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as related to civil power: but such relation doth not appear in the present case. It Ihou'd seem therefore, that they worship God as present in the fire, which they worship or reverence, not ultimately or for it self, but relatively to the supreme being. Which it is not unlikely was elsewhere 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 sense.
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 prescribed 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 fay, 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 fame source.
186. It must be owned there are many pasfages in holy scripture (a), that would make one think, the supreme being was in a peculiar manner present and manisest in the element of fire. Not to insist that God is more than once faid to be a consuming fire, which might be understood
- in a metaphorical 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, Jighr, and splendor. Ezekiel in his visions beheld (*) 179.
fire and brightness, lamps, burning coak of fire, and flashes of lightening. In a vision os Daniel the throne of God appeared like a fiery flame, and his wheels like burning fire. Also a fiery flame issued and came forth from before him.
187. At the transfiguration, the apostles faw our faviour's face shining as the sun, and his raiment white 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 faid 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 resemblance he could find os the glory of the Lord, which was wont to appear in a flaming 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 misled the Gnostics, Basilidians, 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 learned, the institutions of lawgivers as. well as the reasonings of philosophers, have ever considered
the the element of fire in a peculiar lighr, and treated it with more than common regard, as if it were something of a very singular and extraordinary nature. Nor are there wanting authors ot principal account among the moderns, who entertain like notioi^concerning fire, especially among those who are most converfant in that element, and should seem best acquainted with it. .
189. Mr. Homberg the famous modern chemist, -who brought that art to so great a persection, 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 sores of natural productions^ with falts making oyl, with earth bitumen, with mercury metal. That this prineipie of sulphur, fire, Op the substance of light, isun it self imperceptible, and only becomes sensible as.it is joined with some other principle, which. serves as a vehicle for it. That* although it be the most active of all things, yet it is at the fame 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 lost, escaping the skill of the artist, and passing through the closest vessels.
190. Boerhaave, Niewenty>t, and divers other moderns are in the fame 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, dilatation of all solid bodies, and rarefaction of fluids,
(a) 1:9 (b) 163, 166. ", the the segregating heterogeneous bodies, and con* gregating those that are homogeneous. That therefore which fmoakes and flames is not pure fire, but that which is collected in the focus of a mirrour or burning glass. This fire seems 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 disferent degrees of lise, 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 falt, or aqua fortis upon iron, so fire dissolves all other bodies. Fire, air, and water are all three menstruums: 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 menstruum in nature, to which all other menstruums, may be reduced. Acid falts are a menstruum, but their force and distinct powers are from sulphur. Considered as pure, or in themselves, they are all of the fame nature. But, as obtained by distillation, they are constantly joined with some sul-"* phur, which characterized and cannot be separated from them. This is the doctrine of monsieur Homberg. But what is it that charecterrzeth or differenceth the sulphurs themselves? If. sulphur be the substance of light, as that author will have it, whence is it that animal, vegc
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table, and metallic sulphurs impart different qualities to the fame acid falt? Can this be explained upon Homberg's principles? And are we not obliged to suppose, that light separated by the attracting and repelling powers in the strainers, ducts, and pores of those bodies, doth form several distinct kinds of sulphur, all which, before such separation, were lost and blended together, in one common mass of light or fire seemingly homogeneous.
192'. In the analysis of inflammable bodies, the fire or sulphur is lost, and the diminution of weight sheweth the loss (a). Oil is resolved into water, earth, and falt, 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 difappears, 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 flame.
"193. Solar fire or light, in calcining certainbodies, 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, tin, or regulus of antimony, being exposed to the fire of a burning glass, though they lose much in smoak and steam, are nevertheless found to be considerably increased in weight, which proves the introduction of light or sire into) 169