Scepsis Scientifica - Chap. I.

Chap. I.

            WHATEVER is the innocence and infelicity of the present state, we cannot, without affronting the divine goodness, deny, but that at first we were made wise and happy; for nothing of specific imperfection or deformity could come from the hands that were directed by an almighty wisdom; so that, whatever disorders have since befallen them, all things were at first disposed by an omniscient intellect that cannot contrive ineptly; and ourselves exactly formed according to the deeds of that mind, which frames things consonantly to the rules of their respective natures. But a particular knowledge of the blest advantages, and happy circumstances of our primitive condition, is lost with innocence; and there are scarce any hints of conjecture from the present. However, this perhaps we may safely venture on by way of general description:

            That the eternal wisdom from which we derive our beings, enriched us with all those enoblements that were suitable to the measures of an unstraightned goodness, and the capacity of such a kind of creature. And as the primogenial light which at first was diffused over the face of the unfashioned chars, was afterwards contracted into the fountain luminaries; so those scattered perfections which were divided among the several ranks of inferior natures, were summed up, and constellated in ours. Thus the then happy temper of our condition and affairs anticipated the aspires to be like gods; and possibly was scarce to be added to as much as in desire. But the unlikeness of it to our now miserable, because apostate, state, makes it almost as impossible to be conceived, as to be regained. 'Twas a condition envied by creatures that nature had placed a sphere above us; and such as differed not much from glory and blessed immortality but in perpetuity and duration.

            For since the most despicable and disregarded pieces of decayed nature are so curiously wrought, and adorned with such eminent signatures of divine wisdom as speak it their author, and that after a curse brought upon a disordered universe: with how rich an embroidery then think we were the nobler composures dignified in the days of spotless innocence? And of how sublime a quality were the perfections of the creature that was to wear the image of the prime perfection? Doubtless, they were as much above the hyperboles that fond poetry bestowes upon its admired objects, as their flattered imperfect beauties are really below them. And the most refined glories of subcelestial excellencies are but more faint resemblances of these. For all the powers and faculties of this copy of the divinity, this medal of God, were as perfect, as beauty and harmony in idea. The soul being not cloyed by an unactive mass, as now; nor hindered in its actings, by the distemperature of indisposed organs, passions kept their place, and transgressed not the boundaries of their proper natures; nor were the disorders began which are occasioned by the licence of unruly appetites. Now though perhaps some will not allow such vast advantages to the terrestrial Adam, which they think not consistent with the history, and circumstances of his defection: yet those that suppose the allegory and preexistence, will easily admit all this, and more of the ethereal condition. But I'll not determine anything in matters of so high and difficult a nature; whichever is the truth, this general account I have given is not concerned; I asserting only what both will acknowledge, that the first condition of our natures was a state of blessedness and perfection.

 

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