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There was a time when to philosophize and to play the sophist, were convertible terins; when the great amount of what passed with the world for science, was “science falsely so called," as Paul terms it. And there can be no doubt that many of the earliest corruptions which defaced the yet fresh beauty of Christianity, as she came to us from Heaven, sprung from the philosophy of those days; from the impious attempt to unite them, by bringing her down to it, instead of bringing it up to her. Hence the warnings and declarations which you find in such abundance from the Apostles. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world.” And again, “avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which some professing, have erred concerning the faith.” With the same view, after Paul has stated the fact, that “not many wise men after the flesh are called,” he declares concerning the Gospel, that it was not revealed in “ the wisdom of words,” or “ with enticing words of man's wisdom.” His language gives an admirable description of the philosophy that prevailed in his day. The master in dialectics, to whom all philosophers then bowed, was Aristotle. His dominion over the intellectual world was absolute and unquestioned, like that of his royal pupil, Alexander the Conqueror, over the nations subdued by his sword. But while the empire of the one crumbled into fragments at his death, the dominion of the other endured through hundreds and hundreds of years, and at no period of time had his scholastic sway been carried to a more extravagant extent among the learned, than during the early ages of Christianity. The great object of the Logicians was less to elicit truth than to perplex and confound their adversaries. There was no such thing as a healthful spirit of inquiry. The dogmas of a master it was treasonable in any of his pupils to question; and they were required to contend for thein, not as lovers of truth, but as champions of their sect. The great objects of research were too generally those remote and vain abstractions which are of no avail for
the benefit of man, and, even when settled, serve only to multiply points of hostility between rival schools. Their wisdom was the wisdom of
words " not of things; much of it was “vain deceit," not the illumination of the mind with the
realities of truth.
This being the state of learning in the days of the apostles, especially in those parts of the world where the Gospel was first planted ; there can be no doubt that it generated a spirit of pride and self-sufficiency, a love of hypothesis and speculation, a contempt for whatever was plain and practical, at war with the spirit and truth of Christi. anity; and every reader of ecclesiastical history must know that the heresies which afflicted the Church in the early centuries sprung, as already observed, from this “philosophy and vain deceit," against which the apostle so earnestly warned the churches.
But learning is not now what it was then; and had it remained unchanged in form and spirit, we could not have shown you the bright constellation of naines which we formerly recited, of men who have been leaders in science, and at the same time humble and meek disciples of the Saviour. As will be obvious from a brief comparison of its past with its present condition and character, learning has passed through a revolution in modern times, as complete and decisive as ever took place in the civil relations of empires or nations. It has seen the overthrow, on the one hand, of a philosophy which blindly bowed to the authority of a master, and spent its strength in speculative theories, esteening its discoveries valuable, in proportion as they were abstract and remote from the comprehension of the mass of mankind; and the introduction, on the other hand, of science, which looks to the realities of life, which makes facts, ascertained by observation or experiment, the data from which it reasons, and then shows how its conclusions are to be improved for the practical benefit of man. The contrast between the two systems has been so graphically exhibited by one of the most powerful writers of our day, that I cannot do better than quote it at some length. In his review of Bacon and the Inductive Philosophy he says, “ The philosophy of the ancients was a philosophy of words; ours is a philosophy of works. They taught that man was made for philosophy; we hold that phi. losophy was made for man. Their faith in science, being without works, was dead ; our faith, by
works, is made perfect. They prized a discovery according as it was mystic and ethereal, and confined to the knowledge of a chosen few; we hold a discovery valuable according as we find it not only sound in theory, but plain and intelligible to all. They divided their doctrines into esoteric and exot. eric; the one to be kept to themselves, the other to be given to the people. Their constant effort was to extend the limits of the one, and contract the limits of the other; crowding men farther and farther from the temple of truth. We surround knowledge with no such boundaries or barriers. We view it as we view the light; the farther its rays are spread, the more bright and healthful the light itself becomes. They disdained to be useful; their schools regarded utility as degrading; some of them even as immoral. To be useful to the greatest possible extent, and to the greatest number, we esteem the highest and best end of all learning. Their very
fables indicate the same spirit, the same aversion to have knowledge applied to its practical ends. Prometheus was known as the inventor of several most useful arts. As it in requital, they represent him as chained to a rock. We