Saturday, February 21, 2009


Our Very Search of Knowledge Is Delightsome

Excerpt from Joseph Hall, Decade IV, Epistle III (to Matthew Millward):
[T]o a man so furnished with all sorts of knowledge, that according to his dispositions he can change his studies, I should wonder that ever the sun should seem to pace slowly. How many busy tongues chase away good hours in pleasant chat, and complain of the haste of night! what ingenuous mind can be sooner weary of talking with learned authors, the most harmless and sweetest of companions? what an heaven lives a scholar in, that at once, in one close room, can daily converse with all the glorious martyrs and fathers! that can single out at pleasure, either sententious Tertullian, or grave Cyprian, or resolute Jerome, or flowing Chrysostom, or divine Ambrose, or devout Bernard, or, who alone is all these, heavenly Augustin; and talk with them, and hear their wise and holy counsels, verdicts, resolutions; yea, to rise higher, with courtly Isaiah, with learned Paul, with all their fellow prophets, apostles; yet more, like another Moses, with God himself, in them both! Let the world contemn us: while we have these delights we cannot envy them; we cannot wish ourselves other than we are.

Besides, the way to all other contentments is troublesome; the only recompense is in the end. To delve in the mines, to scorch in the fire, for the getting, for the fining of gold, is a slavish toil; the comfort is in the wedge; to the owner, not the labourers: where our very search of knowledge is delightsome. Study itself is our life, from which we would not be barred for a world; how much sweeter then is the fruit of study, the conscience of knowledge! in comparison whereof, the soul that hath once tasted it easily contemns all human comforts.

Go now, ye worldlings, and insult over our paleness, our neediness, our neglect. Ye could not be so jocund if you were not ignorant; if you did not want knowledge, you could not overlook him that hath it. For me, I am so far from emulating you, that I profess, I would as lief be a brute beast as an ignorant rich man.

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