The Day of Salvation
by Glenn Conjurske
Truth is one, while error is manifold and multitudinous. While God therefore
must speak one constant and unchanging message, the devil may preach whatever
suits his purpose, and change the message with every change of the weather.
But observe that while error has many faces, moral error is essentially
two. God admonishes us repeatedly not to turn aside either to the right
hand or to the left. The reason that error is essentially two resides
in the fact that God is love and God is light,
which is holiness. Error slights, ignores, or denies one side or the other
of God's essential nature. While the truth maintains both love and holiness,
error usually exalts one side at the expense of the other. So long as
the devil finds his subjects careless and impenitent, he exalts the love
of God at the expense of his holiness, to confirm them in presumption,
but as soon as he sees them concerned and penitent, he flies directly
to the other extreme, and exalts the holiness of God at the expense of
his love, to drive them to despair.
Now to apply these general observations to the subject in hand. While
God preaches one constant message
----Now is the accepted
time ----Now is the day of salvation ----the
devil vacillates between some day and never. According
to the truth of God, the day of salvation is always present, while according
to the lies of the devil it is either future or past. To the careless
and impenitent he preaches, Plenty of time, but directly they
become awakened and convicted, he changes the message to Too late.
So long as men remain careless in their sins, he exalts the love and grace
of God, as though it were inexhaustible, but directly they become concerned,
he exalts the holiness of God, as though it were inexorable. To the careless
it is Plenty of time, as though God were so loving and merciful
that men may sin with impunity, that God will be mocked, and that whatsoever
a man soweth, that shall he not reap. But to the penitent it is Too
late, as though the holiness of God were too relentless to forgive
And all this while God preaches one constant message: Now is the
day of salvation
----a message which most beautifully maintains
both the love and the holiness of God. On the one side, Now, for the Spirit
will not always strive ----Now, for the day of grace will end ----Now,
for death and judgement are coming ----Now, for the door of mercy
will be shut. And on the other side, Now, for the Lord may yet be found ----Now,
for all things are now ready ----Now, for the Father's
arms are yet open wide.
Now observe that this message is the truth, and faith believes the truth.
The evil heart of unbelief, however, will believe anything but the truth.
It will never believe God's now, but believes the devil when
he preaches some day, and believes him again when he preaches
----believes him when he preaches Plenty
of time, and believes him when he preaches Too late.
D. L. Moody relates a most solemn example of this. I give it with slight
abridgement from one of his sermons:
I remember a few years ago in one of our meetings in Chicago the Spirit
of God was at work. There were some inquiring the way of life, and there
was a man in the assembly I had been anxious for for a great many months,
and when I asked all those who would like to become Christians to rise,
this man rose. My heart leaped in me for joy, and when the meeting was
over I went to him, took him by the hand and said to him, well,
now you are coming out for Christ, ain't you? Well,
said he, Mr. Moody, I want to be a Christian, but there is one
thing that stands in my way. What is that? Well,
says he, I have not the moral courage
---and I believe
in my soul to-night that is the thing that is keeping men from coming
to Christ more than any other one thing. They lack the moral courage
to come out from their scoffing, sneering friends. Well,
I said, if heaven is what it is represented to be, it is surely
worth your coming out and confessing Christ, and being laughed at for
a little while down here. He dropped his head and said, I
know it, I believe it, but ----naming a certain friend of
his ----if he had been here to-night I should not have risen,
I looked around to see if he was here, and when I found he was not I
rose for prayers. I am afraid if I meet him, and he finds out I have
risen, he will laugh at me, and I will not have the courage to stand
up for what is right; and I know I can not be a Christian unless I deny
myself, and take up my cross and come out. I said, you are
quite right. The poor man was trembling from head to foot. I thought
surely he would come out on the Lord's side. Like Agrippa, he was almost
persuaded. I thought surely that night he would settle the question,
perhaps in his own home, and the next night I would find him rejoicing
in the Savior. But he came back the next night, and I found he was in
the same state of mind. The Spirit was still striving with him. He was
almost persuaded, but not altogether. The next night he came again,
and I found him in the same state of mind. And the only thing that man
gave as an excuse for not becoming a Christian, was that he had not
the moral courage.
John Bunyan describes one coming up to the gate of heaven
there was a side way down to the gate of the pit, and many of them took
that side way. It seems this man came to the gate of heaven and one
step more would have taken him across the line. But this man-fearing
spirit kept him from taking that step. Almost, yet not altogether. Well,
weeks rolled away and the impression seemed to pass away. You know that
is the thing they bring against these special meetings. They say it
hardens some people. That is quite right. The gospel proves a savor
of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death. ... They not only
refuse it but they despise the God of salvation. Well, the hardening
process went on with this man. He used to come to church every Sunday
morning, but now he dropped off and did not come at all. He would be
at work Sunday, and if I met him coming down the street he would slip
off down some other way, ashamed to meet me, afraid I would talk with
him. At last he was taken sick and sent for me. I went to see him and
he said to me, Is there any hope for a man to be saved at the
eleventh hour? I told him there was hope for any man who really
wanted to become a Christian. I preached Christ to him ----explained
to him the way of life ----told him how he could be saved. I went
down to see him day after day. Contrary to all expectations the man
began to recover. When he got up from that sick bed, I went down one
day and found him convalescent, sitting in front of his house. I took
my seat beside him and said, Well, now you will be well enough
to come up to church in a few days, and when you are well enough you
are coming out to confess Christ and take your stand for Christ.
Well, says he, I have made up my mind to become a
Christian, but I am not going to become one just now. Next spring I
am going over Lake Michigan and I am going to buy me a farm and settle
down, and then I am going to become a Christian; but there is no use
of my talking of becoming a Christian here in Chicago. I can't do it.
I have so many bad associates I can't live a Christian life in Chicago.
Well, I said, my friend, if God hasn't got grace enough
to keep you in Chicago, He hasn't got enough to keep you in Michigan.
What you want is not a change of associates, but a new heart, and the
grace of God to keep you. He is able to keep you. I plead with
him not to postpone this great question any longer. I tried to arouse
him up. At last he got a little worried and a little cross at me, and
says, Mr. Moody, you can just attend to your own business, and
I will attend to mine. I don't want you to trouble yourself any more
about my soul. I will attend to that. I said, you can't
afford to put this thing off. Well, he says, if
I am lost it will not be your fault. You have done every thing you can.
I don't want you to trouble yourself any more. ...
This man said, I will take the risk. I was telling him he
could not afford to take the risk, he said, I will take it.
I would like to ask if there is a man in this house to-night that will
take the risk of his soul's salvation for twenty-four hours. Dare you
say, I will take it? It was a number of months he was going
to take it. When he got over to Michigan on his farm and got settled
down, he was going to become a Christian. I tried to arouse him; he
got angry and I left him. If ever I left a man with a sad heart it was
when I left that man. I remember the day of the week. It was Friday.
It was about noon that I left him. Just a week from that day I got a
message from his wife. She wanted to have me come in great haste. I
went to the house and I met her at the door weeping. I said, What
is the trouble? My husband has been taken down with the
same disease. We have just had a council of physicians and they have
all given him up to die.
I said, Does he want to see me, knowing how angry he was
only the week before. She said, No. I asked him if I should not
send for you, and he said no, he did not want to see you. Well,
why did you send? Well, I can't bear to see him die in this
terrible state of mind. What is his state of mind?
He says his damnation is sealed, and that he will be in hell in
a little while. I went into the room where he was, and the moment
he heard the door open he looked and saw who it was, and he turned his
face to the wall. I went to the bed and spoke to him, and he did not
answer. I said, Won't you speak to me? I went around to
the foot of the bed where I could look at him, and said again, Won't
you speak to me? He turned and looked at me
a look it was! He said, You need not talk to me any more, sir.
My damnation is sealed. There is no hope for me. I tried to tell
him there was, but he ridiculed the idea that there was any hope for
him. Memory had begun to do its work. His whole life came up before
him, and he said, I have done nothing but sin against God all
my life; and a week ago when you were here and I thought I was going
to get well, I turned away from God. He came knocking at the door of
my heart. I told him, if He would spare my life, I would let Him in.
And He took me at my word. But the moment I got up I turned my back
upon Him. There is no hope for me. You need not talk to me. You need
not pray for me. You cannot save me, sir. There is no hope for me. I
have got to die in my sins. There is no chance for my soul. I
tried to tell him there was. He pointed his finger at the stove and
said, My heart is as hard as the iron in that stove. There is
no hope for me. I went to get down on my knees, and when he saw
me kneel he said, Mr. Moody, you need not pray for me. You can
pray for my wife and children. They need your prayers and sympathies.
You need not spend your time praying for me. There is no hope for me.
I tried to pray for him, but it seemed as if my prayers did not go higher
than my head. I got up and took his hand, and it seemed as if I was
bidding farewell to a friend that I never would see again in time or
eternity. The cold, clammy sweat of night was gathering on that hand.
I bade him a final farewell. I left his house about noon. He lingered
until the sun went down behind those western prairies, and his wife
told me that from the time I left him until he died, all she heard was,
The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.
You could hear his cries all over the house. Just as the sun was going
down, he was sinking away into the arms of death, and his wife noticed
his lips quivering. He was trying to say something. She bent over and
all she could hear was that awful lamentation of the prophet, The
harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved, and
he passed away.
The reader will observe that in one week this man's belief was altered
from plenty of time to too late. One Friday it
was next spring, and the next Friday, never. One
week he believed God so lenient as to allow him to deliberately continue
in sin for months to come, and the next week he believed him so relentless
as to refuse to forgive him at all. One week ago he believed the day of
salvation to be some months in the future, and now it was past.
This was unbelief, on both sides. It was unbelief in God's unchanging
now, but it was faith in the devil's plenty of time,
and faith again in the devil's too late. All unbelief is essentially
faith in the devil. It takes his word over God's. It believes him when
he preaches the love of God at the expense of his holiness, and believes
him again when he preaches the holiness of God at the expense of his love.
And as it was with this man, so it has also been with a great many others.
I have in my library, as noted in my card file box, numerous accounts
similar to the one just related. One of them I have given at length in
the October issue of this magazine. The frequency with which such situations
have occurred has led many to make a doctrine of them
which affirms that all of these lost souls were exactly right in their
belief ----that is, exactly right in their unbelief. Suffice it
to say, I very much doubt the truth of this doctrine. Yet it seems that
that doctrine is very widely held. It is expressed in the lines of a popular
hymn, There's a line that is crossed by rejecting the Lord, Where
the call of his mercy is lost. It is expressed in sermons on Crossing
the Deadline, which appear in evangelistic papers. That doctrine
is bolstered by the unwavering confidence with which these lost souls
have spoken of the certainty of their doom. It is bolstered by the inability
of men of God to pray or preach effectually on such occasions ----by
the statement, for example, of D. L. Moody, that it seemed that his prayers
went no higher than his head. It is bolstered by the explicit statements
of certain of these lost souls that they knew the exact time when the
Spirit ceased to strive with them, and the statements of others that they
had turned away from the Lord with the certain knowledge that they were
turning from their last offer of mercy. It is further bolstered by the
apparent indifference of those souls with whom the Spirit has supposedly
ceased to strive. It is assumed that the impressions or convictions or
beliefs of all of these lost souls are exactly correct, while the Bible's
Now is the day of salvation is set aside. It is assumed that
the Too late which comes from the lips of these unbelievers
is no lie of the devil at all, but in fact the very truth of God. All
of this I take the liberty to doubt.
I confess that many of these accounts make a deep and profound impression
on the mind. It could hardly be otherwise. And yet for all that, I doubt
the doctrine which has been made of them. I aim here to subject that doctrine
to some close scrutiny, and to that end I will give a number of these
accounts in full, that the reader may feel the full weight of the evidence
on that side.
In the noon prayer meeting in New York City,
A young sailor arose. . . . I remember, said he, when
in Panama, one of my brother sailors was taken very sick. I had previously,
on many occasions, urged him to take Jesus as his guide, counsellor,
and friend. But his answer had ever been, 'Time enough yet.' That fearful
putting off, that delivering himself up to the power of Satan, who was
constantly whispering in his ear, 'Time enough yet,' reached its fearful
crisis at last. As he lay sick upon his mattress, his writhings and
contortions denoted the fever and pain that were within. But the fever
of his soul was causing much more anguish than all his bodily ailments.
I said to him, 'You need a Saviour now.Oh,' said he, 'I
have put off seeking Jesus too long.' I earnestly begged him to look
at the cross of Christ, and there learn what Jesus had done and suffered,
that a poor sinner like him might not perish, but have everlasting life.
But he replied, with choking sobs, 'Too late, too late!Oh!' he
cried, 'no rest for me. I am going to some place, I know not where.
Oh! I know not where!' His head fell back upon the pillow. I cried,
'Ned! are you dying?' But all I heard was, through the gurgling in his
throat, 'No rest;' and my dying shipmate was gone.
Observe that there was none of the calmness in this young man which some
others have exhibited under the same circumstances, nor any claims that
the Spirit had ceased to strive with him
----and it would seem that
his evident fears would have belied any such claim. Observe further that
a simple change of circumstances ----from health to sickness ----took
him immediately from Plenty of time to Too late.
This, I contend, was unbelief in both cases ----unbelief in God's
unchanging now, and belief in the devil's lies.
Peter Cartwright relates the following:
I will name another incident connected with this revival. There was
an interesting young man, well educated, and gentlemanly in all his
conduct, from some of the Eastern states. He boarded at a house I frequently
visited. He was serious: I talked to him, and he frankly admitted the
real necessity of religion, and said, for his right hand he would not
lay a straw in the way of any person to prevent him from getting religion;
but he said he was not ready to start in this glorious cause, but that
he fully intended at some future time to seek religion. I urged him
to submit now; that in all probability he never would live to see so
good a time to get religion as the present. He admitted all I said,
and wept like a child; but I could not prevail on him to start now in
this heavenly race.
As our meeting was drawing to a close, I was uncommonly anxious to see
this young man converted, but I was not permitted to see it. Some little
time before we closed the meeting, a messenger arrived for me to go
to another town where the work of religion had broken out, and they
greatly needed ministerial aid. The day after I left this young man
he was taken violently ill. His disease was rapid, all medical aid failed,
and he was shortly given over by his physicians to die. He sent post-haste
for me to come to him. I hastened to him, but never to the last moment
of my recollection shall I ever forget the bitter lamentations of this
young man. O! said he, if I had taken your advice
a few days ago, which you gave me in tears, and which, in spite of all
my resistance, drew tears from my eyes, I should have now been ready
to die. God's Spirit strove with me powerfully, but I was stubborn,
and resisted it. If I had yielded then, I believe God would have saved
me from my sins; but now, racked with pain almost insupportable, and
scorched with burning fevers, and on the very verge of an eternal world,
I have no hope in the future; all is dark, dark, and gloomy. Through
light and mercy I have evaded and resisted God, his Spirit, and his
ministers, and now I must make my bed in hell, and bid an eternal farewell
to all the means of grace, and all hope of heaven; lost! lost! forever
In this condition he breathed his last.
Observe again that in a few days time this young man went from some
future time to no hope in the future. In a few days'
time he went from presuming upon the mercy of God to despairing of it.
What was this, if not unbelief on both sides? But understand, as in the
preceding case, the change from health to sickness had no doubt awakened
the conscience, and he who but a few days before had viewed the holiness
of God without concern, while the devil slighted that holiness and preached
the love of God to him, now viewed that same holiness with great alarm.
The devil no doubt took full advantage of the change, and now preached
relentlessly that same holiness which he had slighted before. The unbelieving
heart hearkened to the devil's lies in both instances. I believe this
is the full and true explanation of such cases.
R. A. Torrey relates the following:
Oftentimes when I lived in Chicago, when I had a night off, I would
run out to some neighbouring city to help the ministers in nearby towns
in Illinois, or even over the line into Indiana or Wisconsin. One night
I went over the line into the city of Hammond, Indiana. I was preaching
that night in the Methodist church. When I gave out the invitation,
among those who rose to come to the front was a young woman. She rose
from her seat and started to come to the altar, but the young man who
sat beside her, to whom she was engaged, touched her arm and said, Don't
go tonight, dear. If you will wait a few days, I may go with you.
For fear of offending this man whom she loved, she went back and sat
down. The next week I was in Hammond again, speaking at the Opera House.
At the close of the meeting two young women hurried up and said, Oh,
Mr. Torrey, come just as soon as you can get away. There was a young
lady who started to come to the front the other night, but the young
man to whom she is engaged asked her to wait. She went back and sat
down and now she has erysipelas. It has gone to her brain, and they
think she is dying. She will probably not live until morning. Come and
speak to her, just as soon as you can get away. As soon as the
after-meeting was over I hurried away from the Opera House and went
to the home and up the stairs and into the room where the poor girl
lay a-dying. Her face was all painted black with iodine and she was
hardly recognizable as the same person, but she was perfectly conscious.
I said to her, Didn't you start to accept Christ when I was down
here last week? Yes. Will you accept Jesus Christ
now? No, she replied. I started for the front
when you were down here a week ago. I was apparently well and strong
then. But I went back and sat down. I can not accept Christ now.
I said to her, They tell me that you are dying, that you will
probably not live through the night. Yes, she said,
I know I am dying, but I can not take Christ now. I plead
with her, I besought her, I told her about the dying thief who was saved
in the last hour as he hung upon the cross, I told her about those who
went into the vineyard at the eleventh hour and were accepted. I told
her what Jesus said, Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast
out (John 6:37); but it was all to no avail. She only replied,
No, it is too late. I can not accept Christ now.
In this account we see all the same elements as in the preceding two.
One week she supposed it safe to wait a while longer, and the next week
it was too late. The bed of sickness changed all, no doubt by quickening
an accusing conscience, so that she who a week ago would presume upon
the mercy of God must now despair of it. Yet both last week and this week
God's message was Now is the day of salvation. Her belief
that it was too late did not make it so. Such belief is just unbelief.
The following account comes from the old Methodist itinerant, Maxwell
I was once called to the dying bed of a young lady about midnight.
I found her dying in despair. I joined, with others, in prayer, but
all hope of eternal life had left her dark, benighted soul! She stated
to me that a few months before she had attended a Methodist camp meeting,
and felt the Holy Spirit striving with her. She went forward for prayers,
and found peace in believing. Soon after her return home she was invited
to a dancing-party. At first she resolved to stay at home, but finally
she concluded to go. On her way to the dance the Spirit strove powerfully
with her heart again, and deeply impressed her mind that it was for
the last time, if she engaged in the sinful pleasures of
the evening. But, alas! the solemn warning was disregarded. In the
house of mirth she forgot God, her Maker, and lightly esteemed
the monitions of the Holy Ghost. On her return home she was sensibly
impressed that she had by her conduct grieved the Holy Spirit from her
youthful heart. It never strove with her again! Before the light of
the next morning she died in utter despair of the mercy of her God,
telling all of her friends with her last breath that she had lost her
soul for one night of sinful pleasure!"
Here is a very plain case. Her mind was impressed by the
Holy Ghost that this was her last call. She resisted the call, and was
sensibly impressed that she had grieved away the Holy Spirit.
But who will prove that those impressions were from God? Shall these impressions
be set above the plain word of God? God's word yet remained, Now
is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation. It was, most
surely, an awful thing to run headlong into sin in the face of the impression
that this was her last call
----and equally so whether that impression
came from God or the devil. The fact is, she supposed it her last call,
and sinned in spite of that belief. This was truly an awful sin ----yet
no proof that her impression came from God. Did not the word of God yet
say, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men?
The same may be said of her further sensible impression, that
she had grieved away the Holy Ghost. Did that impression come from God?
Such an impression is the reverse of the ways of God. Where does God ever
convict men for the purpose of driving them to despair? This, I verily
believe, is exactly in line with the devil's operations, but God convicts
men to move them to repentance, not to despair. She had an impression
that the Spirit had ceased to strive with her, and that impression was
used to set aside the plain word of God.
The awful case which we quoted in last month's magazine is perhaps more
convincing still. This man was certain of his damnation, and apparently
unconcerned about it. If ever we could grant that the Spirit of God had
ceased to strive with a man, surely this is the case. I know,
said he, the very time when the Spirit of God took its flight.
But here I take leave to doubt the fact. How did he know this?
He doubtless knew the very time when he had sinned grievously
against the broad light of heaven, and doubtless his outraged conscience
berated him sharply for it, but was it right to conclude from this that
there was no more hope? Did his grievous backsliding make null and void
that word of Holy Scripture which says, All manner of sin and blasphemy
shall be forgiven unto men? We realize that that scripture makes
one solemn exception, of speaking against the Holy Ghost, but this was
not so much as pretended in his case. Suppose the Spirit of God had taken
its flight from him. Suppose his convictions and his feelings did
then cease. Suppose he knew this, and knew the very hour of it. Does that
prove that it must be permanent and irrevocable? Does that render void
the precious word of Scripture, Him that cometh to me, I will in
no wise cast out? Would God refuse him mercy if he came humbly pleading
for it, on God's terms? True, he had no desire to come, but if that proves
anything at all, it does not prove that the door of mercy was shut against
him, but only that his own unbelieving and impenitent heart was so hardened
that it was impossible to renew him again unto repentance.
Others in the same state of mind, whose cases we have related above, certainly
did desire to come to Christ and to salvation, but were certain that God
would no longer receive them. It is plain enough to me that this certainty
was neither more nor less than unbelief, and I am very loth to learn my
doctrine of the ways of God from the unbelief of sinners. Indeed, I must
not conceal my strong suspicions that there is a great deal of pride in
the certainty which some folks have that God has given them up, and the
Spirit of God ceased to strive with them. And not only pride, but also
a certain satisfaction gained in laying the responsibility for their present
impenitence upon God, rather than taking it home to themselves. It is
not their misfortune, but their wickedness, and is in fact a reckless
expression of the enmity of their hearts against God. I am very reluctant
to make a doctrine of this.
And observe, the real basis of this doctrine of crossing the deadline
seems to be in the experience of sinners, rather than in the statements
of Scripture. I am not one to despise experience, even in the formulation
of doctrine. I believe, and most firmly, that the Scriptures cannot be
understood at all apart from experience, and any interpretation of Scripture
which disregards or contradicts human experience is certainly false. But
then I believe that the truth is to be found where Scripture and experience
coincide, and certainly not in experience against Scripture. What Scripture
can be brought to prove that the Spirit ceases to strive with men while
yet they live
----what Scripture to prove that the door of mercy
is shut against those who would enter, were it not too late?
I am of course aware that the Lord has said, My Spirit shall not
always strive with man, but this seems little to the purpose. This
was said in anticipation of the flood. My Spirit shall not always
strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred
and twenty years. (Gen. 6:3). This has nothing to do with the Spirit
ceasing to strive with individual sinners, but with the whole race, and
all at the same time. Neither does it speak of the Spirit ceasing to strive
with men while they lived on, but rather when the judgement was poured
out which "destroyed them all." This scripture would seem to
be against this doctrine, then, rather than for it. The Scripture also
affirms, He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall
suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. (Prov. 29:1). This
is very solemn, yet it does not appear here that the Spirit of God ceases
to strive with them while yet they live, but just the reverse. When they
have worn out the patience of God, and their day of mercy has ended, they
are destroyed, precisely as they were when the Spirit ceased to strive
with men at the flood.
But I am also aware that the Bible says that God gave up men
to their own lusts, and to a reprobate mind, and that of course before
the day of judgement, while they lived on. This would seem to be more
to the purpose. Yet I do not believe that this refers to particular individuals,
singled out from the rest of men, but to all the Gentiles, concerning
whom Paul yet says, Who in times past suffered all nations to walk
in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness,
in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons,
filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:16-17). Even
if it be said that the Lord's giving up of the people to a reprobate mind,
and suffering them to walk in their own ways, implies his Spirit ceasing
to strive with them, yet it is plain enough that he had not in any sense
finally or irrevocably rejected them, for he left himself with a witness
all the while, and to what end? Surely, That they should seek the
Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, as Paul
says elsewhere. (Acts 17:27).
Some may wish to cite the case of Pharaoh
----a very solemn case,
to be sure ----but wherein does it appear that God had ceased to
strive with him? Is not the whole account one long history of God's striving
with Pharaoh? That striving even produced some occasional amendment of
purpose in Pharaoh, though it was feeble and short-lived. Ah, but God
had said beforehand that he would harden Pharaoh's heart. Yes, for God
knew Pharaoh, and knew well enough that the effect of his striving would
be to harden Pharaoh's heart, but that God exerted any direct and secret
influence upon Pharaoh's heart in order to harden it is what I absolutely
deny, and what no man can prove from Scripture, though their theology
may assume it.
Though many arguments are brought from Scripture in support of the doctrine
of crossing the deadline, it really seems that none of them
are much to the purpose. It must be understood that unbelief is very pious.
It will generally plead Scripture for its position, or plead some truth
in support of error. So in the awful account published in our October
number, the impenitent and unbelieving backslider says, Do you think
to force God? Do you think to force the gates of heaven that are barred
by Justice against me? Pious as this may sound, it is simply unbelief.
The faith of the gospel is not a faith in the justice of God, but in his
------not a belief in his mercy to the exclusion of his justice,
but a belief in his mercy in spite of his justice, and because his justice
has been satisfied. The man in this account was guilty of no sin for which
hundreds of others had not been forgiven. The Bible says, All manner
of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven, and When I see the
blood, I will pass over you, but unbelieving hearts refuse this,
and persist in their belief that justice must exclude them.
What proof had this man that the gates of heaven were barred against him,
in contradiction of a hundred plain scriptures? While he was in health
he could calmly plead his complete indifference as the proof that the
Spirit of God had ceased to strive with him. In health he could say, I
know the very time when the Spirit of God took its flight, and what you
may be more surprised at than all I have yet said, is, I am not troubled
about it, no, no more than if there was no God to punish sin, nor a hell
to punish sinners in. But all of this evaporated upon his death
bed. Then his conscience roared like thunder against him.
Then The distress of his mind seemed to swallow up that of his body.
Then there was horror depicted in every feature of his face.
Then his eyes were flashing terror all around him. All of
this is proof enough that his former indifference was no proof at all
that the Spirit of God had ceased to strive with him.
And after all, what had this man done that thousands now saved had not
done also? It does not appear that any of those who have been certain
of their own damnation have been guilty of anything for which many others
have not been forgiven. The man whose case Moody relates was guilty of
delaying his repentance
----intending indeed to repent next
spring, but not now, and not in Chicago. How many thousands have
lived many years of their lives with just such determinations to delay,
and yet been converted? This man doubtless, at a certain crisis, deliberately
put off the drawings of the Spirit of God, but so have many thousands,
who were yet afterwards saved. R. A. Torrey, when a young man, chose not
only to delay his repentance, but deliberately determined not to repent
at all. He feared that if he became a Christian, God would require him
to preach. He was determined not to preach, but to be a lawyer, and therefore
deliberately chose not to be a Christian at all. Surely this was doing
the works of Esau ----surely a more heinous thing than determining
to be a Christian next spring. Yet Torrey afterwards submitted to God
on that point, and was converted.
Some will contend, however, that while such a man as Torrey, who had never
made any profession of religion, might indeed be saved, backsliders may
not be. This they prove by Hebrews 6:4-6, It is impossible...to
renew them again unto repentance. This is a very solemn warning
against apostasy, and I am certainly unwilling to speak one word to detract
from its solemnity. Nevertheless, it appears that whatever impossibility
there may be of renewing apostates to repentance lies in themselves, not
in God. It is, seeing they crucify the Son of God afresh,
not seeing that the Spirit of God will no longer strive with them.
It is the determination of their hearts against God, not the determination
of God against them. And whatever the application of this scripture may
be, it remains a fact that thousands of backsliders have been reclaimed,
including many who once believed that there was no hope for them.
Richard Weaver was a godless man, and a noted prize-fighter. He was converted,
and served God most faithfully and happily for some time. At length three
men began to abuse his bride-to-be. She appealed to Richard for protection.
Says he, I could no longer refrain. I off with my coat and hat,
and let fly right and left. Thus I, who had been praying only a few minutes
before, was betrayed into behaving like a madman. I had two of them on
the ground, and had hold of the ringleader by the hair of the head, and
was striking him in such rage that I believe I would have killed him had
not some one stayed my hand. This he regarded as a fall from
grace, and his hope of salvation was lost. He returned to his old
life of sin, drinking, fighting, and associating with the worst of characters.
Visions of hell-fire and cries of Too late tormented him even
in his dreams. Yet this man was converted, and became one of the great
evangelists of the nineteenth century.
John Newton, the author
----as well he might be ----of Amazing
Grace, spent most of his youth and early manhood opposing and blaspheming
God in the most deliberate and profane manner, in spite of the fact that
he was often disturbed with religious convictions, and in
spite of the fact that he had once been given to praying and reading the
Scriptures, and regarded himself as quite religious. ...my whole
life, he says, when awake, was a course of most horrid impiety
and profaneness. I know not that I have ever since met so daring a blasphemer.
Not content with common oaths and imprecations, I daily invented new ones.
Paul was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,
and says, but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
(I Tim. 1:13). Paul says, I verily thought with myself, that I ought
to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts
26:9). Of this Newton writes, ...but if much forgiveness is the
distinction, I might venture to dispute precedence with Paul himself.
I am the man who did many things against Jesus of Nazareth; not because
I thought I ought, but because I was resolved I would. The
admonitions of conscience, which from successive repulses had grown weaker
and weaker, at length entirely ceased; and, for the space of many months,
if not for some years, he had not a single check of that sort. At times
he was visited with sickness, and believed himself to be near death, but
had not the least concern about the consequences. 'In a word,' says he,
'I seemed to have every mark of final impenitence and rejection: neither
judgments nor mercies made the least impression on me.' Yet we all
know that this man was converted.
Jerry McAuley was converted from a life of crime while in prison. His
prison cell, he affirms, became a very heaven, while he walked with his
God. When released from prison he immediately sought a prayer meeting.
He went up to the door, but was afraid to go in, having never been in
a Protestant meeting in his life. He was afterwards betrayed into drinking
beer, and fell eventually into all of his old life of sin and crime as
a river-thief. Yet he was converted, and became one of the most loved
men of God in America. Sam Hadley was also converted after fifteen years
of backsliding. Thousands of backsliders have been reclaimed, and thousands
of the most daring sinners converted. Thousands who have long and deliberately
resisted the strivings of the Spirit of God have been at length softened
and turned. Charles G. Finney even relates the case of a young man, bent
upon a course of wickedness, who deliberately blasphemed the Holy Ghost,
thinking thereby to stifle his own convictions, and move the Spirit of
God to depart from him, and leave him to hardness of heart. He found,
however, that the experiment did not work. His convictions remained, and
he was subsequently converted. This case is very solemn, and I do not
pretend to be able to explain it, but merely present the matter as Finney
All these were saved by faith, in spite of sins as grievous as any committed
by those impenitent and unbelieving souls who were certain of their own
damnation. If this certainty was in fact a belief of the truth, then these
souls were lost by faith.
It will doubtless be said that to overturn this doctrine of crossing
the deadline will encourage presumption and procrastination, but
if so it cannot be helped. Any and all preaching of grace and mercy may
be abused by sinners to excuse their procrastination, but there is no
reason in it. Though the door of mercy may remain wide open to all that
breathe, it is madness for any lost sinner to so presume upon the mercy
of God as to suppose that he will yet breathe tomorrow. He may go to sleep
tonight, and wake up in hell, and of what use will it be to him that the
door of mercy is yet open? It will no longer be open to him when death
has swept him away, and that may happen at any time. Those many accounts
of sinners who have died in despair, believing it too late for them to
find mercy, are no less solemn if we suppose them mistaken in their belief.
Those awful accounts yet remain solemn proofs of the hardening effects
of sin, of the power and cunning of the devil, of the deceitfulness of
unbelief, and of the awful danger of trifling with the mercy of God, even
though they do not prove that there is no hope. If the devil can but convince
a man that there is no hope for him, he has gained his end as surely as
if there were no hope in fact. Those who delay to repent not only tempt
God, but tempt the devil also, and those who think to match wits with
him may find themselves bettered.
To conclude: though I dare not say that there is never an instance of
a man irrevocably given up by God to impenitence and damnation while he
yet lives and breathes, yet I very much doubt that most of those who have
professed or believed themselves so have actually been so. Their belief
has been neither more nor less than unbelief. They have been deceived
by the devil, and believed his lies, in direct contradiction to a hundred
direct statements and promises of God. Where does God ever speak to drive
men to despair? His most solemn pronouncements of judgement are designed
to move men to repentance, not to despair, as plainly appears in Jonah's
preaching to Nineveh, and many other places. If those sinners who believed
themselves given up by God had but put aside their pride and unbelief,
and cried to God for mercy, they would doubtless have found it as surely
as did the men of Nineveh.
I write to arm the saints of God with those weapons which they may need
to overcome the lies of the devil, and the unbelief of the impenitent
so to deliver precious souls from the devil's last stronghold, the dark
dungeon of despair.
Some Common-Sense Arguments for the
Musical Instruments in the Worship of God
by Glenn Conjurske
There are numbers of Christians of various denominations who contend
strongly against the use of musical instruments in the worship of God,
or at any rate in the public worship of God. Numerous arguments are advanced
in favor of this restriction, and long debates have been held upon it,
especially among the various factions of the Church of Christ. The fact
that such instruments were used in the Old Testament we are told is irrelevant.
The Old Testament is not the New Testament. Those who insist upon this
have apparently failed to notice that musical instruments are also used
in heaven, in Revelation 5:8. I suppose they shall tell us that heaven
is not earth, and things may be allowed there which are not allowed here.
This may be true, and such an argument may sometimes be legitimate, but
the presence of harps in heaven proves at any rate that they are not intrinsically
wrong, and it may after all be a small error, if error it be, to use on
earth that which is used in heaven.
Some contend that no musical instrument can ever equal the beauty of the
human voice, but this, if true, is certainly irrelevant. There may be
other reasons for using a musical instrument than the mere beauty of it.
A piano will help to keep the people together, and to keep them on tune.
More important, it will set the proper pitch. I have tried upon occasion
to sing along with certain congregations, who apparently go on year after
year straining to come up to the high notes, or down to the low notes,
in hymns which are improperly pitched. The use of a piano would render
their singing a little easier. Some congregations wisely avoid this difficulty
by using a pitch pipe, which apparently is neither musical nor an instrument.
A good song leader, however, may learn to pitch the tunes properly, so
that my argument here will be rendered void
----unless some folks
would like to enjoy good singing where no good song leader is to be had.
But on. It seems there is another and deeper inconsistency in those who
refuse to use musical instruments. Though they will not use a musical
instrument in their singing, yet they continually sing that music which
was composed and written with the use of a musical instrument. This is
a practical necessity, if they are to sing the old hymns of the church,
for it is a certain fact that most of the hymns which have ever been written
have been either composed or committed to writing with the aid of a musical
instrument. Though many may be capable of composing a tune without the
use of an instrument, yet not one in ten thousand of them could either
arrange that tune with its parts and chords, or commit the whole to paper,
without using an instrument. And it should be understood here that it
is not the mere melody
----not the mere tune, that is ----which
makes music beautiful, but the combination of melody and harmony, and
in some cases even the change of chords. All of this has in most cases
been composed and committed to writing with the aid of a musical instrument.
There may be here and there an accomplished musican who could do it without
one, but certainly not most, and those who can do so doubtless owe that
ability to their familiarity with musical instruments. I am certain that
whatever ability I may have in that direction ----which is not much ----I
owe entirely to my familiarity with the piano. It is altogether certain
that most of the hymn music which is in use in the church today has been
produced and written with the use of a piano or organ. With what consistency,
then, can we sing such music, while we declaim against the use of those
instruments, without the use of which that music would not exist?
Such a course might be likened to a man who goes to a saw mill and buys
his lumber, and then sets to work to build his house, all the while declaiming
against the use of power saws in building. His hand saw is quite sufficient,
and he has no need of a power saw. Thus he raises his house, with lumber
produced with a power saw. And so men will declaim against musical instruments,
and sing acapella those songs which were produced by the use of a musical
instrument. Consistency, thou art a gem!
But there is a further inconsistency in those who refuse to use musical
instruments in the church. Except for certain musical geniuses, all of
us must learn the music we sing with the help of a musical instrument.
Not one in ten thousand of us can look at the printed music of a song
we have never heard, and sing it from the printed page, without hearing
it played on an instrument. The hymn book which I use myself, and which
I compiled a number of years ago, contains more than threescore hymns,
including some of the best hymns I know, which I had never heard until
I found them in old books
----hymns which are entirely unknown in
the church today, and can be learned only from the printed copies which
survive in old hymn books. Every one of these I learned by hearing it
played on the piano. This is the only way most of us can learn such hymns.
Not only so, but for every good hymn which I have thus learned, I have
listened to perhaps forty or fifty, which I found I must reject because
they were mediocre and inferior. I must hear the music of every one of
these played on the piano, in order even to be able to discern whether
the music were good or poor. This is a simple necessity. I could not do
this work at all without a musical instrument.
Now if the hymns must be both written and learned by means of a musical
instrument, what harm can there be in singing them with the help of such
This appears to me to put the matter upon the solid ground of common sense.
Allow me, however, to anticipate an answer to my argument. It may be said
that when Solomon built the temple, the tools of man were allowed in the
hewing of the stones and timbers, but not in the erection of the house.
And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made
ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer
nor ax nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building.
(I Kings 6:7). From this we might conclude that it is acceptable to use
such human inventions as pianos and organs to produce the music, before
it is brought to the sanctuary, but not in its use in the temple itself.
To this I answer simply, Those tunes and arrangements themselves, not
to mention the very words of the hymns, are as much the invention of man
as the musical instruments are. God has given us no inspired music, and
the inspired words which he has given are in general unsuitable for singing,
and were never intended to be sung. If we are to sing hymns at all, we
must sing something which is the invention of man, and what sin can there
be therefore in singing it to the accompaniment of a man-made instrument?
I plead only for consistency and common sense.
But understand, I do not plead for guitars, much less cymbals and drums.
Guitars, the way they are commonly played, are of no use for learning
hymns, and drums are of none. I am a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, and
all such modern innovations, brought into the church from the world
generally by the Neo-evangelicals and Charismatics ----I stand solidly
against. The piano has long been the instrument of Fundamentalism, and
it is well suited to congregational singing, in a way that a guitar never
was or will be.
And understand one other thing. I believe we ought always to deal gently
with other people's prejudices. I will no more force a piano upon a congregation
which is prejudiced against it, than I will allow any Neo-evangelicals
to force a guitar upon me. Our congregational singing ought by all means
to be a pleasant experience, in which we may comfortably take part. It
ceases to be that when we walk upon people's feelings in order to have
our own way in it. I will endeavor to convince the straitest traditionalists
that there is no sin in a musical instrument, but I will not walk upon
their feelings. If they choose to come where I bear rule, they shall sing
with a piano, but if I go where they bear rule, I will sing without one.
I once visited a Church of Christ in Oberlin, Kansas. It was a Wednesday
evening, and there were perhaps seventy-five people present. They had
no prayer meeting, but a singing meeting. They sang acapella, and it was
most beautiful and enjoyable. That music yet rings in my soul every time
I think of that place. That congregation needed no piano
is, they needed none with which to sing the hymns, though they doubtless
needed one in order to learn them. Other congregations, especially smaller
ones, do need one, and it is surely no sin to use one.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Gems of Wisdom from the
Meditations and Vows
of Bishop Hall
[Joseph Hall, a bishop in the Church of England, must have done little
but think. His published works contain Meditations and Vows, The Art of
Divine Meditation, Holy Observations, and Contemplations on the historical
portions of the Bible. He was a spiritual man, who thought to good purpose,
and his writings are a mine of condensed wisdom, well expressed. I have
selected a number of the better (and briefer) items from his Meditations
and Vows. It is on the side of the blessings of modern technology that
the works of such men are available on microfilm, at any good university
library, and those who want them may have them. One reason for my presenting
them here is to whet the appetite of the reader for the writings of the
author. I give them in a near resemblance to their old clothing, in which
they appear in the volume from which I have taken them, namely, The Works
of Joseph Hall, Printed in London in 1628. The reader should have no difficulty
with this, if he bears in mind that the language of that time commonly
employed an "i" for our "j," a "v" for our
initial "u," and a "u" for our consonant "v,"
while the printing of those times employed the old-style "s,"
which is an "s," not an "f."
I will vse my friend as Moses did his rod: While it was a rod, he held
it familiarly in his hand: when once a Serpent, he ran away from it. §
I haue seldome seene much ostentation, and much learning met together.
The Sunne, riing, and declining, makes long hadowes; at mid-day when hee
is at highest, none at all. Beides that, skill when it is too much howne,
loseth the grace: as freh-coloured wares, if they be often opened, lose
their brightnesse, and are soiled with much handling. I had rather applaud
my selfe for hauing much, that I hew not; than that others hould applaud
me for hewing more than I haue. §
An ambitious man is the greatest enemie to himselfe, of any in the world
beides: for he still torments himselfe with hopes, and deires, and cares:
which he might auoid, if he would remit of the height of his thoughts,
and liue quietly. My onely ambition hall be, to rest in Gods fauour on
earth, and to be a Saint in heauen. §
There was neuer good thing eaily come by. The Heathen man could say,
God sels knowledge for sweat; and so he doth honour for ieopardy. Neuer
any man hath got either wealth or learning with ease. Therefore the greatest
good must needs bee most difficult. How hall I hope to get Christ, if
I take no paines for him? And if in all other things the difficultie of
obtaining, whets the minde so much the more to seeke; why hould it in
this alone daunt mee? I will not care what I doe, what I suffer, so I
may winne Christ. If men can endure such cutting, such lancing, and searing
of their bodies, to protrac a miserable life yet a while longer; what
paine hould I refuse for eternitie? §
Then onely is the Church most happy, when Truth and Peace kisse each
other; and then miserable, when either of them balke the way, or when
they meet and kisse not. For truth, without peace, is turbulent: and peace,
without truth, is secure iniustice. Though I loue peace well, yet I loue
maine truths better. And though I loue all truths well, yet I had rather
conceale a small truth, than disturbe a common peace. §
The World teacheth me, that it is madnesse to leaue behinde me those
goods that I may carry with me: Christianitie teacheth me, that what I
charitably giue aliue, I carrie with me dead: and experience teacheth
me, that what I leaue behinde, I lose. I will carrie that treasure with
me by giuing it, which the worldling loseth by keeping it: so, while his
corps hall carrie nothing but a winding cloth to his graue, I hall be
richer vnder the earth, than I was aboue it. §
The godly sowe in teares, and reape in ioy. The seed-time is commonly
waterih, and lowring. I will be content with a wet Spring, so I may be
sure of a cleere and ioyfull Haruest. §
One said, It is good to inure thy youth to speake well; for good speech
is many times drawne into the affecion: But, I would feare, that speaking
well without feeling, were the next way to procure an habituall hypocriie.
Let my good words follow good affecions; not goe before them. I will therefore
speake as I thinke; but withall, I will labour to thinke well; and then
I know, I cannot but speake well. §
There is none like to Luthers three masters; Prayer, Tentation, Meditation.
Tentation stirs vp holy Meditation: Meditation prepares to Prayer: and
Prayer makes profit of Tentation; and fetcheth all diuine knowledge from
Heauen. Of others, I may learne the Theorie of Diuinity; of these only,
the Pracise. Other masters teach me by rote, to speake Parrot-like of
heauenly things: these alone, with feeling and vnderstanding. §
I see a number, which, with Shimei, whiles they seeke their seruant,
which is riches, lose their soules. No worldly thing hall draw me with-
out the gates, within which God hath confined me. §
I had rather confesse my ignorance, than fally professe knowledge. It
is no hame, not to know all things; but it is a iust hame to ouer-reach
in any thing. §
I finde, that all worldly things require a long time in getting; and
affoord a hort pleasure in enioying them. I will not care much, for what
I haue; nothing, for what I haue not. §
The common feares of the World are causelesse, and ill placed. No man
feares to doe ill; euery man to suffer ill: wherein, if we conider it
well, we hall finde that we feare our best friends. For my part, I haue
learned more of God and of my selfe, in one weekes extremitie, than all
my whole lifes prosperitie had taught me afore. And, in reason and common
experience, prosperitie vsually makes vs forget our death: adueritie on
the other ide, makes vs neglec our life. Now (if we measure both of these,
by their effecs) forgetfulnesse of death makes vs secure: neglec of this
life makes vs carefull of a better. So much therefore as neglec of life
is better than forgetfulnesse of death; and watchfulnesse better than
securitie: so much more beneficiall will I esteem adueritie, than prosperitie.
Euery icknesse is a little death. I will be content to die oft, that
I may die once well. §
Deire oft-times makes vs vnthankfull. For, who so hopes for that he hath
not, vsually forgets that which he hath. I will not suffer my heart to
roue after high or imposible hopes, lest I hould, in the meane time, contemne
present benefits. §
Augutines friend, Nebridius, not vniustly hated a hort answer, to a weighty
and difficult question; because the disquiition of great truths requires
time, and the determining is perillous: I will as much hate a tedious
and farre-fetched answer to a hort and eaie question. For, as that other
wrongs the truth, so this the hearer. §
It is a vaine-glorious flattery for a man to praise himselfe: An enuious
wrong to detrac from others. I will therefore speake no ill of others,
no good of my selfe. §
True friendhip necessarily requires Patience. For there is no man, in
whom I hall not milike somewhat, and who hall not, as iustly milike somewhat
in me. My friends faults therefore, if little, I will swallow and digest;
if great, I will smother them: howeuer, I will winke at them to others;
but, louingly notifie them to himselfe. §
Iniuries hurt not more in the receiuing, than in the remembrance. A small
iniury hall goe as it comes: a great iniury may dine or sup with me; but
none at all hall lodge with me. Why hould I vex my selfe, because another
hath vexed me? §
It is good dealing with that, ouer which we haue the most power. If my
state will not be framed to my minde, I will labour to frame my minde
to my estate. §
It is a great misery to be either alwaies, or neuer alone: society of
men hath not so much gaine as distracion. In greatest company I will be
alone to my selfe: in greatest priuacie, in company with God. §
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ------
Not Answering Again
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on Sept. 7, 1997
by Glenn Conjurske
Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please
them well in all things, not answering again. (Titus 2:9).
I am aware that this scripture speaks of servants, but I intend to apply
it to children. We have no servants, but we do have children. The same
principles certainly apply to both. Both are under authority, and children
certainly owe that obedience to their parents which servants do to their
The text says, not answering again. Again, you
should understand, is used here in its old sense of back.
Not answering back, or, as the common phrase is today, not
talking back. If servants are responsible not to talk back to their masters,
certainly children have the same responsibility not to talk back to their
parents. Both are under authority. That authority is ordained of God,
and is the same in its essence, though its workings may be diverse in
different spheres. I am not perfectly clear as to how to differentiate
between the different sorts of authority, but it is plain to common sense
that a man does not exercise authority in the same manner over his wife
as he does over his children. Whether the difference is in kind, or in
degree, or in some other thing, may be difficult to determine. Yet we
all know there is some kind of difference, and every man of sense will
grant that there ought to be. Still authority is authority, and these
words not answering again have something to teach us about
the nature of authority.
Authority is the right to rule, which implies the right to determine,
and the right to enforce. Answering again is a challenge of
that right. You may as well settle it in your mind that any child that
talks back is not subject to your authority, and this is a very serious
matter, for you have that authority from God, and stand in God's place
in the exercise of it. You have no more right to allow your children to
trample upon your authority, than they have to trample on it. In so doing
you wrong your God and you wrong your children
----for it is a certainty
that a child who will not submit to your authority will not submit to
It may seem strange to us that God addresses such an admonition as not
answering again to servants, and no such admonition to children.
It may be that there was less need for this in Paul's day. It is a characteristic
of the last days that children are disobedient to parents,
and but a couple of generations ago children would not have dared to speak
to their parents as they commonly do today. There are no doubt reasons
for the change. The devil is of course opposed to parental authority.
Why? Because it is of God, and that is the only reason the devil needs
to oppose anything.
Democracy, you understand, is the sacred cow of America, and of the West
in general, but democracy is not of God. The foundation of democracy is
the principle that authority is the creation of the people, whereas it
is one of the most elementary principles of Scripture that authority is
of God. According to democracy authority comes up from the people. According
to the Bible it comes down from God. At any rate, the devil has made an
all-out endeavor in these last days to introduce democracy into the family
in what is called feminism, and then in that darling of all the liberals,
children's rights. Not that the devil cares anything for the
rights of children, any more than he does for the rights of women. He
is only determined to overturn the rights of God. He only seeks to transfer
the authority from the parents to the state, so that he may take it into
his own hands.
Meanwhile children are under parental authority by the appointment of
God. They have a responsibility to respect and submit to that authority.
But I want you to observe another possible reason why Paul commands servants
not to answer again, and gives no such command to children. The servants
are assumed to be responsible adults. Children are another matter. They
have the same responsibility, but young children do not have the same
understanding. Therefore the greater responsibility falls upon the parents,
and it is the parents to whom I am preaching this morning. Your children
have a responsibility to honor and submit to your authority, but what
two-year-old has the understanding and ability, unaided, to perform this?
If your children have a responsibility to honor your authority, you have
the responsibility to maintain it. Remember, this is no democracy. You
were not elected to your place of authority, and if your children held
an election today, you might find yourself out of office tomorrow. How
long do you suppose your place of authority would be maintained if you
left it entirely to your children to maintain it? That is your business,
and it is a solemn trust from the Lord, who gave you that position of
An indispensable ingredient in authority is the right to enforce, and
that certainly includes the right to maintain its own position. When Paul
says, What will ye, shall I come to you in meekness, or with a rod?
he certainly indicates that he means to maintain his place of authority.
It is useless to dream of authority enforcing its determinations, if it
has no right to maintain its position. It is the parents' place to maintain
their authority. But understand, every time your children talk back to
you, they challenge your authority.
That challenge comes in various forms and degrees. Children who are bold
and open in their rebellion will simply say, No, I won't,
or when they are older, If you want it done, do it yourself,
or I'm not your slave. No child will come to that unless his
discipline has been long and seriously neglected, but still there are
children enough in this land who answer their parents that way every day.
No parent who understands his responsibility will ever allow it to come
to that, but it is when the parents allow softer and subtler forms of
back-talk that children become so bold in their evil.
Those softer and subtler forms usually begin early, for children are born
depraved. One of the earliest forms of answering back usually comes in
the form of the question Why? There are some little children
who by the time they reach two years of age have already acquired the
habit of answering every command with Why? And some parents
are foolish enough to excuse and justify this. They refuse to believe
that that Why? is a challenge to their authority. They contend
that little children are not that intelligent. I have known some parents
by passion, not reason ----who denied that a six-year-old boy had
intelligence enough to manipulate his parents, and yet I had watched that
same boy very subtly and very successfully manipulate his parents when
he was three. I won't contend that a two-year-old who asks Why?
has thought the matter out, but he acts instinctively against your authority.
In the first place, he gains time by answering back. He delays the unpleasant
task ----and the unpleasant submission to you.
But it goes deeper than this. His Why? is a challenge to your
authority. It is an attempt to remove the matter from the ground of authority,
and put it on the ground of reason. His Why? says in essence,
Give me a reason to do this: otherwise I won't. I will submit to
reason, but not to bare authority. And the effect of this, if allowed,
can only be to overturn your authority altogether. Instead of requiring
anything of your child, you will be discussing everything with him, to
persuade him that what you ask of him is reasonable. And you may have
rough work of this
----to persuade him that work is better than
play, that self-denial is better than self-indulgence, that it is better
to eat vegetables than candy, that it is better for him to do your will
than his own.
And the fact is, you have no right to allow your child to take the matter
off the ground of authority, and put it on the ground of reason. Yet some
parents habitually anticipate their children in this, and put all their
orders on the ground of reason instead of authority. Every command they
issue is immediately followed by a reason. Don't do that, or you
may get hurt. You can't have that now, because it will spoil
your appetite. I don't mean to say this is never legitimate, but
parents who do this habitually manifest the weakness of their authority,
while they contribute to weaken it further. God gave Adam no reason when
he commanded him not to eat of the forbidden tree
this: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely
die. That reason told Adam nothing beyond the fact that God had
the right to command and the ability to enforce.
Reason is very good in its place, and an unreasonable use of authority
is a great evil, but still your children are required to submit to your
authority, not your reason. But there are two sides to every question.
All rebellion is not entirely the fault of the rebels. The Bible admonishes
fathers not to provoke their children to wrath, and with good reason.
An unreasonable use of authority will provoke them not only to wrath,
but to open rebellion, and this will not be all the children's fault.
A proud and insubordinate spirit will of course regard almost every expression
of authority as unreasonable, but even when the spirit is right it requires
faith to properly submit to authority
----faith in the wisdom and
goodness of that authority. This is true even of the authority of God.
An unreasonable use of authority, whether in the church, the state, or
the family, invites rebellion. Bare authority, untempered by goodness
and love, provokes rebellion. We must trust in order to properly submit,
and it belongs to the one in authority to earn that trust, by a reasonable
use of that authority.
But this much being understood, it remains that your children are required
to submit to your authority, not your reason. To put reason in the place
of authority is to destroy the very essence of authority. Why does authority
exist in the first place? Precisely because men will not, of their own
will and reason, do as they ought. They lack the understanding, or the
will, or both, to do as they ought. Therefore God places them under authority,
to require them to do as they ought. Parents, by their years and experience,
of course know better than their children do, and better than their children
can. We know that there are evil parents
------parents who are very
corrupt in heart and life ------and yet it is a certain fact that
children are much better off under the authority of corrupt parents than
they could be with no authority at all. Fallible and erring authority
is better than none.
So likewise in the church. God puts men in authority in the church. Those
men are called elders, being men who by their age and experience have
a better understanding of what ought to be done than the younger saints
can have. Their authority is a benefit to the church, and the authority
of parents is a benefit to their children. But the human race is rebellious
----does not like to submit to authority ----and
beyond that, the prevalence of democratic principles has made authority
of every kind very unpopular in this land. A number of people have left
this church during the past few years, and ----aside from those
who have left for no better reason than their personal resentment -----I
believe a major issue with most of them has been authority. They leave
here and scour the country to find another church as much like this one
as they can, but without the authority. They want the kind of standards
which we have, for those standards bespeak devotedness and commitment,
but they want those standards to be optional. They want to submit to those
standards which they understand, and none other. They want reason, but
Yet it is God's way to rule by authority, and this is good for the church,
and for the child. If the prevalence of democratic principles has blinded
the church in America to that fact, yet there are few who would question
it in the family. The Bible says, It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth. (Lam. 3:27). To bear the yoke is not to submit
to reason, but authority. When a man puts a yoke on the neck of the ox,
this is not to convince him that it is better to pull the plow than to
eat the grass, but to compel him to pull the plow. And whatever we may
think concerning the ox, that yoke is a benefit to the child. It
is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.
On the other hand, it is evil, it is harmful, to allow a child to remove
your commands from the ground of authority, in order to put them on the
ground of reason. Yet that is exactly what he is asking when he answers
back with Why? But with a good many even of very young children
this is an inveterate habit. Every parental requirement is met with an
immediate and reflexionary Why? Thus your child challenges
your authority, delays submission, denies your position above him, and
engages you as an equal in discussion. That habit ought to be nipped in
the bud, and not by your child, but by yourself.
Another manner in which children commonly answer again is
by making excuses. Every one of those excuses is a challenge to your authority,
and perhaps worse, a stab at your character. You say, Johnny, it's
time to bring in the fire wood, and he answers again
with It's too cold out, or I brought in enough yesterday,
or I'm too busy right now. This is another way of removing
the matter from the ground of your authority, and putting it on the ground
of reason. But there is something worse in this. It challenges not only
your authority, but your reason also. Every one of those excuses in effect
charges you with being unreasonable. Every one of them says in effect,
Your requirement is unreasonable, for this reason. There is
no excuse for these excuses. Most of them are not even true, and all of
them are presented as a direct challenge to your authority. You have no
more right to allow such excuses than your child has to make them. You
are the representative of God in the exercise of your authority, and you
have no right to allow your children to challenge it, or to set it aside.
You have no right, therefore, to allow them to answer again.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
A. C. Gaebelein's New Beatitude
So many who claim to be his [John Wesley's] followers reject the Bible
and treat the Holy Scriptures as if they were but common literature. But
as someone said to the writer years ago
----John Wesley is
a back number; he believed many things which we can no longer believe.We
are glad to belong to the back numbers.It is an illustrious
company. We formulate a new beatitude. It is this: Blessed are ye
back-numbers, for ye shall be among the first numbers in glory. ----Our
Hope, Edited by Arno C. Gaebelein. New York: Publication Office Our
Hope,Volume XLII, 1936, pg. 228.
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.