Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

as a divinity. And so also in the sacrament of the Eucharist, the bread and wine which were but the signals or visible signs, were made the things signified, and worshipped as the body of Christ. And hereby generally men are deceived, that take things spoken in some latitude without any at all. Hereby the Jews were deceived concerning the commandment of the sabbath, accusing our Saviour for healing the sick, and his disciples for plucking the ears of corn upon that day. And, by this deplorable mistake, they were deceived unto destruction, upon the assault of Pompey the Great, made upon that day;9 by whose superstitious observation they could not defend themselves, or perform any labour whatever.

The third is, A non causa pro causa, when that is pretended for a cause which is not, or not in that sense which is inferred. Upon this consequence the law of Mahomet forbids the use of wine;' and his successors abolished universities. By this, also, many Christians have condemned literature, misunderstanding the counsel of Saint Paul, who adviseth no further than to beware of philosophy. On this foundation were built the conclusions of soothsayers in their augurial and tripudiary divinations, collecting presages from voice or food of birds, and conjoining events unto causes of no connection. Hereupon also are grounded the gross mistakes in the cure of many diseases, not only from the last medicine and sympathetical receipts, but amulets, charms, and all incantatory applications; deriving effects not only from inconcurring causes, but things devoid of all efficiency whatever.

9 And by this deplorable mistake, &c.] tó a Christian, that by forbidding that The reader will find the particulars of which is indeed vaine, he advanceth true this event recorded by Josephus, in his philosophye: such as is that of the hexAntiquities of the Jews, book xiv, chap. 4, ameron, or 6 dayes creation : whereon to which some pertinent illustrations from many of the ancient Christians have left other parts of the Jewish history have admirable treatises, setting forth in those been added by Whiston.— Br.

workes the incomprehensible wisdom, | Upon this consequence, &c.] Mean- and majesty and omnipotency of the Creing probably that Mahomet forbad the ator, and his unpromerited inexhausted use of wine, when his motive was to pre- goodness unto us, for whom he ordained vent its abuse only; but his experience the use of them all : that by our acknowhad taught him that the only means of ledgment, the abundant grace might reeffecting this would be to prohibit it al- dound to his glorye ; as itt hath don in all together.

ages by that divine philosophical treatise ? Philosophy.] The apostle bids be- of Moses philosophie, mentioned in the ware of vaine philosophie : where the 196th page, line 7, in the passage beworde (vaine) is a sufficient commentarye ginning "And though Galen," &c.Wr. 3 A third cause of common errors.] apprehension; the second, fallacious, or The first cause being mistake, or mis. false inferences.

The fourth is, the fallacy of the consequent; which, if strictly taken, may be a fallacious illation in reference unto antecedency, or consequency; as, to conclude, from the position of the antecedent, to the position of the consequent, or from the remotion of the consequent, to the remotion of the antecedent. This is usually committed when in connexed propositions the terms adhere contingently. This is frequent in oratory illations; and thus the Pharisees, because he conversed with publicans and sinners, accused the holiness of Christ. But, if this fallacy be largely taken, it is committed in any vicious illation, offending the rules of good consequence; and so it may be very large, and comprehend all false illations against the settled laws of logick. But the most usual inconsequencies are from particulars, from negatives, and from affirmative conclusions in the second figure, wherein, indeed, offences are most frequent, and their discoveries not difficult.

CHAPTER V.

Of other more immediate Causes of Error ;-viz. Credulity

and Supinity.

A THIRD cause of common errors is, the credulity of men, that is, an easy assent to what is obtruded, or a believing, at first ear, what is delivered by others. This is a weakness in the understanding, without examination assenting unto things which, from their natures and causes, do carry no persuasion ; whereby men often swallow falsities for truths, dubiosities for certainties, feasibilities for possibilities, and things impossible as possibilities themselves. Which, though a weakness of the intellect, and most discoverable in vulgar heads, yet hath it sometime fallen upon wiser brains, and great advancers of truth. Thus many wise Athenians so far forgot their philosophy, and the nature of human production, that they descend

ed unto belief that the original of their nation was from the earth, and had no other beginning, than from the seminality and womb of their great mother. Thus it is not without wonder how those learned Arabicks so tamely delivered up their belief unto the absurdities of the Alcoran. How the noble Geber, Avicenna, and Almanzor, should rest satisfied in the nature and causes of earthquakes, delivered from the doctrine of their prophet; that is, from the motion of a great bull, upon whose horns all the earth is poised. How their faiths could decline so low as to concede their generations in heaven to be made by the smell of a citron, or that the felicity of their paradise should consist in a jubilee of conjunction, that is, a coition of one act prolonged unto fifty years. Thus is it almost beyond wonder, how the belief of reasonable creatures should ever submit unto idolatry; and the credulity of those men scarce credible (without presumption of a second fall) who could believe a Deity in the work of their own hands. For although in that ancient and diffused adoration of idols unto the priests and subtiler heads, the worship, perhaps, might be symbolical, and as those images some way related

* Ilow the noble Geber, &c.] Sale's sufficient merely to remark, that the riKoran having been in vain examined for diculous conceits respecting “generations some justification of this passage, I re- in heaven" and the “felicity of Paraquested my learned friend, Mr. W. H. dise," here attributed to Mohammed, are Black, to refer to the works of Geber, not to be found in the Korân, or in any Almanzor, and Avicenna, in the library genuine commentary upon it. They of the British Museum. He did so, with-' have much the air of Rabbinical fancies, out success, as appears from the following foisted upon the Mohammedans by their extracts from his obliging reply :

inventors.

At the same time, the real “I have diligently perused (butin vain) dogmas of the prophet of Mecca upon the Rhasis of Almanzor (1497, folio), and both points, afford, perhaps, as good an Taragua's Alphabetical Arrangement or illustration of the credulity of the Arabian Common Place Book of Avicenna (Bur. philosophers as those erroneously asdigal, 4to. 1520), and two editions of cribed to him in the text. For "accordGeber, the latter being, as I think, the ing to the saying of the prophet,” if any same book as you mean. ....

of the faithful in Paradise be desirous of “This little duodecimo volume contains issue, it shall be conceived by their Houri several curious tracts not named in the wives, born, and grown up, within the title, all which I have also perused, and space of an hour. And the other extrathe only notice of earthquakes I can any ordinary notion alluded to by Browne, where find, is in " Avicenna Mineralia,” (for doubtless he was not the originator p. 248, in the beginning of the 2nd chap- of it) may have been derived from the “ De Causa Montium."

declaration of Mohammed, that in order “Montes quoque quandoque fiunt ex to qualify the blessed for the full enjoycausa essentiali, quandoque ex causa ac- ment of the pleasures and delights of cidentali. Ex essentiali causa, ut ex Paradise, which they would otherwise vehementi motu terra elevatur terra et sink under, “God will give to every one fit mons.”

the abilities of an hundred men." Vide How their faiths, &c.] It will be Sale's Koran, Prelini. Disc. sec. iv. ---Br.

VOL. 11.

ter.

P

unto their deities; yet was the idolatry direct and downright in the people ; whose credulity is illimitable, who may be made believe that any thing is God; and may be made believe there is no God at all.

And, as credulity is the cause of error, so incredulity oftentimes of not enjoying truth : and that not only an obstinate incredulity, whereby we will not acknowledge assent unto what is reasonably inferred, but any academical reservation in matters of easy truth, or rather sceptical infidelity against the evidence of reason and sense. For these are conceptions befalling wise men, as absurd as the apprehensions of fools, and the credulity of the people, which promiscuously swallow any thing. For this is not only derogatory unto the wisdom of God, who hath proposed the world unto our knowledge, and thereby the notion of himself, but also detractory unto the intellect and sense of man, expressedly disposed for that inquisition. And, therefore, hoc tantum scio, quod nihil scio, is not to be received in an absolute sense, but is comparatively expressed unto the number of things whereof our knowledge is ignorant. Nor will it acquit the insatisfaction of those who quarrel with all things, or dispute of matters concerning whose verities we have conviction from reason, or decision from the inerrable and requisite conditions of sense. And, therefore, if any affirm the earth doth move, and will not believe with us, it standeth still ; 6 because he hath probable? reasons for it, and I no infallible sense, nor reason against it, I will not quarrel with his assertion. But if, like Zeno, he shall walk about, and yet deny there is any motion in nature, surely that man was constituted for Anticyra, and were a fit companion for those who, having a conceit they are dead, cannot be convicted into the society of the living.

6 it standeth still.] [In] the booke were itt nothing else than the veneration of God, from Moses unto Christ, there and firme beliefe of that Word of His, are no lesse than 80 and odd expresse which the penmen thereof spake not of places, affirming in plaine and overt themselves, but by inspiration of the termes the naturall and perpetuall motion Holy Ghost, they that profess Christianiof the sun and the moon; and that the tye should not dare, much lesse advenstop or stay of that motion was one of the ture to call the letter thereof in question greatest miracles that ever the whole concerning things soe plainly, frequently, world beheld : others the rising and set- constantly, delivered : should tremble at ting of them: others, their diurnal course that curse which is denounced against and vigorous activitye upon this lowest those that adde any thing unto itt, or world : others, their circulation on this diminish any tittle of itt: should feare to world or earth not only daylye, but an- raise such a hellish suspition in vulgar nually, by a declination from the mid-line mindes, as the Romish church, by unon both sides, North and South : others dervalewing the majesty and authority (as expressly) the impossibility of any thereof, hath done; should bee affright(other) motion in the earth, than that ed to follow that audacious and pernicious terrible and pænal motion of his shaking suggestion, which Satan used, and thereitt, that made it: others, that it cannot by undid us all in our first parents; that be moved totally in his place, nor remov- God had a double meaning in his comed universal out of his place. Soe that mands, in effect condemning God of amwas the inclination to negative the quesHence the proverb mentioned by Ho- tion, that accounts of the fall of three race, Naviget Anticyram, which was ap- similar stones, in as many districts of plied to a person deemed insane ; and country, attested in the most convinchence also the allusion in the text.

The fourth is a supinity, or neglect of enquiry, even of matters whereof we doubt; rather believing than going to see, or doubting with ease and gratis than believing with dif

9

phibologye. And all this boldness and dence. But the opinion, that nothing overweaning having no other ground, was to be believed which could not dibut a seeming argument of some phæno- rectly be accounted for, was now very mena forsooth; which notwithstanding, prevalent. The accounts of the fall of we know the learned Tycho 'Aotgovo- meteoric stones were consequently rejectMásywv, who lived (52) years since Co-ed as impossible, and incompatible with pernicus, hath by adınirable and match- the laws of nature; and specimens of lesse instruments, and many yeares exact

stones and iron that had been seen to fall observations proved to bee noe better by hundreds of people, were preserved than a dreame.-Wr.

in cabinets of natural history, as ordinary 7 probable.] Seeminge.-Wr.

minerals, “which the credulous and sureason against it.] Other then God's perstitions regarded as having fallen from perpetual dictate.-Wr.

the clouds." Towards the latter end of Anticyra.] Two cities of the same

the eighteenth century, the attention of name, the one in Phocis, the other in several candid men of science was attractThessaly, famous for producing hellebore, ed to the subject by some remarkable cases which was esteemed among the ancients which then occurred: but so powerful the great remedy for madness.

ing manner, could not obtain credence A remarkable illustration of Browne's in the minds of a committee of the French remarks on obstinate and irrational scep- Academy of Sciences, one of whom was ticism is afforded by the history of me.

the celebrated Lavoisier. At length, teorites, or of the bodies cast down upon however, all the powers of inductive rethe earth by meteors in the atmosphere. search were exerted upon the subject, The fall of metallic and stony bodies from which was subjected, in 1801, by the the atmosphere, is recorded by writers late Mr. Edward Howard, F. R. s. to a of every age of classical antiquity, many train of exact research : stones stated to of whom narrated instances of it that had have fallen from meteors in various parts occurred in their own tinies, or even

of the world were collected and examinwithin their own knowledge. Evidence ed, and shewn to bear a decided resemof the same kind is abundantly to be blance to each other, whilst they were found throughout the middle and dark altogether dissimilar from every known ages ; and after the reformation, the fall mineral. In England, this evidence graof meteorites was witnessed and describ- dually vanquished incredulity, but many ed by several natural philosophers of foreign savans refused to believe it, and approved eminence and undoubted cre

the bulk of the French pbilosophers were dit, during the sixteenth and seventeenth yet undecided what to think, when the century, with the same attendant phæ- fall of some thousands of stones at nomena as had been described by the L'Aigle, in Normandy, the testimonies historians and writers of all the epochs to which were scrutinized with judicial we have mentioned. In the eighteenth circumspection and jealousy, compelled century similar events took place, and the most determined scepticism to an were attested by irrefragable moral evi- unwilling assent.--Br.

« PredošláPokračovať »