For the LORD gives wisdom: out of his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.
It is a serious evil if the best trained minds of the community are either hostile or indifferent to the claims of God. Students are placed in peculiar peril in respect of religion. There is a prevalent notion amongst half-educated people that the highest culture of the mind tends to the destruction of the religious spirit. There is now an antagonism between the school which prides itself upon its rationalism and the school which is equally entrenched in its strong faith. The habits of student life are not altogether helpful to the preservation of religious character. The studies, companions, work, and recreation, often operate injuriously upon the spiritual tone of men. Many, in the course of their study, have lost their faith.
I. RELIGION IN RELATION TO THE ENDS OF STUDY. There are specific subjects of study bearing direct relation to a man's life-work. But the real object of study is to discipline the powers and to strengthen the mind. Study which is intended to increase knowledge and to gather facts begins when student life ceases. The best student is the man who "is" most, not the man who has learned most. The highest ideal of study must be that which secures, or at least aims at securing, thoroughness of discipline and wholeness of view. Perfection, as the harmonious and free working of all parts and powers of the mind, must be the goal to which the student tends. To learn everything is not given to man, but to be his best self in everything which he can be, this is his privilege. It is here that the subject of religion comes to be considered by the student. The nature which he possesses is distinctly religious. If a man does not attend to that faculty whereby he regards God, he neglects that part of himself which is most important and influential. No man can afford to pass lightly by the claims upon him which are put forth by religion. The religious nature must be disciplined and cultured if we are to lay claim to wholeness of being. See the influence which religion has exerted upon our human life and history. Eliminate religion from the story of the world and what is left? Critics charge religion with being a hindrance to human progress. But this is the common logical fallacy of putting the universal in place of the particular. Certain forms of religious polity may have done so, but not religion. Religion has, more than aught else, aided man in his long and weary pilgrimage of progress. Religion cannot be easily set aside by those who are engaged in the cultivation of the mind. All men are dealing with religious topics. The most striking instance is to be found in the modern teachers of science. Scarcely a single man of science of any repute but deals with these all-absorbing points of human thought, and indeed cannot help himself. Religion is human.
II. RELIGION AS AN INFLUENCE OF DEEP AND FAR-REACHING POWER. The student cannot do his work as a common man. Intellectual cultivation is, as a rule, associated with moral refinement. The destruction of entire nature may be seen among students. This is generally preceded by neglect of the religious side of their nature — faith undermined either by the operations of intellectual doubt, or else still more seriously assailed by the numbing influences of sinful habits, but all proceeding in the first instance from the neglect of practical religion, the duties of prayer, and communion with the Unseen.
1. Religion renders the student reverent. Nothing is so unsuitable to the man who desires a cultivated mind as arrogance and self-esteem. All wisdom is humble. Reverence has been the mark of the profound and patient investigators of nature in all ages. Religion and its duties produce reverence.
2. Religion secures inward harmony of the powers. Man cannot gain intellectual vigour when his whole being is torn asunder by conflicting forces. Outward physical quietness is the necessary condition of study. Inward spiritual peace is as necessary, Religion will give this. Coming into proper relation to God, we find everything else in its place. To return to God is to return to the balance of our life. The religious life is only sustained by the knowledge of Him who is the express image of the Father, and the shining ray of the central light of God. Christ's religion is the religion of intelligence.
(Llewelyn D. Bevan, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.