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ADAM, upon the expostulation of God, replied, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and because I was naked I hid myself.” In which reply there was included a very gross mistake, and if with pertinacity maintained, a high and capital error. For thinking by this retirement to obscure himself from God, he infringed the omnisciency and essential ubiquity of his Maker; who, as he created all things, so is he beyond and in them all, not only in power, as under his subjection, or in his presence, as being in his cognition, but in his very essence, as being the soul of their causalities and the essential cause of their existences. Certainly his posterity, at this distance and after so perpetuated an impairment, cannot but condemn the poverty of his conception, that thought to obscure himself from his Creator in the shade of the garden, who had beheld him before in the darkness of his chaos and the great obscurity of nothing; that thought to fly from God which could not fly himself; or imagined that one tree should conceal his nakedness from God's eye, as another had revealed it unto his own. Those tormented spirits, that wish the mountains to cover them, have fallen upon desires of minor absurdity, and chosen ways of less improbable concealment. Though this be also as ridiculous unto reason as fruitless unto their desires ; for he that laid the foundations of the earth cannot be excluded the secrecy of the mountains ; nor can there any thing escape the perspicacity of those eyes which were before light, and in whose optics there is no opacity. This is the consolation of all good men, unto whom his ubiquity affordeth continual comfort and security; and this is the affliction of hell, unto whom it affordeth despair and remediless calamity. For those restless spirits that fly the face of the Almighty, being deprived of the fruition of his eye, would also avoid the extent of his hand ; which being impossible, their sufferings are desperate and their afflictions without evasion, until they can get out of Trismegistus's circle, that is, to extend their wings above the universe and pitch beyond ubiquity.
OF ADHERENCE UNTO AN
But the mortalest enemy unto knowledge, and that which hath done the greatest execution upon truth, hath been a peremptory adhesion unto authority, and more especially the establishing of our belief upon the dictates of antiquity. For (as every capacity may observe) most men of ages present so superstitiously do look on ages past, that the authorities of the one exceed the reasons of the other ; whose persons indeed, being far removed from our times, their works, which seldom with us pass uncontrolled either by contemporaries or immediate successors, are now become out of the distance of envies ; and the farther removed from present times, are conceived to approach the nearer unto truth itself. Now hereby methinks we manifestly delude ourselves, and widely walk out of the track of truth.
For, first, men hereby impose a thraldom on their times, which the ingenuity of no age should endure, or indeed the presumption of any did ever yet enjoin. Thus Hippocrates, about two thousand years ago, conceived it no injustice either to examine or refute the doctrines of his predecessors; Galen the like, and
Aristotle most of any. Yet did not any of these conceive themselves infallible, or set down their dictates as verities irrefragable ; but when they either deliver their own inventions or reject other men's opinions, they proceed with judgment and ingenuity, establishing their assertions, not only with great solidity, but submitting them also unto the correction of future discovery.
Secondly, men that adore times past, consider not that those times were once present ; that is, as our own are at this instant, ourselves unto those to come as they unto us at present. As we rely on them, even so will those on us, and magnify us hereafter, who at present condemn ourselves ; which
absurdity is daily committed amongst us even in the esteem and censure of our own times. And, to speak impartially, old men, from whom we should expect the greatest example of wisdom, do most exceed in this point of folly; commending the days of their youth they scarce remember, at least well understood not ; extolling those times their younger years have heard their fathers condemn, and condemning those times the gray heads of their posterity shall commend. And thus is it the humor of many heads to extol the days of their forefathers and declaim against the wickedness of times pres
ent; which notwithstanding they cannot handsomely do, without the borrowed help and satires of times past, condemning the vices of their times by the expressions of vices in times which they commend, which cannot but argue the community of vice in both. Horace, therefore, Juvenal, and Persius were no prophets, although their lines did seem to indigitate and point at our times. There is a certain list of vices committed in all ages and declaimed against by all authors, which will last as long as human nature; or digested into common-places may serve for any theme, and never be out of date until doomsday.
THE ERRONEOUS DISPOSITION
OF THE PEOPLE,
As for popular errors, they are more nearly founded upon an erroneous inclination of the people, as being the most deceptible part of mankind, and ready with open arms to receive the encroachments of error; which condition of theirs, although deducible from many grounds, yet shall we evidence it but from a few, and such as most nearly and undeniably declare their natures.