« AnteriorContinuar »
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 reason 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.
COMPOSED BY SIR FRANCIS BACON, BARON OF VERULAM AND VISCOUNT ST. ALBAN.1
The first Prayer, called by his Lordship
THE STUDENT'S PRAYER.
To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications; that He, remembering the calamities of mankind and the pilgrimage of this our life, in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of his goodness, for the alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that Human things may not prejudice such as are Divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, anything of incredulity or intellectual night may arise in our minds towards the Divine Mysteries. But rather that by our mind 1 Baconiana, p. 181.
throughly cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject and perfectly given up to the Divine Oracles, there may be given unto Faith the things that are Faith's. Amen.
The second Prayer, called by his Lordship
THE WRITER'S PRAYER.
THOU, O Father! who gavest the Visible Light as the first-born of thy Creatures, and didst pour into man the Intellectual Light as the top and consummation of thy workmanship, be pleased to protect and govern this work, which coming from thy Goodness returneth to thy Glory. Thou, after thou hadst reviewed the works which thy hands had made, beheldest that everything was very good; and thou didst rest with complacency in them. But Man reflecting on the works which he had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of Spirit, and could by no means acquiesce in them. Wherefore if we labour in thy works with the sweat of our brows, thou wilt make us partakers of thy Vision and thy Sabbath. We humbly beg that this mind may be steadfastly in us, and that thou, by our hands and also by the hands of others on whom thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largeness of new alms to thy family of Mankind. These things we commend to thy everlasting love, by our Jesus, thy Christ, God with us. Amen.
Made and used by the late Lord Chancellor.1
O ETERNAL God, and most merciful Father in Jesus Christ in whom thou hast made.2 Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts be now and ever gracious in thy sight, and acceptable unto thee, O Lord, our God, our strength, and our Redeemer.
O Eternal God, and most merciful Father in Jesus Christ, in whom thou hast made a covenant of grace and mercy with all those that come unto thee in him; in his name and mediation we humbly prostrate ourselves before the throne of thy mercies' seat, acknowledging that by the breach of all thy holy laws and commandments, we are become wild olive branches, strangers to thy covenant of grace; we have defaced in ourselves thy sacred image imprinted in us by creation; we have sinned against heaven and before thee, and are no more worthy to be called thy children. O admit us into the place even of hired servants. Lord, thou hast formed us in our mothers' wombs, thy providence hath hitherto watched over us, and preserved us unto this period of time: O stay not the course of thy mercies and loving-kindness towards us: have mercy upon us, O Lord, for thy dear Son Christ Jesus sake, who is the way, the truth, and the life. In him, O Lord, we appeal from thy justice to thy mercy, beseeching thee in his name, and for his sake
1 Remains, p. 101.
2 So in the original. There has been some confusion between the first and second paragraphs; but one cannot well tell where it begins.