Religio Medici and Other Essays by Sir Thomas Browne.

"People go off to marvel at the height of mountains and the great waves of the sea and the broad courses of rivers, and the flow of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars: but they neglect themselves": C.S. Lewis' copy of Sir Thomas Browne's highly influential 17th century Christian confessional Religio Medici; with Lewis' ownership signature and notes throughout

Religio Medici and Other Essays by Sir Thomas Browne.

BROWNE, Thomas. [C.S. Lewis].


Item Number: 122430

London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd, [1911].

C.S. Lewis’ copy of Browne’s celebrated 17th century “confession of Christian faith qualified by an eclectic and generally skeptical attitude” (The Oxford Companion). Octavo, original boards, paper spine label, gilt vignette to the front panel, tissue-guarded engraved frontispiece portrait of Browne. British author and theologian C.S. Lewis’ copy with his ownership signature to the front free endpaper, “C.S. Lewis April 1919”, underlines, marks, and footnotes to several pages, most notably a lengthy quote from The Confessions of St. Augustine to page 29: “(1) Et eunt homines mirari alta montium et ingentes fluctus maris et latissimos lapsus fluminum et oceani ambitum et gynos siderum et relinquunt se ipsos nec mirantur. (Augustin.Conf.X.viii.15). Cf Davies Nosce Teipsum. Introd.p.49”, which translates as: “People go off to marvel at the height of mountains and the great waves of the sea and the broad courses of rivers, and the flow of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars: but they neglect themselves”, which Lewis has added as a footnote to the passage, “we carry with us the wonders we seek without us: there is all Africa and her prodigies in us “(1)” We are that bold and adventurous piece of nature, which he that studies wisely learns, in compendium, what others labour at in a divided piece and endless volume.” Lewis has also noted “Antimonies p. 41” on the verso of the rear endpaper and left marginal pencil marks next to several passages including, “As for those wingy mysteries in divinity and airy subtleties in religion which have unhinged the brains of better heads, they have never stretched the pia mater of mine. Methinks there be not impossibilities enough in religion for an active faith; the deepest mysteries ours contains have not only been illustrated, by maintained, by syllogism and the rule of reason” and “There is therefore some other hand that twines the thread of life than that of nature: we are not only ignorant in antipathies and occult qualities: our ends are as obscure as our beginnings: the line of our days is drawn by night, and the various effects therein by a pencil that is invisible.” Regarded by many as one of the most influential Christian apologists of his time, C.S. Lewis has been referred to as  “The Apostle to the Skeptics” due to his early approach to religious belief as a sceptic, and his following conversion. Lewis was very interested in presenting an argument from reason against metaphysical naturalism and for the existence of God. His works Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles were all concerned, to one degree or another, with refuting popular objections to Christianity. His autobiography, Surprised by Joy, recounted his conversion and his most famous work, Chronicles of Narnia contained strong allegorical Christian messages. In near fine condition. A remarkable example linking two great intellectual theologians and exhibiting Browne’s direct influence on Lewis’ thinking.

First published in 1643 after an unauthorized version was distributed the previous year, Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici became an instant best-seller upon publication and has remained remarkably influential throughout the centuries. Structured upon the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity and in many ways a psychological self-portrait, the text served to express Browne's beliefs in the doctrine of sola fide, the existence of hell, the Last Judgment, the resurrection and other tenets of Christianity with the use of scientific imagery to illustrate religious truths and exhibit the relationship between science and religion. One of the four founding fathers of John Hopkins Hospital and "the father of modern medicine", William Osler is said to have learned Religio Medici by heart, Virginia Woolf regarded it as the basis for all future confessionals and memoirs, and Carl Jung cited it many times throughout his writings.

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