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discover some practices for present use, and not to discover Axioms, joining with them the new assignations as their sureties. That the forerunning of the mind to frame recipes upon Axioms at the entrance, is like Atalanta's golden ball that hindereth and interrupteth the course, and is to be inhibited till you have ascended to a certain stage and degree of generalities; which forbearance will be liberally recompensed in the end; and that chance discovereth new inventions by one and one, but science by knots and clusters. That they have not collected sufficient quantity of particulars, nor them in sufficient certainty and subtilty, nor of all several kinds, nor with those advantages and discretions in the entry and sorting which are requisite; and of the weak manner of collecting natural history which hath been used. Lastly that they had no knowledge of the formulary of interpretation, the work whereof is to abridge experience and to make things as certainly found out by Axiom in short time, as by infinite experiences in ages.
That the cautels and devices put in practice in the delivery of knowledge for the covering and palliating of ignorance, and the gracing and overvaluing of that they utter, are without number; but none more bold and more hurtful than two; the one that men have used of a few observations upon any subject to make a solemn and formal art, by filling it up with discourse, accommodating it with some circumstances and directions to practice, and digesting it into method, whereby men grow satisfied and secure, as if no more inquiry were to be made of that matter; the other, that men have used to discharge ignorance with credit, in defining all those effects which they cannot attain unto to be out of the compass of art and human endeavour. That the very styles and forms of utterance are so many characters of imposture, some choosing a style of pugnacity and contention, some of satire and reprehension, some of plausible and tempting similitudes and examples, some of great words and high discourse, some of short and dark sentences, some of exactness of method, all of positive affirmation, without disclosing the true motives and proofs of their opinions, or free confessing their ignorance or doubts,
except it be now and then for a grace, and in cunning to win the more credit in the rest, and not in good faith. That although men be free from these errors and incumbrances in the will and affection, yet it is not a thing so easy as is conceived to convey the conceit of one man's mind into the mind of another without loss or mistaking, specially in notions new and differing from those that are received. That never any knowledge was delivered in the same order it was invented, no not in the mathematic, though it should seem otherwise in regard that the propositions placed last do use the propositions or grants placed first for their proof and demonstration. That there are forms and methods of tradition wholly distinct and differing, according to their ends whereto they are directed. That there are two ends of tradition of knowledge, the one to teach and instruct for use and practice, the other to impart or intimate for re-examination and progression. That the former of these ends requireth a method not the same whereby it was invented and induced, but such as is most compendious and ready whereby it may be used and applied. That the latter of the ends, which is where a knowledge is delivered to be continued and spun on by a succession of labours, requireth a method whereby it may be transposed to another in the same manner as it was collected, to the end it may be discerned both where the work is weak, and where it breaketh off. That this latter method is not only unfit for the former end, but also impossible for all knowledge gathered and insinuated by Anticipations, because the mind working inwardly of itself, no man can give a just account how he came to that knowledge which he hath received, and that therefore this method is peculiar for knowledge gathered by interpretation. That the discretion anciently observed, though by the precedent of many vain persons and deceivers disgraced, of publishing part, and reserving part to a private succession, and of publishing in a manner whereby it shall not be to the capacity nor taste of all, but shall as it were single and adopt his reader, is not to be laid aside, both for the avoiding of abuse in the excluded, and the strengthening of affection in the admitted. That there are other virtues of tradition, as that there be no occasion given to error, and that it carry a vigour to root and spread against the vanity of wits and injuries of time; all which if they were ever due to any knowledge delivered, or if they were never
due to any human knowledge heretofore delivered, yet are now due to the knowledge propounded.
Of the impediments which have been in the affections, the principle whereof hath been despair or diffidence, and the strong apprehension of the difficulty, obscurity, and infiniteness which belongeth to the invention of knowledge, and that men have not known their own strength, and that the supposed difficulties and vastness of the work is rather in shew and muster than in state or substance where the true way is taken. That this diffidence hath moved and caused some never to enter into search, and others when they have been entered either to give over or to seek a more compendious course than can stand with the nature of true search. That of those that have refused and prejudged inquiry, the more sober and grave sort of wits have depended upon authors and traditions, and the more vain and credulous resorted to revelation and intelligence with spirits and higher natures. That of those that have entered into search, some having fallen upon some conceits which they after consider to be the same which they have found in former authors, have suddenly taken a persuasion that a man shall but with much labour incur and light upon the same inventions which he might with ease receive from others; and that it is but a vanity and self-pleasing of the wit to go about again, as one that would rather have a flower of his own gathering, than much better gathered to his hand. That the same humour of sloth and diffidence suggesteth that a man shall but revive some ancient opinion, which was long ago propounded, examined, and rejected. And that it is easy to err in conceit that a man's observation or notion is the same with a former opinion, both because new conceits must of necessity be uttered in old words, and because 1 upon true and erroneous grounds men may meet in consequence or conclusion, as several lines or circles that cut in some one point. That the greatest part of those that have descended into search have chosen for the most artificial and compendious course to induce principles out of particulars, and to reduce all other
A parenthesis "(as the Schools well know)" which follows here, has a line drawn
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 particulars, 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 men's wits, and leaveth no great advantage or preeminence to the perfect and excellent motions of the spirit. That to draw a straight line or to make a circle perfect round by aim of hand only, there must be a great difference between an unsteady and unpractised hand and a steady and practised, but to do it by rule or compass it is much alike.
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.
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 experiences and particulars, specially 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.
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 not1 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 men's 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 interdicteth human reason, whether by interpretation or anticipation, from examining or discussing of the mysteries and principles of faith.