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à Buckler; under which I conceive a wary com- PARTI. batant may lye invulnerable. Since I was of understanding to know we knew nothing, my
p. 85. reason hath been more pliable to the will of Faith ; I am now content to understand a mystery without a rigid definition, in an easie and Platonick description. That allegorical description of Hermes pleaseth me beyond all the Meta- See below, physical definitions of Divines. Where I cannot satisfy my reason, I love to humour my fancy: I had as live you tell me that anima est angelus hominis, est Corpus Dei, as Entelechia ;-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 adur ration ; 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 positively said, the plants of the field were not yet grown, for God had not caus'd it to rain upon Gen. ii. 5. 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 Gen. iii. 14. before the curse. I find the tryal of the Pucellage and virginity of Women, which God ordained Deut. xxii. the Jews, is very fallible. Experience and History informs me, that not onely many particular
PART 1. Women, but likewise whole Nations, have escaped Gen. iii. 16. the curse of Childbirth, which GOD seems to pro
nounce upon the whole Sex. Yet do I believe
(neque enim cum porticus aut me
Lectulus accepit, desum mihi,)
I remember I am not alone, and therefore forget See below, 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 under
standing ; for who can speak of Eternity without 1. The Eter- a solæcism, or think thereof without an Extasie? nity of God. Time we may comprehend ; 'tis but five days
elder then our selves, and hath the same Horoscope with the World ; but to retire so far back as to apprehend a beginning, to give such an infinite start forwards 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 noi made a Creature
that can comprehend Him ; 'tis a privilege of Exod. iii. 14. 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. Indeed, He onely is; all others have and shall be. But in Eternity there is no distinction of Tenses ; and therefore PART 1. that terrible term Predestination, which hath troubled so many weak heads to conceive, and the wisest to explain, 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 all together, the last Trump is already sounded, the reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in St. Luke xvi. Abraham's bosome. St. Peter speaks modestly, 2 St Pet. when he saith, a thousand years to GOD are but iii. 8. 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. There is no Attribute that adds more dif- SECT. XI.
Of the Holy ficulty to the mystery of the Trinity, where, Trinity. though in a relative way of Father and Son, we must deny a priority. I wonder how Aristotle De Cælo, i. could conceive the World eternal, or how he See below, could make good two Eternities. His similitude P. 57. of a Triangle comprehended in a square doth De Animâ, somewhat 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 distinct Souls, yet differing faculties, that can and do subsist apart in different Subjects, and yet in us are so united as to make but one Soul and substance. If one Soul
ii. 3. 5.
were so perfect as to inform three distinct Bodies, that were a petty Trinity: conceive the distinct number of three, not divided nor separated by the intellect, but actually comprehended in its Unity, and that is a perfect Trinity. I have often admired the mystical way of Pythagoras, and the secret Magick of numbers. Beware 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 Pinacles and highest pieces of Divinity. The severe Schools
shall never laugh me out of the Philosophy World a pic- of Hermes, that this visible World is but a Pic
ture of the invisible, wherein, as in a Pourtraict, things are not truely, but in equivocal shapes, and as they counterfeit some more real substance in that invisible fabrick.
That other Attribute wherewith I recreate 2. The Wis- 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 of the vulgar, with the content and happiness I conceive therein, is an ample recompence for all my endeavours, in what part of knowledge soever.
Wisdom is His most beauteous Attribute; no 1 Kings ïi. man can attain unto it, yet Solomon pleased
God when he desired it. He is wise, because
ture of the invisible.
He knows all things; and He knoweth all things, PART I. 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, we had better known our selves, nor had we stood in fear to know him. I know He 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 Eye; we are ignorant of Ex. xxxiii. the back-parts or lower side of His Divinity ; 12, &c. therefore to prie 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 contradiction. 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 superlative and purest Ideas of goodness; consultation 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 metaphysical: 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