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few carmen which drive the earth about, but the ancient astronomers, which feign the moon to be the swiftest of the planets in motion, and the rest in order, the higher the slower; and so are compelled to imagine a double motion : whereas how evident is it, that that which they call a contrary motion, is but an abatement of motion. The fixed stars overgo Saturn, and so in them and the rest, all is but one motion, and the nearer the earth the slower. A motion also whereof air and water do participate, though much interrupted. But why do I in a conference of pleasure enter into these great matters, in sort that pretending to know much, I should forget what is seasonable ? Pardon me, it was because all things may be endowed and adorned with speeches, but knowledge itself is more beautiful than any apparel of words that can be put upon it. And let me not seem arrogant without respect to these great reputed authors. Let me so give every man his due, as I give time his due, which is to discover truth. Many of these men had greater wits, far above mine own, and so are many in the Universities of Europe at this day. But alas, they learn nothing there but to believe: first, to believe that others know that which they know not; and after, themselves know that which they know not But indeed facility to believe, impatience to doubt, temerity to answer, glory to know, doubt to contradict, end to gain, sloth to search, seeking things in words, resting in part of nature; these and the like, have been the things which have forbidden the happy match between the
mind of man and the nature of things; and in place thereof have married it to vain notions and blind experiments : and what the posterity and issue of so honourable a match may be, it is not hard to consider. Printing, a gross invention ; artillery, a thing that lay not far out of the way; the needle, a thing partly known before: what a change have these three made in the world in these times; the one in state of learning, the other in state of the war, the third in the state of treasure, commodities, and navigation ? And those, I say, were but stumbled upon and lighted upon by chance. Therefore, no doubt, the sovereignty of man lieth hid in knowledge; wherein many things are reserved, which kings with their treasure cannot buy, nor with their force command; their spials and intelligencers can give no news of them, their seamen and discoverers cannot sail where they grow : now we govern nature in opinions, but we are thrall unto her in necessity ; but if we would be led by her in invention, we should command her in action.
THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE:
ANNOTATIONS OF HERMES STELLA.
A FEW FRAGMENTS OF THE FIRST BOOK:
[None of the Annotations of Stella are set down in these Fragments.]
Of the limits and end of knowledge. In the divine nature, both religion and philosophy hath acknowledged goodness in perfection, science or providence comprehending all things, and absolute sovereignty or kingdom. In aspiring to the throne of power, the angels trangressed and fell ; in presuming to come within the oracle of knowledge, man transgressed and fell; but in pursuit towards the similitude of God's goodness or love, which is one thing, for love is nothing else but goodness put in motion or applied, neither man or spirit ever hath transgressed, or shall transgress.
The angel of light that was, when he presumed before his fall, said within himself, “ I will ascend “ and be like unto the Highest;" not God, but the Highest. To be like to God in goodness, was no part of his emulation : knowledge, being in creation an angel of light, was not the want which did most solicit him; only because he was a minister he aimed at a supremacy; therefore his climbing or ascension was turned into a throwing down or precipitation.
Man on the other side, when he was tempted before he fell, had offered unto him this suggestion, “ " that he should be like unto God." But how ? not simply, but in this part, “knowing good and evil.” For being in his creation invested with sovereignty of all inferior creatures, he was not needy of power or dominion. But again, being a spirit newly inclosed in a body of earth, he was fittest to be allured with appetite of light and liberty of knowledge. Therefore this approaching and intruding into God's secrets and mysteries, was rewarded with a further removing and estranging from God's
presence. But as to the goodness of God, there is no danger in contending or advancing towards a similitude thereof; as that which is open and propounded to our imitation. For that voice, whereof the heathen and all other errours of religion have ever confessed that it sounds not like man, “ Love your enemies; be you
; “ like unto your heavenly Father, that suffereth his “rain to fall both upon the just and the unjust," doth well declare, that we can in that point commit
So again we find it often repeated in the old law, “ Be you holy as I am holy;" and what is holiness else but goodness, as we consider it separate and guarded from all mixture, and all access of evil ?
Wherefore sceing that knowledge is of the num
ber of those things which are to be accepted of with caution and distinction ; being now to open a fountain, such as it is not easy to discern where the issues and streams thereof will take and fall; I thought it good and necessary in the first place, to make a strong and sound head or bank to rule and guide the course of the waters ; by setting down this position or firmament, namely, “ That all knowledge is to be “ limited by religion, and to be referred to use and “ action."
For if any man shall think, by view and inquiry into these sensible and material things, to attain to any light for the revealing of the nature or will of God, he shall dangerously abuse himself. It is true, that the contemplation of the creatures of God hath for end, as to the natures of the creatures themselves, knowledge; but as to the nature of God, no knowledge, but wonder: which is nothing else but contemplation broken off, or losing itself. Nay further, as it was aptly said by one of Plato's school, “ the sense of man resembles the sun, which openeth “ and revealeth the terrestrial globe, but obscureth
and concealeth the celestial ;" so doth the sense discover natural things, but darken and shut up divine. And this appeareth sufficiently in that there is no proceeding in invention of knowledge, but by siinilitude; and God is only self-like, having nothing in common with any creature, otherwise than as in shadow and trope.
Therefore attend his will as himself openeth it, and give unto faith that which unto faith belongeth; for more worthy it is to be