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Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi
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CHAPTER XIII


OF KNOWLEDGE USEFUL AND USELESS


The man who would know much, must labour much and humble himself much, abasing himself and bowing his head until his mouth be in the dust; and then will the Lord bestow on him great wisdom and knowledge. The highest wisdom is to do always that which is good, acting virtuously, and guarding carefully against every sin and every occasion of sin, and ever keeping in mind the judgments of God. Brother Giles said once to a man who desired to go to a school to learn secular knowledge: “My brother, wherefore wouldst thou go to this school? I would have thee to learn that the sum of all knowledge is to fear and to love, and these two things are sufficient for thee; for so much knowledge as he can use, and no more, is sufficient for a man. Busy not thyself in learning those things which may be useful to others, but study always and seek to use those which are profitable to thyself. For we often greatly desire knowledge by which we may aid others, and think little of that by which we may profit ourselves; and I say to thee, that the word of God dwelleth not with the speaker, nor with the hearer, but with the faithful doer thereof. Some men who cannot swim cast themselves in the water to save others from drowning, and so all of them are lost together. If thou dost not work out thine own salvation, how shalt thou work out that of thy neighbour? And if thou doest not thine own work well how shalt thou do the work of another man? for it is not credible that thou shouldest love the soul of another better than thine own.

“The preachers of God’s word ought to be standard-bearers, lights and mirrors to the people. Blessed is the man who so guideth others in the way of salvation, that he ceaseth not to walk therein himself. Blessed is the man who so teacheth others to run therein, that he ceaseth not to run himself. More blessed is he who so helps others to become rich that he fails not also to enrich himself. I believe that a good preacher admonishes and preaches to himself far more than to other men. It seems to me that he who would convert and draw the soul of sinners into the way of God, ought to stand in continual fear lest he should be perverted by them, and drawn by the way of sin and the devil’s road to hell.”


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