Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 2: The Explication of the Words - An Elegant and Learned Discourse of the Light of Nature
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chapter 2: The Explication of the Words - 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 Explication of the Words
 Now as for the words themselves, we cannot better judge of the fitnesse of this expression, then by considering who it was that spoke it.
Now these words were spoke by him that had a large portion of intellectuals, one that was ἔξοχοςἀνθρώπωνκεφαλῃ̑1 [an intellectual superior among men], they were spoken by Solomon in whom the Candle of the Lord did shine very clearly; one that had ask’d this as the choisest favour that he could expect from the bounty of heaven; to have a glorious lamp of knowledge shine in his soul for the enlightning of it. And though the envious Jews would fain perswade the world that he lighted his candle at hell it self, for they esteemed him no better then a Magician; as they esteemed him also that was greater then Solomon; yet we know very well, that Solomons was a purer Candle then to be lighted at a Lake of fire and brimstone; ’twas not of Lucifers setting up, but it came from the Father of lights,2 ’twas lighted with Sun-beams from heaven.
And ’tis a modest and humble expression in him to call his understanding the Candle of the Lord, when as the world look’d upon him as a star of the first magnitude, nay as a Sun shining in the firmament, gilding the world with knowledge, scattering beams of light, sparkling out in wise and proverbial sayings, so that the bordering Princes and Nations are ready to adore such an orient light; and the Queen of the South thinks it no small happinesse to sit under the shadow of it. But yet to be sensible of his own narrow sphere, of his own finite compasse and influence, did not at all take from his lustre, but did rather set it off, and adde to his glory.
Thus that wise man among the Heathen Socrates did so farre complain of the weaknesse of his candle-light, as that he tels us his lamp would shew him nothing but his own darknesse. And though a wiser then Socrates be here, yet he is much in the same measure sensible of the dimnesse of his own intellectuals. And yet he was one that had made many discoveries with this Candle of the Lord, he had searcht into the mines, and several veins of knowledge; he had searcht into the hid treasures of wisdome, he had searcht into the depth of State-affairs, he had searched into the bowels of natural causes, into the Magnalia & Mysteria[mighty things and mysteries] of Nature; as if among many other wives he had espoused Nature also to himself, he had searcht into  the several tempers and intellectual complexions of men; he had searcht long enough with this Candle of the Lord, to see if he could finde any good under the Sun, he went with his Candle to finde out a summum bonum; he searcht into all the corners of being; and at length being sufficiently wearied, you may see him sitting down; you may hear him complaining that he had but spent and wasted the Candle of the Lord in vaine; for so much is implyed in רעוח דוה3 [feeding on wind], this was but depastio spiritus[vexation of spirit], as he himself calls it.4
Yet he was one that shewed others how they might make better improvement of their intellectual lamp; and this was his wisest advice that he gave upon his most mature and concocted thoughts, this was tanquam mox emoriturae lucernae supremus fulgor[the final gleam of a dying light]: that men would only follow this Candle of the Lord, as it directs them in the wayes of God, which are wayes of sweetnesse and pleasantnesse,5 for this was נל הארם6 [the whole duty of man] the very end why God set up such a light in the soul, that it might search out his Creatour with it.
And as for the minde of the words, though one would think they were very clear, and shining with their own light, yet interpreters are pleased to cloud them, to turn light it self into a Chaos, and to cast darknesse upon the face of the Text; like some unskilful ones, while they go about to snuff the Candle, they put it out, but we’l try whether it can be blown in again.
We shall reduce their several meanings to these three heads.
1. Some would have it thus. The Candle of the Lord is in the understanding of a man, as if the words did run thus, בנשמח אדם נר יחוחLucerna Domini in mente hominis,7 that is, God with his Candle discovers the very thoughts and intentions of men, he searches into every corner of the heart; he has lucernam in corde[a light in the heart], he spies out every Atome, he perceives the first starting of a motion, the first peeping out of a thought, but this, though it be very true, yet is nothing to the purpose here.
2. Some glosse upon the words thus, the understanding of man when ’tis enlightned with supernatural knowledge, is then the Candle of the Lord: but these do rather dictate to Solomon, and tell him what they would have him say; they do rather frame and fashion a Proverb to themselves, then explain his meaning: and these are they that are afraid to give natural light, and natural reason their due. But
3. I shall fully agree with them that take this for the proper and genuine meaning of the place, that God hath breathed into all the sons of men Reasonable souls which may serve as so many Candles to enlighten and direct them in the searching out their Creatour, in the discovering of other inferiour beings, and themselves also; and this is that which is here implyed by נשמח אדם[the understanding of a man], that same spiraculum vitae8 [breath of life], nay that  same immortal breath, that same rational breath quickened by God himself, and flowing from him as a pure derivation from his own being, and thus the Hebr. Doctors do still look upon this word נשמח[breath], as that which does expresse τὸννου̑νanimam rationis participem9 [the rational soul, the soul sharing reason], and (as they observe) it has a plain vicinity with שמים10 [heaven], but to be sure the being is derived from thence whether the word be or no. So then נשמח[breath] it points out the supreme region, the very top and flower of a reasonable soul, τὴντη̑ςΨυχη̑ςκορυφὴν; as נפש[soul] does speak nothing but the dregs and bottome of it, the inferiour and sensitive soul.11 The Apostle Paul in his learned speech to the Athenians mentions them both, and calls them very significantly, ζωὴνκαὶπνοὴν12 [life and breath], and so some also take that other place of the Apostle in that accurate discourse of his to the Corinthians,13 that which he calls Ψυχὴνζω̑σαν[living soul], they call it היח נפש[living soul], and that which he termes πνευ̑μαζωοποιου̑ν[quickening spirit], they render it נשמח חיים[breath of life], though it be true also that sometimes they take the word נפש[soul] in a more generical sense, for thus they tell us, there are in man 3 נשמוח14 [souls]. (1) הצמוחח the vegetable soul, a soul in the bud, the very blossome and flower of life. (2) הנהמיחanima bruti[the animal soul], a soul looking out at the window of sense. (3) החנמח נפש a soul sparkling and glittering with intellectuals, a soul crowned with light, and this is the same with נשמח[breath]. Now as for that other word רוח15 [spirit] though sometimes the minde of man his intellectual part be exprest by it, yet the word in its own nature is a great deal more large and comprehensive, and as it extends to some material beings, so it reaches to all spirituals; hence רוח יחוה רוח הקוש[the spirit of God: the spirit of holiness], and the Angels both good and bad frequently come under this name, but when ’tis put for the minde and spirit of man, yet I finde it very well differenced from נשמח[breath] for רוח[spirit] doth properly import impetum animi, motum mentis, the vigour and energy of the soul, τὸνθυμὸν[vitality], rather then τὸννου̑ν16 [the mind], and the Hebrew Doctors are pleased to tell us the several situations of these, רוח they say is in corde[in the heart], נשמחin cerebro[in the brain], נפשin hepate17 [in the liver]. Now though I know that some places in the New Testament which speak of soul and spirit meet with this interpretation, that spirit there is the purest eminency, the most refined part of the soul; yet this is not at all prejudicial to what we now speak of; for first, they may take it for the regenerate part of the soul, that which the Apostle cals the new creature;18 or else (2) suppose it be spoke of the soul in its natural condition, ’tis worth the considering then whether it would not be better rendered by נשמח[breath] then רוח[spirit], as נשמח here19 is rendered the spirit of a man; but (3) grant that רוח be more answerable to it, and that רוח should have the worth and precedency of נשמח which yet will scarce ever be shewn or explained;  yet this is very sure and unquestionable, that נשמח does very properly speak a reasonable soul, and that the more peculiarly, because when Moses speaks of that very moment when ’twas created, and breathed into man, he calls it נשמח חיים20 [the breath of life] and the Arab. interpreter keeps as close to the words, as so vast a Dialect will give leave, and stiles it נסמח אלחיאהhalitus vitae21 [the breath of life]. And ’tis somewhat worth the wond’ring at that that learned interpreter of Genesis,22 who is so well verst in Rabbinical writings should yet expound that of the sensitive; but they run as far into the other extreme that would understand נשמח of a soul advanc’d above it self by supernatural principles, and I think this sense will scarce be owned by any that can construe Hebrew.
So then, these words are a brief commendation of natural Light, of the Light of Reason. For the farther clearing of which we must enquire. (1) What Nature is. (2) What the Law of Nature is. (3) What the Light of Nature is.