To the generously Learned Contriver
of the Common-Writing.
[right margin: [Fred? altered] Ludowick]
Since j heard of a Common-writing among the East-Indians j procured a Booke or two from Bantam of the China Characters and have earnestly desired to find out one, that could interpret them or assist mee in contriving the like for Europe. [right margin: Real Characters. China Characters.] But while j was in this muse it seemeth the same Publique Spirit, which put the desire into mee, put the Act and Accomplishment into you. I most heartily thanke you Sir both for your Booke and paines. I haue perused it with great ioy, and should bee more ioyful to haue acquaintance with you, if it please you. For j accompt it no smal happines, that j live to see the beginning of soe glorious a Worke, [right margin: Common-writing.] in such perillous and distracting times, and should bee glad with no smal content to see it publikely entertained amongst the Nations round about Vs. For it is capable of furnishing them with the Vision and fruition of the best of desirable goods, wherof more hereafter, if God please
Popler the 26. of Ian. 1646/47. Edward Howes. [right margin: Edward Howes]
[scribal hand E:]
A Copie of Mr. Huls Letter to Mr. Worsly.
Your engagement laid upon mee in your's does disoblidge me from Answering to it, though it cannot make mee forget my real sentiments of your publique disordnings. Beleeve mee Sir I am not a little joyfull of such a Friendship that has so little of the world in it. I shall endeavour to præserve it with what integrity and observance and to make my thoughts read in my actions. Sir your owne depressing of yours, cannot dishonesten mee to crave your judgment in a Doubt, viz.
Whither the Scripture bee an adæquate Iudge of Physicall Controversies or no?
I am vrg'd on by Sides .1. For the Negative.
1. because it dos expresse some things contrary to the received Tenents of Nature of the greatnes of the Moone etc.
2. because Men of great Authoritie usually Resolve such Passages with a [Greek: kata doxan] as humiliating itselfe to vulgar Concept.
For the Affirmative I have:
1. The Fulnes of the world according to that excellent Speech of Common to this purpose (Præf. Physic.) Man can but teach one thing at one time God, who is infinit, all things at once.
2. The same excellent Mans laying it downe as one Principium Cognitionis of his Triad. But what is more to mee.
3. Moses describing the Creations which questionles hath an
End meant by the Holy Spirit.
These are the chief I have thought either way. I rather encline to the latter, but yet I have some Scruples in the former of which I beg your opinion
e. God blesse and keepe you, that is the prayer of
St. Iohns. Feb .5. Your
I forgatt not to receive Yours with the like æmulous and thankfull respect. But perceive my selfe to stand in tearmes of much disadvantage with you, by how much I discerne, you have given way to entertaine some expectation of me; which I could have wished had beene retracted before I had againe presented my selfe, yet in observance to those mutuall assurances betweene vs, and to dictates of my Friend his Colledge, I shall (notwithstanding.) plainely and humbly submitt my Conceptions concerning your question.
Whether the Scriptures bee an adæquate Iudge in Physicall Controversies or not? Pardon mee here Sir, if in the ensuing I do not come home to your minde; which yet I shall indeavour to pursue thus.
The end of addressing our selves to a Iudge at any time, in matters disputable (we know) is, for to gaine a full & satisfactory resolution in some thing. In a Iudge then, whose sentence or authority, wee are willing to leane upon, and
acquiesce in, (In cases doubtfull) wee require or suppose at least 2. things. First that he knoweth those things fully and perfectly, of which wee desire him to bee Iudge. Secondly, that according to that truth, hee will cleerly and determinately, speak to the thing controverted. For as wee esteeme[altered] Blind men no competent Iudges, in differences arising about colours: So knowing men are as little satisfactory (though they may deliver truth) if obscure, uncertaine, or indistinct in their answers. Which necessary properties assented to, will derive the present question in these two Queres:
I. Whether the Scriptures containe in them definitively all manner of Physicall-truths; at least in their primitives?
II. Whether they do cleerly or distinctly offer, and exhibit, that same truth they containe?
In seeking the Solution of the first, it brings to mind that generall maxim, Quicquid est etc. There is not any effect, but doth more or lesse, lively beare the Image of its immediate and efficient cause. And therefore when I consider the Scriptures to bee the immediate efflations of God himselfe, It sets my thoughts a discoursing thus. If the writings of men (clearly) do referre that ingeny, wisdome, Knowledge, Iudgement etc: that is in them: by which wee are able to draw their characteres: why should not I as cleerly suppose, by the analogy of reason, the writings of God also, do beare his character, and as lively reflect his Image. Againe, as things, which truly and faithfully do reflect the Images of others, represent them diversly, according to that difference that doth truly appeare [catchword: in]
in them; So writings constantly reflecting the Image or Character of the present minde, or intellect of authors, are not of one and the same grace and excellency, but differ one from another according to that proportion, or degree of difference, that is in their Composers. If then the difference bee[altered] so great betweene finite and infinite, as that there is not proportion betweene them: then more betweene the mind of man, and the mind of God; or betweene that vnderstanding, wisdome, Knowledge and Perfection, that is among men; and that which simply, essentially, and immensely is in him, and [letter deleted] is himselfe. But if there bee not degree of difference betweene the Authors, then not betweene that wisdome, Knowledge etc: deeply threasured up, and hid in the Writings of God; and[altered] that which is sleightly couched, or scatteringly spread, in the Scriblings of men. Wherefore if I shall find[altered] so much within the compasse of humane wisdome, that is so inferiour, to bee able in their discourses, to weare and intertex, many rules and precepts belonging even to diverse disciplines without any breath at all, or manifest abruption, either in matter or style; having all notwithstanding but one single respect and conspiring or looking together, at one grand and proper end; why should not I thinke the wisdome of God able to effect the like, and that after a farr more excellent manner. Or rather what should hinder me to assert, that these writings, having for their Author, an infinite wisdome; cannot but have a fullnesse in them, proper to themselves, and infinitely exceeding the fullnesse of all other writings that are. which we find to bee true, not
only thus [superscript deletion] by introduction, but even from experience, For wee see those that have waded deepest in this Question of the vniversality of the wisdome of the Scripture, are the men that most of all others do admire, and confidently report to vs, their yet vn-Imaginable dephts. This will also further bee attested, if wee consider the allmost innumerable volumes, and those of every differing natures that have beene writt on this one Scripture, all expressly aiming and striving, by way of Comment Paraphrase, observation, and the like to illustrate and more and more to manifest this sublime Wisdome. Yea it is not absurd to thinke. It shall be part, as well of our happinesse, as our imployment in the other life, to find that in it, which the whole Ages of the world came short of discovering.
Wee may conclude it, therefore, to be a presumtion, and such as is altogether vnsafe[altered], to affirme what primitive or materiall Truths the Scripture containeth not.
But for the second, that the Scriptures do so cleerly exhibit, or plainely report those truths, that are contained in them as wee supposed requisit for a Iudge to doe: This doth not att all evidently appeare. for to avouth all its truths, to be obvious, easy and plaine, were to deny those incomprehensible dephts and threasures to bee stored up in it indeed[altered]; which wee before were forced to confesse. And yet if not cleere[altered from cleerly], or plaine, in its discovery of all those truths, that are contained in it: Then of those very things it conteineth, it cannot allwayes bee counted, much lesse constituted, a ready or satisfactory [catchword: Iudge]
Iudge. which may more confidently be assevered of, (.if
it not more properly and particularly, ) happly, applyed unto.) Physickes; for some especiall and weighly reasons. First the Scriptures, as all other writings, can have but one maine and proper end; now should these sacred letters, have set[altered] downe Physickall truths so plaine, that in all controversies and doubts, men might readily have had their recourse thither, to receive satisfaction: or given an Invitation, or Incouragement to a search in this nature; men would have beene apt to mistake the maine end of them, And such exact, carefull and precise notice of these[altered] natural things, would have putt an extraordinary glosse, and excellency on them, and seemed to suggest, them not to bee so futilous and contemptible, as indeed they are; & as the sacred word doth injoine vs to deeme them. Beside which excuse it would have beene of their vanity: It would have likewise caused much sloth in some: and in others, have deprived them of those pleasures, they now reape from the fruits of sedulousnesse and industry in their Scruting[altered from scrutiny]. And briefly (for much might bee added) It would have cleane inverted that law and order, that perfect nature hath planted in Vs. Which in things sensible, desumeth the primordia and certainty of knowledge; First, from the Information of the Senses, and so adscends by degrees, upwards, till shee terminate in that centre,
where[altered] all things flow, and to which they all returne wherefore I humbly apprehend, though the Scripture bee a rich, and compleat magazin of Truths; which also the coming, and wiser Age, will more & more plainely discerne, yet that in Physicall controversies, it hath left men a latitude, to seeke (.in the free vse, exercise, and improovement, of their Senses and Reason, to determine them; not chalenging any where (to my Knowledge) an vmpire of this kind; which had they willed it, I am apt to thinke they would have done. And as he that would shew me the signature of each plant, after certaine experiment first made of the vertue, and specifique proporties thereof (for such characters really are) would exhibit to me a farr more pleasant, convincing and delightfull demonstration, of that infinite and only to bee admired wisdome, then he that barely readeth to me, (though never so fully) a Botanique Lecture; so by how much my principle of Physickes, could bee found cleerly to bee established in the Sacred word of Divinity: by so much the more Beauty would appeare in it; both in regard of the truth, and satisfaction it would bring and in respect of that unveyling, and discovery made by it, of the variety of the wisdome of Gods spirit, which will present it, with yet a more admirable lustre. In so much as such labours, and undertakings, ought to bee excee- [catchword: dingly]
dingly incouraged and esteemed, and wee should not rest, when wee have found out any eminent truth, without diligent inquiry, where these sacred lynes have[altered] by their notice honoured it. But if any upon a probable[altered] phrase of Scripture, shall build an Axiome in Physickes without thinking himself afterwards obliged (for the Satisfaction of others) to hold strictly a correspondency with the Rules and Lawes of Reason, and experience. I should not conceive my selfe tyed, by any rule, or law in Scripture, to beleeve or give credit to his Assertion: neither should I confound his allegation of Scripture, with the authority of Scripture, where any evidence of Reason or demonstration from experience did oppose him. As apprehending it much more safe, to bend the words of Scripture to truth, then to write truth so, as it may speake to such or such a sense of Scripture. For truth will ever, admirably, cleere, open, and illustrate Scripture, whereas the Scripture it selfe, very oft, concealeth what Truth that is, it containeth. Which Rule of bringing Scripture to the Truth, rather then bending truth to a conjecturall Sense of Scripture (.Truth beeing above all conjecture) as it is altogether equall in it selfe, so I have many times thought, had it beene more extended, it would have beene of greater service to the ending of many other controversies amongst vs, then any other I have observed to bee
used. If I may not say the neglect of it hath beene a mayne cause of multiplying and increasing most our disputes. But I will not assume a Iudgement beyond my selfe. neither shall I take [deletion] on me positively, or Categorically, to determine the present question betweene vs, but having in obedience to your desire remitted my thoughts; shall subject the further elaboration of them to your judgement[altered]. Beeing withall desirous you would please to examine and communicate the opinions of others, upon this subject, which would begett a mutuall benefitt, and be very much obleiging. And this will likewise the reputing of me
Febr .16. 1646/7. Really Yours.