25 March 2007

Spurgeon weighs in on "epistemological humility"

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote space at the beginning of each week to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive.


The first of the following excerpts comes from "The Anchor," a sermon preached Sunday morning 21 May 1876 at the Met Tab.

The second excerpt comes from "The Jewel of Peace," preached less than a year later, on 18 March 1877.

The final excerpt is from "Assured Security in Christ," a sermon on 2 Timothy 1:12 ("I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."), which sermon dates from 2 January 1870.

I stopped there because it seemed like more than enough to make the point. But I could've posted reams more material from Spurgeon just like it.
f it could be proved to be, as certain cultivated teachers would have us believe, that there is nothing very sure, that although black is black it is not very black, and though white is white it is not very white, and from certain standpoints no doubt black is white and white is black—if it could be proved, I say, that there are no eternal verities, no divine certainties, no infallible truths—then might we willingly surrender what we know or think we know, and wander about on the ocean of speculation, the waifs and strays of mere opinion.

But while we have the truth, taught to our very souls by the Holy Ghost, we cannot drift from it, nor will we—though men count us fools for our stedfastness.

Brethren, aspire not to the "charity" which grows out of uncertainty. There are saving truths, and there are damnable heresies. Jesus Christ is not yea and nay. His gospel is not a cunning mixture of the gall of hell and the honey of heaven, flavoured to the taste of bad and good.

There are fixed principles and revealed facts. Those who know anything experimentally about divine things have cast their anchor down, and as they heard the chain running out, they joyfully said, "This I know, and have believed. In this truth I stand fast and immovable. Blow winds and crack your cheeks, you will never move me from this anchorage. Whatsoever I have attained by the teaching of the Spirit, I will hold fast as long as I live."




ome minds are strangers to peace. How can they have peace, for they have no faith? They are as a rolling thing before the whirlwind, having no fixed basis, no abiding foundation of belief.

These are the darlings of the school of modern thought, whose disciples set themselves as industriously to breed doubt as if salvation came by it. Doubt and be saved is their gospel, and who does not see that this is not the gospel of peace?

Forsooth they are receptive, and are peering about for fresh light, though long ago the Sun of Righteousness has arisen.

Such uncertainty suits me not. I must know something or I cannot live: I must be sure of something or I have no motive from which to act. God never meant us to live in perpetual questioning. His revelation is not and cannot be that shapeless cloud which philosophical divines make it out to be.

There must be something true, and Christ must have come into the world to teach us something saving and reliable; he cannot mean that we should be always rushing through bogs and into morasses after the will-of-the-wisp of intellectual religion. There is assuredly some ascertainable, infallible, revealed truth for common people; there must be something sure to rest upon.

I know that it is so, and declare unto you what I have heard and seen. There are great truths which the Lord has engraven upon my very soul, concerning which all the men on earth and all the devils in hell cannot shake me. As to these vital doctrines, an immovable and unconquerable dogmatism has laid hold upon my soul, and therefore my mind has peace. A man’s mind must come to a settlement upon eternal truths by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, or else he cannot know what peace is.




n certain circles of society it is rare nowadays to meet with anybody who believes anything. It is the philosophical, the right, the fashionable thing nowadays to doubt everything which is generally received; indeed those who have any creed whatever are by the liberal school set down as old-fashioned dogmatists, persons of shallow minds, deficient in intellect, and far behind their age. The great men, the men of thought, the men of high culture and refined taste, consider it wisdom to cast suspicion upon revelation, and sneer at all definiteness of belief.

"Ifs" and "buts," "perhapses" and "peradventures," are the supreme delight of this period. What wonder if men find everything uncertain, when they refuse to bow their intellects to the declarations of the God of truth?

Note then, with admiration, the refreshing and even startling positiveness of the apostle—"I know," says he. And that is not enough—"I am persuaded." He speaks like one who cannot tolerate a doubt. There is no question about whether he has believed or not. "I know whom I have believed." There is no question as to whether he was right in so believing. "I am persuaded that be is able to keep that which I have committed to him." There is no suspicion as to the future; he is as positive for years to come as he is for this present moment. "He is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day."
C. H. Spurgeon



12 comments:

granttheslant said...

"In certain circles of society it is rare nowadays to meet with anybody who believes anything. It is the philosophical, the right, the fashionable thing nowadays to doubt everything which is generally received; indeed those who have any creed whatever are by the liberal school set down as old-fashioned dogmatists, persons of shallow minds, deficient in intellect, and far behind their age."

Wow, are you sure that was written by Spurgeon? It sounds like it was written this week. It's amazing how things never change.

Carla Rolfe said...

It does sound like it was written this week, doesn't it?

Once again, thank you Phil for these weekly Spurgeon installments.

Always a blessing & always pointing back to God's truth.

JSB said...

"Ifs" and "buts," "perhapses" and "peradventures," are the supreme delight of this period. What wonder if men find everything uncertain, when they refuse to bow their intellects to the declarations of the God of truth?"

Precisely. When one has sunk student loans into advanced degrees this is often the temptation. All the great academic buzzwords one has paid for need to be trotted out and displayed in the glass case of pride, rather than offered up as living sacrifices to the One who gave the intellectual gift in the first place.

Spurgeon was a grand wordsmith.

Steve said...

The great men, the men of thought, the men of high culture and refined taste, consider it wisdom to cast suspicion upon revelation, and sneer at all definiteness of belief.

Those words fit the current age all too well.

God's Word is a light unto our path, not a fog that obscures the way.

David said...

completely unrelated to your topic

Your link to BOT needs to be updated.

Robert said...

The only difference in today's skeptics is the phrase "American Taliban" , used to describe anyone who had certainty in his Christian beliefs.

donsands said...

The Lord is too gracious to give us the pure and simple truth of the Gospel.

What a Savior we do have!

Tremendous words from Charles Spurgeon. Thanks.

Phil Johnson said...

David:

BOT?

I haven't got a clue what you are talking about. I prolly have 1000+ web pages at my various websites with at least 10,000 links scattered around on them. Can we have a little specificity here?

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

It is amazing how truth never ages. It is equally a shame that there will always be itching ears for false teachers to scratch.

David
5smoothstones

David said...

Big
Orange
Truck

David said...

Phil, thanks again for this amazing post. I wanted to bring a typo to your attention, however. In the final paragraph, you wrote "I am persuaded that be is able to keep that which I have committed to him." I assume you meant "he is able" rather than "be is able". Just letting you know. Thanks again.

David
Five Smooth Stones