The Garment Spotted by the Flesh
by Glenn Conjurske
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating
even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 23).
The first thing which must be understood here is that this admonition
is addressed to the evangelist, not to the sinner. It is not addressed
to the one who needs to be saved, but to the one who labors to save him.
The application of the passage to lost sinners is productive of great
doctrinal confusion, as well as great practical difficulty. When sinners
are told that they must hate their sins in order to repent and be saved,
they are really set upon an impossible task, which must lead them to despair
at last, if they are honest with their own hearts. Though men of course
hate the consequences of sin, yet they love the sin, and are generally
willing to risk the consequences in order to cling to the sin. This is
the precise reason why there are few that are saved. But be that as it
may, God does not require the sinner to hate his sins, but to forsake
----to forsake them in spite of the fact that he loves them.
He must cut off his right hand, though he loves it. He must pluck out
his right eye, though he loves it, and cannot help but love it. This is
the Bible doctrine of self-denial. And here, indeed, we see the great
divide between the soul and the spirit. In his soul, which is the seat
of the emotions, a man may be ever so much attached to his sin, and have
no power to hate it, yet in his spirit he has the power to choose to forsake
it, and this it is that God requires of him.
It is the evangelist who is to hate the garment spotted by the flesh
treat the sin as the loathsome and destructive thing that it is, to make
no excuse for it, and no compromise with it. This is a most wholesome
and necessary direction to evangelists in particular, who are wont to
be so filled with tender love and compassion for erring souls, and to
so yearn to pour out that love and compassion upon them, that they may
be very naturally inclined to deal softly with the sinner's sins. And
there is often a great plenty in the plight of the convicted sinner to
rend the very heart of a loving child of God, and to so strengthen his
yearning pity that he is powerfully tempted to pass lightly over the sin ----to
fail to probe the wound as it needs, but proceed at once to the application
of the healing balm.
He sees the sinner heavy laden under the burden of his guilt before God.
He sees him crushed under the shame which he must bear if he comes clean
before man. He sees him involved in complex wrongs which implicate others
besides himself, but from which he must wrench himself free if he is to
return to God. He sees him quail before the consequences which he must
face if he forsakes his wicked way
----perhaps public exposure,
perhaps prison, perhaps the loss of his position or livelihood, perhaps
the loss of his dearest friend or lover, perhaps a crushing debt to make
restitution for his past misdeeds. By all of this the loving heart of
the laborer for souls cannot help but be deeply moved, and what a temptation
he has to lower the standard a bit, to compromise with the sinner and
deal lightly with his sins.
But to deal lightly in such a case is to deal falsely, as Jeremiah says:
From the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.
They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly,
saying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. (Jer. 6:13-14). There
is no peace with God until sin is forsaken. That is the main point, and
if we apply the healing balm before that is secured, we heal the wound
slightly, and deceive the sinner. To save them with fear, pulling
them out of the fire, is to save them from their sins. If we leave
them yet clad in the garment spotted by the flesh, we leave them yet
in their sins, and so yet in the fire.
We do not advocate any hardness or harshness in dealing with sinners.
Love is incapable of that. What we advocate is firmness and strictness
in upholding the claims of Christ and of righteousness. This may be done,
and ought to be done, with nothing but the most tender-hearted sympathy
nothing but gentleness and mildness and pity and tears. And yet it must
be done. A most beautiful example of this is seen in the dealings of Gipsy
Smith ----one of the greatest evangelists of all time ----with
a poor, distraught sinner. The very title of the sermon in which this
appears ----Slay Utterly ----is very suggestive.
I was trying to preach on this truth a few years ago, and at the close
of the inquiry meeting the wife of one of the ministers came to see me.
She said, There is a young lady there wants to speak to you; she refuses
to go away. Nobody seems to be able to help her; she will speak to the
preacher. I said, I will go with you, and we went into the room.
I went to the other end of the room and spoke to this poor thing. She
said, Sir, I want to confess an awful sin. I am a mother, and I fathered
my child on an innocent man. He was a student in one of the theological
colleges studying for the ministry, and I blighted his life as well as
branded him. I took him through three courts and won my case, but I have
a bit of hell inside. He was dismissed and disgraced, and he is as innocent
as you are. What am I to do?
Do? I said; do right.
She said, I have no peace.
And you may never have peace, I said, in this world; but you may
have pardon on condition. There is no such thing as peace for you, till
you have done right, and undone the wrong. I could not spare her. I
had to be faithful in order to save. I said
You must take off that brand as publicly as you put it on
Oh, sir! she said, he will send me to prison.
I said, If it means prison, and you go to prison, you will go with the
consciousness that you made an honest attempt to undo the wrong, but for
you the way to heaven is viâ that confession, and there is no such
thing as joy or peace in God for you without taking up your cross.
I shall never forget the effect my words made on that poor thing. She
bent, she collapsed, and my heart ached for her. Yet I dare not heal the
hurt of that poor thing slightly, nor cry Peace falsely. I had to
be faithful, and as I knelt beside her I said
When you are willing as far as lies in your power to undo the wrong,
God will help you, and He will not forsake you.
Presently she bit her lip till it bled, and, clasping the chair in front
of her, she said, Oh God, I will do it if it means gaol.
Another of the greatest of evangelists, John Wesley, displays the same
wisdom in his Word to an Unhappy Woman (a harlot, that is). He says,
So you ask, What shall I do? First, sin no more. First of all, secure
this point. Now, this instant, now, escape for your life; stay not; look
not behind you. Whatever you do, sin no more; starve, die, rather than
sin. Be more careful for your soul than your body. Take care of that too,
but of your poor soul first.
But you have no friend; none at least that is able to help you. Indeed
you have: one that is a present help in time of trouble. You have a friend
that has all power in heaven and earth, even Jesus Christ the righteous.
He loved sinners of old; and he does so still. He then suffered the publicans
and harlots to come unto him. And one of them washed his feet with her
tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. I would to God you were
in her place! Say, Amen! Lift up your heart, and it shall be done. How
soon will he say, Woman, be of good cheer; thy sins, which were many,
are forgiven thee. Go in peace. Sin no more. Love much; for thou hast
So you still ask, But what shall I do for bread; for food to eat, and
raiment to put on? I answer, in the name of the Lord God, (and, mark well!
His promise shall not fail,) Seek thou first the kindgom of God, and
his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto thee.
Settle it first in your heart, Whatever I have or have not, I will not
have everlasting burnings. I will not sell my soul and body for bread;
better even starve on earth than burn in hell. Then ask help of God. He
is not slow to hear. He hath never failed them that seek him. He who feeds
the young ravens that call upon him, will not let you perish for lack
of sustenance. He will provide, in a way you thought not of, if you seek
him with your whole heart. O let your heart be toward him; seek him from
the heart! Fear sin, more than want, more than death.
All of this is encompassed in hating the garment spotted by the flesh.
But observe, next, this is to be done with fear. And this
fear is not to be confined to the fear we may feel for the sinner himself.
When a man is engaged in pulling another man out of a fire, he has plenty
of occasion to fear for himself. Lay hands suddenly on no man,
says Paul, neither be partaker of other men's sins: Keep thyself
pure. (I Tim. 5:22). Suddenly is without due care, without
due examination of the man's character. By this means we may be partakers
of other men's sins, and this is surely reason enough to fear for ourselves.
And where evangelism is in question, we have reason enough to fear for
the church of God and the testimony of Christ. When standards are lowered,
or loosely held, or carelessly applied, how quickly the church of God
is corrupted. Excuses are made for the garment spotted by the flesh, converts
are admitted into the church who compromise with sin, and every one so
admitted takes the church farther from God. I believe this is one of the
primary reasons for the weakness and worldliness of the church in our
day. It is just the same today as it was in Israel of old. When the true
Israel went up out of Egypt, a mixed multitude went up also with
them, (Ex. 12:38), and presently their true colors were shown, and
the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting. (Num. 11:4).
But the softness which excuses and tolerates this mixed multitude, in
admitting them into the church in the first place, must of course excuse
and tolerate their ways once they are inside, and so their ways influence
and corrupt the whole church. Here is occasion enough to save them
with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. We cannot
expect sinners to take this ground of their own accord. Those who labor
to save them must see to it. Most of the religion of the world (and of
much of what calls itself the church) consists of compromise with sin
finding a way to hold on to sin, while appeasing the conscience, and entertaining
a hope of eternal life. It is the evangelist who must hate the garment
spotted by the flesh.
The garment, of course, is a figure of speech, as is the
flesh. The flesh refers not to the body, but to sin
in the heart, and the garment spotted by it is the working out of that
sin in the conduct. This figure immediately takes our minds back to the
thirteenth chapter of Leviticus. That entire chapter deals with leprosy,
the first three quarters of it with leprosy in a person, and the last
quarter with leprosy in a garment. Leprosy is a loathsome and deadly disease,
and as such it is the well known type of sin in the flesh. Here, then,
where we see the garment spotted with it, we may surely suppose that we
have the equivalent of Jude's garment spotted by the flesh.
Now observe how such a garment is to be dealt with.
The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be
a woollen garment, or a linen garment, whether it be in the warp, or woof,
of linen, or of woollen, whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin,
and if the plague be greenish or reddish in the garment, or in the skin,
either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, it is a plague
of leprosy, and shall be SHEWED unto the priest, and the priest shall
LOOK upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague seven days.
And he shall LOOK on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague be spread
in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in
any work that is made of skin, the plague is a fretting leprosy: it is
unclean. He shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in
woollen or in linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is, for
it is a fretting leprosy: it shall be burnt in the fire. (Vss. 47-52).
The thing which we observe at once here is the careful examination and
scrutiny of this garment, to ascertain with certainty whether it has the
leprosy or not. If the plague is found to have spread, the garment is
to be rejected without further scrutiny, and burned in the fire. Leprosy
is a dangerous thing, not to be trifled with. The garment which is defiled
with it is to be hated, and handled with fear.
But further, And if the priest shall LOOK, and behold, the plague
be not spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in
any thing of skin, then the priest shall command that they wash the thing
wherein the plague is, and he shall shut it up seven days more. And the
priest shall LOOK on the plague, after that it is washed, and, behold,
if the plague have not changed his colour, and the plague be not spread,
it is unclean, thou shalt burn it in the fire: it is fret inward, whether
it be bare within or without. (Vss. 53-55). Observe again the careful
looking upon this garment. The plague had not spread, but yet there must
be further examination and scrutiny. The leprosy is a dread disease, and
cannot be treated with anything other than fear. No garment is to be pronounced
clean lightly. Though the plague has not spread, yet if it has not changed,
the garment is still unclean
----still to be hated and feared and
And yet again, And if the priest LOOK, and behold, the plague be
somewhat dark after the washing of it, then he shall rend it out of the
garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof. And
if it APPEAR STILL in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof,
or in any thing of skin, it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that
wherein the plague is with fire. (Vss. 56-57).
What care! what scrutiny, must be exercised over this garment! In the
face of leprosy, we must proceed with the utmost caution
with fear. Nothing is to be taken for granted, nothing hazarded,
nothing spared. Though the plague has not spread, and though it has changed,
yet if a spot remains, we must rend it out, and subject the garment to
further scrutiny. This rending out of the spot may well figure some painful
and peremptory discipline. If after this action the spot still appears,
it is a spreading plague ----to be feared and rejected.
But finally, And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever
thing of skin it be, which thou shalt wash, IF THE PLAGUE BE DEPARTED
FROM THEM, then it shall be washed the second time, and shall be clean.
(Vs. 58). If the plague be departed from them. This is the
only condition upon which the garment may be spared, and that only after
the most careful and painstaking scrutiny, that there may be no mistake
This is the original of Jude's figure. This is the care, the fear, with
which we must deal with the garment spotted by the flesh.
Sin is a more loathsome and dangerous thing than leprosy, and were they
to exercise more care about that than we are about this? We dare not.
The wicked must be saved with fear
----fear for them,
fear for ourselves, fear for the church of God, fear for the testimony
of Christ. It is the nature of sin to spread. A root of bitterness springing
up will defile many. We have no right to allow it in the church of God.
We must look diligently lest it should spring up. (Heb. 12:15).
We have no right to bring it into the church of God. We must insist upon
thorough repentance, as the Bible everywhere does. We cannot take anything
for granted, but must exercise the most careful scrutiny over the garments
of those whom we admit into the church. This means making careful inquiry
into the conduct of those who apply for membership in the congregation.
While Joshua took too much for granted, the wedge of gold and the goodly
Babylonish garment under the tent of Achan turned the face of God away
from the camp of Israel. If we fail to exercise that care and scrutiny,
we heal the wound slightly. We admit the mixed multitude into the church,
and drive God out of it, while we deceive the poor souls we think to save.
May God help us to hate the garment spotted by the flesh.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---
If Any Man Draw Back
by Glenn Conjurske
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my
soul shall have no pleasure in him. So reads Hebrews 10:38 in the
common English Bible. The italics indicate that the words any man
are not in the original, but have been supplied by the translators. My
contention is that the words in italics have been improperly supplied
the simple reason that there was no reason to supply anything at all.
It is perfectly legitimate ----often necessary ----for a translator
to add words in his translation, if there is an ellipsis in the original ----if
something is implied in the original, but not stated ----and we
have no objection whatever to that. For example:
In I Cor. 14:33 we read in the Greek j V j j v , J v , j ' j v , literally,
For God is not of confusion, but of peace. But this sounds
strange to English ears, and therefore we read in the English Bible, For
God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. The italics show
us that the words the author were added for clarity in the
English, but are not in the Greek. We may rightly question whether the
author was the best thing to add, and might prefer Luther's Denn
Gott ist nicht ein Gott der vnordnung, sondern des Friedes
God is not a God of confusion, but of peace ----yet we have
no objection to something being added, where it is required to make clear
and natural English.
But there was no such requirement in Hebrews 10:38. The perfectly literal,
natural, and obvious translation of the verse is, The just shall
live by faith, but if he draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in
----and this (or something equivalent to this) was the
rendering of all the early English versions. Thus:
Tyndale, (1526): But the iust shall live by faith. And yf he withdrawe
hymsilfe/ my soule shall have no pleasure in hym. So exactly (with
variations in spelling) all of Tyndale's revisions, Matthew (1537), Taverner
(1539), and the Great Bible (1539).
Coverdale (1535) has, But the iust shal lyue by his faith: And yf
he withdrawe himselfe awaye, my soule shal haue no pleasure in him.
Coverdale's Latin-English New Testament (1538
reads (after the Vulgate), But my ryghteous shall lyue by faythe:
Yf so be he shall wythdrawe hymselfe, he shall not please vnto my soule.
The Paris edition of the same (made under Coverdale's personal supervision)
has, But my ryghteous shall lyue by faith[:] yf he wythdrawe hymselfe,
he shall not please my soule.
Thus it will be seen that all of the early English versions read if
he, the word he being part of the verb in the Greek,
and obviously referring back to the just. There was no reason
to add any words at all, nor was there anything ambiguous or unclear in
the literal translation. There was no reason to depart from that literal
and natural translation
----EXCEPT an obvious doctrinal reason.
And doctrine it undoubtedly was which brought about the introduction of
any man into the verse, for the obvious purpose of disassociating
the one who draws back from the just. That change came about
In 1556 Theodore Beza, a disciple of Calvin, and a Calvinist of the Calvinists,
published at Geneva a new translation of the New Testament into Latin.
In the second clause he departed from the Vulgate rendering, quod si subtraxerit
se, but if he withdraw himself, in exchange for at si QUIS
se subduxerit, but if anyone withdraw himself. The Latin quis,
which he introduced in italics (it having no corresponding word in the
Greek), is anyone, or, as it was usually expressed in English
in that time any man.
In 1557, just a year following the publication of the Beza's Latin Testament
at Geneva, the Geneva New Testament appeared. This of course was also
produced at Geneva. It was the work of Calvinists, and it is possible
that Beza himself had a hand in it. In this version the English New Testament
for the first time departed from the natural and obvious meaning of the
Greek, and followed Beza's interpolation, thus reading, Now ye iust
shal lyue by faith. but if any withdraw him selfe, my soule shal haue
no pleasure in hym. The word any was not so much as
put in italics. The Geneva Bible of 1560 followed suit, only italicizing
the added word, thus: but if anie withdrawe himself.
In 1568 the Bishops' Bible appeared, but saw no reason to follow the Genevan
version in this innovation (though much influenced by it in general).
It reads, And the iuste shall lyue by fayth: And yf he withdrawe
hym selfe, my soule shall haue no pleasure in hym.
In 1611 the King James Version adopted the Genevan innovation, reading,
Now the iust shall liue by faith: but if any man drawe backe, my
soule shall haue no pleasure in him. Any man was not
put in italics until the revision of 1638.
Beza, of course, must justify his insertion of quis, and to do so he referred
to the Septuagint version of Habakkuk 2:4, from which the book of Hebrews
quotes, but in which the first and second portions of the verse appear
in the reverse order. Thus the implied pronoun in if he draw back
has no antecedent in the Septuagint, which has led some to contend for
inserting a supposedly implied V (anyone) in the Greek there.
----the great authority for the rendering ----`but
if any man draw back' ----described the Apostle as inverting the
clauses of the sentence, but retaining the Prophet's meaning. And this,
so far as I can perceive, is his ostensible reason for introducing `any'
or `any man.' That, by this rendering, another version was avoided, by
no means agreeable to Beza's Theological opinions, there can be no doubt;
and it is probable that he easily persuaded himself that his construction
was the true one.
But Beza's explanation can hardly be admitted. The writers of the New
Testament often cite from the Old Testament loosely, and at times, to
all appearances, purposely alter the passage which they quote. When we
translate the New Testament, we must translate what the apostles wrote,
and not the Old Testament passages as they stood before the apostles altered
or adapted them. To revert in the New Testament to the Old Testament passages
as they stood before the apostles quoted them would be in fact to undo
what the apostles wrote, and to undo also the inspiration of the Holy
Ghost in those places of the New Testament.
Even if we were to admit it to be legitimate, then, to insert V in the
Septuagint at Hab. 2:4, it by no means follows that it is legitimate to
insert it in Hebrews 10:38. When the apostle inverted the clauses, he
did not retain the meaning of the Septuagint, but obviously
altered it. With the clauses inverted as they stand in the book of Hebrews,
he has an antecedent, and there can be no possible reason
to look for another
----except a doctrinal reason, and that is not
admissible. We must get our doctrine from our Bible, and not our Bible
from our doctrine.
Thus the learned Delitszch writes on Heb. 10:38, Our author inverts
the two clauses, thus diverging from the verse as it stands both in the
original and the versions, leaving the subject of J v no longer doubtful,
and making more impressive the warning against apostasy. And further,
To insert an imaginary (with Grotius), or an [ (with Winer and De
Wette), before J v (`but if any man draw back'), would thoroughly pervert
the writer's meaning. The subject in both clauses is the same
just man, the man who is justified by his faith; and the sense in which
J v is here used is that of not keeping faith, wavering in faith, forsaking
the path of faith and the community of the faithful. (The just man, the
man accepted before God, lives by faith: but if he loses his faith, and
faithlessly draws back from the right path, his acceptance is forfeited.)
That such apostasy is possible even for those who have been truly justified,
i.e. for Christians who have had more than a superficial experience of
divine grace, is one of the main points of instruction in this epistle.
To teach this lesson, the two clauses are inverted of the prophetic utterance.
Let those who do not like Delitszch's interpretation find a better if
they can, but let them interpret the actual words which the apostle wrote,
and not first alter his words to conform them to what they think he should
have written, or to what their doctrinal prejudices dictate that he must
have meant. Beza's reason for introducing quis in his version is too transparent,
and the notoriously Calvinistic Geneva Bible no doubt followed him for
the same reason
----learned and ingenious explanations notwithstanding.
The simple, natural, and obvious translation of the Greek words is the
just shall live by faith, but if he draw back, and it is safe to
say that with nothing but the Greek words before them, no one would ever
have dreamed of translating them any other way. It was only an unwillingness
to accept the doctrine which is apparently implied in the words which
dictated any other translation.
Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske
Books on Prophecy
Prior to the Plymouth Brethren movement there was but little intelligent
study of prophecy. The wretched system of spiritual interpretation
made void the prophetic Scriptures, and the deeper men studied prophecy,
the deeper they delved into idle speculations, and thus the very study
of prophecy was brought into disrepute. Premillennialists were few and
far scattered, and even most of them spiritualized most of the prophetic
Scriptures. The Brethren movement brought a flood of light upon this subject,
and restored it to a proper basis in literal interpretation and sound
exegesis. At the foundation of all of this was the teaching of
J. N. Darby, whose 34 volumes of Collected Writings contain four volumes
on prophetic themes. I mention no individual titles, however. Darby's
writings are spiritual, but not always clear, and his doctrine is generally
to be found better stated in the works of his disciples.
The best and clearest book I know on prophecy is The Lord's Coming, Israel,
and the Church, by T. B. Baines, a book of 451 pages (fourth edition,
revised and enlarged, 1881). It contains much of the real marrow of dispensationalism,
and is excellent on the relationship of the church to the world. The section
on the church also contains several chapters of what are called Brethren
principles, which could have been dispensed with. G. H. Pember's
The Great Prophecies concerning the Gentiles, the Jews, and the Church
of God covers much the same ground. T. B. Baines also wrote a commentary
on Revelation, entitled The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Another excellent book is Plain Papers on Prophetic and Other Subjects,
by William Trotter. This book is large in scope (568 pages) and excellent
in content, and its value is increased by a good subject index. It deals
largely with postmillennialism, which has long been largely extinct (since
two world wars convinced folks that the world is not getting better),
but is coming back into vogue in our day. A smaller and simpler book from
Trotter is Eight Lectures on Prophecy, by W. Trotter and T. Smith (only
one of the lectures is by Smith).
Other books of lectures by the Brethren are Our Lord's Coming Again, by
Thomas Neatby, and Lectures on the Second Coming and Kingdom of the Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, by William Kelly. Other titles by William Kelly
are Elements of Prophecy, Christ's Coming Again, The Lord's Prophecy on
Olivet, The Coming and Day of the Lord, and The Heavenly Hope. Kelly is
also author of useful commentaries on many of the prophetic books of the
Bible, including Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and two on the book of Revelation,
a book of 502 pages of Lectures on the Book of Revelation, largely involved
with refuting the historical viewpoint (and in this book we see Kelly
at his best), and a much smaller, later work entitled The Revelation Expounded,
a concise exposition, leaving controversy and learned discussions alone.
Twenty-One Prophetic Papers, by F. C. Bland is a small and simple book,
complete with prophetic chart.
In speaking of books by the Brethren, I must mention one by Sir Robert
Anderson, who spent his early Christian years among the Brethren, but
later left them to attend Adolph Saphir's church (Presbyterian). The book
I refer to is The Coming Prince, a very unusual book (as most of Anderson's
are) on Daniel's seventieth week and the antichrist. By minute and learned
calculations Sir Robert shows that the sixty-ninth week of Daniel 9 expired
on the very day of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem (this
thy day, Luke 19:42), after which Messiah was cut off.
The book has gone through many printings, and I am not aware that anyone
has done anything to discredit his calculations. I read the book twenty-five
years ago, and the savor of it has not faded. Anderson also wrote a small
book called Unfulfilled Prophecy and the Hope of the Church.
The Plymouth Brethren having led the way in prophetic inquiry in the nineteenth
century, many others of various other denominations followed in their
train, but not with anything of the clarity of the Brethren works. They
are usually clear enough on the premillennial coming of Christ, the restoration
of Israel, the first and second resurrections, and such matters, but many
of them are vague, uncertain, or confused on Daniel's seventieth week
and the rapture of the church. This, because they fail to distinguish
between Israel and the church, and fail likewise to distinguish between
the beast (masculine) and the woman, the whore (always feminine), who
rides him, thus making the papacy the antichrist.
A good example of this vagueness and uncertainty will be found in Horatius
Bonar, of the Free Church of Scotland. He is decidedly premillennial,
but contends (yet rather uncertainly) for the historic interpretation
of the book of Revelation. He contends strongly that the papacy is the
present antichrist, but admits a coming antichrist, which he supposes
is to spring from the papacy. He is author of Prophetical Landmarks, of
which I have the fifth edition, published in 1876. The preface is signed
in 1847. He also wrote The Coming Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, a
reply to David Brown's postmillennial work. This was published in 1849.
Coming Events and Present Duties, by J. C. Ryle (Episcopalian), is of
the same character. He pursues a middle course between the historical
and the futurist interpretation of Revelation, and contends that the Roman
Catholic Church is the antichrist, yet says, I think it highly probable
that a more complete development of antichrist will yet be exhibited to
the world. On many points, including the rapture, he refuses to
express an opinion, saying it would be little better than conjecture.
I have long sought a later utterance from him on the subject, but alas,
his books are too scarce to be had.
The Lutheran Joseph A. Seiss wrote The Last Times, first published in
1856. In 1878 the seventh edition was published, of which I have a copy
which was printed in 1901. In this edition he adds a lengthy note explicitly
embracing the pretribulation rapture. The book follows the historical
interpretation of Revelation, but the preface to the seventh edition refers
the reader to his Lectures on the Apocalypse, where he follows the futurist
view. These lectures have been printed often by various publishers. While
lengthy, they are good in both content and spirit. Yet he retains enough
darkness of mind to make the woman in chapter 12 to be the church. Pages
400-432 of The Last Times contain a lengthy bibliography of premillennial
commentaries and prophetic books, as well as books which incidentally
set forth millennarian doctrines. Strangely, these lists contain almost
nothing of the Plymouth Brethren. My copy of this book also contains a
good subject index.
The Baptist A. J. Gordon wrote Ecce Venit (which is Latin for Behold,
He Cometh), published in 1889. Gordon, while contending for the
imminent coming of Christ, yet holds to the historical interpretation
of Revelation, and believes the papacy to be the antichrist. On the rapture
of the church he writes as a man groping for light. He uses the false
and beggarly argument of post-tribulationists that to meet
in I Thes. 4:17 means to meet and return with, yet contends
that there must be a pause
----how long he dare not
say ----between the meeting and the returning, a pause
while the judgements are poured out upon the world below, the church being
then wrapped away in a sheltering pavilion of cloud, and hidden
in some angel-guarded retreat on high. He denies that judgement
will be executed upon all the ungodly at the return of Christ, but holds
that many of the ungodly will be spared and afterwards converted, the
advent judgements being specially reserved for apostate Christendom.
A number of Presbyterians of that era wrote on the subject. On the future
restoration of Israel, Samuel H. Kellogg wrote The Jews, or Prediction
and Fulfillment. Nathaniel West wrote The Thousand Years in Both Testaments,
a large and learned work, forcefully written, but sharing in some of the
general confusion. He contends that the mystery of the New Testament
`Church' is not to be found in Old Testament prophecy, and that
the disclosure of it in the New Testament cannot abolish the standing
contrast between Israel, the Nations, and the Church.
He contends that Daniel's seventieth week is yet future, and it is a very
interesting fact that in writing of it he rarely mentions the true church,
speaking mostly of Israel and apostate Christendom. This is as we would
expect. Yet his system necessitates that the church should be present,
though it seems seldom to enter his mind, and when he does speak of it
he himself abolishes that very standing contrast for which
he has contended. Yet for learned and thorough dealing with numerous points
West has no peer except William Kelly. West also wrote a smaller volume
entitled Daniel's Great Prophecy. James H. Brookes, another Presbyterian,
was much more directly influenced by the Brethren, and therefore much
clearer in his views. He is the author of two prophetic books, Till
He Come (also published as I Am Coming), and a larger
volume entitled Maranatha. In the central portion of this book are nine
chapters entitled No Millennium till Christ Comes, and these
The independent pastor and evangelist Henry Varley is author of Christ's
Coming Kingdom, or The Lord's Reign on Earth. He is a pretribulationist.
Here I end my notices of nineteenth-century writers, and turn to the reports
of prophetic conferences. James H. Brookes and others issued a call to
hold a prophetic conference in New York in 1878. The book containing the
reports of the essays and addresses of this conference was edited by Nathaniel
West, and published in 1879. Its title is Second Coming of Christ, though
it is usually quoted by its subtitle, Premillennial Essays of the Prophetic
Conference, no doubt because the words Premillennial Essays
stand larger than anything else on the title page. It is a book of 528
pages, with papers by West, Brookes, A. J. Gordon, Henry M. Parsons, and
others. A History of the Premillennial Doctrine by Nathaniel
West occupies nearly a hundred pages, and is probably the most valuable
thing in the book. All amillennialists would do well to read this. I sought
this book for years, and literally jumped for joy when I finally found
a copy, upstairs in the old Baker Book House on Wealthy Street in Grand
Another prophetic conference was held in 1886 in Chicago, and the reports
of it were issued in a book entitled Prophetic Studies of the International
Prophetic Conference, edited by George C. Needham (though his name does
not appear on the title page). The name of Brookes is absent from the
contributors to this book, but a number of new names appear, including
A. T. Pierson, G. N. H. Peters, A. J. Frost, and W. E. Blackstone.
Needham also edited Primitive Paths in Prophecy (1891) a small book of
145 pages, containing reports of addresses given at the Brooklyn Conference
(1890) of the Baptist Society for Bible Study. This contains nine addresses.
Among the contributors are A. J. Gordon and Clarence Larkin.
The Coming and Kingdom of Christ is a stenographic report of the Prophetic
Conference held at the Moody Bible Institute in 1914. No editor's name
is given, but James M. Gray signed the preface. Nearly thirty years had
passed since the former Chicago conference, and here we find an entirely
new list of contributors, including James M. Gray, C. I. Scofield, W.
B. Riley, A. C. Gaebelein, Ford C. Ottman, Charles A. Blanchard, and R.
A. Torrey. The reader will at once recognize in this list many of the
pillars of Fundamentalism, which by this time had developed into a recognizable
movement. He will also observe that the vague views of the premillennialism
of the nineteenth century had given place to a decided pretribulationism.
The book contains a good subject index, and an appendix, evidently compiled
by Gray, listing some hundreds of premillennialists. The list, however,
is not to be implicitly trusted, especially for men of the past. He lists
both Richard Baxter and George Whitefield, neither of whom belong in such
It remains only to mention Light on Prophecy, which is The Proceedings
and Addresses at the Philadelphia Prophetic Conference, held in
1918. The editor is not named, and the preface is signed by three men,
of whom William Pettingill is the first. W. B. Riley dominated the platform
in this conference, speaking four times, and holding a question and answer
session. Other speakers were William Pettingill, James M. Gray,
P. W. Philpott, J. Wilbur Chapman, and others. This book is not terribly
scarce. I have seen a number of copies of it over the years.
I turn next to the Fundamentalists, who often preserve the doctrines of
the Brethren movement, without its freshness and depth. C. I. Scofield
wrote What Do The Prophets Say? and Addresses on Prophecy, small books
of small consequence.
Of more consequence are the books of A. C. Gaebelein, whose books on this
subject are some of the best that Fundamentalism produced. He published
Hath God Cast Away His People? in 1905, a book of 279 pages
(plus textual index) in which much information on the Jews is set forth
along with the prophecies of their restoration. The Harmony of the Prophetic
Word (1911) is a very useful book which sets forth the agreement of all
of the prophetic Scriptures on such themes as the day of the Lord, the
great tribulation, the end-time opposition of all nations to Jerusalem,
the restoration of Israel, and the blessings of the millennial reign of
Christ. In the years just preceding World War II he published a series
of books dealing with world conditions and prophecy. The first of these,
The Conflict of the Ages, is on the mystery of lawlessness, and is mostly
history. World Prospects and Hopeless
----Yet There Is Hope are
a mixture of world conditions and prophecy. The best of the series, The
Hope of the Ages, is divided into two sections, The Hope in Revelation,
and The Hope in History, the second half being a good history
of premillennialism. The Prophet St. Paul (1939) deals with the prophetic
parts of Paul's epistles. Gabriel and Michael, published in 1945 (the
year in which he died, at the age of 84), also deals with prophetic themes.He
also wrote a good commentary on Daniel.
One of the most widely circulated of books on prophecy is Jesus Is Coming,
by W. E. Blackstone. This was published in 1908, and went through several
revisions and many printings. Blackstone commissioned the Moody
Bible Institute of Chicago to send copies gratuitously to ministers, missionaries
and theological students, especially in his own dearly-loved Methodist
Episcopal Church. So wrote James M. Gray in a Presentation
Copy published in 1916, the title page of which tells us that the
book had then (in just eight years) been translated into 25 languages,
and issued in 386,000 copies. Since then it has been printed numerous
times, even down to recent years. Blackstone also wrote a smaller book
(64 pages) entitled The Millennium, first published in 1904.
The Lord's Return Seen In History and In Scripture As Pre-Millennial and
Imminent, by Jesse Forrest Silver, first published in 1914, contains a
history of Chiliasm occupying 200 pages. In this, however, he relies too
much on secondary sources.
I. M. Haldeman, a Baptist who is generally found to agree closely with
C. I. Scofield (except on baptism), is author of Ten Sermons on the Second
Coming. The book has 748 pages, but there is not a great deal on a page.
He also wrote a smaller book called Why I Preach the Second Coming. Haldeman
published a great number of pamphlets, including one entitled This Hour
Not the Hour of the Prince of Peace, which has 56 pages.
I have two books on prophecy by A. B. Simpson. The Gospel of the Kingdom,
a book of 347 pages, published in 1890, complete with an intricate prophetic
chart, is A Series of Discourses on The Lord's Coming. A smaller
book (103 pages) published in 1914, is entitled Back To Patmos, and subtitled
Prophetic Outlooks on Present Conditions.
As it has always been quite the fashion among Fundamentalists to write
books on prophecy, there are many more. A few of them are The Return of
the Lord Jesus, by R. A. Torrey, The Second Coming of Christ, by Len G.
Broughton, The Coming and the Kingdom, by W. B. Riley, Prophecy and the
Lord's Return, by James M. Gray, The Kingdom in History and Prophecy,
by Lewis Sperry Chafer, The Lamp of Prophecy and The Great Parenthesis,
by Harry Ironside, and The Coming Kingdom of Christ, by John R. Rice.
A few more recent books are The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, by Charles
C. Ryrie of Dallas Seminary
----Re-Thinking the Rapture, by E. Schuyler
English, who succeeded A. C. Gaebelein as editor of Our Hope ----The
Rapture Question and The Millennial Kingdom, by John Walvoord, who succeeded
Lewis Sperry Chafer as president of Dallas Theological Seminary ----and
Things to Come, by J. Dwight Pentecost, also of Dallas Seminary. These
modern books are systematic and intellectual, and lack the spirit of many
of the earlier ones. They have also slipped away from the main emphasis
of many of the earlier books, namely, the character, course, and end of
the world. This theme is all but totally absent from Pentecost's large
It only remains for me to mention a few post-tribulational books. Henry
W. Frost is the author of Matthew Twenty-Four and The Revelation, a book
of 321 pages, published in 1924, and The Second Coming of Christ, which
has 251 pages, and was published in 1934. The former contains literal
translations and expositions of the Scriptures named. The latter contains
fourteen chapters on the second coming, one of which is devoted to post-tribulationism.
Frost's books are tame and non-controversial. Not so The Approaching Advent
of Christ, by Alexander Reese, the whole of which is devoted to examining
the teaching of Darby and his followers. It is a well-indexed book of
328 large pages, published about 1940. I believe this is the best which
the post-tribulational side has produced, but Reese often fails to understand
the issues, and, even where he does, much of his argumentation is unsound.
Scriptural Truth About The Lord's Return, by Robert Cameron, is a book
of 176 pages, published in 1922. There is more heat than light in this
book, and I admire neither its spirit nor its arguments. The same may
be said of The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, by Philip Mauro,
who little understands what he is trying to refute.
The Prewrath Rapture of the Church, by Marvin Rosenthal, is a new book
(1990) which has made some impression on the evangelical church. The book
is a modified form of post-tribulationism. Rosenthal was a confirmed
pretribulationist for thirty years, but, like many of them, apparently
knew the answers without knowing the questions. He still does not know
what the questions are, and therefore he beats the air. The foundations
of his book are false, and much of his reasoning shallow and unsound,
though he does a good job of overturning some of the unsound (and unnecessary)
arguments which some pretribulationists have used. With all the post-tribulationists,
he contends that the second coming of Christ is one single and indivisible
event, yet to maintain his own system he must protract that coming over
a period of time, which begins before the end of the seventieth week,
and ends after it. This fact alone is enough to indicate how far astray
he is, and how little he gains by his reasonings.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
The Mark Upon Cain
by Glenn Conjurske
And Cain talked with Abel his brother, and it came to pass, when
they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and
slew him. And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And
he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, What hast
thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to
receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou tillest the ground,
it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a
vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment
is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from
the face of the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be
a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth, and it shall come to pass that
every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore
whoseover slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And
the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
The book of Genesis is filled with solid spiritual food and instruction.
The things related here are not mere curious facts concerning the early
history of the human race. There is a divine purose in all of them. Many
of them are types
----exquisitely beautiful to those who have eyes
to see them. Once I had no such eyes. I was offended at those who saw
types where I could see none. Now those types are among the most beautiful
things in the Bible, and one of the strongest proofs of its inspiration.
No part of the Bible has been the object of more determined attacks from
infidels than the early chapters of Genesis, and yet no part of the Bible
is so clearly stamped with the marks of divinity. Thus God cares for his
own ark, and provides for the faith of his own. The types of the book
of Genesis are one of the surest marks of its divinity. What man could
have sketched such shadows, thousands of years before the substance appeared?
Cain is one of those shadows, or types, and as such I wish to speak of
him. But first, the more direct instruction of the passage:
There is a very obvious difference of dispensation between this time which
precedes the flood, and the time which follows it. There the murderer
is to be put to death. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall
his blood be shed. (Gen 9:6). Here the murderer is spared
shielded. This is not an arbitrary or purposeless difference, but a clear
reflection of the ways of God under those dispensations. The time between
the fall and the flood was a day of divine forbearance ----a day
of grace. At the time of the flood that day of grace gave place to a day
of justice, in which God asserted his claims to the earth by a sweeping
judgement, and by the establishment of a righteous government, under which
the righteous might dwell in peace in the earth which had been thus purged.
These two periods are thus types of the present reign of grace, and the
reign of righteousness which is to follow it, in the which the rod of
righteousness ----the rod of iron ----will be the scepter
of Christ's kingdom.
Cain himself is a type of the Jews, who hated and slew their righteous
brother. The judgement of God falls heavily upon them, as it did upon
Cain, and yet, as Cain, they are spared and protected and preserved.
This is all simple and beautiful enough
----but how little understood
in the church of God. Bishop Hall, in his (usually spiritual and profitable)
Contemplations, calls the mark upon Cain the brand of God's vengeance
in his forehead! ----the very opposite of what it was. The
commentary of Matthew Poole: a visible token of the Divine displeasure.
Matthew Henry, such a visible and indelible mark of infamy and disgrace
as would make all wise people shun him. Suffice it to say, none
of this has anything to do with Cain's mark. It was a mark to protect
him, not to disgrace him ----though it were disgrace enough to stand
in need of such a mark. It was a mark of divine forbearance, not of divine
vengeance. Yet we see much more here than the mere forbearance of God.
We see in fact a very deliberate and determined protection of the offender.
The mark was accompanied with such a promise of divine intervention for
his protection as has perhaps never been given to another man ----and
this in the face of his known and awful guilt. In all of this Cain stands
as a type of the Jew. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies
for your sakes, but as touching the election, they are beloved for the
fathers' sakes. (Rom. 11:28). They are rejected of God, yet protected
by him ----preserved by him through all of the judgements which
his own hand has poured out upon them, and through all the malice of men
A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. Wandringe
and a vagabunde, as Tyndale has it in verse 16. Vnstable of
dwellyng and fleynge about in erêe, the later Wycliffe Bible
has it. Here is the wandering Jew, who after all of God's
promises of a LAND, and SURE DWELLINGS in it, must now wander and be driven
from pillar to post, century after century, without a country and without
a home. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the
one end of the earth even unto the other; ... and among these nations
shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest.
(Deut. 28:64-65). And yet for all that, ever watched over by God and protected
(for their blessing is yet to come), in spite of a whole history of diabolical
attempts to exterminate them. Such is the significance of the mark upon
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- -----
Elijah Truly Shall First Come
by Glenn Conjurske
The last two verses of the Old Testament prophesy the coming again of
Elijah. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming
of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the heart
of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their
fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Mal. 4:5-6).
This is clear enough, but ammillennialists think otherwise, and would
have us believe that this prophecy does not concern Elijah at all. The
following from the commentary of Matthew Poole is typical of their comments:
I will send; though the spirit of prophecy cease for four hundred
years, yet at the expiring of those years you shall have one sent, as
great as Elijah, and therefore he is now called Elijah, that shall prepare
Messiah's way. Elijah; not the same in person who reproved idolatrous
Israel, who destroyed Baal, though both Jews and many Christians would
gladly have it so, in favour of some errors they have adopted and would
maintain. But this person here called Elijah was John Baptist, as is clear
from Matt. xvii.12.13, Elias is come, and they have done to him whatsoever
they listed. Then the disciples understood that he spake of John the Baptist.
And he was that Elias, if they would receive him, Matt. xi.14. Elias,
was to come when Malachi lived; Elias was come, and the Jews had ill treated
him, and Herod had beheaded him, when Christ here lived; this Elijah then
was John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elias, Luke
i.17, and therefore bears his name in this prophecy.
But there are several considerations against this view, some of which
are weighty, and other of which are conclusive. To begin with, the Jews
of all ages have believed the prophecy to refer to Elijah himself, and
this view was held also by the early church, until philosophy and unbelief
taught them to spiritualize prophecy.
Justin Martyr writes in his Dialogue with Trypho,
Then I inquired of him, `Does not Scripture, in the book of Zechariah
[sic], say that Elijah shall come before the great and terrible day of
And he answered, `Certainly.'
`If therefore Scripture compels you to admit that two advents of
Christ were predicted to take place,
----one in which He would appear
suffering, and dishonoured, and without comeliness; but the other in which
He would come glorious, and Judge of all, as has been made manifest in
many of the fore-cited passages, ----shall we not suppose that the
word of God has proclaimed that Elijah shall be the precursor of the great
and terrible day, that is, of His second advent?'
`Certainly,' he answered.
`And, accordingly, our Lord in His teaching,' I continued, `proclaimed
that this very thing would take place, saying that Elijah would also come.
And we know that this shall take place when our Lord Jesus Christ shall
come in glory from heaven; whose first manifestation the Spirit of God
who was in Elijah preceded as herald in John, a prophet among your nation;
after whom no other prophet appeared among you.'
Tertullian says, But Elias is to come again, not after quitting
life, but after his translation; not for the purpose of being restored
to the body, from which he had not departed, but for the purpose of revisiting
the world from which he was translated; not by way of resuming a life
which he had laid aside, but of fulfilling prophecy
truly the same man, both in respect of his name and designation, as well
as of his unchanged humanity.
And Commodianus, He [the antichrist] himself shall divide the globe
into three ruling powers, when, moreover, Nero shall be raised up from
hell, Elias shall first come to seal the beloved ones; at which things
the region of Africa and the northern nation, the whole earth on all sides,
for seven years shall tremble. But Elias shall occupy the half of the
time, Nero shall occupy half.
But there is a weightier judgement than that of the Jews or the early
church. Christ himself has spoken on this subject, clearly and unmistakably.
And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that
Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, ELIAS TRULY
SHALL FIRST COME, AND RESTORE ALL THINGS. But I say unto you, That Elias
is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever
they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the
disicples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
The scribes said that Elijah must come first
is, before the coming of Christ, and this they used as an excuse to reject
Christ, in the teeth of the most convincing evidence. If their hearts
had been right, they would have received that evidence, and received the
true Christ, though it may have left them with an unresolved difficulty
concerning the coming of Elijah. When the disciples asked the Lord concerning
this, John the Baptist had already come and gone. His ministry was finished,
and it was then that the Lord said to them, Elijah truly shall first
come, and restore all things. He speaks of this in the future tense,
though John the Baptist was dead and buried. On this Henry Alford well
says, Our Lord speaks here plainly in the future, and uses the very
word of the prophecy Mal. iv.6. The double allusion is only the assertion
that the Elias (in spirit and power) who foreran our Lord's first coming,
was a partial fulfilment of the great prophecy which announces the real
Elias (the words of Malachi will hardly bear any other than a personal
meaning), who is to forerun His greater and second coming.
The words of Christ in this place strongly confirm the view of the scribes
that Elijah is indeed to come, and the future tense in which he speaks
can have no other meaning. But (lest any think we are wresting the Lord's
words) it is necessary to point out that shall come in our
English Bibles is actually present tense in the Greek. The actual words
of the text are * v V [ V j v v , literally, Elijah indeed is coming,
and shall restore all things. But the present tense of come
in no way alters the future sense of it, for first, being immediately
followed as it is by a future tense in the other verb, the whole is necessarily
future. If it be asked, Why then does the Lord use the present tense of
----I answer, come (as some other
verbs) is often used in the present tense, in English as well as Greek,
to speak of the future. We say, I am going to Canada next month.
The tense of I am going is purely present, but the sense is
clearly future. This is common in the New Testament, as the following
examples will prove:
The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (I
Ye have heard that antichrist shall come. (I Jn. 2:18).
Behold, I come as a thief. (Rev. 16:15).
Behold, I come quickly. (Rev. 22:7 &12)
Surely I come quickly. (Rev. 22:20).
All of these examples speak of events far future. All of them employ the
same word as is used in Matt. 17:11, and all of them in the present tense
(in the Greek). Other examples might be given.
Observe further, the little word V , rendered truly in the
King James Bible, and which might be rendered indeed, gives
a strong confirmation of the common Jewish view of the matter, concerning
which the disciples were asking the Lord. Elijah cometh INDEED,
is Christ's reply, and this he did not say to correct that
view of the matter, as so many commentators would have it, but precisely
to confirm that view. This is transparent upon the face of the text, to
every English reader.
Not only so, but when the people asked John explicitly, Art thou
Elijah, he replied, I am not. John certainly believed
in the literal coming of Elijah, as the rest of the Jews did, but affirmed
that he was not Elijah.
But perhaps of greater weight than any of this is the prophecy of Malachi
itself, which says, Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before
the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. The great
and dreadful day of the Lord has nothing to do with the first coming of
Christ, but concerns his second coming solely. Spiritualizers of prophecy
of course have ingenuity enough to make the great and dreadful day
of the Lord refer to the first coming of Christ
same alchemy by which they can make almost anything to mean almost anything
else ----but they should hardly expect to be taken seriously. Thus
John Gill, Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the
Lord; that is, before the coming of Christ the son of David, as the Jews
themselves own; and which is to be understood, not of the second coming
of Christ to judgement, though that is sometimes called the great day,
and will be dreadful to Christian sinners; but of the first coming of
Christ, reaching to the destruction of Jerusalem. But if this be
so, what becomes of lest I come and smite the earth [or land] with
a curse? It loses all significance, for he surely did smite the
land with a curse at the destruction of Jerusalem. But the curse will
be removed from all the earth after the great and dreadful day of
the Lord. That is the second coming, and nothing else.
But did not the Lord himself say of John the Baptist, If ye will
receive it, this is Elijah? He did, but this hangs upon If
ye will receive it, and he immediately goes on to say, He
that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this
generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling
unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not
danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came
neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of
man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and
a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. (Matt. 11:16-19).
The Lord's point is that this generation has no ears to hear. They will
receive nothing which comes from God, for their hearts are against him.
John came in the spirit and power of Elijah, and they rejected him. If
Elijah himself had come, they would have rejected him also. John's ministry
was certainly not the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy, but it was a
sufficient test of the men of that generation, to prove what their hearts
But if all of this be true, why did not the Lord plainly say so to the
Jews, and so remove their difficulty out of the way? First, because it
would not have removed their difficulty. Their difficulty was not in their
understanding, but in their heart, as the passage just quoted clearly
shows. But in the second place, the solemn truth is, when men refuse the
light which God gives them, he declines to give them more. For this reason
he spoke to these same Jews in parables. For this reason he refused to
give them a sign when they asked for one. They had light enough to acknowledge
him as the Christ, whatever difficulty might have remained in their minds
about Elijah, but they hated the light, and he was therefore at no pains
to clear up the point about Elijah. Morally, in spirit and power, John
could stand in the place of Elijah, so far as to leave that generation
without excuse, so far as to prove that they would have rejected Elijah
himself had he come to them
----but not to fulfill the prophecy.
On this Alford says (on Matt. 11:14), Our Lord cannot be understood
in either of these passages as meaning that the prophecy of Mal. iv.5
received its full completion in John. For as in other prophecies, so in
this, we have a partial fulfilment both of the coming of the Lord and
of His forerunner, while the great and complete fulfilment is yet future
the great day of the Lord. This I believe to be the exact truth,
though I am not satisfied with the terms in which he couches it. Many
speak of a partial and a complete fulfillment of prophecy, and others
speak of a near and a far fulfillment. I endorse their sentiment, but
not their terms, for the near or partial fulfillment is not a real fulfillment
at all. That is, it does not actually fulfill the terms of the prophecy,
but is only a shadow or type of the real fulfillment. To the terms near
and far fulfillment, I especially object, for they seem to imply
an actual fulfillment in both cases, and thus give countenance to the
spiritualizing view, which takes any kind of vague resemblance for fulfillment,
though the actual terms of the prophecy are not fulfilled at all. The
term partial is not quite so objectionable, but I prefer to
call it a typical fulfillment. The flood was a type of the fulfillment
of Enoch's great prophecy, Behold the Lord cometh, with ten thousands
of his saints, to execute judgement upon all the ungodly. The actual
terms of the prophecy were no way fulfilled by the flood, and the prophecy
is repeated in the New Testament, as yet to be fulfilled. So is the prophecy
of the coming of Elijah, for it was after John was dead and buried that
Jesus said, ELIJAH TRULY SHALL COME FIRST, AND RESTORE ALL THINGS.
Matthew Poole, with the ingenuity of a man grasping for arguments, contends
that in these words the Lord is only quoting Malachi's prophecy, in order
to expound it of John the Baptist: Our Lord first repeateth the
words of Malachi, and so he saith, Elias shall come, or is coming; and
then he expounds the words of Malachi of John the Baptist. But the
fact is, the Lord did not quote Malachi, or repeat his words. What Malachi
said and what the Lord said have only two words in common, Elijah
and shall restore. The Lord was not quoting Malachi's prophecy
to expound it, nor quoting it at all, but only reaffirming its contents,
and putting his stamp of approval upon the common belief of the prophecy.
His use of the word V makes this clear enough: Elijah is coming
And speaking of the ingenuity of the spiritualizers of prophecy, another
of them has this to say on Malachi 4:5: The fact that he is called
`the prophet,' and not `the Tishbite,' implies that it is his official,
and not his personal relations, that are here contemplated. To this
rhetoric we need only answer, It implies no such thing to those who have
no subtle system of unbelief to maintain, and the fact (overlooked by
this commentator) that he is called Elijah implies that Elijah
is contemplated. Interpreters and believers of prophecy can
of course dispense with such rhetoric as implies and is
contemplated, and say Elijah is Elijah. Elijah
the Tishbite and Elijah the prophet are the same person.
And this brings me to speak of the main issue involved in this question.
The prophecies of the Bible are to be literally fulfilled. The prophecies
of Christ's first coming have been fulfilled literally. The prophecies
of his second coming will be fulfilled in the same way. God spoke of Cyrus
by name, before his birth, and said, that saith of Cyrus, He is
my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure, even saying to Jerusalem,
Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
(Is. 44:28). Because this prophecy has been literally fulfilled, all will
acknowledge that Cyrus must mean Cyrus, but if
the literal interpretation had not been already proved by the literal
fulfillment, spiritualizers would be telling us quite the contrary
that Cyrus means Christ (and Jerusalem
the church!) ----or whatever else their ingenuity could devise.
And alas, even some premillennialists have begun to give way a little
on this point. Thus J. Dwight Pentecost nearly forty years ago wrote that
Elijah personally need not appear. (Things to Come, 1958,
pg. 312.) He holds that John the Baptist could have fulfilled Malachi's
prophecy, and cites a similar opinion from E. Schuyler English. And though
this is but a small step in the wrong direction, it bodes ill for sound
doctrine. With the same kind of interpretation, others can tell us that
Christ need not personally appear, and that Satan does not personally
exist. With the same kind of interpretation, havoc may be made of the
whole Bible and all its doctrines. Such interpretation was born in unbelief,
and has been for centuries the buttress of doctrinal confusion and error,
and there is no reason for premillennialists to yield anything whatever
to it. John did not fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of Elijah, and
cannot fulfill that of the New Testament.
Whether Elijah is one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11, as many hold,
we cannot say, and therefore need not inquire. This much we surely believe:
ELIJAH IS INDEED COMING.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
Richard Rolle on Heavenly Contemplation
[Richard Rolle, the hermit of Hampole, flourished in the
first half of the fourteenth century, dying in 1349. Though holding monastic
views and wearing the habit of a monk, he apparently belonged to no monastic
order. He was not a reformer, as Wycliffe was, and seems oblivious to
the corruption in the church, which Wycliffe saw so clearly, Rolle being
altogether occupied with the love of Christ and holy emotions. He saw
nothing beyond many of the errors of popery (he believed in purgatory,
yet where is purgatory in the following?), and was hyperspiritual in the
things he did see (and so dangerous if followed too closely), but he was
a powerful preacher, who turned many to righteousness. In spite of the
darkness of his mind on many things which would be taken for granted with
the light which we possess today, there is such a savor of the love of
Christ in his words as to make the heart burn, and I believe that of few
men in history could it be so truly said that to him to live was
Christ. He loved the word of God, and translated the Psalms into
English, with a commentary thereon. His writings were widely read, and
he was the first man of God who largely abandoned the Latin and wrote
in English. The well known Methodist preacher and commentator, Adam Clarke,
who had a manuscript of Rolle's Psalter, and knew it to be (then) at least
four hundred years old, but knew not the identity of its author, says
of him (writing on Psalm 13), That the writer was not merely a commentator,
but a truly religious man, who was well acquainted with the travail of
soul, and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ which brings peace to the
troubled heart, is manifested from various portions of his comment.
The following extract is from Yorkshire Writers: Richard Rolle of Hamole,
edited by C. Horstman; London: Swan Sonnedschein & Co., 1895, vol.
I, pp 48-49. The left column gives the original, and the right column
the same, line for line, in modernized English.
Contemplatife lyf hase twa partyes:
A lower & a heer. çe lower party es meditacion, of
haly wrytyng, êat es goddes wordes, and in other gude thoghtes
& swete êat men hase of êe grace of god, abowt êe
lufe of Ihesu Christe; and also in louyng of god in psalmes &
ympnes, or in prayers. çe hegher party of contemplacion es
behaldyng, & 3ernyng, of êe thynges of heuen, & ioy
in êe haly gaste; êat
men hase oft, and if it be swa êat êai
be noght prayand with êe mowth, bot anely thynkand of god,
& of êe fairehede of aungels, and haly sawles. çan
may I say êat contemplacion es a wonderful ioy of goddes luf,
êe whilk ioy es louyng of god, êat may noght be talde,
& êat wonderful louyng es in êe saule; and for abundance
of ioy & swettenes it ascendes in til êe mouth: swa êat
êe hert & êe tonge acordes in ane, and body &
sawle ioyes in god lyuand. A man or woman êat es ordaynd til
contemplatife lyfe, first god enspires êam to forsake êis
worlde, and al êe vanite & êe couayties and êe
vile luste êarof. Sythen he ledes êam by êar ane,
& spekes til 3ar hert: and als êe prophete says, He gifes
êam at sowke êe swetnes of êe begynnyng of lufe;
and êan he settes êam in will to gyf êam haly
to prayers & meditacions & teres. Sithen, when êai
haue sufferd many temptacions, & êe foule noyes of thoghtes
êat er ydel, & of vanitees êe whilk wil comber êam
êat can noght destroy êam, er passand a-way: he gars
êam geder til êam êair hert & fest anely in
hym: and opens til êe egh of êair sawls êe 3ates
of heuen: swa êat êe ilk egh lokes in til heuen; and
êan êe fire of lufe verrali ligges in êair hert,
& byrnes êarin, & makes it clene of al erthly filth:
& sithen forward êai er contemplatife men, & rauyst
in lufe. For contemplacion es a syght: & êai se in til
heuen with êar gastly egh. Bot êou sal witt êat
naman hase perfite syght of heuen whils êai er lifand bodili
here. Bot als sone als êai dye: êai er broght before
god and sese hym face til face, & egh til egh: and wones with
hym with-outen ende. For hym êai soght, & hym êai
couayted, and hym êai lufed, in al êar myght.
A contemplative life has two parts:
a lower and a higher. The lower part is meditation, of holy writing,
that is, God's words, and in other good thoughts & sweet, that
men have of the grace of God, about the love of Jesus Christ; and
also in loving of God in psalmes & hymns, or in prayers. The
higher part of contemplation is beholding & yearning of the
things of heaven, & joy in the Holy Ghost, that men have oft,
even if it be so that they be not praying with the mouth, but only
thinking of God, and of the fairness of angels, and holy souls.
Then may I say that contemplation is a wonderful joy of God's love,
the which joy is loving of God, that may not be told, and that wonderful
loving is in the soul, and for abundance of joy and sweetness it
ascends into the mouth, so that the heart and the tongue accord
in one, and body & soul joy in the living God. A man or woman
that is ordained to a contemplative life, first God inspires them
to forsake this world, and all the vanity & the covetousness
and the vile lust thereof. Then he leads them by themselves, &
speaks to their heart, and as the prophet says, He gives them to
suck the sweetness of the beginning of love, and then he sets them
in will to give themselves wholly to prayers & meditations &
tears. Then, when they have suffered many temptations, & the
foul annoyances of thoughts that are idle, & of vanities the
which will cumber them that can not destroy them, are passing away,
he makes them gather to them their heart, & feast only in him,
and opens to the eye of their souls the gates of heaven, so that
the same eye looks into heaven, and then the fire of love verily
lies in their heart, & burns therein, and makes it clean of
all earthly filth, & thence forward they are contemplative men,
and ravished in love. For contemplation is a sight, & they see
into heaven with their ghostly eye. But thou shalt understand that
no man has perfect sight of heaven whilst they are living bodily
here. But as soon as they die, they are brought before God and see
him face to face, & eye to eye, and dwell with him without end.
For him they sought, and him they coveted, and him they loved, with
all their might.
For an Unconverted Child
by Charles Wesley
1 Thou God, that hear'st the whisper'd prayer,
Regard a mournful mother's care
For her poor thoughtless son:
Anxious, distress'd, Thou know'st I live,
And still in secret places grieve
For follies not my own.
2 Can I my own dear child forget,
Or see without the last regret
His wild disorder'd ways,
His enmity to things Divine,
His league with hell, his feasts with swine,
His total want of grace?
3 Son of my womb, to evil sold,
Him I with streaming eyes behold
Entirely dead to Thee,
Careless, secure on Tophet's brink,
Ready with all his sins to sink
4 But will his desperate madness go
Self-doom'd to everlasting woe,
What heart can bear the dreadful thought!
And have I into being brought,
And borne a child for hell!
5 Forbid it, O most gracious God!
With pity see him in his blood,
For Jesu's sake alone,
Regard my endless griefs and fears,
Nor let the son of all these tears
Be finally undone.
6 Fulfil at last my heart's desire,
And pluck the brand out of the fire,
And save him by Thy grace;
So shall I manifest Thy name,
With all I have, and all I am,
Devoted to Thy praise.
----Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley, vol. V, pp. 395-6
Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections
of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts articles
by other writers if they are judged profitable for scriptural instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own views are to be taken from his own writings.