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Vol. 10, No. 3
Mar., 2001

Submitting One to Another

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on July 26, 2000

by Glenn Conjurske

Is it ever right for a husband to submit to his wife?

Is it ever right for parents to submit to their children?

Is it ever right for a king to submit to his subjects?

I believe without question that all these things are good and proper, and I aim to prove it to you from the Bible. In Ephesians 5:21 Paul says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This requires all of us, regardless of our position or authority, to submit to others, regardless of their inferior station. “Submitting one to another”----each to all, husbands to wives and wives to husbands, children to parents and parents to children, servants to masters and masters to servants.

Long ago I read a beautiful statement of this from Cathy Rice, the wife of Bill Rice. She was endeavoring to teach the women to submit to their husbands, but some of them did not like the doctrine, and asked her, “Do you mean to tell us that you always do whatever your husband asks of you?” She assured them that she did. When she went home she asked Bill, “Haven't I always done everything that you have asked me to?” He assured her that she had, and added, “And I have always done everything that you have asked me to.” This is “submitting one to another.”

But you will say, this was easy for them. They had a good marriage. They were in love. No doubt, and no doubt this did make it easy. They were agreed in their principles also, and this no doubt made it very easy. But I tell you, where the submission is more difficult it is also more necessary. The more strained the marriage, the less agreement there is in principle, the worse the relationship between parents and children, the more necessary this submission becomes, especially on the part of those who hold the authority. A gentle submission on their part will tend greatly to make the relationship better, where a stubborn insistence upon their own way will make it immeasurably worse. Submission one to another will ease the tensions and smooth the path of all concerned.

But here I must caution you against a false and evil use of this text. Much of the modern church, under the influence of modern feminism, perverts this text entirely, and uses it to teach that the husband owes the same kind of submission to the wife that the wife owes to the husband. Marriage is a “partnership,” with nobody in charge. Years ago I knocked on the door of a Baptist pastor. His wife came to the door, and I asked her facetiously, “Is your master at home?” She looked offended, and said, “My partner is.” She would not call him her lord, as Sarah called Abraham. They were equal partners, and nobody was in charge.

But I tell you, if the husband has the same obligation to submit to the wife as the wife has to the husband, you create an impossible situation. Nobody has the determining power. They must either always agree, or have a tie vote, with nobody to break the tie. Each holds one of the reins, and the poor horse is likely to be mighty confused at times.

But speaking of horses, I recall a story I heard years ago from John R. Rice. He spoke of a man who was taken to court for adulterating his rabbit sausage with horse meat. The judge asked him if he didn't put a little horse meat in his rabbit sausage. He admitted that he did. “How much,” asked the judge. “Fifty-fifty,” he replied. “Fifty-fifty!” exclaimed the astonished judge, to which the man replied, “Yes, Sir: one horse and one rabbit.” And John R. Rice added, “And when a woman tells me her marriage is a 'fifty-fifty proposition,' I can tell you who the horse is, and who's the rabbit.”

But I do not believe any of this modern doctrine which makes husband and wife equal, with neither of them holding the authority, and both of them equally obliged to submit to each other. This is as unscriptural as it is impossible. The plain fact is, the wife owes a submission to her husband that he does not owe to her, and children owe a submission to their parents that their parents do not owe to them.

We are dealing here with two different kinds of submission. All those who are under authority have an obligation to submit to the commands imposed upon them by that authority, but all of us, authority or no authority, have an obligation to submit to the wishes of all the rest. Submission to the commands imposed by authority is mandatory. Submission to the wishes of those who are under us is voluntary. You will tell me that if this submission is voluntary, then it cannot be an obligation, but I tell you, “Nonsense.” Love is voluntary also, and yet we are obliged to love. Christians have an obligation to support their preachers, and yet their gifts are voluntary. There are many things which are voluntary, and yet obligatory. This submission is voluntary in that it is at our own discretion when or how much of it we do, but we are certainly obliged to do it. The scripture does not merely advise us to do this, but orders us to.

The submission to authority proceeds always in one direction, from the subject to his superior. The submission to each other's wishes proceeds equally in both directions. This it is that Paul speaks of in First Corinthians 7, 33 and 34. “He that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife,” and “she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” This works equally in both directions, while the authority of the husband remains intact. He holds the determining power, and the veto power.

But the man who holds authority over others, and does not make it his constant study to please them and submit to their wishes, is utterly unfit to exercise his authority. All authority comes from God, and it is designed to be a benefit to its subjects, but if a man holds authority, and cares nothing to please his subjects, or to submit to their wishes, that authority will be nothing more than a heavy burden on their backs. He is unworthy the name of father or husband, for he is really a tyrant.

And I will tell you another thing. No man's position of authority is secure unless he makes it his study to submit to those who are under him. If he cares nothing for their wishes, they will care nothing for him. We see a plain example of this in the foolish son of the wise Solomon. In

I Kings chapter 12 we read of Rehoboam's accession to the throne of Israel. The people come immediately to him, saying, “Thy father made our yoke grievous. Now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he laid upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.” The king requires three days in which to give an answer. He first asked the old men, who stood before his father, and they told him wisely, “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.”

“But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him.” This was utterly foolish. Why consult with anybody at all? The young men that were grown up with him had no more sense than he had himself, and he ought to have known that the old counsellors of Solomon must have been wise. But he played the fool, and took the counsel of the young men, and how utterly foolish it was soon appeared.

He spoke to the people “after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke; my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”

“So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel. Now see to thine own house, David.”

What else could he have expected? By showing the people that he cared nothing for their grievances, and that he would not serve them nor submit to them, he showed them that he was utterly unfit to rule them. His answer reeks of pride. He would show them who was king, but all he showed them was that he was utterly unfit to be a king. From that moment both his person and his authority were despised, and this could hardly have been otherwise.

You will tell me this was very naughty, it was rebellion, it was resisting the authority which was established by God, it was rejecting the Lord's anointed. Perhaps so, but still it was inevitable. Abuse of authority always spawns the rejection of that authority----and it is certainly an abuse of authority to refuse to submit to the reasonable suits of our subjects. Those who stand in positions of authority represent God, and yet they are utterly unlike him if they care nothing for the feelings and grievances of their people.

And as it was with Rehoboam, so it is with every man who holds authority. If he does not make it his business to submit to the wishes of his subjects, his whole course will wear away at his own authority. All his deportment will weaken his own position, till his person and position and power are all despised. This is inevitable. You may preach the “divine right of kings” till your tongue is tired, and bring all your powers of reason, and all your strong scriptures, to prove the God-given powers of husbands and parents and elders, and it will all avail you nothing, unless you make it your business to submit to the wishes of your subjects. Apart from this, they may submit to you of necessity, but it will never be a willing submission, and they will long for the day when they may escape from the burden of your authority. I know children today who are longing for their escape from their parents' authority, and it is the parents' fault, not the children's. If you submit to their wishes, you secure their hearts. “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day,” the old counsellors say, “and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.” You will secure their hearts, and when that is done all is done. But if the heart is not secured, nothing is secured.

But when, how much, how often, ought superiors to submit to the wishes of their underlings? They ought to submit as much and as often as they can----as much as wisdom and reason and conscience will allow it. On any other plan they deny the wishes of others merely at their own whim.

We know there are two sides to every question. We know that we have in this day a great horde of self-willed persons who dislike authority as such----except when they hold it themselves. A man fifteen hundred miles away once took me to task for determining everything in the congregation without consulting the people. I told him the charge was false. When I mentioned the charge to some of you, you told me it was ridiculous.

I never determine anything without consulting the people. I may not consult every babe and every child, or every person on every matter, but I consult the people in general. I may hold the determining power in my own hands----this is right, this is of God----but I always consult the feelings of the people. If I had determined the matter of my own will, we would use fermented wine in the Lord's supper, as Christ and the apostles certainly did, but I found some of the people strongly against it, and I was glad to submit to them. I don't always submit. I will not admit certain hymns in our meetings merely because somebody likes them. I won't admit all the hymns which I like myself. Truth must prevail over pleasing music, and even over spiritual emotion, and reason and wisdom must prevail over the tastes and wishes of us all. I cannot, therefore, always submit to the wishes of everybody, but I make it my business to consider them. To submit to the wishes of those who are determined to have their own way will do no good to them or anybody else, and to submit to the belligerent wishes of anybody is only to invite more of the same. The determining power must lie somewhere, or we will have anarchy and confusion.

I asked you at the beginning whether it is ever right and proper for husbands to submit to wives, or parents to children, and some of you indicated you believe it is. You believe, in other words, that it is right for those who hold the positions of authority to submit to those who are under them. But let me ask you a further question. Is it ever right and proper for God to submit to man? Is it ever right for the supreme ruler of the universe to submit to the wishes of his creatures? It certainly is, and he certainly does so. But observe, it is never proper for him to submit to their commands or demands or dictates. Neither will he ever do so, unless to take the wise in their own craftiness, or to destroy the wicked by their own devices. But God submits to the wishes of his people, and in all this we see those two kinds of submission of which we have spoken before. We are obliged to submit to the commands of God, while he is pleased to submit to our wishes. The latter fact is the foundation of our praying.

Take one plain example. God sent his prophet to Hezekiah, saying, “Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die, and not live.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and wept sore. He labored to change the mind of God. He said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.” And God heard his prayer, saw his tears, and submitted to his wishes.

And I want you to observe well the significance of this. If God, the supreme ruler of the universe, will submit to the wishes of his sinful creatures, what right have the petty powers which he has created to disregard the wishes of their subjects? It must be the height of hypocrisy for a husband or a parent to treat with cold indifference, or contempt or anger, the wishes of their wives or children, and then go to God with their own wishes, and expect God to hear them. Even if we believe ourselves in the right, and the wishes of others altogether mistaken, yet mild and gentle measures become us, who are sinners ourselves. If we are in the right, and others in the wrong, yet we cease to be right as soon as we adopt high-handed measures. You think you are right, but no man has any more right to force the conscience of another to make him do right, than he has to force his conscience to make him do wrong. It may sometimes be necessary to force the heart, but this we ought to do with reluctance. Where it concerns a matter which means a great deal to the other party, we ought to do so only with the greatest hesitation, where there is some compelling necessity for it. There are doubtless cases where we ought not to do it at all. High-handed measures may secure us a temporary advantage or victory, but they will always work against us in the end, where mild and gentle ways will secure the hearts of the others, if they do not convince their minds.

But I do not preach any such foolish doctrine as that we ought always to submit to the wishes of our subjects. This would make authority a non-entity, and it would make wisdom useless. Parents who always submit to the wishes of their children make spoiled brats of them. This is foolish. But yet I tell you, it ought to hurt us to deny the wishes of our subjects. My little boy came to me some time ago with a rather large request, which I was obliged to deny. I was simply unable to grant it. And yet I dare say I felt the disappointment much more than he did. I feel it still----feel it often----though I dare say he has long since forgotten about it. And I still often meditate upon how I might grant it yet.

We ought sometimes to deny the wishes of our subjects. Reason and wisdom and conscience may often require this of us. We hold our authority for the benefit of our subjects, not merely for the immediate happiness of every individual as such. Sometimes the will of one must be sacrificed to the good of the whole church or family, and sometimes for the good of the individual himself. But we have no right whatever to treat their wishes with cold indifference, or to purposely cross them, merely to “show them who's boss.” This is contemptible, and in the end it will bring their contempt upon us. But it is not the contempt of our subjects which concerns me here, but the disapproval of God. Our text says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

But what has the fear of God to do with your submitting to the wishes of those who are beneath you? Much every way. Turn with me to Colossians 4:1. Here we are told, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” And what does this have to do with the matter. Just this, that your Master in heaven will deal with you as you have dealt with others, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” God will see to it that you receive the same treatment which you have dealt out to others. If you have treated the wishes of your wife or your children----or your husband or your parents, for that matter----with cold indifference, God will treat your own wishes the same way. When you are crying to him, and wondering why he will neither hear nor heed your prayers, you need only look at the way in which you have treated the petitions of others. This is what the fear of God has to do with the matter.

Again in Ephesians 6:9, “And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.” He has been exhorting servants to obey their masters, and render them good service, and now he turns to the masters, and says, “do the same things unto them.” Do the same things to them that you expect them to do to you. Not, of course, that masters are to obey their servants, but they are to submit to their wishes----to honestly and carefully seek their welfare and their happiness, the same way that you expect them to seek yours. Any why this? Because your own Master is in heaven, and he will do to you as you have done to others. As you have measured to others, he will measure back to you, and good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. If you therefore value your own happiness, you ought to be very careful about the happiness of others, and submit to their wishes in the fear of God, in whose hands lies your own welfare.

If you ask when, and how often, and how much we ought to submit to the wishes of others, I say, Do unto others as you would have God do unto you. Measure to others as you would have God measure to you. Most of us probably have more sense than to expect God to submit to our every whim. We can easily forgo this, if he will but grant us the things which mean the most to us. Then study to do the same to your wives and your children----not to say to your husbands and parents. All of you submit to one another, and certainly in those things which matter most to the others. Make this your business, and God will make it his business to do the same to you.

Well, but you will ask me if I practice what I preach. I think I do, though I know I am a poor failing creature. I like to feed the birds, and have a couple of bird feeders outside my study window, but the chipmunks like to come and eat everything. And they don't eat their fill as the birds do, and then go their way, but fill their cheeks with load after load, and carry it off, leaving nothing for the birds. So I got myself a B-B gun, and began to make war on them. But one of my daughters told me the gun “has an awful sound,” and “makes her blood run cold.” So I told her I would put it up and not use it. This was something that obviously meant a great deal to her, and I would be a fool----and something worse too----not to submit to her wishes in such a matter, though from my viewpoint her wishes were not very reasonable. They may not even be very reasonable from her viewpoint, but her viewpoint is not reason, but emotion. She may know better----she grants many things must be killed for many reasons----but still she cannot help feeling what she feels, and I will not go on wounding her feelings if I can help it. Just this morning a squirrel came to clean out my bird feeder. I walked outside and approached him, but he sat there and looked at me. I clapped my hands, but still he sat there. I walked almost up to him, and by slow stages he sauntered off. I could have shot him ten times, but no: “That gun has an awful sound,” and “It makes my blood run cold.” So I left it on the shelf, and the squirrel went free, to come again as he pleases. He has chewed holes in the wall and ceiling of my shed, and I would love to get rid of him, and before he has a wife and a brood of little ones too. I may do so yet, somehow, but as to the gun, I submit to the feelings and wishes of my precious daughter, and you may call me weak and foolish if you please.

Thus we ought to submit one to another. If the matter evidently means a great deal to the other party, and we have no sufficient reason to deny it----and our own pride or selfishness is hardly a sufficient reason----we ought to submit to their wishes. And if those who stand in the positions of authority will aim always thus to submit to their subjects, their yoke will be an easy one, and their inferiors will be glad to bear it.

Menno Simons (1505?-1559)

on the Terms of Salvation

In the second place we exhort you in the language of Christ, “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel,” Mark 1:15. Oh, thou faithful word of grace! Oh, thou faithful word of divine love! thou art read in books, sung in hymns, preached with the mouth, with life and death proclaimed in many countries, but in thy power they desire thee not; yea more, all those who rightly teach and receive thee, are made a prey for the whole world. Alas, beloved Sirs, it will avail us nothing to be called christians, and boast of the Lord's blood, death, merits, grace and Gospel, as long as we are not converted from this wicked, impious and shameful life. It is in vain that we are called christians; that Christ died; that we were born in the day of grace, and baptized with water, if we do not walk according to his law, counsel, admonition, will and command and are not obedient to his word.
----The Complete Works of Menno Simon. Elkhart, Indiana: John F. Funk and Brother, 1871, First Part, pg. 17.

Behold, dear reader, the repentance we teach, is to die unto sin, and all ungodly works, and live no longer according to the lusts of the flesh, even as David did, 2 Sam. 13:12; 18:1. When he was reproved by the prophet on account of his adultery, and for numbering the people, he wept bitterly, called upon God, forsook the evil, and committed these sinful abominations no more. Peter sinned very grievously but once, and no more. Matthew, after being called by the Saviour, did not again return to his ways of life. Zaccheus and the sinful woman did not again return to their impure works of darkness. Zaccheus made restitution to those whom he had defrauded, and gave half of his goods to the poor and distressed. The woman wept very bitterly, and washed the feet of the Lord with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; she anointed them with precious ointment, and sat humbly at his feet, to listen to his blessed words.

These are the precious fruits of that repentance, which is acceptable to the Lord. . .

Such a repentance we teach, and no other, namely, that no one can glory in the grace of God, the forgiveness of sins, the merits of Christ, and count himself pious, unless he has truly repented. It is not enough that we say, we are Abraham's children, that is, that we are called christians and esteemed as such, but we must do the works of Abraham, that is, we must walk as all true children of God are commanded by his word, as John writes, “If we say, we have fellowship with him (God) and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sins,” 1 Jn. 1:6,7.

I ask all my readers, if they ever have read in the scriptures, that an impenitent, obdurate man, who fears not God nor his word, who is earthly minded, sensual, devilish, and lives according to his lusts, can be called a child of God and a joint heir of Christ? I believe you will be constrained to answer, no. But he that with all his heart, ceases from evil and learns to do well, to him the grace of the Lord is proclaimed throughout the whole scriptures, as the prophet says, “Wash ye, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” Isa. 1:16-18. Again, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die; all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him,” Ezek. 18:21,22. And further, read and search the whole scriptures, the true instructions and testimonies of the holy prophets, evangelists and apostles, and you will find it clearly set forth, how this godly repentance is to be earnestly received and practiced, and that without it no one can receive grace, enter into the kingdom of heaven, or ever hope for it.
----ibid., pg. 18.

But if you, by any means, wish to be saved, your earthly, carnal, ungodly life, must be reformed; for the Scriptures teach nothing but true repentance and reformation, and present to us [to move us to repent] admonitions, threatenings, reprovings, miracles, examples, ceremonies and sacraments; and if you do not repent, there is nothing in heaven or on earth that can save you; for without true repentance, we are comforted in vain. The prophet says, “O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths,” Isa. 3:12. We must be born from above, must be changed and renewed in our hearts, transplanted from the unrighteous and evil nature of Adam, into the true and good nature of Christ, or we can never be saved by any means, whether human or divine. Wherever true repentance and the new creature are not (I speak of adults), man must be eternally lost; this is incontrovertibly clear. Upon this every one may confidently rely, who does not wish to deceive his soul.
----ibid., pg. 169.

Catherine Booth on Mock Salvation

[Catherine Booth was the wife of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. I should point out that when she speaks of “being actually saved,” she means actually delivered from sin. ----editor.]

No mere intellectual beliefs can save men, because right opinions do not make right hearts. Alas, we all know the little practical effect opinions have on character. ... As a French infidel, answering a caviller against holiness, said the other day, “You believe and sin, I do not believe and sin: where is the difference? It seems to me I am the better of the two.” Exactly, for however true or grand a man's beliefs, of what use are they if he does not act them out? “Can faith save him?” Nay, verily, but such a faith can damn him.

Further, any theory which leads men to suppose that they are safe without being actually saved is the most dreadful of all.

Such a theory adds an intellectual opiate to the deceit of the heart, and prevents the truth from troubling the conscience. Now, the only use of appealing to the understandings of the unregenerate, is, that through their understandings you may get at their hearts, but if Satan has “blinded their minds” by some intellectual opiate, there is no chance. The understanding is darkened, the conscience seared, and the soul paralyzed. These are the worst people in the world to preach to; when I had to preach to them, how I groaned many a time for a congregation of heathen. I have found such now in the Salvation Army----I mean, a people whose understandings are not darkened by these false theories and intellectual conceits. One can get the light in through their heads into their hearts, and this is the reason of our success with them; and is not this the reason why the publicans and the harlots have always gone into the kingdom of God, while the natural children of the kingdom have been left out?

A man is either saved or not; the fact is independent of his theory, and it is of comparatively little consequence what his theory may be if he be saved. Hence many savages and Catholics have rejoiced in a consciousness of pardon, while many evangelicals have never known it. A man is either under the dominion of sin, or else he is delivered from it. If he is under the dominion of sin, what an awful theory is that which makes him believe he is saved. Could the devil have invented a more damning theory than that? And yet, alas! alas! he allures millions to destruction through it, who otherwise would take alarm and begin to seek salvation. He says to all the qualms of conscience and the pangs of remorse, “You are all right, you believe this or the other, your faith is orthodox, you are safe,” frequently quoting separated or mutilated texts to back up his lying insinuations, such as----”By faith ye are saved;” “He that believeth shall be saved;” “You are complete in Him,” etc. This latter phrase has come to express, in numbers of instances, the most utter ruin to which the human soul can be brought. “Complete in Christ!” complete without any true repentance, without any offering of the heart, without the slightest change inward or outward, “complete in Him,” while living without Him, having no conscious connection with Him whatever; complete without losing one evil feature of the godless life, without receiving one grace of any kind, without doing or suffering anything, except perhaps a whispered “I believe”; complete all in a minute, since somebody pointed to a text with which perhaps the poor victim had been familiar all his life. Complete in Christ with a gnawing consciousness at the heart that is as sinful, as empty, as powerless, and as joyless as ever; complete as a poor corpse would be complete, if painted and dressed in the clothes of a living man! May God save you from any such mock salvation as this.
----Popular Christianity, by Mrs. Booth. Boston, Mass.: McDonald, Gill & Co., 1888, pp. 44-47.

A Letter on the Rich Young Ruler

& the Terms of Salvation

by Glenn Conjurske

Dear G--------,

Thanks for forwarding to me the remarks of M-------- H------------. Naturally, I preach a “false gospel.” If so, it ought to be easy enough to prove it false. But none of my opponents answer my arguments. Only say “false gospel,” and all the work is done, without ever touching the substance of the matter. This is easy, and “there is safety in numbers.” But I think men like Mr. H------------ would have work enough, and hopefully some second thoughts also, if they would seriously endeavor to answer what I have written.

Mr. H------------ says, “Christ did NOT tell the rich young ruler to submit to Christ unconditionally.” No, not in those words, but he did in essence. To forsake all and follow Christ is to submit to him unconditionally. Is not this obvious? But as is typical of modern orthodoxy, he wants to put a rigidly literal or technically extreme sense upon the command, and then assert that no one has kept it, not even myself. Thus he uses the letter of the command to set aside its spirit. Let us rather say with Richard Baxter, “In estimation, affection, and resolution, it must be forsaken by all that will be saved; and also in practice, whenever God calls us to it.” This is the spirit of the thing, as I have shown in my sermon on “Forsaking all.” I do not suppose that even the rich young ruler understood the command in any rigidly literal sense. I do not suppose he thought the Lord expected him to sell the clothes off his back, and follow him naked. Meanwhile, all my arguments on the passage remain unanswered.

Nor does Mr. H------------deal fairly with my words. He says, “His REAL gripe is that 'since that time I have learned that all the great preachers of the past have held that repentance, righteousness, holiness, and discipleship are the necessary terms of salvation...' (pg. 270). As the title of his Journal indicates..., the author's REAL authority is not the Bible but selected parts of Church History.” Thus he quotes half of my sentence, puts three dots for the rest of it, and then inserts in its place what directly contradicts the part of my sentence which he suppressed.

My whole sentence, with the next, reads thus: “Since that time I have learned that all the great preachers of the past have held that repentance, righteousness, holiness, and discipleship are the necessary terms of salvation, but I did not learn these things from the great men of past, but from the Bible alone, taken at face value, and implicitly trusted. I learned these doctrines, not from the men of the past, but from the same Book from which they learned them.” And this is the plain truth. I did not learn these things from church history at all, but from the Bible, and “since that time”----since I learned them from the Bible----I have also “learned that all the great preachers of the past have held” the same doctrines. But I held the doctrines before I had read enough of the men of the past to know what they held. I think you have read enough of my writings to vouch for it that the Bible certainly is my authority. I do not hesitate to differ from Wesley and Spurgeon and Baxter and Bunyan, when the Bible calls for it. How could I do otherwise, when they so often disagree with each other? But on the terms of salvation they are all (essentially) agreed, and I am with them, and so is the Bible.

But supposing my gospel is false and legal, it must be harmless enough, since it was preached by all the great evangelists in history. I only repeat, no stronger or more explicit statement on the subject could be imagined than that which I have quoted from Spurgeon. Let all who accuse me of preaching a false gospel affirm now that Spurgeon also preached a false gospel. Honesty and consistency demand this of them. They cannot deny it, with my quotations from Spurgeon before them. But you know it is usual with men to build the sepulchres of the dead prophets, while they stone the living ones, though there be not a whit of difference between the two.

But I do not cite Spurgeon or anyone else as authority, but only because I know how easily the present age can brush off Glenn Conjurske, and because I hope they will give more deference to the united voice of the well known and highly esteemed men of God of past ages----not to submit to their dicta as authoritative, but to consider what moved them to believe as they did. And neither do I appeal to some “selected part of Church History,” as H------------- characterizes it, but to the united voice of all the well known men from the church fathers to the present time, though the twentieth century witnessed a large departure from the old doctrines.

But Mr. H------------- will direct me to a “selected part of Church History”----an extremely narrow part, and certainly not representative of the broad spectrum----The Marrow of Modern Divinity. I must say, he had to scrape hard to find an ally! and he selects a man who is unknown for anything except this book, and almost altogether unknown. I quote all the great evangelists and leaders of movements, whose names are household words in the church to this day, and deservedly so, while not one in a thousand has ever heard of Mr. Fisher. His book, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, was condemned for its antinomianism by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1720. It has been very popular with many, primarily, no doubt, because its main thrust is to establish high Calvinism, and Calvinists almost always judge everything and everybody by the single issue of Calvinism. I have little doubt that many Calvinists who esteem that book would peremptorily reject its antinomianism, if they thought so far as to perceive it. But their general assumption is that if it is Calvinistic, it is sound, and they inquire no further. But regardless of that, the part which you sent to me is as thoroughly antinomian as anything could well be, and it certainly stands in direct contradiction to the plain doctrines of Baxter and Bunyan and Matthew Henry and Wesley and Whitefield and Edwards and Spurgeon and Finney and Moody and Torrey----and many more of the same stamp, including virtually all the great men in the history of the church. No doubt some of them might unguardedly echo some of the sentiments expressed in the Marrow when they were dealing with convicted and despairing sinners, but they said enough on the other side whenever a shade of antinomianism appeared.

And “The Difference Between the Law and the Gospel” which this paper sets forth is utterly false. I agree entirely with its definition of the law, as a system which requires perfect obedience, but the corollary of that is not that the gospel requires no obedience at all----”no condition”----no moral work. Taken at face value, this will exclude even faith. At any rate it is blatant antinomianism. He goes beyond even the modern antinomians, and finds the law not only in the synoptic Gospels, but even in Paul. Of every text which savors of moral responsibility, we are to say, That does not apply to me. It would be difficult to conceive of antinomianism more glaring than this. It sweeps away Synoptics and John and Christ and Peter and Paul with one stroke. But this is the natural fruit of his high Calvinism. It is a very small step for those who believe in total inability and irresistible grace to abrogate altogether man's moral responsibility. Repentance is certainly a “moral work,” and it is certainly required by the gospel. And as I have often pointed out before, it is confusion to make repentance a work of the law. The law requires no such thing, and in the nature of the case cannot. There is no place for repentance under a system which requires perfect obedience. Once sin, and all is lost, for “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Repentance can avail nothing. Repentance is peculiarly a Gospel requirement, as Spurgeon and others have pointed out long before me. I observe an almost complete silence concerning repentance in this paper. It is only mentioned once, in a clause which is too obscure to make much sense of. But it is the most shallow sort of thinking to suppose that it must be either perfect obedience or mere believing. There is plenty of solid ground between them, such as that occupied by Richard Baxter, who insists that sincere obedience (not perfect obedience) is required by the Gospel, and is the condition of eternal life. Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.” This is clear enough, but, of course, antinomian theologians will wish to retranslate the verse.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


God made the country, and man made the town.

This is strictly true, as a plain matter of fact, but the proverb is not a mere truism, nor a mere statement of fact. Its intent is a moral one, designed to express the superiority of the country over the city. God knows better, and builds better, than man can do. “God made the country, and,” not content with God's handiwork, “man made the town.”

God is of course the builder of “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” (Heb. 11:10), but this city belongs to “a heavenly country.” (Heb. 11:16). It is there, where man is pure from all taint of sin, where there will be no evil communications to corrupt good manners, where love and good fellowship will reign supreme, that God “hath prepared them a city.” But God never built a city on earth. Though man was commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” yet God gave him no cities to fill. The whole earth was then “the country,” and the Lord placed man in a garden, not in a jungle of bricks and concrete. The whole earth was country, and God's first command to man, to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” mandated that it should remain that way. When man gathered together in one place, to build the city of Babel, this was in direct contravention of the command which God had given him. God made the first pair gardeners----farmers, if you will----and their immediate posterity were farmers also, tilling the ground and keeping sheep, and living therefore in a rural atmosphere. All this till Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord,” (Gen. 4:16)----shortly to be followed by, “he builded a city.”

It is strictly true, then, that “God made the country, and man made the town,” and true also that the country bears the stamp of the wise and benign hand of God, while the city bears the image of sinful man that made it. Look at the country and we see quiet restfulness, beauty and serenity, peace and contentment. Look at the city and we see dirt and din, hustle and bustle, wealth and luxury, evil communications, greed, and crime, and sin.

Alas, even the country is too often defiled by the presence of man, so that a thousand times, in seeing the beautiful landscape strewn with beer cans, or defouled with vile graffiti, or in beholding the country quiet destroyed by reckless dirt bikes or racing speed boats, or by ball games or nasty music blaring from loud radios, the profound and beautiful lines of Reginald Heber have forced themselves into our mind:

”Where every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile.”

We make no apology for loving the country, nor for our aversion to the city either. The Lord himself was often alone on the mountain top, or in the wilderness. This was his closet of prayer. And what quiet rest we find in the peaceful country fields and lanes! What delightful times of prayer and meditation, as we walk through the woods on some old fire lane or deer trail, or ride our bicycle on a quiet country road! Our soul then exactly echoes the sentiments of Francis Asbury, who spent much of his life alone on the back of a horse, and mostly in the country. Says he,

“Now, I say to my body, return to thy labour; to my soul, return to thy rest, and pure delight in reading, meditation, and prayer, and solitude. The shady groves are witness to my retired and sweetest hours: to sit, and melt, and bow alone before the Lord, whilst the melody of the birds warbles from tree to tree----how delightful!”

“How sweet to me are all the moving and still-life scenes which now surround me on every side!----The quiet country-houses; the fields and orchards, bearing the promise of the fruitful year; the flocks and herds, the hills and vales, and dewy meads; the gliding streams and murmuring brooks; and thou, too, solitude----with thy attendants, silence and meditation----how dost thou solace my pensive mind after the tempest of fear, and care, and tumult, and talk experienced in the noisy, bustling city!”

Such delightful times we often seek ourselves, and often enjoy, and what could inspire a poet's pen like this? We yield to the inspiration upon occasion, perhaps once a year, and present to our readers some of our children thus begotten. If these may serve to inspire any with the love of the country, we will consider ourselves well paid for our labor.

The Country

Away from dirt, and din, and care,
I breathe the quiet country air,
At rest in sweet serenitude,
And hushed and holy solitude.

I view the panorama wide,
My soul's delight----the countryside:
The cloudless blue above my head,
The aging barn, of faded red,
The open fields, the shady glens,
The sun-clad hills, the clucking hens,
The gravel roads, the old stone pile,
Th' enchanting scent of chamomile,
The cattle grazing on the hill,
The blue jay scolding, sharp and shrill,
The songsters warbling in the trees,
The cow-bell tinkling o'er the breeze,
The rooster's crow to wake the day,
The frogs to sing the night away,
The wayside buttercup to bloom,
The rose to yield its soft perfume,
The bees to buzz, the breeze to blow,
The grass to wave, the creeks to flow,
The sun to shine, the crows to call,
And calm content enfolding all.

Ah! country wide! in thee I roam,
In every field and glen at home,
At peace in every meadow green,
On every sunny slope, serene,
Content by every gurgling brook,
At rest in every wayside nook,
Where every daisy blooms for me,
And every sound is harmony.

Ah, here my captive soul would dwell,
Enchained by some idyllic spell,
My lingering footsteps still remain,
In every quiet country lane,
Where every shaded road invites
To placid scenes and soul delights.
Ah, here my tranquil soul would stay,
Amidst the smell of new-mown hay,
Where grayed and tott'ring fence-posts stand,
And all is peace on every hand.


Where Time Stands Still

I walked today where time stood still----
Of country bliss I took my fill----
In country meadow, country glade,
In country sunshine, country shade,
Beneath a spreading maple tree,
Immersed in calm serenity,
My God above, my thoughts within,
And worlds away from care and din.

Here every daisy blooms for me,
And all the goldenrods agree;
The brown-eyed Susans meet me here,
Irradiating country cheer;
The purple asters add their hue,
And nameless beauties not a few.

The blue jay screams: I enter bliss;
What therapeutic noise is this!
What restful tones!----what soothing sound!---
With placid country all around.

The unsuspecting antlered deer,
Serene, majestic, wanders near;
The lofty spruces stately stand;
The blushing berries wait my hand;
The smiling sun above me shines;
The breezes whisper through the pines;
The milkweed's fragrance floods my soul,
And country quiet fills the whole.

No bustle here, no city rush,
To blight my tranquil spirit's hush;
No cares to haunt, no tasks to call,
No hurry here----no time at all----
No fleeting minutes passing by,
No hours to flit, no time to fly;
No haste disturbs, no cares arise,
For time stands still in Paradise.


Buy the Truth, and Sell It Not

by Glenn Conjurske

So we are commanded in Proverbs 23:23, which reads in full, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.”

Strange things have been made of this verse by the hyperspiritual. Some years ago I had a certain reader of this magazine----I cannot call him a subscriber----who very solemnly admonished me concerning my practice of selling my books and magazines. This, he told me, was in direct disobedience to this plain command of the Bible, not to sell the truth. When I sent out the yearly renewal notices for the magazine, he would write me a letter and send me a check, usually for more than the subscription amount, but without a single word as to whether he wanted the magazine, or what the money was for. I guessed that this was his way of securing the magazine without directly contributing to my delinquency in selling it. He would not buy a book or tape recording from me, but wanted to send me (from Mexico) a blank tape or computer disk, have me copy the works on his blanks, and send them back to Mexico. This, I told him, was foolish, as the postage to send his materials from Mexico and back would cost him more than it would to buy them from me, but that he could not do, without compromising his principles. We are forced to wonder where the man got his Bible. If he did not buy it, someone else did, and of course someone sold it. The man must have had no library worth the name, and no books in it worth reading----for good books are not to be had for nothing.

I have good reasons for selling my books and magazines, and reasons which have nothing to do with making money. I am sure I have given away more books than most people have, especially in my younger days, but as years increased, and my wisdom began to keep pace with my zeal, I realized that unless we are extremely careful to whom we give them, to give a book away is nearly the same thing as to throw it away. It will probably not be read. Few in our day are serious readers, and those who are will usually wish to choose their own books. I really cannot afford to give away many books, but if I could, I would not judge it wise to do so. If a person is willing to pay money for a book or magazine, this tells me that he actually wants it, and will probably read it.

But such reasons go for nothing with those who stand on “Sell it not.” They will contend that all such arguments are just carnal reason, and disobedience besides. Very well, then, let us meet them on their own ground. The plain fact is, the hyperspiritual are always as inconsistent as they are shallow. They never know what the issues are, and arrive at their mistaken notions by exalting certain texts of the Bible at the expense of other texts equally explicit. In the present instance, the matter is worse still, for in fact they exalt one half of the text at the expense of the other half. It must be perfectly plain to anyone who thinks about this text that it has nothing to do with money. If it has any relationship whatsoever to literal buying or selling, or any exchange of money, then it stands in direct contradiction to itself. If “Sell it not,” means sell it not for money, then “Buy the truth” must mean buy it for money. And thus in every last instance the seller must sin in order that the buyer may obey. The man who refuses to buy a book from me, lest he contribute to my delinquency in selling it, is himself disobeying this Scripture by refusing to buy it. “Buy the truth,” the text commands, but he must sin against this plain command of God, in order to keep me from the sin of selling it. Either that, or the seller must sin in order that the buyer might obey. Here we behold the usual inconsistency, and the usual shallow thinking, of hyperspirituality.

But there is more. I think that in this we see also the usual pride of hyperspirituality. If it were half as concerned about its own sins as it is with the deficiencies of others, methinks it would soon discover that, on its own ground, to decline to buy the truth for money is as great a sin against this text as it is to sell it for money. The text says plainly and explicitly, “Buy the truth.” But these folks never perceive this, but go on year after year judging and chiding the carnal man who sells the truth, and living themselves the whole time in direct disobedience to the plain command of the same text, to “Buy the truth.”

But the above considerations must make it perfectly plain that the text has nothing directly to do with money, though indirectly it may. Its plain meaning is to obtain the truth, to secure the truth, at any expense. Buy it----for there is no question but that it will cost you something. It may cost you friends, position, money, travel, labor, study, seeking, searching, tears, reproach. Let none of this deter you. Whatever its cost, buy it. And having done so, “sell it not.” Hold it fast, nor part with it for any consideration under heaven. Hold it as priceless, “not for sale,” not for love, nor money, nor ease, nor pleasure, nor promotion, nor peace, nor rest, nor friendship. “Sell it not” for the pastorate of a wealthy church. “Sell it not” for a position on the faculty of a prestigious school of theology. “Sell it not” for the esteem of the denominational leaders. “Sell it not” for the love of a beautiful woman. “Sell it not” for peace in your household. “Sell it not” for any worldly advantage, for any earthly pleasure.

This is the plain meaning of the text. It speaks nothing, except only incidentally, of the buying or selling of the paper and ink with which the truth is printed, but of the truth itself. To be sure, some part of the expense of buying the truth will likely be to buy the books which contain it, but the text speaks not of this, but of the truth itself.

So John Wesley writes in his Explanatory Notes on the Old Testament,

“Buy----Purchase it upon any terms, spare no pains or cost.”

“Sell it not----Do not forsake it for any worldly advantage.”

Adam Clarke likewise,

“Buy the truth] Acquire the knowledge of God at all events; and in order to do this, too much pains, industry, and labour cannot be expended.

“And sell it not] When once acquired, let no consideration deprive thee of it. Cleave to and guard it, even at the risk of life.”

And Matthew Henry at more length,

“(1.) We must buy it, that is, be willing to part with any thing for it. He does not say at what rate we must buy it, because we cannot buy it too dear, but must have it at any rate; whatever it costs us, we shall not repent the bargain. When we are at expense for the means of knowledge, and resolved not to starve so good a cause, then we buy the truth. Riches should be employed for the getting of knowledge, rather than knowledge for the getting of riches. When we are at pains in searching after truth, that we may come to the knowledge of it and may distinguish between it and error, then we buy it. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt----Heaven concedes every thing to the laborious. When we choose rather to suffer loss in our temporal interest than to deny or neglect the truth then we buy it; and it is a pearl of such great price that we must be willing to part with all to purchase it, must make shipwreck of estate, trade, preferment, rather than of faith and a good conscience. (2.) We must not sell it. Do not part with it for pleasures, honours, riches, any thing in this world. Do not neglect the study of it, nor throw off the profession of it, nor revolt from under the dominion of it, for the getting or saving of any secular interest whatsoever.”

And John Gill likewise, with more prolixity, but not less power,

“...and this men should buy, not books only, as Aben Ezra interprets it, such as explain and confirm truth, though these should be bought; and especially the Bible, the Scriptures of truth; yet this does not reach the sense of the text: nor is it merely to be understood of persons supporting the Gospel ministry with their purses, by which means truth is preserved, propagated, and continued: no price is set upon it, as being above all; it should be bought or had at any rate, let the expense be what it will: buying it supposes a person to have some knowledge of it, of the excellency, usefulness, and importance of it; and shews that he sets a value upon it, and has a high esteem for it: it is to be understood of his using all means and taking great pains to acquire it; such as reading the word, meditating upon it, attending on the public ministry, and fervent and frequent prayer for it, and a greater degree of knowledge of it; yea, it signifies a person's parting with every thing for it that is required; as with his former errors he has been brought up in, or has imbibed; with his good name and reputation, being willing to be accounted a fool or a madman, and an enthusiast, or any thing for the sake of it; and even with life itself, when called for; and such a man will strive and contend for it, stand fast in it, and hold it fast, and not let it go, which is meant by selling it; truth is not to be sold upon any account, or for any thing whatever; it is not to be slighted and neglected; it should not be parted with neither for the riches, and honours, and pleasures of this life, nor for the sake of a good name among men, nor for the sake of peace, nor for the avoiding of persecution; it should be abode by, and not departed from, though the greater number is against it, and they the rich, the wise, and learned; and though it may be traduced as novel, irrational, and licentious, and be attended with affliction. Also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding; that is, buy these also, and sell them not.”

Need we cite more? All this is sane, sound, solid, sensible, spiritual. This, we are sure, is the plain meaning of the text. In this there is moral weight, spiritual power, a grand formative influence, to govern all the life and conduct of the whole earth, and is all this to be overlooked entirely, passed by without a trace or a scent of its existence, in order that we may censure and chide our brethren about selling their books? Is all this to be reduced to a picayune technicality, which cannot apply to one man in a thousand----all to be lost in the fog of superficial notions----by that hyperspirituality which can see nothing in “sell it not” but a command to take no material money for material books, and which has never yet perceived anything at all in the command to “buy the truth”? We counsel those who are wrapped up in these petty notions to buy the truth indeed----and, as some small part of the costly transaction, to buy some good books.

My Conversion from Calvinism

by Glenn Conjurske

Thirty years ago I was as thorough a Calvinist as any man on earth. I preached it to everyone, and led everyone into it, over whom I had any influence. When I was a senior at Bible school, I was walking one day from the school to the dormitory with a friend of the junior class. In the course of conversation he said to me, “I don't believe in election.” I stopped on the sidewalk, faced him, and said, “You don't believe in election? You come to my room with me, and before you leave you will believe in it.” I took him to my room, sat him down, and conducted him through the ninth chapter of Romans. Within half an hour he capitulated, and became a Calvinist himself. Of course I misused the chapter. I was as ignorant as I was confident. I knew the answers without knowing the questions. I preached with great forcefulness those scriptures which appeared to support my position, misinterpreting them to boot, and somehow contrived to bring over to my side all those which were against me. But I do not believe my adherence to Calvinism was based upon mere intellectual mistakes, though I was guilty of many. Its real roots were deeper. Its real foundations lay in my moral deficiencies. I was cold and proud and intellectual. Of love and gentleness and tenderness I knew but little. A God, therefore, who had no love for ninety-nine hundredths of the human race, a God who created ninety-nine of a hundred human beings for the purpose of damning them to everlasting flames, was no offense to me.

My conversion from Calvinism, therefore, came about by means of two distinct operations. One of those operations was intellectual, and the other emotional. The first rectified my mind, and the second my heart. By the first, I was brought to face certain texts of Scripture which I could not reconcile with my Calvinism. By the second, my heart was thawed out by a feeling sense of the love of God, so that I became more and more uncomfortable with a system which paints God as having no love at all for the vast majority of the human race, or only a hypocritical love, which weeps crocodile tears over them, and says to them in word, “Be ye warmed and filled”----”Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth”----but in deed gives them not those things which are needful to the soul.

I must speak of those two operations separately.

And first, the thawing out of my heart. From the day of my conversion, at the end of November in 1964, I was zealous and diligent and studious. The first time I ever saw any Christian books for sale I bought one. In less than a year after my conversion I went to Bible school, and then began to buy books in good earnest----which I would doubtless have done earlier, if I had known of any place to buy them. But I had the good fortune to go to Bible school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where there were abundance of books for sale, new and used. Many Friday nights saw me at the bargain tables at Zondervan's----where some good books were still to be had in those days. My little library began to take shape, so that a friend avowed that he turned green with envy every time he came to my room. The classroom instruction was mostly of an intellectual nature, with little to warm the heart or exercise the conscience, and I became quite intellectual myself. My heart did not keep pace with my head. I was cold and hard, looking askance at active evangelism, my Calvinism naturally leading me that way, and being encouraged in that direction also by some (certainly not all) of the platform ministry at the school.

Yet I was earnest and serious in my walk with God, and even then he began the work of thawing out my cold heart. The first recollection which I have of anything in that direction is of a time when I was walking to work, singing “The Love of God.” When I came to the lines,

“To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,”

I broke down and wept. I recall another incident which occurred probably more than a year later, when I was preaching in Colorado. I was speaking with one of the women of our little church of the dying love of Christ, and was so suffused with tears that I could not go on. She knew not what to make of this, and said to me, “Is anything wrong?” These incidents will indicate what kind of work was taking place deep within. Nevertheless, I was in general cold and dry and intellectual, speaking as the piercings of a sword, and preaching and praying without ever shedding a tear.

Yet somehow I became conscious of my deficiency, and penitent concerning it. I began to take such steps as I could to remedy it. One thing which I determined to do was to read books on evangelism and missions, and in one of my book-buying trips to Grand Rapids, therefore, in the early 1970's, I went on purpose to the “Missions” section upstairs in the old Baker Book House on Wealthy Street, to look for such books as might contribute to the warming of my cold heart. The Lord abundantly provided for my desire, for there I found, and bought at a venture, Sam Hadley's Down in Water Street. We suppose there is scarcely a book on earth so calculated to thaw out a cold heart as this.

As the love of God became more and more of a reality to me, my Calvinism became more and more of a burden, though I still held it firmly, supposing the doctrines themselves to be true, and trying to infuse into them a warmer spirit. My feelings at that time will be seen in the following extract from my Journal, written on May 4, 1974:

“I have at last gotten my hands on a copy of Jonathan Edwards' celebrated sermon 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,' concerning which I observe: I can well understand how it would serve to awaken people, as showing them the horrors of their lost estate, but its tone is far from scriptural, being an offensive Calvinism, which ascribes everything to the mere arbitrary pleasure of God (Edwards uses such expressions repeatedly), and which has very narrow views of the heart of God. This I may demonstrate by the following extract: 'When God beholds the ineffable extremity of your case, and sees your torment to be so vastly disproportioned to your strength, and sees how your poor soul is crushed, and sinks down, as it were, into an infinite gloom; he will have no compassion upon you, he will not forbear the execution of his wrath, or in the least lighten his hand: there shall be no moderation or mercy, nor will God then at all stay his rough wind: he will have no regard to your welfare, nor be at all careful lest you should suffer too much in any other sense, than only that you shall not suffer beyond what strict justice requires: nothing shall be withheld, because it is so hard for you to bear. “Therefore will I also deal in my fury; mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity; and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet I will not hear them.” Ezek. viii.18.' Now is this, I ask, a true and faithful, a just representation of the heart of Him who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son? It is not, as I shall very simply prove: when Scripture speaks of God's inflicting wrath without pity, mocking at his enemies, laughing at their calamity, and such like, it does not connect such things with man's weakness and helplessness (as Edwards does here), but with his guilt and hardness and impenitence, as the reader may see by reading the context of the verse quoted above. And these connections are of the greatest importance: if we divorce these things from their scriptural connections, we shall get wrong thoughts about God. An unscriptural Calvinism (by Calvinism I do not mean a belief in the absolute sovereignty of God----I surely believe in that----but the deductions and conclusions which the fleshly mind draws from it)----an unscriptural Calvinism, I say, always tends towards narrow thoughts of the heart of God, always tends towards representing God as having no tender feelings. I object altogether to his saying that when God 'sees how your poor soul is crushed ... he will have no compassion upon you.' A righteous judge may have very great pity and compassion for a criminal, and yet sentence him to death. The heart of God, and that toward the lost, is seen in David's weeping over his lost son Absalom (for David was a man after God's own heart).”

Thus did I make the best that I could of a bad cause, faulting Calvinism for its human accretions, but holding as firmly as anyone to its foundations. My only aim was to be Biblical, and I supposed the essence of Calvinism could be held in a less offensive manner than that of Edwards----that unconditional predestination was compatible with the heart of God, as it is revealed in the Bible. And I had but little choice. Believing the doctrines of Calvinism to be scriptural, I supposed they must be compatible with everything else in the Bible, though it were hard to tell how.

But I would be utterly unfair, to myself and to the truth, if I were to leave anyone with the impression that the emotional side of my conversion was merely emotional----that there was nothing objective in it, or that the wish was father of the thought. Not so. I trust I am incapable of such a conversion. The emotional process did no more than render me capable of understanding the real issues. I plainly saw, as a matter of plain objective truth, that Calvinism was utterly at variance with the love of God, though I had no power to see this until the love of God became a great reality to me, when I learned to feel it. The one scripture which had more influence than any other in turning me from Calvinism was “God is love.” This worked away, year after year, at the foundations of the false system. Calvinists, we know, love to speak of the love of God, but it is always “the everlasting love of God for his people,” and the more consistent Calvinists, like A. W. Pink, expressly deny that God loves anyone else. I surely believe that the satisfaction of the love of God is bounded by his holiness, but Calvinism bounds the feeling of it----that is, the existence of it----by his mere arbitrary pleasure. Of “God is love” the system really knows nothing.

Meanwhile, the other process was proceeding, on a more purely intellectual level. As I read Arminian writers such as Wesley and Fletcher, I found that their arguments, and the scriptures which they cited, were easier to ignore than to answer. I concluded that though the Arminians were wrong, they were yet excusable, for it plainly appeared that they were actually conducted to their position by taking the Scriptures at face value. We Calvinists, of course, knew better. We knew that that vast array of Scripture, upon which the Arminians stood, only seemed to support them. Taken at face value, as a child would take them, those scriptures would require us to be Arminians indeed, but when we understood the deeper wisdom of Calvinism----when we understood such deeper mysteries as total inability, irresistible grace, and effectual calling----and so could find the deeper meaning under and around and between those texts which the Arminians handled as children would, then we could be sound Calvinists, all the apparently Arminian texts notwithstanding. These were my thoughts on the subject for a period of perhaps two years.

Meanwhile, there were a few stubborn texts which would not yield before this sophistry. One of those was “elect according to foreknowledge”----a word which, taken as it stands, certainly makes election to depend upon something in man. I was aware, of course, of the Calvinistic explanation, which makes fore-knowledge to be in fact fore-ordination, but neither my mind nor my conscience could be satisfied with such a shift. This text troubled me for years, like a pebble in my shoe, so that I could never be quite easy with Calvinism, while such a word existed.

But there was another, even more powerful. “I would, and ye would not”----where the will of the human “ye” prevailed over the will of the divine “I.” This is clearer than crystal in the Greek, where we read, “How often I willed to gather thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye willed not. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.” This verse had more to do than any other with clinching my deliverance from Calvinism, and Calvinists themselves must practically undo the hypostatic union to salvage their system in the face of this scripture. The Lord, they say, spoke only as a man here----and how then do they know that he did not speak only as a man everywhere?

But I was not converted by any one text, or thought, or feeling, or argument. This was a long and gradual process, whereby the truth little by little gained the ascendency in my heart and mind, and the error fell away, by bits and pieces. So gradual, indeed, was the process, that I cannot point to any day on which I gave up Calvinism, though the day on which I realized that the change was wrought is still vivid in my mind.

I had compiled a little book on “Whitefield and the Wesleys,” which was a collection of letters, sermons, poetry, etc., which detailed their original union, their division over the doctrines of Calvinism, and their strong reunion some years later. I finished the book, and laid it by me, but in my reading over the next few years I found a number of additional pieces which I wished to insert, and therefore I went over the ground again, to enlarge and improve the book. When I had first compiled it, I had written of the doctrinal differences between them, “Wesley's doctrine was so bad that Whitefield could not help strongly opposing it.” Coming upon this statement in my work of revising, I realized that I no longer felt that way, but now supposed the truth to be on Wesley's side. I put up my hands, and exclaimed, “I'm not a Calvinist any more!”

But doubtless some of my readers will not think much of such a conversion. They would be better pleased if I had studied the matter out on some occasion, and deliberately and consciously changed my opinion. And I tell them, I do not think much of such conversions. I have seen too many of them. “Great bodies move slowly,” an old proverb says, and it is usually small minds which change rapidly. I have seen men change their doctrines in a week or a day, and such change is rarely worth much. They may change back again as quickly. Their change is based upon one or two considerations, and probably superficial ones. A solid change from Calvinism to Arminianism must be a deep one, encompassing many issues, and in the nature of the case this can hardly be anything but gradual. Not, perhaps, so gradual as mine was, but the fact is, I was occupied with other matters of importance, such as revival and the terms of the gospel, and Calvinism was in the background.

There are many degrees of Calvinism, and I doubtless passed through some of them, as Spurgeon also did. No man who has much of the love of God in his heart can be a consistent Calvinist, and Spurgeon was one of the most inconsistent Calvinists on earth. I have a constitutional abhorrence for inconsistency----not that I would pretend I am never guilty of it, for no man is perfect, even where he is strong----and I have always aimed at consistency in everything. Consistency is of the essence of truth. I attribute my deliverance from Calvinism largely to the fact that when I held it, I aimed to hold it consistently. I could not brook the stupid trifling which claims that God chose a certain number of particular souls to salvation, but that he did not choose not to choose the rest. What would these Calvinists think of the man who stood before the marriage altar and vowed his inviolate attachment to the woman at his side, but balked at the clause, “forsaking all others,” claiming that that was none of his business----that he had nothing to do with that----thought nothing about it----made no choice at all in the matter? Calvinism as it is usually held is replete from one end to the other with just such sophistry as this, and it is no wonder if those who can hold to all this sophistry, fallacy, double-talk, and tomfoolery----it is no wonder, I say, if they can see no contradiction between all this and the Bible. The man who carts a bushel of hens and never hears their cackling is not likely to be much troubled if he takes aboard another bushel. I believe if men would hold Calvinism consistently, they would soon cease to hold it at all. Consistent Calvinism may be consistent with itself, but is utterly at variance with the Bible. Spurgeon could hold to the doctrines of Calvinism and the doctrines of the Bible too, thinking them both of God, and simply avow his inability to reconcile them. I saw no occasion for this, for I plainly perceived that if the Bible were true, Calvinism must be false. It never deals fairly with any of the difficulties which it creates. If it deals with them at all, it is only to move them back one step, the same as the evolutionists do, without ever resolving anything. This is shallow thinking, and men who think a little deeper cannot be content with this.

The plain fact is, assuming that a man has faith and sincerity, there are two things which are utterly destructive of consistent Calvinism. Those two are feeling and thinking. The more a man feels with the Bible, and the more he thinks upon its contents, the more uncomfortable he must become with the fundamental doctrines of Calvinism. Here lies the real explanation of the uneasiness which many of the greatest Calvinists in history, such as Richard Baxter, have felt concerning some of the tenets of Calvinism. It was feeling and thinking (and this of course in conjunction with believing the Bible) which delivered me from Calvinism altogether----feeling the love of God in my heart, and realizing in my mind that the tenets of Calvinism are simply incompatible with the plain statements, as well as the whole tenor, of the Bible.

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