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A CONFESSION OF FAITH,
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE FRANCIS BACON, BARON OF VERULAM, &c.
I Believe that nothing is without beginning, but God; no nature, no matter, no spirit, but one only, and the same God. That God, as he is eternally almighty, only wise, only good in his nature; so he is eternally Father, Son, and Spirit, in persons.
I believe that God is so holy, pure, and jealous, as it is impossible for him to be pleased in any creature, though the work of his own hands; so that neither angel, man, nor world, could stand, or can stand, one moment in his eyes, without beholding the same in the face of a Mediator; and therefore, that before him, with whom all things are present, the Lamb of God was slain before all worlds; without which eternal counsel of his, it was impossible for him to have descended to any work of creation; but he should have enjoyed the blessed and individual society of three persons in Godhead for ever.
But that, out of his eternal and infinite goodness and love purposing to become a Creator, and to communicate to his creatures, he ordained in his eternal counsel, that one person of the Godhead should be united to one nature, and to one particular of his creatures; that so, in the person of the Mediator, the true ladder might be fixed, whereby God might descend to his creatures, and his creatures might ascend to God: so that God, by the reconcilement of the Mediator, turning his countenance towards his creatures, though not in equal light and degree, made way unto the dispensation of his most holy and secret will; whereby some of his creatures might stand, and keep their states others might possibly fall, and be restored; and others might fall, and not be restored to their estate, but yet remain in being, though under wrath and corruption: all with respect to the Mediator; which is the great mystery and perfect centre of all God's ways with his creatures, and unto which all his other works and wonders do but serve and refer.
That he chose, according to his good pleasure, man to be that creature, to whose nature the person
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of the eternal Son of God should be united: and amongst the generations of men, elected a small flock, in whom, by the participation of himself, he purposed to express the riches of his glory; all the ministration of angels, damnation of devils and reprobates, and universal administration of all creatures, and dispensation of all times, having no other end, but as the ways and ambages of God, to be further glorified in his saints, who are one with their head the Mediator, who is one with God.
That by the virtue of this his eternal counsel he condescended of his own good pleasure, and according to the times and seasons to himself known, to become a Creator; and by his eternal Word created all things; and by his eternal Spirit doth comfort and preserve them.
That he made all things in their first estate good, and removed from himself the beginning of all evil and vanity into the liberty of the creature: but reserved in himself the beginning of all restitution to the liberty of his grace; using, nevertheless, and turning the falling and defection of the creature, which to his prescience was eternally known, to make way to his eternal counsel, touching a Mediator, and the work he purposed to accomplish in him.
That God created spirits, whereof some kept their standing, and others fell: he created heaven and earth, and all their armies and generations; and gave unto them constant and everlasting laws, which we call nature; which is nothing but the laws of the creation; which laws nevertheless have had three changes or times, and are to have a fourth or last. The first, when the matter of heaven and earth was created without forms: the second, the interim of perfection of every day's work: the third, by the curse, which notwithstanding was no new creation: and the last at the end of the world, the manner whereof is not yet fully revealed: so as the laws of nature, which now remain and govern inviolably till the end of the world, began to be in force when God first rested from his works, and ceased to create; but received a revocation, in part, by the curse; since which time they change not
That notwithstanding God hath rested and ceased from creating since the first sabbath, yet nevertheless he doth accomplish and fulfil his divine will in all things, great and small, singular and general, as fully and exactly by providence, as he could by miracle and new creation, though his working be not immediate and direct, but by compass; not violating nature, which is his own law, upon the creature.
That at the first, the soul of man was not produced by heaven or earth, but was breathed immediately from God: so that the ways and proceedings of God with spirits are not included in nature, that is, in the laws of heaven and earth, but are reserved to the law of his secret will and grace: wherein God worketh still, and resteth not from the work of redemption, as he restelh from the work of creation; but continueth working till the end of the world: what time that work also shall be accomplished, and an eternal sabbath shall ensue. Likewise, that whensoever God doth transcend the law of nature by miracles, which may ever seem as new creations, he never cometh to that point or pass, but in regard of the work of redemption, which is the greater, and whereto all God's signs and miracles do refer.
That God created man in his own image, in a reasonable soul, in innocency, in free-will, and in sovereignty: that he gave him a law and commandment, which was in his power to keep, but he kept it not: that man made a total defection from God, presuming to imagine that the commandments and prohibitions of God, were not the rules of good and evil, but that good and evil had their own principles and beginnings, and lusted after the knowledge of those imagined beginnings; to the end, to depend no more upon God's will revealed, but upon himself and his own light, as a God; than the which there could not be a sin more opposite to the whole law of God: that yet, nevertheless, this great sin was not originally moved by the malice of man, but was insinuated by the suggestion and instigation of the devil, who was the first defected creature, and fell of malice, not by temptation.
That upon the fall of man, death and vanity entered by the justice of God; and the image of God in man was defaced; and heaven and earth, which were made for man's use, were subdued to corruption by his fall; but then, that instantly, and without intermission of time, after the word of God's law became, through the fall of man, frustrate as to obedience, there succeeded the greater word of the promise, that the righteousness of God might be wrought by faith.
That as well the law of God as the word of his promise endure the same for ever: but that they have been revealed in several manners, according to the dispensation of times. For the law was first imprinted in that remnant of light of nature, which was left after the fall, being sufficient to accuse: then it was more manifestly expressed in the written law; and was yet more opened by the prophets;
and, lastly, expounded in the true perfection by the Son of God, the great Prophet, and perfect interpreter, as also fulfiller of the law. Thaf likewise the word of the promise was manifested and revealed: first, by immediate revelation and inspiration; after by figures, which were of two natures: the one, the rites and ceremonies of the law; the other, the continual history of the old world, and church of the Jews; which though it be literally true, yet is it pregnant of a perpetual allegory and shadow of the work of the redemption to follow. The same promise or evangile was more clearly revealed and declared by the prophets, and then by the Son himself, and lastly by the Holy Ghost, which illuminateth the church to the end of the world.
That in the fulness of time, according to the promise and oath, of a chosen lineage descended the blessed seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God and Saviour of the world; who was conceived by the power and overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and took flesh of the virgin Mary: that the Word did not only take flesh, or was joined to flesh, but was made flesh, though without confusion of substance or nature: so as the eternal Son of God and the ever blessed Son of Mary was one person; so one, as the blessed virgin may be truly and catholicly called Deipara, the Mother of God; so one, as there is no unity in universal nature, not that of the soul and body of man, so perfect; for the three heavenly unities, whereof that is the second, exceed all natural unities: that is to say, the unity of the three persons in Godhead; the unity of God and man in Christ; and the unity of Christ and the chnrch: the Holy Ghost being the worker of both these latter unities; for by the Holy Ghost was Christ incarnate and quickened in flesh, and by the Holy Ghost is man regenerate and quickened in spirit
That Jesus, the Lord, became in the flesh a sacrifice r, and a sacrifice for sin; a satisfaction and price to the justice of God; a meriter of glory and the kingdom; a pattern of all righteousness; a preacher of the word which himself was; a finisher of the ceremonies; a corner-stone to remove the separation between Jew and Gentile; an intercessor for the church, a Lord of nature in his miracles; a conqueror of death and the power of darkness in his resurrection; and that he fulfilled the whole counsel of God, performing all his sacred offices and anointing on earth, accomplished the whole work of the redemption and restitution of man to a state superior to the angels, whereas the state of man by creation was inferior, and reconciled and established all things according to the eternal will of the Father.
That in time, Jesus the Lord was botn in the days of Herod, and suffered under the government of Pontius Pilate, being deputy of the Romans, and under the high priesthood of Caiaphas, and was betrayed by Judas, one of the twelve apostles, and was crucified at Hierusalem; and after a true and natural death, and his body laid in the sepulchre, the third day he raised himself from the bonds of death, and arose and showed himself to many chosen witnesses, by the space of divers days;, and at the end of those days, in the sight of many, ascended into heaven; where he continueth his intercession; and shall from thence, at the day appointed, come in greatest glory to judge the world.
That the sufferings and merits of Christ, as they are sufficient to do away the sins of the whole world, so they are only effectual to those which are regenerate by the Holy Ghost; who breatheth where he will of free grace; which grace, as a seed incorruptible, quickeneth the spirit of man, and conceiveth him anew a son of God and member of Christ: so that Christ having man's flesh, and man having Christ's spirit, there is an open passage and mutual imputation; whereby sin and wrath was conveyed to Christ from man, and merit and life is conveyed to man from Christ: which seed of the Holy Ghost first figurelh in us the image of Christ slain or crucified, through a lively faith; and then reneweth in us the image of God in holiness and charity; though both imperfectly, and in degrees far differing, even in God's elect, as well in regard of the fire of the Spirit, as of the illumination thereof; which is more or less in a large proportion: as namely, in the church before Christ; which yet nevertheless was partaker of one and the same salvation with us, and of one and the same means of salvation with us.
That the work of the Spirit, though it be not tied to any means in heaven or earth, yet it is ordinarily dispensed by the preaching of the word; the administration of the sacraments; the covenants of the fathers upon the children, prayer, reading; the censures of the church; the society of the godly; the cross and afflictions; God's benefits; his judgments upon others; miracles; the contemplation of his creatures: all which, though some be more principal, God useth as the means of vocation and conversion of his elect; not derogating from his power to call immediately by his grace, and at all hours and moments of the day, that is, of man's life, according to his good pleasure.
That the word of God, whereby his will is revealed, continued in revelation and tradition until Moses; and that the Scriptures were from Moses's time to the times of the apostles and evangelists; in whose age, after the coming of the Holy Ghost, the teacher of all truth, the book of the Scriptures was shut and closed, so as not to receive any new addition; and that the church hath no power over the Scriptures to teach or command any thing contrary to the written word, but is as the ark, wherein the tables of the first testament were kept and preserved: that is to say, the church hath only the custody and delivery over of the Scriptures committed unto the same; together with the interpretation of them, but such only as is conceived from themselves.
That there is a universal or catholic church of God, dispersed over the face of the earth, which is Christ's spouse, and Christ's body; being gathered of the fathers of the old worid, of the church of the Jews, of the spirits of the faithful dissolved, and the spirits of the faithful militant, and of the names yet to l>e bom, which are already written in the book of life. That there is also a visible church, distinguished by the outward works of God's covenant,
and the receiving of the holy doctrine, with the use of the mysteries of God, and the invocation and sanctification of his holy name. That there is also a holy succession in the prophets of the New Testament and fathers of the church, from the time of the apostles and disciples which saw our Saviour in the flesh, unto the consummation of the work of the ministry; which persons are called from God by gift, or inward anointing; and the vocation of God followed by an outward calling and ordination of the church.
I believe, that the souls of such os die in the Lord are blessed, and rest from their labours, and enjoy the sight of God, yet so, as they are in expectation of n farther revelation of their glory in the last day. At which time all flesh of man shall arise and be changed, and shall appear and receive from Jesus Christ his eternal judgment; and the glory of the saints shall then be full: and the kingdom shall be given up to God the Father: from which time all things 6hall continue for ever in that being and state, which then they shall receive. So as there are three times, if times they may be called, or parts of eternity: The first, the time before beginnings, when the Godhead was only, without the being of any creature: the second, the time of the mystery, which continueth from the creation to the dissolution of the world: and the third, the time of the revelation of the sons of God; which time is the last, and is everlasting without change.
A PRAYER, OR PSALM,
MADB BY THE
LORD BACON, CHANCELLOR OF ENGLAND
Most gracious Lord God, my merciful Father, from my youth up, my Creator, my Redeemer, my Comforter. Thou, O Lord, soundest and searchest the depths and secrets of all hearts: thou acknowledges! the upright of heart: thou judgest the hypocrite: thou ponderest men's thoughts and doings as in a balance: thou measurest their intentions as with a line: vanity and crooked ways cannot be hid from thee.
Remember, O 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 mourned 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 despised weed, procured the good of all men. If 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 superfluity of maliciousness. Thy creatures have been my books, but thy Scriptures much more. I have sought thee in the courts, fields, and gardens, but I have found thee in thy temples.
Thousands have been my sins, and ten thousands my transgressions: but thy sanctifications have remained with me, and my heart, through thy grace, hath been nn unquenched coal upon thine altar. 0 Lord, my strength, I have since my youth met with thee in all my ways, by thy fatherly compassions, by thy comfortable chastisements, and by thy most visible providence. As thy favours have increased upon me, so have thy corrections; so as thou hast been always near me, O Lord; and ever as my worldly blessings were exalted, so secret darts from tfiee have pierced me; and when I have ascended before men, I have descended in humiliation before thee. And now, when I thought most of peace and honour, thy hand is heavy upon me, and hath humbled me according to thy former loving-kindness, keeping me still in thy fatherly school, not as a bastard, 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, earth, heavens, and all these are nothing to thy mercies. Besides my innumerable sins, I confess before thee, that I am 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, 0 Lord, for my Saviour's sake, and receive me into thy bosom, or guide me in thy ways.
MADE AND USED BY THE LORD CHANCELLOR. BACON.
O Eternal God, and most merciful Father in Jesus Christ: Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts, be now and ever gracious in thy sight, and acceptable unto thee, 0 Lord, our God, our strength, and our Redeemer.
O eternal God, and most merciful Father in Jesus Christ, iri whom thou hast made a covenant of grace and mercy with all those that come unto thee in him; in his name and mediation we humbly prostrate ourselves before the throne of thy mercies' seat, acknowledging that by the breach of all thy holy laws and commandments, we are become wild olive-branches, strangers to thy covenant of grace; we have defaced in ourselves thy sacred image imprinted in us by creation; we have sinned against heaven and before thee, and are no more worthy to be called thy children. O admit us into the place even of hired servants. Lord, thou hast formed us
in our mothers' wombs, thy providence hath hitherto watched over us, and preserved us unto this period of time: O stay not the course of thy mercies and loving-kindness towards us: have mercy upon us, O Lord, for thy dear Son Christ Jesus' sake, who is the way, the truth, and the life. In him, O Lord, we appeal from thy justice to thy mercy, beseeching thee in his name, and for his sake only, thou wilt be graciously pleased freely to pardon and forgive us all our sins and disobedience, whether in thought, word, or deed, committed against thy divine Majesty; and in his precious blood-shedding, death, and perfect obedience, free us from the guilt, the stain, the punishment, and dominion of all our sins, and clothe us with his perfect righteousness. There is mercy with thee, O Lord, that thou mayest be feared; yea, thy mercies swallow up the greatness of our sins: speak peace to our souls and consciences; make us happy in the free remission of all our sins, and be reconciled to thy poor servants in Jesus Christ, in whom thou art well pleased: suffer not the works of thine own hands to perish; thou art not delighted in the death of sinners, but in their conversion. Turn our hearts, and we shall be turned j convert us, and we shall be converted; illuminate the eyes of our minds and understanding with the bright beams of thy Holy Spirit, that we may daily grow in the saving knowledge of the heavenly mystery of our redemption, wrought by our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; sanctify our wills and affection by the same Spirit, the most sacred fountain of all grace and goodness; reduce them to the obedience of thy most holy will in the practice of all piety toward thee, and charity towards all men. Inflame our hearts with thy love, cast forth of them what displeaseth thee, all infidelity, hardness of heart, profaneness, hypocrisy, contempt of thy holy word and ordinances, all uncleanness, and whatsoever advanceth itself in opposition to thy holy will. And grant that henceforth, through thy grace, we may be enabled to lead a godly, holy, sober, and christian life, in true sincerity and uprightness of heart before thee. To this end, plant thy holy fear in our hearts, grant that it may never depart from before our eyes, but continually guide our feet in the paths of thy righteousness, and in the ways of thy commandments: increase our weak faith, grant it may daily bring forth the true fruits of unfeigned repentance, that by the power of the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ we may daily die unto sin, and by the power of his resurrection we may be quickened, and raised up to newness of life, may be truly born anew, and may be effectually made partakers of the first resurrection, that then the second death may never have dominion over us. Teach us, O Lord, so to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom; make us ever mindful of our last end, and continually to exercise the knowledge of grace in our hearts, that in the said divorce of soul and body, we may be translated here to that kingdom of glory prepared for all those that love thee, and shall trust in thee; even then and ever, O Lord, let thy holy angels pitch their tents round about us, to guard and defend us from all the malice of Satan, and from all perils both of soul and body. Pardon all our unthankfulness, make us daily more and more thankful for all thy mercies and benefits daily poured down upon us. Let these our humble prayers ascend to the throne of grace, and be granted not only for these mercies, but for whatsoever else thy wisdom knows needful for us; and for all those that are in need, misery, and distress, whom, Lord, thou hast afflicted either in soul or body; grant them patience and perseverance in the end, and to the end: And that, O Lord, not for any merits of ours, but only for the merits of thy Son, and our alone Saviour Christ Jesus; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit be ascribed all glory, &c. Amen.
THE STUDENT'S PRAYER.
To God the Father, God the Word, God the Spirit, we pour forth most humble and hearty supplications; that he, remembering the calamities of mankind, and the pilgrimage of this our life, in which we wear out days few and evil, would please to open to us new refreshments out of the fountains of his goodness, for the alleviating of our miseries. This also we humbly and earnestly beg, that human things may not prejudice such as are divine; neither that from the unlocking of the gates of sense, and the kindling of a greater natural light, any thing of incredulity, or intellectual night, may arise in our minds towards divine mysteries. But rather, that by our mind thoroughly cleansed and purged from fancy and vanities, and yet subject and perfectly given up to the divine oracles, there may be given nnto faith the things that are faith's. Amen.
THE WRITER'S PRAYER.
Thou, O Father, who gavest the visible light as the first-born of thy creatures, and didst pour into man the intellectual light as the top and consummation of thy workmanship, be pleased to protect and govern this work, which, coming from thy goodness, retnrneth to thy glory. Thou, after thou hadst reviewed the works which thy hands had made, beheldest that every thing was very good, and thou didst rest with complacency in them. But man, reflecting on the works which he had made, saw that all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and could by no means acquiesce in them. Wherefore, if we labour in thy works with the sweat of our brows, thou wilt make us partakers of thy vision and thy sabbath. We humbly beg that this mind may be stedfastly in us; and that thou, by our hands, and also by the hands of others, on whom thou shalt bestow the same spirit, wilt please to convey a largess of new alms to thy family of mankind. These things we commend to thy everlasting love, by our Jesus, thy Christ, God with us. Amen.
THE CHARACTERS OF A BELIEVING
In paradoxes and seeming contradictions.
1. A Christian is one that believes things his reason cannot comprehend; he hopes for things which neither he nor any man alive ever saw: he labours for that which he knoweth he shall never obtain; yet in the issue, his belief appears not to be false; his hope makes him not ashamed; his labour is not in vain.
2. He believes three to be one, and one to be three; a father not to be elder than his son; a son to be equal with his father; and one proceeding from both to be equal with both; he believing three persons in one nature, and two natures in one person.
3. He believes a virgin to be a mother of a son; and that very son of hers to be her maker. He believes him to have been shut up in a narrow room, whom heaven and earth could not contain. He believes him to have been born in time, who was and is from everlasting. He believes him to have been a weak child, carried in arms, who is the Almighty; and him once to have died, who only hath life and immortality in himself.
4. He believes the God of all grace to have been angry with one that hath never offended him; and that God, that hates sin, to be reconciled to himself, though sinning continually, and never making, or being able to make him satisfaction. He believes a most just God to have punished a most just person, and to have justified himself though a most ungodly sinner. He believes himself freely pardoned, and yet a sufficient satisfaction was made for him.
5. He believes himself to be precious in God's sight, and yet loathes himself in his own. He dares not justify himself even in those things wherein he can find no fault with himself, and yet believes God accepts him in those services wherein he is able to find many faults.
6. He praises God for his justice, and yet fears him for his mercy. He is so ashamed as that he dares not open his mouth before God; and yet he comes with boldness to God, and asks him any thing he needs. He is so humble as to acknowledge himself to deserve nothing but evil; and yet believes that God means him all good. He is one that fears always, yet is as bold as a lion. He is often sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; many times complaining, yet always giving of thanks. He is the most lowly-minded, yet the greatest aspirer; most contented, yet ever craving.
7. He bears a lofty spirit in a mean condition; when he is ablest, he thinks meanest of himself. He is rich in poverty, and poor in the midst of riches. He believes all the world to be his, yet he dares take nothing without special leave from God. He covenants with God for nothing, yet looks for a great reward. He loseth his life, and gains by it; and whilst he loseth it, he saveth it.