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the deeps of Satan; that he may speak with authority and true insinuation. Hence is the precept: Try all things, and hold that which is good: which induceth a discerning election out of an examination whence nothing at all is excluded. Out of the same fountain ariseth that direction: Be you wise as Serpents, and innocent as Doves. There are neither teeth nor stings, nor venom, nor wreaths and folds of serpents, which ought not to be all known, and as far as examination doth lead, tried: neither let any man here fear infection or pollution; for the sun entereth into sinks and is not defiled. Neither let any man think that herein he tempteth God; for his diligence and generality of examination is commanded; and God is sufficient to preserve you immaculate and pure.1
OF THE EXALTATION OF CHARITY.
If I rejoiced at the destruction of him who hated me, and lifted up myself when evil found him.
The protestation of Job. To love them that love us is the charity of the Publicans, upon contract of utility but to be kindly disposed towards our enemies is one of the highest points of the Christian law, and an imitation of divinity. Yet again of this charity there are many degrees. Whereof the first is to forgive our enemies when they repent: and of this there is found even among the more generous kinds of wild beasts some shadow or image: for lions also are said to be no longer savage towards those who yield and pros
1 I have here merely transcribed the old translation; which seems to me particularly well done, and being rather freer and fuller than the others, may possibly have some of Bacon's own hand in it.
trate themselves. The second degree is to forgive our enemies though they be more obstinate, and without offerings of reconciliation. The third degree is, not only to accord pardon and grace, but to confer upon them favours and benefits. Nevertheless all these degrees have, or may have, something in them of ostentation, or at least of magnanimity, rather than of pure charity. For when a man feels that virtue is proceeding from him, it may be that he feels a pride in it, and is taking delight more in the fruit of his own virtue than in the welfare and good of his neighbour. But if evil overtake your enemy from elsewhere, and you in the inmost recesses of your heart are grieved and distressed, and feel no touch of joy, as thinking that the day of your revenge and redress has come; this I account to be the summit and exaltation of Charity.
OF MODERATION OF CARES.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
There ought to be a measure kept in human cares. Else are they both unprofitable, as oppressing the mind and confounding the judgment; and profane, as savouring of a mind which promises to itself a kind of perpetuity in things of this world. For we ought to be creatures of to-day, by reason of the shortness of life, not of to-morrow: but, as he says, seizing the present time for to-morrow will have its turn and become today and therefore it is enough if we take thought for the present. Not that moderate cares, whether for a man's family or for the public or for business committed to his charge, are reprehended. But herein is a twofold excess. The first, when we carry our cares to too
great length and into times too far off, as if we could bind divine providence by our arrangements; a thing which even among the Heathen was ever held insolent and unlucky. For it has commonly been seen that those who have attributed much to fortune and held themselves alert and vigilant to use occasions as they present themselves, have enjoyed great prosperity; whereas deep schemers who have trusted to have all things cared for and considered, have been unfortunate. The second kind of excess is, when we dwell on our cares longer than is necessary for just deliberation and decision. For which of us is there who cares only so much as is necessary that he may know what to do, or know that he can do nothing: and does not turn the same things over and over in his mind, and hang uselessly in the same circle of cogitations, till he loses himself in them? Which kind of cares is most adverse both to divine and human considerations.
OF EARTHLY HOPE.
Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire.
The sense which takes everything simply as it is makes a better mental condition and estate than those imaginations and wanderings of the mind. For it is the nature of the human mind, even in the gravest wits, the moment it receives an impression of anything, to sally forth and spring forward and expect to find everything else in harmony with it: if it be an impression of good, then it is prone to indefinite hope; if of evil, to fear. Whence it is said,
By her own tales is Hope full oft deceived.
and on the other hand,
In doubtful times Fear still forbodes the worst.
In fear however there is some advantage: it prepares endurance and sharpens industry.
The task can show no face that's strange to me:
Each chance I have pondered, and in thought rehearsed.
But in hope there seems to be no use. For what avails that anticipation of good? If the good turn out less than you hoped for, good though it be, yet because it is not so good, it seems to you more like a loss than a gain, by reason of the overhope. If neither more nor less, but so; the event being equal and answerable to the hope; yet the flower of it having been by that hope already gathered, you find it a stale thing and almost distasteful. If the good be beyond the hope, then no doubt there is a sense of gain: true: yet had it not been better to gain the whole by hoping not at all, than the difference by hoping too little? And such is the effect of hope in prosperity. But in adversity it enervates the true strength of the mind. For matter of hope cannot always be forthcoming; and if it fail, though but for a moment, the whole strength and support of the mind goes with it. Moreover the mind suffers in dignity, when we endure evil only by self-deception and looking another way, and not by fortitude and judgment. And therefore it was an idle fiction of the poets to make Hope the antidote of human diseases, because it mitigates the pain of them; whereas it is in fact an inflammation and exasperation of them rather, multiplying and making them break out afresh. So it is nevertheless, that most men give themselves up entirely to imaginations of hope and these wanderings of the
mind, and thankless for the past, scarce attending to the present, ever young, hang merely upon the future. I beheld all that walk under the sun with the next youth that shall rise after him; which is a sore disease and a great madness of the mind. You will ask perhaps if it be not better, when a man knows not what to expect, that he should divine well of the future, and rather hope than distrust, seeing that hope makes the mind more tranquil. Certainly in all delay and expectation to keep the mind tranquil and steadfast by the good government and composure of the same, I hold to be the chief firmament of human life; but such tranquillity as depends upon hope I reject, as light and unsure. Not but it is fit to foresee and presuppose upon sound and sober conjecture good things as well as evil, that we may the better fit our actions to the probable event: only this must be the work of the understanding and judgment, with a just inclination of the feeling. But who is there whose hopes are so ordered that when once he has concluded with himself out of a vigilant and steady consideration of probabilities that better things are coming, he has not dwelt upon the very anticipation of good, and indulged in that kind of thought as in a pleasant dream? And this it is which makes the mind light, frothy, unequal, wandering. Therefore all hope is to be employed upon the life to come in heaven but here on earth, by how much purer is the sense of things present, without infection or tincture of imagination, by so much wiser and better is the soul.
Long hope to cherish in so short a span
Befits not man.