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Vol. 1, No. 7
July., 1992

The Real Superiority of the King James Version

by Glenn Conjurske

For more than three centuries the sane and sound and spiritual of every persuasion have agreed in one point. They have agreed in ascribing real excellency to the King James Version, without ever dreaming of ascribing perfection to it. Thus C. H. Spurgeon speaks of “our Authorized Version, which will never be bettered, as I judge, till Christ shall come.”1 Yet Spurgeon here undoubtedly used the term “bettered” in the sense of surpassed or excelled, for he certainly believed that the version itself could be made better, and he elsewhere very strongly pleaded for a revision of it. John Wesley says, “I really believe our English translation, with all its faults, is the best translation of the Bible now in the world.”2 Wesley not only acknowledged “all its faults,” but himself published a revision of it as the basis of his Explanatory Notes.

In the present generation, however, we have seen a mass exodus from this sane and sound position. The departure has taken place in both directions, some abandoning the King James Version altogether, and generally despising it, and others (as a reaction against this) clinging the closer to the old version, denying “all its faults,” and exalting it to the place of perfection. Both parties have some facts on their side, but neither of them have sufficient facts to justify the position which they take, or warrant the conclusions which they draw. Yet draw them they will, for prejudice has a good deal more to do with both positions than sound judgement has. In these two extremes much of the evangelical church of the present day has become polarized, and each side, by its prejudice or arrogance, is doing its best to drive the other side yet further from the middle ground of truth and sanity. I do not intend to answer both sides in this article, but neither do I wish to elate one side while I answer the other. I wish both sides to understand that I stand on the same solid ground occupied by Wesley and Spurgeon, and almost everybody else before the advent of our own shallow generation.

It is my settled judgement that the King James Version is superior to every English version which preceded it, and to every English version which has followed it. I say “my settled judgement,” for that is exactly what it is. This is not with me a doctrine, or a superstition, which will not bear the light of facts----as are the beliefs of many in our day who exalt the King James Version to the place of perfection----but a judgement, based upon facts and knowledge.

The King James Version was not very well received when it was first published. The people were then as much devoted to the Geneva Bible as most of the soundest Christians now are to the King James Version. They wanted no new version, and opposed it when it came. It came to them from the corrupt Church of England----and certainly not from the Puritans, by the way, as the fantasies of modern tracts and comic books would have it, for the preface to the King James Version speaks of the Puritans in the third person, and in no very respectable terms, either. King James himself, who had set the project on foot and overseen its workings, was ungodly and corrupt, and his name was not very likely to lend confidence to a Bible. But with all of this against it, the King James Bible gradually won its way, by the sole virtue of its superiority, to a place of solitary ascendency which it retained undisputed for the space of three centuries.

It gained that place and held it for three centuries on the basis of the sound judgement of men who were capable of judging. But a different thing has happened in our generation. New versions of the Bible appear, and before the ink is dry on the paper the multitudes stand gaping as cows before a new gate, or children at a three-ring circus. The new versions are received without judgement, by those who have no capacity to judge. They are received not because they possess any superior merit, but merely because they are new and different, by an age which is crazed for everything “new” and “contemporary.” The fact is, the modern soft, shallow, lazy, lukewarm, game-playing, television-watching church has no more capacity to judge of a superior version than it has to produce one, and when its manna is replaced with sawdust, it not only receives the sawdust, but praises it as a great improvement over the manna.

It is an easy enough thing for dabblers in Greek to point out places where the modern versions correct inaccuracies of the old version. But observe, there are plenty of places also where the changes go the other way----plenty of places where the old version is more accurate----and above all, more faithful----than the new ones. How is it that these dabblers never find these places? They have no eye for them. With them it is a foregone conclusion that the new is better. But waive that, and suppose that in small points of accuracy the changes are all in favor of the new versions. Still I contend for the superiority of the old, for there is something more important in a Bible than small points of accuracy, and in that more important thing the old version so far exceeds the new that it must yet hold its place of superiority, though the new versions could be shown to be all improvement in small details.

The ATMOSPHERE of the old version is superior. The atmosphere of the old version is spiritual. The atmosphere of the new versions (beginning with the Revised Version of 1881) is intellectual. The old version speaks to the heart. The new versions speak to the head. The old version is vigorous and forceful. The new versions are weak, tame, and insipid. The old version is natural. The new are pedantic. And there are evident reasons for this difference in atmosphere. The difference lies in the men who produced the versions, and in the times which produced the versions. The old version owes its spirit to the Reformers----first of all to the exiled, hunted, and persecuted William Tyndale, and to his companions in tribulation, Myles Coverdale and John Rogers. The new versions owe their spirit to modern evangelicalism, which is immersed in softness, compromise, lukewarmness, and proud and shallow intellectualism. And as is the church which produced the modern versions, so is the church which uses them----else they would not be used at all. And for this cause I very much fear that those who most need the message of this article will have no capacity to understand it. Yet I venture to proceed.

William Tyndale's biographer, after quoting from Tyndale's preface to his Pentateuch, says, “...these noble words of his Preface will, perhaps, serve to explain to the thoughtful reader what still seems mysterious and incredible to some minds, the continued prevalence, namely, in our Authorised Version of the spirit and the language of the first translator, in spite of the vast advance in verbal knowledge since his days. No translation, the work of a mere verbal scholar, has ever attained a permanent existence in literature; if words are to live, they must come living from the heart of him that writes them; and it is because the words of Scripture had been so incorporated with the spiritual life of Tyndale as to have become in a manner the very utterances of his own soul, that they have maintained their hold over the hearts of his countrymen, when the labours of later scholars more learned in the minutiæ of grammatical lore have been consigned to oblivion.”3

This is the very truth, though alas, our lot has fallen in the midst of a generation which cannot tell the difference between the two.

A similar testimony comes from an unknown author, cited by James H. Brookes in an article on the Revised Version: “Whatever may be the opinion of some, the public has long since weighed the Revised Version in the balances and found it wanting. They may not have said that `the old is better,' but they have done more. They have turned away from the new with a conviction that it could be no substitute for that which still forms the moral and spiritual backbone of the English people. How is this to be accounted for? It seems to us one of the most marvelous revelations of the power of character. The Authorized Version is the outcome of faith and zeal that have never been excelled. Every sentence and every word of Tyndale's translation were steeped in prayer. They came forth from a soul that gathered up all its energies with Samson-like spirit and devotion, and devoted them to this one task of making the English people know the Word of God. The Revisers cannot be said to have been baptized in the same spirit or to have been overwhelmed by any such self-devotion. The spirit by which they have been actuated is entirely literary. The martyr may lead us into the temple of God and help us to worship there, but the dilettanti's services on such an occasion and for such a purpose are somewhat of an impertinence.”4

The dabblers and dilettanti have sense enough to recognize the faults and flaws of the old version, but they have not wisdom enough to correct them, though they have confidence enough to think that they have. It is an easy enough thing to spot a blemish----a wart or mole or scar----on the face of your friend, but it is quite another thing to be able to remove it, without leaving your friend's face in a worse state than you found it in. It often requires a great deal more wisdom to remedy a fault than it does to detect it. Yet those who have the least ability often have the most confidence in themselves, and I believe this explains the existence of the modern versions. They are the fruit of the intellectual pride of modern evangelicalism----and their real incompetence is displayed on every page. The plain fact is this: whatever anyone may think of the need for a revision of the Bible, this is not the time to undertake it. The church of God is sunk to a very low level, and possesses neither the wisdom, nor the depth, nor the spirituality, nor the scholarship requisite to revise the English Bible. The same was already true a century ago, when the old Revised Version was undertaken, though that age was far above this in scholarship, if not in spirituality.

An old writer thus speaks of the old Revised Version: “The compilation of this version occupied more than a hundred of the most eminent English scholars nearly fifteen years; and such was the anticipated extent of the sale of the work that the quantity of paper ordered for the first edition was so enormous, that had the sheets been piled one upon another in reams as they left the mill, it was calculated that they would have formed a column ten times the height of St. Paul's Cathedral. Yet, within a few months of the issuing of that stupendous work, the great excitement which had heralded and accompanied its publication died down; and so cooled became the once glowing ardour of the booksellers who, under its influence, had been induced to make excessive purchases, that they were offering their surplus copies at less than half price----and offering them in vain; for, Englishmen, with their quick intuition and customary good sense, had realised the fact that the work was a colossal failure.

“They had long regarded their Bible as `the well of English undefiled,' and many of them, when speaking of the then forthcoming Revision of the Sacred Scriptures, seemed by their enthusiasm to believe that, under the mighty influence of these learned Doctors, a miracle would be wrought, as of old, and the water of this well would, as it were, be changed into wine.

“Was there ever so joyful an anticipation of a rich draught of delight so cruelly mocked as was this one by the discovery of the lamentable emptiness of the fiasco?”5

But how times have changed! Here are the sad facts: the old Revised Version was never received by the people, but now appear the “New” versions, very much worse than the old----more artificial, more capricious, less accurate, less spiritual, less English, and above all, less faithful,----and lo! the people accept them, and use them, and praise them. What can this be but an astonishing proof of the almost complete absence of depth and spirituality from modern evangelicalism? A century ago the church lacked indeed the ability to produce a better version of the Bible, but it had at any rate the capacity to recognize the superiority of the old one. Now even that capacity is gone in much of the church, and the shallow pedantry of the modern versions is accepted in place of the vigorous spirituality of the old one, and praised as an undoubted improvement. Alas.


David Otis Fuller and C. H. Spurgeon on the

King James Version

by Glenn Conjurske

David Otis Fuller is well known as one of the advocates of the modern doctrine of the inerrancy of the King James Version and the Textus Receptus, and his books on the subject have done their share to create the foment which now troubles the waters of Fundamentalism on this subject. Some years ago Mr. Fuller sent me a leaflet advertising himself and his “Which Bible?” society. On the back of this leaflet were printed several extracts concerning the Bible, from C. H. Spurgeon's “The Greatest Fight in the World.” His obvious purpose in this is to make out that Spurgeon held the same doctrine on the subject which Fuller himself held.

Let us examine this. The beginning of his quotations from Spurgeon runs thus: “It is sadly common among ministers to add a word or subtract a word from the passage, or in some way debase the language of sacred writ....Our reverence for the Great Author of Scripture should forbid all mauling of His Words.

“No alteration of Scripture can by any possibility be an improvement. Today it is still the self-same mighty Word of God that it was in the hands of our Lord Jesus....”

Mr. Fuller's obvious purpose is to apply Spurgeon's words to those who purposely alter the translation of the Bible, with a view to improving it. All who know Spurgeon, however, must know very well that Spurgeon meant no such thing, for Spurgeon certainly did not believe any such thing. To prove this we need only quote the paragraph from which these sentences are taken----all but the last of them, that is, for that one I can find nowhere in the vicinity of the other three. Spurgeon is not speaking of those who alter the translation with a view to improving it, but to those who mangle their quotations of it through carelessness or ignorance. Here are the quoted words, in the context from which Mr. Fuller wrested them:

“I love to see how readily certain of our brethren turn up an appropriate passage, and then quote its fellow, and crown all with a third. They seem to know exactly the passage which strikes the nail on the head. They have their Bibles, not only in their hearts, but at their fingers' ends. This is a most valuable attainment for a minister. A good textuary is a good theologian. Certain others, whom I esteem for other things, are yet weak on this point, and seldom quote a text of Scripture correctly: indeed, their alterations jar on the ear of the Bible reader. It is sadly common among ministers to add a word or subtract a word from the passage, or in some way to debase the language of sacred writ. How often have I heard brethren speak about making `your calling and salvation' sure! Possibly they hardly enjoyed so much as we do the Calvinistic word `election', and therefore they allowed it to disappear. Others quote half a text, and so miss the meaning; nay, in some cases contradict it. Our reverence for the great Author of Scripture should forbid all mauling of his words. No alteration of Scripture can by any possibility be an improvement. Believers in verbal inspiration should be studiously careful to be verbally correct. The gentlemen who see errors in Scripture may think themselves competent to amend the language of the Lord of hosts; but we who believe God, and accept the very words he uses, may not make so presumptuous an attempt. Let us quote the words AS THEY STAND IN THE BEST POSSIBLE TRANSLATION, and it will be BETTER STILL if we know THE ORIGINAL, and can TELL IF OUR VERSION FAILS TO GIVE THE SENSE. How much mischief may arise out of an accidental alteration of the Word! Blessed are they who are in accord with the divine teaching, and receive its true meaning, as the Holy Ghost teaches them! Oh, that we might know the Spirit of Holy Scripture thoroughly, drinking it in, till we are saturated with it!”

Several things are perfectly plain in this quotation:

First, as said above, Spurgeon is not speaking against those who purposely amend the translation on the basis of the original, but of those who change the content of the Scriptures, by falling into “an accidental alteration,” due to their ignorance of the sacred volume.

Further, so far is Spurgeon from condemning the practice of correcting the translation from the original, that he actually explicitly recommends that, and in no uncertain terms, in the words which I have printed in small capitals. He does make an oblique reference to those (modernists) who purposely alter the content of the Bible, thinking themselves to know better than God, and in so doing he refers to their altering “the language of the Lord of hosts.” But reasonable men hardly need to be told that he cannot by these words refer to altering the language of the translation, for the purpose of more faithfully expressing the content of the original, for he recommends that in the very next sentence.

It is surely an ironic thing that Mr. Fuller, who always insists so much upon the FACTS, the FACTS, the FACTS, yet almost always writes on this subject in complete ignorance of the facts, and, as we have just demonstrated, suppresses the facts when they are right before his eyes, in the same paragraph from which he draws his quotations. Observe, however, we do not accuse him of intentional prevarication in thus misrepresenting Spurgeon. Rather, we suspect it to be a simple matter of being so blinded by prejudice that he could see only what he wanted to see, and as he wanted to see it.

But we are not finished with Spurgeon yet. By “our version,” which sometimes “fails to give the sense,” he of course means the King James Version. By “the original” he of course means the Hebrew and Greek, in which the Bible was originally written. That Spurgeon believed that the King James Version stood in need of correction is obvious enough from the brief quotation we have given, but he has much more to say on the subject elsewhere. In 1856 The English Bible by Mrs. H. C. Conant was published in New York. Spurgeon subsequently wrote a preface for it to recommend it to readers in England. His preface occupies thirteen pages, five of which are devoted to a plea for a revision of the King James Version. In this he uses some very strong language, and quotes some very strong language from others, some of which I cannot endorse, but I quote it to give Spurgeon's views, not my own. Let the great man speak for himself. I quote him at length, and of course without alteration or omission of jot or tittle:

I now introduce a topic, upon which many will differ. But I tremble not to announce my convictions, when I can do so with the full consent of my whole being. When I know that I am right, what matters it if I be almost alone? Better to be true and solitary, than to win unanimous approval by the concealment of decided opinions. Here then is the rock of offence by which I shall scandalize not a few. It was a holy thing to translate the Scriptures into the mother tongue; he that shall effect a thorough revision of the present translation will deserve as high a meed of honour as the first translators. Despite the outcry of reverend doctors against any attempt at revision, it ought to be done, and must be done. The present version is not to be despised, but no candid person can be blind to its faults. We have never heard that the British and Foreign Bible Society were charged with disparaging our received English version, but nevertheless its Board, in their thirty-fifth Annual Report, made the following declaration:----

“No version is perfect; no version is to be found, but what contains acknowledged error, and, in a great many instances, error that might be corrected. Your committee are persuaded, that if even the English authorized version were dealt with in the same manner as the Portuguese, an amount of individual mistranslations might be presented, which would with equal justice give rise to the question, Can such a version be called the Word of God? Errors are to be found in it, which the humblest scholar could not only point out, but correct. Errors, too, there are which obscure the sense in some important instances. Let the critical labours of Lowth, Horsley, Middleton, Blaney, and others, be considered, and the foregoing statement will be sustained.”

If these things be so, why does not that Society, with its gigantic power, at once attempt to correct, at least, those errors which humble scholars can detect. Multitudes of eminent divines and critics have borne their testimony to the faulty character of King James's version; there must therefore be some need for a little correction. But we will let a few of them speak for themselves.

Adam Clarke, D.D., in his Commentary on 2 Sam. chap. xii. says:----“Though I believe our translation to be by far the best in any language, ancient or modern; yet I am satisfied it stands much in need of revision.”

Daniel Waterland, D.D., a distinguished minister and scholar of the last century, says:----“Our last English version is undoubtedly capable of very great improvement.”2

Anthony Blackwall, A.M., author of a celebrated work on “The Sacred Classics Defended and Illustrated,” speaking of King James's version, makes the following remark:----“Innumerable instances might be given of faulty translation of the divine original.”3

Professor Symond, D.D., whom Dr. Newcome pronounces “a writer of real judgment and taste,” published a work in 1789, on “The Expediency of Revising the present English Version,” in which he says:----“Whoever examines our version in present use will find that it is ambiguous and incorrect, even in matters of highest importance.”

Robert Lowth, D.D., for some time Professor of Hebrew in the University of Oxford,----where he delivered a course of lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, which “placed him in the highest scale of eminence as a critic,”----and afterwards Bishop of London,----when he published a translation of Isaiah, which is alone sufficient to transmit his name to the latest posterity,”4 ----says of King James's version:----“As to style and language, it admits but of little improvement; but in respect of the sense and the accuracy of interpretation (translation), the improvements of which it is capable are great and numberless.”5

Rev. Richard Fuller, D.D., of Baltimore, Maryland, wrote the following in 1850:----“That our present English version has some defects is admitted on all hands, and by every denomination. That the Word of God ought to be purged of all defects in the translation which the people read,----this is also admitted.”6

Besides all this evidence, there is one fact which the most illiterate Christian can understand. Do not our pulpits perpetually resound with the words, “in the original it is so and so”? Do we not almost every Sabbath hear our ministers amend and correct the translation? Why is this? Why not make the translation true to the original? Why leave it to every pretender to a little Greek and Hebrew for ever to contradict the Bible of the English people? Surely it is not to be the special prerogative of the clergy to read God's Word in its purity, and for ever to condemn the unlearned to draw their spiritual nourishment from a book in which God's Word is marred by man's ignorance, sectarianism, and kingcraft.

If God's Word is worthy of all reverence, it is a crime of the highest magnitude to dilute it with error; and the sin is grievously increased, when the error is so apparent that the wayfaring man is aware of it. The cant and fudge which cries out against the least alteration of the old version of our forefathers, as if it were positive profanity, are nothing to me. I love God's Word better than I love King James' pendantic wisdom and foolish kingcraft.

We want God's own Book pure and unaltered. It is our firm belief that the present version is so good, that it will abundantly repay for revision. If it were utterly base, we would cry “Away with it;” but because it is to a great degree faithful, and never contrary to sound doctrine, we desire to see it yet further purified till it shall be as near perfection as a human translation of the Divine Book can possibly be brought. Do I love my friend any the less because I desire to brush away the dust which has accumulated upon his time-honoured portrait? No; it is because I love him, that I desire a correct likeness of him; and it is because I think that likeness a good one, that I desire to have every spot removed from it. And it is because I love the most Holy Word of God that I plead for a faithful translation; and from my very love to the English version, because in the main it is so, I desire for it that its blemishes should be removed, and its faults corrected.

It is of course an arduous labour to persuade men of this, although in the light of common sense the matter is plain enough. But there is a kind of Popery in our midst which makes us cling fast to our errors, and hinders the growth of thorough reformation: otherwise the Church would just ask the question, “Is this King James' Bible the nearest approach to the original?” The answer would be, “No; it is exceedingly good, but it has many glaring faults.” And the command would at once go forth,----“Then ye that have learning amend these errors; for, at any cost, the Church must have the pure Word of God.”

As for the present version, I think it a kind of treason to speak of rejecting it for another. It is almost miraculously good. Its noble Saxon, its forcible idioms, its sweet simplicity, its homely sentences, all commend it to the Englishman as a treasure to be preserved with scrupulous care. I ask, from very love of this best of translations, that its obsolete words, its manifest mistranslations and glaring indecencies, should be removed. In God's own word there are no vulgarities; why should they be retained in the Englishman's Bible? Why must we use expressions which are as foreign to our present language as the untranslated Hebrew? These are matters of revision upon which we should all be agreed; at least let these be done.----Spurgeon's preface to The English Bible, by Mrs. H. C. Conant; London: 1859, pp. vii-xii.


More on Easter and the English Bible

by Glenn Conjurske

In an endeavor to answer my article on “Easter in the English Bible” (April issue), someone has sent me some photocopied pages from something called The Answer Book. I have not yet been able to learn who is the author of this work, but it is someone who believes the King James Version to be “God's Authorized Bible,” and so, of course, without error. These pages contend that the Greek word pavsca is correctly translated “Easter” in Acts 12:4, though tacitly acknowledging that the same Greek word is correctly translated “passover” everywhere else in the New Testament. The article acknowledges that Easter was a pagan holiday, and proceeds to inform us that “Herod was referring to Easter in Acts 12:4.” To this I reply that Herod was not referring to anything at all in Acts 12:4. Luke is the speaker here, not Herod. The assertion that Herod speaks in Acts 12:4 is the first of a number of false statements in these pages. Luke is the speaker here, not Herod, and every honest Christian ought to be indignant at the shiftiness which pretends to make Herod the speaker. We could hope that this is a simple mistake, but it looks too much like a piece of carefully designed sophistry. It is an attempt to force a pagan content into the word pavsca, by putting the word into the mouth of a pagan king----and the article is careful to instruct us that Herod was “NOT a Jew,” but a pagan Roman, who kept Easter and worshipped the queen of heaven.

Whether this is true or not does not concern us. Whether Herod were pagan, Jew, or Turk is quite beside the point, and so is all of the author's reasoning about Herod's motives for waiting for one day or the other. About that we know nothing, nor do we need to. What we do know (for Luke tells us so), is that Herod had plans, for motives or reasons not mentioned, to kill Peter after pavsca----a word of Hebrew origin, denoting the Hebrew passover, as any reputable Greek lexicon will tell you. The article, of course, is perfectly silent concerning the meaning of the Greek word pavsca, except to make the false assertion that it is correctly translated “Easter” in one of its twenty-nine appearances. This makes just as much sense (and it is just as honest, by the way) as for me to inform my readers that the Greek word which means “priest,” and which is properly translated “priest” thirty-one times in the New Testament, is correctly translated “astrologer” in its thirty-second appearance. A cause which must stoop to such shifts cannot be the truth.

If I may offer a word of advice to those who hold the King James Version to be inspired and perfect, it is this: leave the Greek alone. You have no possible use for it. The plain fact is, there are places where the English disagrees with the Greek. There are places where the King James Version follows the Latin Vulgate instead of the Greek, as, for example, where it reads “fold” instead of “flock” in John 10:16. When you attempt in such places to uphold the English on the basis of the Greek, you only make yourself look foolish or dishonest, and betray the weakness of your cause.

And the real truth is, none of the reasons which this article gives for translating pavsca “Easter” in Acts 12:4 is the real reason anyway. The real and only reason why anyone believes that “Easter” is the correct rendering in Acts 12:4, is that “Easter” is the rendering of the King James Version. Their doctrine requires this of them. If for some reason the King James Version had happened to say “Christmas” here instead of “Easter,” then these men would go off in search of arguments to prove that pavsca means “Christmas.” They would find arguments for it, too, for where there's a will there's a way. (And “Christmas,” by the way, IS just as “correct” a translation of pavsca as “Easter” is.)

But this system involves its adherents in worse difficulties than they are aware of. If “Easter” is the real meaning in Acts 12:4, then the mistake is not in the English version, but in the Greek original----for the Greek without question says passover, not Easter. It is an ironic thing that those who labor so hard to establish the absolute authority of the English translation must do so by undermining the authority of the Greek original. But this is inevitable, so long as the translation and the original do not always agree. They have placed themselves in exactly the same position occupied by the Roman Catholic Church. The Romanists set aside the Greek original to maintain the authority of the Latin translation, and these men set aside the Greek original in order to establish the authority of the English translation. They may not all come to Peter Ruckman's bold impiety of correcting the Greek from the English, but still they undermine the authority of the original, for there is little practical difference between setting aside the proper words of the original, and setting aside the proper meaning of those words. And any who affirm that “Easter” is the correct translation in Acts 12:4 have certainly set aside the proper meaning of the word pavsca. This shift is of the same character as a thousand others by which people wrest the words of Scripture to make them conform to their own mistaken notions, but it is indeed ironic that those who arrogate to themselves the name of “Bible believers” have so little faith in the inspired words of God that they will wrest them and destroy them in order to try to conform them to the mistakes of an imperfect translation.

But the article proceeds to another argument. Acts 12:3 says, “Then were the days of unleavened bread.” This, we are told, proves conclusively that the passover was past already, for the passover fell on the fourteenth of April, while the days of unleavened bread did not begin until the fifteenth. Herod could not have been waiting for something which was already past. This argument is urged at great length, and with great forcefulness. It contains, however, one fatal flaw. It overlooks the fact that the entire period, including both the passover and the days of unleavened bread, was commonly referred to as “the passover.” Arndt and Gingrich's Greek lexicon tells us that in popular usage the two festivals (passover and unleavened bread) were merged together and treated as one. Thayer's lexicon defines pavsca as “the paschal festival, the feast of Passover, extending from the fourteenth to the twentieth day of the month”----that is, the day of Passover itself, and the whole week of unleavened bread, which immediately followed.

This (of course) the article is very careful to deny, saying, “The days of unleavened bread are NEVER referred to as the passover.” But this is simply not true. The fact is, the same man who wrote Acts 12:4 wrote also the book of Luke, and in Luke 22:1 he explicitly tells us, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the passover.” In Acts 12:3-4, the passover day was evidently past already. The feast of unleavened bread, lasting seven days, was in progress. That feast, according to the author of Acts 12:4, “is called the passover,” and when he therefore penned Acts 12:4, he called the feast of unleavened bread “the passover,” according to his own usage, and the common usage of the time. And this is an all-sufficient answer to The Answer Book.


“Pie in the Sky By and By”

by Glenn Conjurske

There are certain liberals, neo-evangelicals, and others who sit in the seat of the scornful, who like to cast sneers upon the preachers of the old-fashioned gospel. These old-fashioned folks, it seems, are “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good,” and the gospel which they preach is a gospel of “pie in the sky by and by,” which ignores the “real needs” of the human race. These scorners have discovered a better kind of gospel, whether it be the old social gospel of the liberals, or the modern gospel of self-indulgence of the evangelicals. Theirs is not a gospel of self-denial here, and eternal life and heaven hereafter, but a gospel of “living it up” on the earth----a gospel of “making the world a better place in which to live”----a gospel of “abundant life” here and now----a gospel of “a wonderful plan for your life,” with but little thought for eternity----a gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity in this life----a gospel which promises “the best of both worlds”----a gospel, to tell the real truth, of self-indulgence and worldliness.

I take my stand with the old gospel. Nor am I moved at all by the sneers of the scorners. It shall be my glory if I can but merit their reproaches, as it is my glory to preach the gospel of “pie in the sky by and by.” This is the real gospel of God, which was preached by Christ and his apostles, as well as by the great evangelists of history. God help me never to preach any other.

Our Lord Jesus Christ preached, “He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25). He preached, “Go, sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.” (Matt. 19:21). He preached, `Blessed [happy] be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Yea, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.” (Luke 6:20-23). Thus plainly did the Lord preach the loss and the lack of all things here, as the way to wealth and happiness there.

He was equally explicit on the other side: “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.” (Verses 24-25). Those who choose the “good time” here and now, are headed for a bad eternity. They have their laughter now, and they shall have their mourning and weeping then. Those who choose to have their pie here and now shall have no pie in the sky by and by. They have received their consolation, all they are ever going to get.

All of this indicates quite plainly that this gospel of abundant life and prosperity here and now is not only not the gospel of Christ, but is directly against the gospel of Christ. I have heard a modern evangelical preacher contend that even if there were no resurrection and no heaven, he would yet live just the same life he now lives. He indeed expects the best of everything hereafter, but meanwhile his kind of Christianity gives him the best of everything here, so that he would have no reason to change his course, though the dead rose not, and heaven did not exist.

Not so thought the apostle Paul. He preached a gospel that places all of our hopes in the resurrection, eternal life, and heaven----and makes us “of all men most miserable” if in this life only we have hope (I Cor. 15:19). Paul would certainly have changed his course if there were no pie in the sky by and by. “Why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” Why do we suffer all of this toil and poverty and reproach? If the dead rise not, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (Verses 30,32). Thus Paul agreed with the modern evangelical in one point. If there were no heaven, no resurrection, and no eternal life, Paul would adopt the same kind of life that the modern evangelical has adopted already. But there remains one great difference between Paul and the evangelical: Paul never dreamed that he could have the best of this world, and heaven too. He preached the same gospel which the Lord Jesus Christ preached in the passages quoted above, that you must choose whether you shall have your good things here or there.

Paul powerfully rebuked the Corinthians (I Cor. 4:8ff.) for being rich and full now, for reigning like kings now, while the apostles of Christ, who preached the true gospel of God, were last in this world, “the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things.” (Verses 9,13). He beseeches them (vs. 16) to be followers of him. He sends Timothy (vs. 17) to put them in remembrance of his ways. If that does not avail, he will come himself, and use the rod to correct them (vss. 18-21). The gospel which Paul preached was, “If we suffer [present tense], we shall also reign [future tense] with him.” (II Tim. 2:12). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; IF so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom. 8:17-18). The glory to come, the things above, the hope set before us, the crown of life, the resurrection from the dead, this was where Paul's hope was fixed, and this is the end of the faith which he preached. As for this life, he expected nothing but poverty, reproach, toil, and persecution.

The apostle Peter preached the same gospel, fixing men's eyes upon the “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (I Pet. 1:4), “the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (vs. 13). For the present, he speaks of little but trials and sufferings. Suffering, indeed, seems to be the theme of his first epistle. “Think it not strange,” he says, “concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Pet. 4:12-13). Thus Peter, with his Lord and the other apostles, fixed men's hearts not upon the fleeting joys of earth, but upon the joy of the Lord into which we shall enter in the resurrection.

But has the gospel nothing to offer us here and now? To be sure it does. “God wants us to be happy” is one of the favorite arguments of the adherents of the modern gospel of self-indulgence. The real gospel of God has no quarrel with that. “Happy are ye,” writes Peter, in the same passage in which he speaks of partaking of the sufferings of Christ; but that happiness has nothing to do with fun and games, or worldly wealth. It is “Happy are ye, for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you,” and all of this “IF ye be reproached for the name of Christ.” (I Pet. 4:14). Peter speaks also of greatly rejoicing, even with “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” but this is though now ye are “in heaviness through manifold temptations,” or trials. (I Pet. 1:6,8).

Paul speaks in exactly the same vein. “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” This is something for this life. This is now: “we are.” But it is “in all these things.” In all what things? “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, IN ALL THESE THINGS we are more than conquerors.” (Rom. 8:35-37).

Thus the true gospel gives to us fulness of spiritual blessings, along with the prospect of complete happiness and glory hereafter, in the midst of present poverty, persecution, reproach, and hardships.

But does not the true gospel also offer us something of the things of this life? Paul utterly repudiates the prosperity gospel of those who suppose that “gain is godliness,” calling them “men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,” and commanding us, “from such withdraw thyself.” (I Tim. 6:5). He goes on to exhort us, “having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.” (Verse 8). Yet he says also that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (I Tim. 4:8). What promise has godliness for the life that now is? “Seek ye first the kingdom of God”----that is godliness, and here is the promise----“and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33). All what things? “What ye shall eat,” and “what ye shall drink,” and “wherewithal ye shall be clothed.” (Verse 31). In other words, food and raiment, the very two things with which Paul exhorts us to be content. The promise, then, which the gospel gives us for this life is a promise of the necessities of life, and nothing more than this. And this promise closely follows the explicit command of Christ not to lay up treasures upon the earth.

Elsewhere the Lord gives another promise to godliness: “There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, WITH PERSECUTIONS, and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30). This is a promise of the necessities of life in the fellowship of the saints. The persecutions which drive the servants of God from one city to another (Matt. 10:23) necessitate this hundredfold recompense of what they have left for Christ's sake and the gospel's----houses and lands and brothers and sisters among the saints of God wherever they go. But this promises no possession of such things, but only the temporary use of them according to our need----and all of this with persecutions, while our hearts and our hopes are set upon the real substance of the true gospel, eternal life in the world to come. This is the true gospel of the word of God----the gospel of love and joy and peace and victory in the midst of poverty and persecution here and now, and “pie in the sky by and by.”


“Not to Leave the Other Undone”

by Glenn Conjurske

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Matt. 23:23).

It would seem that every time anybody takes a stand for any small or outward things, he is immediately met with the charge of being legalistic, of “majoring on minors,” of making a great deal out of little things, and so forth. It seems to be a foregone conclusion with many evangelical Christians that if any thing is conceived to be a little thing, we are free to do as we please about it.

What, then? Has God no will about little things? Has God never expressed his will about little things? And if he has, who gave to any man the authority to ignore it, or to set it aside? And what sort of Christians are they who hold themselves free to do their own will in any matter which they please to call a little thing, or an outward thing?

Some, indeed, who make such objections against standing for little things, will appeal to Scripture to support their position. They will even appeal to the text of this article, pointing out what a scathing rebuke the Lord administered to the Pharisees for being so concerned about little things. But in this they are greatly mistaken. They have evidently forced upon the text the meaning which they wish it to have, rather than examining the text to see what it says. The Lord never said one word against carefulness about little things, but only rebuked the hypocrisy of being so scrupulously careful about all of the little and outward things, while they cared nothing at all for the weightier, inward matters of the law. He was dealing with hypocrites of the deepest dye, who would pay thirty pieces of silver to bring about the murder of the Son of God, and then scruple to put those same thirty pieces of silver into the treasury, because they were the price of blood. They were careful about every little, outward thing, while they trampled the weightier matters of the law under their feet. But if you think that the Lord here admonished them to reverse themselves----to take care of the weightier matters, and discard the little things----your thinking is very far astray. What the Lord actually says is, “These”----the weightier matters----“ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” “The other” refers of course to the little things

----to the tithing of mint and anise and cummin. They had no more right to leave the little things undone than they had to omit the weightier matters, and the Lord never so much as hinted that they had, but plainly and explicitly states the contrary.

We will grant that some of the things for which we stand are little and outward things, but in every one of them there is a deeper issue involved. That issue is submission to the authority of the Scriptures. That issue is doing the will of God. If God has expressed his will in the Bible on any particular matter, by specific precept or general principle, then I am no more free to do my own will in that matter than I am to commit adultery or murder. We are all of us bound to do the will of God in every matter of which he has spoken, whether it happens to be a little matter or a big one.

But it seems that many who call themselves Christians, who boast even of being Fundamentalists, have but little idea of submitting to the authority of God as such. To reason they will submit, but not to bare authority. They are just like an insubordinate child, who must ask “Why?” every time his parents tell him to do something. They will do the will of God where they can understand the reason for it, but when they can see no reason for a command or prohibition, they excuse themselves, or argue against it. Thus they exalt their own will and reason above the authority of God.

But if we are servants of God, if we call the Savior, “Lord, Lord,” our obvious business is to obey his injunctions, whether we understand them or not. It is not likely that any of us have the wisdom to understand every command and prohibition of God. God forbids a man to approach unto a woman put apart for her uncleanness, and lists this among the abominations for which the Canaanites were to be cast out (Lev. 18:19-24). This evidently teaches us that the reason of it should be obvious, since the Canaanites knew nothing of the law which Moses gave, and as far as we know had no revelation from God on the subject. Yet many in our day affirm that they can see no reason in such a prohibition. What then? Are we free to discard it? The Canaanites evidently weren't. Some men will profess that they can see no harm in fornication. Are they then free to dispense with the commandment of God?

But I must carry this point further. Suppose there are prohibitions in the Bible which I can see no reason for, such as the prohibition for a man to marry his brother's wife, or his father's brother's wife (Lev. 18:14,16). To those prohibitions I must submit, because they are the expressed will of God, whether I understand the reason for them or not. Am I free to ignore every command of God until I can see the reason of it? Suppose Adam and Eve could see no reason not to eat of the forbidden tree. They could certainly have contended that it was a very little thing merely to eat a piece of fruit. Were they then free? What if God has prohibited certain things for no other reason than to establish his authority over the human race----for no other reason than to test the sincerity of your submission to him----to try whether you will submit to his will when you can see no apparent reason for it?

But further still. In some cases my reason may actually be against the revealed will of God. My reason may contend very forcibly that those poor souls who are trapped in uncongenial and unsatisfying marriages, with all of the temptations which such a state subjects them to, would be far better off for time and eternity if they could amicably part company and go their separate ways. But God forbids it, and do I know better than God? God also forbids women to speak in the meetings of the church----says it is a shame for them to do so, even to ask a question. My reason contends otherwise. Some women are deep and spiritual, and evidently gifted of God, and can speak to profit and edification----and speak better than many men can. Why should they not speak in the church? Because God forbids it, and to that I must submit, whatever my own reason may think about it.

Some there are, you know, who can see no reason for baptism. Others see reasons against it. What then? God commands it: let man submit. But if we wish to speak about little things, what could better fit the description than baptism----a mere ritual, which costs nothing, and which can be done once for all in a few moments of time. Surely the matter of outward adornment with gold and silver and pearls and apparel is one of the weightier matters of the law in comparison with baptism! Is it not a very little thing to go once to the water for a few moments, in comparison to spending your time and money to feed your pride and vanity every day of your life? Surely the little thing is baptism. And yet the same people who lightly discard the commandments of God concerning outward adornment will make the little outward thing called baptism the grand test of Christian obedience! With that I have no quarrel. Baptism is a test of obedience. And so is the prohibition of outward adornment with jewelry and apparel. Indeed, it may be that the same pride and vanity which keep a woman in gold and silver and jewels (and glass and plastic and tinsel) will keep her out of the waters of baptism. And no matter which of the two you may think to be the little thing, the word of the Lord to you is, “This you ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

But observe: disobedience brings with it a bad conscience, and try as men will to smother and stifle and bury it, conscience continues to admonish, and the deep-down feeling that I am wrong is very difficult to shake off. Folks therefore who have a bad conscience, and yet are not willing to change their ways, must seek for means to excuse themselves, and to persuade their conscience that they are all right after all. And what better way to quiet a restless conscience than to persuade it from the Bible? Thus the folks who wish to dispense with obedience to some part of the Bible turn instinctively to the Bible itself to excuse themselves. The Bible, of course, will not lend itself to such a purpose, unless it is wrested from its real meaning, but the heart of man is perverse enough to wrest the Scriptures to its own destruction, so long as the flesh can be gratified, and its indulgences excused. Thus come into being false interpretations and false doctrines, which exist for the sole purpose of appeasing a violated conscience. Such stratagems are not usually very successful, however, for conscience (precious and marvellous thing that it is) is not easily satisfied, and usually continues to speak in spite of all efforts to drown it. The difficulty lies in the fact that the framers of such excuses are usually themselves unable to actually believe in those interpretations by which they wrest the Scriptures to excuse themselves, though they try hard to do so.

Nevertheless, after such false interpretations and doctrines have been taught in the church for several succeeding generations, and children have imbibed them as it were with their mothers' milk, and grown up hearing and believing them, it is no wonder if they at length succeed in the mission for which they exist, and bring people to the place where they can lightly discard the commandments of God, and feel no compunction of conscience for it. And this seems to be precisely where much of the evangelical church is today. People can live in entire disregard of the plain commands of God, and yet profess, “God hasn't convicted me about this.” But how do you expect God to convict you? Believe the Bible and you will be convicted enough. But if you hear not Peter and Paul, you will not be convinced though God send you a prophet or an angel from heaven.

But to be more specific: one of those false notions by which men endeavor to excuse their sin is that it doesn't make much difference what we do in little outward things, so long as our heart is right. “Judgement, mercy, and faith”: these are the things that matter to God, and these are matters of the heart. The Lord powerfully rebuked the Pharisees precisely for making clean the outside of the cup and the platter, while the inside remained full of corruption. It doesn't matter if I get baptized or not, as long as my heart is right. It doesn't matter how much a woman adorns herself with gold and silver and pearls and apparel, if her heart is right.

What this doctrine is really saying is that if my heart is right, it makes no difference whether I regard the commandments of God or not. But the plain fact of the matter is, if folks can live in disregard of the commandments and prohibitions of Scripture, it is full proof that their heart is NOT right. And as the notion (that outward things are of no consequence if the heart is right) is directly against the text of this article, “not to leave the other undone,” so it is also directly against the very text upon which its advocates seek to found it. The scripture says, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is inside the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matt. 23:25-26). The Lord speaks not one word against taking care of the little outward things, but only against the hypocrisy which does that only, and leaves the weightier matters undone. He rebukes the hypocrisy which strains out a gnat and swallows a camel, but without the slightest hint that we ought to swallow the gnat----but rather expressly the contrary.

The plain fact of the matter is, though you can clean up the outside of the cup and leave the inside full of corruption, you cannot clean up the inside without cleaning up the outside also. If the heart is right, the life will be right. I am not speaking of ignorance now. A man may be right in his heart and yet be ignorant of many things, though there can be but little excuse even for ignorance in those who hold the Bible in their hands and profess to live by it. But I do not speak of ignorance, but of that spirit which ignores and evades and explains away and makes void the commandments of God. A man whose heart is right with God is incapable of treating his commands in such a manner. “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. ... A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” (Matt. 12:33,35). “Out of the heart are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23). If the heart is right, the life is right. If the life is wrong, the heart is wrong. It really cannot be otherwise. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matt. 7:18).

And who gave to any man the authority to exclude little things from this plain doctrine? Nay, it will often be precisely the little things which are the truest test of a man's character and sincerity. Pride and respectability may exact the more important things from him, but the little things he can dispense with. And it is a certainty, according to the scripture quoted in the preceding paragraph, that the outward things are a true test of the state of the heart.

Hear the words on this subject of a man who had power with God and with man: “Little circumstances often discover the state of the heart.

“The individual that we find delinquent in small matters, we of course infer would be much more so in larger affairs, if circumstances were equally favourable.

“Where you find persons wearing little ornaments from vanity, set them down as rotten at heart. If they could, they would go all lengths in display, if they were not restrained by some other considerations than a regard to the authority of God and the honour of religion. You may see this every day in the streets. Men walking with their cloaks very carefully thrown over their shoulders, so as to show the velvet; and women with their feathers tossing in the air: it is astonishing how many ways there are in which these little things show their pride and rottenness of heart.

“You say these are little things. I know they are little things, and because they are little things, I mention them. It is because they are little things, that they show the character so clearly.”1

Most modern Christians (except where doctrinal bigotry prevails) honor Charles G. Finney as a man of God and a great evangelist----honor him because he is dead and buried. If he were alive and standing behind the pulpit in their church, preaching such things, they would leave it and find another, which was not so legalistic. They build the sepulchres of the dead prophets, but stone the living ones----though their message is one and the same. It is the same as the message of the Bible also, for that holy book says, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10). Not the little things only, but the least things, are the true test of your character.

J. C. Ryle writes on the text just quoted, “Our Lord here teaches us the great importance of strict faithfulness about `little things.' ... He would have us know that `little things' are the best test of character;----and that unfaithfulness about `little things' is the symptom of a bad state of the heart.”

Finney says elsewhere, “Objection. `No matter how we dress, if our hearts are right.'

“Your heart right! Then your heart may be right when your conduct is all wrong. Just as well might the profane swearer say, `No matter what words I speak, if my heart is right.' No, your heart is not right, unless your conduct is right. What is outward conduct, but the acting out of the heart? If your heart was right, you would not wish to follow the fashions of the world.”......

“Objection. `This is a small thing, and ought not to take up so much of a minister's time in the pulpit.

“This is an objection often heard from worldly professors. But the minister that fears God will not be deterred by it. He will pursue the subject, until such professing Christians are cut off from their conformity to the world, or cut off from the church.”

To conclude: the common notion that little things, and outward things, are unimportant is directly against the plain statements of Christ himself. Except in cases of honest ignorance, the notion only displays the bad state of the heart of the person who holds it. It indicates a heart determined to have its own way as far as it can. It evidences a heart determined to excuse itself from doing the will of God. We would not pretend to deny that some things are more important than others. Neither would we deny that the inward matters of the heart are more important than many outward things. Neither would we deny that there is a danger of making the less important things of more consequence than the more important----for the little, outward things may be done with little cost, while the heart is all wrong. Thus we may easily deceive ourselves into thinking we are godly, or spiritual, while all that is most important to godliness and spirituality is entirely neglected. We grant all of this. But while granting that some things are more important than others, yet we insist that nothing which God requires of us is unimportant. If it is unimportant to us, this only indicates the bad state of our hearts. It is surely not unimportant to God. It was for an apparently little thing (disorders at the Lord's table) that many were weak and sickly, and not a few slept----that is, not a few had died----at Corinth. (I Cor. 11:30). It was for an apparently little thing (failing to circumcise his son) that the Lord sought to slay Moses in the inn (Ex. 4:24-26). These were little things, outward things, mere rituals and ordinances, yet the most serious consequences followed delinquency in them. These serious judgements plainly teach us that however lightly we may treat the little things, God will not treat them so, and the plain command of Christ to us is, “These ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”


C. H. Mackintosh on Books and the Book of Books

(From Things New & Old, edited by C. H. Mackintosh, vol. XVIII, 1875, pp. 313-317.)



Ere closing our volume for the year 1875, we desire to offer you a few earnest words on a subject which we deem to be of commanding interest and importance; it is this: The divine sufficiency and supreme authority of holy Scripture; and the urgent need of submitting ourselves absolutely to its guidance in all things.

And, in thus stating our thesis, we would not have you to suppose, for a moment, that we undervalue human writings, in their proper place. Nothing is further from our thoughts. Indeed it would ill become us, as the conductors of a monthly magazine, to speak disparagingly of a branch of christian ministry so largely used of God in all ages of His church's history, and specially in this our own day.

No, beloved, we prize human writings more than we can attempt to say. We receive them as streams from the fountain head. And, further, we would add that we have rarely met any one who affected to despise christian writings, on the plea of reading nothing but the Bible, that was not crude, shallow, and contracted. We might just as well say that we would not listen to a brother speaking to us in the assembly, as refuse to read what God had given him to write, provided we had time to do so. How often has a book or tract been made a rich blessing to the soul, either in bringing one to Christ, or building up or helping on in Him! How often may we have read some passage of scripture and seen nothing in it until the Lord had used some paragraph in a human writing to unlock its treasures to our hearts! We are, none of us, self-sufficient. We are dependent one on another. We grow by that which every joint supplieth. We need all the “helps” which God has set in the body for our common profit and blessing.

But having said thus much to guard against misunderstanding, and to put human writings in their right place, we return to our special object in this brief address.

There is but one supreme and paramount authority, and that is the word of God. All human writings are interesting as references, valuable as aids, but they are worthless, yea mischievous as authority. Scripture is all-sufficient. We want absolutely nothing, in the way of guidance and authority, beyond what we possess in the sacred canon of scripture. No doubt, it is only by the Holy Ghost we can understand, appreciate, or be guided by scripture; and, moreover, God may use a human voice or a human pen to help us; but scripture is divinely sufficient. It can make a child wise unto salvation; and it can make a man perfect unto all good works. See 2 Timothy iii. 15-17.

Now, having such a guide, such an authority, what becomes us as Christians----as children of God and servants of Christ? Why, clearly, to submit ourselves absolutely and unreservedly to its teaching, in all things. We are bound, by every argument and every motive which can possibly sway the heart, to test everything in which we are engaged, or with which we stand associated, by the holy standard of the word of God; and, if we find aught, no matter what, which will not stand that test, to abandon it at once and for ever.

And it is precisely here that we feel there is such serious failure in the professing church. As a rule, we do not find the conscience under the immediate action and government of the word. Human opinions bear sway. Human creeds and confessions of faith govern the heart and form the religious character. Human traditions and habits of thought are allowed a formative influence over the soul. If it be merely a question of personal salvation, profit, or blessing, scripture will be listened to. People are glad and thankful to hear how they can be saved and blessed. Everything that bears upon the individual condition and destiny will meet a welcome.

But the moment it becomes a question of Christ's authority over us, in spirit, soul, and body; when the word of God is brought to bear upon our entire practical career, upon our personal habits, our domestic arrangements, our commercial pursuits, our religious associations, our ecclesiastical position, then, alas! it becomes apparent how completely the authority of holy scripture is virtually thrown overboard. In point of fact, the enemy seems to succeed as completely in robbing professing Christians of the real value, power, and authority of the word of God, as when, during that long and dreary period of the middle ages, it was wrapped in the shroud of a dead language, and buried in the dark cloisters of Rome. It is perfectly appalling, when one comes in contact with the actual condition of things amongst professing Christians, to observe the ignorance of scripture and the carelessness about it. Nor can any thoughtful person doubt but that the latter is the producing cause of the former. “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine.” But if the word of God be neglected and practically ignored, as an authority, need we marvel when we find people ignorant of its precious contents?

We have been much struck, of late, in our intercourse with christian professors, in noticing the little moral weight which scripture seems to possess. You will rarely meet with any one who is prepared to start with this one grand point, that the voice of the Holy Ghost in scripture is absolutely conclusive, that it admits of no appeal, that it closes all discussion. We speak not now of man's interpretation of scripture----of anything in which it can be said, “that is your opinion.” We speak only of the written word of God which we possess, and to which we are individually responsible to submit ourselves, in all things. God has put His word into our hands, and He has put His Spirit into our hearts, and by that Spirit we can understand the word; and we are solemnly bound to be guided and governed by that word, in all the details of our practical career.

It is this we feel imperatively called upon to press home upon the hearts and consciences of our readers, in this our closing address. We have been earnestly waiting upon the Lord for a message, as we feel bound to do at all times. Indeed our constant cry is, “Lord, when the magazine ceases to be Thy messenger, let it cease to be altogether. Let it never outlive its freshness and usefulness.” In looking then to Him for the very theme, we got this answer, “Press upon your readers, the sufficiency and authority of holy scripture; and the necessity of absolute subjection to it in all things.” This we have sought to do, according to our poor ability; and now we leave it with our readers to consider as before the Lord, their personal responsibility in this weighty matter. We would entreat them, as they love the Lord Jesus Christ, to examine, in the light of scripture, their entire position and path; and, by the grace of God, and for His glory, to abandon, at once and for ever, all that is not in perfect accordance with that holy standard. Thus shall their path be as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. Oh! may the true language of all our hearts be, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” God grant it, for Christ's sake.

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Torrey and Alexander

For many years past I have bought every title I could get my hands on by or about R. A. Torrey, and yet for all my diligent searching, there remain a few titles of his which I have never seen. Though his books are neither very old nor very scarce, they are not easy to find, for they sell fast in the used book stores. Torrey was the true successor of D. L. Moody, and in some things he was decidedly above Moody. He was a great evangelist, who preached to great crowds wherever he went, as Moody had done before him. He was also the doctrinal successor of Moody, emphasizing everywhere prayer, soul-winning, revival, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost; deliberately refusing to yield to the common practice of lecturing on prophecy and dispensationalism (though he believed in those things); and never being swept away by the tide of “easy believism” which was then engulfing the fundamental church (though I think he was somewhat influenced by it).

Torrey was primarily an evangelist, and published a number of volumes of evangelistic sermons, some of them preached to great crowds on his evangelistic tours, and some to the Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles, which for some years he pastored. Titles are: Revival Addresses (1903), Talks to Men (1904), Real Salvation and Whole-Hearted Service (1905), The Voice of God in the Present Hour (1917), The Gospel for Today (1922), How To Be Saved and How To Be Lost (1923), and Soul-Winning Sermons (1925).

He preached everywhere on the necessity of the baptism with the Holy Ghost as an enduement of power, and he wrote three books on the subject: a small, early work entitled The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, and two larger works entitled The Holy Spirit: Who He Is and What He Does, and The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Another early work along the same lines is How To Obtain the Fulness of Power. On this subject I believe he oversimplifies things, and lays down terms which are too mechanical.

Prayer was another of his favorite themes, and he wrote two books on it: a small one in 1900 called How To Pray, and a larger one in 1924 entitled The Power of Prayer & the Prayer of Power. Torrey tends to press human responsibility rather more than he does the heart of God. He was also apparently influenced (doubtless through his early education) by the hyperspiritual doctrines of Jonathan Edwards and the New England school of theology, and therefore condemns what he calls “selfish” praying, as Charles G. Finney also does. Nevertheless, these are good books.

Besides the “how to” books already mentioned, he wrote also How To Bring Men To Christ (a small but good book, which the preachers of the easy gospel of our times would have little use for); How To Work For Christ (a large book on methods----much of which I do not endorse----of Christian work, including preaching); and How To Promote and Conduct a Successful Revival (which he edited, and which contains articles and sermon outlines by others).

He wrote much in defense of the fundamentals of the faith, including The Fundamental Doctrines of the Christian Faith; Is the Bible the Inerrant Word of God?; The Divine Origin of the Bible; and Difficulties and Alleged Errors and Contradictions in the Bible. He was also an editor of the famous set The Fundamentals. Along the same lines he published two volumes of sermons entitled The Real Christ and The Christ of the Bible. Another, which I have never seen, is The God of the Bible.

Some miscellaneous titles are The Wondrous Joy of Soul-Winning, What the Bible Teaches (a large handbook on doctrine), How to Succeed in the Christian Life, a book of questions and answers entitled Practical and Perplexing Questions Answered, and Getting the Gold Out of the Word of God.

Though Torrey died in 1928, not until 1976 was a full biography of him published. It was written by Roger Martin (a son-in-law of John R. Rice), and is entitled R. A. Torrey. Its subtitle is “Apostle of Certainty,” which is very apt, though if I had written the book I would have said, “The Greatest of the Fundamentalists”----for such I believe Torrey to have been. The book is well researched and well documented, and in those departments leaves little to be desired, but we sense a lack of depth in the author.

Though the preceding is the only full biography, there are several others which contain much biographical information, as well as eye-witness accounts of his evangelistic work. There are two entitled Torrey and Alexander, both written at the time of his British campaigns at the beginning of this century, one by J. Kennedy Maclean, subtitled “The Story of Their Lives,” and another by George T. B. Davis (at that time a newspaper reporter, who covered their meetings nightly for nine months), subtitled “The Story of a World-Wide Revival.” That by Davis is the larger and fuller of the two. Maclean subsequently wrote Triumphant Evangelism: “The Three Years' Missions of Dr. Torrey and Mr. Alexander in Great Britain and Ireland.” This is a large and valuable book. I searched for it for years before I ever saw a copy. When I did find it (at Kregel's in Grand Rapids), I found two copies at once, with a high enough price tag----$17.50 for my copy. I bought them both, and gave one to a friend. All of these are well illustrated, especially Triumphant Evangelism, which contains twenty-four photographs.

The “Alexander” in the above books is Charles M. Alexander, who was “Torrey's Sankey”----that is, the song leader who travelled with him. He afterwards worked with J. Wilbur Chapman, and their Boston campaign of 1909 is detailed in Boston's Awakening, edited by Arcturus Z. Conrad, but Chapman's work is not to be compared to Torrey's. A full biography of Alexander was written by his widow (Helen C. Alexander) and J. Kennedy Maclean----a very large book, profusely illustrated. An earlier work (1907) by George T. B. Davis is entitled Twice Around the World with Alexander, and is also filled with photographs. A sketch of Alexander by Philip I. Roberts, entitled “Charlie” Alexander, was published at the time of his death (1920). A similar sketch of Torrey, entitled Reuben Archer Torrey, was written after Torrey's death (1928) by Robert Harkness. Harkness was converted in Torrey's campaign in Australia, and became his pianist for the remainder of his world tour.

Alexander was a student under Torrey at the Moody Bible Institute, and Torrey subsequently chose him to accompany him on his evangelistic tour. Alexander was sometimes facetiously called “Alexander the great,” but his greatness was of a different sort from Torrey's. Alexander was a man of exuberant personality and faith, but he is not to be compared to Torrey, who was a man of solid spiritual weight and depth, though he was too intellectual. By comparison, Alexander was light.

I am not able to say how many hymn books Alexander compiled, but he spent many thousands of pounds for copyrights. For gospel work he sought and used “the songs that do the business.” I have several of his hymn books, including a paperback Conference Hymnal with about a hundred songs, and Alexander's Revival Hymns (“As Used at Dr. Torrey's Meetings”), of which I have a nice autographed copy, once presented by Alexander to Marguerite Towner. A series entitled Alexander's Hymns extended to at least the fourth number. In company with Daniel B. Towner he edited Revival Hymns. Torrey also edited a couple of hymn books, a smaller one in 1909 called World Renowned Hymns, and, in company with George C. Stebbins, a larger one (undated) called The Greatest Hymns. I have culled some excellent hymns from both of these for my own hymn book.

Editorial Policies

Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts articles by other writers if they are judged profitable for scriptural instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own views are to be taken from his own writings.