Bacon eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 253 pages of information about Bacon.
as his sense of the truth and greatness of nature; they were interlaced together, and could not be separated, though they were to be studied separately and independently.  The call, repeated through all his works from the earliest to the last, Da Fidel quae Fidel sunt, was a warning against confusing the two, but was an earnest recognition of the claims of each.  The solemn religious words in which his prefaces and general statements often wind up with thanksgiving and hope and prayer, are no mere words of course; they breathe the spirit of the deepest conviction.  It is true that he takes the religion of Christendom as he finds it.  The grounds of belief, the relation of faith to reason, the profounder inquiries into the basis of man’s knowledge of the Eternal and Invisible, are out of the circle within which he works.  What we now call the philosophy of religion is absent from his writings.  In truth, his mind was not qualified to grapple with such questions.  There is no sign in his writings that he ever tried his strength against them; that he ever cared to go below the surface into the hidden things of mind, and what mind deals with above and beyond sense—­those metaphysical difficulties and depths, as we call them, which there is no escaping, and which are as hard to explore and as dangerous to mistake as the forces and combinations of external nature.  But it does not follow, because he had not asked all the questions that others have asked, that he had not thought out his reasonable faith.  His religion was not one of mere vague sentiment:  it was the result of reflection and deliberate judgment.  It was the discriminating and intelligent Church of England religion of Hooker and Andrewes, which had gone back to something deeper and nobler in Christianity than the popular Calvinism of the earlier Reformation; and though sternly hostile to the system of the Papacy, both on religious and political grounds, attempted to judge it with knowledge and justice.  This deliberate character of his belief is shown in the remarkable Confession of Faith which he left behind him:  a closely-reasoned and nobly-expressed survey of Christian theology—­“a summa theologiae, digested into seven pages of the finest English of the days when its tones were finest.”  “The entire scheme of Christian theology,” as Mr. Spedding says, “is constantly in his thoughts; underlies everything; defines for him the limits of human speculation; and, as often as the course of inquiry touches at any point the boundary line, never fails to present itself.  There is hardly any occasion or any kind of argument into which it does not at one time or another incidentally introduce itself.”  Doubtless it was a religion which in him was compatible, as it has been in others, with grave faults of temperament and character.  But it is impossible to doubt that it was honest, that it elevated his thoughts, that it was a refuge and stay in the times of trouble.


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Bacon from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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