Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]





Vbi eras


Can eafily conceive that Men fhould fet up Principles of Logick and Ethicks, both of quando their own making; because our Reafo- fundamen ponebam nings and our Actions, about which thefe Difci-ta terra? plines are converfant, are properly the Work of indica miMan: But I can by no means comprehend, how if babes they fhould dare to advance their own Principles tiam. intelligenof Phyficks, the Object of which is Nature, and Job Nature the Work of God. By what Sagacity xxxvii. fhall we, who have not Skill enough to pene- Numquid trate the Intention of the Creature, be able to tu primus trace out the Defign of the Creator? Was it by ante colles bomo, our Understanding, that he ftretch'd out the formatus? Heavens by our Wisdom, that he laid the Job XV. Foundations of the Earth? Or what Philofo- Sapientiam pher has yet founded the Depths of that eternal Wifdom, which was before all Things, to declare cedentent its Counfels, or fhew us its Secrets? St. Au- omnia quis ftin fays, the World is a great Machine, fhining invefti in every Part with the Power and the Skill gavit? of Him that fram'd it. But may we not rather Confef. 1. Eccluf, 1.


10. c. 6.

Gg 4 term Numquid nofti femitas nubium?” Job XXXVII,

term it a great and mighty Labyrinth, of which the Philofophers in all Ages have unfucNumquid cefsfully endeavour'd to find the Clue? 'Tis nofti ordi- poffible indeed, to attain the Knowledge of nem cali? fome natural Effects, by a diligent Examination numquid of their immediate Caufes; but are we quickingrefus es profun- fighted enough, to unfold the Operations of the da maris? firft Caufe, the Maker of all Things, to discern thefaurum the hidden Springs of his Art, or copy out the nivis Model by which he perform'd his Work? If the grandinis afpexifti, smallest and most contemptible Things, which lie per quam within the Sphere of our Senfe, and which have viam fpar- been fo long our daily Profpect and Study, do gitur? quis yet prefent us with fomewhat that is incomdedit im- prehenfible; if the Herbs of the Field have their

brem curfum &


peculiar Qualities unknown to Man; fhall we be viam fo- fo very extravagant, as to pretend an exact Acnantis to- quaintance with the Powers and Properties of nitrui, &c. thofe vaft Bodies which compofe the Syftem of Job. 38. the Universe, and a clear Perception of all the Wonders we admire? Let us not put a Cheat Natura upon our felves: Nature has her Mysteries; and proceeds to her End by ways to us imperceptible. And after our stricteft Enquiry, and Application to her Secrets, we really know fo little of that which we embrace with the firmeft Perfuafion, in interi- that the ftudy of natural Philofophy alone, might pre facra- be fufficient to humble and mortifie human rio claufa pride. 'Tis an abftrufe and profound Science, funt, ex quibus a in which we fcarce meet with one determin'd liud bac Point, or certain Conclufion. Thofe who have atas, aliud fpoke the best upon it, have for the most part nos fubit, fpoke without Reafon. Let us not perplex our afpiciet. Thoughts, with the framing of new Theories Sen. Qu. and Systems. This Project has pafs'd through

non promifcuè nec omnibus



[ocr errors]

Peccari ab Ariftotele & ab aliis, cùm in naturâ fcrutantur quæ oc cultaverit ipfa natura, hoc eft divina voluntas quæ eft ipfa natura, sit inquit Auguftinus. Poffev. Biblioth. 1. 43. C. 20.




tio natura

fo many Heads, that if any Thing could have H been invented more excellent than our ordinary Schemes, we had long ago been blefs'd with E the Discovery. And after fo many have purfu- Eft anied in vain, it is Part of common Wisdom to morum ingive over the Chafe, and to content our felves geniorumwith admiring the Abyss of the Wisdom and que naturale quod Knowledge of God, under a deep Senfe, and dam quasi hearty Acknowledgement of our own Blindnefs pabulum and Ignorance. Nothing indeed can afford fo confidera-, large a Satisfaction to the Mind of Man, noCic. acad. thing can fo much excite our Curiosity, or feed Qu. 4. and gratifie it, as the Confideration of Nature, Felix qui and the Survey of natural Appearances. Happy potuit rethe Man, that can arrive at any the leaft Degree rum cognofcere of Affurance in thefe belov'd Enquiries! But caufas, Nature withdraws herfelf from our View; and &c. leaves only her outward Surface to exercise our Virg. Speculations. The Knowledge we have of her Georg. is Alender and imperfect; and Providence feems delighted in abandoning us to our Curiofity, as the Punishment of our Pride; while we feel our felves inflam'd with a Defire of knowing all Things, and yet find our felves reduc'd to the Mifery of being ignorant of all Things, even of our felves.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

II. i

But as vain as this Science appears to be, by In tanta. reafon of the Obfcurity and Uncertainty of its obfcuriObject, it is no lefs fo, by reafon of the divi- tate natuded Opinions of those who have studied it with a, diffenfionibus the greatest Applaufe. All the Power of anci-tantis ent Philofophy was not able to fettle any one fummoPrinciple of Nature. Thales maintaih'd that the rum virorum qui Water was the great Source of all Things rebus Heraclitus declar'd for the Fire; Anaximenes for contrariis



9. V


dístrepant, assentior ej fententiæ nihil percipi poffè. Cic. Qu. Acad.


putet id

Pythagorei the Air; Pythagoras for Numbers; Democritus for ex numeris Atoms; Mufeus for Unity; Parmenides for Infiproficifci nity. And under this profound Darkness of namnia.Ibid. tural Things, and this wide Distance of Conjectures about them, it was impoffible to be Aliud ju enfur'd of the leaft Particular. Protagoras afdicium Pro- firm'd that every Thing was really true which sagora, qui appear'd to be fo. Ariftippus allow'd nothing to verum effe be true but what Men are thro'ly convinc'd of quod cui- by the inward Perfwasion of the Mind. Chryque verum fippus declares, that the Senfes are always in the ibid. wrong: Lucretius contends, that they are alPræterper- Ways in the right. Picus Mirandula, in his Exmotiones mination of the pagan Doctrine, Ludovicus Viintimas A-ves, in his Piece of the Corruption of Arts, riftippus and Poffevinus in the third Part of his Bibliotheca, nibil putat effe judi- are very Eloquent upon this common Place, the cii. ibid. Weaknefs and Uncertainty of Human Judgment. And it must indeed be confefs'd, that



dam mor

effe certi,

there's nothing fo certain in Nature, but what Singula may be made the Subject of Difpute. The improvi- Confequence of this, is not that we fhould comtalitatem mence Scepticks, and entertain a general Doubt involvunt, and Diftruft of all Things, but that we fhould ut inter i. not too easily receive the Propofals of those fta certum Authors, who are every Day for building new fit nibil Worlds, and offering new Principles of Phynec mife- ficks; we ought to examine them before we emrius quid. brace them, fhould not fuffer our felves to be furquam bo- priz'd with their Novelty, before we are fatismine, nec fied of their Probability. We should admit no fuperbium. Plin. 1. 2. Syftem, but upon thofe Conditions upon which c. 7. Ptolemy publish'd his; that is, only as an HypoPtolemæus thefis, and without obtruding Authority instead noluit fuis of Reafon and Demonftration. Indeed, a Man Eypothe will be extreamly ridiculous, if he do's not fibus fidem ad biberi. fpeak modeftly upon a Subject to which he is Poffer.



almost an abfolute Stranger. Lucretius, however Nam daring and prefumptuous in pronouncing of quamvis rerum ig natural Things, has yet happily confefs'd, that norem prihe was unacquainted with their Originals. We mordiaque may affirm therefore, in general, That the firft fint. 1, 2. Naturalifts advanc'd their Principles only as Con- Quis bojectures; for Nature is too ftately to discover poteft fciher felf to any Beholder. The visible Effects of re confiher Operations may indeed let us into fone lium Dei, Notion of her invifible Powers. But what Eye cogitare quid velit! is ftrong enough to pry into her fecret CounSapien.IX fels, and to pierce thro' the thick Veil of her Defigns? Let us therefore look upon the several Systems, only as fo many probable Explications of what may happen in Nature, not as fo many Laws to neceffitate what muft happen. Let us confider Pythagoras's Numbers, Democritus's Atoms, Leucippus's Plenum and Vacuum, Plato's Ideas, Ariftotle's Matter and Form, Defcartes's Vortices and Corpufcula, only as Notions offer'd to our Scrutiny, not as Rules impos'd upon our Underftanding. Let us hear thofe with the most Favour, who give the most rational Account of all Things; becaufe 'tis plain they have the Art of ranging their Imaginations in the best Order, and with the finest Chain. But let us not fanfie them to have been fo abfurd, as to have given us Opinion for Science, and Probability for Truth. This is a very neceffary Precaution, which we ought to take along with us, if we would tread fecurely in the doubtful and intricate Paths of Nature. For as a falfe Level will drive a whole Building awry, fo a falfe Principle will render a whole Plan of Phyficks irregular and defective.

[ocr errors]

III. But

« PoprzedniaDalej »