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Vol. 9, No. 5
May, 2000

The Inspiration of the King James Version

by Glenn Conjurske

Is the King James Version inspired of God? Most certainly it is.

Is the King James Version the word of God? Most certainly it is.

To deny these things we must consign to perdition almost every English Christian for the past four centuries. “Of his own will,” says James, “begat he us with the word of truth.” (James 1:18). “From a child,” says Paul, “thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation,” and immediately adds, “All scripture is inspired of God.” Those Scriptures which make us wise unto salvation are certainly inspired of God, and it is an undoubted fact that most of my readers, as well as myself, were begotten again by the King James Version.

But some will say, No, only the originals are inspired of God. This is nonsense, and is the fruit of a technical mode of thinking, which always sets aside common sense. It must have everything unqualified and absolute. It can never pause but at one extreme or the other, so that on the question before us we have men on one side affirming that the King James Version is perfectly inspired, and men contending on the other side that it is not inspired at all. Both extremes are simply nonsense.

Yet men will ask, How can it be the word of God, if it isn't perfect? How can it be inspired of God, if it isn't perfect? Does God make mistakes? Has God given us a Bible with errors and imperfections in it? Thus do technical minds reason, and thus are simple minds mystified.

Yet they will not reason so in any other sphere. John Smith is a man. He may not be a perfect man. He may be missing an ear, or a foot, besides his appendix and tonsils. He may have scars and moles. He may be lame or paralyzed. He may be stupid, or wicked, yet we all allow him to be a man.

To come closer to home. John Smith is a child of God. He is born of God. Must he therefore be perfect? But we are told, Oh, but his new nature is perfect. Yet who can tell us what a “new nature” is? The term is never found in the Bible at all. “Ye,” the Bible says, “must be born again,” yet when ye are so born, ye are not perfect. “Ye,” the Bible says in II Peter 1:4, by the precious promises, “might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Yet “ye” are not perfect, for ye have not perfectly escaped the corruption that is in the world, but only characteristically so.

But we care little for such reasonings, and prefer the more direct route given above. If I am born again, then the King James Bible is “the word of truth,” and “holy Scripture,” and if so, then it is “inspired of God.”

But what will I do with the mistakes and errors in the King James Version? Ah, I will do the same with them that the apostle Paul did with the mistakes and errors in the Septuagint. Where they are minor, or irrelevant, not affecting the matter in hand, I will bear with them, and let them alone. Where they affect the matter in hand, I will correct them, or translate myself from the original.

So did Paul with the Septuagint. Meanwhile it is certain that he regarded it as the inspired word of God. It is to Timothy that Paul writes, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God”----and it is a virtual certainty therefore that the “scripture” to which Paul refers embraces the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the Bible of all the Greek-speaking Jews, as much as the King James Version has been of the English. It was not the originals which Timothy knew from a child, but a translation, and Paul affirms that that translation is “inspired of God.”

Nor was the Septuagint a perfect translation. Very far from it----certainly very far inferior to the King James Version. Yet it was the only Bible which the Grecian Jews knew. It proved itself to be the word of God, by making them “wise unto salvation,” and if any doubt of the fact remained, Paul settles it by declaring it “inspired of God.” Yet it were as great a folly to suppose the Septuagint perfectly inspired, as to suppose it not inspired at all. It is Holy Scripture which is inspired of God, whether in a translation or in the originals, and though man's rude hand may mar the work of God, he cannot eliminate it. He may mar the original text by corrupting it. He may mar a version by mistranslating it. In either case the word of God remains. It yet remains “the sword of the Spirit,” though it may be marred by a thousand nicks and scratches.

The beauty of a beautiful woman remains, though it be marred by painting and piercing and tattooing. The beauty is the creation of God. The marring is the work of man. Now we see both of these things in every translation of the Scriptures. An exceptionally good translation, such as the King James Version, contains but little of man's marring, and is essentially the word of God everywhere. A bad translation, such as the New International Version----the work of liberal and unspiritual men, mistaught and mistaken, with no proper reverence for the book they were translating----contains much more of the perverse work of man, and so presents the word of God in a more obscured and tainted form, yet the word of God remains. Yea, further, those versions which have been purposely corrupted in order to uphold some false doctrine or religion, such as the Roman Catholic Rheims Version, or the Jehovah's Witnesses' New World Translation, are yet the word of God, in precisely the same sense that the King James Version is, though it may not be in the same degree.

But the technical minds will ask, What then? Do you believe in degrees of inspiration? And I tell them, No, I only believe in common sense. I do not believe in degrees of divine inspiration, but I believe in degrees of human marring of the work of God. I believe in degrees of man's obscuring of the word of God. The beauty of a woman's face may be marred to one degree by her own painting, by which she aims to enhance the work of God. It may be marred to a much greater degree by a thug who beats and bruises and scars her. But there was no fault in the work of God in either case. The fact is, every gift of God is committed to man as a trust. Man has the responsibility to keep it pure, and the ability to corrupt it. All the advocates of a perfect version grant this, holding that one version only is exempt from the common corruption. But the doctrine of Scripture excludes any possibility for these notions of perfection.

Now the common sense for which I plead is nothing original with me. Indeed, it has been so common for so many centuries that there ought to be no occasion to insist upon it. It is only the shallow and technical mode of thinking of the present day which creates such an occasion. But what I hold today on this subject is precisely what was held four centuries ago by the makers of the King James Version. They never dreamed that their work was perfect, nor did they ever dream that it was not inspired of God. And what they claimed for their own translation, they granted also to every other, though recognizing that some versions were better than others. With their statement I close this article. I modernize the English, and add explanations where required.

Marked by the marginal reference “An answer to the imputations of our adversaries,” they write, “Now to the latter we answer, that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest [the very poorest] translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our [Protestant] profession (for we have seen none of theirs [Papists'] of the whole Bible as yet) containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God. As the King's speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian and Latin, is still the King's speech, though it be not interpreted by every translator with the like grace, nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, every where. For it is confessed, that things are to take their denomination of the greater part; and a natural man could say, Verùm vbi multa nitent in carmine, non ego paucis offendor maculis, &c. A man may be counted a virtuous man, though he have made many slips in his life, (else, there were none virtuous, for in many things we offend all) also a comely man and lovely, though he have some warts upon his hand, yea, not only freckles upon his face, but also scars. No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it.”

Observe: “things are to take their denomination of the greater part.” They are to be named, that is, according to that which prevails in them, and it is certain that the word of God is the greater part, vastly exceeding all human imperfections and corruptions, in every legitimate translation under the sun. The consequence is, “the very meanest”----the very poorest----”translation of the Bible in English”----and in Latin, French, and German----”containeth the word of God, nay, IS the word of God.” We would not venture to say the same of paraphrases, though even they may certainly be said to contain much of the word of God.

What I Have Against the Creation Science Movement

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on January 9, 2000

by Glenn Conjurske

You won't need your Bibles for this sermon, for I intend to speak this morning on an unscriptural and unspiritual subject. We had a brief discussion last night at the love feast about Creation Science, and I aim to tell you what I have against it.

For thirty years I have been generally opposed to what is called “apologetics,” and I see no reason to alter my stance now, but quite the contrary. It is not that I see no good at all in it. It may have some little use in some cases. In order to come to God, a man must first “believe that he is,” and if apologetics can secure that, well. But I do not believe that apologetics can secure it in most cases, for atheism and infidelity are not usually intellectual things, but expressions of the enmity of the heart to God. No apologetics will ever cure an ill-disposed heart. Yet it may be that here and there we might find some soul who is “not far from the kingdom of God”----not far from faith----some “honest atheist,” whose infidelity is purely the offspring of ignorance, and a little of apologetics may possibly do him some good.

Not that the same good could not be performed by a much shorter and better route. Perhaps thirty-five years ago, shortly after I was converted, I heard from the lips of Lou (or Lew?) Finney the following testimony. He had been an atheist, and loved to speak against the Bible. He was doing so at his work-place one day, when a Christian asked him if he had ever read the Bible. He was obliged to answer that he had not. The Christian told him he had better keep his mouth shut till he knew what he was talking about. He therefore determined to read the Bible----so that he could speak against it intelligently. He was converted in the eleventh chapter of Genesis. And this though there is nothing whatever in those chapters to prove the existence of God, nor to prove creation over evolution. The Bible only affirms, but does not prove. Ah! but the Bible is living and powerful. It is the nature of the book to bring God to the soul, and to bring the soul to God. Apologetics cannot do this.

For thirty years, then, I have stood generally against apologetics, for these two reasons: it is unnecessary to faith, and ineffectual to unbelief.

Unnecessary, ineffectual, and unspiritual too. Alas, precisely because it is unspiritual, it exactly suits the unspiritual intellectualism of the modern church. I believe it owes its present popularity to nothing more than to the unspiritual intellectualism which now prevails in the church. The content of Creation Science is almost wholly unspiritual. It feeds the mind, but not the soul, and constitutes generally a great misuse of the precious book of Genesis. The book of Genesis is overflowing with deep and precious spiritual truth----such as you might find rehearsed in my articles on Leah and Rachel and Joseph, wrestling Jacob, and Moses in the back side of the desert----but all this is missed by these unspiritual intellectuals. Some study this precious book, and find little more in it than a chart of the dispensations. Others study it, and find only ethnology. Others find no more than an occasion for Creation Science. They walk on acres of diamonds, and see only dull, brown stones. Such is modern intellectualism.

This much we may say even of what is true in Creation Science. But the fact is, the present movement has mixed this truth with a great load of unproved and improbable theories, and all this mass of theory is held as sacred as the truth which the system contains. In all this I can see no appreciable difference between the Creation Scientists and the Evolutionists. They each have their own catch-all, by means of which they wiggle out of every difficulty. With the Evolutionists it is hundreds of millions of years----not that they ever explain how hundreds of millions of years can work miracles, or do the impossible. With the Creationists it is always the Genesis flood----not that they can ever satisfactorily explain how the flood could cut the Grand Canyon. I would rather profess my ignorance on such points, though in truth I am no more ignorant than they are. It is a great mistake, too, to suppose that we must understand all the physical phenomena of the universe in order to believe the Bible, or in order to defend it. We don't understand everything, and we don't need to.

But this “flood theology,” as I call it, is a regular passion with many, with very little of reason in it. Many foolish things are postulated on these theories, such as that wine did not ferment before the flood. By this means they think to exonerate Noah in his drunkenness. He did not know the wine was fermented, did not know it would make him drunk. But such theories require a creative energy at the flood, which changed the nature of the creation which already existed----changed the nature of either the grape juice or the organisms which ferment it----and we know no such thing. We do believe there was a creative operation at the fall of man, which supernaturally altered the existing creation. Scripture requires us to believe this, but to affirm the same of the time of the flood may amount to too much conjecture with too little reason. The earth was “canopied” with water vapor before the flood, they tell us, as if that had anything to do with the matter. It no doubt was so canopied, and it still is. Wine ferments on cloudy days as well as sunny, in the dark as well as the light, and we suppose it would ferment on the moon or Mars, if the temperature were right. If the earth was any otherwise canopied then than it is now, there must have been some creative alteration in the air, the water, the force of gravity, or all three. Perhaps there was, but this is a theory----a deduction----and not a whit more probable than the “gap theory.” They might both be true----and they might not. We know that “when there was not a man to till the ground,” “the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth,” but we do not know that such a state of things prevailed until the flood, or after the fall of man. Perhaps----but we would rather profess our ignorance, than dogmatically insist upon what may not be true.

But this passion for explaining everything by the flood is no new thing. Whitcomb and Morris may have popularized it----may have popularized the whole Creation Science movement----but it was no new thing with them. Harry Rimmer was up to his ears in this three generations ago. He wrote several books on it, and he and W. B. Riley carried on sundry debates on the subject. Rimmer calls Riley “the father of Fundamentalism,” which is saying too much, but he was certainly one of its most prominent leaders in his day. Just this morning I was reading Riley's book entitled My Bible, and quite providentially came across a statement (on pages 93-94) which well illustrates whither this passion for “flood theology” will carry men. After the manner of a cheer leader, he was making point after point against the critics of the Bible. His fourth point is this:

“Pennsylvania has been justly proud of Dr. Woolley. As an archeologist, he has few equals and no superiors. His work of uncovering Ur of the Chaldees is known to all the scholars of the world. While he was about it, he reached one day, perfectly clean clay, uniform, and his workmen announced they had come to the bottom of everything----to the river silt. But Woolley said, 'Dig on.” They went down through this clean clay for more than eight feet, when suddenly they struck a layer of rubbish full of stone implements and pottery. To their amazement Woolley, when they took it up, said, 'There is no doubt this was laid down by the flood of the Sumerian history'----the flood of Noah's story. Point four!

“Most unfortunate for the critics!”

Most unfortunate, I rather think, for the reputation of W. B. Riley. The foolishness of this is transparent on its face. Do men never think? By this theory, when God spoke to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, and said to him, “Get thee out,” Abram must have said, “This is just what I wanted to hear. I have wanted to get out of this place for a long time!”----and so proceeded to dig his way up through the eight feet of clay under which Noah's flood had buried “Ur of the Chaldees.” For it is beyond all doubt that Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldees long after Noah's flood----and it is equally evident that there was no Ur, and no Chaldees, before the flood.

Now we suggest that if Mr. Riley had been as intent upon the knowledge of the truth, as he was on making “Point four!” against the critics, he would not have fallen into so egregious an error, and we suggest the same thing concerning the improbable theories of the modern adherents of this “flood theology.” We believe, of course, in the flood, but we decline to believe in every far-fetched theory which modern Creationists tack on to it. We believe, moreover, that the cause of truth is much weakened by such tactics. The Creationists cheer, while the Evolutionists laugh. If they would stick to essentials, and content themselves with what is infallibly true, there might be some little use in their efforts, but when they cumber the truth with a load of unproved and improbable theories, they only weaken the cause for which they stand. We do not need to believe in “the young earth” to believe the Bible. We do not need to reconcile the difficulties in the Bible itself, much less the difficulties between the Bible and what calls itself science. Either the universe is very old, or God created it on purpose to appear very old. Why would he do this? To deceive? Was he a Simonides, writing new manuscripts, and making them appear ancient? These “young earth” theories tax my faith far more than the alternative, but I leave the matter just where the Bible leaves it----I speak advisedly----among the secret things which belong to the Lord our God. God at any rate needs no defense from me.

But this movement weakens the cause in another manner also. Whatever may be said of the substance of this teaching, its spirit is certainly harmful. I am content to question its theories, and to profess my ignorance, but its spirit I must vigorously oppose. I shall have more to say of that by and by. I believe the spirit of the movement positively harmful, but for the moment I only insist that it is as ineffectual as it is unspiritual.

We vastly prefer the spiritual method of Harry Ironside. He was preaching, in his early days, in the streets in California, when an infidel approached him and challenged him to a debate. Ironside accepted the challenge, but only on one condition. He told the infidel that he must bring to the debate one drunkard, one bum, one immoral man, who had been reformed by the principles of infidelity, while he, on his part, would bring a hundred of such, who had been reclaimed by the gospel. He heard no more about the debate with the infidel.

But I tell you, the Creation Science movement fills the hands of the saints with carnal weapons, which are as ineffectual as they are unnecessary. They are not “mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds.” The word of God is. It is none of my business to prove that the sword of the Spirit is a true sword, nor to prove by intellectual arguments that it is sharp. My business is to use it. In the right hands, it will prove itself. I recall a story I heard a third of a century ago, when I was a student at the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music. Mr. John Miles, the president of the school, told of his dealing with a girl in a bus station. She professed infidel principles, and made infidel objections to all that he said. He chose one apt verse of Scripture (and I cannot remember what it was), and simply quoted it to her. She came back with another infidel argument, and again he quoted his verse. She responded as before, and again he quoted his verse. This went on for some time, till at length she broke down, and submitted herself to the claims of Christ. If he had met her on her own ground, they would be arguing yet. And here lies the fundamental error of the Creation Science movement. It meets unbelief on its own ground. It fights with carnal weapons.

It loses the battle, too, for in fact it does not so much as know where or what the battle is. It fights the battle on the ground of reason, assuming that unbelief is an intellectual thing. But in fact, unbelief is a moral thing, a thing which exists in the will and the emotions, not merely in the intellect. The truth is, there is light enough all around men----light enough within them----to render every Evolutionist, every infidel, every pagan without excuse. They reject that light----close their eyes to it----and are they now likely to receive the light which these Creationists dig out of the earth, or the theories which they spin out of their own brains? And supposing they do receive it, to make an intellectual convert will not save a soul. We may convert the mind and leave the heart still devoted to its lusts. We may convert the intellect and leave the man still at war with his conscience, whereas if we move a man to submit to the claims of conscience, the intellect will be converted of course. Infidelity and every fundamental error, as Charles G. Finney testifies, give way before conviction of sin, but we do not convict a man of sin by proving a universal flood, and we can convict him of sin without proving it.

When we convert a man's intellect, we leave him far short of even the faith of devils. They believe there is one God, and tremble. He believes there is one God, and does not tremble. If we so far move his mind as to cause him to believe in God, and so far move his emotions as to cause him to tremble, then we have given him the faith of devils. But if he has all this, and holds yet to his sins, he is no more converted than the devils. We want something more than this. We want the preaching of the offense of the cross, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and when we see a whole movement devoted to these things which are unspiritual and ineffectual, we say something is seriously amiss.

But I proceed to speak of the spirit of this movement. To convert a man's intellect to the truth is one matter; to infuse into him a spirit of intellectualism is quite another. The former may be of some use. The latter is a great calamity. But I believe that the Creation Science movement will certainly do the latter long before it does the former. The Bible says in Matthew 18:3, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But the unspiritual intellectualism of the Creation Science movement does not make little children of men, but quite the reverse----and if so, it must remove them farther from God, not bring them nearer to him. I open The Genesis Flood, by Whitcomb and Morris, and read on the first page (of my edition), “THE GENESIS FLOOD presents a new and powerful system for unifying and correlating scientific data bearing on the earth's early history. Frankly recognizing the inadequacies of uniformitarianism and evolutionism as unifying principles, the authors propose a Biblically-based system of creationism and catastrophism. They stress the philosophic and scientific necessity of the doctrine of 'creation of apparent age,' as well as the importance in terrestrial history of geologic and hydrologic 'catastrophes,'...”----and I say, Enough! Enough! Can anyone conceive that 500 pages of this will leave a man with the spirit of a little child? Give me Sam Hadley. Give me Gipsy Smith. Give me Moses, but not this! And this “new and powerful system,” by the way, must in the nature of the case be totally unnecessary. If “new,” John Wesley and D. L. Moody knew nothing of it----but what they did know was by all means more “powerful.”

And I believe there is another grave defect, a moral defect, at the very foundation of this movement. The offense of the cross is precisely what it does not want. It aims at respectability. It dislikes the reproach of Christ. It does not care to labor under the reproach of the apostles, that they were “unlearned and ignorant men.” It wants recognition in the intellectual world. Fundamentalists have long been the butt of the ridicule of the intellectual world, and they have gotten tired of it. But that reproach gave them a perfect opportunity to display the power of God, as the apostles did under the same reproach. But no, they must regain their intellectual respectability, and extricate themselves from the reproach which attaches to the profession of the truth of God. So they must have doctor's degrees, and Creation Science. This is the real foundation of the whole Neo-evangelical movement, and I believe it plays a large part in the Creation Science movement also. Moses counted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt. This modern unspiritual intellectualism counts the reproach of Christ no riches at all, but seeks by all means to wipe it off, and secure the esteem of Egypt in its stead. We think if these folks had imbibed the spirit of Moses, instead of theorizing and digging in the earth to try to defend him, they would have another viewpoint, and be engaged in another business.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


Better untaught than ill taught.

A great deal better, we think. The untaught receive the truth with ease, where it is a desperate struggle to force a ray of light into the minds of the ill taught. When once a system of error is established in the mind, that mind becomes practically immune to the truth. It sees all through a false medium----judges all by false premises----weighs all by false maxims----determines all by false assumptions. The whole of that false system must be dismantled bit by bit ere ever the truth can be established in its place, and this is generally the work of a long time, and of many a hard battle.

Another proverb affirms that “Youth and white paper take any impression.” And who would not rather write on a blank sheet of white paper, than to attempt to pen our thoughts on a piece of paper already filled with someone else's writing? In the latter case, we must first erase what was written before, and this will prove a great deal more difficult than to write our own thoughts. Nor will we ever quite remove the old writing, for a trace of the old will remain, for all our rubbing. And all this is a very fit emblem of trying to teach the ill taught. To get what is true into their heads, we must get the false out, and this may prove much more difficult than erasing an old writing.

Youth are like white paper precisely because they are untaught. How easy to infuse the truth into a mind which has not been previously corrupted and puffed up by an air-tight system of error.

But we do not think it necessarily difficult to teach the mistaught. Where they are humble and hungry, the error which they have imbibed may actually expedite their reception of truth. They may have long struggled in the net of error----may have long sought the light to which their system of error blinded them----and the very contrast between the error which they hold and the truth which they hear may move them to embrace the latter. It comes to them as light in the darkness, as fresh air to a dank dungeon. All this, if they are humble and hungry.

But here lies the great difficulty. On what planet shall we find an ill taught man who is either humble or hungry? They all suppose they know the truth, and probably suppose that they alone know it. Their reputation is bound up with their system of error, for they have diligently taught it to others. This contributes to their pride, and there will be no dismantling of their system of error without at the same dismantling their pride----and there is no more delicate nor difficult task on earth than this.

And as these systems of error work to augment pride and destroy humility, so they work to destroy hunger also. The man who thinks he knows has no hunger to learn. He has ceased to think----ceased to wrestle with difficulties----ceased to thirst for light. Worse still, he has a pat answer or shallow maxim with which to dispel every ray of light which would seek to penetrate the darkness of his mind. Every system of error is just the same in this, whether it be Calvinism, antinomianism, ultradispensationalism, or a host of more specific errors, from the King James Only doctrines, to hyperspiritual notions of courtship, to deeper life doctrines, to Baptist successionism, to making head coverings the test of spirituality. Those who hold these various systems may be poles apart in other things, but one thing they all have in common. They are all sure that their erroneous or distorted systems are the truth. The truth itself can make but little impression upon them till their false systems are dismantled, and this we will generally find to be “like pulling teeth.” We will likely find also that they have more teeth than we thought possible, and some of them sharper than we care to meddle with.

What wisdom do we need to teach the truth of God in such a day as this, when the church of God is ill taught on a thousand themes, and when hunger and humility are as rare as four-leaf clovers. And how we long to unfold the simple beauties of truth to humble, hungry hearts, without controversy. This we may do with the untaught, but hardly with the ill taught.

R. A. Torrey on the Terms of Salvation

[Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) was in my estimation the greatest of the Fundamentalists. He was the successor of D. L. Moody in world-wide evangelism, and one of the most successful evangelists of all time. He was the first superintendent of the Moody Bible Institute, and afterwards held the same position at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles. The reader may observe from the copyright dates of the books quoted that the following statements cover virtually the whole of Torrey's evangelistic career, though he lived and labored during a time when Fundamentalism in general was being swept away by the antinomian doctrines of C. I. Scofield and his disciples. ----editor.]

God tells us plainly in His Word that He is willing to forgive any sinner that lives, no matter how deep down he has gone, if he will only turn from sin and turn to Him; and He will forgive him the very moment he does so. Of course, God cannot forgive a man while he holds on to his sin, and retain His own moral character.

I have a boy. I love that boy, and I would give a great deal to see him now. I believe there is nothing that boy could do but, if he repented and turned from it, I would forgive him. But I could not forgive him if he held on to his evil way. I could continue to love him and seek to save him, but I could not forgive him. And God cannot forgive us, and remain what He is----a holy God----until we are ready to quit our sin. But the moment we are, He will have mercy upon us, and He will abundantly pardon. If the wickedest man or woman in Edinburgh should have come in to-night----and I hope they have----and should here and now turn from sin, the moment they did so, God would blot out every sin they ever committed.
----Revival Addresses, by R. A. Torrey; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., (copyright 1903), pg. 20.

But why will not men come to Christ? There are many things that keep them from coming.

1. The first one is sin. I believe that sin is keeping more men and women from coming to Christ than almost anything else. There are a great many men in this world who know their need of a Saviour, who long for a Saviour, who have a deep desire to take the Lord Jesus Christ, but they know if they come to Him they must leave their sins behind. A man cannot come to Christ and retain his sin. You have to choose between Jesus Christ and sin.
----ibid., pg. 185.

There is but one way to escape hell, that is, by the acceptance of Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, surrender to Him as your Lord and Master, open confession of Him before the world, and a life of obedience demonstrating your faith.
----Real Salvation and Whole-Hearted Service, by R. A. Torrey, New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., (copyright 1905), pp. 55-56.

God is doing everything in His power to bring you men and women to repentance. Of course, He cannot save you if you will not repent. You can have salvation if you want to be saved from sin, but sin and salvation can never go together. There are people who talk about a scheme of salvation whereby man can continue in sin and yet be saved. It is impossible.
----ibid., pg. 58.

God stands ready in His love to pardon the sins of the vilest sinner. There are two things and only two which in His love He demands as a condition of that pardon. They are, first, that we forsake our sins; second, that we turn to Him in faith and surrender to His will.
----The Gospel for Today, by R. A. Torrey. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., (copyright 1922), pg. 37.

The gospel says: first, that “Jesus Christ died for our sins,” believe that, believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins; and trust God to forgive you because Jesus Christ died in your place. The gospel says: second, that “Jesus Christ was raised from the dead,” believe that; and trust this risen Saviour, Who has all power in Heaven and on earth, to deliver you from the power of sin. So much as to what to believe. Then do what the gospel tells you to do, confess Jesus Christ before the world. As this same Paul puts it in Rom. 10:9,10, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation;” and also confess your renunciation of sin and your acceptance of Christ as your personal Saviour, by being baptized in His name. THE REFUSAL OR NEGLECT TO OBEY THE GOSPEL, BY NOT BELIEVING WHAT IT SAYS AND BY NOT DOING WHAT IT COMMANDS, LEADS TO CERTAIN PERDITION.”
----How to Be Saved and How to Be Lost, by R. A. Torrey. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., (copyright 1923), pg. 161.

There are a great many in this world who think it is necessary to have a certain amount of conviction of sin before they can accept Christ. God forbid that I should even seem to say anything against conviction of sin. I believe in conviction of sin. I like to see people under deep conviction of sin, just as they were on the day of Pentecost, but I do not read in my Bible that any person must have a certain amount of sorrow for sin before they can accept Jesus Christ. What my Bible tells me is that, What we must do to gain pardon, is to forsake sin, not shed tears over it. I read in Isa. 55:7: “Let the wicked forsake his way (forsake it, mind you, not shed tears over it), and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” You will notice that it does not say we are to feel sorry for our sins, but to quit our sins. I have seen people apparently very sorry for sin. I have seen them shed tears and groan and sob and yet not forsake their sins; and they were not saved. I have seen a man fall prostrate on the floor and lie there rigid and then sob and shake over his sins, but he would not accept Christ and he was not saved. I have seen others who never shed a single tear, but who turned from their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and who surrendered to Him as their Lord, and they were saved.
----Soul-Winning Sermons, by R. A. Torrey; New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., (copyright 1925), pp. 216-217.


n Book Review n

by Glenn Conjurske


The Story of Lizzie L. Johnson, Twenty Years a Shut-In
by Francis Wesley Warne.
New York/Cincinnati: The Abingdon Press, n.d., copyright 1927, 122 pp.

I would have read this book through in a single sitting, except that I began it in the evening, and therefore could not finish it before bed-time. I took it up, however, and finished it, as soon as I got up in the morning.

It is hard to review such a book as this. In reading it we felt ourselves on holy ground. Yet we must distinguish between the book and the story which it contains. In its story we see such a display of the grace of God, such a display of human suffering and disappointment, such a display of moral courage and heroism, and such a display of the victory of faith, that we can only stand in awe----or weep and sob, as we frequently did in the reading of it.

The book, however, is not altogether equal to the story which it contains. The author inserts several doctrinal dissertations on pain, painlessness, etc., which had been better left out. They are a distraction. On the other hand, he must have had access to a great abundance of letters to and from Lizzie, incidents from her sick-room, etc., which would have been of extreme interest and value, but these are left out.

But I turn from the book to “The Story of Lizzie Johnson,” which it contains. The book relates that this story was in its time a great inspiration to Christians around the world, and yet all this is lost to the present generation. I cannot consider myself ignorant of the heritage of the church----am certainly more knowledgeable than most of my contemporaries, especially where Methodism is concerned----and yet I never heard of Lizzie Johnson till a couple of weeks ago, when I saw this book advertised in a used book catalogue. Now it seems to me that the cheerful devotedness of this girl, and her heroic labors for the cause of Christ, under the most extreme sufferings, are worthy of a permanent memorial in the hearts of God's people till the end of time. If the sacrifice of Mary “shall be spoken of for a memorial of her”----”wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world”----how much more ought the sacrifices of Lizzie Johnson. It is a very great shame that such a story should be lost to the church, and I therefore do what little I can to revive it, so to add what I can to the efficacy of such a life as hers was, and, as I delight to think, so to repay her a little better for all her sufferings. It is not likely that many of my readers will ever see this book, but I give them her story.

Lizzie Johnson lived her life in Casey, Illinois, where she was born to Methodist parents in 1869. She lived a normal and happy life till the age of almost 13. At that time, in 1882----shortly after she had joined the church----she was taken with an incurable affection of the spine, which gradually deprived her of her strength and the use of her limbs, so that after a few years she was confined to her bed. Here she lay for about twenty years, unable even to lift her head from her pillow, till she died in 1909, at the age of 40. Her illness occupied twenty-seven of her forty years. For the first eight of them it was her passion to be well, and all the best physicians in the land were consulted, with the result that she grew nothing better, but rather worse. At that point, after a severe struggle, she yielded up her will to God, said “Not my will, but thine be done,” resigned herself to a life of suffering, and went immediately to work to raise money for the work of Christ.

Here was a girl just entering her teen years, who passionately loved life----music, nature, friends----gradually reduced to the state of an invalid. “To be ill from year's end to year's end,” she writes, “to suffer continuously, to take heroic medical treatment without relief, to see opportunities pass, to have ambitions crushed, aspirations blighted, to be useless and dependent on others, are conditions that can be appreciated by those only who have had the actual experience. I, who write these words, suffered such experience for many, to me, long years.” (pg. 38).

“Many days,” her sister writes, “we have heard her cry all day long because she could not be well and be as her companions and those with whom she came in contact.” (pg. 29). Her disappointments were keen and many. As one example, she was taken to a prominent physician in St. Louis, but it was soon evident that he could do nothing for her. “Words can never express the deep disappointment I suffered as we started home without a ray of hope. I was glad it was late in the evening when we arrived home and time to retire immediately, for I was so weary, so sick, so disappointed, I could hardly repress my emotion until I could get to my room, where I threw my weary body on the bed, buried my head in my pillow and gave vent to my feelings in a flood of tears. Weeping myself to sheer exhaustion I fell asleep. When I woke in the morning I again wept violently.” (pg. 32).

Not only was she gradually prostrated and incapacitated by her illness, but in severe and constant pain also.

Now if my readers will join me in putting off their shoes, I will proceed to the holy ground of her resignation.

“As my love for my Master increased, my fierce determination to recover my health subsided somewhat. I tried to be reconciled to my affliction. I wanted to be submissive to my Lord's will and accept what came from his hands, yet a great longing to be free from suffering persisted and was almost overwhelming at times, and my religious experience was not satisfactory.

“Vivid in my mind is the memory of a night when weariness, nervousness, and headache prevented sleep. I felt as I had on previous occasions, a sincere sorrow of soul, a keen sense of sin, a need of Jesus as my personal Saviour. As I prayed this question came, 'Are you willing to consent to a life of suffering?' The question was a trying one. At that moment my desire to be released from suffering, to be strong and independent was fairly consuming. Must I consent to such a lot? my heart cried out. 'Are you willing?' came the answer clear and strong. The struggle was hard indeed, but my heart yielded and I was able to say, 'Yes, Lord, if it be thy will.' Rebellion fled from my heart, joy filled my soul, sweet sleep came. When I woke in the morning everything and everybody looked different to me. My soul was light in the Lord, my heart had in it a new hope, my life a new purpose. It seemed a new sun had risen shedding forth an effulgency of grace and beauty. Truly the dawning of the light maketh all things new. From that night in May, 1890, the night I answered 'Yes' to God, I date my victory.” (pp. 41-42).

Her sister writes, “After her complete consecration and unconditional surrender to God's will for her life, she lost her sorrowful tendency and saw the cheerfulness of living. Really, she became the most mirthful one in the home, pleasing and entertaining in conversation and quick and delightful in repartee. She was so entertaining and interesting that all children loved to come into her room and chat a while. Those who labored daily found in her a helpful companion and those of the higher walks of life never left her room without realizing that she had given them something from which they might greatly profit.” (pg. 29).

More importantly, all her energies which had been poured into the consuming passion to get well were now given to the work of Christ. But what could an invalid do, confined to her bed, unable even to lift her head? She had yet some use of her hands, and she determined to make a quilt, sell it, and give the proceeds to the work of missions. She worked incessantly for six months on this quilt, sewing by hand, of course, her mother holding the pieces so she could sew them----every stitch put in with pain. She was so weak she would sometimes have to make three attempts before she could get her needle through the cloth. She would work till she was exhausted, rest a while, and then work again.

She finished the quilt, but this gave birth to what was perhaps her greatest disappointment. Her work lay unsold for fourteen years, no one showing any interest in it. After fourteen years the author of this book, a missionary in India, being in America for a Methodist Conference, was advised by about twenty different people to visit her ere he returned to India. He did so, and heard the story of her quilt. He told her he would sell it for her. He took it, but instead of selling it, took it to his meetings, told her story, and asked the people to lay their offerings on it. He thus raised $600, then returned the quilt to her, and returned himself to India. The quilt was yet unsold when Lizzie died, and her father and sister determined to give it to the author, as he was the only one who had ever showed any interest in it. He took it and used it as he had before, raising an estimated $100,000 for missions.

Meanwhile, Lizzie was not idle. While her quilt lay unsold, she conceived the idea of selling silk bookmarks to raise money for missions. She bought the silk, chose Scripture texts and poems, and hired a printer to print them. She then began a vigorous correspondence to sell them, and by this means, in the years of suffering that remained to her, raised $20,000 for the work of Christ. Her pain and weakness were extreme, but she never flagged. “...the work pressed me constantly. The business was growing steadily, and as a natural consequence the work in connection with it increased accordingly. Some days I almost fainted into insensibility under the great amount of work that fell to my hands. Occasionally I became a little discouraged and was often very ill from over exertion. On recovery I would press on with renewed courage.” (pg. 62).

Again, “My work is heavy and has been so for weeks. I work far beyond my strength daily and suffer much during the night from overwork, then begin afresh in the morning. Yet I love to do it and am thankful for the opportunity of working.” (pg. 116).

At one point she lost her voice for six months, but continued her work. “During that period of silence she prayed that she might live until she had sent for foreign missionary work $20,000.” She prayed in faith, and received the assurance that her prayer would be answered. “So after four years more of pain, one night, early in September, 1909, when alone, she made up her accounts, which showed that she had sent exactly $20,000. The next morning, when her father entered her room with her mail and to adjust her writing desk, Lizzie held up her emaciated, almost transparent hands, and said, 'God has kept his promise. I have sent my $20,000. My work is done. Take all out of my room.”

'Then she continued: 'Father, bend down close to me so you can hear.' Then twining her arms about his neck, she said: 'You have been so good to me and made so many sacrifices for me, and you would lovingly continue so to do, but I'm going home now. O that you could go with me! We would fly away together and see mother and Jesus. Do not weep, father, for it is sweet to die and go home.”

'Her doctor was called and her father has recorded that:'I was standing by her bedside with the doctor. She was suffering intensely. She looked at the doctor and asked if she was going to die. He said, “Yes, Lizzie, you must die.” She asked how soon. “Will I live another week?” The doctor replied, “No, Lizzie, it may not be twenty-four hours.” She turned her eyes quickly and sweetly to me, her face lighting up as she said, “Oh, how sweet! Oh, how sweet!” Those were her last words on earth and soon Lizzie was with her Lord.”' (pp. 119-120).


Hyperspirituality and the Use of Means

by Glenn Conjurske

One of the common manifestations of hyperspirituality is its slighting or condemning of means, as though they were an illegitimate substitute for the true work of God, or as though the use of means were indicative of a lack of trust in God. The unspiritual use whatever means come to hand, and trust in those means, as though there were no God. The hyperspiritual stand at the opposite extreme, trusting in God alone, looking to God alone, as though the means which he has created are some way derogatory to his own glory. The spiritual stand upon the middle ground of truth, using all the means which God has given, thanking God for them, trusting in their efficacy to accomplish those things for which God has designed them, and trusting God all the while, knowing full well that he may thwart the workings of the most efficacious of means, or accomplish his purposes without any means at all, should he see fit. “The race is not” always “to the swift, nor the battle” necessarily “to the strong, neither yet bread” inevitably “to the wise, nor yet riches” invariably “to men of understanding, nor yet favour” certainly “to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.” (Eccl. 9:11). And beside time and chance, there is a God in heaven, who may over-rule the most efficacious of means at his pleasure. Yet ordinarily the race is to the swift, the battle ordinarily to the strong, and so forth. Men may therefore use means with confidence, and usually find success in them.

“There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, ...to deliver their soul from death.” (Ps. 33:16-19). Thus are men dissuaded from a vain confidence in means, without God, but surely this is no warrant to refuse the use of such means, nor to decline to trust them under God. The same Bible which warns us not to trust in the strength of the horse tells us in Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” That is, where the means are absent, the end is not gained. “The crib is clean”----clean empty, that is. There is no grain in it. But where the means are used, there is much increase----for the means which God has created are actually effectual for the purposes for which they are made. The strength of the ox actually produces much increase.

David would not trust Saul's armor, for he had not tried it, yet that could make no manner of difference, if his trust was wholly in the Lord, irrespective of the means. He did trust his sling and stones, for he had tried them. He trusted in the means themselves, and therefore could brook no jagged stones, but went to the brook for smooth ones, such as would fly straight, and so were actually suited to the matter in hand. And he must have five of them, to be well furnished with means, in case several of his stones should fail of their mark----yet his confidence all the while was in the Lord. He did not trust the means without the Lord, nor the Lord without the means.

The unspiritual and the ungodly use means, and trust in them, as though there were no Creator, and such a use of means is generally effective for the purposes for which they are employed, for God has created the powers and properties which lie in the means, and those means are therefore effectual for the ends which those powers will naturally secure. Fire is actually hot, and will actually burn, whether we believe in its Creator or not. Wind will blow away the chaff, whether we acknowledge God or not. Mint or chamomile tea will actually relieve a stomach ache, in the godly or the ungodly, and with or without prayer. “Iron” actually “sharpeneth iron” (Prov. 27:17), if properly applied, whether we trust its Creator or not. In the natural course of things, wood will always burn when subjected to heat enough, burning wood will surely heat an oven, and a heated oven will without fail bake a potato. Yea, some have learned that iron is a better conductor of heat than a potato is, and so have discovered that their potato will bake so much the faster with a spike poked through it. This is wisdom. It is wisdom to understand the various powers and properties which reside in those things which God has created, so as to know how to employ them to accomplish our ends. And of course it is wisdom to use those means, and the most consummate folly to think to accomplish our ends without them. It is to just such wisdom that Christ refers when he says, in Luke 16:8, that “the children of this world are wiser in their own kind than the children of light.” The children of this world know how to employ proper means to accomplish their ends----in their own sphere.

But by this the Lord plainly implies that there is another sphere----a higher sphere----which belongs to the children of light, and he plainly implies that means are to be used there also, that means will be found to be effectual there also, and that there is a wisdom which finds out those means and uses them. Here lies spiritual wisdom. Some of that wisdom is spelled out for us explicitly in the Bible. As “Iron sharpeneth iron,” when properly applied----for it will dull it in a hurry otherwise, as they all know who have ever cut a nail with a newly sharpened saw----”so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.” All this is wisdom, explicitly spelled out to us in the Bible.

But there is much more which is not taught us so explicitly. It lies as gold, buried deep in the mountain. It must be dug out, by study, by experience, and by meditation----dug out of the stores of both Scripture and nature. It consists of understanding what means to employ to gain our ends, in a higher sphere than baking potatoes. Solomon employed such wisdom when he proposed to divide the harlot's infant. He understood the mother's heart, which is the creation of God, and he knew that heart to be the same in all women, even in harlots. And the means which he employed proved quite effectual for the accomplishment of his end.

But here hyperspirituality steps in, possessed by the mistaken notion that in using the means which God has created, we somehow dishonor the God who created them. God must be all. We must trust wholly and solely to him. To use means is unbelief. “God is my physician.” To use medicine is to distrust and dishonor him. “The Lord is my shepherd.” To look to a man for counsel or instruction, to follow the leading of a man, is to dishonor the Lord.

And hyperspirituality can almost always quote Scripture for its wayward notions----and quote it too in such a manner as to make true faith and spirituality appear to be the most carnal unbelief. According to its own nature, hyperspirituality presses its own favorite scriptures in an extreme or absolute sense, which sets aside means, and nature, and Scripture, and common sense, and in the most pious manner conceivable makes God to be all in all! This is telling. This is taking. This upsets the equilibrium of simple souls. The Bible says, “ye need not that any man teach you.” Fie then upon pastors, teachers, books, and sermons. “Ye need not” such fleshly means----”need not that any man teach you,” at any time, for any reason, for “the same anointing teacheth you of all things.” Thus do the extreme notions of the hyperspiritual press certain scriptures to an unwarranted and unwholesome extreme----and how pious! how full of faith does all this appear!----but it is always as much at the expense of other scriptures, as it is at the expense of common sense.

“The Lord is my shepherd,” say these hyperspiritual souls, and what do I want with a man to lead me? But the plain fact remains that God has given men to be shepherds, and to refuse to follow the shepherds which the Lord has given is to dishonor the Lord who gave them.

And here it will be proper to point out that hyperspirituality is almost always riddled with pride. It is not faith which exalts one scripture at the expense of another. It is not faith which claims that it needs no shepherd to follow, but precisely pride. It is faith in self, not faith in God. Faith in God would gladly receive the gifts which he has given. If the Lord has given gifts to men, and if among those gifts are shepherds and teachers, then faith will receive those gifts with gratitude, and make the most of them. It is pride which thinks to do without them, and while it appears to honor the Lord, by making him all in all, it in fact dishonors the Giver by slighting his gifts. On this plan Abraham might have said, What need have I of the womb of Sarah, when I have the promise of God? And we might all say, What need to plow and plant, when God promises to feed us?

But hyperspirituality comes in varying degrees. In its more extreme forms it will dispense with spiritual means, and put the direct supernatural or miraculous working of God in the place of all the means which he has ordained. Such are they that will not preach the gospel, or invite men to come to Christ, lest they take the work out of the hands of God. Such are they who will make no endeavor to convict men of their sins, since that is the work of the Holy Spirit, or labor for revival, since that is the work of God, and must be sovereignly bestowed. Calvinism is often at fault here.

But surely not Calvinism alone. It is not Calvinists only who decline the use of human ministries----as pastors and books and sermons----in order that they make the Lord alone their pastor and teacher. Nor Calvinists alone who decline to hearken to human reason----or carnal reason, as they are pleased to call it----in order to maintain their own folly and superstition, under the pious names of faith or spiritual intuition. Some will think to preach without study----and indeed, to teach without knowing anything----expecting the Spirit of God to fill their mouths when they open them. Some will even reject prayer, or prayer for certain things. The Bible says (they will tell us), that “your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things,” and what have we to do with the carnal reason which would have us inform the Almighty of what he knows better than we do? Thus do they press to the most unwarranted extremes every scripture which exalts the divine and the supernatural over the human and the natural.

Such is the way of the extreme form of hyperspirituality, which refuses the use of spiritual means, in order to pay an ill-advised honor to God himself. But there is a milder----and more common----form, which sets aside natural means, in order to replace them with spiritual. Some refuse to use physicians or medicines, but must treat all their diseases by prayer and faith. It is in the realm of faith that hyperspirituality goes most often astray, thinking to obtain all by faith which ought to be gained by labor and by the use of means. Various doctrines of faith, as well as “faith movements” and “faith missions,” have been much at fault here. A B. Simpson writes, “Faith by its very nature is always weakened by a mixture of man's works. If it has a human twig to lean on it will lean harder on it than on God's mightiest words. It must therefore have God only.

“To combine the omnipotence of Jesus with a dose of mercury, is like trying to go upstairs by the elevator and the stairs at the same moment or harnessing an ox with a locomotive.” He might have added, like combining “a little wine for thy stomach's sake” with the power of Almighty God.

Hudson Taylor, the founder of the China Inland Mission----a “faith mission,” so called----had strong hyperspiritual tendencies, which manifested themselves in various ways. Such, for example, was his belief that it was somehow beneath proper spiritual experience to thirst for his wife after she had died, for the Lord had said, “he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” Thus does hyperspirituality strive----and Hudson Taylor did not find this easy----to quell and squelch the human and the natural. In so doing, however, it elevates itself to a plane of spirituality more spiritual than that of Christ, who wept at the tomb of Lazarus.

Thus did Hudson Taylor press his favorite text to an extreme which must impugn the spirituality of Christ himself. On this text he wrote, “'If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink.' Who does not thirst? Who has not mind-thirsts or heart-thirsts, soul-thirsts or body-thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all----'Come unto me and' remain thirsty? Ah no! 'Come unto me and drink.”'

This of course looks very pious, as hyperspiritual notions always do, but hyperspirituality is as actually shallow as it is apparently pious. It so far sets aside common sense as to be really foolish. Pious it may sound, but it is not true that drinking of Christ will satisfy any “body-thirst.” We must have physical water for that, and we must have the creatures and gifts of God to satisfy many other thirsts as well. It is not true that drinking of Christ will satisfy every “heart-thirst” or “soul-thirst.” If this were so, God would never have said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” nor would he ever have created Eve. It was perfectly legitimate, because perfectly natural, that Hudson Taylor should thirst for his wife. Yet we turn the page in this most hyperspiritual of books, and see him pressing again his favorite text to its absolute extremity, thus denying either the rightness or the reality of everything human and natural. “'To know that “shall” means shall, that “never” means never, and that “thirst” means any unsatisfied need,' Mr. Taylor often said in later years, 'may be one of the greatest revelations God ever made to our souls.”'

Thus does he bring Paradise down to earth, and make angels of men, but none of this will stand the test of either Scripture or experience. When Christ said “shall never thirst” to the woman at the well, he never meant she would never again desire a man. If he meant this, why does Paul say, “It is better to marry than to burn”? Burning is surely an extreme form of thirst. Why does not Paul say, “Only drink of Christ, and all your burnings will be quenched”? In a word, Paul says nothing of this because it is not true. But these doctrines browbeat the spiritual, teaching them that if they thirst for any mere creature----as a woman naturally does for a man----it is because they are unspiritual. The truth is, God created those desires, and created the means with which to satisfy them, and he has no intention to satisfy those desires except by those means. Hudson Taylor's notion is really as shallow as that of the poor Samaritan woman. Her idea of “never thirst” was “neither come hither to draw,” but this was false. She needed physical water for physical thirst----and a man for her feminine needs----as much after drinking of Christ as before. And so of a thousand other physical and emotional needs. God has created those needs. He has implanted within us desires for things other than himself----needs for things other than himself----whether food, water, air, love, or friendship. A man desires a woman. A woman desires a baby. God created those desires, and he means to satisfy them. Not with himself, however, but with the myriad of other things which he has created. Faith looks indeed to the fountain of living waters, for the satisfaction of all its needs, but he does not satisfy them with himself, any more than he did Adam's, but with his gifts and creatures. He implanted within Adam, when he created him, the need for a woman, and satisfied that need by giving him a woman. He implanted within him a need for food, and satisfied it with all the fruits of Paradise. He never had any intention of satisfying those needs with himself, in a purely spiritual fashion. Hudson Taylor's doctrine of the satisfaction of physical and emotional needs by the spiritual drinking from Christ is the worst kind of hyperspirituality, and can only lead to unbelief and disillusionment in the end, unless people never think, or deny the plain facts in order to maintain the doctrine.

With regard to the use of other sorts of means, on his first voyage to China, in a severe storm, when all hope was lost, Taylor gave away his life-belt, supposing he could not trust to that and God also. He then had “perfect peace”----and proceeded immediately to construct another life preserver! seeing no inconsistency in this. He afterwards saw his error.

But we do not despise Hudson Taylor's difficulties on this point. We have wrestled with similar questions ourselves----and taken the hyperspiritual side of them too. But we have learned some things by our failings, and we write to pass on some of our dear-bought wisdom to others. We ask, therefore, How is it any more contrary to faith to use a sound ship to keep us afloat, than to use a life belt, in the absence of a sound ship? But hyperspirituality is generally as inconsistent as it is unscriptural. It may be that faith would claim exemption from shipwreck, and so think a life belt derogatory to trust in God, but this is to set ourselves above the apostle Paul, who in spite of all his faith and devotedness must yet say, “thrice I suffered shipwreck.” And on one of those occasions, “some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship, ...they escaped all safe to land.” We think it no more unbelieving for a man to provide himself with a life belt than to avail himself of a board. We know the life belt will float. We know the ship may not. We know too that “Time and chance happeneth to them all” (Eccl. 9:11), including all the servants of God.

But the “faith missions” have in fact taken their very denomination from a hyperspiritual doctrine of faith. Faith, they affirm, must receive its supplies by prayer alone, using no other means, and asking no one but God for money. Yet the inconsistency of such a position ought to be apparent. What would they think of a child who refused to tell his mother if he was sick, or hurt, or hungry, but would only pray that God would lay it on her heart----by some supernatural means----to help him? The fact is, it is his mother's responsibility to care for him, and certainly ought to be her desire also. What harm in his letting her know of his need? How can this be thought to contravene faith? Yet observe, it is certainly the responsibility of the saints to care for those who minister to them the word of God, and it certainly ought to be their desire also, as much as it is a mother's to care for her child. How then is it wrong for a faithful pastor to tell the people of his need? We can see no wrong in this at all, though we see wrong enough on the other side. These hyperspiritual doctrines of faith lead men to expect God to make known their needs to men, by a continual series of miraculous or supernatural impressions, in lieu of the obvious and natural means which lie ready to hand. This is never the way of the Lord, and why should we expect it only where money is involved?

But we have often remarked before that pride is the usual spring of hyperspirituality, and in the present instance we see, if not pride, yet a good deal of self-importance. Those who thus “live by faith,” as it is called, must expect a continual round of supernatural impressions to be administered from heaven on their behalf to all their supporters. We think there is too much of self in this.

But more. The plain fact is, hyperspiritual methods do not work. The God who has designed and ordained means by which we may accomplish the works which he has given us to do has neither obligation nor intention to come to our aid with supernatural powers if we decline to use the natural means which he has given us. He may do so at times, for he is merciful, even when we are astray, but at other times he will stand aloof and allow stern necessity to teach us our error. Unyielding necessity has always been the great corrector of hyperspiritual notions. It forced A. B. Simpson, who could never go back “to the brackish springs of second causes and human means,” at last to wear glasses, directly against his hyperspiritual faith.

But some will contend most vehemently that these “faith methods” do work. Have we not had abundant demonstration of it, in the work of George Müller, and in the numerous “faith missions” which have been built upon his doctrines? I think not. What I do think is that most of those who hold these notions have been obliged to cheat a little in the use of them, and so shield themselves from the hand of hard necessity. They profess that they receive their supplies solely by faith, using no means but prayer, but meanwhile they are careful to let the people know that their work exists, and to tell the world that they are living by faith. They may not ask for money, but they ask for prayer, and by this means let the whole world know of their need. Why this, if their faith is in God alone? And if it is consistent with faith to ask for prayer, why not to ask for money? Their actual faith falls short of the faith which they profess, and we suppose that if they would consistently stand on the ground which they profess, telling none but God of their need for support, stern necessity would soon oblige them to abandon it. It is very pleasing to ascend these heights of spirituality, but we may find ourselves stranded there. Those who take this high ground remind us of the kitten which climbs to giddy heights, in the confident expectation that her little mistress will call the fire department to get her down again. But God may decline to play that part, for it is not good for us to depend upon an unceasing round of miracles, to compensate for our own neglect of the means which he has given us. He may allow our need to pinch us, to teach us our error. Yet when we are disappointed in these giddy heights of faith, hyperspirituality will suggest that the real difficulty is our lack of faith or holiness. “If you're sick, you're sinning,” as the faith-healing people say. Or the dictum of Hudson Taylor, “God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies.” Thus do these doctrines browbeat the spiritual, and condemn the poor, hungry, naked, suffering apostles of Christ.

George Müller never told any man of any specific need at the time of its existence, but he told the whole world of his general and continual need. He published his annual reports, and these were spread far and wide, letting the whole world know of his work, and of the fact that it was supported solely by the gifts of those who believed in it. It was naturally claimed, therefore, that his support was actually raised by the reports.

To this he responded, “My reply is: (a) I publish these Reports, to give an account of my stewardship. (b) All Societies, or public Institutions, publish Reports; but the complaint on their part is, that they are not read. (c) These Reports which I have written might be read, yet no donations be sent. Only yesterday I had passing through my hands a small donation, accompanied by a letter from the donor, in which he states that he has for many years read the Reports with great interest, as he is a Christian; but that only now he sends his first donation. God must influence the minds of the readers of the Reports, to send us help; and, if He does not do so, thousands of Reports, read even with interest, might not bring one donation. In every way I depend upon God, and so it comes to pass, and only thus, that we are helped; for were I to depend upon Reports, while stating that I trust in God He would soon confound me, and would make it manifest that my profession was not sincere.”

We have neither reason nor inclination to doubt George Müller's sincerity, nor his faith either, but men may be sincere and yet mistaken. Our concern is with the doctrine which is based upon Müller's experience. Whatever his sincerity and faith may have been, there can be little doubt that the reports were the primary means of raising the money. This is acknowledged by Müller himself, and indeed, to suppose thousands of reports being read, with interest, and not one donation sent except by a special divine influence, must argue as great a miracle as the raising of the money without the reports. This makes all human nature a cipher, that it may put the direct working of God in its place. This is hyperspiritual.

Not that we would generally advocate a servant of the Lord asking the people for support. This may be entirely right, so far as faith is concerned, yet prudence and discretion have their claims as well as faith. Though it be right in the eyes of God to ask for money, it is generally ill taken by the people. It is usually wise, therefore, rather to suffer need than to ask for money, though it may be entirely consistent with faith to do so.

But to proceed, we think there is really a strong element of unbelief in the hyperspiritual faith which slights the use of means. Real faith believes in the wisdom of God. It supposes that the means which he has created, and the gifts which he has given, are actually effectual for the purposes for which he has given them. It does not despise human reason, but uses it as a most marvelous gift of God, verily suited to the operations for which God gave it. It does not slight or set aside the “pastors and teachers” which God has given, but expects the blessing of God to come by means of his own gifts. It is unbelief----coupled with pride, as usual----which sets these things aside.

And real faith looks deeper still. It reckons that the gifts of God are as needful as they are effectual. It not only supposes that his gifts are actually efficacious to secure their several ends, but reckons likewise that the fact that he has given them presupposes a need for them. The fact that God created Eve argues the previous fact that Adam needed her. If Adam had contended that he had no need of Eve, since God himself was his all in all, this would have been no faith at all, but only self-sufficiency and pride, and as much unbelief in God as faith in himself. The fact that God has given pastors and teachers to his church argues the previous fact that his church needs them----and establishes also that he has no intention of leading his saints without them. Those who neglect or despise them will do so to the poverty of their own souls. Their spiritual corn-crib will be as “clean” as that of the man who refuses the physical strength of the ox.

But we believe that there are times when it is perfectly proper to look to God in faith, and use no means whatsoever, aside from faith and prayer. Though it may be generally improper to take such a course, it is undoubtedly right whenever necessity compels us to it----that is, when there are no means available to us. There will be times when there are no means available but such as we cannot afford, or for some reason cannot obtain, perhaps none which we can use without doubts, or without giving offense. At other times, there will be no means available which we can use without compromise. Such was Abraham's use of Hagar to secure the promised seed, and God would not own it. Yet this was no sign he should not use Sarah for the same end. In yet other instances there will be no means available at all, as, for example, in the case of incurable diseases. God would sustain his people in the desert by a daily supply of manna from heaven----and keep their shoes from wearing out for forty years also----for there were no other means of sustenance available, but as soon as they entered the land of Canaan, “the manna ceased, on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land.” (Joshua 5:12).

In all such cases, where no legitimate or effectual means lie within our reach, it is certainly most proper to employ faith and prayer alone, without the use of any other means, for we really have no choice. But no man of sense would dream of making a rule of such cases. Because a man cannot use means when he has none, should another man refuse to use the means which he has? If he does, it will be to his own poverty.

To conclude, we believe the means which God has created to be as right and proper as they are efficacious. We believe that the powers and properties which make them efficacious are real and substantial, and actually resident in them, and this by the design and creation of God. Water actually quenches thirst, by the intrinsic properties which belong to it by creation. Certain medicinal substances actually heal us of certain maladies. A certain plant will actually heal us from the bite of a certain venomous serpent. Vaccination will actually prevent certain diseases. Wholesome food actually sustains our health, by virtue of those vitamins, minerals, and other substances which belong to it by creation. The fruit of the tree of life would actually sustain human life for ever, if we had access to it, and therefore that access is denied us, as the judgement upon our sin, for the use of that means would actually produce that effect. And all such facts are “the warrant of faith,” as theologians speak, for the use of those means. The efficacious properties which actually reside in the gifts of God are “the warrant of faith” for the use of them. This does not dishonor God, but quite the reverse. To put those means in the place of God dishonors him, to be sure. This is the way of carnality. But then to put God in the place of the means dishonors him also, though more pious in its intentions. This is the way of hyperspirituality. We want neither the one nor the other. True faith and true spirituality stand between these false extremes, receiving the gifts of God with thanksgiving, enjoying them, using them for their proper ends, and believing that they are, by the wisdom of God, actually suited to accomplish those ends.

Editorial Policies

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.