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that the Christians did convert the very idol temples themselves into churches, wherein to worship Christ. For if an idol, "being nothing," did not so defile meat, but that as a good creature (though not in idol-communion) it might be eaten; if the conscience of no man were thereby offended, as the apostle teacheth; (1 Cor. viii. 4-7, and x. 25, 28) certainly neither doth it leave any such abiding pollution to any place, but that therein God may be worshipped. (2 Tim. ii. 8)
First, All good learning and wisdom is, per se,' and in its own nature, desirable, as an ornament and perfection to the mind, as a part of that truth whereof God is the author. There is a knowledge of God natural in and by his works: and a knowledge supernatural by revelation out of the word: and though this be the principal, yet the other is not to be undervalued for "the works of God are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein." (Psal. cxi. 2) Now all secular learning is the knowledge of God's works,ternæ veritatis particula,' a small emanation from eternal verity. Philosophical and mathematical learning, the knowledge of his works of creation. Historical and political learning, the knowledge of his works of providence. Moral and economical and civil learning, the knowledge of those remainders of his image and law, which are left in the minds of men, for their direction and conviction. Grammatical, rhetorical and logical learning, the knowledge of the use of that reason which God giveth us for imparting our minds, and evidencing our conceptions unto one another. So then all true learning, being a knowledge of the works of God, and of that truth which he, who is the supreme verity, hath implanted in them, must needs be such as the works of God themselves are, honourable and excellent, and so 'per se' desirable.
Secondly, All true learning is desirable, for the uses whereunto it may be applied. We will consider these uses.
1. In regard of evil men, many of whom are great scholars, and eminent for various learning.
First, It serves to beautify even them, and render them, as learned men, great ornaments to their generation; as many harmful herbs do bear beautiful flowers, and are, upon that account, special ornaments to the gardens where they grow.
Goodly statues of gold or silver, though dead, though hollow, and without heart or vital parts, are yet of great value and special honour to the places where erected. Such are even profane learned men, in regard of their learning.
Secondly, It is useful unto them to convince them of God's glory and greatness, of his sovereignty and will: and so if it be not 'præexercitamentum,' as Clemens Alexandrinus calleth it, unto the more comfortable knowledge of him out of his word, namely, to kindle in them a desire to know more of so great a God from thence; it will render them without excuse, for abusing the knowledge which they have. (Rom. i. 19, 20)
Thirdly, It is by accident useful another way, viz. by honest and assiduous labours in the pursuit of learning, to keep them from the temptations of divers lusts, which, by a loose and idle life, would be more ready to assault them. If David had been at his study, when he was on his housetop, he had not been tempted unto adultery.
Fourthly, It makes them, thus adorned, serviceable to human society. Singular use have all ages had of the learned labours of profane historians, philosophers, poets, orators, mathematicians, physicians, artists in divers kinds. And it is a comfort to any man to live to some good purpose, and to be serviceable to his own and future generations. Fifthly, They are hereby useful to the church of God; that God who can make use of the sins of men to do his people good by them, (as of Joseph's brethren, to make way, by selling him, unto the safety of Israel and his family ;) can make use of the gifts and talents he bestows on wicked men, for the service of good men. The hands of those that did themselves perish in the flood, were employed in building the ark for Noah and his family. It is true, very often wicked men do use their learning against God, as they do all' other his good blessings. Learned wickedness is' armata nequitia". Such learning degenerates into pride, arrogance, scorn, atheism, heresy, contempt of godliness, (as philosophers are called by the fathers, 'Hæreticoruni Patriarchæ ;') but all this is accidental, and the fruit of lust. Yet as a malignant planet, when in conjunction with a good one, may
* 'Adıgía éxovoa öπλa. Arist. Rhet.-Tertul, cont. Hermog. 18. Apol. c. 47.
have a benign influence; so it doth often fall out, that they who are, by sin, enemies,―may, by learning, be useful to the church. The Jews are bitter enemies to Christ; yet God hath, by their care, preserved the Old Scriptures from danger of corruption. '
2. In regard of holy men.
First, Though learning be much inferior to holiness; (There are learned devils; there cannot be holy devils; for holiness is the character of celestial, not of infernal angels, Deut. xxxiii. 2) yet, in holy men, learning is a rare ornament and accession, as the golden ring to the gem which is in it. Like the marriage of a holy David, to a beautiful Abigail.
Secondly, It enableth them to do the more service unto the church of God and the truths of religion. Every good
gift sanctified is in such a way useful to the church, as the proper nature and excellency of the gift doth admit. Sanctified wit beautifies religion; sanctified reason defends it; sanctified power protects it; sanctified elocution persuades others to love it. As different gifts of the people did, with a different value, serve the tabernacle,-the stones of the Ephod, more precious than the badgers' skins; so though every good man is ready to offer willingly to the service of the church, yet great difference between the learning of a Paul, or the eloquence of an Apollos, or the power of a Constantine, or the acuteness of an Austin, or the courage of an Athanasius, and the ordinary qualifications of inferior good
Thirdly, It enableth them to procure more favour, and to bring more reputation unto religion, by the greatness of parts wherein they may be otherwise serviceable unto them, with whom it concerneth religion to have the honour thereof preserved. God is pleased, in his holy providence, to make other interests sometimes a preservative unto religion, where itself is not immediately, and 'per se,' regarded. Ahasuerus was amorous and uxorious; and that induced him to favour the Jews, whose worship he cared not for. Thus it is useful in regard of holy men.
3. In regard of the church, and truth of religion. It is
Vid. Aug. de Civ. Dei, 1. 18. c. 46. et in Psalm 58.
useful as a handmaid, in a way of attendance thereupon, and subserviency thereunto, several ways.
First, Hereby the ancient fathers of the church," were furnished to confute the pagan and idolatrous worship of the heathens, out of their own writers; as Paul did the idolatry of Athens, by the inscription of their own altar: (Acts xvii. 23) as David killed Goliath with his own sword; as a tree is cut down by an axe, the helve whereof was made out of a bough of the same tree. This course Origen, Clemens Alexandrinus, Justin, Eusebius, Tertullian, * Minucius Felix, and many others of the ancients, have taken. As likewise to show that many doctrines of the scripture have been owned even by profane writers; one God, by Plato; one first cause, by Aristotle; Divine Providence, by Cicero; the last conflagration, by the Stoicks, &c.
when out of
Secondly, Hereby we shame Christians, profane writers, we let them understand of the continency, justice, temperance, meekness, clemency, and other amiable moral virtues of heathen men,-which they, having abundantly more means, come so exceeding short of; and that Fabricius, Aristides, Antoninus, Epictetus, and many other virtuous heathens, shall rise up in judgement against them.
Thirdly, Scriptures have much of poetry, philosophy, mathematics, laws, antiquities, and customs of other countries in them; in the understanding of which, by secular learning, we may be much assisted. Physics in Genesis, ethics in Proverbs, logic in the disputations of the prophets, of Christ and his apostles, allusions to the nature of beasts, sheep, goats, wolves, lions, doves, &c. Many allusions in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, to the customs of the Persians; many passages in the prophets illustrable out of the histories of the times and places to which they refer; many expressions in the New Testament, best explicable out of the Roman laws and antiquities. Many passages exquisitely paralleled in human authors, and receiving much light from them, as that learned and good man, Mr. Gataker, hath observed."
Legimus non ut teneamus, sed ut repudiemus. Ambros. procm. in Luc. * Tertul. de testim. Animæ, cap. 1. y 1 Cor. xi. 14. ■ Vid. Alting, probl. 2.
■ Cinn. lib. 2. cap. 13.
Fourthly, The histories of the scriptures, and the miracles of Moses, of Christ and his Apostles, may even out of heathen writers be confirmed; and a testimony from adversaries is of great validity: this hath been largely and learnedly proved by Mornay and Grotius, in their books de Veritate Christianæ Religionis.'
Fifthly, The knowledge of times by the Olympiads, the Fasti Consulares, and other standing ways of computation, are exceeding necessary to the exact distinguishing and digesting of sacred chronology, and of the occurrences of scripture to their proper times; as Austin hath noted. d
Sixthly, Many ecclesiastical writers, who either wrote against the Gentiles, or apologetical discourses for Christian religion, cannot be clearly understood without the reading of secular authors; those kind of writings, as Origen against Celsus, Tertullian's Apology, Theodoret de curandis Græcorum Affectibus,' Cyprian de Idolorum vanitate,' Austin 'de Civitate Dei,' Minucius Felix's Octavius,' and other the like, being brimful of such kind of learning and allusions thereunto.
Το say nothing of the necessity of grammar and tongues, to understand the words of scripture; of logic, to understand the contexture, method, argumentation, and analysis of scripture; of rhetoric, to understand the elegancies of scripture.
When I consider all these things, I cannot but believe, that the more learned men are, (having gracious hearts, as well as learned heads) the more sensible they are of their insufficiency, for so tremendous an employment as the sound, solid, and judicious preaching of the word of God; and are more dismayed at the sense of their own wants for so weighty and arduous a service, that they do wonder at the boldness of illiterate men,-who therefore venture with more confidence upon it, because they know not that variety of learning, as well as of spiritual wisdom and grace, which is requisite unto such an able discharge of it, as whereby a man may appear to be "aworkman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Mornay, cap. 26. Grof. lib. 1. cct. 16. et lib. 2. • 1 Thess. v. 21.
b Hier. in Dan. J. sect. 5.
d De doct. Christ. 1. 2. c. 28.