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themselves ! O profane persons, worse than Esau, who will sell their birthright for so poor a morsel! Come see the madness of mankind ! It is a doubt to them whether God or a filthy lust should be more loved and obeyed ! it is a doubt with them whether heaven or earth be better worth their labour! whether eternity or an inch of time; whether a soul or a perishing body should be more cared for. Are these wise men ?
Did I say, it is a doubt ? Yea, their choice and practice showeth that at the present they are resolved : vanity, and shadows, and dreams are preferred; heaven is neglected ; “they are lovers of pleasure more than of God:” they set less than a feather in the balance against more than all the world, and they choose the first, and neglect the latter. This is the wise world !
3. And all this they do against common reason, against daily teaching of appointed pastors, against the judgment of the most learned and wise men in the world : against the express word of God; against the obligations of daily mercies ; against the warnings of many afflictions; against the experience of all the world, who pronounce all this vanity, which they sell their souls for ; even while men die daily before their eyes, and they are certain that they must shortly die themselves ; while they walk over the churchyard, and tread on the graves of those that went before them; yet will they take no warning, but neglect God and their souls, and sin on to the very death.
4. And this is not the case only of here and there one; we need not go to Bedlam to seek them. Alas! in how much more honoured and splendid habitations and conditions may they be
found! In what reverend and honourable garbs! and in how great numbers throughout the world ! And these are not only sots and idiots, that never were told of better things; but those that would be accounted witty, or men of learning and venerable aspect and esteem. But this is a subject that we use to preach on to the people; it being easy, by a multitude of arguments, to prove the madness of all ungodly persons. And is this nothing to humble us, who were naturally like them, and who, so far as we are sinners, are alas ! too like them still ?
XVI. And the fewness of wise men in all professions, doth tell us how rare true wisdom is. Among men whose wisdom lieth in speculation, where the effects of it do not openly difference it much from prefidence, the difference is not commonly discerned : a prating speculator goeth for a wise man; but in practicals the difference appeareth by the effects. All men see, that among physicians and lawyers, those that are excellent are few. And even among the godly preachers of the Gospel, O that it were more easy and common, to meet with men suited to the majesty, mystery, greatness, necessity and holiness of their works ; that speak to God, and from God, like divines indeed, and have the true frame of sound theology ready in their heads and
and that in public and private speak to sinners, as beseemeth those that believe that they and we are at the door of eternity, and that we speak, and they hear for the life of souls, and that are uncertain whether ever they shall speak again. Alas! Lord, thy treasure is not only in earthern vessels, but how ordinarily in polluted
vessels, and how common are empty, sounding vessels, or such as have dirt or air instead of holy treasure !
And as for philosophers and judicious speculators in divinity, do I need to say, that the number is too small? Of such as are able judiciously to resolve a difficulty, to answer cases of conscience, to defend the truth, to stop the mouths of all gainsayers, and to teach holy doctrine clearly and in true method, without confusion, or running into any extremes? We bless God, this land, and the other reformed churches have had a laudable degree of this mercy; the Lord restore it to them and us, and continue the comfortable measure that we possess.
XVII. And it is a notorious discovery of the common ignorance, that a wise man is so hardly known. Men that have not wisdom to imitate them, have not wit enough to value them ; so that as Seneca saith, “ He that will have the pleasure of wisdom, must be content with it for itself, without applause: two or three approvers must suffice him.' The blind know not who hath the best eyesight. Swine trample upon pearls. Nay, it is well if, when they have increased knowledge, they increase not sorrow, and become not the mark of envy and hatred, and of the venom of malignant tongues and hands, yea, and that merely for their knowledge sake. All the learning of Socrates, Demosthenes, Cicero, Seneca, Lucan, and many more; and all the learning and piety of Cyprian, and all the martyrs of those ages; of Boetius, of the African bishops that perished by Hunnerichus ; of Peter Ramus, Marlorate, Cranmer, Ridley, Philpot, Bradford, and abundance such, could not keep them from a cruel death. All the excellency of Greg. Nazi. anzen, Chrysostom, and many others, could not keep them from suffering by orthodox bishops ; Insomuch that Nazianzen leaveth it to his people as a mark of the man whom he would have them value and choose when he was dead. • This one thing I require, that he be one of those that are envied, not pitied by others; who obey not all men in all things; but for the love of truth in some things incurreth men's offence.' And of himself he professeth, that, “Though most thought otherwise than he did, that this was nothing to him who cared only for the truth, as that which must condemn him or absolve him, and make him happy or miserable. But what other men thought, was nothing to him, any more than what another dreameth.' Orat. 27. p. 468. And therefore he saith, Orat. 26. p. 443, `As for me, I am a small and poor pastor, and to speak sparingly, not yet grateful and accepted with other pastors, which whether it be done by right judgment and reason, or by malevolence of mind and study of contention, I know not.' And Orat. 32. p. 523, 'I am tired, while I fight both with speech and envy, with enemies, and with those that are our own. Those strike at the breast, and obtain not their desire : for an open enemy is easily taken heed of; but these come behind my back and are more troublesome.'
Such obloquy also had Jerom, such had Augustine himself, and who knoweth not that envy is virtue's shadow? And what talk I of others, when all godly men are hated by the world, and the apostles and Christ himself were used as they were; for Christ saith,“Which of the prophets did not your fathers kill and persecute ?” (Matt. xxiii.) If hating, persecuting, slandering, silencing, killing men that know more than the rest, be a sign of wisdom, the world hath been wise from Cain's age until this.
Even a Galilæus, a Savonarola, a Campanella, &c. shall feel it, if they will be wiser than the rest: so that Solomon's warning (Eccles. vii. 16) concerneth them that will save their skin; “Be not righteous overmuch, neither make thyself over-wise : why wilt thou destroy thyself ?” But again, I may prognosticate with Anthisthenes in Laertius, •Then are cities perishing, when they are not wise enough to know the good from the bad.' And with Cicero, Rhet. 1, That man's safety is desperate whose ears are shut against the truth, so that even from a friend he cannot hear it.'
XVIII. And this leadeth me to the next discovery. How rare wisdom is in the world, in that the wisest men and most learned teachers bave so small success. How few are much the wiser for them! If they praise them, they will not learn of them, till they reach to their degree. Men may delight in the sweetness of truth them. selves ; but it is a feast where few will strive for part with them. A very few men that have first sprung up in obscure times have had great success : so had Origen at Alexandria, and Chrysostom at Constantinople, but with bitter sauce, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle at Athens, and Augustine at Hippo, had the most that history maketh mention of, with Demosthenes and Cicero in oratory; Melanchthon at Wirtemburgh,