John Wesley.

A survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 1) online

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These are thy glorious Worlts, Parent of Gotod,

Almighty ! Thine this universal Frame,

Thus wond'rous fair i Thyself how wond'rous then I



Printed by W. Flint, Old Bailey,




1. IHAVE long desired to see such a Cow
pendium of Natural Philosophy, as was,
1. Not too diffuse, not expressed in many
words, but comprised in so moderate a
compass, as not to require any large ex-
pence, either of time or money. 2. Not
maimed or imperfect ; but containing the
heads of whatever (after all our discoveries)
is known with any degree of certainty,
either with regard to the earth or the hea-
vens. And this I wanted to see, 3. In
the plainest dress, simply and nakedly
expressed, in the most clear, easy, and in-
VOL. i. a


telligible manner, that the nature of the
things would allow; particularly free from
all the jargon of mathematics, which is
mere heathen Greek to common readers.
At the same time I wished to see this
short, full, plain account of the visible
creation, directed to its right end : not
barely to entertain an idle barren curiosity,
but to display the invisible things of God,
his power^ wisdom, and goodness.

2. But I cannot find such a treatise as
this in any modern, any more than ancient
language ; and I am certain there is none
such in the English tongue. What comes
nearest to it of any thing I have seen, is
Mr. Ray's Wisdom of God in the Creation;
Dr. Derham's Phyiico and Astro-Theolo-
gy ; Niewentyt's Religious Philosopher ;
Mather's Christian Philosopher, and Na-
ture delineated. But none of these, single,
the design ; and who will be at the

pains to extract the substance of them all,
and add the later discoveries, of which
they had little knowledge, and therefore
could take but little notice. This is a
desideratum still, and one that a lover of
mankind would rejoice to see even tolera-
bly supplied.

3. I am thoroughly sensible there are
many who have far more ability, as well
as leisure, for such a work than me ; but
as none of them undertake it, I have my-
self made some little attempt in the ensu-
ing volumes. Herein following Mr. Der-
ham's plan, I divide the work into text
and notes.* The text is in great measure
translated from the Latin work of John
Francis Buddceus, the late celebrated pro-
fessor of philosophy in the University of
Jena, in Germany. But I have found oc-

* So it was in the first edition. Many of these ace
now taken into the text.

casion to retrench, enlarge, or alter eveiy
chapter, and almost every section , so that
it is now, I believe, not only pure, con-
taining nothing false or uncertain, but as
full as any tract can be expected to be,
which is comprised in so narrow a compass;
and likewise plain, clear, and intelligible,
to one of a tolerable understanding. The
notes contain the sum of what is most va-
luable in the above-named writers; to
which, are added the choicest discoveries
both of our own and of the foreign socie-
ties. These likewise, I trust, are as plain


and clear as the nature of the things spoken
will allow; although some of them, I know,
will not be understood by an unlearned or
inattentive reader.

'4. Mean time I must apprize the reader
that I have sometimes a little digressed,
by reciting both uncommon appearances of
e, and uncommon instances of art :


and yet this is not properly a digression
from the main design I have in view. For
surely in these appearances also the wis-
dom of God is displayed ; even that mani-
fold wisdom which is able to answer the
same ends by so various means. And those
surprising instances of art do likewise reflect
glory upon him, whose spirit in man
giveth that wisdom, whose inspiration
teacheth understanding*

5. It will be easily observed, that I en-
deavour throughout not to account for
things, but only to describe them. I un-
dertake barely to set down what appears in
nature, notihe cause of those appearances.
The/tfc/s lie within the reach of our senses
and understanding ; the causes are more
remote. That things are so, we know
with certainty ; but why they are so, we
know not. In many cases we cannot know;
and the more we enquire, the more-we are
a 3

MarchZS, 1175.

* 1 HAD finished the additions \vbich I
designed to make to the System of Natural
Philosophy, before I saw Dr. Goldsmith's
"History of the Earth and Animated Na-
ture." I had not read over the first volume
of this, when I almost repented of having
wrote any thing on the head. It seemed
to me, that had he published this but a
few years sooner, my design would have
been quite superseded, since the subject
had fallen into the hands of one who had
both greater abilities and more leisure for
the work. It cannot be denied that he is
a fine writer. He was a person of strong
judgment, of a lively imagination, and a
master of language, both of the beauty
and strength of the English tongue.

2. Yet I could not altogether approve of
this, that it seemed the design of the an-

thor to say all he could upon every article,
rather than all he should say* Hence arose
his numerous and large digressions, making
no inconsiderable part of his work. Hence
his minute description of cows, horses,
dogs ; of cocks, hens, and pigeons, and of
abundance of animals equally known to
every man,, woman, and child ; descrip*
tions that are of little or no use, and no
more entertaining than useful; at least
useful only to the bookseller, by swelling
the bulk, and consequently the price of
his book.

3. Indeed this, the price of it, must
ever remain a weighty objection to many
readers: they cannot afford to purchase
eight volumes at six or seven shillings a
volume : ten or fifteen shillings they may
possibly afford for five or six smaller vo-
lumes, especially when they contain all
that is curious or useful in the far more
a 5


costly work. Nay, I hope, considerably
more than all ; as I have consulted abund-
ance of authors, and taken abundance of
passages from them, whom I apprehend
the Doctor had not seen.

4. I have another objection to this in-
genious book; I doubt some parts of it
are not true. The author, indeed, has
corrected many vulgar errors, but has, I
fear, adopted others in their place. Many
times he exposes the credulity of other
writers, but does he not sometimes fall un-
der the same imputation ? As where he
terms presumption, to deny the existence of
Bishop Pont oppidan's Kraken, and the
Sea-serpent; the one a mile across, the
other raising himself out of the water,
higher than the main mast of a man of
war ! Could one who made the least scruple
of rejecting these gross absurdities, accuse
other writers of credulity ?


5. Mean time, the accounts which he
has given of many animals, being taken
from the best and latest authorities, are
both more accurate, and more to be de-
pended on, than any which had been pub-
lished before. Many of these I have in-
serted in their places, (only contracting
thirty or forty pages into four or five)
often in the room of those which were less
accurate, and probably less authentic ; as
also several of his beautiful remarks, such
as directly tended to illustrate that great
truth, OLord, how manifold are thy works !
In wisdom hast thou made them all !


or THE



Of the gradual Improvement of Natural Philosophy.

1. The Order observed in this Treatise $

2. The Method of philosophizing among the Hebrews and

Egyptians ib a

3. Among the Greeks. The philosophy of Pythagoras,

Plato, Aristotle ib.

4. The different Method pursued by the four Greek Sects 4

5. The Philosophy of the Schoolmen ib.

6. The revival of philosophy by Lord Bacon - ib.
*7. Greatly promoted by philosophical societies ib,
8, The Improvement made in every Branch of it: in

anatomy; the discovery of the circulation of the

blood, of the lacteal veins j and the thoracic duct ib.



9. Of the generation of all animals from eggs 4

10. Of the transfusion of blood - ib.

1 1. Diseases themselves, and the operations of medi-

cines, give occasion for farther discoveries 5

12. Many anatomical discoveries have been made bv mi-

croscopes - - ib,

13. Many with regard to brutes,' particularly fishes and

insects - ib*

1 4. Many likewise, with regard to plants, stones, metals

and minerals - 6

15. Great improvements from the art of chemistry ib,

16. Discoveries concerning the loadstone ib.

17. Concerning glass an*5 burning-glasses ibr

18. The nature of the air is more accurately discovered by

means of the barometer, the thermometer, and the

air-pump - *7

19. Discoveries relating to water ib.

20. Discoveries which shew the nature of fire : of gunpow-

der, phosphorus, aurum fuhninans ib.

21. Of the earth, and the chief systems of the universe ib.

22. Of the sun, the planets, and their satellites 8
S3. Of the causes of natural bodies ib.
24. Of spirits and divine things ib,


CHAP. 1. Of the Structure of the Hitman Body,

1. The similar solid parts

2. A fibre -


3. The cellular membrane * 12

4. A bone - 14

5. A cartilage - 18

6. A membrane ~ - 19

7. An artery - - ib

8. A vein - 22

9. The lymphatic vessels, and their use - ib

10. A nerve * 23

11. The flesh ib,

12. A gland ... ib.

13. A muscle - 24

14. The cuticula and skin ib.
A boy with a dappled ski a - 25

15. The fat 29

16. The panniculus carnosus - 30

17. The dissimilar parts ; in particular, the head, cere-

brum, cerebellum, medulla oblongata ib.

18. The meninges - 31

19. The brain ib.

20. The origin of the nerves 32

21. The pineal gland - ., 33
23. The guards of the eyes - 34

23. The muscles of the eye : the tunica adnata, the struc-

ture of the eye - 35

24. The coats of the eye - ib.

25. The humours of the eye 36

26. Peculiarities relative to the eyes ; help for decayed

sight ; account of a person couched 42

27. Queries concerning the eyes - -43

28. The externa 1 parts of the ear 44
The internal : particularly the drum - ib.

29. The bones, passages, windows, labyrinth 45

30. The nostrils - - 47



St. Of the tongue . - .49

A person speaking without a tongue - ib.

Persons deaf and dumb taught to speak 49

Dumbness suddenly removed - 50

Of the teeth - . * ib,

32. The palate - 53

S3. The uvula, toasils, and wind-pipe - ib,

34. The hair 53

Hair turned white through fear and grief 54

White triangular hairs 55

3$. The heart ~ 56

36. The pericardium - 57

37. The lungs - - 58

38. The thorax, intercostal muscles, diaphragm 61
59 The pleura and mediastinum - - 62

40. The external parts of the middle cavity ib.

An old woman giving suck - 63

41. The stomach ib.

42. The intestines and mesentery 65

43. The lacteal veins 66

44. The omentum, peritoneum , pancreas 67

45. The liver, gall, bladder, and ducts ib,

46. The spleen ib,

47. The kidneys, ureters, bladder * 68

48. The hands - ' rb,
Account of a man without arms - ib.

49. The thighs, feet, and legs 69

50. The animaUspirits - .. ib,'

51. Secretion of the other a uids - 70

52. The blood - 71

53. What are the first elements of the body 74

54. Reflections - 75



Of the Natural State ofUe Human Body.


1. What the natural state of the body means 98

2. Of the circulation of the blood - - ib.
5. Of Respiration - 10*

4. Of chylification 104

5. Of nutrition - b.

Uncommon instances of the utility of abstinence 105

6. Of the senses 107

7. Of the sight - >b.

8. The hearing 108

9. The smelling - - ib.

10. The tasting '&

11. The feeling - - 109

12. Of hunger and thirst - - ib.

13. Of sleep - >b

14. Of local motion - - 11^

15. Of the voluntary and involuntary motions ib.

1 6. Of the stature of man &
H. Of the age of man - ^*5


Of the preternatural State of the Human Body.

U What the preternatural state of the body is 117

2. The variety of diseases - ib

;!. Reduced to three classes : those of the solids 117

4. Those of the fluids, particularly the blood 119

5. Those of the animal spirits ih.

6. The remote causes of diseases 120

7. Of fevers - - ib.

8. The way to preserve health 1 2 !

9. Of life and death - - 123'


Of the Soul } and of the Origin of Man.

1. There is something in man, which perceives the various

motions of the body - - 134

2. The perception is sometimes continued and recalled ib.

3. We know some things in a more sublime manner 135

4. There is something in us which has an appetite to sen-

sual things ib.

5 And another appetite which is often contrary to this ib.

6. How philosophers account for the direction of our bodily

motions ... ib.

7. For the external senses - - ib.

8. The imagination and memory 136

9. The understanding, will, and affections ib.

10. This" may be so, or not - - ib.

11. Of the immortality of the soul - - ib.

12. Of the union of the soul and body 157

13. Reason cannot discover the origin of man ib.

14. The. scriptural account of it ib



15. Of the production of the soul ~ IGft

1 6. Of the generation of the body ib.


CHA*. I. O/ Bflwte.

1. The general difference of men and beasts as to the itruc*

ture and posture of the body - - 148

, Their agreement - 150

3. Their agreement and disagreement as to the head and

brain - - ib,

4. The heart and lungs 151

5. The eyes - - 152

6. The ears, nose, and teeth - 154

7. The wind-pipe 156

8. The vegetative and sensitive motions in brutes ib.

9. Of the soul of brutes 157
JO, Of some particular sorts of beasts - ib.

Of the elephant - -158

Of the rhinoceros - 162

Of the camel * - 163

Of the dromedary . 1 64

Of the lamas of Peru . ib.

Of the castor or beaver - 165

Of the sham moy - 167

Of the roe-buak - 268



Of the rein-deer - '- 170

Of the ass: its properties and utility . 171

Of the mule - - -172

Of the zebra - - 174

Of the squirrel . 1 76

Of the marmot - - 177

Of the hedge-hog . 173

Of the pangolin - 179

Of the armadillo - 180

Of animals of the monkey-kind K - 181

Of the chimpanaze 183

Surprising assembly of monkies - 'b.

Of the oppossum 184

Of the ichneumon - 185

Of the jackal - 186

Of the sable mice - .187

Of the glutton - - 183

Of the sloth i. 189

Of the falling off of the horns of beagts * 151

11. Some general reflections - 133-



>. Some general remarks

2. Of their motion - - 204r

S. Of their brain % 210

4. Of their organs of sen s

5. Of their lungs

6. Of their stomach and bladder



*?. Of the generation of birds . ib.

8. Of some particular sorts of birds - g$>?

Of the largest of birds, the Cuntorof Peru ib.

Of the smallest, the humming bird - - ib.

Of vultures : the singular service they are of in Egypt 229

Their uses in America - 230

Of looks: their peculiar modes, or systems f ib.

Of the magpie: its peculiar degrees of instinct 231

Of the wood-pecker 232

Of the bird of paradise 234

Of the American mock-bird : its uncommon properties 235

Of the crane ib.

Of the stork ', - 236
Remarkable adventure of a tame stork at the university

of Tubingen - - 237

Of the pelican : its singular construction and properties ib.
Of the albatross one of the largest and most formidable

birds in America - - 239

Of the swan : its peculiarities and longevity 240

Of the goose, and wild-goose 241

Of the Soland goose 242
Of a couple of remarkable eagles, and a Couple of ra-
vens, in the isle of Rona, one of the Scotch Western

isles - - 243

Of the down-bird in Iceland - ib.

Of the bat - - 244

Of the king- fisher ib,

9. Oeneral reflections - 245




1. The number of fish 256

2. Their covering ib*

3. Their brain - ib.

4. Their organs of sense - - ib.

5. Gills, or lungs - 38

6. The heart - 260

7. The air-bladder - - ib.

8. The stomach - ib.

9. The fins - 26.3
10. Experiments on fish 263
M. Of shellfish - 265

Of the reproduction of the shells of some fish 266

Of the extraordinary manner in which lobsters and

crabs change their shells ib.
The remarkable difference of the land crabs on the Ca-

ribbee Islands - - 270
The surprising regularity of their descent from the

mountains to the sea 271

Of the soldier crab 272

Of crabs eyes 273

Of turbinated fish, of the snail-kind 274

Of theoyster 276
The remarkable movings and operations of the scallop 277

Of the razor shell - ib.

Of multivalve shell-fish - 278



Of the sea-urchin - . 275

Of the acotn shell-fish, the thumb-footed shell-fish,

and the imaginary barnacle 279

Of themurex, which gives the Tyrian purple 280

Of pearl muscles - - . 281

The peculiarities of muscles in general - ib.

In Port Mahon harbour muscles are found in stones of

immense magnitude - - 288

Of the bollani, which are found to live in large stones

in the Adriatic sea - . - ib.

Of other shell fish>found in Toulon harbour^ and on the

coast of Ancona . . 283

Of the pholades bollani, who buries itself in the hard-
est rock ib.
Of the animal flower in Barhacloes : it* peculiarities,
as it seems an aquatic sensitive plant s - 285






Of the gradual Improvement of Natural Philosophy.

1. The Order observed in this Treatise.

2. The Method of philosophizing among the Hebrews and Egyptians ,

3. Among the Greeks. The Philosophy of Pythagoras, Plato*

and Aristotle.

4. The different Methods pursued by the four Greek Sects.

5. The Philosophy of the Schoolmen.

6. The Revival of Philosophy by Lord Bacon.

7. Greatly promoted by Philosophical Societies.

8. The Improvement made in every Branch of it: in Anatomy ;

the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood j of the Lacteal
Veins ; and the Thoracic Duct.

9. Of the Generation of all Animals from Eggs.

10. Of the Transfusion of Blood.

11. Diseases themselves, and the Operations of Medicines, give

occasion for farther Discoveries.

12. Many Anatomical Discoveries have been made by Microscopes.

13. Many with regard to Brutes, particularly Fishes and Insects.

14. Many likewise with regard to Plants, Stones, Metals, and



15. Great Improvements from the Art of Chyrnistrv.
1^5. Discoveries concerning the Loadstone.

17. Concerning Glass and Burning-Glasses.

18. The Nature of ihe Air is more accurately discovered by means

of the Barometer, the Thermometer, and the Air-Pump.

19. Discoveries relating to \Yater.

20. Discoveries which shew the Nature of Fire, Gunpowder,

Aurum Fulminans, Phosphorus.

21. Of the Earth, and the chief Systems of the Universe.

22. Of the Sun, the Planets, and their Satellites.

23. Of the Causes of Natural Bodies.

24. Of Spirits and Divine Things.


ATURAL PHILOSOPHY treats both of
GOD himself, and of his creatures, visible and invisible.
Of these 1 purpose to speak in such a manner as to as-
cend from the consideration of man, through all the
orders of things as they are farther and farther re-
moved from us, to GOD the centre of all knowledge.
(I mean of visible things ; of the invisible world we
cannot know much, while we dwell in houses of clay.)
Thus speculative philosophy ascends from man to Goo ;
practical, descends from GOD to man.

2. The most ancient nations, the Egyptians and
Hebrews, in particular, philosophized much concern-
ing GOD, and concerning Genii, good or evil spirits,
of an order superior to man. What they taught con-
cerning the visible world, related chiefly to its origin,
the changes it was to undergo, and its final dissolution.
But on all these heads they only delivered to their pos-
terity what they had received from their forefathers.

3. Among the Greeks, Thales Milesius and his
followers, applied themselves with great industry to
discover, with the best helps they had, the material
causes of natural things. They were succeeded by
others who more curiously searched into the structure
of natural bodies, lleie the foundation of natural
history was laid, in various observations on plants,
animals, and other things. And herein the endeavours
of A mtut'e and Thcophrastus 5 iu particular ; are to be

commended. Yet, in other respects, Aristotle did not
promote, but rather obstruct the knowledge of nature :
for he made philosophy as unintelligible by his abstract
and metaphysical notions, as Plato, Pythagoras, and
others did, by their ideas, numbers, and symbols.

4. In succeeding times, when the four Greek sects,
the Platonic, Peripatetic, Epicurean, and Stoic, du
vided the Western world between them, the Piatouists
almost confined themselves and their opinions to the
subject of divinity ; the Peripatetics regarded little but
logick ; the Stoics little but moral philosophy ; and
the Epicureans had small concern about any, being
immersed in sensual pleasures : so that none of them
made any considerable improvement in any branch of
natural philosophy.

5. When the utter barbarism which followed was a
little dispelled, Aristotle began to reign. His follow-
ers (the School. men, as they were called) might have
improved natural philosophy, if (like their master)
they had diligently cultivated the knowledge of nature,
and searched out the properties of particular things;
but it was their misfortune to neglect what was com.
mendable in him, and to follow only what was blame.
M'orthy, so as to obscure and pollute all philosophy
with abstract, idle, vain speculations. Yet some of
them, al'ter the Arabians had introduced t' e know-
ledge of chymistry into Europe, were wise above the
age they liv'ed in ; and penetrated so far into the secret
recesses of nature, as scarce to escape the suspicion of
magic. Such were Roger Bacon and Albertus Magnus.

6. After the revival of learning, as all other branches
of philosophy, so this in particular received new light.
And none was more serviceable herein than Lord
Bacon, who, well understanding the defects of the
school. philosophy, incited all lovers of natural philo-
sophy to a diligent search into natural history ; and he
himself led them the way by many experiments and ob-

7. After this, not single persons only, but whole
societies applied themselves carefully to make txperU


that having accurately observed the structure
and properties of each body, they might the more
safely judge of its nature. And the advantages which
have arisen from hence, manifestly appear fi oni the
memoirs of the royal society at London, of the aca-
demy of sciences at Pari?, and those of the same kind
in Germany, as well as several other parts of Europe.

8. To mention but a few of the late discoveries in
each branch of natural philosophy, with regard to the
structure of a human body, how many things have
modern anatomists discovered, which were either littje
understood by the ancients, or wholly unknown to
them? Such, for instance, is the circulation of the
blood discovered by Dr. William Harvey, whose
* ( Anatomic Exercitations," concerning it, were first
published in the year 1628. Such were the lacteal
veins discovered first in brutes by Casper Asellius, of
Cremona, and soon after in men. Such the thoracic
duct, and receptacle of the chyle, observed first by
Dr. John Pecquet, of Paris, whereby the whole course
of the blood is now clearly understood.

9. Dr. Harvey improved natural philosophy by
another no less eminent discovery : for he was the first
of the moderns that shewed all animals to be generated
from eggs. That the ancients knew and taught this,
f Orpheus in particular) cannot reasonably be doubted.
But as the knowledge of it was entirely lost, to revive
was the same thing as to invent it. It is obvious how
great a light this pours upon that dark subject with
regard to the generation of men, as well as of other

10. Another remarkable discovery in the last century
was that of the transfusion of the blood. The blood of
a young, lively, healthy animal, was transfused by

Online LibraryJohn WesleyA survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 24)