Our Reformers, working on the model of the Bible, laboured to set truth before the nations. They did not despise ‘head knowledge.’ They were careful that head knowledge should be true knowledge; and, in so far as it was so, they urged its widest propagation; undeterred by the thought which acts as a drag or damper on some, ‘What is the use of head knowledge without heart knowledge?’ They had confidence in truth, because it was of God, and because it was the representative of Him who is the wisdom and the truth of God. They felt that truth could be trusted to do its own work, and to fulfill its heavenly mission among the sons of men; and so they launched it forth as seamen do the lifeboat; they spread it far and wide, as husbandmen do the precious seed, believing in its vitality, and its power to spring up and cover the broad fields of earth with its summer green and autumn gold. They had faith in the truth, because they had faith in the Bible, and they had faith in the Bible because they had faith in God, and in His almighty, all-quickening Spirit.
Our Reformers, following Scripture, abhorred error. They regarded it as sin, as in itself evil, and as the root of almost every evil. They loved truth, upheld it, sought to spread it. They eschewed error as poison; they prized truth as medicine, containing in it the world’s true health. They knew that men might have it and yet not use it, that they might abuse it, that they might ‘hold it in unrighteousness;’ but they loved it still, and refused to believe that any untruth, however beautiful, however well argued or well adorned, however recommended by authority, or antiquity, or genius, could be available for the revivification of collapsed prostrate Europe, for expelling the poison of ages from the veins of humanity, for bracing the constitution of the race, even apart from the great purpose of saving the lost, of gathering in the chosen of the Father, the purchased of the Son.
Are we not often traitors to the truth under the pretext of cautioning men against ‘head knowledge?’ In decrying the later, do we not often disparage the former? Are we not cowards in our propagation of the truth? Are we not but half in earnest, playing with the sword, not wielding it; or wielding it with a timid unbelieving arm, as those who have no confidence in its edge and power?
Truth is one, not many; truth is sure, not doubtful. There is but one true creed, one Gospel, one revelation. There is but one faith that saves and blesses. ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all’ (Eph 4:4-6).
Let us honor the truth as God has done, as His apostles did, as our Reformers did. Let us fearlessly wield it. Let us give it fair play and full swing everywhere. It is ‘quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword’ (Heb 4:12). It is a fire, melting the iron. It is a hammer, breaking the rock in pieces.
Truth is not the feeble thing that men often think they can afford to disparage. Truth is power; let it be treated and trusted as such. We need not discuss the question as to the frequent divorcement of head and heart, in the matter of knowledge. Let us beware of undervaluing either; but still more let us beware of that unscriptural, unphilosophical sentimentalism which affirms that the heart may be all right when the head is all wrong.
Horatius Bonar, Catechisms of the Scottish Reformation. 1808-1889