Proud of the lesser things

Here, MacDonald give’s an eloquent pronouncement against secular intellectuals.

Actually, this is worth quoting if only for it’s use of the word “sagacity”!

The wise and prudent, with all their energy of thought, could never see the things of the Father sufficiently to recognize them as true. Their sagacity labors in earthly things, and so fills their minds with their own questions and conclusions that they cannot see the eternal foundations God has laid in man, or the consequent necessities of their own nature. They are proud of finding out things, but the things they find out are all less than themselves. Because, however they have discovered them, they imagine such things the goal of the human intellect.

If they grant there may be things beyond those, they either count them beyond their reach, or declare themselves uninterested in the: for the wise and prudent they do not exist. They work only to gather by the senses, and deduce from what they have so gathered the prudential, the probable, the expedient, the protective. They never think of the essential, of what in itself must be. They are cautious, wary, discreet, judicious, circumspect, provident, temporizing.

They have no enthusiasm, and are shy of all forms of it – a clever, hard, thin people, who take THINGS for the universe, and love of facts for love of truth.

-George MacDonald, from Sermon: The Yoke of Jesus

A variation on this comes to mind. I think you’ll meet few intellectuals these days that take such a hard line against what falls outside our senses. Look at all the secular academics in America interested in Zen Buddhism! That is to humble oneself just enough to admit that man’s wit cannot wrap itself around the whole of the universe.