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Vol. 7, No. 7
July, 1998

Sinners with their Heads Down

by Glenn Conjurske

Sinners are wont to hold their heads high, sinful man having little sense of shame for his sin, and mortal man little sense of his utter weakness. The latter is most aptly expressed in the following not-very-pleasant verse by Coxe:

March! March! March! Earth groans as they tread;
Each carries a skull, going down to the dead.
Every stride, every stamp, every footfall is bolder:
'Tis a skeleton's tramp with a skull on its shoulder.
But oh! how he steps, with high tossing head,
That clay-covered bone, going down to the dead.

The one great need of the world today is for these high tossing heads to be bowed down. That is to say, the one great need of the world today is conviction of sin. No sinner can be converted till he is convicted of sin. Without this, conversions are as empty as they are glib. Yet modern evangelism in general contains little or nothing of conviction of sin. Christians fail to distinguish between awakening and conviction. An awakened sinner may be afraid, and therefore willing to submit to certain conditions in order to be saved, especially if the conditions are easy enough, but a convicted sinner is ashamed, and is therefore willing to have done with sin, and to forsake all and follow Christ.

The shame which belongs to real conviction of sin will be evident in the deportment of the convicted sinner. He will be solemn and subdued. Everything light and glib will be thoroughly rooted out of him. It will be evident from his very looks and bearing that he is ashamed. Yet the reverse of this is generally the case in modern evangelism. I was present at a Jack Van Impe Crusade in Grand Rapids about twenty years ago. When he gave the invitation I saw people walking down the aisles talking and laughing, and I said in my heart, Surely they are not going forward to be saved. Men are not saved after this fashion.

Experienced evangelists from better days than our own learned to distinguish convicted sinners from others by the fact that they held their heads down----or could not hold them up. It is written of the publican who went into the temple to pray, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” This man was convicted of sin, and it is also written of him, “This man went down to his house justified.” (Luke 18:13-14). I have seen a number of statements concerning this from the great preachers of the past, and I pass them on to my readers.

D. L. Moody (1837-1899) says, “When I go into the inquiry rooms some days some have their heads down on their hands, and I cannot get a word out of them. I say to myself such persons are near to God. But some are flippant and glib, and say why does God do this and why does God do that?”

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) speaks in the same vein, only much more fully and forcefully. He says, “From my own experience and observation, as well as from the word of God, I am fully convinced that the character of revivals depends very much upon the stress that is laid upon the depravity of the heart. Its pride, enmity, windings, deceitfulness, and every thing else that is hateful to God should be exposed in the light of his perfect law.

“I fear that stress enough is not laid upon the horrible guilt of this depravity. Pains enough is not taken by a series of pointed and cutting discourses, to show the sinner the utter inexcusableness, the unutterable wickedness and guilt of his base heart. No revival can be thorough until sinners and backsliders are so searched and humbled that they cannot hold up their heads. It is a settled point with me, that while backsliders and sinners can come to an anxious meeting and hold up their heads and look you and others in the face without blushing and confusion, the work of searching is by no means performed, and they are in no state to be thoroughly broken down and converted to God. I wish to call the attention of my brethren especially to this fact. When sinners and backsliders are really convicted by the Holy Ghost, they are greatly ashamed of themselves. Until they manifest deep shame, it should be known that the probe is not used sufficiently, and they do not see themselves as they ought. When I go into a meeting of inquiry and look over the multitudes, if I see them with heads up, looking at me and at each other, I have learned to understand what work I have to do. Instead of pressing them immediately to come to Christ, I must go to work to convict them of sin. Generally by looking over the room, a minister can easily tell, not only who are convicted and who are not, but who are so deeply convicted as to be prepared to receive Christ. Some are looking around and manifest no shame at all; others cannot look you in the face and yet can hold up their heads; others still cannot hold up their heads and yet are silent; others by their sobbing, and breathing, and agonizing, reveal at once the fact that the sword of the Spirit has wounded them to their very heart. Now I have learned that a revival never does take on a desirable and wholesome type any farther than the preaching and means are so directed, and so efficient as to produce that kind of genuine and deep conviction which breaks the sinner and the backslider right down, and makes him unutterably ashamed and confounded before the Lord, until he is not only stripped of every excuse, but driven to go all lengths in justifying God and condemning himself.”

Finney frequently refers to this fact in the revivals which took place under his ministry. “I saw that a general conviction was spreading over the whole congregation. Many of them could not hold up their heads.”

“I went to Rome and preached three times on the Sabbath. To me it was perfectly manifest that the word took great effect. I could see during the day that many heads were down, and that a great number of them were bowed down with deep conviction for sin.”

“I arose and pressed the point he had omitted. It was the distinction between desire and will. From the course of thought he had presented, and from the attitude in which I saw that the congregation was at the time, I saw, or thought I saw, that the pressing of that distinction, just at that point, upon the people, would throw much light upon the question whether they were really Christians or not, whether they merely had desires without being in fact willing to obey God.

“When this distinction was made clear, just in that connection, I recollect the Holy Spirit fell upon the congregation in a most remarkable manner. A large number of persons dropped down their heads, and some groaned so that they could be heard throughout the house.”

John Berridge (1716-1793) writes, “When you open your commission, begin with laying open the innumerable corruptions of the hearts of your audience; Moses will lend you a knife, which may be often whetted at his grindstone. Lay open the universal sinfulness of nature; the darkness of the mind, the frowardness of the will, the fretfulness of the temper, and the earthliness and sensuality of the affections. Speak of the evil of sin in its nature, its rebellion against God as our sovereign, ingratitude to God as our benefactor, and contempt both of his authority and love. Declare the evil of sin in its effects, bringing all our sickness, pains, and sorrows; all the evils we feel, and all the evils we fear; all inundations, and fires, and famines, and pestilences; all brawls, and quarrels, and fightings, and wars, with death to close these present sorrows, and hell afterwards to receive all that die in sin.

“Lay open the spirituality of the law, and its extent, reaching to every thought, word, and action, and declaring every transgression, whether by omission or commission, deserving of death. Declare man's utter helplessness to change his nature, or to make his peace. Pardon and holiness must come from the Saviour. Acquaint them with the searching eye of God, watching us continually, spying out every thought, word, and action, noting them down in the book of his remembrance, and bringing every secret thing into judgment, whether it be good or evil.

“When your hearers are deeply affected with these things (which is seen by the hanging down of their heads), preach Christ.”

Now observe, these men were all experienced and powerful evangelists. They lived in different times, and moved in different circles. Yet independently of each other, they all learned to recognize the hanging down of sinners' heads as the mark of conviction of sin. Here is wisdom. If the evangelistic work of our times were conducted on this plan, the Fundamental churches would not be filled up with false converts.

Loathing the Honeycomb

Abstract of A Sermon Preached on March 29, 1998

by Glenn Conjurske

Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

The honeycomb is the best and sweetest thing which nature has to offer, but the full soul has no interest in it. He actually loathes it. There is no way he can be forced or enticed or persuaded to take any interest in it. He is not hungry. This is a fact which everyone knows. A full soul is not interested in food, not even in the best and sweetest of it. For this reason I have heard it recommended to fat folks, who are trying to lose weight, that they eat a good meal before they go grocery shopping. As full souls, they cannot take the same interest in food as they would if they were hungry, and so will buy less of it, and buy less of the kinds which will tempt them the most after they get home with them.

“The full soul loatheth an honeycomb.” This is common knowledge, and we can hardly suppose that Solomon wasted his words merely to tell us what everyone knows. But this fact is as true in the soul as it is in the body, and this is the matter of real importance. And when we turn to the realm of the soul, the fact is, we have a whole world full of full souls, who are not hungry for anything----and who in particular are not hungry for God. The Bible says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matt. 5:6). It is hunger which brings men to Christ. The prodigal son would have stayed in the far country for ever if he had not been hungry. It was when he was perishing with hunger that he said, “I will arise and go to my Father.” Nothing but hunger could have brought him to that, and again, in the application of the parable, this is the hunger of the soul, not merely that of the body.

But understand, the devil knows these things as well as we do. The devil knows that if he can keep men well fed he can keep them from God. He knows that the full soul loatheth the honeycomb, and it is his aim to keep men full. He doesn't always succeed in this, for sin has consequences----consequences which God has ordained, and which not even the devil can entirely mitigate. The natural consequences of sin are poverty and misery, and, in fact, hunger. Thus in the marvellous wisdom of God, his very judgements upon sin tend always to turn us from it. The curse which he has placed upon his creation is clearly punitive, but it is also remedial. The hunger and misery of the far country work to bring the prodigal back home. The devil works, therefore, to make the far country as pleasant as possible. He works----often with the help of what calls itself the church----to keep every prodigal full and comfortable. He cannot always succeed, for it is God who has determined that emptiness shall be the result of sin, and for all his cunning and power, the devil cannot altogether prevent it.

He aims to do so, however, and the result of all the devil's endeavors is that vast and all-embracing system which the Bible calls the world. The world is the devil's substitute for God. What is the world? It is Civilization. It is Society. It is the system which man has built on God's earth, but in alienation from God, and under the direction of the devil. It embraces commerce, and manufacturing, and technology, and education, and politics, and sports, and entertainment, and literature, and culture, and religion, and the aim of all of it is to keep men full----full of pleasure, full of business, full of possessions----so that they have no occasion to hunger for anything, and least of all for God or righteousness or holiness or heaven. This is the world, and this world is a grand success.

We who know and believe the Bible know very well that the time is shortly to come when all the world will worship the devil. This will be brought about by the devil's own cunning and power. This ultimate success of the devil cannot be far off, and those who know his ways and purposes can plainly see the forces which are at work in the world at the present time rapidly leading to his ultimate success. Modern wealth and technology----and especially modern electronic communications----are the greatest tools in the devil's hands by which he keeps men full, so that they loathe the very honeycomb. The very gospel of Christ is a weariness to them. They have a constant stream of music poured into their ears, day and night. They have glittering and sensual pictures flashed constantly before their eyes, whenever they please. They have sports and games such as their fathers never dreamed of. Never in the history of the human race has there been such an absolute plethora of every kind of pleasure as there is today. Men today live in an absolute inundation of wealth and pleasure of every possible kind, all refined and cultured as never before in history, and all served up on gold and silver platters. The result of all this is that modern man is full, and loathes the very honeycomb.

The time was, a century or a century and a half ago, when any unknown evangelist could walk into a town and announce a gospel meeting in the school house or on the court house steps, and the whole town would turn out to hear him. They were hungry. Not necessarily hungry for the gospel, but just hungry in general. They were not cloyed with pleasure and entertainment and diversion. A little bit ago I read in the London Guardian (June 15, 1881, pg. 857) the testimony of a preacher in Canada a century ago. He said, “I once asked a farmer to attend a service which I was undertaking within a drive of his house. 'Come to your service?' said he, 'Bless you! I'll come to any service!' And this is the general feeling where 'meetings' are scarce”----and, we must add, where there was no radio or television. Those days have forever passed. Modern man is full, and this fullness is the work of the devil. It is the proof of the success of the devil. The aim and end of that fullness is to keep men from God, and it is a great mystery to me how any who call themselves Christians can suppose that all of this modern technology is the work of God. We know that God never created it. He placed man in a garden, with a simple, unhurried, and uncluttered life. In that simple life he walked with God, and was satisfied. But having departed from God, he was uneasy and unsatisfied. He was hungry, and he set out to satisfy his hunger with his own means----of course without God. The devil led him on in this course, and the result of it is the system which the Bible calls the world. God is not the maker of it. This world will be destroyed at the coming of Christ, and it is the works of the devil which he will destroy, not the works of God. Then Christ will reign on the earth, and man will return to the simple and uncluttered life in which God placed him at the beginning. “They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree.” (Micah 4:4).

My readers need not fear that I shall print many cartoons, but this picture may be worth a thousand words to illustrate how the devil keeps the prodigals in the far country. Alas, the church sometimes ignorantly joins forces with him. The cartoon I take from Moody Monthly, edited by James M. Gray, October 1932, pg. 68. ----editor.

Meanwhile the world is here, and year by year coming nearer its ultimate triumph----year by year becoming more and more replete with everything which will keep men full without God. The Bible, you know, speaks of the course of this world, for the world is not a static or stationary thing. It is moving. It is progressing. It is coming nearer and nearer the devil's ideal----farther and farther from God, of course, and more and more filled with all of those things which will keep men content without God.

We must frankly suppose that this facet of the world has nearly reached its climax in our day. What more can man do? What more can he add to the possessions and pleasures which modern technology has given to him? He is cloyed indeed with pleasures, so that he is weary even of pleasure. The other day I saw a boy wearing a shirt which was embossed, “Been there. Done that. What's next?” For this reason men pursue pleasures which are no pleasures at all. The only pleasure in them evidently lies in the fact that they are new and different. The pleasant has been replaced with the bizarre. Much of the popular music of the day is not music at all, but the merest noise, and not pleasant noise, but some of it the most dissonant and discordant noise which man can produce. Screeching, yelling, clanging, growling, screaming, pounding, and moaning----and this they call music, and the young people listen to it, and apparently enjoy it. Why? They've been there, and done that, and want something new, something different, something stronger, something more bizarre, something more violent, more sensual, more senseless, more daring. I sometimes wonder if the devil won't outdo himself in this, and if people might not get so weary of sin that they might actually hunger for the gospel. But this is not likely to happen, at least not on a large scale, for the world offers enough variety that when men tire of one thing there is always another. Men are simply satiated with goods and pleasures, and are not hungry. “The full soul loatheth the honeycomb.”

Now in the light of all of this, it plainly appears that we live in a day which is altogether different from any other day in history. The advent of modern technology and communications have changed the world for ever, and effectually destroyed whatever hunger may have been left on the earth. You know that there has been no revival for nearly a century----not since 1905----and not in America since 1857. Revivals were once common in America, but we hear nothing of them today. There may be a number of factors which account for this----the lukewarmness of the church certainly being one of them----but I believe the greatest factor is the “progress” of the world, and its great advancement in everything which is calculated to fill the soul of man, and destroy his hunger. In this day I have but one hope left for revival, and that hope lies in the fact that “Greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world.” God is yet able to overcome the world, but that may depend upon the condition of his own people.

And this brings me to the second half of this subject. There is no more hunger in the church than there is in the world. “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb,” and the church today is full. Not full of the truth----not full of solid and spiritual ministry----not full of depth or spirituality----no, but full at any rate. Full of evangelical radio and television preachers, full of tape recorded sermons, full of doctrinal discussions, full of Christian music of every variety, groaning under an absolute inundation of Christian books and magazines. Every preacher who owns a computer must publish a magazine, or write a book, though not one in a thousand of them is called of God to it. Few enough of them are called of God to preach, and few preachers----few even of apostles and prophets----are called to write. But every man runs before he is sent, and the church is kept full without ever being fed. There is precious little of spiritual Christianity in any of this deluge of modern “ministry,” but it is sufficient to destroy hunger.

The result of this is that the church in this country is full of tasters instead of eaters. They approach a man's ministry not to be fed, but only to taste and criticize. They may be curious, but they aren't hungry. They attend the ministry of the word of God not as hungry men sitting down to a meal, but as judges at a cooking contest. They taste and criticize. Over the years I have had many people taste my preaching and my writing, and a number of them have told me in the most glowing terms what a great blessing it was----even told me in glowing and superlative terms what a great man of God I was----and they never came back for a second helping. This has sometimes actually amazed me. If they believed what they said about my ministry, why didn't they want any more of it? The fact is, they weren't hungry. Therefore they were tasters and judges, but not eaters. They were full of ministry, full of preaching, full of books and magazines, and this is one of the great evils of every man setting up to preach and write without being called or gifted of God. The man who actually has something to say can scarcely get a hearing in the common babble.

Even here I fear there is too little hunger. You people are full, and the full soul loathes a honeycomb. It really makes no difference what you happen to be full of. The man who is full of beef steak loathes the honeycomb the same as the man who is full of junk food. You know there was a great defection here a few years ago, and I believe one of the things that contributed to it was that the people were full. The hungry man appreciates the food, and the cook too, and he overlooks it if there is too much salt or not enough pepper. He is glad to eat turnips or mustard greens, and cherry pie is a treat whether it is sweet enough or not. “Hunger is the best sauce,” the old proverb says. Hunger makes the poorest food tasty enough. “To the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” But when he is kept well fed he loathes the best cherry pie, and only finds fault with the cook. Some of these folks were hungry once, and moved hundreds or thousands of miles to come here and be fed. But it may be they were fed too well, and lost their hunger, and loathed the food and the cook too. Not that that was the only problem. I think if everything else had been right their hunger would have remained, but I do think that part of the problem was that the full soul loathed the honeycomb.

Well, but those folks are gone. What about you that are left? I believe some of you are hungry yet, for all the feeding you have had, and hungry precisely because your hearts are right. I know that some of you are hungry. But my concern is for you young people.

Now let me ask you, if you had a commission to make a man hungry, how would you go about it? What would you do? The only way I know to make a man hungry is to starve him. Give him nothing to eat, and he will soon be hungry enough. But I have no commission to starve the sheep, but to feed them, and to feed them whether they are hungry or not. God may starve you if he please. He may put you where you have no access to good books or good preaching. He may put you where you have no time to read. He may very well do that to make you hungry, but I cannot cease to feed the sheep in order to make them hungry. Nevertheless, the surest way to make folks hungry is to starve them, and some of you young people have never experienced that. You have been well fed since the day you were born, and I fear some of you are not hungry. You have listened to solid and spiritual doctrine since you were born. You grew up in houses which were literally filled with the best of Christian books, and I fear you don't value them as you ought. I grew up in a professedly Christian home, but I never saw a Christian book till I was eighteen years old. I never heard of Spurgeon or Wesley or Whitefield till I left home and went to Bible school----and I heard almost nothing of them there. Never heard of Francis Asbury or R. A. Torrey or Sam Hadley or Charles Chiniquy, and I was hungry. As soon as I went to Bible school I started buying books, and reading them too, and I have never gotten enough. I'm hungry still. The very thought of the names of some of these beloved men like Sam Hadley and Charles Wesley and Gipsy Smith sometimes brings tears to my eyes. I am not tired of them. I only weep that life is too short and time is too short to get my fill of them.

But I fear it isn't so with some of you children. You have never known what it is to be hungry. Every work of God declines and degenerates in the second generation, and I suppose one reason for this is that the children have never hungered as their fathers did. This may be as much your misfortune as it is your fault, but still there is some fault in it. It is every man's misfortune that he is born in sin, but it is his fault if he continues in it. You can cultivate hunger. It is true that the full soul loathes the honeycomb, but it is also true, as an old proverb says, that “Appetite comes with eating.” You can taste and see that Sam Hadley and John Vassar and Peter Cartwright are good. If you aren't hungry, you can eat anyway. I once heard of an old woman who was never hungry. She ate by the clock. She ate because it was necessary to eat, not because she had any desire for it. But if you have little desire for the things of God, you can cultivate and create that desire. Even before that you can call upon the Lord to make you hungry. If you feel your lack of hunger, call upon God to make you hungry. He surely knows how. But you can do more than pray. You can learn to hunger for the things of God the same way the ungodly learn to hunger for cigarette smoke or rock music----for there is not a man alive who was born with any such appetite. That appetite was created, by indulgence in those things. You can do the same with the good things of God. Peter tells you, as newborn babes, to desire the milk of the word. What can that mean, if not to seek and acquire and strengthen that desire? You can do that, and you can learn to desire strong meat as well as milk. Appetite does come with eating. Babies want nothing but milk, but they can learn to like roast beef and potatoes, and you can learn this also.


The Editor's Use of the King James Version

by Glenn Conjurske

I grew up using the King James Version. I was brought up in a Baptist church, where most of the people used the King James Version. Not all, however. The pastor who was there during most of my later boyhood----a cold and intellectual man, by the way----always read from the American Standard Version. I believe this was generally regarded as his own peculiarity, and so far as I know it had no influence on anyone else to depart from the King James Version. A lady missionary, who had grown up in our church, and was working with some evidently Neo-evangelical women's clubs, avidly adopted the Living Letters when that first came out. We were also aware that the liberal churches used the Revised Standard Version. None of this had any influence with the people in general, who all adhered to the King James Version.

Neither can I say that I ever had any difficulty in understanding the old version, though I certainly had some wrong ideas. I supposed, for example, that the word “church” referred to a building. But this was only my own misunderstanding, and no necessary consequence of using the King James Version.

After I was converted, at the age of seventeen, I began to read the Bible in good earnest. It was then, during my last year in high school, that I began to feel some slight deficiency in the King James Version. My main difficulty arose from the word “of,” which to my mind was sometimes ambiguous. I was not always sure of its meaning. A Young's or Englishman's Concordance would have removed my difficulty, but I did not know that such things existed. At any rate, the difficulty inspired me with a thirst to learn Greek. I went to the new pastor of the church----not the same man as mentioned above----and asked him if he could direct me as to how to learn Greek. He told me that he had learned Greek at Bible college, but never used it, and had forgotten most of it. He rather discouraged me from learning it, and gave me no direction. This left me disappointed with him, but did not dampen my desire to learn Greek.

That desire was fulfilled two years later, in my second year at Bible School. There I began to gain a little of that little knowledge which is a dangerous thing, and, along with some of my fellow-students, I began to despise the King James Version. I soon discovered that the American Standard Version (the American revision of the English Revised Version) adhered so closely to the Greek that I could, as I put it, “see through it to the Greek.” If I saw the article in the English, I could presume that it was present in the Greek. If I saw the word “in” in the English, I could presume that it was dí in the Greek. “Through” in the English was äéÜ in the Greek. A little use of the version taught me which Greek words were represented by which English words, and this with a studied consistency. Not that such things would always hold, but they were consistent enough that I revelled in the ability which this version gave me to “see through the English to the Greek.”

In recent years I have learned that I was not the first to discover this trait of this version. Learned and wise men had seen it as soon as the Revised Version of the New Testament was published in 1881, but they did not regard the trait as a virtue, but rather as a very serious fault. This is not the purpose of a translation. Instead of turning the Greek into good English, the makers of the Revised Version had turned the English into half Greek. This was not scholarship, but pedantry, and they made a version just suited to shallow pedants----which is precisely what I was when I was learning Greek at Bible School.

At any rate, I began to carry the American Standard Version in my brief case, and to use it instead of the King James Version. Some of my fellow students did the same with the New American Standard Version, but that version I never could brook. Though I probably could not at that time have given an intelligent explanation of it, I at any rate felt the inferiority of the New American Standard Version. I felt that it was shallow and unspiritual. I felt that it was weak and insipid. I had another objection to it also, of which I could even then give a clear explanation. I believed in verbal inspiration. I believed that verbal inspiration mandated verbal translation, and I plainly saw that the New American Standard Version was too much given to paraphrase. For somewhere about the space of a year, therefore, I used the old American Standard Version.

In my last year at Bible School I wrote my Theology Thesis on dispensationalism. One of the books which I read in order to this was Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, by Clarence B. Bass. Much of this book is devoted to quotations from J. N. Darby. Bass does his best to discredit Darby, but the book had just the opposite effect upon me. I plainly saw that Darby was a spiritual man, and that his doctrine was my doctrine. I began to acquire the writings of Darby, including his New Translation of the Bible. I began to read this, and soon preferred it over the American Standard Version----probably due more to my regard for Darby than to the actual nature of the translation. At any rate, I read Darby's version for about two years. I was never comfortable, however, reading it aloud or in public, because of its rough English.

Meanwhile, as I added a little more to the little knowledge which I had, I began to perceive the real excellence of the King James Version. There were many places where my insufficient and pedantic knowledge of Greek had led me to suppose the old version in error, where I now saw that it was not in error at all. This moved me eventually to adopt the principle never to correct the King James Version, or assume it was in error, until I first understood the reasons which led its makers to translate as they did. It is a common thing with the shallow intellectuals of modern times to regard the makers of the old version as nothing but incompetent blunderers, who rendered as they did for no reason at all, or merely because they were too dull and ignorant to do any better. I had imbibed plenty of this spirit, but I was cured of it by repeatedly finding that I was the one wrong, and the old version right. I began also to feel if not to understand that there were other things of importance besides accuracy. I could feel the spiritual atmosphere and the spiritual vigor of the old version, and this I learned to value just in the proportion that I began to attain a little spirituality myself. I returned to the King James Version, not believing it was perfect----that never entered my mind----but feeling very strongly that, all things considered, it was superior to the other versions. I have now used the King James Version for about twenty-five years, and the conviction of its superiority has very much increased in that time.

I must mention, however, that when I returned to the King James Version somewhere about twenty-five years ago, I did so on the basis of its superiority over other versions, but I did not believe in its adequacy. I held very strongly that we needed a better version, and, with the pride which is characteristic of shallow intellectualism, I supposed myself competent to produce it. I was therefore hard at work translating the New Testament. The translation, of course, was poor and pedantic enough, and I thank God that I was eventually led to give up the project, being convinced of my own incompetence for such a task, as also of the adequacy of the King James Version, and that there are many things more important to be done in this fleeting life than to try to improve a version which is so excellent already, and perfectly adequate as it is. The passing of years has only deepened these convictions.

Now I have particular reasons for relating these things. Those thoughts and feelings which I entertained towards the old version as a young and shallow intellectual are very common in the church today. Many of the leaders of the church, alas, never get beyond such a state, and do their best to instill those same thoughts and feelings in others. Thus men are taught to despise one of their most precious possessions, and usually to take something vastly inferior in its place. I may hope that my own experience may at least instill a little caution into some folks, and move them at least to consider that the real fault may be more in themselves than it is in the old version. My readers may recall that the experience of C. H. Spurgeon exactly resembles my own. As a young man he was crying aloud for revision, seeing only inaccuracies and vulgarities in the old version. The passing of twenty years, however, completely changed his tune, and he was then found deprecating the alteration of something so dear to his heart and so eminently used of God.] Ah, well, perhaps Spurgeon was as wise when he was young as I was, and grew as foolish when he grew older as I have.

The Singing of the Birds

by Glenn Conjurske

The birds hold a unique place in all of God's creation. The Bible calls them “the birds of the heavens.” (Jer. 4:25).* This is their own sphere, and they are at home there. They are creatures of grace and beauty. Much of this lower creation is a picture of higher things----perhaps all of it, if we had eyes to see it----and there can be no doubt that “the birds of the heavens” are God's picture of a heavenly race. These are the saints and angels of God.

Now among the various things which distinguish the birds from the rest of the creation, one of the most prominent is this, that they sing. Many of the animals are virtually mute. Of those which speak, most of them never do so except to complain or threaten. “Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder?” (Job. 6:5). When these are fed and contented, they have nothing to say. They only speak when they are dissatisfied or discontented, when they are in fear or pain. They speak to threaten, or to complain.

Not so the birds. They sing because they are happy. They sing to express their happiness. How do I know this? The same way everyone else knows it. The expression “happy as a lark” is proverbial. The fact is, study the matter how we will, we cannot escape the conviction that the birds sing because they are happy. There is no other explanation of it. Even as I write this there sits a kingbird near my open door, singing to his heart's content. And why? Is he hungry? Discontented? It is impossible to think so. We cannot but think that he is contented and happy, and delights to express it. The Bible says, “Is any merry? let him sing.” (James 5:13). The birds just sing and sing, and it is impossible to watch or listen to them, and conclude any other thing than that they are happy. The nature of the voice of the birds is exactly suited to express happiness. They do not bark or howl, or grunt or growl, or low or neigh, or oink or bray. They sing. In this they are the divinely-drawn picture of the saints and angels of God.

We know little enough about heaven, but this we know, that it is full of singing. The heavenly scenes in the Bible are full of singing. But then so are the earthly scenes. The fact is, the Bible is full of singing, for it is the book of the saints of God. It is not the book of the discontented and the dissatisfied, but the book of the contented and the joyful. It is therefore full of singing. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19). “I will sing, ... I will sing, ... I will sing,” we read again and again in the book of Psalms, for “he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.” (Ps. 40:3).

There is much to be learned from observing the birds. It is their nature to sing. The song flows from within, as from an artesian well. This is God's picture of his saints and angels, and this is their normal state. Observe, the birds do not go to a meeting and sing what is prescribed in the bulletin. They do not wait for a choir to lead them. Every one sings for himself, when he is alone with his creator. The happiness of his heart flows out the livelong day in strains of the happiest melody. This is the normal state of the saints. “I will sing, ... I will sing.”

But observe, all the birds are not alike. The songs of some are as plain as can be. They merely chirp, though they do it with a good will and a happy heart. The songs of the robin and the song sparrow are beautiful, and that of the rose-breasted grosbeak is surpassingly so. But there is another difference which is more telling. Their singing differs as much as their songs. Most birds sing when the sun shines pleasantly in the cool of the day, as Christians sing also when their circumstances are pleasant. But some have gotten beyond this. Their happiness flows from within, whatever may betide without. Some birds sing in the dark. The robins sing in the rain. The buntings sing in the heat of the day, when the other birds are silent. Some saints----usually old ones, who have long walked with God----are like these rare birds, who sing in the rain and the dark. And what a contrast these present to the old in general. How many of the old are peevish and fretful, suspicious and sour, complaining and cantankerous. Who would not rather be one of these heavenly creatures which sings when it rains and sings in the dark? Some birds will even sing in a cage, like our own Paul and Silas, singing in the dark, in the prison, with their backs bleeding and their feet fast in the stocks.

And here, by the way, is a precious opportunity for the saints of God to glorify their maker----and an opportunity which no angel has ever had, or ever will have. The angels live in the light of paradise, where all is joy and music, where pain and trouble never come, and of course they sing. The saints of God must live in darkness and pain and trouble, and pass through the valley of the shadow of death. To sing there is a much higher thing than the song of any angel, and surely brings the greater glory to God. We have the opportunity to sing in the dark, which angels never can have. Do we use that opportunity, or do we growl and mutter? The precious opportunity will soon pass away, and it will be a great pity if we do not see it as a precious opportunity till it is gone. We may find great inspiration in listening to the birds sing in the dark and in the rain, and we ought to go and do likewise. The Lord has promised that “the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life,” and “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” These springs flow day and night, dark or light, rain or shine, and so the rare bird sings. And who can doubt that we shall sing better in the light and the calm of paradise, for having sung in the darkness and the storms of this earth? And not only so, but our songs will make the dark a little lighter even here and now.

Ah, but my pleasant thoughts are just now interrupted by the screaming of some crows outside my window, and this serves to remind me that all birds do not sing. There are many of them which only scream and screech and squawk. The fact is, these birds are no picture of the saints of God. The Bible speaks of unclean and hateful birds (Rev. 18:2), and there are plenty of these. These are the fallen spirits, the fowls which devour up the seed which is sown by the way side (Matt. 13:4). Many of these unclean and hateful birds are black. So the worthless grackles, blackbirds, and starlings. So the crows, which eat rotting carrion, and fight with every other bird, including their cousin the raven. They love to gather in large numbers around a solitary owl or a treed porcupine, and scream and harass it by the hour. The cowbird is black also, except the female, which is a dull brownish gray. She sits in the top of the highest tree, and shamelessly calls for her lovers by her shrill screeching, and then lays her egg in another bird's nest----a fit enough emblem of a good many females of the human kind. All these are unclean and hateful birds, and these only click and cluck and scream and screech and squawk, but do not sing.

But my meditations on this theme suggest yet another matter. The birds in general are distinguished from the other animals in the facts that they can sing and fly. But this is true only in general, for we have fish and squirrels which fly, and birds which cannot, as well as birds which cannot sing. Then again, we have animals which can sing. All of this teaches me that the works of God are too manifold to be systematized by man. Whatever we may say in general, there are always exceptions. Man makes every marble round, but God always throws in a few ovals, and maybe a cube. As a general rule, it is “the birds of the heavens” which sing, while the beasts of the earth only threaten and complain, if they speak at all. Yet we have the tree frog, who actually sings. This is a pleasant little creature, which has almost nothing of the fear of man. I have often known one to sit content on the leaf of a blackberry bush, while I picked the berries all around it. Not long ago one sat unafraid on my wood pile for an hour, while I piled wood all around him. The singing of these little creatures is not musical like that of the birds, but still they sing, and sweetly and pleasantly too.

From the tree frogs we turn to the frogs in the pond. These cannot sing so sweetly as the tree frog, but where he sings only here and there, these will sing by the hour, both day and night. Now frankly, the singing of a single frog is neither sweet nor musical, but a chorus of them might well vie with any chorus on earth, and methinks that he who has never been sung to sleep at night by the frogs has scarcely lived. They seem to know that they can only make music together, and the chirp of a single frog will set the whole pond to peeping, and this is pleasant music indeed. How often have I gone to sleep to the singing of the frogs, and gotten up at three or four in the morning to find them singing still. To whom do they sing all night, if not to their creator? They seem to have an artesian well of happiness within, and never tire of filling the atmosphere with it.

Yet again, we have the chipmunk, who seems genuinely to sing. He can do no more than chirp----and it is a rather shrill and unpleasant chirp----yet he seems “as happy as a lark” in doing so. He is neither complaining nor threatening, but to all appearances----singing.

And last of all, even the cricket sings after a fashion, so that the expression “happy as a cricket” is as much a part of the English language as “happy as a lark.”

Now observe, in spite of these pleasant exceptions, we may yet say in general that singing belongs to the birds, as much as flying does. What do these exceptions prove? To my mind they prove that the works of God are not so easy to classify and systematize as men like to suppose, and this is as true of his word as it is of his creation. A good deal of the doctrinal error in the church consists of taking that which is generally true, and trying to make it technically or absolutely true. It is true that the birds sing. It is also true that singing is the peculiar property of the birds. This is so far true that we may make a general rule of it, but it is not absolutely true. Some birds do not sing, and some animals do.

The same is true with a great many general statements and general principles in the Bible. But theologians----especially the shallow, the proud, and the bigoted----must have everything black and white, and cut and dried. This is theology made easy. It requires no depth of thought, and is in fact the reverse of wisdom. Everything must be absolute. Everything must be always or never, and such theologians will have nothing which is sometimes true, or generally true. If they were naturalists, they would insist that frogs are birds, or that penguins are not. They will have everything hard and fast, everything rigid, with no exceptions. Holiness must be absolute holiness. The Latin Vulgate must be either the immaculate word of God or “the devil's Bible.” The depravity of man must mean his “total inability” ever to think one right thought. The natural man not receiving the things of God must mean that he can never receive one ray of light. “Dead in sins” must mean dead as a door-nail, and “dead while she liveth” must mean nothing at all. Grace, to be grace, must be absolutely unconditional. If a text is not perfectly preserved, it is not the word of God at all. I refrain from naming further examples, but I tell such theologians that they are as far from the truth as they are from common sense. Even nature teaches us that this is not the way of the Lord.

Codex Sinaiticus: Ancient or Modern?

by Glenn Conjurske

I recently listened to a tape recorded message by Mrs. Gail Riplinger, in which she says concerning Codex Sinaiticus (à), “Something else recent has come out. There was a monk in the seventeenth and eight----..., well, seventeen and eighteen hundreds, when Sinaiticus was discovered, who said he wrote it. And there was a big controversy back then, because he said he just wrote it, just now. And so this has just recently come out. So this oldest manuscript that underlies the NASB and the NIV, and these people are carrying these things around, someone may have written it in the seventeen or eighteen hundreds. [Connecting words unintelligible] now that the controversy has died down people don't know too much about it. But that in fact was true.”

This is a little ambiguous. What in fact was true? That there was a big controversy over it, or that the manuscript was actually written at that time? The latter is evidently what she means, or she would have no reason to mention it at all.

And I must say that the whole statement is typical of Mrs. Riplinger's mode of argument. She always proceeds upon a plan just the opposite of my own. I never trouble myself with “100 Arguments for the Premillennial Coming of Christ,” or “50 Proofs of the Pretribulation Rapture.” Such proceedings I regard as quite unnecessary, and a proof of weakness rather than strength. Give me two or three arguments which are unanswerable, and I regard these as of more weight than a hundred which are empty or disputable. I concentrate on these, and moreover, I make sure of my ground, both historically and doctrinally, before I give them any weight. Mrs. Riplinger takes just the opposite course, eagerly taking up every point which might seem to make for her cause, and evidently never troubling herself to confirm the truth of any of them. All these she presents in rapid succession, and with this array of evidence wins the day with the sort of people who follow her.

She displays her ignorance in the present situation, by calling the man who claimed to have written it a monk (which he was not), and by dating the matter in the “seventeen and eighteen hundreds.” She has no accurate information about the matter in hand, and in fact she needs none for her purposes, for the people who follow these doctrines will believe whatever is taught them. She throws in every tidbit which may serve to tip the scale in her direction, and this has its effect, for the people she addresses are as careless of the truth as she is herself. I do not say any of this in sarcasm, but simply as the aptest description which I can formulate of her proceedings, and of their response. Neither would I accuse her of purposely disregarding the truth. I believe no such thing. What I do believe is that she is so confident of her own cause that she honestly supposes that whatever tells in her favor must be the truth, and she receives it without scrutiny or verification.

She says nothing of how or by whom this matter “has just recently come out,” and I will not venture a guess, though some of my readers might. But the plain fact is, whoever brought this out did nothing more than to revive an old imposture, long since rejected by all who were competent to judge.

The facts are these. Shortly after Tischendorf obtained and published Codex à, one Constantine Simonides claimed that the manuscript was not ancient at all, but had been written by himself about twenty years before, as an intended present to the Emperor of Russia. A lengthy debate followed, most of which concerned itself with the truth or falsehood of the claims of Simonides. Most of that debate I cannot print, but I will give my impression of the main disputant. Simonides himself wrote a number of lengthy letters, first setting forth his claims, and then endeavoring to make his story hold together. His letters are characterized by a redundance of scorn for such men as Tischendorf and Tregelles, and by an almost ludicrous boastfulness concerning himself. He is wordy and trite, but withal very shrewd. He has an answer for every charge of inconsistency or untruthfulness, often blaming his translators for the trouble, for he wrote in Greek. To my mind much of what he wrote is a clumsy and evident fraud, for he overdoes himself in his solemn asseverations in a manner which is quite foreign to sincerity. He tells us that he can produce such and such evidence, but does not produce it. He tells us that he will reply to his questioners “at the proper time,” to which Mr. William Aldis Wright answers, “To my letter of 27th October M. Simonides will reply at the proper time. I should have thought no time so proper as the present.” In reading the letters of Simonides, I have often found myself unable to shake off the feeling that I was reading Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. In fairness The Guardian patiently published his lengthy epistles, though on one occasion it curtailed one of them, saying, “We cannot spare room for irrelevant, and still less for libellous, matter, and have therefore omitted two paragraphs of this letter----one containing imputations against a Greek priest, who bore testimony adverse to Simonides; the other professing to answer Dr. Tregelles by simply accusing him of ignorance.”

The discussion in the Guardian was first broached by F. J. A. Hort, who forwarded to that paper some extracts from a letter of S. P. Tregelles. After spending three days inspecting Codex Sinaiticus, Tregelles wrote to Hort, “I believe that I need hardly say that the story of Simonides, that he wrote the MS., is as false and absurd as possible. A man might as well pretend that the Alexandrian or the Vatican MS. is a modern work. I know of no reason for judging it to be more recent than the fourth century.”

On this Hort remarks, “The allusion in the second extract is to a statement by the notorious Simonides that the Sinai MS. was written by himself when a young man. This whimsical story, invented probably to punish Tischendorf for exposing one of his real forgeries, is sufficiently refuted by the character of the readings already published [from Codex à], taken in conjunction with the clumsiness and ignorance of the sacred text betrayed in the manufacture of the Liverpool fragments.” The fact is, there are unique readings in Codex à, which Simonides could not have found in any extant manuscript. The Liverpool fragments were supposed first-century papyri, published by Simonides, but generally believed to be frauds.

I am well aware that the name of Hort will not recommend my cause to the adherents of Mrs. Riplinger, but I cannot help that. I let every argument stand on its own bottom, and all reasonable men will do the same. The probability of Hort's supposition that Simonides invented this story to punish Tischendorf for exposing his forgeries is unwittingly confirmed by Simonides himself. He gives his story in The Guardian of September 3, 1862, and concludes by saying, “I now solemnly declare that my only motive for publishing this letter is to advance the cause of truth, and protect sacred letters from imposition.

“In conclusion, you must permit me to express my sincere regret that, whilst the many valuable remains of antiquity in my possession are frequently attributed to my own hands, the one poor work of my youth is set down by a gentleman [Tischendorf] who enjoys a great reputation for learning, as the earliest copy of the Sacred Scriptures.” Tischendorf was of course among those who attributed Simonides's manuscripts to his own hands----that is, accused him of forging them----so that the latter had reason enough to seek revenge for it. He always speaks contemptuously of both the character and the learning of Tischendorf----a thing which no candid man would have occasion to do, however he might differ from Tischendorf's judgement.

I am also well aware that Hort was no authority on the nature or age of Biblical manuscripts, but Tregelles was, and it was Tregelles' opinion which Hort communicated to The Guardian. The fact is, there were few men living when Codex à was discovered who were conversant enough with ancient manuscripts to be competent judges of their age, and all of them rejected the claims of Simonides. F. C. Cook says, “Up to the present I am not aware that in England any scholars except Tregelles, Dr. Scrivener, and Dean Burgon, have produced works which prove or indicate extensive acquaintance with original MSS., ... In Germany, so far as I am aware, Tischendorf stands alone in that special department.” All these held Codex à to be ancient and genuine. Tischendorf of course did so. It was Tischendorf's judgement which Simonides aimed to discredit. Tregelles' opinion has been given above. Scrivener's will be given below. Burgon argued at length, in The Last Twelve Verses of Mark, that Codex à was a little less ancient that Codex B.

But I do not suppose that competence or scholarship is the point at issue here, but character. The character of Simonides appears to disadvantage wherever it appears at all. In 1862 he exhibited some papyrus fragments, which he claimed belonged to the first century. It was the deliberate judgement of eminent authorities in this field that these fragments were frauds and forgeries. Of this we read, “...at the meeting of the Royal Society of Literature on last Wednesday evening, Feb. 11, ... Sir Henry Rawlinson, K.C.B., being in the chair, a report from the council of the society was read, strongly condemnatory of the genuineness of the whole of the papyri from Mr. Mayer's museum at Liverpool, which Simonides has unrolled and published recently, under the title of 'Facsimiles, &c.;' and though Simonides and his friends professed indignation at this statement, no effective answer was given during the ensuing discussion to any of the charges advanced in that report.”

Of the same fragments F. H. A. Scrivener writes, “The author of these pages [Scrivener, that is] has fully stated in the Christian Remembrancer for July 1863 his reasons for regarding as a manifest forgery the fragments of St Matthew's Gospel written on papyrus and dated in the fifteenth year after the Lord's Ascension, which were published in facsimile by Constantine Simonides in 1862.” Scrivener's reasons are immaterial. I only call attention to the fact that it was the deliberate judgement of him who was “facile princeps in Textual Criticism” (as Burgon calls him) that the papyri which Simonides exhibited and published were forgeries----and who forged them, if not Simonides? He made great claims concerning his abilities to write in the old uncial characters----wrote a letter in the old uncial hand to prove it----claimed to have written Codex à, and offered to prove it by writing another one. With amazing effrontery he says, “Deposit 10,000l. sterling in my name in the Bank of England, and I will write again this same work in your presence, and in the presence of your friends, in the same space of time. Then take the manuscript and let me take the money; but if I fail, which is impossible, I will give you such an ancient MS. as you choose from those which I possess.” I am bold to say that no man of character could have made such an offer. Ten thousand pounds for a few months work!----and utterly worthless work, too. If he had asked for twenty pounds it had been a great plenty. He ought to have offered to do it for nothing, since the finished product would have been worth nothing at all, and his own vindication was the only thing to be gained by it. But the fact that he must have the money deposited in his own name, and in advance, makes it appear mighty suspicious that he never intended to do the work at all, but only to take the money. Nor was there any necessity to write the whole work. If he could have written a hundredth part of it, in a hundredth part of the time, this would have been proof enough. Everything about this offer impresses us as the work of a bold and audacious braggadocio and an imposter.

But the question after all was not whether Simonides could write such a manuscript, but whether he had written this one. The men most competent to judge, as Tischendorf, Tregelles, Burgon, and Scrivener, all rejected the claims of Simonides. Scrivener writes, “... Constantine Simonides, a Greek of Syme, who had just edited a few papyrus fragments of the New Testament alleged to have been written in the first century of the Christian era (...), astonished the learned world in 1862 by claiming to be himself the scribe who had penned this manuscript in the monastery of Panteleemon on Mount Athos, as recently as in the years 1839 and 1840. The writer of these pages must refer to the Introduction to his Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus (pp. lx-lxxii, 2nd edition, 1867) for a statement of the reasons which have been universally accepted as conclusive, why the manuscript which Simonides may very well have written under the circumstances he has described neither was nor possibly could be that venerable document [that is, Codex à].”

One of the reasons which Scrivener assigns for this judgement is that “at least two, and probably more, persons have been employed on the several parts of the volume [Codex à],” while Simonides claims that he had written the whole work himself, and at the end inscribed it Óéìùíßäïõ ô' “ëïí hñãïí, ----”the whole work by Simonides.”

Simonides offers a number of explanations for the then present condition of the manuscript, saying he had originally written it in a very old (!) and almost entirely blank (!!) codex which he found in the monastery, and accusing Tischendorf of tearing away his inscriptions, but this fails to account for the fact that many of the Old Testament leaves were not to be found at all. Did Tischendorf tear those away also, and throw them away to boot?

In answering the claims of Simonides Tregelles says, “I feel as much confidence in the genuineness and antiquity of Cod. Sinaiticus, as I do in that of Cod. Vaticanus or Cod. Alexandrinus. A man might make a facsimile of a page or two which might at first deceive; but how can this be done, with the corrections of various hands and various ages? Whoever pretends that Cod. Sinaiticus can be modern, virtually asserts that it was intended to deceive.” In other words, Simonides was a deceiver whether he wrote the MS., or whether he merely claimed that he did. Tregelles also points out numerous unproved assertions and self-contradictions of Simonides.

But I must speak further of the character of the man upon whose sole assertion rests any idea that Codex à could be of modern origin. Here I must be brief. Suffice it to say that numerous letters appeared in the public prints, by both the supporters and the opponents of Simonides, as well as by the man himself. I have given above my opinion of the letters of Simonides. He also published several letters professedly by one monk Êáëëßíéêïò. These also appear to me to be clumsy frauds, in which Kallinikos labors to tell Simonides what he must certainly have known already if it was true, and it was generally believed that Simonides had written them himself. At length contact was made with Kallinikos himself, in “the Monastery of Mount Sinai,” who wrote the following: “Since, then, there is no other Kallinikos Hieromonachos besides myself among the brethren of this monastery, and I have never known any Simonides, and consequently I did not write the aforesaid letters to shield him in his tricks, it follows that these letters have been forged by Simonides himself.”

To this Simonides replied that Kallinikos of Mount Sinai was nothing to him, since his Kallinikos was “of Mount Athos.” Where or how the latter was to be found he carefully avoids telling us, but assures us, with the slipperiness of an imposter, that a letter from a Kallinikos of Mount Athos would prove nothing, since the name was common, and there were several of them at that monastery. Inquiry proved, however, that there were none. In the same letter Simonides endeavored to prove that the published letter from Kallinikos of Mount Sinai was a fraud, which could not have been written by a Greek monk. He gives several (insufficient) reasons in support of this, all of which his opponents disposed of. But I wish to point out that if it had been the simple truth that this letter had come from the wrong Kallinikos, that would have been an all-sufficient answer, and there would have been no reason whatever to attempt to prove it a fraud. Why does he shoot a dead dog----except that he knows very well it is not dead after all? He overdoes himself, and this itself raises the strong suspicion that he is an imposter.

Inquiries were made of the monastery at Mount Athos also, which elicited a response from Dionysius the Archimandrite, or Superior, in which, after answering his inquirer's questions, he says, “Ôá™ôá Êýñéå! ôN ðåñr Óéìùíßäïõ, ðåñr ï£ óOò ëÝãù “ôé åqíáé Tíèñùðïò óðåñìïëüãïò êár øåýóôçò” ----that is, “These, Sir, are the things of Simonides, concerning whom I tell you that he is a babbler and a liar.”

Inquiry was also made of the bishop of the old Greek church at Alexandria, which yielded the following reply, which I abridge as much as I can:

“& I received with pleasure on the same day your letter to me of the 26 (8) instant, by which you inquire of my unworthiness respecting the conduct while on the holy Mount Athos of Mr. Constantine Simonides, ... I proceed by this my present letter to acquaint you with all that I know and am still able to call to memory respecting him.

“During my residence in Odessa in the house of the sister of the late General Alexander Sturtza, the Countess K. Etling, she returned from Constantinople about the 1841 or 1842, whither she had gone some time before, bringing with her the person of whom we speak, Constantine Simonides, whom she had taken under her care from Constantinople at the request of the Reverend Archimandrite Procopius Deudrinos, and afterwards, with the consent of her said late brother, Alexander Sturtza, introduced him to the Greek school in that place, as having then a slight knowledge of the rudiments of our ancient Greek language, and there he took lessons for some few months. It was there that I first became acquainted with Mr. Simonides, who assured me many times that he had lived in the sacred Russian monastery on the holy Mount Athos, and that the Reverend Deacon Benedict of that place was his uncle; also that this Benedict had sent him to study, and that on the conclusion of his studies he should return immediately to the holy mountain in order to become a monk, and afterwards a preacher, with other like things. But having attended, as I said before, for some few months only the lessons at Odessa, he was expelled from the school in consequence of his disorderly conduct, and for the same reason the Countess Etling and her brother, A. Sturtza, withdrew from him their patronage, and subsequently Mr. Simonides departed to Moscow.

“About the year 1843, I, having renounced the vanity of this present world, proceeded to the holy Mount Athos, and there entered the sacred Russian convent; and making particular inquiries there respecting Mr. Simonides, I was informed that he had indeed lived there, but had been dismissed in consequence of his disorderly and scandalous conduct, and that he had no relationship with the Reverend Benedict, excepting only that he was a fellow-countryman.

“After the lapse of seven or eight years, Mr. Simonides gave out, both by word and by the press, that during the time that he resided in the Russian convent he had discovered, with the said Reverend Benedict, within the ancient monastery of the Russians, caverns containing many ancient parchment manuscripts, of which he had himself taken a quantity, including some of remarkable antiquity. These things being reported on the holy mountain, those who knew Mr. Simonides gave no hearing nor attention to such absurdities, but one of the principal persons of the holy mountain, the Superior of the sacred and greatest Laura, distinguished for learning and virtue, by name Hadgi Dionysius, induced by curiosity, wrote officially to our Hegoumenos of the sacred Russian convent, Gerasimus (who still worthily presides over it), asking him if there was any truth in Mr. Simonides' assertions respecting caverns and ancient books, &c. He, however, answered him officially by a monasterial note that these things were entirely without existence and without foundation.

“After two or three years, however, Mr. Simonides came a second time, dressed in the European fashion, and I, reminding him of the words which he had spoken to me at Odessa----namely, that after he had finished his studies he intended to become a monk on the holy mountain, and ultimately a preacher----found him far from intending to carry out his professions, and engrossed by quite contrary ideas. As, however, our Hegoumenos would not allow him access to the library of our monastery, he went away to other monasteries on the holy mountain, that he might examine their libraries, but as in some of the said monasteries he mutilated many manuscript books, wickedly tearing out of them entire sheets, the entrance to many libraries of the said monasteries was forbidden him, and thus he departed from the holy mountain with disgrace. ...


“Alexandria, Egypt, the 5th Oct., 1863.”

Here then is the true character of the man whose testimony is the sole foundation for the notion that Codex à is a modern manuscript. Others may have repeated his claim, or “brought it out recently,” but all that they have to say rests upon the testimony of Simonides, who is the sole originator of it, and he was as much a religious imposter as the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith.

Bishop Hall on Quiet Humility

[I discovered this excellent piece too late to insert it in my article on “The Common and the Singular.” It is much to the purpose. ----editor.]

He is a rare man that is not wise in his own conceit; and that saies not within himselfe, I see more than my neighbours: For we all are borne proud, and self-opinionate, and when we are come to our imaginary maturity, are apt to say with Zedechiah, to those of better judgement than our own, which way went the Spirit of God from me to speak unto thee? Hence have arisen those trange varieties of wild paradoxes, both in Philosophy and Religion, wherewith the world abounds every where. When our fancy hath entertained some uncouth thought, our self-love is apt to hatch it up, our confidence to broach it, and our obtinacy to maintain it; and (if it be not too montrous) there will not want some credulous fools to abet it: so as the onely way both to peace and truth, is true Humility; which will teach us to think meanly of our own abilities, to be diffident of our own apprehenions and judgments, to ascribe much to the reverend antiquity, greater sancity, deeper in ight of our blessed Predecessors. This onely will keep us in the beaten road, without all extravagant deviations to untrodden by-paths; Teach me, O Lord, evermore to think my selfe no whit wiser than I am; so hall I neither be vainly irregular, nor the Church troublesomely unquiet.

----Divers Treatises, by Joseph Hall. London: 1662, pg. 444.

J. C. Ryle on the Authorized & Revised Versions

The following was spoken by Bishop Ryle in the meeting of the Upper House (the bishops, that is) of the Convocation of York on Feb. 23, 1892, and reported in The Guardian, Feb. 24, 1892, pg. 261.

“I am not one of those who is disposed to run down the Revised Version to the extent that very often is done. I believe it contains a great deal for which the Church of England and the English-speaking population of the world ought to be very grateful. I think the alterations have thrown great light on many passages in the New Testament. Nevertheless, I cannot say that I like the Revised Version, and I never hear it read without feeling that in many respects it does not compare with what is commonly and vulgarly called the Authorised Version.”

Observe, Ryle here takes the ground which was held by almost everybody prior to the present generation, holding the general inferiority of the Revised Version, notwithstanding its improvements over the old version in some places, and standing for the excellence and superiority of the King James Version, without ever dreaming of its perfection. The present generation has witnessed a mass exodus from this sane and judicious position, some to the right hand, exalting the old version to the place of perfection, some to the left, depreciating the old version, and exalting the inferior modern versions above it----and each side reacting against the other side, and so entrenching itself deeper and deeper in the ditch on its own side of the path.


From the Letters of John Berridge

I find you walk much, and I hope you can wear your shoes out praying, as well as walking. Praying walks are healthful walks indeed. o

The more wicked men grow, the less ashamed they are of themselves; and the more holy men grow, the more they learn to abhor themselves. o

We scarcely know how to turn our backs on admiration, though it comes from the vain world; yet a kick from the world does believers less harm than a kiss. o

The first work of our heavenly potter, is to fashion the vessels of mercy by the finger of his Spirit; but the vessel is of little use yet for want of fire; therefore his last work is to cast the vessels into a furnace; and when baked well there, they come out meet for the Master's service. o

Jonah's whale will teach a good lesson, as well as Pisgah's top; and a man may sometimes learn as much from being a night and a day in the deep, as from being forty days in the mount. o

Through mercy, I know myself to be a fool, and can lament my folly to my friends; but my pride is such, that I do not like the world to call me what I call myself. o

It is an easy matter, I find, to get into debt, but no easy matter to get out. o

A Smithfield fire would unite the sheep, and fright the goats away; but when the world ceases to persecute the flocks, they begin to fight each other. o

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