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Principles of Public Worship: The Mind

Mystical, mysterious, and unintelligible expressions are, in many places, considered extra-spiritual. But in reality, such expressions are empty and useless. As J. C. Ryle writes, “true public worship must be an intelligent worship.”


Worshippers must know what they are doing. It is written plainly as a charge against the Samaritans, ‘Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship’ (John 4:22). It is written of the heathen Athenians, that they ignorantly worshipped an ‘unknown god.’ It is utterly false that ignorance is the mother of devotion. The poor Italian Papists, unable to read, and not knowing a chapter in the Bible, may appear extremely devout and sincere, as they kneel in crowds before the image of the Virgin Mary, or hear Latin prayers which they do not understand. But it is utterly preposterous to suppose that their worship is acceptable to God. He who made man at the beginning made him an intelligent being, with mind as well as body. A worship in which the mind takes no part is useless and unprofitable. It might suit a beast as well as a man.

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 315–316.

Posted 2017·06·16 by David Kjos
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