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Excellence of Spiritual Knowledge

One drop of knowledge taught by God, is more excellent than the whole ocean of human knowledge and acquired gifts.

John Flavel
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Resting Satisfied with Head Knowledge?

Let us beware of resting satisfied with head knowledge. It is an excellent thing when rightly used. But a person may have much of it, and still perish everlastingly. What is the state of our hearts? This is the great question.

—J. C. Ryle
Matthew, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 8.

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Knowledge for Affections

If thy knowledge do not now affect thy heart, it will at last, with a witness, afflict thy heart; if it do not now endear Christ to thee, it will at last provoke Christ the more against thee; if it do not make all the things of Christ to be very precious in thy eyes, it will at last make thee the more vile in Christ’s eyes.

—Thomas Brooks
Smooth Stones Taken from Ancient Brooks (Passmore and Alabaster, 1903).

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Some Know but Do Not Delight in God

Many have the knowledge of God, who have no delight in Him or His will. Owls have eyes to perceive that there is a sun, but by reason of the weakness of their sight have no pleasure to look upon a beam of it; so neither can a man by nature love or delight in the will of God, because of his natural corruption. That law that riseth up in men for conviction and instruction, they keep down under the power of corruption, making their souls not the sanctuary, but prison of truth (Rom 1:18). They will keep it down in their hearts, if they cannot keep it out of their heads, and will not endeavour to know and taste the spirit of it.

—Stephen Charnock
The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 1:194.

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Belief the Beginning of All Knowledge

There is more of belief than reason in the world

All instructors and masters in sciences and arts require first a belief in their disciples, and a resignation of their understandings and wills to them. And it is the wisdom of God to require that of man. He therefore that quarrels with the condition of faith must quarrel with all the world, since belief is the beginning of all knowledge; indeed, and most of the knowledge in the world may rather come under the title of belief than of knowledge.

So understanding comes more by belief than man commonly admits. Augustine’s dictum has it this way, “I do not understand in order to believe; I believe in order to understand.”

—Stephen Charnock
Adapted from, The Complete Works of Stephen Charnock, 2:68.

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