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Vol. 8, No. 12
Dec., 1999

To Him that Hath

by Glenn Conjurske

It is perhaps universal among the sons of men to desire something more or better than we have. Whatever may be said for such desires in the material or temporal realms, they are certainly perfectly legitimate in the spiritual sphere. It is a sign of lukewarmness to be complacent with such things as we have, and to think we have need of nothing. It is a sign of spiritual life and vigor to desire greater things----a greater sphere, a greater ministry, more or better spiritual fellowship, a more spiritual church, a greater sphere of influence. Now the Bible tells us plainly how to obtain such things. To him that hath, it teaches us, shall more be given. The sure way to obtain more, then, is to have.

But what can this mean? No doubt the meaning is enigmatic, yet it is plain enough for all that. To have means to be faithful with what we have, and so to have it to good purpose. To have is to have some increase, by the faithful use of that which has been committed to us. In the parables of the pounds and of the talents, this is set forth with the utmost clarity. Every man had something, but every man was not faithful with what he had. Every man did not have it to good purpose. Of the man who hid his talent in the earth, the Scripture says, “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Matt. 25:28-29). It is perfectly plain, then, that every man has something. “He that hath” is he that hath it to good purpose. “He that hath not” is he that makes no proper use of what he hath.

It is just the same in the parable of the pounds. “And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 19:24-26). All this is as clear as a sunbeam, and it follows, of course, that the way to obtain more, and to have abundance, is to have what we have to good purpose.

I am perfectly well aware that the proper application of these scriptures is to the salvation of the soul, for the parable of the talents closes with, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 25:30). I am aware also that the more which is given is in the resurrection, and the abundance which is therefore possessed is in the eternal state. Nevertheless, I believe also that God proceeds upon just the same principle in this life. The judgements and rewards of the Almighty are not all reserved for the life to come. Some of them are doled out in the present life, and these doubtless upon the same principles as the rewards which await the life to come.

I hold it as a certain truth, then, that the way to advancement in the present life is faithfulness. The way to obtain more is to have what we have to good purpose.

But to increase our stock by faithful dealing is a long and laborious process, such as ill suits the present impatient age. There are many who can never be content to be faithful in the place and with the portion which God has given them. They pine for more. They look at the five talents of their neighbor, and are discontented with the two which God has given them. Instead, therefore, of settling down to make the most of what they have, we see them scouring the country, or the globe, hunting for a better place, and a larger portion. Modern technology has made this easy. The automobile, the airplane, and all the wonders of electronic communications, have made it easy to scour the globe in search of a better place, and there are many in the church who make this their business, instead of making it their business to be faithful with the place and portion which God has given them. They could do something for God where they are, but instead of this they must hunt for a bigger place. If God has given them but little to do, they might be something where they are. What did Moses more than this in his forty years in the back side of the desert? God surely gave him more in due time, but it did not come to him by his restless seeking. What could Joseph do in the prison-house? God surely gave to him a better place in due time, but this did not come to him by his restless seeking. It came to him as the reward of his faithfulness with the little which he had.

Ah! but the way of Moses and the way of Joseph, which is the way of God, takes time. It requires faith also, and patience besides. And what is so far from the present restless age as “faith and patience”?

Mark, this restless seeking for higher things, for a better place, for a more substantial portion----though it all be purely spiritual----is not the work of faith, but precisely of unbelief. We all have something, and it is the way of faith to receive the portion which we have as the allotment of the Lord. This is the obvious fact in both the parable of the talents, and that of the pounds. The Lord determined what every man should receive, and this he did, by the way, according to every man's several ability, and that ability consists not of skill and capacity only, but of character also. But you think God has mistaken your case, and overlooked your abilities. You are fit for a greater place than he has given you. By all means, then, prove your fitness by making the best of the little which he has given you. If he has given you but a little garden to till, and you think yourself fit to farm a square mile of land, prove your fitness by making your little garden the best in the country. Surely the man that is fit to farm a section can till a tenth of an acre. But instead of this, you neglect your little garden, while you go off to search for a ranch, and probably claim to do this by faith also.

We have nothing against seeking higher and better things, so long as we seek them by faith, from the hand of God, and in the way of patient faithfulness in the smaller sphere in which he has placed us. It is not such seeking which I impugn, but that restlessness which seeks a greater place instead of being faithful in the smaller place in which God has placed us. The man whom God has set in the pew wants the pulpit. He scorns to be faithful in the pew. He scorns to knock on doors, or support the man in the pulpit, or bring others to hear him. He must have the pulpit himself, and if he sees no prospect of having it where he is, he will scour the globe in search of one elsewhere. The man who has a small church must have a big one, and instead of making it his business to be faithful in the small church, to make all that he can of the little which God has given him, he scours the country in search of a bigger church.

And I have commonly observed that it is usually the least fit who are the most determined for a promotion. The ignorant, the unspiritual, the proud, the contentious, the selfish, the belligerent, the hair-brained, all these are possessed of what has been called the preaching fever. They must have a pulpit, and will go anywhere, and sacrifice the truth besides, to obtain one. I am not speaking theories now, but what I have seen with my eyes.

Thus do pride and unbelief and impatience conspire to keep men from their duty----pride which supposes itself worthy of a better place, or fit for a higher one, coupled with the unbelief which has no confidence that God will give the larger place in his own way and time, and the impatience which is unwilling to wait upon him for it.

But let it be understood, we say nothing of this to encourage lukewarmness, much less compromise. Those to whom God has given but little ought by all means to aspire to more. We say nothing against this. The lack of such aspirations is surely lukewarmness. We frankly doubt that any could aspire more than we do ourselves. But those aspirations ought not to lead us to neglect our duty. They ought to lead us precisely to a long and determined course of faithful plodding in the narrow sphere or the obscure corner in which God has placed us. This much is safe, whatever else our aspirations may lead us to. “Unto every one that hath shall be given,” and to have means neither more nor less than to make the best use of those things which God has committed to us----to increase our little stock by the faithful use of it. And after all, there may be more of lukewarmness in scouring the globe for a bigger farm, than there is in diligently cultivating the little farm which I have.

But if I would say nothing to encourage lukewarmness, much less would I encourage compromise. There are some places which ought to be left. It is not faith to remain in an apostate church or a compromised organization, on the plea that this is where God has put me. I do not blame men for leaving worldly and unspiritual churches. But I have observed another thing. The restless seeking for higher things quite often takes the actual form of embracing lower things. Men leave a good place----a spiritual church----because it fails to give them the personal advancement which they seek, though they are sure to profess some other reason. Having left the spiritual church, they seek out a shallow and worldly one, merely because it offers them a larger place than they had where they were. They strain out gnats, and swallow camels. And all this they do under the guise of faithfulness, of zeal, of devotedness, or of some other spiritual virtue. It is nothing of the sort. It is pride and unbelief and impatience.

Let men aspire all they please to higher and better things, and we shall have nothing to say against it. Only let them do this in the way of faithfulness in the smaller sphere which God has committed to them. There is no better way on earth to prove our fitness for a larger sphere, than to be faithful in a smaller one. And there is no surer way to prove our unfitness than by failing to keep the vineyard which God has given us, while we go about to find a better. Such a course proves only our pride and unbelief and impatience. “He that is faithful in that which is least is”----and will be----”faithful also in much.” And so God will reckon when he seeks a man to fill the larger place.

And oh, what a refreshing thing it is to behold faithfulness in a small sphere----to find a man or woman who, instead of whining over their hard lot or their small sphere, instead of blaming everyone who might be responsible for it, will simply take hold with determination and make all that they can of the little which God has given them. I wish to present to my readers a couple of examples of such faithfulness, and of the glorious fruits of it. Both of these are taken from the chapter entitled “Pioneer Women” in J. B. Finley's excellent Sketches of Western Methodism.

“When the Rev. Bennet Maxey traveled as a missionary in Georgia, about the close of the Revolutionary war, the following incident occurred, which he related to me with his own lips. It will be recollected that nearly all that country was a wilderness, inhabited by savage Indians. There were but few Methodist societies, and they were widely separated. The missionary, in his long and perilous journeys, could only reach them occasionally, and in doing so would have to encounter almost as much toil and hardship as the emigrant now does in crossing the plains to California. Even then, with all his zeal and perseverance, there were some settlements that could not be reached without a reinforcement of missionary laborers. In one of these settlements, six miles distant from each other, there lived two pious women, who had emigrated to the country from the state of Maryland, where they had been converted and joined the Methodist Church. They felt the loss of the ministrations of the Gospel. No Sabbath brought with it its holy scenes and sanctuary privileges. The time of the people seemed to be occupied, on Sabbaths, in the sports of the chase, or in idle and frivolous amusements. While, however, the neighbors were engaged in the desecration of the holy Sabbath, these two pious women agreed to meet half way between their respective cabins, and hold a prayer and class meeting by themselves. Sabbath after Sabbath these devoted females walked to their appointment in the woods, and there, in the depths of that southern forest, with no eye to see but God, they spoke to one another about their trials, and conflicts, and hopes, and 'the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrances was written before him.' The voice of praise and prayer echoed through the wildwood. They not only prayed for themselves and their neighbors, but they besought the Lord that he would send the Gospel into that wild and destitute region. One Sabbath, while thus engaged in religious exercises, they were overheard by a hunter, who came unconsciously upon their retreat; and there, in the language of the poet, in that

'Scene where spirits blend,
And friend holds fellowship with friend,'

around that common mercy-seat, they united their supplications. It was holy ground, and a sacred awe came over him, as from the covert of a tree he listened to their praises and their prayers. This hunter's cabin was not far distant from the place of meeting, and every Sabbath he would, at the appointed time, take his station and listen to the soul-thrilling eloquence of their prayers and songs. He had not, though a roving hunter, been reared altogether without the influences of religion. His pious mother, long since in heaven, had taught him the fear of the Lord, and her instructions and prayers would cross his memory in his wild, erratic course, and like the recurrence of a pleasant dream awaken hallowed memories. On a certain Sabbath he resolved to introduce himself to the strange, mysterious worshipers; and, accordingly, after they had concluded their meeting, and were taking leave of each other to return to their homes, he appeared before them, and in tones of kindness invited them to meet at his cabin on the next Sabbath, and he would collect his neighbors.

“Here was a trial which they had not anticipated. But they regarded it as an interposition of divine Providence in their behalf; and though it would be a heavy cross, requiring the greatest amount of moral courage and endurance, to meet the rough and sturdy backwoodsmen, and hold meeting in their midst, they must not deny their Master in refusing to enter this open door. It was, accordingly, noised abroad, that two women were going to hold meeting at the hunter's house; and as the thing was entirely new, the whole neighborhood went. The husbands of the two pious and devoted women, not knowing it was their wives, but being filled with curiosity at the singular announcement, were among the number of those who took their companions with them to the place of meeting. Their astonishment can better be imagined than described, when they saw them take their places in the cabin as the women that were to hold meeting on the occasion. One of them read a chapter in the Bible, which she did in a clear, strong voice, and then gave out a hymn, which was sung by the two and the congregation to some familiar tune; after which they kneeled down, and the one who had read the Bible offered up a most fervent and deeply-impressive prayer to God, in behalf of the congregation assembled. After prayer was over they united in singing one of those songs of Zion, with which they had made the woods ring at their Sabbath meetings previous. Many a heart was touched, as the divine strains rolled over the wondering assembly, and the tear stole down many a rough, sun-burnt face. When this was ended, the other rose tremblingly but firmly, as with the heart of a giant, and commenced telling the plain, simple story of her conversion. As she spoke, her voice assumed a majesty and a power truly wonderful. God sent down his Spirit and attended it with power to the hearts of the audience; and first the hunter, and then the two husbands, unable any longer to repress their feelings, broke out in loud cries for mercy. Several, while she was speaking, fell, as if smitten with lightning, to the floor, others fled from the house in the greatest consternation. These pious sisters in the Lord were not frightened by this exhibition of divine power; for although it was farthest from their anticipations, yet they had been familiar with such scenes in the days of their youth. They knew 'it was the Lord's doings, and it was marvelous in their eyes,' and they, therefore, commenced singing and praying with the slain of the Lord. It was not long till several were happily and powerfully converted to God, and this increased the power; and they were set immediately to work to pray for penitents and sinners. The work spread, mighty consternation fell upon all the people, and far and near, those who had not attended at the beginning flocked to the place of prayer. The hunter and his wife, and the two husbands were all converted, and the meeting continued with but little intermission, night and day, for two weeks. It was what might properly and most significantly be denominated a protracted meeting. The news of the wonderful work flew as on the wings of the wind, to the distance of forty or fifty miles, when it reached the ears of brother Maxey, who immediately started for the scene. When he arrived, he found the two faithful female heralds of the cross still on the ground, fighting most manfully the battle of the Lord. They had already received forty new recruits, all converted and happy in the love of God, and they were all living, speaking witnesses for Jesus----not a still-born child in all their ranks. Scarcely had the itinerant reached the scene of action, than, like the old soldier, at the sound of battle, the power of God came on him, and he entered the ranks of God's army with a shout of victory and triumph. They at once recognized his spirit, and hailed him as a fellow-soldier; but how great was their rejoicing when they found him to be one of Immanuel's officers, in the great army of God! To him the sisters cheerfully intrusted the leadership, and he led them forth valiantly to glorious war. With a voice like a trumpet, and a love for God and zeal for souls which was like fire in his bones, he went from neighborhood to neighborhood proclaiming salvation, and the work spread and prevailed, so that before the revival ceased, it had covered a sufficient extent of country to form a good large circuit, in the entire bounds of which there never had been preaching before.

“And now, dear reader, what a field for reflection is here!----a wonderful manifestation of the power of God, through the agency of two pious, heroic, Christian women. How many would have said, could they have witnessed these two devoted females, commencing their religious exercises at that meeting, where were crowds of ungodly men, collected from all parts of the country, and impelled by mere curiosity at the novelty of the thing, 'How improper! how unlike the decency and order which the apostle Paul enjoins should be observed in religious worship! And then, how shocking to delicacy, for women to speak in public, especially in such a mixed assembly!' But we see in this, as in other similar manifestations, that God's ways are not as our ways; and that He who has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and things that are naught to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh might glory in his presence, the excellency of the power being of God and not of man, selected those two females as the chosen instruments of his Holy Spirit, to bear the messages of mercy and salvation to that dark and destitute region. We are obliged to concede this, or to admit what is abhorrent to every Christian; namely, that the Holy Spirit will sanction and set its seal to a work brought about by improper agencies.

“Again: what Christian, who even believed that it was right and proper, and perfectly in accordance with that 'decency and order' recommended by the apostle, for women to exercise their gifts in singing, and prayer, and Christian conversation or exhortation, would have had faith to believe that any good would have resulted from such a meeting? Yet these Christian females had faith, and according to that faith so it was to them. Besides, the circumstances were such as to justify such a procedure. In their neighborhood there were no ministers of the Gospel, and no Sabbath and sanctuary privileges; and impressed by the Spirit to pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers, they went to prayer, and God heard and answered in a way that they had not anticipated, and that human reason could not have divined.”

Now these women might have pined and whined over their hard lot, might have envied others who had more than they had themselves, might have put all their energies into seeking another location, or wishing for another location, where they could have the blessings of preaching and Christian fellowship, but none of this they did. Instead of this they faithfully made the most of the little they had. They had their little to good purpose, and to them that had, more was given, and indeed they had abundance.

The next example is even more striking, for this woman had not even a friend with whom to meet. She had in fact almost nothing, but instead of pining away for her lack, or restlessly seeking a better situation, she faithfully made the best of the almost nothing which she had.

Finley continues, “We will relate another incident of female devotion, which occurred in the bounds of the Ohio district. In the year 1817, while we were traveling with a fellow-itinerant, in passing along between the waters of Oil creek and Scrub Grass, which empties into the Alleghany river above Pittsburg, we came in sight of an old dilapidated log church. The sight of an old church gone into decay, never fails to awaken in our minds many reflections, and we never pass one without feeling an irrepressible desire to understand something of its history. My companion being somewhat acquainted with the history of this old church, related to me the following, in connection with the same: At an early day, in the settlement of that part of the country, which was then denominated the Holland purchase, a small Methodist society was organized by pioneer Methodist preachers. After some time the society built that log church, and flourished for several years. In progress of time, however, some of the old members died, and were buried in the graveyard close by the sanctuary, and others moved away, till it was dropped from the list of appointments as a preaching-place, and only one member of the class and society remained. She was a mother in Israel, and, like the prophet, she was left alone to sigh over the desolations of Zion. She loved the old sanctuary, and though deserted, she seemed to realize an increasing attachment as time wrought its inroads upon its doors and windows. Invariably on the Sabbath, when her health and the weather would permit, did she repair to this deserted temple and worship her God. There, in holy meditation, did she recall the scenes of her youth, the holy seasons, happy days she had spent with her brethren and sisters, some of whom were sleeping quietly in the adjoining church-yard, while others were far away. Here she would sit, and read, and sing, and pray, and talk to her invisible God and Savior. At length, it was noised abroad that she was a witch, that the old church was haunted with evil spirits, and that she met there to hold communion with the spirits of darkness, and thus increase her power of evil over the bodies and souls of those around her. She was old and feeble, and heard of their surmises, but she remembered that her Master was charged of being possessed by the devil, and she heeded them not, but continued her Sabbath visits to the consecrated place. At length, two wicked young men of the neighborhood determined to watch her, and entering the church some time before she arrived, they climbed up and secreted themselves in the clapboard loft. After remaining there a short time, the old lady entered the church and took her seat by the rude altar. The young men, as they afterward related, experienced some sensations of fear, seeing, as they supposed, the old witch draw from her side-pocket an old leather-enveloped book, but their fears soon subsided when they heard her read, instead of an invocation to the spirits of darkness, the story of the widow of Sarepta. After she had finished, she drew from her other pocket an antiquated-looking hymn-book, from which she read that inimitable hymn,

'Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee;
Naked, poor, despised, forsaken,
All I am is lost in thee.”'

After having sung this beautiful hymn, which she did with a trembling, but sweet, melodious voice, she fell upon her knees and poured out her full heart to God in prayer and supplication. As friend holds fellowship with friend, so did she talk with her heavenly Father. She told the Lord all her complaints and grievances, and lamented the sad condition of the old and young of the neighborhood, who were alike on the road to perdition. She then alluded to the happy seasons she had enjoyed in that place, when Zion shed her holy light and converts crowded her gates. In piteous strains she lamented her desolations, and prayed that the Lord would build up her waste places, and again crowd her gates with living converts. She prayed especially for those who cast out her name as evil, that the Lord would change their hearts. She prayed, also, for the young and giddy multitude, who were forgetting God and living as if there were no hell to shun, no heaven to pursue. While she was praying God's Spirit was at work on the hearts of the young men on the loft, and they began to weep and cry for mercy. The old lady was not startled; she seemed to realize, while praying, an answer to her prayer; and as the Savior invited Zaccheus to come down from the tree, because on that day salvation had come to his house, so did she invite those young men to come down from their hiding-place. They obeyed her directions, and there at that altar, where, in other days, she had witnessed many conversions, before that Sabbath sun sank behind the western hills, they found pardon and salvation. From this hour the work of God commenced; the meetings were continued, and a flourishing Church was raised up, and the old dilapidated log meeting-house was again made to resound with the happy voices of the children of Zion.”

There is great moral power in such examples as these, but we wonder how many are likely to follow them in this day of automobiles and airplanes, of radio and television, and of the telephone and the so-called “internet.” The woman of whom we have just read really had little choice but to settle down in the long road of patient faithfulness where she was, whereas all the capabilities of modern technology have made it easy for us to do otherwise. Those capabilities have thus ministered to all the worst propensities of our nature, inducing restless discontent in the place of patient faithfulness. But no matter about that. It has always required self-denial to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him, and if the present age offers more opportunity for unbelief and impatience, this may render faith and patience more difficult, but surely not impossible. Even in the primitive days of the patriarchs, there was a Hagar at hand to answer the unbelief and impatience of Abraham and Sarah, but faith and patience would have refused such a shift. If the present age has made unbelief and impatience easier, it may require more resolution and determination to walk in the path of faithfulness, but faith and patience will shine the brighter, for the greater facility with which we might relinquish them. Our duty has not changed, though it has become easier to abandon it.

And there are many cases even in the present day of limitless opportunity, in which the Lord simply shuts us up to patient waiting upon him, as he did Joseph in the prison-house. Years ago I met a man out West, who comes to mind as an example of this. He was an Independent Baptist preacher, and a man of weight and ability----a good preacher, though too much occupied with political matters. He had a large house, and a good meeting-house, but his regular congregation consisted of no more than his own family----fortunately a large one. His testimony was despised and rejected in the little town in which he lived. He of course desired greater things, and had often sought them, not by greater determination and effort where he was, not by watering his little field with more tears, not by plying it with more earnest prayers, not by greater diligence or faith, but by leaving his little sphere for a larger. Yet he told me, “Every time I have tried to leave this town, the Lord has sent me back here like a whipped puppy with his tail between his legs.” It was well the man could see this as the hand of God. This is the viewpoint of faith. Unbelief will rather blame those human beings who thwart its plans, never seeing the hand of God in it, and never learning its lesson.

God is thus able to force us to faithful plodding----and we may thank him for it when he does, for he will not always do so. If we will not be an example of faith and patience, the Lord may grant us our wishes, and make us an example of unbelief and impatience. We have seen many sacrifice principle for the sake of a greater sphere, and it is not too much to say that the light which was in them became darkness. This we have seen in many of the leading men of modern Evangelicalism, and we have seen it in lesser men also. God might have forced them to remain in a smaller sphere, as he kept Joseph in the prison, but the Lord has no obligation to do so. If we are always kicking at the door, he may allow us to kick it open. If we are always tugging at the reigns, he may let go of them, and allow us to take our wayward course. The Lord does not restrain every man who tugs at the reigns. It may be there is a mixture of faith and unbelief in most of us, but in some faith prevails, and unbelief in others. Where the restless discontent of unbelief prevails, God may allow it to take its course. Where faith and submission prevail, God may hold us with a tighter reign, in spite of some mixture of the impatience of unbelief.

Yet we think it more honorable for us to take up our cross of our own accord, and to make it our chief business, not to obtain what we have not, but to have to good purpose what we have. It is our best wisdom, not to restlessly seek for a promotion, but to do the job which God has given us as faithfully and diligently and earnestly as we can. God will give the greater field, not to him that restlessly seeks it, but to him that diligently cultivates the smaller field which God has given him already, for “unto every one which hath shall be given.”

A Few More Examples of
The Weather Controlled by Prayer

compiled by the editor

It has now been nearly two years since I related some striking cases of the weather being controlled by the prayers of the saints, but I am always reading, and have added a few to my stock of such examples. These are most edifying, and I proceed to relate them without further introduction, except only to say that here, as in the former article, I have purposely refrained from giving any examples of rain procured in answer to prayer, though I have very many of such examples on file.

The first comes from the pen of C. H. Spurgeon, and contains not only an example of answered prayer regarding the weather, but also the great man's defence of such praying.

“Do you believe God hears prayer? I saw the other day in a newspaper, a little sketch concerning myself, in which the author, who is evidently very friendly, gives a much better description of me than I deserve; but he offers me one rather pointed rebuke. It would appear I was preaching at the time in a tent. Only part of the people were covered. It began to rain just before prayer, and one petition was, 'O Lord, be pleased to grant us favourable weather for this service, and command the clouds that they rain not upon this assembly.' Now he thought this very preposterous. To say the least, it was rash, if not blasphemous. He admits it did not rain a drop after it. Still, of course, he did not infer that God heard and answered the prayer. If I had asked for a rain of grace, it had been quite credible that God would send that; but when you ask him to send you a temporal rain, that is fanaticism. To think that God meddles with the clouds at the wish of man, or that he may answer us in temporal things, is pronounced absurd. I bless God, however, that I fully believe the absurdity, preposterous as it may appear.”

The Journal of John Wesley contains a number of such testimonies. He writes on April 24, 1755, “Just as I began to preach, the sun broke out, and shone exceeding hot on the side of my head. I found, if it continued, I should not be able to speak long, and lifted up my heart to God. In a minute or two it was covered with clouds, which continued till the service was over. Let any who please, call this chance: I call it, an answer to prayer.”

And on the following day, “The rain began almost as soon as I began to speak. I prayed that, if God saw best, it might be stayed till I had delivered his word. It was so, and then began again.”

On June 8, 1763, “Just as I began preaching, (in the open air, the room being too small even for the morning congregation,) the rain began. But it stopped in two or three minutes, I am persuaded, in answer to the prayer of faith. Incidents of the same kind I have seen abundance of times, and particularly in this journey: and they are nothing strange to them who seriously believe, 'The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”'

On May 29, 1789, “Almost as soon as I began to preach, the rain began. Observing the people begin to scatter, I prayed aloud, that God would stay the bottles of heaven: He did so, the people returned, and we had a comfortable refreshing shower of heart-reviving love.”

Charles Cullis was a medical doctor who prayed for his patients. He established a hospital of a sort----not indeed for the cure of the patients, for he would receive none but incurables. This was a work of charity, to provide such sufferers a place in which to die, and in which to be brought under the sound of the gospel. Nevertheless, many of them were healed by the prayer of faith. In the course of enlarging this institution, the following occurred:

“On the 7th of December, 1871, the new Home was ready. The weather for some days had been very cold,----on the 6th intensely so,----and it was manifestly impossible to remove the patients with fierce winds blowing, and the thermometer hovering about zero. In this emergency, as in every other, the Doctor carried his case to the Lord, and asked that He who ruleth the winds, by whose breath the frost is given, and whose word melteth the ice and the snow, would send a favorable day in which to remove to Grove Hall. And the Lord seems to have answered this prayer; for, succeeding the 'intensely cold' day, there came a morning 'mild and pleasant, such as we had not known for weeks, so that scarcely an overcoat was needed:' and, on this day of the Lord, the removal was safely effected.”

We read in the life of Esther Kandel, “She now wanted to be baptized, and asked Pastor Friesen, their minister, to send for the government permit required by the authorities for every Protestant baptism. But although he applied at once it was nearly twelve months before it came. Because of the long delay, the date set for her baptism was also Good Friday just one year from the day she had so sweetly experienced 'Life for a Look.' It was to take place in the Black Sea on the outskirts of the city.

“The weather had been bleak and disagreeable for weeks. Her friend, Amelia Wunsche, warned her she would 'catch her death' if she went in the water so early in the season. But Esther was nothing daunted. 'I will pray,' she said, 'God is able to give me a warm day.' Thursday of that week was raw and chilly like the days before it. Everyone predicted that Friday too would be cold. That morning Esther was up with the sun. She hurried outside. It was more like a morning in June. The air was soft and mild and the breeze from the southwest felt warm on her cheeks.”

A party of missionaries in their thousand-mile flight from the Boxers were thus delivered on one occasion: “Our main anxiety hitherto had been the almost preternatural brilliancy of the moon. It was so still. The risks of breaking cover were such that it almost amounted to courting re-capture. And yet we were all of one mind in the conviction that it was God's way for us now. As we passed out from the deep shadows of the firs into the peril of that remorseless glare (I can call it nothing else), I feared; and my heart's cry went up to God to cover us. In almost less time than it takes to write it, the dread light was quenched beneath a rolling sea of cloud; nor did it appear again until we were in the place to which He would bring us. So dark indeed did it become, that at times we had the greatest difficulty in keeping together.” I may add that the difficulty in keeping together owed mainly to the fact that they must be unheard as well as unseen, and so dared not call out when they lost sight of each other, and the author affirms that he could scarcely see his wife's form, though she walked directly before him in the line.

The following account is of a very similar nature, and though it contains no record of prayer for protection, I suppose it may go without saying that any godly man in such an exigency would be praying. “Those were the days of wars and rumours of wars, under the reign of the Zulu chief Chaka. Qeta, one of Chaka's chiefs, taking the cue of his bloody master, revolted, and carried a desolating war into Pondo-land on his own account. His legions swept through a great part of the Amapondo nation like a tornado, leaving nothing but smouldering villages and the carcases of their victims behind them. Brother Shepstone and his family were right in their path. The missionary heard the crash of the coming storm, but remained at his post till he saw a neighbouring kraal in flames and the guerilla band advancing toward the mission premises. There seemed then no way of escape, but providentially, while the mission family was preparing for a hasty flight, they knew not whither, a dense fog from the river settled down upon all the adjacent vales and hills, under the cover of which the mission family and their people escaped. 'The pillar of cloud stood behind them;”it was a cloud and darkness to them (their pursuers), 'but it gave light' to the heaven-guarded strangers in the wilderness. I received the narrative of this marvellous escape from the lips of Brother Shepstone himself.”

A very unusual example is related of Joseph Everett, an old Methodist preacher. “At another time he had an appointment to preach at a certain place to a people hitherto hardened, and to all appearance impregnable to all the artillery of gospel truths. Whilst giving out his hymn, a thunder-cloud very hastily came up. The thunder became more and more severe. In time of prayer it was alarmingly so. Mr. Everett prayed for the thunder to come yet nigher. It came. He called out the second time, 'O Lord, send thy thunder still nigher!' With that, the house appeared to be in a blaze with lightning. Sinners, both male and female, in almost every direction through the house, were prostrate, crying aloud for Mercy! Mercy! The result was great and glorious.

“Strange to tell, a certain individual, the next day, went to a magistrate to inform against Parson Everett, stating to the magistrate, that he verily believed that had Mr. Everett called the third time, they would all have been struck dead; and he believed that such ought to be legally stopped from travelling the country at large. The magistrate, apparently quite serious, asked him 'if he really thought that Parson Everett had power with God?' The man responded, 'I really do.' Upon which the magistrate replied, 'I then can do nothing with such a man. You will have to let him go.”'

Skeptics will of course tell us that the thunder would have come nigher whether the man had prayed or not, but we wonder what they will make of the following account.

Under the title “THE CAPTAIN AND THE QUADRANT,” C. H. Mackintosh tells us, “A godly man, the master of an American ship, during one voyage found his ship bemisted for days, and he became rather anxious respecting her safety. He went down to his cabin and prayed. The thought struck him, if he had with confidence committed his soul to God, he might certainly commit his ship to Him; and so, accordingly, he gave all into the hands of God, and felt at perfect peace; but still he prayed, that if He would be pleased to give a cloudless sky at twelve o'clock, he should like to take an observation, to ascertain their real position, and whether they were on the right course.

He came on deck at eleven o'clock, with the quadrant under his coat. As it was thick and drizzling, the men looked at him with amazement. He went down to his cabin, prayed, and came up. There seemed still to be no hope. Again he went down and prayed, and again he appeared on deck with his quadrant in his hand. It was now ten minutes to twelve o'clock, and still there was no appearance of a change; but he stood on the deck waiting upon the Lord, when, in a few minutes, the mist seemed to be folded up and rolled away by an omnipotent and invisible hand; the sun shone clearly from the blue vault of heaven, and there stood the man of prayer with the quadrant in his hand; but so awe-struck did he feel, and so “dreadful” was that place, that he could scarcely take advantage of the answer to his prayer. He, however, succeeded, although with trembling hands, and found, to his comfort, that all was well. But no sooner had he finished taking the observation, than the mist rolled back over the heavens, and it began to drizzle as before.

“This story of prayer was received from the lips of the good Captain Crossby, who was so useful in the Ardrossan awakening; and he himself was the man who prayed and waited upon his God with the quadrant in his hand.”

Assurance of Salvation
by Glenn Conjurske

There have been times in the history of the church when assurance of salvation was a rare thing. It was considered the special privilege of a select few, so that there were many who were saved who yet were not sure that they were. The pendulum has swung to the opposite side today, so that assurance of salvation is not only regarded as the common prerogative of all the godly, but of half the ungodly also----for the antinomian gospel of these days makes both salvation and the assurance of it the property of many who are no more saved than the devil.

But the antinomian gospel aside, we surely believe that all who have salvation are entitled to the assurance of it. Yet such doctrinal confusion prevails on this subject today that it is safe to say we almost never hear the truth concerning it. An example of this confusion has lately come to hand. Among the various Christian periodicals which are sent to me without my request is a little paper called “The Persuader,” published by Edgar Lee Paschall, of the New Hope Baptist Church, Calvert City, Kentucky. The April/June issue of the present year contains the testimony of one Steven A. Johnson. He says, “I was tired of sin and the world and needed God. I made some decisions at that point and began the process of changing. ... I started reading my Bible, praying, and witnessing. I did all the things a newborn Christian is supposed to do. The things of God became a priority in my life.” He began to preach a couple of months after his conversion, but for fifteen years doubted his salvation. He finally concluded that he had never been saved.

“The Lord showed me that I came to Him that night, but failed to receive Him. Since that day I have had a heart of unbelief. My life changed that night, but my heart didn't. ... The reason I failed to receive the Lord that night is, I lacked understanding. I was not guided to a saving knowledge of Christ. ... It's as if I came to the door, but failed to enter.” All this is mere confusion, and I observe that though the man tells us he “lacked understanding,” he fails to mention a single point in which that was true. If he then lacked the understanding which he now possesses, it must be almost a crime to state the fact, and ascribe to it his fifteen years of uncertainty and misbelief, and not give a single hint as to wherein that lack of understanding consisted. He obviously has no clear idea of it himself, nor of what he understands now which he did not then.

But after fifteen years of uncertainty----in which he now believes he was not saved----”I told the Lord, 'I now believe and receive.' I can't describe to you the peace that I felt in my heart and still feel to this day. ... I had peace and assurance in my heart like I had never had before. It was REAL!”

Now it seems obvious to me that the man gained nothing in understanding at this point. If he did, he ought to be able to give some account of it. But observe, “I can't describe to you the peace that I FELT in my heart and still FEEL to this day.” What he gained was not understanding, but feeling, and this is apparently the basis of his present assurance. All this is confusion, and anyone who is confused concerning assurance of salvation will certainly be the more so by reading a testimony like this one. It contains nothing at all which anyone could lay hold of as a basis for assurance, and the plain Bible basis for assurance is never hinted at, nor remotely dreamed of, in the entire article.

And such teaching is typical. Such confusion prevails today. The Bible basis of assurance is simply unknown, while some other basis is put in its place. Not that the Bible gives any uncertain sound on the subject. Far from that. But the Bible is very little known in the modern church, and so far as it is known it is commonly ignored or explained away, in order to maintain doctrines which are directly opposed to it. This is certainly the case with the Bible doctrine of assurance. It is so opposed to the common antinomian orthodoxy that men simply cannot see it, or will not believe it.

But it is time that I mention what the Bible basis for assurance consists of. To what does the Bible bid us look for the assurance of our salvation? Without question, to our present spiritual condition. Mark now, I do not say that the Bible offers us this as the basis for our salvation, but as the basis for our assurance of our salvation. To have eternal life is one thing. To know that we have it is another. We have salvation on the basis of something past, but we know that we have it on the basis of something present, and to this the Bible directs us for our assurance.

But in place of this present basis of our assurance, to which the Bible clearly directs us, modern Fundamentalism almost universally directs us to something past----either to the death of Christ for us, or to some past experience of our own, in which we were saved. By some we are told to look altogether outside of ourselves for our assurance----to look to the cross and death and blood of Christ, and there to find the assurance of our acceptance with God. But this is as much against reason as it is against Scripture. I was once knocking on doors, and spoke with a woman who claimed to be saved (as almost everyone does). I asked her how she knew she was saved. She told me that her pastor had told her that when she came to the gate of heaven, if God asked her why he should let her in, she should say, “Because Christ died for me.” I asked her, “Did not Christ die for the whole world----for all men?” She granted that he did, and granted also that all for whom Christ died are not saved. But if this be true, the merest child can see that we must have something other than the death of Christ as the basis of our assurance, and of our salvation too. Something must depend upon us. There is no middle ground between this, and all the points of rigid Calvinism. We must either deny that Christ died for all men, or contend that all men shall be saved, or admit that we must have something more than the death of Christ as the basis for our salvation, and certainly for our assurance of it. All this is simple reason.

This may sound impious, but that I cannot help. Ask not whether it sound impious, but whether it be true. No man ought to be willing to maintain error because it sounds pious, nor to refuse the truth because it sounds impious. Hyperspiritual doctrines always look pious. This is the primary ground of their appeal. To oppose them will generally seem impious, but that we cannot help. Calvinism is always hyperspiritual, putting the direct working of God in the place of the gifts which he has created, in the place of the means which he has ordained, and in the place of the requirements which he has enjoined. It puts God in the place of man, exalting the Creator, but making nothing of his creation, and I frankly doubt that God will thank anybody for this. It may look as pious as it is well-meant, but it is false. It is always at the expense of both reason and Scripture. If Christ died for all men, as the Bible plainly asserts, and all men are not saved, then there must be something further required for our salvation than the death of Christ. By the same token there must be something more required for our assurance. Those who direct the doubting simply to the death of Christ for their assurance ignore the real issue altogether, and generally deceive souls in the process. This is but one more plank in the platform of antinomianism. No Israelite was saved merely by the shed blood of the passover lamb. He must appropriate the virtue of that blood to himself by sprinkling it upon the sideposts of his own door, and he must remain in the house besides. To direct a man to the shed blood of the passover lamb as the basis of his assurance----or of his salvation----while he stands in the street, or walks in the field, is only to deceive him. And the fact is, God directed that the blood should be placed where man could not see it. The blood was sprinkled outside the house, and man commanded to remain inside. The blood was for God to see. God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you,” not “when you see it.”

But as most error contains an admixture of truth, so here also. It would have been quite proper, and very blessed also, to direct a man to look to the shed blood of the lamb as the basis of his peace and his assurance, while he remained in the house. In that case, let the virtue of the blood be preached in all its fulness, as the solid ground of his peace with God, and his peace of mind also. Then let him hear, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you,” and let this be preached with such pathos and tears as to make his very heart burn. All such preaching which proceeds upon the assumption that the blood is sprinkled, and that the man abides in the house, is the blessed truth. But any preaching which implies that a man must look wholly outside of his own state or condition, solely to the shed blood of the lamb, whether he abides in the house or not, is nothing other than antinomian delusion.

And so also all that preaching today, which tells men to disregard the state of their own souls, to look wholly outside of themselves, solely to the blood of the Lamb, for the assurance of their salvation. Such preaching is a pernicious perversion of precious truth, directly against the plain teaching of the New Testament, and its certain effect is to give assurance of salvation to multitudes who are not saved at all.

Others suppose our assurance to stand upon a past “salvation experience.” Because once upon a time, on such-and-such a date, at such-and-such a place, I came to Christ, I now therefore know that I am saved. When doubts of our salvation arise, we are told to look to that experience, the same as we would look back to our wedding if we doubted we were married. If we doubt the reality of our “salvation experience,” we are told simply to repeat it. “Come to Christ as a lost sinner in need of mercy, with the assurance that he will in no wise cast you out.” Thus we gain a new experience in which to rest, when the old has become uncertain. Some repeat this process numerous times, each new “experience” soon growing as doubtful as those which preceded it.

Such doctrine is wholly unscriptural in itself, while it wholly ignores the doctrine of Scripture on the subject. This while it ignores also the real issue. There is generally a reason why men doubt their salvation, and that reason is usually sin. Sam Jones says, “And if you want to get doubt out of your heart you go right down and pull it up by the roots, and there is a seed at the bottom of that tap root, and the name of that seed is sin.” This is generally the case. Doubts concerning our salvation usually proceed from a defiled conscience. R. A. Torrey understood this well, and wrote, “The trouble with those who lack assurance is, often, that there is some sin or questionable practice which they ought to confess and give up. John viii: 12, Is. lv: 7, Prov. xxviii: 13, Ps. xxxii: 1-5, are useful passages in dealing with this class of men, for they show that it is when sin is confessed and forsaken and we follow Christ, that we receive pardon, light and assurance. Often times it is well when one lacks assurance to put the question squarely to him: 'Do you know of any sin on to which you are holding or anything in your life which your conscience troubles you about?”'

Mark now, Sam Jones and R. A. Torrey were two of a very small class of the most successful evangelists of all time, and in fact they knew their business. Doubts of our salvation almost always proceed from a bad conscience, and that conscience is in fact the voice of God. Alas, most of our modern preachers labor to silence the voice of God, by preaching faith where they ought to be preaching repentance. Paul directs us to hold fast “faith and a good conscience, which some having put away, concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (I Tim. 1:19). It is as useless as it is pernicious to preach faith to a bad conscience. Those who put away a good conscience make shipwreck of their faith, nor will it do them any good if they are so steeped in antinomianism as to be able to maintain faith without a good conscience, for the faith which is without works is dead, and can no more save me from perdition than a dead dog can save me from drowning.

But I proceed to prove my doctrine of assurance from the Bible. The book of First John is written, among other things, for the purpose of giving us assurance of salvation. Near the close of the book John writes, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (I John 5:13). This is assurance of salvation. He does not write “these things” that they might have salvation, but that they might know that they have it. And what are “these things”? Numerous things, throughout this book, by which he draws the line between the righteous and the wicked, and in several cases he tells us explicitly that he presents to us “these things” as a test by which we might know whether we have eternal life. It is really a great wonder that “these things” should be almost universally ignored in the modern doctrines of assurance.

Now what are “these things”? To begin with one of the clearest, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (I John 2:3-4). Observe, this test is given explicitly that we might know that we know him. The test itself is as clear as words can make it: “if we keep his commandments.” No man who declines to keep the commandments of God has any right whatsoever to assurance of salvation. If he has that assurance, he is deceived and deluded. On the other hand, “if we keep his commandments,” we may “hereby” know that we know him. “Hereby we do know that we know him”----not because Christ has died for us, not because we have accepted him, but “if we keep his commandments.” We know indeed that God will accept us because Christ has died for us, as we know also that if we accept Christ he will accept us, but it is “hereby” that we know that we are accepted of him, “if we keep his commandments.”

But we anticipate the reaction of modern Fundamentalism. What shockingly legal theology is this, what perfidiously cultish doctrine is this, which bases assurance of salvation on keeping the commandments of God! This is law, not grace! And to all such objections I reply, Let the modern preachers of antinomian grace say what they please: I stand by the apostle John. Those who disallow this doctrine have no controversy with me, but with an apostle of Christ, and if with an apostle of Christ, then with Christ who sent him, and if with Christ, then with God who sent him. Their controversy is not with me, but with the Bible, and if with the Bible, then with the Holy Ghost who inspired it.

Let it be understood, the doctrine for which I stand here is not merely my own interpretation of the text. It is the text itself. The text itself is so perfectly plain that it cannot be misinterpreted, cannot be misunderstood, cannot be mistaken. “Hereby do we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” The difficulty lies not in understanding or interpreting the text, but in believing it. The modern church is so steeped in antinomian doctrines that it simply cannot accept the truth of the Bible. So often have men been told that their state cannot affect their standing, that they regard it as the greatest impertinence----and heresy besides----to be told to look to their state as the test of their standing. If it happens to be the Bible which tells them to do so, then they must ignore it, wrest it, suppress it----anything but believe it. If some preacher ruffles their feathers by insisting upon the plain words of the text, then they must flee to their favorite Calvinistic author, their favorite antinomian preacher, their favorite chapter of the Bible, to be soothed with precious promises, and so have their equilibrium restored. I might soothe them with precious promises also, if this were what their state required, but those promises have nothing to do with those who claim to know God, and yet keep not his commandments. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

But some who do keep the commandments of God stand in need of some soothing also, for they are very conscious that they do not keep them so well as they ought. But very frankly, the soothing which these folks need is not to be found in a profuse administration of the precious promises. Here is the state of their case. When they hear such texts as “He that committeth sin is of the devil,” or “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments,” they are troubled. When they hear such texts as “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish,” they are soothed and comforted. They wish, therefore, always to be fed with the promises, in order that they may keep their faith up.

But what is such comfort worth? What is that comfort worth which must be bought by dwelling always upon half the Bible, while we ignore the other half? Even granting that such comfort is real and substantial, and that the soul which receives it is genuinely entitled to it, what can it be worth, if it can be sustained only by ignoring one part of the Bible, and emphasizing some other part? This can only be likened to dwelling in a nest of thorns, but carefully covering them over with soft down. We nestle down in the soft feathers, and are oh! so comfortable, but all the while we must be oh! so careful how we rest, for at every false move the thorns poke through, and even while we do not feel them, we know very well that they are there. Such is the comfort of those who flee to the promises, while they try to ignore those thorny texts which require them to be righteous and holy. Their comfort is very unstable after all, nor can they ever attain to a very high degree of comfort, for those hard texts which they would rather ignore are gnawing always at the roots of what comfort they have.

Permit me to suggest that the only way for them to gain solid and lasting comfort of the highest degree is to squarely face those thorny texts which so disturb them, and refuse all comfort but such as they can enjoy under the full light of those hard texts. Let them understand that the text before us, “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments”----let them understand that this text was not written to deprive them of their comfort or their peace, but precisely to comfort and assure them. “Hereby do we know that we know him!” This is assurance. This is comfort.

Yet some sensitive and godly souls find that such texts deprive them of their peace, and choose therefore to ignore them. But I tell them, it is unbelief to ignore the plain statements of the Bible. Do you think to keep your faith up by means of unbelief? This is folly, and it will not work. It is unbelief in both the wisdom and the goodness of God, to flee from the very texts which were written on purpose to give us assurance of salvation, and seek to find it instead in the promises. This is not faith, but unbelief, and there is a hard price to be paid for it. Those who must flee to the promises to sustain their assurance will never have any assurance but such as must falter and fail every time they happen to meet with any of the solemn warnings of Scripture. Those who work out their assurance under the light of the solemn warnings of the Bible will have an assurance which is solid and enduring, and which nothing can shake. This is the solid ground of faith.

Yet the fact remains that many of the godly are troubled by the very texts which were given of God to sustain their assurance. We suppose their difficulty lies mainly in a failure to understand these texts----and it may lie in the self-sufficiency which assumes that it understands all, and declines to go to a prophet of God for a resolution of its difficulties. But observe, by understanding the texts, we certainly do not mean explaining them away. We ought by all means to shun the counsel of a man who will deprive such texts of their plain meaning. We want a man who can give us light----who can give us such an explanation as does justice to the text, and satisfies our conscience, while it maintains both the love and the holiness of God.

Now if a true saint of God, who does keep the commandments of God, is troubled by such texts, it must surely be because he fails to understand them. He very likely has no understanding of the difference between law and grace, and so turns the requirements of grace into a second law. Let him understand, therefore, that no man keeps the commandments of God perfectly, nor does the grace of God require him to do so. The verses which immediately precede this text affirm, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” An advocate! to defend us when we sin. A propitiation! to blot out our sins. Surely, then, when in the next verse the apostle says we know that we know him if we keep his commandments, he cannot mean, if we perfectly keep them. He must mean, if we sincerely and habitually keep them, in spite of all our failures and weaknesses. If he means any more than this, then we are under law, and no man is saved.

But I must proceed to another of the apostle John's tests, by which we may know that we have eternal life. “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (I John 2:29). This is as plain as the other text. “Doeth righteousness.” This is the test. This is the ground of our assurance that we are born of him. By this we know.

The apostle writes also, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil.” (I John 3:7-8). “Let no man deceive you”: not he that believes, or thinks he believes, not he for whom Christ died, not he that has “received Christ as his personal Saviour,” not he that trusts Christ for salvation, but “he that doeth righteousness is righteous.” “He that doeth sin is of the devil.”

This text ought indeed to trouble the unrighteous, but it ought to have directly the reverse effect upon the righteous. Yet no text of Scripture has given more trouble to real saints of God than this one. I believe that difficulty derives primarily from a misunderstanding of the text. For many years, therefore, I have labored to give the saints of God a true understanding of this, while laboring also to maintain the text in all its integrity.

The first and greatest difficulty arises from a deficiency in the common English translation. “He that committeth sin” would appear to refer to any man that ever sins at all. This is certainly not its meaning. The scripture contains two statements, exactly parallel:

“He that doeth righteousness is righteous.”
“He that doeth sin is of the devil.”

The word “doeth” is the same, in the Greek, in both verses, and it was really a great mistake to render it “doeth” in verse 7, and “committeth” in verse 8. The two statements are parallel, and must be understood in each other's light.

Now if “he that doeth righteousness is righteous,” this cannot mean he that doeth one righteous act once in a while. Common sense would rebel at such a meaning. “He that doeth righteousness” is he that habitually does so, he that lives a righteous life. He alone is righteous before God.

On the other side, then, “he that doeth sin” cannot mean he that occasionally does so, he who fails and falls upon occasion, in spite of the determination of his heart to walk righteously. “He that doeth sin” is he that habitually does so, he that lives a life of sin. He is of the devil, and “In this,” John tells us in the tenth verse, “the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” “Manifest”----that is, clear, obvious, apparent, evident, plain, and visible. It is manifest who are the children of God, and who the children of the devil, manifest to the eyes of all, and this by a righteous character, or a sinful one. The passage has nothing to do with a sinful man who occasionally does a righteous deed, nor with a righteous man who is not perfectly so. It speaks of the righteousness of Abraham, of Samson, of David, of Peter. All of them sinned, and some of them grievously, but none of them lived in sin. God speaks of “my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes.” (I Kings 14:8). This was David's character, God himself being the witness, though we know that on occasion David sinned. The text refers to the general habit and character of the life, such as is manifest to all who behold it. And in this lies our assurance. “He that doeth righteousness is righteous.” “Whoso doeth not righteousness is not of God.” “He that sinneth”----as the habit and character of his life----”hath not seen him, neither known him.”

And “neither he that loveth not his brother,” for this is another test given to us explicitly as the ground of our assurance. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (I John 3:14-15). There is a great deal of teaching on assurance of salvation in the modern church, and most of it proceeds just as though such scriptures as this do not exist. This is really amazing, for this text was written explicitly as the ground of our assurance. By this “we know that we have passed from death unto life.”

The apostle John gives numerous such tests, always making our state the test of our standing. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” “Whosoever is born of God doth not do sin.” “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

Ah! but such scriptures do not suit the antinomian theology of modern times. In place of all the solemn tests of the apostle John, modern teachers put a little formula of their own, and profess to derive it, of all things, from the very epistle of John which they so generally ignore. They quote I John 5:10, which says, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” God, they say, says that if you believe, you are saved. If you do not believe that you are saved, therefore, you make God a liar. But this is a gross perversion of the text, which says nothing whatever of believing that you are saved, but only of believing the record which God has given of his Son. This pat formula perverts the one text which it employs, while it wholly ignores a dozen plain and pointed texts which lie all around it.

And apart altogether from the common teaching of these degenerate days, in talking with various professing Christians, I have observed many of them clinging to one thing or another as the ground of their assurance, always in entire disregard of the explicit tests which God has given. One knows he is saved because God answers his prayers, or because God answered some particular prayer once upon a time. Another knows he is saved because God delivered him from some great danger. Another knows he is saved because God helped him through some period of distress. Another knows he is saved because God provides for his needs. And is there not a little tendency in all of us to grasp at such straws? Anything which assures us of the favor of God is very comfortable. But the fact is, God shows a great deal of favor to the whole human race, “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45). None of this is any ground whatsoever for assurance of our acceptance with him. That assurance is to be found only in our state----in our walk----in the life which we live. This is the solid doctrine of the Bible, and any assurance which is based upon anything else is a delusion.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
by the Editor


Out of the frying pan into the fire.

This is said of all those who leave a bad situation for a worse one----or, it may be, who leave a good situation, which they imagine to be bad, for one which is bad indeed. The frying pan, of course, is hot, but the fire is hotter, and since it is the fire which heats the pan, those who labor to escape the frying pan will often find themselves in the fire. Those who labor to escape from an unpleasant or trying situation will often find themselves in a worse one. Such an experience is very common among men, especially among the young and the rash. This, because their viewpoint is warped. They look only at the bad in their present situation, ignoring its advantages, while they look only at the good in the other place, and ignore its disadvantages. Worse still, the difficulties of their present situation are often imagined or magnified, and the good in the other situation likewise.

Now all of this is not mere lack of sense. It is not an error of the mind, but of the heart. It is unbelief, which fails to see the purpose of God in its present situation, and impatience, which declines to wait upon him for a better. It is ingratitude, which fails to consider the good which it has, and pride, which imagines itself competent to procure something better.

With such things as these filling the heart, men leap from the frying pan, into the fire. The young lady, tired of life at home, irked at the wholesome restraints which are laid upon her, ungrateful to the parents who provide for her, runs off with an unworthy lover, so to exchange a comfortable boredom for drudgery and abuse. Who has not seen examples of this? Yet the next young lady will not learn from the mistake of the last one, for the same impatience and ingratitude fill her own heart also
It is the same spirit as that which possessed the prodigal son, which moves men to leave the frying pan for the fire. Supposing the situation of the prodigal were less than desirable----supposing even it were as bad as he thought it----yet the plain fact remains, he himself was the worst thing in it. Ungrateful, selfish, and presumptuous, he must have his due. He must have the better life to which he supposes himself entitled, and off he goes to secure it. Off he goes, that is, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire.” He has a myriad of disciples, who shall feel the heat as surely as he did, for there is yet a God in heaven, who shall give such folks their due indeed. And it is well he does so, for the fire often proves a better cure for such ill-disposed hearts than ever the frying pan could be. The time will come, and usually soon enough, when such souls are glad to crawl back into the frying pan. Those who can do so may consider themselves most fortunate. Better still, let those who yet remain in the frying pan, having never felt the heat of the fire, let them consider themselves most fortunate to be where they are. Let them learn gratitude and humility. Let them learn faith and patience, and cease their hankering for another place.

Index to Volume 8, 1999
Articles by the Editor

A Few Hints on the Corruption of the English Language 17
A Non-Threatening Message 80
A Three-Months' Lay-over 174
Abigail 145
Acts 16:31 155
Ahithophel 193
Allegory on Allegorical Interp. 212
Another Evil of the Automobile 246
Antinomian Holiness 207
Assurance of Salvation 278
Burgon on Scholia in Mss. of Mark 109
Book Reviews
Common Sense, by Bercot 28
Me? Obey Him? by Handford 187

Books I Would Like to See Written 15
D. A. Waite on King James Only 65
Dave Hunt on Social & Political Action 260
Death in the Pot 200
Divorce and Happiness 255
Domestic Disobedience 224
Editor Answers His Own
Challenge 72, 162
Inspired Apostles 25
Intellectualism & Interpretation of Scripture 71
Joseph 121
Know Thyself 180
Leah 73
Living By Rules 8
Lot 115
Making of Many Hymn Books 85
Methodist Revival on Dance Floor 216
Mutual Faith of Both You and Me 94
National Barn Cleaning Week 206
Pride and the Ministry of the Word 1
Pride of Satan 197

Prodigality of Scripture 47
Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
A light-heeled mother... 261
Appetite comes with eating. 209
Err on the safe side. 167
First deserve, then desire. 129, 211
Good and quickly seldom meet. 238
He pulls with a long rope... 21
Much coin, much care. 96
Soon hot, soon cold. 113
Out of the frying pan... 286

Phalti 169
Rachel 97
Seriousness 49
Short Method of Evaluating Modern Bible Versions 160
Cast It From Thee 5
Forbearing 248
Full of Deadly Poison 163
The Other Wages of Sin 138
The Prophet's Commission 203
When He Hath Tried Me 106

Stray Notes on the English Bible
Corn 83

The Other Missing Tears 56
The Two Gospels 130
Things New and Old 44
To Him That Hath 265
Use and Value of Fingerprints 186
Vashti 241
Weather Controlled by Prayer 274
Wisdom of Lorenzo Dow 91
Zipporah 217
Articles by Others
Bishop Asbury on Study of Greek 24
Burgon on Modern Commentaries 247
Casket of Jewels, Bp. Henshaw 213, 262
Extracts on Church Fathers 42
Moody on Terms of Salvation 137

Newton on Fathers & Early Church 120
Old Time Revival Scenes 23
Riley on Modern Life & Spiritual Death 179
Wesley on Legalism 22

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