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Vol. 10, No. 9
Sept., 2001


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 religion----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 habitat----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----for 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 life.

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----and 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----even on “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----230 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 man dominion.

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”----have 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----and 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----we 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----for 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 Christian----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 generations?

We do not speak to those who believe nothing of the Bible or God or eternity----whom 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----the 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----its 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 too much.

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----though 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 false----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----for 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----a great 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----that 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.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor

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 and happiness.

“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----panders 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 so total.”

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 clouded mind,----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 of faith.

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