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Chapter VI.

How the wise and the dull are to be admonished.

(Admonition 7).  Differently to be admonished are the wise of this world and the dull.  For the wise are to be admonished that they leave off knowing what they know:  the dull also are to be admonished that they seek to know what they know not.  In the former this thing first, that they think themselves wise, is to be thrown down; in the latter whatsoever is already known of heavenly wisdom is to be built up; since, being in no wise proud, they have, as it were, prepared their hearts for supporting a building.  With those we should labour that they become more wisely foolish, leave foolish wisdom, and learn the wise foolishness of God:  to these we should preach that from what is accounted foolishness they should pass, as from a nearer neighbourhood, to true wisdom.  For to the former it is said, If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise (1 Cor. iii. 18):  but to the latter it is said, Not many wise men after the flesh (1 Cor. i. 26); and again, God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise (Ibid. 27).  The former are for the most part converted by arguments of reasoning; the latter sometimes better by examples.  Those it doubtless profits to lie vanquished in their own allegations; but for these it is sometimes enough to get knowledge of the praiseworthy deeds of others.  Whence also the excellent teacher, who was debtor to the wise and foolish (Rom. i. 14), when he was admonishing some of the Hebrews that were wise, but some also that were somewhat slow, speaking to them of the fulfilment of the Old Testament, overcame the wisdom of the former by argument, saying, That which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away (Heb. viii. 13).  But, when he perceived that some were to be drawn by examples only, he added in the same epistle, Saints had trial of mockings and scourgings, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword (Ibid. xi. 36, 37):  and again, Remember those who were set over you, who spoke to you the Word of God, whose faith follow, looking to the end of their conversation (Ibid. xiii. 7); that so victorious reason might subdue the one sort, but the gentle force of example persuade the other to mount to greater things.

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