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Vol. 6, No. 5
May, 1997

Short-Term Missions

by GlennConjurske

One of the ways in which the modern means of rapid travel have proved a curse to the church has been in the introduction of “short-term missions.” The advent of the modern means of travel has made it easy to travel to and from all parts of the globe. Modern inventions in general have made everything easy which was formerly difficult, but ease is a very uncertain blessing. It was God who made things difficult for man, as soon as man became a sinner, and was there no wisdom in this? Does the world know better than God? It is a plain command of God that the servant of Christ should “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 2:3), but since the advent of a thousand modern inventions, there is scarcely any hardship left to endure. The effect of this has not been good. Hardship makes character, and tries character too. Modern times offer but little which will build solid character, and little to test it either. It is now easy to produce books, and easy to multiply copies of them, and the result is that the church is flooded with them, and most of them of little or no worth. It is easy to be a missionary in modern times, and this fact has of course lowered the character of the missionary in general. The time was when to be a missionary meant to devote one's life to it. At the present day it may mean no more than a slight interruption to our normal affairs.

Very little is required of most missionaries today----even of “regular” missionaries----to say nothing of the “short-term” variety. In the days when missions were difficult, they were not attempted at all, except by those who possessed a high degree of devotedness, purpose, and commitment. Thus, though missionaries may not have been plentiful in those days, they were of the right sort. To be a missionary then meant sacrifice. It required a high degree of commitment.

It was nearly two centuries ago that the first missionaries departed from America for heathen shores. Among them was Adoniram Judson. In those days the trip to the field often occupied as much time as the term of service does today. Missionaries did not embark on that trip expecting soon to return. They did not expect to return at all, but to give their lives to the work. In 1811 Adoniram Judson, who was about to depart for the mission field, and who had proposed marriage to Ann Hasseltine, wrote to Ann's father,

“I have now to ask, whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world; whether you can consent to her departure for a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life; whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death. Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left his heavenly home, and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing immortal souls; for the sake of Zion, and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness, brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall redound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”

Ann Hasseltine had written herself in 1810, at the age of twenty, “I feel willing, and expect, if nothing in providence prevents, to spend my days in this world in heathen lands. Yes, Lydia, I have about come to the determination to give up all my comforts and enjoyments here, sacrifice my affection to relatives and friends, and go where God, in his providence, shall see fit to place me. My determinations are not hasty, or formed without viewing the dangers, trials and hardships attendant on a missionary life.”

How many missionaries would go forth on such terms today? Most of the hardships which she faced no longer exist for missionaries in the present generation. No moral heroism is required, and very little of commitment. Especially is this true of “short-term” missionaries. John Mark, who “went not with them to the work,” might have served very well in such a capacity, and would have been smothered with honors for his service, instead of the apostolic censure which his conduct merited. Many of the “short-term” missionaries today are young people----high school and college students----and their mission work is little more than a pleasure trip. That some of them are holy and devoted is no doubt true. We do not speak to reproach them in any way. We speak to censure the system which makes mission work as attractive to the carnal and the lazy as it is to the spiritual and devoted. But the carnal and lazy aside, how many of the very best of short-term missionaries are actually called of God and burdened for the work? If they are, why do they not devote their lives to it? If they are not, what sort of missionaries can they be?

When William Carey went to India, it was to stay there for forty years, and to die there.

In the same spirit Judson left his American homeland in 1812, not to see it again for more than thirty-two years, when the illness of his wife was thought to make the journey necessary. She died enroute. Those thirty-two years in Burmah were not years of pleasure, but of suffering and bereavement, of hardship and disappointment, and of loneliness and oppression of spirit, surrounded by the gloom of heathenism. When he had been in Burmah about twenty years, “He said...that he had never seen a ship sail out of the port of Maulmain bound for England or America without an almost irrepressible inclination to get on board and visit again the home of his boyhood.” It was self-denial to stay in Burmah, even over the urgent invitations of the mission board to visit America, but commitment to the work determined his course.

Robert Moffat sailed for Africa in 1816, and did not see Britain again until 1839. He then returned because of ill health, and to carry through the press the completed New Testament. His work in Britain completed, he returned to Africa in 1842, where he remained until 1870, when poor health and advancing age compelled him to return home----a step to which the mission Directors had been urging him for years.

John Williams left his British home for the South Sea Islands in 1817, and remained there until he was eaten by the cannibals, in 1839. He once visited Australia, for health's sake.

The title of George Turner's Nineteen Years in Polynesia tells its own tale. When he returned home after nineteen years, it was for a purpose----mainly to see the revision of the Bible through the press.

Griffith John visited his British homeland twice, during a stay of fifty years in China.

Dan Crawford published his Thinking Black in 1912. The subtitle is “22 Years without a Break in the Long Grass of Central Africa.” It was not necessity which kept him in Africa, but commitment, for this was in the days of steamships and railroads----yes, and in the days of missionary furloughs also.

A few years prior to this Mary Slessor had written from the bush of Central Africa, to her Mission Council, “By the 2nd of January 1904 I shall have been out five years, and so my furlough would then be due, but as I have not the slightest intention of going to Britain----I am thankful to say I do not feel any necessity for so doing----I propose to ask leave from the station for six months, during which time I should, in a very easy way, try to keep up an informal system of itinerating between Okoyong and Amasu. ... I shall find my own canoe and crew, and shall stay at any given place any length of time which the circumstances suggest, so as not to tax my own strength, and members of my own family shall help in the elementary teaching in the schools.”

What she proposed, in plain English, is that she should spend her furlough doing pioneer work in the African bush, at her own expense, providing her own outfit and crew. She was 53 years old at the time, and worn down by constant toils and frequent sickness. Yet she felt no need for any furlough in Britain. The “family” to which she referred consisted of a small troop of Africans, which she had rescued from one death or another, raising many of them from their infancy. Her request was granted, and she set off, writing, “It seems strange to be starting with a family on a gipsy life in a canoe, but God will take care of us. Whether I shall find His place for me up-river or whether I shall come back to my own people again, I do not know.” “My own people” refers, of course, not to the people of her homeland in Scotland, but to the Africans at her mission station.

Not only did she refuse the pleasure and comforts of a visit to her homeland, but refused even to return to the comparative ease of “her own people” at the established station. Her six months of itinerating were extended to a year, and when that was expired, and the mission board asked her to return to her station, she wrote, “Okoyong and its people are very dear to me. No place on earth now is quite as dear, but to leave these hordes of untamed, unwashed, unlovely savages and withdraw the little sunlight that has begun to flicker out over its darkness! I dare not think of it. Whether the Church permits it or not, I feel I must stay here and even go farther as the roads are made. I cannot walk now, nor dare I do anything to trifle with my health, which is very queer now and then, but if the roads are all the easy gradient of those already made I can get four wheels made and set a box on them, and the children can draw me about. ... With such facts pressing on me at every point you will understand my saying I dare not go back. I shall rather take the risk of finding my own chop if the Mission do not see their way to go on.” She never returned to her homeland again, but labored on, living in what her biographer calls “her forlorn little shanties” in the African bush, often in sickness and extreme weakness, continuing her pioneer work for another dozen years, till she died at her post. In the heat of Africa and the gloom of heathenism she longed indeed for Scotland----even to see a little frost in the cart ruts----but commitment to the work kept her in Africa.

Christina Forsyth went to South Africa in 1886, at the age of 41, and remained there at her own expense in a lonely outpost for thirty years. When crippled by rheumatism and debilitated by age she was pressed to return to Scotland, “`I am just like Miss Slessor,' she wrote to Miss Macfarlane: `I cannot tear myself away. Often in my dreams I am at home, and I invariably say, `Why did I leave Africa----how can I get back?”' At length at the age of seventy-two she retired to Scotland, for she had said, “I do not think it fair to occupy a place without being able for the duties.”

Written about the same time as Mary Slessor's letter, Richard Lovett's James Chalmers tells us, “The conditions of travelling and of life generally now are widely different from those which obtained in the earlier half of the nineteenth century. IN THOSE DAYS THE BULK OF MISSIONARIES IDENTIFIED THEMSELVES MUCH MORE CLOSELY WITH THE PLACE AND PEOPLE OF THEIR WORK THAN MANY OF THEM DO TO-DAY. A man like Benjamin Rice could spend over fifty years of service in India, and yet revisit England only once. And while there are splendid exceptions, like Dr. Griffith John, of Hankow, whose last visit home was in 1881, the custom now is shorter spells of service, and much more frequent visits home. This is recognized and allowed for in the regulations of the different societies. It is, perhaps, inevitable; but there is room for grave doubt whether it does not too often affect the work adversely. No one can have much experience of committee work in connexion with our great societies without feeling that the furlough system tends at times to develop human weaknesses. The facilities for return home are so great that the temptations to leave work on account of ill-health and other causes are greatly increased; and there is far more ground in some quarters than is desirable for the fear which Chalmers expresses----that the missionaries of the past gave themselves more wholly to their work than some missionaries of to-day.” Yes, precisely. “Inevitable” or not, there can be little question that modern inventions, conveniences, affluence, and ease “develop human weaknesses,” and stand in the way of the development of character and depth and spirituality.

Chalmers himself wrote, “When we left home in 1866, I fully intended never to return. ... I fancy the missionaries of the past thought more of their work than the missionaries of the present day. The latter seem to come out for ten years, even if they can stand the work so long, and the years and the months are counted, and often the furlough time is longed for.” And what would Chalmers say today, when the “regular” term of service is four or five years, when all the conveniences of civilization are found on the mission field, or carried there, and the work itself is the personification of ease in comparison with mission work in Chalmers' day?

When compared with the missionary operations of the nineteenth century, it appears that all mission work at the present time is “short-term.” But it is not for me to condemn “short-term missions” in the lump. Were any man to contend that there is no good in them, I would oppose him. Yet as the old proverb says, “The good is the enemy of the best.” I speak only in general terms, comparing the mission work of today with what it once was, and I have not the slightest doubt that anyone familiar with the old missionary operations, who compares them with those of the present day, will be forced to say, “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed!” The very things which the church most glories in today would have been cause for shame a century and a half ago. The spiritual ability, the moral heroism, the unwavering commitment which characterized the missionary operations of the nineteenth century are no longer required today, and in general are no longer found. It may be that if there were any call for the old-time commitment today, some few would rise to the occasion. We hope so. Meanwhile, modern ease and affluence have rendered the modern church soft and shallow, and those conditions prevail in its missionary operations as well as in everything else.

Not that there are no remedies for such a state of things. There is a remedy for every spiritual ill, but the remedies may be such that the present generation is little likely to use them. The first step towards a cure is to recognize the disease, and to that end I write.

“It Takes A Village”

by Glenn Conjurske

“We are not ignorant of his devices.”----II Cor. 2:11.



It takes a village (so we're told),
To raise a child today.
It takes a village (we reply),
To steal his heart away----
To purge old-fashioned do's and don't's
From his enlightened mind----
To leave old-fashioned Ma and Pa
A hundred years behind.

It takes a village, verily,
To teach some mother's son
To steal and gamble, smoke and swear----
And vandalize for fun.
His mother didn't teach him that!
His father? No, not he.
It takes a village to corrupt,
A village, verily.

It takes a village, this we know,
To teach the maidens sweet,
To dress and act, to look and talk,
Like women of the street.
It takes a village, not a doubt,
To teach a maiden mild,
To save the monkeys, owls, and whales,
And kill her unborn child.

It takes a village public school,
Some subtle classroom chats,
To teach the little boys and girls
To act like alley cats----
To teach them of the birds and bees,
Without morality----
To teach them what to do, and how,
And tell them that they're free.

It takes a village, yes, indeed,
To brainwash all the youth,
With notions and with fallacies,
In place of sense and truth.
Abortion rights! The right to die!
The rights of animals!
Creative spelling! Unisex!
The rights of criminals!

It takes a village, well we know,
To turn their minds awry,
To stand for fancied “children's rights,”
And parents' rights deny----
To honor human nature less,
And trees and rivers more----
To sacrifice to Mother Earth,
And Father God ignore.

“It takes a village,” so they say,
But something more they mean.
United Nations. Washington.
The liberal machine.
Society. The “Brave New World.”
The socialistic scheme.
The global ideology.


The Mark of an Awakening

by Glenn Conjurske

I use the term “awakening” to speak of what is usually called a revival. The terms may be used indifferently, but I prefer here to distinguish them. A revival affects the church, an awakening the world. As I here use the terms, an awakening may be the result of a revival, but they are not the same thing. An awakening awakens the ungodly to a sense of the reality of unseen and eternal things----awakens them to the reality of God and heaven and hell----awakens them from their carelessness and thoughtlessness of eternal realities, much as the cry of “fire!” would do at midnight. So far as it concerns individuals, I carefully distinguish between awakening and conviction. Fear is usually the main element in awakening. Shame is the main element in conviction. The shame is a deeper work than the fear, but both the fear and the shame are the work of the Holy Spirit of God.

In saying “the mark of an awakening,” I do not mean to imply that this is the only mark. There are various marks which are more or less common to awakenings, such as the abandonment of sports and entertainments, and even the suspension of daily business. Awakenings have also emptied taverns, and left policemen and courts idle for lack of crime. Outcries, prostrations, convulsions, and various other physical phenomena have been characteristic of the most powerful awakenings. All of this I could illustrate by numerous examples from history. But the mark of which I speak seems to be universal to all real awakenings. It seems to belong to the nature of the thing.

This mark is that religion becomes the chief topic of talk among all classes of people. Salvation engrosses the thoughts, and therefore the conversation, of all men, wherever the awakening extends. Men who were sound asleep but yesterday are now wide awake. Their sins stare them in the face. An eternal hell yawns before them. An offended God sits above them, and they learn to fear him, whom but yesterday they despised.

Some awakenings are local, resulting from the prayers or labors of a particular people, or the preaching of a particular man. I suppose that all awakenings begin locally, but those which are deep and strong will spread, sometimes over a large district, and sometimes over a whole nation. There has never been an awakening which spread over the world, or over an entire continent, but some have encompassed a whole nation. In all of them religion has become the chief topic of talk among the people. The historical proofs and examples of this are neither weak nor few. I have gathered up a few of these over the years, and here present a number of them to my readers. These I give with as little comment as the case will permit.

Of the revival in Northampton, Jonathan Edwards writes, “Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion, and the eternal world, became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees, and all ages; the noise amongst the dry bones waxed louder and louder. All other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was soon thrown by; all the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business. Other discourse than of the things of religion, would scarcely be tolerated in any company.”

Of the Great Awakening of 1740 we read, “The alteration in the face of religion here is altogether surprising. Never did the people show so great a willingness to attend sermons, nor the preachers greater zeal and diligence in performing the duties of their function. Religion is become the subject of most conversations. No books are in request but those of piety and devotion; and instead of idle songs and ballads, the people are everywhere entertaining themselves with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. All which, under God, is owing to the successful labors of the Rev. Mr. Whitefield.”

“In September, 1798, McGready held his sacramental meeting at Muddy River. God's power was there also. All over the field to which McGready ministered the home work became general. Surpassing any thing of the sort in all history was this revival without preaching, without public meetings, without any high pressure methods. The houses and the deep forests of Logan County rang with the prayers of souls in distress. While so many awakened souls were in solemn prayer, it is remarkable that deliverance was to most of them delayed. One who lived among them at that time has left his testimony, that in going from house to house all through McGready's congregations he heard only one theme talked of. If he came upon a group of old people, they were weeping and talking about their souls. If he encountered the young people, either singly or in groups, they were in tears, and spoke only about their souls' salvation.”

Of the same awakening McGready himself says, “Through these two congregations already mentioned, and through Red river, my other congregation, awakening work went on with power under every sermon. The people seemed to hear as for eternity. In every house, and almost every company, the whole conversation with people, was about the state of their souls.”

In an awakening in Connecticut in 1812, “The scenes which were now passing before us cannot be described, nor can they be conceived of but by those who have witnessed scenes of a similar nature. The eyes of God's people sparkled with joy inexpressible, while the countenances of sinners were depicted with distress and horror. The things of eternity were now regarded as realities of infinite moment. From the gray-headed sinner to the little child, the question was daily asked, `What must I do to be saved?' Religion was now the great theme of discourse. In the family, in the street, in the field, and in the shop, it engrossed almost the whole conversation.”

Under the ministry of Asahel Nettleton, “The interest became so intense in every part of the town, that whenever Mr. Nettleton was seen to enter a house, almost the whole neighborhood would immediately assemble to hear from his lips the word of life. Husbandmen would leave their fields, mechanics their shops, and females their domestic concerns, to inquire the way to eternal life. Religion was the great and all-absorbing theme in almost all companies, and on almost all occasions.”

Under the ministry of Charles G. Finney, “The work became so general throughout the city that in all places of public resort, in stores and public houses, in banks, in the street and in public conveyances, and everywhere, the work of salvation that was going on was the absorbing topic.”

Under the ministry of Jacob Knapp, “Among the converts in this meeting were persons of all classes; many of them were merchants, doctors, lawyers, judges, and city officials. There were four attorneys who professed conversion in a single day. Many of the experiences were clear, striking, and marvellous. Religion was the serious topic of conversation in the market-places and along the streets.”

Under the ministry of Daniel Baker, “All secular business seemed for the time to be laid aside and forgotten. Religion appeared the all-engrossing subject of thought and conversation.” Again, “On each day the interest of the meeting increased, and every argument and appeal fell upon the attentive audience with deeper and deeper solemnity. The business of the town ceased; conversation on common topics ceased; and the mind seemed to be driven in upon itself, in the business of strict and solemn self-examination.”

Under the ministry of Jabez Swan, “Religion became the topic of conversation everywhere. Everybody was for or against it. I was the chief target for marksmen.”

Under the labors of a colporteur of the American Tract Society in 1850, “By this time the pious people in the church had awoke, and all were at work with books and tracts. Business was almost suspended in the village, and religion was the only theme.”

In 1857, “The public mind was thoroughly roused, and the 'great revival' was the all-absorbing theme in hotels, stores, shops, taverns, railroad cars, and everywhere. The religious and secular press, especially in the rural districts, teemed with items of intelligence on this one great subject, the facts of the revival being the absorbing theme.”

Following a meeting held by A. B. Earle, “The Spirit of God is moving with mighty power; it does seem as though the place was being shaken from centre to circumference; old and young are coming to Christ; and religion seems to be the theme in every shop and store in the village.”

During the Civil War, and also in the wake of a meeting held by Earle, “The tokens of the approach of God in His majesty and glory became apparent. ... Soon the fruits began to appear. It was indeed a surprise to many of our churches. ... Meetings began to be multiplied and filled with deeply anxious souls. Soon converts began to be multiplied, and many were amazed and in doubt, saying one to another, `What meaneth this?' Instead of the war and the condition of the country, which had been so long the all-engrossing theme, religion became the subject of conversation in the corners of the streets, the marts of business, and the workshops and mills. All classes and all ages were alike moved, from the little school child to those who had grown gray in the service of Satan.”

The same was true a century earlier, when the nation was embroiled in the disputes which brought forth the American Revolution. Francis Asbury wrote in 1776, “The multitudes that attended on this occasion, returning home all alive to God, spread the flame through their respective neighbourhoods, which ran from family to family: so that within four weeks, several hundreds found the peace of God. And scarce any conversation was to be heard throughout the circuit, but concerning the things of God: either the complainings of the prisoners, groaning under the spirit of bondage unto fear; or the rejoicing of those whom the Spirit of adoption taught to cry, `Abba, Father.' The unhappy disputes between England and her colonies, which just before had engrossed all our conversation, seemed now in most companies to be forgot, while things of far greater importance lay so near the heart. I have gone into many, and not small companies, wherein there did not appear to be one careless soul: and the far greater part seemed perfectly happy in a clear sense of the love of God.”

In the revival of 1859, “The attention of the community was quite arrested, and the people spake of little else but the revival. The business of the world was, to a great extent, laid aside; religion seemed to take its proper place----the first place; the salvation of the soul seemed to be the one thing needful; many almost forgot to take their regular food----became pale and weak. Their great anxiety appeared to be `What must I do to be saved?”

Though I do not care for the jargon in which he does so, G. Campbell Morgan bears witness to the same fact in the Welsh revival, saying, “The revival is far more widespread than the fire zone. In this sense you may understand that the fire zone is where the meetings are actually held, and where you feel the flame that burns. But even when you come out of it, and go into railway trains, or into a shop, a bank, anywhere, men everywhere are talking of God.”

To these testimonies I might add yet others, but I fear their sameness may weary the reader. Yet in their sameness lies their force. All of the above are independent accounts, coming from persons of different denominations, widely separated in time and location, yet all telling exactly the same story. This is the mark of a real awakening. So far as I know anything about it, the present generation has never seen such an awakening. There are some very obvious reasons for this. The first lies in the grip which the ultra-refined and all-pervasive modern world has upon the souls of men. Men are so satiated with sinful pleasures that hunger and thirst can hardly be said to exist any more. The curses of modern society, in the hands of the prince of this world, have done their work, binding men fast in cords which never existed in past generations.

The second reason lies in the lukewarmness of the church----itself so much under the influence of the world that it has lost its ability to effectually counteract it. For these reasons generation after generation passes by, and we see no awakening. The present state of Society calls for a more zealous, more spiritual church than the world has yet seen, and in place of that all we can show is a church which is weak and soft and lukewarm and worldly. I believe the only real hope for an awakening among the ungodly lies in a revival in the church.

The Fundamental Weakness of Fundamentalism

by Glenn Conjurske

That there are many weaknesses in the Fundamentalism of the present day I have no doubt. It is shallow. It is worldly. It is drifting. All of this no doubt. But I do not here speak of such weaknesses, nor of any weaknesses which the movement may have acquired over the years. I speak of the defect in the foundation of Fundamentalism, the weakness which has always belonged to the movement.

The weakness of Fundamentalism appears in its very name. What is Fundamentalism? It is a stand for the Fundamentals of the faith, and a stand which from the beginning has been a response and a reaction to a denial of those Fundamentals. That stand, of course, is altogether proper and necessary, but in the nature of the case it has always come a generation too late. The Fundamentalist movement may be best likened to a fire department. It never responds till the alarm is sounded, and the alarm is never sounded until the house is on fire. It takes no steps to prevent fires. The children playing with matches are ignored. They do not constitute a denial of the Fundamentals. The open containers of gasoline are ignored. They are consistent with orthodoxy. The fuel oil dripping from the leak in the line is ignored. It is a good pipe-line, and Professor So-and-so is a good man. The tinder piled against the stove may meet a mild protest from certain “heresy-hunters,” but still it is generally ignored. The house is not on fire yet, and the protester is likely to meet with harder fare than the men who piled the tinder against the stove. The fire department has nothing to do with any of this. The fire fighters sit at rest in their citadel, playing cards and smoking their pipes, in blissful ignorance of the causes of fire which prevail in the town. They have nothing to do until the smoke is smelled and the flames are seen. Then we shall hear bells and sirens and cries of “Fire,” and we shall all commend each other as good whistle-blowers, good fire fighters, good Fundamentalists.

Thus it was with Fundamentalism from the beginning. The movement did not exist until the Fundamentals were denied. And denied by whom? Denied by the preachers and teachers with whom the Fundamentalists had been, till that moment, working together in happy concord. For those who fail to see the significance of this, allow me to explain:

The denial of the Fundamentals of the faith is not the first step in the ladder of spiritual decline. It is one of the last steps. A man who denies the Fundamentals of the faith is near the bottom of the ladder. The denial of the Fundamentals comes only as the result of a long course of spiritual decline. It is not men who are spiritual one day, who deny the Fundamentals the next day. Nothing of the sort. The Fundamentals are denied by men who have taken a long course of spiritual decline, a long departure from zeal and devotedness to Christ, a long farewell to spiritual Christianity----or at any rate by men who never had any spirituality to start with. The Fundamentals are denied by men who have long embraced worldliness in one form or another, whether its scholarship, its honors, its wealth, or its approval. And all this while the Fundamentalists have worked hand in hand with these men, and never perceived their decline, for they were orthodox. They were Fundamentalists.

I have previously rehearsed an illustration of this, in the case of John Murdock MacInnis.1 Here was a man whose doctrine and spirit were so obviously dictated by the world----so absolutely unspiritual----that we must really stretch the imagination to suppose that he was a Christian at all. Yet he was engaged in teaching the young Fundamentalists at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles----which till very lately had been under the superintendance of R. A. Torrey----and apparently under no suspicion of anything. When at length he published a book in which he touched the foundations----very gingerly, of course----he was immediately called to account, and eventually dismissed. His modernism they would not brook, but apparently no one so much as noticed his reeking worldliness and unspirituality.

Here is the fundamental weakness of Fundamentalism. The movement is not and never has been a stand for spirituality, but only for orthodoxy. It is, and always has been, a stand for the bare bones of Christianity. Understand, the term “fundamentals” designates the foundations of Christianity. It designates those things without which Christianity itself cannot exist. Fundamentalism did not come into being to keep the church healthy, but only to keep it alive. When the church has descended so low that it can sink no lower without ceasing to be Christian at all, then Fundamentalism has aroused itself from its slumber, raised its voice, and cried “Fire.” Everything else was gone already. The roof was gone long ago. The doors were taken from the hinges and carried away. The windows were broken out. The walls were dismantled before their eyes, and Fundamentalists raised no alarm at any of this. Ah! but when the foundation was touched, the sleeping giant stood up and fought. The protests were long and loud and vigorous----but they were a generation too late.

The protests ought to have come when the first shingle of the roof was touched----when spirituality declined, when zeal was cooled, when fervor was replaced with sophistication, when materialism made its first inroads into the church, when intellectual college professors were admired above warm-hearted evangelists, when kites and bubble gum and bus routes were brought in to replace the departed power of the Holy Ghost, when standards of personal righteousness were lowered, when the approval of the world was courted with degrees and accreditation, when evolution was toyed with, when the music of the church was patterned after that of the world, when worldly fashions were followed in dress, when the prayer-meeting attendance declined, when the novel and the newspaper replaced spiritual literature. But Fundamentalism has always been a stop-gap movement. It took no decisive action till the foundations were attacked. The dismantling of the house ought to have been a major concern, but it was scarcely perceived, or at any rate little regarded.

Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean to say that there have been no protests over such things. There have been, and some of them noble and spiritual, but those protests never belonged to the essence of Fundamentalism, nor have they ever been anything other than spasmodic and inconsistent. The man who questions “eternal security” or Scofield dispensationalism will receive more censure than the man who watches soap operas----if the latter receives any censure at all. Meanwhile, the dry-eyed intellectual is as much a Fundamentalist as the weeping prophet. The dead church is as Fundamental as the living one. The worldly church is as Fundamental as the spiritual one. The man who pursues an education at the hands of ungodly or unspiritual men is as much a Fundamentalist as the man who is taught of God in the back side of the desert. The preacher who plays golf and watches television is as much a Fundamentalist as the one who prays and knocks on doors to win souls. The man who reads Karl Barth is as much a Fundamentalist as the man who reads John Wesley, so long as he does not deny the Fundamentals. The man who will deny the Fundamentals tomorrow is as much a Fundamentalist today as the man who will die for them. In principle Fundamentalism is nothing more than a defense of the foundations of Christianity, and in fact Fundamentalism did not come into existence until the foundations were denied.

Suppose now that the protests of the Fundamentalists were always entirely successful. Suppose that they always resulted in the purging out of every trace of modernism, from the church, the school, or the denomination in which it had been entrenched. What would be the worth of such success? What would actually be accomplished by it? It would raise the movement back to the next highest rung on the ladder----raise it one step above the denial of the foundations of Christianity. When that is done, the Fundamentalists rest content, assuring themselves that all is well, and this institution is now solidly Fundamental. And perhaps it is so, but what is such a victory actually worth? The institution is now Fundamental, but the worldliness is not purged out, the lukewarmness is not purged out, those who are enamored with worldly scholarship are not purged out, those who shun the reproach of Christ are not purged out. In short, none of those things which for a generation paved the way and created the atmosphere for the denial of the Fundamentals are purged out, but all remain entrenched just as they were.

Now as a matter of fact Fundamentalist victories have been extremely rare. In spite of all the hard fighting of the most determined Fundamentalists, all the major denominations have fallen away to modernism. In the present day certain Fundamentalists have claimed some victories in the Southern Baptist Convention, but even if we could grant that those victories are real, what are they worth? Is the Southern Baptist Convention now spiritual? Are there no longer any forces at work which will abandon the Fundamentals tomorrow? The prairie fire is out, yes, but is the grass green? Have those institutions, boards, or state conventions which have been “recaptured” by the Fundamentalists purged out worldliness? Are they now heavenly-minded? Have they repudiated the world's psychology and philosophy? Have they renounced the world's education? Have they embraced the reproach of Christ? Have they put away the love of pleasure and of riches? Have they broken their unequal yokes? If not, they have done almost nothing. They have saved the bare bones of Christianity. They have acted as a stop-gap. They have gained a little time----perhaps a decade, or half a decade. Not that spiritual Christianity will thrive during that little time, but the bare bones of Christianity will not yet be cast away.

We will not say that this is nothing, but it is surely not enough. Yet it is all that is embraced in “the fight for the Fundamentals.” We do not, of course, contend that all Fundamentalists have lived on that low spiritual plane which is embraced in the meaning of the term “Fundamentalism.” Not at all. There has been much spirituality in the movement, much zeal and fervor, much indeed of all that is good----but at the same time apparently little perception of what was lacking. The standard was too low. The principle on which the movement was founded embraced too little of real Christianity. The movement sought to restore the church to the level at which she stood before the Fundamentals were given up, and that was a low level indeed, or the Fundamentals would never have been questioned.

Certain Fundamentalists, in tracing the history of the church in the epistles to the seven churches in Revelation 2 & 3, have found in Philadelphia “the Fundamental church,” while (of course) applying Sardis to “Protestantism.” Yet they would be very hard pressed to find any substantial difference between Fundamentalism and Protestantism. The former is indeed but the salvaging of the latter, when the latter was departing from the foundations of Christianity. No doubt there has been some advance in doctrine. For example, most Fundamentalists today reject infant baptism. This, however, is as much an advance over the original Fundamentalism as it is over Protestantism. Most of the original Fundamentalists were not Baptists, nor were most of the writers of the famous volumes of The Fundamentals. The movement stands in general on a sounder footing today, and corresponding with the present prevalence of baptistic principles, most Fundamentalists today reject in principle a church membership containing any but converted persons----a very great advance, truly. Yet this advance does not belong to the foundation or essence of the movement, and in practice----due to low standards, lax discipline, and an unsound gospel----many Fundamental churches today are as full of unconverted members as ever the Protestant churches of the Reformation were. Fundamentalists have often pointed out, with great force of reason, that God must say to Protestantism in its best and pristine condition, “I have not found thy works perfect before God.” It contained much that was spiritual and most precious, but it stopped short of the Christianity of the New Testament. But the very same must be said of Fundamentalism. For all of its preaching of separation, to take one example, it has never been separate from the world, but has been deeply involved from the beginning in the world's politics, the world's education, and the world's social and civic programs of every sort. Its separation has extended only to a few moral evils, such as dancing, smoking, and playing cards. Beyond that its separation has been purely ecclesiastical. The movement has never walked as a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth, and to this day there are Fundamentalists who stand upon the principle that they may join hands with the ungodly at a political meeting, but not at a religious meeting. I do not speak here of its practical state, which has varied much from time to time, but of its principles. These have never risen to the level of New Testament Christianity, any more than its practice has. The practice of many of its best men has been far in advance of its principles, but the principles themselves have always been defective. In its nature and essence it is a stand for the foundations of Christianity, and not for the Christianity which ought to be built upon those foundations.

The advent of Neo-evangelicalism, fifty years ago, somewhat altered the face of Fundamentalism in this respect. The more spiritual segment of the movement has stood solidly against Neo-evangelicalism, and some have endeavored to incorporate ecclesiastical separation into the definition of “Fundamentalism”----not that they dreamed of any other sort of separation. Yet this has been opposed by many, who wish to make the term “Fundamental” synonymous with “Evangelical,” and extend it to all who hold to the Fundamentals of the faith, whatever their doctrinal position or practical condition may be on other matters. And this in fact has been the actual meaning of “Fundamentalist” since the inception of the movement. To define it any other way would be to exclude almost all of its founders and most prominent men. George Dollar, indeed, in his History of Fundamentalism, distinguishes from the beginning of the movement between the Orthodox and the Fundamentalists, on the basis of prophetic truth, separation, etc., but there is no basis in history for such a distinction. Orthodoxy is Fundamentalism. It is a stand for the skeleton of Christianity, and no more. This is its fundamental weakness.



by Glenn Conjurske

Being very much of a contemplative cast of mind, my meditations have often carried me back in time to the great preachers of yesteryear, and in my reveries I have wondered, if I could turn back the hands of time, and go back to listen to one of the great preachers of history, which one would I choose? George Whitefield? By all the accounts which I have read, none other has ever equalled him in eloquence and power, and yet there are others who have a peculiar charm for me. There is Sam Hadley, the embodiment of the love of Christ for the most unlovely. And Gipsy Smith, the very thought of whose childlike spirit draws tears from my eyes. And the great Charles Wesley, who combines the traits of all three of these, and adds his own exuberance of spirit, which is hardly to be found elsewhere. But even from all of these my heart turns to the rugged and rustic James Axley, whose wit and power and uncouth honesty must be the admiration of every faithful preacher. Then to the simple Henry Moorhouse, who could beat the love of God down into the hearts of men, preaching night after night from John 3:16. The result of my pleasant reverie is, I cannot decide.

I turn myself to another reverie, no less pleasing. If I could turn the hands of time yet further back, and sit down in leisurely conversation with one of the old Bible saints, which one would I choose? Would it be John the Baptist, my own hero, and the greatest of those born of women? Or the grand old Elijah, who stands like some great mountain peak in the middle of the Old Testament, in his solitary grandeur? My heart lingers here, but I cannot stay. Tempting as an interview with either of these would be, there is another whom I would choose. My choice is fixed on Adam. If I were obliged to choose between the women of the Bible, the choice must be between Mary and Eve, but ah! it would be a hard choice. But limiting the choice to men, my choice is fixed on Adam.

Of all the men who have ever lived----certain Wesleyans notwithstanding----Adam was the only man ever to know both the pristine purity of paradise, and the sinful heart of a sinner. He knew what it was to have no taint in his nature, and he knew what it was to be polluted throughout. He knew every thought and emotion of the transition from the one state to the other. What questions I would like to put to Adam! How many centuries-old theological disputes could be settled in a moment by a word from Adam! Wherein does our fallenness consist? What is the difference between our fallen and our unfallen state? What faculties were impaired in the fall, and exactly how were they affected? How were the emotions affected, the will, the memory, the physical frame? And what of the lower creatures? Did the bees freely give their honey before the fall? What did owls eat, and alligators? Did spiders build webs? Adam knew all this.

But we know nothing. We must grope and guess and read and pray and study and meditate and converse, and still after a lifetime of this how little do we know! Adam knew.

But did I say, “after a lifetime”? What do we know of a lifetime? Adam lived 930 years! Our threescore years and ten are but a passing shadow----a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. What can we learn in our threescore years and ten? If we begin to learn what wisdom is, and where and how to find it, that is about all we can do, and we are carried off. We are all of us the merest children next to Adam. He began his life outside of paradise with more of wisdom that any of us can hope to gain in a lifetime, and then had nearly a millennium in which to build upon it. Nearly a millennium in which to observe and meditate----in which to study human nature, and human actions, and human emotions, and human relationships----in which to study causes and effects, and mistakes and consequences. He lived 930 years, and in those days when men had time to think, before the advent of a thousand modern conveniences and time-savers, which have filled our lives with constant bustle. Surely if ever there lived a man from whose lips we might learn wisdom, that man was Adam. What dwarfs and pygmies all of us must be next to Adam! And yet how proud is the present age of its enlightenment, its attainments, and its scholarship! Bring Adam on the stage, and how utterly would the attainments of this generation be contemned! Verily, we know in part.

It was the remark, I believe, of Archibald Alexander, that large libraries tend to teach us our ignorance. The existence of those shelves upon shelves of books ought to teach us how little we know. The most diligent application of a whole lifetime can only scratch the surface of a good library. It is good for us to know this. It is good for us also to meditate upon the wisdom of Adam, and to understand that we can never attain it. Men suppose themselves very superior today because they can make computers and space ships. Great attainments, no doubt, but Adam had better wisdom. He knew himself. An old proverb affirms, “No man knows himself until he has tasted of both fortunes.” Adam knew all. He knew paradise, and the curse. He knew innocence and sinfulness.

But I return from my reverie, deeply conscious that we shall never know as Adam did. And yet we may know much. We may know what we need to know. But we are severely hampered in the learning of it, by the dullness of our minds, the prejudices of our hearts, and the shortness of our years. It seems plain to me that there are vast fields of most important wisdom which in two thousand years the church of God has scarcely set foot on----such as the distinct places of the soul and the spirit. These are not things beyond our reach, but things which can be learned, from the Scriptures and spiritual experience. To envy Adam will hardly help us, but to be keenly aware of our inferiority ought to stir us to earnest action. We cannot be what Adam was, but we can redouble our diligence, and get wisdom with all our getting.

Adam could doubtless teach us more wisdom in an hour than we can learn in a decade of study, but we cannot ask him. But I have hope that one day beyond this life I may yet sit down with Adam, and talk things over with him, saying, “This is how I understood the fall, the soul, the spirit, the emotions, the mind, the will, the nature of our sinfulness. Tell me how near the truth I was.” I fancy he will be glad to teach me what I know not.


Faith and Sight

by Glenn Conjurske

The connection between sight and faith----the fact that “Seeing is believing”----has been fully established, we trust, in former articles, and we do no more here than reiterate a few of the scriptures upon which that connection is founded.

“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:19-20).

“Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had SEEN the things which Jesus did [the raising of Lazarus], BELIEVED on him.” (John 11:45).

“Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepluchre, and he SAW and BELIEVED.” (John 20:8).

Yet in spite of all this, Scripture also informs us that “faith is the evidence of things not seen,” and that “We walk by faith, and not by sight,” as though there were a direct antithesis between the two. How is all of this to be put together?

Really, quite simply. In everything which lies within the range of our investigation, faith stands directly upon sight. In the realm of things unseen, which lie beyond the sphere which we may investigate by our senses, sight stands upon faith. That faith which stands solidly upon sight becomes itself the evidence in the realm into which sight cannot penetrate.

There is nothing at all difficult in this. The faith which we have in a man, based upon his consistent reliability in those realms which we ourselves can investigate, becomes our basis for taking his word in those spheres which lie beyond our vision or our ability.

So it is with God. We do not believe in God as the evolutionist believes in evolution. We have no unproved hypothesis, but rather something which is “clearly seen.” Our faith in the Bible rests upon evidence, both objective and subjective. But when the Bible speaks of things which are beyond our ken, we believe it still. It has proved itself. Our faith, then, is the evidence of those things which we cannot see.

And the unseen is the proper sphere of faith. There is no virtue in believing what our eyes have seen. All the world does this. It is not the province of faith to believe in the existence of the sun, moon, and stars, which we can see, but in heaven, hell, and the coming judgement, which we have not seen. Our faith, itself founded upon that which we can see, is the evidence of things not seen. That faith is “the substance of things hoped for.” (Heb. 11:1).

To “walk by faith, not by sight,” is to determine our course on the basis of things not seen, but which have as much substance to faith as that which may be seen and touched. Noah walked by faith, not by sight, when he spent 120 years of his life building an ark, on dry land. He had not one iota of evidence that there was ever to be a flood, except the evidence of faith. God had spoken, and against all physical evidence he believed God, and so determined his course on the basis of things unseen----yea, and things unlikely or impossible to reason and experience. Yet it is reasonable to believe God, as the unbelievers found to their cost. They no doubt regarded Noah as a fool, for they had no evidence of any coming flood, though they might have had it.

Moses walked by faith, not by sight, when he forsook the pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt, “for he had respect unto the recompence of reward.” (Heb. 11:26). The pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt he could see and feel. The recompence of the reward he had never seen. He had no evidence of its existence, except the evidence of faith. And by that faith he “had respect unto” the unseen. He reckoned on it. He determined his course by it. “By faith ... he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Heb. 11:27).

People speak of “blind faith,” but the faith of the Bible is not blind. It sees the invisible, yes, and clearly sees it also, but on the basis of “the things that are made.” The man who has faith is as the sentinel who has his ear to the ground. He hears the distant pounding of hoof-beats. The advancing army has substance to him, though the sentinels who stand erect see nothing and believe nothing. And those who will not put their ears to the ground are a fit emblem of the men of the world, who have no faith, precisely because they will not honestly face the evidence. They are “willingly ignorant.” (II Pet. 3:5).

A better illustration may be found in an old sea-captain's use of the barometer. Under the title “The Trusty Weather-Glass” I read the following:

“Many years ago several sailing vessels left a port in China laden with `new season's' tea, and it was an understood thing that the vessel which arrived first for the London market should receive a sum of money to be divided proportionately among the captain, officers, and crew.

“As one only of these vessels specially concerns the story, we shall now proceed to give a faithful narration of what transpired upon it. For a few days everything went well, the weather was all that could be desired, and a prosperous voyage seemed to be before them. But one morning the captain, who had been on deck, returned to his cabin, and as he was about to seat himself for a rest, his eye caught the weather-glass. To his surprise it indicated a storm, and he hurried on deck to scan the horizon. Carefully and patiently he watched the sky, but failed to observe the slightest confirmation of the warning he had received. No clouds were apparent, and the sea was calm. What should he do? `Perhaps,' he thought, `something has happened to the glass. I can see no symptoms of a storm, and I can't afford to waste time.' Thus musing to himself, he made up his mind to wait a little, which he did.

“An hour or so afterwards he returned to the cabin, and this time the glass spoke more significantly than before----storm. More perplexed than ever, again he went on deck and narrowly watched the sky. Still no signs there; nothing to indicate the disturbing elements which assuredly existed. The captain hesitated; a conflict began in his mind----should he be guided by the old glass and prepare for a storm, or trust to mere appearances?

“The gold awaiting the first arrival was surely tempting at this moment, and a spirit of covetousness said, `Never mind the glass; it's not to be relied upon to-day. Is not everything bright and fair?' On the other hand, his better judgment whispered, “Be careful; that old glass has never been wrong in the past. You had better trust it now; it's the safe course.'

“Immediately afterwards he shouted out, `Take every stitch of canvas in; there's a storm coming!' In an instant every eye on board turned upward, and the men, like their captain previously, looked in vain to see any sign of a storm. Surprised at the absence of any warning where they most expected it, and regarding the captain's orders as unreasonable, the sailors began to murmur and rebel. The captain, fearing an open mutiny, pleaded with the men: and, partly by expostulation and partly by his authority, they, reluctantly enough, proceeded to obey his commands.

“Scarcely were the sails taken down, when quite suddenly the heavens became overcast with the densest clouds, the wind blew a hurricane, and they experienced a storm concerning which the captain afterwards remarked, `I never witnessed the like of it, either before or after, in all my experience.”'* His was the only one of the ships which reached England at all.

The falling barometer told a tale not to be ignored. The captain saw no storm, nor even the slightest indication of its coming, but he trusted the testimony of the barometer. His faith in the barometer was his evidence of the unseen storm. It gave substance to the raging winds and mounting waves, which were “not seen as yet.” But understand, this was no “blind faith.” It was entirely reasonable----and indeed, it were most unreasonable to discount the barometer's testimony. The barometer had proved itself, and so has the Bible. The Bible has proved itself in so abundant and thorough a manner that they are absolutely “without excuse” who disbelieve it. It has proved itself to our reason, in the sphere of things which we can investigate, such as the fulfilment of prophecy. We believe it therefore, and when it speaks of things unseen, we believe it still, and act upon it, and determine our course by it. This it is to walk by faith, not by sight. We can no more see the coming judgement than the captain could see the coming storm. To unbelievers our testimony may seem as foolish or superstitious as the captain's testimony was to the sailors, who were looking at the sky instead of the barometer. They did not wish to believe in a coming storm. Their hearts were set on the gold in London. They must make speed. Why should they take in the sails when there was no appearance of a storm? This it is to walk by sight, not by faith. This is the way of the world. Noah had no more evidence of the coming flood than the rest of the world had. There was no evidence at all, except from the word of God. Noah believed that word, and determined his course by it. The world refused that word, and perished. Noah walked by faith, the world by sight.

It seems that some have taken the text to mean, “We believe by faith, not by sight,” by which they mean we believe blindly, without evidence. Like most errors, this has a grain of truth in it. We do believe in the absence of certain kinds of evidence, but underneath our faith lies a solid foundation, standing squarely upon “that which we have seen and heard.” To walk by faith does not describe the nature of our faith, but of our walk. To walk means to proceed. This term denotes our actions, our manner of life. To walk by faith means to order our lives, to determine our course, by faith. This we do first of all in the grand purpose and end of the course of life which we choose. We choose to forsake Egypt, and suffer reproach with the people of God. We choose to forsake the pleasures of sin, and deny ourselves. We choose to live for heaven and eternity rather than for earth and time. We order our lives in accordance with that choice. This is walking by faith, not by sight. We seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In all the details of our life of faith, we reckon upon the unseen, and determine our course by it. “The recompence of the reward” is always before our eye, and for its sake we choose a pathway directly opposite of those whose whole range of vision is limited to things seen and temporal. This it is to walk by faith, not by sight.


Î Old - Time Revival Scenes Î


“Such a Saintfield fair,” is commonly remarked; “scarcely a man seen drunk----scarcely an oath heard; a man felt himself odd if he went into a public-house.” “You cannot go into Belfast without seeing a change on everybody.” “The whole world is altered.” A man who had drunk nearly all his property, till he is now living in one of his father's huts, meeting the publican at the close of a prayer-meeting, said, “Sam, I saw the time I would rather have been in your house than here; but” (pulling a Bible out of his pocket) “I would now rather have that than all in your house.” He has now been several weeks without tasting a drop, gives every evidence of being a real convert; while “Sam” himself is closing his shop, “and the two other publicans at the same cross-roads will soon close also,” everybody says, “for they can get nothing to do.”

...I have almost as much difficulty in getting people to leave the prayer-meeting or public worship as I used to have in getting them to go to it, and in reminding them that they have bodies, as formerly that they had souls.

Attendance at public worship on the Lord's-day is vastly increased. Nobody now seems to have a bad coat, or hat, to be without shoes, or to be tired on Saturday, &c. &c. ...

Five months have passed since writing the above, and now, without hesitation, I can testify that the results have been even more satisfactory than I then dared to hope they would be. ...

The drunkard referred to, who had then been “several weeks without tasting a drop,” has now been six months without tasting a drop, and continues to give every evidence of being a true convert----respected and loved by all, loving all, and useful in the neighbourhood. I know no mark of a real Christian which he does not possess, nor any of an unconverted man which he does possess.

And the publican alluded to has converted his establishment into a grocery, haberdashery, and bookshop; “The Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven,” and such like, being seen in the window, instead of the allurements to vice which formerly filled it; a weekly prayer-meeting being also held in his house, attended by hundreds, kept up chiefly by means of the reformed drunkard, who often procures a minister to preach; and two open-air meetings having been held at the place during the summer, attended by thousands, and addressed by ministers of various denominations, and in the very field where many a ferocious fight had been.

About two miles further on the road to Belfast, another public-house has been closed. The children of the house “took the revival,” and soon afterwards the traffic ceased.

----Authentic Records of Revival, Now in Progress in the United Kingdom, edited by William Reid. London: James Nisbet and Co., 1860, pp. 38-40 & 40-41.


Isaac Taylor on Hyperspirituality

It may be difficult to determine which is the greater folly and impiety, that of the Atheist, who can contemplate the admirable mechanism of the body, and not see there the proofs of divine wisdom and benevolence; or that of the Enthusiast, who, seeing and acknowledging the hand of God in the mechanism of the human frame, yet dares to institute, and to recommend, modes of life which do violence to the manifest intentions of the Creator, as therein displayed; and, moreover, is not afraid to assert a warrant from Heaven for such outrages; as if the Creator and Governor of the world were not one and the same Being;----one in counsel and purpose: or as if the Author of Christianity were at variance with the Author of nature! Yet this preposterous error, this virtual Manichæism, has seemed to belong naturally to every attempt to stretch and exaggerate the precepts of the Gospel beyond their obvious sense; and indeed has seldom failed to show itself in seasons of unusual religious excitement.

Christianity is a religion neither for angels nor for ghosts; but for man, as God made him. Nevertheless, in revealing an endless existence, and in establishing the paramount claims of the future world, it has placed every interest of the present transient life under a comparison of immense disparity; so that it is true----true to a demonstration, that a man ought to “hate his own life” if the love of it puts his welfare for immortality in jeopardy. Unquestionably, if by such means the well-being of the imperishable spirit could be secured and promoted, it would highly become a wise man to pass the residue of life, though it should hold out half a century, upon the summit of a column, exposed, like a bronze, to the alternations of day and night, of summer and winter; or to stand speechless and fixed, with the arms extended, until the joints should stiffen, and the tongue forget its office; or to inhabit a tomb, or to hang suspended in the air by a hook in the side: these, and if there be any other practices still more horrifying to humanity, were doubtless wise, if, in the use of them, the soul might be advantaged; for the soul is of infinitely greater value than the body.

And much more might it be deemed lawful and commendable to refrain from matrimony, to withdraw from human society, to be clad in sackcloth, to inhabit a cavern, if such comparatively moderate abstinences and mortifications were found to promote virtue, and so to ensure an enhancement of the bliss that never ends. Conduct of this sort, however painful it may be, is perfectly in harmony with the principle universally admitted to be reasonable, and in fact very commonly reduced to practice, namely, to endure a smaller immediate loss or inconvenience, for the sake of securing greater future good.

The dictates of self-interest every day prompt sacrifices of this kind; and the maxims of natural virtue go much further, and often require a man to make the greatest deposit possible, even when the future advantage is doubtful, and when it is not the sufferer who is to reap the expected benefit! On this principle the soldier places himself at the cannon's mouth, because the safety or future welfare of his country can be purchased at no other price. On this principle a pious son denies the wishes of his heart, and remains unmarried, that he may sustain a helpless parent. Christianity is not therefore at all peculiar in asserting the claims of higher, over lower reasons of conduct, in peculiar circumstances, or in demanding that, on special occasions, the enjoyments of life, and life itself, should be held cheap, or abandoned.

Our Lord and his ministers explicitly enjoined such sacrifices, whenever the interests of the present and of the future life came in competition: and themselves set the example of the self-denial which they recommended. Nothing can be more clear than the rule of bodily sacrifice maintained and exemplified in the New Testament; and this rule is in perfect accordance with the dictates of good sense, and with the common practice of mankind. Fasting, celibacy, martyrdom, and such like contrarieties to the “will of the flesh,” stand all on the same ground in the system of Christian morals: they are ills which a wise and pious man will cheerfully endure whenever he is so placed that they cannot be avoided without damage or hazard to the soul, or to the souls of others. But when no such alternative is presented, then the voluntary infliction becomes, as well in religious as in secular affairs, a folly, an impiety, and often a crime. To die without necessity, or to inflict one's self without reason, is not only an absurdity; but a sin.

----Natural History of Enthusiasm, by Isaac Taylor. New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, From the Ninth London Edition, 1849, pp. 201-204.

The Praying of Christ

by Glenn Conjurske

I have remarked before in these pages that it is in the field of faith that hyperspirituality usually has its heyday, and this is true especially concerning its doctrines of prayer. My doctrine of wrestling with God is certain to be slighted or disallowed by the hyperspirituality which slights human endeavor in general. Wrestling with God, it will be said, if legitimate at all, is for those who have but little faith. Those who have entered “the rest of faith” have risen above such things.

Such hyperspirituality was very common in the China Inland Mission, being imbibed from its founder, J. Hudson Taylor. It is no surprise, therefore, to read the following from the pen of J. O. Fraser: “When we once have the deep, calm assurance of His will in the matter, we put in our claim, just as a child before his father. A simple request and nothing more. No cringing, no beseeching, no tears, no wrestling. No second asking either.” And again in the same letter, “In this conflict-prayer, after the definite exercise of faith, there is no need to ask the same thing again and again. It seems to me inconsistent to do so.” And of one of his own petitions, “I have never repeated the request and never will: there is no need.”* This is called resting, the favorite activity of certain privileged folks who have entered “the deeper life.”

But the plain fact is, so far as prayer is concerned, these doctrines stand in direct contradiction to the Bible, and notably to the praying of the Lord Jesus Christ. “No beseeching,” says Fraser, and “no tears.” But of Christ we are told that he “offered up prayers and supplications with STRONG CRYING and TEARS.” (Heb. 5:7). And it was God who said to Hezekiah, “I have heard thy prayer, I have SEEN THY TEARS: behold, I will heal thee.” (II Kings 20:5).

“No second asking,” says Fraser, but of Christ we are told, “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, SAYING THE SAME WORDS.” (Matt. 26:44). What then? Had he failed to “exercise definite faith” the first two times?

We fear there is a great deal of subtle pride in these hyperspiritual doctrines. If they are not the offspring of pride, they are pretty certain to beget it. For our part, we may have to rest content that these folks who have found “the rest of faith” should surpass us in spirituality, but it is something of a trial to find them more spiritual than Christ.

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