A DISCOURSE OF COMETS: Shewing their Original, Substance, Place, Time, Magnitude, Motion, Num­ber, Colour, Figure, Kinds, Names, and, more especially, their Progno­sticks, Significations and Presages.

Being a brief Resolution of a seasonable Que­ry, viz. Whether the Apparition of Co­mets be the Sign of approaching Evil?

Where also is inserted an Essay of Iudici­ary Astrology, giving Satisfaction to this grand Question, Whether any certain Iudgments and Predictions concerning future Events, can be made from the Ob­servation of the Heavenly Bodies?

Both occasioned by the Appearance of the late Comets in England and other Places.

London, Printed for Brab. Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons over against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill. 1684.



I Dedicate This to your Lordship, and if any shall ask the Reason, I know [Page] no other than what all Eng­land knows as well as I, and that is the place you hold in the Church, and in the Esteem of the Learned World, your great and ad­mired Worth, your Skill in the profoundest Sciences, of which your Excellent Works of Astronomy, and particularly your Praelecti­ons of Comets are an unde­niable demonstration. Those that know either your Lord­ship or me, will not say I flatter you; for your vast Merits command all that can be said, and for my part I am not inclined to fawn upon any Person.

[Page] I cannot expect, my Lord, you should approve of this inconsiderable Present, yet I persuade my self your Lordship will not be displea­sed at the good meaning of the Offerer. I need not ac­quaint your Lordship that it is part of one of the Canons of our Church, That Poor Beneficed Men may go in short Gowns. Can. 74. We mean Folks, my Lord, must doe as well as we can. I submit the whole to your Lordship's Censure, and hope you will not lay open those Faults which, it may be, none but your self can see. But I [Page] will usurp no farther on your Lordship's Patience, than onely by begging your Pardon that I have done it so far already.

I am, My Lord,
Your Lordship's most Dutifull Son and Obedient Servant.


THou seest here that I have sent a short Essay into the World; and I doubt not but it will be an evident Conviction to all sober Minds of the Presaging Nature of [Page] Comets. That which I have to say in behalf of the Piece is this, that I never met with so much on this Theme in any Writer, whether English or Latin, or of any other Lan­guage. If I had, I protest to Thee seriously I would not have troubled Thee with this Essay of mine. To be plain, if what is here presented be not the most rational and impartial, the fullest and best Account that hath hitherto been given of the Doctrine of Comets, and of Judiciary Astrology, I am sure it is that which I intended should look something like it. Nor do I pronounce this in Ostentation, for I have [Page] considered the Point it self, and I have likewise read other Mens Accounts. I may say with Seneca, Sen. Nat-Qu. 1. 7. c. 29. (in the Book where he purposely treats of Comets) That I have search­ed and enquired nec cum fi­ducia inveniendi, nec sine Spe. I abandoned all Con­fidence and Presumption in this present Inquisition, but withall I Despaired not of attaining to True Notions and Sentiments in this matter. I hope it will not be looked up­on as an unpardonable Crime, that I have got out of the com­mon Road sometimes, or when I light into it, that I keep not pace with other Travellers. [Page] I declare I am for a free and rational way of thinking and discoursing. I have a great fan­cy for Rabbi Achiva's Advice, Ne coquas in eadem olla in qua socius tuus jam coxerit, Do not blindly adhere to what others have maintained. Brag not of other Mens Inventions, but shew something of thy own.

I might tell the Reader that I have endeavoured to proceed with all Caution and Modesty, and have avoided the Imputa­tion which generally lies upon those who handle this Subject, viz. their fond and idle way of Pointing peremptorily at such and such particular E­vents [Page] which shall certainly follow the Appearance of Co­mets. Besides, I have in o­ther things studied to deliver my self with all Moderation, which I am sure will not be displeasing to those who are Masters of Reason and Pru­dence. I could have said much more upon the Subject. The Reader may perceive from the numerous heap of particulars here inserted, that I might have spun this Discourse into a far greater Length, and swel­led it into a larger Size. I have hinted Arguments, and contracted some Topicks, which I could easily have en­larged. But I was unwilling [Page] to be tedious, and I had a mind the Reader should rise with an Appetite. As for the Idle and Envious, and such who resolve that none shall see any thing of theirs in Publick, I expect that they should cavil at my Endeavours. They that sit still and cannot afford to write, are the dreadfullest Objectors, the sorest Criticks of all. I have nothing to add now, but to bid defiance to Them, and to wish the Ingenu­ous and Candid Reader to doe so too.

THe Absence of the Authour hath occasioned the omission of these two Clauses, which the Reader is de­sired in his perusal to insert in the fol­lowing places: viz. Page 18. Line 14. insert [And, which is the greatest Lustre and Credit of this Opinion, I find it espoused by that Profound Phi­losoper, and Reverend Prelate of this Nation,Praelect. de Comet. the present Lord Bishop of Sarum: He asserteth that Comets are Perpetual Bodies, and that no new Co­mets appear, but the very same which were seen before.] Page 59. line 1. insert [And I might tell you here what a great Light of our Church and of Astronomy saith in the Conclusion of his Excellent Discourse concerning Comets: Taedet me divinationis in re tam incerta: I am wea­ry of divining (saith he) upon this un­certain Subject: All our Philosophy here is but Conjectures and Surmises.


PAge 19. line 22. read Manilius, p. 23. l. 17. r. Iulius Caesar Scaliger, p. 27. l. 11. r. Libertus Fromondus, l. 16. r. assert. p. 40. l. 3. r. the force, p. 41. l. 18. r. Conick, p. 52. l. 17. r. disquisition, p. 57. l. 19. r. turning, p. 63. l. 4. r. Impostures, p. 119. l. 16. r. and Assistant, p. 124. l. 18 r. divinitùs, p. 268. l. ult. r. vacavi.

A DISCOURSE OF THE Original, Substance, Place, Time, Magnitude, Motion, Num­ber, Colour, Figure, Kinds, Names, and more especially the Prognosticks, Significations and Presages OF COMETS.

I Have observed that some of late, who think they make no inconsiderable figure in the Age, have bore up very brisk­ly against that common and so long received Opinion, That the Appearance of Comets is ominous, [Page 2] and▪ portends some calamitous E­vents to the World. They look upon This as a mere vulgar Errour, and will not be persuaded that it hath any other Foundation than the prejudicate Fancy and Imagina­tion of the deluded People. I must freely profess my self to be one that hath other Notions of this matter; and having satisfied my self about it, I will try whether I can do the same to others: For I take it to be a laudable Endeavour, and at pre­sent a seasonable one, (we having so lately been allarmed by the sight of such glaring Bodies in the Hea­vens) to propogate the Sentiments which I have of this Doctrine, and to reduce those that are mistaken to right Apprehensions of it.

Four things then I design:

1. To enquire into the Nature of Comets, that is, (as the Title of this Treatise gave it you) their Ori­ginal, [Page 3] Substance, Place, Motion, Figure, (which last contains the dif­ferent Species or Kinds) and what­ever other circumstances and Phae­nomena belong to them, and from all these, and the different Disputes, Controversies and clashing Opini­ons concerning them, to evince them to be Extraordinary and Por­tentous.

2. I will from the consideration of the true Nature of Causes and Signs prove them to be both Effec­tual and Significant, and particular­ly that they bode Calamities and Evils to the World.

3. I will add the numerous suf­frage of sacred and prophane Au­thours to back my Opinion; for though I confess I never thought the Cause of Truth was to be deci­ded by majority of Votes, yet in this Case I dare venture to put it to the Poll.

Lastly, I will answer the Objec­tions which are brought to invali­date [Page 4] my Assertion, and there a­mong my Replies to other Cavils, I will purposely encounter Iudicia­ry Astrology, and soberly and impar­tially give my Notion of it; which if it prove not to be exactly adjusted to some Mens Measures, yet I hope it will be found to answer to the Standard of Reason, which I reckon to be much better.

In the first place I am to enquire into the Nature of Comets: and here I must begin with the Substance or Matter of them. But behold! (as an Eviction of what I have al­ready suggested, and what will more evidently appear in the sequel, viz. the dubious and uncertain Sen­timents of Philosophers and others about these Bodies) there were some of old who would by no means al­low them to have any Substance or Consistency at all, but to be mere Appearances: which is as much as to say, There are no such things in [Page 5] Reality. This Opinion is thus re­presented by Seneca the Philoso­pher, in that Book which I shall have occasion often to cite,Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 7. cap. 19. Quidam nullos esse Cometas existimant, sed species illorum per repercussionem vi­cinorum siderum, aut per conjunctio­nem cohaerentium reddi. They held that the Phaenomena which are cal­led Comets, are caused by the Re­flexion or Refraction of the Beams of the Sun, or Moon, or the neigh­bouring Stars, or by a conjunction of many Stars together. They tell us at other times, that their Pro­duction is the same with that of the Rain-bow, the Parelion, and Halo, and that they are not distinct from those luminous Bodies which they are near to. But certainly it is a great piece of Philosophick Folly to think that they are mere shews, and not of a real consistency. This might be confuted from several To­picks, but especially from these Two: namely,

[Page 6] First, Their Duration, their con­stant and continued appearance for so long a time: whereas, if they were onely seeming and phantastick Spectacles, they would not hold out (as they do) so many days, nay weeks, not to say months.

Again, if they were Images they would not be seen Alike, and in the same Shape to all persons in what situation soever; the Angles of In­cidence must needs vary. But it is well known that they appear with the same Figure in divers and di­stant Countries to all spectatours: whence it is proper to conclude that they are real Physical Beings. Well then, granting them to be Substances, what Kind of ones are they, Spirit or matter? Some have had so high an esteem of Comets, that they have ranked them among Immaterial and Intellectual Spirits. Pliny, the Elder, in the Second Book of his Natural History, and the Five and twentieth Chapter, [Page 7] (which likewise I shall frequently quote in the following Discourse) acquaints us that the Comet which was seen seven nights together after the assassinating of Iulius Caesar in the Senate House, was believed by the vulgar to be that Great Man's Soul received up into Heaven a­mong the number of the Gods. Eo sidere significari vulgus credidit Cae­saris animam, &c. The same is testified by Suetonius and Plutarch, in the Account which they give of Caesar's Life and Death. Nay, this was not onely the conceit of the Ro­man Rabble, but the said Pliny tells us, that Democritus, who one would think should have laughed at this among the other Follies of Mankind, espoused this persuasion, viz. That Comets are the Souls of Deceased Heroes. And (to see how taking such Dreams and Whimsies are with some heads) Bodinus seems to be hugely pleased with it,Theatr. Natur. l. S 2. and is very inclinable to believe that those [Page 8] Blazing Lights are the Souls of brave Men departed, and carried up to Heaven, and there triumphing. I might suggest here (as somewhat relating to this purpose) that the Transmigration of Souls into Stars was an ancient Ethnick Dream, and so might be the occasion to some of thinking also that departed Spirits (if very brisk and generous) mount aloft, and presently turn into Co­ments, and in those fiery Mansions display their pristine vigour and mettle. Others, though they hold them not to be Souls of Men, or de­parted Ghosts, yet they forsake not the notion of their being Spirits: that is, they maintain that they are Spirits of a lower Rank and Qua­lity, near of kin to the finest and subtilest matter: Thus I remember the high-flown Chymist asserts them to be a certain Compound of Spirits, Paracels. Iid. de Me­teor. but what he means I am not so skilfull an Adept as to under­stand. This only I apprehend, that [Page 9] He, and much more Those who make them to be irradiated Souls above, exalt the Nature of Comets too high. It is enough that they are of the order of Corporeal Be­ings. And being so, it will be asked in the next place. What are the Materials of these great Streaming Bodies? Are they of Terrestrial or Celestial Matter? Which of these two are they, Earth or Aether? Here likewise Philosophers are di­vided, and cannot agree on their Verdict. Aristotle and his Partisans declare, that they are of Earthly Extraction, and no other than Me­teors, raised from great heaps of dry and viscous Exhalations. Many of the Stoicks are pleased to side with the Aristotelians, and generally all those that hold them to be bare Meteors, and to be placed under the Moon, say they are of a Ter­restrial origine. But here again they are subdivided,Meteor. l. 1. c. 7. for some main­tain that they are Earthly matter [Page 10] Inflamed: Thus the great Aristotle, and some late Astrenomers, as Re­giomontanus, a groat Promoter of all Mathematical and Astronomical Studies▪ and that learned French­man Piso, and others, hold that Comets are set on fire by the rays of the Sun. Whereas others, as Heraclides Ponticus of old, and some of late will have them to be subtile and Diaphanous matter ex­haled from the Earth into the Air, and there, by reason of the Sun­beams which they receive into them, Enlightened and made bright, but not Enflamed. But that Comets are of Earthly Original, though it was credited of old, and by a few of the Moderns, yet it will hardly gain belief at this time of Day. It is now generally asserted, that most of them are above the Moon (of which you shall hear more anon:) and if their Seat be so high, it will be difficult to persuade men that they were exhaled from the Earth. [Page 11] It is impossible so much Matter should be amassed together as must serve for a Comet, which is of so great a bulk, and lasts so long as some of them have done. It the Diametre of some of them be four times, nay, of the larger sort of them, be ten times greater than the Earth,Snellius de Cometa anni 1618. (as one who was Professor of Mathematicks at Leyden hath cal­culated it, the Earth and Sea can­not afford Matter enough to make One of them.

This Opinion then being explo­ded, another is to take place, ac­cording to which the Chaldeans a­mong the ancient Philosophers, and the Moderns generally, as Cardan, Tycho Brahe, Galilaeus, Des Cartes, and many others, affirm that Co­mets are constituted of Celestial Matter. But alas! though they a­gree in this in the general, yet in the Particular Explication of it they are found to dissent from one ano­ther; for it is hotly disputed whe­ther [Page 12] these unusual Lights are bred from the Effluvia of all the Planets, or from the Sun alone, or from the other Stars.Cometo­graph. l. 7. Hevelius the Learned Professor of Mathematicks at Dant­zick undertakes to decide the Con­troversie by avowing that they are made of the Effluvia and Evapora­tions of both Erratick and Fixed Stars, but especially of the Sun, there being so great an Exhalation of matter from this vast Body, that it is able it self alone in one Year to make innumerable Comets. So that according to this Gentleman, these uncommon sights in the Hea­vens are so far from being Wonders, that it is rather a Wonder, and a­gainst the course of Nature, that they do not always and in number­less Companies appear. An Asser­tion unworthy of so acute and in­genious a Philosopher! for he ren­ders the most Glorious Luminary of Heaven, and that which is the Master-piece of all the Works of [Page 13] the Creation, the most Irregular and Monstrous Body in the World, whilst he would offer this to our belief, that whereas by its natural Make, it ought to afford matter for infinite Comets, yet it perpe­tually acts contrary to its Frame and Constitution, and produces not one Comet sometimes in Twenty Years. In my judgment this is but mean Philosophy, and it can never prove good Astronomy, though I have otherwise a profound Respect for that Worthy Person, who by his excellent and elaborate Writings hath both merited and purchased a great Name and Repute among all those who are addicted to Mathe­matical Studies, and hath particu­larly obliged the Virtuosi in England by communicating his Notions to them with so much freedom.

Thus I have in some measure shewed the Disagreement of the Learned Tribe about that part of the Doctrine of Comets which re­spects [Page 14] their Original, whence I shall afterwards prove them to be Ex­traordinary and Presaging: but it is little I have hitherto effected; I must hasten to dispatch what is yet behind of the same Argument. Let us then ask these Men of Skill, What were Comets before they ap­peared to us in this shape, and un­der this Name and Character? Our great Mathematicians and Philosophers are at odds, as to this point. If you enquire of the fa­mous Monsieur Renatus des Car­tes, (that man of France who was as great a Reformer in Philosophy as Calvin, his Country-man, was in Divinity, he whose Philoso­phy was so Taking and Char­ming, that a wise Queen quit­ted her Crown to be at leisure to study it,) this great Man tells you they were Fixed Stars; for his Hypothesis in brief is this, That those fixed Lights have their Ma­culae, or thick matter, which he [Page 15] calls the Third Element; and be­ing freed from these, sometimes some of them come into view, and go for New Stars; but being over­run by them, they are absorped in­to another Vortex, and become Comets. So that Comets are fix­ed Stars first Incrassated, and then Apostatized. This is the Noble Romantick Philosopher, who min­gles Heaven and Earth together, or rather, confounds one with the other; and he that could imagine this Earth of ours once to have been a Sun, may be pardoned if he presents us with such a notion of Comets as you have heard. Others are very vigorous in defending them to be Planets, or Wandring Stars, but distinct from the seven celebrated ones, (for they hold that there are more than those which are ordinarily reckoned.) The Dogmatists of this Persuasion were the Pythagorean Philoso­phers of the Italick Sect, the Chal­deans [Page 16] (as Stobaeus relates, Ecolg. Physic. c. 3.) Hippocrates, Dioge­nes, Phavorinus, Epicurus, Lu­cretius, &c. and of late Cardan, the noted Physician of Milan, Fra­castorius an excellent Professor of the same Faculty in Verona, Fie­nus, Vallesius, (l. 1. de Philos. Sacr.) and some others. These, I say, contend that they are Planets, that is, that they are Thick, Dark, Opake Bodies in themselves, and that they borrow all their Light from the Sun. And herein the learned Hevelius agrees with them, who will not allow Comets to have the least Light of their own, but they receive it all, as other Planets do, from the great Source of Light, and propagate it to us by Reflexi­on, as is the guise of Planets: and hence he gathers (and consistently enough with his own Hypothesis) that the Tails of Comets must needs be made by the Sun, of which I shall speak immediately. [Page 17] And the French Philosoper before na­med, though otherwise a Dissenter, strikes in here, and declares that they receive all their Light from the Sun, and in that resemble Planets. You must know likewise, that, according to the judgment of the forementio­ned Philosophers, these Planets or Comets (call them which you please, for it is come to that) have existed always from the first Creation, but have been hid in the Heavens for a time, and at length come into view. They seem to us to be New, but they are really of the same date with the first Origine of all things. Seneca lets you know this was his Opinion, Non existimo Cometen subitaneum ignem, Nat. Quaest. l. 7. c. 22. sed inter aeterna opera natu­rae A Comet is a Temporary Pla­net, in regard of the People to whom it appears, but otherwise it is from Eternity, supposing the World (as that Philosopher doth, but falsly) to be so. A Comet is a wandring Star, that after a certain Revoluti­on [Page 18] wheels about, and comes into sight: after it hath lost it self a great while, it finds its way into our He­misphere. It is a Planet that hath gone Incognito a long time, and hath been seen by none but the Sun, if our natural Philosopher represents it aright: Sunt qui haec sider a perpe­tua esse credunt,Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 25.suó (que) ambitu ire, sed non nisi à sole cerni. They come into our sight after a long Circuit and Risque, and then vanish, and retire to those Remote places where they were at first. And there I leave them and proceed. According to the Assertion last propounded, Co­mets are single Planets not before known, seen and observed by us. Now in the next place you shall see that another pack of Philiso­phers will not suffer them to be single Stars: no, they must be se­veral Stars or Planets intermingling their Lights. The Patrons of this were Zeno, Anaxagoras, Democri­tus (even that Democritus who held [Page 19] they were the Souls of Heroes; for you must take notice, that one Phi­losopher may hold two or more opi­nions of the same thing,) these would needs have Comets to be [...], a Coapparition of divers Errant Stars together, viz. when they seem to touch one another by reason of their Neighbourhood; as the great Stagyrite hath presented us with their Doctrine, l. 2. Meteor. c. 8. Or as Seneca more briefly; Comets ac­cording to them (saith he) are Con­junctio cohaerentium siderum, (Nat. Qu. l. 7. c. 10.) a Club of many Stars: and Plures Stellae quae currant, Many Stars running into one, Nat. Quaest. l. 7. c. 3. Or, according to the Astro­nomical Poet, Subjuncta Sidera, Marilius, l. 1. Astron. Another thus, a Comet is [...], a Sy­nod, or an Assembly of Stars joyn­ing their Light together. Plutarch. de Placit. Philos. This, it seems, was [Page 20] the sense of that Historian who gives an account of a Comet of a dread­full aspect which visited the Eastern part of the World in the Year 383. and he expresseth it thus,Nicephor. Eccles. hist. l. 12. c. 37. [...], &c. A great Company of Stars (saith he) was gathered together, and the Light which came from them all with great violence made up one huge Flame, which appeared in the likeness of a Sword. Some of the Moderns undertook to solve the Phaenomenon of a Comet after the same manner, as Cysatus Professor of Mathematicks in the University of Ingoldstadt, and Licetus a Philosopher of Genua lib. de Novis Astris & Cometis. After the rate of These Mens Astro­nomy a Comet is an Association or Fellowship of Stars, which seem to be but one Star, because they stick so close to another. It is a Congeries of Numberless Lights which loving­ly mingle their Rays together, and [Page 21] so make as it were one long strag­ling Star. This hath some affinity with their Fancy who think a Co­met to be a kind of Galaxy, and perhaps they might borrow their conceit from Father of Philoso­phers,Aristot. l. 1. Mete­or. c. 10. who treats of the Milky Circle and Comets in the same Chapter, and seems to solve one by the other. From what hath been said it is evident that it is not a­greed among the knowing and cu­rious, whether Comets be fixed or wandring Stars, and if they be of this latter sort, whether they be single, or several ones. That they are not a Congeries or Heap of Stars is excellently well proved by One who treats on this Theme designed­ly:Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 7. c. 12, 13, 14. and I am clearly of the judg­ment that it may as substantially be demonstrated that they are No Stars at all. For weigh the nature both of the Planets and fixed Lu­minaries, and you will find that Comets have nothing of their qua­lities [Page 22] and properties. It is not the nature of either of those kind of Stars to be greater at first, and then to decay and dwindle, and at last to be extinct, or (as some few Co­mets have been, as Seneca and Pon­tanus report) to be little at sirst, af­terwards to grow greater, and at length to lose both their greater and lesser bulk. This never was of the constitution of Stars: Nor have Comets any thing of the Motion or other Properties of Stars (as I shall shew afterwards,) and therefore I cannot discern how they can pro­perly be called, or thought to be Stars.

Having thus far spoken of the Original Matter whereof Comets are thought, according to the dif­ferent Genius and Sentiments of Men, to consist, I come now to consider their Place and Situation, though I have intimated something already of These, and it was neces­sary [Page 23] to doe so, because their Original and Place are so nearly related and depend upon each other. But I will now treat of This more designedly, and from the wondrous variety and inconsistency of opinions concern­ing Comets I will advance to prove that they really are and ought to be reckoned as Prodigies.

And first let us attend to those who place all Comets below the Moon. These are the Peripateticks, and many of the Stoicks; and they are followed by Philosophers and Mathematicians of later time, as Regiomontanus, Iunctinus, Fracasto­rius, Iulius Caesar, Scaliger, Cla­ramontius, and several others, whose persuasion is this, that Comets are sublunary Meteors, i. e. Exhalations mounted up to the upper and high­est Region of the Air, and that there they hover, and at last are set on fire and blaze. But certain­ly we might be brought off from imbracing such a Tenet as this, by [Page 24] considering, that if Comets were Meteors, they would jump and skip here and there, as other Mete­ors are observed to doe; and they must needs be subject to such a Motion, both because they are of­ten driven with the Wind, and be­cause they cannot but be set on run­ning and leaping by their own fire. Such considerations as these have mov'd divers great Philosophers and Astronomers to reject the Aristote­lian way, and to enter upon ano­ther more probable and rational. They think it a degrading of Co­mets to thrust them down into the Elementary Region, and therefore they have universally agreed to ex­alt them above the Moon.

This was practised before Ari­stotle by the old Chaldean and Py­thagorean Philosophers, by Demo­critus, Anaxagoras and Zeno; and after their time by the Judicious Seneca, and since that by the acutest and most discerning Moderns, as [Page 25] Cardan, Tycho, Galilaeus, Keplar, Longomontanus, Cartesius, and great numbers of other Learned Men. They prove their point by the Para­lax, which is the Diversity of sight, or change of Aspect, or the Difference between the True and Seeming Place of a Star or any other thing hang­ing in the Region above us. This in all the Comets that have been observed by them was lesser than that of the Moon; Ergò they are a­bove the Moon: For it is certain that that Body is by so much the more elevated from the Earth, by how much the lesser its Paralax is, as the greater this is▪ the thing seen is the nearer; and on the other side, the lesser this is, that is the further off. And for this Reason the ingenious French Philosopher places Comets in the Liquid Aether, between the Regions of the Planets and the fixed Stars, because (saith he) they have none, or an unspeaka­bly small Paralax or Variation of [Page 26] Sight to those divers spectators that look on them at the greatest dis­tance.

I know the greatest Astronomers have differed about the Doctrine of Paralaxes, whereof the incompara­ble Tycho Brahe, and that noble Italian Philosopher and Mathema­tician Claramontius, are a famous Instance. The renowned Galilaeus, Iulius Scaliger, and Bodinus laugh at the proof which is brought from the Paralax.Ricciolus Almagest. lib. de Co­metis. And a skilfull person of late, who undertakes to be Um­pire between the Aristotelians and Tychonists, concludes peremptori­ly that there is no Mathematical de­monstration for Comets being a­bove or below the Moon. But it may be they mean no more than this, that Paralaxes are uncertain, or rather, that the taking of them truly and exactly is extreme diffi­cult, the instruments are not every way good; and several Refractions which happen may hinder the just sight.

[Page 27] And now one would imagine there should be no farther disagree­ment than this, that some Comets are above, and some below the Moon, some in the Heavens, and others in the Air. But we shall find it otherwise; for a third sort ac­quaint us, that the very same Co­mets are sometimes below and at other times above the Moon: So Christopher Clavius, Libertus, Fro­mondus, Licetus, Resta, Caboeus Professor of Mathematicks at Ge­nua, Bulialdus that eminent Gal­lick Astronomer, and particularly the sagacious Kepler asserts that a Comet may come down from the Aether into the Air.In Cometar. Physiolog. Though it was generated above the Moon, yet there is good reason to believe that it may fall down; and such a one was that which appeared A. D. 1450.Phranza. Chronic. l. 3. c. 20. and eclipsed the whole body of the Moon, as the Histories and Cata­logues of Comets inform us. Such was that which was seen at Christ's [Page 28] Nativity (if it were a Comet,) and such was the famous Sword-Flame which appeared over the City of Ierusalem a year together. We are sure that two of these were Sublu­nary Comets.

Some Comets then are situated as Aristotle saith they are, and whilst the Astronomers, that came afterwards, endeavour to prove the contrary, and that all the Comets that ever appeared are Celestial, This attempt of theirs is to be look­ed upon as an extreme on the other hand. It is enough to say that most Comets have been high and lofty; and indeed it was fit they should be so, that the World might take the greater notice of them.

As I hope I convinced the Rea­der before, that the Generation and Production of Comets is a difficult search, so from what hath been since delivered, I doubt not but their Situation and Place appears to be of the same quality. So perplexed are [Page 29] these Points, that no less than a douzen Opinions are reckoned up by a modern Astronomer concer­ning the Matter and Place of Co­mets.Ricciol. Almagest.

There is still another great diffi­culty to be considered, and that is the Motion of Comets, which by all Astronomers is look'd on as ex­travagant and unaccountable. Whe­ther these Bodies take their Journey in a direct Line, or a circular one, and arch-wise (as the Planets) is dis­puted by them; and at last it is com­moly said, that the way they take is transverse and oblique. You may hear them cry out very despairing­ly, that they imitate neither the motion of the Sun, nor other settled Luminaries, but are perfectly sui juris, they take their own course, and that commonly is very unna­tural. Some go on directly in the true course of the Zodiack, but o­thers run through it backward, as [Page 30] Bodinus (Theatr. Nat. l. 2.) and Hevelius (Prod. Comet) observe. And not onely one Comet differs from another in its Motion, but oftentimes from it self: Nay, sometimes it remains fixed in the same place, and stirs not one way or other; which our Naturalist so often alledged takes notice of, when he saith, Moventur autem alii Er­rantium modo, alii Immobiles haerent, Nat. Hist. l. 2. This onely is ob­served, That though some at one time or other have moved to all the Points of the Heavens, yet they generally and usually veer by their own proper Motion towards the Poles. But why they appear rather without the Tropicks than within, and why they make their passage through Boötes, and the great Bear, and for the most part are seen about the Poles either Southern or Nor­thern, but especially the Nor­thern, and why they do not shew themselves in the height of the Hea­vens; [Page 31] These are all unaccountable, that their Motion may be answera­ble to all other things observed in them, and that there may be some proof made of what I have under­taken, viz. that Comets are an Ir­regular and Anomalous sort of Lights set up on purpose in the Heavens to invite the Inhabitants of the Earth to behold them, and to bid them doe something more than that, as I shall shew after­wards.

But the main thing that puzzles is the Figure which Comets appear in, the affrightning Brush or Stream which they shew.

First, how came they to have any such thing at all? And,

Secondly, How comes it to pass that this Stream or Blaze is always opposite to the Sun? And after I have examined this, I will speak of the more particular Figures or se­veral Species of Comets.

[Page 32] First then, what Philosophy can give an account of the Flaming Brush which issues from them? But here, before I pass any far­ther, it must be remembred that Astronomers speak of three sorts of Comets:

1. That which they call the Hairy one, viz. when the Rays are spread on all sides alike, and are equally in a Circle expanded, like the Hair of a mans Head.

2. That with a Beard, which is when a Comet emits its Rayes to­wards that part of the Heaven to which it moves.

3. That which appears with a Tail, viz. when its Beams are ex­tended towards that part of Heaven from which it recedes: Or the dif­ference between the Bearded and Tailed Comet is onely from the different aspect to the Sun: the one shewing itself before the Sun riseth, looks towards the West; the other appearing after the Sun is down, [Page 33] turns its Stream Eastward. I know some make the distinction other­wise, namely, as to the Erection of the Figure, it is like a Beard or Mustaches; and as to the Depressi­on of it, or Hanging down, like a Tail. But the old Dictatour of Philosophy reduces those three kinds into two,Aristot. Meteor. l. 1. c. 9. [...]. A Comet (saith he) is generated according to the Figure and Shape of the Exhalation which is drawn up by the Sun: if this be set on fire on all sides alike, and be exactly round, then it is properly called a Comet, or Hairy Star; but if it be extended in length▪ then 'tis a Bearded one: And this comprehends under it all the blaze and stream of Light which proceeds from Comets, call it Beard, or Tail, or what you please.

The former of these (which [Page 34] Aristotle saith is the True Comet) is seldom seen, and I do not re­member that I ever read above two or three Instances of it. The lat­ter is the more known and celebra­ted kind, and may, by that great Philosopher's leave, be properly called a Comet, according to the true Etymology of it expressed by the Poet, ‘Flamma Comas imitata volat,manilius te­nuésque Capillos.’

Now it may deservedly be asked, What is the Reason of this strange Figure? Why do not Comets ap­pear to us round, (be they flat or disciform in themselves, as some imagine, that is not much to the purpose, but) why do not the whole bodies of the Comets appear to be Globous, as all other Stars, both fixed and erratick, seem to be? What makes those differ from these? Why are the Rays and Splendour [Page 35] of a Comet carried further than that of other Stars? Why sends it forth such stragling Beams? Since the Figure of all Stars is Globular or Sphaerical, what causes a Comet (if it be a Star) to be of a long Fi­gure? Why do not all other Stars shoot out such Streams as this? I desire not to make difficulties, but certainly these Questions have not been solved to the satisfaction of any diligent and curious Enquirer. Such Reasons as the learned have suggested I will set down, and I am confident that it will be made clear from them, as from all other things appertaining to Comets, that they are a sort of Phaenomena which were made to puzzle the World, and that their strange Nature signi­fieth to us their more strange events.

I am to let you know then, that, according to the different Hypo­theses taken up, some write, that the Tail or Beard is part of the Co­met; others on the contrary as stif­ly [Page 36] maintain, that it is not part of it, but is onely the Rays of the Sun shot through the Comet's Head.

First, It is said, that the Tail is part of the Comet, or (as Seneca represents Apollonius his judgment) the long Tail is the form of this kind of Planet: The Body of the Star is made of this Figure. But, according to Aristotle, i. e. if it be a Peripatetick Comet, the Head of it is supposed to be troubled with Fumes and Vapours, and these be­ing over-heated by the Sun, are set on fire, and so the Tail is no other than the flame of the burning Me­teor.

But seeing a Flame by its natu­ral Lightness tends upwards, why is not the Tail of every Comet ex­actly erect? For they suppose Co­mets to be low, and their Flame to be seen in its just proportion, where­as the fixed Stars and others are not [Page 37] supposed to appear Shaerical, be­cause of their vast Distance from us, which confoundeth all distinction of Figures.Piso's Spe­cul. Comet. One very Astronimi­cally skill'd solves it thus:

The Flame of the Comet (saith he) doth not move directly up­wards, and appear erect because of the solid Orb above it; (for he be­lieves these Comets with Tails or Beards are in the Concavity of the Orb of the Moon:) hence the Flame is forced downwards, just as the Flame in an Oven or Fornace, bea­ten from above, strikes towards the sides. But if it be so, how happens it that the Flame is not seen on both sides or ends, but onely on the hinder part of the Comet? How comes that part which is next to the Sun to be always with­out a Train or Stream? The Flame of the Comet is driven by the Wind towards one side, as we see plainly in Torches when the Wind blows, so the Peripateticks give an account [Page 38] of the Tail or Bush of a Comet. But if it were caused by the Wind, then there must be always a great Wind stirring as long as Comets appear, and the Blaze of these would increase as that increases; but I never read that any such Observation was made, and we know by experience that Calms have accompanied the Appea­rance of Comets, whatever vio­lence of Weather happened after­wards.

Besides, if the long Train were occasioned by the Wind, it would also disappear when the Wind is al­laid. Moreover, the Wind hath not blown from the same Point of Heaven all the time of the Comet's appearing. And that it should doe so to all Comets is yet stranger: You may as well say, and main­tain it, that the Wind is ever in the same Corner. But, after all, if I should add, that Comets are a­bove the Wind, as it is hugely pro­bable [Page 39] they are, then this way of solving the Difficulty is quite over­thrown.

In short, according to the Ari­stotelian Hypothesis of a Comet being a heap of Inflamed Exhalati­ons, I do not see how the Tail can be made out; for this being a Flame, and lighter and rarer Matter than the head of the Comet, it should tend upwards in the form of a Py­ramid, as it fares with all other Flames.

Again, such a heap of viscous Vapours must needs burn on all sides, if it be equally kindled, and then the long Train is spoiled: or if the matter doth not burn equally, then certainly There where the Fuel is most capable; and how can that be supposed to be always just opposite to the Sun? But if the Wind cannot solve the Phaenome­non the Sun must: accordingly Ke­pler, Gassendus, and others say, that the Tail, being of the same [Page 40] matter with the Head, onely more rare and subtile, is driven and thrust by that force of the Suns Rays to­wards that part of the Heavens which is contrary to the Sun.

It was soon seen that this thrust­ing and shoving of Sun-beams was a very precarious Notion; and therefore the most judicious Astro­nomers go another way to work. They abandon their Opinion who think the Tail belongs to the Sub­stance of the Comet, and is a Flame issuing from it, and in stead of that they defend this for Truth, that the Tail or Beard is no other than the Beams of the Sun transmitted through the Diaphanous Head of the Comet. This is embraced by Cardan, Longomontanus, Scaliger, and that famous Triumvirate of Astronomers, Tycho, Kepler, Ga­lilaeus. If these say true, the Trans­parent Body of the Comet is illu­minated by the Solar Rays, and the Sun, thus shining through it, [Page 41] and causing a various Refraction and Repercussion of Light, makes that Splendour which we call the Tail or Tresses of a Comet. In or­der to this they fancy the Body of the Comet to be like a Globe or Ball of Glass, which by its Diapha­nousness imbibes the Beams recei­ved from the Sun, and those Beams passing through it appear on the Reverse of it. Such a kind of Tra­jection or striking of the Sun's Rays through the Head or Body of a Co­met, is the cause of its Beard or Tail. But this will not clear the Point; for then the Tail should not be of that Figure it appears, but of a Comick one, as the Rays appear behind a Glass-Ball, viz. broad to­wards the Glass, but narrower and sharper the other way. But the Trains of Comets appear otherwise, they being large and wide at the Cuspis, or end, but lesser and more contracted towards the Head of the Comet. Thus the Laws of Opticks [Page 42] and the Rules of Perspectives will be indangered if we tie our selves to this Hypothesis.

Besides, This is attended with other insuperable Difficulties; for if the Comet be Diaphanous, where are the Suns Rrays terminated, and by that means reflected to us? There ought to be some Opake matter to stop the Rays, and so to reverberate them to us. Say that by the Transparency of the head of the Comet the Sun's Rays are trans­mitted, and so the Train is in a fair way to be made, yet there is required moreover an Opacity to receive and turn back those Rays to our Eyes, that we may see them. This is done, if Tycho Brache's say­ing so will suffice:Astronom. Instaur. Progym­nasm. The Rays of the Sun (saith he) passing through the Comets Head meet with some matter in the Aethereal Region which is darkish, and so reflects them back to us: thus the blazing Stream is produced. But,

[Page 43] First, This supposes Thick and Opake Matter in the Aether, which ever before passed for Pure, Subtile, and Perspicuous.

Then, Suppose there were such Matter in the Aethereal Regions, yet if this reflexion were from the Aether, why are we so long with­out Comets? for in that Im­pure Aether, which lies behind the Comets, the beams are reflected constantly.

Likewise, if the Beard of a Co­met had no other Production, it would be spread not onely towards that part of the Heavens which is directly opposite to the Sun, but on every side. And this also leads me to enquire after an answer to the Other Question I started, viz. Why the Bush or Main of the Co­met always turns it self from the Sun, and consequently if it appears before Sun-rising, it points towards the West, and if it be seen in the Evening it stretches itself towards [Page 44] the East, sometimes directly, at other times with some Deviation more or less, either Northward or Southward?

I having invalidated that Tenet of the Suns Beams passing through the Head of the Comet, and being reflected to us from I know not whence, there can no solid Reason be given of their direct Opposition to the Sun. And then as for those who say the Comets propagate and transmit such a glaring Light to us by Reflection (as all the Planets do) from the Sun, (for according to Hevelius, and some others, the Head and Tail of Comets are dark Bodies,) it is certain that if they borrow all their Light and Blaze from the Sun, there is yet a more desparate and forlorn account given both of the Tail of a Comet, and of its Opposition to the Sun, and then also the Moon, and Saturn and all the other Planets would be Bearded or Tailed.

[Page 45] I might now enquire into the different Species, the various [...] (as the Philosopher calls them) of Comets. For this Stream which I have been discoursing of is not always of the same Configuration, but hath appeared in divers Shapes and Resemblances. These several Species are set down by an Anci­ent Astronomical Poet in a very Elegant manner,Manilii Astronom. 1. l. and by a Philo­sopher almost as ancient, (I mean him whose Treatise of Comets I have occasion often to use) who reckons up Twelve several Species of them, Nat. Hist. 2. l. 25. c. But I fore­see it will be more proper to enlarge on this particular when I come to the next general Head of this Dis­course, where I shall handle Comets as real Signs. In the mean time I will entertain the Reader with some other matter which is Perti­nent to our business, and which will give him a further Insight in­to the Nature and Quality of these [Page 44] [...] [Page 45] [...] [Page 46] marvellous Appearances, and serve to advance the knowledge of such as are inquisitive Searchers into the Works of God.

Of the Number of Comets some­what may be said; I will give you the Sum total of the Catalogue which Baptista Ricciolus hath made, and that is 154. for so many Co­mets had appeared in the World from 480 Years before Christ's Na­tivity to the Year of our Lord 1618. His Catalogue reaches no further either backward or forward; but Hevelius takes a wider compass, for the Comets (saith he) recorded by the Historians, or Philosophers, or others, from the time of Noah's Floud (of what was before that, he pretends not to give any account) to this day (and he writ his Come­tographia in the Year 1668) are in number 250. It is not unlikely that some others have appeared, and even from the beginning of [Page 47] the World, as when God cast Adam out of Paradise, (of which anon,) but they have not been re­gistred and transmitted to the no­tice of Posterity.

That which I shall observe to you is this, That many of these Comets, and others that appea­red since, have fallen to our share in a short time. We have seen five or six of them in less space than Twenty Years. For, not to go back so far as the Year 1618. when four Comets appeared one after another, (some or all of which are discoursed of in the Writings of the greatest Astrologers of that time) we can with ease remember the years 1664. and 1665. both which are me­morable for the dreadfull appea­rances in each of them, but they are the rather to be mentioned by me now, because they are most signal Instances of the Direfull E­vents which insue Comets, if such a Pestilence and Fire as presently [Page 48] after happened may be styled so. Afterwards, in the Year 1672/3;, we were visited with another Comet, and again, in 1680; and lately, in this present Year 1682. These in so short a time, in less than the space of Eighteen Years, are very Nota­ble. If I prove that these Strange Lights are Boding, (which I am hastning to) I cannot see but that we shall be very much concerned.

I might add one word of the Time, which is another Apendage or Circumstance of the Doctrine of Comets. It hath been observed that they appear indifferently at all Times of the Year, the Spring and Fall, Summer and Winter, as is evident from the Tables of Co­mets which are extant, which a­grees with that of Seneca, Non ma­gis certum est illis (i. e. Cometis) Tempus quo appareant, quàm Locus ullus ultra quem non exeant. cap. 12. But the Autumn generally is the time [Page 49] of their appearing, say the most Astronomers: but if you demand a Reason to be rendred of it, it will be impossible to offer one that is sa­tisfactory, especially if Comets be acknowledged (as they have been for a considerable time) to be situa­ted above the Moon, and even a­mong the highest Planets; for earthly Exhalations cannot mount in a short time to so high a place. So that it is in vain to enquire into the Reason of the Time, as well as other circumstances, of their Ap­pearance.

I could say something also of the Colour of Comets, for History is full of Variety here, represen­ting some as pale and wan, o­thers as darkish and cloudy: some as golden or yellow, others, as silver like, bright, clear, and so transparent that Stars have been plainly seen through them: some of a ruddy complexion, and bloudy, and fiery, [Page 50] others of a leaden and livid hue, all differing according to the mix­ture of more or less Light.

Lastly, the Smell as well as Co­lour of Comets hath been taken notice of; and this hath happened onely then when they have hung hovering near the Earth; an In­stance whereof Historians give us in that Comet which was seen A. D. 396. in which they acquaint us that a strong and Sulphureous Smell was felt.

And thus I have, in pursuance of the first Task I set my self, en­quired into the Nature of these Hea­venly Bodies: I have particularly considered their Origine, Make, Figure, Situation, Motion, and the rest of the Phaenomena apper­taing to them. And I may with confidence aver in the close of all, that he who sees not how diffi­cult, if not impossible, it is to un­riddle the Nature of Comets, sees [Page 51] nothing in Philosophy and the Na­ture of Things.

What contrary Accounts do Phi­losopher give of them?

Those that will not wholly grant the Efficacy and Operation of Co­mets, must, whether they will or no, confess their Influence in This, that they have caused grievous Wars and Feuds among Astrono­mers, who (we see) are engaged with great vigour against one ano­ther, and in the conclusion pur­chase nothing but Obscurity and Uncertainty. The variety of their Opinions, and the interfering of some of them with Themselves, undeniably prove to us, that the things they search into are rather to be admired than explained.

I think I have at one time or other read a good round compa­ny of Authours that treat of Co­mets, and I could never yet find [Page 52] that the most knowing and judici­ous among them are confident and peremptory in the asserting of their Hypothesis about them: no, they unanimously acknowledge their Ig­norance and Shallowness, they own themselves to be non-pluss'd, and have no other Esteem and Appre­hension of these strange Sights than of things most wonderfull and asto­nishing.

One of the greatest Natural (as well as Moral) Philosophers that ever the World bred,Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 7. c. 1. speaketh in the beginning of his Book of Co­mets after this manner concerning his intended Disposition of Comets: Quae an vera sint Dii sciunt, quibus est scientia veri. Nobis rimari illa & conjecturare in Occulto tantùm licet. He pretends not to Science, but contents himself with bare guessing.Cap. 30. And (in the same book) he gives this Reason of it, Quàm multa praeter Hos (i. e. Cometas) per secretum eunt, nunquam humanis [Page 53] oculis orientia? Ne (que) enim omnia Deus humanis oculis nota fecit Quota pars operis tanti nostris ocu­lis committitur? The great Go­vernour of the World hath thought fit to hide many things from us, and amongst them the Account of these Phaenomena is one. More particularly he ingenuously con­fesses, that that of the Tail or Bush must be attributed to the Nature of Comets, (so he expresses it,)Cap. 27. and (as he explains himself) to causes which are occult to us.

Though others have thought they have been able to solve these Phaenomena, yet our great Philo­sopher was not ashamed to confess his Inability, and therefore he chose to resolve them into some secret Virtue and wonderfull Power; which also made him style a Comet Novum è coelo Miraculum. Tychon. Progym­nasm. tom. 1. Tycho Brahe, allied to the chief Nobility of Denmark, but more related to generous Truth, speaks thus, Cum [Page 54] iis non invitè sentio qui Cometas in­tra Naturae secreta nondum expla­nata reponunt, eós (que) ex occultis cau­sis provenire asseverant. Comets are rightly ranked in the number of those secrets of Nature which are kept close to this very day, and it is very rational to believe, that they are the Products of hidden Causes. Both this excellent Astro­mer, and another clebrated Mathe­matician,Regio­montanus. whom Germany boasts of, frankly acknowledge the shal­low notices they have of these Bo­dies, and, like true Philosophers and Christians, confess, that the won­derfull Works of God surpass Man's profoundest Knowledge.

And hear the faint words of that admirable Astrologer, who is so fa­mous for his several learned Trea­tises,Kepler Op­tic. Astron. Quia quantum volo non possum, liceat ergo quantum possum proesta­re; Since I cannot, by reason of the difficulty of the performance, make what Discoveries I would [Page 55] about the nature of Comets, I will sally out as far as I am able, though I know (alas) my Attempts will be very Feeble and Imperfect, where the Subject I treat of is so lofty and arduous.

What saith that Modern Mete­orologist?Fromon­dus. Ego Cometas in maxi­mis & abditissimis Naturae Miracu­lis pono: If any one would know (saith he) what account I make of Comets, I declare, that I rank them among the greatest and most hid­den Miracles of Nature. And after he had been rendring a Reason of the Tails of Comets, and refuting other mens Opinions, he complai­neth that he remains unsatisfied, and that such Lank Accounts would rather starve than satiate an inqui­sitive Mind, Haec tamen non omni­no mihi mentem implent, Meteorolog. l. 3. c. 4. sed abe­undum tamen jam est vel semifame­lico. And speaking there of other Phaenomena of the Beard or Tail, he concludes at last most devoutly [Page 56] and ingeniously in these words, Sed quàm ne (que) hoc, ne (que) quicquid aliud prospicio, mihi intellectum in tranquillo ponit! Ite nunc, morta­les, & acie illâ Divina rimamini & penetrate, quam unius etiam Come­tae barba vobis hebetat & obtundit. Neither this Hypothesis, nor any other, that I ever met with, yields me satisfaction. How then can ye, fond Wretches, pretend to search, and even pierce into Divine Myste­ries with that sorry Wit of yours, which you see one Hair of a Comet is able to blunt and turn the edg of? And so he goes on to confess and be­wail the defects of Philosophy and our Understandings.

Another Writer,Franc Re­sta Meteo­rol. l. 1. c. 5. on the same Subject, talks after this rate, Haec quidem possibilia sunt, sed non nisi Divinando determinari possit quali­ter de facto res se habeat: Perhaps this way of explaining the Nature of Cometh is not altogether impos­sible, but in my mind there is no [Page 57] man can directly tell us how things really are, unless he had the Art of Divining.

A late Astronomer, in imitation of the Great Men before cited,Ricciol. Almagest. Tom. 1. pars poster. reckons Comets inter Arcana mun­di, & abditissima naturae Miracula: and in the same place he makes bold (and yet with a great share of Modesty) to say, that God pro­pounds this Splendidum Aenigma nunquam solvendum: he puts this Riddle to the World which no Phi­losophy will be ever able to explain. This subtile Jesuite, who had set down and examined whatever o­thers had writ concerning the Pro­duction of a Comets Train, and its turing it self constantly from the Sun, as if he despaired of solving the difficulty in a Philosophical way, at length betakes himself to this Freak, viz. Ricciol. Tom. 1. de Cometis. that the Face of the Comet is turned towards the Sun like an Heliotrope, or as one Face of the Loadstone turns it self to [Page 58] one of the Poles. Would not one imagine that he might as well have said, to solve all, that the Head of the Comet had Brains, and knew when it was to Face about?

There is Another who refers the business to a secret Antipathy be­tween the Rays of the Sun,Fancisc. Fernan­dez. and those of a Comet, insomuch that these latter are, as it were, afraid of the former, and consequently flie away from them. But the Je­suite grows more sober afterwards, and finding, after all his exquisitive Searches, that the Doctrine of Co­mets was obscure and unaccoun­table, at last he ascribes the Make and whole Regimen of them to God,Tom. 1. pars poster. or some Intelligences; and in the close of his Learned Tractate of Co­mets he ends thus, In re adeò in­certa liceat tandem nobis ex hoc Labyrintho si non exire, at certè evolare. It is impossible (saith he) in such a perplexed Maze as this, to find my way out fairly and or­derly; [Page 59] and therefore I hasten to get out how I can.

You hear in what humble and despairing Language they utter themselves. And it is certain, that the Persons who speak after this manner had great Insight into Phi­losophy, and were the chief Favou­rites and Confidents of Nature. It had been an easie thing for them to have pitched upon an Hypothesis, and gone through with it against all Opposers; and they had Credit and Authority enough to back what they had a mind to avow. This was not the course they took, but they suspended their Judgments, and nothing but mighty Dissatis­faction and Amazement appear in their Writings; and instead of be­ing positive and decretory, they confessed themselves Silenced and Puzzled. These great Dictators in Philosophy would not be found in this odd posture, if the matter of their disquisition were not some [Page 60] thing Extraordinary and Wonder­full, nay, if every thing in these Bo­dies were not Rare and Astonishing: which is a demonstration that they were set up in the Heavens on pur­pose to call our Eyes to them, that they were designedly placed there to create Wonder, and to be taken notice of, and that they are the Amazing Finger of God to the World.

But though the wisest and sub­tilest Heads were backward in gi­ving an Account of the Natural Philosophy of Comets, yet (as you shall be convinced afterwards) they are plain and peremptory in deli­vering their Opinions concerning the Effects, Ends and Events of them, the consideration of which is my next, and indeed my Main Bu­siness.

Having then dispatch'd our En­quiry into the Matter, Figure, and other Properties of Comets, I am [Page 61] to shew you in the Second Place, that they carry in them the true Nature of Causes and Signs, or (as others are pleased to word it) of Operative and Indicative Signs. Some have stifly denied both these, but I doubt not but I shall make it evident to any Considerative Man, that they lie under a great Mi­stake.

I assert then that Comets signi­fie both Naturally and Arbitrarily, that is, in Themselves, and like­wise by Divine Institution. Whe­ther you consider them Physically or Theologically, they are certain Indications and Signs of future E­vils.

To prove them to be Causes or Operative Signs I will treat of them first Physically, and here I will of­fer to you these two things;

1. That they have a Connexion with the Nature of the things pro­duced.

[Page 62] 2. That they are plain Repre­sentations and Resemblances of the things signified, as Signs ought to be.

First, I say, They have some Agreement and Connexion with the Nature of those things of which they are said to be Omens. And it is necessary that this be cleared un­less we will step directly into Ma­gick and Divination. The things which lead us to the knowledge of future Events must have a Natural Connexion with the things they are said to point at, or else they may justly be reckoned to be vain and Fantastick: as Tully excellently proves the vanity of the Gentile Di­vination from this, that those means which they used, as the Bowels of Animals, the Chattering of Birds, and the like, had no cognation and alliance with the fortuitous things, the knowledge and foresight of which they pretended was acquired [Page 63] by them. He shews that there is not any Consent or Sympathy be­tween these things, and thence con­cludes they are Cheats and Impo­stors. And so here, it may be just­ly asked, Are future Evils produced by Comets as by their proper Causes? What certain Connexion is there between those Calamities and these Apparitions, so as that we should be able to gather from these, that such effects will assured­ly follow? We are certain that the Philosophers of old thought there was some Affinity between them, and that Comets were both Signs and Causes. It is vouched by them once and again, that great and vehe­ment Winds, and excessive Drougth, are the Physical Effects of these Appearances. [...], if they appear often,Aristot. Meteor. l. 1. c. 9. they portend Winds and Drougth. And imme­mediately after, [...], [Page 64] if they be frequently seen, the years are remarkably Dry and Tem­pestuous.Lib. 2. 7. c. 28. Our Philosopher in his Na­tural Questions is of this persuasi­on, and observeth, that after Comets (and he gives particular Instances) great and continued Tempests (ac­companied with Earthquakes) fol­lowed, as the Natural Effects of them. And not onely the Anci­ent, but Modern Sages aver the same. Thus the Learned Kepler, (lib. de Cometis) and Cardan (lib. de rerum varietate, l. 1. c. 1.) prove the Natural Effects of Comets, and the latter of these is not confuted by his acute Opposer, (Scalig. Ex­ercit. 79. &c.) According to these it is no uneasie thing to make it e­vident, how by the extraordinary and hurtfull Heat which is produ­ced by a Comet, both when it is in Sight, and after its Extinction, several other Evils are caused in a Natural way. From the Air and [Page 65] Earth being infected, how easie a consequence is there of Barrenness and unfruitfull Seasons! If it once be admitted that Comets distemper and inflame the Air, and exhaust the Succus of the Earth, it will ne­cessarily follow, that a barren Soil, and the corrupting and blasting of the fruits, must be the Products of them: And from these will natu­rally ensue Dearth, Scarcity and Famine. And, as the inevitable Effect of both, we must expect Sickness, Diseases, Mortality, and more especially the sudden Death of many Great Ones, because these are sooner and more easily hurt than others, for their delicate Feeding, and Luxurious course of Life, and sometimes their great Cares and Watchings, which weaken and in­feeble their Bodies, render them more obnoxious than the vulgar sort of People. Hence it is that Comets may deservedly be said to presage the Death of mighty Mo­narchs [Page 66] and Princes, to be Funeral Torches to light Kings to their Tombs. And because by their noxious and infectious Irradiations, Mens Bloud is apt to be heightned into Fevers and Calentures, and all malignant Distempers, and even in­to the most contagious Diseases, the Consequence of a Raging Pesti­lence from a Comet is very easie and natural, if not almost necessa­ry. Thus it is plain, that the greatest and most dreaded Calami­ties have a Dependence on these Prodigies, and are the Real and Physical Effects of them.

And whereas it is Objected, That the Effects of Comets (as they are presented to us by those that treat of them) are contrary to one ano­ther, this is soon answered; for that there should be Contrary Effects from the same Cause is no unusual thing in Philosophy; wherefore great Inundations likewise (no less than Drought) may be the Product [Page 67] of these Causes; for that intempe­rate Weather which the Flames of Comets beget, causeth an extraordi­nary heap of Vapours and Exhala­tions to be drawn up, which form themselves Naturally into Clouds, and those Clouds in a short time must needs fall down in excessive Showres and immoderate Rains. And it might be shewed also that great calms, as well as Storms and Tempests, Cold and Frost, no less than extreme Heat, may be the Effects, i. e. secondary Effects of the same Cause.

Moreover, It is no hard Enter­prize to shew how Comets are the Causes of Civil and Political, as well as Natural Events. For from what hath been said be­fore, viz. that they portend the Death of Princes, it follows, that they probably Bode great Changes and Vicissitudes in Kingdoms, in re­ference to Religion and other Mat­ters; for History abundantly in­forms [Page 68] us, that these are oftentimes the Consequences of a new Prince's succeeding in the Throne.

Besides, from the inflamed Spi­rits of Men, caused by a distempe­red Air, Wars and Tumults, Broils and Seditions naturally proceed. So that Comets have been the Causes and Forerunners, not onely of great Storms and Concussions in the Air, but of Turbulent and Tempestuous Seasons in the State, of Confusi­on, Massacres, Slaughter, Bloud­shed, and Mischiefs of all Dimensi­ons, both at home and from foreign Quarters. These have been thought, by men of sober Philosophy, to have been the significations and Pre­sages of Comets. I will sum up all their Dire Effects in these plain Verses which I lately met with:

Dira Cometarum proles pestis (que) famésque,
Seditio, regum foedera, vincla, neces.
[Page 69]Excidium patriae, ventorum prae­lia, morbi
Insoliti, caedes, funera, nulla fides.
Dissidium nubis, tremulae telluris hiatus,
Fulgetra cum tonitru, fulmi­neae (que) faces.
Aestates siccae, aut nimio mox im­bre madentes,
Externo infuso milite vastus ager.
Dira locustarum volucrúm (que) exa­mina, regum
Translata hostili sceptra viden­da loco.
Abdacti ex patria populi, civilia bella,
Diluvia, & pecorum non abo­lenda lues.
When once a direfull Comet spreads its Train,
Contagious Deaths, and pining Fa­mine reign.
[Page 70]Monarchs make Leagues to render Empire sure,
Sedition now keeps Gaols and Deaths in ure.
Countreys are Sack'd, impetuous Storms arise,
And Bodies feel unheard-of Mala­dies:
Slaughter grows bold, Faith seeing this expires;
The heated Clouds disclose their in­bred Fires,
And now by Sympathy in Thunder groan,
Th' Earth Quakes and Trembles at the dismall Tone.
Heaven mourns in scorching droughts, and then again
Despairing weeps in lavish showres of Rain.
A foreign Foe in glittering Arms ap­pears,
And dries up the poor Remnant of our Tears.
[Page 71] The Airy Region then displays its Host
Of scarce-known Fowls which hover o'er the Coast.
See next how Sceptres here and there are hurl'd,
And Regal Globes are tost about the World.
Some are led Captive to a Foreign Strand,
Whilst Wars at home afflict their Native Land.
Great Deluges come next: and' cause the Fate
Is Vniversal from a Comet's Date,
Not onely Men but Beasts must in it share:
Hence Rot and Murrain are the Cat­tels fare.

Such Effects as these may be ex­pected from those Causes; and I do not see why they may not be called Physical Events, since they proceed from those as from Natural Causes and Agents. Nor doth the emi­nently [Page 72] knowing Kepler dissent from this, though (when he speaks of the Comets, that appeared in the Years 1607, and 1618.) he holds they are the Causes of Disorders and Calamities here below, by a cer­tain kind of Sympathy which the Sublunary Elements have with the Heavenly Bodies: for notwithstan­ding his expressing himself after that manner, he means no other than what Aristotle, Ptolemy, Car­dan, and others, did, viz. That there is a Natural Connexion be­tween Comets and those Evils which are seen to ensue them▪ though it must be granted that these Porten­tous Sights are not Necessary Causes, i. e. Those Dismall Effects do not certainly and infallibly follow them: one is not necessarily and always the Product of the other, (of which more hereafter.)

But that which I say, and I think I have proved, is this, that they are commonly chained together like [Page 73] Natural Causes and Effects, and that the Natural Power of those Causes is able to produce, and ge­nerally doth actually produce such Effects; and this is enough to prove them to be True Causes.

Secondly, They are (as Signs ought to be) Plain Representations of the things signified. We may learn from the very Make of Comets what they are designed for. Their Figure is representative of that which is meant by them. Some­times they display themselves in the shape of Besoms, as if they taught us by that homely Embleme, what we ought to doe, viz. to remove our Defilements and Pollutions, not to say, as if they were sent to tell a Nation that they shall be swept a­way and destroyed for their Sins. How often (without any help of Fancy) doth this prodigious Light appear in the likeness and propor­tions of a Rod, to acquaint us that [Page 74] it was designed to correct and disci­pline a froward People, and that we ought to submit to it's Pedagogy? When we see it at another time re­presenting it self like a Torch or Flam­beau, [...] how can we think otherwise than that it is sent to give more Light to the dark World, or if it despise that, to shew that it deserveth to be burnt up? I know that all this will pass with some for mere moral Reflexi­ons or divine Fancies. It will be said that some devout Fools will make things to be like any thing they please. But then I desire to know whether the old Pagan Philoso­phers were a sort of Religious Fools, whether Seneca and Pliny (whom I have often brought on the Stage,) especially the latter of them, whose Writings let us understand he was one of Those Fools who say in their Heart there is no God, whether These, and all the profound Astro­nomers who have writ of the Figures of Comets, and did it not to exer­cise [Page 75] their Fancies, but to display their Judgments, whether These, I say, were Religious and Fancifull Fools? Untill this be Answered I proceed.

Who knows not that these strange Flames appear most com­monly in the shape of Military Weapons, and Instruments of War and Bloud? You may see one ap­pear like a Dart or Arrow; [...]. another like a Lance or Spear; [...]. a third bow­ed like a Warlike Horn or Trumpet; [...]. as it were to sound an Allarm from Heavens a fourth in the figure of a Sword, [...], & Ensiformis. a known Weapon of Bloud and Slaughter. The Head of This Last represents the Hilt, and the Train the Blade of the Sword, which sometimes is streight, and sometimes like a Falchion. Several of this sort have been seen in the World. It is very probable that That at the beginning of things, I mean that Flaming Sword which turned every ways at the entranceGen. 3. 24. [Page 76] of Paradise, belonged to this Spe­cies. Indeed this could not have been better expressed than by the Original [...], and by the Version of the Seventy [...]; especially with the addition of the Adjective [...] anceps, bipennis, two edged, representing a Sword which cutteth both ways, i. e. Both the sides of that Comet's Tail were alike, and of equal make: And whereas the Text saith that Cherubims were placed at the en­trance of Paradise, it lets us under­stand that Angles were particular­ly Administring in shewing this ex­traordinary Prodigy, and perhaps for this Reason among others these Ministring Spirits are called a Fla­ming Fire, Psal. 104. 4. This Comet (as it is the Nature of them) produced Barrenness; the Earth (according to the Curse) brought forth Thorns and Thistles. This likewise presaged all the other sad and deplorable Effects of our first [Page 77] Parents Expulsion out of Paradise. Such a Sword-Comet appeared in the Year of our Lord 70, or 71, being the first Year of the Empe­rour Vespasian. It hung over Ieru­salem a whole Year before it was Taken and Sack'd by Titus, Joseph. de Bell. Iuda­ic. l. 6. c. 31. as one who was an Eye-witness of it as­sures us.

But lest that should be thought to be God's peculiar and singular En­sign, and not to be parallel'd, or to be made use of in the present Case, (as some will not permit us to al­ledge this Instance of Ierusalem's Comet,) I will produce some others, and the most remarkable I have read of are these which follow:

A terrible Xiphias, or Sword-Comet, appeared when the Civil War between Octavius and Mark Antony began, which was 42 years before Christ's Birth. Another of the like Figure shewed it self A. D. Nicephor. Eccles. hist. l. 12. c. 37. 383. or (as others) 392. in the Reign of Theodosius: This appea­red [Page 78] 40 days, and was a little before Valentinian was slain, and Eugenius invaded the Western Empire. Such another Flaming Sword was seen over the City of Constantinople, a­bout the Year of our Lord 400. This [...] (as the Histori­an calls it) was so great, that it reached from the Horizon to the Zenith. Nicephor. Eccl. Hist. l. 13. c. 5.Socrates Eccl. Hist. l. 7. c. 6. Sozomen l. 8. c. 4. and of this likewise speak o­ther Historians. This happened when the so much dreaded Gainas, the Barbarous and Tyrannical Com­mander of the Gothes, brought the Gothish Army into Thrace, and mi­serably wasted the greatest part of Greece, and was about to encom­pass Constantinople, and take it. An Ensiformis, but of lesser size, ap­peared 30 days in the Year 632,Funccius Spondanus or 633. before Persia was taken by the Saracens. These were no Fan­tastick shapes, such as the feigned Images and Iconisms of the Con­stellations of the Dog and Bear, &c. [Page 79] but they were Real and Substantial, and no man need nourish any la­vish Fancy to make out these Shapes and Resemblances; from which we may certainly infer that they are truly Significant and Presaging. I must confess that Gaffarel (in his Book of Curiosities) and Cornelius Gemma (de Nat. Charact. divin.) are too Fantastical in their interpre­ting the Figures of Comets, and too punctual in determining the effects from such Likenesses and Shapes. But, as I am no Slave of these Cos­mocriticks, so I must needs profess that it is irrational and impious to disregard the Finger of God in the peculiar shape of some Comets, be­cause some idle Writers have indul­ged their Fancy and Humour, and have shewed themselves conceited in the account they give of the Fi­gures of Comets.

Thus far I have considered these Heavenly Bodies Naturally, and as they are in themselves: Now it re­mains [Page 80] that I treat of them Theolo­gically, as they are by Divine Ap­pointment and Institution rendred Significative.

It is the Pleasure of the great Moderatour of all things, (and that is sufficient) that these should be set up as Signs. And This is acknow­ledged even by those who will not be brought to confess the former. [...].Damascen. de Fid. Or­thod. l. 2. c. 7. The Heavenly Bodies are not con­stituted Causes, but Signs of Wars, saith a Religious Man. Future oc­currences are discovered by these Heavenly Lamps, Non Naturali Causarum nexu & ordine, Petav. The­ol. Dogm. Tom. 3. l. 1. sed Dei Natu & Auxilio, saith another. Nego Cometam (saith Fromondus, Meteor. l. 3. c. 3.) calamitatum Phy­sicam causam, non nego tamen Sig­num ex Institutione divina esse, quam omnium temporum Historia affirmat. But I will make it plain, that Both [Page 81] these are very consistent, and that the consideration of Comets in both these respects is Rational and Ac­countable. We may treat of them not onely as Natural Philosophers, but as pious Men and Christians. I know God sometimes speaketh to the World by Supernatural Signs, without making use of Second Causes, and even against the course and order of Nature. These are Divine Signs onely; but now I am speaking of such as are Natural Signs and Causes, i. e. produced in a Natural way wholly or partly, and are Physical Causes of such and such Effects, and yet are Divine Signs likewise: For it may be worth your observing, that the Same things may be Natural Causes and Effects, and yet Divine Tokens. The Rainbow signifies the Cove­nant between God and Man, and therefore is styled the Token of the Covenant, 9. Gen. 13. but withall it is a Meteor that hath a Natu­ral [Page 82] Production, and the Cause of it is made out by Philosophy. Fire and Brimstone from Heaven burnt up the lewd Sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah, and yet when I reade in Gen. 14. 10. and in profane Writers, that these Cities were near to ma­ny Pits of Slime, and fat and pitchy Clay, I can well conceive also how that dreadfull Conflagration was carried on even by Natural Causes, how the Fire broke out of the Earth to meet that which rained from Heaven, and consequently how the Destruction of those places may partly be attributed to the Nature of the Soil, and the Combusti­ble Matter it afforded. The Tower of Babel was without doubt demo­lished by the Signal Hand of the Almighty;Antiquit. l. 1. c. 15. De Praep. Evang. l. 9. c. 4. yet it may be true which Iosephus relates, and after him Eusebius, that that great Pile was thrown down by a Tempest and extraordinary force of Wind. With which agrees the Sybil's Verse, [Page 83] [...].—Lib. 3. Orac. In Elias his time the Drought which happened in Syria and Iu­daea, was a Calamity which is wont to be produced by Natural Causes, and from it Naturally fol­lowed a Famine; but both these were peculiar Signs of the Divine Anger, and by these God shewed his Wrath against the Sins of the People. The Thunder and Light­ning which were procured by Samuel were in Harvest Time, (1 Sam. 12. 16.) which is supposed to be a warm Season, and there­fore according to the Natural course of things a fit time for that sort of Meteors; yet we know that they were designed to be marks of God's displeasure and Anger. And the Ho­ly Scripture informs us how at other times God hath created Awe and Terrour by them. The Jews re­ceived [Page 84] their Law in Thunder and Lightning, and on other occasions were affrighted into a remembrance of their Duty by the same means. The voice of Thunder rouzes some stupid Souls into the serious belief of a Divine Power. Coelo Tonan­tem credimus Iovem. Horat. Nothing in Nature leaves such impressions of Fear as loud and repeated Thun­derclaps. Some Emperours who were in a manner Atheists, (and notwithstanding that (which is strange) made Themselves Gods) yet used to Tremble at this horri­ble Allarm from Heaven, and to confess a greater Power than them­selves, which is as much as to dis­own their Self-Divinity. This made Caligula get under his Bed. And Tiberius, another of Iupiter's Bro­thers and Fellow-Gods, was glad of his Chaplet of Laurel to secure him from Lightnings. These few Instances above named are sufficient to convince us, that the same things [Page 85] are not onely Natural Causes or Ef­fects, but that they signifie by God's Appointment. And This may be applied to Comets, which as they are produced themselves in a Natu­ral way, viz. from a Collection of matter in the Heavens, though af­ter some uncertain and unaccoun­table spaces of Time, so they pro­duce Effects in the same Natural course: and yet God uses them as Tokens of his Wrath, and appoints them to be Divine Signs, and to Bode extraordinary things to come. Which was the sense of one of the Writers of the Byzantine History. [...].Mich. Gly­cas. Annal. pars 1. The Comets (saith he) which are seen in the Air are produced in a Natural way, yet withall they proclaim the Deaths of Kings or other Illustrious Personages: And for this he quotes St. Basil the great. From which it [Page 86] is evident that the same Things may have certain and manifest Causes in Nature, and are likewise appointed by the Authour of Na­ture to presignifie future Events, so that it is possible not onely to attain to a Physical Knowledge of them, but a kind of Divination. But my main business at present is to make good this Latter, and to prove that Comets are Signs of future Calami­ties ex Instituto Divino, that it is God's Will and Pleasure they should signifie such things.

In order to this I will onely pre­mise that God gives Notice before­hand by evident Tokens what he intends to doe afterwards, suppo­sing there be no Prevention by a­mendment of Mens Lives. This is the meaning of the whole sixth Chapter of the Book of the Revela­tion, which is an Account of the Opening of the Seals, and sets be­fore us the Forerunners of the Iudg­ments which were to follow. And [Page 87] though it is presented in the way of a Vision, yet if Mens Eyes were Open it would be seen to be the usual Method of the Most High in the World. Accordingly I aver, that Comets are Warnings and Har­bingers of God's Wrath and Displea­sure against the Wickedness of Man­kind, and also of the Effects of that Displeasure, which are some ensu­ing calamities. They are undeni­able Arguments that there is some great Disorder in the World, and that things are exceedingly amiss. They are signal Testimonies that Sin and Vice are predominant; for these are the onely things that pro­voke God to Anger. Now those prodigious Appearances in the Hea­vens are fitted to this Purpose, (viz. of allarming us, and giving Notice of ensuing Evils) because they are both unusual and affrighting.

First, As they are Rare and Un­usual, they are serviceable to this [Page 88] purpose. For it happeneth, it seems, by the Make, or rather the per­verse Disposition of Humane Na­ture, that what is common and fre­quent, and according to the ordina­ry course of things, is slighted by us, and thence it is necessary that we should sometimes be surprized and extraordinarily moved by Ob­jects that are rare and uncommon. Sol spectatorem nisi cum deficit non habet. Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 7. cap. 1.Si quid turbatum est, aut praeter consuetudinem emicuit, spec­tamus, interrogamus, ostendimus. Adeò Naturale est magis Nova quàm Magna mirari. It is an Ecclipse that makes the Sun to be gazed at. If we espie any thing that is strange and out of Order we presently stare at it, we start many Queries about it, we point at it, and shew it to others. So natural a thing is it be­come to admire what is Rare, ra­ther than what is Great.

But the Appearances we are speaking of are both Rare and Great, [Page 89] and therefore doubly deserve to be taken notice of, and to be made the Subject of our deepest Admiration. Worthily did our Philosopher be­gin his Book of Comets with those excellent words, Nemo usque eò tardus & hebes & demissus in ter­ram est ut ad Divina non erigatur, ac totâ mente consurgat, utique ubi Novum aliquod è coelo Miraculum fulsit. He must be a Sot indeed, and sunk into the very Earth who doth not lift up his Soul to God, and what is Divine and Heavenly, as soon as he beholds such a miracu­lous Apparition as a Comet.

Again, These great Bodies are Affrighting, and that on a double account.

First, The Rarity of them (which I before spoke of) makes them so. For to what purpose are these unu­sual Spectacles shewn by God to the World? To what end are these [Page 90] strange Shapes set before us? There are innumerable Lights of Heaven of an entire round Figure which we constantly behold, but what mean these which appear but sel­dom, with fiery Scrolls or flaming Labells issuing from them? It is downright sottishness to think that these are set up for vain shews and useless sights. It is unworthy of Providence to defend this. But it is highly reasonable to think that they are appointed by God to af­fright and terrifie the World, to denounce future Judgments, and to forewarn Men of the Wrath to come, and to let them expect the emptying of the Vials of God's An­ger upon them.

Secondly, Their Posture and Fi­gure, (as hath been partly sugges­ted already) render them Terrible. They have such a Frame and Shape given them by God as is apt to stir up Fear and Dread. You have read [Page 91] in what Images they appear: And though I know it may be said that there are other Shapes (besides those I mentioned) which are not danting and affrighting, yet, as those Bo­dies themselves are Irregular and Monstrous, and of a Figure diffe­rent from all the Luminaries of Heaven, they are on that score Terrible. And you may remember that all the Phaenomena belonging to Comets (of which I have given a particular Narrative) breed an un­speakable amazement and Conster­nation. Wherefore are these strange Lights hung up so high in the great and spatious Theatre of Heaven, but that all Eyes should behold them, and tremble at them? In short, the Eternal Being looks an­grily upon the World in the Blaze of a Comet.

If it be asked Why God gives Warning of future Calamities by such Harbingers? I answer, He doth it,

[Page 92] 1. That Men may Expect and Provide in time against those un­happy Events. And the mercifull Governour of the Universe bids us by such Monitors Prepare for his Judgments, either by making our selves ready to receive them with Patience and contentment, or by what wise Expedients we can to guard and defend our selves against them. Appositely whereunto saith the Byzantine Annalist,Mich. Glyc. An­nal. par. 1. [...]. God indul­ges to men certain Signs by which they may have a Prospect of what shall be, and so by that means con­sult their Safety when the Storm cometh: according to that remark of the wisest Head, A prudent man foreseeth the Evil, Prov. 22. 3. and hideth him self. Or,

2. We are admonished by these Heavenly Nuncio's wholly to Pre­vent [Page 93] and Divert the Evils which are Threatned. And this is to be effected by humble Prayer and Sup­plication, by Repentance and Turn­ing unto God. These Celestial Prodigies are purposely set up by the Omnipotent Creatour to fright the wicked out of their sins. They are Admonitions to them that they should not indulge their Pride, Lust, Oppression, Covetousness, Pro­faneness, and that they should not think because of their greatness and Riches to goe unpunished. As often as a Comet appeareth, a solemn Fast and Humiliation should be ob­served, Devout and Earnest Pray­ers should be put up, to divert the Storm from falling on our Heads, and that utter Confusion and De­struction may not be our portion. Pope Calistus, above 200 Years a­goe,Platina in vit. Calist. ordered the Litany and Pub­lick Prayers to be solemnly said se­veral Days together, merely upon the appearance of these Signs. The [Page 94] nicest Protestant may safely follow this Order, I mean, have recourse to his Prayers upon the same Ac­count. A Christian Divine cannot have a better Text to preach Re­pentance from then a Comet. Hence he may with a becoming Warmth and Zeal invite Men to amend their ways, and to be recon­ciled to the Incensed Majesty of Heaven, and so to flee from the Wrath and Vengeance which o­therwise would fall upon them. This Finger of God beckoneth from Heaven to call us thither. These Signs Above are to make Us better who are Below. They are sent for the sake of the Good, even the Wise Virgins, who are sometimes incli­ned to Slumber, and to be forget­full of their Duty: for the sake likewise of the Worst and most se­cure Sinners, who run greedily in­to all excess of Riot, and refuse to be reclaimed by the usual means which are afforded them. Such [Page 95] Wretches may haply be startled out of their Security, and have their Eyes opened by these unusual and strange Flashings of Fire from above; these Flames from Heaven may be serviceable to keep them out of Hell.

If this sounds like popular Preach­ing, and be counted Pulpit-Ha­rangue, I will be cantent to sit down a while; and let us hear what kind of Doctrine a Lay-Astro­nomer (and he one of the most ac­complished and judicious that this latter Age can boast of) will deli­ver on this Subject. Thus he Preacheth on the Comet that ap­peared in the Year 1607.Kepler De Physiologia Cometa­rum, l. 3. p. 3. Affirmo Cometam hunc à Deo inter sidera ex­hibitum, ut esset Testimonium uni­versis & singulis mortalitatis suae, ut (que) admoneantur decretum esse Deo brevi bonam generis humani partem promiscuae conditionis, quacunque fa­ti lege, ex hoc mundo transferre.— Monere ita (que) Coelestem Praeconem ut [Page 96] pro se Deo quilibet reconcilietur, mi­grationi se paret. The sum of this Great Man's Astrological Theolo­gy is this, That the Appearance of Comets, those Celestial Heralds and Criers, is for such weighty pur­poses as these; namely, To remind men effectually of their Mortality and unsetled duration of Life, to ac­quaint them that it is the design of Heaven in a short time to snatch the present Inhabitants out of this World, and to translate them to another: and therefore that all ranks and conditions of men are concerned to fit themselves for their Departure, and to make their Peace with God before they go hence. What an Admirable Funeral Dis­course doth this Christian Astrono­mer make on a Comet! Let us hear another Sermon on the same Text, a Text which I have already, and shall yet farther prove to be the Word and Voice of God. Thus then I will give you in English the sense [Page 97] of what you may reade in another Language of that Modern Glory of Mathematicks,Bapt. Ric­ciol. Alma­gest. Nov. Tom. 1. par. poster. l. 8. Comets (saith he) are ordained by Divine Providence, that we should lift up our Eyes to Heaven, and admire God in his vi­sible Tokens there, that we may be invited to a Dread and Reverence of the Divine Majesty, by behol­ding such wonderfull and unusual Signs, that we may daily expect some great thing in our own and other Countreys, and provide for such Tidings; that we may, by the Fear and Awe of God wrought in us, betake our selves speedily to Repentance and a holy Life: and lastly, that hence we might have some Representation and Specimen (as it were) of the Sign of the Son of Man, and of those terrible won­ders in Heaven and Earth, which shall precede the Coming of Christ to Judgment. Lo! what excellent Divinity a Comet affords! How devoutly do these Sons of Vrania [Page 98] discourse! But you do not hear them talk thus of the Sun, Moon and Stars, the ordinary and leiger Luminaries of Heaven. No: They know there is a vast difference be­tween Them and the other extra­ordinary Heralds that make their Appearance to us. These are made for other uses and purposes, and as they are fatal in themselves, and in their own Nature, so they are signs set up by God ex Instituto, to fore­token future Evils.

But how can we certainly know that Comets are Appointed for such purposes? If they are Divine Signs, where hath God told us so?

I answer, God speaks to and in­structs Mankind not onely by his written Laws, the Sacred Scrip­tures, but by the Dictates of Rea­son, by the course of Nature, and by Acts of Providence. God speaks by These as well as by his Word. These are plain Intimations of his Mind, and hereby he is used to dis­cover [Page 99] to us what he would have us doe or forbear. I may know God's Will and Pleasure by the Order and Frame of things which he hath con­stituted in the World, and by the frequent Results and Consequences of them.

From the Consideration that Co­mets are of a Peculiar Make and Figure, and in all respects different from the other Heavenly Bodies, and also from the General and Per­petual Observation that they prove Fatal to Countries and Kingdoms, (as Kepler, and several other emi­nent persons have observed, and particularly set down the publick Miseries and Calamities which have insued in divers Nations soon after the appearing of Comets: and the History of all Ages hath given a­bundant proof of it) from these Con­siderations I am sufficiently Autho­rized to look upon them as God's Hand. I am forced by this to take notice of the Divine Pleasure and de­sign in them.

[Page 100] But if any one shall still urge the Question, and ask me, Where are we told that these Comets and Pro­digies are Divine Signs?

I Answer, We are told so direct­ly in the Infallible and Holy Book, by one who was an accurate Ob­server of the Works of God; Thou hast given (saith he) a Banner (or) a Sign, Signum, Syr. Arab. Castal. [...] Seventy Interp. Significati­onem, Vulg. Lat. a Token unto them that fear thee, Psal. 60. 4. Thou, O God, who are mercifull to all Mankind, but in a special manner to those who fear and serve thee, art pleased to give warning of approaching E­vils, and as it were to hold up a Signal, that thy Servants may be admonished to avoid the impendent Danger, even when hardned sinners are overtaken and crushed with it. Such a Banner was that which ap­peared to Constantine the Great, presaging, as Victory to his Army, so Confusion to that of his Enemies. Such a Signal and Token is every Bearded Light that sheweth it self [Page 101] in the Heavens, though 'tis difficult to bring some prejudiced minds to believe it.

I answer again, that the Scrip­ture expresly abetts this Doctrine in the 28th of Deuteronomy, where Moses, or rather God, threatens the People, that if they will not observe to doe all his Commandments, all these Curses shall come upon them, viz. Scarcity, Famine, Drought, Pestilence, Sword, Blasting, &c. Now these Calamities are the signs of God's Wrath, for they are de­nounced and threatned here as such: whence it undeniably follows that the Causes and Procurers of them, which I have proved Comets to be, are no less the Signs and Marks of the Divine Displeasure; for no rational Man can deny, that the Cause here must be of the same na­ture with the Effect: So then these Menaces and Threatnings in Scrip­ture prove those Appearances to be Significative, and that they are ap­pointed [Page 102] by God to portend evil Ti­dings to the World.

You see then what it is I defend, viz. That Comets are Signs of ap­proaching Calamities, and Moni­tors of God's Anger to Mankind. If upon some difficulties which might be alledged, I should be in­duced to wave the one, yet I per­suade my self the other is impreg­nable: But I have proved both, especially the latter, which I most insist upon. And I may lawfully, without being over-bold, conclude from the Premisses, that these ex­traordinary Lamps of Heaven are presages of future Evil, and that God hath instituted and impowered them for that end.

I have now dispatched my Se­cond Task, and in that I have part­ly prevented my self as to the Third which I propounded, which was to shew what abundant Suffrage my Assertion hath from all ranks of Writers. But now I will purposely [Page 103] pursue that Undertaking, and I will be the shorter in it because I have done so much towards it al­ready.

That it may appear then that I maintain no Paradox, and that I dote not on an Opinion by my self, I will let you see that what I have offered concerning the Presages and dreadfull Effects of Comets, is the Sense of the Wise and Judicious; and if Authority be an Argument, we must needs close with the side I have taken. Let the Poets stand forth first, who were the Earliest Philo­sophers, Naturalists, Astronomers, nay, the first Divines, and therefore Competent Judges in the Case.

The Prince of Poets (and therefore I will begin with him) enumerating the several Prodigies which fore­signified the Death of Iulius Caesar, and the Civil Wars which after­wards followed, makes this Re­mark among the rest,

[Page 104]
—Nec diri toties arsere Cometae.
Virgil. Ge­org. 1.
Never so many cursed Lights
Were seen before to plague the nights.

And in another Book,

Sanguinei lugubrè rubent.
Aeneid. 10.
These Comets blush in Gore to think
What Deluges of Bloud they drink.

Marcus Manilius, an Ancient Poetick Astrologer who lived in Caesar Augustus his days, and dedi­cated his Books of Astronomy to him, relates the dismal Effects of Comets in the close of the First Book of his excellent Poem,

Nunquam futilibus excanduit Igni­nibus aether.
Manil. As­tronom. 1. l.
With Lights of such a fiery train
The Heavens never burnt in vain.

[Page 105] And then he proceeds to particula­rize the horrid Effects of them,

Squalidá (que) elusi deplorant arva co­loni
Et steriles, &c.

And afterwards,

Quin & bella canunt Ignes, subitó (que) Tumultus,
Et clandestinis surgentia fraudibus Arma.

It would be too tedious an Employ­ment to transcribe all, or to trans­late any thing in that place.

The affrighting and fatal na­ture of Comets is excellently deci­phered by Silius Italicus (who flou­rished in Vespatian's time) in these words, though he brings them in by way of Comparison,

Crine ut flammifero terret fera reg­na Cometes
Silius, l. 1. Punic.
[Page 106] Sanguineum spargens Ignem, vomit atra rubentes
Fax coelo radios, & saevâ Luce co­ruscum
Scintillat sidus, terrí (que) extrema mi­natur.
As when a Comet with its flaming Beard
Appears, at which the fiercest Realms are scar'd,
Scattring abroad its bloudy Fire, and soon
The Heavenly Torch being more dis­mal grown
Vomits out deeper-coloured Flakes, and then,
Having Disgorged thus, clears up again,
And shines with Brisker but more cruel Light,
Threatning the World with Death and its last night.

Though I know some will have this spoken of Three several sorts [Page 107] of Appearances, and they hold that a Comet cannot be said Scintillare (as fixed Stars do,) according to that of Cornelius Gemma, Nullus Come­tarum unquam visus est Scintillante lumine visum ferire, sed tristis sem­per & lugubris tranquillo effluvio. But I onely Reply that Poets do not speak like Philosophers.

The same Person relating the Prodigies that foreran the horrible Slaughter at the Battel of Cannae, speaks directly and positively.

—Non unus Crine Corusco
Regnorum Eversor rubuit Lethale Cometes.
Punic. l. 8.
See! Sholes of Comets their bright Tresses wave,
Blushing to send whole Kingdoms to their Grave.

Another giving an account of the Portentous Sights that appeared before the Civil Wars which hap­pened [Page 108] between Caesar and Pompey, adds this black Character of a Co­met,

—Crinémque Timendi
Sideris & terris mutantem Regna Cometen.
Lucan. l. 1. Pharsal.
Lo! at its wild dishevel'd Hair
Kingdoms run mad, and Statesmen stare.

I might add Claudian's,

Prodigiale rubens.—
De Raptu.

And again, ‘Et nunquam coelo spectatum impunè Cometem.’

And Tibullus his ‘—Belli mala signa Cometen.Lib. 2. E. leg. 5. [Page 109] That likewise of another Astrono­mical Poet,

Apparere solent, Regalia Fata, Co­metae.
Palingen. l. 11. Zodi­ack.
A Comet in the Heavens burns
To light great Monarchs to their Vrns.

I might add to these a piece of venerable Antiquity, viz. part of the Sybills Verses, (now they may deservedly be called Oracles) which speak of the Signs and Presages of future Distresses.

Sibyl. l. 8.
Look what Strange Lights do mount the Hemisphere,
And in the Skies what Bearded Flames appear;
Sure Omens ever of a Labouring State,
Of bloudy Battels, and a Hostile Fate.

And in another place, (l. 3.)

What can these blazing Tapers else portend,
But Sword, and Famine, and the fa­tal end
Of some great Warriors, who are wont to call
And by bold Actions court their sud­den Fall?

[Page 111] I conclude this Rank of Authours with that plain Determination of some Ancient Sage, now scarce known,

There never yet a Comet shone
But evil followed thereupon.

But perhaps it will be said that Poets are a fancyfull sort of People, and for that Reason are not much to be heeded. They talk of Men and Women turn'd into Stars, and indeed they have a gift of Extolling persons to Heaven when they please. They will make a Head of Hair a Constellation, as they did Berenice's, and what will they not then doe with the Shagged Locks of a Comet? We know what they have done in that Case: they have represented them (as they ought) fierce and ter­rible, and though they cloath their matter in verse, yet they are as se­rious [Page 112] as any prose. If it be said that they speak according to the sense of the Vulgar, (whom it is their work to please,) and therefore are the less to be attended to, I answer for them and my self together, that though I do not find my self incli­ned to be led by Popular Humour and Caprice, yet I see no reason to reject and explode an Opinion be­cause it is Common, and hath had the General Suffrage of Mankind to vouch it. This should rather prompt us to embrace it with the greater Seriousness, and induce us to believe, that what hath thus gained the Universal Vogue of the World, is certainly founded on some clear Deductions of Reason which are Common to the whole Race of Men.

But I will pass from the Poets to Others who are thought to be of Profounder Judgments. Expect now no Fancies and Raptures, but solid and judicious Determinations.

[Page 113]To begin with the great Oratour and Philosopher, he backeth the Prince of Poets, acquainting us that in the Civil War between Octa­vius Augustus and Mark Anthony, it was observed that Comets were the Harbingers of the Miseries that then befell them: Stellae quas Grae­ci Cometas, nostri Cincinnatas vo­cant, nuper bello Octaviano magna­rum fuerunt Calamitatum praenun­ciae. Cicero. l. 2. de Nat. Deor. And in the same place he leaveth this se­rious Memoire for Posterity to con­sider of, That this is a Truth which hath been confirmed by various Ex­amples (many of which he instances in) from All Antiquity.

Next let us hear the two Ex­cellent Natural Philosophers who writ purposely of Comets (if I may once again bring them in to testifie in this Cause, after I have done it so often.) A Comet (saith Pliny, l. 2. c. 25.) is Terrificum mag­na ex parte sidus, ac non Leviter pi­atum. [Page 114] A Star (so he calleth it) which in a huge manner terrifies and astonishes the World, and ne­ver goes off without great Mischief. And he sheweth the Truth and Ex­perience of this in the foregoing Age and in his own. Take Seneca's Thoughts in those few but plain words, Nat. Qu. l. 7. c. 17. Cruenti quidam, Minaces, qui Omen post se futuri sanguinis serunt. Some Co­mets (he would have said All, but that his Master Nero was not to be offended, as you shall per­ceive afterwards) are very cruel, and threaten us with the worst of Mischiefs: they bring with them and leave behind them the seeds of Bloud and Slaughter.

Next, let us look into a few Hi­storians, and see whether they were of the same Mind. The Comet which was seen in Nero's time is thus mentioned by one that writes his Life, Stella Crinita, Sueton. in Nerone. quae summis Potestatibus exitium portendere vul­gò [Page 115] putatur. But this being an Ac­count onely of the vulgar Opinion, let us hear him speak his ownsense; which he doth in another place thus: Praesagia mortis ejus praecipua fuerunt exortus Crinitae stellae, Sueton. in Claudio. quam Cometen vocant. The chief and most Considerable Presage of the Empe­rour Claudius his Death was a Co­met which was observed to rise in the Heavens. The Ecclesiastical Historian gives us this Note upon Gainas (that bloudy Arian) his Be­seiging Constantinople, Socrates Eccl. Hist. l. 6. c. 6. [...]. So great was the danger which hung over the City, that it was presigni­fied and portented by a huge Comet that reached from Heaven to Earth, the like to which no man ever saw before. What saith another in his Relation of a Comet which appea­red before the Death of Iohannes [Page 114] [...] [Page 115] [...] [Page 116] Tzimiscas the Emperour of the East?Cedren. Hist. com. pend. [...]. It foreshewed the Death of the Em­perour, and those immediate Ca­lamities which were to befall the Roman Dominions by reason of their Civil Wars. And of a won­derfull large Comet that was seen in the Reign of Constantine, Sir­named Monomachus, he speaketh thus, [...] It Portended Calamities that were to befall the World in a short time after. Shall I set down here the memorable Words of Anna Comnena, that Learned Lady, the Daughter of Alexius, the Greek Emperour, whose Life she writ, and call'd it Alexias? She, speaking of a great Comet that was taken notice of before the breaking in of the Galls upon them, thus deliver­eth [Page 117] her sense: [...]. This hap­pened (saith she) by the usual Ad­ministration of Providence in such cases, for it was not fit that so great and strange an Alteration of things as was brought to pass by that coming of theirs should be without some previous Denunciation and Admonishment from Heaven, A­lexiad. l. 12. And this Noble Fe­male Historian tells us, that all the Enquiry then of Spectatours was, [...]; What Evils doth this New Light in the Heavens come to warn us of? What strange Tidings doth this Messenger from above arrive with? Let me adjoin the remarkable words of Machiavel, that great Master of History and Policy, who thus speaks of Comets, Vt ut se res ha­beat, Experientiâ certè compertum habemus talia signa sequi solere mag­nos [Page 118] aliquos Motus. However it co­meth to pass, so it is, that we have it vouched by Experience, that some great commotions are the consequents of such Signs as these. Disp. l. 1. c. 56.

Now I will produce professed Mathematicians and Astronomers who have maintained the Presage of Comets. And not to name Clau­dius Ptolemaeus, the Prince of Astro­logers, who flourished about 135 Years after Christ, and settled this Doctrine in the 98, 99, and 100 A­phorisms of his Centiloquium; I will onely make use of such as are Enemies to the Judiciary part of Astrology, and some of whom have professedly, writ against it. Such a one was the admirable Tycho Brahe, who yet denieth not the Presage of Comets, It being irrational (saith he) to think that God and Nature shew these unusual Lights to no purpose, and that they are of no use to the World: and accordingly [Page 119] he sets down his Conjectures and Prognostications of the New Ap­pearances then in the Heavens. Onely he condemns those who are peremptory, and imagine their Conjectures to be infallible, and in the close of the first Tome of his Pro­gymnasmata (where he delivers this) he laments the Weakness and Shal­lowness of our Knowledge concern­ing the Stars, much more of those that are extraordinary Luminaries.

I forbear to transcribe the words of another Modern Astronomer,Longo­montanus. a Learned Dane, and contemporary with the Assistant to the Noble Ty­cho. You may consult his Appen­dix ad Astronomiam Danicam.

A Third great Ornament of Ma­thematicks his few words to this purpose are very observable.Christoph. Clavius. Wri­ting concerning the New Appea­rance in 1572, It a mihi persuadeo (saith he) stellam illam vel tunc à Deo Opt. Max. procreatam esse ut Magnum aliquod Portenderet, quod [Page 120] cujusmodi sit adhuc ignoratur. Which though, it is confessed, was not spoken of a Comet, yet it is sufficient to discover the sentiment of that profound Astronomer, as to the Presaging Nature of Vnusual Sights in the Heavens, and parti­cularly of the Bearded Lights we are discoursing of.

A fourth Learned Mathematici­an,Piso. Spe­cul. Cometae. who writ of the Comet that appeared A. D. 1618. and saith lit­tle there in favour of the Significan­cies of those Phaenomena, yet at last he shuts up with these notable words, It is not my design, not­withstanding what I have delive­red of Comets, to reckon them as vain Scare-crows and Bugbears, but let there be, for all me, this Opinion fixed in Mens Minds, That there are portended by them great Evils and Calamities, where­by God (who hears and sees what we doe, and is both Judge and A­venger) is wont to revenge the In­juries [Page 121] which are done to him.

I could give you several Passages (savouring of a Christian Philoso­pher) out of the Works of that lear­ned Professour of Mathematicks in Maidenberg, who Commented with so great Credit on the Second Book of Pliny's Natural History: take that short one thus, Ideò Perter­refacti & Attoniti spectamus Come­tas quia tot seculorum Observatio testatur magnas Clades orbi terra­rum, Milichius Commen­tar. Excidia Civitatum, Regno­rum Mutationes, & alias publicas Calamitates per Cometas denunciari. There is good ground for the usual behaviour of Men as to Comets, for they have Reason to gaze at them with so much Terrour and Astonishment as they do, because it hath been proved by a large Induc­tion of Experience and Observation, that they denounce great Slaugh­ters to the World, Sacking of Ci­ties, Subversion of Kingdoms, and other publick Disasters.

[Page 122] I will adjoyn also the Suffrage of the Skilfull in Theology, who can­not be denied to be competent Judges of these Heavenly Objects. One of the Ancient and most Re­nowned Fathers telleth us that a Comet foresignified the Death of Constantine the Great;Basil the great. Hex­aëmer. and he pro­ceeds to pronounce more generally, that as often as those rare Specta­cles visit the World they are the Signs of the Succession of Kings, [...]. And ano­ther speaks home to the point, saying, [...].Theodoret Quaest. 15. in Genes. When we see a Co­met or Bearded Star, we know thence that the Invasion of Enemies, or the Destruction of Cattel, or a great Mortality among Men are approaching. Those Venerable Lights of the Primitive Church, Tertullian, Augustine, Chrysostome, [Page 123] professed they were persuaded that these New Appearances are imme­diately sent by God as fore-runners of some dismal Effects; but I for­bear to set down their particular Words: and the rather because I am sensible that the Ancient Fathers are little regarded by our Youthfull Opiniators, who are wont as rude­ly to pluck at these Reverend Beards as at those of Comets. I will give these men a Taste then of some Divines of Latter Times. Besides what hath been already alledged out of the Writings of the Learned Professor of Divinity at Lovaine, This may be added out of the same Authour, that the end and Design of all Comets is Comminatio Divi­nae Manûs & Flagelli imminentis, Fromond. Meteor. l. 3. c. 3., a Threatning the Inhabitants of the Earth with some wonderfull stroke and Scourge which they shall in a short time feel from God's Hand. An honest Preaching Frier will tell you as much in an AstrologicalCampanel­la, Astrolog. l. 2. [Page 124] Essay of his, where he admires the sottishness of those Persons who cannot be brought to an Admirati­on of Comets, and will by no Ar­guments be persuaded of a Truth which shines so bright, viz. That these extraordinary Bodies Bode Disasters to the World. Another Modern Clergy-man of great Note (and who might also have been ranked among the Mathematicians) delivers his sense after this manner, Ista quidem quae rariùs eveniunt, Dionys. Petav. The­ol. Dogm. Tom. 3. l. 1. c. 10. ne (que) Ratis ac Descriptis Intervallis ex­istunt, ut Cometas, Igneas Effigies Armorum, ac reliqua ejusmodi, ar­bitror Signa esse Malorum ingruen­tium divitùs, & ex Alto edita ad perterrendos & commonendos homi­nes—Non temerè creduntur Cri­nita illa Sidera certis temporibus os­tendi Divinitùs, velut ex alto sig­na quaedam impendentium Malorum, cujus rei plenae sunt Historiae. Nec is sensus est Mathematicorum tan­tùm ac Divinaculorum, sed etiam [Page 125] Piorum & gravissimorum hominum, quos omnes (ut de Vulgi tam altè conceptâ opinione taceam) falli ac de­cipi, non est asseverare Prudentis. The Attestation of this person is the more considerable, because he was a Professed Enemy not onely to Genethliacal Predictions, but to all other Astrological Divinations, which he undertakes to confute in the 3d Tome of his Dogmata Theo­logica, book 1. chap. 9. The im­port of his noble Testimony is no other than this, that these rare and unusual Bodies, which have no set and periodical Time of Appearing, are Certain Signs of Future Events. It is no rash and groundless belief that these are on purpose set up on High to be as it were Beacons to give notice of some imminent dan­ger, and to be looked upon as sig­nifications of very dreadfull occur­rences. This is confirmed by the History of all Ages, and this is the sense not onely of Judiciary Astro­logers, [Page 126] and such as pretend to Di­vination, but of the most godly and serious Heads, who certainly make a considerable number in the World: and no man in his right Wits will say that All these (not to speak now of the Vulgar) are de­ceived, and conspire in one grand Errour.Maravig­lia. Pseudo­mant. Ex. plos. Disser­tat. 13. I will offer you the words of a late Learned Italian Divine, Professour of Ethicks in Padua; they are these: It is assured (saith he) from the known Experience of all Times, that whensoever Comets appear, they portend some Changes, Slaughters and Calamities, but the Cause of such things is not easily assigned, nor hath it been sufficient­ly searched into by any.Dissertat. 22. And after­wards, when he had enumerated several Comets which appeared in divers foregoing ages, and had as­signed the particular Fatal Accidents which were portended by them and presently broke out, he concludes in such General words as These: [Page 127] In every age of the World Comets have been observed to give Notice of Publick and Common Evils which were forthwith to follow them, nor is it necessary or expe­dient to quote the particular Annals of all Times to make this farther evident. And the Suffrage of this Learned Church-man is the more to be valued because the Design and Aim of his whole Book is to inva­lidate the Presages of all other Hea­venly Bodies; so that it was the mere conviction of Reason and Truth that made him Except these, and declare that they are really por­tentous.

Thus you hear what Poets, Ora­tours, Philosophers, Historians and Politicians, Mathematicians and Di­vines have said of this matter. I have one Testimony more to add, and it is of a Person, who was all these, I had almost said, more than these. For though he was no Divine by Function and Profession, [Page 128] yet how vastly accomplished he was in the Study of Theology and the Scripture, his Works have pro­claimed to the World. And it is as well known how excellent a Po­et, Oratour, Historian, Statesman, &c. and how great a Master of Rea­son and all usefull Learning he was. This man, who was Himself a Pro­digy; thus gives us his Thoughts in few but decisive words concerning these wonderfull Ostenta we have been treating of, Solent magnas re­rum Conversiones praecedere Cometae, Gladii Ardentes, aliá (que) Signa ejus­modi. Grotius in Proph. Jo­el. cap. 2. v. 30. Comets, and Fiery Swords, and such like Signs are wont to be the Fore-runners of great Changes in the world.

I have done now with my Testi­monies, and truly I am heartily glad of it, for I affect not to mus­ter up the Writers, and to see Au­thours stand in Rank and File. I know that good Sense will defend itself without a Bead-roll of Lear­ned [Page 129] Names. But it was Necessary on this occasion to heap up Quota­tions, because those of the contrary Opinion are pleased to brag of their Authours. But I hope it will now appear that all the World is not of their side, and that the as­sertion which I maintain is not one­ly the sense of the Many, but of the grave and wise, the sober and ju­dicious, and those whose Sedate Judgments over-rule their Imagi­nations. Men of all Studies agree in this; Humanity and Divinity concenter here; heathens and Chri­stians, the Popish and the Refor­med, and some of every Persuasion are heard to declare that Comets are supernatural Signs, and were appointed to terrifie and admonish this Inferiour World, and to be Pre­cursors of approaching Miseries. But that which I most mind, is, that we have on our side the ablest Judges and best Advocates of this Cause, for such I reckon the truly [Page 130] Pious and Vertuous to be. I have observed both in Mens studied Wri­tings and ordinary speakings, that those who favour this Point are ge­nerally found to be Persons of a greater Inclination to Piety and Goodness than others are. They seem to have minds more Divinely enlightned, and more inwardly touched with the sense of Religion and the Providence of God in ma­naging the World. And who are they that defend the contrary? Commonly (I do not say always) they are Men of greater Wit than Conscience, they know how to blanch a bad Cause, they delight to shew their Skill in maintaining an Argument and weathering a Pa­radox. They are likewise great Flatterers and Parasites, and love to humour the Age. They nourish the sottishness of People, and give Narcoticks and Opiates to those that are of themselves drowsie and stupid. And if this be done by [Page 131] those who are of that holy Functio­on which engages them to give warning to their flock of imminent Dangers, to discharge the Office of Watchmen, and not to sow Pillows under a soft and Effe­minate Generation of Men; the Crime is yet more Black and Into­lerable. They carry on the Plot of Atheists and Epicures, to root out the Notion of a God, to extirpate Providence, to debauch Mens Lives and Manners, and to blot out the sense of another World.

I am now to enter upon the Fourth and Last General Part of my Dis­course, which is to Answer the Ob­jections which are levelled against the foresaid Doctrine. For so it is that there are a sort of People who in defiance of the Nature of things, the clear Discoveries of Reason, the Direction of Providence, the Di­vine Testimony of Scripture, and a Cloud of Humane Witnesses are resolved to maintain their Post, [Page 132] and in order to that they discharge with great fury several severe Ca­vils against the opposite side, and think thereby to fright others from coming over to Us, and imbracing our Assertion.

First, It is Objected that our Doctrine proceeds from Pride and a haughty Spirit.Gassend. Meteor. These Men (say they) have an over-fond conceipt of themselves, as if God took especial care of them in every thing that happeneth. Can't a Star appear, but it must be for their sakes? What is the Reason they are so con­cerned? It proceeds from no other bottom than this, viz. The unsuf­ferable Vanity which some abound with, who think themselves such Persons to whom Prodigies (for­sooth) must be sent.

I answer,

1. That this is a gross mistake, [Page 133] that Comets or the like Prodigies appear for the sake of one sort of Persons onely, or that any Intelli­gent man ever said so.

2. Whereas it is said that it pro­ceeds from the Pride and vain Con­ceit of Men, that Comets are thought to signifie, I retort with undeniable Truth, that it is the effect of Pride and Arrogance to reckon them as needless and Trivial, and to de­spise the manifest Work of God. Nay,

3. This is an Argument of gross Profaneness as well as Pride. This is clear from the present Cavil that the Patrons of that Cause carry on (as I said) the Plot and Design of Atheistical Spirits, who would ex­clude God from the Government and Care of the World. Whereas it is cer­tain that all ranks of Beings, but especially rational Creatures, are under the Eye and Conduct of Hea­ven. [Page 134] The Stoicks said well, that as Man was made for God, so all things were made for Man. The whole Mass of the Creation is ser­viceable to this Darling and De­light of the Almighty. Man is as it were the Centre of the World in respect of final Causes, Bacon's Sapient. Ve [...]er. saith an un­derstanding Person. The Celestial Bodies as well as those of a lower Order administer to his best Advan­tages. When the Man after God's own Heart had considered the Hea­vens, Psal. 8. 3, 4. the Work of God's Fingers, the Moon and the Stars which he had ordained, he cried out, (as him­self tells us) What is Man that thou art mindfull of him? and the Son of Man that thou visitest him? As if there were no greater Argument and Demonstration of the Divine Care and Providence over Man­kind, than what is to be observed in the Heavenly Bodies. And if it be said that those words speak of the Natural and Regular Appea­rances [Page 135] in the Heavens, as the Sun, and Moon, and ordinary Stars, I reply that the Argument is the stronger on our side; for if the usu­al and ordinary Luminaries are a proof of God's Mindfulness of the Inhabitants of this Inferiour World, then much more the strange and ex­traordinary ones are such. And this is sufficient ground to consider the Heavens (as that Holy man did,) to regard and take notice of the Works of the Lord, and the Operation of his Hands, especially to observe and admire those Signs in the Heavens which so seldom ap­pear. To look up towards them, and take an exact view of them, is most suitable to the piercing Na­ture of Man's Soul, and to the E­rect Figure which God hath be­stowed on his Body. It is so far from savouring of Vanity and Pride to think that those Prodigies are sent for his sake, that it is his duty to believe so, and to attend serious­ly [Page 136] to the import of them. For by Comets God is pleased as by new Arguments to urge and inculcate his presence in the World, that when the ordinary course of Nature and Providence doth not move men, they may be rouzed by these Wonderous and Rare Objects, and have their Eyes effectually opened to see and confess a God.

A Second Cavil is of this nature, viz. that it hath been observed that great Advantages have been the Events to some Persons and Places after a Comet hath appeared, and therefore there is no reason to reckon it as a Sign of God's Anger, but rather of his Favour. Doth not the Philosopher thus speak of the Comet which was seen at the be­ginning of Augustus's Reign, Co­metes in uno totius orbis loco colitur in Templo Romae, admodum Faustus Divo Augusto judicatus ab ipso. And afterwards, Si verum fatemur, sa­lutare [Page 137] id terris fuit. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 25. It was thought to be so auspicious that it was wor­shipped by the People of Rome, and the Emperour himself judged it to be a most happy Phaenomenon.

I Answer,

1. If any one hath maintained that no good Effects or Advantages have ever followed the appearance of Comets, it is nothing to me, I do not defend it, neither is there a­ny Reason for it. It is my Opini­on that the very Rise and Produc­tion of them in those parts of the Heavenly Regions where they are generated is to good and excellent Purposes; for it is probable that the acute Kepler is in the right, who conceiveth a Comet to be a long Collection of corrupt and filthy matter, a kind of an Apostem in the Heavens, that as in Man's Body putrid Humours often gather into one part, so they do in the Heaven­ly [Page 138] ones. And these superfluous and excremental humours breaking out, the Aether (like the Body of Man) is thereby kept Sound and Hale, the unwholsome matter is purged and drained away by these Cathar­ticks. By this means the Heavens exonerate themselves of Noxious Qualities which had been long ga­thering, and would in time corrupt them. So that the evacuating of this matter is for the Preservation of the Heavens. The Sun and o­ther Luminaries fare the better for the expulsion of this gross stuff which would otherwise over-run them with Thick Maculae.

Thus the very Production of Co­mets is advantageous to the Hea­vens. But that is not all; they are so likewise to the Inhabitants be­low.

I have in the foregoing Discourse granted that Comets are sent out of Kindness and Favour to Mankind, [Page 139] as well as to a Contrary End. They are to call the offending World to Repentance, and to remind them of their greatest concern, which things, if they be heartily pursued, will produce unspeakable Advanta­ges and Blessings.

2. I grant that Comets have not been without good and advantage­ous Consequences; and indeed it cannot be otherwise. For the Ca­lamities which happen to some prove beneficial to others. With e­vil Effects there are good ones al­ways joined; such is the excellent mixture of Providence in the admi­nistration of the World. Blessings then may follow Comets. As sup­pose the Plague (which none will deny to be a great evil) be the natu­ral issue of these Prodigies, yet by this a City and whole Countrey may receive great Advantage. A sweeping Pestilence made way for Queen Elizabeth to the Crown, by [Page 140] removing those who were her most Implacable and potent Enemies. By this means a considerable number of bad men may be carried off; and some of those who remain and are spared, may by that Mercy be reduced to a better understanding of themselves, and a thorough a­mendment of their Lives, which are good and desirable Effects. Or suppose War to be the consequence of a Comet, who knows not that if one party is vanquished, the o­ther overcomes? Though Violence, Death and Ruine be the allotment of the former, yet Joy and Victo­ry are the purchase of the latter. Thus that portentous Apparition which Constantine the Great beheld in the Heavens, though it was aus­picious to him and his Army, as the Inscription of it told, yet it pro­ved most Fatal to Maxentius and his Forces. Or say that some great Prince is cut off by the malign In­fluence of one of those Heavenly [Page 141] Signs, then what follows but this, that as he loses his Crown, so ano­ther gets it? And as his being cut off may prove a deplorable Loss and Calamity if he were good, so it may happen to administer the greatest matter of Joy, and actually produce the most Happy Consequences ima­ginable if he were of a contrary quali­ty; and much more, if he be succeeded by a Person who wants none of the Accomplishments belonging to the Character of a King. So that those who started the Objection have gained no more than this, that what is good to one is oftentimes of a contrary Nature to another; those very Events which some find to be Fortunate, others experi­ence to be unlucky and Fatal. Where there is the death of Princes there will be the Succession of new ones. And shew me any man that hath the confidence to deny this.

3. I grant also, that though Co­mets [Page 142] portend and bring evil upon Men, yet the All-wise Maker and Disposer of the Universe can derive the greatest good to them thence. And on This Divine Considerati­on it must be acknowledged that they are Heavenly Evangelists, and Messengers of glad Tidings, they are propitious Flames, and in a Re­mote manner signs of the Divine Fa­vour and Good-will. But

4. I Answer directly, that though they may be followed with some Good Events, yet This is merely Accidental; because it is almost impossible that any evil should hap­pen without some good. If we re­member what was said before, viz. That these Heavenly Preachers are sent to give notice of God's Displea­sure for the sins of the World, we cannot but acknowledge that their Primary Token is the Evil of Pu­nishment, that they are Divine Pre­sages of Wrath and Vengeance, if [Page 143] Men will not repent and amend. Particularly, to reply to the In­stance mentioned in the Objection. It is no wonder that the Comet which appeared after Iulius Caesar's Death, was thought by Augustus to be auspicious, since by his Death he came to succeed in the Empire. But he that shall reade the Relation of the bloudy Wars and horrid Commotions which the People of Rome had experience of immediate­ly after the Rising of that Comet, will be of another judgment, and not call it (as Pliny flatteringly doth) Salutary and Lucky. The grave Sto­ick (whose Morality one would imagine should not teach him to be a Parasite) saith that the Comet which shone in the beginning of Nero's joyfull and happy Reign,Senec. Nat. Quaest. l. 7. cap. 17. Neronis Principatu laetissimo Come­tis detraxit Infamiam, took away from that sort of Prodigies the In­famy which they lay under. It seems then they had before an ill [Page 144] name, they were thought till that time to be unlucky and ominous. Yes, and they were thought so then, and ever after; onely Nero it seems was to be flattered, and Se­neca was to let him know that that strange Spectacle in the Heavens assured great Happiness to the whole World by reason of his Reign. But will not any one who hath read the passages of that Emperour's Life ab­hor such rank flattery, and with greater Reason conclude that that Comet, and others that appeared in his Time, (as no less than four appeared, one whereof lasted six months) presaged the monstrous and unheard of Villanies committed by him when he ruled? That as he came into the World with his Feet forward, which made his Birth ominous, so the unusual Blazes in the Heavens rendred his whole Life por­tentous? Who will not say that they fore told the World of his cruel, in­humane and barbarous Exploits, [Page 145] void of all Compassion and Re­morse? viz. his setting Rome on fire that he might better conceive the Flames of Troy, and sing to his Harp the Destruction of that City: his killing his own Mother, his putting his own Wife to Death, his dispatching with a kick of his foot his Mistress (or rather his Wife afterwards) Poppaea, his slaying his Aunt, his killing his Tutour and Master Seneca, (the very man who here flattereth him and his Comet,) his bloudy Rage against all his Kin­dred and Friends, (as Suetonius saith of him, Nullum adeò necessitudinis genus est quod non scelere percule­rit,) his Madness against the Chri­stians, on whom he maliciously laid the firing of Rome, his implacable Hatred of Christianity it self, which he shewed in being the first that ever made an Edict against it. It was rightly therefore said of an Historian,Cedren. Hist. com­pend. [...] [Page 146] [...]. To all his other Villanies he added this, That he fought against Heaven, and was the first Persecutor of the Word of God. And, as notorious Instances of this cursed and Hellish Rage, Those two great Apostles and Pillars of the Church, St. Paul and St. Peter fell by his Hands. Pli­ny had Reason then to call this Em­perour humani generis hostem, one that had bid defiance to all Ranks of Mankind, and to style one of the Comets that was seen in his Reign Sidus Saevum, a furious and outra­gious Star, l. 2. c. 25. Nay, we are told that upon the sight of a Co­met he found himself enflamed a­fresh to Bloudshed: and he used to put some Noblemen to Death to expiate and purge away the Hurt which these Prodigies procure, as an Astrologer taught him, saith Suetonius. And the same is averred by another credible Historian,Tacit. An­nal. l. 15. Si­dus Cometes, sanguine illustri sem­per [Page 147] Neroni expiatum. And who will not likewise think that the un­usual and strange Appearance in the Heavens in his days signified his unheard-of and prodigious Lust, his Filthyness and Lasciviousness of so monstrous a nature, described partly by the Authour who writes his Life,Sueton. in Nerone. c. 28, 29. and it may be reflected on by St. Paul, in Rom. 1. 26, 27? Who is not enclined to believe that the strange Ostenta in those days seen at Rome, pointed at this execrable Emperour,Theodo­ret. de Cur. Graec. Af­fectib. Serm. 3. [...], who practised all kind of Lasciviousness and Wickedness to the full? Lastly, may it not be thought that they portended his vi­olent and Tragical End, the just Guerdon of his bloudy Life? Thus maugre the flattering humour of a few vain Men, these Sights were Boding and Prophetick, the Fore­runners and Signs both of moral and penal Evils. And the same [Page 146] [...] [Page 147] [...] [Page 148] may be pronounced of all the Bear­ded Flames that ever shone in the World, nay even of the Star which appeared at Christ's Nativity; for though the Officious Sages who came from the East rejoyced at its Appearance, yet without Contro­versie, when it appeared more o­penly and universally, (as it is pro­bable it did afterwards, as I may have occasion to shew at another time, and on another Subject,) it threatned Woe and Misery to the Unbelieving World, and likewise presignified the bloudy Persecuti­ons which the Devil and his Instru­ments would be Authours of a­gainst the Followers of our Savi­our.

A Third Objection is formed thus:J. Scaliger. Exercitat. 79. sect. 2. Many Comets have been seen by us, but they have been followed with no mischief throughout all Eu­rope: Besides, many Eminent and Illustrious Men have dyed, King­doms [Page 149] and Principalities, and No­ble Families have been destroyed without any Notice given by a Comet.

Here are two grievous Impeach­ments together of the Doctrine of Comets. As to the former, viz. That it hath been observed that no Hurt hath followed Comets,

I Answer,

1. That notwithstanding what this daring Objector suggests, you have heard what others, and those of great Credit and Fame, have said and writ. The Renowned Kepler hath set down the fatal E­vents of many Comets. Ricciolus, and Hevelius after him, give us a Catalogue of all the Comets that appeared before and since Christ's Birth, with the remarkable occur­rences that ensued upon them in the World. And now judge whether Scaliger (who was a man that would [Page 150] say any thing for his Cause) out­weigheth this Tripple Testimony of Persons of so good Account: be­sides that Others might be made use of here to attest the ill effects of Comets in the several Ages of the World.

2. Whereas some tell us that no evils have been the Consequences of the Comets which they have seen, I have this to say to them, that it is none of my fault that they do not live to see those Conse­quences. They profess they behold no hurtfull Effects of Comets, and thence rashly infer there are none. But I retort upon them with that which is satisfactory to me, (and may be so to them,) that the Hurt and Evil are deferred, but may come at last. This may happen thus, because of the Nature of Things themselves, Comets do not always operate presently, by rea­son of some Indispositions and Al­terations [Page 151] in the Elements, and the Dependence they often have on se­veral Causes. For this Reason it may be we feel at this very hour part of the Effects of those Comets, which visited us in 1664, and 1665. And it may be we shall not expe­rience the full Influence of the two last which appeared, till some years hence. Say not then, because you see not the Effects of these strange Shews, that they are vain Sights, and because they are not followed forthwith with notable Alterations, that therefore there are no Evils that issue from them. Moreover, It is against the Nature of these Prodigies that they should have a speedy effect, for (as hath been said) they are sent to warn Men of the Judgments which their repeated Crimes deserve, and to stir them up effectually to be sensible of their condition, and to mourn for their Offences, and implore the Divine Favour, and betake themselves to [Page 152] Newness of Life. For the Perfor­mance of These the great Lover of Mankind allots them some conside­rable time, and accordingly doth not presently inflict the punish­ments which he threatneth, but expecteth and waiteth for their a­mendment. And if that happens, He wholly Averteth his Wrath and Indignation. Which directs me to another Answer to the Objection, and it is this,

Suppose the Observation had some Truth in it, viz. That fatal Changes and calamitous Accidents have not ever been seen to be the consequences of Comets, who is there that cannot dive into the Rea­son of it? Which is no other than this, That the Divine Goodness and Philanthropy, and Man's time­ly Repentance and Conversion pre­vent the inflicting of those Calami­ties which were portended by the appearing of the Heavenly Prodi­gies. [Page 153] God sends not those Evils which he Threatned. That is all that can be gathered. How idly and incoherently then do they dis­course who deny all Presage of Co­mets, because they do not present­ly feel the Effects of them? Nay, how impiously and blasphemously do they talk who assert it Ridicu­lous that God should intend these to be Monitors of Repentance, and yet not let us see the Fatal Events produced by them?

And thus I think the first part of the Objection is pretty well clea­red: and Men may sometimes look for the Effects of Comets, and not espie them, not because Comets are not by God's Appointment Threat­ning and Presaging, but because the Infinite Compassion of Heaven de­ferreth or averteth the impendent Judgments. Which agreeth with what was maintained before, viz. That Comets are not Presages whol­ly of Evil, but they are likewise [Page 154] Collaterally and Remotely Tokens of Mercy to Mankind, i. e. if they Repent: otherwise they denounce nothing but Vengeance.

These Bodies then do not Ne­cessarily and Vnalterably signifie E­vil, but Conditionally, i. e. if it shall seem good to God, and if the Inhabitants of the Earth do not re­pent of their sins. And indeed it was rightly said by a celebrated Jewish Doctor,R. Kimchi in Jon. All the Evils that God threatneth to Men, are threatned with this condition, If they do not repent. So that Comets speak not the absolute and inevitable Futuri­ty of such Events, but let the Per­sons know to whom they are shew­ed what they are to expect, and what shall certainly happen unless God be pleased, for Reasons and In­ducements best known to himself, to interpose between the Sign and the Events. The great and exces­sive Drought in 1681. may be rea­sonably looked upon as the Effect [Page 155] of the Comet in 1680. And we may remember what was the con­sequent of that unusual driness of the Earth, viz. The price of Hay in a Months time, or a little more, was risen from 15 s. a Load to 40 s. and we were in expectation of more dismal Effects of that Drought. But the price of the aforesaid commodi­ty fell in few months to its ordinary Rate, and we were delivered from our other Fears. Thus the God of Heaven shewed us what we deser­ved, and then was pleased to re­move it.

Thus it is possible some expected Events may be frustrated, and yet Comets in their own Nature, and by God's Appointment, are omi­nous and prognostick.

And as for the latter part of the Objection, viz. That it is observed sometimes that God sends Calami­ties where Comets have not been the Forerunners, and therefore it is [Page 156] likely no Calamities are caused or signified by them.

I have these two things to an­swer:

First, it doth not follow that, because Comets foresignifie Wars, Pestilence, Famine and the Death of Princes, therefore a Comet must necessarily appear as often as Fa­mine or Plague approach, or when­ever Wars and Deaths of Princes allarm the World; for it depen­deth wholly on God's free Will and Pleasure, whether there shall be a­ny Signs or no: and as to the Time of exhibiting them, that also is at God's disposal. Besides, the Ar­gument is fallacious, for though every Plague, or War, or Dearth be not ushered in with a Comet, yet it doth not follow thence that none are, or may be.

Secondly, Though all the great and publick Calamities that happen [Page 157] be not presaged by Comets, (as I readily grant) yet they may be, and usually, if not always, are by some other Forerunners and Signs, if not in the Heavens, yet in the Air, or Earth, or Waters; for there are other Omens beside those a­bove.

This then doth not in the least disanul what I assert, that some great and extraordinary Events (and such are supposed to be rare as Comets themselves are) are pre­signified and procured by those Bo­dies, and that at what time soever they appear, future Perils and Di­stresses, of one kind or other, are threatned to the World, and though they are not seen or felt in one part of it, yet they may be in another.

And under this Head likewise, and by virtue of what hath been said here, the frivolous Objection of those Men is removed, who de­ny all Significancy of Comets, be­cause they are not such Signs as di­rectly [Page 158] and positively point at parti­cular Evils and Events, because we cannot learn from them what cer­tain Evil will befall the World. Hence they are styled by the Ob­jectours Useless and Fallacious Signs, and it is unbecoming God's Wise­dom (say they) to set up such in the World.

Thus they irreverently and wickedly teach men to despise God's Works. And (which is the more to be lamented) such Lan­guage falls from the Pens of great Pretenders to Divinity and Philo­sophy.

Fourthly, It is Objected that some Comets travell many Coun­tries, and pass over the Heads of di­vers People, as particularly the Dreadfull Comet in 1680. was seen not onely all over Europe, but in the most remote parts of the World: How then can it be known what particular place it was design­ed [Page 159] for? Who can tell where its In­fluence is to light? Is there any Reason why we of this Island should be concerned? Many things may be said to silence this Cavil:

1. If a Comet be universal (as is supposed in the Objection) then its Influence is such likewise, and then we are certain that we, as well as other Countries, are concerned But,

2. Suppose we cannot tell to what place a Comet hath a special Respect, and at which Nation it doth as it were levell its malign Rays, yet the Appearance it self ought to make us carefull, and to provide against such Events as may happen, because we may be (for ought we know) particularly con­cerned. And this is the whole de­sign of this Treatise. Yet let it be remembred,

[Page 160] 3. That though a Comet travells through several Countries, and sheweth its flaming Train among many People, yet they are not all equally under its Influence. For though it may be seen by several Countries, yet it is not directly and vertically placed over them all, but darts its Beams Perpendicular­ly on one or some onely. And whereas some curiously observe which way these blazing Lights cast their Rays and spread their Train, I look on it as the product of vulgar Errour and Mistake, (though I know too that some of the Lear­ned are pleased with it) for this sort of Bodies always turn their Faces to the Sun, and their Tails from it: so that there can be no ground to make any Judgment of their look­ing towards this or that Countrey or Kingdom. But it is reasonable to observe how high they mount, and whether they hang perpendicularly over our Heads; for the farther they [Page 161] climb in our Hemisphere, the more powerfull are their Rays, and their Influence the more pregnant. This too is to be considered that the lon­ger Time they stay with us, and the oftner they appear, the greater undoubtedly is the Presage which we may expect from them. And we are to consider the Magnitude of a Comet as well as the time of its Duration; for the greater it is, the Effects of it are proportionably so too, and they continue the lon­ger. All these things must be at­tended to, and then we shall easily be induced to grant that the Influ­ence of Comets is not alike as to all Countries and People. To instance in the Comet in 1680. whatever Influence and Aspect it had on other Regions and Inhabitants, We of this Island may be convinced from the Premisses that it nearly concer­ned us: for its apparent Greatness, height of Ascension, and Continu­ance are so many Demonstrations [Page 162] of it. How large must it needs be when, being situated not far from the Horizon, it almost reached with its Tail to the Zenith, or Mid-Hea­ven? How great think you was it when it was seen to extend it self in length about 50, nay, sometimes 60 Degrees of our Hemisphere? And the time of its stay also was very considerable, and made it the more portentous and terrible: for it appeared two whole months to­gether, unless when the Clouds hindred it from being seen; and it was three months visible in one place or other, which is the utmost and longest Duration generally of a Comet. I have read but of two that attained to this, viz. That Sword-Comet which hung over Ierusalem, and that which was seen in the beginning of Nero's Reign, which lasted six months, if Seneca may be credited (Nat. Qu. l. 7. c. 21.) though Pliny, who li­ved at that time, tells us, (Nat. [Page 163] Hist. l. 2. c. 25.) that Fourscore days is the longest space of time any Co­met continueth, which wanteth a hundred days of six months.

It is certain that the extraordina­ry Continuance and Duration of that late terrible spectacle, signifi­ed that the Events which were to insue it should continue long. And the last which appeared, viz. in the Year 1682. made a considera­ble stay, and tarried many weeks with us, and though its Magnitude was not to be compared with that of the former, yet its Aspect and Influence are to be accounted the more significant, because it visited us with such quick returns, i. e. not onely in the Evenings, but in the mornings.

4. I add, that even all those Countries and Nations which Co­mets successively visit, may succes­sively, and in due time, feel the ef­fects of them. The Influence may [Page 164] reach every one of them at last: for there is at the same time a cir­cular and periodical Motion in Bo­dies Politick as well as Natural: and Countreys by Sympathy com­municate Evils to one another, particularly we may gather that that astonishing Comet in 1680. which was visible to all Europe, and other parts of the World, shall be of universal Influence, and many Nations shall share in the Revolu­tions and Occurrences which it shall produce. Common Artists take occasion to speak of the Signs it passed through, and there they are full of roving Conjectures and Uncertainties; but we may safely infer this from its passing through so Many, viz. Seven Signs and an half, that it is probable a very con­siderable part of the World is con­cerned in the Effects and Conse­quences of it. General Distresses and Troubles shall be complained of, there shall happen Catholick [Page 165] and spreading Calamities, and (which is always to be implied, if God or Man do not interpose, the one by infinite Clemency and For­bearance, or the other by Repen­tance and Amendment) Evils of a very vast Circumference shall en­viron the World.

A Fifth Objection is plausibly rai­sed from 10. Ier. 2. Thus faith the Lord, Learn not the way of the Heathen, and be not dismayed at the Signs of Heaven, for the Hea­then are dismayed at them. Whence it may be inferred that it is wicked and Paganish to imagine any Signs or Tokens in the Heavens, and that it is the guise onely of the de­luded Gentile World to be afraid of them, and therefore the Presage of Comets is hereby cashiered.

I Reply,

[Page 166] 1. It is Nonsense to argue from this place that there are no Signs in the Heavens, when the very Text supposes and grants it, expresly cal­ling them the Signs of Heaven.

2. These Signs are the ordinary Heavenly Bodies, called in the Ho­ly Style the Host of Heaven, the Sun, Moon and Stars; and to these may be adjoined the extraordinary Bo­dies which are seen in the Heavens, as Comets. Now God commands his own People not to be dismayed at any of these, as the Heathens were wont to be, who believed these Heavenly Bodies to be alive, and that they governed all things here below by their great Power: they thought that all their affairs depended wholly on these, and therefore they were put into great Disorders by such Notions, and were struck with strange Affright­ment and Astonishment. Their fearing of them put them upon wor­shipping [Page 167] them as Gods, and as if they had Divine Power. Thus the Heathens thought and practised, but God's Chosen People are forbid the superstitious reverencing and wor­shipping of these. And not onely an Idolatrous Fear is disallowed them but any other that is unbecoming and disorderly: they must not be troubled and cast down, dismayed and dejected at any unusual Appea­rance in the Heavens, so as to di­strust God's Providence, and act things unworthy of their Holy Pro­fession. The Heavenly Bodies are Signs, and some of them very ter­rible ones, but they must by no means fright good men out of their Duty, or into a disesteem of God's governing the World. Queen Eli­zabeth's Iacia est alea, was very brave and becoming upon occasion of one of her Courtiers dissuading her from looking on a Comet which appeared when the lay at Richmond. But she commanded the Windows [Page 168] to be set open, and uttered those gallant words, Iacta est alea, The Die is cast (saith she) by the Di­vine Hand; as we cannot disap­point, so neither ought we to be unchristianly afraid of it.

Comets being Signs, they must be taken notice of, for they were set up for that end, or rather not they, but the Hand and Voice of God in them are to be observed and dreaded. Most apposite to which purpose is that which I have read in the Life of Charles the Great.Eginhar­dus in vit. Car. Mag. A vast and dreadfull Comet shone in the close of this great Monarch's Reign: Upon the rising of which new Light in the Heavens, he as­ked what it foretold? Imagining (what indeed happened, and is of­ten foresignified by such Appariti­ons) that his Death was near at hand. Eginardus, with whom he held conference at that time, (a great Philosopher and his Secreta­ry, who writ this Prince's Life) [Page 169] answered him more like a Divine than a Philosopher, in those words of Scripture which I just now des­canted upon, Be not dismayed at the Signs of Heaven. To which the Emperour replied, that he was not dismayed at such kind of Signs, but feared and reverenced the Powerfull Cause and Divine Fra­mer of them, who being incensed with Anger against a People or Prince, is wont by these to admo­nish them of his Wrath, and to call them to Repentance that they may avoid it. And this is the sum of all that I have said concerning the Pre­sages of Comets.

Sixthly, and Lastly, It is ob­jected that if Comets be significa­tive and portentous, then there is as much Reason to believe that the other Heavenly Bodies, as the Pla­nets and the fixed Luminaries, and their several Motions and Aspects are so too, and by this means we [Page 170] open a door to all the superstitious Observations, and groundless Prog­nostications of Iudiciary Astrology, whereby some men pretend to di­vine the greatest Events that shall happen, and to foretell the Fate of Kingdoms and Common-wealths.

Having delivered my Sentiments freely and impartially concerning those great and glaring Lights and their Presages, which I undertook chiefly to treat of, it remaineth now that in Answer to this Objec­tion, I do with the same freedom present you with my thoughts con­cerning the Iudiciary part of that Noble Science of Astrology, and that I enquire whether there can be any real Presaging from the ordina­ry Bodies of Heaven, as the Sun, Moon and Stars, and what insight into futurities any man of Reading, Study and Observation may gain by being acquainted with their Mo­tions.

[Page 171] I know very well that it is the humour of Writers to oppose and flatly deny all that their Adversa­ries say, and to run counter with every Proposition they lay down, and for no other Reason oftentimes than because they are theirs. And the main and onely design of these Persons being this, to be victours; it is not to be wondred at, that they behave themselves after this rate. But I (having no other design than that Truth onely may have the Vic­tory) will not tread in their steps. And indeed it is fond and absurd Custome, and such as is unbecoming Rational Minds, to hold all or no­thing of an Opinion about which the Dispute is raised. I am sure if this had not been wilfully kept up, there had been an end e'er this of most of the Controversies that trouble the World. I will endea­vour therefore to silence and com­pose this Quarrel which I am now entring upon by going another [Page 172] way to work, namely, by fairly granting something, that I may more impregnably hold the rest.

How zealous are some in discar­ding the whole Host of Heaven from influencing in the least on things here below, even the mea­nest Occurrences of Man's Life? They think they are bound to run down all the orders of Heavenly Bodies at once. The Sun (say they) which is the greatest Luminary, hath no way to act but by its Light and Heat, and its business is onely with the Earth, Minerals, Plants, and mere Animals. The Moon and the rest of the Planets are heavy, dull things; they cannot doe more than the Earth, that be­ing as good a Planet as any of them, and the Earth influenceth as much on them as they upon it. The fix­ed Stars are too far off, besides that the Situation of them is ever the same. And thus they are all unca­pable of doing any feats in this [Page 173] lower World wherein we live. But I must declare for my part, that I look upon this as too high and ranting. I am willing to grant that the Heavenly Bodies Act on Things and Persons on Earth, and that they are likewise Signs: and yet this is no prejudice to our fore­established Doctrine. To prove this let us look into the first Crea­tion and Institution of the Heaven­ly Bodies: and there it is most like­ly we shall find the true Ends and Vses of them. And these are no less than five, according to the Au­thentick and Canonical Account which is given of them in Gen. 1. 14. &c. I will not set them down in the order they are in there, yet I will be exact in the enumerating of them.

The First End of them is to give Light upon the Earth, (v. 15.) that Men may see how to dispatch their Affairs with Ease and Chearfulness. [Page 174] An ineffable Blessing certainly! and such as the wisest man takes particular notice of, when he saith, Truly the Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the Eyes to behold the Sun, Eccl. 11. 7. Of this the Learned Jew speaks,Philo de Abraha­mo. [...] What were these glittering Lights set up for, unless it were for the service of the Eyes, to see by them?

A Second Use of these Lumina­ries is to be for Seasons, (v. 14.) Those Commentatours that inter­pret it of the Season of Weather, shew that they attend not to the ge­nuine sense of the Original Word, [...]. But the true meaning is, That those Heavenly Luminaries were appointed for distinction of Times and Seasons, whether they be for Natural, Civil or Religious [Page 175] Affairs Thus among the Jews the Feasts of the New-moons, and Sab­baths, and other sacred Solemni­ties depended on the Returns and Courses of these Bodies. And still the orderly Service of God is kept up by observing the First Day of the Week, and other Periods of Time, either expressed by the first Founder of the Christian Religion, or laudably constituted by the Church.

Understand here also other Sea­sons and Opportunities, viz. of seve­ral Professions and Employments in the Life of Man. Husbandmen learn hence to plow, sow, plant, lop Trees, &c. according to the right Season; of which you may reade in Virgil's Georgicks, and Hesiod's [...]. And as the Luminaries of Heaven are usefull in Husbandry, so are they no less in Navigation, to di­rect Mariners to guide their Vessels with safety and Success. [...] [Page 176] [...];Philo de Monarch. What but the know­ledge of the Periodical motions and revolutions of the Stars opened and shewed the way to Seamen in so ma­ny vast and spacious Seas? And not only the Husbandman and Mariner, but the Masters of Medicks grateful­ly acknowledge those Luminaries to be for Seasons. Hippocrates and Galen assert the usefulness, nay, the necessity of Astrology in Physick. They acquaint us that Diseases are rendred critical by such and such Re­turns of Planets, and according to this they give directions at what Sea­sons to administer Medicines. Mar­cilius Ficinus, that Noble Platonick Philosopher and Physician, wrote a Piece de Medicina Astrologiae jun­genda. Fernelius that Learned French Physician, his Judgment and Practice in this case are well known. I question not but the care­full [Page 177] observing and due attending of the Times of the Heavenly Aspects and Influences are very usefull in Physick, though now that course be laid aside generally by Practiti­oners.

A Third End of these Lights in the Heavens is to be for Days and Years. v. 14. that is, by the con­stant Motion of these Bodies Time is measured and numbred, by these Time is divided and distinguished into greater and lesser portions, as Years, Months, Weeks, Days, Hours, &c. By these we keep an account of our Actions, we call to mind, reckon, compute, forecast: we understand the duration of Be­ings, the certain Intervalls and di­stances of things, the Ages and Ge­nerations of the World, which is of singular Use in Man's Life.

Their Fourth Use is to divide the Day from the Night, v. 14. or [Page 178] (as it is said afterwards, v. 18.) to divide the Light from the Dark­ness, and to rule over the Day and over the Night. These Heavenly Bodies by their Setting and Rising, cause Light and Darkness, and con­sequently are the Authours of the successive Returns of Day and Night to us. This is set them as an im­moveable and never failing consti­tution, and therefore is styled the Covenant of the Day and Night, Ier. 33. 20. and the Ordinance of Heaven, Ier. 31. 35, 36. And un­der This Vse of the Heavenly Bo­dies is comprehended their Warming and Chearing Virtue, (especially of the Sun, which brings to us Day and This together, and of which the great Observer of God's Works thus speaketh, There is nothing bid from the heat thereof,) and also their fructifying, generative and prolifick Faculty, whereby they may justly be said to Rule, and bear sway in the World.

[Page 179] The Fifth and Last Use of these glorious Lights in the firmament of Heaven (and which is the use of them wherein we are most concer­ned at present) is to signifie some­thing to the World: Let them be for Signs, v. 14. And in the place before commented upon they are called the Signs of Heaven. Which an Astronomical Poet expresseth thus,


Here then may Business is to shew how they are said to be for Signs, or What it is that they sig­nifie to the World. Accordingly I assert that they signifie three forts of Occurrences, viz. Natural, Ci­vil and Divine.

First, They give notice to us of Natural things, as Rain or Drought, [Page 180] Storms or Calms, Heat or Cold, Winter or Summer, with the other Seasons of the Year, the Ebbing and Flowing of the Sea, Plenty or Scar­city of the Fruits of the Earth; in short, the Change of Weather, and Alteration of the temper of the E­lements. These are signified by the Sun's Rising or Setting with such and such Stars or Constellati­ons, by the Access or Recess of the Planets to and form the Sun, and among themselves. This, it seems, is a thing which was thought wor­thy to be mentioned by a Divine Pen-man, for he biddeth the Rebel­lious Jews seek him that maketh the Seven Stars and Orion, Amos 5. 8. i. e. God, who by the Appearing of these, and other Constellations at certain times, gives notice of the different Seasons of the Year. And this was a way of speaking which well be­came Amos the Herdsman, who had been used to keep his Cattel, and watch in the Fields all Night, [Page 181] and there had leisure and opportu­nity to observe how the several Seasons were ushered in by these Lamps of Heaven. But hear what another inspired Searcher into the Heavenly Bodies saith of the great Creatour, viz. that He maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, Job 9. 9. and the Chambers of the South. That is, he maketh the Year, the Parts of which are signified and known by the rising of these Constellations; for Arcturus, or the Bear's Tail, a Star of the first Magnitude in the Northern Hemisphere, is said to arise in Autumn. Orion, a Southern Constellation, made up of many splendent Stars, arises in Winter. It is called Nimbosus Orion by Vir­gil, and is accordingly deemed by Astrologers to be the Cause of great Storms and Tempests. Its name in Hebrew is Kesil, whence per­haps the Month Kisleu among the Jews (which answers to Novem­ber) had its denomination, this [Page 182] Constellation rising in that Month. And by the bye let me shove in this Criticism, when we reade that the same word Kesil signifies a Fool, (as in Solomon's Proverbs and other places) we need not wonder that a Constellation which causes Change of Weather, gives name to a foolish, light, and unconstant Person. The Pleiades, or Seven Stars, arise in the Spring. And Iob makes men­tion of the Chambers of the South, which perhaps are the Stars which arise in the Summer: and so the four several Quarters of the Year are set down. Aratus and Hygi­nus, and other Ancients, discourse of this kind of Prognosticks. Of these Philo the Jew speaks, [...].L. de mun­di Opificio. The Stars were made not onely to enlighten the Earth, but to be signs of future Accidents, i. e. (as he there explai­neth himself) of different Seasons [Page 183] of Weather. Which is his meaning in another Treatise, where he saith, [...] Lib. de Mo­narchia. The Signs of all these things that you see upon Earth, are set up and erected in the Heavens. And I am mistaken if the Learned Father speaketh not of these Prognosticks when he tel­leth us, [...] Basil. Hex­a [...]mer. The Observation of the Luminaries of Heaven is usefull and even necessa­ry for Man's Life, unless People will beyond measure, and with an unlawfull curiosity, search into the Signs which those Bodies afford us.

Secondly, These Heavenly Bo­dies were created not onely to sig­nifie Natural things, but Humane and Civil Occurrences, and these ei­ther Private or Publick, the Con­cerns [Page 184] of Families or Kingdoms. All sorts of Actions and Events, whe­ther good, or evil, or indifferent, may (at one time or other) be part­ly discerned from the Observation of the Natural and usual Motions of the Host of Heaven. For though I cannot make out the dependence and affinity between them and these, as of Effects and Causes, and though the Knowledge which is gained thence is usually uncertain; yet I cannot assert with the bold­ness which I see others do, that there are no Natural Effects fol­lowing from such Positions and Si­tuations of the Stars, but I have rea­son to believe on the contrary, that their various Motions and Aspects are in some measure Significant.

Let us consider then that the Seven Planets are always in one or other of the Twelve Signs, or (which is the same thing) they are directly under some part of the Zodiack, (which is divided into 12 parts in [Page 185] all,) or (to speak plainer yet) the Wandring Stars move under some particular fixed ones, and the mu­tual Habitude which those have to one another as they are placed un­der these (or, as Artists speak, as they move through these Signs) causeth several Aspects. And these Aspects are either Right or Colla­teral.

A Right Aspect is when one Pla­net hath a Relation to another in a Right Line. And this is either Conjunction or Opposition. Con­junction is when two Planets meet together in the same Sign of the Zodiack: Its mark is this, ☌. Op­position (marked thus, ☍) is when Planets are in Diametrical or oppo­site Signs, viz. when they are di­stant from one another half the Cir­cle of the Heavens, i. e. Six Signs, or 180 Degrees.

A Collateral Aspect is when Pla­nets look on one another in Colla­teral and Oblique Lines; and this [Page 186] is Threefold, namely, Sextile ⚹, when they are distant from one a­nother a Sixth part of the Zodiack, i. e. two Signs, or 60 Degrees. Qua­drate □, when Planets are remo­ved from one another 90 Degrees of the Zodiack, or 3 Signs, which is a fourth part of the Circle. Trine, or Triangular △, when one Pla­net is distant from another a Third part of the Zodiack, which contains 40 Signs, or 120 Degrees. These Configurations, [...] Aspects (no less than five in all) happen according to the different parts of the Zodiack which the Pla­nets are in, or move under. Hence arise the Dignities and Infirmities, the Fortitudes and Debilities of the Planets, for they are supposed to help or hinder, to promote or in­damage one another, according to their various Situation, Aspects and Agreements with other Pla­nets. And among the forenamed Aspects, Opposition and Quadrate [Page 187] are reckoned as malign: the rest are thought to be favourable and benign. And among these latter, Conjunction is the most effectual of all the Radiations of the Planets, and Sextile is the weakest and Faintest.

Now I propound it fairly and peaceably to any considerative Per­son, whether he can imagine that the Heavens ring all these Changes to no purpose, and shift their po­stures so often without some effect?

I might add, That the Planets in regard of their Motion are Direct, Retrograde and Stationary; whence must arise different Sites and Po­stures of them, and from these dif­ferent Effects and Consequences. And particularly, as for the Aspects and Phases of the Moon, there are more of them, and those likewise more observable and lasting, than of all the other Stars. Mark how often this Proteus changeth Shapes, and according to its various Access [Page 188] unto and Recess from the Sun, ap­peareth in divers Figures and Coun­tenances.

Let us recount the several Me­tamorphoses of this Fickle Crea­ture.

When she is in Conjunction with the Sun, i. e. when she is exactly between us and the Sun, her en­lightned Part (which is more than half the Moon always, the Sun ex­ceeding her in magnitude) is to­wards the Sun altogether, inso­much that no part of her is seen by us. This is New-moon, which lasts three days, all which time it shi­neth not to us. Soon after its Con­junction, viz. on the fourth day, and when it is about 60 degrees distant from the Sun, it is Horned, and it sets soon after Night cometh. On the seventh or Eighth day a Moiety of her appeareth, and she is called Bisect, or a Half-Moon: she now riseth about 10 a Clock in the morning, and she is distant from [Page 189] the Sun about 90 Degrees. Hi­therto is her First Quarter.

Then tending to her Opposition to the Sun, she sheweth a little more than half of her Enlightned Body, and on the 11th day is Bunched, be­ing 120 degrees from the Sun. Then on the 14th or 15th day it comes to its Opposition to the Sun, viz. when it is 180 degrees distant from it, and when we are just between the Sun and it. This is Full-Moon, and is called her Second Quarter.

These are the shapes she hath in her Increase; and she hath the very same in her Decrease, according to her various Aspects to the Sun. She appeareth Bunched on the 4th day after▪ Full-moon, Bisect on the 7th, Horned on the 11th, till at last she comes to turn her self wholly to the Sun, and to shew no Light to us, and then it is New-moon. Onely this difference is to be observed be­tween the Aspects of the Moon in her Increase, and those in her De­crease, [Page 190] that her Horns are turned towards the West in the latter, but Eastward in the former, because that that part of the Moon which is enlightned is always towards the Sun.

These are the usual Transfigura­tions of the Moon; and what wise Man can think that all these Changes and Shiftings throughout the whole Year, have no Influence upon things below, and work not considerable Alterations and Changes on the Bo­dies and Minds of Men? Their Operation as to Weather, and as to some Inferiour Animals is freely confessed by all, long Observation and Experience having extorted that Acknowledgment. And there is as good ground to own their In­fluence on the Tempers and Dispo­sitions of Reasonable and Humane Creatures, for the Returns of Mad­ness and a Distempered Mind are observed by the exact Practitioners in Medicks, to be according to the [Page 191] Revolutions of this Planet. And what reason can be rendred why the sober and well-ordered Actions of Man's Life, which are more Na­tural, and easie to be governed, re­ceive not some Impressions from the same Mover? Say not that the several Phases of the Moon, though they seem to be different Appariti­ons, yet are but accidental Changes, and the Moon is always the same, notwithstanding all her change of Apparel, and consequently that no real Effects ought to be expected from onely seeming Revolutions.

This plausible Cavil is easily ta­ken off by replying that the Moon in going her monthly Circuit about the Earth, turns her self variously to the Sun, and really changes her situation, and there are different Transmissions of the Solar Rays from her, and we receive new Re­flexions and Refractions of Light thence, And let it be considered both in respect of the Aspects of [Page 192] the Moon, and those which are common to the other Planets (of which I spoke before) that the grea­test Effects in the World are pro­duced by the frequent changing of a few things. Though I am not of the Philosopher's Mind, who con­tends that Matter and Motion solve All Phaenomena, yet thus far I a­gree with him, (and I have the Suf­frage of all Intelligent Men) that new Modifications, as change of Place, Figure, Motion, and the like, effect most of the considerable things that happen in the World. Upon which account it must needs be that the different Situations, new Configurations, mutual Mix­tures and repeated Vicissitudes of the Heavenly Bodies prove some ways effectual and operative.

And as for Eclipses (which may be reckoned here) I cannot but say in behalf of this part of Astrology, that these and the foresaid Aspects are in a Natural way Signs of fu­ture [Page 193] things, and productive of con­siderable Events; and upon long and faithfull Observation, we may find out what kind of accidents happen in the several quarters of the World where they are seen.

I conclude this Head with the memorable words of a foreign Di­vine, (a Person of great Moderati­on and Judgment,) Hic ergo est usus verae Astrologiae, ut multorum effectuum qui in terris fiunt causas quae in coelo sunt cognoscant; aliquan­do etiam antequam fiunt, ipsos effec­tus in suis causis praevideat. Zanchius de Astro­nom. This is the use of true Astrology to un­derstand from it the Causes which are in the Heavens of many Effects that are on Earth; and sometimes to foresee those Effects in their Causes before they come to pass.

Thirdly, The heavenly Bodies are Signs (as of Natural and Politi­cal Affairs, so) of things Divine, and above Nature's Order. And as [Page 194] the two former are signified by the Ordinary Motions of these Bodies, so the last are discovered by the extraordinary and unusual aspect of them. When those great Lumina­ries are disturbed and out of Order, then, and onely then they, as well as those extraordinary Bodies in Hea­ven which this discourse hath de­signedly treated of, are certain In­dications of the exerting of some Divine Power, and the bringing to pass some strange things in the World. For this I take to be an unquestionable Maxim, that those Accidents which exceed the ordina­ry course of Nature, and are above the usual Laws and Power of it, are the particular Finger of God, and are for extraordinary ends and pur­poses. From whence I gather, that the constant Courses of the Celestial Luminaries portend not evil and hurt to Mankind; but they are the unnatural Motions, Alterations and Appearances of them, which ren­der [Page 195] them prodigious. As when the Sun hath been extraordinarily de­ficient, as at that darkness which was one of the Plagues of Egypt, when the Sun and Moon have stood still, as when Ioshuah was ta­king vengeance on his Enemies: when the Stars fought against the Host of Sisera: when the Sun went back in King Hezekiah's days. Not onely Poets but Historians take notice of, and transmit to po­sterity the remarkable Obscuring of the Sun which was observed almost that whole year in which Iulius Caesar was unfortunately killed.

—Solis quo (que)
Ovid. Me­tamorph. l. 15.
tristis Imago
Lurida sollicitis praebebat lumina terris.
From Heaven a shadow onely then was hurl'd
Of the Sun's Light, to scare the won dring World.

[Page 196] And another Poet thus,

—Caput obscurâ nitidum ferrugine texit,
Virgil. Ge­org. l. 1.
Impiá (que) aeternam timuerunt secula noctem.
A rusty scum eclips'd Sol's glorious Light,
And th'impious Age dreaded an end­less Night.

And we are told by a grave. Plutarch. in Jul. Cae­sar. Hi­storian too, that this presaged and accompanied that horrid Murther. The Eclipse at Christ's Passion was a miraculous darkning of the Sun's Body; for against the course of Na­ture it was obscured in Full-moon. Great Signs from Heaven (as it was prophesied by our Saviour) were the forerunners of Ierusalem's De­struction, Luk. 21. 11. There was an Example of an extraordinary Defect in the Sun about an hundred [Page 197] years after,Tertullian ad Scapu­lam, c. 3. saith a Learned Father. Seventeen days darkness was the attendant of Constantine's Death, who had his Eyes put out by his Mother Irene, if some Historians may be believed. We have it from the Testimony of him who is In­fallible, and Truth it self, That there stall be signs in the Sun, and in the Moon, and in the Stars, be­fore his last coming, Luk. 21. 25. The Sun shall be darkned, and the Moon shall not give her light, and the Stars shall fall from Heaven, and the powers of the Heaven shall be shaken, Mat. 24. 29. We see then what it is that makes the ordi­nary Heavenly Bodies Prodigious and Presaging, viz. Their being disordered, and going against their natural course. When they are thus, they are of the nature of those extraordinary and preterna­tural Lights which I have before discoursed of, whose very Appea­rance is Ominous.

[Page 198] By this we may know what no­tions to frame of the Aspects of the Stars, the particular Phases of the Moon, and the Eclipses of the Sun and Moon, before spoken of. It is certain that these, although they may signifie in General, and cause several Events, yet contain not any thing in them, i. e. in their own Nature, which is Boding and Un­fortunate. Nor are they designed (as Comets are) to be Signs of some remarkable Evils and Calamities. For I build on this ground, that ex­traordinary Events are not foresig­nified by ordinary and natural Ac­cidents: but such are the Aspects of the Planets, and particularly the Conjunction of Saturn and Iupiter this year, so much talked of by the common Prognosticatours. These are made and come to pass by the usual and Fixed Motion of the Pla­nets. They fall of themselves into these Figures. These are the Na­tural Shiftings of the Stars. And [Page 199] (as a demonstration of it) these, like the rising and setting of the Sun, and the entry of it into the Equi­noctial and Solstitial Points, and the Phaenomena of that nature are cer­tainly discerned, and may be fore­told many hundred years before hand. And therefore they are not in themselves portentous, they are no tokens of God's Wrath, there is nothing signified of the Divine Dis­pleasure by them.

But this cannot be said of Comets, because they are Preternatural Ap­pearances, and being such cannot possibly be foreknown by Art. I never read that any Astrologer put out Ephemerides of them. Nor can the Shiftings of the Moon be said to be Presaging, and in themselves Ominous, and that for the foresaid Reason. For though I deny not her Influence on the Bodies and Minds of Men, and as to her producing of Changes in the World, yet it is plain that she was not set up in the [Page 200] Firmament to portend approaching Distresses by her various Figures and Faces which she sheweth, for all these are Natural, and of course. She is constant and unvariable in her Changes: they may be all known and told long before. Besides, any man of common sense will grant me this, that what is usual and fre­quent cannot be prodigious.

I might here say something of Eclipses, and it is this; I declare against the Doctrine of those well­willers to the Mathematicks, who generally reckon these as ominous.

From what hath been said it may be gathered, that they are not to be judged as such; for they are not contrary to the usual course of Na­ture: and what is not so, cannot carry any ill Omen with it. If an Eclipse (particularly that of the Sun) be portentous in it self, then every Night, which is no other than the Interposition of the Earth between the Sun and us, is of that Nature [Page 201] also, and consequently we have an unlucky time of it all our Lives. It was the Ignorance of the Cause of Eclipses which first gave occasion to People to think they presignified some Evil; and hereupon the foo­lish Pagans were mightily distur­bed at this Sight; and as for the Moon, they imagined she was in Labour, and accordingly came with great Noise and Officiousness (no other than the Midwifery of Pans and Kettles) to relieve the teeming Lady. But we know that the Sun and Moon come naturally to this Situation and Posture; and the time of their Eclipses may cer­tainly be foreknown, for they de­pend on the determined and uner­ring Motions of the Heavenly Bo­dies: they must happen at such times, and no others. The Eclipse of the Sun can onely be in New­moon, i. e. when the Sun and Moon are together in either of the two Points, Caput or Cauda Draconis, [Page 202] for the Moon cuts or crosses the Ecliptick but in these two Nodes. The Moons Eclipse is onely when she is at the Full, viz. when the Earth is exactly interposed between the Sun and her, which is called Opposition. If I were purposely fur­nished, and had all the Implements of the Art about me, I could Infal­libly foretell and set down all the Eclipses that shall happen from this day to the end of the World. The ordinary defections then of these Lu­minaries, being Natural and fore­known Events, are not Prodigious and Fatal. And though the com­mon Astrologers reckon them a­mong Presages, yet I am well sa­tisfied that they doe it onely to a­muse the People, and to make themselves and their Art more for­midable.

Thus we see there is a vast diffe­rence between the ordinary Lumi­naries of Heaven, and those that are extraordinary, as Comets. Though [Page 203] the former are not divine Presages (unless when they are disordered, and extraordinarily obscured,) yet the latter always are so in their own Nature, and by the Appointment of Heaven.

I presume this is a satisfactory Answer to the Objection, and gives a true and impartial account of the Nature of both sorts of Celestial Bo­dies. The ordinary Luminaries may sometimes be put out of their Courses, to be Signs to the World of what the great Ruler of it is act­ing; but Comets are the Onely hea­venly Bodies which, as to their Make, and Original, and all other Considerations whatsoever, discover themselves to be portentous. For as for the strange Apparitions of Ar­mies and Skirmishes seen in the Air, I rank them not among the Bodies of Heaven, because they are placed in a lower Region. And as for those Appearances which are called Pa­relia, and Paraselene's, i. e. Mock-Suns, [Page 204] and Mock-Moons, Halo's, &c. they are onely Reflexions of the Clouds, and are not real things, but mere Images.

You have heard then at large the Ends of God's creating the ordinary Luminaries of Heaven. I have set down both the Natural and Insti­tuted, the Common and Extraor­dinary Uses of them. One com­mon Use (and that is it wherein Astrology is concerned chiefly) is to be Signs of Natural and Hu­mane Actions of all kinds, to Influ­ence by their Motion and Aspects on this Inferiour World. They are deservedly styled the Host of Hea­ven not onely because of their great Multitude, and their exact Order, but for their Force and Power. Shall every creeping Plant and Drug, e­very fading Herb and Flower, have their certain Virtues, and proper Offices, and shall we deny the glo­rious and exalted Stars of Heaven a [Page 205] peculiar Power to be serviceable to the World? Have we not equal Reason to persuade us that every Planet hath its▪ particular Property, and all the Fixed Lights have their several faculties and distinct powers? I must needs profess I am of that Wise Man's Opinion,Sir W. Ra­leigh's Es­says. who said, The Stars are of far greater Use than to yield an obscure Light, and for men to gaze on them after the Sun is set. Yes certainly, God makes use of the Ministery of the Heavenly Bodies in the Oeconomy of the lower World. We are sur­rounded with Stars, shut up within the Heavenly Circle. All things that happen in this World have a near affinity with that other. So thought the great Soul of Philoso­phy▪ Aristot. Meteor. l. 1. [...]. This inferiour World is in a man­ner necessarily tied to the Motions of the upper one, in so much that [Page 206] all its Powers are governed by it. And therefore it is not to be denied that the glorious Lights of Heaven were constituted by the first Framer of them, to act and influence upon humane Bodies as well as others.

There is then a lawfull Natural Knowledge of the Influence of the Stars, and of the position of the Heavens, which is serviceable to it. Astrology is a part of Natural Phi­losophy, which from the knowledge of Celestial Bodies prognosticateth of Events in the Sublunary Bodies below: and consequently the Acti­ons of Men, who are partly made of those, depend in some manner on their Influences. But Iudiciary Astrology hath heard ill, because by it some make a Judgment of the In­clinations of Mens Wills, on which depend the chief Events of Humane Life, and all the remarkable Affairs of States and Kingdoms. Where­fore the great Question is, whe­ther the Heavenly Bodies have an [Page 207] Influence on the Mind and Thoughts, the Free-will and Determinations of Men? In satisfaction to this main Demand I assert, That the Heaven­ly Bodies act upon the Bodies of Men, and these influence upon their Minds. I do not say that the Ce­lestial Luminaries act immediately and directly on the Soul of Man; for after that manner onely they work on his Body: but this is it which I maintain, That the Moti­ons and Aspects of the Heavens in­cline the Mind and Will by Media­tion of the Sensitive Appetite, which is stirred by the constitution of the Body. For I take it to be an indis­putable Truth, that Bodies strong in humours, and weak in Vertue or Grace, draw and incline the Mind and Affections: and therefore those Creatures that are guided by their Natural and Sensual Appetites, as Brutes and wicked Men, do most of all feel the force of the Heavenly Bodies. And for this Reason the [Page 208] Astrologers of this degenerate Age, these dreggs of Time, have the bet­ter of most of those who have been their Predecessors. Now they may come the nearest to Certainty in their Prognosticks. They may the more easily tell true, because so few resist their own vitious Inclina­tions. One would think on this score that Judiciary Astrology were now at its height and utmost cul­mination. It must needs prove suc­cesfull now or never, for the de­bauched Lives of Men acquaint us, that they follow their own Natural Genius and pronity of Mind, they are led wholly by their depraved Wills and Affections. Wicked and dissolute Men, whom an inspired Writer calleth Wandring Stars, Ep. Jude, 13. v. know no other conduct but their extravagant Lusts, and those inbred Inclinations and Propensions which they derive from their Fleshly Con­stitutions and Bodily Tempers: and thus the Stars may be said to influ­ence [Page 209] on the Natural Inclinations of Men, and consequently such Acts as proceed from them: for they act on the Body, and the Body work­eth on the weak and ungoverned Mind, and so Evil Actions are pro­duced.

From what hath been hitherto discoursed, we may in some part understand the true Vse of Astrolo­gy, and likewise the Abuse of it, which is no other than this, viz. Attributing too little or too much to the Stars: We may frequently see men running into these Ex­tremes either of Defect or Excess. The Abuse of Astrology on one hand is depriving the Heavenly Bo­dies of all Influence and Operation on the Sons of Men: and this I have spoken of already. On the other hand this Science is abused whilst too great a Power and too exorbitant a Regency is ascribed to those Bodies. This is done when [Page 210] such an Agency and Virtue is gi­ven to them by us, as is prejudicial and derogatory,

1. To God's universal Power and Government.

2. To the Agency of Man's Will: And,

3. To the Concurrence of other Causes.

In these Three the Judicious Rea­der will find the whole Abuse of Astrology (as to this latter extreme of it) summ'd up. For they who immeasurably and proudly brag of this Science, defend the Stars to be, as it were, Divine Agents, or that they are instead of God: and they go so far as to destroy the native or acquired Freedom of Man's Facul­ties: and they exclude all other Causes (but the Stars) from having a share in mens Actions. On the Con­trary, if we would avoid the excess and Extravagancy of Astrology, if [Page 211] we would correct so wild a Folly we must let God, Man's Will, and Ioynt Causes have their due place.

First, I say, Astrology is shame fully abused when Men attribute such a Power to the Heavenly Bo­dies as to deny God's Government and Superintendency, or, (which is all one) when they deprive God of his Sovereign Power and Domi­nion to give it to the Stars. Some of the High-flown of this Faculty have been guilty of excluding the Divine Providence and Concourse, whilst they have defended the In­fluence or rather Efficiency of the Celestial Powers. This is a kin to that Pagan Persuasion, That these Bodies have a certain Divinity in them, and that they fatally and ne­cessarily act upon us. Hence the Chaldeans and others offered Sacri­fice to the Stars, and expected all good or evil from them (which is making them Gods.) The Epicu­reans [Page 212] held that every one had his proper Star,Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 8. as a peculiar Daemon or▪ Numen. And not onely the Gentiles but Iews polluted them­selves with the Worship of the Host of Heaven, Manasses being their chief Perverter herein, 2 Chron. 33. 3. But if some who pretend to Astro­logical Studies are not directly guil­ty of this, (as I cannot prove they are) yet they act almost as pro­fanely, whilst they extravagantly and impiously extoll the Power of those Bodies above, even so far as to deny God to be the principal Mo­deratour and Disposer of all Affairs; and whilst they assert that extra­ordinary and preternatural Events, and such as depend wholly on God's mere Pleasure, and have no Rela­tion at all to natural and common Causes, are the Effects of the Mo­tions and Aspects of the Stars, and might have been foretold and prog­nosticated by them. A most Into­lerable Arrogance and Blasphemy! [Page 213] For though I have above granted (and am always ready to grant what is Reason and good Sense) that God may and doth make use even of na­tural Instruments in the producti­on of supernatural Effects, yet this is a thing that is exceeding rare; and then also it is impossible that these Arbitrary Effects should be foretold by any Knowledge that Men have of the Stars. But there are some supernatural Effects and Productions which depend not in the least on second Causes, but are wrought by God himself, without the assistence of Instruments or any Means, nay, even in defiance of all Secondary Causes, as most of the Miracles of the Old and New Testament, and these could never be prognosticated by the Stars. And therefore the Insolency and Impie­ty of those is to be abhorred,Albuma­sar, Pom­ponatius, Cardan, Vaninus. who have told the World in Print, that the Judgment of God in the Deluge of old, and all the Appearances [Page 214] of Angels afterwards,Albertus Magnus, Lucas Gau­ricus, Pre­lates. Petrus de Aliaco, Cusanus, Cardinals. and the Pro­phesies and Wondrous Dispensati­ons to the Jewish People were from the particular Influence and Opera­tion of the Stars at those Times; and that all Christ's Actions, Life and Death, and consequently our Redemption, depended on the Fi­gure of the Heavens at his Nativi­ty: in short, that Christianity it­self was beholding to the Con­stellations, that the Gospel was indebted to the Aspects of the Stars, and that all things of Reli­gion are from the Position of the Heavens.

If the Reader pleaseth to cast his Eye on the Margent, he will see that this cursed Doctrine was pa­tronized not onely by professed Atheists, but by great Divines and Church-men; but let not that of­fend him, for they were such as be­longed to that Church which is said by some to be the Nurse of Atheism and Profaneness, witness [Page 215] the swarms of Atheists in Italy and the adjacent Countries. But sober Reason as well as Religion will in­form us, that the things before na­med are above the power of Nature, and therefore out of the reach of Astrology. This Art hath nothing to doe with supernatural Events, with the Divine Oeconomy, and God's immediate Will and Pleasure. And though in respect of things of another Nature I grant the Hea­venly Bodies to have an Influence, yet this must be remembred, that they cannot Act without the Al­mighty's Order. He telleth the number of the Stars, Psal. 147. 4. and calleth them all by their Names, i. e. He hath the full Command and Dispo­sal of them. It is no Dream, but a Reality, that the Sun, Moon and Stars come, and bow down, and make Obeysance to Him. Which indeed is after the rate of the sober Philo­sophy of the Stoicks, viz. That the First Cause is not tied to the Stars. [Page 216] These are subject to the Prime and Omnipotent Being, who can sus­pend their Influences whensoever He pleaseth. This I suppose is the meaning of what the Hebrew Doc­tors tell us God said to Abraham in Chaldaea, when he studied Judicia­ry Astrology there, Abraham, egre­dere de Astrologia tua, nullum enim est sidus Israeli: Trouble not thy self about the Stars, for there is not one of them can be unlucky to Is­rael. And on this consideration it might be made evident, that no man can be Positive in foretelling future Events by the Stars.

Secondly, Astrology is abused and perverted by those who attri­bute such a Power and Sovereignty to the Heavenly Bodies, as whereby they destroy the liberty of mans Will, and introduce a kind of fatal Necessi­ty, whereupon they ground the cer­tainty of their Prognostications. For these men fondly hold, that we are all [Page 217] fatally tied to the Stars: whereas, Man being a free Agent, it is folly to imagine that his Will can be con­strained. This faculty remaineth Arbitrary and Unconsined, and therefore no Artist can Divine what the Acts and Exertments of it shall be. It is true that Reason and Wise­dom have the Dominion but in few Men. The Generality are led by their sensitive and brutish part, which is immediately Subject to the Influence of the Heavens. But it is not impossible, nay, it is easie by the aid of Divine Grace, and by a resolute Resisting, to avoid their Operation upon us. Prayers and Endeavours frustrate the Stars, for their Influence is not inevitable, so as to force any Man's Will: and hereupon it is undeniably conse­quent, that voluntary Actions can­not be Infallibly foretold. I have shewed already that Supernatural Actions cannot be predicted by the Stars: Now I believe it will as [Page 218] palpably appear, that Free and vo­luntary ones cannot. As the things which depend on the mere Power and Pleasure of God, so those that issue from the Freedom and Electi­on of Man are beyond the reach, and out of the ken of Astrological Pre­dictions. Mens Wills are the Pla­nets that guide them, and make them Erratical. It is not in the power of Astrologers to fix these, and to bring them within the sphere of their Knowledge. We see and observe that their Conjectures are uncertain concerning the change of Weather. How often may they be confuted in their Predictions of Rain, Snow, Frost, Winds, &c? Some have writ down the weather quite contrary to their Progno­sticks (as Buchanan dealt with his Almanack above fifty Years toge­ther, and as the Earl of Mirandula hath observed) and have found that what they set down came nearest to the truth. If an Astrologer then [Page 219] faileth so mnch in telling the wea­ther, how much more in underta­king to determine those Events which depend on the Will and choice of Man? If he cannot ex­actly foretell the Changes of the Clouds and Elements, how will he be able to acquaint us before-hand with the Alterations in Families and Kingdoms, which are more uncertain? It is by reason of such bold Pretenders and Undertakers, that Astrology is rendred vile and scandalous, and the Professours of it looked upon as Lyars and Impostours. For what can be more like cheating, than for a man to take upon him to determine cer­tainly of future Contingencies, when the Objects of his Predictions are every minute alterable by the interposal of free Agents, who have power to interrupt the Causality of the Stars? For though men may be thus and thus Disposed and Inclined, according to the different Constel­lations [Page 220] and their Aspects, yet they are left free, and are not constrai­ned and forced to doe this or that. And if this be true, the most saga­cious Artist on Earth cannot punc­tually determine their Actions, this being an impregnable Proposition, That nothing can be certainly fore­told by Man, which is in the power of a free Agent.

Thirdly, Astrology is abused not onely when the free Agency of God and Man are infringed, but when the Concurrence of those other Causes which are requisite in the life of Man is wholly neglected.

This then must be laid down as a necessary Proposition,

That the Tempers and Consti­tutions of Men, and consequently their Dispositions and Actions, and all humane Affairs which are the issue of them, depend upon several conjoyned Causes.

[Page 221] It is true that we receive our Com­plexion and Temperature from the quality of the Heavenly Bodies, but not from them only, but from other Causes and Authours. I have granted once and again, that there is a great consent and intercourse between the upper and lower World. Heaven and Earth are confederate. Many things are derived to our Natures from above, many of our Inclinati­ons are received from thence, ma­ny Events and Accidents are de­pending on the Astral Revolutions, but they do not derive their force from them alone. There are other Causes besides the Prime Efficiency of God, and the free Agency of Men, which powerfully influence on Humane Actions. Say then that the Stars act on the Body of Man, and say that the Complexion of the Body swayeth the Mind, (as is acknowledged,) yet this Com­plexion depends on the Temper of the Parents, and the quality of their [Page 222] Seed; on the temper of the Air of that Countrey which he was born in, and afterwards lived in; on his Diet and Food he constantly takes; on his Education and manner of Life. All these, and several other things make a great difference in men: and the influence of the Stars may be hindred by any of them, much more by all of them together. Though the Heavens dispose to such and such Temperatures of Bo­dy, yet they are easily changed and over-ruled by the Concurrence of these. To speak freely, the Stars act, as all other natural Causes do, accor­ding to the Capacity and Disposition of the matter they work upon. Now the Disposition of Inferiour Bodies is very different, and on that account they receive not the Heavenly In­fluences alike. Just as we see the Effects of Diseases are according to the Diversities of Mens Bodies, and therefore no certain Judgment can be made of the issue of one Man's [Page 223] Distemper, from what is observed in another. For Example, a Phy­sician sees such and such Signs of Death in two persons who have high Fevers, but though the Prog­nosticks are equal in both, yet the Natural Temper of one may be stronger than the others, and so be too hard for the Disease and over­come it: but it was not possible for the Master of Medicks to foresee this. The Case is the same here, and it is confirmed by Experience. All persons who were born under the same Planets are not of the same condition and Fortune in the World, and on the contrary, the Conditi­ons and Fates of Men are alike (as when many thousands fall in Bat­tel in one day) though different Stars reigned at their Births: and the Reason is, because all men are not alike capable of the Influence of Heaven, for there may be wanting a Concurrence of several Causes (which I have before named) to [Page 224] make them equal: and it is unde­niably true, that the Heavens are not the Integral Causes of Mens Conditions and Actions. I infer then irrefragably, That no Astrolo­ger can certainly foretell future E­vents which depend upon so many Causes, whilst he is carefull onely to be acquainted with one sort of them. And from all the premised Heads it is easie to conclude how shallow and imperfect the Judg­ments of common Astrologers are, and what little reason they have to be absolute and peremptory in their Predictions. For the Actions of Mens Lives, and the different E­vents that happen to them, are de­rived from several Springs and Ori­ginals, besides the Heavenly Bo­dies. A Judgment cannot be made of a Man's Life from one of these onely, but from all. The Prime Source and Fountain of all is God, or the Divine Providence, which Commandeth the Sun, and it riseth [Page 225] not, and sealeth up the Stars, Job 9. 7. which can countermand the Ordi­nary course of Nature, and parti­cularly that of the Celestial Bodies. Or, the same infinite Power can change the Temper which was re­ceived from the Stars, and cause his Grace to check and controll the Influence of their Aspects, so that it shall be out of the reach of any humane Science, to make a sted­dy Judgment of any Actions or E­vents that belong to such Persons. And as for that other Spring of Mens Actions, their Wills, these being Free and Arbitrary cannot be confined by Art; and whatever Actions depend on voluntary choice and determination, cannot be fore­known, unless they be revealed by him who is the onely knower and Searcher of Hearts. It is His sole Pretogative to foresee future Con­tingencies which depend on free Causes: Though it is true the De­vil hath claimed This in all Ages, [Page 226] (witness the many ways of Divina­tion by Oracles, Auguries, &c.) and for this he hath been consulted and adored by the Gentile World. Besides, it is above humane Art to foretell certainly future Contingen­cies, because the Actions of Men, and the Events which follow them are not always, or for the most part according to their Wills and In­clinations: for they may be sway­ed and over-ruled by Providence, they may act against their purpo­ses and Resolves. Not to mention this also, that Hypocrisie often puts a veil and disguise on mens doings. Lastly, those other associate Causes and Springs of Actions and Events in the Life of Man, as the first Principle of Generation derived from the Parents, and the like, may prove too strong for the Influence of the Heavens, and so make all Prognosticks uncertain.

[Page 227] But it will be said, that those who divine by the Stars are con­sulted frequently, and it is known that they sometimes exactly fore­tell what shall come to pass.

I answer, I am not unwilling to grant that they doe so, and by vir­tue of their Art. For I have inti­mated before, that I am none of those who cut down a whole Art right or wrong, who admit of no Limitations and Cautions in the Subject they treat of, and in the cause they undertake, a sort of men that spoil all Sciences, and have done as much harm in Divini­ty as in any thing whatsoever. I make no question but the Stars point out some Futurities to us, but it seldom happens that we know what they are, because the persons who are truly skilfull and can di­rect us, are very few and scarce: because the Art is intricate, and ta­keth up much time, and requireth [Page 228] a singular Honesty joyned with an exquisite Knowledge. For it is not every Well-willer to the Mathema­ticks can set up for Prognosticks. An Astrologer must not onely be skilled in the Starry Revolutions, but ought to be a profound Philoso­pher, Politician, Historian, Phy­sician, Divine, and in a word, uni­versally instructed; for he is to look into, and be acquainted with other Causes and Springs of Acti­ons besides those above; he is to at­tend to divers things, and not to pronounce rashly: Hear what a wise Head uttereth to this purpose, 'H [...] Philo de Nomin. Mutat. The Study of the Heavenly Bodies is not the employment of a rude and barren Mind, but of one that is extremely ingenious and docile, and pregnant with the most complete and accom­plished Notions. An Astrologer [Page 229] must be a man of great thoughtful­ness and Study, of mighty Wise­dom and Sagacity, of long Trial and Experience, of exact and wa­ry Observation, and in order to this latter he should constantly re­side in a place proper for his Em­ployment, a plain champain Coun­trey, a clear and uncloudy Skie, fit to promote the Observations of the Heavens: and on this account I question whether the accurate no­tice of the Stars can be attained to in Islands and such like places. When the Person is rightly accom­plished for his work, and when all things belonging to the Art favour and befriend him, (which is very rare) his Astrological Judgments may prove successfull. But even then he cannot promise and assure any man of the certainty and infal­libility of what he saith, but must desire People to be contented with Likelihood and Probability. This is the true scale of Astrology, and [Page 230] he that takes its height otherwise deceiveth the World.

I Answer again, It is no wonder that they seem sometimes to fore­tell aright things to come, for this they may doe merely by chance. It will happen so at one time or o­ther. But then how often do they feed those who consult them with Lies? Though the Art be fallacious, yet it may hit sometimes, and so Events may answer to the Predicti­ons. Why may they not light on truth by chance? Of so many things foretold some one will come to pass. But if the number of the things which happen, and of those which do not, be compared, for one Truth you will find a Thou­sand Falshoods.

This also I have to Answer, That sometimes they are thought to fore­tell, because they speak ambigu­ously; and fond People are prone [Page 231] to interpret in favour of the For­tune-teller. Thus Nostrodamus (who was Physician to three Kings of France successively) his Prognosti­cations are so obscure and equivo­cal, that some of them have been thought to be fulfilled when they were not, and that merely because they are so shaped, that they may be understood and applied divers ways. Moreover, there is Reason to believe, that they sometimes foretell things from a Confederacy and Compact with Spirits. I am confident I am not uncharitable in thinking that some of those who take upon them to predict future Events by Judiciary Astrology, step beyond the bounds of their Art, and hold Correspondence with Lucifer, that great fallen Star. By his means they may shrewdly fore­tell (as some of them have done) the exact time and manner of their own and others Deaths. As Sueto­nius, in the Life of Domitian, tells [Page 232] of an Astrologer, who having fore­told the Emperour's Fortune, which it seems was not pleasing to him, and being asked by the Emperour what should be his own, he said he was to be devoured by Dogs. To frustrate his Prediction the Empe­rour ordered he should presently be killed and buried: but whilst they were burying him a great storm arose, and made them relinquish the Corps, and by that means it was left to the Dogs, who came and tore it in pieces and devoured it. Cardan foretold the Year and Day of his own Death. One warn­ed Iulius Caesar of the Ides of March, which were approaching, and it is well known that they proved fa­tal to him. Picus Mirandula, who by his Writings shewed himself the greatest Adversary that ever Astrolo­gy had, Sir Chri­stoph. Hey­don. Def. of Iud. Astrol. p. 193. (as one who was the greatest Patron, and learnedst Defender of Judiciary Astrology, styleth him) was told by Lucius Bellantius, and [Page 233] two other Astrologers, that he should die in the three and thirtieth Year of his Age, and he did so. This might fall out by Chance, as I have said: or, as I am now sug­gesting, by the Devil's help, for he is ready to assist in Predictions those that too narrowly prie into such Mysteries, and thereby he pro­motes his Kingdom and Interest. And that some Futurities of great moment may be discovered by his Assistence is evident, because he is (as the sacred Writ calleth him) the God of this World, and ruleth in the Children of Disobedience, be­cause he is engaged in all the black Crimes men are guilty of, and stir­reth them up to the commission of those horrid Villanies which are acted: he may in a manner be said to doe them, and therefore can tell that they are to be done. Or, he being prosent at the Clubs and Con­sults of the Wicked, heareth such and such things from the Mouths [Page 234] of those who design to act them, Or, evil Spirits can guess futurities by what is past or present. They can partly see the things to come in those that have been already. These subtile Creatures ponder the Nature and Effects of all things, and by their long continuance and experience are skilled in the temper of the Elements, and of Mens Bo­dies, and the Inclinations proceed­ing thence, insomuch that they can foresee Famine, Pestilence, and o­ther Diseases, Wars and Deaths. Or God may permit evil Spirits to foretell Events, Suffering them thereby to seduce the Wicked, and to punish them, or for other Rea­sons which are hid to us. From such Considerations as these it is not unreasonable to gather. That the consulting of Ghosts and Fami­liar Spirits, in plain terms, Devils, is too often palliated under the pre­tence of Astrology. I have it from the Pen of Paracelsus, L. de Prae­sagiis. (who some [Page 235] think was a competent Judge in this case,) That the Devil often in­sinuateth himself into Astrologers. Nor is it necessary that he should formally and solemnly converse with them, (though it is probable he doth so with some:) it is enough for their purpose, and the Devil's too, that they tacitly hold com­merce with him: an implicit com­pact may suffice sometimes. And thus the Daemon, or evil Spirit, who actuateth them, keeps them in pay with constant Intelligence, till at last he gives them the full Reward of their serving him in the Regions of Darkness forever.

I hope I have by this time made it manifest, that future Events may be predicted in some measure, or seem to be so, and yet that this is not to be attributed to Astrological Skill. No: This Art, as it is ma­naged; seldom reacheth so far. If it had light into the hands of Per­sons who were both knowing and [Page 236] good, it might have come to some thing: but as it hath been used, or rather abused and perverted, no great matter can be expected from it. And to offer yet a farther Con­viction of this, and to prove that it is not in the power of Astrology, as it is now framed, to foretell fu­ture Contingencies, nay, not Na­tural Occurrences with any certain­ty, I will lead you to a clear Ap­prehension of it by these following Steps:

1. The Hypotheses they com­monly go upon, are not the same that we reade of heretofore.

2. They proceed upon seigned and precarious Principles.

3. And more particularly, Their Doctrine of Genitures is fond and groundless.

4. They go beyond the Rules of the wisest in the Art.

5. They pretend to tell others of their affairs, but in the mean time know not their own.

[Page 237] In the First place, I tender this to be considered, That the Hypotheses which the old Astrologers and the new ones proceed upon, are not the same, but differ toto coelo, and therefore it is impossible that the Astrological Judgments made from them should be true, or at least, if they be true on one side, they are false on the other. Ricciolus in his Astronomia Reformata, hath lear­nedly shewed the variety of Astro­nomical Hypotheses, and the un­certainty of them; and from thence he moves for a Reformation in the Principles of Astronomy and Astro­logy. That excellent Writer will inform us, that the ancient Astro­logy was false and frivolous, be­cause it was grounded on gross mi­stakes in Philosophy, on palpable Errours concerning the Systeme of the World, as the Ptolemaick Hy­pothesis, which is now laughed at. The Moderns will tell you that the [Page 238] fixed Stars have altered their places, and do not set and rise at the same time they did of old, but a Month later. For Example, the Dog Star arose about the middle of Iuly here­tofore, but now in the middle of August. The fixed Stars of Scorpio and Taurus have changed their Site. The Star in the Tail of the lester Bear, called the Pole Star, hath insensibly crept nearer the Pole. It was heretofore the most Southerly Star in that Constellati­on, but is now the most Norther­ly.Hackwell's Apol. l. 2. Sect. 4. Hipparchus, a famous Pytha­gorean Philosopher, who lived in Egypt in the reign of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, saith it was 12 De­grees from the Pole in his days: but now it is not above 3 or 4. And the Planets are altered as well as the fixed Lights. The Entrance of the Sun into the Cardinal Points (a mighty considerable thing in Astro­nomy, and whence the Judgments of Artists concerning the Quarters [Page 239] of the Year take their measures) is determined by some otherwise than it was heretofore. Nay, it is known that the Moderns do not agree a­bout the punctual Time of the Sun's Entrance, Copernicus and other Ma­thematicians say the Sun is come nearer to the Earth than it was here­tofore by vast proportions; some say Ten Thousand Miles. The Centre of the Sun was distant from the Centre of the Earth 24▪ Diame­ters of the Earth in Ptolemy's time: now it is distant 18. The Sun's Apogaeum in Ptolemy's days was in the 5th Degree of Gemini, now ac­cording to Tycho it is in the 6th Degree of Cancer. Some likewise are of Opinion, that the Reason why so many Eclipses appear, is because the Equinoxes are transpo­sed, and remain not what they were at first. Now this I say, If there, be not the same distance of the Earth from the Heavens that was heretofore, and if the Stars are [Page 240] displaced, there will follow thence an Increase or Abatement of their Influences: or, though they be not altered (as I cannot tell whether my Authours fail me or no in their Accounts) yet if some modern Ar­tists have thought so, and have fra­med their Conclusions accordingly, there must needs be some alteration in Judgments made thence. And yet these Moderns (which is very strange) adhere to the Aphorisms of the Ancients in the Judiciary part of Astrology. The old Hy­potheses are exploded, and yet no new Rules and Maxims are intro­duced. The antiquated Aphorisms must hold on still, though the Hea­vens are not now conformable to the old Systeme of them. Who would not think that the new discoveries in the Heavens must needs make some Alteration in the Judgments made from them? Since many things concerning the Stars are known and acknowledged now which for­mer [Page 241] times were ignorant of, how can it otherwise happen than that there should be sometimes different, if not contrary Observations?

Secondly, their Art is founded, as on suspected Hypotheses, so up­on false and feigned Principles. As to Instance, they build upon the groundless Suppositions of the Zodi­ack, that great and spatious Circle which containeth the several Roads and Inns which the Sun turns into in his travelling round the World. Having named this, perhaps it will be expected I should declame against the imaginary Signs in that Circle, for they confess themselves that there is not the least Similitude of a Lion, a Scorpion, or a Crab in the Heavens. If it had pleased the first Nomenclators, the Lion might have been a Jaccal, the Scorpion a Crocodile, and the Crab a Whale. One of the Constellations in this Circle is called Libra, but it is no [Page 242] more like a Balance than a pair of Bellows, nor so much neither. But Libra is a Symbol of Justice, Ergò They that are born under this Sign shall prove Just and Even Men. This it is to argue from arbitrary and fictitious things, as if real Effects were like to be produced from Chi­maera's. Those that remonstrate against Judiciary Astrology, use to be very brisk here, and fly with great Zeal at these Imaginary and feigned Signs in the Heavens. But I have premised before, that I de­sign not Conquest but Truth in this short Essay. My work is not to run at all adventures against an Opinion, but to strike at so much of it onely as ought to be oppo­sed. I hold therefore, That though those Constellations have imagina­ry Names, yet they may be indu­ed with a real Influence. And the Reason why they call them by such Names, is because it is likely those Figures from whence they are de­nominated, [Page 243] (as a Ram, a Bull, &c.) express something of the Nature and Effects, the Power and Opera­tion of those Stars on the Body of Man. However, these Names and Figures were appropriated to them to distinguish them from one ano­ther. Waving then these, let us consider the Distribution of the Signs of the Zodiack, and here in­deed we shall find mere Fictions and Delusions. Take this convin­cing demonstration of it: Astro­logers teach, that the several Coun­tries and Regions of the World are under their particular and proper Signs, that they are all provided and served with their different Con­figurations: and so their way is, when there are Conjunctions, Ec­lipses, and the like in these Signs, to see what Countreys and Cities are liable to the Dominion of these Constellations. But you must note that when the Astrologers made the Distribution of the Signs, there [Page 244] were but three parts, or rather half of the World known, and the Re­gions of that known World shared all the Signs among them; so that if any other parts should be found out afterwards, they were to shift for themselves, and be contented without Signs. Now it happened that America was discovered since, and this is as large as the other Three Parts of the World, and hath not one Sign allotted it. An Astro­loger still proceeds as if there were no such place in Nature; for if he should allow it any Signs then this new World must rob the old one of half its Constellations, and by this means the ancient Rules of Astro­logy (on which they still proceed) are baffled and cashier'd. It is clear then that the Dividing of these Signs was an idle and foolish Inven­tion. Or, to couch the matter in short thus, The old Division of the Signs among the Nations of the Earth was either right or wrong. If [Page 245] it was right, then one half of the World hath engrossed all the Signs, which is as ridiculous and absurd as can be, and the poor People of A­merica, though they be a Moiety of the World, can have no Prog­nosticks made upon them. Or if the ancient way of Dividing the Signs was wrong, then all the Astro­logical Judgments of Places of the World before Two Hundred Years agoe, were mere Shams: and as for the Modern Astrologers, if they follow that Division, they are de­luded, and if they make a new one, they thereby disgrace and abuse the greatest Patrons of their Art, and they may as well renounce their other Hypotheses and Princi­ples as this, and so the whole Fa­brick of Astrology will be in dan­ger of tumbling down. The or­der of the Regimen of the Twelve Signs, in respect of Man's Body, will be call'd in question, viz. why the Head is governed by this Sign, [Page 246] and the Neck by that? why such Members are under the Dominion of such particular Constellations, and not others? And the Division of these Signs into Hot and Cold, Dry and Moist, according to the Qualities of the Four Elements, or, which is the same, the Division of them into Four Trigons, the Fiery Trigon (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius,) the Earthly (Taurus, Virgo, Capri­corn,) the Aerial (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius,) and the Watry (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces,) may be looked on as groundless and Precarious.

Next, I am not satisfied about their Distribution of the Heavens into the Twelve Houses, which they talk much of, and of which they make as much use in the E­rection of their Schemes. When they are to judge of the Events that appertain to any Person they fly to these Houses presently, to see what Planets, or other Stars, were situ­ated in any of these at the Birth of [Page 247] him they enquire about. The first House begins at the East-Horizon, and is to be numbred according to the Series of the Signs Eastward. In Nativities it is called the Horo­scope, and the House of Life. It is also named the Ascendent, be­cause the Sun ascends there in this first House: and according to the quality of any Man's Ascendent they tell you what his Fortunes shall be. This and the other Eleven Houses with their Virtues and Pro­perties, are represented in order in the following Distich,

Vita, Lucrum, Fratres, Genitor, Na­ti, Valetudo,
Vxor, Mors, Pietas, Regnum, Bene­factá (que) Carcer,

These Houses (say they) have their particular and distinct Relati­on to all things that can happen to Man, and according to these the various Events of Life and Death [Page 248] are to be Judged of. But what can be more imaginary and fancyfull? It is a mere Arbitrary Invention that there should be just Twelve Houses, and no more or less. And what is there in one of these Houses more than in another that signifies these distinct Natures and Proper­ties? What Reason can be given why the first House should be the Horoscope, and why Judgment must be made there of the Birth of the Child? And not onely in this, but in every one of these Houses there are many things wholly feign­ed, fabulous and precarious. When you come to take an account of them from the Artist, you hear no­thing but a mere Jargon and unin­telligible Gibberish. But this is plain English, and easie to be un­derstood, that from consulting of imaginary and fictitious Houses no­thing is to be expected but imagi­nary Predictions. And so for the Planetary Hours, which are the 12 [Page 249] equal parts which Astrologers di­vide the artificial Day and Night into, be it long or short. There are 6 Planetary Hours constantly in a day before Noon, and 6 after; and in these a Planet is said to reign or rule, and the Hours take their Denomination from the 7 Planets, beginning with Luna, and so pro­ceeding to Saturn, and then begin­ning again with Luna, &c. This, no less than the position of the Twelve Houses, seemeth to be wholly Arbitrary, and founded on no solid Bottom; and I could never find that the stoutest Champion that the Stars ever had, could keep his ground here.

Thirdly, and more particularly, Their Doctrine of Genitures is fond and ridiculous. But here first I will (according to the Method I al­ways prescribed my self) grant what is to be granted, viz. That as the Heavenly Bodies, which are [Page 250] so great and vast, and always sur­round and incircle us, shed their Influence and Efficacy continually upon us, so they do it especially at our first entring into the World, when our Bodies are moist, soft and tender. Then chiefly they receive Impressions from the Heavens, and so the Temperament is partly de­rived from above, and if long cu­stome of acting be added to the Natural Temper and Complexion, here is some ground for Astrologi­cal Judgments in a sober manner. But the common Doctrine of the Genethliaci, and their Boasts and Undertakings are vain upon these following Accounts; because,

1. The Judgment concerning the Complexion and Inclination of Men should be made not onely from their Nativity, but from the Time of their Generation and Conception, when the first Lineaments of their Temper were drawn, and the Ground work of Nature was laid. [Page 251] If any thing be impressed on Men by the Stars, it is rather done upon the Seed in Conception, than on the Foetus at the Birth: and there­fore the Judgment should rather be taken from that Principle, and from the time of [...], when the Infant first of all moveth and liveth, than from the hour of the Nativi­ty. And yet I could never observe that these Diviners trouble their Heads about this, which is the Foundation of all.

2. The Knowledge of the Effi­cacy of the Stars, as to the Nativi­ty of Persons, is very hard to come by, for the exact time of Birth is seldom known and set down. Ma­ny can assign the Day or Night, the Forenoon or Afternoon, or per­haps the Hour in any of these, but not one in a million directly know­eth the just and precise time when he was born. And yet many of those who maintain the Judgment of Genitures say, that the Day or [Page 252] Hour are not enough, but it is ne­cessary to know the true Minute of the Nativity, for on that depends the exact Judgment of the Person and his Actions. Thus we see (say they) that the little distance between the Birth of Twins causeth a vast difference in their respective For­tunes and course of Life, as in the Examples of Iacob and Esau, Remus and Romulus, and others. These Twins, though they may be said to be born together, yet because they came not into the World at the very same moment, differed exceedingly in their conditions, and all circum­stances of their Lives; for every sin­gle minute the influence of the Hea­vens altereth. So that according to the concessions of Astrologers them­selves there is no accurate Judging from the Nativity. If the Clocks went false at the time of the Mid­wifery, all is gone. The Hour (if that would serve) cannot be per­fectly told, much less the Quarter [Page 253] and Minute: and yet if there be a­ny failing in the least portion of Time, the Stars change their Influ­ences. Nor can they salve the mat­ter (but rather give farther proof of their groundless Confidence) by say­ing that if the just time of the Na­tivity be forgot, or not known, they can by a Rule of Hermes (which Sir Christopher Heydon sets down in his Defence of Judiciary Astrology, p. 170.) help themselves and supply the defect. But others, who are not so punctual, say it suf­ficeth that they have a more gene­ral account of the time of Birth. And these men see they must be forced to acknowledge this, be­cause it is impossible sometimes that the exact Minute of the Nativity should be known, as when the Birth is retarded by some accident or o­ther. Nay, every Child is born by parts, he comes successively in­to the World, so that there is a great Latitude in the time of Nativity. [Page 254] The Head may have received its Impression from the heavenly Bo­dies before the Breast or the Belly have theirs, and these before the Feet and lower Parts can come to have their Doom.

Thus the several Regions and Members of the Body will be di­versly affected by the Stars. If Twins were not born under the same Constellation, because not born in the same moment, but one after another, then for that Reason no one Man is born under the same Constellation, for he cometh not all at once into the World.

Moreover, It is against the Na­ture of Astrology it self, to judge of the course of Mens Lives from their Nativity, because that teach­eth that a diversity of Aspects cau­seth divers Inclinations in humane Bodies. Now it is known that the Aspects of the Planets vary much in one day in divers Countries. It is vain then to judge of Persons of [Page 255] divers Countries and Regions from their Nativities. Though many are born about the same time, yet the places being different, there must be a diversity of Position of the Heavens, and what Star ariseth in one place in such an instant, sets in another; therefore the Judg­ments of Astrologers in this case are uncertain.

Farther, Though I cannot dis­prove what one hath related,Valer. Max. l. 1. c. 8. viz. that two persons born at the same time were observed afterwards to be of the same Genius, they were Philosophers of the same School and Sect, and died both in the same Moment; and it is known, that as some Twins came into the World, so they went out together, yet it is as evident also, that those who had the same Stars at their Births, pro­ved to be of different Qualities and Success in their Lives; and on the contrary, they who were born un­der different Stars met with the [Page 256] same Fortunes. An Example of this latter is given us by the great Roman Pleader, and thus urged by him, as a full Eviction of the vani­ty of the Genethliack Divination, Omnésne qui Cannensi pugnâ cecide­runt,Cicero. l. 2. de Di­ Astro fuerunt? Exitus quidem omnium unus & idem fuit. In some Battel (as suppose at Cannae) there fell at the same time, and by the same kind of Death, Twenty Thou­sand Men. If this happened from the Stars, then they were all born un­der the same Constellation; but none hath the impudence to say so: and therefore to argue from the Stars reigning at Mens Births to their future adventures and success, is irrational. It is absurd to be­lieve that all which happeneth in the whole Life, dependeth on that moment in which the Child was born, or that as the Stars stood af­fected at that time, so ever after he should act.

[Page 257] Lastly, you may see how liable the Doctrine of Genitures is to Fraud and Deceit, from the general Use that is made of it by those who undertake to erect Astrological Schemes: For a Person and his Acti­ons being once known, they pre­sently make some Star, House, As­pect or other, answer to his Acti­ons, and make those to be certain Arguments of these. Richard Crom­well his Nativity is one of the mean­est and poorest that ever I saw,Gadbury's Collectio Genitur a­rum. saith a Student in this Art; there is not one Planet here essentially dignified. Major General Lambert began his March 1659. Nov. 3. 10 h. 15. m. towards the North, against General Monk. The Position of the Hea­vens was most sad, saith the same Person; the Moon was in a Watry Sign, therefore he had like to have been drowned in Yorkshire, riding through a River towards his Army. But you may take notice by the bye, (from the same hand) that [Page 258] those who are born under Pisces, shall fall into a River some time or other, but not be drowned, be­cause forsooth Fishes swim. Cardi­nal Signs possessing the Angles of a Nativity make the Person most eminent and famous in his Genera­tion, saith the same Artist, (the greatest Actions of the World de­pending on the Cardinal Points of the Heavens, viz. Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn.) Thus Tullius Cicero, Gustavus Adolphus, late King of Sweden, Archbishop Laud and Oliver Cromwell (are they not well suited by him?) had the Car­dinal Points upon the Angles of their Nativities. Peter Gassendus, poor Man, because he writ against Judiciary Astrology, and checked and confuted the Art of Genitures, hath all things naught in his Nati­vity. His ill habit of Body, and worser (if this Censor is to be cre­dited) of Mind, is plainly to be seen in the Heavens. Never was wretch [Page 259] so bespattered by Man of Art. What work would this man make with the Nativity of the worthy Dr. Hen­ry More, if he could get a sight of it? He would reade his Life and all his Writings in it at the first view. He would make the Lord of his As­cendent plainly shew him to be a Retired, Melancholick Collegian all his days, a Philosopher, and par­ticularly of the Platonick Sect, and (which is as ugly a thing as can be in any Man's Geniture) a professed Adversary of the Church of Rome, and all its Corruptions. Thus, but more grievously, he should smart for writing against dear Vrania, for daring to insert his Confutation of Judiciary Astrology into the Mystery of Godliness, and for Print­ing it lately by it self. But look you now, because Vincent Wing published a piece against Gassendus, (wherein this excellent Person's Ob­jections against Astrology are pre­tended to be answered)Ibid. and was [Page 260] himself a Well-willer and Bro­ther Philomathemat. his Nativi­ty hath all things good and lau­dable in it. But then again he tells us that William Lilly, his Ene­my, though Fellow Astrologer, had the Moon in Pisces, a Wet and Drinking Sign, which made him a piece of a Good Fellow. But I am weary of such light and ludicrous Stuff, and have more serious and weighty matter to set before the Reader. Onely from this it appea­reth, that Astrological Observati­ons and Genethliacal Judgments are oftentimes the products of a capri­cious and fancifull, and (as you see here) of a spightfull and malitious Brain. And for this Reason, as well as some Others, (particularly because these Men have undertaken to calculate the Nativity of Buil­dings, as well as of Humane Bodies, of hard Stones no less than of soft Flesh,) the most Learned and Ju­dicious Astrologers have not assert­ed [Page 261] the Doctrine of Genitures, al­though in other things they have defended Astrological Judgments.

Thus I have searched into those feigned Hypothese and fallacious Principles on which a great part of Judiciary Astrology is founded. And though I do not think the Whole Art is rendred altogether vain and useless by them, yet I as­sure my self that there can be no true Predictions from any thing that is false in any Art: and for that Rea­son the Common Astrologers ought not to be confident of their Under­takings, and those that consult them may justly suspect their perfor­mances.

Fourthly, These Pretenders to Astrology go beyond the wisest Pa­triarchs and Founders of their Art: they exceed the limits of their Sci­ence, and the Sentence is passed a­gainst them by their own Judges. I will name onely two of them, [Page 260] [...] [Page 261] [...] [Page 262] but they are the chiefest, and of the greatest Renown.

The first is Ptolemy, the Prince of Astrology, whose first and lead­ing Aphorism is this,Ptolem. Centiloq. Aph. 1. That generals onely can be foretold by this Art, and that those alone who are Di­vinely inspired are able to predict particular Events. An Astrologer may tell the Propension and Incli­nation of a Man from his Natural Temperament, and this from the Stars; but he cannot from that ge­neral Inclination tell what determi­nate Effects will ensue. He ought to content himself with a general Judgment, and not to be definitive in special Cases, in particular and individual Accidents. This is the Decision of the great Father of Astrologers. What then becomes of their Horary Questions, which descend even to the most particular and Personal Affairs? What Reso­lution is to be expected of the Que­ries about the Marriage of such an [Page 263] individual Couple, the particular Events of this Seaman's Voyage, that Counsellor's Cause, this Mer­chant's Adventure, that Soldier's Engagement, the time of the Death of any of these, and (rather than they will stand out) the retrieving of any Neighbour's Silver Spoon lost or stollen?

Again, it is confessed by the same Master and Dictatour of Astrology, that the Influence of the Stars is not Necessary and Unavoidable, but may be evaded by Mens In­dustry and Care.Centiloq. ibid. [...]. A wise man (saith he) is able to avert the Effects of the Stars when he knoweth the Nature of them: and he adjoineth Socrates as an Example of this, who, when an Astrologer had told him his Natu­ral Inclinations, confessed them true, but these (saith he) are all con­quered by Prudence and vertuous [Page 264] Endeavours; my Soul hath got the Mastery of my Body, Philosophy and Moral Discipline have corrected my Natural Propensions. A wise Man hath Dominion over the Stars, he subdueth those Motions which come to him from thence, and they are Fools onely who are led by them.

The second great Judge and Rab­bi of this Art, is that noted Floren­tine Iunctinus, an Authour that Ju­diciary Astrologers deal very much in, and therefore I will alledge four or five set Determinations of his, wherein the vanity and (I may say) Nullity of the common and Irra­tional way of Astrologizing are discovered and condemned. And what he saith is the more observa­ble, because I take it out of that Treatise which is intituled, The Defence of Astrologers. Those Astro­logers (saith he there) who will needs know and predict all kinds of parti­culars are Fools. And in the same [Page 265] place, An Astrologer can tell no­thing certainly as to such things as concern Man's Will. This is often re­peated by him. Excellently again in the same Treatise, The Significa­tions of the Stars are not like the Commands and Edicts of Praetors, (i. e. necessary and indispensable,) but are in Subjection to the Com­mand and Will of God. And what the Sense of all sober Astrologers is, we may learn from those words of his, viz. Astrologers do not hold that the Heavens are wholly and altogether the Cause of our For­tunes or Misfortunes, but that they act onely according to the Subject Matter, which accordingly as it is disposed, doth more or less receive the Celestial Influence.

It might be added that Iunctinus ingenuously confesseth, That the Wonders and Miracles of the Old and new Testament, being works brought to pass by God himself, and not depending on second Causes, [Page 266] cannot be foretold by Astrology. This is the sense of the two great Dictatours of Judiciary Astrology, and all the sober of that Study ac­quiesce in it. Thus though the He­brew Rabbies (several of whom were notable Students and Profici­ents in Astrology, as Aben Ezra in particular, the greatest Divine and Astrologer the Jews ever had,) say Proverbially, [...] All things depend on the Stars, yet it is plain that they do not think their Influence is necessary and in­evitable, and such as carrieth force and constraint along with it; for none are more for Free-Will than the Rabbies and the Jewish Doc­tours. And this Adage of theirs may be qualified with that other which they make use of, viz. The Stars neither make a Man poor nor rich;Alchish in 1. c. Job. and with that known one al­ready mentioned, [...] No Star shines with an evil Aspect upon Israel, the felicity or infelicity [Page 267] of the Pious depend not on the Host of Heaven. Those that are good need not dread being Planet-struck.

Fifthly, There cannot be a grea­ter Proof of the Uncertainty and Vanity of Astrological Judgments than this, That those Men who profess to tell others what shall hap­pen to them even in relation to their secretest and most concealed affairs, yet in the mean time know not what shall befall themselves, and are ignorant about their own concerns. These bold Diviners have not so much skill as to reade the Destiny of their own Families, and yet they will undertake to tell o­thers whether they shall be rich or poor, whether they shall be long­liv'd or no. Whilst they soar alott, and with a Mene Tekel pronounce the fate of Kingdoms, they are blind about their own little Affairs, of which without doubt they might have a better insight, than of the [Page 268] Intrigues that relate to the Publick; for it is far easier to dive into their own private Fortunes at home, than those which relate to Princes and States, and great Communities. I may take leave then to collect, that those who cannot foresee the Evils which may befall themselves, are unable to foretell contingent Events to others. And this is the Case of the Men I am speaking of, and it appears from thence how groundless their Predictions are. Even the great Iulius Caesar, who had throughly studied this part of Astrology, and in the very time of War and Business, used to set some hours apart for it, as he is brought in by the Poet, speaking of himself:

—Media inter praelia semper
Stellarum Coeli (que) plagis, Superis (que) vacari.
In midst of Battels and of bloudy Wars
I could find leisure for the Heavens and Stars.

This great Proficient in Astrolo­gy, after all his Study, had not so well conned the Alphabet of the Stars, as to spell out his own De­stiny, nay, not to reade it after he had been taught it by Spurina.

If it shall be said here, That the Prophets of the Old and New Te­stament were able to inform the World of future things of the high­est Moment, and yet oftentimes fore-saw not what should befall themselves:

I Answer, That these Holy Per­sons were extraordinarily inspired by God for the good of the World, and the great purpose of Religion in it. It was in order to this that [Page 270] they were enabled to foretell Futu­rities: still they were like other Men, as to their own private no­tices of things. But these Men who started the Objection, pretend not to be extraordinarily assisted, they proceed according to their Art: and if so, This would direct them as certainly to a knowledge of their own Affairs, as to that of others, nay more certainly.

Many other things might be heaped up together, to evince the Uncertainty of the Vulgar Prog­nostications of Astrologers, as name­ly, that if we consult several of them, we shall be sure to hear our Doom in a different, nay con­trary manner: That those Astrolo­gers who are subject to a bad Fate (though their Skill may be good) are apt to err in their Judgments: (It is one of the Astrological Apho­risms in Gadbury: A ticklish busi­ness indeed! We had need first con­sult Mr. Astrologer's Nativity, be­fore [Page 217] we desire him to search into our own:) That this sort of Men generally are made up of vain Boast­ings, and their Art is calculated for Pride and Ostentation. Any one that readeth Cardan, who was the chiefest of their Order, will find that he vaunted of more than he did, or ever could doe. But it happened that the Lies he telleth in one place are confuted by him (having forgotten them) in ano­ther, as concerning several Cures of Diseases, his Familiar Spirit, and Astrological Achievements. And This is the fault of all the Tribe, I mean of those who are guilty of Abusing the Astrological Science, and there cannot be a greater Ar­gument of their Folly and Vanity.

On all these Considerations a­foresaid, Decret. 2. pars. c. 26. Concil. To­let. 1. the unlawfull Use of Astro­logy hath been condemned by De­crees, Lateran. Conc. sub Jul. & Le­one. and Anathematized by Coun­cils. It was prohibited by the E­dicts of Constantine the Great, The [Page 272] odosius, Iustinian, Codex de Malefic. & Mathemat. leg. 2. Leg. 5, & 7. and other Chri­stian Emperours and Kings. Ars autem Mathematica Damnabilis est, & interdicta omnino, And a Ca­pital Punishment by the same im­perial Law was inflicted on those who consulted these Mathematici; for that was the Word then for all kinds of Unlawfull Diviners and Soothsayers, whether they practi­sed by the Stars, or any other ways; not that Mathematicks was Damna­ble, and that every one who descri­bed a Circle, setched the Devil in­to it presently, but because some of those who were conversant in Geo­metrick Figures, and other Mathe­matical Studies, practised also in Unwarrantable Divination, and thence Mathematici became the Name of all that did so.Origen. l. contra Fa­tum. The An­cient Fathers speak freely against these rash Astrologers,Greg. Nyss. l. de Fato. Euseb. de Praep. E­vang. l. 6. who tie the Actions of Men to the Stars, and pretend to foretell future Contin­gencies and Events, that are Free. [Page 273] One of them especially, and he of as great Learning as any, and (which is yet more) who in his Youth had been of the Tribe of Diviners and Astrologers, being at length converted took occasion often in his Writings to condemn the Folly and Impiety of their Practices; though he was still willing to give Astrology its due, as when he said, In illa perspicuitate corporum Coele­stium non omnes omnino motus Ani­mi latere: Augustin. de Gen. l. 2. c. 21. which is no other than what I have asserted, viz. That it is possible to arrive to a Notice of some Motions and Inclinations of the Mind from the Astral Influences on the Body. And thus it appea­reth that the indirect and unwar­rantable course of Divining by the Heavenly Bodies was disallowed by the Church, forbid by Councils and Synods, punished by the Imperial Constitutions, confuted by the lear­nedst and most pious Fathers, it being an impious and foolish Enter­prize, [Page 274] directly against the Doctrine of Divine Providence, and the Ex­ercise of Christian Faith; it being the Mother of Superstition, the guide to distrusting in God, and in some to downright Atheism. Nay, Picus Mirandula hath shewed in se­veral Citations, that even the great Philosophers and Wits among the Pagans despised the Follies of Astro­logy and Prediction from the Stars. It is the joint Testimony of Histo­rians, Liv. Tacitus. Valer. M. Dio. that the Mathematici were often expelled the City of Rome, and even banished out of Italy by the Emperours; though we are told indeed that they were some­times called back again, as Tacitus speaking of these Astrologers, saith they are a sort of Men quod in Ci­vitate nostra & vetabitur semper & retinebitur. Hist. l. 1. Thus among all wise and sober Persons whether Christians or Gentiles, the com­mon Prognosticatours have been odious and execrable.

[Page 275] If my business lay in this sort of Studies, I would present the Reader with the excellent Sense of those Authours who have with equal So­lidity and Acuteness, encountred this Imposture. Such were Sextus Empiricus of old, in his Hypoiyp. Pyrrhon. Cicero, l. 2. de Divinat. Phavorinus in an Oration against Astrologers, in A. Gellius, l. 14. Plo­tinus, l. 3. Ennead. 2. Marcilius Fi­cinus, that Learned Platonick Phi­losopher and Astronomer, who writ Contra Iudicia Astrologorum. Iohn Picus, Count of Mirandula: Thomas Erastus, a Physician and Philoso­pher: Causinus the Jesuite, De Do­mo Dei: The admirable Gassendus▪ Chamber (publick Lecturer of Astro­nomy in Oxford) his Treatise against Judiciary Astrology: Barclay in his Argenis, where Nicopompus is intro­duced, making an ingenious speech on this Subject. I could mention o­thers, and set before you the summ of their several Topicks, but that it [Page 276] would seem to savour something of the vanity of those I am confuting, who are wont to boast of Authori­ty, great Names and numerous Ar­guments. But waving these, let it satisfie the Religious Enquirer, that the Astral Influences, in that Sense which I have explained them, are disallowed by the Infallible Test of all verity, the Holy Scriptures. When the Divine Law saith, There shall not be found among you any one that useth Divination, or more ex­actly, according to the Original, in the plural, he that divineth Di­vinations, Deut. 18. 10. the unlaw­full foretelling by the Stars is here forbid among other ways of Divi­ning. And to this Prohibition per­haps may allude that Jewish Saying, (though I know it admits of another sense) The Law is not found among Astrologers and Genethliacks. Sepher. Hammus. This impious Art is reckoned among the Abominations of the Gentiles in that fore-named place, Ier. 10. 2. [Page 277] Where the Israelites who were short­ly to be Captives among the Chal­deans are forbid, not onely to learn their Idolatrous Astrology, and worshipping the Heavenly Host, but even to attend to their Divi­nation by those ordinary Stars, which being natural and usual can­not be ominous. This likewise is condemned in Isa. 47. 11, 12, 13. where, after God by the Prophet had told the Chaldeans (who were hugely addicted to Astrology, and first brought in the abuse of it) that Evil should come upon them, and they should not know from whence it riseth, (whereas they pretended to spy the Cause of all Events in the Stars) and mischief should fall upon them, and they should not be able to put it off: (whereas the guise of the great Star­gazers was to flatter those who con­sulted them with Promises and Assu­rance of happy Occurrences) in an Ironical and upbraiding manner he addeth, Let now the Astrologers and [Page 278] Star-gazers and monthly Prognosti­catours, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. In which bitter Sarcasm that Astro­logy which ascribes all to the Stars is exploded, and their folly is laid open who trust not in God, but in the Heavenly Bodies, or rather in those who pretend to know by ob­serving them when Kingdoms shall be saved or destroyed.

And thus I have largely set down the true Vse of the Heavenly Bodies, and also the too frequent Abuse of the Knowledge of them. I have en­deavoured rightly to state the Con­troversie, and to distinguish between Art and Imposture, between True Knowledge and Vain Pretences. And if this were impartially done in all Sciences, we should see an unspeaka­ble advancement of all sorts of Lear­ning, and Truth would have an un­controllable Dominion in the World. I have made it my business to fix the true Limits and Boundaries of [Page 279] Astrology (a thing which I saw was very much neglected.) It hath also offended me to see how some Wri­ters treat all the Sons of Vrania with Contempt and Derision, and affect jeering rather than arguing: there­fore I have been carefull to carry my self inoffensibly as to this. It becomes sober persons to dispute with Civility. It is best to confute an Opinion without railing at them that hold it. In short, I have been so just and equal as to give Astrolo­gy its due, and no more. It was truly said by an observing Person, Est Astronomiae nobilis & gloriosa Scientia,Johan. Sa­risb. de Nug. Cur. l. 2. c. Clientelam suam intra Moderationis metas cohibeat: quam si licentiore vanitate excedat, non tam Philosophiae species quàm Impie­tatis decipula est. The Knowledge of the Stars is a noble and glorious Science, if it keepeth its Retainers within the bounds of Moderation; but if it once leaps over those, and runs into Vanity and Extravagancy, [Page 280] it is no longer a part of Philosophy but becomes a wicked Engine to entrap Mankind. Here is the right and the wrong side of the Art. Take it in the former representation, and it is worthy of our Thoughts and Studies, as without doubt it was of those who lived in the first and best Times. It is not improbable that Adam delivered it to his Chil­dren. Joseph. Antiq. l. 1. c. 3. Thus the Iewish Antiquary relateth, he instructed Seth in it, and that Seth left the Rudiments of it inscribed on two Pillars.Vossius de Scient. Ma­themat. A Lear­ned Man telleth us of a Book yet extant of Enoch concerning Astro­logy. And the Iewish Historian in his Antiquities before quoted ac­quainteth us that Abraham was skilled in this Art, and was the first that taught it to the Egyptians,Joseph. Antiq. l. 1. C. 9. a People rude and unlearned in that and all Sciences, till he came among them. This was the good and law­full, the natural and usefull Astro­logy, but it was soon abused and [Page 281] corrupted, as Philosophy, Natural Magick, and other Studies were. The Devil at last stept in, and with Superstition and Lies depraved the Practice of it. And now many pre­tend to doe that by this Art which it is utterly impossible to doe, either by it, or any other. Especially the Masters of Genethliacal Predictions are rash and daring, and deliver things false and absurd, having no ground for their Principles and Con­clusions. How often do these Bar­chocabs, Sons of the Stars, prove Barcoziba's, Sons of a Lye and Im­posture? How frequently do those ignorant or inconsiderable People who consult them, those who affect to have their Purses emptied, so their Heads may be filled with plea­sing Fancies, how frequently are they heard to complain of these cheating Oracles? Nor do I speak this to disparage and blacken the whole Science, for I know it is usual with the Professours of an Art to car­ry [Page 282] it farther than is fitting and law­full. The common Astrologers un­dertake more than they know they can give a fair account of: and they are not the onely People that doe so. Some Physicians and Lawyers will put their Patients and Clients on mad Adventures, and some that pretend to Divinity will assert any thing. It is unreasonable therefore to condemn all, because Frauds and Cheats may be espied in some. If some Astrologers attribute more to the Art than they should, that is no disparagement to the Art it self. The abuse of the Doctrine of the Stars must not make us discard the Sci­ence. Though most of Judiciary Astrology be vain, yet all may not be so. Though I have offered Rea­sons which are able to diminish Mens fond Opinions of that Study, and to take off the certainty which some pretend to in their Astrologi­cal Judgments, nay, though all the Rules and Aphorisms of Ptolemy and [Page 283] the rest of the Astrologers were vain and false, yet there may be some Divination from the Heavenly Bo­dies, and that innocent and lawfull; but this is such a one as is not dero­gatory to Man's free acting: it doth no more impair the liberty of Mens Actions than the Prophecies in the Old Testament of future things in­fringed the freedom of those who were to act afterwards according to those unerring Predictions. And this I will add, that if God's De­crees and Concourse are reconcila­ble with Man's free Actions, so may the Influence of the Stars be like­wise. If the Abuse then of Astrolo­gy be taken away, and it keepeth it self within its due Limits (which I have set down) it may be made serviceable to good and lawfull ends, and may justly be recommended to the World as the choicest Accom­plishment of all Natural Philosophy.

I have been the longer on this Theme, because the right under­standing [Page 284] of it is necessary, not one­ly for settling our Minds and Judg­ments about so celebrated a Problem as this is, but principally for the full and complete answering of the Last Objection which was levelled against the foregoing Discourse. It was ne­cessary to shew the true difference between the Ordinary Luminaries of Heaven, and those Strange and Vn­usual Lamps which are lighted and set up there sometimes, and to make it evident, that the Prognosticks which are made from the Aspects and Configurations of the Stars, are nothing allied to those which are made from the Appearance of Co­mets. In defiance then of all Cavils and Objections, our Assertion stands unshaken and immoveable, That these rare and amazing Sights in the Heavens portend some strange and unusual thing to the Inhabitants of the Earth. A Comet is the Prodro­mus of some notable Calamity, and is sent on purpose to give notice and warning of it.

[Page 285] Take then the Conclusion of all (which will chiefly relate to our pre­sent Condition and Circumstances in this Nation) in these following Particulars,

1. Let us remember that we have felt the Effects of Comets, and upon that Consideration let us not be tempted to dis-believe what hath been suggested in this Discourse. It hath been proved to us experimen­tally, that Comets are denunciati­ons of God's Anger, and that the Products of these Apparitions are direfull and fatal, if Fire and Pesti­lence, if bloudy Conspiracies and In­testine Divisions and Separations be any proofs. We have found that these Monitors have not been sent in vain, that they were no Bruta Fulmina, no idle and insignificant Flashes, but that they have really done Execution. And if we are not convinced of this, but still remain incredulous and senseless, the wife [Page 286] Disposer of all things may hereafter multiply these Prodigies, and cause two or more of them to appear to­gether, on purpose to upbraid our incredulity and unbelief, and to force our assent for the future.Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 2. c. 25. Ari­stoteles tradit & simul plures (Come­tas) cerni: nemini compertum alte­ri, quod equidem sciam. Though a certain Philosopher reporteth con­cerning Comets, that more than one of them have been seen at a time, yet I cannot find (saith the Natural Historian, who had made a Collection out of all Histories that were extant) that any one hath ob­served this besides himself. But who knoweth but that we (who boggle at this Doctrine) may see a pair of them at once, as Pharaoh's Dream (which was the Sign and Forerun­ner of a great Calamity that was to ensue) was doubled, to render the belief of the thing more firm and cer­tain? I do the rather think this not to be improbable, because both our [Page 287] Sins and our Insensibleness exceed those of former Ages, and therefore the Divine Hand may shew that to us which was never known before.

2. Although we do not yet per­haps feel the sensible Effects of the Comets which appeared last, yet we have no Reason to be confident that we shall not experience any. The God we have to doe with is long-suffering and slow to Wrath: He threatneth before he striketh. Be­sides, a Comet may not visibly and apparently opperate for a conside­rable time. The Evil which a Co­met portendeth seizeth oftentimes by Degrees. It is a great mistake to imagin that it shall Never come because it hath not visited us alrea­dy. Or, the Fatal Season of its Operating may be just Entring, but not yet Accomplished; as Spu­rina replied to Iulius Caesar, who merrily said the Ides of March were Come, that they were not yet Past.

[Page 288] 3. When I speak of black Events which are the Consequents of Co­mets, it is to be known that it is intolerable Folly and Presumption to Determine peremptorily what par­ticular ones they shall be. Many have Fondly and Rashly set down before hand the Particular Events of such and such Comets, but they have thereby rendred themselves ob­noxious to the Censure of all sober Persons. Strange Vicissitudes, Di­stractions, Perils and Mischiefs are the Attendants of these Dreadfull Spectacles, but it surpasseth all Hu­mane Knowledge to define Particu­larly and absolutely of what Kind they shall be. Great Distresses for Mens Sins and Miscarriages are threatned, but we know not certain­ly whether Pestilence, or War, or Famine, or Which of the many o­ther Judgments is to be Our Allot­ment. All Comets are not Alike, but of Different, and it may be [Page 289] Contrary Qualities, and consequent­ly the Effects are so too. And though one Comet may seem to be of the same Nature with another as to Big­ness, Colour, Motion and Duration, yet it may be very unlike in Figure, Place, Time, and other Circum­stances. And perhaps there never were any two Comets of a like Na­ture as to all things. There is there­fore no judging of the particular Ef­fects of this or that Comet, because we saw such Events follow another of that likeness. Indeed by our Un­dertaking to specifie directly before hand the individual Evils that shall come, we are so far from making a good use of these Signs from Hea­ven, that we rather provoke the Divine Anger by our being so da­ring and presumptuous. Onely this may be done by us; we may with modesty guess (but go no farther) that God will trie us with those E­vils which we have not very lately experienced and groaned under, and [Page 290] this not onely that we may feel all kinds of Scourges for our Offences, but that our new and unheard of De­baucheries may be punished with fresh Calamities. We may (without limiting and confining God's Hand) expect Famine and Scarcity after so great Plenty, nay, not onely a Fa­mine of Bread, but of hearing the Word of the Lord. We may look for Invasion from abroad, when we are so divided and distracted at home, and that under so Gracious a Prince. And truly this seemeth to be the Vniversal and Epidemick Plague de­signed for all Christendom. The Ma­hometan Crescent may in time grow to the Full. The Turkish Cymetar, though often Blunted, may be so Edged once and again, as at last to doe fatal Execution over all those spatious Territories where Christi­anity is professed, and (which I am loth to add) where the Professours of it dishonour the Religion it self by their Lives. To be brief, the [Page 291] Age we live in hath been already an Age of great and wonderfull Oc­currences, and we may expect that the remainder of it will produce great and tremendous Changes to the World: so that if Diogenes were alive, he might now more eagerly desire than once he did to be buried with his Face downward, and that for the same Reason which he then gave, viz. Because the World would in a short time be turned upside down. But lest I should be mistaken, and some should think I am Positive and Definitive in what I say,

4. That which I have asserted before must be called to mind here in the close of all, viz. That though Comets are certain Signs of God's Displeasure, yet they are not Ne­cessary Causes of the Evils they threa­ten. Our Doom, I hope, is not ir­reversible. Nay, it is certain that He who sheweth us the Tokens of his Anger, can divert it when He [Page 292] pleaseth. How glad should I be if all the Intimations I have given of approaching Evils should be frustra­ted! I shall not, like Ionas, be an­gry because Nineveh is not de­stroyed.

Lastly, If all that hath been said amounts not to a Demonstration, (as I do not pretend it doth, and above half the Subjects that are treated of in the World, and that have evident Truth on their sides, never reached to That: If I have not demonstrated) that Comets are Signs of impendent Evils, yet this ought to be remembred, that no Man can be certain that they signi­fie Nothing, and that they stand for Cyphers in the Heavens. The rash­est. Determiners have not conclu­ded that it is impossible they should be forerunners of Calamities, and Messengers of Divine Vengeance. Now if they prove to be so (as the abundant Reasons and Arguments [Page 293] above produced solicite us to be­lieve) it will be a heinous Offence if we take no notice of them. How­ever it will be best for us to look upon them as such, and then, if we are mistaken, it will be on the sa­fest side, and we shall err with the wisest and soberest Persons. At least it becometh us to suspend our Iudgments in a dubious Case. It is inconsistent with the Wisedom and Piety of a Christian Philosopher peremptorily to deny what hath some shew of Probability. Much less will it become him to make a Mock of that which may be a seri­ous Truth, and the greatest Reality in the World: as Vespasian (they say) made himself merry with a Comet that appeared in his days? for being told by one that it por­tended Ill to him, he jestingly said, that that Star with long Hair con­cerned the Kings of Persia, who wore long shaggy Hair, and not Bald Emperours, such as he was. [Page 294] Which is thus expressed by an Hi­storian: Xiphilinus Aurel. Vic­tor. [...]. Although Dio relateth that he spoke it of the King of Parthia, Sueton. in Vespas. c. 23. yet it is most probable that he re­flected on the Persians, who were known by their long Hair, and thence were called [...] by the Father of History.Herodot. l. 6. c. 19. Far be it from us, who are a Civilized People, and (which is yet higher) a Nation professing Christianity to jest with Heaven, and exercise our Drolle­ry on those rare and stupendious Appearances which we have so great Reason to be persuaded are the Almighty's Messengers, a sort of mute Prophets sent to instruct us in our Duty, and to be forewar­nings to us of the Wrath to come. Let us rather be directed by these Heavenly Signs, as the Magi were of old by an unusual Star that ap­peared to them, to seek our Savi­our. [Page 295] Let us prepare for God's Judg­ments by Repentance and Amend­ment of Life, and by these excel­lent Preparatives let us endeavour, if it be possible, to prevent them. Let us abandon those Sins and Vices which we may justly believe are pointed at by these Signs from Heaven. Those, those are the dire­full Prodigies which threaten Chri­stendom at this day. Those are as Ominous and Presaging as all the Glaring Comets that have shaked their fiery Trains over our Heads.

Let us therefore, as we are desi­rous that God's Judgments may be averted, and his Blessings conferred upon us, as we are willing that Christianity should thrive and get ground in the World, as we ten­der the Well-fare of the Church, which is the Pillar and Ground of Truth, as we hope to have the best and purest Religion (derived from Christ and his Apostles) con­tinued amongst us to all succeeding [Page 296] Generations, and as we wish well to our Countrey, the most flourish­ing and Happy Region under Hea­ven, let us break off our Sins by Repentance, and a speedy Refor­mation of our Manners; which was the principal thing Designed, and I hope will partly be Effected by this Discourse.


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