« EelmineJätka »
ment, that air loseth in the lungs the power of feeding flame. Hence it is concluded, that the fame thing in air contributes both to life and flame, Vital Hame survives culinary flame in vacuo : there fore it requires less of that thing to sustain it.
202. What this may be, whether some certain proportion, or some peculiar parts of æther, is not easy to say. But thus much seems plain, that whatever is ascribed to acid may be also ascribed to fire or æther. The particles of æther fly asunder with the greatest force : therefore, agreeably to. Sir Isaac Newton's doctrine, when united they must attract each other with the greatest force. There.. fore they constitute the acid. For whatsoever. ftrangly attracts and is attracted, may be called an acid, as Sir Isaac Newton informs us in his tract De acido. Hence it should seem, that the fulphur of Homberg, and the acid of Sir Isaac are at bot-, tom one and the same thing, to wit, pure fire or æther.
203. The vital flame or æthereal fpirit, being attracted and imprisoned in groffer bodies, seemeth to be set free and carried off, by the superior attraction of a subtil and pure flame. Hence, perhaps it is, that lightening kills animals, and turns, fpirituous liquors vapid in an instant.
204. Hippocrates in his book concerning the Heart obferveth, that the soul of man is not nourished by meats and drinks from the lower belly, but by a pure and luminous substance darting its rays, and distributing a non-natural nourishment, as he terms it, in like manner as that from the intestines is distributed to all parts of the body. This luminous non-natural nourishment, though it be fecreted from the blood, is expresly said not to, come from the lower belly. It is plain, therefore,
he thought it came into the blood either by refpiration, or by attraction through the pores. And it must be acknowledged, that somewhat igneous or æthereal brought by the air into the blood feems to nourish, though not the soul itself, yet the interior tunicle of the soul, the auras simplicis ignem.
205. That there is really such a thing as vital flame, actually kindled, nourish'd, and extinguish'd like common fame, and by the same nieans, is an opinion of some moderns, particularly of Doctor Willis in his tract De fanguinis accensione : that it requires constant eventilation, through the trachea and pores of the body, for the discharge of a suliginous and excrementitious vapour : and that this vital flame, being extremely subtil, might not be seen any more than shining flies or ignes fatui by day-light. And yet it hath sometimes become visible on divers persons, of which there are undoubted instances. This is Dr. Willis's notion: and perhaps there may be some truth in this, if it be fo understood, as that light or fire might indeed constitute the animal spirit or immediate vehicle of the soul.
206. There have not been wanting those, who, not content to suppose light the most pure and refined of all corporeal beings, have gone farther, and bestowed upon it some attributes of a yet higher nature. Julianus the Platonic philosopher, as cited by Ficinus, faith, it was a doctrine in the theology of the Phænicians, that there is diffused throughout the universe, a pellucid and shining nature pure and impassive, the act of a pure intelligence. And Ficinus himself undertakes to prove, that light is incorporeal, by several arguments: Becaufe it enlightens and fills a great space in an instant, and without opposition: Because several lights meet without resisting each other : Because light cannot be defiled by filth of any kind : Be. cause the solar light is not fixed in any subject : Lastly, because it contracts and expands it self fo easily without collision, condensation, rarefaction, or delay throughout the vastest space. These reafons are given by Ficinus, in his comment on the first book of the second Ennead of Plotinus.
207. But it is now well known, that light moves, that it's motion is not instantaneous : that it is capable of condensation, rarefaction, and collision : that it can be mixed with other bodies, en. ter their composition, and increase their weight (a). All which seems sufficiently to overthrow those arguments of Ficinus, and Thew light to be corporeal. There appears indeed some difficulty at first sight, about the non-resistance of rays or par. ticles of light occurring one to another, in all pofsible directions or from all points. Particularly, if we suppose the hollow surface of a large sphere, ftudded with eyes looking inwards one at another, it may perhaps seem hard to conceive, how distinct rays from every eye should arrive at every other eye without justling, repelling, and confounding each other.
208. But these difficulties may be got over by considering in the first place, that visible points are not mathematical points, and consequently, that we are not to suppose every point of space a radiating point. Secondly, by granting that many rays do resist and intercept each other, notwithstanding which the act of vision may be performed. Since as every point of the object is not feen, so it is not necessary that rays from every such point arrive at the eye. We often see
an object, though more dimly, when many rays are intercepted by a gross medium.
209. Besides, we may suppose the particles of light to be indefinitely small, that is, as small as we please, and their aggregate to bear as small a proportion to the void as we pleafe, there being nothing in this that contradicts the phænomena. And there needs nothing more in order to conceive the possibility of rays passing from and to all visible points, although they be not incorporeal. Suppose a hundred ports placed round a circular fea, and ships failing from each port to every other; the larger the sea, and the smaller the vessels are supposed, the less danger will there be of their striking against each other. But as there is by hypothesis no limited proportion be tween the sea and the ships, the void and solid particles of light, so there is no difficulty that can oblige us to conclude the sun's light incorporeal from it's free passage ; especially when there are so many clear proofs of the contrary. As for the difficulty, therefore, attending the supposition of . a sphere studded with eyes looking at each other, this is removed only by sụpposing the particles of light exceeding small relatively to the empty spaces.
210. Plotinus supposeth, that from the sun's light which is corporeal, there springs forth another equivocal light which is incorporeal, and as it were the brightness of the former. Marsilius Ficinus also, observing it to be a doctrine in the Timæus of Plato, that there is an occult fire or spirit diffused throughout the universe, intimates that this fame occult invisible fire or light is, as it were, the light of the mundane foul. And Plotinus, in his fourth Ennead, shewech it to be his opinion, that the world feech it self and all it's
. ; parts.
parts. The Platonic philosophers do wonderfully refine upon light, and foar very high : from coal · to flame; from fame to light ; from this visible light to the occult light of the celestial or mundane foul, which they supposed to pervade and agitate the substance of the universe by it's vigo
rous and expansive motion. • 211. If we may believe Diogenes Laertius, the Pythagoræan philosophers thought there was a certain pure heat or fire, which had somewhat divine in it, by the participation whereof men became allied to the gods. And according to the Platonists, heaven is not defined so much by it's local situation, as by it's purity. The purest and most excellent fire, that is heaven, faith Ficinus. And again, the hidden fire that every where exerts it self, he calls celestial. He represents fire as most powerful and active, dividing all things, abhorring all composition or mixture with other bodies. And, as soon as it gets free, relapsing instantly into the common mass of celestial fire, which is every where present and latent.
212. This is the general fource of life, spirit, and strength, and therefore of health to all animals, who constantly receive it's illapses cloathed in air, through the lungs and pores of the body. The same fpirit imprisoned in food and medicines, is conveyed into the stomach, the bowels, the lacteals, circulated and fecreted by the several ducts, and distributed throughout the system (a). Plato in his Timæus enumerating the ignited juices, names wine in the first place, and tar in the second. But wine is pressed from the grape, and fermented by human industry. Therefore of all ignited juices purely natural, tar or resin muft in his account be esteemed the first. . . . (@) 37, 42, 44..