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ly, the wickedness of falsehood and breach of faith cannot possibly be so highly expressed, as in that it shall be the last peal to call the judgments of God upon the generations of men: it being foretold, that, when "Christ cometh," he shall not "find faith upon the earth.”1
II-OF DEATH. 2
MEN fear death as children fear to go in the dark; and as that natural fear in children is increased with tales, so is the other. Certainly, the contemplation of death, as the wages of sin, and passage to another world, is holy and religious; but the fear of it, as a tribute due unto nature, is weak. Yet in religious meditations there is sometimes mixture of vanity and of superstition. You shall read in some of the friars' books of mortification, that a man should think with himself, what the pain is, if he have but his finger's end pressed or tortured; and thereby imagine what the pains of death are, when the whole body is corrupted and dissolved; when many times death passeth with less pain than the torture of a limb, for the most vital parts are not the quickest of sense. And by him that spake only as a philosopher and natural man, it was well said, "Pompa mortis magis terret, quam mors ipsa.” 3 Groans and convulsions, and a
1 St. Luke xviii. 8: "Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith upon the earth?"
2 A portion of this Essay is borrowed from the writings of Seneca. See his Letters to Lucilius, B. iv. Ep. 24 and 82.
8"The array of the death-bed has more terrors than death itself." This quotation is from Seneca.
discolored face, and friends weeping, and blacks1 and obsequies, and the like, show death terrible. It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man so weak, but it mates and masters the fear of death; and therefore death is no such terrible enemy when a man hath so many attendants about him that can win the combat of him. Revenge triumphs over death; love slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it; fear preoccupateth it; nay, we read, after Otho the emperor had slain himself, pity (which is the tenderest of affections) provoked many to die out of mere compassion to their sovereign, and as the truest sort of followers.2 Nay, Seneca adds niceness and satiety: "Cogita quamdiu eadem feceris; mori velle, non tantum fortis, aut miser, sed etiam fastidiosus potest." 994 A man would die, though he were neither valiant nor miserable, only upon a weariness to do the same thing so oft over and over. It is no less worthy to observe, how little alteration in good spirits the approaches of death make: for they appear to be the same men till the last instant. Augustus Cæsar died in a compliment: "Livia, conjugii nostri memor, vive et vale."5 Tiberius in dissimulation, as Tacitus saith of him, "Jam Tiberium vires et corpus, non dissimulatio, deserebant:
1 He probably alludes to the custom of hanging the room in black where the body of the deceased lay, a practice much more usual in Bacon's time than at the present day.
2 Tacit. Hist. ii. 49.
8 Ad Lucil. 77.
4" Reflect how often you do the same things; a man may wish to die, not only because either he is brave or wretched, but even because he is surfeited with life."
5 Livia, mindful of our union, live on, and fare thee well."— Suet. Aug. Vit. c. 100.
6"His bodily strength and vitality were now forsaking Tiberius, but not his duplicity."- Ann. vi. 50.
Vespasian in a jest, sitting upon the stool,1 "Ut puto Deus fio; "2 Galba with a sentence,
Feri, si ex re sit populi Romani,” holding forth his neck; Septimus Severus in dispatch, Adeste, si quid mihi restat agendum," and the like. Certainly, the Stoics 5 bestowed too much cost upon death, and by their great preparations made it appear more fearful. Better, saith he, "qui finem vitæ extremum inter munera ponit naturæ." * It is as natural to die as to be born; and to a little infant, perhaps, the one is as painful as the other. He that dies in an earnest pursuit, is like one that is wounded in hot blood, who, for the time, scarce feels the hurt; and therefore a mind fixed and bent upon somewhat that is good, doth avert the dolors of death; but, above all, believe it, the sweetest canticle is "Nunc dimittis," when a man hath obtained worthy ends
1 This was said as a reproof to his flatterers, and in spirit is not unlike the rebuke administered by Canute to his retinue. Suet. Vespas. Vit. c. 23.
2 "I am become a Divinity, I suppose."
8"If it be for the advantage of the Roman people, strike."Tac. Hist. i. 41.
4"If aught remains to be done by me, dispatch. - Dio Cass. 76, ad fin.
5 These were the followers of Zeno, a philosopher of Citium, in Cyprus, who founded the Stoic school, or "School of the Portico," at Athens. The basis of his doctrines was the duty of making virtue the object of all our researches. According to him, the pleasures of the mind were preferable to those of the body, and his disciples were taught to view with indifference health or sickness, riches or poverty, pain or pleasure.
6 "Who reckons the close of his life among the boons of nature." Lord Bacon here quotes from memory; the passage is in the tenth Satire of Juvenal, and runs thus:
"Fortem posce animum, mortis terrore carentem,
Qui spatium vitæ extremum inter munera ponat
"Pray for strong resolve, void of the fear of death, that reckons the closing period of life among the boons of nature."
7 He alludes to the song of Simeon, to whom the Holy Ghost
and expectations. Death hath this also, that it openeth the gate to good fame, and extinguisheth envy : "Extinctus amabitur idem." 1
III-OF UNITY IN RELIGION.
RELIGION being the chief band of human society, it is a happy thing when itself is well contained within the true band of unity. The quarrels and divisions about religion were evils unknown to the heathen. The reason was, because the religion of the heathen consisted rather in rites and ceremonies, than in any constant belief; for you may imagine what kind of faith theirs was, when the chief doctors and fathers of their church were the poets. But the true God hath this attribute, that he is a jealous God; and therefore his worship and religion will endure no mixture nor partner. We shall therefore speak a few words concerning the unity of the church; what are the fruits thereof; what the bounds; and what the means.
The fruits of unity, (next unto the well-pleasing of God, which is all in all.) are two; the one towards those that are without the church, the other towards those that are within. For the former, it is certain that heresies and schisms are, of all others, the greatest scandals, yea, more than corruption of
had revealed, "that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ." When he beheld the infant Jesus in the temple, he took the child in his arms and burst forth into a song of thanksgiving, commencing, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." St. Luke ii. 29.
1"When dead, the same person shall be beloved." - Hor. Ep. ii. 1, 14.
manners; for as in the natural body a wound or solution of continuity is worse than a corrupt humor, so in the spiritual; so that nothing doth so much keep men out of the church, and drive men out of the church, as breach of unity; and therefore, whensoever it cometh to that pass that one saith, "Ecce in Deserto,' "1 another saith, "Ecce in penetralibus; "2 that is, when some men seek Christ in the conventicles of heretics, and others in an outward face of a church, that voice had need continually to sound in men's ears, "nolite exire,"
go not out." The doctor of the Gentiles (the propriety of whose vocation drew him to have a special care of those without) saith: "If a heathen come in, and hear you speak with several tongues, will he not say that you are mad?" and, certainly, it is little better: when atheists and profane persons do hear of so many discordant and contrary opinions in religion, it doth avert them from the church, and maketh them "to sit down in the chair of the scorners." 4 It is but a light thing to be vouched in so serious a matter, but yet it expresseth well the deformity. There is a master of scoffing, that, in his catalogue of books of a feigned library, sets down this title of a book, "The Morris-Dances of Heretics;" for, indeed, every sect
1" Behold, he is in the desert." St. Matthew xxiv. 26. 2" Behold, he is in the secret chambers."
8 He alludes to 1 Corinthians xiv. 23: "If, therefore, the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?"
4 Psalm i. 1: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
5 This dance, which was originally called the Morisco dance, is supposed to have been derived from the Moors of Spain; the