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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Knowledge of God (1)
Is often taken for the fear of God and the whole of religion. There is, indeed, a speculative knowledge, which consists only in the belief of his existence, and the acknowledgment of his perfections, but has no influence on the heart and conduct. A spiritual saving knowledge consists in veneration for the Divine Being, Psalms 89:7 , love to him as an object of beauty and goodness, Zechariah 9:17 . humble confidence in his mercy and promise, Psalms 9:10 . and sincere, uniform, and persevering obedience to his word, 1 John 2:3 . It may farther be considered as a knowledge of God, the Father; of his love, faithfulness, power, &c. Of the Son, as it relates to the dignity of his nature, 1 John 5:20 . the suitability of his offices, Hebrews 9:1-28 : the perfection of his work, Psalms 68:18 . the brightness of his example, Acts 10:38 . and the prevalency of his intercession, Hebrews 7:25 . Of the Holy Ghost, as equal with the Father and the Son; of his agency as enlightener and comforter; as also in his work of witnessing, sanctifying, and directing his people, John 15:16 : 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 . John 3:5-6 . Romans 8:16 . This knowledge may be considered as experimental, 2 Timothy 1:12 , fiducial, Job 13:15-16 . affectionate, 1 John 3:19 . influential, Psalms 9:10 . Matthew 5:16 . humiliating, Isaiah 6:1-13 : Job 42:5-6 . satisfying, Psalms 36:7 . Proverbs 3:17 . and superior to all other knowledge, Philippians 3:8 .
The advantages of religious knowledge are every way great. It forms the basis of true honour and felicity. "Not all the lustre of a noble birth, not all the influence of wealth, not all the pomp of titles, not all the splendour of power, can give dignity to the soul that is destitute of inward improvement. By this we are allied to angels, and are capable of rising for ever in the scale of being. Such is its inherent worth, that it hath always been represented under the most pleasing images. In particular, it hath been compared to light, the most valuable and reviving part of nature's works, and to that glorious luminary which is the most beautiful and transporting object our eyes behold. If we entertain any doubts concerning the intrinsic value of religious knowledge, let us look around us, and we shall be convinced how desirable it is to be acquainted with God, with spiritual, with eternal things. Observe the difference between a cultivated and a barren country. While the former is a lovely, cheerful, and delightful sight, the other administers a spectacle of horror. There is an equal difference between the nations among whom the principles of piety prevail, and the nations that are overrun with idolatry, superstition, and error. Knowledge, also, is of great importance to our personal and private felicity: it furnishes a pleasure that cannot be met with in the possession of inferior enjoyments; a fine entertainment, which adds a relish to prosperity, and alleviates the hour of distress. It throws a lustre upon greatness, and reflects an honour upon poverty.
Knowledge will also instruct us how to apply our several talents for the benefit of mankind. It will make us capable of advising and regulating others. Hence we may become the lights of the world, and diffuse those beneficent beams around us, which shall shine on benighted travellers, and discover the path of rectitude and bliss. This knowledge, also, tends to destroy bigotry and enthusiasm. To this we are indebted for the important change which hath been made since the beginning of the reformation. To this we are indebted for the general cultivation and refinement of the understandings of men. It is owing to this state that even arbitrary governments seem to have lost something of their original ferocity, and that there is a source of improvement in Europe which will, we hope, in future times, shed the most delightful influences on society, and unite its members in harmony, peace, and love. But the advantages of knowledge are still greater, for it points out to us an eternal felicity. The several branches of human science are intended only to bless and adorn our present existence; but religious knowledge bids us provide for an immortal being, sets the path of salvation before us, and is our inseparable companion in the road to glory.
As it instructs in the way to endless bliss, so it will survive that mighty day when all worldly literature and accomplishments shall for ever cease. At that solemn period, in which the records and registers of men shall be destroyed, the systems of human policy be dissolved, and the grandest works of genius die, the wisdom which is spiritual and heavenly shall not only subsist, but be increased to an extent that human nature cannot in this life admit. Our views of things, at present, are obscure, imperfect, partial, and liable to error; but when we arrive to the realms of everlasting light, the clouds that shadowed our understanding will be removed; we shall behold with amazing clearness the attributes, ways, and works of God; shall perceive more distinctly the design of his dispensations; shall trace with rapture the wonders of nature and grace, and become acquainted with a thousand glorious objects, or which the imagination can as yet have no conception." In order to increase in the knowledge of God, there must be dependence on Him from whom all light proceeds, James 1:6 . attention to his revealed will, John 5:39 . a watchful spirit against corrupt affections, Luke 21:34 . a humble frame of mind, Psalms 25:9 . frequent meditation, Psalms 104:34 . a persevering design for conformity to the divine image, Hosea 6:3 .
Charnock's Works, vol. 2: p. 381; Saurin's Serm. vol. 1: ser. 1; Gill's Body of Div. vol. 3: p. 12. oct.; Tillotson's Serm. ser. 113; Watts's Works, vol. 1: ser. 45; Hall's Sermon on the Advantages of Knowledge to the Lower Classes.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Knowledge of God (1)'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/k/knowledge-of-god-1.html. 1802.
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17