From William Spurstowe, The Spiritual Chymist, 1666. The prior post is this series is here.
[The “philosopher’s stone” was a supposed stone or process that could something expensive such as lead into something expensive such as gold. A “base” metal would be inferior, less expense metal. The process was called “sublimation” of metals. As noted, one might expend an entire fortune in this fruitless experiments in chemistry.]
This lemma, or title, may happily as much affect such to make gold their God as the sight of the star did the Wise Men, hoping that it will be both a light and a guide to the discovery of that rare and matchless secret of turning the more base and inferior metals into the more noble: iron into silver, and brass into gold, and so enrich them with artificial Indies [The “Indies”, India were a source of riches by means of trading.].
But I can scarce resolve myself whether the Philosopher’s Stone which is thus framed for wonders, be not rather a speculation in absolute reality, or an attempt tried by many, rather than achievement attained by few or any.
How many have melted down ample revenues in their crucibles, and while they have with much labor sought the sublimation of metals, have sunk themselves into the deepest beggary? And how have others consume their time, if not wasted their estates in a fruitless pursuit of it? And yet have seen no other change than what age and care has made in them, turning their golden hair into silver hair; or at best have gleaned up some few experiments only, and have not compensated their cost and travel.
But what if any man, after a long search and study, can Archimedes like cry out joyfully that it is found? Yea, what if every man, who has busied his thoughts, and employed his time in diving into this mystery should be able to effect such a change and to multiply his treasures as the sand?
Yet how worthless and inconsiderable would such productions of his philosophical stone be found, as compared within noble and transcendent effects of the Divine, or Theological Stone, which Christ promised in Revelation [2:17] to him that overcomes: whose worth as it is far greater [than the Philosopher’s Stone], and the way to obtain it is more facile and certain — it being not a work of labor, but a gift of grace.
This stone is of such power and energy, that whosoever is possessed of it, can have nothing befal him, which he changes and turns not to his good.
It turns all temporal losses into spiritual advantages;
all crosses into blessings;
all afflictions into comforts;
it dignifies reproach and ignomy;
it changes the hardship of a prison into the delights of a palace;
it is a heavenly anodyne against all pains, and makes the soul to possess itself in patience in every condition;
it is a panacea, a universal salve for every sore, to all accidents that can befall a man. It is the seal to the wax, putting up on them a new stamp and figure and making them to be what they were not before, and what they could never have been without it.
Such it is that he who has it, has all good.
And he that lacks it (whatever else he seems to possess) has little lees than nothing.
Who then can without mourning as well as wondering, pity the prodigious folly of those men who labor in a continual fire to effect the stone of the transmutation of metals, and yet deem this divine stone scarce worth the begging of God in prayer?
Is this wisdom to toil in the refining of clay, and to be able to make a dull piece of earth to shine, and then to value our happiness by it?
Is this wisdom to set a low rate upon what God has promised to give, and then to highly esteemed but we can do?
Oh Lord, if this be the world’s wisdom,
let me become a fool.
I had rather have this divine stone of thy promise,
than all the treasures that nature and art can yield.
Let the mountains be turned into Gold,
the rocks into diamonds,
the sand into pearls,
yet this Stone, with the new name written in it, is to me more desirable than all,
as being a sure pledge of life and happiness and in heaven