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Vol. 6, No. 1
Jan., 1997

A Little Leaven

by Glenn Conjurske

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (I Cor. 5:6, Gal. 5:9).

When we leaven a lump of dough, we mix the leaven throughout, to ensure that it works the more quickly, but this is not strictly necessary. Just put a little leaven anywhere in the lump, and it will eventually work its way throughout, and leaven the whole. Leaven is evil, whether practical or doctrinal, and a little of it pollutes the whole mass. “A little leaven leavens the whole lump”----a little leaven which is allowed, that is. Allow a little leaven in the church, and it will infect the whole congregation, or the whole denomination. The one thing which we are to learn from the fact that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” is the absolute necessity of discipline. It is an absolute necessity to have standards in the church, and to enforce them, by excluding every person who will not submit to them. This is discipline, and wherever men are soft and lax about enforcing standards and excluding offenders, the leaven will work----and work----and work----and work----until the whole mass is leavened. The only thing which will stop the working of leaven is the fire, and the only thing which stops the working of leaven in the church is judgement.

Now there are two kinds of leaven. There is moral evil, and there is doctrinal evil, and the principles set forth here apply to both of them. In the first scripture in which Paul says “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” the leaven is moral evil. There was a man in the church living in fornication with his father's wife, and the church was doing nothing about it. That is, they were doing nothing effectual about it. They were no doubt praying about it. Some of the bolder spirits among them had likely reproved the offenders. There were probably some intentional references to fornication in some of the sermons preached among them. But none of this was anything to the purpose. The leaven was still working, and Paul is so bold as to inform them that it would leaven the whole lump.

Not necessarily that they would all become fornicators, though some of them doubtless would. An evil example always bears evil fruit, and when an evil example is allowed in the church----winked at by the good and the godly----its evil fruit will be so much the greater. But even those who never would become fornicators themselves were yet defiled by allowing a fornicator among them. “Ye are puffed up,” says Paul. Though not fornicators themselves, they were yet in no very good state of soul, and the longer the leaven was allowed unchecked among them, the worse the state of their own souls must necessarily become----the more of principle they must sacrifice, and the more insensitive they must become to evil.

Paul therefore comes forward with one simple and radical cure----discipline. “Purge out therefore the old leaven.” (Verse 7). “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (Verse 13).

Now, that we may understand the nature of leaven, mark who it is we are to put out. “That wicked person.” We are not to put out good men if they happen to displease us. We are not to be putting people out of the church for every little offense----or for things which are no offense. To put a man out of the church for shaving off his beard----or for not shaving off his beard, depending upon whether you are a Baptist or an Anabaptist----is discipline gone to seed. Evil is to be put away, not innocence, nor even ignorance. Any real wrong done becomes a matter of discipline if the perpetrator will not repent. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee,” and “if he will not hear thee,” “tell it unto the church, but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” (Matt. 18:15-17). The nature of the trespass is immaterial----only it is presumed that it is a real trespass, and such as the whole church will recognize as a real trespass. The seriousness of the sin is not in question, but the impenitence of the sinner. The man who refuses to repent of a small sin is just as impenitent as he that refuses to repent of a great one. No leaven is to be allowed in the church. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” We are not to expect perfection of anybody, but we are to expect holiness, and a right spirit in the pursuit of it. A little root of bitterness springing up will defile many. I have seen gossiping tongues all but destroy the work of God in a whole congregation, spreading suspicions and bitterness among all who would hear them. The tongue of the slanderer is no more to be allowed in the church than the thief or the adulterer.

But here I must address one popular misconception. Whenever we use the term “church discipline,” people immediately think of putting out offenders, but discipline does not consist merely of excommunicating the incorrigible, any more than law enforcement consists solely of hanging murderers. Discipline consists of setting standards and enforcing them. Putting out offenders is the least of our business. Discipline begins at the other end, with keeping out the unholy and the insubordinate. It is a great deal easier to keep leaven out, than to purge it out. In this day when every disgruntled soul who dislikes the discipline in one church----or dislikes some little quirk in the preacher----is accustomed to leave that church and find another, we ought to be extremely careful about whom we receive. Most of those disgruntled souls are trouble-makers. They ought to be met at the door with a rebuff. But most of the churches are more concerned about increasing their numbers than they are about maintaining their purity, and they take them in with open arms. They are taking in leaven, and making bitter work for themselves for the future.

Now if it is the lack of discipline in the other church that brings the discontented soul to your doors, there may be more hope of him. But still a careful inquiry ought to be made, and made of the other church, which he has left. These trouble-makers will of course profess that the other church was unspiritual, false in doctrine, weak in morals, etc., etc., but wounded pride or personal bitterness may be the actual reasons for their leaving. Yet it is often by speaking against the other church, and praising your own, that such a trouble-maker wins his way. He thus begins his leavening work before he gets inside the door, by appealing to your personal or sectarian pride. Yet you give him the right hand of fellowship, only to find that in another year it will be your church which he has left, your church of which he is speaking evil, and another which he is praising. Well, let him go, and be glad he is gone, and you may count yourself very fortunate if he has not left the leaven at work behind him----if he has planted no roots of bitterness among you, which will yet defile many.

Now I would guess that only the ignorant and the trouble-makers will dissent from these things. Most Christians have little difficulty about purging out moral evil. At the same time, many of them are strangely soft when it comes to doctrinal evil. Yet Paul's statement that “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump certainly applies to doctrine in Galatians 5. “This persuasion,” he says, “cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” And when the Lord charged his disciples to “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees,” he gave them to understand “that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:6 & 12). The leaven of evil doctrine will work as surely, and do as much hurt, as the leaven of moral evil. Are we then to tolerate doctrinal leaven, while we purge out practical leaven?

Certainly not. There is every bit as much need to purge out evil doctrine as there is evil living. But how is this to be done? Certainly, in the first place, by teaching the people better. But what if that is ineffectual? What if, in spite of all of your teaching, certain persons remain unconvinced, and hold their evil doctrines still? Then put them out of the church. The Lord explicitly takes to task the angel of the church at Pergamos for failing to do so. “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast them there that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” (Rev. 2:14-15). The angel's sin is that he has them there who hold these doctrines. He has them in the church. The Lord does not say he has any who are guilty of these practices, but he has those who hold these doctrines. He calls upon him to repent, and of what? Of having them there who hold these doctrines. It is taken for granted that to repent of this will mean to put them out.

Meanwhile it is plain enough that the leaven had already begun to work. “Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam.” This is plural. “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.” What, then? Had they received all of these heretics into the church in a body? Hardly. The evil doctrines had no doubt begun with one man, but they had spread like leaven. Others now held them also, and were no doubt zealously propagating them, as their founder had done.

But suppose they should agree to hold their peace, and keep their doctrines to themselves, should they then be tolerated in the church? Most assuredly not. The Lord does not take this angel to task because the people either taught or practiced those doctrines, but because they held them. The evil of which he was charged to repent is that he had them there who held such doctrines. This was enough to constitute them leaven, and any leaven will do its work. No leaven is to be tolerated. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

Leaven, however, must be understood to be doctrine which is actually evil. We are not to exclude from the church every man who cannot pronounce our “Shibboleth.” We grant that every false doctrine contains something of evil. I see a great deal of evil in post-millennialism, in Calvinism, in hyperspirituality, in much of the prevailing form of dispensationalism, and in the very gospel which is commonly preached by Evangelicals. Yet all of these things have been held by good men with good hearts, and surely they are not meant to be put out of the church. It seems to me there is something of another sort in leaven. It does not consist of the mistakes of good men, but of the perverseness of evil men. It is such doctrine as those whose hearts are pure ought to be able to recognize as evil.

Not that very many of the sheep are likely, of their own accord, to do so. This is precisely why it must be purged out, because the sheep will not recognize its evil, but will be carried away by it. But the shepherds and teachers are presumed to have sharper eyes. And mark well, the whole responsibility to purge out this leaven rests upon the angel of the congregation. The Lord charges him with the fault. “I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam.” The Lord charges the angel to repent of this. No doubt he is to lead the whole congregation to act with him in it----and purge out those who will not do so----but the responsibility lies upon him. Some will dispense with this, and fall back upon their notions about “the action of the Holy Spirit in the assembly.” No doubt the Holy Ghost knows what leaven is, but for all that the assembly may not. The Holy Spirit was present in the assembly at Corinth, and yet there was no action at all, until Paul initiated it from abroad. The situation called for a man of God, to lead the rest of the people, to call them to action, to purge out the leaven. God lays that burden upon the angels of the churches.

But we live in a day in which softness is the rule, a day in which softness is counted a virtue, and in which firm standards are counted “legalism,” or bigotry. Some of the Fundamentalist schools have firm standards, and exercise firm discipline, but a church which does so is an extreme rarity. Certain churches, indeed, pride themselves upon their “high standards.” They preach against television, against immodest dress, and against numerous other forms of worldliness, but they require nothing. They enforce nothing. The spiritual and right-hearted souls in the church submit to the standards which are preached, while the rest of the people ignore them. Spiritually-minded pastors and elders deeply lament such a situation, but they do nothing about it. Their hands are tied, their arms paralyzed. Meanwhile the leaven works. It may not work in a day, or a year. It commonly takes a generation for the whole lump to be leavened. But where will your church or denomination be in twenty years, if the best men among you are powerless to put out the leaven now? The leaven will not die out of its own accord. It will work and grow, until the whole is leavened. “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” This is not a theory, but a fact. “Know ye not?”

Alas, leaven will work and grow even when we are unconscious of its existence. Evil will do its work whether we are able to recognize it as evil or not. In that case we may bear little responsibility for it. But surely we are responsible for the evils which we recognize and yet allow.

The soft churches of this soft age need a baptism with the doughty stuff that Peter Cartwright was made of. Every Fundamentalist preacher ought to read his autobiography, and note well how he handles matters of discipline. He saw its neglect, and knew too well what the inevitable result would be. Indeed, so did a host of the old Methodist stalwarts. They foresaw that a little leaven would leaven the whole lump, and so it did. It was not modernism which destroyed Methodism, but neglect of discipline. It was neglect of discipline which produced the soil in which modernism could take root. It is neglect of discipline which has destroyed churches, schools, and denominations, and it is neglect of discipline which is destroying Fundamentalism before our eyes. The leaven has done so much of its work already that there are few Fundamentalists left who have any proper Biblical standards. Proper standards are commonly regarded as old-fashioned, or “legalistic”----a mindless term which generally betrays only the wrong-heartedness of him who uses it. But much worse is the fact that the standards which are held are usually not enforced. It is for just such a soft and liberal day as this that Scripture speaks, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”



By Glenn Conjurske

It is a very natural thing for girls to play with dolls. Females of all ages have a very strong mothering instinct. Little girls love to hold babies. My first daughter has been taking care of babies almost since she was a baby herself. In the absence of real babies, girls will naturally take up a doll, and mother that. In the absence of a doll, they will pretend a kitten is a baby----or a stick, or an old shoe, or anything which comes to hand. Girls do this by nature, and we can hardly suppose there is anything wrong in it. It would seem rather a good thing to cultivate the mothering instinct which belongs to their feminine nature.

Some, however, have held it to be evil for girls to play with dolls. “Dollatry” it has been called, as though a doll were some kind of idol. An image it is, no doubt, but hardly an idol, and in spite of some similarity in spelling, there is really no etymological relationship between “doll” and “idol.”

But the past generation or two have seen the advent----and the great popularity----of a new kind of doll, which is not a baby, but a shapely young woman. This has necessarily made playing with dolls a new kind of thing. These new dolls are not babies to mother, but models to emulate. And what sort of models? Sensuous, immodest, and extremely worldly. I have known one Christian mother to object to these new dolls on the basis of their shapeliness, but that is little likely even to be noticed by the girls who play with them. What will be noticed, and what will exert an influence, is their worldliness. All the trappings of these new dolls consist of neither more nor less than worldliness. We cannot help but believe that the whole business has been inspired by the devil. Playing with dolls after this fashion is no longer a wholesome thing. Mothering baby dolls may serve to cultivate wholesome emotions and habits in girls, but playing with this new brand of doll can only cultivate the wrong kind of passions, and inspire with a host of improper desires. Christian parents should see to it that their daughters have no such dolls in the house.


The Province of Faith

by Glenn Conjurske

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on October 6, 1996

The title of this sermon may not very well express its contents. I usually don't have any trouble formulating titles for my sermons and articles, which are succinct and expressive, but this time I am at a loss. What I mean by the province of faith----and perhaps I should say “provinces” or “acts” or “ways”----is simply what is the proper business of faith, what it does.

Though there is a great deal of preaching on faith in the Evangelical church, and though faith is very properly understood to belong to the foundation of our relationship to God, it seems that there is precious little understanding of what faith actually is, or of what it does. The notion which most people seem to have of faith is that it is that faculty by which we receive things from God. This is true, so far as it goes, but it is a very deficient idea of faith. So deficient, indeed, as to be practically wrong----so deficient as to lead us actually astray.

Turning to Hebrews 11, which is properly called the “faith chapter” of the Bible, we find indeed some things about receiving from God, but we find some other things also. In verse 11, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age.” In verses 33-35 we have a glorious list of things which the saints of old received by faith. “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens,” and “Women received their dead raised to life again.”

But there are also some things in this chapter about not receiving. In verse 39, “And these all, having obtained a good report though faith, received not the promise.” And in verse 13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises.” According to some popular notions of faith, this ought rather to have said, “These all died in unbelief, not having received the promises.” If faith is a magic wand, by which we may receive what we will when we will, how is it that these all died in faith, and yet did not receive the promises? Why did they not “name it and claim it”?

The fact is, there are three things which belong to the proper province of faith, and receiving is the last of the three.

The first thing which faith does is to give up what it has. This is the initial step.

The next thing faith does is to do without what it wants. This the long course.

The last thing which faith does is to receive its desires. This is the end of its course, and this may never come at all in this life. “These all died in faith, NOT having received the promises.” Those who suppose that the province of faith is to immediately receive its desires have a notion which is so far defective as to be actually false. Dangerous, too, for God has no obligation to conform his actions to these false ideas, and such a notion of faith is likely to lead first to disillusionment, and in the end to settled unbelief.

I don't pretend to give here an exhaustive list of the things which faith does. I only affirm that it must do these three things, and usually in this order. Yet the second of these propositions is generally ignored, while the first is often explicitly denied, and that by those who think they are preaching faith. I was once present at some evangelistic meetings, conducted by a Baptist evangelist, who told the people over and over, “You don't have to give up anything.” They took him at his word, too. He lined up the week's converts on the platform one evening, among them a young lady wearing a tee shirt embossed, “Elvis is king.” We might perhaps excuse such a thing in the young lady, on the plea of inveterate ignorance, but I rather fear that this may be carrying the plea of ignorance beyond its legitimate bounds. We need not know all the truth to be saved, but we must surely know some of it, and embrace it too, and it is certainly the business of the evangelist to teach men to repent of sin, renounce the flesh, and forsake the world. Alas, too many evangelists keep all such truth out of sight. They endeavor to make converts with a purely positive message, reserving everything negative until after the convert is made. But real converts cannot be made in this fashion, for the first province of faith is to give up. Paul's converts “turned from idols to serve the living and true God.” (I Thes. 1:9). Faith gives up what it has always with the prospect of receiving something better, but the receiving comes later.

I have known some to teach that if we give up all for Christ's sake, God will immediately give it all back to us. In other words, the Lord does not call upon us actually to give up anything. He only asks us to be willing to do so. But the doctrine of faith in Hebrews 11 is certainly another thing from this. It is true that God gave Isaac back to Abraham as soon as he saw Abraham willing to give him up, but he never gave back at all, sooner or later, his country, kindred, and father's house, which by faith Abraham had given up.

God's first word to Abraham was, “Get thee out----of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house.” (Gen. 12:1). “By faith Abraham ... obeyed, and he went out.” (Heb. 11:8). That is, he gave up all that he had in Ur of the Chaldees. This “by faith,” and this at the beginning of his course of faith. This he did, of course, with the prospect of receiving something better, but he never received it in this life. He “died in faith, not having received the promises.” It is plain then that the second province of Abraham's faith was to do without. He must do without all that he had given up and left behind him, and he must also do without the promised “better thing.” “He looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This was faith, surely, yet through his whole life he “looked for” that city, and never received it.

This is the long course of faith, and this may be a good deal more difficult than the initial giving up. When Abraham gave up his country and his kindred, he did so with the bright prospect of a better land. This made the giving up a comparatively easy thing. He had then no idea that he would walk his whole life as a stranger and a pilgrim in that land which God had promised him, and that God would never give to him in this life so much of it as to set his foot on. (Acts 7:5). But faith in the Bible is intimately connected with patience. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7). This patient waiting is required of faith, for God ordinarily has no intention of rewarding our faith immediately. There is usually a long course of waiting before us, and of course of doing without. During the time of “faith and patience,” we must do without all that we have given up by faith, as well as the “better thing” upon which our hopes are set. So it was with Abraham, and this is the most difficult part of faith. He could recall the kindred and possessions which he had left behind, and he could see the Canaanites in possession of their houses and lands in the very land which had been promised to him, and yet he himself had nothing of the sort. He dwelled in tents, as a pilgrim and a stranger.

This is the long course of faith, and it may be a course of extreme difficulty----of disappointments, hardships, and unfulfilled longings----while we behold those who have no faith prospering on all sides. It is just this which Psalm 37:7 addresses, saying, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him; fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way.”

And understand, it is precisely by faith that we thus do without. Abraham and Isaac were not forced to do without that home and rest which all of our souls love so well, and wander as homeless pilgrims and strangers. They chose to do without. This was the way of faith. “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.” (Heb. 11:15). They chose neither to return to the country from which they had come out, nor to take possession of the country to which God had led them, ere God gave it to them. This is always the way of faith, for it is God who requires us to give up the things of the world and the flesh, and it is God who withholds from us the “better thing” at his pleasure. We therefore must either do without, or compromise. Faith chooses to do without. There is no naming and claiming of anything here, but a long and difficult course of determined self-denial.

And what we see in Abraham, we see also in Moses. “By faith he forsook Egypt.” (Heb. 11:27). He gave up his position and possessions. “He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.” He parted with the pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt. These things were not wrenched from his grasp. He chose to give up the good which the world could give. He chose to do without it, and moreover to do without anything else in its place for the time being. True, “he had respect unto the recompence of the reward,” but that was only to come at the end of his course.

But more. Moses not only chose to do without the good, but to receive evil in its place. “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” This is the way of faith. At the close of the list of the glorious things which men had received by faith, we are told, “And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. ... They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise.” (Heb. 11:35-40). All of this they did by faith. They chose to do without the good things, even the necessities, of this life, while some of them chose to do without life itself. They chose to receive evil instead of good, and this for the long course. “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.” They looked for the receiving at the end of the long course.

Once understand the simple Bible doctrine of faith, and it immediately appears that much of the gospel preaching of our day is false. “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Indeed! And what sort of “wonderful plan”? Ah, perhaps to wander in sheepskins and goatskins, in deserts and in mountains. Perhaps to dwell in dens and caves of the earth. Perhaps to be destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Perhaps to languish year after year with unfulfilled longings. Perhaps to receive a dream from the Lord, and to be hated for it by your brethren, and so to go first to slavery, and then to prison, as Joseph did. A wonderful plan, indeed!----but the wonder of it did not appear till the end. Nor was it only Joseph's personal happiness which was consulted in the framing of that plan.

Yet observe, though we earnestly contend and preach that in the very nature of the case much of the reward of faith cannot come in this life, but must be reserved for the life to come, yet it also belongs to faith to receive some things in this life, and for this life. Joseph did, though only at the end of a long course of doing without. Some things must be received in this life, or they cannot be received at all. Faith lays hold of such things, as well as of the eternal recompense of the reward. “I had fainted,” David says, “unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13). The man who has a burning need for a wife, or the woman who craves a child, must have their desires granted in this life, or not at all, and faith lays hold of “the goodness of the Lord” for such things, and presses its claims, and receives its desires.

Not that this in any way overturns anything which we have said before. “By faith Sara received strength to conceive seed,” but only after languishing all her life, till she was ninety years old, doing without the child she craved. And here I take the occasion to point out that it is usually in the long course of doing without that faith breaks down. I have said earlier that the initial giving up is the comparatively easy thing. The long course of doing without is the hard thing----and especially when we see all the folks around us in the possession of the thing which we so much crave. Sarah had the promise, but no child, while a thousand women all around her had no promise, but abundance of children. This is what the Bible calls “the trial of our faith,” and it is often very severe. It is here that faith is most likely to break down. Sarah's faith did break down in the long course, and she contrived to receive her longed-for child by means of her handmaid Hagar. This was not of faith. It was the business of faith to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him,” and to fret not itself for others who prospered. And make no mistake about it, God will often try the faith of his own to the utmost ere they receive from him. Sarah must live many years seeing the wicked women of the Canaanites dwelling in houses filled with children, while she herself, with the promise of God, had only a tent, and an empty tent. Hannah endured all of the same pain, and to add to the trial of her faith, “her adversary provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.” (I Sam. 1:6). Her adversary----her husband's other wife----“had children, but Hannah had no children,” and her adversary made sure than Hannah never ceased to feel this. This is part of the trial of faith, and God himself sends the means to insure that we feel our deprivations while they endure. Faith submits to all of this.

Not that faith is passive in the business. Not so. Hannah was not passive, but wept and prayed before the Lord till she received from him. It is certainly not wrong in principle to take active steps----to do all we can---- to secure our desires, so long as those steps involve no compromise, no departure from faith or righteousness. Here lies the difference between Sarah's procuring of Ishmael, and Hannah's procuring of Samuel. Sarah's course was not of faith, but of the flesh. She resorted to questionable means. Hannah sought the blessing by prayer and tears. All legitimate means she was no doubt already using, and beyond that she could only weep and pray. And you will observe that the way of the flesh, which Sarah employed, issued only in trouble and strife----trouble and strife which have endured to this day, and will not end till the coming of the Prince of Peace. Hannah's course was of faith, and resulted in blessing for Israel, as well as the fulfillment of her own desires.

But I wish to make it very clear that Hannah's faith was not passive. Though I teach that it is the way of faith to do without, while it waits patiently for the Lord, it may wait patiently without waiting passively. I reprobate and deplore those hyperspiritual doctrines which make faith passive. It is the way of many hyperspiritual teachers to diligently inculcate passiveness in waiting upon the Lord----indeed, to make men so passive that they cannot be said to wait on the Lord at all. Single men are taught (by Bill Gothard, for example) to thank God that they are single, and thank him that if ever he sees that it will be more for his glory that they should marry, he will provide a wife----while they, meanwhile, take no active steps to seek one. Their burning need for a wife is entirely overlooked. Others teach that it is wrong to feel any such need. They teach the young people that they ought to be “fast asleep in Jesus,” with neither thought nor desire of marriage, enjoying spiritual fellowship with each other, until God by some spiritual means wakes them up and bids them marry. Some even teach that a single man ought to be asleep as Adam was, when God took Eve from his side. Such teaching may suit angels, but it ill befits men. All such teaching is as directly contrary to the way of faith, as it is impossible to normal human nature. Faith is not passive, but active. It is faith which says, “I will not let thee go until thou bless me.”

Yet observe, “until thou bless me.” Faith is determined to wait patiently, to do without, and even to receive evil in place of good, “until” God gives his blessing. And this may be a long course of waiting. Abraham waited twenty-five years for Isaac. And observe again, “until thou bless me.” Faith will resort to no compromises or questionable means, but will seek the blessing from God, and under God, and in the paths of truth and righteousness. If it cannot procure it thus and there, it waits. Yet all the while it wrestles with God. This turning of faith into a passive thing is directly against Scripture, and it is a very pernicious doctrine. This passive faith is in reality probably no faith at all, and might therefore, were it not for the tender mercies of God, effectually stand in the way of our ever receiving from him at all. Resignation belongs certainly to the ways of faith. Paul was resigned to do without that healing which he had so earnestly sought of the Lord, and live with his thorn in the flesh till the day of his death. But I fear that what is sometimes called resignation is in reality only lukewarmness. We do well to be resigned to doing without some things always, and all things sometimes. It is always right to be resigned to doing without the blessing “until” God gives it----and such resignation is necessary to keep us from compromise and fleshly means----but we may wrestle all the while.

Behold, then, that grand, noble, and ennobling thing called faith----giving up the good which it has in order to lay hold of that which God has promised----doing without both the one and the other through a long course of trials and disappointments----but receiving in the end its satisfaction, its vindication, and its fulness of joy. This is the faith of the Bible.


Which Edition of the Textus Receptus?

by Glenn Conjurske

For a quarter of a century the King James Only advocates have been telling us that “the Textus Receptus” is God's preserved text of the New Testament, and that it is “perfect and without error.” The originators of this doctrine never troubled themselves with the fact that there are numerous different editions of the Textus Receptus, none of them containing precisely the same text. But during the course of a quarter of a century this fact has been forced upon their attention by “the enemies of the truth,” that is, by the saints of God who do not believe these modern notions.

Now there are many such facts which have been forced upon the attention of the King James Only people. Their first reaction to these facts has generally been to indignantly deny those facts, while they call it rationalism to face them. As to that charge, we can grant them that it is rational to face facts, while it is certainly irrational to deny them. But these folks have found these facts to be stubborn things. They do not evaporate when they are ignored or denied. We may perhaps encompass the Rock of Gibraltar with a heavy fog, and go on denying the rock's existence so long as the fog remains, but whenever a ray of light manages to penetrate the fog, we shall find the rock there still.

Now during the lapse of a quarter of a century, many such rays of light have been forced through the fog, and again and again the King James Only men have been forced to acknowledge the truth of the facts which stand against their system. But alas, they have usually done this in a fashion which has done them no honor, for instead of giving up the errors which those facts overturn, they have rather refined and modified their system, so as to endeavor to accommodate the facts, while they hold the error still.

While many of those refinements are nothing more than subtle sophistries, others of them are frank and honest endeavors to deal with the inconsistencies of the system. Yet I have observed that every one of the latter sort of those refinements renders the system both more reasonable and less reasonable. More reasonable, in that it faces and acknowledges facts which it had previously ignored or denied, but less reasonable in that every such acknowledgement has rendered the whole system more self-contradictory, and therefore rendered its adherents less excusable for holding it. It has often happened that in refining this system in order to accommodate the facts, they have actually (though of course unwittingly) given up the foundation upon which the system is built, while they yet retain the system which they have built upon it. Let it be understood that the only foundation which has ever been professed for this system is the supposed Bible doctrine of the preservation of the true text of Scripture, and it is precisely this doctrine of preservation which has often been given up in order to accommodate the facts concerning the Textus Receptus and the King James Version.

From the beginning of the King James Only movement, its adherents have insisted that “the Textus Receptus” is the preserved text of the New Testament, just as though “the Textus Receptus” consisted of a single edition, always the same, and easily identified. This was mere ignorance----as much so as if we were to speak in the same manner of “Webster's Dictionary.” There might be some excuse for this in a schoolboy, who had never seen but one edition of “Webster's Dictionary,” but if serious adults----if preachers and teachers----set up “Webster's Dictionary” as the perfect standard of the English language, we must know, “Which edition?” Webster's first? His last? The latest edition which has come from the press under his name, though he has been long dead? If “Webster's Dictionary” is to be insisted upon as the standard of perfection, we must have an answer to this question, or the whole business is nonsense. If the teachers of the English language were to set up a “Which Dictionary? Society,” and flood the land with bitter controversies by their constant asseverations that “Webster's Dictionary” is the only true dictionary, while totally ignoring the fact that there are numerous differing editions of “Webster's Dictionary,” we should judge them to be either without sense or without honesty----and certainly without excuse.

And so exactly if “the Textus Receptus” is insisted upon as the perfect standard----for it is a fact, as stubborn as Gibraltar, that there are numerous editions of “the Textus Receptus,” none of them identical. For years the advocates of a perfect Textus Receptus ignored this question. Some of them still do. When I have asked of them which edition is the true one, I have been told it is not a fair question. One good brother asked in response if I would seriously want the present shallow generation to decide which edition is perfect! A good question, truly! Nevertheless, since it is the present shallow generation which asserts that “the Textus Receptus” is perfect, they certainly have an obligation----to themselves if not to the rest of us----to determine exactly what it is which they think is perfect. But most of the advocates of a perfect Textus Receptus, throughout most of the time that these modern doctrines have existed, have simply ignored this question. Most of them have doubtless been unaware of its existence. They have been as unaware that there were varying editions of the Textus Receptus, as they were that the King James Version does not completely agree with any of them. It belongs to the later refinements of the movement to specify any particular edition as the true Textus Receptus.

And, as is usual with these folks, those who have specified a particular edition as the true text have actually given up the foundation of their system in order to do so. It must be understood that the common practice of these men is to write, revise, or invent history just as their doctrine requires. When they have been pressed, therefore, to identify the actual Textus Receptus which is “God's preserved text,” they consulted nothing except the exigencies of their doctrine. It would not do to specify any of those editions which have commonly been known as “the Textus Receptus,” for the King James Version does not completely agree with any of them----and complete agreement is a necessity when we insist that both Textus Receptus and King James Version are infallible, or “perfect and without error.” If they were to specify any edition of “the Textus Receptus” as perfect, they must have one which agrees with the King James Version. Now it just so happens that there is a Greek text which agrees (almost agrees, at any rate) with the King James Version. It was constructed on purpose to represent the Greek text which underlies the King James Version. This was the work of F. H. A. Scrivener, performed in 1881, for the purpose of exhibiting the differences in text between the Authorized Version and the Revised. He could not use any existing edition of “the Textus Receptus” for that purpose, for the King James Version did not agree in all points with any of them. He must construct a new text. If it be said he was reconstructing the old text, the result was at any rate a text different from any which was ever known to exist from the second century to the nineteenth.

Suffice it to say that this is “the Textus Receptus” which some of the King James Only people have lately endorsed as the true one. An attempt at consistency has forced them to this choice. By this choice they hoped to extricate themselves from the mesh of self-contradictions in which their system has been involved from the beginning, in advocating a perfect text and a perfect version which often disagree with each other----for it is a plain fact that none of those editions commonly called “the Textus Receptus” agree exactly with the King James Version. But the choice has not helped their system at all. It has rather introduced a fresh crop of inconsistencies and self-contradictions.

To begin with the most serious matter, how can they seriously maintain their doctrine of the preservation in perfection of the true text of Scripture, while they designate as the true text a text which never existed in the world before 1881----a text which was constructed in 1881? To adopt this text as the true Textus Receptus is in fact to give up their foundation. Whatever this may be, it certainly is not “preservation.” It is absolutely inconsistent with the very idea of preservation. It is just such a stroke as manifests the usual absence of thought, which has characterized this movement from the beginning. They hold doctrines which are glaringly incompatible with the facts of history----facts which are in their hands, and on their tongues----and never perceive the inconsistency. Let not my brethren of the King James Only persuasion be offended at this, or raise the cry that this is harsh, or uncharitable. Let them first inquire whether it be true. These men have filled the church of God with disputes about “preservation,” without ever understanding their own doctrine. Many of them have never yet understood so much as the meaning of the word “preservation.”

That they do not know what preservation consists of is evident from numerous of their own statements. I have in my hands a book by one Dr. Kirk D. DiVietro, entitled Why Not the King James Bible!, published in 1995 by The Bible for Today. This book professes to be an answer to James R. White's book entitled The King James Only Controversy. On page 20 DiVietro makes the following remarkable statement:

“I thought Erasmus produced the Textus Receptus! ... He was restoring the Greek text...!” Restoring? How can you “restore” something which has been perfectly preserved? We have been told all these years that Erasmus was printing the text which had been preserved by God, but DiVietro obviously knows nothing of the meaning of “preservation.”

Again on page 21, “Erasmus was restoring the Greek.”

Again on page 29 (emphasis added), “The defender of the King James Bible should realize that the final form of the Greek text CAME INTO BEING with the publication of the KJV in 1611. Providence had guided the RESTORATION of the Greek text through almost 100 years of constant review and REVISION.” And this they call “preservation”? Why then do they not call a fried egg a cuckoo clock? We restore what has been corrupted, not what has been preserved. In its very nature preservation must be continuous, from beginning to end. Restoration is not preservation, and there can be no occasion to restore what has been preserved. The “final form” of anything which is preserved is just the same as it was the first day of its existence, and every day thereafter. This is the meaning of “preservation,” and is certainly necessary to their doctrine of perfect preservation.

We grant there may be such a thing as partial preservation, and subsequent restoration, but this is absolutely inconsistent with the doctrine which these men hold----a doctrine which affirms that God's PROMISE of preservation SECURES to his people an EXACT COPY of the true text. What then? Did this promise of God “come into being” in 1881----or did God not keep his promises prior to 1881? It is an absolute certainty that for centuries on end before that date there was no exact copy of this supposed true text in existence on the earth. DiVietro admits this, when he says that the defender of the King James Bible “should realize” that the “final form” of the true text came into being with the publication of the King James Version. But all it amounts to is this: the King James Only people “SHOULD REALIZE” that such a notion is necessary to the maintenance of their system. They “should realize” that they must believe just such historical “facts” as support the infallibility of the King James Version.

But such language is absolutely inconsistent with the doctrine of preservation which they preach. We can have no restoration, no final form, no coming into being, of anything which has been preserved in perfection. All of this language is the full admission that there never has been any such “preservation” as these folks contend for.

But more. DiVietro is grasping at air when he asserts that the true text came into being in 1611. Where was it? Who held it in his hands? Who printed it? Who read from it? The plain fact is, it did not exist. No copy of it ever existed in the world until 1881. For 250 years, since the publication of the Elzevirs' text, people were reading from printed books which contained a text called “the Textus Receptus,” and in all of these 250 years not one person ever saw a copy of the text which we are now informed is “God's preserved text.” Not one person ever held it in his hands, during 250 years. Not one person ever laid eyes upon it. Neither was it hidden away in some cave or cloister. It did not exist. It “came into being”----so says Dr. DiVietro himself----in 1611. To this we are brought by the tomfooleries of this doctrine of preservation in perfection.

The King James Only people have been most vehement and merciless in denouncing the impiety which could suppose that the true text of Scripture existed for centuries only in a single copy hidden away in the Vatican library, or in another copy hidden away in a monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai, and never given to the world until Westcott and Hort published it in 1881. And to combat such impiety they now tell us that the true text never existed at all until Scrivener constructed it in 1881. Oh, but they will tell us God constructed it in 1611. It “came into being” in 1611----not that 1611 will help the cause of “preservation” any better than 1881 will. But where was it in 1611? Not on paper. Not in print. Not in anybody's hands, but only floating somewhere in the ethereal regions of non-entity. For 250 years, the people of God read from the King James Version in English, and from “the Textus Receptus” in Greek, but that Textus Receptus was not the Greek text of the King James Version. If that text existed at all, it was certainly not on the earth, but only in the mind and purpose of God. And this will not satisfy the demands of the case. The King James Only people themselves have told us times without number that it is not enough that God should know what the true text is: the church must know it also. It is not enough----so they have often told us----that God should have preserved the true text hidden away and forgotten in some inaccessible library. It must be a public and open preservation, of a text which is in common use in the hands of the people of God. So they have told us, times without number, when beating down the “rationalistic textual criticism” and the depraved Greek text of Westcott and Hort.

But I had always thought that what was good for the goose was good for the gander. Let them now apply their own assertions to their own position. Let them now tell us plainly that the historical existence of their own text stands upon the same foundation with Hort's. While Hort's text lay unused in the Vatican library for centuries, their own text did not exist at all. There was no copy of it in the world. For 250 years the saints of God read from “the Textus Receptus” ere ever a single copy existed of what we are now told is the true text. For more than a century before that, before the term “Textus Receptus” came into being, men read and translated from the Greek texts of Erasmus and Stephens and Beza, and not one of them ever saw a copy of what is now proclaimed to be the true “preserved” text. And before that, for twelve or fifteen centuries, men read from “Syrian” or “Byzantine” manuscripts, not one of which contains the same text which is now named as the true “preserved” text.

But perhaps I shall be told that I cannot hold all the King James Only people responsible for the views of Dr. DiVietro, especially since he is a very unreasonable writer, whose answers to Mr. White ignore or evade the real issue on almost every page, and indeed on almost every point. Be it so, but bear in mind that Mr. DiVietro did not publish this work himself. It was published by D. A. Waite, who is certainly one of the leading men of the movement. I find also that the most reasonable man in the King James Only camp----so far as my acquaintance with it goes----holds exactly the same view. I refer to David Cloud, who says, “To say that the purest copies of Scripture were hidden away until the mid-nineteenth century is an outrageous fairy tale. But I also say that this same position of faith forces me to make a decision as to exactly which version of the Traditional Text is the precise word of God. There are many manuscripts, many ancient versions; in fact, there are several editions of the Received Text itself. Which one is to be preferred? The position of faith forces me to look for the edition which was the one most blessed of God. Which one was that? The one underlying the King James Bible.”

We understand very well that his position “forces” him to this, but this only proves that the position is false. If it is an outrageous fairy tale that the purest copies of the New Testament text were “hidden away” till Tischendorf and Hort published their texts in the nineteenth century, it must be a still greater fairy tale that the true Greek text never existed on the earth at all----not in any manuscript or printed edition whatsoever, neither in use by the people nor “hidden away,” but simply nonexistent----until Scrivener constructed it in 1881. Yet this is the position to which the best men in this movement are “forced.”

I know, it will be said the true text did exist. It was found in the Greek manuscripts which were in common use. Yes: some parts of it in some manuscripts, some parts in others, but there was no exact copy of it existent in the world. If Brother Cloud had lived before the invention of printing, and his faith had forced him to determine which manuscript contained the precise word of God, he certainly would not and could not have chosen that text which he now claims, for there was no copy of it in the world. The “promise” which secures it now secured nothing then. If he had lived between 1516 and 1881, and had been forced by his faith to determine which printed edition contained the exact text of the New Testament, again he would not and could not have chosen the text which he has now chosen. It did not exist. There was no copy of it on earth. But if God's promises of preservation secure to us an exact copy of the precise text of the Greek New Testament, why did not those same promises secure the same thing to all those who lived before 1881? If the promise of God secures it, why did William Tyndale and Martin Luther never lay eyes upon an exact copy of the true text of the New Testament? It would seem an obvious certainty that William Tyndale had a much greater need for an exact copy of the true text than any of us can have, yet the promise of God which secures it for us conspicuously failed to secure it for him. Tyndale, therefore, having no copy of the true text, must translate from a false one. He must read (to cite one example of a hundred), “Believe on the Lord Jesus” in Acts 16:31, instead of “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Yet since the beginning of this movement these men have been telling us that the true text was preserved by God and given to the Reformers at the Reformation, by whom it was translated into English, German, French, etc. No King James Only man can seriously and honestly face these questions, without giving up the whole system. So long as they speak (as Burgon did) of the general faithfulness and essential integrity of the traditional text (and of the King James Version also), all is clear and harmonious, but as soon as they bring in the notions of perfection and infallibility, the whole system becomes a mass of nonsense and self-contradictions.

But more. Though Scrivener constructed this Greek text on purpose to duplicate the text “presumed to underlie the Authorised Version,” he could not quite succeed in the endeavor. Why not? Let him inform us:

In the constructing of this Greek text (he tells us), “It was manifestly necessary to accept only Greek authority, though in some places the Authorised Version corresponds but loosely with any form of the Greek original, while it exactly follows the Latin Vulgate.” The King James Only people have singled out this text as the true “Textus Receptus” for the sole reason that it is the text “presumed to underlie the Authorised Version,” but still they have missed their mark. If we contend for a perfectly preserved Greek text, and an infallible English translation of it, that Greek text and that English version must agree perfectly. They must of necessity agree completely, with no disagreement at all. Certain of the King James Only advocates have been aware that the King James Version does not completely agree with any of the standard editions commonly called “the Textus Receptus,” and they have thought to obviate this difficulty by choosing an edition which was constructed on purpose to agree with the King James Version, but even this will not serve them, for GOD in his PROVIDENCE (as I cannot doubt) has seen fit to make the thing simply impossible. No man can construct a Greek text which exactly agrees with the King James Vesion, unless he does it dishonestly----unless he purposely falsifies the Greek text, in order to conform it to the Latin Vulgate in those places where the King James Version follows the Vulgate instead of the Greek. Scrivener, of course, would not do this, and did not. Instead, he gives us (on page 656 of the edition cited) a list of the places in which the King James Version follows the Vulgate instead of the Greek, saying, “The text of Beza 1598 has been left unchanged when the variation from it made in the Authorised Version is not countenanced by any earlier edition of the Greek. In the following places the Latin Vulgate appears to have been the authority adopted in preference to Beza. The present list is probably quite incomplete.” He plainly avows, then, that in many places he prints Beza's text of 1598, though the King James Version does not follow it. This text, then, according to the express testimony of the man who constructed it, is not an exact representation of the text which underlies the King James Version. And yet this is the text which is now proclaimed as the true Textus Receptus, by the modern King James Only advocates. It aids their cause not one whit. It removes nothing of the inconsistencies and self-contradictions which they thought to eliminate by the stroke, while it adds a whole new crop of them, and strikes a fatal blow at their doctrine of preservation, which is the professed foundation of the whole system.

To this one of the best men in the movement confesses that he is “forced”----though I frankly suppose it is reason which forces him there, rather than faith. But be that as it may, this is but one more illustration of the fact that the more the system is refined, in order to bring it into conformity with facts and reason, the more unreasonable it becomes. The system itself is simply hopeless. If its adherents wish to bring it into conformity with truth and facts and reason, they have but one path open to them. They must give up the modern notions of preservation, and of the infallibility of the Textus Receptus and the King James Version. They must return to the sane, sound, and solid ground which was occupied by John W. Burgon, whom they revere, but do not follow. It is quite possible to retain all that is good and true in their system----quite possible to stand for the excellence and superiority of the King James Version----without any of the tomfooleries and false doctrines involved in these modern notions. John W. Burgon did so, and so also does the editor of Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks.


Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï

by the Editor


“The Root” Again

I affirmed in a previous note that in English we must say either “the root of all evil” or “a root of all evil,” and of the two “the root” is by all means the better----indeed, that it would require a profound lack of scholarship to render it “a root.” An esteemed correspondent has pointed out to me that Martin Luther does just that, the common Lutheran version reading Geiz ist EINE Wurzel alles Uebels. Do I then accuse Martin Luther of a profound lack of scholarship? Far be it from me. Yet after examining the whole matter, I am compelled to stand by what I have written. I must yet maintain that it requires a profound lack of scholarship to translate “a root of all evil” in English. This is the work of men who have never grasped the properties of their own tongue. I do not accuse Luther of any lack of scholarship. I do accuse him of writing in German. I am well aware that German and English are sister languages----or at any rate half sisters----but still they have each their own properties and peculiarities, and they are certainly not equivalent in their usage of definite and indefinite articles. I do not pretend to understand much of the usage of articles in German. I only affirm that it is different from its usage in English. I give a few examples which will confirm this:

One of the old proverbs to which I referred in my former article says in English, “The good is the enemy of the best.” The German form of a similar proverb is Das Bessere ist EIN Fiend des Guten, that is, “The better is an enemy of the good.” Such a form, we grant, is intelligible in English, and gives a sense entirely acceptable, but it is anemic. It lacks the force and vigor of “The good is the enemy of the best.” And since the latter is the actual form of the English proverb, it is a plain enough demonstration of the common and proper manner of expression in English. And the comparison of the English proverb with the German indicates plainly enough also that what is natural in the German is not so in the English. And let it be observed that “enemy” in this proverb is the predicate nominative, as “root” is in “the root of all evil.” So also in the examples which follow.

Another excellent German proverb says poetically, Mittelweg ein sicher Steg, literally, “Middle way [is] a safe path.” Yet Bohn properly translates this into English as, “The middle path is the safe path.” To say “a safe path” in English gives a good sense, but it is anemic, and not our common mode of expression. German and English evidently differ in this matter.

Once more, in I John 1:5 Luther's first edition (1522) reads, Gott eyn liecht ist, “God is a light.” His last edition reads just the same, Gott ein Liecht ist, the only differences being in orthography. And so it stands in Lutheran Bibles to this day (though some modern editions drop ein). This example may prove nothing about the German language, but it may illustrate something concerning Luther's preferences. We certainly would not want “a light” in English. I cannot pretend to know much about German. I do know that it is not English, and the examples which I have given may serve to demonstrate that the indefinite article is acceptable with predicate nominatives in German, where it is weak and unnatural in English.

Turning to “the root of all evil” in other German Bibles, we find a variety of renderings.

De Wette has Denn Wurzel alles Bösen ist die Habsucht, with no article at all before “root.” We cannot do so in English.

Codex Teplensis has Wan di geitikait ist AIN wurrzel aller ubeln dinge----that is, “a root of every evil thing.”

Of greatest interest to us, however, is the work of John Nelson Darby, who translated the New Testament into both German and English. His Elberfeld New Testament reads in German, Denn die Geldliebe ist EINE Wurzel alles Bösen, “a root of all evil,” while his English New Testament reads, “For the love of money is [the] root of every evil.” The article is in brackets because Darby brackets every added word in his version. On the word “root” he adds a footnote saying, “Not that there is no other root, but the love of money is characterized by being that.” Plainly, then, in saying “the root of all evil” Darby did not mean the only root, any more than Tyndale or the King James translators did. His note indicates that he was aware that it could be taken that way, but this did not deter him from so translating it. It is plain also that Darby (who wrote and preached in both languages) judged “a root” acceptable in the German, while he rejected it for the English.


C. H. Spurgeon on the King James Version

Almost five years ago, in our issue for July of 1992, we printed a strong plea for the revision of the King James Version, by C. H. Spurgeon. We were careful to say then that we could not endorse all of Spurgeon's strong language, but that we printed it to give Spurgeon's views, not our own. In this, however, we may have done a disservice to Spurgeon, and to history, for the views there expressed were the views of Spurgeon as a young man. Though Spurgeon is one of the most quotable men of history, speaking well and forcibly on almost everything, it is often possible to quote him on both sides of the question, and those who quote him need to be careful to observe when he said what he said, for Spurgeon had the fortune (or misfortune) to become very prominent when he was very young, and there was a decided change in his views on many things as he attained the wisdom of age. This was certainly the case in his views of the King James Version, and as I was apparently the first to introduce the young Spurgeon's statement to the present generation (even Bob Ross first receiving it from me), it lies upon me to publish the other half of the story, and give the matured views of the old Spurgeon. The liberal statement of Spurgeon which I published before was written in 1859, when he was but 29 years old. The following conservative statement was written in 1884, when he was 54. On page 39 of The Sword and the Trowel for 1884 Spurgeon says,

“For our own part, we are always grateful for good marginal readings; but we are less and less disposed to countenance any tampering with the text. The older we grow the more conservative we become. We have had ten thousand messages from God to our soul in the very words of our English Bible; and we have prayed over and preached about the precepts and promises it enshrines, till we feel a vested interest in the volume as it is.”

I have no doubt that certain folks will make something of this which it isn't, but there is no help for that. Such as it is, I owe it to my readers.


The Weather Controlled by Prayer

compiled by the editor

I would not dare to suggest that the weather may be always controlled by prayer, for I believe no such thing. Yet I do believe that the weather is in the hands of God, and that he may control it at his pleasure, either miraculously, or providentially through natural causes. I believe further that he actually does so in answer to the prayers of his saints----or if he please, in answer to the prayers of sinners----when there is sufficient occasion for it. The following accounts, from among those gathered in my reading during many years, I offer as proof of this. But I advise my readers that though I include here some accounts of rain stopped by prayer, I purposely exclude any accounts of rain received in answer to prayer, for I have so many of them that they of themselves would make an article much larger than this one. Those I must reserve for another time.

George Müller. It was towards the end of November of 1857, when I was most unexpectedly informed that the boiler of our heating apparatus at No. 1, leaked very considerably, so that it was impossible to go through the winter with such a leak. ...

The boiler is entirely surrounded by brickwork; its state, therefore, could not be known without taking down the brickwork; this, if needless, would be rather injurious to the boiler, than otherwise; and as for eight winters we had had no difficulty in this way, we had not anticipated it now. But suddenly, and most unexpectedly, at the commencement of the winter, this difficulty occurred. What then was to be done? For the children, especially the younger infants, I felt deeply concerned, that they might not suffer, through want of warmth. But how were we to obtain warmth? The introduction of a new boiler would, in all probability, take many weeks. The repairing of the boiler was a questionable matter, on account of the greatness of the leak; but, if not, nothing could be said of it, till the brick-chamber in which it is enclosed, was, at least in part, removed; but that would, at least, as far as we could judge, take days; and what was to be done in the meantime, to find warm rooms for 300 children? ... At last I determined on falling entirely into the hands of God, who is very merciful and of tender compassion, and I decided on having the brick-chamber opened, to see the extent of the damage, and whether the boiler might be repaired, so as to carry us through the winter.

The day was fixed, when the workmen were to come, and all the necessary arrangements were made. The fire, of course, had to be let out while the repairs were going on. But now see. After the day was fixed for the repairs, a bleak North wind set in. It began to blow either on Thursday or Friday before the Wednesday afternoon, when the fire was to be let out. Now came the first really cold weather, which we had in the beginning of that winter, during the first days of December. What was to be done? The repairs could not be put off. I now asked the Lord for two things, viz., that He would be pleased to change the north wind into a south wind, and that He would give to the workmen “a mind to work”; for I remembered how much Nehemiah accomplished in 52 days, whilst building the walls of Jerusalem, because “the people had a mind to work.” Well, the memorable day came. The even before, the bleak north wind blew still; but, on the Wednesday, the south wind blew; exactly as I had prayed. The weather was so mild that no fire was needed. The brickwork is removed, the leak is found out very soon, the boiler makers begin to repair in good earnest. About half-past eight in the evening, when I was going home, I was informed at the lodge, that the acting principal of the firm, whence the boiler makers came, had arrived to see how the work was going on, and whether he could in any way speed the matter. I went immediately, therefore, into the cellar, to see him with the men, to seek to expedite the business. In speaking to the principal of this, he said in their hearing, “the men will work late this evening, and come very early again to-morrow.” “We would rather, Sir,” said the leader, “work all night.” Then remembered I the second part of my prayer, that God would give the men “a mind to work.” Thus it was: by the morning the repair was accomplished, the leak was stopped, though with great difficulty, and within about 30 hours the brickwork was up again and the fire in the boiler; and all the time the south wind blew so mildly, that there was not the least need of a fire.----A Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller, written by himself, (Vol. 3), Fifth Part. London: J. Nisbet & Co., Second Edition, 1895, pp. 110-112.

R. A. Torrey. In order to arouse the attention of the non-church going people, it was suggested that an open-air service should be held in the heart of the city. When the suggestion was made, the objection was brought forth that rain would make the service impossible. Dundee at that time of the year was very uncertain in its climate. It seemed to rain every day during the month's campaign. Dr. Torrey decided to have the open-air meeting.

On the morning of the meeting day, the clouds were black and very soon the rain descended in torrents. From 9:00 A. M. to noon, it proved to be a deluge. Then the rain eased up a little. But at 1 P.M. it came down again as heavily as before. That morning special prayer had been made, asking God to clear the skies for the open-air meeting. There were many dubious people who nevertheless prayed, but there was one man whose faith towered above that of the others as he prayed in what seemed to be a matter-of-fact way in asking God for clear weather. At ten minutes of two o'clock the rain ceased. At two o'clock the sun was shining. A vast crowd gathered, and the meeting was held. It was a time of spiritual refreshing. At two forty-five o'clock the benediction was pronounced, and five minutes later the rain descended in torrents again.----Reuben Archer Torrey, by Robert Harkness. Chicago: Bible Inst. Colportage Ass'n, 1929, pp. 21-22.

John Easter. Mr. Easter possesed an uncommon degree of faith. It was objected to him, that “instead of praying, he commanded God, as if the Lord was to obey man.” The following is a specimen of what I was an eye-witness. While preaching to a large concourse of people in the open air, at a time of considerable drought, it began to thunder, a cloud approached, and drops of rain fell. He stopped preaching, and besought the Lord to withhold the rain until evening----to pour out his Spirit, convert the people, and then water the earth. He then resumed his subject. The appearance of rain increased----the people began to get uneasy----some moved to take off their saddles; when, in his peculiar manner, he told the Lord that there were “sinners there that must be converted or be damned,” and prayed that he would “stop the bottles of heaven until the evening.” He closed his prayer, and assured us, in the most confident manner, that we might keep our seats----that it would not rain to wet us; that “souls are to be converted here to-day----my God assures me of it, and you may believe it.” The congregation became composed, and we did not get wet; for the cloud parted, and although there was a fine rain on both sides of us, there was none where we were until night. The Lord's Spirit was poured out in an uncommon degree, many were convicted, and a considerable number professed to be converted that day.----Life and Times of William M'Kendree, by Robert Paine. Nashville: Publishing House of the M. E. Church, South, 1893, pp. 52-53.

Thomas Calhoun. The Rev. Thomas Calhoun was preaching the funeral sermon of the Rev. Robert Donnell. Vast crowds of people were present. A heavy rain was seen to be approaching. People began to be restless. Calhoun raised his hands to heaven and prayed God not to allow the rain to disturb the solemn worship. Then, turning to the congregation, he assured them that God would not allow the rain to come upon their saddles. The cloud parted, and it rained all around, hard and long, but none fell either on the camp-ground or on the multitude of horses which stood with saddles on them in the adjacent grove.----History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, by B. W. McDonnold. Nashville: Board of Publication of Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1888, pg. 35.

Francis Asbury. Arrived at the ferry, it blew a hurricane. I lifted up my heart in prayer to God. There was, in a few minutes, a great calm, which all those with me witnessed, but I will not say it was in answer to prayer. [And why not? Asbury is too modest.----editor.]----The Journal of Francis Asbury. New-York: Published by N. Bangs and T. Mason, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1821, Vol. III, pg. 325. (March 18, 1812).

John Wesley. I just write a line to let you know that we came to Holyhead on Saturday afternoon, and went on board about ten at night; but we had a dead calm till between ten and eleven in the morning, at which time I began the public service. After sermon I prayed that God would give us a moderate wind, with a safe, easy, and speedy passage. While I was speaking the wind sprung up, and carried us at an average of five miles an hour; so that we sailed from Holywell Bay to Dublin Bay in exactly twelve hours. The sea meantime was as smooth as a looking-glass; so that no creature in the ship was sick a moment.----The Letters of John Wesley, edited by John Telford. London: The Epworth Press, 1931, Vol. VII, pg. 268.

Hudson Taylor. The voyage was a very tedious one. We lost a good deal of time on the equator from calms; and when we finally reached the Eastern Archipelago, were again detained from the same cause. Usually a breeze would spring up soon after sunset, and last until about dawn. The utmost use was made of it, but during the day we lay still with flapping sails, often drifting back and losing a good deal of the advantage we had gained during the night.

This happened notably on one occasion, when we were in dangerous proximity to the North of New Guinea. Saturday night had brought us to a point some thirty miles off the land; but during the Sunday morning service, which was held on deck, I could not fail to notice that the captain looked troubled, and frequently went over to the side of the ship. When the service was ended, I learnt from him the cause----a four-knot current was carrying us rapidly towards some sunken reefs, and we were already so near that it seemed improbable that we should get through the afternoon in safety. After dinner the long-boat was put out, and all hands endeavoured, without success, to turn the ship's head from the shore.

After standing together on the deck for some time in silence, the captain said to me, “Well, we have done everything that can be done; we can only await the result.” A thought occurred to me, and I replied, “No, there is one thing we have not done yet.” “What is it?” he queried. “Four of us on board are Christians,” I answered (the Swedish carpenter and our coloured steward, with the captain and myself); “let us each retire to his own cabin, and in agreed prayer ask the Lord to give us immediately a breeze. He can as easily send it now as at sunset.”

The captain complied with this proposal. I went and spoke to the other two men, and after prayer with the carpenter we all four retired to wait upon God. I had a good but very brief season in prayer, and then felt so satisfied that our request was granted that I could not continue asking, and very soon went up again on deck. The first officer, a godless man, was in charge. I went over and asked him to let down the clews or corners of the mainsail, which had been drawn up in order to lessen the useless flapping of the sail against the rigging. He answered, “What would be the good of that?” I told him we had been asking a wind from God, that it was coming immediately, and we were so near the reef by this time that there was not a minute to lose. With a look of incredulity and contempt, he said with an oath that he would rather see a wind than hear of it! But while he was speaking I watched his eye, and followed it up to the royal (the topmost sail), and there, sure enough, the corner of the sail was beginning to tremble in the coming breeze. “Don't you see the wind is coming? Look at the royal!” I exclaimed. “No, it is only a cat's-paw,” he rejoined (a mere puff of wind). “Cat's-paw or not,” I cried, “pray let down the mainsail, and let us have the benefit!”

This he was not slow to do. In another minute the heavy tread of the men on the deck brought up the captain from his cabin to see what was the matter; and he saw that the breeze had indeed come. In a few minutes we were ploughing our way at six or seven knots an hour through the water. We were soon out of danger; and though the wind was sometimes unsteady, we did not altogether lose it until after passing the Pelew Islands.”----A Retrospect, by J. Hudson Taylor. London: China Inland Mission, Seventeenth Edition, 1951, pp. 46-47.

Observe, I do not pretend to know that there was anything miraculous in the above accounts. Neither do I know certainly that there was not. What I do know is that they display the working of the hand of God, in answer to prayer.

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