Olde Paths &
Ancient Lndmrks

Christian Issues

Book Room

Tape Corner

Contact us


Vol. 1, No. 3
Mar., 1992

The Wheat & the Tares
by Glenn Conjurske

“Let both grow together until the harvest.” (Matt. 13:30). This is one of the most abused scriptures in the Bible, for it is often used to overthrow the plain scriptures which require discipline and purity in the Church----a subject with which the parable of the wheat and the tares has nothing to do. Its true scope lies in another direction altogether.

The disciples of Christ were expecting the Messiah to set up the kingdom of God on the earth. They were led to this expectation by numerous Old Testament prophecies. They were evidently mistaken as to the time of it, expecting it at the first coming of Christ, not understanding that he must first be killed, return to the Father, and come again to reign. This mistake was excusable, for though the Old Testament was clear enough concerning “the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow,” it was not so explicit about the time. The very prophets themselves, who wrote the prophecies, remained unenlightened about the time, and enquired and searched diligently into their own prophecies, “searching what or what manner of TIME the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify.” (I Pet. 1:11). The disciples of Christ were in the same ignorance. They thought that now that the Christ was come “the kingdom of God should immediately appear.” (Luke 19:11). The Lord corrected their error by speaking a parable in which he represents himself as going “into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return” (verse 12)----to return, obviously, to exercise the authority of that kingdom.

The character of that kingdom was well known from Old Testament prophecy, one of its most conspicuous features being the utter destruction, at its commencement, of all the ungodly. The Gentile kingdoms were to be broken to pieces and driven away as the chaff before the wind (Dan. 2:35). All that did wickedly were to be burned up as stubble, leaving them neither root nor branch (Mal. 4:1). These things were the legitimate expectations of the disciples of Christ, based solidly upon the prophecies of the Old Testament. Nor did the Lord himself ever speak a word to discourage those expectations. He only indicated that the time for their fulfillment had not yet come. He spoke the parable in Luke 19 to teach them that the kingdom of God was not to immediately appear----not till he had gone to the far country and returned. When he did return the expected destruction of the ungodly would surely take place, for the parable concludes with “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.” (Luke 19:27).

The parables in Matthew 13 were spoken to indicate what they were to expect in the mean time, while he himself had gone to the far country to receive the kingdom, but before he returned to establish it. They were not to expect the purging of the earth----yet. They were not to expect the destruction of the ungodly----yet. “Let both grow together until the harvest.” “The harvest is the end of the age” (vs. 39). Then, at the end of the age, “The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their Father.” (Verses 41-43). Meanwhile, “Let both grow together.”

But understand, there is no hint or thought here of letting both grow together in the church. “The field is THE WORLD.” So says the Lord's own interpretation of the parable (vs. 38). Yet it is not to be wondered at if those who baptize babies and belong to national churches, which in principle embrace the whole population of the country, and thus obliterate the distinction between the church and the world----it is not to be wondered at if such men find the Church in this parable.

Thus Martin Luther, the founder of such a national church says, “The Christian Church is as a field planted with good seed, but during the night comes the devil and secretly sows the tares. Hence the good seed and the tares will ever grow together in the Church; the good and the evil will intermingle; nor can this be prevented in this world. In the future world it will be otherwise; then will the good be separated from the wicked; for the Lord says, that at the harvest time His servants, the reapers, will perform this task according to His commands.

“We see therefore how this Gospel condemns the Donatists, Novations, Anabaptists, and other heretics, who zealously endeavored to establish a church free from all blemishes and composed of perfect saints.” This needs no comment, except to point out that Luther misrepresents the opposite position, making it appear untenable by stating it in too extreme a form, for who ever dreamed of composing any church on earth of perfect saints? Real saints is all that they actually sought----wheat rather than tares.

J. C. Ryle (a bishop in the national Church of England) speaks along the same lines, saying, “In the first place, this parable teaches us, that good and evil will always be found together in the professing Church, until the end of the world.

“The visible Church is set before us as a mixed body. It is a vast `field' in which `wheat and tares' grow side by side. We must expect to find believers and unbelievers, converted and unconverted, `the children of the kingdom, and the children of the wicked one,' all mingled together in every congregation of baptized people.”

Such statements are not only directly against the plain injunctions of the New Testament regarding church discipline: they are also quite wide of the mark in interpreting this parable. The field is not the church, but the world. To root up the tares is not to put them out of the church, but to put them out of the world. This is what the disciples expected the Lord to do when he established his kingdom. This is indeed exactly what the Lord will do when he does establish his kingdom. Moreover, this is what the Israelites of old were obliged to do in the administration of that local kingdom which was the type of the world-wide kingdom of Christ which is yet to come. Offenders were to be put to death. And it is perfectly clear that if “the field is the world,” to root up the tares must be to put them out of the world, which can only mean to put them to death. This has nothing to do with the godly discipline of the church. All of this is clear enough to those who know the difference between Israel and the church, and between the church and the world.

Thus Henry Varley: “This parable is constantly cited as though our Lord's words gave sanction to mixed and corrupt Church associations. The words of Christ have no reference whatever to the toleration of evil in Christian assemblies. The absence of effective discipline is directly contrary to the revealed will of our Lord. We are commanded to withdraw from those who walk disorderly (EPHES. V,11; I COR. V,9-13).

“The prohibition is directed against the rooting up of the tares until our Lord does it, by angelic agency, at the end of the age. We have no business to persecute our fellow men, be they godly or ungodly. The equivalent of the rooting up of the tares is not discipline but death. The rooting up is nothing less than violent persecution, unto death. Christ, until the close of this age, is the Saviour, not the destroyer of men's lives.”

John Wesley, always a clergyman in the Church of England, adopts a middle position, seeking to allow for keeping the unconverted in the church, while at the same time advocating discipline for scandalous offenders. Says he, “Darnel, in the Church, is properly outside Christians [that is, outward Christians], such as have the form of godliness without the power. Open sinners, such as have neither the form nor the power, are not so properly darnel as thistles and brambles; these ought to be rooted up without delay, and not suffered in the Christian community.” But this is error all over, and shows how easily a good man may go astray when trying to support a false position. He begins with “darnel [tares, that is] in the Church,” as do all the rest who fail to recognize that the field is the world. Next he introduces a third class into the parable, the thistles and brambles, of which the parable knows nothing. There are but two classes, in the parable, and in the world. Further, he assumes that it is permissible to remain in fellowship, in the Church, with outward Christians, who have the form of godliness without the power of it, whereas these are the very ones of whom Paul says, “from such turn away.” (II Tim. 3:5).

Wesley's position can be no better answered than by quoting from William Kelly, who says, “The tares are not for the present taken out of the field: there is not judgment of them. Does this mean that we are to have tares in the church? If the kingdom of heaven meant the church, there ought to be no discipline at all: you ought to allow uncleanness of flesh and spirit there, swearers, drunkards, adulterers, schismatics, heretics, antichrists, as much as the rest.” And this is the absolute truth of the matter, for God does not distinguish between clean and unclean tares, or between tares who have the form of godliness without the power, and tares who have neither the form nor the power. Tares are tares, and all of them are to be left to grow until the end of the age, and all of them will be destroyed then.

But it is not God's time to destroy them now. This is the day of grace. It is altogether out of character to think of cutting them off now, while the gospel is preached, and the Spirit strives with men, and we have a commission to win them to Christ. But the Spirit will not always strive. The present day of grace will expire, and then the ungodly will be destroyed, and we will take part with the Lord in executing the judgement. “Behold, the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all.” (Jude 14-15). “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (I Cor. 6:2). We shall indeed do so, but this is not the time for it. The day of judgement is yet to come. Therefore, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Let grace have its way in the day of grace, as judgement will have its way in the day of judgement. All of those stranglings and drownings and burnings at the stake, which reputed churches have perpetrated in order to rid the world of tares, have been altogether contrary to the spirit of the gospel, and they have uprooted a good deal more wheat than they have tares.

But note well: though the time has not yet come for judgement upon the world, the time is always present for judgement in the church. Observe how Paul speaks of these diverse judgements. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (I Cor. 6:2). The tense is future. But for the present, “For what have I to do to judge them that are without [outside the church]? Do ye not judge them that are within?” (I Cor 5:12). Here the subject is judging those who are in the church, and here the tense is present. There is no accident or mistake in this difference of tense. The two statements are only two verses apart, and Paul is speaking with the precision that always characterizes him, not to mention the Spirit of God.

We do judge them that are inside----in the church. This is a present and continuous responsibility. Paul reprimands the Corinthians for failing to do so. He commands them to do so. “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.” (Verse 7). The church not only can be kept pure, but must be. The leaven must be purged out. How is this to be done? “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (Verse 13). Thus we do judge them that are within the church.

Observe further, this judgement is entirely consistent with the spirit of grace which now reigns. The wicked person is to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (Verse 5). He is cut off from the church, but not from the mercy of God. Indeed, the very judgement is designed to be a means of mercy, to bring him to repentance and salvation. Not so the judgement upon the tares in the parable. The tares which are uprooted are deprived of life----cut off for good and all from mercy and hope and God and salvation. This will surely be done in its time, at the end of the age, but this is not its time. Therefore, “Let both grow together until the harvest.” Then the tares will be uprooted and gathered and burned.

Such is the true scope of the parable, and it is no excuse whatever for the mixing of good and evil in the church. Neither is it any excuse for the commingling or fellowship of the wheat and the tares in the world. The commandment of God still stands in all of its strength, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? . . . Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.” (II Cor. 6:14-16).

There is no excuse anywhere in the New Testament for the mingling and fellowship of the righteous and the wicked, whether in the church or in the world, for any reason whatever, whether religious, or political, or social, or civic, or personal. We have exactly the same responsibility to come out from among them as we have to put them away from among ourselves. Both are explicitly commanded in the Scriptures. The righteous and the wicked, the wheat and the tares, the church and the world, are as distinct and opposite as Christ and Belial. There is neither fellowship, nor communion, nor concord, nor part, nor agreement between them, and there is nothing in the parable of the wheat and the tares to imply the contrary. They are both to grow together in the same field, which is the world, till the wheat is ripe for glory and the tares are ripe for perdition. That is all, and anyone who makes anything more than this of the matter must do so at the expense of other scriptures which are too plain to be mistaken.


Self - Denial
by Glenn Conjurske

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:24-26).

Self-denial is the first principle of discipleship to Christ. “If any man will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF.” This is the first step, the one all-essential thing, without which you cannot walk one step with Christ, and without which he will not walk one step with you. Without this you cannot be his disciple, and he will not be your Saviour. It is perfectly plain that the issue in this passage is salvation. “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it.” “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

So John Wesley writes on this text: “None is forced; but if any will be a Christian, it must be on these terms.”

J. C. Ryle writes on a parallel passage: “We learn, for one thing, from these verses, the absolute necessity of self-denial, if we would be Christ's disciples, and be saved.”

What is this self-denial? To deny self means, in the general, to renounce and repudiate it, and in the specific, to deprive self, to say “No” to all of its lusts and cravings, to all of its dreams and ambitions----to its will in general. It is the opposite of self-pleasing, self-indulgence, self-gratification. Man departed from God originally by unholy ambition and self-indulgence, and if he is to return to God it must be in the way of self-denial. “They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24). Man departed from God in the first place by doing his own will instead of God's will, by going his own way instead of God's way. To return to God he must give up his own will and way----give them up entirely, and submit unconditionally to the will and way of God.

To deny self is to go against it. This is an absolute necessity, for the simple reason that our nature is contrary to God. The plain fact is, the human race loves sin. It is for this reason that few are saved. When God prepares the great gospel feast, and invites the human race to partake of it, they all with one consent begin to make excuse (Luke 14:18). Why is this? Because they have no interest in love and joy and peace and eternal life? No, but because, much as they may want those things, they want sin more. If they could have salvation and sin too, many would flock to accept it. Indeed, many do so, filling the churches whose preaching and doctrine allows them both sin and salvation. This includes many evangelical churches. Such people, however, are not saved, but deceived. God preaches no such salvation The salvation which he offers is salvation from sin, not salvation in sin, and this is precisely why self-denial must be the first condition of it.

Observe: Scripture does not require us to change ourselves (though it most certainly requires us to change our ways), but to deny ourselves. I have known sincere souls very much troubled on this point. Someone has preached to them that they must hate their sins in order to be saved----that unless they hate sin they have no true repentance----and yet try as they might they find themselves incapable of hating sin. They love sin. They desire it, crave it. Such is their nature, and they have no power to change it. They do have power, however, to deny it, to deprive it, to say “No” to it, and this is exactly what the gospel requires of them. The gospel does not require me to hate sin, but to put it away in spite of the fact that I love it, and desire to cling to it. This is self-denial.

This distinction is of the utmost importance. The gospel requires me to pluck out my right eye, and cut off my right hand, and cast them from me

----to totally and permanently renounce, in other words, even that which is best and dearest to me, if it is sin, or the occasion of sin. Who ever hated his right eye? That were impossible. Who ever hated his right hand? Another impossibility. To hate them you cannot; to renounce and forsake them you can. This is what it means to deny self----not to change its nature, but to deny it, not to eradicate its lusts and cravings, but to deny them. All of this is involved in the simple Bible doctrine of repentance from sin, and there is no salvation without it. The only alternative to plucking out the right eye and cutting off the right hand is to be “cast into hell.”

But the self-denial preached by Christ goes deeper than merely renouncing those things which are recognized as sins. A man must deny himself. He must not merely pluck off the evil fruit----nor merely lop off the branches----but lay the axe to the root of the tree. He must renounce self-will as such. This is perfectly plain in the context from which we have culled our text. The Lord had just informed the disciples that “he must go unto Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed.” Peter objected to this, and the Lord rebuked him for it. Then immediately follows our text, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Now to take up the cross can only mean one thing, namely, to bear it out to the place of execution “and be killed.” No cross was ever made for any other purpose, and no man ever took up his cross for any other purpose. The cross was not an ornament in those days, to hang from their ear lobes or mount on their church steeples, but an instrument of death. Neither did any man ever take up his cross merely to endure a little hardship or discomfort, but to die. This is the meaning of taking up the cross----nothing less than this, and nothing other than this.

The Lord therefore goes on to say, in the verse immediately following, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” To save your life is to shun the cross, to decline to take it up, to refuse to die.

The same is abundantly plain in the other scriptures where the Lord speaks of the terms of discipleship. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). Observe first, “hate” in this scripture cannot be taken in its literal sense. It cannot mean to bear malice, or ill will, or malignant feelings. I am not one to lightly set aside the literal sense of anything in the Bible. I believe there is but rarely any occasion to do so. And I believe that it is never right to do so unless there are clear and compelling reasons for it----reasons dictated by the nature of the things spoken of, by common sense, by universal human experience, by other scriptures, or by sound doctrine. There is room, of course, for a great deal of wresting of the Scriptures by means of such principles, where the mind is not spiritual or the eye is not single, but the principles themselves are both sound and necessary. What then are my clear and compelling reasons for declining to take “hate” here in its literal sense?

First of all, so far as it concerns father and mother, wife and children, and brothers and sisters, it ought to go without saying that the Lord can hardly have meant to hate them in the literal sense of the word, of ill will or malignant feelings towards them, for the thing is sinful in itself. Further, that kind of hate is not self-denial at all, but one of the most thorough forms of self-indulgence. And all who hate in that sense are explicitly excluded from the salvation of God. “He that hateth his brother is in darkness.” (I Jn. 2:11). “Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (I Jn. 3:10). “He that loveth not knoweth not God.” (I Jn. 4:8).

But further, whatever it is which a man is here required to do towards father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, he is required to do the self-same thing towards “his own life also.” And as it would be sinful to literally hate them, so it would be impossible for him to literally hate his own life. Every man does in fact love his own life supremely, and this love of self is so universal, so strong, and so proper, that God himself makes it the standard of our love to others, saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

The word “hate,” then, is to be taken here in a figurative sense. To hate father and mother, and my own life also, is not to feel ill towards them in my heart, but to renounce them by a choice of my will,----to set aside their desires and claims, in spite of the fact that I love them. This is self-denial.

But observe, though I believe that the Lord used the word “hate” in a figurative sense, I do not therefore believe that he meant nothing by it. “Hate” is perhaps the strongest word he could have chosen, and he assuredly used it advisedly. The renunciation of self and all that belongs to it must be complete and peremptory.

“He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:25). This is the self-denial which the gospel everywhere requires of men. It is the giving up of my life in this world, in toto, and in every particular. My plans and purposes, my projects and programs, my pride, my position, my possessions, my people, my pleasures, my pastimes----all must be set aside, all must be laid upon the altar, all must be nailed to the cross. This is where discipleship begins. This is “if any man will come after me” (Matt. 16:24). This is “if any man come to me.” (Luke 14:26). This is the bare minimum, without which “he cannot be my disciple.” This is the unconditional surrender of all that I am and all that I have to Christ. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33). This is the complete transfer of all authority and rights over myself to him.

Now observe, this denial of self must be complete in both the general and the particular. In the general: “his life” (Matt. 16:25)----“his life” (Mark 8:35)----“his life” (Luke 9:24)----“his own life also” (Luke 14:26)

----“his life in this world” (John 12:25). In the particular: “father and mother, wife and children, brethren and sisters” (Luke 14:26)----“all that he hath” (Luke 14:33). In the general, “the flesh”----in the particular, “the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24).

The flesh, of course, shrinks from this, and will spare itself if it can. Men will find a thousand ways to compromise with self, and so fall short of the complete self-denial which the gospel requires of them. Thus they will deceive themselves in order to spare themselves. That self-deception may take either of two forms----either to deny myself in the general, but not in the particular, or the reverse, to deny myself in the particular, but not in the general.

The first of these will prove to be a mere empty profession, a theoretical denial of self, while self is still indulged in the actual details of life----an imaginary hating of my life in this world, while the actual life that I live proves quite the contrary.

The other deception consists of actually denying myself in the details of life----and it may be in very many of them----without any unconditional surrender of myself to Christ, or any giving up of my whole will to God. A thousand things may be very properly given up, while one darling sin is yet hugged and caressed, or while self-will yet rules in the general direction of the life. This kind of self-denial may look better than the theoretical kind, but God will not be deceived by it, and the one will no more avail than the other in the day of judgement.

Such is the doctrine of self-denial preached by the Saviour of men. Who preaches such doctrine today? Alas, the Lord's own doctrine is usually ignored or denied, in order to maintain false notions of grace and faith. Those who do preach the Lord's own terms of discipleship usually preach them as something optional----as a sort of favor to be bestowed upon the Lord for having saved us, rather than as the very conditions of that salvation.

I have quoted already the statements of ancient men of God, who hold with me that such self-denial is necessary to be a Christian, and this indeed is obvious enough from the text of Scripture itself. The only way to find your life is to lose it. The only way to keep it unto life eternal is to hate it in this world. But I wish to go deeper, and insist that not only is this self-denial necessary to salvation, but in a real sense it is of the essence of salvation itself. The Son of man, we are told, came to seek and to save that which was lost. The fact is, we were really lost----really in a state with which the holy God could have no fellowship. The Son of man came to really save us----not merely to cancel our guilt while he left us in the same “lost” state he found us in----actually abhorrent to God's holy nature, and actually unwilling to embrace his ways, or serve him, or walk with him. The Son of man came to save us----to actually reclaim us from our lost condition, and actually restore us to a state in which God can own us again.

Now that state in which we were lost is described thus: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.” This was a state in which we had wrested the rightful authority over our being from the hand of God, and taken it into our own hands. This is indeed the essence of sin, and this is precisely what we must give up in order to be saved from our sin. True repentance is not merely giving up this sin or that, but giving up sin as such, and this means giving up our own way. It means giving up our own will. It means putting the authority over ourselves back into the hands of God, without stint or condition. He that refuses this is not saved at all, but is actually persisting in the very course which constituted him lost in the first place.


Richard Baxter on Self-Interest

Versus the Glory of God as Our End or Motive of Action

[Some have made objections to my article on self-interest, as though I brought some new and false doctrine to their ears, which derogates from the glory of God. Yet Richard Baxter, whom they all esteem, taught precisely the same things more than 300 years ago. I give the following extract from his Saints' Everlasting Rest. The general thrust of it agrees exactly with what I hold on the subject, and with what I published in my article. It should be pointed out that Baxter uses the term “end” to mean the goal which we seek, or the end at which we aim, which is virtually the same as to say, the motive upon which we act. I have added a few words in brackets to fill in Baxter's elipses, for the sake of simple readers. I have added emphasis by the use of SMALL CAPTIALS. The italics are Baxter's own. ----editor.]

But it is a great doubt with many, Whether the obtainment of this glory may be our end? Nay, [it is] concluded [by them], that it is mercenary; yea, that to make salvation the end of duty, is to be a legalist, and act under a covenant of works, whose tenor is, “Do this and live.” And many that think it may be our end, yet think it may not be our ultimate end; for that should be only the glory of God. I shall answer these particularly and briefly.

It is properly called mercenary, when we expect it as wages for work done; and so we may not make it our end. Otherwise it is only such a mercenariness as Christ commandeth. For consider what this end is; it is the fruition of God in Christ: and if seeking Christ be mercenary, I desire to be so mercenary.

It is not a note of a legalist neither. It hath been the ground of a multitude of late mistakes in divinity, to think that, Do this and live, is only the language of the covenant of works. It is true, in some sense it is; but in other not. The law of works only saith, Do this (that is, perfectly fulfil the whole law) and live (that is, for so doing): but the law of grace saith, Do this and live, too; that is, believe in Christ, seek Him, obey Him sincerely, as thy Lord and King; forsake all, suffer all things, and overcome, and by so doing, or in so doing, as the conditions which the Gospel propounds for salvation, you shall live. If you set up the abrogated duties of the law again, you are a legalist: if you set up the duties of the Gospel in Christ's stead, in whole or in part, you err still. Christ hath His place and work; duty hath its place and work too: set it up in its own place, and expect from it but its own part, and you go right; yea, more (how unsavoury soever the phrase may seem), you may, so far as this comes to, trust to your duty and works: that is, [trust them] for their own part: and many miscarry in expecting no more from them (as to pray, and to expect nothing the more) that is, from Christ, in a way of duty. For if duty have no share, why may we not trust Christ as well in a way of disobedience as [in a way of] duty? In a word, you must both use and trust duty in subordination to Christ, but neither use them nor trust them in co-ordination with Him. So that this derogates nothing from Christ; for He hath done, and will do all His work perfectly, and enableth His people to do theirs: yet He is not properly said to do it Himself. He believes not, repents not, &c., but worketh these in them: that is, enableth and exciteth them to do it. No man must look for more from duty than God hath laid upon it: and so much [as God hath laid upon it] we may and must [look for].

If I should quote all the Scriptures that plainly prove this, I should transcribe a great part of the Bible: I will bring none out of the Old Testament; for I know not whether their authority will here be acknowledged; but I desire the contrary minded, whose consciences are tender of abusing Scripture, and wresting it from the plain sense, to study what tolerable interpretation can be given of these following places, which will not prove that LIFE AND SALVATION MAY BE, YEA, MUST BE THE END OF DUTY. John v.39,40, “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.” Matt. xi.12, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Matt. vii.13, Luke xiii.24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” Phil. ii.12, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Rom. ii.7,10, “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and immortality, eternal life. Glory, honour, and peace to every man that worketh good,” &c. 1 Cor. ix.24. “So run that ye may obtain.” 2 Tim. ii.5, “ A man is not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” 2 Tim. ii.12, “If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him.” 1 Tim. vi.12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” 1 Tim. vi.18,19, “That they do good works, laying up a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Phil iii.l4, “If by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling,” &c. Rev. xxii.14, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and enter in by the gates into the city.” Matt. xxv., “Come ye blessed of my father, inherit,” &c., “for I was hungry, and ye,” &c. Matt. v., “Blessed are the pure in heart,” &c., “they that hunger and thirst,” &c. “Be glad and rejoice, for great is your reward in heaven.” Luke xi.28, “Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Yea, the escaping of hell is a right end of duty to a believer. Heb. iv.1, “Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” Luke xii.5, “Fear him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell; yea, (whatsoever others say) I say unto you, fear him.” 1 Cor. ix.27, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away.” Multitudes of Scripture and Scripture-arguments might be brought, but these may suffice to any that believe Scripture.

For those that think this rest may be our end, but not our ultimate end, that must be God's glory only: I will not gainsay them. Only let them consider, what God hath joined, man must not separate. The glorifying Himself and the saving of His people (as I judge) are not two decrees with God, but one decree, to glorify His mercy in their salvation; though we may say, that one is the end of the other: so I think they should be with us together intended: we should aim at the Glory of God (not alone considered, without our salvation, but) in our salvation. Therefore I know no warrant for putting such a question to ourselves, as some do, whether we could be content to be damned, so God were glorified. Christ hath put no such questions to us, nor bid us put such to ourselves. Christ had rather that men would enquire after their true willingness to be saved, than their willingness to be damned. Sure I am, CHRIST HIMSELF IS OFFERED TO FAITH IN TERMS FOR THE MOST PART RESPECTING THE WELFARE OF THE SINNER, MORE THAN HIS OWN ABSTRACTED GLORY. He would be received as a Saviour, Mediator, Redeemer, Reconciler, Intercessor, &c. And all the precepts of Scripture being backed with so many promises and threatenings, every one intended of God, as a motive to us, do imply as much. If any think they should be distinguished as two several ends, and God's glory preferred; so they separate them not asunder, I contend not. But I had rather make that high pitch which Gibieuf, and many others insist on, to be the mark at which we should all aim, than the mark by which every weak Christian should try himself.

In the definition, I call a Christian's happiness the end of his course, thereby meaning, as Paul (2 Tim. iv.7), the whole scope of his life. For SALVATION MAY, AND MUST BE OUR END; SO NOT ONLY THE END OF OUR FAITH (THOUGH THAT PRINCIPALLY), BUT OF ALL OUR ACTIONS; FOR, AS WHATSOEVER WE DO, MUST BE DONE TO THE GLORY OF GOD, whether eating, drinking, &c., SO MUST THEY ALL BE DONE TO OUR SALVATION.
----The Saints' Rest, chapter 2.


“The Only Rule of Faith and Practice”
by Glenn Conjurske

“The Bible, I say, the Bible only, is the religion of Protestants.” So wrote William Chillingworth in 1637, and since that day the expression has been quoted and gloried in by Protestants everywhere. It ought to be gloried in, if it is true. But is it true? Was it ever true? Or was it only an empty boast, like that of the ancient Jews?----“The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these!”----a claim which certainly ought to have been true, but which was overthrown by the practice of those who made it.

That the Bible only ought to be the religion of Christians is not likely to be doubted by many who actually are Christians. The principle is undoubtedly sound as far as it goes, though it is certainly not sufficient to state the whole truth. The Bible ought to be the rule not of the religion only, but of the life of Christians. Christianity is not merely a religion, but a way of life. The Bible does not refer to Christianity as “this religion,” but “this way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, etc.), and “this life” (Acts 5:20). And neither is this likely to be disputed. Almost all evangelical Christians acknowledge the Bible as their “only rule of faith and practice,” and most of them have embodied words to that effect in their creeds and doctrinal statements. And in this they are no doubt generally sincere. But alas, the “practice” gives the lie to the professed “rule.”

If the Bible only ever was the religion of Protestants, whence came clerical vestments and clerical titles, feasts and fasts and holydays, godfathers and godmothers, confirmation, wedding rings, crosses and bowings, liturgies and prayer books? Whether they came from paganism or popery, the world, the flesh, or the devil, it is clear enough they did not come from the Bible. Such sort of things the old English Puritans objected to, till at length they were driven out of the protestant Church of England. Many of them refused to take any position in that body in the first place, since such a position would require them to submit to things which they knew were unscriptural. William Chillingworth himself was such a one, refusing the position which was offered to him in the Church of England, because he could not in good conscience subscribe to its doctrinal articles, nor agree to use its prayer book.

But to come closer to home, if the Bible only is the religion of evangelical and fundamental Christians today, whence come the clerical titles of “Reverend” and “Doctor”? Whence come the observances of Christmas and Easter? Whence come games and contests and prizes, “sword drills” and “Bible quizzes.” Whencesoever they came, it was not from the Bible.

Yet I would not pretend to think that those who profess such a principle, and yet practice such things, are anything but sincere. The obvious contradiction between the profession and the practice does not necessarily stem from insincerity, but from ignorance----ignorance of the actual contents of the Bible, ignorance of the evil origin or the evil tendency of many of their practices, and above all, ignorance of the proper meaning and extent of the principle which they profess. If we bring up Christmas or Easter, wedding rings, or clerical titles, we shall be told, “Though the Bible does not prescribe such things, neither does it proscribe them. Though we are not bidden to do such things, neither are we forbidden. Therefore we are free.” Thus the principle that the Bible is our only rule of faith and practice is contracted to a narrow sphere, and we are left for the most part free to do as we please----free to follow the world in whichever of its heathen practices happen to suit our will and our whims, so long as we suppose that we have no direct commandment of God against us.

But there is more to come. However the principle itself must be vitiated by such a view of things, the practice is almost always worse than the principle. This is due to ignorance of the Bible, or unbelief in its contents. It often happens that while people smugly contend that such and such things are not forbidden in the Bible, the real fact is that those very things are forbidden in the Bible explicitly and repeatedly. And if not explicitly forbidden, they may be disallowed by the principles of truth which the Bible teaches. And here, by the way, lies an unsuspected danger of the wrong principle. The man who knows himself obliged to carefully follow the Bible will naturally be very careful to know the Bible. The man who thinks himself at liberty to follow his own wisdom may be insensibly overtaken with a degree of carelessness about the Bible. It never rises to the place of ascendency over his mind which rightfully belongs to it. He remains too much in ignorance of its substance and its spirit. He does not feel deeply enough the need to know it. He has a superfical acquaintance with proof texts, but of the deeper principles of the book, and the ways of God which are contained in it, he remains largely ignorant.

It is not my intention, however, to deal in this article so much with the deficient practice of the modern church, as with the defective principle which is largely responsible for the default in practice. More than twenty years ago I was visited by a representative of an evangelical publisher whose principles I could not approve. In the course of our conversation he expressed the following sentiments: There are two principles upon which we might act, the first being that we may do only what is warranted by Scripture, and the other being that we may do whatever seems good and prudent to us, so long as we do not transgress any commandment of Scripture. To this I immediately replied, “I will stand on the first.” “Then,” said he, “you will become less and less effective.” This conversation plainly delineates the difference between the principle of most of the modern church----and most of the ancient church also----and the principle which I wish to defend in this article, and which I hope to prove from the Scriptures themselves.

Moses was commissioned of God to build a tabernacle, but not one detail of that tabernacle was left to his own wisdom or prudence. God first took him up into the mount for forty days, and showed him a pattern of every detail, and then “Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount.” (Heb. 8:5). Now it is a remarkable fact that in quoting this admonition from the Old Testament the Spirit of God adds this word “all things,” for it is not to be found in Ex. 25:40, from which the verse is quoted. Earlier in the same chapter, however, in the ninth verse, the Lord had said a similar thing to Moses: “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”

All of this makes it perfectly plain that Moses had no right either to add to the things shown to him in the pattern, nor to subtract from them. He was to follow the pattern exactly in “all things.” And God further commanded, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2). And again, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.” (Deut. 12:32). Such Scriptures are often quoted as prohibitions to add to or take from the written words of Scripture, and though I have no quarrel with that, it is certainly not all that God intended by these words. The prohibition (as is very obvious in Deut. 12:32), does not refer merely to the words written in the book of God, but to the practice of the people of God. They are forbidden in their practice to add to or diminish from the things commanded by the Lord. The word of the Lord, in other words, was to be their “only rule of faith and practice” in the broadest and strictest sense. But the principle generally acted upon in the modern church completely overthrows the first half of this prohibition. They hold themselves bound indeed not to omit to do anything which God has enjoined, but free to add to it whatever they please.

What would have been thought of Moses if he had determined, for whatever reason, to make an additional altar for the tabernacle, other than those which God had showed him in the pattern? What if he had determined to add another court to the tabernacle, to meet some supposed need of the people? Would God have winked at this? What if he had determined to add another feast day or two to those which God had commanded him? Would not the whole evangelical church today condemn such an act as highly presumptuous? What is the use of the divine pattern, if Moses may add to it as he sees fit? And yet the same people who would regard it as highly presumptuous for Moses to add anything to the Levitical worship, count themselves perfectly free to add whatever they please to the pattern of Christianity which God has given, and will hold to their additions with the same tenacity that they do to the pattern itself, and defend the things which have been added five hundred, a thousand, or fifteen hundred years after the pattern was given, as though in so doing they were earnestly contending for the faith once delivered to the saints.

Yet when it suits their own doctrine or practice, they know very well how to adopt the true principle. Only let someone try to introduce infant baptism into their churches, and they will immediately point out that it cannot be of God because there is neither precept nor example for it in the Bible. And you may be sure that they will not be moved the breadth of a hair by the argument that the Bible nowhere forbids infant baptism. Thus they must give up their own principle in order to maintain their practice. Yet if they have ever spent two minutes in honest thought on the subject, they must know very well that there is just as much support in the Scriptures for infant baptism as there is for Christmas or Easter. They are probably aware too that infant baptism, along with the observances of Lent, Christmas, and Easter, all came to us from exactly the same source. They all came from the pagan Church of Rome. But whether they know whence they came or not, they certainly do know that they did not come from the Bible. How is it that they will reject infant baptism and Lent, on the ground that they are the mere inventions of men, which are nowhere taught in the Bible, while they receive Christmas and Easter, and contend that it makes no difference that they are not taught in the Bible, as long as they are not forbidden by it? Alas, here we have dug down to the real roots of the matter, and have found them to be self-pleasing and lukewarmness, using the Bible merely to support what we do, or please to do, with but little concern as to whether our practices have the sanction of God or not, and indifference as to whether the principle for which we stand is the truth, or error, or both.

But though there is certainly no excuse for such a course, it may be that there is a reason for it. The opposing principles of which I write have been in operation for a long time. Nearly half a millennium ago, when the Reformers came out of the Church of Rome, some of them stood upon the true principle for which I contend, and others of them upon the false principle which I oppose.

Martin Luther stood on the wrong side of the question. “Towards the close of his life, in 1542, (10th November,) he writes to Spalatin: `With respect to the elevation of the host, do what you think fit; I would not have people chained down by arbitrary rules in indifferent matters; this is what I have always said, and what I always shall say to those who weary me about this question.”'

Expediency was Luther's principle, and he had no conception of regulating all things according to the pattern of Scripture, as all of the following will plainly indicate: “Thus he writes on the 11th January, 1531: `Although ceremonies are not necessary to salvation, yet they produce an effect upon rude and uncultivated minds. I refer principally to the ceremonies of the mass, which you may retain, as we here, at Wittemberg, have done.'

“`I condemn no ceremony,' he writes on 14th March, 1526, `which is not contrary to the gospel. We have preserved the baptistry and baptism, with this difference, that in the ceremony we make use of the vernacular tongue. I permit images in the temple, and the mass is celebrated with the accustomed rites and in the same costume as formerly; and here, again, the only difference is, that we sing some hymns in German, and that the words of consecration are in German. Indeed, I should not have abolished the Latin mass at all, or have substituted the vernacular, in celebrating it, had I not found myself compelled to do so.'

“`You are about to organize the church in Koenisberg: I entreat you, in the name of Christ, to make as few changes as possible. You have in your neighbourhood several episcopal towns, and it is not desirable that the ceremonies of our new church should vary in any marked degree from the old ritual. If you have not already abolished the Latin mass, do not abolish it, but merely introduce into it a few German hymns. If it be abolished, at all events retain the old order and costumes.' (16th July, 1528.)”

Luther was the first of the Reformers, and exercised a great influence over the Reformation throughout Europe, including England. Thus the Reformed churches of Europe were clad in popish garments from the day of their birth, by the retention of numerous pagan and semi-pagan practices, including feasts and fasts and saints' days and holidays and clerical vestments and titles. It was this state of things which gave birth to the Puritan movement in England----a movement which sought to purify the half-reformed Church of England by purging out of it such remnants of popery. The things in particular which the Puritans objected to are listed by Neal as: the sign of the cross in baptism, godfathers and godmothers, confirmation of children, kneeling at the sacrament, bowing at the name of Jesus, wedding rings, the wearing of the surplice, and other ceremonies. It is almost amusing to read such descriptions as the following of the English Reformation: “From the first the changes were sweeping and radical. The statute of the six articles and all other bloody statutes against Protestants were repealed. The communion in both kinds was restored, and the stone altars were replaced by wooden tables. Romish ceremonies, such as the use of candles in Candlemas, ashes in Lent, and palms on Palm Sunday, were all done away with.” ----the whole crew seemingly perfectly oblivious to the fact that the Candlemas, the Lent, and the Palm Sunday were every bit as Romish as the candles, the ashes, and the palms.

On the other side of the question were Menno Simons and the Baptists, or Anabaptists, as they were then called. Where Luther would only consent to disallow what he conceived to be against Scripture, Menno over and over condemns everything which is without Scripture, as well as that which is against it. The statements of Menno on this theme are the very antithesis of Luther's. “Therefore all things which they instituted and practiced as holy worship without the command of God, or against it (notwithstanding it was in honor of the living God who had so gloriously led their fathers and them from the land of Egypt), was nothing less than open idolatry, spiritual whoredom, perfidy, degeneracy, blasphemy and an awful abomination, as we have above briefly shown the reader from the prophetic Scriptures. God is a God who does not need our aid and offerings, because he has made all things. Mine, he says, are the cattle, upon a thousand hills. What then can I offer? He will take no other sacrifices than those alone which are commanded in his holy word.” Once more, “All doctrine which is contrary to his word or without his command, is vain, such as, in the papal church, purgatory, false promises, differences in places, in victuals and in days, pilgrimages, false sacrifices, &c. Again, in the German churches, the availability of infant baptism.”

Both of these principles have thus been at work in the church since the Reformation, and though they were strongly marked and distinct at that time, the intervening centuries have served to muddle and mix them. Fundamentalists today, though they do not all call themselves Baptists, are very largely baptistic, and have inherited some important doctrines and practices from the old Anabaptists. But by a long course of mixture they have also inherited much from the other Reformed churches, and thus indirectly from the church of Rome. In some matters they have certainly gone back from the ground occupied by their Baptist forefathers, and capitulated to the compromised position of the other churches. This is evident in such things as the observance of Christmas, which was disallowed by the whole Baptist community in America as late as a century and a half ago. And it is a very telling fact that when evangelicals today wish to defend the old ground occupied by the Anabaptists, they will stand firmly for the Anabaptist principle, rejecting such things as Lent and infant baptism because they are not taught in the Bible; but when they wish to defend the ground which they have inherited from half-Romish Reformed churches, they will immediately capitulate to the ground of expediency, and contend that everything is allowable which is not explicitly forbidden by the Bible. It is high time they get on one side or the other.

If Moses had chosen to adopt a course of expediency in those things not explicitly forbidden by the Lord, he could no doubt have given very plausible reasons for it. “The needs of the people”----“the needs of modern man”----“to reach the masses”----“to hold the interest of the young people.” This of course puts those who oppose such a principle into an odious position. They quickly gain the reputation of being carping and captious, cranky and critical, for standing against so many things which appear to be innocent, or which seem likely to do good, and which are practiced by good men with good motives. But no matter about that. Let them study to show themselves approved unto God, whatever man may think of them. God calls them to be faithful to the sacred deposit committed to them. “And the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Tim. 2:2). Thus is the sacred deposit handed down, and there is no allowance whatever for the adding of one jot or tittle----whether of clerical vestments and titles, or “Christian holidays,” or stage plays or church steeples----to “the things” which belong to that deposit, any more than Moses could claim the right to add to “the things” contained in his pattern.

And after all, those who plead so much for expediency may not be such noble souls as we might wish they were. It is not usually superfluous zeal or superior wisdom which brings all of these innovations into the house of God, but conformity to the world. They are not usually brought in by a Moses, whose communion is with God, and whose eye is upon the pattern of God, but by an Ahaz, whose communion is with the heathen, and whose eye has been taken by another pattern. “And king Ahaz went [not to the mount of God, but] to Damascus, [not to meet God, but] to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus... And when the king was come from Damascus, the king saw the altar, and the king approached to the altar and offered incense thereon. And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar.” (II Kings 16:10-13). This was mere conformity to the world, and I seriously doubt that many Christians could be found who would contend that such worship was acceptable to God. Yet the same kind of conformity to the world is found in their own churches, from splendid and extravagant weddings and funerals, to Christmas celebrations, to baseball games and fashion shows, and yet they remain as complacent as Ahaz was, and as ignorant as he was that such offerings are not acceptable to God.

“What's wrong with it?” seems to be the only question they know how to ask. To this I answer, What if neither you nor I shall ever understand “what's wrong with it” till we drop this robe of flesh and rise to seize the everlasting prize? “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Cor. 13:12). God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways, but as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's ways and thoughts higher than our ways and thoughts (Is. 55:8-9). The fact that we cannot see anything wrong with certain things proves nothing at all. The wisest of us see but in part.

The supposed good that is to be done by such things is no excuse for unfaithfulness to the sacred deposit. Moreover, faith is compelled to reckon that the ways of God are not only higher than man's, but better, and that therefore the most good, and the least harm, will be done precisely by scrupulous faithfulness to the pattern which God has given. Your real and spiritual effectiveness, in other words, will be just in proportion to your faithfulness----though you may build a great deal of wood, hay, and stubble without it. Those who conform to the ways of the world may rear a loftier edifice than those who adhere to the pattern of God. Worldliness appeals to the worldly, and fleshly expedients appeal to the flesh. The man who refuses such things may have less of apparent success, but there is another day coming, in the which the last shall be first, and the first last----in the which every man's work shall be tried by fire, and everything which is not according to the pattern of God will be reduced to smoke and ashes.

Ahaz further “brought also the brasen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar” (vs. 14), “and king Ahaz cut off the borders of the bases, and removed the laver from off them; and took down the sea from off the brasen oxen that were under it, and put it upon a pavement of stones” (vs. 17). Thus alteration followed quick on the heels of innovation, as it usually does, for those who are so little committed to following the divine pattern that they will lightly add to what God has prescribed, are usually also so heedless or so ignorant of it that they will also lightly set it aside wherever they please, likely all unaware that that is what they are doing.

This is the precise state of things in the modern evangelical church. The Bible is not yet overthrown altogether, but there is very widespread ignorance of its principles, and even of its contents, among those who profess to follow it. The effects of that ignorance are bad enough in themselves, but when alongside of that ignorance we find also a universal weakening and compromising of the fundamental canon which determines the place of authority with which the Bible is to speak in the Church, it is no wonder that we find the modern church of God so far departed from the pattern of New Testament Christianity. The Bible is NOT “the only rule of faith and practice” in the modern churches----not in the soundest and most fundamental of them. The wisdom of man and conformity to the world vie with the Scriptures of God for that place, and in many churches it would be difficult to see how the Bible could even be claimed as the highest rule, to say nothing of “the only rule of faith and practice.” Oh! for some prophets of God, who will call his wandering sheep back to the solid rock of “THUS SAITH THE LORD”!

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

The Water Street Mission Books

Jerry McAuley was the son of an Irish counterfeiter, who left home to escape the law before Jerry was old enough to know him. He was raised by an ungodly Roman Catholic grandmother until the age of thirteen, when he was sent to New York City to live with a sister. He soon went out to fare for himself, and became a river thief. At the age of nineteen he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. He was converted in the prison, and pardoned after serving half his sentence. He relapsed again into drunkenness and crime, but was eventually restored, and went to work for the Lord. In 1872 he founded the “Helping Hand For Men,” a rescue mission, later known as the Jerry McAuley Water Street Mission. He was a pioneer in this sort of work. Meetings were held nightly, and thousands of the most abandoned of characters were saved. The influence of this mission was felt around the world: first, by the lives and ministries of its numerous converts; second, by the numerous other rescue missions which were formed and carried on as a result of the inspiration and impetus of its example; and third, by the books I am about to mention.

My first introduction to the Water Street Mission books came about in one of my yearly book-buying trips to Grand Rapids, in the early 1970's. At that time I was just getting my heart thawed out----recoiling from the cold, doctrinal kind of Christianity to which I had been too much exposed, and too much inclined, and feeling the warmth of the real gospel of God. I was therefore determined to get some books on missions. Upstairs in the old Baker Book House store on Wealthy Street (where for years I spent so many delightful hours!) I found a small “missions” section in one of the back rooms. I carefully sifted through the books, and selected half a dozen, one of which was Down In Water Street, by Samuel H. Hadley. I knew nothing about Hadley, or Water Street, nor had I any idea what a treasure I had found. I think I bought the book because it was published by Revell, which in those days published many sound and solid books. Anyway, Hadley was McAuley's successor as superintendant of the mission, and if ever there was a book written which could warm the heart with the true spirit of the gospel of Christ, this is the book. Charles M. Alexander wrote of it, “My heart melted as I read.”

I next acquired the biography of McAuley, Jerry McAuley, An Apostle to the Lost, edited by R. M. Offord. This is another heart book, and he must have a cold heart who does not weep his way through these two. Next came S. H. Hadley of Water Street, a good, full biography written by J. Wilbur Chapman.

After Hadley's death the mission was superintended by John H. Wyburn. After Wyburn's death, his wife, Susie May Wyburn, wrote “But Until Seventy Times Seven,” published in 1936 by the Plymouth Brethren Loizeaux Brothers (with disclaimers about ordained preachers and the public ministry of women). This book reviews the lives and characters of McAuley, Hadley, and Wyburn. The first half, on McAuley and Hadley, is largely taken from the books already mentioned, but it also contains much that is new, and is certainly worth reading.

In 1967 Loizeaux published another very good biography of McAuley, entitled Jerry McAuley and His Mission, by Arthur Bonner. The author was a secular magazine, radio, and television reporter, who took a year off from that business to write this book. It will not move the heart like Jerry's own story which is told in Offord's book, but it is nevertheless an excellent biography. All of these books are well illustrated with numerous photographs, but Bonner's is profusely so, much of the book containing drawings or photographs on almost every page.

The Dry Dock of a Thousand Wrecks, by Philip I. Roberts, recounts some of the work of the mission. It professes to be a sequel to Hadley's Down In Water Street, but it is in no sense an equal. It lacks spirituality, and is as far below Hadley's book as Roberts was below Hadley.

Down In Water Street relates the conversion of Hadley's brother, Henry Harrison Hadley. Henry wrote The Blue Badge of Courage, but I have never seen a copy.

Lastly we must mention The Penalty and Redemption, by George Miles White, a hardened criminal who was converted in part through Hadley's work. This book lacks the warm spirituality of those of McAuley and Hadley; nevertheless I wept a-plenty in reading the author's account of his conversion in the police station cell. The book is elegantly printed by the Seaboard Publishing Company, concerning which an advertisement at the end of the book says:

“This concern was organized by converts of the Water Street Mission, with the object of giving men a start in life, and helping them to help themselves, and to date has been successful beyond expectations.

“At present the company employs many converts permanently, and as many others as are required for miscellaneous duty.”

Alas, these books are all out of print, and most of them are hard to find. My own copy is the only copy I have ever seen of several of them. A number of years ago Kregel's obtained eight copies of Down In Water Street (I think all from the library of a school that went out of business). I bought all eight of them, and gave them away. Oh, that a host might rise up who could obtain these books, read them, imbibe their spirit, and go and do likewise!

J. C. Ryle on the Interpretation of Prophecy

I submit, then, that in the matter of Christ's second coming and kingdom, the Church of Christ has not dealt fairly with the prophecies of the Old Testament. We have gone on far too long refusing to see that there are two personal advents of Christ spoken of in those prophecies,----an advent in humiliation, and an advent to reign,----a personal advent to carry the cross, and a personal advent to wear the crown. We have been “slow of heart to believe ALL that the Prophets have written.” (Luke xxiv.25.) The Apostles went into one extreme: they stumbled at Christ's sufferings. We have gone into the other extreme: we have stumbled at Christ's glory. We have got into a confused habit of speaking of the kingdom of Christ as already set up amongst us, and have shut our eyes to the fact that the devil is still prince of this world, and served by the vast majority; and that our Lord, like David in Adullam, though anointed, is not yet set upon His throne. We have got into a vicious habit of taking all the promises spiritually, and all the denunciations and threats literally. The denunciations against Babylon, and Nineveh, and Edom, and Tyre, and Egypt, and the rebellious Jews, we have been content to take literally and hand over to our neighbours. The blessings and promises of glory to Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, and Israel, we have taken spiritually, and comfortably applied them to ourselves and the Church of Christ. To bring forward proofs of this would be waste of time. No man can hear many sermons, and read many commentaries, without being aware that it is a fact.

Now I believe this to have been an unfair system of interpreting Scripture. I hold that the first and primary sense of every Old Testament promise as well as threat is the literal one,----and that Jacob means Jacob, Jerusalem means Jerusalem, Zion means Zion, and Israel means Israel, as much as Egypt means Egypt, and Babylon means Babylon. That primary sense, I believe, we have sadly lost sight of. We have adapted and accommodated to the Church of Christ the promises that were spoken by God to Israel and Zion. I do not mean to say that this accommodation is in no sense allowable. But I do mean to say that the primary sense of every prophecy and promise in Old Testament prophecy was intended to have a literal fulfilment, and that this literal fulfilment has been far too much put aside and thrust into a corner. And by so doing I think we have exactly fulfilled our Lord's words in the parable of the ten virgins,----we have proved that we are slumbering and sleeping about the second advent of Christ.

But I submit further, that in the interpretation of the New Testament, the Church of Christ has dealt almost as unfairly with our Lord's second advent, as she has done in the interpretation of the Old. Men have got into the habit of putting a strange sense upon many of those passages which speak of “the coming of the Son of Man,” or of the Lord's “appearing.” And this habit has been far too readily submitted to. Some tell us that the coming of the Son of Man often means death. No one can read the thousands of epitaphs in churchyards, in which some text about the coming of Christ is thrust in, and not perceive how wide-spread this view is. Some tell us that our Lord's coming means the destruction of Jerusalem. This is a very common way of interpreting the expression. Many find the literal Jerusalem everywhere in New Testament prophecies, though, oddly enough, they refuse to see it in the Old Testament prophecies, and, like Aaron's rod, they make it swallow up everything else. Some tell us that our Lord's coming means the general judgment, and the end of all things. This is their one answer to all inquiries about things to come.

Now I believe that all these interpretations are entirely beside the mark. I have not the least desire to underrate the importance of such subjects as death and judgment. I willingly concede that the destruction of Jerusalem is typical of many things connected with our Lord's second advent, and is spoken of in chapters where that mighty event is foretold. But I must express my own firm belief that the coming of Christ is one distinct thing, and that death, judgment, and the destruction of Jeruslaem, are three other distinct things. And the wide acceptance which these strange interpretations have met with I hold to be one more proof that in the matter of Christ's second advent the Chruch has long slumbered and slept.

The plain truth of Scripture I believe to be as follows. When the number of the elect is accomplished, Christ will come again to this world with power and great glory. He will raise His saints, and gather them to Himself. He will punish with fearful judgments all who are found His enemies, and reward with glorious awards all His believing people. He will take to Himself His great power, and reign, and establish an universal kingdom. He will gather the scattered tribes of Israel, and place them once more in their own land. As He came the first time in person, so He will come the second time in person. As He went away from earth visibly, so He will return visibly. As He literally rode upon an ass,----was literally sold for thirty pieces of silver,----had His hands and feet literally pierced,----was numbered literally with the transgressors,----and had lots literally cast upon His raiment,----and all that Scripture might be fulfilled, so also will He literally come, literally set up a kingdom, and literally reign over the earth, because the very same Scripture has said it shall be so.

The words of the angels, in the first of Acts, are plain and unmistakable: “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts i.11.) So also the words of the Apostle Peter: “The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts iii.19-21.) So also the words of the Psalmist: “When the Lord shall build up Zion He shall appear in His glory.” (Ps. cii.16.) So also the words of Zechariah: “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” (Zech. xiv.5). So also the words of Isaiah: “The Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.” (Isai. xxiv.23.) So also the words of Jeremiah: “I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord, and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” “I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling-place; and the city shall be built on her own heap.” (Jer. xxx.3,18.) So also the words of Daniel: “Behold one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” (Dan. vii.13,14.) All these texts are to my mind plain prophecies of Christ's second coming and kingdom. All are yet without their accomplishment, and all shall yet be literally and exactly fulfilled.

I say “literally and exactly fulfilled,” and I say so advisedly. From the first day that I began to read the Bible with my heart, I have never been able to see these texts, and hundreds like them, in any other light. It always seemed to me that as we take literally the texts foretelling that the walls of Babylon shall be cast down, so we ought to take literally the texts foretelling that the walls of Zion shall be built up,----that as according to prophecy the Jews were literally scattered, so according to prophecy the Jews will be literally gathered,----and that as the least and minutest predictions were made good on the subject of our Lord's coming to suffer, so the minutest predictions shall be made good which describe our Lord's coming to reign.

----Coming Events and Present Duties, By J. C. Ryle; London: William Hunt and Company, 1878, pp. 11-16.

Henry Alford on the First Resurrection

I cannot consent to distort its words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any risk of abuses which the doctrine of the millennium may bring with it. Those who lived next to the Apostles, and the whole Church for 300 years, understood them in the plain literal sense: and it is a strange sight in these days to see expositors who are among the first in reverence for antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents. As regards the text itself, no legitimate treatment of it will extort what is known as the spiritual interpretation now in fashion. If, in a passage where two resurrections are mentioned, where certain souls lived at the first, and the rest of the dead lived only at the end of a specified period after the first,----if in such a passage the first resurrection may be understood to mean spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means literal rising from the grave;----then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to any thing. If the first resurrection is spiritual, then so is the second, which I suppose none will be hardy enough to maintain: but if the second is literal, then so is the first, which in common with the whole primitive Church and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain, and receive as an article of faith and hope.

----The New Testament for English Readers, on Rev. 20:4-6.

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.