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Being shortly released, he had the imprudence to threaten an action for false imprisonment, whereupon he was re-arrested. Chief Justice Coke held that, technically, the Consistory Court could not sentence to burning; but Hobart and Bacon, the law officers of the Crown, and other judges, were of opinion that it could. Legate, accordingly, was duly tried, sentenced, and burned at Smithfield; and Wightman a few days later was similarly disposed of at Lichfield.
As we read over the brief contemporary notices which have reached us, we look in vain for the slightest intimation that the death of these two men was regarded with any other feelings than those with which the writers were accustomed to hear of the execution of an ordinary murderer. If any remark was made, it was in praise of James for the devotion which he showed to the cause of God.
It was not twenty years since Hamond, Lewis, Cole, and Kett had been burned on similar grounds; and there had been no outcry then. Catholic priests had been executed by the score: why not a pair of Unitarians?
But, whether by force of recoil from a revival of the fires of Smithfield or from a perception that mere cruelty did not avail to destroy heresy, the theological ultima ratio was never again resorted to on English ground. Even King James, in opening the Parliament of , professed to recognize that no religion or heresy was ever extirpated by violence.
He does but use the old pseudo-arguments of universal consent and design, with the simple device of translating polytheistic terms into monotheistic. The book tells only of difficulties evaded by vociferation. And while the growing stress of the strife between the ecclesiasticism of the Crown and the forces of nonconformity more and more thrust to the front religio-political issues, there began alongside of those strifes the new and [ 25 ] powerful propaganda of deism, which, beginning with the Latin treatise, De Veritate , of Lord Herbert of Cherbury , was gradually to leaven English thought for over a century.
Further, there now came into play the manifold influence of Francis Bacon , whose case illustrates perhaps more fully than any other the difficulties, alike external and internal, in the way of right thinking. Taken as a whole, his work is on account of those difficulties divided against itself, insisting as he does alternately on a strict critical method and on the subjection of reason to the authority of revelation. He sounds a trumpet-call to a new and universal effort of free and circumspect intelligence; and on the instant he stipulates for the prerogative of Scripture.
Yet he not only transgresses often his own principal precepts in his scientific reasoning; he falls below several of his contemporaries and predecessors in respect of his formal insistence on the final supremacy of theology over reason, alike in physics and in ethics.
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Where Hooker is ostensibly seeking to widen the field of rational judgment on the side of creed, Bacon, the very champion of mental emancipation in the abstract, declares the boundary to be fixed. Of those lapses from critical good faith, part of the explanation is to be found in the innate difficulty of vital innovation for all intelligences; part in the special pressures of the religious environment. On the latter head Bacon makes such frequent and emphatic protest that we are bound to infer on his part a personal experience in his own day of the religious hostility which long followed his memory.
For the human understanding is obnoxious to the influence of the imagination no less than to the influence of common notions. As has been shown by Dr. The Paradoxes are the deliberate declaration of a pietist that he believes the dogmas of revelation without rational comprehension.
Yet even in the calculated extravagance of this last pronouncement there is a ground for question whether the fallen Chancellor, hoping to retrieve himself, and trying every device of his ripe sagacity to avert opposition, was not straining his formal orthodoxy beyond his real intellectual habit. Accordingly, the charge of atheism—which he notes as commonly brought against all who dwell solely on second causes —was actually cast at his memory in the next generation.
Lechler Gesch. Amand Saintes, Hist. Fowler in his Bacon , pp. But the tendency of the specific Baconian teaching is none the less to put these beliefs aside, and to overlay them with a naturalistic habit of mind. At the first remove from Bacon we have Hobbes. And on the metaphysical as on the common-sense side of his thought he is self-contradictory, even as most men have been before and since, because judgment cannot easily fulfil the precepts it frames for itself in illuminated hours.
Latter-day students have been impressed, as was Leibnitz, by the original insight with which Bacon negated the possibility of our forming any concrete conception of a primary form of matter, and insisted on its necessary transcendence of our powers of knowledge. When, however, we realize that similar inconsistency is fallen into after him by Spinoza, and wholly escaped perhaps by no thinker, we are in a way to understand that with all his deflections from his own higher law Bacon may have profoundly and fruitfully influenced the thought of the next generation, if not that of his own.
The fact of this influence has been somewhat obscured by the [ 30 ] modern dispute as to whether he had any important influence on scientific progress. For the scientific men of that century—and only among them did Copernicanism find the slightest acceptance—it was thus no fatal shortcoming in Bacon to have failed to grasp the true scheme of sidereal motion, any more than it was in Galileo to be wrong about the tides and comets. They could realize that it was precisely in astronomy, for lack of special study and expert knowledge, that Bacon was least qualified to judge.
For a time the explicit tributes came chiefly from abroad; though at all times, even in the first shock of his disgrace, there were Englishmen perfectly convinced of his greatness. To the winning of foreign favour he had specially addressed himself in his adversity. Grown wary in act as well as wise in theory, he deleted from the Latin De Augmentis a whole series of passages of the Advancement of Learning which disparaged Catholics and Catholicism; and he had his reward in being appreciated by many Jesuit and other Catholic scholars.
In all this he was using his own highest powers, his comprehension of human character and his genius for speech. And though his own scientific results were not to be compared with those of Galileo and Descartes, the wonderful range of his observation and his curiosity, the unwearying zest of his scrutiny of well-nigh all the known fields of Nature, must have been an inspiration to multitudes of students besides those who have recorded their debt to him. It is probable that but for his literary genius, which though little discussed is of a very rare order, his influence would have been both narrower and less durable; but, being one of the great writers of the modern world, he has swayed men down till our own day.
Certain it is that alongside of his doctrine there persisted in England, apart from all printed utterance, a movement of deistic rationalism, of which the eighteenth century saw only the fuller development. Of popular freethought in the rest of Europe there is little to chronicle for a hundred and fifty years after the Reformation. In , all attempts at ecclesiastical reconciliation having failed, the emperor Charles V, in whom Melanchthon had seen a model monarch, decided to put down the Protestant heresy by war. Luther had just died, apprehensive for his cause.
Civil war now raged till the peace of Augsburg in ; whereafter Charles abdicated in favour of his son Philip. Protestantism on the intellectual side, as already noted, had sunk into a bitter and barren polemic among the reformers themselves; and many who had joined the movement reverted to Catholicism. But Protestantism was well welded to the financial interest of the many princes and others who had acquired the Church lands confiscated at the Reformation; since a return to Catholicism would mean the surrender of these.
Protestantism saw no way of advance; and the prevailing temper began to be that [ 33 ] of the Dark Ages, expectant of the end of the world. The only element of rationalism that one historian of culture can detect is the tendency of the German moralists of the time to turn the devil into an abstraction by identifying him with the different aspects of human folly and vice.
Wier was a physician, and saw the problem partly as one in pathology. Other laymen, and even priests, as we have seen, had reacted still more strongly against the prevailing insanity; but it had the authority of Luther on its side, and with the common people the earlier protests counted for little. Reactions against Protestant bigotry in Holland on other lines were not much more successful, and indeed were not numerous. One of the most interesting is that of Dirk Coornhert — , who by his manifold literary activities became one of the founders of Dutch prose.
It does not appear, however, that any such peninsular experience was required, seeing that the Dutch Inquisition became abundantly active about the same period. Learning Latin at thirty, in order to read Augustine, he became a translator of Cicero and—singularly enough—of Boccaccio. An engraver to trade, he became first notary and later secretary to the burgomaster of Haarlem; and, failing to steer clear of the strifes of the time, was arrested and imprisoned at the Hague in On his release he sought safety at Kleef in Santen, whence he returned after the capture of Brill to become secretary of the new national Government at Haarlem; but he had again to take to flight, and lived at Kleef from to In he debated at Leyden with two preachers of Delft on predestination, which he declared to be unscriptural; and was officially ordered to keep silence.
Thereupon he published a protest, and got into fresh trouble by drawing up, as notary, an appeal to the Prince of Orange on behalf of his Catholic fellow-countrymen for freedom of worship, and by holding another debate at the Hague. Christianity, he insisted, lay not in profession or creed, but in practice.
By way of restraining the ever-increasing malignity of theological strifes, he made the quaint proposal that the clergy should not be allowed to utter anything but the actual words of the Scriptures, and that all works of theology should be sequestrated.
For these and other heteroclite suggestions he was expelled from Delft where he sought finally to settle, by the magistrates, at the instance of the preachers, but was allowed to die in peace at Gouda, where he wrote to the last. All the while, though he drew for doctrine on Plutarch, Cicero, [ 35 ] Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius equally with the Bible, Coornhert habitually founded on the latter as the final authority.
Cultures et foi - Cultures and Faith - Culturas y fe - 4/ - Documenta
It was not till after generations of furious intolerance that a larger outlook was possible in the Netherlands; and the first steps towards it were naturally taken independently of theology. Although Grotius figured for a century as one of the chief exponents of Christian evidences, it is certain that his great work on the Law of War and Peace made for a rationalistic conception of society.
Where Grotius, defender of the faith, figured as a heretic, unbelief could not speak out, though there are traces of its underground life. Views far short of atheism, however, were dangerous to their holders; for the merely Socinian work of Voelkel, published at Amsterdam in , was burned by order of the authorities, and a second impression shared the same fate. His book is a remarkable investigation of the rise of the doctrines of the Logos and the Trinity, which he traced to polytheism, making out that the first Christians, whom he identified with the Nazarenes, regarded Jesus [ 36 ] as a man.
The book evoked many answers, and it is somewhat surprising that Zwicker escaped serious persecution, dying peacefully in Amsterdam in , whereas writers much less pronounced in their heresy incurred aggressive hostility. Descartes, as we shall see, during his stay in Holland was menaced by clerical fanaticism. Some fared worse. In the generation after Grotius, one Koerbagh, a doctor, for publishing a dictionary of definitions containing advanced ideas, had to fly from Amsterdam.
He compromised by dying in prison within the year. Even as late as the juri-consult Hadrian Beverland afterwards appointed, through Isaac Vossius, to a lay office under the Church of England was imprisoned and struck off the rolls of Leyden University for his Peccatum Originale , in which he speculated erotically as to the nature of the sin of Adam and Eve. The book was furiously answered, and publicly burned. And it seems to have been through Holland, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, that there came the fresh Unitarian impulse which led to the considerable spread of the movement in England after the Revolution of Unitarianism, which we have seen thus invading Holland somewhat persistently during half a century, was then as now impotent beyond a certain point by reason of its divided allegiance, though it has always had the support of some good minds.
Its denial of the deity of Jesus could not be made out without a certain superposing of reason on Scripture; and yet to Scripture it always finally appealed. The majority of men accepting such authority have always tended to believe more uncritically; and the majority of men who are habitually critical will always repudiate the Scriptural jurisdiction. In Poland, accordingly, the movement, so flourishing in its earlier years, was soon arrested, as we have seen, by the perception that it drove many Protestants back to Catholicism; among these being presumably a number whose critical insight showed them that there was no firm standing-ground between Catholicism and Naturalism.
Every new advance within the Unitarian pale [ 37 ] terrified the main body, many of whom were mere Arians, holding by the term Trinity, and merely making the Son subordinate to the Father.
He recanted, and was reinstated, but his adherents seem to have been excommunicated. The sect thus formed were termed Semi-Judaizers by another heretic, Martin Czechowicz, who himself denied the pre-existence of Jesus, and made him only a species of demi-god; yet Fausto Sozzini, better known as Faustus Socinus, who also wrote against them, and who had worked with Biandrata to have Davides imprisoned, conceded that prayer to Christ was optional.
That, however, did not serve him with the Catholics; and when the reaction set in he suffered severely at their hands. He seems to have been zealous against all heresy that outwent his own, preaching passive obedience in politics as emphatically as any churchman, and condemning alike the rising of the Dutch against Spanish rule and the resistance of the French Protestants to their king. This attitude may have had something to do with the better side of the ethical doctrines of the sect, which leant considerably to non-resistance. Czechowicz who was deposed by his fellow-Socinians for schism seems not only to have preached a patient endurance of injuries, but to have meant it; and to the Socinian sect belongs the [ 38 ] main credit of setting up a humane compromise on the doctrine of eternal punishment.