The Works of Francis Bacon, Volume 2/A Confession of Faith
A CONFESSION OF FAITH, WRITTEN BY 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 forever.
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 state, 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 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
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 resteth 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, and 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. That 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 Church: 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 sacrificer, 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; apreacher 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 born 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 shewed 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 figureth 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 an 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 world, 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 be born, 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 as 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 a 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 shall 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.