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Vol. 9, No. 2
Feb., 2000

Cain and Abel and Their Offerings

by Glenn Conjurske

Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, stamped upon the movement which he brought forth a strong tendency to antinomianism. Luther himself was not nearly so antinomian as most of Fundamentalism and Brethrenism are today, but his doctrines stamped the whole of Protestantism with inveterate tendencies in that direction, and wherever a one-sided emphasis upon grace prevails (as it certainly does in Fundamentalism and Brethrenism) those antinomian tendencies strongly assert themselves. Those tendencies blind many good men to the real content of Scripture. They read the text as others do, but fail to see what is there. What the text actually says gives way in their minds to their preconceived notions of what it ought to say, in order that it may square with their own theology.

Concerning Cain and Abel, and their offerings, the Bible says the following:

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” (Gen. 4:3-5).

This would seem clear enough, but the antinomian atmosphere which has long prevailed in the church has put the text as it were into the fog, and men fail to see what it actually contains, while they imagine they see other things, which are not there at all. Thus the good C. H. Mackintosh writes on this scripture,

“...Abel was not distinguished from his brother Cain by anything natural. The distinction between them was not grounded upon aught in their nature or circumstances, for, as to these, 'there was no difference.' What, therefore, made the vast difference? The answer is as simple as the gospel of the grace of God can make it. The difference was not in themselves, in their nature or circumstances; it lay entirely in their sacrifices.”

But this, we are bold to say, is as false as it is clear. It is a mixture of obvious truth and subtle error. It gives the lie to the text itself. 'Tis true enough that the difference between Cain and Abel “was not grounded upon aught in their nature or circumstances,” but it is false that there was therefore no difference between them. There was certainly a spiritual difference, a difference in character, as much as there is between light and darkness, and this difference was most certainly “in themselves.” Abel was righteous, and Cain was wicked. “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” (I John 3:12). This was a difference in themselves, intrinsic and substantial. It is fallacy to suppose that because there was no natural difference between them, there was therefore no difference at all. What! was there no difference in themselves between “righteous Abel” and the murderer who took his life? There was a difference, and that difference certainly did not lie entirely in their sacrifices. It lay in their works. Cain's works were wicked. Abel's works were righteous. The word is plural, and refers to all that they said and did, all that they thought and purposed, all of their lives in general, and not merely to the offerings which they offered. And the difference in their works was the manifestation of the difference in their character. Cain's works were wicked, and his brother's works righteous, precisely because Cain himself was wicked, and Abel righteous. This is a very great difference, and “entirely” in themselves.

And what saith our text in Genesis? Does the fourth chapter of Genesis give any countenance to the notion that the difference between Cain and Abel lay entirely in their sacrifices? None whatsoever, for the text says, “And the LORD had respect unto Abel----AND to his offering. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.” We are not told merely that God had respect to Abel's offering, and therefore to Abel, but that first he had respect unto Abel himself. “The Lord had respect unto Abel.” This is clear enough, and this was certainly not merely because of his offering. “To this man will I look,” saith the Lord, “even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Is. 66:2). This is something in the man's character, not merely in his offering.

Upon this point Matthew Henry, universally revered as a commentator on Holy Scripture, writes most soundly, “There was a difference in the characters of the persons offering. Cain was a wicked man, led a bad life, under the reigning power of the world and the flesh; and therefore his sacrifice was an abomination to the Lord (Prov. xv.8), a vain oblation, Isa. i.13. God had no respect to Cain himself, and therefore no respect to his offering, as the manner of expression intimates. But Abel was a righteous man; he is called righteous Abel (Matt. xxiii.35); his heart was upright and his life was pious; he was one of those whom God's countenance beholds (Ps. xi.7) and whose prayer is therefore his delight, Prov. xv.8. God had respect to him as a holy man, and therefore to his offering as a holy offering.”

Henry of course recognizes the difference in the nature of their offerings, but at the same time most forcefully denies that this was the only difference between them.

The respected commentator Matthew Poole stands on exactly the same ground. In commenting on the words The Lord had respect, he says, “Unto Abel's person, who was a truly good man; and then to his sacrifice, which was offered with faith in God's mercy and in the promised Mediator.” This is no more than doing justice to the text.

Here are the facts. Abel, being a righteous man, offered a proper sacrifice. Cain, being a wicked man, offered an improper sacrifice. But the question remains, What if Cain, wicked and unbelieving as he was, had offered a proper sacrifice? Would he then have been accepted? Spurred on by their antinomian notions, men assume that he would have been, but this assumption is certainly false. Such an assumption prevails because it appears to honor faith, and grace, and the sacrifice of Christ. But in fact is dishonors holiness, and holy Scripture also, and is in reality nothing more than rank antinomianism. We hold that if Cain, remaining wicked and unbelieving as he was, had offered the proper sacrifice, God certainly would not have “had respect unto” him, nor to his offering either, and he certainly would not have been accepted. The proof of this is abundant throughout the Bible.

As a matter of fact, all the Jews of later times offered blood sacrifices, the same as Abel had done. Their offerings were acceptable enough, but themselves were not, and both themselves and their sacrifices were rejected of God. “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord” to those Jews: “I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” (Is. 1:11). Why not? These offerings were as acceptable as Abel's. They were the offerings which God had prescribed, the same sort of offering as Abel had offered, yet the Lord had no respect unto them, and would neither accept them nor the persons who offered them. Why not? Why did the Lord not have respect unto those Jews, and unto their offerings? In verses 15-20 we read, “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.” And that being done, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land, but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword”----and this in spite of all your blood sacrifices. When you cease to do evil, and learn to do well, then God will have respect both unto you and unto your offerings. Till then, he will have no respect to either.

The plain fact is this: God will have no respect whatever to the right sort of sacrifice when it is offered by the wrong sort of person.

But some will say, “But we are all sinners. We must come to God as sinners, on the sole basis of the sacrifice of Christ, and all who so come will be received.” Why then were those Jews not received, who offered that multitude of bloody sacrifices to God? God never receives any sinner whatsoever, regardless of his trust in the sacrifice of Christ, except penitent sinners, who “repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance,” as Paul preached in Acts 28:20.

Those Jews offered all the right sacrifices, which were ordained by God himself, and which were types of the sacrifice of Christ himself, yet God rejected them all, and had no more respect to their offerings than he had to themselves. Very far from it. He looked at all their proper sacrifices and said, “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol.” Why so? Because “they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” (Is. 66:3-4).

There was nothing wrong with their offerings. Nor does God speak one word of any defect in their faith. It was their works which he abhorred. They all offered the proper offerings, as much as ever Abel did, and doubtless trusted in them too, but they had none of the character of Abel, and God says they might as well have offered a dog, or swine's blood. He had no respect to their offerings because he could have no respect to themselves. They had chosen their own ways, and delighted in abominations, and in their hands the right sacrifices were as offensive to God as they were vain and useless. And so exactly it will be with every ungodly sinner who thinks to stand before God on the basis of the blood of Christ, while he chooses his own ways and delights in his abominations. God will have no respect to him, regardless of the sacrifice in which he trusts.

But I return to C. H. Mackintosh, who writes further, “The eleventh chapter of Hebrews sets the whole subject before us in the most distinct and comprehensive way,----'By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice [pleiona qusian] than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God bearing witness [marturountoV] to his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh.' Here we are taught that it was in nowise a question as to the men, but only as to their 'sacrifice'----it was not a question as to the offerer, but as to his offering. Here lay the grand distinction between Cain and Abel. My reader cannot be too simple in his apprehension of this point, for therein lies involved the truth as to any sinner's standing before God.”

This we hold to be certainly false, and directly in the teeth of Isaiah, as quoted above, and not of Isaiah only, but of David also, and Solomon, and Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, and John the Baptist, and Peter, and Paul, and John, and Christ himself----directly in the teeth, to be short, of the whole Bible, from one end to the other.

Not that we would impute to C. H. M. the antinomianism which his one-sided statements seem to countenance, any more than we would to Martin Luther. The fact is, it was a statement of C. H. Mackintosh which gave the first check to my own antinomianism, a third of a century ago. There are many good men who advance antinomian sentiments doctrinally, who would utterly abhor the practical antinomianism which might legitimately be drawn from them. We believe that the good C. H. M. was such a man. But we believe also that his statements which savor of antinomianism are certainly false, and dangerously so, too. And we believe further that if he, in the midst of the glories of heaven, has any occasion or ability to take notice of the affairs of the church on earth, none will be so happy as himself to see those noxious plants, which he unwittingly sowed, unceremoniously uprooted.

On this Alfred Edersheim speaks much more soundly than “C. H. M.” Referring to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, he says, “Scripture here takes us up, as it were, to the highest point in the lives of the two brothers---their sacrifice----and tells us of the presence of faith in the one, and of its absence in the other. This showed itself alike in the manner and in the kind of their sacrifice. But the faith which prompted the sacrifice of Abel, and the want of faith which characterised that of Cain, must, of course, have existed and appeared long before. Hence St. John also says that Cain 'was of that wicked one,' meaning that he had all along yielded himself to the power of that tempter who had ruined our first parents.”

This is the undoubted truth, while it is the truth also that “righteous Abel” was righteous according to God's own view of the matter, namely, “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” (I John 3:7). Cain was “of the wicked one.” “His own works were wicked, and his brother's righteous.” Therefore “The LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering. But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect.”

The Foolishness of Love

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on November 14, 1999

by Glenn Conjurske

Love has been called “the greatest thing in the world,” but whatever may be said on that score, it is certain that it is often the most foolish thing in the world. “No folly like being in love,” an old proverb says, and there is a reason for this folly. When I used to listen to the ungodly radio, when I was an ungodly youth, there was a song then popular which said, “...my heart over-ruled my head, many, many tears ago.” This is the foolishness of love. When the heart runs free, without the control of the head----when love is not regulated by reason, or when love sets aside reason----it becomes a very foolish thing, and a very harmful thing besides.

Now there are two manners in which the foolishness of love manifests itself, and I am at a loss to know which of them is the most foolish. The first is that love is sometimes unable to see the faults of the one it loves. “Love is blind.” The doting mother can see no wrong in her darling child. The girl whose heart is smitten by love can see no wrong in the fellow who has taken her heart. I once ran across a little piece of paper, written by one of these love-smitten girls. In the center was the young man's name in large letters, and all around it such things as “sweet, nice, lovable, cute, darling”----and, to top all, “perfect”! Perhaps if she knew him better she would delete that one, but perhaps not. This is the foolishness of love. The one who loves can see no wrong in the party she loves. Whatever he does is right, and will be excused and defended and justified, not because there is anything of right in it, but because of who it is who does it.

But the foolishness of love shows itself in another way also. Love is not only blind, but soft also. While some can see no wrong in the ones they love, others can plainly see the wrong, but they refuse to deal with it. They see the naughtiness of their darling son, but they will not spank him. They see the wrong course which their friend takes, but they will not faithfully reprove her. This is hard. This will make the poor thing feel bad, and what she needs is sympathy and understanding. She needs to be soothed and encouraged, and those unfeeling souls who reprove her simply fail to understand her.

This is the foolishness of love. Love is blind, and where it can see, love is soft, and I tell you, I really cannot tell which of these is the most foolish. When I look at the blindness of love, I think, surely this is the extreme of folly, but when I turn to look at the softness of love, I think, surely this is the extreme of folly. I leave the matter undetermined, therefore, which is the most foolish, the blindness of love, or the softness of love, but I am sure that they are both very foolish.

But though I cannot determine which of these is the most foolish, I think I can say which is the easier to cure. The softness of love is a dereliction of duty, and men may be moved to their duty, but the blindness of love seems to have no known cure, except perhaps time, during which the evil character of the loved one becomes too plain to be overlooked or denied. I do not know that the Bible ever addresses the blindness of love, that it ever prescribes any remedy for it, but it surely does for the softness of love. “He that spareth the rod,” the Bible says, “hateth his son.” This of course is not to be taken as a technical statement of abstract truth. No, this is sarcasm. It is precisely love which moves fond parents to spare the rod, but it is foolish love, and love which damages their beloved offspring. They love their son, and cannot bear to hear him cry, cannot bear to see his little posterior sore from a spanking, cannot bear to lay the hard strokes upon him. They love him, no doubt, but they may just as well hate him, for all the good their love will do. This is foolish love, which sacrifices his future and ultimate happiness, for the happiness of the present moment. This is love which flies in the face of reason.

David was guilty of this foolish softness in the raising of his son Adonijah. “His father had not displeased him at any time, in saying, Why hast thou done so?” He never called him to account for his wayward actions. This would have displeased the little darling, and love never will or can relish this. By all means love delights to please, and avoids everything which will displease. Love by all means labors to secure the happiness of the one it loves, but then it is foolish, and faithless too, to look only to the fleeting happiness of the present moment, and secure it at the expense of the permanent happiness of the future.

The love which is soft, then, is foolish. Those parents who are soft on their children could do them no greater harm if they hated them. The preacher who is soft on his people could scarcely do them greater damage if he hated them. So the friend who is soft on his friend. “He that spareth the rod hateth his son,” and he that spares to reprove hates his friend.

We know, of course, that love has a way of softness about it, and even the reproofs of love will be as soft and gentle as love can make them, but sometimes they will be hard enough for all that. “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (Prov. 23:13-14). A beating with the rod is hard, no matter how much love is behind it. Reproofs are hard, and hard to bear, no matter how much love may be served up with them. But beatings and reproofs are necessary for our ultimate happiness, and the love which withholds them is foolish and detrimental. The plain fact is, we must deny ourselves the pleasures of love when there is evil to be dealt with. “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” (Prov. 19:18). This requires self-denial.

Those who are guilty of this blind, soft, foolish love may suppose themselves quite right, and suppose that others would quite agree with them if they but had the same strength of love. But this is foolish also. Love is blind, and love is soft, but the plain fact is, God is love, and yet God is neither soft nor blind. Love is foolish, but God is love, and God is not foolish. However much you may love your child or friend or sister, God loves them more, and yet God is not blind to their faults. “God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He knew all the depths of our sinfulness, and yet loved us still.

And at this point I would like to suggest something further concerning this blind brand of love. I do not believe this love is blind because it is so deep and so strong, but quite the reverse. I think blind love is shallow love. I have too often seen it to turn to aversion, so soon as the real faults of the loved one are learned. This happens often enough when love-smitten young people get married, and I have seen it happen between friends also. Love which is deep and true exists with a full knowledge of all the faults of the one it loves. It penetrates beneath them all, and fixes upon the true worth of the person, and loves that, while it knows very well all the evils which surround, or even smother, that true worth. Such love is deep and strong, and will endure. Such is the love of God. That love which can see no wrong is really shallow. What depth of love is this, to love the perfect? Who wouldn't? This knows nothing of loving in spite of known faults. Such love is neither deep nor enduring. It stands only upon an imagination, and will evaporate, will turn to aversion, so soon as its bubble is burst. The love of God is deep and strong, and it is certainly not blind.

But more. God is love, and if he is not blind, neither is he soft. He was not soft on David, when David had sinned, but said, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house,” and “the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” This was not soft. This was hard. God was not soft on Adam when he sinned, but drove him out of Paradise, afflicted him with pain and sorrow, and subjected the whole earth to the curse on his account. Neither was God soft on Adam before he sinned, but straitly charged and threatened him, saying, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” We hear nothing from God of “Now Adam-Honey, I really don't want you to eat of that tree. Oh! you will make me so unhappy if you eat of that tree! Will you be good now, and leave that tree alone?” Nothing whatever of this----nothing resembling it in all the Bible----but strict commands and solemn threats, though God is love.

But this brings me to another matter. It is generally mothers who talk in this soft and syrupy language, and it is generally women who are susceptible to this blind and soft love. It is part of the weakness of “the weaker vessel” that the soul predominates in her constitution, while the spirit predominates in man. Emotion predominates in her constitution, where reason is predominant in man. We would not pretend that there is anything sinful in the predominance of emotion in the female constitution. Far from that. But still it is weakness, and weakness which belongs to her by creation. She was made to be dependent upon a man. She may be the heart of the home, but she is not the head of it. She was not made to be a head, but to have one. It is easy, therefore, for the heart of a woman to over-rule her head. This is a simple manifestation of what she is, and it proves nothing whatever concerning the strength of her love. It is not strength, but weakness.

But allow me to ask you a very impertinent question. Is God masculine or feminine? Is God male or female? We all know that God is masculine. We know very well that though “God created man in his own image,” that “in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them,” yet God himself is masculine. The Bible speaks of him thousands of times, and it is invariably he, never she. I once saw a bumper sticker, on the car of some modern feminist, which said, “Pray to God: she will help you,” but every one of you would feel that such language is blasphemous. God is love, but God is not feminine. God is love, but he is not subject to any of the weaknesses which belong to feminine nature. His heart never over-rules his head. He is never blind, never soft. The love which he feels may be beyond anything felt by any mother or any lover, but the manifestation of that love is always under the control of reason, and of holiness too.

The way of love is to pity and to sympathize when people are in hard places, and yet it is very often the case that we are in those hard places precisely because of our own fault. To pity and sympathize in such a case, while we refuse also to blame, is only to confirm people in their wrong. It gives them a little good feeling for the present day, but at the cost of their ultimate misery. If we are to do anybody any good, we must blame them as well as pity them. And love may have its way even while we blame. Love is perfectly free to show all the pity and compassion it can, even while we blame folks for their fault or their folly, and we have nothing to say against this. We believe it to be good and right. Indeed, we believe it to be quite wrong to blame people without any pity or sympathy. We may shed tears over the plight of sinners, while we yet condemn their sins, and blame them for committing them. But the love which will sympathize without blaming is foolish love, and will do no good to anybody. God certainly both pities and blames sinners, and God is love. Are you more loving than he?

We began this sermon with a reference to a popular song about “many, many tears ago.” But you understand, the tears of the singer were all for herself, for her own hurt. The foolish love I have been speaking of will lead to more bitter tears than these. You will be weeping not for yourself, but for the one you love----for the one your foolish love has ruined. David was soft on his sons, and it did them no good, but ruined them altogether. The record tells us he was soft on Adonijah, and we may assume he was soft on Absalom also, for in their manhood they were two of a kind in their character. Now if you wish to see the final end of soft, blind, foolish love, you look at the tears and lamentations of David over his lost son Absalom. You listen to David crying, “O my son Absalom! my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Here is the end of foolish love, which spares the rod, and spares the reproof, and will not displease the one it loves.

But David's cries were nothing to the purpose. They were too late, of course, but they were of the wrong sort also. “Would God I had died for thee!” he says, but what would this have done? What he ought to have been saying is, “Would God I had displeased thee! Would God I had reproved thee! Would God I had disciplined thee! Would God I had restrained thee!” This had been much more to the purpose.

There was no doubt pleasure in the soft and silly love of David----pleasure for himself, and pleasure for his sons. There was plenty of good feeling when he excused and overlooked their waywardness, when he soothed and sympathized, when he shielded and justified, but how transient that good feeling, and how bitter its end.

God is love, and you cannot love more nor better than he does. God is love, and is certainly the pattern which we ought to follow in our own love. God is love, but he is neither soft, nor feminine, nor blind, nor foolish. If you think your love is better or stronger or deeper or more tender than the love of God, you are foolish enough, and your love is no doubt as foolish as you are.


by Glenn Conjurske

Religion has a bad name among modern Fundamentalists. It is generally regarded as something false, something evil. It is contrasted with Christianity, and it is confidently affirmed that Christianity is not a religion. No matter that all the best men of God for centuries have spoken of Christianity under the name of religion. Modern pride looks with disdain on all this, and holds fast to its own spiritual and intellectual superiority.

Yet we suppose that all who know anything of their spiritual heritage, and all who love that heritage, must certainly love religion. The Bible certainly has nothing to say against it. Quite the contrary. “If any man among you seem to be religious,” we read in James, “and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:26-27). It consists, in other words, of real love and real holiness, which is the nature of God, reproduced in his saints. This is pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father.

I quote, of course, from the old English version of the Bible, but I observe that the new versions have not been able to thrust religion out of this text, in spite of the prevailing modern prejudice against the term. The NIV, the NASV, the NKJV, and the Berkeley Version all retain “religious” and “religion” here, though we may be quite sure that if any other rendering of the word were possible, some of these versions would have found it, for though they are not likely to avow or admit it, one of their leading principles is to differ as much as they can from the old version. Here that principle would have been augmented by the natural aversion of modern Evangelicalism to the term “religion,” and yet they were obliged to retain it. And we may take it almost as an axiom that where the new versions agree with the old one, the translation is sound and solid.

We turn from the Bible to the grand and glorious heritage which we have in the history of the church, and find religion holding the honorable place which belongs to it. Bishop Henshaw thus equates Christianity and religion:

He is the true and reall Chritian whose
Most holy words are seconded with deeds;
Who lives Religion over, and well knowes
Christianity consists not all in creeds;
Pinns not his life, nor faith to others leevs,
Believes what's writ, and lives as hee believes.

John Wesley wrote to his nephew Charles, in 1784, on the conversion of his nephew Samuel to popery, “I doubt not but both Sarah and you are in trouble because Samuel has 'changed his religion.' Nay, he has changed his opinions and mode of worship. But that is not religion; it is quite another thing. ...

“'What then is religion?' It is happiness in God, or in the knowledge and love of God. It is 'faith working by love,' producing 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.' In other words, it is an heart and life devoted to God; or communion with God the Father and the Son; or the mind which was in Christ Jesus, enabling us to walk as He walked.”

Further down in the same letter he says, “Therefore you and my dear Sarah have great need to weep over him. But have you not also need to weep for yourselves? For have you given God your hearts? Are you holy in heart? Have you the kingdom of God within you? righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost? the only true religion under heaven?”

To Samuel himself he wrote, “I fear you want (what you least of all suspect), the greatest thing of all----religion. I do not mean external religion, but the religion of the heart; the religion which Kempis, Pascal, Fénelon [all papists] enjoyed: that life of God in the soul of man, the walking with God and having fellowship with the Father and the Son. ...

“And I lament that fatal step, your relinquishing those places of worship where alone this religion is inculcated. I care not a rush for your being called a Papist or Protestant. But I am grieved at your being an heathen. Certain it is that the general religion both of Protestants and Catholics is no better than refined heathenism.”

Thus he maintains the place of pure and true religion, while of course recognizing the existence of the vain and worthless sort, by whatever name it may be called. This was the common language of all the saints. To “get religion” or “become religious” was synonymous with coming to Christ, or being converted. Thus we read in the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, concerning a revival which took place in 1805, “I heard a number of them say, that they had taken more satisfaction in one day, since they experienced religion, than they had taken in their whole lives before.”

The following from Richard Cecil leaves no doubt as to what he supposed religion to be: “Many tradesmen, professedly religious, seem to look on their trade as a vast engine, which will be worked to no good effect, if it be not worked with the whole vigour of the soul. This is an intoxicating and ruinous mistake. So far as they live under the power of religion, they will pursue their trade for sustenance and provision; but not even that, with unseasonable attention and with eagerness.”

We read in the life of William Phillips, a Methodist preacher, “'Very soon my eldest son, about eight years old, came to me, and said, “B------------has experienced religion;” and then inquired, “What is religion?” Here conviction seized my mind, for I could not answer the questions of the child. I said, Is it possible that I, who was blessed with a religious education, have raised a child to this age, who inquires of me what religion is, and I can not tell him! I then resolved to reform my life, and examine the evidences of Christianity.”

'He did not delay this great work, but set about it with diligence. He was soon convinced of the divine reality of religion, and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, as a seeker.”

Of the doings on a Methodist mission to the Indians of the far west we read, “One night a man got up and said: 'I came here with my neighbor to scoff. But as the meeting went on he said to me, “Jim, let's get out of this: it is too hot.” “No,” I said, “let's stick it out.” And now, friends,' he continued, 'I wish you would pray for me; I want to find this religion you speak about.”'

Thus speak the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists. So the Presbyterians also. Of an awakening under the preaching of Daniel Baker we read, “All secular business seemed for the time to be laid aside and forgotten. Religion appeared the all-engrossing subject of thought and conversation.”

And again, “You may recollect that last fall many individuals here were brought to a profession of religion in consequence of a meeting held by Presbyterian ministers. But these were comparatively few. They were enough, however, to embolden another effort, and to encourage our ministers in the belief that more hearing would produce more religion.”

Congregationalists also. Harriet Newell, who belonged to the first party of missionaries sent to the orient from American shores, writes thus of the time when she was under conviction of sin: “A religion, which was intimately connected with the amusements of the world, and the friendship of those who are at enmity with God, would have suited well my depraved heart. But I knew that the religion of the gospel was vastly different.” And among her last words, when dying at the age of nineteen, were, “Tell them from the lips of their dying sister, that there is nothing but religion worth living for.”

Her funeral discourse was preached from “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold; and shall inherit everlasting life.” The preacher said, “But where shall we find the singular character exhibited in the text? I answer, in every place, and in every condition of life, where we find true religion.” And once more, “Do you still ask, where such characters are to be found? I answer again, wherever there are CHRISTIANS.”

Religion, then, is Christianity. The Christian literature of the centuries is filled with examples of this sort. From Chillingworth's “The Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants,” to Spurgeon, to Ryle, to the “Real Religion” of Gipsy Smith, this was the common speech of the whole English-speaking church, and certainly countenanced by the Bible.

Yet somehow a change came about. Perhaps due to a decline in this robust religion, this robust speech was abandoned also, and replaced by a fastidious and artificial brand of supposed intellectual accuracy, which must distinguish between Christianity and religion. The old rhyme, which had brought conviction and sobriety to so many minds, (and I quote it purely from memory, and so perhaps may misquote it),

'Tis religion that can give
Purest pleasure while we live;
'Tis religion can supply
Solid comfort when we die,

this old rhyme, I say, began to be spoken of slightingly, with something resembling contempt, as though it were a grave error, calculated only to mislead people.

In 1927 A. C. Gaebelein published his book Christianity or Religion, the “or” of course implying that the two cannot be the same thing. And in 1929 we read in a letter in the Moody Monthly, “Do you suppose one Christian even in a thousand can tell what the gospel (glad tidings) is, what Christianity is, and how Christianity differs from religion...?” In our own day it is one of those things which are commonly taken for granted, that Christianity and religion are two different things, the one good, the other evil. And modern irreverence has even gone so far as to publish books on how to be a Christian without being religious. I suggest that what the writers and printers of such trish-trash need is precisely religion. They are in fact irreligious, and this is certainly a great evil. What the modern church needs is precisely religion. I have observed for many years that the general difference between the cultists and the Evangelicals lies in the fact that the cultists are religious, while the Evangelicals are not. I speak, of course, of the serious sort of cultists, for it is true also that we now have a generation of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses who are as lukewarm, and have as little religion, as the common sort of Evangelicals. But the religion of the serious cultists is a reality, the great controlling force of their lives, while whatever it is which the Evangelicals have is more nearly akin to a game or a hobby, which they take no more seriously than they do the Green Bay Packers or the Chicago Cubs----and in many cases much less so. The cultists no doubt have a false religion, but the Evangelicals have little religion of any kind.

We make no apology for preaching “the old-fashioned religion,” as all our forefathers did, and we no more apologize for the term than we do for the thing. The great need of the modern church is precisely religion.

On the Translation of Baptizw

by Glenn Conjurske

Some time ago my diligent searching for books unearthed a little pamphlet of extreme interest, entitled The Baptists and the Bible Society. Memorials Presented in the Years 1837, 1840, and 1857, to the British and Foreign Bible Society, in Relation to its Treatment of the Versions of Scripture Prepared by Baptist Missionaries, With an Introduction by Edward Bean Underhill. This was published in London in 1868, by the (Baptist) Bible Translation Society. The memorials presented to the Bible Society by the Baptists were occasioned by the Society's refusing any longer to print those versions of the Bible which rendered baptizw “immerse,” such versions being unacceptable to all but the Baptist members of the Society. The memorials are very telling, in exposing the inconsistencies of the Bible Society, but they were ineffectual in reversing its position.

At the time of the controversy between “The Baptists and the Bible Society,” a pamphlet was also published in America----and my copy of this I owe to the diligent searching and the kind consideration of Doug Kutilek
----entitled, The Faithful Translation: An Essay in Favour of Revising and Amending King James's Version of the Holy Scriptures, by David Bernard and Samuel Aaron, Published for David Bernard by J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1842.

My business with these pamphlets at present is confined to the principle which they advocate, that the Greek words are to be translated rather than transferred or transliterated into English. “Baptize,” they contend, is no translation at all, but only a transferring of the Greek baptizw (baptidzo) into English. “Immerse,” they contend, is the only proper translation of the word. I have dealt with this question before, and will not much enter into it here, except only to reaffirm my position that “baptize” is by all means the best English rendering of baptizw, even if “immerse” is a proper rendering at all. I aim here only to deal with the principle by which “immerse” is defended in these pamphlets.

What I say is that the principle of translating instead of transferring is a piece of learned folly, and really a piece of learned sophistry, for it artfully conceals the plain fact that a transliteration may also be a translation, and may in fact be the best translation there is. And in the case before us the principle of translating instead of transferring is no more than a learned excuse for sectarian bigotry, for I verily believe such a principle had never been heard of in the world except for the mistaken desire of certain Baptists to thrust “baptize” and “baptism” out of the Bible.

The second of the pamphlets mentioned above says (on pages 18-19), “But what renders this subject of great moment to the whole Zion of God, and to the Baptist denomination in particular, is, that the British and Foreign, and American Bible Societies have both adopted resolutions restricting their funds to such versions of the Scriptures as conform in the principle of their translation to the common English version. Hence Baptist translators can receive no aid from these powerful societies, unless the words baptizo and baptismos are left untranslated, and their meaning thus concealed from the heathen. The consequence has been, that the Baptist denomination generally, and others whose motto is, 'THE BIBLE TRANSLATED,' have organized the American and Foreign Bible Society, for the purpose of giving to all the heathen nations, in their own tongues, the written word of God.”

But we demur to this. We think their concern was not “The Bible Translated,” but only “Baptizw Translated.” That they themselves were something less than sincere in propounding their principle is only too evident by their failure to apply it to anything but baptizw, and perhaps a couple of other words, where an altered translation might give them a tactical advantage over other sects. Consistency is always the best test of sincerity, and the Baptists who plead for this principle have shown themselves singularly inconsistent in the application of it.

Why do they not translate “apostle” instead of transferring the Greek word into English? Why not translate “angel” instead of transferring the Greek word into English? Why not translate “Amen” instead of transferring the Greek word into English? Why do they not translate “prophet” instead of transferring the Greek word into English? Why transfer “mystery” from the Greek, twice in I Timothy 3 in the prospectus at the end of the second of these pamphlets, instead of translating it into English? If they say that these terms are old landmarks, spiritual waymarks which simply cannot be thrust out of our thoughts and our language, I reply, so are “baptize” and “baptism.” For the proof of this I need only appeal to the Baptists themselves, and in general to the same Baptists who wish to thrust “baptize” and “baptism” out of the Bible. They neither will nor can thrust it out of their thinking, their speaking, or their writing. They call themselves “Baptists.” Who ever heard of the Calvary Immersionist Temple, or the First Immersionist Church of Dallas or Detroit? They are Baptists, and never have been or will be anything else. And being Baptists, they “baptize.” They report so many “baptisms” per year. They receive new members “by baptism.” For them of all people to thrust “baptize” out of the Bible appears as ill-advised, and as inconsistent, as it would be for the Presbyterians to thrust out “presbytery”----to insist that we translate the term instead of transferring the Greek word into English, (for “presbytery” is another among many such transferred terms).

Some of these Baptists, in a futile attempt to be consistent in their position, have all but eliminated “baptize” and “baptism” from their speech, though with strange inconsistency they still call themselves Baptists. The Faithful Translation insists (pg. 46) that “there is no other term except immersion and its synonyms by which baptize can be invariably translated, without rendering the language of inspiration contradictory, impossible, and absurd.” As an example he offers Mark 1:9, thus: “'And was immersed or dipped by John into (eis) the Jordan.' This makes sense. But translate the passage by any of the words proposed by Pædobaptists; 'and was poured, sprinkled, washed, or purified by John into the Jordan;' and the meaning becomes either absurd or impossible.”

This sort of banter is just likely to tell with shallow folks who never think, but it really begs the question. It pokes fun at “poured,” “sprinkled,” and “washed,” but no mention is made of “baptized,” which is certainly the word most generally “proposed by Pædobaptists”----and by such as myself also, who am no Pædobaptist. Who ever seriously proposed “sprinkled” or “poured” as a translation of baptizw? In this our author only beats down a straw man, which he has set up himself. He begs another question too, for it is a plain fact that to invariably render any Greek word by the same English word will quite generally involve us in absurdities----certainly more often than not. The fact that we cannot use a certain rendering consistently is no argument at all against that rendering. The very endeavor to render Greek words consistently into English savors much more of pedantry than of wisdom or of scholarship.

But more. “Immersed into the Jordan” is certainly not proper English----no more than “washed into the Jordan.” Common English does not immerse into anything, but in it. Let him but leave eis alone, and “baptized” would suit as well as “immersed.” With his altered translation of eis, it certainly suits better. He will tell us that “baptized” is a transliteration, not a translation, but I tell him that it is certainly both, as much as “apostle” or “epistle”----as much as “prophet” or “angel.”

The first of the memorials which are reprinted in the first pamphlet mentioned above affirms, on page 2, “...it is the primary duty of a translator to ascertain the precise meaning of the original text, and then to express that meaning as exactly as the nature of the language into which he translates it will admit. He is not at liberty to leave untranslated any word, the signification of which he knows, and can render by an equivalent term.” Well, yes, IF he leaves that term “untranslated” for the purpose of hiding its meaning, but this is not the case with “baptize,” any more than it is with “apostle” or “prophet.” These are transliterations of their Greek equivalents, the same as “baptize” is, but they are also translations. It is sophistry to say that the Greek words are “left untranslated” in such cases, merely because the translation is derived from the Greek word, and so spelled the same in English as it is in Greek. The transliteration is a translation. Why do these Baptists not insist that we say “seer” instead of “prophet”?----which, according to their mistaken principle, leaves the Greek word untranslated. We do not contend for the use of “baptize” to obscure the meaning of its Greek equivalent, but precisely to express it----though we grant that the case may have been otherwise with Pædobaptists.

In proof of what we grant, the second of the memorials which this pamphlet reproduces complains that the Bible Society, in its edition of the Bengali New Testament, had actually undone the work of the Baptist missionaries who translated it, and replaced their translation of baptizw with a transliteration of it, though they had made no other alterations in the version. This was scarcely upright, and it was obviously done for the purpose of obscuring the meaning, but this does not alter our position. We grant that it is easier to wrest “baptize” from its meaning than it is “immerse,” but the fact is, men may wrest anything in the Bible if they have a mind to. “Where there's a will there's a way,” and if men are determined that baptism shall not be by immersion, they may turn aside the meaning of “immerse” with ease, by claiming that it is to be taken figuratively. The second of the pamphlets before me practically does this, in speaking on page 6 of “the promised immersion of the Holy Spirit.” This was certainly no literal immersion, for it is spoken of in Acts 1:8 as “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” What sort of immersion is this? On the other side, we know as a plain matter of fact that immersion was the common practice of the church for centuries, while its Bible (the Latin Vulgate) read baptizo and baptismus.

Let it be understood, however, that we are very far from advocating the transliterating of Greek words in general. We find perhaps more of folly and sophistry in the field of etymology than anywhere else in the world. When Lewis Sperry Chafer, for example, insists that “Strive to enter in” ought really to be rendered “Agonize to enter in,” after the spelling of the Greek word, this is sophistry, and worse, for his real purpose is not to strengthen the meaning, but to eliminate it altogether, by telling us that since Christ has “agonized” in our stead, on the cross, we have nothing to do in the matter. But the plain fact is, the Greek word, however it may be spelled, does not mean “agonize,” but “strive.”

And all the talk we hear in the modern church about hilarious giving, and the power of God being dynamite, is just folly, and irreverence too. Nothing is to be based upon the mere spelling of the Greek words, nor of its coincidence with the spelling of English words, regardless of the connotations of those words. We are of course opposed to transferring the Greek words into English, unless the English word so derived gives the same meaning as its Greek equivalent. We believe that “baptize” does so, and gives it much better than “immerse” does.

I believe, by the way, in baptism by immersion, but then it is baptism in which I believe. “Baptize” means more than “immerse,” not less. We immerse the dishes to wash and rinse them, but we never baptize them. The English “baptize” has precisely the theological sense which baptizw has in its ordinary usage in the Greek New Testament, and which “immerse” does not have, and never has had. Those who fill books with quotations from secular Greek to prove that baptizw means “immerse” really do nothing to the purpose. We may grant that, though it may need some qualification, and yet contend that “baptize” is certainly the best rendering of the word in its ordinary usage in the New Testament. They might speak more to the purpose if they would insist that whatever the word might mean in secular Greek, it certainly does not mean “baptize”----while it certainly does in the New Testament.


Long Walks to Meetings

by Glenn Conjurske

It really requires but little discernment to perceive that the Christianity of the present day is of a very weak and anemic sort. Though the Bible requires us to endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, modern technology has left us but little hardship to endure, and this state of things has so spoiled and weakened us that most of us turn away from what little hardship there is. When we read of the hardships endured in the service of Christ by more robust men, in the days of a more robust religion, such examples ought both to shame and to inspire us.

One of the manners in which men endured hardship in former days was in the long walks which many of them were obliged to take to meet with their fellow Christians, or to hear the preaching of the gospel. Such things are little known in our day. It will of course be said that there is no necessity for it, but if there were, how many Christians would we see at our meetings? I was once obliged to walk to a Sunday evening meeting, when my car was not working. The leader of the meeting remarked that I had obviously wanted to be there----and yet after all, I had walked only two and a half miles, and in fair weather, too. Nor was I obliged to do this every week, but only once. Such things, and much more also, were once the common practice of many of the saints, nor did they suppose themselves heroes for performing them.

In a third of a century of reading, I have come across many such examples----read somewhere, for example, of young men walking twenty miles to hear Gilbert Tennent preach for twenty minutes. Unfortunately, not until very recently did I begin to make notes of such examples, so that most of those of which I have read are now lost to me, and those therefore which I have to offer must be few in number, and most of them from the books I have read most recently. Yet in the short while in which I have been recording these, I have found quite an array of them. I suppose that these examples will prove pre-eminently edifying to the saints of the present day, whether to convict or to inspire. They ought to teach us to cheerfully endure what little hardship is left to us in these days of ease, and not to murmur at our hard lot, which in fact is not hard at all. As the men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgement and condemn the generation which refused to repent at the preaching of a greater than Jonah, so we suppose many of these old saints will rise up in the judgement and condemn the present generation, which will allow a little cold or a few raindrops to keep it home from the meetings of the saints, though possessed of automobiles with heaters and windshield wipers. When I was attending the same church to which I walked as related above, I once drove there on a Sunday evening, with my family, after we had received six or eight inches of snow in the afternoon. We found the building dark and locked, no one there, and the parking lot unplowed. After a while another person came. We waited outside till after the starting time, and no one else came, not even the pastor, though he lived only a couple of blocks away. We went home disappointed. Yet we are quite sure the story would have been altogether different if we had lived a century earlier.

I proceed to the examples, and beg the reader to observe that these long walks of the days of yore were the fruit of hunger. Many things have conspired together to destroy the spiritual hunger of the modern church, or we might see such things yet.

In the life of Ko Thah-byu, a converted Karen in Burmah, we read, “Seventeen Karens arrived from Maubee village exceedingly fatigued, having walked in one day a distance which usually occupies two, in order to be here before the Sabbath. Seven of them were women.”

Sarah Boardman, afterwards the second wife of Adoniram Judson, testifies to the hunger of these Karens, saying, “They are Karens, living two or three days' journey distant, who, by their frequent visits to us, over almost impassable mountains, and through deserts, the haunt of the tiger, evince a love for the gospel seldom surpassed. What would the Christians in New England think of travelling forty or fifty miles on foot to hear a sermon and beg a Christian book? A good Christian woman, who has been living with us several months, told me that, when she came, the water was so deep that she was obliged to wait till the men in the company could cut down trees and lay across the streams for her to get over on; and sometimes she forded the streams herself, when the water reached her chin. She said she was more afraid of the alligators than any thing else.” A legitimate fear, no doubt. What would the Christian women of America today think of braving tigers in the desert, alligators in the streams, rugged mountains, and walks of forty or fifty miles?

We read in the life of an old Methodist itinerant. “The conference did not appoint a preacher to Miami circuit [in Ohio] in 1800. There were at the time four or five local preachers in the Miami country, and they went every-where preaching the word. They systematized their operations, preached not only on Sabbath, but also on other days, held two days' meetings, and kept up a routine of quarterly meetings. They were much encouraged in seeing the pleasure of the Lord prosper in their hands. Those popular meetings took place at different points, but most of them were held in the forks of the Miami; and it was a matter of astonishment to see the numbers that attended; women would walk twenty and even thirty miles to attend them.” This, remark, not to hear any famous preachers, nor even the regular circuit riders, but the local preachers, who labored at their earthly occupations to make a living, and preached as they could. How many women today would walk thirty miles to such meetings?

A Baptist preacher writes from Canada in 1826, “You may form an idea of the need of preaching, and, in some places, of the desire of the people to hear it, when I assure you that I saw six of the sisters, members of one of the churches, and some of their husbands and brethren, who had walked more than thirty miles to attend a general meeting. After it was closed, they expressed the satisfaction they had enjoyed, and said they felt abundantly rewarded, and departed, rejoicing, to their own homes.”

Another Baptist preacher----Eugenio Kincaid, afterwards missionary to Burmah----writing in 1829, says, “I have visited settlements in this country where a sermon had never been preached. I have received letters from other neighborhoods, begging of me to come and preach to them. West of the Alleghany mountains is a vast tract of new country, stretching to the North and West, and settlements are forming in every direction. The inhabitants are generally intelligent and enterprising. I have seen, in this wilderness, females come ten and twelve miles on foot to hear one sermon.” The preacher continues, “Many appear to be hungry for the bread of life.” It would appear in the present day that many appear not to be hungry for the bread of life, when they cannot drive an automobile a mile or two to hear it.

Another Baptist preacher, preaching in Canada in 1806, writes, “Oh, my brethren, what a door has God opened for preaching and hearing in these parts! Here were some aged women who told me they came five miles on foot, though it was a very rainy time.”

Another Baptist itinerant, writing about the same time, says, “Here are about a dozen families, but not one professed Christian amongst them. They meet together on the first day of the week, and carry on their devotion by singing hymns, and reading a sermon. I preached one sermon to them. Some appeared under genuine conviction. Several of them came twenty miles the next Lord's day to hear the word.”

Again in the same letter, writing of another location, “The people were generally very attentive, and would take great pains to attend upon preaching. Some would come as far as twenty miles on horses, and some women would walk seven or eight miles on foot to hear the word.”

Another Baptist itinerant writes concerning those times (January of 1804), “Some of the people came to the distance of 10 miles, and others 5 and 6 miles, wading through snow.” Surely these folks belonged to a different race than that which now inhabits the earth. Perhaps I had better say, they must have had a different religion from that which prevails in the church today.

The same preacher had to wade through the snow himself to reach his appointments, and snow which was often nearly up to his hips. Preacher was not above people in this, however, and he writes further in the same letter, “Having prayed with and for Mr. Davidson's family, and delivered them much exhortation, the kind man took his staff and went on before me in order to break the road for three miles. The next day, himself and two children waded seven miles to attend on the word. Worn almost out with breaking the road after he left me, I reached brother Seally's who were glad to see me. Lord's-day 12th, the people came to meeting five miles, bringing whole families on ox-sleds. This was a glorious day here; the hearts of the people were open to receive the word. Poor sinners were struck under conviction, and backsliders came home to their Father's house, with the spirit and language of the prodigal.”

We wonder how much of the power of such meetings was due to the difficulty with which the people attended them. What costs us little is little valued, but those who attended the preaching through such hardships as these must have gone expecting something, and they were not disappointed.

Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, or George Copway, a North American Indian, who was afterwards a missionary to his own people, was converted at a Methodist camp meeting. Of this he writes, “My father and I attended a camp meeting near the town of Colbourne. On our way from Rice Lake, to the meeting, my father held me by the hand, as I accompanied him through the woods. Several times he prayed with me, and encouraged me to seek religion at this camp meeting. We had to walk thirty miles under a hot sun.”

Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh also gives us an account of an old woman, which may put this soft and lukewarm age to shame. He writes, “an old Indian woman of about eighty years, came crawling to the meeting, for she was unable to walk; her name was Anna. The year before, she had traveled three hundred and fifty miles in a canoe, to be baptised by Brother Clark. She now lived about two miles from our Mission, and on the Sabbath, was brought to meeting in a canoe. But on this Sabbath, the wind was so high that no canoe could be launched. In the morning, after the others had left, she started for the meeting, and crawled over logs, through creeks, and other difficult places near the edges of rocks. Old Anna made her appearance in the house, to the astonishment as well as to the delight of all. She seated herself in front of the preacher, and listened attentively to the words of eternal life. She united with others in praising God for his mercy and goodness, especially to herself. She then partook of the body and blood of her Saviour. She spoke of the day in which she was in darkness; but now she knew, by experience, that the Lord had forgiven her sins. She cared not for water, mud, or precipices, if she could only crawl or creep to meeting, for she felt well rewarded, because the Lord blessed her. She did not, like some, fear to soil her clothes; neither was she a fair day visitor of meeting.”

And shall not such an old Indian stand nearer the throne in glory than many of the fine folks of the present day? She may have some company there, for Kah-ke-wa-quo-n~-by, another converted Indian, relates the following of Widow Wahbahnoosug: “This woman was soon truly converted, and has continued a faithful Christian ever since. A few winters after, she was afflicted with lameness, which prevented her walking, but so great was her attachment to the house of God that I have often seen her crawl through the snow to enjoy the ordinances. At a love feast I once heard her say that she was so happy that her sufferings were not worthy to be named. That she felt as if her body was one round heart hovering in the air, filled with the life of God, and ready to fly away to heaven.”

Perhaps these children of the forest had less pride than their white neighbors. At any rate we read of another Indian woman----not lame, but blind----who did not fear to crawl to attend the meeting, and walk five miles through the woods besides. “And finally,” says the missionary, “we must mention poor old Annie Lay-why-eton, who died of smallpox after successfully nursing her son through that awful disease. She was a sincere member of the Church for many years, and in her eagerness to hear the Word used to trudge in feebleness from Kultus Lake, on the Upper Chilliwack, to the church at Skowkale, a distance of about five miles, and back. She was blind, and had to cross the river on a single log. The very last time she attended church she spoke at the class-meeting, and told how she thought that morning she could not get to church, but she felt such a longing desire to have her soul fed once more that she made the attempt. Coming to the log she feared she could not get across, but looking up to God for help, she got down on her hands and knees and crawled over. What a rebuke to the careless indifference of many professed Christians to the privileges of religious worship.”

We might include the records of some longer walks than these, on the part of lost sinners who were thirsting for the truth of the gospel. We may report some of those another time. Here we record only the ordinary activities of the saints of God, in their journeys to the ordinary meetings of the saints.

All of these examples, we suppose, are a rebuke to the carelessness, softness, laziness, and lukewarmness of the modern church. We may be pardoned if we long to see a little of the old-time religion in these soft and shallow days.

Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


Two heads are better than one.

Misapplied, this proverb would be no more than a pernicious error. God never created a creature with two heads, nor a family, nor an army either. A French proverb affirms, “One bad general is better than two good ones,” and this is the very truth. Two heads on one man would be immeasurably worse than one. He would by all means be a “double-minded man,” and so unstable in all his ways.

What the proverb speaks of is two heads on two men, and here two heads are certainly superior to one. We would not by any means affirm that two bad heads are better than one good one, nor that the heads of two children are better than the one head of their father, nor that the heads of two novices are better than the head of one seasoned veteran. It were folly to think so, and the proverb means nothing of the sort.

What it does mean is that two heads put together are better than either one of them alone, and this is true even if one of those heads belongs to a dunce or a fool. No man thinks of everything, and a dolt may think of something that has escaped the wise man. The wise man may wrestle with some knotty question for ten years, and yet keenly feel his want of light. At this point a perfect dolt may suggest precisely what he needs. Not that the dolt would know what to do with his nugget, nor that he could ever have thought of a thousand things which the wise man knows, but still he may think of something which has escaped the wise man. His mind may run in a different channel. For this cause the perfect greenhorn may think of something which the master will never see. The master's mind runs in the old and settled channels. He knows the trade as it is, and his mind is set in its ways. He has always done things in one way, and never thinks of altering it. An automobile mechanic once severely reproached me, accusing me of consummate pride, for daring to suggest to him how he might fix something in a car, instead of bowing to his superior knowledge. I replied that the only pride was in himself, and proved it by the fact that he often disputed with me in spiritual matters, where he would readily grant my superiority----and that I did not take his disputing ill. I know that “Two heads are better than one,” but he proceeded upon the assumption that his own head was all-sufficient, and could receive no help from mine.

I do not mean that babes and novices ought to set up to teach their teachers, yet an occasional suggestion is certainly not out of order, or a question which will lead a man of sense to the proper answer. The boy Jesus in the temple was not so presumptuous as to set up to teach the doctors. He only asked them questions, but we suppose such questions as they had never heard before, and such questions as shed a flood-light of wisdom upon the matters under discussion. Let boys and babes follow the example of the Lord, and they shall do well, yet the seasoned teachers need not fear to seek light even at the mouth of a boy, or a fool. Though a fool has no business to teach a wise man, yet “A wise man can learn from a fool,” as a French proverb teaches us, and an English proverb truly affirms, “A wise man gets learning from those who have none themselves.” These proverbs are true in more ways than one, but certainly they are true because “Two heads are better than one,” no matter how inferior one of those heads may be.

In building and fixing (except, of course, in emergencies), I take my time. I think the matter through, and have my plans matured before I begin, so that what may appear to others as procrastination is merely attempting to determine how to do the thing right, and not waste half my time and materials making mistakes. Sometimes in my thinking I am simply stymied, and I therefore wait, and wrestle with the difficulty. Now there have been times, when I was at such a stand, that another made a simple suggestion which removed all my difficulties, and it matters nothing to me whether he has a superior mind, or a dull one. The fact is, simple as the idea may have been, I never thought of it, while he did. Indeed, I never thought of it in weeks of mental wrestling with the matter, while he thought of it off-hand, as soon as he saw the problem. Two heads are verily better than one.

But if two heads are better than one, are not ten better than two? If one head may think of something which has escaped the other, why may not the tenth head think of something which has escaped the other nine? Verily it may, and the Bible says therefore, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14).

Yet this Bible proverb also, if misunderstood, will prove a snare. Bob Jones (the first) once spoke of people who came to him for advice, when what they really wanted was approval. They wanted the great man to tell them that their plan was the right one. But if he told them otherwise, they would go away sorrowful, and probably consult other advisors----indeed, a multitude of them, till they could find one who told them what they wanted to hear. Such a multitude of counsellors is as good as none at all, for the plain fact is, the man will not be counselled.

Others, with this text in their hands, will go to a multitude of counsellors, and as it were count their votes. If a dozen say nay, and a score say yea, then yea it will be. This is foolish, and certainly not what the proverb means. There is safety in the multitude of counsellors because from one of them we might obtain just that nugget of wisdom which the case requires, and which may never have entered the heads of any of the rest of them. We are to consult counsellors to gain wisdom, which will commend itself to our judgement, that we might understand what we ought to do.

And if it is wise to consult a multitude of counselors, of the common sort of folks which we may find around us, much more to consult the great men who walked the earth before us. It is no small privilege to be able to consult Bishops Hall and Henshaw, John Wesley and John Darby, C. H. Spurgeon and C. H. Mackintosh, R. A. Torrey and John W. Burgon----not as some silly people do, fearing to differ from these great men, who all differed from each other, but to gain some wisdom or insight which my own mind was not sufficient to discover. Some there are who poke fun at “picking dead men's brains,” but methinks this savors a good deal more of pride than of sense. Is thine own brain all-sufficient, that thou hast no need to pick another's? Two heads are better than one, no matter how bright the one, and how dull the other.

It will be plainly seen, then, that these proverbs----that from the Bible, and that which stands at the head of this article----are proverbs for the humble. The humble are glad to receive light from any quarter. The proud----who suppose their own heads not only superior to others, but sufficient of themselves, without any help from the inferior heads around them----these will often show themselves more foolish than the poor fools whom they despise. They will not only refuse to seek light from any head but their own, but worse still, if such light comes to them unsought, in the form of unasked advice or suggestion, reject it, because they did not think of it themselves. Such is the folly of pride.

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