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and to reduce all other propositions unto principles ; and so, instead of the nearest way, have been led to no way, or a mere labyrinth. That the two contemplative ways have some resemblance with the old parable of the two moral ways, the one beginning with incertainty and difficulty, and ending in plainness and certainty; and the other beginning with shew of plainness and certainty, and ending in difficulty and incertainty. Of the great and manifest error and untrue conceit or estimation of the infiniteness of par. ticulars, whereas indeed all prolixity is in discourse and derivations, and of the infinite and most laborious expence of wit that hath been employed upon toys and matters of no fruit or value.' That although the period of one age cannot advance men to the furthest point of interpretation of nature, except the work should be undertaken with greater helps than can be expected, yet it cannot fail in much less space of time to make return of many singular commodities towards the state and occasions of man's life. That there is less reason of distrust in the course of interpretation now propounded, than in any knowledge formerly delivered, because this course doth in sort equal mens wits, and leaveth no great advantage or pre-eminence to the perfect and excellent motions of the spirit: That to draw a straight line, or to make a circle per
hand only, there must be a great difference between an unsteady and unpractised hand fect round by ain ? and a steady and practised; but to do it by rule or compass, it is much alike.
CHAP. XXI. Of the impediments which have been in the two extreme humours of admiration of antiquity and love of novelty ; and again, of over-servile reverence, or over-light scorn of the opinions of others.
CHAP. XXII. Of the impediments which have been in the affection of pride, specially of one kind, which is the disdain of dwelling and being conversant much in expe
riences and particulars, especially such as are vulgar in occurrency, and base and ignoble in use. That besides certain higher mysteries of pride, generalities seem to have a dignity and solemnity, in that they do not put men in mind of their familiar actions, in that they have less affinity with arts mechanical and illiberal, in that they are not so subject to be controuled by persons of mean observation, in that they seem to teach men that they know not, and not to refer them to that they know. All which conditions directly feeding the humour of pride, particulars do want. That the majesty of generalities, and the divine nature of the mind in taking them, if they be truly collected, and be indeed the direct reflexions of things, cannot be too much magnified. And that it is true, that interpretation is the very natural and direct intention, action, and progression of the understanding, delivered from impediments. And that all anticipation is but a deflexion or declination by accident.
CHAP. XXV. OF the impediments which have been in the state of heathen religion, and other superstitions and errors of religion. And that in the true religion there hath not, nor is any impediment, except it be by accident or intermixture of humour. That a religion which consisteth in rites and forms of adoration, and not in confessions and beliefs, is adverse to knowledge; because men having liberty to inquire and discourse of theology at pleasure, it cometh to pass that all inquisition of nature endeth and limiteth itself in such metaphysical or theological discourse; whereas if mens wits be shut out of that port, it turneth them again to discover, and so to seek reason of reason more deeply. And that such was the religion of the Heathen. That a religion that is jealous of the variety of learning, discourse, opinions, and sects, as misdoubting it may shake the foundations, or that cherisheth devotion upon simplicity and ignorance, as ascribing ordinary effects to the immediate working of God, is adverse to knowledge. That such is the religion of the Turk, and such hath been the abuse of Christian religion at some several times, and in some several factions. And of the singular advantage which the Christian religion hath towards the furtherance of true knowledge, in that it excludeth and interdictèth human reason, whether by interpretation or anticipation, from examining or discussing of the mysteries and principles of faith.
CHAP. XXVI. Of the impediments which have been in the nature of society, and the policies of state. That there is no composition of estate or society, nor order or quality of persons, which have not some point of contrariety towards true knowledge. That monarchies incline wits to profit and pleasure, and commonwealths to glory and vanity. That 'universities incline wits to sophistry and affectation'; cloisters to fables and unprofitable subtilty ; study at large to variety; and that it is hard to say, whether mixture of contemplations with an active life, or retiring wholly to contemplations, do disable and hinder the mind more.
PARS PRIMA. 1. FRANCIS Bacon thought in this manner. The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works. The physician pronounceth many diseases incurable, and faileth oft in the rest. The alchemists wax old and die in hopes. The magicians perform nothing that is permanent and profitables The mechanics take small light from natural philosophy, and do but spin on their own little threads. Chance sometimes discovereth inventions ; but that worketh not in years, but ages. So he saw well, that the inventions known are very unperfect, and that new are not like to be brought to light but in great length of time; and that those which are, came not to light by philosophy,
2. He thought also this state of knowledge was the worse, because men strive against themselves to save the credit of ignorance, and to satisfy themselves in this poverty. For the physician, besides the cauteles of practice, hath this general cautele of art, that he dischargeth the weakness of his art upon supposed impossibilities ; neither can his art be condemned, when itself judgeth. That philosophy also, out of which the knowledge of physic which now is in use is hewed, receiveth certain positions and opinions, which, if they be well weighed, induce this persuasion, that no great works are to be expected from art, and the hand of man; as, in particular, that opinion, that the heat of the sun and fire differ in kind; and that other, that composition is the work of man,
and mixture is the work of nature, and the like; all
3. He thought also, when men did set before them?