Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His:
And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
He revealeth the deep and secret things: He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.
I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter. (Daniel 2:20-23)
That there is an innate love of being wise, this we perceive from the love of knowing things hidden, a love familiar to every one, it being this love that forms our whole intellect; for, in the case of an infant and child, all the things that are impressed on its memory had previously been hidden from it; but when they are impressed, it is at once seized with the eager desire to find out what lies still further hidden in that which is known, to wit, its qualities and much else.
This love rushes us into the sciences whereby we are persuaded we shall arrive at a knowledge of things hidden.
The whole learned world rushes to physical experiments in order that from these we may acquire wisdom, that is, may penetrate into the secrets of nature. The ancient philosophers were wholly carried off by this love; but they wished to penetrate into the secrets of nature a priori, that is, by means of principles and rational philosophy, while the philosophers of our day wish to do this a posteriori, that is, by means of experience. Both have the same love, for they concur as to the end in view.
Who does not desire that nature shall be seen in her inmost recesses and unveiled? Who does not desire to know what the soul is? where it resides? what will be its nature after death? what the highest good is. Who does not desire to know the inner contents of another’s mind? the secrets of his own companions, of society, of kingdoms? Who is there that is not delighted when with telescopes he beholds the moon, a planet and its satellites? that does not wish to know whether there are inhabitants there, and how the planets pursue their daily and annual motions in this great vortex? Who does not love to discover by microscopes nature’s tiniest objects, and insects invisible to the eye? not to mention an infinitude of other things which show that this love is implanted in the human mind, a love which is also the principle of becoming wise, and the efficient cause of the formation of our intellect; and, being this, is present within us before the formation, though we do not perceive its presence save by judging from its effect. It follows that it flows in from a superior mind within us – a mind whose property it is to know and understand all things universally, and to wish to communicate this its property to an inferior mind, whereby it may present itself in its body.
Wonder is the affection produced by all perfection as related to the subject thereof. We wonder at wisdom in a child, but not in an old man; at intellect in an insane man; at the analogue of virtue in a brute animal. So long as we know little or nothing concerning the object of our wonder, we wonder at its perfection, even though this be slight. Thus we wonder at the marvels of nature, which are infinite in number, at her hidden forms, and other like things. Therefore, little children wonder at all things, because to them what lies beneath is occult. This wonder, therefore, coincides with the love of knowing things hidden; for what we wonder at, that same is deeply fixed in our memory.
We wonder that nature in her kingdoms is so marvelous, but if we knew what she herself is, and that she is supremely perfect and can produce nothing else than marvels, we would cease to wonder.
We wonder at the miracles of God, and the proofs of His Providence, because we do not comprehend that He is Infinite, and His perfection infinite. Were we to perceive this, we would feel nothing of amazement but only veneration and adoration, thinking that what we comprehend with our mind is a minimum, and that there is an infinitude of things which surpass our understanding. He is most deeply hidden and unsearchable by any mind, that He may be the God whom, from His universe and the marvels of nature, we may wonderingly admire and adore. Who would God be were He not inscrutable?