In Two Parts VIZ.
The Heavenly Bodies, Elements, Meteors, Fossils, Vegetables, Animals, (Beasts, Birds, Fishes, and Insects); more particularly in the Body of the Earth, its Figure, Motion, and Consistency; and in the admirable Structure of the Bodies of Man, and other Animals; as also in their Generation, &c. With Answers to some Objections.
By John Ray, late Fellow of the Royal Society.
The Seventh Edition, Corrected.
London: Printed by R. Harbin, for William Innys, at the Princes-Arms in St Pauls Church Yard . 1717.
To the much Honoured and truly Religious
Lady Lettice Wendy,
Wendy in Cambridgeshire
Two or Three Reasons induce me to present this Discourse to your Ladyship, and to make choice of you for its Patroness: First, Because I owe it to the Liberality of your honoured Brother, that I have this Leisure to write any Thing. Secondly, Because also your many and signal Favours, seeing I am not in a Capacity to requite them, seem to exact from me at least a Publick Acknowledgment, which such a Dedication gives me an Opportunity to make. Thirdly, Because of such Kind of Writings, I know not where to choose a more able Judge, or more candid Reader. I am Sensible that you do so much abhor any Thing that looks like Flattery, that out of an Excess of Modesty, you cannot patiently bear the hearing of your own just Commendations; and therefore, should I enlarge upon that Subject, I know I should have but little Thanks for my Pains.
Indeed, you have much better Motives to do well, than the Praise of Men, the Favour of God, Peace of Conscience, the Hope and Expectation of a future Reward of Eternal Happiness and, therefore, I had rather write of you to others, to provoke them to imitate so excellent an Example, than to Yourself, to encourage You in Your Christian Course, and to fortify You in Your Athletick Conflicts with the greatest of Temporal Evils, Bodily Pain and Anguish; tho I do not know why You should reject any Consideration that may conduce to support You under so heavy Pressures, and of so long Continuance; of which, to ingenuous Natures, true Honour, that is, the current Testimony and Approbation of good Men, is not the meanest. No less Man than St. Augustin was doubtful, whether the Extremity of Bodily Pain were not the greatest Evil that Humane Nature was capable of suffering:
Nay (saith he) I was sometimes compelled to consent to Cornelius Celsus, that it was so; neither did his Reasons seem to me absurd; we being compounded of two Parts, Soul and Body, of which the first is the better, the latter the worser: The greatest Good must be the best thing beionging to the better Part that is Wisdom and the greatest Evil the worst Thing incident to the worser Part (the Body) that is Pain.
Now, tho I know not whether this Reason be firm and conclusive, yet I am of Accord with him, that of all the Evils we are sensible of in this World, it is the foremost; the most resolute Patience being baffled and prostrated by a fierce and lasting Paroxysm of the Gout, or Stone, or Cholick, and compelled to yield to its furious Insults, and confess itself vanquished, the Soul being unable to divert, or to do any thing else but pore upon the Pain. And, therefore, those Stoical Vaunts of their Wise Mans being happy in Perilluss Bull, I utterly reject and explode, as vain Rhodomontades, and chimerical Figments; for that there never was such a Wise Man among them, or indeed could be: Yet do I not say, that the Patience of a Good Man can be so far conquerd by the sharpest and severest Torments, as to be compelled to deny or blaspheme God, or his Religion; yea, or so much as to complain of his Injustice, tho perchance he may be brought with Job to curse his Day, yet not curse his God, as his Wife tempted him to do.
Now that the great Agwnothetes, and Brabeutes, the most just Judge and Rewarder; would be pleasd so to qualify and mitigate your Sufferings, as not to exceed the Measure of your Strength and Patience, or else arm you with such an high Degree of Christian Fortitude, as to be able to grapple with the most Extreme; and when You have finishd Your Course in this World, grant You a placid and easy Passage out of it, and dignify You as one of His Victors, with a Crown of Eternal Glory and Felicity, is the Prayer of,
in all Service,