posted by Phil Johnson
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The following excerpt is from "Compassion on the Ignorant," a sermon preached on Thursday evening, 3 April 1884, at London's Metropolitan Tabernacle.
he talk of the theological hall is not understood in the cottage; and common phrases, which reading people understand at once, are not understood by multitudes of people.
But the pity is that there are also thousands of reading people who are totally ignorant of the things of God,—some of the wealthiest, some of the best educated, aye, some even of those who have been to the university, and some who put the "D.D." after their names.
"No," say you, "that cannot be."
I say that it is; and if you yourself know the way of salvation, you have but to talk with some of these people to find that what I say is true.
This is a truth that is learnt by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, and not by the teaching of theological professors. A man might spend a century under the best ministry, or in the best school that ever existed on earth, and yet, at the end of one hundred years, he might not know the things of God; for these truths must come as a revelation to each man, and God the Holy Ghost must teach them to each one, or they will never be learned. This is the standing miracle in the Church of God; and unless we see it continually wrought, we have not the clearest evidence that our religion is supernatural and divine.
Every man who really receives it, receives it not because it suits his taste or his palate, but because the Spirit of God sends it home to his heart. Every man who truly knows Christ, knows him not because with his own faculties he found him out, but because it pleased God to reveal his Son in him. And, apart from this, there is and must be to the end of human life an absence of all real knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, "Ye must be born again;" and then, being born again, ye must be taught of the Spirit of God; and, if we are not, as the strongest light cannot make a blind man see, and the greatest heat cannot make a dead man warm, so, neither can anything that we do, as long as the soul is unrenewed, ever cause it to know God and his grace aright. It is a common ignorance, then, in all ranks of society.
It is also an ignorance concerning the most important matters; for the men of whom I am now speaking are, first, ignorant of themselves. They are ignorant of their own ignorance; and perhaps there is no ignorance that is so hard to deal with as the utter ignorance of men as to their own ignorance.
"What! you call me ignorant?" a man asks. "I know everything; I have read from Genesis to Revelation, and I understand it all; I could preach as well as anybody."
Yes, but that kind of talk shows that you do not know, for he that knows that he does not know; and there is no man less inclined to boast of his knowledge than the man who has a good deal of it.
Whenever I find the men of the modern school of thought, as they are continually doing, sneering at the orthodox because we are all uncultured, and so forth, I think to myself, "And if you only had a little culture, you would not sneer so often." It is a mark which will never mislead you, that he who thinks that he knows is a fool; and he who says that he knows more than anybody else, and can afford to deal out his sneers liberally to others, is a gentleman who, if justice were dealt out to him, would be himself sneered at.
Those who are strangers to themselves do not know their own ignorance, and that is lamentable ignorance indeed.