A Review of the Century
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on January 2, 2000
by Glenn Conjurske
Popular opinion has determined that the twentieth century has now ended.
We hardly think so, for we begin counting with one, not with zero. With
all the hubbub the world has had about zeroes, it must be obvious enough
we are now at zero, not at one. The hundredth year is of course the last
year of the century, not the first. But if I preached this next year,
I would be thought a year too late. I yield therefore to popular opinion.
For all practical purposes we are at the end of what the calendar marks
as the twentieth century. The present year is not likely to change its
course. I propose to direct your thoughts back over this century this
The first thing we may remark concerning the twentieth century is that
the world has changed more in this century than in all the preceding centuries
combined. Those things which are commonplace today were never dreamed
of a hundred years ago, nor two hundred, nor a thousand, nor two thousand,
nor five thousand. Through sixty centuries the world continued pretty
much as it was. There were no self-propelled vehicles, no electronic communications,
no electric lighting or refrigeration, no machines but such as were worked
by wind or water or muscles. Cows were milked by hand, wells dug by hand,
water pumped or drawn by hand, wood sawed by hand, hay cut and stacked
by hand. Most of the energies of the race went to procure the necessities
of life. Wind, water, and even steam had been harnessed in some small
degree, but the plain fact is, most men lacked the wealth required to
own the inventions which harnessed them. The twentieth century has changed
all that, but we cannot regard the change as anything very propitious.
This century has put speed, luxury, and ease into the hands of almost
everybody, and these things have destroyed the moral fiber of the whole
The harnessing of electricity is no doubt the single greatest change which
has come about, and next to that the invention of the self-propelled vehicle.
All this began in the preceding century, but it was left to the twentieth
century for these things to prevail on the earth, and become commonplace.
The railroad was common in the last century, but it was very limited.
Its cars were confined to its tracks, which could not go everywhere, and
most men could no more own a railroad engine then, than they now could
a space ship. By means of the railroad and the steam ship, long-distance
travel was rapid, but local travel was still as slow as it had been in
Adam's day. Automobiles existed, but most of the people in the world had
never seen one.
Coupled with rapid travel, the century also made rapid communication common,
and the effect of this has changed the face of the world entirely, and
changed it very much for the worse. Evil communications corrupt
good manners, and the close proximity of a large number of sinners
of course greatly facilitates evil communications. Cities have always
therefore been sinks of iniquity. The urban population has always been
more corrupt than the rural. This is yet true to a small extent, but the
fact is, electronic communications have turned the whole world into one
vast city. Whatever evil there is in the world is communicated in a matter
of seconds to every hamlet, every hillside, every household, by means
of the radio and the television
----and now computers. Whatever
filth is conceived in the minds of the song writers, the film makers,
or the fashion designers is immediately spewed out over the whole nation,
and the whole world.
Some years ago I read a book by John Roach Straton, called Fighting the
Devil in Modern Babylon
----modern Babylon being New York City,
where he was a pastor. The book was written in 1929. Straton was a Baptist,
and one of the prominent leaders of Fundamentalism. He was a typical Fundamentalist,
whose weapons were half spiritual and half carnal, and whose agenda was
the gospel and patriotism. He complains that in his recent travels he
had heard the silly, sensuous songs from Broadway being sung
in a little hamlet in the mountains of North Carolina, and again in a
home up in Canada. Now the culprit which brought about this state of things
is rapid communication, and particularly the radio. Radio broadcasting
began in 1920, and in the years which immediately followed the radio became
a standard household fixture throughout the United States.
This made the whole nation in effect one vast city. The morals of the
whole nation are now under the thumb of Broadway and Hollywood, and other
things as bad or worse, and the tool by which this control is exercised
is electronic communications. So long as man is what he is, electronic
communications will be evil communications, and their effect has been
to draw the whole world into a maelstrom of iniquity. This is no theory
now. I am speaking of facts.
The use of electricity and machines has also made possible automation
and mass production, and these two things have flooded the earth with
such sin as makes the sin of Sodom look like child's play. Of Sodom we
read in Ezekiel 16:49, Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister
Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and
in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and
needy. Modern technology has made this look innocent enough. Who
would be content with fulness of bread today? If you were
to guarantee fulness of bread to modern America, you would
be laughed to scorn. This would not be giving the people anything, but
taking from them most of what they have. In Sodom the Lord saw Pride,
fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness. In America today he
sees, Pride, fulness of luxuries, and abundance of idleness.
Sodom had no eight-hour day, and it was enough for a man's labor to secure
fulness of bread, but machines and automation have made it possible for
one man to produce what a thousand could in the past. There is no call
for so much bread
----who would eat it? ----and man has therefore
devoted all this excess energy to the production of luxuries, and these,
in turn, increase his idleness. Every man now lives like a king, at ease,
and immersed in pleasures and luxuries of every possible sort.
And make no mistake, this fulness of luxuries which prevails over the
developed world has removed man farther from God than ever he was
since the creation of the world. God tells us in James 2:5 that he has
chosen the poor. The Lord tells us in Luke 4:18 that he was sent to preach
the gospel to the poor, for they have an ear to hear it. If God were to
send his Son into the world today, to preach the gospel to the poor, where
could he send him? Not to America. The fact is this: modern technology,
automation, and mass production have virtually eliminated the poor. And
we care nothing for the rhetoric of the liberals in Washington. I could
multiply my income by three, maybe four, and these soft-headed liberals
would yet contend I was living in poverty. They love to speak of the millions
of children in America who are living in poverty, but this is a lie from
the devil. The god of this world knows very well that the poor are susceptible
to the gospel, and therefore he will have no poor on the earth if he can
help it. He will have the whole world living in the lap of luxury. This,
by the way, ought to teach men who is the real father of all this modern
technology, which has filled the world with such a profusion of luxuries,
and practically eliminated poverty and hardship. How hardly,
the Lord says, shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom
of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. The devil knows
this too, and nothing, therefore, could suit his purposes better than
to fill the hands of the whole world with riches, and nothing could accomplish
this better than modern technology.
The devil conceals his identity, of course, and calls all these developments
by the name of progress, but long experience has taught me that wherever
you see the term progress, you may be pretty sure the devil
is behind it. It is the progress of the prodigal son, in his journey to
the far country. It is precisely what the Bible calls the course
of this world, and it is always farther and farther from God. And
yet the old serpent is not content. He sees a whole nation with silver
spoons in their mouths, and yet cries poverty! poverty! It isn't true,
though it would be well for the human race if it were.
But I turn from modern luxury to speak again of modern speed. Rapid travel
and rapid communication have shrunk the size of the world, have made it
possible for a few powerful individuals to control the thinking of the
whole world, while they themselves are controlled by the devil. We know
that it is the devil's purpose to bring about one world government, and
one world religion, with himself at the head of both of them. Both things
were virtual impossibilities prior to the twentieth century, but by means
of modern technology
----by means of the speed of modern travel
and modern communications ----the devil has brought the whole world
together, and developed a global outlook, and a global ideology. Ecumenicalism
and internationalism are his two pet programs, by which he aims to bring
about the final triumph of all his religious and political purposes. The
watchword of ecumenicalism is love, and the watchword of internationalism
peace, and by these two pleasing words the devil deceives the whole world ----for
you may be sure that neither God nor truth have any place in either ecumenicalism
or internationalism. These two programs will lead the world directly to
the embrace of the Antichrist ----directly to the final triumph
of all the devil's sinister purposes for this world, of which he is the
But God is at work also, setting the stage for the final defeat of the
devil and his kingdom. The twentieth century has witnessed the return
of the Jews to Palestine. The Zionist movement began formally in 1897,
and the Balfour Declaration of 1917 opened Palestine to the Jews, who
have flocked to their homeland since that day. Israel became a state in
1948. After twenty centuries in which the Bible prophecies of the short-lived
triumph and final defeat of the Antichrist could not be fulfilled, the
stage is now set for the literal accomplishment of all. The only thing
lacking is the temple of the Jews in Jerusalem, and that, we may be sure,
will be erected in short order, so soon as God gives his nod for it. That
temple will be built, and will no doubt be one of the great bones of contention
in the last great war, which no peace talks or land
for peace deals will ever prevent. There will be no peace till Israel
gives up every inch of Palestine, and that Israel will never do. That
war will come, when all the nations of the earth are gathered together
against Jerusalem to battle. The growing, world-wide, devil-inspired antisemitism
brings that war ever nearer. That antisemitism will prevail, even in America.
I heard some years ago of a vote in the United Nations, on a point of
dispute between Israel and her foes, and almost all the world voted against
Israel. Only the United States voted with her. Britain abstained. That
war will come, and the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the
women ravished. But then, at the darkest moment of her history, Israel
will be delivered. The Lord himself shall go forth and fight against those
nations, and his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives.
The ungodly will be destroyed, the curse removed from the earth, and the
righteous inherit the kingdom. These prophecies could not have been fulfilled
at any previous time, when there was no Israel to fight against, but the
stage is now set for the accomplishment of all, and it is the twentieth
century which has set it.
The twentieth century has brought us to the time of the end,
prophesied by Daniel 2500 years ago, and no doubt to the very brink of
the end itself. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be
increased. (Daniel 12:4). This is God's description of the
time of the end, and it is a perfect description of the present
day. Running to and fro, by means of automobiles and airplanes, in a manner
which the wildest imaginations could scarcely have conceived a mere century
ago. Knowledge increased beyond what any man could have dreamed a century
ago. Modern technology has brought all this about, but God foresaw it
two and a half millenniums ago, and marked it as the time of the
It is high time, therefore, to wake up. It is time to work, and God knows
there is plenty to be done. The progress of evil is almost breath-taking,
while the church is so weak and languid and sleepy we can hardly tell
if she is dead or alive, and so worldly as to be of little worth if she
is alive. America used to be known as the land of revivals, but no revival
has been seen here for nearly a century and a half. The nineteenth century
was ushered in with a profusion of revivals. The twentieth century was
ushered in with mass evangelism, but this was pronounced dead by the middle
of the century. John R. Rice endeavored to revive it, but all he produced
was a movement which made a multitude of brasen shields, and put them
in the place of the shields of gold which had been lost. The twenty-first
century comes to us with the population sunk in settled apathy, and immersed
in reeking iniquity, from the President in the White House down to the
bums in the streets.
But I am not without hope. God is yet willing to bestow the longed-for
revival, and what's more, he is yet able. I yet believe that greater
is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. But then something
depends upon you. I have not the slightest doubt that the
church of the present day is the one grand hindrance to the work of the
Lord. It is the one thing that stands in the way of revival. But the case
is not hopeless. Let God find one church that is as holy and zealous as
these evil days require, and revival may come today as well as two centuries
ago. It may be that the twenty-first century will be ushered in with a
great revival. Nay, it may yet be that the twentieth century will close
with a great revival, for we have yet a year of this century in which
to pray and labor. If we make it our business to be and to do as we ought,
we will find that the power of God is just what it has always been.
I Am of Christ
by Glenn Conjurske
We are all familiar with Paul's rebuke of the divisions at Corinth. We
all know that this is properly applied in a broader way, as a rebuke to
sectarianism of all sorts. But after observing the state of things in
the churches over the years, it seems to me that the most sectarian usually
miss the point of the passage. They freely apply it to others, but find
no application to themselves.
The text says, For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren,
by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among
you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I
of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul
crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (I Cor.
1:11-13). Now it is perfectly plain here that Paul condemns not three
things, but four. He condemns those who say,
1. I am of Paul,
2. I am of Apollos,
3. I of Cephas, and
4. I of Christ.
Those who say I am of Christ are as wrong as the rest. But
this is not all, for I have observed over many years that those who say
(or think) I am of Christ are usually a good deal more wrong
than the rest. The worst sectarianism always appears in those who think
themselves the adherents of Christ. They condemn those who say, I
am of Wesley, and those who say, I am of Luther, and
those who say, I am of Calvin, while they themselves say I
am of Christ, and say it with a good deal more of sectarian pride
than any of the others whom they condemn. I suppose that in the nature
of the case this must be so. Men may say I am of Wesley, or
I am of Luther, with very little of sectarian pride, but those
who say I am of Christ are taking the very highest ground
But there seems to be some subtle enchantment on this ground, which blinds
those who stand there to the real evil of it, and to their own actual
spiritual state. It would seem so very proper to be of Christ, rather
than to follow the banner of any mere man, that they never perceive the
evil of this. Yet is it not perfectly obvious that Paul condemns those
who say I am of Christ, as much as ever he does those who
say I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos? This is
evident on the face of the text.
But what evil can there be in saying, I am of Christ? Ought
we not to be so? Ought we not to do his will, to exalt his name, to follow
his banner, to stand for his truth, rather than adhering to any man-made
system, or gathering to any man-made center?
Surely we ought. The evil lies not in Christ, but in I.
This is the language of the spoiled child, who says, I am Daddy's
girl, meaning of course that none of her brothers and sisters can
share the distinction. These folks do not say, We are of Christ,
nor We all are of Christ, so as to embrace the whole church
of God. This is the very reverse of their thoughts. They say rather, I
am of Christ, so as to exclude the rest of the saints. Here lies
the evil. If they say We are of Christ, they do not refer
to the whole church of God, but to their own sect only.
There is usually a double evil in such thinking. It assumes that we in
fact are of Christ, while it assumes that others are not
both of these assumptions are commonly false. It may be that some who
take this ground actually are of Christ, but if so, they are no more so
than the others to whom they deny the distinction. They rate themselves
too high, while they rank others too low, and in reality do no more than
take the name of Christ as a shield and a sanction for the
evils of I. They exalt some particular ordinance or system
of doctrine ----as often as not a false or distorted doctrine ----to
the place of the truth, or the place of New Testament
principles, and judge all by that doctrine, supposing that adherence
to that system of doctrine or practice is the grand qualification for
spirituality, the great sine qua non of true Christianity. Yet if they
were to judge objectively and righteously, they would generally find as
great or greater virtue and spirituality among others, who do not hold
to their distinctive system of truth, as they find among themselves.
Whatever they may have of truth and of Christianity, they have more of
pride and self-importance. It is not so much of Christ after
all, as it is of I.
Well, but to whom do I refer? Few indeed will have the hardihood to say
in so many words, I am of Christ
----not with this scripture
staring them in the face. But the fact is, Actions speak louder
than words. They may not say these very words, but they imply them
by what they do, or by the other things which they say.
Now there are two sorts who take this ground. This high plateau of pride
has two levels. On the higher level stand all who suppose that they alone
are saved. On the lower level stand those who suppose that they alone
are spiritual. Those in the former category are generally cultists, ungodly
themselves, while they suppose that they alone are saved. Those in the
second category are usually evangelical Christians, generally carnal themselves
(as Paul says all are who are sectarian in spirit), yet supposing that
they alone are spiritual, or that they alone are right with God in some
But to whom do I refer? Standing on the highest level of pride is the
Church of Christ, whose very name says in essence, I am of Christ.
These suppose themselves alone to be the true church of Christ, all others
being man-made systems, and by their doctrine of salvation by baptism,
they generally suppose that they alone are saved
----for they will
allow none to be saved but those who have been baptized for the purpose
of the remission of sins. Peter Cartwright and Sam Hadley they must consign
to hell. I spoke once with a man of this sect, who told me with the coolest
confidence that he would not give a straw for any man-made church on earth ----failing
altogether to perceive that his own church had not a whit more of claim
to be the Church of Christ than those other churches which
The Roman Catholic Church stands, of course, on essentially the same ground,
supposing itself to be the only true church, outside of which there is
no salvation. Most other cults take generally the same ground. This is,
in fact, the primary ground of their appeal, and it is in reality nothing
but an appeal to men's pride.
But there is a lower plateau of sectarian pride, which allows that others
besides themselves might be saved, but which yet arrogates true spirituality
to itself. Others may be saved, but they are not right. Those who stand
on such ground are generally guilty of the folly of judging by one issue,
and it may be an issue as insignificant as the pronunciation of Shibboleth.
But who are these?
First, certain Baptists. It has been customary with many of them to speak
of baptized churches, and to call themselves New Testament
churches, relegating all the unbaptized churches to some lower sphere.
Some of these have gone so far as to hold that the Bride of Christ consists
of Baptists only. Others hold the apostolic succession of Baptist churches
such of them, at any rate, as are not corrupted by alien baptisms ----and
regard all other denominations as so many daughters of the Church of Rome.
To prove their own pedigree they find to be hard, but they prove it by
affirming that it cannot be proved ----that it would not be true
if it could be proved, for the woman must be hidden in the
wilderness for 1260 years, where her pedigree of course cannot be traced.
All this stands directly upon the misinterpretation of both Scripture
and history, but its deeper foundation is nothing other than sectarian
pride. It judges all by one issue, and that a minor one, a mere ordinance.
But that ordinance happens to be the thing which distinguishes them from
other Christians, and it is pride which exalts this to the place of pre-eminence.
Next, certain Mennonites. These are not so systematic in their sectarianism
as certain Baptists are
----they may not have made such a doctrine
of their sectarianism ----yet if the same spirit prevails, it is
all the same thing. I have heard some of these Mennonites seriously question
whether a Fundamental Baptist church was a church of God at all. And as
the Baptists exalt to the place of pre-eminence the ordinance which distinguishes
them from other saints, so do the Mennonites also. The ordinance is different
(of course), but the sectarian pride is the same. While the Baptists speak
of baptized churches and unbaptized, man-made societies, these Mennonites
speak of veiled churches and unveiled churches ----referring
to the head coverings of the women ----and speaking of the unveiled
churches as though they are the epitome of everything that is wrong. Such
judgement is usually as much at the expense of truth as it is of charity,
for it must be apparent to those who speak so that there are veiled
churches in which the people watch television, listen to the world's
music, put their children in the public schools, and are earthly-minded
and materialistic besides. True judgement would take into account the
whole life, character, and deportment. That judgement which stands on
the slender basis of some small thing which distinguishes ourselves from
others is really only prejudgement ----or, as it is usually called,
It never occurs to these folks that the unbaptized may in fact be more
devoted and spiritual than the baptized, or that the unveiled may stand
head and shoulders above the veiled. John Wesley, George Whitefield,
J. C. Ryle, John W. Burgon, Sam Hadley
----all these unbaptized
men were spiritual giants, while many of those Baptists who despise them
are the merest pygmies. Ann Judson, Sarah Comstock, Mary Slessor, Frances
Ridley Havergal ----how were these unveiled women inferior
to their veiled sisters? Nay, they were certainly immeasurably
above the most of them, eminent in holiness, devotedness, and good works.
It is folly to judge the spiritual condition of anybody by one issue,
and much worse than folly to do so on the basis of an outward, physical
sign. There is something seriously wrong in the heart which judges so.
This is not love of the truth, but love of self. It is not holy zeal,
but unholy pride.
A third party which says in effect, I am of Christ, is the
Plymouth Brethren. Like the Church of Christ, these proclaim
their spiritual superiority in their denominational title. They are the
saints gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus, always implying that
they only are entitled to this distinction. Even the terminology of the
old Bible must be discarded here, for by saying gathered to
rather than gathered in the name of the Lord Jesus, they mean
to imply that other Christians are gathered to some other
name, as that of Wesley or Luther
----while they would scarcely
dare to affirm that any of their brethren in Christ are gathered in some
We have nothing to say against gathering in the name of the Lord Jesus.
The evil lies in the exclusive application of this distinction to themselves,
while they hold that no other Christians are so gathered. It is what Thomas
Neatby calls the appropriation by a few of that which is the privilege
of all the children of God. The entire portion in which Neatby's
words appear is worthy of quotation. After describing his happy association
with the Brethren, and his firm adherence to the truth which they held,
he proceeds, Years passed away, and amid much weakness and failure
my convictions as to these truths were strengthened and my enjoyment of
them was increased. But little by little I found that sectarianism had
pursued me where I thought myself safe from it, and that it had in some
degree taken possession of me. The devil is subtle, and we, alas! are
prone to be fleshly and to 'walk as men;' an easy prey then to the enemy
of Christ, who makes us think we are serving Him in refusing or depreciating
those that 'follow not with us' (Luke ix.49). John no doubt thought himself
jealous for his Master, whereas his fleshly zeal had the 'us' for its
object. Even after the whole truth as to 'Christ and the Church' had been
revealed, there were those who emade Christ the head of a rival school
to those of Paul and Apollos. Subtle indeed were both cases. For John
might have rightly said, 'He ought to follow Christ with us His chosen
apostles.' eAnd the school at Corinth might have said: 'Surely it is right
to be of Christ.' But the Lord's answer to John, and the Holy
Spirit's question, 'Is Christ divided?' shew that the flesh (and therefore
Satan, see Matt. xvi.23) was at work in both cases. So it was when, in
1884, I wrote a paper in which I claimed for those with whom I met for
worship that they were exclusively gathered to the name of the Lord
Jesus. What Corinthian carnality! Some two years later I publicly
confessed my grave error. But now that the canker has spread, and that
terms which contain it have received in some quarters the sanction of
habitual use, I feel that a more categorical retraction is called for,
together with an earnest protest against the appropriation by a few of
that which is the privilege of all the children of God.
Let me here give two examples of the use of this denominational
title: (1) I have seen repeatedly of late years printed copies of an outline
'letter of commendation' to be filled in as required. It runs thus: 'The
saints gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus at
---- ---- -----
commend,' etc., and is addressed to 'the saints gathered to the name of
the Lord Jesus at ---- ---- -----.
'There are, then, 'Christians gathered unto the Name of the Lord Jesus'
distinguished from Christians not so gathered. This is their denominational
title. ... They have found a name to pit against all the names of Paul,
Apollos and Cephas. They are 'Christians gathered unto the Name of the
Lord Jesus,' the Corinthian school of 'Christ.' My brethren, this is carnality.
It is in fact carnal pride, and the worst of it is, it is based upon a
mere chimera, for it is a plain fact that men may be gathered in the name
of Christ without bearing this denominational title, or belonging to those
who do bear it, and while they are ignorant of all those truths
by which the Brethren are distinguished from other Christians.
And Neatby, all unwittingly, reveals one of the major causes of all this
sectarian pride. These happy people with little pretension were
living upon truths of which I knew little or nothing. A full salvation
in a risen Christ, with whom they were one by the Holy Ghost, who dwelt
in them; the distinct and special calling of the church as the body and
bride of Christ; the present daily hope of His coming again; the sovereignly
important place of Israel in the Word and ways of God; these and many
allied truths were their daily food and their daily joy. ...
Years passed away, and amid much weakness and failure my convictions
as to these truths were strengthened and my enjoyment of them was increased.
Here lies the fundamental weakness of Brethrenism
of Brethrenism alone. The whole emphasis is upon truth and
truths ----and very largely on those particular truths
which serve to distinguish them from other Christians. The concern is
not holiness, not virtue, not good works, not love or humility, but rather
doctrine ----rather the learning and enjoyment of truths.
What result could be expected from this? Knowledge puffs up.
We do not read that virtue and holiness and love puff up, but knowledge
does, and any church or movement which is primarily occupied about doctrine
will soon enough be immersed in sectarian pride. So it happened with the
Brethren, who now suppose themselves alone to be on the true ground
of gathering ----themselves alone to be gathered to
the name of the Lord Jesus.
The Baptists and the Brethren might profitably have some loving and friendly
controversy over who has the true New Testament principles,
and the true New Testament churches, and if I am asked my
opinion, I must affirm without hesitation, the answer is
---- ---- ---- ----both
and neither. They both have New Testament churches in essence,
but neither of them have them in perfection, and surely neither of them
have the exclusive possession of this, as their claims imply. The arrogating
to ourselves of the exclusive possession of truth is generally the fruit
of a great deal of shallow misunderstanding and error. Some exalt the
indifferent and the unimportant to the place of pre-eminence. Others hold
to the letter of Scripture, oblivious, it may be, to its spirit, and censure
those who keep its spirit better than they do themselves. It is only on
such shaky foundations as these that men can appropriate to themselves
the exclusive possession of truth and spirituality, for the operations
of the Spirit of God are not to be found in one sect only. Indeed, I suppose
one of the best ways under the sun to curb this sectarian pride is simply
to read the great men of other sects, for it will soon appear that they
are as godly and spiritual ----and perhaps as enlightened ----as
those of your own. Alas, many of those who are the most given to sectarian
pride confine their reading almost wholly to those of their own persuasion.
These, then, are they which say I am of Christ, and these
are almost always more proud and sectarian than those who claim to be
of Paul or Apollos, or Calvin or Luther.
But observe, I do not impute the sectarian pride of these movements or
denominations to every individual in them. Certainly not. Though that
pride may characterize the movements as such, there may be many meek and
holy individuals among them
----yea, and whole churches too ----which
abhor that pride. On the other hand, there may be individuals who belong
to churches not generally sectarian, who themselves are as bigoted as
any Baptist successionist.
Neither do I single out these particular groups, as though none else were
guilty. I merely speak what I know and have seen. If the shoe fits others,
let them wear it also.
Neither do I advocate any indifference to the truth. (Who would impute
that to me?) But it is just self-important pride which assumes that the
particular truth which I happen to understand
truth which distinguishes me from others ----is the all-important
thing. How much worse if my truth is no more than shallow
error or distortion.
Quoth Adam Clarke,
I must confess I pay great deference to ancient adages.
----Christian Theology, by Adam Clarke. Selected from his Published
and Unpublished Writings, and Systematically Arranged: with a Life of
the Author, by Samuel Dunn. New-York: Published by T. Mason and G. Lane,
for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1840, pg. 278.
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Ancient Proverbs Explained & IlluTrated
by the Editor
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A woman that is watched is half won.
This, like many others of the very best of proverbs, is a French saying,
but it is true in every nation under the sun. The eye follows the heart,
and when a man watches a woman, this is because his heart is set on her.
She knows this instinctively
----knows that his eye is upon her
because she is pleasing to him, knows that something in her has taken
his heart ----and this in turn takes her own heart. A man's heart
is taken by what a woman is, while her heart is taken as a response to
this. The love between a man and a woman presents a most exquisite picture
of that between Christ and his bride. He loves us first, finding something
in us which delights his heart, in spite of all our evil, and We
love him because he first loved us. The hyperspiritual do their
best to reverse all this, making out that Christ loved us though there
was nothing in us worth loving, and that our love for him stands purely
upon an apprehension of his glories and perfections. We can only say,
if so, God has committed a great blunder in using human marriage as a
picture of Christ and the church. But we believe no such thing. We believe
that God designed and created marriage as it is, precisely to picture
Christ and the church, or God and his people in any dispensation.
And belonging to the human race by creation, all the emotions which attract
and unite masculine and feminine natures are quite the same in every age,
and every race and tribe of men. The following most charming account,
which well illustrates the operations which the proverb describes, comes
to us from an Indian tribe, which had but recently begun to taste of Christianity
and civilization, towards the close of the nineteenth century. The young
men, like many others of every race and clime, were very timid about approaching
a young lady for such a purpose, and the missionary tells us that a man
who delighted to take on the biggest bear in the woods with only his hunting
knife trembled in his boots at the thought of approaching a fair maiden,
and would have the missionary do his proposing for him. But if their trepidation
tied their tongues, it did not bind their eyes. Their eyes followed their
hearts, if their tongues would not, and this had its natural effect on
the hearts of the young ladies
----and some of them had their own
method of dealing with the young man's timidity. Our missionary writes:
While Mrs. Young and myself were busily engaged in our work there
came into our house one Monday morning a young maiden without ceremony,
and, demurely seating herself, began a conversation with us. Indians,
young and old, never knock at the door or ring the bell, but quietly and
noiselessly come in when they think they have any thing to say. As this
young woman had her shawl well drawn over her face and moved nervously
about on her chair, and I was engrossed in some study that needed all
my thoughts, I said to Mrs. Young, 'That girl has something she wants
to talk about; please find out what it is and let her go.' As soon as
the girl heard this she turned to me and said, very earnestly: 'Benjamin
was looking at me in church last Sunday.' I was inclined to laugh, but
of course it would never do, I thought, and so, trying to frown at her,
I said, 'Shame on you! You ought to have been looking at the preacher
and listening to the words from the great book instead of looking at the
O, but he was looking at me,' she said with great seriousness.
In this church the men are seated on one side and the women on the other,
with a broad aisle between them.
'Looking at you?' I answered. 'How could you have seen him looking
at you if you had not been looking at him?
'Not to be thwarted, she sturdily replied, 'Well, but I felt he was looking
at me, and so every time I turned and looked at him, sure enough, there
he was, looking at me.
'Feeling that her conduct was not that which ought to be encouraged,
and yet amused at her candour, I said as sternly as I could under the
circumstances, 'Well, suppose he was looking at you; what has that to
do with you, and why do you come here to tell us?
'Gathering her shawl over her face so that not even one of her black
eyes was visible, she said in a half-roguish, half-serious way, 'Why,
I have come to see you because we girls know that Benjamin had built a
house, and we had heard that he was thinking about getting married.' And
then she started for the door, and as she fled out she said, 'As he was
looking so much at me in church I thought perhaps I was the one he wanted,
and if it is so you can tell him I am quite willing.'
----Stories from Indian Wigwams and Northern Camp-Fires, by Egerton
Ryerson Young. London: Charles H. Kelly, 1894, pp. 190-191.
Burgon's Prophecy of the Coming of the
King James Only Movement
by Glenn Conjurske
One hundred years before the event, John W. Burgon predicted the coming
of the King James Only movement.
More than thirty years ago I read the book which contains that prediction,
The Last Twelve Verses of Mark. This was my real introduction to anything
more than a smattering of textual criticism
----and a better introduction
I could not have asked, by a thorough scholar of the best sort, as far
from the fancies of Hort as from the modernism of Metzger. I took no notes,
not then having sense enough to do so, nor knowing what sort of notes
to take. I have thus been hampered in my ability to make use of this book,
and have therefore determined to read it again ----a thing which
I very rarely do, as I have plenty of books which I have not read the
first time. In the case of a few of the most excellent books, however,
I have made exceptions, and read them twice. I can almost count such books
on one hand. They include Peter Cartwright's Autobiography, J. B. Finley's
Sketches of Western Methodism, Sam Hadley's Down In Water Street, and
now this by Burgon. And I hardly need ask pardon for re-reading, after
the lapse of thirty years, a book which F. H. A. Scrivener calls brilliant,
which T. R. Birks calls masterly, which F. C. Cook calls palmary, ----unanswered
and unanswerable, and which Christopher Wordsworth said would constitute
a new era in sacred criticism ----a book, too, by a man who
can move us to tears by his exquisite expressions of deep spiritual truth,
in a work of pure controversy on textual criticism, and who can move me
to weep and sob ----as he does in his last two pages ----by
a piece of that wretched invention which we commonly call blank
verse! And how vividly, if my readers will pardon a little more
of personal reflection, has the second reading of this book taken me back
to my then-tiny library, and my spacious and almost empty study, where
I read it the first time, nestled amongst the beautiful red-rock mountains
of the Western Slope in my loved and sorely missed Colorado!
In this second reading I have discovered what of course I missed the first
time. I have discovered, namely, Burgon's prediction of the coming King
James Only movement. I say of course I could not have discovered
this in my first reading, for the King James Only movement did not then
exist, though at that very time a few individuals were already laying
the foundations of it
----using bricks for stone, and slime for
mortar. But D. A. Waite was unknown, David Cloud was a boy in school,
and I knew nothing of the fact that what Burgon had predicted nearly a
hundred years earlier was soon to come to pass.
But I must keep my readers no more in suspense. Burgon's prediction is
The co-ordinate primacy, (as I must needs call it,) which, within
the last few years, has been claimed for Codex B and Codex à, threatens
to grow into a species of tyranny,
----from which I venture to predict
there will come in the end an unreasonable and unsalutary recoil.
Do I suppose that Burgon spoke this prophecy by inspiration? It may almost
appear that he did, for there is no way under heaven that he, or any man
living at that date, could have foreseen how extremely unreasonable and
unsalutary the coming recoil would be. But we claim no inspiration
for Burgon. What we do claim is wisdom. The plain fact is, he was possessed
of a depth of wisdom which renders him incomprehensible to the most of
his admirers as well as his detractors in the present day, and it was
his wisdom which foresaw the coming recoil. Unreasonable extremes always
produce reactions, and those reactions are commonly as unreasonable as
the extremes which provoke them. He saw the unreasonable extreme, and
----in the end ----the coming
All this Burgon foresaw, and all this we see, in the King James Only movement.
One thing Burgon did not foresee is that this unreasonable and unsalutary
recoil would parade itself under the name of the Dean Burgon Society!
Had he been able to foresee that, he would surely have written another
book, to disclaim any sympathy or connection with it. That book might
yet be written
----or compiled, rather ----for Burgon said
enough in the books he did write to abundantly repudiate these modern
notions. To see the writings of the Dean Burgon Society in
one column, and their refutation by Burgon in a column adjacent, would
doubtless be instructive to those whom prejudice has not rendered immune
to reason. Alas, the Dean Burgon Society actually publishes the works
of Burgon, this prediction included, but, like the Jews who copied and
cherished the Old Testament, they nothing perceive that it condemns themselves.
Blank Verse & Modern Poetry
by Glenn Conjurske
----as blank as starless
Yet sporting lines to tempt our eyes,
Parading in poetic clothes,
Yet proving naught but ill-made prose.
----of sorts ----with
cadence marking time,
But blank enough, all destitute of rhyme.
No matching sounds tie line to line,
Nor form and sense with grace combine.
The line ends here, the thought ends there,
Or runs, untethered, who knows where.
No resting-place in all the page we find,
For foot, nor eye, nor ear, nor soul, nor mind.
But modern verse would higher soar
The rhymer's wonted skill restore
Regale us with euphonic chimes,
All harmonized with pleasing rhymes
But all the versifier's arts rescind,
And cast th'essential rhythm to the wind.
Blank verse came not by accident,
But open-eyed, with full intent,
While modern verses, all inept,
Stole in while all the Muses slept.
Th'effect in both
quite the same,
And poetry is feeble, cheap, and lame.
One evil old, one evil new;
One common thread unites the two:
They ask nor thought, nor toil, nor time
This asks no rhythm, that no rhyme
Demand nor sense, nor intellect, nor skill,
But beckon mindless sloth its page to fill.
How easy now to wear the poet's name!
What prattle now commands poetic fame!
The merest child may now compose
His rhymeless verse
----or rhyming prose.
Forbidding heights may now be gained with ease,
And dunces may be poets if they please.
Unwonted peaks the lazy now invite,
And all applaud the twaddle which they write.
Poetic summits yield. With ease we scale the
Nor made, nor born
----nor apt, nor fit ----yet
all are poets still.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
on the Terms of Salvation
We suppose that few of our readers will need any introduction to Jonathan
Edwards. For those who do, he was a pastor in Northampton, Massachusetts,
over a church of the stated order (Congregationalist), where
great awakenings and the conversion of hundreds of souls took place under
his ministry. He was the first president of Princeton College, but died
of a smallpox vaccination shortly after he was chosen for the place. He
is universally esteemed as one of the greatest men of the church, and
is regarded to this day as an oracle by many Calvinists.
In his sermon on Justification By Faith Alone, Edwards says,
In one sense, Christ alone performs the condition of our justification
and salvation; in another sense, faith is the condition of justification;
in another sense, other qualifications and acts are conditions of salvation
and justification too. There seems to be a great deal of ambiguity in
such expressions as are commonly used, (which yet we are forced to use,)
such as conditions of salvation, what is required in order to salvation
or justification, the terms of the covenant, and the like; and I believe
they are understood in very different senses by different persons. And
besides, as the word condition is very often understood in the common
use of language, faith is not the only thing in us that is the condition
of justification; for by the word condition, as it is very often (and
perhaps most commonly) used, we mean any thing that may have the place
of a condition in a conditional proposition, and as such is truly connected
with the consequent, especially if the proposition holds both in the affirmative
and negative, as the condition is either affirmed or denied. If it be
that with which, or which being supposed, a thing shall be, and without
which, or it being denied, a thing shall not be, we in such a case call
it a condition of that thing. But in this sense faith is not the only
condition of salvation and justification; for there are many things that
accompany and flow from faith, with which justification shall be, and
without which it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in scripture
in conditional propositions with justification and salvation, in multitudes
of places; such are love to God, and love to our brethren, forgiving men
their trespasses, and many other good qualifications and acts. And there
are many other things besides faith, which are directly proposed to us,
to be pursued or performed by us, in order to eternal life, which if they
are done, or obtained, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, or
not obtained, we shall surely perish.
I only beg to remind the reader that the above was written explicitly
on Justification by Faith Alone, and in exposition of the
text, To him that worketh not, but believeth, &c. It is
one more example of a man endeavoring to explain the Lutheran terminology
faith alone, but who is obliged in fact to explain it away
in order to maintain the plain doctrines of the Bible. Such attempted
explanations are frequent, from Luther and Melancthon on down. Alas, in
our own antinomian day another plan prevails, and the Bible is explained
away, in order to maintain the Lutheran terminology.
In another sermon, explicitly on The Manner in which the Salvation
of the Soul is to be Sought, Edwards writes:
I.There is a work or business which must be undertaken and accomplished
by men, if they would be saved.
II.This business is a great undertaking.
III.Men should be willing to enter upon and go through this undertaking,
though it be great, seeing it is for their own salvation.
I. PROP. There is a work or business which men must enter upon and
accomplish, in order to their salvation.
----Men have no reason
to expect to be saved in idleness, or to go to heaven in a way of doing
nothing. No; in order to it, there is a great work, which must be not
only begun, but finished. I shall speak upon this proposition, in answer
to two inquiries.
INQ. I. What is this work or business which must be undertaken and
accomplished, in order to the salvation of men.
ANS. It is the work of seeking salvation in a way of constant observance
of all the duty to which God directs us in his word. If we would be saved,
we must seek salvation. For, although men do not obtain heaven of themselves,
yet they do not go thither accidentally, or without any intention or endeavours
of their own. God, in his word, hath directed men to seek their salvation,
as they would hope to obtain it. There is a race that is set before them,
which they must run, and in that race come off victors, in order to their
winning the prize.
The Scriptures have told us what particular duties must be performed
by us in order to our salvation. It is not sufficient that men seek their
salvation in the observance of some of those duties, but they must be
observed universally. The work we have to do is not an obedience only
to some, but to all the commands of God; a compliance with every institution
of worship; a diligent use of all the appointed means of grace; a doing
of all duty towards God and towards man. It is not sufficient that men
have some respect to all the commands of God, and that they may be said
to seek their salvation in some sort of observance of all the commands;
but they must be devoted to it. They must not make this a business by
the bye, or a thing in which they are negligent and careless, or which
they do with a slack hand; but it must be their great business, being
attended to as their great concern. They must not only seek, but strive;
they must do what their hand findeth to do with their might, as men thoroughly
engaged in their minds, and influenced and set forward by great desire
and strong resolution. They must act as those that see so much of the
importance of religion above all other things, that every thing else must
be as an occasional affair, and nothing must stand in competition with
It is not only necessary that men should seem to be very much engaged,
and appear as if they were devoted to their duty for a little while; but
there must be a constant devotedness, in a persevering way, as Noah was
to the business of building the ark, going on with that great, difficult,
and expensive affair, till it was finished, and till the flood came.
must not only be diligent in the use of the means of grace, and be anxiously
engaged to escape eternal ruin, till they obtain hope and comfort: but
afterwards they must persevere in the duties of religion, till the flood
come, the flood of death. ----Not only must the faculties, strength,
and possessions of men be devoted to this work, but also their time and
their lives; they must give up their whole lives to it, even to the very
day when God causes the storms and floods to come. This is the work or
business which men have to do in order to their salvation.
INQ. 2. Why is it needful that men should undertake to go through
such a work in order to their salvation?
ANS. 1. Not to merit salvation, or to recommend them to the saving
mercy of God. Men are not saved on the account of any work of theirs,
and yet they are not saved without works. If we merely consider what it
is for which, or on the account of which men are saved, no work at all
in men is necessary to their salvation. In this respect they are saved
wholly without any work of theirs, Tit. iii.5, 'Not by works of righteousness
which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing
of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.'
----We must indeed
be saved on the account of works; but not our own. It is on account of
the works which Christ hath done for us. Works are the fixed price of
eternal life; it is fixed by an eternal, unalterable rule of righteousness.
But since the fall, there is no hope of our doing these works, without
salvation offered freely, without money and without price. ----But
2.Though it be not needful that we do anything to merit salvation,
which Christ hath fully merited for all who believe in him; yet God, for
wise and holy ends, hath appointed, that we should come to final salvation
in no other way, but that of good works done by us.
It is a busines of great labour and care. There are many commands
to be obeyed, many duties to be done, duties to God, duties to our neighbour,
and duties to ourselves.
Men should be willing to engage in and go through this business,
however great and difficult it may seem to them, seeing it is for their
The use I would make of this doctrine, is to exhort all to undertake
and go through this great work, which they have to do in order to their
salvation, and this, let the work seem ever so great and difficult.
Edwards says a good deal more in the same vein, but I aim to quote briefly.
The reader will find the whole sermon in Edwards' Works, being the first
in the series of Twenty Sermons on Various Subjects. Those
who read the whole of this, or even the brief extracts which I have given,
will plainly see how far Edwards was from the antinomian gospel which
is commonly preached today
----yet in this he was nothing different
from a great host of the greatest men of God in history.
Spirituality and Hyperspirituality
by Glenn Conjurske
The term hyperspirituality has long been employed as a sneer,
in the mouths of the unspiritual
----Neo-evangelicals in particular ----directed
against true spirituality. We suppose that this is generally the fruit
of an uneasy conscience, for the ways and principles of the spiritual
always condemn the ways of the carnal, and it is much easier for men to
cast reproaches upon the spiritual than it is to change their own ways.
These reproaches are in fact no more than an unworthy mode of self-justification,
the faulty defending himself before he is accused, for the ways of the
spiritual are a standing accusation against the ways of the carnal, though
never a word is spoken.
I, however, have taken up this term and given it more honorable employment.
One reader suggests that I may have been the first to do so. Be that as
it may, the fact is, I felt a simple necessity for such a term, to designate
a very common doctrinal and practical position. If I have been the first
to use the term in this way, this is perhaps because I have been the first
in our day to systematically oppose hyperspiritual doctrines and practices
some in the past have loosely classified such errors as enthusiasm.
Many others have opposed its various elements, and opposed them cogently,
without recognizing them as the components of a broader system. They saw
the various streams, but not the common spring from whence they flowed.
This, perhaps, because hyperspiritual tendencies are so widespread that
there are few among the spiritual who are not more or less tinctured with
Understand, this term designates a position which its adherents are not
likely to avow. Those who are hyperspiritual have no notion in the world
that they are so. And these doctrines have a very broad appeal to the
spiritual, precisely because they are hyperspiritual. They have always
an appearance of a high degree of spirituality. They appear to be the
ultimate of piety. They exalt the spiritual at the expense of the natural,
and submerge the human in the divine. They always exalt the Creator, though
it be at the expense of his creation. They always exalt the Giver, though
it be at the expense of his gifts. Such notions are very taking, therefore,
with those who wish to cast off carnality, and live to God. They are very
popular, therefore, among the best sort of people, and it may be that
for this cause there are few who are able to put their finger upon the
common source from whence they arise.
In some matters I was certainly hyperspiritual myself a quarter of a century
ago. But as I began to apprehend my error on one point and another, I
began also to perceive the similarity of those errors one to another
to perceive also their likeness to the errors of others ----and
so learned in time that all of these kindred errors in fact were one.
They all flow from the same corrupt spring. That spring is hyperspirituality.
Discovering that spring, I must needs have a term by which to designate
it, and I found one at hand, perfectly suited, and scarcely to be improved
upon. The fact that that term has long been used as a reproach against
true spirituality does not concern me. Neither does it concern me that
it will doubtless continue to be so used, for the fact is, if the term
had been used first in an honorable manner, to designate a spirituality
higher than the Bible prescribes or allows, the carnal would have been
quick to take up the label, and use it as a reproach against any spirituality
higher than their own. Many terms now in honorable use were first used
as epithets of reproach against the spiritual. Such are Puritan and Methodist,
yet the spiritual have not hesitated to take up these reproachful titles,
and promote them to a higher occupation. So I have done also with hyperspiritual,
nor can I repent of it. Once understand the thing, and the term is a simple
But some of my readers, in either speaking or writing to me, have so used
the term as plainly to indicate that they have no notion as to what it
means. Some have applied it to what I can only regard as the direct opposite
of hyperspirituality. And I strongly suspect they do not understand the
term because they do not understand the thing
also that they do not understand the thing precisely because they are
hyperspiritual themselves. I have written at length on this theme before,
besides occasional references here and there, and it seems that some have
thence taken up the term, without any real understanding of the thing.
It behooves me, therefore, to define as plainly as I can the only thing
which the term hyperspiritual can mean.
As the word itself indicates, it refers to being too spiritual, or to
being righteous overmuch. It is carrying spiritual things
too far, like the tree which was so straight it leaned a little the other
way, as the Indian used to say. Unfortunately, there are a good many who
are so straight they lean a good deal the other way, and this is no light
matter. It is in fact thinking to be more spiritual than God is, and this
is neither innocent nor harmless. It is generally the fruit of pride,
and often directly in the teeth of Holy Scripture.
But many of my readers, I am sure, will thank me to come down from the
abstract to the concrete. I therefore offer them as plain examples of
hyperspirituality, Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain
from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of
them which believe and know the truth. (I Tim. 4:3). This plainly
teaches us that nature, as God has created it, has not been superseded
by anything spiritual. It exists for us to receive with thanksgiving,
and to use and enjoy, as much as ever it did for Adam. This is one of
the things which hyperspirituality generally thinks to deny. But plainly,
to refuse what God has given, on the ground that it is carnal, or unfit
for the spiritual, is to claim a spirituality more spiritual than God's.
This is hyperspiritual. To refuse the gift is to reproach the Giver. To
disown the creature is to impugn the Creator. And this, though it generally
comes with a great appearance of spirituality, is usually no more than
consummate pride, which supposes its own wisdom superior to that of Almighty
God, or its own spiritual state so advanced that it has no need of those
things which God has given for the common good of the whole human race.
It exalts the spiritual at the expense of the natural, as though God were
not the author of both, and submerges the human in the divine, as though
we could impugn the creature without reproaching the Creator.
That man is fallen and corrupt we know very well, but his fall did not
obliterate the similitude of God in him. That remains, and that is as
much the work of God as the starry heavens. But hyperspirituality fails
to distinguish between the works of God and the works of the devil in
the human constitution, and therefore condemns them both together. To
forbid to marry
----or to abstain from marriage ----or to
abstain from the physical delights of marriage ----on the ground
that this is some way carnal, or some way beneath spirituality, is in
fact to reproach the God who created marriage, and so wrought it into
the very constitution of human nature that he must say It is not
good for man to be alone, and this while man was pure from all taint
of sin. When Adam walked with God in the cool of the day,
he was both sinless and married. How then can there be any evil in marriage?
Some who allow the physical delights of marriage condemn the emotional
delights of courtship, replacing everything natural with some kind of
spiritual love, and resolving courtship into a mere spiritual discernment
of the will of God ----to which love is a decided hindrance.
But it is the way of hyperspirituality to despise the natural, and think
to replace it with the purely spiritual. It thinks to replace the human
with the divine. It requires no fellowship, no friendship, no love, but
that of God. It has advanced, by all means, high above Adam's mere state
of innocence, for it was not good for Adam to be alone, though he were
alone with God, and though all his passions were under perfect control,
untainted by the first breath of sin. But we absolutely deny that God
has ever advanced any man in the flesh above the state of Adam in Paradise.
Marriage remains honorable in all, as Paul says, and necessary
for most, as he plainly teaches also.
Hyperspirituality, then, is plainly seen to stand against both Scripture
and nature, both of which come to us from God.
But in speaking of those who forbid to marry, we have described one of
the most extreme and glaring manifestations of hyperspirituality, the
more readily to convey the principle to those who may be hyperspiritual
themselves. There are many lesser forms, not so flagrant in themselves,
and therefore not so easily recognized by those who have but a vague understanding
of the matter, or who are inclined in that direction themselves. Of some
of these we intend to speak further along.
But here we must face a plain fact. True spirituality exalts the spiritual
over the natural, perhaps in the same manner that hyperspirituality does,
but not in the same degree. This is precisely why we call hyperspirituality
what we call it. It is taking things too far. It is an unwarranted extreme
much, if you will, of a good thing.
True spirituality, for example, prescribes that we Labour not for
the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting
life. This is the way of true spirituality, and always will be.
It lays not up for itself treasures upon the earth, but provides for itself
bags which wax not old, a treasure in heaven that passeth not away. This
is the general and characteristic conduct of true spirituality. But hyperspirituality
will exalt the general to the place of the absolute, and will labor not
at all for the meat that perisheth
----or, in a milder form, labor
not enough for the meat that perisheth ----and so come into direct
collision with both nature and Scripture. Paul calls this (II Thes. 3:11),
walking disorderly, working not at all, with the result that
they are busybodies, thus demonstrating what a short step
it is from hyperspirituality to actual carnality ----if it is any
step at all.
Again, true spirituality recommends a single life, in order to wait upon
the Lord without distraction. Yet it maintains all the while that marriage
is honourable in all
----and necessary for most. While it
holds that he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better,
it holds inviolate also that he that giveth her in marriage doeth
well. Hyperspirituality is too shallow to apprehend this, and must
slight and contemn ----or denounce and condemn ----what God
Where spirituality prescribes temperance, hyperspirituality prescribes
----and where wine is in question has gone so far as
to call abstinence by the name of temperance.
Anything which sets aside the physical, the natural, or the human, naturally
appeals to the hyperspiritual, yet true spirituality also sets aside the
natural in a measure. Thus while true spirituality prescribes fasting,
on proper occasions, for proper ends, hyperspirituality must fast
twice in the week, merely for the sake of fasting, or so that it
may say, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.
And here we see also the common connection between hyperspirituality and
To sum up the whole. On the one side, She that liveth in pleasure
is dead while she liveth, (I Tim. 5:6), yet on the other side (as
the same apostle tells us in the same epistle), God giveth us richly
all things to enjoy. (I Tim. 6:17). Here are both sides of the question,
both equally true, and by facing both of them men may learn their actual
spiritual condition. True spirituality embraces both of these apostolic
sayings, and heartily approves them both. The carnal, on the other hand,
are apt to be very uneasy with the statement that she that liveth
in pleasure is dead while she liveth, while the hyperspiritual will
be equally uneasy with the fact that God giveth us richly all things
to enjoy. Carnality wallows in pleasures. Hyperspirituality declines
to enjoy the things which God richly gives. True spirituality finds the
middle path of truth, and enjoys the good things which God richly gives
and drink, love, courtship, and marriage, birds and flowers, meadows and
mountains, shade and sunshine, sunsets and moonlight, music and laughter ----yet
it uses all these things in moderation, with a becoming self-denial, thanking
God for all, yet subjecting all to the higher purposes of the spiritual
and the eternal. Even Adam in Paradise could not spend the live-long day
kissing Eve, for God had given him work to do ----and we have a
higher work than Adam's. Yet Adam could spend every waking minute sharing
with Eve, and praising God for her existence. If God was not too spiritual
to create these pleasures, and to give them to man, far be it from his
creatures to be too spiritual to enjoy them. This is in fact to condemn
the Creator, and claim a wisdom or a spirituality higher than his. This
Carnality enjoys the illegitimate pleasures, which God forbids, and unduly
indulges in the legitimate, which God gives. Hyperspirituality declines
to enjoy the legitimate pleasures which God has created
them only at the expense of a bad conscience. Spirituality stands in the
middle ----and must usually endure reproaches from both sides, being
called hyperspiritual by the carnal, and carnal by the hyperspiritual.
Yet the middle ground of spirituality is the ground of faith, and of happiness
too. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which
he alloweth. (Rom. 14:22). Carnality must rightfully condemn itself
for what it wrongfully allows. Hyperspirituality cannot rightfully allow
what it wrongfully condemns. Faith both allows what God creates and gives,
and condemns not itself in the use of it. Here is happiness, and this
is true spirituality.
And here I must mention what I believe to be one of the primary reasons
for the popular appeal of hyperspirituality. Shallow men are much given
to easy ways, and hyperspirituality is both shallow and easy. It requires
no wisdom, no thought, no hard wrestling with difficult questions. Where
the spiritual allows some pleasure, he must yet enjoy it with self-denial
and moderation. He must determine how much he may allow, on what occasions,
and for what purposes. These things he must determine by spiritual principles,
by wisdom, by exercise of heart and conscience, by examination of motives,
by searching into the effects of such indulgences upon his own soul, and
upon his example and testimony to others. All this the hyperspiritual
can pass by. They can settle all such questions with one stroke. Touch
not, taste not, handle not. This is easy, much too easy, while on
the other side it plunges them into something which is much too hard.
The self-denial in such a position must be anything but easy, but this
is will-worship. It is harder than anything God requires of
them, and in some cases harder than they can bear, and is in general a
great flowing fountain of pride, while at the same time it fosters hard
thoughts of God, whom it cannot help but regard as a hard master, who
has created within us various desires and capacities, and surrounded us
with the very things which would satisfy those desires, but required us
to abstain from them.
Hyperspirituality would make angels of men
----slighting and setting
aside all those desires and capacities which distinguish men from angels ----but
it finds them to be but men still. Nor will it receive any help from God
in the matter, and while attempting to make angels of men, it may make
very devils instead, as the whole monastic system abundantly testifies.
God prescribes natural means, and requires men to use them. God says,
for example, To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife,
and let every woman have her own husband. Those who refuse this
need not expect any supernatural grace to keep them from fornication,
or from burning. Men may one day be equal unto the angels,
and so marry no more, but that will not be till heaven and earth shall
pass away. To endeavor to bring such a spiritual state down to this earth
here and now, we must fight continually against both Scripture and nature,
or, to speak the plain truth, we must fight against God.
by Glenn Conjurske
We hear a good deal about worship teams in these days. I
have never seen or heard one, but I have inquired of those who have, and
to the best of my understanding these are small groups of people who lead
the congregational singing in the churches, usually with microphones and
amplifiers, and usually singing modern music, not from the hymn book.
There were no call for such a thing if the old hymns were used, which
are all printed in the hymn books, and it would seem that one of the primary
purposes of these worship teams is to introduce a new kind of music, and
so to cast out the old hymns. They are without doubt a modern thing, and
not modern merely in date, but in spirit and form also. And as is usual
with most everything modern, they are far astray from the way of the Lord.
In the first place, they proceed upon a fundamentally false notion of
what worship is. No one who knows anything of the Scriptures could dream
of wanting such a thing as a worship team. The first mention
of worship in the Bible is in Genesis 22:5. When Abraham is about to ascend
the mountain to sacrifice his son, he says to his servants, I and
the lad will go yonder and worship. 'Tis hard to tell what Abraham
might have done with a worship team on such an occasion.
Again, when Abraham's servant went in search of a bride for Isaac, and
met Rebekah at the well, he bowed down his head and worshipped the
Lord. (Gen. 24:26). We wonder what use he could have had for a worship
When Job had received blow after blow in the reports of the destruction
of all that he had, Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved
his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. (Job 1:20).
Yet it seems to me that to have thrust a worship team upon
him would have been the very height of impertinence.
When Joshua met the captain of the Lord's host, he fell on his face
to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto
his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose
thy shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy.
And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:14-15). But what did Joshua want with
a worship team? It seems to me that nearly everything about
these worship teams stands in stark contrast to the worship of Joshua
on this occasion, as well as to Bible worship in general. Abraham's servant
bowed down his head and worshipped. Job fell down upon
the ground and worshipped. Joshua fell on his face to the
earth and worshipped, and put off his shoes too. When Israel in
Egypt heard that the Lord had sent them deliverance, then they bowed
their heads and worshipped. (Ex. 4:31). When Moses made known the
passover to Israel, the people bowed the head and worshipped.
(Ex. 12:27). Has anyone ever seen a worship team on its face
before the Lord, putting off its shoes for the holy ground?
The very idea of a worship team proceeds upon a false notion of what worship
is. From the few examples which we have quoted above it will plainly appear
that worship is often an individual thing. It will appear too that it
is often a very solemn thing. It will appear in the third place that it
has little to do with singing. Was Job singing when he worshipped the
Lord? Was Joshua singing when he fell on his face and put off his shoes
before the captain of the Lord's host? Was Abraham singing when he ascended
the mount to offer up his son? We would not deny that singing is sometimes
part of worship, but we utterly deny that the light and frivolous choruses
which are led by these worship teams are any way suited to it.
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own position is to be learned from his own writings.