REFLECTIONS UPON LEARNING, Wherein is shewn the INSUFFICIENCY Thereof, in its several Particulars.

In order to evince the Usefulness and Necessity, OF REVELATION.

The Second Edition Corrected.


LONDON, Printed for A. Bosvile, at the Dial a­gainst St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet­street. MDCC.


A Work of this nature, that would so hardly find a Patron, will stand the more in need of a Preface; Men that write in commendation of Learning, usual­ly seek out some great Genius to pre­fix to their Book, whom they make an Instance of all the Learning and Per­fections that are described in it; were I to chuse a Patron, consistently with my design, I must Compliment him with the weakness of his Parts and shortness of his Vnderstanding, which is such a Compliment, as I presume I shall willingly be excus'd from. But th [...]n a Preface will be the more [Page] necessary to give an account of my undertaking, which is rather to en­quire into the abuses, and to show the insufficiency of Humane Learning, than wholly to descredit its use. No Man e [...]er did this, without disp [...] ­raging his own Vnderstanding, nor decry'd Learning but for want of it; it having been an old Observation, that will hold perpetually, That Knowledge has no Enemies except the Ignorant. An attempt of this nature would be utterlly impracti­cabl [...], for either it would be well perform'd, and then it must be done by reasons borrow'd from the Stores of Learning, by which means by reasoning against Learning, we must at the same time reason for it, and all our Arguments must return upon us; or if the performance were un­learned, it would be to no purpose, and might as well be let alone. This then is no part of my design.

[Page]All that I intend, is, to take it down from its suppos'd heights, by exposing the vanity of it in several particulars, its Insufficiency in the rest, and I believe I might say, its difficulties, in all: And there is the more need of this in an Age, in which it seems to be too much mag­nifi'd, and where Men are fond of Learning almost to the loss of Reli­gion. Learning is our great Diana, nothing will pass with our Men of Wit and Sense, but what is agreea­ble with the nicest Reason, and eve­ry Man's Reason is his own Vnder­standing: For if you examine them to the bottom, these mighty Preten­ders ha [...]e no truer grounds to go upon than other Men, only they af­fect a liberty of judging according to themselves, and (if they could be allow'd it) of making their own judg­ment a Standard of others. They plead for right Reason, but they mean their own, and talk of a rea­sonable [Page] Religion, whilst their own false Notions are mistaken for it; and while they seek the Goddess, they embrace a Cloud. In the mean time, they take us of from our surest Guide, Religion suffers by their Con­tentions about it, and we are in dan­ger of running into Natural Reli­gion.

Where these things will end, God only kmows, it is to be suspected, they may at last end in the thing we fear, and may bring us about to that Religion, for which of all others, we have the most abhorrence: For after Men have try'd the force of natural Reason in matters of Religi­on, they will soon be sensible of its weakness, and after they have run themselves out of breath and can cen­tre no where, they will be glad of any hold where they think they can find it, and rather than be always wandring, they will take up with an Infalli­ble Guide. I am unwilling to enter­tain [Page] such hard Thoughts of a Neigh­bouring Church, as to think they are sowing Discord among us to that pur­pose, but I much fear, we are doing their Work for them, and by our own Divisions, are making way for a Blind Faith, and Implicit Obedi­ence; And may it never be said, That as Learning was one grea [...] In­strument under God, to bring about a Reformation, so the Abuse of it, by the Divine Permission, has brought us back to the same place from whence we came, and that our Enemies have done that by secret Engines, and Do­mestic Distractions, which by open A [...]tempts they were never able to do. It is the sense of such Dangers and such Abuses [...]ha has drawn from me these Reflections, and has inclin'd me to harder Thoughts, and possibly, to say, harsher things of some parts of Learning, than will be agreeable to the Humor of the Age, and yet if any one who thinks thus of me, will [Page] [...]nly suspend his Censure so long, till I draw my Conclusion, I am willing to hope, that the goodness of the End will a [...]one for the hardest things, that shall be said in the Book.

I am sure I am not singular in this Design, one of the first Restorers of Letters,Ple. Mirand. Exam. Van. Doct. Gent. Op. vol. 2. p. 467. A Man noted for his Piety as well as Parts, has writ a Book to this purpose, but it having been principally levell'd against Ari­stotle's Philosophy, which is now so much out of Credit, that it rather wants an Advocate to defend it, than a new Adversary to run it down, the Book it self is as much out of use, as the Philosophy is, that it designs to decry. He was follow'd in his De­sign by Lodovicus Vives De Corrupt. Art. Op. vol. 1. p. 221. in bet­ter Latin, and with greater Eloquence, but Vives's main Talent having been in Philology, and having been less conversant in Philosophical Matters, his Book is both very defective as to [Page] the Particulars it treats of, and be­ing suited to the Ancient Literature, is less agreeable to the Genius of our Age. What Cornelius Agrippa De van. Scient. has writ upon this Subject is chiefly declamatory, and fitter for School-Boys, than of any just Moment or Consideration in a serious Enquiry. And a French BookLa va­nite des Sciences, Ams. 88. lately pub­lish'd upon the same Subject and with the same Title, tho' well and piously Writ, yet has nothing in it of what I expected, and is rather a Sermon, than a Treatise of Science. None of these Authors, nor any other I have yet met with, have come up full to my purpose, nor have I been able to borrow much help from them; where I have, I have quoted them, and if in any other things we hap­pen to agree, without remembring them, it is a fault of Memory, and I make this acknowledgement once for all.

[Page]Sir W. Temple, and Mr. Wot­ton, have turn'd their Pens the o­ther way, and have been so much taken up with describing the Beau­ties and Excellencies of Learning, as to have less occasion to discover its Faults; tho' it was scarce possible, whilst they cross'd one another's Opi­nion, either to commend Ancient Learning, without entring into the Defects of the Modern, or to prefer the Moderns, without censuring the Ancients; so that by consequence tho' not professedly, they have fal'n into this Controversie. I have, as far as possible, avoided saying any thing that has been observed by them already, (tho' perhaps this may be thought my fault, and I may thereby have said worse things of my own) and if in any other things I have contradict­ed them, I have done it in so tender a manner, as neither of them could blame, were they yet both Living. I have treated all Men with Decency [Page] and Respect, except Mons. Le Clerc, who has not deserv'd such Treatment. I have seen little of Monsieur Pe­rault, and a considerable part both of his and Mr. Wotton's Books, come not within my Account of Learn­ing; for I have nothing to say to Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, Gardening, Agriculture, &c. which I take to be more properly of Mecha­nical Consideration. But if Learned Men will needs include these likewise within the compass of Learning, it shall give me no disturbance: The Bounds of Learning are of late won­derfully enlarged, and for oug [...]t I know, Mr. H's Trade Papers may pass in time for a Volume of Learn­ing.

Not that there is any need of swel­ling the Account, for Learning is al­ready become so Voluminous, that it begins to sink under its own weight, Books crowd in daily and are heap'd upon Books, and by the Mul [...]itude of [Page] them, both distract our Minds, and discourage our Endeavors. Those that have been writ upon Aristotle, are almost innumerable; In a very few Centuries, from Albertus Mag­nus, till a short time after Luther, there have been Twelve Thousand Authors, that have either Commen­ted upon his Books, or follow'd him in his Opinions: This we have from good Authority, tho' the Author that reports and censures it, had surely forgot, that he himself has strengthen'd the Objection, by publishing a gross Volume, only to give an Account of Aristotle, his Writings, and Fol­lowers. V. Pr. Patric. Discus. Peripat. [...]. 10. p. 145. Bas. Fol. But however their Num­ber may be in the Old Philosophy, I believe we may reckon by a modest Computation, that since that time to ours, we may have had double the Number of Authors in the New; which tho' some may look upon as an Argument of Learned Times; for my [Page] part I have quite different Thoughts of Things, and must needs esteem it the great Mischief of the Age we live in, and cannot but think we should have more Learning, had we fewer Books.

I have notwithstanding adventur'd to throw in one to the Account, but it is a very small one, and writ with an honest design of lessening the Num­ber: I propose neither Credit nor Advantage, (for I hope to take ef­fectual care to be in the Dark) if I may do some little Service to Re­ligion, and no Disservice to Learn­ing, I have my End. I am encli­ned to hope, the Treatise may be of some use, as an Historical Account, in observing the Defects, and mark­ing the Faults that are to be avoid­ed by Beginners, and, possibly, it may afford some Hints to Wiser Men. As it is, I offer it to the Public, if it proves useful, I shall [Page] hav [...] much Satisfaction in my self, and if otherwise, I shall be very willing to be made a fresh Instance of that which I pretend to prove, The Weakness of Humane Un­derstanding.


  • Chap. 1. INtroduction P. 1
  • 2. Of Languages 7
  • 3. Of Grammar 19
  • 4. Of Rhetoric and Eloquence 32
  • 5. Of Logic 51
  • 6. Of Moral Philosophy 64
  • 7. Of Natural Philosophy 76
  • 8. Of Astronomy 87
  • 9, Of Metaphysics 99
  • 10. Of History 106
  • 11. Of Chronology 121
  • 12. Of Geography 135
  • 13. Of Civil Law 146
  • 14. Of Canon Law 160
  • 15. Of Physic 172
  • 16. Of Critical Learning 187
  • 17. Of Oriental Learning, Iew­ish and Arabian 204
  • 18. Of Scholiastic Learning 215
  • 19. The Conclusion 228
  • 20. The Appendix 239

Books Printed for A. Bosvile at the Dial against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet-street.

THe History of Portugal, from the first Ages of the World, to the late Revolution, under King Iohn IV. in the Year 1640. Written in Spanish by Emanul de Faria [...] Sousa, Translated and continued down to the Year 1698. By Captain Iohn Stevens. In 8vo.

Letters of the Cardinal Duke de Richlieu, great Minister of State to Lewis XIII. of France, wherein is contained several Secret Me­moirs and Instructions relating to our late Civil Wars in England, in particular, as well as to the Affairs of Europe in general. Never before Printed. Translated from the French by Mr. Thomas Brown.

The Memoirs of the Count de Roc [...]fort, containing an Account of what past most considerable under the Ministry of Cardinal Rich­lieu, and Cardinal Mazarine. Made English from the French. The second Edition.

The Life of Cornelius Van Tromp Lieutenant Admiral of Holland and West-Friesland, containing many remarkable Passages relating to the War between England and Holland.

The Christian Belief, wherein is Asserted and Proved, that as there is nothing in the Gospel contrary to Reason, yet there are some Do­ctrines in it above Reason; and these being necessarily enjoyn'd us to believe, are properly called Mysteries, in answer to a Book in­tituled, Christianity not Mysterious. The second Endition. Price 2 s.

The Ground and Foundation of Natural Religion, discovered in the Principal. Branches of it, in opposition to the prevailing Notions of the Modern Scepticks, and Latitudinarians. With an Introdu­ction concerning the necessity of reveal'd Religion. These two last by Tho. Beconsal, B. D. and Fellow of Brasen-Nose-College, Oxford.

A Discourse of Conscience, shewing what Conscience is, and what are its Arts and Offices, Publish'd [...]hiefly for the benefit of the unlearned, tho' it may also be usefull to others.



SInce I first begun to think, I have always had a mean opinion of two things, Humane Under­standing, and Humane Will; The weakness of the latter is a confessed thing; we all of us feel it, and most Men complain of it, but I have scarce yet met with any, that would own the weakness of his Understanding: And yet they both spring from the same corrupt Fountain; and the same cause, that has derived Contagion upon the Will, has spread Darkness upon the [Page 2] Understanding; and however Men may please themselves with an opinion of their own Wisdom, it is plain, the wisest Men know little, and they that are ful­lest of themselves and boast the highest, do usually see least, and are only wise for want of thinking.

We have had a mighty Controversie of late betwixt the Old and New Philoso­phers, and great inquiry has been made, whether the preference is to be given to the Ancient or Modern Learning; For my part I will not venture to en­gage in so warm a Controversie, but 'tis some argument to me, that we have not over much of the thing, otherwise we should know better where to find it, and if I would say any thing, I should be of opinion, that neither side has rea­son to boast. What the Wisdom of the Ancients was, is not so easily known at this distance, by those Specimens of it that are left us, it does not appear to have had any thing in it very extra­ordinary, or which might not be at­tained to by their Posterity without standing upon their Shoulders; Have not some dark and oracular expressions been esteemed enough to entitle a Man to the Reputation of Wisdom? And was [Page 3] not any odd and sometimes extravagant opinion, if subtilely maintained, suffici­ent to set a Man at the Head of a Party, and make him the Author of a Sect of Philosophers? The most Ancient Philo­sophy was usually wrapt up and involv'd in Symbols and Numbers, which as far as they can be explained, do not con­tain any thing very mysterious, but it was the interest of these Great Men to keep a distance and be always in the Clouds, that they might be thought pro­found and procure a veneration by th [...] obscurity of their Writings. They that have writ more plainly, have (at least some of them) been plain to an objecti­ [...]n, and have said little more, than what good Sence improv'd by Observation and Thought, would suggest to most Men without reading; To say nothing here of the vast variety of Opinions a­mongst them, which will fall in more properly in the thread of my Discourse; they did not agree in the first Criterions of Truth, which they have made as many and as different as could possibly be thought of and carried their diffe­rences so far, that it put the Scepticks pretty early upon doubting of every thing, and at last brought them to deny; [Page 4] that there was any such thing as Truth in the World.

The moderns have not yet gone so far, but they have made some advances, and seem by pretty easie consequences to be leading us towards it: For since Aristo­tle's Philosophy has been exploded in the Scholes, under whom we had more peace, and possibly almost as much Truth as we have had since, we have not been able to fix any where, but have been wavering from one Opinion to another. The Platonick Philosophy was first intro­duced with the Greek Learning, and wonderfully obtain'd for some time, a­mong the Men of Polite Letters; but however Divine it might seem at first and for that reason was entertain'd more favourably, it was found upon a short tryal to lead to Heresie, and so went off again under a Cloud. The moderns were now wise enough to set up for themselves, and were more pleas'd with their own inventions, than with the dry Systems of the Old Philosophers. Se­veral attempts were made unsuccessfully, nor had they set out long or done much, till they had run themselves into such a maze, That M. Des Cartes thought it necessary to sit down and doubt, whe­ther [Page 5] they were not all out of the way: His doubts increased upon him by doubt­ing, and he must have continu'd under them, had he not by a strange turn of Thought struck Evidence out of Uncer­tainty; for he found such strength and conviction in doubting, that he brings an Argument from it to prove a first Truth, The reality of his own Existence: He likewise borrowed great light from Ideas, which have been since improv'd, by comparing their agreement and disa­greement with one another, and with the Reality of things; and since that conformity has not been evident enough, we have been consulting the Divine [...] or Ideal World, to fetch thence more per­fect Ideas, and are at last come to see all things in God; A way, which could it be as easily made out, as it is asserted, I do not see, what we could desire further, for we shall hardly see more clearly in a state of Glory: But all these particulars we shall meet with, as we go along.

What has been said of Philosophy, is true in other sorts of Learning, and how­ever we may be puffed up with vain con­ceits, and may flatter our selves with discoveries of New Worlds of Learning, [Page 6] and fancy there is little bid from the profound Search and accurate Enquiries of so learned an Age, to me it seems we are yet much in the Dark, that many of our discoveries are purely imaginary, and that the state of Learning is so far from perfection, much more from being the Subject of Oftentation, That it ought to teach us Modesty and keep us Hum­ble. To this end, I propose to trace it in its several Branches; and were the management of my Argument an­swerable to the truth of it, I should not doubt of giving satisfaction to impartial Readers.

Of Languages.

LAnguages being the Chanels by which most of our Learning is convey'd, it is necessary to the attaining of Know­ledge, that these should be kept clear and open; if the Streams in these run muddy, or are corrupted, all the know­ledge that is convey'd by them, must be obscure: words at the best are no ve­ry certain signs of things, they are lia­ble to ambiguity, and under that am­biguity are often subject to very diffe­rent meanings; and tho' this, as far as it is the common condition of Speech must be submitted to, and is no objecti­on in plain Laws and easie Precepts, that are intelligible enough in any Lan­guage, yet in matters of Science, it is much otherwise; these are nice things; the strict meaning is to be observ'd in them; nor can we mistake a word without losing the Notion.

The first Language, the Hebrew, was very plain and simple, (a good Argu­ment [Page 8] of its being an original) consisting of few Roots, and those very simple and uncompounded: it seems fitted for the purposes, for which it was design'd, which was not so much to improve Men's knowledge, as to better their lives, and this end it did perfectly answer: Indeed the Ancient Tongues are generally the most uncompounded, and consequently more plain and easie; but then whilst things continue thus, as Languages were easie, so they were defective, and there­fore as from necessity Men were put up­on improving Speech; so particularly as Arts increased, Languages grew up with them, and Men were put upon coining new words to express the new Ideas they had of things. This has enlarged the Bounds of Language, and swoln it to such a height, that its Redundancy is now a greater Inconvenience, than the defectiveness of it was before.

The Inconveniences from Languages are chiefly two, First, Their variety, and Secondly, Their mutability. 1. Were there only one Language in the World, Learning would be a much easier thing, than it now is; Men might then imme­diately apply to things, whereas now a great part of our time is spent in Words, [Page 9] and that with so little advantage, that we often blunt the edge of our under­standing, by dealing with such rough and unpleasant tools: For however apt Men may be to over-value the Tongues, and to think they have made a considerable progress in Learning, when they have once overcome these, yet in reality there is no internal worth in them, and Men may understand a thousand Languages without being the wiser, unless they at­tend to the things, that they deliver: It is in order to this that they are to be learnt, and it is the hard condition of Learning, that in this respect, it can­not be without them; This labour must necessarily be devour'd in our way to Knowledge, and every Man must dig in this Mine, that hopes to be Master of the Treasure, it conceals; much dross is to be separated, and many difficulties to be overcome.

When I speak of the variety of Lan­guages, I do not mean that all of them are necessary, at least not to all sorts of Learning, were this our case, we could have few compleat Scholars; but tho' all of them be not necessary, yet some of them are allowed to be so, particularly such as are styl'd Learned; and there is [Page 10] such a connexion among most Tongues of the same kind, that it is hard to excell in any one, without some tolerable skill in the rest. This is pretty plain in the Greek and Latin, and the reason is clear in the Eastern Tongues, where the affinity is greater. Two of the Languages that in their different kinds pretend to most Lear­ning, (I do not here inquire, how truly) are the Arabic and Greek, and it happens not well, that these two are the most co­pious and difficult. They that have skill V. Walt. Proleg. 14 §. 6. in the first assure us, that it abounds in Synonymous Words, that it has five hun­dred words for a Lyon, and almost a thou­sand for a Sword, which are enough to make an intire Language, and almost as many as all the Radicals in the Hebrew Tongue. And as for the Greek, which is uncontestedly Learned, most know how copious it is, for tho' its Radicals are not so many as might be imagin'd, which some have computed not much to exceed three thousand,Wilk. R. Ch. cap. ult. yet this is abundant­ly made up in its Compositions, and how­ever simple it may be in its Roots, it spreads very widely in its Branches: If we add to this, its many different dialects, and all the various Inflections of Nouns and Verbs, which diversifie words, and distin­guish [Page 11] them from themselves, this will swell the account much higher, and make it almost an Infinite thing. So that what from the variety of Languages, and the Copia of those that are reputed Learned, one great obstruction lies in the way of Learning.

The other inconvenience is from their mutability, for whatever their number may be, yet were their nature fix'd and their condition stated, the measures that are taken from them might be more sted­dy; but when to the multitude of them, we add their mutability, we are still un­der greater difficulties. Words, like o­ther things, are subject to the common Fate of vicissitude and change; they are always in Flux, ebbing and flowing, and have scarce any fixed period: for being govern'd by Custom, which it self de­pends upon one of the most unconstant things in the World, the humour of the People, it is scarce possible it should be o­therwise: no Prince ever gave Laws to these, Caesar who gave Laws to Rome, could give none to its Language, and it was look'd upon as the height of flattery in that Sycophant, that offer'd to Com­plement him with such an extravagant Power; in this Custom is only absolute. [Page 12] We can scarce have a better instance of this, than in the Tongue we are now speak­ing of, the Latin; that Language that was spoke soon after the Foundation of Rome, was perfectly unintelligible in the Age of Augustus; nay, some hundred years after that period, and not 150, before Ci­cero's time, the Tongue that was then vul­gar, can hardly now be understood with­out a Comment. This is evident from the Inscription on the Columna Rostrata, that is yet in being, and a Copy of which has been given us by Bishop Walton Proleg. p. 5.. In Cicero's Age, that Tongue was in its full height, it had been growing up till then, ever after it was declining, and had only one short Stage of Perfection. They that came after were observ'd to write with some mixture, even Livy had his Patavi­nity, which is most probably understood of a tincture from his Country Education.

Successively on, they were more cor­rupt, Paterculus, Seneca, &c. still writ with a greater mixture, till at last either by mixing with Foreign Nations, in sending Colonies, or by the breaking in of Barba­rous People upon them, the Language sunk into decay and became utterly Barbarous.

The Greek Tongue had the same For­tune with the Latine, tho' it continu'd [Page 13] vulgar longer; for as Greece did assist the Romans in giving perfection to their Speech, (they having not begun to cul­tivate Arts, or polish their Language, till they had subdu'd Greece) so they receiv­ed a great tincture and corruption from their Conquerors, either first, when they became an accession to their Em­pire, as appears from those that writ in that Tongue after the reduction of Greece; or after, when the Empire was translated to Constantinople, and that City became new Rome, and the Seat of Em­pire. From that time, the Greek sunk apace, as must needs be expected, where the Latine was the Court Language, and made use of in their Laws and Courts of Judicature, and the Greek in a manner confin'd to the vulgar. In Iustinian's time, who was not very long after Con­stantine, it is plain, it was much corrupt­ed, as is evident, from the Acts of the Councils of these times, and the Accla­mations of the People and Clergy on such occasions, Instances whereof are given by Du Fresne, in his Learned Preface to his Greek Glossary §. 7.. As we descend lower the corruption is greater, as is shown by the same Learned Person: The reduction of Constantinople by the Franks was one [Page 14] other great blow, the last and fatal stroke was given by that Deluge of Barbarism, in the Inundation of the Turks, who bore down all before them. What the condi­tion of it now is, may be seen in Cru­si [...]s, Turco­grae. p. 99. 224, &c, whence will appear not only the present corrupt State of that Tongue, but also the Reasons from which it pro­ceeds, either from the mixture of the La­tin, the Turco-Arabic, and other foreign Tongues; or by dividing Words that should be conjoyn'd, or running two Words into one that should be divided, or by other faults in Orthography, that is now in great neglect among them. And what is most melancholy in the account, is, That even at Athens, that was once Renown'd for Learning and Eloquence, their Tongue is now more corrupt and barbarous, than in any other part of Greece; to that degree, as is there taken notice of, that it would draw tears from any one to observeib. p. 99. the miserable change. In all parts of Greece, their Speech is so far degenerated from its an­cient purity, that as a Learned Greek can­not throughly understand the modern vul­gar Tongue, much less is the Ancient Greek understood by the moderns.

[Page 15]Now under this great multiplicity, as well as change, what difficulties are we to struggle with, and what uncertainties are to be overcome? Our Words are so many, and so uncertain, that there is both great difficulty in becoming Masters of them, and after that in fixing and deter­mining their Sense: We are to trace them up to their first Originals, and afterwards to pursue them down to their last Decay, to mark their several times and periods, in all which they much vary, and are of­ten capable of different meanings, or their true meaning is very obscure. There is only one way of coming at their meaning, after they become dead Languages and cease to be vulgar, by the Books that have been writ in them; but besides the want we are in of some of these, and defects in those we have, tho' they might serve well enough for common ends and uses, yet the things we are now enquiring after, are matters of Science, which are abstruse things, and not so easie to be exprest in such proper terms, as are not liable to be mis-understood; Such particularly are Terms of Art, that must needs be obscure as being too comprehensive, and taking in more notions than one under the same Word: Which tho' of good use, as be­ing [Page 16] designed to make knowledge more compendious, yet have frequently turn'd the other way, by requiring large Com­ments, that have been often writ upon a single word, and perhaps after all, have left it more doubtful than it was before.

Dictionaries indeed have been called in to our assistance, which have been com­pil'd with much pains and in great plen­ty, not only for Words, but for Scien­ces and Arts, but besides the no great a­greement that is among them, they are swoln to such a height, and become so numerous, that those very Books that were design'd as helps, now breed con­fusion, and their Bulk and Number is be­come a Burthen. Such alone as have been compos'd for the French Tongue (which as yet is no Learned Language, tho' it bids pretty fair for it) would fill a Libra­ry, and only one of those, and that not the largest, has been the work of fourty Years, tho' it was carri'd on by the uni­ted labours of the French Academy; after all which care, it has not escap'd censure but has been thought to want Correcti­on; and does thereby show how impossi­ble it is to set Bounds, or give a Standard to Language, for which purpose it was design'd: Not only every Tongue, but [Page 17] every Faculty has met with this help, Di­ctionaries are become a great part of lear­ning, and nothing remains, but that as it has far'd with Bibliotheques, which were grown so numerous, thatV. Ant. Teisser. v. Ph. Lab. a Biblio­theca Bibliothecarum was thought a neces­sary work, so Dictionaries should have the like service done them; a Dictionari­um Dictionariorum, might be a work of some use, I am sure of great Bulk, and I wonder it has not been yet undertaken.

To redress and heal all these inconve­niencies, an universal Remedy has indeed been thought of, a Real Character and Philosophical Language, a work that has been pursu'd of late with great applicati­on, and with some expectations of success and advantage; But however plausible this may seem at a distance, it is to be fear'd, it is only so in Theory, and that upon Tryal, it will be found an impracti­cable thing. For this Language being design'd not to express words but things, we must first be agreed about the nature of things, before we can fix Marks and Characters to represent them, and I very much despair of such an agreement. To name only one, when Bishop Wilkins first undertook this design,Real. Char. Par. 2. v. 1. Substance and Accidents were a receiv'd Division, and [Page 18] accordingly in ranking things, and redu­cing them to Heads, (which is the great excellency of this Design) He proceeds according to the order they stand in, of Substance and Accidents, in the Scale of Praedicaments; but were he to begin now and would suit his design to the Philoso­phy in vogue, he must draw a new Scheme and instead of Accidents must take in Modes, which are very different from Accidents both in Nature and Number. Bishop Wilkins was an extraordinary Person, but very projecting, and I doubt this design may go along with his Daedalus and Ar­chimedes, and be ranked with his flying Chariot and voyage to the Moon. The Di­visions of Tongues was inflicted by God as a Curse upon humane Ambition, and may have been continu'd since for the same reason; and as no Remedy has been yet found, so it is most probable, it is not to be expected, nor are we to hope to unite that which God has divided. The Providence of God may have so order'd it for a check to Men's Pride, who are o­therwise apt to be building Babels, were there no difficulties to obstruct and exer­cise them in their way.

Of Grammar.

THO' Grammar be look'd upon by many as a trivial thing, and only the Employment of our Youth, yet the Greatest Men have not thought it be­neath their care; Plato and Aristotle a­mong the Greeks, and Caesar and Varro among the Latins have treated of this Subject. In our times the Common Grammar that goes under the name of Mr. Lily was done by some of the most considerable Men of the Age; The English Rudiments by Dr. Colet Dean of Paul's, with a Preface to the first E­ditions, directing its use by no less Man than Cardinal Wolsey; The most Ratio­nal part, the Syntax, was writ or corre­cted Op. Tom. 1. p. 141. by Erasmus, and the other parts by other hands: So that tho' Mr. Lily now bears the name, which while living, he always modestly refus'd, yet it was car­ri'd on by the joynt endeavours of se­veral [Page 20] Learned Men, and he perhaps had not the largest share in that work.

Were there more of Caesar and Varro extant, they might be of good use to us in our Enquiries, but all Caesar's Book on this Subject being lost, and only some parts of Varro left, we want two good Helps: Tho from those short Specimens we have of Caesar, we were not to expect too much from him; he has been quoted byL. 19. c. 8. A. Gellius with a doubtful Chara­cter, and twice or thriceL. 1. p. 69. 214. Ed. Putsch. by Chari [...]ius an Ancient Grammarian, and always to correct him, as he will seem to deserve to any one who will take the pains to consult the particular places: And as for Varro, his Books are chiefly about the Etymolo­gies of words, which are of no great use, being obscure and uncertain.

The following Grammarians are yet more defective, we have a large Colle­ction of them put out by Putschius, who (against the custom of most Editors, that seldom us'd to speak disparagingly of their Authors) ingenuously confesseth, that some of them were scarce worth an Edition. And most of them having been writ, either when Learning was low, or after Barbarism had begun to over­flow the Empire, it is no wonder, that [Page 21] they do not rise above their Level, or that while they lay down Rules in this Art, they scarce write in tolerable Latin: Priscian himself will be no exception to this, who notwithstanding his strictness in giving Rules and severity in censuring others, has much ado to preserve himself from Barbarism: Let any one read some of his first lines, he will need go no far­ther to make a judgment.

Some of our Modern Criticks have de­serv'd well of this Art, who as they have us'd more perspicuity, so they have writ with much greater Purity, than most of the Ancient Grammarians have done: Valla, Erasmus, and our Linacer have taken much pains and shown great Judgment in this matter; and yet after all, as if nothing had been done, ariseth Sanctius, and after him Schioppius, and Correct all that had gone before them. Cicero and Quinctilian were blind with these Men, who make such discoveries, as never had been thought of, by any of the Ancients; all Grammar before them was, Cloacina, polluted and full of mi­stakes; theirs only is the true way, which they pretend is highly Rational, containing few and easie Rules, and under these scarce any exceptions. Tho [Page 22] if this new method be examin'd, it will be found as fallacious, and they as fallible as other Men: Sanctius's great principle on which he goes, is, That Languages, and particularly the Latin, are not pure­ly arbitrary, or depending barely on use and custom, but that an Analogy has been observed, and a reason may be given of the Idioms of Tongues, and upon this he builds a Rational Grammar. This perhaps might hold in some measure in the Hebrew, as far as its words were impos'd upon just Reasons; but in the La­tin Tongue which he treats of, that was first form'd and afterwards grew up in confusion; and under a People, while they were yet Barbarous, we are not to expect such mighty Regularity. The Romans knew nothing of Grammar, till the times of Ennius, when that Tongue was pret­ty well grown, and consequently could have no great regard to it in forming their Language, and therefore for any one now, to pretend to fix the Analogy of words, or to reduce all under strict Rule, is to set bounds where they were never intended, and to find a Reason that was never meant. Had Grammar been as ancient as Languages, we might have proceeded in this manner, but it [Page 23] being invented only as a help, and not fram'd originally as an Immutable rule, we must suit it to our business as well as we can, but are not to expect, it should be uni­form and not liable to many exceptions.

To take a short view of some particu­lars, 1. As to Letters, we are not yet a­greed about their Original, which might be of use in fixing our Alphabets, for tho the Greek letters, and from them the Latin, seem deriv'd from the Phoenician and these again from the ancient Hebrew, as has been attempted to be shown, not only from History, but from the affini­ty of letters, by turning the Hebrew Characters towards the Right hand, ac­cording to our way of reading; yet there lies one great objection against this, That Cadmus who brought the Phoenician, letters among the Greeks, is only said to have brought sixteen, and therefore must have left some behind him, for the Phoe­nician or Hebrew Alphabet was always fixt, and of the same length as now, since we have had any writing, a stand­ing Evidence of which we have in se­veral Alphabetical Psalms and Chapters. Were this more certain, it would help to determine our Alphabets, both as to their Numbers and Powers, whereas [Page 24] now we are uncertain in both, and there are great disputes among the Criticks, as to some of the Elements, whether they be letters or no.

(2.) In the Etymological or Analogi­cal part, we labour under the same dif­ficulties; nor can it be otherwise, where Languages were so much the effect of chance, and were not fram'd by any set­tled or established Rules. When Varro writ his Book, De Lingua Latina, it is plain this Analogy was a disputable thing, he brings several objections against, as well as reasons for it, and his Instances are so many, and his objections so con­siderable that he must needs be allow­ed to have left it doubtful. In the same Age, when a question was put by Pom­pey to most of the Learned Men in Rome, V. A. Gell. l. 10. cap. 1. concerning the Analogy of a very common word, they could come to no resolution about it, tho' Cicero was one of the number, and so it was left un­determin'd. And if the thing were so much controverted among them, who had better opportunities of enquiry, as living nearer the Original, when many monuments of Antiquity were left, and the Latin yet a living Language, among them; it must needs be much more so [Page 25] to us, who live at this distance, and want many of their helps: Our greatest light must be borrowed from their Books, and we can be only more happy in the appli­cation. Accordingly we follow them pretty close, and are much more directed by the custom-of Ancient and Approved Authors, than by the reason of words that is perpetually varying. How many words are there agreeable enough with Analo­gy, and of Modern use among learned Men, which yet, because they are not us'd by the Ancients, are not only dislik'd, but are look'd upon by the Critics, as vitia Sermonis? Innumerable instances may be hadDe vit. Ser­mon. spar­sim. in Vossius: few Men would be a­fraid to use, Incertitudo, Ingratitudo, and other words of the like nature; there is nothing disagreeable in them, or dispro­portionable to Speech; and yet because they have not been us'd by the best Classic Authors, but have been seeming­ly avoided, when they came in their way, and either paraphras'd, or Greek words put in their room, they have been exploded by our Modern Criti [...]s. The Anomalisms in words have been so many, and the differences yet more a­mong those that have treated of them, that some have gone so far as to deny [Page 26] the thing it self, and to allow no Analogy either in the Greek or Latin Tongue.

3. Grammar has fared no better in the constructive part, whether we will be guided by Rules, or Authority of Best Authors; the number of Rules is become a Burthen, and the multitude of exceptions is yet more vexatious: If we will believe Schioppius, there are five hun­dred Rules in our Common Grammars, in the Syntax only of Nouns and Verbs and Participles, and scarce any of those without their exceptions, and so pro­portionably in the other parts of Syn­tax; all which must employ a great part of our time. Or if we will be directed by Authorities, the Critics have been so unmercifully severe, that we scarce know, which to follow: Cicero tho the most unexceptionable has not escap'd their censure, he has been pelted by them, and Valla and Erasmus have charg'd him with Soloecisms. Diutius commorans A­thenis —erat animus ad te scriber [...]; and Quum in animo haberem navigandi, Vid. Eras. Cice­ron. Dial. Op. Tom. 1. P. 823. v. Valla, L. 1. Cap. 25. are noted passages to this purpose. And indeed tho Cicero be look'd upon as a Standard of Language with us, yet he was not so to those of his own Age; [Page 27] Atticus L. 7. Ep. 3. in an Epistle to him, charg­eth him with false Latin, and being put upon a vindication, he defends himself by the authority of Terence; so that what­ever Cicero be to us, Terence was then the better Authority. Neither of them sure are unexceptionable, nor any other that we can meet with, tho we should carry our search through the whole Set.

4. Pronunciation has been the Sub­ject of great Debates, especially in the Greek Tongue, the pronunciation of which, has been more neglected: And tho at first view, it may seem a light thing, and hardly worth a Debate, yet the neglect of it, has been of very ill consequence to that Tongue. For while the Modern Greeks had little regard to the powers of their Letters, and mix'd and confounded the sounds of their Vowels and Diphthongs, and run most of them into one, in their pronunciation, they came at last in many words, to write as they spoke, which was one great oc­casion of the corruption of their Tongue. This vicious way of speaking was brought by the exil'd Greeks into Italy, and from thence together with Learning, spread over the greatest part of Europe, till it met with a check here in England, from [Page 28] two very Eminent Men, both of them successively Professors in the Vniversity of Cambridge, Sir Thomas Smith, and Sir Iohn Cheek. And because the Contro­versie is not much known, and may af­ford some light to the pronunciation of the Greek, I will give a brief account of this Grammatical War.

It was in the latter end of Hen. VIII's Reign, that Smith and Cheek began to ob­serve the inconveniences in this sort of pronunciation; they saw that not only the Beauty of the Language was lost in this way, but likewise its very Spirit and Life were gone, by the loss of so many Vow­els and Diphthongs, and the Language become jejune and languid: In this way of speaking it, nothing of numerosity appear'd in the Ancient Orators and Rhetoricians, nor those flowing Periods, for which they had been renown'd in Old Greece; neither could they them­selves shew their Eloquence, in their Orations or Lectures, for want of the Beauty and variety of sounds. This put them upon thinking of a Reformation, V. Chek De ling. Gr. pro­nunt. Dis­put. cum Steph. Wint. spars. v. Smith De pro­nun. Ling. Gr. and having consulted most of the Ancient Rhetoricians, and other Greek Authors, who had treated of Sounds and finding sufficient grounds from [Page 29] thence for an alteration, with the con­sent of most of the learned Linguists in the University, they set about the work, with some little▪ opposition at first, but afterwards with success, and almost ge­neral approbation. Cromwel was then Chancellor of the University, under whom Reformations were not so dange­rous, but Gardiner succeeding, who dis­lik'd all Innovations, a stop was put for some time; This Man assum'd a power, that Caesar never exercis'd, of giving Law to Words, and having writ to Cheek then Greek Professor to desist from this new method, which in reality was the Ancient and true way, and not meet­ing with a suitable compliance, he sends out an Order in his own name and the Senate's, which being too long to insert at large, I shall only mention two or three Heads of it, as being somewhat extra­ordinary.

Quisquis nostram potestatem agnoscis, so­nos literis sive Graecis sive Latinis ab usu publico praesentis seculi alienos, privato ju­dicio affingere ne audeto.

Diphthongos Graecas nedum Latinas, nisi id diaeresis exigat, sonis ne diducito— [Page 30] [...], sono ne distinguito, tan­tum in Orthographia discrimen servato [...], uno eodemque sono exprimito—

Ne multa. In sonis omnino ne philoso­phator, sed utitor praesentibus—

After such a publick Declaration, there was no farther room for private judg­ment, an obedience was paid, and Gar­diner's way prevail'd, till a Reforma­tion in Religion, made way for a Refor­mation in Language, that has obtain'd ever since. However, the Controversie was then manag'd with much warmth and Learning; Gardiner insisted princi­pally upon Custom, and the Authority of the present Greeks: on the other side they pleaded Antiquity, and that drawn down from the most Ancient Authors; several of the Greek Rhetoricians were brought into the Controversie, and o­ther Authors that had dropt any expres­sion that look'd that way, and a Man would wonder to see so much Learning shewn on so dry a Subject. Where the victory lay is pretty visible, and so great a ManGlos. Gr. Praef. [...]. 12. as Du Fresne could not have been at a loss, how to determine the matter, had he not been possessed with partiality for a Party, which he [Page 31] shows too plainly, by blaming Bishop Godwin (though very unjustly) for leaving Gardiner out of his Catalogue of Bishops.

But I have run out too far in Gram­matical niceties, whoever desires more on this Subject, may meet with enough in Bishop Wilkins R. Char. L. 1. Ch. 4. &c. and I have prin­cipally insisted on such particulars as have been neglected or over-look'd by him.

Of Rhetorick and Eloquence.

AS Grammar teacheth us to speak properly, so it is the part of Rhe­toric to instruct, how to do it elegantly, by adding Beauty to that Language, that before was naked and Grammati­cally true. If we would be nice in di­stinguishing, there is a difference be­twixt Rhetoric and Eloquence, tho we treat of them under the same Head; the one lays down Rules, the other pra­ctices them, and a Man may be a very good Rhetorician, and yet at the same time a mean Orator: Perhaps Quinctilian gives as good Rules as Cicero, I am sure in better method, and with greater closeness; whereas the other is so much an Orator, that he cannot forget it, whilst he acts the part of a Rhetorici­an, he dilates and flourishes, and gives Example instead of Rule: And yet a Man that would form a comparison betwixt [Page 33] Quinctilian's Declamations, (if yet they be Quinctilian's) and the Orations of Tully, would be in great danger of forfeiting his discretion.

The Ancient Romans had Orators a­mong them and some Eloquence, Instan­ces whereof we have in their History al­most as high as the Tarquins; but it was then a chast thing without Paint or Dress, Rhetorick was not yet known among them, the name of it was not so much as heard of some hundred years after, they wanting a word to express it by, which they were afterwards forc'd to borrow from the GreeksQuintil. l. 2. cap. 14.. As soon as it came a­mong them, we trace it in its effects, for as among the Grecians, whence it was borrow'd, it had occasion'd Tumults and Concussions of State, especially at Athens where it prevail'd most, only Lacedaemon was more quiet, from whence it was ba­nish'd, and where a plain Laconic Style was in vogue, so at Rome when once it had got any footing, and the Gracchi, the Bruti and other Demagogues begun to harangue the People, there was no more Peace in that State, nothing but continual Broils and intestine Commotions, till they had fought themselves out of that liberty which they seem'd to contend for, and [Page 34] their heats ended in the ruine of their Commonwealth. The Roman Orator had seen so much of this in his time, before things were brought to the last extremity, that he begins his Book ofDe in­vent. Rhet. [...]. 1. Rhetoric with a doubt, whether that art had brought greater advantage or de­triment to the Common-wealth? And if an Orator where he is treating of Elo­quence, were so doubtful in the matter, we need not be at a loss on which side to determine the Case.

To pass by consequences, that are not justly chargeable on things, which are generally good or otherwise, according as the persons are that use them, we will consider the art it self. If it be an advantage to any Art, to have been treated of by Men that are skilful in it, this Art should have received greater improvements and be nearer perfection, than most others, having been conside­red by one of the greatest Masters that ever was. Cicero has compos'd pretty large Treatises upon this Subject, that have been preserv'd and deliver'd down to us; particularly twoDe O­ratore, Ora­tor sive Brutus., in the for­mer of which, as he treats of the seve­ral kinds, and lays down such Rules, as are necessary to be observ'd in our way [Page 35] to Eloquence; so in the latter he deli­neates and gives us the Portraiture of a perfect Orator. I will not pretend to judge of so great a Master; thus much may be said with modesty enough, that as in the first Treatise, the Persons in the Dialogue differ from one another; so in the latter the Orator seems to differ from himself; the first he is doubtful, in the latter im­practicable: In his Dialogue, (which has so much the face of probability, that some among the Learned have mistaken it for a real Conference). The Persons introduc'd are equally Great, and argue and discourse with equal Learning, and he having assign'd no part to himself, con­sistently with his doubtfulness in this matter, a Man may sometimes be at a loss, which side to close with. And his Ora­tor is too great and inimitable an example, perfectly imaginary, and consequently of no use in humane life, for which Elo­quence is design'd. He himself gives him only an Ideal Being, and owns that he is no where to be found but in the concep­tions of our mind.

And indeed we must not expect to find him any where else, if all those things be necessary to an Orator, that he seems to require. For first, Nature [Page 36] and Genius are indispensibly necessary, without which the wheels being clog'd and under force, will drive heavily; our Orator must have a flowing invention to furnish him with Ideas, a strong imagi­nation to impress them, a happy memory to retain, and a true judgment to dispose them in their due rank and order. He must have Law, to lead him into the knowledge of the Constitution and Cu­stoms of his Country, History to acquaint him with examples, Logic to supply him with proper Topics, and morality to ena­ble him to penetrate into, and apply to the Manners and Passions of Men, the [...] and [...], which are the Springs of Action, and sources of Perswasion: In short, being to treat of every thing, he must be ignorant of nothing. He must be in Cicero's Language, a Wiseman, that is a Man of universal knowledge, and what is more a Paradox, he must likewise be a Good Man; a Quality that so rarely accompanyed Heathen Elo­quence, that both Cicero and Quinctilian are much at a plunge in asserting it to the Greek and Roman Orators. He must not only have a general knowledge of things, but must have skill in adorning them, he must have the greatest Art, and yet at the [Page 37] same time the skill to conceal it, for when ever Art appears, it loseth its effect, and nothing can please, much less perswade, but what is natural. The most external things are necessary to his accomplishment, he must not only have Eloquence in his words, but likewise in his looks, decent motions, and an air of perswasion, that graceful action and pronunciation, which Demosthenes made the first and second and third thing, and which had so great a share in his own Composures, that we are not to wonder, that his Orations please less in the reading, than they did in the delive­rance, as wanting three parts of what they had when they were spoke.

These being the qualifications that are necessary to a compleat and perfect Orator, it is next to impossible, there should ever be any such Man. If any such were, in whom all these conditi­ons met, it must have been he who re­quires them, I mean Cicero, who had the happiest Genius, and that cultivated with the greatest Art and Industry, that perhaps ever Man had; he whom Quin­ctilian [...]. 10. cap. 1. opposeth to all the Grecian Orators, to whom he gives the Force of Demosthenes, the sweetness of Isocrates, [Page 38] and the Copia of Plato; he whom he stiles the name not of a Man, but of Eloquence it self, and gives it as a Rule, by which a Man may judge of his own Proficiency in Eloquence, if Cicero begins to please him: yet this Cicero was so far from pleasing in his own Age, that as he met with Detractors among his Enemies, one of which compos'd a TreatiseLargi­us Licinius ap Gell. l. 1. 17. cap. against him, under a very disparaging title, so he did not satisfie Brutus among his Friends, who taxeth him with loose­ness in his composures, and charges him with want of Nerves and Strength. And Quinctilian L. 12. cap. 1. where he comes to explain himself tells us, that he stiles Cicero a Compleat Orator only in the vul­gar meaning of the word, for in the strict sense, he was yet to seek, and does not only desire perfection in him, but acquaints us with the faults he was charged with L. 12. cap. 10. to wit, that he was turgid and swel­ling in his Expressions, too frequent in repetitions, broken in his Composition, and not only easie in his Stile, but soft. In the last Age, and when Learning be­gun to revive, and Cicero was study'd almost to the neglect of our Bibles, yet one of our Great Critics in the Latine Tongue, could never be reconcil'd to a [Page 39] Ciceronian Stile, nor could hear him read Certe Linacer—Ciceronis dictionem nunquam probare potuit nec sine fastidio audire. V. Gard. Epist. ad Chek. p. 176. without weariness and somewhat of loathing.

It is not yet agreed among the learn­ed, which of his Composures are the most Elegant, otherwise it were easier to know where to make our Refle­ctions. Sir William Temple brings his Oration for Labienus, P. 313. (whom by an errour very pardonable among so ma­ny excellencies he mistakes for Ligarius) as an Instance of the power of humane Eloquence. It must be confest this is a remarkable instance; here was the Greatest Orator and the Greatest Judge, (for Caesar is allowed by Cicero to be one of the most Eloquent Persons of his time) Caesar comes into the place of Judicature, breathing revenge against Ligarius, and with an obstinate resolution to condemn him, but with difficulty is prevail'd with to hear Cicero in his Defence, which he gives way to, rather as a thing of meer form, than with any thoughts of yield­ing to his perswasion: However, no sooner is he heard, but he moves and affects, and when he comes to touch [Page 40] upon Pharsalia, the Conqueror has no more Soul left, he takes fire and is tran­sported beyond himself, he shakes and trembles, and drops the Paper that he held in his hand, and in spite of all his resolutions, absolves the Criminal, whom he was determin'd to condemn. And now I think I have allow'd enough to Eloquence; but to deal impartially, the force of it is so great, and the effect of it so wonderful in this Instance, that it would raise a Mans curiosity to en­quire into the Cause. Had this Orati­on been lost, we should have had most terrible Out-cries, and lamentable Com­plaints among the Learned, of the loss that the world has sustain'd in so con­summate a piece. Lo it is yet extant! and altho this, as every thing of Cicero's, be excellent in its kind, yet so much will be granted, that it may be read without rapture and amazement.

But granting as much force to Elo­quence as can be desir'd, how is it, it it does perswade, in this and other in­stances? I am sure not from rational ar­guments, which ought to be the proper means of convincing a reasonable Man, but from quite different motives and Topics of perswasion: Caesar's deliberate, [Page 41] and perhaps most reasonable resolution, was, not to pardon so great a Criminal, an implacable wretch, that had afterwards a hand in the Blood of his Deliverer. The Orator does not so much seek to con­vince him of the unreasonableness of the thing, as endeavour to prevail with him from other inducements, he ap­plies to his passions instead of his Rea­son, his weak and blind side, by putting him in mind of the Pharsalian Field, of his glory in subduing, and the greater honours he had acquir'd by pardoning; he stiles him Father, tho at the same time he thought him an Usurper, and bids him remember it was his People that beg'd Ligarius of him, and that he could not do a more popular thing, than by yielding to their requests and giving way to his usual Clemency. Such are the Topics that are brought from Rhetoric! The truth of it is, our common Eloquence is usually a cheat upon the Understanding, it deceives us with appearances, instead of things, and makes us think we see reason, whilst it is tickling our sense: Its strongest proofs, do often consist in an artificial turn of words, and beautiful expressions, which if unravel'd, its strength is gone and the reason is destroyed.

[Page 42]There are few that read Seneca, that do not imagine, he writes with great force and strength, his thoughts are lofty, almost every line in him is a Sen­tence, and every Sentence does seem a Reason, and yet it has been well ob­serv'd, by a Master in the Art of think­ing Male­branch. Recherch. Par. 3. l. 2. ch. 4., who has taken some pains in unravelling some of his loftiest expres­sions, that there is little more in him at the bottom, than a Pomp of Words. And the same observation is made there, upon two other Authors, the one of whom is not so proper to be mentioned, the other is not worth the mention: All of them are known, and are as much quoted, and will go as far in popular discourses as Authors of closer thought.

It is not enough to say, that this is the fault of these Authors and not of Eloquence, for its end being to perswade, and the persons whom we are to deal with, being usually the People, who as they are the most, are not generally the wisest, if we would perswade them, we must suit our selves to their capa­cities, otherwise we must be content to lose our end. An apposite Similitude is argument with them, and a quaint [Page 43] saying will go farther than a substantial Reason, for being guided by Imagina­tion, they are most affected with sensi­ble resemblances, and not having capa­city to penetrate into things, that which is easiest and lies uppermost perswades them most: So that unless we could make them wise, they will be easie and credulous, and will be lead by appea­rances instead of Truth. And this is one reason, why Eloquence could never flourish, at least not arrive to any con­siderable height, unless it were among a people, that had understandings above the ordinary size, such as the Athenians once were, and afterwards the Romans: And for the same reason it is, that the wisest Men are not always the best O­rators, either at the Bar or in the Chair, for they are too much above the People's level, their Artillery shoots over, and it is no wonder if they miss their aim. And if it be yet said, there is notwith­standing such a thing as true Eloquence, that will always have its force with Wisemen; I grant there is, but besides that this is to restrain it to a very narrow compass, Wise Men will be most guid­ed by wise considerations, such as are grounded upon close Argument and Ra­tional [Page 44] Conclusions, which are more pro­perly the business of Logic than of Rhetoric and Eloquence.

Having gone thus far in my reflections, principally with regard to the Ancient O­rators, it is almost needless to examine the Moderns; some of their Patrons in other sorts of Learning, have given up the com­parison in this; so that if the Ancients are found to be wanting in perfection, we are not to expect to find it in the Moderns. However a Word or two of them. The French have shown most care in this par­ticular, among whom an Academy has been erected for the refining their Lan­guage; the Members whereof have spent whole days in examining the propriety of a word, and have been no less accurate in studying the Beauties and Ornaments of Speech and Numerosity of their pe­riods: But I doubt the observation is true, that whilst they have been so scrupulously nice, they have run into the fault of over much accuracy, and by adding Beauty to their Language have broken its strength; by spining and refining it, and giving it too much paint and flourish, much of its masculine strength is lost, and I have sometimes thought, that it boded not well to that [Page 45] Society, that their first Prize of Eloquence was given to a WomanMad. de Scudery.. It is certain­ly a fault in Oratory to be too curious in the choice of words, a bold Period, tho' a­gainst Rule will please more, than to be al­ways in phrase, and a decent negligence is often a Beauty in expression, as well as Dress; whereas by being over correct or always flourishing, our Periods become either too luscious or too stiff. And yet tho' some Members of the French Academy have pretty freely censur'd this fault, and have deservedly laugh'd at some Gentle­men, that did not only mispend their time in studi'd Periods, but in avoiding rough and unsounding words, it is plain some of their own Brethren have run into the same fault, and have been curious and affected in their Style, almost to a de­gree of superstition. For what can be said less of him who compos'dM. de Gomber­ville v. Hist. Acad. Franc. p. 50. a large Book in five Volumes, in all which he declin'd making use of a common and almost unavoidable wordCar., only be­cause it did not please him? or did M. Vaugelas employ his time better, who having undertaken the Translation of Quintus Curtius, no very great perfor­mance, spent thirty years in translating his Author, and yet left it an unfinish'd [Page 46] work? In which work it is very remark­able, that having left five or six different Translations in the Margin of his Book, that which stood first was generally approv'd of as the bestib. p. 213. as containing his first and natural thoughts, whereas the others were probably more forc'd and strain'd.

But Mr. Pelisson in his History of the Academy, has given us a Panegyrick upon the French King, which I suppose is design'd as a Specimen of French Elo­quence, and being there in five diffe­rent Languages, every Man may read it in a known Tongue, and be able in some measure to judge, to what degree of perfection Oratory has arriv'd among our Neighbours: Tho' the truth of it is, the English Translation is wretchedly mangl'd, and so different from the Au­thors sense, that it ceases to be his. However take it in the Original, I believe it will not be pretended, that he has painted out his Hero, in such charming colours, as either Pliny has done his Trajan; or Cicero, Pompey in one of his OrationsPro lege Mani­lia. Pro Marcel. & Ligar., or Caesar in another. The Academies Rhetoric is yet wanting, which they have given us an expecta­tion of, both in the same History and in the Preface to their Dictionary. But [Page 47] that work having cost them forty years, and a Grammar being in order their next undertaking, if that likewise should em­ploy them a proportionable time, their Rules of Eloquence seem reserv'd for Po­sterity and not for us.

The English as they have not taken the same pains nor pursu'd the design with e­qual Industry with their Neighbours, by erecting Societies for the improvement of Oratory; so whatever their performan­ces have been, they have been more mo­dest in their pretensions: For tho' the French have compos'd large volumes upon this Subject, with much Ostentation, yet I scarce know of any, that have been pub­lish'd by the English, whether it be that there Genius inclines them to strength ra­ther than beauty, or that trusting to their native Force they despise the fineness of Art. They have indeed been charg'd by their NeighboursV. com. ap. Iourn. Des Scav. An. 65. p. 100. with a sort of Elo­quence that is not very charming, in be­ginning their discourses generally with some Prophecy or surprising Story, which if it were true, is not perhaps so much to be attributed to their want of skill, as to their compliance with the humour of a People, that attend too much to Prophecies, and are too much affected [Page 48] with stories: But however, it were 200 years ago, when the observation was first made, it is otherwise now, when Oratory after the many changes, it has undergone, has put on a quite different Face: tho' even from those fre­quent alterations, its instability is too re­markable, and would tempt a Man to think, that in some measure it depends upon humour, and has not so unmovea­ble a Foundation as might be wish'd.

For to look back, a very little, in those dark [...] times, it is not impossible, that Eloquence was much about that pitch, the observation would have it, in a blind age, when Legends were in fashion, and the People were kept in Ignorance and led by Wonder; a Re­formation in Religion brought with it an advancement in Learning, and as E­legancy begun then to be restor'd to the Latine Tongue, so in Queen Elizabeth's Reign, the Writers of that age, seem to have affected a Ciceronian style in Eng­lish, both in the length of their peri­ods, and often by throwing the verb to the end of the Sentence: The succeed­ing Reign degenerated rather than im­prov'd, when the generality run into an affected way of writing and nothing [Page 49] would please, without a fantastick Dress and jingle of Words. And tho in the following Reign, this way of writing was much laid aside yet even then they larded their Discourses so thick with Sentences of Greek and Latin, that as things now are, it would be a hard mat­ter to excuse them from Pedantry. What sort of Oratory obtain'd in the late times of Confusion, is well known, especial­ly in the Pulpit: As if the observati­on of our Neighbours had been calcu­lated for them, little Similitudes and odd Examples, and a worse sort of Cant, was the Eloquence of these times, which notwithstanding charm'd the People to that degree, that it hurry'd them besides themselves, and almost out of their Wits. And tho Oratory may be thought to be now at its full height, and we may flatter our selves, that nothing can be added to the Strength and Solidity of those Discourses, that are published among us almost every day, upon every Subject; yet I will not undertake but that somewhat may be produc'd in the next Age, so much more perfect, at least more pleasing, than any thing we yet have, that the present Eloquence shall be lookt upon by [Page 50] our Posterity with the same neglect, with which we now treat the performances of our Fore-fathers. No doubt, what they writ, pleas'd their own age, as much as our most boasted Pieces please now, and we ought not to be too confident in our own performances, with dis-regard to o­ther ages; unless we will make our selves the Standard of Eloquence, and not give other Men leave to judge of us, as we have done of those before us.

I know no reason, why it may not vary according to times as well as places, which in the latter case it so evidently does, That, that which is lookt upon as Elegant in one Nation, would be laught at by another People. The Eastern Na­tions are so different from us in their stile, that could our most Elegant Composures be understood by them, they would be thought flat and insipid, they being so accustomed to Sublime and Lofty Expres­sions, that nothing will affect them, but what is fetch'd from the Sun and Moon and Stars. And nearer home, where the difference ought not to be so considerable, the French and Italians, who have taken such pains, and spent so much time in polishing their Style, yet charge one another with imperfections in their [Page 51] way of writing, and both of them differ from the English. Every Nation can dis­cover faults in their Neighbours, and do not consider that their Neighbours see the like faults to blame in them.


LOgic in the Modern phrase is the Art of thinking, and being designed for a help or Instrument of Reason, its very nature implies weakness in the un­derstanding; and therefore we ought not to value our selves too much upon our a­bility, in giving subtle Rules and find­ing out Logical Arguments, since it would be more perfection not to want them. God Almighty who sees all things intui­tively does not want these helps, he nei­ther stands in need of Logic, nor uses it; but we whose understandings are short, are forc'd to collect one thing from ano­ther, and in that process we seek out pro­per Mediums, and call in all other helps that may be subservient to Reason.

[Page 52]There was little considerable done in this matter before Aristotle, (for the Elea­tic Logic was only an Art of Wrangling, as the Academic, was of doubting) He was the great advancer of this Art, inso­much that ever since his time, the main grounds of reasoning have been borrow'd from him, even by those that have de­spis'd him. But as nothing can be begun and perfected together, so his Logic has been charg'd with several defects; for whereas all Logic is properly reduceable to the four principal operations of the Mind, the two first of these, have been handled by Aristotle very perfunctorily, to say no worse, and of the fourth he has said nothing at all: Most of his time has been spent upon the third operation, of which he has treated so largely, that his Logic is in effect, an Art of Syllogizing. In this he glories as his own invention, and has been so much valu'd upon it by some, that it has been stil'd by a mo­dern Author,Rapin. Reflex sur­la log. p. 375. the greatest effort of humane Wit. But tho the Invention be confessedly extraordinary, to reduce our vague thoughts and loose reasonings, that are almost infinite to certain Rules, and make them conclude in Mode and Fi­gure; yet whosoever considers the nature [Page 53] of a Syllogism, in how many things it may be false in the Matter and peccant in Form, That not only the Terms and Pro­positions must answer to one another, but must be adapted to the notions of things, and that these two are hard to be connected; whilst every little slip in a Proposition or Ambiguity in a word can spoil the Syllogism, will have a less opi­nion of its conclusiveness and will find it a hard thing, to bind any Syllogism so close upon the mind, as not to be evaded under some plausible distinction.

Another ModernBacon. Nov. Or­gan. p. 50, 132. I am sure had this opinion of the matter, for which reason he thought it necessary to seek out another sort of Logic.

I only hint at the principal operations of the Mind, for if I should descend to less particulars, there are few things in Ari­stotle, that have not been excepted against by Modern Authors; some of whom have gone so far as to question the genu­ineness of his Books, because forsooth, they cannot discover in them that Flumen Orationis, that Cicero speaks of. But tho there can be no sufficient ground to think them spurious, notwithstanding better ar­guments have been brought to that pur­pose by an Eminent Philosopher of these [Page 54] later agesPic. Mirand. Tom. 2. p. 668, &c., yet we have too much rea­son to believe they were much corrupted, from Strabo'sV. lib. 13. account of their having been mutilated and consumed with moi­sture, by being buried so long under ground in Greece after Aristotle's death; and after they were brought to Rome, by having been again mangled by ignorant Transcribers: So that it is hard to know, how much we have of Aristotle.

The Logic in use among the Romans was rather a sort of Rhetoric than Logic, in which sense it is generally to be under­stood, where we meet with mention of it among them: It was first borrowed from the Stoics, who were in vogue at Rome, before Aristotle was much known there; and their Logic having been rather Spe­cious than Solid, as consisting much in pomp of words, and in giving plausible colours to improbable things, was best fitted to that People, who were little far­ther concerned for that Art, than as it was of use in point of Eloquence. And tho Cicero takes in Aristotle, especially in the Topical part, that has most affinity with Rhetoric, yet it is plain, he has like­wise followed the Stoics, tho it was not reputable enough to be own'd. What the Romans have done upon this Sbuject [Page 55] is not worth much notice, having had little occasion to make use of this Art, and what they have of it to purpose being bor­rowed from Aristotle; the active Life was their business, and disputing never seems to have been much in fashion with them.

However when Cicero begun to revive in these later Ages, this sort of Logic was again attempted; the Men of nice Palates could not relish Aristotle, as he was drest up by the Scholemen, and were so madly struck with Cicero, that they thought all sort of Learning was to be borrow'd from his Stores! Cicero is drawn in be­yond his Province, and his Topics ransack­ed to frame a Logic: But tho these Men were extraordinary Persons, yet nothing shows more plainly, how necessary it is for Men to keep within their proper bounds; For when they come to treat of this matter, it is so [...]oreign and unweildy in their hands, that they make very or­dinary work: They bring indeed some plausible objections against Aristotle, and so far they are within their proper Sphere, but when they should lay down some­what new of their own, they either offer nothing, or what they do, is so unsuccess­fully, as only to show that they are out of their Element, and that Logic is no [...]e of [Page 56] their Talent. I speak this of the first Reformers of Learning, for tho Ramus run in with them, in his opposition to Aristotle, yet he has out-done them in this, that he himself has given us a plausible Systeme; (For I cannot look upon Val­la's performance to be so much) which tho it was much Read and Commen­ted on, upon its first appearing in the World, yet seems now to be dis-regard­ed, and in the next Age may probably be forgot.

My Lord Bacon saw clearer into the defects of this Art, than most Men did, and being neither satisfied with the vulgar Logic, nor with its Reforma­tions that were made, suitably to his vast and enterprizing Genius, attempted a Logic wholly new, the Plan of which is laid down in his Novum Organum. The way of Syllogizing seem'd to him very fallacious and too dependent upon words, to be much reli'd on, his search was after things, and therefore he brought in a new way of arguing from Induction, and that grounded upon Ob­servation and Experiments: Tho this Plan as laid down by him, looks liker an Vniversal Art, than a distinct Logic, and the design is too great and the In­duction [Page 57] too large to be made by one Man, or any Society of Men in one Age, if at all practicable: For whate­ver opinion he might have of the con­clusiveness of this way, one cross cir­cumstance in an Experiment, would as easily overthrow his Induction, as an ambiguous word would disorder a Syl­logism, and a Man needs only make tryal, in any part of natural History, as left us by my Lord Bacon, to see, how conclusive his Induction was like to have been. To say nothing, that not­withstanding his blaming the Common Logics, as being too much spent in words, himself runs into the fault, that he condemns; for what else can we make of his Idola Tribûs, Idola Specûs, Fori, The­atri; or of his Instantiae Solitariae, migran­tes, Ostensivae, Clandestinae, Constitutiv [...], &c. but fine words put to express very com­mon and ordinary things?

After the way of free thinking had been laid open by my Lord Bacon, it was soon after greedily follow'd, for the Understanding affects Freedom as well as the Will, and Men will pursue liber­ty, tho' it ends in Confusion. The Car­tesians have been observ'd to be no friends to Logic, their Master has left no­thing [Page 58] extant upon that Subject, except some scatter'd expressions; unless a Trea­tise of method must be interpreted a Lo­gic, which notwithstanding is more pro­perly metaphysical. One of his first Prin­ciples of Reasoning, after he had doubted of every thing, seems to be too circular to be safely built upon, for he is for proving the Being of a God from the truth of our Faculties, and the truth of our Faculties from the Being of a God; he had better have suppos'd our Faculties to be true, for they being the Instruments that we make use of in all our proofs and deductions, un­less we suppose them to be true, we are at a stand, and can go no farther in our proofs: So that the way of supposing seems to be more rational than that of doubting.

The notion of perceiving things by Ideas is of a piece with this, which how­ever plausible it might seem when first started, after it came to be examin'd Men's Ideas about the same objects hap­pened to be so vastly different, and that in things that were the most clearly and distinctly perceiv'd, that it was a great prejudice against this opinion. There are few of the first started Ideas, that have not been examin'd, and many of them effectually confuted, by the late [Page 59] Improvers of this way, and other Ideas substituted in their room, which have giv­en no more satisfaction to others, than the first did to them: and till we can agree a­bout some Rule or Standard, by which to measure and adjust our Ideas, it is only a loose way of thinking, and there can be no end of Controversie this way: Altho' there be little hopes of this, whilst we have reason to believe, that nothing pleaseth more in this way, than the liberty it gives, or which every Man takes of framing new and fine Ideas. I am no enemy to free thinking, yet I must al­ways wish, we might proceed by some Rule, (for a Rule is no Bar but a per­fection of freedom) otherwise I am sure, there is no agreement to be expected, and it is to be feared we shall end in Con­fusion. Clear and distinct perception has been given us for a Rule, and the conformity of our Ideas with the Rea­lity of things has been given as ano­ther; but it is no good proof of either, that Men have differ'd much in some of those things, that have been suppo­sed to be the most clearly perceiv'd, and most agreeably to the nature of things. The great difficulty is, in dis­covering that Conformity, or in clear­ing [Page 60] and distinguishing our thoughts; for every Man's Ideas are clear to him­self.

It would be lookt upon as an omissi­on to pass by the Art of thinking suppo­sed to be writ by M. Arnault L' Art de pens. Par. 68.. The best part of it must be own'd to be borrow­ed from Aristotle, only be cloathing old Terms, under new Ideas, which shows that it is not so easie to frame a new Logic as a new Philosophy, and gives a ground of suspicion, that this Philosophy is not at perfect amity with reason, otherwise they might more easily be adapted to one another. One thing upon which this Author values himself is, his substituting useful In­stances, in the place of those trivial common ones formerly in use with the old Logicians, which he makes an ob­jection to the old way: But can it be an objection to any thing, that it is suited to the end, for which it was de­sign'd? the use of Instances is to illustrate and explain a difficulty, and this end is best answered by such Instances as are fa­miliar and common: whereas the Instan­ces which this Man brings, are usually taken from other Sciences, and suppose Men to be wise already, contrary to [Page 61] the intention of Logic, which is only an introduction to other Sciences, and being fitted for Beginners, supposeth our knowledge to be yet weak, and is design'd for an Instrument to help us forward. And yet there is a worse ob­jection against his Instances, that ma­ny of them being borrow'd from an un­sound and corrupt Divinity, they can hardly be read by Beginners without danger of being corrupted: For such false Opinions are never more conta­gious, than when they are held forth to us under such plausible appearances, nor are their impressions ever like to be more lasting, than when they are suckt in with the principles of Reason. I will not say, that these opinions are sown there on purpose, that they might grow up with our Reason, but where so much Divinity is mixt with our Logic, it is very suspicious that it has a mean­ing.

The last Systeme of Logic that I have met with, is the Medicina Mentis which has been esteemed the Best, and, for ought I know, may maintain that Cha­racter till a new one appears: It is not safe to censure an Author of so estab­lish'd a reputation, only thus much a [Page 62] Man may venture to say, That it seems to be too strong Physic for most Men's Constitutions, and it looks so like a Mountebank to boast of Infallible Cures Medi­cin. Ment. Praef. that I could not but have a less o­pinion of this Author. He makes light account of the former Logicians; and Perception which was thought to be so clear a mark of truth, is shown by him to be often the effect of Imagination,Ib. Par. 2. p. 43. and therefore he fetcheth his Criterion higher, which he placeth in Conception, or a yet higher degree of Cogitation. But whether knowledge be grounded in Perception or Conception seems not very material, provided they could s [...]ow us the way, how to find it: This is what we desire; and the telling us, we must as­sent to nothing, of which we have not a Conception, does not seem to further our search over much. It serves well to another purpose, to show us the shortness of our Reach, for if we must assent to nothing without Concepti­on, we must needs know very little, there being few things, that we con­ceive perfectly. I am apt to think Mr. T. has borrow'd some Hints from this Author, tho' he has apply'd them to purposes, the Author never meant, [Page 63] and indeed flatly disavows: For the Author seems to mean well, only is too fanciful a Man, to make an extra­ordinary Logician, and whoever reads his Medicina Corporis will be confirmed in this opinion: If his Rules of Reason be not better suited to the mind, than his Rules for Health are fitted to our Bodies, he is not like to be much follow'd. [Page 60] [...] [Page 61] [...] [Page 62] [...] [Page 63] [...]

Of Moral Philosophy.

MOrality may be consider'd two ways, as an Habit, or a Rule; either as it is in us, 'or as an Art for the conduct of Life and a Doctrine of Manners: In both respects, it is very imperfect, if consider'd only in its own strength, and without the assistances of Revelation; Philosophy being as unable to give Rules, as nature is to practise them. Most of the Philosophers and some of grosser capacities were sensible of this, they were so far bewildred in their search after Happiness, as to be a­ble to perceive their own wandrings, and could feel the disorders of their na­ture; But how to return into the way, or remedy these disorders was beyond their Power.

[Page 67] Socrates was the first, who, after the Philosophers had tir'd themselves out in the search of nature, with little success, observing the great uncertainties and va­nity of such enquiries, brought down Philosophy from fruitless Speculations, to the uses of Life: His Opinions in Morali­ty were clearer and much better ground­ed, than those of most of the succeeding Sects; having had truer notions of God, of the Immortality of the Soul and future Rewards, than the rest had, without which all Vertue is a floating unstable thing, wanting both its due end and sufficient foundation. But though he was clearer than most of the rest were, yet he expresseth himself too doubtfully, to be depended on: Most of his Philosophy is in broken Sentences, deliver'd with much doubtfulness, and his dying Words are well known, when he had least to fear, which are so full of Diffidence, that they can give little encouragement to o­thers to follow him. He proposeth his Sense, as a probable Opinion, of the truth whereof, he had conceiv'd good hopes, from its agreeableness with the Divine Goodness, and the order of Providence; rather than built upon such solid Princi­ples, as would give assurance, and bear [Page 68] Men up in the discharge of their Duty, where it meets with Reproaches and Discouragements, the usual attendants of Vertue.

Plato does little more than Copy from his Master, and being aw'd by his hard Fate, speaks yet with more reserve; his most Divine Dialogue, is chiefly a rela­tion of Socrates's Opinions, and an account of the Discourses he had with his Scholars, sometime▪ before he diedV. Pla­ton. Phae. don.. And both the Socratic and Platonic way having been e­nemies to dogmatizing, and rather doubt­ing and denying than asserting any thing; we are not to expect certainty, where it is not pretended to.

Aristotle is more noted for his order, in bringing Morality into Systeme, by treating of Happiness under Heads; and ranging it in Classes according to its dif­ferent Objects, and distinguishing Ver­tues into their several kinds, which had not been handled Systematically before, than for any real improvement he made in this sort of knowledge: which was a diviner thing in Plato's Dialogues, although only Lax and Moral Discourses, than it was under all the advantages, that Aristotle could give it, by reducing it into order; whilst he wanted the [Page 69] only thing, that could render it ami­able.

As for the rest of the Philosophers, they generally go upon false Principles, That Sect of them, which was strictest in its Institution, and pretended to the greatest Perfection, the Stoics, were more extravagant than most others were: Their Rule was to live up to Nature, which as they understood it, was to divest themselves of Hum [...]nity; for that was to be laid aside, and an absolute unconcern­edness to be embrac'd, in order to the happiness, they were to be possess'd of; Their Wiseman was to be Rich and Powerful, and every way Happy in the midst of Torments: All good with them was equal and alike; only their Wiseman was somewhat above the GodsV. Senec. Ep 53. Est aliquid quo Sapiens antecedat Deum. In short their Philosophy was all Paradox, it made a great show, and dazled those that look'd no farther than appearance, but was nothing more at the bottom, than an Ostentation of Wisdom.

It were tedious to recount the vari­ous Opinions of the Heathen Moralists, which in short compass of time, were grown so numerous, that it gave occa­sion to the Sceptics, to dispute the Truth of all, and to maintain that there was no­thing [Page 70] true or false, good or evil; and consequently to place their happiness in a perfect indifference, an [...] in the understanding: and [...] in the will V. Sext. Empiric. l. 1. c. 12.. This was to go beyond the Stoics, who, as they could feel no pain, so these Romantic Heroes could taste Happiness without being affected with Pleasure. Their Master Pyrrhon, who flourished a­bout the time of Zeno, was so struck with this Principle, that if a Chariot or wild Beast came in his way, he scorn'd to turn aside, and must often have perished, had he not been preserv'd by his Friends. He was best answered by the Dog in Dioge­nes Laertius Lib. 9. vit. Pyr. rhon. which coming upon him by surprise, ere the Philosopher had time to consider, made nature start back, and the Philosopher confess that such ima­ginary principles will not hold.

In Varro's time the different Opinions were so extravagantly multipli'd, that in his Book of PhilosophyV. Aug. de Civ. Dei l. 19. c. 1., he reckons up two hundred and eighty eight several Opinions, only concerning the Summum Bonum. And if the difference were so great concerning the ultimate end, which all Men desire, and in which, if any thing, the common sense of mankind should seem to agree; we may easily [Page 71] imagine what agreement there was, in other less Ends and particular Duties. I need not show it, it is a common Theme, and may be seen in every Treatise of Morality.

But tho Morality may have been very imperfect amongst the Philosophers, it is otherwise, I suppose with us, who have better light and a surer Rule for our dire­ction, than they had: It is true it is so, whilst we keep to our Rule, but when we forsake that, we go astray like other Men. Our Modern Casuists, especially the Jesuits, afford too clear an evidence of this, who by starting nice Cases and Phi­losophizing upon them, have brought us back in some things to the state of Philo­sophers; they have already given us a new Notion of Philosophical Sin, which as stated by them has no such sting in it, as to deter most Men from its Commissi­on: Their Theses are Printed, that were to be maintain'd by the Jesuits at Dijon, the first of which is, Peccatum Philosophi­cum seu morale, est Actus humanus discon­veniens naturae Rationali & Rectae Rationi; Theologicum vero & mortale est transgressio libera legis Divinae: Philosophicum quantum­vis grave, in illo qui Deum vel ignorat, vel de Deo actu non cogitat, est grave Peccatum, [Page 72] sed non est offensa Dei, neque Peccatum mor­tale dissolvens amicitiam Dei, neque aeternâ poenâ dignum: A Thesis indeed very fa­vourable to the Heathen Philosophers, but impossible to be reconciled to the Princi­ples of the Gospel. It has been reprinted at the Hague Nouv. Her. dans la moral. Ala Haye 89., and sufficiently answe­red and expos'd by a good hand, tho no­thing can expose it more than naming it.

This is only one of their Casuistical Decisions, a large Collection of which may be had in the Iesuits Morals Morale des Ies. A Mons. 1667., which as represented by a Doctor of the Sorbonn, and he quotes their own licen­sed Authors, is such a System of Mora­lity, as the Heathen Philosophers would blush to own. According to the Do­ctrine of that Morale, how many sins are there, that may be committed, and what Duties that may not be evaded in some degree, or under some distinction? Their one Doctrine of Probability, is a ground of as much liberty, as an or­dinary sinner can desire; for if a Man may act upon a probable Opinion, and an Opinion becomes then probable, when it is supported by one Reason, or maintained only by one DoctorV. mo­ [...]l p. 148, 158., I will venture to affirm, there are few things so hard in morality, that have [Page 73] been defended by the loosest Moralists, that have not been maintain'd by some of the Jesuits, as cited in that Book. And yet this is not the utmost liberty, these nice Casuists and Indulgent Fathers have allow'd; they go farther, and where there are two probable Opinions, a Man may act upon that which is less proba­ble, nay he may venture upon an Opi­nion that is only probably probable; which is certainly as low a degree of pro­bability, as can well be imagin'd; and I do not see, how they can go lower, un­less they would allow a Man to act upon an Opinion that is improbable.

It might have been expected, that where so many hard Opinions have been charg'd upon the Jesuits, as have been produc'd in the Iesuits Morals, they should say somewhat in their own de­fence: Somewhat indeed they have said▪ and one of the Pleas they insist upon most is, that many of the same Opinions are maintain'd by the Scholemen, some of whom were canoniz'd, and their Books generally receiv'd in the Church of Rome: But whatever Opinion they may have of such a defence, it is nothing to us, who bring the same charge against the Scholemen, that we [Page 74] do against the Jesuits, as far as they maintain the same Opinions, and we think them the more dangerous, if they have not only been defended by Jesuits, but by such Men, as by having been receiv'd into the Catalogue of Romish Saints, have in a manner canonized their Opinions, by being canoniz'd them­selves, and made their Church in some measure answerable for them: Tho to do that Church right, others of her Mem­bers have taken offence at such Do­ctrines, particularly the Iansenists; and among the Benedictines, Father Ma­billon, tho otherwise reserv'd enough in his Censures, yet where such loose Ca­suists come in his way, cannot forbear giving them a lash, and declaring it his Opinion, that a Man may read Tully's Of­fices with more profit than he can do cer­tain CasuistsEtud. monast. Par. 2. c. 7.: which tho smart e­nough, as coming from a modest humble Man, yet another Frenchman has said a severer thing, where he defines Morality as treated by the Casuists, L' art de chi­chaner avec Dieu; and indeed in their way of handling, it looks liker an Art to ease Men from the Burden of rigorous Pre­cepts, by showing them the utmost bounds they may go without Sin, than [Page 75] what it should be, a direction for the ease of tender Consciences, by shewing Men their duty in particular Cases.

To speak the whole matter in one word, a good Conscience and an up­right Man will see his duty with only a moderate share of Casuistical skill, but into a perverse heart, this sort of wisdom enters not: It is usually some lust to be gratified or danger to be avoided, which perverts the Judgment in pra­ctical Duties, but were Men as much affraid of sin as they are of danger, there would be few occasions of consulting our Casuists.

Of Natural Philosophy.

PHysical knowledge taking in the whole Compass of Nature, is too vast a subject to be comprehended by hu­mane Mind; it is an unexhaustible Mine, wherein we may always dig and yet ne­ver come at the bottom: For tho the things it treats of be material Objects, and as such sensible and easie, yet when we come to treat of them in a Philosophical manner, they shun our Sense, and are liable to equal difficulties, with nicer matters. There is nothing more common in nature, than Matter and Motion, or more easily distinguish'd, but then we must understand them to be so only in their grosser meaning, for if we speak of subtle Matter and intestine Motion, they escape the nicest scrutiny of Sense: And yet these are the secret Springs of most of the operations in nature, and as for gross [Page 77] matter and visible motion, they are rather of mechanical consideration. A Philoso­phers business is to trace Nature in her inward Recesses and Latent Motions, and how hid these are, is best known to those, who are most conversant in Philo­sophical Enquiries: Such Men by look­ing deep into her, and observing her in all her windings and mazes, find matter enough for Wonder, and reason to adore the Wisdom of God, but at the same time only meet with mortification to their own Wisdom, and are forc'd to confess, that the ways of Nature like those of God, are past Man's finding out.

Aristotle who has gone so far in his rational Enquiries, has given us little insight into Physical Truths; for having fram'd a Body of Physics out of his own Head, all the various Phaenomena of Nature were to be suited to his Philoso­phy, instead of his Philosophy's being drawn from Observations in Nature: His reasoning which did well in Logics, was somewhat out of place, and mis­guided him here, where he was rather to be led by Observation, and where he does make observations they are u­sually unphilosophical, and such as few Men could be ignorant of: His four E­lements [Page 78] are gross things, and leave the understanding at the same pitch where it was, and his three Principles do not ad­vance it much higher; his first Principle as he has explain'd it, is unintelligible, and the last of the three is no Principle at all, unless we will allow that for one Prin­ciple, that is destructive of another: He tells us, that all knowledge is to be de­rived from the Sense, and yet presently forsakes that, and flies to Reason. But his Philosophy is enough decry'd already, and needs not be brought lower than it is.

I need not here reckon up the opinions of other Ancient Philosophers; most of them have been reviv'd, and have been a­gain confuted, and have dyed the second time in our own Age: The opinion of Thales and the Ionic Sect, in making Wa­ter the Principle of all things, has been reviv'd by those, who have attempted to explicate a Deluge from such an Original: And the Opinion of Pythagoras and the Italic Sect, in placing the Sun in the Cen­ter of the World, and ascribing motion to the Earth, has been maintain [...]d a-new by Copernicus and his Followers; and tho Transmigration of Souls be one of Pytha­goras's hardest sayings, yet it has found a [Page 79] Patron of late in a Countryman of our ownMr. Bulstr [...]de., who has maintain'd it in a qua­lifi'd Sense, which perhaps was as much as Pythagoras meant. An Anima Mundi, Prae-existence of Souls, with the rest of Plato's Opinions, have found a strong par­ty in their defence; and many other late Opinions, which have little in them, ex­cept their novelty to recommend them to the World, do really want that too, and might be easily shown, to be only the Spawn of the Ancient Philosophers; by whom as there is nothing so absurd, that has not been said, so they have scarce said any thing so extravagant, wherein they have not been follow'd.

But among all the ancient Opinions, none have been reviv'd with more ge­neral approbation, than those of De­mocritus and Epicurus, the Founders of the Atomical or Corpuscular Philosophy; an ill Omen to Religion, when they who have explicated the production of the world, by the Laws of Mechanism with­out a God, have been so generally fol­low'd. In this M. Des Cartes has been too successful, whom tho it would be ve­ry unjust to charge with denial of a God, whom he supposeh to have crea­ted Matter, and to have impressed the [Page 80] first motion upon it, yet in this he is blameable, that after the first motion is impress'd, and the wheels set a going, he leaves his vast Machine, to the Laws Mechanism, and supposeth that all things may be thereby produc'd, without any further extraordinary assistance from the first impressor. The supposition is im­pious, and as he states it destructive of it self; for not to deny him his Laws of motion, most of which have been evi­dently shown to be false, and consequent­ly so must all be that is built upon them, his Notion of Matter is inconsistent with any Motion at all; for as Space and Mat­ter are with him the same, upon this sup­position there can be no vacuum, and there can be no Motion in a Plenum: Motion is only the succession of Bodies from one place to another, but how should they succeed from one place, if there be no room to receive them in the next, which there cannot be, if all be full? And the difficulty is still greater upon the first framing of things, before the subtile matter is produc'd, that was to suit it self, to all the little Interstices, betwixt the larger solid Bodies, which must needs clog and interfere with one another, unless we will allow some fluid matter, that [Page 81] will yield and give way to the other's motions. M. Des Cartes imagines he an­swers all this, by a succession of Bodies in a Circular Motion; but I think this Mo­tion carries its own Confutation with it, and that nothing can be suppos'd more absurd, than to imagine, that upon the motion of every little Atome, the whole frame of things must be disturb'd and set a going. Motion is one of M. Des Cartes's darling Principles, and by this and Mat­ter, he pretends to solve the greatest dif­ficulties, that are in Nature, and it is ve­ry remarkable, that he has not fail'd more in any of his Notions, than in these two great Fundamentals of his Philosophy, for allowing him these, his other explications hang together somewhat better. But this it is to frame Hypothesis out of one's own imagination, without consulting Nature, which Mr. Des Cartes has not done, for it was equal to him, what Hypothesis he went upon, and had Father Mersennus V. Ra­pin. Reflex. p. 423. told him, that a vacuum was as much in fashion, and as agreeable to the taste of the Age, as a Plenum then seem'd to be, we should have had an Hypothesis grounded upon a vacuum, and no doubt as specious and plausible, as that we now have; perhaps more plau­sible, [Page 82] being more consonant to his own Sense, as having been his first design, and the other only hammer'd out by the di­rection of his Confident Mersennus: And it is a wonderful thing, that Men should run mad after such an Hypothesis, which, as it has not the least ground in Nature, so the Author himself never believ'd it. It has been answer'd and effectually con­futed in all its Branches, by several hands, but by none better than the Author of, A Voyage to the World of Des Cartes, which tho not always conclusive, is every where ingenious, and confutes him in his own way, for one Romance is best answer'd by another.

But we have been taught to distin­guish betwixt Hypotheses and Theories, the latter of which are shrewd things, as being built upon Observations in Na­ture, whereas Hypotheses may be only Chimaeras: I should be glad to see that Theory, that is built upon such Obser­vations. The most plausible Theory I have yet met with, is only built upon an Hypothesis, to wit, the Incrustation of the Earth, and the cracking of its Cortex, the very same in substance we have been speaking of, and how this Theory should be more certain, than the Hypothesis it [Page 83] goes upon, is past my understanding. Thus much I believe may be said of all our Theories, That, however natural they may seem at first view, they have always some mark in nature set upon them, to discover them to be false: Thus Dr. B's Theory, of the Incrustati­on of the Earth is very ingenious, but then there is no sufficient Provision made, for Antidiluvian Waters, much less for Springs and Rivers, which can neither be generated, nor flow in Streams without Mountains. Mr. W's Theory, shows a vast reach and depth in it's Contrivance, both in his accounting for the formation of things, and in his Ex­plication of a Deluge; But his Paradisi­acal days are so long, by his allowing only an annual motion to the Earth in that State, as to exceed all belief; and tho' he makes a tolerable shift, to supply us with such stores of Waters, from the Atmosphere of a Comet, as might occasion a Deluge, yet it is impossible for him to carry them off again after the occasion is over; and for ought I can see, they must have continu'd with us, till the return of his Comet. So that whatever differences may be alledg'd betwixt Hypothesis and Theories, they are much upon the same level, as to any real [Page 84] light they have yet afforded to Nature, and one great difference seems to be this, that the former are only modestly propo­sed, whereas Theories are usher'd in with greater assurance. It is well if Theories be not as much out of fashion in the next Age, as Hypotheses are in this; for so many Ob­servations and Experiments are requir'd to raise a Theory, that I despair of ever see­ing One that will bear the Test.

When I speak of Observations and Experiments, I would not be thought to under-value a Society, which has been erected to that purpose, and whose endeavours have been so successfull that way already: But however successful they may have been, those excellent Persons have more modesty, than to over-rate their own performances, and nothing has done them more injury, than the vanity of some few Men, who have been so Planet-struck as to dream of the possibility of a Voyage to the Moon, and to talk of making wings to fly thither, as they would of buying a pair of Boots to take a journeyMr. G's Scep. Sc. p. 134.. The Genuine Members of that Society have other thoughts of things, being far from any hopes of mastering Nature, or of ever making such progress, as not to [Page 85] leave work enough, for other Men to do. One of their Number, a great glo­ry of their Society, after he had grown old in these Studies, learnt Modesty and diffiding thereby, and was never more reserv'd than in his full growth and maturity of Knowledge, when he had least reason to be so. And another In­comparable Person, who has added Ma­thematical skill to his Observation upon Nature; after the nicest Enquiry, seems to resolve all into Attraction, which, tho' it may be true and pious withal, perhaps will not be thought so Philosophical.

The truth of it is, we may as well rest there, for after all, Gravitation was never yet solv'd, and possibly, ne­ver may, and after Men have spent a thousand years longer in these Enquiries, they may perhaps sit down at last un­der Attraction, or may be content to resolve all into the Power or Providence of God. And might not that be done as well now? We know little of the causes of things, but may see Wisdom enough in every thing: and could we be content to spend as much time in contemplating the wise ends of Provi­dence, as we do in searching into Cau­ses, it would certainly make us better [Page 86] Men, and I am apt to think, no worse Philosophers. For tho' Final Causes have been so much banish'd from our modern Physics, yet nothing is more to the purpose, or more easie to be understood. Whereas Causes are yet Latent; and it is very remarkable, that the very last Author,M. le Clerc. that has gi­ven us a System of Physics, after all the Discoveries that have been talk'd of, and Improvements that have been made in Nature, has been forc'd to proceed in an Analytical method, for want of Principles to go upon, and instead of demonstrating Effects from the Causes, has been forc'd to trace the Causes of things from their Effects: which tho' it be some Argument of the Author's Modesty, yet I do not speak it to commend his performance, for his Physics are like his other Works, faulty enough.

Of Astronomy.

THE Chaldaeans were the first (un­less you will except the Chinese) that we meet with in Prophane StoryCicer. de Divin. l. 1. p. 1., that made Observations upon the Stars: Two reasons might incline them to this, First, the evenness of their Coun­try, which afforded a free and open prospect; and next the opinion they had of the Stars, whom esteeming as Gods, it must have been a part of their Reli­gion to look up to Heaven and observe them. But then their observations were principally Astrological, they did not so much measure the Heavens, as fetch their directions from thence, and were more concern'd for the influences of the Stars, than their Motions: So that tho' Astrology were at its full heighth amongst the Chaldaeans, yet Astronomy never seems to have arriv'd at any maturity. The same may be said of most of the [Page 88] Eastern People; even the Chinese, after they have made Observations upon the Stars above four Thousand years, yet have made so little progress in Astro­nomy, that upon the arrival of the Mis­sionaries, their Mathematicians could not compose a perfect CalendarL [...] Compt. nouv. Me­moir. L [...]t. [...]. p. 100..

The two Hypotheses of Ptolemy and Copernicus will take in most of what needs be said on this Subject; for as to that of Tycho Brahe, as it is in a great measure compounded of these two, and seems design'd to account for difficulties, in both these Hypotheses, so it is liable to several Objections in them both.

The Ptolemaic Hypotheses has too much appearance of Art, to be esteemed natural, all its Epicycles and Eccentries and other Ambages can never be thought the Contrivance of Nature, which acts in a more simple manner, without go­ing so far about; those solid Spheres which it supposes have been shatter'd and overturn'd by the Modern Philoso­phers, and shown to be inconsistent both with the Trajection of Comets, and with that equal light, which is convey'd to us from the Planets and o­ther Stars, which by passing through such different Mediums and Solid Bodies [Page 89] must have suffered innumerable Refra­ctions: Several of the Phoenomena of the Heavens admit of no tolerable so­lution this way, particularly those of Mercury and Venus, and the Access and Recess of the Polar Star to and from the Pole, which in the time of Hippar­chus was distant from it 12 Degrees, but is not now fully three, and in pro­cess of time will recede from it again more than ever; and the many diffe­rent, and likewise opposite motions of the Stars and Spheres are not easily con­ceiv'd. But nothing is so inconceivable as the velocity of their motion, for up­on this Hypothesis they must be sup­pos'd to move some thousand Miles in a Minute, which tho' it may be conceiv'd by Philosophers, is not very obvious to common understandings. Such are the Objections that have been commonly brought against this Hypothesis, which have rendred it so hard of digestion; and tho' nothing can excuse the hard saying of that Prophane KingAlphon­sus of Ca­stile. so well known and so often quoted, yet it may be so far mollifi'd, that having been level'd against this Hypothesis, he did not thereby pretend to correct the Works of God Almighty, only did not believe them to have been [Page 90] fram'd in such a manner by God, as Ptolemy has describ'd.

The Copernican Hypothesis values it self upon its easiness, and the great Com­pendiousness of the way it goes in: But tho' it accounts for appearances more Compendiously than the other does, and without the vast Apparatus, that is re­quir'd in the Ptolemaic Hypothesis, yet it contains things as incomprehensible as the other does: For as the celerity of Motion in the former exceeds all be­lief, so the Regularity of Motion is unfathomable in this. The Motion of the Earth is of hard enough digestion in it self, but supposing it to move in a fluid Medium, who is there that can imagine, that it should be so regular and uniform as it is? The fluid with which it is environ'd and in which it moves, is unstable, and mutable, consisting of little Bodies, that are always altering their position to one another, and chang­ing their shapes by constant and mutual Attrition, and yet tho' the Ambient Fluid be always altering, the motion is the same. It describes our days by its Di [...]rnal Motion upon its own Axis, our years by its Annual Revolution, and our Sea­sons, by that and its Inclination, and all [Page 91] these so regularly, as not to vary in so many Successions of Ages, and yet we must believe that this Constancy and Regularity is maintained by fluctuating matter, the most unstable thing in the world. The exactest Movements or Machines, that humane Wit can frame, are Subject to innumerable disorders, either from the breaking of the Spring of their Motion, or wearing of their wheels, or some other external impulse or in­ward decay, and therefore always want our care, either to set them right, or keep them in order; only this vast Ma­chine and Frame of things, preserves its Course, and never varies, tho' acted in appearance by the most unconstant Causes. A Man that well considers this will be inclin'd to entertain a more fa­vourable opinion of the Ancient Philo­sophers, and tho' he cannot believe the Heavens to be turn'd and acted by Intelli­gences, yet he would find it almost as hard to apprehend, how they move without them: whatever become of Intelligen­ces, an Intelligent Being must of ne­cessity be taken in, without which our Philosophy will be very unable to do the business.

[Page 92]There is another difficulty in this Hypothesis, which the Copernicans can­not easily get over, and which will per­plex any Man's understanding that well considers it: That the Earth is only a point in respect to the Universe, tho' it be a pretty large Postulatum, yet pos­sibly must be granted upon any Hy­pothesis; but that not only the Earth, but the whole Magnus Orbis, or that vast Orbit which the Earth describes round the Sun, should be esteem'd a point, (without which supposition the Coper­nican Hypothesis cannot be maintain'd) is such a Postulatum in Astronomy, as the more a Man thinks of, the less easily he can assent to. For what is this Mag­nus Orbis or vast Circle which must be esteem'd as a point? To take only the Semidiameter of this Circle, or about the sixth part of the whole, Hugenius Cosmo­theor. p. 124., no incompetent Judge of these matters, has calculated the distance betwixt the Earth and the Sun to be about 17 Mil­lion German Miles; or in other words, that supposing a Bullet shot from a Gun could retain always the same velocity, it had at its first discharge, with this swift­ness in about twenty five years, it would pass from the Earth to the Sun: All which [Page 93] immense distance is about a sixth part of Co­pernicus's point. It is true, Hugenius assigns a proportionable distance (if there can be any proportion in such an immensity) to the fix'd Stars; for this Bullet being shot again, with the same swiftness, heIb. p. 137. sup­poses, it might come at the nearest of the fixt Stars in about 700 years, which is such a distance as common apprehensions can­not reach, and will once more require a Philosophers Understanding.

In this vast compass, our Astronomers have discover'd new Worlds (like that Sanguine Conqueror who was seeking out New Worlds before the old one was half subdu'd) every Planet must be a World and ever Star must have its Planets: this Project was pursu'd by M. Fontanelle in a pleasing entertaining way, but has been em­brac'd by others with greater seriousness. What these Worlds are, might as well be left undetermined, God having thought fit to say little of them, and having plac'd them beyond our reach; But if we may guess at the discoveries that are to be made in the remotest Stars, from those that have been made already in the near­est, the Moon, I do not think they will make any great addition to knowledge. It must be confest, that mighty discove­ries [Page 94] have been talkt of in that Planet: He­velius has given us its Geography, and has markt outSeleno­graph. p. 226. every Mountain and Vally, Sea, and River, as exactly as if he had been there, in his accurate Map of that World. Ricciolus Alma­gest. p. 204. has gone a little farther, and has assign'd every Astronomer his propor­tion of ground; you may there meet with the Land of Copernicus, Galilaeus and Kepler; and it is but just that they should have the benefit of their Invention: And the same Author to show his mo­desty has plac'd Ricciolus in the best and most Conspicuous spot of Ground in that World. But are these Men in ear­nest? Or do we yet know where we are? That the Moon is an Opake Body is no new discovery, the nature of E­clipses has long since shewn it, and I am affraid it is little we yet know beyond this. For tho' the Moon has been divi­ded into Sea and Land, and the Divi­sion so much acknowledged, that a Man's parts must have been suspected, that would have doubted of the thing; and tho' the obscure parts of its Body, have been generally thought to be Watery, and the Luminous parts, Earthy and Solid, yet this Division seems rather to be grounded upon an inference of Reason, [Page 95] to wit, that the obscure and Watery parts imbibe the Light, whereas the Earthy Solid parts reflect it, than upon the experience of Sense, assisted by Glasses. These Glasses indeed discover the diffe­rence betwixt the dark and Luminous parts much more clearly, than the naked eye can, but will never show the na­ture of either, or what Substance they are of, much less distinguish the diffe­rent portions of Earth and Water: But Men come possess'd with an opinion of Seas and Rivers, and then easily think they see them (as every sound does an­swer the tune that runs in our ears) and after one Man has seen them, it is a re­proach to the next, not to be as acute and distinguishing as he, and so we cheat one another into a tolerable agreement. That this is the Case I am verily perswaded, for tho' I can neither pretend to good eyes, nor good Glasses, and therefore will lay no weight upon my own opinion, yet Hu­genius who had them in perfection, and who writ since these accurate Maps were taken, could neither observe Seas nor Ri­vers in the Moon, and expresly denys, that any such are to be seen thereCosmo­theor. p. 114. And there is this reason besides, that if any such were, they must necessarily raise a mighty At­mosphere, [Page 96] which, as it would hinder our clear prospect at all times, so by its clouds, it would sometimes darken one part of the Moons Body, and sometimes another; whereas now the dark and Luminous parts are always the same: So that as far as I can see, we know little more of the Moon, than that it is an Opake and solid Body, and so much we were pretty well assur'd of, before Telescopes came in fashion.

No doubt, Telescopes are a noble In­vention, and the discoveries that have been made by them are very considera­ble, but as to the discovering thereby the Nature and Substance of Heavenly Bodies, I look upon it as utterly impos­sible: And yet this is the modish way of framing new Worlds; we first ob­serve Seas and Rivers, in the Moon, and if such be there, there must be Plants that they water, and if Plants, there must be likewise Animals to feed upon them, and all these are design'd for the service of Men. The reason is easily carry'd fur­ther, for if the Moon be a World, by pa­rity of Reason, so must the other Planets be also, and if all the visible Planets are carried about in the Vortex of the Sun, which is no better than the other Stars, no doubt, the other fix'd Stars, have [Page 97] their attending Planets, as well as the Sun, and so we have a Plurality of Worlds with a witness: but this chain of reasoning is easily broken, by breaking its first Link, for if there be no Waters in the Moon, in consequence of that, nei­ther are there any Plants, or Animals, or Men, and if none of these be there, by parity of reason, neither are there any in the other Planets, and so the whole Chain falls to pieces.

These World-mongers are always ob­jecting the improbability of God's fram­ing so many vast and glorious Bodies, only for the sake of this Earth, so inconsidera­ble a portion of the whole: Amongst the rest Hugeni [...]s, who in one place makes this Objection, in another part of his Book,P. 33. as if he had forgot him­self, thinks it enough to say, That God rais'd this mighty Frame of things, that he might contemplate and delight him­self thereby; and were there no other reason, we ought to acquiesce in this: But they that argue thus, seem to mea­sure things by their Bulk, which is a false way of reasoning; there is more Beauty and Contrivance in the Structure of a humane Body, than there is in the Glorious Body of the Sun, and more per­fection [Page 98] in one rational immaterial Soul, than in the whole Mass of Matter, be it never so bulky. There cannot then be any absurdity in saying, that all things were created for the sake of this inferior World, and the Inhabitants thereof, and they that have such mean thoughts of it, seem not to have consider'd, who it was that died to redeem it. Let them measure the World by that Standard, and they cannot undervalue it any long­er, without some reproach to infinite Wisdom.

Of Metaphysics.

MEtaphysics having so great an affini­ty with Logic, and being so in­terwoven with the learning of the Scholes, I need say less of them in this place: They are stil'd by Aristotle Natural The­ology, from whence we may be enabled to take some measures of them; for Na­tural Theology is in it self a poor, weak thing, and Reason unassisted has not been able to carry the clearest Philosophers very far, in their pursuit after Divine Matters▪ We have seen this already in practical Truths, and the Reason lies stronger, in such as are Speculative. And if we see so dimly in physical matters, which are nearer our Sense, and in a manner ex­pos'd to view, how much more must we be bewildred in our search after Spiritual abstracted Truths, in the consi­deration of Universals, and of things of a Transcendental Nature, such as fall pro­perly under the consideration of Metaphy­sics? For tho Metaphsiycal Truths may be certain enough in their own nature, [Page 98] yet they are not usually so to us, but being abstruse things, and lying deep and re­mote from Sense, it is not every one that is capable of understanding them, and there are yet fewer that understand their true use. They are usually under the Conduct of subtle Men, and these nice Pro­fessors, instead of resolving doubts, have spun out new difficulties, and fram'd Laby­rinths, out of which they have scarce been able to disentangle themselves: So that Metaphysics, which were at first only Na­tural Theology, are now become the most artificial thing in the World.

One need only dip into any System, to see how these Men are plung'd in setting out, for whereas there are two things of principal consideration in Metaphysical Knowledge, its Object and Affections; and whereas Philosophers are pretty well a­greed about the Object of other Sciences, as that Quantity is the Object of Mathe­matics; and matter of Physics, and so of the rest; the Metaphysicians have not come to any tolerable agreement about the Object of this Science, or Sapience, or what­ever you will call it: Suarez produceth six different opinions, and himself brings the seventh, which is his own. And as to its Affections, they are again at a plunge [Page 99] to find out Affections different from Being (which seems to comprehend every thing) for if the Affections and Subject are the same, their Demonstrations are Indenti­cal, and prove nothing. But these are dry Considerations.

What Aristotle has done upon this Sub­ject, is much short of a perfect Work, and is rather an Essay, than a Compleat Trea­tise, for tho' he has left fourteen Books up­on the Subject, yet they are loose and in­digested, (which was not usual with Ari­stotle, where he has given his last hand) and the two last are so Foreign to his de­sign, and so unsuitable to the place they stand in, that some have thought fit either to strike them out of his Works, or to place them in a new order: And indeed his twelfth Book should seem to be his last, which concludes with his Notion of God and Spiritual Beings; though none of his Books are Divine enough, to give a true account of Natural Theology. It is plain he wants light in these matters, and nei­ther knows where to fix, nor what to determine; which is one reason of the obscurity of his Books of Metaphysics, for no Man can write clearer than he thinks. And therefore his Commentators have often tug'd in vain, in labouring to make [Page 100] out a meaning, where possibly the Author himself was at a loss. If any Man could have understood him, Avicen had the best plea, who was as subtle a Philosopher and study'd him as much as perhaps any Man ever did; and yet after he had read his Metaphysics forty times over, and had them all by heart (which I will venture to say, is more than ever any Man will do again) he was forc'd to lay them aside as unintelligibleV. vit. Avicen. p. 3. In one thing I must do him right, that whereas he has been represented as too Positive and Dogmatical in his opinions, it is the fault of his Followers, not his: He begins these Books in a very dif­ferent manner: His third Book (for the two first are chiefly Prefatory) is taken up with doubts, and the Title of the first Chapter is, The use of Doubting, to do which well, he makes one mark of a Philosopher; and gives this reason, because unless a Man knows how to find out and state a difficulty, it is impos­sible to solve it, as a Man must see the folds and windings of a knot, before he can unty it. So that the Art of doubting is no new invention, having been known to Aristotle, as well as the Moderns, with this difference only, that he does it more [Page 101] modestly, and is not so Sceptical, as the first mighty pretender to this way.

And because we are come thus far, let us consider this new Method of know­ledge by doubting, upon which our Mo­dern Metaphysicksturn so much, and of which our new Philosophers talk so loud­ly: For my part I can see no great use either of their doubting, or of the know­ledge, it leads to. For what is it we must doubt of? Even of the most certains Truths in Nature, of the verity of our own Bodies, as whether we have Hands, Arms, and LegsCart. Princip. p. 2. Me­ditat. 1. And what is the first knowledge that results from this doubting? That since I doubt, I am; for that which doubts must it self necessarily have a Being. Now al­lowing all this, I do not think we are much the wiser; for had ever any Man real doubts of these matters? Or did ever any Man in his Wits question the truth of his own Being? Such doubts and such proofs are only fitted for me­lancholy Persons, and I hope we are not Philosophizing at this time of day to yield conviction to such Men. Evident truths and first Principles may be reasonably sup­pos'd, and indeed they must be suppos'd, for they are not capable of proof, there [Page 102] being nothing clearer by which they may be prov'd; and for Men to offer at proof in such matters may make a pompous show, but is no real advancement of knowledge. The old way of proceeding upon allow'd Principles seems to me more rational than this method of questioning every thing, till we have unsetled the first grounds and foundations of Truth; and however useful doubting may be in Phi­losophical Enquiries, it ought always to suppose a ground, for a groundless doubt is so far irrational.

After our Philosopher has done with doubting, and has prov'd to us our own Existence, he brings us at last to the Being of a God,Medi­tat. 3. in which a great part of his Metaphysics is spent; and I am so unwilling to weaken any proof to that purpose, that I shall pass it over: On­ly thus much may be inoffensively said, that his proof from the Idea, is the ab­strusest and the least conclusive argu­ment that has been brought, for tho' constant and universal agreement in the Notion of a God, may be a good Argu­ment to prove his Existence, and fami­liar enough to the weakest Capacities, yet this Idea as managed by our Author, is neither clear nor very conclusive: For [Page 103] what is there of either, in the Obje­ctive Perfection or Reality of this Idea, being greater than the formal Perfecti­on or Reality in the Mind, and there­fore that this Idea cannot proceed from thence, but must have some Superior Cause to produce it? When after all this Objective Reality is nothing more than an operation of the Mind, or rather a mode of its operation, which is such a Reality, as one would imagine, the Mind alone might be able to give it.

But this Philosophers Metaphysics are only Meditations, a Compleat Treatise was to be given us by his Followers; amongst whom M. Poiret, I know not how, has obtain'd a name; he has re­fin'd upon his Master, and is so full of thinking, that he has made Cogitation to be the substance of the MindCogi­tat. Ra [...]. l. 2. c. 3. 5., and in pursuance of this, the Essence of God to be likewise Cogitation; which, with other odd opinions will hardly recommend him to considering Men. I always lookt upon M. Poiret as a Pha­natic in Philosophy, and have been con­firm'd in my Opinion, by what has hap­pen'd since; for as Phanaticism has no bounds, he has since (if he be the same Man) expres,'d it in his Divinity, by [Page 104] licking up the vomit, and adoring the Opinions of a silly Woman, of whose In­spiration he is as well assur'd as of the Be­ing of a God V. Bour. Det. Nar. 1. p. 10.; an expression which nothing but Enthusiasm, can excuse from Blasphemy. And therefore I have the more wondred to see a comparison form'd betwixt Plato and M. Poiret, which I could have wish'd had been let alone.

I must rank Mallebranch in the same order, whose Recherche has furnish'd out such refin'd and abstracted Metaphysics, as if they were designed for Comprehen­sors; he has exalted Ideas to their ut­most Height, and because they bore not with them certainty enough, whilst they were barely operations of the mind, or representations from external Objects, he has plac'd them in a Subject that cannot err, to wit, in the Wisdom of God himself, whom having suppos'd to be the Place of Spirits, as Space is of Bodies, and that there is an intimate Union betwixt God and the Soul of Man, by attending to him, who is always presential to our Minds, we are to see all things in this Ideal, or Intelligible worldRech. [...]. 3. Par. 2. c. 6.. Now tho' there can be no doubt, but God can lead us into all Truth, by displaying himself to us, [Page 105] and perhaps may deal thus with us when we are in Heaven, yet this way seems too Supernatural whilst on Earth, and too clear for frail and weak Men, who are not yet to know by Vision; and it is withal so like the inward Light of a New Sect of Men, as not to make it over reputable: To which purpose it is very remarkable, that Mallebranch's Opinion having been espou­sed of late, by an Ingenious Person of our own, with all the advantages of Beauty of Style and Perspicuity of Expression, yet the Men of New Light have taken such hold of it, as to make it necessary for him to write an Apology to disingage himself from the Quakers, who would needs have it thought they had gain'd a Proselyte V. Cond. Hum. Lif. p. 183.: Wherein tho' he has distiguish'd him­self from these People, yet thus much he owns, That if the Quakers understood their own N [...]tion, and knew how to explain it, and into what Principles to resolve it, it would not very much differ from his. In another thing there is too great an agreement: that these men of thought have too low a value for hu­mane Learning, either as it lies in our common Books, or in the Book of Nature, in respect of that light which displays it self from the Ideal World, by attending to which, with pure and defaecate Minds, [Page 106] they suppose Knowledge to be most easily had. Experience and Deductions have been formerly esteemed useful, but in this compendious way to knowledge, provided we make our approaches, with our Souls purg'd and with due preparati­on of Mind, there needs little more than application and attention. Indeed Prayer has been made another Condition, which tho' it be proper and of good use upon all occasions, yet is not so pertinent here, where we speak only of natural means.

Of History.

I Scarce ever met with any Historian, who does not write true History, if you will take an account of him from his Preface, and not be too nice in examining his Book; the first Pages are usually fil­led with the Care and Integrity of the Author, which possibly, are to be found no where else: Those who have taken most care, have been charg'd with some negligence, and all of them have been so far faulty, as to extort a Confessi­on from one of their number, wherein he [Page 107] fairly owns, That there is none of the Hi­storians, that do not lie in some thingsVopisc. juxta init.—Neminem Scriptorum quantum ad Histori­am perti­net, non aliquid esse mentitum.. He names some of the most unexceptiona­ble, and pretends to be able to make good his charge by uncontestable proofs. Let us take a short view.

We have little considerable remaining of Profane Ancient Story, except what we have left us, by the Greeks and Romans; for as to the Chaldaean History of Berosus; and the Aegyptian of Manetho they both writ since Herodotus, and we have only some Fragments of them left preserved by Iosephus, Eusebius, &c. and the Books that go under these great names, are the impu­dent Forgeries of Annius of Viterbo. And as to Sanchoniathon, who has given us the Phoenician History, tho' he pretends to be much more Ancient, yet his great Antiquity has been question'd by Scaliger, and his very Being, by Mr. Dodwell, So that those we are to depend on are the Greeks and Romans.

The Greeks as they have not been no­ted for their veracity in any respect, so their Truth and Integrity in this particu­lar has been always so questionable, That Graecia Mendax has been stigmatiz'd in Hi­story: We have no tolerable account from them before the Olympiads, the times be­fore these were the Mythic Ages, and are [Page 108] all Fable; and when the Historical Age commenceth, our Accounts of things are not much better: For they having not o­riginally had any Public Annals, or Regi­sters of things, and amongst their Ancient Authors, the Poets having had the first rank; we may easily imagine what sort of Accounts are to be expected from those Men, who were either to follow uncertain Reports and Traditions, or what is much worse, to Copy the Poets. Accordingly their first Accounts were very loose, and rather Poems than Histories, which they have been charg'd with by the Ro­mans pretty freely, and Quinctilian is so far from softning the matter; That he com­pares the liberty they took to a Poetic Li­cence Instit. l. 2. c. 4.. But no Man has expos'd them so much as Iosephus Contr. Appion. l. 1. has done. He tells them, Their accounts of things are all novel, that they have no Public and Authen­tic Annals, nor any Author more Ancient than Homer, and those they have do differ from one another, that Hellanicus, differs from Acusi­laus, that Acusilaus corrects Hesiod; and Hellanicus, Ephorus; he again is corrected by Timaeus, as Timaeus is by others; and Herodotus, by all: And yet this is that Herodotus, who has been styl'd the Fa­ther of History, tho' he might with equal [Page 109] right be nam'd the Parent of Fable. I know what Apologies have been made for him, especially from late Voyages and Discoveries; But it is enough to say, he cannot be defended, and that those few Instances, which have been brought, do rather show the Wit of his Apologists, than signifie much towards the redeem­ing the Credit of their Author; his mi­stakes are too numerous and too gross to be accounted for, from some accidental agree­ment with Modern Discoveries.

It must be confest, some of the fol­lowing Historians, have writ more cau­tiously, and in this, the Children have exceeded their Father, particularly Thu­cydides who has been noted for his Accu­racy and Care; but not to insist upon Iosephus's Authority, who has not exemp­ted him from the Common Censure, a great part of his History is taken up with large Speeches and Harangues, which had never any Existence, except in the imagination of his own Brain; and the rest of his Story is of too nar­row extent, both as to time and place, to be of any considerable importance in the account of ancient times, of the dark­ness whereof he himself complains in the entrance of his Book. He who has done [Page 110] most and whose accounts are most exten­sive is Diodorus Siculus, taking his rise from the Original of things and describing the World in its full Latitude and extent; and let any one excuse him from Fable, and the Cause is yielded. His first five Books are almost a continued Fable, describing more Ages than the World has had dura­tion, and such Nations as have had no Be­ing: Lucian's true History has scarce any thing more incredible, than what may be met with in that Author. The best thing that can be urg'd in his excuse is, that he owns and confesseth the Charge, that is brought against him, Entituling his first Books, Mythic History, which in plain Eng­lish is Fabulous. But this argument has been largely prosecuted by a learned PenOrig. Sacr. cap. 4..

Well but however fabulous the Grae­cians may have been, there may be more certainty in Roman Story: It is possible there may, and yet not near so much, as might be desir'd. The most compleat and only General History we have among them, is Livy, whose Genius has been thought to equal the Majesty of the Peo­ple he describes: To pass by his Patavi­nity, which has been understood by some, of Partiality to his Country, and his long [Page 111] Orations that are pure Fiction; and Mon­strous Prodigies, which are such vanities as only serve to amuse the weaker sort of People; his accounts of remote times are dim and blind, and for want of suffici­ent vouchers, are justly questionable. He himself describes the first times, to the Foundation of Rome, as a Poetical Period, rather than grounded upon undoubted MonumentsLi [...]. 1 p. 1.; and after the building of the City, he complains, that the use of Letters had been very rare, and conse­quently little could be consign'd to writ­ing, that therefore the memory of things was his best Guide, at least so far, as to the burning of Rome, when most of their publick Monuments, did perish with their CityLib. 6. p. 1.: which could they have been preserv'd, yet they were so jejune and naked, that they could hardly furnish out materials for a tolerable History.

The first ground of the Roman Story is the coming of Aeneas into Italy, with this Livy begins his Book, and ushers it in with tolerable assurance, and if any thing could be known among them, it must have been their own original, and yet this is so far from being allow'd, that Stra­bo Lib. 13. plainly shows, Aeneas never stir'd out of Troy; and if Homer's Authority be [Page 112] of any weight, it is plain, he did not on­ly die there, but his Posterity were to reign there in succeeding AgesIliad. 20. l. 306.. And that he never set foot in Italy, has been made pretty evident, in a late Dissertati­on to that purposeBochart. Epist. num, Aeneas unquam fuerit in Italiâ.. And yet not­withstanding what can be said against it, this was so receiv'd a Truth at Rome, that the ancient Families deriv'd from Venus and Aeneas, and upon this reason, the People of Troy had Privileges and Immu­nities granted them by the Romans, e­specially by I. Caesar who deriv'd from them. But this was an effect of partiali­ty to their Country and of vanity, in be­ing thought descended from Gods and Heroes, wherein with like reason, they have been since imitated by other Nations.

The truth of it is, this partiality to their Nation does show it self in all their Historians; they represent themselves not only as the most Valiant People, but like­wise as the most Just and Faithful in all their Wars and Alliances, and having had the advantage of writing their own Story, they must have been believ'd in all they say, had not there been some way left of discovering the contrary. Them­selves discover the opinion their Enemies had of them; Galgacus our brave Coun­tryman [Page 113] is introduc'd describing them as Pyrats and public Robbers, Men of insa­tiable Avarice and unbounded Ambition, and upon these motives, as disturbers of the Peace of Manking: And tho no doubt that noble Speech of his in Tacitus, were made for him, yet the Historian had not observ'd a due Decorum, had he not made him speak the Sense, their Enemies had of the Roman People. And tho Po­lybius does sometimes censure the Roman Justice, yet he no where discovers so much truth, as by what he tells us, of Fabius and Philinus: It seems these two had writ the Panic War, the one a Roman, the o­ther a Carthaginian; the one blames the Carthaginians almost in every thing, and the other the Romans: It is possible they might both be blameable, but I know no reason, why we are not to give as much credit to the Carthaginian, as we are to the Roman. Had such Historians as Philinus been yet preserv'd, we might then have known all the Romans faults, as we now read little, besides their Vertues; tho' we have the less need of them to this pur­pose, the Christian ApologistsV. Min. Felix. v. Lanct. Inst. hav­ing left such an account of their Justice and public Vertues, as is very inconsi­stent with their own Histories. And [Page 114] indeed we have one sure way of detecting their insincerity, by comparing them with sacred Story: what monstrous absurdities have Iustin and Tacitus related of the Iews, where they might have had opportunities of being better inform'd? and we are not to think, that they have been more inqui­sitive in knowing, or perhaps much more favourable in describing other Nations: So that upon the whole, the Romans in this matter have not much out-done their Neighbours.

I am not ignorant what mighty expe­ctations were conceiv'd of one ManCic. de leg. l. 1. p. 1., I mean Cicero, and how forward Men have been in imagining, that nothing could have been wanting in this kind, had he undertaken the work, he once intended. For my part I scarce wish he had, and cannot but think, he would have been as partial, and under as power­ful prejudices, as any of the rest. For how do you think he had cut out and contriv'd his Work? He had designed a History from the foundation of Rome, to his time, and in order to that designed to begin at his own Consulate, and write backward to Romulus V. [...]i­on. Cass. l. 46. ad Iuit. Tus­ [...]al. i [...].: A very pre­posterous and unaccountable Method, did not the reason appear; the Good [Page 115] Man was full of himself, and was im­patient to come at his own praises; Ca­tiline, no doubt, was in his head, and after he had press'd his Friends to write that War, and could not prevail with them to undertake it, he is resolv'd to do it himself; and whether in the conduct of the Work, Cicero's Character would not have been too large, and Catiline's too foul, I leave to every Man to judge: Would not Catiline have been painted out in the same dress, as he now stands in the four Orations? And had our Orator's History come down as low as Anthony, should we not have had too much of the Philippies, to be reconcilable to truth? Cicero requires so much of Oratory as an ingredient in an HistorianDe Orat. l. 2. juxt. init. Epist. 12. L. [...]. and so much partiality in his own Historian, as to confirm the suspici­on, beyond a doubt.

If I should descend to Modern times, I should have a large field before me, but the path is so trodden, that every Man's own reading will furnish him with observations: If there should be any Man, who has made none of this kind, he needs only peruse the English and French Historians, and by compar­ing them together, he will find matter of Diversion and Admiration at the same [Page 116] time. How differently do they describe the same action? How manifestly in fa­vour of a Party? How often do the French glory in a Victory, which with the Eng­lish is esteem'd an Overthrow? And again how do the English sometimes proclaim Victory, where their Enemies think they have given them a Defeat? How do they both Triumph, where perhaps neither of them have reason to glory? Or if the ad­vantage be too undeniably on our side to be contested, as at Agincourt and Cressey, how do our Enemies seek to lessen it? How do they palliate every thing, and charge Heaven, or cross accidents, or mad De­spair, with the fortune of the Day? How do they turn every Stone and labour to have the success and Honour fall any where, rather than on the English? Whereas on the other side, How do the English arrogate all to themselves, and their own courage, and scarce allow any share to Fortune or Despair, or lucky ac­cidents. You have Fabius and Philinus, only altering the Nation in the French and English. What a reproach to truth was it, That a Duke of Orleans, one of the first Per­sons in France, should be said to be openly executed for Treason at Paris; as was re­ported in twenty Histories, whilst the D. [Page 117] was living, and could contradict the re­port, who afterwards dy'd in peace, to the shame and ignominy of all his Histori­ans V. Bo­din. Meth. Hist. cap. 4.. Or who could imagine, that it should be thought an universal Custom amongst the English, that upon an invita­tion to a Friends House, the Person invi­ted, should in compliment, lie with his Neighbour's Wife? And yet this, however barbarous it may seem, has been related, by an European HistorianChal­cocond. l. 2. p. 49., a Christian, and one that liv'd almost to the last Cen­tury. Would not a Man have suspected, he had liv'd two thousand years ago, or in some remote corner of the world, where the English had been reckon'd amongst Barbarous People?

These are Domestick Instances. If we look abroad; upon the discovery of the West-Indies, what strange Relations have we had from thence? we have been told there of a Nation of Amazons, of Giants of a prodigious Stature, the People of such monstrous Shape and truculent A­spect, as if they were of another Species; and as many Cannibals, as might eat up an ordinary CountryV. P. Mart. Ang. Ocean. p. 2. 4. &c. Purch. l. 2. p. 34, 58, 91, 79.. Whereas up­on further enquiry, we meet with no Amazons, unless long Hair and want of Beards will metamorphose Men into Wo­men, [Page 118] and the People are much of the same size and shape with the rest of Man­kind: But the Spaniards either saw them in a fright, or were under the vanity of reporting strange things, or being in love with the Gold of the Country; they were to represent the People as Monsters, that they might have a fairer pretence to destroy them. And such Instances may serve to illustrate ancient History. Doubtless, Herodot [...]s and Diodorus were impos'd upon by such false Relations, and had not the like opportunities with us, of correcting their mistakes.

I should be infinitely tedious, should I give a History of Incredible things, and therefore I only touch upon some few, and those too matters of Fact, which ought to be most certain: Whereas should we launch out into Mysteries of State and the Cabinets of Princes, which are the most instructive part, and most properly the Business of an Historian, we should be still more in the dark. Matters of Fact are visible things, and fall under common observation, whereas politic rea­sons and considerations, are abstruse and hidden, and only penetrated into, by some few of clearer Capacity and deeper Reach: every ordinary Capaci­ty [Page 119] can judge of time by the point or hand, but the spring and secret Moti­ons are only observ'd by Men of skill. These Men in the State are the Mini­sters, tho' the secret be often hid even from them; for the Reasons which Prin­ces give, are often only pretended, and rather what they would have others think of them than the true motives by which they are guided. Such things are out of my Road, and therefore I dismiss them.

I shall only observe further, that however vicious our Histories may be already, there has been one way taken to make them more corrupt, by Secret Histo­ries and Turkish Spies, and other Books of the like nature, which by an ap­pearance of Truth and by mingling it with falshood, impose upon Men of easie belief, and are now grown so nu­merous, that it is a matter of Discern­ment to distinguish betwixt Spurious and Genuine Pieces. To which I may add Varillas and Maimburgh, and other French Authors, who write with so Romantic an Air, as if they design'd rather plea­sant Books, than true History, and rather to entertain, than inform their Reader; who give us paint instead of Dress, and make Heroes, if they cannot find them.

[Page 120]I have done with this Head, and have kept close to one Condition of History, the consideration of its Truth; for should I take in all the Conditions requir'd by Vossius and Le Moyne, we should either have very little History▪ or none at all. The Jesuit Le Moyne, one of the last that has treated of this Subject, requires such Conditions, and lays down such Rules as no Man can follow, and is so nice in his Examples, as to allowDisc. 1. ch. 2. only four Historians among the Romans and not so many among the Greeks, and all of them short of Perfecti­on. And as to the Moderns, he is yet more scrupulous, in admitting them into account, only it had been strange, had he not found two or three of his own Order, Ma [...]eus, Strada, and Mariana, whom he thinks fit to equal with Tacitus and Livy. He designs us a History himself, and to that end has chalk'd out such a method as he means to pursue; but if we may Judge of his veracity, by his perpetually running a Parallel betwixt History and Poem; or of his prejudices, by his par­tiality to his Order, he is not like to out-do his Predecessors: And notwithstanding his great design, we may conclude this Chapter, as he does his Book, That a [Page 121] Compleat History, shall not appear, but in that year, that discovers the Perpetual Motion and the Philosopher's Stone.

Of Chronology.

CHronology and Geography have been lookt upon as the two eyes of History, if these shine dim, our Histo­ry must be yet more obscure; without these it lies in confusion, is only a heap of indigested matter, flat and insipid, and will neither profit nor delight in reading. It is time and place that give Life as well as Beauty, and a naked relation of things, without Circumstance, is very unaffecting stuff: So that as if these can be had, they will be an accession of Beauty, in want of these, there will be as great a blemish. And in what measure we have them, we must next enquire.

And here again I shall pass by the fa­bulous accounts of times, such as the Chinese, Aegyptian and Chaldaean may be justly thought to be; for tho' Is. Vossi­us has attempted the Chinese Antiquity, and the Aegyptian Dynasties have been endeavour'd to be reconciled by our [Page 122] Learned Countryman Sir Iohn Marsham; yet there are so many things to be sup­posed in their Accounts, and so little possibility of proof at so immense a di­stance, that the Systems which they raise are perfectly precarious; and what­ever the aim of those Authors was, I doubt neither of their Books have done Service to Religion. They seem to me like an Hypothesis in Philosophy, which being granted, our Philosophers will ar­gue plausibly upon it, and make a shift to reconcile all difficulties that shall be brought, though the ground they go upon be Fiction and Enchanted: so these men will shift off objections pret­ty plausibly, and lay things together in Specious order, tho' the Foundation they build upon, be laid in the Air.

'Tis true our Accounts of Greece are somewhat more clear and certain, but then they are such as are too recent; if you trace them up to their remote Anti­quities, the Graecians are as obscure as the rest of the World; The Athenians, the most knowing People of that Race, know nothing of their own original; accor­ding to themselves they were [...], and either sprung from the Earth or had no original at all. When their Hi­storical [Page 123] Age takes place, yet their Periods of time are dark and confus'd, and their Chronology is not so ancient as their Hi­story. This has been observ'd by Sir I. Marsham Chron. Can. p. 14, 139., who shows that the Ancient Greeks, were wholly unskilfull in Chrono­logy, especially in the Technical part of it. There was such diversity and inequality in their Years, and such variety in their Periods and Cycles, as did necessarily oc­casion great Confusion; and it was impos­sible they should make right Computati­ons of times, where they had no sure rule to go by: This they had not, and accord­ingly their year was so disordered, and their Recurrent Feasts thereby so unsetled, That Aristophanes Ap. Seld Marm. Arund. p. 233. pleasantly tells us, that the Gods themselves did not know them, and introduceth the God's com­plaining of the Moon, that by her uncer­tain notice of these good times, they were disappointed of their Entertainments, and often forc'd to return back hungry to Hea­ven. Meton was the first who adjusted these differences, and reduc'd their Ac­counts to tolerable Regularity, by the In­vention of that famous Period of nineteen Years, for which he has deserved the honour to be recorded in Letters of Gold; Tho' his Period was not so accurate, as not [Page 124] to be capable of amendment, and therefor [...] was afterwards corrected by Calippus and Hipparchus. So very unsteddy have their computations been. The Arcadians may have been thought to have been before them in this, if you will take that account of their being before the Moon, assign'd by some; by understanding it of their having had a Course of Lunar Years, be­fore the Greeks had fix'd their Periods; unless Scaliger's reason will be thought more probableProleg. ad Emend. p. 3..

Nor are the Roman Computations more Regular: It has been look'd upon as matter of wonder, That the Romans should differ so much in their first and great Epocha, the time of building their City; Onuphrius Com­ment. ad Fast. p. 15. reckons up seven different opinions, most of them main­tained by considerable Authorities, and is not a little amazed at the disagreement. I should have wondred if it had been o­therwise, considering either the darkness of their Ancient History, or the irregularity and unequalness of their Computations. So little regard had they to order in time, upon the Foundation of their City, that their first Years were neither regulated by the Course of Sun or Moon. Romulus in­stituted such a Year as might be expe­cted [Page 125] from a Warlike Prince, and an Il­literate People, consisting of ten Months, beginning at March, and ending at De­cember V. Blon­del Hist. du Cal. Rom. L. 3. C. 1.: and although this Year was soon discover'd to fall short of the Natu­ral Year and Course of the Sun; yet it is probable, he had not Skill, or perhaps Concern enough to correct the Mistake; and the Intercalations that were made, were done in an unskilful, or negligent Manner: So that the Year of Confusion must have happen'd sooner than it did, had he not been succeeded by a Prince, who had more inclination for the Arts of Peace than War. Numa undertook the Calendar, where Romulus had left it, and tho' I do not think he had any assi­stance from Pythagoras, as some have i­magin [...]d Blond. ib. cap. 2., (which I doubt will ap­pear to be a Chronological Mistake) yet he reduced the Year to better order, than could be reasonably hop'd for, in so dim an Age, by adding the two Months, which had been wanting in Romulus's Account, and ordering such Intercalati­ons to be made, as were necessary to set right the irregular Days. But whether it was that his Calendar was yet very imperfect, or that the High-Priests (with whom the power of Intercalation was [Page 126] lodg'd) were wanting in their Duty, or whether somewhat of both concurr'd to the miscarriage; this is certain, that be­fore I. Caesar's time, the course of the Year was so much disorder'd, that the Months had run back into one another, their Winter was run into Autumn, and their Summer into Spring; and had not that wise Prince apply'd a Remedy; their Winter might have run into Sum­mer. These Inconveniences being ob­serv'd by Caesar, put him upon a Refor­mation, which he attempted by his Pon­tifical Power, and the assistance of So [...]i­genes, a skilful Astronomer, and having run all the irregular Days into one Year, con­sisting of Fifteen Months according to Sueto­nius, or of 445 Days, as Cens [...]rinus will have it; by one Year of Confusion, he brought their Calendar again to order, by such a Regulation, as is too well known, to need to be explain'd. However, his Computa­tions (notwithstanding the Skill of the Un­dertaker) were not accurate enough, for in less than 1300 Years from the Council of Nice, to Gregory XIII.) the Calendar and the Heavens were found to be again at Discord, and to vary ten Days in the Course of the Sun, and about four Days in the Course of the Moon, which brought [Page 127] things into such disorder, as to occasion a­nother Year of Confusion, under that Pope, in the Year 1582.

And tho' this Pope's Reformation, has been thought so compleat, as to be styl'd A Perpetual Calendar, and Medals have been struck upon the occasion to perpe­tuate the Memory of the thing, yet he must be a bold Man that will undertake, it shall be perpetual, or will venture to maintain it to be so exact, as not to ad­mit of improvement. This is well known, that it had not been long abroad, till it was censur'd, and its failings discover­ed, by Scaliger and Calvisius, and want­ed an Apology from Clavius, who had been one of the Principal Persons employ­ed in the design; with so little success notwithstanding, that if we will believe Scaliger Scali­ger an. P. 51., it wants a Second Apolo­gy. And unless the Motions of the Sun were perfectly regular and uniform e­ven to Minutes and Scruples, (which ac­cording to the best Calculations they are not) it is scarce possible they should fall under an Invariable Rule. However this be, unless this Calendar were more gene­rally receiv'd, than it has yet been, it is like to occasion further confusion: For whilst it reaches little further, than to those King­doms, [Page 128] under the Obedience of the Pope, and the Iulian Account obtains, in almost all the other Christian parts of Europe, we are cutting out Work for future Critics, who are like to find Employment e­nough some Hundred Years hence, in reconciling the Differences which shall arise from the Old and New Style.

From this Historical Account of Times, I think we have a fair Specimen of the uncertainty of Chronology. Should we remove the Scene from Times to Men, they will further evince this Truth: The two great Men in this sort of Learning, were Scaliger and Petavius, the former of these has taken prodigious pains upon the Subject; which appears in several of his Works, so more particularly, in his great Work of the Emendation of Times, of which he had so good an Opinion, and was so much Complemented by Learned Men, upon his Divine and Im­mortal Work, that a Man would have imagin'd the Difficulties in the Accounts of Time, had been pretty well clear'd, and little left to be done further. His Divine Work had not been long abroad in the World, e're it was taken notice of by Petavius, who had spent as much time in these Studies, as Scaliger had, and [Page 129] is so far from allowing him those migh­ty Praises, that he shows, he had been almost under a continued mistake. A great part of Petavius's Doctrine of Times; is spent in confuting Scaliger, scarce a Chapter in his five first large Books, wherein Scaliger is not mentioned, and his many Errors and Hallucinations dis­cover'd; in such manner, that his Work might as reasonably be entitled a Confu­tation of Scaliger, as a Doctrine of Times. He will scarce allow him to have done any thing well in Chronology, or to have made any considerable Discovery, unless it were in the Iulian Period, and after he had granted him that Praise, as if he had done him too much Honor, he retracts that Commendation, and will not allow him to be the Inventor of that Period, but to have stole it from the Greeks Ac pr [...] ­fecto in tot Scriptis ab eo Chrono­logicis li­bris, nihil fere est, quod momentum aliquod ad rem ullam habeat; quodque reprehensionem effugiat, praeter particulam istam, quâ Iulianae Periodi methodum ex­plicavit—Quanqum in eo castigandus est non nihil Scaliger: quod se periodi illius Inventorem, ac methodi fuisse glorietur, hanc enim [...] Graecis transtulit—Doctr. Temp. L. 9. c. 1. And if that Invention had been allow'd him (which our Learned Primate perhaps with more reason does attribute to a Country man of our own a Biship of H [...]reford) yet it being only a [Page 130] Technical thing, and common measure for fixing and reducing other Periods un­to, and it self no real Period in time; tho' it be of good use, as an Instrument to work with, yet it is no real discovery in the Accounts of time, which notwith­standing this, remain in the same obscu­rity, only they may be rang'd in better order, under this common Period, than they were in before. So that either Sca­liger had discover'd nothing, at least no­thing considerable, or he has been very unjustly censur'd by his Adversary Peta­vius. In many things, no doubt, they have been both of them mistaken; tho' both of them pretend to demonstrate, and in many of their Calculations pro­ceed with Mathematical assurance.

What has been done since, has been chiefly in the Historical part of Chrono­logy, (the Controversie some Years ago, having run much in the Technical, the Reformation of the Roman Calendar, ha­ving probably turned Mens Disputes that way) wherein Father Pagi has ex­cell'd, and from one accidental Observa­tion (to say nothing of his other Disco­veries) concerning the Quinquennalia, Decennalia, and other Roman Feasts, has given much Light to the Roman Fasti, [Page 131] and discover'd the Mistakes of Scaliger, Petavius, Baronius, and most of the Hi­storians and Chronologers, who have Writ before his Time. How far his Observation will hold, Time must show; he seems to glory too much, where he compares it to the Discovery of the West-Indies by Columbus Pagi, Dissert. Hypat. p. 6..

Our late Incomparable Bishop of Che­ster, as he begun to write about the same time with Pagi, so he has done it with like success, and from some dark Hints, and particularly from his Observations upon Plotinus's Life by Porphyry, has gi­ven much light to a very obscure part of History, in his Cyprianic Annals: tho' I cannot altogether have the fame Opinion of his Posthumous Chronological Works: For behold the Power of Prejudice even in good Men! The Bishop in this Work being to fettle and adjust the Succession of the Roman Bishops; it happens that Eu­tychius's Annals were of good use to this purpose, and very agreeable to the Bi­shop's Opinion: Who this Eutychius was, is well known, one whom the Bishop in his Vindication of Igna [...]ius's EpistlesPar. [...]. Cap. [...]., had represented as too modern Authority to be much credited, living in the Tenth Century; and ignorant of the Affairs of [Page 132] his own Church, a trifling Arabic Hi­storian, without Judgment, and contra­dicting himself: And yet this same Eu­tychius, when he favours the Bishop's Opinion, tho' he knew little of his own Church, is good Authority in the Af­fairs of the Church of Rome, where he had reason to be ignorant,Oper. Posthum. Dis. 1. C. 14. and the Bishop is so possess'd with him, that he forsakes our Greek and Latin Authors, to follow his Footsteps; altho' his Autho­rity be really of no value, and he has had that right done him to be contemned by most of those who have taken notice of him; except Mr. Selden, who to gra­tifie his Anger against the Bishop, gave us a part of this Author, and encouraged Dr. Pocock to publish the rest.

We have been promis'd great things of late from Medals and Inscriptions; Ez. Spanheym famous for his Book, De usu Numismatum, has largely shown the Use of MedalsDe Vsu Num. P. 859. in Chronology, which Du Fresne, and Foy-vaillant have since il­lustrated by Example; the one, in the Constantinopolitan Emperors; the other, in the History of the Seleucidae accommo­dated to Medals; and a third has gone so far, as from a few obscure Medals of Herod's Family, not only to call in [Page 133] question the Authority, but by broad Intimations, to suspect of Forgery, both Iosephus, and several others of our best Authors. But besides the dan­ger from a dim Legend or Inscription, where the least stroke, will alter the Sense, or determine the Number very differently; whoever considers, That Annius of Viterbo could forge large Hi­stories, will surely not think it strange, that we should have Forgeries in Me­dals. It is too certain, there have been such, and the thing is so noted, that some Medals are now as valuable, for being exact Counterfeits, as others are, for being truly Originals. And as to Inscriptions, who knows not, that it was generally the way of Flattery, to Complement Princes and Great Men of all sorts, with fulsome Elogies, and that Domitian's Medals and Inscriptions were call'd in after his Death, because he had not deserved such Honors? And tho' I do really think the present French King to be a Wise and Heroic Prince, yet I be­lieve there are few, who would be wil­ling to take his History, from Menestrier's Lewis XIV. from Inscriptioes and Medals.

Of Geography.

A Stranger to Geography, that should read the Voyages of Vlysses or Aeneas, as they are describ'd by the Poets, and should observe the time that is spent, the Removes that they make, and dangers they undergo, in being toss'd from Shore to Shore, would be apt to imagine, they had visited most parts of the habitable World; and yet it is plain, one of them scarce went any further than the Aegean-Sea, and neither of them ever past the Mouth of the Streights: It is much so, with our Ancient Geography, where we have a great noise and little done. The Poets were wise in stopping short of the Straits, for had they launch'd out, and led their Heroes beyond these Bounds, they must have been in danger of being lost, all beyond having been, Terra In­cognita. Nor can this seem strange in the Poets, the Ancient Historians and Geographers knew little farther; Hero­dotus Herod. l. 2. Strab. l. 3. ad init. is lost when he passeth the Straits, Posidonius and Artimedorus in [Page 135] Strabo make the Sun to set there, and A [...]istotle's Philosophy will carry him lit­tle further, who will needs have India to confine upon the Straits, and Hercu­les's Pillars: And indeed it is so far true that the Straits and India did border up­on one another, as India seems to have been a common name amongst the An­cients for Ignorance, for where they knew no farther they call'd it, India: of which Strabo tells usLib. 2. all the Geo­graphers that have writ have given us nothing but lyes. I will not enter upon a narrative of the mistakes of the An­cients, and show how they have con­founded places nearer home, and jumb­led Sea and Land together, how some of them have mistaken the Mediterranean, and joyn'd it with the Persian Sea: How the Northern Seas have been made to run into the Caspian, That is really a Lake; and the Arabian, has been made a Lake, that is well known to flow in­to the Ocean: He that has a curiosity may meet with a plentifull Harvest of such mistakes, in Strabo's three first Books.

Strabo indeed has corrected many of these mistakes, and has deliver'd things down to us with g [...]ter accuracy: [Page 136] But neither is he exact enough; he is too much an Historian, to be a Good Geo­grapher, and wanting Tables and Maps, and the Longitudes and Latitudes being things beyond his Skill, without which it is scarce possible to fix places a right, he must needs err for want of such Helps to guide his Course: And the same may be said of most of the rest of the Geographers, before or soon after his time.

The honour of reducing Geography to Art and System, was reserv'd to Pto­lemy, who by adding Mathematical ad­vantages, to the Historical Method in which it had been treated of before, has describ'd the World in a much more in­telligible manner. He has delineated it, under more certain Rules, and by fixing the bounds of places from Longitude and Latitude, has both discover'd others mistakes and has left us a Method of discovering his own. What these are I need not say, the most considerable may be seen in Agathidaemon's Map of the World, which is printed with Pto­lemy's Works, and is the first of its kind now extant. A man may see there with some pleasure, what Idea the Ancients had of the World, after it was thought, [Page 137] to have been pretty plainly discover'd by Ptolemy's labours: No very clear one you may be sure; amongst other mistakes, the situation of Britain is quite mistaken, Scandinavia a large Peninsula, is divided from the Continent, and contracted into a poor narrow Island; Africa is describ'd without bounds, and no passage allow'd from the Mediterra­nean to the Red-Sea, and it will not be wondred, if the description of India be remote from truth. Lesser errors a­bound in him; how many of this kind have been detected by a late skilful Geo­grapher Cluvet. German. Antiq. Praef. only in one of our European Nations? And how many more might be shown in the rest? And if he could be so much deceiv'd, as he is, in the Description of Cyprus, an Island near Alexandria, and almost at his own door, it will not seem strange, that he should be more out in his accounts of Scandinavia and Britain. It is certainly no commen­dation, that the forecited Author, pre­fers Pliny's accounts to Ptolemy's, who has not been very reputable for his accuracy or truth, and that Strabo (in the Historical part) is preferr'd to them both.

We have had a Geography of late de­ducing all things from the Phoenician An­tiquities, [Page 138] which has appear'd with pomp enough to dazzle men into an Opinion thereof, and thereby to obtain Credit and Reputation in the World. The Author is a considerable Person, and one who in order to establish his Phoenician Antiquities, has successfully enough o­verturn'd those of the Greeks: But when he comes to establish these Antiquities, the first thing he complains of, is, want of MonumentsPraef. [...]d Chan. and therefore flies to the Greeks to fetch them thence; so that we are much in the same place, where we were. However what are these Monuments, which we meet with there? By his own Confession only some loose and broken Fragments, which seem to disover little more, than in general, that the Phoenicians made long voyages, and visited remote Countries; and what is that to us, if they have left us no Charts or Journals, which they have not done? So that at last, he usually takes shelter in the derivation of a word, or place, from a Phoenician Root, wherein, tho' he has been happy enough in his con­jectures, yet this way is principally con­jectural, and too precarious to build a Geography upon. If this be all, I will undertake Goropius Becanus will go near [Page 139] to do as much for the Dutch, Pere Pez­ron for the Celtique, and almost every Country, that pretends to an Original Lan­guage, and has a fanciful man amongst them, will do the like for their own Nation. I am unwilling to oppose this Author, for the sake of his Title, which is Geographia Sacra, and shall readily grant, nay it is what I contend for, that as far as it is Sacred, it is likewise true; but where he leaves Moses, he forsakes his Guide, and wanders as much as the Phoenicians ever did.

I have no design to form a Compari­son betwixt the Ancients and Moderns, they are both alike to me, but the ad­vantage in this, is too visible on the side of the Moderns to be dissembled: They have open'd a passage to a New World, unknown to the Ancients, and those parts of the Old, which have been thought Unhabitable, have been found to be Inha­bited; and their Torrid Zone to be Tem­perate enough, by refreshing Showers, and constant Breezes, and cold Nights, by the direct Setting of the Sun, and in­terposition of the whole Body of the Earth. Antipodes, who have been the Subject of so much Controversie, are to us Matter of Fact, and the Globe it self [Page 140] has been compassed with less noise by Magellan and Drake, than the Phoenicians and Greeks could Coast upon the Medi­terranean. However, least we should swell too much upon our Discoveries, there is yet World enough left undetect­ed to be a Check upon our Ambition.

I am not of his OpinionLa Mothe le Vayer, Vol. 1. P. 825., who thinks that almost one half of the Terrestrial Globe is yet undiscover'd, but by mo­dest Computation, I suppose we may al­lot a fourth part. That there is a vast Southern Continent, as yet scarce look'd into, is now past Centroversie; tho' I much doubt, whether the further Dis­covery would turn to great account; for the Dutch, who pretend to have Sail'd to the 64th. Degree of Southern Latitude, have observ'd Mountains cover'd with Snow; and no farther South than the ut­most Bounds of America, the Straits of Magellan are so Froze in April Nar­borough's Voyage, P. 15., that there is then no passing that way for Ice: So that much of the Country must be cold and barren, answerable to our Nor­thern Climes on this side. The Northern parts of America are yet undiscover'd, nor can it be determin'd, till its Bounds that way be laid open, whether it be a vast Island, or a Contiment. Africa, tho' it [Page 141] has been compass'd round and round from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, yet little more than its Coasts are tho­roughly known, except Egypt and Abas­sia; its In-land parts have been either not sufficiently view'd, or imperfectly de­scrib'd, neither the Merchants Gain, nor the Missionaries Zeal having determin'd their Pursuits to such rude and desolate Countries. And as to Asia, what a pro­digious Compass are we forc'd to fetch about, to come at the extream Regions of that Quarter of the World, most of which might be sav'd, and a Voyage made with half the Charge and Time, could a Passage be discover'd by the North, to Tartary and China: A Passage which has been often at­tempted, but always with disappointment, and sometimes with the loss of the Ad­venturers; and is like to continue, a ne plus ultra, to their most daring Endeavours: Whether we consider the Dangers they are expos'd to from rough Winds, in a Clime intensly cold; or from Mountains of Ice, which are the Rocks that are most fear'd in those Seas; or the Difficulties in making their way in thick Mists and Fogs; or what may happen worse, in Nights of some Months continuance, and no Moon either to direct their Course, or give them [Page 142] Light. To say nothing of a vast Ridge of Mountains, which has been observ'd by our late MissionariesLe Compt. Memoir. Let. ult. to stretch it self forth into the Tartarian Sea, the Cape whereof has never yet been doubled, and probably never may; it being doubtful, whether these Mountains may not reach to the opposite Coast, and join America with the Asian Con­tinent: So that the bounds of Asia on that side, as well as the opposite American Coast have been hitherto hid from our Enquiries.

There is one thing yet very lame in our Geography, the fixing the true Lon­gitude of places; and tho' several new ways have been lately try'd, to redress this Inconvenience, both from exact Pen­dulums, and from Observations upon the Immersions and Emersions of Iupiter's Satellites, yet they have not altogether prov'd effectual. For want of this, Chi­na has been plac'd in our Maps five or six hundred French Leagues further di­stant, than it really isLe Compt. ib., and an ima­ginary Country found out, to fill up the vast intermediate space; and Vossius, who delights in Paradoxes, (who has magnify'd Old Rome to above Seventy Miles in compass, and its Inhabitants to fourteen Millions of PeopleVar. Observat. P. 23, 34. ib. P. 168. has re­mov'd it yet farther off. And tho' the [Page 143] Jesuits of the Mission, have pretended to rectifie this Mistake, from the Mathe­matical Observations above-nam'd, yet neither could Vossius see into the strength of such Arguments, and I much questi­on, whether they would have obtain'd Credit, had not a Missionary of the same OrderAvril. l. 2. determin'd the Matter in a more undeniable way, by opening a Pas­sage from Muscovy to China, and by marking the several Stages, and showing, from undoubted Relations, it was only a Journey of so many Days. And yet the difficulty is greater at Sea, which is not capable of being so easily measured, and where the Observations in our Telescopes cannot be so regularly made, as they may upon firm Ground; and there it is, the Je­suits themselves complain, they are at a loss.

Vossius has assigned such a reasonVar. Observ. p. 169. of the variety in fixing the Longitude of the Eastern part of the World, as may be ex­tended further, and be of excellent use in Speculations of this Nature. Upon the discovery of the West-Indies, by the Spa­niards, and a Passage open'd by Sea near the same time, to the East, by the Por­tuguese; Alexander VI, by the Power which Popes have of disposing of Tem­poral Kingdoms, did by solemn BullsMa­rian, l. 26. [Page 144] dispose of this new World to these two Nations; and having divided it into two Hemisphaeres, the Western Hemisphaere he allotted to the Spaniards, and the Ea­stern to the Portuguese; a Division which the Dutch and English have not thought themselves obliged to submit to. How­ever, the Division was made, but when the Parties came to claim their respective Shares, a Question presently arose about fixing their Longitude, and the Pope's having not been then Infallible in Matters of Fact, especially in such as depend upon Mathematical Calculations; the two Na­tions were left to end the Controversie be­twixt themselves. The great Contention was about the Molucca-Islands, which the Spaniards claim'd as theirs, and the Portu­guese pretended, fell within their share in the Division, and Men of Skill being con­sulted on both sides: the Spanish Geogra­phers went one way, and the Portuguese went another, and so far were the two Na­tions from coming to agreement, that they differ'd almost forty Degrees in their Cal­culations, which is a large proportion of the whole Globe; and yet so obstinate were both in their Accounts, that Orders were given by public Edicts, that the Degrees and Meridians should be no otherwise [Page 145] fixt in their several Charts and Maps, than as they have been determined by the two Nations. How much the one side was mistaken, has been since better known, the Conclusion was, that whilst the Longitude was determin'd, in such an unaccountable manner, by public Edicts, and absolute Power, it occasioned strange confusion in our Degrees and Meridians, of which Vossius thinks, we have not re­cover'd since.

But granting the Globe to have been nicely measured, has it withal been as accurately described? I doubt not. How are our Modern Geographers perplext in making out the S [...]tuation of Ancient Pla­ces? Babylon once the most Glorious City upon Earth, is almost as much hid [...]uyts p. 492., as the obscurest Village ever was; nay, they often stumble, where they tread in known Paths. Ferrarius has given us a Geographical Dictionary, pretending to be Universal, afterwards so much En­larged and Corrected by Baudrand, as to seem a new Work; they were both of them Men noted for their skill in Geogra­phy: Notwithstanding which, their joynt Work had not appear'd above Twelve Months in the World, till Monsieur Sanson had discover'd five hundred FaultsNouv. de la Rap. An. 84. p. 310. only [Page 146] under the first Letter A. A Work of the like Nature has been since publi [...]h'd in En­glish by two other extraordinary Persons, and tho' no Sanson has yet made his Ob­servations upon it, yet I will undertake with the little skill I have in Geography, to show greater Mistakes under the Let­ter A, than any that occur in Ferrarius, or Baudrand. To name only one, the Azores are there describ'd as the same with the Canary Islands; which is an Error of worse consequence, and more inexcusable, be­cause the first Meridian is usually placed in these Islands: And yet they stand thus in the correct and enlarged Edition.

Of Civil Law.

WE have certainly one great Proof of the Excellency of the Roman Laws, from the consent of those many Nations, by whom they have been re­ceived; and that too where there is no Living Authority to enforce them, and they come recommended only by their own native force: T [...]e Roman's Laws have lived longer, and spread wider, than [Page 147] their Arms ever did, and the Conquests of their Wisdom have been greater than those of their power. However, there is only one perfect Law, a Character to which no Humane Ordinance can have any claim, and of which the Roman Laws will be found upon Examination to fall much short; notwithstanding the Reputa­tion of Wisdom that they stand possess'd of.

The Twelve Tables contain the first Grounds of the Roman Laws, and having been Abridgments of those of Solon at Athens, and those of the other Cities in Greece renown'd for Knowledge, added to the Ancient Customs of Rome; if there be any Wisdom in Humane Con­stitutions, it might be expected to be met with there. It was of these Tables, that Cicero pronounced under the Per [...]on of Crassus De O­rat. l. 1., that they were of more Use and Authority, than all the Books of the Philosophers. We have only some Fragments of them left Collected by Baldwin and others; amongst which, as there are some things hard, so that Law which permits the Body of the Debtor to be cut in pieces, and divided amongst his Creditors, for want of Payment, is not only Cruel but Barbarous. Baldwin Com. de Leg 12. Tab. c. 46. himself cannot quote it without Ex­clamation; [Page 148] and Quinctilian who could give a colour to most things, and as a Ro­man was concern'd to do it in this, yet where this Law comes in his way, rather seeks to excuse itAp. Bald. ib. than offers at its de­fence. The best thing he says for it is, that it was then antiquated, and as such we leave it with the rest of that Set, and pass on to those, that are now in force, the Imperial or Iustinianean Laws, and will see what Exceptions can be made to those.

They are principally reducible to two Heads, the Pandects and the Code, whereof the first contains the Opinions of Learned Lawyers; the other, the Decrees of Roman Emperors. As to the Institutes, they usu­ally go along with the Pandects, and are only a Compendium, or useful Introducti­on to young Beginners: and the Novels are a Suppliment to the Code: The Feuds are not of Roman Original, but Customs of a later Date, and meaner Extraction.

The Civilians who pretend that if the Latin Tongue were lost, it might be found in the Book of Pandects, would take it ill to be thought mistaken in the Word Pandect, which although a MasculineH. Steph. de abus. Ling. Gr. p. 12., is generally us'd by them in a Feminine Signification: This is a light Error, only it is in the Threshold. It will not be de­nied, [Page 149] the greatest part of the Pandects are writ with purity enough, they have that from the Authors, and the Age they were writ in, and so much is own'd by those Critics, who have been pretty se­vere upon the other Tomes of the Law, and therefore I shall make no Objection here: No more than I shall, that the Emperor by whose Order they were col­lected, is under no very advantageous Character for Learning, that which Sui­dus gives him being [...], a Man that did not understand his Alphabet: For tho' he were unlearned himself, he might employ Men of Understanding, and if Tribonian were such, who was the great Instrument in that work, his Laws will have no less Authority upon that account: But so it happens, that Tribonian's Chara­cter is worse than the Emperor's, not for his Understanding but Integrity, being re­presented by the same AuthorSuid. ad Tribon. as a Cor­rupt Person, one that writ Laws and took them away, and prostituted Justice for the sake of Lucre, one that comply'd with his Prince's Passions and Humors, and flatter­ed him almost to Adoration. I know Sui­das's Authority is suspected, in both these instances, and therefore I should lay the less weight upon it, did not Iustinian seem [Page 150] to countenance the charge in his own Con­stitutions V. Con­stitut. de Cod. conf. & de Conc. Digest. ubi. Divina nostra, Numen nostrum, &c., where he assumes such Titles and Honors, as Tribonian is said to have given him. However I charge nothing upon this Emperor, I only cite his Words, and leave others to judge of and reconcile them.

But whatever Tribonian's other qualifi­cations were, I doubt we have too much reason to blame his want of care, and to suspect the Conception of the Pandects, as well as the other Tomes of the Law, was a hasty work, and not digested with that accuracy, which a work of that vast im­portance might justly require. For where­as in his time the Books of the Law, had been g [...]owing up above 1000 years, and had then swoln to that Bulk that they were contain'd in 2000 Volumes, so many as could not easily be read in some years, much less compar'd and digested and re­concil'd; Tri [...]onian with his few Assistants had overcome all these difficulties in a short time, and in three years had fini­shed the Digest and Institutes, then added to the first draught of the Code; which last in all probability, having been com­pos'd too hastily, was forc'd to undergo an Emendation and to come forth in a second Edition. And doubtless the Di­gest [Page 151] might likewise have been more cor­rect, had it cost more years, and had had Trihonian's second Care. The Emperor himself seem'd surpriz'd with the Di­spatch, for as before it was undertaken, he styles it an infinite Work, such as none of the former Emperors had ventured to un­dertake, or thought possible; so after it was finish'd within the Compass of thr [...]e Years, he plainly ownsConsti­tut. lb., he did not i­magine, it could have been effected in less than ten. Accordingly the marks of hast have been observ'd in the Work: In some places too short and consequently obscure, in others redundant and [...]he same things repeated only in different words, or from different Authors; Antinomies are almost unavoidable in such variety of Opinions and Answers, and sometimes inextricable difficulties occur, by mangling the Sense and curtailing Authors: Some things in that or the Code seem not so cons [...]stent with the CanonsWin­d [...]ck, Can. & [...] con­s [...]ns & di [...].; and other Cases yet harder have been citedPa [...]q. Rech. l. 9. c. 41. by a Learned Advocate. A great part of it is spent in Cases and subtle Opinions, possibly of greater Learning than real advantage in the common uses and occasio's of Life; and all these are left us much indigested, in loose and broken Sentences, not in such [Page 152] method as is suitable to a Regular Body of Laws. Most of which particulars have been taken notice of by [...]ud [...]eus, Hottoman, Valla, and others.

Nor is the Code less liable to Censure, for besides that it wants much of the puri­ty and Learning, which appear in the Pan­dects; Tribonian [...]s unskilfulness or insin­cerity do more visibly display themselves here. For whereas, almost all the Books of the Ancient Lawyers are now lost (the blame whereof, if some Mens suspicions may be credited, will fall heavy on the Emperor or Tribonian) from whose la­bours the Pandects were collected, and therefore we are less able to Judge, of any unfair dealing that has been shown there; Many of the Emperor's Constitutions do yet remain and have been preserved in the Theodosian Code, from all which it is easie to determine, what sort of treatment, the Imperial Constitutions have met with, in Tribonian's new Compilation. Some of the Constitutions have been alter'd with­out Judgment, and others in such a man­ner as betray no little ignorance in the Com­piler; in some the words are struck out, that determine the Sense of the Law, and again words added that give it a new▪ one one Law is split into two, and sometimes' [Page 153] two are run into one; the time and date are often mistaken, and sometime the Per­son; the knowing of both which does af­ford great light to a Constitution: With other mistakes, which I should not have ventur'd to have put down, had they not been shown at large, in a Learned Preface and more Learned Prolego­mena to the Theodosian Code: A Code of such use to this day, that there is no understanding Iustinian's Law without it; and formerly of such Autho­rity that for several hundred years after Iustinian's time it did obtainV. Seld. Dis. ad. Flet. c. 5. v. Pasq. Rech. l. 9. ch. 36. in some of the Western parts of Europe, when Iustinian's Law was in a manner extin­guish'd and forgot, and must have been in danger of perishing at least in the prin­cipal part of it, the Pandects, had it not been preserv'd, in the Pisan or Florentine Copy, from which all our other Copies Ant. August. Emend. l. 1. c. 1. have been taken; and is now us'd as Law: So that by a strange Reverse of things, Iustinian's Law which for so ma­ny Ages was lost or neglected, does now obtain, and the Theodosian Code is in a manner antiquited: The Theodosian Code was the better Law, till the Reign of Lotharius, when Iustinian's Law begun to revive; and now, it seems, Iustinian's [Page 154] Law is better than that, and Time, or Chance, or Opinion shall determine their worth. It is plain Iustinian's Law had not the same esteem at its birth, as it has since acquir'd by Age, since it could go in­to disuse so early after its conception, as to make it a question, whether it obtained its CoursePasq. Rech. l. 9. C. 33. in Iustinians own reign? Or if it obtained then, as doubtless it did, it kept its ground a short time till the Reigns of Basilius and Leo, when Iustini­an's Law was Abridg'd and Reform'd by those Emperors, as he had done by the Laws before his own time; and these Em­perors Laws obtained in the East under the Title of the Basilic Constitutions) till the dissolution of that Empire, as the Theodosian Code had done in the West. So that if we might measure things by Suc­cess or Duration, Iustinian's Laws have not yet been long liv'd, and what is more sur­prising, it might perhaps be made a que­stion, in what Sense they live now? For if we will believe a noted Author, who had reason to understand their Authority and ExtentSr. W. Temp. vol. 1. p. 161. they have not now the force of Laws, either in France, Spain or Holland, (some of the most considerable Nations in Europe) but have only the force of Good Reasons or Authority [Page 155] when alledg'd, but the Customs and Sta­tutes of those Places, are only Laws. An [...] of this Opinion Mr Selden [...] 6. seems to be, as to some other European Nations.

After the Consideration of the Pan­dects and Code, if I should take in all those large Volumes, that have been writ upon them, I should make no end. The first attempts of this kind were pretty modest, only by explaining the Text in short Glosses, which was Ac­cursius's method: But he having not had the assistances of Humane Learn­ing and particularly of the Greek Ton­gue, the want of these have betray'd him to gross and childish mistakes: And it is a wretched Gloss, where a Sentence of Greek occurs in the Text, Haec Graica sunt quae nec legi nec intelligi possunt. And yet his Authority is great in the Law, much greater than that of his Son; of whom it is said he never made a good GlossV. Gry­phiand. de Ins. p. 9, 10..

Commentaries succeeded Glosses and have swoln to a larger Bulk: In this kind, Bartolus is of great name; whose Authority is as much valu'd in some Nations amongst the Modern Lawyers, as Papinian's was among the Ancients: [Page 157] who, as he was to be follow'd, where the Opinions of the Lawyers were equally divided,Duck de usu. l. 1. c. 8. so Bartolus's Opinions of late have been of like force. He was confes­sedly an extraordinary Man, and might have done more service in his Profession, had he not liv'd under the same Infelici­ty of times, and wanted the same helps that Accursius did, whereby he dash'd against the same Rocks. It was from him, we have had that noted and almost Pro­verbial saying that has cast some reproach upon the Law,V. vit. Bart. ap. Freher. De verbebus non curat Iurisconsultus, and odd expression for an Interpreter of that Law, one Title where­of is, of the signification of Words: But this was a Title, that he did not care to meddle with, and which his Enemies have charg'd him, with not daring to ex­plain. Notwithstanding all his Faults, he ought not to have been treated so re­proachfully by L. Valla, and the Men of Polite Letters; for however unpolish'd he may be in his his Style, or nice or obscure in expressions, or however igno­rant in History or Roman Customs, it is certain, he is not that Goose and Ass, that Valla Op. p. 632. would make him; and that he has more Law, tho the others may have more Learning.

[Page 156]The Polite Men of this Set, who gave the last turn to the Law, were Alciat, Cu­jacius, Budaeus and others; they have in­deed restor'd the Law to its primitive Purity and Lustre, and cloath'd it in a more Elegant Dress, and made that a pleasant study, which in the hands of Bar­tolus and Baldus was uncouth and rugged; They have given it all the advantages of Humane Learning, and ransackt all the Stores of Arts and Sciences to fetch thence Beauties to adorn it: But whilst they have busied themselves in various Learn­ing, and attended to too many thing at once, they have been thought wanting in the one main thing; and have had less Law, than many of those whom they censure and despise. Ant. Augustinus, who should have been nam'd with the first of this Rank and Order, does in a manner confess the charge, and owns that Budaeus whilst he had been too much di­stracted, in attaining the Tongues, had made no great progress in the knowledge of the Law. The most considerable im­provements, that have been made by these Men, have been principally upon one Title, about the signification of Words, in which, however they may have excel­led, they have been rewarded by Bartolus's [Page 158] [...]ollowers with no better Character, than [...]at of Grammarians and Critics. And [...]deed many of their Discoveries are not [...] remarkable, and some of them [...] a Catalogue of which may be had [...] Gentilis's two last Dialogues, [...]. because it is too sportful, I forbear [...] That wherein they [...] excell being the Signification of [...], will be allowed to fall much short of the knowledge of things.

One thing should not have been omit­ted, that has occasion'd no little obscu­rity and confusion: when the Law by the Bulk and Number of Books that were Writ, was grown too voluminous, a way was taken up of contracting it into a narrow Compass, by short Notes and Abbreviations: This way was found to be of such use and so compendious, that it prevail'd much, but its inconvenience was quickly discover'd from the Am­biguity that such short Notes were sub­ject to, and therefore they were forbid by a ConstitutionCod. l. 1. Tit. 17. of Iustinian. However the mischief was not so easily remedy'd as forbid, for it still prevail­ed, and that almost in Iustinian's own time, and some of them have crept into the Florentine Pandects, which tho' not [Page 159] so Ancient as Iustinian, (as some have been of opinion, but whom this very thingV. Ant. Aug. E­mend. l. 1. c. 1. does sufficiently confute,) yet must be granted to have been writ soon after; and at last they grew to that height, and occasioned such Confusion and Am­biguity, that several Treatises have been writ to explain them; a Collection of which, and a Specimen of the notes may be had in Putschius. Even of late they have been found so troublesome, that the Italian entred them in his Prayer, a­mongst the three Evils he Petitioned to be delivered from, (he might have depre­cated greater Evils) and after, Dafuria de villani, and Da guazuabuglio di medici; Dagli & caetera de not ai, was the third Pe­titionV. Her [...]. Hug. de. Orig. Scr. c. 21..

And here again, as in the entrance up­on this Chapter, I must profess my esteem for the Roman Laws, which I would by no means be thought to undervalue, and all that I infer or pretend to prove is this, That no human Laws are exempt from faults, since those that have been look'd upon as most perfect in their kind have been found upon Enquiry, to have so many.

Of Canon Law.

I Have no design to bring contempt upon the Ancient Canons, which were doubtless, very well fitted for the occasions of the Church in its purer A­ges; having been fram'd by Men of Pri­mitive Simplicity, in free and conciliar Debates, without any ambitious Regards. That which is justly complain'd of, is, that these Canons are too much negle­cted, and a New sort of Discipline e­rected in the Church, established upon different foundations, and oft-times for different ends with the former; which is so notorious, that it has given occa­sion to a distinction amongst some Mem­bers of the Church of Rome, betwixt the Old and New Law: Especially a­mongst the French, who pretend that the Gallican Privileges, are chiefly Re­mainders of the Ancient Canons, which they have preserv'd against the Encroach­ments of the Roman Pontif. For that Prelate having taken advantage of the fall of the Roman Empire, and of the [Page 161] confusion among his Neighbours, upon the inundation of the Goths and Vandals and other Barbarous People; and of the igno­rance that ensued thereon; made a pretty easie shift to erect a New Empire, and for its support it was necessary to contrive and frame a New Law. I shall not re­count the several advances that were made in the several Ages; Is [...]dore's Collection was the great and bold stroke, which tho', in its main parts, it has been since discover'd V. Blond. Pseudo-Is. & Tur. Vap. to be as impudent a Forgery as ever was, yet to this Day stands recorded for good Authority in the Canon Law.

The two principal parts of this Law, are, the Decrees, and the Decretals, which, to give them the greater face of Authority, answer to the Pandects and Code in the Civil Law: For as the Pandects contain the Answers and Opinions of famous Lawyers; and the Code, the Decrees made and Sentences given by Emperors; so the Decree consists chiefly of the Opi­nions of the Fathers and Definitions of Councils; and the Decretals, of the occa­sional Sentences and Decrees of Popes. As to the Clementines and Extravagants, which may answer to the Novels, they are only Suppliments to the other two parts, and we have yet no Institutes in the Canon [Page 162] Law. For as to Lancelottus's Book of In­stitutes, which Dr. Duck seems to make a part of the Corpus, he is therein mistaken, if it be his Opinion, for wanting Sanction and Authority,Dou­ [...]at Hist. du Droit. Can. Par. 2. Cha. 20. it is only yet a private work.

The Decree carries contradiction in its very Title, being Concordantia Discordanti­um Canonum, or a Concordance of disa­greeing Canons: Or if there were none in the Title, I doubt there are too many in the Body of the Work, which have occa­sioned innumerable Glosses and busied the Canonists in reconciling them. It having been compiled by Gratian, in an Ignorant Age, we ought not to be too nice in exa­mining it, and perhaps it were unreaso­nable to require too much accuracy, a­mongst so much Ignorance; and therefore if his Style in Latin be somewhat course, or if in quoting a Greek Father or Coun­cil, he mistakes their meaning, or gives a wrong one, that might easily be forgiven him, Greek being a Language, that was not understood in that Age, and was ra­ther the misfortune of the time, than his own: But then if he gives us such Fathers and Councils as have no Being, or if he mistakes a Father for a Council, or a Coun­cil for a Father; this surely is not so par­pardonable, [Page 163] and yet this is what he has been charg'd with,Ant. Aug. D [...] Emend. Grat. Di [...] al. [...], &c. by Authors of his own Communion. And among the Jesuits, who are not usually wanting in the Cause of their Church, Bellarmin owns, that he has quoted a Heretick instead of a Father. And the poor Monk having pro­bably never seen many of the Decrees and Councils, that he had occasion to use, nor trac'd his Authorities to their Fountains, but having made use of others Collections, it was impossible but he should fall into mistakes▪ which are so numerous, espe­cially in the names of Persons and Places, that a Man had need of good skill in Hi­story, and of a New Geography to under­stand him a right; and without such helps, one may easily lose himself in travessing the Decree.

It might be expected that he should be pretty exact in the names of Popes, these being his Law-givers, whose Authority he makes use of upon all occasions, and yet even in these he sometimes miscarries, and gives us such names as were never heard of in Ancient Story. I can never read him, but he puts me in mind of a late no­ted Author, who has given us a Church History of Bishops and their Councils; for as in that Book, you may meet with a Coun­cil [Page 164] at Araufican, V. Mr. P. & D [...]. M's An [...]. Another at Tole [...]ane and a third at Vienue near France, with o­thers as remote from knowledge, as these are; so in Gratian, you may find like mi­stakes, only altering the Language, a Con­cilium Aur asicense, Anquiritanum, Bispalense, and more of the like nature: one would be tempted to think, that Mr. B. had stu­died the Canon Law and had borrow'd his Authorities from thence.

After so much Ignorance we are not to wonder, if Gratian have no very favour­able Opinion of Humane Learning, which is condemn'd in the Decree, more particu­larly Poetry and Logic: Those of the high­est order in the Church, even Bishops themselvesV. Di­stinct. 37. Episcopus Gentium lib [...]os non legat— are forbid to read Books of Heathen Learning, and St. Ierom's Au­thority is urg'd who was reproved by an Angel for reading Cicero. It is true, the Canonists endeavour to reconcile this, by alledging other places in the Decree, where Learning is allow'd, and by showing it to be Gratian's way, to cite differing Canons and Opinions to the same purpose; and I will grant so much if they please, but then it can be no great co [...]mendation of a Law, that it contains such contrary Opi­nions, that it must be another Man's work to reconcile them. Nor does his Morali­ty [Page 165] exceed his Learning; the Decree in case of two Evils, the one of which is unavoidable, allows us to chuse the lessDi­stinct. 13.; which altho' the Canonists would understand of the Evil of punishment, yet it seems pretty plain from the Text, and the Instances there produc'd, that it must be understood of the Evil of Sin; in which Sense the case can never hap­pen, unless we will admit of a necessi­ty of sinning, which is as impossible in Morality, as any the greatest difficul­ty can be, in Nature. That which fol­lows in the 34th. Distinction is yet worse, is qui non habet uxorem, & pro uxore Concu­binam habet, à Communione non repella­tur; which in modesty I forbear to tran­slate, and could hardly have believed it, to have been in Gratian: And when I first met with it there, I thought it had been only to be found in some old Editions, and concluded with my self, it must be amended in that more correct and authoriz'd Edition by Gre­gory XIII. But was still more surpriz'd, when I found it stand there uncorrect­ed, as if there had been no hurt done. I think nothing can be said worse, unless what is said by the Learned Ant. Au­gustinus in his fifteenth Dialogue of his [Page 166] Emendation, to be in some Books of Gra­tian be so, Qui non habet uxorem, loco illius Concubinam habere debet. If any thing can be said worse of them, than they have said themselves, it may be had in Luther Oper. Tom. 2. p. 120. Wit. who began the Reforma­tion with burning the Canon Law, and in vind [...]cation of what he had done, made a Collection of such Articles, as were most liable to give offence. I have not yet compared his Quotations with the Text, and therefore do not put them down, but if they be faithful, I am sure there is enough, to give a Man a hard opinion of the Canon Law.

The Decretals, tho' not altogether so gross as the Decree, are more Imperi­ous, having appear'd in the World, when the Papal Power was grown to its full height, and having been compiled by Gregory IX, and consisting principally of the Constitutions of Innocent III. the first of whom wag'd almost a continual War with an Emperor; and the latter Subjugated a King, and call'd him his Vassal, nothing better could be expected. For tho several Conciliar Decrees and Canons were intermix'd with the Pa­pal Constitutions, yet they are with such Exceptions and Reservations to the [Page 167] Pope's dispensing Power and absolute Dominion, that they became useless: Popes were now become the Fountain of all Power, and both Princes and Coun­cils were brought under their Obedi­ence. It is expresly said in the Decre­tals Lib. 1. Tit. 6. Cap. 4. That no Councils have prefixed Laws to the Church of Rome, inasmuch as all Councils do borrow their Authori­ty from that Church, and the Papal Au­thority is excepted in them all. And In­nocent, in the Title, De Majoritate, ex­alts the Papal Power as much above the Regal, as Spiritual things are better than Temporal, or the Soul Superior to the Body; and having compar'd these two Powers, to the two great Lights in the Firmament, infers from thence, That the Pontifical Authority is as much Superior to the Regal, as the Sun is greater than the Moon. Upon which there arising some difference, concern­ing the proportion of Magnitude, betwixt these two Luminaries, and consequent­ly betwixt these two other great Powers; the Gloss does learnedly refer us, to Ptolemy's Almagest to adjust the propor­tion. But I need not cite particular Con­stitutions, a good part of the Decretals turning upon this point, and resolving all [Page 168] into a Monarchical Power at Rome: For which reason the five Books of Gre­gory Doujat. Hist. du Droit Can. Par. 2. Ch. 15. 17. have not yet been received in France without Restrictions; no more than the sixth Book of Boniface VIII. has been.

The Clementines, notwithstanding a good part of them were given in a pretended General Council at Vienne in France, yet are no Conciliar Decrees, only the Constitutions of Clement V. Such having been the manner of some of the late Western Councils, That the Bishops were only Assessors or Advisers, on at the most Assenters, and the Pope a­lone defin'd in a pretty absolute man­ner; and therefore they are not styl'd Decrees of such a Council, only the Constitutions of Clement in the Council at Vienne. The Extravagants are tedi­ous things, and want that Majesty, which Brevity gives to Sanctions and Decrees: Both they and the Clementines have this besides, that having been compil'd in the Scholastick Age of the Church, they are mixt with Theologi­cal Questions, and are as much Divini­ty, as Law.

[Page 169]Nor is the Gloss better than the Text, which, however it be of great Autho­rity among the Canonists, yet it may be justly question'd, whether it deserves so much? For to take things as they rise and to go no further than the first Page of the Decree: Gratian having be­gun his Book very properly, by distingui­shing betwixt the several sorts of Right, and having said that Ius, was so called because it was Iust. The Gloss upon this observes, that there is a Right that is neither Equitable nor JustQuan­doque est aliquod jus, quod non est ae­quum nec justum. Dist. and produceth Instances, that are neither pertinent, nor prove the Point; and then concludes, that in all Cases upon a Reason and for publick Good, Rigor is induc'd against natural Equity, and in some Cases without a Reason. Take another Instance upon the Decretals,Lib. 1. Tit. 1. which beginning with the Symbol, of our Faith: upon that the Author of the Gloss enquires into the Nature of Faith, and having pass'd the Apostle's account, as an imperfect Definition, gives a much more insufficient one of his own; for which he is justly chastiz'd by Erasmus: And as for the word Symbol that should not seem to be over difficult, he derives it from, Syn, and Bolus, which [Page 170] in the Language of the Gloss does sig­nifie, Morsellus; and then enquiring in­to the number of Symbols, he adds a fourth to the other three; for no rea­son that I can see, unless it were that they might answer to so many Gospels. Besides other less mistakes upon the same Title, which I pass over, because the same Gloss says, that, Modicum quid non nocet, and cites the DecretalsLib. 5. Tit. 3. c. 18. for it, where modica res, is said not to induce Simony; and yet the Modica Res, there mention'd, is a Horse.

The Canonists are too numerous to be mention'd he [...]e, and therefore I pass them over, and indeed they generally keep to their Text, and run out upon the pow­er of the Pope, to the great Diminuti­on of Councils or indeed of any other Authority: And whereas in that large Collection of Tracts that was publish'd at Venice, there are two gross Volumes concerning the Power of Popes, and their Cardinals; it is very observable that there is scarce any thing said of Councils, unless by such, as will be sure to subject them to the Pope. That Haughty Bishop is their darling Theme, and one of them has gone so low, as to write a Tract,Joseph. Stevan. val Tract. De adoratione Pedum Romani Pontificis, Tom. 13. about the Adoration of his Feet. Nor shall [Page 171] I insist upon the differing Opinions and Constitutions in the Decree and Decretals, in how many things they interfere and cross, and in how many more, they con­tradict the Civil Law. Baptista à Sancta Blasio, has furnish'd us with two hundred contradictions betwixt the Canon and Ci­vil Law: Zanetin has discover'd a great many differences of the same kind, and I suppose it were no hard matter, to swell the account yet higher: But I leave those, we have already, to be re­concil'd by the Learned in the Law.

Of Physic.

IF any Credit may be given to Pliny Lib. 8. c. 26, 27. we shall have no reason to boast of the Invention of Physic, two great O­perations in that Art, having been owing to two inconsiderable Creatures. Bleed­ing and purging have been taught us by the Hippopotamus and Ibis, the former of which being over-charg'd with Blood, breaths a Vein by rowling himself among the sharp Reeds of the Nile; and the lat­ter sucking in the Salt Water, administers a Cathartic, by turning her Bill upon her Fundament. I will not vouch for my Author, (whom if I would make use of, it should be to a different purpose, in showing, how little reliance there is up­on our Natural History) although the account he gives here of Physic may be as true, as theirs is, who fetch its Original from Aesc [...]lapius and Apollo.

It is doubtless ancient, Men's necessity and desire of Health did put them early upon this search, and Hippocrates who liv'd 2000 years ago has left a Treatise concerning ancient Physic; so that it was [Page 173] ancient in his time. But the Physic then in use was chiefly Emperical, Hippocra­tes brought in the Rational way, and what he did in this Art, did so far surpass others labours, that their Works are in a manner lost and forgot; and Hippocra­tes who was then a Modern, is to us a very ancient Author. His Age gave him Authority, and altho that, and his short way of writing, have rendred him less intelligible to ordinary Readers, yet he was almost universally follow'd: His A­phorisms have been lookt upon as Maxims, and Macrobius Hippo­crates—qui tam fallere quam falli nescit Lib. 1. speaks of his knowledge in such lofty strains, as are only agreea­ble to God Almighty. Notwithstanding, of late he has been discover'd to be a frail Man, his Aphorisms have been examin'd, and the danger detected, in blindly fol­lowing great Names; and how mischie­vous the consequences may have been, in an implicit submission to all his Rules, may appear from one, which once crudely swallow'd, has cost so many lives, all which might have been sav'd, had the contrary practice been ventur'd upon sooner, which is now foundBoyl. us. Expe [...]. Phil. Par. 2. p. 5. to be not only Safe but Salutary.

Galen as he differs from Hippocrates in some things, so he follows him in the [Page 174] main, and both in explaining his Author; and where he gives us his own Sentiments▪ is somewhat tedious; he tires and distracts his Reader as much by being too large, as the other does, by saying too little, which yet might be excus'd, had he in so many gross Volumes and different Trea­tises, left us a Compleat Body of Physic. But this he is so sar from having done, that it scarce seems to have been in his design; most of his pieces having been under­taken with particular views, either to gratifie Friends, or as helps of memory, or exercises of invention. His Anatomi­cal Pieces, which have been cry'd up a­bove measure, have been less admir'd, since nicer Observations have been made in Anatomy, than he was capable of ma­king; and those which he has made, are often erroneous, for want of Comparative Anatomy, in comparing and distinguish­ing, betwixt the Bodies of Men and Brutes: Most of his Observations having been made upon the latter, and it being que­stionable, whether he ever saw the disse­ction of a Human Body. Even his Trea­tise De Vsu Partium has been censur'd, as in many things grounded upon Inferences of his own, rather than upon Observations [Page 175] from Experience and View; and the Parts are described there in such order, as none will think fit to imitate, unless any Man can find method, in beginning with the hand and proceeding to the Foot, and so up again to the Belly. And tho he has been remarkable for his care and tender­ness of Life, which he has express'd, as in other Instances, so particularly in be­ing against publishing exquisite Treatises of the Nature of Poysons, yet I question whether it will be thought another In­stance of it, that he sometimes took away six pounds of BloodDe cur and. Rat. per Sang. mis. cap. 14. in a Fever: And bled his Patients, till by fainting they could bear no longer, for which he was twitted in his own time, as appears from his BooksDe Meth Med. l. 9. c. 4. and was said to work Cures by muthering Diseases.

Whatever faults he had must have been deriv'd upon his Successors, for as he commented upon Hippocrates, so the fol­lowing Physicians have copy'd Galen. The Greeks Oribasius, Aegineta, and Aetius have in a manner transcribed him; and Avi­ [...]en and the Arabians have done little more, than translate Galen into their own Tongue: And their Translations having not been over Faithful, and the Version double; first from the Greek to the Ara­bic, [Page 176] and from that back again into the Latin, they cannot be depended upon without eminent hazard, especially in the names of Drugs and Plants, where the mistake in a word, may endanger a Life. They were subtle Men, and most of them Logicians, accordingly they have given method, and shed subtilty upon their Aa­thor and little more can be said for them.

The Chymists have appear'd with so much Ostentation, and with such Con­tempt of the Arabians and Galen, that we have been made to expect Wonders from their performances. Paracelsus who would be thought the Head of a Sect, has treated the Galenists so rudely, as if they were the most ignorant Men in the world, and had little skill beyond a Plaster or a Purge: Tho neither ought he, to have vaunted so much of his Discoveries; One of his great AdmirersHel­mont. Chym. Princ. having shown, that some part of his skill was stole: And it is some prejudice against him, that a Man who pretended to such immortal Remedies, should himself die in his for­ty seventh year, whereas Hippocrates and Galen are said to have lived beyond a Hundred.

If there be any thing certain in Chymi­stry, it ought to be their first Principles, [Page 177] which the Chymists have substituted in the place of others, which they have thought fit to explode; and pretend that theirs are so evident from the Analysis of Bodies, that there can be no room for doubt; and yet whereas at first we had only three of these Principles, their num­ber is already swoln to five, and who knows whether they may stop there? Or whether their practice be better ground­ed than the Principles they go on? For tho great Cures have been effected by Chymical prescriptions, and those too in a manner less cloying and nauseous, than the former practice would admit of, by separating the Faces, with which the Ga­lenical Medicines are clog'd; yet the que­stion will be, whether they be not attend­ed with other inconveniences? Whether they be equally safe, and have no dange­rous consequences to discourage their use? It will not be deny'd that the Chymical Preparations are more vigorous and po­tent in their effects than the Galenical are, and often work such Cures, as the other gross Medicines have not activity enough to effect: But then, as their activity is great, is not the danger so too? And does not the same power, that enables them to heal, empower them to destroy? And [Page 178] whilst the Cures are recorded, are not the miscarriages forgot? Have not our Enterprising Chymists sometimes preser­ved life, only to make it the more mise­rable? And sav'd their Patients by ruin­ing their Constitutions? Have not their strong Opiats often disorder'd the Head? And their too free use of Mercury, Anti­mony, &c. the whole habit of the Body? If such Cures be offer'd me, I hardly ac­cept them. He is the true Physitian, who attends to all possible Consequences, who does not heal one Disease, by procu­ring us a worse, but restores such a life as a Man can enjoy; but where shall this Perfect Man be found?

Some have gone as far as China to find him out, of which People's skill such Wonders have been reported, as the Chymists themselves can hardly pretend to. The Circulation of the Blood, which with us is a Modern Discovery, has been known there according to Vossius Var. Ob. servat. p. 70. 71. 4000 years, they have such skill in Pulses as is not to be imagin'd, but by those that are acquainted with them; and the Arabians are there said, to have borrow'd thence their knowledge in Physic. Even the Missionaries who have reason to know them best, grant, that there is some­what [Page 179] surprising in their skill of Pulses, Le Let. 8. tell us they have made observation in Medicine 4000 years; and that when all the Books in China were ordered to be burnt by the Emperor Chiohamti, those in Physic were preserv'd by a particular ex­ception. But yet they likewise acquaint us, that most of their skill is built upon Observations, which have not been im­prov'd, to such purposes as they would have been by the Europeans; and that for want of Philosophy and Anatomy the great Foundations of Medicine, their Notions are confus'd, and their Practice in some things ridiculous. The Chinese are an unaccountable sort of People, strangely compounded of Knowledge and Ignorance; they have had Printing among them, and Gun-Powder, and the use of the Compass, long before they came a­mong the Europeans; and yet for want of due improvement, these useful Inven­tions have not turn'd to any great account; and Physic has had the same Fate. So that after all our Travel, the most con­siderable improvements in this Art, are most probably to be found at home; and being so near, need not be much enquir'd into.

[Page 180]We have generally Men enough ready to publish discoveries whether real or pretended, whilst deficiencies in most Arts are often conceal'd or pass'd by in silence. What noise have we had for some years about Transplantation of Dis­eases, and Transfusion of Blood, the lat­ter of which has taken up so much room in the Iournal des S [...]avans, and Philoso­phical Transactions; and the English and French have contended for the discovery; which notwithstanding as far as I can see, is like to be of no use or Credit to either Nation. The retrieving the Ancient Brittanica has made no less noise, Muntin­gius has writ a Book upon it, and we were made to hope for a specific against the Scurvy: A [...]ter all it is like to come to nothing, and Men lose their Teeth and die, as they did before. The Circula­tion of the Spirits is a third Invention, which, if I might have leave to judge, I should think scarce capable of being prov'd; for neither are the Spirits them­selves visible, nor, as far as I know, does any Ligature or Tumor in the Nerve discover their Motion. The Circulati­on of the Blood has indeed been said to be demonstrated to Sense by Monsieur Leeuwenhoek, by the help of his Glasses, [Page 181] and Men have been look upon as dull, that will not see it. I will not question the Fact, tho' I cannot but observe that a late Italian Hom. Piso Cre­won [...] An. 90. ap. Act. Lips. Author has in effect done it for me, who either has not met with M. Leeuwenhoek and his Experiments, or cannot see so clearly in his Glasses as he does; which however it be ought to be some check upon assurance. I might enu­merate a world of such like particulars; Anwald's Panacea discuss'd by Libavius, and Butler's Stone so much magnified by Helmont, were as much talkt of in their own time as most things we can pretend to, and yet they are dead, and have been buried with their Authors.

The most considerable real Discove­ries that have been lately made, have been in Anatomy, and Botany: no Man in his right wits, will contest the former; tho' the Discoveries in that kind have been rather in the parts of the Body, than in the Humors and Spirits and B [...]ood, which are the principal Seat of Health as well as Disease: For the first seem design'd for Strength and Mo­tion, and fall not improperly under the Surgeon's skill; the latter are the Seat of Life and under the consideration of Physic, and are yet imperfectly understood. Till [Page 182] these be thoroughly known, which per­haps they never will, there will be one fundamental Deficiency in our Physic.

Another great deficiency was ob­serv'd by my Lord Bacon Adv. of Learn. l. 4. c. 2. in his time, that will I believe always hold, and that is in Comparative Anatomy: He then gran [...]ed, as we may with more safety, that simple Anatomy had been clearly handled, and that the several parts had been dil [...]gently observed and described; but the same parts in different Persons had not been duly compared, nor have they yet been; tho we may differ as much in the inward parts of our Bodies, as we do in our outward Features, and that dif­ference may occasion great variety in Ap­plication and Cure. This is a deficiency that is not like to have a speedy remedy, requiring more dissections than most Men have opportunity of making,

Nor are the deficiences less in the Bo­tanic part; for tho' this sort of knowledge be mightily enlarged, since the discovery of the East and West Indies, by opening a vast Field, and giving a much a larger range to it than it had before, yet the great difficulty remains still to be o­vercome: our Herbals, it is true, are sufficiently stor'd with Plants, and we [Page 183] have made a tolerable shift, to reduce them to Classes, and to describe them by Marks and Signatures, so far as to distinguish them from one another: But as their Cha­racteristic marks are known, are their Virtues so too? I believe no Man will venture to affirm it. The qualities of many of our Plants and Simples are yet in the dark, or so uncertain in their ope­rations, that they are rather matter of Curiosity, than Subjects of Skill: Or where some of their Vertues are too remarkable to be conceal'd, yet they act one way singly, and quite other­wise in Mixture and Composition; or they may have one effect, when out­wardly applied, and a quite different one when taken inwardly, after they have undergone so many alterations in the Blood and Stomach, as they must do, before they can reach the part af­fected; and they may again vary, ac­cording to the different temper of the Bodies, to which they are applied. It is not enough to say, their natures may be known by being Chymically resol­ved, for their effects are often very disproportionable to the principles and parts that result from the Analysis; there are other parts more subt [...]e, and yet [Page 184] most active and vigorous in their Opera­tion, that act upon the Spirits, as the gros­ser part do upon the Blood and Humors, and those the subtilest Chymists, and the most exquisite Analysis will not be able to reach.

In short, whether we consider our Bo­dies, or our Medicines, Physic must be the most uncertain thing imaginable: Our Bodies are more compounded and unequal than other Bodies are, most o­ther Creatures live upon a simple Diet, and are regular in their Appetites; where­as Man feeds almost upon every thing, Flesh and Fish, Fruits and Plants, from the Fruit of our Gardens to the Mush­rom upon the Dunghil; and where Appetite fails, the Invention is call'd in to swell the Account; high Sauces and rich Spices are fetch'd from the Indies, which occasion strong Fermentations and infinite disorder in the Blood and Hu­mours: Hence proceed such variety of Diseases as perplex and distract the Phy­sician's Skill. A sound Body and heal­thy Constitution is easily restor'd when out of order, Nature in a great measure does its own work, (a noted instance whereof, we have in Cornaro in Lessius, who by regularity and temperance had [Page 185] brought an infirm Body to such a temper, that he was not troubled with any Dis­ease, and any wound in him would in a manner heal it self) whereas in a dis­ordered Body, every little thing is Wound and Disease, and a Physician must give a new Constitution, before he can per­fect a Cure; this is a hard tryal upon our Physician, and yet by our way of li­ving we often require it.

It is the harder, because his Medi­cines and Methods of Cure will not ena­ble him to work Wonders; For tho' our Materia Medica be large enough, and to look into our Dispensatories, one would think no Disease incurable, yet the mis­chief of it is, all those fine Medicines, do not always answer in the Application, nor have they been found so Soveraign in our Bodies, as they are in our Books. All which things have so distracted our Physicians, that they vary even in the most common Methods: At one time they keep their Patients so close and warm, as almost to stifle them with care, and all on a sudden the Cold Regimen is in vogue; In one Age Alkalies are in fashion, and in the next Acids begin to recover Credit; Antimony at one time is next to Poyson, and again, the most innocent thing in [Page 186] the World, if duly prepared; Bleeding is practis'd in one Nation, and condemn­ed by their Neighbours; some People are prodigal of their Blood, and others so sparing, as if so much Life and Blood went together; Helmont and his Follow­ers are for the latter way, Galen and Wil­lis and their Followers, encourage the former: and all of them, as you will ima­gine, with equal assurance.

Of Critical Learning.

CRiticism as it is usually practis'd, is little more than an Art of finding Faults, and those commonly little ones too, and such as are of small importance to the Scope and Design of an Author. Mon­sieur Bayle was sensible of this, whose first design was to publish a Dictionary of Faults, but was diverted from his Pur­pose, by his Friends representing to him, that they were not considerable enough to be insisted on: And yet he had that to say for himself, that they were such as were taken notice of by Scaliger and other noted Critics, either some mistake in a Name, Time, Place, or other minute Circum­stance. The truth of it is, Criticism is at a low Ebb, Men will be finding faults in Authors, and yet our store is well near ex­hausted, for there are few Faults in this kind, that have not been taken notice of.

Erasmus and the first set of Critics had Matter enough to work upon, a long Age of Ignorance had cut out sufficient Employment, by vicious Copies and ob­truding [Page 188] Spurious from Genuine Authors; the distinguishing of which was a Work of Use and Skill: But after the Business is pretty well done, the Vein of Criti­cising still continues; Men will play at small Games rather than want Employ­ment, so that our Modern Critics have usually either degenerated into Gramma­rians, or if they soar higher, it is too of­ten, by venturing too freely upon those Books, which ought to be handled with greater tenderness: Their business some­times is in finding Faults, where there are none, or in perverting the Sence, that they may make room for Correction. And for as much as these Men do find Faults with all the World, they have no reason to take it amiss, if one who is none of their Number, does find one or two, in them. I shall seek for no more (nor have I room in the compass of a Chap­ter) but they shall be in two Critics of Name; one of whom has writ the Art of Criticism, the other, A Critical History of the Old and New Testament.

The former, Monsieur le Clerc, is as free in his Censures, as any Man I ever met with, and oft times as Unhappy: He begins with Erasmus, for I take the first thing I meet with, whom he expo­seth [Page 189] Ars Crit. cap. 1. p. 13. Ed. Lond. as ignorant in Geography, for ha­ving in his Notes upon Act. 28. mistaken Rhegium, a City in Italy, for a Town in Si­cily; and for having took Melita an Island, either for Mitylene a City; or the same Island, that is situate in the Mediterranean, or African Sea, for an obscure Island in the Adriatic: and then falls foul on him, as a Man that had scarce ever seen a Geogra­phical Map. It seem'd very strange to me, that Erasmus who is known to have writ his Commentaries upon the new Testa­ment, with the Map of the Roman Empire always before him, should be guilty of such Errors in Geography, and therefore I had the curiosity to consult the Author: I have not so bad an Edition of Erasmus, as Mons. Le Clerc quotes, but I consulted the worst Edition I could meet with; in that, he is so far from placing Rhegium in Sicily, that he expresly says, it is a City in Italy, and cor­rects St. Ierome for having been guilty of so gross a mistake: And as to Melita the Island, he directly distinguisheth it from Mitylene the City, which Island he placeth betwixt Africa and Sicily, a Situation ve­ry different from that, which Monsieur Le Clerc endeavours to fasten upon him.

Monsieur Le Clerc in the next place is angry with Erasmus for quoting Hugo [Page 190] Carrensis, being an Author of no Credit, and one who liv'd in the Scholastic Age, and seems to think he was led into his Mistake, by trusting so mean an Autho­rity: It is true, Erasmus does quote Hugo Carrensis, but it is only to make sport with him, as he does sometimes with the Scholemen, and Monsieur Le Clerc need­ed not have gone above ten Lines further for a convincing Proof of this, where Eras­mus calls upon his Reader to laughIn Act. Apost. c. 28. v. 11. at Hugo Carrensis for his Critical Observation upon the Sign of Castor and Pollux.

Well! But Erasmus is not yet clear of Monsieur Le Clerc, for he remembers, that Erasmus somewhere in his Notes upon St. Ierom's Epistles, mistakes the City Mity­lene for the Island Melita, only [...] he forgets the particular place, but it is somewhere, where St. Ierome mentions St. Paul's Ship­wrack: I always suspect a Man where he forgets the place, and therefore I will help his Memory; it is in St. Ierome's Epistle to Oceanus in the first Tome of Erasmus's Edition; where, if Erasmus reads Mitylene I suppose it was only because, it was the same word, which was us'd by his Author St. Ierome, for both of them make it an Island and expresly the same where S. Paul suffered Shipwrack, and without questi­on [Page 191] the same, that Erasmus meant in his Notes upon the Acts. If Erasmus be to be blam'd in any thing, it is for ma­king St. Ierome, read Mitylene instead of Melita, for in all the MSS. that I have seen of that Father, and I have seen more than one, the reading is, Me­lita: But I dare say that is more than M. Le Clerc knows. Erasmus may have had mistakes in Criticism, for tho' he tells us of himself, that his care in publishing St. Ierome was such, that it cost him almost as much pains, in restoring his Works, as it did the Author in writing them; yet Marianus Victorius Epist. Pio Quarto pretends to have made 1500 Corrections upon him barely in the Edition of that Father; and the Benedictines, no doubt, have ad­ded more. But as for M. Le Clerc's at­tacks, I dare be confident, they will nei­ther hurt St. Ierome, nor any of his E­ditors; tho' he falls as foul upon the Be­nedictines, as he does upon Erasmus. He would gladly make the World believe, that they understand not Greek, and in­deed they pretend less that way, and therefore their chief care hitherto has been in the Latin Fathers, in which they have deserv'd great Commendation: But as to M. Le Clerc's Critical observationTom. 2. cap. 13. [Page 192] which he passeth upon them with so much Contempt, it is so far short of proof to me, that I cannot but think their mistake bet­ter than his Correction, I am sure more agreeable to St. Ierome's meaning.

He has past the same censure in ano­ther WorkPatres Apostol. A [...]t. 98. upon one who has less deserv'd it, the Learned Sorbonist Cote­lerius, who has not been susepcted of want of Greek, till M. Le Clerc took him to task, he has caught him tripping in his Greek, where all things were plain, and tells us he has shown it in his Notes upon Barnabas and Clemens. For my part I can meet with no material Corrections upon either of these Authors, and the only thing he chargeth him with in his Pre­face is, That he renders, [...], Ca­pitulatim, which in M. Le Clerc's opinion, should be summatim, which in reading our Animadverter, a Man, would think Cote­lerius had done, either in Barnabas or Cle­ment's Epistles. I have read over hastily these three Epistles; I will not be over­positive, but I am pretty confident, the word does not occur in any one of the three; and if it be to be met with in the Clementines, it is nothing to the Animadver­ter's purpose; for we are not to expect to meet always with Classical Greek there, [Page 193] or with words, always in the sense of Classical Authors. Cotelerius Barnab. Es. p. 1. has rendred the Verb [...], as M. Le Clerc would have it; and if he have rendred the Adverb otherwise, it is pro­bable it was not from mistake, but judg­ment. Had M. Le Clerc consider'd, that there is a sort of Ecclesiastical Greek, very different from the Classical, he would have been more reserv'd in his Censures. But this is a sort of Greek, wherewith he seems not to be much acquainted. St. Ierome, who understood this sort of Greek better than ei [...]her of them, has re [...]dred [...] by, re­capitulare Ad E­phes. cap. 1. v. 10.; and tho' M. Le Clerc should oppose, I must think St. Ierome a good Translator.

Our Historian is a Critic of a higher form, but sets out as unfortunately as M. Le Clerc has done: To recommend the Critical Art to the World, he tells us, that in St. Ierom's time several Ladies of Quality, made Criticism their Study; and to prove thisHist. Crit. du Vieux [...]est. p. 1. 2. quotes an Epistle of that Father to Iunia and Fretella, which shows them to have been knowing in the Greek and Hebrew. The Hebrew was so little known in that Age, that perhaps St. Ie­rome was the only Person of his Time, that understood it perfectly, except the [Page 190] [...] [Page 191] [...] [Page 192] [...] [Page 193] [...] [Page 194] Jewish Rabbins, who were his Instru­ctors; and this Father Simon knows very well: But as to the Father's two Ladies, I can assure him, there were none of that name that understood a word of either Language: for Sunnia and Fretella were two Learned Men of St. Ierom's Acquain­tance. Somewhat of this was observ'd by a Friend of Vossius Let. a M. Iustel.: and if Father Simon have any doubt of the thing, I have that Epistle now before me in two very fair Manuscripts; in both which it is, Dilectissimis Fratribus Sunniae & Fre­tellae. This is no very great mistake, but it is always ominous to stumble at the Threshold.

I will not trace him through his mi­stakes; I will only Note one other, which an Englishman has better oppor­tunities of examining than other Men have. Father Simon Hist. Crit. du N. T. c. 30, 31, &c. Hist. des vers. c. 3, 5, &c. has not taken more pains upon any one Subject, than he has done upon the ancient Manuscript Cambridge Copy of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, and two other Manuscript Copies of St. Paul's Epistles; the one in the King of France's Library; the other in the Library of the Benedictines of St. Germain: In the Latin Copies, of which he thinks he has discover'd the Ancient Vulgar Latin, as us'd in the Western [Page 195] Church, before St. Ierom's time, to whom we owe the Vulgar now in use. I should be as glad, and would go as far to meet with the Ancient Vulgar of the New Testament, as any Man shall do; but cannot be of Opinion, that Father Simon or Morinus have met with it in these Manuscripts. For to speak only to the Cambridge Copy: Any one that has ob­serv'd that Manuscript, knows, that the Latin Copy answers the Greek so exactly, that there are very few various Read­ings: So that if the Latin be Ancient, as the Vulgar undoubtedly was almost as Ancient as the Preaching of the Gospel at Rome, the Greek probably is so too; and it will hardly be imagin'd, that had there been a Latin Copy so exactly agreeing with the Greek Original, before St. Ie­rom's time, that he would have ventur'd upon, or have thought a new Translati­on necessary. St. Ierom's manner of re­forming the Ancient Vulgar was, by com­paring and reducing it to the Greek Ori­ginal: but here was a Copy already, a­greeing with the Greek. If it be said, the Greek in that Man [...]script may be a more Modern Copy, but still before St. Ie­rom's time, and that the Latin is translated from it: This may be true; but then the Latin is no longer the Ancient Vulgar, but a later Version.

[Page 196]There is one pretty probable way of trying it, by comparing the Citations in the New Testament, with the same Texts, as they stand in the Ancient Vulgar, in the Old. This I have done in the Psalms, and am far from meeting with any exact agreement: The same Observation will hold, in the Old Ecclesiastical Writers, as far as the Vulgar can be trac'd there; and I believe Hilary the Deacon, who has been noted for keeping closest to the Old Tran­slation, will be no exception to this Rule. Had Father Simon been as quick and dili­gent in observing Differences, as he has been in marking Agreements, perhaps he would not have been so hasty in drawing his Conclusion: In many things there is an agreement betwixt the Ancient and Modern Vulgar, but no Man will conclude from thence that they are the same.

Father Simon truly observesHist. N. T. c. 30., that the Greek in these Manuscripts, is very faulty, and grounds an Argument there­upon, that they could not for that Rea­son be brought from Greece. Had that Father had a Copy of the Latin Version of the Cambridge Manuscript, as he has of the Greek, he would have found, that the Latin is the more faulty of the two; and that not only in the Orthography, [Page 197] but Concord. For what would he think of Hic verbus, Joh. c. 21. v. 23. Or of, Retiam, v. 6. and repeated, v. 8. Or of, Cumesset in Mesopotamiam posteaquam mortu­us esset in Charris, instead of, Prius quam moraretur in Charan: Act. 7. v. 2. Or of, Esset ei Filium, v. 5. Or of, Iustitias coe­pisset cum genus nostrum, v. 19? All which mistakes are to be met with in two Chap­ters, and more, which I forbear to men­tion, as I do to translate those I have mention'd because I would not uncover the nakedness of this Version. But tho' mistakes of this kind be so common, as to occur pretty frequently in this Manu­script, yet they are not very agreeable to the Style of the Ages before St. Ierom. We have enough left us of the Ancient Vulgar, to enable us to judge of its Style, by all the Remainders of it we have, tho' it has not Elegancy, which it did not affect, yet it appears to have been writ with tolerable Purity; whereas the Ver­sion we are now speaking of, is uncouth and rude, and almost barbarous.

What then shall we think of it? Whatever the Version is, or whenceso­ever it is taken, the MS. it self seems to be Gothic; and probably both are of the same Extraction, and were done after [Page 199] St. Ierom's Time, when the Goths had over-run the Empire; and Father Ma­billon De Re. Diplom. p. 347. the greatest Judge of MSS of this Age, sets the second part of this MS. no higher. We have already seen the Version is rude, and suitable enough to these Times, and Dr. Marshal Ad Evang. Goth. p. 403. [...]84, &c. up­on the Gothic Gospels has observ'd such an agreement betwixt those Gospels and the Cambridge MS, that he thinks them to be taken from the Greek of that Co­py; and this agreement he has shown in several particular Texts. The Cha­racters in that MS are many of them Go­thic, and Father Simon, who thinks he has met with Greek Letters in the Latin Copy of the Second Part of this MS, and Grounds an Argument upon it, is un­doubtedly mistaken, for they are only Gothic Characters several of which have a great affinity with the Greek: The Abbreviations are often the same in the Cambridge MS and Gothic Gospels, and the Numbers express'd by Numeral Let­ters, ϊ and γ̈ are sometimes pointed, and ει, for ι, put down after the Gothic way; and Eusebius's Canons are plac'd in the Margin, in a rude manner, without Marks of Distinction to make them use­ful, with other Gothisms, that might be [Page 199] observ'd, did I design this, for any more than a Hint or Specimen. One thing is too observable to be passed over, that whereas our Saviour's Genealogy in St. Luke, is placed in Columns in the Gothic Gospels, it is put down in the ve­ry same manner in the Cambridge MS, which is the more remarkable, because the rest of that MS is writ in long Lines, and the Words run into one a­nother. From all which, one would be apt to infer, That this Copy was taken under the Goths, that it is com­pounded of the Ancient and Modern Vulgar, which were both of them in use in the Gothic Churches, and parti­cularly in Spain two or three Centuries after St. Ierome's Time; tho' in many things it differs from them both; as it needs must, whilst it keeps so close to a Greek Copy much differing from any Copy, either Printed or Manuscript that we now have. It has been taken from a Copy fitted for Ecclesiastical use: For that it has been taken from such a Copy, appears from the [...], or Les­sons markt in the Margin Rubric-wise; and from the Word [...], sometimes put at the end of a Lesson, to denote the Conclusion of a Reading. That [Page 200] these are the Marks of such Copies has been observ'd by Father Simon Hist. N. T. Ch. 33., and he needed only have apply'd them to this Manuscript, to have shewn it to have been taken from a Copy of this Na­ture. I am so far satisfy'd, of its ha­ving been taken from such a Copy, that I once thought it, to have been fitted for the Churches of the Greek Empire, when both Greek and Latin were spoke there, as they were from Constantine, till after Iu­stinian; in like manner, as they yet have the Bible in two Tongues in such pla­ces, where the People are of two Lan­guages: But I think I have reason to al­ter my Opinion.

What Father Simon further conje­ctures, concerning the French MSS of St. Paul's Epistles being the Second Part of the Cambridge Copy, is undoubtedly true of one of them; For besides that in a Catalogue of the Books of the New Testament, at the end of one of these, MSS Morin. l. 1. Exerc. 2. c. 3., the Gospels are placed in the same order, wherein they stand in the Cambridge Copy, St. Iohn immediately after St. Matthew, and the agreeableness in the Character betwixt the Cambridge and Benedictine Copy, according to the Specimen of it, we have in Mabillon P. 347.. [Page 201] There is a Fragment of St. Iohn's last Epistle, betwixt St. Mark's Gospel, and the Acts of the Apostles, not altogether in the same hand, but in a Version some­what different from the present Vulgar which shows, the Catholic Epistles have been there, and that the Book was once intire, bating only the Revelations, that were not for some Ages, so universal­ly receiv'd in the Church.

If I have brought the Age of this MS too low, or lessen'd its Authority too much, I shall be ready to alter my Opi­nion upon better Reasons, for I am not much concern'd for the Reputation of a Critic. I hope I shall always have a due Concern for Religion and the Church, and that my opinion should be true, I think, is the interest of both: For this Copy differing so much from all others, the less Authority we give it, it will be able to do the less hurt. I am sure they have set it too high, who fetch it from Irenaeus, or St. Hilary, both which Fathers were Born before the Goths had Letters; for that the Characters are Gothic, I think I may be pretty positive. For this Reason I shall never desire to see it Print­ed, tho' a worthy Person seems to have that Design and a Scheme has been mark­ed [Page 202] out to that purpose: But I hope that Learned Body, in whose Custody it is, will have more regard to the Will of the Donor, whose first Intention, it cer­tainly was, that it should notV. Bez. Epist. ad Acad. Can. be publish'd.

Its various Readings have been given us already in the Polyglott Bibles, tho' not over accurately, and sufficient care ta­ken that it shall not, In uno exemplo peri­clitari; And what would the Critics have more? Even Father Simon has procur'd a Copy, from England, tho' I much su­spect, it is no other than those various Readings: The Father tells us, Morinus had it from Iunius the Library-keeper of Cambridge, by such a mistakeHist. N. T. Ch. 30. as a­nother Critic has given us a Magdeburgh College at Oxford. But of this perhaps too much.

I will only offer one Criticism, in or­der to wipe off a Blot from the English, that has been unjustly cast upon the Na­tion, either by the Author, or Interpreter. I have already said in another Chapter, that Chalcocondylas does report of the En­lish, that upon a Visit made to a Friend, it is permitted the Stranger by way of Complement to Lie w [...]th his Neighbour's Wife: This the Learned Interpreter of [Page 203] Chalcocondylas does plainly say, and it stands so in the last Royal Edition of that Author: But the Word in Greek, is [...] * which one would suspect was rather meant of Kyssing; no doubt some wandring Greek had been in England, and having observ'd our way of Kyssing our Neighbours Wives, which might as well be let alone, had reported it to Chalcocondylas in a Word of nearest affini­ty in the Greek, and thereby given occa­sion to this Mistake. This Account seems so probable, that (with Submission to the Critics) I durst almost venture from thence, to add one other Word to our Glossaries.

Of Oriental Learning, Jewish and Arabian.

IT has been an old Question, and much debated amongst▪ Learned Men, whether greater Profit or Inconvenience ariseth from reading the Jewish Books? On the one hand it is alledg'd, that the Hebrew Tongue, and Jewish Rites and Customs, can be no way so well learnt, as from themselves; and that as in order to understand the Greek and Roman Po­lity, it is necessary to read Greek and Latin Authors: So if we would be ac­quainted with the Jewish affairs, we can­not learn them better, than from their own Books. On the other side, they have been charg'd with gross Ignorance, even in their own affairs; and their Books said to be so stuffed with Trifles, or, what is worse, with poysonous Opinions, that the profit in reading them will not countervail the danger. Accordingly they have met with a very different Fate; At one time they have been order'd to be read and studied, as by Clement the 5th, Cle­mentin. l. 5. Tit. 1. [Page 205] in the Council of Vienne: And again, the Talmudic Books have been adjudg'd to be burnt, as 12000 Volumes were by public Order,V. Sixt. Senens. l. 2. p. 120. only out of one Library at Cremona; And had not the Famous Reuch­lin advocated for them under the Empe­ror Maximilian, they had been in dan­ger of an Universal Ruine.

In such variety there may be need of distinction; And therefore the Jewish Writers may be consider'd two ways, either as Witnesses, or Interpreters: In the first sense, they have been Faithful Depositaries, and very useful in handing down the Sacred Volumes, and in pre­serving the Text intire: In the other sense, their Skill or Authority, as Inter­preters, has not been thought very consi­derable.

The great Reason whereupon their Books have been valued, has been their seeming Antiquity: In the last Age, we have been told of Books as Old as Abra­ham and Ezra, that have had the fortune to be believ'd by wisemen;V. Mo­rin. l. 2. Exerc. 6. cap. 1. Ex­erc. 9. cap. 8, &c. and could their Rise be trac'd up and deri­ved from such an Original, they would have reason to be valued: But this Vi­zor has been taken off, and their No­velty or Imposture has been detected: [Page 206] Morinus has brought down most of them several Centuries from their boast­ed Height. Their Talmud that has been commented upon by the Modern Rab­bins, has been shown to be little older than the Age of Iustinian, the first Au­thentic mention we have of the Misna, or Text of that Book (for the Gemara, or Comment must have been yet later) being in one of his NovelsNovel. 146., and pro­bably, the Contention among the Iews about receiving it, had given occasion to that Law. Origen and St. Ierome knew nothing of that Book; who notwith­standing were inquisitive Men, and know­ing in the Hebrew, and having had op­portunities of consulting their Hebrew Masters, and occasions of citing them, and having done it in things of less moment, could not have avoided mentioning this, had it been then in being, and so noted, as to be a standing Law Ecclesiastical and Civil among the Iews Morin. ibid. Ex­erc. 6.. Their two Books Bahir and Zohar, so venerable; among them for their mighty Age, have been brought down yet lower; tho whatever Age they be of, they can be of no use to any, being only a heap of Cab­balistical NicetiesBuxtorf Bibl. Rab., which tho much valu'd by such Men, as admire every [Page 207] thing that is abstruse and hidden, are suf­ficiently known to be nothing better than Jargoon and Cant. The truth of it is, few of their ancient Books have been thought much better, being either so mystical, as hardly to be understood, or so full of Gross Legend, as to force them to take shelter under Allegories to reconcile them to sense. There is little Light to be bor­row'd from them, for almost a 1000 Years after the last Destruction of their Tem­ple; and tho about that time, some of the Modern Rabbins began to introduce Learning, yet this was no part of their Rabbinism, but a departing there-from; most of the Learning they had was bor­row'd from the Arabians; and Maimoni­des, Qui primus inter suos desiit nugari, by mixing Philosophy and Reason with his Comments, in order to make their Books speak sense, thereby gave such offence, that he was continually persecuted for it by his Brethren,Buxtorf Praef. in Mor. Ne. vocb. and hardly escap'd be­ing branded for à Heretick. They that have taken the same way, ought upon their Principles to fall under the like Censure; and it ought always to be remembred, that the modern Rabbins have done best, whose Authority by their Age is inconsiderable, and their Skill not so extra­ordinary, [Page 208] as to need be imitated by Chri­stians, who now understand their Lan­guage as well, and their Critical and Phi­lological Learning much better than they do themselves. Even Maimonides Mor. Nevoch. Par. 1. cap. 67. con­fesseth of his times, that the Iews were not then skilful in their own Language.

I am not ignorant with what design some Men have decry'd the Rabbins; whatever their design may have been, they may have spoke truth, and at the same time mistake their aim: We have the less reason to be jealous of them, since they are not the only Men that have gone this way: For to pass by Luther, who has treated the Rabbins very rug­gedly In Gen. cap. 16, &c. Let us hear what a great Pro­fessor, Reuchlin's Scholar and Successor says of them, one who had spent all his Life, and part of his Estate in these Studies; Ioh. [...]. In his Preface to the Dictionary (one of the first considerable ones of this kind) he gives this account, ‘In them is no light, no knowledge of God, no Spirit, no true and solid Art, no Understand­ing even of the Hebrew Tongue— they have done nothing worth notice towards understanding the Sacred Text; Their Dictionaries and Comments have brought more obscurity than Light or [Page 209] 'Truth—’And then goes on to challenge them in matter of Fact, and to point out a better way than that which they have follow'd, and such as himself has pursu'd.

He may have gone too far in depressing the Rabbins; if he have been too warm in decrying them, doubtless others have gone too great a length the other way, who have studied the Talmud so long as to draw Contagion from thence, and al­most become Rabbins themselves: A Countryman of our own has exceeded in this, who tho he has only commented upon one Book, has had such Faith in the Talmud, as to believe, ‘That many of its Traditions were divinely deliver'd to Moses in Mount Sinai, which it was not lawful for Moses to divulge in writing; but being transmitted down orally to his Posterity, they are related to us in the Talmudic Books.’ V. Praef. ad Cod. Io­ma. Multa Alkgorica & p [...]a di­cta, quae Antiqui Rabbini à Deo exagi­tati [...]j [...]us (que) numine ab­repti pro­tulerunt, in scriptis Talmudic it continen­tur. Ibid. And least this should not be enough, he is of opinion, ‘There are many Allegorical and Pious Sayings contain'd there, that were utter­ed by the ancient Rabbins, when heated with the Divin [...]ty, and mov'd by God.’ Could any Iew have said more? Or could it be imagin'd, a Christian would have said so much? If these be the Fruits of Rabbinical Enquiries, surely they were [Page 210] better let alone. That a Man that is con­versant in these sort of Studies should un­dervalue all other sorts of Learning, is no new thing; it is what has been observ'd, and for which a reason may be given: For these Enquiries being out of the way, and not every Man's possession, vulgar Studies must be despis'd by Men of un­common Attainments, and those only va­lued that are difficult and uncommon. Or that others should imagine they find Eloquence in the Rabbins, and should compare Abravanel to Cicero, and Aben-Ezra to Sallust Sim. Crit. Hist. l. 3. c. 7., is not very strange; for Men are apt to find Beauty in Blemi­shes, where they have plac'd their Affe­ctions: But that Men should proceed to Idolize them, no other Reason can be as­sign'd, but that which is given for all Idols, and that is, that they are all of them vain.

Because the Rabbins have been said to have borrow'd most of their humane Learning from the Arabians, I will like­wise speak one word of them. As the Iews have borrow'd from the Arabians, so have the Arabians from the Greeks; For they were so far from having any Learn­ing of their own, that the true Arabs, the Descendants of Ismael, had no Letters; and their Language must have been lost, [Page 211] had it not been preserv'd in their Poems, that were compos'd by their Ancient Bards Pocock ad Spec. Arab., and by their facility being easily learnt, were deliver'd down from hand to hand. Other Learning they had very little, except Poetry, till having o­ver-run the Eastern Parts of the Greek Empire, they were taught it by the Van­quish'd People, who translated the Greek Authors for them into their own Lan­guage; and the Arabians being Men of quick Wits, refin'd so much upon their Authors, that Aristotle became more sub­tle in the Arabic, than he was before in his own Tongue; and so much was he admir'd in that Dress, that he was turn'd from thence into Latin, with Averroes upon him; and for some time, one was not thought to understand Aristotle a­right, unless he had read him with Aver­roes's Comment. But this humor held no longer than Averroes came to be un­derstood, (understood I should not have said; for perhaps no Man ever under­stood him, but till he came to be better look't into,) for then his over-great Ni­cety was not only d [...]scover'd; but besides other Errors, he was charged with the Whimsies and Visions of the Alcoran Lud. Viv. de Caus. Cor­rupt. Art. Lib. 5.: And Averroes is now as much out of fashi­on [Page 212] for his Philosophy, as Avicen is for his Physic, tho they were once the Wonder of their Age and Nation.

Physic and Philosophy were the Stu­dies wherein the Arabians excell'd most, and therefore the Books of that kind were first translated and publish'd among us: But since those Books have ceased to be admir'd, an attempt has been made ano­ther way, and we have been furnish'd with a Sett of Arabic Historians, by Er­penius, Golius, and Dr. Pocock. Their Books may be seen, and containing Mat­ter of Fact; every Man is able to judge of their performance: What sort of Hi­storian Abulpharajius is, may be inferr'd from his Learned Editor, who was under discouragements in publishing him, from his disagreement with Greek and Roman History. I am sure Eutychius is no better, (whom Mr. Selden is pleas'd to style Our Aegyptian Bede;) His History of the Coun­cil of Nice is such a Romance, as exceeds all Faith, but that of a Rabbin or Arabi­an Eutych. p. 440, &c. According to him above 2000 Bi­shops met at Nice, after they had been a­bove two years in assembling there; The Patriarch of Alexandria is appointed Pre­sident, and no more notice taken of Ho­sius, than if he had not been present: [Page 213] Constantine is describ'd as transferring his Power upon the Bishops by the delivery of his Ring, Sword, and Scepter; with other things equally absurd: And that the Canons might bear better proportion to the number of Bishops; In the Arabic Copies we have above a hundred, V. Abr. Ecchel. Eu­tych. Vind. Par. 2. c. 17. whereas all the World knows there are only twenty genuine Canons of that Council.

We have been told oftner than once of Livy compleat in Arabic, yet dormant among their Manuscripts: But if their Translations be no better than their Hi­stories, (and if we will take Huetius's De Clar. In­terpr. p. 121. account of them, they are rather worse,) we have no reason to desire it over-eagerly, tho it could be produc'd, which I almost despair it ever shall. Nor have we reason to be more fond of their Geography, if we may make an E­stimate from that taste thereof, which has been given us, by Gabriel Sionita, in the Nubian Geographer, who has relisht so little with the World, as not to raise any thirst or appetite of having more. With what exactness he has describ'd the three parts of the World, particularly Europe, might be easily shown, were it worth the while to trace him in his Failings: [Page 214] He is to be seen, and every one that has a Globe and Maps, can judge of the Work.

In one word, the great Use of the Ara­bian and Rabbinical Writers seems to be, in confuting the Alcoran and Talmud; and to that end, there is no doubt, they may be effectually useful.

Of Scholastic Learning.

DIvinity, as it is profess'd in the Schools is become an Art, and so profound a piece of Learning, that it requires great Parts, and much Pains to maister it; an argument sure, that it is not so very necessary, otherwise it would need less skill to be understood. I would not detract from, much less de­ny all use of this sort of Learning, tho' if I should be free in my Censures, I should have good authority to warrant me therein; most of the first Reformers having lead the way, and some of them having declaim'd against it pretty warm­ly. Its great abuse in the Church of Rome had given too just occasion to this; for that Church having adopted it in­to her Systems, and interwoven it with most of her Opinions, and the School­men [Page 216] having been the Great Champions of her Cause, the Reformers were ne­ver safe, till they had disarmed her of this hold, which they did by exposing this new method, and introducing in its stead a much surer one, built upon the clear Text of Scripture, and deducti­ons from thence, which they made use of in all their Conferences and Dispu­tations. This, tho' the true and ancient way, and most agreeable to the simpli­city of the Gospel, yet had been much neglected by the Schoolmen, who having broached new Opinions, were to support them by new Methods, and the Scrip­tures having been silent, or not speaking home to their purpose, they therefore us'd them very sparingly: The Autho­rity of the Fathers was call'd in, and where these were deficient Aristotle's Philosophy was to supply the defect, (without whom, if the observation in my AuthorIn [...]he [...]aveva gran parte Aristotle, coll haver distinto Essatta­mente tut­ti i generi di cause; [...] che se egli non fosse adoperato, noi mancavano di molti [...]rticoli di fede. Hist. del Conc. Trident. 1. 2. be true, a Neighbour­ing Church had wanted some Articles of Faith) the Fathers and Philosophical reasons were their great strength. Tho' after all it must be confest, that where the Opinions of their Church have not [Page 217] been concern'd, and where they have argu'd barely upon the Principles of Reason, they have often done exceed­ing well; only launching out beyond their line they have as frequently mis­carry'd.

The Faults in this sort of Learning are chiefly these, (1.) Defectiveness for want of proper helps. (2.) Incoherence. (3) Nicety. (4.) Obscurity. (5.) Bar­barity. (1.) The Languages are one proper help, for Aristotle's Philosophy, and many of the Fathers being writ in Greek, it was necessary in order to be Master of these, that the Language wherein they were writ should be un­derstood: This help the Schoolmen wan­ted, having had no Greek and only a very moderate share of Latin; Aristo­tle was known to them in a Tongue that was none of his own, and being obscure enough in himself, was much more so, in wretched Translations; and the Fathers, who were very Intelligible in Greek, were either obscur'd, by be­ing turn'd into another Idiom, or were made to speak somewhat they never meant. Both Greek and Latin Fathers have been treated equally ill, for want of another proper help, viz. Criticism, [Page 218] in distinguishing Genuine from Spurious Authors; for want of which Autho­rities have been crudely swallow'd down without distinction; false Authorities have been obtruded, and true ones re­jected, or often mutilated; the Ages of Authors have been confounded, and some late Imposter has assumed the name of a venerable Father. Instan­ces whereof (for I do not love to dwell upon sores) may be had in Launoy in several of his Epistles, and in Danae­us's Censure upon the first Book of Sentences.

(2.) By incoherence I do not mean any inconsequence in the way of argu­ing in the Divinity of the Schools, but a disagreement of the parts, that it prin­cipally consists of: which being chiefly two (as we have before observ'd) the Sen­tences of the Fathers and Aristotle's Phi­losophy, what tolerable agreement can there be betwixt two things so very dif­ferent, most of the Fathers were Platonists in their opinion, possibly for the sake of some agreement, which that Philo­sophy seem'd to have with the Chri­stian Religion: Origen, St Chrysostom, and to name no more, St. Augustine who [Page 219] was more followed in the Schools, than all the rest, was of that number: A­ristotle was either much neglected by the Fathers, or where they had occasi­on to speak of him, they usually con­demn him; and that either for his So­phistic way of reasoning, or for his un­suitable Notions of God and Providence, which are of first consideration in the Schools. Even in the Church of Rome Aristotle was often forbid, sometimes or­dered to be burnt, and what is most strange, at that time when his Books were commented upon by Aquinas, they stood prohibited by a Decree of Gregory the IX,V. Lau­noy de var. Aristot. Fortuna cap. 7, &c. Of late, almost in our time, a proposal was made at Rome to Gregory the XIV. that Aristotle's Philosophy might be banished the Schools, and Plato's substituted in his place, as being more agreeable to the Christian Reli­gion, and Sence of the Fathers; and above forty propositions were then pro­duc'd, wherein Plato's Consonancy was shown, in all which Aristotle was pre­tendedIbid. cap. 14. to be Dissonant from the true Religion: Whether upon just grounds or no, I will not venture to determine; for since Platonism has ob­tain'd, as it once did pretty early, and [Page 220] has again done of late, it has been found liable to as dangerous consequences, as any that have been yet charg'd upon the other Philosophy. I only bring thus much to show, that there can be no good agreement in this particular, where the Parts are of so different a nature, as the Fathers and Aristotle, and so jarring, that they cannot naturally cohere.

(3.) Nicety is the great fault of the Schools, her Doctors have been styl'd Profound, Subtle, Irrefragable; Titles which they have most valu'd themselves upon, and seem not much to have af­fected the Reputation of being Familiar and Easie, at least none of their Titles have been derived from thence. They delight in refining upon one another, and sometimes spin so fine a thread, that it is either broke, or much weak­ned in drawing it out: They have perplex'd Knowledge, by starting insu­perable difficulties, and seem in this to have run into the same fault with your too profound Politicians, who, as they have often foreseen designs, which are neither practicable, nor ever intended; so these men have propos'd Objections, that would never have been thought of, had not they [Page 221] first started them; the consequence whereof has been, that we have furni­shed our Enemies with Objections, who have made use of our Weapons, and have turn'd our own Artillery against us. This is too visible in our Modern Socinians, who have often gather'd out of this Store-house, and by picking up difficulties in the Schoolmen, have turn'd their Objections into Proof and Argu­ments, and have thereby gain'd the Reputation of subtle Men. Thus Con­troversies have been multiplied, and those we have already, have swoln to an unmeasurable height, and every dif­ference has become irreconcilable; whilst Men study Nicety more than Peace, and stretch their Wits, and rack their Inventions, to out-reach their Opponents. And it were well if the mischief had stopt here, and Mens Curiosity had not led them on, from nice Questions to such as are Impious: It has done this, and least I should be thought to do them wrong, I shall re­fer the Reader to an unexceptionable Author [...] Perron. de p Eu [...]har, l. 3. ch. 20. one of the Greatest Cham­pions, the Church of Rome ever had, for a Catalogue of them; which are so offensive to Christian Ears, that I [Page 222] forbear to put them down in English, though he has not scrupled to give them in a more common Language

(4.) Obscurity, where things are in­tricate in themselves, if they be not so clearly explain'd in treating of them, as might be desir'd, the nature of the things will excuse, as not being capable of per­spicuity; or if hard Terms are made use of, if very significative, and not too many, this is what is allowable in all Arts; But then, if Terms of Art have been multipli'd beyond necessity, and without significancy; or if things that are plain in themselves have been ob­scur'd, by being handled too Artifi­cially, this sure is a great Abuse; and this is, what has been charg'd upon ma­ny of the Schoolmen. The mysteries of Religion are not capable of being rendred obvious to Reason, and there­fore if they have not made these plain, they are not to be blam'd; they would have been more excusable, had they ex­plain'd them less, and had not trusted too much to rational helps, in explain­ing things, that are not the Objects of our Understanding; but tho' Mysteries are not to be explain'd, other things [Page 223] in Religion are clear enough, and would continue so, were they not clouded and involv'd by too much Art. I do not charge this as a general fault, tho' it be too common; some of the Schoolmen are less obnoxious to this charge, and generally the first are least Obscure; and Lombard and Aquinas, the two Au­thors of the Sentences and Sums have been more plain, than many of those that have writ upon them, whose Comments have often helpt to obscure the Text. It is an odd Commendation that is gi­ven by Cardan De Subtil. l. 16. to one of our Coun­trymen, one of the most subtle among the Doctors, that only one of his Argu­ments was enough to puzzle all Poste­rity, and that when he grew old h [...] wept, because he could not understand his own Books. Men that write De Sub­tilitate, must be allow'd to say what they please, but those of ordinary Capacities would have thought it a greater Cha­racter, that our Doctor had well ex­plain'd that one Argument, and had writ so, that he might have been un­derstood. There are great Charms in being esteemed subtle, and it is an argument hereof, that Cardan commends this Author for his subtilty, whom in [Page 224] all probablity, he had never seen, other­wise he could not so foully have mistaken his name, as he doesRichard. al. Ray­mund Sui­seth. Venet. 1520. ap. Ca [...]dan. Iohan. Sui­isset. and as some o­thers have done, that have spoke of this Author, who is very rare. He is in­deed profoundly obscure, tho' I must confess, I have only lookt into him so far, as to observe his way of [...]riting, which is really such, as if he never meant to be understood. Others have been faulty enough in this way, and it were no hard task to show it in many of the rest, but having mentioned this Man, I can say nothing worse against obscu­rity.

(5.) Rough Language and Barbarous­ness of Expression, that were made so great Objections upon▪ the reviving of Learning, and are yet so with Polite Men, whose ears can bear nothing with­out ornament and smoothness, shall be no great faults with me, and in abstruse Subjects may be born with; and I should digest Caramuel's new Scholastic Dia­lect, provided it conduced to promote knowledge: However, a bad Dress and ill Meen are Blemishes upon know­ledge, tho' they detract nothing from its strength, and ought to be some mor­tification [Page 225] to those Men who are apt to ver-value themselves upon imaginary Perfection. Of all Men they are farthest from it, and after so many Imperfecti­ons as have been charg'd upon them, it was surprising to me, to meet with one of the la [...]t Commentators upon the Sum Bapt. Gonet. Clyp. Theolog. Par. 1669. writing as if he had liv'd be­fore Luther. In a Prefatory Discourse entitl'd, Commendatio Doctrinae D. Thomae, he endeavours to prove in so many se­veral Chapters, that St. Thomas had writ his Books, not without special in­fusion of God Almighty, Chap. 1. That in writing them, he receiv'd many things by Revelation, Chap. 2. That all he writ was without any Error, Chap. 4. That Christ had given Testimony to his Writings, Chap. 6. And to show of how near the same Authority, St. Tho­mas's Sum is to the Holy Scriptures, he assures us, That as in the first General Councils, it was usual to have the Holy Bible laid open upon the Altar, as the Rule of their proceedings; so in the last General Council (which with them is the Council of Trent,) St. Thomas's Sum was plac'd with the Bible upon the same Altar, as another Inferior Rule of Chri­stian [Page 226] Doctrine, Chap. 8. which is very agreeable to what has been writ by a JesuitTauner. Quaest. 1. Dub. 2. upon the same Subject, That all the General Councils, that have been held since St. Thomas liv'd, have taken the opinions they defin'd from his Do­ctrine. It were needless after this to cite the Elogy of another JesuitPetr. [...]abbe ap. Gonet. ibid., where St. Thomas is styl'd an Angel, and that as he learnt many things from the Angels, so he taught Angels some things; That St. Thomas had said, what St. Paul was not suffer'd to utter; That he speaks of God as if he had seen him, and of Christ, as if he had been his voice, and more to this effect.

When such bold expressions are open­ly vented, it is time to look about us, and it concerns every Man to endeavour to give a check to such daring asserti­ons. I am far from detracting either from the Knowledge or Holiness of St. Thomas, which doubtless were both extraordinary, but when a Mortal Man, is equall'd to the Angels in Heaven, and such Elogies given him, as if he were capable of hearing, he must blush to receive; it is justice to him, to rescue him from false and undue Praises. To [Page 227] do him Right, he has improv'd natural Reason to an uncommon height, and many of those proofs of a God and Pro­vidence and Natural Religion, that have been advanced of late, as new Argu­ments with so much applause, have been borrow'd from him or other School­men; and are only not his, by being put in a new Dress, and sometimes in a worse method. Had it been his fortune to have lived in a happier Age, under better opportunities, and with those helps that we now enjoy, he must have made a greater Genius, than many of those, who are now look'd upon with wonder.


AND now having gone through the several sorts of Learning, and observ'd the various defects, and oft­times uncertainties, which they are sub­ject to; The Conclusion is obvious, That since no compleat satisfaction is to be met with from them, we are to seek for it somewhere else, if happily it may be found. It may be found, but not in our own powers, or by our own strength; and that which our most ex­alted Reason, under all its improve­ments, cannot yield us, is only to be had from Revelation. It is there we may securely rest, after the Mind has try'd all other ways and methods of Knowledge, and has tir'd it self with fruitless Enquiries. It is with the Mind, as with the Will and Appetites; for as [Page 229] after we have try'd a thousand Plea­sures, and turn'd from one Enjoyment to another, we find no rest to our De­sires, till we at last fix them upon the Soveraign Good: So in pursuit of Know­ledge, we meet with no tolerable sa­tisfaction to our Minds, till after we are wearied with tracing other methods, we turn them at last upon the one su­preme and unerring truth. And were there no other use of humane Learning, there is at least this in it, That by its many defects, it brings the Mind to a sense of its own weakness, and makes it more readily, and with greater wil­lingness, submit to Revelation. God may have so order'd in his Wise Provi­dence, thereby to keep us in a constant dependance upon himself, and under a necessity of consulting him in his Word which since Profane Men treat so neg­lectfully already, they would have it in greater Contempt; and it would be much more vile in their Eyes, did they find any thing within them equally per­fect, which might guide them in their Course, and bring them to the Haven, where they would be. But this since they do not meet with, it ought to [Page 230] wean them from an opinion of them­selves, and incline them to seek out sa­tisfaction somewhere else, and to take shelter where it may be found.

I have said nothing in this whole Dis­course (nor can I repeat it too often) with design to discredit humane Learn­ing; I am neither of their mindAna­baptists in Germany. who were for burning all Books, except their Bibles; nor of that Learned Man's opi­nion, who thought the Principles of all Arts and Sciences might be borrow'd from that Store-house: I would wil­lingly put a just Value upon the one, without depressing the other: But where Men lash out the other way, and take the liberty to exalt Learning to the pre­judice of Religion, and to oppose shal­low Reason to Revelation, it is then time, and every Man's business, to en­deavour to keep it under, at least to prevent its aspiring, by not suffering it to pass its due Bounds. Our Reason is a proper Guide in our Enquiries, and is to be follow'd, where it keeps within its Sphere; but shining dimly, it must borrow Rays from the Fountain of Light, and must always act subordi­nately to Revelation. Whenever it cros­seth [Page 231] that, it is out of its Sphere, and in­deed contradicts its own Light; for no­thing is more reasonable, than to believe a Revelation, as being grounded upon God's Veracity, without which even Reason it self will be often doubting. That whatever God (who is Truth it self) reveals, is true: is as sure and evi­dent a Proposition, as any we can think of: It is certain in its Ground, and evi­dent in its Connexion, and needs no long Consequences to make it out; whereas most of our rational deductions are often both weakly bottom'd, and depending upon a long train of Conse­quences, which are to be spun from one another, their strength is often lost, and the thread broken, before we come at the Conclusion.

And tho' it be commonly objected, that there are as many differences con­cerning Divine Truths, as about those of Nature: yet I think there needs no­thing further be said to this, but that Men would approach Divine Truths with the same dispositions, that are re­quir'd by Philosophers to the reading of their Writings, and the Objection would soon fall to the ground: The [Page 232] best Philosophers require, that in read­ing their Books, we should lay aside partiality to a Party, all passion and o­ther prejudice; and let Men only ap­proach the Scriptures with the same preparations of Mind, and with these and ordinary Grace (that is never want­ing to those that seek it) I dare be con­fident, they will have no reason to com­plain of Obscurity or Ambiguity in those Sacred Writings: With these Helps (that are had by asking) the weakest and most ordinary Capacity shall see enough, and shall not stand in need of deep Reach or Penetration, which are necessary to the understanding of Natural Truths. God, who would have all Men happy, has likewise made them all so far wise, and has so order'd, that the most impor­tant Truths, should be the most easie and common; and if it can be no objection, that to the understanding of them, we must make use of ordinary means, and must come prepar'd with suitable dispo­sitions: This is what is necessary in all other things; for every thing is best understood by the same Spirit by which it is writ.

[Page 233]God has gone yet farther with us; Ne­cessary Truths are not only the most com­mon, but he has likewise made them the most convincing, and has given them a power, that is not easily resisted: Rational Arguments, however, convincing they may seem, are usually repell'd by Reason, and it is hard to convince a Man by such methods, that is equally Master of Reason with our selves; whereas Divine Truths make their own way, they act upon us with a secret Power, and Press the mind with an almost irresistible Strength, and do not only perswade, but almost force an assent: The first only act like Light, the other strike down and pierce us through like Lightning. We have as remarkable a passage to this purposeSozo [...] Hist. l. 1 c. 18. Ru­fin. Hist. l. 1. c. 3., as most in Ecclesiastical Story; which tho' well attested, yet were it only a Parable, the Moral of it might be of good use. Upon the Convening of the first General Council at Nice, and the appearing of the Christian Bishops there, several of the Heathen Philosophers of­fer'd themselves among the Sons of God, intending to signalize themselves upon so great an occasion, by attacking the Faith [Page 234] in its most Eminent Professors, and by endeavouring to overthrow it by Phi­losophy and Reason. To this End se­veral Conferences were held upon the Principles of Reason, by the most noted Men of either Party, in which one of the Philosophers more forward than the rest, begun to grow Insolent upon a suppos'd advantage, and must needs Triumph before Victory: An aged Bi­shop took fire at this, one who had been a Confessor in the late Persecution, and was more noted for his Faith than Learn­ing; Philosophy he had none, but en­counters his Adversary in a new manner, in the name of Jesus, and by the word of God, and with a few plain Weapons drawn from thence, he humbles the Pride of this arrogant Philosopher, and straitway leads him Captive to the Font; All the Reply our Philosopher had left him, was, that while he was encountred by Philosophy and humane Learning, he defended himself the same way, but being attack'd by higher Reasons, it was necessary for him to yield himself up to the power of God. Such is the Force of that Word, which simple vain Men so much contemn!

[Page 235]What then must we do? Are we to give our selves up to this Word, and lay aside all humane Learning? I am far from thinking so, and have already caution'd against any such Wild and A­nabaptistical Conceit; these two may well consist, Learning is of good use in explaining this Word, and the Word serves very well to lessen our opinion of humane Learning; the former may be serviceable, whilst it acts ministerially and in subservience to the latter, but being only a Hand-maid to Religion, whenever it usurps upon that, it is to be kept down, and taught its Duty; it is still only humane Learning, that is, very weak and very defective, and af­ter all the great things that can he said of it, and the uses that may be assigned it, it must after all be confess'd, that our Bible is our best Book, and the only Book that can afford any true and solid satisfaction. It is that which satisfies and never satiates, which the deeper it is look'd into, pleaseth the more, as con­taining new and hid Treasures, by the opening whereof, there always springs up in the mind fresh pleasure and new [Page 236] desire. Whereas Humane Writings (like all humane things) cloy by their conti­nuance, and we can scarce read them the second time without irksomeness, and oftentimes not without nauseating those fine things, that please so wonder­fully at the first reading.

The Sum of all is this, we busie our selves in the search of Knowledge, we tire out our Thoughts, and wast our Spi­rits in this pursuit, and afterwards flatter our selves with mighty Acquirements, and fill the World with Volumes of our Discoveries: Whereas would we take as much pains in discovering our Weakness and Defects, as we spend time in Often­tation of our Knowledge, we might with half the time and pains, see enough to show us our Ignorance, and might thereby learn truer Wisdom. We frame to our selves New Theories of the World, and pretend to measure the Heavens by our▪ Mathematical Skill (that is, Indefi­nite Space by a Compass, or Span) whilst we know little of the Earth we tread on, and every thing puzzles us, that we meet with there: We live up­on the Earth, and most Men think they [Page 237] rest upon it, and yet it is a very difficult Question in Philosophy, whether the Earth rests or moves; and is it not very wonderful, that we should be such strangers to the place of our Abode, as to know nothing, whether we rest there, or travel a daily Circuit of some thousand Miles? We rack our Inventi­ons to find out Natural Reasons for a Deluge of Waters, by fetching down Co­mets from above, and cracking the Cortex of the Earth, to furnish out sufficient stores for that purpose; and yet from the Convexity of the Waters, it is hard to account in the Course of Nature, why there should not bea Deluge every day: And perhaps Providence is the surest Bar, that has set Bounds to the Waters, which they shall not pass. We are not only puzzled by things without us, but we are strangers to our own Make and Frame, for tho' we are convinced, that we consist of Soul and Body: yet no Man hitherto has sufficiently described the Union of these two, or has been able to explain, how Thought should move Matter? Or how Matter should act up­on Thought? Nay the most Minute things in Nature, if duly considered, [Page 238] carry with them the greatest wonder, and perplex us as much, as things of greater bulk and show. And yet we, who know so little in the smallest mat­ters, talk of nothing less than New Theo­ries of the World and vast Fields of Know­ledge, busying our selves in Natural Enquiries, and flattering our selves with the wonderful Discoveries and mighty Improvements that have been made in Humane Learning, a great part of which are purely imaginary, and at the same time neglecting the only true and solid and satisfactory Know­ledge: Things that are obscure and in­tricate we pursue with eagerness, whilst Divine Truths are usually disregarded, only because they are easie and common: Or if there be some of an higher nature, they shall possibly be rejected, because they are above or seemingly contrary to Reason, whilst we admit several other things without scruple, which are not re­concil able with Revelation; tho Revea­led Truths be certainly Divine, and the other, either no Truths at all, or at the best, only Humane. This sort of Con­duct is very preposterous, for, after all, true Wisdom and satisfactory Know­ledge, [Page 239] is only to be had from Revelati­on, and as to other Truths, which are to be collected from Sense and Reason, our Ignorance of them will always be so much greater than our Knowledge, as there are a thousand things we are igno­rant of, to one thing that we throughly know.


WHilst I have been free in censuring others faults, I ought to be ready to acknowledge my own; I never doubted but I was as subject to them as other men, tho upon a serious review of my Book, I have not yet met with many, and such as I thought material, I have Corrected. The great Objection that has been made by my Friends, is, rather a Defect than a Fault; I am told by them, my Conclusi­on is too Short, and that I ought to have enlarg'd upon the necessity of Revelation. This I am sensible of, and freely own the Charge, but have neither time nor oppor­tunity [Page 240] now to redress it; and besides the Argument has been so well and largely treated of by other Hands, that little new can be said upon the Subject.

On the other side, I have receiv'd Let­ters and Papers from several Hands, which flatter me with an opinion, that I have done somewhat well, some of which, it would have been an advantage both to my self and Book to have publish'd: But I deny my self herein, only make this small but grateful acknowledgment to the Worthy Persons, from whom they came.


This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. This Phase I text is available for reuse, according to the terms of Creative Commons 0 1.0 Universal. The text can be copied, modified, distributed and performed, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.