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Vol. 5, No. 1
Jan., 1996

The Stone Which the Builders Rejected

by Glenn Conjurske

It is often pointed out to us that “The just shall live by faith” is of very great importance----one of the cornerstones of Christianity----for it is quoted three times in the New Testament. I have no argument with that, but I beg leave to point out that there is another text, little-known and little understood, which is quoted or alluded to five times in the New Testament. That text is, “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.” The frequent reference to this text in the New Testament is indeed an indication of its great importance, and its message was perhaps never more needed than at the present day, for the great foundational fact which it enunciates has been largely forgotten by Fundamentalism, while Neo-evangelicalism deliberately and systematically denies it. That fact is, to be accepted by God, we must be rejected by man. This fact belongs to the foundation and the essence of Christianity. We follow a rejected Christ. We are saved by a rejected Christ. So Peter writes:

“To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Christ Jesus. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious, but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.” (I Pet. 2:4-7). The entire position, place, and portion of the saints in this world is defined by this verse. The very first step which we take to come to Christ puts us into this position. “To whom coming”----to a stone disallowed indeed of men, but all the while chosen of God and precious. Our very salvation, our very profession of Christianity, involves these two things: acceptance with God, and rejection by men. We must come to the stone which is rejected by men, though precious with God.

Our association and identification with that stone, which is disallowed indeed of men, of necessity involves our own rejection also. There is therefore but one proper response on our part to the rejection of Christ: “Let us therefore go forth unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.” And to this every heart which beats loyal to Christ must respond with the most hearty “Amen.” Does the world despise my Lord? Then let it despise me also. Does the world reject him? Then let it reject me also. Does the world hate him? Then let it hate me also. By my very profession of Christianity, I come to a Christ who is disallowed of men, and I mean to be disallowed with him.

This is nothing optional, but something foundational. What I am speaking of here is “positional truth.” It is “identification truth.” It is the truth that my identification with Christ gives to me the position which he has himself----inside the veil, and outside the camp----accepted with God, and disallowed indeed of men. There is no separating of these two things, and yet there are many whose whole emphasis is upon “positional truth,” who scarcely ever touch upon this side of the truth. Their whole idea of “positional truth” concerns our position in Christ in the heavenlies, but they have forgotten that we have a position with him on earth also. “As he is, so are we in this world.” (I John 4:17). We have a position in him “inside the veil,” and likewise a position with him “outside the camp.” Those who think to take the former position without the latter do but deceive themselves. These are they who love the world, and “if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I John 2:15).

The woman who marries a social outcast does not expect to remain in “respectable society” herself. When she chooses to marry him, she chooses to share his rejection. If she does not, she is untrue to him, and untrue to herself. When we come to Christ, we take his position for our own, as any true woman does when she marries a man. And as this is nothing optional, neither is it some advanced degree of spirituality. It is the beginning point of true Christianity. “To whom coming as to a living stone, disallowed indeed of men.” We come to a stone disallowed indeed of men, and he who comes to him expecting to share nothing of his rejection does not come truly or sincerely.

But there is yet much more to say of this text. It contains a broad principle, which applies not only to the foundations and the beginnings of Christianity, but to the whole superstructure as well. It is the way of God to choose that which the builders reject----and to exalt it to the place of pre-eminence. The builders reject the poor, the base, and the despised, and God chooses them and exalts them. Stephen's long historical discourse in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts is nothing other than an exposition of this principle. Joseph was rejected by his brethren, but chosen by God, and exalted to be the savior of the world. Moses was “thrust away” by the Jews, but chosen by God, and exalted to be their prophet and deliverer. And the Jews to whom Stephen spoke had now become the betrayers and murderers of the Just One----whom God in turn had exalted to be the Savior of the world. The last clause Stephen did not preach, for they stoned him ere he could finish his sermon, but this was the point at which he aimed through the whole discourse.

This preaching was of the same stamp as that of Peter in an earlier chapter of Acts. Peter says, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12).

And we must observe in all of this that the rejection by man precedes the exaltation by God. It is the stone which the builders have rejected which is made the head of the corner. And in this business it is a certainty that “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.” (Matt. 10:24). For mark, these words of Christ were spoken with explicit reference to his rejection. He says in the next verse, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” It is those who are rejected by the builders who are chosen and exalted by God. George Whitefield and John Wesley were shut out of the churches----and exalted by God to be the great evangelists of the age. Joseph Alleine and John Bunyan were shut up in prison----and exalted by God to write those books which had the widest circulation, and did the most good, of any books ever written. Martin Luther was rejected by the builders----and made the head of the corner. This is the way of God, and it is a standing rebuke to the whole corrupt mass of Neo-evangelicalism----for rejection by the builders is the one thing which Neo-evangelicalism avoids at all cost. The movement, indeed, exists for the purpose of gaining acceptance with the builders. And alas, dear Fundamentalism is very largely permeated with the very same spirit. What means their constant pursuit of masters' and doctors' degrees? Do they think the common people care a whit for such things? The common people may indeed stand in awe, and reverently call them “doctor,” but they will follow the man who actually leads them. They will follow the man who actually instructs them, who actually builds them up. Above all, they will follow the man who makes their hearts burn----and how many doctors have ever done so in the whole history of the whole world?

What then? Is it God they seek to impress with their academic degrees? Ah, no, not God, but the builders. It is the denominational leaders, the heads of mission boards and publishing houses, the chancellors and academic deans, the executive directors----the builders whom they seek to please. We may grant them some purity of motive in this. It is influence which they seek, and that for the sake of the cause of Christ for which they stand. But they have entirely missed their way. Their ignorance of Scripture, which is one of the most prominent characteristics of the church in our day, has left them destitute of the first notion of how to gain the influence which they covet. The way to that influence is to be rejected by the builders. This is the way to become the head of the corner.

There are other ways, no doubt, but rejection by the builders is the sure and the safe way. It is the way of God. For mark well, the other ways to exaltation are always built at some point upon the steps of compromise. It would seem that Fundamentalists must know this. They seem to know it for others, but not for themselves. They can point to Billy Graham, and demonstrate that his place of pre-eminent influence is the fruit of his compromise----and all the while they pursue the same path of compromise themselves. Not that they would compromise in the same manner, nor to the same extent, that Graham has done, but still it is the same spirit of man-pleasing which dictates their own course. They take that path which they suppose will increase their influence with men, and there is always and of necessity some departure from the ways of God involved in it----though their ignorance of the ways of God may leave them entirely unconscious of it.

But whether the departure from the ways of God is deliberate or unconscious, its effect is still to destroy the spirituality and usefulness of the man who takes it. As a general rule a prophet of God must be rejected by the builders. God sends no prophet where no prophet is called for, and it is the departure of the people from the ways of God which calls for the voice of the prophet. He is sent of God to rebuke and rectify the popular errors, not to fall in with them and perpetuate them. The man who gains acceptance with the builders disqualifies himself as a prophet of God----and that not only in the reckoning of God, but in the actual state of his own soul. In the pursuit of his academic degrees he imbibes the spirit of the world----though probably without suspecting it. He loses his spirituality, and becomes intellectual. He loses his touch with the common people. And so while he gains his place of influence he loses his ability to make that influence tell for the cause of Christ. His ways and purposes are lowered, for while he seeks to please the builders, he must necessarily give countenance to some of those things which are “highly esteemed among men”----and which are therefore “abomination with God.” (Luke 16:15). Indeed, his very academic degree itself is one of those things which are most highly esteemed among men, and therefore, if Scripture speaks true, abomination with God. But he perceives none of this, for God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to babes.

The way of God to the place of influence, as said, is the safe and sure way. It fits the man for the place of influence, while it conducts him to it. The way of rejection by the builders, the way of loneliness and exile, the way of toil and tears and yearning, the way of fellowship with Christ in his rejection, the way of the back side of the desert, this is the way which fits men for the place of pre-eminent influence, while the way of acceptance with the builders is the surest way to destroy their fitness.

Observe once more, it is the stone which the builders reject which is made the head of the corner, and “this,” the scripture immediately adds, “is the Lord's doing.” The way of the builders, then, is set aside by “the Lord's doing.” Whom they reject, God exalts. “Whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead,” says Peter when preaching on this text. The plain implication of this is that the builders cannot be trusted, cannot be safely followed. “The traditions of the elders” stand most commonly in direct conflict with the ways of the Lord. This was true in the days of the judges, and in the days of the kings. It was true in the days of the prophets. It was true when Christ walked the earth. It has been true through most of the history of the church, and no man ought to be astonished if he finds it true today----and true in Fundamentalism and Brethrenism. It is a grand mistake, then, to seek the approval of the builders. It is a grand mistake to concern ourselves about it. If John the Baptist had made this his concern, he might have been a flute playing in the temple, but he would never have been a voice crying in the wilderness. He would never have been a prophet of God. Those who become the creatures of the builders sacrifice any possibility of being prophets of God. As we gain our lives by losing them for Christ's sake (Luke 9:24, John 12:25), so we gain the place of pre-eminent influence by losing our place of influence for Christ's sake.

Not that we ought to court rejection. To lose our lives for Christ's sake does not mean to commit suicide. It means no more than to be faithful to him----to seek his approval alone, without any reference to the frowns or smiles of men. Rejection by the builders is the natural result of such a course----and this is the way to pre-eminent usefulness.

For observe, the stone which the builders rejected is not only chosen and accepted by God, but made the head of the corner. Here we see Joseph, and Moses, and David, and Elijah, and Luther, and Bunyan, and Wesley. There may be a place of usefulness for those who covet the caresses of the builders, but it is a contracted place. Never a man loved David as Jonathan did, and never did David love a man as he loved Jonathan. Jonathan loved David, and served him----so far as he could while he adhered to the court of Saul. But he never went forth unto David outside the camp, bearing his reproach. He never knew the fellowship of his sufferings. He never shared in his rejection, and his name does not appear in the list of David's mighty men.

To conclude, our text contains the essence of the Christian position. We come to a rejected Christ. We serve a rejected Christ. He has no place in this world, and those who court the approval of the world must of necessity do so at the expense of faithfulness to Christ. The ways of God have no place in the world, and little enough place even among his professed people. The builders who rejected Christ were not the sinners of the Gentiles, but the elders of the Jews. “How can ye believe,” the Lord asked them, “which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?” (John 5:44) Even good men snub and slight the prophets of God, when the man-pleasing spirit takes hold of them. It will not be convenient to countenance a prophet of God, while they seek a place of influence among the builders, whose ways he rebukes. Thus the true prophets of God may find themselves rejected even by those of whom they expected better things. Let them patiently submit to it, taking it from the hand of God, and they may one day find themselves at the head of the corner. An old proverb affirms, “A stone that is fit for the wall is not left in the way.” The case is just the same when we speak of God's building, though men may reject the best stone on earth in the construction of their programs and organizations. Yet when men reject such a stone, God will take it up. The stone may be unfit indeed for the sort of wall which the builders aim to build, but so much the more is it fit for God's, and its very rejection at the hands of man will add to its fitness for the work of God.


If Jack Could Speak French!

by Glenn Conjurske

The Scripture says, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” (Psalm 118:22-23). The principle set forth in this text is of a very wide application, and history and providence afford some striking “marvels” in proof of it. An old English proverb affirms, “Jack would be a gentleman, if he could speak French.” The reason for the existence of such a proverb is that the builders of the English nation had rejected the English language, and replaced it with French. This took place after the Norman conquest in 1066. French was the language of the nobility, while English was left to the illiterate. The noblemen used English to address their inferiors, but otherwise spoke French. “Edward I”----king of England from 1272 to 1307----“swore in English, but he addressed his parliaments in French.”*

Now herein is a marvellous thing, that a nation should reject its own language----marvellous that it should even be possible to address an English parliament in French. Yet so it was, and the courts of law were conducted in French also. It is evident enough also that this rage for French was dictated by nothing other than a desire to please the builders----to gain acceptance with the ruling class.

But God took up the despised English language, and made it the head of the corner. He not only restored it to its place in England, but made it also the primary vehicle of the testimony of Christ around the world. The great majority of the best of theological and devotional literature has been written in English. The hymns which have been sung and the books which have been read by converted pagans around the world have been translated into their tongues from English originals, by English-speaking missionaries. And to complete the process, English has now become the international language of the world. It may perhaps be the language of heaven too, for there will be souls enough there with English tongues, and most of us too lazy to learn another language. But speculations aside, the fact remains that there is little motivation for English folks to learn another language today, for they may travel the world over, and find men who speak their native tongue----which was once despised in England itself. Surely this is “the Lord's doing.”


Baptists on Doctor's Degrees

By Glenn Conjurske

We expect the clergymen of the church of Rome to wear titles of distinction. We expect them to be called Reverend, and Right Reverend, and Very Reverend. We expect the same of the Lutherans, whose founder held fast to everything which he could of Romanism. We expect the same of the half-Reformed Church of England. We expect those whose bodies are clad in Babylonish vestments to clothe their names in something of the same. We expect this even of the Methodists, born and bred as they were in the Church of England, and tenaciously as they clave to it while their founder breathed. But it seems a little incongruous for Baptists and Independents to wear these vestments. Baptists, who claim to be New Testament Churches----Baptists, who disclaim even the name “Protestant,” for they are descended from the very apostles----Baptists, who claim that their whole faith is based upon nothing but the Bible----will they wear these Babylonian garments?

Alas, they are among the foremost in this matter. Only look over the roster of the preachers at any of the popular Independent Baptist conferences, and you will find that almost every one of them is a Doctor, and the odd man in the lower right-hand corner, who can claim no such distinction, is yet sure to be a Reverend. Yet it seems plain enough that this grasping after such titles of distinction is not only directly against both the letter and the spirit of the New Testament, but is equally against the principles which the Baptists themselves profess. These titles are no display of anything Christian, but of worldliness.

Now it so happens that a number of prominent Baptists of other and better days have entered their protest against these titles.

I may begin with the Anabaptist, Menno Simons. He writes, “That they do not walk in humility of heart before the Lord, their looks and names prove. They suffer themselves to be greeted as lords and masters; notwithstanding it is forbidden by the mouth of the Lord. Say kind reader, did you ever hear or read that the holy apostles and prophets were covetous of such high, vain names as are the learned and the preachers of the world? It is true the word Rabbi or Master was applied to the ambitious Scribes and Pharisees, but not to the apostles and prophets. For we do not read of Doctor Isaiah, of Master Ezekiel and of Lords Paul and Peter. No, no. All those who have rightly taught the word of the Lord, were in their time not honored with such high-sounding names. This I write that you may know that such ambitious, proud spirits can never rightly teach you the humble word of the cross.”

We suppose that Menno Simons spoke such things from conviction, and that he would therefore consistently apply them to those of his own sect who so far departed from the spirit of Christianity as to wear these high titles. He would no doubt apply them to the Baptist doctors today. Such “can never rightly teach you the humble word of the cross.” Those who wear such titles will of course dissent from this opinion, but what does this prove? Only that Menno Simons speaks true, and that they have never yet rightly understood “the humble word of the cross”----“by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” The degree and title of “Doctor” are of the world, and therefore not of the Father.

Adoniram Judson was another Baptist, and indeed, one of the best and most spiritual of them. In 1823 a doctor's degree was conferred upon him. Did he put on the Babylonish garment, and wear it with distinction? Far from it. On May 9, 1828, he addressed a letter to the editor of the American Baptist Magazine, which was printed as follows:


“I beg leave to be allowed the privilege of requesting my correspondents and friends, through the medium of the American Baptist Magazine, and the Columbian Star, no longer to apply to my name the title which was conferred on me in the year 1823, by the corporation of Brown University, and which, with all deference and respect for that honorable body, I hereby resign.

“Nearly three years elapsed before I was informed of the honor done me, and two years more have been suffered to pass, partly from the groundless idea that it was too late to decline the honor, and partly through fear of doing what might seem to reflect on those who have taken a different course, or be liable to the charge of affected singularity, or superstitious preciseness. But I am now convinced that the commands of Christ, and the general spirit of the gospel, are paramount to all prudential considerations; and I only regret, that I have so long delayed to make this communication. A. Judson.”

Are there any Fundamental or Independent Baptists who follow in the footsteps of Adoniram Judson today? Most of them with whom I am familiar seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum----seeking and glorying in the very thing which Judson regarded as inconsistent with “the commands of Christ, and the general spirit of the gospel.” How many of them today would refuse a doctor's degree which was given to them?

C. H. Spurgeon was the glory of the Baptist denomination in his day, and he was treated with the same honor as Judson had been before him. But Spurgeon's refusal of the distinction was as decided as Judson's. The following account is from one of Spurgeon's students, who was present when the D.D. degree was presented to Spurgeon:

“It often happened that a distinguished visitor from home or foreign lands would come to the college on a Friday afternoon. I well remember a tall, good-looking Yankee, who was invited by the President [by Spurgeon, that is] to say a few words to the students at the end of the lecture. The speaker referred to the admiration of the Americans for our President, and threw a good deal of warmth into his eulogiums. As a brilliant climax to the speech he produced a roll of parchment, and intimated that he had been commissioned from a certain American University to confer the Doctor of Divinity degree upon Mr. Spurgeon, and then he begged him to accept the document and the distinction it was intended to impart. The students had the two faces in view at the same moment, and noted the earnest and serious look of the Yankee in contrast to the surprised and amused expression of the President. We knew that something was coming soon. Words of great heartiness and evident sincerity told of the gratification with which the assurances of confidence and regard from across the water were received, and something like this came at the end: `I'm really much obliged to you, sir, and to the good friends you represent, for all the kind things you have said. I wish I deserved them all, but I am sure that I do not.' Then, as if suddenly recollecting the parchment which lay upon the table, and with a gentle genial humour in the tone which put all rudeness or discourtesy out of the question: `But as for this----well, to tell you the truth, my dear friend, I wouldn't give you tuppence for a bushel of 'em!”'

How many Fundamental Baptists are there in the land today who wouldn't give two pence for a bushel of doctor's degrees? They all honor Spurgeon, but they fail to walk in his steps. Why is this? The spiritual depth, and the consequent spiritual understanding, which gave to Spurgeon his convictions on such matters as this, simply no longer exist among those who think to carry his banner today. A little more of spirituality, and less of worldliness, would enable them to understand Spurgeon, and Judson. But understood or not, the testimony of those good and great men yet stands. “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.”


Quiet Preaching

by Glenn Conjurske

It has been my observation for something in the neighborhood of a quarter of a century that the quietest preaching is often the best preaching. But I observe also that one of the popular errors of our times seems to be to suppose that the opposite is true. I do not mean to say that this is a popular error among the people, but it seems to be so among the preachers themselves. There are a great many who seem to assume that preaching and yelling are the same thing. Many others, who may never proceed to actual yelling, preach always in an elevated tone of voice. They no sooner begin to preach than they adopt an artificial pulpit tone, which is distinguished from their natural voice mainly by its vehemence and volume----a kind of official, declamatory vociferation, which is as unnatural as it is loud. It is authoritative in manner, but not in fact. It seems to be their first principle that volume is the measure of unction, and their axiom that the Spirit of the Lord is not in the still, small voice, but in the great and strong wind, the earthquake, or the thunderstorm.

Now observe, I have nothing against volume. It is hardly possible to conceive of an earnest and authoritative preacher who does not raise his voice----at times. We surely have nothing to say against this. We have nothing (on this score) to say against the preaching of Billy Sunday, for there was nothing artificial in the man or his preaching. Though his preaching was all vociferation and calisthenics, it was all earnest, and all natural. Yet he was certainly not a deep preacher, though a powerful awakener. We surely do not advocate that tame and dead preaching which is so common among many, particularly among those who fancy themselves expositors, or Bible teachers. We would, frankly, rather hear them shout. The preacher who never raises his voice is in as bad a way as the preacher who always does. I sat for four years under the ministry of a very tame and lifeless preacher. He had very little to say, and said it with very little earnestness. But once I heard him wax earnest over the condition of impenitent sinners, and he fairly thundered out, “YOU WILL DIE! YOU WILL DIE!” This was the nearest thing to eloquence which I ever saw in him, and the loud volume was certainly no detraction. We have nothing at all to say against raising the voice, where it is natural to do so. What we object to is the preaching of whole sermons in such an elevated tone. This is unnatural and artificial----and just as monotonous, by the way, as the preaching which is always in a low and lifeless tone. When I hear a preacher begin to preach in the pulpit tone, I am tired as soon as he begins, though I may endure it to hear what he has to say.

Now there must be a reason why so many preachers preach so habitually in this artificial pulpit tone, but we can scarcely suppose that there can be any good reason for it. We have, rather, a very strong suspicion that this elevated tone is usually adopted as a compensation for real and felt weakness. Conscious of their lack of power, they put on an appearance of it. Conscious of their lack of matter, they make up for it by an official and authoritative manner. Twenty years ago a friend and I heard one of the most prominent of Landmark Baptist preachers. When he had finished preaching, my friend turned to me and said, “I never before heard a man preach so vehemently, and say so little.” Interestingly, I cannot remember even the subject of this vehement sermon, though we heard John R. Rice on the same occasion, and I remember both the subject and substance of his preaching. Fifteen years ago I visited a Southern Baptist church in Texas, which had been recommended to me as a “strong Fundamental work.” The preacher preached with volume and vehemence enough, but said nothing----though he had twenty-five or fifty people to say “Amen” to every platitude which proceeded from his mouth.

I should find it rather difficult to escape the conviction that this elevated pulpit manner is nothing more than a compensation for felt weakness. Not that I would accuse these preachers of conscious hypocrisy. There is no need for this. The man who swears and mocks to compensate for the weakness of his cause does not necessarily do this consciously or purposely----but he actually does so nevertheless. Though it may be unconscious force of habit, still he does not stoop to such shifts when he has the better end of the argument. So the weak preacher may quite unconsciously adopt a formal and forceful pulpit manner, but he would not do so if he were a real prophet of God. There would be no need for it. Real earnestness and real power can feel no need whatever for either volume or vehemence, though they may freely use either of them where it is natural to do so. A man may never be so earnest in his life as the first time he tells his sweetheart that he loves her, but he would never dream of yelling then, or of adopting any pulpit tone. He may never again be so conscious of power as he is then, for he may know full well that he is melting a heart and making a dream----but the very consciousness of power will absolutely exclude anything of volume or vehemence. A whisper will serve much better than a shout.

Ah, beloved, there is something in the still, small voice which no elevated pulpit tone can ever equal. The two disciples at Emmaus say, “Did not our heart burn within us by the way, while he talked with us, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” He talked with them. He did not yell, nor declaim, nor bellow, nor vociferate. Nor did he adopt any elevated, official, authoritative pulpit tone. He merely talked with them----but he made their hearts burn.

We do not, of course, recommend that a man speak no louder when addressing a congregation than when he speaks side by side with a friend. It is a simple necessity for a man addressing ten thousand souls in the open air to speak in a loud voice, but his manner may yet be quiet. It is not mere volume to which we object, but to an elevated and declamatory manner of speech, which no man ever uses outside the pulpit----and which we can hardly suppose any man would ever use at all if he had more of true earnestness and emotion. Spurgeon speaks altogether to the purpose when he says, “as a general rule we may here note that it is the tendency of deep feeling rather to subdue the manner than to render it too energetic.”* Depth of heart feeling is much more likely to manifest itself in quiet conviction than in noisy declamation, and loud speaking is a very poor substitute for heart feeling. Depth of heart feeling is very much more likely to manifest itself in tears than in shouting or declamation----and tears and declamation do not fit very well together. A man may shout or declaim by the hour, and really give us nothing at all, but the man who gives us his tears gives us his heart. “Quiet water runs deep,” an old proverb affirms, and though this is meant to apply to him who speaks but little, it may just as well apply to him who speaks with quiet conviction.

Ah, but quiet conviction is not so easy to manufacture as loud declamation. This is true, but preachers are not called of God to manufacture anything, but first of all to be something. As to those who must adopt an elevated pulpit tone to lend an air of authority to their preaching, we may legitimately question whether they are called of God at all.


The Character of King James

[The King James described herein is of course the King James, after whom the common English Bible is named. Some of the King-James-Only men are ready to make nearly a saint of him, whereas quite the reverse is the actual fact. Not that the character of King James has much to do with the character of the Bible which bears his name----except to demonstrate that God uses the basest of men to accomplish his purposes. The following contains nearly the whole text of An Historical and Critical Account of the Life and Writings of James I . . . Drawn from Original Writers and State-Papers, by William Harris, Second Edition, London, 1772. The book contains over 250 pages, but having commonly only a line or two of text on a page, while most of the book is given to the footnotes, which contain the proofs and illustrations of the statements made in the text. For the most part I print the text only, omitting those portions which concern events and circumstances----mostly at the beginning of the book. A few necessary portions I include from the footnotes, enclosing them within these signs: @ . . . @. ----editor.]

JAMES STUART, the sixth of that name in Scotland, and first in England, was born June 19, 1566. He was the son of Henry Lord Darnley

. . . and Mary queen of Scots, . . . He was placed in the throne after his mother's forced resignation, July 25, 1567, being but little above a year old. . . . During his minority the kingdom had several regents, . . . James entered upon the government March 12, 1578. Too soon, it may easily be supposed, for his own honour, or the welfare of his subjects. . . .

Elizabeth, after having reigned with the highest glory more than forty-four years, at length submitted to the stroke of death, March 24, 1603, in the seventieth year of her age, and thereby made way for James, to the incredible joy of his Scottish subjects, and to the no less pleasure of his English ones, who in such crouds hastened to see him, that he issued out a proclamation against their thronging about him. In his coming to London he displayed something of his arbitrary disposition, by ordering a cutpurse to be hanged without any legal process; as quickly afterwards he did his revenge on one Valentine Thomas, who had many years before accused him of having ill designs against Elizabeth; hereby making good the observation that cowards never forgive. He was attended by great numbers of Scots in his coming into England, who were advanced to great honours, and shared largely in his bounty, at the expence and much to the regret of the English nation, to whom it is, with some good degree of probability, said, that they behaved with much rudeness and insolency. However the English were not neglected by James, for on them also he heaped honours in abundance; and 'tis certain, that a great many particular persons obtained great wealth, and large possessions from him, to the impoverishing of the crown, and the reducing himself in a few years to great want. He soon shewed his gratitude to Elizabeth for the crown she had left him, by permitting no one to appear in mourning for her before him, and even speaking himself not only without gratitude, respect, or regard of her; but also with contempt, to the amazement of standers by. He was excessively addicted to ease and pleasure, and indulged himself in drinking, even so far as to render himself sometimes contemptible. And from his known love of masculine beauty, his excessive favour to such as were possessed of it, and unseemly Caresses of them, one would be tempted to think, that he was not wholly free from a vice most unnatural. @ I shall give my authorities, and leave the reader to judge what conclusion is to be drawn from them.----“As no other reason appeared in favour of their [the favourites of James] choice but handsomeness, so the love the king shewed, was as amorously conveyed as if he had mistaken their sex, and thought them ladies; which I have seen Somerset and Buckingham labour to resemble in the effeminateness of their dressings; . . . for the king's kissing them after so lascivious a mode in public, and upon the theatre as it were of the world, prompted many to imagine some things done in the tyring-house , that exceed my expressions no less than they do my experience.” . . . @

He used cursing and swearing in his common conversation; and stuck not, on occasion, to utter the most bitter imprecations on himself, and on his posterity. And yet notwithstanding, upon times, he gave himself great airs of religion, and talked after such a manner, as to lead those who were unacquainted with him, to believe that he had a more than ordinary degree of sanctity. Hunting was a favourite diversion with him, which he practiced so much, as to neglect the great and weighty business of state, and leave everything of consequence to be transacted by his council, to his no small dishonour.

He had a vehement desire to be thought learned, and master of the controversies then on foot, which made him expose himself much in the conference at Hampton-Court, between the episcopalians and the puritans, where he set up for a disputant, and behaved with a great and visible partiality. Indeed, his conduct in this affair was such, as has been severely censured on almost all hands, as it well deserved. @ In answer to a question started how far an ordinance of the church was to bind, without impeaching christian liberty? James said, `he would not argue that point, but answer therein as kings are wont to do in parliament, le roy s'avisera; adding withal, that it smelled very rankly of anabaptism, . . . But I will have none of that, I will have one doctrine, and one discipline, one religion in substance and in ceremony; and therefore I charge you never to speak more to that point (how far you are bound to obey) when the church hath ordained it.' . . . Afterwards asking if they had any thing further to object? and being answered no, he said, “If this was all, he would make them conform, or would hurry them out of the land, or else do worse.”----------This was the behaviour of James in this celebrated conference; a behaviour contemptible and ridiculous, and such as must expose him to standers-by.

. . . Barlow thought he had done a great piece of service to James, by publishing this conference; but a worse office, in reality, could not have been done him. Posterity, by his account, see James's pedantry; and to see it, is to despise it. The puritans, therefore, needed not to have complained so much as they have done of Barlow. If he has not represented their arguments in as just a light, nor related what was done by the ministers as advantageously as truth required, he has abundantly made it up to them by shewing, that the bishops, their adversaries, were gross flatterers, and had no regard to their sacred characters; and that their mortal foe James had but a low understanding, and was undeserving of the rank he assumed in the republic of learning. This he has done effectually, and therefore, whatever was his intention, the puritans should have applauded his performance, and appealed to it for proof of the insufficiency of him who set himself up as a decider of their controversies. @

Arminius dying Oct. 19, 1609, Conrad Vorstius was invited to succeed him in his professor's chair of divinity at Leyden: after a year's deliberation he accepted of it. But James, in the mean time, having seen some of his writings, sent orders to his ambassador, Sir Ralph Winwood, in Holland, to represent the vileness of his doctrines, and desire that he might not be admitted to his place. The states returning an answer not satisfactory, he renewed his application; and in order the more effectually to exclude Vorstius from the place to which he had been chosen, and also had accepted, he published a declaration concerning the proceedings with the states general of the united provinces of the Low Countries in the cause of D. Conradus Vorstius, in which, among other things, he declares, that only for the title of one of his books, viz. de filiatione Christi, an author so suspected as he, is worthy of the faggot; and that if he had been his own subject, he would have forced him to have confessed those wicked heresies that were rooted in his heart; and I doubt not but he would have been as good as his word; for soon after he caused two of his own subjects to be burnt for heresy. @ The names of these two were Bartholomew Legate, and Edward Wightman. The first of these was a man of great skill in the scriptures, and his conversation unblamable. His errors were somewhat of the same kind with those attributed to Socinus; and withal he had the hardiness to say, that the Nicene and Athanasian creeds contain not a profession of the true christian faith. James caused him to be brought to him, and attempted his conversion; but when he found that he was intractable, he dismissed him with a contemptuous speech; and afterwards by the bishops being declared an incorrigible heretic, he gave orders to direct the writ de hæretico comburendo to the sheriffs of London, and in Smithfield he was burned to ashes. What Wightman was, or what his errors, is hard to say. The heresies of Ebion, Cerinthus, Valentinian, Arrius, Macedonius, Simon Magus, Manes Manichæus, Photinus, and the Anabaptists, were reckoned up against him in the warrant for his burning; but, probably, he knew not what they meant thereby, any more than they themselves did who inserted them in his accusation. They were hard words, and they thought, it may be, that they would terrify and affright. However this is certain, that for his errors, whatever they were, he was burnt at Litchfield. These executions were in the year 1611.

James had another heretic to exercise his zeal on also; but seeing those that suffered were much pitied, he very mercifully let him linger out his life in Newgate. Had I not reason then to say, that I doubted not James would have been as good as his word, in making Vorstius confess his heresies, had he been his subject? I make no doubt but that he would have used his endeavours; and if these had failed, would have treated him as bad as he did Legate and Wightman. For he had the spirit of an inquisitor: no pity, no compassion was within him: he had no sense of the worth of those men who preferred a good conscience before all things; he thought 'twas only obstinacy in them, and therefore deemed them worthy of punishment. So easy is it for men who have no principles themselves, to censure and condemn those who are truly honest and sincere. I wish for the honour of human nature, for the honour of christianity, and the honour of the reformation, that no such instances of persecution had been to be found; but, as we cannot blot them out, we ought to set a mark on those who occasioned them, that so their names may be treated with that indignation they so justly merit.

...I will insert a paragraph from the warrant for the execution of Legate, with the reader's leave, which will shew us pretty much the temper of James, and so conclude. “As a zealot of justice, and a defender of the catholic faith, and willing to defend and maintain the holy church, and rights and liberties of the same, and the catholic faith, and such heresies and errors every where what in us lieth, to root out and extirpate, and to punish with condign punishment such heretics so convicted, and deeming that such an heretic in form aforesaid, convicted and condemned according to the laws and customs of this our kingdom of England, in this part occasioned, ought to be burned with fire, we do command, &c.” @

'Tis very remarkable, that in this declaration against Vorstius, he falls foul on the name of Arminius; and that afterwards he contributed much to the condemnation of his followers, by sending his divines to the synod of Dort, where their doctrine was rejected, the contrary thereunto confirmed, and they themselves stigmatized as introducers of novelties, obstinate and disobedient, preachers of erroneous doctrine, and corrupters of religion; and as such condemned to be deprived of all ecclesiastical and academical functions. But severe as James was against the Arminians abroad, he favoured them much at home, and advanced several of them to the greatest dignities. So amazingly inconsistent was his conduct. . . .

[Here follows a lengthy account of his weak and dishonorable foreign policy, which I omit, but which may be summarized in the following from another book: “He spent much, and had much use of his subjects purses, which bred some clashing with them in Parliament, . . . in sending Embassadors, which were no less chargeable then dishonourable and unprofitable to him and his whole kingdom; for he was ever abused in all negotiations, yet he had rather spend 100,000l. on Embassies, to keep or procure peace with dishonour, then 10,000l. on an Army that would have forced peace with honour.”----The Court and Character of King James, by Sir A. W[eldon], pg. 57.]

No wonder then that he was burlesqued, ridiculed, and exposed abroad, by those who observed his conduct; and that he was spoken of most contemptuously, even by his best friends, Maurice prince of Orange, and Henry the Great of France, as well as by his subjects, who could not without indignation behold the empty, insignificant figure the nation was reduced to by his management, and the scoffs and jeers wherewith they were insulted by their neighbours. But however weak and pusillanimous James's conduct was abroad, at home he behaved very haughtily. He valued himself much on his heredity right, and lineal descent, to the crown, and talked of it in most pompous terms, tho' nothing could be more absurd and chimerical.

In consequence hereof he entertained high notions of the prerogative, and carried the doctrine of the regal power, to a pitch was amazingly great, and bordering on impiety. Nor could he with any patience bear that any should assert its being liable to be contradicted or controuled. He treated his parliaments in many cases most contemptuously both by words and actions; giving himself extraordinary airs of wisdom and authority, and undervaluing their power, skill and capacity. And not contented herewith he openly and avowedly violated their privileges, by imprisoning, and otherwise grieving such of their members as had dared to speak contrary to his mind in the house; to their no small loss and damage.-------------------Nor did he behave better with regard to his other subjects. Those who opposed his will, surely smarted for it, and very light and trifling, or even innocent actions were most rigorously punished. Justice he seems indeed to have had little or no regard to, as appeared by his unparalleled treatment of Sir Walter Raleigh, the glory of his age and nation, whom he caused to be executed after a respite of a great number of years, without the least colour of a pretence: and likewise by his saving Somerset, and his lady, from that punishment which the laws had justly doomed them to, by reason of their abominable crimes. Somerset, indeed, had been a favourite; and to his favourites, James was kind in all things; condescending to what was below his dignity in order to please or serve them in almost any matters; submitting even to be affronted, and insulted by them; and yielding to their desires even sometimes contrary to his own sense of things.----------------He professed himself to be a protestant, and boasted that he had been a kind of martyr for that profession, though he never shewed his regard to those of that persuasion in Germany or France, but suffered them to be oppressed by the houses of Bourbon, and Austria, without affording them assistance of any value; directly contrary to all the maxims of good policy, and the conduct of queen Elizabeth, who valued herself, not unjustly, on the aids she from time to time had given them, to her own, as well as their great advantage. Though he was not a catholic in persuasion, he favoured those that were, provided they would swear allegiance unto him; and he not only relaxed the rigour of the laws in their favour, but consented to such terms for them, in the marriage articles with Spain and France, as but very few of his protestant subjects, who were independant of the court, approved, and many greatly murmured at. The church of England, under James, was in a happy state, being highly praised, protected, and favoured by him, yea, moreover advanced to riches, honor, and power; whereby she became in a condition to be both dreaded and envied by her adversaries. Not so the puritans. These were the objects of his majesty's highest aversion and greatest hatred; these he was continuously reproaching in his writings; and not contented herewith he exposed them to the censure of the high commission, who suspended, deprived and excommunicated them, notwithstanding the intercession made for them by many persons of quality, and by one of his parliaments. In Scotland he pursued them with rigour, and was not contented till he set up episcopacy, though contrary to the inclinations of ministers and people. Being seized with an ague, he died March 27, 1625, in the 59th year of his age.

Ï Book Review Ï
by Glenn Conjurske

The Two Wesleys, by C. H. Spurgeon.

Reprint by Pilgrim Publications, Pasadena, Texas, 1975, 64 pp., paperback.

This book consists of “A Lecture Delivered in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Lecture Hall, On December 6th, 1861.” It is always gratifying to hear what one man of God says about another, and this little book is no disappointment. It will make, indeed, an excellent thing to put into the hands of narrow-spirited Calvinists, for Spurgeon the Calvinist praises John and Charles Wesley the Arminians just about as highly as one man can praise another. He says (pg. 63) “It will be time for us to find fault with John and Charles Wesley, not when we discover their mistakes, but when we have cured our own. When we shall have more piety than they, more fire, more grace, more burning love, more intense unselfishness, then, and not till then, may we begin to find fault and criticize. For my part, I am as one who can see the spots in the sun, but know it to be the sun still, and only weep for my farthing candle by the side of such a luminary.” It is refreshing to read such words from a Calvinist, and they are of as much credit to Spurgeon as they are to the Wesleys.

Yet the book is unfair to Wesley in several places, and on these I desire to make a few remarks. I do not mean to imply that Spurgeon was intentionally unfair to Wesley. I do not believe that he was. But he evidently got some of his information from prejudiced or bigoted sources, and did not always have the facts correctly. As he tells us himself, the method by which he prepared himself for this lecture was to procure a pile of books on the subject one week before the lecture, and so to gather his information in one week. And as he tells us also, in pages 45-46, he is principally indebted for his facts to one book in particular. Having used such a method, it is not at all surprising that he did not always have the facts straight, or that he sometimes misconstrued them.

On page 5 Spurgeon calls John Wesley's preface to his Hymn Book “the noblest specimen of egotism committed to pen and ink.” It is true, Wesley praises the hymns, but how this can be called “egotism” I cannot well understand, since almost all of the hymns were written by his brother, not by himself. Besides, may not a man judge objectively of his own poetry? I have written a few hymns myself, and I judge my own hymns much more unsparingly than I do the hymns of others. I have many hymns in my hymn book which I would never have allowed to see the light of day if I had written them myself. I know----for I feel----exactly where the weak lines are in my own poems, and know also that I have written some which have no weak lines. So that now I may be charged with “egotism” also.

On page 25, speaking of the Kingswood school, Spurgeon says, “though I think it was Whitefield's property, for he found and collected most of the money, Wesley managed, when the quarrel arose between them, to get that on his own account. I cannot quite see how he did it, I must leave that to his defenders to clear up; it is a little point on which I have some question.” On this point I cannot pretend to say who was in the right. I only give Wesley's own account of the matter from a letter to George Whitefield, April 27, 1741: “Two years since, your design was to build them a school, that their children also might be taught to fear the Lord. To this end you collected some money more than once; how much I cannot say, till I have my papers. But this I know, it was not near one half of what has been expended on the work. This design you then recommended to me, and I pursued it with all my might, through such a train of difficulties as (I will be bold to say) you have not yet met with in your life. For many months I collected money wherever I was: in Kingswood for that house only; in Bristol for the schoolhouse to be built there; in other places generally for Bath. In June 1739, being able to procure none any other way, I bought a little piece of ground and began building thereon, though I had not then a quarter of the money requisite to finish. However, taking all the debt upon myself, the creditors were willing to stay: and then it was that I took possession of it in my own name----viz. when the foundation was laid; and from that time to this only I immediately made my will, fixing my brother and you to succeed me therein.

“Now, my brother, I will answer your main question. I think you can claim no right to that building, either in equity or law, before my demise. And every honest lawyer will tell you the same. But if you repent of your collecting the money towards it I will repay it as speedily as I can; although I now owe more than two hundred pounds on account of Kingswood School only.”

But to turn to something more serious, in speaking of the Calvinistic-Arminian controversy, Spurgeon says on page 30, “But, to say the truth, Mr. Fletcher, of Madeley, who took Wesley's side of the question, was the worst controversialist of the lot, a great deal the worst; for, without using bad names, he, in the most quiet and pious manner, blasphemes. I do not know whether you understand what I mean, but you know there are different ways of a man's cursing another. One does it in `Billingsgate', but that is very low and common. Another one does it genteelly.” This is strange speaking. Fletcher cursing? Fletcher blaspheming? We wonder if Spurgeon had ever read Fletcher at all. Abundance of testimonies might be cited, from both Calvinists and Arminians, as to the excellence of Fletcher's spirit, so that it is strictly true which John Telford says of him, that for “invincible charity, and high-toned courtesy, Fletcher has on all hands won the highest praise.” We can understand that Spurgeon did not like Fletcher's doctrine, but that is another matter.

On page 31 Spurgeon says, “Mr. Wesley did not distinguish himself by his fairness. He misrepresented our views; he put words into the lips of Mr. Toplady, for instance, that he never uttered, and, at the last,----and this was a piece of cruelty which is to be pardoned, since he is in heaven, and God has pardoned him,----he announced from the pulpit that Mr. Toplady, on his dying bed, had renounced the doctrines which he had preached, and that he died in terror and in fear. All this was totally false, and witnesses, who had marked the triumphant entrance of Mr. Toplady into his glorious rest, were willing to prove that it was an utterly unfounded slander. I do not think Wesley was the inventor of it, but it is ill to propagate a falsehood such as this.”

In this there are two charges, the first being that Wesley misrepresented Toplady, and put words into his mouth which he never uttered. This is in fact true, at least the latter half of it. For he attributed to Toplady what he considered to be the logical consequences of Toplady's doctrines, consequences which Toplady himself disclaimed. I do not attempt to defend Wesley in this. I think it was unwise, if not uncharitable. I do not think Wesley intended any unfairness by it, for to his mind (as well as to my own) the consequences which he attributed to Toplady's doctrine did in fact belong to it. But then Spurgeon mistakes the case when he says Wesley “misrepresented our views.” How he can say “our,” when he speaks of himself and Toplady, is hard to guess. Spurgeon says on page 54, “People have always represented that Calvinists preach reprobation, a doctrine we do not hold; it is not at all involved in election, but is a doctrine which we as much detest as the Arminians themselves do.” So Spurgeon, but Toplady did not detest reprobation, but held it in its most rigid form. Toplady did assert reprobation, in the most explicit terms. So that when Spurgeon says that Wesley misrepresented “our” views, he is a little mistaken. He may have misrepresented Spurgeon's views, but he was not dealing with Spurgeon. I do not think he much misrepresented the views of Toplady.

But there is a more serious charge here, namely, that Wesley announced from the pulpit that Toplady had renounced his doctrines and died in despair. This I do not believe. The only authority I have ever been able to find for it is a rumor circulated by Wesley's enemies. (And even in this Spurgeon seems to have the facts wrong, for the rumor was that Wesley had repeated these things privately, not from the pulpit.) At any rate, when this rumor became current among Toplady's friends, Sir Richard Hill addressed Wesley twice publicly in print, calling upon him to answer for himself. He began his first letter, “I give you this public notice, that certain persons who are your enemies, perhaps only because you keep clear of their Calvinistic doctrines, have thought proper to affirm, that you and some of your preachers, have been vilifying the ashes, and traducing the memory of the late Mr. Augustus Toplady.” It was supposed that Wesley did not answer this because it was anonymous. Hill therefore addressed him again, under his own name, but in such a spirit that it is little wonder Wesley did not answer. Wesley had suffered enough before at the hands of Hill, and had little reason to expect fairness from him. As Wesley did not answer, his enemies took it for an established fact that he was guilty.

But in the first place, this is not the kind of thing that Wesley would have repeated from the pulpit, even if he had been himself an eye-witness of it. He was not so small a man as that. It is doubtful that he would have repeated it privately either. The facts of the matter, then, stand thus: either Wesley spread an evil report of Toplady, or Wesley's Calvinistic enemies (as Hill himself identifies them) spread an evil report of Wesley. Which is more likely? When Toplady was alive, he spread evil reports of Wesley publicly and in print, and that with a bitterness which even Calvinists (as J. C. Ryle) have deeply deplored. Wesley did not return the same. Which then is more likely, that after Toplady's death, Wesley spread an evil report of Toplady, or that Wesley's enemies spread an evil report of Wesley?

I think Wesley ought to have answered for himself, but he was well used to attacks upon his character, and often went his way without answering them. Spurgeon himself relates an instance of this on pages 43 and 44 of this book. Wesley knew what kind of bigotry he was dealing with----probably knew quite well that if he had published a denial, it would not have been believed, and would probably have been used to further blacken him. We may think it unwise in Wesley not to have answered for himself, but he was content to leave his reputation in the hands of the God whom he served.

As for Mr. Spurgeon's repeating this rumor, let him scourge himself for it: on page 46 he says, “Now, it was not sufficient for the writer of these Memoirs of the Hymn Writers simply to state the truth about Mr. Wesley, but there are not a few passages which commence with, `It is reported that he said.' Now, there are enough sure and certain facts without quoting mere reports.

“Although I am at the very antipodes of Mr. Wesley with regard to doctrinal views, I do not think it is at all fair to write an article against him in which his piety is suspected, and it is doubted whether he ever was a child of God at all. Of course, it is sheer bigotry that talks thus; and, instead of bringing facts against him, says, `It is reported that he said.' Who among us could ever get to heaven, if we had to be judged by reports? Who could have a fair name among men if everything anybody likes to declare that we said should be taken as actual matter-of-fact?”

On page 32 Spurgeon says concerning Wesley's controverted Minutes, “but next year Mr. Wesley and his brother signed a document to the effect that what he had said [in the Minutes] was, perhaps, incorrect, and that he had not meant to teach anything but justification by faith. But he did as good as retrace his steps, for he got Mr. Fletcher to write in vindication of the mistake he had made, thereby undoing his confession; confessing that he was wrong, and getting another to prove that he was right. I know not how to speak of such strange dealing----I should not like to use the word `shuffling'----but I think that I may call it double-dealing.” But here again, it is only that Spurgeon does not have the facts right. He has obviously gotten his “facts” from bigoted sources, which had little concern for truth. The document which Wesley signed was in no sense a “confession” that there was anything “incorrect” in his minutes, but only a declaration that others had taken those minutes in a wrong sense, and that “we had no such meaning” as that which others had put upon the minutes.

The whole document says, “Whereas the doctrinal points in the Minutes of a Conference held in London, August 7, 1770, have been understood to favor `justification by works;' now, the Rev. John Wesley, and others, assembled in Conference, do declare that we had no such meaning; and that we abhor the doctrine of `justification by works,' as a most perilous and abominable doctrine. And as the said Minutes are not sufficiently guarded in the way they are expressed, we hereby solemnly declare, in the sight of God, that we have no trust or confidence but in the alone merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for justification or salvation, either in life, death, or the day of judgement. And though no one is a real Christian believer (and consequently cannot be saved) who doeth not good works, where there is time and opportunity; yet our works have no part in meriting or purchasing our justification, from first to last, either in whole or in part.” Thus the reader may see that the only thing “confessed” here is that the Minutes were not sufficiently guarded in expression. There is no hint that the meaning of them was “incorrect” or unscriptural, but only a declaration that Wesley's opponents had taken them in a wrong sense. The result of Wesley's signing of this document was that its author, Walter Shirley, wrote an avowal that the declaration which Wesley signed “has convinced Mr. Shirley he had mistaken the meaning of the doctrinal points.” (Italics are mine in both of the above quotations.)

For Wesley, then, to sign this document, and yet ask Fletcher to defend the Minutes, was no double-dealing at all. I have some question as to whether he ought to be commended or censured for signing it----perhaps a little of each----but at any rate the facts are not as Spurgeon has them. Besides, it is mere gratuitous assumption that Wesley got Fletcher to defend the Minutes. Fletcher had reason enough to defend them on his own account, for Lady Huntingdon had compelled him to quit his post as head of her college at Trevecka, if he would not fully disavow the doctrines of the minutes. And as soon as Fletcher received a copy of Shirley's circular letter (June 24, 1771), he sent a copy of it to Wesley, and wrote in the same letter, “I, for one, shall be glad to stand by you and your doctrine to the last.” But supposing that Wesley did get Fletcher to write in defense of the minutes, this certainly was not “retracing his steps,” for Fletcher's first Check to Antinomianism was finished and at the printers on July 29, and Wesley's conference did not sit till August 7. So much for Wesley's “double-dealing.”

I address one more point of the greatest interest. On pages 46-47 Spurgeon says, “Charles Wesley has received among the ultra-Calvinists a better reputation than John, which he certainly does not deserve. Their doctrinal views were identical. I cannot detect any difference at all. Charles vacillated at different times, but he certainly had as great a hand in the Arminian controversy as John had, and I do not see any practical difference between the brothers. If one is good, so is the other; and if one is bad, the other is bad, too.” I am not sure what he means by Charles vacillating, but it is absolutely certain that he never vacillated in his abhorrence of Calvinism. As for the reputations of John and Charles, the bigotry against John continues to this day. I was in Kregel's bookstore some years ago, and overheard an old (obviously Calvinistic) woman speaking of the Wesleys. Said she, “Charles Wesley was all right, but o-o-o-oh! that John!” Such as she might do well to read this little book by Spurgeon.

And with that I have done. It may appear from the several examples I have touched upon, that Spurgeon, in spite of his profession (page 5) of “not being biassed either way,” was yet a little too ready to believe ill of Wesley, his Calvinistic bias perhaps leading him in that direction. Nevertheless, he was not slow, as many Calvinists are, to believe good of Wesley, and he speaks generally with a very good spirit. It is a strong testimony, coming from a Calvinist, of the real greatness of Wesley, and at the same time a fine specimen of a true catholic spirit.


Baptist Revival on a Dance Floor

[I have published previously (August, 1994, Vol. 3, No. 8, pg. 185) an account of a Methodist revival on a dance floor, the result of a “desperate experiment” of the great Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright. The following (which I print without correcting the punctuation) is the account of another desperate experiment, this time performed by an unknown woman. Our own days of deadness and darkness call aloud for some desperate experiments----not to be glibly or rashly undertaken, but in the solemn spirit of the woman in the following account. May the Holy Spirit of God stir the spirits of his servants to some such desperate experiments, and lead them to such victories. ----editor.]

Some few years since, in the eastern part of Connecticut, the following remarkable circumstance took place.

In the town of ----------, there lived a respectable family by the name of

R----------s. Mrs. if not Mr. R. had made a public profession of religion, and joined the Baptist communion. But professors of all denominations had fallen into an awful state of insensibility, and seemed almost wholly conformed to the world.

It was common in this vicinity, at this time, for young people when they happened to meet together on an evening, to spend the time in dancing and other vain amusements. The custom of admitting parties to dance in private families, was too generally allowed of, even by professors of religion.

A particular circle of young persons, of which two or three of the above family made a part, not unfrequently met at their house. Notwithstanding Mrs. R----------'s religious feelings had greatly declined, and she viewed herself in a cold, backslidden state, yet she could not feel easy to countenance such vain amusements, but became resolved to reprove them. It so happened, that not long after, a number of these young people collected at her house, when it was soon proposed to engage in dancing. Mrs. R. perceiving what was going forward, felt her spirit stirred within her, like Paul when at Athens, but knew not what course to take, to prevent what her conscience disapproved. The young people had arranged themselves in order for what they termed a set dance, when Mrs. R. with much fear and trembling, resolved to venture into the room and try to speak to them. They were standing upon the floor, but had not commenced their dance, when she addressed them nearly as follows: “It seems to me, my young friends, some of your company are missing!” Not knowing to whom she alluded, they replied that they did not miss any one in particular. “No, said she; where is Isaac Deans? Where is Dennison Lathrop? Where is Perez Pembleton?” A brother of the last mentioned young man was one of the company, who was up and ready to lead down the dance. He was so struck, that he immediately cried out, “I am undone!” What do you mean, said one standing by him? He replied, “I am undone! I am going to hell! there is no mercy for me!” Terror and amazement in an instant spread over every countenance. They stood like so many statues, until it was said, that the floor was literally besprinkled with their tears. The conviction extended from heart to heart, until the whole exhibited a scene of distress, not very easy to be described. Thus their mirth and dancing was turned into weeping and distress.

Mrs. R. continued her pious and tender exhortations, while her heart was often ascending to God in fervent prayer that they might be saved.

The time at length arrived, when it was proper they should retire. With many tears, and solemn engagements to seek the Lord, they parted for the night.

But the reader will be anxious to learn the result of this remarkable meeting. If a friend of Christ, he will be gratified to learn, that most of this company were in a judgment of charity in a little time, hopefully converted to God. Some of them are still alive to declare that the Lord is good. Nor were the effects of this meeting limited to this little company. The work spread, until it was judged, that one hundred souls were made the subjects of a work of grace. What a wonder-working God!

Was Jael the wife of Heber, pronounced “blessed above women,” because she had destroyed the life of one of the enemies of God's people? How much rather blessed shall she be, who was thus happily instrumental in saving the souls of many from eternal ruin!

The circumstances of the above narrative are so well known to the Editors, that they hesitate not to give it a place; devoutly hoping it may be a means of exciting others to similar exertions to save the souls of men.

----The American Baptist Magazine, Boston: New Series, vol. III, 1821, pg. 194.

Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï
by the Editor

Eve's Apple

It is the common belief of the vulgar that Adam and Eve ate an apple in the garden of Eden, and this is no new idea. We read in the Southern Passion, a poem of about the year 1275,

çe seueêe day he hadde reste, of al êat he hadde er ydo.

çe eyteêe day Adam et, êe appel of êe treo.

That is,

The seventh day he had rest, from all that he had before done,

The eighth day Adam ate the apple of the tree.

A Lollard treatise of about the year 1400 informs us, “çe deuel whanne he temptid Eve, made a faire semblaunt/ for to stire hir to coueitise, to breke Goddis biddyng in eeting of êe appil, wherbi deeê schulde entre. çis womman sau3 êe appil, êat it was good in biholding,” etc.

In modernized English: “The devil when he tempted Eve, made a fair semblance, for to stir her to covetousness, to break God's bidding in eating of the apple, whereby death should enter. This woman saw the apple, that it was good in beholding,” etc.

And John Wycliffe himself, “For boêe Adam and Eve synneden bi êis coveitise, for bi êer unskilful desire êei coveitiden to ete of êe appil, and wenden êat it hadde be good for hem,”etc.

Modernized thus: “For both Adam and Eve sinned by this covetousness, for by their unskilful [unreasonable] desire they coveted to eat of the apple, and weened [supposed] that it had been good for them,” etc.

The forbidden fruit, no doubt, stuck in the throat of the guilty sinner, whence we have all inherited an Adam's apple.

Evangelicals today, of course know better than all of this, and rather disdain any idea of Adam eating an apple, for the Bible tells us nothing of what kind of fruit it was. But whence came this persistent tradition that the devil tempted Eve with an apple? The fact is, the word “apple” was formerly used to designate any kind of fruit. The Oxford English Dictionary informs us that “apple” designates “Any kind of fruit, or similar vegetable production; especialy such as in some respect resembles the Apple, but, from the earliest period, used with the greatest latitude.”

Thus the Anglo-Saxon Pentateuch, attributed to Ælfric, who died about 1050, has at Numbers 11:5, “& we hæfdon cucumeres, êæt sind earìæpla”

----that is, “and we had cucumbers, that is earth-apples.”

And the Wycliffe Bible, though it speaks of “fruit” in the temptation of Eve, yet uses “apples” often enough elsewhere to designate fruit in general. Thus:

Leviticus 19:23----“Whannne 3e weren gon in to êe loond, and plauntiden in it apple trees, 3e shulen doo away êe first fruytis of hem; êe apples êat buriounen shulen be vnclene to 3ou, ne 3e shulen eete of hem.” For “apple trees” the King James Version reads “all manner of trees for food.”

Leviticus 26:4----“êe erêe schal brynge forê his fruyt, and trees schulen be fillid wiê applis.”

Solomon speaks thus of his works in the Early Wycliffe Bible: “I made gardynes and appil gardynes, and I plauntide êem wiê êe trees of alle kinde.” (Eccl. 2:5). An apple garden is simply a fruit garden, planted with “trees of all kinds.” The Later Wycliffe Bible alters “appil gardynes” to “orcherdis.”

The “basket of summer fruit” (Amos 8:1-2) appears thus in the Later Wycliffe Bible: “çe Lord God schewide to me êese êingis; and lo! an hook of applis. And êe Lord seide, What seist êou, Amos? And Y seide, An hook of applis.”

Finally, in Rev. 18:14, “And êin applis of êe desire of êi lijf wenten awei fro êe,” where our Bibles read, “The fruits which thy soul lusted after are departed from thee.” In this text William Tyndale's first New Testament reads, “And the apples that thy soll lusted after,” and this was followed by all the subsequent English versions, being retained even as late as the Geneva and Bishops' Bibles, where it appears (in 1568) as “And the apples that thy soule lusted after.” This was altered to “fruits” by the King James Version. Its meaning was obviously “fruits” in all of those versions.

When men commonly spoke, then, of Eve eating an apple, they meant nothing more by it than that she ate a piece of fruit. But when the English language had so far changed that the word “apple” was no longer applied to fruit in general, men continued to speak of the temptation and fall of man in the same terms as always, and so arose the popular misconception.

Editorial Policies

OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for corrections of misprints) unless stated otherwise, and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own views are to be taken from his own writings.