Bishop Nemesius of Emesa and True Christian Anthropology and Medicine
Though remaining relatively obscure to subsequent history, Bishop Nemesius of Emesa in Syria, who flourished in the latter part of the 4th century A.D., was in his day an accomplished Christian Philosopher whose influence and teaching was bequeathed to Christian Orthodoxy via the formidable authority of Saint John Damascene.. Nemesius’ only surviving treatise, ” On The Nature of Man” was the major source for John Damascene’s physiologico-anthropological interpretations and views as found in his grand compendium ” On the Orthodox Faith”…
Mixed views were brandished about on Nemesius by all contending sides, none of which have been founded on solid ground.. When we read his work, as a philosopher in the tradition of Justyn Martyr, Nemesius is decidedly Orthodox… Indeed he quotes profusely from Origen, Galen, Plato, Aristotle and Porphyry, but solely for the purpose of denying their wayward speculations on the human nature any validity., or of qualifying and gently correcting their mistaken notions.. With dexterity and aplomb he philosophically strips the philosopher of his yellow robe, and displays him fully in his most vulnerable and naked state..
Yet in all his dexterity Nemesius remains calm and decidedly Christian and Orthodox.. His ” On The Nature of Man” was subsequently regarded as the true teaching, and most accurate basis, upon which an Orthodox understanding of human nature; psychology, pneumatology and physiology, could be based, to which fact Saint John Damascene’s approval of Nemesius unashamedly attests… As the legacy of the Muslim medico-physiological traditions of Avicenna and Averroes gained more and more acceptance in the West, with the revival of Hippocratic Galenism and later on Rosicrucian Paracelsianism, the legacy and memory of Nemesius began to wane and was soon extinguished…
His teachings, however, strike very little common ground with Hippocratic Galenism or Paracelsianism or the speculations of Avicenna and Averroes… Yet it is those very teachings that were for centuries regarded as normative in Christian Orthodoxy… Have things really changed that much to warrant the dismissal of Nemesius? Whose legacy should carry greater weight; the Christian Orthodoxy of Nemesius, or the word of Muslims such as Avicenna and Averroes, and the pagan Hippocrates and Galen, or Rosicrucians such as Paracelsus? Should a revival of Nemesius’ legacy benefit us in not only rediscovering the truth of the human nature and physiological, psychological, and pneumatological theology, but of combating the ” new priesthood” of the medical profession which not only seeks to dominate the health of the body, but now attempts to dominate the health of the mind and soul; both formally the duty and prerogatives of Christian Orthodox Clergy?
Nemesius; rejecting the doctrines of Origen and the Heathen Philosophers, particularly the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, was unjustly classed with the NeoPlatonic school of Ammonias Saccas and Origen ( the Alexandrian School in Egypt), against which school he expended considerable labours for the purpose of refutation. I have commenced to redact into today’s English the first edition of Nemesius ( in English), which was completed and published anonymously in London, 1657, and am including the first Five Sections below with a copy of the title page of the first edition (second printing).
The implications of a possible revival of Bishop Nemesius’ Philosophy are startling, and challenge wholescale the present wayward tenets of modern medicine, and most of the Nominalistic and Scholastic and Rationalistic Theological and Scientific misconceptions which have governed both Western and Eastern thought since the early middle ages; right down to the present day.
It is my intention to complete this small project of rendering the original English translation of Nemesius into a more modern and understandable format, over the coming months, and I would encourage the reader to study Nemesius’ work carefully; weighing every word and concept against the words of Scripture, from which he quotes copiously, and to which Apostolic tradition he remained ever true and entirely devoted.
It seems to me that it is quite impossible to fully grasp the complex Apostolic teachings on psychology, pneumatology, and physiology, without reference to this compendium of anthropological philosophy which the legacy of Nemesius, largely via the works of John of Damascus, has conveyed to the Christian “ lover of the truth”.
In Nemesius, all contradictions regarding anthropology, predestination, and theology in general, are reconciled in such a simple yet pertinent manner, that upon reading the work one is left with the lasting impression that herein lies the very legacy of the Apostles and their disciples; particularly Luke the Physician; the author of the book of Acts and the Gospel of that name.
The somewhat rough draft before us here will no doubt serve as a tasty morsel of “ better things to come”, and so I leave the reader to careful study of Bishop Nemesius’ incredible work: “ The Nature of Man”…. ( P.C./aka “ voxsolus”)
Nemesius, bp. of Emesa
Nemesius (4), bp. of Emesa in the latter half of 4th cent., of whom nothing is certainly known but that he wrote a rather remarkable treatise, περὶ φύσεως ἀνθρώπου, de Natura Hominis, of which cc. ii. and iii. wrongly appear as a separate work, entitled περὶ ψυχῆς, de Anima, among the writings of Gregory Nyssen. Le Quien (Or. Christ. ii. 839) places Nemesius fifth among the bishops of Emesa, between Paul I., who attended the council of Seleucia, a.d. 359, and Cyriacus, the friend of Chrysostom. The date of his writing is tolerably certain from his mentioning the doctrines of Apollinaris and Eunomius and the Origenists, but not those of Nestorius, Eutyches, or Pelagius. He could hardly have avoided mentioning Pelagius if his teaching had been known to him, in the part of his treatise relating to free will. That he was bp. of Emesa is stated in the title of his treatise in the various MS. copies, and by Maximus (ii. 153, ed. Combefis) and Anastasius Sinaita (Quaest. xviii. and xxiv.) in quoting his work. He is also quoted, though without his name, by Joannes Damascenus, Elias Cretensis, Meletius, Joannes Grammaticus, and others. The treatise is an interesting work which will well reward perusal, and has received much praise from able judges of style and matter. Nemesius establishes the immortality of the soul against the philosophers, vindicates free will, opposes fatalism, defends God’s providence, and proves by copious examples the wisdom and goodness of the Deity. He gives indications that he was not ignorant of the circulation of the blood and the functions of the bile (cc. xxiv. xxviii. pp. 242, 260, ed. Matthaei). The best ed. is by C. F. Matthaei (Halae, 1802), reprinted by Migne in Patr. Gk. The treatise has been translated into most modern European languages, into Italian by Pizzimenti (no date), English, G. Wilkes (1636 and 1657), German by Osterhammer (Salzburg, 1819), and French by J. R. Thibault (Paris, 1844). Cf. M. Evangelides, Nemesius und seine Quellen (Berlin, 1882).[E.V.]
( Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature by Wace & Percy)..
To the Reader
This Book, which directs you to the knowledge of your Human Natures, ( which ought to be your continual studies) was Originally written in Greek, by the knowing Pen of Nemesius, surnamed the Philosopher, one of the chiefest Luminaries in the Ancient Church. To praise this Piece, were to derogate from its worth, the Title carrying the best commendation. Censure it if you please; but let your judgements be squared by reason, not biased by common opinions, which commonly raises those things to the greatest, which merit the least estimation.
Of the Nature of Man.
I. The Definition of Man: A querie touching the Understanding; and the opinions of Plotinus, Apollinarius, Aristotle & Plato concerning the SOUL & BODY of MAN.
II. MAN partaking in somewhat with every Creature, is a medium knitting together the whole Creation, & a manifestation of the Unity of the CREATOR of all things.
III. The Agreement, and comely order of GOD’S Works, of all which MAN is the true Epitome.
Good men, ( and of those not a few) have defined Man to consist of an Understanding Soul and a Body; and so true is this Definition, that it may seem he could not otherwise be, well, defined. Yet, when we term him an Understanding soul, it may appear doubtful to some, whether the Understanding coming to the soul ( as one distinct thing comes to another) did beget Understanding in the Soul; Or, whether the Soul does naturally contain in itself this understanding, as the most excellent part thereof; and, as being the same to the Soul, which the Eye is to the Body.
There be some, ( and of this opinion is Plotinus) who thinking the Soul to be one thing, and the Body another, do therefore affirm, that MAN is composed of these three, a Soul, a Body, and Understanding. Of this mind also was Apollinarius Bishop of Laodicea: For, having laid this as the Foundation of his own opinion, he made the rest of his Building agreeable to the same Groundwork.
Others there are who divide not the Understanding from the Soul in this manner; but suppose rather, that the Understanding is a principal of the Soul’s essence. Aristotle conjectures that a certain potential understanding was made together with MAN, which might become actual in time; and that the Understanding which comes to us from without, ( and whereby we acquire an actual knowledge) pertains not to the actual Essence of the Soul; but, assists in the knowledge and speculation of things: By which means it comes to pass, that very few, or none, but men addicted to the study of Wisdom, are thought capable of this Actual understanding.
PLATO seems to affirm that MAN consists not of a double essence; that is to say, jointly of a Soul and a Body: but rather, that he is a soul, using ( as it were Instrumentally) such a Body: and perhaps by fixing the mind upon that only, which is the most excellent part of Man, he seeks to draw us to such a serious consideration of ourselves ( and of the divine nature) as might win us, the better, to pursue virtue, godliness, and such good things as are in the Soul: or else by persuading that we are ( essentially) nothing else but soul, he would, peradventure, allure us to renounce the desires of the Body, as things not primarily pertinent to MAN as MAN; but, chiefly belonging to him, as he is a living creature; and so, by consequence, appertaining to him as he is a Man, in regard Man is a living-creature.
And it is indeed confessed ( not much otherwise) of all men, that the soul is far more to be esteemed than the body: and that the body is but as it were an Instrument moved by the soul, as is evident in death. For if thereby the soul be divided from the body, it is immediately as much without motion, as a Workman’s Tools when he has cast them aside.
This is manifest that MAN in some things participates with creatures void of life, and that he is partaker also of life, as those living-creatures be, which are unreasonable: and that he is endowed likewise with understanding, as are Creatures reasonable. With inanimate creatures Man partakes in this, that he has a Body, and in his mixture of the four Elements. He agrees with Plants, not only in that which is afore-mentioned, but in having also both a nourishing and a seeding-power. His coherence with unreasonable Creatures ( over and above all the former particulars) is, in having a certain voluntary motion, appetite, anger, and a power enabling him to feel and breathe: for all these are common both to Men and unreasonable creatures. Furthermore, he communicates with Intelligent incorporeal Natures, in reasoning, understanding, judging, and in pursuing virtue and a good life, which is the chief end of all virtues.
These things considered, MAN stands in such a Being as comprehends the sensible and intelligible Nature. In respect of his Bodily powers, and of his Bodily substance ( which is subject unto sense) he agrees both with living-creatures, and with things void of life. In respect of his Reasonable part he communicates with Substances which are bodiless ( or spiritual) as has been said before: For, GOD, the Creator of all things, has seemed by little and little so to collect and knit together sundry differing natures, that all created things should become ONE. And indeed, it will be a manifest proof unto us, that there is but One Creator of all things, if we well consider how fitly he has united the substance of individual things by their particular parts; and all the several species ( throughout the world) by an excellent sympathy.
For, as in every living creature he has joined the parts insensible with such as have sense in them ( as bones, fat, hair, ( and other insensible parts) to the flesh and sinews ( which are sensible) compounding the Living-creature both of sensible and insensible portions; and declaring that all these together make but one living-creature: Even so he has joined one to another, every particular species which was created, by ordering and compounding that agreement and disagreement which is in their natures; In so much that things inanimate do not greatly differ from Plants which have in them a vegitative and nourishing life; neither are Plants wholly differing from sensible living creatures void of reason; nor are those unreasonable creatures so alienated in all things from creatures endowed with reason, as that they have no natural alliance or similitude, whereby they may be linked one to another.
For even in stones ( which are inanimate creatures, not having in them, for the most part, so much as a vegitative life) there is otherwise a certain power, making them to differ from each other even in their stony properties: but the Loadstone seems very far to exceed the nature and virtue of other stones, in that it both attracts Iron thereunto, and also detains it ( being so attracted) as if it would be nourished thereby. Neither does it exercise this virtue upon one piece of Iron alone; but, by that one piece, links fast another, and imparts his own power to all other pieces which are contiguous thereunto: yea Iron draws Iron, when it is touched by the Loadstone.
Moreover, when the CREATOR passed from Plants to living-creatures, he rushed not ( as we may say) all at once, into things whose nature is to remove from place to place; and, to such as are endowed with sense: but, he proceeded, rather, by degrees, and by a natural and most comely progression. For, the Shell-fishes called Pinnae, and Urticae, are so made as if they were certain Plants, having sense in them. For, he fastened them in the Sea with roots, and covered them also with shells as with bark. And, as therein he made them to participate with Plants; so, he gave them likewise ( in some measure) the feeling-sense, which is common to living-creatures. They agree with Plants in being rooted and fixed, and they communicate with living-creatures in their feeling. In like manner the Sponge ( though it be rooted in the Rocks) is of itself, opened and contracted, according as the passanger approaches toward it, or departs from it. And therefore, Wise men have anciently termed such things, in English, “ Life-Plants”, if by a new word I may so name that which is partly a living-creature, and partly a Plant.
After the Fishes called Pinnae, he proceeded unto those, which ( being unable to pass far from their station) do move only to and fro within some certain space, such as are the most part of those, which have shells, and are called the bowels of the earth. He went further, and added ( in the like manner,) something to everything in particular ( as to some things more senses; and to some other, more ability to remove themselves from place to place) and, came next to those unreasonable- creatures which are more-perfect. Those, I call more-perfect-creatures, which have obtained all the senses, and, can also remove themselves to places far distant.
And when GOD passed from unreasonable-creatures to MAN ( a Creature endowed with Reason) he did not perfect him in himself, ( and, as it were, all at once;) but, first, ingrafted into some other living-creatures, certain natural wiles, sleights, and devices for the saving of themselves, which, make them seem to be almost reasonable-creatures: And, having done all this, he, then, brought forth MAN, which is, indeed, the true Reasonable-Creature.
The same Order ( if it be well considered) will appear in the Voice, which from the noise of Horses and Oxen is brought, by little and little, from one plain simple sound, unto the voices of Crows and Nightingales, ( whose voices consist of many notes, can imitate what they are taught) and, so, by degrees it is terminated in the Articulate voice of MAN, which is distinct and perfect.
Furthermore, he made the various expressions of the Tongue to depend upon the Mind, and upon Reason; ordaining the speech to publish forth the motions of the Mind: And, in this wise, by a sweet Musical proportion, he ( collecting all things together) incorporated all into ONE as well, things intelligible, as things visible, and, made MAN as a means thereunto.
I. Why MAN was first made, and why he has in him somewhat of the Nature of all Creatures.
II. II. MAN is the Bounder between visible and Intellectual things, and becomes either an Earthly or Spiritual MAN, according as he is inclined to Good or Evil. A distinction between the Goods of the Mind and Body; and between the life of MAN as he is Man, and as he is merely a living-creature.
III. The opinion of the Hebrews touching the mortality and immortality of MAN.
These things considered, Moses in expressing the Creation of the World, did very properly affirm that MAN was last made. Not only, because all things being made for MAN, it was most convenient, that all such things ought first to be provided, which were necessarily pertinent to his use; and that he who was to have the use of them, should afterward be created: But, in respect both intellectual and visible substances, were created, it seemed also convenient, that One should be made, by whom those two Natures should be so united together, that the whole World might become ONE; and be in its own self so agreeable, that the same might not be at variance, or estranged from itself. Even to this end, was MAN made such a living-creature, as might join together both Natures, and ( to sum up all in a word) therein was manifested the admirable wisdom of the universal CREATOR.
Now MAN being placed ( as it were) in the Bounds between the Reasonable-nature, and that which is Irrational; if he incline to the Body, settling the main part of his affections upon corporeal things; he chooses and embraces the life of unreasonable-creatures; and, for that cause, shall be numbered among them, and be called ( as Saint Paul termed him) An earthly MAN, to whom it shall be thus said, “Earth thou art, and to Earth thou shalt return”: yea by this means he becomes ( as the Psalmist affirms) like the Beast which has no understanding. But, if he incline rather to the Reasonable part, and condemning Bodily lusts and pleasures, shall make choice to follow that blessed and divine life which is most agreeable unto MAN, he shall, then, be accounted a Heavenly MAN, according to that saying; “Such as the earth is, such are they that are earthly; such as the heavenly are, such are they that are heavenly”: and indeed that which principally pertains unto the Reasonable-Nature, is to avoid and oppose Evil, and love and follow that which is Good.
Of God things some are common both to the Soul and to the Body ( of which sort the Virtues are) and these have a relation unto the Soul, in respect of the use which it makes of the Body, being joined thereunto.
Some good things pertain to the soul only, by itself, ( so that it should not need the help of the body) as godliness, and the Contemplation of the nature of things: and therefore so many as are desirous to live the life of MAN as he is a MAN, ( and not only in that he is a living creature) do apply themselves to Virtue and Piety. But we will anon show distinctly what things pertain to Virtue, and what to Piety, when we come to discourse of the Soul and of the Body: For, seeing we do not yet know what our Soul is in respect of the substance thereof, it is not yet convenient for us to treat here, of those things that are wrought by it.
The Hebrews affirm that MAN was made from the beginning, neither altogether mortal, neither wholly immortal, but, as it were, in a state between both those natures, to the end that if he did follow the affections of the body, he should be liable to such alterations which belong to the body; But if he did prefer such good things as pertain to the soul, he should then be honoured with Immortality. For, if GOD had made MAD absolutely mortal from the beginning, he would not have condemned him to die after he had offended; because it had been a thing needless to make him mortal by condemnation, who was mortal before. And on the other side, if he had made Man absolutely immortal, he would not have caused him to stand in need of nourishment; for, nothing that is immortal needs bodily nourishment.
Moreover, it is not to be believed, that God would so hastily have repented himself, and made Him to be forthwith mortal, who was created absolutely immortal: For it is evident that he did not so in the Angels that sinned, but ( according to the nature which they obtained from the beginning) they remained immortal, undergoing for their offences, not the penalty of Death, but of some other punishment. It is better therefore, either to be of the first mentioned opinion touching this matter; or, else, thus to think, that MAN was indeed created mortal, but, yet, in such wise that if he were perfected by a virtuous and pious progression, he might become immortal: that is to say, he was made such a One, as had in him a potential ability to become immortal.
I. Our Author shows why the Tree of knowledge of good and evil was forbidden; &, that it was, at first, expedient for MAN to be ignorant of his own Nature.
II. MAN by the Transgression, attained that knowledge of himself, which diverted him from the way of perfection and Immortality.
III. The Elementary composition and nourishment of Man’s body: The reasons also why it needed feeding, clothing, caring, etc. and why MAN was made a Creature sensible, and capable of Arts and Sciences, etc.
It being inexpedient, rather than any way helpful, for MAN to know his own nature, before he came to his perfection, GOD forbade him to taste of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: For there were, and doubtless as yet there are very great virtues in Plants; but at the first, ( in respect it was in the beginning of the world’s Creation) their virtues being ( before the curse) pure and void of all mixture, had in them a strong operation: and it is not therefore strange that there should be ( by God’s providence) the taste of a certain Tree, that should have a power given to engender in our first parents, the knowledge of their own nature.
The cause why God would not have MAN to know his own nature, before he had attained to perfection, was this: lest he knowing himself to stand in need of many things should ( as by the sequel we find it manifest) labour only to supply the wants of his Body, and utterly cast away the care of his Soul; and for this cause did God forbid him to taste of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil.
By disobeying this commandment, MAN attained to the knowledge of Himself, but thereby fell from the state of growing to perfection, and busied himself in taking care of such things as the body needed: For ( according to the words of Moses) as soon as he had eaten, He knew that he was naked, and immediately sought about to get a covering for his nakedness: whereas, until then, God kept him as it were in a Trance, and in such case that he knew not himself.
When he fell away from the state of growing to perfection. He fell also from his immortality, which by the mercy of his Creator he shall recover again at the last. In the meantime it was granted him that he should eat flesh ( whereas before his fall, God willed him to be content with such things only as grew out of the earth, all which he had provided for him in Paradise) yea the first means of growing to perfection being become desperate, it was permitted him to feed as he would.
Now, seeing MAN consisted of a Body ( as of one of his parts) and seeing every ( inferior compound) body is composed of the four Elements, it is necessary that such things should happen unto him, as the Elements are subject unto; That is to say, Cutting, mutation and flowing. By mutation I mean mutation in Quality; and I term it Flowing when he is emptied or purged of such things as are in him: For a living-creature has always his evacuations, both by such pores as are manifestly seen, and by such also as we see not; whereof I shall speak hereafter.
It is necessary therefore, that so much should be taken in again, as was evacuated; seeing else, the living-creature would perish through defect of what should re-enter to supply the want: And ( if the things evacuated be either dry, or moist, or spirits) it is as necessary that the living-creature should have a continual supply of dry and moist nourishments, and of spirits.
The meats and drinks which we receive, are made of those Elements, whereof we also are composed: for every thing is nourished with what is agreeable and like unto it, and ( in diseases) we are cured with what is contrary ( to the disease).
There be some of the Elements which we sometime receive into our Bodies immediately of themselves; and sometime use means unto the receiving of them; as for example, we sometime receive water of itself; sometime we use Wine and Oil, and all those that are called moist fruits, as a means to receiving of water. For wine is nothing else but a certain water coming from the Vine, and so or so qualified. In like manner we partake of Fire sometime immediately, as when we are warmed by it; sometime also by the means of such things as we eat and drink: for all things contain in them some portion of Fire, more or less. We are in like case partakers of Air: either immediately when we breathe it, and have it spread round about us, or draw it in by our eating and drinking; or else by means of such other things as we receive into us.
But as for the Earth, we seldom or never receive it immediately, but by certain means. For, we eat the corn which comes of the earth. Larks, Doves, and Partridges feed oftentimes upon the earth; but Man usually feeds on the earth by the means of seeds, fruits, berries, and by the flesh which proceeds from things nourished by the Earth.
And forasmuch as God respecting not only a decency, but also the furnishing of us with a very quick sense of feeling, ( in which man exceeds all other living-creatures) he has clothed us neither with a tough skin as Oxen and other beasts, that have a thick hide; neither with large thick set hair, as goats, hares and sheep; neither with scales, as fishes and serpents; neither with hard shells, as Tortoises and Oysters; neither with a more fleshy bark, as Lobsters; neither with feathers, as birds; and therefore ( wanting these coverings) it is necessary we should have Raiment [Clothing], to supply that in us, which nature has bestowed on other living creatures.
These are the causes why we stand in need of nourishment and clothing: And not only for the same ends are our houses become necessary; but also that we may escape the violence of wild beasts, which is none of their least commodities.
Moreover ( by reason of the distemperature of qualities in the human body) Physicians and their art are likewise needful, that thereby ( as often as occasion requires) those things which are rent asunder, may be fastened again together for the preservation of health. And whereas the alteration consists in the quality, it is necessary that we bring the state of the body to a just temperature by the contrary Quality: For, it is not the Phycian’s purpose ( as some think) to cool the Body which has been in a heat, but to change it into a temperate state; seeing if they should cool it, the disease turns ( not to the health, but) to the contrary sickness.
Now in regard of Arts and Sciences, ( and by the necessary use which we have of such things as they accomplish) it so comes to pass that we need the mutual assistance one of another, and by that need which we have each of other, many of us assembling together in common, do thereby the more conveniently bargain and contract for such things as may serve to supply the necessities of life.
This meeting and dwelling together, was anciently termed by the name of a City; by the near neighbourhood thereof, men received aid and profit by each other’s arts & labours, without the discommodities of long and far Travel. For. Man was naturally made to be such a living-creature, as should be sociable, & delighted in neighbourhood. And forasmuch as men could not otherwise be so conveniently provided of useful things; it is evident that the study of Arts, and the necessity of Traffic [Business] were the first occasions of erecting Cities.
I. Of the two Priviledges which MAN has obtained above all other Creatures, ( viz.) to be capable of the Forgiveness of sins, and Immortality: The Justice and Mercy of GOD in vouchsafing the pardon of sin to MAN, and denying the same to Angels.
II. Man only is a creature capable of learning Arts and Sciences: A Definition of Man, and Reasons justifying every branch of that Definition.
III. The World was not made for the Angels, nor for any other, but MAN only. To him was committed the government of the Universe, with a limitation to use, not abuse the Creatures.
There are also two Priviledges which Man has specially gotten above all other. One is, to obtain pardon by Repentance; the other is that his body being mortal should be brought to immortality. This ( priviledge) of the body, he gets by means of the soul; and the priviledge of the soul, by reason of the body: Yea, among Reasonable creatures, Man only has obtained this Peculiar, that God vouchsafes him the pardon of sin upon repentance: For neither the Devils nor the Angels are vouchsafed pardon, though they do repent.
Hereby the most exact Justice, and admirable mercy, of GOD is both fully proved and evidently declared: For, good cause is there why pardon should not be granted to Angels, though they do repent; because there is nothing in them, which naturally allures or draws them to sin; and in regard also that they ( of their own nature) are free from all passions, wants, and pleasures of the body.
But MAN, though he be endowed with Reason, yet he is also a bodily living creature, and therefore his wants ( in that he is such a living creature) together with his passions, do often blind and captivate his reason. And therefore ( when he returns again by repentance, and applies himself unto virtue) he obtains mercy and forgiveness: For as it is proper to the Essence of MAN to have the ability of laughing ( because it agrees to man only, to all men, and ever to man) so ( in respect of those things, which proceed from the grace of God) it is proper unto Man above all Creatures endued with Reason, to be delivered, by Repentance, from the accusation and guiltiness of all those things wherein he has formerly transgressed. Yea, this Grace is given to MAN only; to all men; and ever to man, during the continuence of his life in this world, and no longer: for after Death there is no more Forgiveness.
Some there be who give a reason why the Angels could no more obtain pardon by repentance after they had fallen; and it is this that follows. The Fall of Angels, was ( as they affirm) a kind of Death unto them; and God vouchsafed them the tender of a pardon before their uter falling away, when like account was to be made of them, as is made of Men during this life: But because they accepted not the grace offered, they received afterward ( as a just reward) punishment everlasting without pardon. And hereby it plainly appears that such as refuse Repentance, do reject that which is a special good gift of God, and peculiar to MAN.
This also is one of the things proper and peculiar unto MAN, that of all other living creatures only the body of MAN should arise again after Death, and aspire to Immortality. This priviledge the body gains in respect of the immortality of the soul; as likewise the soul obtains the other ( that is to say, pardon after Repentance) in respect that the Body, is weak and troubled with many passions.
It is a thing proper also, to MAN only, to learn Arts and Sciences, and to work according unto such Arts: For which cause they who define him, say thus; MAN is a living creature, endued with Reason, mortal, capable of Consideration and Science.
He is termed a living-creature, in that he is a substance having life endued with sense: for, that is the definition of a living-creature.
He is said to be endued with Reason, that he may be distinguished from unreasonable-creatures.
He is called mortal, to make a difference betwixt him and the Reasonable-creatures, that are immortal.
And this clause [capable of Consideration & Science] is added thereunto, because we come to Arts and Sciences by learning of them, having in us naturally a certain potential ability to receive both understanding and Arts; but, not actually attaining them save by study and practice.
There be some, who say that this last clause was lately added to the Definition; and that it had been good enough without the same, were it not, that some bring in their Nymphs, and other petty Deities of those kinds, who are said to live long, and yet not to be immortal; And to distinguish MAN from those, these words, Capable of consideration and science were judged needful; because, none of that sort are thought to learn anything; but, to know naturally, whatsoever they are said to know.
The Jews are of opinion that the whole World was made for MAN ( even immediately for his sake) as Oxen with other beasts for tillage, or to bear burdens; and, as grass was made for the Beasts. For, some things were made for their own sakes; and some for the sakes of others. All reasonable-creatures were made for their own sakes: Unreasonable-creatures and things without life, were ordained for others, not for themselves.
Now if such things were made in respect of others, let us consider for whom they were, indeed, created. Shall we think they were made for the Angels? Doubtless, no wise man will say that they were made for their sakes; because, the things made for the respect or sake of another, must concern either the making, or the continuance, or the recreation of those things for which they were made: For, they are made either in respect of the propagation and succession of their kind; or of their nourishment; or to cover them; or to cure them, or for their better welfare and rest.
Now the Angels need no such things; for they neither have any succession of their kind, neither want clothing, bodily nourishment, nor any thing else: And, if Angels have no need of such things, it is then evident that no other nature having place above the Angels; can have need of them; because by how much higher the place of it is, so much the less need has it of supply or assistance of another.
This being so, we must seek out a Nature which is endued with Reason, and yet needs such things as are aforementioned; and what other nature can be found of that sort, if MAN be passed over? Surely none: And if no other can be discovered, it follows by good reason that both things void of life, and unreasonable-creatures, were made for the sake of MAN; and if they were ordained for him ( as it is evident they were) then, that was likewise the cause why he was constituted the Governor also of those creatures.
Now, it is the duty of a Governor, to use those things which are put under his government, in such manner and measure as need and convenience shall require; and not to abuse them untemperately, or to serve voluptuously his own delicate Appetite. Neither ought he to bear himself tyrannously or ungently towards those whom he governs. For, they that so do ( yea and they that use not mercifully, their unreasonable-cattle) are therein great Offenders; neither performing the part of a Governor, nor of a just man, according to that which is written, “ The just man has compassion upon the life of his Beast”.
I. It is here proved, that neither things without-life, nor the unreasonable-creatures, were made for themselves; First, by arrangements taken from the consideration of the nature and use of things without life.
II. It is proved also by considering those creatures, which are void of reason, and which are ( for the most part) very serviceable to MAN.
III. And lastly, it is proved by considering those things which seem to be rather harmful than profitable to Mankind.
But some perhaps will say, that nothing was made in respect of another but everything in respect of itself. Therefore, distinguishing first between things inanimate and those that have life, let us observe whether things void of life are likely to have been created only for their own sake.
For if those things were made in respect of themselves, how, or upon what should living-creatures feed? We see that Nature out of the earth produces food both of fruits, and of plants, to every living-creature, some few excepted, whose feeding is upon flesh; yea, and those creatures which are nourished by eating flesh, do feed on such beasts as are sustained by eating the fruits of the earth: For, Lions and Wolves, feed on Lambs, Goats, Harts, and Swine. Eagles also, and all sorts of Hawks, devour Partridges, Doves, Hares, and such like; which are fed with what springs out of the ground.
Moreover, the nature of those Fishes which devour one another, does not so extend itself to all fishes, that they do generally devour the flesh of one another; but it breaks off in such as eat weeds and such other things as grow in the water. For, if all sorts of fishes had been inclined to eat the flesh of one another, so that no kind of them could feed on any thing else, but on the flesh of themselves, verily they could not have long continued ( no not for a small time) but would have been utterly destroyed, some of them each by other, and the rest for lack of meat.
To the intent then, that it might not so happen, certain Fishes were so made, that they might abstain from the flesh of the rest, and feed ( if I may so term it) on the grass of the Sea, that, by them, the other sorts of fishes might be preserved. These fishes feed upon weeds; other fishes feed upon them; Those, again, are food for other greater fishes. So, by the feeding on such fishes as last of all do eat the weeds of the Sea, ( which come of the slimy waters) the substance of the rest of the fishes is successively continued.
Having reasonably demonstrated, that the Plants were not created in respect of themselves, but in regard of the nourishment and nature both of Men & of other living-creatures, it will be thereby manifest that such things also were made in respect of Man and other living-creatures, which are means and causes of the increase and preservation of those inferior things: And if that be so, it will be as apparent that the motions of the stars, the firmament, the seasons of the year, the showers, and all such like things, were made in respect of those things without life afore-mentioned, and to the end that nourishment being continually administered unto them, the nature of such fruits might be perpetuated, and that Men and living-creatures also ( for whom those were ordained) might be preserved, by them.
It rests now to consider whether the nature of unreasonable-creatures, was made in respect of itself, or for MAN’S cause: and sure, it cannot but be very absurd, to affirm that things incapable of understanding, and living only by an instinct of Nature( yea, things groveling toward the earth, and by their very shape declaring their bondage) should be brought into the world for their own sake. Much might be spoken to prove the contrary, even so much as would spin out this one point to the length of a Treatise, if I should handle the same at large, and therefore I will briefly mention in this place, those things only which are of greatest weight.
By seriously considering ( as it were in a glass or image) those things which are without us by such things as are within us, we should make a plain demonstration hereof; yea, and by considering the very substance of the things themselves, which are in question. For, if we ponder in our mind that part of our selves, which is irrational, and the parts thereof ( I mean appetite and anger, which are ordained to serve the Reasonable-part) we shall there see, that Reason rules, and that the unreasonable-parts, are ruled; that Reason commands, and that the other are commanded, and serviceable to such uses, as Reason will have them to be subject unto; if MAN preserve that condition which does naturally appertain unto him.
Now then, if our part which is reasonable does bear rule over our unreasonable-parts, which are within us; seems it not much more probable, that our reasonable-part should have dominion over such unreasonable-things as are without us? And that such things were ordained to serve our necessities? Especially seeing it is according to the law of Nature that the unreasonable should be subject to the reasonable, as has been declared by those things which are in our selves?
This may be further manifested, by considering that diverse creatures are made even fit for the necessary services of MAN. For, Oxen and all bearing cattle are naturally fitted for the tillage of the earth, and for bearing of burdens. Sundry other beasts of the field also, and many fishes and fowls, for dainty feeding, yea, and singing birds for our delight and recreation.
And al-beit all things do not always serve to such pleasing uses, but that there are some which may seem rather to harm and destroy man; it is to be considered that when those things were created, the special end of whose creation was at first for man’s service; all other things which might be otherwise useful were then created also, that in the Creation there might be no defect, or want of such things whereof there might be afterward any use.
Neither were such things as are now accounted harmful, exempted utterly from the profitable fruition of man; but he by reason, does, or may, fruitfully employ to his advantage, even the most venomous things. For, he uses poisonous creatures to the curing of such harms as come by those, and other venomous beasts, and to the curing of many infirmities other ways occasioned. Such are the confections called …….( whereof our Triacle is one sort) which reason has invented, that by their own power those things might be made to concur themselves, and procure health and safety ( as it were) from conquered enemies.
Man has also many other things of great virtue given unto him by his Creator, which being contrary to those mischievious things, have in them a power to withstand or qualify their virulent operations; to remedy their hurts, and to defend him from their secret assaults. One thing serves to one use, other things to other uses, and God has so provided that all things should be helpful for the benefit and preservation of Man, yea and some things there be which are serviceable no way else.
SECTION 6…………. ( to be continued)……..