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vulgar expressions; and this rule is set down by St. Austin*, where speaking concerning that in the psalm, who stretched the earth upon the waters, he notes, that when the words of scripture shall seem to contradict common sense or experience, there are they to be understood in a qualified sense, and not according to the letter. And it is observed, that for want of this rule t, some of the ancients have fastened strange absurdities upon the words of the scripture. So St. Ambrose esteemed it a heresy to think that the sun and stars were not very hot, as being against the words of scripture, Psalm xix. 6. where the Psalmist says, that there is nothing that is hid from the heat of the sun. So others there are that would prove the heavens not to be round, out of that place, Psalm civ. 2. He stretched out the heavens like a curtain. So Procopius also was of opinion, that the earth was founded upon the waters ; nay, he made it part of his faith, proving it out of Psalm xxiv. 2. He hath founded the earth upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. These and such like absurdities have followed, when men look for the grounds of philosophy in the words of scripture. So that, from what liath been said, I may conclude that the silence of scripture concerning any other world, is not sufficient argument to prove that there is none. Thus for the two first arguments.
Unto the third, I may answer, that this very example is quoted by others, to shew the ignorance of those primitive times, who did sometimes condemn what they did not understand; and have often censured the lawful and undoubted parts of mathematics for heretical, because they themselves could not perceive a reason of it. And therefore their practice in this particular is no sufficient testimony against us.
But lastly, I answer to all the above-named objections, that the term (world) may be taken in a double sense, inore generally for the whole universe, as it implies in it
* L. 2. in Gen. Ps. cxxxvi. 6.
+ Hexamer lib. 2. Item Basil. Ilom. 3. in Gen. Wisd, ii. 4. xvii. 5. Ecclus. xliii. 3, 4. Com. in c. 1 Gen.
the elementary and æthercal bodies, the stars and the earth. Secondly, more particularly for an inferior world, consisting of elements.
Now the main drift of all these arguments, is to confute a plurality of worlds in the first sense; and if there were any such, it might (perhaps) seem strange, that Moses or St. John should either not know, or not înention its creation. And Virgilius was condemned for this opinion, because he held quod sit alius mundus sub terra, aliusque sol & luna, (as Baronius) that within our globe of earth, there was another world, another sun and moon, and so he might seem to exclude this from the number of the other creatures.
But now tủere is no such danger in this opinion, which is here delivered ; since this world is said to be in the moon, whose creation is particularly expressed.
So that in the first sense, I yield that there is but one world, which is all that the arguments do prove; but understand it in the second sense, and so I affirm there may be more, nor do any of the above-named objections prove the contrary.
Neither can this opinion derogate from the divine wisdom (as Aquinas thinks) but rather advance it, shewing a compendium of Providence, that could make the same body a world, and a moon; a world for habitation, and a moon for the use of others, and the ornament of the whole frame of nature. For as the members of the body serve not only for the preservation of themselves, but for the use and conveniency of the whole, as the hand protects the head as well as saves itself *; so, is it in the parts of the universe, where each one may serve as well for the conservation of that which is within it, as the help of others without it.
Mersennus a late jesuit t, proposing the question whether. or no the opinion of more worlds than one, be heretical and
* Cusanus de Doct. Ignor. l. 2. c. 12.
Comment. in Gen. Qu, 19. Art. 2.
against the faith? He answers it negatively; because it does not contradict any express place of scripture, or determination of the church. And though (saith he) it seems to be a rash opinion, as being against the consent of the fathers; yet if this controversy be chiefly philosophical, then their authorities are not of such weight. Unto this it may be added, that the consent of the fathers is prevalent only in such points as were first controverted amongst them, and then generally decided one way, and not in such other particulars as never fell under their examination and dispute.
I have now in some measure shewed that a plurality of worlds does not contradict any principle of reason or place of scripture ; and so cleared the first part of that supposition which is implied in the opinion.
It may next be enquired, whether it is possible there may be a globe of elements in that which we call the æthereal parts of the universe ; for if this (as it is according to the common opinion) be privileged from any change or corruption, it will be in vain then to imagine any element there; and if we will have another world, we must then seek out some other place for its situation. The third proposition therefore shall be this.
That the heavens do not consist of any such pure matter,
which can privilege them from the like change and corruption as these inferior bodies are liable unto. T hath been often questioned amongst the ancient fa
should be of which the heavens are framed. Some think that they consist of a fifth substance distinct from the four elements, as Aristotle holds *, and with him
* De Cælo, lib. 1. cap. 2.
some of the late schoolmen ; whose subtil brains could not be content to attribute to those vast glorious bodies, but common materials, and therefore they themselves had rather take pains to prefer them to some extraordinary nature; whereas notwithstanding, all the arguments they could invent, were not able to convince a necessity of any such matter, as is confessed by their own side *. It were much to be desired, that these men had not in other cases, as well as this, multiplied things without necessity; and, as if there had not been enough to be known in the secrets of nature, have spun out new subjects from their own brains, to find more work for future ages. I shall not mention their arguments, since it is already confessed, that they are none of them of any necessary consequence; and besides, you may see them set down in any of the books de Celo.
But it is the general consent of the fathers, and the opinion of Lombard, that the heavens consist of the same matter with these sublunary bodies. St. Ambrose is so confident of it, that he esteems the contrary a heresy t. True indeed, they differ much among themselves, some thinking them to be made of fire, others of water, and others of both : but herein they generally agree, that they are all framed of some element or other; which Dionysius Carthusianus I collects from that place in Genesis, where the heavens are mentioned in their creation, as divided only in distance from the elementary bodies, and not as being made of any new matter. To this purpose others cite the derivation of the Hebrew word 'nu, quasi w ibi & op aquæ or quasi wa ignis & ano aquæ, because they are framed out of these elements. But concerning this, you may see sundry discourses more at large in Ludovicus Molina, Eusebius Nirembergius, with divers others. The venerable Bede thought the planets to consist of all the four elements ç; and it is likely that the
* Colleg. Connimh. de cælo. I. 1.c.2.q.6. art. 3. t In Hexam. lib. 4.
Enarrat. in Genes. art. 10. ộ In operc. 6 dierum disput. 5.
other parts of it are of an aereous substance, as will be shewed afterwards * : however, I cannot now stand to recite the arguments for either; I have only urged these authorities to countervail Aristotle and the schoolmen, and the better to make way for a proof of their corruptibility.
The next thing then to be enquired after, is, Whether they be of a corruptible nature † ; not whether they can be destroyed by God; for this scripture puts out of doubt.
Nor whether or no in a long time they would wear away and grow worse, for from any such fear they have been lately privileged I. But whether they are capable of such changes and vicissitudes, as this inferior world is liable unto.
The two chief opinions concerning this, have both erred in some extremity, the one side going so far from the other, that they have both gone beyond the right; whilst Aristotle hath opposed the truth as well as the Stoics.
Some of the ancients have thought, that the heavenly þodies have stood in need of nourishment from the elements, by which they were continually fed, and so had divers alterations by reason of their food. This is fathered on Heraclitus, followed by that great naturalist Pliny, and in general attributed to all the Stoicks g. You may see Seneca expressly to this purpose in these words. Er illa alimenta omnibus animalibus, omnibus satis, omnibus stellis dividuntur ; hinc profertur quo sustineantur tot sidera tam exercitata, tam avida, per diem, noctemque, ut in opera, ita in pastu. Speaking of the earth, he says, from thence it is that nourishment is divided to all the living creatures, the planets and the stars; hence were şustained so many constellations, so laborious, so greedy,
* In lib. de Mundi constit.
+ 2 Pet. iii. 12. By Doctor Ilakewill. Apol. lib. 2.
§ Plutarch de plac. Philos. l. 2. c. 17. Nat. Hist. 1. 2. c. 9. Nat. quest. lib. 2. cap. 5.