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Vol. 3, No. 1
Jan., 1994

The Husband is the Head of the Wife

by Glenn Conjurske

A Sermon preached on October 22, 1989. Recorded, transcribed, and Revised.

[Though the following sermon gives no quarter to modern attempts to equalize the sexes, but affirms in no uncertain terms the real headship of the husband, yet it is probable that the reader will find it other than what might be expected from the title. The women who have heard this sermon have expressed only appreciation for it. One woman who heard it preached on the above date told me immediately afterwards, “I have been praying for that sermon for four years.”----editor.]

Open your Bibles to the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians. Beginning at verse twenty-one we read, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

I am going to speak to you on the statement in verse twenty-three, “the husband is head of the wife.” I'm going to speak on this for two reasons. One is because it's the truth of God. The other is because I believe there is a need for it. I believe there is a need for it throughout the church and the world today, and there is a need for it right here in this congregation. We live in a very soft age in which softness has become a virtue, in which masculinity has been taken out of men, (and femininity out of women), and in which husbands don't know how to be heads to their wives.

I believe that it has become a rather rare thing in the world today to see a husband who is really head of his wife. The world tends to like it that way. We don't have headship any more in marriage. We have partnership. People profess, “No, the husband isn't the head over the wife. We are a partnership, and we're happy. We like it this way.” But I'll tell you two things concerning that. You may be happy in such a situation, but God isn't happy. The second thing is: you may be happy, but you're not near as happy as you could be if the husband were really head of the wife. God's ways work. God's ways are for our own good, and the world's ways do not work, and they are not either for our eternal good, or our present happiness. You may say, “Well, what harm is there if we have a partnership in our marriage?” And you may point to examples of what you may call “good marriages,” even where the wife is the head, and where they are apparently happy, and where things apparently run smoothly, and say, “What harm is there in it?” And I say, I don't know what harm there is in it, in that particular case you're talking about, but we are to be governed by truth, not consequences. Even if I cannot point out to you what the harm of it is, and even if you cannot point out to me what the harm of it is, I believe that there is harm in it, because God's ways are better than man's. Man is not wiser than God. The reason that we husbands are to be heads over our wives is not primarily because of the good that it's going to do for our wives, but because God said so. God created the man to be the head over his wife, and I am to take that place of headship, not because of the consequences that will be involved if I don't, nor because of the consequences which will accrue if I do, but because God says so. Nevertheless, it is for our good to obey God.

Now in the fifth chapter of the book of Ephesians, in the twenty-third verse we read, “For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Now we hear a good deal of preaching in modern Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism about wives submitting to their husbands. And this is as it should be. It's Bible. It ought to be preached, but I want to suggest to you that a wife cannot submit to her husband if he doesn't require anything of her. Christ is the head over the church, and requires unconditional, absolute submission to himself on the part of the church, but he gives us something to submit to. He requires something of us. In other words Christ is a head to the church, and not a figurehead. He requires something of the church. And I will say in the second place, he doesn't require easy things. Most of the things that Christ requires of his bride are hard things----very hard things. He says, for example, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” And he says, “If any man come after me and hate not father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Christ requires things of his body, and he requires hard things. In other words, what I'm saying is, Christ is not soft on you. If you belong to his bride, he is not soft on you, and he does not let you do whatever you please to do. He has a purpose, and that purpose is not merely to please you, or to make you happy. Now he wants to make you happy, but he takes the long way around to make you happy. He makes you happy by making you holy. He doesn't make you happy by allowing self-indulgence. He commands self-denial. He does not baby his church. He does not pamper his church. And he does not seek by any and every means to please his church. He seeks to make us what we ought to be. Now that is the business of a husband. It says in this verse, Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church.” In the same manner in which Christ is the head of the church, the husband is the head of the wife. And Christ is not soft on his church. He doesn't baby us. He doesn't pamper us. He requires hard things of us. And by the way, he enforces his requirements.

Now the head, in the nature of the case, makes the decisions. The head leads. The head rules. We'll talk about that a little further in a minute. But I want to say that I think there is a deficiency not only in the world and in the neo-evangelical church, but I think there is a deficiency right here in this congregation in this respect. It is not the business of the head merely to give approval to the ideas of the body. It's the head's business to do the thinking. It's the head's business to lead. It's the head's business to make the decisions, not merely to put his stamp of approval on the body's decisions. The head is not to follow the body around. The head leads the body. Sometimes I wish I could plant a tape recorder in some of the houses of some of the folks in this congregation, and let some of you wives listen to the way you give orders to your husbands. In fact, I believe that if some wives would give orders to their children the same way they do to their husbands, the children might even shape up. Well, you do hear it----you do hear the way you talk to your husbands----but you seem to be unaware of the fact that you are doing anything wrong.

I do not mean that the body ought never to initiate anything, or suggest anything, or to plead or protest. To use God's own illustration of the head and the body, the fact is, your body sends a thousand suggestions to your head every day. Stomach says, “I'm hungry.” Head says, “Let's eat.” Shoulders say, “We're cold.” Head says, “I'll put on a jacket.” And if the fingers are shut in the car door, those fingers send constant, impassioned demands to the head, and the head does not feel it is giving up its dignity or its authority if it says, “Open that door, and take care of those fingers.” “No man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth it and cherisheth it,” and of course the head consults the needs of the body. A French proverb says, “Love is the rule of women,” and a man who loves his wife is no more afraid or ashamed to be ruled by her needs than the head is to be ruled by the needs of the body. Love isn't ashamed to yield to a large segment of her whims, either----delights to do so, in fact. But still the head is the head. The head decides where the lines are to be drawn. The head takes the lead, and determines the course.

Now I want you to turn back to the third chapter of the book of Genesis, and we're going to read about the judgement that God prescribed for the woman because of her sin. It says in verse sixteen, “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Now, it's a legitimate question which you can ask, whether Adam was meant to rule over Eve before they sinned. I really think so. I think the man is the head of the woman by creation, not just as a result of sin. But nevertheless, since the fall, it is certain. It is the husband's position to rule over the wife. Now it may be that folks who have been raised in our American democratic libertine society----we don't like to be ruled over. Nobody wants to be ruled over, and wives may not want their husbands to rule over them. But nevertheless the Bible prescribes, “He shall rule over thee.” Now to “rule over thee” is not merely to put his stamp of approval on your decisions, and to let you run the house, and he give his stamp of approval to everything that you do. The husband is to rule----to make the decisions, to lead the way, to determine what's to be done, because “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.” Christ really rules over the church. Christ really prescribes what is to be done. He doesn't leave it for us to decide what we want to do, and merely put his stamp of approval upon it. He tells us what to do. He is the head. He rules. And “as Christ is the head over the church, so the husband is head over the wife.” Now I want you to understand, I feel a little sorry for wives who have it preached to them from Fundamental pulpits, “You must submit to your husbands,” when the husbands aren't giving the wives anything to submit to. They're not taking the lead. They're not ruling over her. They're not making the decisions. It's as though we're going to our Lord to know what his will is, and every time we go to him, and ask him his will, and seek his wisdom, and say, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” he says, “Do whatever you like.” We don't have such a head over the church, and men ought not to be such a head over their wives.

But the next thing I want you to understand is that these things which I am preaching are not hard sayings. A wife's happiness is bound up in her husband ruling over her. Though it was as a result of her sin that God said to the woman, “Your husband shall rule over you,” yet it's for her good that it should be so----just as much as it's for the man's good that he should eat bread by the sweat of his face. It was a discipline put upon him for his sin, but nevertheless, it's good for him. It's for his happiness. You know the man that is on welfare is not happy like the man that is eating bread by the sweat of his face. I believe that it is for the woman's good that her husband should really be a head to her. I believe it's for her happiness.

Now back to Ephesians chapter five. This does not mean that a husband should be an autocrat, and do as he pleases without consulting his wife's wishes. Of course it doesn't mean that. Verse twenty-five says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.”

Christ's love for the church, of course, moves him to consider her best interest. It does not move him to be soft on her, because it is not for the best interest of the church that Christ should be soft on it. He has a purpose, and that purpose is to sanctify his church. In other words, Christ rules over the church in such a way as to bring her to do as she ought, not to allow her to do as she pleases. And a husband's headship over his wife ought to accomplish exactly the same thing. Christ is in the business of taking this church of his and making it something that's worth something to him----making it a glory to him, a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle, so that when he sits on the throne of his glory, his church may be there with him, and be a glory to him. The way that he accomplishes that is not by softness. He requires something of his church, and he requires some hard things. He seeks her good, not merely her pleasure. Our love for our wives will certainly move us to seek their best interest, but it will not move us to be soft. And by the way, I am not using the word “softness” as an opposite of hardness, or harshness. I'm using the word “softness” as the opposite of firmness. Christ is firm with his church. He requires hard things. When a young man comes to him and says, “Lord, I'll follow thee withersoever thou goest,” he says, “Foxes have holes, and the birds have nests, but the Son of man has not where to lay his head. I want you to understand what you're getting into here.” Another man comes and says, “I'll follow you wherever you go, only let me go first and bury my father.” And he says, “Let the dead bury the dead: you go and preach the gospel.” That was a hard thing he was requiring. He is not soft----he's firm. He consults your good, not merely your pleasure, and a husband ought to do exactly the same for his wife.

A husband, then, will distinguish between his wife's whims and her needs. I don't mean a husband should never grant his wife's whims, but he shouldn't let her live on them. I believe in ravishing your wife's heart with love----with treats and sweets and dainties and delicacies and flowers and sweet nothings----with whatever the ingenuity of love can devise to make a feminine heart feel loved. But that's not the same thing as being soft and indulgent with her. And all of this applies equally to raising children, by the way. A husband's love will make him soft-hearted, tender-hearted, but not soft-headed. You don't want softness in a head. I had a landlord once who had quite a few tenants, and he was very soft on them. He had tenants who would go for months without paying their rent. He had tenants who would not pay their bills, and he, the landlord, would get stuck with his tenants' bills, because they didn't pay them. Now the fact of the matter is, this man was very soft-hearted. He felt sorry for these people. They were having financial difficulties, and he felt sorry for them, and did everything he could----bent over backwards to help them out, and was extremely soft. And you know what? He didn't do them a bit of good! They did him a great deal of harm. But he didn't do them any good by softness. He confirmed them in all their deficiencies of character. And that is exactly what you men do when you're soft on your wives. The head is not to be soft. You may have the softest heart you please, and I hope you do. The head, though, is not made to be soft. Softness is no favor, either to your wife, or to your children. Instead of sanctifying them, and making them such that they will be your glory and joy, as Christ is seeking to do with his bride, you confirm them in all their worst traits of character.

Years ago I knew a couple----in fact, I was quite close to them for a while----an older couple, and this woman had gained ten pounds a year for twelve years. I don't know if she was overweight when she started, but for twelve years she gained ten pounds a year. And she used to talk very freely about it, and she would always say, “John warned me. It's my own fault. I have nobody to blame but myself. John warned me over and over again.” Now I suggest it was not John's business to warn her, it was his business to rule over her. His business was to be her head, not her conscience. His business was not to warn her, but to require something of her, and to make sure she did it. That's the business of a head. Now I think I know a little bit about ladies (and about men, too), and I have a suspicion that if instead of warning her, this husband had laid down the law to her, she would have put up a great fuss. She would have said, “Oh, John, you're being hard on me. You're being unreasonable. You're being impossible.” Isn't that what ladies do when you lay down the law to them? They know how to do it, and they know how to weep a flood of tears in the process----just like you do when God requires something hard of you. But still, if God requires it, he requires it, and won't back down for your crying.

The problem is most men back down, and give in, and instead of being a head to their wives, they let their wives be a head to themselves. But don't misunderstand me. There is nothing more sacred on earth to a man's heart than a woman's tears, and there are times when men are unreasonable, and when they ought to back down. But there are also times when they ought to stand firm, even against a river of tears, and it is the head's place to understand and determine what those times are. And let me tell you this: when you are soft, and give in to your wife's whims, and give in to her pleadings, she may love you to pieces for letting her have her pleasure, and do as she pleases, but I'll tell you, she will love you ten times more for your firmness, if you lay down the law, and require something of her.

I believe I know women that well, and I believe there are probaby women here that are saying “Amen” in their hearts. She may love you for your softness, but she'll love you ten times more for your firmness.

There's another thing involved, though. She may love you for your softness, but she won't respect you. If you're firm, and require of her what she ought to do, she will not only love you, but she will respect you and admire you. And I will tell you, I have heard women talk about their husbands, when their husbands have been firm with them, and laid down the law, even in something which was not easy to do, and I could feel the ADMIRATION in the very tone of voice. Women want a head----a real head, and not a mere figurehead. They may protest, and they may plead, and they may tell you you're unreasonable, but if you stand firm, they will admire and respect you as well as love you. The husband that warned his wife, instead of putting his foot down and requiring something of her, he didn't do her any good. He could have. He could have been firm with her, and quit warning her, and put his foot down. He could have said, “Not one grain of sugar will ever pass between your lips until you get down to your proper weight. And that means no candy, and no ice cream, and no cakes, and no pies, no applesauce, and no jam on your toast, and no syrup on your waffles”----and she would have admired him for it. And she wouldn't have loved him any less. She would have loved him more, because he would have made her what she ought to be----and what in her heart of hearts she wanted to be----instead of just indulging her pleasures.

I have seen some cases where husbands have put down their foot, and acted as a head. And I have seen the very salutary effect it had upon the wives. I knew another couple once, who did not have a good marriage. We were at their house one time, and I was sitting in the living room talking with the husband. The wife was in the kitchen with my wife. The husband and I were making plans for something in the near future, and the wife walked into the room, and said, “You might as well not plan, because I'm not going to be here. I'm leaving.” She said, “I've had it. I have no joy in this marriage. I have nothing to stay here for. I'm taking the car tomorrow, and I'm going home to my mother.” Well, we were dumbfounded. We sat there in silence for a full half hour. She had spoken her piece, and gone back to the kitchen. We sat in absolute silence for half an hour. Finally, the husband stood up, and he said to his wife, “You're not going anywhere.” He said, “I'm going to fix the car so it won't run, and you aren't going anywhere.” Do you know what her response was? She said, “I'm glad. It makes me secure. It makes me feel like I'm wanted.” Now you understand he was requiring a hard thing of her, when she had just gotten through saying, “I have no joy here. I have no reason to stay here. There's nothing in this marriage, and I've had it.” He was requiring a hard thing of her when he said, “You're not going anywhere.” But he was requiring her to do what was right, and she was glad. It gave her some security, and you know the wife needs that.

Turn to the third chapter of First Peter. It tells you in First Peter chapter 3, in verse 7, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.” The wife is the weaker vessel. You may debate all you please about what this means----about how the wife is the weaker vessel. But when you're done debating it will remain a fact that the wife is the weaker vessel. She needs somebody to lean on. She needs somebody to look up to. She needs a head. She needs somebody to follow. She needs somebody to revolve around. She needs all of this. I don't mean that she needs someone to look after her as a child does. I'm not talking about anything like that. I'm talking about the inward need of her heart. The same scripture which tells her that her husband shall rule over her tells her also, “Thy DESIRE shall be toward thy husband.” It belongs to feminine nature to need this. But unfortunately, in our day it's very often the other way around. The wife is doing the leading, and the husband is following. The husband revolves around the wife. And, by the way, when you see that situation, you often see in the same families that the husband and wife both revolve around the children. It ought not to be. The wife ought to revolve around the husband, and the children around their parents. The woman was created for the purpose of being a help suited to her husband, and her earthly fulfillment (her happiness, that is) is bound up in fulfilling the purpose for which she was created. God did not create a square peg to fit into a round hole, but gave her a nature which does find its fulfillment in the purpose for which he made her.

When Billy Sunday died, (his wife relates this), she went into the room where his body lay, and put her forehead on his cold, dead arm, and cried out to God, and she said, “God, if you have anything on earth left for me to do, you'll have to show me what it is, because Billy was my whole job.” Now the fact is, he was her whole life. That's where a woman's real happiness is. Every old maid could tell you that, but some wives haven't discovered it. A lot of wives have discovered it, though, and their hearts are crying out for a real head, and it is for their sakes that I am preaching this sermon this morning. The wife is the weaker vessel, and she needs a head. God created her that way, and he created the man to be her head. She needs somebody that's bigger and stronger than she is, somebody to look up to and lean upon. I read an account once upon a time in some secular magazine----and I do something of that nature once in a while, for I am always studying human nature----stories of some of these career women, and, of course, this was the modern feminist movement glorying in its shame. But one of these women unwittingly revealed the real feminine nature which lay buried under this perverted feminism. She was a truck driver, and one thing that she said impressed me. She drove big trucks, and she said, “A good truck is like a good man. It's big, and strong, and it takes you where you want to go.” Now, that is the kind of a man that women want. They may protest. They may pretend that they want a partner that they can be on an equality with, but in their heart of hearts, they want somebody that's bigger and stronger----somebody that they can look up to, and somebody that they can obey----somebody that will lead them, and make them what they ought to be.

Now in verse 6 of First Peter 3 we read, “Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” This is almost like a strange tongue to the modern society and the modern church. Can you imagine women calling their husbands “lord”? And obeying them? I'm not suggesting that you husbands require your wives to call you “lord.” That would be petty, and I would have nothing to do with it, but you ought to act as a head. Give her something that she can look up to, as the church looks up to the Lord.

Now women need such a head over them, but they can't create one. A man has to be a head. But women are strange creatures. They have little games that they play, and when you begin to act as a head to your wife, when you begin to be firm with her, and require something of her, and especially if you begin to require some hard things of her, she will protest and put up a fuss, and tell you you're being unreasonable, and all sorts of things. Lots of women will do that. It's a little game that they play. I'm not sure why they do it. Maybe because they like to be soft on themselves, as we all do. And she may pretend that she wants a big, soft, stuffed teddy bear for a husband----but in her heart of hearts, she wants a man. She wants a man that's bigger and stronger than she is. She wants a head. That is one of the deepest needs of her being. And men, by your softness you rob your wife of that. Instead of giving her a man to follow, you give her a puppy dog to lead around. When I see such a case, when I see a wife ordering her husband around, or leading him around, I feel pity for the wife, but I rather feel contempt for the husband. I heard a sermon from another preacher once----don't even know what his name was----but he said, “You men who let your wives lead you around, you ought to go jump off a bridge, and let your wife marry a man.” A woman wants a man, with a backbone, that can stand straight and strong, and be a head to her. I have seen women who are, in the depths of their soul, crying out for a man with a backbone, that will be a head to them. They feel that they are the weaker vessel, and in that weakness which belongs to femininity they feel their need to have a man to lean on. But in order to have a man to lean on, they have to prop him up first, so that they can lean on him. What do I mean by that? I mean that when the wife is struggling with something in her character, something that she needs to straighten out, and she needs a man to lean on, and a man to be a head to her, and be firm with her, and require something of her----she has to first prop him up, because he doesn't have enough backbone of his own to be able to stand firm, and she has to require him to require something of her. I know of cases like that. But he ought to be a head to her, and require it of her, even if she's protesting and begging him not to. When I was a boy, I often heard a joke that went something like this: “In our house Dad is the boss. Ma says so, and what she says goes.” Now that's just the kind of head that a lot of women have. They have to require their husband to be a head, or he doesn't do it. And if they need their husband to require something of them, they have to require their husband to require it of them, or he doesn't do it. There are women who know that they can walk all over their husbands, yet they don't do it, just because they know it's wrong. But in the bottom of their heart, they're crying out for a husband that they can't walk all over.

Now, it's of no use to preach submission to a wife, if she doesn't have a husband that requires anything of her. It's not the wife's place to make her man a head. It's the man's place to be a head. And I've seen this, too. I've seen wives who are ready and willing to submit to their husbands, and want to do so, but can't do so, because their husbands don't take the place of headship. A wife ought to submit to her husband “as Christ submits to the church.” By the same token a husband ought to rule over his wife, as Christ rules over the church----for her own good, of course----for her own happiness, for sure. It will make her happy, and not only that, it will make her a glory to her husband, as the church is going to be a glory to Christ, when he gets through with it.

The wife not only is the weaker vessel, but in her heart of hearts she needs to be the weaker vessel. She needs a head. She needs a leader. And she needs a firm head, not a soft head----a real head, not a figurehead. Your business as the head of your wife is not to indulge her in what she wants to do, but to require her to do what she ought to do. I tell you again, you will not lose her love by it. You will gain immeasurably. You will gain more of her love, for you will gain her respect and admiration, and a large part of a woman's love for her husband consists of admiration. And you will secure her present happiness, as well as her eternal good.


Hoskier on the Text of Revelation 5:9-10

[I very much regret that I was not able to give the following statement in my article on “The Crowned Elders” in the December, 1993, issue of this magazine, but the book has only now come into my hands. Hoskier was a thorough and painstaking textual critic of the best sort, and I am happy to say that in this matter his statement is a forceful confirmation of the ground I have taken on the text of these verses. The following statement is taken from A Full Account and Collation of the Greek Cursive Codex Evangelium 604, by Herman C. Hoskier, published in London by David Nutt in 1890, pages xvii & xviii of the preface. All matter in square brackets has been added by myself.----editor.]

The point is that the Revisers have here deliberately followed A (and the loose Aethiopic version) against a (hiat C) and every other known cursive (44 reads hJmw'n), in omitting hJma'", from the text of verse 9, without even intimating in the margin that “only one ancient authority reads thus.” [The New American Standard Version does exactly the same.] In numberless instances they reject the witness of A for that of a and/or C, but they here cling to A, and certainly have the authority of Lachmann, Tischendorf and Hort for so doing. Let us therefore see what that authority is worth.

There must have been some good reason for Tischendorf to forsake a (in Lachmann's time there was no a to put aside), and for even Mr. Kelly (1860) to place hJma'" in square brackets. Tregelles in 1844 had shown more happy intuition by leaving hJma'" untouched, although to him were unknown the witness of a and of all Scrivener's cursive codices. The reason is not far to seek. It is simply this: that in the following verse nearly all authorities read aujtouV" for hJma'", and basileuvousin or basileuvsousin for basileuvsomen, and the hJma'" of verse 9 conflicts with aujtouV" below, if allowed to stand. Were there good grounds for removing hJma'" from verse 9, the Greek would of course flow more smoothly and not afford any obstacles. But the transition from the first to the third person plural----given the evidence----is not necessarily ungrammatical, but only dramatic. And this is just the place where (as textual critics) we must apply the canon----PROCLIVI SCRIPTIONI PRÆSTAT ARDUA [a hard is preferable to an easy reading]----for the following reason: The witness of A in this place is entirely untrustworthy and conveys but the very slightest breath of authority, as the word HMAC has been DROPPED between the two columns of the MS. What I wish to point out is this, that it is in the highest degree probable that this omission was nothing more than an error of the scribe of A----an error of copying----and from such a copyist's error the most accurate men in all ages have never been free. Ask yourself, ask your friends, ask a clerk, a type-writer, a compositor, a publisher,----anyone! And so, from this copyist's blunder, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Kelly, Hort and the whole body of Revisers would have us alter the tenor----the whole meaning----of that lovely song, for want of having troubled to look at the original page of Codex Alexandrinus.

[Thus far Hoskier. I wish to add a few remarks on the significance of the fact that hJma'" was omitted between two columns in Codex A. When the scribe of the MS. finished the column in question, he would have had hJma'" in his mind as the next word to be written, but before writing it he must adjust the position of the MS. (which was about 13 inches high) to begin a new column----perhaps even blow the ink in the left column to dry it, so as not to smear it with his arm or clothes when beginning the top of the next column. While making that adjustment, hJma'" could easily enough have slipped in his mind from the next word to be written, to the last word written. Virtually the same thing has happened often enough in printed books. In most early printed books, when the typesetter reached the end of a page, he set the next word in the lower right-hand corner of the page, below the last line of type. This is called the “catchword.” After then setting up a new form to begin a new page, he could, if need be, look at the catchword at the bottom of the page just completed, and begin the new page with that word. But those who are conversant with old books and Bibles know that it is nothing uncommon to find the catchword missing from the text at the beginning of the new page, though appearing as the catchword at the end of the preceding page. The typesetter, when changing from the finished page to the new one, would have that word in his mind, as the next word to be set. Yet by some slip of the mind, that word on occasion would be dropped, and the new page begun with the word next following it.]


False Interpretation and False Teaching
in the True Church of God

by Glenn Conjurske

“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die. Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (John 21:21-23).

Here is a clear example of the kind of “Bible interpretation” and “Bible teaching” which take place every day in the church of God. People hear or read some word of the Lord, and immediately jump to conclusions, often conclusions which have scarcely the vaguest resemblance to what God actually says, and yet they will quote their text with the utmost confidence, as undoubted proof of their unwarranted conclusion. It is often perfectly amazing to see the scriptures which Christians will quote in support of their notions----scriptures which have only the vaguest resemblance, or none at all, to the conclusions which are extracted from them.

Here is a case in point, concerning the antichrist. The Bible says, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads, and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is six hundred threescore and six.” (Rev. 13:16-18). This scripture being duly cited, we are then informed that the pope has the number 666 in his crown, and the conclusion is, the papacy is the antichrist. But granting that the pope wears the number 666 in his crown (which I, however, know nothing about), what has that to do with this, or this with that? The text says not one word about the antichrist wearing the number 666 himself, but of his causing all others to wear it----and not in their crowns, by the way, but in their right hands or in their foreheads.

Now it is very probable that the conclusion in this reasoning is not the conclusion at all, but actually the premise. This is the thing held first, before the Scriptures are examined, and then the Scriptures are ransacked in order to find something to base it upon. This is the method of a great deal of so-called Bible study, and when such is the method which is used, it is little wonder if the proof texts don't prove anything. Nevertheless, it is the failure to think which underlies such interpretation. Such interpretation is only possible when people do not think. Any kind of vague resemblance is taken for proof, though there is no relationship between the premise and the conclusion.

Another clear example will illustrate this. To prove the doctrine of limited atonement, Calvinists commonly quote, “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25). They press home, of course, their own view of the matter, that this means that Christ died for the church only, and for none else. But the text says nothing whatever about that, and if these folks would only engage their minds to think, they would soon see that by the very same reasoning (or lack thereof) they may also prove that Christ died only for Paul, for the same man who wrote “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it,” says that he “loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20). Now it is as plain as the noonday that if the latter text does not prove that Christ died for Paul only, then the former does not prove that he died for the church only. It has nothing to say to the subject. Yet for nearly half a millennium Calvinists have been quoting this text to prove limited atonement, all of them together failing to think far enough to realize the fallacy of the argument. And that in the face of very plain and indisputable texts which affirm such things as that Christ “gave himself a ransom for all.” (I Tim. 2:6).

This is exactly the kind of thing which happened in John 21:23. One or more of the immediate disciples of Christ, who heard his saying concerning John, immediately jumped to conclusion that John would never die, but live on till the coming of Christ and the rapture of the church. That conclusion was not warranted by the words which Jesus had spoken. He had said nothing about it, one way or the other. Yet so confident were these unthinking disciples of the truth of their conclusion, that they spread it abroad among the brethren. And not only so. If there was one unthinking disciple to draw such a baseless inference in the first place, there were a thousand more to accept it and help to spread it abroad. The saying went abroad among the brethren----not among the heathen, or the cultists, nor the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses, not the idolaters or the pagans, but “among the brethren”----good people, true disciples, sincere Christians, who possessed the Spirit of God to teach them all things, and lead them into all truth. Yet he could not teach them if they would not think, but credulously swallow whatever notion arose in the mind of another disciple, who was no more thinking than they were themselves.

No doubt the prophecy mongers of the day had a great time with this saying. They could point to John's great age with great confidence----and greater confidence with every passing year----as an undoubted sign of the times, a sure indication of the soon coming of Christ. “John is very advanced in years. All of the other apostles are long since dead. John is feeble in health and worn out with labors. He can't last much longer. The coming of Christ must be near!”

But the answer to such confusion is simple enough. It consists of two simple steps. The first is, Quote the text. That alone ought to be sufficient, and no doubt would be, if men had minds engaged to think----assuming they have hearts honest enough to admit the legitimate conclusions. But since many do not, another step is necessary. It must be borne in mind that it was with the very words of the Lord in their hands that men first formulated this false inference from them. One step more is therefore necessary, and this one is amply sufficient for those whose hearts are honest. The second step is simply to point out what the text says, and does not say. And this is John's whole answer to the false interpretation which was so spread abroad in his day. He simply says, “Yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die, but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”

I have seen in our own day an example of exactly the same kind of interpretation as was spread abroad among the brethren of the apostolic church. Some years ago I heard it confidently affirmed on the basis of Matthew 24:32-34 that the coming of Christ, and the rapture of the church, must take place by 1988. The text says, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree. When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” The reasoning (or lack of it) affirmed,

1.The fig tree is Israel.

2.The budding of the fig tree is the restoration of Israel to statehood, which took place in 1948.

3.A generation is forty years at the farthest.

4.Therefore the rapture of the church must take place by 1988.

Now it may be legitimately questioned whether the fig tree does indeed represent Israel. Perhaps so, perhaps not. This should be proved, not assumed. But supposing that the fig tree does represent Israel, how is it to be proved that the budding of the fig tree represents Israel's advancement to statehood? Other events would seem to fit better, such as the first world Zionist conference, in 1897. But though that might fit the budding of the fig tree better, it does not fit the theory so well. That generation has passed away. And who is to limit a generation to forty years? It might be fifty. We may, of course, state with confidence that the rapture did not take place in 1988, but there is a shorter method by which to deal with these things. We need only point out what the text says. It does not say, “When ye see the budding of the fig tree, know that it (the coming of Christ) is near.” No, but “When ye see all these things, know that it is near.” When ye see all what things? Wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, persecutions and betrayals, false prophets, and the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place. And when that takes place, the rapture of the church will be past already. Thus this great clamor which was spread abroad among the disciples a few years ago proves to be a mere empty bubble, like the report that John would not die. The doctrine has no relationship to what the text says.

The report that John would not die teaches us also the worthlessness of tradition, even “apostolic tradition.” It was in the apostolic church in its purest days that this report was spread abroad among the brethren. Yet it was nothing to be depended upon. From this we must turn to the actual words of the Lord, to what God actually says, and there we find a sufficient safeguard against every flying report and false interpretation.


C. H. Spurgeon on Button-Holing

compiled by the editor

A good dictionary will inform you that “button-hole” is equal in meaning to “button-hold,” which means to hold a person as it were by the button, and detain him in conversation. As the word has been commonly used in the church of God, it refers of course to thus detaining a person in personal conversation to address him concerning his soul, his sin, his salvation, and his eternity. The word was once an honorable one in the church, but in our generation it has lost its reputation. Certain evangelicals, who despise such direct methods of evangelism, have been heard to speak contemptuously of “button-holing people,” the honorable word “button-holing” itself being spoken with a sneer. Certain Calvinists also, whose doctrinal predilections cause them to look askance at direct evangelism of any sort, as though this were somehow usurping the place of the Spirit of God, I have heard also to speak with contempt of “button-holing people.”

But the great Spurgeon, who was one of the greatest of evangelists, as well as one of the greatest of Calvinists, thought otherwise. Over the years I have noted down a number of his statements on the subject, and I here present some of them to the reader.

“There are numbers of people who cannot be reached by the pastor. You must try to get some Christian workers who will `button-hole' people, you know what I mean. It is pretty close work when you hold a friend by a lock of his hair, or by his coat-button. Absalom did not find it easy to get away when he was caught in the oak by the hair of his head. So, try to get at close quarters with sinners; talk gently to them till you have whispered them into the kingdom of heaven, till you have told into their ears the blessed story that will bring peace and joy to their heart. We want, in the Church of Christ, a band of well-trained sharpshooters, who will pick the people out individually, and be always on the watch for all who come into the place, not annoying them, but making sure they do not go away without having had a personal warning, a personal invitation, and a personal exhortation to come to Christ.”

“There is a fine hunting ground here, and indeed in every large congregation, for you who really want to do good. How many come into this house every morning and evening with no thought about receiving Christ! Oh, if you would all help me, you who love the Master, if you all help me by speaking to your neighbours who sit near to you, how much might be accomplished! Never let anybody say, `I came to the Tabernacle three months, and nobody spoke to me;' but do, by a sweet familiarity, which ought always to be allowable in the house of God, seek with your whole heart to impress upon your friends the truth which I can only put into the ear, but which God may help you to put into the heart.

“Further, let me commend to you, dear friends, the art of button-holing acquaintances and relatives. If you cannot preach to a hundred, preach to one. Get a hold of the man alone, and in love, quietly and prayerfully, talk to him. `One!' say you. Well, is not one enough? I know your ambition, young man; you want to preach here, to these thousands; be content, and begin with the ones. Your Master was not ashamed to sit on the well, and preach to one; and when He had finished His sermon, He had really done good to the whole city of Sychar, for that one woman became a missionary to her friends. Timidity often prevents our being useful in this direction, but we must not give way to it; it must not be tolerated that Christ should be unknown through our silence, and sinners unwarned through our negligence. We must school and train ourselves to deal personally with the unconverted. We must not excuse ourselves, but force ourselves to the irksome task till it becomes easy. This is one of the most honourable modes of soul-winning; and if it requires more than ordinary zeal and courage, so much the more reason for our resolving to master it.”

“And lastly, with all his amiability, the minister should be firm for his principles, and bold to avow and defend them in all companies. When a fair opportunity occurs, or he has managed to create one, let him not be slow to make use of it. Strong in his principles, earnest in his tone, and affectionate in heart, let him speak out like a man and thank God for the privilege. There need be no reticence----there should be none. The maddest romances of Spiritualists, the wildest dreams of Utopian reformers, the silliest chit-chat of the the town, and the vainest nonsense of the frivolous world, demand a hearing and get it. And shall not Christ be heard? Shall his message of love remain untold, for fear we should be charged with intrusion or accused of cant? Is religion to be tabooed----the best and noblest of all themes forbidden? If this be the rule of any society, we will not comply with it. If we cannot break it down, we will leave society to itself, as men desert a house smitten with leprosy. We cannot consent to be gagged. There is no reason why we should be. We will go to no place where we cannot take our Master with us. While others take liberty to sin, we shall not renounce our liberty to rebuke and warn them.

“Wisely used, our common conversation may be a potent means for good. Trains of thought may be started by a single sentence which may lead to the conversion of persons whom our sermons have never reached. The method of button-holing people, or bringing the truth before them individually, has been greatly successful: this is another subject, and can hardly come under the head of Common Conversation; but we will close by saying that it is to be hoped that we shall never, in our ordinary talk, any more than in the pulpit, be looked upon as nice sort of persons, whose business it is to make things agreeable all around, and who never by any possibility cause uneasiness to any one, however ungodly their lives may be. Such persons go in and out among the families of their hearers, and make merry with them, when they ought to be mourning over them. They sit down at their tables and feast at their ease, when they ought to be warning them to flee from the wrath to come.”

Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske

George Müller

George Müller (1805-1898) was the leading founder of the branch of Plymouth Brethren known as Open Brethren. He devoted himself early in life to proving to the church that God answers prayer, and to that end he lived without any salary himself, and founded and carried on a large orphanage, for the support of which he appealed to God alone, never soliciting funds from men. He did, however, make his work known, publishing yearly reports of it, in which he recorded in detail how his financial and other needs had been met during the previous year. Thus, though he refrained from ever making known to any but God his present needs, he certainly did make known the fact that he always had an ongoing need. He claimed that he saw no inconsistency in this, and though he acknowledged that God might use the reports to make his work known, and so raise up support for it, yet that was not his purpose for publishing them, and he did not trust in the reports, but in God.

All the details of his life and work are set forth in A Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller, in four substantial volumes, written by himself. These are mainly taken up with small financial details (some of which are interesting and edifying), but there are nuggets of other sorts thinly scattered through the volumes, for those who wish to hunt for them. Two abridgements of this Narrative have been published. The first is a smaller work of 544 pages, entitled The Life of Trust, edited by J. R. Miller, and published in 1898. The second is a large illustrated work of 736 pages, with a good subject index, compiled by G. Fred. Bergin, and titled, Autobiography of George Müller, or A Million and a Half in Answer to Prayer. I have the second edition of this, published in 1906, and I do not know the date of the first edition.

Biographies are George Müller of Bristol, by A. T. Pierson (1899, 462 pp.), George Müller, by Frederick G. Warne (1898, 244 pp.), and The Life of George Müller, by William Henry Harding (1914, 390 pp.). The last alone of these has an index, and it has a good one. Preaching Tours and Missionary Labours of George Müller, by Mrs. Müller, appeared in 1883, but this is very little more than a narration of when and where he preached.

Three small volumes of his addresses have been published, entitled Jehovah Magnified, Sermons and Addresses, and Counsel to Christians. These I find to be tame and dry, in spite of Spurgeon's praise of Müller as a preacher.


The Martyrs of Gaul

[The following account is taken from Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, book v, chap. 1. These sufferings took place during the reign of Antonius Verus, and were related by the Christians of Gaul.----editor.]

The greatness, indeed, of the tribulation, and the extent of the madness exhibited by the heathen against the saints, and the sufferings which the martyrs endured in this country, we are not able fully to declare, nor is it, indeed, possible to describe them. For the aversary assailed us with his whole strength, giving us already a prelude, how unbridled his future movements among us would be. And, indeed, he resorted to every means, to accustom and exercise his own servants against those of God, so that we should not only be excluded from houses, and baths, and markets, but every thing belonging to us was prohibited from appearing in any place whatever. But the grace of God contended for us, and rescued the weak, and prepared those who, like firm pillars, were able through patience, to sustain the whole weight of the enemy's violence against them. These coming in close conflict, endured every species of reproach and torture. Esteeming what was deemed great, but little, they hastened to Christ, showing in reality, “that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” And first, they nobly sustained all the evils that were heaped upon them by the populace, clamours, and blows, plundering and robberies, stonings and imprisonments, and whatsoever a savage people delight to inflict upon enemies. After this they were led to the forum, and when interrogated by the tribune, and the authorities of the city, in the presence of the multitude, they were shut up in prison until the arrival of the governor. Afterwards, they were led away to be judged by him, from whom we endured all manner of cruelty. Vettius Epagathus, one of the brethren, who abounded in the fulness of the love of God and man, and whose walk and conversation had been so unexceptionable though he was only young, shared in the same testimony with the elder Zacharias. He had walked, therefore, in all the commandments and righteousness of the Lord blameless, and with alacrity in kind offices to man, abounding in zeal for God, and fervent in spirit. As he was of this high character, he could not bear to see a judgment so unjustly passed against us, but gave vent to his indignation, and requested also, that he should be heard in defence of his brethren, whilst he ventured to assert that there was nothing either at variance with religion or piety among us. At this, those around the tribunal cried out against him, for he was a man of eminent standing. Nor did the governor allow a request so just and so properly made, but only asked whether he also were a Christian? He confessed in as clear a voice as possible, and he, too, was transferred to the number of martyrs, being publicly called the advocate of the Christians. But he had the paraclete, (advocate,) within him, viz., the spirit more abundant than Zacharias, which, indeed, he displayed by the fulness of his love; glorying in the defence of his brethren, and to expose his own life for theirs. He was, indeed, a genuine disciple of Christ, following the Lamb whithersoever he would go. After this, the others were also set apart, and the first martyrs endured their sufferings with promptness and alacrity, most cheerfully finishing the confession of martyrdom. They appeared, indeed, unprepared and inexperienced, and yet so weak as to be incapable of bearing the intensity of the mighty contest. Of these, indeed, about ten also fell away, causing great sorrow and excessive grief to our brethren, and damping the ardour of those who had not yet been taken. These, however, although they endured all manner of affliction, nevertheless were always present with the martyrs, and never left them. Then, indeed, we were all struck with great fear, on account of the uncertainty of their holding out in the profession, not indeed dreading the tortures inflicted, but looking at the end, and trembling lest they should apostatize. Those, indeed, that were worthy to fill up the number of the martyrs, were seized from day to day, so that all the zealous members of the two churches, and those by whose exertions the church had been there established, were collected. Some domestics that were heathen, belonging to our brethren, were also seized as the governor had publicly commanded search to be made for all of us. But these, at the instigation of Satan, fearing the tortures which they saw the saints suffering, and the soldiers beside this urging them, charged us with feasts of Thyestes, and the incests of Oedipus, and such crimes as are neither lawful for us to speak nor to think; and, such, indeed, as we do not even believe were committed by men. These things being spread abroad among the people, all were so savage in their treatment of us, that, if before some had restrained themselves on account of some affinity, they then carried their cruelty and rage against us to a great excess. Then was fulfilled the declaration of our Lord, “ that the day would come when every one that slayeth you will think he is doing God a service.” The holy martyrs, after this, finally endured tortures, beyond all description; Satan striving with all his power, that some blasphemy might be uttered by them. Most violently did the collective madness of the mob, the governor and the soldiers rage against the holy deacon of Vienna, and against Maturus, a new convert, indeed, but a noble champion of the faith. Also, against Attalus, a native of Pergamus, who was a pillar and foundation of the church there. Against Blandina, also, in whom Christ made manifest, that the things that appear mean and deformed and contemptible among men, are esteemed of great glory with God, on account of love to him, which is really and powerfully displayed, and glories not in mere appearance. For whilst we were all trembling, and her earthly mistress, who was herself one of the contending martyrs, was apprehensive lest through the weakness of the flesh she should not be able to profess her faith with sufficient freedom, Blandina was filled with such power, that her ingenious tormentors who relieved and succeeded each other from morning till night, confessed that they were overcome, and had nothing more that they could inflict upon her. Only amazed that she still continued to breathe after her whole body was torn asunder and pierced, they gave their testimony that one single kind of the torture inflicted was of itself sufficient to destroy life, without resorting to so many and such excruciating sufferings as these.

But this blessed saint, as a noble wrestler, in the midst of her confession itself renewed her strength, and to repeat, “I am a Christian, no wickedness is carried on by us,” was to her rest, refreshment and relief from pain. But Sanctus himself, also nobly sustaining beyond all measure and human power, the various torments devised by men, whilst the wicked tormentors hoped that by the continuance and the greatness of the tortures, they would get to hear something from him that he ought not to say, withstood them with so much firmness, that he did not even declare his name, nor that of his nation, nor the city whence he was, nor whether he was a slave or a freeman, but to all the questions that were proposed, he answered in the Roman tongue, “I am a Christian.” For this he confessed instead of his name, his city, his race, and instead of every thing. No other expression did the heathen hear from him. Whence, also, an ambitious struggle in torturing arose between the governor and the tormentors against him; so that when they had nothing further that they could inflict, they at last fastened red hot plates of brass to the most tender parts of his body. But he continued unsubdued and unshaken, firm in his confession, refreshed and strengthened by the celestial fountain of living water that flows from Christ. But the corpse itself was evidence of his sufferings, as it was one continued wound, mangled and shrivelled, that had entirely lost the form of man to the external eye. Christ suffering in him exhibited wonders; defeating the adversary, and presenting a kind of model to the rest, that there is nothing terrific where the love of the Father, nothing painful where the glory of Christ prevails. For when the lawless tormentors tortured the martyr again during the day, and supposed that whilst the wounds were swollen and inflamed, if they applied the same torments, they would subdue him, as if he would not then be able to bear even the touch of the hand, or else, that dying under his tortures he would strike a terror into the rest, not only was there no appearance like this, but, beyond all human expectation, the body raised itself, and stood erect amid the torments afterwards inflicted, and recovered the former shape and habit of the limbs; so that his second tortures became, through the grace of Christ, not his torment, but his cure. But the devil also led forth a certain Biblias to punishment, who was one of those that had renounced the faith, thinking that he had already swallowed her, was anxious to increase her condemnation by blasphemy, and constraining her as a frail and timid character, easily overpowered, to utter impieties against us. But in the midst of the torture she repented and recovered herself, and as if awaking out of a deep sleep, was reminded by the punishment before her, of the eternal punishment in hell. And accordingly she contradicted the blasphemers in her declarations. “How,” said she, “could such as these devour children, who considered it unlawful even to taste the blood of irrational animals?” After that, she professed herself a Christian, and was added to the number of martyrs. But as all the tortures of the tyrants were defeated by Christ, through the patience of the martyrs, the devil devised other machinations; among these were their confinement in prison, in a dark and most dismal place; their feet also stretched in the stocks, and extended to the fifth hole, and other torments, which the enraged minions of wickedness, especially when stimulated by the influence of Satan, are accustomed to inflict upon the prisoners. Numbers of them were, therefore, suffocated in prison, as many, viz., as the Lord would have to depart, thus showing forth his glory. Some of them, indeed, had been cruelly tormented, so that it appeared they could scarely live, though every means were applied to recover them. Though confined in prison, devoid of all human aid, they were strengthened by the Lord, and filled with power from him both in body and mind, and even stimulated and encouraged the rest. But the new converts and those that were recently taken, whose bodies were not exercised in trials, did not bear the oppression of incarceration, but died within the prison.

But the blessed Pothinus, who had faithfully performed the ministra-tions of the episcopate at Lyons, and who was past his ninetieth year, and very infirm in body; who, indeed, scarcely drew his breath, so weak was he in body at the time; yet in the ardour of his soul, and his eager desire for martyrdom, he roused his remaining strength, and was himself also dragged to the tribunal. Though his body, indeed, was already nearly dissolved, partly by age and partly by disease, yet he still retaining his life in him, that Christ might triumph by it. When carried by the soldiers to the tribunal, whither the public magistrates accompanied him, as if he were Christ himself, and when all the mob raised every outcry against him, he gave a noble testimony. When interrogated by the governor, who was the God of the Christians, he said, “If thou art worthy, thou shalt know.” After this, he was unmercifully dragged away and endured many stripes, whilst those that were near abused him with their hands and feet in every possible way, not even regarding his age. But those at a distance, whatsoever they had at hand, every one hurled at him, all thinking it would be a great sin and impiety if they fell short of wanton abuse against him. For they supposed they would thus avenge their own gods. Thus, scarcely drawing breath, he was thrown into prison, and after two days he there expired. A wonderful interposition of God was then exhibited, and the boundless mercy of Christ clearly displayed a thing that had rarely happened among brethren, but by no means beyond the reach of the skill of Christ. For those that had fallen from the faith on the first seizure, were also themselves imprisoned, and shared in the sufferings of the rest. Their renunciation did them no good at this time, but those that confessed what they really were, were imprisoned as Christians; no other charge being alleged against them. But these, at last, were confined as murderers and guilty culprits, and were punished with twice the severity of the rest. The former, indeed were refreshed by the joy of martyrdom, the hope of the promises, the love of Christ, and the spirit of the Father; but the latter were sadly tormented by their own conscience. So that the difference was obvious to all in their very countenances, when they were led forth. For the one went on joyful, much glory and grace being mixed in their faces, so that their bonds seemed to form noble ornaments, and, like those of a bride, adorned with various golden bracelets, and impregnated with the sweet odour of Christ, they appeared to some anointed with earthly perfumes. But the others, with downcast look, dejected, sad, and covered with every kind of shame, in addition to this, were reproached by the heathen as mean and cowardly, bearing the charge of murderers, and losing the honourable, glorious, and life-giving appellation of Christians. The rest, however, seeing these effects, were so much the more confirmed, and those that were taken immediately, confessed, not even admitting the thought suggested by diabolical objections. Introducing some further remarks, they again proceed: “After these things their martyrdom was finally distributed into various kinds; for platting and constituting one crown of various colours and all kinds of flowers, they offered it to the Father. It was right, indeed, that these noble wrestlers who had sustained a diversified contest, and had come off with a glorious victory, should bear away the great crown of immortality. Maturus, therefore, and Sanctus, and Blandina, and Attalus, were led into the amphitheatre to the wild beasts, and to the common spectacle of heathenish inhumanity, the day for exhibiting the fight with wild beasts being designedly published on our account. Maturus, however, and Sanctus, again passed through all the tortures in the amphitheatre, just as if they had suffered nothing at all before, or rather as those who in many trials before had defeated the adversary, and now contending for the crown itself, again as they passed, bore the strokes of the scourge usually inflicted there, the draggings and lacerations from the beasts, and all that the madness of the people, one here and another there, cried for and demanded; and last of all the iron chair, upon which their bodies were roasted, whilst the fumes of their own flesh ascended to annoy them. The tormentors did not cease even then, but continued to rage so much the more, intending if possible to conquer their perseverance. They could not, however, elicit or hear anything from Sanctus, besides that confession which he had uttered from the beginning.”

These two, therefore, in whom life for the most part had remained through the mighty conflict, were at last despatched. On that day, they were made an exhibition to the world, in place of the variety of gladiatorial combats. Blandina, however, was bound and suspended on a stake, and thus exposed as food to the assaults of wild beasts, and as she thus appeared to hang after the manner of the cross, by her earnest prayers she infused much alacrity into the contending martyrs. For as they saw her in the contest, with the external eyes, through their sister, they contemplated Him that was crucified for them, to persuade those that believe in him, that every one who suffers for Christ, will for ever enjoy communion with the living God. But as none of the beasts then touched her, she was taken down from the stake, and remanded back again to prison to be reserved for another contest; so that by gaining the victory in many conflicts, she might render the condemnation of the wily serpent, irrefragable, and though small and weak and contemptible, but yet clothed with the mighty and invincible wrestler Christ Jesus, might also encourage her bretheren. Thus she overcame the enemy in many trials, and in the conflict received the crown of immortality. But Attalus himself, being vehemently demanded by the populace, as he was a distinguished character, came well prepared for the conflict, conscious as he was of no evil done by him, and as one who had been truly exercised in Christian discipline, and had always been a witness of the truth with us. When led about in the theatre, with a tablet before him, on which was written in Latin, “This is Attalus the Christian,” and the people were violently incensed against him, the governor learning that he was a Roman, ordered him to be remanded back again to prison with the rest, concerning whom he had written to Cesar, and was now awaiting his determination. But he (Attalus) in the meantime was neither idle nor unprofitable to them, but, by their patient endurance, the immeasurable mercy of Christ was manifested. For by means of those that were yet living, were things dead made to live. And the martyrs conferred benefits upon those that were no martyrs, (i. e. upon those that had fallen away.) Much joy was also created in the Virgin Mother, (the church,) for those whom she had brought forth as dead she recovered again as living. For by means of these the greater part of those that fell away, again retraced their steps, were again conceived, were again endued with vital heat, and learned to make the confession of their faith. And now living again, and strengthened in their faith, they approached the tribunal, where that God that willeth not the death of the sinner, but inviteth all to repentance, sweetly regarding them, they were again interrogated by the governor. For as Cesar had written that they should be beheaded, but if any renounced the faith these should be dismissed; at the commencement of the fair which is held here, which indeed is attended by an immense concourse of people from all nations, the governor led forth the martyrs, exhibiting them as a show and public spectacle to the crowd. Wherefore, he also examined them again, and as many as appeared to have the Roman citizenship, these he beheaded. The rest he sent away to the wild beasts. But Christ was wonderfully glorified in those that had before renounced him, as they then, contrary to all suspicion, on the part of the Gentiles, confessed. And these indeed, were separately examined, as if they were soon to be dismissed; but as they confessed, they were added to the number of the martyrs. Those, however, who had never any traces of the faith, nor any conception of the marriage garment, nor any thought of the fear of God, remained without, who, as the sons of perdition, blasphemed the way by their apostacy. All the rest, however, were attached to the church, of whom, when examined, a certain Alexander was found to be one, a Phrygian by birth, and physician by profession. Having passed many years in Gaul, and being well known for his love of God and his freedom in declaring the truth, for he was not destitute of apostolical grace, he stood before the tribunal, and by signs encouraged them to a good confession, appearing to those around the tribunal as one in the pains of childbirth. The mob, however, chagrined that those who had before renounced the faith were again confessing, cried out against Alexander, as if he had been the cause of this. And when the governor urged and asked him who he was, and he replied that he was a Christian, in his rage he condemned him to the wild beasts, and accordingly on the following day, he entered the arena with Attalus. For the governor to gratify the people, also gave up Attalus a second time to the beasts.

Thus, enduring all the torments that were invented as punishment in the amphitheatre, and after sustaining the arduous conflict, these were likewise finally despatched. As to Alexander, he neither uttered a groan nor any moaning sound at all, but in his heart communed with God; and Attalus, when placed upon the iron chair, and the fumes from his roasting body arose upon him, said to the multitude in Latin: “Lo this is to devour men, what you are doing. But as to us, we neither devour men nor commit any other evil.” And when asked what was the name of God, he answered, God has no name like a man. After all these, on the last day of the shows of gladiators, Blandina was again brought forth, together with Ponticus, a youth about fifteen years old. These were brought in every day to see the tortures of the rest. Force was also used to make them swear by their idols; and when they continued firm, and denied their pretended divinity, the multitude became outrageous at them, so that they neither compassionated the youth of the boy nor regarded the sex of the woman. Hence they subjected them to every horrible suffering, and led them through the whole round of torture, ever and anon striving to force them to swear, but were unable to effect it. Ponticus, indeed, encouraged by his sister, so that the heathen could see that she was encouraging and confirming him, nobly bore the whole of these sufferings, and gave up his life. But the blessed Blandina, last of all, as a noble mother that had animated her children, and sent them as victors to the great King, herself retracing the ground of all the conflicts her children had endured, hastened at last, with joy and exultation at the issue, to them, as if she were invited to a marriage feast, and not to be cast to wild beasts. And thus, after scourging, after exposure to the beasts, after roasting, she was finally thrown into a net and cast before a bull, and when she had been well tossed by the animal, and had now no longer any sense of what was done to her by reason of her firm hope, confidence, faith, and her communion with Christ, she too was despatched. Even the Gentiles confessed, that no woman among them had ever endured sufferings as many and great as these. But not even then was their madness and cruelty to the saints satisfied; for these fierce and barbarous tribes, stimulated by the savage beast Satan, were in a fury not easily to be assuaged, so that their abuse of the bodies assumed another novel and singular aspect. Not abashed when overcome by the martyrs, but evidently destitute of all reason, the madness both of the governor and the people, as of some savage beast, blazed forth so much the more, to exhibit the same unjust hostility against us. That the Scriptures might be fulfilled, “He that is unjust let him be unjust still, and he that is righteous let him be righteous still.” Rev. xxii. 11. For those that were suffocating in the prison, they cast to the dogs, carefully watching them night and day, lest any should be buried by us, and then also cast away the remains left by the beasts and the fire, howsoever they had either been mangled or burnt. They also guarded the heads of the others, together with the trunks of their bodies, with military watches, for many days in succession, in order to prevent them from being buried. Some, indeed, raged and gnashed their teeth against them, anxious to find out some better way of punishment. Others, again, laughed at and insulted them, extolling their idols, and imputing to them the punishment of the martyrs. But others, more moderate, and who in some measure appeared to sympathize, frequently upbraided them, saying, “where is their God, and what benefit has their religion been to them, which they preferred to their own life?” Such was the variety of disposition among the Gentiles, but among our brethren, matters were in great affliction for want of liberty to commit the bodies to the earth. For neither did the night avail us for this purpose, nor had money any effect to persuade, nor could any prayers or entreaties move them. But they guarded them in every possible way, as if it were a great gain, to prevent them from burial. To these, they afterwards add other accounts, saying: “The bodies of the martyrs after being abused in every possible manner, and thus exposed to the open air for six days, were at length burned and reduced to ashes by the wretches, and finally cast into the Rhone that flows near at hand, that there might not be a vestige of them remaining on the land. These things they did as if they were able to overcome God, and destroy their resurrection, (paliggenesian) as they themselves gave out, `that they might not have any hope of rising again, in the belief of which, they have introduced a new and strange religion, and contemn the most dreadful punishments, and are prepared to meet death even with joy. Now we shall see, whether they will rise again; and whether their god is able to help them, and rescue them out of our hands.”'


yf the worlde hate you/ ye knowe that he hated me before he hated you. Yf ye were of the worlde/ the worlde wolde love his awne. Be cause ye are not of the vorlde/ but J have chosen you out of the worlde/ therfore hateth you the worlde. Remember my sayinge/ that J sayde vuto you. the servaunte is not gretter then his lorde. yf they have persecuted me/ so will they persecute you Yff they have kept my sayinge/ so will they kepe youres.

----John 15:18-20, reproduced uncorrected from William Tyndale's first New Testament, 1526.

Yee, and all they that wyll lyue godly in Christ Jesu shall suffre persecucyon.

----II Tim. 3:12, Great Bible, 1540.

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