( Eugenius Philalethes )
( Eugenius Philalethes )
OR A DISCOURSE OF THE NATURE OF MAN AND HIS STATE AFTER DEATH
[ Adapted from Arthur Edward WAITE: The Works of Thomas Vaughan ; Theosophical Publishing House, London 1919 --- Footnotes have been deleted because of countless barbarisms commited against the Greek and Latin by the scanner OCR ( http://www.archive.org/details/worksofthomasvau00vauguoft )]
TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND TRULY
REGENERATED BRETHREN R. C.
ELDERS OF ELECTION AND PEACEABLE APOSTLES OF THE CHURCH IN THIS
SALUTATION FROM THE CENTRE OF PEACE
SEEING that the freedom of the High Altar is granted to the High Priest alone, not without sacrilege may this overdaring offering seem to be thrust upon you. Even devotion hath its limits. Those who approach unbidden may be charged with presumption rather than loyalty, and such as those were satirised in that old gigantomachia of the poets which sought to take heaven by storm. Nor are fatuous and befogged sparklings wanting in our own day who deem that they are stars and are thought equal to the sun. May such arrogance and climax of ambition be far from Eugenius. ' It were surely to pile Pelion upon Ossa. Most noble Brethren, I stand in the Court of the Temple, nor is my offering placed on the altar but laid in modesty at the threshold. Should my tribute be demanded, I wish to offer you such gifts as ages and generations to come may liken to the Arpine scrolls. Do not deem that I despair. Peradventure in days remote there shall rise up those who will prize this my torchlet even as Tuscan suns. And indeed I am an associate of Cicero, since our office aspires to the same everlasting renown. I have roamed like the bees --- not those of Quintilian in a poisoned field --- tasting celestial flowers, which draw their sweetness from the hills of spices. If here there be aught of honey, I set before you this honeycomb and beehive. But roses are commonly soiled on the breasts of many : perchance also this handful is stained, for it is of my gathering. Be it granted that the errors are of Eugenius : the rest is of truth. Yet what profits this witness to the truth for you upright ones, who behold in open day the threefold record of the Spirit, the Water and the Blood ? No voice of help is this, but needless rather. Wise is he who keeps silence in the sight of heaven. Receive therefore, most illustrious Brethren, this my mite, not as that which I would bring you but as all that I have. My goodwill is in my willing service. My poverty prays further regard not the gift itself but the obedience of
Your Suppliant,EUGENIUS PHILALETHES.OXFORD, 1648.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER
I LOOK on this life as the progress of an essence royal : the soul but quits her court to see the country. Heaven hath in it a scene of earth, and had she been contented with ideas she had not travelled beyond the map. But excellent patterns commend their mimes : Nature that was so fair in the type could not be a slut in the anaglyph. This makes her ramble hither, to examine the medal by the flask ; but whiles she scans their symmetry she forms it. Thus her descent speaks her original. God in love with His own beauty frames a glass, to view it by reflection. But the frailty of the matter excluding eternity, the composure was subject to dissolution. Ignorance gave this release the name of death, but properly it is the soul's birth and a charter that makes for her liberty. She hath several ways to break up house, but her best is without a disease. This is her mystical walk, an exit only to return. When she takes air at this door, it is without prejudice to her tenement. The magicians tell me that the soul passes out of one mode and enters another: Some have examined this and state it an expense of influences, as if the soul exercised her royalty at the eye or had some blind jurisdiction at the pores. But this is to measure magical positions by the slight, superficial strictures of the ccfmmon philosophy. It is an age of intellectual slaveries : if they meet anything extraordinary, they prune it commonly with distinctions or daub it with false glosses, till it looks like the traditions of Aristotle. His followers are so confident of his principles they seek not to understand what others speak but to make others speak what they understand. It is in Nature as it is in religion : we are still hammering of old elements but seek not the America that lies beyond them. The apostle tells us of leaving the first principles of the Doctrine of Christ and going on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works ; and of faith towards God ; of the doctrine of Baptism and laying on of hands ; of resurrection and the eternal judgment. Then he speaks of illumination, of tasting of the heavenly gift, of being partakers of the Holy Ghost, of tasting of the good word of God and the powers of the world to come. Now, if I should question any sect --- for there is no communion in Christendom --- whither these later intimations drive, they can but return me to the first rudiments or produce some empty pretence of spirit. Our natural philosophers are much of a cast with those that step into the prerogative of prophets and antedate events in configurations and motions. This is a consequence of as much reason as if I saw the Swede exercising and would find his designs in his postures. Friar Bacon walked in Oxford between two steeples, but he that would have discovered his thoughts by his steps had been more his fool than his fellow.
The Peripatetics when they define the soul, or some inferior principle, describe it only by outward circumstances, which every child can do ; but they state nothing essentially. Thus they dwell altogether in the face ; their endeavours are mere titillations ; and their acquaintance with Nature is not at the heart. Notwithstanding, I acknowledge the schoolmen ingenious : they conceive their principles irregular and prescribe rules for method, though they want matter. Their philosophy is like a church that is all discipline and no doctrine ; for bate me their prolegomena, their form of arguing, their reciting of different opinions, with several other digressions, and the substance of these Tostati will scarce amount to a Mercury. Besides their Aristotle is a poet in text ; his principles are but fancies, and they stand more on our concessions than his bottom. Hence it 'is that his followers --- notwithstanding the assistance of so many ages--- can fetch nothing out of him but notions ; and these indeed they use, as he saith Lycophron did his epithets, not as spices but as food. Their compositions are a mere tympany of terms. It is better than a fight in Quixote to observe what duels and digladiations they have about him. One will make him speak sense, another nonsense and a third both. Aquinas palps him gently, Scotus makes him wince, and he is taught like an ape to shew several tricks. If we look on his adversaries, the least among them hath foiled him ; but Telesius knocked him on the head and Gampanella hath quite discomposed him. But as that bold haunter of the circus had his skull so steeled with use, it shivered all the tiles were thrown at it, so this Aristotle thrives by scuffles and the world cries him up when truth cries him down.
The Peripatetics look on God as they do on carpenters, who build with stone and timber, without any infusion of life. But the world --- which is God's building --- is full of spirit, quick and living. This spirit is the cause of multiplication, of several perpetual productions of minerals, vegetables and creatures engendered by putrefaction --- all which are manifest, infallible arguments of life. Besides, the texture of the universe clearly discovers its animation. The earth --- which is the visible, natural basis of --- it represents the gross, carnal parts. The element of water answers to the blood, for in it the pulse of the Great World beats : this most men call the flux and reflux, but they know not the true cause of it. The air is the outward refreshing spirit, where this vast creature breathes --- though invisibly, yet not altogether insensibly. The interstellar skies are his vital, ethereal waters and the stars his animal, sensual fire. Thou wilt tell me perhaps : This is new philosophy, and that of Aristotle is old. It is indeed, but in the same sense as religion is at Rome. It is not the primitive truth of the creation, not the ancient, real theosophy of the Hebrews and Egyptians, but a certain preternatural upstart, a vomit of Aristotle, which his followers --- with so much diligence --- lick up and swallow... I present thee not here with any clamorous opposition of their patron but a positive express of principles as I find them in Nature. I may say of them as Moses said of the FIAT : "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." They are things beyond reasoning --- sensible, practical truths, not mere vagaries and rambles of the brain. I would not have thee look on my endeavours as a design of captivity. I intend not the conquest but the exercise of thy reason, not that, thou shouldst swear allegiance to my dictates but compare my conclusions with Nature and examine their correspondence. Be pleased to consider that obstinacy enslaves the soul and clips the wings which God gave her for flight and discovery. If thou wilt not quit thy Aristotle, let not any prejudice hinder thy further search. Great is their number who perhaps had attained to perfection, had they not already thought themselves perfect. This is my advice but how welcome to thee I know not. If thou wilt kick and fling, I shall say with the Cardinal : " My ass also kicks up his heels." It is an age wherein truth is near a miscarriage, and it is enough for me that I have appeared thus far for it in a day of necessity.
WHEN I found out this truth, that man in his original was a branch planted in God and that there was a continual influx from the stock to the scion, I was much troubled at his corruptions and wondered his fruits were not correspondent to his root. But when I was told he had tasted of another tree my admiration was quickly off, it being my chief care to reduce him to his first simplicity and separate his mixtures of good and evil. But his Fall had so bruised him in his best part that his soul had no knowledge left to study him a cure. His punishment presently followed his trespass : " all things were hidden and oblivion, the mother of ignorance, entered in." This Lethe remained not in his body but, passing together with his nature, made his posterity her channel. Imperfection's an easy inheritance, but virtue seldom finds any heirs. Man had at the first --- and so have all souls before their entrance into the body --- an explicit methodical knowledge; but they are no sooner vested but that liberty is lost and nothing remains but a vast, confused notion of the creature. Thus had I only left a capacity without power and a will to do that which was far enough above me. In this perplexity I studied several arts and rambled over all those inventions which the folly of man called sciences. But these endeavours suiting not to my purpose, I quitted this book business and thought it a better course to study Nature .than opinion. Hereupon I considered with myself that man was not the primitive, immediate work of God, but the world out of which he was made. And to regulate my studies in point of method, I judged it convenient to examine his principles first and not him. But the world in general being too large for inquisition, I resolved to take part for the whole and to give a guess at the frame by proportion. To perfect this my essay I took to task the fruits of one spring. Here I observed a great many vegetables, fresh and beauteous in their time ; but when I looked back on their original they were no such things as vegetables. This observation I applied to the world and gained by it this inference that the world in the beginning was no such thing as it is, but some other seed or matter out of which that fabric which I now behold did arise. But resting not here I drove my conclusion further. I conceived those seeds whereof vegetables did spring must be something else at first than seeds, as having some pre-existent matter whereof they were made, but what that matter should be I could not guess. Here was I forced to leave off speculation and come up to experience. Whiles I sought the world I went beyond it, and I was now in quest of a substance which --- without art --- I could not see. Nature wraps this most strangely in her very bosom, neither doth she expose it to anything but her own vital, celestial breath. But in respect that Qod Almighty is the only proper, immediate Agent which actuates this Matter --- as well in the work of generation as formerly in His creation --- it will not be amiss to speak something of Him, that we may know the Cause by His creatures and the creatures by their Cause.
My God, my life, Whose essence man
Is no way fit to know or scan,
But should approach Thy court a guest
In thoughts more low than his request :
When I consider how I stray,
Methinks, 'tis pride in me to pray.
How dare I speak to Heaven, nor fear
In all my sins to court Thy ear ?
But as I look on moles that lurk
In blind entrenchments and there work
Their own dark prisons to repair,
Heaving the earth to take in air ---
So view my fetter'd soul, that must
Struggle with this her load of dust ;
Meet her address and add one ray
To this mew'd parcel of Thy day.
She would --- though here imprisoned --- see,
Through all her dirt, Thy throne and Thee.
Lord, guide her out of this sad night
And say once more : Let there be light.
It is God's own positive truth. " In the beginning " --- that is, in that dead silence, in that horrible and empty darkness when as yet nothing was fashioned then saith the Lord --- " did I consider these things, and they all were made through Me alone, and through none other : by Me also they shall be ended, and by none other." That meditation foreruns every solemn work is a thing so well known to man that he needs no further demonstration of it than his own practice. That there is also in God something analogical to it, from whence man derived this customary notion of his, as it is most agreeable to reason, so withal is it very suitable to Providence. " The gods " --- saith Iamblichus --- "did conceive the whole work within themselves before it was brought forth by them.' And the Spirit here to Esdras : " Then did I consider these things." He considered them first and made them afterwards. God in His eternal idea foresaw that whereof as yet there was no material copy. The goodness and beauty of the one moved Him to .create the other, and truly the image of this prototype, being embosomed in the second, made Him so much in love with His creature that when sin had defaced it, He restored it by the suffering of that pattern by which at first it was made. Dionysius the Areopagite, who lived in the primitive times, and received the Mysteries of Divinity immediately from the Apostles, styles God the Father sometimes "the arcanum of Divinity," sometimes "that hidden, supersubstantial Being " ; and elsewhere he compares Him to a root whose flowers are the Second and Third Persons. This is true, for God the Father is the basis or supernatural foundation of His creatures ; God the Son is the pattern, in Whose express image they were made ; and God the Holy Ghost is the Creator Spirit, or the Agent Who framed the creature in a just symmetry to his Type. This consideration or Type God hath since used in the performance of inferior works. Thus in the institution of His temple He commands Moses to the mount, where the Divine Spirit shews him the idea of the future fabric. " And let them make Me a sanctuary ; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.'" Thus the Divine Mind doth instruct us " by setting forth ideas as by a kind of self-extension beyond Itself," and sometimes more particularly in dreams. To Nebuchadnezzar He presents a tree strong and high, reaching to the heavens " and the sight thereof to the ends of all the earth." To Pharaoh he shews seven ears of corn. To Joseph He appears in sheaves and then resembles the sun, moon and stars. To conclude, He may express Himself by what He will, for in Him are innumerable, eternal prototypes, and He is the true fountain and treasure of forms.
But that we may come at last to the scope proposed : God fhe Father is the Metaphysical, Supercelestial Sun ; the Second Person is the Light ; and the Third is Fiery Love, or a Divine Heat proceeding from both. Now, without the presence of this Heat there is no reception of the Light and by consequence no influx from the Father of Lights. For this Love is the medium which unites the Lover to that which is beloved, and probably 'tis the Platonic's " Chief Daimon, Who doth unite us with the Prefects of Spirits." I could speak much more of the offices of this Loving Spirit, but these are "grand mysteries of God and Nature " and require not our discussion so much as our reverence. Here also I might speak of that Supernatural Generation whereof Trismegistus : " The Monad begetteth the Monad and doth reflect upon itself its own fervour." ' But I leave this to the Almighty God as 'His own essential, central mystery. It is my only intention in this place to handle exterior actions, or the process of the Trinity from the centre to the circumference ; and that I may the better do it you are to understand that God --- before His work of creation --- was wrapped up and contracted in Himself. In this state the Egyptians style Him the Solitary Monad and the Kabalists Dark Aleph ; but when the decreed instant of creation came, then appeared Bright Aleph, and the first emanation was that of the Holy Ghost into the bosom of the matter. Thus we read that " darkness was upon the face of the deep " and " the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." ' Here you are to observe that, notwithstanding this process of the Third Person, yet was there no light, but darkness on the face of the deep, illumination properly being the office of the Second. Wherefore God also, when the matter was prepared by Love for Light, gives out His Fiat Lux, which was no creation --- as most think --- but an emanation of the Word, in Whom was life, and that life is the light of men. This is that light whereof St John speaks, that it " shineth in darkness ; and the darkness comprehended it not." But lest I seem to be singular in this point I will give you more evidence. Pymander informing Trismegistus in the work of creation tells him the self-same thing. " I am that Light, the Mind, thy God, more ancient than the watery nature which shone forth out of the shadow." And Georgius Venetus in his book De Harmonia Mundi : " Whatsoever liveth doth subsist by virtue of its inward heat. Thence that substance of heat, indifferently distributed through the world, is held to contain within itself a vital strength. Yea, Zoroaster witnesseth that all things were made out of fire when he saith : all things were produced from a single fire, from that fire, namely, which God, the dweller in the fiery essence --- as Plato hath it --- did ordain to appear in the substance of heaven and earth, at that time created rude and formless, that it might assume life and form. Hereupon the Fabricator did straightway give forth the Sit Lux, for which a mendacious rendering hath substituted Fiat Lux. For the Light is in no wise made but is communicated and admitted to things heretofore obscure, that they may be brightened and glorified in their forms."
But to proceed : No sooner had the Divine Light pierced the bosom of the matter but the idea or pattern of the whole material world appeared in those primitive waters, like an image' in a glass. By this pattern it was that the Holy Ghost framed and modelled the universal structure. This mystery or appearance of the idea is excellently manifested in the magical analysis of bodies. For he that knows how to imitate the proto-chemistry of the Spirit, by separation of the principles wherein the life is imprisoned, may see the impress of it experimentally in the outward natural vestments. But lest you should think this my invention and no practical truth I will give you another man's testimony. " I ask " --- saith one --- " what great philosophers would say if they saw the plant born as in a moment in the glass vial, with its colours as in life, if they saw it again die, again reborn, and this daily, whensoever they please ? But the power to deceive human senses is included, I believe, in the magical art of demons." They are the words of Dr Marci in his Defensio Idearum Operatricium? But you are to be admonished there is a twofold idea --- Divine and natural. The natural is a fiery, invisible, created spirit and properly a mere enclosure or vestment of the true One. Hence the Platonists called it "the nimbus of descending Divinity." Zoroaster and some other philosophers think it is the Soul of the World ; but --- by their leave --- they are mistaken. There is a wide difference betwixt Soul and Spirit. But the idea I speak of here is the true, primitive, exemplar one and a pure influence of the Almighty. This idea, before the coagulation of the seminal principles to a gross outward fabric which is the end of generation --- impresseth in the vital, ethereal principles a model or pattern after which the body is to. be framed, and this is the first inward production or draft of the creature. This is it which the Divine Spirit intimates to us in that Scripture where He saith that God created "every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." : But, notwithstanding this presence of the idea in the Matter, yet the creation was not performed " by the projection of something from the essence of the idea' : for it is God that comprehends His creature and not the creature God.
Thus far have I handled this primitive supernatural part of the creation. I must confess it is but short in respect of that which may be spoken ; but I am confident it is more than formerly hath been discovered, some authors having not searched so deeply into the centre of Nature and others not willing to publish such spiritual mysteries. I am now come to the gross work or mechanics of the Spirit, namely, the separation of several substances from the same mass. But in the first place I shall examine that limbus or huddle of matter wherein all things were so strangely contained. It is the opinion of some men, and those learned, that this sluggish, empty rudiment of the creature was no created thing. I must confess the point is obscure as the thing itself and to state it with sobriety --- except a man were illuminated with the same light that this chaos was at first --- is altogether impossible. For how can we judge of a nature different from our own, whose species also was so remote from anything now existent that it is impossible for fancy to apprehend, much more for reason to define it ? If it be created, I conceive it the effect of the Divine Imagination, acting beyond itself in contemplation of that which was to come and producing this passive darkness for a subject to work upon in the circumference. Trismegistus, having first expressed his vision of light, describes the matter in its primitive state thus : " And in a short time after " --- he saith --- " the darkness was thrust downwards, partly confused and dejected, and tortuously circumscribed, so that I appeared to behold it transformed into a certain humid substance and more agitated than words could express, vomiting forth smoke as from fire and emitting an inexpressible and lugubrious sound." Certainly these tenebre he speaks of, or fuliginous spawn of Nature, were the first created Matter, for that water we read of in Genesis was a product or secondary substance. Here also he seems to agree further with the Mosaical tradition. For this " smoke " which ascended after the transmutation can be nothing else but that darkness which was upon the face of the deep.
But, to express, the particular mode or way of the creation, you are to understand that in the Matter there was a horrible, confused qualm or stupefying spirit of moisture, cold and darkness. In the opposite principle of light there was heat and the effect of it siccity. For these two are no elemental qualities, as the Galenists and my Peripatetics suppose. But they are --- if I may say so --- the hands of the Divine Spirit, by which He did work upon the Matter, applying every agent to his proper patients. These two are active and masculine ; those of moisture and cold are passive and feminine. Now, as soon as the Holy Ghost and the Word --- for it was not the one nor the other but both, " the Formative Mind conjoined with the Word --- as Trismegistus hath it: I omit that speech, " Let us make man," which effectually proves their union in the work --- had applied themselves to the Matter, there was extracted from the bosom of it a thin, spiritual, celestial substance, which, receiving a tincture of heat and light, proceeding from the Divine Treasuries, became a pure, sincere, innoxious fire. Of this the bodies of angels consist, as also the empyreal heaven, where intellectual essences have their residence. This was " the primeval marriage of God and Nature," the first and best of compositions. This extract --- being thus settled above and separated from the mass retained in it a vast portion of light and made the first day without a sun. But the splendour of the Word expelling the darkness downwards it became more settled and compact towards the centre and made a horrible, thick night. Thus God --- as the Hebrew hath it --- was between the light and the darkness, for the Spirit remained still on the face of the inferior portion, to extract more from it. In the second separation was educed " the nimble atmosphere " --- as Trismegistus calls it --- a spirit not so refined as the former but vital and in the next degree to it. This was extracted in such abundance that it filled all the space from the mass to the e/npyreal heaven, under which it was condensed to a water, but of a different constitution from the elemental ; and this is the body of the interstellar sky. But my Peripatetics, following the principles of Aristotle and Ptolemy, have imagined so many wheels there, with their final diminutive epicycles, that they have turned that regular fabric to a rumbling, confused labyrinth.
The inferior portion of this second extract from the moon to the earth remained air still, partly to divide the inferior and superior waters, but chiefly for the respiration and nourishment of the creatures. This is that which is properly called the firmament, as it is plain out of Esdras : " Upon the second day thou madest the spirit of the firmament," for it is "the bond of all Nature," and in the outward geometrical composure it answers to "the middle substance," for it is spread through all things, hinders vacuity and keeps all the parts of Nature in a firm, invincible union. This is " the sieve of Nature," as one wittily calls it, a thing appointed for most secret and mysterious offices ; but we shall speak further of it when we come to handle the elements particularly. Nothing now remained but the two inferior principles --- as we commonly call them --- earth and water. The earth was an impure, sulphureous subsidence or caput mortuum of the creation. The water also was phlegmatic, crude and raco, not so vital as the former extractions. But the Divine Spirit, to make His work perfect, moving also upon these, imparted to them life and heat, and made them fit for future productions. The earth was so overcast and mantled with the water that no part thereof was to be seen. But that it might be the more immediately exposed to the celestial influences which are the cause of vegetation the Spirit orders a retreat of the waters, and breaks up for them His " decreed plan " and sets them " bars and doors."
The light as yet was not confined, but --- retaining its vast flux and primitive liberty --- equally possessed the whole creature. On the fourth day it was collected to a sun and taught to know his fountain. The darkness, whence proceed the corruptions and consequently the death of the creature, was imprisoned in the centre, but breaks out still when the day gives it leave, and like a baffled giant thrusts his head out of doors in the absence of his adversary. Thus Nature is a Lady whose face is beauteous but not without a black-bag. Howsoever, when it shall please God more perfectly to refine His creatures this tincture shall be expelled quite beyond them, and then it will be an outward darkness --- from which, Good Lord, deliver us.
Thus have I given you a cursory and short express of the creation in general. I shall now descend to a more particular examination of Nature and especially her inferior, elemental parts, through which man passeth daily and from which he cannot be separated. I was about to desist in this place, to prevent all future acclamations ; for when a Peripatetic finds here but three --- nay, but two genuine elements, earth and water --- for the air is something more --- will he not cry out I have committed sacrilege against Nature and stole the fire from her altar ? This is noise indeed, but till they take coach in a cloud and discover that idol they prefer next to the moon, I am resolved to continue in my heresy. I am not only of opinion but I am sure there is no such principle in Nature. The fire which she useth is " the physical and incorporeal horizon, the bond of either world and the sigil of the Holy Spirit." It is no chimera, commentitious quirck, like that of the schoolmen. I shall therefore request my friends the Peripatetics to return their fourth element to Aristotle, that he may present it to Alexander the Great as the first part of a new world, for there is no such thing in the old.
To proceed then : the earth --- as you were told before --- being the subsidence or remains of that primitive mass which God formed out of darkness, must needs be a feculent, impure body ; for the extractions which the Divine Spirit made were pure, oleous, ethereal substances, but the crude, phlegmatic, indigested humours settled like lees towards the centre. The earth is spongy, porous and magnetical, of composition loose, the better to take in the several influences of heat, rains and dews for the nurture and conservation of her products. In her is the principal residence of that matrix which attracts and receives the sperm from the masculine part of the world. She is Nature's Etna : here Vulcan doth exercise himself, not that limping poetical one which halted after his fall, but a pure, celestial, plastic fire. We have astronomy here under pur feet ; the stars are resident with us and abundance of jewels and pentauras. She is the nurse and receptacle of all things, for the superior natures engulf themselves into her ; what she receives this age she discovers to the next and like a faithful treasurer conceals no part of her account. Her proper, congenial quality is cold.
I am now to speak of the water. This is the first element we read of in Scripture, the most ancient of principles and the mother of all things amongst visibles. Without the mediation of this the earth can receive no blessing at all, for moisture is the proper cause of mixture and fusion. The water hath several complexions, according to the several parts of the creature. Here below, and in the circumference of all things, it is volatile, crude and raco. For this very cause Nature makes it no part of her provision but she rectifies it first, exhaling it up with her heat and then condensing it to rains and dews, in which state she makes use of it for nourishment. Somewhere it is interior, vital and celestial, exposed to the Breath of the First Agent and stirred with spiritual, eternal winds. In this condition it is Nature's wanton --- foemina satacissima, as one calls it. This is that Psyche of Apuleius, and the fire of Nature is her Cupid. He that hath seen them both in the same bed will confess that love rules all. But to speak something of our common elemental water : it is not altogether contemptible. There are hidden treasures in it, but so enchanted we cannot see them --- for all the chest is so transparent. " The congealed spirit of invisible water is better than all the earth," saith the noble and learned Sendivogius. I do not advise the reader to take this phlegm to task, as if he could extract a Venus from the sea, but I wish him to study water, that he may know the fire.
I have now handled the two elements and more I cannot find. I know the Peripatetics pretend to four and --- with the help of their master's quintessence --- to a fifth principle. I shall at leisure diminish their stock, but the thing to be now spoken of is air. This is no element but a certain miraculous hermaphrodite, the cement of two worlds and a medley of extremes. It is Nature's commonplace, her index, where you may find all that ever she did or intends to do. This is the world's panegyric ; the excursions of both globes meet here ; and I may call it the rendezvous. In this are innumerable magical forms of men and beasts, fish and fowl, trees, herbs and all creeping things. This is " the sea of invisible things " ; for all the conceptions " in the bosom of the higher Nature " wrap themselves in this tiffany before they embark in the shell. It retains the species of all things whatsoever and is the immediate receptacle of spirits after dissolution, whence they pass to a superior limbus. I should amaze the reader if I did relate the several offices of this body, but it- is the magician's back door and none but friends come in at it. I shall speak nothing more, only this I would have you know : the air is " the body of life of our sensitive spirit," our animal oil, the fuel of the vital, sensual fire, without which we cannot subsist a minute.
I am now come to the fourth and last substance, the highest in scala Nature. There is no fifth principle --- no quintessence as Aristotle dreamed --- but God Almighty. This fourth essence is a moist, silent fire. This fire passeth through all things in the world and it is Nature's chariot. In this she rides ; when she moves this moves ; and when she stands this stands, like the wheels in Ezekiel, whose motion depended on that of the spirit. This is the mask and screen of the Almighty : wheresoever He is, this train of fire attends Him. Thus He appears to Moses in the bush, but it was in fire. The prophet sees Him break out at the North, but like a fire catching itself. At Horeb He is attended with a mighty strong wind ; but after this comes the fire, and with it a still small voice. Esdras also defines Him a God Whose service is conversant in wind and fire. This fire is the vestment of the Divine Majesty, His back-parts which He shewed to Moses ; but His naked, royal essence none can see and live. The glory of His presence would swallow up the natural man and make him altogether spiritual. Thus Moses --- his face after conference with Him --- shines, and from this small tincture we may guess at our future estate in the regeneration. But I have touched the veil and must return to the outer court of the Sanctuary.
I have now in some measure performed that which at first I promised --- an exposition of the world and the parts thereof. But in respect of my affection to truth and the dominion I wish her, I shall be somewhat more particular in the examination of Nature and proceed to a further discovery of her riches. I advise the reader to be diligent and curious in this subsequent part of the discourse, that having once attained to the fundamentals of science he may the better understand her superstructures. Know then that every element is threefold, this triplicity being the express image of their Author and a seal He hath laid upon His creature. There is nothing on earth --- though never so simple, so vile and abject in the sight of man --- but it bears witness of God, even to that abstruse mystery, His Unity and Trinity. Every compound whatsoever is three in one and one in three. The basest reptile even, in his outward symmetry, testifies of his Author, his several proportions answering to their eternal, superior Prototype. Now, man hath the use of all these creatures, God having furnished, him with a living library wherein to employ himself. But he, neglecting the works of his Creator, prosecutes the inventions of the creature, laps up the vomit of Aristotle and other illiterate ethnics --- men as concerning the faith reprobate and in the law of Nature altogether unskilful, scribbling, blasphemous atheists ; " whose souls " --- as Agrippa hath it --- " are torn and distracted by hearing and behold the infernal gods." He is much troubled at those Mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation ; one denies, another grants them ; but if they did once 'see the light of Nature they might find those Mysteries by reason which are now above their faith.
When I speak of a natural triplicity, I speak not of kitchen-stuff --- those three pot-principles, water, oil and earth. But I speak of celestial, hidden natures known only to absolute magicians, whose eyes are in the centre, not in the circumference ; and in this sense every element is threefold. For example, there is a threefold earth : first, there is elementary earth, then there is celestial earth, and lastly there is spiritual earth. The influences of the spiritual earth, by mediation of the celestial, are! united to the terrestrial and are the true cause of life and vegetation. These three are the fundamentals of Art and Nature. The first is a visible, tangible substance ; pure, fixed and incorruptible ; of quality cold --- but by application of a superior agent --- dry ; and by consequence a 'fit receptacle of moisture. This is the Created Aleph the true Adamic Earth --- the basis of every building in heaven and earth. It answers to God the Father, being the natural foundation of the creature, as He is the supernatural. Without this nothing can be perfected in magic. The second principle is the infallible magnet, the Mystery of Union. By this all things may be attracted, whether physical or metaphysical --- be the distance never so great. This is Jacob's Ladder : without this there is no ascent or descent, either influential or personal. The absence of this I conceive to be that gulf between Abraham and Dives. This answers to God the Son, for it is that which mediates between extremes, and makes inferiors and superiors communicate. But there is not one in ten thousand knows either the substance or the use of this nature. The third principle is properly no principle : it is not "from which" but " by which all things are." This can do all in all, and the faculties thereof are not to be expressed. It answers to the Holy Ghost, for amongst naturals it is the only agent and artificer.
Now, he that knows these three perfectly, with their several gradations or annexed links, which differ not in substance but complexion ; he that can reduce their impurities to one sincere consistence and their multiplicities to a spiritual, essential simplicity ; he is an absolute, complete magician and in full possibility to all strange, miraculous performances. In the second place, you are to learn that every element is twofold. This duplicity or confusion is that Binarius whereof Agrippa In Scalis Numerorum, as also both himself and Trithemius in their Epistles. Other authors who dealt in this science are pragmatical scribblers and understood not this Secret or the Shades. This is it in which the creature prevaricates and falls from his first harmonical unity. You must therefore subtract the duad and then the magician's triad may be reduced " by the tetrad into the very simple monad," and by consequence " into a metaphysical union with the Supreme Monad."
The sun and moon are two magical principles --- the one active, the other passive ; this masculine, that feminine. As they move, so move the wheels of corruption and generation. They mutually dissolve and compound ; but properly the moon is " the instrument of the transmutation of inferior matter." These two luminaries are multiplied and fructify in everyone particular generation. There is not a compound in all Nature but hath in it a little sun and a little moon. The little sun is son of the Celestial Sun ; the little moon is daughter of the Celestial Moon. What offices soever the two great luminaries .perform for the conservation of the great world in general, these two little luminaries perform the like for the conservation of their small cask or microcosm in particular. They are " miniatures of the greater animal " --- heaven and earth in a lesser character. God --- like a wise Architect --- sits in the centre of all, repairs the ruins of His building, composeth all disorders and continues His Creature in his first primitive harmony. The invisible, central moon is " that well-watered and many fountained moist principle " at whose top sit Jove and Juno in a throne of gold. Juno is an incombustible, eternal oil and therefore a fit receptacle of fire. This fire is her Jove, the little sun we spoke of formerly. These are the true principles of the Stone ; these are the philosopher's Sun and Moon not gold and silver, as some mountebanks and carbonados would have it. But in respect I have proceeded thus far, I will give you a receipt of the Medicine. Rx, Ten parts of celestial slime. Separate the male from the female, and then each from its earth, naturally, however, and without violence. Conjoin after separation in due, harmonic, vital proportion.. The soul, descending straightway from the pyroplastic sphere, shall restore its dead and deserted body by a wonderful embrace. The conjoined substances shall be warmed by a natural fire in a perfect marriage of spirit and body. Proceed according to the Vulcano-Magical Artifice till they are exalted into the Fifth Metaphysical Rota. This is that Medicine about which so many have scribbled but so few have known.
It is a strange thing to consider that there are in Nature incorruptible, immortal principles. Our ordinary kitchen fire --- which in some measure is an enemy to all compositions --- notwithstanding doth not so much destroy as purify some parts. This is clear out of the ashes of vegetables ; for although their weaker, exterior elements expire by violence of the fire yet their earth cannot be destroyed but vitrified. The fusion and transparency of this substance is occasioned by the radical moisture or seminal water of the compound. This water resists the fury of the fire and cannot possibly be vanquished. " The rose lieth hidden through the winter in this water" --- saith the learned Severinus. These two principles are never separated, for Nature proceeds not so far in her dissolutions. When death hath done her worst there is an union between these two and out of them shall God raise us at the last day and restore us to a spiritual constitution. Besides .there remains in them that primitive, universal tincture of the fire. This is still busy after death, brings Nature again into play, produceth worms and other inferior generations. I do not conceive there shall be a resurrection of every species, but rather their terrestrial parts, together with the element of water for there shall be " no more sea " shall be united in one mixture with the earth and fixed to a pure, diaphanous substance. This is St John's crystal gold, a fundamental of the New Jerusalem, so called not in respect of colour but constitution. Their spirits, I suppose, shall be reduced to their first limbus --- a sphere of pure ethereal fire, like rich eternal tapestry spread under the Throne of God.
Thus, Reader, have I made a plenary but short inquisition into the mysteries of Nature. It is more than hitherto hath been discovered and therefore I expect the more opposition. I know my reward is calumny ; but he that hath already condemned the vanity of opinion is not like to respect that of censure. I shall now put the creatures to their just use and from this shallow contemplation ascend to mine and their Author.
Lord God, this was a stone
As hard as any one
Thy laws in Nature framed.
'Tis now a springing well
And many drops can tell,
Since it by Art was framed.
My God, my heart is so ;
'Tis all of flint and no
Extract of tears will yield.
Dissolve it with Thy fire,
That something may aspire
And grow up in my field.
Bare tears I'll not entreat,
But let Thy Spirit's seat
Upon those waters be ;
Then I --- new form'd with light---
Shall move without all night
It is requisite now --- if we follow that method which God Himself is Author of --- to examine the nature and composition of man, having already described those elements or principles whereof he was made and consists. Man --- if we look on his material parts --- was taken out of the great world, as woman was taken out of man. I shall therefore --- to avoid repetition --- refer the reader to the former part of this discourse, where --- if things be rightly understood --- he cannot be ignorant in his material frame and composure. We read in Genesis that God made him out of the earth. This is a great mystery, for it was not the common pot-clay but another and that of a far better nature. He that knows this knows the subject of the Philosophical Medicine, and by consequence what destroys or preserves the temperament of man. In this are principles homogeneal with his life, such as can restore his decays and reduce his disorders to a harmony. They that are ignorant in this point are not competent judges of life and death, but quacks and piss-pot doctors. The learned Arias Montanus calls this Matter " the unique particle of the multiplex earth." If these words be well examined you may possibly find it out ; and so much for his body. His soul is an essence not to be found in the texture of the great world and therefore merely divine and supernatural. Montanus calls it " Wind of the Divine Spirit and Breath of Divine Life." He seems also to make the creation of man a little incarnation, as if God in this work had multiplied Himself. Adam --- saith he --- received his soul " by an admirable and singular inspiration and fructification of God, if it be lawful so to call it."' St Luke also tells us the same thing, for he makes Adam the son of God, not in respect of. the exterior act of creation but by way of descent. And this St Paul confirms in the words of Aratus --- "for we are also His generation." The soul of man consists chiefly of two portions, Ruach and Nephesh --- inferior and superior. The superior is masculine and eternal, the inferior feminine and combined to form that kind of Philosophical Medicine to which Vaughan alludes. It follows that he was writing speculatively and knew neither the Supposed Medicine nor the physical constitution of man mortal. In these two consists our spiritual generation. " As, however, in the rest of living thing's and also in man himself, the conjunction of male and female tends towards a fruit and propagation becoming the nature of each, so in man himself that interior and secret association of male and female, to wit the copulation of male and female soul, is appointed for the production of fitting fruit of Divine Life. And unto this does that secret blessing and promised fecundity, that declared faculty and warning refer : Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it : and have dominion."
Out of this and some former passages the understanding reader may learn that marriage is a comment on life, a mere hieroglyphic or outward representation of our inward vital composition. For life is nothing else but an union of male and female principles, and he that perfectly knows this secret knows the mysteries of marriage --- both spiritual and natural --- and how he ought to use a wife. Matrimony is no ordinary trivial business, but in a moderate, sense sacramental. It is a visible sign of our invisible union to Christ, which St Paul calls a great mystery ; and if the thing signified be so reverend the signature is no ex tempore, contemptible agent. But of this elsewhere. When God had thus finished His last and most excellent creature He appointed his residence in Eden, made him His viceroy and gave him a full jurisdiction over all His works --- that as the whole man consisted of body and spirit so the inferior earthly creatures might be subject to the one and the superior intellectual essences might minister to the other. But this royalty continued not long ; for presently upon his preferment there was a faction in the heavenly court, and the angels scorning to attend this piece of clay contrived how to supplant him. The first in this plot was Lucifer : Montanus tells me his name was Hilel. He casts about to nullify that which God had enacted that so at once he might overreach Him and His creature. This policy he imparts to some others of the hierarchy and strengthens himself with conspirators. But there is no counsel against God. The mischief is no sooner hatched but he and his confederates are expelled from light to darkness. And thus rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft : a witch is a rebel in physics and a rebel is a witch in politics. The one acts against Nature, the other against Order the rule of it. But both are in league with the devil, as the first father of discord and sorcery.
Satan being thus ejected --- as the condition of reprobates --- is became more hardened in his resolutions, and to bring his malice about arrives by permission at Eden. Here he makes woman his instrument to tempt man and overthrow him by the same means that God made for an help to him. Adam having thus transgressed the commandment was exposed to the lash, and in him his posterity. But here lies the knot : how can we possibly learn his disease if we know not the immediate efficient of it ? If I question our divines what the forbidden fruit was I may be long enough without an answer. Search all the schoolmen from --- Ramus to Peter Hispan --- and they have no logic in the point. What shall we do in this case ? To speak anything contrary to the sting of Aristotle though perhaps we hit the mark is to expose ourselves to the common hue. But in respect I prefer a private truth to a public error I will proceed. And now. Reader, prick up thine ears ; come on without prejudice, and I will tell thee that which never hitherto hath been discovered.
That which I now write must needs appear very strange, and incredible to the common man, whose knowledge sticks in the bark of allegories and mystical speeches, never apprehending that which is signified by them unto us. This, I say, must needs sound strange with such as understand the Scriptures in the literal, plain sense, considering not the scope and intention of the Divine Spirit, by Whom they were first penned and delivered. Howsoever, Origen --- being unus de multis and in the judgment of many wise men the most learned of the fathers --- durst never trust himself in this point, but always in those Scriptures where his reason could not satisfy concluded a mystery. Certainly if it be once granted --- as some stick not to affirm that the Tree of Knowledge was a vegetable and Eden a garden it may be very well inferred that the Tree of Life --- being described after the same manner, as the schoolmen express it --- was a vegetable also. But how derogatory this is to the power of God, to the merits and passion of Jesus Christ, Whose gift eternal life is, let any indifferent Christian judge. Here then we have a certain entrance into Paradise, where we may search out this Tree of Knowledge and haply learn what it is. For seeing it must be granted that by the Tree of Life is figured the Divine Spirit --- for it is the Spirit that quickeneth and shall one day translate us from corruption to incorruption it will be no indiscreet inference on the contrary that by the Tree of Knowledge is signified some sensual nature repugnant to the spiritual, wherein our worldly, sinful affections --- as lust, anger and the rest --- have their seat and predominate.
I will now digress a while, but not much from the purpose, whereby it may appear unto the reader that the letter is no sufficient expositor of Scripture and that there is a great deal of difference between the sound and the sense of the text. Dionysius the Areopagite in his Epistle to Titus gives him this caveat : " To know this is notwithstanding the crown of the work --- that there is a twofold tradition of theologians, the one secret and mystical, the other evident and better known." And in his book of The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, written to Timotheus, he affirms that in the primitive, apostolical times --- wherein he also lived the Mysteries of Divinity were delivered " partly in written and partly in unwritten canons." : Some things ne confesseth were written in the theological books, and such are the common doctrinals of the Church now, in which notwithstanding --- as St Peter saith --- there are many things hard to be understood. Some things again " were communicated from mind to mind between the lines of the written word, but some which exceeded carnal understanding were transmitted without writing." And certainly this oral tradition was the cause that in the subsequent ages of the Church all the Mysteries of Divinity were lost. Nay, this very day there is not one amongst all our school doctors or late extemporaries that knows what is represented unto us by the outward element of water in baptism. True indeed they tell us it betokens the washing away of sin, which we grant them, but this is not the full signification for which it was ordained. It hath been the common error of all times to mistake signum for signatum, the shell for the kernel. Yet to prevent this it was that Dionysius wrote his book of The Celestial Hierarchy and especially his Theologia Significativa, of which there is such frequent mention made in his works. Verily our Saviour Himself, Who is blessed for evermore, did sometimes speak in parables, and commanded further that pearls should not be cast forth unto swine, for "it is not given to all men to know the Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven." Supposing then --- as it is most true --- that amongst other mystical speeches contained in Scripture this of the Garden of Eden and the Tree in it is one, I shall proceed to the exposition of it in some measure, concealing the particulars notwithstanding.
Man in the beginning --- I mean the substantial, inward man --- both in and after his creation, for some short time, was a pure intellectual essence, free from all fleshly, sensual affections. In this state the anima or sensitive nature did not prevail over the spiritual, as it doth now in us. For the superior mental part of man was united to God by an essential contact and the Divine Light --- being received in and conveyed to the inferior portions of the soul --- did mortify all carnal desires, insomuch that in Adam the sensitive faculties were scarce at all employed, the spiritual prevailing over them in him, as they do over the spiritual now in us. Hence we read in Scripture that during the state of innocence he did not know that he was naked ; but no sooner eats he of the Tree of Knowledge but he saw his nakedness and was ashamed of it --- wherefore also he hides himself amongst the trees of the Garden, and when God calls to him he replies : " I heard thy voice in the Garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked ; and I hid myself." But God, knowing his former state, answers him with a question : " Who told thee that thou wast naked ? Hast thou eaten of the Tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat ? " Here we see a twofold state of man : his first and best in the spiritual, substantial union of his intellectual parts to God and the mortification of his ethereal, sensitive nature, wherein the fleshly, sinful affections had their residence ; his second --- or his fall --- in the eating of the forbidden fruit, which did cast asleep his. intellectual faculties but did stir up and exalt the sensual. "For" --- saith the serpent --- " God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the Tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her ; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked." Thus we see the sensual faculties revived in our first parents and brought from potentiality into activity --- as the schoolmen speak --- by virtue of this forbidden fruit. Neither did this eating suppress the intellectual powers in Adam only but in all his generations after him ; for the influence of this fruit passed, together with his nature, into his posterity. We are all born like Moses with a veil over the face. This is it which hinders the prospect of that intellectual shining light which God hath placed in us ; and --- to tell you a truth that concerns all mankind --- the greatest mystery, both in divinity and philosophy, is how to remove it.
It will not be amiss to speak something in this place of the nature and constitution of man, to make that more plain which already hath been spoken. As the great world consists of three parts --- the elemental, the celestial and the spiritual --- above all which God Himself is seated in that infinite, inaccessible light which streams from His own nature, even so man hath in him his earthly, elemental parts, together with the celestial and angelical natures, in the centre of all which moves and shines the Divine Spirit. The normal, celestial, ethereal part of man is that whereby we do move, see, feel, taste and smell, and have a commerce with all material objects whatsoever. It is the same in us as in beasts, and it is derived from heaven --- where it is predominant --- to all the inferior earthly creatures. In plain terms it is part of the Soul of the World, commonly called the Medial Soul because the influences of the Divine Nature are conveyed through it to the more material parts of the creature, with which of themselves they have no proportion. By means of this Medial Soul, or the ethereal nature, man is made subject to the influence of stars and is partly disposed of by the celestial. harmony. For this middle spirit --- middle, I mean, between both extremes and not that which actually unites the whole together --- as well that which is in the outward heaven as that which is in man, is of a fruitful, insinuating nature and carried with a strong desire to multiply itself, so that the celestial form stirs up and excites the elemental. For this spirit is in man, in beasts, in vegetables, in minerals ; and in everything it is the mediate cause of composition and multiplication. Neither should any wonder that I affirm this spirit to be in minerals because the operations of it are not discerned there. For shall we conclude therefore that there is no inward agent that actuates and specifies those passive, indefinite principles whereof they are compounded ? Tell me not now of blind Peripatetical forms and qualities. A form is that which Aristotle could not define substantially, nor any of his followers after him, and therefore they are not competent judges of it. But --- I beseech you --- are not the faculties of this spirit suppressed in man also, as it appeareth in those that are blind ? But notwithstanding the eye only is destroyed and not the visible power, for that remains, as it is plain in their dreams. Now, this vision is performed by a reflection of the visual radii in their inward, proper cell. For Nature employs her gifts only where she finds a convenience and fit disposition of organs, which being not in minerals we may not expect so clear an expression of the natural powers in them. Notwithstanding, in the flowers of several vegetables --- which in some sort represent the eyes --- there is a more subtle, acute perception of heat and cold, and other celestial influences, than in any other part. This is manifest in those herbs which open at the rising and shut towards the sunset, which motion is caused by the spirit being sensible of the approach and departure of the sun. For indeed the flowers are --- as it were --- the spring of the spirit, where it breaks forth and streams, as it appears by the odours that are more celestial and comfortable there. Again, this is more evident in the plant-animals --- as the vegetable lamb, Arbor casta, and several others. But this will not sink with any but such as have seen this spirit separated from his elements --- where I leave it for this time.
Next to this sensual nature of man is the angelical or rational spirit. This spirit adheres sometimes to the Mens, or superior portion of the soul, and then it is filled with the Divine Light. But more commonly it descends into the ethereal, inferior portion which St Paul calls the natural man, where it is altered by the celestial influences and diversely distracted with the irregular affections and passions of the sensual nature.
Lastly, above the rational spirit is the Mem or hidden intelligence, commonly called the illuminated intellect, and of Moses the breath of lives. This is that spirit which God Himself breathed into man and by which man is united. again to God. Now, as the Divine Light, flowing into the Mens, did assimilate and convert the inferior portions of the soul to God, so --- on the contrary --- the Tree of Knowledge did obscure and darken the superior portions but awaked and stirred up the animal, sinful nature. The sum of all is this : man, as long as he continued in his union to God, knew the good only --- that is, the things that were of God. But as soon as he stretched forth his hand and did eat of the forbidden fruit --- that is, the middle soul or spirit of the greater world --- presently upon his disobedience and transgression of the commandment, his union to the Divine Nature was dissolved ; and his spirit being united to the spirit of the world he knew the evil only, that is, the things that were of the world. True it is he knew the good and the evil, but the evil in a far greater measure than the good.
Some sparks of grace were left, and though the perfection of innocence was lost upon his Fall from the Divine Light, yet conscience remained still with him --- partly to direct, partly to punish. Thus you see that this medial soul or middle spirit is figured by the Tree of Knowledge ; but he that knows why the Tree of Life is said to be in the midst of the Garden and to grow out of the ground will more fully understand that which we have spoken. We see, moreover, that the faculties ascribed to the Tree of Knowledge are to be found only in middle nature. First, it is said to be a tree to be desired to make one wise ; but it was fleshly, sensual wisdom, the wisdom of this world and not of God. Secondly, it is said to be good for food and pleasant to the eyes. So is the middle nature also, for it is the only medicine to repair the decays of the natural man and to continue our bodies in their primitive strength and integrity Lastly, that I may speak something for myself : this is no new unheard-of fancy, as the understanding reader may gather out of Trismegistus. Nay, I am verily of opinion that the Egyptians received this knowledge from the Hebrews, who lived a long time amongst them as it appears out of Scripture --- and that they delivered it over to the Grecians. This is plain out of lamblichus, in his book De Mysteriis, where he hath these words : "The man of understanding, unveiled before himself, was of old united to the contemplation of the gods ; but it came about afterwards that another soul entered into possession, intermixed with the form pf man, and for this cause he is saddled with the yoke of necessity and fate." And what else, I beseech you, is signified unto us in that poetical fable of Prometheus, that he should steal a certain fire from heaven, for which trespass God punished the world with a great many diseases and mortality ?
But somebody may reply : seeing that God made all things very good --- as it appears in His review of the creatures on the sixth day --- how could it be a sin in Adam to eat that which in itself was good ? Verily the sin was not grounded in the nature of that which he did eat, but it was the inference of the commandment, inasmuch as he was forbidden to eat it. And this is that which St Paul tells us --- that he had not known sin, had it not been for the Law. And again, in another place : " The strength of sin is the Law." But presently upon the disobedience of the first man and his transgression of the commandment, the creature was made subject to vanity. For the curse followed and the impure seeds were joined with the pure, and they reign to this hour in our bodies ; and not in us alone but in every other natural thing. Hence it is we read in Scripture that " the heavens " themselves " are not clean in His sight." And to this alludes the apostle in that speech of his to the Colossians, that " it pleased the Father ... to reconcile all things to himself" by Christ, "whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven." : And here you are to observe that Cornelius Agrippa mistook the act of generation for original sin, which indeed was the effect of it : and. this is the only point in which he hath miscarried.
I have now done : only a word more concerning the situation of Paradise, and the rather because of the diversity of opinions concerning that solace and the absurdity of them. St Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, discovers it in these words : " I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago --- whether in the body, I cannot tell ; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth --- such an one caught up to the Third Heaven. And I knew such a man whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell : God knoweth --- how that he was caught up into Paradise." Here you see that Paradise and 'the Third Heaven are convertible terms, so that the one discovers the other. Much more could I have said concerning the Tree of Knowledge, being in itself a large and very mystical subject ; but for my part I rest contented with my own particular apprehension and desire not to enlarge it any further. Neither had I committed this much to paper but out of my love to the truth, and that I would not have these thoughts altogether to perish.
You see now --- if you be not men of a most dense head --- how man fell, and by consequence you may guess by what means he is to rise. He must be united to the Divine Light, from whence by disobedience he was separated. A flash or tincture of this must come or he can no more discern things spiritually . than he can distinguish colours naturally without the light of the sun. This light descends and is united to him by the same means as his soul was at first. I speak not here of the symbolical, exterior descent from the prototypical planets to the created spheres and thence into " the night of the body " ; but I speak of that most secret and silent lapse of the spirit " through the degrees of natural forms " ; and this is a mystery not easily apprehended. It is a Kabalistic maxim that "no spiritual being descending here below can operate without a garment." Consider well of it with yourselves, and take heed you wander not in the circumference. The soul of man, whiles she is in the body, is like a candle shut up in a dark lanthorn, or a fire that is almost stifled for want of air. Spirits say the Platonics --- when they are " in their own country " are like the inhabitants of green fields who live perpetually amongst flowers, in a spicy, odorous air ; but here below, " in the circle of generation," they mourn because of darkness and solitude, like people locked up in a pest-house. " Here do they fear, desire and grieve," &c. This is it makes the soul subject to so many passions, to such a Proteus of humours. Now she flourishes, now she withers now a smile, now a tear ; and when she hath played out her stock, then comes a repetition of the same fancies, till at last she cries out with Seneca : " How long this self-same round ? " This is occasioned by her vast and infinite capacity, which is satisfied with nothing but God, from Whom at first she descended. It is miraculpus to consider how she struggles with her chains when man is in extremity, how she falsifies with fortune, what pomp, what pleasure, what a paradise doth she propose to herself. She spans kingdoms in a thought and enjoys all that inwardly which she misseth outwardly. In her are patterns and notions of all things in the world. If she but fancies herself in the midst of the sea, presently she is there and hears the rushing of the billows. She makes an invisible voyage from one place to another and presents to herself things absent as if they were present. The dead live to her : there is no grave can hide them from her thoughts. Now she is here in dirt and mire, and in a trice above the moon.Far over storms she soars, hears rushing cloudsBut this is nothing. If she were once out of the body she could act all that she imagined. " In a moment," saith Agrippa " whatsoever she desires, -that shall follow." In this state she can "act upon the moods of the macrocosm," make general commotions in the two spheres of air and water, and alter the complexions of times. Neither is this a fable but the unanimous finding of the Arabians, with the two princes Avicebron and Avicenna. She hath then an absolute power in miraculous and more than natural transmutations. She can in an instant transfer her own vessel from one place to another. She can --- by an union with universal force --- infuse and communicate her thoughts to the absent, be the distance never so great. Neither is there anything under the sun but she may know it, and --- remaining only in one place --- she can acquaint herself with the actions of all places whatsoever. I omit to speak of her magnet, wherewith she can attract all things --- as well spiritual as natural. Finally, " there is no work in the whole course of Nature, however arduous, however excellent, however supernatural it may be, that the human soul, when it has attained the source of its divinity --- which the Magi term the soul standing and not falling --- cannot accomplish by its own power and apart from any external help." But who is he --- amidst so many thousand philosophisers --- that knows her nature substantially and the genuine, specifical use thereof ? This is Abraham's "great secret, wonderful exceedingly, and deeply hidden, sealed with six seals, and out of these proceed fire, water and air, which are divided into males and females." We should therefore pray continually that God would open our eyes, whereby we might see to employ that talent which He hath bestowed upon us but lies buried now in the ground and doth not fructify at all. He it is to Whom we must be united by " an essential contact," and then we shall know all things " shewn forth openly by clear vision in the Divine Light." This influx from Him is the true, proper efficient of our regeneration, that sperma of St John, the seed of God which remains in us. If this be once obtained we need not serve under Aristotle or Galen, nor trouble ourselves with foolish utrums and ergos for His unction will instruct us in all things.
Beneath her feet, and the blind thunder spurns.
But indeed the doctrine of the schoolmen, which in a manner makes God and Nature contraries, hath so weakened our confidence towards Heaven that we look upon all receptions from thence as impossibilities. But if things were well weighed and this cloud of tradition removed we should quickly find that God is more ready to give than we are to receive. For He made man --- as it were --- for His playfellow, that he might survey and examine His works. The inferior creatures He made not for themselves but His own glory, which glory He could not receive from anything so perfectly as from man, who --- having in him the spirit of discretion --- might judge of the beauty of the creature and consequently praise the Creator. Wherefore also God gave him the use of all His works ; and in Paradise how familiar is He, or rather how doth He play with Adam. "Out of the ground" --- saith the Scripture --- "the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air ; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them : and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." These were the books which God ordained for Adam and for us his posterity, not the quintessence of Aristotle nor the temperament of Galen the Antichrist. But this is " tormenting the hornets." ' Now will the Peripatetics brand me with their contra principia and the school divines with a tradatur Satanae . I know I shall be hated of most for my pains and perhaps scoffed at like Pythagoras in Lucian :' " Who buyeth Eugenius ? Who seeketh to be more than a man, or to know the harmony of the world and be born again ? " But because, according to their own master, a covenant is honourable and that an affirmative of this nature cannot fall to the ground with a Christian, I will come to my oath. I do therefore protest before my glorious God, I have not written this out of malice but out of zeal and affection to the truth of my Creator. Let them take heed then lest --- whiles they contemn mysteries --- they violate the majesty of God in His creatures and trample the blood of the covenant under foot. But shall I not be counted a conjurer, seeing I follow the principles of Cornelius Agrippa, that grand Archimagus, as the antichristian Jesuits call him ? He indeed is my author, and next to God I owe all that I have unto him. He was, Reader, by extraction noble ; by religion a protestant --- as it appears out of his own writings --- besides the late but malicious testimony of Promondus, a learned papist ; for his course of life a man famous in his person, both for actions of war and peace ; a favourite to the greatest princes of his time and the just wonder of all learned men. Lastly, he was one that carried himself above the miseries he was born to and made fortune know man might be her master. This is answer enough to a few sophisters --- and in defiance of all calumnies --- thus I salute his memory.Great, glorious penman, whom I should not nameThus far, Reader, I have handled the composition and royalty of man. I shall now speak something of his dissolution and close up my discourse --- as he doth his life --- with death. Death is'" a recession of life into the hiddenness " --- not the annihilation of any one particle but a retreat of hidden natures to the same state they were in before they were manifested. This is occasioned by the ' disproportion and inequality of the matter; for when the harmony, is broken by the excess of any one principle, the vital twist --- without a timely reduction of the first unity --- disbands and unravels. In this recess the several ingredients of man return to those several elements from whence they came at first in their access to a compound. For to think that God creates anything ex nihilo in the work of generation is a pure metaphysical whimsey. Thus the earthly parts --- as we see by experience --- return to the earth, the celestial to a superior heavenly limbus and the spirit to God that gave it. Neither should any wonder that I affirm the Spirit of the living God to be in man, when God Himself doth acknowledge it for His own. " My spirit " --- saith He --- " shall not always be sheathed " --- for so the Hebrew signifies --- " in man, for that he also is flesh : yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." Besides, the breathing of it into Adam proves it proceeded from God and therefore the Spirit of God.
Lest I might seem to measure thee by fame,
Nature's apostle and her choice high priest,
Her mystical and bright evangelist :
How am I rapt when I contemplate thee
And wind myself above all that I see.
The spirits of thy lines infuse a fire ---
Like the world's soul --- which makes me thus aspire
I am embodied by thy books and thee
And in thy papers find my ecstacy ;
Or, if I please but to descend a strain,
Thy elements do screen my soul again.
I can undress myself by thy bright glass
And then resume the enclosure as I was.
Now I am earth, and now a star, and then
A spirit --- now a star and earth again ;
Or if I will but ransack all that be
In the least moment I engross all three.
I span the heaven and earth and things above,
And --- which is more --- join natures with their love.
He crowns my soul with fire and there doth shine,
But like the rainbow in a cloud of mine.
Yet there's a law by which I discompose
The ashes and the fire itself disclose ;
But in his emerald still he doth appear :
They are but grave-clothes which he scatters here.
Who sees this fire without his mask, his eye
Must needs be swallow'd by the light and die.
These are the mysteries for which I wept ---
Glorious Agrippa --- when thy language slept.
Where thy dark texture made me wander far,
Whiles through that pathless night I traced the star ;
But I have found those mysteries for which
Thy book was more than thrice-piled o'er with pitch.
Now a new East beyond the stars I see
Where breaks the day of thy divinity.
Heaven states a commerce here with man, had he
But grateful hands to take and eyes to see.
Hence, you fond schoolmen, that high truth deride,
And with no arguments but noise and pride
You that damn all but what yourselves invent
And yet find nothing by experiment :
Your fate is written by an unseen hand,
But his Three Books with the Three Worlds shall stand.
Thus Christ breathed on His apostles and they received the Holy Ghost. In Ezekiel the Spirit comes from the four winds and breathes upon the slain, that they might live. Now, this Spirit was the Spirit of Life, the same with that Breath of Life which was breathed into the first man, and he became a living soul. But without doubt the Breath or Spirit of Life is the Spirit of God. Neither is this Spirit in man alone but in all the great world, though after another manner. For God breathes continually and passeth through all things like an air that refresheth --- wherefore also He is called of Pythagoras " the quickening of all." Hence it is that God in Scripture hath several names, according to those several offices He performs in the preservation of His creature. " Moreover" --- saith the Areopagite --- "they bear witness to His presence in our minds, as also in our souls and even in our bodies, that He is in heaven and on earth, and simultaneously in His very self : they declare Him to be within the world, to be around and also above it, over and above heaven, the superior essence, sun, star, fire, water, wind, dew, cloud, the very stone and rock : to be in all things which are and Himself to be nothing which they are." And most certain it is because of His secret passage and penetration through all that other simile in Dionysius was given Him : "Let that also be added which may seem vilest and most absurd of all, that the Lord hath called Himself a worm of the earth, as handed down to us by those versed in divine things."
Now, this figurative kind of speech, with its variety of appellations, is not only proper to Holy Writ but the Egyptians also --- as Plutarch tells me --- called Isis, or the most secret part of Nature, myrionymous ; and certainly that the same thing should have a thousand names is no news to such as have studied the Philosopher's Stone. But to return thither whence we have digressed : I told you the several principles of man in his dissolution part --- as sometimes friends do --- several ways : earth to earth --- as our Liturgy hath it and heaven to heaven, according to that of Lucretius :The part which came from earth to earth returns,But more expressly the divine Vergil, speaking of his bees :
But what descended from ethereal shores
High heaven's resplendent temples welcome back.Induced by such examples, some have taughtThis vanish or ascent of the inward, ethereal principles doth not presently follow their separation ; for that part of man which Paracelsus calls the " sidereal man " and more appositely the " brute part of man," but Agrippa the " spectre " and Vergil
That bees have portions of ethereal thought ---
Endued with particles of heavenly fires ;
For God the whole created mass inspires.
Through heaven and earth and ocean's depths He throws
His influence round and kindles as He goes.
Hence flocks and herds and men and beasts and fowls
With breath are quicken'd, and attract their souls ;
Hence take the forms His prescience did ordain,
And into Him at length resolve again.
No room is left for death : they mount the sky
And to their own congenial planets fly.Ethereal sense and warmth of simple breath ---this part --- I say --- which in the astral man hovers sometimes about the dormitories of the dead, and that because of the magnetism or sympathy which is between him and the radical, vital moisture. In this " spectre " is the seat of the imagination, and it retains after death an impress of those passions and affections to which it was subject in the body. This makes him haunt those places where the whole man hath been most conversant, and imitate the actions and gestures of life. This magnetism is excellently confirmed by that memorable accident at Paris which Dr Fludd proves to be true by the testimonies of great and learned men. Agrippa also, speaking of the apparitions of the dead, hath these words : " But that which I have seen myself with my own eyes and have touched with my own hands I will not mention in this place, lest it be my lot to be accused of falsehood by the ignorant, by reason of the marvellous strangeness of the occurrences." But this scene exceeds not the circuit of one year, for when the body begins fully to corrupt the spirit returns to his original element. These apparitions have made a great noise in the world, not without some benefit to the pope ; but I shall reserve all for my great work, where I shall more fully handle these mysteries.
I am now to speak of man as he is subject to a supernatural judgment ; and --- to be short --- my judgment is this : I conceive there are --- besides the empyreal heaven --- two inferior mansions or receptacles of spirits. The one is that which our Saviour calls "the outer darkness," and this is jt whence there is no redemption" Whence souls may never come forth," as the divine Plato hath it. The other, I suppose, is somewhat answerable to the Elysian fields, some delicate, pleasant region, the suburbs of heaven --- as it were --- those seven mighty mountains whereupon there, grow roses and lilies, or the outgoings of Paradise in Esdras. Such was that place where the oracle told Amelius the soul of Plotinus was :Where friendship is, where Cupid gentle-eyed,Stellatus supposeth there is a successive, gradual ascent of the soul, according to the process of expiation, and he makes her inter-residence in the moon. But let it be where it will, my opinion is that this middlemost mansion is appointed for such souls whose whole man hath not perfectly repented in this world. But notwithstanding they are of such as shall be saved, and are reserved in this place to a further repentance in the spirit for those offences they committed in the flesh. I do not here maintain that ignis fatuus of purgatory, or any such painted, imaginary tophet ; but that which I speak of --- if I am not much mistaken --- I have a strong Scripture for. It is that of St Peter, where he speaks of Christ being " put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit : by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison ; which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water." These spirits were the souls of those who perished in the Flood and were reserved in this place till Christ should come and preach repentance unto them.
Replete with purest joy, enrich'd by God
With sempiternal and ambrosial streams :
Whence are the bonds of love, the pleasant breath,
The tranquil air of great Jove's golden race.
I know Scaliger thinks to evade this construction with his qui tunc, that they were then alive --- namely, before the Flood --- when they were preached unto. But I shall overthrow this single' nonsense with three solid reasons, drawn out of the body of the text. First, it is not said that the Spirit itself precisely preached unto them, but He Who went thither by the Spirit, namely, Christ in the hypostatical union of His soul and Godhead --- which union was not before the Flood when these dead did live. Secondly, it is written that He preached unto spirits, not to men, to those which were in prison, not to those which were " in life," which is quite contrary to Scaliger. And this exposition the apostle confirms in another place --- " to them that are dead " --- the dead were preached to, not the living. Thirdly, the apostle says these spirits were but sometime disobedient and withal tells us when namely, in the days of Noah. Whence I gather they were not disobedient at this time of preaching ; and this is plain out of the subsequent chapter. " For this cause" --- saith the apostle --- "was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit." Now, this judgment in the flesh was grounded on their disobedience in the days of Noah, for which also they were drowned; but salvation according to God in the spirit proceeded from their repentance at the preaching of Christ, which was after death. I do not impose this on the reader as if I sat in the infallible chair, but I am confident the text of itself will speak no other sense. As for the doctrine, it is no way hurtful-, but in my opinion as it detracts not from the mercy of God so it adds much to the comfort of man.
I shall now speak a word more concerning myself and another concerning the common philosophy, and then I have done. It will be questioned perhaps what I am, and especially what my religion is. Take this short answer. I am neither papist nor sectary but a true, resolute protestant in the best sense of the Church of England. For philosophy as it now stands it is altogether imperfect and withal false --- a mere apothecary's drug, a mixture of inconsistent, contrary principles which no way agree with the harmony and method of Nature. In a word, the whole encyclopaedia --- as they call it --- baiting the demonstrative, mathematical part --- is built on mere imagination, without the least light of experience. I wish therefore all the true sons of my famous Oxford Mother to look beyond Aristotle and not to confine their intellect to the narrow and cloudy horizon of his text ; for he is as short of Nature as the grammarians are of steganography. I expect not their thanks for this my advice or discovery ; but verily the time will come when this truth shall be more perfectly manifested, and especially that great and glorious mystery whereof there is little spoken in this book : " the alone King Messias, the Word made flesh of the Father, hath revealed this secret, to be more openly manifested in a certain fulness of time."
It is Cornelius Agrippa's own prediction, and I am confident it shall find patrons enough when nothing remains here of me but memory.My sweetest Jesus, 'twas Thy voice : If II have now done, Reader, but how much to my own prejudice I cannot tell. I am confident this shall not pass without noise ; but I may do well enough if thou grantest me but one request. I would not have thee look here for the paint and trim of rhetoric, and the rather because English is a language the author was not born to. Besides this piece was composed in haste and in my days of mourning on the sad occurrence of a brother's death. " And who " knoweth how to write amidst a wailing of tears and ink."
Be lifted up I'll draw all to the sky.
Yet I am here. I'm stifled in this clay,
Shut up from Thee and the fresh East of day.
I know Thy hand's not short ; but I'm unfit ---
A foul, unclean thing --- to take hold of it.
I am all dirt, nor can I hope to please
Unless in mercy Thou lov'st a disease.
Diseases may be cured ; but who'll reprieve
Him that is dead ? Tell me, my God, I live.
'Tis true, I live ; but I so sleep withal
I cannot move, scarce hear when Thou dost call.
Sin's lullabies charm me when I would come ;
But draw me after Thee and I will run.
Thou know'st I'm sick : let me not feasted be,
But keep a diet, and prescribed by Thee.
Should I carve for myself I would exceed
To surfeits soon and by self-murder bleed.
I ask for stones and scorpions, but still cross'd ---
And all for love --- should'st Thou grant, I were lost.
Dear Lord, deny me still, and never sign ---
My will but when that will agrees with Thine.
And when this conflict's pass'd and I appear
To answer what a patient I was here,
How I did weep when Thou didst woo, repine
At Thy best sweets and in a childish whine
Refuse Thy proffer'd love, yet cry and call
For rattles of my own, to play withal ---
Look on Thy cross and let Thy blood come in.
When mine shall blush as guilty of my sin,
Then shall I live, being rescued in my fall,
A text of mercy to Thy creatures all,
Who having seen the worst of sins in me
Must needs confess the best of loves in Thee.
To conclude : if I have erred in anything --- and yet I followed the rules of creation --- I expose it not to the mercy of man but of God, Who as He is most able so also is "He most willing to forgive us in the day of our accounts.
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