“So that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.”
Romans 1:20, 21
THOSE who boast of their knowledge betray their ignorance. Knowledge is not a possession to be proud of, since it brings with it so great a responsibility that a nurse might as well be proud of watching over a life in peril. Knowledge may become good or ill according to the use which is made of it.
If men know God, for instance, and then glorify him as God, and are thankful, their knowledge has become the means of great blessing to them; but if they know God, and fail to glorify him, their knowledge turns to their condemnation. There is a knowledge which does not puff up the mind, but builds up the soul, being joined with holy love.
Did not our Lord say, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”? But for men to know God, and not to glorify him as God, and to be unthankful, is according to our text, no benefit to them: on the contrary, it becomes a savour of death unto them, because it leaves them without excuse.
Our Saviour could plead for some, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But what plea is to be used for those who know what they do, and yet do evil; who know what they ought to do, and do it not? These have the light, and close their eyes; or, to use another figure, they have the light, and use it to sin by. They take the golden candlestick of the sanctuary into their hands, and by its help they perform their evil deeds the more dexterously, and run in the way of wickedness the more swiftly.
Accursed is that man who heaps to himself knowledge till he becomes wise as Solomon, and then prostitutes it to base ends by using it to aggrandize his wealth, to pamper his appetites, to bolster his unbelief, or to conceal his vices. A man may by knowing more become all the more a devil.
His growing information may only increase his condemnation. It is clear, then, that knowledge is not a possession of such unmingled good that we may grow vain of it; better far will it be if the more we know the more we watch and pray. Go on and read, young man !
Go on and study with the utmost diligence. The more of knowledge you can acquire the better; but take care that you do not, like Sardanapalus, heap up your treasures to be your own funeral pile. Do not by a rebellious pride curdle the sweet milk of knowledge, and sour your precious blessing into an awful curse. It is soon done, but not so soon undone !