« PreviousContinue »
1 Cor. i. 19, no Disparagement to sound Learning.
BOOK III. unto all by that knowledge, whereby heretics hindering the
truth in many, might have furthered therewith themselves, but that obstinately following their own ambitious or otherwise corrupted affections, instead of framing their wills to maintain that which reason taught, they bent their wits to find how reason might seem to teach that which their wills were set to maintain. For which cause the Apostle saith of them justly, that they are for the most part aŭtokatárpitot, men condemned even in and of themselves 98. For though they be not all persuaded that it is truth which they withstand, yet that to be error which they uphold they might undoubtedly the sooner a great deal attain to know, but that their study is more to defend what once they have stood in, than to find out sincerely and simply what truth they ought to persist in for ever.
[9.] Fourthly, There is in the world no kind of knowledge, whereby any part of truth is seen, but we justly account it precious; yea, that principal truth, in comparison whereof all other knowledge is vile, may receive from it some kind of light ; whether it be that Egyptian and Chaldean wisdom mathematical, wherewith Moses and Daniel were furnished 99; or that natural, moral, and civil wisdom, wherein Solomon excelled all men ?; or that rational and oratorial wisdom of the Grecians, which the Apostle St. Paul brought from Tarsus; or that Judaical, which he learned in Jerusalem sitting at the feet of Gamaliela: to detract from the dignity thereof were to injury 3 even God himself, who being that light which none can approach unto, hath sent out these lights whereof we are capable, even as so many sparkles resembling the bright fountain from which they rise.
But there are that bear the title of wise men and scribes and great disputers of the world, and are nothing in deed less than what in show they most appear. These being wholly addicted unto their own wills, use their wit, their learning, and all the wisdom they have, to maintain that which their 98 Tit. ïï. II.
great heed how they injury any 99 Acts vii. 22; Dan. i. 17.
man by word or deed, and whom 1 Kings iv. 29, 30.
they injury.' Danet's Comines. 2 Acts xxii. 3.
“ lib. iii.” Nares's Glossary; [“ To injury, v. for to injure.' “I am strangely injuried by the «• Those that are in authority, and “ Archbishop." Hugh Broughton
princes themselves, ought to take in Strype's Whitg. ii. 367.]
God's Word not exclusive of Reason.
obstinate hearts are delighted with, esteeming in the frantic BOOK 111. error of their minds the greatest madness in the world to be wisdom, and the highest wisdom foolishness. Such were both Jews and Grecians, which professed the one sort legal, and the other secular skill, neither enduring to be taught the mystery of Christ: unto the glory of whose most blessed name, whoso study to use both their reason and all other gifts, as well which nature as which grace hath endued them with, let them never doubt but that the same God who is to destroy and confound utterly that wisdom falsely so named in others, doth make reckoning of them as of true Scribes, Scribes by wisdom instructed to the kingdom of heaven", not Scribes against that kingdom hardened in a vain opinion of wisdom; which in the end being proved folly, must needs perish, true understanding, knowledge, judgment and reason continuing for
[10.] Fifthly, Unto the word of God, being in respect of that end for which God ordained it perfect, exact, and absolute in itself, we do not add reason as a supplement of any defect therein, but as a necessary instrument, without which we could not reap by the Scripture's perfection that fruit and benefit which it yieldeth. “ The word of God is a twoedged “ sword 5,” but in the hands of reasonable men; and reason as the weapon that slew Goliath, if they be as David was that use it. Touching the Apostles, He which gave them from above such power for miraculous confirmation of that which they taught, endued them also with wisdom from above to teach that which they so did confirm. Our Saviour made choice of twelve simple and unlearned men, that the greater their lack of natural wisdom was, the more admirable that might appear which God supernaturally endued them with from heaven. Such therefore as knew the poor and silly estate wherein they had lived, could not but wonder to hear the wisdom of their speech, and be so much the more attentive unto their teaching. They studied for no tongue, they spake with all; of themselves they were rude, and knew not so much as how to premeditate ; the Spirit gave them speech and eloquent utterance.
But because with St. Paul it was otherwise than with the
4 Matt. xiii. 52.
5 Heb. iv. 12.
Ch. viii. 10.
372 Case of St. Paul : his Disavowal of human Wisdom BOOK 111. rest, inasmuch as he never conversed with Christ
earth as they did; and his education had been scholastical altogether, which theirs was not; hereby occasion was taken by certain malignants, secretly to undermine his great authority in the Church of Christ, as though the gospel had been taught him by others than by Christ himself, and as if the cause of the Gentiles' conversion and belief through his means had been the learning and skill which he had by being conversant in their books; which thing made them so willing to hear him, and him so able to persuade them; whereas the rest of the Apostles prevailed, because God was with them, and by miracle from heaven confirmed his word in their mouths. They were mighty in deeds : as for him, being absent, his writings had some force ; in presence, his power not like unto theirs. In sum, concerning his preaching, their very byword was, dóyos èfovdevnuévos, addle speech, empty talk 6 : his writings full of great words, but in the power of miraculous operations his presence not like the rest of the Apostles.
Hereupon it riseth that St. Paul was so often driven to make his apologies. Hereupon it riseth that whatsoever time he had spent in the study of human learning, he maketh earnest protestation to them of Corinth, that the gospel which he had preached amongst them did not by other means prevail with them, than with others the same gospel taught by the rest of the Apostles of Christ. My preaching,” saith he, “ hath not been in the persuasive speeches of human wisdom, “ but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power : that your “ faith may not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of “ God 7.” What is it which the Apostle doth here deny! Is it denied that his speech amongst them had been persuasive ? No: for of him the sacred history plainly testifieth, that for the space of a year and a half he spake in their synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Grecians, How then is the speech of men made persuasive ? Surely there can be but two ways to bring this to pass, the one human, the other divine. Either St. Paul did only by art and natural industry cause his own speech to be credited ; or else God by miracle did authorize it, and so bring credit thereunto, as to the speech of the rest of the Apostles. Of which two, the
2 Cor. x. 10. i Cor. ii. 4, 5. 8 Acts xviii. 4. II.
no Prejudice to the ordinary Use of it.
Ch. viii, 10.
former he utterly denieth. For why? if the preaching of the BOOK III. rest had been effectual by miracle, his only by force of his own learning ; so great inequality between him and the other Apostles in this thing had been enough to subvert their faith. For might they not with reason have thought, that if he were sent of God as well as they, God would not have furnished them and not him with the power of the Holy Ghost? Might not a great part of them being simple haply have feared, lest their assent had been cunningly gotten unto his doctrine, rather through the weakness of their own wits than the certainty of that truth which he had taught them? How unequal had it been that all believers through the preaching of other Apostles should have their faith strongly built upon the evidence of God's own miraculous approbation, and they whom he had converted should have their persuasion built only upon his skill and wisdom who persuaded them?
As therefore calling from men may authorize us to teach, although it could not authorize him to teach as other Apostles did : so although the wisdom of man had not been sufficient to enable him such a teacher as the rest of the Apostles were, unless God's miracles had strengthened both the one and the other's doctrine; yet unto our ability both of teaching and learning the truth of Christ, as we are but mere Christian men, it is not a little which the wisdom of
add 9. [Chr. Letter, p. 43;
“ In all
Forget not Picus Mirandula's your bookes, although we finde * judgment of the schoolemen;" “ manie good things, manie trueths (Opp. i. 79. “ Ut a nostris, ad “and fine points bravely handled, " quos postremo philosophia perve“ yet in all your discourse, for the “ nit, nunc exordiar; est in Joanne “ most parte, Aristotle the patriarch “ Scoto vegetum quiddam atque “ of philosophers (with divers other “ discussum, in Thoma solidum et “ humanewriters) and the ingenuous æquabile, in Ægidio tersum et ex“ schoolemen, almost in all points actum, in Francisco acre et acu“ have some finger: reason is highlie tum, in Alberto priscum, amplum, “ sett up against Holie Scripture, “et grande, in Henrico, ut mihi “ and reading against preaching.' “ visum est, semper sublime et Hooker, MS. note. • If Aristotle venerandum.")"
“Beza's judgment “ and the schoolmen be such peril- “ of Aristotle." (For his opinion " ous creatures, you must needes of the use of logic, see Epist. 67.) “ think yourself an happie man, “ As also Calvin's judgment of phi“ whome God hath so fairely blest “losophie. Epist. go, ad Buce“ from too much knowledg in them. rum,” (p. 110. “ Et philosophia
“ Remember heer S. Jerome's “ præclarum est Dei donum ; et qui “ Epistle in his own defense.” (To “omnibus sæculis extiterunt docti Magnus, t. II. 326.
“viri,eos Deus ipse excitavit, ut adveprecedent, scriptural and ecclesias- “ ri notitiam mundo prælucerent.") tical, for his use of profane learning.) Again, Chr. Letter, ibid. “ Shalí
374 Reason requisite for Grace to work upon:
(11.] Sixthly, Yea, whatsoever our hearts be to God Ch. vij.", and to his truth, believe we or be we as yet faithless, for our
conversion or confirmation the force of natural reason is great. The force whereof unto those effects is nothing without grace. What then? To our purpose it is sufficient, that
whosoever doth serve, honour, and obey God, whosoever I
believeth in Him, that man would no more do this than innocents and infants do, but for the light of natural reason that shineth in him, and maketh him apt to apprehend those things of God, which being by grace discovered, are effectual to persuade reasonable minds and none other, that honour, obedience, and credit, belong of right unto God. No man cometh unto God to offer him sacrifice, to pour out supplications and prayers before him, or to do him any service, which doth not first believe him both to be, and to be a rewarder of them who in such sort seek unto him 10. Let men be taught this either by revelation from heaven, or by instruction upon earth; by labour, study, and meditation, or by the only secret inspiration of the Holy Ghost ; whatsoever the mean be they know it by, if the knowledge thereof were possible without discourse of natural reason, why should none be found capable thereof but only men; nor men till such time as they come unto ripe and full ability to work by reasonable understanding ? The whole drift of the Scripture of God, what is it but only to teach Theology? Theology, what is it but the science of things divine? What science can be attained unto without the help of natural discourse and reason?
Judge you of that which I speak 11,” saith the Apostle. In vain it were to speak any thing of God, but that by reason men are able somewhat to judge of that they hear, and by discourse to discern how consonant it is to truth.
[12.] Scripture indeed teacheth things above nature, things