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Vol. 6, No. 10
Oct., 1997

The Congruity of the Judgements of God

by Glenn Conjurske

We all know that God judges sin, and not only in the day of judgement, but in the present time, in this present life. His temporal judgements are often striking, and such as compel men to acknowledge their righteousness. That righteousness is displayed in their congruity to the sins committed. This congruity appears in the temporal judgements which God prescribes, as when he says, “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed,” and again, “Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” But the same congruity appears in those temporal judgements which God executes himself. He often, with exquisite wisdom, tailors the judgement to fit the sin, in such a way as to compel the conviction that this is the hand of God. It is the congruity of the judgement of God which is rehearsed by the angel in Revelation 16:5, saying, “Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus, for they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink, for they are worthy.”

The Bible contains numerous examples of such judgements. These judgements are designed, of course, to give to men a righteous and fitting recompense for their sins, but also to carry conviction to their hearts that this is the hand of God. When Judah fought against the Canaanites, “Adoni-bezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. And Adoni-bezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me.” (Judges 1:6-7).

In all this we see precisely the principle for which I contend. “AS I have done, SO God hath requited me.” The judgement was tailored to fit the sin, in such a way as to compel conviction. And observe further, God does not here state this principle himself, but only acts in such a way as to extract it from the mouth of a pagan man. It is Adoni-bezek who states the fact, compelled to this conviction by the nature of the judgement. And observe yet further, the pagan king was compelled by the nature of the judgement to acknowledge the hand of God in it. He does not say to the men of Judah, “As I have done, so ye have requited me,” but “As I have done, so God hath requited me.”

A very striking example of this is found in Ahab, in I Kings 21. Jezebel found Ahab moping and pouting because the righteous Naboth would not give him his vineyard. “And she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles of the city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people, and set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die.” When this was done, “Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” Ahab did not hesitate to do so, but he could not have one day's enjoyment of the ill-gotten gain, for “the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him saying, Thus saith the Lord, in the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.”

We observe in this, by the way, that as the old proverb says, “The receiver is as bad as the thief.” The murder of Naboth was Jezebel's doing, yet God holds Ahab responsible for it. We observe also what pains God took to secure the congruity of the judgement. “In the place where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” Yet Ahab died in battle, far away from this place. “And the battle increased that day, and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. ... So the king died, and was brought to Samaria, and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake.” (I Kings 22:35-38).

Another striking example of such judgement is found in the wicked Haman, who contrived the ruin of Mordecai, and secured the ruin of himself. “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.” (Esther 7:10).

Another striking example appears in the awful end of the Levite's concubine, who “played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house.” (Judges 19:2). When the Levite went to bring her back, and they were forced to lodge in Gibeah, “ Behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about, and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him. And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly, seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my daughter, a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him. So the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning; and when the day began to spring, they let her go. Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light. And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold. And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered.” (Judges 19:22-28).

Upon this awful account the good Bishop Hall writes, “O the just and even course which the Almighty Judge of the world holds in all his retributions! This woman had shamed the bed of a Levite by her former wantonness; she had thus far gone smoothly away with her sin; her father harboured her; her husband forgave her; her own heart found no cause to complain, because she smarted not: now, when the world had forgotten her offence, God calls her to reckoning, and punishes her with her own sin. She had voluntarily exposed herself to lust, now is exposed forcibly. Adultery was her sin; adultery was her death.”*

Yet it is plain that there are many adulterers who are not so judged, nor apparently judged at all in this life, nor does it appear that the Levite received any fitting recompense for the awful part which he played in the business, nor his host for the part which he would have played if the sons of Belial had accepted it. No matter about that. Eternity will make all right, and all even. This day is not the day of judgement. The judgements which God inflicts in this time and this life are occasional and representative, not universal. They are designed to teach men to fear while yet there is hope, of which there will be none in the day of judgement. The present judgements are only a small sampling of the judgement to come. Yet they are congruous, tailored to the sin which evokes them, and such as cause men to know and feel the hand of God.

Lot, you will recall, pressed by the same demand from the men of Sodom, made them the same offer. “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.” (Gen. 19:8). This was the weakest act of a man whose whole course was one of weakness. Though driven to it in the hope of preventing a more heinous crime, still it was unjustifiable on any account, and indeed horrifying to contemplate. God forestalled Lot from doing the base thing which he offered to do, yet that removed none of his guilt for designing it. He had yet a day of reckoning to face for that, and he who offered his maiden daughters to be defiled by beasts of men was in fact to do the deed himself. Lot feared the men of Sodom where he ought to have feared God. He feared violence where he ought to have feared sin, and the price which he paid for this was as meet as it was bitter. And who that knows anything of the workings of the heart of man can doubt that when Lot learned what he had actually done, his conscience directed him back to what he had once basely designed to do? In all of this we learn that the best time to repent is before we sin, and not after we suffer for it, for the judgements of God are no light matter. The rod is meant to inflict pain, and that pain, by God's design, may be of the most exquisite sort.

David repented before he suffered for his sin, but not before he sinned. That repentance came too late to avert the judgement. But this, by the way. What I wish to call attention to here is the congruity of David's sin and his judgement. “Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; ... and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” (II Samuel 12:9-12). Observe, this is God speaking by his prophet, and it is God who avows that the judgement inflicted shall be agreeable to the sin committed. Likewise, when David sinned in numbering the people, God judged him by diminishing their number.

But one caution is in order here. We have no right to assume that the afflictions which befall men are judgements for some particular sin. If the sin is known and open, and the affliction agreeable thereto, it is safe to make such an assumption, but not otherwise. It was a great wrong on the part of Job's friends to assume that Job's affliction was for some secret and unknown sin. Their assumption was as sinful as it was mistaken. Quite otherwise, however, in the case of Haman, whose sin was not imagined or conjectured. His sin against Mordecai and the Jews was open and flagrant. When he was hanged on the gallows which he had built for Mordecai, it would have been impossible to resist the conviction that this was the signal judgement of God.

But I have no intention of leaving all of this in the realm of speculative doctrine. These matters are as practical as they are solemn. To see such judgements as these fall upon both the godly and ungodly ought to teach us all to fear God and to fear sin. David paid dearly for many years to come for an hour's pleasure. Yet it is neither the certainty nor the severity of God's judgements which I wish to rehearse here, but their congruity. It is God who says, “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein, and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” (Prov. 26:27). He that digs a pit for another, he shall fall into it himself. He that rolls a stone to hurt another, it will return upon him. Even those evils which we do mistakenly, and in part with good intent, will be returned upon our own heads. “He shall have judgment without mercy that hath shewed no mercy.” (James 2:13). He who persecutes others, thinking thereby to do God service, will in his turn feel the fires of persecution himself. It is God who secures this, and though his judgements in this life are only representative and occasional, he is certainly much more careful about his own children than he is of the men of the world. Bastards may go without chastisement, but sons must expect it. And what sort of judgement? “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again”-------or “measured back to you,” as we would say in modern speech. He who slanders another shall be slandered himself. He who smears another's name shall have his own name smeared. He who disturbs another's peace shall have his own peace disturbed. He who divides friends shall be divided from his own friends. He who takes advantage of another's weakness shall have his own weakness exploited. Ah, how careful, how scrupulous, how righteous, how gentle, how merciful we ought to be in all our dealings-------in all our words-------in all our thoughts-------knowing that we may be forging today those instruments which we shall feel another day.

And it may very well be that though the judgements of God are congruous in form with the sin, they are aggravated in degree. To David God said, “For thou didst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” David employed the sword of the Ammonites but once, to slay but one man, but God said to him, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house.” Both the congruity and the aggravation of the judgement of God plainly appear in Rev. 18:6, where we read, “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and DOUBLE unto her DOUBLE according to her works. In the cup which she hath filled fill to her DOUBLE.”

And knowing all this, it is plain enough that the best time to repent is before we sin. Not that we may not repent afterwards. Surely we may, for God is merciful. Yet we know that David's repentance did not avert his judgement. Ah! but some will say, David was under the law! And what of that? It is an absolute certainty that God did not deal with him on the ground of law. By the law David must die, on two counts, for adultery, and for murder. Yet the first word of God to him upon his repentance is, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin. Thou shalt not die.” (II Sam. 12:13). It is certainly not law, but grace, which puts away sin. The sentence of the law was directly countermanded: “Thou shalt not die.” Law had nothing to do with the matter. Yet David must suffer for his sin.

Neither was David's judgement to move him to repentance. He never felt one stroke of the rod, nor heard the faintest rumble of the coming storm, until after he had repented. It was after he acknowledged his sin that he heard the first word of the coming judgement, and long after that when he felt most of it. The judgement was neither to fulfill the law, nor to move the offender to repentance, but to express God's displeasure at the sin, and to teach men that they cannot sin with impunity. Those ends are best attained by judgements which are tailored to fit the sins committed. Hence the congruity of the judgements of God.


Not a Man

by Glenn Conjurske

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father. Let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.” (Gen. 19:30-36).

This story is so sordid that it is an embarrassment to me to put it in print. Nevertheless, it is the holy word of a holy God, and it is in fact full of most holy and profitable instruction for our souls.

Anyone reading this account will immediately say that Lot's daughters had no morals. They had no character. True enough, but there is something deeper than this. They had no faith. This was their first lack. Their immoralities flowed from their unbelief. Faith would have kept them from such deeds, as it would have kept Eve from eating the forbidden fruit, and as it actually did keep David from slaying Saul. This sordid account is in fact of great use in illustrating the actual relationship between faith and good works. There are a great many who will steadfastly maintain, as a mere matter of orthodox doctrine, that all good works must proceed from faith, while they have no notion in the world as to how or why that is so.

It is so, however, and in this sordid account of sin we clearly see the workings of unbelief.

Understand, Lot's daughters were in a hard place. They were young ladies of marriageable age, with all of the same desires which possess the hearts of all other young ladies, yet they were cut off from the rest of the human race, dwelling in a cave on a mountain, where there was “not a man” to come in unto them after the manner of all the earth. This was hard. “The manner of all the earth” was perfectly legitimate, and unavoidably desirable. These girls had the same desires for marriage and motherhood as all other women had, those desires were implanted in their very natures by their creator, and yet there was “not a man” to fulfill them.

But the plain fact is, it was God who had put them in this hard place. It was the call and command of God, and indeed the mercy of God, which required of Lot, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” It was God who had destroyed the men who had been their former acquaintances. It was God who had left them with “not a man” to fulfill their desires.

Faith would have recognized all of this, and looked out of its hard place up to God. It would have looked to the creator of those desires, and to the author of their present hard position, and trusted him----trusted him to bring them out of their hard position, to open their way before them, to provide for their need. If God delayed to do so, faith would have rested in him, and waited patiently for him.

But these girls had no faith. They did not see the hand of God in their plight. Neither did they trust God to provide for their need. Neither could they “wait patiently” for God to alter their circumstances, or provide for them where they were. All this faith would have done. Not so unbelief. Unbelief could not perceive in their late deliverance from the fiery doom of Sodom the sure token that God was for them. As the more enlightened faith of the present dispensation may confidently say, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”-------so faith in that day would surely have said, He that sent his angels to deliver us from the destruction of Sodom, will he not provide for our needs now that we are delivered?

But unbelief did not look at the goodness nor the power of God, but only at the present difficulty. Unbelief, moreover, after its usual manner, magnified that difficulty. As the unbelieving spies in the wilderness called the land that flowed with milk and honey “a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof,” and said moreover, “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight,” so also the daughters of Lot affirm, “There is not a man in the earth to come in unto us.” This was certainly false. It was just exaggerating and magnifying the difficulty, after the usual manner of unbelief. If they had said, “There is no man in this cave,” that had been true enough, but to their unbelieving hearts “no man in this cave” and “no man in the earth” were all one. Lacking the eyes of faith, which sees those things which are not seen as yet, they could see no further than their present plight and their present difficulty. Having no faith, they had no hope----for they surely did not expect God to work for them. Any expectation of that would have kept them from the dark deeds which they committed. Unbelief could not “wait patiently” for that which it had no hope of receiving. It therefore “made haste” to take the matter into its own hands, and provide for itself----and that, as is usual with unbelief, by means of evil deeds.

It is most instructive also to observe how these girls justify their evil deeds. We may be absolutely certain that they did not commit such deeds as this with a clear conscience. Oh, no. If they supposed this thing to be right, why did they not simply ask their father for it? Why all of this secrecy and stealth and craft? They knew very well that their deed was evil, and such a deed as they could never have moved their righteous father knowingly to commit. But see how they set this evil deed in its best light: “that we may preserve seed of our father.” This is always the way of unbelief. To this it is driven by a guilty conscience. So King Saul claimed that the best of the sheep and of the oxen were spared “to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal.” (I Sam. 15:21). And so the daughters of Lot commit deeds of darkness “to preserve seed of our father.” How pious! how noble! how magnanimous! are sin and unbelief, if we may believe all of their tales.

Yet we may grant that these noble motives may in part be the truth. Men often act with mixed motives. It is the way of sin and unbelief to add some good motive to their evil ones. But what is this worth? Even if we could grant that “to preserve seed of our father” was the sole motive of Lot's daughters, still it is evil to do evil that good may come. This is precisely the way of unbelief, which has no expectation that God will work his good without the help of our evil.

But we hardly suppose that “to preserve seed of our father” was the sole motive of Lot's daughters. They had a need, and a legitimate one. They had a natural need for motherhood, and a natural need to live “after the manner of all the earth.” We suppose it was this need which moved them, as much as any magnanimous desire to preserve seed of their father.

Nor have these girls been alone in their need, nor in the isolation which prevented its fulfillment. Many of the saints of God have occupied the same place of need, and the same position of isolation. Isaac was there, and there by the purpose and appointment of God. It was Abraham's obedience to the call of God which put Isaac there. And what did Isaac do there? He “waited patiently” for God to act. He might have “made haste” to take a wife of the daughters of the cursed Canaanites. He might have abandoned the high and holy place of separation to which God had called his father, and gotten him such a wife as he could find. Unbelief would surely have done so, but Isaac did none of this. He rather “waited patiently” until God wrought for him. “And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife.” (Gen. 25:20). This was a long wait. But having waited so long, God wrought in a signal manner to satisfy his heart, and gave him such a marriage that he and his wife were still “sporting” like young lovers after their sons were grown up.

On the other hand, what did Lot's daughters gain by their unbelieving haste? Little indeed, except shame. Lacking the faith to expect it, these girls did not so much as aim at any real or permanent fulfillment of their actual need, but only made haste to secure what was within their reach. This is the common way of unbelief, while faith waits on. Many another girl, counting that any man is better than no man, and lacking the faith to receive from God such a husband as she would, has made haste to secure such a one as she could, without so much as aiming at the real fulfillment of the needs of her heart. For that she had no faith. Faith gives a better hope, and hope is content to wait.

And observe, it is the godly who are exposed in a peculiar way to such temptations to make haste. A man's faithfulness to God may make his prospects narrow indeed. None of the Canaanites must deal with the solitary isolation which was Isaac's lot for forty years. The flock of God has always been a little flock, and while the men of the world may fish in the wide sea, the faithful are confined to a narrow pond. In such a plight their temptations are strong to give up faith and patience, and “make haste” to do wrong. Not that any of the godly would ever stoop to the base deeds of Lot's daughters. No, but many of them have done evil in a lesser degree. Finding “not a man,” or none to their taste, in the little flock in which their lot is cast, they “make haste” to yoke themselves together with an unbeliever-------or with a believer who is not to their taste.

It may be said that in the latter case they wrong only themselves. If that were so, still this would be a work of unbelief, which cannot be pleasing to God. But it is not true that they wrong only themselves. They wrong their children also, by bringing them into a home which can never be so happy or congenial as it ought to be. They wrong their God also, for in depriving themselves of that tranquility of heart and that rest of spirit which a proper match would give them, they so far hinder their own usefulness in the cause of their God. “Better half hanged than ill wed” is a true proverb, and by making haste to secure a mismatch, a man only secures the continuance of those temptations and distractions from which marriage is designed to free him-------and he may add in the bargain other troubles to which he was a stranger before. Surely this is wronging his God as well as himself. The fruits of unbelief are evil as well as its deeds.

Jacob and Esau both found themselves in the same isolated position as Isaac had occupied before them. But the call of God mattered little to Esau, and he may therefore have two wives while Jacob had not even a prospect. But what sort of wives did Esau have? “And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.” (Gen. 26:34-35). “And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?” (Gen. 27:46).

Observe now, Esau had married these daughters of the land when he was forty years old. Evidently his early training had exercised a long restraint upon him, but lacking faith, his patience ran out, and he married such as he pleased, while Jacob, who was of the same age, waited on. “And it came to pass that when Isaac was old,” (Gen. 27:1), Jacob had yet no wife, and yet no prospects. Many a true saint of God has been there, who had rather pine unsatisfied than turn aside from the place of separation to which God has called them. The flock of God is a little one, and in many times and places it may be little indeed. I once preached in a little church in a little town, in which church the young people consisted of three girls and one boy----and the boy the brother of one of the girls, and the cousin of the other two. Who were these to marry? They had need of “faith and patience.” Alas, one of the girls (at the age of sixteen!) married an ungodly man. This was making haste indeed, doubtless against her own conscience, and certainly against my plain teaching.

Missionaries, and especially the children of missionaries, have often been placed in the same position of practical isolation. Their place is a hard one, and their temptations may be strong, and missionaries have not always resisted those temptations. Some have married the idolaters which they went to convert.

The converts on many mission fields have necessarily faced the same difficulty. The converts of any mission are few at first, and the flock of course a little one. In enumerating the many things which hindered people from receiving the gospel in India, one missionary says, “The prospect of marrying their children is dark. They cannot marry them among their own caste [after they have lost caste by embracing the gospel], for no one would unite with them; no other caste will marry with them, and they are not sufficiently numerous of themselves to form marriages. ... Some defer their baptism till they have married their children, and have then left them with their idolatrous partners.”* Such a course is deplorable indeed, and hardly excusable. Such difficulties are not to be met by compromise, but by faith, and doubtless also by “faith and patience.”

Ruth faced the same difficulty, and not for her children, but for herself. Naomi pressed her with this very thing, that if she left Moab for Israel, she would have none to marry her. But Ruth was determined and steadfast, and where many have left the place of duty and of blessing in order to marry, Ruth embraced that very place, even in the face of the likelihood that none would marry her. But the event proved better than Naomi's fears, for in spite of all probabilities, there is a God in heaven who rewards faith and faithfulness. The saints of God are often placed----by duty, by faith, and by faithfulness----in the same isolated position in which Lot's daughters found themselves, with “not a man”----or not a woman----to marry them. Let them rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. Let them wrestle with him if they must, but let them by all means remain on the ground of faith.

Some are privileged to find themselves in a larger flock. When I was a student at Bible school, the place was known as the “happy hunting ground.” Yet many failed even there to find a suitable mate, and those who neared the end of their final year, and were still unattached, commonly came down with what was known as “senior panic,” a disorder which moved them to “make haste” to marry, not what they would, nor necessarily what they ought, but what they could. “Faith and patience” would have led them in another direction. Faith does not panic, but rests in the Lord, and waits patiently for him. Faith deters men (and women) from haste as well as it does from every compromise, and from every departure from the narrow path. Faith can procure the desired blessing without any compromise or any departure from the strictest righteousness. Faith is in fact the greatest need of every man who has any other need.

God knows how to reward faithfulness, and I have seen some signal examples of God's provision of a mate, when his child has steadfastly remained in the path of duty and blessing, though there were no prospects there. It is God who says, “Delight thyself in the Lord, and he will give thee the desires of thine heart.” Those who delight themselves in the Lord, and cleave to his paths and his ways, will find his promise true, though they may have to wait patiently for it. Those who depart from his ways in order to secure the desire of their hearts will often find themselves disappointed even in that. Lot's daughters had no faith, and as a matter of plain fact they altogether failed to secure any real fulfillment of their needs, in spite of their scheming and grasping for what was within their reach.


The Miserable End of an Apostate

The following account I take from the Methodist Magazine for 1820, pages 347-351. An introductory note tells us that it is an “account of the life and death of Mr. R---------------- A----------------, late of ---------------- county, Maryland,” and is “taken from a pamphlet published by the Rev. J. Fletcher.” It is a solemn warning to those who contemplate marrying an unbeliever. Those who do so may fancy themselves strong enough to withstand such temptations, but the plain fact is, their marrying an unbeliever in the first place is proof enough that they are not strong at all, but weak indeed. We would not suppose that every child of God who marries an unbeliever will be subjected to just such temptations as these, yet they may------and they will certainly be subjected to some degree of influence which is against God.----editor.]

As death is the inevitable lot of mortals, however distant the thoughtless may think the period, it is the wisdom of all that must encounter the important scene to prepare for the solemnities of that hour. The means of improvement are numerous, and among those the life and death of such as have gone before us, are not to be accounted the smallest.

The relation which I am now to give of a person, with whom I was intimately acquainted, may serve to awaken our fears, “lest a promise being left us of entering into rest, any of you come short of it.”

This youth, like all others, in an unawakened state, lived in security somewhere about twenty years. It pleased the Father of Mercies to convince him that the life he lived would lead him to destruction, and that it was high time to seek the Lord while he might be found, and call upon him while he was near. With this conviction he set out to save his soul. He thought it his duty to join the Church of God, and to beg divine assistance to fulfil the covenant engagements that were made in his behalf at the time of his baptism. It was not long before he thought he had found the pearl of great price, and appeared to rejoice in a present salvation. His words were, “I know by experience that God has power on earth to forgive sin.” He walked in all the means of grace for several years. At length he thought it his duty to change his condition of life. Unhappy for him he chose a gay, handsome young lady, but a stranger to religious seriousness; and although she was not of his way of thinking, his family and personal appearance pleased her so well that she submitted to his request, thinking that after they were married, she could cure him of his religious frenzy; and too well she succeeded in the attempt. At first she began to reason with him in her way; she observed that if they meant to be thought any thing of by their friends and neighbours, they should not treat them with so much neglect; when they visited them to go to this, that, and the other place of diversion. That he knew how much persons of his way of thinking were neglected by people of respectability; that he kept so much reading and praying going on in his house, that the neighbours laughed at it; in fine, said she, I married you to be happy, but I utterly despair of happiness, unless you leave it off, and be like other people. He told her that happiness was what he wanted, what he sought, and what he had found: but he never found it in those things, which she esteemed to be objects of happiness, but that he found it in his God and religion; he told her that he hoped he should ever make it his highest ambition to make her happy, but that he was certain that happiness that arose from the customs and manners of this world was not substantial; that although for the present it might afford imaginary sweetness, in the end it would be bitter as death. When she found that mildness would not do, she took the harsher way. She refused to conform to family devotions. He grieved, he wept, and in secret often prayed for her, but to no purpose. She used every stratagem that her fruitful imagination could invent. She persisted on till she finally wearied him out,----he thought it was useless to try any longer to bear up under the opposition he met with. He thought he would attend to his private duties, and try to get to heaven alone if she would not go with him; but she pursued him to his closet, and finally drove him from every retreat, until he gave up every religious duty. When he gave over the cultivation of his heart by grace, and the regulation of his life by religion, he soon found the corruptions of his heart to stir within; they broke out in his life, till he finally gratified her in every request she made, and ran to greater lengths than ever he did before he made a profession of religion: he found the truth of this proverb, “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.” Some time after this he went to hear a sermon, that was preached on a particular occasion, in which the minister entered into all the feelings of the heart, and all his sins were brought to his remembrance. He there promised the Lord, once more, that he would set out to serve him let his opposition be what it would. But his difficulties appeared to be greater, and he found he had much less strength to resist them than he had before. He found himself in his enemies hands, and that he was like a man who had been bound by his enemy when he was asleep, and afterwards awoke with surprise. He struggles, but he cannot get free; he groans under his bondage, and wishes for liberty, but in vain. His wife redoubled her efforts, and gained her point a second time. He continued in this state for some time, sinning with but little remorse of conscience. He lost his desires for all the means of grace, and entirely forsook the company of the people of God; he gave himself up to the customs and maxims of the world, without having regard even to morality. After this he was laid upon a bed of affliction, and his life was despaired of by himself and his friends. In this affliction his fears were all alarmed, his sins appeared in dreadful colours before him, and he viewed them in such a light, that he thought he dare not look up to God for mercy.----“How can I, said he, expect that God will pardon me, when I have run counter to his will, grieved his spirit, sinned away all that peace I once enjoyed, and finally have gone farther since my apostasy, than I ever did before I pretended to religion? O, that I had my time to live over again, or that I had never been born!” His disorder increased, and his fears were wrought up to terror. “If (said he) God would give me another trial, I would amend my ways. If God will not hear me perhaps he will hear the prayers of his people in my behalf. O send for them that they may pray for me, for how can I stand before the avenger of sin in this my lamentable condition?” His friends visited him, and God heard prayers in his behalf, and contrary to expectation he recovered. But as his strength of body increased, his conviction subsided, and by the time he was restored to health, he was ready for, and actually did return to all his former vices. Several years after this, I fell in company with him, when we entered into close conversation about the state of his soul; I asked him what he thought would become of him, if he died in his present state? “Why” said he, “as sure as God is in heaven, I shall be damned.” “Well,” said I, “do you mean to die in this state? do you never think of changing your course of life?” “My friend,” said he, “I have no desire to serve God, I have no desire for any thing that is good; to tell you the truth,” said he, “I as much believe my damnation is sealed, as I believe I am sitting conversing with you.” “I know,” said he, “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.” I was struck speechless. I cannot paint to the reader's imagination the feelings I had at that time, but I could say no more to him, I could only observe with what an air of indifference he spoke it, and notwithstanding he spoke with confidence, and his words made such impressions on my mind, yet his heart appeared to be as unfeeling as a stone. After I parted with him I fell into meditation on the awful subject. Lord, thought I, who have I been talking with? An immortal spirit clothed with flesh and blood, that appears to be sealed over to eternal damnation! A man that once had a day of grace, and the offer of mercy, but now all appears to be lost! The door of heaven is shut against him, never to be opened more. He once had it in his power to accept of salvation, and because he did not improve his time and talent, God, judicially has taken them all away, and given him over to hardness of heart, and blindness of mind. He is neither moved by mercy, nor terrified by judgment,----may this be a lesson to me, thought I, to improve to the glory of God, and the salvation of my own soul. About two years after, he was laid on a dying bed, and his conscience roared like thunder against him, and every sense within him appeared to be awakened to torment him. His sickness was short, and his end awful. His Christian friends came to visit him, and wanted to administer to his comfort, but he was comfortless. They told him, perhaps he was mistaken, it was not as bad with him as he imagined. “Oh!” said he, “would to God I was mistaken, happy would it be for me, but,” continued he, “can I be mistaken about my affliction? Is it imagination that confines me here? Are my pains imaginary? No, no, they are a reality, and I am as certain of my damnation as I am of my affliction.” Some persons offered to go to prayer with him, but he forbid it. He charged them not to attempt it; “For,” said he, “that moment you attempt to lift up your hearts to God in my behalf, I feel the flames of hell kindle in my breast. You might as well pray for the devil as for me----You would have as much success. Do you think to force God? Do you think to force the gates of heaven that are barred by Justice against me? No, your prayers shall return upon your own heads, I want none of them.” The distress of his mind seemed to swallow up that of his body, and he continued nearly in the same situation till the day he made his exit. All that Christians or Christian ministers could say to him, made no impression on his mind. He never asked any one to pity, or pray for him. Just before he departed, after he had been rolling for some time from side to side, with horror depicted in every feature of his face, he called out to his wife, to bring him a cup of cold water, “For” said he, “in one hour I shall be where I shall never get another drop.”----She brought him the water, he took and drank it with greediness----he reached back the cup with his trembling hand, and stared her in the face; his eyes flashing terror all around him, he cried out, “Becky, Becky, you are the cause of my eternal damnation.” He turned over, and with an awful groan left the world, and launched into a boundless eternity. If the reader should ask after his wife, what impressions it made upon her mind; all I have to say is, I fear she died as she lived.

This melancholy history should prove precautionary to two descriptions of people, in an especial manner. 1st, Persecutors of religion may see what will probably be the result of opposing their relations, who wish to save their souls alive, viz. That the eternal destruction of those they turn aside will be measurably laid to their charge. Better (said the Saviour) were it for that man that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he drowned in the depth of the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones that believe in me.” 2dly, Professors of religion are hereby cautioned against “Being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Whatever may be their accomplishments, beauty, family or fortune, they are dangerous companions; and one of this character can do you more harm, than a thousand enemies whose society you may shun-------but once bound to an ungodly companion, you plant your bed full of thorns for life without a miracle of God's grace in changing the heart.


A Woman's Need

by Glenn Conjurske

The one great need of every woman's heart is to be loved. In that love she finds the security which she also craves. This appears plainly in the heart-struggles of the unwanted Leah in Genesis 29:31-34. “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me. And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this son also: and she called his name Simeon. And she conceived again, and bare a son: and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.” And though we may see some spiritual advance in her when the fourth son was born, whom she called Judah, saying, “Now will I praise the Lord,” yet it plainly enough appears in this account that her rejection by her husband was the uppermost thing in her consciousness, while year followed year----and she had years enough in which to rue the day in which she submitted to her father's requirement, deceived Jacob, and wronged her sister Rachel, all directly in the teeth of righteousness. In so doing she put herself in a place where she could never be satisfied, for her own heart must crave to be loved. This is the woman's nature, as God created it.

And in this, as in all else, the woman is the perfect complement of the man. Her need is the perfect complement of his need. The man's need is not to be loved, but to love----not to receive love, but to give it----not to find security, but to provide it----though he may never perceive any such need in himself until he falls in love with one woman. But it is certainly true that where the woman's deepest craving is to be loved, it is the deepest craving of the man who loves her to lavish that love upon her, and so move her to trust in his love, and find her security and happiness in it. In all of this the masculine and feminine natures are a most apt and beautiful picture of Christ and the church, but I do not intend to speak here of what is spiritual, but of what is purely natural. This I do without apology, for these matters are of very great importance, even for spiritual reasons.

Because the deepest need of every woman is the exact complement of the deepest need of every man, it behooves every woman to be very careful what she does with her need. Some women are very well aware that the display of their bodily form is a great snare to a man's heart, and this knowledge lays upon them the responsibility to conceal their form rather than displaying it. But women should understand that the need of their hearts is a greater snare to a man than the form of their bodies. A woman who displays her body sends indeed a fiery dart to the hearts of the men who see her, but the effects of this may be transient. A woman who displays her heart's need to a man sends an arrow of Cupid to his heart, which is likely to be firmly lodged there. It is just here that pastors and counsellors are often taken in the trap of love. When a woman has been abused, or jilted, or neglected, or unloved, or unwanted, this goes very powerfully to the heart of a man, begetting in him a strong desire to love and cherish her, and to make it all up to her.

It is natural enough for an abused or neglected woman to go to a trusted counsellor for the sympathy which she so desperately craves, but in so doing she lays a great snare for his heart. She ought to deny herself, and rather be as careful to conceal her heart's need from men as she is (or ought to be) to conceal her body. It is natural enough also for men to desire to listen to tales of woe from neglected women, and while this may appeal strongly to the spiritual nature of a godly man, it will also appeal strongly to his masculine nature, and the man has as much responsibility to deny himself here as the woman has. A woman has a responsibility not to display her body, but if she ignorantly (or indeed purposely) does so, it becomes the man's responsibility not to feast his eyes upon her. A woman likewise has a responsibility not to ensnare a man's heart by the display of her feminine need, but if she does so, it becomes the man's responsibility not to feast his heart upon it. Men who do not understand these matters may easily be taken in the trap of love ere ever they are aware.

The pastor or counsellor who understands whitherto these feminine tales of woe will tend ought simply to forbid the woman to tell them. He may gently but firmly tell her that it is dangerous for a woman to speak of such things to a man----that if she must unburden her heart on such themes, she ought to do so to a woman. A woman, however, may be little inclined to speak of such things to another woman. She may find it more satisfying to pour out her heart to a man, and she may find the sympathy she receives from him more satisfying than any she might receive from another woman. But if so, these very facts ought to warn her that the ground she is on is dangerous, if not illicit.

But there are times when it is perfectly legitimate for a woman to display her heart's need to a man----if she is single and marriageable, and so is he. But caution is in order here also, not so much for his sake as for her own. The display of a woman's need is a very powerful tool by which to secure the love and care of a man, but the woman who uses her heart's need to that end may in fact secure less than her heart needs. Her need is that a man should be in love with what she is. But mark, she needs to be loved for what she is in herself, and not merely for what she has in common with all other women. In the latter she can find no satisfaction or security at all. All women have the same need to be loved, and the woman who uses that need to secure a man's heart may not have secured it to herself at all, but only to feminine need. His heart is powerfully possessed by her need, and it becomes his passion to love and cherish her. But when he has dried her tears and satisfied her heart, he may find that she does not then possess the same charm as she did when she was crying as it were on his shoulder. He may find her as boring happy as she was appealing sad, and she may find that he is not in love with her at all, but only with feminine need. This may not be a total disaster, for she will have plenty of need with which to ply his heart, but their marriage is likely to resemble a roller coaster, and neither of them be fully or permanently satisfied.

A woman, then, ought to exercise restraint in displaying her need. A knowing woman may purposely use that need to take a man's heart. The naive woman may do the same instinctively. The wise woman may use her heart's need to strengthen the bond of love, but not to create it.


Purchasing Great Boldness

by Glenn Conjurske

“For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (I Tim. 3:13). The office of a deacon exists for the purpose of relieving the necessities of the poor. It was created in the sixth chapter of Acts for that purpose, to relieve the apostles of that work, since it was not meet that they should leave the word of God and serve tables. All of this being so, it may not readily appear how the using of such an office will purchase great boldness in the faith. If we consider, however, what boldness is, and what it will entail to use well the office of a deacon, I believe the connection will be apparent.

It may be that the best way to understand what boldness is will be to contrast it with its opposite. Boldness is the opposite of timidity. Boldness moves men to speak up where the timid are silent. Boldness moves men to address those issues which the timid ignore. Boldness moves men to reprove sin, which timidity allows to pass.

How then does the office of a deacon promote this boldness? Observe that it is those who “have used the office of a deacon well” which purchase to themselves this boldness. Men may relieve the poor without any boldness at all----and without any testimony at all. This is not to use the office well. Those who use the office well will make use of the opportunities which it affords them to reprove, rebuke, exhort, and testify. And the opportunities which such an office presents will be manifold.

The business of a deacon is to relieve those who are in poverty or distress. Now it often so happens that those who are in this plight are there by their own carelessness or laziness, their own improvidence or neglect. To relieve the wants of such persons without reproving and exhorting them concerning their ways is certainly not to use the office well. It is in fact to use it very ill. To relieve the careless and improvident without any solemn admonition is simply to encourage carelessness and improvidence. And yet to reprove them is a task from which we all shrink. It requires boldness to do so. The good deacon will take up his cross and administer the reproof along with the relief. Each time that he does so will add a little strength to his spirit, to do so again. When he has made a practice of this, he has used the office of a deacon well, and purchased to himself great boldness.

When we see men in need through their own carelessness and neglect, the temptation is strong to give them no help. We are tempted to say, “He made his bed: let him lie in it.” But the fact is, we were all once in very great need, spiritually, through our own sin, and God gave his best, and Christ gave his all, to relieve us. Ought we not to do the same for others? “But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need”----regardless of how he came by that need----“and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (I Jn. 3:17). Our great need was wholly our own fault, and yet God took care of that need for us.

Yet observe, God cared for our need in such a way as to cure us of our fault. He saves us from our sins. He saves us upon condition of repentance, and not otherwise. Though there are many who falsely represent God as doing so, he does not forgive us in such a manner or upon such terms as to confirm us in our sins. And neither should we relieve the poor and the distressed in such a way as to confirm them in the vices which brought them to their plight. Our dealings with them ought to reflect the holiness of God as well as his love, and ought to be patterned after God's own dealings with sinners. This will require a great deal of tenderness and gentleness, and also of firmness and boldness.

The office of a deacon provides peculiar opportunities for this. The man whose business it is to relieve the distressed will find both opportunity and responsibility to reprove their ways. I have never been a deacon, but in some sense we are all deacons. It is the deacon's business to administer the goods of the church, but to all of us are committed more or less of the goods of the Lord, and we have the same sort of responsibility individually as the deacon has officially. I was once a guest in the house of a brother who was much given to neglect of his responsibilities, and (as such people usually are) much inclined to get something for nothing, or at any rate to get as much as he could for as little as he could. He was committed to write an article for a Christian publication, and when the day arrived on which the article was due, he had not yet started it. The same day happened to be the last day for entering a certain art contest, for a substantial cash prize. He made no move to write his article, but spent the day drawing a picture for the art contest. This was typical of his desire to get something for nothing. So was the manner in which he drew the picture, for instead of producing anything original, he merely copied a photograph from a magazine. When this was finished, his wife read the contest rules, and found that this was not allowed. He therefore started afresh, using the same photograph, only adding something to it to alter it. All of this took the whole day. When the picture was done, he rushed off to get to the store before it closed, in order to buy a frame for the picture, and spent money which he did not have for the frame, writing a check for money which he did not have in his account. He then began to fret about where he was to get the money to cover the check.

I observed the whole process with great grief. Here was a man supposedly engaged in the work of the Lord, whose ways were simply unconscionable. The whole business put me in a hard place. I was a guest at his house, partaking of his hospitality, and therefore felt some obligation to relieve him. At the same time I felt it would be wrong to encourage such ways. I naturally shrank from confronting him concerning the evil of all of this, but I took up my cross, and asked him to go for a walk with me.

I asked him how much money he needed to cover the check. It was fifteen dollars. I gave him that, and no more. I also gave him a solemn reproof for such ways----for waiting till the last day for both the contest and the article, and for then neglecting his obligation, in order to attempt to get something for nothing. He seemed to take the exhortation well, though he afterwards turned against me, and I am not sure but what that day's exhortation may have been part of the reason.

But I give this incident as an illustration of the sort of circumstances with which deacons will commonly be called to deal, and of the necessity of boldness in order to use their office well.

But there is more. Most of us are timid about raising the question of salvation with the ungodly. It is almost a foregone conclusion that they do not wish to hear it. It requires a good degree of boldness to be faithful to open our mouths and speak as we ought to speak. The deacon's office provides him with a wealth of opportunity here. To merely relieve the temporal wants of the poor and distressed, without laboring to save their souls, is certainly not using the office well. It is in fact to throw to the winds one of the greatest opportunities this life will afford us. Solomon says, “A man's gift maketh room for him.” (Prov. 18:16). The gift brings out the welcome mat, and opens the door. And the gift opens the heart also to the message and testimony of the giver----and if not that, it will at any rate open the ear to listen to it.

I know a woman who was once living an ungodly and dissolute life. Two men from a Baptist church knocked on her door to preach the gospel. She had no interest----told them she knew all that already, and didn't want it. But her evil ways had brought her to want, and this they learned in their brief visit. They returned a few days later carrying bags of groceries. This broke her heart, and she was converted. The deacon who uses his office well will seek out such cases of need, and use them as an opening for the gospel. This will require boldness, and those who use the office well will attain a habit of boldness.

But again, we may all seek out and use such opportunities, without being deacons. A car stalled by the roadside, a car stuck in a snow bank, a man needing a ride----these and other cases of need call for help, and they are also opportunities to labor to save souls. I have sometimes given the needed help, but been too timid to preach the gospel. This is surely not using such opportunities well. To use such opportunities well we must overcome our natural timidity, and speak for Christ. We may fail to accomplish anything by it. That is, we may fail to move the other person. But the effort is not lost for all that, for by using such opportunities well we purchase to ourselves great boldness in the testimony of Christ.

The Editor's Bias for the King James Version

by the editor

A learned (and friendly) critic, having recently read many of my articles on Bible versions, tells me that we are very close in our views, but that he detects in me upon occasion a bias in favor of the King James Version. He notes as an example my article on paraphrasing in the Bible (Dec. 1992, pg. 280), and says that I ought to mention that the King James Version contains more paraphrasing than the New King James Version.

As to my bias in favor of the King James Version, though I aim always to be objective, and though I freely point out the faults of the King James Version where I see them, yet I confess that I doubtless have some bias in its favor. This I confess without shame. I am not so sure that in a question of this nature it could be right to be without such a bias. It seems to me that those who speak English, and who love the old paths of spiritual Christianity, must necessarily have a bias in favor of the King James Version, woven as it is into the warp and woof of every inch of the fabric of English Christianity for the last four centuries. There ought to be a predilection in favor of an institution which has so stood the test of time, and accomplished so much good in the world. We entirely approve of that bias which C. H. Spurgeon avows in words which we have printed before:

“For our own part, we are always grateful for good marginal readings; but we are less and less disposed to countenance any tampering with the text. The older we grow the more conservative we become. We have had ten thousand messages from God to our soul in the very words of our English Bible; and we have prayed over and preached about the precepts and promises it enshrines, till we feel a vested interest in the volume as it is.”1

We likewise----and most heartily----approve the following from J. W. Burgon, which we have also quoted before: “Linked with all our holiest, happiest memories, and bound up with all our purest aspirations: part and parcel of whatever there is of good about us: fraught with men's hopes of a blessed Eternity and many a bright vision of the never-ending Life;----the Authorized Version, wherever it was possible, should have been jealously retained.”2

There was a bias in these men, surely, but that bias was the fruit of holy thoughts and emotions, whereas the absence of that bias can hardly bespeak a proper state of soul. All who love their spiritual heritage must necessarily love the King James Version, and love naturally begets a bias which is as wholesome as it is unavoidable. Love covers a multitude of faults. A man who is in love may be enamored even with the faults of his lover, and if this is an error, it is at any rate an excusable one, and an error on the right side.

But the bias which I defend is not merely subjective. There ought to be a certain objective bias in favor of that which has been the foundation of spiritual Christianity for four centuries. When some young upstart comes forward as the detractor of an old man of God, who has blessed the church and gained the affections of the saints for decades, it would be simply preposterous to set these two men on a level, and claim no bias either way. The man who could claim to be unbiased in such a situation only proclaims the bias of his heart against the old man of God. The “bias” of the saints of God, if such it must be called, ought to be with the man whose ministry has blessed them for decades, and the bias of the people of God ought to be with the Bible which has possessed the hearts of the saints of God for four centuries. That bias ought to move them to look with lenity upon its very faults----though certainly not to deny their existence.

Now to apply my bias to the paraphrasing in the English Bible. It may be so that there is less paraphrasing in the New King James Version than there is in the old one. I have not collated them. But suffer me to make a few remarks on paraphrasing.

1.Some paraphrasing is necessary.

2.Some may be allowable, which is not strictly necessary.

3.Some may be necessary to retain the vigor or the spirit of the original, while sacrificing the letter. “God forbid” may be an example of this.

4.I grant that there is too much paraphrasing in the King James Version, more especially in the Old Testament. But even this may be excused, at least in part. It must be borne in mind that the King James Version was not a new translation, but a revision of the old ones, and we may grant that it was proper----or at any rate excusable----to retain a certain amount of paraphrase from the older versions, when the renderings were adequate, and when they were moreover familiar, and dear to the hearts of the saints. Most of the paraphrasing in the King James Version is retained from Tyndale and Coverdale, and by 1611 was already endeared to the hearts of the people. Too much change would have rendered the version unacceptable to those for whom it was made, and I believe the solid conservatism of the King James translators was one of their chief virtues.

5.Yet having said all this, it remains a fact that the King James Version is, as the “Five Clergymen” who undertook to revise it affirm, “so generally accurate, so close, so abhorrent of paraphrase...”3 Though there is more paraphrase in the old version than we can approve of, still it is remarkably free from it, especially in the New Testament, and in this respect it is vastly superior to the versions of Tyndale or Luther.

6.The New King James Version has doubtless removed some paraphrasing which was in the old version. That this was always wise I deny. If the New King James translators had possessed the same conservatism as the old ones, they would have “let well enough alone” in a myriad of places where they have altered the old version.

7.Moreover----and this point I regard as the most important one----it hardly seems that their removal of certain paraphrasing from the old version could have been dictated by any sound principle of faithfulness to the original, when in numerous other places they have introduced paraphrasing to which the old version was a stranger. Many of their alterations were dictated more by pedantry and fastidiousness than by any sound wisdom or faithfulness to the original. If it was any concern of theirs to render literally, without paraphrase, why did they introduce paraphrasing in so many places in which the old version was literal, perfectly intelligible, perfectly adequate (as four centuries of use have abundantly proved), and endeared to the hearts of the saints of God besides? This is the fruit of the liberal spirit of the modern church, and this it is to which I object in my article on paraphrasing. Whether it was right to remove paraphrasing which the old version contained may be open to more legitimate debate, but there is certainly no justification for introducing it, where four centuries of use have proved it needless.

8.The new paraphrasing introduced in the NKJV is of a more harmful sort, departing not only from the terms of the original, but from their meaning also. “Showing endearment” (Gen. 26:8) is a good example of this. And it hardly needs saying that in this the NASV is much worse than the NKJV, and the NIV very much worse.


All Gospel Tracts Alike?

by the editor

Brownlow North was one of the well known evangelists of the nineteenth century. He lived in a day when most of those who preached the gospel preached the genuine article. Whether the Baptist and separatist

C. H. Spurgeon, or the Anglican Bishop J. C. Ryle, or the Congregational layman D. L. Moody, they all preached with the Saviour of the world, “Repent and believe the gospel.” They all preached with the apostle of the Gentiles, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” They all preached that men must give up sin, or be damned. Evidently the testimony of the church on this matter was consistent and uniform. Brownlow North bears witness to this united testimony in the following tract:


WHAT'S this? A tract! Oh, they are all the same. I know every thing that is in it, before I read it. If I don't give up sin, and believe in Jesus, I shall go to hell.

In this way careless, thoughtless men often speak, when they receive a tract, and very generally they speak the truth. Every faithful tract written to awaken sinners, tells the very same story that Christ and His Apostles told eighteen hundred years ago. If men do not give up sin, and believe in Jesus, they will go to hell.

Now do you know why all these tracts say just the same thing? I will tell you. It is because they say what is in the Word of God. They are all written by God's people, and they tell others what God has told them. If you are not one of God's people the plain truths of His Word seem foolishness to you, and for this reason,----that you are not taught of God. The people who believe and write these truths are all taught of God.

Will you cast this paper from you because it tells you that if you do not give up sin, and believe in Jesus, you will go to hell? You can if you like: but if you do, you reject a call from God, and some day will regret it. Perhaps you have often rejected a call from God. Whether that be so, or not, do not reject this one, for there is an hour coming, when you must listen to His call. There is an hour coming, says the Scripture, when all that are in their graves SHALL hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. (John v.29.) That hour you must see, and that call you must hear. If you will give up sin, and believe in Jesus now, He will teach you by His Holy Spirit, how you can appear before God in that day, as having “DONE GOOD:” He will give you His blood to wash you, His righteousness to clothe you, and His Holy Spirit to sanctify you. But if you will not give up sin, and believe in Jesus Christ, as sure as you now hold this paper in your hand, the day is coming when you will awake to the resurrection of damnation. You can throw this tract from you if you like, and say tracts are all the same; but it will not be the same to you, whether you wake to the resurrection of life, or the resurrection of damnation.

----Gathered Leaves, by Brownlow North. London: Chas. J. Thynne, Second Edition, 1901, # XII.

Alas, times have changed. We might almost say today, as Brownlow North said in his day, that all the gospel tracts say the same thing, but if so, it is not because all the tracts preach the truth, but because they all fail to preach it. The present generation has advanced in spiritual wisdom far beyond Christ and his apostles. That men must give up sin or go to hell is rarely mentioned in a gospel tract today, any more than it is from most of the pulpits. This is no doubt one reason why revivals are a thing of the past, and the church is nearly as worldly as the world itself.


n Stray Notes on the English Bible n

by the Editor

But and if

Six times in the New Testament we read the expression “But and if.”

Matt. 24:48----But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart.

Luke 12:45----But and if that servant say in his heart.

Luke 20:6----But and if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us.

I Cor. 7:11----But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried.

I Cor. 7:28----But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned.

II Pet. 3:14----But and if we suffer for righteousness' sake.

The expression is strange to modern ears, and the meaning may be as strange as the sound, for in fact the meaning of “but and if” is simply “but if.”

The first thing to be understood here is that in older English the word “and” was commonly used with the meaning of “if.” Examples of this abound:

From the fourteenth-century Lollard treatise The Lanterne of Li3t (54:26), “And þin i3e be weiward; all þi bodi schal be derke,” that is, “If thine eye be wayward, all thy body shall be dark.” Even the ampersand was used for “if” in written works. Again in The Lanterne of Li3t (125:2), “For & þei weren blynde & knewen not þe lawe; þei my3ten happili þe hesiliar be excusid, ” that is, “For if they were blind and knew not the law, they might haply the easilier be excused.”

In William Tyndale's 1526 New Testament (Mark 6:56), “and prayed hyme/ thatt they myght touche and hit wer but the edge off hys vestute (sic),” that is, “and prayed him, that they might touch if it were but the edge of his vesture.” Again (Matt. 19:17), “But and thou wilt entre in to lyfe/ kepe the commaundmentes,” that is, “But if thou wilt enter in to life,” etc. In this and other places Tyndale alters “and” to “if” in his 1534 revision.

Tyndale's one-time associate George Joye, in his treatise on Adultery (fol. F.iii.), writes, “What and Christ shoulde now come agayne, and wryte in the foreheades of these men,” etc., that is, “What if Christ should now come again,” etc.

As late as the Bishops' Bible (1568) we read in Genesis 24:55, “let the damsell abyde with us, and it be but even ten dayes,” where “and” means “if,” this reading surviving from Tyndale.

Such usage survived until more recent times in certain dialects of English. In a little pamphlet entitled News from the Infernal Regions (Morgantown, [West Virginia]: Printed by Campbell and Britton, for the Proprietor, 1805, pg. 24), containing a fictitious dialogue of devils, one “Scotch-Irishman named Patrick Square” is made to say, “Do tak' a wee peep be'ind that door, and see an there be'nt a huge lump O a de'el snuken there, ready till pop out and mak' his grab on us,” where “an” is a corruption of “and,” and “see an there be'nt” means precisely “see if there be not.” The same Patrick vows (pg. 40) to print the dialogue, “an I hae till sell me two fellies, an the croomply horn cow, till pay the printer”-----that is, “if I have to sell my two fillies,” etc.

But more. As unaccountable as it may be to us that “and” should be used for “if,” it is perhaps even more so that the two words should sometimes be joined together, still meaning simply “if.” George Joye, who often uses the simple “and” to mean “if,” as often uses “and if” in the same sense. In the treatise on Adultery, fol. E.viii. verso, “But and yf the sick despyse the holsome medicyne, beyinge a putryfyed member, then Ihon Baptiste and Christ commaunde such trees to be cut doune and cast into the fyer,” where “but and yf” means simply “but if.” Again in fol. F.i. verso, “But & yf I forgeue my brother steling my horse or oxe, yet shal not my forgeuenes deliuer him from the ciuil iugement & from the galows,” where “But & yf” means simply “but if.”

In A Fourteenth Century English Biblical Version, edited by Anna C. Paues and published by Cambridge University Press in 1904, we read in Ephesians 4:20-21, “Bote 3e haueþ not so y-lernyd Crist; & 3if ye han y-herd hym, & beþ y-tau3t in hym, as trewþe is in Iesu,” where “& 3if” (“and if”) means simply “if.”

Tyndale has in Genesis 24:5, “what and yf the woman will not agree to come with me,” where Coverdale has “What and the woman wyl not folowe me.” Tyndale's “and yf,” and Coverdale's “and” both mean simply “if.”

In Luke 15:4 Coverdale has, “What man is he amonge you, that hath an hundreth shepe, and yf he loose one of them”----where Tyndale and the other early versions have simply “if.”

“But and if” is common in the early English versions, usually following Tyndale. A few examples from Tyndale must suffice:

Gen. 20:7----But and yf thou delyuer her not agayne, &c.

Ex. 23:22----But and yf thou shalt herken vnto his voyce, &c.

Deut. 25:7----But and yf the man will not take his syster-law, &c.

I Tim. 3:14----but and yf I tarie longe, &c.

I John 1:7----but and yf we walke in lyght, &c.

In all these “but and if” means simply “but if.” The same is true in those places where the rendering has been retained in the common version.


My Personal Update on Modern Christianity

by the editor

Among the papers which this editor receives unsolicited is the Personal Update, being “The News Journal of Koinonia House,” Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, edited by Chuck and Nancy Missler. This is a typical modern evangelical publication, oriented to political issues, prophecy, current events, “the Nephilim,” the planet Mars, and the usual evangelical agenda. We do not know why it is sent to us, for the editors might have guessed that we, as editor of Olde Paths and Ancient Landmarks, might be too old-fashioned to relish the ways of such a plurality of editors. But however that may be, we received today our Personal Update for August, 1997. Reading the first two sentences of the paper, in “A Letter from the Editors,” we find:

“Our conference on `The Christian View of UFOs' in Roswell was a blast. We received visibility in the New York Times and on many of the major networks.”

It is hard to guess where we are to find any Christianity in this, whether in the “view of UFOs,” in the “blast,” or in the coveted “visibility.” This is all at the opposite pole from the Christianity of the apostles. Paul tells us that God had set forth the apostles last, being persecuted, hungry, homeless, and destitute, but he says nothing of having a blast. We suppose indeed that the apostles had enough seriousness in their Christianity as to have no desire to have a “blast.” Frankly, this editor is personally so outdated as to have no desire to be updated. We cleave to the old paths, and the more we see of modern Christianity, the less we want of it.

Editorial Policies

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