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THE Character of a believing Christian in paradoxes and seeming contradictions is said to have appeared first in 1643, as a separate pamphlet, under Bacon's name;1 and in 1648 it was inserted in the Remains; upon the authority no doubt of that pamphlet; which is therefore the sole authority on which it is ascribed to Bacon, and amounts in effect to no more than this - that within seven years after his death somebody had either thought it was his, or thought that it might be plausibly attributed to him, and that his name on the titlepage would help the sale.
Rawley says nothing of it: and as he can hardly be supposed to have overlooked it in the collection, his silence must be understood as equivalent to a statement that it was one of the many "pamphlets put forth under his lordship's name," which "are not to be owned for his." 2 Tenison says nothing about it. No traces of it, or of any part of it, or of anything at all resembling it, are to be found among the innumerable Baconian manuscripts, fair and foul, fragments, rough notes, discarded beginnings, loose leaves, -which may still be seen at Lambeth, in the British Museum, and 2 Resuscitatio, at the end.
1 Rémusat, p. 150. note.
in other repositories. So far as I know, if the publisher of the edition of 1643 had not put Bacon's name upon the titlepage, there would have been no reason at all for thinking that he had anything to do with it; and as it is, the reason is so slight, that if the probabilities were otherwise balanced, it would hardly turn the scale. The name on the titlepage of such a publication is enough to suggest and justify the inquiry whether there be any evidence, internal or external, to confirm the statement; but can scarcely be taken for evidence in itself, even in the absence of evidence the other way.
In the opinions and sentiments which the work implies, there is nothing from which I should infer either that it was not Bacon's or that it was. It is the work of an orthodox Churchman of the early part of the 17th century, who fully and unreservedly accepting on the authority of revelation the entire scheme of Christian theology, and believing that the province of faith is altogether distinct from that of reason, found a pleasure in bringing his spiritual loyalty into stronger relief by confronting and numbering up the intellectual paradoxes which it involved. In these days of uncertain faith it has indeed been mistaken for sarcastic, but I can have no doubt whatever that it was written (whoever wrote it) in the true spirit of the Credo quia impossibile, and not only in perfect sincerity, but also in profound security of conviction. One might as well suppose that the Athanasian Creed was written in derision of the particular doctrine of the Trinity, as that this was written in derision of the doctrines of the Christian Church in general.