« ZurückWeiter »
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, especially 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 takimg 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 decli
nation by accident. CHAP. XXV.
Of the impediments which have been in the state of heathem religion, and other superstitions and errours of religion. And that in the true religion there hath not, nor is any impediment, except it be hy 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 thatis jealous of the variety of learning, discourse, opinions, and sects, as misdoubtingit may shake the foundations, or that cherisheth devotion upom 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 humam reason, whether by interpretation or anticipation, from examining or discussing of the mysteries and principles of faith.
Of the impediments which have been in the nature of society, and the policies of state. That there is no composition of estate or society, nor order or quality of persons, which have not some point of contrariety towards true knowledge. That monarchies incline wits to profit and pleasure, and commonwealths to glory and vanity. That universities incline wits to sophistry and affectation; cloisters to fables and unprofitable subtilty; study at large to variety ; and that it is hard to say, whether mixture of contemplations with an active life, or retiring wholly to contemplations, do disable and hinder the mind more.
SIVE FORMULA INQUISITIONIS.
1. Francis Bacon thought in this manner. The knowledge whereof the world is now possessed, especially that of nature, extendeth not to magnitude and certainty of works. The physician pronounceth many diseases incurable, and faileth oft in the rest. The alchemists wax old and die in hopes. The magicians perform nothing that is permanent and profitable. The mechanics take small light from natural philosophy, and do but spin on their own little threads. Chance sometimes discovereth inventions ; but that worketh not in years, but ages. So he saw well, that the inventions known are very unperfect, and that new are not like to be brought to light but in great length of time ; and that those which are, came not to light by philosophy.
2. He thought also this state of knowledge was the worse, because men strive against themselves to save the credit of ignorance, and to satisfy themselves in this poverty. For the physician, besides the cautels of practice, hath this general cautel of art,
that he dischargeth the weakness of his art upon supposed impossibilities :.neither cam his art be comdemned, when itself judgeth. That philosophy also, out of which the knowledge of physic which now is in use is hewed, receiveth certain positions and opinions, which, if they be well weighed, induce this persuasion, that no great works are to be expected from art, and the hand of man ; as, in particular, that opinion, that “ the heat of the sun and fire “ differ in kind ;" and that other, “ that compositiom * is the work of man, and mixture is the work of “ nature," and the like ; aJl tending to the circumscription of man's power, and to artificial despair ; killing in men not only the comfort of imagination, but the industry of trial ; only upon vain-glory, to have their art thought perfect, and that allis impossible that is not already found. The alchemist dischargeth his art upon his own errours, either supposing a misunderstanding of the words of his authors which maketh him listen after auricular traditions ; or else a failing in the true proportions and scruples of practice, which maketh him renew infinitely his trials; and fimding also that he lighteth upon some mean experiments and conclusions by the way, feedeth upon them, and magnifieth them to the most, and supplieth the rest in hopes. The magician, when he findeth something, as he conceiveth, above nature, effected, thinketh, when a breach is omce made in nature, that it is all one to perform great things amd small; not seeing, that they are but subjects of a certain kind, wherein magic and super