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disposition of these times at this instant to peace; the consumption of all that can be said in controversies of religion, which have so much diverted men from other sciences; and the inseparable propriety of time, which is ever more and more to disclose truth–I cannot but be raised to this persuasion, that this third period of time will far surpass that of the Græcian and Roman learning: only if men will know their own strength and their own weakness both; and take one from the other, light of invention, and not fire of contradiction; and esteem of the inquisition of truth as of an enterprise, and not as of a quality or ornament; and employ wit and magnificence to things of worth and excellency, and not to things vulgar and of popular estimation. As for my labours,' continues Bacon, 'if any man shall please himself or others in the reprehension of them, they shall make that ancient and patient request, “ Verbera, sed audi;” let men reprehend them, so they observe and
weigh them; for the appeal is lawful, though it may be it shall not be needful, from the first cogitations of men to their second, and from the nearer times to the times farther off.'
Now let us come,' he adds, 'to that learning, which both the former times were not so blessed as to know,-sacred and inspired Divinity, the sabbath and port of all men's labours and peregrinations. On this subject his observations are brief, but well worthy of serious attention, more particularly those which relate to the interpretation of Scripture. Here, as in other parts of his works, he strongly animadverts on the extreme prejudice which both religion and philosophy have received, and may receive, by being commixed together; as that which undoubtedly will make an heretical religion and an imaginary and fabulous philosophy. The school of Paracelsus, and some others, says Bacon, have pretended to find the truth of all natural philosophy in the scriptures; scandalizing and traducing all other philoso
phy as heathenish and profane. 'But there is no such enmity,' he adds, ' between God's word and his works; neither do they give honour to the Scriptures, as they suppose, but much imbase them. For to seek heaven and earth in the word of God, (whereof it is said, “heaven and earth shall pass, but my word shall not pass,") is to seek temporary things amongst eternal: and as to seek divinity in philosophy is to seek the living amongst the dead, so to seek philosophy in divinity is to seek the dead amongst the living; neither are the pots or lavers, whose place was in the outward part of the temple, to be sought in the holiest place of all, where the ark of the testimony was seated. And again, the scope or purpose of the Spirit of God is not to express matters of nature in the Scriptures, otherwise than in passage, and for application to man's capacity, and to matters moral and divine. And it is a true rule, “ Auctoris aliud agentis parva auctoritas;” for it were a strange conclusion, if a
man should use a similitude for ornament or illustration sake, borrowed from nature or history according to vulgar conceit, as of a basilisk, an unicorn, a centaur, a briareus, an hydra, or the like, that therefore he must needs be thought to affirm the matter thereof positively to be true.
Strange to say, the spirit of Paracelsus still survives in a small section of Paper Philosophers,' as Galileo would have called them, who have endeavoured to raise an outcry against the inquiries of modern geologists, as if they led to results inconsistent with the Genesis of Moses; and to substi. tute their own dreams of cosmogony for theories founded on inductive research. Happily, however, the ignorance of Paracelsus lives only among his disciples, who have met with merited contempt.
Thus,” says Bacon, in concluding his immortal work on the Proficiency and Advancement of Learning,' - thus have I made, as it were, a small globe of the intel
lectual world, as truly and faithfully as I could discover; with a note and description of those parts which seem to me not constantly occupate, or not well converted by the labour of man. In which, if I have in any point receded from that which is commonly received, it hath been with a purpose of proceeding in melius, and not in aliud; a mind of amendment and proficience, and not of change and difference. For I could not be true and constant to the argument I handle, if I were not willing to go beyond others; but yet not more willing than to have others go beyond me again: which may the better appear by this, that I have propounded my opinions naked and unarmed, not seeking to pre-occupate the liherty of men's judgments by confutations. For in any thing which is well set down, I am in good hope, that if the first reading move an objection, the second reading will make an answer. And in those things wherein I have erred, I am sure I have not prejudiced the right by litigious arguments; which certainly have