« PreviousContinue »
which ever retains its glowing verdure, unparched by the summer's heat, and unwithered by the winter's blast. Still more exquisite delight must she feel, who ventures upon the human face divine, who transmits to aftertimes the fire of the hero, the sparkling vivacity of the wit, and the majestic dignity of the philosopher. This pleasure is not momentary, like that arising from music, but it is solid, and permanent, and durable.
« Admirable : How this
grace Speaks his own standing! what a mental power “ This eye shoots forth ! how high imagination “ Moves in this lip! to the dumbness of the gesture « One might interpret."
It is my intention to devote a few essays to the consideration of those means which retard or augment the advancement of learn
ing, properly so called, or rather, perhaps, what is more generally understood by the word knowledge, considered in the most ex
as implying every thing which comes within the scale of human wisdom. Many religious men of all sects, and some entire sects, are willing to cripple and bondage the intellect, by the limitations which they put on learning, and improvement in knowledge. “It,” say they, “is one of those things which are to be accepted with great limitation and caution: the aspiring to overmuch knowledge was the original sin which induced the fall of man: knowledge hath in it somewhat of the serpent, and therefore, when it entereth into a man, it makes him swell, yea, puffeth him up with vanity. Solomon declares that there is no end of making books, and that much reading is a weariness of the flesh: that in spacious knowledge there is much sadness, and he that increaseth knowledge, increaseth anxiety.
St. Paul advises that we be not spoiled through vain philosophy. Experience demonstrates how learned men have been inclined to atheism,
and how the contemplation of second causes doth derogate from our dependence on God, who is the first cause. Lastly, the apostles were unlearned men, and why should we want to know more than they? if we be as good, it will be well for some of us.” These, and many more objections, are brought against learning, by people, who thereby demonstrate, that whatever may be the purity of their intentions, and the goodness of their heart, the weakness of their head, and the shallowness of their intellect, more than keeps pace with, and more than compensate them. These very pious creatures would do well to consider, or to learn, that it was not pure knowledge, not an inquiry into, and investigation of the laws of Nature, but the haughty knowledge of good and evil, with an intent in man to give law unto himself, and no longer to depend upon the will of God, which “ wronght our first parents disobedience, and brought death into this world, and all our woe, the loss of Eden.” Neither is it the nature of true knowledge to puff up and inflate a man. We know that Socrates, the wisest person of all
antiquity, was taught by the great range of his wisdom, to confess that he knew nothing; and Newton, the immortal Newton, was all humility, and modesty itself. “ Knowledge suffereth long, and is kind; knowledge envieth not; knowledge vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not be have itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” The more a man enlarges his intellect, the more readily and clearly does he perceive his own deficiencies, and humble himself in the presence of that Almighty Being, who is wisdom itself; conceit and vanity are the offspring of superficial acquirements, of tinsel ignorance ; whence the advice of the poet :
“ A little learning is a dangerous thing :
Our vain babblers and foolish talkers engender conceit; but the deeply read, and profoundly thinking men are too well convineed of the littleness, the nothingness of all human attainments in comparison with pure and unbounded intellectuality, and bow before the throne of sempiternal sapience. If by much reading being a weariness to the flesh, Solomon mean, that the pursuit of true knowledge is productive of vexation, I utterly deny the assertion to be true. It is very pretty for declaimers to put forth paradoxes, and amuse weak minds with glittering conceits. I remember, many years since, to have heard the late ingeni ous Dr. Balguy preach a sermon in the cathedral of Winchester, on these words, " In much wisdom there is much sorrow." He strove by much circumbendibus, and many a sophism, to prove his assertion, but in vain. I also well recollect, that one of the young Wykehamists produced the following complimentary distich on the occasion, and sent it to the Doctor ;