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that the fixed stars ever stand at like distance one from another, and never come nearer together nor go farther asunder; the other, that the diurnal motion perpetually keepeth time,) no individual would last one moment : certain it is, that the matter is in a perpetual fux, and never at a stay. The great winding-sheets that bury all things in oblivion are two; deluges and earthquakes. As for conflagrations and great droughts, they do not merely dispeople, but destroy. Phaëton's car went but a day; and the three years' drought, in the time of Elias, was but particular, and left people alive. As for the great burnings by lightnings, which are often in the West Indies, they are but narrow ; but in the other two destructions, by deluge and earthquake, it is farther to be noted, that the remnant of people which happen to be reserved, are commonly ignorant and mountainous people, that can give no account of the time past; so that the oblivion is all one, as if none had been left. If
consider well of the people of the West Indies, it is very probable that they are a newer, or a younger people than the people of the old world ; and it is much more likely, that the
destruction that hath heretofore been there, was not by earthquakes, as the Ægyptian priest told Solon, concerning the island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake,) but rather, that it was desolated by a particular deluge ; for. earthquakes are seldom in those parts : but on the other side, they have such pouring rivers, as the rivers of Asia and Africa, and Europe, are but brooks to them. Their Andes likewise, or mountains, are far higher than those with us ; whereby it seems, that the remnants of generation of men were in such a particular deluge, saved. As for the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jealousy of sects doth much extinguish the memory of things; traducing Gregory the Great, that he did what in him lay to extinguish all heathen antiquities; I do not find that those zeals do any great effects, nor last long; as it appeared in the succession of Sabinian, who did revive the former antiquities.
The vicissitude or mutations in the superior globe are no fit matter for this present argument. It may be Plato's great year, if the world should last so long, would have some effect, not in renewing the state of like in
dividuals, (for that is the fume of those that conceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these things below than indeed they have,) but in gross. Comets, out of question, have likewise power and effect over the gross and mass of things; but they are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their journey than wisely observed in their effects ; especially in their respective effects ; that is, what kind of comet, for magnitude, colour, version of the beams, placing in the region of heaven, or lasting, produceth what kind of effects.
There is a toy, which I have heard, and I would not have it given over, but waited upon a little. They say
it is observed in the Low Countries, (I know not in what part) that every five and thirty years the same kind and suit of years
and weathers comes about again ; as great frosts, great wet, great droughts, warm winters, summers with little heat, and the like; and they call it the prime; it is a thing I do the rather mention, because, computing backwards, I have found some concurrence.
But to leave these points of nature, and to come lo men. The greatest vicissitude of.
things amongst men is the vicissitude of sects and religions; for those orbs rule in men's minds most. The true religion is built upon the rock; the rest are tossed upon the waves of time. To speak therefore of the causes of new sects, and to give some counsel concerning then), as far as the weakness of human judgment can give stay to so great revolutions.
When the religion formerly received is rent by discords, and when the holiness of the professors of religion is decayed and full of scandal, and withal the times be stupid, ignorant, and barbarous, you may doubt the springing up of a new sect; if then also there should arise any extravagant and strange spirit to make himself author thereof; all which points held when Mahomet published his law. If a new sect have not two properties, fear it not, for it will not spread; the one is the supplanting or the opposing of authority established; for nothing is more popular than that; the other is the giving licence to pleasures and a voluptuous life ; for, as for speculative heresies, (such as were in ancient times the Arians, and now the Arminians, though they work mightily upon men's wits, yet they
do not produce any great alterations in states ; except it be by the help of civil occasions. There be three manner of plantations of new sects; by the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence and wisdom of speech and .persuasion; and by the sword. For martyrdoms, I reckon them amongst miracles, because they seem to exceed the strength of human nature: and I may do the like of superlative and ad. mirable holiness of life. Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms than to reform abuses; to compound the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions; and rather to take off the principal authors, by winning and advancing them than to enrage them by violence and bitterness.
The changes and vicissitudes in wars are many, but chiefly in three things; in the seats or stages of the war, in the weapons, and in the manner of the conduct. Wars, in ancient time, seemed more to move from east to west; for the Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, Tartars, (which were the invaders,) were all eastern people. It is true, the Gauls were western; but we read but of two incursions of theirs ;