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Vol. 7, No. 12
Dec., 1998

The Ways of God & the Ways of the Devil

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on September 6, 1998

by Glenn Conjurske

I hope to preach during the millennium. I expect to reign with Christ. To reign means to enforce the law, but I hope to do more than merely enforce the law. I hope to move the people who are committed to my charge to submit to Christ not merely because they have to, but because they want to. We know that all who live in the kingdom will be outwardly subject to Christ, but many of them will not be subject in heart. When the devil is released at the end of Christ's reign, and goes out to deceive the nations once more, he will find a large and ready following, from among those who have previously submitted outwardly to Christ. If God says to me, “Be thou over three cities,” I aim to move the people of my charge to be subject to Christ in heart as well as outwardly. How will I do that? The same way I aim to do it here, by preaching the ways of God and the ways of the devil.

We are saved by faith. Faith is not a mere belief of some historical facts concerning Christ or his death. It includes that, now that such facts exist, but saving faith was a reality long before Christ died, and before he was born, and so long before there were any such facts to believe. And saving faith was of exactly the same nature then as it is now. Abraham never “accepted Christ as his personal Saviour.” There was as yet no Christ to accept. But he was justified by faith, and it was the same sort of faith as justifies us today. It is a belief in the nature and character of God. It is confidence in God, and such confidence as moves us to choose his ways. The key word in the faith chapter of the Bible is “better.” Faith apprehends God and his ways as better than the devil and his ways. It therefore chooses the ways of God, and walks in them. Though they may be difficult, faith perceives them to be actually and eternally better, and therefore embraces them from the heart. Faith so views them because it understands them, and I believe the first and foremost method of begetting faith in the children of men is simply to preach to them the ways of God, and also the ways of the devil. When we understand those ways, it plainly appears that the ways of God are better.

But we must understand that faith looks to “the recompense of the reward.” Faith looks to “the end of the Lord.” Faith looks to the future, for its present portion may be very grievous. “Better” is the key word of Hebrews 11, but one of the most obvious facts of that chapter is that the better portion of faith does not belong to the present, but to the future. For the present, faith may well expect a worse portion----the reproach of Christ and affliction with his people, in place of the pleasures of sin and the treasures of Egypt. Wandering in deserts and mountains, and dwelling in dens and caves of the earth. Persecution, torment, and death. The better thing belongs to the life to come. I know that “the way of transgressors is hard,” and it is surely legitimate to preach to drunkards and harlots and jail-birds that they may have a better portion even in this life. Godliness has a promise of this life, as well as of that which is to come, but that promise is a narrow one. Even the “hundred fold now in this time,” which God has promised, comes only “with persecutions.” (Mark 10:30). The devil's promises for the present life are as expansive as the broad way, taking in all the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

As a matter of fact, the way of God is a difficult one, while the ways of the devil are easy. God requires self-denial. The devil preaches self-indulgence. God requires us often to wait for the needs of our hearts. The devil offers us what we want now. But faith regards neither the good nor the evil of the present, but looks always to the end of the way. “The end tries all,” as an old proverb says, and this is the certain dictate of reason. Of what consequence is a pleasant way, if the end is evil? Of what consequence is a difficult way, if the end is eternal glory? Unbelief looks at the present, and sacrifices the future to secure it. Faith beholds the future, and sacrifices the present to secure that. Faith alone is reasonable.

Now the ways of God and the ways of the devil are direct opposites. The devil gives us a pleasant way, and a bitter end. God gives us a thorny way, and a glorious end. Who that understands this can doubt for one moment that the way of God is better? Who can doubt that the narrow way of self-denial is better than the broad way of self-indulgence, if the narrow way leads to life, and the broad way leads to destruction? Faith perceives this, and believes it, and therefore chooses the narrow way and walks in it. That faith which remains in the broad way is the greatest delusion on earth. It is just faith in the devil, neither more nor less. It believes that the devil's way is better than God's, and therefore chooses it and walks in it. And if it believes that by the grace of God or the death of Christ it shall find heaven at the end of the broad way, this is no faith at all, except faith in the devil's lie. God said to Adam in the garden, “Ye shall surely die.” God says at the present day by Paul, “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die.” The devil says, “Ye shall not surely die”----though ye eat the forbidden fruit, live after the flesh, walk in the broad way of self-indulgence, and refuse the narrow way of self-denial which Christ has commanded. “Ye shall not surely die.” Many would drag in the grace of God here, as contrasted with the law, and actually use the grace of God to confirm the devil's lie, but the matter in hand has nothing to do with the difference between law and grace. Paul says, “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Rom. 2:12). With or without the law, they “sinned.” This gives us the history of their lives in one word. And with or without the law, they shall perish. They walked in the broad way, and they shall surely find destruction at the end of it. That “faith” which trusts in Christ for eternal life, while it chooses the broad way, and walks in it, is precisely faith in the devil's lie, and miserable unbelief in the truth of God, who said “Ye shall surely die.”

Genuine faith in God, on the other hand, believes not only what God says, but believes in what he is. It apprehends the bitter prescription of God to be better than the sweet one of the devil, for it verily believes that “the end of the Lord” is better than either the way or the end of the devil. It must be better, if God is God, however narrow and rugged the path which leads to it. So reckons genuine faith, and so it chooses the narrow, rugged way.

This is what must be preached if we are to bring men to faith. They must understand the way of God to be better. This is the essence of faith.

But understand, the devil is a preacher also. I have often preached here on “The Devil's Message”----his two-point message, which he preached to Eve in the garden, consisting of 1.”Sin is good,”----”good for food, pleasant to the eyes, to be desired”----and 2.”You can get away with it”----”Ye shall not surely die.” This message was successful the first time the devil preached it, and he has been preaching nothing but this ever since. Both halves of the devil's message are lies, of course, and real faith believes neither one of them.

But I want you to understand that the devil is more than a preacher. He is a salesman. He is the master salesman, the master of the art of advertising, and he has a million students and disciples the whole world over. He showed himself the master salesman in the garden of Eden. He preached all the glories of the product (the forbidden fruit), and said never a word about the cost, except to lie about it. I got a catalog in the mail the other day, full of the glories of the merchandise, and not a word about the cost of it. I threw it away in disgust, as I always do. The first thing I want to know is not what I will gain in taking this product, but what it will cost me. Eve would have been of the same mind if she had been wise. Her first question would have been, “What will it cost me to eat of the forbidden fruit?” But she did not concern herself with that. She was taken by the devil's sales talk. The fruit was good for food. It was pleasant to the eyes. It was a tree to be desired to make one wise. The cost was far from her mind. The devil denied that there was any cost, and she believed him.

The way of the Lord is exactly the reverse of this. He calls upon us to count the cost at the outset. He plainly tells us what the cost is----the cost of both the broad way and the narrow way. On the one side, the loss of our souls. Eternal damnation. On the other side, hating and losing our lives. Self-denial and poverty, persecution and reproach.

But understand, there was something to gain as well as something to lose in eating the forbidden fruit. There is always something to gain as well as something to lose, whether we follow the Lord or the devil. The difference is just this, that the gain in the devil's way is small and transitory, while the loss incurred is great and eternal, whereas the loss in the way of the Lord is light and temporary----”our light affliction, which is but for a moment”----while the gain is great and eternal----”an eternal weight of glory.” But the devil gives the gain first, and the loss later----and keeps the loss out of sight if he can, for he is a liar. God requires the loss first, and holds the gain in reserve.

And as is the devil, so is his kingdom. As are the ways of the devil, so are the ways of the world. The advertising of the world is, in general, a perfect epitome of the ways of the devil. In the first place, a great deal of it consists of lying. The advertiser is the last man on earth to believe concerning the character or worth of his goods. But even where it is all true, it is still an epitome of the ways of the devil.

First, the undoubted tendency of advertising is to promote self-indulgence. It appeals generally to “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” rarely to our reason or our conscience. It concentrates upon our gain in using the product, not upon its cost. Much of it solicits us to “buy on time,” to “buy now, and pay later.” This is the very essence of the way of the devil. He comes to us with all the pleasures of sin and luxury, and invites us to indulge now, though we know we must pay later. The devil, liar that he is, denies that we must pay at all. The world's advertisers will never come to that, for it is precisely our money which they want, but they commonly represent the cost as small and distant.

One more thing I want you to understand. The devil had something to offer to Eve. He offered the pleasures of sin. The pleasures of sin are real, though transitory. He offered her the pleasure of self-gratification, but we should understand that the mere pleasure of tasting the forbidden fruit was but a small part of Eve's gratification. She had fruits enough to taste and swallow, that she could have done without this one, and never missed it----except for curiosity. The devil occupied her mind with the forbidden fruit till her curiosity was aroused, and the gratification of that curiosity was no doubt a much stronger motive than the gratification of her taste buds. Thus the devil tempts, and thus the world advertises. Some years ago I used to see everywhere an advertisement which featured a little cigarette walking around saying, “Taste me, taste me, taste me.” This was to arouse men's curiosity. To this the devil appeals also, and by means of the insatiable curiosity of the human race, he draws them into sin.

God does not appeal to our curiosity. He requires us to deny ourselves, and to deny our curiosity as well as our lusts. He requires us to wait, while the devil invites us to indulge. He requires us indeed to permanently do without the pleasures of sin, and never gratify our curiosity at all, while the devil invites us to freely indulge it. This appeal to our curiosity is one of the devil's most effective forms of temptation, but we overcome it precisely by faith----by the faith which steadfastly holds that the way of God is better. He who believes this has no compulsion to gratify his curiosity in the pleasures of sin. He who believes that the way of God is better is content never to know the pleasures of sin at all, though he knows there is pleasure in sin. Though the devil is a liar, he preaches some truth. When he preaches that there is pleasure in sin, he preaches the truth, though he may represent the pleasure as greater than it is, and the cost as smaller. But we may grant all that the devil says concerning the pleasures of sin, and yet tread those pleasures under our feet, if we have the faith which holds that the way of the Lord is better. While the devil preaches self-indulgence, the Lord preaches self-denial, and faith chooses the latter, fully believing that the self-denial which God preaches is better than the self-indulgence which the devil preaches, precisely because it is the Lord who preaches it. This is the essence of faith.

The message of God, then, and the message of the devil are diametrically opposed. But the thing which I want you to observe is much deeper than this. The difference does not lie merely in the manner in which God and the devil preach their respective ways, but in those ways themselves. As simply as I can put it, the difference is this. The devil's way consists of a present and temporary pleasure at an eternal cost. God's way consists of a present and temporary cost, for an eternal pleasure. The way of God is better, and the measure of its superiority lies in how much better God is than the devil. This is exactly what faith lays hold of----the faith of Hebrews 11----and it can never hesitate a moment as to which way is better. That faith therefore moves Abraham to forsake all, and to go out, not knowing whither he goes. It moves Moses to forsake Egypt, and refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. It puts the Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, and Daniel in the lions' den. It puts others in the dens and caves of the earth. It moves others to submit to be tortured, and to refuse the deliverance which is offered to them, for their eye is fixed not on the present and temporary cost, but on the future and eternal recompense of the reward----upon the better resurrection. All these by faith gladly embraced the present and temporary cost, for the sake of the future and eternal pleasure.

But you may perceive that there is generally no cost at all in the faith of modern Christianity. Many explicitly preach that there is no cost at all. It plainly appears, then, that the faith of Hebrews 11 and the faith of the modern church are two different things. The faith of the modern church is not the faith of Hebrews 11, but of I Corinthians 4----that carnal faith, which is full and rich, and reigns as kings without Christ, instead of suffering with him. The faith of Hebrews 11, the faith of all the saints of God in all ages, calls us all outside the camp, to bear the reproach of Christ, and to suffer with him a little while in the present, that we might reign with him forever.

Alas, the present age has discovered a better way than either God's or the devil's. The discovery has produced a mongrel gospel, preached by the majority of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists all over this land, which is neither the way of God nor the way of the devil, but a mixture of the two. It takes the easy and the pleasant from both, and weds them together in a false gospel----a gospel which gives us both the present pleasure which the devil offers, without its future cost, and the eternal pleasure which God offers, without the present cost of that----a gospel which gives us both the pleasures of sin and the pleasures for evermore at God's right hand----a gospel which gives us the portion of the rich man while we live, and the portion of Lazarus when we die----a gospel which gives us the broad road of ease and self-indulgence here, and life eternal there. It gives us, in fact, a broad road which leads to eternal life. If this is not the devil's gospel, what is? It is in fact the devil's lie. And faith in this lie is mistaken for the faith of the gospel.

The modern gospel does not exactly give us the pleasures of sin, but it fails altogether to take them away from us. That self-denial which was preached by the Lord as the first condition of discipleship, which was required of Eve even in the garden of Eden, which made the patriarchs pilgrims and strangers on the earth, which made the prophets of God prisoners and martyrs, and which makes overcomers of all the saints in all ages----this self-denial has no place in the modern gospel. It is optional at best. I understand that no one preaches that we ought to walk in the broad way, but many preach that we may. Some preach this explicitly, and many others preach it by implication. But you should understand that the present self-denial is as much a part of the way of the Lord as the future recompense of the reward. You should understand also that present self-indulgence is as much a part of the devil's way as the future punishment. The broad way of self-indulgence and self-will leads ever and only to destruction. The narrow way of self-denial and submission to Christ leads to life. The one is the way of God. The other is the way of the devil. Those who take the devil's way must take all of it----the future cost as well as the present pleasure. Those who take the way of the Lord must take all of it----the present cost as well as the future pleasure. God has joined these things together, and woe be to the man who dares to put them asunder.


o Old - Time Revival Scenes o

Revival Among the Indians under David Brainerd

On the 6th, in the morning, I discoursed to the Indians at the house where we lodged. {Many of them were much affected, and appeared surprisingly tender; so that a few words about the concerns of their souls would cause the tears to flow freely, and produce many sobs and groans}----and in the afternoon, at the place where I have usually preached to them. There appeared nothing very remarkable till near the close of my discourse, and then divine truths were attended with a surprising influence. There were scarce three out of forty that could refrain from tears and bitter cries. They all, as one, seemed in an agony of soul to obtain an interest in Christ: and the more I discoursed of the love of God, in sending his Son to suffer for the sins of men, and invited them to come and partake of his love, the more their distress was aggravated, because they felt themselves unable to come. It was surprising to see how their hearts seemed to be pierced with the tender and melting-invitations of the gospel.-------Two persons this day obtained relief and comfort, which, when I came to discourse with them particularly, appeared solid, rational, and scriptural. Being asked what they wanted God to do further for them, they replied, in their vulgar way, “They wanted Christ should wipe their hearts quite clean,” &c.-------August 7th, Preached from Isa. liii.3,----10. Most were much affected, and many in great distress for their souls, and some few could neither go nor stand, but lay flat on the ground, crying incessantly for mercy.-------August 8th, Preached to them again from Luke xiv.16,----23. Their number was now about sixty-five. There was much visible concern among them while I was preaching; but afterwards, when I spoke more particularly to one and another, whom I perceived to be under much concern, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly like a rushing mighty wind, and with an astonishing energy bore down all before it. I stood amazed at the influence which seized the audience almost universally, and could compare it to nothing more aptly than the irresistible force of a mighty torrent, or swelling deluge, which with insupportable weight and pressure sweeps before it whatever is in its way. Almost all persons of whatever age were bowed down with concern together, and scarce one was able to withstand the shock of this surprising operation. Old men and women, who had been drunken wretches for many years, and some little children, not more than six or seven years of age, appeared in distress for their souls, as well as persons of middle age. The most stubborn hearts were now obliged to bow. A principal man among them, who before was secure and self-righteous, because he knew more than the generality of the Indians, was now brought under solemn concern for his soul, and wept bitterly. Another man in years, who had been a murderer, a powow, or conjurer, and a notorious drunkard, was brought now to cry for mercy with many tears, and to complain he could be no more concerned though in so great danger.----------They were almost universally praying and crying for mercy in every part of the house, and many out of doors, and numbers could neither go nor stand. {Their concern was so great, each one for himself, that} None seemed to take notice of those about them, but each prayed as freely for themselves, as if they had been every one by themselves in the closest retirement; Zech. xii.10,11,12.-------This concern, in general, seemed most rational. Those who had been awakened long before, complained chiefly of the badness of their hearts, and those newly awakened, of the badness of their lives and actions. Those who had lately obtained relief, were filled with comfort, and seemed to rejoice in Christ Jesus: and some of them took their distressed friends by the hand, telling them of the goodness of Christ, and the comfort that is to be enjoyed in him, and invited them to come and give up their hearts to him. Others in the most honest and unaffected manner were lifting up their eyes to heaven, as if crying for mercy for the distressed ones around them.-------One remarkable instance I cannot let pass; a young Indian woman, who, I believe, never before so much as knew she had a soul, called at my lodging, and when I told her I intended presently to preach, laughed, and seemed to mock; but, before I concluded, she was so convinced of her sin and misery, that she seemed like one pierced through with a dart, and cried out incessantly. She could neither go nor stand, nor sit without being held up. After public service, she lay along, praying earnestly; and the burden of her prayer was, Giittummàukaliimmèh wèchaiimèh kmelèh Ndah, i.e. “Have mercy on me, and help me to give you my heart.” And thus she continued incessantly praying many hours. It was indeed a surprising day of God's power, and seemed enough to convince an atheist of the truth, importance and power of God's word.

B. F. Westcott Again on the Greek Text of the Revised Version

In my former article on this subject I invited my readers to put a different construction upon Westcott's words if they could. None have ventured to suggest one. I, however, am obliged to suggest one myself. Not that I think any other construction is possible on his words as they stood in the source from which I quoted them. But since writing that article I have seen Westcott's own published version of what purports to be the same speech, and this bears but little resemblance to that which I quoted from the Guardian. I give both versions below. That in the left column is from the report of the proceedings of Convocation, as it appeared in the Guardian, Feb. 24, 1892, pg. 261. That in the right column is from Westcott's book Lessons from Work, published in 1901, pp. 164-165.

I must say that again and again I endeavoured to carry out the instructions which I had received, and to adopt the reading for which there was a clear preponderance of evidence, though in my own mind I was perfectly satisfied that that was not the true reading; but in doing so I felt I was only loyal to my commission. ... The fact was that the text which was adopted in the revision represented the view which gave the average of opinion; in other words, each, in accordance with our instruction, commended preponderance of opinion to those who were giving attention to the subject. I absolutely decline to hold myself responsible for the text of the Revised Version except so far as I have endeavoured to indicate. I must, however, emphatically decline to accept the title which has been given me as “one of the editors of the text.” I certainly have paid some attention to textual criticism, and I have very distinct opinions as to the special problems offered by the text of the New Testament; but the text of the Revisers does not represent the peculiarities of my own personal opinion. The variations from the received text which the Revisers adopted, for they did not form any continuous text, are, speaking generally, those on which all scholars who think that the text of the Apostolic writings must be dealt with on the same critical principles as classical texts would substantially agree. Again and again I declined to propose or to support a change of reading which I held myself to be unquestionably true, because it was not recommended by that general consensus of scholars which I felt bound to seek in loyal obedience to my commission.

It would be impossible, from their content, to guess that these two extracts are from the same speech, but the sources from which I take them assure me that they are. One of two things is true here. Either the reporter of the proceedings of Convocation rewrote Westcott's speech, and badly garbled it too, or Westcott himself rewrote it when he published it nine years later. Either alternative is likely enough, and neither is it at all unlikely that both are true. It is possible, too, that both versions are abridged, and that Westcott actually voiced the contents of both.

At any rate, according to the report in the Guardian, Westcott often held the true text to be that which stood against the preponderance of forensic evidence. According to the version which he published himself, he often held the true text to stand against the consensus of critical opinion. The latter is perhaps the more probable of the two, for we suppose that Westcott generally held Codex B to be of itself more weighty “evidence” than all other evidence combined.

The later version also throws a flood of light on the puzzling “commended preponderance of opinion” of the earlier version. When I first read that expression I could make no sense of it. I supposed it might be a mere mistake in speech, or a garbled report of what was said, for it did not then occur to me that Mr. Westcott could have so far mistaken the issue as to have actually meant “commended preponderance of opinion.” That, however, is apparently exactly what he did mean, according to his own published version of it. He supposed his commission debarred him from departing from that text “on which all scholars ... would substantially agree.” He was thus guilty, on his own showing, of that which Burgon imputes to Bishop Ellicott with such telling effect, namely, of confusing modern opinion with ancient evidence. When the commission of Convocation spoke of the “preponderance of evidence,” it certainly meant ancient forensic evidence, and not modern critical opinion. For Westcott, therefore, to suppose he would have been disloyal to his commission if he had contradicted the “consensus of scholars” indicates a singular inability to understand what the issue was.

But enough. I would not knowingly misrepresent anyone, however I may dissent from his spirit or his opinions. If I have misrepresented Westcott, it was by taking at face value what were published as his own words. The reader now has both versions of the speech in his hands, and may judge for himself.

Proof-Text Theology

by Glenn Conjurske

I believe that most of the theology which now exists in the church may properly be called proof-text theology. It does not stand upon a deep or broad understanding of Scripture as a whole. It does not stand upon a knowledge of the nature of God, the nature of sin, the nature of the world, or the nature of the soul and spirit of man, but only upon a few isolated proof texts, and this very often at the expense of other texts equally explicit. It is often at the expense of common sense also, and at the expense likewise of the general tenor of Scripture.

One of the most patent examples of such a use of the Bible appeared in the missionary movement of the nineteenth century, when it was very common for men to preach missionary sermons on “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.” (Psalm 2:8). This verse was the banner of the movement, and the conversion of the world was confidently expected on its authority, while those who used it thus remained entirely oblivious to the import of the very next verse, which says, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” But the real difficulty lay in the fact that they were ignorant of the whole prophetic scheme of Scripture, and equally ignorant of the character and course of this world, being blinded by the dreams of post-millennialism. Now the plain fact is, those who thus use the Bible may prove anything they please from it, and they could doubtless hold the same doctrines which they now do, and prove them equally well from the Book of Mormon or the Canterbury Tales, if they were to use those books in the same manner as they do the Bible.

Proof-text theology, then, actually stands in the way of any understanding of the Bible as a whole. It is the bulwark of ignorance, of laziness, of arrogance, and of belligerence. It is the common method of the cults, and the very life of the Jehovah's Witnesses. They know very little of the Bible, and nothing of its spirit or tenor. They know only a few proof texts. To these they flee in every discussion, to these they tenaciously cling, and to these they sacrifice their minds and their common sense. I once talked with a woman who had studied for years with the Jehovah's Witnesses, but told me that she had perceived the error of their system, and had left them. I asked her how she perceived their error. She said, “I went beyond the few verses they gave me, and launched out into the rest of the Bible.”

But in this respect the Jehovah's Witnesses differ not one whit from the most of the Fundamentalists. The theology is different, to be sure, but the method is the same. When Curtis Hutson was confronted with a text of Scripture which required repentance, righteousness, or holiness, he would simply flee to Ephesians 2:8 & 9, quote that, and say in effect, “There. That settles it. Faith is the only requirement.” 'Tis hard to guess what he might have supposed the rest of the Bible was written for. He obviously never suspected that his interpretation of his proof text might have been mistaken, or that his understanding of the nature of faith might have been shallow or deficient.

When other Fundamentalists are confronted with any text of Scripture which speaks of works, they fly immediately to John 6:29, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” By this they ward off all those unorthodox texts of Scripture which would intrude into their sacred and comfortable orthodoxy. This clinging to a few favorite texts, on any theological theme, is a tell-tale sign of the existence of a proof-text theology. This is shallow theology. It is theology which may flourish in full bloom while we remain ignorant of almost everything in the Bible. It is theology made easy, and it is usually false theology also. I have observed for many years that whenever we are obliged to resort continually to one text in order to explain many others, this is an almost certain sign that our theology is false.

By this means we may prove anything we please from the Bible, from soul-sleep to limited atonement to the annihilation of the wicked. One of the favorite proof texts of the Jehovah's Witnesses is Psalm 146:4----”His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” By this they prove that the man's thinking ceases when he dies, apparently never suspecting that “thoughts” might refer to his plans or purposes, and apparently caring nothing about a hundred other texts which stand against their theory. They can also prove that the soul is the body, by quoting Numbers 19:13, “Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead,” where “body” is the Hebrew Lô†ð, which ordinarily means “soul.” By this and a few similar texts they set aside a hundred other texts, explicit and implicit, which distinguish the soul from the body.

But in this the Jehovah's Witnesses differ nothing from the Calvinists. The doctrines are different, but the method is the same. Calvinists will prove limited atonement by such texts as Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity,” as though “us” must certainly mean us only, a construction which is as unnecessary as it is unnatural, and which is certainly false, for it stands in direct contradiction of such plain statements as I Timothy 2:6, which says he “gave himself a ransom for all.”

But such a method was not born with modern Fundamentalism. Martin Luther showed himself master of it when he met with Zwingli to discuss the nature of the Lord's supper. Before the discussion began he took a piece of chalk and wrote on the table before him, Hoc est corpus meum, (”This is my body”), and to this he held fast, maugre all the dictates of common sense, all the arguments of sound reason, all the tears of Zwingli, and all the rest of Scripture.

The King James Only folks stand also upon a few proof texts, and those of course misinterpreted, while they understand little of either the ways of God or the responsibility of man. They might know very well from Scripture, history, and common observation that man corrupts everything he touches----corrupts every gift which God has given----and that God allows him to do so, and works no miracles to prevent it. An understanding of the ways of God in general would surely keep them from their misinterpretation of their proof texts.

Others hold the necessity of baptism, or the right kind of baptism, for salvation, on the basis of two or three proof texts. But what then will they do with Whitefield and the Wesleys, with Luther and Tyndale, with Jerry McAuley and Sam Hadley, not to mention a great host of men of the same stamp? Those who will consign such men to hell because they lacked the true baptism know nothing at all of the nature and ways of God.

It would be wrong to imply, however, that the doctrines which are sustained by means of proof texts are necessarily false. Certainly not. The truth may be supported in this way as well as error, but the theology which stands upon such a foundation will be very shallow, though it may be true so far as it goes. Whatever is true in it is confined to a few of the most elementary facts of Scripture, while the ways of God and the general tenor of Scripture remain little known. The doctrine may be true, but it is of little worth.

Many hold, for example, on the basis of a few proof texts, the “tripartite nature of man,” or, in plain English, that man consists of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. The doctrine is true, but very shallow, and of no practical worth, for most of those who hold it haven't the remotest notion of what the difference may be between the soul and the spirit. To them the doctrine is merely an intellectual curiosity. It aids them nothing in understanding the difference between sin and sins, between inclination and volition, between personality and character, between true religion and false, or between masculine and feminine natures. There is very little difference, practically, between their theology and that which equates the soul and the spirit.

But we must understand also that true theology must in fact stand upon proof texts, though not merely upon proof texts, and especially not upon a few favorite proof texts, in the absence of an understanding of the Bible as a whole. My own article on the soul and the spirit, published some time ago, consists almost entirely of proof texts, but it is the result of years of experience, observation, consultation, and meditation. Proof texts we must have, but mere proof texts, especially if we have but few of them, and have them in the absence of a general understanding of the whole revelation of God, will rather prove a snare than otherwise. If we have misinterpreted our proof texts, they will stand in the way of our knowing the truth at all. But even if we understand our proof texts aright, our adherence to them as the foundation of our theology is likely to stand in the way of a deeper understanding of the truth which we know.

The whole church of God believes in salvation by faith, on the basis of proof texts, but it would be a rare thing to find a modern Fundamentalist who could tell you how or why it is----or indeed what it is. Zane Hodges contends strongly for salvation by faith, on the basis of proof texts, but he knows extremely little of what faith is, or for that matter, what salvation is. He reduces faith to a mere belief of facts, and saving faith to a belief of certain historical “salvific” facts----facts, by the way, which Enoch and Abraham never knew----and so virtually equates faith with knowledge, thus making the difference between the saved and the lost an intellectual one rather than a moral one. All of this stands directly against the universal language and the general tenor of Scripture, which everywhere makes the difference between the saved and the lost a moral one, calling them the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly, and saints and sinners. Mr. Hodges' proof texts, then, have done but little for him. They have taught him the bare truth of salvation by faith, but have left him almost entirely destitute of any understanding of the matter. Most of modern Fundamentalism is in exactly the same condition. Some of it holds a doctrine which is not so false as that of Hodges, but which is just as shallow.

The fact is, the nature of faith is not to be learned from a few proof texts in the New Testament epistles. It is to be learned from the third chapter of Genesis and the sixth chapter of Joshua, for Eve fell by unbelief, and Rahab was saved by faith. The great faith chapter of the book of Hebrews directs us continually to the acts and ways of the Old Testament saints. There we learn the nature of faith. A few New Testament proof texts, without a thorough knowledge of the whole Bible, are more likely to lead us astray than otherwise.

The close and intellectual study of Scripture is much to be blamed here. Most of those who know Greek and Hebrew would be better off if they didn't. They delve deeply into the study of particular texts and words and phrases before they have gained any real understanding of the general tenor of the whole book, and they are almost certain to err. They cannot see the forest for the trees. The most hair-brained notions imaginable are habitually extracted from the Greek and the Hebrew, notions which would be seen to be false at first glance to anyone who knew the ways of God and the tenor of Scripture. I may illustrate this by the following scene:

A large painting hangs on a wall. We may allow the whole painting to represent the whole Bible, while each detail of the picture represents some particular phrase or text of Scripture. In the center of the picture stands some square thing, concerning which there is much difference of opinion. Three men stand minutely studying it with spectacles, magnifying glasses, and strong search lights. One is convinced it is a television set. The second contends it is a microwave oven, while the third supposes it to be a computer. Three systems of interpretation are based upon this, all of them precariously poised as a pyramid upon its apex, but each man stoutly contends for his own interpretation, which is the fruit of his own toil and his own spectacles. A fourth man arrives on the scene, with no spectacles and no search lights. He engages in no minute micrology concerning the square thing, but stands across the room and surveys the whole picture. When he has done this, he announces that the square thing is neither television nor microwave nor computer, for the picture is a log cabin scene, from the days of the pioneers. If he is asked what the square thing is, he can only say, “I don't know. Maybe a bread box. Maybe something I have never seen or heard of. Whatever it is, it must be something which fits the whole picture.”

And so it is with every text of Scripture, but the proof-text method knows very little of this. It knows too little of the general tenor of Scripture to base anything upon it. It takes its favorite texts as isolated units, regardless of the whole picture. There is not necessarily any dishonesty in this, but only ignorance of the general tenor of Scripture----ignorance of the nature of God, of man, and of sin----ignorance of the nature of faith and the nature of the world----ignorance of the ways of God and the ways of the devil.

We do not mean to imply that theology ought not to stand on proof texts, only that it ought not to stand merely on proof texts. It must be borne in mind that Enoch and Abraham walked with God, though they had no written revelation at all. They had only a broad and general revelation of God, but this, coupled with meditation and faith and obedience, enabled them actually to know God, and to walk with him, the same as our more detailed and specific revelation enables us to do. And I apprehend that the fact that they could know God and walk with him in the absence of any written revelation has something to say to us. It ought not to teach us to neglect the written revelation, but it ought to teach us something concerning the proper use of it. It is the broad general scope of God's revelation which we need, and without that proof texts are rather a snare than otherwise.

By means of proof texts men may prove anything they please from the Bible, and the proof-text method suits Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists as well as it does the orthodox. “The unjust knoweth no shame,” and we are not surprised to see the ungodly misuse the Bible without shame, but it is really difficult to account for it when we see the godly and the orthodox proving their favorite points by proof texts, when they know very well that there are texts equally explicit against them. The texts on the other side they ignore, suppress, or twist and wrest. Why are they not ashamed of this?

But I do not speak only of the deliberate misuse of particular texts of Scripture, against the testimony of other texts equally explicit. The remedy to that lies close at hand. The proof-text method itself will correct such abuses, if it is only employed consistently and honestly. The greater danger lies in a conscientious and honest use of proof texts, in ignorance of the scope of the Bible as a whole----in ignorance of what has been called, however inaptly, “the analogy of faith.” We see an excellent practical example of this in the following account:

“At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him, how he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Matt. 12:1-7).

The Pharisees could stand upon an explicit proof text, forbidding manual labor on the Sabbath, but they were ignorant of the broad principle that God will have mercy and not sacrifice----a principle which is established by a deeper understanding of the ways of God with men, as seen in such examples as David eating the shewbread, and the priests ministering on the Sabbath. They were apparently oblivious also to the principle of simple common sense, that “Necessity knows no law.” In ignorance of all this----in ignorance of the nature of God, the nature of man, and the nature of necessity----they could lay heavy burdens upon men, on the basis of certain proof texts. The texts were no doubt explicit enough, but when interpreted in a rigid or technical sense they were in fact misinterpreted. The most explicit and absolute statements in Scripture often allow of exceptions, for the language of Scripture is common, not technical. The book was not written for scholars and scientists, but for common men, and it speaks the language of common men. The rigidly technical and absolute interpretation of any part of it very frequently sets aside the spirit of the whole. Those who lay heavy burdens upon men, on the basis of various proof texts, however explicit, most often do injury to the nature of both God and man. Such are they, for example, who forbid to marry, and in some cases those who forbid to remarry.

But there is room for caution on both sides. Those who set aside the ways of God and the general tenor of Scripture in favor of certain proof texts are no doubt mistaken, but they are equally mistaken who set aside explicit texts in favor of a general principle of Scripture. This was the way of the old liberals, such as F. W. Farrar, who preached “the larger hope” on the basis of the mercy of God, directly in the teeth of many explicit texts of Scripture. The fact is, we must give due weight to both the individual texts and the general principles. The general principles themselves must stand upon nothing other than individual texts----though not merely upon a few isolated proof texts, but upon scores or hundreds of them, and those of diverse natures, including examples, types, didactic statements, commandments, promises, proverbs, prayers, prophecies, parables, and whatsoever else may bear upon the subject. In short, what we want is a thorough understanding of the whole Bible. Nothing short of this is a safe basis for doctrine. By means of a few proof texts, in the absence of that wider understanding, men may prove whatever they please----and most of them do so.

To conclude: one man uses the Bible as a seamstress sews on buttons. Another weaves it into all the warp and woof of the cloth. The former builds on proof texts, the latter on Scriptural principles. To the shallow and the ignorant, the former may appear to have much more of the Bible in his ministry, for it stands out prominently, as the buttons on a garment, and yet his whole theology may be a mass of shallow errors. He sews buttons everywhere. He cites proof texts for every point he makes, though most of them may be nothing to the purpose, and may in fact be no more than a multitude of buttons sewed on to hold together a hopelessly loose weave or a garment hopelessly torn. The other may have little occasion to cite proof texts, and yet the Bible permeates and pervades all that he says. He speaks the very language of Scripture. The thoughts and ways of God are the very warp and woof of his cloth. This is sound and solid theology, while the sewer of buttons may have only ignorance and delusion.

Missionary Commitment

As Seen in the Life of Sarah Comstock

[In these days of short-term missions, rapid travel, and the profusion of wealth which enables missionaries to circuit the globe almost at will, the church scarcely knows what missionary devotedness or commitment is. And in these days of the shallowness and worldliness of most of the missions work of the church, it may be well for us all to contemplate the sort of devotedness which made the missions movement what it was in the nineteenth century. When Sarah Comstock sailed from American shores in 1834, it was with the full conviction, squarely faced and often contemplated, that in so doing she was bidding farewell once and for all and for ever to her native place, her family, and her friends. The following extracts from her letters will set forth what kind of commitment she manifested under such circumstances----a commitment which was not only firm and unwavering, but joyful and triumphant. These extracts represent letters which cover her entire missionary career. They are taken from Memoir of Mrs. Sarah D. ComTock, Missionary to Arracan, by Mrs. A. M. Edmond; Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1854. Page numbers follow the quotations. ----editor.]

I wish to know all that my heavenly Father would have me to do; feeling at the same time a firm determination----firm beyond repentance----that every tie shall be severed, every trial surmounted, every sacrifice cheerfully made, that may come in contact with my duty. I know that this will inevitably subject me to many a painful and severe struggle with natural feelings; but in my covenant engagement I vowed to be the Lord's. Yes, “I have opened my mouth, and I cannot,” I WISH NOT, to “go back.” The pledge of entire consecration of all that I have and am, MUST be redeemed. (32-33).

But to come more directly to the subject I wish to introduce for your consideration. I have long, as you are aware, contemplated the “Missionary Enterprise” with intense interest. I have thought it might be my duty at some future time to engage personally in the glorious cause of man's salvation in heathen lands. I now feel that the time is come for me to decide whether Christ or my friends predominate in my affections. When I think of a separation, a final separation, for this world, from my dear parents, beloved brothers, an affectionate sister, and other endeared friends;----religious privileges too,----nature is disposed to say, It is too much to think of----too great a sacrifice. But can I do too much to express my love to that precious Saviour, who withheld not his own life for me? Ah, no! my parents will concur with me in saying I cannot. Now I wish to ask your full and free consent, to the only proof I have in my power to give, of my attachment to Christ----that of devoting my life, a sacrifice, if he require it, to his cause in foreign lands. I ask, that you will consider this subject prayerfully, and decide in view of the retributions of “the great day.” (33-34).

I hope my dear Parents will not infer from what I have written, that I am discontented or unhappy, for I really am not. I was never happier in my life. That we have trials and some hardships, which call for the exercise of patience and fortitude, I will not pretend to deny. But these trials are much less than I anticipated, and I feel pleasure in submitting to all that my father sees fit to inflict, that we may give the Bible to the perishing millions of Burmah. If suffering is a prerequisite to the emancipation of the heathen from the thraldom of superstition and idolatry,----I am willing to suffer as long as life lasts, to accomplish my part of the work, for I feel that my happiness is intimately connected with that of this degraded, wretched people. Trials and hardships I expected, when I decided to devote my poor, feeble efforts to the cause of degraded Burmah. (72).

And now, methinks, my dear parents are ready to ask, Is not Sarah satisfied with a Missionary life? Is she not now willing to return to her happy home----to the bosom of her friends----to the pleasures, conveniences and luxuries of civilized life? But my beloved parents, dear as you are to my heart, and highly as I prize these enjoyments; much as I value personal ease, and deprecate privation, I can give but one, and that a hearty answer, No! No! I do not, I can not, regret that I have entered on a life of toil and suffering for the sake of the poor heathen. When I have been suffering most, the work before me has appeared even more delightful, and the souls of the heathen more precious if possible, than during that hour which reported in heaven, my first solemn consecration of myself and mine to the cause of Burmah; and I have felt an indescribable peace, yea, joy in suffering for its sake. You know, my dear parents, I felt an assurance that God directed me to take the step I did take, on the evening of the first of January, 1833, and that this was the abiding conviction of my heart, while I remained with you. I am sure nought but a full, forcible conviction that I was doing the will of my Heavenly Father could have supported----yea cheered me during that never to be forgotten hour, in which I waved a last adieu to beloved friends, to you, my dear parents, and my brothers and sisters----and smiled a long and last 'farewell' to my native hills; and this same feeling has been my consolation on board ship, while “tossing to and fro unto the dawning of the day.” (74-75).

O I am happy, and long to be where I am to labor. If bliss can be found on earthly soil, I think it will be bliss to live, toil and die for the poor Burmans, and then to meet them in heaven. (77).

Mr. A----------has been extremely kind to us since we have been here, and is very desirous that we should stay with him through the rains; he says he shall be most happy to do any thing in his power for us, and we shall have all of one side of his house partitioned off for us, if we like; and, as another reason why we ought to stay, he says the little school-house will be very uncomfortable, and then we have no servants. O! how little does he appreciate the motives that induced us to leave our native land and dear friends. How little does he know of the feelings of our hearts! I suppose there are some in our native land, perhaps even among our dear friends, who would think us fortunate, and feel that we should gladly accept such an offer. But no! nothing could be more foreign to our wishes. His house would be a prison to us, were we obliged to remain in it. So much show, expense, and equipage, would but ill coincide with our feelings, or the object we have in view. No; we came to India expecting a life of toil and hardship; we were prepared for self-denial and suffering. We left our beloved friends, only that we might labor for the souls of dying heathen, and shall we be drawn aside from our purpose for the sake of ease and luxury? Shall we consent to live where the poor heathen would be excluded, or considered intruders? No! give me the little bamboo hut amid the natives, and give me a tongue to tell them of Jesus, and I'll ask no more. O, how I long to be engaged in the happy work! (82-83).

Language fails to describe the anguish I endured when called to part from my beloved home,----from you, my revered parents, and the endeared ones I had so long and fondly loved. But I must say, one day of such sweet, heavenly toil as this, more than compensates for all. Yes, let me here labor and die in such a cause, and I will envy not the affluent, wise, or honorable of this world. (93-94).

Though I sometimes feel sad, and perhaps a little discouraged, when I think how very, very little I have done since I came among the heathen, I know, and am persuaded, that my coming here was of God. He ordered and overruled most manifestly every thing in relation to it. And I do not, I have not, I never can, for an instant, regret that I left all dearest to my heart on earth. No; I only want to be more holy, that I may be more useful. (148).

I have been thinking a good deal of father this afternoon, and of your sermons, and comments on passages of Scripture, which I have so often listened to with pleasure. Sometimes the thought that I shall never more on earth behold your venerable countenance, nor listen to the voice of parental admonition, causes a moment's sadness, but no regret. No, though aware that when I left you, I lost a father's care, a father's counsel, and a father's home, yet conscience tells me, that in so doing, I performed a duty that I owed myself, the heathen, and my God. And I cannot REGRET it. I shall never more meet my dear father in the flesh; I shall no more sit beside him, and talk of earthly or of heavenly things. But shall I not see him face to face in glory? (170-171).

[The final test of Mrs. Comstock's commitment came when she and her husband determined (rightly or wrongly) that it was best to send their children back to America, rather than attempt to raise them amidst the polluting atmosphere of heathenism. She parted with them believing she would never see them again. Eugenio Kincaid, to whom they were committed for the voyage, thus describes the parting:]

“It was nearly dark when brother and sister Comstock were informed that we must be on board ship that night. It was a trying moment. Mrs. Comstock, taking her two children by the hand, walked with us a few yards. Here, gazing upon their upturned faces for a little time, she impressed upon their cheeks a mother's last kiss, and turning around, raised her hands, uttering in broken accents, 'This I do for Christ! this I do for the heathen!”' (190).

More Gems of Wisdom

From the Life & Death of Vavasor Powell

Thy hardest duty in Christianity is to deny self, and to destroy in.

Churches gathered in prosperity, will hardly stand or continue together in adverIity.

VVhen the Lord is trying his People, they hould be trying themselves.

Christians are apt to feel, and fear punihment more then in, which is the cause of it.

Gods People must expec in the VVorld, the entertainment of Strangers.

Labour to ac those graces cheifly that are most contrary to your master ins and cheif corruptions.

In two Cases tis hard to Ac Faith. 1. When there is nothing senible or viible to second, and support it, or 2. when there is very much to fil the outward senses.

It is a very common and ordinary thing for most or all Professors, to be in one or two extreams, either to over value, or under value Instruments, Creatures and Ordinances.

Be more thoughtful and careful how to use what you have, to Gods glory, then to gain more.

Learn to observe what God gives without asking, and what he gives in answer to Prayer for the one begets Thankfulness, the other more Prayer.

He that loves not a Reprover, and prizes not his reproof neither profits thereby, is more his ins then his Souls friend.

Learn to prefer Christ before self, and suffering above inning.

A Christian hould take heed least he be giving way to his Heart to steal out now and then to in, and get some sweet Bits thereof between duties.

There will be a reviveing of old ins, if there be not effecual repentance for them, and a care by Faith through all Duties and Ordinances to get new strength against them, and constant watch kept over them.

When God makes the World to hot for his People to hold, they will let it go.

Where in is not killed it will kill.

Sin hath no Mother but a mans Heart, nor Father but Satan.

Fear thy Freinds more then thy Foes, thy ins more then thy sufferings, and liberty more then bondage.

Some Christians have four Thorns that greive them, a Thorn of afflicion from God, a Thorn of persecution from men, and a Thorn of Temptation from Satan, and of corruption in themselves.

One of the cheifest works of the Soul, is self examination, and yet a Christian will find himself most backward thereto, and soonest weary therein.

Slothfulness is the Cradle of in which the Devil Rocks.

Christ will be soon sencible of those Saints sufferings that are sencible of their own ins.

Poverty is the gift [of] God, as well as Riches.

The great Principles and Misteries of Divinity, are to abide in God, to live on God, to walk with God, and to live to God.


The Position of F. H. A. Scrivener Again

by Glenn Conjurske

Shortly after printing my article on Scrivener (in the October issue) I found a letter written by him to Burgon's biographer, which is very much to the purpose. In this letter, after expressing his value for Burgon's friendship and his indebtedness to his labors, Scrivener writes,

“In principle I fully agree with him [Burgon] in believing that all existing materials of every kind ought to be known, before the text can be regarded as permanently fixed. But as a result of my own studies I do not expect so much help from the later copies of manuscripts, as from a thorough examination of the ante-Nicene Fathers (begun, not completed, by him). I reject Dr. Hort's baseless theories as earnestly as he does, and am glad to see they are not gaining ground. On the other hand, I think Burgon's wholesale disparagement of Cod. Vaticanus as 'the most corrupt of all copies,' quite unreasonable. On this head we have held many a conflict, without either of us yielding an inch. You will see that I stand midway between the two schools, inclining much more to Burgon than to Hort.”


1.He affirms his agreement in principle with Burgon, and that he rejects Hort's position as earnestly as Burgon himself. That is, he rejected that text founded primarily or exclusively on the old uncials, in favor of that which stood upon the whole of the evidence.

2.Though we are asked (by Gregory) to believe that he softened his public utterances in deference to Burgon, it is plain enough that in private he softened nothing----no, not when face to face with Burgon, having had “many a conflict” with him over the value of Codex B, and being as unyielding as Burgon himself.

3.We are not to suppose, however, that any of this indicates any change in Scrivener's position. He had written in the first edition of his Introduction (in 1861), “Those who agree the most unreservedly respecting the age of the Codex Vaticanus, vary widely in their estimate of its critical value. By some it has been held in such undue esteem that its readings, if probable in themselves, and supported (or even though not supported) by two or three other copies and versions, have been accepted in preference to the united testimony of all authorities besides: while others have spoken of its text as one of the most vicious extant. Without anticipating what must be discussed hereafter (Chap. VII.) we may say at once, that neither of these views can commend itself to impartial judges: that while we accord to Cod. B as much weight as to any single document in existence, we ought never to forget that it is but one out of many, several of them being nearly (and one quite) as old, and in other respects as worthy of confidence as itself.” This statement stands unaltered in all three of his editions, excepting only that the second and third editions alter “as worthy of confidence as itself” to “hardly less worthy of confidence than itself.”

4.It is evident that Scrivener uses the term “midway” loosely. He means only to say that he stands somewhere in the middle between Burgon and Hort, and certainly not to affirm that he stands exactly “midway” between them, for he immediately goes on to say, “leaning much more to Burgon than to Hort.”

5.Though it is wide of the purpose of this article, we may remark that we suppose Scrivener was mistaken in thinking Hort's “baseless theories” were not gaining ground. There can really be no doubt that the works of Burgon and Scrivener gave a temporary check to them, but there was a younger generation arising, lacking the depth, the wisdom, and the conservatism of these men, and Hort's theories were yet to triumph in such men as B. B. Warfield, F. C. Kenyon, and A. T. Robertson.

Wrong and Right, Moral and Technical

by Glenn Conjurske

It is a common thing for men to be technically right and morally wrong, and this is often so by design. Men exercise their wits and employ a great deal of ingenuity to find out ways by which they may do wrong while they persuade themselves that they are right. They maintain the letter of the law, while they violate its spirit and its intent. The instances in which a man may be morally wrong while he is technically right are innumerable, limited only by the ingenuity and the will of sinners. “Where there's a will there's a way,” and where men will to do wrong, and yet appear right, or pacify their own conscience about it, they will usually find ingenuity enough to invent a way. A man may tell the very truth with the intent to deceive. He tells the truth technically, but morally he lies. He tells the truth with his lips, but lies in his heart. Abraham was guilty of this when he said, “She is my sister.” She was his sister, and so far he spoke the truth, but the message which he meant to convey by it was, “She is not my wife,” and this was false.

I have heard of a couple engaged in an illicit romantic affair, including some degree of physical contact, who yet abstained from actual acts of adultery, and claimed that they were not guilty of it. They kept the barest letter of the law, but certainly violated its intent and spirit, and were certainly morally wrong, though they pacified their consciences by remaining technically innocent. Young couples engaged in a legitimate courtship often take the same course. They keep themselves technically innocent of fornication, but come as near it as they dare. But the fact is, whenever men walk as near the line as they can, without actually crossing it, they are morally wrong, though they may be technically right. When my oldest daughter had just learned to walk, she was of course surrounded by shelves full of books, but she was never allowed to touch them. There was a time when I saw her eyeing them, and evidently much tempted. I reminded her authoritatively, “No books.” She went directly to the bookshelf, deliberately reached out her index finger, and carefully touched the shelf, within a quarter inch of the books. She was technically right, but certainly morally wrong.

This is generally the case when men keep the letter of the law, while they violate its spirit. Their violation of its spirit is usually intentional. They are moved by some wrong passion, whether of lust or of pride. By “the law” I of course refer to the expressed will of God. Some there are who will do barely what God requires of them, and not a whit more. They may be technically right, but they are certainly morally wrong. Scripture, for example, forbids the wearing of gold and pearls. The woman who wishes to keep the spirit of the law will refrain also from silver and diamonds and emeralds----not to mention glass and plastic. She who keeps the bare letter of the law, abstaining from the use of gold and pearls only, but wearing all manner of other jewels, may be technically right, but she is morally wrong. The same scriptures forbid the “broiding” or “plaiting” of the hair. The woman who declines to braid her hair, but curls and waves and crimps and colors it, besides fashioning it into bee-hives and birds' nests, has certainly violated the spirit of the law, though she may keep the letter.

I once heard a man speaking of the scriptural commandment that we turn the other cheek. Said he, “If someone hits me on one cheek, I'll turn the other, as God requires, but if he hits that one also, he'll wish he hadn't.” This is to keep the letter of the law, while we violate its spirit, and this is to be morally wrong, though technically right.

Now to be morally wrong is to be wrong altogether. Right never stands on technicalities, nor on a submission to the bare terms of the commandment. The commandments of God as they stand are not exhaustive, but representative, and righteousness will always be found honoring their spirit, and not the bare letter.

But there is another side of the question. There are many instances in which we may be morally right while we are technically wrong----indeed, instances in which in order to be morally right we must be technically wrong. Paul was morally right when he called himself the chief of sinners, but he was doubtless technically wrong. Does anyone believe that Paul was literally and technically the greatest sinner on earth? Some, I suppose, will insist that he was, in order to bolster their antinomian gospel, but Paul was an eminently holy man, and for that reason viewed himself as the chief of sinners. He calls himself likewise less than the least of all saints. Does anyone believe this to be technically true? Does anyone suppose that Paul will have the lowest place in heaven? He was pre-eminent in holiness and humility, and therefore viewed himself as the least of the saints and the chief of sinners. This was morally right, though it was technically wrong.

Paul tells us also, every one of us, to esteem others better than ourselves. Now it seems evident that only the least and worst of the saints can do this and be always technically in the right, but we may all do it and be morally right, though technically wrong.

A man may be objectively and technically wrong to regard his own wife as the most beautiful and charming woman on earth, but he is morally right. A child may be far astray technically to regard his own mother as the best mother on earth, but he is morally right.

From all of this we may make some general observations. It is the working of some wrong passion or purpose which makes men morally wrong while they remain technically right. On the other side, it is virtue which makes men technically wrong and morally right. It is humility which regards itself as the chief of sinners. It is love which esteems others better than itself, and humility also. It is love and gratitude which holds its own mother to be the best on earth. On the other hand, it is pride which refuses to esteem others better than itself, if they are not so technically.

It is right, then, sometimes to be technically wrong, and sometimes wrong to be technically right. He that is technically wrong and morally right is right. He that is technically right and morally wrong is wrong.

A Few of the Editor's Stray Thoughts

It is with the greatest of difficulty that most men may be turned from a wrong course or purpose, while it is very easy to turn them from a right one.

When I see what a sinner I am in spite of all my afflictions, I suppose I would likely be a worse one without them. Yet I pray God to remove them.

One day may change all----either for the better or the worse. It is right therefore to hope, and to fear.

A man may change without repenting, but he cannot repent without changing.

'Tis better to win a friend than an argument.

If you would read fiction, and that of a rather dull sort, read the Book of Mormon. If you would read fact, and that of the most intriguing character, read the history of Mormonism.

It is always beneficial for men to be humbled, seldom to be humiliated. We ought therefore usually to deal with them by private admonition, rarely by public exposure.

The more a masculine man has of feminine traits, the better the man he is. The more a feminine woman has of masculine traits, the better the woman she is. God has all the masculine and feminine traits in himself.

We understand things best by comparing them with their likes, and contrasting them with their opposites. This we do by meditation, and this is done best in quiet and solitude.

Index to Volume 7, 1998
Articles by the Editor
A Few of the Editor's Stray Thoughts 287
A Tooth for A Tooth 97
Anatomy of a Rebellion 193
Ancient Landmarks 210, 254
Are There Few That Be Elected? 232

Book Reviews
A Revival is Coming, by Babson 183
Monumental Facts & Higher Critical Fancies, by A. H. Sayce 118
Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, by Iain Murray 139
The Honour of His Name, by Sir Robert Anderson 67

Books I Would Like to See Written 207
Codex Sinaiticus,
Ancient or Modern? 160
Common and the Singular, The 86
Deaf and Dumb Preachers 115
Degeneracy of Modern Music 28
Doctrinal Interpretation of Scripture 49
Easy Translations 106
Editor Answers David Cloud 63
Editor's Use of King James Version 154
English Style 246
Expensive Books 95
If Any Man Think that He Knoweth 205
If We Could Read But a Dozen Authors 260
Inquire of the Former Age 58
Last Month's Challenge to King James Only Movement Repeated 6
Liberalism of NKJV 31
Love and Humility 47
Marking of Books, On the 80
Modern Technology & the Sin of Sodom 236
Musical Instruments in the Worship of God 88
Necessity, Purpose, & Nature of Scriptural Interpretation 173

Newspapers 217
Plain English 169
Power of Satan, Supernatural or Paranormal 203
Proof-Text Theology 273
Questions and Answers 240
Rechabites 241
Root of All Evil, The 129
Round Earth 12
Saved By a Mistake 179
Scrivener, The Position of 229, 284
Second Timothy 2:15 90
Hope and the Bible 134
Leaving the Roast 223
Loathing the Honeycomb 148
Steadfast and Unmoveable 1
The Way of Transgressors 25
Ways of God & Ways of Devil 265
Should the KJV Be Revised? 73
Simonides (160), 192
Singing of the Birds 156
Sinners with Their Heads Down 145

Stray Notes on the English Bible
And 15
Born Again 143
Carest Thou Not that We Perish? 231
Penitent Thief 187
Saviour 71

Taking Down Walls 19
Weakening of the Modern Mind 121
Westcott & Greek Text of RV 182, 272
What's Wrong with It? 39
Wrong and Right, Moral and Technical 285

Articles by Others, Extracts, & Miscellaneous
Authorized & Revised Versions, by J. C. Ryle 167
Condensed Wisdom, John Newton 23
Gems of Wisdom, from Vavasor Powell 238, 282
Missionary Commitment, by Sarah Comstock 279
Model T Minds in Modern Automobiles, by Will Houghton 96
Modern Curses, Moody Monthly on 48

Old-Time Revival Scenes 22, 115, 270
Pearls of Wisdom, John Berridge 168
Quiet Humility, Bishop Hall 167
Study of Hebrew & Adequacy of KJV, Henry Venn 130
Technical & Simple Interpretation, by Richard Cecil 264
World Uplift Society (Cartoon) 150


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 position is to be learned from his own writings.