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concerning the will of God which are astray and alien from the Scriptures. Atheism and Theomachy rebels and mutinies against the power of God; not trusting to his word, which reveals his will, because it does not believe in his power, to whom all things are possible. Now the heresies which spring from this source appear to be more heinous than the rest: for in civil government also it is a more atrocious thing to deny the power and majesty of the prince, than to slander his reputation. But of the heresies which deny the power of God, there are, besides simple atheism, three degrees; and they have all one and the same mystery (for all antichristianism works in a mystery, that is under a shadow of good); namely to discharge the will of God from all imputation of evil. The first degree is of those who set up two equal and contrary principles, at war with one another, one of good the other of ill. The second is of those who think it too injurious to the majesty of God to allow of an active and affirmative principle being set up against him; and therefore reject such boldness; but nevertheless bring in a negative and privative principle in opposition to him. For they suppose it to be the inherent natural and substantive operation of matter itself and the creature, to tend and fall back of itself into confusion and nothingness: not knowing that it is no less the work of omnipotence to make nothing of something, than to make something of nothing. The third degree is of those who limit and restrain the former opinion to human actions only, which partake of sin: which actions they suppose to depend substantively and without any chain of causes upon the inward will and choice of man; and who give a wider range to the knowledge of God than to his power; or rather to that part of God's power (for knowledge itself is power) whereby he knows, than to that whereby he works and acts; suffering him to foreknow some things as an unconcerned looker on, which he does not predestine and preordain: a notion not unlike the figment which Epicurus introduced into the philosophy of Democritus, to get rid of fate and make room for fortune; namely the sidelong motion of the Atom; which has ever by the wiser sort been accounted a very empty device. But the fact is that whatever does not depend upon God as author and principle, by links and subordinate degrees, the same will be instead of God, and a new principle and kind of usurping God. And therefore that opinion is rightly rejected as treason against the majesty and
power of God. And yet for all that it is very truly said that God is not the author of evil; not because he is not author, but because not of evil.
OF THE CHURCH AND THE SCRIPTURES.
Thou shalt protect them in thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues.
Contradictions of tongues are found everywhere out of the tabernacle of God: turn which way you will therefore, you will find no end of controversies unless you betake yourself thither. True, you all say-namely to the unity of the Church. But observe. In the tabernacle was the ark, and in the ark was the testimony or tables of the law. Why do you talk to me of the tabernacle, which is the shell; without the testimony, which is the kernel? The tabernacle was ordained for the custody and handing down of the testimony. In like manner to the Church is committed the custody and handing down of the Scriptures: but the soul of the tabernacle is the testimony.
Of the three prayers which follow, the two first come from the Baconiana, and would be accepted as genuine compositions of Bacon's on Tenison's authority, even if we did not find Latin versions of them in works published by himself. The third is of more doubtful authenticity; being attributed to Bacon on no better authority (so far as I know) than that of the unknown editor of the Remains; who prints it at the end of the volume, immediately after the Confession of Faith. That Dr. Rawley makes no mention of it, is not perhaps to be taken as a proof that he thought it not genuine; because it belongs to a class of compositions which he did not consider proper for publication; and Tenison's silence may mean no more than that he had no evidence that it was genuine; for if he had found any copy of it among Bacon's papers, he would probably either have printed it with the other two, or referred to it as already printed. The external evidence therefore cannot be considered conclusive either way; but inclines if anything against it. Nor does the internal evidence help much to settle the question. The language of devotion is a common language and tends to drown the distinctions of personal style. I cannot say that there is any thing in it which strikes me as decidedly unlike Bacon; and my chief reasons for doubting that it is his, is that neither does it contain anything which strikes me as decidedly like him. And with this mark of doubt upon it, it may take its place with the others.
A fourth prayer of Bacon's there is, of the authenticity of which I have no doubt. But as its peculiar significance depends upon the occasion on which it was composed, I reserve it for its place among the Occasional Works.