Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Extracts from the Christian Directory
By Robert Parsons (15461610)
THE EARTH TEACHES GOD
IF we cast down our eyes from Heaven to earth, we behold the same of an immense bigness, distinguished with hills and dales, woods and pasture, covered with all variety of grass, herbs, flowers, and leaves; moistened with rivers, as a body with veins; inhabited by creatures of innumerable kinds and qualities; enriched with inestimable and endless treasures: and yet itself standing, or hanging rather, with all this weight and poise, in the midst of the air, as a little ball without prop or pillar.
At which surprising and most wonderful miracle of nature, God Himself, as it were, glorying, said unto Job: Where wast thou, when I laid the foundations of the earth? tell me, if thou hast understanding. Who set the measures thereof, if thou know? or who stretched out the line upon it? upon what are the foundations thereof grounded? or who let down the corner stone thereof, when the morning stars praised me together, and all the sons of God made jubilation?
IF we look neither up nor down, but cast our countenance only aside; we espy the sea on each hand of us that environs round about the land. A vast creature, that contains more wonders than mans tongue can express. A bottomless gulf, that, without running over, receives all rivers, which perpetually flow. A restless sight and turmoil of waters, that never repose neither day nor night; a dreadful, raging, and furious element, that swells and roars, and threatens the land, as though it would devour it all at once. And though in situation it is higher than the earth, as the philosopher shows (Arist. lib. de mirabilibus1), and makes assault daily towards the same, with most terrible cries and waves mounted even to the sky: yet when it draws near to the land, and to its appointed borders, it stays upon the sudden, though nothing be there to stop it; and is forced to recoil back again, murmuring, as it were, because it is not permitted to pass any farther.
Of which restraint, God asks Job this question: Who shut up the sea with doors, when it breaks forth, proceeding as it were out of a matrice? Whereunto no man being able to give answer, God answers Himself in these words: I compassed it with my bounds, and put bars and doors. And I said, Hitherto thou shall come, and shalt not proceed further: and here thou shalt break thy swelling waves.
THIS, in short, may be sufficient to prove the existence of a God, from these things we see without us. But if we should leave these, and enter to seek God within our own selves: whether we consider our bodies, or our souls, or any one part thereof, we shall find so many strange things, or rather so many seas of miracles and wonders, that preach and show the glory of their Maker, that we shall not only perceive and see God most evidently, but rather, as a certain old heathen has written, We shall feel and handle him in his works (Iamblicus de myst.2 c. 1).