Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

P. J. Spener, fully Philipp Jakob Spener

German Theologian and voluminous Writer, called "the father of Pietism"

"All is pure hypocrisy, which does not come from the heart, and so accustom the people to cultivate love to God and to their neighbors and to act from it as a motive."

"The Holy Spirit is at all time with, by and in the Word of God to bring men to illumination, conversion and the new birth."

"For a man who has received an honor beyond his deserving should not use its greatness as a cloak for his faults. He ought rather to use God?s abundant favor towards him as a stronger incentive to improvement? for we must not misuse the honors bestowed on us by God to offend God, but to please him the more."

"For the Word does not receive its divine power from the person of the one who proclaims it but has this power in itself"

"If there is any prospect of a union of most of the confessions among Christians, the primary way of achieving it, and the one that God would bless most, would perhaps be this, that we do not stake everything on argumentation... [For] I adhere to the splendidly demonstrated assertion..., 'Purity of Doctrine and of the Word of God is maintained not only by disputation and writing many books but also by true repentance and holiness of life..."

"If God does not give you the pleasure of seeing the result of your work quickly, perhaps he intends to hide it from you, lest you become too proud of it."

"If God has given us the gifts which are needful for it and we find the opportunity to hope to win the erring, we should be glad to do what we can to point out, with a modest but form presentation of the truth we profess, how this is based on the simplicity of Christ's teaching. At the same time we should indicate decently but forcefully how their errors conflict with the Word of God and what dangers they carry in their wake. All of this should be done in such a way that those with whom we deal can see for themselves that everything is done out of heartfelt love toward them, without carnal and unseemly feelings, and that if we ever indulge in excessive vehemence this occurs out of pure zeal for the glory of God. Especially should we beware of invectives and personal insinuations, which at once tear down all the good we have in mind to build."

"From all this it becomes apparent that disputing is not enough either to maintain the truth among ourselves or to impart it to the erring. The holy love of God is necessary."

"If we consult the Holy Scriptures we can have no doubt that God promised his church here on earth a better state than this"

"It will happen (God have mercy!) that although each of us poor preachers will teach and cry out, ?Repent and be converted,? everybody will do just as he pleases? Governing authorities do nothing about discipline, and their subjects do not wat it. Some faithful preachers wish to restore it, but this is not possible amid such confused and disorderly living."

"If we have to suffer somewhat at the hands of people who disagree with us, let us take it as a reassuring sign that our work is pleasing to the Lord, inasmuch as he allows it to be put to such a test, and meanwhile let us not grow weary on this account and let up in our zeal."

"If we, to whom God restored the bright light of the gospel?fail to do our duty, God will get help elsewhere and preserve his honor. We must fear, however, that he will punish us grievously for our negligence by depriving us of this light and going to others with it, especially because we have already deserved such punishment a thousand times on account of our great ingratitude."

"It is not to be denied that some preachers ought to protest more diligently against such security and false notions in order to open the eyes of the people, for many could thus be awakened out of their sleep and snatched from destruction."

"Not only should we know what is true in order to follow it, but we should also know what is false in order to oppose it."

"Seeds are there, and you may think they are unproductive, but do your part in watering them, and ears will surely sprout and in time become ripe."

"Let us not abandon all hope before we have set our hands to the task. Let us not lay down our rod and staff if we do not have the desired success at once. What is impossible for men remains possible for God. Eventually God's hour must come, if only we wait for it."

"The Word of God remains the seed from which all that is good in us must grow."

"To be sure, as others have acquired knowledge in their fields of study, so these preachers, with their own human efforts and without the working of the Holy Spirit, have learned something of the letter of the Scriptures, have comprehended and assented to true doctrine, and have even known how to preach it to others, but they are altogether unacquainted with the true, heavenly light and the life of faith."

"The study of theology should be carried on not by the strife of disputations but rather by the practice of piety"

"To this should be added, in the fourth place, a practice of heartfelt love toward all unbelievers and heretics. While we should indicate to them that we take no pleasure in their unbelief or false belief or the practice and propagation of these, but rather are vigorously opposed to them, yet in other things which pertain to human life we should demonstrate that we consider these people to be our neighbors... To insult or wrong an unbeliever or heretic on account of his religion would be not only a carnal zeal but also a zeal that is calculated to hinder his conversion. ..."

"We must give them a good example and take the greatest pains not to offend them in any way, for this would give them a bad impression of our true teaching and hence would make their conversion more difficult."

"We must beware how we conduct ourselves in religious controversies with unbelievers and heretics. We must first take pains to strengthen and confirm ourselves, our friends, and other fellow believers in the known truth and to protect them with great care from every kind of seduction. Then we must remind ourselves of our duty toward the erring."

"We owe it to the erring, first of all, to pray earnestly that the good God may enlighten them with the same light with which he blessed us, may lead them to the truth, [or] may prepare their hearts for it..."

"Where the Word of God is neglected, real and true religion collapses."