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BOOK opinions of the gods. But I rather think Empedocles'
opinion is misrepresented, since the author of the book De Mundo (which is very ancient, if not Aristotle's) gives another account of him, and saith, He derived the forming of animals from God; and his verses, as they are in Simplicius, do not deny it, but only shew that all things, except God, came from different principles.
But we are not deceived in the third hypothesis of Epicurus and his followers; which, as Redi represents it, is, That mankind and other animals were inclosed in certain coats and membranes in the womb of the earth, which being broken in due time, they were all exposed naked, without any sense of heat or cold, and sucked the earth for nourishment; but the earth grew too old for such births, and therefore was contented ever since to bring forth nothing but insects. This is so well known to be the Epicurean hypothesis, from Lucretius, Censorinus, &c. that there needs no farther proof of it. But whether it can be thought reasonable, is the thing now to be considered. And herein these two things are supposed. 1. That there was a fit disposition of the earth to produce them, and a capacity in it to form wombs and bags to preserve them till they were able to take nourishment; and that the earth did afford a sort of milk to support them. 2. That the use of all the parts of human bodies came only by chance, and were not formed with any design; both which are very unreasonable suppositions.
How can they make it appear that there ever was any such disposition of the heavens and earth to produce animals, more than there is still ? When they were told, that if the earth could at first produce animals, why not still? their answer was, The seasons are changed, the heavens were more benign,
Lucret. v. 816.
1. ii. c. 11.
and the earth more fruitful, than they have been CHAP. since.
At novitas mundi nec frigora dura ciebat,
Omnia enim pariter crescunt, et robora sumunt. And Lactantius sets down their opinion more distinctly, Lactant. That certain motions of the heavens are necessary to ed. Oxon. this production of animals, as well as the freshness of the earth; and that then there was no winter nor summer, but a perpetual spring. But how came such a proper season for this purpose at that time, and never since ? Animals, say they, can never since propagate themselves. But what is this to the season? Do the seasons alter as there is occasion ? Then there is a superior Mind to direct them. If there be a natural course of the heavens, which caused the earth to be then prolifical, that must return and put a new vigour into the earth, and make it young again. And this our modern atheistical philosophers in Italy, such as Cardan, Pomponatius, and others, saw very well; and therefore asserted, that, upon certain conjunctions of the heavens, the same effects would follow. So Beri- Berigard. gardus; who saith, that Cardan and Pomponatius laid much weight on this story in Diodorus Siculus, about part v. animals produced by the Nile ; and he adds another, very ridiculous, as he pretends out of Camerarius, of several parts of human bodies which are seen to appear every year rising out of the earth about Grand Cairo: and he thinks they were like the Egyptian mice, part earth and part animals. What will not such men be inclined to believe, rather than the truth! As when he adds, of the two green boys in England, which came out of a wolf's den 500 years since; and the blue and red men out of the mountains of Armenia: which are such incredible fictions, that it is a wonder
BOOK any one that pretends to common sense could repeat
them. But as to the Egyptian story in Camerarius, it relates not at all to the first making of bodies, but to the resurrection from the dead. Camerarius neither pretends to have seen it himself, nor that his friend did;
but that his friend heard one that had been a great Camerar. traveller say, That in a certain place not far from the cis. Cent. i. Pyramids, at a certain time of the year, a great mul
titude met to see the resurrection of the dead, as they called it; and then he said some part of the body seemed to come out of the earth; sometimes the head, sometimes the feet, and sometimes the greater part of the body; which were afterwards hid under the earth again. And another friend of his shewed him an old Itinerary to the same purpose; and that the place was two miles from the Nile, in an old burying-place; and that it lasted three days, and then no more were seen that year. But he added, that they were not seen rising up or walking; and he saith, that he saw it not
himself. But Camerarius himself censures it as a suMartin. à perstitious folly. Martinus à Baumgarten saith, That Baumgart.
at Cairo it was believed, in his time, that at a certain Peregrin.
mosque near the Nile, the bodies of the dead do arise out of their graves at the time of prayers, and there stand, and disappear when they are over; which he
calls a diabolical illusion. But when our ingenious Sandys's Mr. Sandys was in Egypt, the story was changed; for Travels,
then it was affirmed, That not far from the Nilus, upon Good-Friday, the arms and legs of a number of men did appear stretched
forth of the earth, to the astonishment of the multitude. Which he not improbably conjectures to have been taken out of the mummies, not far off, by the watermen, (who gain very much by it,) and placed conveniently in the sand to be seen, as they thought would raise the greatest admiration.
1. i. c. 18.
Since his time Mons. Thevenot, who was upon the CHAP. place, saith, That at Grand Cairo it is generally believed that on three days in Passion-Week some part Voyage de of the dead bodies lie out of the graves, and then re-Levant
, turn into the earth. He had the curiosity to go and ch. 12. see, and there found some skulls and bones, which they say confidently came out of the earth ; but he looked on it as a contrivance of the Santons. But if this prove any thing, it is not what Berigardus brings it for, that mankind came first out of the earth, but that there shall be a resurrection of the dead : for he saith, it was in a place where many dead bodies did lie buried, and not far from the mummies; which was the most famous place for burials in all Egypt: an account whereof is given by Bellonius, Peter della Valle, Bura-Bellon. I. ii. tine in Thevenot's Collection, Prince Radzivil, and se- Pietr: della veral others. Prince Radzivil observed, that there were
Valle, vol. i. vast numbers of skulls and bones scattered up and sect. 8. down, where the flesh had been taken off, and sold Relat. par.i. away for mummy. But besides these mummies, (as Peregrin. they are called,) there was continued a place of solemn Radzivil
, burial near to Grand Cairo by the Turks; so that there p. 187. were always bodies ready, that were not proper mummies, to make this annual shew with, to deceive the simple. But Berigardus is aware of the difficulty of assigning the manner how animals come out of the earth; and therefore he thinks it sufficient to shew that the earth can produce them one way or other, and afford them nourishment when they are produced. This he thinks absolutely necessary: and he suspects that Lucretius's Folliculi will not do the business; because it is impossible for children to subsist, if they did break the bags they were inclosed in, which were fastened to the earth. But if there were such a milky substance in the earth for new-born children to suck,
BOOK is that all that is necessary for their support, when
they are so unable to help themselves? Of all things, one would not expect to find milk in the breasts of the earth; and it must be some very happy conjunction of the planets to make the earth to give suck. How much would those, who are friends to religion, have been despised and laughed at, if they had made such absurd and ridiculous hypotheses as these ? If such a thing did arise from natural and necessary causes, it must continue; and since we are certain it hath never been since, we have no reason to think it ever was. If it were by chance, what hinders the same effect, unless chance were tied up to one certain time? And by what laws can chance be bounded? If it were by particular design at that time for the support of new-born animals, then there must be a Providence owned; and yet all this was invented on purpose to exclude Providence: which shews how weak and inconsistent this hypothesis is.
We account it a wonderful work of Providence, that, at the same time the child is formed in the womb of its mother, there should be so ample and suitable provision made for its nourishment in the mother's breasts against its coming into the world. Whether it be by turning the blood into milk, as was generally thought, or by a passage of the chyle from the ventricle thither, as some of late think, it cannot but be looked on as a work of design to turn the nourishment another way, on purpose to serve the necessities of the new-born child. But this is not all; but continual care and watchfulness of the nurse is necessary to preserve it other ways, as well as by feeding it. But these unadvised and fanciful makers of mankind think they have done their business, if they can but imagine the earth to afford some milky substance, to support the poor