This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
I. SUCH PRAYER FOR ALL SORTS OF MEN IS GOOD. It is good:
1. Because it springs from a good motive, a loving interest in our fellow-mere.
2. Because it is directed to a good end, the promotion of their highest welfare.
3. Because it is a divinely commanded duty.
II. SUCH PRAYER IS ACCEPTABLE BEFORE GOD OUR SAVIOR. It meets God's highest approval because it is in accordance with his own gracious designs toward the sons of men.
III. REASON OR GROUND FOR THIS UNIVERSALITY OF OUR PUBLIC PRAYERS. It is good and acceptable "before God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." He wills that all men should be saved, therefore we should pray for all men. Our prayers will thus be in conformity with his wilt.
1. Consider the nature of the salvation here described.
(1) It is not mere salvation from intellectual error, for it is that which is involved in "the full knowledge of the truth."
(2) It is not mere salvability, as if he made the salvation of all men possible.
(3) It is not salvation merely offered for man's acceptance, but salvation actually obtained and enjoyed. The immediate end is "the knowledge of the truth," the ultimate end salvation in its completeness.
2. Consider the relation of the Divine will to this salvation. "Who will have all men to be saved."
(1) There is nothing in the language to justify the theory of Universalists that all men will ultimately be saved.
(a) The apostle uses the term θέλει, not the stronger term βουλέται, which implies will with a purpose or intent.
(b) If he had used the term σῶζαι, he must have saved all; but the word is σωθῆναι, implying his will that they should be brought, through the knowledge of the truth, to salvation.
(c) If we are to interpret the will of God by his providence, we must understand it in consistency with the fact that the large majority of mankind have never heard of salvation and have no knowledge of it.
(d) It must be remembered that many must have failed to reach this salvation before Christ died at all.
(2) The language of universality is consistent with other language of Scripture.
(a) Christ says, "And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32); "All men shall see the salvation of the Lord" (Luke 3:6). The Messiah "shall pour out his Spirit upon all flesh" (Joel 2:28). Christ "died for all," and he may therefore be truly called Salvator hominum. He died for all to arrest the immediate execution of the sentence of the Law upon man for sin; to obtain for him unnumbered blessings in this life, that he might secure a proper foundation for the offer of salvation through his blood.
(b) But the design of God in the death of Christ had not the same relation to all. He is "the Savior of all, but especially of them that believe." He is the Savior of his people, of his Church, of the elect.
(c) The language of universality used in the passage was suggested by way of contrast to the restrictiveness of Gnostic teaching, which led the apostle to say to the Colossians that his aim was "to present every man perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28); perhaps, likewise, the restrictiveness of a narrow Judaism, for he emphasizes in the context his mission as "a teacher of the Gentiles." There is deep mystery in God's counsels. But he here sets forth his good will to man, and charges it on the conscience of believers to pray that all without exception should be brought to the knowledge of the truth. - T.C.
In the sight of God our Saviour.
I. Let us think, by way of preparing our minds for this broad truth, of THE TITLE CHOSEN BY OUR APOSTLE — "God our Saviour," or "our Saviour God." It is the good pleasure of God as the Saviour, that is uppermost in his mind. The intercessions of the Church as well as the intercessions of the Christ, are but the outgrowth of a Divine purpose, a saving purpose. Surely here is abundant proof, that whatever may be said of mediation, it cannot be an intervention by a third party between a guilty world and a holy Creator. Surely, also, we ought to look upon redemption as having its spring and source in an unsolicited love of the Divine heart. It would have been well had there been more use made of this beautiful phrase, "God our Saviour," and less of "God the Sovereign," which is not a Scriptural one. When the lost are found, they are found through the mercy of God our Saviour.
II. Then let us observe, that if there be any meaning in words, HERE IS ALSO A DIVINE PREFERENCE DISCLOSED TO US; yes, and more than a preference, an energy going forth in order to attain the object of that preference "who willeth that all men should be saved." It is not that, of the two, He would rather men should be saved than that they should be lost. This would be a poor and pitiful rendering of the teaching here conveyed to us. Nor is it that there is a sentimental preference; this again might be very unpractical in its results. Many people are conscious of decided preferences, but the preferences are not thrown into their wills. "God willeth." Oh that is a strong will of God. He willeth, and lo, the creation became a fact. Are you afraid to allow that there is a strong will — the will of God our Saviour, behind all the acts and processes of Redemption? You say that a purpose may be thwarted and a preference crossed. Yes, yes, but don't let this beguile you into any loss of comfort which these words ought to bring you. Especially let them not rob you of any conviction about the absolute and irreversible favourableness of God to your personal, your present, and your future salvation.
III. THE BREADTH AND GRANDEUR OF THIS STATEMENT MY STARTLE US. But what will familiarity with it do for us? "Oh," says one, "it will not do to speak it out too boldly. Men will grow daring in their sins; and they will come to believe that if love be indeed almighty and all-embracing, they may do just as they like, and all will be right at last." Do you not see, however, that, though our apostle entertained this conviction, he saw that all men needed to be prayed for and laboured for? He who is our Saviour God wills that all should be saved; therefore it is good and acceptable in His sight that we should pray for all without distinction, h true prayer becomes a purpose. He who prays for what God loves and wishes, must come to love what God loves; else his prayer is not a true prayer. Why was the Cross planted? Not that the good might be strengthened in their goodness, but that the bad might be assured there was a means whereby they might be recovered. The salvation of Christ is not simply a protection of virtuous men, but a recovery of the vicious; not simply an incentive to continuance in well-doing, but a restoration from evil-doing. What that salvation is, at which our apostle glances, you must look elsewhere to find. If he says, "knowledge of the truth," do not think that this requires a vast deal of learning to reach. Do not suppose that mere opinion, or Scripture knowledge even, is what he means. He means, that associated with salvation is a true knowledge, a true recognition of God as the Saviour. The false lie gives place to the true knowledge: there is nothing more than this in the phrase. You have believed Satan's lie, now believe God's truth. Salvation, again — do you ask what it is? It is a renewed moral energy — the power to do right, the strength to overcome evil. It is safety when the enemy may tempt or taunt. It is eternal life in Christ. It is to have God dwelling with, in us — the assurance of victory.
(G. J. Proctor.)
I. The apostle remarks, that THERE IS ONE GOD. It has been said that the idea of eternity and the idea of a God are too much for us to meddle with. It is not too much to meddle with, but too much fully to understand. One God, one eternal Jehovah, who is above all, and over all, and in all, the only One depending upon none, and derived nor proceeding from none.
II. The second thing in the text is, that THERE IS ONE MEDIATOR. Here an interesting scene presents itself to our view. Three parties, God on the one hand, man on the other, and a Mediator, coming, mediating and acting between these two parties at difference, to bring them into union. Now, in order to be qualified to act between both, he must be acquainted with the nature, sentiments, and feelings of both. Agreeably to this, Jesus is revealed as truly and properly God, and therefore He has the same names given to Him, the same attributes ascribed to Him. Nor are we to confine His mediation to the days after His appearance in the flesh; He was the one Mediator from the beginning of the Creation. It was through faith in the seed of the woman who was to appear in the fulness of time to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself that Adam and Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and all the fathers, entered into glory. He, as the alone Mediator, does and will continue to mediate until the whole scheme of mercy be completed. There is one God and one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus. "Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth" This implies that the truth must be revealed, or made known. But how is the truth to be made known for its acknowledgment and belief? God does not, as it is asserted in the Apocrypha, take a prophet by the hair of the head, and place him where his work awaits him; the truth is made known by the use of ordinary means. Now, let us consider the present state of human means. The progress of science and the perfection of navigation have opened up the possibility of sending the truth to every land to be acknowledged and received. Many motives might be urged. What Christ has done for you calls upon you to do something for promoting His interest in the world. The value that you yourselves put upon the salvation of your souls should induce you to send the truth to others.
(A. Clarke, D. D.)
1. He is a seeking Saviour. Were a king to enter a city he would expect and receive honour and applause. But the world would be astonished if instead of asking to be shown the principal buildings of the city, the king were to say to the mayor, "Now let me go to your poor men and women who need my kingly help and sympathy: it gives me no pleasure to look on your splendour while I know your back slums are crowded with the miserable and degraded." Ah, no king ever did this except the One who was crowned with thorns, and whose throne was a cross.
2. God is a gracious Saviour. He not only loves His friends, but He dies to save His enemies.
3. God is a truthful Saviour. His word may be relied on. No man yet, so far as I have been able to learn, ever trusted God and was lost.
4. He is a loving Saviour. A mother who has a crippled child, from whom all other people draw away and shudder because of its distorted face, will hug her babe to her breast and rejoice because she has love for it. Now, like a mother, God is our loving Saviour, not because there is anything good in us, but because His heart contains love for us.
5. The Lord is a powerful Saviour.
6. God is our present Saviour. He saves now.
7. God is our everlasting Saviour. If He were not able to "keep us" I should doubt, and you would fear; but we rejoice to know that God is our ever lasting Saviour.
Who will have all men to be saved
I. TO THE APPELLATION GIVEN BY THE APOSTLE TO GOSPEL — it is "the truth." The unhesitating manner in which the founders of Christianity apply this epithet to the religious system they were charged to unfold to the world is a circumstance not to be passed over in silence. Had they been conscious of the absence of inspiration, and that the Christian code of doctrine had been an invention of their own, it would have been insufferable arrogance in them to have dignified it with the appellation of "the truth." They knew that this system was "the truth," because they knew that it came from God. The heathen sages had reason which was dark and beclouded, because it was only the reason of fallen creatures. The apostles had revelation, the mind of the Spirit, who searches the deep things of God. The gospel which they preached had the evidence of the old revelation of the law; for its principles were seen pictured in the hieroglyphics of the tabernacle. It had the evidence of the prophets; for they had jointly testified of Christ, His sufferings, His glory, His doctrines, in language of easy interpretation. They had the evidence of miracles wrought by Jesus Himself, in confirmation of His mission, and which they themselves had seen. But by designating the gospel "the truth," the apostle not only proclaims its divinity, and consequent in fallibility, but also calls the attention of men to it as a system of the utmost importance to them, and bound up with their best interests. It is represented in the text as truth which relates to salvation. God willeth all men to be saved by coming to the knowledge of the truth. It is this circumstance which strikes so deep an interest to our religion, and distinguishes it as "the truth," by way of eminence. All truth is not interesting to man; or, at least, every other truth is but partially so. It shows us the true propitiation — the blood of a divine sacrifice. It exhibits the terms of man's acceptance — his deep humiliation of soul, and his faith in the merits and intercession of the appointed Redeemer. It has promises for man's encouragement, warnings for his caution, precepts for his direction. It proclaims him immortal; teaches him that he is on his trial; sets before him the solemnities of the general judgment; and carries his hopes and fears into their highest exercise, and renders them of the best possible service to him, by opening to him the penalties of eternal destruction, and the glories of endless felicity. H. We observe in the text, THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS TRUTH IS CONNECTED WITH SALVATION, AS A MEANS TO AN END; and connected, too, by no less an authority than the will of God. He that willeth "all men to be saved" willeth them also "to come to the knowledge of the truth"; and from this the inference is irresistible, that the knowledge of the truth is essential to salvation. This subject deserves our serious attention; and there are two questions which arise out of it — What degree of that truth is necessary to be known in order to salvation; and how it must be known. The first question presents a point of necessary discussion; because if it were meant that, before a person could be saved, he should have a complete and accurate knowledge of all the truths of the gospel, every one would be excluded from the benefit. The truths revealed are the revelations of an infinite mind, and partake of its infinity. They relate to spiritual operations, of which we know little; and to a future state, of which we practically know nothing. For this reason the gospel must ever present something more to be known, as well as to be experienced; and it is to be the subject of development for ever. This is its perfection. But there are considerations which prove that a perfect knowledge of every part of the truth is not essential to mere salvation. Hence it is that divines have divided the truths of the gospel into two classes — those which are essential, and those which are nonessential. The distinction is just. There are truths which it is necessary we should know in order that we may be saved. The best way of determining what is essential for us to know, is to consider what is essential to faith. It is said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Whatever, therefore, is essential for us to know, in order that we may believe, must be essential for us to know, in order that we may be saved. In order to faith we must know the purity of the Divine law in such a degree as shall convince us that we have violated it, and incurred the penalty of its maledictory sanction. We must know our inability to make atonement; for without this the undertaking of Christ is vain in respect to us. We must know so much of the evidence of Christ's mission as to receive Him as the divinely appointed Redeemer. We must know His meritorious death to be so satisfactory to the offended Deity, that for the sake of that He will impute our faith for justification. We must know the provisions made in the promises for supplying us with the help of the Holy Spirit for the renewing of our nature, and the support and comfort of our minds; and we must know the precepts of the gospel law, by which our minds and lives may be regulated according to the will of God. This knowledge is necessary for mere salvation: but we are far from saying that a higher degree of knowledge is useless. A higher degree of knowledge is, indeed, necessary in order to a confirmed faith; to enable us to meet and answer the objections by which we may be assailed; to qualify us to instruct the ignorant; to be a means of carrying us up to high attainments in religion; and to prepare us for extensive usefulness in the Church. The second question, how the truth must be known, in order that we may be saved, seems to be answered in the phrase, "come to the knowledge of the truth." This knowledge supposes curiosity to know the truth. It is lamentable that there is so little of this amongst men. In many instances truth is never thought of. This knowledge supposes the admission of truth into the understanding, and its influence upon the practice. Some men shrink back from this knowledge. They will not come to the light lest their deeds should be reproved. Whatever it cost us, we must know the truth, that we may walk by it, and be saved by its instrumentality.
III. The text presents us with an interesting view of THE CONNECTION OF THE DIVINE WILL WITH THE SALVATION OF MAN. "Who will have all men to be saved."
1. The object of this will is the salvation of man. This has already been alluded to, but deserves a more distinct consideration. It is this which so gloriously displays the benevolence of God by the gospel.
2. That in the same sense He willeth all men to be saved. That this is Scripture doctrine, and that the word "all" is to be taken in its most extensive sense, scarcely any other argument is necessary to prove than that of the apostle in the context. It is a feeble criticism to say that the apostle meant by the expression, "all men," all ranks of men; for that is the same thing. "All ranks of men" are "all men" (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15). Here the remedy is declared to be as extensive as the disease.
3. The mode in which the Divine will is connected with human salvation remains to be considered. It is a natural question, "If God willeth all men to be saved, why is it that any perish?" The answer is, If God willeth to save men by overcoming their wills by His omnipotent influence, all men must be saved; but He wills to save them according to the nature which He has given them; and we have the evidence of His Word, and of our own consciousness, that His will is a resistible will, and that His willing us to be saved does not effect our salvation without a corresponding determination of our own will. The principal opinions on this subject are these. Some persons have considered man, when under the gracious influence of God exerted upon him in order to his salvation, as wholly passive, and carried by irresistible force into a new condition. But if this be the case, then man is a machine. Another opinion therefore is, that the will is necessarily influenced in its determinations by motives of good and evil discovered to the understanding; and that in the case of those who are saved, such motives as must command the assent of the will are impressed by God upon the mind; and thus it is supposed that the person so operated upon is infallibly brought into a state of salvation without any violence to his free agency. If, however, God willeth all men to be saved, and proceeded in this way to the execution of His purpose, their salvation would be as certain as if they were machines. The doctrine is the same, though cloaked with a metaphysical garb. The opposite extreme to these opinions is, that man has a natural power to discern the right, and to choose it, independent of a Divine agency exerted upon his mind. Had man been left without any supernatural aids, he must have been as blind to discern what is good as he was unable to choose it. The plain facts before us, then, are, God willeth our salvation; He has appointed effectual means to this end; He has given us all the power to use these means; and to the use of them lie has promised His blessing. Whether we will actually "come to the knowledge of the truth," or not, is left ultimately with ourselves; but whether we will hear the voice of God, or whether we will forbear, we have motives, exhortations, promises; all that can move upon our fear, our love, our interest. To apply these motives is a part of our ministry. We are made ambassadors for Christ to persuade you to be reconciled to God.
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
I. Now it can scarcely have escaped your attention that there is in our text AN ACCUMULATION OF PHRASE WHICH MUST PREVENT OUR THINKING THAT ANY PRAYER, EXCEPT THE LARGEST AND MOST URGENT, WILL COME UP TO THE SCOPE OF THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION. These words forbid our thinking that St. Paul simply requires that we should be, in general terms, the well-wishers of mankind. Had his discourse referred exclusively to the household of faith, he could not have used more unrestricted language, nor sent us to our knees with a broader view of the blessings to be sought for in our wrestlings with God. We just wish by these means to show at the outset the wrongness of the opinion that we are only bidden to solicit for the mass of our fellow-men the common mercies of existence, that we may reserve petitions which have to do with God's nobler gifts for our pleadings on behalf of a select company of mankind. If you consider prayer attentively, whether it be for ourselves or for others, you must regard it as the most wonderful act which can ever be attempted by a fallen creature. We shall not hesitate to say that so long as the scheme of our redemption is kept out of sight, prayer is nothing but a great proof of human ignorance. There is a great deal taken for granted in prayer. When I pray, I assume that an access has been opened for me to the Father; I assume, that in spite of my apostasy, born though I have been in sin and cradled in corruption, God's compassions towards me may not be shut up nor alienated. I assume that some amazing corrective, as it were, must have been applied to human guiltiness, so that the pollution which naturally and necessarily clings to the fallen, is no hindrance to free admission to an audience of Him who is of purer eyes than to look unmoved upon iniquity. And how can I assume all this, unless I bring within my contemplations the mysteries of redemption, and, making my appeal to the wondrous achievement which Christ hath effected on my behalf, fetch from that an assurance that there lies no barrier between myself and the Lord? The whole work of human reconciliation is gathered into God's permitting prayer. The globe was convulsed and shaken to its very centre before it could become a platform on which man might kneel. It is a truth sufficiently simple to commend itself to every capacity, that if prayer is literally based upon redemption, then all who can be rightly the subjects of prayer must be strictly the subjects of redemption. I cannot pray for a man whom I know to have never been redeemed — a man for whom Christ Jesus did not die. Can I ask God to have mercy on that man's soul? Such is the use that we would make of the exhortation of our text. We infer from it the grand doctrine of Christianity, even that of Christ's having died for the whole world; and lest it should be thought that this inference is in any degree far fetched, we will just show you how St. Paul supports or authorizes his exhortation. You observe that the announced reason that all should be prayed for is that God is willing that all should be saved; and if God wills that all should be saved, assuredly all must have been put into a salvable state; in other words, all must have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. It does not fall within the scope of our argument to examine into the mystery of God's willing the salvation of all, when it is certain that nothing more than a remnant shall be saved. The character given to the living God — and who doubts that at the root of true religion lies the character of God? — the character given by St. Paul of the living God is that He is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe. In this same sense — for He is not spoken of as a different kind of Saviour, in the different senses, but as the same in kind though different in degree — in the same sense that God is especially the Saviour of believers, He is generally the Saviour of all men. This is St. Paul's statement; and if the living God is the Saviour generally of all in that very sense in which He is especially the Saviour of believers, then beyond question all must have been redeemed by Him; for redemption is that incipient form of salvation which may be common to all, and yet applied effectually only to some, O blessed Saviour, Thou didst take upon Thyself our nature, and didst ransom that nature, and therefore didst place within the reach of all who are born of this nature the choice things of forgiveness and acceptance; therefore is it that our prayers may, and must, go up to the mercy-seat on behalf of all; all shall be the subjects of our petition, for all are the objects of redemption; and we may now acknowledge and appreciate the justice of the ample terms in which the text is expressed: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men."
II. We turn now to the second question — WHAT IS PRE-SUPPOSED IN REGARD OF ALL MEN, WHEN WE ARE BIDDEN, AS WE FURTHER ARE, TO GIVE THANKS FOR ALL MEN? You will observe at once that thanksgiving must assume the existence of benefit. If I am to give thanks for all men, it is clear that I must be acquainted with some manifestation of kindness towards all, which may justly summon forth my praise on their account. But if we were guilty of an exaggeration in designating prayer as a giant act, we fall into no over-wrought statement if we apply such an epithet to the thanking God for our creation. Conscious to myself of the struggles within me of a principle which can never be extinguished, never be mastered by any process of decay, knowing that the present scene, whatever its cares or its joys, is but the first stage of an unlimited career along which I am appointed to pass — shall I praise God for having endowed me with existence, unless I have assurance that it is not impossible for me to secure myself happiness throughout the infinity of my being? Shall I thank God for the capacity of being miserable, unspeakably miserable, throughout unnumbered ages? I cannot do this. I cannot praise God for the bright sunshine that must light me to the dungeon; I cannot praise God for the breeze that must waft me to the whirlpool; I cannot praise God for the food that must nourish me for the rack! Life, the present life, that single throb, that lonely beat — can I praise God for this, if it must unavoidably usher me into a sphere of wretchedness whose circumference cannot be reached, or turn me adrift on an ocean of fire without a shore, or consign me to that mysterious death which consists in the being for ever dying, that wondrous immortality of being restored as fast as consumed and consumed as fast as restored? Better, oh! infinitely better for me if I had never been born, I cannot praise God for this. Creation can be no more a blessing than annihilation if I am not a redeemed man; it is this, and this alone, for which you require me to praise God. If I am a redeemed man it is possible that I may be saved; if I am not a redeemed man, then, so far as is revealed, it is impossible. As far as we know from the Bible it is impossible that any man shall be saved for whom Christ did not die. And how then can I give God thanks for all men, unless I believe that Christ died for all men? Shall I praise Him for the creation of others though I cannot praise Him for my own? Shall I sweep the harp strings, and bring out the melodies of gratitude, because God has so dealt with tens of thousands of my fellow-men; that if He had dealt" in like manner with myself, I should have worn sackcloth and gone all my days in inconsolable mourning? No! I cannot thank God for all men except on the noble principle that Christ has redeemed all men. Creation is a blessing if connected with redemption, but not dissociated from it. Thus, as we trust, we have sufficiently shown you that the universal redemption of mankind is pre-supposed when we are bidden to pray for all, and when we are bidden to give thanks for all. Our two topics may, therefore, be considered as sufficiently discussed, and it only remains to bid you strive to obey in your practice the exhortation of which we have shown you the propriety.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Knowledge of the truthI. IT IS BY A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH THAT MEN ARE SAVED. Observe that stress is laid upon the article: it is the truth and not every truth. Though it is a good thing to know the truth about anything, and we ought not to be satisfied to take up with a falsehood upon any point, yet it is not every truth that will save us. We are not saved by knowing any one theological truth we may choose to think of, for there are some theological truths which are comparatively of inferior value. They are not vital or essential, and a man may know them and yet may not be saved. It is the truth which saves. Jesus Christ is the Truth: the whole testimony of God about Christ is the truth. This knowledge of the grand facts which are here called the truth saves men, and we will notice its mode of operation.
1. Very often it begins its work in a man by arousing him, and thus it saves him from carelessness. Perhaps he heard a sermon, or read a tract, or had a practical word addressed to him by some Christian friend, and he found out enough to know that "he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the Son of God." That startled him. "God is angry with the wicked every day" — that amazed him. He had not thought of it, perhaps had not known it, but when he did know it, he could rest no longer.
2. The truth is useful to a man in another way: it saves him from prejudice. Often when men are awakened to know something about the wrath of God, they begin to plunge about to discover divers methods by which they may escape from that wrath. Consulting, first of all, with themselves, they think that if they reform — give up their grosser sins, and if they can join with religious people, they will make it all right. They have done all that they judged right and attended to all that they were told, Suddenly, by God s grace, they come to a knowledge of another truth, and that is that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in the sight of God. They discover that salvation is not by works of the law or by ceremonies, and that if any man be under the law he is also under the curse.
3. Moreover, it often happens that a knowledge of the truth stands a man in good stead for another purpose: it saves him from despair.
4. A knowledge of the truth shows a man his personal need of being saved.
5. A knowledge of the truth reveals the atonement by which we are saved: a knowledge of the truth shows us what that faith is by which the atonement becomes avail able for us: a knowledge of the truth teaches us that faith is the simple act of trusting, that it is not an action of which man may boast.
II. A MERE NOTIONAL KNOWLEDGE OR A DRY DOCTRINAL KNOWLEDGE IS OF NO AVAIL. We must know the truth in a very different way from that. How are we to know it, then?
1. Well, we are to know it by a believing knowledge. You do not know a thing unless you believe it to be really so.
2. In addition to this, your knowledge, if it becomes believing knowledge, must be a personal knowledge — a persuasion that it is true in reference to yourself.
3. But this must be a powerful knowledge, by which I mean that it must operate in and upon your mind. A man is told that his house is on fire. I will suppose that standing here I held up a telegram, and said, "My friend, is your name so-and-so?" "Yes." "Well, your house is on fire." He knows the fact, does he not? Yes, but he sits quite still. Now, my impression is about that good brother, that he does not know, for he does not believe it.
4. This know. ledge when it comes really to save the soul is what we call experimental knowledge — knowledge acquired according to the exhortation of the Psalmist, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good" — acquired by tasting. I am now going to draw two inferences which are to be practical. The first one is this: in regard to you that are seeking salvation. Does not the text show you that it is very possible that the reason why you have not found salvation is because you do not know the truth? Hence, I do most earnestly entreat the many of you young people who cannot get rest to be very diligent searchers of your Bibles. The last inference is for you who desire to save sinners. You must bring the truth before them when you want to bring them to Jesus Christ.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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