TO THE READER
To say that ARISTOTLE, the learned author of the following sheets, was reported to be the most learned philosopher in the world, is no more than what every intelligent person already knows; nor can any think otherwise who will give themselves time to consider that he was the scholar of Plato (the wisest philosopher of his time) and under whom Aristotle profited so much, that he was chosen by King Philip of Macedon as the most worthy and proper person in his dominions to be tutor to his son Alexander, by whose wise precepts and instructions Alexander became master of so great wisdom, judgment, powers, and magnanimity, that he justly obtained the title of the Great. Alexander himself was so sensible of the advantage he received from the instructions of so great a Stagirite (for so Aristotle was called from the country of Stagira, where he was born) that he often declared he was more beholden to his tutor, Aristotle, for the cultivation of his mind, than to Philip, his father, for the kingdom of Macedon.
Though Aristotle applied himself to the investigations of the secrets of Nature, yet he was pleased to bring into a fuller and more true light those secrets with respect to the generation of man. This he styled his MASTERPIECE; and in this he has made so thorough a search, that he has as it were turned nature inside out.
The divine record assures us that the secrets of Nature have been the study of divers illustrious persons equally renowned for wisdom and goodness; the first of whom, Job, has made it sufficiently evident by that excellent philosophical account he gives of the generation of man, in the tenth chapter of the book which bears his name; where he says, "Thine hands hath made me, and fashioned me together round about; Thou has poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese; Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews." David, one of the greatest kings of israel, whose piety was superior to his power, being peculiarly styled a man after God's own heart, says, in his divine soliloquies to his Creator, "Thou hast covered me in my mother's womb; I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvellous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from Thee when I was in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth; Thine eye did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in Thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
Let the words of holy Job and those of David be put together, and I will not scruple to affirm that they make the most accurate system of philosophy respecting the generation of man that has ever yet been penned; therefore, why should not the mysteries of Nature be inquired into without censure, since, from this inquiry, so much praise resounds to the God of Nature? The more we know of whose works the more our hearts will be inclined to praise Him, as we see in the instance of David above mentioned.
That the knowledge of the secrets of Nature is too often abused by many persons, I readily grant, and think it very unfortunate that there should be a generation of such profligate persons in the world; but at the same time do aver that this is no objection to this work.
Having said thus much of the wonderful works of Nature in the generation of man, I shall next proceed to give the reader the best Translation possible of that excellent Treatise of the renowned Aristotle, which he was pleased to style his MASTERPIECE.
I cannot help observing, that having met with a collection of approved Recipes by the great Hippocrates, and thinking they would be very acceptable to my readers, I have added the same by way of Supplement, at the end of the MASTERPIECE.