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to many a matter trivial, and done already. But if it were done less partially, it would be embraced more generally.
Of this I may give only this advice, according to my small model. Men ought to take heed of rending God's church by two kinds of controversies. The one is, when the matter of the point controverted is too small and light, not worth the heat and strife about it, kindled only by contradiction. For as it is noted by one of the fathers, Christ's coat indeed had no seam, but the church's vesture was of divers colours ; whereupon he saith, In veste varietas sit, scissura non sit, [let there be variety in the garment, but let there be no division :) they be two things, Unity and Uniformity. The other is, when the matter of the point controverted is great, but it is driven to an over-great subtilty and obscurity; so that it becometh a thing rather ingenious than substantial. A man that is of judgment and understanding shall sometimes hear ignorant men differ, and know well within himself that those which so differ mean one thing, and yet they themselves would never agree. And if it come so to pass in that distance of judgment which is between man and man, shall we not think that God above, that knows the heart, doth not discern that frail men in some of their contradictions intend the same thing; and accepteth of both? The nature of such controversies is excellently expressed by St. Paul in the warning and precept that he giveth concerning the same, Devita profanas vocum novitates, et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiæ: (Avoid profane novelties of terms, and oppositions of science falsely so
1 So in the original. One of the nots should obviously be struck out: the reader can choose which.
called.] Men create oppositions which are not; and put them into new terms so fixed, as whereas the meaning ought to govern the term, the term in effect governeth the meaning. There be also two false peaces or unities : the one, when the peace is grounded but upon an implicit ignorance ; for all colours will agree in the dark: the other, when it is pieced up upon a direct admission of contraries in fundamental points. For truth and falsehood, in such things, are like the iron and clay in the toes of Nabuchadnezzar's image; they may cleave, but they will not incorporate.
Concerning the Means of procuring Unity ; men must beware, that in the procuring or muniting of religious unity they do not dissolve and deface the laws of charity and of human society. There be two swords amongst Christians, the spiritual and temporal; and both have their due office and place in the maintenance of religion. But we may not take up the third sword, which is Mahomet's sword, or like unto it; that is, to propagate religion by wars or by sanguinary per- . secutions to force consciences; except it be in cases of overt scandal, blasphemy, or intermixture of practice against the state ; much less to nourish seditions ; to authorize conspiracies and rebellions; to put the sword. into the people's hands ; and the like ; tending to the subversion of all government, which is the ordinance of God. For this is but to dash the first table against the second ; and so to consider men as Christians, as we forget that they are men. Lucretius the poet, when he beheld the act of Agamemnon, that
1 quæ omnia manifestissime tendunt ad majestatem imperii minuendam et auctoritatem magistratuum labefactandam ; cum tamen omnis legitima potestas sit a Deo ordinata.
could endure the sacrificing of his own daughter, er claimed :
Tantum Relligio potuit suadere malorum : [to such ill actions Religion could persuade a man.) What would he have said, if he had known of the massacre in France, or the powder treason of England ? He would have been seven times more Epicure and atheist than he was. For as the temporal sword is to be drawn with great circumspection in cases of religion; so it is a thing monstrous to put it into the hands of the common people. Let that be left unto the Anabaptists, and other furies. It was great blasphemy when the devil said, I will ascend and be like the Highest; but it is greater blasphemy to personate God, and bring him in saying, I will descend, and be like the prince of darkness : and what is it better, to make the cause of religion to descend to the cruel and execrable actions of murthering princes, butchery of people, and subversion of states and governments ? Surely this is to bring down the Holy Ghost, instead of the likeness of a dove, in the shape of a vulture or raven; and set out of the bark of a Christian church a flag of a bark of pirates and assassins. Therefore it is most necessary that the church by doctrine and decree, princes by their sword, and all learnings, both Christian and moral, as by their Mercury rod, do damn and send to hell for ever those facts and opinions tending to the support of the same; as hath been already in good part done. Surely in counsels concerning religion, that counsel of the apostle would be prefixed, Ira hominis non implet justitiam Dei : [The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.] And it was a notable observation of a wise father, and no legs in
Mercury i opinione ready
genuously confessed; that those which held and persuaded pressure of consciences, were commonly interessed therein themselves for their own ends.
IV. OF REVENGE. REVENGE is a kind of wild justice ; which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out. For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law ; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office. Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior ; for it is a prince's part to pardon. And Salomon, I am sure, saith, It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence. That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labour in past matters. There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong's sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honour, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other. The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy ; but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish ; else a man's enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh. This the more generous. For the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards1 are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable ; You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies ; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends. But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: Shall we (saith he) take good at God's hands, and not be content to take evil also ? And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Cæsar; for the death of Pertinax ; for the death of Henry the Third 2 of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.
1 Alias ipse sibi poenam conduplicat, inimicus vero lucrum facit.
V. OF ADVERSITY. It was a high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished ; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired. Bona rerum secundarum optabilia ; adversarum mirabilia. Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in ad
i Vili ingenio præditi et malitiosi.
2 So the original. The Latin translation has Henrici Quarti, magni illius Galliæ regis. It is probable therefore that we should read here fourth instead of third. But the observation is true to a certain extent with regard to both.