Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

by evill. As therefore the state of man'
now is;, what wisdome can there be to
choose, what continence to forbeare
without the knowledge of evill? He that
can apprehend and confider vice with all
her baits and seeming pleasures, and yet
abstain, and yet distinguish, and yet pre-
fer that which is truly better, he is the
true warfaring Christian. I cannot praise
a fugitive and cloister'd vertue, unexer--
cis’d and unbreath'd, that never fallies
out and sees her adversary, but flinks
out of the race, where that immortall
garland is to be run for, not without:
duft and heat. Assuredly we bring not
innocence into the world, we bring im-
purity much rather : that which purifies
us is triall, and triall is by what is con-


trary. That vertue therefore which is but a youngling in the contemplation of evill, and knows not the utmost that vice promises to her followers, and ro jects it, is but a blank vertue, not a pure; her whitenesse is but an excrementall whiteneffe ; Which was the reason why our sage and serious Poet Spencer, whoin I dare be known to think a better teacher then Scotus or Aquinas, describing true temperance under the person of Guion, brings him in with his palmer through the cave of Mammon, and the bowr of earthly bliffe that he might see and know, and yet abstain. Since therefore the knowledge and survay of vice is irr this world so necessary to the constituting of human vertue, and the scanning of error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with lesse danger scout into the regions of fin and falfity then by reading all manner of tractats, and hearing all manner of reafon? And this is the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read. But of the harm that may result hence three kinds are usually reckn'd. First, is fear'd the infection that may spread; but then all human learning and controversie in. religious points must remove out of the world, yea the Bible itself; for that ofttimes relates blasphemy not nicely, it describes the carnall sense of wicked men not unelegantly, it brings in holiest men passionately murmuring against providence through all the arguments



[ocr errors]

of Epicurus: in other great disputes it an[wers dubiously and darkly to the common reader: And ask a Talmudist what ails the modesty of his marginall Keri, that Moses and all the Prophets cannot : perswade him to pronounce the textuall Chetiy. For these causes we all know the Bible it selfe put by the Papist into the first rank of prohibited books. The ancientest Fathers must be next remov’d, as Clement of Alexandria, and that Eusebian book of Evangelick preparation, transmitting our ears through a hoard of heathenish obscenities to receive the Gofpel. Who finds not that Irenæus, Epiphanius, Jerom, and others, discover, more herefies then they will confute, and that oft for heresie which is the truer



opinion. Nor boots it to say for these,
and all the heathen Writers of greatest
infection, if it must be thought so, with
whom is bound up the life of human
learning, that they writ in an unknown
tongue, so long as we are sure those
languages are known as well to the worst
of men, who are both most abłe, and
nrost diligent to instill the poison they
fuck, first into the Courts of Princes,
acquainting them with the choisest de-
lights, and criticisms of fin.
haps did that Petronius whom Nero call'd
his Arbiter, the Mafter of his revels;
and that notorions ribald of Arezzo,
dreaded, and yet dear to the Italian
Courtiers. I name not him for pofte-
sities fake, whom Harry the 8. nam’d

As per

« PreviousContinue »