Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 13.djvu/144

This page needs to be proofread.




"Secretum secret orum naturae de laude lapidis philo- sophorum"; (4) "Tractatus trium verborum"; (5) "Alchimia major". But it is possible that some of these and several other treatises attributed to Bacon are parts of works ab-eady mentioned, as are essays "De situ orbis", "De regionibus mundi", "De situ Palaes- tinae". "De locis sacris", " Descriptiones locorum mundi", "Summa gramma ticalis" (see Golubovich, "Bibliotecabio-bibliografica della Terra Santa e dell' Oriente Francescano", Quaracchi, 1906, I, 268 sq.).

If we now examine Bacon's scientific systems and leading principles, his aims and his hobby, so to say, we find that the burden not only of the writings sent to the pope, but also of all his writings was: ecclesias- tical study must be reformed. All his ideas and prin- ciples must be considered in the light of this thesis. He openlv exiwsos the "sins" of his time in the study of theology, which are seven, as he had proved, in the "Opus Majus". Though this part has been lost, we can reconstruct his arrangement with the aid of the "Opus Minus" and "Opus Tertium". The first sin is the preponderance of (speculative) philosophy. Theology is a Divine science, hence it must be based on Divine principles and treat questions touching Divinity, and not exhaust itself in philosophical cavils and distinctions. The second sin is ignorance of the sciences most suitable and necessary to theo- logians; they study only Latin grammar, logic, nat- ural philosophy (very superficially!) and a part of metaphj'sics : four sciences very unimportant, scientifs viles. Other sciences more necessary, foreign (Orien- tal) languages, mathematics, alchemy, chemistry, physics, experimental sciences, and moral philosophy, they neglect. A third sin is the defective knowledge of even the four sciences which they cultivate: their ideas are full of errors and misconceptions, because they have no means to get at the real understanding of the authors from whom they draw all their knowledge, since their writings abound in Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic expressions. Even the greatest and most highly-esteemed theologians show in their works to what an extent the evil has spread.

Another sin is the preference for the "Liber Sen- tentiarum" and the disregard of other theological matters, especially Holy Scriptures; he complains: "The one who explains the 'Book of the Sentences' is honoured by all, whereas the lector of Holy Scrip- ture is neglected ; for to the expounder of the Sentences there is granted a commodious hour for lecturing at hLs own will, and if he belongs to an order, a compan- ion and a special room; whilst the lector of Holy Scripture Ls denied all this and must beg the hour for his lecture to be given at the pleasure of the ex- pounder of the Sentences. Elsewhere the lector of the Sentences holds disputations and is called master, whereas the lector of the [Biblical) test is not allowed to di.spute" ("Opus Minus", ed. Brewer, .328 sq.). Such a method, he cont inues, is inexplicable and very injurious to the Sacred Text which contains the word of Owl, and the exposition of which wovild offer many occa.sions to speak about matters now treated in the s<'veral "Summa? Sententiarum". Still more dlsa-strouH is the fifth sin: the text of Holy Writ is horribly corrupt/ed, especially in the "exemplar Parifliense". that is to say in the Biblical text used at the University of Paris and spread bv its students over the whole world. Confusion has been increased by many scholars or religiovis orders, who in their en- deavours to correct the Sacred Text, in default of a sound methofl, have in reality only augmented the fliyergences; as every one presumes to ch;ing(; any- thing "he doTM not understand, a thinj^ he would not dare to do with the books of the cla.ssical poets", the world is full of "correctors or rather corniptors". Tlie worst of all sins is the consequence of the fore- going: the falsity or doubt fiilness of the literal sense (aemm liUeraiits) and consequently of the spiritual

meaning (sensus spiritualis) ; for when the literal sense is wrong, the spiritual sense cannot be right, since it is necessarily based upon the literal sense. The reasons of this false exposition are the corruption of the sacred text and ignorance of the Biblical lan- guages. For how can they get the real meaning of Holy Writ without this knowledge, as the Latin ver- sions are full of Greek and Hebrew idioms?

The seventh sin is the radically false method of preaching: instead of breaking to the faithful the Bread of Life by expounding the commandments of God and inculcating their duties, the preachers con- tent themselves with divisions of the arbor Por- phyriana, with the jingle of words and quibbles. They are even ignorant of the rules of eloquence, and often prelates who during their course of study were not instructed in preaching, when obliged to speak in church, beg the copy-books of the younger men, which are full of bomb.ast and ridiculous divisions, serving only to "stimulate the hearers to all curiosity of mind, but do not elevate the affection towards good" ("Opus Tertium", Brewer, 309 sq.). Ex- ceptions are very few, as for instance Friar Bertholdus Alemannus (Ratisbon) who alone has more effect than all the friars of both orders combined (Friars Minor and Preachers). Eloquence ought to be ac- companied by science, and science by eloquence; for "science without eloquence is like a sharp sword in the hands of a paralytic, whilst eloquence without science is a sharp sword in the hands of a furious man" ("Sapientia sine eloquentia est quasi gladius acutus in manu paralytici, sicut eloquentia expers sapientiae est quasi gladius acutus in manu furiosi"; "Opus Tertium", I, Brewer, 4). But far from being an idle fault-finder who only demolished without being able to build up, Bacon makes proposals ex- tremely fit and efficacious, the only failure of which was that they never were put into general practice, by reason of the premature death of the pope. Bacon himself and his pupils, such as .John of Paris, whom he praises highly, William of Mara, Gerard Huy, and others are a striking argument that his proposals were no Utopian fancies; they showed m their own persons what in their idea a theologian should be. First of all, if one wishes to get wisdom, he must take care not to fall into the four errors which usually pre- vent even learned men from attaining the summit of wisdom, viz. "the example of weak and unreliable authority, continuance of custom, regard to the opinion of the unlearned, and concealing one's own ignorance, together with the exhibition of apparent wisdom" ("Fragilis et indignai autoritatis exemplum. consuetudinis diuturnitas. vulgi sensus imperiti, et propria} ignorantiaj occultatio cum ostentatione sap- penti;B apparentis"; "Opus Majus", L Bridges, 1,2).

Thus having eliminated "the four general causes of all human ignorance", one must be convinced that all science its source in revelation both oral and written. Holy Scripture espr-cially is .•in inexhaiist- ible fountain of truth from which all human phi- losophers, even the heathen, drew their knowledge, immediately or mediately; therefore no science, whether profane or sacred, can be true if contrary to Holy Writ (see "English Hist. Rev.", 1897, 508 'sq.; "Opus Tertium", XXIV, Brewer, 87 sq.). This con- viction having taken root , we must consider the means of attaining to wisdom. Among those which lead to the summit are to be mentioned in the first place the languages, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. Latin does not suffice;, as there are many useful works written in other langu.agcH and not yet tran.slat(Hi, or badly translated, into Latin. Even in the best versions of scientific works, as for instance of Greek and Arabic philosophers, or of the Scrii)tures, as also in the Liturgy, there .are still some foreign expressions retained purposely or by necessity, it being impossible to express in Latin all nuances of foreign texts. It