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
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
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
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
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
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
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
----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
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,
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)
life (Mark 8:35) ----his life (Luke 9:24) ----his own life also
----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
----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
----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
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
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
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
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?
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
----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,
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
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
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
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
J. C. Ryle on the Interpretation of
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,
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,
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,
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.
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.