¶What is the world. Cap. 1.
*AS Marcianus sayth, the world is said in thrée manner wise. For Diuine vnderstanding is called the world, that is to wit Mundus Archetipus, and is bodilesse, vnséene, and euerlasting. And to the ensample thereof, the world that we sée and féele, is made and wrought, as Boetius saith: Thou bringest forth all things of high ensample, thou fairest, bearest in thy minde, the fairest worlde, and makest and workest by a lyke I∣mage, &c.
¶In the seconde manner, the world is called all things that is contained in the roundnesse of heauen. As heauen, in the which the starres shine: and fire in which all things heate: aire, by the which all things that hath lyfe bréedeth & pro∣ueth: & water that beclippeth the sides of the earth: earth, that sustaineth and holdeth vp, and féedeth all these lowe things of this worlde. Of which it is sayd, The world is made by him. Ioh. 1. *In the beginning was the worde, and the word was with God, and God was the word. The same was in the begin∣ning with God. All things were made by it, & without it was made nothing that was made, &c.
In the third manner, man is called, the lesse world, for he sheweth in him∣selfe likenesse of all the world. And so the first world is euerlasting & during in thought and minde of God. The second world is euerlasting by the wil of God, and taketh euerlasting being and sprin∣ging of him. The third world is some∣what euerlasting, & some deale passing, bearing in it selfe likenesse of all things. Before it is treated of the first worlde, and of the seconde: Now of the world that we féele and sée somewhat shall be spoken. Then Marcianus saith, the world is an vniuersall gathering together of things, which be made, and is all round, as it were a sphere or a ball: for the vt∣ter parte of the world hath shape & like∣nesse of a sphere, and of a circle. And as Marcianus saith, ther was no shape nei∣ther likenesse so couenable to the world, as a round likenesse and shape, and that for perfection of all things: and for the likenesse that the world hath in euerla∣sting being with his worker, that is wt∣out ende and without beginning. And Philosophers diuide all the worlde in two parts: of ye which twaine, the more noble and simple is the ouer parte, that worketh and stretcheth from the circle of the Moone to the region of planets. The other part is the lower, and suffreth and stretcheth from the circle of the Moone downwarde to the middle poynt of the earth. Marcianus describeth ye lower part of the world in this manner wise: The world he saith is a circle of foure Ele∣ments, which be found all round, in the manner and forme of a sphere: and the earth is placed in the middle: and the o∣ther deale is rauished about the mouing of heauen, to the making and forming of this world. The vertue of God made & ordained Primordial matter, in ye which as it were in a massie thing, the foure Elements were potentially, and not di∣stinguished in tale and number, as they are now: but they were meddeled. And that Mussa and lumpe Plato calleth Yle in Thimeo. And thereof the wisedome of God made and brought forth all the Elements, and all that is made of Ele∣mentes, & ordayned them in their owne qualyties & place. For that which was hot and drye, in that manner passed in∣to kinde of fire, and because of lyghtnes thereof, the wisedome of God set it aboue other. And such as was most colde and drye, passed into kinde of earth and for heauinesse and sadnesse thereof, he set it beneth that was hot. And moyst he put into kinde of a••e, and such as was cold and moyst, passed into kinde of water. Page 119 And as these two Elementes be more light, cléere and subtill, he set them be∣tweene fire and earth. In Timeo, Plato as he might, described this first matter, in this manner. Yle the first matter he saith, was without qualitie and quanti∣tie, without colour, and shape, and lyke∣nesse, without plate and tune, betweene some substaunce, and no substaunce, &c. These words be full hard to vnderstand, but they be in this manner expounded: for it is said, that that matter was with out quantitie: not for that they were cleane without all quantitie, but for it had no certaine quantitie knowen to vs: as men saye, that a Giaunt is endlesse much, for he passeth ye quantitie of men. Also that matter is said without qualy∣tie: for it had no name specially of any qualitie, for it could not be sayde, more hot than colde, nor againward: and so of other qualities. And he sayth, without colour: for it had no colour of kinde of any Element. It was without time, for as yet was no time, nor passing of time, when this matter was made. It was without place: for it had no certaine place, more vpward than downward, nor more breadth than length. It was by substaunce, and no substaunce was be∣fore this matter, but some substaunce, was thereafter. Then the materiall be∣ginning of the neather world, was that vnséene matter, that is the first matter that is common and able to receiue all lykenesse of shapes and qualytie.
And is also kept and saued, vnder diuers kindes and shapes: for this mat∣ter abideth not corruption, touching the substaunce thereof, though it be continu∣ally chaunged, touching the qualyties that chaungeth. For this matter that is now raren̄ed and made thin, abideth vnder the forme and shape of fire, and vnder fire, shall by and by, by thickning doe on kinde & matter of aire, that was before vnder the shape, and forme, and matter of fire. Héereof it followeth, that the first matter, of the which the world is kindly made, is ingenerable and incor∣ruptible. And of that matter all materi∣all things begin, and turn again to that matter, as into the Mother. And so the world is made of many composed things and contrarious, and yet in it selfe it is one world: for the world is one in tale and number, and not many worlds, and that is for the vnitie of matter, as it is said in li. de coelo & mundo. The world occupieth all his matter, as it saide there in 〈…〉 mundi eternitate. Then the world, of the which we speake at this time is not diuers in it selfe: neither de∣parted in substaunce, though contrari∣ousnesse be found in parts thereof tou∣ching contrarinesse of the qualities: for the world hath most néedfull accorde in all it selfe, and as it were aecorde of musike, though it séeme that it hath vn∣likenes in soure of his parts for contra∣ry qualities, as Austen saith openly, su∣per •eo. This world (he saith) shal passe touching this passibilitie and kinde and shape that it hath now, but it shall a∣bide euermore touching the substaunce and kinde, as it is sayde there. And the Glose saith there: Hence and earth shall passe, &c. Mat. 5. Héereof it followeth, that the world is wonderful because of chan∣ging thereof. But neuerthelesse, for the nobilitie of his matter, vertue & work∣ing of his shape, & so for easie might of bréeding, and of generation of things: the world is not to be praised so much, as God the maker of the world, is to be praised ouer all things. Nothing in the whole frame of the world is so vile, nor so low, nor pertykell, in ye which shineth not praising of God in matter and in vertue, & in shape: & the matter & shape of the world is some difference, but that is with accord & most peace: for yt parte of the world that is most pure & cleane, & simple & noble, hath ye more vniforme inclination & appetite to receiue ye more noble forme & shape: & the more spiritual the matter is, ye more inclination & appe∣tite it hath to spirituall forme & shape, & so the matter of heuen, requireth & née∣deth the more simple & noble forme and shape, then ye matter of ye Elements. Al∣so ye matter of heuē is more noble & sim∣ple in ye more noble body, as in ye Sun, thā in ye moone, or in Mercury, or Mars, & the matter of elements, is more noble in fire, thā in ye aire, or in other elemēts. Page [unnumbered] And so the matter is more great & boy∣stous in earth, than in other Elements, for therein be more parts of matter ga∣thered, as Aristotle saith. Therefore (hée saith) that of an handful of earth is made ten of water.* Also the matter of one E∣lement is more cleane and pure in one part, than in another, as it is said in pri. Mecho. For the ouer parts of fire, bée more noble and simple than the nether: and the middle partes of the earth bee more great and sad, and lesse cleane and pure. And for that the meddled bodyes be made of the Elements, all the partes of the Elements be more pure and noble: the medled bodies be more simple pure and noble: and as it is againwarde in Elements, so it is againward in medled bodies. Also more noble matter of the world, néedeth more noble forme & shape, and therefore the matter is disposed, as the forme and shape as keth. For if fire shall be made of earth, it néedeth that the greatnesse of matter of earth bée made subtill and pure, and more spiritu∣all and simple: that it may be clothed in a more simple forme, that is forme and shape of fire: and shortlye to speake, it néedeth that the matter be arayed & dis∣posed, after the propertie of forme and shape. Also men take héede of the nobi∣litie of the world, by the more noble and worthy partes thereof: and also by the more noble workings and doings. And therefore the ouer part of the worlde, is counted more noble and worthy. For the matter ther is more cléere and pure, and the shape is fairer, & the vertue is more in the ouer parts than in the nether. For the world at all is the more faire & séem∣ly, by as much as the nether foule part of the worlde, is arayed with the more fairnesse and blisse of the ouer parte, as Austen saith. Some perfection of ver∣tue and of charitie, that passeth in the o∣uer parts sheddeth it selfe continually to∣ward the fairnesse and perfection of the nether parts. Also things that séeme and shew, that the nether part of the world, hath lost in fairnesse & in light, that that part recouereth in grace & vertue of plen∣teousnes. For no lesse wonder is of ver∣tuous plenteousnesse of the earth, in be∣ring and bringing forth of hearbs, trées, and of fruite, and in diuers gendring of beasts, and of créeping wormes, in di∣uers bréeding and gendring of mettall, & of pearles and of stones: then it is to wondring of the cléernes of heauen with diuersitie of circles, and roundnesse and starres thereof. And though the worlde be arayed with so many noble and wor∣thy differences of things by might of the vertue of God: yet touching the nether part thereof it is subiect all about to ma∣ny defaultes and wretched conditions. For though the world séeme father and forth bringer and feeder of bodies, yet it is prison of spirites, and most cruell cri∣ling of soules, and is place and stende of full many wretchednesse and paines: for the world is place of trespasse & of guilt, the habitation of pilgrimage, & of woe, of wéeping and of teares, of trauell and of faintnes, of fearfulnesse and of shame, of mouing and of chaunging, of flowing and of ouerturning, of passing and of cor∣ruption, of insolence and perturbation, of violence and oppression, of deceipt and of guyle. In the worlde is nought els found but vanitie, wickednesse, couetous∣nesse, anguish, soyling & age. The world draweth to him, and loueth those that be knoweth: and putteth away and be∣spiseth them that he knoweth not. The world is noyfull to many men, and pro∣fitable to sewe at the last. The louers thereof the worlde deceiueth and beguy∣leth: For the world promiseth manye things, but at the last it payeth few or none, and reseth not to sewe and to take them that dispise it, and that in the ma∣ner of a shadowe: and is brifie and in∣tendeth to dye his sutours that followe him. And therefore oste times those that it most beareth vp with riches and wor∣ship, it maketh most poore, and brareth them downe at the last. And to vse Gre∣gories worde, We shall flye the world, though it please vs with wealth: for he that knocketh with so much woe & sor∣rowe, what els cryeth he, but that hée should be forsaken? And this of the properties of the world in generall, shal suffice at this time.