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Vol. 6, No. 6
June, 1997

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars

by Glenn Conjurske

“There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.” (I Cor. 15:41). The sun, the moon, and the stars are ordained of God to give light to the inhabitants of the earth, and as such they are the physical representations of the spiritual lights which God has given to men. That God made the physical lights as they are with that end in view I have no doubt. The spiritual realities are of greater moment to him, and the lower creation is but a mirror of them. I have written before of the sun, as the God-ordained picture of Christ,[ and might therefore say the less of it here, except that it is the delight of my heart to do so.

Malachi calls Christ “the Sun of righteousness,” who rises “with healing in his wings.” (Mal. 4:2). John calls him “the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9). Christ calls himself “the light of the world.” (John 8:12).

Now there is no question that in the natural realm the sun is “the light of the world.” It is the light and the life of the earth and all that is in it. Take the sun from the sky, and the earth would very soon be cold and dark and dead. This sun is God's picture of Christ, drawn no doubt for that end. Christ came first, and the sun later. Christ was with the Father in glory before the world was. By him the worlds were made, and this sun was made----as who can doubt?----to be a picture of him.

And what a picture it is! Of all things known to man, there is nothing like the sun. Though its sight is always welcome to the eye of man, though it is benign and cheering beyond anything else known to earth, so that the lowest creatures of the earth love to bask in its warmth, and even the mindless leaves and flowers turn their faces instinctively to its rays, yet its glory is such that no eye of man can bear it. Though every man may bask in light of the sun, yet no man may dare to gaze upon it.

But to properly understand “the glory of the sun,” we must compare it to “the glory of the moon.” The moon is the divinely drawn picture of the church, and though it has a glory not to be despised, it pales before the sun. The sun is the source of its own light. The moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun. The glory of the moon is indeed a great wonder, when we consider that it is but dust and clay, but the fact that the moon has any glory at all belongs solely to the surpassing glory of the sun, which can transform this drab piece of clay into an orb of glorious light. And here is the place of the church----not to shine of itself, but to reflect the glory of the Lord. Then it may shine indeed, and the brighter the better.

But there is another contrast. We never see the sun but in all its glory. As it appears one day, so it appears the next. As it appears one week, so it appears the next. As it appears in one century, so it appears in the next. Not so the moon. The moon is as fickle as the sun is faithful. Sometimes indeed we see it as a full orb of light and glory, but its glory is short-lived, and anon it will be but a thin sliver of light. Even that is worth a great deal in the darkness of this world, and the church has never sunk so low as to be absolutely worthless. It is amazing how far a little light will go in the midst of deep darkness. I was once in a hospital elevator in which the ceiling light was burned out. It was dark indeed when travelling between the floors, but the little lighted numbers which came on at each floor level gave a great plenty of light to dispel the darkness. And so the true church of God may do at its lowest state. Nevertheless, that little light which the church has given during most of its existence is truly shameful, when compared with what it is capable of. With what delight does the heart look back upon those rare and short-lived times in the history of the church, when the moon was full, and gave to the surrounding gloom a full orb of light and glory. Such were the Reformation, the great Methodist revival, and the world-wide missions movement of the nineteenth century. How does the heart yearn for a return of such days. Not that we suppose the church has ever actually reached its fulness of light, but I speak of what is obviously pictured by the waxing and waning of the moon.

The moon at its fullest and brightest pales before the sun, but no matter about that. We have no need of the moon while the sun shines. It is when the sun has set that the moon is needed, and it is in the absence of the Lord that the church is needed. And what a glorious place the moon has in the absence of the sun. The eye of the world cannot follow the sun in its absence, and must therefore be left in the darkness, but for the moon. The heavenly position of the moon enables her to bask always in the light of the sun, and give that light in turn to the world below. The shining of the moon is a constant testimony to the absent sun, when the world cannot trace the path of the sun itself. “As long as I am in the world,” our Lord has said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5). But when he is gone, the world must receive his light through the church. Yet when the church sinks down from its heavenly position, to amalgamate itself with the world, it can no longer catch the rays of the absent sun, and its light is extinguished. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matt. 5:14). When that exalted position is lost, the light is as good as hid under a bushel.

But I turn to the stars. These are the individual servants of Christ. “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20). But my mind was long exercised to find any propriety in this figure. What is the worth of a star? Some stars may be worth a good deal more than others, for “Star differeth from star in glory,” but the light of all of them together pales before the light of the moon at its lowest ebb. Yet the stars have a glory of their own. Their constancy is their glory. When all the moon wanes and fades, a single star may remain constant. I have read of the days of slavery in the Southern states. I do not intend here to discuss the merits of slavery, nor the propriety of slaves escaping from their masters. The Bible does say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and it is very doubtful there have been many masters who would have their slaves to deprive them of their liberty. But whether it was right, therefore, for the slaves to escape from their masters, is another question. I only know that men by nature love liberty, and that in the days of Southern slavery many of them did escape. But what were they to do after they were escaped? Where could they go? At every town and hamlet was a sheriff or constable waiting to take them back to their masters, and probably to a severe whipping besides. They must lie low during the daylight, and travel at night. But travel whither? They knew nothing of their destination, nothing of the way, nothing of the roads, nothing of the country through which they must pass. They knew only this----to follow the North Star. That star led them unerringly to their freedom. And is there any more glorious calling than this, to lead a man from the land of slavery and fear to the land where he may walk in the open light of the sun, the hounds of his old master having given up the hopeless chase?

But the stars have a special place in the church of God also. It is a plain fact that the church as a whole, except during the rare times of revival and restoration, is always waning----always drifting. The church, of course, drifts only as her members drift, but still it seems that there is always a downward current, which draws the church farther and farther from truth and right and God. And it is just here that the value of the stars appears. Though I believe it is an extremely rare thing to find a man of God who does not drift with the times, yet such a man is a star indeed, of the first magnitude. The great need of the church of God is men with some constancy of principle and constancy of conviction, who are “steadfast and unmovable,” who stand as fixed as the North Star, staunchly set against all modern expedients and departures, never wavering, never faltering, never drifting, though the whole world and the whole church should reproach them as old-fashioned and narrow-minded.

But mark, it is not enough that a star should be fixed. It is the business of a star to give light. A burned-out cinder is no star, though it may be fixed for ever. A star gives light, and a true prophet of God does not call upon men to adhere to his dicta “by faith,” but enlightens the mind. He does not lead the blind by the hand, but the seeing by their own eyes. He overcomes objections and satisfies the mind, by dealing honestly with all Scripture, and with every claim of sound reason. He does not conceal difficulties, but squarely faces them. He abhors sophistry, shuffling, and suppression of evidence. A man may be constant enough, who has no ability at all to impart pure light. Some of the most constant are the most mistaken. They are as fixed as stars, but fixed in darkness, not light. They are as obstinate for error as they ought to be steadfast for truth, and while their own church drifts deeper and deeper into materialism, worldliness, sectarian pride, and lukewarmness, they keep the fires of zeal blazing----for the inerrancy of the Textus Receptus, the eradication of the sin nature, the total inability of man, the apostolic succession of Baptist churches, or some other vagary which will not stand before the light of facts and reason and Scripture. Alas, the blaze of a bonfire is more regarded by those who gather around it than is the light of a star, or these teachers would be put out of business.

All teachers, of course, profess to shed forth the pure beams of the light of heaven, and most of them probably sincerely suppose that they do, but there is so much sophistry in so many of the teachers, and so little thinking in so many of the taught, that there almost appears to be no remedy for the present low state of the church. Yet remedy there certainly is, though it is no easy remedy, for the ills of the church are not mere faults of the intellect. The shallow thinking which pervades the church at the present day is certainly a symptom of deeper ills. Pride, sectarian zeal, and especially lukewarmness are the real roots of the problem. It is not learning which the church stands in need of, but revival. The way to revival is not reason, but repentance----though methinks a little of sound reason might help a great deal in the direction of repentance. To be proved wrong is a great step in the direction of getting right, and thus----in a purely spiritual sense----even a little star-light might contribute much to the brightening of the moon. As for the broad light of the united testimony of the church, oh, that the moon might wax once more, and show her glorious face as in the days of old!


202 of the Best Biographies

by Glenn Conjurske

Very much of my own reading over the past quarter century has been of biographies. This not by accident, but by design. I regard biography as some of the most profitable and edifying of reading. An over-balanced diet of technical, linguistic, intellectual, or even doctrinal reading----excellent as it is in its place----serves only to wither and dwarf the soul. Biography will acquaint the reader with human nature, and with the work of God----and here lies a true education. He that would water the souls of others must water his own, and there is scarcely anything that will do it so effectually as reading biography. And there is nothing like biography to enlarge the heart, and purge it of sectarian bigotry and narrowness----provided we do not confine our reading to the biographies of our own sect or persuasion.

The following list will acquaint the reader with much of the best of Christian biography. Among these books are autobiographies, biographies, journals, reminiscences, and some books which merely delineate some particular aspect or event of the subject's life, but they are all biographical in character. Some few of them contain sketches of several persons. Some of them also contain other matter, which is not biographical.

These books are not all of the same merit. Some of them are among the most excellent reading in existence. Others are inferior, but contain good information on persons worth knowing. Without pretending to list the books in the exact order of their worth----a really impossible task----I at any rate attempt to list them approximately in the order in which I value them. Even this is very difficult, as there are several very diverse factors to consider. Some are very interesting, but not very spiritual, others just the reverse. It is hard to compare a well-written biography of a mediocre man with a mediocre biography of a superior man. Most of the books are not of the same character throughout, being good in some parts, and poor in others. Some are generally poor, but contain some parts of surpassing excellence, others generally excellent, but very much spoiled by some serious defect. I must attempt to judge the book as a whole, considering especially its overall effect, including its doctrine and spirit. Then too, I must depend upon my memory----upon the savor which these books have left upon my heart----and that twenty or twenty-five years after reading some of them. I cannot pretend to list them in any exact order of worth. If I have succeeded in placing a book within its proper range, that is all I can generally hope for. In one case I depart from any attempt to list the books in order of their worth. If there are several books which concern the same person, I list them together, though they may be far apart in merit. Thus Forty Years in the Church of Christ, by Charles Chiniquy, is no way equal to his Fifty Years in the Church of Rome. In all cases where several books are named on one person, the first one determines their place in the list.

My criteria for determining the worth of the books are basically two. First, the book's ability to make the heart burn, whether by its spirituality, pathos, “human interest,” or interesting incident. Second, its containing good historical information. Of these two, I judge the first of greater importance, and have paid particular attention to that in compiling this list. Of the second sort, it would be no trouble to add another hundred to the list, but I prefer to aim here at edification more than information. The choice of books listed, and the order in which they appear, depends mainly upon the excellence of the book, though partly upon the worth I attribute to the person who is its subject. Some books are on the list mainly because of the worth of their subject, rather than the worth of the book----for many mediocre biographies have been written concerning the very best of men.

I have not listed all of the worthy books on some of the better-known men, such as Wesley, Moody, and Spurgeon, as this would greatly swell the list. Other works concerning men of such caliber may generally be assumed to be excellent also, though I must in general exclude books of the modern intellectual, unspiritual sort. I list few modern books. Some are worth reading----even excellent in some respects----but many of them are so shallow, so unspiritual, or so worldly, that I do not care to list them. Other books would doubtless appear on the list, if I could obtain them, or find the time to read those which I have. The list may be somewhat over-balanced with Methodist books, but how can I help it? Who lived----who preached----who wrote biographies----as they did?

Most of these books will be hard to find, being out of print and scarce, but I cannot help that either. Some are currently in print. Used book stores will readily yield some, and good libraries will contain many. He that searches will find. For my readers' convenience, I print the list itself on the following four pages, so that book-lovers may easily copy it, to use as a check list for reading, or to take with them to book stores or libraries.

1 Down in Water Street, by Samuel H. Hadley

2 S. H. Hadley of Water Street, by J. Wilbur Chapman

3 Autobiography of Peter Cartwright

4 Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, by Charles Chiniquy

5 Forty Years in the Church of Christ, by Charles Chiniquy

6 Jerry McAuley, An Apostle to the Lost, by R. M. Offord

7 Trials and Persecutions of Miss Edith O'Gorman, of St. Joseph's Convent, Hudson City, N.J., Written by Herself

8 The Journal of Charles Wesley, 2 vols.

9 Memoirs of Charles Wesley, by Thomas Jackson

10 The Journal of Francis Asbury, 3 vols.

11 Hus the Heretic, by Poggius the Papist

12 Jimmie Moore of Bucktown, by Melvin E. Trotter

13 Gipsy Smith: His Life and Work, by himself

14 The Beauty of Jesus, by Gipsy Smith

15 Sixty Years an Evangelist (Gipsy Smith), by Harold Murray

16 Sketches of Western Methodism, by James B. Finley

17 Memorials of Prison Life, by James B. Finley

18 Autobiography of James B. Finley

19 Leila Ada, the Jewish Convert, by Osborn W. Trenery Heighway

20 Uncle John Vassar, by T. E. Vassar

21 Narrative of Facts, Characterizing the Supernatural Manifestations in Members of Mr. Irving's Congregation, and Other Individuals in England and Scotland, and Formerly in the Writer Himself, by Robert Baxter

22 Tell It All, by Fanny Stenhouse (Mormonism)

23 The Journal of John Nelson

24 The Life of John Wesley, by Coke and Moore

25 The Life of John Wesley, by Richard Watson

26 John Wesley's Journal

27 The Life of John Wesley, by Luke Tyerman, 3 vols.

28 The Life of Adoniram Judson, by Edward Judson

29 These Forty Years, by Mel Trotter (autobiography)

30 The Mother of the Wesleys, by John Kirk

31 Susanna Wesley, by Eliza Clarke

32 Memoirs of the Wesley Family, by Adam Clarke, 2 vols.

33 The Redemption of Paul Rader, by W. Leon Tucker

34 Kentucky Mountain Outlaw Transformed (autobiography), by C. L. Wireman

35 Richard Weaver's Life Story, by James Patterson

36 Missionary Scenes and Labours in S. Africa, by Robert Moffat

37 The Lives of Robert and Mary Moffat, by John Moffat

38 Memoirs of George Whitefield, by John Gillies

39 Journals of George Whitefield

40 The Life of George Whitefield, by Luke Tyerman, 2 vols.

41 C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, 4 vols.

42 The Life and Work of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, by G. Holden Pike, 6 vols.

43 Missionary Enterprises in the South Sea Islands, by John Williams

44 The Life and Letters of Mrs. Emily C. Judson, by A. C. Kendrick

45 Emily C. Judson, by Walter N. Wyeth

46 Memoir of Sarah B. Judson, by Emily C. Judson

47 Sarah B. Judson, by Walter N. Wyeth

48 The Wonderful Career of Moody and Sankey, by E. J. Goodspeed

49 The Life of Dwight L. Moody, by William R. Moody

50 The Life and Work of Dwight L. Moody, by J. Wilbur Chapman

51 Five Years in the Alleghanies (anonymous colporteur, Amer. Tract Society)

52 The Life of Luther, Written by Himself, Collected and Arranged by M. Michelet

53 A Thousand Miles of Miracle in China, by Archibald E. Glover

54 Fifteen Years Among the Mormons, by a Sister of one of the High Priests

55 Wife No. 19, by Ann Eliza Young (Mormonism)

56 The Life of Jacob Gruber, by W. P. Strickland

57 The Log College, by Archibald Alexander

58 Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, by John Bunyan

59 John Bunyan, by John Brown

60 An Authentic Narrative of ... the Life of John Newton (autobiography)

61 John Newton, by Josiah Bull

62 Reminiscences of 64 Years in the Ministry, by Henry Boehm

63 Memoir of Jesse Lee, by Minton Thrift

64 Triumphant Evangelism (Torrey and Alexander), by J. Kennedy Maclean

65 Reuben Archer Torrey, by Robert Harkness

66 Torrey and Alexander, by J. Kennedy Maclean

67 R. A. Torrey, by Roger Martin

68 Awful Disclosures, by Maria Monk, of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery of Montreal

69 The Life and Sayings of Sam P. Jones, by his Wife

70 Sam Jones, by Walt Holcomb

71 The Story of Isaac Levinsohn, A Polish Jew, Told by Himself

72 The Kingdom of Heaven Taken by Prayer, by William Huntington

73 The Bank of Faith, by William Huntington

74 William Tyndale, by R. Demaus

75 William Tyndale, by J. F. Mozley

76 John Foxe and His Book, by J. F. Mozley

77 David Baron and the Hebrew Christian Testimony to Israel

78 The Plot that Failed, by T. T. Shields

79 Lives of Early Methodist Preachers, edited by Thomas Jackson, 6 vols.

80 Carey, Marshman, and Ward, by John Marshman, 2 vols.

81 Sunshine and Smiles, by Bud Robinson

82 Bud Robinson, by J. B. Chapman

83 A Retrospect, by J. Hudson Taylor

84 Hudson Taylor, by Marshall Broomhall

85 Nineteen Years in Polynesia, by George Turner

86 Goforth of China, by Rosalind Goforth

87 Memoir of Ann H. Judson, by James D. Knowles

88 Ann H. Judson, by Walter N. Wyeth

89 The Three Mrs. Judsons, by Cecil B. Hartley

90 A Short Account of the Life and Death of John Fletcher, by John Wesley

91 Wesley's Designated Successor (John Fletcher), by Luke Tyerman

92 The Early Life of Howell Harris, by Richard Bennett

93 Life of Howell Harris, by Hugh J. Hughes

94 William Grimshaw, by Frank Baker

95 Mary Slessor of Calabar, by W. P. Livingstone

96 Light from Old Times, by John Charles Ryle (historical essays on Wycliffe, Reformers, Puritans, Laud, etc.)

97 “But, Until Seventy Times Seven” (McAuley, Hadley, & Wyburn), by Mrs. S. May Wyburn

98 Memoirs of the Life of David Marks, edited by (his wife) Mrs. Marilla Marks

99 Christian Adventures in South Africa, by William Taylor

100 Story of My Life, by William Taylor

101 The Life, History, and Travels of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh, written by himself

102 My Life and Sacred Songs, by Ira D. Sankey (contains brief autobiography)

103 A Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with George Müller, by himself, 4 vols.

104 Autobiography of George Müller, Compiled by G. Fred. Bergin

105 George Müller of Bristol, by Arthur T. Pierson

106 The Real Billy Sunday, by Elijah P. Brown

107 Autobiography of Billy Sunday

108 Twenty Years with Billy Sunday, by Homer Rodeheaver

109 A Breviate of the Life of Margaret (Baxter's wife), by Richard Baxter

110 Bringing In Sheaves, by A. B. Earle

111 Life and Times of Elijah Hedding, by D. W. Clarke

112 Life and Labors of Jabez S. Swan, edited by F. Denison

113 Life and Times of William M'Kendree, by Robert Paine

114 Autobiography of a Pioneer, by Jacob Young

115 Autobiography of Elder Jacob Knapp

116 The Last of the Giants, by Harry Rimmer (Minnesota lumbermen)

117 John Nelson Darby, by W. G. Turner

118 Memoirs of Charles G. Finney (autobiography)

119 Christina Forsyth of Fingoland, by W. P. Livingstone

120 An Account of the Experience of Hester Ann Rogers (autobiography)

121 Inside History of First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, and Temple Baptist Church, Detroit: Life Story of J. Frank Norris

122 The J. Frank Norris I have Known for 34 Years, by Louis Entzminger

123 Half A Century (autobiography), by Arno Clemens Gaebelein

124 Autobiography of Dan Young, edited by W. P. Strickland

125 Dr. Cullis and His Work, by W. H. Daniels

126 The Life and Labours of Daniel Baker, by his son, William M. Baker

127 The Penalty and Redemption, by George Miles White

128 Sketch of Philip Gatch, prepared by John M'Lean

129 Experience and Gospel Labors of Benjamin Abbot, by John Ffirth

130 The Christian Leaders of the Last Century, by J. C. Ryle

131 John G. Paton, by James Paton

132 50 Years on the Battle Front with Christ (Mordecai Ham), by Ed. E. Ham

133 The Dynamic of a Dream (Wm. B. Riley), by Marie Acomb Riley

134 The Hero Missionary (Eugenio Kincaid), by Alfred S. Patton

135 The Life of Mason Long, the Converted Gambler, written by himself

136 The Romantic Career of a Twice-Born Jewess, by Olive Deane Finestone

137 Man Sent from God (John R. Rice), by Robert L. Sumner

138 Tortured for His Faith, by Harlan Popov (autobiography)

139 God's Smuggler, by Brother Andrew

140 Mormonism Unveiled, including the Life and Confessions of the Late Mormon Bishop John D. Lee

141 The Life of Mrs. Mary Fletcher, by Henry Moore

142 Memoirs of Philip P. Bliss, edited by D. W. Whittle

143Laws of Livingstonia (Robert Laws), by W. P. Livingstone

144 Charles M. Alexander, by Helen C. Alexander and J. Kennedy Maclean

145 Charlie Alexander, by Philip I. Roberts

146 Foot-Prints of an Itinerant, by Maxwell Pierson Gaddis

147 Memorials of Francis Ridley Havergal, by M. V. G. H.

148 General Booth (William Booth), by George S. Railton

149 The Prophet of the Poor (William Booth), by Thomas F. G. Coates

150 The Short Life of Catherine Booth, by F. de L. Booth-Tucker

151 John Wycliffe & His English Precursors, by G. Lechler, trans. by Lorimer

152 The Lives of John Wicliff, and of the Most Eminent of his Disciples, Lord Cobham, John Huss, Jerome of Prague, and Zisca, by William Gilpin

153 The Mormon Prophet and His Harem, by Mrs. C. V. Waite

154 The Protector: A Vindication (Oliver Cromwell), by J. H. Merle D`Aubigné

155 Henry Varley's Life Story, by his son, Henry Varley

156 Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola, by Pasquale Villari, Translated by Linda Villari

157 The Autobiography of Richard Baxter, edited by J. M. Lloyd Thomas

158 The Life and Times of Richard Baxter, by William Orme

159 The Life of Robert R. Roberts, by Charles Elliott

160 Dave Ranney, or Thirty Years on the Bowery. An Autobiography

161 Autobiography of a French Protestant (Jean Marteilhe----book is anonymous)

162 Memoir of the Life and Ministry of Wm. Bramwell, by James Sigston

163 The Dealings of God, Man, and the Devil...in the Life of Lorenzo Dow

164 Lorenzo Dow, by Charles Coleman Sellers

165 The Life of Henry Bidleman Bascom, by M. M. Henkle

166 James H. Brookes: A Memoir, by David Riddle Williams

167 Hallelujah Jack, by C. H. Jack Linn

168 Memoirs of the Life, Ministry, and Writings of Rowland Hill, by Wm. Jones

169 Rowland Hill, by Vernon J. Charlesworth

170 The Life of A. B. Simpson, by A. E. Thompson

172 Ordained of the Lord (Harry Ironside), by E. Schuyler English

173 Memoirs of David Brainerd, by Jonathan Edwards

174 Incidents and Anecdotes of Ed. T. Taylor, by Gilbert Haven & Thos. Russel

175 Miss Bunkley's Book: The Testimony of an Escaped Novice from the Sister-hood of St. Joseph, Emmetsburg, Maryland, by Josephine M. Bunkley

176 In the Cauldron of Russia, Autobiography of I. S. Prokhanoff

177 Brownlow North, by K. Moody-Stuart

178 George C. Stebbins: Reminiscences and Gospel Hymn Stories

179 Life and Times of Finis Ewing, by F. R. Cossitt

180 Thinking Black, by Dan Crawford

181 Back to the Long Grass, by Dan Crawford

182 Adoniram Judson Gordon, by his son, Ernest B. Gordon

183 A Sketch of the Life of John Collins (anonymous)

184 Biographical Sketch of Valentine Cook, by Edward Stevenson

185 The Life of Freeborn Garrettson, by Nathan Bangs

186 The Life Story of C. I. Scofield, by Charles Gallaudet Trumbull

187 Life of President (Jonathan) Edwards, by Sereno Edwards Dwight

188 Life and Writings of Jonathan Edwards, by Alexander V. G. Allen

189 Memoir of Asahel Nettleton, by Bennet Tyler

190 J. C. Ryle: A Self-Portrait, ed. by Peter Toon, postscript by Michael Smout

191 John Charles Ryle, by Peter Toon and Michael Smout

192 A Memoir of the Life, Travels, and Gospel Labours of George Fox (anon.)

193 The Personal Life of David Livingston, by W. Garden Blaikie

194 My Life in the Convent, by Margaret L. Shepherd

195 Fanny Crosby's Story of Ninety-Four Years, by S. Trevena Jackson

196 Memories of Eighty Years, by Fanny J. Crosby

197 Climbing (autobiography), by Rosalind Goforth

198 Memoir of George Dana Boardman, by Alonzo King

199 The Christian Hero: The Life of Robert Annan, by J. MacPherson

200 A Memoir of Adolph Saphir, by Gavin Carlyle

201 God Runs My Business (R. G. LeTourneau), by Albert W. Lorimer

202 A Flame of Fire (Rowland V. Bingham), by J. H. Hunter


The Girl and the Gambler

compiled by the editor

Jewel gath'rers for a crown;
Know ye not that many a gem,
Now in darkness trampled down,
Might bedeck a diadem?

Gems by cruel hands defaced,
Pearls in heathen shadows dim,
Brilliants scatter'd in the waste,
We must gather up for him.

With his blood wash'd white and pure,
Graven with his name divine,
These our jewels shall endure,
When the stars shall cease to shine.

----Priscilla J. Owens1

[Mason Long was for many years a professional gambler, saloon keeper, drunkard, and a notorious character in Fort Wayne, where he lived. He was first induced to “sign the pledge,” and afterwards brought to Christ. Though many were engaged to save him, it was the efforts of a young girl, whom he calls “that darling child of Heaven,” which touched and won his heart. He relates the matter as follows. ----editor.]

Here I am reminded of the lady who dropped her diamond ring in a mud-hole. Looking vainly up and down the street for some one to recover that ring for her, she rolled up her sleeve, thrust her hand down into the muddy water, and finding her jewel, rinsed it, held it up to the sun and exclaimed, “It is a diamond still!”

You will find many “gems of purest ray serene” at the very bottom of the filthy pool of intemperance; and it is your duty to roll up your sleeves and reach down, though you may get your hands dirty, and clutching them in the strong grasp of love, bring them out into the sunlight of God. Great will be your reward if you are found faithful in the discharge of this duty. Why, it was only a little Sunday-school scholar that God used in saving me.

During the Blue Ribbon movement in Fort Wayne, I drifted one night into the old Rink in which the meetings were then being held. Soon I was surrounded by a band of the praying mothers who were such efficient workers in that mighty temperance revival.

“We want you to sign the pledge,” said they to me.

“What is the use of my signing it?” I answered; “I would have to break it to-morrow.”

“No you won't; and we will not let you go home till you sign.”

Well, I saw there was no chance of getting out of the thing. So I made them a promise, which I didn't intend to fulfill, that I would come back the next night and sign the pledge. This did not satisfy them, until a sweet little girl, whose face beamed with heavenly light, stepped up, and, gently accosting one of the ladies, said in dulcet tones that thrilled me through and through:

“Mamma! let him go home. He is telling the truth. He will come and sign to-morrow night.” Then raising her angelic eyes till they met mine, she said to me:


The aisle was now open, and I went to my room and tried to gamble, but I could not. I went out and tried to play billiards, but could not roll a ball. Wherever I went I could hear nothing but those cherubic words, “You will, won't you?” All night long they rang like paradisic chimes in my ears. On the following morning, at the breakfast table, every dish I touched echoed back the inspiring strain, “You will, won't you?” And throughout that most memorable of all the days of my life, the air was everywhere resonant with the spell-binding appeal, “You will, won't you?”

Those words of the Holy Spirit from the honeyed tongue of an earthly seraph were the first that ever pierced my calloused heart, and roused to a quickening sense of my needs my long-slumbering conscience.

As the evening shades drew on I could scarcely wait for the rink to open. One of the dear Lord's messengers had resurrected my dead manhood by an expression of unclouded faith in my promise, and, at the cost of my life, I would have shown myself worthy of that faith.

When the hour came, I was the first man to walk down the aisle of the old skating temple and sign the pledge, which, I am glad to say, I have honored up to the present moment, and, God helping me, I will never break it.2

Down in the human heart,
Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart,
Wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.

----Fanny Crosby

[Long was now a “reformed drunkard,” but still operating a gambling hall, and not a Christian, but restless and troubled. He continues his story:]

One Sunday morning I resolved to attend divine service, and found my way to the First Baptist church. The sight of a notorious professional gambler in that sacred place startled the congregation, and every eye was turned upon me as the usher showed me to a seat. The pastor, Rev. Dr. J. R. Stone, preached a most beautiful and effective sermon, which seemed intended especially for me. I eagerly drank in every word, and as the good man continued, I found myself shedding tears of sorrow and remorse for my misspent life. After the sermon the choir sang, “What shall the harvest be?” and as I listened to the beautiful music, all the sins of my past life seemed to pass in review before me. I had sown the crop, and I wondered what my harvest would be. As I was leaving the church my eyes rested upon the little lady, through whose kind words I had been led to sign the pledge. I thought this a happy omen. She handed me a Bible, saying that she had marked a lesson for me to study during the coming week, and asked if I would do so. I gladly promised her, and with the good book in my hand, I left the church and hastened to my room. There I found a big game of faro in progress, but I passed the players and went into my chamber, where I began to study the Bible which had been given me. Occasionally one of the gamblers would come into the room, and then I would secrete the book, as I feared ridicule. I spent many hours every day studying the word of God, and especially those pages which had been marked for me. I was constantly interrupted, and always hid the book. One day I was caught fairly and squarely by one of the gamblers. He was greatly surprised, and his remarks ran about like this:

“Hallo, what is that? a Bible? well I declare, old boy, you're gone, sure. You're no longer the same man that you was before you signed the Murphy pledge than anything in the world. There's no more fun in you any more; a fellow might just as well talk to a cigar sign as to try to get a word out of you. You've Bible on the brain. You'll be crazy as a bed-bug in less than a month. ...”

These words made no impression upon my mind. I was greatly troubled, but not about faro. I read and re-read my Bible lesson, and the more I pondered it the greater became my mental anxiety. In despair I laid down the book, went to the gambling table, and tried to interest myself at faro. It was useless; the old charm had vanished; the old spell was broken. I left the table in disgust and resumed my Bible reading, but could find no peace. Night and day my torture increased. Sleep was a stranger to my eyelids and the food, at every meal, remained untasted before me. I began to think the gambler was right when he told me that I would go crazy, for my faculties seemed to be shaken. I left the city, but after a day's absence I returned. I felt an insatiable craving for something, I knew not what, a want which I could not define nor comprehend, but which was ever present.3

[He went one night to the Rink, and in a humble and broken manner presented his case to the people of God, asking their prayers.]

I returned to my room, fell on my knees and implored God to hear me in my distress. Then I retired and laid awake, thinking of the same old subject until two o'clock, when I arose, turned on the gas, and looked about me. I stepped into the club room and looked at the gambling tables, the sideboard, and all the appurtenances, and then asked myself, “Why should God forgive me while I remain in this place, where I have never done aught but sin against Him?” Gambling was my favorite vice, and I had never yet determined to abandon it. But then a sudden resolution was formed; I took one last look at the gambling room, at the faro table, where I had played so often----at the sideboard from which I had repeatedly dealt out whisky to my fellow men----and then quit the place forever. It was then and there that I made the complete surrender to Christ as every one must do, who desires to be saved.

I went to a hotel, took a room, and again sought my Maker. In less than an hour I felt that the blessing had come which I had striven for so long. I went to bed and the pillow was soon wet with tears which were streaming from my eyes----tears, not of sorrow and remorse, but of joy and gladness. I at once fell asleep and enjoyed unbroken slumber. The next morning I awoke with a light heart. The sun was shining brightly into my room and it seemed as if I had never seen such a beautiful morning before. I looked out of the window and saw a clear, cloudless sky, a fit image of the condition of my soul after so many days of anguish and torture.”4


+Editor's Note. As some may question how the above account is to be related to what I said in the March issue about children being put into places of adult ministry, I offer the following suggestions:

In the first place, the things which this girl did could hardly be called adult ministry. They were things which probably could not have been done effectually by any adult, and in their nature were things which likely no adult would have thought of doing.

Secondly, this girl was not put up to her actions by parents or pastor. She acted spontaneously and of her own accord.

Thirdly, this was no public ministry, nothing from pulpit or platform, nothing before an assembled congregation, nothing printed and mailed, but entirely individual and private. That some children, who are forward and prone to pride, might require to be restrained even from this I will not deny. Yet what this girl did is of a different character from parents or pastors putting children forward in public ministry.


Î Old Time Revival Scenes Î


An Invitation in a Seceder Church

[For those who are ignorant of these matters, I point out that Old School Presbyterians have generally been strongly opposed to all such “New Measures” as “the mourner's bench,” “the anxious seat,” and any kind of public invitation to come forward, or to perform any kind of immediate or outward action. The Seceders were the straitest sect of Old School Presbyterians, extremely exclusive and sectarian, and accustomed to attribute revivals to the devil. ----editor.]

Only two miles from the above meetings, was the church of a large congregation of Seceders. Till this time they had not gone to hear any preacher but their own, nor admitted any other denomination to preach in their church. But so great was this work that some of their young people had been drawn away, and gained a hope in Christ, but kept it secret. Their pastor, Rev. Mr. McG-------, came himself on Saturday, and became deeply moved with what he saw and heard. In the evening Rev. Mr. H------- told him there were many still anxious about their souls, and not a few of them were among his own people “and now,” said he, “this harvest must be gathered, and if you will go on with a meeting next week I will close my meetings to-morrow.” This arrangement was made, and it was agreed that I should go and assist Mr. McG------- on the afternoon of the next day, after the services in that church should be closed.

At four o'clock the Seceder church was crowded, and all the ardor of feeling seemed to come along with the people. Rev. Mr. McG------ was very feeble in health, but was a devoted servant of God; and it was arranged that he was to take a text and speak ten minutes, and I was then to fill up the hour. After that service we held another in a private house at night.

The next morning at nine, we had the house full at the prayer-meeting. At eleven, Mr. McG------- preached ten minutes, and I followed; and after the service all were supplied with tracts. During the afternoon service the presence of God seemed to move every heart. And as I believe that when God moves on men's hearts, they ought to move too as the prodigal did, when I had ceased speaking, and the congregation were singing the eighty-fourth Psalm, Rouse's version, I said to Mr. McG------- that I had no doubt but if an invitation was given some would remain for instruction. He feared it would not be acceptable to the officers of the church, all of whom had come from Scotland, and had been accustomed to hear preaching only from Seceders, and considered occasional hearing an offence. But he said he would not interfere with what I thought was duty.

As soon as the song was sung, I arose and told them that a piece of old Scotch history had just come into my mind. That over one hundred years ago, previous to their communion occasions, the minister at the close of his services for some days would invite all that intended to commune for the first time to remain for instruction in regard to their duties; and that for want of that many came to the Lord's table who were ignorant of the nature of the ordinance. And as I believed there were a number who contemplated joining the church and going to the communion table on the next Sabbath for the first time, I would ask all such to remain after the congregation was dismissed, to receive such instruction as should be given. After some agitation all was quiet, and I told them the first point of inquiry for them was, to know if they were born again, and spoke some twenty minutes on the nature and evidences of regeneration. The old elders sobbed aloud; and as soon as the services were closed, they had me by the hand, and said, “That is just what our young people need.” The oldest elder, whose daughter was among the inquirers, came up leaning on his staff, and said, “That did my soul good.” We had an appointment that night five miles distant, and this old man went all the way with me on horseback. The house was crowded, Many were awakened, and among them Mr. B------- the proprietor, who was a hardened sinner of fifty years. He soon professed his faith in Christ.

The next morning this old elder, Mr. M-------, said to me, “Oh, Mr. C------, I slept none last night. I have had a foretaste of heaven, and long to be there. I have never experienced religious joy till last night; and now I have one request to make, and deny me not, that is, that you commune with me next Sabbath.”

The next day we had similar services, and at the close of the last service I told them as all the congregation seemed desirous to hear what was said to those wishing to consider their duty to join the church, such would come forward while we sung the twenty-third Psalm. Sixteen thus presented themselves, and Rev. Mr. McG------- spoke to them with a heavenly unction. The next day there were twenty-eight inquirers, and the next day thirty-nine, of whom twenty-two appeared to be indulging a good hope in Christ. All the business of the field was suspended, and many were saying it was the dawn of the day of glory to the church. As the time had arrived for me to visit another place fifty miles distant, to engage in similar labors, the pastor told them he wanted them to make a thank-offering to the Tract Society, and in a few minutes $80 was on the table, and a present of $20 to me. On the Sabbath fifty-six were added to the church, and more than thirty to a Methodist church near by.

----Five Years In the Alleghanies, New York: American Tract Society, n.d., copyright 1863, pp. 156-160.


Bible Language

Part 2 ---- Bible English

by Glenn Conjurske

We have endeavored to demonstrate in a previous article that the New Testament was written in a language of its own, a language replete with theological terms which never formed any part of secular Greek. The Hebrew of the Old Testament is of course “Bible language,” for the Jews never had any other language, their religion being an integral part of their existence. In the wisdom of God----and we might say in the necessity of the case----God gave the Scriptures of both Testaments to a people already in possession of a religious heritage, and therefore in possession of a religious language, in which the oracles of God could be written. This being the case, we suppose that it was never the design of God that the written Scriptures should be given to a people not already in the possession of the divine religion. In the beginning, he established the church first, and then gave to it the Scriptures. This is our pattern, and it is certainly thus that missionary operations ought to be carried out. God sends men to preach the gospel. When that is done, and the church established----and a Christian vocabulary necessarily established in the process----it will then be time to translate the Bible.

But the unspiritual intellectualism of modern times has completely repudiated this. Eugene A. Nida, “PH. D.,” whose influence and principles have been one of the leading factors in corrupting the Bible in our times, wrote fifty years ago, “In many instances missionaries have fallen into the habit of using a specialized vocabulary and the natives at the mission station have learned to mimic it to perfection, so that the translation may seem perfectly understandable to this small group but quite inadequate for more extensive distribution and use. Non-Christians may not understand all of the Bible, but it should make some sense to them. The real test of the translation is its intelligibility to the non-Christian, who should be reached by its message.”

But Nida faults the missionaries for doing precisely as they ought to do. That “specialized vocabulary” which he deplores, is not only desirable, but necessary, to a proper translation of the Bible. We entirely agree with him that “Non-christians may not understand all of the Bible, but it should make some sense to them,” but the latter clause of this sentence is a gross overstatement of the difficulty. We doubt that it is possible to translate the Bible in such a way that will not “make some sense,” even to the most ignorant and ungodly, while it remains certain that they will “not understand all” of it. But Nida grossly overstates the difficulty, thus to give countenance to an over-reaction against it. The real test of a translation is not its intelligibility to the ungodly, but its faithfulness to the original. Let it be faithful to the original, and those whose hearts are in tune with its Author will understand it. God gave the Bible to his own people, and it was evidently never his design to replace the evangelist with the Bible.

We grant that the opposite plan may bear a certain kind of fruit. This was notably the case in the early days of missions in Burmah, where a widespread spirit of inquiry----though but few converts----was established primarily by the broadcast circulation of the printed page, including portions of the Scriptures. Yet concerning Adoniram Judson, the founder of that mission and its most spiritual man----as well as one of the most spiritual missionaries of all time----we are told, “But far more important than the work of translating and distributing tracts, catechisms, and portions of the Scriptures, was the oral preaching of the Gospel. For this Mr. Judson had rare aptitude, and in it he won his most signal triumphs. While engaged in the necessary work of translation, he was always pining for the opportunity of imparting the message of salvation with the living voice. In a letter to Dr. Bolles he says: `I long to see the whole New Testament complete, for I will then be able to devote all my time to preaching the Gospel from day to day; and often now the latter appears to be the more pressing duty. May the Spirit of the Lord be poured out!' When eye meets eye, and the mind of an objector is confronted by a living, loving personality, he receives a deeper impression of religious truth than he can ever get from the leisurely perusal of a printed book. The press can never supplant the pulpit. The truth, which, when pressed home by the earnest voice of the speaker, carries with it conviction, and arouses the conscience, and kindles the affections, is often weak and thin when presented on the printed page.” This is the very truth, and very well spoken. Judson feared “that the Scriptures will be out of the press before there will be any church to receive them.”

Nevertheless, when the Scriptures were translated, Judson favored their widespread distribution, “a plan,” he said, “that will tell more effectually than any other to fill the country with the knowledge of divine truth.” He lived, however, to change his mind. “He spoke also of his favoring the distribution of so many Bibles, after his revision, as the greatest mistake of his life”----for the precise reason that there was no church to receive them. “He once said, in relation to a man who had stumbled on the Old Testament, and apostatized: `It is the last thing such a fellow as he ought even to have touched. I am more than ever convinced that our business is to propagate the Gospel, scatter the good news of salvation, and let everything else alone.” This may be too strongly stated, though certain dispensationalists will doubtless like it well enough as it is. But the fact is, the printed Bible is not what Burmah needed at that time, but the preached Gospel.

This, however, is only a correlative point. The point upon which I insist here is that the church must be planted, its doctrines and heritage inculcated, and a theological language developed, before the Bible can be properly translated. And to translate the Bible into the language of a land in which Christianity has been but lately planted is necessarily a different matter than to translate it into a language in which Christianity has been established for centuries. Any such language certainly possesses a well-developed theological vocabulary, and a well-developed mode of religious speech, and that speech of course ought to be used in translating the Bible.

Now it is a fact as clear as the sunlight that we possess such a “Bible language” in English. Indeed, in a certain limited sense we might almost say that English is Bible language. The contents of the Bible have so thoroughly permeated the customs and the thinking of English peoples that the English language itself has been thoroughly tinctured with them. That this was always the case we would not pretend, any more than we would pretend that there is a “Bible language” in every heathen tongue scattered over the globe. In order for any such Bible language to exist, there must first be a people of God, who are conversant with divine things. Such a people must, by the same process which took place in the Greek language, adapt their mother tongue to the things of God, and so raise it up from the level of the natural, or the pagan, to the divine and the spiritual. This process has of course long since been accomplished in English. We have a “Bible language,” and in the limited sense already mentioned it might almost be said that English is a “Bible language.” Isaac Taylor wrote concerning the English language, nearly two centuries ago, “This language, now pouring itself over all the waste places of the earth, is the principal medium of Christian truth and feeling, and is rich in every means of Christian instruction, and is fraught with religious sentiment, in all kinds, adapted to the taste of the philosopher, the cottager, and the infant. Almost apart, therefore, from missionary labor, the spread of this language insures the spread of the religion of the Bible. The doctrine is entwined with the language, and can hardly be disjoined.”

A great deal of this remains to the present day, so that the facts of revelation----God, Christ, hell, and damnation----are constantly on the tongues of the most profane and wicked of those who speak English. Not that they much understand the things of which they thus profanely speak. We live in a very shallow generation, which seldom thinks at all, and I would be the first to grant that most of those who use these sacred terms as profanity have never given a passing thought in all their lives to the meaning of those terms. They use them only as language which is profane, and use them with no grammatical sense at all. The only man I ever knew who actually knew how to curse was my grandfather. Nevertheless, the prevalence of such sacred language among the most ungodly is a proof of what English once was. We are well aware that the past few generations have seen an increasing secularization of life, and a steadily decreasing consciousness of divine things, so that the glowing account quoted above from Isaac Taylor is no longer true today. At least it is certainly not true in the same degree. Though much of the historical content of the Bible may remain entwined with the language, its theological content is largely lost.

Nevertheless, there remains among the people of God a “Bible language” in English, as surely as ever there was one. It is, in general, the language of the King James Version. This is true even of its archaic diction, and even the world knows it, so that when the men of the world wish to say something religious, they will often adopt archaic language for the purpose. They may do this facetiously, but still they do it. This is often done by shallow and ignorant folks, who do not know how to use the old English correctly, but still they are conscious that the old English is Bible English. An article on Bible versions in the secular Time magazine for Sept. 9, 1996, entitled “The Power of Babble” (sic), contains a good example of this. The end of the subtitle reads, “What hath they wrought,” while the article begins, “Yea, verily.” We do not relish such a facetious usage of the old English, but the fact that it is so used is proof enough that the world itself recognizes it as “Bible language.” The old English has been the “Bible language” of the English people for more than half a millennium, and only in the past generation or two has anyone dreamed of displacing it. There were earlier attempts----such as the Revised Version----to displace the old Bible version, but they made no attempt to replace the old Bible language. That was reserved for the present generation, which is determined upon change, but which does not understand the issues involved. Not that most of the modern versions have endeavored to completely replace the language of the old version. The Christian Bible has almost entirely eliminated it, but the other modern versions are more conservative. Yet they have all partially abandoned it, and their principle of translating the Bible into common English will lead them always further down the same wrong path. It will lead them to take out the common theological language of the church, and put in its place something which they suppose to be the common language of the natural man.

But I must speak more particularly of this “Bible English.” Since I began to write this article I have read the chapter on “The English Bible” in the Lectures on the English Language, by George Perkins Marsh. In so doing I found that he repeatedly expressed my own thoughts exactly, in language as cogent and forcible as any which I could employ myself. This being the case, I supposed that I could do no better than to quote what he has said so well----to give my thoughts, that is, in his words----for I suppose it likely that the observations of such an authority on the English language will carry more weight than anything which I might say. Meanwhile I highly recommend the careful perusal of the entire chapter. The book may no doubt be found in any good public or university library.

Marsh refers to this “Bible English” as a “consecrated diction,” saying, “Wycliffe and his school in the fourteenth, Tyndale early in the sixteenth, Coverdale, Cranmer, the Genevan, and other translators at a later period, had gradually built up a consecrated diction, which, though not, as it certainly was not, composed of a vulgar vocabulary, was, nevertheless, in that religious age, as perfectly intelligible to every English protestant as the words of the nursery and the fireside.”

It may be necessary to remark upon this that the word “vulgar” as Marsh uses it is not to be taken in its modern sense of base or filthy. In its original meaning the vulgar language is the common language of the people, and Marsh here rightly asserts that the vocabulary of the King James Version “certainly was not” the common language of the people, though perfectly intelligible to religious people. In this it was an accurate representation of the original from which it was rendered. It may be further necessary to remark that “Bible English” certainly did not begin with Wycliffe. It was in use four centuries before him. Yet the language was rapidly changing in those times, due undoubtedly to the inability of the masses to read and write, so that “Bible language” as we know it did not crystalize until some time after the Reformation. But whatever it may have been then, there is no question that it exists in a stable form now.

Marsh repeatedly describes this “Bible English” as a “consecrated dialect,” a “sacred phraseology,” a “special nomenclature,” and a “religious dialect.” It is not only right, but absolutely necessary that such a Bible language should exist. The Bible itself could hardly exist without it. The subject matter of the Bible requires it. The same is true in every other specialized field. I recently read a very brief item on a football game in the local shopping paper, but I could not understand it. I could not understand the terminology----have no idea, for example, what a “sack” is. The same thing will certainly be the case when the ungodly, with no Christian background, read the Bible. This is necessarily so, and it is really folly to endeavor either to deny or to alter it. Every special field----from football to psychology----has its own language, which the uninitiated cannot understand. To attempt to produce a Bible, then, in the common language of the uninitiated----in the common language, that is, of non-Christians----is simple folly and ignorance. On this theme Marsh writes,

“In fact the English Bible sustains, and always has sustained to the general Anglican tongue, the position of a treatise upon a special knowledge requiring, like any branch of science, a special nomenclature and phraseology. The language of the law, for example, in both vocabulary and structure, differs widely from that of unprofessional life; the language of medicine, of metaphysics, of astronomy, of chemistry, of mechanical art, all these have their appropriate idioms, very diverse from the speech which is the common heritage of all. Why, then, should theology, the highest of knowledges, alone be required to file her tongue to the vulgar utterance, when every other human interest has its own appropriate expression, which no man thinks of conforming to a standard, that, because it is too common, can hardly be other than unclean?”

These are words of solid wisdom. Marsh continues,

“There is one important distinction between the dialect of the scriptures, considered as an exposition of a theology, and that of a science or profession. The sciences, all secular knowledges, in fact, are mutable and progressive, and of course, as they change and advance, their nomenclature must vary in the same proportion. The doctrine of the Bible, on the other hand, is a thing fixed and unchangeable, and when it has once found a fitting expression in the words of a given language, there is in general no reason why those words should not continue to be used, so long as the language of which they form a part continues to exist. There are many words in the English Bible which are strictly technical, and never were employed as a part of the common dialect, or for any other purpose than the particular use to which they are consecrated in that volume; there are others which belong both to the appropriate expression of religious doctrine, and to the speech of common life, and of these latter, some very few have become obsolete, so far as their popular, every-day use is concerned; but they still retain in religious phraseology the signification they possessed when introduced into the English language.

“Now the same thing is true with reference to all other knowledges which possess special nomenclatures. There are in law, medicine, chemistry, the mechanical arts, many words always exclusively appropriated to the services of those arts; others, once familiar and common, but which no longer form a part of the general vocabulary of the language, and which are at present restricted to scientific and professional use; and here the phraseology of the scriptures, and that of other special studies, stand in precisely the same relations to the common language of the people. Each has, and always must have, a special dialect, because it is a speciality itself, and has numerous ideas not common to any other department of human thought and action. And not only is this true of the language of science, and of art, but of the dialect which belongs to all the higher workings of the intellect. No man acquainted with both literature and life supposes that the speech of the personages of Shakespeare's tragedies, or of the actors in Milton's great epic, was the actual colloquial phraseology of their times; and it is as absurd to object to the language of the scriptures, because it is not the language of the street, as to criticise Shakespeare and Milton, because their human and superhuman heroes speak in the artificial dialect of poetry, and not in the tones of vulgar humanity.

“To attempt a new translation of the Bible, in the hope of finding within the compass of the English language a clearer, a more appropriate, or a more forcible diction than that of the standard version, is to betray an ignorance of the capabilities of our native speech, with which it would be in vain to reason.”

Of all of this I can only say, as Philip Doddridge said of John Wesley's Appeals, “How forcible are right words!” Yet I, always hopeful, cannot suppose it altogether “in vain to reason” with the generation which has given us the modern Bible versions. Ignorant they surely are of the issues, but so plain are these matters to my own mind that I dare suppose they need only be pointed out to be embraced, except where prejudice reigns. That we do deal here with a great deal of prejudice I am very well aware, but I never suppose prejudice to be invincible until it proves itself so.

If it were possible to eject the theological vocabulary which forms the substratum of the common English Bible, it were certainly not desirable, though much of that vocabulary is certainly not common English. “Baptize” is a technical theological term, which never had any existence in English in any other sense, yet it is as undesirable as it is impossible to discard it. “Savior” is hardly common English, except as applied to Christ. Though dictionaries may define “savior” as “one who saves,” the word is probably rarely applied to anyone but “the Saviour,” without at least a mental allusion to him. Likewise “gospel.” The Bible is replete with such theological language, and it is perfectly intelligible to those who know and love the Book. They have neither need nor wish to discard it.

Marsh writes elsewhere, “...I do not hesitate to avow my conviction that if any body of scholars, of competent Greek and Hebrew learning, were now to undertake, not a revision of the existing version, but a new translation founded on the principle of employing the current phraseology of the day, it would be found much less intelligible to the mass of English-speaking people than the standard version at this moment is.”

This, while it may no longer be quite so true now as it was then of English people in general, is certainly as true as ever it was of religious people. An example has recently come to my attention, and that in a person who was not previously familiar with the language of the King James Version. In response to the article which I published on the single eye, an intelligent woman, who was raised in a liberal church using the RSV, and who continued to use the RSV for some time after she was converted while in college, tells me that she never understood that passage until she read it in the King James translation.

Marsh continues, “If the Bible is less understood than it was at earlier periods, which I by no means believe, it is because it is less studied; and the true remedy is, not to lower its tone to a debased standard of intelligence, but to educate the understandings of the Anglican people up to the comprehension of the purest and most idiomatic forms of expression which belong to their mother tongue.” This is truth well spoken, though I must introduce one caution. We do not suppose it either necessary or possible thus to educate the general populace. It is the people of God with whom we are concerned here, and the only step necessary to be taken to thus educate the people of God is to continue to use the old Bible. The people of God are already familiar with its language, as much so as football fans are familiar with the language of football, from “punt” to the mispronunciation of “offense” and “defense.” What follower of this sport would dream of giving up its particular language, to replace it with common English, so that the uninitiated could understand it? Even if such a thing were possible, football fans would certainly judge it undesirable. Verily, “The children of this world are wiser in their own kind than the children of light.” (Luke 16:8).

Ah, but my readers have caught me altering the language of the old version while I defend it!

I think not. I have never contended that the King James Version has no need of revision. In this article I contend for the “Bible language” which the old version contains, but certainly not for every application of that language which the old version makes. The verse which I have quoted has become practically unintelligible not only to the world, but to most of the people of God also. I say it “has become” so, though I am not so sure the King James Version ever was very intelligible here. In changing “generation” to “kind,” I only revert to the rendering of Tyndale, Coverdale, Matthew, Taverner, and the Geneva New Testament----a rendering which ought to have been let alone. But let it be plainly understood, I do not contend in this article for every individual rendering of the old version, but only for its language in general----for its theological vocabulary in particular, and for its forms of speech as a lesser matter.

Its forms of speech of course include its archaic diction. This I do not regard as of equal importance with its vocabulary, yet as I have pointed out above, the world itself is conscious that Bible language is archaic language. I have labored elsewhere in defense of the retention of this archaic language, and therefore need say the less here. It has been most interesting to me, however, to observe that the makers of some of the modern versions are themselves very obviously very conscious that archaic English is Bible English. It seems these new translators have some intuition----some instinct, if you will----which tells them that the old English is Bible language, and that something of the atmosphere, the spirit, or something of the Scriptures is lost when we abandon it. It is well known that the New American Standard Version has retained the old English in all prayers, for the saints of God have addressed God in Elizabethan English for centuries, and many of them still do. I grew up with the practice, but gave it up when I was a young liberal at Bible school. But the retention of such language as the language of prayer in the NASV has made many parts of the book a patchwork indeed, especially the whole book of Psalms, in which we must go back and forth between old and new English, often in the same Psalm. These translators did well enough to recognize the old English as the language of prayer, but it is strange they did not equally recognize it as Bible language. Another most interesting phenomenon in this connection has come under my observation, namely, that of a man who uses the New King James Version (which religiously avoids archaic language) and yet prays in the archaic diction of the old version. It is undoubtedly true that such a man sings praises to God in archaic English also, as all Christians do, whatever Bible they may use.

Another very telling instance is found in J. B. Phillips' New Testament in Modern English. In Luke 18:18-20, for example, we read the conversation between the Lord and the rich young ruler in “Modern English,” of course----until the Lord begins to quote the commandments from the Old Testament, and then we abruptly revert to archaic English, from “THOU SHALT NOT commit adultery,” to “Honor THY father and THY mother.” The instincts of the translator evidently told him that the quotations from the old book ought to retain their old familiar form. This principle was carried out throughout the New Testament----though not with entire consistency----so that in the midst of “Modern English,” irreverence, and loose paraphrasing, most of the quotations from the Old Testament appear in their old familiar dress, such as “There is none that seeketh after God” in Romans 1:11, and “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn” in I Cor. 9:9. Here he somewhat alters the rendering, yet retains the archaic language. The translator evidently felt that it was fitting to quote the Bible in Bible language----though he somehow failed to perceive that this principle ought equally to apply to the whole book which he had in hand, as well as to the Old Testament.

But mark, I do not put the archaic diction of the old version upon the same level of importance as its theological vocabulary. Yet they both belong to what is undeniably “Bible language,” and there is no sufficient reason to depart from either of them. I know, plenty of reasons are advanced. The public schools of our day have produced a generation of young people which cannot pass the tests which their fathers did. Therefore the standard must be brought down----easier tests introduced, or lower scores passed. The second evil is brought in to cure the first, but it is no cure at all, but only a little bandage over a gnawing cancer. The evangelical church of our time has produced a generation of young people which is so spiritually illiterate that it cannot understand the old Bible language. We must therefore give them the word of God in “the language of today.” Thus we bring in the second evil to cure the first one. This is characteristic of the times. We will not assert that the remedy is worse than the disease, though it is certainly unlikely to cure it. We quote George Marsh once more, and quite agree with his assertion, “Whatever questions may be raised respecting the accuracy with which particular passages are rendered, there seems to be no difference of opinion among scholars really learned in the English tongue, as to the exceeding appropriateness of the style of the authorized version; and the attempt to bring down that style to the standard of to-day is as great an absurdity, and implies as mistaken views of the true character and office of human language, and especially of our maternal speech, as would be displayed by translating the comedies of Shakespeare into the dialect of the popular farces of the season.” We think also that a revival of New Testament Christianity would eliminate any “need,” and certainly any desire, for Bibles in common English.



Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible Ï

by the Editor


The Holy Ghost

“The Holy Ghost” has been the common English designation of the Third Person of the Trinity for well over a thousand years. Taking a glance at the old Bible versions, at Matt. 1:18, we find:

Anglo Saxon, A.D. 750?----êam halegan gaste

Wycliffe Bible, c. 1380----êe Holy Gost

Tyndale's N.T., 1526----the holy goost

Coverdale's Bible, 1535----ye holy goost

Matthew's Bible, 1537----the holy goost

Taverner's Bible, 1539----the holy ghost

Great Bible, 1539----the holy goost

Geneva Bible, 1560----the holie Gost

Bishops' Bible, 1568----the holy ghost

Revised Version, 1881----the Holy Ghost

The expression is used scores of times in the King James Bible, and is an old landmark, woven into all the thought and literature of the church for ten centuries. But modern taste is too fastidious to brook it. The old American Standard Version eliminated it altogether. It does not appear at all in the NASV, and apparently not in the Berkeley Version, NIV, or NKJV, though I have checked them only at random places. The modern taste which must turn the chaste “Adam knew his wife” into the coarse “the man had relations with his wife” (NASV) was too refined to bear “the Holy Ghost.” That refined modern taste which must turn Mary's chaste “I know not a man” into the immodest “I am a virgin” (NIV) in Luke 1:34 could not brook “the Holy Ghost” in Luke 1:35. Is it any wonder that some folks say, “The old is better”?

But if modern fastidiousness must have “the Holy Spirit” in its Bible, in place of “the Holy Ghost,” “the Holy Ghost” will yet remain the language of its literature and of its hymnal. It is too late to alter Bunyan and Baxter and Wesley and Spurgeon and Moody. The modern church may, of course, cease to read its literature, and we fear that this is the actual case with most of those who have adopted the new Bibles. Their literature consists of Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis----or something more modern. Spurgeon is as out of date as the old Bible. But have they left the old hymn book also? Some, we are well aware, have done so indeed. In certain circles the old hymns are as much despised as the old Bible. But this is certainly not the case with all, and there are doubtless many who have been inveigled into using the new Bibles, who nevertheless love the old hymns. They love the hymns which Watts and Wesley wrote, and Spurgeon and Moody sang----love them as Watts and Wesley wrote them, and sing them as Spurgeon and Moody sang them. It is too late to alter the hymn book. When these men “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” they will yet “Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” whatever their new Bibles may say. They will yet pray, “Holy Ghost with light divine, Shine upon this heart of mine,” in spite of their new Bibles. And if such language is acceptable in our hymns, in our hearts, and on our tongues, in our most solemn and most joyful spiritual exercises, why is it not acceptable in the Bible? Alas, these new Bibles were not made for the church, but for the world.

Editorial Policies

OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for correction 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.