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of the Jews.
PART iv. and after the time of our Saviour, amongst the
Jews; but they were schools of their law. For of the schools though they were called synagogues, that is to say,
congregations of the people; yet, inasmuch as the law was every sabbath-day read, expounded, and disputed in them, they differed not in nature, but in name only, from public schools; and were not only in Jerusalem, but in every city of the Gentiles, where the Jews inhabited. There was such a school at Damascus, whereinto Paul entered, to persecute. There were others at Antioch, Iconium, and Thessalonica, whereinto he entered to dispute : and such was the synagogue of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and those of Asia; that is to say, the school of Libertines, and of Jews that were strangers in Jerusalem ; and of this school they were that disputed (Acts vi. 9) with St. Stephen.
But what has been the utility of those schools? the Grecians unprofitable. What science is there at this day acquired by their
readings and disputings? That we have of geometry, which is the mother of all natural science, we are not indebted for it to the schools. Plato, that was the best philosopher of the Greeks, forbad entrance into his school to all that were not already in some measure geometricians. There were many that studied that science to the great advantage of mankind : but there is no mention of their schools; nor was there any sect of geometricians ; nor did they then pass under the name of philosophers. The natural philosophy of those schools was rather a dream than science, and set forth in senseless and insignificant language, which cannot be avoided by those that will teach philosophy,
The schools of
without having first attained great knowledge in part iv. geometry. For nature worketh by motion; the ways and degrees whereof cannot be known, without the knowledge of the proportions and properties of lines and figures. Their moral philosophy is but a description of their own passions. For the rule of manners, without civil government, is the law of nature ; and in it, the law civil, that determineth what is honest and dishonest, what is just and unjust, and generally what is good and evil. Whereas they make the rules of good and bad, by their own liking and disliking: by which means, in so great diversity of taste, there is nothing generally agreed on; but every one doth, as far as he dares, whatsoever seemeth good in his own eyes, to the subversion of commonwealth. Their logic, which should be the method of reasoning, is nothing else but captions of words, and inventions how to puzzle such as should go about to pose them. To conclude, there is nothing so absurd, that the old philosophers, as Cicero saith, (who was one of them,) have not some of them maintained. And I believe that scarce anything can be more absurdly said in natural philosophy, than that which now is called Aristotle's Metaphysics ; nor more repugnant to government, than much of that he hath said in his Politics; nor more ignorantly, than a great part of his Ethics.
The school of the Jews was originally a school The schools of the law of Moses ; who commanded (Deut. xxxi. unprofitable. 10) that at the end of every seventh year, at the Feast of the Tabernacles, it should be read to all the people, that they might hear and learn it. Therefore the reading of the law, which was in
PART IV. use after the captivity, every Sabbath day, ought
to have had no other end, but the acquainting of the people with the Commandments which they were to obey, and to expound unto them the writings of the prophets. But it is manifest, by the many reprehensions of them by our Saviour, that they corrupted the text of the law with their false commentaries, and vain traditions ; and so little understood the prophets, that they did neither acknowledge Christ, nor the works he did, of which the prophets prophesied. So that by their lectures and disputations in their synagogues, they turned the doctrine of their law into a fantastical kind of philosophy, concerning the incomprehensible nature of God, and of spirits; which they compounded of the vain philosophy and theology of the Grecians, mingled with their own fancies, drawn from the obscurer places of the Scripture, and which might most easily be wrested to their purpose; and from the fabulous traditions of their
ancestors. University, That which is now called an University, is a
joining together, and an incorporation under one government, of many public schools, in one and the same town or city. In which, the principal schools were ordained for the three professions, that is to say, of the Roman religion, of the Roman law, and of the art of medicine. And for the study of philosophy, it hath no otherwise place, than as a handmaid to the Roman religion : and since the authority of Aristotle is only current there, that study is not properly philosophy, (the nature whereof dependeth not on authors,) but Aristotelity. And for geometry, till of very late times it had no place at
what it is.
all; as being subservient to nothing but rigid truth. Part IV. And if any man by the ingenuity of his own nature, had attained to any degree of perfection therein, he was commonly thought a magician, and his art diabolical.
Now to descend to the particular tenets of vain Errors brought philosophy, derived to the Universities, and thence from Aristotle's into the Church, partly from Aristotle, partly from metaphysics. blindness of understanding; I shall first consider their principles. There is a certain philosophia prima, on which all other philosophy ought to depend; and consisteth principally, in right limiting of the significations of such appellations, or names, as are of all others the most universal; which limitations serve to avoid ambiguity and equivocation in reasoning; and are commonly called definitions ; such as are the definitions of body, time, place, matter, form, essence, subject, substance, accident, power, act, finite, infinite, quantity, quality, motion, action, passion, and divers others, necessary to the explaining of a man's conceptions concerning the nature and generation of bodies. The explication, that is, the settling of the meaning, of which, and the like terms, is commonly in the Schools called metaphysics ; as being a part of the philosophy of Aristotle, which hath that for title. But it is in another sense; for there it signifieth as much as books written or placed after his natural philosophy: but the schools take them for books of supernatural philosophy: for the word metaphysics will bear both these senses. And indeed that which is there written, is for the most part so far from the possibility of being understood, and so repugnant to natural reason, that
Errors conceruing ab.
PART IV. whosoever thinketh there is any thing to be under
stood by it, must needs think it supernatural.
From these metaphysics, which are mingled with stract essences, the Scripture to make school divinity, we are told,
there be in the world certain essences separated from bodies, which they call abstract essences, and substantial forms. For the interpreting of which jargon, there is need of somewhat more than ordinary attention in this place. Also I ask pardon of those that are not used to this kind of discourse, for applying myself to those that are. The world, (I mean not the earth only, that denominates the lovers of it worldly men, but the universe, that is, the whole mass of all things that are), is corporeal, that is to say, body; and hath the dimensions of magnitude, namely, length, breadth, and depth : also every part of body, is likewise body, and hath the like dimensions; and consequently every part of the universe, is body, and that which is not body, is no part of the universe: and because the universe is all, that which is no part of it, is nothing ; and consequently no where. Nor does it follow from hence, that spirits are nothing : for they have dimensions, and are therefore really bodies; though that name in common speech be given to such bodies only, as are visible, or palpable; that is, that have some degree of opacity. But for spirits, they call them incorporeal ; which is a name of more honour, and may therefore with more piety be attributed to God himself; in whom we consider not what attribute expresseth best his nature, which is incomprehensible; but what best expresseth our desire to honour Him.
To know now upon what grounds they say there