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with Luther, and Zuinglius in Helvetia, and Calvin at Geneva prevailed much : and now and then an age hath been fruitful of learned, wise and godly men ; and when we are ready to expect, that each of these should have a multitude of scholars like themselves, suddenly all declineth, and ignorance and sensuality get uppermost again. And all this is because that all men are born ignorant and sensual ; but no man attaineth to any excellency of wisdom, without so long and laborious studies, as the flesh will give leave to few men to perform. So that he that hath most laboriously searched for knowledge all his days, knoweth not how to make others partakers of it; no not his own children of whom he hath the education : unless it be here and there one Scaliger, one Paræus, one Tossanus, one Trelcatius, one Vossius, &c. How few excellent men do leave one excellent son behind them ! O what would a wise man give, that he could but bequeath all his wisdom to others when he dieth!
XIX. And it is evident that great knowledge is nore rare than prefidence, in that the hardest students, and most knowing men, complain more than others of difficulties and ignorance : when certainly other men have more cause. They that study a little, know little, and think they know much : they that study very hard, but not to maturity, oft become sceptics, and think nothing certain. But they that follow it till they have digested their studies, do find a certainty in the great and necessary things, but confess their ignorance in abundance of things which the presumptuous are confident in. I will not leave this out, to escape the carping of those that will say, that by this character I proclaim myself one of the wisest, as long as it is but the confession of my ignorance which is their occasion. But I will say as Augustin to Jerom, Epist. 29, • Adversus eos qui sibi videntur scire quod nesciunt, hoc tutiores sumus, quod hanc ignorantiam nostram non ignoramus.'
XX. Lastly, every man's nature, in the midst of his pride, is conscious of the fallibility and frailty of his own understanding. And thence it is that men are so fearful in great matters of being overreached. And wherever any conclusion dependeth upon a contexture of many proofs, or on any long, operous work of reason, men have a natural consciousness of the uncertainty of it. Yea, though our doctrines of the immortality of our own souls, and of the life of retribution after this, and the truth of the Gospel, have so much evidence as they have, yet a lively, certain faith is the more rare and difficult, because men are so conscious of the fallibility of their own understandings, that about things unseen and unsensible, they are still apt to doubt, whether they be not deceived in their apprehensions of the evidence.
By these twenty instances it is too plain that there is little solid wisdom in the world ; that wise men are few, and those few are but a little wise. And should not this suffice to make all men, but especially the unlearned, half-learned, the young, and unexperienced, to abate their ungrounded confidence and to have humble and suspicious thoughts of their own apprehensions.
HONOUR, BUT THE PRAISE OF CHRIST, HIS
SPEAK IN A PLAIN MANNER. I HAVE been myself often scandalizing at the Fathers of the fourth Carthage Council,* who forbid bishops the reading of the heathen books; and at some good old unlearned Christian bishops, who spake to the same purpose, and often reproach Apollinaris, Ætius and other heretics for their secular or Gentile learning, logic, &c. And I wonder that Julian and they, should prohibit the same thing. But one that is so far distant from the action, is not a competent judge of the reasons of it. Perhaps there were some Christian authors then, who were sufficient for such literature as was best for the Church : perhaps they saw that the danger of reading the heathens' philosophy was like to be greater than the benefit: both because it was such that they lived among, and were to gather the churches out of; and if they put an honour upon logic and philosophy, they might find it more difficult to draw men from that party which excelled in it, to the belief of the Scriptures which seemed to have so little of it: and they had seen also how a mixture of Platonic notions with Christianity, had not only been the original of many heresies, but had sadly blemished many great doctors of the churches.
Whatever the cause was, it appeareth that in those days it was the deepest insight into the
* Concil. Carth. 4, Can. 16.
sacred Scriptures which was reckoned for the most solid learning; philosophy was so confounded by differences, sects, uncertainties, and falsehoods, that made it the more despicable, by how much the less pure. And logic had so many precarious rules and notions, as made it fitter to wrangle and play with, than to further grave men in their deep and serious inquiry in the great things of God, and mysteries of salvation.
But yet it cannot be denied but that true learning of the subservient arts and sciences is of so great use to the accomplishing of man's mind with wisdom, that it is one of the greatest offences that ever was taken against Christ and the holy Scriptures, that so little of this learning is found in them, in comparison of Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, or Cicero. But to remove the danger of this offence, let these things following be well considered :
I. Every means is to be judged of by its aptitude to its proper use and end : morality is the subject and business of the Scriptures : it is not the work of it to teach men logic and philosophy, any more than to teach them languages : Who will be offended with Christ for not teaching men Latin, Greek, or Hebrew : Architecture, Navigation, or Mechanic Arts ? And why should they be more offended with him for not teaching them Astronomy, Geometry, Physics, Metaphysics, Logic, &c. It was none of his work.
II. Nature is presupposed to grace ; and God in nature has before given man sufficient helps to the attainment of so much of the knowledge of nature, as was convenient for him. Philosophy is the knowledge of God's works of creation. It
was not this (at least chiefly) that man lost by his fall : it was from God, and not from the creature that he turned : and it was to the knowledge of God, rather than of the creature, that he was to be restored. What need one be sent from heaven to teach men the order and rules of speaking ? or to teach men those arts and sciences which they can otherwise learn themselves. As it is presupposed that men have reason, so also that they have among them the common helps and crutches of reason.
III. Consider also that the Eternal Wisdom, Word, and Son of God, our Redeemer, is the fountain and giver of all knowledge : nature to be restored, and grace to restore it, are in his hands. He is that true light that lighteneth every one that cometh into the world.
The light of nature and arts, and sciences are from his Spirit and teaching, as well as the Gospel. Whether Clemens Alexandrinus, and some other ancients were in the right or not, when they taught that philosophy is one way by which men come to salvation, it is certain that they are in the right, that say it is now the gift of Christ : And that as the light which goeth before sunrising (yea, which in the night is reflected from the moon,) is from the sun, as well as its more glorious beams; so the knowledge of Socrates, Plato, Zeno, Cicero, Antonine, Epictetus, Seneca, Plutarch, were from the wisdom and word of God, the Redeemer of the world, even by a lower gift of his Spirit, as well as the Gospel and higher illumination : and shall Christ be thought void of what he giveth so many in the world ?
IV. Lastly, let it be considered above all, that the grand difference between the teaching of