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Now this course of nature God seldom alters or perverts, but like an excellent artist hath so contrived his work, that with the selfsame 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 blast of his mouth might have as easily created; for God is like a skilful geometrician,(39) who when more easily, and with one stroke of his compass, he might describe or divide a right line, had yet rather to do this in a circle or longer way, according to the constituted and fore-laid principles of his art yet this rule of his he doth sometimes pervert, to acquaint the world with his prerogative, 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 principal 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 or species of creature whatsoever. I cannot tell by what logic we call a toad, a bear, or an elephant ugly, they being created in those outward shapes and figures which best express those actions of their inward
(39) Conf. Plato. in Timæo.
(40) Similar remarks occur in the "Essay on the Human Understanding."-Ed.
forms. And having past 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 monstrosity, wherein notwithstanding there is a kind of beauty. Nature so ingeniously contriving the irregular parts, as they become sometimes more remarkable than the principal fabric. 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 impregnate by the voice of God. (") Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature; they being both 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.
This is the ordinary and open way of his providence, which art and industry have in a good part discovered, whose effects we may foretell without an oracle to foreshow these, is not prophecy, but prognostication. There is another way full of me
(1) There is a singular sublimity in the images presented to the mind in this passage, which recals to mind another replete with superior majesty. It is where Milton, addressing the Deity,
anders and labyrinths, whereof the devil and spi- ! rits have no exact ephemerides, and that is a more particular and obscure method of his providence, directing the operations of individuals and single essences: this we call fortune, that serpentine and crooked line, whereby he draws those actions his wisdom intends in a more unknown and secret way :(") this cryptic 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 of dangers, and hits of chance, with a Bezo los 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 convert a stoic! Surely there are in every man's life certain rubs, doublings and wrenches, which pass awhile under the effects of chance, but at the last, well examined, prove the mere hand of God. It was not dumb chance that, to discover the fougade, or powder-plot, contrived a miscarriage in the letter. I like the victory of eighty-eight 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
(42) That is, Sir Thomas Browne, in his meditations, substituted, as every Christian should, Providence for Fortune, which in our mouths is a word without meaning.-ED.
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 unexpected accidents slip in, and unthought of occurrences intervene, these must proceed from a power that owes no obedience to those axioms;(43) 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 seignor 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 they must obey the swing of that wheel, not moved by intelligences,
(43) In every occurrence not miraculous, it would be possible, did we possess a full knowledge of all the circumstances, certainly to foretell the event. Things fall out contrary to our expectation simply because of our ignorance, which, in most cases, is far greater than it need be. That marvellous sagacity which we so much admire in Themistocles (Thucyd. I. 138. Corn. Nep. in Vit. c. 1.) was the fruit of a diligent study of the men and things around him.-ED.
but by the hand of God, whereby all estates arise to their zenith and vertical points, according 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.(")
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 rea-. son 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. It is not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at tables; for even in sortileges 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 providence of the Almighty.(") I cannot justify that contemptible
(4) Volney, (Ruines des Empires, ch. II.) applying this idea to futurity, has produced a passage of solemn and impressive eloquence. "Perhaps some traveller," says he, " may hereafter sit down solitary on the banks of the Thames, the Seine,, or the Zuyder Zee, and lament the departed glory of a people now inurned, and their greatness changed into an empty name."ED.
(45) See note 40, and compare the whole of Bishop Butler's 15th Sermon, particularly that portion of §. I, in which, after