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chapter 1: The Porch, or Introduction - Nathaniel Culverwell, An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature 
An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature, ed. Robert A. Greene and Hugh MacCallum, foreword by Robert A. Greene (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001).
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The Porch, or Introduction
A DISCOURSE Of the Light of Nature.
 Tis a work that requires our choycest thoughts, the exactest discussion that can be; a thing very material and desirable, to give unto Reason the things that are Reasons, and unto Faith the things that are Faiths;2 to give Faith her full scope and latitude, and to give Reason also her just bounds and limits; this is the first-born, but the other has the blessing.3 And yet there is not such a vast hiatus neither, such a μέγαχάσμα4 [great gulf] between them as some would imagine: there is no such implacable antipathy, no such irreconcileable jarring between them, as some do fancy to themselves; they may very well salute one another, ἀγίῳφιλήματι,5osculo Pacis[with a holy kiss, the kiss of peace]; Reason and Faith may kisse each other.6 There is a twin-light springing from both, and they both spring from the same fountain of light, and they both sweetly conspire in the same end, the glory of that being from which they shine, & the welfare & happines of that being upon which they shine. So that to blaspheme Reason,’tis to reproach heaven it self, and to dishonour the God of Reason, to question the beauty of his Image, and by a strange ingratitude to slight this great and Royal gift of our Creator. For ’tis he that set up these two great Luminaries in every heavenly soul, the Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the night;7 and though there be some kinde of creatures that will bark at this lesser light, and others so severely critical, as that they make mountains of those spots and freckles which they see in her face; yet others know how to be thankful for her weaker beams, and will follow the least light of Gods setting up, though it be but the Candle of the Lord.
But some are so strangely prejudic’d against Reason, and that upon sufficient reason too (as they think) which yet involves a flat contradiction, as that they look upon it not as the Candle of the Lord, but as on some blazing Comet that portends present ruine to the Church, and to the soul, and carries a fatal and venemous influence along with it. And because the unruly head of Socinus and  his followers8 by their meer pretences to Reason, have made shipwrack of Faith, and have been very injurious to the Gospel; therefore these weak and staggering apprehensions, are afraid of understanding any thing, and think that the very name of Reason, especially in a Pulpit, in matters of Religion, must needs have at least a thousand heresies coucht in it. If you do but offer to make a Syllogisme, they’l strait way cry it down for carnal reasoning. What would these men have? Would they be banisht from their own essences? Would they forfeit and renounce their understandings? Or have they any to forfeit or disclaime? would they put out this Candle of the Lord, intellectuals of his own lighting? or have they any to put out? would they creep into some lower species, and go a grazing with Nebuchadnezar among the beasts of the field?9 or are they not there already? Or if they themselves can be willing to be so shamefully degraded, do they think that all others too are bound to follow their example? Oh, what hard thoughts have these of Religion? do they look upon it only as on a bird of prey, that comes to peck out the eyes of men? Is this all the nobility that it gives, that men by vertue of it must be beheaded presently? do’s it chop off the intellectuals at one blow? Lets hear awhile what are the offences of Reason; are they so hainous and capital? what has it done? what lawes has it violated? whose commands has it broken? what did it ever do against the crown and dignity of heaven, or against the peace and tranquillity of men? Why are a weak and perverse generation, so angry and displeased with it? Is it because this daughter of the morning is fallen from her primitive glory? from her original vigour and perfection? Far be it from me to extenuate that great and fatal overthrow, which the sons of men had in their first and original apostasie from their God; that under which the whole Creation sigh’s and groanes:10 but this we are sure, it did not annihilate the soul, it did not destroy the essence, the powers and faculties, nor the operations of the soul; though it did defile them, and disorder them, and every way indispose them.
Well then, because the eye of Reason is weakened, and vitiated, will they therefore pluck it out immediately? and must Leah be hated upon no other account, but because she is blear-ey’d?11 The whole head is wounded, and akes, and is there no other way but to cut it off? The Candle of the Lord do’s not shine so clearly as it was wont, must it therfore be extinguisht presently? is it not better to enjoy the faint and languishing light of this Candle of the Lord, rather then to be in palpable and disconsolate darknesse? There are indeed but a few seminal sparks left in the ashes, and must there be whole floods of water cast on them to quench them? ’Tis but an old imperfect Manuscript, with some broken periods, some letters worn out, must they therefore with an unmerciful indignation rend it and tear it asunder? ’Tis granted that the picture has lost its glosse and beauty, the oriency of its colours, the elegancy of its lineaments, the  comelinesse of its proportion; must it therefore be totally defac’d? must it be made one great blot? and must the very frame of it be broken in pieces? Would you perswade the Lutanist to cut all his strings in sunder, because they are out of tune? and will you break the Bowe upon no other account, but because it’s unbended? because men have not so much of Reason as they should, will they therefore resolve to have none at all? will you throw away your gold, because it’s mixt with drosse? Thy very being that’s imperfect too, thy graces, they are imperfect, wilt thou refuse these also? And then consider, that the very apprehending the weaknes of Reason, even this in some measure comes from Reason. Reason, when awaken’d, it feels her own wounds, it hears her own jarrings, she sees the dimnesse of her own sight. ’Tis a glasse that discovers its own spots, and must it therefore be broke in peices? Reason her self has made many sad complaints unto you; she has told you often, and that with teares in her eyes, what a great shipwrack she has suffered, what goods she has lost, how hardly she escaped with a poor decayed being; she has shewn you often some broken reliques as the sad remembrancers of her former ruines; she told you how that when she swam for her life, she had nothing but two or three Jewels about her, two or three common notions; and would you rob her of them also? is this all your tendernesse and compassion? Is this your kindness to your friend? will you trample upon her now she is so low? Is this a sufficient cause to give her a Bill of divorcement,12 because she has lost her former beauty and fruitfulnesse?
Or is Reason thus offensive to them, because she cannot grasp and comprehend the things of God? Vain men, will they pluck out their eyes because they cannot look upon the Sun in his brightnesse and glory? What though Reason cannot reach to the depths, to the bottomes of the Ocean, may it not therefore swim and hold up the head as well as it can? What though it cannot enter into the Sanctum Sanctorum, and pierce within the Veile; may it not notwithstanding lie in the Porch, at the gate of the Temple called beautiful, and be a door-keeper in the house of its God?13 Its wings are clipt indeed, it cannot flie so high as it might have done, it cannot flie so swiftly, so strongly as once it could, will they not therefore allow it to move, to stirre, to flutter up and down as well as it can? the turrets and pinacles of the stately structure are fallen, will they therefore demolish the whole fabrick, and shake the very foundations of it? and down with it to the ground? though it be not a Jacobs ladder to climbe up to heaven by, yet may they not use it as a staffe to walk upon earth withall? and then Reason it self knows this also and acknowledges, that ’tis dazled with the Majesty and glory of God; that it cannot pierce into his mysterious and unsearchable wayes; it never was so vain as to go about to measure immensity by its own finite Compasse, or to span out absolute eternity by its own more imperfect duration. True Reason did never go about to comprize the Bible in its own Nutshel. And if Reason be content with its own sphere, why should it not have the liberty of its proper motion?
Is it because it opposes the things of God, and wrangles against the mysteries of salvation, is it therefore excluded? An heinous and frequent accusation indeed, but nothing more false and injurious; and if it had been an open enemy that had done her this wrong, why then she could have born it; but it’s thou her friend and companion, ye have took sweet counsel together, and have entred into the house of God as friends,14 ’tis you that have your dependance upon her; that cannot speak one word to purpose against her, without her help and assistance. What mean you thus to revile your most intimate and inseparable self? why do you thus slander your own beings? would you have all this to be true which you say? Name but the time if you can, when ever right Reason did oppose one jot or apex of the word of God. Certainly, these men speak of distorted Reason all this while. Surely they do not speak of the Candle of the Lord, but of some shadow and appearance of it. But if they tell us that all Reason is distorted, whether then is theirs so, in telling us so? if they say that they do not know this by Reason, but by the Word of God; whether then is their Reason, when it acknowledges the Word of God? whether is it then distorted, or no? Besides, if there were no right Reason in the world, what difference between sobriety and madnesse, between these men and wiser ones? how then were the heathen left without excuse,15 who had nothing to see by but this Candle of the Lord? and how do’s this thrust men below sensitive creatures, for better have no Reason at all, then such as do’s perpetually deceive them, and delude them.
Or do’s Reason thus displease them, because the blackest Errours sometimes come under the fair disguise of so beautiful a name, and have some tincture of Reason in them? But truly this is so farre from being a disparagement to Reason, as that ’tis no small commendation of it, for πρόσωπονχρὴθέμεντηλαυγῃς,16 Men love to put a plausible title, a winning frontispiece upon the foulest Errours. Thus licentiousnesse would faine be called by the name of liberty, and all dissolutenesse would faine be countenanced and secured under the Patronage and protection of free-grace. Thus wickednesse would willingly forget its own name, and adopt it self into the family of goodnesse. Thus Arminianisme pleads for it self under the specious notion of Gods love to mankinde.17 Thus that silly Errour of Antinomianisme will needs stile it self an Evangelical Honey-comb. Thus all irregularities and anomalies in Church affairs must pride themselves in those glittering titles of a New Light, A Gospel way, An Heaven upon Earth.18 No wonder then that some also pretend to Reason, who yet run out of it, and beyond it, and besides it; but must none therefore come near it? because Socinus has burnt his wings at this Candle of the Lord, must none therefore make use of it?
May he not be conquer’d with his own weapons, and beat out of his own  strong holds? and may not the head of an uncircumcised Philistine be cut off with his own sword?19
Or lastly, are they thus afraid of Reason, because by vertue of this, men of wit and subtilty will presently argue and dispute them into an Errour, so as that they shall not be able to disintangle a truth, though in it self it be never so plaine and unquestionable? But first, Reason it self tells them that it may be thus, and so prepares and fortifies them against such a tryal; and then, this only shews that some mens Reason is not so well advanc’d and improv’d, either as it might be, or as others is; a sharper edge would quickly cut such difficulties asunder. Some have more refined and clarifi’d intellectuals, more vigorous and sparkling eyes then others, and one soul differs from another in glory; and that reason which can make some shift to maintain Errour, might with a great deal lesse sweat and pains maintain a truth.
There’s no question but that Bellarmin,20 and the rest of the learned Papists could have if they had pleased, far more easily defended the Protestant Religion then that of their own. Besides, the vigour and triumph of Reason is principally to be seen in those first-born beames, those pure and unspotted irradiations that shine from it; I mean those first bublings up of common principles that are own’d and acknowledg’d by all; and those evident, and kindly derivations that flow from them. Reason shews her face more amiably and pleasantly in a pure and cleare streame, then in those mudded and troubled waters, in which the Schoolmen (that have leasure enough) are alwayes fishing. Nay, some of their works are like so many raging seas, full of perpetual tossings, and disquietings, and foamings, and sometimes casting up mire and dirt;21 and yet these vast and voluminous Leviathans love to sport therein, and that which is most intolerable, these grand σοφοὶ[wise men], that seem’d so zealous for Reason, at length in expresse termes disclaime it; and in a most blindfold and confused manner, cry up their great Diana,22 their Idol of Transubstantiation; and the Lutherans are very fierce against Reason too, much upon the same account, because it would never allow of that other monstrous and misshapen lump of Consubstantiation.
But why have I all this while beaten the air, and spilt words upon the ground? why do I speak to such as are incurable and incapable? for if we speak Reason to them, that’s that which they so much disclaim: if we do not speak Reason to them, that were to disclaime it too.
But I speak to men, to Christians, to the friends of learning, to the professors of Reason: to such as put this Candle of the Lord into a golden Candlestick, and poure continual Oile into it. Yet lest any among you Athenians, should erect an Altar to an unknown God;23 lest you should ignorantly worship him, we will declare him to you.
 And that which we have now said may serve as a Porch and preamble, to what we shall speak hereafter out of these words.
Where we shall see