« 上一頁繼續 »
The great end of medecine is to preserve or to restore the health of mankind: to swerve from these principles is an error; to act contrary to them is a crime. The vulgar generally fall into both these faults, having a strong tradition as to the foundation of their belief. Towards St John's day, there is found at the root of several plants, a kind of berry of a purple colour, which is nothing but the web of some beetles. Foolish people imagine it is the fruit of St John, which grows only on that particular day, and which being hung from the roof or bruised on the cloaths, is a preservative from disease, during the rest of the year.
Ignorant quacks, and unexperienced physicians generally fail in cafes where others succeed, The reason is plain, because they are unaquainted with the common rules; or if they know them, they know only the entrance, but not the iflue. Hence it happens that not having the capacity to prepare medecines, to regulate the doses, or to give them in a convenient vehicle, they lose their patients by those very medecines which would have cured them, if admtnistred by other hands. There are cafes in which insects operate with much success ; but the cure is never more uncertain, than when we expect it from those
presumptuous presumptuous empirics, who. talk of their potable gold, and of the universal medecine. In incurable diseases they are the first and the last to be had recourse to; there they perform their chief feat, and deliver from all ills by precipitating families into mourning. The cafes in which remedies, ill applied, have had fatal consequences, are not rare. Insects have sometimes furnished matter for such accidents; as one example, I saw a physician of the kind we have mentioned administer cantharides to a man afflicted with the stone; the patient was immediately seized with the most excruiiating pains; he passed blood, gangrene succeeded, and he died. An Italian, whom I shall not name, having taken cantharides, from an opinion generally received, that they provoke to venery, was sooa punished for his ill judged temerity. He died ia great agony, and upon opening his body, the passages were all found inflamed and ulcerated,
I am sensible, that I here afford to the atheist, but too favourable an opportunity of attacking religion, not to interrupt myself. I think I hear him say, since God, supremely good, and infinitely wise, has created all things, and even infects, for a good end, he ought, for the fame reason, to prevent man from employing them to a bad purpose. Either God could nos, or would not do this. If he could not, then he is not all-powerful; if he would not, he is deficient in goodness, consequently, he ceases to be God, because he has not all the necessary attributes of deity. This argument is specious, but it is not the less false and unfounded. The attributes of the Supreme Being, are intimately united with his essence, and, therefore, are inseparable. They can never be considered apart, but so united, that the power and the goodness of God, always perfectly accord with his wisdom. It is under this point of view, $hat, looking it man in the aggregate, we discover,
hi 'that that the mechanism of his body, is the work of infinite Power, the gift of reason, the effect of inconceivable goodness, and his free wilf, that of consummate wisdom. Now, if in order to make use of reason, the Deity granted to man, the privilege of free will, it follows, that the Creator could not control the will, without an imputation on his own wisdom, and without annihilating, at the same time, the liberty of the creature. Besides, as it is just to afcribe to God all the good we receive from created things, it would be unjust to attribute to him the ill which results from the abuses we make of them,
Of The Prodigies Mentioned In Scripture, Which Relate To Insects,
It is as ridiculous to consider as miraculous, every thing that appears astonishing; as it is impious to deny every fort of miracle. The first betrays ignorance; the second manifests the corruption of the mind, and the heart. This last is the crime of atheists. As a miracle exceeds the power of nature, and, as in order to work one, a superior power is necessary, they attribute this to nature herself, whom they consider, as a being possessed of omnipotence; that is, they maintain that nature can interrupt her own course, and change the laws she hath herself established. Except this, the atheist acknowledges no Supreme Being, consequently, no supernatural effect, but in proportion as we
contemplate contemplate the constant order that prevails in na* ture, the determinate structure, and multiplication of the different species of animals, and in particular, what I have still to fay, with regard to insects; it is impossible for us not to open our eyes, and acknowledge a Being, all-wife, different from nature, and all-powerful, a Being who hath created the universe, who hath regulated and limited the course of nature herself, who hath fixed the qualities and dispositions of animals, and who can change, when he thinks fit, the order which he himself hath established: and, when this truth is once admitted, we can no longer doubt the possibility of miracles. Accordingly, the Scripture informs us, that they have actually happened, and as its veracity hath been sufficiently demonstrated, its testimony alone establishes the point* \
We read, in Exodus, of various extraordinary events, which undoubtedly surpass human power. I shall not here stop to relate the proofs of the authen* ticity of the books of Moses, not only because the subject would lead me too far, but because others have already set this in the clearest light. I shall only add, that the chastisement of the ten plagues, inflicted on Egypt, by Moses and Aaron, in three of which insects were the instrument of the wrath of God, has bean attested by profane authors. St. Paul, II. Timothy iii. 8. puts Jannes and Jambres in the number of those who withstood Moses, as other writers testify. Nufnenius fays, that, when the Israelites were driven from Egypt, Jannes and Jambres, the sacred writers of the Egyptians, had the reputation of being deeply skilled in magic; that they were unanimously chosen to oppose their learning to the Virtue of Moses, the leader of the Jewish, people, and that their prayers were so effectual, as to stop the progress of those plagues that had been brought on Pharoah and his subjects* Though Numenius does uot i&fornv-^""' L I 2 us,
Hs, that those two magicians were unable to prevent those plagues, he, however, attests the fact. Piiny assures us, that there was a fort of magic known by Moses, by Jambres and Jetopes, and which remained with the Jews, several thousand years after the death of Zoroaster. What he fays is obscure, but it shews,, however, that the legislator of the Jews was celebrated for his miracles, and that he held a distinguishedplace among the sages of his time.
Among other plagues which Egypt suffered, the tfaird is remarkable, as it is described io Exodus viii* 16.-19. " And the Lord said unto Moses, fay unto Aaron, stra(eh out thy rod, and smite the dust of the land, that it may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so; for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and it became lice in man and beast: all the dust of the land became lice, throughout all the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their inehantments, to bring forth lice, but they could not j so there were lice upon man. and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharoah, this is the finger of. God; but Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.'r There is nothing in this miracle, that can be imputed to natural causes} it must be referred to the direction and power of God. The truth of the history is incontestable, not only in itself, but from the authority of many credible authors. Thus, the prophet David had this event in view, when, in speaking of the divine power, be sayS, in Psalm Cv. 30. 31." Hespake, and there came clivers forts of flies and lice in all their coasts." Jascphus has also mentioned this in his Jewish Antiquities. God, fays he, punished Pharaoh for his wickedness, but with another plague,, for he overwhelmed the Egyptians with an innumerable quantity of lice, which so tormented those