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Title: Medica Sacra - or a Commentary on on the Most Remarkable Diseases Mentioned - in the Holy Scriptures
Author: Mead, Richard, 1673-1754
Language: English
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                             MEDICA SACRA;
                        On the most remarkable
                           Mentioned in the
                           HOLY SCRIPTURES.

                           By RICHARD MEAD,

  Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians at LONDON and EDINBURGH,
        and of the Royal Society, and Physician to his Majesty.

  Translated from the Latin, Under the AUTHOR’s Inspection, By THOMAS
                           STACK, M.D.F.R.S.


  Printed for J. BRINDLEY, late Bookseller to his Royal Highness the
             Prince of WALES, in New Bond-street. M DCCLV.


_Memoirs of the life and writings of the learned author_

_The preface_

I. _The disease of_ Job                                           page 1

II. _The leprosy_                                                     13

III. _The disease of king_ Saul                                       28

IV. _The disease of king_ Joram; Jehoram                              34

V. _The disease of king_ Ezekias; Hezekiah                            36

VI. _The disease of old age_                                          38

VII. _The disease of king_ Nebuchadnezzar                             57

VIII. _The paralysy, palsy_                                           62

IX. _Of demoniacs_                                                    73

X. _Of lunatics_                                                      93

XI. _The issue of blood in a woman_                                  103

XII. _Weakness of the back, with a rigidity of the spine back bone_  104

XIII. _The bloody sweat of_ Christ                                   106

XIV. _The disease of_ Judas                                          108

XV. _The disease of king_ Herod                                      113

     Πἁντα δοχιμἁζετε τὸ καλὸν κατἑχετε.

     _D. Paul. 1 Ep. ad Thessal. v. 21._

     _Prove all things; hold fast that which is good._

BOOKS wrote by the late learned Dr. MEAD, and sold by J. BRINDLEY,
Bookseller, in _New Bond Street_.


I. A Mechanical Account of Poisons in several Essays, 4th Edition.
Price 5s. 1747

II. A Discourse on the Plague, 9th Edit. Price 4s. 1744

III. ---- on the Small Pox and Measles; to which is annexed, a
Treatise on the same Disease by the celebrated Arab. Phys. _Abubeker
Rhazes_. Price 4s.

IV. ---- on the Scurvy; to which is annexed, An historical Account of
a new Method for extracting the foul Air out of Ships, &c. with the
Description and Draught of the Machines by which it is performed: In
two Letters to a friend. By _Samuel Sutton_, the Inventor. Price 3s 6d

V. ---- on the Influence of the Sun and Moon upon human Bodies, and
the Diseases thereby produced. 4s 1748

VI. Medical Precepts and Cautions. Price 5s. 1751

VII. A Commentary on the Diseases mentioned in the Holy Scriptures.
Price 4s. 1755

_The above seven Discourses are all translated under the Author’s
Inspection, by Dr. STACK, M.D.F.R.S._


VIII. De Variolis & Morbillis Liber, huic accessit _Rhazes_ Medici
inter Arabas celeberrimi, de iisdem Morbis Commentarius. Price 4s.

IX. De Imperio Solis ac Lunæ in Corpora Humana, & Morbis inde
Oriundis, Editio Altera, Auctior. & Emendatior. Price 4s. 1746

X. Medica Sacra; sive de Morbis Insignioribus qui in Bibliis
memorantur Commentarius. Price 3s 6d 1749

XI. Monita & Precepta Medica. Price 4s 6d 1751

_N. B._ The above are to be had either in Sets, uniformly bound, or


It is a natural, nor can it be deemed an illaudable curiosity to be
desirous of being informed of whatever relates to those who have
eminently distinguished themselves for sagacity, parts, learning, or
what else may have exalted their characters, and thereby entitled them
to a degree of respect superior to the rest of their cotemporaries.
The transmission of such particulars, has ever been thought no more
than discharging a debt due to posterity; wherefore it is hoped, that
what is here intended to be offered to the publick, relative to a
gentleman, who is universally allowed to have merited so largely in
the republic of letters, and more particularly in his own profession,
a profession, not less useful than respectable, will not be judged
impertinent or disagreeable.

Our learned author was descended from a distinguished family in
Buckinghamshire, and born at Stepney the second of August 1673. His
father, Mr. Matthew Mead, was held in great esteem as a divine among
the presbyterians, and was possessed, during their usurped power, of
the living of Stepney; from whence he was ejected the second year
after the restoration of king Charles the IId. Nevertheless, tho’ he
had fifteen children, of whom our Richard was the seventh, he found
means, with a moderate fortune, to give them a compleat education. To
this purpose he kept a tutor in his house to instruct them, and they
were taught latin rather by practice than by rules.

Party-rage perhaps never run higher than about the latter end of
Charles the IId’s reign; hereby this little domestic academy was
dispersed in 1683. The king, or rather his ministers, were determined
to be revenged on those, whom they could not prevail on to concur with
their measures. Mr. Mead (the father) was accused of being concerned
in some designs against the court; wherefore being conscious that even
his being a presbyterian, rendered him obnoxious to those in power, he
chose rather to consult his security by a retreat, then to rely upon
his innocence; to this purpose he sought and found that repose in
Holland, which was denied him in his own country; having first placed
his son Richard at a school, under the tuition of an able master of
his own principles: under whose care our young gentleman, by a ready
genius, strong memory, and close application, made a great
proficiency. At seventeen years of age he was sent to Utrecht, to be
further instructed in liberal knowledge, by the celebrated Grævius,
with whom he continued three years.

Having determined to devote his attention to medicine, he removed
from Utrecht to Leyden, where he attended Dr. Herman’s botanical
lectures, and was initiated into the theory and practice of physick,
by the truely eminent Dr. Pitcairn, who then held the professorial
chair of this science in that university: here our young student’s
assiduity and discernment, so effectually recommended him to the
professor, who was not very communicative of his instructions out of
the college, that he established a lasting correspondence with him,
and received several observations from him, which he inserted in one
of his subsequent productions.

His academical studies being finished, Mr. Mead sought further
accomplishments in Italy, whither he was accompanied by his elder
brother,[1] Mr. Polhill, and Dr. Thomas Pellet, afterwards president
of the college of physicians.

    [1] Mr. Nathaniel Mead, who was at first destined to the
    service of religion, and preach’d two or three times at the
    meeting house at Stepney, built by his father, after his
    ejection from the parish church: but taking a dislike to
    theological studies, he applied himself to the law, and made
    as great a figure at the bar, as his brother did in physick.

In the course of this tour, Mr. Mead commenced doctor in philosophy
and medicine at Padua, the twenty-sixth of August 1695, and afterwards
spent some time at Naples and Rome: how advantageous to himself, as
well as how useful to mankind he rendered his travels, his works bear
ample testimony.

About the middle of the year 1696, he returned home, and settled at
Stepney, in the neighbourhood where he was born: the success, he met
with in his practice here, established his reputation, and was a happy
presage of his future fortunes. If it be remembered, that our author
was, when he began to practise, no more than twenty-three years old,
that only three years, including the time taken up in his travels,
were appropriated to his medical attainments, it may be, not
unreasonably, admitted, that nothing but very uncommon talents, join’d
to an extraordinary assiduity, could have enabled him to distinguish
himself, at this early a period of life, in so extensive, and so
important a science.

In 1702, Dr. Mead exhibited to the public, a manifest evidence of his
capacity for, as well as application to medical researches, in his
_mechanical account of poisons_; which he informs us was begun some
years before he had leisure to publish it. These subjects, our author
justly observes, had been treated hitherto very obscurely, to place
therefore the surprizing phœnomena, arising from these active bodies
in a more intelligible light, was his professed intention; how well he
succeeded, the reception this piece universally met with, even from
its first publication,[2] sufficiently declares. In 1708 he gave a new
edition of it, with some few additions, the principal of which
consists in some strictures on the external use of mercury in raising
salivations. He has considerably further explained his sentiments upon
the same head, in the edition of this work printed in 1747.

    [2] An abstract of this work was thought deserving a place in
    the philosophical transactions (Nº 283) for the months of
    January and February 1703.

This last edition has received so many additions and alterations, as
might almost entitle it to the character of a new performance.----A
stiffness of opinion has been but too commonly observed, especially
among writers on science; and age has been seldom found to have worn
out this pertinacity: a favourite hypothesis has been defended even in
opposition to the most obvious experiments, with a degree of obstinacy
ever incompatible with the real interests of truth. On the contrary,
our ingenious author has set before his literary successors, an
example of sagacity and fortitude, truely worthy of imitation, in the
victory he obtained over these self-sufficient pre-possessions; length
of years was so far from rivetting in him an inflexibility of
sentiment, that, joined to a most extended experience, it served only
to teach him, that he had been mistaken: his candid retraction of
what he thought to have been advanced amiss by himself, cannot be
better expressed than in his own words. “Neither have I, says he,[3]
been ashamed on some occasions, (as the Latins said) _cædere vineta
mea_, to retrench or alter whatever I judged to be wrong. _Dies diem
docet._ I think truth never comes so well recommended, as from one who
owns his error: and it is allowed that our first master never shewed
more wisdom and greatness of mind, then in confessing his mistake, in
taking a fracture of a skull, for the natural suture;[4] and the
compliment, which Celsus[5] makes to him on this occasion, is very
remarkable and just;” nor is it less applicable to Dr. Mead at present
than it was to the Coan sage in his day. “_More scilicet_, inquit,
_magnorum virorum, & fiduciam magnarum rerum habentium. Nam levia
ingenia, quia nihil habent, nihil sibi detrahunt: magno ingenio,
multaque nihilominus habituro, convenit etiam simplex veri erroris
confessio; præcipueque in eo ministerio, quod utilitatis causâ
posteris traditur._”

    [3] Advertisement prefixed to the last edition of the essay
    on poisons, p. 4.

    [4] Epidem. lib. iv. § 14.

    [5] Medicin. lib. viii. c. 4.

The insertion of additions and improvements in the title of new
editions of books, has been too generally, though sometimes justly,
understood as little else than a contrivance of the bookseller, to
animate a languishing sale; but this is far from being the case in
respect to the works of our author, whose maturer sentiments on many
of the subjects, he had before treated of, cannot be well
comprehended, unless by a careful perusal of his later corrections,
seeing the alterations he has thought fit thereby to make in his
earlier productions, are not less necessary to be attended to by the
prudent practitioner, than they are really interesting to the unhappy
patient: the truth of which cannot be more manifestly evinced, than by
his last publication of his essays on poisons; wherein he entirely
subverts his former hypothesis, and builds his reasonings upon a new
foundation; he also tacitly admits his former experiments to have been
too precipitately made, and the conclusions deduced from them, to have
been too hastily drawn.

To illustrate what has been advanced upon this head, it will not be
improper to observe, that when Dr. Mead first wrote these essays, he
was of opinion, “That the effect of poisons, especially those of
venemous animals, might be accounted for, by their affecting the blood
only: but the consideration of the suddenness of their mischief, too
quick to be brought about in the course of the circulation, (for the
bite of a rattle snake killed a dog in less than a quarter of an
hour)[6] together with the nature of the symptoms entirely nervous,
induced him to change his sentiments,[7]” and to conclude, that the
poison must be conveyed by a medium of much greater quickness, which
could be no other than the animal spirits.

    [6] Philosophical transactions Nº 399.

    [7] Introduction to the last edition of the essays on
    poisons, page 12.

From hence our author is led to prefix to the last edition of this
performance, an inquiry into the existence and nature of this
imperceptible fluid, with which we have been but very imperfectly
acquainted. He has also added several new experiments, tending to
confirm this theory, and explain the properties of the viperine venom,
particularly by venturing to _taste_ it; at the same time he has
likewise contradicted some of those he had formerly made, whereby he
had been induced to believe, this poison partook of a degree of
acidity: for instance, he formerly asserted that he had seen this
sanies, “as an acid, turn the blue tincture of _heliotropium_, to a
red colour;[8]” whereas his more modern trials convinced him, it
produced no alteration at all.

    [8] Second edition of those essays, page 10.

The essays on the _tarantula_ and _mad dog_, are likewise considerably
enlarged in the last impression; especially the latter, in which is
now comprehended a regular and elegant history of the symptoms
attending the bite of this enraged animal, the reason of the
consequent _hydrophobia_, and more extensive directions for the cure:
also an accurate description of the _lichen cinereus terrestris_, its
efficacy, and manner of acting. A composition of equal parts of this
plant and black pepper, was inserted, at our author’s desire, into the
London dispensatory, in the year 1721, under the title of _pulvis
antilyssus_, which he afterwards altered by using two parts of the
former, and only one of the latter, as it now stands: in 1735 he also
recommended the use of this medicine in a loose sheet, intitled, _a
certain cure for the bite of a mad dog_.

In treating of poisonous minerals, exclusive of what is added
concerning mercurial unctions, our author has given a new analysis of
the antient and modern _arsenic_; and his essay on deliterious plants,
has afforded him an opportunity of enquiring into the _cicuta_, so
much in use of old for killing, especially at Athens, and which is
said to have been administered to _Socrates_ in consequence of his
condemnation. To this he has likewise subjoin’d an appendix,
concerning the mischievous effects of the simple water distilled from
the _lauro-cerasus_, or common laurel, which were first observed some
years since in _Ireland_, where, for the sake of its flavour, it was
frequently mixed with brandy.--His observations upon venemous
exhalations, are not less extended, nor ought the, as well useful as
ornamental, plates added to this last edition, to pass unnoticed,
particularly, “The anatomical description of the parts in a viper,
and in a rattlesnake, which are concerned in their poison,” by our
great anatomist the learned and ingenious Dr. Nichols.

In 1703 Dr. _Mead_ communicated to the royal society, a letter
published in Italy in 1687 (a copy of which he met with in the course
of his travels) from Dr. Bonomo to Seignor Redi, containing some
observations concerning the worms of human bodies;[9] whereby it is
intended to prove, that the disease, we call the itch, proceeds merely
from the biting of these animalcules: this opinion is espoused by our
author in one of his latest performances,[10] wherein therefore he
directs only _topical_ applications for the cure of this troublesome

    [9] An abstract of part of this letter was inserted in the
    before-cited number of the philosophical transactions. Vid.
    supra p. 10.

    [10] Monita & præcepta medica, p. 211, &c.

The proofs our young physician had already given of literary merit,
recommended him soon after the above-mentioned communication, to a
seat among that learned body; in the same year he was also elected one
of the physicians of St. Thomas’s hospital, and was employed by the
surgeons company to read anatomical lectures at their hall, which he
continued to do for some years.

In 1704 appeared his treatise _de imperio solis ac lunæ in corpora
humana, & morbis inde oriundis_. At this time the Newtonian system of
philosophy, from whence our author had chiefly deduced his reasonings
upon this abstruse subject, were neither thoroughly understood, nor
universally received: nevertheless whatever cavils were raised
against his hypothesis, it was generally admitted, that his
observations had their uses in practice.

The doctor thought proper to revise this juvenile production, and to
give a new edition of it in 1748; when he not only altered the
disposition of some of the _old_, but also introduced more than a
little _new_ matter into that work: particularly he has placed some
mathematical points in a clearer light, than they before appeared; he
has entered into the discussion of “a difficult question, which has
raised great contention among philosophers: viz. whereas water is more
than eight hundred times heavier than air, how does it happen, that
the latter when replete with watery vapours, depresses the mercury in
the barometer; so that its fall is an indication of rain?[11]” he has
also enquired into “the weight of the atmosphere on a human body, and
its different pressure at different times;[12]” and he has illustrated
and confirmed the medicinal part by several additional observations
and cases, that promise real utility to the practice of physic. To the
whole is now first adjoined a corollary tending to strengthen his
reasonings upon the subject, by observations of the effects of storms
on the human body; wherein, from the case of a lady who was seized in
an instant with a _gutta serena_, (that rendered her totally blind) on
the night of the great storm which happened in 1703, he is led to give
a distinct account of the cause and cure of that melancholly
distemper. This work is also remarkably distinguished by many curious
observations our author received from his ingenious preceptor in the
art of healing, Dr. _Pitcairne_.

    [11] Stack’s translation of the influence of the sun and
    moon, p. 21.

    [12] Ibid. p. 30.

Our author’s distinguished genius for, and sedulous attention to the
interests of his profession, procured him an acquisition of farther
honours, as well as recommended him to the patronage of the most
eminent of the faculty: in 1707 his _Paduan diploma_ for doctor of
physick, was confirmed by the university of Oxford; in 1716 he was
elected fellow of the college of physicians, and served all the
offices of that learned body, except that of president, which he
declined when offered to him in 1744. Radcliff, the most followed
physician of his day, in a particular manner espoused Dr. Mead, and in
1714, upon the death of the former, the latter succeeded him in his
house, and the greater part of his practice; some years before which,
he had quitted Stepney, and had resided in Austin Fryars.

Party-principles were far from influencing his attachments; though he
was himself a zealous whig, he was equally the intimate of _Garth_,
_Arbuthnot_, and _Friend_: his connections, more especially, with the
latter, are manifested not only in their mutual writings, (of which,
more hereafter) but in that when Dr. _Friend_ was committed a prisoner
to the Tower in 1723, upon a suggestion of his being concerned in the
practices of Bishop _Atterbury_ against the government, Dr. _Mead_
became one of his securities to procure his enlargement.

In 1719, an epidemic fever made great ravages at Marseilles; and tho’
the French physicians were very unwilling to admit, this disease to
have been of foreign extraction or contagious; yet our government
wisely thought it necessary, to consider of such measures as might be
the most likely to prevent our being visited by so dangerous a
neighbour; or in failure thereof, to put an early stop to the progress
of the infection. Dr. _Mead_, whose deserved reputation may not
unjustly be said to have merited that mark of distinction, was
consulted on these critical and important points, by command of their
excellencies, the lords justices of the kingdom, in his majesty’s
absence: how equal he was to this momentous talk, sufficiently appears
from the discourse he published on that occasion: the approbation this
performance met with, may be estimated from the reception it
universally found; seven impressions were sold of it in the space of
one year, and in the beginning of 1722, the author gave an eighth, to
which he prefixed a long preface, particularly calculated to refute
what had been advanced in _France_, concerning the absence of
contagion in the malady that had afflicted them: he also now added a
more distinct description of the plague, and its causes; and confirmed
the utility of the measures he had recommended, for preventing its
extension, from examples of good success, where the same had been put
in practice: to these he has likewise annexed, a short chapter
relating to the cure of this deplorable affliction.--In 1744, this
work was carried to a ninth edition, wherein, to use the doctor’s own
expression, he has “here and there added some new _strokes_ of
reasoning, and, as the painters say, retouched the _ornaments_, and
heightened the _colouring_ of the _piece_.” Here it may not be
improper to take notice, that it is in this last impression of his
_discourse on the plague_, that our author appears to have first
adopted his theory of the properties and affections of the _nervous
fluid_, or _animal spirits_, upon which he has also founded his latter
reasonings on the subject of poisons, as well as in respect to the
influence of the sun and moon on human bodies.

In 1723, Dr. _Mead_ was appointed to speak the anniversary Harveian
oration, before the members of the college of physicians, when, ever
studious of the honour of his profession, he applied himself to wipe
off the obloquy, thought to be reflected upon it, by those who
maintained the _practice_ of _physic_ at _Rome_, to have been
confined to _slaves_ or _freed-men_, and not deemed worthy the
attention of an _old Roman_: which oration was made publick in 1724,
and to it was annexed, _a dissertation upon some coins, struck by the_
Smyrnæans, _in honour of physicians_.[13]

    [13] Dissertatio de nummis quibusdam, a _Smyrnæis_, in
    medicorum honorem, percussis.

This publication was smartly attacked by Dr. _Conyers Middleton_ in
1726,[14] who was replied to by several, and particularly, as it is
said, by Dr. _John Ward_, professor of _rhetoric_ in _Gresham
College_. This gentleman was supposed by his opponent, to have been
employed by Dr. _Mead_, who did not chuse to enter personally, into
this little-important debate; upon which presumption, Dr. _Middleton_
published a defence of his former dissertation in the succeeding
year;[15] wherein he treats his respondents with no little
contempt.[16] The merits of this dispute are not intended to be here
discussed, but it may not be amiss to observe, that however
displeased Dr. _Middleton_ may have been with his antagonists; in a
work published several years after, he speaks of our author in the
most respectful manner. In treating of an antique picture, he says, he
believes it to be the first, and only one of the sort ever brought to
_England_, “_donec_ Meadius _noster, artis medicæ decus, qui vita
revera nobilis, vel principibus in republica viris, exemplum præbet,
pro eo, quo omnibus fere præstat artium veterum amore, alias postea
quasdam, & splendidiores, opinor, Roma quoque deportandas

    [14] In a piece entitled, _De medicorum apud veteres_ Romanos
    _degentium conditione dissertatio; contra viros celeberrimos_
    Jac. Sponium & Rich. Meadium, M.D.D. _Servilem atque
    ignobilem eam fuisse ostenditur_, published in the fourth
    volume of his works, p. 179.

    [15] Dissertationis, &c. contra _anonymos_ quosdam _notarum
    brevium, responsionis_ atque _animadversionis_ auctores,
    desensio, ibid. p. 207.

    [16] Speaking of the answer ascribed to Dr. _Ward_, Dr.
    _Middleton_ says, _quamvis enim nomen suum celavisset, sensi
    tamen hominem e_ rhetorum turba _conductum esse oportere; cui
    scilicet generi concessum novimus, omnia_ tragice ornare,
    augere, ementiri: _is mihi solum scrupulus restabat, quod in
    ejus quidem sermone, nihil plane, quod_ rhetorem oleret,
    _nihil venustatis, nihil ornatùs, sed inculta potiùs omnia
    nec satis latina invenirem_.

    _Hujusmodi itaque scriptorem, haud magis quam alterum illum
    (cui neutiquam sane eum anteserendam censeo) cogitatione ulla
    mea aut animadversione dignum judicassem; ni hanc potissimum
    hominem a_ clarissimo Meadio _ad hoc_ respondendi munus
    _delectum; librumque ipsum_ ejusdem cura & sumptibus _in
    lucem emissam; amicisque suis_ manu propria inscriptum & dono
    a Meadio ipso missum _intellixissem_.

    [17] Germana quædam antiquitatis erudita monumenta, &c. first
    published in 1745, and inserted in the before-cited volume of
    his works, p. 2.

In respect to this controversy, our author’s _eulogist_[18] takes
notice that there is reason to believe, that Dr. _Mead_ himself had
some thoughts of more determinately explaining or confirming his
sentiments upon this subject, in a work which he left unfinished, and
which was designed to have been intitled, _medicina vetus collectitia
ex auctoribus antiquis non medicis_.

    [18] The ingenious Dr. _Maty_, who in his _journal
    britannique_ (a work not less useful than entertaining) for
    the months of _July_ and _August_ 1754, has inserted a piece,
    which he titles, _eloge du docteur Richard Mead_, composed,
    as himself takes notice, from materials communicated to him
    by Mr. _Birch_; to which piece these memoirs are obliged for
    some anecdotes relating to our learned author.

However, this literary altercation, did not in the least affect our
author’s medical reputation, for in 1727, soon after his present
Majesty’s accession to the throne, whom he had the honour to serve in
the same capacity while prince of _Wales_, he was appointed one of the
royal physicians, and he had the happiness to see his two
sons-in-law, Dr. _Willmot_ and Dr. _Nichols_, his co-adjutors in that
eminent station.

After having spent near fifty years in the constant hurry of an
extensive and successful practice; after having lived (truely
according to his own motto, _non sibi sed toti_) beyond that period
assigned by the royal psalmist for the general term of mortality; when
the infirmities of age would no longer permit him the free exercise of
those faculties, which he had hitherto so advantageously employed in
the service of the community, far from sinking into a supine
indolence, or assuming a supercilious disregard of the world, he still
continued his application, even in the decline of life, to the
improvement of physic, and the benefit of mankind.

When he was grown unequal to the discharge of more active functions,
and a retirement was become absolutely necessary, he took the
opportunity of revising all his former writings: to this retreat
therefore, and the happy protraction of so useful a life, the world is
indebted for the improvements that appear in the latter editions of
those works, which have already been taken notice of. It was not till
now that our author could find leisure to perfect his _discourse on
the small pox and measles_,[19] which had been begun by him many years

    [19] _De variolis & morbillis 1747._

As it was the principal design of these _memoirs_, to lay before the
public a concise and comprehensive history of Dr. _Mead_’s writings,
the occasion of this universally admired performance, cannot be better
given than from the author’s own account, contained in the preface to
it, in which also his connections with, and attachment to Dr.
_Friend_, are further illustrated.

It appears that Dr. _Mead_, from having observed in the year 1708,
that some of his patients in St. _Thomas’s Hospital_, recovered from a
very malignant sort of the small pox, even beyond expectation, by a
looseness seizing them on the ninth or tenth day of the disease, and
sometimes earlier, first took the hint to try what might be done by
opening the body with a gentle purge, on the decline of the distemper;
finding the success of this experiment in a great measure answerable
to his wishes, he communicated this method of practice to Dr.
_Friend_, and met with his approbation.

The latter being, soon after, called to a consultation with two other
eminent physicians, on the case of a young nobleman who lay
dangerously ill of the small pox, proposed our author’s method; this
was opposed till the fourteenth day from the eruption, when the case
appearing desperate, they consented to give him a gentle laxative
draught; which had a very good effect: Dr. _Friend_ was of opinion to
repeat it, but was over-ruled, and the patient died the seventh day

    [20] Friendi opera, p. 263.

From the result of this case, the gentlemen of the faculty were
greatly divided in opinion, as to the rectitude of this practice,
insomuch that Dr. _Friend_ thought himself under a necessity of
vindicating it; and therefore sent to our author for the purport of
their former conversation upon this topic, desiring it might be
reduced into writing. Such was the friendship that mutually subsisted
between these learned men, that this request was granted without
hesitation, and Dr. _Mead_’s letter was shewn to Dr. _Radcliffe_, who
prevailed upon our author to consent, that the same might be annexed
to Dr. _Friend_’s intended _defence_; which, however he was advised by
some friends, to drop at that time; whereby this letter lay by till
the latter’s publication of _the first and third books of
Hippocrates’s epidemics_, illustrated with _nine commentaries
concerning fevers_. Of these the _seventh_ treats of _purging in the
putrid fever, which follows upon the confluent small pox_: to which
are annexed, in support of this opinion, letters from four physicians
on that subject, and among them that from our author, which he had
translated from the english into latin, enlarged and new modelled to
serve this purpose.

This work gave rise to a controversy, maintained with an unbecoming
warmth on both sides: among Dr. _Friend_’s principal opponents, may be
reckoned Dr. _Woodward_; who, not contented with condemning a
practice, experience has since evinced not only salutary in general,
but in many cases absolutely necessary; likewise treated its favourers
with contempt and ill-manners, and more particularly our author;[21]
whose resentment upon this occasion, appears to have been carried to a
justly exceptionable length, seeing it had not subsided twenty years
after the death of his antagonist.[22]

    [21] The state of physic, by _John Woodward_, M.D. printed in

    [22] “In the front of this band stood forth Dr. _John
    Woodward_, physic professor at _Gresham College_, a man
    equally ill-bred, vain, and ill-natured; who, after being for
    some time apprentice to a linnen-draper, took it into his
    head to make a collection of shells and fossils, in order to
    pass upon the world for a philosopher; thence getting
    admission into a physician’s family, at length, by dint of
    interest, obtained a doctor’s degree.” Preface to the
    discourse on the small pox, &c. p. 8, &c.

Dr. _Mead_’s daily acquisition of knowledge and experience, enabled
him to enlarge to many beneficial purposes, this performance, which,
in all probability, was at first designed only to illustrate and
vindicate the sentiments contained in the aforementioned letter; and
it is but justice to say, the applause it has found among the learned,
as well for the elegance of its diction, as the perspicuity of its
precepts, is no more than what is truely due to it.----To this
discourse is subjoin’d a latin translation, from the arabic of
_Rhazes_’s treatise on the _small pox_ and _measles_, a copy of the
original having been obtained for this purpose by Dr. _Mead_, from the
celebrated _Boerhaave_, between whom there had long subsisted an
intimate correspondence, nor did their reciprocally differing in some
opinions, diminish the friendship they mutually manifested for each

The year 1749, furnished two new productions from our author; a
translation of one of which follows these memoirs. The other is
entitled, _a discourse on the scurvy_, affixed to Mr. _Sutton_’s
second edition of his _method for extracting the foul air out of

It is more than possible that, but, for the patronage of Dr. _Mead_,
this contrivance, which confers no less honour to the inventor, than
utility to the public, might have been for ever stifled: our author,
than whom no one more ardently wished for, or more zealously promoted
the glory and interest of his country, being thoroughly convinced of
its efficacy, so earnestly, and so effectually recommended it to the
lords of the admiralty, as to prevail over the obstinate opposition
that was made against its being put into practice. To the same purpose
in 1742, he explained the nature and conveniencies of this invention
to the royal society,[23] and with the same view he confessedly wrote
the last mentioned discourse, of which he made a present to Mr.

    [23] In a paper read before the royal society, _Feb._ 11,
    1741-2, and published in Mr. _Sutton_’s account, page 41. He
    also presented a model of this invention made in copper to
    the royal society, which cost him 200l.

His _medical precepts_ and _cautions_, which appeared in 1751, and was
his last publication, affords an indisputable testimony, that length
of years had not in the least impaired his intellectual faculties.
Our author has herein furnished the public, with the principal helps
against most diseases which he had either learned by long practice, or
deduced from rational principles.[24] Who could with the same
propriety take upon himself to be an instructor and legislator in the
medical world, as he who had been taught to distinguish truth from
falsehood, in the course of so extended an experience, protracted now
to almost threescore years? to this may be added, that he has so
contrived to blend the _utile dulci_, by embellishing his precepts
with all the delicacy of polite expression, as to render them at the
same time not less entertaining than instructive.

    [24] Preface to the _monita & præcepta medica_, p. 1.

However, this work was productive of two other little pieces, from two
gentlemen of the faculty: one by Dr. _Summers_; who in a pamphlet _on
the success of warm bathing in paralytic cases_, controverts Dr.
_Mead_’s assertion, that “hot bathing is prejudicial to all
paralytics” ... “_calidæ vero immersiones omnibus paralyticis
nocent_[25].”--Some reflections upon the advocates for Mrs.
_Stephens_’s medicines, in the cure of the stone and gravel, by our
author, occasioned a letter to him on that subject by Dr. _Hartley_ of
_Bath_. The former expressed himself in the following manner; “_Neque
temperare mihi possum, quin dicam in opprobrium nuper medicis
nonnullis cessisse, quod insano pretio redimendi anile remedium
magnatibus auctores fuerunt._[26]” ... “Nor can I forbear observing,
tho’ I am extremely sorry for the occasion, that some gentlemen of the
faculty a few years since acted a part much beneath their characters,
first in suffering themselves to be imposed on, and then in
encouraging the legislature to purchase an old woman’s medicine at an
exorbitant price.”[27] Of this the latter complains as an unmerited
indignity, “_Illud interea_ (inquit) _tanquem inopinatum, & ab
æquitate tua alienum queri liceat_, TE, _qui in obvios quoscunque
comis & urbanus esse, bene autem merentibus de re medica, vel etiam
literaria quavis, summa cum benignitate favere soleas, in
lithrontriptici fautores acerbiùs invectum fuisse; & non potius laudi
illis dedisse, quod arcanum sine pretio vulgatum, virorum dignitate,
fide, ingenio, artis nostræ peritiâ illustrium examini subjecerent,
neque aliam viam ad præmium reportandum aperiri voluerint, quam quæ,
veris licèt rerum inventoribus facilis & munita, jactatoribus tamen &
falsiloquis esset impervia.[28]_” ... In the mean while, I cannot but
complain of it as a thing unexpected, and greatly inconsistent with
your usual candour, that YOU, who are so courteous and humane to all
mankind, and so remarkably the patron of those who excel in the
profession of physic, or indeed in any branch of learning, should so
severely reproach the favourers of this lithontriptic medicine; and
not rather have commended them, for submitting a secret, communicated
to them without fee or reward, to the examination of some worthy
physicians, eminent for integrity, ingenuity, and learning: and for
endeavouring to excite the munificence of the publick in such a manner
only, as to render it accessible to the true authors of an important
discovery, but impervious to boasting impostors.

    [25] Monita & præcepta, p. 62, and _Stack_’s translation of
    the same, p. 69.

    [26] Our author’s disapprobation of this medicine and its
    favourers, is no less severely express in his treatise
    concerning the _influence of the sun and moon upon human
    bodies_, p. 100.

    [27] Monita, &c. medica, and _Stack_’s translation, p. 174
    and 197.

    [28] Ad virum clarissimum _Ric. Mead_, M.D. Epistolæ, varias
    lithontripticum, _Joannæ Stephens_ exhibendi methodos
    indicans. Auctore _Davide Hartley_, A.M. p. 3.

In enumerating the obligations the republic of letters is under to Dr.
_Mead_, it would be injustice to omit taking notice, that to his
generosity and public spirit, it is farther indebted for the first
complete edition of the celebrated history of _Thuanus_.[29]

    [29] Published in seven volumes folio 1733, by _Samuel
    Buckley_, under the sanction of an act of parliament.

To enlarge upon his literary collections, and other curiosities, would
at present be useless, seeing the world will soon be apprized of
their value and contents from the catalogues that are already, and are
yet about to be published of them; it may therefore suffice to say,
that he did not shew more assiduity and judgment in collecting them,
than he did candour and generosity in permitting the use of them to
all that were competent judges, or that could benefit themselves, or
the public by them.

It may, perhaps not unjustly, be said no Subject in _Europe_ had a
cabinet so richly and so judiciously filled; to which the
correspondence he maintained with the learned in all parts of
_Europe_, not a little contributed; nor can there be an higher
instance given of his reputation in this respect, than in the king of
_Naples_ having sent him the two first volumes of M. _Bajurdi_’s
account of the antiquities found in _Herculaneum_, with the
additional compliment of asking in return, _only_, a compleat
collection of our author’s works, to which was adjoined, an invitation
to visit that newly discovered subterraneous city: an invitation that
could not but be greatly pleasing to a genius so inquisitive after
knowledge, and which he declared, he should very gladly have embraced,
had not his advanced years been an insuperable impediment, to the
gratification of his curiosity. In short, his character abroad was so
well known and established, that a foreigner of any taste, would have
thought it a reproach to him, to have been in _England_ without seeing
Dr. _Mead_.

As his knowledge was not limited only to his profession, the deserving
in all sciences had not only free access to him, but always found a
welcome reception, and at his table might daily be seen together the
naturalist, the antiquarian, the mathematician, and the mechanic, with
all whom he was capable of conversing in their respective terms; here
might be seen united the magnificence of a prince, with the pleasures
of the wise.

His munificence was conspicuous in that there was no remarkable
publick charity to which he was not a benefactor, particularly he was
one of the earliest promoters of, and subscribers to the _Foundling

Let these specimens of his superior abilities and merit suffice for
the present, nor let envy or detraction attempt to sully so exalted a
character.--Soon after the publication of his _monita & præcepta
medica_, this ornament of his profession, and delight of his
acquaintance, grew more and more sensible of the natural infirmities
attending his length of years; and with the utmost tranquillity and
resignation, quietly sunk into the arms of death on the 16th of
_February_ 1754. To whom may, with the greatest propriety, be applied
a part of the epitaph inscribed to the memory of the celebrated
_Guicciardini_, at _Florence_;

    _Cujus_ Otium _an_ Negotium
      _Gloriosius incertum:_
    _Nisi_ Otii _Lumen_ Negotii _Famam_
      _Clariorem reddidisset_.

The END.


My declining years having in a great measure released me from those
medical fatigues, in which, for the publick good, (at least as I hope)
I have been employed about fifty years, I have determined to pass the
short remains of life in such a sort of leisure, as may prove neither
disagreeable to myself, nor useless to others. For good men are of
opinion, that we must give an account even of our idle hours, and
therefore thought it necessary, that they should be always well-spent.

Having from my earliest childhood entertained a strong passion for
learning, after I had chosen the art of medicine for my profession, I
still never intermitted my literary studies; to which I had recourse
from time to time, as to refreshments strengthening me in my daily
labours, and charming my cares. Thus, among other subjects, I
frequently read the holy scriptures, as becomes a christian; and next
to those things which regard eternal life, and the doctrine of
morality, I usually gave particular attention to the histories of
diseases, and the various ailments therein recorded; comparing those
with what I had learnt either from medical writers or my own
experience. And this I did the more willingly, because I had remarked
that divines, thro’ an unacquaintance with medicinal knowledge,
frequently differed widely in their sentiments; especially on the
subject of dæmoniacs cured by the power of our saviour Jesus Christ.
For it is the opinion of many, that these were really possessed with
devils, and that his divine virtue shone forth in nothing more
conspicuous than in expelling them. I am very far from having the
least intention to undermine the foundations of the christian
doctrine, or to endeavour, by a perverse interpretation of the sacred
oracles, to despoil the Son of God of his divinity, which he has
demonstrated by so many and great works performed contrary to the
laws of nature. Truth stands no more in need of the patronage of
error, than does a natural good complexion of paint. And it is
certain, that the opinion which has been prevalent for many ages, of
the power granted to devils, of torturing human bodies and minds, has
been several ways made subservient to the subtle designs of crafty
men, to the very great detriment and shame of the christian religion.

What sensible man can avoid justly deriding those solemn ceremonies,
practised by the roman priests, in exorcising, as they are fond of
terming it, dæmoniacs: while proper persons (hired and) taught to
counterfeit certain gestures and fits of fury, such as are believed to
be caused by evil spirits, pretend that they are freed from devils,
and restored to their senses by holy water, and certain prayers, as by
inchantment. But these juggling tricks, how grosly soever they may
impose on the eyes and minds of the ignorant multitude, not only
scandalize, but also do a real injury to, men of greater penetration.
For such, seeing into the cheat, often rush headlong into impiety;
and viewing all sacred things in the same light, after they have

     _Relligionibus atque minis obsistere vatum:_[30]

    [30] _Lucret. Lib. i. ver. 110._

they advance farther, and by an abominable effort, endeavour
thoroughly to root out of their minds all sense and fear of the
supreme deity. In which proceeding they act as if a person doubted of
the existence of the _Indies_, because travellers relate many
falshoods and fictions concerning them. Hence it comes to pass, that,
in countries too much given up to superstition, very many atheists are
to be met with even among the learned, whom their learning and
knowledge ought to secure from these errors. Therefore to be free from
this folly, is the principal part of wisdom; next to which, is not to
corrupt truth with fictitious opinions.

And indeed it is frequently to me a matter of wonder, why our
spiritual guides so strenuously insist on exhibiting devils on the
stage, in order to make the divinity of Christ triumph over these
infernal enemies. Is Christ’s divine power less manifested by the cure
of the most grievous diseases, performed in an instant at his command;
than by the expulsion of evil spirits out of the bodies of men?
Certainly all the wonderful things done by him for the good of
mankind, such as restoring sight to the blind, firmness and
flexibility to relaxed or contracted nerves, calling the dead to life,
changing the properties of the elements, and others of the same kind,
are testimonies of the omnipotence of the creator of the world, and
demonstrate the presence of God; who alone commands all nature, and
at his pleasure changes and inverts the order of things established by
himself. Wherefore it cannot be doubted, that He, who has perform’d
these things, had the devils subject to him, that they might not
obstruct his gracious resolution of revealing the will of his father
to men, and correcting their depraved morals.

But to resume the subject of dæmoniacs, the opinion, which I propose
in this treatise, is not purely my own, but also of several other
persons, before me, eminent for piety and learning. And indeed among
our own countrymen, it was in the last century defended in an
excellent dissertation, by that treasure of sacred knowledge, the
reverend _Joseph Mead_. Wherefore as I have the honour to be of the
same family with him, and am the son of _Matthew Mead_, a very able
divine, I always thought I might lay some claim to these studies, by a
kind of hereditary right.

I am not insensible of the difficulty of removing vulgar errors,
especially those which relate to religion. For every body knows the
power of education, in imprinting on the mind notions, which are hard
to be effaced even in adult age. Children in the dark, fear ghosts and
hobgoblins; and hence often quake with the same fear through the whole
course of their lives. Why then do we admire, if we can hardly
unlearn, and clear our minds of, some false notions, even when we are
advancing to old age? Nor will this be deemed indeed a matter of
little importance by him, who considers the serious evils, into which
mankind are often led, by things that to some may appear trifling, as
being nothing more than bugbears of children and women. My soul is
seized with horror on recollecting, how many millions of innocent
persons have been condemned to the flames in various nations, since
the birth of Christ, upon the bare suspicion of witchcraft: while the
very judges were perhaps either blinded by vain prejudices, or dreaded
the incensed populace, if they acquitted those, whom the mob had
previously adjudged guilty. Who would believe that any man in his
right senses could boast, as a matter of merit, that he had capitally
condemned about nine hundred persons for witchcraft, in the space of
fifteen years, in the sole dutchy of _Lorraine_?[31] And yet from many
histories, which he relates of those who suffered, it manifestly
appears, that every individual of these criminals, had no compacts
with devils, as they themselves imagined, but were really mad, so as
openly to confess that they had done such feats as are impossible in
the nature of things. But so it happens, that error generally begets
superstition, and superstition cruelty. Wherefore I most heartily
rejoice, that I have lived to see all our laws relating to witchcraft
entirely abolished: whereas foreign states still retain this barbarous
cruelty, and with various degrees of obstinacy in proportion to their
ignorance of natural causes. And it is but too true, that the doctrine
of dæmons is so understood by the vulgar, as if the devil was to be
esteemed a sort of deity; or at least, that, laying the fear of him
aside, no divine worship can well subsist; altho’ the apostle has
expresly said; _For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that
he might destroy the works of the devil_.[32]

    [31] See _Nic. Remigii Dæmonolatreia_.

    [32] _John. Ep. i. Chap. iii. ver. 8._

And here it may not be improper, once for all, to inform the reader,
that I have generally made use of _Sebastian Castalio_’s version of
the bible, because, upon collating it in many places, I found it to be
not only excellent Latin, but also very accurate, and particularly
well adapted to the sense and meaning of the words in the Hebrew and

Nor can I refrain from declaring, that I have not writ these essays
for the profane or vulgar; but for those only who are well versed, or
at least initiated in theological or medical studies: and for this
reason I chose to publish it in Latin; which language has for many
ages past been made use of by learned men; in order to communicate to
each other, whatsoever might seem to them either new, or expressed in
a different manner from the common notions. Wherefore if any person
should intend to publish an English version of this book, I give him
this timely notice, that he will do it, not only against my will; but
likewise in direct opposition to that equitable law, whereby every
man is allowed to dispose of his own property according to his

    [33] This declaration seems to have been intended only to
    prevent any surreptitious translation of this performance
    from appearing, seeing most of the works of our learned
    author have heretofore been greatly disgraced by attempts of
    that kind. Nevertheless the public may be assured, that Dr.
    _Mead_ not only approved, but inspected what is now offered
    to them.

But to bring this preface to a conclusion; it is manifest that the
christian religion requires of all its members in a most especial
manner, to practice every act of humanity and benevolence towards each
other. Wherefore the utmost care ought to be taken, that this
beneficent disposition of mind be not corrupted by any means
whatsoever: and nothing contributes more towards bringing on this
corruption, than opinions derogatory from the divine goodness. Upon
this account, as such is the misfortune of our times, that it is not
only allowed, but even by many deemed a commendable action, to oppugn,
and by every method to invalidate, the doctrine and authority of the
christian religion; no interpretations of the histories of miracles
ought to be look’d upon as out of season, provided they appear
neither improbable, nor repugnant to the nature of the facts related.

In fine, it was not my intention to treat of every disease mentioned
in holy writ; but to confine myself more particularly to those, the
nature of which is generally but little known, or at least to such as
I had some peculiar medicine for, or method of cure, to offer to the
public; and to perform this task, in the same order, in which they
occur in those sacred writings: excepting only _Job_’s disease, to
which I have given the first place, on account of the great antiquity
of that book. The Saviour of the world, in order to make his divine
power manifest to mankind, cured many other diseases, both of the body
and mind, besides those which I have mentioned in this work: the
nature and causes of all which diseases, whosoever would intend to
enquire into, must of necessity compile a body of physic, which was
not my present design. But if providence protract my life, I am not
without hopes of laying more of my thoughts on this subject before the
public, for the honour which I bear to my profession, unless

     _Frigidus obstiterit circum præcordia sanguis._

In the mean time, whatever be the fate of these essays with my
readers, I shall rest satisfied from a consciousness of the rectitude
of my intention, in having thus employ’d some of my hours of leisure.

A COMMENTARY ON THE DISEASES Mentioned in Scripture.


_The Disease of Job._

Job’s disease is rendered remarkable by some uncommon circumstances
and consequences; such as the dignity of the man, the sudden change of
his condition, his extraordinary adversity, his incredible patience
under them, his restoration to a much happier state than he had ever
before enjoyed, and lastly the singular nature of the illness with
which he was seized.

His habitation was in the land of _Uz_, which, according to the
learned _Friderick Spanheim_,[34] was situated in the northern part of
_Arabia deserta_, towards the _Euphrates_ and _Mesopotamia_. He was a
very illustrious man, the most opulent of all the Orientals, very
happy in sons and daughters, of a most upright life and exemplary
piety. Now it is related that God, in order to try his integrity and
constancy, permitted Satan to afflict him by all means which he could
devise, except the taking away of his life. “In pursuance of this
permission, Satan brought the most dreadful calamities on him; for all
his oxen and asses were driven away by the Sabeans; his sheep and
servants were consumed by fire from heaven; his camels were carried
off; his sons and daughters were crush’d to death by the falling in of
the house upon them in a violent storm of wind; and soon after he
himself was afflicted with scabs and foul ulcers all over his body; so
that he sate down among the ashes, and scraped himself with a
potsherd.” Thus from a very rich man he became extremely poor, and
from the heighth of prosperity he sunk into the depth of misery. And
yet all these evils did not give the least shock to his firmness of
mind, nor to his piety towards God:[35] wherefore the Lord, moved by
his prayers, put an end to all his calamities; gave him twice as much
wealth as he had lost, and made him more prosperous than he had ever
been before.[36]

    [34] _Histor. Jobi, Cap. iv._

    [35] _See Job Chap. i and ii._

    [36] _The same, Chap. xiii._

Now the book of Job may justly be esteemed the most ancient of all
books, of which we have any certain account: for some are of opinion
that it was written in the times of the patriarchs; many others, that
it was composed about the days of Moses, and even by Moses himself;
and there are but few who think it posterior to him.[37] For my part,
I embrace the learned Lightfoot’s opinion, that it was composed by
Elihu, one of Job’s companions, chiefly because he therein speaks of
himself as of the writer of this history,[38] and if so, it will
appear to be older than the days of Moses. However this be, it is most
certain that this book carries with it manifest tokens of very great
antiquity; the most material of which seem to be these. In it there is
not the least mention made of the departure of the Israelites out of
Egypt, of Moses, or the Mosaic Law. After the manner of the
Patriarchs, Job, as the head of his family, offered sacrifices in his
own private house, for the sins of his children.[39] When he declares
his integrity he scarcely mentions any other Idolatry, but that most
ancient one, the worship of the sun and moon,[40] which we know to be
very old, and to have first obtained among the neighbouring Chaldeans,
and Phœnicians. In fine his own age, protracted far beyond the life of
man in Moses’s time, is a proof of its antiquity, for he lived a
hundred and forty years after an end had been put to his calamities;
so that it is reasonable to believe that he lived above two hundred
years in all. For that he was aged, when his misfortunes crowded on
him, may be hence inferred, that, altho’ his three friends are stiled
old men,[41] yet in his disputes with them, he does not seem to honour
them for their age, as Elihu does. To avoid prolixity, I join with
Spanheim in opinion, that Job’s time coincides with the bondage of the
children of Israel in Egypt, so as to be neither posterior to their
quitting that country, nor anterior to their entering it.

    [37] _See Spanheim’s learned dissertation on this subject in
    the book above quoted, Chap. viii. and ix._

    [38] _His Works, tom. 1. page 24._

    [39] _Job, Chap. i. v. 5._

    [40] _The same, Chap. xxxi. v. 26, 27._

    [41] _Job Chap. xxxii. v. 6._

But there subsists a dispute of a different nature between very grave
authors, and that is, whether this narrative be a fable or a true
history: If I were allowed to interpose my opinion, I would say, that
it is not a parable invented by ὑποτύπωσις, but a dramatic poem
composed upon a true history; and perhaps with this design, that from
the example of this illustrious and upright, yet afflicted and most
miserable man, the people of Israel might learn to bear with patience,
all those evils and hardships, which they were daily suffering in
their Egyptian captivity. That this book is metrical, as well as
_David_’s _Psalms_, the _Proverbs_, _Ecclesiastes_, and _Solomon_’s
_Song_, is generally allowed: and the persons of the drama are God,
Satan, Job and his wife, his three friends, and Elihu. _Wherefore it
is_, says Grotius, _a real fact, but poetically handled_.[42] Poetry
was certainly a very ancient manner of writing, and poets were wont to
embellish true histories in their own way, as we see in the most
ancient among the Greeks and Romans. And among the Hebrews likewise,
long after the time above-mentioned, Ezechiel comprised the history of
the departure out of Egypt in a dramatic poem; upon which account he
is called by Clemens Alexandrinus, _the poet of Judaic tragedies_.[43]
Nor indeed, in my opinion, can there be found, in this kind of
writing, any thing more admirable, and better adapted to move the
passions than this piece; whether we regard the sublimity and elegance
of style, the description of natural things, or in fine, the propriety
of the characters ascribed to all the persons concerned in it; all
which circumstances are of the greatest moment in a dramatic

    [42] _Est ergo res vere gesta, sed poeticè tractata. In

    [43] Ὁ τῶν Ἰȣδαἱκῶν τραγωδιῶν ποιητἡς. _Stromat. book 1. p.
    414 of the Oxford Edit. 1715._

                    ... _Quo propius stes
    Te capiet magis._

                The nearer you behold,
    The more it strikes you.

Before I close this chapter, it may not be improper to offer my
conjecture concerning the disease of this illustrious man. But
previous to this, it is proper to remark, that it is not Job himself,
or his friends, but the author of the book that attributes his
calamities to Satan; for this author’s intention seems to be, to shew,
by a striking example, that the world is governed by the providence of
Almighty God, and as the holy angels, whose ministry God makes use of
in distributing his bountiful gifts, punctually execute all his
commands; so Satan himself with his agents are under the power of God,
and cannot inflict any evils on mankind without the divine permission.
Thus, _when the Sons of God_ (angels) _came and presented themselves
before the Lord_, it is said that _Satan came also among them_. Now
the word _astare_ to present one’s self, as Moses Maimonides[44]
observes, signifies to be prepared to receive Jehovah’s commands, but
Satan came of his own accord and mixed with them without any summons.

    [44] _More Nevochim, Part. iii. Chap. xxii._

Now as to the disease, it is plain that it was cuticular, and as it is
certain that the bodies of the Hebrews were very liable to foul ulcers
of the skin from time immemorial; upon which account it is, that
learned men are of opinion that they were forbid the eating of swine’s
flesh (which, as it affords a gross nourishment, and not easily
perspirable, is very improper food in such constitutions) wherefore by
how much hotter the countries were which they inhabited, such as are
the desarts of Arabia, the more severely these disorders raged. And
authors of other nations, who despised and envied the Jews, say that
it was upon this account that they were driven out of Egypt; lest the
leprosy, a disease common among them, should spread over the
country.[45] But there is another much worse disease, so frequent in
Egypt, that it is said to be endemial there,[46] though it may also be
engendered in this hot country, I mean the Elephantiasis. Perhaps it
was this, which is nearly of the same nature with the leprosy, that
had affected the body of our righteous man: but on this subject we
shall treat more largely in the subsequent chapter.

    [45] _Justin. Hist. Lib. xxxvi, C. 2. & Tacit. Hist. Lib. v.
    ab initio._

    [46] _Lucret. Lib. vi. v. 1112._

    _Est Elephas morbus, qui propter flumina Nisi._
    _Gignitur Aegypto in media._


_The Leprosy._

A most severe disease, to which the bodies of the Jews were very
subject, was the Leprosy. Its signs recorded in the holy scriptures
are chiefly these. Pimples arose in the skin; the hair was turned
white; the plague (or sore) in sight was deeper than the skin, when
the disease had been of long standing; a white tumour appeared in the
skin, in which there was quick flesh; the foul eruptions gained ground
daily, and at length covered the whole surface of the body. And the
evil is said to infect, not only the human body, but also the cloaths
and garments, nay (what may seem strange) utensils made of skins or
furs, and even the very walls of the houses. Wherefore there are
precepts laid down for cleansing these also, as well as the lepers.

Medical authors are of different opinions concerning the contagion of
this disease. And whereas neither the Arabian nor Greek physicians,
who have treated largely of the leprosy, have given the least hint of
this extraordinary force of it, whereby it may infect cloaths and
walls of houses; the Rabbin doctors dispute, whether that which seized
the Jews, was not intirely different from the common leprosy; and they
all affirm, that _there never appeared in the World, a leprosy of
cloaths and houses, except only in Judea, and among the sole people of

For my part, I shall now freely propose, what I think most probable on
the subject. One kind of contagion is more subtile than another; for
there is a sort, which is taken into the body by the very breath; such
as I have elsewhere said to exist in the plague, small pox, and other
malignant fevers. But there is another sort, which infects by contact
alone; either internal, as the venom of the venereal disease; or
external, as that of the itch, which is conveyed into the body by
rubbing against cloaths, whether woollen or linnen. Wherefore the
leprosy, which is a species of the itch, may pass into a sound man in
this last manner; perhaps also by cohabitation; as Fracastorius has
observed, that _a consumption is contagious, and is contracted by
living with a phthisical person, by the gliding of the corrupted and
putrefied juices_ of the sick _into the lungs of the sound man_.[47]
And _Aretæus_ is of the same opinion with regard to the Elephantiasis,
a disease nearly allied to the Leprosy: for he gives this caution,
“That it is not less dangerous to converse and live with persons
affected with this distemper, than with those infected with the
plague; because the contagion is communicated by the inspired[48]

    [47] _De morbis contagiosis. Lib. ii. Cap. ix._

    [48] _De causis diuturnorum morborum, et de curationibus
    eorundem, Lib. ii. Cap. xiii._

But here occurs a considerable difficulty. For Moses says, “If in the
leprosy there be observed a white tumour in the skin, and it have
turned the hair white in it, and there be quick flesh within the
tumour; it is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh. But if the
leprosy spread broad in the skin, and cover the whole skin of the
diseased from his head even to his feet, the person shall be
pronounced[49] clean.” But the difficulty contained in this passage
will vanish, if we suppose, as it manifestly appears to me, that it
points out two different species of the disease; the one in which the
eroded skin was ulcerated, so that the quick flesh appeared
underneath; the other, which spread on the surface of the skin only in
the form of rough scales. And from this difference it happened, that
the former species was, and the latter was not, contagious. For these
scales, being dry and light like bran, do not penetrate into the skin;
whereas the purulent matter issuing from the ulcers infects the
surface of the body. But concerning the differences of cuticular
diseases, I heartily recommend to the reader’s perusal, what Johannes
Manardus, equally valuable for his medical knowledge and the purity of
his Latin, has written upon the subject.[50]

    [49] _Levit. Chap. xiii. v. 10 &c._

    [50] _Epist. Medicinal. Lib. vii. Epist. ii._

There is no time, in which this disease was not known; but it was
always more severe in Syria and Egypt, as they are hotter countries,
than in Greece and other parts of Europe; and it is even at this day
frequent in those regions. For I have been assured by travellers, that
there are two hospitals for the leprous alone in Damascus. And there
is a fountain at Edessa, in which great numbers of people affected
with this cuticular foulness wash daily, as was the ancient custom.

Moreover we read the principal signs, which occur in the description
of the Mosaic leprosy, excepting only the infection of the cloaths and
houses (of which by and by) recorded by the Greek Physicians.
Hippocrates himself calls the λεὑκη or white leprosy Φοινικἱη νȣσος
the Phœnician disease.[51] For that the word φϑινικὴ ought to be read
Φοινικἱη, appears manifestly from Galen in his _Explicatio linguarum
Hippocratis_; where he says that Φοινικἱη νȣσος is a disease which is
_frequent in Phœnicia and other eastern regions_.[52] In the foregoing
chapter I said that the Leprosy (Leuce) and the Elephantiasis, were
diseases of great affinity:[53] in confirmation of which notion the
same Galen observes, that the one sometimes changes into the
other.[54] Now these two distempers are no where better described than
by Celsus, who lived about the time of Augustus Cæsar, and having
collected the works of the principal Greek writers in physic and
surgery, digested them into order, and turned them into elegant Latin
with great judgment. Thus he describes the leprous diseases. _Three
are three species of the_ Vitiligo. _It is named_ ἄλφος, _when it is
of a white colour, with some degree of roughness, and is not
continuous, but appears as if some little drops were dispersed here
and there; sometimes it spreads wider, but with certain intermissions
or discontinuities. The_ μἑλας _differs from this in colour, because
it is black, and like a shadow, but in other circumstances they agree.
The_ λεύκη _has some similitude with the_ ἄλφος, _but it has more of
the white, and runs in deeper: and in it the hairs are white, and like
down. All these spread themselves, but in some persons quicker, in
others slower. The_ Alphos _and_ Melas _come on, and go off some
people at different times; but the_ Leuce _does not easily quit the
patient, whom it has seized.[55] But in the Elephantiasis_, says the
same author, _the whole body is so affected, that the very bones may
be said to be injured. The surface of the body has a number of spots
and tumors on it; and their redness is by degrees changed into a dusky
or blackish colour. The surface of the skin is unequally thick and
thin, hard and soft; and is scaley and rough: the body is emaciated;
the mouth, legs and feet swell. When the disease is inveterate, the
nails on the fingers and toes are hidden by the swelling._[56] And the
accounts left us by the Arabian physicians, agree with these
descriptions. Avicenna, the chief of them, says that _the Leprosy is a
sort of universal cancer of the whole body_.[57] Wherefore it plainly
appears from all that has been said, that the Syrian Leprosy did not
differ in nature, but in degree only, from the Grecian, which was
there called λεύκη; and that this same disease had an affinity with
the Elephantiasis, sometimes among the Greeks, but very much among the
Arabs. For the climate and manner of living, very much aggravates all
cuticular diseases.

    [51] _Prorrhetic. Lib. ii. sub finem._

    [52] Ἡ κατὰ Φοινἱκην, κι κατὰ τὰ ἄλλα ἀνατολικὰ μἑρη πλεονὰζȣσα.

    [53] _Pag. 15._

    [54] _De simpl. medicam. facult. Lib. xi._

    [55] _De medicina, Lib. v. Cap. xxviii. §. 19._

    [56] _Lib. iii. Cap. xxv._

    [57] _Canon, Lib. iv. Fen. 3. Tract. 3. Cap. i._

Now with regard to the infection of the cloaths, it has been found by
most certain experiments, not only in the plague, and some other
malignant eruptive fevers, as the small pox and measles, but even in
the common itch; that the infection, once received into all sorts of
furs or skins, woollen, linnen, and silk, remains a long time in them,
and thence passes into human bodies. Wherefore it is easy to conceive,
that the leprous miasmata might pass from such materials into the
bodies of those, who either wore or handled them, and, like seeds
sown, produce the disease peculiar to them. For it is well known,
that the surface of the body, let it appear ever so soft and smooth,
is not only full of pores, but also of little furrows, and therefore
is a proper nest for receiving and cherishing the minute, but very
active, particles exhaling from infected bodies. But I have treated
this subject in a more extensive manner in my _Discourse on the
Plague_.[58] And these seeds of contagion are soon mixed with an acrid
and salt humor, derived from the blood; which as it naturally ought,
partly to have turned into nutriment, and partly to have perspired
through the skin, it now lodges, and corrodes the little scales of the
cuticle; and these becoming dry and white, sometimes even as white as
snow, are separated from the skin, and fall off like bran. Now, altho’
this disease is very uncommon in our colder climate; yet I have seen
one remarkable case of it, in a countryman, whose whole body was so
miserably seized by it, that his skin was shining as if covered with
snow: and as the furfuraceous scales were daily rubbed off, the flesh
appeared quick or raw underneath. This wretch had constantly lived in
a swampy place, and was obliged to support himself with bad diet and
foul water.

    [58] _Chap. i._

But it is much more difficult to account for the infection of the
houses. For it seems hardly possible in nature, that the leprous spots
should grow and spread on dry walls, made of solid materials. But upon
a serious consideration of the different substances employed in
building the walls of houses, such as stones, lime, bituminous earth,
hair of animals, and other such things mix’d together; I thought it
probable, that they may by a kind of fermentation, produce those
_hollow greenish or reddish strokes in sight lower than the wall_ (or
within the surface)[59] which, as they in some measure resembled the
leprous scabs on the human body, were named the _Leprosy in a house_.
For bodies of different natures, very easily effervesce upon being
blended together. Wherefore we may reasonably suppose that this
moisture or mouldiness, gradually coming forth and spreading on the
walls, might prove very prejudicial to the inhabitants, by its
stinking and unwholesome smell, without having recourse to any
contagious quality in it. And somewhat analogous to this is pretty
frequently observable in our own houses; where, when the walls are
plaistered with bad mortar, the calcarious and nitrose salts sweat out
upon their surface, of a colour almost as white as snow. The power of
inspecting their houses was invested in the priests; who, when they
observed this foulness, gave orders first to have the walls of the
house scraped all around; and afterwards, if it continued to break
out, to pull down the house, and carry the materials out of the city
into an unclean place.

    [59] _Levit. Chap. xiv. v. 37._

I am well aware, that all this is related, as if God himself had
struck the house with this plague. But it is well known, that that way
of speaking is not uncommon in the jewish history; as in unexpected
evils and dreadful calamities, which are sometimes said to be done by
the hand of God, tho’ they may be produced by natural causes. Nor can
I be easily induced to believe, with some divines, that God, who
commanded his people to be always free from every sort of
uncleanness, would vouchsafe to work a miracle, in order to inflict
this most filthy punishment on any person. Thus much is indubitable,
that the precepts of the mosaic law were constituted particularly, to
avert the people from idolatry and false religion, and at the same
time to keep them clear of all uncleanness.[60] To this end conspired
the prohibition of eating blood, carrion, or animals that died
spontaneously, swines flesh, and that of several other creatures.[61]
For all these meats yield a gross nutriment, which is improper and
prejudicial in diseases of the skin.

    [60] _Mos. Maimonid. More Navochim, Part. iii. Cap. xxxiii.
    et xlviii._

    [61] _Levit. Chap. xi. et xvii._

But in order to close these theological researches with somewhat
medical, I am convinced from experience, that there is not a better
medicine known against this filthy disease, than the _tincture of
Cantharides_ of the _London Dispensatory_. Its remarkable virtue in
this case, is owing to the diuretic quality of these flies. For there
is a great harmony between the kidneys and glands of the skin, so that
the humors brought on the latter, easily find a way thro’ the former,
and are carried off by urine: and on the other hand, when the kidneys
have failed in the performance of their functions, an urinous humor
sometimes perspires thro’ the cuticular pores. But such cathartics are
to be interposed at proper intervals, as are most proper for
evacuating thick and acrid humors.


_The disease of king Saul._

When “King Saul was abandoned by the Spirit of God, and an evil spirit
from the Lord troubled him; his courtiers persuaded him to command his
servants to seek out somebody that was a good player on the harp, who
might sooth or compose him by his music, when the evil spirit from God
was upon him.” Which when Saul had done, by sending messengers for
David; “whenever it happened that Saul was seized with that evil
spirit, David took his harp, and play’d on it; and thus Saul was
refreshed and became composed, and the evil spirit departed from[62]

    [62] _See Samuel, or Kings, Book i. Chap. xvi._

Now to me it appears manifest, that this king’s disease was a true
madness, and of the melancholic or atrabilarious kind, as the ancient
physicians called it. And the fits return’d on him at uncertain
periods, as is frequently the case in this sort of disease. Nor could
the cause of that disorder be a secret, seeing he had been lately
deprived of his kingdom by God’s express command. Likewise the remedy
applied, to wit, playing on the harp, was an extremely proper one. For
physicians have long since taught us, that symphonies, cymbals, and
noises, were of service towards dissipating melancholic thoughts;[63]
the power of which we have accounted for in another place upon
geometrical principles.[64] Hence also it more plainly appears, that
the disorder was owing to natural causes; for otherwise how could the
music of a harp drive it away? Counsel and prudence in a man was, in
the Hebrew language, usually stiled the Spirit of God; and a person
deprived of these qualities, was said to be troubled with an evil
spirit, that is, to be mad.

    [63] _See Cels. Lib. iii. Cap. xviii._

    [64] _Mechanical Account of Poisons, Essay ii. Ed. 4._

I am not ignorant that the Jews, by a manner of expression familiar
among them, are wont to describe diseases of this kind, to the power
of evil angels, as ministers of God; and that even at this day, some
very learned men defend the same notion. But for my part, if I may be
allowed to declare my thoughts with freedom, I cannot think it right
to have recourse to the divine wrath for diseases, which can be
proved to have natural causes; unless it be expresly declared, that
they were sent down directly from heaven. For if they fall on us in
punishment of our sins, the intention of the supreme lawgiver would be
frustrated, unless a sure rule was given, whereby his vengeance might
be distinguished from common events; in as much as the innocent may be
equal sharers in such calamities with the guilty. Moreover, it seems
reasonable to believe, that evils inflicted by the omnipotent judge,
must be either incurable, or curable by himself alone; that the
connection of his power with his equity, may the more brightly shine
forth. By such a criterion, are miraculous works distinguished from
the operations of nature. For it would be impiety to suppose, that the
almighty creator of heaven and earth intended, that his works should
be performed in vain. Wherefore it is worthy of our observation, that
great care is always taken in the sacred histories, to make the divine
power in such cases, appear most manifest to all. Thus when the Lord
had infected Miriam (or Mary) with a leprosy, for a sin committed by
her, and consented, on the supplication of Moses, to make her whole;
it was not done till seven days afterward.[65] Gehazi’s leprosy
remained in him and his progeny for ever.[66] King Azariah was smote
with the leprosy, for not having demolished the high places; and he
was a leper unto the day of his death.[67] Ananias and his wise were
struck dead suddenly by the miraculous power of St. Peter.[68] Elymas
the sorcerer, was struck blind for a season by St. _Paul_, for his
frauds and wickedness.[69] Therefore since threats and plain
indications of diseases, inflicted in an uncommon manner, are always
manifestly declared; whensoever these are wanting, why may we not say,
that the event was by no means supernatural? And I desire, once for
all, that this sentiment may hold good with regard to several other

    [65] _Numbers, Chap. xii. Verse 14._

    [66] _Kings, Book ii. (al. iv.) Chap. v. Verse 27._

    [67] _The same, Chap. xv. Verse 5._

    [68] _Acts, Chap. v._

    [69] _The same, Chap. xiii. Verse 11._


_The disease of king Jehoram._

Of king Jehoram it is related, that, “for his wicked life, the Lord
smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease, so that he voided
his intestines daily for the space of two years, and then died of the
violence of the[70] distemper.” Two impious kings are recorded to have
had the same end, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Agrippa; of whom it was
said: Εἰς τἱ τὰ σπλάγχνα τοις ȣ σπλαγχνιζομένοις.[71]

    [70] _Chronicles, Book ii. Chap. xxi. Verse 18._

    [71] _See the Notes of Grotius on this Place._

     Of what avail are bowels to those
     who have no bowels?

Now this distemper seems to me to be no other than a severe
dysentery. For in this the intestines are ulcerated, and blood flows
from the eroded vessels, together with some excrement, which is always
liquid, and slimy matter; and sometimes also some fleshy strings come
away, so that the very intestines may seem to be ejected.


_The disease of king Hezekiah._

“When Hezekiah lay sick of a mortal disease, and the prophet Isaiah
went and declared to him, by God’s express command, that he should die
and not recover; the Lord moved by his prayer, commanded Isaiah to
return, and tell him, that he would cure him in three days. Whereupon
Isaiah ordered a _mass of figs_ to be taken, and laid it on the boil;
whereby he recovered[72].”

    [72] _2 Kings, Chap. xx._

Now to me it seems extremely probable, that this king’s disease was a
fever, which terminated in an abscess: For in cases of this kind,
those things are always proper, which promote suppuration; especially
digestive and resolving cataplasms; and dried figs are excellent for
this intention. Thus, the Omnipotent, who could remove this distemper
by his word alone, chose to do it by the effect of natural remedies.
And here we have an useful lesson given us in adversities, not to
neglect the use of those things, which the bountiful Creator has
bestowed on us, and at the same time to add our fervent prayers, that
he would be graciously pleased to prosper our endeavours.


_The disease of Old-age._

Old-age _itself is a disease_, as the poet has properly expressed
it[73]. Wherefore as I have frequently read with pleasure, the very
elegant description of it, given by Solomon the wisest of kings; I
think it will not be foreign to my design, to attempt an explanation
and illustration thereof. For it contains some things not easy to be
understood, because the eloquent preacher thought proper to express
all the circumstances allegorically. But first I will lay the
discourse itself before my readers, which runs thus.

    [73] _Terent. Phorm. Act. iv. Scen. i. v. 9._

“Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil times
come, and the years draw nigh, in which, thou shalt say, I find no
pleasure: before the sun, and the light, and the moon, and the stars
be darkened, and the clouds return after rain; when the keepers of the
house shall tremble, and the soldiers shall give way, and the
diminished grinders shall cease; and those that look out thro’ holes
shall be darkened; and the doors shall be shut outwardly, with a low
sound of the mill, and they shall rise up at the voice of the bird;
and all the daughters of music shall be of no avail; also when they
shall be afraid of high places, and stumblings in the way; and the
almond tree shall flower, and the _Cicadæ_ shall come together; and
the appetite shall be lost, man departing to his eternal habitation,
and the mourners going about in the street: before the silver chain
be broken asunder, and the golden ewer be dashed in pieces; and the
pitcher be broken at the fountain head; and the chariot be dashed in
pieces at the pit; and the dust return to the earth, such as it had
been; and the Spirit return to God, who gave it[74].”

    [74] _Ecclesiastes, Chap. xii. Verse 1-7. translated from
    Castalio’s latin version._

The recital of evils (and infirmities) begins from the aberrations of
the mind. _The sun_, says Solomon, _and the light, and the moon, and
the stars are darkened_. Perceptions of the mind are less lively in
old men; the ideas and images of things are confounded, and the memory
decays: whence the intellectual faculties must necessarily lose their
strength or power by degrees. Wisdom and understanding are frequently
called _light_ in the sacred scriptures;[75] and privation of reason,
_darkness_ and blindness.[76] Cicero likewise says very justly, that
_reason is as it were, the light and splendor of life_.[77] Hence God
is stiled the _father of lights_.[78] Thus the virtues of the mind
decaying, may be compared to the luminaries of the world overcast. I
am conscious that this exposition is contrary to that of a number of
learned interpreters, who take this _obscuration of the lights_ in the
genuine sense of the words, and think that the failing of the sight is
here to be understood. But I am surprized, how they happened not to
take notice, that every thing in this discourse, even to the most
minute circumstances, is expressed in words bearing a figurative
sense. For whereas, in describing the infirmities of Old-age, the
injuries of the operations of the mind, as the most grievous of all,
were not to be pretermitted; so these could not be more clearly
expressed, than by the obscuration of the cœlestial luminous bodies,
which rule our orb, and cause the vicissitudes of times and seasons.
Moreover it is particularly to be observed here, that the author
mentions the defects of sight lower down, and most certainly he would
have avoided repeating the same thing.

    [75] _Job, Chap. xviii. Verse 5, 6, 7._

    [76] _Matthew, Chap. vi. Verse 23. John, Ep. i. Chap. ii.
    Verse 11._

    [77] _Academ. iv. 8._

    [78] _James, Epist. Chap. i. Verse 17._

But he goes on, and adds, what well agrees with the foregoing
explanation. _The clouds return after rain._ That is, cares and
troubles crowd on each other, and daily oppress aged folks. As in
moist climates, and those liable to storms, even when the clouds seem
to be exhausted, others soon follow, and the rains become almost
perpetual. And these inconveniencies are felt the more sensibly, in
proportion to the debilitation of the powers of the mind, whereby they
are rendered less able now, than formerly, either to bear, or get the
better of their oppressions.

But from the mind our royal author now passes to the body. _The
keepers of the house_, says he, _shall tremble, and the soldiers shall
give way, and the diminished grinders shall cease_. The limbs, and
firmest parts of the body, are damaged by age: the hands and knees
grow weak, thro’ the relaxation of the nerves. Hence those are
rendered incapable of defending us against injuries, and of performing
innumerable other good offices, for which they were originally
intended; and these becoming unequal to the weight they were wont to
sustain, lose their active suppleness, and fail in bending. Likewise
the double teeth or grinders, either drop out, or rot away; so as now
to be too few remaining to comminute solid food. In the translation of
the Hebrew word, which I have here rendered by _double teeth_ or
_grinders_, I followed Arias Montanus, who, in my opinion, has
translated it right. For it is in this passage used by the author in
the plural number; who afterwards employs it in the singular, but in a
quite different sense, when he treats of the sense of tasting; as I
shall shew anon, when I come to that passage. For, that Solomon’s
intention in this place was, to describe those defects of the senses,
which generally steal on old-age, I have not the least doubt.

Wherefore now proceeding to them, he begins by the _sight_. _Those_,
says he, _that look thro’ holes shall be darkened_. By which words it
is manifest, that he points out the failing of the eyes, which most
people, far advanced in years, feel by sad experience.

Next follows the _taste_, which he thus describes: _The doors shall be
shut outwardly, with a low sound of the mill_. As old people, thro’
diminution of appetite, open their mouths seldomer than formerly; so
for want of teeth to comminute their food, they do it with less noise.
Now this last inconvenience seems to be meant and expressed very
elegantly by the words _a low sound of the mill_: for by the word
_mill_, which in the Hebrew is used in the singular number, the
grinding of the food may very well be meant; and this grinding, as it
is not done by the assistance of the teeth, which they have lost, but
by that of the gums, is performed with less noise.

Sleep is the sweet soother of our labours, and the restorer of our
exhausted strength. But the loss of appetite, and disgust to our food,
generally robs us of this comfort. Hence subjoining this evil of
old-age to the foregoing, he says: _he shall rise up at the voice of
the bird_; that is, the old man is awaked at the cock’s first crowing.
Wherefore his sleep is short and interrupted, tho’ his weakness would
require longer rest.

But he returns to the senses, among which he gives the third place to
_hearing_; for receiving the benefits of which the Creator gave us the
use of ears. Now this is frequently diminished, and sometimes entirely
taken away in old-age; which the royal author seems to indicate in
the following words: _The daughters of music shall be of no avail_.
For thus he thought proper to express the ears, to which at this time
of life, not only the pleasure of harmonious sounds is sought in vain;
but, what is much more disagreeable, the words in conversation are not
easily understood: whereby the enjoyment, and one of the greatest
conveniencies of life, are gradually lost. Hence in the jewish
history, Barzillai, at eighty years of age, complains that he could no
longer _hear the voice of the singing men and singing women_.[79]

    [79] _Samuel, (al. Kings) ii. Chap. xix. Verse 35._

These defects of the organs of hearing, are immediately followed by
those of the sense of feeling. Now _the touch_, as Cicero says, _is
uniformly spread over the whole body; that we may feel all strokes and
appulses of things_.[80] Wherefore this sense, besides its other
uses, contributes vastly to the safety of the body, and the removal of
many evils, to which it is perpetually exposed. And this the sagacious
author seems to have principally in view, when he says: _They shall be
afraid of high places, and stumblings in the way_. For as old folks
are unsure of foot, even in a plain smooth way, by reason of the
weakness of their limbs; so when they come to a rugged uneven road,
thro’ the dulness of this sense, they do not soon enough perceive the
depressions or elevations of the ground whereby they run the hazard of
stumbling and hurting their feet. Therefore they are not unjustly
represented as being _afraid_.

    [80] _Nat. Deor. ii. 56._

The only one that remains of the senses is that of smelling, the
diminution of which in old men, he describes with equal elegance and
brevity in this manner: _the almond tree shall flower_. By which words
he seems to mean, that old people, as if they lived in a perpetual
winter, no longer perceive the agreeable odors exhaling from plants
and flowers in the spring and summer seasons. That this tree flowers
in winter, we learn from Pliny, who in treating of it says: _The
almond tree flowers the first of all trees, in the month of
January_.[81] I am not to learn, that these words are by most
interpreters understood as relating to grey hairs, which being
generally a sure token of old age, they would have us believe, are
denoted by the white flowers of the almond tree. But then, who can
imagine, that this wise author, after having indicated the defects of
four of the senses, by clear and distinct marks, would designedly
pass over the fifth in silence? Besides, white hairs are by no means
to be esteemed a sure and indubitable token of old-age; since there
are not a few to be found, who turn gray in the middle stage of life,
before their bodily strength is any ways impaired. Moreover, what they
say of the flowers of the almond tree, does not seem to agree with the
things they mean by them: for they are not, strictly speaking, white,
but of a purplish cast. Thus far concerning the senses: let us proceed
to the remaining part.

    [81] _Lib. xvi. §. 42._

The scrotal rupture is a disease common to persons far advanced in
years; whether it be formed by the intestine or omentum slipping down
into the scrotum, or proceed from a humor distending that part. In
either case the part is tumefied. This pernicious disease the Preacher
thought proper to compare to a grasshopper. _The grasshopper_, says
he, _shall be a burthen, Oneri erit locusta_. For thus the Hebrew
phrase is more literally translated, than by _convenient cicadæ, the
cicadæ shall come together_, as the learned Castalio has rendered it.
Indeed the Vulgate version has _impinguabitur locusta_, _the
grasshopper shall be fatted_. The Septuagint Παχυνθῆ ἡ ἀχρίς.
 _The grasshopper shall be fatted._ The Arabic version, turned
into Latin, _pinguescet locusta_, _The grasshopper shall grow fat_.
But our English translation, _The grasshopper shall be a burden_. It
is well known, that the Hebrew language is always modest, and that the
sacred Writers, in expressing such things as belong to the genital
members, abstain from indecent and obscene words, for fear of
offending chaste ears, and therefore borrow similitudes from any other
things at discretion. Which is particularly observable in the
_Canticum Canticorum_, or _Solomon_’s _Song_, written by our Author.
Now the grasshopper, or locust, is an odd-shaped animal, made up
chiefly of belly; and therefore, especially when full of eggs, may be
said to bear some resemblance to a scrotum, swoln by a rupture.

These parts being thus affected, the wise author adds, _the appetite
shall be lost_; wherein he does not attend so much to the appetite for
victuals, as for those other things, which are sought after in the
vigor of life. For as the author of _the Art of Love_ has rightly
said: _Turpe senilis amor_[82].

    [82] _Ovid. Amorum, lib. i. Eclog. ix. ver. 4._

That old people are crushed to death by so great a heap of evils and
infirmities, and _depart to their eternal habitation_, to the grief
of their friends, can be no matter of wonder. But in the remaining
part of the discourse we are admonished, that their miseries in this
life are not confined within these bounds, but that sometimes there is
still an accession of others.

For loss of strength in old age does not terminate at the limbs, or
extremities of the body; the spine of the back also loses considerably
of its firmness, by the daily diminution of power in its muscles and
ligaments: hence an old man can seldom stand upright, but stoops his
body towards the earth, which is shortly to cover it. This part is
likened to a _silver chain_, which is said to be _broken asunder_. For
the _vertebræ_, of which it is composed, may be looked upon as the
rings or links, and they give way outward by the bending of the body.
Moreover the _medulla oblongata_, which passes through them, is of a
_silver_ or whitish colour.

These points, which we have hitherto handled, are very difficult of
explanation. But the three inconveniencies, which close the discourse,
are true ænigma’s, and require an Oedipus to solve them. And as such
an one, in my opinion, has not appeared hitherto, I will use my
endeavours to do it. _The golden ewer_, says he, _is dashed in pieces:
the pitcher is broken at the fountain-head; and the chariot is dashed
in pieces at the pit_.

Old men are troubled with defluxions from the head to the nose, mouth
and lungs; which are compared to water rushing out of a broken bottle
or ewer. And the ewer is said to be _of gold_, to express the dignity
of the head.

Nor does phlegm flow from the head alone; but other parts also pour
forth their juices too abundantly or irregularly. For the serosities,
which are secreted by the kidneys (whose cavity is even at this day
named pelvis by Anatomists) runs into the bladder; which, by reason of
the relaxation of its sphincter, as if the pitcher were broken at the
fountain head, is not able to retain its contents a sufficient time.
Hence an incontinence or dribbling of urine is continually

Now, the evils hitherto enumerated lodge in particular parts; but the
last calamity, both in this discourse, as well as in old people, is
that the whole body is afflicted. The very course of the blood is
interrupted; hence wretched man is seized with difficulty of
breathing, apoplexies or lethargies. The heart also, the principle and
fountain of life, sinks thro’ want of its usual force, _and the broken
chariot falls into the pit_. The ancients indeed did not know of the
circulation of the blood; but they could not be ignorant, that it was
moved thro’ the body, that it cherished the viscera and members by its
heat, and lastly, that it concreted and grew cold in death.

But nothing in this whole discourse is so much worthy of our serious
attention as these words, with which he closes it. _The dust returns
to the earth, such as it had been; and the spirit returns to God, who
gave it._ For by these words his intention seems plainly to have been,
to refute the ignorant notions of those, who thought that the soul
perished with the body, and to assert its immortality.


_The disease of king Nebuchadnezzar._

Those things, which are related of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,
appear so surprizing and contrary to nature, that some interpreters
have imagined that he was really transformed into a beast. For “being
driven from the company of men for seven years, his dwelling was with
the beasts of the field, he fed on grass as oxen; his body was wetted
with the dew of heaven; his hair and nails were grown like those of
birds. At length at the end of that space of time, his understanding
was restored to him, and he was established in his kingdom, and
excellent majesty was added unto him. Now his crime was pride and the
contempt of God[83].”

    [83] _See Daniel, Chap. iv. and v._

All these circumstances agree so perfectly well with hypochondriacal
madness, that to me it appears evident, that Nebuchadnezzar was seized
with this distemper, and under its influence ran wild into the fields:
and that, fancying himself transformed into an ox, he fed on grass in
the manner of cattle. For every sort of madness is, as I shall specify
more particularly hereafter[84], a disease of a disturbed imagination;
which this unhappy man laboured under full seven years. And thro’
neglect of taking proper care of himself, his hair and nails grew to
an excessive length; whereby the latter growing thicker and crooked,
resembled the claws of birds. Now, the ancients called persons
affected with this species of madness λυκανθρώποι or κυνανθρώποι; because
they went abroad in the night, imitating wolves or dogs; particularly
intent upon opening the sepulchres of the dead, and had their legs
much ulcerated either by frequent falls, or the bites of[85] dogs. In
like manner are the daughters of Proetus related to have been mad,
who, as Virgil says,

    --_Implerunt falsis mugitibus agros._[86]

    --With mimick’d mooings fill’d the fields.

    [84] _See Chap. ix. of Demoniacs._

    [85] _See Aetius, Lib. medecin. Lib. vi. and Paul. Ægineta,
    Lib. iii. Cap. xvi._

    [86] _Eclog. vi. 48._

For, as Servius observes, Juno possessed their minds with such a
species of madness, that fancying themselves cows, they ran into the
fields, bellowed often, and dreaded the plough. But these, according
to Ovid, the physician Melampus,

        --_per carmen & herbas
    Eripuit furiis._[87]

    Snatch’d from the furies by his charms
        and herbs.

    [87] _Metamorph. xv. 325._

Nor was this disorder unknown to the moderns; for Schenckius records a
remarkable instance of it in a husbandman of Padua, _who imagining
that he was a wolf, attack’d, and even killed several persons in the
fields; and when at length he was taken, he persevered in declaring
himself a real wolf, and that the only difference consisted in the
inversion of his skin and hair_[88].

    [88] _Observat. med. rar. de Lycanthrop. Obs. 1._

But it may be objected to our opinion, that this misfortune was
foretold to the king, so that he might have prevented it by correcting
his morals; and therefore it is not probable that it befel him in the
course of nature. But we know, that those things, which God executes
either thro’ clemency or vengeance, are frequently performed by the
assistance of natural causes. Thus having threatened Hezekiah with
death, and being afterwards moved by his prayers, he restored him to
life, and made use of figs laid on the tumor, as a medicine for
his[89] disease. He ordered king Herod, upon account of his pride, to
be devoured by worms[90]. And no body doubts but that the plague,
which is generally attributed to the divine wrath, most commonly owes
its origin to corrupted air.

    [89] _See above Chap. v. p. 36._

    [90] _See below, Chap. xv._


_The Palsy._

There are three paralytics recorded in the holy gospels to have been
cured by Jesus Christ[91]. The case of one of these, which is the
third, having some singularities in it, I shall relate the particulars
of it in the words of St. John, “There is (says the Evangelist) at
Jerusalem, by the sheep market, a pool, near which lay a great
multitude of impotent folk, blind, halt, and withered, waiting for the
moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into
the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the
troubling of the water stepped in, was made whole of whatsoever
disease he had. And a certain man was there, who had an infirmity
thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had
been now a long time _in that case_, he saith unto him, _Wilt thou be
made whole_? The impotent man answered him, _Sir, I have no man, when
the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming,
another steppeth down before me_. Jesus saith unto him: _Rise, take up
thy bed, and walk_. And immediately the man was made whole, and took
up his bed, and walked.”

    [91] _See Matthew, Chap. viii. and ix., and John, Chap. v._

This pool, or at least some other in its stead, is shewn to travellers
even at this day by the friars who reside there.[92] But, what is
much more to the purpose, Eusebius asserts that it actually existed in
his time, and had two basons; both of which were filled every year by
the rains, at a stated time; and the water of one of them was of a
surprizing red colour:[93] which last phœnomenon he attributes,
according to the vulgar opinion, to the sacrifices, which were
formerly cleansed there. But I am clearly of opinion, that it was
owing to a red earth or ocre, which is frequently found in baths,
raised up from the bottom at certain times by the rains, and mixing
with the water.

    [92] _See Cotovici Itinerarium Hierosolymitarum, Lib. ii.
    Cap. ii. and Maundrell’s Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem,
    8vo. p. 107. Oxford 1714._

    [93] _Onomasticon urbium & locorum sacræ scripturæ, in voce_

Commentators find more than one difficulty here. For first they
enquire what sort of water this was; next why it could not exert its
virtue without being troubled; then what was the nature of this
troubling; and lastly, concerning the angel they do not agree, who he
was. Wherefore I will offer my opinion, in a concise manner, on these
several points.

First then, mineral waters were in high esteem among the ancients for
many diseases: they used them inwardly and outwardly, and recommended
them for different distempers according to the nature of the mineral,
with which they were impregnated. Thus in paralitic cases, Celsus
recommends _swimming or bathing in the natural sea or salt water,
where it can conveniently be come at; where it cannot, even in water
made salt by art_.[94] And Pliny says, _sulphureous water is useful
for the nerves, aluminous for paralytics, or other relaxed habits of
the body_. He likewise adds; _They use the mud of those fountains with
advantage, especially if, when it is rubbed on, it be suffered to dry
in the sun_.[95] The same author relates strange things of some
springs. _In Boætia_, says he, _there are two springs, one of which
retrieves the memory, the other destroys it.[96] In Macedonia two
streams meet, one of them extremely wholsome to drink, the other
mortal._[97] And other things of the same nature. To these may be
added what Lucian, an eye-witness relates of the river Adonis in the
country of the Byblii. _The water of that river changes its colour
once a year, and turning as red as blood, gives a purple tinge to the
sea, into which it runs_: and the cause of this phœnomenon he ascribes
to its _passing thro’ mount Libanus, whose earth is red_.[98] Nor is
it foreign to the purpose to observe, that there are wonderful
eruptions of water in some countries. In the province of Conaught in
Ireland, there is a fountain of fresh water on the top of a high
mountain, which imitates the tide, by sinking and overflowing twice a
day.[99] A certain spring in Hungary in the county of Saros, is under
the influence of the moon: since it is well known to increase with the
moon’s increase, to diminish with its decrease, and to run quite dry
at the great change or new moon.[100] In fine, medicinal waters were
not uncommon in Palestine, the accounts of which are collected by that
great master of oriental literature, Hadrian Reland.[101]

    [94] _Lib. iii. Cap. xxvii._

    [95] _Lib. xxxi. §. 32._

    [96] _Ib. §. ii._

    [97] _Ib. §. 19._

    [98] _De Dea Syria._

    [99] _Vid. Ortelii Theatrum orbis terrarum._

    [100] _Vid. Geo. Wernher. de admirandis Hungariæ aquis._

    [101] _Palæstina ex monument. vet. illustr. p. 300, &c._

Nevertheless those who contend for a miracle in this place, say that
there are no baths known, which can cure all distempers; nor any that
retain their virtue but one single month in the year: they likewise
add, that it was the action of the angel troubling this water, that
gave it its sanative qualities. Those who are of a different
sentiment, enumerate a number of waters, which become salutary at
certain times of the year, by being then charged with metallic salts;
the mud of which being brought up from the bottom, has been
serviceable in many diseases. Wherefore they say, it is not just to
have recourse to a supernatural power for effects, which may be
produced by the ordinary course of nature. But as far as I am able to
judge of these contradictory opinions, a middle way between them seems
to me to come nearest the truth.

For my notion of the matter is, that the water of this pool acquired
its medicinal virtues from the mud settled at the bottom, which was
charged with metallic salts, perhaps from sulphur, allum, or nitre.
And whenever it happened that the water was troubled by any natural
cause whatsoever, perhaps a subterraneous heat, or rains; these salts
were raised up and mixed with it, and might well be beneficial to
those, who went down into the pool, before the metallic particles
subsided. Wherefore it is no wonder, that there _lay_, in the porches
of this bath, which the evangelist says were five in number, _a great
multitude of impotent folk waiting for the moving of the water_; and
especially of such as laboured under those diseases, for which it was
serviceable, as blindness, palsies, and decays. And it was very
natural for every individual person to endeavour to get into it as
soon as possible; for fear of being frustrated of their cure by the
subsidence of the mud. Wherefore _he who first stept in_, experienced
the virtue of the water.

The next circumstance to be observed is, that the fact here related,
happened when _there was a feast of the jews_, that is, the pentecost.
And we learn from Eusebius, that this method of curing prevailed but
once in a year.[102] But it is well known that this feast was
celebrated in the month of May or beginning of June: which is a very
proper season for the virtues of medicinal waters. Upon which account
the patients flock’d thither the more eagerly, that they might catch a
medicine, which they could make use of but once a year.

    [102] _Loco citato._

Lastly, with relation to the angel, who is said _to have_ troubled
the water at a certain season; those who contend for a miracle,
attribute the sanative quality of the pool to him. But we have already
taken notice, that whenever any thing uncommon or surprizing happened,
of which the jews could not investigate the cause, they were
accustomed to say, it was done _by the angel of the Lord_. Yet it is
possible, that God might have added this miraculous circumstance to
natural effects, that this pool should be sanative, at one certain
time of the year only, and that too, when the whole nation were
assembled to celebrate their solemn festival; and to him only, who
first went into it. The reason of which proceeding (if it be allowed
to form a conjecture on the divine counsels) might perhaps have been,
that God was pleased to testify by so manifest a sign, that he would
not, as he had promised, entirely abandon his chosen people; before
the coming of the Messias.

Wherefore upon the whole, this salutary virtue of the water, which
might be medicinal by nature, seems to be so regulated by God, as at
the same time to afford the jews a token of his presence. But the
power of Christ, administered to this infirm man, a more noble remedy
than that water, his _evil-chasing_[103] word. And this power was the
more seasonable in this case, because the disease was of so many years
standing, that it could not be removed by a natural remedy: whence his
divine virtue shone forth the more brightly.

    [103] Αλεξικακον.


_Of Demoniacs._

That the Dæmoniacs, δαιμονιζομένοι, mentioned in the gospels, laboured
under a disease really natural, tho’ of an obstinate and difficult
kind, appears to me very probable from the accounts given of them.
They were indeed affected various ways. For sometimes, they rent their
garments, and ran about naked; striking terror into all those whom
they met, and even wounding their own bodies; so very furious, that
tho’ bound with chains and fetters, they broke their bonds, and
rambled in the most lonely places, and among the sepulchres of the
dead. Sometimes also they cried out, that they were possessed by many
devils, which they imagined could pass out of themselves into other
bodies.[104] At other times, either they were worried, and made a
hideous noise;[105] or were thrown on the ground, without being hurt,
and the devil went out of them.[106]

    [104] _See Matthew, Ch. viii. v. 28. Mark, Ch. v. v. 2. and
    Luke, Chap. viii. v. 27._

    [105] _Mark, Chap. i. v. 23-26._

    [106] _Luke, Chap. iv. v. 33-35._

These are all actions of madmen; but the dispute is, whether they were
wrought by devils, or by the violence of the disease. Thus much is
certain, that in those times it was a common opinion among the jews,
that evil spirits frequently took possession of people, and tortured
them in so surprizing a manner, as if they were agitated by furies.
For in the whole catalogue of diseases, which afflict mankind, there
is no other, that seems so much to surpass the force of nature, as
this, in wretchedly tormenting the patient by fierce distractions of
the mind, and excessively strong, tho’ involuntary, motions of the
body. But most certainly we find nothing sacred in all this, nothing
but what may arise from a natural indisposition of body. And in order
to place this my opinion in the stronger light, it may not be improper
to give a short discourse on madness; not indeed on that species,
which comes on in an acute fever, and goes off with it, which is
called a phrenzy, and is always of short duration; but that other
sort, which is rivetted in the body, and constitutes a chronical

Wherefore all madness is a disease of an injured imagination, which
derives its origin from the mind, having been too long a time fixed
on any one object. Hence proceed uneasiness and anxieties of mind
concerning the event. And by how much the things, whose images
incessantly occur to the imagination, are of greater moment in life,
the more violently they disturb the person; examples of which we see
particularly in love and religion, wherein hope, fear, despair, and
other contrary passions, succeeding each other by turns, drag the
person different ways. That this is the case, will not be doubted by
any one, who recollects, that a madman often has a good memory;
manages his affairs, except when some vain ideas come across his mind,
with tolerable prudence, nay sometimes with more than ordinary
cunning; and that he ofttimes recovers the intire and permanent use of
his reason, by a course of proper medicines. Therefore in this
disorder the person is first over-whelmed by terrifying ideas, which
are followed by wrath and fury, as attendants on anxiety: whence he
threatens and attempts to do acts of the utmost cruelty to those who
approach him, and thro’ excess of anguish, frequently lays violent
hands even on himself: then he grows again melancholic; and thus rage
and dejection of spirits affect him alternately: moreover it is no
uncommon thing to see a person under these circumstances, especially
when the disease has taken deep root by length of time, seeking
unfrequented and solitary places, in order to avoid the conversation
of his fellow creatures,

    _Ipse suum cor edens, hominum vestigia vitans._[107]

    Gnawing his heart, shunning the steps of men.

    [107] _Cicero, Tuscul. Disp. Lib. iii. 26. who has turn’d
    into Latin this verse of Homer:_ “Ὁν ϑυμὸν κατέδων, πἀτον
    ἀνθρώπων ἀλεείνων.” _Il. Z. v. 202._

Now, people afflicted with this disorder, often live a long time. For
all mad folks in general bear hunger, cold, and any other inclemency
of the weather; in short, all bodily inconveniencies, with surprizing
ease; as they enjoy a strength of constitution superior to what might
be easily imagined. Likewise it frequently happens, that an epilepsy
comes on madness of a long standing. For these diseases are nearly
related; and in this case, we know by experience, that there remain
not the least hopes of recovery. Lastly it is to be observed, that the
patient is either frantic or melancholic, according as his habit of
body is disposed to receive this or that injury.

But that the casting out of devils, is nothing more than the removal
of madness, many do not believe, upon this account, that those things
which happen to persons thus affected, seem to them impossible to be
done by the force of nature. But certainly these gentlemen are too
much strangers to physic, and have not sufficiently attended to
phœnomena no less surprizing, which daily occur in other diseases. Do
we not often see that violent affections of the mind are the cause of
death? A sudden fright has destroyed many, and even excessive joy has
been fatal. A dangerous distemper sometimes passes from one part of
the body to another, in the twinkling of an eye. The venom thrown into
the mass of blood by the bite of a mad dog, generally lies still a
good while; and at the end of some weeks, sometimes months, exerting
its strength, it produces symptoms not inferior to those, which are
said to be produced by devils. What is more surprizing than some
things which fall out in pregnancies? If a pregnant woman happens to
have an eager desire for any thing, and is disappointed, she sometimes
marks the fœtus with the figure or likeness of the object longed for,
on this or that part of the body. And, what is still more, and
approaches to a prodigy, upon the mother being terrified by a sudden
injury done to any one part, that very part in the child suffers the
same evil, and decays for want of nourishment. I know that the truth
of stories of this kind, is called in doubt by some physicians;
because they cannot conceive, how such things can happen. But many
examples, of which I have been an eye-witness, have freed my mind of
all scruples on this head. Now, the power of the imaginative faculty
is so stupendous, that the mind is not less affected by false, than by
true images, when daily subjected to them. This we find by experience
in those women, who are called witches, who, being under the
influence of such an error of the mind, frequently imagine that they
not only converse with devils, but also have enter’d into compacts
with them; and persist in these notions with such obstinacy, that,
when they are brought to a trial, they confess themselves guilty of
wickednesses, which they never perpetrated, though they know that they
must suffer death for their confession. Moreover, every body knows how
wonderfully the mind is disturbed in melancholies. One of them thinks
his head is made of glass, and is afraid of stirring abroad, for fear
of having it broken: another believes himself to be actually dead, and
refuses food, because the dead ought not to eat. There are a thousand
stories of this kind. I remember, a man of letters, with whom I was
well acquainted, who positively asserted that he was big with child,
and was vastly anxious for a happy delivery. I saw two others, who,
when alone, fancied they heard the words of people whispering them in
the ear. Nor is their case different, in my opinion, who persuade
themselves that they see ghosts and hobgoblins. For deliriums are a
kind of dreams of people awake; and the mind in both cases affects the
body differently, according to the nature of its objects.

From what we have said, it manifestly appears, how many different ways
the lessons of imagination, when they are confirm’d by long habit, are
capable of affecting a man, and entirely ruining his whole frame. But
every body knows, that the human mind is disturbed by nothing more
than by fear; the cause of which is self-love ingrafted in all men.
Whereas then, as Cicero very justly observes, _there is no nation so
savage, no man so rude, as not to have some notion of the gods_;[108]
it is no wonder, that men conscious of wicked deeds, should be struck
with the fear of God, whose empire over all created things they
acknowledged. For, as they attributed every good thing, every benefit
of this life, to the gods; so they were of opinion, that evils and
calamities were sent down by them in punishment of crimes. Now,
idolatry, as I said above,[109] had its origin among the Chaldeans;
and at first it consisted in the worship of the sun and moon, but
afterwards it was extended to the adoration of dæmons.[110] But these
were believed to be divine ministers; and that they were originally
the souls of heroes and great men, who were worshipped for services
done to mankind in general, or to their native country in particular.
And this dæmoniac religion being propagated from the Chaldæans to the
Phœnicians, then to the Egyptians, came afterwards to the Greeks,
thence to the Romans, and in progress of time to the other nations.

    [108] _Tusc. quæst. Lib. i. 13._

    [109] _Cap. i. p. 5._

    [110] _See Sir Isaac Newton’s Chronology, p. 160._

But the jews, accustomed to ascribe every uncommon or wonderful work
of nature to the agency of angels, as ministers of the supreme deity,
could easily work up their minds to believe, that some dreadful
diseases, which injured the mind and body together, the causes whereof
they could not investigate, arose from the operation of evil angels.
For we learn from Philo Judæus,[111] with whom Josephus also agrees in
opinion, _that they believed there were bad as well as good angels;
that the good executed the commands of God on men, that they were
irreprehensible and beneficent; but the bad execrable, and every way
mischievous_.[112] But a more illustrious example of this matter
cannot be given, than in the narrative of Saul’s disease,[113] of
which I have already treated.[114] Nor were madness and the epilepsy
the only diseases, which they imputed to devils. When Jesus had
restored speech to the _furious dumb man_, he is said to have done it
by _casting out a devil_.[115] And when he had cured another furious
person, who was _blind and dumb_, the pharisees reproached him _with
casting out devils by beelzebub the prince of the devils_.[116] In
fine, Christ himself uses this common way of expression, on occasion
of the _woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, whom he
freed from that infirmity_; by saying, that _satan had held her bound
these eighteen years_.[117]

    [111] _Lib. de gigantibus._

    [112] _De bello judaico, Lib. vii. Cap. 6._

    [113] _See Samuel (or Kings) Book i. Chap. xvi._

    [114] _Chap. iii. page 28, &c._

    [115] _Matthew, Chap. ix. Verse 32._

    [116] _Ib. Chap. xii. Verse 22._

    [117] _Luke, Ch. xiii. v. 16._

And this custom of taking madmen for demoniacs, was not so peculiar to
the jews, but that it prevailed in other nations also. Hence in
Herodotus king Cleomenes is said to be driven into madness, not by any
dæmon, but by a habit of drunkenness, which he had contracted among
the Scythians, whereby he became frantic.[118] And whereas δαιμονᾷν
signifies the same thing as δαιμόνιον ἔχειν, Xenophon uses this word
for _furere_, to be raging mad or furious.[119] Moreover Aristophanes,
intending to express a high degree of the same disease, employs the
word κακοδαιμονᾷν, and calls the highest degree of madness, not
μανίαν, but κακοδαιμονίαν[120]. Hence also, as Aretæus observes, this
disease was called _morbus sacer_, or the sacred disease, _because it
was imagined that some dæmon had entered into the man_.[121] Wherefore
the physicians found it absolutely necessary to oppose this false
notion with all their might. Because the people were generally
persuaded, that diseases, which they believed to be caused by evil
spirits, were to be expelled, not by medical skill, but by religious
rites and ceremonies. Upon this account the prince of physicians
Hippocrates, or at least some one of his scholars, wrote a very useful
piece,[122] wherein he asserts that no diseases are inflicted on man,
immediately, by any divine power; and that those persons ought to be
accounted magicians and jugglers, who cover their ignorance with a
veil of sanctity, by infusing such notions into the minds of the

    [118] _Lib. vi. Cap. 84._

    [119] _Memorabil. Lib. i._

    [120] _Vid. Plutum, Act. ii. Scen. 3. v. 38. & Act. ii. Scen.
    5. v. 15._

    [121] Διὰ τῆς δόξης δαιμονος ἐς τον ανθρωπον ἐισόδȣ. _De
    causis morbo diuturn. Lib. i. Cap. 4._

    [122] _De morbo sacro._

But with regard to this power of the devils over human bodies,
believed equally by the jews and other nations, I have already said,
that the divinity ought not to be made a party concerned in imposing
diseases, which may possibly have natural causes; unless it be
expresly declared, that they were inflicted immediately by the hand of
God.[123] For of all the diseases, with which miserable mortals are
tormented, there are none so wonderful and dreadful to appearance, but
may be the natural consequences of bodily indispositions. Wherefore
God himself, if he thinks proper, can employ either natural causes, or
the ministry of good angels, to inflict all sorts of diseases on
mankind. And I hope nobody will believe, that the devils have had the
power granted them of torturing men at their wanton pleasure. But to
say more on this subject seems the less necessary; because two very
learned divines of our nation have already treated it in a full and
ample manner.[124]

    [123] _Chap. iii. page 30._

    [124] _See the works of Jos. Mede 1677 fol. discourse vi. and
    enquiry into the meaning of demoniacs, &c._

Therefore in order to put an end to these demoniacal diseases, I will
now briefly shew, how they are to be treated. And first of all,
particular care should be taken, to keep the patient’s mind employed
in thoughts directly contrary to those, which possessed it before: for
one set of ideas gives place to another, and by effecting this
change, the mind is brought out of the state in which it was: a
circumstance, to which the generality of physicians do not give
sufficient attention. When this can be brought about, the disease is
sometimes speedily cured. But when either the long standing of the
distemper, or some other cause, renders this total change
impracticable; at least the strength of the present set of ideas ought
to be diminished and destroyed by all possible means. The vain fears
of some are to be diverted, and their dismal thoughts dispelled. The
daring ferocity of others is to be curb’d; for which end it is often
necessary, to use hard words and threats. Likewise sudden frights,
which may give the mind a different commotion, from that which before
disturbed it, have been found to afford a temporary relief at least.
The ancients prescribed some corrections, such as bindings and
stripes.[125] And indeed it is sometimes necessary to bind those, who
are too unruly; to prevent their doing mischief to themselves or
others. But there is the less necessity for torments and stripes,
because all mad men are of such a cowardly disposition; that even the
most frantic and mischievous, after being once or twice tied,
surrender at discretion, and thence forward refrain from committing
any outrage, thro’ fear of the punishment.

    [125] _Vid. Celsus, Lib. iii. Cap. xviii._

As to the medical part, the gross humors of the body are to be
thinned, and the disorderly motion of the animal spirits is to be
calmed. For which end blood-lettings, emetics, cathartics, blisters,
and setons, also sometimes coolings of the head are to be employed. To
these the fœtid gums are to be added, especially _assa fœtida_,
_myrrh_, and _galbanum_. And _camphire_ has been frequently found
serviceable in excessive ferocity and want of sleep. But when the
disease is accompanied by a fever, nothing is more proper than nitre,
given in as large quantities as the stomach will bear. Lastly, the
patient is to be kept to a slender diet, and compelled to use
exercise. But in all evacuations, a certain degree of moderation ought
to be used, lest the madness be changed into a contrary disease, which
the ancients termed _morbus cardaicus_,[126] that is, an excessive
weakness of body. In which case, the patient is so far exhausted, that
medicines are of no avail; but the miserable dejected man drags the
remains of life, alass! generally too long.

    [126] _Idem, Lib. iii. Cap. xix._


_Of Lunatics._

As some ancient physicians attributed the falling sickness to some
divine power, so they ascribed madness to the influence of the moon.
Yet the lunatic, σεληνιαζόμενος, whose disease is described in the
gospels, was affected with the falling sickness.[127] Wherefore this
patient (for there is but one of this kind expresly recorded there)
was either mad and epileptic at the same time, which is not uncommon;
or he laboured under a periodical epilepsy, returning with the changes
of the moon, which is a very common case. For the account given of him
is very short, that _he ofttimes fell into the fire and oft into the
water_. Now in this distemper a person falls down suddenly, and lies
for some time as dead; or by a general convulsion of his nerves, his
body is agitated, with distorted eyes, and he foams at the mouth. But
at length he recovers out of the fit, and has no more knowledge or
remembrance of it, than if nothing had happened to him. Yet _Jesus_ is
said to have _rebuked the devil, and he departed out of him, and the
child was cured_. That this child’s case was epileptic, appears more
manifestly from the account given of it by the evangelist, who was
also a physician: for he says, _that as soon as the spirit has seized
the patient, he cries out, foams at the mouth, and is torn and worried
by him_.[128]

    [127] _Matthew, Chap. xvii. v. 15 and 18._

    [128] _Luke, Chap. ix. v. 39, &c._

Now, as to these σεληνιαζομένοι, who are subjoined to the demoniacs,
as if their diseases were different, and whom Jesus is said to have
cured;[129] they were either mad, or mad and epileptic together, which
is not an uncommon case, as we have just now said. And as to devils,
we have treated of them sufficiently. But with relation to the moon,
there is not the least reason to doubt, but that the regular returns
of the paroxysms at certain times of the month, gave occasion to men
to believe, that this disease was lunar. For that planet has such a
real influence on this disease, that it frequently happens to some
patients, never to be seized with the fit but about the new and full
moon; which seems to join its energy to those causes, that are adapted
to produce this evil. But the manner of accounting for this I have
delivered in another place; where I have plainly shewn that our
atmosphere has its tides as well as the sea.[130]

    [129] _Matthew, Chap. iv. v. 24._

    [130] _De morbo sacro._

And indeed the great Hippocrates has long since taught, that this
disease is owing to natural causes, and consequently, by no means
divine.[131] For altho’ in his time, neither the inward parts of the
animal body, nor the properties of the blood and humors, especially of
the nervous fluid, were sufficiently known; yet by his great sagacity
and experience, he has left us several useful observations, in
relation both to the nature of the disease, and to its cure. For he
has shewn, that it arises from too great a quantity of humors in the
brain; and therefore that the best method of cure is to dry up, and
lessen the quantity of this peccant matter; without having recourse to
incantations and juggling tricks, so much in use in those days.

    [131] _See influence of the sun and moon, Chap. i. and ii._

But when in succeeding ages, the use of medicines became more common,
a great number of remedies for this dreadful disease were invented,
some of which indeed were too filthy and shocking: such as drinking
the warm blood of a gladiator just slain; eating human or horse’s
flesh, the testicles and penis of some animals, and other things of
the same kind;[132] as if matters so repugnant to nature, could be
contrary to such grievous defects of it. For so it often happens, that
when a rational medicine is not to be found, any improper and rash one
is attempted. But such experiments are to be abandoned to itinerant
quacks, and credulous old women. Though even in our days our art is
not sufficiently purged of this filth in these cases; seeing the dung
of some birds, and the hoofs of quadrupeds are still ordered to be
swallowed down by the sick. But whereas chemistry has furnished us
with the means of extracting the salts, and other most active
principles from bodies; to me it is matter of admiration, why
physicians do not choose to order these principles to be taken pure
into the body, rather than the coarse and fœculant substances, that
contain them; which are always disagreeable, and sometimes hurtful
also, to the stomach. But this most difficult distemper demands helps
far superior to these; nor will any one method of cure answer in all
cases, but the course must be altered according to the difference of
constitution, &c. However, I will here propose those things, which
have been found to be most generally serviceable.

    [132] _See Celsus, Lib. iii. Cap. xxiii. & Cael. Aurelian,
    Lib. i. Cap. 4._

Blood is to be taken away several times, according to the strength of
the patient, in order to check its impetus. Vomits are to be
administered now and then, but cathartics more frequently. It is
particularly requisite to draw the redundant humor from the head,
which is done by blisters; but better, by applying a caustic near the
occiput, and making an issue, which is to be kept constantly running.

These remedies contribute indeed to weaken the paroxysms; but for
removing the cause, when it can be done (for sometimes it cannot)
other helps are requisite. For it is manifest, that the cause lies
chiefly in the nervous fluid, commonly called animal spirits. But to
investigate the manner how this fluid is affected in diseases of this
kind, would, in my opinion, be a fruitless labour. However, as I have
shewn on another occasion,[133] that it consists of very minute
particles secreted from the blood in the brain, and receives and
imprisons a considerable quantity of that elastic matter, universally
diffused throughout all nature; it cannot be doubted, but that it may
be so corrupted by some indisposition of the body or mind, as to
become more or less improper for executing the functions of life, and
perform all animal motions, not at the command of the will, but in a
disorderly manner, and with a certain ungovernable impetuosity. Now
the best remedies for correcting this depraved condition of the animal
spirits, are chiefly those, which have the most powerful faculties of
attenuating the humors, and throwing them out of the body by sweat.
Of these the most excellent are the _Root of wild Valerian_, _Russian
Castor_, _the fœtid Gums_, and _Native Cinnabar_, taken daily in
pretty large quantities; with the interposition of cathartics at
proper intervals, among which there is none better than the _Tinctura
sacra_. I have long known by experience, that the celebrated _Misleto
of the Oak_, is an useless weed. And indeed how can it be otherwise,
since it has scarcely any taste or smell, and is entirely indebted to
the religion of the Druids for its great character. Wherefore it is to
be rank’d with those other frivolous things, which superstition has
introduced into physick; unless a person can work himself up into a
belief, that the golden sickle, with which it was cut down, the
priest’s snow-white garment, the sacrifice of white bulls, and other
such trifling circumstances, are conducive towards a cure.[134]

    [133] _Account of poisons, ed. 3. introduction._

    [134] _Plin. hist. nat. Lib. xvi. §. ult._


_The issue of blood in a woman._

Saint Matthew relates, that “Christ, by his word alone, cured a woman
who had been diseased with an issue of blood for twelve[135] years.”

    [135] _Chap. ix. v. 20._

And here arises a question, concerning the nature of this disease. But
as the words in the Greek are γυνὴ ἁιμοῤῥοȣσα, I am of opinion, that
it was a flux of blood from the natural parts, which Hippocrates[136]
calls ῥόον ἁἱματώδη, and observes, that it is necessarily tedious.
Wherefore having been exhausted by it for twelve years, may justly be
said to be incurable by human art.

    [136] _De morb. Lib. i. Sect. 3._


_Weakness of the back, with a rigidity of the back-bone._

“There was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and
was so bowed together, that she could in no wise lift up herself, and
Jesus laid his hands on her, and she was freed from her infirmity, and
immediately made[137] strait.”

    [137] _Luke, Chap. xiii. v. 11, &c._

This woman was συγκύπτȣσα, that is, _stooping forward_; being unable
ἀνακύψαι, or _to lift up her head_. Now that spirit, according to the
common way of speaking of the jews, was satan. For thus Christ
himself, answering the ruler of the synagogue, who was angry that the
woman had been cured on the sabbath day, says, that _satan had held
her bound these eighteen years_. And exactly in the same sense saint
Mark employs πνευμα ἄλαλον for a _spirit, which obstructed the faculty
of speech_.[138]

    [138] _Chap. ix. v. 17._

This infirmity often befalls those, who have been very long afflicted
with a disorder of the loins: whence the muscular fibres of that part
become contracted and rigid. Wherefore it is very probable, that this
tedious disease proceeded from that very cause, and was curable by the
divine assistance only.


_The bloody sweat of Christ._

Saint Luke relates of Christ himself, that, “when he was in an agony
by the fervency of his prayers, his sweat was like drops of blood
falling down on the[139] ground.”

    [139] _Chap. xxii. v. 44._

This passage is generally understood, as if the Saviour of mankind had
sweated real blood. But the text does not say so much. The sweat was
only ὡσεί ϑρόμβοι ἁίματος, as it were, or like drops of blood; that
is, the drops of sweat were so large, thick and viscid, that they
trickled to the ground like drops of blood. Thus were the words
understood by Justin Martyr, Theophylactus and Euthymius. And yet
Galen has observed, that _it sometimes happens, that the pores are so
vastly dilated by a copious and fervid spirit; that even blood issues
thro’ them, and constitutes a bloody sweat_.[140]

    [140] _Lib. de utilitate respirationis._


_The disease of Judas._

In the number of diseases, I rank the death of Judas, the wicked
betrayer of Christ; of which I shall treat the more willingly, because
very learned interpreters of the holy scriptures have run into
different opinions concerning it. And about fifty years ago, two
famous professors of history in the university of Leyden, Jacobus
Gronovius and Jacobus Perizonius, handled this controversy in print
with too much passion. For polite literature does not always polish
its admirers.

The origin of the dispute was this. Perizonius had published Ælian’s
variæ historiæ, with his own notes and those of others; where taking
occasion from what Ælian says of Poliager,[141] he diligently examines
the signification of the verb ἁπάγχεσθαι, which saint Matthew[142]
employs in relating the death of Judas; and insists that that word
does not only mean strangling with a halter, but also sometimes
excessive grief, by which a person is brought to the brink of death,
and frequently even destroys himself. This criticism was taken amiss
by Gronovius, who had already published a book _de morte Judæ_,
wherein he had said that the wretch had voluntarily put an end to his
life by a halter; wherefore he drew his pen, in order to refute his
adversary’s reasonings, and corroborate his own. Moreover he quarrels
with Perizonius about the phrase πρηνὴς γενόμενος, which he positively
affirms ought to be understood not of a dying man, but solely of one
actually dead, or of a dead body cast or tumbled down. For St. Matthew
simply says ἀπήγξατο,[143] but St. Luke more fully, πρηνὴς γενόμενος
ἐλάκησε μέσος, και ἐξεχύθη πάντα τὰ σπλάγχνα ἀυτȣ,[144] that is, _falling
headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed
out_. Wherefore, if the verb ἀπάγχεσθαι can bear no other signification
than that _strangling, which is performed by a halter_, it is plain
that the two evangelists do not agree together; unless we say with the
learned Casaubon, that Judas hanged himself, but the rope broke, and
he tumbled headlong down. But this does not explain the manner of his
death; which saint Luke manifestly seems to have intended; but barely
adds a circumstance of little moment, which happen’d after it, or at
the very instant of it. Upon the whole it is certain, that by this
word is not only meant _suffocation by hanging_, but also _excessive
grief_, with which those who are violently overpowered, frequently
compass their own death. For, as Ovid says: _strangulat inclusus
dolor_. And indeed Perizonius has clearly proved this point by a
number of examples, drawn from ancient authors.[145] Nor is it less to
be doubted, but that the expression πρηνὴς γενόμενος, may be used for
one, who _voluntarily throws himself headlong down_, as well as for
one, _who falls headlong by some accident_: which he has amply

    [141] _Lib. v. Cap. 8._

    [142] _Chap. xxvii. v. 5._

    [143] _Ibid._

    [144] _Acts, Chap. i. v. 18._

    [145] _Vid. dissert. de morte Judæ, & responsones duas ad
    Gronovium, Lugd. Bat. 1702 & 3._

This controversy cost more than one dissertation. But after seriously
considering the strength of the arguments produced by both parties; I
am of opinion, that the words of saint Matthew may be reconciled with
the account given by saint Luke from saint Peter’s speech, in this
manner. When that most unhappy traitor saw that Christ was condemned
to death, he began to repent of his deed; and being thereupon wreck’d
with grief and despair, or seized with the swimming in the head (which
often happens in such cases) he fell headlong down some precipice; or,
which is more probable, he designedly threw himself down, and his body
chancing to pitch on some large stone or stump of a tree, his bowels
burst forth, and he was killed. Wherefore Matthew declared his
tortures of mind, which made him destroy himself; but Luke has clearly
and properly determined the manner of his death. Thus this kind of
death ought, with good reason, to find a place in the list of
diseases, upon account of the real disorder of the mind.


_The disease of king Herod._

The disease with which Herod Agrippa is said to have been smitten, by
the just judgment of God, in punishment for his pride and of which he
died, is remarkable. For he finished his miserable life σκωληκόβρωτος,
that is, _eaten by worms_, as the sacred historian relates, in these
words, “Upon a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his
throne, and made an oration unto them: and the people gave a shout,
saying, it is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately
the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory;
and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the[146] ghost.” Josephus
indeed, in his account of the fact, makes no mention of worms, but
says that he was suddenly seized with violent gripings, and after
being incessantly tortured with pains in his bowels for five days, he
expired.[147] But saint Luke has informed us, that the worms, by which
his bowels were eroded, were the cause of the gripes.

    [146] _Acts, Chap. xii. v. 21-23._

    [147] _Antiq. jud. Lib. xix. Cap. viii. §. 2._

Now the greatest singularity in this king’s disease is, that it was
instantly inflicted on him from heaven (which he himself acknowledged
according to Josephus[148]) otherwise as to verminose putrefaction in
human bodies, we have several instances of it. For this very king’s
grandfather, Herod, surnamed the Great, is said to have labour’d
under this disease a long time, till at length it threw him into a
decay, of which he died.[149] Likewise Herodotus relates of Pheretima,
the mother of Arcesilaus, king of Cyrene, that she was rotted alive by
worms.[150] And it is recorded of the Roman emperor Galerius
Maximianus, that this same loathsome disease not only eat away his
genital members, but put an end to his life.[151] Wherefore it was
impossible, but that some at least of the Greek physicians must have
observed some cases of this kind. And accordingly Galen has proposed
medicines for ulcers, σκώληκας ἔχοντα, that is, abounding with
worms.[152] For he says, in abscesses there are frequently found
animals, ζῶα, very like those, which are engendered from corruption.[153]
And Philoxenus in Aetius says, that _in the humor of Atheroma’s, he
sometimes found animals, like gnats or little flies_.[154] In fine,
Paulus Aegineta teaches the method of getting rid of them.[155]

    [148] _Ubi supra._

    [149] _Josephus Ant. Jud. Lib. xvii. Cap. vi. (an. viii?) §
    5. & De Bello Jud. Lib. i. Cap. xxxiii. § 5._

    [150] _Hist. Lib. 4. a fine_ Ζωσα εὐλέων εξεζεσε.

    [151] _Sext. Aurel. Victor. Epitom. & Pompon. Laeti Rom.
    Hist. compend._

    [152] _De compos. Medic. per genera, L. iv. Cap. x._

    [153] _Lib. de tumorib. præter nat. Cap. iv._

    [154] _Lib. xv. Cap. vii._

    [155] _Lib. iv. Cap. xlii._

In so clear a case, it is needless to collect a greater number of
authorities from the ancients, especially since several modern
physicians have made the same observations. For Marcellus Donatus
mentions a person of high rank, extremely fat, whose belly was eroded
and mortified by little worms engendered in his skin, which was
excessively distended by fat and humors; and these worms were not
unlike those produced in old rotten cheese.[156] The learned Nicolaus
Tulpius saw worms very like these, issuing with the urine out of the
body of a very celebrated physician.[157] And the Ephemerides naturæ
curiosorum, contain three remarkable cases of this kind. The first is
that of a certain Frenchman, whose blood was so corrupted, that very
minute animals came forth day and night with horrid tortures, thro’
most of the outlets of the skin, as the eyes, nose, mouth, and
bladder; and at length put an end to his miserable life.[158] In the
second, black worms, not unlike scarabæi or beetles, came out of an
abscess formed in the calf of the leg of a girl.[159] And in the third
it is said, that very small white worms issued with the milk from the
breasts of a woman in childbed.[160] Nor can I omit two similar
cases, one of which is related by Poterius, the other by his
commentator Frideric Hoffman. The former attended a countryman, for a
tumor on his right knee, out of which, when opened, little live worms
issued, which caused an intolerable pain in the part by their bitings.
And the latter saw a tradesman, who had a hard tumor about the veins
of the arms, which was very troublesome to him. This was opened by a
surgeon several times without any benefit; until an ulcer was formed,
out of which he took a great number of little black worms, armed with
stings or prickles.[161]

    [156] _De hist. medic. mirab. Lib. i. Cap. v._

    [157] _Observ. medic. Lib. ii. Cap. 1._

    [158] _Decur. 2. ann. 5. append. Artic. 38._

    [159] _Ibid. Artic. 52._

    [160] _Ibid. Artic. 109._

    [161] _Poterii opera cum annot. Frid. Hoffmanni edita,
    Francof. 1698. pag. 72._

Now these histories, wonderful as they seem, are not to be refused
credit. For all nature is animated in a surprizing degree. The air
which we breathe, the food which we eat; all fluids especially, are
full of animalcula of very different kinds. Whence it is possible,
that some of these, being received into our bodies, and conveyed into
the minute passages of the softest parts, as into nests, may there
grow, as worms do in the intestines, to their proper size. Hence by
the obstruction of the smallest vessels, tumors arise; which being
suppurated by heat, and bursting, pour forth their foul offspring in
the shape of worms.

Wherefore I cannot agree with those interpreters, who imagine that
Herod was consumed by, and died of the _phthiriasis_, or _louzy
disease_. For σκώληξ is a different creature from φθεὶρ; this corrodes
the surface of the skin, that the inner parts of the body. Nor can it
admit of doubt, that saint Luke, who was a physician, well understood
the meaning of both the words. And yet I know that the disease
proceeding ὑπὸ τῶν φθειρων is by some learned men confounded with that
caused ὑπὸ τῶν σκωλήκων; of the first of which Pherecides Syrius,[162]
and Lucius Sylla,[163] are said to have died. Whereupon Kuhnius
says,[164] _I look upon the word_ σκωληκόβρωτος _in saint Luke, and_
φθειρόβρωτος _in Hesychius_,[165] _to be synonimous terms_: and his
reason is, because lice are worms.

    [162] _Ælian. var. hist. Lib. iv. Cap. 28._

    [163] _Plutarcho in ejus vita._

    [164] _Not. ad Ælianum._

    [165] _Lib. de vit. philos._

The END.

Transcriber's Note

Obvious punctuation errors have been corrected. Due to the age of the
text, varied spelling has been preserved.

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