As He Did Aforetime
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on August 2, 2000
by Glenn Conjurske
I have seen very little true teaching on authority in the present day.
The principles of democracy have thoroughly corrupted the modern church,
so that the Bible doctrine of authority is almost unknown. In democracy,
authority is something which is created by man, of the people, by
the people, and for the people. Authorities exist only by the sufferance
of the people. In the Bible, authority is created by God, authorities
are set over the people by God, and he who resists the authority resists
the ordinance of God.
But there are two sides to every question, and I observe that most of
those who have embraced the Bible principle, that authority is of God,
have gone over to the other extreme. Such are Bill Gothard and Elizabeth
Rice Handford. She teaches the wife to obey her husband as though
he were God
----though I doubt she would hold the same doctrine
concerning the authorities in church or state. Gothard has taught that
no man should disobey any authority unless he first goes through seven
steps, of Gothard's devising, supposedly based upon Daniel's appeals when
he had purposed not to defile himself with the king's meat. Years ago
a friend wrote to Gothard, giving him a number of examples from the Bible
of persons who disobeyed the authorities without first taking any of those
seven essential steps ----and Gothard never answered him. This might
have been expected, for a man who will build up such a system on one scripture,
regardless of everything the rest of the Bible says, is evidently careless
of the truth, and really knows nothing of how the truth is to be learned.
This is the very worst sort of proof-text theology, and the
men who engage in such business ought not to be teaching the Bible at
Two things are clear in the Bible, on the one side, that authority is
of God, and the authorities that exist are ordained of God, and on the
other side, that those authorities are sometimes to be disobeyed. We
ought to obey God rather than men. Take the first side without the
second, and you lay the foundation for all the priestcraft and tyranny
of the centuries. Take the second side without the first, and you lay
the foundation for all the pride and self-will and confusion of modern
times. It may be hard to say which is worse. There are great evils on
both sides, though it is a strange fact that those who are immersed in
democracy can see all the evils on the other side, and none on their own.
But the Bible stands between these extremes, teaching us ordinarily to
obey the authorities which God has set above us, but giving us both the
right and the obligation to disobey them in certain cases. What those
certain cases are is the question. I have taught in the past that there
are two clear cases in which we must disobey the authorities:
1. When God commands something, and the authority forbids it, or
2. When God forbids a thing, and the authority commands it.
This much is clear, but it may not be the whole story. Are there any other
cases? Are there cases in which our action is not strictly necessary,
according to any direct commandment or prohibition of God, but in which
we are yet free to disobey the requirements of the authorities? I think
there are, on the principle that we are to render to God the things that
are God's. There are many things that are right, which may not be strictly
necessary, and it is certain that no man has the right to forbid them.
For example, it is right to read the Bible, and to read it often, daily
if you please. But God nowhere requires this of you. It is not necessary.
Many have walked with God without being able to read at all. Enoch walked
with God without ever reading a word of the Bible in his life, for none
of the Bible had been written in his days. Many prophets of God probably
went weeks and months without reading the Bible, for they probably did
not possess a copy of their own. We are pretty sure that Elijah had no
Bible with him when he fled forty days from Jezebel, nor when he dwelt
in the cave. Nor had many other saints of God when they languished in
prison, yet they walked with God there. We suppose that David had no Bible
when he kept the sheep in the wilderness, yet he walked with God there.
We cannot pretend that reading the Bible is necessary to spiritual life,
nor that God anywhere requires it of us, and yet we contend that no man
has the right to forbid it. Nor has God commanded you to read the Bible
daily, or weekly, yet no man has the right to forbid that. Parents have
the right to require other things of you, so that you cannot spend all
your time reading the Bible, but no parent has the right to require anything
of you for the purpose of keeping you from reading the Bible. No man has
the right to tell you that you can read the Bible only once a week, or
once a month. In so doing he forbids you to render to God the things that
are God's, though you have no direct commandment at all on the subject,
and God requires nothing of you in the matter. Neither has any man, parent
or husband or magistrate, any right to forbid you to attend the preaching
of the word, though you might survive without it.
Now turn with me to Daniel 6. First we are told, It pleased Darius
to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be
over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel
was first: that the princes might give accounts unto them, and the king
should have no damage. Then this Daniel was preferred above the presidents
and princes, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king thought
to set him over the whole realm. Here was Daniel's real and only
offence. He was preferred above the others, because an excellent spirit
was in him. This the others could not bear. Inferiority can rarely bear
superiority. They were jealous, and proceeded to act on that jealousy.
Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against
Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault;
forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found
in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this
Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
They were looking for occasion against him, moved by nothing but jealousy,
but even lynx-eyed envy could find nothing against him. They must therefore
create an occasion against him, and they knew that they could only accomplish
this in something which concerned the law of his God. To the king, therefore,
Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king,
and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents
of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellers, and the
captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to
make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or
man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den
of lions. Now, O king, establish the decree, and sign the writing, that
it be not changed, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which
altereth not. Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
The form of this decree, by the way, is the most telling commendation
we could have of Daniel's character. This decree was not framed to annoy
him, but to destroy him. They did not aim merely to inconvenience him
for thirty days, but to cast him into the den of lions. And certainly
they framed such a decree as they supposed would accomplish their purpose.
They expected to catch Daniel in this net. Would this net have caught
you? Would you have prayed boldly with such a law in force? Or would you
have said, God does not require me to pray with my windows open
to Jerusalem. He does not even require me to pray in an audible voice.
I can pray from my heart lying in my bed with the covers pulled up over
my head. Daniel was made of better stuff than that. These men knew
him, and they expected consistency from him. They expected him to disregard
their decree, and pray as he had always done.
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his
house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he
kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks
before his God, as he did aforetime.
It was plainly necessary for Daniel to disregard this decree in some sense,
but there was no necessity for him to disregard it openly. He could have
prayed in secret. There was no necessity for him to pray with his windows
open toward Jerusalem. He was not moved by any command of God in this,
but only by his love for Jerusalem. Yet this was rendering to God the
things that are God's, and no man had the right to forbid him.
Then these men assembled, therefore, and found Daniel
praying and making supplication before his God. We do not suppose
that Daniel did this glibly. He had no more relish for the den of lions
than you do. He had no doubt carefully considered the whole matter, to
determine whether he could keep himself out of the den of lions, but after
all his deliberation he determined to do as he did aforetime.
Understand, Daniel had no command of God to pray with his windows open
to Jerusalem. He could have prayed in secret, in his closet, as Christ
tells us to do. But what if he had? He would immediately have been labelled
as a fair-weather Jew, who prayed openly when it cost him nothing, but
ceased when it would cost him. He would have brought many reproaches upon
himself. He would have been told that surely it was no matter of conscience
for him thus to pray, or he could not have left it off. He would have
shown that his religion meant but little to him after all. He would have
brought himself and the testimony of his God into contempt. All this no
doubt weighed with Daniel, and therefore, though he had no command of
God to pray as he did, he continued to do as he did aforetime.
We suppose it was no matter of conscience, either. He might have left
off at some other time, for whatever sufficient reason, and there would
have been no harm in it. But to be forbidden by the king, who was moved
by nothing but the envy of his subordinates, this was no sufficient reason.
Daniel therefore went on doing as he did aforetime, against
the commandment of the king.
We observe also that the king's commandment was for the duration of but
thirty days. This was a very temporary matter. Daniel could have left
off for but a little while, and left off a thing which he had no positive
obligation to do at all, and so saved himself from the den of lions. But
he would not leave off even for a day. He thus testified that the king
had no right to command him in the things which concerned his God. He
would render the things of God to God, though he was so faithful in the
matters of the kingdom that envy itself could find nothing against him
error nor fault.
We never recommend courting persecution. We think it foolhardy, and the
fruit of hyperspirituality, pride, and belligerence. If Daniel had begun
to pray as he did while the king's decree was in force, this would have
been rash and reckless, and I suspect the lions would have devoured him
for it, too. But to continue to do as he did aforetime, this
was simple faithfulness.
And we observe that God set his stamp of approval on Daniel's course,
by delivering him from the den of lions, and that by a notable miracle.
God is never prodigal of miracles, and miracles are rare in any age of
the world. When God works one, it behooves us to pay attention to it,
and learn what we can. In this case we learn indisputably that God approved
of the course of Daniel, though it may appear to us as being righteous
overmuch, and of unnecessarily courting persecution.
But I advise you all to scrutinize what I say with great care. I may be
able to preach a sermon which will get you into the lion's den, but I
may not be able to preach one which will get you out. You must be sure
of your own ground. Search the matter out. Can you find other factors,
which I have overlooked? Can you find other scriptures which I have overlooked?
I only suggest that in this case at least Daniel disobeyed the authorities
in a manner which was not dictated by any command of God, and which was
probably not necessary for conscience' sake. His practice was right, though
not necessary. It was rendering to God what was God's, and no man had
any right to deny him this.
The Last Testimony of A Departing Saint's
by Glenn Conjurske
As we have read many Christian biographies, we have read the accounts
of the last words and deaths of many of the godly. It has been a common
thing for those gathered around the dying bed of one they loved to seek
for some dying testimony, as to the state and feelings of the one dying.
Many of them would arrange beforehand some sign, as the squeezing of the
hand or the raising of a finger, that the dying saint might use to signify
his happiness after the powers of speech had failed. Such signs were much
valued by those left behind.
But there is another sign, more telling and more precious, and one entirely
involuntary, left behind as the last testimony of the departed. We speak
of the impress which the departing spirit leaves upon the abandoned body,
its own happy state being imprinted upon the countenance of the house
of clay, from which it has taken its flight. Many have been the saints
who have left behind this last testimony to their triumph over death,
and thus, though dead, they yet continued to speak, and that with a most
telling eloquence. We regard these testimonies as pre-eminently edifying,
and as it is always our delight to
...gather up with pious care
What happy saints have left behind,
in addition to their writings, their sayings,
and their works which traced them to the skies, we have gathered
up for the pleasure and profit of our readers a few of their dying smiles,
left behind them when their spirits were gone to paradise.
The nature and the value of this testimony are recorded alike in Joseph
Travis's account of the death of his wife. She was at this time
sitting up in bed, but speedily lay down, carefully putting her head beyond
the pillow, and off from the bed-clothes; and instantly the blood streamed
out of her mouth in a current as large as my finger. I fell upon my knees
at the bedside, but I could not pray, such was the agitation of my mind.
I arose, and felt her pulse, and found that she was fast fleeing away;
and in about five minutes the vital spark became extinct. But oh! the
smile, the heavenly smile that rested on that death-stricken countenance,
always to me beautiful; but now more abundantly so. ...
It would have afforded me much consolation could she have been able
to leave a verbal testimony of her future hopes; but her unspotted and
religious life, her heavenly looks after death, are sufficient evidence
of her happy exit from this vale of tears to the paradise of God.
And not only have surviving saints been comforted, but ungodly sinners
converted also, by the spirit's last testimony, left behind upon the lifeless
clay. An excellent Methodist missionary writes of the death of a converted
Indian in Canada, Another son of this old saint was Samuel, the
courageous guide and modest, unassuming Christian. He was the one who
guided his well-loaded brigade up the mighty Saskatchewan river to the
rescue of the whites there, and having safely and grandly done his work,
'holding on to God,' went up the shining way so triumphantly that there
lingered behind on his once pallid face some radiance of the glory like
that into which he had entered; and some seeing it were smitten with a
longing to have it as their portion, and so, then and there, they gave
themselves to God.
Charles Wesley records several examples of these dying smiles on the lifeless
clay. We had prayed last night, he says, with joy full
of glory for our departing brother, just while he gave up his spirit,
I pray God I may give up mine. ... We sang a song of victory for our deceased
friend; then went to the house, and rejoiced, and gave thanks; and rejoiced
again with singing over him. The spirit, at its departure, had left marks
of its happiness on the clay. No sight upon earth, in my eyes, is half
Charles Wesley wrote many poems on the deaths of his friends, and many
of these are most excellent. From one of them I cull the following:
She spake, and by her looks express'd
The glorious everlasting rest
To saints triumphant given;
Glided in ecstasies away,
And told us, through her smiling clay
My soul is fled to heaven!
Exempt from nature's agonies,
Who now is able to conceive
What with her closing eyes she sees?
She cannot bear the sight and live:
In sweet communion with her God,
She glides insensibly away,
Quietly drops the smiling clod,
And mingles with eternal day!
Of John Wesley we read, At the desire of many friends his corpse
was placed in the New Chapel, and remained there the day before his interment.
His face during that time had a heavenly smile upon it, and a beauty which
was admired by all that saw it.
Of the countenance of James H. Brookes after his death we are told, Many
were struck by the triumphant majesty and spiritual beauty of the face
of the dead. To some it seemed as if thirty years had been rolled backward,
and he was before them the Doctor Brookes they had known when in his splendid
meridian of life.
A gray-haired minister, after gazing upon the form of his old friend,
said, 'Look at that, and then say there is nothing in Christianity!'Similar
were the impressions of a little grandchild. 'It didn't look like grandpa,'
he confided to his mother; 'it looked just like an angel.'
John W. Burgon saw the same on the countenance of his departed sister,
O Sister, who ere yet my task is done
Art lying (my loved Sister!) in thy shroud
With a calm placid smile upon thy lips
As thou wert only taking of rest in sleep.
Charles G. Finney preached the funeral sermon of David Marks, in which
he said, O, it has been a luxury for me and many other friends to
see him day after day triumphing over death, and showing how easy a man
may die, if he has only lived right. To which the widow of Mr. Marks
adds, the coffin was opened beneath the pulpit, and while the congregation
was passing around to take the last look of his countenance, joyful even
in death, it was said that Professor Finney gazed almost constantly upon
it, and remarked to those standing near him: 'Did you ever see such a
corpse? What a countenance! How lovely! How smiling! How easy it is to
die right, if we live right.'
A pleasing example is seen in William Cowper, who suffered from mental
derangement, which generally took the form of a settled despair. Others
believed him a child of God, but he could not believe it himself. Approaching
death, Nothing could be gloomier than the state of his mind. Dr.
Lubbock, of Norwich, who called upon him one day, inquired how he felt.
'Feel!' replied Cowper, 'I feel unutterable despair!' ...
On the 19th of April it was evident that death was near, and Mr.
Johnson ventured to speak of his approaching dissolution as the signal
for his deliverance from the miseries of both mind and body. Cowper making
fewer objections than might have been supposed, Johnson proceeded to say,
'that in the world to which he was hastening, a merciful Redeemer had
prepared unspeakable happiness for all His children, and therefore for
him.' To the first part of this sentence he listened with composure, but
upon hearing the concluding words he passionately entreated that no further
observations might be made on the subject.
Yet From the time of his death till the coffin was closed, Mr. Johnson
says, 'the expression with which his countenance had settled was that
of calmness and composure, mingled, as it were, with holy surprise.'
Of the death of Leila Ada, a young Jewess converted to Christ, we read,
And there was the bed; enshrouded in purest white. The curtains
were drawn, and disclosed a lovely figure which lay sleeping upon it
was a beautiful sleep, for she smiled as though in a happy dream. Ah!
it was the long sacred sleep which the believer sleeps in Jesus till on
the glorious resurrection morn he awakes to immortal life.
Yes, there lay Leila, draped in a robe of simple white muslin, as
she desired. She looked so innocent, so pure, so beautiful. On her face
there was no icy coldness, no ghastly impression; and the angelic smile
with which she had passed away, still hovered over every lineament. ...
Her head was slightly raised upon pillows, and over her face was diffused
an expression so celestial
----such a mingling of clear, unclouded
brightness, 'the new-born day of bliss,' with a fixed and holy repose, ----that
it at once showed that silent form was sleeping the long peaceful slumber
which 'He giveth His beloved,' till the last trumpet shall give the joyful
signal, and sound in a voice that shall pierce the deep silence of their
tranquil rest, 'Arise, shine, for the light is come, and the glory of
the Lord is risen upon you.'
Nor has it been only the great, the noble, and the known who have died
so, but many also of the poor and the base and the despised. C. L. Wireman
says of the death of his father, I grasped his hand as he breathed
his last and whispered the sweet name of Jesus in his ear, and his face
lit up with a peculiar smile. We put him away with that smile on his face.
A poor old woman who had lived alone and was now dying alone, was visited
by a young Christian lady, who read and prayed with her. As I parted
from her, she writes, I expressed my surprise that she could
be so full of peace and joy when dying alone!
'Tsh!' she said, 'Christ is with me, and when you have known Him
as long as I have known Him, and proved His love as long, you will not
wonder. I've known Him more than twenty years, and I've lived much of
that time alone with Him, and now I've been dying these six months past,
alone with Him; for few come to see me, and there's few I care to see,
for I've Christ always with me, and there's no solitude in that.
'...I saw this aged servant of Christ many times after this, and learned
from her what I believe I have never forgotten. One day she told me she
had asked the Lord, if it were His will, that some one might be with her
when she breathed her last.
'Why?' I asked, thinking she was dreading to die alone.
'Because, if no one saw me die, they would not know I was as happy
to die as to live; for Christ is with me now, and will be with me then,
and I shall be with Him for ever.
'Each day, as I left her, I saw she was passing quickly to her desired
haven. She had few earthly comforts, save those the Lord privileged me
to take her; yet she was full of joy, and thankfulness, and unclouded
peace. One day I knocked as usual at the door, but got no answer. 'Oh,'
I said, 'has she died alone?' With breathless anxiety I opened the door;
her hands were clasped, her lips moved in prayer. I stood in silence till
her eyes opened, and she saw me. 'You've come to see me die,' she said:
'sit down. If it was not for others, I would rather be alone with Christ,
but you'll stay till the end.' Then in thoughtfulness for me, she said
but you are young, and you may not like to see any one die.
Yes,' I said, 'I should like to be with you.' Pointing to her well-worn
Bible, she said
----'Read for me once more the last verses of the
eighth of Romans.
For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' As I closed
the book, I was about to ask her if I should pray. I observed a slight
movement of the eyelids, she gazed upward, a radiant smile lit up her
features, and her happy spirit was with the Lord.
Elizabeth Woodbridge, the dairyman's daughter, is known the
world over today, but at the time of her death she was as obscure and
unknown as the poor woman spoken of above. Her biographer says, I
went to take my last look at the deceased.
There was much written on her countenance. She had evidently died
with a smile. It still remained, and spoke the tranquility of her departed
These all died quietly in their beds, but others who died a gruesome and
bloody death have left the same testimony on the lifeless clay. Of the
well known missionary martyrs, John and Betty Stam, Betty's father writes,
We are greatly comforted in the definite testimony of Christian
and other witnesses at Miaosheo (where they were slain), that when finally
the blood was wiped from their faces and their severed heads prepared
for their encoffinment, there was upon them a heavenly peace, and a beautiful,
Stephen-like expression of holy triumph upon their countenances.
We trust that all who read of these, the silent and lingering testimonies
of departed saints, will wish to say, Let me die the death of the
righteous, and let my last end be like theirs!
Such are the deaths of the righteous and the holy, and the silent testimonies
which they have left behind them. But the innocent may sometimes leave
such a testimony also. We have rehearsed above the heavenly countenance
which Leila Ada displayed in death, and from her pen we give the following
description of the dead yet speaking countenance of an infant. My readers
will kindly pardon the blank verse
----read it as prose if you please ----for
the sake of its charming substance.
DEATH OF AN INFANT
I gazed upon that infant as it slept:
That sleep was strangely beautiful, and seemed
An ecstasy immortal. The curtaining lids
Had dropped their silken fringes o'er the soul,
And shut out all except the beams of Heaven.
A sacred glory rested on her brow,
And mantled o'er her cheek; a lovely smile
Sat like a cherub on her faded lips:
A solemn rapture was that dying scene:
Celestial spirits fanned it with their wings
It breathed the air of heaven. She oped her eyes
Those bright blue eyes still looked as they were wont,
The very soul of tenderness and joy.
They sought her mother's face, again to feast
Upon its beauty! forth from them spoke a rest,
Such only as the innocent may feel.
The Angel of the Covenant had come
To wing her home. At his august command,
Death quick unbound his shaft, and touched her heart,
Curdling her hot life's blood. With ruthless haste
He closed her snowy lids, and bound her brow
With ice. His spoils were done! He seized her breath,
The roses on her cheeks; but left that pure
And holy smile. He did not dare steal that;
For it belonged to Heaven!
The Sting of Death
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on February 11, 2001
Addressed to the Young People
by Glenn Conjurske
How many of you are afraid of hornets?
And why are you afraid of hornets?
They're just little things, and they don't bite. I can understand that
you would be afraid of bears, which are bigger than you are, and which
bite, and might tear you to pieces also. I can understand being afraid
of dogs, which are much bigger than hornets, and likely to bite you. But
why are you afraid of hornets?
Ah, they sting. If a hornet had no sting, you might hold it in your hand
like a lady bug, or put it in your pocket for that matter. But so long
as it has a sting, you stay away from it.
Now let me ask you another question. If you could some way remove the
stings from the hornets, would you do it? And why would you do it? Ah,
just this, because you know that sometime, somewhere, if you live long
enough, you are very likely to meet with a hornet at close quarters, and
you could do this with a great deal more composure if you knew the hornet
had no sting.
I have had a few experiences with hornets, and I was scared enough. When
I was young and inexperienced, I took a job painting a house. It was a
brick house, and I had only to paint the trim, but much of that trim was
high above the ground, and I get very shaky when I get more than a few
feet off the ground. But there I was, standing on the top of a long extension
ladder trying to paint, when I learned that I was painting in the vicinity
of a hornets' nest. They were going in and out up under the peak of the
roof, and buzzing all around me while I stood there and painted. I did
a good deal of praying, and came off without a sting, but you know I wouldn't
have been uneasy at all if the hornets had had no sting.
Now the Bible tells us that death has a sting also, and most people are
more afraid of death than they are of hornets. With good reason, too.
You may live to be a hundred, and never meet with a hornet in close quarters,
but if you live long enough, you will meet with death. If you don't plan
to live long, you may not have to trouble yourself about it, but if you
live long enough, eventually you will certainly meet with death, and in
very close quarters too. Death will come for you, and there will be no
escaping it. No doctors or medicines will keep it away. They may baffle
the monster for many years, but eventually it will come, and come for
Now if you could remove the sting of death, before it comes to take you,
would you do it? I hope you would, and I am here to tell you that you
can. It is only an idle dream, a pleasing fairy tale, to think of removing
the stings of the hornets. It can't be done, but you can remove the sting
What is the sting of death, and how can you remove it? Paul tells us in
I Corinthians 15:56, The sting of death is sin. It is sin
that will rise up to sting you when you face death. You know that even
now. When you think of death and dying, what is it that rises up in your
mind, to tell you you aren't fit to die? It is sin, and not sin in general,
not the sinfulness of your nature, but some particular sin
sin that you have never crucified and mortified, some sin that you intend
to get the victory over some day, but which now has the victory over you.
This is the sting of death ----the sin which you love, and indulge,
and cling to. This is the thing that will rise up to sting you on your
dying bed. This is the thing that will arm your conscience against you
and cloud your hopes and destroy your peace.
And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our
hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our
heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then
have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him,
because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing
in his sight. (I John 3:19-22). But if your own heart condemns you,
God is greater than your heart. He knows all things. He knows the sin
for which your heart condemns you, and a good deal more besides. But put
away all that sin, so that your heart condemns you not, and then you will
have confidence toward God, even in the face of death. This is how you
take the sting out of death.
But if you hold on to those sins, remember, every one of them has a sting.
The sting of death is sin. You don't feel the sting now. You
may not feel it at all till you stand face to face with death. Now you
carry those sins along, and play with them, and hug them, and you feel
only the pleasure. You don't feel the sting. But God tells you the pleasures
of sin are but for a season
----only for a little time,
which is soon to give way before the approach of death and judgement,
as surely as the summer gives way at the approach of fall and winter.
The pleasures of sin last only for a season, and then you
will feel the sting. Now you hug those sins and play with them, but the
day is soon coming when all those sins will rise up to sting you, and
you will face death and judgement as it were carrying a nest of hornets
in your hands, unable then to put it down, unable then to cast it from
I had a rather alarming experience with a nest of hornets once. I was
picking blackberries in the clearing in the woods, perhaps half a mile
from home. I had a bucket of berries hanging from each side of my belt,
and was picking as fast as I could with both hands. But hornets sometimes
make their nests in a hole in the ground, and I had evidently been standing
over such a nest, hidden under the blackberry bushes, and the hornets
had come out in full force to investigate their visitor. I chanced to
look down, and saw both legs of my pants covered with a solid mass of
hornets, thousands of them, from my ankles up nearly to my knees. I didn't
know what to do. I continued for a time picking the berries, hoping the
hornets would go away, but they stayed where they were. So I turned and
started to walk very slowly towards home. I really didn't know what to
do, though I had a pretty good idea what not to do. I didn't dare to make
any quick movements. I didn't dare to try to brush them off. I might have
been stung a thousand times. So I continued walking slowly towards home,
with both legs covered with thousands of hornets. All at once two of them
flew up to my elbows, one stung me on each elbow, and the rest flew away.
I considered myself extremely fortunate to get off so easy.
But observe, I didn't know what to do with the hornets. I didn't know
how to get rid of them. But you do know what to do with sin. Cut
it off, and cast it from thee. Cast away from you all your
transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart
and a new spirit, for why will ye die? This is what God tells you
to do with your sin, and you can cast it from you now. You know what you
ought to do, and you can do it, if you will. You may be carrying in your
hands a whole nest of sins, or just one, but in either case it will rise
up to sting you when you face death. The sting of death is sin.
And you can remove that sting. You can cast away from you all your
transgressions. People would be glad to remove the stings of the
hornets, if they could, but they can't. Meanwhile, they can remove the
sting of death, and they won't. They don't want to, at least not yet.
Most people intend to put away their sins before they die, but the old
proverb says, The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
People intend to put away their sins, but not now. They want to enjoy
the pleasures of sin while they can, and then cast away their transgressions
before they feel the sting. But this is the extreme of folly. You may
feel the sting before the day is over, and feel it forever too. You know
that you must face death, but you don't know when. The only wise thing
is to be ready. Prepare to meet thy God. Take the sting out
of death before you meet him.
Nobody will pretend that this is easy. It isn't easy to cut off your right
hand, and cast it from you. It isn't easy to Cast away from you
all your transgressions, when you love them as you do your right
hand. Paul says, The sting of death is sin; and the strength of
sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through
our Lord Jesus Christ. What victory is that? Not deliverance from
death, but victory over its sting. Now the sting of death is sin,
and if you want victory over death, there is only one way to it, and that
is victory over sin. Paul says the Lord Jesus Christ gives us that victory.
But you know very well he will not give it to every man on earth, nor
to anybody at all until they choose it
----until they determine
in their hearts to be done with sin, and to cast away all their transgressions.
This is how you remove the sting from death, and this you can do if you
Romantic & Generic Love
by Glenn Conjurske
That there are two kinds of love, romantic and generic, human experience
abundantly testifies, and so does Holy Scripture. Romantic love says,
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
(Song of Solomon 2:5). Yet it is perfectly plain that such love is entirely
out of place in every relationship but one. If such love were thrust into
a relationship with father, mother, brother, sister, pastor, or friend,
the whole world would feel this to be grotesque and abnormal
that, or unchaste and criminal. We are bound to love all these, but with
a different sort of love.
This much is obvious, or ought to be. Yet ignorance confounds these two
kinds of love, and hyperspirituality makes a determined effort to equate
them, or to replace the romantic with the generic kind.
We recently came across an excellent admonition to husbands to love their
wives, from the pen of Richard Baxter, yet we fear its excellency is largely
nullified by his apparent confusion of two different kinds of love. Of
a dozen directives which he gives, I quote but the first six. Baxter says,
1. Choose one at first that is truly amiable, especially in the
virtues of the mind. 2. Marry not till you are sure that you can love
entirely. Be not drawn for sordid ends, to join with one that you have
but ordinary affections for. 3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand
all the imperfections, which may tempt you afterwards to loathing. But
if these duties have been sinfully neglected, yet, 4. Remember that justice
commandeth you to love one that hath, as it were, forsaken all the world
for you, and is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings,
and be an equal sharer in all conditions with you, and that must be your
companion until death. It is worse than barbarous inhumanity to entice
such a one into a bond of love, and society with you, and then to say,
you cannot love her. This was by perfidiousness to draw her into a snare
to her undoing. What comfort can she have in her converse with you, and
care, and labour, and necessary sufferings, if you deny her conjugal love?
Especially, if she deny not love to you, the inhumanity is the greater.
5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures,
and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you. And
when you joined yourself to such a nature, you obliged yourself to answerable
duty: and if love cause not love, it is ungrateful and unjust contempt.
6. Remember that you are under God's command; and to deny conjugal love
to your wives, is to deny a duty which God hath urgently imposed on you
Now observe, in the first and third of his directives, he advises us
to secure worth and character. This is wise advice, and these two will
be a great help, if not a plain necessity, to love.
In the second directive, in which he advises to refrain from marriage
until we have found one we can love entirely, and to reject any for whom
we have but ordinary affection, the only proper application is to romantic
love, whether Baxter so understood it or not. To apply such a directive
to generic love would be to empty it of its meaning. If we are to love
our neighbor as ourselves, we ought to so love one neighbor as well as
another, regardless of their worth or character. We can do this. But it
is a plain impossibility for a man to love entirely every woman in a romantic
way, as he is obliged to love every neighbor in a generic way. For many
women he never can have any more than ordinary affections,
and for many others, none at all, of the romantic kind. Baxter's directive
is very pertinent if applied to romantic love, but quite as mistaken if
applied to the other kind.
But he proceeds, in the fourth and following directives, to admonish us,
in the case we have sinfully neglected to secure a woman of worth and
character, and one whom we can love entirely, to love her nevertheless.
Yet by referring to this as conjugal love, he clouds the issue.
He has no doubt felt and experienced both kinds of love, yet he fails
to make any distinction between them, but mingles them together, and treats
them as though they are but one. The effect of this is immeasurably to
weaken the force of his admonitions. He exhorts us to the possible and
the impossible together, as though they were but one thing, and those
who pursue that path are likely to despair of the possible along with
It may be the very truth that he cannot love her in a romantic
way, but he surely can love her with common love, and though this will
never satisfy all the cravings of her heart, yet to treat her with kindness
and gentleness and consideration will keep her from being miserable. In
a discussion on this theme I once asked a woman which she would rather
have, romantic love or generic. She said she would most desire whichever
kind she didn't have. But if a woman has neither the one nor the other,
she will be miserable indeed, and the presence of the one will go a long
way to mitigate her sorrows for the absence of the other.
We think as a general rule that romantic love will foster and secure generic
----at least, it must do so where a man has a dime's worth
of character ----and it is certain that the lack of romantic love
will work to weaken and hinder generic love. But the presence of generic
love will not produce romantic love. Romance must flow from another source.
A man may have the most tender, thoughtful, self-denying, and enduring
generic love towards a woman for whom it is an utter impossibility for
him to feel any romantic love at all. And what is he to do if he is married
to such a woman? You will say, he ought not to be. We grant it ----we
contend for it ----we preach it. Yet the plain fact is, there are
many men who are married to such women. This, through various causes:
some because parents or elders arranged the marriage; some because they
married for character, or spirituality, or money, or position, or anything
other than love; some because they married on the advice of friends; some
because something or somebody convinced them that it was the will of God;
some because they married without knowing what love was, or without knowledge
enough of each other to know whether they had it; many because they could
not win the woman they wanted, and so settled for the one they could get.
For such reasons as these, many men are married to women they cannot love,
in the romantic sense, yet this does not absolve them of their responsibility
to love their wives. If they cannot love her romantically, or can only
love her but weakly in a romantic way, so much the more ought they to
love her with that common love which will ease her burdens and smooth
her path. If a man is unable to give her the love which a woman's heart
by nature craves, let him by all means give her what love he can.
I had no sooner written the preceding paragraph than I happened across,
in some of my reading for the day, the following pertinent remarks, under
the heading of MATRIMONIAL BLUNDERS. There are a great
many foolish marriages in this world. Even sensible people in other things
make some strange mistakes in this important matter. If men would exercise
as much caution and common sense in selecting a wife as they do in picking
out a horse; and if women would be as particular in choosing a husband
as in picking out a dress or a bonnet, one half of the bad matches would
never have been made.
Some marry without considering the importance of such a step. They
think it is a grand thing to have some one they can call their own.
I knew a man once that married a woman the second time that he ever
saw her, and within a week of the first time of seeing her. He wanted
another and could not get her, and to show her that he could get a wife,
he married with less than a week's acquaintance. Here I interrupt
the quotation to observe that it is very common for men to marry what
they can get, when they are unable to get what they want, and women are
perhaps more prone to this than men. This, of course, makes bad marriages.
The writer continues, He lived with his bride just seven days, and
then went away, and she never heard from him for three years. He came
back to her then, and stayed till he died, which was a number of years
after. Some marry for the sake of a housekeeper, and others for the sake
of a home. Some marry for money, and others for social position.
But in all these motives for marrying, the question of adaptation
is generally overlooked, as when a man wants some one to look after his
home, and takes the first eligible woman that comes in his way; or when
a woman wants a home, and accepts the first man that offers her one.
Now, they may or they may not be adapted to each other. There may
be incongruities of temperament, differences in religious sentiment, educational
biasses of the mind, a want of harmony in tastes and pursuits, and many
other peculiarities in one or both that render them unfit companions for
And although two persons may not be adapted to each other, that
does not prove that they are not worthy of good companions. It only shows
that they have not made the right selection, that is all.
The last paragraph is peculiarly pertinent, and it is just here that we
see the great necessity of distinguishing between romantic and common
love. Though it is quite true that married persons may not be adapted
to each other in tastes, or temperament, or religion, or any number
of other things, yet one of the most common sources of trouble lies in
the simple matter of love, which this author overlooks altogether. Indeed,
he writes on the next page, While I am no admirer of lovesick lunies,
either male or female, I do insist upon it that the affinities that bring
people together into this closest of all human bonds should be something
more refined, pure and exalted, than mere material considerations.
We think so too, and yet we are sure also that if love is left out of
the matter, our efforts at congruity in other matters will only be so
much labor lost. Is the bride in Solomon's Song but a lovesick luny,
because she sighs, Stay me with flagons! comfort me with apples!
for I am sick of love?
But love is often neglected through ignorance, or despised through hyperspiritual
teaching, and people marry who are not romantically suited to each other.
They cannot fall in love, and for this they blame themselves, or are blamed
by others, as though their troubles were the proof of some grand defect
in their character. But this is no more than a grand mistake. The best
man on earth may be married to the best woman, and the two yet be altogether
unsuited to each other, for the simple reason that they cannot love each
other. There is no romantic bond between them, and no romantic attraction
strong enough to form the foundation for such a bond. This does
not prove that they are not worthy of good companions. It only shows that
they have not made the right selection, that is all. They have married
without securing love, perhaps married without knowing what love was,
married on some real or imagined spiritual basis, married by the arrangement
of parents or elders, or married without a sufficient knowledge of each
other to ensure a deep and abiding romantic love. Many of them may suppose
many are taught ----that love will follow marriage, and it may,
by a good streak of luck, but the marriage bond is no guarantee of it.
Such teaching assumes that every pair on earth may fall in love, and such
an assumption flies directly in the teeth of the common experience of
the whole human race.
But observe, this assumption is the natural outgrowth of the failure to
distinguish between romantic and generic love. If there is but one kind
of love on the earth, and we are all bound to love one another
bound to love our neighbors as ourselves ----then surely any two
persons on earth may love each other. And on the basis of such assumptions
as these, people marry without so much as understanding the existence
of romantic love, as a thing distinct from common or spiritual love, and
therefore more or less careless of the one thing which is all-essential
to marital happiness.
But having tied the knot, they go to work to love each other. They go
to work, that is, to fan their fire of green wood, only to find that after
twenty years of fanning, and nothing to add to the green wood but more
of the same, they have but a cold fire still. After all their fruitless
struggles, they learn the truth of the old proverbs,
Forced love, like fanned fire,
Will never whet your desire.
Fanned fire and forced love never did well yet.
He who forces love where none is found
Remains a fool the whole year round.
Loving and singing are not to be forced.
Love cannot be compelled.
No glue will hold when the joint is bad.
These proverbs, of course, have nothing to do with common love, but they
are the very truth concerning romantic love.
And all this teaches us the grand necessity of distinguishing these two
kinds of love. Those who fail to do so will naturally fall into one of
two evils. They will either excuse themselves for what they can help,
or blame themselves for what they cannot. Feeling as a matter of certainty
that they cannot love a woman with romantic love, they will excuse themselves
from loving her at all, if they suppose there is but one kind of love.
Or, determined to love her as they ought, but yet finding that they cannot
force or manufacture romantic love, they will blame themselves for the
lack of it. Yet a man may as well blame himself for not being a woman,
as for not loving one, if she is not romantically suited to him.
And to these two evils we may add a third. The woman who is in such a
plight can hardly view the matter objectively. She naturally feels more
than she reasons, and she feels that if she is unloved, it is because
she is unlovely. She feels inferior to other women. She does not possess
the charms which they do. She feels this especially in the physical realm,
and so, if not deterred by a higher principle, resorts to the frantic
application of a hundred artificial means to improve her hair and her
face and her form. But all this is labor lost. She feels herself as unlovely
when she is finished as she did before she started. Thus a damp cloud
settles upon her spirit, shutting her out from hope and happiness
it is nothing uncommon for the most attractive women on earth to feel
so. And most unfortunately, that damp cloud may contribute directly to
making them less lovely than they were, for it is likely enough to take
the spring from their step, the smile from their lips, and the light from
And as if their unhappiness were not a great enough evil, it serves to
create or augment a greater, for as is their unhappiness, so is their
danger. The woman who is unloved, and so thinks herself unlovely, has
the same natural craving to be loved for her loveliness that every other
woman has, and her unhappiness makes her doubly susceptible to any kindness
or consideration shown to her by another man, weakening her precisely
where every woman is weak already. Some women, of course, have character
enough to stand even when they are weakest, but then their standing may
be confined to the realm of their choices and actions, while they slip
or fall in their emotions, altogether in spite of themselves, and so are
left to blame themselves for what they cannot help. Now there is no cure
for that weakness but love. Men, we hardly need say, are subject to the
same sort of weakness and danger, and love is the only effectual remedy
for it. But we insist that it is only romantic love which can effect the
cure. Those who seek to cure the race of its romantic weaknesses and needs,
those who seek to secure marital happiness, by means of common love, may
as well treat the gout by pulling teeth. Teeth and toes are two things,
and so are romantic and generic love.
And it will remain a fact, that even where mismatched and unhappy couples,
by means of character and spirituality and generic love, have learned
to live cheerfully together in peace and harmony, yet they will be pulling
always up hill, with no grease for the wheels, and the absence of the
spontaneous warmth of free-flowing romance is surely to be felt, and almost
sure to have an adverse effect upon the children. The emotional well-being
of the children whose parents have congenial marriages is often obvious,
even though spiritually those parents may be far beneath their less fortunate
friends. But here as elsewhere, the unfortunate will blame themselves,
or be blamed by others, for what they cannot now help
they might have helped it once, if they had known better than to tie such
a knot in the first place. It has sometimes fallen to my lot to have to
defend an unfortunate mother against the remarks of the censorious, by
saying through my tears, If you had to struggle with the kind of
marriage which she has, your children would be no better.
And look where we will in a marriage without love
----and we of
course mean without romantic love ----and we see evils multiplied
everywhere, and not merely temporal evils, but spiritual evils, of eternal
consequence. Charles Wesley writes to his son, No one step or action
in life has so much influence on eternity as marriage. It is an heaven
or an hell (they say) in this world; much more so in the next. The angel
in Watts's ode, ----
'Mark, said he, that happy pair!
Marriage helps religion there;
Where kindred souls their God pursue,
They break with double vigour through
The dull, incumbent air.'
But the experience of the unhappy pair is just the reverse, and their
religion suffers along with their happiness. Besides the moral weakness
and danger which obviously belong to an unhappy match, discouragement
weakens their hands, and languor therefore attends their steps, where
others break with double vigour through. Even the very goodness
of a man in such a plight is likely to be turned the wrong way, for a
kind and gentle husband, who feels the plight of a woman he cannot love
as her nature craves, will naturally seek to make it up to her by softness
where he ought to be firm, for he cannot find it in his heart to add as
it were insult to injury
----to add, that is, by a seeming harshness
which she is likely to interpret as deliberate insult, to what he knows
to be involuntary injury. If love were but sweet and strong, he could
require what he ought of her, and she would cheerfully bear it, but where
love is thin, all his requirements will appear as hardness, persecution,
and insensitivity, and he will meet with resistance and antagonism. Thus
do religion and righteousness suffer at the hands of an uncongenial marriage,
and the unhappiness of the mismatched pair in time destroys or discounts
the bliss of eternity also.
There is of course an abundant cure for all this. That cure is to secure
love before we think of marriage. Marry not till you are sure that
you can love entirely, as Baxter says, and love entirely with that
kind of love which says, Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples:
for I am sick of love. Nothing else will do here. Those who marry
before they are sick of love will soon enough be sick of marriage. These
things ought to be so obvious that there is no need to state them, yet
there are two things which cry aloud for a clear and ringing testimony
here. Those two things are the natural ignorance of the inexperienced,
and the prevailing hyperspirituality of their preachers and teachers,
who labor as it were to secure their unhappiness, by confounding together
these two loves, or seeking to replace the romantic with the generic,
or the natural with the spiritual. The endeavor is vain. We can no more
satisfy a natural emotional need by spiritual means, than we can a natural
physical need. We may as well think to cure the toothache by singing Psalms,
as to satisfy an emotional need with spiritual love, or to satisfy romantic
cravings with generic love.
But to be short, romantic love is the sweetest gift of God to man, the
nearest thing on earth to the bliss of heaven, and no man or woman ought
to think of marrying till they have secured it. But if this has been neglected,
and we have married without it, generic love remains our responsibility,
and this will go farther than anything else to smooth the rough pathway
which is inevitable in a marriage without romance.
A Fourth & Fifth Testimony
to the Agreement of All Protestants that
Sin Must Be Forsaken to Obtain Salvation
William Chillingworth (1602-1644)
[We quote below from the famous The Religion of Protestants a Safe
Way to Salvation, 1637, 1638,
----a work yet read and prized as
a consummate argument. In its day it was widely circulated: two editions
were sold within five months of its publication. ... Chillingworth was
estimable for piety, modesty, and learning, for genius, acuteness, and
enthusiasm. 'He was the best reasoner, and the most acute logician, of
his age.' ----Schaff-Herzog Encyclopædia, 1894, article
on CHILLINGWORTH. ----editor.]
Whereas you [papists] say
----They cannot make their calling certain
by good works, who do certainly believe, that before any good works they
are justified, and justified by faith alone, and by that faith whereby
they certainly believe they are justified. ----I answer, there is
no protestant but believes, that faith, repentance, and universal obedience,
are necessary to the obtaining of God's favour and eternal happiness.
You [papists] say
----that they [protestants] certainly believe
that before any good works they are justified: but this is a calumny;
there is no protestant but requires to justification remission of sins,
and to remission of sins they all require repentance, and repentance,
I may presume, may not be denied the name of a good work; being, indeed,
if it be rightly understood, and according to the sense of the word in
scripture, an effectual conversion from all sin to all holiness. But though
it be taken for mere sorrow for sins past, and a bare purpose of amendment,
yet even this is a good work; and therefore protestants, requiring this
to remission of sins, and remission of sins to justification, cannot with
candour be pretended to believe, that they are justified before any good
---The Works of W. Chillingworth. Philadelphia: R. Davis, First
American, from the Twelfth English Edition, 1841, pg. 514, bold type mine.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
4. There is a necessity, also, that sinners should heartily repent of
their sins, return to God, and be renewed to the principles and temper
of holiness, in order to their complete recovery to eternal life and happiness.
5. Besides this repentance and returning to God, it is also required,
that they believe in the name of Jesus Christ, their saviour, or trust
in him, with a humble expectation of the favour of God, through him: And,
it is through this faith, they are to be justified and accepted of God.
6. They are also obliged to obey the law of God, as far as this feeble
and imperfect state admits of, during their whole life, and still to grow
up towards perfection therein.
7. When such persons die, their souls are conveyed to a state of peace
and rest, in the presence of God, till the great day of the resurrection,
when their bodies shall rise again from the dead, and the whole person,
body and soul, be made happy for ever, in the favour and presence of God
These doctrines were generally professed at the time of the reformation,
by protestants abroad and at home, and these are the set of principles,
which have been usually called orthodoxy, or right sentiments.
----Orthodoxy and Charity united: In several Reconciling
Essays on the Law and Gospel, Faith and Works, The Works of Isaac
Watts. London: Printed for T. and T. Longman [&c.], 1753, vol. III,
pg. 566, bold type mine.
[In a most excellent treatise on The form of the gospel,
which I most highly recommend, and which comprises the second essay in
the work quoted above, Watts deals at length with two diverse modes of
preaching the gospel, meanwhile affirming that the difference between
them is only one of emphasis, both sides adhering to the same doctrines.
Those that follow the conditional way of preaching the gospel, describe
the chief act of faith, as a consent of will to submit themselves to him
in all his offices; a consent to take him for their prophet, and resolution
to make all his instructions their rule and guide; a consent to take him
for their priest, to make their peace with God, and obtain their pardon;
a consent to own him for their king, and promise sincere obedience to
him as their Lord in all his commands; but still with a humble dependence
on his Spirit and grace, to enable them to fulfil these resolutions.
Those that preach the gospel in it's more free and absolute form, describe
faith in Christ as the flight of a poor, guilty, perishing sinner to an
only refuge; and they make it's chief act to consist in a trusting or
committing the soul, ignorant, guilty, hardhearted and sinful as it is,
into the hand of Christ, with a sincere desire to have it enlightened
by him as their prophet, pardoned and reconciled to God through him as
their priest, and subdued to all willing obedience to him, and by him,
as their Lord and king; humbly expecting that he will do all this for
them; and this is, in their opinion, the best way of addressing themselves
to poor sinners, who find themselves so dark, so sinful, so feeble and
inconstant in their best obedience and purposes, that they dare not resolve
upon any thing, and can hardly say, they heartily vow and promise a submission
to Christ in all things; but that they can better apply to him in a way
of trust and dependence, humbly desiring and hoping he will work all this
in them by his free grace, while they wait upon him in his appointed means.
The one are ever persuading their hearers to bind their souls to God,
by solemn vows and covenants, even in particular duties, believing this
to be the most effectual way to guard against every sin, and best secure
their obedience and constancy under every temptation: The other are afraid
to urge so much vowing and resolving on the consciences of men, lest they
thereby lead them into a legal frame, under a spirit of bondage, and lest
their consciences be more troublesomely entangled and ensnared after every
broken vow, and their faith and hope be too much discouraged; that faith
and hope which ought to be the constant springs of their obedience. They
advise their people, therefore, rather to commit their souls afresh continually
to the care of Christ, as 2 Tim. i.12. to believe he accepts them, and
to walk watchfully, without any particular, formal, and explicit vows.
Though it must be confessed, that with regard to christians of different
tempers and temptations, both these methods have had very good success.
In short, the one dwell most upon the duties of the gospel in their sermons,
in order to qualify their hearers for the privileges; the other insist
most upon the privileges and comforts of the gospel, in order to invite
and allure them to fulfil the duties, and to give their hearers strength
and delight in the discharge of these duties.
I would not here be understood, as though I supposed either of those ministers
never to mingle mercy and terror, precepts, penalties, and promises; for
it must be acknowledged, there are some persons of each opinion, in whom
all the talents of a preacher happily unite, and they honourably sustain
both characters, the sons of thunder, and the sons of consolation; and
all of them make conscience of publishing to men both divine grace and
their duty, all of them preach repentance toward God, and faith in our
Lord Jesus Christ; but those who have chosen one scheme of divinity for
their own, more generally bend their ministry one way, and those who have
chosen the other preach more usually in the other way.
All our protestant confessions of faith, and I would persuade myself that
our ministers, at least among nonconformists, agree that, though duties
are required to be performed by us, yet the grace that is necessary to
perform them is given freely to us; that though faith and repentance,
and sincere obedience, are indispensably necessary, in order to our final
salvation, yet they are not the justifying righteousness upon account
of which our sins are pardoned, and eternal life is bestowed upon us:
That the obedience and death, and intercession of Christ, as proper high-priest
and sacrifice, are the only foundation of our acceptance with God, and
ground of all our hopes; and that from him, as a head of influence, we
must receive all grace, whereby we are conducted safe to glory.
----ibid., pp. 596-597, bold type mine.
[Watts avows himself committed to the preaching which emphasizes the
grace of God, while he contends that both sorts of preaching are successful.
Yet the success of the preachers of grace may be due to the fact that
while the preacher preaches only grace, the conscience preaches duty.
And where grace is neglected, souls may remain long under conviction,
instead of entering into peace. I hold (as Watts hints) that both sides
ought to be preached, as the state of our hearers requires. But observe,
Watts insists that the preachers on both sides were agreed in doctrine,
each holding what was more emphasized by the other side. But all this
has changed. Antinomianism has now triumphed, and men not only emphasize
divine grace, but absolutely deny the side of man's duty to forsake sin
and submit to God, and obey him. This is now the fifth testimony I have
published to the agreement of all Protestants in holding those things
which are now generally denied. If I generally emphasize the side of man's
responsibility, this is because it is generally denied, and is therefore
the truth which is particularly called for in the present day. To emphasize
grace at such a time, when all the church, and half the world besides,
is fairly steeped in the most extreme and false notions of grace, and
human responsibility is systematically denied, is more likely to damn
souls than to save them. This is worse than giving water to a drowning
J. C. Ryle on the Terms of Salvation
[J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) was a leader of the Evangelical party in the
Church of England, and the Bishop of Liverpool. Few books have had
so great a sale or been so greedily devoured by the masses, as the writings
of the Rev. J. C. Ryle. Spurgeon called him the best man in the
Church of England.
Let no man ever persuade you that any religion deserves to be called
the Gospel, in which repentance toward God has not a most prominent place.
A Gospel, indeed! That is no Gospel in which repentance is not a principal
----A Gospel! It is the Gospel of man, but not of God. ----A
Gospel! It comes from earth, but not from heaven. ----A Gospel!
It is not the Gospel at all; it is rank antinomianism, and nothing else.
So long as you hug your sins, and cleave to your sins, and will have your
sins, so long you may talk as you please about the Gospel, but your sins
are not forgiven. You may call that legal, if you like. You may say, if
you please, you hope it will be all right at the last; ----God
is merciful; ----God is love; ----Christ has died; ----I
hope I shall go to heaven after all. No! I tell you, it is not all
right. It will never be all right, at that rate. You are trampling under
foot the blood of atonement. You have as yet no part or lot in Christ.
So long as you do not repent of sin, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ
is no Gospel to your soul. Christ is a Saviour from sin, not a Saviour
for man in sin. If a man will have his sins, the day will come when that
merciful Saviour will say to him, Depart from Me, thou worker of
iniquity! depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
angels. (Matt. xxv.41.)
----Old Paths, by J. C. Ryle. London: William Hunt and Company,
1877, pp. 414-415.
Let us observe, for another thing, in these verses, how strongly our
Lord lays down the universal necessity of repentance. Twice He declares
emphatically, Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
The truth here asserted, is one of the foundations of Christianity. All
have sinned and come short of the glory of God. All of us are born
in sin. We are fond of sin, and are naturally unfit for friendship with
God. Two things are absolutely necessary to the salvation of every one
of us. We must repent, and we must believe the Gospel. Without repentance
towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, no man can be saved.
The nature of true repentance is clearly and unmistakeably laid down in
Holy Scripture. It begins with knowledge of sin. It goes on to work sorrow
for sin. It leads to confession of sin before God. It shows itself before
man by a thorough breaking off from sin. It results in producing a habit
of deep hatred for all sin. Above all, it is inseparably connected with
lively faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance like this is the characteristic
of all true Christians.
The necessity of repentance to salvation will be evident to all who search
the Scriptures, and consider the nature of the subject.
it there is no forgiveness of sins. There never was a pardoned man who
was not also a penitent. There never was one washed in the blood of Christ
who did not feel, and mourn, and confess, and hate his own sins. ----Without
it there can be no meetness for heaven. We could not be happy if we reached
the kingdom of glory with a heart loving sin. The company of saints and
angels would give us no pleasure. Our minds would not be in tune for an
eternity of holiness. Let these things sink down into our hearts. We must
repent as well as believe, if we hope to be saved.
----Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, by J. C. Ryle. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Publishing House, 1957, vol. two, part two, pp. 109-110.
We learn, for another thing, the nature of true repentance. When our
Lord had said to the sinful woman, Neither do I condemn thee,
He dismissed her with the solemn words, Go, and sin no more.
He did not merely say, Go home and repent. He pointed out
the chief thing which her case required,
----the necessity of immediate
breaking off from her sin.
Let us never forget this lesson. It is the very essence of genuine repentance,
as the Church catechism well teaches, to forsake sin. That
repentance which consists in nothing more than feeling, talking, professing,
wishing, meaning, hoping, and resolving, is worthless in God's sight.
Action is the very life of repentance unto salvation not to be repented
of. Till a man ceases to do evil and turns from his sins, he does
not really repent.
----Would we know whether we are truly converted
to God, and know anything of godly sorrow for sin, and repentance such
as causes joy in heaven? Let us search and see whether we
----ibid., vol. three, pg. 497.
I have, first, to show what it costs to be a true Christian. ...
For another thing, it will cost a man his sins. He must be willing to
give up every habit and practice which is wrong in God's sight. He must
set his face against it, quarrel with it, break off from it, fight with
it, crucify it, and labour to keep it under, whatever the world around
him may say or think. He must do this honestly and fairly. There must
be no separate truce with any special sin which he loves. He must count
all sins as his deadly enemies, and hate every false way. Whether little
or great, whether open or secret, all his sins must be thoroughly renounced.
They may struggle hard with him every day, and sometimes almost get the
mastery over him. But he must never give way to them. He must keep up
a perpetual war with his sins. It is written
from you all your transgressions. ----Break off thy
sins and iniquities. ----Cease to do evil. ----(Ezek.
xviii.31; Daniel iv.27; Isa. i.16.)
This also sounds hard. I do not wonder. Our sins are often as dear to
us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight
in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or
plucking out a right eye. But it must be done. The parting must come.
Though wickedness be sweet in the sinner's mouth, though he hide
it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not, yet
it must be given up, if he wishes to be saved. (Job xx.12,13.) He and
sin must quarrel, if he and God are to be friends. Christ is willing to
receive any sinners. But He will not receive them if they will stick to
their sins. Let us set down that item second in our account. To be a Christian
it will cost a man his sins.
----Holiness, by John Charles Ryle. London: William Hunt and Company,
Second Edition, 1883, pp. 98,100-101.
OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without
alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise,
and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own position is to be learned from his own writings.