Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

CHAP. XVIII.

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 mone 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 digestingit 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 chusing 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 errours 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, especially in notions new and differing from those that are received. That never any knowledge was delivered in the same order it was invented, no mot in the mathematics, 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 errour, 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.

CHAP. xIx.

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 oftrue 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 fàllen 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 thatitis but a vanity and selfpleasing 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 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 propositions unto principles; and so, instead of the mearest way, have been led to no way or a mere labyrinth. That the two contemplative ways have VOL. III. X

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 plainmess and cer

tainty, and ending in difficulty and incertainty. Of the great and manifest errour and untrue cor.ceit 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 pre-eminence 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.

CHAP. XXI.

Of the impediments which have been in the two extreme humours of admiration of antiquity and love

« ZurückWeiter »