Page:Bacons Essays 1908 West.djvu/72
the great atheists indeed are hypocrites, which are ever handling holy things, but without feeling; so as they must needs be cauterized in the end.
The causes of atheism are: divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce atheism. Another is, scandal of priests, when it is come to that which St. Bernard saith,
Non est jam dicere ut populus, sic sacerdos; quia nec sic populus, ut sacerdos
A third is custom of profane scoffing in holy matters, which doth little by little deface the reverence of religion. And lastly, learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion. They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature. It destroys likewise magnanimity, and the raising of human nature; for take an example of a dog, and mark what a generosity and courage he will put on when he finds himself maintained by a man, who to him is instead of a God or
which courage is manifestly such as that creature, without that confidence of a better nature than his own, could never attain. So man, when he resteth and assureth himself upon divine protection and favor, gathereth a force and faith which human nature in itself could not obtain; therefore, as atheism is in all respects hateful, so in this, that it depriveth human nature of the means to exalt itself above human frailty. As it is in particular persons, so it is in nations: never was there such a state for magnanimity as Rome. Of this state hear what Cicero saith;
Quam volumus, licet, Patres conscripti, nos amemus, tamen nec numero Hispanos,
- One can no longer say ‘as the people are, so is the priest,’ but rather ‘as the people are, so the priest is not’.
- a better nature (Ovid, Metamorphoses, I.21);