Page images
PDF
EPUB

8.

so styled, is extraordinary, and eminent.

Neither PART I, did the other prophets of the old Testament pretend enthusiasm ; or, that God spake in them; but Madness. to them, by voice, vision, or dream; and the burthen of the Lord was not possession, but command. How then could the Jews fall into this opinion of possession? I can imagine no reason, but that which is common to all men; namely, the want of curiosity to search natural causes : and their placing felicity in the acquisition of the gross pleasures of the senses, and the things that most immediately conduce thereto. For they that see any strange, and unusual ability, or defect, in a man's mind; unless they see withal, from what cause it may probably proceed, can hardly think it natural ; and if not natural, they must needs think it supernatural; and then what can it be, but that either God or the Devil is in him? And hence it came to pass, when our Saviour (Mark iii. 21) was compassed about with the multitude, those of the house doubted he was mad, and went out to hold him: but the Scribes said he had Beelzebub, and that was it, by which he cast out devils; as if the greater madman had awed the lesser : and that (John X. 20) some said, he hath a devil, and is mad; whereas others holding him for a prophet, said, these are not the words of one that hath a devil. So in the old Testament he that came to anoint Jehu, (2 Kings ix. 11) was a prophet ; but some of the company asked Jehu, what came that madman for? So that in sum, it is manifest, that whosoever behaved himself in extraordinary manner, was thought by the Jews to be possessed either with a good, or evil spirit; except by the Sadducees, who

PART I.

8

Madness.

erred so far on the other hand, as not to believe there were at all any spirits, which is very near to direct atheism; and thereby perhaps the more provoked others, to term such men demoniacs, rather than madmen.

But why then does our Saviour proceed in the curing of them, as if they were possessed ; and not as if they were mad? To which I can give no other kind of answer, but that which is given to those that urge the Scripture in like manner against the opinion of the motion of the earth. The Scripture was written to shew unto men the kingdom of God, and to prepare their minds to become his obedient subjects ; leaving the world, and the philosophy thereof, to the disputation of men, for the exercising of their natural reason. Whether the earth's, or sun's motion make the day, and night ; or whether the exorbitant actions of men, proceed from passion, or from the devil, so we worship him not, it is all one, as to our obedience, and subjection to God Almighty; which is the thing for which the Scripture was written. As for that our Saviour speaketh to the disease, as to a person; it is the usual phrase of all that cure by words only, as Christ did, and enchanters pretend to do, whether they speak to a devil or not. For is not Christ also said (Matt. viii. 26) to have rebuked the winds ? Is not he said also (Luke iv. 39) to rebuke a fever ? Yet this does not argue that a fever is a devil. And whereas many of the devils are said to confess Christ; it is not necessary to interpret those places otherwise, than that those madmen confessed him. And whereas our Saviour (Matt. xii. 43) speaketh of an unclean spirit, that having gone out of a man,

8.

speech.

wandereth through dry places, seeking rest, and part 1. finding none, and returning into the same man, with seven other spirits worse than himself; it is manifestly a parable, alluding to a man, that after a little endeavour to quit his lusts, is vanquished by the strength of them; and becomes seven times worse than he was. So that I see nothing at all in the Scripture, that requireth a belief, that demoniacs were any other thing but madmen.

There is yet another fault in the discourses of Insignificant some men ; which may also be numbered amongst the sorts of madness; namely, that abuse of words, whereof I have spoken before in the fifth chapter, by the name of absurdity. And that is, when men speak such words, as put together, have in them no signification at all ; but are fallen upon by some, through misunderstanding of the words they have received, and repeat by rote; by others from intention to deceive by obscurity. And this is incident to none but those, that converse in questions of matters incomprehensible, as the School-men ; or in questions of abstruse philosophy. The common sort of men seldom speak insignificantly, and are therefore, by those other egregious persons counted idiots. But to be assured their words are without any thing correspondent to them in the mind, there would need some examples; which if any man require, let him take a School-man in his hands and see if he can translate any one chapter concerning any difficult point, as the Trinity; the Deity; the nature of Christ ; transubstantiation; free-will, &c. into any of the modern tongues, so as to make the same intelligible ; or into any tolerable Latin, such as they were acquainted withal, that lived when

PART I.

8.

the Latin tongue was vulgar. What is the meaning

of these words, The first cause does not necessarily Insignificant inflow any thing into the second, by force of the speech.

essential subordination of the second causes, by which it may help it to work? They are the translation of the title of the sixth chapter of Suarez first book, Of the concourse, motion, and help of God. When men write whole volumes of such stuff, are they not mad, or intend to make others so? And particularly, in the question of transubstantiation ; where after certain words spoken; they that say, the whiteness, roundness, magnitude, quality, corruptibility, all which are incorporeal,&c. go out of the wafer, into the body of our blessed Saviour, do they not make those nesses, tudes, and ties, to be so many spirits possessing his body? For by spirits, they mean always things, that being incorporeal, are nevertheless moveable from one place to another. So that this kind of absurdity, may rightly be numbered amongst the many sorts of madness; and all the time that guided by clear thoughts of their worldly lust, they forbear disputing, or writing thus, but lucid intervals. And thus much of the virtues and defects intellectual.

CHAPTER IX.

OF THE SEVERAL SUBJECTS OF KNOWLEDGE.

9.

THERE are of KNOWLEDGE two kinds; whereof one PART 1. is knowledge of fact: the other knowledge of the consequence of one affirmation to another. The Knowledge. former is nothing else, but sense and memory, and is absolute knowledge ; as when we see a fact doing, or remember it done: and this is the knowledge required in a witness. The latter is called science ; and is conditional ; as when we know, that, if the figure shown be a circle, then any straight line through the centre shall divide it into two equal parts. And this is the knowledge required in a philosopher ; that is to say, of him that pretends to reasoning.

The register of knowledge of fact is called history. Whereof there be two sorts: one called natural history; which is the history of such facts, or effects of nature, as have no dependence on man's will ; such as are the histories of metals, plants, animals, regions, and the like. The other, is civil history; which is the history of the volun tary actions of men in commonwealths.

The registers of science, are such books as contain the demonstrations of consequences of one affirmation, to another; and are commonly called books of philosophy; whereof the sorts are many, according to the diversity of the matter ; and may be divided in such manner as I have divided them in the following table.

« PreviousContinue »