Usefulness

Ray saw God’s design in the uses of creation to humankind. Yet he did not see usefulness as the only purpose of creatures, believing that they have intrinsic value and relation to God, independent of man.

“ For the old stale Pretence of the Atheists, that Things were first made fortuitously, and afterwards their Usefulness was observed or discovered, can have no Place here”
Wisdom of God p.361

“ ... they were created intentionally, I do not say only, for those Uses.”
Wisdom of God p.161

“ These several Ranks and Degrees of Creatures are subservient one to another; and the most of them serviceable, and all, some way or other, useful to Man; so that he could not well have been without them. Yet do I not think, that he made all these Creatures to no other End, but to be serviceable to Man, but also to partake themselves of his overflowing Goodness, and to enjoy their own Beings.”
Wisdom of God p.367

“ I shall omit the consideration of other minerals, and of salts and earths, because I have nothing to say of their uses, but only such as refer to Man, which I cannot affirm to have been the sole or primary end of the formation of them.”
Wisdom of God p.98

Not only for USE 175-176 But to leave that, it is a generally received Opinion, that all this visible World was created for Man; that Man is the end of the Creation, as if there were no other end of any Creature, but some way or other to be serviceable to Man. This Opinion is as old as Tully; for, saith he, in his Second Book De Nat. Deorum. Principio ipse Mundus Deorum hominumque causa factus est: quaeque in eo sunt omnia ea parata ad fructum hominumu et inventa sunt. But though this be vulgarly receiv’d, yet wise Men now-a-days think otherwise. Dr. More affirms, "That Creatures are made to enjoy themselves as well as to serve us; and that it’s a gross piece of Ignorance and Rusticity to think otherwise. And in another Place: "This comes only out of Pride and Ignorance, or a haughty Presumption, because we are encouraged to believe, that, in some Sense, all Things are made for Man; therefore to think that they are not at all made for themselves. But he that pronounceth this, is ignorant of the Nature of Man and the Knowledge of Things. For if a good Man be merciful to his Beast, then surely a good God is bountiful and benign, and takes Pleasure that all his Creatures enjoy themselves, that have Life and Sense, and are capable of Enjoyment. But be this so, there are infinite other Creatures without this Earth, which no considerate Man can think, were made only for Man, and have no other use. For my part I cannot believe, that all the Things in the World were so made for Man, that they have no other use. 177 For it seems to me highly absurd and unreasonable, to think that Bodies of such vast Magnitude as the fix’d Stars were only made to twinkle to us; nay, a multitude of them there are, that do not so much as twinkle, being either by Reason of their Distance or of their Smalness, altogether Invisible to the naked Eye, and only discoverable by a Telescope; and it is likely, perfecter Telescopes than we yet have, may bring to light many more; and who knows, how many lie out of the Ken of the best Telescope that can possibly be made? And I believe there are many Species in Nature, even in this sublunary World, which were never yet taken Notice of by Man, and consequently of no Use to him, which yet we are not to think were created in vain; but may be found out by, and of Use to those who shall live after us in future Ages. But though in this Sense it be not true, that all Things were made for Man; yet thus far it is, that all the Creatures in the World may be some way or other Useful to us, at least to exercise our Wits and Understandings, in considering and contemplating of them, and So afford us Subject of admiring and glorifying their and our Maker. Seeing then, we do believe, and assert, that all Things were in some Sence made for us, we are thereby oblig’d to make Use of them for those Purposes for which they serve us, else we frustrate this End of their Creation. Now some of them serve only to exercise our Minds: Many others there 178 be, which might probably serve us to good Purpose, whose Uses are not discovered, nor are they ever like to be, without Pains and Industry. True it is, many of the greatest Inventions have been accidentally stumbled upon, but not by Men, Supine and Careless, but busie and inquisitive. Some Reproach methinks it is to Learned Men, that there should be so many Animals in the World, whose outward shape is not yet taken Notice of; or describ’d, much less their Way of Generation, Food, Manners, Uses, observed. Methinks, by all this Provision for the Use and Service of Man, the Almighty interpretatively speaks to him in this manner: I have now placed thee in a spacious and well-furnished World, I have endued thee with an ability of Understanding what is beautiful and proportionable, and have made that which is so, agreeable and delightful to thee; I have provided thee with Materials whereon to exercise and employ thy Art and Strength: I have given thee an excellent Instrument, the Hand, accomodated to make use of them all; I have distinguished the Earth into Hills and Valleys and Plains, and Meadows, and Woods; all these Parts capable of Culture and Improvement by thy Industry; [I have committed to thee for thy assistance in thy Labours of Ploughing, and Carrying, and Drawing, and Travel, the laborious Ox, the patient Ass, and the strong and serviceable Horse:] I have created a Multitude of Seeds for thee to make choice out of them, of what is most pleasant to thy Taste, and of most wholsome and plentiful Nourishment; I have also made great Variety of Trees, bearing Fruit both for Food and Physick, those too capable of being meliorated and improved by Transplantation, Stercoration, Insition, Pruning, Watering and other Arts and Devices. Till and Manure thy Fields, sow them with thy Seeds, extirpate noxious and unprofitable Herbs, guard them from the invasions and spoil of Beasts, clear and fence in thy Meadows and Pastures; dress and prune thy Vines, and so rank and dispose them as is most suitable to the Climate; Plant thee Orchards, with all Sorts of Fruit-Trees, in such order as may be most beautiful to the Eye, and most comprehensive of Plants; Gardens for culinary Herbs, and all Kinds of Salletting; for delectable Flowers, to gratifie the Eye with their agreeable Colours and Figures, and thy Scent with their fragrant Odors; for Odoriferous and Ever-green Shrubs and Suffrutices; for Exotick and Medicinal Plants of all sorts and dispose of them in that comely Order, as may be both pleasant to behold, and commodious for access.

In his botanical works Ray recorded some observations and information which was dietetic or practical. Ray checked his information much more carefully than many herbal writers of earlier and later generations. Raven says that Ray’s works included a "huge collection of prescriptions and a long list of diseases with the herbs appropriate to their treatment.”

Chenopodium bonus-henricus:
“ the asparagus or tender sprout of this is put into boiling water, cooked for a quarter of an hour, and eaten with butter and salt is a pleasant dish not unlike ordinary asparagus ”

Tragopogon pratensis:
“ its roots cooked until they are tender and served with butter like parsnips: the Italians make much use of this plant and call it Sassefrica and Sassitica ”

Artemisia absinthium:
“ those who go about the country looking for plants, if they happen upon acid and nasty-tasting beer (cerevisia) can improve it both for the palate and for digestion by an infusion of the Common Wormwood. Bitterness removes acidity even better than sugar ”

Rhamnus catharticus:
“ if the berries are gathered in autumn, painters get from them a colour called in English Sap-green ”

Aspidium filixmas:
“ I am reliably informed that in Shropshire it is often used when dried instead of hops in the brewing of beer ”


105 June 30 1697 A gentleman of my acquaintance having a horse.. troubled with that stubborn disease... one day riding abroad on this horse to take te air and being in discourse with gentleman he met in a place where grew a great quantity of Hemlock, he observed the horse began to feed thereon, but checked him, and was returning home; when calling to ind that some animals are sometimes directed by what they call instinct to proper remedies, he rode back to the same placewhere the horese fell upon the Hemlock greedily and ate it all up. Within three days his sores dried up and he recovered very fast.”
Further Correspondence p.

Ray’s awareness of the potential value of biodiversity was far ahead of his time.

“ Of what great Use all these, and innumerable other Plants, are to Mankind in the several Parts of Life, few or none can be ignorant; besides the known Uses in Curing Diseases, in Feeding and Cloathing the Poor, in Building, in Dying, in all Mechanicks there may be as many more not yet discoverd, and which may be reserv’d on purpose to exercise the Faculties bestow’d on Man, to find out what is necessary, convenient, pleasant, or profitable to him.”
Wisdom of God p.212

“ Many of these Creatures may be useful to us, whose Uses are not yet discovered, but reserved for the Generations to come, as the Uses of some we now know are but of late Invention, and were unknown to our Forefathers. And this must needs be so, because, as I said before, the World is too great for any Man, or Generation of Men, by his, or their utmost Endeavours, to discover and find out all its Store and Furniture, all its Riches and Treasures.”
Wisdom of God p.370


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