimate Friend," was first published in
a folio pamphlet in 1690. It was reprinted in his
posthumous works. The concluding reflexions are
the basis of a larger work, "Christian Morals." I
am not aware of any complete modern edition of it.
The text of the present one is taken from the
original edition of 1690. The pamphlet is in the
British Museum, bound up with a volume of old
poems. It is entitled, "A Letter to a Friend, upon
the occasion of the Death of his intimate Friend.
By the learned Sir Thomas Brown, Knight, Doctor
of Physick, late of Norwich. London: Printed for
Charles Brone, at the Gun, at the West End of St
Paul's Churchyard, 1690."


CERTAINLY that man were greedy of life, who
should desire to live when all the world were
at an end; and he must needs be very im-
patient, who would repine at death in the society of all
things that suffer under it. Had not almost every man
suffered by the press, or were not the tyranny thereof
become universal, I had not wanted reason for com-
plaint: but in times wherein I have lived to behold
the highest perversion of that excellent invention, the
name of his Majesty defamed, the honour of Parlia-
ment depraved, the writings of both depravedly, antici-
patively, counterfeitly, imprinted: complaints may
seem ridiculous in private persons; and men of my
condition may be as incapable of affronts, as hopeless
of their reparations. And truly had not the duty I
owe unto the importunity of friends, and the allegiance
I must ever acknowledge unto truth, prevailed with
me; the inactivity of my disposition might have made
these sufferings continual, and time, that brings other
things to light, should have satisfied me in the remedy
of its oblivion. But because things evidently false are
not only printed, but many things of truth most falsely
set forth; in this latter I could not but think myself
engaged: for, though we have no power to redress the
former, yet in the other reparation being within our-
selves, I have at present represented unto the world a
full and intended copy of that piece, which was most
imperfectly and surreptitiously published before.

This I confess, about seven years past, with some
others of affinity thereto, for my private exercise and
satisfaction, I had at leisurable hours composed; which
being communicated unto one, it became common unto
many, and was by transcription successively corrupted,
until it arrived in a most depraved copy at the press.
He that shall peruse that work, and shall take notice
of sundry particulars and personal expressions therein,
will easily discern the intention was not publick: and,
being a private exercise directed to myself, what is de-
livered therein was rather a memorial unto me, than an
example or rule unto any other: and therefore, if there
be any singularity therein correspondent unto the pri-
vate conceptions of any man, it doth not advantage
them; or if dissentaneous thereunto, it no way over-
throws them. It was penned in such a place, and with
such disadvantage, that (I protest), from the first setting
of pen unto paper, I had not the assistance of any good
book, whereby to promote my invention, or relieve my
memory; and therefore there might be many real lapses
therein, which others might take notice of, and more
that I suspected myself. It was set down many years
past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time,
not an immutable law unto my advancing judgment at
all times; and therefore there might be many things
therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, which
are not agreeable unto my present self. There are many
things delivered rhetorically, many expressions therein
merely tropical, and as they best illustrate my inten-
tion; and therefore also there are many things to be
taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called
unto the rigid test of reason. Lastly, all that is con-
tained therein is in submission unto maturer discern-
ments; and, as I have declared, shall no further father
them than the best and learned judgments shall au-
thorize them: under favour of which considerations, I
have made its secrecy publick, and committed the truth
thereof to every ingenuous reader.



SECT. 1.--For my religion, though there be several
circumstances that might persuade the world I
have none at all,--as the general scandal of my
profession,<1>--the natural course of my studies,--the in-
differency of my behaviour and discourse in matters of
religion (neither violently defending one, nor with that
common ardour and contention opposing another),--
yet, in despite hereof, I dare without usurpation assume
the honourable style of a Christian. Not that I merely
owe this title to the font, my education, or the clime
wherein I was born, as being bred up either to confirm
those principles my parents instilled into my under-
standing, or by a general consent proceed in the religion
of my country; but having, in my riper years and con-
firmed judgment, seen and examined all, I find myself
obliged, by the principles of grace, and the law of mine
own reason, to embrace no other name but this. Neither
doth herein my zeal so far make me forget the general
charity I owe unto humanity, as rather to hate than
pity Turks, Infidels, and (what is worse) Jews; rather
contenting myself to enjoy that happy style, than
maligning those who refuse so glorious a title.

Sect. 2.--But, because the name of a Christian is be-
come too general to express our faith,--there being a
geography of religion as well as lands, and every clime
distinguished not only by their laws and limits, but
circumscribed by their doctrines and rules of faith,--to
be particular, I am of that reformed new-cast religion,
wherein I dislike nothing but the name; of the same
belief our Saviour taught, the apostles disseminated,
the fathers authorized, and the martyrs confirmed; but,
by the sinister ends of princes, the ambition and avarice
of prelates, and the fatal corruption of times, so decayed,
impaired, and fallen from its native beauty, that it re-
quired the careful and charitable hands of these times
to restore it to its primitive integrity. Now, the acci-
dental occasion whereupon, the slender means whereby,
the low and abject condition of the person by whom,
so good a work was set on foot, which in our adver-
saries beget contempt and scorn, fills me with wonder,
and is the very same objection the insolent pagans first
cast at Christ and his disciples.

Sect. 3.--Yet have I not so shaken hands with those
desperate resolutions who had rather venture at large
their decayed bottom, than bring her in to be new-
trimmed in the dock,--who had rather promiscuously
retain all, than abridge any, and obstinately be what
they are, than what they have been,--as to stand in
diameter and sword's point with them. We have re-
formed from them, not against them: for, omitting
those improperations<2> and terms of scurrility betwixt
us, which only difference our affections, and not our
cause, there is between us one common name and ap-
pellation, one faith and necessary body of principles
common to us both; and therefore I am not scrupulous
to converse and live with them, to enter their churches
in defect of ours, and either pray with them or for them.
I could never perceive any rational consequences from
those many texts which prohibit the children of Israel
to pollute themselves with the temples of the heathens;
we being all Christians, and not divided by such de-
tested impieties as might profane our prayers, or the
place wherein we make them; or that a resolved con-
science may not adore her Creator anywhere, especially
in places devoted to his service; if their devotions
offend him, mine may please him: if theirs profane it,
mine may hallow it. Holy water and crucifix (danger-
ous to the common people) deceive not my judgment,
nor abuse my devotion at all. I am, I confess, natur-
ally inclined to that which misguided zeal terms super-
stition: my common conversation I do acknowledge
austere, my behaviour full of rigour, sometimes not
without morosity; yet, at my devotion I love to use
the civility of my knee, my hat, and hand, with all
those outward and sensible motions which may express
or promote my invisible devotion. I should violate my
own arm rather than a church; nor willingly deface
the name of saint or martyr. At the sight of a cross, or
crucifix, I can dispense with my hat, but scarce with
the thought or memory of my Saviour. I cannot laugh
at, but rather pity, the fruitless journeys of pilgrims,
or contemn the miserable condition of friars; for, though
misplaced in circumstances, there is something in it of
devotion. I could never hear the Ave-Mary bell*

* A church-bell, that tolls every day at six and twelve of
the clock; at the hearing whereof every one, in what place
soever, either of house or street, betakes himself to his prayer,
which is commonly directed to the Virgin.
without an elevation, or think it a sufficient warrant,
because they erred in one circumstance, for me to err
in all,--that is, in silence and dumb contempt. Whilst,
therefore, they direct their devotions to her, I offered
mine to God; and rectify the errors of their prayers by
rightly ordering mine own. At a solemn procession I
have wept abundantly, while my consorts, blind with
opposition and prejudice, have fallen into an excess of
scorn and laughter. There are, questionless, both in
Greek, Roman, and African churches, solemnities and
ceremonies, whereof the wiser zeals do make a Chris-
tian use; and stand condemned by us, not as evil in
themselves, but as allurements and baits of superstition
to those vulgar heads that look asquint on the face of
truth, and those unstable judgments that cannot resist
in the narrow point and centre of virtue without a reel
or stagger to the circumference.

Sect. 4.--As there were many reformers, so likewise
many reformations; every country proceeding in a par-
ticular way and method, according as their national
interest, together with their constitution and clime, in-
clined them: some angrily and with extremity; others
calmly and with mediocrity, not rending, but easily
dividing, the community, and leaving an honest possi-
bility of a reconciliation;--which, though peaceable
spirits do desire, and may conceive that revolution of
time and the mercies of God may effect, yet that judg-
ment that shall consider the present antipathies between
the two extremes,--their contrarieties in condition,
affection, and opinion,--may, with the same hopes,
expect a union in the poles of heaven.

Sect. 5.--But, to difference myself nearer, and draw
into a lesser circle; there is no church whose every part
so squares unto my conscience, whose articles, constitu-
tions, and customs, seem so consonant unto reason, and,
as it were, framed to my particular devotion, as this
whereof I hold my belief--the Church of England; to
whose faith I am a sworn subject, and therefore, in a
double obligation, subscribe unto her articles, and en-
deavour to observe her constitutions: whatsoever is
beyond, as points indifferent, I observe, according to the
rules of my private reason, or the humour and fashion
of my devotion; neither believing this because Luther
affirmed it, nor disproving that because Calvin hath dis-
avouched it. I condemn not all things in the council
of Trent, nor approve all in the synod of Dort.<3> In
brief, where the Scripture is silent, the church is my
text; where that speaks, 'tis but my comment;<4> where
there is a joint silence of both, I borrow not the rules of
my religion from Rome or Geneva, but from the dictates
of my own reason. It is an unjust scandal of our ad-
versaries, and a gross error in ourselves, to compute the
nativity of our religion from Henry the Eighth; who,
though he rejected the Pope, refused not the faith of
Rome,<5> and effected no more than what his own pre-
decessors desired and essayed in ages past, and it was
conceived the state of Venice would have attempted in
our days.<6> It is as uncharitable a point in us to fall
upon those popular scurrilities and opprobrious scoffs of
the Bishop of Rome, to whom, as a temporal prince, we
owe the duty of good language. I confess there is a
cause of passion between us: by his sentence I stand
excommunicated; heretic is the best language he affords
me: yet can no ear witness I ever returned to him the
name of antichrist, man of sin, or whore of Babylon.
It is the method of charity to suffer without reaction:
those usual satires and invectives of the pulpit may per-
chance produce a good effect on the vulgar, whose ears
are opener to rhetoric than logic; yet do they, in no
wise, confirm the faith of wiser believers, who know
that a good cause needs not be pardoned by passion,
but can sustain itself upon a temperate dispute.

Sect. 6.--I could never divide myself from any man
upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his
judgment for not agreeing with me in that from which,
perhaps, within a few days, I should dissent myself. I
have no genius to disputes in religion: and have often
thought it wisdom to decline them, especially upon a
disadvantage, or when the cause of truth might suffer
in the weakness of my patronage. Where we desire to
be informed, 'tis good to contest with men above our-
selves; but, to confirm and establish our opinions, 'tis
best to argue with judgments below our own, that the
frequent spoils and victories over their reasons may
settle in ourselves an esteem and confirmed opinion of
our own. Every man is not a proper champion for
truth, nor fit to take up the gauntlet in the cause of
verity; many, from the ignorance of these maxims, and
an inconsiderate zeal unto truth, have too rashly charged
the troops of error and remain as trophies unto the
enemies of truth. A man may be in as just possession
of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender; 'tis
therefore far better to enjoy her with peace than to
hazard her on a battle. If, therefore, there rise any
doubts in my way, I do forget them, or at least defer
them, till my better settled judgment and more manly
reason be able to resolve them; for I perceive every
man's own reason is his best OEdipus,<7> and will, upon a
reasonable truce, find a way to loose those bonds where-
with the subtleties of error have enchained our more
flexible and tender judgments. In philosophy, where
truth seems double-faced, there is no man more para-
doxical than myself: but in divinity I love to keep the
road; and, though not in an implicit, yet an humble
faith, follow the great wheel of the church, by which I
move; not reserving any proper poles, or motion from
the epicycle of my own brain. By this means I have
no gap for heresy, schisms, or errors, of which at pre-
sent, I hope I shall not injure truth to say, I have no
taint or tincture. I must confess my greener studies
have been polluted with two or three; not any begotten
in the latter centuries, but old and obsolete, such as
could never have been revived but by such extravagant
and irregular heads as mine. For, indeed, heresies perish
not with their authors; but, like the river Arethusa,<8>
though they lose their currents in one place, they rise
up again in another. One general council is not able
to extirpate one single heresy: it may be cancelled for
the present; but revolution of time, and the like aspects
from heaven, will restore it, when it will flourish till it
be condemned again. For, as though there were metemp-
psychosis, and the soul of one man passed into another,
opinions do find, after certain revolutions, men and
minds like those that first begat them. To see our-
selves again, we need not look for Plato's year:* every
man is not only himself; there have been many
Diogenes, and as many Timons, though but few of that
name; men are lived over again; the world is now as
it was in ages past; there was none then, but there hath
been some one since, that parallels him, and is, as it
were, his revived self.

Sect. 7.--Now, the first of mine was that of the
Arabians;<9> that the souls of men perished with their

* A revolution of certain thousand years, when all things
should return unto their former estate, and he be teaching
again in his school, as when he delivered this opinion.
bodies, but should yet be raised again at the last day:
not that I did absolutely conceive a mortality of the
soul, but, if that were (which faith, not philosophy,
hath yet thoroughly disproved), and that both entered
the grave together, yet I held the same conceit thereof
that we all do of the body, that it rise again. Surely it
is but the merits of our unworthy natures, if we sleep
in darkness until the last alarm. A serious reflex upon
my own unworthiness did make me backward from
challenging this prerogative of my soul: so that I
might enjoy my Saviour at the last, I could with
patience be nothing almost unto eternity. The second
was that of Origen; that God would not persist in his
vengeance for ever, but, after a definite time of his
wrath, would release the damned souls from torture;
which error I fell into upon a serious contemplation of
the great attribute of God, his mercy; and did a little
cherish it in myself, because I found therein no malice,
and a ready weight to sway me from the other extreme
of despair, whereunto melancholy and contemplative
natures are too easily disposed. A third there is, which
I did never positively maintain or practise, but have
often wished it had been consonant to truth, and not
offensive to my religion; and that is, the prayer for the
dead; whereunto I was inclined from some charitable
inducements, whereby I could scarce contain my prayers
for a friend at the ringing of a bell, or behold his corpse
without an orison for his soul. 'Twas a good way,
methought, to be remembered by posterity, and far
more noble than a history. These opinions I never
maintained with pertinacity, or endeavoured to inveigle
any man's belief unto mine, nor so much as ever
revealed, or disputed them with my dearest friends; by
which means I neither propagated them in others nor
confirmed them in myself: but, suffering them to flame
upon their own substance, without addition of new
fuel, they went out insensibly of themselves; therefore
these opinions, though condemned by lawful councils,
were not heresies in me, but bare errors, and single
lapses of my understanding, without a joint depravity
of my will. Those have not only depraved under-
standings, but diseased affections, which cannot enjoy a
singularity without a heresy, or be the author of an
opinion without they be of a sect also. This was the
villany of the first schism of Lucifer; who was not
content to err alone, but drew into his faction many
legions; and upon this experience he tempted only Eve,
well understanding the communicable nature of sin, and
that to deceive but one was tacitly and upon consequence
to delude them both.

Sect. 8.--That heresies should arise, we have the
prophecy of Christ; but, that old ones should be
abolished, we hold no prediction. That there must
be heresies, is true, not only in our church, but also in
any other: even in the doctrines heretical there will be
superheresies; and Arians, not only divided from the
church, but also among themselves: for heads that are
disposed unto schism, and complexionally propense to
innovation, are naturally indisposed for a community;
nor will be ever confined unto the order or economy of
one body; and therefore, when they separate from
others, they knit but loosely among themselves; nor
contented with a general breach or dichotomy<10> with
their church, do subdivide and mince themselves almost
into atoms. 'Tis true, that men of singular parts and
humours have not been free from singular opinions and
conceits in all ages; retaining something, not only
beside the opinion of his own church, or any other, but
also any particular author; which, notwithstanding, a
sober judgment may do without offence or heresy; for
there is yet, after all the decrees of councils, and the
niceties of the schools, many things, untouched, un-
imagined, wherein the liberty of an honest reason may
play and expatiate with security, and far without the
circle of a heresy.

Sect. 9.--As for those wingy mysteries in divinity,
and airy subtleties in religion, which have unhinged
the brains of better heads, they never stretched the pia
mater<11> of mine. Methinks there be not impossibilities
enough in religion for an active faith: the deepest
mysteries our contains have not only been illustrated,
but maintained, by syllogism and the rule of reason. I
love to lose myself in a mystery; to pursue my reason
to an O altitudo! 'Tis my solitary recreation to pose
my apprehension with those involved enigmas and
riddles of the Trinity--with incarnation and resurrec-
tion. I can answer all the objections of Satan and my
rebellious reason with that odd resolution I learned of
Tertullian, "Certum est quia impossibile est." I desire
to exercise my faith in the difficultest point; for, to
credit ordinary and visible objects, is not faith, but
persuasion. Some believe the better for seeing Christ's
sepulchre; and, when they have seen the Red Sea,
doubt not of the miracle. Now, contrarily, I bless
myself, and am thankful, that I lived not in the days
of miracles; that I never saw Christ nor his disciples.
I would not have been one of those Israelites that
passed the Red Sea; nor one of Christ's patients, on
whom he wrought his wonders: then had my faith been
thrust upon me; nor should I enjoy that greater blessing
pronounced to all that believe and saw not. 'Tis an
easy and necessary belief, to credit what our eye and
sense hath examined. I believe he was dead, and
buried, and rose again; and desire to see him in his
glory, rather than to contemplate him in his cenotaph
or sepulchre. Nor is this much to believe; as we have
reason, we owe this faith unto history: they only had
the advantage of a bold and noble faith, who lived
before his coming, who, upon obscure prophesies and
mystical types, could raise a belief, and expect apparent

Sect. 10.--'Tis true, there is an edge in all firm belief,
and with an easy metaphor we may say, the sword of
faith; but in these obscurities I rather use it in the
adjunct the apostle gives it, a buckler; under which I
conceive a wary combatant may lie invulnerable. Since
I was of understanding to know that we knew nothing,
my reason hath been more pliable to the will of faith:
I am now content to understand a mystery, without a
rigid definition, in an easy and Platonic description.
That allegorical description of Hermes* pleaseth me
beyond all the metaphysical definitions of divines.
Where I cannot satisfy my reason, I love to humour
my fancy: I had as lieve you tell me that anima est
angelus hominis, est corpus Dei, as [Greek omitted];--lux est
umbra Dei, as actus perspicui. Where there is an
obscurity too deep for our reason, 'tis good to sit down
with a description, periphrasis, or adumbration;<12> for,
by acquainting our reason how unable it is to display
the visible and obvious effects of nature, it becomes
more humble and submissive unto the subtleties of faith:
and thus I teach my haggard and unreclaimed reason
to stoop unto the lure of faith. I believe there was
already a tree, whose fruit our unhappy parents tasted,
though, in the same chapter when God forbids it, 'tis

* "Sphaera cujus centrum ubique, circumferentia nullibi."
positively said, the plants of the field were not yet
grown; for God had not caused it to rain upon the
earth. I believe that the serpent (if we shall literally
understand it), from his proper form and figure, made
his motion on his belly, before the curse. I find the
trial of the pucelage and virginity of women, which God
ordained the Jews, is very fallible. Experience and
history informs me that, not only many particular
women, but likewise whole nations, have escaped the
curse of childbirth, which God seems to pronounce upon
the whole sex; yet do I believe that all this is true,
which, indeed, my reason would persuade me to be
false: and this, I think, is no vulgar part of faith, to
believe a thing not only above, but contrary to, reason,
and against the arguments of our proper senses.

Sect. 11.--In my solitary and retired imagination
("neque enim cum porticus aut me lectulus accepit, desum
mihi"), I remember I am not alone; and therefore forget
not to contemplate him and his attributes, who is ever
with me, especially those two mighty ones, his wisdom
and eternity. With the one I recreate, with the other
I confound, my understanding: for who can speak of
eternity without a solecism, or think thereof without
an ecstasy? Time we may comprehend; 'tis but five
days elder than ourselves, and hath the same horoscope
with the world; but, to retire so far back as to appre-
hend a beginning,--to give such an infinite start for-
wards as to conceive an end,--in an essence that we
affirm hath neither the one nor the other, it puts my
reason to St Paul's sanctuary: my philosophy dares not
say the angels can do it. God hath not made a creature
that can comprehend him; 'tis a privilege of his own
nature: "I am that I am" was his own definition unto
Moses; and 'twas a short one to confound mortality,
that durst question God, or ask him what he was. In-
deed, he only is; all others have and shall be; but, in
eternity, there is no distinction of tenses; and therefore
that terrible term, predestination, which hath troubled
so many weak heads to conceive, and the wisest to ex-
plain, is in respect to God no prescious determination of
our estates to come, but a definitive blast of his will
already fulfilled, and at the instant that he first decreed
it; for, to his eternity, which is indivisible, and alto-
gether, the last trump is already sounded, the reprobates
in the flame, and the blessed in Abraham's bosom. St
Peter speaks modestly, when he saith, "a thousand
years to God are but as one day;" for, to speak like a
philosopher, those continued instances of time, which
flow into a thousand years, make not to him one moment.
What to us is to come, to his eternity is present; his
whole duration being but one permanent point, without
succession, parts, flux, or division.

Sect. 12.--There is no attribute that adds more diffi-
culty to the mystery of the Trinity, where, though in a
relative way of Father and Son, we must deny a priority.
I wonder how Aristotle could conceive the world eternal,
or how he could make good two eternities. His simili-
tude, of a triangle comprehended in a square, doth some-
what illustrate the trinity of our souls, and that the
triple unity of God; for there is in us not three, but a
trinity of, souls; because there is in us, if not three dis-
tinct souls, yet differing faculties, that can and do subsist
apart in different subjects, and yet in us are thus united
as to make but one soul and substance. If one soul
were so perfect as to inform three distinct bodies, that
were a pretty trinity. Conceive the distinct number of
three, not divided nor separated by the intellect, but
actually comprehended in its unity, and that a per-
fect trinity. I have often admired the mystical way of
Pythagoras, and the secret magick of numbers. "Be-
ware of philosophy," is a precept not to be received in
too large a sense: for, in this mass of nature, there is
a set of things that carry in their front, though not in
capital letters, yet in stenography and short characters,
something of divinity; which, to wiser reasons, serve as
luminaries in the abyss of knowledge, and, to judicious
beliefs, as scales and roundles to mount the pinnacles
and highest pieces of divinity. The severe schools shall
never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes, that
this visible world is but a picture of the invisible, where-
in, as in a portrait, things are not truly, but in equivocal
shapes, and as they counterfeit some real substance in
that invisible fabrick.

Sect. 13.--That other attribute, wherewith I recreate
my devotion, is his wisdom, in which I am happy; and
for the contemplation of this only do not repent me that
I was bred in the way of study. The advantage I have
therein, is an ample recompense for all my endeavours,
in what part of knowledge soever. Wisdom is his most
beauteous attribute: no man can attain unto it: yet
Solomon pleased God when he desired it. He is wise,
because he knows all things; and he knoweth all things,
because he made them all: but his greatest knowledge
is in comprehending that he made not, that is, himself.
And this is also the greatest knowledge in man. For
this do I honour my own profession, and embrace the
counsel even of the devil himself: had he read such a
lecture in Paradise as he did at Delphos,*<13> we had
better known ourselves; nor had we stood in fear to

* [Greek omitted] "Nosce teipsum."
know him. I know God is wise in all; wonderful in
what we conceive, but far more in what we comprehend
not: for we behold him but asquint, upon reflex or
shadow; our understanding is dimmer than Moses's
eye; we are ignorant of the back parts or lower side
of his divinity; therefore, to pry into the maze of his
counsels, is not only folly in man, but presumption
even in angels. Like us, they are his servants, not his
senators; he holds no counsel, but that mystical one of
the Trinity, wherein, though there be three persons,
there is but one mind that decrees without contradic-
tion. Nor needs he any; his actions are not begot
with deliberation; his wisdom naturally knows what's
best: his intellect stands ready fraught with the super-
lative and purest ideas of goodness, consultations, and
election, which are two motions in us, make but one in
him: his actions springing from his power at the first
touch of his will. These are contemplations meta-
physical: my humble speculations have another method,
and are content to trace and discover those expressions
he hath left in his creatures, and the obvious effects of
nature. There is no danger to profound<14> these mys-
teries, no sanctum sanctorum in philosophy. The world
was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and
contemplated by man: 'tis the debt of our reason we
owe unto God, and the homage we pay for not being
beasts. Without this, the world is still as though it
had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as
yet there was not a creature that could conceive or say
there was a world. The wisdom of God receives small
honour from those vulgar heads that rudely stare about,
and with a gross rusticity admire his works. Those
highly magnify him, whose judicious enquiry into his
acts, and deliberate research into his creatures, return
the duty of a devout and learned admiration. There-

Search while thou wilt; and let thy reason go,
To ransom truth, e'en to th' abyss below;
Rally the scatter'd causes; and that line
Which nature twists be able to untwine.
It is thy Maker's will; for unto none
But unto reason can he e'er be known.
The devils do know thee; but those damn'd meteors
Build not thy glory, but confound thy creatures.
Teach my endeavours so thy works to read,
That learning them in thee I may proceed.
Give thou my reason that instructive flight,
Whose weary wings may on thy hands still light.
Teach me to soar aloft, yet ever so,
When near the sun, to stoop again below.
Thus shall my humble feathers safely hover,
And, though near earth, more than the heavens discover.
And then at last, when homeward I shall drive,
Rich with the spoils of nature, to my hive,
There will I sit, like that industrious fly,
Buzzing thy praises; which shall never die
Till death abrupts them, and succeeding glory
Bid me go on in a more lasting story.

And this is almost all wherein an humble creature
may endeavour to requite, and some way to retribute
unto his Creator: for, if not he that saith, "Lord, Lord,
but he that doth the will of the Father, shall be saved,"
certainly our wills must be our performances, and our
intents make out our actions; otherwise our pious labours
shall find anxiety in our graves, and our best endeavours
not hope, but fear, a resurrection.

Sect. 14.--There is but one first cause, and four second
causes, of all things. Some are without efficient,<15> as
God; others without matter, as angels; some without
form, as the first matter: but every essence, created or
uncreated, hath its final cause, and some positive end
both of its essence and operation. This is the cause I
grope after in the works of nature; on this hangs the
providence of God. To raise so beauteous a structure
as the world and the creatures thereof was but his art;
but their sundry and divided operations, with their pre-
destinated ends, are from the treasure of his wisdom.
In the causes, nature, and affections, of the eclipses of
the sun and moon, there is most excellent speculation;
but, to profound further, and to contemplate a reason
why his providence hath so disposed and ordered their
motions in that vast circle, as to conjoin and obscure
each other, is a sweeter piece of reason, and a diviner
point of philosophy. Therefore, sometimes, and in some
things, there appears to me as much divinity in Galen
his books, De Usu Partium,<16> as in Suarez's Meta-
physicks. Had Aristotle been as curious in the enquiry
of this cause as he was of the other, he had not left
behind him an imperfect piece of philosophy, but an
absolute tract of divinity.

Sect. 15.--Natura nihil agit frustra, is the only indis-
putable axiom in philosophy. There are no grotesques
in nature; not any thing framed to fill up empty cantons,
and unnecessary spaces. In the most imperfect creatures,
and such as were not preserved in the ark, but, having
their seeds and principles in the womb of nature, are
everywhere, where the power of the sun is,--in these is
the wisdom of his hand discovered. Out of this rank
Solomon chose the object of his admiration; indeed,
what reason may not go to school to the wisdom of bees,
ants, and spiders? What wise hand teacheth them to
do what reason cannot teach us? Ruder heads stand
amazed at those prodigious pieces of nature, whales,
elephants, dromedaries, and camels; these, I confess,
are the colossus and majestick pieces of her hand; but
in these narrow engines there is more curious mathe-
maticks; and the civility of these little citizens more
neatly sets forth the wisdom of their Maker. Who
admires not Regio Montanus his fly beyond his eagle;<17>
or wonders not more at the operation of two souls in
those little bodies than but one in the trunk of a cedar?
I could never content my contemplation with those
general pieces of wonder, the flux and reflux of the sea,
the increase of Nile, the conversion of the needle to the
north; and have studied to match and parallel those in
the more obvious and neglected pieces of nature which,
without farther travel, I can do in the cosmography of
myself. We carry with us the wonders we seek without
us: there is all Africa and her prodigies in us. We
are that bold and adventurous piece of nature, which
he that studies wisely learns, in a compendium, what
others labour at in a divided piece and endless volume.

Sect. 16.--Thus there are two books from whence I
collect my divinity. Besides that written one of God,
another of his servant, nature, that universal and publick
manuscript, that lies expansed unto the eyes of all.
Those that never saw him in the one have discovered
him in the other; this was the scripture and theology
of the heathens; the natural motion of the sun made
them more admire him than its supernatural station did
the children of Israel. The ordinary effects of nature
wrought more admiration in them than, in the other,
all his miracles. Surely the heathens knew better how
to join and read these mystical letters than we Christians,
who cast a more careless eye on these common hiero-
glyphics, and disdain to suck divinity from the flowers
of nature. Nor do I so forget God as to adore the name
of nature; which I define not, with the schools, to be
the principle of motion and rest, but that straight and
regular line, that settled and constant course the wisdom
of God hath ordained the actions of his creatures, accord-
ing to their several kinds. To make a revolution every
day is the nature of the sun, because of that necessary
course which God hath ordained it, from which it cannot
swerve but by a faculty from that voice which first did
give it motion. Now this course of nature God seldom
alters or perverts; but, like an excellent artist, hath so
contrived his work, that, with the self-same instrument,
without a new creation, he may effect his obscurest
designs. Thus he sweeteneth the water with a word,
preserveth the creatures in the ark, which the blest of
his mouth might have as easily created;--for God is
like a skilful geometrician, who, when more easily, and
with one stroke of his compass, he might describe or
divide a right line, had yet rather do this in a circle or
longer way, according to the constituted and forelaid
principles of his art: yet this rule of his he doth some-
times pervert, to acquaint the world with his preroga-
tive, lest the arrogancy of our reason should question his
power, and conclude he could not. And thus I call the
effects of nature the works of God, whose hand and
instrument she only is; and therefore, to ascribe his
actions unto her is to devolve the honour of the prin-
cipal agent upon the instrument; which if with reason
we may do, then let our hammers rise up and boast they
have built our houses, and our pens receive the honour
of our writing. I hold there is a general beauty in the
works of God, and therefore no deformity in any kind
of species of creature whatsoever. I cannot tell by what
logick we call a toad, a bear, or an elephant ugly; they
being created in those outward shapes and figures which
best express the actions of their inward forms; and
having passed that general visitation of God, who saw
that all that he had made was good, that is, conformable
to his will, which abhors deformity, and is the rule of
order and beauty. There is no deformity but in mon-
strosity; wherein, notwithstanding, there is a kind of
beauty; nature so ingeniously contriving the irregular
part, as they become sometimes more remarkable than
the principal fabrick. To speak yet more narrowly,
there was never any thing ugly or mis-shapen, but the
chaos; wherein, notwithstanding, to speak strictly, there
was no deformity, because no form; nor was it yet im-
pregnant by the voice of God. Now nature is not at
variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both
the servants of his providence. Art is the perfection of
nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day,
there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world,
and art another. In brief, all things are artificial; for
nature is the art of God.

Sect. 17.--This is the ordinary and open way of his
providence, which art and industry have in good part
discovered; whose effects we may foretell without an
oracle. To foreshow these is not prophecy, but prog-
nostication. There is another way, full of meanders
and labyrinths, whereof the devil and spirits have no
exact ephemerides: and that is a more particular and
obscure method of his providence; directing the opera-
tions of individual and single essences: this we call
fortune; that serpentine and crooked line, whereby he
draws those actions his wisdom intends in a more un-
known and secret way; this cryptic<18> and involved
method of his providence have I ever admired; nor
can I relate the history of my life, the occurrences of
my days, the escapes, or dangers, and hits of chance,
with a bezo las manos to Fortune, or a bare gramercy to
my good stars. Abraham might have thought the ram
in the thicket came thither by accident: human reason
would have said that mere chance conveyed Moses in
the ark to the sight of Pharaoh's daughter. What a
labyrinth is there in the story of Joseph! able to con-
vert a stoick. Surely there are in every man's life
certain rubs, doublings, and wrenches, which pass a
while under the effects of chance; but at the last, well
examined, prove the mere hand of God. 'Twas not
dumb chance that, to discover the fougade,<19> or powder
plot, contrived a miscarriage in the letter. I like the
victory of '88<20> the better for that one occurrence which
our enemies imputed to our dishonour, and the partiality
of fortune; to wit, the tempests and contrariety of
winds. King Philip did not detract from the nation,
when he said, he sent his armada to fight with men,
and not to combat with the winds. Where there is a
manifest disproportion between the powers and forces
of two several agents, upon a maxim of reason we may
promise the victory to the superior: but when unex-
pected accidents slip in, and unthought-of occurrences
intervene, these must proceed from a power that owes
no obedience to those axioms; where, as in the writing
upon the wall, we may behold the hand, but see not
the spring that moves it. The success of that petty
province of Holland (of which the Grand Seignior
proudly said, if they should trouble him, as they did
the Spaniard, he would send his men with shovels and
pickaxes, and throw it into the sea) I cannot altogether
ascribe to the ingenuity and industry of the people, but
the mercy of God, that hath disposed them to such a
thriving genius; and to the will of his providence, that
disposeth her favour to each country in their preordinate
season. All cannot be happy at once; for, because the
glory of one state depends upon the ruin of another,
there is a revolution and vicissitude of their greatness,
and must obey the swing of that wheel, not moved by
intelligencies, but by the hand of God, whereby all
estates arise to their zenith and vertical points, accord-
ing to their predestinated periods. For the lives, not
only of men, but of commonwealths and the whole
world, run not upon a helix that still enlargeth; but
on a circle, where, arriving to their meridian, they
decline in obscurity, and fall under the horizon again.

Sect. 18.--These must not therefore be named the
effects of fortune but in a relative way, and as we term
the works of nature. It was the ignorance of man's
reason that begat this very name, and by a careless
term miscalled the providence of God: for there is no
liberty for causes to operate in a loose and straggling
way; nor any effect whatsoever but hath its warrant
from some universal or superior cause. 'Tis not a
ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at
tables; for, even in sortileges<21> and matters of greatest
uncertainty, there is a settled and preordered course of
effects. It is we that are blind, not fortune. Because
our eye is too dim to discover the mystery of her effects,
we foolishly paint her blind, and hoodwink the pro-
vidence of the Almighty. I cannot justify that con-
temptible proverb, that "fools only are fortunate;" or
that insolent paradox, that "a wise man is out of the
reach of fortune;" much less those opprobrious epithets
of poets,--"whore," "bawd," and "strumpet." 'Tis, I con-
fess, the common fate of men of singular gifts of mind, to
be destitute of those of fortune; which doth not any way
deject the spirit of wiser judgments who thoroughly
understand the justice of this proceeding; and, being
enriched with higher donatives, cast a more careless
eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. It is a most un-
just ambition, to desire to engross the mercies of the
Almighty, not to be content with the goods of mind,
without a possession of those of body or fortune: and
it is an error, worse than heresy, to adore these com-
plimental and circumstantial pieces of felicity, and un-
dervalue those perfections and essential points of happi-
ness, wherein we resemble our Maker. To wiser desires
it is satisfaction enough to deserve, though not to enjoy,
the favours of fortune. Let providence provide for fools:
'tis not partiality, but equity, in God, who deals with us
but as our natural parents. Those that are able of body
and mind he leaves to their deserts; to those of weaker
merits he imparts a larger portion; and pieces out the
defect of one by the excess of the other. Thus have we
no just quarrel with nature for leaving us naked; or to
envy the horns, hoofs, skins, and furs of other creatures;
being provided with reason, that can supply them all.
We need not labour, with so many arguments, to con-
fute judicial astrology; for, if there be a truth therein,
it doth not injure divinity. If to be born under Mer-
cury disposeth us to be witty; under Jupiter to be
wealthy; I do not owe a knee unto these, but unto
that merciful hand that hath ordered my indifferent
and uncertain nativity unto such benevolous aspects.
Those that hold that all things are governed by fortune,
had not erred, had they not persisted there. The
Romans, that erected a temple to Fortune, acknow-
ledged therein, though in a blinder way, somewhat of
divinity; for, in a wise supputation,<22> all things begin
and end in the Almighty. There is a nearer way to
heaven than Homer's chain;<23> an easy logick may con-
join a heaven and earth in one argument, and, with less
than a sorites,<24> resolve all things to God. For though
we christen effects by their most sensible and nearest
causes, yet is God the true and infallible cause of all;
whose concourse, though it be general, yet doth it sub-
divide itself into the particular actions of every thing,
and is that spirit, by which each singular essence not
only subsists, but performs its operation.

Sect. 19.--The bad construction and perverse com-
ment on these pair of second causes, or visible hands of
God, have perverted the devotion of many unto atheism;
who, forgetting the honest advisoes of faith, have lis-
tened unto the conspiracy of passion and reason. I
have therefore always endeavoured to compose those
feuds and angry dissensions between affection, faith,
and reason: for there is in our soul a kind of trium-
virate, or triple government of three competitors, which
distracts the peace of this our commonwealth not less
than did that other<25> the state of Rome.

As reason is a rebel unto faith, so passion unto reason.
As the propositions of faith seem absurd unto reason,
so the theorems of reason unto passion and both unto
reason; yet a moderate and peaceable discretion may
so state and order the matter, that they may be all
kings, and yet make but one monarchy: every one
exercising his sovereignty and prerogative in a due
time and place, according to the restraint and limit of
circumstance. There are, as in philosophy, so in
divinity, sturdy doubts, and boisterous objections,
wherewith the unhappiness of our knowledge too
nearly acquainteth us. More of these no man hath
known than myself; which I confess I conquered, not
in a martial posture, but on my knees. For our en-
deavours are not only to combat with doubts, but
always to dispute with the devil. The villany of that
spirit takes a hint of infidelity from our studios; and,
by demonstrating a naturality in one way, makes us
mistrust a miracle in another. Thus, having perused
the Archidoxes, and read the secret sympathies of
things, he would dissuade my belief from the miracle
of the brazen serpent; make me conceit that image
worked by sympathy, and was but an Egyptian trick,
to cure their diseases without a miracle. Again, having
seen some experiments of bitumen, and having read far
more of naphtha, he whispered to my curiosity the fire
of the altar might be natural, and bade me mistrust a
miracle in Elias, when he intrenched the altar round
with water: for that inflamable substance yields not
easily unto water, but flames in the arms of its an-
tagonist. And thus would he inveigle my belief to
think the combustion of Sodom might be natural, and
that there was an asphaltick and bituminous nature in
that lake before the fire of Gomorrah. I know that
manna is now plentifully gathered in Calabria; and
Josephus tells me, in his days it was as plentiful in
Arabia. The devil therefore made the query, "Where
was then the miracle in the days of Moses?" The
Israelites saw but that, in his time, which the natives
of those countries behold in ours. Thus the devil
played at chess with me, and, yielding a pawn, thought
to gain a queen of me; taking advantage of my honest
endeavours; and, whilst I laboured to raise the struc-
ture of my reason, he strove to undermine the edifice of
my faith.

Sect. 20.--Neither had these or any other ever such
advantage of me, as to incline me to any point of in-
fidelity or desperate positions of atheism; for I have
been these many years of opinion there was never any.
Those that held religion was the difference of man from
beasts, have spoken probably, and proceed upon a prin-
ciple as inductive as the other. That doctrine of
Epicurus, that denied the providence of God, was no
atheism, but a magnificent and high-strained conceit of
his majesty, which he deemed too sublime to mind the
trivial actions of those inferior creatures. That fatal
necessity of the stoicks is nothing but the immutable
law of his will. Those that heretofore denied the
divinity of the Holy Ghost have been condemned but
as hereticks; and those that now deny our Saviour,
though more than hereticks, are not so much as atheists:
for, though they deny two persons in the Trinity, they
hold, as we do, there is but one God.

That villain and secretary of hell,<26> that composed that
miscreant piece of the three impostors, though divided
from all religions, and neither Jew, Turk, nor Christian,
was not a positive atheist. I confess every country hath
its Machiavel, every age its Lucian, whereof common
heads must not hear, nor more advanced judgments too
rashly venture on. It is the rhetorick of Satan; and
may pervert a loose or prejudicate belief.

Sect. 21.--I confess I have perused them all, and can
discover nothing that may startle a discreet belief; yet
are their heads carried off with the wind and breath of
such motives. I remember a doctor in physick, of
Italy, who could not perfectly believe the immortality
of the soul, because Galen seemed to make a doubt
thereof. With another I was familiarly acquainted, in
France, a divine, and a man of singular parts, that on
the same point was so plunged and gravelled with three
lines of Seneca,* that all our antidotes, drawn from

* "Post mortem nihil est, ipsaque mors nihil, mors individua
est noxia corpori, nec patiens animae. . . . Toti morimur
nullaque pars manet nostri."
both Scripture and philosophy, could not expel the
poison of his error. There are a set of heads that can
credit the relations of mariners, yet question the testi-
monies of Saint Paul: and peremptorily maintain the
traditions of AElian or Pliny; yet, in histories of Scrip-
ture, raise queries and objections: believing no more
than they can parallel in human authors. I confess
there are, in Scripture, stories that do exceed the fables
of poets, and, to a captious reader, sound like Gara-
gantua or Bevis. Search all the legends of times past,
and the fabulous conceits of these present, and 'twill be
hard to find one that deserves to carry the buckler unto
Samson; yet is all this of an easy possibility, if we con-
ceive a divine concourse, or an influence from the little
finger of the Almighty. It is impossible that, either
in the discourse of man or in the infallible voice of
God, to the weakness of our apprehensions there should
not appear irregularities, contradictions, and antino-
mies:<27> myself could show a catalogue of doubts, never
yet imagined nor questioned, as I know, which are not
resolved at the first hearing; not fantastick queries or
objections of air; for I cannot hear of atoms in divinity.
I can read the history of the pigeon that was sent out of
the ark, and returned no more, yet not question how
she found out her mate that was left behind: that
Lazarus was raised from the dead, yet not demand
where, in the interim, his soul awaited; or raise a law-
case, whether his heir might lawfully detain his inherit-
ance bequeathed upon him by his death, and he, though
restored to life, have no plea or title unto his former
possessions. Whether Eve was framed out of the left
side of Adam, I dispute not; because I stand not yet
assured which is the right side of a man; or whether
there be any such distinction in nature. That she was
edified out of the rib of Adam, I believe; yet raise no
question who shall arise with that rib at the resurrection.
Whether Adam was an hermaphrodite, as the rabbins
contend upon the letter of the text; because it is con-
trary to reason, there should be an hermaphrodite
before there was a woman, or a composition of two
natures, before there was a second composed. Likewise,
whether the world was created in autumn, summer, or
the spring; because it was created in them all: for,
whatsoever sign the sun possesseth, those four seasons
are actually existent. It is the nature of this luminary to
distinguish the several seasons of the year; all which it
makes at one time in the whole earth, and successively in
any part thereof. There are a bundle of curiosities, not
only in philosophy, but in divinity, proposed and discussed
by men of most supposed abilities, which indeed are not
worthy our vacant hours, much less our serious studies.
Pieces only fit to be placed in Pantagruel's library,<28> or
bound up with Tartaratus, De Modo Cacandi.*<29>

Sect. 22.--These are niceties that become not those
that peruse so serious a mystery. There are others
more generally questioned, and called to the bar, yet,
methinks, of an easy and possible truth.

'Tis ridiculous to put off or down the general flood
of Noah, in that particular inundation of Deucalion.<30>
That there was a deluge once seems not to me so great
a miracle as that there is not one always. How all the
kinds of creatures, not only in their own bulks, but
with a competency of food and sustenance, might be
preserved in one ark, and within the extent of three
hundred cubits, to a reason that rightly examines it,
will appear very feasible. There is another secret, not
contained in the Scripture, which is more hard to com-

* In Rabelais.

prehend, and put the honest Father<31> to the refuge of a
miracle; and that is, not only how the distinct pieces
of the world, and divided islands, should be first planted
by men, but inhabited by tigers, panthers, and bears.
How America abounded with beasts of prey, and
noxious animals, yet contained not in it that necessary
creature, a horse, is very strange. By what passage
those, not only birds, but dangerous and unwelcome
beasts, come over. How there be creatures there
(which are not found in this triple continent). All
which must needs be strange unto us, that hold but one
ark; and that the creatures began their progress from
the mountains of Ararat. They who, to salve this,
would make the deluge particular, proceed upon a
principle that I can no way grant; not only upon the
negative of Holy Scriptures, but of mine own reason,
whereby I can make it probable that the world was as
well peopled in the time of Noah as in ours; and
fifteen hundred years, to people the world, as full a
time for them as four thousand years since have been
to us. There are other assertions and common tenets
drawn from Scripture, and generally believed as Scrip-
ture, whereunto, notwithstanding, I would never betray
the liberty of my reason. 'Tis a paradox to me, that
Methusalem was the longest lived of all the children of
Adam; and no man will be able to prove it; when,
from the process of the text, I can manifest it may be
otherwise. That Judas perished by hanging himself,
there is no certainty in Scripture: though, in one
place, it seems to affirm it, and, by a doubtful word,
hath given occasion to translate<32> it; yet, in another
place, in a more punctual description, it makes it im-
probable, and seems to overthrow it. That our fathers,
after the flood, erected the tower of Babel, to preserve
themselves against a second deluge, is generally opin-
ioned and believed; yet is there another intention of
theirs expressed in Scripture. Besides, it is improbable,
from the circumstance of the place; that is, a plain in
the land of Shinar. These are no points of faith; and
therefore may admit a free dispute. There are yet
others, and those familiarly concluded from the text,
wherein (under favour) I see no consequence. The
church of Rome confidently proves the opinion of
tutelary angels, from that answer, when Peter knocked
at the door, "'Tis not he, but his angel;" that is, might
some say, his messenger, or somebody from him; for so
the original signifies; and is as likely to be the doubtful
family's meaning. This exposition I once suggested to
a young divine, that answered upon this point; to
which I remember the Franciscan opponent replied no
more, but, that it was a new, and no authentick inter-

Sect. 23.--These are but the conclusions and fallible
discourses of man upon the word of God; for such I do
believe the Holy Scriptures; yet, were it of man, I
could not choose but say, it was the singularest and
superlative piece that hath been extant since the creation.
Were I a pagan, I should not refrain the lecture of it;
and cannot but commend the judgment of Ptolemy, that
thought not his library complete without it. The
Alcoran of the Turks (I speak without prejudice) is an
ill-composed piece, containing in it vain and ridiculous
errors in philosophy, impossibilities, fictions, and vanities
beyond laughter, maintained by evident and open so-
phisms, the policy of ignorance, deposition of universities,
and banishment of learning. That hath gotten foot by
arms and violence: this, without a blow, hath dis-
seminated itself through the whole earth. It is not
unremarkable, what Philo first observed, that the law
of Moses continued two thousand years without the
least alteration; whereas, we see, the laws of other
commonwealths do alter with occasions: and even those,
that pretended their original from some divinity, to
have vanished without trace or memory. I believe,
besides Zoroaster, there were divers others that writ
before Moses; who, notwithstanding, have suffered the
common fate of time. Men's works have an age, like
themselves; and though they outlive their authors, yet
have they a stint and period to their duration. This
only is a work too hard for the teeth of time, and cannot
perish but in the general flames, when all things shall
confess their ashes.

Sect. 24.--I have heard some with deep sighs lament
the lost lines of Cicero; others with as many groans
deplore the combustion of the library of Alexandria;<33>
for my own part, I think there be too many in the
world; and could with patience behold the urn and
ashes of the Vatican, could I, with a few others, recover
the perished leaves of Solomon. I would not omit a
copy of Enoch's pillars,<34> had they many nearer authors
than Josephus, or did not relish somewhat of the fable.
Some men have written more than others have spoken.
Pineda<35> quotes more authors, in one work,* than are
necessary in a whole world. Of those three great inven-
tions in Germany,<36> there are two which are not without
their incommodities, and 'tis disputable whether they
exceed not their use and commodities. 'Tis not a melan-
choly utinam of my own, but the desires of better heads,
that there were a general synod--not to unite the incom-
patible difference of religion, but,--for the benefit of

* Pineda, in his "Monarchia Ecclesiastica," quotes one
thousand and forty authors.
learning, to reduce it, as it lay at first, in a few and solid
authors; and to condemn to the fire those swarms and
millions of rhapsodies, begotten only to distract and
abuse the weaker judgments of scholars, and to maintain
the trade and mystery of typographers.

Sect. 25.--I cannot but wonder with what exception
the Samaritans could confine their belief to the Penta-
teuch, or five books of Moses. I am ashamed at the
rabbinical interpretation of the Jews upon the Old
Testament,<37> as much as their defection from the New:
and truly it is beyond wonder, how that contemptible
and degenerate issue of Jacob, once so devoted to ethnick
superstition, and so easily seduced to the idolatry of
their neighbours, should now, in such an obstinate and
peremptory belief, adhere unto their own doctrine,
expect impossibilities, and in the face and eye of the
church, persist without the least hope of conversion.
This is a vice in them, that were a virtue in us; for
obstinacy in a bad cause is but constancy in a good:
and herein I must accuse those of my own religion; for
there is not any of such a fugitive faith, such an unstable
belief, as a Christian; none that do so often transform
themselves, not unto several shapes of Christianity, and
of the same species, but unto more unnatural and contrary
forms of Jew and Mohammedan; that, from the name
of Saviour, can condescend to the bare term of prophet:
and, from an old belief that he is come, fall to a new
expectation of his coming. It is the promise of Christ,
to make us all one flock: but how and when this union
shall be, is as obscure to me as the last day. Of those
four members of religion we hold a slender propor-
tion.<38> There are, I confess, some new additions; yet
small to those which accrue to our adversaries; and
those only drawn from the revolt of pagans; men but
of negative impieties; and such as deny Christ, but
because they never heard of him. But the religion of
the Jew is expressly against the Christian, and the
Mohammedan against both; for the Turk, in the bulk
he now stands, is beyond all hope of conversion: if he
fall asunder, there may be conceived hopes; but not
without strong improbabilities. The Jew is obstinate in
all fortunes; the persecution of fifteen hundred years
hath but confirmed them in their error. They have
already endured whatsoever may be inflicted: and have
suffered, in a bad cause, even to the condemnation of
their enemies. Persecution is a bad and indirect way
to plant religion. It hath been the unhappy method of
angry devotions, not only to confirm honest religion, but
wicked heresies and extravagant opinions. It was the
first stone and basis of our faith. None can more justly
boast of persecutions, and glory in the number and
valour of martyrs. For, to speak properly, those are
true and almost only examples of fortitude. Those that
are fetched from the field, or drawn from the actions of
the camp, are not ofttimes so truly precedents of valour
as audacity, and, at the best, attain but to some bastard
piece of fortitude. If we shall strictly examine the
circumstances and requisites which Aristotle requires<39>
to true and perfect valour, we shall find the name only
in his master, Alexander, and as little in that Roman
worthy, Julius Caesar; and if any, in that easy and
active way, have done so nobly as to deserve that name,
yet, in the passive and more terrible piece, these have
surpassed, and in a more heroical way may claim, the
honour of that title. 'Tis not in the power of every
honest faith to proceed thus far, or pass to heaven
through the flames. Every one hath it not in that full
measure, nor in so audacious and resolute a temper, as
to endure those terrible tests and trials; who, notwith-
standing, in a peaceable way, do truly adore their
Saviour, and have, no doubt, a faith acceptable in the
eyes of God.

Sect. 26.--Now, as all that die in the war are not
termed soldiers, so neither can I properly term all those
that suffer in matters of religion, martyrs. The council
of Constance condemns John Huss for a heretick;<40>
the stories of his own party style him a martyr. He
must needs offend the divinity of both, that says he
was neither the one nor the other. There are many
(questionless) canonized on earth, that shall never be
saints in heaven; and have their names in histories and
martyrologies, who, in the eyes of God, are not so per-
fect martyrs as was that wise heathen Socrates, that
suffered on a fundamental point of religion,--the unity
of God. I have often pitied the miserable bishop<41>
that suffered in the cause of antipodes; yet cannot
choose but accuse him of as much madness, for exposing
his living on such a trifle, as those of ignorance and
folly, that condemned him. I think my conscience will
not give me the lie, if I say there are not many extant,
that, in a noble way, fear the face of death less than
myself; yet, from the moral duty I owe to the com-
mandment of God, and the natural respect that I tender
unto the conservation of my essence and being, I would
not perish upon a ceremony, politick points, or indiffer-
ency: nor is my belief of that untractable temper as,
not to bow at their obstacles, or connive at matters
wherein there are not manifest impieties. The leaven,
therefore, and ferment of all, not only civil, but re-
ligious, actions, is wisdom; without which, to commit
ourselves to the flames is homicide, and (I fear) but to
pass through one fire into another.

Sect. 27.--That miracles are ceased, I can neither
prove nor absolutely deny, much less define the time
and period of their cessation. That they survived
Christ is manifest upon record of Scripture: that they
outlived the apostles also, and were revived at the con-
version of nations, many years after, we cannot deny, if
we shall not question those writers whose testimonies
we do not controvert in points that make for our own
opinions: therefore, that may have some truth in it, that
is reported by the Jesuits of their miracles in the Indies.
I could wish it were true, or had any other testimony
than their own pens. They may easily believe those
miracles abroad, who daily conceive a greater at home
--the transmutation of those visible elements into the
body and blood of our Saviour;--for the conversion of
water into wine, which he wrought in Cana, or, what
the devil would have had him done in the wilderness,
of stones into bread, compared to this, will scarce deserve
the name of a miracle: though, indeed, to speak pro-
perly, there is not one miracle greater than another;
they being the extraordinary effects of the hand of God,
to which all things are of an equal facility; and to
create the world as easy as one single creature. For
this is also a miracle; not only to produce effects
against or above nature, but before nature; and to
create nature, as great a miracle as to contradict or
transcend her. We do too narrowly define the power
of God, restraining it to our capacities. I hold that
God can do all things: how he should work contradic-
tions, I do not understand, yet dare not, therefore, deny.
I cannot see why the angel of God should question
Esdras to recall the time past, if it were beyond his
own power; or that God should pose mortality in that
which he was not able to perform himself. I will not
say that God cannot, but he will not, perform many
things, which we plainly affirm he cannot. This, I am
sure, is the mannerliest proposition; wherein, notwith-
standing, I hold no paradox: for, strictly, his power is
the same with his will; and they both, with all the rest,
do make but one God.

Sect. 28.--Therefore, that miracles have been, I do
believe; that they may yet be wrought by the living, I
do not deny: but have no confidence in those which are
fathered on the dead. And this hath ever made me
suspect the efficacy of relicks, to examine the bones,
question the habits and appertenances of saints, and
even of Christ himself. I cannot conceive why the
cross that Helena<42> found, and whereon Christ himself
died, should have power to restore others unto life. I
excuse not Constantine from a fall off his horse, or a
mischief from his enemies, upon the wearing those nails
on his bridle which our Saviour bore upon the cross in
his hands. I compute among piae fraudes, nor many
degrees before consecrated swords and roses, that which
Baldwin, king of Jerusalem, returned the Genoese for
their costs and pains in his wars; to wit, the ashes of
John the Baptist. Those that hold, the sanctity of their
souls doth leave behind a tincture and sacred faculty
on their bodies, speak naturally of miracles, and do not
salve the doubt. Now, one reason I tender so little
devotion unto relicks is, I think the slender and doubt-
ful respect which I have always held unto antiquities. For
that, indeed, which I admire, is far before antiquity;
that is, Eternity; and that is, God himself; who, though
he be styled the Ancient of Days, cannot receive the
adjunct of antiquity, who was before the world, and
shall be after it, yet is not older than it: for, in his
years there is no climacter:<43> his duration is eternity;
and far more venerable than antiquity.

Sect. 29.--But, above all things, I wonder how the
curiosity of wiser heads could pass that great and indis-
putable miracle, the cessation of oracles; and in what
swoon their reasons lay, to content themselves, and sit
down with such a far-fetched and ridiculous reason as
Plutarch allegeth for it.<44> The Jews, that can believe
the supernatural solstice of the sun in the days of
Joshua, have yet the impudence to deny the eclipse,
which every pagan confessed, at his death; but for
this, it is evident beyond all contradiction: the devil
himself confessed it.* Certainly it is not a warrant-
able curiosity, to examine the verity of Scripture by the
concordance of human history; or seek to confirm the
chronicle of Hester or Daniel by the authority of Meg-
asthenes<45> or Herodotus. I confess, I have had an un-
happy curiosity this way, till I laughed myself out of
it with a piece of Justin, where he delivers that the
children of Israel, for being scabbed, were banished
out of Egypt. And truly, since I have understood the
occurrences of the world, and know in what counterfeit-
ing shapes and deceitful visards times present represent
on the stage things past, I do believe them little more
than things to come. Some have been of my own
opinion, and endeavoured to write the history of their
own lives; wherein Moses hath outgone them all, and
left not only the story of his life, but, as some will have
it, of his death also.

Sect. 30.--It is a riddle to me, how the story of
oracles hath not wormed out of the world that doubtful
conceit of spirits and witches; how so many learned

* In his oracle to Augustus.

heads should so far forget their metaphysicks, and
destroy the ladder and scale of creatures, as to question
the existence of spirits; for my part, I have ever be-
lieved, and do now know, that there are witches. They
that doubt of these do not only deny them, but spirits:
and are obliquely, and upon consequence, a sort, not of
infidels, but atheists. Those that, to confute their in-
credulity, desire to see apparitions, shall, questionless,
never behold any, nor have the power to be so much as
witches. The devil hath made them already in a heresy
as capital as witchcraft; and to appear to them were
but to convert them. Of all the delusions wherewith
he deceives mortality, there is not any that puzzleth
me more than the legerdemain of changelings.<46> I do
not credit those transformations of reasonable creatures
into beasts, or that the devil hath a power to transpeciate
a man into a horse, who tempted Christ (as a trial of his
divinity) to convert but stones into bread. I could
believe that spirits use with man the act of carnality;
and that in both sexes. I conceive they may assume,
steal, or contrive a body, wherein there may be action
enough to content decrepit lust, or passion to satisfy
more active veneries; yet, in both, without a possibility
of generation: and therefore that opinion, that Anti-
christ should be born of the tribe of Dan, by conjunc-
tion with the devil, is ridiculous, and a conceit fitter
for a rabbin than a Christian. I hold that the devil
doth really possess some men; the spirit of melancholy
others; the spirit of delusion others: that, as the devil
is concealed and denied by some, so God and good
angels are pretended by others, whereof the late defec-
tion of the maid of Germany hath left a pregnant

Sect. 31.--Again, I believe that all that use sorceries,
incantations, and spells, are not witches, or, as we term
them, magicians. I conceive there is a traditional
magick, not learned immediately from the devil, but
at second hand from his scholars, who, having once the
secret betrayed, are able and do empirically practise
without his advice; they both proceeding upon the
principles of nature; where actives, aptly conjoined to
disposed passives, will, under any master, produce their
effects. Thus, I think, at first, a great part of philosophy
was witchcraft; which, being afterward derived to one
another, proved but philosophy, and was indeed no
more than the honest effects of nature:--what invented
by us, is philosophy; learned from him, is magick.
We do surely owe the discovery of many secrets to the
discovery of good and bad angels. I could never pass
that sentence of Paracelsus without an asterisk, or an-
notation: "ascendens* constellatum multa revelat quaeren-
tibus magnalia naturae
, i.e. opera Dei." I do think that
many mysteries ascribed to our own inventions have
been the corteous revelations of spirits; for those noble
essences in heaven bear a friendly regard unto their
fellow-nature on earth; and therefore believe that
those many prodigies and ominous prognosticks, which
forerun the ruins of states, princes, and private persons,
are the charitable premonitions of good angels, which
more careless inquiries term but the effects of chance
and nature.

Sect. 32.--Now, besides these particular and divided
spirits, there may be (for aught I know) a universal and
common spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion
of Plato, and is yet of the hermetical philosophers.
If there be a common nature, that unites and ties the

* Thereby is meant our good angel, appointed us from our

scattered and divided individuals into one species, why
may there not be one that unites them all? However,
I am sure there is a common spirit, that plays within
us, yet makes no part in us; and that is, the spirit of
God; the fire and scintillation of that noble and mighty
essence, which is the life and radical heat of spirits, and
those essences that know not the virtue of the sun; a fire
quite contrary to the fire of hell. This is that gentle
heat that brooded on the waters, and in six days hatched
the world; this is that irradiation that dispels the mists
of hell, the clouds of horror, fear, sorrow, despair; and
preserves the region of the mind in serenity. Whatso-
ever feels not the warm gale and gentle ventilation of
this spirit (though I feel his pulse), I dare not say he
lives; for truly without this, to me, there is no heat
under the tropick; nor any light, though I dwelt in
the body of the sun.

"As when the labouring sun hath wrought his track
Up to the top of lofty Cancer's back,
The icy ocean cracks, the frozen pole
Thaws with the heat of the celestial coal;
So when thy absent beams begin t'impart
Again a solstice on my frozen heart,
My winter's o'er, my drooping spirits sing,
And every part revives into a spring.
But if thy quickening beams a while decline,
And with their light bless not this orb of mine,
A chilly frost surpriseth every member.
And in the midst of June I feel December.
Oh how this earthly temper doth debase
The noble soul, in this her humble place!
Whose wingy nature ever doth aspire
To reach that place whence first it took its fire.
These flames I feel, which in my heart do dwell,
Are not thy beams, but take their fire from hell.
Oh quench them all! and let thy Light divine
Be as the sun to this poor orb of mine!
And to thy sacred Spirit convert those fires,
Whose earthly fumes choke my devout aspires!"

Sect. 33.--Therefore, for spirits, I am so far from
denying their existence, that I could easily believe, that
not only whole countries, but particular persons, have
their tutelary and guardian angels. It is not a new
opinion of the Church of Rome, but an old one of
Pythagoras and Plato: there is no heresy in it: and if
not manifestly defined in Scripture, yet it is an opinion
of a good and wholesome use in the course and actions
of a man's life; and would serve as an hypothesis to salve
many doubts, whereof common philosophy affordeth no
solution. Now, if you demand my opinion and meta-
physicks of their natures, I confess them very shallow;
most of them in a negative way, like that of God; or
in a comparative, between ourselves and fellow-creatures:
for there is in this universe a stair, or manifest scale, of
creatures, rising not disorderly, or in confusion, but with
a comely method and proportion. Between creatures of
mere existence and things of life there is a large dispro-
portion of nature: between plants and animals, or creatures
of sense, a wider difference: between them and man, a
far greater: and if the proportion hold on, between man
and angels there should be yet a greater. We do not
comprehend their natures, who retain the first definition
of Porphyry;<48> and distinguish them from ourselves by
immortality: for, before his fall, man also was im-
mortal: yet must we needs affirm that he had a different
essence from the angels. Having, therefore, no certain
knowledge of their nature, 'tis no bad method of the
schools, whatsoever perfection we find obscurely in our-
selves, in a more complete and absolute way to ascribe
unto them. I believe they have an extemporary know-
ledge, and, upon the first motion of their reason, do
what we cannot without study or deliberation: that
they know things by their forms, and define, by speci-
fical difference what we describe by accidents and pro-
perties: and therefore probabilities to us may be
demonstrations unto them: that they have knowledge
not only of the specifical, but numerical, forms of in-
dividuals, and understand by what reserved difference
each single hypostatis (besides the relation to its species)
becomes its numerical self: that, as the soul hath a
power to move the body it informs, so there's a faculty
to move any, though inform none: ours upon restraint
of time, place, and distance: but that invisible hand
that conveyed Habakkuk to the lion's den, or Philip to
Azotus, infringeth this rule, and hath a secret convey-
ance, wherewith mortality is not acquainted. If they
have that intuitive knowledge, whereby, as in reflection,
they behold the thoughts of one another, I cannot
peremptorily deny but they know a great part of ours.
They that, to refute the invocation of saints, have denied
that they have any knowledge of our affairs below,
have proceeded too far, and must pardon my opinion,
till I can thoroughly answer that piece of Scripture,
"At the conversion of a sinner, the angels in heaven
rejoice." I cannot, with those in that great father,<49>
securely interpret the work of the first day, fiat lux, to
the creation of angels; though I confess there is not
any creature that hath so near a glimpse of their nature
as light in the sun and elements: we style it a bare
accident; but, where it subsists alone, 'tis a spiritual
substance, and may be an angel: in brief, conceive light
invisible, and that is a spirit.

Sect. 34.--These are certainly the magisterial and
masterpieces of the Creator; the flower, or, as we may
say, the best part of nothing; actually existing, what
we are but in hopes, and probability. We are only that
amphibious piece, between a corporeal and a spiritual
essence; that middle form, that links those two to-
gether, and makes good the method of God and nature,
that jumps not from extremes, but unites the incom-
patible distances by some middle and participating
natures. That we are the breath and similitude of God,
it is indisputable, and upon record of Holy Scripture:
but to call ourselves a microcosm, or little world, I
thought it only a pleasant trope of rhetorick, till my
near judgment and second thoughts told me there was
a real truth therein. For, first we are a rude mass, and
in the rank of creatures which only are, and have a dull
kind of being, not yet privileged with life, or preferred
to sense or reason; next we live the life of plants, the
life of animals, the life of men, and at last the life of
spirits: running on, in one mysterious nature, those five
kinds of existencies, which comprehend the creatures,
not only of the world, but of the universe. Thus is
man that great and true amphibium, whose nature is
disposed to live, not only like other creatures in divers
elements, but in divided and distinguished worlds; for
though there be but one to sense, there are two to reason,
the one visible, the other invisible; whereof Moses
seems to have left description, and of the other so
obscurely, that some parts thereof are yet in controversy.
And truly, for the first chapters of Genesis, I must con-
fess a great deal of obscurity; though divines have, to
the power of human reason, endeavoured to make all
go in a literal meaning, yet those allegorical interpreta-
tions are also probable, and perhaps the mystical method
of Moses, bred up in the hieroglyphical schools of the

Sect. 35.--Now for that immaterial world, methinks
we need not wander so far as the first moveable; for,
even in this material fabrick, the spirits walk as freely
exempt from the affection of time, place, and motion, as
beyond the extremest circumference. Do but extract
from the corpulency of bodies, or resolve things beyond
their first matter, and you discover the habitation of
angels; which if I call the ubiquitary and omnipresent
essence of God, I hope I shall not offend divinity: for,
before the creation of the world, God was really all
things. For the angels he created no new world, or
determinate mansion, and therefore they are everywhere
where is his essence, and do live, at a distance even, in
himself. That God made all things for man, is in some
sense true; yet, not so far as to subordinate the creation
of those purer creatures unto ours; though, as minister-
ing spirits, they do, and are willing to fulfil the will of
God in these lower and sublunary affairs of man. God
made all things for himself; and it is impossible he
should make them for any other end than his own glory:
it is all he can receive, and all that is without himself.
For, honour being an external adjunct, and in the
honourer rather than in the person honoured, it was
necessary to make a creature, from whom he might re-
ceive this homage: and that is, in the other world,
angels, in this, man; which when we neglect, we forget
God, not only to repent that he hath made the world,
but that he hath sworn he would not destroy it. That
there is but one world, is a conclusion of faith; Aristotle
with all his philosophy hath not been able to prove it:
and as weakly that the world was eternal; that dispute
much troubled the pen of the philosophers, but Moses
decided that question, and all is salved with the
new term of a creation,--that is, a production of some-
thing out of nothing. And what is that?--whatsoever
is opposite to something; or, more exactly, that which
is truly contrary unto God: for he only is; all others
have an existence with dependency, and are something
but by a distinction. And herein is divinity conformant
unto philosophy, and generation not only founded on
contrarieties, but also creation. God, being all things,
is contrary unto nothing; out of which were made all
things, and so nothing became something, and omneity<50>
informed nullity into an essence.

Sect. 36.--The whole creation is a mystery, and par-
ticularly that of man. At the blast of his mouth were
the rest of the creatures made; and at his bare word
they started out of nothing: but in the frame of man
(as the text describes it) he played the sensible operator,
and seemed not so much to create as make him. When
he had separated the materials of other creatures, there
consequently resulted a form and soul; but, having
raised the walls of man, he was driven to a second and
harder creation,--of a substance like himself, an incor-
ruptible and immortal soul. For these two affections
we have the philosophy and opinion of the heathens,
the flat affirmative of Plato, and not a negative from
Aristotle. There is another scruple cast in by divinity
concerning its production, much disputed in the German
auditories, and with that indifferency and equality of
arguments, as leave the controversy undetermined. I
am not of Paracelsus's mind, that boldly delivers a re-
ceipt to make a man without conjunction; yet cannot
but wonder at the multitude of heads that do deny
traduction, having no other arguments to confirm their
belief than that rhetorical sentence and antimetathesis<51>
of Augustine, "creando infunditur, infundendo creatur."
Either opinion will consist well enough with religion:
yet I should rather incline to this, did not one objection
haunt me, not wrung from speculations and subtleties,
but from common sense and observation; not pick'd
from the leaves of any author, but bred amongst the
weeds and tares of my own brain. And this is a con-
clusion from the equivocal and monstrous productions
in the copulation of a man with a beast: for if the soul
of man be not transmitted and transfused in the seed of
the parents, why are not those productions merely
beasts, but have also an impression and tincture of
reason in as high a measure, as it can evidence itself in
those improper organs? Nor, truly, can I peremptorily
deny that the soul, in this her sublunary estate, is
wholly, and in all acceptions, inorganical: but that,
for the performance of her ordinary actions, is required
not only a symmetry and proper disposition of organs,
but a crasis and temper correspondent to its operations;
yet is not this mass of flesh and visible structure the

Book of the day: