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I am not ignorant, that by law eternal, the learned for the most part do understand the order, not which God hath eternally purposed himself in all his works to observe, but rather that which with himself he hath set down as expedient to be kept by all his creatures, according to the several conditions wherewith he hath endued them. They who thus are accustomed to speak, apply the name of law unto that only rule of working which superior authority imposes; whereas we somewhat more enlarging the sense thereof, term any kind of rule or canon, whereby actions are framed, a law. Now that law which, as it is laid up in the bosom of God, they call eternal, receiveth, according unto the different kind of things which are subject anto it, different and sundry kinds of names. That part of it which ordereth natural agents, we call usually nature's law; that which angels do clearly behold, and without any swerving observe, is a law celestial and heavenly; the law of reason, that which bindeth creatures reasonable in this world, and with which by reason they most plainly perceive themselves bound; that which bindeth them, and is not known but by special revelation from God, divine law. Human law, that which out of the law, either of reason or of God, men probably gathering to be expedient, they make it a law. All things, therefore, which are as they ought to be, are conformed unto this second law eternal; and even those things which to this eternal law are not conformable, are notwithstanding in some sort ordered by the first eternal law. For what good or evil is there under the sun; what action correspondent or repugnant unto the law which God hath imposed upon his creatures, but in, or upon it, God doth work according to the law which himself hath eternally purposed to keep; that is to say, the first eternal law? So that a twofold law eternal being thus made, it is not hard to conceive how they both take place in all things.
Wherefore to come to the law of nature, albeit thereby we sometimes mean that manner of working which God hath set for each created thing to keep, yet forasmuch as those things are termed most properly natural agents, which keep the law of their kind unwittingly, as the heavens and elements of the world, which can
do no otherwise than they do; and forasmuch as we give unto intellectual natures the name of voluntary agents, that so we may distinguish them from the other; expedient it will be, that we sever the law of nature observed by the one, from that which the other is tied unto. Touching the former, their strict keeping of one tenure, statute, and law is spoken of by all; but hath in it more than men have as yet attained to know, or perhaps ever shall attain, seeing the travail of wading herein is given of God to the sons of men; that perceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it, more than the wisest are able to reach unto, they may by this means learn humility. Moses, in describing the work of creation, attributeth speech unto God: "God said, Let there be light: let there be a firmament: let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place: let the earth bring forth: let there be lights in the firmament of heaven." Was this only the intent of Moses, to signify the infinite greatness of God's power, by the easiness of his accomplishing such effects, without travail, pain, or labour? Surely, it seemeth that Moses had herein, besides this, a further purpose, namely, first, to teach that God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary agent, intending beforehand, and decreeing with himself, that which did outwardly proceed from him. Secondly, to show that God did then institute a law natural to be observed by creatures; and therefore, according to the manner of laws, the institution thereof is described as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of nature's law. The world's first creation, and the preservation since of things created, what is it, but only so far forth a manifestation, by execution, what the eternal law of God is concerning things natural? And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all States framing themselves thereunto; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world: since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his law upon it, heaven and earth hath hearkened unto his voice, and their labour hath been to
do his will. "He made a law for the rain;" he gave his "decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment."
Now, if nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her own laws; if those principal and mother elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; 10if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if the celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand, and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be 11 defeated of heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief; what would become of man himself, whom these things do now all serve? See we not plainly, that obedience of creatures unto the law of nature is the stay of the whole world? Notwithstanding, with nature it cometh sometimes to pass as with art. Let 12 Phidias have rude and obstinate stuff to carve, though his art do that it should, his work will lack that beauty which otherwise in fitter matter it might have had. He that striketh an instrument with skill, may cause notwithstanding a very unpleasant sound, if the string whereon he striketh chance to be incapable of harmony. In the matter whereof things natural consist, that of Theophrastus takes place : Πολὺ τὸ οὐχ ὑπακοῦον οὐδὲ δεχόμενον τὸ εὔ—“ Much of it is oftentimes such as will by no means yield to receive that impression which were best and most perfect." Which defect in the matter of things natural, they who gave themselves unto the contemplation of nature amongst the heathen, observed often; but the true original cause thereof, divine malediction, laid for the sin of man upon these creatures, which God had made for the use of man, this being an article of that saving truth which God hath revealed unto his Church, was above the reach
of their merely natural capacity and understanding. But howsoever, these swervings are now and then incident unto the course of nature; nevertheless so constantly the laws of nature are by natural agents observed, that no man denieth but those things which nature worketh are wrought either always, or for the most part, after one and the same manner. If here it be demanded, what is this which keepeth nature in obedience to her own law, we must have recourse to that higher law, whereof we have already spoken; and because all other laws do thereon depend, from thence we must borrow so much as shall need for brief 13 resolution in this point. Although we are not of opinion therefore, as some are, that nature in working hath before her certain 14 exemplary draughts or patterns, which, subsisting in the bosom of the Highest, and being thence discovered, she fixeth her eye upon them, as travellers by sea upon the pole-star of the world, and that according thereunto she guideth her hand to work by imitation: although we rather embrace the oracle of 15 Hippocrates, "That each thing, both in small and in great, fulfilleth the task which destiny hath set down." And concerning the manner of executing and fulfilling the same, "What they do they know not, yet is it in show and appearance as though they did know what they do; and the truth is, they do not discern the things which they look on :" nevertheless, forasmuch as the works of nature are no less exact than if she did both behold and study how to express some absolute shape or mirror always present before her; yea, such her dexterity and skill appeareth, that no intellectual creature in the world were able by capacity to do that which nature doth without capacity and knowledge; it cannot be but nature hath some director of infinite knowledge to guide her in all her ways. Who is the guide of nature, but only the God of nature? "In him we live, move, and are." Those things which nature is said to do, are by divine art performed, using nature as an instrument; nor is there any such art or knowledge divine in nature herself working, but in the Guide of nature's work. Whereas, therefore, things natural, which are not in the number of voluntary agents (for of such only we now speak, and of no other,) do so necessarily observe their certain laws, that as long as they keep
those forms which give them their being, they cannot possibly be apt or inclinable to do otherwise than they do; seeing the kinds of their operations are both constantly and exactly framed, according to the several ends for which they serve, they themselves in the meanwhile, though doing that which is fit, yet knowing neither what they do, nor why; it followeth that all which they do in this sort proceedeth originally from some such agent as knoweth, appointeth, holdeth up, and even actually frameth the same. The manner of this divine efficiency being far above us, we are no more able to conceive by our reason, than creatures unreasonable by their sense are able to apprehend after what manner we dispose and order the course of our affairs. Only thus much is discerned, that the natural generation and process of all things receiveth order of proceeding from the settled stability of divine understanding. This appointeth unto them their kinds of working; the 16 disposition whereof, in the purity of God's own knowledge and will, is rightly termed by the name of Providence. The same being referred unto the things themselves, here disposed by it, was wont by the ancients to be called Natural Destiny. That law, the performance whereof we behold in things natural, is as it were an authentical or an original draught, written in the bosom of God himself; whose Spirit being to execute the same, useth every particular nature, every mere natural agent, only as an instrument created at the beginning, and ever since the beginning used to work his own will and pleasure withal. Nature, therefore, is nothing else but God's instrument. In the course whereof, Dionysius, perceiving some sudden disturbance, is said to have cried out: "Aut Deus naturae patitur, aut mundi machina dissolvitur;"- either God doth suffer impediment, and is by a greater than himself hindered; or if that be impossible, then hath he determined to make a 17 present dissolution of the world; the execution of that law beginning now to stand still, without which the world cannot stand. This Workman, whose servitor nature is, being in truth but only one, the heathens imagining to be more, gave him in the sky the name of Jupiter; in the air, the name of Juno; in the water, the name of Neptune; in the earth, the name of Vesta, and sometimes of Ceres;