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it must be coupled with this, Oportet edoctum judicare; * for dis: ciples do owe unto masters only a temporary belief and a suspension of their own judgment till they be fully instructed, and not an absolute resignation or perpetual captivity. And therefore, to conclude this point, I will say no more, but so let great authors have their due, as time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, further and further to discover truth. Thus have I gone over these three diseases of learning ; be. sides the which there are some other rather peccant humours than formed diseases, which nevertheless are not so secret and intrinsic but that they fall under a popular observation and traducement, and therefore are not to be passed over. j The first of these is the extreme affecting of two extremities, – the one antiquity, the other novelty; wherein it seemeth the children of Time do take after the nature and malice of the father. For, as he devoureth his children, so one of them seeketh to devour and suppress the other: while antiquity envieth there should be new additions, and novelty cannot be content to add, but it must deface. Surely the advice of the prophet is the true direction in this matter, State super vias antiquas, et videte quaenam sit via recta et bona et ambulate in ea.” Antiquity deserveth that reverence, that men should make a stand there. upon and discover what is the best way; but, when the discovery is well taken, then to make progression. And, to speak truly, Antiquitas sooculi juventus mundi.” These times are the ancient times, when the world is ancient, and not those which we account ancient ordine retrogrado, by a computation back, ward from ourselves. - Another error, that hath also some affinity with the former, is a conceit that of former opinions or sects after variety and exi amination the best hath still prevailed and suppressed the rest; so as, if a man should begin the labour of a new search, he were but like to light upon somewhat formerly rejected, and by rejection brought into oblivion: as if the multitude, or the wisest for the multitude's sake, were not ready to give passage rather to that which is popular and superficial than to that which is substantial and profound ; for the truth is, that time seemeth to be of the nature of a river or stream, which carrieth down to us that which is light and blown up, and sinketh and drowneth that which is weighty and solid. - Another error hath proceeded from too great a reverence, and
6 “The learner ought to believe,” and, “the learned ought to judge.”
7 “Take your stand upon the ancient ways, and search which is the right and good way, and walk therein.”
8 “The antiquity of time is the youth of the world.”
a kind of adoration of the mind and understanding of man ; by means whereof, men have withdrawn themselves too much from the contemplation of Nature, and the observations of experience, and have tumbled up and down in their own reason and conceits. Upon these intellectualists, which are notwithstanding commonly taken for the most sublime and divine philosophers, Heraclitus gave a just censure, saying, “Men sought truth in their own little worlds, and not in the great and common world” ; for they disdain to spell, and so by degrees to read in the volume of God’s works: and, contrariwise, by continual meditation and agitation of wit do urge and as it were invocate their own spirits to divine and give oracles unto them, whereby they are deservedly deluded. - - - . Another erroris an impatience of doubt, and haste to assertion without due and mature suspension of judgment. For the two ways of contemplation are not unlike the two ways of action commonly spoken of by the ancients: the one plain and ‘smooth in the beginning, and in the end impassable; the other rough and troublesome in the entrance, but after a while fair and even: so it is in contemplation; if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts ; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties. Another error is in the manner of the tradition and delivery of knowledge, which is for the most part magistral and peremptory, and not ingenuous and faithful; in a sort as may be soonest believed, and not easiliest examined. It is true that in compendious treatises for practice that form is not to be disallowed; but in the true handling of knowledge, men ought not to fall either on the one side into the vein of Welleius the Epicurean, INil tam metuens, quam me dubitare aliqua de re videretur; * nor on the other side into Socrates' ironical doubting of all things; but to propound things sincerely with more or less asseveration, as they stand in a man's own judgment proved more or less. Other errors there are in the scope that men propound to themselves, whereunto they bend their endeavours: for, whereas the more constant and devote kind of professors of any science ought to propound to themselves to make some additions to their science, they convert their labours to aspire to certain second prizes; as, to be a profound interpreter or commenter, to be a sharp champion or defender, to be a methodical compounder or abridger; and so the patrimony of knowledge cometh to be sometimes improved, but seldom augmented. But the greatest error of all the rest is the mistaking or missplacing of the last or farthest end of knowledge. For men have
9 “His greatest fear was, lest he should scem to doubt of anything.”
entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite ; sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight ; sometimes for ornament and reputation ; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction; and most times for lucre and profession ; and seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason, to the benefit and use of men: as if there were sought in knowledge a couch whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit; or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect; or a tower of State, for a proud mind to raise itself upon ; or a fort or commanding ground, for strife and contention ; or a shop, for profit or sale ; and not a rich storehouse for the glory of the Creator and the relief of man's estate. But this is that which will indeed dignify and exalt knowledge, if contemplation and action may be more nearly and straitly conjoined and united together than they have been ; a conjunction like unto that of the two highest planets, Saturn, the planet of rest and contemplation, and Jupiter, the planet of civil society and action. Howbeit, I do not mean, when I speak of use and action, that end before-mentioned of the applying of knowledge to lucre and profession; for I am not ignorant how much that diverteth and interrupteth the prosecution and advancement of knowledge, like unto the golden ball thrown before Atalanta, which while she goeth aside and stoopeth to take up, the race is hindered; Declinat cursus, aurumque volubile tollit." Neither is my meaning, as was spoken of Socrates, to call philosophy down from Heaven to converse upon the Earth ; that is, to leave natural philosophy aside, and to apply knowledge only to manners and policy. But, as both Heaven and Earth do conspire and contribute to the use and benefit of man ; so the end ought to be, from both philosophies to separate and reject vain speculations, and whatsoever is empty and void, and to preserve and augment whatsoever is solid and fruitful: that knowledge may not be as a courtesan, for pleasure and vanity only, or as a bond-woman, to acquire and gain to her master's use ; but as a spouse, for generation, fruit, and comfort.
I)IGNITY AND WALUE OF KNOWLEDGE.
FIRST let us seek the dignity of knowledge in the archetype or first platform, which is in the attributes and acts of God, as far as they are revealed to man and may be observed with sobriety;
1 “She turns aside from her course, and picks up the rolling gold.”
wherein we may not seek it by the name of learning ; for all learning is knowledge acquired, and all knowledge in God is original: and therefore we must look for it by another name, that of wisdom or sapience, as the Scriptures call it. It is so, then, that in the work of the creation we see a double emanation of virtue from God; the one referring more properly to power, the other to wisdom ; the one expressed in making the subsistence of the matter, and the other in disposing the beauty of the form. This being supposed, it is to be observed that for anything which appeareth in the history of the creation, the confused mass and matter of heaven and earth was made in a moment; and the order and disposition of that chaos or mass was the work of six days; such a note of difference it pleased God to put upon the works of power and the works of wisdom; where with concurreth, that in the former it is not set down that God said, “Let there be heaven and earth,” as it is set down of the works following ; but actually, that God made heaven and earth; the one carrying the style of a manufacture, and the other of a law, decree, or counsel. After the creation was finished, it is set down unto us that man was placed in the garden to work therein ; which work, so appointed to him, could be.no other than work of contemplation ; that is, when the end of work is but for exercise and experiment, not for necessity; for, there being then no reluctation of the creature, nor sweat of the brow, man’s employment must of consequence have been matter of delight in the experiment, and not matter of labour for the use. Again, the first acts which man performed in Paradise consisted of the two summary parts of knowledge; the view of creatures, and the imposition of names. As for the knowledge which induced the fall, it was not the natural knowledge of creatures, but the moral knowledge of good and evil ; wherein the supposition was, that God's commandments or prohibitions were not the originals of good and evil, but that they had other beginnings, which man aspired to know ; to the end to make a total defection from God and to depend wholly upon himself. To descend to Moses the lawgiver, and God’s first pen : he is adorned by the Scriptures with this addition and commendation, “That he was seen in all the learning of the Egyptians”; which nation we know was one of the most ancient schools of the world: for so Plato brings in the Egyptian priest saying unto Solon, “You Grecians are ever children ; you have no knowledge of antiquity, nor antiquity of knowledge.” Take a view of the ceremonial law of Moses: you shall find, besides the prefiguration of Christ, the badge or difference of the people of God, the exercise and in pression of obedience, and other divine uses and fruits thereof, that some of the most learned Rabbins havé travailed profitably and profoundly to observe, some of them a natural, some of them a moral sense, or reduction of many of the ceremonies and ordinances. As in the law of the leprosy, where it is said, “If the whiteness have overspread the flesh, the patient may pass abroad for clean ; but if there be any whole flesh remaining, he is to be shut up for unclean "; one of them noteth a principle of Nature, that putrefaction is more contagious before maturity than after : and another noteth a position of moral philosophy, that men abandoned to vice do not so much corrupt manners, as those that are half good and half evil. So in this and very many other places in that law, there is to be found, besides the theological sense, much aspersion of philosophy. . . . - > - - - - * So likewise in the person of Solomon the King, we see the gift or endowment of wisdom and learning, both in Solomon’s petition and in God’s assent thereunto, preferred before all other terrene and temporal felicity. By virtue of which grant or donative of God, Solomon became enabled not only to write those excellent parables or aphorisms concerning divine and moral philosophy; but also to compile a natural history of all verdure, from the cedar upon the mountain to the moss upon the wall, (which is but a rudiment between putrefaction and an herb,) and also of all things that breathe or move. Nay, the same Solomon the King, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown, and the like; yet he maketh no claim to any of those glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, “The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out”; as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide His works, to the end to have them found out ; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellows in that game; considering the great commandment of wits and means, whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them. . - -Neither did the dispensation of God vary in the times after our Saviour came into the world; for our Saviour himself did first show His power to subdue ignorance, by His conference with the priests and doctors of the law, before He showed His power to subdue Nature by His miracles. And the coming Öf the Holy Spirit was chiefly figured and expressed in the similitude and gift of tongues, which are but vehicula scientiae. So in the election of those instruments which it pleased God to use for the plantation of the faith, notwithstanding that at the first He did employ persons altogether unlearned, otherwise