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Vol. 3, No. 2
Feb., 1994

Mistakes and Consequences

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon Preached on June 9, 1991. Recorded, Transcribed, & Revised.

I'm going to speak to you this morning on mistakes and their consequences. I don't have any particular scripture to turn to to begin with, but we'll turn to a number of them this morning. Mistakes have consequences. It's the part of wisdom to recognize that, and I'm afraid that it's one of those things that people usually only learn by experience----hard knocks. They don't understand that mistakes have consequences until they are enduring the consequences. The fact of the matter is, in our day most folks don't even recognize that sin has consequences----deny it if they can, ignore it if they can. But I'm not talking this morning about sin. I'm not talking about something that you deliberately do that's wrong. We know that sin has consequences, and very severe ones, but mistakes also have consequences. Things that you don't do deliberately wrong, but things that are just unwise. Things that you may have no idea are unwise, and you may have no idea what the consequences are. Those kind of mistakes still have consequences, and they may be consequences that are very serious. Maybe consequences that are long-lasting, even eternal. Maybe consequences that others will have to endure besides yourself.

Now all of this may sound rather discouraging, if I'm going to reap serious, long-term consequences, to others as well as to myself, for doing things that I don't even know are wrong. I'm not going to preach this morning to discourage anybody, but I hope to solemnize you as well as myself, because I believe that mistakes can be prevented. Maybe not in every case. There may be some mistakes that we just don't have any means to prevent. We do the best we can, and we still make mistakes. But I have faith in God also. The song that we just sang says, “he stands to shield me from danger.” And it just may be that God may shield us from those mistakes, or from the consequences of them. But I believe that one large reason why mistakes do have consequences, and why God has ordained that mistakes should have consequences, is simply because mistakes can be avoided, and ought to be avoided, and we don't have a great deal of excuse for most of the mistakes we make, even though we make them innocently and ignorantly. I may not have known any better, but it's a probability that I could have known better, and therefore that I should have known better. And therefore God has ordained that my mistakes, that I make in innocence and in ignorance, do have consequences----often very serious consequences.

You may turn with me to I Chronicles, chapter 13, and we're going to see what appears like an innocent mistake that had very serious consequences. By the way, as I said, I'm not preaching to discourage anybody, but to make us solemn, and I'm also going to give some prescriptions at the end of this, how we can avoid making mistakes. Of course the sermon would only discourage if there was no remedy. I Chronicles, chapter 13, verse 7: “And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” Now it says, “And David [verse 11] was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza; wherefore that place is called Perez-Uzza to this day.” Now why was David displeased? Well, it seemed that what Uzza had done was an innocent thing, and it therefore seemed that what God had done was unfair. Uzza wasn't intending to do anything wrong. He was just trying to be helpful. The oxen stumbled, and the ark was about to tip over, and he was just trying to be helpful. He put forth his hand to steady the ark, and God smote him. It was an innocent mistake, and David was displeased, because God smote him.

Now what I want to suggest to you here is that Uzza should have known better. I think it was a notorious fact that the ark of God, when it was taken by the Philistines, could hold its own. The gods of the Philistines fell down prostrate and broken before the ark of God, and the men of the Philistines were smitten by God because they treated the ark of God irreverently----looked into it. That was a notorious fact. Every Israelite should have known that God could take care of his own ark. There was some kind of lack of faith on Uzza's part to think that he needed to take care of the ark of God. Uzza made an apparently innocent mistake, but he should have known better. He should have known that the ark didn't need his hand. And God held him responsible not only for what he did know, but for what he should have known. Now that's a very solemn thing, but you know the scripture says, “He that knew not his lord's will, and did it not, shall be beaten with few stripes.” Why? Because there's no excuse for not knowing. He could have known, therefore he should have known. God will hold him responsible for what he should and could have known, and he will be punished though he did not know.

Now you keep that in the back of your mind. I'll come back to that before we're finished. I believe the reason that mistakes have consequences, and by the way, very serious and fatal consequences, as in the case of Uzza here, is because God holds us responsible for what we ought to know, and not only for what we do know. And that ought to set us to finding out what we don't know in good earnest. I'll come to that before we're finished. Now not only do mistakes have serious, maybe fatal consequences, but they also have long-term consequences. Take a case of marriage. I have a number of books of old proverbs, and there are quite a few proverbs in these old collections about marriage, and I find these proverbs to be about equally divided between two sorts. The one sort of proverbs represents marriage as heaven on earth----the best thing that ever happened to anybody, and the other class of proverbs represents marriage as hell on earth----the worst thing that ever happened to anybody. They are all on one side or the other, for there isn't much ground in the middle.

Now the Bible addresses this question in I Corinthians 7, and says, “If they cannot contain, let them marry. It is better to marry than to burn.” But, lest anybody get the wrong idea, it is NOT better to marry anybody that comes along. It is NOT better to marry the wrong kind of spouse. There are some proverbs also in the Old Testament that talk about this. You'll find one in Proverbs 21, where it plainly indicates that it's better not to be married, than to be married to the wrong kind of person. In the ninth verse it says, “It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” Now I Corinthians 7 says, “It is better to marry than to burn.” Here he says, It is better to be alone, if you've got the wrong kind of spouse. The nineteenth verse of this same chapter says, “It is better to dwell in the wilderness,”----alone----out there in the land of the desert----“than with a contentious and an angry woman.” The New Testament says it is better to marry. These proverbs indicate that in some cases it is better not to----better to be alone----better to dwell in the corner of the housetop----better to be out there in the desert all by yourself, than to be dwelling with such a spouse.

Now folks who get married generally don't have the idea when they get married that they are making a mistake, or doing anything wrong. But a good many people do mistake when they marry. Maybe they don't even know that it makes any difference what kind you marry, and they make a mistake. Well, it has some pretty serious consequences, and they're long-term consequences. They may say, Well, I didn't do anything wrong. I thought I was doing the right thing. In fact, I thought it was the will of God to enter into this marriage----but the consequences of that mistake are all the same, whether you did what you did ignorantly and innocently, or even thinking you were doing the right thing, or whether you did a deliberate wrong. You'd better be wise before you get married. Another proverb says, “Marry in haste, and repent at leisure.” But it's too late to repent then. You make a mistake in this matter, and you are going to endure the consequences of it. You had better be wise before you make your mistakes.

But it's a hard thing. Sometimes people make mistakes in matters in which they don't even know it's possible to make a mistake, but still they have to endure the consequences. Now what I'm coming to eventually here is: you had best get some wisdom before you act, in everything, even in those things where you didn't even think any wisdom was necessary. That's exactly where you're in the most danger of making mistakes.

Now I want to look at I Chronicles 13 again. We see that Uzza endured the consequences of his mistake----his apparently innocent mistake in putting forth his hand to steady the ark of God. No doubt he thought he was doing the right thing, and he was doing it with a good motive. Maybe he even thought he was doing the work of God to take care of the ark of God, but it was a mistake. But there was another mistake before that. I want you to read with me from the beginning of this chapter. In I Chronicles 13 it says, “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: and let us bring again the ark of our God to us; for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so; for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt, even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab.” Now here was the first mistake. David put the ark of God on a new cart. He no doubt thought he was doing the right thing. He wasn't sneaking around, trying to get away with something behind someone's back. This is something that he had planned out ahead of time, and called all the people of Israel from all the extremities of the land, to gather together for a grand procession to bring back the ark of God, and he no doubt had a special cart made for the occasion----made a new cart----wouldn't desecrate the ark of God by putting it on an old cart that was common, and had been used to haul hay or oats to market. He wasn't sneaking around trying to do something wrong, but what he was doing was wrong. It wasn't wrong to bring the ark of God back, but it was wrong to put it on a cart. And David should have known better. And the men that drove the oxen should have known better. If they had known the Scriptures, they would have known better.

Now what I want to point out to you here is that David's mistake of carrying the ark of God on a new cart had some serious consequences, and to somebody else besides himself. It was Uzza that was smitten. He made his own mistake, to be sure, but it was a mistake he couldn't have made if David hadn't first made his mistake. Your mistakes may have very serious consequences to other people. I talked to a man a few years ago whose children went bad. He was telling me all the things that he had done to raise his children right----never sent them to the public school, sent them to the Christian school----allowed them a minimum amount of television----and all the things that he was telling me that he had done, that he thought were the right things, were in my eyes the wrong things. He thought he was doing right, but he was making mistakes in raising his children. Now his children reap the consequences of those mistakes. Not without their own responsibility, of course, but their sin might have been prevented, if he had known the truth and done it. We make mistakes for lack of knowing the truth. David made a mistake and put the ark of God on a new cart. If David had known the Scriptures, he never would have done such a thing, and the consequences of that mistake never would have happened. David was innocent as far as his motives went----wasn't sneaking around trying to do something wrong. He acted openly in the sight of all Israel, and before God, but he was doing the wrong thing, nevertheless. And his mistake had consequences. All mistakes have consequences.

David made another mistake in 1 Kings, chapter 1. We read about it in verse 5. It says, “Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” Now David made a great mistake in not displeasing his son. It's a mistake that thousands of parents are making every day. I see some parents that seem to bend over backwards to pacify their children, and keep them happy. Little boy fusses for something----you give it to him. Why? Well, you don't want to displease him. And of course you have plenty of motivation not to displease him. Some of these little tikes are just the most pleasant and cheerful things you ever did see on earth, as long as you're pleasing them. As soon as you displease them, they turn into bears. Well, David made that mistake. It says he had not displeased him at any time. Just did his best to keep the little tike happy when he was little----though you know it doesn't work, for these fussing, demanding children are the most unhappy children on earth. But anyway, when the boy got a little bigger, he had to do other things to keep him happy, but just kept him happy----didn't displease him. Gave him what he wanted, and when Adonijah got to be a man, (always had what he wanted all the rest of his life), he said, I think I'll take the kingdom. Father has given me everything but that, but he won't give me that, but I'll just take it. Now David undoubtedly acted in ignorance and in innocence. You don't think for a minute that David said in his heart, I am going to raise a rebel. I am going to raise a child for the flames of hell. That never entered his heart. He just did it innocently, ignorantly----didn't have wisdom to raise the kid right, so he raised him wrong----innocently----ignorantly----mistakenly, not purposely, but his mistake had the same consequences as if he had done it on purpose. Mistakes have consequences. And not only to himself, either, but to the poor son that was raised that way. You know, you see some of these children that fuss and get their way, and you don't know if you should feel sorry for the kid or blame him. Parents could prevent it. And parents say, Well, you know he fusses because he is little, but he'll grow out of it. He may grow out of the fussing, but he won't grow out of the character that that fussing is the manifestation of. That needs to be disciplined out of him. He won't grow out of that. When boys get a little older, it's a little too hard on their pride to fuss and whimper like a baby, so they find some other way to manifest their selfish, demanding character, and when they turn twenty-one or twenty-five or whatever Adonijah was, they say, I think I'll take the kingdom. Well, he lost his life. It was David's mistake, and Adonijah paid for it.

Now one other thing that I want to mention is that God will often hold you to the consequences of the mistakes that you make, and he'll hold you to the mistakes themselves. You can't always just make a mistake and then say, Well, that was a mistake: I'll just go back and undo it. God won't necessarily let you. You make a mistake and marry the wrong kind of person, and you can't just wiggle out of it. You've got to endure the consequences of it for a long time. God will hold you to the mistakes that you make.

I want you to turn with me to the fifteenth Psalm, where God sets forth this principle. He says, “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” I might as well finish the Psalm and read the other things. “He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.” But now look at this one: “He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.” Did you ever know anybody to swear to his own hurt on purpose? Not usually. It's usually an innocent mistake. If I have sworn to my own hurt, it's because I didn't know at the time that it was to my own hurt. I found that out later. But God is going to hold me to it when I find out that it was to my own hurt. The man that will dwell with God is the man that swears to his own hurt, and changes not when he finds out that it was to his own hurt. God holds you to the mistakes that you make. You're going to endure the consequences, and make the best of it. You're not going to wiggle out of it. You'll find the same thing in Ecclesiastes, the fifth chapter. Verse 4 says, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?” You made a vow when you didn't know what the consequences were. You didn't take the time to find out what the consequences were. It was a mistake. Well, God says, You vow, you pay what you vow, mistake or no mistake. And don't say, It was a mistake. That's what the word “error” means. God, in other words, is going to hold you to the mistakes you make. Now doesn't that indicate you ought to get some wisdom before you act? God says, “Better is it that thou shouldest NOT VOW”----better not to act at all, than to act and make mistakes. Get some wisdom before you act. Find out what mistakes there are to make. Look at other people, and see the mistakes that they have made, and the consequences that they have had to endure, and get wise before you make your mistakes. Mistakes do have consequences----serious consequences----long-term consequences, consequences to others besides yourself, and consequences that God will hold you to.

Now turn back with me to the book of Joshua, the ninth chapter. Joshua and the Israelites made a very serious mistake in making a covenant with the Gibeonites. I'm not going to read all of this, or go into any great detail, but the men of Gibeon prepared themselves the dry and mouldly provisions, and they came to Joshua in verse 8: “And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy; and these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey. And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.” Now we know that there were some serious consequences of this, and God held them to it. You know centuries later when King Saul decided he was going to undo this mistake that Joshua and the Israelites had made, and he was going to put the Gibeonites to death, God still held him to the mistake that his forefathers had made. You'll find this recorded in ll Samuel, chapter twenty-one. “Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.” Israel was wrong to make a covenant with the Gibeonites. They were wrong to make a league with them. They asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, and the Lord had already told them not to do it----to make no league with the people of the land. They didn't ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Ignorantly they went their own way, and made a mistake, but God held them to it, and God held their descendants to it centuries later. Saul may have thought: when God sent Joshua into the land he was to exterminate all the inhabitants of the land. Now the Gibeonites were inhabitants of the land, but they deceived Joshua, and Joshua made a league with them, but God had already devoted them to destruction, so I think I'll just undo the mistake that Joshua made, and I'll exterminate the Gibeonites. But God wouldn't let him do it. God held him to the consequences of that mistake after all those centuries.

Now I want to talk to you about what you can do to prevent making mistakes. I have mentioned all these mistakes and their consequences because I want our minds to be solemnized by the fact that we're going to endure consequences for things that we do, that we don't even know are wrong when we do them. Things even that perhaps we think are right when we do them----mistakes----errors----not deliberate sin, just mistakes, but there are serious, long-term consequences to ourselves and to others, and we will endure those consequences. What can we do about it? I believe the first thing is to be humble. The kind of folks that make mistakes are the kind of folks that are self-sufficient and proud, and it never enters their head to think they might be doing something wrong.

Now I want you to look very carefully at this ninth chapter of the book of Joshua again. I don't believe there was any excuse for Joshua and the Israelites to make the mistake that they made in making a league with the Gibeonites. This story that the Gibeonites brought was just too transparent, but they weren't on their guard. Anybody who had been on their guard would have seen through this story in a hurry. For one thing, the Gibeonites overdid it. Why did they have to have old torn clothes and worn out shoes and torn wine bottles and mouldly bread? They overdid the thing. You see if they had been honest men they would have just said, We came from a far country, and left it at that. But they brought along all these things to try to prove that they were from a far country, and they overdid it, and anybody on their guard should have seen through that. When people go out of their way to try to prove something that nobody would have any reason to question otherwise, that should put you on your guard. That's just common sense. Besides, the Gibeonites did a poor job of it. The story that they put together was so flimsy that anybody should have seen through it. It doesn't take the same amount of time for bread to get dry and mouldy as it does for shoes or wine bottles to wear out. The bread would have been long gone before the shoes wore out. But Israel was self-sufficient, and therefore off their guard. They may have been puffed up with their recent victories, and puffed up with the promises that God had made to them, and it never entered their mind that they were going to fall and make a grand mistake here. They weren't on their guard. It was pride.

Another thing that shows us that there was no excuse for their falling for this story is this: they say, “Where do you come from?” and the Gibeonites say, “From a very far country.” Now what would you think if you met some tourist on the street, or stopped to help somebody who was having car trouble, and you said, “Where are you from?” and he said, “Oh, I'm from far away.” Wouldn't you say, “Well, where?” “Oh, from a state a long ways away.” Wouldn't you immediately be suspicious? Wouldn't you say, “What state?” I don't think Israel had any excuse. God made the whole thing transparent enough that they didn't have any excuse for swallowing that line. They never even inquired what country they were from. It seems like anybody with a grain of common sense would have done that. But they were puffed up. They were proud, and you know what else? The Gibeonites were very smooth and suave, and they appealed to the pride of the Israelites to gain their point. Look at how they did this. They say, “From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God; for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying,” etc. They just appealed to these Israelites' pride, who were just puffed up with these recent victories, and they come and say, We've heard about these victories. And Israel was puffed up, and they didn't ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord, and they fell for it. They were proud and self-sufficient, and therefore they made a grievous mistake. And I believe that's the big reason why people make mistakes----self-sufficiency----pride. When we're self-suficient, we don't concern ourselves to ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord.

Well, there's another thing that I want to talk about. You'll find it in the fourth chapter of the book of Proverbs. Proverbs chapter 4 says in verse 5, “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee; love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.” The reason folks make mistakes is often because they are not even aware that it's possible to make a mistake in the thing that they are doing----no wisdom, just blunder on their way, thinking they're doing the right thing, where if they had a little wisdom they'd be cautious. You know, humility leads to cautiousness, and pride leads the other way. Well, you know, after you've endured the consequences of a few of your mistakes it tends to humble you. It's too bad most of us have to learn the hard way. “Get wisdom,” he says, “and get it with all your getting. It's the principal thing.” Wisdom will keep you from making mistakes. Wisdom will give you to understand even the fact that it is possible to make a mistake, whereas the foolish just blunder on, not even knowing they could do the thing wrong, and they do it wrong.

One more Scripture in the book of Proverbs, in the eleventh chapter. In Proverbs, chapter 11, it says in verse l4: “Where no counsel is, the people fall”----that is, they make mistakes----“but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” That means, in plain language, ask people's advice before you act. There are various degrees of foolishness. Some folks don't even have the idea that it's possible to make a mistake in the thing that they are doing, so why ask anybody for advice? It never entered their mind. They just go ahead and do it, and then when they have to endure the consequences, they realize, My, what a serious mistake we have made! Other folks have enough sense to be a little bit cautious, but too proud to ask anybody's counsel, much less to ask counsel of a multitude of people, but he says that's where safety is----in the multitude of counsellors.

Now you say, Well, I don't understand how this works. You ask counsel of a multitude of people and you are likely to get a multitude of different kinds of advice. And that's true. When you ask counsel, it's not to get somebody to dictate to you what to do. It's to give you understanding, so you understand what to do, and in the multitude of counsellors there is safety because where ten people may not give you good advice, the eleventh one may. And of course, it's understood you'll recognize it as good advice. You know, I've looked back sometimes at my past life, and think, Oh, if only I had known twenty-five years ago the things that I know now! What mistakes it would have saved me! But you know what? Twenty-five years ago I was probably too proud to listen if someone had told me. I really think humility is the main thing that will keep you from making mistakes. Humility is the thing that will lead you to a multitude of counsellors. Humility is the thing that will lead you to seek wisdom. Humility is the thing that will lead you to ask counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Humility is the thing that will keep you from leaning unto your own understanding. Humility is the thing that will move you especially to be cautious in everything that you do.


Hugh Davey Evans on

Mistakes and Consequences in Marrying

[Hugh Davey Evans (1792-1868) was for years a leader of the high church party of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Maryland, and for fourteen years edited The True Catholic. He was no great figure in the history of the church, and his name is now unkown, but the following extract contains the most weighty words I have met with on the solemnity of marrying, and the best exposition I have seen of the ways of God in attaching consequences to human errors. ----editor.]

The principle of the indissolubleness of marriage has become very unpopular. It is easy to account for this. There are two modes in which evils may be dealt with. One is to prevent their occurrence by suffering people to feel their consequences; the other is to mitigate their consequences at the risk of increasing the number of cases. The one looks to the general diminution of evil; the other to the comfort of unfortunate persons. The first seems to be the Divine, the second the human mode. God provides that suffering shall follow evil doing. Man seeks only to diminish human suffering.

The laws by which the world is governed annex suffering to evil-doing as its natural consequence, not merely as judicial punishment. The suffering grows naturally out of the conduct of the sufferer; sometimes out of conduct which men admit to be wicked; sometimes out of conduct which they regard as imprudent; sometimes out of conduct which they consider only mistaken. Where it arises from imprudence or mistakes, and even when it arises from misconduct, it often bears such a proportion to its cause as is very startling to the minds of men. Disease and death are sometimes incurred by actions or omissions which would scarcely be called ill-advised. Such are the laws of God, which men call the laws of nature; but which are really ordained of God. It is not enough to say carelessly, as men sometimes will, that they are ordained for wise purposes; it must be felt that they are ordained for good and wise purposes which man is utterly unable to comprehend.

God sees that those laws produce good, while they seem to man only to work evil. God at once sees and comprehends the whole universe and everything in it, and the connections and relations among them throughout all duration. Man is confined to a partial and one-sided view of a very few things, and to a very slender knowledge of their relations to each other, while he has absolutely no knowledge of their relations to the whole. It is therefore impossible for him to learn the reasons of the inflexibility of the laws of nature and the uniformity with which effects follow their causes, although they may crush sentient beings in their way. But it may be reverently conjectured that one motive of the Framer of these laws is to make men careful how they act.

The Divine law, which decrees that a marriage once formed shall not be dissolved, has an analogy to the physical laws which have been just mentioned. It fixes upon those who enter into the marriage state the consequences of their irrevocable choice. It thus warns them that they must be careful how and with whom they form connections, which are at once close and indissoluble; but the lesson is not always learned. Some persons marry from improper motives, and some marry carelessly, without knowing anything of those to whom they commit their happiness in this world, and perhaps in the next. They thus unite themselves to persons who are unfit to be husbands or wives. The laws of nature follow their settled course. Misery ensues. Nothing, not even the dissolution of the marriage, can prevent or undo the evil. Yet it is supposed that in particular cases some mitigation may be found in a separation.

Man is generally willing to relieve distress, especially in particular cases which touch his feelings; for he sees things only in their relation to the particular case. He can neither see nor understand the relations of anything to the whole. He would never enforce any inflexible law, because he could not see the beneficial effects of the rule, and would be moved by the sufferings of particular persons. He would never have ordained that marriage should be indissoluble. He sees the evils of ill-assorted marriages in particular cases, and in each case he desires to relieve the sufferers. He cannot see the effect of the inflexible rule upon the whole amount of happiness in the world; to measure that is beyond the compass of the human intellect. Men and women suffer from the consequences of their own guilty imprudence. They earnestly desire to be relieved, and other men desire to relieve them. Human law-makers sympathize with them, and laws are passed providing for the dissolution of marriages.

The framers of such laws forget or deny the Divine institution of marriage, and reason on grounds of human knowledge and experience. They come to the conclusion, that ill-assorted marriages ought to be dissolved, because they see that there are many unhappy marriages. They do not know how many unhappy matches are prevented by the caution which the rule of indissolubleness enforces, or rather, how many would be prevented if the rule were not interfered with. If they did, they could not strike the balance; because no human mind could receive at one time all the particulars and compare them. All human reasoning must be inconclusive on such subjects, for all the facts cannot be collected; and if they could, they would be too many and too various to be dealt with by the human mind. There remains nothing but to rest in faith upon the Divine wisdom, as revealed in God's holy Word. Modern law-makers prefer their own, and so immoral laws will be made. This work is addressed to those who profess to receive God's revelation with faith, and to govern themselves by its precepts.

----A Treatise on the Christian Doctrine of Marriage, by Hugh Davey Evans, New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1870, pp 163-166.


Extracts on the Pre-eminence of Prayer

Francis Asbury on Prayer and Conversation

I called to see Mr. S. and his wife, who was sick, and I introduced a conversation on the benefit of affliction, as a proper means to excite our consideration, and humble us for our past sins. But she began to say, Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth; and seemed inclined to presume that she was in a state of acceptance. This I did not believe, and therefore broke off the conversation abruptly, and went to prayer. They were both extremely affected; and especially Mrs. S. The Lord had touched and broken her heart; so that her thoughts of herself and of the nature of religion were greatly changed; and I left her roaring and crying for mercy.

----The Journal of Francis Asbury; New York: Published by N. Bangs and T. Mason for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1821, pg. 221, (August 17, 1778).

Francis Asbury on Prayer and Reading

It is plain to me the devil will let us read always, if we will not pray; but prayer is the sword of the preacher, the life of the Christian, the terror of hell, and the devil's plague.

----ibid., pg. 25l, (Sept. 20, 1779).

C. H. Spurgeon on Prayer and Preaching

I should like you to preach; but it is best that you pray; many a preacher has proved a castaway; but never one who has truly learned to pray.

----C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Compiled by his wife and his private secretary, London: Passmore and Alabaster, vol. III, 1899, pg. 281, (letter to his son).


The “Reformation Text” and the King James Version

by Glenn Conjurske

Most Christians have some kind of belief in the providential preservation of the text of the Greek New Testament, but that belief is applied in widely varying ways. Some believe that the true text was providentially preserved in a manuscript all but wholly erased, and written over (C), in another which lay neglected for centuries in the Vatican library (B), and in a third which was deposited in a convent wastebasket to be burned, from whence it was rescued by Constantine Tischendorf in the nineteenth century (a), and in a few other very ancient manuscripts. Another school has held that the text which is found generally in the bulk of Greek manuscripts, which were in common use in the Greek church until the invention of printing, is the text providentially preserved by God. John W. Burgon was the foremost advocate of this view in the last century, and in our own generation there are a great many who suppose that they hold Burgon's view, but who in fact hold a view which Burgon had nothing to do with. Ignorance is the reason for this. I design to do nothing more here than to offer them a few facts which will dispel that ignorance, and show them plainly that their view is not Burgon's, and that their view cannot be the truth.

First, it must be understood that though there are hundreds or thousands of Greek manuscripts of the various New Testament books, NO TWO OF THOSE MANUSCRIPTS CONTAIN EXACTLY THE SAME TEXT. The second thing which must be understood is that NO ONE OF THOSE MANUSCRIPTS CONTAINS A TEXT IDENTICAL TO THE TEXT OF ANY PRINTED GREEK NEW TESTAMENT. All of those manuscripts contain a greater or lesser number of errors. Burgon, of course, was fully aware of this, and in the same book in which he sets forth his view of the providential preservation of the Greek text, he says, “But I would especially remind my readers of Bentley's golden precept, that, `The real text of the sacred writers does not now, since the originals have been so long lost, lie in any MS. or edition, but is dispersed in them all.' This truth, which was evident to the powerful intellect of that great scholar, lies at the root of all sound Textual Criticism.”

This dictum was designed by Burgon to militate against the position of those who disregard almost all of the manuscripts, and base the text upon an ancient few, but it is equally against those who think to find the true text in a printed “edition” of the Greek Testament, which is what the Textus Receptus is. They think to follow Burgon, but they reject textual criticism altogether (a study to which Burgon gave the most of his life), and suppose that the printed Textus Receptus is the true providentially preserved text. Their position is that God preserved the Greek text intact in the Greek church before the invention of printing, and that it was then taken up intact by the humanists and Reformers of the sixteenth century, who printed it and translated their vernacular Bibles from it. This was Burgon's doctrine, without question, but there is one very major difference between Burgon's application of it, and the use to which it is put by his would-be followers in the present generation. Burgon never applied his doctrine to any printed Greek New Testament, nor to any single manuscript, but held that the true text was dispersed in all the manuscripts, to be ferreted out and established by patient and painstaking labor, to which he gave much of his life. The present generation, accustomed to expecting to get everything for nothing, is content to dispense with all of the labor, and declare the printed Textus Receptus to be that providentially preserved text. Burgon never thought such a thing, but says explicitly, “I am not defending the `Textus Receptus'; I am simply stating the fact of its existence. That it is without authority to bind, nay, that it calls for skilful revision in every part, is freely admitted. I do not believe it to be absolutely identical with the true Traditional Text.”

Burgon's disciple and the editor of his posthumous works, Edward Miller, affirms, “First, be it understood, that we do not advocate perfection in the Textus Receptus. We allow that here and there it requires revision. In the Text left behind by Dean Burgon [not published], about 150 corrections have been suggested by him in St. Matthew's Gospel alone. What we maintain is the TRADITIONAL TEXT.”

But to state the matter the shortest way, the present generation has taken Burgon's doctrine, which he applied to the “traditional text” as it lay scattered in hundreds of manuscripts, every one of them somewhat diverse from every other, and applied that doctrine to the printed Textus Receptus, which it holds to be “perfect and without error,” as God's preserved text. Such an application betrays ignorance of just about everything involved----ignorance of what Burgon's doctrine really was----ignorance of the fact that no two of the Greek manuscripts are identical to one another----ignorance of the fact that none of the various printed editions of the Textus Receptus are identical to each other----and ignorance of the fact that the King James Version was not translated from the same Greek text which the Reformers and the early English Bibles used.

But not to remain too long in the porch, I proceed to offer a few facts which will prove that the King James Version does not always follow the same Greek text as the Reformers and early English versions used.

In James 4:6 the King James version contains a whole sentence which was absent from the earliest English translations. That sentence is “Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” Neither William Tyndale's first English New Testament, nor any of his three subsequent revisions, ever contained these words. Neither did Coverdale's Bible (1535), nor Matthew's Bible (1537), nor Taverner's Bible (1539). In 1538, however, Coverdale published his Latin-English New Testament, in which he everywhere conformed the English version to the text of the Latin Vulgate. As the Vulgate has this sentence, it of course appears in Coverdale's bilingual Testament. Later editions of the Textus Receptus also contained the sentence, but it was absent from the edition of Erasmus, from which Tyndale translated.

Aside from Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament, the first English Bible to contain the portion was the Great Bible----also the work of Coverdale----in which it appears , however, bracketed, and in small type, as follows:

The sprete yt dwelleth in vs, lusteth euen contrary to enuy: but geueth more grace (wherfore he sayeth: God resisteth the proude, but geueth grace vnto the lowely.)

The Geneva Bible, Bishops' Bible, and King James Version, retained the sentence, but without the marks of doubt.

The reader has doubtless observed that the second half of I John 2:23 is in italics in the King James Bible, and probably wondered why. The italicized words are translated from the Greek oJ oJmologw'n toVn uiJoVn kaiV toVn patevra e[cei. These Greek words, however, do not appear in the common printed editions of the Textus Receptus, such as those of Stephens, Mill, and the Elzevirs, nor were they in the editions of Erasmus, nor Bengel, nor Wetstein, nor von Soden, nor the Majority Text. They do appear in many of the critical editions of the Greek New Testament, such as those of Griesbach, Wordsworth, Alford, Tregelles, Tischendorf, and Westcott and Hort, and they were in the later editions of Beza, whence they came into the King James Version. The clause is also in the Latin Vulgate. So far as the English versions are concerned, there is not a trace of the words in any of Tyndale's New Testaments, nor in Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, or the Geneva New Testament of 1557. The clause being included in the Latin Vulgate, it is of course included in the English column of Coverdale's Latin-English New Testaments of 1538. It is also included in the Great Bible, but in small type in parenthesis, like the clause in James 4:6, which is given above. The Geneva Bible of 1560 gives it in the margin, without note or comment, but some of the later printings of the Geneva Bible dropped it even from the margin. The Bishops' Bible contains it small and bracketed, after the Great Bible. The Roman Catholic Rheims version has it of course, from the Latin Vulgate. The King James version followed the Bishops' Bible, and contains it thus:

23 Whosoeuer denieth the Sonne, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Sonne, hath the Father also.The same thing has happened also at Luke 17:36, “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” This entire verse in the Greek is absent from most editions of the Textus Receptus, as well as from most critical editions, including the Majority Text. In the English versions, it is wholly absent from all of Tyndale's New Testaments, from Coverdale's Bible, Matthew's, Taverner's, and the Geneva New Testament of 1557. It first appeared in English in Coverdale's Latin-English Testaments in 1538, and that, of course, because it is in the Latin Vulgate. Coverdale also incorporated it into the Great Bible in 1539, but in small type and bracketed. The Geneva Bible of 1560 gives it in the margin, without note or comment. Some later printings of the Geneva Bible incorporate it into the text, also without note or comment. The Bishops' Bible has it in the text also. The Rheims New Testament (1582) has it of course, being based on the Vulgate. The King James Version has it in the text, but with this note in the margin: “This .36. verse is wanting in most of the Greek copies.”

For whatever it may be worth, there is not a trace of any of the preceding three passages in Martin Luther's Bible, in any edition published during his lifetime, yet the doctrine we are dealing with should certainly require these verses to appear in Luther's version as well as Tyndale's, if they are the true text. Bear in mind, the doctrine affirms that the Greek text was perfectly preserved by God in the Greek church, and handed over intact to the Reformers in the sixteenth century, who employed it in the making of the Protestant vernacular versions. The fact is, in numerous places the Reformers did not follow the Textus Receptus as we know it, nor did they follow the same text that the King James Version does. If the doctrine is true, it only proves that the Textus Receptus as we know it is not God's preserved text, and that the King James Version is a departure from the text which God is supposed to have given to Luther and Tyndale in Reformation times. Luther and Tyndale translated from the text of Erasmus, which did not contain any of the three above clauses. The King James Version followed later editions of the Greek Testament, such as those of Stephens or Beza, which did contain these clauses.

In John 8:9 there are two phrases which are present in some Greek manuscripts, but absent from others. They are:

kaiV uJpo th'" suneidhvvsew" ejlegcovmenoi, which the King James Version renders “being convicted by their own conscience,” and

e{w" tw'n ejscavtwn, “even unto the last,” in the King James Version.

Concerning the Greek text of the passage:

TheTextus Receptus as we now have it (Stephens----1550), Griesbach, Wordsworth, and Scholz exhibit both of the above portions.

The Majority Text omits the first, and retains the second.

Bengel retains the first, and omits the second.

Bloomfield exhibits the second unmarked, and the first in brackets.

Von Soden exhibits the first unmarked, and the second in brackets.

Alford omits them both, while also printing the whole passage in brackets.

Others, such as Tischendorf and Westcott and Hort, omit the whole passage.

But our primary concern is not with the Greek text, but the English versions. Tyndale's first English Testament omits both portions, reading as follows: “As sone as they herde that/ they went out won by won the eldest fyrst.” All of Tyndale's revisions follow suit, omitting both portions. So do the Bibles of Coverdale, Matthew, and Taverner. So do both the Southwark and Paris editions of Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament. So do all the editions of the Great Bible. The first English New Testament which exhibits either of the portions is the edition of Tyndale's Testament edited by Richard Jugge in 1552, which adds the first phrase, but omits the second. He exhibits the place thus:

And as sone as they hearde that (Beynge accused by their ovvne conscience) they wente oute one by one, the eldeste firste.

On the inserted passage Jugge adds the marginal note, “This is read in the greke testament of Stephanus prynte.” Assuming that he had Stephens' edition of 1550 before him, it is strange that he did not add the second phrase after the same manner, for Stephens had them both. But five years later (in 1557) Jugge's edition was used as the basis of the Geneva New Testament, and in that version both phrases appear without note or comment. So do they in the Geneva Bible three years later, and in the Bishops' Bible eight years after that. (They are both absent from the Rheims New Testament, not being in the Vulgate.) The King James Version, of course, has them both, thus departing again from the Greek text which was supposedly preserved intact in the Greek church, and translated by the Reformers.

There are numerous variations of less note, in which the King James Version does not follow the same Greek text which was used by the Reformers and the early English versions. The familiar “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31) first appeared in the English Bible (in Tyndale's New Testament of 1526) as “Beleve on the lorde Iesus/ and thou shalt be saved”----omitting the word “Christ,” because it was not in the Greek text of Erasmus, from which he translated. This was the reading of all editions of Tyndale's New Testamant. It was also the reading of Coverdale's Bible, and both of his Latin-English New Testaments. It was the reading of Matthew, Taverner, and all the editions of the Great Bible. The first to insert “Christ” in the verse was the Geneva New Testment of 1557, and this was followed by the Geneva Bible, the Bishops' Bible, and the King James Version. “Christ” is inserted in the Greek texts of Stevens (1550), Griesbach, Bloomfield, Wordsworth, and the Majority Text. It is omitted by Bengel, Lachmann, Tregelles, Tischendorf, Alford, and Westcott and Hort, with the manuscripts aAB.

In James 2:18 the Textus Receptus (Stephens, 1550) reads, “Show me thy faith BY thy works, and I will show thee my faith BY my works,” the Greek having the preposition ejk in both cases. This was also the reading of all of Tyndale's editions, and of Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, the Great Bible, the Geneva New Testament of 1557, and the Bishops' Bible, all of which have “by” in both places in the verse. The Geneva Bible of 1560, however, altered the first “by” to “out of” in the text, and gave “without” in the margin. It is probable that they still read ejk in the Greek, and only altered the translation, for I suppose they would have had “without” in the text if they had read cwriv" in the Greek. The King James Version, however, has “without” in the text, unquestionably abandoning the Greek ejk of all the early versions, for the reading cwriv", for upon “without thy workes” they have a marginal note which says, “Some copies reade, by thy workes.” I need only add that Coverdale's Latin-English Testaments of 1538 also read “without” and “by” in the verse, following the Vulgate, which has sine and ex.

In Luke 2:22 several editions of the Textus Receptus, as well as the Majority Text and most critical editions, read “their purification.” This is also the reading of all of Tyndale's Testaments, Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, and the Great Bible. It is also the reading of the Southwark edition of Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament, which has eorum in the Latin, with little support. The Paris edition, however, which alone was printed under Coverdale's personal supervision, has “her purification”----eius in the Latin----this being the only version in English before 1560 which so reads. In 1557 the ultra-Protestant Geneva New Testament appeared, which read “Maries (that is, Mary's) purification”----a bold alteration with no support at all from manuscripts, and an obvious attempt to shield the Lord from the imputation of any need for purification. The Geneva Bible of 1560 reads “her purification,” with “their” in the margin. Needless to say, “her” and “their” cannot be merely alternate translations of the same Greek word, but are translations of two different Greek readings. The Complutensian Greek Testament, and the editions of Beza, read “her” here, against all the other editions of the Textus Receptus, which have “their.” The Bishops' Bible and the King James Version also read “her,” without note or comment, thus abandoning the text of Tyndale and the earlier versions. Again, the question which must be kept constantly in mind here is, If the Greek text was preserved without corruption in the Greek church, and handed intact to the Reformers to be printed and translated by them, why then did the King James Version abandon that text in these sundry places? The plain fact is, either the text of the early Protestant versions was defective, or the text of the King James Version is defective, and whichever is the case, the doctrine of a perfectly preserved text in the Textus Receptus and the English Bible is overthrown.

William Tyndale's first New Testament (1526), in I John 3:1 reads, “For this cause the worlde knoweth you not.” Most editions of the Textus Receptus, however, have “us” for “you,” and so has every other Greek New Testament which I have checked, with the sole exception of the Majority Text. Nevertheless, “you” is the reading in this verse in all of Tyndale's New Testaments, in Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, the Great Bible, the Geneva New Testament, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishops' Bible of 1568. Coverdale's Latin-English Testaments of 1538, however, have “us” after the Vulgate, as (of course) has the Rheims New Testament of 1582. The 1572 revision of the Bishops' Bible also abandoned the reading of the earlier versions, and reads “us,” as does the King James Version.

In Matthew 26:26, some manuscripts read eujloghvsa", “having blessed,” while others read eujcaristhvsa", “having given thanks.” “Blessed” is the reading of most editions of the Greek New Testament, including Stephens-1550, Bengel, Griesbach, Wordsworth, Alford, Tischendorf, Westcott & Hort, and von Soden. The other reading I have found only in Bloomfield and the Majority Text. The early English Bibles, however, follow the latter reading, all of them without exception reading “gave thanks,” “when he had given thanks,” or the same with some slight variation in wording. This is the reading of all of Tyndale's New Testaments, Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, Coverdale's Latin-English New Testaments, the Great Bible, the Geneva New Testament, the Geneva Bible, and the Bishops' Bible. The first English translation to adopt the reading “blessed” was the Roman Catholic Rheims New Testament (1582), and it has a long controversial note on the word, making it an effectual and sacramental blessing. When the King James translators, then, adopted this reading, rendering it “Iesus took bread, and blessed it,” they were in fact abandoning the text of every previous Protestant version of the Bible in English. They evidently had some misgivings about so doing, for on the word “blessed” they have a marginal note which says, “Many Greeke copies haue, gaue thanks.”

Other examples could be given, but there is no need. The existence of one such example is enough to prove that the King James Version did not follow a Greek text identical with that used by Luther and Tyndale and the other early Protestant English Bibles. If this modern doctrine is true, and the Greek text was actually preserved in perfection in the Greek church, and delivered up intact to the Reformers to be translated by them, then we have abundantly proved that the King James Version often deliberately departed from that perfectly preserved “Reformation Text.” If it be supposed that the King James Version is translated from the true text (perforce, because it is God's perfect Bible), then it is proved that the text given to the Reformers by the Greek church, and translated by them into German, English, etc., was not perfectly preserved by God. In either case, this modern doctrine of preservation falls to the ground.

If these folks would contend only that the “Reformation Text” is generally trustworthy, we would have little to say to them. This is all that Burgon contended for, and this is all that even David Otis Fuller contended for in his saner moments, for he speaks of “the hundreds of Greek manuscripts which agreed with the Received Text, on which the King James Version was founded, in 90 to 95 percent of their contents.” But if those manuscripts agree with the Textus Receptus in only 90 or 95 per cent of their contents, this is a very far cry from any perfect preservation of the text, for this would mean that the printed Textus Receptus would differ from the providentially preserved text of the manuscripts in one or two words out of every twenty----or, roughly speaking, in a word or two in every verse of the New Testament. The agreement is actually closer than that. But no matter about that, for the fact is, the agreement is not perfect, either between the manuscripts and the printed Textus Receptus, or between the manuscripts themselves, nor between the various printed editions of the Textus Receptus, nor between the King James Version and the manuscripts, nor between the King James Version and any edition of the Textus Receptus. There is much disagreement in all of these categories, and any disagreement in any of these categories is fatal to the modern doctrine of the perfect preservation of the text.


The Deceived Multitude
at the End of the Thousand Years

by Glenn Conjurske

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Rev. 20:7-9).

This great multitude who are thus deceived by the devil are every one of them souls who have lived under all of the blessings of the personal reign of Christ upon the earth. Yet one thing is plain concerning all of them: they are ungodly. When the devil is loosed out of his pit for “a little season” (verse 3), he finds a ready following on the earth. He finds a great multitude whose hearts are open to his deceptions, and who readily gather to his banner, to make war with the King of kings, and the glorified saints who reign with him. Whence comes this ungodly multitude?

Observe, when the thousand years began, they began without a single ungodly person upon the earth. The ungodly are all destroyed at the coming of Christ, and only the godly enter the kingdom. This is plain from numerous scriptures:

“For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” (Mal. 4:1-2).

“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:12).

“As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. 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 as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt 13:40-43).

“So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.” (Matt. 13:49-50).

“Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. ... Then shall he say also unto them on his left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matt. 25:34 & 41).

It is clear in all of this that the godly only shall enter the kingdom of Christ at his coming, all the ungodly being then destroyed. We ask again, then, if only the godly people the earth at the beginning of Christ's reign, whence comes this great multitude of ungodly people at the end of it? There is only one possible answer to this question. This ungodly multitude comes from among those who are born on the earth during the thousand years of Christ's reign. They are the offspring of the godly who first inherit the kingdom at Christ's coming, but with the passing of generations for a thousand years, many there will be who love not the truth, nor the God of their fathers, and who live ungodly under the very reign of Christ. They will be outwardly subject to the righteous rule of Christ, for they must be, since he will reign in righteousness, with a rod of iron. Nevertheless, sin will yet reign in their hearts, and the very restraint to which they have been required to submit under Christ's reign will give them the more ready ear for the devil's solicitations to “break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” This, I repeat, is the only possible explanation of the existence of this vast ungodly multitude at the close of Christ's personal reign. Nor have I ever heard of a premillennialist in our day to teach anything else on the subject. But there are some important implications of these facts, which post-tribulational premillennialists seem to be altogether unaware of.

The first of those implications is this: that the saints who inherit the kingdom when Christ returns to establish it in the earth are not glorified nor resurrected saints, but mortal men in natural bodies, who live in natural bodies under Christ's reign, marrying and begetting sons and daughters. Were this not so, that ungodly multitude could have no existence. It has been often pointed out by premillennialists that the judgement of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 is the judgement of the living. There is no resurrection in the passage. It is a judgement of living men on the earth, as soon as the Son of man has come in his glory, and set the throne of his glory upon the earth. It issues in the wicked who then live being consigned to perdition, and the living righteous inheriting the kingdom. Does any premillennialist doubt this? Is any premillennialist willing to return to the days of prophetic darkness of two centuries ago, when premillennialists like John Gill (1697-1771) taught a millennial kingdom which consisted of the glorified saints reigning with Christ on the earth, but reigning over nobody? After insisting that the millennial reign takes place after the resurrection, and on the earth, Gill thus describes that reign:

“This supposes dominion over all their enemies; as Christ will now have all enemies put under his feet, being subdued by him; so all enemies will be put under the feet of the saints, and they will have dominion over them. Sin will now be no more troublesome to them. Their power over sin, in the present state, is expressed rather negatively, by sin not having dominion over them; than affirmatively, by their having dominion over sin; nay, they are sometimes so far from it, that they are brought into captivity by it; but now the struggle for dominion will be over, the warfare will be accomplished, and an entire victory obtained over sin, which will be no more. Satan, and his principalities and powers, though spoiled and bruised by Christ, and triumphed over by him, yet he greatly disturbs and distresses them; but now he will be bruised under their feet also; when he, and his angels, shall be shut up in the bottomless pit, where they will remain during the thousand years Christ and his saints shall reign together in the world, in which the saints have now so much tribulation; and the wicked men of it, from whom they meet with so much persecution, in one shape or another, shall be trodden down by them, and be ashes under the soles of their feet, their bodies being burnt up in the general conflagration; and their souls in no capacity to hurt or molest them, being shut up with Satan in the bottomless pit. The last enemy, death, will now be destroyed, being swallowed up in victory, by the resurrection of the dead; so that the risen saints, reigning with Christ, may say, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? and, indeed of this, and every other enemy, they may say, Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Now it must plainly appear that such a reign is no real reign at all, but is entirely figurative. Upon this scheme we have “all chiefs, and no Indians.” We have all kings, and none for them to reign over. Upon this scheme, “Have thou authority over ten cities,” and “Be thou also over five cities,” (Luke 19:17 & 19) must be spiritualized into nothing. And that is exactly what Gill does with it: “have thou authority over ten cities: which is to be understood, not in a literal sense, as if the apostles should have the jurisdiction over so many cities, or churches in so many cities among the Gentiles, after the destruction of Jerusalem, which were planted by their means and ministry: for nothing of this kind appears in the word of God: and much less after the second coming of Christ, shall faithful ministers of the word have power over so many cities, literally taken; for both in the kingdom-state and in the ultimate glory, there will be but one beloved city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem: nor is any thing in particular, in a metaphorical sense, intended: only in general, that the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of it, will be given unto them; and they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years; and shall also have a crown of glory, life, and righteousness bestowed on them, and shall sit on the throne with Christ; and besides all this, the persons they have been instrumental to, will be their joy, and crown of rejoicing.”

On this scheme we must also spiritualize into nothing “Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt. 19:28). Gill of course does spiritualize this, making “the regeneration” refer to the present gospel dispensation, and the twelve thrones “a metaphorical phrase, setting forth the honour, dignity, and authority of their office and ministry.” Will any premillennialist today return to such darkness?

But to come to our point, on this scheme the glorified saints reign over nobody. They reign over sin and death, but over no persons or cities or tribes. Their reign is entirely figurative. And on this scheme, since the only persons present during that reign are the glorified saints themselves, there is no way to account for the existence of that vast ungodly multitude who will follow the devil's banner when he is loosed out of the pit at the close of Christ's reign. But Gill must yet exercise his ingenuity over that multitude, with this result: “Some think that the wicked living in the distant parts of the world, in the corners of the earth, are meant, who, upon Christ's coming, will flee thither, and remain in continual dread and terror to the end of the thousand years, when Satan will gather them together, and spirit them up against the saints; but this cannot be, becuase they'll all be destroyed at the universal conflagration of the world; nor will there be any in the new earth but righteous persons: but these will be all the wicked dead, the rest of the dead, who lived not again until the thousand years are ended, when will be the second resurrection, the resurrection of all the wicked that have been from the beginning of the world; and these, with the posse of devils under Satan, will make up the Gog and Magog army.”

To such is Gill driven by his doctrine of a millennial earth peopled by glorified saints only. But this scheme contains nothing to recommend it. Who would dream, did his system not require it, that the devil going “out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth” could possibly mean his going out to raise the wicked dead, who have lived since the foundation of the world? Nay, there is no resurrection here, any more than at the judgement of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25. And we were just told, five verses before, that the devil was bound a thousand years, “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” There his deceiving the nations can only mean deceiving living men upon the earth. How, in five verses, is this transmuted into raising the dead? And are we then to believe that fire comes down from heaven to devour these resurrected reprobates, only that they might immediately be again raised again, by God, at the great white throne judgement?

But all of this confusion is immediately dispelled by the recognition of the simple fact that those who enter the kingdom are not resurrected and glorified saints, but the saints who are alive in natural bodies at the coming of Christ. And the recognition of this fact is fatal to the post-tribulational system. If the saints who are alive at Christ's coming to earth are raptured and glorified at that time, and enter the kingdom only in the resurrection state, while at the same time the wicked are burned up as chaff, leaving them neither root nor branch, then it is simply impossible to account for the existence of this ungodly multitude at the end of the thousand years. They cannot be begotten by resurrected and glorified saints. Of course we believe that the resurrected saints will enter the kingdom also. They have been previously raptured and glorified, and will come with Christ when he comes to reign, and will enter the kingdom along with the saints who enter it in their natural bodies. The latter are those saints who live to the close of the seventieth week of Daniel and the reign of antichrist, and are not raptured and glorified at the coming of Christ, but enter the kingdom alive in their natural state. These, and their offspring for a thousand years, will be the subjects of the kingdom, in which the resurrected saints will reign. This is all too clear to be gainsaid, and again I ask all post-tribulationists, if the saints who live through the reign of antichrist are raptured and glorified ere they enter the kingdom, whence comes that ungodly multitude who follow the devil's banner at the close of the thousand years?

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

Sam Jones

Sam Jones (1847-1906) lived at a time when the church in general, and the Methodist church in particular (to which he belonged), was on the skids, sliding into worldliness and modernism and spiritual death. He was no doubt somewhat influenced by the times in which he lived, and in some matters there is a looseness of principle in him which we are sorry to see, yet he was a powerful preacher of righteousness, standing strongly for the old paths as far as he understood them. He was a great preacher, and a great man, combining in himself the essential elements of greatness: simplicity, sincerity, earnestness, and originality. Like J. Frank Norris, he was a unique and very colorful personality, and what would be called a “sensational” preacher. A newspaper editor once insulted him with the taunt that the newspapers had “made” him. Jones told him to go make another one. He used humor, sarcasm, and ridicule very freely, and such sayings as “Politicians have no more heart than a Florida alligator or a society woman” were the usual fare with him. He was coarse at times, sometimes provoking modest women to leave the house----yet his wife regarded him as the greatest thing walking the earth, as is transparent in her biography of him. He apologized to nobody for his utterances, but said, “If any one thinks he can't stand the naked truth rubbed on a little thicker and faster than he ever had it before, he'd better get out of here.”

Books by Jones are hard enough to find, and all of my years of searching have turned up only a few. The first I found was Sermons and Sayings by the Rev. Sam P. Jones, edited by W. M. Leftwich. This book grew out of his great Nashville meetings in 1885, which raised him to national fame. I have the fourth edition, published in London in 1890 by R. D. Dickinson.

Another early book of his sermons is Sermons by Rev. Sam P. Jones, as Stenographically Reported and Delivered in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville, Waco and Other Cities; with a History of his Life, by Theodore M. Smith. This is a substantial book of 574 pages, published in 1886.

While I lived in Grand Rapids I found at Baker's the second volume of Sam Jones' Sermons, published in 1886 in Chicago by Rhodes and McClure----a secular establishment which published whatever would sell, from Abe Lincoln to D. L. Moody to Bob Ingersoll. There must have been a good market for Sam Jones' sermons, and doubtless thousands of these books went forth from this publishing house, complete with a pious preface. I wonder where all of these books are today. I never saw the first volume of this set until I had left Grand Rapids. I stepped into a secondhand store in Madison, and found a copy of it in very good condition, in the familiar ornate, silver-stamped, dark blue cover of the Rhodes and McClure publications. I asked the price, and was told I could have it for nothing. Books seldom go for more than a dime or a quarter at secondhand stores, and are probably usually regarded as a nuisance by the merchants. This man was probably glad to get rid of a book, but not as glad as I was to obtain it. These two volumes have one valuable peculiarity, in that they everywhere record the responses of the audience, such as “Laughter” or “Applause.” J. S. Ogilvie and Company was another secular publisher to capitalize upon Sam Jones' fame, and must publish Sermons by Sam Jones and Sam Small, complete with a pious subtitle announcing “The Latest Sermons by These Blessed Workers in the Field”----a small book of 127 pages, in a uniform series with such gems as Hilda's Lover, A Midnight Marriage, and A Woman's Vengeance, “for sale on all trains,” and “at all book and news stores.” There were plenty of Jones' sermons available for publication, as most of them were printed verbatim in the morning papers, and in some cases stenographers and telegraph operators were kept busy through the night, so that his sermons could be printed in other cities the next morning.

Lightning Flashes and Thunderbolts, compiled by J. S. Shingler, is a record of Jones's preaching in Savannah, Georgia, in 1901. It was published, in paperback, in 1912 by the Pentecostal Publishing Co. of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones, by his wife, assisted by Sam's co-worker Walt Holcomb, is a biography of 464 large pages, published in 1907----an excellent book, full of details, and telling us just about everything we could wish to know about the man. This book contains numerous photographs, including a couple of rare portraits of Sam in his later years, and the only good picture I have ever found of E. O. Excell. It has lately been reprinted in paperback. The same Walt Holcomb, who assisted Jones' wife in the production of this book, also wrote Sam Jones, a biography of 192 pages published in 1947, and valuable, of course, coming from a man who knew Jones well, and containing his personal reminiscences.

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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.