An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature by Nathaniel Culverwell

By Nathaniel Culverwell

A sublime and realized Discourse of the sunshine of Nature is a concerted attempt at highbrow mediation within the deep non secular dispute ofthe English civil battle within the 17th century. On one aspect used to be the antinomian statement of utmost Calvinists that the select have been redeemed through God’s loose grace and thereby unfastened from traditional ethical duties. contrary to that was once the Arminian rejection of predestination and statement that Christ died for all, not only for the decide on. confronted with the violence of those disputes, Nathaniel Culverwell tried a reasonable security of cause and traditional legislation, arguing, within the phrases of Robert Greene, that “reason and religion are specific lighting, but they aren't hostile; they're complementary and harmonious. cause is just like God in guy, and to disclaim correct cause is to disclaim our relation to God.” Culverwell offered this knowing of the function of cause via expounding upon Proverbs 20:27, “The knowing of a guy is the Candle of the Lord.”This was once a favourite textual content one of the Cambridge Platonists (Whichcote, Cudworth, Smith, and More), to whom Culverwell was once shut. He had evidently absorbed a lot additionally from Bacon, Grotius, and Selden. notwithstanding, the main profound effect on him was once that of the Spanish Jesuit Francisco Su?rez’s De Legibus, ac Deo Legislatore (1612), that is additionally a part of this series.An stylish and realized Discourse was once introduced as a sequence of sermon-like lectures at Emmanuel collage, Cambridge, in 1645/46 andpublished posthumously in 1652.Nathaniel Culverwell (1619–1651) was once a fellow of Emmanuel collage, Cambridge.Robert A. Greene is Professor of English on the collage of Massachusetts at Boston.Hugh MacCallum used to be Professor Emeritus of English on the college of Toronto.Knud Haakonssen is Professor of highbrow historical past and Director of the Centre for highbrow historical past on the collage of Sussex, England.

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Reason may not come into these Seas, except she strike her top-saile; here we may say with Aristotle, at the brinke of Euripus, not being able to [9] give an account of the ebbes and flowes, If I can’t comprehend thee, thou shalt me. 13 Possibly an expression or two (more there are not) may seem to speak too much in Reasons behalfe; but if well examined, will prove nothing to the prejudice of free Grace: The whole scope of the book endeavouring to fil those landmarks and just bounds betwixt Religion, and Reason, which some (too superciliously brow-beating the hand-maid, and others too much magnifying her) have removed.

We shall reduce their several meanings to these three heads. 1. Some would have it thus. The Candle of the Lord is in the understanding of a man, as if the words did run thus, jwjy rn µda jmçnb Lucerna Domini in mente hominis,7 that is, God with his Candle discovers the very thoughts and intentions of men, he searches into every corner of the heart; he has lucernam in corde [a light in the heart], he spies out every Atome, he perceives the first starting of a motion, the first peeping out of a thought, but this, though it be very true, yet is nothing to the purpose here.

But I see these ancient Philosophers are not so well furnisht, but that we must return to the Schoolmen again, who by this time have lickt their former descriptions into a more comely forme. We will look upon Aquinas his first. 23 It is a rational Ordinance for the ad- of the nature of a law 31 vancing of publike good, made known by that power, which has care and tuition of the publike. And Suarez his picture of a Law, now that ’tis fully drawn, hath much the same aspect. 25 But in respect of him that is subject to the Law it does consist in actu rationis [in a rational act], ’tis required only that he should know it, not in actu voluntatis [in an act of the will], it does not depend upon his obedience.

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