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This true Prometheus, first made man of earth,
And shed in him a beam of heavenly fire ; Now in their mother's wombs, before their birth,
Doth in all sons of men their souls inspire.
And as Minerva is in fables said,
From Jove, without a mother, to proceed : So our true Jove, without a mother's aid,
Doth daily millions of Minervas breed.
ERRONEOUS OPINIONS OF THE CREATION OF SOULS.
Thes neither from eternity before,
Nor from the time, when time's first point begun, Made he all souls, which now he keeps in store ;
Some in the Moon, and others in the Sun:
Nor in a secret cloister doth he keep
These virgin-spirits, till their marriage day ; Nor locks them up in chambers, where they sleep,
Till they awake within these beds of clay.
Nor did he first a certain number make,
Infusing part in beast and part in men ; And, as unwilling further pains to take,
Would make no more than those he framed then.
So that the widow soul, her body dying,
Unto the next born body married was; And so, by often changing and supplying,
Men's souls to beasts, and beasts to men did pass.
(These thoughts are fond; for since the bodies
born Be more in number far, than those that die, Thousands must be abortive, and forlorn
Ere others' deaths to them their souls supply:)
But as God's handmaid, Nature, doth create
Bodies in time distinct, and order due ;
Which himself makes, in bodies formed new:
Which himself makes of no material thing;
For unto angels he no pow'r hath giv'n Either to form the shape, or stuff to bring
From air or fire, or substance of the Heav'n.
Nor herein doth he Nature's service use;
For though from bodies she can bodies bring, Yet could she never souls from souls traduce,
As fire from fire, or light from light doth spring,
THAT THE SOUL IS NOT EX TRADUCE.
Alas! that some who were great lights of old,
And in their hands the lamp of God did bear! Some rey’rend fathers did this error hold,
Having their eyes dimm’d with religious fear.
For when, say they, by rule of faith we find,
That ev'ry soul unto her body knit,
The root of all the ill she doih commit.
How can we say that God the soul doth make,
But we must make him author of her sin ? Then from man's soul she doth beginning take,
Since in man's soui corruption did begin.
For if God make her first, he makes her ill,
(Which God forbid our thoughts should yield Or makes the body her fair form to spill, (unto ;)
Which, of itself, it had not pow'r to do.
Not Adam's body, but his soul did sin,
And so herself unto corruption brought ; But our poor soul corrupted is within,
Ere she had sinn'd, either in act or thought :
And yet we see in her such pow’rs divine,
As we could gladly think, from God she came: Fain would we make him author of the wine,
If for the dregs we could some other blame.
Thus these good men with holy zeal were blind,
When on the other part the truth did shine ; Whereof we do clear demonstrations find,
By light of nature, and by light divine.
None are so gross as to contend for this,
That souls from bodies may traduced be; Between whose natures no proportion is,
When root and branch in nature still agree.
But many subtle wits have justify'd,
That souls from souls spiritually may spring ; Which (if the nature of the soul be try'd)
Will e'en in nature prove as gross a thing.
REASONS DRAWN FROM NATURE.
For all things made, are either made of nought,
Or made of stuff that ready made doth stand: Of nought no creature ever formed ought,
For that is proper to th’ Almighty's hand.
If then the soul another soul do make,
Because her pow'r is kept within a bound, She must some former stuff or matter take ;
But in the soul there is no matter found.
Then if her heav'nly form do not agree
With any matter which the world contains, Then she of nothing must created be;
And to create, to God alone pertains.
Again, if souls do other souls beget,
'Tis by themselves, or by the body's pow'r:
And if we dare to judge our Maker's will,
He can condemn us, and himself can clear,
First, God from infinite eternity.
Decreed, what hath been, is, or shall be done ; And was resolv'd that ev'ry man should be,
And in his turn his race of life should run :
And so did purpose all the souls to make,
That ever have been made, or ever shall; And that their being they should only take
In human bodies, or not be at all.
Was it then fit that such a weak event
(Weakness itself, the sin and fall of man) His counsel's execution should prevent,
Decreed and fix'd before the world began?
Or that one penal law, by Adam broke,
Should make God break his own eternal law; The settled order of the world revoke,
And change all forms of things which he foresaw?
Could Eve's weak hand, extended to the tree,
In sunder rent that a lamantine chain, Whose golden links, effects and causes be;
And which to God's own chair doth six'd remain ?
O could we see how cause from cause doth spring!
How mutually they link'd and folded are ! And hear how oft one disagreeing string
The harmony doth rather inake than mar!