Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Ruskin on the Five Intellectual Professions
"Five great intellectual professions, relating to daily
necessities of life, have hitherto existed -- three exist
necessarily, in every civilised nation:
The Soldier's profession is to defend it.
The Pastor's to teach it.
The Physician's to keep it in health.
The Lawyer's to enforce justice in it.
The Merchant's to provide for it.
And the duty of all these men is, on due occasion, to die for it.
"On due occasion," namely: -
The Soldier, rather than leave his post in battle.
The Physician, rather than leave his post in plague.
The Pastor, rather than teach Falsehood.
The Lawyer, rather than countenance Injustice.
The Merchant-what is his "due occasion" of death?
For, truly, the man who does not know when to die, does not know how to live."
John Ruskin, Unto This Last, 1860.
A couple of thoughts - or glosses -in response:
a) No-one writes like this anymore - more's the pity!
b) How many lawyers today would die rather than countenance injustice? Certainly, we have seen Pakistani lawyers bravely risking their lives to protest against a dictatorship in recent years, but the very sight of lawyers taking to the barricades in support of liberty appeared fantastic to Western eyes.
c) How many pastors would die rather than teach falsehood? Certainly, Luther lived most of his adult life with a death sentence hanging over his head, and the Lutheran Church of Australia was founded by two pastors who did risk imprisonment, their livelihoods and their lives, rather than teach falsehood, but how many today value the true Gospel enough to risk their all for it? More than a few, we hope!