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and collisions of bodies; whereby the matters struck are subtilized, rarefied, put into motion, and so prepared to receive the heat of the celestial bodies ; whence they, in a clandestine and secret manner, collect and snatch fire, as it were by stealth, from the chariot of the Sun.
The next is a remarkable part of the fable, which represents that men, instead of gratitude and thanks, fell into indignation and expostulation, accusing both Prometheus and his fire to Jupiter, - and yet the accusation proved highly pleasing to Jupiter; so that he, for this reason, crowned these benefits of mankind with a new bounty. Here it may seem strange that the sin of ingratitude to a creator and benefactor, a sin so heinous as to include almost all others, should meet with approbation and reward. But the allegory has another view, and denotes, that the accusation and arraignment, both of human nature and human art among mankind, proceeds from a most noble and laudable tem per of the mind, and tends to a very good purpose; whereas the contrary temper is odious to the gods, and unbeneficial in itself. For they who break into extravagant praises of human nature, and the arts in vogue, and who lay themselves out in admiring the things they already possess, and will needs have the sciences cultivated among them, to be thought absolutely perfect and complete, in the first place, show little regard to the divine nature, whilst they extol their own inventions almost as high as his perfection. In the next place, men of this temper are unserviceable and prejudicial in life, whilst they imagine themselves already got to the top of things, and there rest, without further inquiry. On the contrary, they who arraign and accuse both nature and art, and are always full of complaints against them, not only preserve a more just and modest sense of mind, but are also perpetually stirred up to fresh industry and new discoveries. . Is not, then, the ignorance and fatality of mankind to be extremely pitied, whilst they remain slaves to the arrogance of a few of their own fellows, and are dotingly fond of that scrap of Grecian knowledge, the Peripatetic philosophy; and this to such a degree, as not only to think all accusation or arraignment thereof useless, but even hold it suspect and dangerous ? Certainly the procedure of Empedocles, though furious — but especially that of Democritus, (who with great modesty complained that all things were abstruse; that we know nothing; that truth lies hid in deep pits; that falsehood is strangely joined and twisted along with truth, &c.) — is to be preferred before the confident, assuming, and dogmatical school of Aristotle. Mankind are, therefore, to be admonished, that the arraignment of nature and of art is pleasing to the gods; and that a sharp and vehement accusation of Prometheus, though a creator, a founder, and a master, obtained new blessings and presents from the divine bounty, and proved more sound and serviceable than a diffusive harangue of praise and gratulation. And let men be assured that the fond opinion that they have already acquired enough, is a principal reason why they have acquired so little.
That the perpetual flower of youth should be the present which mankind received as a reward for their accusation, carries this moral; that the ancients seem not to have despaired of discovering methods, and remedies, for retarding old age, and prolonging the period of human life; but rather reckoned it among those things which, through sloth and want of diligent inquiry, perish and come to nothing, after having been once undertaken, than among such as are absolutely impossible, or placed beyond the reach of the human power. For they signify and intimate from the true use of fire, and the just and strenuous accusation and conviction of the errors of art, that the divine bounty is not wanting to men in such kind of presents, but that men indeed are wanting to themselves, and lay such an inestimable gift upon the back of a slow-paced ass; that is, upon the back of the heavy, dull, lingering thing, experience; from whose sluggish and tortoise-pace proceeds that ancient complaint of the shortness of life, and the slow advancement of arts. And certainly it may well seem, that the two faculties of reasoning and experience are not hitherto properly joined and coupled together, but to be still new gifts of the gods, separately laid, the one upon the back of a light bird, or abstract philosophy, and the other upon an ass, or slow-paced practice and trial. And yet good hopes might be conceived of this ass, if it were not for his thirst and the accidents of the way. For we judge, that if any one would constantly proceed, by a certain law and method, in the road of experience, and not by the way thirst after such experiments as make for profit or ostentation, nor exchange his burden, or quit the original design for the sake of these, he might be an useful bearer of a new and accumulated divine bounty to mankind.
That this gift of perpetual youth should pass from men to serpents, seems added by way of ornament, and illustration to the fable ; perhaps intimating, at the same time, the shame it is for men, that they, with their fire, and numerous arts, cannot procure to themselves those things which nature has bestowed upon many other creatures.
The sudden reconciliation of Prometheus to mankind, after being disappointed of their hopes, contains à prudent and useful admonition. It points out the levity and temerity of men in new experiments, when, not presently succeeding, or answering to expectation, they precipitantly quit their new undertakings, hurry back to their old ones, and grow, reconciled thereto,
After the fable has described the state of man, with regard to arts and intellectual matters, it passes on to religion ; for after the inventing and settling of arts, follows the establishment of divine worship, which hypocrisy presently enters into and corrupts. So that by the two sacrifices we have elegantly painted the person of a man truly religious, and of an hypocrite. One of these sacrifices contained the fat, or the portion of God, used for burning and incensing; thereby denoting affection and zeal, offered up to his glory. It likewise contained the bowels, which are expressive of charity, along with the good and useful flesh. But the other contained nothing more than dry bones, which nevertheless stuffed out the hide, so as to make it resemble a fair, beautiful, and magnificent sacrifice; hereby finely denoting the external and empty rites and barren ceremonies, wherewith men burden and stuff out the divine 'worship, — things rather intended for show and ostentation than conducing to piety. Nor are mankind simply content with this mock-worship of God, but also impose and further it upon him, as if he had chosen and ordained it. Certainly the prophet, in the person of God, has a fine expostulation, as to this matter of choice: “ Is this the fasting which I have chosen, that a man should afflict his soul for a day, and bow down his head like a bulrush ?”
After thus touching the state of religion, the fable next turns to manners, and the conditions of human life. And though it be a very common, yet is it a
just interpretation, that Pandora denotes the pleasures and licentiousness which the cultivation and luxury of the arts of civil life introduce, as it were, by the instrumental efficacy of fire; whence the works of the voluptuary arts are properly attributed to Vulcan, the God of Fire. And hence infinite miseries and calamities have proceeded to the minds, the bodies, and the fortunes of men, together with a late repentance; and this not in each man's particular, but also in kingdoms and states; for wars, and tumults, and tyrannies, have all arisen from this same fountain, or box of Pandora.
It is worth observing, how beautifully and elegantly the fable has drawn two reigning characters in human life, and given two examples, or tablatures of them, under the persons of Prometheus and Epimetheus. The followers of Epimetheus are improvident, see not far before them, and prefer such things as are agreeable for the present; whence they are oppressed with numerous straits, difficulties, and calamities, with which they almost continually struggle ; but in the mean time gratify their own temper, and, for want of a better knowledge of things, feed their minds with many vain hopes; and as with so many pleasing dreams, delight themselves, and sweeten the miseries of life.
But the followers of Prometheus are the prudent, wary men, that look into futurity, and cautiously guard against, prevent, and undermine many calamities and misfortunes. But this watchful, provident temper, is attended with a deprivation of numerous pleasures, and the loss of various delights, whilst such men debar themselves the use even of innocent things, and what is still worse, rack and torture themselves with cares, fears, and disquiets ; being bound fast to the pillar of necessity, and tormented