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


III. HAving shewn, that the De∣finition given of Nature by Aristotle himself, as great a Lo∣gician as he was, has not been able to satisfie so much as his Interpreters and Disciples, what his own Idea of Nature was; 'twould be to little pur∣pose Page  57 to trouble you and my self, with enquiring into the Definitions and Disputes of other Peripateticks, about so obscure and perplex'd a Subject; especially, since 'tis not my business in this Tract, solicitously to examine what Aristotle thought Nature to be, but what is to be thought of the vulgarly receiv'd Notion of Nature; and tho' of this, the Schools have been the chief Propagators, for which Reason it was fit to take notice of their Master Aristotle's Definition; yet the best way, I know, to inve∣stigate the commonly receiv'd Opi∣nion of Nature, is, to consider what Effata or Axioms do pass for current about Her; and what Titles and Epithets are unanimously given Her, both by Philosophers and other Writers, and by the generality of Men that have occasion to Discourse of Her and Her actings.

Of these Axioms and Epithets, the principal seen to be these that follow.

Page  58 Natura est sapientissima, adeoque opus Naturae est opus Intelligentiae.

* Natura nihil facit fru∣stra.

Natura fine suo nunquam excidit.

Natura semper facit quod optimum est.

Natura semper agit per vias brevissimas.

Natura neque redundat in superfluis, neque deficit in necessariis.

Omnis Natura est conservatrix sui.

Natura est morborum medicatrix.

Natura semper invigilat conserva∣tioni Vniversi.

Natura vacuum horret.

From all these Particulars put to∣gether, it may appear, that the vulgar Notion of Nature may be conveniently enough expres'd by some such Description as this.

Nature is a most wise Being, that does nothing in vain, does not miss of her Ends; does always that which (of the things she can do) is best to be done; and this she does by the Page  59 most direct or compendious ways, nei∣ther employing any things superflu∣ous, nor being wanting in things ne∣cessary; she teaches & inclines every one of her Works to preserve it self. And, as in the Microcosm (Man) 'tis she that is the Curer of Diseases, so in the Macrocosm (the World,) for the conservation of the Universe, she abhors a Vacuum, making parti∣cular Bodies act contrary to their own Inclinations and Interests, to prevent it, for the publick Good.

What I think of the Particulars, that make up this Paneygrical De∣scription of Nature, will (God per∣mitting) be told you in due place; my present work being only to make you the clearest Representation I can, of what Men generally (if they understand themselves) do, or with Congruity to the Axioms they ad∣mit and use, ought to conceive Na∣ture to be.

'Tis not unlike that you may ex∣pect, or wish, that on this occasion, I should propose some Definition or Page  60 Description of Nature, as my own. But declining (at least at present) to say any thing, Dogmatically, about this matter, I know not whe∣ther I may not, on this occasion, confess to you, that I have some∣times been so Paradoxical, or (if you please) so Extravagant, as to en∣tertain, as a serious Doubt, what I formerly intimated, viz. Whether Nature be a Thing, or a Name? I mean, whether it be a real Existent Being, or a notional Entity, some∣what of kin to those fictitious Terms, that Men have devis'd, that they might compendiously express several things together, by one Name? as when, for Instance, we speak of the Concocting Faculty ascrib'd to Ani∣mals; those that consider, and are careful to understand, what they say, do not mean I know not what Entity, that is distinct from the Hu∣man Body, as 'tis an Engine curi∣ously contriv'd, and made up of sta∣ble and fluid parts; but, observing an actuating power and fitness in Page  61 the Teeth, Tongue, Spittle, Fibres and Membranes of the Gullet and Stomach, together with the natural Heat, the Ferment, or else the Men∣struum,) and some other Agents, by their Co-operation, to cook or dress the Aliments, and change them into Chyle; observing these things, I say, they thought it convenient, for brevity's sake, to express the Com∣plex of those Causes, and the Train of their Actions, by the summary Appellation of concocting Faculty.

Whilst I was indulging my self, in this kind of Ravings, it came in∣to my mind, that the Natuists might demand of me, How, without ad∣mitting their Notion, I could give any tolerable Account of those, most useful, Forms of Speech, which Men imploy, when they say, That Na∣ture does this or that; or, That such a thing is done by Nature, or according to Nature, or else happens against Na∣ture? And this Question I thought the more worth answering, because these Phrases are so very frequently us'd Page  62 by Men of all sorts, as well Learned as Illiterate, that this Custom hath made them be thought, not only very convenient, but necessary; inso∣much, that I look upon it as none of the least things, that has procur'd so general a reception to the vulgar notion of Nature, that these ready and commodious Forms of Speech suppose the Truth of it.

It may therefore, in this place, be pertinent to add, That such Phra∣ses, as, that Nature, or Faculty, or Faculty, or Suction, doth this or that, are not the only ones, wherein I ob∣serve, that Men ascribe to a notional thing, that which, indeed, is per∣form'd by real Agents; as, when we say, that the Law punishes Mur∣der with Death, that it protects the Innocent, releases a Debtor out of Prison, when he has satisfied his Creditors (and the Ministers of Ju∣stice) on which, or the like occa∣sions, we may justly say, That 'tis plain that the Law, which, being in it self a dead Letter, is but a notio∣nalPage  63 Rule, cannot, in a Physical sense, be said to perform these things; but they are really performed by Judges, Officers, Executioners, and other Men, acting according to that Rule. Thus, when we say, that Custom does this or that, we ought to mean only, that such things are done by proper Agents, acting with Conformity to what is usual, (or customary) on such Occasions. And, to give you an yet more apposite Instance, do but con∣sider, how many Events are wont to be ascrib'd to Fortune or Chance; and yet Fortune is, in reality, no Physi∣cal Cause of any thing, (for which Reason probably it is, that Ancienter Naturalists than Aristotle, as him∣self intimates, take no notice of it, when they treat of Natural Causes,) and only denotes, that those Effects, that are ascribed to it, were produc'd by their true and proper Agents, without intending to produce them; as, when a Man shoots at a Deer, and the Arrow lightly glancing up∣on Page  64 the Beast, wounds some Man that lay beyond him, unseen by the Ar∣cher; 'tis plain, that the Arrow is a Physical Agent, that acts, by vir∣tue of its Fabrick and Motion, in both these Effects; and yet Men will say, that the slight hurt it gave the Deer, was brought to pass accord∣ing to the course of Nature, be∣cause the Archer design'd to shoot the Beast; but the mortal Wound, it gave the Man, happen'd by Chance▪ because the Archer intended not to shoot Him, or any Man else. And, whereas divers of the old Atomical Philosophers, pretending (without good Reason, as well as against Piety) to give an account of the Origin of things, without recourse to a Deity, did sometimes affirm the World to have been made by Nature, and sometimes by For∣tune, promiscuously employing those Terms: They did it, (if I guess a∣right) because they thought neither of them to denote any true and pro∣per Physical Cause, but rather certain Page  65Conceptions, that we Men have, of the manner of acting of true and proper Agents. And therefore, when the Epicureans taught, the World to have been made by Chance, 'tis probable, that they did not look upon Chance, as a True and Archi∣tectonick Cause of the System of the World, but believ'd all things to have been made by the Atoms, considered as their Conventions and Concretions into the Sun, Stars, Earth, and other Bodies, were made without any Design of Con∣stituting those Bodies.

Whilst this Vein of framing Pa∣radoxes yet continued, I ventur'd to proceed so far, as to Question, Whe∣ther one may not infer, from what hath been said, That the chief Ad∣vantage a Philosopher receives from what Men call Nature, be not, that it affords them, on divers occasions, a Compendious way of expressing themselves? Since (thought I,) to consider things otherwise than in a Popular way, when a Man tells me, Page  66 that Nature does such a thing, he does not really help me to understand, or to explicate, how it is done. For it seems manifest enough, that what∣soever is done in the World, at least wherein the rational Soul intervenes not, is really effected by Corporeal Causes and Agents, acting in a World so fram'd as Ours is, accord∣ing to the Laws of Motion setled by the Omniscient Author of things.

When a Man knows the contri∣vance of a Watch or Clock, by view∣ing the several pieces of it, and seeing how, when they are duely put together, the Spring or Weight sets one of the Wheels a work, and by that another, till by a fit Conse cution of the Motions of these and other parts, at length the Index comes to point at the right Hour of the Day: The Man, if he be wise, will be well enough satisfied with this knowledge of the Cause of the propos'd Effect, without troubling himself to examine, whether a No∣tional Philosopher will call the time-measuring Page  67 Instrument, an Ens per se, or an Ens per accidens? And whe∣ther it performs its Operations by virtue of an internal Principle, such as the Spring of it ought to be? or of an external one, such as one may think the appended Weight? And, as he, that cannot, by the Mechani∣cal affections of the parts of the Uni∣versal matter, explicate a Phaenome∣non, will not be much help'd to un∣derstand, how the Effect is produc'd, by being told, that Nature did it: So, if he can explain it Mechanically, he has no more need to think, or (unless for brevity's sake) to say, that Nature brought it to pass, than he, that observes the Motions of a Clock, has to say, that 'tis not the Engine, but 'tis Art, that shews the Hour; whereas, without consider∣ing that general and uninstructive Name, he sufficiently understands how the parts, that make up the En∣gine, are determin'd by their Con∣struction, and the Series of their Mo∣tions, Page  68 to produce the Effect that is brought to pass.

When the lower end of a Reed, being dipp'd, for Instance, in Milk or Water, he that holds it, does cover the upper end with his Lips, and fetches his Breath, and hereupon the Liquor flows into his Mouth: We are told, that Nature raiseth it to prevent a Vacuum, and this way of raising it, is call'd Suction; but, when this is said, the word Nature does but furnish us with a short Term, to express a concourse of se∣veral Causes; and so does in other Cases, but what the Word Suction does in this. For neither the one, nor the other, helps us to conceive, how this, seemingly spontaneous, Ascension of a heavy Liquor is ef∣fected; which they that know, that the outward Air is a heavy fluid, and gravitates, or presses, more up∣on the other parts of the Liquor, than the Air, contained in the Reed, (which is rarefy'd by the Dilatation of the Sucker's Thorax) does upon Page  69 the included part of the Surface, will readily apprehend, that the smaller pressure will be surmounted by the greater, and, consequently yield to the Ascension of the Liquor, which is, by the prevalent external pres∣sure, impell'd up into the Pipe, and so into the Mouth, (as I, among others, have elswhere fully made out.) So that, according to this Doctrine, without recurring to Na∣ture's Care, to prevent a Vacuum, one that had never heard of the Pe∣ripatetick Notions of Nature, or of Suction, might very well understand the mention'd Phaenomenon. And if afterwards he should be made ac∣quainted with the receiv'd Opinions, and Forms of Speech, us'd on this occasion, he would think, that so to ascribe the Effect to Nature, is need∣less, if not also erroneous; and that the common Theory of Suction can afford him nothing, but a compen∣dious Term, to express, at once the Concourse of the Agents, that make the Water ascend.

Page  70 How far, I think, these extrava∣gant Reasonings may be admitted, you will be enabled to discern, by what you will hereafter meet with, relating to the same Subjects, in the VII. Section of this Discourse. And therefore, returning now to the rise of this Digression, namely, That 'tis not unlike you may expect, I should, after the Vulgar Notion of Nature, that I lately mention'd, without acquiescing in it, substitute some Definition or Description of Nature, as Mine: I hope you will be pleas'd to remember, that the Design of this Paper was, to exa∣mine the Vulgar Notion of Nature, not propose a new one of my own. And indeed the Ambiguity of the Word is so great, and 'tis, even by Learned Men, usually employ'd to signifie such different things; that, without enumerating & distinguish∣ing its various Acceptions, 'twere very unsafe to give a Definition of it, if not impossible to deliver one that would not be liable to Censure. Page  71 I shall not therefore presume to De∣fine a thing, of which there is yet no settled and stated Notion agreed on among Men. And yet, that I may, as far as I dare, comply with your couriosity, I shall tell you, that if I were to propose a Notion, as less unfit than any I have met with, to pass for the principal Notion of Na∣ture, with regard to which, many Axioms and Expressions, relating to that Word, may be not inconve∣niently understood, I should distin∣guish between the universal, and the particular Nature of Things. And, of universal Nature, the Notion, I would offer, should be some such as this, That Nature is the Aggregate of the Bodies, that make up the World, framed as it is, considered as a Princi∣ple, by virtue whereof, they Act and Suffer according to the Laws of Moti∣on, prescrib'd by the Author of Things. Which Desrciption may be thus Pa∣phras'd, That Nature, in general, is, The Result of the Vniversal Mat∣ter, or Corporeal Substance of the V∣niverse, Page  72 considered as it is contrived into the present Structure and Consti∣tution of the World, whereby all the Bo∣dies, that compose it, are inabled to act upon, and fitted to suffer from, one ano∣ther, according to the setled Laws of Mo∣tion. I expect, that this Description will appear Prolix, and require to be heedfully perus'd: But the Intri∣cateness and Importance of the Sub∣ject hindred me from making it shorter, and made me chuse rather to presume upon your Attention, that not endeavour to express my self intelligibly and warily, about a Subject of such moment. And this will make way for the other (Subor∣dinate) Notion, that is to attend the former Description: Since the parti∣cular Nature, of an Individual Body, consists in the general Nature, apply'd to a distinct portion of the Vniverse. Or rather, supposing it to be plac'd, as it is, in a World, fram'd by God, like Ours, it consists in a Convention of the Mechanical affections (such as Bigness, Figure, Order, Scituation, Page  73 Contexture, and Local Motion) of its parts, (whether sensible or insen∣sible) convenient and sufficient to constitute in, or to entitle to, its par∣ticular Species or Denominations, the particular Body they make up, as the Concourse of all these is considered as the Principle of Motion, Rest, and Changes, in that Body.

If you will have me give to these two Notions more compendious Expessions, now that, by what hath been said, I presume, you ap∣prehend my Meaning; I shall ex∣press, what I call'd General Nature, by Cosmical Mechanism, that is, a Comprisal of all the Mechanical Af∣fections (Figure, Size, Motion, &c.) that belong to the matter of the great System of the Universe. And, to denote the Nature of this or that Particular Body, I shall style it, the Private, the Particular, or (if you please) the Individual Mechanism of That Body; or, for Brevity's sake, barely the Mechanism of it, that is, the Essential. Modification, if I may Page  74 so speak, by which, I mean, the Com∣prisal of all its Mechanical Affections conven'd in the Particular Body, con∣sider'd, as 'tis determinately plac'd, in a World so constituted, as Ours is.

'Tis like, you will think it strange, that in this Description I should make the present Fabrick of the Vni∣verse, a Part, as it were, of the Notion I frame of Nature, though the generality of Philosophers, as well as other Men, speak of Her, as a plastick Principle of all the Mun∣dane Bodies, as if they were Her Ef∣fects; and therefore they usually call them, the Works of Nature; and the Changes that are observ'd in them, the Phaenomena of Nature. But, for my part, I confess, I see no need to acknowledg any Architectonick Be∣ing, besides God, Antecedent to the first Formation of the World.

The Peripateticks, whose School either devis'd, or mainly propaga∣ted, the Received Notion of Nature, conceiving (not only Matter, but) the World to be Eternal, might look Page  75 upon it, as the Province, but could not, as the Work of Nature, which, in their Hypothesis, is its Guardian, without having been its Architect.

The Epicureans themselves, that would refer all things, that are done in the World, to Nature, cannot, according to their Principles, make what they now call Nature, to have been Antecedent to the first Forma∣tion of our present World. For, ac∣cording to their Hypothesis, whilst their numberless Atoms wildly rov'd in their infinite Vacuity, they had no∣thing belonging to them, but Bigness, Figure and Motion: And 'twas by the Coalition, or Convention of these Atoms, that the World had its Be∣ginning. So that, according to them, it was not Nature, but Chance, that Fram'd the World; though afterwards, this Original Fabrick of things, does, by virtue of its Structure, and the innate and un∣loseable motive power of Atoms, con∣tinue things in the same state for the main; & this course, though casually Page  76 fallen into, & continued without De∣sign, is that, which, according to their Hypothesis, ought to pass for Nature.

And, as meer Reason doth not oblige me to acknowledge such a Nature, as we call in Question, Ante∣cedent to the Origin of the World; so neither do I find, that any Reve∣lation, contain'd in the Holy Scrip∣tures, clearly teaches, that there was then such a Being. For, in the History of the Creation, 'tis expresly said, that In the beginning God made the Heavens and the Earth; and, in the whole Account that Moses gives of the progress of it, there is not a word of the Agency of Nature; and, at the later end, when God is intro∣duc'd, as making a re-view of all the Parts of the Universe, 'tis said,* that God saw every thing that he had made; and 'tis soon after added, that He blessed and sancti∣fied the Seventh Day,* because, in it, (or rather, just before it, as I find the Hebrew Particle elsewhere us'd,) Page  77He had rested from all his Works, which God created and made. And tho' there be a passage in the Book of Iob,* that, probably e∣nough, argues the Angels (there call'd, the Sons of God) to have existed, either at the beginning of the first Day's Work, or some time be∣fore it; yet 'tis not there so much as intimated, that they were Co∣operators, with their Maker, in the Framing of the World, of which they are represented as Spectators and Applauders, but not so much as Instruments. But since Revelation, as much as I always reverence it, is, I confess, a Foreign Principle in this Philosophical Enquiry, I shall wave it here, and tell you, That, when I consult only the Light of Reason, I am inclin'd to apprehend the First Formation of the World, after some such manner as this.

I think it probable, (for I would not Dogmatize on so weighty, and so difficult a Subject,) that the Great and Wise Author of Things, did, Page  78 when he first Form'd the universal and undistinguish'd matter, into the World, put its Parts into various Motions, whereby they were neces∣sarily divided into numberless Por∣tions of differing Bulks, Figures, and Scituations, in respect of each other. And that, by his Infinite Wisdom and Power, he did so guide and over∣rule the Motions of these Parts, at the beginning of things, as that (whether in a shorter or a longer time, Reason cannot well determine) they were finally dispos'd into that Beautiful and Orderly Frame, we call the World; among whose Parts some were so curiously contriv'd, as to be fit to become the Seeds, or Se∣minal Principles, of Plants and A∣nimals. And I further conceive, that he setled such Laws or Rules, of Local Motion, among the Parts of the Universal Matter, that by his ordinary and preserving Concourse, the several Parts of the Universe, thus once completed, should be able to maintain the great Constru∣ction, Page  79 or System and Oeconomy, of the Mundane Bodies, and pro∣pagate the Species of Living Crea∣tures. So that, according to this Hypothesis, I suppose no other Effi∣cient of the Universe, but God him∣self, whose Almighty Power, still accompanied with his Infinite Wis∣dom, did at first Frame the Corpo∣real World, according to the Divine Idea's, which he had, as well most freely, as most wisely, determin'd to conform them to. For, I think, it is a Mistake to imagine, (as we are wont to do) that what is call'd, the Nature of this or that Body, is whol∣ly compris'd in its own Matter, and its (I say not Substantial, but) Es∣sential Form; as if from that, or these only, all its Operations must flow. For an Individual Body, being but a Part of the World, and in∣compass'd with other Parts of the same great Automaton, needs the As∣sistance, or Concourse, of other Bo∣dies, (which are external Agents) to perform divers of its Operations, Page  80 and exhibit several Phaenomena's, that belong to it. This would quickly and manifestly appear, if, for In∣stance, an Animal or an Herb could be remov'd into those Imaginary Spaces, the School-men tell us of, beyond the World; or into such a place, as the Epicureans fancy their Intermundia, or empty Intervals, between those numerous Worlds, their Master dream'd of. For, what∣ever the Structures of these living Engines be, they would as little, without the Co-operations of exter∣nal Agents; such as the Sun, Aether, Air, &c. be able to exercise their Functions, as the great Mills, com∣monly us'd with us, would be to Grind Corn, without the assistance of Wind or running Water. Which may be thought the more credible, if it be considered, that by the meer Exclusion of the Air, (tho' not of Light, or the Earth's Magnetical Ef∣fluvia, &c.) procur'd by the Air-pump, Bodies plac'd in an extraor∣dinary large Glass, will presently Page  81 come into so differing a state, that warm Animals cannot live in it; nor flame (tho' of pure Spirit of Wine) burn; nor Syringes draw up Water; nor Bees, or such winged Insects, fly; nor Caterpillars crawl; nay, nor Fire run along a train of dryed Gun∣powder: All which I speak upon my own experience. According to the foregoing Hypothesis, I consider the frame of the World already made, as a Great, and, if I may so speak, Pregnant Automaton, that, like a Woman with Twins in her Womb, or a Ship furnish'd with Pumps, Or∣dnance, &c. is such an Engine as comprises, or consists of, several les∣ser Engines. And this Compounded Machine, in conjunction with the Laws of Motion, freely establish'd and still maintain'd, by God among its Parts; I look upon as a Complex Principle, whence results the setled Order, or Course, of things Corpo∣real. And that which happens ac∣cording to this course, may, general∣ly speaking, be said to come to pass Page  82according to Nature, or to be done by Nature, and that which thwarts this Order may be said to be Preternatu∣ral, or contrary to Nature. And in∣deed, though Men talk of Nature as they please, yet whatever is done among things Inanimate, which make incomparably the greatest part of the Universe, is really done but by particular Bodies, acting on one another by Local Motion, Modifi'd by the other Mechanical Affections of the Agent, of the Patient, and of those other Bodies, that necessarily concur to the Effect, or the Phaenome∣non produc'd.

N. B. Those, that do not relish the knowledg of the Opinions and Rights of the Ancient Iews and Heathens, may pass on to the next or V. Secti∣on, and skip the whole following Ex∣cursion, compris'd between double Paratheses's, which, though neither impertinent nor useless to the scope of this Treatise, is not absolutely ne∣cessary to it.

Page  83 [In the foregoing (III.) Section of this Treatise, I hope I have given a sufficient Reason of my backward∣ness to make frequent use of the Word Nature, and now, in this (IV.) Section, having laid down such a De∣scription, of Nature, as shews that her Votaries represent her as a God∣dess, or at least a Semi-Deity: 'Twill not be improper in this place, to de∣clare some of the Reasons of my dissa∣tisfaction with the Notion or Thing it self, as well as with the use of the Name; and to shew, why I am not willing to comply with those Many, that would impose it upon us as ve∣ry friendly to Religion.

And these reasons I shall the rather propose, because not only the Gene∣rality of other Learned Men, (as I just now intimated) but that of Divines themselves, for want of In∣formation, or for some other cause, seem not to have well consider'd so weighty a matter.

To manifest therefore the Malevo∣lent Aspect, that the Vulgar Notion Page  84 of Nature has had, and therefore pos∣sibly may have, on Religion; I think fit, in a general way, to premise, what things they are, which seem to me to have been the Fundamental Errors, that mis-led the Heathen World, as well Philosophers as o∣thers. For, if I mistake not, the looking upon meerly Corporeal, and oftentimes Inanimate Things, as if they were endow'd with Life, Sense, and Understanding; and the ascri∣bing to Nature, and some other Be∣ings, (whether real or imaginary) things that belong but to God, have been some, (if not the chief) of the Grand Causes of the Polytheism and Idolatry of the Gentiles.

The most Ancient Idolatry, (taking the word in its laxer sense) or at least one of the earliest, seems to have been the Worship of the Coelestial Lights, especially the Sun and Moon: That kind of Aboda zara,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (as the Iewish Writers call strange or false Worships) being the most Natural, as having for its Objects, Page  85 Glorious Bodies, Immortal, always regularly mov'd, and very beneficial to Men. There is Recorded, in the Holy Scripture, a Passage of Iob, who is probably reputed to be, at least, as Antient as Moses, which seems to ar∣gue, that this Worship, of the two great Luminaries, was practis'd in his time, and look'd upon as Crimi∣nal by Religious Men, and, as our English Version renders the Hebrew Words, Punishable by the Civil Magi∣strate. If, says Iob, I beheld the Sun when it shined, or the Moon walking in brightness: And my heart hath been secretly inticed, or my mouth hath kiss'd my hand, &c. Iob xxxi. 26, 27. And that this Idolatry was practis'd in Moses's time, may be gather'd from that Passage in Deuteromy. And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto Hea∣ven, & when thou seest the Sun, & the Moon, and the Stars, even all the Host of Heaven. shouldst be driven to wor∣ship them, & serve them, &c. Deut. 4. 19. The Sabaeans, or, as many Criticks call them, the Zabians, are by some very Page  86 Learned Men thought to have been the earliest Idolaters: And the ablest of the Iewish Rabbies,*Mai∣monides, makes them to be so Antient, that Abraham was put to Dispute against them. And their Superstiti∣on had so over-spread the East, in Moses's time, that the same Maimo∣nides judiciously observes, that di∣vers of the Ceremonial Laws, given to the Iews, were instituted in oppo∣sition to the Idolatrous Opinions, Magical Rites, and other Superstiti∣tions, of these Zabians. Of this, he (seconded therein by our Famous Selden) gives several Instances; to which,* some are ad∣ded by the Learned Hottinger. But this only upon the By; my purpose, in mentioning these Zabians, being to observe to you, that they look'd upon the Planets, and especially the Sun and Moon, as Gods, & Worshipp'd them accordingly, taking them for Intelli∣gent Beings, that had a great Interest Page  87 in the Government of the World.

This may be prov'd out of some Eastern Writers, especially Mai∣monides, who, in one place,* asserts the Za∣bians to have Ador'd the Sun and Moon, and the Host of Heaven,* (as the Scri∣pture styles the Coele∣stial Lights) as true Gods. And this we shall the less wonder at, if we consult another place of the same Learned Author,* where he informs the Readers, that these Idolaters (the Zabians or Chaldaeans) made Statues of Silver and Gold, those for the Sun, and these for the Moon; which, be∣ing Consecrated by certain Rites and Ceremonies, did invite, and, as it were, attract the Spirits of these Stars into those Shrines: Whence they would speak to their Worshippers, acquaint them with things Profita∣ble, and even Predict to them things to come. And of some such sort of Page  88speaking-Images, some learned Cri∣ticks suppose the Te∣raphim (as the Origi∣nal Text calls them) to have been,* that Laban so priz'd, as to call them his Gods: Which 'tis guess'd Rachel stole from her Father, lest, by consulting them, he might learn what way her Husband and his Company had taken in their flight. And the same great Rabbi, having inform'd his Readers that he saw se∣veral Books of the Zabian Superstiti∣on, somewhere mentions one or two, that treated of speaking-Images. And 'twas perhaps from these Zabians, or their Disciples, that Zeno, the Foun∣der of the Stoical Sect, taught, as Stobaeus informs us, that the Sun, Moon, and the rest of the Stars were indow'd with Understanding and Prudence. And Seneca, an eminent Champion of that ri∣gid Sect,* repre∣hends Epicurus and Anaxagoras, (whose Disciple he was in that Opinion) that they held the Page  89 Sun to be a burning Stone, or an ag∣gregate of Casual Fires, and any thing rather than a God.

I am sorry, I could not avoid think∣ing the Great Hippocrates, to have been involv'd in the great Error we are speaking of, when in his Book De Principiis aut carnibus, near the be∣ginning, I met with this Passage. Videtur sane mihi id, quod (〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉) calidum vocamus, immortale esse, & cuncta intelligere & videre, & audire & scire omnia, tum prae∣sentia tum futura. According to which Supposition, he presently attempts to give some such Account of the Origin of the World's Frame, as he could in a very few lines; and then spends the rest of the Book, in giving particular Accounts, how the Parts of the Human Body come to be Fram'd, wherein, though I com∣mend the Attempt in general, be∣cause, without acquiescing in I know not what Faculties, he endeavours to give an intelligible and particular Account, how things come to be Page  90 perform'd and produc'd; yet I can∣not but look on this Book, as a Re∣markable Instance of this Truth, that, without having recourse to the True God, a satisfactory Account cannot be given of the Original or Primi∣tive Production of the Greater and Lesser World, since so great a Natu∣ralist as Hippocrates, by the help of his Idoliz'd 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, was unable to perform this Task, with any satis∣faction to an Attentive and Intelli∣gent Enquirer. And Galen himself, who was not unacquainted with Moses's Writings, and liv'd where Christianity was propagated thro' a great Part of the World; Galen, I say, even in that admirable Trea∣tise, De usu Partium, where he so excellently Declares and Celebrates the most Wise Author of Things, was so far transported with the Er∣rour, which infected so many other Heathen Philosophers, that he Phancied the Earth itself, though he speaks contemptibly of it, had a certain Soul or Mind, imparted to it Page  91 by the Superior Bodies, which, he saith, is so conspicu∣ous,* first in the Sun, next in the Moon, and afterwards in the other Stars; that by their Beauty the Contemplator will be induc'd to think it reasonable, that the more pure their Corporeal Substance is, 'tis inhabited by a Mind, so much the better and more perfect, than that of these Terrestial Bodies. And ha∣ving spoken of the reasoning Nature, that shin'd in Plato, Aristotle, Hip∣parchus, Archimedes, &c. He thus infers. Si igitur in tanta colluvie (quo enim alio nomine quis appellet id quod ex carne, sanguine, pituita, ac bile utraque est conflatum) mens gig∣natur, adeo eximia & excellens; quan∣tam ejusdem putandum est esse excel∣lentiam in Sole, Luna, allisque etiam Sideribus? (to which he subjoins) Mihi quidem, dum haec mecum voluto, non exigua quaedam mens talis, per ip∣sum etiam nos Aerem ambientem, esse Page  92 extensa videtur. Fieri enim non potest, quum lucis ipsius Solis sit particeps, quin vim etiam ab ipso assumat.

But this upon the By. Nor did this Opinion, of the Divinity of the Coelestial Bodies, die with the Za∣bians, or the Greek Philosophers. For I found, by some Questions I propos'd to an Inquisitive Person, who, having liv'd many years in Chi∣na and several of the Neighbouring Kingdoms, had acquired Skill enough in the Tongues to converse with the Natives; I found, I say, that in a solemn Conference he had with some of the more Eminent and Philoso∣phical Doctors of the Chineses Reli∣gion, they frankly profest, that they Believe the Heavenly Bodies to be truely Divine, and to be Wor∣shipp'd, and that upon this particu∣lar Ground, That they imparted to Men such good things, as Light, Heat, Rain, &c. and the Producti∣ons and Consequences of these. And this Belief they declar'd, they thought more Rational, than that Page  93 of the Europeans, who Worship a Deity, whose neither Shape, nor Colour, nor Motion, nor Efficacy on Sublunary things, were at all visible. It agrees very well with the Opinion of the Ancient Greeks, who, as Origen relates,* call'd the Sun, Moon, and the Stars 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Conspicuous and Sensible Gods. And we are taught by Eusebius, that the Ancient Aegyp∣tian Theologizers,* whose Religion was neer of kin to that of the Chaldeans, if not borrow'd of it, look'd upon the Sun and Moon, whom they Worshipp'd under the Names of Osiris and Isis, not only as the Chief Gods, but as the Makers and Governours of much, if not of all, of the rest of the Universe.

Page  94 I will not here enquire, whether these Old Heathen Philosophers did, besides the Stars and other Beings, that they ador'd as Gods, Believe one only Numen or Supream Deity. But that may suffice for my present purpose, which seems manifest, viz. that they ascrib'd to Sensible Beings, Attributes peculiar to the True God; that this was occasion'd by their thinking them Intelligent and Governing, and that these Inferiour Beings were, by far, the most usual and familiar Objects both of their Discourses and their Worship, and that they did (to use the Phrase of the Apostle of the Gentiles) Wor∣ship the Creature besides, or more than, (for the Greek Word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 may signifie either) the Creator,* who by Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, expresly declares a dislike of this Worship, and even in that more specious and seemingly excuse∣able kind of it, which was in use among the Ten Tribes, that Pro∣fess'd, Page  95 and perhaps Believ'd, their Worship to be directed to the one Supream God, and him the true God of Israel. But this also upon the By.

This Belief, that the World and divers of its Principal Parts,* as the Sun, Moon, Stars, &c. were animated and endowed with Intel∣ligent Minds, was so Contagious, that, not only it help'd to seduce the Emperor Iulian from Chri∣stianity to Heathen∣ism, (insomuch that He gives the Sun solemn Thanks for His Advancement to the Roman Mo∣narchy;) but it infected very Lear∣ned Men among the Iews and Chri∣stians. Of the former, I shall need to name but two; the first being the Famousest and Judiciousest of the Ancienter Rabbins, Maimonides, in whom, I confess, I wonder'd to find Page  96 this Assertion, That the Sun and Stars were animated Be∣ings,* endow'd with Understanding and Will: And the other, being-reputed the Chief and the most Learned of the Mo∣derns, Menasseh Ben Israel, (with whom I have Convers'd at Amsterdam) who in his Problems,*De Creatione; hath this notable Passage.—Quod de Intelligentiis tradunt id vero mera Fabula est; nam Coeli, secundum Rabbi Mosem, & rei veritatem, ha∣bent animas proprias rationali vita praeditas, sicut alibi à me demonstrabi∣tur. And a Greater Man than Mai∣monides, Origen him∣self,* among the Chri∣stians, not only in one place adventures to say, Siquidem etiam Coelestes Stellae Animalia sunt Rationalia, virtute praedit illustrata Cognitionis Lumine, à S•••entia illa quae est Splendor aeterni Luminis; but in another proceeds so far, that I Page  97 found (not without surprize) that He says, The Christi∣ans sing Hymns to God the Lord of all,* and God the Word; no otherwise than do the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and the whole Heavenly Host, since all these, be∣ing a Heavenly Quire, do with just Men celebrate the Supream God, and his only Begotten [Son.] The Boldness of these unjustified Paradoxes I the the less wonder at, when I consider, what has for many Ages been taught by the School Philosophers, from Aristotle; namely, that the Coele∣stial Spheres had their peculiar Intel∣ligences, that is, Rational, Immor∣tal, Powerful and Active Beings. 'Tis true, that in the Jews and Christians, I have been speaking of; the malignity of the Error, they em∣brac'd, was Corrected and Master'd by the sound and Orthodox Princi∣ples they held together with it. But still 'tis dangerous for those, that would be Loyal to Him,* that styles himself a Iea∣lous Page  98 God, to Adopt Premises that have been able to Mis-lead such Great Persons, and from which many Fa∣mous Philosophers have plausibly enough drawn Consequences very repugnant to true Religion. Nor are Christians themselves so much out of danger of being seduc'd by these Heathenish Notions, about an Intel∣ligent World, but that (not again to mention the Apostate Emperor) even in these times there is lately sprung up a Sect of Men, as well professing Christianity, as pretending to Philo∣sophy; who (if I be not mis-in∣form'd of their Doctrine) do very much symbolize with the Ancient Heathens, and talk much indeed of God, but mean such a One, as is not really distinct from the Anima∣ted and Intelligent Universe; but is, on that account, very differing from the True God, that we Chri∣stians Believe and Worship. And, though I find the Leaders of this Sect to be look'd upon, by some more Witty than Knowing Men, as Page  99 the Discoverers of unheard of My∣steries in Physicks and Natural The∣ology; yet their Hypothesis does not at all appear to me to be new, especial∣ly when I remember, besides the Pas∣sages of the Ancients, cited in this Paper, some others of the same Im∣port, such as is particularly that of Lucan.

Estque Dei sedes, ubi Terra, & Pontus, & Aer,
Et Coelum, & Virtus: Superos quid quaerimus ultra?
Iupiter est quodcunque vides, quocunque moveris.

The great Affinity between the Soul of the World, so much talk'd of among the Heathen Philosophers, and the thing that Men call Nature, makes it fit for me to take notice, in this place, of the Influence which the Belief of that Imaginary Soul had upon the Gentiles with reference to Religion.

That divers of the Ancient Phi∣losophers held the World to be Ani∣mated, Page  100 hath been observed by more than one Learned Man. But that which makes more for my present purpose, is, that the same Old Sa∣ges did also (at least for the most part) Believe, that this Mundane Soul was not barely a Living, but a most Intelligent and wisely Active Being. This may be easily enough discerned by him, that shall heed∣fully peruse Diogenes Laertius's Lives of the Philosophers, and particular∣ly of Zeno. But at present I shall rather make use of an Author, who, though he be very seldom cited for Philosophical History, seems to me to have been very well vers'd in it. The Writer I mean, is the Acute Sceptick Sextus Empiricus, (who is thought to have lived about Plu∣tarch's time, and by some, to have been his Nephew;) who recites a long Ratiocination of Xenophon, which, whether it be solid or not, is at least ingenious and plausible, but too pro∣lix to be Transcrib'd in this place, where it may suffice to say, that he Page  101 thus concludes: Est ergo Mundus mente praeditus & In∣telligens,* &c. which Assertion Sextus him∣self thus proposes for him; Si non esset aliqua Mens in Mun∣do, neque ulla Mens in te esset. Est autem in te Mens aliqua; ergo est etiam in Mundo. Et Ideo Mundus est Mente & Intelligentia praeditus. The same Sceptick introduces Zeno Cit∣tiens. discoursing thus; quod immittit semen ejus quod est particeps rationis, est ipsum quoque rationis particeps. Mun∣dus autem emittit Semen ejus quod est particeps rationis; est ergo Mundus ra∣tionis particeps. To which Testi∣monies I might add many others out of the same Author, who, in the same Discourse, tells us, That the Stoicks held the World to be an Ani∣mal. But the Opinion that the Old Philosophers, we have been speaking of, held of the World's being en∣dowed with an Understanding or Rational Soul, will be yet more evi∣dent by what I now proceed to al∣ledge, to manifest how this Opinion Page  102 of theirs led them to the Worship of another, than the True God.

Sextus Empiricus, in the lately ci∣ted Discourse of Xenophon, infers from the Worlds being an Intelligent Being, that it is also a Divine One; for to the lately recited Conclusion, Est ergo Mundus mente praeditus & intelligens, he immediate∣ly subjoins this Other,*Et ideo Deus. And alittle after, repeating their Discourse that defended this Argumentation of Xenophon against an Objection, he concludes their Reasoning thus; Ideo Mundus est mente & Intelligentia prae∣ditus: Cum sit autem Mente & Intelli∣gentia praeditus, est etiam Deus. Quem∣admodum (says also Phurnutus the Philosopher,) nos anima gubernamur, sic & Mundus animam habet, quae vin∣dicet illum ab interitu; & haec vocatur Iupiter. To which agrees that in Cicero's Academick Questions; Mun∣dum esse sapientem, & habere mentem, quae seipsam Fabricata sit, & omnia moderatur, regat. And the Reason∣ing of the Stoicks in St. Augustin is ve∣ry Page  103 ryclear to the same purpose;*Dicunt (saith he, speaking of the Embracers of that Sect) om∣nia Sidera partes Iovis esse, & omnia vivere atque rationales animas habere, & ideo sine Controversia Deos esse. And Socrates is introduc'd by Aristo∣phanes, as no less than Invocating the Air and the Aether together, in these words.

O Rex, O Imperator, Aer vaste, quae Terram contines suspensam,
Nec non splendide Aether.

Which brings into my Mind that plain Confession of the Poet Mani∣lius.

Qua pateat, Mundum divino Nu∣mine verti,
Atque ipsum esse Deum.

To all these I shall add that notable and express Passage of the Elder Pliny; Mundum & hoc quod alio nomine Coelum appellare li∣buit, cujus circumflexu teguntur omnia, Numen esse credi par est, aeternum, im∣mensum, Page  104 neque genitum, neque interi∣turum unquam. Sacer est, aeternus, immensus, totus in toto, vero ipse to∣tum, finitus & infinito similis, extra, intra, cuncta complexus in se, idemque Naturae opus, & rerum ipsa Natura.

If it be objected, that the Passages, I have cited out of Heathen Philoso∣phers, concern the Soul of the World, and not Nature; I Answer, that the Affinity of these Two is so great, that divers of the Old Sages seem to have confounded them, and not to have made account of any other Vniver∣sal Nature, than the Soul of the World. And however, the great and pernicious Errors they were led into, by the Belief that the Universe itself, and many of its nobler Parts, besides Men, were endowed, not only with Life, but Understanding and Providence, may suffice to make us Christians very Jealous of admitting such a Being, as that which Men venerate under the Name of Nature: Since they ascribe to it as many wonderful Powers and Prerogatives, Page  105 as the Idolaters did to their Ador'd Mundane Soul. But I shall give a further Answer to the above pro∣pos'd Objection, if I can shew, how Sacrilegiously they abus'd the Being we are speaking of, as well under the very Name of Nature, as under that of the Soul of the World. On this occasion I remember a Passage in*Seneca, that I did not expect to meet with, where, speaking of some Ethnick Opinions about Thunder, Non Iovem, (says he) qualem in Ca∣pitolio colimus, fulmina mittere, sed custodem rectoremque Vniversi, animam ac Spiritum Mundani hujus Operis Do∣minum & Artificem, cui nomen omne convenit. To which, within a few lines after, he adds, Vis illam Natu∣ram vocare? Non peccabis, est enim ex quo nata sunt omnia, cujus Spiritu vivimus. Vis illam vocare Mundum? Non falleris, ipse enim est totum quid, totus suis partibus inditus & se susti∣nens vi sua. And the same Author else∣where,*Page  106Nihil (says he) Natura sine Deo est, nec Deus sine Natura, sed idem est Vterque. And, in another of the Roman Sages, we have this Passage; Natura est Igitur quae con∣tinet Mundum omnem, eumque tuetur, & quidem non sine sensu ac ratione. And the Opinion, not of a Private Philosopher, but of the Sect of Sto∣icks, is thus delivered by Lactantius:*Isti uno Naturae nomine res di∣versissimas comprehenderunt, Deum & Mundum, Artificem & Opus, dicunique alterum sine altero nihil posse, tanquam Natura sit Deus Mundo permistus. Nam inter dum sic confundunt, ut sit Deus ipsa mens Mundi, & Mundus sit Corpus Dei; quasi vero simul esse caepe∣rint Mundus & Deus. And, to let you see, that in this our Free En∣quiry, I do not, without Cause, here and there style Nature sometimes a Semi-Deity, and sometimes a God∣dess, and talk of some Mens Idolizing Her; I shall here annex part of a Hymn of Orpheus's, address'd imme∣diately to Nature.

Page  107〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. which his Interpreter thus renders into Latin;

O Natura omnium Mater Dea, artificiosa admodum Dea,
Suscitatrix honorabilis, multa creans, Divina Regina,
Omnidomans, indomita guberna∣trix, ubique splendens.

And after a few Lines;

Aetheria, Terrestiis, & Marina Regina, &c.
I know Aristotle, and his Commen∣tators, do not so directly Idolize Na∣ture, as did Orpheus (or whoever was the Antient Author of the Hymns, that bear his Name;) but yet I doubt they pass further than they can justifie, when they so freely and often assert, that Natura est sapientis∣sima, that Opus Naturae est opus Intelli∣gentiae, that Natura fine suo nunquam excidit, that Natura semper quod opti∣mum est facit, (to which may be added other-like Axioms:) And when they most commonly call the Works of God, the Works of Nature,Page  108 and mention Him and her together, not as a Creator and a Creature, but as two Co-ordinate Governors, like the two Roman Consuls; as when they say frequently, and without scruple, (what I find to have been first by Aristotle himself)▪ that Deus & Natura nihil faci∣unt frustra;* to which Phrase may agree that Expression of Ovid, where, speaking of the Chaos, whilst the Bodies, that compos'd it, lay shuffled together, and were not yet pack'd, he says,
Hanc Deus & melior litem Natu∣ra diremit.

To the recital of the Irreligious Errors of the Ancient Heathens, about the Divinity of the World, and some of its Principal Parts, as the Sun, Moon, Stars, Aether, &c. I should add a redargution of them; if I thought it necessary, in this place, solemnly to refute Opinions, some of which are altogether precarious, and others very improbable. Those GreekPage  109 and Latin Philosophers, that held the Sun to be a Fire, were much at a loss to find out Fuel to maintain the Flame. But those Zabians and Chal∣deans that thought him indow'd, not only with a living Soul, but with Understanding and Will, must, if they had duly consider'd things, have ben much more puzzled, to find not only Food for so vast a Body, (above 160 times bigger than the Terraque∣ous Globe) but to find in him the Or∣gans necessary to the preparation and digestion of that Food, and to the other Functions that belong to Animal-Nutrition. And, if we ad∣mit the Cartesian Hypothesis, the Way whereby the Sun, fix'd Stars, and Planets, are Generated, will suffici∣ently manifest them to be neither In∣telligent nor Living Bodies. And, perhaps, I could here propose a quite other Hypothesis, about the Nature of the Sun, and the Fuel of its Fire, that may be countenanc'd by some Phaenomena and Experiments, with∣out making him other than an Igne∣ous, Page  110 and altogether Inanimate Body, whose Flame needs to be repair'd by Fuel furnish'd to it nearer hand, than from the Sea or Earth. But I pur∣posely omit such Objections against the Opinion I oppose, as, though drawn from the Dictates of sound Philosophy, about the Origine of things, may be question'd without being to be clear'd in few words. 'Tis also without proof, that 'tis pre∣sum'd and asserted, That the Coe∣lestial Bodies, newly mention'd, are indow'd with Understanding and Prudence, especially, so as to be able to know the particular Con∣ditions and Transactions of Men, and hear and grant the Prayers of their Worshippers. And the Moon, which was one of their Principal Deities, and by them prefer'd before all the other Planets and Stars, the Sun ex∣cepted, is so Rude and Mountainous a Body, that 'tis a wonder that Specu∣lative Men, who consider'd how ma∣ny, how various, and how noble Functions belong to a sensitive Soul, Page  111 could think, a Lump or Mass of Mat∣ter, so very remote from being fitly Organiz'd, should be Animated and Govern'd by a true living & sensitive Soul. I know that both these Deifi∣ers of the Coelestial Globes, and also the Heathen Disciples of Ari∣stotle, besides divers of the same mind, even among the Christians, say great and lofty things of the Quintessential Nature of the Heaven∣ly Bodies, and their consequent Incor∣ruptibility; of the Regularity of their Motions, and of their Divine Quality of Light, that makes them refulgent. But the persuasion they had, of this Quintessential Nature of the Superior Part of the World, was not, if I guess aright, grounded upon any solid Physical Reason, but was entertain'd by them for its Congrui∣ty to the Opinion they had of the Di∣vinity of the Coelestial Bodies: Of which, Aristotle him∣self,* especially in his Books De Coelo, speaks in such a way, as hath not a little con∣tributed, Page  112 among his Followers; to such an excessive Veneration for those Bo∣dies, as is neither agreeable to true Philosophy, nor friendly to true Re∣ligion. He himself takes notice, that the Pythagoreans held our Earth to be One of the Planets,* and that it moved about the Sun, which they plac'd in the middle of the World. And since this Hypothesis, of the Earths Motion, was in the last Age reviv'd by Copernicus, not only those great Men Keplerus, Galileo, and Gassendus, but most of the best Modern Astronomers; and, besides Des-Cartes and his Sect, many other Naturalists have imbrac'd this Hypo∣thesis: Which, indeed, is far more agreeable to the Phaenomena, not only than the Doctrine of Aristotle, (who was plainly mistaken about the Or∣der and Consistence of the Heavens) but than the Ancient and generally received Ptolomaick System. Now, supposing the Terraqueous Globe to be a Planet, he that considers, that 'tis Page  113 but a round Mass of very Heteroge∣neous Substances, (as appears by the differing Natures of its great constituent Parts, Land and Sea) whose Surface is very rude and une∣ven, and its Body opacous, unless as it happens to be inlightned by the the Sun, Moon, and Stars, and so very Inorganical for so much as Nu∣trition, that it seems wholly unfit to be a living Animal, much less a Rati∣onal one. I say, he that considers such things will scarce be forward to ascribe Understanding and Provi∣dence, much less a Divine Nature, to the other Stars. As for Instance, to the Moon, which our best Tele∣scopes manifest to be a very Craggy and Mountainous Body, consisting of Parts of very differing Textures, (as appears by her brighter Parts and permanent Spots) and which of herself is Opacous, having no ma∣nifest Light, but what she borrows from the Sun, and perhaps from the Earth.

Page  114 As for the boasted Immutability of the Heavenly Bodies, besides that it may be very probably call'd in question by the Phaenomena of some (for I do not say every one) of the Comets, that by their Parallax were found to be above the Moon, and consequently in the Coelestial Region of the World; besides this, I say, the Incorruptibleness and Im∣mutability of the Heavenly Bodies is more than probably disproveable by the sudden and irregular Genera∣tion, Changes and Destruction, of the Spots of the Sun: Which are sometimes so suddenly destroyed, that, I remember, in the Year 1660. on the 8th of May, having left in the Morning a Spot, whose Moti∣ons we had long observ'd through an excellent Telescope, with an expe∣ctation, that it would last many days visible to us, we were surpriz'd to find, that when we came to observe it again in the Evening, it was quite dissipated, though it seemed thick; and by comparing it to the Sun, we Page  115 estimated the extent of its Surface to be equal to that of all Europe. As to the constancy of the motions of the Stars; if the Earth, which we know to be Inanimated, be a Planet, it moves as constantly and regularly about the Sun, (in that which they call the Great Orb,) as the other Planets do, or as the Moon doth about the Earth. And I consider, that though we should suppose our Globe not to be a Planet, yet there would mani∣festly be a constant motion, and Re∣gular enough, of a great Part of it: Since (bating some Anomali's, that Shores, Winds, and some other Ex∣trinsick things, occasion,) there is a Regular Ebbing and Flowing twice a Day, and also Spring-Tides twice a Month, of that vast Aggregate of Waters, the Ocean; which per∣haps is not inferior in Bulk to the whole Body of the Moon, and whereof also vast Tracts are some∣times observed to Shine.

And Lastly, Whereas a great Proof of the Divinity of the Stars Page  116 is taken from their Light; though I grant it to be the noblest of Sensible Qualities, yet I cannot think it a good proof of the Divine, or very Excellent, Nature of Bodies endow'd with it, whether they be Coelestial or not. For whereas the Zabians and Chaldeans Consider'd and Ador'd the Planets, as the Chief Gods, our Telescopes discover to us, that, ex∣cept the Sun, (if he be one, rather than a Fix'd Star) they Shine but by a borrow'd Light; in so much that Venus, as vividly Luminous as it ap∣pears to the naked Eye, is some∣times seen (as I have beheld it) Horn'd like the Moon in no long time after her Change. And at this rate also the Earth, whether it be a Planet or no, is a Luminous Body, being enlightned by the Sun: And possibly, as a Body forty times big∣ger, communicates more Light to the Moon, than it receives from Her, as is probably Argued from the Light seen on the Surface of the Moon in some of Her Eclipses. And, Page  117 though in the Night, when the dark∣ness hath widened the Pupils of our Eyes, and the Moon Shines with an unrival'd Lustre, she seems exceeding Bright, yet she may be, for ought I know, more Opacous than the solid Part of the Terrestrial Globe. For I remember, that I have more than once heedfully observ'd a small Cloud in the West, where the Moon then was, about Sun-set; and comparing them together, the little Cloud, as Opacous and Loose a Body as it was, reflected the Light as strongly to my Eye, as did the Moon, that seem'd perhaps to be not far from It, both of them appearing like little whitish Clouds, though afterwards, as the Sun descended lower and low∣er beneath the Horizon, the Moon grew more and more Luminous. And, speaking of Light Indfienitely, 'tis so far from Arguing a Divine Na∣ture in the Bodies that are endow'd with it, whether, as the Planets, by participation from an External Illu∣minant, or as the Sun, from an In∣ternal Page  118 Principle; that a burn'd Stone, witness that of Bolonia, will afford, in proportion to its Bulk, incompa∣rably more borrow'd Light than one of the Planets. And a Light from its Internal Constitution may be found, not only in such abject Crea∣tures as Insects, whether winged, as the Cucupias of Hispaniola, or creep∣ing, as our Glow-worms; but also in Bodies Inanimate and Corrupted, as in rotten Wood, in stinking Whi∣tings, and divers other putrify'd Fishes. I cannot now stay to En∣quire, how the Zabians, and such Idolaters as they, could make out the Connexion, Symmetry, and Subordination or Dependance of the several Parts of the World, com∣pos'd of so many different and di∣stant Beings, endowed not only with Animal Souls, but with their Distinct and Peculiar Understandings and Wills, and many of them also with Divine Nature. Nor shall I consider, how strange a Monster, rather than an Animal and a Deity, those many Page  119 Heathen Philosophers and their Ad∣herents must make of the Universe, who held it to be but one; and yet were of the Paradoxical Opinion, that (as hath been elsewhere noted) is roundly profess'd by Stobaeus, at the very beginning of his Physical Eclogues, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. i. e. Iupiter (quidem) totus Mundus est: Animal ex Animalibus; Numen ex Numini∣bus compositum.

These, I say, and the like Obje∣ctions against the Pagan Doctrine, I must not now insist on, because I perceive that I have slipp'd into a somewhat long Digression, which yet perhaps may not be altogether un∣seasonable or useless,) which there∣fore I shall here break off, to resume and conclude the Discourse, that this Section was allotted to, which I might easily have enlarg'd, but I presume there is enough said in it already, to let you see, that 'tis a dangerous thing to Believe other Creatures, than Angels and Men, to be Intelligent and Rational; espe∣cially Page  120 to afcribe to any of them an Architectonick, Provident and Go∣verning Power. And though I rea∣dily acknowledge, that that there is no great danger, that well Instructed Christians should, like some Hea∣thens, Worship Nature as a Goddess; yet the things I formerly alledg'd, to shew it unsafe to cherish Opini∣ons, of kin to those that mis-led a Multitude even of Philosophers, make me fear too many, and not a few of the Learned themselves, may have a Veneration for what they call Nature, much greater than belongs to a meer Creature: If they do not, to use a Scripture Expres∣ssion,*Worship the Crea∣ture, above or besides the Creator, who, and not the World, nor the Soul of It, is the True God. And though I should grant, that the received Notion of Nature doth neither subvert, nor much endan∣ger any Principle of Religion: Yet that is not enough for the purpose of those Naturists I Reason with, Page  121 since they are here supposed to make it a fault in others, not to ascribe to the Nature they Venerate, as much as themselves do: And they represent their own Notion of it, not only as Innocent, but as very Useful, if not necessary to Religion.]