The Folly of Philosophy

Job 11:7,8; Acts 17:18
       Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?
       Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Others some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The wise men of the world, especially the Greek philosophers, who possessed every advantage that human nature could have, independently of a Divine revelation, and who had cultivated their minds to the uttermost, could never, by their learning, wisdom, and industry, find out God; nor had the most refined philosophers among them just and correct views of the Divine nature, nor of that in which human happiness consists. The work of Lucretius, De Natura Rerum, and the work of Cicero, De Natura Deorum, are incontestable proofs of this. Even the writings of Plato and Aristotle have contributed little to remove the veil which clouded the understanding of men. No wisdom but that which came from God could ever penetrate and illuminate the human mind.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Everything that man can comprehend either by the natural powers of his understanding, or as deriving aid from practice, from learning, or from a knowledge of the arts―all this is of no avail for acquiring spiritual wisdom…Wisdom is not the growth of human genius. It must be sought from above.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): The philosopher, with all his knowledge, knows not God by his philosophy. He knows not, then, the correct and enlightened views of the man of God on the highest of all sciences. The philosopher, not appreciating the value of the soul, nor the amount of the unspeakable glory of the heavenly inheritance, as well as of the danger of overlooking condemnation, sees not the wisdom of the conduct of the man of God. He has no way to judge of him but by himself; and, therefore, as he himself is wise, the other must be a fool.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The wretched philosophy of the Stoics was not known in Job’s time, which not only makes suicide lawful, but commends it as an heroic action.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): No man must let the tenant out of the tenement till God the landlord call for it. 

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Courage was the supreme virtue of the Greek pagan philosophers; it was the very essence of Stoicism. And that was why you see they regarded meekness―the meekness taught by Christian faith, as weakness. There was no word for meekness in Greek pagan philosophy; they regarded that as very weak; courage, and strength, and power―those were the things they believed in. That is why Paul tells us that the preaching of the cross was to the Greeks was foolishness. That that should be the Saviour? Someone who was crucified in weakness?―that’s the way? Ah! that was to them nonsense and rubbish; they had no belief in meekness and humility. No, no! it was courage, and power, and heroism, and the like.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He who has faith is better than the Stoic. The Stoical philosopher bore it, because he believed it must be; the Christian bears it because he believes it is working for his good…It was the sneer of an old Greek philosopher against the Christians his day: “Faith,” he said, “is your only wisdom.” Yes, and we rejoice in the same wisdom now—faith; for the moment we receive faith we are saved. It is the one essential grace;—“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The resurrection of the body in the last day is an article of faith, to the firm belief of which reason speaketh not sufficiently, and therefore it was denied by many philosophers and worldly wise men.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Where reason ends, faith begins.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Human reason always tends to a wrong conclusion upon spiritual things.

BLAISE PASCAL (1623-1661): Philosophy seeks truth, Theology finds it, but Religion possesses it. Human things must be known to be loved, but divine things must be loved to be known.

ALEXANDER CARSON: The Christian is the true philosopher. He not only has knowledge of the most sublime of all the sciences, of which the wise men of this world are as destitute as the wild ass of the wilderness, but he has that discernment of human views and character which human wisdom never has attained. The Christian knows the philosopher better than the philosopher knows himself…The philosopher gives an account of himself and of others, and of his own notions and views, which every Christian can detect as delusive and unreal.

C. H. SPURGEON: A philosopher once wrote a book to prove that there is no such thing as matter, and a certain reader believed it till he chanced to knock his head against the bedpost, and then he abandoned the theory.

DANIEL DE SUPERVILLE (1657-1728): The politicians, the philosophers, the sages of the world, are but quacks. What have they done towards the cure of the human heart?

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): No stone, nor steel, nor diamond is so hard as the impenitent heart of man.

C. H. SPURGEON: That is the condition of every unbeliever at this time: “having no hope, and without God in the world,” Ephesians 2:12. [The Scottish Philosopher] David Hume once made the remark that he knew many Christians who were afraid to die, but he was not. The Christian man, to whom he said this, pointed to an ox grazing in the meadow, and said, “You have reached about as high as that bullock has, for he also is not afraid to die; but pray, Mr. Hume,” enquired the good man, “have you any hope after death?” At that question, the philosopher shook his head, for he knew nothing of such a hope as that; the utmost point he could reach was, by indifference, to raise himself above fear. “Having no hope,” is a true description of every man who has no faith in our crucified and risen Saviour.

ALEXANDER CARSON: The pleasure of knowledge, and the glory of fame are, with the philosopher, the very essence of the happiness of the third heavens.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): There is many a learned head in hell.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): “O poor Aristotle,” said one, “thou are praised where thou art not, and burned where thou art!” He meant it was poor comfort to that great heathen philosopher to be admired by men of learning, that have kept up his fame from generation to generation, if he all the while be miserable in the other world.

BLAISE PASCAL: To have no time for philosophy is to be a true philosopher.


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