by Glenn Conjurske
I subscribe to no newspaper. I read no newspaper. Not that I never look
at one. I do so occasionally. Once in a while
----probably not twice
a year on the average ----I will go to the local library to read
a newspaper or magazine report of some particular event. Thirty years
ago I subscribed to a weekly newspaper, but gave it up, feeling then that
I ought not to fill my mind with the worldly things which are the sole
content of newspapers. I had of course heard it often asserted that we
ought to keep up on what's going on in the world, but those
who asserted this never could give me a good reason for it. It appeared
to me that too much of keeping up on current events was no advantage to
a servant of God, but a detriment to his spirituality of mind. I therefore
deliberately determined to quit reading the newspaper. This I did not
lightly or glibly, but with a good deal of exercise of soul before the
Lord, and I have never had reason to regret it.
There are three reasons why I believe the saints of God ought to have
little to do with the newspaper. The first is what I have stated above,
that it fills the mind with worldly things, which are of no profit or
----or at any rate of so little profit that whatever advantage
there may be in them cannot begin to compensate for the loss incurred
in secularizing the mind, and pulling it down from higher and better things.
The second reason is that it is a waste of precious time.
The third reason I hold in reserve till later in this article.
To begin with the second reason, how can we justify the waste of time
spent in learning what's going on in the world? The doings
of this world in general are not worth knowing. They are petty, foolish,
and wicked, of no account for the work of the Lord. To read the news of
one day is to read the news of every day. The actors may be different,
but the events are the same. How many rapes and murders and automobile
accidents and airplane crashes and divorces must we read of to know what's
going on in the world? How many unrighteous decisions of judges
and juries? How much of political corruption? How many of fires and floods
and storms? Such events in general are of no more account to the work
of the Lord than the growing of the grass or the crawling of the worms.
Have the saints of God nothing better to do with their precious time?
Most of the events which they spend so much of their time to keep
up with will be no more remembered a year hence, and will certainly
no more matter a year hence, than the blowing of the wind. I very honestly
believe that in general it would be every bit as profitable to read each
day a newspaper a hundred years old, as to read the paper published today.
But now that I have said so much, I may as well say more. The actual fact
is, I believe it would be a great deal more profitable to read a newspaper
a hundred years old, than to read the current papers of the day. The old
papers, so far as I have seen them, are occupied with more important matters,
containing little or nothing about actors and actresses, or the latest
theatrical productions or popular songs and singers, and little or nothing
of sports. What they do contain is reported with much more detail. The
papers themselves are not so shallow as modern newspapers. Neither are
they so inveterately secular and irreligious. Whatever good we might glean
from a newspaper, in the understanding of human nature, we might surely
learn better from old papers than from new ones. True, the news
is old, but what of that? The news in fact has changed but little. The
events are the same in kind, the actors only being changed, and in general
the things reported in today's papers are of no more consequence to a
Christian than the things which happened a hundred years ago. Not that
I recommend reading a newspaper a hundred years old. I only say I believe
it would be of more profit than to read the current papers of the day,
but I see no sufficient reason why we should read either the one or the
The days are evil. This we know from the Bible. Must we also
know all the details of that evil? The Bible also says, The time
is short. How short it is we know not, but we do know that it is
too short for all that needs to be done. An ordinary newspaper will steal
an hour of our time, unless we have an extraordinary amount of self-control,
and even then we shall scarcely get away with the loss of less than half
an hour or twenty minutes. Meanwhile there are a thousand good books waiting
to be read
----books which will instruct and edify ----books
which will feed us with manna from heaven, and make the heart burn with
the good things of God. As I have grown older the realization has settled
upon me that I never will read many of the books which I long to read.
There is not time enough in one short life. But this much I can certainly
say, that I have read a good many more of them in the past thirty years
than I would have, if I had read the newspaper.
We will all one day stand before God and give account of how we have used
our precious little span of time. I do not wish then to say, I would
have read the works of Wesley and Baxter, I would have read the sermons
of Spurgeon, I would have read the books of Ryle, I would have read the
history of the Methodists, but I was too busy keeping up with
who was divorced in Hollywood, who lied in Washington, how many automobile
accidents there were in the state, where the helicopters crashed, where
the 'laborers' were striking, who filed an unrighteous lawsuit, who was
appointed ambassador to France, how much the stock market gained, who
retired after twenty-five years in the navy, who was arrested for selling
drugs, and who won the lottery.
But beyond the mere waste of time involved, I regard it as detrimental
to the soul to fill the mind with the passing events of this world. Can
it possibly be healthy to the soul to be occupied with the petty and inane,
the foolish and the wicked? This is not only unprofitable, but positively
damaging to the soul. It deadens all the spiritual sensibilities. This
is a thing which we can hardly afford. We are required by stern necessity
to have a great deal of commerce with mundane things, to earn our own
bread and care for our own temporal affairs. This is quite enough to deaden
and dull our souls, and must we fill our heads with the mundane matters
of the whole world besides? The Bible says, Set your mind [so the
Greek] on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col. 3:2).
This is a simple necessity if we are to maintain any vigor of spiritual
The fact is, it is not the province of the ungodly to determine what is
profitable for me to know, and I cannot see that I have any right to give
them that prerogative. God has given teachers to his church, but he has
given none to the world, and it is no business of the saints to go to
the world for their teachers. The teachers which God has given to the
church are men who by their superior attainments and understanding have
the capacity to determine what is needful and what is not, what ought
to be emphasized and what may be generally ignored, what is profitable
and what is unprofitable. Not that every one who sets up to teach in the
church has such an ability. There are many who take upon themselves the
office of teaching who would fill our minds with the trivial, to say nothing
of the false. But we must suppose that those teachers who are called of
God and given by Christ to his church have understanding enough to know,
in general, what is profitable. It is certain, however, that the teachers
of the world have no such capacity. Those who report the news commonly
report the most frivolous, trivial, inane, and petty matters
the doings of Hollywood, for example, and of the major league sports teams ----while
they leave more important matters untouched. This is especially true of
radio news reporters, but it is true in a degree of all the world's reporters
of news. The ungodly have no sense of what is worth while or important.
A war in Palestine and a divorce in Hollywood are all one to them. They
report what is interesting, not what is important. And they report what
is interesting to the ungodly, not to the godly. I absolutely decline
to allow such teachers to determine what I ought to know. For this reason
I decline not only the newspaper, but also all secular magazines.
Well, it will be said that we need not read everything in the newspaper.
This is true, and in this the newspaper has the decided advantage over
the radio news. There we must take all that they give us, and all the
advertising also. The same is obviously true of television news, though
I have never watched the news on television. We may at any rate choose
to read what we please in the newspaper. But in many cases we cannot tell
the character of the thing until we read it. Besides that, most of us
are not likely to have enough control over our curiosity to resist those
things which are unprofitable. The curiosity of the human race is insatiable.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
(Eccl. 1:8). Godly principle may control curiosity, but cannot eliminate
it. When we open a newspaper, we expose ourselves to a hundred temptations
to indulge our curiosity in that which is of no manner of profit for either
time or eternity. Every indulgence of that curiosity weakens our wills
and our self-control. The knowledge which we acquire by that indulgence
actually damages our souls. We fill our minds with the trivial and the
----not to mention the impure and the wicked. The influx of
the profane forces out the sacred. Our thoughts and meditations are dragged
down from heaven to earth. This is a positive detriment to the soul. Our
spirituality is weakened.
Mark, I do not say there is no profit in the current news. A bee can draw
honey from the rankest weed, and a man of God may turn most everything
to some profit. C. H. Spurgeon made an attempt to turn the current news
to profit in his little book entitled The Bible and the Newspaper, but
if the value of the book is not altogether as small as its size, this
is only because Spurgeon is Spurgeon, and likely to say something of value
whenever he speaks at all. But we think he could have said it as well
without the aid of the newspaper, and probably better. He often appears
as one laboring to make bricks without straw. We suppose he would have
made better bricks if he had made no attempt to cast them in a mould borrowed
from the newspaper. Some of his applications are forced enough, and he
seems rather to be working a pump with bad leathers than drawing from
an artesian well.
To take a couple of samples of the sort of news which Spurgeon comments
upon, first, The Paris correspondent of the 'Daily News,' of June
11, writes: 'The French have grown so clever at imitating pearls, that
a jeweller in this Exhibition shows a necklace which purports to be a
mixture of true pearls and false, and he challenges his customers to single
out the real ones if they can. Nobody had yet succeeded when I myself
made an ineffectual attempt.' The facts are no doubt interesting
enough to human curiosity, and such as any man with a little of spiritual
sense might easily turn to good account, but we think he would suffer
no loss if he never knew them. We do not suppose that a minister of Christ
stands in need of any such news in order to preach the truth, nor that
the people need to hear such news in order to learn the truth.
Once more, The 'Daily News,' June 21st, in an article upon horse-racing,
----'It is in regard to stamina that the French race-horses
distinguish themselves the most. While the English thoroughbreds can nearly
always hold their own against the French over short courses, they are
year by year less able to maintain their former supremacy over long distances.'
Such news is really beneath the notice of the ambassadors
of Christ, and we think the less there is of it in the pulpit and the
common conversation of the saints, by all means the better.
Yet Christ, we know, on one occasion made reference to a couple of current
events, and drew a solemn spiritual admonition from them, but these
were uncommon events, and matters therefore of common knowledge. He did
not go to the local news agency to learn of them, nor was it necessary
for him to relate them to the people in order to make an application of
them, for they knew them already. There were present at that season
some that told him of the Galilæans, whose blood Pilate had mingled
with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye
that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans,
because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent,
ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-3). There were...some
that told him, and I suppose most of us will hear enough, and likely
more than enough, of such extraordinary events as this one, without going
to the newspaper for it. On the same occasion the Lord referred to the
death of eighteen by the falling of a tower in Siloam. This was another
extraordinary event, and no doubt a matter of common knowledge, for the
Lord speaks of it on the assumption that his hearers know about it. It
was of a different nature from strings of pearls, and from most of what
appears in the newspapers.
We grant that a servant of the Lord may sometimes make a good spiritual
use of the news, and particularly of striking events which occupy the
minds of the people, but it is certain that the contents of the newspaper
will never be as profitable as spiritual things are, and it is certain
also that too large a diet of the world's news will weaken or destroy
To introduce my third reason for avoiding the newspaper, I give the following
extract from the correspondence of J. W. Alexander, son of Archibald Alexander.
He writes, I am seriously convinced, that more harm is done by newspaper-reading,
than by novel-reading. I know men who spend 2
----6 hours daily
over newspapers. There is no other production so heterogeneous and incoherent;
there is none in which we read so much that is not even interesting. Probably
each of us spends a hundred hours of morning-time per annum, on 1, Repeated
matter; 2, Accidents; 3, Crimes; 4, Idle narrative; 5, Unintelligible
or useless statements; 6, Error and falsehood; 7, Advertisements and proper
names. What better recipe for making a weak mind addle? We take the tone
of our company. Suppose a man's bosom-friend to talk an hour a day, exactly
like his newspaper. I am told Dr. Wilson used to read only a small weekly
sheet; and I have heard that Mr. Wirt, during his most active forensic
labours, spent three years without reading a newspaper.
Mr. Alexander confirms the two reasons which I have given above. The newspaper
wastes our time, and the hundred hours per year of which he speaks is
only about fifteen minutes a day. The newspaper damages our souls. We
take the tone of our company. But he introduces a third reason.
It weakens our minds. Now frankly, such a thing had never occurred to
me before I read Mr. Alexander's statement. When I wrote my article on
the weakening of the modern mind, it had never entered my head to include
the newspaper among the factors. But it must be understood that when Mr.
Alexander wrote, in 1841, most of the things which now weaken the minds
of men did not exist. Further, those things which now work to weaken men's
minds, as the radio and television, and the abundance of modern conveniences
and technology, exert so much stronger an influence in that direction
than the newspaper could, that we must now regard the newspaper as a very
Still, I suppose that Mr. Alexander is right about the newspaper weakening
----or making a weak mind addle. Addle means
empty, confused, or muddled. The word is often applied to the mind, in
such compounds as addle-brained, addle-headed,
and addle-pated. When I was a boy, whenever my mother was
confused or forgetful, she would say she was getting addle-pated.
But how does the newspaper addle our minds? No doubt by filling them with
the frivolous and the trivial, and so forcing out higher and better things
keeping us from any depth of thought or serious meditation. But this third
reason I present as the result of Mr. Alexander's meditations, not of
my own. With so many more powerful forces at work today to weaken our
minds, I must suppose the newspaper a small one. It is a strong force,
however, to waste our time and to destroy our spirituality.
But we are told by some of the leaders of the church today that we need
to know what's going on in the world. And I ask, For what
purpose? Spurgeon writes, in the preface to the book noticed above, 'I
read the newspaper,' said John Newton, 'that I may see how my heavenly
Father governs the world'; a very excellent reason. I think quite
otherwise. This world is the kingdom of the devil, and its course and
events form one of the most common arguments of the atheists against the
very existence of God. The general absence of the hand of God in the government
of the world is so obvious that the atheist concludes there is no God.
It has never occurred to him that God might purposely allow the world
to go its own way. I learn how God governs the world, so far as he has
anything to do with it, by reading the Bible. Passing events may occasionally
supply some striking examples of this, but we shall be none the worse
if we never hear of them, and most of what the world calls news is of
no manner of use.
For what purpose must we know the world's news? Have we some need which
the apostles never had? Few, I suppose, would contend that we need to
keep abreast of current events in order to walk with God. Abraham walked
with God in the plains of Mamre, where no newspapers existed. It is no
doubt for the sake of our ministry that we are supposed to need to know
the doings of the world. But if so, why did the current events play no
part in the ministry of the apostles? Read all of their epistles, and
see if you can find a single reference to the current news. Paul determined
only to preach nothing, but ----not to know any thing among
you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (I Cor. 2:2).
The plain fact is this: as a general rule those whose ministry is so much
occupied with current events have a different kind of ministry than what
the apostles had. Not only so, but their ministry has a different purpose
than that of the apostles. They aim to save America, to purify
Society, to make the world morally safe for their grandchildren, to protect
their own rights and freedoms, to influence legislation, to stop abortion,
to ban pornography, to elect conservatives
----in short to change
the world. The apostles had nothing to do with anything of the sort.
Are those whose labor and ministry consist so largely of such things above
the apostles ----or far beneath them? The apostles wrote very powerfully,
and very explicitly, of the character, course, and end of the present
world, and all this without a single reference to the current news. Why
may not the preachers of the present day do the same?
Leaving the Roast
Abstract of a Sermon Preached on August 2, 1998
by Glenn Conjurske
I'm going to do something this morning that I've never done before. I'm
going to preach on an old proverb. I've preached from a hymn, but never
from an old proverb
----at least, not so far as I remember. There's
another old proverb, however, that says Never say never. The
meaning of this is never to say I never will, for we change,
especially when we're young, and we find ourselves doing the thing we
said we would never do. But as we get older this proverb takes on another
meaning, and we learn not to say, I never did. The memory
shrinks, and the forgetory expands, and we don't know what we have done.*
At any rate, the proverb I want to speak on is this: Many a one
leaves the roast, who afterwards longs for the smoke of it. I've
thought a good deal on this during the past five years, since so many
folks left us. The proverb is not Scripture, but many of these old proverbs
embody much of the wisdom of Scripture, and this one certainly does. The
primary example in the Bible of one who left the roast and afterward longed
for the smoke of it is the prodigal son. Observe, the proverb does not
say that many a one who leaves the roast afterwards longs for the roast
again. No, he longs only for the smoke of it. The prodigal left the place
of a son, and afterward longed for the place of a servant.
Now there is a reason why those who leave the roast are so often compelled
to long for the smoke of it. They leave the roast, of course, expecting
to find something better. I can't think of anything better than a roast,
so I'll have to say they leave the roast expecting to find a better roast,
but instead they find a worse one, or no roast at all. They leave a good
place, and find themselves in a bad one. They find themselves in a place
so much worse than the one they left that they are compelled to long,
not for the roast, but only for a whiff of the smoke of it. Nothing is
more common than for discontented souls to leave a better place for a
worse one. That of course is not their intent, but they have no safeguard
against it, for the fact is, discontented souls always see their present
place as worse, and the other place as better. The grass is always
greener on the other side of the fence. Those who have been on the
farm will understand this. The cows are always reaching their necks as
far as they can through the fence, for the grass on the other side, though
the grass over there is just the same as the grass under their feet.
Men are no different than cows. They always see the other place as better
than this one, though in fact it may be a good deal worse. How is this?
Very simply, they focus their vision on the disadvantages and inconveniences
of their present place, and ignore all the good in it, while they look
at the good in the other place, and ignore the evil. In plain English,
there is nothing objective in their viewpoint. They look with the eyes
of passion, not the eyes of reason. Their deficiency of character warps
their vision. That deficiency consists primarily of ingratitude. If they
were properly thankful for the good which they have in a good place, if
they allowed that good to fill their hearts and their vision, they wouldn't
be preoccupied with the evils or disadvantages, and so would not be pining
for a change.
This deficiency of character plainly appears in the prodigal son. The
parable of the prodigal son is one of the most precious things in the
Bible, appealing to all the deepest and most tender emotions of our souls,
yet for years I delighted in this parable, and preached on it, without
seeing one of its most exquisite features. I always began with the prodigal
in the far country, as a most fitting picture of man as he is by nature.
The beginning of the parable I regarded as merely setting the stage. I
then heard a sermon on the subject by Bob Jones
----the first Bob
Jones ----in which he began at the beginning, with the prodigal
still in his father's house. He pointed out that the proof that the prodigal
didn't have any character is that he was discontented in a good place.
He was in a good place, and he wanted out of it. This is as much proof
of his bad character as his riotous living in the far country. He was
ungrateful. He didn't value or appreciate the good which he had. He was
longing for something else, and he was willing to sacrifice all the real
good which he had in order to go after it. In this he differed nothing
And you know, it does not take much to make discontented souls discontented.
Put some of these souls in Paradise itself, with everything the heart
could desire, with beautiful birds singing over their heads, and delicious,
juicy peaches and pears hanging all around them at shoulder height, with
raspberries as big as apples, and one fly buzzing about their heads, and
they would think of nothing but that fly, until they would be saying,
Oh! I just need to get out of this place!
This is how the devil worked with Eve, to make her discontented even in
Paradise. He occupied her with the one disadvantage of her place. He directed
all her vision to the one thing of which God had deprived her, putting
out of her mind all the good with which she was surrounded. Her one disadvantage
became her obsession. She must have that one thing which she could not
have where she was. Thus gratitude was swallowed up by discontent.
The prodigal son in the Father's house was nothing different from Eve
in the garden. They were both in a good place, and both dissatisfied there,
and both for the same reason. They were under restraint. They were under
authority, and they didn't like it there. There are only two things that
move men to leave a good place. Those two things are lust and pride. Eve
wanted something which was forbidden her in Paradise. The prodigal wanted
something he couldn't have in the Father's house. I suppose they were
both moved primarily by lust. Others are moved primarily by pride. They
don't particularly want anything different from what they have in the
good place, only they want it independently. I believe it is primarily
pride which is at the bottom of the phenomenon called church hopping.
People will leave a good church, and go hunting for another just like
the one they have left, only without the restraint or the authority which
they have left.
But those who leave a good place usually profess that they are going out
to find a better one. It most often happens, however, that they find instead
a worse one. One reason for this is that there is a God in heaven, and
a God who will not be mocked. When men are ungrateful and unappreciative
of the good place he has given them, and must leave it for a better,
he makes it his business to put them in a worse. When men leave the roast,
he makes it his business to make them long for the smoke of it.
But another reason why those who leave a good place often find a worse
one lies in the discontented souls themselves. The passions of lust or
pride are too strong to allow reason to be heard. Those passions warp
their vision. The bad place on the other side of the fence looks better
to them than the good place they are in. They trade in a Cadillac for
a Volkswagon, so they can have a bigger car. This is common, especially
in young people. A little driving in the Volkswagon, however, usually
serves to teach them that the Cadillac was bigger after all.
Pride and lust work hand in hand in discontented souls, but one or the
other of them will usually predominate. Where lust predominates, the hankering
for the grass on the other side of the fence may predominate. Where pride
predominates, it is only the desire to be outside the fence. Pride leaps
the fence merely to be outside, though it may know well enough there is
nothing better on the other side. Those who leave the roast for swine's
husks purely on the basis of lust are more easily cured. Those who do
so for pride's sake may be well nigh incurable. They will drive the Volkswagon
all their days, and stoutly maintain that it is bigger than the Cadillac.
In either case the cure will be found at the end of a long, hard road
of bitter experience. This is where the prodigal son found it. This is
where Naomi found it. She left the house of bread (Bethlehem)
for the land of Moab, and came back saying, The Almighty hath dealt
very bitterly with me. Those who leave the house of bread for the
sake of lust will have a long and bitter road ahead, but those who leave
it for pride's sake will probably have a much longer and more bitter one.
But there is a better way than any of this. Instead of acting on the wrong
passions, we ought to cultivate the right ones. The right ones are gratitude
for a good place, and, if the place is not so good as we would like, faith
and patience. This was David's way when he dwelt in the wilderness, and
in dens and caves of the earth. This was Joseph's way when he languished
in the prison. But pride and lust and unbelief make men impatient. They
will not wait for the Lord to improve their place, or give them a better
one, but must off to find one themselves. Pride and lust would have slain
Saul and taken the kingdom
----and David might well have pleaded
that it was no pride in him which supposed he was more fit for the throne
than Saul was ----but faith and patience waited. Another old proverb
would serve impatient and rash folks well, if they would but heed it.
It says, A stone that is fit for the wall, is not left in the way.
And observe, this is not true merely because the world has found out the
truth of it. It is true because men generally recognize true worth, and
if men do not, God does. It is true therefore because there is a God in
heaven. By faith we may securely take the lower place, for if there is
a God in heaven, and we are fit for a higher place, God will surely say
to us, Go up higher. This he will do in his own time, however,
and pride and lust will never wait for him. Pride and lust will never
lie in the field, but must climb up to find a place in the wall, whether
they are fit for the wall or not. But if we thus act on the wrong passions,
and gad about to find a better place for ourselves, God will often insure
that we find a worse one. If we cultivate the right passions, and make
it our business to be fit for the better place which we want, God will
give us that better place, when patience has had its perfect work.
Patience had its perfect work in David and in Joseph. Impatience had its
perfect work in the prodigal son, and in many another who has left a good
place for a bad one. Two different men have told me, when they left this
----one of them in a flood of tears ----that they had
no hope of finding another church like it, and yet they must be gone.
They were leaving a good place, in other words, believing in their own
hearts that they could only find a worse one ----deliberately leaving
a better place for a worse one. I am not sure what moved one of them ----unless
it were his wife. The other, I believe, simply wanted to be somebody.
He wanted a place for which he wasn't fit, and off he went to look for
one. He would have done better to labor to deserve the place which he
wanted ----for he could certainly have had it where he was if he
had been fit for it. But pride always thinks itself fit, and so thinks
itself deprived of what it deserves.
But I want you to understand that it is not always wrong to leave a good
place, or to seek a better. It is not wrong for a preacher to leave a
small place of ministry for a larger one. God may call him to go
up higher, but I can tell you this, that the man who will do well
in such a move is probably the man who was content where he was. He has
the ability to judge objectively of the place he is in, and of the place
to which he goes.
But there is not necessarily any wrong in leaving a good place for a better.
No place on earth is perfect. There was a famine even in the house
of bread when Naomi left it. Not that she necessarily ought to have
left it on that account. God can sustain the godly, even in a famine,
without their going to Moab. But no place on earth is perfect, and sometimes
we may find a better place, and be quite right in taking it. Paul says
in First Corinthians 7:20, Let every man abide in the same calling
wherein he was called, and in verse 24, Brethren, let every
man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. Thus he teaches
us to be content where we are, and to stay there, though he knows very
well that no situation on earth is perfect. Yet still he allows for change.
Indeed, in some cases he positively requires change. Therein abide
with God, he says, but we cannot abide with God in every
situation. Conscience and principle positively require us to leave some
situations, though in many cases what is called principle would be more
accurately called pride.
Paul says in verse 21, Art thou called being a servant? care not
for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. Care
not for it. The place is surely not the best, but it is good enough.
You can do the work of the Lord there. There are even advantages to servitude
which freedom cannot give us. Freedom from servitude does not give us
freedom from care, but rather adds to our cares. The servant does not
have to pay the rent or the electric bill, but he will have to pay them
when he is free. Still, freedom is better than servitude, and Paul does
not forbid us to leave a lower place for a higher, or a good place for
You will observe that Paul gives two pieces of advice here. First Care
not for it, and then use it rather. I think I see in
these the key to leaving a good place and finding a better. It most often
happens that those who leave a good place find a worse one. Those who
leave the roast find swine's husks. The key to preventing this is Care
not for it. The man who is contented in his place can view the other
place with the eyes of reason. The discontented can see only with the
eyes of passion, and can never see anything rightly.
Thus it was with the prodigal son. The far country looked better to him
than the Father's house. A full experience of the far country, however,
taught him otherwise, and he came at length to that most precious resolve,
I will arise and go to my Father. But observe what immediately
precedes this. It was when he came to himself that he said,
I will arise and go to my Father. When he came to himself,
that is, when he came to his senses, when he learned to view both the
Father's house and the far country through the eyes of reason, then he
said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and
to spare, and I perish with hunger. This is the voice of reason.
This is viewing both the good place which he had left and the bad place
which he had found with the eyes of reason. When he came to himself,
he longed for the smoke of the roast he had left. A contented heart, coupled
with the gratitude which his good place called for, would have enabled
him to see with the eyes of reason before he left the roast, and he would
never have left it at all.
Still we must allow that it is sometimes quite right to leave a good place
for a better. It is better to marry than to burn, though the
single have advantages which the married will never have, and the married
have cares of which the single know nothing. And if thou mayest
be made free, use it rather. Freedom is better than servitude, though
it will bring cares and responsibilities which servants never know. We
may quite legitimately leave a good place for a better, and it is precisely
a contented and grateful heart which will enable us to do so. Our first
business ought to be to cultivate contentment and gratitude where we are,
while we look to God to better our state, rather than to gad about for
a better place. Those who do the latter are always in imminent danger
of falling into a worse place.
And let us understand, contentment and gratitude must be carefully cultivated.
They are not natural to the fallen heart of man. Sin entered Paradise
through the door of discontent, and so it entered heaven itself, in the
heart of the devil. He was discontented in heaven itself, and precisely
because he was not in charge there. And the image of the devil is so deeply
stamped on the fallen heart of man that the same discontent reigns everywhere,
and for the same reason. It is especially rife in America, where the self-pleasing
notions of liberty and independence have been feeding and fattening everybody's
pride and self-will for two centuries. That pride and self-will make every
man discontented in every situation, no matter how good, so long as he
is not in charge. He would rather drive the Volkswagon than ride in the
Cadillac. If he cannot get a Volkswagon to drive, he will push a wheelbarrow
swear too that the wheelbarrow is better than the Cadillac.
Now if this discontent brought sin into Paradise, and into heaven itself,
how much more is it likely to move us to sin on this poor groaning and
travailing earth. There is no Paradise here, though there is something
in the heart of every one of us which cannot but long for it. It is the
inveterate bent of our hearts to scour the globe in search of Utopia.
That disposition will be well used if it moves us to find our rest and
our delight in heaven, but most of us are looking for Utopia on earth,
where we are sure to be disappointed. Our proverb gives us a subtle hint
of this. The fact is, every roast has its smoke
----for this proverb
was no doubt current before man graduated to cooking with gas.
But even cooking with gas ----even all the conveniences
of modern technology ----can give us no Paradise on earth. There
is no Paradise here. God drove man out of Paradise so soon as man sinned,
and God has no intention of giving us a Paradise here and now, in the
presence of sin. Another old proverb says, Wherever a man dwell,
he shall be sure to have a thorn-bush near his door. If you find
a place without a thorn-bush, God will plant one there as soon as you
move in. You cannot find a Paradise on the earth, and God will not give
But you can make your own Paradise. Not by altering your circumstances,
or by leaving one place for another, but by gratitude and contentment.
The thankful, contented soul is in Paradise everywhere, while the discontented
soul would be unhappy in Paradise itself. I am reluctant to use myself
as an example in a matter like this, but it just occurs to me that I was
out in the country the other day, in the county forest, praying and meditating
and picking berries. The flies were plentiful, buzzing about my head and
sitting on my arms. The mosquitoes were biting my arms and my back. The
sun was too hot. There wasn't much breeze, and I was hot and tired. The
thorns were scratching my arms and pricking my fingers. And do you know
what I did? Again and again my heart would well up with praise, and I
would say, God, I thank you for this place. I thank you for the
peace and quiet here. I thank you for the berries. I thank you that I
can be here, alone with my God. When a little breeze would blow
to cool me, I would thank God for the breeze. When a cloud came over the
sun to give me some shade, I would thank God for the cloud. I never complained
to him about the thorns or flies or mosquitoes. I was too occupied with
the pleasant things to think much about the unpleasant. I have afflictions
enough, reproach enough, poverty enough, and above all, disappointments
enough, and yet I can tell you honestly that the word which is constantly
on my lips, more than anything and everything else, is Thank you,
Father. You can't find a Paradise without, but you can make one
within. And those who have that Paradise of contentment and gratitude
within are in no danger of leaving the roast for the swine's husks. Those
who indulge their pride and lust are always in danger. They are so peeved
by the smoke that they can't enjoy the roast while they have it, and to
avoid the smoke they leave the roast. But it is the way of God to give
such souls more smoke and less roast in their new place, and they ought
indeed to thank him if he gives them all smoke and no roast, for this
works to cure the real problem, which was not in their place, but in their
The Position of F. H. A. Scrivener Again
by Glenn Conjurske
The liberal school of textual critics has been very determined to co-opt
the conservative critic, F. H. A. Scrivener, into its own camp. The pertinacity
of these critics certainly does honor to the abilities of Scrivener, but
we are not so sure it does any honor to the liberal critics who thus endeavor
to claim him, for it seems to us they must set aside the facts in order
to do so. In November of 1994 we endeavored to answer the claims of Philip
Schaff in that direction, by simply allowing Scrivener to speak for himself.
Since that time I have acquired Canon and Text of the New Testament, by
Caspar René Gregory, published by T. & T. Clark of Edinburgh
in 1907, on page 462 of which I find the following:
Scrivener came to see before he passed away that the Received Text
could not be supported so unconditionally as he had once thought. But
he expressed himself less distinctly in public, moved, I think, largely
by a kind consideration for his friend and staunch adherent John William
Burgon, whose devotion to that text scarcely knew any bounds.
This is a sample of the shallow sort of scholarship which characterizes
the liberal school of critics. I do not believe I will be overstating
the case if I say there is nothing in this statement which is true. In
method it exactly resembles the tactics of certain post-tribulationists,
who love to tell us that Brookes or Torrey or some other prominent pretribulationist
gave up the doctrine before they passed away, without offering one shred
of proof of it. If Gregory knew something of a private nature concerning
Scrivener's position, which stood against his public utterances, he ought
at any rate to have told us what it was. As it stands, he practically
accuses Scrivener of hypocrisy
----of thinking one way and speaking
another, or of speaking one way in private, and another way in public.
I shall come back to that, but first a glance at some other assertions
in Gregory's statement.
Burgon, whose devotion to that text scarcely knew any bounds.
Grammatically, that text can only refer to the Received
Text, of which he had spoken in the previous sentence. This is mere
caricature. None who have read Burgon with their eyes open
Dean Burgon Society notwithstanding ----can believe that Burgon's
devotion to the Received Text scarcely knew any bounds.
Scrivener came to see before he passed away that the Received Text
could not be supported so unconditionally as he had once thought.
This is more caricature. When did Scrivener ever suppose the Received
Text could be supported unconditionally? When he was twelve years old?
Certainly not in 1861, when he published the first edition of his Plain
Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament, in which he unconditionally
abandons I John 5:7, conditionally gives up God manifest in the
flesh, adds the second clause of I John 2:23, though still
absent from the textus receptus, and otherwise departs from the
Received Text in many places. Now 1861 was thirty years before he
passed away. This talk, then, of what he came to see before
he passed away is mere fiction. He saw it at least thirty years
earlier. If there was any change at all in his sentiments, it was in the
direction of a closer adherence to the Received Text, for in his third
edition, twenty-two years later than his first, he practically returns
to God manifest in the flesh, and retracts also his rejection
of Herod's did many things, which he had abandoned in his
second edition (not his first). I do not suppose these examples indicate
any actual change in his principles, but they at any rate indicate that
he was not moving in the direction which Gregory imputes to him.
But to return to the most serious thing in Gregory's statement, how does
it appear that Scrivener expressed himself less distinctly in public,
moved by a kind consideration for his friend, J. W. Burgon?
Unless those who assert this can tell us explicitly what he said in private
that was more distinct than what he said in public, we must regard this
assertion as the same sort of fiction which constitutes the rest of Gregory's
But we are compelled to pursue this a bit further. If Scrivener refrained
from speaking his mind while Burgon lived, for fear of offending Burgon,
why did he not speak more distinctly after Burgon died? Was
he afraid of Burgon's ghost also?
But more. If Scrivener had spoken more distinctly than he
did, this would not have helped Gregory's cause at all, but would have
had quite the opposite effect. What Gregory's cause requires is not more
distinct statements from Scrivener, but statements directly the reverse
of those which he actually made. The more distinctly Scrivener
speaks his mind, the more distinctly does it bear against
Gregory's position, unless we are to suppose that in what he did say he
was merely prevaricating, through fear of Burgon's ghost. I repeat here
Scrivener's last statement on the subject, which I published in my former
article, in November of 1994.
My lamented friend and fellow student, the late Very Reverend J.
W. Burgon, Dean of Chichester, very earnestly requested me, that if I
lived to complete the present work, I would publickly testify that my
latest labours had in no wise modified my previous critical convictions,
namely, that the true text of the New Testament can best and most safely
be gathered from a comprehensive acquaintance with every source of information
yet open to us, whether they be Manuscripts of the original text, Versions,
or Fathers; rather than from a partial representation of three or four
authorities which, though in date the more ancient and akin in character,
cannot be made even tolerably to agree together.
I saw on my own part no need of such avowal, yet (neget quis carmina
Gallo? [who would refuse a song to Gallus?]) I could not deny Dean Burgon's
Observe, Scrivener wrote this after Burgon was dead, so that it could
have been no fear of offending him which moved him. Observe
also that the statement lacks nothing in distinctness. It is a very distinct
statement of principles which are the direct contrary of Gregory's. It
is a direct repudiation of the principles of the liberal school of critics,
and a distinct avowal that his previous critical convictions
were in no wise modified
----a direct denial, therefore,
that he had come to see anything at all other than he had
seen before. True, Scrivener wrote this at Burgon's request, but the question
is not at whose request he wrote it, but, Is what he wrote the truth?
Scrivener made this statement at Burgon's request ----Burgon no
doubt saw the endeavors of the liberal school to claim Scrivener as one
of themselves, and evidently feared that he had not spoken his mind distinctly
enough ----but are we to believe that Scrivener thus wrote what
he did not believe, merely to honor a friend? He cannot have written it
to please Burgon, who was dead, and would never see it. Nay, the honesty
and sincerity of Scrivener's statement are transparent, as is the sincerity
of all that he wrote. Gregory's statement is as unworthy as it is untrue.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
n Stray Notes on the English Bible n
by the Editor
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- --
Carest Thou Not that we Perish?
So men have read in their English Bibles for some hundreds of years,
in Mark 4:38. We all know that the language is archaic, yet we all understand
it. And in fact it is no more archaic today than it was a century ago,
and yet the makers of the English Revised and American Standard Versions
retained it intact, in spite of all their liberalism. It was archaic in
form then, but it was perfectly understood, and so it is today.
But we live in a different generation
----a Neo generation,
in which everything must be modern and contemporary
and up-to-date, and we therefore can no longer read Carest
thou not that we perish? We must now have (in the NASV and the NKJV),
Do you not care that we are perishing? The NIV has, Don't
you care if we drown? ----manifesting, as usual, a little
more common sense than the others, but a good deal less of faithfulness
to the original, for neither if nor drown are
Of course all who loved the old English Bible must feel some loss at this,
but we know very well that the new versions were not made for those who
loved the old Bible. If they had been, they would have been made on a
different plan altogether. The new versions were made both by and for
those who did not love the old Bible.
But query: Is Do you not care that we are perishing?
this contemporary English? It certainly is not. It is just
such language as no man would speak today, at least not in America. Any
man who had such a thing to say today would certainly say, Don't
you care that we're perishing? ----certainly not, Do
you not care that we are perishing?
Carest thou not has at any rate the charm of age. It has just
the quaintness which every sensible man would expect in a book which everyone
knows to be very old. That quaintness, that sense of age, elicits our
veneration, while it does not detract from our understanding in the least.
But all of this is thrown to the winds by a generation which neither understands
nor values it, and in its place we are given something which is neither
ancient nor modern, neither literary nor conversational, but only artificial
and fastidious. It is really a wonder that the new versions are used at
all. I understand well enough the animus of modern Evangelicalism to get
rid of the old Bible, but are they determined to get rid of forceful English
Understand, Do you not care that we are perishing is no isolated
instance. There are hundreds upon hundreds of examples of this artificial
language everywhere in these new versions, creating everywhere an atmosphere
which is artificial and vapid. The NIV is less guilty of this than the
others, though its atmosphere is worse, not better.
And one of the most unfortunate things about this is that the same principles
which eliminate the language of the old Bible must, to be consistent,
eliminate the old hymns also. It must be mere hypocrisy to claim that
we cannot read Carest thou not that we perish? while we are
yet able to sing it. We may read a thousand things every day which we
----cannot agree with ----cannot identify our
hearts with ----cannot even understand. We may read what we abhor.
But none of this can we sing. What we sing we must make our own. It must
be the expression of our own hearts and minds ----our own doctrine,
our own experience, our own thoughts, our own longings and aspirations.
And will any man contend that it is proper for us to sing Carest
thou not that we perish? but not to read it? ----proper to
teach our children to sing it, but improper to read it to them?
If he will not contend this, he must either give up one of the grandest
hymns ever written*
----or give up the new Bibles. Nor is this a
lone instance. Examples of the same sort meet us at every turn of the
path. We have never yet seen The Old Hymns in Modern English,
and hope most earnestly we never do. It seems that so far, at any rate,
the users of the new Bibles have felt no need to modernize the old hymns.
They can apparently understand the old hymns, while they profess that
they cannot understand the old Bible. We think simple consistency demands
of them that they either give up the old hymns or the new Bibles. This
we say though we realize that the removal of the archaic language is not
the only matter in which the new versions differ from the old. They have
also removed many of the ancient landmarks, and removed besides much of
the vigorous English and the spiritual atmosphere of the old version.
Yet the removal of the archaic language is usually presented as their
Are there Few that Be Elected?
by Glenn Conjurske
The Bible is clear enough that there are few that are saved. Then
said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? (Luke 13:23).
The Lord does not answer the question directly, but does so by implication,
saying, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto
you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. This is as much
as to say that there are few that are saved. He says so more explicitly
in a similar passage. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is
the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many
there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is
the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
But those who believe that the sole cause of our salvation is an eternal
and irrevocable decree, by which God elected us to salvation, have commonly
been very uneasy with the fact that God has elected so few. This seems
to give the lie to the plain Bible statement that God is love
say nothing of the explicit statement of the Bible that he is not
willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
(II Pet. 3:9).
Most Calvinists who have a little of the love of God shed abroad in their
hearts are very uneasy with many of the tenets of Calvinism. They present
them in such soft terms as practically to deny them, while yet professing
to believe them. With nothing are they more uneasy than with the fact
that there are few that are saved. While the apostle Paul, constrained
by the love of Christ, would spend himself to save as many as he could,
the God who could save all as easily as he could save any, has deliberately
chosen to save few. So ill a notion does this give to us of the God of
love that it is no wonder at all that Calvinists have been uneasy with
it. The real wonder is that they can be reconciled to the fact that any
are lost. Some Calvinists, indeed, have as much stumbled over the fact
that any should be lost, as others have that many should be lost. The
legs of the lame are not equal, says Solomon (Prov. 26:7), and neither
are the legs of lame theology. Those who have strongly asserted the responsibility
of man, and as strongly denied his ability, have found themselves in possession
of a one-legged man, the result of their own operation. This doctrine
is such an outrage to man's innate sense of justice, and such an intolerable
burden to all his sensibilities, that it proves simply unendurable to
all who either think or feel. Many Calvinists apparently do little of
either, but those who have done so have been so absolutely uneasy with
the plight of their one-legged man that they have been driven to make
his legs equal again. This some of them have done by cutting off the other
----by denying his responsibility as well as his ability ----and
thus returned to consistency by a doctrine doubly false. By means of this
second operation those who had formerly held that the all for whom Christ
died meant a select few, were now observed to hold that the few who are
to be saved must certainly mean all. Among those who have taken this road
from Calvinism to Universalism are Count Zinzendorf, Andrew Jukes, and
many of the churches of New England.
Most Calvinists would never go so far, but they have yet gone farther
than they ought. They have labored to make out that the few who are saved
are in fact many after all. Of course they would not ordinarily do this
while expounding the text few there be that find it, but they
do it in other connections, and the fact that they do it at all indicates
how really uneasy they are with that system which they hold to be the
truth of God.
Augustus Toplady writes, Why are 'Calvin's notions' represented
as 'gloomy?' Is it gloomy, to believe, that the far greater part of the
human race are made for endless happiness? There can, I think, be no reasonable
doubt entertained, concerning the salvation of very young persons. If
(as some who have versed themselves in this kind of speculations, affirm)
about one half of mankind die in infancy; and if, as indubitable observation
proves, a very considerable number of the remaining half, die in early
childhood; and if, as there is the strongest reason to think, many millions
of those, who live to maturer years, in every successive generation, have
their names in the Book of Life: then, what a very small portion, comparatively,
of the human species, falls under the decree of preterition and non-redemption!
This view of things, I am persuaded, will, to an eye so philosophic as
yours, at least open a very cheerful vista through the 'gloom;' if not
entirely turn the imaginary darkness into sun-shine. For, with respect
to the few reprobate, we may, and we ought to resign the disposal of them,
implicitly, to the will of that only King who can do no wrong: instead
of summoning the Almighty, to take his trial at the tribunal of our own
speculations, and of setting up ourselves as the judges of Deity.
Thus the few saved of the Lord Jesus Christ becomes few
reprobate in the hands of the Calvinist. That infants who die are
saved we have no doubt
----though this has been denied by many Calvinists ----but
that half the race dies in infancy is only wishful thinking. As to the
many millions...in every successive generation who have been
converted, this is simply closing our eyes to the truth. There are few
that find the way to eternal life. Eight souls on the earth were righteous
at the time of the flood. Three only were saved out of the destruction
of Sodom, and only one of those actually righteous. There were only seven
thousand in Israel in Elijah's day, and perhaps none at all in the heathen
world. Generation followed generation for thousands of years in Africa,
China, India, Australia, North and South America, and all the islands
of the sea, without one ray of gospel light, while only a dim and flickering
light burned in some favored regions around the Mediterranean Sea. In
the present day, even in America, it is doubtful that one in a hundred
are actually converted, and when the Son of man cometh, shall he
find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8). There are few that find the
way to eternal life in any generation. Even the great awakenings which
have occurred from time to time have touched only a very small portion
of the surface of the globe, and converted only a small minority of the
Andrew Bonar says, Christ's favourite expression, when speaking
of His saved ones, is 'many.' Our Shorter Catechism should have said,
'elected many to everlasting life.' I am not sure but we shall be in the
majority yet when we are gathered into the kingdom. Strange, that
we who are always a pitiful and persecuted minority throughout the history
of the world should grow into the majority when we are gathered into the
kingdom. But no, for the Lord says, Fear not, little flock, for
it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke
12:32). Bonar's statement reveals the cravings of a good heart, burdened
by an evil system. Yet we suppose that a majority elected to salvation
could no more satisfy a good heart than a few, if God could as easily
have saved all, if he had merely chosen to do so.
A Brief Analysis of Calvinism, in The Presbyterian Magazine
for 1855, says, God, who is infinite in knowledge and power, and
'who hath mercy in (sic) whom he will have mercy,' having promised that
his eternal Son Jesus Christ our Saviour 'should see the travail of his
soul and be satisfied,' hath, in accordance therewith, eternally purposed,
that a large part of mankind should accept the terms of the Gospel.
A large number, no doubt will be saved, but still this is a small part
of the human race. To say a large part only betrays the uneasiness
which Calvinists feel with their own system.
C. H. Spurgeon says, I believe there will be more in Heaven than
in hell. If anyone asks me why I think so, I answer, because Christ, in
everything, is to 'have the pre-eminence,' and I cannot conceive how He
could have the pre-eminence if there are to be more in the dominions of
Satan than in Paradise. Moreover, I have never read that there is to be
in hell a great multitude, which no man could number. I rejoice to know
that the souls of all infants, as soon as they die, speed their way to
Paradise. Think what a multitude there is of them! Then there are already
in Heaven unnumbered myriads of the spirits of just men made perfect,
redeemed of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues up till
now; and there are better times coming, when the religion of Christ shall
be universal; when
'He shall reign from pole to pole,
With illimitable sway;'
when whole kingdoms shall bow down before Him, and nations shall be born
in a day; and in the thousand years of the great millennial state there
will be enough saved to make up all the deficiencies of the thousands
of years that have gone before. Christ shall be Master everywhere, and
His praise shall be sounded in every land. Christ shall have the pre-eminence
at last; His train shall be far larger than that which shall attend the
chariot of the grim monarch of hell.
We really doubt that Christ's pre-eminence has anything to do with the
matter, or that any comparison with the devil is remotely thought of in
the passage. Neither is the devil any monarch in hell, but
a prisoner like the rest. Neither will he have any loyal subjects there,
but will no doubt be cordially hated by all, as the prime cause of their
own misery. It is certain that Christ has no numerical pre-eminence over
the devil today, and if he must gain it in the end by means of the death
of infants, this appears to be an empty victory.
As for the millennium, it is certain that the millennial day will be ushered
in by the destruction of all the billions of the ungodly who now inhabit
the earth, and not by their conversion. There is nothing in the Bible
about nations being born in a day. That applies to one nation only, the
nation of Israel. As for the godly in the millennium making up all
the deficiencies of the thousands of years that have gone before,
we observe that this grants (against Toplady's arguments) the real deficiencies
of the previous ages, but we see no reason to believe the millennium will
make them up. We know that at the end of the millennium, when Satan is
loosed for a little season, he will find a ready following, and a very
large one also, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
(Rev. 20:8). The fact that these have outwardly submitted to Christ previously,
while necessity compelled them
----for he ruled them with a rod
of iron ----does not indicate that they were subject to him in heart,
and they certainly will not be swept up to heaven when they are devoured
by the fire of God.
Neither do we suppose that the growth of the population will be so great
in the millennium as to make up the deficiencies of all that have lived
for thousands of years before. We know that as a part of the curse which
God put upon the woman, he greatly multiplied her conception (Gen. 3:16),
and we suppose that when the curse is removed, that facet of it will be
removed also. If men (or animals) continued to reproduce during the millennium,
with no death to diminish their numbers, at the same rate at which they
do today, the earth in a few years would be unable to support the number
of rodents and insects, if not of men.
Spurgeon's arguments, then, are not convincing. They indicate no more
than the uneasiness which he naturally felt with the system which he supposed
to be the truth. We suppose that these men did right well to feel the
uneasiness which they evidently felt with their Calvinism, but they went
about the wrong way to remedy it. They ought to have given up their Calvinism,
instead of modifying the plain truth of God. There are few that are elected.
Many are called, but few are chosen. This election, however,
stands upon what they are, and not upon the mere sovereign pleasure
of God. It is according to foreknowledge. Their destiny is
determined by their own acts, and it is therefore that few are saved.
This is no reflection upon God, who will have all men to be saved,
and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (I Tim. 2:4).
Modern Technology and the Sin of Sodom
by Glenn Conjurske
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness
of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither
did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty,
and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw
good. (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
The iniquity of Sodom was a complex thing. They committed abomination,
as we all know, but this was only the final step in their course of iniquity,
nor can we suppose that the whole city was guilty of Sodomy, though it
was evidently winked at and tolerated by all. But long before such abomination
came pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Idle
hands are the devil's tools, and the idleness no doubt led to the
Now if we were to ransack history and literature for an apt description
of the sin of America, we could scarcely find anything more apt than this
description of the sin of Sodom. Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance
of idleness is the very essence of American society. No prouder
nation has ever lived, no wealthier, and no more idle. And America has
descended to the very dregs of the abomination of Sodom, and in her official
position, as seen in her legislatures and courts, is passionate in defending
that abomination. Many of the churches and much of the populace also favor
In one particular only does the description of Sodom's iniquity vary from
a description of that of America. America (in her corporate capacity,
at any rate) has not failed to strengthen the hand of the poor and
needy, but has been the great benefactor of the poor of the whole
world. She has fed her enemies, and fed her own so-called poor
with more of determination than of wisdom. Perhaps this alone has saved
America thus far from the judgement of Sodom, for in every other particular
their sins are identical.
But what I wish to speak of in particular in this article is the prevailing
atmosphere of Sodom. Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness
was in her. It would be impossible to find a more perfect description
than this of America.
First, pride. There is a great deal of national pride in America, pride
in being the greatest nation on earth
----the richest and most powerful,
and the leader of the free world, or of the whole world. It
is hardly necessary to say that modern technology has greatly increased
the outward greatness, and so the pride, of America.
Next, fulness of bread. There cannot be the slightest doubt that modern
technology and invention have greatly multiplied the fulness of bread
in America. A man with a tractor and other modern machinery can plow,
plant, and reap a hundred times what he could with a team of horses. Modern
invention has thus multiplied the fulness of bread in modern America a
hundred times over what it ever could have been in Sodom.
But there is another facet to this. Man can only eat so much bread. Give
him cakes and sweets and tasty morsels of every possible description,
and still he can only eat so much. Fulness of bread, then,
beyond a certain point, becomes a matter of indifference. But modern society
has gone much beyond fulness of bread. Modern technology has brought about
a fulness of luxuries, of which the wildest dreams of Sodom must have
been entirely innocent.
Next, abundance of idleness. Here again, nothing can be more obvious than
that modern technology has very greatly increased this. This land is literally
filled with machines and robots and computers which do the work which
men were once obliged to do, and one machine may often do the work of
a hundred or a thousand men. The only possible result of this is to greatly
increase the idleness
----or leisure ----of the nation. If
Sodom of old was characterized by abundance of idleness, without
the possession of a single modern machine or convenience, how much greater
is the abundance of idleness which all of this technology
has brought about.
Modern invention, in other words, has very greatly increased and every
way enhanced the very things which are characterized in the Bible as the
sin of Sodom. Yet there are many who regard all of this technology
as the work of God. Such are deceived. This is not the work of God at
all, but the work of the devil. It is the very work which God foresaw
at the tower of Babel, and which he confounded the tongues and scattered
the race to prevent. Now nothing will be restrained from them, which
they have imagined to do. (Gen. 11:6). Now nothing has been restrained
from them which they have imagined to do, and one of the results of this
has been to very greatly augment their pride, fulness of bread,
and abundance of idleness. This cannot be the work of God.
I do not write to recommend any radical course of action. My concern is
with where our hearts and our minds are. It is a virtual necessity to
use the world, if we are to be of any use in it. We are not called to
be monks or hermits. To use the world is legitimate. To love it is not.
Necessity may oblige a man to drive the car which killed his child, but
he cannot love that car. Necessity may oblige a man to use the axe which
killed his father, but he cannot love that axe. It is thus that Christians
may use the world. They use it with hearts estranged and aloof, knowing
that the world crucified their Lord, and that it is his inveterate enemy
still, and the enemy of their own souls also. But the ignorance which
prevails on this theme is so great that the church mistakes the devices
of the enemy for the works of the Lord. Where such ignorance prevails,
it is impossible to understand either the ways of God or the ways of the
----and these two things are by all means the most important
to be understood.
Let us understand, therefore, that those things which have inundated the
earth with pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness
are certainly not the work of God. When sin entered the world God divorced
fulness of bread from abundance of idleness, saying, In the sweat
of thy face shalt thou eat bread. But what God put asunder the devil
has joined together. The devil has done his best to remove the curse from
the earth, without Christ, where sin yet reigns and righteousness suffers.
One of the greatest means in his hands to accomplish this is modern technology.
Gems of Wisdom from Vavasor Powell
Some gratious Experimental and very choyce Sayings,
and Sentences, collected out of his Papers
[Vavasor Powell was a Welsh Baptist, who was born in 1617, and died in
prison in 1671. His theology was plain and practical, after the usual
pattern of those times, before intellectualism had become the bane of
the church. He is occupied primarily with sin and holiness, as the Bible
also is. The following choyce Sayings are taken from Life
and Death of Mr. Vavasor Powell, printed in 1671, from the chapter entitled
as our subtitle above.
Saints hould fear every Sin, but no Sufferings.
It is the property of a true Christian to justifie God, and to judge
himself under the greatest afflicions.
It is and hould be the care of a Christian, not to suffer for Sin, nor
Sin in sufferings.
There is no real Bondage but what is either from, or for Sin.
Christians will sooner overcome their outward Enemies by praying for them,
then by praying against them.
Bad times well improved, are far better then good times, not redeemed,
Shut thy Eyes from beholding, thy Ears from hearing, and thy Heart from
He that is willing to part with his dearest Lust, will be willing to
part with his dearest Life also.
The Saints are to bear a threefold Testimony, to and for Christ, and
his Truths, Breath testimony, Life testimony, and Blood testimony.
Speaking Words, maintaining Opinions, and the outward performing of Duties,
and partaking of ordinances are but the least things in Religion.
The strength of all Corruption sometimes appears in one, and do but overcome
your master in, and you overcome all.
That Soul doth grow empty, that is alwayes letting out, but not careful
to lay in.
Conider that when you are not assaulted with Temptations, Satan is damming,
and pounding, and he will suddenly draw up his Sluce and let loose upon
Satan doth not (like God) warn before he strike.
A Christians security and safety is in doing his duty, and he hould study
his duty more then his safety.
He that loves not Christ more then his Lust or his Life, is like to lose
Christ, and his Life, but he that loves Christ more then his Life, hall
be sure to save, and keep both.
Christ is unto the Soul as the Loadstone to the Iron drawing to it self,
or the Cristial to the other Stones, putting Beauty, and Lustre on them.
A Christian beholds Christ in the deepest Afflicion, as well as in the
most spiritual Ordinance.
Make haste to do thy work, Christian, and God will make haste to give
thee thy Wages.
Thou must dye once whether thou suffer or no, and thou canst dye but
once if thou suffer.
The ins of Saints are new sufferings to Jesus Christ, and the sufferings
of Saints are the Wounds of Christ.
To see the want of Grace is much, the worth of Grace more.
Tis hard to get Grace, hard to get assurance of Grace, hard to use it,
and not abuse it.
Tis very hard to behold our own Gift without Pride, and the Gifts of
others (if they excel ours) without Envy.
Do not commend thy Friend, nor discommend thy Foe too much, least thou
be judged to be partial.
He commands most and best, that commands in Love, Humility and Self-denyingly.
He hath not learned to rule, that hath not learned to obey.
The world is a great nothing, deluding the bad, disturbing, and distracing
Thoughts of our own death will tend much to deaden in.
God hath set the Tongue between the Brains, and Heart, that it may advice
with both, and within two Guards to keep it in, and yet it is unruly.
Christ and Sin are most magnified in the Eyes of Believers in their afflicions,
but in a different manner and to a different end, and then Christ is most
deired and Sin most dispised.
Christ puts most of his Oyle in broken Vessels, in broken Hearts, there
is most Grace and best kept.
The less a man trives for himself, the more will Chrit trive for him.
Small ins yeilded too, make way for greater, and one in for another.
To take pains about unnecessary and unprofitable things, is laboriouly
to mispend time.
Zeal without Knowledge to guide it, is like mettle in a blind Horse which
stumbles and overthrows the Rider.
Young Christians commonly want a Curb, and old Christians a Spur.
Questions & Answers
When we are young we know all the answers. Hence the old French proverb,
Ask the young people: they know everything.
As we grow older, if we think a good deal, and learn humility, we begin
to learn what the questions are.
As we grow older still, and gain more of experience, if we continue to
meditate and to wrestle with the questions which we have learned, we begin
to learn what the answers are not.
As we grow still older, if we continue to think and to get wisdom with
all our getting, we begin to learn what the answers are. Hence the Bible
says, With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
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.