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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 magic, 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 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 part of philosophy was witchcraft, which being afterward derived to one another, proved but philosophy, and was indeed no more but the honest effects of nature. What invented by us is philosophy, learned from him is magic. 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 annotation ; Ascendens constellatum multa revelat, quærentibus magnalia nature, i. e. opera Dei. (79) I do think that many mysteries ascribed to our own inventions, have been the courteous 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 prognostics, 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.
(19) Thereby nativity.
meant, our good angel appointed us from our
Now, besides these particular and divided spirits, there may be (for aught I know) an universal and common spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion of Plato, and it is yet of the Hermetical philosophers : if there be a common nature that unites and ties the 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. Whatsoever 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 tropic; nor any light, though I dwelt in the body of the sun.
As when the labouring sun hath wrought his track
(80) A fine burst of enthusiasm, which warms the author into eloquence.-ED.
My winter's o'er, my drooping spirits sing,
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 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 solve many doubts, whereof common philosophy affordeth no solution. Now, if you demand my opinion and metaphysics 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 disproportion of nature; between plants and animals and 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, and distinguish them from ourselves by immortality; for before his fall, it is thought man also was immortal; yet must we needs affirm that he had a different
(81) This idea of a chain of existence, descending from the throne of God to the minutest insect, has been developed with gular luxuriance of poetry by Pope, in his Essay on Man:
“See, through this air, this ocean, and this earth,
From thee to nothing." Much has been said respecting the origin of this philosophical poem, inferior to no work of its kind, saving that of Lucretius : but few, perhaps, have detected,—none have pointed out-the place where its true germ is be found. It might, however, be proved, I think, that its origin is traceable to Montaigne's “ Apologie pour Raymond de Sebonde,” where the same attempt is made, and, for aught I know, with the same design, to humble the pride of man by exaggerating his defects, by exalting the inferior creation, and by instituting a terrible comparison between his greatest works, and the overwhelming grandeur and magnificence of the universe. In this diatribe of the old Perigordian, occur numerous passages of surpassing elegance and beauty. In his vehemence against human pride, in the picture he draws of human folly, in his apotheosis of instinct, in his elaborate delineation of human weakness, he furnishes a magnificent example of how grand and glorious man can be, even while descanting on his own humility.--Ed.
essence from the angels; having therefore no certain knowledge of their natures, it is no bad method of the schools, whatsoever perfection we find obscurely in ourselves, in a more complete and absolute way to ascribe unto them. I believe they have an extemporary knowledge, 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 specifical difference what we describe by accidents and properties; and therefore probabilities to us may be demonstrations unto them : that they have knowledge not only of the specifical, but numerical forms of individuals, and understand by what reserved difference each single hypostasis (besides the relation to its species) becomes its numerical self. That as the soul hath power to move the body it informs, so there is 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 lions' den, or Philip to Azotos, infringeth this rule, and hath a secret conveyance, 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