Job 4:12 And mine ear received a little thereof.
Nonnihil pauxillum, quippiam, not all that it might, but as much as it could, as being but a narrow mouthed vessel.
Vide ut modeste loquatur, saith Mercer; See how modestly the man speaketh, not taking upon him any perfection of knowledge, though he were a man of great understanding; his ear caught somewhat of what was revealed, and but somewhat.
The best men, while here, knows only in part; for what reason? We prophesy but in part, #1Co 13:9.
Such is our weakness and narrow heartedness, that we cannot take in all of all; no, nor any part of all in the full latitude and extent of it.
The greatest part of that we know is the least part of that we know not, saith a Father. Hence those modest expressions of some philosophers, and others:
This only I know, that nothing I know, said Socrates.
I know not so much as this, said another, that I yet know nothing.
My greatest knowledge, said Chytreus, is to know that I know nothing.
And albeit I am otherwise ignorant, saith another, yet of mine own ignorance I am not ignorant.
Not only in most other things am I to seek, saith Austin (Epist. cxix. c. 21), but even in the Scriptures (my chief study, and trade of life) multo plura nescio quam scio, there are many more things hid from me than what I yet understand, #Joh 14:4,5.
Thomas seems to contradict Christ. Austin thus reconcileth it: they did partly know whither Christ went, but dared not once believe that they had any such knowledge; they did not know their own knowledge.
The best here can see but God’s back parts, and live, as Moses. Isaiah saw only his train in the temple, and the latter end of that too. Eliphaz’s ear caught only the latter end, as it were, of a sentence, only that which the echo resounded, a particle of the whole that was whispered secretly to him. Howbeit, that he received but a little was not from neglect of the rest, but from inability to receive more or to receive it more perfectly.