In this Meditation I found that there were five principal Heads, chiefly to be considered by the wise and prudent Spectators of our Wisdom and Art. This first of which is, Invocation of GOD. the second, Contemplation of Nature. The third, True Preparation. The fourth, The Way of Using. The fifth, Utility and Fruit. For he, who regards not these, shall never obtain place among true Chymists, or fill up the number of perfect Spagyrists. Therefore touching these five Heads we shall here following treat, and so far declare them, as that the general Work may be brought to light and perfected by an intent and studious Operation.
1. [GOD TO BE FIRST INVOKED]
Invocation of GOD must be made with a certain Heavenly Intention, drawn from the bottom of a pure and sincere Heart, and Conscience, free from all Ambition, Hypocrisy, and all other Vices, which have any affinity with these, as Arrogance, Boldness, Pride, Luxury, Mundane Petulancy, Oppression of the Poor, and other dependent evils, all which are to be eradicated out of the Heart; that when a Man desires to prostrate himself before the Throne of Grace, for obtaining bodily health, he may do that with a Conscience free from all unprofitable Weeds, that his Body may be transmuted into an Holy Temple of GOD, and be purged from every uncleaness. For GOD will not be mocked (which I earnestly admonish) as Worldly Men, pleasing and flattering themselves with their own Wisdom, think: GOD, I say, will not be mocked, but the Creator of all things will be invoked with reverential fear, and acknowledged with due Obedience. And for this there is great Reason. For what hath Man, that he must not own to be recieved from this his Omnipotent Creator, whether you have respect to the Body, or to the Soul, which operates the Body? Hath no he, for sustention of this, out of his meer Mercy communicated to us his Eternal WORD, and also promised Eternal Salvation? Hath not he also provided food and cloathing for the Body, and all those things without which the Body cannot subsist? All these, by humble Prayer a Man obtains of that most excellent Father, who created Heaven and Earth, together with things Visible and Invisible, as the Firmament, Elements, Vegetables, and Animals. Which is so very true, that I am certainly assured, no Impious Man shall ever be partaker of true Medicine, much less of the Eternal Heavenly Bread. Therefore place your whole Intention and Trust in GOD, call upon him and pray, that he may impart his blessing to you: let this be the beginning of your work, that by the same you may obtain your desired end, and at length effect what you intended.
For the Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.
Whosoever purposeth in himself to seek after that, which is the greatest of Terrene things, especially the knowledge of every good thing, that is in the Creatures, and GOD hath liberally imparted to Men, and implanted (as to their effective power) in Stones, Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Animals, Plants, Minerals, Metals, yea and indeed in all things; let him cast away all Earthly thoughts, reject all that depends on them, and hope for freeness of Heart, and pray unto GOD with great lowlyness of mind: So doing, his hope of freeness may at length be turned into freedom. Which no Man will doubt, who knows, that he alone is GOD, who delivered Israel from all his Enemies; which deliverance he did in very deed effect, not only for Israel, but also for all Men making humble supplications to him, and praying with brokenness of Heart. Therefore let Prayer by the first point of our Admonition, which also is, and by us is called Invokation of GOD, which if made, not with Hypocrisy and a feigned Heart, but with such Faith and Trust, as that, with which the Centurion in Capernaum prayed; with such lowlines of mind, and confession of Sins, as the Woman of Canaan was endued with; with such Charity as the Samaritan shewed to the Man wounded in the way to Jericho, pouring Wine and Oyl into his wounds, paying his Charges in the Inn, and giving order he should be very carefully looked to; Lastly, if a Mans Christian Charity extends itself so far, as if he obtain what he prays for, he would willingly communicate of the same to his Neighbour, then he shall unobtainably obtain Riches and Health, the of his Prayer.*
*What the Author hath premised here at large, and elsewhere often inserted touching Piety, the worship of GOD, and Invocation of his Name, I purpose neither to praise nor dispraise; Let them by judged by signs of his own earnest Piety, Arguments of his sincerity and signate Impresses of his fervent zeal (by so many Tautologies and Reiterations) often boiling up. Every Man, according to the Opinion of his mind, and the presuasion, in which he was educated from his Childhood, will more or less esteem of this. It was my business to translate the Authors writings into Latin, in such a Method and Order, as I thought would in no wise give any distaste to the delicate Palat of the Reader; also to indicate that, which seems pertinent to the business of every Chymist and true Spagyrist, and not to neglect the other. For since Piety is available for all things, as divine Oracles teach, and the principal exercise of Piety is Prayer; by which Celestial Gifts are obtained of GOD the giver of all good things; our Author wills, that unto him the mind by lifted up, even in the midstof the Operations of Chymistry full of labour and toil. If prayer effected no other thing, it certainly collects the mind (called away from all other things) into it self and renders it apt for that which is in hand; whence it comes to pass, that it reflects upon many things, and considers them, which otherwise would not enter the mind, if it set about its Work perfunctorily, and distracted with vaious Conceptions: And so by the help of Prayer we receive many things, which we (if not ungrateful) must needs acknowledge we have obtained from GOD.How often this is found to be of use in Spagyric Works every Man knows, that hath any time entirely devoted himself to this business; viz. how often those things which he long sought and could not find, have been imparted to him in a moment, and as it were infused from above, or dictated by soem good Genius. That also is of use in dissolving all Riddles, or Enigmatical Writings: For if you burn with a great desire of knowing them, that is Prayer; and when you incline your mind to this or that, variously discussing and meditating many things, this is Cooperation; that your Prayer may not be idle, or tempting GOD: yet this your endeavour is in vain, until you find the Solution. Nevertheless if you despair not, but instantly persist in desir, and cease not from labour, at length in a moment the Solution will fall in; this is Revelation, which you cannot receive unless you pray with great desire and labour, using your utmost endeavour; and yet you cannot perceive, how from all those things (of which you thought) which were not the Solution of the Enigma, the Solution it self arose. This unfolding of the Riddle opens to you the mystery of all great things, and shews how available Prayer is for the obtainment of things Spiritual and Eternal, as well as Corporal and perishing goods: and when Prayer is made with a Heart not feigned, but sincere; you will see that there is nothing more fit for the acquiring of what you desire. Let these suffice to be spoken of Prayer, which Basilius and all Philosophers with him do not vainly require, as an Introduction to Chymistry. For Piety is profitable for all Works, especially for Great Undertakings.
2. Next in order after Prayer is Contemplation, by which I understand an accurate attention to the business it self, under which fall these considerations first to be noted. As, what are the Circumstances of any thing, what the Matter, what the Form, whence its operations proceed, whence it is infused and implanted, how generated by the Stars, conformed by the Elements, produced and perfected by the three Principles. Also how the body of every thing may be dissolved, that is, resolved into the first Matter, or first Essence (of which I have already made mention in other of my writings) viz. how the last Matter may be changed into the first, and the first into the last.*
*What are here set down, touching the true Theory of Philosophy, are compendiums of those things, which Philosophers have in os many Books (writ about the same business) revealed, shall I say, or concealed. Attend to the words of the Author, and you will see, that he perfectly knew that Spirit penetrating all things, which presides or bears rule in all things, yet is involved and absconded matter and defilements on every side; from which if once freed, it returns to the purity of its own substance, in which it produceth all things, and is all in all. To comment upon this, would be a work no less than the producing of all Books of Philosophers, compiled with such accurate study, and contending with so great contention about the Theory.
This Contemplation, which absolves the second part of our Admonition, is Celestial, and to be understood with Spiritual Reason; for the circumstances and depth of every thing cannot be perceived any other way, then by the Spiritual Cogitation of Man: and this Contemplation is twofold. One is called possible, the other impossible. The later consists of copious cogitations, which never proceed to effects, nor exhibit any form of a matter, which falls under the Touch. As if any one should endeavour to comprehend the Eternity of the Most High, which is vain and impossible, yea a Sin against the Holy Spirit, so arrogantly to pry itno the Divinity itself, which is Immense, Infinite, and Eternal; and to subject the incomprehensive Counsel of the Secrets of GOD, to humane Inquisition. The other part of Contemplation, which is possible, is called the Theory. This contemplates that, which is perceived by Touch and Sight, and hath a formed Nature in time: this considers, how that nature may be helped and perfected by Resolution of it self; how every body may give forth from it self, the good or evil, Venome or Medicine latent in it; how Destruction and Confraction are to be handled, whereby under a just Title, without Sophistical deceits, the pure may be severed and seperated from the impure. This Seperation is instituted and made by divers manual operations, and various ways; Some of which are vulgarly known by experience, others remote from vulgar experience. These are, Calcination, Sublimation, Reverberation, Circulation, Putrefaction, Digestion, Distillation, Cohobation, Fixation, and the like of these; all degrees of which are found in operating, learned, perceived and manifest by the same. Whence clearly appears what is moveable, what is fixed, what is white, red, black, blew, or green, viz. when the operation is rightly Instituted by the Artificer, for possibly the Operator may err, and turn aside from the right way; but that Nature should err, when rightly handled, is not possible. Therefore if you shall err, so that Nature cannot be altogether free, and released from the Body, in which it is help Captive, return again into your way, learn the Theory more perfectly, and enquire more accurately in the method of operating, that you may find the foundation and certainty in Seperation of all things. Which is a matter of great concern. And this is the second foundation of Philosophy, which follows the Prayer: for in that the sum of the matter lies, and is contained in these words. Seek first the Kingdom of GOD, and his Justice by Prayer, and all other things, which Man seeks in these Temporals, and he hath need of, either for the sustentation or health of his body, shall be added to you.
3. Next to the Theory, which researcheth out the inmost properties of things, follows Preparation, which is performed by Operations of the hands, that some real work may be produced. From Preparation ariseth Knowledge, viz. Such, as opens all the fundamentals of Medicine. Operation of the Hands requires a diligent application of it self, but the praise of Science consists in experience, but the difference of these Anatomy distinquisheth, *Operation shews how all things may be brought to light, and exposed to sight visibly: but knowledge shews the practice; and that, whence the true Practitioner is, and is no other then confirmation: because the operation of the hands manifests something that is good, and draws the latent and hidden nature outwards, and brings it to light for good. For, as in Spirituals, the way of the Lord is to be prepared; so also in these things, the way is to be opened and prepared; so also in these things, the way is to be opened and prepared, that no errour be from the right path, and the Process may be made, without devious errours, in the direct way to health.
*Manual Operation is chiefly required in this third Part, without which, every Operation, like a Ship wanting Ballast, floats and is uncertain. It is difficult to express this with a Pen; for more is learned by once seeing the work done, then can be taught by the writing of many Pages; yet if it be no offence to you, to peruse these Commentaries together with Basilius (in this so necessary part) will not a little help.
4. After Preparation, and especially after separation of the good from the evil, we are to proceed to the *Use of the weight or dose, that neither more, nor less then is fit, may be given. For above all things, the Physician ought well to know, whether his Medicament will be weak or strong, also whether it will do good, or hurt, unless he resolve to fatten the church yard, and with the loss of his fame, and hazard of his own soul.
*By Use, the Authour understands what others call Dose; for what will a good Medicine profit you, if you know not in what quantity to administer it; that the same may rather heal, then hurt or kill. By experience only to learn this, is a work full of perilous casuality, yet the Discipline or knowledge of Doses was found out this way first, and afterward easily taught by Words. Where a living Voice is wanting, it is safer to be too timerous, then in any wise bold or adventurous, although of Antimony I can affirm, that being duly prepared it is as harmless a medicine as Cassia or Manna. The whole caution is chiefly about its use, after the first preparations; because it may still retain much of its own crude Venom.
5. After the Medicament is taken into the body, and hath diffused it self through all the Members, that it may search out those defects against which it was administered, the Utility comes to be considered; for it is possible that a Medicament diligently prepared, and exhibited in due weight, may do more hurt then good in some Diseases, and eem to be Venom rather then Medicine. Hence an accurate reflexion is to be made to those things, which profit or help; and they are diligently to be noted, that we may be mindful to observe the same in other cases.
Yet both in the *Use and Utility, this one thing is necessary to be considered, viz. whether the Disease be an external and open wound, or only an internal and latent evil: for as the difference of these is great, so the way of curation is not the same. Therefore the bottom of every Disease is to be knwon, that it may be understood, whether the same may be cured by external remedies only, or must from within be driven outwards.
*That Indication is to be taken from things helping and hurting, is known even to Tyros. But what the Author subjoyns touching internal and external curation, are not so rude, as not to deserve good Attention: And also those things which he permixeth with his own Satyrical Reprehension, if the Reader be so wise as to believe that Basilius intermixed them to deter the unworthy deriders of Chymistry from approaching to his sacred Arcanums, he will be wise for himself. For whilst others rail and swell with indignation, he gathers the fruit of the Authors Axioms, which as another Agent he scattered among these Thorns. Whilst you, O lover of Chymistry, peruse these, so long will I keep silence.
For if the Center of the Disease by within, such a Medicine must be given, as can search out, apprehend and restore that Center; otherwise the Physicians labour will be fruitless and in vain.
Moreover, if there be an internal Disease, which ariseth, and is fed from an internal Original, it must never be driven inward by external remedies; for great discommodity will thence ensue, and at length Death itself. Which may be understood by the similitude of a Tree; for if any one, whilst it germinates or flowers, repels the Humours to the Interiours, whence they proceeded to the nutriment of the earth; that Tree will be so far from bringing forth the desired Fruit by the flower, that a suffocation of the same ariseth from the violent conjunction of humours not finding any out-let. Therefore there is great difference between fresh wounds inflicted by Prick, Cut, or any other way, and the old which derive their Original from within. For the fresh wounds may be perfectly cured by external remedies only; but in those, which are nourished from within, an external application of Oyls, Balsoms, Unguents, and Plaisters profits little, unless the Internal Fountain be stopped, whence the humours flow to the external parts. When the Fountain shall be stopped, the Flux will cease, and the evil may easily be cured with Diet only. It is no great point of Art to heal any fresh wound; for this every Country-man can easily effect with crude Lard: but to remove all Symptomes which happen in wounds, and to dry up the Fountain of the evil, this is the work, and this the labour of the Artist.
Now come hither, you physicians, how many so ever there be of you, that arrogate to your selves the Title of Doctor of either Medicine, viz. of internal and external Diseases; understand ye the Title of your honour, and consult your own Conscience, and see, whether you recieved that from GOD, that is, possess it in verity, or whether you usurp it as a form, for honour sake. For, as much as Heaven is distant from the Earth, so vastly different is the Art of healing internal Diseases, from the Sanation of external wounds. If the Title be given to you by GOD, the same GOD will give a Blessing, Felicity, Health and happy events; but if your Title be vain, and only devised and assumed for ambition, all things will evilly succeed to you: your honour will fail, and you will prepare for your self Hell-fire, which can no more be extinguished, then it can be expressed by words. For Christ said to his Disciples; You call me Lord and Master, and ye do well, Therefore whosoever assumes a Title of Honour, let him see, whether he do well, and whether he ascribes not more to himself, than he knows and hath learned, which is the real abuse of this Title. For he, who will write himself Doctor of either Medicine, ought to understand, know, and be well skilled in both, viz. the Internal and External Medicine. Nor should he be ignorant of Anatomy, that he may be able to shew the Constitution of the Body, and discover from what Member every Disease proceeds, together with its Fountain and cause. Also remedies, with which he may cure the Disease, and circumstances of external Wounds, are to be understood by him. Good GOD! where will the Title be found, what will become of the Master, when an exact Trial shall be made, for discovering the ignorance of these Doctors of either Medicine?
In times past, long before my days, the Doctors of Medicine did themselves cure External wounds, and judged that a part of their Office; but in these times, they take Servants, whom they employ in these things, and this way the noblest of Arts is become a Mechanick Operation; and some of those who exercise it, are indeed so very rude, as they know not Letters, and scarcely know how (according to the Proverb) to drive an Ass out of the Corn. These, I say, profess, themselves Masters in curing wounds, and Doctors of Doctors; and to speak the truth as it is, they may by a better right glory in this Title, they thou magnificent Doctor, umbratical Chyrugion, and most ignorant Boaster of Titles, why do you style yourself Doctor of either medicine? What more now Master Doctor, what say you, most expert Chyrurgion? I pray be not offended at this, or take it amiss; for you your self will quickly confess, if you do but seriously consider wounds made by Prick or Cut, that you have as much knowledge in the cure of them, as is in the Brain of a dunghill Cock, which Children learning their A.B.C. are wont to set in the Frontispiece of their Primer.
[TRUE DOCTRINE, WHEREIN IT CONSISTS]
Therefore I persuade all Men, of what state or condition soever, who are desirous of Learning, from your Masters to search out the true Doctrine, which consists in Preparation, and afterward in the Use;
[OPERATIONS AND UTILITY GIVE EXPERIENCE] so they, or you, shall possess the Title assumed with honour, and Men will undoubtedly have confidence in you, and you will in very deed do them good, then will you to the Eternal Creator give thanks cordially without feigning. But let every Man seriously think with himself, what it is he ought to do, and what he is to omit, and whether he doth justly or unjustly use the Title assumed. For he, who assumes any Title, ought especially to understand the condition of that Title, and why he assumed it, or what the true foundation is. It is not sufficient, if anyone iwth the vulgar say (saving your reverence, let the more delicate Men pardon us, if we intending to speak to the purpose, make mention of putrefaction) this is egregious dung, it hath a strong and grievous ill savour, and know not how it comes to pass, that a Man, who perhaps eats food of a most grateful taste and odour, and well accommodated to his natural Appetite, thence makes excrement endued with qualities so contrary, and yielding an odour so very ungrateful, and repugnant to Nature: of which there is no other reason, then natural putrefaction and corruption. The same happens in all Aromatical well smelling things. It is the Philosophers part to enquire, what odour is, and whence it receives its virtues, and in what the virtue of it may be made manifest to true profit. For the Earth is nourished and fattened by stinking dung, and noble Fruit is produced of it. Of this matter there is not one cause only, but our Book would swell to an huge Volume, if we should but briefly hint at all natural Generations and mutations; yet Digestion and Putrefaction are the principal keys of them. For the Fire and Air make a certain Maturation, by which a Transmutation of the Earth and Water may follow; and this is also a certain mutation, by which of evil smelling Dung a most fragrant Balsam may be produced; and on the contrary, of most grateful Balsam ill favoured Dung. But perhaps you will say, why do I produce examples of so very rude and absurd? I do confess the example is taken from a Cottage, rather then a Royal Court; yet a prudent considerer of things, more accurately diving into the matter, will easily understand, what such examples intimate to him, viz. that of the highest things the lowest are made, and the lowest the highest, so that, of a Medicament is produced of Venome, and of Venome Medicine; of the sweet, bitter, acid, and corrosive; and on the contrary of the corrosive, another thing more profitable.
[NATURE ABSCONDED FROM MEN]
O good GOD, how much is Nature absconded from Men, so that she seems to disdain to be wholly seen by us? But since thou hast ordained so very short a time of our Life, and thou the Judge of all, reservest many things to thy self in the Creatures, which thou hast left to be admired, not known, by us, and of which thou alone wilt be the beholder and Judge, grant unto me, that unto my Lifes end I may keep thee and my Saviour in my Heart, that besides health and necessaries of the body, which though hast liberally bestowed, I may also acquire the health of my Soul and Spiritual Riches; of which inestimable good I am freed from all doubt by that thy mercy, in which, for my soul, for me a miserable sinner, thou didst (on the Tree of the Cross) shed Sulphur and Balsom; which is indeed a mortiferous Venom to the Devil, but to us Sinners, a most present remedy. I do certainly heal my Brethren, as far as concerns the Soul, by Prayer, and in relation to the body, with apt Remedies; therefore I hope they will on their parts use their endeavour, that they with me, and I with them, may at length inhabit the Tabernacle of the Most High, and in him our GOD enjoy Eternity.
[SPIRIT VIVIFICATIVE, AND OPERATIVE] But to return to my Philosophy of Antimony, I would have the Reader, before all other things, to understand, that all things contain in themselves operative and vivificative Spirits; which inhabiting in the Body feed and nourish themselves, and are sustained by the Body. Elements themselves want not these Spirits, which (the living GOD permitting that) whether they be good or evil, have their Habitation in tehm. Men and Animals have in them a living operating Spirit, which receding from them, nothing but a Carkass remains. In Herbs, and all things bearing Fruit, a Spirit of Sanity exists; otherwise they could not, by any Preparation, be reduced to Medicinal use. Metals and all Minerals, are endued and possessed with their own incomprehensible Spirit, in which, the power and virtue of all their possible effects, consists. For whatsoever is without Spirit, wants Life, and contains in itself no vivifying Virtue. Therefore, you are to know, that in Antimony also there is a Spirit, which effects whatsoever in it, or can proceed from it, in an invisible way and manner, no otherwise, than as in the Magnet is absconded a certain invisible power, as we shall more largely treat in its own place, where we speak of the Magnet.
[SPIRITS OF VARIOUS KINDS]
But there are various kinds of Spirits;* visible to the Intellect, and endued with Spiritual knowledge, which notwithstanding cannot (when they will) be touched or apprehended, as Natural Men are touched; [SPIRITS OF THE ELEMENTS] especially they, who have their fixed Residence in Elements, as are the Spirits of Fire, Lights and other Objects formally darting out Light from themselves: such are Airy Spirits, who inhabit the Air; Aqueous Spirits living in Waters; and Terrene Spirits living in the Earth, which we Men call Earthly Men, which are chiefly found in wealthy mines of the Earth, where they shew and discover themselves to us.
*What follow, seem somewhat confused, according to the Sentiments of certain Theologicians, who have held various opinions of Spirits residing in the Fire, Air, and other Elements; adjudging them to the Eternal Fire of Hell. All which with Basilius, we leave as unknown, to the Judgement of the Divine Knowledge. But what he himself subjoyns, touching the wonderful virtue and power of Antimonial and all other Chymical Spirits, which we our selves with so great admiration have often seen, we understand only of material Spirits; which certainly are endued with as great virtues, and effect things no less wonderful then those Spirits, which Phantastick persons (oppressed with Melancholy) affirm they see and talk with; yea I cannot remember that I ever found written or declared (by such, as taking a liberty of lying, endeavour to please or terrify others) any greater or more wonderful virtues then these Spirits have.
[SPIRITS WANTING SPEECH]
These Spirits are endued with Senses and Understanding, know Arts, and can change themselves into divers Forms, until the time of their Judgement; but whether a definitory sentence ought to be pronounced against them as yet, or no, that I leave to the Providence of the Divine Majesty, from whom nothing is hid. There are other Spirits, wanting speech, which cannot shew themselves visibly in the very act; and they are those which live in Animals, as in Men and the like, in Plants also and in Minerals; nevertheless they have in themselves an occult and operative Life, and manifest and discover themselves by their efficacious power of operating, which they contain in and bear about themselves, and most apparently give testimony of their virtue of healing, whensoever that (by help of the Art) is extracted from them, being accurately seperated from their body. After the same manner, the efficacious Spirit, and operative power of Antimony, manifests its gifts, and distributes them among Men, being first loosed from its own body, and freed from all its bonds, so, that it is able to penetrate, and render fit to be applyed to those Uses, which the Artificer proposed to himself in Preparation.
[ARTIST AND VULCAN OUGHT TO AGREE]
But the Artist and Vulcan ought to agree: [FIRE MAKES SEPERATION] the Fire gives seperation for an operative power, and the Artificer forms the matter. [EXAMPLE, OF A BLACKSMITH] As a Black-smith useth one sort of Fire, also Iron only is his matter, which he intends for forming divers Instruments. For some times of it he makes a Spit, at another time Horse-shoes, another time a Saw, and at length innumerable other things, every of which serves for that Use, unto which the Smith intended it, although the matter is but one, which he prepares for so many divers uses. So of Antimony various works may be made for different uses: in which the Artist is the Smith that forms; [VULCAN, THE KEY] Vulcan is as it were the key which opens; and Operations and Utility give experience, and knowledge of the Use. O! if foolish and vain Men had but Ears to hear, and true eyes with understanding, not only for hearing what I write, but for understanding the Arcanum and knowledge of the use; assuredly they would not suck in those insalubrious and turbid Potions, but hasten to these limped Fountains, and drink of the Well of Life.
Therefore let the World know, that I shallprove those pretended Doctors, who seem to be wise, to be mrere Fools and Idiots,and cause many unlearned Men (but such as are studious Disciples of my Doctrine) to become true Doctors in very deed. Wherefore I here solemnly cite and invite all Men, who earnestly aspire to knowledge, with a chearful mind, good Conscience, and certain hope, to embrace and become Spectators of our Doctrine, and accurately to peruse my Writings and Informations; for so, at length, they (being possesors of what they sought) will extol and commend me after death,