« EelmineJätka »
as related to civil power : but such relation doch not appear in the present case. It shou'd seein therefore, that they worship God' as present in the fire, which they worship or reverence, not ultimately or for it felf, but relatively to the supreme being. Which it is not unlikely was else. where the case at first; though the practice of men, especially of the vulgar, might in length of time degenerate from the original institution, and rest in the object of fense.
'185. Doctor Hyde, in his history of the religion of the ancient Persians, would have it thought, that they borrowed the use and reverence of perpetual fires, from the Jewish practice prefcribed in the Levitical law, of keeping a perpetual fire burning on the altar. Whether that was the case or not, thus much one may venture to say, it seems' probable that whatever was the original of this custom among the Persians, the like customs among the Greeks and Romans were derived from the same source.
186. It must be owned there are many parfages in holy scripture (a), that would make one think, the supreme being was in a peculiar manner present and manifest in the element of fire. Not to insist that God is more than once said to be a consuming fire, which might be understood in a meta phorical sense, the divine apparitions were by fire, in the bush, at mount Sinai, on the tabernacle, in the cloven tongues. God is represented in the inspired writings, as descending in fire, as attended by fire, or with fire going before him. Celestial things, as angels, chariots, and such like phænomena are invested with fire, light, and splendor. Ezekiel in his visions beheld (a) 179.
fire and brightness, lamps, burning coals of fire, and-flashes of lightening. In a vision of Daniel the throne of God appeared like a fiery Aame, and his wheels like burning fire. Also a fiery Aame iffued and came forth from before him.
187. At the transfiguration, the apostles saw our Saviour's face shining as the sun, and his rai. ment whice as light, also a lucid cloud or body of light, out of which the voice came; which visible light and splendor was, not many centuries ago, maintained by the Greek church, to have been divine, and uncreated, and the very glory of God: as may be seen in the history wrote by the emperor John Cantacuzene. And of late years bishop Patrick gives it as his opinion, that in the beginning of the world, the Shecinah or divine presence, which was then frequent and ordinary, appeared by light or fire. In commenting on that passage, where Cain is said to have gone out from the presence of the Lord, the bishop observes, that if Cain after this turned a downright idolater, as many think, it is very likely he introduced the worship of the sun, as the best refemblance he could find of the glory of the Lord, which was wont to appear in a faming light. It would be endless to enumerate all the passages of holy scripture, which confirm and illustrate this notion, or represent the Deity as appearing and operating by fire. The misconstruction of which might possibly have mined the Gnoftics, Balilidians, and other ancient heretics into an opinion, that Jesus Christ was the visible corporeal sun.
188. We have seen, that in the most remote ages and countries, the vulgar as well as the learn. ed, the institutions of lawgivers as well as the reasonings of philosophers, have ever considered
alts makinal sorts onded with
the element of fire in a peculiar light, and treates it with more than common regard, as if it were something of a very singular and extraordinary nature. Nor are there wanting authors of principal account among the moderns, who entertain like notions concerning fire, especially among those who are most conversant in that element, and should seem best acquainted with it.
189. Mr. Homberg the famous modern chemist, who brought that art to so great perfection, holds the substance of light or fire to be the true chemic principal sulphur (a), and to extend it self throughout the whole universe. It is his opinion that this is the only active principle. That mixed with various things it formeth several sorts of natural productions, with salts making oyl, with earth bitumen, with mercury metal. That this princi. ple of sulphur, fire, or the substance of light, is in it self imperceptible, and only becomes sensible as it is joined with some other principle, whichi serves as a vehicle for it. That, although it be the most active of all things, yet it is at the same time the most firm bond and cement to combine and hold the principles together, and give form to the mixed bodies. And, that in the analysis of bodies it is always loft, escaping the kill of the artist, and passing through the closest vessels.
190. Boerhaave, Niewenty’t, and divers other moderns are in the same way of thinking. They with the ancients distinguish a pure, elementary, invisible fire from the culinary, or that which appears in ignited bodies (b). This last they will not allow to be pure fire. The pure fire is to be discerned by it's effects alone ; such as heat, dila. tation of all solid bodies, and rarefaction of fluids, (a) 129. (6) 163, 166.
the the segregating heterogeneous bodies, and congregating those that are homogeneous. That therefore which smoakes and fames is not pure fire, but that which is collected in the focus of a mirrour or barning glass. This fire feems the source of all the operations in nature: without it nothing either vegetates, or putrefies, lives or moves or ferments, is dissolved or compounded or altered, throughout this whole natural world in which we subsist. Were it not for this, the whole wou'd be one great stupid inanimate mass. But this active element is supposed to be every where, and always present, imparting different degrees of life, heat, and motion, to the various animals, vegetables, and other natural productions, as well as to the elements themselves, wherein they are produced and nourished.
191. As water acts upon salt, or aqua fortis upon iron, so fire diffolves all other bodies. Fire, air, and water are all three menftruuins: but the two last seem to derive all their force and activity from the first (a). And indeed there seems to be, originally or ultimately, but one menftruum in nature, to which all other menftruums, may be reduced. Acid salts are a menftruum, but their force and distinct powers are from sulphur. Considered as pure, or in themselves, they are all of the same nature. But, as obtained by diftillacion, they are constantly joined with some sulphur, which characterizech and cannot be sepa- . rated from them. This is the doctrine of monsieur Homberg. But what is it that charecterizeth or differenceth the fulphurs themselves? If sulphur be the substance of light, as that author will have it, whence is it that animal, vege(a) 149.
table, and metallic sulphurs impart different qualities to the same acid sale ? Can this be explained upon Homberg's principles? And are we not obo Liged to suppofe, that light separated by the attracting and repelling powers in the strainers, ducts, and pores of those bodies, forms several di. Itinet kinds of sulphur, all which, before such separation, were loft and blended together, in one common mass of light or fire seemingly homoge. neous,
: 192. In the analysis of inflammable bodies, the fire or fulphur is loft, and the diminution of weight sheweth the loss (a). Oil is resolved into water, earth, and salt, none of which is inflammable. But the fire or vinculum which connected those things, and gave the form of oil, escapes from the artist. It disappears, but is not destroyed. Light or fire imprisoned made part of the compound, gave union to the other parts, and form to the whole. But having escaped, it mingles with the general ocean of æther, till being again parted and attracted, it enters and specificates some new subject, of the animal, vegetable, or mineral kingdom. Fire therefore in the sense of philosophers is also fire, though not always Aame. .
194. Solar fire or light, in calcining certain bodies, is observed to add to their weight. There is therefore no doubt but light can be fixed, and enter the composition of a body. And though it should lye latent for a long time, yet, being set free from its prison, it shall still shew itself to be fire. Lead, cin, or regulus of antimony, being exposed to the fire of a burning glass, though they lole much in smoak and steam, are nevertheless found to be considerably increased in weight, which proves the introduction of light or fire in