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
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
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
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.
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
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
---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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
----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
----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
----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?
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
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
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
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
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Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
by the Editor
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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
----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
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
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
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
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
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
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.