Andrew Fuller Friday: On the Increase of Knowledge

Whatever obscurity there is in these prophecies, there are some particulars in them which determine their application to gospel times, and perhaps to those in which we live. Such is the mystical number of “a time, times, and a half,” in verse 7, or 1,260 years; which has an invariable reference to the period of anti-Christian domination (compare verse 7 with Rev. 10:5, 6; 11:2, 3; 12:14; 13:5). That which is here predicted, therefore, must refer to the close of this period, and to the introduction of the millennial kingdom of Christ.

The characteristics of these times are, that they shall be preceded by “great troubles,” but from which Michael will “stand up” to deliver his church; that there shall be men of eminence, who shall “turn many to righteousness, and shine like the stars for ever;” and that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

Two things require attention; namely, the kind of knowledge here referred to, and the means by which it is to be increased.

As to the first, we have heard much of late years of philosophical illumination, which, by excluding the Bible, is to ameliorate the condition of man; and we have seen some of its effects. It is something remarkable, that from the time when the Bible was to be thrown aside as useless, it has been more in request, and more extensively circulated! Partial as unbelievers may be to their own kind of knowledge, they cannot expect that its prevalence should be an object of Scripture prophecy. No; the knowledge of which the Scriptures make account is that of which the fear of the Lord is the beginning. We may depend upon it that it is Bible knowledge, or the Bible would not have predicted it with approbation. It is that which “the wicked will not understand, but the wise shall understand it.” It is the knowledge of “the only true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent.” With this, however, must be included the first principles, at least, of human science, as subservient to it; inasmuch as the end includes the means which lead to it.

It is the glory of Christ’s kingdom that it is established and promoted by knowledge. It invites examination, and courts humble inquiry. Is it thus with paganism, or Mahommedanism, or apostate Judaism, or deism, or corrupt Christianity? No: these are all works of darkness, for the dispelling of which many shall run to and fro, as with the lamps of truth in their hands. . . .

A portion of this evil may always continue to be the lot of the poor in the present life: but it may be considerably diminished; and, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea, it will be so. Genuine benevolence will produce this effect. God hath so ordered things that we should be blessings to one another. One generation passeth not away till it has reared another to take its place. We might all have been called alone, and blessed, like Abraham; but as in blessing him God made him a blessing to the nations, it is in some respects the same with us. If he gives us the cup of salvation, we must hand it round. If he give us knowledge, or riches, or any other gift, we must not keep it to ourselves, but run to and fro that we may impart it.

If it be the design of God to diffuse the knowledge of himself over the earth in these last days, it might be expected that suitable means and instruments would be employed to accomplish it. When he meant to rear a tabernacle in the wilderness, he raised up Bezaleel and Aholiab, and other wise-hearted men, in whom he put wisdom and understanding. Thus we might expect men to be gifted and qualified for the work appointed them, and to be stirred up to engage in it. It might be expected, supposing a great work designed to be accomplished, that societies would be formed, some to translate the sacred Scriptures into the languages of the nations, some to give them circulation, some to scatter tracts which shall impress their leading principles, some to preach the gospel, and some to teach the rising generation to read and write.

Who can observe the movements of the present times without perceiving in them the finger of God? They may not have risen just in the order above described. The institution of Sunday schools, as they are called, for the children of the poor, took the lead about thirty years ago; since then, other institutions of various kinds have followed; but they have all risen nearly together, and all indicate a divine design. They form a whole, and, like the different parts of a machine, all work together.

Fuller, A. G. (1988). “The Increase of Knowledge,” Sermon XXXIX. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Memoirs, Sermons, Etc. (J. Belcher, Ed.; Vol. 1, pp. 417–418). Sprinkle Publications.

By |March 22nd, 2024|Categories: Blog|

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