Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/310

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evil both into whole systems of philosophy and into their parts." He denounces those who "have endeavored to found a natural philosophy on the books of Genesis and Job and other sacred Scriptures, so 'seeking the dead among the living.' "He speaks of the result as "an unwholesome mixture of things, human and divine; not merely fantastic philosophy, but heretical religion." He refers to the opposition of the fathers to the doctrine of the rotundity of the earth, and says that "thanks to some of them, you may find the approach to any kind of philosophy, however improved, entirely closed up." He charges that some of these divines are "afraid lest perhaps a deeper inquiry into Nature should penetrate beyond the allowed limits of sobriety"; and finally speaks of theologians as sometimes craftily conjecturing that if science be little understood, "each single thing can be referred more easily to the hand and rod of God," and says, "This is nothing more nor less than wishing to please God by a lie."

No man who has reflected much upon the annals of his race can, without a feeling of awe, come into the presence of such clearness of insight and boldness of utterance, and the first thought of the reader is, that of all men Francis Bacon is the most free from the unfortunate bias he condemns; that he, certainly, can not be deluded into the old path. But as we go on through his main work we are surprised to find that the strong arm of Aquinas has been stretched over the intervening ages, and has laid hold upon this master-thinker of the seventeenth century. For only a few chapters beyond those containing the citations already made we find Bacon alluding to the recent voyage of Columbus, and speaking of the prophecy of Daniel regarding the latter days, that "many shall run to and fro and knowledge be increased," as clearly signifying "that . . . the circumnavigation of the world and the increase of science should happen in the same age."[1]

In his great work on the Advancement of Learning the firm grasp which the methods he condemned held upon him is shown yet more clearly. In the first book of it he asserts "that excellent book of Job, if it be revolved with diligence, will be found pregnant and swelling with natural philosophy," and he endeavors to show that in it the "roundness of the earth," the "fixing of the stars, ever standing at equal distances," the "depression of the southern pole," the "matter of generation," and "matter of minerals" are "with great elegancy noted." But, curiously enough, he uses to support some of these truths the very texts which the fathers of the Church used to destroy them, and those for which

  1. See the Novum Organon, translated by the Rev. G. W. Kitchin, Oxford, 1855, chaps. lxv and lxxxix.