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Even Bacon's faults might have been buried with his bones, had
not the immortal malice of the satirist made the evil that he did
live after him. There are features in natural scenery and in
moral character, which attract no attention until some sharp-
eyed and officious critic points them out. " Do you see yonder
cloud, that's almost in shape of a camel V^ Did you never ob-
serve that singular obliquity in character? Few persons make an
original discovery of the couchant lion at the Cape, or even of
the expressive features of the man in the moon y but once get the
eye fixed on them, and the recognition is ever after unavoidable.
And so Pope's couplet stands like an everlasting finger-post,
directing the looks of generation after generation, to the bade and
shamefiu parts of Bacon's character.



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138 Religious Ckar4icter of Lord Bacon. [Jan.

We are now prepared to remark, that Lord Bacon's faults, great
as they were, were not such as to be inconsistent with the idea of
a genuine piet^. He is chargeable with no profaneness, irreve-
rence, or bodily excess ; vices from which he was far removed.
He practised no dishonesty or fraud. He was not unmerciful or
oppressive. He was not covetous* But he indulged, according
to the fashion of the age, in excessive adulation of his sovereign.
When he could not save his friend and benefactor, he had not
heroism enough to drown with him. He struggled to the surface ;
and to aid his rise, even planted his feet on the breast of the sink-
ing suicide.

It was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it

Absorbed in philosophy and politics, he paid no attention to do-
mestic economy, and suffered a lavish expenditure, which di^ a
pit for his fisdl. To repair his wasted fortunes, he accepted gins,
as other chancellors had done before him, supposing them to be
only freewill offerings, after judgment rendered. Only one or
two of them seem to have been received, in any sense, pendente
lite ; and like his predecessors, he might have passed unscourged,
had he not happened to fall on evil days. He exercised his func-
tions at a time when enormous abuses nad roused the spirit of the
Commons, and rendered redress and a victim unavoiclable. His
misfortune was to be in the way when the ruin fell. Justice could
not strike at the real authors of the abuses under which the nation
gproaned, James and his favorite. It made an example, the highest
it could reach, of one by whose corruption no man was wronged
in property or in person. The vulture rapacity of Buckingham and
his creatures raised the storm ; — the bolt fell on the head of Bacon*

Dat veniam corvis, vexat censura'columbis.

All this, to be sure, is saying but little. Multitudes of men
have no vices inconsistent with the idea of piety, who yet are not
pious. Bacon, certainly, might have been very superior, as he
was, in the tone of his morals, and the exhibition of Christian
keling, to most men about courts, and yet have come short of the
kingdom of heaven. There is a positive side to the question,
however, as well as a negative. If the great man whose character
we are contemplating, ever found peace in believing, it was only
through the same course of experieuce with all other sinners : —
through a genuine conviction of guilt, a hearty repentance, and an
evangelical faith. At what period in his life he may have been
the subject of this experience, we cannot tell. K bewre his fall,
the cares of this world and the lusts of other things, had perhaps
choked the word, and rendered it unfruitful ; and then his affliction
<:ame upon him as a part of that Fatherly correction secured for



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1847.] ReHgums Character of Lard Bacon. 139

the people of Qod when they forsake His law. If after his fall^
it was Ihe blessed fruit of mortified ambition ; the bitter medicine
that brought healin? to the soul ; the grievous chastisement that
wrought the peaceaole fruits of righteousness.

We incline to the latter opinion. Bacon was a man of contem-
plative and serious mind ; conversant with the Scriptures and with
religious truth ; and accustomed, according to the style of that a^,
to ^e use of a sort of religious dialect But there is nothing
remaining of a probable date earlier than his degradation, that
indicates deep religious feeling. If Qod wrought out His designs
of mercy toward that great soul which He had endowed with such
rare gifts, by humiliating providences, prostrating his "pride, and
bringing him into the dust, it is only what Eternity will reveal, as
the course by which he has brought many other sons to glory.
" Grod, before his Son that bringeth mercy, sent his servant, the
trumpeter of repentance, to level every high hill, to prepare the
way before him, making it smooth, and straight. Christ never
comes before His way-maker hath laid even the heart with sorrow
and repentance. Not only knowledge, but also every other gift
which we call the gift of fortune, have power to puff up earth.
Afflictions only level these mole-hills of pride, plough the heart,
and make it fit for wisdom to sow her seed, and for grace to bring
forth her increase. Happy is that man, therefore, that is thus
wounded, to be cured ; thus broken, to be made straight."*

Especially towards the wise, mighty, and noble, who have been
called, — men whose chief temptation and danger lay in their pros-
perity and self-confidence, it is probable this has been the common
met^Dd of grace. It was needful to show that their prosperity
was but a reed, and their confidence a dream, before they could be
brought to God, as their only satisfying portion. Multitudes in
Heaven, and on the way to Heaven, have blessed Ithe kind
severity that stripped them of their earthly comforts, and blasted
their cheri3hed hopes,

" That forced their conscience to a stand,
And brought their wand'ring souls to Gtod."

The theological remains, so called, of Lord Bacon, mostly bear
internal evidence of being the work of his last years. The excep-
tions are the tracts on Church Controversies, and Pacification of
the Church, which were offered to King James in the opening of
his reign. Upon these we shall not remark, our object being
to illustrate, not the opinions, but the character of the author.
They breathe a spirit of moderation and charity, kindred to that
of the best British reformers. The undervaluing of mere cere-
monies, the tenderness toward those " calling for reformation,^'
and towards churches under a different regimen, and the zeal for

* Bacon. An Expostulation to Ae Lord Chief Justice Coke.



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140 ReUgiaus ClMracUr of Lard Bacon. [Jan.

sound intelligent preaching and practical religion, honorably dis-
tinguish him from the bigots of that and of subsequent ages. These
were lessons he never learned from Whitgift.

But it is when we turn to the devotional pieces of Lord Bacon,
that he appears unambiguously invested with the ^^ highest style
of man." They are few and brief: but such that quantity would
not enhance conviction. It is the profound knowledge of Chris-
tian experience ; the deep humility ; the justification of God in
his judgments ; the filial temper of soul ; and the hearty recep-
tion of the whole Grospel system, that expresses the genuine peni-
tent The prayer entitled " A Prayer or Psalm, made by the
Lord Bacon, Chancellor of England,'' for pathetic beauty of ex-
pression, is second to nothing of the kind but the penitential
Psalms of David. We cannot refrain from quoting this entire*

A Prayer or Psajlm, &c.

^^Most precious Lord Gtad, My merciful Father from my
youth up ; my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comfijrtor : Thou, O
Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts ;
Thou acknowledgest the upright of heart ; Thou judgest the hypo-
crite ; Thou ponderest men's thoughts and doings as in a balance ;
Thoujmeasurest their intentions as with aline : vanity and^crooked
ways cannot be hid from Thee.

" Remember, Lord, how Thy servant hath walked before thee ;
remember what I have first sought, and what hath been principal
in my intentions. I have loved Thy assemblies ', I have mourn-
ed for the divisions of Thy Church ; I have delighted in the
brightness of Thy sanctuary. This vine which Thy right hand
hath planted in this nation, I have ever prayed unto Thee that it
might have the first and the latter rain ; and that it might stretch
her branches to the seas and to the floods. The state and bread
of the poor and oppressed have been precious in mine eyes ; I have
hated all cruelty and hardness of heart ; I have, though in a de-
spised meed, procured the good of all men. K any have been my
enemies, I thought not of them ; neither hath the sun almost set
upon my displeasure, but I have been as a dove free from super-
fluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books,
but Thy Scriptures much more ; I have sought Thee in the courts,
fields, and groves, but I have found Thee in Thy temples.

'^ Thousands have been my sins, and ten thousands my trans-

Sressions : jbut Thy sanctifications have remained with me, and my
eart, through thy grace, hath been an imquenched coal upon
Thine altar. Lord, my strength, I have, smce my youth, met
with Thee in all my ways, by Thy fatherly compassions, by Thy
comfortable chastisements, by Thy most visible providence. As
Thy favors have increased upon me, so have Thy corrections ; so
as Thou hast been Always near me, Lord ; and ever as my



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1847.] ReKgiaus Okaraeter of Lord Bacon. 141

worldly blessings were* [exalted, so secret darts from Thee have
piercea me ; ami when I have ascended before men, I have de-
scended in humiliation before Thee. And now when I thought
most of peace and honor, Thine hand is heavy upon me, and
hath humbled me according to Thy former loving kinoness, keepiw
me still in Thy fatherly school, not as a bastara, but. as a child.
Just are Thy judgments upon me for my sins, which are more in
number than the sands of the sea, but have no proportion to Thy
mercies ; . for what are the sands of the sea ?— eeurth, heavens, and
all, these are nothing to Thy mercies. Besides my mnumerable
sins, I confess before Thee, that I am a debtor to Thee for the
gracious talent of Thy gifts and graces, which I have neither put
into a napkin, nor put it, as I ought, to exchangers, where it
might have made best profit, but misspent it in things for which I
was least fit. So I may truly say, my soul hath been a stranger
in the course of my pilgrimage. Be merciful unto me, O Lord,
for'my Saviour's sake, and receive me into Thy bosom, or guide
me in Thy ways.''

These are worthy to be the last strains of that almost inspired
harp ; Divini hominis tanquam cycnea vox et oratio. His day,
which had deen darkened with such a fearful gloom, was now
shining again with a moderated lustre towards its close. The
storm subsides. The clouds lift a little above the horizon ; a brief
radiance, a fragment of a broken rainbow, the sun's rim dips, and
is gone — " at one stride comes the dark." True to the last to his
investigation of nature. Bacon, struck with some thought respect-
ing the preservation of bodies, stopped, while riding towards Lon-
don, attended with his own hands to the experiment which was
performed with snow, and in the operation contracted his death-
cold. He was sixty-six years of age, — ^five years old, to use his
own phrase, " in misery," and had arrived at the appointed bound
which he could not pass. H,e took refuge in the house of the Earl of
Arundel, which was near, and after a week's illness, of which we
have no record, expired. The last glimpse we catch of him is here ;
a brief letter to his absent host, written apparently under the im-
pression that the crisis of his danger was past. He says he had
come near losing his life, as Pliny the elder did, from too great
devotion to philosophy. Religious sentiments were scarcely to be
expected in a brief note of this kind, nor are they found. He was
not now to think of death for the first time ; he had often medi-
tated upon it before, and found it the least of evils. He ^' had not
made love to the continuance of days, but to the goodness of
them;" and without wishing for death, referred himself ^calmly
^^ to that hour which the Great dispenser of all things had appoint-
ed" him. He maintained these among other ^^ Paradoxes," that
a Christian's <^ death makes not an end of him. His Advocate,



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142 EeUgiauB Cfharacter of Lard Baeon. [Jan.

his Surety, shall be his Judge ;^*his mortal part dball become im-
mortal ; what was sown in corruption and defilement, shall be
raised in incorruption and glory ; and a finite creature shall pos-
sess an infinite happiness.^' It was leaning on this staff, we doubt
not, that he walked through the valley of the shadow of death,
and feared no evil.

The absence of any account of Lord Bacon's last hours, is a loss
we cannot sufficiently lament. Did all men abandon fallen great-
ness at the last hour, in this as in other instances ? Why was
there no good Griffith, to "tell us how he diedl" Where was
Doctor Rawley, his lordship's chaplain t Or did he suppose that
posterity would not require, at his hands, even the slightest men-
tion of the way his great master spake and acted in quitting life ?
And '^ his very good friend, Mr. Greorge Herbert,'' to whom he
deidicated his versions of the Psalms*— gentle and holy Geoige
Herbert, where was hel Might he not have found time during
the six years that he survived the Chancellor, to paint his charac-
ter and end 1 Something of the kind there may have been among
those private papers of his, which, as worthy Izaak says, '' were
destroyed at Hingham house ^by the late rebels, and so lost to
posterity." In the meantime we can only know, that

" Hi8 07erthrow heaped happiness upon him,
For then, and not till then, he felt himself
And fom)d the blessedness of being little ;
And to add greater honors to his age
Than man could give him, he died fearing God."

And so pass to thy grave, thou great crushed and contrite spirit !
For thee, also, there was balm ^m Gilead, and a physician tnere.
Thou, too, hast taught us, that though knowledge is great, and
faith is great, yet the^eatest of these is charity.



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ARTICLE VI.

THE SCHOLASTIC THEOLOGY OF THE MIDDLE AGES

Bf Rar. S. M. ScHM uoKEB, Gennantown, Pa.

Shortly after the introduction of Christianity into the world, the
spirit of speculative inquiry began to appear, in the examination
of its principles. Soon mfen became wearied with their plain and
unsophisticated import, and sought for recondite meanings and far-
fetched interpretations. On the page of dogmatic, as well as eccle-
siastical history, many schools of discordant doctrine stand forth to
view. Ere the halo of apostolical purity^had feded from the Church,
the notions of Cerinthus appeared, containing the germs of Gnos-
ticism, as afterwards developed by Bardesanes, ValentinuB, and
their coadjutors. Next, this science is handled in the allegorical
style of the school of Alexandria, headed by the great Origen. In
later ages it is subjected to the philosophical speculations of
Leibnitz and Wolf. Now, it is mixed up with the neological per-
versions of Semler and Eiehom. Then, again, it is expounded
in the exegetical mode of Michaelis and Emesti. Afterward it is
discussed in the biblical style of Storr and Knapp ; and lastly, it
is set forth in the evangelical school of Tholuck and Twesten.

The study of these .various systems is deeply interesting and
instructive ; but none are more worthy of regara than that Scho-
lastic Mode, which held dominion in the schools during the Mid-
dle Ages. This department of Dogmatic History has not received
as much attention among us as it deserves. We, therefore, pro-
pose, in this article, to give a condensed view of its history and
most striking features.

The difl5(mlty of producing a thorough exposition of the inward
and outward characteristics of the Scholastic Systems, is duly
acknowledged by the distinguished Dr. Ritter, in the Preface to
the last volume ot his History of Philosophy. Says he— " Iti some
cases I have almost despaired of being able to discover the sense
of a complicated dialectic, whose doctrines are, for the most part,
very far removed from us.'' (Biblioth. Sac, Aug., 1844, p.
598.) No labor, indeed, could be more perplexing, than to trace
the mtricate thread of some abstract process of ratiocination, of
some langa series diakcticay as elaborated by one of the Scholastics.
Accordingly, in our present discussion, we do not propose to rive
an exposition of the esoteric systems of the different schools — thrir
shades of doctrine, or points of difference. For such investiga-
tions, we do not indeed possess the proper materials in this coun-



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144 The Scholastic Theology of the Middle Ages. [Jan.

try. But our aim shall be, to exhibit a general view of the doc-
trmal eharacter, as well as outward history of the Scholastic Theo-
W^, to present its general characteristics, and show the effects
which it produced upon religion and theological science in general.
This mode of studying and discussing the doctrines of our holy
religion, employed the ablest minds for many centuries. It was
the channel through which a vast degree of intellectual vigor was
expended. It exerted a mighty influence upon the moral and in-
tellectual condition of those countries where it prevailed. It had
a marked bearing upon the destinies of the Papacy itself, with all
its far-reaching ramifications. It gradually became introduced into
all the Universities during the Middle Ages. It there secured the
approbation of the ablest votaries of science ; and he who could
employ the art of dialectics most acutely, was regarded as having
attained the highest standard of intellectual power — ^as having
made the most successful advances in the search of truth. How
far this confidence was merited, and these occupations were found-
ed in justice, the sequel will show.

I. The Origin op the Scholastic Theology.

The memorable discussion which occurred between Lanfranc
and BerengariiLSy and which was protracted from 1060 until 1075,
on the subject of Transubstantiation ; together with the agitations
which occurred throughout the Christian world, about that period,
in reference to the celibacy of the clergy, and other similar inno-
vations, first served to create and dissemmate a fondness for intel-
lectual inquiries. The establishment of these two doctrines as
do^as of the Church, by the Council of Placentia, in 1095, tended
to increase the current which had already set in, and draw the at-
tention of men more extensively, to kindred themes. In the mid-
dle of the eleventh century, the old question of the Grecian
schools concerning Universal Ideas, was revived. It was fiercely
disputed by Roscelin, a celebrated professor of logic, at that perioa.
Partisans were soon formed, and marshalled in hostile array
against each other, concerning this portentous question.

In the twelfth century, the first great Universities of Europe
were established. ThosC'Of Paris, Oxford, and Bologna, were suc-
cessively erected and endowed ; and toward these celebrated seats
of learnm^, where was preserved the knowledge which had sur-
vived the mundation of Northern barbarism, the aspiring youth of
Europe directed their steps. There the most thorough intellectual
training was imparted. There were collected the most learned
9nd renowned instructors. There were accumulated the most ex-
tensive and valuable libraries. And there, too, the Scholastic
Theolg^ found its most congenial home.

Previous to the establishment of the Universities, the course of
instruction given ccHmprehended only , what wejce termed the



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1847.] 3%e Scholastic Theology of the MddU Ages. 145

Trivium and Quadrivium. The former comprised QMtnmar,
Rhetoric, and hogic ; the latter Algebra, Music, Greometry, and
Astronomy. No progress had been made ; no further improve-
ment had been attained, during the lapse of a^es, in the discus-
sion of these sciences. Among all the Universities which subse-
quently arose, that of Paris was most distinguished for Theology.
The writings of Aristotle had become known to Christian Europe,
through the translations of the Arabs and Moors in Spain. They
now bMBcame.the basis of instruction in. all the Universities, and
soon his authority was supreme. It is true, that this authority
was assailed by portions of the Romish Churchy first at the S3mod
of Paris, in 15^9, and afterward by the Papal Legate, in 1215.
But these remonstrances and prohibitions were entirely inade-
quate to resist their accumulating ascendency.

Several men of extraordinary talents now came upon the stage
of action, and directed their energies to the study and defense of
, the new Theology- St. Anselm of Canterbury there labored and
taught ; a man of extraordinary intellectual vigor, some of whose
arguments and processes of reasoning are still retained among
theologians, for want of any better substitutes* His most
distinguished pupil, Peter Abelard, filled the chair of the-
ology at Paris ; whose original and profound investigations, thou^
frequently adventurous and incorrect, awakened the minds of ms
cotemporaries still more, to a sympathy with intellectual pursuits.
His more celebrated scholar, Peter Lombard, the author of the
memorable book of Sentences, succeeded him. He was a man of
greater, as well as safer, talents.

In proportion a^ men progressed in general culture, and as the
restoration of the civil, together with the reformation of the com-
mon, law, advanced, the Universities were enlarged and improved.
These changes of course increased the celebrity of these institu-
tions. The number of students became much enlarged. The
amount of mind thus brought into active contact, was much aug-
mentedi The love of contention was aroused and cultivated. The
two great orders of Dominican and Franciscan monks made Aris-
totle their text-book, and soon elevated him to that same eminence
in theology, which he before possessed in philosophy. These
questions becoming invested with supreme importance, on the in-
tellectual arena of the age, soon engrossed the attention of the
most celebrated thinkers. These causes gradually moulded the
character and destiny of the Scholastic Tneology. The history
of these eminent men forms its most important and prosperous
era. Their merits also confer upon it its highest honors.

II. Sketch of the most eminent Scholastics.

Peter Abelard, Venerabilis Inceptor^ may properly be termed
the great originator of the theology of the schools. By his means,

third SE&IES, vol. III. NO. I. 10



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146 l%e Scholastic Theology of ^ Mddle Ages. [Jan.

it first obtained a definite fonn, as weU as a decisive pre-eminence
in the republic of letters. He was born of noble parentage, at
Nantes, in 1079. He was first initiated into Theology by Roscelin,
the founder of the school of the Nominalists* He was distin-
guished for his intellectual ability at an early age. When twenty
years old he became the pupil of William de Champeaux, under
whose tuition he studied dialectics. He soon established a rival
school, which soon eclipsed his master. He subsequently con-
tinued his theological studies under Anselm. Disagreeing VTith
his illustrious instructor, whom he seems to have excelled in acute-
hess, but not solidity of intellect, he established an independent
school in theology also, which soon became celebrated.

At the age of forty, he was guilty of the seduction of his pupil^
the beautiful and accomplished Heloise. She retired to a convent,
and Abelard, after suffering a disgraceful punishment for his crime,
resumed his lectures in theology. He now published his celebrated
system. This work brought upon him the charge of heresy, and
was burned by order of the council of Soissons, in 1121. He retired
from his persecutors to a forest in Champaign, where multitudes of
students soon gathered around him, and where he established the
monastery of the Paraclete. This establishment he afterward
presented to Heloise, of which she became Abbess. He was
again charged vrith heresy by St. Bernard, " the last and best of
the Fathers," and set out for Rome in 1140 to vindicate himself.
He stopped on his way at the celebrated monastery of Clugny,
where, after remaining two years, and lecturing once more on



Online LibraryYale University. Class of 1842The Biblical repository and classical review, Volume 3 → online text (page 18 of 94)