Francis Bacon's Essays; an Analysis of its Religious Features
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Francis Bacon is often misrepresented as a "secular modern who dismissed religion in order to promote the human advancement of knowledge" (see Stephen A. McKnight). In order to find out whether this is true or not, a selection of Francis Bacon's Essays is analysed on its religious features. The function of The Essays as a literary genre will also be taken into account. Stephen A. McKnight's "The Religious Foundations of Francis Bacon's Thought" (2006) and my own analysis of Bacon's Confession of Faith serve as a starting point. It will become clear that The Essays form a part of Bacon's religiously inspired Instauration Program. That The Essays are inspired by Christian faith furthermore appears from a discussion of the explicit or implicit references to the Bible. Important Christian notions are charity an piety and God's providence. Typical for Bacon's religious ideas is the emphasis on nature and the laws of nature. The classics play an important role here and are often used to support Bacon's Christian ideas. Yet Bacon also turns out to be pragmatic. Especially in his focus on the benefit of religion for the state, Bacon's pragmatic motives overshadow his religious motives. With respect to the contemporary different streamings in Christian faith, Bacon's religious ideas can be considered as typically Anglican, as will also appear from the analysis of The Essays.