Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v2

BAXTER'S DYING THOUGHTS. 75 to begin with things of greatest weight,,and to. refer most of my other studies thereto, and to spend my days under the motives of necessity and profit to myself, and those with whom I had to do. And I now think better of the course of Paul, that determined to knownothing but a crucified Christ, among the Corinthians ; that is, so to converse with them as to use, and glorying as if he knew nothing else ; and so of the rest of the apostles and primitive ages. And though I still love and honor, (and am not of Dr. Colet's mind, who, as Erasmus saith, most slighted Augustine,) yet I less censure even that Carthage council which forbade the reading of the heathens' books of learning and arts than formerly I have done. And I would have men savor most that learning in their health, which theywill, or should, savor most in sickness, and near to death. 3. And, alas ! how dear a vanity is this knowledge ! That which is but theoreticand notional, is but a tickling delectation of the fancy or mind, little differing from a pleasant dream. But how many hours, what gazing of the 'wearied eye, what stretching thoughts of the impatient brain, must it cost us, if we will attain to any excellency ! Well saith Solomon, "Much reading is a wea- riness tó the flesh, and he that increaseth knowledge, fficreaseth sorrow." How many hundred studious days and weeks, and how many hard and tearing thoughts, bath ply little, very little knowl- edge cost me ; and, much infirmity and painfulness to my flesh, increase of painful diseases, and loss of bodily ease and 'health ! How much pleasure to myself of other kinds, and how much acceptance with men, have I lost by it, which I'inight easily have had in a, more conversant and plausible way of life ! And when all is done, if I reach to know any more than others of my place and order, I must differ so much (usually) from them, and if I manifest not that difference, but keep all that . knowledge to myself, I sin against conscience and nature itself. The love of man and the love of truth oblige-me to be soberly communicative. Were I so indifferent to truth and knowledge, as easily to forbear their propagation, I must also be so indifferent to them, as not to think them worth so dear a priceas they have cost me, (though they are the free gifts of God.) As nature is universally inclined to the propagationof the kind by generation, so is the intellectual nature to the communicationofknowledge, which yet bath, its lust and inordinacy in proud,'ignorant, hasty teachers and 'disputers, as the generating faculty bath in fornicators and adulterers. But if I obey nature and conscience in communicating that knowledge which containeth my difference aforesaid, the dissenters too often take themselves disparaged by it, how peaceably soever I manage it : and as had men take the piety of the godly to be an