A free enquiry into the vulgarly receiv'd notion of nature made in an essay address'd to a friend
Boyle, Robert, 1627-1691.
Page  249


I proceed now to the Sixth and Difficultest part of my Task, which is to shew, That the most ge∣neral and current Effata and Axioms concerning Nature, that are wont to be imploy'd in the Writings of Phi∣losophers, may have a fair Account given of them, agreeably to the Do∣ctrine I have hitherto propos'd, tho' these Axioms do some of them sup∣pose, and others seem strongly to sup∣port, the receiv'd Notion of Nature.

To clear the way for the ensuing Explications, I must desire you to re∣call to mind the two Cautions I have formerly offer'd you (in the Fifth Section,) wherewith I would have the common Doctrine, about the Ends or Designs of Nature, to be un∣derstood or limited. And therefore I shall not here repeat, what I there said, but only add in two words, Page  250 that if those, and some few other such things, had been observ'd and duly consider'd, they might perhaps have prevented much of the Obscu∣rity, and some of the Errors, that relate to the Notion of Nature.

I hope you have not forgot, that the design of this Paper was, to ex∣amine the Vulgar Notion of Nature, not to establish a new One of my own. And indeed the Ambiguity of the Word is so great, (as hath in the Second Section been made ap∣pear) and 'tis, even by Learned Men, frequently imploy'd to signifie such different Things; that, without Enumerating and Distinguishing its various Acceptions, it were very un∣safe to venture a giving a Definition of it, and perhaps it were very im∣possible to give any, that would not be liable to censure. I shall not there∣fore here presume to define a Thing, of which I have not found a stated and setled Notion so far agreed on amongst Men, but that I was oblig'd, out of Aristotle and Others, to com∣pile, Page  251 in the Fourth Section, a Colle∣ctive Representation of the vulgarly receiv'd Idea, or Notion of Nature: And afterwards to draw up, as well as I could, instead of an accurate De∣finition, tolerable Descriptions of what, on most occasions, may be intelligibly meant by It. Where∣fore, desiring and presuming, that you will retain in your Mind, and, as occasion shall require, apply, in the following Part of this Essay, the Things already delivered in the Fourth Section, I will not trouble you with the Repetition of Them.

But before I descend to treat of the particular Effata or Sentences, that are Receiv'd concerning Na∣ture's Actings, it may not be impro∣per, nor unuseful, to try if we can clear the way, by considering in what sense Nature may, or may not, be said to act at all, or to do this or that. For, for ought I can clearly discern, whatsoever is perform'd in the merely Material World, is really done by particular Bodies, acting Page  252 according to the Laws of Motion, Rest, &c. that are setled and main∣tain'd by God among Things Cor∣poreal. In which Hypothesis, Na∣ture seems rather a Notional Thing, than a true Physical, and distinct or separate, Efficient; such as would be, in case Aristotles Doctrine were true, one of those Intelligences, that he presum'd to be the Movers of the Coelestial Orbs. But Men do often∣times express themselves so very am∣biguously or intricately, when they say, that Nature does this and that, or, that She acts thus and thus; that 'tis scarce (if at all) possible to tran∣slate their Expressions into any Forms of Speech, adequate to the Original and yet Intelligible. For which Reason, though I have in the Section said something to the same purpose with what I am now to pro∣pose, yet the difficulty and weight of the Subject makes me think it may be expedient, if not necessary, in this place somewhat more fully to declare what Men do, or should, Page  253 mean, when they speak of Nature's acting, or of a Thing's being Natu∣rally done or performed, by giving their Words and Phrases sometimes one Interpretation, and sometimes another.

I. Sometimes when 'tis said, that Nature does this or that; 'tis less proper to say, that 'tis done by Na∣ture, than, that it is done according to Nature. So that, Nature is not here to be look'd on, as a distinct or separate Agent, but as a Rule, or ra∣ther a Systeme of Rules, according to which, those Agents, and the Bo∣dies they work on, are, by the Great Author of Things, determin'd to act and suffer.

Thus, when Water is rais'd in a Sucking-Pump, 'tis said, that Na∣ture makes the Water ascend after the Sucker, to prevent a Vacuum; though in reality this Ascension is made, not by such a separate Agent, as Nature is fancied to be, but by the Pressure of the Atmosphere, act∣ing upon the Water, according to Page  254 Statical Rules, or the Laws or the Aequilibrium of Liquors, settled by God among Fluids, whether Visible or Pneumatical. So, when the strict Peripateticks tell us, that all the Vi∣sible Coelestial Orbs, being by a Mo∣tion, that they call Violent, hurried about the Earth every four and twenty Hours from East to West; each of the Planetary Orbs has a Na∣tural Motion, that is quite contrary, tending from the West to the East: If they will speak congruously to their Master's Doctrine, they must use the term Natural in the sense our Observation gives It: Since Aristotle will have the Coelestial Orbs to be moved by external or separate Agents namely, Spiritual Intelligences. Our Observation may be also illustrated by other forms of Speech, that are in use; as when 'tis said, that the Law takes care of Infants and Luna∣ticks, that their indiscreet Actions or Omissions should not damnifie their Inheritances; and, that the Law Hangs Men for Murther, but Page  255 only Burns them in the Hand for some lesser Faults; of which Phra∣ses the Meaning is, that Magistrates and other Ministers of Justice, act∣ing according to the Law of the Land, do the things mention'd. And it tends yet more directly to our pur∣pose to take Notice, that 'tis common to ascribe to Art those things that are really perform'd by Artificers, according to the Prescriptions of the Art, as when 'tis said, that Geo∣metry (as the Name imports,) measures Lands, Astrology foretels Changes of Weather and other fu∣ture Accidents, Architecture makes Buildings, and Chymistry prepares Medicines.

II. Sometimes, when divers Things, such as the Growth of Trees, the Ma∣turations of Fruits, &c. are said to be perform'd by the course of Na∣ture, the Meaning ought to be, that such things will be brought to pass by their proper and immediate Cau∣ses, according to the wonted Man∣ner and Series or Order of their Act∣ings. Page  256 Thus 'tis said, that, by the course of Nature the Summer days are lon∣ger than those of the Winter: That, when the Moon is in Opposition to the Sun, (that is in the Full Moon,) that Part of Her Body which respects the Earth, is more Enlightned than at the New Moon, or at either of the Quadratures: And lastly, That when She enters more or less into the Conical Shadow of the Earth, She suffers a total or a partial Eclipse. And yet these and other Illustrious Phaenomena may be clearly explica∣ted without recourse to any such Being as the Aristotelians Nature, barely by considering the Situations and wonted Motions of the Sun or Earth, and the Moon, with refe∣rence to each other, and to the Ter∣restrial Globe.

And here it may not be amiss to take notice, that we may sometimes usefully distinguish between the Laws of Nature, more properly so call'd, and the Custom of Nature, or, if you please, between the Funda∣mental Page  257 and General Constitutions among Bodily Things, and the Mu∣nicipal Laws, (if I may so call them,) that belong to this or that particular sort of Bodies. As, to resume and somewhat vary our Instance drawn ftom Water; when this falls to the Ground, it may be said to do so by virtue of the Custom of Nature, it be∣ing almost constantly usual for that Liquor to tend downwards, and actually to fall down, if it be not externally hinder'd. But when Water ascends by Suction in a Pump, or other Instrument, that Motion, being contrary to that which is wonted, is made in virtue of a more Catholick Law of Nature, by which 'tis provided, that a greater Pressure, which in our case the Water suffers from the weight of the Incumbent Air, should surmount a lesser, such as is here the Gravity of the Water, that as∣cends in the Pump or Pipe.

The two foregoing Observations may be farther illustrated, by consi∣dering, Page  258 in what sense Men speak of things which they call Praeter-natu∣ral, or else Contrary to Nature. For divers, if not most, of their Expres∣sions of this kind, argue, that Na∣ture is in Them taken for the Parti∣cular and Subordinate, or, as it were, the Municipal Laws establish'd a∣mong Bodies. Thus Water, when 'tis intensly Hot, is said to be in a Praeter-natural State, because it is in One that 'tis not usual to It, and, Men think, doth not regularly belong to It; though the Fire or Sun, that thus agitates It and puts it into this State, is confess'd to be a Natural Agent, and is not thought to act o∣therwise than according to Nature. Thus, when a Spring, forcibly bent, is conceiv'd to be in a State contrary to its Nature, as is argued from its incessant Endeavour to remove the compressing Body; this State, whe∣ther Praeter-natural, or contrary to Nature, should be thought such, but in reference to the Springy Body. For otherwise 'tis as agreeable to the Page  259 grand Laws, that obtain among Things Corporeal, that such a Spring should remain bent by the degree of Force, that actually keeps it so, as that it should display itself in spight of a less, or incompetent, Degree of Force. And to omit the Six Non-natural Things, so much spoken of by Physitians, I must here take no∣tice, that though a Disease be gene∣rally reckon'd as a Praeter-natural Thing, or, as Others carry the No∣tion further, a State contrary to Na∣ture; yet, that must be understood only with reference to what custo∣marily happens to a human Body: Since excessively cold Winds, and immoderate Rains, and sultry Air, and other Usual Causes of Diseases, are as Natural Agents, and act as a∣greeably to the Catholick Laws of the Universe, when they produce Diseases, as when they condense the Clouds into Rain or Snow, blow Ships into their Harbour, make Rivers overflow, ripen Corn and Fruit, and do such other Things, Page  260 whether they be hurtful or benefici∣al to Men. And, upon a like Ac∣count, when Monsters are said to be Praeternatural Things; the Expres∣sion is to be understood with regard to that particular Species of Bodies, from which the Monster does enor∣mously deviate, though the Causes, that produce that Deviation, act but according to the general Laws, where∣by Things Corporeal are guided.

3. I doubt, whether I should add as a Third Remark, or as somewhat that is referrable to one or both of the Two foregoing, that some∣times, when 'tis said, that Nature per∣forms this or that Thing, we are not to conceive, that this Thing is an Ef∣fect really produc'd by other than by proper Physical Causes or Agents; but, in such Expressions, we are ra∣ther to look upon Nature, either as a Relative Thing, or as a Term im∣ployed to denote a Notional Thing, with reference whereunto Physical Causes are consider'd, as acting after some peculiar manner, whereby we Page  261 may distinguish their Operations from those that are produc'd by other Agents, or perhaps by the same, con∣sider'd as acting in another Way. This, I think, may be Illustrated by some other receiv'd Expressions, or Forms of Speech. As, when many of the Ancient, and some of the Mo∣dern, Philosophers, have said, that Things are brought Fatally to pass; they did not mean, that Fate was a distinct and separate Agent, but only, that the Physical Causes perform'd the Effect, as, in their Actings, they had a necessary Dependance upon one another, or an inviolable Connexion that link'd them together. And on the other side, when Men say, as they too frequently do, that Fortune or Chance,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (for Aristo∣tle and his Followers distinguish Them, a∣scribing to the for∣mer, what unexpe∣ctedly happens to Page  262 Deliberating or Designing, and to the later, what happens to Inanimate or Undesigning Beings,) has done this or that: Considerate Philosophers do not look upon Fortune or Chance as a true and distinct Physical Cause, but as a Notional Thing, that denotes, that the proper Agents produc'd the Effect without an Intention to do so, (as I have more fully declar'd in the Fourth Section.)

One may, for ought I know, with∣out Impertinence, refer to this our Third Observation, That many Things are wont to be attributed to Time; as, when we say, that Time ripens some Fruits that are too early gather'd; that it makes many things moulder and decay, (Tempus edax rerum;) that 'tis the Mother of Truth; that it produces great Alterations, both in the Affairs of Men, and in their Dispositions and their Bodies: To omit many other Vulgar Expres∣sions, which represent Time as the Cause of several Things, whereof really it is but an Adjunct or a Con∣comitant Page  263 of the Effects, (however Coincident with the successive Parts of Time, and so, some way, related to It) being indeed produc'd by other Agents, that are their true and pro∣per Efficients.

Sometimes likewise, when it is said, that Nature does this or that, we ought not to suppose, that the Effect is pro∣duc'd by a distinct or separate Being; but, on such Occasions, the Word Nature is to be concei••d to signifie a Complex or Convention of all the Es∣sential Properties, or necessary Quali∣ties, that belong to a Body of that Species whereof the real Agent is, or to more Bodies respectively, if more must concur to the Production of the Effect. To this sense we are to ex∣pound many of those Forms of Speech, that are wont to be imploy'd, when Physicians, or others, speak of what Nature does in reference to Diseases, or the Cure of them. And, to give a right sense to such Expres∣sions, I consider Nature, not as a Principal and Distinct Agent, but a Page  264 kind of Compounded Accident, that is (as it were) made up of, or results from, the divers Properties and Qua∣lities that belong to the true Agents. And, that the Name of a Compounded Accident may not be startled at, I shall, to explain what I mean by it, observe, that, as there are some Qua∣lities or Accidents, that, at least in comparison of others, may be call'd Simple, as Roundness, Streightness, Heat, Gravi••, &c. so there are others, that may be conceiv'd as Com∣pounded, or made up of several Qua∣lities united in one Subject: As, in divers Pigments, Greenness is made up of Blew and Yellow, exquisitely mix'd; Beauty is made up of fit Co∣lours, taking Features, just Stature, fine Shape, graceful Motions, and some other Accidents of the Human Body and its Parts. And, of this sort of Compounded Accidents, I am apt to think, there are far more, than, at the first mention of them, one would imagine. And to this kind of Be∣ings, the Expressions, that NaturistsPage  265 do on divers occasions imploy, in∣cline me to think, that, what is call'd Nature has a great Affinity, at least in reference to those Occasions. On which Supposition, one may con∣ceive, that, as when 'tis said, that Health makes a Man Eat well, Digest well, Sleep well, &c. Considering Men do not look upon Health as a Distinct and Separate Cause of these Effects; but, as what we lately call'd a Compounded Accident, that is, a Com∣plex of all the Real and Genuine Causes of good Appetite, Digestion, Sleep, &c. insomuch that Health is not so properly the Cause of these, as their Effect or Result: So in di∣vers Things that Nature is said to do, we need conceive no more, than that the Effects are produc'd by Physical Bodies and Qualities, or other proper Causes; which, when we consider as conspiring, or rather concurring, to produce the same Effect, by a Compendious Term we call Na∣ture.

Page  266 By these and the like ways of In∣terpretation, I thought fit to try, whether I could give an Intelligible and Commodious sense to divers of the Maxims or Sentences; and other Forms of Speech, that are im∣ploy'd by those, that, on many Occa∣sions, and in differing Expressions, say, That Nature does this or that, and acts thus and thus. But I confess, that to clear all those ambiguous and unskilfully fram'd Axioms and Phra∣ses, I found to be so intricate and difficult a Task, that, for want of Time, and perhaps too of Patience, I grew weary before I had prosecu∣ted it to the utmost. For which Rea∣son, though 'tis not improbable, that some Light may be given in this dark Subject, by what I have been now saying, (as immature and unfinish'd, as it is) especially if it be reflected on in Conjunction with what hath been formerly deliver'd (in the Fourth Section) about Nature, Ge∣neral and Particular; yet I shall, at present, make but very little use of Page  267 the Things that have been now said, in expounding the Axioms I am par∣ticularly to consider in this Seventh Section; hoping, that I may, by the help of other Mediums, dispatch my Work without them. And, to do it the more easily; I shall, without ty∣ing myself to the Order wherein they are marshall'd after the beginning of the Fourth Section, treat of them in the Order wherein I think their Ex∣plications may give most Light to one another, or in That, wherein the Papers that belong'd to them were retriev'd.

The first of the receiv'd Axioms I shall consider, is, that which pro∣nounces, that Omnis Natura est con∣servatrix sui; where, by the Word Nature, I suppose, they understand a Natural Body, for otherwise I know not what they meant: Now this Axiom easily admits of a twofold In∣terpretation. For, either it may sig∣nifie no more, than that no one Bo∣dy does tend to its own Destruction, that is, to destroy Itself: Or else, Page  268 that in every Body there is a Princi∣ple call'd Nature, upon whose Score, the Body is vigilant and industrious to preserve Its Natural State, and to defend Itself from the Violence and Attempts of all other Bodies that op∣pugn It, or endeavour to destroy or harm It.

In the former of these two Senses, the Axiom may be admitted, with∣out any prejudice to our Doctrine. For since according to our Hypothe∣sis, Inanimate Bodies can have nei∣ther Appetites, nor Hatreds, nor Designs, which are all of them Affe∣ctions, not of Bruit Matter but of Intelligent Beings; I, that think In∣animate Bodies have no Appetites at all, may easily grant, that they have not any to destroy themselves.

But, according to the other Sense of the propos'd Axiom, 'twill im∣port, that every Body has within it∣self a Principle, whereby it does de∣sire, and with all its Power endea∣vour, to compass its own Preserva∣tion: And both to do those things, Page  269 that tend thereunto, and oppose all endeavours, that outward Agents, or internal Distempers, may use in order to the Destruction of It.

And as this is the most Vulgar Sense of this Axiom, so 'tis chiefly in this Sense, that I am concern'd to Examine It.

I conceive then, that the most Wise Creator of Things did at first so frame the World, and settle such Laws of Motion between the Bo∣dies, that, as Parts, compose It; that by the Assistence of his General Con∣course, the Parts of the Universe, especially those that are the Greater and the more Noble, are lodg'd in such Places, and furnish'd with such Powers, that, by the help of his ge∣neral Providence, they may have their Beings continued and maintai∣ned, as long and as far forth, as the Course he thought fit to establish, a∣mongst Things Corporeal, requires.

Upon this Supposition, which is but a reasonable one, there will appear no necessity to have any recourse, Page  270 for the Preservation of particular Bo∣dies, to such an Internal Appetite and Inbred Knowledg in each of them, as our Adversaries presume. Since, by virtue of the Original Frame of Things, and established Laws of Motion, Bodies are necessa∣rily determined to act on such Occa∣sions, after the Manner they would do, if they had really an Aim at Self-preservation: As you see, that, if a blown Bladder be compress'd, and thereby the included Air be forc'd out of its wonted Dimensions and Figure, it will uncessantly en∣deavour to throw off, and repel, that which offers Violence unto It; and first displace that Part of the com∣pressing Body, that it finds Weak∣est; though in all this, there be no Appetite in the Air, (as I elswhere shew;) no more than in the Blad∣der, to that particular Figure, to maintain itself in which it seems so concern'd.

Thus, 'tis all one to a lump of Dough, whether you make it into a Page  271 round Loaf, or a long Rowl, or a flat Cake, or give it any other Form: For whatever Figure your Hands or your Instruments leave in It, that it will retain, without having any Ap∣petite to return to that, which it last had. So, 'tis all one to a piece of Wax, whether your Seal Imprints on It the Figure of a Wolf, or that of a Lamb. And, for Brevity's sake, to pass by the Instances that might be drawn from what happens to Wood, and Marble, and Metals, as they are differently shap'd by the Statuaries Art and Tools; I will on∣ly observe, that the Mariner's Nee∣dle, before it is excited, may have no particular Propensity to have respect to one Part of Heaven, more than another; but when it has been duly touch'd upon a Load-stone, the Flwer-de-Luce will be deter∣min'd to regard the North, and the opposite Extream the South. So that, if the Lilly be drawn aside, towards the East or towards the West, as soon as the Force, that de∣tain'd Page  272 it, is remov'd, it will return to its former Position, and never rest, 'till it regard the North. But, in spight of this seeming Affection of the Lilly to that Point of the Hori∣zon, yet, if the Needle be duly touch'd upon the contrary Pole of the same or another vigorous Load-stone, the Lilly will presently forget its former Inclination, and regard the Southern Part of Heaven; to which Position it will, as it were, spontaneously return, having been forc'd aside towards the East, or to∣wards the West, if it be again left to its Liberty. So that, though it formerly seem'd so much to affect one Point of Heaven, yet it may, in a trice, be brought to have a strong Propensity for the Opposite: The Lilly having, indeed, no Inclination for one Point of Heaven, more than another, but resting in that Position, to which it was last determin'd by the prevalence of Magnetical Efflu∣via. And this Example may serve to illustrate and confirm, what we Page  273 have been lately saying in General.

II. Another Received Axiom concerning Nature, is, That She never fails or misses of Her End, Natura sine suo nunquam excidit. This is a Proposition, whose Ambi∣guity makes it uneasie for me to de∣liver my Sense of It. But yet, to say somewhat, if by Nature we here understand that Being, that the School-men Style Natura Naturans, I grant, or rather assert, that Na∣ture never misseth its End. For the Omniscient and Almighty Author of Things, having once fram'd the Word, and establish'd in It the Laws of Motion, which he constant∣ly maintains, there can no Irregula∣rity, or Anomaly, happen, especial∣ly among the greater Mundane Bo∣dies, that he did not from the Begin∣ning foresee and think fit to permit, since they are but genuine Conse∣quences of that Order of Things, that, at the Beginning, he most wisely In∣stituted. As I have formerly de∣clar'd in Instances of the EclipsesPage  274 of the Sun and Moon; to which I could add Others, as the Inundations of Nilus, so necessary to the Health and Plenty of Aegypt. And though, on some special Occasions, this Institu∣ted Order, either seemingly or real∣ly, has been violated, as when the Sun is said to have Stood still in the days of Ioshua, and the Red Sea to have Divided itself to give free Pas∣sage to the Israelites, led by Moses; yet these things having been rarely done, for weighty Ends and Purpo∣ses, by the peculiar Intervention of the first Cause, either guiding or over-ruling the Propensities and Mo∣tions of Secundary Agents; it can∣not be said, that God is frustrated of his Ends by these design'd, though seeming, Exorbitances, by which he most Wisely and Effectually accom∣plishes Them. But, if by Nature be meant such a Subordinate Princi∣ple, as Men are wont to understand by that Name, I doubt the Axiom is in many Cases false; for though it it be true, as I have often said, that Page  275 the Material World is so constituted, that, for the most part, Things are brought to pass by Corporeal Agents, as regularly, as if they designed the Effects they produce, yet there are several Cases, wherein Things hap∣pen quite otherwise.

Thus 'tis confess'd, that when a Woman is with Child, the Aim of Nature is, to produce a Perfect or Genuine human Foetus; and yet we often see, that Nature widely mis∣sing Her Mark, instead of That, pro∣duces a Monster. And of This we have such frequent Instances, that whole Volumes have been publish'd, to recount and describe these gross and deform'd Aberrations of Nature. We many times see, (and have for∣merly noted,) that in Feavers, and other acute Diseases, She makes Critical Attempts upon improper Days, and in these unseasonable At∣tempts does not only, for the most part, miss of her End, which is to Cure the Patient, but often brings him to a far worse Condition, than Page  276 he was in, before She us'd those mis∣carrying Endeavours. To this may may be referr'd the Cheats Men put upon Nature; as when, by Grafting, the Sap, that Nature raises with In∣tention to feed the Fruit of a white Thorn. (for Instance,) is by the Gardener brought to nourish a Fruit of quite another Kind. So, when Maulsters make Barley to sprout, that Germination, whereby Nature intended to produce Stalks and Ears, is perverted to a far diffe∣ring Purpose, and She deluded. And now, to annex some Arguments ad Hominem, we are told, that Na∣ture makes every Agent aim at as∣simulating the Patient to itself, and that upon this account, the Fire aims at converting Wood, and the other Bodies it works on, into Fire: But, if this be so, Nature must often miss of Her End in Chymical Furnaces, where the Flame does never turn the Bricks, that it makes red-hot, into Fire; nor the Crucibles, nor the Cuples, nor yet the Gold and Page  277 Silver, that it throughly pervades, and brings to be of a Colour, the same, or very near the same, with its own, and keeps in a very intense Degree of Heat, and in actual Fu∣sion. And, even when Fire acts upon Wood, there is but one Part of it turn'd into Fire, since, to say no∣thing of the Soot and concreted Smoke, the Ashes remain fix'd and incombustible. And so, to add ano∣ther Instance ad Hominem, when we are told, that Nature makes Water ascend in Sucking-Pumps, ob fugam Vacui, She must needs (as I formerly noted to another Purpose,) miss of Her Aim, when the Pump exceeds Five and Thirty, or Forty, Foot in Height; for then, though you Pump never so much, and withdraw the Air from the upper Part of the Engine, the Water will not ascend to the Top; and consequently, will leave a Cavity, for whole replenish∣ing She was suppos'd to have rais'd that Liquor Two or Three and Thir∣ty Foot.

Page  278 III. Another of the celebrated Axioms concerning Nature, is, that She always acts by the shortest or most compendious Ways, Natura semper agit per vias brevissimas. But this Rule, as well as divers Others, does, I think, require to be some∣what explained and limited, before it be admitted. For, 'tis true, hat, as I have frequently occasion to in∣culcate, the Omniscient Author of the Universe has so Fram'd It, that most of the Parts of it act as regu∣larly in order to the Ends of It, as if they did it with Design. But, since Inanimate Bodies, at least, have no Knowledge, it cannot reaso∣nably be suppos'd, that they mode∣rate and vary their own Actions, ac∣cording to the Exigency of particu∣lar Circumstances, wherewith they must of necessity be unacquainted, and therefore it were strange, if there were not divers Occurrences, wherein they are determin'd to Act by Other, than the shortest, Ways that lead to particular Ends, if those Page  279 Other Ways be more congruous to the General Laws or Customs, esta∣blished among Things Corporeal. This I prove by Instances taken from Gravity itself, which is, perhaps, that Quality, which of all others is most probably referr'd to an inbred Power and Propension. For 'tis true, that if a Stone, or another heavy Body, be let fall into the free Air, 'twill take its Course directly towards the Centre of the Earth; and, if it meet with an inclining Plane, which puts it out of its Way, it will not for all that loss its Ten∣dency towards the Centre, but run along that Plane, by which Means its Tendency downwards is prosecu∣ted, though not, as before, in a perpendicular Line, yet in the shor∣test Way it is permitted to take. These obvious Phaenomena, I con∣fess, agree very well with the Vulgar Axiom, and possibly were the chief Things that induc'd Men to frame it. But now let us suppose, that a small Bullet of Marble or Steel, Page  280 after having for a pretty space fallen through the Air, lights upon a Pave∣ment of Marble, or some such hard Stone, that lies, as Floors are wont to do, Horizontal; in this Case, Ex∣perience shews, (as was formerly noted on another occasion) that the falling Stone will rebound to a consi∣derable Height, (in Proportion to That it fell from) and falling down again rebound the second time, tho' not so high as before; and, in short, rebound several times, before, by setling upon the Floor, it approaches, as near as is permitted it, to the Cen∣tre of heavy Bodies. Whereas, if Nature did in all Cases act by the most Compendious ways, this Bullet ought not to rebound at all; but, as soon as it found, by the hardness of the Floor, it could descend no lower, it ought to have rested there, as in the nearest place it could obtain to the Centre of the Earth, whence every Rebound must necessarily re∣move it to a greater Distance. And so likewise, when a Pendulum, or Page  281 Bullet fasten'd to the end of a String, is so held, that the String is (praeter propter) Perpendicular to the Hori∣zon, if it be thence let fall, it will not stop at the Perpendicular Line, or Line of Direction, which is suppos'd to reach from the Nail or other Prop, through the Centre of the Bullet, to the Centre of the Earth, but will pass beyond it, and vibrate or swing to and fro, 'till it have pass'd again and again the Line of Direction, for a great while, before the Bullet come to settle in it, though, whenever it removes out of it, towards either hand, it must really ascend or move upwards, and so go further off from the Centre of the Earth, to which, 'tis pretended, its innate Pro∣pensity determines it to approach, as much and as soon as is possible. But this Instance having been formerly touch'd upon, I shall now observe, to the same purpose, that having taken a good Sea-Compass, [and the Ex∣periment succeeded with a naked, yet nicely pois'd, Needle] and suf∣fer'd Page  282 the Magnetick Needle to rest North and South; if I held the pro∣per Pole of a good Loadstone at a convenient Distance, on the right or left hand of the Lilly, this would be drawn aside from the North Point towards the East or West, as I pleas'd; and then the Loadstone be∣ing remov'd quite away, the Lilly of the Needle would indeed return Northward, but would not stop in the Magnetick Meridian, but pass on divers Degrees beyond it, and would thence return without stopping at the Meridian Line: And so would, by its Vibrations, describe many Arches still shorter and shorter, 'till at length it came to settle on it, and recover that Position, which, if Na∣ture always acted by the most Com∣pendious Ways, it should have rest∣ed at the first time, that by the re∣moval of the Loadstone it had re∣gain'd it. But the Truth is, that, at least, Inanimate Bodies, acting with∣out knowledg or design of their own, cannot stop or moderate their own Page  283 Action, but must necessarily move as they are determin'd by the Catholick Laws of Motion, according to which, in one Case, the Impetus, that the Bullet acquires by falling, is more powerful to carry it on beyond the Line of Direction, than the Action of the Causes of Gravity is to stop it, assoon as it comes to the nearest place they can give it to the Centre of the Earth. And something like this happens in Levity, as well as Gravity; for if you take an oblong and conveniently shap'd piece of light Wood, as Firr or Deal, and, having thrust or sunk it to the Bot∣tom of a somewhat deep stagnant Water, give it Liberty to ascend, it will not only regain the Surface of the Water, where, by the Laws of Gravity, it ought to rest, and did rest before it was forc'd down, but it will pass far beyond that Surface, and in part as it were shoot itself up into the Incumbent Air, and then fall down again, and rise a second time, and perhaps much oftner, and fall Page  284 again, before it come to settle in its due place, in which it is in an aequili∣brium with the Water, that endea∣vours to press it upwards.

Another of the Sentences that are generally receiv'd concerning Na∣ture, is, that She always does what is best to be done: Na∣tura semper quod opti∣mum est facit.* But of this it will not be safe for me to deliver my Opinion, 'till I have endeavour'd to remove the ambigui∣ty of the Words; for they easily ad∣mit of two different Senses, since they may signifie, that Nature in the whole Universe does always that which is best, for the conservation of It in its present State; or, that in refe∣rence to each Body in particular, Na∣ture does still what is best, that is, what most conduces to the Preserva∣tion and Welfare of that Body. If the first of these Senses be pitch'd up∣on, the Axiom will be less liable to Page  285 Exception. But then, I fear, it will be difficult to be positively made out, by such Instances as will prove, that Nature acts otherwise than ne∣cessarily according to Laws Mecha∣nical; and therefore, 'till I meet with such Proofs, I shall proceed to the other Sense that may be given our Axiom, which, though it be the most usual, yet, I confess, I cannot admit, without it be both explain'd and limited. I readily grant, that the All-wise Author of Things Cor∣poreal has so fram'd the World, that most things happen in it, as if the particular Bodies that compose it, were watchful both for their Own Welfare, and That of the Uni∣verse. But, I think, withall, that particular Bodies, at least Those that are Inanimate, acting without either Knowledg or Design, their Actions do not tend to what is best for them in their private Capacities, any fur∣ther than will comport with the ge∣neral Laws of Motion, and the im∣portant Customs establish'd among Page  286 Things Corporeal: So that to con∣form to these, divers Things are done that are neither the Best, nor so much as Good, in reference to the welfare of particular Bodies.

These Sentiments I am induc'd to take up, not only by the more Spe∣culative Considerations, that have been formerly discours'd of and therefore shall not here be repeated, but by daily Observations and obvi∣ous Experience.

We see oftentimes, that Fruit-Trees, especially when they grow old, will for one Season be so over∣charg'd with Fruit, that soon after they decay and die; and even whilst they flourish, the excessive Weight of the too numerous Fruits does not seldom break off the Branches they grow upon, and thereby both hinders the Maturity of the Fruit, and ha∣stens the Death of the Tree: Where∣as, this fatal Profuseness would have been prevented, if a wise Nature, harbour'd in the Plant, did, as is pre∣sum'd, solicitously intend its Wel∣fare.

Page  287 We see also in divers Diseases, and in the unseasonable and hurtful Cri∣ses's of Feavers, how far, what Men call, Nature oftentimes is, from doing that, which is best for the Sick Man's Preservation. And indeed, (as hath been formerly noted on another Oc∣sicaon,) in many Diseases, as Bleed∣ings, Convulsions, Cholera's, &c. a great Part of the Physicians Work is, to appease the Fury, and to cor∣rect the Errors, of Nature, which being, as 'twere, transported with a blind and impetuous Passion un∣seasonably produces those dangerous Disorders in the Body, that, if She were wise and watchful of its Wel∣fare, She would have been as care∣ful to prevent, as the Physicians to remedy Them.

Add to all this, that, if Nature be so Provident and Watchful for the Good of Men and other Animals, and of that Part of the World, wherein they live; How comes it to pass, that from time to time, She destroys such Multitudes of Men and Beasts, Page  288 by Earthquakes, Pestilences, Famine, and other Anomalies? And, How comes it so often to pass in Teem∣ing Women, that, perhaps by a Fright, or a longing Desire, or the bare Sight of any outward Object, Nature suffers Herself to be so dis∣ordered, and is brought to forget Her Plastick Skill so much, as, instead of well-form'd Infants, to produce hideous Monsters, and those often∣times so mishapen and ill-contriv'd, that not only Themselves are unfit to live one Day, or perhaps one Hour, but cannot come into the World without killing the Mother that bare Them. These and such other Anomalies, though (as I have elsewhere shewn,) they be not re∣pugnant to the Catholick Laws of the Universe, and may be accoun∣ted for in the Doctrine of God's Ge∣neral Providence; yet they would seem to be Aberrations, incongruous enough to the Idaea the Schools give of Nature, as of a Being, that, accor∣ding to the Axiom hitherto consi∣der'd, Page  289does always that which is best. But 'tis time that we pass from that, to the Examen of another.

Though I have had occasion to treat of Vacuum in the Fifth Section, yet I must also say something about it in This, because I there consider'd it, but as it is imploy'd by the Peri∣pateticks and others, to shew the Ne∣cessity of the Principle they call Na∣ture. But now I am to treat of it, not so much as an Argument to be con∣futed, as on the score of its belong∣ing to a (very plausible) Axiom to be consider'd; although I fear, that, by reason of the Identity of the Sub∣iect, (though consider'd in the Fifth Sect. and here, to differing purposes) I shall scarce avoid saying something or other, co-incident with what has been said already.

V. The Word Vacuum being ambi∣guous, and us'd in differing Senses, I think it requisite, before I declare my Opinion about the generally receiv'd Axiom of the Schools, that Natura Vacuum horret, (or, as some express Page  290 it, abhorret à Vacuo) to premise the chief Acceptions in which, I have observ'd, the Term Vacuum to be made use of. For it has sometimes a Vulgar, and sometimes a Philoso∣phical or strict, Signification. In com∣mon Speech, To be empty, usually de∣notes, not to be devoid of all Body whatsoever, but of that Body that Men suppose should be in the Thing spoken of, or of That which it was fram'd or design'd to contain; as when Men say that a Purse is empty, if there be no Mony in it; or a Blad∣der, when the Air is squeez'd out; or a Barrel, when either it has not been yet fill'd with Liquor, or has had the Wine or other Drink drawn out of it. The Word Vacuum is also taken in another sense by Philoso∣phers that speak strictly, when they mean by it, a Space within the World, (for I here meddle not with the Ima∣ginary Spaces of the School-men, be∣yond the bounds of the Universe,) wherein there is not contain'd any Body whatsoever. This Distinction Page  291 being premis'd, I shall inform you, that taking the Word Vacuum in the strict Sense, though many, and, a∣mong them, some of my best Friends, press'd me to a Declaration of my Sense about that famous Controver∣sie, An detur Vacuum, because, they were pleas'd to suppose, I had made more Tryals than others had done about it, yet I have refus'd to declare myself, either Pro or Contra, in that Dispute. Since the decision of the Question seems to depend upon the stating of the true Notion of a Body, whose Essence the Cartesians affirm, and most other Philosophers deny, to consist only in Extension, according to the three Dimensions, Length, Breadth, and Depth or Thickness: For, if Mr. Des Cartes's Notion be admitted, 'twill be irrational to ad∣mit a Vacuum, since any Space, that is pretended to be empty, must be ac∣knowledg'd to have the three Di∣mensions, and consequently all that is necessary to Essentiate a Body. And all the Experiments, that can be Page  292 made with Quicksilver, or the Ma∣china Boyliana (as they call it,) or other Instruments contriv'd for the like Uses, will be eluded by the Car∣tesians, who will say, that the space deserted by the Mercury, or the Air, is not empty, since it has Length, Breadth, and Depth, but is fill'd by their Materia Subtilis, that is fine enough to get freely in and out of the Pores of the Glasses, as the Efflu∣via of the Loadstone can do. But though, for these and other Reasons, I still forbear (as I lately said I have formerly done,) to declare either way in the Controversie about Vacu∣um, yet I shall not stick to acknow∣ledg, that I do not acquiesce in the Axiom of the Schools, that Nature abhors a Vacuum.

For, First, I consider, that the chief, if not the only, Reason, that moves the Generality of Philosophers to believe, that Nature abhors a Va∣crum, is, that in some Cases, as the Ascension of Water in Sucking-Pumps, &c. they observe, that there Page  293 is an unusual endeavour, and perhaps a forcible Motion in Water and other Bodies, to oppose a Vacuum. But I, that see nothing to be manifest here, save that some Bodies, not devoid of Weight, have a Motion upwards, or otherwise differing from their usual Motions, (as in Determination, Swiftness, &c.) am not apt, without absolute necessity, to ascribe to In∣animate and Senseless Bodies, such as Water, Air, &c. the Appetites and Hatreds that belong to Rational, or or least to Sensitive, Beings; and therefore, think it a sufficient Reason, to decline imploying such improper Causes, if without them, the Motions, wont to be ascrib'd to Them, can be accounted for.

2. If the Cartesian Notion of the Essence of a Body be admitted by us, as 'tis by many Modern Philosophers and Mathematicians, it can scarce be deny'd, but that Nature does not pro∣duce these oftentimes Great, and oft∣ner Irregular, Efforts to hinder a Va∣cuum; since, it being impossible there Page  294 should be any, 'twere a fond thing to suppose that Nature, who is repre∣sented to us as a most wise Agent, should bestir Herself, and do Extra∣vagant Feats, to prevent an impossible Mischief.

3. If the Atomical Hypothesis be admitted, it must be granted, not only that Nature does not abhor a Va∣cuum, but that a great Part of the Things She does require it, since they are brought to pass by Local Motion; and yet there are very ma∣ny Cases, wherein, according to these Philosophers, the necessary Motions of Bodies cannot be perform'd, unless the Corpuscles, that lie in their way, have little empty Spaces to retire, or be impell'd into, when the Body, that pushes them, endea∣vours to displace them. So that the Effatum, That Nature abhors a Vacu∣um, agrees with neither of the two great Sects of the Modern Philoso∣phers.

But, without insisting on the Au∣thority of either of them, I consider, Page  295 that, for ought appears by the Phae∣nomena imploy'd to demonstrate Na∣ture's abhorrency of a Vacuum, it may be rational enough to think, either that Nature does not abhor a Vacu∣um, even when She seems solicitous to hinder It; or, that She has but a very moderate Hatred of It, in that Sense wherein the Vulgar Philoso∣phers take the Word Vacuum.

For if we consider, that, in almost all visible Bodies here below, and even in the Atmospherical Air Itself, there is more or less of Gravity, or Tendency towards the Centre of our Terraqueous Globe, we may per∣ceive, that there is no need that Na∣ture should disquiet Herself, and act irregularly, to hinder a Vacuum: Since, without Her abhorrence of It, it may be prevented or replenish'd, by Her affecting to place all heavy Bodies as near the Centre of the Earth, as heavier than they will per∣mit. And even without any Design of Hers, not to say without Her Ex∣istence, a Vacuity will be as much Page  296 oppos'd, as we really find it to be, by the Gravity of most, if not of all, Bodies here below, and the Conflux∣ibility of Liquors, and other Fluids. For, by vertue of their Gravity, and the Minuteness of their Parts, they will be determin'd to insinuate them∣selves into and fill all the Spaces, that they do not find already pos∣sess'd by other Bodies, either more ponderous in Specie than themselves, or, by reason of their firmness of Stru∣cture, capable of resisting or hindring their Descent. Agreeably to which Notion we may observe, that, where there is no danger of a Vacuum, Bo∣dies may move, as they do, when they are said to endeavour its Preven∣tion. As, if you would thrust your Fist deep into a Pail full of Sand, and afterwards draw it out again; there will need nothing but the Gravity of the Sand to make it fill up the grea∣test Part of the space deserted by your Fist. And if the Pail be reple∣nish'd, instead of Sand, with an Ag∣gregate of Corpuscles more Minute Page  297 and Glib than the Grains of Sand, as for Instance, with Quicksilver or with Water, then the Space, deserted by your Hand, will be, at least as to Sense, compleatly fill'd up by the Corpuscles of the Liquor, which, by their Gravity, Minuteness, and the Fluidity of the Body, they compose, are determin'd to replenish the Space deserted by the Hand, that was plung'd into either of those Liquors. And I elsewhere shew, that, if you take a Pipe of Glass, whose Cavity is too narrow to let Water and Quick-silver pass by one another in It; if, I say, you take such a Pipe, and having (by the help of Suction,) lodg'd a small Cylinder of Mercury of about half an Inch long in the lower Part of It, you carefully stop the upper Orifice with the Pulp of your Fin∣ger, the Quick-silver will remain suspended in the Pipe. And, if then you thrust the Quick-silver di∣rectly downwards into a somewhat deep Glass, or other Vessel, full of Water, till the Quick-silver be de∣press'd Page  298 about a Foot or more beneath the Surface of the Water; if then you take off your Finger from the Orifice of the Pipe which it stopt before, you shall immediately see the Quick-silver ascend swiftly five or six Inches, and remain suspended at this new Station. Which Expe∣riment seems manifestly to prove, what I did long ago devise and do now alledge it for: Since here we have a sudden Ascent of so heavy a Body as is Quick-silver, and a Sus∣pension of It in the Glass, not pro∣duc'd to prevent or fill a Vacuum, for the Pipe was open at both Ends, the Phaenomena being but genuine Con∣sequences of the Laws of the Aequili∣brium of Liquors, as I elsewhere clearly and particularly declare.

When I consider, how great a Power the School-Philosophers as∣cribe to Nature, I am the less in∣clin'd to think, that Her abhorrence of a Vacuum is so great, as they be∣liev'd. For I have shewn in the Fifth Section, that Her aversion Page  299 from It, and Her watchfulness a∣gainst It, are not so great, but that, in the sense of the Peripateticks, She can quietly enough admit it in some Cases, where, with a very small En∣deavour, She might prevent or re∣plenish It, as I have particularly manifested in the fore-cited Section. I just now mention'd a Vacuum in the Sense of the Peripateticks, because when the Torricellian Experiment is made, though it cannot, perhaps, be cogently prov'd, either against the Cartesians, or some other Plenists, that, in the upper Part of the Tube, deserted by the Quick-Silver, there is a Vacuum in the strict Philosophi∣cal Sense of the Word; yet, as the Peripateticks declare their Sense, by divers of their Reasonings against a Vacuum, mention'd in that Section, 'twill to a heedful Peruser appear very hard for them to shew, that there is not One in that Tube. And, as by the School-mens Way of Ar∣guing Nature's hatred of a Vacuum, from the Suspension of Water and o∣ther Page  300 Liquors in Tubes and Conical Watring-Pots, it appears, that they thought that any Space here below, deserted by a visible Body, not suc∣ceeded by another Visible Body, or at least by common Air, may be re∣puted Empty. So, by the Space de∣serted by the Quick-silver at the top of the Pipe of a Baroscope Thirty One Inches long, One may be Invi∣ted to doubt, Whether a Vacuum ought to be thought so formidable a Thing to Nature, as they imagine She does, and ought to, think It? For what Mischief do we see insue to the Universe upon the producing or continuance of such a Vacuum, though the deserted Space were ma∣ny time greater than an Inch, and continued many Years, as has di∣vers times happen'd in the taller sort of Mercurial Baroscopes? And those Peripateticks that tell us, that, if there were a Vacuum, the Influences of the Coelestial Bodies, that are ab∣solutely necessary to the Preserva∣tion of Sublunary Ones, would be Page  301 Intercepted, since Motion cannot be made in Vacuo, would do well to prove, not suppose, such a Necessity; and also to consider, that in our Case the top of the Quick-silver, to which the Vacuum reaches, does u∣sually appear Protuberant; which shews, that the Beams of Light (which they think of great Affinity to Influences, if not the Vehicle,) are able to traverse that Vacuum, be∣ing in spight of It reflected from the Mercury to the Beholder's Eye. And in such a Vacuum, as to common Air, I have try'd that a Load-stone will emit his Effluvia and move Iron or Steel plac'd in It. In short, it is not Evident, that here below Nature so much strains Herself to hinder or fill up a Vacuum, as to manifest an Abhorrence of It. And, without much peculiar Solicitude, a Vacuum, at least a Philosophical One, is as much provided against, as the Wel∣fare of the Universe requires, by Gravity and Confluxibility of the Liquors and other Bodies, that Page  302 are placed here below. And as for those that tell us, that Nature abhors and prevents a Vacuum, as well in the Upper Part of the World as the Lower, I think we need not trouble ourselves to answer the Alle∣gation till they have prov'd It. Which I think will be very hard for Them to do; not to mention, that a Cartesian may tell Them, that 'twere as need∣less for Nature to oppose a Vacuum in Heaven as in Earth, since the Production of It is every where alike Impossible.

VI. I come now to the celebrated Saying, that Natura est Morborum Medicatrix, taken from Hippocrat.* who expresses it in the plu∣ral, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. And because this Axiom is generally Receiv'd among Physicians and Phi∣losophers, and seems to be one of the principal Things, that has made them introduce such a Being as they call Nature, I think it may be Time well employ'd, to consider some∣what Page  303 attentively, in what Sense, and how far, this famous Sentence, may, or should not, be admitted.

First then, I conceive it may be taken in a Negative Sense, so as to import, that Diseases cannot be cur'd in such Persons, in whom the Aggregate of the Vital Powers or Faculties of the Body is so far weaken'd or deprav'd, as to be ut∣terly unable to perform the Functi∣ons necessary to Life, or at least to actuate and assist the Remedies em∣ploy'd by the Physitian to preserve or recover the Patient. This I take to be the Meaning of such usual Phra∣ses, as, that Physick comes too late, and, that Nature is quite spent. And in this Sense I readily acknowledge the Axiom to be true. For, where the Engine has some necessary Parts, whether Fluid or Solid, so far de∣prav'd or weakn'd, as to render it altogether unable to co-operate with the Medicine, it cannot be rationally expected, that the Administration of that Medicine should be effectual. Page  304 But in this, I presume, there is no Difficulty worthy to detain us. I proceed therefore to the positive Sense, whereof our Axiom is capa∣ble, and wherein it is the most usu∣ally imploy'd. For Men are wont to believe, that there resides, in the Body of a sick Person, a certain Pro∣vident or Watchful Being, that still industriously employs itself, by its own Endeavours, as well as by any occasional Assistence that may be afforded it by the Phy∣sitian, to rectifie whatever is amiss, and restore the distemper'd Body to its Pristine state of Health. What I think of this Doctrine, I shall leave you to gather from the following Discourse.

I conceive then in the first Place, that the Wise and Beneficent Ma∣ker of the World and of Man, inten∣ding that Men should, for the most part, live a considerable number of Years, in a Condition to act their Parts on the Mundane Stage; He was pleas'd to frame those Living Page  305Automata, Human Bodies, that, with the ordinary succours of Reason, making use of their exquisite Stru∣cture fitted for Durableness, and of the friendly, though undesign'd▪ As∣sistence of the various Bodies among which they are plac'd, they may in many Cases recover a State of Health, if they chance to be put out of it by lesser Accidents than those, that God, in compliance with the great Ends of his General Pro∣vidence, did not think fit to secure them from, or enable them to sur∣mount. Many things therefore, that are commonly ascrib'd to Nature, I think, may be better ascrib'd to the Mechanisms of the Macrocosm and Microcosm, I mean, of the Universe and the Human Body. And, to il∣lustrate a little my Meaning by a gross Example or two, I desire you will consider with me a Sea-compass, wherein the excited Magnetick Nee∣dle, and the Box that holds It, are duly pois'd by Means of a competent number of opposite Pivats: For Page  306though, if you give this Instrument a somewhat rude Shake, you will make the Box totter, and encline this way and that way, and at the same time drive the Points of the Magnetick Needle many Degrees to the East, or to the West; yet, the Construction of the Instrument and the Magnetism of one main Part of It, are such, that, if the Force, that first put it into a disorderly Motion, cease from acting on It, the Box will, after some Reciprocations, return to its Horizontal Situation; and the Needle, that was forc'd to deviate, will, after a few irregular▪ Motions to this and to that side of the Magne∣tical Meridian, settle itself again in a Position, wherein the Flower-de-Luce stedfastly regards the North. And yet this recovery to its former State is effected in a factitious Body, by the bare Mechanism of the Instru∣ment itself, and of the Earth, and other Bodies, within whose Sphere of Activity it is plac'd. But, because Many have not seen a Mariner's Com∣pass, Page  307 I will add a less apposite but more obvious and familiar Example: For, if when an empty Ballance is du∣ly counterpois'd, you shall, by your Breath or Hand, depress one of the Scales, and thereby, for the time, destroy the Aequilibrium; yet, when the Force is once remov'd, the de∣press'd Ballance will presently as∣cend, and the Opposite will descend; and, after a few Motions up and down, they will both of them, of their own accord, settle again in an exact Aequilibrium, without the help of any such Provident Internal Prin∣ciple, 〈◊〉Nature: The absence of whose Agency may be confirm'd by This, that the depress'd Scale does not at first stop at the Horizontal Line, beneath which it was first de∣press'd, (as it ought to do, if it were rais'd by an Intelligent Being,) but rises far above It. If it be here ob∣jected, that these Examples are drawn from Factitious, not from merely Physical, Bodies; I shall re∣turn this brief Answer, and desire Page  308 that it be apply'd not only to the Two freshly mention'd Examples, but to All of the like Kind, that may be met with in this whole Treatise. I say then, in short, that divers of the Instances, we are speaking of, are intended but for Illustrations; and that Others may be useful Instan∣ces, if they should be no more than Analogous Ones: Since Examples, drawn from Artificial Bodies and Things, may have both the Advan∣tage of being more clearly conceiv'd by ordinary Understandings, and That of being less obnox••s to be question'd in that Pa••••ar in which the Comparison or Corres∣pondence consists. And I the less scruple to employ such Examples, because Aristotle himself and some of his more learned Followers make use of divers Comparisons drawn from the Figures and other Acci∣dents of Artificial Things, to give an account of Physical Subjects, and even of the Generation, Corruption and Forms of Natural Bodies. This Page  309 Advertisement premis'd, I persue this Discourse, it interrupted, by ad∣ding, Thus in a human Body, the Causes that disorder it are often∣times but Transient, whereas the Structure of the Body itself and the Causes that conduce to the Preserva∣tion of that Structure, are more sta∣ble and durable, and on that account may enable the Engine to out-last many Things, that are Hostile to It. This may be somewhat illustrated, by considering, that Sleep, though it be not properly a Disease, easily becomes One, when it frequently transgresseth its due Bounds; and even whilst it keeps within them, it does, for the time it lasts, hinder the exercise of many Functions of the Body, more than several Diseases do; and yet, according to the com∣mon course of Things, the Matter that lock't up the Senses being spent, the Man of himself recovers that sen∣sible and active State, on whose score he is said to be awake. But to come somewhat closer to the Point; We see, that many Persons, who Page  310 get a Praeter natural Thirst with over-much Drinking, get rid of it again in a few days by forbearing such Excesses; and many, that by too plentiful Meals are brought to a want of Appetite, Recover, as it were, of course, by a spare Di∣et, in a few days; the renewed Ferment, or Menstruum of the Sto∣mach, being able in that time to concoct by little and little, or expell the indigested Aliments or peccant Humours that offended the Stomach, and caus'd the want of Appetite.

And here I desire to have it taken Notice of, as a thing that may be considerable to our present Purpose, that I look not on a Human Body, as on a Watch or a Hand-mill, i. e. as a Machine made up only of Solid, or at least Consistent, Parts; but as an Hydraulical, or rather Hydraulo∣pneumatical Engine, that consists not only of Solid and Stable Parts, but of Fuids, and those in Organical Mo∣tion. And not only so, but I consider, that these Fluids, the Liquors and Spirits, are in a living Man so consti∣tuted, Page  311 that in eertain Circumstances the Liquors are dispos'd to be put in∣to a Fermentation or Commotion, whereby either some Depuration of Themselves, or some Discharge of hurtful Matter by Excretion, or both, are produc'd, so as, for the most part, to conduce to the Recovery or Welfare of the Body.

And, that even Consistent Parts may be so fram'd, and so connected with other Parts, as to act, as it were, pro re nata, varying their Mo∣tions, as differing Circumstances make it convenient they should be varied, I purposely shew in another Paper. To this I might altogether refer you; but, in regard the Thing is a Paradox, and lays a Foundation for Another not Inferior to itself, I shall here borrow thence one Instance, not mention'd that I know of by Others to this purpose, that may both declare my Meaning, and con∣firm the Thing itself: I consider then, that what is call'd the Pupil or Apple of the Eye, is not (as 'tis known,) Page  312 a substantial Part of the Organ, but only a round Hole or Window made in the Vvea, at which the Modify'd Beams of Light enter, to fall upon the Chrystalline Humour, and thence be refracted to the bottom of the Eye, or seat of Vision, to make there an Impression, that is usually a kind of Picture (for 'tis not always a neat One,) of the Object. Now the Wise and All-foreseeing Author of Things has so admirably contriv'd this Instrument of Sight, that, as it happens to be employ'd in differing Lights, so the Bigness or Area of the Pupil varies. For when the Light is vivid, and would be too gteat if all the Beams were let in, that might enter at an Aperture as large as the usual, the Curtain is every way drawn towards the Middle, and thereby the round Win∣dow made Narrower. And, on the other side, when the Light is but faint, and the Object but dimly illustrated, there being more Light requisite to make a sufficient Impres∣sion Page  313 at the bottom of the Eye, the Curtain is every way drawn open, to let in more Light: And when the Eye is well constituted, this is regu∣larly done, according as the Organ has need of more or less Light. Of this, some late Masters of Opticks have well Treated, and I have spoken about it more fully in another place. And the truth of the Observation you may easily find, if you look upon the Eyes of a Boy or a Girl, (for in young Persons the change is the most notable) when the Eyes are turn'd from looking on dark Objects to∣wards bright or more illuminated Ones. And I have found the Varia∣tion yet more conspicuous in the Eyes of a young Cat, as I elsewhere particularly relate. So that, refer∣ring you to the Writings already pointed at, I shall only add in this place, that these various Motions in the Eye are produc'd by mere Mecha∣nism, without the Direction, or so much as Knowledg or Perception, of the Rational Soul. And, upon the Page  314 like Account it is, that other Moti∣ons, in several Parts belonging to the Eye, are produc'd, as 'twere spontaneously, as occasion requires. And so, as to the Fluid Parts of the Body, we find, that, according to the Institution of the Author of Things, when healthy Women are of a fit Age, there is a Monthly Fermentati∣on or Commotion made in the Blood, which usually produces a kind of Se∣paration, and then an Excretion, ad∣vantagious to the Body.

And, that you may the better make out what I meant by the Dis∣position, or Tendency, of the Parts, to return to their former Constituti∣on, I shall desire you to consider, with me, a thin and narrow Plate of good Steel, or refined Silver; for, if one End of it be forcibly drawn aside, the changed Texture of the Parts be∣comes such, or the Congruity and Incongruity of the Pores, in refe∣rence to the ambient Aether, that en∣deavours to permeate them, is made such, that, as soon as the Force that Page  315 bent it is remov'd, the Plate does, as it were, spontaneously return to its former Position. And yet here is no internal watchful Principle, that is solicitous to make this Restitution, for otherwise it is indifferent to the Plate what Figure it settle in; for, if the Springy Body stand long Bent, then, as if Nature forgot her Office, or were unable to execute it, though the Force that held the Spring bent be remov'd, it will not endeavour to regain its former streightness: And, I have tryed, in a Silver Plate, that, if you only heat it red-hot, and let it cool, if you put it into a crooked Po∣sture, it will retain it; but barely with two or three stroaks of a Ham∣mer, which can only make an invi∣sible change of Texture, the Plate will acquire a manifest and conside∣rable Springyness, which you may again deprive it of, by sufficiently heating it in the Fire, without so much as melting it.

But, to return to the Discourse, for∣merly begun, about Distempers wont Page  316 to be harmless by being Transient, we may observe, that the third or fourth day after Women are brought to Bed, there is commonly a kind of Feaver produc'd, upon the plentiful resort of the Milk to the Breasts; for which cause, this Distemper is, by many, call'd the Feaver of Milk. And this is wont, in a short time, to pass away of itself, as depending upon Causes far less durable, than the Oeconomy of the Womans Body. And, if it be objected, that these are not Diseases, because they happen ac∣cording to the Instituted Course of Nature; I will not now dispute the validity of the Consequence, though I could represent, that the Labour of Teeming Woemen, and the breeding of Teeth in Children, happen as much according to the Institution of Nature, and yet are usually very painful, and oftentimes dangerous: But I will rather answer, that, if the troublesome Accidents, I have al∣ledg'd, cannot serve to prove, they may at least to illustrate, what I aim Page  317 at. And I shall proceed to take no∣tice of a Distemper, that Physicians generally reckon among Diseases, I mean, the flowing of Blood at the Haemorrhoidal Veins: For, though of∣tentimes this Flux of Blood is exces∣sive, and so becomes very dangerous, and therefore must be check'd by the Physician, (which is no great Argu∣ment, that a Being, wise and watch∣ful, manages this Evacuation,) yet frequently, if not for the most part, the Constitution of the Body is such, that the superfluous or vitiated Blood goes off, before it has been able to do any considerable mischief, or perhaps any at all, to the Body. And so we see, that many Coughs, and Hoarsenesses, and Coryzas are said to be cur'd, that is, do cease to trouble Men, though no Medicine be us'd against them, the Structure of the Body being durable enough to out-last the Peccant Matters, or the Operation of those other Causes, that pro-duce these Distempers.

Page  318 It is a known thing, that most Persons, the first time they go to Sea, especially if the Weather be any thing Stormy, are, by the unwonted Agitations, which those of the Ship produce in them, (assisted perhaps by the Sea-Air, and Smells of the Ship) cast into that Disease, that, from the Cause of it, is call'd the Sea-sickness, which is sometimes dan∣gerous, and always very trouble∣some, usually causing a loss of Appe∣tite, and almost continual Faintness, a pain in the Head, and almost constant Nauseousness, accompany'd with frequent, and oftentimes violent, Vomitings; which Symptoms make many complain, that, for the time, they never felt so troublesome a Sick∣ness; and yet usually, after not ma∣ny days, this Distemper, by degrees, is master'd by the Powers of the Bo∣dy, tending still to persevere in their orderly and friendly Course, and suppressing the adventitious Motions that oppose it, and the sick Person recovers without other help. And Page  319 so, though Persons unaccustom'd to the Sea, whether they be sick or no, are, by the inconvenient Motions of the Ship, usually brought to a kind of habitual Giddiness, which dispo∣ses them to reel and falter, when they walk upon firm ground: Yet, when they come a Shore, they are wont in no long time to be freed from this uneasie Giddiness, without the help of any Medicine: The usual and re∣gular Motions of the Parts of the Bo∣dy obliterating by degrees in a few days (I us'd to be free from it with∣in some hours,) that adventitious Impression, that caus'd the Discom∣posure. To the same purpose, we may take notice of that which happens to many Persons, who riding back∣wards in a Coach are not only much distemper'd in their Heads, but are made very sick in their Stomachs, and forced to Vomit, as violently and frequently, as if they had taken an Emetick: And yet all this Disor∣der is wont quickly to cease, when the Patient leaves the Coach, with∣out Page  320 the continuance of whose Moti∣on, (that continues a preposterous One in some Parts of the Patient) the Distemper will quickly yield to the more ordinary and regular Motions of the Blood, and other Fluids of the Body. So, when in a Coach, or elsewhere, a Man happens to be brought to Faintness, or cast into a Swoon, by the closeness of the Place, or the over-charging of the Air with the fuliginous Reeks of Mens Bodies; tho' the Disease be formidable, yet, if the Patient be seasonably brought in∣to the free Air, the friendly Operation of That External Body, assisting the usual Endeavours or Tendency of the Parts of the Patients Body to main∣tain his Life and Heath, is wont quickly to restore him to the State he was in, before this sudden Sick∣ness invaded him. Divers things, that happen in some Diseases, may be grosly illustrated, by supposing, that into a Vial of fair Water some Mud be put, and then the Vial be well shaken, for the Water will be Page  321 troubled and dirty, and will lose its Transparency, upon a double Ac∣count; that of the Mud, whose opa∣cous Particles are confounded with It; and that of the newly generated Bubbles, that swim at the top of it; and yet to clarifie this Water, and and make it recover its former Lim∣pidness, there needs no particular Care or Design of Nature, but accor∣ding to the common Course of Things, after some time the Bubbles will break and vanish at the top, and the earthy Particles, that compose the Mud, will, by their Gravity, sub∣side to the bottom, and settle there, and so the Water will become clear again. Thus also Must, which is the lately express'd Juice of Grapes, will for a good while continue a troubled Liquor; but though there be no Sub∣stantial Form to guide the Motions of this factitious Body, yet, accor∣ding to the Course of Things, a Fer∣mentation is excited, and some Cor∣puscles are driven away, in the Form of Exhalations or Vapours, others Page  322 are thrown against the sides of the Cask, and harden'd there into Tar∣tar, and others again subside to the bottom, and settle there in the Form of Lees; and by this means leave the Liquor clear, and, as to Sense, uniform. And why may not some Depurations and Proscriptions of Heterogeneous Parts be made in the Blood, as well as they are usually in Must, without any peculiar and soli∣citous Direction of Nature.

There is indeed one Thing, to which the Sentence of Nature's being the Curer of Diseases may be very speciously apply'd, and that is the healing of Cuts and Wounds, which, if they be but in the Flesh, may of∣tentimes be cured without Plaisters, Salves, or other Medicines; but, not to mention Haemorrhagies and some other Symptoms, wherein the Chriurgeon is fain to curb or re∣medy the Exorbitancies of Nature; this Healing of the Solutio continui seems to be but an Effect or Conse∣quent of that Fabrick of the Body, Page  323 on which Nutrition depends. For the Alimental Juice, being, by the Circulation of the Blood and Chile, carried to all Parts of the Body to be nourish'd, if it meets any where, either with preternatural Concreti∣ons, or with a Gap made by a Cut or Wound, its Particles do there con∣crete into a kind of Bastard-flesh, or some such other Body, which that Juice, in the Place and other Cir∣cumstances 'tis in, is fitted to consti∣tute. Thus we see, that not only Wens and Scrophulous Tumors are nourish'd in the Body, but mis-sha∣pen Mola's do by Nutriment grow in the Womb, as well as Embryo's feed there. And, to come closer to the present Argument, we see, that, in Wounds, Proud-Flesh, and perhaps Fungus's, are as well produc'd and entertain'd by the Aliment brought to the wounded Part, as the true and genuine Flesh; so that either Nature seems much mistaken, if She designs the Production and Maintenance of such superfluous and inconvenient Page  324 Bodies; or the Chirurgeon is much to blame, who is industrious to de∣stroy them, though oftentimes he cannot do it, without using painful Corrosives. But, for ought appears, Nature is not so shy and reserv'd in Her Bounty, but that She sends Nou∣rishment, to repair as well Things that do not belong to the Body, as genuine Parts of It, as to restore Flesh to wounded Parts, as may ap∣pear by Warts and Corns, that grow again after they are skilfully cut. And, I remember, I have seen a Wo∣man, in whose Forehead Nature was careful to nourish a Horn, about an Inch and more in length, which I ful∣ly examin'd, whilst it was yet grow∣ing upon Her Head, to avoid being impos'd upon.

But, besides the Diseases hither to discours'd, there are many Others, as well Acute as Chronical, wherein, 'tis confess'd, that Nature alone does not work the Cure, so that as to these, (which are more numerous, than the former) I may well pretend, Page  325 that the Aphorism, that makes Na∣ture the Curer of Diseases, is not true, otherwise than in a limited Sense. But, because I know 'tis pretended, that even in these Diseases Nature is the principal Agent, by whose Dire∣ction the Physician acts in subser∣viency to her Designs; and Physici∣ans themselves (whether out of Mo∣desty or Inadvertence, I now enquire not,) are wont to acknowledg, that they are but Nature's Ministers, I think it necessary to consider briefly, what Sense is fit, according to our Doctrine, to be given to these Asser∣tions, to make them receivable by us.

But, to make way for what we are to say on this Occasion, it may be fit to observe, that one great Cause of the common Mistakes about this Matter, is, as hath been partly intimated already, That the Body of a Man is look'd upon, rather as a System of Parts, whereof Most are gross and consistent, and not a Few hard and solid too, than as, what Page  326 indeed it is, a very compounded Engine; that, besides these Consi∣stent Parts, does consist of the Blood, Chyle, Gall, and other Liquors; also of more subtil Fluids, as Spirits and Air; all which Liquors and Fluids are almost incessantly and va¦riously moving, and thereby put di∣vers of the Solid Parts, as the Heart and Lungs, the Diaphragma, the Hands, Feet, &c. into frequent and differing Motions. So that, as, when the Constitution or the Motions, that in a sound Body do regularly be∣long to the Fluid Parts, happens the former to be Deprav'd, or the later to grow Anomalous, the En∣gine is immediately out of Order, though the gross solid Parts were not primarily affected: So, when by proper Remedies (whether Visible or not,) the vitiated Texture or Crasis of the Blood or other Juices is corrected, and the inordinate Mo∣tions, that They and the Spirits are put into, or, that they also put the consistent Parts into, are calm'd Page  327 and rectify'd, the grosser and more solid Parts of the Body, and so the whole Animal Oeconomy, if I may so call It, will be restored to a more convenient State. Thus we see, that in many Hysterical Women, by the fragrant Effluvia of a Spanish Glove, or some Other strong Perfume, the Spirits and Genus Nervosum being af∣fected, several disorderly Symptoms are produc'd, and oftentimes the Motion of the Blood is so stopt or abated, that any Pulse at all is scarce∣ly to be felt, nor Respiration dis∣cern'd, and the whole Engine, una∣ble to sustain itself, falls to the Ground, and lies moveless on It; and yet we have often, by barely holding to the Patient's Nostrils a Vial full of very strong Spirit, or Volatile Salt, or Sal-armoniack, or of Harts-horn, in less than a quarter of an Hour, sometimes in a few Mi∣nutes, restor'd Women in that Con∣dition to their Senses, Speech and Motion.

Page  328 We are also here to consider, what I have formerly inculcated, that the Oeconomy of the human Body is so constituted by the Divine Author of It, that it is usually fitted to last many Years, if the more Gene∣ral Laws, setled by the same Au∣thor of the Universe, will permit it. And therefore 'tis not to be won∣der'd at, that in many Cases, the Automaton should be in a Conditi∣on to concur, though not with Know∣ledge and Design, to its own Pre∣servation, when, though it had been put somewhat out of Order, 'tis as∣sisted by the Physicians Hands or Medicines to recover a convenient State.

And if it be objected, that the Examples, that have been in this past Discourse frequently drawn from Automata, are not adequate, and do not fully reach the Difficulties we have been speaking of, I shall rea∣dily grant it, provided it be consi∣der'd, that I avowedly and deser∣vedly suppose the Bodies of living Page  329 Animals to be, Originally, Engins of God's own framing, and conse∣quently Effects of an Omniscient and Almighty Artificer. So that, 'tis not Rational to expect, that in the incomparably inferior Producti∣ons of human Skill, there should be found Engins fit to be compar'd with These, which, in their Protoplasts, had God for their Author. Not to mention, (what yet may be conside∣rable in reference to the Lastingness of human Life,) that a Man is not a mere Mechanical Thing, where nothing is perform'd for the Preser∣vation of the Engine, or its Recovery to a good State, but by its own Parts, or by other Agents, acting according to Mechanical Laws with∣out Counsel or Design; since, though the Body of a Man be indeed an En∣gine, yet there is united to It an In∣telligent Being, (the Rational Soul or Mind,) which is capable, especi∣ally if instructed by the Physitians Art, to discern, in many Cases, what may hurt It, and what may Page  330 conduce to the Welfare of It, and is also able (by the Power it has to govern the Muscles and other Instru∣ments of voluntary Motion,) to do many of those Things it judges most conducive to the Safety and the Welfare of the Body, 'tis join'd with. So that, a Man is not like a Watch, or an Empty Boat, where there is nothing but what is purely Me∣chanical; but like a Mann'd Boat, where, besides the Machinal Part, (if I may so speak) there is an Intelli∣gent Being that takes Care of It, and both steers It, or otherwise guides It, and, when need requires, trimms It; and, in a word, as Occasion serves, does what he can to preserve It, and keep It fit for the Purposes, 'tis design'd for.

These Things being premis'd, I think the Physitian (here suppos'd to be free from Prejudices and Mistakes,) is to look upon his Pa∣tients Body, as an Engine that is out of Order, but yet is so constituted, that, by his Concurrence with the Page  331 Endeavours, or rather Tendencies, of the Parts of the Automaton itself, it may be brought to a better State. If therefore he find, that, in the pre∣sent Disposition of the Body, there is a Propensity or Tendency to throw off the Matter that offends It, and (which ought to be some way or other expell'd,) in a convenient Way, and at commodious Places; he will then act so, as to comply with, and further, that Way of Dis∣charge, rather than Another. As, if there be a great Appearance, that a Disease will quickly have a Crisis by Sweat; he will rather further It by covering the Patient with warm Cloaths and giving Sudorifick Me∣dicines, than, by endeavouring to carry off the peccant Matter by Pur∣ging or Vomiting, unseasonably hin∣der a Discharge, that probably will be beneficial: And in this Sense Men may say, if they please, that the Physicians are Ministers or Ser∣vants of Nature; as Sea-Men, when the Ship goes before a good Wind, Page  332 will not shift their Sails, nor alter the Ships Motion, because they need not. But to shew, that 'tis as 'twere by Accident, that the Physitian does, in the fore-mention'd Case, obey Nature, (to speak in the Language of the Naturists, I reason with,) I need but represent, that there are many other Cases, wherein the Phy∣sitian, if he be skilful, will be so far from taking Nature for his Mi∣stress, to direct him by Her Exam∣ple, what should be done; that a great Part of his Care and Skill is im∣ploy'd, to hinder Her from doing what She seems to Design, and to bring to pass Other Things very differing from, if not contrary to, what She Endeavours.

Thus, though Nature in Dropsies inportunately crave store of Drink, the Physician thinks himself oblig'd to deny It; as he does what they gree∣dily desire, to his Patients of the Green-Sickness, or that Distemper they call Pica: Though the absurd and hurtful Things, as very unripe Page  333 Fruit, Lime, Coals, and other in∣congruous Things, be earnestly long'd for. Thus also the Chirurgeon does often hinder Nature from closing up the Lips of a Wound, as She would unskilfully do, before it be well and securely heal'd at the bot∣tom. So the Physician does often, by Purging or Phlebotomy, carry off that Matter, that Nature would more dangerously throw into the Lungs, and expel by frequent and violent Coughs.

And so, if a Nerve or Tendon be prick'd, the Chirurgeon is fain, with Anodynes, and other convenient Medicines, to prevent or appease the unreasonable Transports of Na∣ture, when, being in a Fury, by vio∣lent and threatning Convulsions, She not only much disorders, but en∣dangers, the Patient. And so like∣wise, when in those Evacuations that are peculiar to Women, Nature af∣fects, in some Individuals, to make them by undue and inconvenient Places, as the Nipples, the Mouth, Page  334 or the Eyes, whereof we have divers Instances, among the Observations collected by Schenc∣kius,* or related by other good Authors. The Physitian is care∣ful by Bleeding the Patient in the Foot and by using other Means, to oblige Nature to alter Her Purpose, and make the intended Evacuations by the proper Uterine Vessels. And, tho' according to the Institution of Nature, as they speak, there ought to be a Monthly discharge of these Su∣perfluities, and therefore, whilst this is moderately made, the Physi∣cian does rather further than sup∣press It: Yet if, as it often happens in other Patients, Nature over∣lashes in making those Evacuations, to the great weakning or endange∣ring the Sick Person, the Physitian is careful by contemperating Medi∣cines and other Ways to correct Na∣ture's exorbitancy and check Her profuseness of so necessary a Liquor, as the Blood. Other Instances, more Page  335 considerable, than some of these hi∣therto mention'd, might be given to the same purpose; but I forbear to do it, because, there being some, though perhaps very needless, Con∣troversies about Them, I could not make out their fitness to be here al∣ledg'd without more Words, than I am now willing to employ about un∣necessary Proofs, fearing it might be thought, I have dwelt too long al∣ready upon the Explication of One Aphorism. I shall therefore only observe in short, that I look upon a good Physician, not so properly as a Servant to Nature, as One that is a Counsellor and a Friendly Assistant, who, in his Patient's Body, furthers these Motions and other Things, that he judges conducive to the Welfare and Recovery of It; but as to Those, that he perceives likely to be hurt∣ful, either by encreasing the Disease, or otherwise endangering the Pa∣tient, he think it is his Part to op∣pose or hinder, though Nature do manifestly enough seem to endea∣vour Page  336 the exercising or carrying on those hurtful Motions.

On this occasion, I shall take no∣tice of the Practice of the more Pru∣dent among Physicians themselves, who, being call'd to a Patient, subject to the Flux of the Haemorrhoids, if they find the Evacuation to be mo∣derate, and likely either to benefit the Patient on another account, (as in some Cases 'tis,) or at least to end well, they do, as some of them speak, commit the whole business to Nature; that is, to speak intelli∣gibly, they suffer It to take its Course, being incouraged to do so, in some Cases, by the Do∣ctrine of Hippocrates,* and in others by Ex∣perience. But, if the Evacuation prove to be too lasting, or too copious, they then are careful to hinder Nature from proceeding in it, and think themselves oblig'd to imploy both inward and outward Means, to put a stop to an Evacuati∣on, which may bring on a Dropsie, Page  337 or some other formidable Disease And if it be said, that Nature makes this Profusion of so necessary a Li∣quor as Blood, only because She is irritated by the Acrimony of some Humour mix'd with it; I say, that this Answer, which, for Substance, is the same that Naturists may be compell'd to fly to, on many Occasi∣ons, is in effect a Confession, that Nature is no such wise Being as they pretend; since She is so often pro∣vok'd to act, as it were, in a Fury, and do those things in the Body, that would be very mischievous to It, if the Physitian, more calm and wise than She, did not hinder Her. So that, notwithstanding the reverence I pay the great Hippocrates, it is not without due Caution and some Li∣mitations, that I admit that nota∣ble Sentence of his, where he thus speaks;*Invenit Natura ipsa sibi-ipsi aggressiones. And af∣ter three or four lines, Non edocta Natura & nullo Magi∣stro Page  338 usa, ea quibus opus est facit. Which, I fear, makes many Physi∣tians less couragious and careful than they should, or perhaps would be, to employ their own Skill on di∣vers Occasions, that much require It.

I shall now add, that, as in some Cases, the Physitian relieves his Pa∣tient in a Negative Way, by oppo∣sing Nature in her unseasonable or disorderly Attempts: So in other Cases, he may do it in a Positive Way, by employing Medicines that either strengthen the Parts, as well Fluid as Stable, or make sensible E∣vacuations of Matters necessary to be proscrib'd by Them; or (he may do it,) by using Remedies, that by their manifest Qualities oppugn those of the Morbifick Matter or Causes; as when by Alcaly's or ab∣sorbing Medicaments he mortify's Praeter-natural Acids, or disables Them to do Mischief. And, per∣haps, One may venture to say, that, in some Cases, the Physitian may▪ Page  339 in a Positive Way, contribute more to the Cure even of an inward Disease, than Nature Herself seems able to do: For, if there be any such Me∣dicine preparable by Art, as Helmont affirms may be made of Paracelsus's Ludus, by the Liquor Alkahest; or, as Cardan relates, that an Empirick had in his Time, who, travell'd up and down Italy, curing Those where∣ever he came, that were tormented with the Stone of the Bladder; If, I say, there be any such Medicines, the Physitian may, by such Instru∣ments, perform that, which, for ought appears, is not to be done by Nature Herself, since we never find, that She dissolves a confirm'd Stone in the Bladder. Nay, sometimes the Physician does, even without the help of a Medicine, controle and over-rule Nature, to the great and sudden Advantage of the Patient. For, when a Person, otherwise not very weak, happens by a Fright, or some surprising ill News, to be so discompos'd, that the Spirits hastily Page  340 and disorderly thronging to some inward Part, especially the Heart, hinder the regular and wonted Mo∣tion of It, by which disorder the Cir∣culation of the Blood is hinder'd, or made very imperfect: In this Case, I say, the Patient is by Nature's great Care of the Heart, (as is common∣ly suppos'd even by Physitians,) cast into a Swoon; whence the Physi∣tian sometimes quickly frees him, by rubbing and pinching the Limbs, the Ears and the Nose, that the Spirits may be speedily brought to the Ex∣ternal Parts of the Body; which must be done by a Motion to the Cir∣cumference, (as they call It,) quite opposite to That towards the Centre or Heart, which Nature had given Them before. But as to the Theory of Swoonings, I shall not now ex∣amine its Truth, it being sufficient to warrant my drawing from thence an Argument ad Hominem, that the Theory is made Use of by Those I reason with.

Page  441 By what has been discours'd One may perceive, that, as there are some Phaenomena, that seem to favour the Doctrine of the Naturists about the Cure of Diseases, so there are Others, that appear more manifestly favou∣rable to the Hypothesis we propose. And both these sorts of Phaenomena, being consider'd together, may well suggest a Suspition, that the most Wise and yet most Free Author of Things, having fram'd the first In∣dividuals of Mankin'd, so as to be fit to last many Years, and endow'd those Protoplasts with the Power of propagating their Species; it there∣upon comes to pass, that in the sub∣sequent Hydraulico-pneumatical En∣gines we call Human Bodies, when neither particular Providence, nor the Rational Soul, nor over-ruling Impediments interpose, Things are generally perform'd according to Mechanical Laws and Courses; whether the Effects and Events of these prove to be conducive to the welfare of the Engine itself, or else Page  342 cherish and foment Extraneous Bo∣dies or Causes, whose Preservation and Prospering are hurtful to It. On which Supposition it may be said, That the happy things, referr'd to Nature's prudent Care of the Re∣covery and Welfare of sick Per∣sons, are usually genuine Conse∣quences of the Mechanism of the World, and the Patients Body; which Effects luckily happen to be co-incident with his Recovery, ra∣ther than to have been purposely and wisely produced in order to It; since, I observe, that Nature seems to be careful to produce, preserve, and cherish Things hurtful to the Body, as well as Things beneficial to It. For we see in the Stone of the Kidneys and Bladder, that out of Vegetable or Animal Substances of a slighter Texture, such as are the Alimental Juices, which, in Suck∣ing Children (who are observ'd to be frequently subject to the Stone in the Bladder) are afforded by so mild a Liquor as Milk; Nature skilfully Page  343 frames a hard Body of so firm a Tex∣ture, that it puzzles Physicians and Chymists to tell, how such a Coagulati∣on can be made of such Substances: And I have found more than one Cal∣culus to resist both Spirit of Salt, that readily dissolves Iron and Steel, and that highly Corrosive Menstruum, Oyl of Vitriol itself. We see also, that, divers times, the Seeds or Se∣minal Principles of Worms, that lye conceal'd in unwholesome Fruits, and other ill-qualifi'd Aliments, are pre∣serv'd and cherish'd in the Body, so, as in spight of the Menstruum's fer∣ments, &c. they meet with there, they grow to be perfect Worms, (of their respective kinds) that are of∣ten very troublesome, and sometimes very dangerous, to the Body that harbours them: Producing, though perhaps not immediately, both more and more various Distempers (espe∣cially here in England) than every Physician is aware of. This Refle∣ction may very well be applied to Page  344 those Instances we meet with in good * Authors, of Frogs, and even Toads, whose Spawn, being taken in with corrupted Water, hath been cherish∣ed in the Stomach 'till the Eggs be∣ing grown to be compleat Animals, they produc'd horrid Symptoms in the Body, that had lodg'd and fed them. And if, according to the re∣ceiv'd Opinion of Physicians, stub∣born Quartans are produc'd by a Me∣lancholy Humour seated in the Spleen; it may be said, that Nature seems to busie Herself to convert some Parts of the Fluid Chile into so tenacious and hardly dissipable a Juice, that in many Patients, not∣withstanding the Neighbourhood of the Spleen and Stomach, neither strong Emeticks, nor Purges, nor other usual Remedies, are able, in a long time, to dislodg it, or resolve it, or correct it. But that is yet more conducive to my present purpose, that is afforded me by the Considera∣tion Page  345 of the Poyson of a Mad-dog, which Nature sometimes seems in∣dustriously and solicitously to pre∣serve: Since we have Instances, in approved Authors, that a little Foam convey'd into the Blood by a slight hurt, (perhaps quickly heal'd up,) is, notwithstanding the constant Heat and perspirable Frame of the Human Body, and the dissipable Texture of the Foam, so preserved, and that sometimes for many Years, that, at the end of that long time, it breaks out, and displays its fatal Efficacy with as much vigour and fury, as if it had but newly been receiv'd into the Body.

To this agrees That which is well known in Italy, about the biting of the Tarantula. For, though the Quan∣tity of Poyson can scarce be visible, since 'tis communicated by the Tooth of so small an Animal as a Spider, yet, in many Patients, 'tis preserved during a great part of of their Lives, and manifests its Con∣tinuance in the Body by Annual Pa∣roxysms. Page  346 And, I know a Person of great Quality, who complain'd to me, that, being in the East, the biting or stinging of a Creature, whose of∣fensive Arms were so small, that the Eye could very hardly discern the Hurt, had so lasting an Effect upon him, that, for about twelve Years after, he was reminded of his Mis∣chance, by a Pain he felt in the hurt Place, about the same time of the Year that the Mischief was first done him. And, in some Hereditary Diseases, as the Gout, Falling-sick∣ness, and some kinds of Madness, Na∣ture seems to act as if She did, with Care as well as Skill, transmit to the unhappy Child such Morbifick Seeds or Impressions of the Parents Dis∣ease, that, in spight of all the vari∣ous Alterations the younger Body passes through, during the Course of many Years, this constantly pro∣tected Enemy is able to exert its Power and Malice, after forty, or perhaps fifty, Years concealment. Such Reflections as these, to which Page  347 may be added, that the Naturists make no scruple to style That Death, which Men are brought to by Dis∣eases, a Natural Death, make me backward to admit the fam'd Sen∣tence of Hippocrates hitherto consi∣der'd, Morborum Naturae Medici, without limitations, especially those two that are deliver'd in the Fifth Section:* To which I refer you the rather, because they may help you to discern, that divers Phaenome∣na, that favour not the receiv'd No∣tion of a kind and prudent Being, as Nature is thought to be, are yet very consistent with Divine Provi∣dence.