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proper sense of the place, and respectively towards that present occasion whereupon the words were uttered ; or in precise congruity or contexture with the words before or after; or in contemplation of the principal scope of the place; but have in themselves, not only totally or collectively, but distributively in clauses and words, infinite springs and streams of doctrine to water the church in every part ;and therefore as the literal sense is as it were the main stream or river; so the moral sense chiefly, and sometimes the allegorical or typical, are they whereof the church hath most use: not that I wish men to be bold in allegories, or indulgent or light in allusions ; but that I do much condemn that interpretation of the Scripture which is only after the manner as men use to interpret a profane book.
In this part touching the exposition of the Scriptures, I can report no deficience; but by way of remembrance this I will add : In perusing books of divinity, I find many 2 books of controversies; and
; many of common places and treatises ; 3 a mass of positive divinity, as it is made an art; a number of sermons and lectures, and many prolix commentaries upon the Scriptures, with harmonies and concordances : but that form of writing in divinity, which in my judgment is of all others most rich and precious, is positive divinity collected upon particular texts of Scriptures in brief observations; not dilated into common places, not chasing after controversies, not reduced into method of art; a thing abounding in ser1 The rest of the paragraph is omitted in the translation. 2 In the translation he says too many.
8 also “ cases of conscience” – which he especially commends further on, in a passage not translated.
mons, which will vanish, but defective in books, which will remain ; and a thing wherein this age excelleth. For I am persuaded, and I may speak it with an Absit invidia verbo, (meaning no offence,] and no ways in derogation of antiquity, but as in a good emulation between the vine and the olive, that if the choice and best of those observations upon texts of Scriptures which have been made dispersedly in sermons within this your Majesty's island 1 of Britain by the space of Emanations these forty years and more (leaving out the Scripturarum largeness of exhortations and applications
thereupon) had been set down in a continuance, it had been the best work in divinity which had been written since the apostles' times.?
The matter informed by divinity is of two kinds; matter of belief and truth of opinion, and matter of service and adoration ; which is also judged and directed by the former; the one being as the internal soul of religion, and the other as the external body thereof. And therefore the heathen religion was not only a worship of idols, but the whole religion was an idol in itself; for it had no soul, that is, no certainty of belief or confession ; as a man may well think, con
! So edd. 1629 and 1633. The original has ilands.
2 This last sentence is omitted in the translation, – no doubt as being inadmissible at Rome. But in its place is introduced one of Bacon's happiest illustrations, and one which is not, I think, to be found anywhere in his own English. “Certainly (he says) as we find it in wines, that those which flow freely from the first treading of the grape are sweeter than those which are squeezed out by the wine-press, because the latter taste somewhat of the stone and the rind; so are those doctrines most wholesome and sweet which ooze out of the Scriptures when gently crushed, and are not forced into controversies and common places."
The next six paragraphs are entirely omitted, - as belonging to that part of the subject with which he has professed in the beginning that he will not meddle.
sidering the chief doctors of their church were the poets; and the reason was, because the heathen gods were no jealous gods, but were glad to be admitted into part, as they had reason. Neither did they respect the pureness of heart, so they might have external honour and rites.
But out of these two do result and issue four main branches of divinity; Faith, Manners, Liturgy, and Government. Faith containeth the doctrine of the nature of God, of the attributes of God, and of the works of God. The nature of God consisteth of three persons in unity of Godhead. The attributes of God are either common to the Deity, or respective to the persons. The works of God summary are two, that of the Creation, and that of the Redemption ; and both these works, as in total they appertain to the unity of the Godhead, so in their parts they refer to the three persons: that of the Creation, in the mass of the matter to the Father ; in the disposition of the form to the Son; and in the continuance and conservation of the being to the Holy Spirit: so that of the Redemption, in the election and counsel to the Father; in the whole act and consummation to the Son; and in the application to the Holy Spirit; for by the Holy Ghost was Christ conceived in flesh, and by the Holy Ghost are the elect regenerate in spirit. This work likewise we consider either effectually in the elect; or privatively l in the reprobate; or according to appearance in the visible church.
For Manners, the doctrine thereof is contained in the law, which discloseth sin. The law itself is divided, according to the edition thereof, into the law of Nature, the law Moral, and the law Positive; and according to the style, into Negative and Affirmative, Prohibitions and Commandments. Sin, in the matter and subject thereof, is divided according to the commandments; in the form thereof, it referreth to the three persons in Deity: sins of Infirmity against the Father, whose more special attribute is Power; sins of Ignorance against the Son, whose attribute is Wisdom; and sins of Malice against the Holy Ghost, whose attribute is Grace or Love. In the motions of it, it either moveth to the right hand or to the left ; either to blind devotion, or to profane and libertine transgression ; either in imposing restraint where God granteth liberty, or in taking liberty where God imposeth restraint. In the degrees and progress of it, it divideth itself into thought, word, or act. And in this part I commend much the deducing of the law of God to cases of conscience; for that I take indeed to be a breaking, and not exhibiting whole, of the bread of life. But that which quickeneth both these doctrines of faith and manners, is the elevation and consent of the heart; whereunto appertain books of exhortation, holy meditation, Christian resolution, and the like.
i The original, and also edd. 1629 and 1633, have privately.
For the Liturgy or service, it consisteth of the reciprocal acts between God and man; which, on the part of God, are the preaching of the word and the sacraments, which are seals to the covenant, or as the visible word ; and on the part of man,' invocation of the name of God, and under the law, sacrifices, which were as visible prayers or confessions : but now the adoration being in spiritu et veritate, [in spirit and in truth,] there remaineth only vituli labiorum, [offerings of the lips ;] although the use of holy vows of thankfulness and retribution may be accounted also as sealed petitions.
1 So edd. 1629 and 1633. The original has mans.
And for the Government of the church, it consisteth of the patrimony of the church, the franchises of the church, and the offices and jurisdictions of the church, and the laws of the church directing the whole; all which have two considerations, the one in themselves, the other how they stand compatible and agreeable to the civil estate.
This matter of divinity is handled either in form of instruction of truth, or in form of confutation of falsehood. The declinations from religion, besides the privative, which is atheism and the branches thereof, are three; Heresies, Idolatry, and Witchcraft ; Heresies, when we serve the true God with a false worship; Idolatry, when we worship false gods, supposing them to be true ; and Witchcraft, when we adore false gods, knowing them to be wicked and false. For so your Majesty doth excellently well observe, that Witchcraft is the height of Idolatry. And yet we see though these be true degrees, Samuel teacheth us that they are all of a nature, when there is once a receding from the word of God; for so he saith, Quasi peccatum ariolandi est repugnare, et quasi scelus idololatrice nolle acquiescere ; [rebellion is as the sin of Witchcraft, and Stubbornness as the crime of Idolatry.]
These things I have passed over so briefly because I can report no deficience concerning them : for I can find no space or ground that lieth vacant and unsown in the matter of divinity ; so diligent have men been, either in sowing of good seed or in sowing of tares.
1 So edd. 1629 and 1633. The original has primitive.