Every man naturally desires knowledge (1); but what
good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a
humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud
intellectual who neglects his soul to study the
course of the stars.(2) He who knows himself well
becomes mean in his own eyes and is not happy when
praised by men.
If I knew all things in the world
and had not charity, what would it profit me before
God Who will judge me by my deeds?
Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it
there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals
like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet
there are many things the knowledge of which does
little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns
himself about other things than those which lead to
salvation is very unwise.
Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good
life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires
great trust in God.
The more you know and the better you understand,
the more severely will you be judged, unless your
life is also the more holy. Do not be proud,
therefore, because of your learning or skill. Rather,
fear because of the talent given you. If you think
you know many things and understand them well enough,
realize at the same time that there is much you do
not know. Hence, do not affect wisdom, but admit your
ignorance. Why prefer yourself to anyone else when
many are more learned, more cultured than you?
If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth
while, then love to be unknown and considered as
nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best
and most perfect counsel. To think of oneself as
nothing, and always to think well and highly of
others is the best and most perfect wisdom.
Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a
serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for
you do not know how long you can remain in good
estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that
none is more frail than yourself.