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Vol. 10, No. 2
Feb., 2001

John the Baptist's Food and Clothes

Absract of a Sermon Preached on October 29, 2000

by Glenn Conjurske

I have told you often before that we ought to observe not only what the Bible says, but what it says it about. If that isn't clear, what I mean is this: we ought to take particular note of which things the Bible relates, and not only of what it says about them. In the times of which the Bible speaks, there were many millions of things which happened, of which the Bible says not a word. It selects a very few things to record, and passes by the rest, and I say it ought to be a particular study of ours which things the Bible chooses to tell us, of the millions of things which it could have recorded, for there is a purpose in it. In the lives of Bible characters there are many thousands of things which go unnoticed, while we are told a few things only, and some of them seemingly insignificant. Yet we surely believe there is a purpose.

Such is the case with John the Baptist. We know very little about him. Though he was the greatest of men, the Bible gives us only the broadest general description of his life----he “was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel”----and we know almost nothing of the details, except only this: we know what he ate and what he wore. “And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

I say, there is a reason why we are told this. We know a great deal about Moses and Samuel and David and Paul, but little or nothing of what they wore, or what they ate. With John the Baptist, it is just the reverse. Though we know very little else, beyond a general description and a few incidents of his ministry, we are told what he wore and what he ate, and surely the Spirit of God means we should learn something from it. Here is the wardrobe, here is the diet, of a man filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb, and has this nothing to teach us? Filled with God, formed by God, led of God, taught of God, walking with God, caring only to please God, and the result of all this is plain, coarse food, and plain, coarse clothing.

John knew nothing of softness or of luxury. He “was in the deserts,” alone with his God, where he remained uncorrupted by the popular religion of the times, and unspoiled by Society. He neither pampered the flesh nor pandered to the world. He knew only God, and cared only to please God. If he had cared to please the world, he would have worn different clothes. If he had cared to please the flesh, he would have eaten different food.

John was doubtless early an orphan, since his parents were well stricken in years ere he was born. He was doubtless poor, dwelling in the deserts, and having slight means with which to obtain those things to which the city folks are accustomed, but he evidently had as little desire as means. His wardrobe and his diet were utilitarian. Camel's hair, a leather girdle, locusts, and wild honey----such things as he could obtain by his own exertions while he remained “in the deserts.” And with such things as fell to his lot he was doubtless content. He no doubt might have obtained softer clothes and tastier food, had he set his heart upon doing so. But he had something better to do. He sought first the kingdom of God. He walked with God. He learned of God. What he wore and what he ate were matters of small concern. And all this marks him as a man worthy to be a prophet of God. Ah! we have known men of another sort, men who demonstrate by their hankering for the good things of the world and the flesh that they are not worthy to be prophets of God. “I'm tired of driving old jalopies. I'm tired of living in substandard housing. I'm tired of wearing hand-me-downs. I'm tired of living on hamburger.” All this and much more also might John the Baptist have said, but he was a man of another spirit. Substandard housing! We know not but that John's only roof was the open sky. He was “in the deserts,” plural, in the desert places. He had “no certain dwelling place.” He may have had a tent, but surely not a house. Hamburger! This would have been luxury twice told for John. Israel in the desert loathed angels' food. John the Baptist in the desert lived on locusts from one year to another, and was content. The variety which we enjoy along with our hamburger would have been luxury ten times over to John.

But to tell you the plain truth, modern wealth and luxury have made the human race so soft and self-indulgent that the diet of John the Baptist would be worse than death to most of us, even if we could substitute something more emotionally inviting for the locusts. We are all immersed in such a profusion of sauces and spices and seasonings and jams and jellies and candies and cakes and creams and custards and cheeses and dressings and pickles and preserves and crackers and chips and dips, that the diet of John the Baptist must appear to be a perfect death. This endless array of dainties and delicacies has become necessity in our eyes----to say nothing of the almost infinite variety of meats and vegetables and fruits and grains----and the godliest among us spend a great portion of their fleeting lives to procure and prepare a daily smorgasbord of luxuries. I heard recently that one third of the American diet consists of “junk food.” They didn't tell us how they define “junk food,” but I suspect that if they defined it as it really ought to be defined, to include such things as all the boxed breakfast cereals which contain more sugar than anything else, they would find that junk food accounts for two thirds or three quarters of the diet of many Americans. A friend and I were travelling some years ago, and decided to read the list of ingredients on some granola bars----”health food,” you know. We found that they contained thirteen different kinds of sugar----sucrose and dextrose and fructose and corn syrup and malt syrup, and on and on, beyond what either my memory or my imagination could reproduce.

Now the result of all this is that self-indulgence has become the rule of life, in the church as well as the world. The only thing this “junk food” has to recommend it is that it tastes good, and you have to almost prevaricate to call some of it food at all. There is little more food in it than there is in soft drinks or chewing gum or cigarettes----though I once knew a goat that ate cigarette butts. But this stuff is much more stimulants than it is food, and if this is not worldliness, it would be hard to tell what is. The constant indulgence in all the most tasty viands which the imagination can put together, such as Adam and Eve in Paradise nor Solomon in all his glory could ever have dreamed of, has the natural effect of making self-indulgence a habit----a way of life. Self-denial is altogether banished, while men indulge from morn till midnight in every chewy, crunchy, spicy, salty, syrupy, chocolatey, sugary thing which the love of money can devise. We do not contend that this is all sinful----we expect to have our share of it in heaven----only that it is dangerous and debilitating. “Every man,” says Paul, “that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things,”----certainly, therefore, temperate in his eating, and unquestionably so in the eating of dainties and delicacies. But what temperance is this, when those things which ought to be used as occasional treats become the staple of our diet?

We hear frequent reports and statistics concerning the large proportion of Americans who are “overweight,” “obese,” etc., or in plainer English, fat. The reason for this is, self-denial is little known. And oh! how hard it is for people to practice self-denial in quantity, when the most unrestrained and Epicurean self-indulgence is the rule in quality. All the powers of will are weakened by this. The devil is an intelligent being, and he knows how to make us soft and worldly, replacing all our masculine sternness with delicate effeminacy, weakening all our powers of will, and destroying all our propensities to self-denial, by means of a grand profusion of things which we think perfectly innocent. And innocent they may be, but there may be sin enough in it also, if we spend our money for luxuries while the house of God lies waste, and our time and energies to gratify our tongues and our palates, while our souls languish and starve. Self-denial is never thought of, and when God stands in need of a prophet, he can find no materials from which to make one, and must say now as heretofore, “I sought for a man, and found none.” But here the Bible presents to us a man filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb, a prophet and more than a prophet, the greatest of men born of women, who knew nothing whatsoever of the luxury and self-indulgence which have become a way of life to most of us. And with his own rude fare he was content. We will not contend that John never desired any change of diet. We only contend that he was so far content with his lot as not to seek one.

We know that John ate honey also, in addition to his locusts, but we may be sure the honey was a small part of his diet. If he had mixed them half and half he would doubtless have been more dead than alive. Bees can live on honey, but men cannot. And yet in this we see that John was no ascetic. He did not refuse good things because they were good, or he had never touched the honey. He knew how to enjoy the best which nature offers, but he sought first the kingdom of God, and had better things to do with his time and energies than to pamper his palate and his stomach. He was absorbed in prayer and meditation. He ate to live, but did not live to eat. I remember the days I spent in Colorado, a third of a century ago, preaching in a tiny church in a tiny town. I was absorbed in my books, delving into the treasures of my Greek New Testament, diving for pearls in the old men of God, or walking in the mountains and praying, and two or three hours would often slip away past my dinner time, before I would think to eat. A woman in my congregation would come to visit perhaps once a week. I would go to the kitchen and put on the coffee pot----for I was a social drinker then----and we would go to my study and begin to feast our souls on the good things of God. How often the coffee pot boiled dry!----or nearly dry, for we thought no more about it when the manna was falling from heaven.

Such, we suppose, was John the Baptist. He had a cause for which to live, and a life to spend in that cause, and his energies were not spent in pleasing and pampering the flesh.

And in this simple statement, “the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey,” we see also the stability of the man. The habit of his life is described in a single sentence. What he was one year, he was the next. What he was in the deserts, alone with God, that he was also in the limelight, on the public platform, before the eyes of the multitudes. He had no “dress” clothes, in which to shine on the platform. Herod the king “heard him gladly,” and he probably appeared often at court, but even there “John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins.” A higher station did not alter the man, as it has many others.

Some there will always be who would have us believe there is no significance in what John ate or wore. Dress and diet are matters of indifference. What then? Does the Bible tell us these things for nothing, or merely to gratify our curiosity? We can hardly believe it.

We shall be told that “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink”----that “neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.” We know it, but the fact remains that “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth,” and that “he that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” Carnality sees nothing but its right of indulgence. Hyperspirituality can think of nothing but abstinence. The truth lies between them, in temperance. We do not pretend that any kind of food is sinful, but we do suppose it sinful to live in pleasure----to fare sumptuously every day----to make our belly our god. Paul speaks of those whose god is their belly, but can anyone imagine that they fared more sumptuously than the whole of America does every day? But put it on a lower ground. Suppose there is nothing sinful in it. The fact remains that it is dangerous and debilitating. As for clothing, costly array is explicitly forbidden in the Bible.

And we remark further that when the Lord comes to commend John, the only specific thing which he mentions concerning him is his coarse clothing. “But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.” Kings' houses are the epitome of luxury and self-indulgence, and it was not in such an atmosphere that John the Baptist was to be found. He might be seen in the king's house from time to time, but if so it was to preach repentance to the king. And hearing John, the ungodly king was convicted, and “did many things,” but we never read that John “did many things” for the seeing and hearing of Herod. He did not change his ways due to any influence of the king or his court. To please the king, to fit in with his society, this was none of the thought of a prophet of God, and if we had seen John giving up his coarse fare and his rustic clothes, in order to make himself more welcome at the court of Herod, we could only conclude that he was unfit to be a prophet. He was sent to influence others, not to be influenced by them. He was sent to preach, and of “dialogue” with the ungodly he knew nothing.

Here then was a man who was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb to the tomb, and all some people can learn from this is some kind of speculative Calvinistic tomfoolery. “John didn't have any choice about being godly, and to be sure he couldn't have fallen.” But they learn nothing about the practical life of the man. That lesson they don't care for. Nevertheless, here it is. Here is a man filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb----and if that means anything it must mean he was formed and led by the Holy Ghost: the Spirit of God did not fill him merely to put a smile on his face----and he lived a life of solitude, simplicity, and self-denial. He stayed away from the popular religion of the day. He wore coarse clothes, and ate coarse food. When the spirit of God undertakes to sketch his life in a few words, he says he “was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel,” and “the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

Now how would the Spirit of God sketch your life? “She was in the shopping malls at every opportunity, and she was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. She loved the closet!----but cared little enough for the book-shelf.”

We have never dreamed that a man must be as abstemious as John the Baptist was, in order to get to heaven. No, but we contend that modern man must certainly be more temperate than he is, in order to be worth much of anything on earth, and while he is unresistingly drawn into the vortex of modern extravagance and luxury and ease, he is surely unfit to be a prophet of God. Is it too much to ask that the example of the greatest of men born of women----filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother's womb----be seriously considered?

We have no sympathy with either ascetism or monasticism or hyperspirituality. We do not believe in self-denial for self-denial's sake. For Christ's sake, however, we believe in it, and for our own soul's health also. We live in a day in which self-indulgence is a science and a principle and a passion----a day in which self-indulgence knows little restraint----and to flow with the current in such a day as this is worldliness and carnality. Yet the church today does flow with the current. She has utterly forgotten that “she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” She has utterly forgotten the coming judgement of Babylon, “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her.” She has forgotten the “great gulf” which stood between the rich man and Lazarus in this life, and the solemn word which passed over that gulf when it was eternally “fixed”: “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” She has forgotten the solemn word which Christ himself spoke from heaven, “I know thy poverty, but thou art rich,” and forgotten also the solemn words which he spoke on earth, “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.” And again, “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” All this is a perfect dead letter to the modern church, and no wonder the example of John the Baptist is nothing regarded.

Charles G. Finney on Diet & Temperance

Avoid the cultivation of artificial appetites. Accustom them [your children] to no innutritious stimulants or condiments of any kind, for in so doing, you will create a craving for stimulants, that may result in beastly intemperance.

Parents should remember that physical training must precede moral training. Pains should be taken to keep their bodily appetites in a perfectly natural state. And as far as possible prevent the formation of artificial appetites, and do all that the nature of the case admits to restrain the influence of the appetites over the will.

Parents should remember that all artificial stimulants lead directly to intemperance----that tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, ginger, and indeed the whole family of innutritious stimulants, lead directly and powerfully to the formation of intemperate habits----create a morbid hankering after more and more stimulants, until both body and soul are swallowed up in the terrible vortex of intemperance.

Parents should remember that the least stimulating kinds of diet, are best suited to the formation of temperate habits in all respects. And just as far as they depart from a mild, bland, unstimulating diet, they are laying, in the perversion of the child's constitution, a foundation for any and every degree of intemperance.
----”Letters to Parents,” by Charles G. Finney; The Oberlin Evangelist, vol. II, 1840, pp. 131 & 147.

The Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Cable

by Glenn Conjurske

In a sermon on “Dependence on the System” in our last number, we referred to the trans-Atlantic cable as one element in the “progress” of the mystery of iniquity. Though primitive enough in the light of subsequent developments, it was at the time a significant step forward in reversing the judgement of the Almighty, which he inflicted on the race at the tower of Babel. We suppose that judgement was not so much to punish man for his presumption----for it was extremely mild as a punishment----as to restrain him from success in his enterprise. The effect of the divine judgement was not the destruction of the sinners, but only that “they left off to build the city.” The reversal of that judgement of God is a simple necessity to the success of the devil's agenda, and as a matter of fact the trans-Atlantic cable was hailed in its time as a reversal of the judgement of Babel, and that reversal was attributed to God by short-sighted Christians. They did not have the same vantage point which we do, and it was perhaps not so easy for them to see the hand of the devil in this “progress” as it is for us. Yet the fact remains that few see it today, though we stand on the very threshold of the final success of Satan's program. We suppose that the real difficulty is not the lack of a proper vantage point, but ignorance of the Bible, and that too often coupled with worldliness of heart. We aim to provide an antidote to both.

Shortly after printing the proof sheets of our sermon on “Dependence on the System,” we ran across (providentially, as we suppose) a number of articles on the trans-Atlantic cable in The Guardian for 1858. The wild delight with which the completion of the cable was celebrated may serve to demonstrate the real character of “the mystery of the iniquity,” for the devil does not show his cloven foot in his present operations. Not until he has all things secured beyond the possibility of failure will he take off his mask, and openly demand the worship of the world. Till then he works in secret----and this is the meaning of the Greek word rendered “mystery”----in the dark, behind the scenes, always keeping himself out of view, and always disguising the true nature and real ends of his programs.

He conceals those things by means of two lies, and those two lies, taken together, give us a fairly comprehensive view of “the wiles of the devil.” Those two lies present the devil's operations as, first, a benefit to man----even a benefit to the cause of Christ----and, secondly, as a boon from heaven. Neither can we deny that there is a measure of truth in those lies----in what lie is there not?----but whatever benefit or blessing is to be found in the operations of Satan is always designed on his part as a present and temporary benefit to man, bought at the expense of his future and permanent undoing. The benefits which the devil gives to the human race are but the choice corn used to fatten the ox for the slaughter, and selfish and short-sighted man is as easily gulled as the ox. The glowing enthusiasm with which those benefits are embraced is a telling indication of the success of the infernal agenda. We expect that enthusiasm from the world, but we are grieved that the children of God know no better. The same excitement with which they greeted the trans-Atlantic cable was subsequently bestowed upon the radio, and now the Internet. Yet it must be obvious to any who will think that the real effect of all this is to reverse the judgement of God, and build again the tower of Babel.

The first message crossed the Atlantic by cable on August 16, 1858, and though the cable ceased to work three weeks later, it was in use long enough to take hold of the popular mind as a great advance in all that goes by the name of “progress.”

The London Guardian of August 25, 1858, records the American reaction to the completion of the cable. “The first reports were held 'too good to be true.' In New York the state of feeling could not be described even by the Herald. At Washington the feel (sic) shown amounted to 'transport.' At Albany people were 'wild with excitement.' At Boston there was 'great rejoicing;' at Worcester 100 guns were fired; at Rochester a 'feeling of glorification' seized the citizens; Utica was illuminated; at Syracuse a band and a company of militia went about, 'spirited' speeches were made,” &c., &c.

A week later, “America has gone mad to a great degree on the subject of the Atlantic Telegraph. Besides the demonstrations we mentioned last week, there were others all over the continent. August 17th was the day agreed upon for a simultaneous demonstration. At New York the day broke with salvos of artillery, including one of 100 guns from the City-hall. At noon there was a further salute of 200 guns, the bells of all the churches were rung, youngsters kept up the fusillade throughout the streets with small arms, and by way of making as much noise as possible, the whistles of all the steam-engines in the city screeched continuously from twelve to one o'clock.” Bonfires and fireworks, speeches and parades, bells ringing and lamps blazing, were the order of the day throughout the land.

Nor did the excitement quickly subside. On Sept. 6 the American correspondent of the Guardian wrote, “The prevailing topic which has almost absorbed everything else for the past month has been the successful laying of the Atlantic Cable. The people have been almost wild with the excitement, and scarce a village throughout the land which has not had a celebration of the event.”

In all this we see how little anyone suspected the hand of the devil in any of it. We see, in other words, how successful he was in keeping the iniquitous purposes of his working in mystery, or secret.

And what was the cause of all this rejoicing? Verily just this, that the cable was universally regarded as both the work of God and a benefit to man. Some saw so clearly as to perceive it to be the undoing of the judgement of Babel, and explicitly said so, but they attributed that reversal of the judgement of God to God himself, never suspecting another hand in the matter. More on that anon.

An American journalist wrote, “The earth has witnessed nothing half as auspicious----nothing so full of glad tidings to mankind----since the birth of the Redeemer. If the 'morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy' at the creation of the world, surely the eye of faith, without impiety, may reverently recognise in this union of the two mighty physical divisions of that creation a providential dispensation that may inspire even the angels in heaven with delight. It is well, therefore, that in many of the churches yesterday, the 'telegraph' was in the pulpit, as elsewhere, the one idea----for the Church and Christianity are, in the end, to gather in a rich harvest of its fruits. The golden chain of human brotherhood has had a strong bright link added to it, which, with God's blessing, will in due time bring all nations, all kindreds, all tongues, within its friendly and loving embrace. The Orient and the Occident clasp hands! The East and the West are one, and with the universal diffusion of universal intelligence good men may hopefully look forward to the dawn of the blessed millennium.”

We have added the bold type to indicate how thoroughly this cable was regarded as the undoubted work of God, and a great benefit to mankind, and to point out also how thoroughly astray such thinking was. “Human brotherhood” is in reality a brotherhood without God, and the theme song of liberal theology. As for “all nations, all kindreds, and all tongues” being made one, we know that this shall occur indeed, when “the mystery of iniquity” shall give place to the revelation of the man of sin, for we read in express terms in Rev. 13:7, “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”

Upon the completion of the cable the Mayor of New York said, “The important and beneficial results to our race which this great event promises cannot be wholly anticipated, but that it will tend to the perpetual peace and increased happiness of the two leading nations who have joined in the labour and cost of the enterprise, cannot be doubted, while itself the offspring of science, and that civilisation which is founded on Christian principles, it announces to the whole world the reign of lasting peace and good-will to all men.”

We certainly believe in “the reign of lasting peace” and in “good-will to all men,” but none of this is secured by the “progress” of the present evil world. “Good will to men” was brought down from heaven at the birth of the Redeemer, and “lasting peace” will be established when he comes again, and destroys the present world. That these terms are now in the mouths of myriads of the ungodly we know, but this is only the veil which hides “the mystery of iniquity.”

At a crowded church service, “An address, eloquent and appropriate, was delivered by the excellent [Episcopalian] Bishop of New Jersey; his powerful voice and earnest manner commanding the closest attention from the crowded congregation. He began with the message of the angels at Bethlehem; the message now of the Angli, by the Atlantic Telegraph, to their Western sons; and the Anglo-American message to the ends of the earth. 'Was ever utterance so fit? Was ever fittest utterance so startling, so solemn, so sublime----flashing out from the burning land of Christian hearts in Ireland; flashing along through the caverns of the sea; flashing along among the buried treasures of the deep, flashing along through the layers of old Leviathan, flashing along among the remains of them that perished in the Flood, flashing up among the primeval forests of Newfoundland, flashing out from there throughout the world.' Now, it seems to me that among the thousand thoughts that crowd upon the heart in the contemplation of the great subject of this day's assembling, the tendency to oneness is chief. It seems to me that in a sort the edict of Babel is reversed. The dispersion of the nations is to be undone in God's time, and in God's way, by bringing them together in Him. And I might almost venture to say that we have in prospect as it were a renewal and repetition of the Pentecostal wonder, when all the nations of the world shall hear in their own tongue the wonderful works of God, when man shall speak to man from one end of the world to the other, of the Gospel of Salvation, and of the glory of the Lamb. Space is, as it were, annihilated, and time is more than annihilated. In a sense there is no more sea.”

We think it a profanation of the message of the angels at Bethlehem to apply it to such an event as this. And observe the chief thought of the occasion, “the tendency to oneness.” This is the watchword of all ecumenicalism and internationalism, both of which are the workings of the same mystery of iniquity, in its more advanced stages. And mark the annihilation of space and time----a thing no way needed for the progress of the kingdom of God, but essential to the triumph of the kingdom of Satan, for he aims at an outward and organized unity of world-wide dimensions. And while the devil lays the groundwork for this, short-sighted men attribute it all to God, even the reversing of the edict of Babel.

Observe also what child's play this annihilation of space and time was, in comparison with the “progress” which has been made since then. What was the trans-Atlantic cable to telephones and radio and television and satellite communication and the Internet? Add to these airplanes and automobiles, and it appears that time and space are eliminated indeed for modern man. But who is the beneficiary of all this, God or the devil? We would not pretend to deny that the kingdom of God has reaped some little advantage from these things, though it could have prospered without them, but for every benefit conferred upon the kingdom of God by this technology, the kingdom of darkness gains a thousand. It must be apparent to all that electronic communications must in the nature of the case consist mostly of evil communications, the race of men being what it is. But this is the least of the matter. The real significance of modern rapid travel and communication is that it has brought the whole world together. It has reversed the judgement which was inflicted by God at the tower of Babel. It has created a global consciousness and a global agenda, which together constitute a new tower of Babel----under the same head and with the same purpose as the ancient tower. The devil is the master-mind of all this, and the beneficiary also.

But in 1858 the (American) Presbyterian Magazine sang the same ecstatic song, saying, “The globe is now in electric union” ----apparently altogether unaware that the whole world lay yet in the wicked one, and that the globe was as godless as ever. We have seen a century and a half of “progress” since that primitive “electric union” of the globe, with radio and television, global telephone connections, satellite communications, and the Internet, but all the dreams of peace and unity, of righteousness and godliness----of the very millennium----by these electronic means have proved the veriest delusion, and any man who can today attribute all these things to God is surely as blind as he is infatuated.

The editor of the Presbyterian Magazine also explicitly interprets this event as the reversal of the judgement of Babel, and attributes it all to God:

“The promotion of the friendship of nations is one of the first natural advantages of the Atlantic Telegraph. The division of the world into different nations by means of mountains, rivers, and oceans, is a part of the arrangements of infinite goodness. Great ends of mercy, as well as of retribution, were answered by the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of mankind. In the progress of ages, the diversity, necessary to the best interests of the race, was to be relieved by the providential preparations for a more genial intercourse. The sharp, repulsive prejudices and rude hostilities of the earlier eras of civilization were to be superseded by a system of attracting influences. At the present day all the tendencies of the world's advancement are towards intercourse, unity, and peace. The swift communication of thought is the best harbinger of universal concord. As the original dispersion of mankind was accomplished by the confusion of language at the tower of Babel, so its reunion in the bonds of peace is promoted by the creation of a new, universal language, surpassing the resources of combined human tongues.

“The wire itself symbolizes the union of all lands, and the fraternity, which Grace is to give to the nations.”

But as love is both blind and lynx-eyed, so is this theology----keen-sighted enough to see that this electronic communication was a reversal of the judgement of Babel, but so blind as to suppose God the author of it. But where has God ever reversed that judgement, or repented of it? Was he unwise to impose it on the race? The kingdom of God stands in no need of any reversal of it. It is the kingdom of darkness which stands to gain by the reversal. And again I avow my opinion that the readiness with which men have attributed all this to God is really the proof of the success of the secret workings of the mystery of iniquity.

But Van Rensselaer has no understanding of the nature of the judgement of Babel. That judgement was a restraint placed upon man, by the restrainer, “who now letteth.” “And the LORD said, Behold, THE PEOPLE IS ONE, and they have ALL ONE LANGUAGE; and THIS THEY BEGIN TO DO: and NOW NOTHING WILL BE RESTRAINED FROM THEM, WHICH THEY HAVE IMAGINED TO DO. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.” It was precisely the “unity” and the “progress” and “advancement” of the race----without God----which called for this judgement, and how then does the (much augmented and more ungodly) modern “progress” call for its reversal? This is blindness. The theology which induced that blindness was of course post-millennialism, which equates progress in civilization with the advancement of the kingdom of God, and is utterly blind to the fact that the devil sits king over that progress and that civilization.

Van Rensselaer writes, “Another thought is transmitted through the Atlantic Telegraph, as a commemorative lesson to the immortal minds that celebrate its achievement. It is that this great event is among the most impressive, as well as the latest of the providential indications of THE APPROACH OF THE MILLENNIUM.” In this strain he continues for two pages, utterly unaware that “The whole world” yet “lieth in the wicked one,” forming an imaginary kingdom of God here in the devil's lap, a new world without the judgement of the old one, and utterly setting aside the solemn asseveration of Christ that “as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

Such is the blindness of post-millennialism, but there are hosts of pre-millennialists who are as blind morally, who, with no doctrine to excuse their blindness, will yet attribute all of this “progress” in electronic communications and rapid travel to God, and suppose it is his kingdom which is advanced thereby.


n Book Review n

by Glenn Conjurske


Dictionary of American Proverbs, Edited by David Kin

New York: Philosophical Library, copyright 1955, 286 pp.

I speak first of the book, and afterwards of the proverbs which it contains.

As to the book, the editor tells us nothing of where or how he got these proverbs, an omission which is really unpardonable in a work of this sort. Indeed, he gives us not a single word, from his own pen, of preface, introduction, or explanation----another unpardonable omission in such a book. The book itself contains real proverbs enough to convince us that the editor knows what a proverb is, but sometimes we are forced to wonder if he has not done a little editing of the proverbs themselves. We find proverbial phrases, for example, rounded out into full proverbs, and we question whether the editor found them that way.

The book is bound very poorly, after the modern fashion, the binding being glued instead of stitched, like a cheap paperback, though encased in a hard cover of real cloth. The book therefore will not lie open flat, and will endure but little use, some of the pages being loose already, though the book was in new condition when I bought it.

But I turn to the proverbs themselves. A German proverb affirms, “As the country, so the proverbs.” This is undoubtedly true, and others have often pointed out how aptly the national character and temperament of various peoples are embodied in their proverbs. French, English, Spanish, Italian, and German proverbs have often been commented upon in this connection. I have, however, never seen any such comments on American proverbs. I shall make some such comments, but first I must distinguish between the proverbs used by a nation, and those which it originates. The proverbs which are born in a nation are those which are its own peculiar property, and it is to these that the adage applies, “As the country, so the proverbs.” I never was much impressed with anything French until I came across a little book of French proverbs. These I found to contain a depth of wisdom which really surprised me. But I find nothing of that in these American proverbs. There are many old proverbs in the book, in common use in America, but appropriated from other nations. Of those I do not speak, but rather of those which I assume to be the original creation of this nation. Now it seems to me that the prominent characteristics of these American proverbs are profaneness, lack of refinement, lack of depth, lack of pithiness, and lack of seriousness, along with an inveterate tendency to explain the obvious. Solomon aims to give us wisdom “To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.” (Prov. 1:6). But these self-interpreting proverbs of America contain nothing dark, nothing to interpret, nothing to stimulate the mind, and thus they eliminate one of the most pleasing characteristics of good proverbs. I believe they are also a manifestation of the know-it-all pride which pervades America, and the consequent talkativeness by which every man must display his understanding. These are the sayings of a shallow nation, which talks too much and thinks too little. I shall give examples of these self-interpreting proverbs below.

Some of the American proverbs have some wit, but it is coarse and shallow. “As cold as the north side of a gravestone in winter” is a good example. This is wit of a sort, but so crude and childish that we can hardly conceive of it coming from the mouth of a refined or cultured man. This must be the wit of the bar-room. “Face reality or it will efface you” is little better. “Face reality or it will face you” would be vastly superior, in both sense and sound. But proverbs are not what some people would choose to hear, but what all the people choose to say. “As the country, so the proverbs,” and American proverbs do not speak well for America. “Fair faces go places” is certainly true, and its language is something above the crude, but still it lacks refinement. It embodies the non-serious tone which pervades the American language. In our own day the whole language of America has been corrupted by the smart-aleck climate which prevails everywhere, but this is no new thing. The present generation has sunk much lower than any which preceded it----sunk indeed to the very dregs----but the process has been in operation for a long time, and much of it may be seen in these proverbs.

But I proceed to give examples to illustrate the above remarks.

The profane proverbs in the book are many. I do not refer to profanity in language, but in sense. These are proverbs which impugn the truth, or the work or creation of God. Among the numerous proverbs which are really profane are:

I had rather have a fool to make me merry than experience to make me sad. Profane as this is, it is undoubtedly the philosophy of the vast majority of Americans.

There is only one blasphemy, and that is injustice.

Public opinion is a second conscience.

Singularity in right hath ruined many; happy are those who are convinced of the general opinion. Happy, no doubt, but not godly.

Scratch the Christian and you'll find the pagan. That is to say, there are no real Christians.

It's a poor family that has neither a whore nor a thief in it.

There is no virtue that poverty does not destroy. The Saviour and the apostles, then, had no virtue.

Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.

Vanity is the sixth sense.

A handsome husband is common property.

Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.

Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

The foulest death rather than the fairest slavery. This is exactly of a piece with the famous saying of an American patriot, “Give me liberty, or give me death,” a saying spoken, by the way, when these colonies had a great deal more liberty than any American has today. This is not the saying of virtue, but of belligerence and pride, and it is profane in the highest degree. The proverb before us is also an example of the foolish extremes to which the shallow are always prone.

Better the devil's than a woman's slave.

Cheer up, there ain't no hell.

A short life, and a merry one.

God is on the side of the strongest battalions.

Every man has a right to be conceited until he is successful.

Never give a sucker an even break.

We can resist everything except temptation.

There is no standard for truth; we cannot even agree on the meaning of words.

The unchaste woman can never become chaste again.

Once a knave, always a knave.

Once a whore always a whore. Rahab, then, is gone to hell.

Woman is as variable as a feather in the wind. Nay, I have seen a woman as solid as a rock, with a husband as variable as a feather in the wind. Almost all proverbs which are derogatory to women are as profane as they are false.

Love 'em and leave 'em. The “'em,” of course, refers to women. I heard this often when I was young, from my ungodly companions. A man who will speak so is not only devoid of godliness, but of manhood also.

All money is clean, even if it's dirty.

Get money; honor is good if you can afford it.

Nothing but money is sweeter than honey.

The voice of the people is the voice of God. This is not of American origin, though thoroughly American in substance.

A man who marries twice is a two-time loser.

Love is better than fame----and money is best of all.

When it's a question of money, everyone is of the same religion.

Better the heat of hell than the cold of charity.

And all this shocking profaneness belongs to the common proverbs of a nation which is reputed to be Christian.

Next to these sayings which are profane in sense and substance I place those which are non-serious in tone, which make a jest of truth, or treat life itself as a joke. A few of these are:

We need our enemies to make life interesting.

One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.

Men under forty are too young to marry, and if they're over forty, they're too old.

Nobody don't never get nothing for nothing, nowhere, no time, nohow.

American English is decidedly low-class----replete with slang, and devoid of dignity----and the lack of refinement which characterizes American speech in general has of course found its way into the nation's proverbs. A few examples of this are:

When the tree falls the kid can climb it.

New laws, new monkey-business.

When the angry dogs bark, you know you're getting places.

A knife ain't much good if it will cut butter only when it's melted.

The rich guy fleeces the poor sap and the lawyer fleeces both.

The looking-glass tells us we are bums, the wine-glass tells our friends.

The moon doesn't give a hoot when the dog barks at her.

Faith never stands around with its hands in its pockets.

Them as has, gits.

A sucker is born every minute.

Every nation has its proverbs which are false, senseless, superstitious, or otherwise inferior. I find indeed very little of the superstitious in this book----and this is characteristic of America also, which is much more given to skepticism than superstition----but a great profusion of the trite, the childish, the senseless, the shallow, and the inferior, and I lump together the examples of all these. Some of them contain some sense, but so poorly expressed that it is hard to tell how they could become common proverbs. They are at best the dullest sort of platitudes. Examples are:

Narrowness of waiste shows narrowness of mind. This shows no mind at all. If it is intended as a reproach upon women, it is childish.

There is no friendship without freedom, no freedom without the friendship of brothers. This is senseless jargon, false throughout.

Where there are no fish, even a crawfish calls herself a fish.

It's as difficult to win love as to wrap salt in pine needles. The figure is childish, and the proverb is false.

He is not deceived who is knowingly deceived.

What we can't change we must bear without despair.

Even silence itself has its prayers and its language.

True politeness consists in treating others just as you love to be treated yourself.

The soul is the ship, reason is the helm, the oars are the soul's thoughts, and truth is the port.

A sin confessed is half forgiven.

If you slander a dead man, you stab him in the grave.

All men do not admire and love the same objects.

It's best to be cautious and to avoid extremes.

You are your best friend----to the end.

If you can't push, pull; if you can't pull, please get out of the way.

All are not cooks who sport white caps and carry long knives.

The man who carries coals to Newcastle will pour water on a drowned mouse. This is childish and pointless.

Deliberate about serious matters: it's the safest form of delay.

There are many others the main characteristic of which is verbosity. They contain sense, but lack salt. I list a few from among many of these:

The rose blooms near the nettle: the remedy is not far from the disease, though it's often hard to find.

A donkey that carries a load is more decent than a lap-dog that lives in idle luxury.

As the lamp is choked by too much oil, the health of the body is destroyed by intemperate diet.

Without a friend to share them, no goods we possess are really enjoyable.

A well-prepared mind hopes in adversity and fears in prosperity.

When the lion roars few beasts dare to say the just thing in his presence.

Speaking much is a sign of vanity, for he that is lavish in words is a niggard in deed.

Mankind are very odd creatures; one half censure what they practise, the other half practise what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought. We might have listed this also among the profane or the non-serious.

The countenance is the title-page to the human volume, and often misleads the observer.

Preachers can talk but never teach unless they practise what they preach.

Principles last forever, but special rules pass away with the things and conditions to which they refer.

Men must have righteous principles in the first place, and then they will not fail to perform virtuous actions.

We trust this will be quite enough of American verbosity, but this is hardly the worst of it. Perhaps the most characteristic of the purely American proverbs are those which weaken or ruin an old adage by adding to it. The book contains dozens of these. Most of the additions are trite or childish, and all of this meddling officiousness is the fruit of that pride which always supposes itself competent to mend everything, and the shallowness which is determined to mend everything which needs no mending. I give a sampling of these, printing the proverb as it used to be, or ought to be, in bold type, and the officious addition in italics.

The wildest colts make the best horses if they are properly broken and handled.

Murder will out----mud chokes no eels.

The braggart talks most, the doer least, for deeds are silent.

Delays increase desires and sometimes extinguish them.

You can't fight destiny: submit to it.

A scalded cat dreads even cold water.

There's no joy without alloy; grief is mixed with the keenest bliss.

Eagles fly alone, but sheep flock together.

It's hard to grasp happiness----it's as slippery as an eel.

Many things that are lawful are not expedient----breaking your neck, for instance.

The heart dictates to the head: we think as we feel.

Where the hedge is lowest, everyone, including the devil, leaps over.

Hell is never full: there is always room for one more.

One good husband is worth two good wives; for the scarcer things are the more they're valued.

Justice has a nose of putty: it is easily broken. Here the added explanation is plainly wrong, for the point of the proverb is that justice may be manipulated----pressed, as putty, into what shape we please----not broken.

If you want justice for yourself, be just to others; give them an even break.

He that riseth late must trot all day, and will scarcely overtake his business at night.

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

Liberty is not license: you endanger liberty by abusing it.

Liars need good memories to cover up their lies, but people who tell the truth need remember little.

Blind love mistakes a harelip for a dimple.

Everything looks good to a lover's partial eyes.

A man in the right with God on his side, is in the majority. When did a man not in the right ever have God on his side? To add this eliminates the need to think at all, and reduces the proverb to the puerile.

Don't look for a mare's nest: you'll never find it.

Don't pin medals on yourself: let others recognize your merit.

Money will make the pot boil, though the devil should pour water on the fire.

Better late than never, but better still, never late.

Nonsense charms the multitude; plain sense is despised.

Quarrels require two: both are generally to blame.

A little house well filled, a little land well tilled, and a little wife well willed are great riches.

Suicide often proceeds from cowardice, which sometimes prevents it.

Threatened folks live the longest: they take numerous precautions.

A cracked vessel is known by its sound; a cracked mind by the tongue's speech.

Pursue not a victory too far: you may provoke the foe to desperate resistance.

Ill weeds grow apace: folly runs a rapid race.

Such is the officious meddling of the menders, and as they have done with the old Bible, so have they done also with the old proverbs. The mending is mostly marring. I must say too that this American mending of the old proverbs is strikingly akin to the modern American mending of the old Bible. In both we see the same inveterate tendency to explain everything, while much of the explanation is as shallow as it is unnecessary, and much of it too specific, or otherwise mistaken. To explain a dark saying may be of some use, but to continually state the obvious is childish. We suppose the most discouraging part of the matter is that these glossed and weakened proverbs have been so far preferred by the American populace as to prevail over their superior originals, but this was doubtless to be expected from a know-it-all nation, which would be all teachers and none taught, and which delights in nothing so much as to display its knowledge. In rare instances the expanded form makes a good proverb. Such are Edged tools and sacred things are dangerous playthings, and Love begets love as confidence begets confidence.

But I turn in the last place to truly excellent proverbs. The book contains many of these also. I list a few.

He who doubts nothing knows nothing.

Gratitude is the least of virtues, ingratitude the worst of vices.

Late repentance is seldom worth much.

Think much, speak little, and write less.

Open eyes are the best signpost.

In the company of strangers silence is safe.

Success often costs more than it is worth.

Success has ruined many a man.

Wait for good luck in your sleep.

Don't trust a new friend, or an old enemy.

The most useful truths are the plainest.

Use your wit as a shield, not as a dagger.

You can't put an old head on young shoulders.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


The most useful truths are the plainest.

Those truths which are so plain as to be obvious to all are the most useful and the most necessary. Those things which belong to the common wisdom of the ages, those which are most easily understood, those which are most readily confessed by common sense, those are the truths upon which rest the foundations of our character and our destiny. Among these simple truths are:

Deeds have consequences.

Actions bear fruits.

Do ill, and have ill.

Be good, and have good.

“If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?”

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury.”

“In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

“He that doeth righteousness is righteous.”

“He that doeth sin is of the devil.”

As the tree leans, so shall it fall.

As the tree falls, so shall it lie.

It is such things as these which are the foundation truths of the Bible, as well as the staple fare of the common wisdom, the common sense, and the common proverbs of the ages. The man who aims to be useful will make such truths as these the staple of his ministry.

But our lot is fallen in evil times. These plainest of truths are not only largely despised, but widely denied also. We have nothing to say here to those who deny them----we have contended often and earnestly enough for their truthfulness elsewhere----but we wish to speak a few words to those who despise them.

Why are such truths despised? Ah, they are too elementary----too simple. They are not deep enough----not profound enough. But we fear that those who despise such truths for such reasons must aim more at establishing their reputation as scholars, or thinkers, or theologians, than they do at being useful to the souls of men.

Teachers who aim to impress the people with their own intellectual powers or spiritual depth, rather than doing the people solid good, will never much delight in that which is plain. They despise that which a child can understand. They aim not so much to change souls as to impress them, and mystification may suit their ends better than edification. They prefer a herd of gazing cows to a flock of grazing sheep, and must therefore give them ever and anon a new gate, to make them stand and stare. They must have something drawn from above the clouds, beneath the sea, beyond the stars----something from the ancient inscriptions, the heathen classics, the Dead Sea scrolls, the Greek particles, the Hebrew tenses, the back side of the moon----something which no one else has discovered, and which the common people cannot understand. We have known such teachers, and have often observed that their profound truths are not true at all. Moved by no other thing than pride, they aim at originality, and lacking the spiritual (if not the intellectual) capacity to produce anything which is both original and sound, they come forth with a string of fallacies and hair-brained notions. Alas, many of the poor sheep relish the ministry of such teachers, being moved by the same pride, and delighting in anything which will distinguish them from the common herd.

We pity such sheep and their shepherds both. They have a good deal more head than heart, and their whole spiritual diet bewrays the fact. They want something which will exhilarate the intellect, rather than warm the heart. They would rather display their originality than exercise the conscience. Intellectualism is their delight. Spirituality does not interest them. They love controversy, and will gladly debate every point which is indifferent, inconsequential, and unimportant. The sheep are as much to blame for all this as the shepherds. They want such a diet, and provide just the platform upon which such teachers can work. The man who devises an intricate system of “Bible numerics,” the man who finds hidden messages in every seventh letter of the Hebrew text, the man who regales his hearers with a profusion of Greek and Hebrew words, usually with meanings diverse from those commonly accepted, the woman who founds a vast system of superstitious “word stemming” on the mere coincidence of English spelling, will find a more ready following than he who preaches that men must obey God and love their neighbors. It is characteristic of the times that the simple and solid is despised, while the abstract and airy is admired.

But observe, the proverb does not claim that the plainest truths are the most popular----only that they are most useful. Airy notions may be a good deal more popular, but they will never do any good. And the complex and the abstract, though as true as the simple, is not so necessary, and will never do the good which the simple will.

Thus does the Lord care for the lambs and the babes, putting all the most useful and necessary within the reach of their understandings. And at the same time he taketh the wise in their own craftiness. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes”----for all that is most valuable is as readily accessible to babes, as it is far from the wise and prudent. Thinking to be wise, they become fools. Thinking to be deep, they show themselves to be but shallow. They can analyze the soul, but they cannot make it feel. They can dissect the eye, but they cannot make it weep. They can penetrate outer space, but they cannot find terra firma. They can penetrate the past and prognosticate the future, but are of little use in the present. They can penetrate profound mysteries, but they cannot learn what babes know.

Usefulness lies in another direction, and so does depth. Deep thinking does not make a man a philosopher, but a little child. The deeper he thinks, the more securely he is settled upon that which is plain and simple. Nay, the more he delights in the plain and simple. In the simplest truths he finds all the beauty and symmetry he requires, to ravish and satisfy his soul, and all the materials he wants, to bless and edify the souls of others.

A Letter on the Terms of Discipleship

as the Terms of Salvation

by Glenn Conjurske

[Written in response to a letter reviewing my article on this theme, which appeared in Olde Paths & Ancient Landmarks, October, 2000.----editor.]

Dear Brother -------------,

I have looked over the materials you sent by ------------- V-------------. My first inclination is to say little in reply, for I will not be able to respond to such things without seeming to bear hard on the author of them, but I suppose you may wish to know what I think.

I find one thing truly amazing in his remarks on my article. The obvious purpose of my article was to demonstrate that my doctrine of discipleship was the doctrine of all the men of God in history. The amazing thing is that in fifteen pages of response to this article, Mr. V------------- does not once mention the main fact which it demonstrates, namely, that this was the doctrine of Richard Baxter and Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield and C. H. Spurgeon and Charles G. Finney and J. C. Ryle and William Kelly. Every word, then, which he writes against my gospel must militate with equal force against Edwards and Spurgeon and Kelly, etc., etc. I am quite accustomed to being charged with preaching a “works gospel,” with being a heretic, etc., by men of his theological stamp, but if “Glenn Conjurske sets forth not the gospel of the grace of God, but a different gospel----a legal/works gospel----which is not the gospel at all,” then the same is true of C. H. Spurgeon and Richard Baxter and Charles Wesley. Why does he not address this? This was obviously the main point and purpose of my article, and no stronger or more explicit statement on the subject could be so much as imagined than that which I have quoted from Spurgeon. Did Spurgeon preach another gospel also? Till Mr. V------------- faces this, he is really only begging the question. As things now stand, he is writing not only against Glenn Conjurske, but against all the great evangelists and men of God in history. Did they all preach a “works gospel,” and if so, are all their converts gone to hell?

The many scriptures which he cites concerning salvation are of course known and believed by myself, as they were by all those men whom I have quoted. Yet Baxter and Edwards and Spurgeon and Ryle could believe all those scriptures, and yet believe at the same time that the terms of discipleship are the terms of salvation. But there is a new brand of wisdom in the world, which can see nothing but stark contrasts where every man saw harmony before. C. I. Scofield was one of the progenitors of such wisdom, and Lewis Sperry Chafer a master of it. But I tell you plainly, it is no wisdom at all, but precisely the lack of it. It is only the ignorance of modern theology, coupled with the technical mode of thinking which belongs to the shallow intellectualism of modern times. Technical, artificial, and extreme ideas are affixed to every word, and in the light of this kind of thinking, if a thing is this, it of course cannot be that, whereas in very fact it is both. For example, this shallow thinking affirms that if salvation is a gift, it cannot be a reward, whereas the Bible plainly and explicitly affirms it to be both. What then? Why, it must be categorically affirmed of all those scriptures which present salvation as a reward that they have nothing to do with salvation, though the merest child can tell that they have. This is Mr. V-------------'s constant method, and there is no soundness in it. It consists of almost nothing but wresting the Scriptures----wresting half of them by exalting them to some artificial or technical extreme, and the other half by reducing them to nothing. His theology determines all, and the Bible determines nothing. It is a nose of wax in his hands, and he turneth it whithersoever he will. A little understanding of the things of which he speaks would change his proceedings altogether, along with his theology.

I am a dispensationalist, and I have no question that my dispensational principles are sound and solid, but this modern hyperdispensationalism (and this is really what it is) has degenerated into nothing more than a broad system of unbelief, by which the Scriptures are constantly wrested and emptied, the whole system existing for the sole purpose of maintaining antinomian notions of grace and salvation.

With reference to Luke 24:47 he quotes Lewis Sperry Chafer, saying, “Above all, the passage does not require human obligations with respect to salvation,” and here is the key to the thinking and theology of these men. The foundation of all is a false notion of grace, which entirely abrogates the responsibility of man. Directly in the teeth of dozens of plain scriptures, they are determined that there shall be no “human obligations with respect to salvation.” With this determination they come to every particular text of the Bible on the subject, and twist and wrest and empty every one of them. But if “the passage does not require human obligations with respect to salvation,” then repentance is not a human obligation, or, in plainer English, no man has any obligation to repent, though God now commandeth all men everywhere to do so. Or if, as these men will have it, “repentance” is only a synonym of “believing,” then no man has any obligation to believe. And how then will God judge men for not doing what they had no obligation to do?

And he can no more deal squarely with Paul than he can with Matthew or Luke. He refers to numerous verses in Galatians, but of course passes by Galatians 6:7-8. “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in doing good: for in due season we shall reap [life everlasting], if we faint not.” Everlasting life is here presented as a harvest to be reaped, and that in the future, by those who sow to the Spirit in the present, exactly parallel to the harvest of corruption to be reaped by those who sow to the flesh. This text has absolutely no place in Mr. V-------------'s theology, though Paul wrote it, and I can predict that if he deigns to touch the text at all, it will be to set aside its Greek grammar and empty it of its plain meaning, as John R. Rice and others do. Perhaps the text is corrupt here, and this verse has been accidentally transplanted to Paul from its proper place in the synoptic Gospels! At any rate, it “can have no application to the church,” which has eternal life as a present possession. Such is the usual manner in which these folks handle the Scriptures. All I ask is honest dealing with the Bible, and I find without exception that those who wrest the synoptic Gospels must wrest Paul also. They have no choice, for it is the same gospel and the same salvation which we find in both. But I tell you frankly, such theology stands more in need of rebuke than it does of refutation. It is unbelieving and impious.

But this brings me to Mr. V-------------'s assertions that the New Testament speaks of two different salvations and two different kinds of eternal life. I absolutely deny this. Mr. V------------- says, “it is crucial that we recognize that the 'eternal life' of the Synoptic Gospels and the 'eternal life' of the Gospel of John (and other [sic] NT epistles) are by no means the same thing or even different sides of the same coin; rather, they are completely distinct and unrelated to each other (though both are by grace alone through faith alone). The references in the Synoptics to 'entering into life' or 'inheriting eternal life' refer to entering into or inheriting eternal earthly kingdom life in the future, under the reign of the Messiah when His Kingdom is established on the earth.” Empty assertion, and really much worse than empty. What can he mean by “eternal earthly kingdom life”? We know that the earthly kingdom is not eternal, but limited to a thousand years. The life is eternal, and the possession of it is the possession of eternal salvation----the forgiveness of sins, and eternal glory----and that for endless ages after the termination of the earthly kingdom. And regardless of how many times it has been dogmatically asserted by this school, it is simply not true that the eternal life of the synoptic Gospels is earthly or millennial. The rich young ruler asked what he must do to “inherit eternal life,” and the Lord prescribed to him the terms of discipleship, and told him that, meeting these conditions, he would have “treasure in heaven.” The alchemy which can make this earthly or millennial may just as well turn the Bible into the Book of Mormon. But these folks never deal with this word “treasure in heaven,” for apparently they have not yet observed that it is there. I think they have been so busy outside the passage, looking for arguments by which to disallow it, that they have failed to delve into its precious contents, to discover what is there. If these folks but knew their Bibles, they would learn that the things which they disallow in the synoptic Gospels are to be found in Paul also, and that the gospel which they embrace in Paul is to be found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well. Let Mr. V------------- now explain how his notions of “eternal earthly kingdom life” will square with this “treasure in heaven,” which Christ preached to the rich young ruler as “eternal life.” It would not surprise me to hear him say, after the same manner in which he treats “repentance” in Luke 24:47, that heaven----here, not elsewhere----means the kingdom of heaven on earth, but by such tactics anything may be made to mean anything. Years ago I wrote a treatise on the terms of salvation. A young lady who read it, having known nothing but this modern theology, told me it was “as if someone switched on the light.” She was relieved to find that she could take the Bible to mean what it says, rather than perpetually trying to determine what it means, contrary to what it says. This is what Mr. V------------- needs. Regardless of the circumstances under which it is received, eternal life is eternal, and the possession of it is nothing other than the eternal salvation which we now possess. We know that those who enter the earthly kingdom will do so in the flesh, with the same animal life which we now live, but that “earthly kingdom life” is not eternal. They will also have that same eternal life which we possess ourselves.

I utterly repudiate the notion which finds a different gospel in the synoptics, and in John. Analyze this, and it becomes ridiculous----too much so for serious consideration, seeing that those two contrary gospels were both preached by the same Christ, during the same period of his earthly ministry, and to the same persons, and with no hint or warning that they were two different gospels, or two different salvations. And as a plain matter of fact, he preached nothing “in the synoptics,” nor in John either, but did all his preaching on the same earth and in general to the same people, many years before any of those Gospels were written. On the plan of Mr. V-------------, those who heard his preaching must have said on some occasions, “These things apply to us, for they will be written down in future decades in the Gospel of John,” but on other occasions, “Today's sermon does not apply to us, for it will some day be recorded by Matthew or Luke.” To such absurdities as this we must be reduced by this hyperdispensational theology. But the plain fact is, Christ's hearers of necessity applied all that he preached to themselves, and took it all to be the true gospel of the grace of God, which it certainly was. Mark commences his Gospel with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Not “the king of Israel,” but “the Son of God.” Anyone who can find in this a different gospel than Paul preached, or a different gospel than John recorded, is trifling with Scripture. This is “THE gospel of Jesus Christ”----the only gospel there is.

Nay, more. It is Paul who writes, and that in Second Timothy, when I should think the present “dispensation of the grace of God” must certainly have begun already, “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.” Now we know that the holy Scriptures which Timothy knew from a child were those of the Old Testament, and Paul affirms that those Old Testament Scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation, obviously that same “salvation” which Paul preached everywhere, which is “through faith in Christ Jesus.” Will anyone dare to contend that the “salvation” of which Paul here speaks is earthly, millennial salvation----in Second Timothy? So then, the Old Testament is ABLE to make us wise unto salvation, but the synoptic Gospels are not!! David and Isaiah are, but Matthew and Mark are not!

Mr. V------------- wants to make the passages on discipleship refer to the evidences of salvation already possessed, rather than the terms by which it is to be received, but this is only more wresting of Scripture. The rich young ruler asks “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and the Lord prescribes the terms of discipleship. This is the condition of inheriting life, not something which flows from the possession of it. And so it is with all the discipleship passages, unless we invert and scramble them. The terms of discipleship are always the condition, never the evidence. But it is evident that Mr. V-------------'s theology determines all, and the Bible determines nothing.

Most of his particular objections I have abundantly answered in former articles----such as the assertion that “repentance” is a synonym for “believing” in Luke 24:47, and his objections concerning the penitent thief.

Well, but “there is safety in numbers.” He has the theological climate of the whole present age on his side (nothing to glory in, really), and can quote many moderns in support of his doctrines. Against that I set the testimony of all the great men of God of all the past ages. On that point he answers not a word. Truly, it is something he ought to consider.

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