10 July 2007

Mystery Quotation: knowledge

by Dan Phillips

It's high time for another round of Mystery Quotation. Remember, no tricks—
  1. Use your memory (or guessing) alone
  2. No electronic tools
  3. No Googling
Here 'tis:
Reader, If it be not strong upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read? To increase thy own condemnation? If thy light and knowledge be not turned into practice, the more knowing man thou art, the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever. When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first part of an orator, what the second, what the third? he answered, Action; the same may I say. If any should ask me, what is the first, the second, the third part of a Christian? I must answer, Action; as that man that reads that he may know, and that labours to know that he may do, will have two heavens — a heaven of joy, peace and comfort on earth, and a heaven of glory and happiness after death.
Appropriate thoughts, I think, for readers (—and writers!) of Biblically contentful blogs.

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44 comments:

donsands said...

"as that man that reads that he may know, and that labours to know that he may do"

Amen.

Hudson Taylor?

centuri0n said...

It's my own conscience. I know it well.

takin said...

John Bunyan

graceandmercy said...

Sounds like Thomas Manton!

Hayden said...

Thomas Watson

DJP said...

Grace is close.

DJP said...

Hayden is equally close.

DJP said...

Of course, anyone who wants to discuss the content of the quotation without guessing its author is encouraged to do so as well.

donsands said...

Thomas Boston.

(I thought I'd try another Thomas)

DJP said...

Well... it ain't Thomas Jefferson!

(Nor Terry Thomas, Marlo Thomas, N. Thomas Wright, nor Clarence Thomas.)

DJP said...

Frank, btw and fwiw, that's the bit I mentioned to you and Phil, and meant (and forgot) to share with you every day.

ADieL said...

I think its Spurgeon.

But hey, I have a question... when the writer says,

"thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever..."

Is he saying that these things will happen to the redeemed Christian while in heaven?

Daryl said...

Aquinas?

Daryl said...

That bit that Adiel pulled out sounds like it could come from Pelagius or Finney...

DJP said...

I'm sure that's not what he meant, Adiel. The Pelagius/Finney crack is just silly, Daryl. Puritan writers were constantly warning of the dangers of hearing and learning, without being converted. Do you not remember the closing words of Pilgrim's Progress, and how the writer "saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction"?

LeeC said...

Hmmm,the content reads like something from Richard Baxter, but the wording doesn't seem quite right for him.

Caleb said...

J.C. Ryle


I remember lines like this from a paper of his I read called "How Readest Thou".

Daniel said...

'tis Thomas Brooks, methinks. From "Precious Remedies".

steve said...

Daniel, I'm sure, has beat me to it. I say Thomas Brooks, too.

Daryl said...

Dan,

You're right of course. That was a silly comment.
I wasn't saying you were quoting them, only that that particular bit, taken alone with no context (I had none, being unaware that it was a Puritan writer) does sound that way.

Perhaps we can use it as an object lesson in using quotes as the quotee intended.

Sorry for any ruffled feathers.

Al said...

Watson...

al sends

Andrew said...

Thomas Watson

Andrew said...

Doh! Al beat me to it.

stupid blogger made me do the word verification 3 times!

Ah well who am I kidding? I was totally guessing. Is Watson correct though?

I'll go further an guess it's from his "Body of Divinity", since that's the only Watson book I know of. It's on my shelf. The only part I've read so far is the 10 commandments.

DJP said...

Daryl: good point, and good caution.

Daniel and Steve: DINGDINGDINGDING!

Precious Remedies against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks, 1652, Banner of Truth, p. 22

Daryl said...

A quick comment on the quote itself:

I see (reading it more closely than before, my apologies) that the condemnation to which he is referring seems to be the condemnation of conscience with on earth.
However I gotta believe that "there is therefore now no condemnation" applies even here.

Honestly, this is one concept that I have never fully understood. How is it that there is both no condemnation and yet condemnation of conscience at the same time? (And I agree with the author, there certainly is)
Surely the condemnation of conscience, as he describes, is not wrong.

Ahh...I think I'm having one of those "seeing the answer as I write" moments. The difference I suppose, is actual legal condemnation resulting in wrath (under the no condemnation heading) and the guilt of conscience which is intended to spur us on toward seeking after God (under the heading to shich this writer refers)

Does any one of us do what they know? Is the double heaven idea that the writer mentions possible?

Daniel said...

Huzzah!

And what a book... Might be time for me to re-read it.

Daryl said...

...to shich this writer refers...?????

...which...of course.

Andrew said...

So... let's say I read something useful (whether it be a Pyro Blog, Thomas Brooks, or whatever) and try to make application of it... but so far I'm not experiencing any victory in that particlar area. Should I stop reading until progress is made?

Then follow-up questions is... does this same principle (work with the light you have rather than seeking more light) apply in any way to the reading of Scripture?

Sometimes I worry about how much knowledge I have piled up in my head which has never been successfully put into practice. It's overwhelming really.

jbuck21 said...

"Appropriate thoughts, I think, for readers (—and writers!) of Biblically contentful blogs."

...which blogs??

Kidding.

Good quote -

I remember Piper talking about Sinclair Ferguson trying to get his students to read SLOWER. I'm guilty of speed reading. And it's such a good reminder to dwell on these types of thoughts and to be constantly bringing one's conscience under this kind of scrutiny in a quiet and slow way.

Oh to be in heaven, and freed from the body of this death, huh?

steve said...

I don't own a copy of Precious Remedies; I have to credit Spurgeon for his help. I happen to have his Smooth Stones from Ancient Brooks, in which he excerpts extensively from Thomas Brooks.

Guess it's time for me to get Precious Remedies...

DJP said...

jbuck21Oh to be in heaven, and freed from the body of this death, huh?

Amen, amen.

Sewing said...

Verily, thou didst give unto us an excerpt whose authorship was most vexing to deduce.

I'm sure I've read it in a Biblezine somewhere, though....

david rudd said...

Oh to be in heaven, and freed from the body of this death, huh?

has gnosticism even crept into the pyromaniacs?

DJP said...

...insofar as it crept first into Romans 7:24?

david rudd said...

just a joke dan...

without the context you know...

DJP said...

It would be funny, David, to play Mystery Quotation, with TOTALLY out-of-context quotations from TOTALLY sound guys, that sound TOTALLY heretical. Just to make that point. Then give the whole context.

But then heck, I've got enough online that someone could surely do the same on me!

Pamela said...

John Bunyan ... ;-))

david rudd said...

dan,

or... totally heretical guys, from totally heretical pieces... but quotations that sound totally orthodox.

good post today, by the way.

Kyle said...

In response to Daryl’s post above. Perhaps I am speaking out of turn, since I have not read Precious remedies Against Satan’s Devices. However, reading this quote alone leads me to the following thoughts. This could be taken as addressed to two groups, believers and unbelievers. If to the latter then it can be understood to point to a similar though as is taught in Luke 12:46-48:

But if that slave says in his heart, 'My master will be a long time in coming,' and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. And that slave who knew his master's will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

Clearly if someone hears and does not believe then this knowledge will lead to his further torment when he is judged, which is what he could be referring to by “the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell.”

If this is addressed to the former group, which it may be since I imagine that it is primarily Christians who are interested in remedies for Satan’s devises, then it is a bit harder in light of Romans 8:1. However, I think Brooks may be pointing to passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:15, “If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” Or 2 Peter 1:10-11, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.” Implying that the way of entrance will be a fond homecoming rather than a narrow escape if we put into practice what we know (Spurgeon has a very interesting sermon regarding this passage http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0123.htm).

I personally think that Brooks is addressing readers who may pretend and even deceive themselves into thinking that their salvation is secured, yet have no reason to be so convinced. (“the more knowing man thou art, the more miserable man thou wilt be in the day of recompense; thy light and knowledge will more torment thee than all the devils in hell. Thy knowledge will be that rod that will eternally lash thee, and that scorpion that will for ever bite thee, and that worm that will everlastingly gnaw thee; therefore read, and labour to know, that thou mayest do, or else thou art undone for ever.” This seems to refer to a hellish existence). Those who would read this book, thinking it adds to their piety, yet are not convicted by it words nor spurred on by their challenges. This is why he calls, with James, to action; a faith proved and shorn up by resolute action. I think this is call by way of warning, to be “diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.”

Either way this is sound biblical council that should be soberly considered by each reader, no matter what his condition.

Sewing said...

I think Dan meant it first and foremost as an admonition to those in all generations—and we Calvinistically-inclined bloggers and hangers-on are no exception—who risk getting puffed up on theological knowledge, without taking what we have learned and applying it: applying to do confront and deal with our own sins (especially the pridefulness that we theologically-inclined geeks are so much in risk of exhibiting); applying it to help fellow believers; applying it to bear true witness and bring the Gospel to unbelievers; and so on.

Matt said...

But Dan,

I am sure I heard somewhere that conservative Christians are only concerned about intellectual assent to a list of doctrines without any change in lifestyle. I think it was a guy with a Scottish name - Cryin' McBlarin' or something like it.

All kidding aside, sewing, you truly speak words of wisdom. (Why don't you post more on your blog?) The more theologically inclined I become, the more I must remind myself that the objective of theological discernment is greater obedience, not just greater pride in knowledge. It is a real struggle (for me) to not let knowledge become the end in itself. The reminder is excellent, and the original material is excellent as well. Thanx Dan.

BTW, I think the orthodox heretic / heretical orthodox hound game could become very interesting.

Ronald Marks said...

Sounds like a quote from J. C. Ryle, "How Readest Thou?"

DJP said...

Kyle — well-put, and I take it the same way you do.

Sewing — right. I take it the way I take all the warning passages in Scripture (to speak very generally). Those dire warnings are part of how the Holy Spirit keeps the elect. The elect read those warnings, and respond in faith. But the warning is real. If I only hear and respond with intellectual interest (like Bunyan's Talkative), what I "know" will only heat up my condemnation.

Matt — I posted fairly recently (but rather obliquely) over at my blog why I haven't been posting more. I'm working on getting back at it more, God willing. Your prayers for me and my family would be much appreciated.

Sewing said...

Dan, more posting on your blog as well would be a blessing to all of us. I pray that the Lord is resolving whatever needed to be worked out that you alluded to a couple of weeks ago.

Matt, thank you, but I'm just echoing what wiser and more experienced souls have already said or written (like Dan in the original post). I do thank the Lord, though, that by his sovereign design, he has led me to a church that teaches both Biblical Christanity and solid Christian discipleship, led by pastors and elders full of Scriptural knowledge and the Spritual wisdom to apply that knowledge.

And as I just mentioned on another post, I thank the Lord for this blog as well, for He has worked through Phil, Dan, and Frank to teach not only me but many of us in our walk with the Lord, and not for our sake, but for His. Soli Deo gloria.