In reading Life of Owen, I came across a great section where Thomas points out the importance of actually living life. He says (emphasis mine),
A wish has sometimes been expressed, that men who, like Owen, have contributed so largely to the enriching of our theological literature, could have been spared the endless avocations of public life, and allowed to devote themselves almost entirely to authorship. But the wisdom of this sentiment is very questionable. Experience seems to testify that a certain amount of contact with the business of practical life is necessary to the highest style of thought and authorship; and that minds, when left to undisturbed literary leisure, are apt to degenerate into habits of diseased speculation and sickly fastidiousness. Most certainly the works that have come from men of monastic habits have done little for the world, compared with the writings of those who have ever been ready to obey the voice which summoned them away from tranquil studies to breast the storms and guide the movements of great social conflicts. The men who have lived the most earnestly for their own age, have also lived the most usefully for posterity. Owen’s retirement from the vice-chancellorship may indeed be regarded as a most seasonable relief from the excess of public engagement; but it may be confidently questioned whether he would have written so much or so well, had his intellect and heart been, in any great degree, cut off from the stimulus which the struggles and stern realities of life gave to them.
John Owen, vol. 1, The Works of John Owen., ed. William H. Goold (Edinburg: T&T Clark), lxviii.
There is something so true about this text. Those who retreat from the realities of life themselves seem to have little to add to the realities of life of others. Shear brilliance, without engaging the world, seems to have little value.