by Glenn Conjurske
Environmentalism is for all practical purposes a religion, as militant
as Islam, as hypocritical as feminism, and more pernicious than humanism.
Humanism is perverse in exalting man to the place of God, but environmentalism
debases him to the level of the beasts that perish. Humanism recognizes
the primacy of man. Environmentalism denies it. It is an unnatural religion,
for its rudiments are a denial of the most fundamental facts of natural
----not to say of common sense. It is an ungodly religion,
for its foundations are a denial of some of the most fundamental principles
of revealed religion. Yet it is a popular religion, securing the commitment
and stirring the passions of a vast multitude of deluded souls. It is
diligently taught to the children in the public schools, by a pervasive
system of brainwashing, and in story books designed for the youngest who
can read, in which man is always presented as a rapacious villain, and
the darling little wolves and tigers ----depicted in comic style,
with human intelligence, as cute as kittens, and as sweet as angels ----are
presented as the persecuted sufferers.
This new religion is an outgrowth of an older and more innocent thing,
called conservationism, but environmentalism is the profane extreme to
which this has been carried by a generation utterly godless. Conservationism
aimed to curb the exploitation of the earth's resources, to conserve
them for the use of future generations. Environmentalism aims to curb
the use of the earth by man, and reserve it for rocks and rivers and toads
and owls. Though we have nothing to do with political or social movements,
we have little quarrel with the principles of conservationism. Waste and
greed and exploitation are sinful, and as men are wicked, they may require
laws to prohibit the waste and exploitation of the creation of God. But
it is one thing to prohibit the abuse, and quite another to deny the use.
But we do not write to change the world. We write for no political ends
whatever. We do not aim to impede the progress of the environmental movement.
We have no hope of accomplishing that. What we aim at is to deliver ignorant
and sentimental Christians from this snare, and perhaps to convict worldly
Christians of their error
----perhaps even to wake up some of the
ungodly, by demonstrating to them the Satanic character of this movement.
Those fundamental truths which environmentalism denies are all found in
the first chapter of Genesis, where we read, And God said, Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle,
and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon
the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created
he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God
said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And
God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon
the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of
a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
And again, in the second chapter of Genesis, And the LORD God took
the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Here, then, are the plain facts of revelation, concerning both man and
his God-given domain. Man is the image of God, and is lord over all the
lower creation. The earth as God made it, before it was subjected to the
curse, required the care of man. God commanded man to dress it and
to keep it. This was not mere busy-work. The earth was not made
for snakes and turtles, nor for grass and trees, but for man, and in order
that it should be suitable and profitable and pleasant for man, it required
man to dress it and to keep it. This in its pristine state,
as it came fresh from the hand of God. What that dressing and keeping
consisted of was left to man's discretion. Adam may have chosen to keep
the ferns from overgrowing his foot paths, or Eve to keep the trees from
shading her favorite flowers, or her tomato patch. They may have chosen
that the berries should grow here, and the hazel nuts there, or that some
pervasive ivy should be banned from their domain altogether. Whatever
it was, it was at their own discretion, to make the earth pleasant and
profitable for themselves, and this was necessary even in the pristine
and uncursed earth, and enjoined of God even in Paradise. God never designed
that they should leave the earth to nature, but dress it and keep
it at their own pleasure, and for their own benefit.
Man was commanded to replenish the earth, and subdue it. The
earth as God created it required to be subdued, and subdued for man's
sake and profit. Though it came fresh from the hand of a wise and good
creator, and though he pronounced it all to be very good,
yet he commanded the man to subdue it. This was necessary. Fields required
to be cleared of trees and rocks, and levelled and tilled and planted.
Swamps and wetlands required to be drained or filled, wells
to be dug, springs to be confined, streams to be dammed or diverted, bridges
to be constructed, roads to be built, fences made to keep his animals
or to protect his crops, hills removed or valleys filled, ponds filled
up or ponds created, just as men should please, in whatsoever fashion
was required to make the earth pleasing and profitable for man, for whom
it was created. All this from the beginning of the creation, though man
lived a simple and rural life, before the first hint of modern technology
existed, and all this by the express direction of God. Thus was man to
subdue the earth, according to the command of God, given in Paradise,
ere the first breath of sin or curse had entered. And if God commanded
this, it is certainly as right as it is necessary.
Yet environmentalists deny all this, and fight against it with all their
power. The earth must be preserved in its natural state. Swamps and wetlands
are sacred, and may not be touched by man. They must be preserved as a
----not for man, but for frogs and cattails. Lakes and rivers
are not to be touched. Trees are not to be cut. No roads are to be built
in the forests. In plain English, environmentalism denies man the right
to subdue the earth, or, in a little plainer English, denies man the right
to keep the commandment of God.
We are very well aware that the greed and rapine of modern man have gone
beyond subduing the earth, and proceeded in many ways to pollute and destroy
it. This is altogether too true, but environmentalism is an immoderate
reaction against this, which denies the basic rights of man and God
whoever denies man the right to keep the commandment of God, on any plea
whatsoever, denies the rights of God. But environmentalism does not recognize
the existence of God. Nature is its god. Nature's way is best,
these folks contend, and will therefore have such parts of the earth as
they choose left to nature, directly in the teeth of God's first command
to man, to subdue it. The hypocrisy of this is glaring, for all the environmentalists
drive automobiles, and drive them on roads, too. When did nature
ever make an automobile, or a concrete highway? The environmentalists
in our area have been fighting tooth and nail for years against a proposed
copper mine, and yet they all use electricity, carried to and through
their houses by copper wires. Did those copper wires grow on trees? They
all use aluminum and steel ----and plastic! ----none of which
ever came to them by nature's way, but only by the art and
industry of man, in subduing the earth, and making it profitable to serve
his ends. We do not believe there is a sincere environmentalist on the
face of the earth, who actually lives according to nature's way.
Their whole life is one grand tissue of hypocrisy, professing one thing,
and living another, insisting that the other fellow should abide by nature's
way if he wishes to cut a tree or build a road or drain a swamp,
but driving automobiles and using electrical power ----and glass
and plastic and paper ----themselves.
But it will not suffice for me merely to assert that the earth was created
for man. This will be self-evident to those who recognize the primacy
of man, according to the creation of God, but for those whose minds are
perverted by godless ideologies, the fact must be proved. To prove it,
of course, I appeal to Scripture, for I do not write for any who do not
acknowledge its authority. In Isaiah 45:18 we are told, For thus
saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth
and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed
it to be inhabited. I am the LORD; and there is none else. To leave
the earth to nature is to have created it in vain. The Lord made it to
be inhabited, and for this purpose it must be subdued. Land must be cleared,
houses and barns and fences built, ditches dug to drain noxious swamps
and lagoons, and whatsoever else might prove necessary that the earth
might be inhabited, according to the purpose of the God who created it.
But some whose minds are perverted, who believe in the fancied rights
of animals, and deny that God has given man dominion over the earth and
every living thing in it, will no doubt answer that the earth was created
to be inhabited by wolves and owls, as much as by man. I turn
back a few verses, therefore, to Isaiah 45:12, where the Lord says, I
have made the earth, and created man upon it. Why does he not say,
I have made the earth, and created spotted owls upon it? Why
not, I have made the earth, and created wolves and elk upon it?
This is in fact true, but it is not the purpose of God. The plants and
animals were all created for man's benefit, as much as the earth was,
and man was given dominion over them all. But the environmentalists argue
as the man who would walk into a department store, and claim that the
store was made for the sake of merchandise, and so forbid the manager
to remove or alter anything. The store may have been made for the merchandise,
but the whole business was made for the man who owns it. The earth
is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell
therein. The Lord is the owner, and he has made man the manager.
He has given to man dominion over every living thing that moveth
upon the earth.
The animals know the primacy of man, if deluded men do not. The animals
know by nature those things which man has been deprived of by godless
education, for God has written it in the very souls of the beasts, as
he has written it in his word. And the fear of you, he says,
and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and
upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon
all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis
9:2). It is true enough that every kind of beasts, and of birds,
and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed
of mankind, (James 3:7), but those which are tamed of man submit
to him as lord, so that all the beasts of the earth recognize the primacy
of man, either by their fear and dread of him, or by their submission.
This is of God. Into your hand are they delivered.
Thus man, if he please, may harness the ox to his plow, or the horse to
his wagon, and require them to do his work. Nor is this a case of might
makes right. Man has not acquired this right by his superior wisdom
or wit. It is God who gave that right to man, on the day that he created
him. Nor does man's right extend to domestic animals only, but to every
living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The Lord has thus given to man the power over every living thing, to determine
its habitat, to use it for his own ends, and certainly, if the thing proves
noxious, to kill and destroy it. It has been the custom in Texas, once
a year, to have a sweeping rattlesnake hunt, and destroy thousands of
the venomous creatures. This is man's God-given right. I have read of
men, in the frontier days of America, surrounding a large area of woods,
and marching to the center from all sides, so as to surround and exterminate
all the wolves and bears and panthers, and it is God who has given man
the right to do so. Into your hand are they delivered. The
Lord says to his apostles, Behold, I give unto you power to tread
on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing
shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19). When Paul was attacked
by a venomous serpent, he shook it off into the fire, for though it had
no power to hurt him, yet it might hurt others. Ah! and what if it had
belonged to an endangered species! The fact is, any beast
which threatens or attacks a man must thereby render itself endangered.
This is the power of the enemy, and the Lord himself gives
us the right to tread on such beasts, and certainly to exterminate such
of them as pose any threat to man, or to man's interests. We are engaged
at the present moment
----we and thousands of others in northern
Wisconsin ----in a war of extermination upon the armies of caterpillars
which threaten to destroy our trees, and we hold that man has more right
to his shade than the caterpillar to his life. Every man who swats a mosquito
believes that man has more right to his comfort than the mosquito to his
Those who object to this are inspired by godless ideologies, the spawn
of Satan, whose way it is always to oppose all that God has ordained.
If man determines that certain beasts shall have no habitat,
so that they must die off and become extinct, this is within the rights
and commission which God has given him. If he does this for greed or sport,
we condemn it, but if he does so for his own safety, subsistence, or well-being,
this is as God has ordered it. He formed it, formed all
the earth, not to be left to nature, but to be inhabited,
and in this all plants and animals must give way to man.
But again, that the Lord created the earth to be inhabited
by man is evident by his own actions in giving the land of promise to
Israel. Though it was inhabited by peoples so wicked that they were devoted
to destruction, yet God himself would preserve them so long as was necessary
to preserve the civilized state of the land. So he says in Deuteronomy
7:22, And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee
by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts
of the field increase upon thee. Though those nations were so wicked
that God would not suffer them to live, yet he would not allow the land
to revert to nature, nor to become a habitat for
the beasts, but would preserve those peoples even in their ripened wickedness,
precisely to prevent the land from becoming a habitat for the beasts.
If God made the earth to be inhabited, it was for man he made it, not
for the beasts, and he gave to man the right to inhabit it, and to so
control every thing in it as to make it suitable and comfortable for his
own habitation. In this scripture we have the explicit word of God himself,
as to his own purpose and course of action, and this scripture assumes
the obvious fact that the beasts must be diminished or destroyed, and
their habitat eliminated, in order to make the land a proper habitation
for men. In the case before us, God himself worked to exclude the beasts,
to preserve the earth as a habitation for man, for whom he made it. If
the earth is large enough for both man and wolves and bears, they may
both have their share of it, but where it is needed as a habitation for
man, the habitat of the beasts must give way, according to the purpose
and explicit declaration of God himself.
But I would like my grandchildren to be able to see wolves and eagles.
Yes, and I would like my children to see mammoths and dinosaurs also.
But what if they cannot? What dire calamity is this? I would like them
to see wolves, or to hear them at any rate, but then I would not like
my neighbor's sheep (nor my own children) to be carried off by them. Pleasure
and convenience must yield to necessity.
I give the experience of one of the early settlers in Canada. My
father, he says, brought some cattle with him. One was a nice
heifer two years old. One morning just outside of the clearing the bones
of the heifer were found picked by the wolves. The first settlers often
lost their cows and young cattle in this way. And for some years the life
of a sheep was worth nothing, unless kept in an inclosure with a fence
so high that a wolf could not get over it.
And the black bears were by no means scarce in the locality, as
more than one empty pig-pen bore its testimony in the early days of the
settlement. The same experience was repeated ten thousand times
over, throughout Canada and America, in the early days of
many another settlement. In the later days, man was successful in subduing
the earth, and exercising his God-given dominion over the wolves and the
bears, so as to eliminate them or their habitat, judging
judging quite rightly ----that their own pork and butter were more
important than the howl of the wolf in the wilderness, however pleasing
the latter might be as a midnight serenade.
All this is opposed and denied by the environmentalists. They deny the
right of man thus to intrude upon the habitat of the wolves. Indeed, they
now preach, and maintain by law, the sacred right of the wolves to intrude
upon the habitat of man. Though loons are much in use also, it is the
wolf which has become the primary symbol of the environmentalists, and
his image appears everywhere on pictures and posters
environmental license plates in Wisconsin ----so that
even silly girls must display the visage and form of this vicious predator
on their walls and their clothing. We could relate accounts enough of
this dangerous creature, from the books which we have read, but one shall
suffice. James Evans, an early missionary to the Indians of Canada, kept
a train of sled dogs which were half wolf. These four hybrids,
we are told, never lost their wolfish disposition. Only their owner
and one or two of his Indian drivers could manage them. They had to be
chained up each night at the close of the day's work. And in the summer
time they had to be kept like wild animals, imprisoned inside a high stockade.
But when harnessed up in tandem style to Mr. Evans' sled, with Henry Budd
or Mustagan, or some other famous Indian runner accompanying them as guide,
they must have been the finest train the country ever saw. Their end was
sudden, and very tragic was the event that preceded it.
One morning Mr. Evans, accompanied by an Indian driver who could
also master them, went into the high stockaded yard to let them loose
for a little exercise. The strong door was securely closed behind them,
as they entered, but it was not locked, as it fastened from the outside.
The two men, armed with their heavy whips, were inside with the fierce
brutes, which they had unchained and allowed to gambol about as was their
wont and delight. In the meantime an old chief had come to the mission
house, and on asking to see Mr. Evans, was told by Mrs. Evans that he
was somewhere about the premises. He left the house, and after looking
in various places, opened the door of the stockaded yard, and went in.
The ferocious animals sprang upon him in an instant, and before Mr. Evans
and his companion could tear them away, they had so mangled the old man
that he died of the wounds and shock. Of course the brutes were shot immediately,
and thus ended the train that had been more talked about than any that
ever existed in that country.
Now the nature of the wolf has not changed. Environmentalists make many
claims as to the harmlessness of the wolf, and while we can grant that
he is more damaging to man's interests than he is to man himself, yet
it is just ignorance and prejudice which make him harmless. He is a cunning
and dangerous predator, who hunts in packs, and therefore fears nothing.
This is the dangerous creature which has now become the symbol of these
brainwashed and infatuated souls, who know nothing of the reality of the
matter, but who would certainly sing another tune if they met a wolf in
the wild. The rights of the wolf are held sacred, and the rights of man
are subjected to them. Those who maintain this folly do not believe that
man ought to have any precedence over the beasts, for they do not believe
that man is made in the image of God, or that there is any intrinsic difference
between man and beast, and they do not believe that God has given man
dominion over all the earth, and over every living thing
that moveth. This is the advanced fruit of the godless doctrine
of evolution, which has been diligently propagated in the public schools
for three generations.
A recently passed zoning ordinance in the county in which I live
pages in length! ----denies man the right to a year-round dwelling
on any property zoned (by a few power-grasping officials)
as forest land. Thus does man, under the sway of this new religion, deny
to his fellow man the right to keep the commandment of God. Swamps and
wetlands have long since been held as sacred to the
environment, and off limits to man. Men are forbidden to erect houses
within seventy-five or a hundred feet of a lake, and now the same restriction
is placed upon the land adjoining swamps, wetlands, and lowlands. Thus
does environmentalism deny the rights of both God and man, and exalt nature,
which was created of God to be man's servant and possession, to be his
master and lord. God made the earth to be inhabited, and commanded
man to subdue it for that purpose. God gave man dominion over all
the earth, but this new religion reverses the decree of the Almighty,
and denies man the right to subdue and inhabit the earth, in order that
it may be a habitat for wolves and frogs and mosquitoes. This is all directly
against God and the Bible, as much as it is against common sense. Though
no sparrow can fall to the ground without the will of the heavenly Father,
yet God says that man is of more value than many sparrows. Man alone is
made in the image of God, and one man is therefore of more value than
all the owls or wolves on earth. This is what is passionately denied by
godless environmentalism. It does not believe that man is made in the
image of God, but is founded upon the profane theory of evolution, which
makes man and plants and animals all equal in dignity and worth. In theory
and ideology it reduces man to the same level with the plants and animals,
and practically it debases him below them, shutting man out from the use
of the earth, over which God has made him lord, in order that it may be
given to plants and animals and rivers and rocks, over which God has given
But I must turn aside here, and offer a word of clarification for the
sake of those who see only words, and not things. I have nothing to do
with Reconstructionism, or dominion theology
no sympathy with it. The dominion of which I speak is another thing altogether
from that for which they contend. Their dominion is social, civil, and
political. They seek the dominion of the church over the world. The dominion
for which I contend has nothing to do with the church, but is only the
dominion of man over the lower creation. I aim at no redemption of social
institutions, no bringing in of a new world order, no establishment of
the kingdom of God without the return of the King, but only the right
of man as such to exercise dominion over rocks and rivers and trees and
beasts and birds. Dominion theology claims the right of the church to
exercise dominion over the world. I only assert the right of man to exercise
dominion over the earth. The social and political system which is now
known as the world did not so much as exist when God gave man dominion
over the earth. What I contend for is the right of man to clear and fence
his ground, to fill up the puddle in his drive way or the swamp in his
field, to eliminate the raccoons or rabbits or caterpillars which destroy
his garden, or the chipmunks which eat his strawberries, or to kill the
wolf or the eagle which kills his chickens or his sheep. Such dominion
God has given to man as man, because he is made in the image of God. This
has nothing to do with the church, nor with any spiritual commission to
subdue the earth for the kingdom of God. It is only the right of man as
man to subdue the earth for himself, for his own habitation, and to that
end to have dominion not only over all the earth, but over
every living thing that moveth upon the earth. It is this dominion
which environmentalism denies.
But let it be understood, we do not believe in any wanton or purposeless
destruction of species, any more than we do of so destroying individual
creatures. These are the creation of God, and he cares for their preservation.
It was God who commanded Noah to build an ark for the preservation of
the species, and the Lord cared also for the preservation of the much
cattle in Nineveh. The Son of God informs us that not one sparrow
can fall to the ground without the will of our Father in heaven, but then
the purpose for which he tells us this is not to move us to protect the
sparrows, but to teach us that man is of more value than many sparrows
he is of more value than many species also. We stand against any waste
or wanton exploitation of anything which God has created. We write only
to oppose the godless philosophies by which the environmentalists make
void the decrees of the Almighty, and cast his word to the winds.
The command of God must take precedence over the balance of nature
and nature's way. God has given dominion to man, over all
the earth, and commanded him to subdue it. All the earth includes
the forests and the jungles and the swamps and the wetlands
and the mountains. That certain men have abused their dominion is notorious,
but this gives no man the right to revoke the dominion which God has given.
God made all the earth to be inhabited, and gave to man the
right to subdue it for himself, for his own habitation. The fundamental
fact which environmentalism ignores or denies is that man is the image
of God, and that man therefore must take precedence over rivers and wolves
and eagles and beetles and ferns and trees. The earth was made for man,
not man for the earth. The birds and beasts were all made for man, and
it is God who gave man dominion over them, it is God who delivered them
into man's hand, to control them and use them for his own ends. It is
God who gave man the right to break a horse, and saddle and ride it. It
is God who gave man the right to kill and eat fish and fowl
and beef and venison, or to exterminate rattlesnakes.
And the hand of man is required not only to subdue the earth, and to have
dominion over it, but to dress it and to keep it also. When
there was not a man to till the ground, when nature's
way had free course, the earth was unsuited to the purpose for which
the Lord created it. The proliferation of forest or jungle may be beautiful
to poets and dreamers, and a paradise for panthers and mosquitoes, but
it provides neither food nor habitation for man. Therefore the LORD
God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence
he was taken, but we cannot till a jungle or rain forest till first
we clear it. This is necessary for the well-being of man. We have read
more than one account, from the pioneer days of America and Canada, of
men clearing their land, and burning the trees in heaps. The first settlers
in the place where I live cut the trees and floated them down the river.
This was necessary if man was to till the ground. There were more trees
than any man knew what to do with, and they stood in his way. Well
have often seen men clear the land and burn the trees in the present day
also, and we think there is little excuse for it today, for the land is
not now cleared for necessity, but for greed, not to raise food, but to
raise condominiums and shopping malls. The unscrupulous greed of modern
man is a reality, and this gives plausible occasion to all the preposterous
claims of the environmentalists. Still, we resist those claims as fundamentally
unsound, and directly opposed to the revealed will of God.
God has commanded man to till the ground, and to dress and keep the land.
This is as necessary as it is right. There are thousands of domestic flowers
and fruits and vegetables which are never found in nature at all. That
is, they are never found in the wild. These are generally among the most
useful and valuable of plants, and the fact is, they require man's cultivation
and care. Who ever found a corn stalk growing in the woods, or peas or
beans or radishes, or any garden vegetable? Some domestic plants, such
as chives or lilacs, may survive in the wilderness for generations after
man has ceased to dwell there, yet they are found only where man has planted
them. Others may survive where they have been planted, but without man's
cultivation will degenerate. I was walking in a field in the county forest
a year ago
----a field evidently cleared by man, but where no man
has lived for many years, there being no trace remaining of house or barn ----and
I was surprised to find parsnips growing. The tops were tall and luxuriant,
but when I pulled them up I found the roots gnarled and thin and woody ----practically
inedible, though they were certainly parsnips. Without a man to cultivate
the soil, and to select and plant the best seeds, the best of vegetables
had degenerated to something unfit to eat, and most garden vegetables
will not even survive in the wild. Whatever may have been the case in
Paradise, ere the earth was cursed for man's sin, it is unquestionably
true now that many of the most useful and beneficial plants cannot survive
or thrive without the hand of man. We read in the parable of the sower,
that when the sower went forth to sow, some of the good seed fell
among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them, and this
is a plain fact of life. The beneficial plants cannot compete with the
weeds, and if man does not till the earth, and remove or subdue the weeds,
they will take over the ground, and choke out the useful plants.
The most useful of the domestic animals also require the care of man.
A dog or a cat may thrive in the wild, but sheep and cattle will not.
No man has ever found a barnyard fowl which has survived for generations
in the wilderness, and no man ever will. The thing is simply impossible.
Such creatures have none of the speed or sagacity of the wild varieties.
They require the care of man. Left to nature, they must quickly die out,
and thus man must lose some of his most beneficial servants
who ever knew a wild bird to lay an egg a day for months on end, or anything
but a domestic cow to give six or eight gallons of milk a day? ----and
I have known one cow to give ten. Why would any wild bird lay an egg a
day? For what ----for whom ----would she lay them? What would
she do with them? What could become of them? These laying hens were obviously
made for man. Why would any wild beast of any description give eight gallons
of milk a day? Left to nature, with but one calf to suck her, and no man
to milk her, such a cow must groan in pain and agony, or burst. It is
patent from her very nature that she was made for man, and it is certain
that she cannot survive without his care. It is certain too that man has
the right to milk her, to confine her within fences, to hang a bell about
her neck, and to exercise whatever other dominion over her which may suit
his ends ----yes, and to kill the wolves which would attack her.
All this has been given by God to man as man.
For all this God has enjoined upon man that he subdue all the earth,
and that he dress it and keep it, and exercise dominion, not
only over all the earth, but over every living thing that moveth upon
the earth. And all this, not to preserve the earth in its natural state,
but to render it pleasing and profitable as his own habitation.
But supposing all the claims of the environmentalists were legitimate,
is not this a poor and petty business for a man who professes to be a
----who believes in a coming day of judgement, a heaven
and a hell? Peter writes, Knowing this first, that there shall come
in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying,
Where is the promise of his coming? Those days have come. Nevertheless,
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord
will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass
away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,
the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
(II Pet. 3:3-10). And shall men who know and believe these things occupy
themselves with preserving the earth for future generations? ----for
generations which in all likelihood will never exist, and which will be
wicked and bound for hell if they do? Has the Lord given you no higher
calling than this? We are taught to pray, Thy kingdom come.
We know that the coming of that kingdom will be by the return of the Lord
Jesus Christ in power and glory. We know that the ungodly multitudes which
now populate the earth will be destroyed at his coming. Behold,
the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment
upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their
ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard
speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. For
yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief
in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction
cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not
escape. And can a man who believes these things, and sincerely prays
Thy kingdom come, can such a man occupy himself with protecting
endangered species for future generations? The plain fact is, the most
endangered species on the face of the earth is man, who is shortly to
be overtaken by sudden destruction at the hands of an angry God, and they
shall not escape. Neither will they trouble themselves then about the
fauna and the flora, nor the water quality, but will then be crying to
the rocks and mountains to fall upon them, and hide them from the wrath
of the Lord and his Christ. And with such things immediately before us,
have we nothing better to do than preserve the natural resources for future
We do not speak to those who believe nothing of the Bible or God or eternity
evolution and godless education have robbed of the only knowledge which
could give any meaning to life ----whose existence and outlook are
as empty as that of a dog. These who have nothing solid or spiritual or
eternal to live for must find some flag to follow. They must embrace some
cause or movement to give some meaning to their empty existence, and the
devil will provide them with causes enough, from communism to environmentalism,
all of them profane and godless, all of them laboring for this life and
this earth, all forgetting God and heaven and eternity, all mindless of
the coming day of judgement. But what have the children of God to do with
such things? Even if we could grant the legitimacy of the whole environmental
scheme, yet we must say to the child of God, Let the dead bury the
dead, but go thou and preach the gospel.
What Is Wisdom?
by Glenn Conjurske
Wisdom is doubtless a very complex thing, having many facets, but I aim
at present merely to describe its essence. I suppose the most fundamental
part of wisdom consists of an understanding of how to accomplish our ends.
Next to that lies an understanding of which ends are worth accomplishing
ability to differentiate between the weighty and the frivolous, to distinguish
necessity from convenience, etc. Both these aspects of wisdom are well
illustrated in the parable of the unjust steward, in Luke 16. This steward
was accused to his lord that he wasted his goods, and called to account
for it. Expecting to be thrust out of his office, he proceeded to cheat
his lord further, by reducing the bills of his debtors, so that when he
lost his position, they would receive him into their houses. And
the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for
the children of this world are in their own kind [Greek] wiser than the
children of light. He had not done justly, but wisely. He had acted
in such a manner as to secure his own personal ends. This is wisdom. The
children of this world are wiser in their own kind than the children of
light. They know how to gain their own ends in their own sphere, better
than the children of light do in their sphere.
And observe, the unjust steward acted entirely for himself. Wisdom is
the ability to gain our own ends, and it is quite consistent with selfishness,
with injustice, and with ungodliness. We suppose there is not a wiser
creature in existence than the devil. He knows how to gain his ends. The
world, which is his own domain and kingdom, is the virtual perfection
of wisdom, by which the fiend has gained the allegiance of almost the
whole of the human race, and the more we study the world
education, its politics, its religions, its advertising, its pleasures,
its customs ----the more impressed we must be with the wisdom of
its ruler and god.
But there is a second step of wisdom, which is to know what ends are worth
gaining. This will lead us always to put necessity before convenience,
and to secure the future even at the expense of the present. This the
unjust steward did. His course of action could only render his present
position utterly hopeless, yet it secured his future, and this is wisdom.
It fell short, of course, of the best wisdom, for it saw nothing of the
ultimate future. It secured his future only in this world. This was wisdom,
as far as it went, but we hardly need say that the truest wisdom not only
secures the future at the expense of the present, but secures the eternal
at the expense of the temporal. And here we see that men may be passing
wise in their own kind
----with unerring foresight securing their
own future in this world ----and yet utter fools, in that they neglect
their eternal interests for those of time. Wise as serpents
in their own sphere, they are utterly destitute of that wisdom of which
the fear of the Lord is the beginning.
The devil himself is both the perfection of wisdom, and the most consummate
fool. He knows how to gain his own ends in his own sphere, but is utterly
destitute of the second step of wisdom, to know which ends are worth gaining.
All his wisdom is expended upon the present advantage, while he is utterly
regardless of the end. He knows how to gain the present victory, but goes
on day after day treasuring up to himself ever greater wrath for the day
of judgement. And as he acts himself, so he teaches his disciples to act
also. The result is that the world is a system replete with the most consummate
wisdom in its own kind, while it reeks of the most astonishing folly with
respect to the ultimate future.
The hyperspiritual will of course object to my description of wisdom,
on the ground that it is selfish, to which I need only reply that wisdom
certainly is selfish. That is, it has a paramount regard to
its own interests. This was undeniably the case with the unjust steward,
who acted solely for his own interests, and was yet commended because
he had done wisely. Let any who doubts this but read the book of Proverbs.
Any man who can read that book, and yet deny that wisdom has a supreme
regard to its own interests, is not an honest man. To take one example
among many, Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither
decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve
thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing;
therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt
her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when
thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace:
a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. Many such things are
in the Bible, but surely this one is sufficient to establish the matter.
But the selfish nature of wisdom will make it a dangerous possession,
if we have it alone, without virtue. None were so wise as Ahithophel,
whose counsel was as an oracle of God
----but having no character,
he could use his wisdom indifferently, either for the man of God, or against
him, either for David or Absalom. It is therefore that the Lord admonishes
us in Matthew 10:16, Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst
of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Wise as serpents, to secure our own interests, and it may be our own skin,
while we walk as sheep in the midst of wolves, but harmless as doves,
that we tread not on the legitimate interests of the wolves in the process.
The Latin Element in the English Language
by Glenn Conjurske
In principle one language is as good as another. They are all of divine
origin. We utterly repudiate the notion of modernists and infidels that
language is human, or of human origin. God spoke to Adam, and Adam understood
him, and spoke in reply. The language which they used was not a human
creation, but came from God, and, we suppose, was built into Adam when
God created him. We do not believe Adam learned to talk, as infants now
do. He was no infant when God created him, but a full-grown man, lacking
only his beard
----or his moustache, depending on whether we consult
the story books of the Baptists or the Mennonites. Infants learn to speak
by listening to their elders, but of those Adam had none. If he learned
to talk by listening to God, he was doubtless some time doing it, but
in any case the language came from God. It was doubtless built into Eve
also, when God created her. We do not believe Adam taught Eve to talk.
She came from his side a help meet for him, a woman, not a
woman's body with the mind of a prattling infant. Language came from God,
and is his creation. We speak, of course, of language itself ----of
spoken language, not of writing. Writing may have been devised by man,
but the language which he wrote came from God.
When God confounded the tongues at Babel, there was no alteration at all
in the essence of language. Every man, or coterie of men, received their
own language, not learned over time, but impressed upon their minds in
an instant by divine wisdom and power, the same as it had been upon Adam's
mind at his creation. All the languages thus created by God at Babel stood
on an equal footing
----every one of them equally suited as the
vehicle of the thoughts and understanding which all the people then held
in common, including the knowledge of God, for we suppose it was at the
time of Babel that they knew God, but glorified him not as
God, and were therefore given up by God.
All the languages of the earth, then, were created equal.
We grant that all languages have undergone change since that time, in
vocabulary and even in grammar. We grant, too, that when primeval knowledge
was lost through the degradation of the people, the words which expressed
those ideas were lost also, so that in modern times degraded peoples (falsely
called primitive) have been found whose languages contained no words to
designate God or various other eternal realities. Such cases, however,
are rather rare than common, and certainly do not apply to most languages.
Most languages remain essentially equal, quite capable of expressing all
spiritual realities, though in order to do so many words must be raised
above the level of their common usage. This was true even of the Greek,
in which the New Testament was written.
We do not believe, therefore, that English has any superiority over Latin
as a vehicle of the truth of God
----neither in principle nor in
fact. We regard it as a foolish imagination to affirm otherwise. Yet some
have been foolish enough to do so, and this folly did not begin with the
modern King James Only movement. In 1882 was published The History of
the English Bible: Extending from the Earliest Saxon Translations to the
Present Anglo-American Revision; with Special Reference to the Protestant
Religion and the English Language, by Blackford Condit. He begins with
his theme on the second page of the preface, saying, But we are
safe in stating that leading bishops in the very beginning as well as
in the after development of the Roman Catholic Church, found the Latin
language adapted to their ambitious purposes. No doubt they did,
but we affirm that they would have found the Greek or the Saxon just as
suitable. To make out that the Latin is a sinister language, while the
English is some way godly, is simply foolish. Yet Mr. Condit labors this
proposition throughout his book.
There had already grown up, he says, a fixed relation
between the Latin language and the Romish Church. So mutual had become
this relation that they must stand or fall together. Moreover, if Romanism
is one with the Latin, equally true is it that Protestantism is one with
the Teutonic tongue. The conflict, therefore, between these two world-wide
forces became largely one of language.
But this is nothing better than imagination. He frequently cites the opposition
of the Romish church to vernacular translations of the Scriptures, in
proof of his proposition, but this really had nothing to do with the matter.
The design of the papacy was that the people should have no Bible in any
language which they could understand. If they had understood Latin, the
pope would have been as alarmed at the circulation of the Vulgate as he
was at Wycliffe's version. All the papists' cries concerning the corruptions
in the vernacular versions were just so much hypocrisy. It is the UNFETTERED
WORD OF GOD which the papacy fears, in any language. Mr. Condit blames
the Roman church too little, and therefore must blame the Latin tongue
And it is hard to tell how he can thus impugn the Latin, without impugning
the English as well, for English as it now exists is filled with Latin
wherever we look. We hold, however, that the presence of this plethora
of Latin derivatives in the English language is purely neutral from any
moral viewpoint. It is neither sinister nor virtuous. It neither corrupts
nor purifies the language in anything which is moral or religious. At
the same time we hold that these Latin derivatives greatly enhance our
tongue in lesser ways. In rehearsing the excellency of the English Bible,
one of the most learned men ever to grace the church of God ascribes a
part of that excellency to the English language. S. C. Malan says, But
if the ENGLISH BIBLE have a lawful right to the sisterhood of those ancient
remains of primitive Christianity, it stands pre-eminent when side by
side with more modern versions,
----not only for its devout adherence
to the original texts, but also for the beauty of its style. This is,
of course, partly owing to the nature of the English language, which is
alike firm and flexible, elegant and manly; and, so far, infinitely superior
to the flippancy of the French, to the ponderousness of the German, and
to the soft or effeminate character of the Italian and of other such European
idioms, as a channel to convey the sense of the sacred texts.
Firm, we suppose, largely due to the character of the Anglo-Saxon, and
flexible, largely due to the admixture of the Latin. Manly, due to the
nature of the Anglo-Saxon, and elegant owing to the addition of the Latin.
It is the mixture of these unlike elements which makes the English tongue
the thing of grace and beauty which it is. The profusion of polysyllabic
epithets in the Greek is as wearisome as a language of monosyllables would
be. In English we have them both, in most any combination we may please.
The Saxon element gives us a bold vigor which the Latin can rarely equal.
The Latin element gives us a musical and mellifluous sound which the bare
Saxon can hardly match. The combination of these two unlike elements gives
to us a power of expression which I suppose can hardly be equalled in
any language on earth. A writer who knows the English tongue may vary
his cadence just as he pleases
----or we may say, just as it pleases.
Who could wish always to say heavenly, when he might sometimes
say celestial? ----who always to say womanly,
when he might say feminine? ----who always to say cleansing,
when he might say purification? ----who always to say
witness, when he might say testimony? Examples
of this sort might be multiplied almost endlessly, and in these it plainly
appears that much of the beauty of the English language belongs to its
Latin element. Who, we might say, would ever wish to say womanhood,
or womanliness, when he might say femininity.
If grace and beauty were all our thought, those clumsy and ungraceful
epithets must have bowed themselves out of the language so soon as femininity
and feminicity appeared; but we want variety and versatility
as well as grace and beauty, and it is the combination of the Latin and
Anglo-Saxon tongues which gives it to us.
This versatility may appear more strikingly in poetry than in other writing.
In addition to the more obvious fact that it greatly facilitates our securing
of rhyme, rhythm, and sense together
----without which we have no
poetry worth the name ----in good poetry we may observe two manner
of strokes which display the master hand. The first is to break up a single
line into three or four two-word sentences. The vigor of this is very
telling. The second is to fill up a whole line, or nearly a line, with
a single word. The effect of this is very pleasing. And if two such lines
stand next to each other, the very sound and cadence of them creates a
strong emotion. Now observe that the first of these strokes requires the
Anglo-Saxon. The second requires the Latin. The combination of these two
makes our beloved English as beautiful and expressive as a language well
could be. Some reformers have endeavored to thrust out the
Latin element, even producing translations of the Bible which religiously
exclude all Latin derivatives. Such a translation must be very bare and
bald, besides thrusting out a host of ancient landmarks. Such reformers
are misguided. For my part, I thank God most heartily for English as it
is, Latin and all. We may find a better language in heaven, but we shall
never find a better on earth.
But there is more. The present language is essentially two languages combined
into one, the Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, and the Latin, which came to
England largely by way of the Old French at the time of the Norman conquest.
As noticed already, the combination of these two languages gives to us
a very great versatility
----an almost endless variety of synonyms,
and so an almost unlimited ability to vary our expression. This of course
enhances the beauty of the language, but it does more. It supplies what
is simply a necessity to a refined English mind. The English mind abhors
the repetition of the same word in the near context. We ask nothing of
why this is so, or of how it came about. We only state the fact. No refined
English writer would ever pen such a sentence as The building was
burglarized twice in the first year after the building was built.
He will replace the second building with a synonym or a pronoun.
Even the cognate built will create a little uneasiness to
a refined ear, so that The building was burglarized twice in the
first year after it was erected is much to be preferred. We cannot
always use pronouns, however. They are often ambiguous, and the repetition
even of pronouns is wearisome to the English ear. We therefore use synonyms,
and the Latin element in the English language gives us so great an abundance
of them as to leave but little to be desired.
We think, then, that those who deplore the admixture of Latin in the English
tongue are misguided
----ruled by shallow prejudice, not solid reason.
For our part, we thank God most heartily for the Latin derivatives in
our mother tongue. I know no modern language but English, so that I cannot
compare it to other tongues, but this much I can say: it would be difficult
to imagine a language more beautiful or more versatile than English as
it is, and much of its excellence, I hold, it derives from its Latin element.
Look and Live!
by Glenn Conjurske
My readers have lately been reminded that this is the gospel which was
preached to C. H. Spurgeon, on the day in which he found peace with God.
Many others have preached the same gospel, and doubtless many have been
converted under it. That many are converted by an antinomian gospel we
have never doubted. This, however, proves nothing of its truth, for where
one is converted, a dozen or a hundred are deceived. When I was an ungodly
lad in a Baptist church, I never heard the whole gospel. Nobody ever preached
repentance to me, yet I repented, for my own conscience preached repentance
to me every day. So do the consciences of other sinners, thus often supplying
the necessary truth which is omitted or denied by the preacher. There
is nothing mysterious in this.
That the message Look and live was blessed to the soul of
C. H. Spurgeon, to bring him to peace with God, is a fact of history.
But then it should be recalled that at the time when he heard it, he had
been living for months on such books as Baxter's Call and Alleine's Alarm,
which taught him unequivocally that he must forsake every sin to be saved.
He had long since done so, yet he found no peace with God. Repentance
he had, but not the faith of the gospel. Look and live, therefore,
just suited his case. But to preach the same message to the careless and
impenitent is the surest way to guarantee that they shall remain careless
and impenitent. To the penitent man who is earnestly seeking an entrance
into the kingdom of God, we might say with good effect, You have
nothing to do but step inside, but to preach such a message to the
man who has his back to the door, and is daily proceeding farther from
God in his pursuit of the pleasures of the far country, is the surest
way to confirm him in his ungodliness, and so to secure his damnation
we may deceive him into thinking himself saved.
Now as to the doctrine itself, that we have nothing to do but look
and live, we have not the slightest hesitation in pronouncing it
----a damning perversion of the saving Gospel of God. The
doctrine is based on a type ----that of the brazen serpent ----and
it stands directly against a great host of the explicit doctrinal statements
of the Bible. We have pointed out before in these pages that types are
often abused. A type is a picture, or illustration. Illustrations are
seldom perfect. There is usually something in the type which fails to
correspond to the doctrine, and something in the doctrine which cannot
be pictured by the type, so that though many of the types of Scripture
are very striking, they cannot be required to go on all fours, nor can
they be supposed to illustrate any more than some facet of the corresponding
doctrine. When a type is made too much of, it ceases to illustrate its
doctrine, and proceeds rather to overturn it.
For these reasons, one-sided theologians tend to be very selective in
their use of types. They emphasize those types which illustrate the particular
facet of the doctrine to which they are devoted themselves, while they
ignore the other types. And so it happens in the present day, when most
of the church is steeped in an extreme doctrine of grace, while it fears
and shuns everything which savors of human responsibility, that the type
of the brazen serpent is very popular, for it magnifies the grace of God
to the guilty, and contains very little of human responsibility. There
is nothing of purging the house of leaven, nothing even of applying the
blood to the door posts of the house, nothing of abiding within the house
in order to partake of the benefit of the shed blood, but merely look
and live. It is a rather telling indication of the state of modern
theology, that this type should be so loved, while the others are so ignored.
In the present paper I propose to do two things. First, to look at the
Bible's application of the type of the brazen serpent, and then to look
at the Bible's doctrine of look and live.
The type of the brazen serpent is applied in the Gospel of John. There
we read, And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even
so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should
not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15). We observe in
the first place that the Lord does not say, that whosoever looketh
to him, but speaks rather of believing in him. Even believing is
something more than looking. We are not so sure that every Israelite who
but saw the brazen serpent was healed. We suppose the Scripture implies
a purposeful looking, and perhaps even implies a look of faith. We will
not insist upon the latter, however. What we do insist upon is that the
Israelites were to literally look upon the serpent, while in the application
of the type it must be only figuratively that we look to the Lord
we cannot see him with our bodily eyes. Now the Lord interprets the figure,
by putting believe in the place of look. What
exactly is meant by believe has been debated for centuries,
but this much we may say with confidence, that the Lord certainly cannot
have meant to imply a mere belief, of a shallow or intellectual sort,
for that notion is overturned in the near context, both preceding and
following. But a couple of paragraphs earlier, at the end of John 2, we
read, Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast
day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and
needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.
He looked for something more than mere belief, and such a statement as
this, immediately preceding the Lord's application of the type, is certainly
sufficient to disallow those shallow and easy notions of faith which prevail
in the church today. Proceeding forward, to the end of John 3, we read,
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that
submitteth not to the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth
on him. The faith to which the Lord applies the type of the brazen
serpent is a faith which supposes repentance and submission. He certainly
looked for something more than mere belief.
My readers will of course perceive that I have altered the common translation
in quoting John 3:36. I have indeed, for though believeth
appears twice in the common version, there are two diverse words in the
original, and they are not mere synonyms. The Revised Version renders
the place, he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life,
and Darby, he that is not subject to the Son.
But I turn to other passages of Scripture, which explicitly preach salvation
by looking unto the Lord. And first, Zechariah 12:10-14. And I will
pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the
spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look unto me whom
they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his
only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness
for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem,
as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land
shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart,
and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their
wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart;
the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that
remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
Now the merest child may see that this looking unto him is not the glib
and easy thing which is commonly supposed by our modern evangelists. It
is accompanied with godly sorrow of the deepest sort
mourning, and that not the work of an hour or a day, but such as separates
all the families of the land, all domestic and conjugal activities ceasing,
while every man mourns his own sins. This ----though it is not so
stated here ----is certainly that godly sorrow which works repentance
unto salvation. This is that sorrow which works carefulness and clearing
of themselves from their former ways. And here is the plain Bible doctrine
of salvation by looking unto him.
Once more, and very explicitly, in Isaiah 45:22-25. Look unto me,
and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is
none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in
righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness
and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against
him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified,
and shall glory. Here is justification and salvation, by looking
unto the Lord, but it is perfectly plain that there is nothing of the
glib, easy modern gospel in it. Those who have been against the Lord shall
be ashamed. This is conviction of sin
----a thing absolutely necessary
to the salvation of a soul, and yet the very thing which is conspicuously
absent in much of modern evangelism. The great mourning of Zechariah 12
is passed by, and I have been present at gospel meetings, and seen sinners
walking the aisle to be saved, talking and laughing, obviously without
one iota of shame or godly sorrow.
But conviction will save no man. If sorrow does not work repentance, it
leaves the soul yet in its sins. But how speaks Isaiah? I have sworn
by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall
not return, That unto me every knee shall bow. This is submission
unreserved and unconditional surrender of the soul to God which all the
great evangelists of history have preached as the necessary condition
of salvation. Isaiah preached it also, and yet not Isaiah, but God, who
swore by himself that it must be so. Sinners have but two alternatives.
They may submit themselves to God now by their own choice, and so receive
his mercy and salvation, or be compelled to it when they face him on the
throne of judgement, when the day of mercy is past.
Here then is the plain meaning of Look unto me, and be ye saved.
Here is God's own exposition of the matter. We look to him with shame
for the past, and submission for the future. Anything less than this is
not the gospel of God, but the invention of man.
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Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
by the Editor
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Desires are nourished by delays.
Any delay in obtaining what we desire serves to feed and strengthen our
desire. This is one fact, and it is another fact that the stronger our
desire, the greater our enjoyment and satisfaction when that desire is
obtained. Delays in obtaining our desires, then, contribute directly to
our greater happiness in the end.
Now the time of delay is the proper sphere for all the operations of faith.
While we are deprived and denied, while the objects of our dearest desires
are withheld from us, we look to God for them, trust in him, wait patiently
upon him. Faith is the soul's response to the goodness of God, and faith
finds in the very delay the strongest proof of that goodness. Faith lays
hold of a God who reserves the best wine till last, who nourishes our
desires by delays, and so increases our capacity for enjoyment and happiness.
Such delays are food for faith.
Alas, unbelief views the matter otherwise. It can never see the goodness
of God, never reckons upon it, never believes in it. It always views God
as a hard master, depriving and denying us, withholding from us our dearest
desires, studying our unhappiness, determined to keep us back and hold
us down. It was with such a view of God that the devil inspired Eve in
the garden, and this is the invariable viewpoint of unbelief. We will
not go so far as to affirm that unbelief always holds God to be so hard
a master, but it always suspects or fears it.
The same delays, then, are food for both faith and unbelief. Unbelief
looks at that delay, and doubts the goodness of God, questioning whether
he ever intends to give us our desires at all. Faith looks at the same
delay, and sees the hand of God nourishing and strengthening our desires,
in order to give us the greater satisfaction in the end.
The long deferring of a good, says Bishop Hall, though
tedious, yet makes it the better when it comes, and surely it is
none of our business to fault the Almighty for making it better. To give
us the greater good in the end, the good must be deferred for a time,
and this is why faith and patience are always linked together
in the ways of God. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have
seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender
mercy. It is the end which the Lord has always in view, and all
those weary days and nights of pain and uncertainty are imposed upon Job
to increase his happiness in the end. In seeing the end of the Lord, we
see that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy, but
faith reckons him to be so when it cannot see the end. This is the proper
sphere of faith.
Now faith has but one word in its vocabulary. That word is better.
This is the key word of the great faith chapter of the Bible. Because
faith gives God his place as God, it reckons that the way of God is better
than the way of the devil, that holiness is better than sin, that the
reproach of Christ is better than the riches of Egypt, that suffering
with the people of God is better than the pleasures of sin. But mark,
an absolutely necessary part of the reckoning of faith is to reckon upon
the end. Faith must lose its bearings altogether if it once loses sight
of the end of the Lord. It is the end that makes the plight
of Lazarus better than the portion of the rich man. It is the recompense
of the reward which makes the path of suffering better than the
path of pleasure.
And faith, by the way, is the most reasonable thing on earth. It is universally
acknowledged that All's well that ends well, and it is these
three companion virtues, faith, patience, and self-denial, which always
look to the end. Unbelief, with its two bosom attendants, impatience and
self-indulgence, looks only to the present advantage or pleasure, regardless
of the future consequences, and so demonstrates itself to be as unreasonable
as faith is wise.
But our present theme lies in a narrower sphere than this. Faith not only
reckons the end to be better than the way, but better for the way. The
present suffering will make the future rest the sweeter. The present self-denial,
the present patience, while God sends us what we fear and abhor, and withholds
what we desire, will make the future fulfilment the greater. The present
delays nourish our desires, and so increase our capacity for pleasure
Hope deferred, the Bible says, maketh the heart sick:
but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. (Prov. 13:12).
A tree of life! An Isaac!
----or Laughter ----after
many weary years of pining and languishing in barrenness, weary years
of beholding the growing families of every other woman, while Sarah remained
childless herself. A tree of life! ----to put laughter in the heart,
a new smile on the lips, a new spring in the step, a new light in the
eyes, a new song in the soul. All this when the desire cometh.
But observe, this is when the desire cometh after long delay ----after
the weary heart has long been made sick with discouragements and disappointments ----after
all the desires have been sharpened and all the longings intensified by
hope long deferred.
Faith, I say, looks always to that end, and reckons always upon the coming
rest, the coming relief, the coming reward, the coming fulfilment, the
coming happiness. But faith does more. It sees not only the future end
of the Lord, but sees also his hand in the present, nourishing our
desires by long delays. Why should he not? Who will fault him for this?
Who would not rather be deprived for the present, that he might have the
greater pleasure in the future? This is the way of God, and it is the
direct reverse of the way of the devil. Satan gives us pleasant
entrances into his ways, and reserves the bitterness for the end. God
inures us to our worst at first, and sweetens our conclusion with pleasure.
God reserves the best wine till last. The devil gives the best wine first,
and only dregs at last. The devil caters to all that is worst in us
to our unbelief and lust and impatience and self-indulgence, freely giving
the best he has now, and reserving the pain and suffering for the future.
It is no goodness in the fiend which moves him thus to deal with men,
and yet by this means he gains the allegiance of the whole world. The
goodness all belongs to God, and it is his way to nourish our desires
by present delays, denying and depriving us for a time, that he might
give us better pleasure in the time to come. Faith waits patiently upon
the Lord. Unbelief will not wait for him, but grasps its desires without
him, or against him.
To nourish desires by delays was the first business of God with Adam,
as soon as he had created him. He set him to naming the creatures, that
Adam might see ten thousand times over that every quadruped on earth was
better provided for than himself. And Adam gave names to all cattle,
and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam
there was not found an help meet for him. Observe, there was
not found. This teaches us that Adam was looking for a help meet
for himself. He felt a need, and no doubt felt it more and more deeply
as time progressed, and as he came nearer and nearer the end of his lengthy
task of naming the creatures. And when the operation was finished, and
there was not found any to meet his need, among all the creatures
upon the earth, how great must that need have appeared. The case was hopeless,
short of a miracle, for there was not a creature left, among which he
might prolong his search. Now it was certainly God's design to make Adam
thus feel his need. Ere ever the Lord set Adam to the task of naming the
creatures, he said, It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him an help meet for him. This was God's purpose. Instead,
however, of proceeding to make him that help, the Lord proceeds to bring
the multiplied thousands of beasts and birds to Adam, to see what he would
call them, in order that by this means he might more deeply feel his need.
The delay in executing his purpose was surely intended by God to nourish
Adam's desire, to give him the greater pleasure at last.
And so the Lord often deals with all his children. What man could ever
enjoy and appreciate the sight of his eyes, like the man born blind, who
lived forty years in the darkness ere ever he saw the light? What woman
could appreciate her normal feminine health like the woman who had an
issue of blood twelve years, and after spending all she had on physicians,
was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse? The health which every other
woman takes for granted, and nothing regards, was nothing less than a
tree of life to her. She had a qualification which other women do not
possess. Her previous sufferings, frequent disappointments, and hopes
long deferred gave her a capacity to relish the luxury of sound health,
which none could possess without having passed through the same course.
We read of a similar case in the life of Adoniram Judson. One evening
several persons at our house were repeating anecdotes of what different
men in different ages had regarded as the highest type of sensuous enjoyment;
that is, enjoyment derived from outward circumstances. 'Pooh!' said Mr.
Judson; 'these men were not qualified to judge. I know of a much higher
pleasure than that. What do you think of floating down the Irrawaddy,
on a cool, moonlight evening, with your wife by your side, and your baby
in your arms, free
----all free?' And here observe, that that
which Judson commends as the highest form of pleasure was in fact a very
ordinary thing. How many thousands of others have had just the same experience
as he here describes, and nothing regarded it ----thought it nothing
out of the ordinary, much less a supreme luxury? But Judson continues,
But you cannot understand it, either; it needs a twenty-one month's
qualification; and I can never regret my twenty-one months of misery,
when I recall that one delicious thrill. I think I have had a better appreciation
of what heaven may be ever since. The twenty-one month qualification
of which he speaks is the time that he spent in a miserable Burman prison.
But some will be ready to affirm that Judson's qualification was very
dear bought. How well we know it!
----for we ourselves have languished
with unfulfilled longings for many years also. We have been deprived and
afflicted also. Our hopes have been deferred and our heart made sick also.
This is doubtless a dear price, but that capacity for enjoyment is to
be had in no other way. We never know the worth of water till the
well is dry, nor the value of our sight till it fails, and the Lord
must often teach us to value and appreciate what we have by taking it
from us. But sometimes we learn the lesson in advance, by being long deprived
of the thing ere ever we taste of it. The desire of Abraham and Sarah
for a son was sharpened by long delay, and here the Lord delayed till
the case was hopeless. So he did also when he was told that his friend
Lazarus was sick. He did not rush to the rescue. No, but When he
had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same
place where he was. This, with the time required for the messenger
to bring the message, and his own time for travelling, sufficed to make
the case absolutely hopeless. By this time he stinketh, for he hath
been dead four days. Yet we may be sure that the Lord delayed on
purpose to make the case humanly hopeless. In the case of Lazarus and
his two sisters, this was but a few days. In the case of Abraham and Sarah,
it was a quarter of a century. With what alacrity must Sarah have named
her son Laughter when it was born, for she had a capacity
for happiness in this birth which no young mother ever knew.
Benjamin Franklin Bourne, a ship's mate who was taken captive by the Patagonian
savages on his passage through the Straits of Magellan, relates an experience
identical in substance to that of Adoniram Judson. He was held captive
for ninety-seven days, during which he was subjected to continuous indignity
and suffering, and in which his life was always in jeopardy. He was at
length rescued by a tiny colony of Europeans, consisting of less than
a dozen men. Of his first evening among them he says, After supper
the boat was hauled up on the island. Pipes and tobacco were furnished,
and I passed in the society of my deliverers one of the happiest evenings
of my whole life. The change was so great, from the miserable and almost
hopeless existence I had so long lived, that my joy exceeded all bounds.
My heart overflowed with gratitude. Words could not then, and cannot now,
convey any adequate impression of my feelings,
----of the freedom
and joy that animated me, on being snatched from perils, privations and
enemies, and placed, as in a moment, in security, in plenty, and in the
society of friends. It seemed like a dream, the change was so sudden and
And yet I observe that most anyone else, placed in the same circumstances,
would likely have thought themselves miserable. He was yet thousands of
miles from his wife and child, stranded on an island with a dozen men,
with thousands of Indians across a narrow channel, miffed by his escape,
and likely to invade and attack. Had he entered into such a situation
direct from his home in America, he would doubtless have regarded it as
a great hardship, but coming there from a captivity among the savages,
he felt it to be the greatest of luxuries. He speaks further: The
little cottage was warm; my couch was the perfection of comfort, in contrast
with that which had been my lot for ninety-seven wretched nights. Above
all, for the first time in so many weeks, I could lie down without fear
of treachery and violence. I was secure from savages. This indeed was
luxury. I slept soundly, vying in the profundity of slumber with the immortal
seven, till late in the morning. Daylight at length had dispossessed the
darkness of every part of the interior, and I awoke. It was no dream.
I was indeed free. Rude but unmistakable evidences of civilization surrounded
me. The adventures of the preceding day flashed vividly on my hitherto
----the suspense, the struggle, the seasonable rescue,
the rejoicing welcome, the spontaneous and subduing kindnesses, ----and
a warm gush of tender and grateful emotion from my inmost soul thrilled
and suffused my whole being. While these emotions were subsiding from
the fervor of their first impulse, and the mind was gliding away into
a delicious and confused revery, wherein all manner of delight seemed
to encircle me as with an atmosphere, in whose genial glow all past suffering
existed only for the heightening of present enjoyment, the trap-door overhead
was lifted, and my generous friends dropped down with a hearty salutation.
I sprang from my couch, as good as new, and younger than ever.
To this eloquent description we need add nothing. We only call the reader's
attention to his feeling that all past suffering existed only for
the heightening of present enjoyment, and proceed to ask, If men
may feel this by experience when the suffering is over, why may we not
reckon it by faith while the suffering endures? This is in fact the viewpoint
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.