by Glenn Conjurske
We know nothing more of Vashti than that she was beautiful, that she was
the wife of Ahasuerus, and the queen over his empire, that she refused
to obey his behest that she come to his feast to display her beauty to
the men, and that she was dethroned and divorced for it, lest her example
lead all the women in the empire to despise the authority of their husbands.
These are the facts, but all of our concern is with their moral implications.
Was it right or wrong for Vashti to disobey her husband? Was her sentence
just or unjust? And after its usual manner, the Bible tells us nothing
of that. It gives us only the facts, and leaves us to our own meditations
to learn their moral character.
The chief question here must be, Was it right or wrong for Vashti to disobey
her husband? And here we must dissent not only from the heathen king and
his counsellors, but from many eminent Christians also. Bishop Hall writes,
Whatever were the intentions of Vashti, surely her disobedience
was inexcusable. It is not for a good wife to judge of her husband's will,
but to execute it; neither wit nor stomach may carry her into a curious
inquisition into the reasons of an enjoined charge, much less to a resistance;
but in a hood-winked simplicity, she must follow whither she is led, as
one that holds her chief praise to consist in subjection. Bishop
Hall lived in a different day than we do
----a day in which authority
was not feared and shunned as it is today, in which the people would rather
have a king than a democracy, in which the divine right of kings
was held sacred, at least by the Episcopal party, and in which that right
generally meant the right to arbitrary and unrestrained authority. The
pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme today, but no matter about
that. Neither Hall nor I ought to be influenced by popular opinion. I
am very far from endorsing the principles of democracy, or believing that
those principles are of God, but I am just as far from endorsing arbitrary
authority. God is the author of authority, but he is not the author of
arbitrary and abusive authority. This proceeds from the flesh or the devil,
and we cannot attribute the corruption or abuse of God's creation to God.
Marital love is the creation of God also, but adultery and fornication
are an abuse of it, and abuse of authority is no more of God than adultery
is. The gifts and ordinances of God are often made the excuse for evil,
but the excuse is lame and worthless.
No man is ever obliged to do wrong, and neither is any woman. To follow
whither we are led, in hood-winked simplicity, holding that our chief
praise consists in our subjection, is precisely the Mormon and Romanist doctrine of authority. God is not the author of such authority, nor of such subjection either.
But the rightness or wrongness of Vashti's disobedience must be determined
by a previous question: Was her husband's demand right or wrong? It was
wrong, without doubt, and we suppose few will be found to maintain the
contrary. The command was in reality a deep offense against the most sacred
precincts of feminine nature. The desire to be physically attractive is
universal among women, but this is that they may be loved, not displayed.
Yet there are men enough who are so coarse and insensitive as to desire
a beautiful woman for a showpiece, to bolster their masculine pride. They
give nothing to her in this, but only use her for their own gratification.
They love to be seen with a beautiful woman. She is their trophy, their
showpiece, and in exhibiting her they think to display their own superior
Such was Vashti to Ahasuerus, and in this she shared the trials and ordeals
which are the common lot of many of the most beautiful of women. She was
celebrated for her beauty
----no doubt envied by many a plainer
woman ----but that beauty failed to procure for her the deepest
need of her heart. Though she was her husband's favorite, and the queen
of his empire, yet she was but one among the multitude of his women. And
while her beauty failed to procure for her the love which was the deepest
need of her heart, it laid in her lap something which she could well have
done without. It made her a showpiece. She may have enjoyed this at the
first ----and shallow women may enjoy it to the last ----but
in time she evidently learned its emptiness, and may have come to envy
those plainer women, who are loved and not displayed.
But be that as it may, it is one matter for a woman to be conscious that
her husband regards her as a fine showpiece, while he escorts her down
the street, and quite another to be called before an assembly of men for
the sole purpose of exhibiting her beauty. A delicate feminine soul may
bear the former, but hardly the latter. The former is an incidental thing,
and his doing, not hers. The latter must be purposeful, and her own deliberate
act. This were to be used by him, and to prostitute herself.
We suppose that Vashti received this command as a dagger to her soul.
It was a deep offense against her femininity, and so much the worse because
it came from her protector. We realize that Vashti was a heathen, and
no Christian, but still she was a woman. Let the women who read this say
how they would receive such a command, from their husbands or anyone else.
Let even those women who are accustomed to dress so as to display their
very form to the best advantage say how they would receive such a command.
The man who makes his wife a showpiece violates her feminine soul, every
bit as much as he would violate her body by making her the common property
of all his friends. Vashti no doubt felt all this, and felt it deeply.
It was no light matter for her to disobey her husband, in a day when arbitrary
authority was the rule, and when her husband was the great king who held
the fortunes of all his subjects in his hands, was rash and wrathful besides,
and such a man as would sacrifice the lives of tens of thousands of Jews
for a mere whim of one of his counsellors. Her disobedience was no light
thing, and must have proceeded from the depth of her soul.
Though we might suppose that she was called upon to display no more than
her facial beauty, yet her whole person must accompany her face, and she
was called to exhibit herself before an assembly of men. She had her own
feast for the women, and it was to the women's feast that the king's messengers
came to call her. The command falls like a pall of gloom upon her soul.
Her smiles are extinguished in a moment. Her face is troubled, her breathing
deep. The eyes of all are turned upon her, and upon the messengers of
the king who stand by. The spirit of Vashti spreads itself throughout
the house. The laughter and chatter give way to silence and suspense.
The mirth of the banquet is ceased. But as the king has his counsellors,
to maintain his rights of masculinity, so the queen has her own counsellors
also, and these were doubtless near her person at her banquet. She lifts
her troubled countenance, and meets the eyes of her most trusted friend,
then of another, and another. Their looks are as somber as her own, and
she reads sympathy in every eye. She takes a deep breath, and speaks in
a subdued but determined tone, Would you do this? She looks
from one friend to another. The eyes of the king's messengers are upon
them also, and they scarcely dare to speak, but their solemn looks, accompanied
by the slow and almost imperceptible shakes of their heads, say, No.
She turns to the messengers, and says, Tell my lord the king that
I cannot do this. I will explain myself to him later. Thus did feminine
modesty quietly triumph over lust and pride and arbitrary authority.
Alas, we live in a different day, in which the bands and cords of very
nature have been broken asunder, and women have forced themselves to overcome
their natural reserve and modesty, and make every scintilla of their feminine
beauty a matter for constant display, in order to conform to the standards
of France and New York and Hollywood. But this is not done easily. When
I was in high school there was a popular song on the radio about a girl
wearing a bikini for the first time, and being afraid to come out of the
water, lest she should be seen. The second time, however, the matter would
be easier, and easier still the third time, until she felt no embarrassment
at all. Thus do women labor and force themselves to crucify their natural
feelings and their God-given modesty in order to conform themselves to
the world, and this is no easy process. Yet in time their modesty is overcome,
and in the present day we have Evangelicals who will stand up in beauty
pageants, and display not only their facial beauty, but their whole form
also, and nearly their whole skin besides, prostituting all this to the
gaze of the multitudes, the arts and intrigues of the television cameras,
and the minute inspection of the judges. Any woman who is comfortable in such a place in such a condition is a fallen woman, who has sacrificed
and crucified the reserve which belongs by nature to her femininity.
It is true that all women desire to be attractive, and to be esteemed
so too, for no woman cares to be beautiful merely to delight her own eyes.
Yet for all that she feels instinctively that to be put on display is
a profanation of her beauty. 'Tis true enough that women are sometimes
hard to explain, and it is a fact that the same woman who will dress on
purpose to display her form will feel vulnerable and violated and offended
when a man takes the liberty to view her display. Though the revealing
dress of many woman may be mere mindless conformity to the world, yet
the dress of others is doubtless intelligent and purposeful, and yet even
they will generally find themselves much bolder in their dressing-rooms
than they do before the gaze of men, for all their sinfulness has not
extinguished their innate feminine modesty. The wanton woman may delight
to turn the heads and attract the eyes of men, but no woman was born wanton.
Wantonness is acquired, by indulgence and habit, and it is not easy for
a woman to become wanton. She is a garden inclosed..., a spring
shut up, a fountain sealed (Song of Solomon 4:12), and by the instincts
of her nature she holds all the delights of her femininity in reserve,
till a man who loves her turns the key of her heart by his love, and opens
the gate to the garden of delights. Yet it is open to him alone. In spite
of all her sinful inclinations, she has yet an inbred modesty which belongs
to her nature, and when she has lost that, she has lost something sacred
to femininity. She may call herself uninhibited, and we will not dispute
that, but this is the prime characteristic of a prostitute. It is against
a woman's nature to be comfortable in the embrace of every man, and so
it is also to be comfortable before the gaze of every man. Vashti knew
this by nature, and we have no doubt that the heathen Vashti shall rise
up in the judgement and condemn the present generation of Evangelicals,
who know it not with a Bible in their hands.
Vashti was doubtless well aware of the pride and rashness (two twin sisters)
of her husband, and of his quickness to wrath also. She must therefore
spend many an anxious thought on how she will explain and defend herself,
and on how she will pacify his wrath. She had no doubt had occasion enough
for this in the past, for every little infirmity, every innocent mistake,
is a great fault in the eyes of a proud and wrathy man. She had no doubt
been severely blamed for small faults before, and how would he deal with
her deliberate disobedience? She settles it therefore in her heart what
pleas and arguments she shall employ, what tears and entreaties, what
feminine charms, to turn him from the expected fit of his anger. Alas,
her well-laid plans must die in her own heart. She is never to speak to
her husband again.
Ahasuerus is incensed at Vashti's refusal. He is accustomed to the unquestioning
obedience of an empire, and to doing as he pleases with any who dare to
oppose his will. Not only so, but his pride is involved in the matter
also. All the people and princes are awaiting the return of his messengers,
in order that they may lay eyes upon the celebrated beauty of the queen,
but the hunters come back without the bird, and the king must disappoint
them all. How can a proud man who is quick to anger bear such an affront?
Therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.
In such a condition he ought to have determined nothing. He ought by all
means to have waited till his anger cooled. As an old proverb affirms,
When a man grows angry, his reason rides out, and another,
Fire in the heart sends smoke into the head. But how many
angry men have sense enough to cool their anger before they act? Certainly
not Ahasuerus. He was as rash as he was proud and wrathful. All his actions
indicate this. He must often rue another day what he establishes unalterable
today, yet he learns no wisdom by it.
With his anger burning in his heart, therefore, he turns to his counsellors
to ask them, What shall we do unto the queen Vashti? Memucan
answers. Vashti has wronged not only the king, but all the men in the
kingdom. All the women will hear of this, and they will all despise their
husbands. Let Vashti therefore come no more into the king's presence;
let her place be given to another that is better than she; and let all
this be established by the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot
The heart of the king is not only hot with anger, but warm with wine also,
and this counsel seems good to him. It seems good to all the princes besides,
and the counsel soon becomes the law. Thus masculine pride establishes
its right to arbitrary authority, and its right to tread on the feelings
of femininity and the hearts of women, and the weaker vessel must suffer.
Neither is there any redress, till the day of judgement. Modern feminism
thinks to right the wrongs of women, but it knows nothing of what those
wrongs are, nor of what femininity is either. Feminism seeks redress
revenge ----for all those centuries of masculine rule, in which
the woman was not allowed to be a man. The day of judgement (among other
things) will redress her wrongs wherein she was not allowed to be a woman.
Such was the wrong dealt to Vashti. The king's determination to exhibit
her feminine beauty was a violation of her feminine nature, and now she
must be cast off for having a feminine soul.
But suppose that Vashti was all wrong. Suppose her disobedience proceeded
from nothing more than high-spirited pride or petulant self-will. Suppose
it was inexcusable, as Bishop Hall would have it. Grant all that, and
still her sentence was inexcusable. Is a woman to be cast off without
a parting word, without a parting glance of the eye, and without an opportunity
to speak a single word in her own defence, for every offense or fancied
offense? Is the security which is so sacred to her nature thus to stand
in peril every moment? This was inexcusable, no matter what the offense
of Vashti. Even if her husband had legitimate cause to put her away
if she were guilty of prostituting her body, as he would have had her
to prostitute her beauty ----even then she ought to be allowed to
speak in her own defence. To deny her this was to add insult to injury,
but the world is filled with those who suffer thus at the hands of arbitrary
We know nothing more of Vashti. We may surmise that many tears and heartaches
attended her future days, while she saw herself neglected and forgotten,
and another occupying the place which had been wrongfully taken from her.
How gladly would we hope that her hard lot taught her the vanity of all
the glories of this world, and moved her heart to seek the glory of the
world to come. How gladly would we hope that her sorrows softened her
heart, and led her to the God of the Jews, who were thickly sprinkled
even in Shushan the palace, and some of whom maintained a testimony for
the Lord there. The Jews had a name
----were evidently regarded
as the favorites of heaven ----even in the house of Haman, whose
wife said to him, If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews, before
whom thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail against him, but
shalt surely fall before him. Mordecai the Jew was exalted to the
place of Haman. And many of the people of the land became Jews,
for the fear of the Jews fell upon them. Some of these doubtless
became Jews inwardly as well as outwardly, and we may fondly hope that
the wronged and suffering Vashti was among the number. What remained to
her among the heathen?
Yet we know well enough that the wrongs of many women rather harden than
soften them, and they are hardened not only against men, but against God
also. The difference between these two sorts of women lies just in their
faith. Unbelief attributes the wrongs of men to God. Not so faith. Faith
lays hold of the goodness of God, and in spite of all the dictates of
the powers that be, all the dreams of mistaken theology, and all the claims
of established religion, faith holds inviolate the fact that wrong cannot
proceed from God. Faith therefore turns to God under its wrongs, while
unbelief turns away from him. The day of judgement will declare whether
Vashti had that faith. If not, we can only say, how bitter the loss, in
the loss of such a soul!
Another Evil of the Automobile
by Glenn Conjurske
We have spoken from time to time in these pages of the various evils of
the automobile, but we have not touched what may in fact be the greatest
evil of all. The automobile gives to man a sense of power and independence,
which necessarily works directly against his spiritual good.
Let it be understood that weakness and dependence belong to man by creation.
Weakness did not come to man by his sin, but by his creation. It belongs
to his very existence on the earth, and this by the obvious design of
God. God might have created man with the strength and speed of an angel
an airplane ----but he did no such thing. His design was that man
should be weak and limited, unable to move about freely or rapidly ----much more limited, in fact, than the birds of the air, and
than many of the beasts of the earth, and the very insects. If God had
designed that man should be otherwise, he certainly would have created
him otherwise. As God created him, he is as limited as a barnyard fowl,
or a swallow bereft of its wings.
And in the design of God, we surely see the wisdom of God. It is good for man to be weak. His weakness tends directly to keep him in his proper
place of dependence upon God, precisely as the weakness of the weaker
vessel makes her dependent upon a man, as her protector and bread-winner.
This is by the design of God. Years ago I spoke with a young school teacher,
who was proud, liberal, and a practical atheist. I spoke to him of God,
and his immediate response was, Do we need him? Such thinking
is the direct result of the fruits of modern technology and invention,
which eliminate man's weakness and dependence, so far as it can be done
by human ingenuity. The effect of this on the souls of men is anything
but good. The automobile gives to man that power and freedom which God
denied him by nature and by creation. In so doing it eliminates his sense of weakness, and replaces it with a sense of strength. This naturally,
and we suppose inevitably, contributes to his pride, and to his independence of God. So long as man feels his weakness, he feels his dependence upon
God. This is one part of the spirit of a little child
this no man can be saved, for Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom
of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:15).
To give to man a sense of strength and of independence is to remove him
farther from God than ever he was before, and the automobile has given
this sense of strength to most of the race. Modern technology has done
this in a thousand other ways besides, but perhaps none of the rest of
it ministers this sense to us so directly and personally as the automobile.
It is evident that some, especially young men, are quite carried away
with this sense of power and freedom, and practically worship the automobile
which gives it to them. We suppose, however, that some measure of the
same consciousness of power and freedom must exist in all who use an automobile.
Such feelings are harmful to the soul.
We know that God never created anything resembling an automobile. Man
was placed on the earth with no such powers. We know too that there will
be nothing of such machinery when Christ reigns on the earth, and the
will of God is done on earth as it is in heaven. The world has created
such things, in entire independence of the will and the wisdom of its
Creator, and in order to increase its own strength and independence.
But understand, we do not condemn the use of an automobile. We may use
the world without loving it. An automobile is a practical necessity for
most of us today, especially if we are poor, and cannot afford to own
a farm or keep a horse. And the fact is, such automobiles as I am usually
obliged to drive will actually contribute to a sense of dependence upon
God. Yet I suppose it to be healthy to our souls to recognize the evils
of the thing as such. Such a recognition will at any rate tend to keep
us in our proper place of weakness and dependence before God.
John W. Burgon on Modern Commentaries
All honour to those who shall at any time combine in order to put forth
a Commentary which shall aim at (what is called) keeping pace with the
age, meeting the requirements of modern thought, and so forth; which,
by the way, is generally discovered to be perfectly consistent with being
somewhat dry, very controversial, and never interpreting Scripture at
all. Such writers will achieve, no doubt, a very useful work; and produce
a collection of monographs on the several Books of the Bible,
different degrees of merit, and exhibiting almost every possible diversity
of thought and shade of allowable opinion. But (let it be said without
offence) it is certain that such endeavours will never satisfy the heart's
cravings, the spirit's longings, the soul's necessities. The combined
efforts of twenty or thirty men banded together for such a purpose will
never result in a Commentary on the Bible. No. Judicial and judious discussions
of linguistic and chronological difficulties; the last results of geographical
and ethnological research; a few perfectly safe and altogether colourless
remarks on every principal text; the fact carefully explained that this thing has been stated, and that thing disputed (which nobody can
deny); ----all this kind of statement, even though it should
be multiplied into a score of volumes, and recommended by the most respected
living names, will never supply what the Church has so long desired. A
more generous style of Commentary; a little fervour; a little enthusiasm;
some token that our guide has drank deep at the fountain-head, and is
prepared at all hazards to maintain the right; ----the ancient style
of interpretation, in a word, everywhere vindicated against the narrowness
of these last days, when it is the fashion for men to evade what they
cannot explain, and to deny what they cannot understand; ----something
of this sort, I am persuaded, is at present demanded by the Church.
----The Guardian, Oct. 11, 1871, pg. 1204.
Abstract of Two Sermons
Preached on August 8 & September 12, 1999
by Glenn Conjurske
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing
one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace. (Eph. 4:2-3).
America, which two centuries ago was known as the land of revivals, might
better be known today as the land of church splits. This may be attributed
in large part to the progress of the principles of democracy, in which
every man supposes he has the right to rule himself
to do as he pleases. Such principles, coupled with the natural pride and
selfishness of the human heart, will lead naturally to a good deal of
strife. Yet we are commanded to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond
of peace. Peace is the opposite of strife, but peace can never prevail
except by forbearing one another in love. Love will move us
to forget all about our rights, and to forget our brother's wrongs also.
When you see folks standing staunchly for their rights ----or imagined
rights ----you may be pretty sure they are as short on love as they
are on meekness.
Now let it be understood that the command to forbear implies a prior fact.
It assumes that there will be plenty to bear with. If I came to you and
said, Brother So-and-so is perfect. He has no faults. He does no
wrong. He makes no mistakes. Therefore you must kindly bear with him
would certainly take this to be keen sarcasm. There is no need to bear
with the faultless. Forbearance is something we exercise towards the faulty.
We all offend in many things, and there will be no keeping the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace, except by forbearing one another. The
hard and harsh will rigorously insist that we all be as perfect as themselves.
Their mouths will be full of, There is absolutely no excuse for
that ----If she were spiritual she wouldn't act like
that ----and so forth. Such a spirit will lead to a good deal
of strife. It is the reverse of forbearing in love.
Now I suggest that there are at least five sorts of things in which we
must forbear one another. First, deliberate wrongs, then thoughtless things,
stupid things, presumptuous things, and finally innocent mistakes. We
are all apt to be guilty of some of these things, if not all of them,
and therefore we must all forbear one another. If I must bear with your
faults, I ought not to forget that you must bear with mine. If you must
bear with mine, you ought not to forget that I must bear with yours. Some
have more to bear with than others, while some create more to bear with
than others, but none are faultless, and I suggest that the most effectual
way to bear with the faults of others is to be conscious of our own.
I want you to understand that there is primarily one thing which stands
in the way of forbearance. That thing is pride. Nothing is so touchy and
irritable as pride. Love and humility aid and abet one another, but love
and pride can hardly co-exist. Whenever you become irritated at the things
which others do, you say in effect, I am better. I am not guilty of such
thoughtlessness, or such stupidity. It were beyond all reason to be irritated
at others for being just what you are yourself. Your irritation says,
I am not as they are. I am better. This is pride. Humility looks at the
faults of others, and sees its own. If we are to forbear one another in
love, there is no way to do this but with all lowliness and meekness.
Those who sit on their high horse will always be impatient and irritated
with everybody. Love and humility walk together, and the one can scarcely
exist without the other. And humility is conscious of its own faults.
But I am not willing to imply anything bordering on carelessness or antinomianism.
Though we all sin, we have no right to sin. Though we all have our faults,
we have no right to have them. We have no right to continue in a fault
that we are aware of. When you see men guilty of thoughtless or presumptuous
behavior, I hope indeed that you are better. You have no right to be thoughtless
or presumptuous. I hope you are better. But if you are, you haven't always
been. You have been sinner enough yourself, and the faults which you see
in other men are very similar to your own
----either what your own
are, or have been. Now is it reasonable for you to be irritated because
your brother is today what you were yourself yesterday? This is just pride,
and pride is never reasonable.
Now what does it mean to forbear one another? Certainly to refrain from
retaliation, but this is not all. It means not to become impatient and
irritated and resentful. It means to let brotherly love continue, in spite
of the thoughtless, stupid, or presumptuous things your brother may do.
Your love for him is not affected by his faults. This is what it means
to forbear in love.
Now as we said, you will have plenty to bear with. And first, deliberate
wrongs. We are talking about bearing with the saints now, and if we are
dealing with real saints, we surely have a right to expect that there
will not be much of deliberate wrong to bear with. Yet we may expect there
will be some. In the warmth of a heated discussion a man may use unfair
tactics, or make unkind reflections upon you. He may say what is true
enough, but he may say it in an unkind spirit
----say it to make
you look bad ----say it to gain a victory over you or to humiliate
you. This is surely no innocent mistake. It may not be premeditated, but
still it is wrong, and done purposely, and the man who does it doubtless
feels himself wrong when he does it. You will doubtless have some of this
to bear with, and you may have to forbear further when the perpetrator
of the wrong excuses it. Some will borrow things, and return them damaged
or broken. They can hardly do this with a clear conscience.
You may have many petty jealousies in the church of God, and consequently
many hard words. You may be purposely shunned by those who envy you. Females
are particularly prone to jealousies, and they know how to let the other
party feel their displeasure. Such things ought not to be in the church
of God, but the church is not made of angels, but of men and women, and
human nature being what it is, it may be hard to help being jealous of
those who are above us. It may be hard for the plain girl to help envying
the pretty one, and it may be equally hard for her to be loving towards
the girl she envies. Faith and love would lift her above all this, no
doubt, but the fact is, the church of God is full of folks whose human
nature is fully developed, while they are yet babes in Christ. There will
be some wrongs committed in the church, therefore, and our business this
morning is to consider how to respond to those wrongs.
We are to forbear one another in love, and certainly one of the ways of
love is to put itself in the other person's place. If you are envied,
and therefore shunned or spoken against, you ought to consider how you
would feel yourself, and how you would be inclined to act yourself, if
you were deprived as your detractor is, and she were blessed as you are,
and you ought to go to work to overcome evil with good. A plain and heavy
----plain by nature, and heavy by her own fault ----and
apparently a true Christian, once confessed to me that she had been praying
that a pretty girl would die and go to hell. This was wrong, of course,
and shockingly sinful, yet it was very difficult for her to see, and much
more so to admit, that it was no fault in the pretty girl which caused
her feelings. She was simply jealous of her. Yet we ought to be able to
have compassion on the poor girl whose plight and whose feelings drove
her to this. This is the way of love, and by this means we may forbear
even when we are wronged.
Yet as a general rule I think the deliberate wrongs which we receive are
the easiest things we have to bear with. This for the simple reason that
those who have committed those wrongs know in their own heart that they
are wrong, and we may therefore expect some relenting, or some alteration
of their conduct for the time to come. They are entirely oblivious, however,
to their thoughtless or stupid or presumptuous behavior.
We are called upon constantly to bear with the thoughtless deeds of others.
How often do I sit at a stop sign waiting for another driver, only to
find at last that he is turning off before he gets to me, but turning
without using his signal light, and so forcing me to wait for nothing.
This is no deliberate wrong. He has no malicious intent to cause me trouble.
He is simply thoughtless. He thinks nothing of the other man's convenience.
He thinks only of himself. The world is full of such people, and unfortunately,
so is the church.
Nor can we pretend that this thoughtlessness is an innocent mistake. It
is certainly a moral fault. Love will certainly make us thoughtful, even
in this age in which most men are little accustomed to thinking at all.
Love will cause us to care for the convenience and welfare of others,
but I suppose few of us have attained to perfection in that department.
Most of us are probably more thoughtful of ourselves than we are of others.
Why then should we be irritated if our brother is just what we are ourselves
just what we were before we attained our present state? Indeed, the faults
of others ought to be a great incentive to us to mend our own. If the
thoughtless deeds of others cause you inconvenience or grief, this ought
to move you to take care not to be guilty of the same sort of deeds. Meanwhile,
we all have plenty of the thoughtless deeds of others to bear with.
But some folks seem simply to have little ability to think, and seem always
to be doing stupid things. Many of those things will cause trouble enough
for ourselves, and if they do, we are certainly called to forbear in love.
Some of you by nature have more intelligence than others, and the intelligent
may have a hard time to be patient with the stupidity of the stupid, but
is this reasonable? What hast thou that thou hast not received?
If God has given you a good brain, thank him for it, and have compassion
on those that are deprived. Nay, use your superior intelligence to help
them, and not with a contemptuous air of superiority, but with gentleness
But in fact we all do stupid things sometimes. I know I have done plenty
of them, and this being so, what right have I to be irritated at the stupidity
of others? You may think yourself the sum of wisdom, and suppose it is
only the other folks that do the stupid things, but this is just pride.
You find the stupidest fellow you know, and however dull and blundering
he is in your eyes, so exactly are you yourself in the eyes of God. I
have often thought it must have been one of the greatest trials of Christ,
when he walked this earth, simply to bear with the stupidity of men. And
God in heaven must do this every day. How often do you, with nothing but
the best of intentions, do a blundering and bungling job of the work which
God has given you to do? And God does not treat you with contempt for
it. He forbears in love. Go thou and do likewise.
We have also to bear with the presumptuous things which people do. And
I confess, it is harder for me to bear with the presumptuous than with
the stupid or the thoughtless. I don't say it ought to be. Probably just
the reverse, for the presumptuous things which people do are usually done
with good intent. They mean to help, but like Uzzah steadying the ark
of God, they thrust in their hands where they have no business. I have
known a guest to rearrange her host's kitchen. A brother sees that your
Bible or hymn book is falling to pieces, and undertakes to repair it for
----with duct tape. He thinks he did a fine job, but to your
refined taste the thing is worse now than it was before. In any case,
it was presumptuous for him to do anything at all in the matter. It was
your book, not his. He had no right to tape it up without your leave.
But there are two sides to every question, and certainly to this one.
I love to surprise people, and no doubt some of you do also, but before
you undertake to surprise anybody, you had better use all the common sense
you can muster. You had better thoroughly understand their tastes and
desires, or carefully consult with those that do, or you will surely commit
many a presumptuous deed.
But some have better hearts than they do heads. They want to surprise
----to do something for you ----to give you a treat. But
being as short on sense as they are long on love, they consult their own
tastes instead of yours, and come with a thousand smiles to present to
you your own darling ----------------puppy!
Such a gift would be presumptuous in the extreme, and many another surprise
is nearly so. Yet the giver meant well, the doer meant well, and to forbear
in love means to look at the loving intent, and overlook the blundering
lack of sense. Yet I suppose these presumptuous acts are some of the most
difficult things we have to bear with, for they are likely to cause us
more trouble than anything else. A man buys you something you don't want,
or pays too much for something he knows you do want, and expects you to
reimburse him for it. He gives you something you don't want, or can't
afford to keep, and you must either throw cold water on his warm heart,
or bear with his presumption for many days to come.
And some presumption is not well meant. Some of it is as selfish as it
is meddlesome. Some will use your equipment without asking. In many cases
it would be presumption even to ask, but some have no sense of propriety.
Others will borrow something which they can only use by using
----and with no intention to pay it back when they have used
it up. It is a sorry fact that we have such characters in the church of
God, and they no doubt need to be reproved and remodelled, but that is
a delicate business, a business we may not all be fit to undertake, and
our business meanwhile is to forbear in love.
In the last place, we will generally have plenty to bear with from the innocent mistakes of others. We all make mistakes, and sometimes our mistakes
may cause a good deal of trouble to others. One man gives wrong directions,
and sends another man twenty miles out of his way. A friend puts a decimal
point in the wrong place, and it may cost us a hundred dollars. Now it
ought to be easy to bear with such mistakes, since we all make them, and
since there is neither thoughtlessness nor presumption behind them. You
may contend they are the result of carelessness, but this is not necessarily
true. We all make mistakes, even when we are careful. None of us are perfect
in knowledge or wisdom. None of us have perfect minds or memories. None
of us have all the wits we need, and none of us have all our wits always
about us. To err is human, an old proverb says, and this is
a simple fact of life. It is one of the great evils of this ungodly nation
that men are commonly held responsible in the courts for their innocent
mistakes. Only let a man be guilty of an error in judgement, a slip of
the hand or the memory, only let him fail on any occasion to manifest
divine wisdom or divine precision, and immediately some Shylock will pounce
upon him, spurred on, of course, by the unprincipled greed of the lawyers.
And it is both the folly and the wickedness of the judicial system to
hold men responsible for such innocent mistakes
----or fifty per
cent responsible, or fifteen per cent responsible ----responsible,
that is, for an error such as every one of us is likely to commit at any
time. The lawyers are the usual winners in such lawsuits, but even their
gain is costly, for in fact we all lose when a man is held responsible
for his innocent mistakes. It is hard enough already to live in a day
when electronic communications and powerful machines or automobiles may
multiply the effects of our mistakes by a thousand or a million, but such
court judgements set the tone and establish the precedents which make
us all responsible, for it is certain that we all make innocent mistakes,
and none of us can tell when some Shylock and his attorneys will pounce
upon ourselves. This is another of the evils of which the love of money
is the root.
But if such are the ways of the ungodly world, it ought to be the glory
of the saints to pass over innocent mistakes, even though they may cost
us money, or cause us great inconvenience. I have several times been hit
by other drivers. The damage to my vehicle was minimal
can live with a dented fender. I sent them on their way with the assurance
of my pardon, and that was the last of the matter. Theirs was such an
error as I might commit myself tomorrow, and can I not pass over such
mistakes? This, I say, ought to be easy to do. It ought to require but
little of either love or mercy. It is simple reason and justice. We need
only look at ourselves, and behold all the mistakes we have made ourselves.
I have mailed letters without stamps. I have sent letters to the wrong
persons. I have failed to see stop signs, and so of course failed to stop
for them. I have forgotten to do things which I have promised. And shall
I, who am such a poor, failing creature myself, shall I rigorously hold
others responsible for their mistakes? I say it ought to be easy for us
to bear with the mistakes of others, even though they may cost us something.
---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Thus far I have spoken of occasional acts
----stupid or presumptuous
acts, wrong or thoughtless deeds ----acts and deeds soon done and
over, and hopefully soon forgotten. The occasional and transitory nature
of such acts makes them comparatively easy to bear with, but there is
another class of things which is not so easy, things which are deeply
rooted and of long continuance. We must bear with the opinions and attitudes of others, and with their ways and habits.
To speak first of opinions, I myself feel rather strongly that our food
ought to be raised organically
----naturally, that is,
according to the creation and ordinance of God, without the use of artificial
and chemical means, which are generally harmful to our health. But I once
talked to a wheat farmer out West ----a godly man, too ----who
spoke with contempt of organically grown grain. I think he
was wrong. I think his pocket book was the source of his opinion. But
he no doubt thought I was wrong also, and he had reasons for his opinion,
feeble as those reasons were in my eyes. Yet forbearance is our mutual
duty. He may despise the organically grown grain, while I despise the
other kind, but we have no business to despise each other therefor.
In the present controversy over Bible versions, the traditionalists despise
the liberals, and the liberals return this with interest. I am neither
traditionalist nor liberal
----neither King James Only, nor an advocate
of the modern versions. I see a good deal of wrong on both sides, and
yet I have friends on both sides, and would have more if they would have
me. We ought, in general, to oppose false opinions, but we ought to be
tolerant of those who hold them, and more than tolerant. The doctrinal
opinions of Miles Stanford and myself sometimes diverge widely, on matters
of importance too, yet I love him, and believe he loves me also, and such
a state of things will no doubt continue while life shall last, though
he never change his opinion at all, and though I never do so either. We
are to forbear one another in love, and where love prevails,
forbearance is easy. Frank Detrick is a post-tribulationist, yet I could
not love him one whit better if he believed in the pretribulation rapture.
David Cloud is a King James Only man, yet I love him. I don't love all
his opinions, yet some of them I do. Some of his writing reads like a
page from Olde Paths & Ancient Landmarks ----in substance, not
style ----and even where I must repudiate his opinions as false
or foolish, I try to find some sound motives or wholesome emotion behind
But there are harder things to bear than the opinions of others. We must
also bear with their ways, and these will affect us much more directly
than their opinions. Some like it hot: some like it cold.
So says the old nursery rhyme, and this is true of more than pease porridge.
Some keep their houses at sixty-five degrees, and some keep them at eighty,
so that we must shiver at the one, and swelter at the other. Some like
the windows open, and some like them shut. Some like the fans blowing,
and some like it still. Some turn their houses into dark caves, with the
drapes always drawn, so no one can see in, while I have no curtains at
all, so I can see out, and let the light in. Some plant trees, for shade,
and others cut them down, so they may bake in the sun. Now if we are going
to have much of anything to do with each other, we must simply bear with
each other's ways.
Some are precise and fastidious, and others are careless and slovenly.
They must bear each other's ways, and those who have found a happy medium
between them must bear them both. Some must have everything straight,
and others are perfectly content with everything crooked. I have a daughter
who could not bear a speck of food on her face when she was a mere baby,
and on the other side I have known girls in their teens who could hardly
eat without dirtying their faces.
But people have ways and habits which affect us even more directly. Some
people keep dogs and cats in their houses. Some live with flies. Some
wear half a bottle of perfume, or shaving lotion. Having no nostrils themselves,
they seem determined to burn ours out also. The story is told of Harry
Ironside that when he had finished preaching on one occasion, a woman
came up to him, and said
----sniff, sniff ----Why, Mr.
Ironside, you're wearing perfume. He countered with ----sniff,
sniff ----Whew! You're not. She doubtless considered
it improper to wear an artificial fragrance, while he considered it so
to emit a natural odor. Such folks might bear with each other, though
propriety on both sides ought to keep its scents and odors as inconspicuous
as possible. Some folks could use a little deodorant, and some could use
a little deodorant in their deodorant.
Some of us have a great propensity to tease people. I can't imagine why
anybody would mind this, for we don't tease the folks we don't like. Sam
Jones' son-in-law tells us that when he first met Sam he was told, If
he likes you, he'll tease you. The young fellow waited anxiously
for several days, till the great man at length cast a keen shaft at him,
and then he was satisfied. But some folks don't seem to like to be teased.
They don't understand teasing. If I know it, I try not to tease them,
but sometimes the little imp in me may prevail anyhow. Let them do their
best to bear with my teasing, and I will do my best to bear with their
dogs or their perfume. Most of us have ways and habits which try the patience
of others. We can hardly expect everyone else to conform themselves to
our own ways, any more than we intend to conform to theirs. Our real business
in the matter is to forbear one another in love.
We will not pretend that there is never any moral fault in people's ways
and habits, or that we ought to stick to our ways merely because we have
them. There may well be some moral fault in them, and if there is, we
ought by all means to change. The ways of some folks may be the result
of carelessness or thoughtlessness, slovenliness or selfishness, the ways
of others of pride or vanity. There is moral fault in all of this. There
may be moral fault in dirt or in din. There may be moral fault in confusion
and disarray. There may sometimes be some in my teasing. Yet in general
the ways of most of us are innocent enough, and it is better wisdom to
forbear one another in love, than to be always endeavoring to change each
other's ways. The other fellow may be as inclined to change me as I am
to change him, and if we concentrate our energies on this, love will soon
It is pride that stands in the way of forbearance
thinks itself the standard of truth or propriety, pride that thinks the
other fellow always in the wrong, and that often without half understanding
why he is as he is. But perhaps he is in the wrong. Perhaps his dirt and
din and confusion, which so try my patience, are all wrong. What then?
Is there nothing in my ways which try his patience? Most likely there
is, for Paul tells us to forbear one another in love. If I
must bear his ways, he must bear mine.
And what a blessed place of peace and harmony the church of God will be
when we all learn to forbear one another in love! Will not the very world
look at us and say, How these Christians love one another! Will they not
be drawn to such a place, and to such a religion?
Divorce and Happiness
by Glenn Conjurske
That happiness is to be found in marriage is the persistent belief of
the whole human race. This belief is endorsed by the Bible, for though
God created man single, he created him with all the capacities for all
the delights of marriage, and with the need for them too, for God himself
soon declared, It is not good that man should be alone
he was in fact alone with God. The Lord surveyed the whole of his creation,
and pronounced it all very good, yet man's single condition
he declares to be not good. He wanted a wife. His whole existence was
incomplete without her. And this is known and felt by the whole human
race. Man believes that his earthly bliss is to be found in marriage,
as it can never be found in anything else.
And yet many marry and fail altogether to find that happiness which they
expected. Some find positive misery, while many others find nothing more
than disappointment and drudgery. This is the common experience of men
common, indeed, that when the disciples hear the Lord forbidding divorce
and remarriage, they immediately respond with, If the case of the
man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. (Matt. 19:10).
If the case of the man be so with his wife ----if he
is bound to her by an indissoluble tie, if he cannot put away an unsatisfying
woman and put an end to an unhappy marriage ----If the case
of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry at all.
This response of the disciples indicates that they well knew that a happy
marriage was a rarity, while those of the unhappy sort were the common
experience of humanity. And yet, in spite of the common failure of the
race to find happiness in marriage, the belief persists, as strong as
ever, that it is in marriage that happiness is to be found. The myriads
of men and women who fail to find it, or who find misery or drudgery in
its place, yet remain firm and unshaken in their belief that marriage
is the way to happiness. They never dream of impugning marriage as such:
it is only their own marriage which is bad, and they universally suppose
that if they could but have a different partner, they would find that
happiness which their own marriage has failed to give.
This was evidently the belief of Christ's disciples, and this belief is
not only universal, but true also. Yet I have heard it affirmed, by a
very hyperspiritual teacher, that The people of the world marry
the one they love. We as Christians love the one we marry. But such
a statement betrays the most lamentable ignorance of the nature of love
and marriage. Of course we as Christians love the one we marry, as God
commands us, but that such love can ever take the place of the romantic sort, or ever bring marital happiness to the parties involved, is a mere
delusion. The belief of such a proposition can only browbeat the unfortunate
----as hyperspiritual notions usually do ----and
require them to blame themselves for what they cannot help. And it is
a plain fact that many who could not find happiness in one marriage yet
do find it in another, and those who have failed to find it in three or
four marriages yet may find it in another. The woman at the well had had
five husbands, and found nothing but disappointment and unhappiness in
all of them, yet her belief remained as firm as ever that it was in union
with a man that her happiness was to be found, and so, when disappointed
in one, she always proceeded to another. She has a myriad of followers
in the present day, for the belief is universal among the sons and daughters
of men that earthly happiness is to be found in the right sort of marriage,
and this belief is as true as it is universal.
But here a great difficulty arises. God forbids us to end a bad marriage
in order to seek a good one. What then? Does he care nothing for the happiness
of his creatures? So unbelief would suppose. Faith knows better than this,
and yet faith itself may often be severely puzzled as to how such prohibitions
of the Lord can consist with his care for the happiness of men. How can
he desire their happiness, while he denies them the very thing which would
make them happy? There is nothing impious in raising such questions, though
God yet expects us to trust in him, as well when we cannot understand
his ways, as when we can. Here lies the most honorable occupation of faith.
Yet it is honorable also to get understanding with all our getting, and
nothing is more honorable nor more profitable than to get understanding
In the first place, then, it plainly appears that if God in certain cases
forbids the very thing which would make his creatures happy, he has something
else in view than the present happiness of every individual. It may be
he aims at the ultimate happiness of all, or the greater happiness of
a greater number, or both, but it is evident that if he aimed at nothing
more than the present happiness of all who seek it, he must allow divorce
and remarriage in a myriad of cases where he now forbids it.
Yet it is certain that whatever desires God may have for the present happiness
of his creatures, however his heart may be touched by the griefs and longings
of every individual, he is not willing to grant that happiness regardless
of the cost. He is not willing to grant it, for example, at the expense
of the happiness of others. To take one of the most common situations
on earth, here is a man, and there a woman, both of them unhappily married,
both of them languishing of course for that love which the whole human
race stands in need of, and which neither of them can find in the marriage
which they have. They likely both entered the married state when they
were young, when they had no understanding of what that love was, and
so married without it. The lack of it, however, has taught them its nature,
and taught them also the depth of their own need for it. Now it is perfectly
----it would seem that none but those who willfully close
their eyes could deny it ----that in a myriad of cases, if these
two unhappy souls could leave their present spouses, and be married to
each other, they would find that love and that happiness which they cannot
help but crave. But at what cost? At what cost of suffering to others?
Suppose they each have two or three children. Will those children also
find happiness, in being torn from a mother or a father who loves them,
and in having a new parent thrust upon them, whom they neither know, nor
love, nor trust? The real fact is, such children will be confused and
unsettled, perhaps embittered, and so deeply wounded in numerous ways
that their scars may remain while life shall last. And who would suppose
that God would thus secure the happiness of two, at the expense of the
happiness of five or six?
And what of the spouses who were left? Who has not seen the devastation
which falls upon a woman when her husband leaves her for another? No doubt
her marriage was unsatisfying before
----for no man who would leave
his wife for another woman could make her happy while he remained with
her. Yet unhappy as her marriage must have been while it continued, Something
is better than nothing, as the proverb affirms, and a woman is almost
certain to find more happiness in being cared for by a man who is unhappy
with her, than in being abandoned by him for another woman. The former
may fail to satisfy her heart, but the latter is a deep thrust at the
very springs of her nature. The unsatisfied woman may mourn in secret.
The abandoned woman must bear her rejection before the eyes of all the
But these cases obviously fail to exhaust the subject. There may be no
children to hurt, and even a wife who is devastated by her husband's departure
may yet find greater happiness in the end, in a man who loves her. The
Lord's reasons must evidently lie deeper than this.
We must further consider that while the Lord's prohibitions, coupled with
the careless manner in which many enter the married state, may debar many
from ever attaining marital happiness at all, yet these prohibitions may
also contribute to the greater happiness of the greater number over all.
In the first place, there is probably nothing which could contribute so
much to a wholesome caution in uttering the vows of marriage as the certain
knowledge that those vows must stand, for better or for worse.
On the other hand, there is nothing which could contribute so much to
the throwing of all caution to the winds as the supposition that those
vows may be broken at pleasure. I was told of a cousin of mine who married,
not till death do us part, nor while life shall last,
but while love shall last
----not that these young folks
knew what love was, or had it, when they uttered their cautious vows.
But be that as it may, they had no sense of the permanency of marriage,
and no intention to make it permanent. Such a view of the matter can hardly
help but dispel all the solemn caution with which men ought to marry.
Thus the free license to divorce must work directly to the multiplication
of bad marriages, and so far contribute to the greater overall unhappiness
of the race ----for not all who carelessly enter ill-matched marriages,
under the belief that they may end them when they please, will feel free
to do so when the occasion calls for it. There are many constraining reasons
for maintaining an unsatisfying marriage, even where folks believe themselves
free to end it, the good of the children being the most compelling of
But more. Love comes in a thousand different degrees, and marriage therefore
exists in a thousand degrees of goodness or badness. Every marriage which
is not perfect is not therefore miserable. A man may have a good marriage,
which is yet less than the epitome of bliss. Yet the supposition that
he is free to end that marriage, in order to seek a better, will tend
directly to breed dissatisfaction, even with marriages which are essentially
good, though less than perfect.
But we know that many marriages are not essentially good. Their very existence
stands as a bar to the happiness of the parties involved. They are not
in love, and never can be, for all their trying. We will not pretend that
making the best of an uncongenial mismatch will ever bring marital happiness,
or make a bad marriage good, but it may after all be conducive to more
happiness in general than a free license to divorce. We shall have more
to say of that further down.
Yet in spite of such considerations as these, the belief persists that
wherever an uncongenial marriage exists, divorce and remarriage are the
way to happiness. It was doubtless on the strength of this belief that
God of old granted permission to Israel to divorce and remarry
who would avail themselves of that permission for any other reason? Some
there are who teach that the Bible, New Testament as well as old, condones
divorce for mere lack of love. Nor is this doctrine a new one, hatched
in the present permissive age. Perhaps the strongest treatise in existence
on the subject comes from the pen of old John Milton, a seventeenth-century
English Independent, or Congregationalist, and the author of Paradise
Lost. He contends with a great array of the most compelling reasons
that love itself must compel the separation of spouses who cannot love
each other, and that therefore the true church may unwittingly use
as much cruelty in forbidding to divorce, as the church of antichrist
doth wilfully in forbidding to marry. With great force of reason,
and great powers of eloquence, he describes the hopelessness of an ill-formed
marriage, and predicates to marriage without love a great host of great
evils. And in fact we quite agree with him. But his reason and eloquence
are evidently misapplied. He cannot maintain the strength of his reason
when he deals with the prohibitions of Scripture, but must stoop then
to strong assertion or weak sophistry. His powerful pleading, though it
move us to tears and sobs for the plight of the mismatched, and though
it burn into our very souls the truth of the old saw, Better half
hanged than ill wed, yet it leaves us just where we were with regard
to the prohibitions of the Lord. We knew all that Milton says before we
read him, and deeply felt it too, yet we hardly dare employ those powerful
reasons to set aside the prohibitions of Scripture. We do not pretend
to know everything on this subject. Indeed, we do not pretend to know
much. We have many unanswered questions, and we feel most deeply the difficulties
involved in the matter. But this much we can say: If those Scriptural
prohibitions are to stand, those powerful reasons are evidently not to
be used to separate the mismatched, but to prevent their ever joining
themselves together in the first place. This much is safe. Let us employ
all the little powers we have to prevent bad marriages, and we know that
we do well. The divine prohibitions of Scripture, coupled with the prevalence
of marriages without love, ought by all means to be used to inculcate
the utmost caution in marrying, but when parents and pastors, when church
and society, have failed to cultivate that caution ----when the
carnal and the hyperspiritual alike have made marriage a blind lottery ----it
is no remedy to throw to the winds the very thing which will work most
powerfully to return men to sanity, and to secure that caution.
But modern society has no regard for the prohibitions of Scripture. It
needs not labor, as John Milton did, to prove those prohibitions misapplied,
or misinterpreted, or inconsistent, as commonly interpreted, with the
goodness of God. Modern man has found a shorter way. He simply casts away
the cords of the Lord, and breaks his bands in sunder. With one sweep
he frees himself from the galling yoke which requires him to eat the fruits
of his ignorance or his carelessness, and so paves a broad way for the
whole race, to be as careless as it may please in uttering the once-solemn
vows of matrimony.
Thus the effects of a free license to divorce are no longer a matter of
speculation, but of actual experience. The experiment has been tried.
And with what result? Has the happiness of modern man been increased by
this freedom? We have no doubt that many individuals have been made happier.
So far as this life is concerned, many who would have been locked up in
uncongenial and unsatisfying marriages have found love and happiness by
divorce and remarriage. No unprejudiced man could deny this. But still
we ask, Has the happiness of men in general been increased? And here we
can only say, we very much doubt it. To say nothing at all of the confusion
and tears which have been thrust upon a myriad of children, the newspapers
are full of advertisements from divorced persons who languish yet for
love, unsatisfied in a former marriage, burned and stung by a bitter divorce,
hoping to love and trust again, yet fearing to do so, and now having
No husband, no love, no companionship, no security, no father for their
children, but only aching and burning and languishing ----as firm
as ever in their belief that happiness is to be found in a good marriage,
but unable to secure even a bad one, lacking now the physical beauties
of youth, cumbered with children and debts and cares ----and, as
I have heard from some, unwilling to go to a tavern to find a husband,
and yet not knowing where else to find one. Modern society is filled with
a myriad of such souls, male and female, who have gained nothing by the
modern permissive divorce laws but languishing and loneliness. It may
be ----it no doubt was ----that the marriages from which they
have departed left a great deal to be desired, but certainly in many of
those cases something was better than nothing. The little which they had
before was better than the nothing which they have now. Not only so, but
the little which they had before may very likely have been made better,
if they had committed themselves to so doing, instead of rushing to the
divorce court. Now they have nothing.
We are of course well aware that there has always been a small amount
of such unhappiness on the earth
----perhaps five in a hundred who
have never found a mate at all, and a number of others (though mostly
among the aged) who have been bereft of one by death. It seems evident,
however, that the loose laws of divorce have greatly increased that number,
and so greatly increased the unhappiness of the human race. That freedom
from the bands and cords of the Lord, by which men promised themselves
greater happiness, while it has no doubt secured that happiness for some,
has actually wrought in the opposite direction for a far greater number.
They now languish alone, with all of their marital desires unsatisfied,
while those desires are continually stimulated and sharpened and strengthened
and inflamed by the literature on the news stands, by the programs on
television, and by a constant barrage of love songs on the radio. Such
is the wisdom of man.
Dave Hunt on Social & Political Action
The July, 1999, issue of Dave Hunt's The Berean Call contains the following
As for social or political action, it is very clear from the biblical
record that in spite of political corruption and rampant injustice, neither
Christ, His apostles nor the early church ever engaged in it. For us to
do so today is to stray from both the teaching of Scripture and the example
of Christ and the first Christians. We are not called to improve the world
but to call people out of the world to heavenly citizenship through repentance
and the new birth in Jesus Christ.
It is refreshing to read such a clear, explicit, and forceful testimony
for truth in this degenerate day, while there are Evangelicals who tell
us that Christianity is politics, and while most of Fundamentalism
is up to its ears in it. We wonder how many of Mr. Hunt's readers follow
him in this. I wonder how many of my readers follow me in it.
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Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated
by the Editor
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A light-heeled mother makes a heavy-heeled daughter.
This is a very wholesome proverb at all times, and especially in the
soft and silly age in which we live. The mother who does all the work
herself makes a lazy daughter, and a light-heeled mother can as easily
make six or seven heavy-heeled daughters as one, and heavy-heeled sons
also. There is peculiar danger of this in the present age, when most everything
is bought ready-made, and when we have machines and appliances to do much
of our work for us, so that there remains little enough work for us to
do ourselves. I suppose we are all soft and lazy in comparison to our
grandparents, who generally raised their own food, and made their own
clothes, and their own thread and cloth too. And if the mother does what
little work there is left to do in this age, what is left for the daughter,
but to loaf and be idle? The daughter who is accustomed to such a life
of ease is not likely to be worth much.
But it is not only the soft and easy age in which we live which contributes
to make lazy daughters. Many mothers are silly besides, and seem determined
to shield their tender offspring from all labor and hardships. Whatever
must be done, the mother rushes to do it herself, apparently determined
that her dear daughters shall do nothing but loaf. She could scarcely
do them a greater disservice. One day they will have to do some sort of
work, but they will have no aptitude for it
----no will to do it,
and no knowledge of how to go about it.
The Bible says, It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his
youth (Lam. 3:27), and this is good for a woman also. The yoke is
the emblem not only of submission to authority, but of work also. No man
puts the yoke on his team merely to show them his authority, but to harness
them for work. It is good to bear the yoke in our youth, to be required,
that is, to work. The daughter who has no yoke to bear in her youth will
not care to bear one when she is grown. She will be one of those women
that are at ease, concerning whom Isaiah pronounces the woe, Many
days and years shall ye be troubled. (Isaiah 32:10). It may be a
question which is worse, the lazy mother, who sits on her couch and requires
her daughters to do all, or the light-heeled mother, who does all for
them. The former is no doubt a worse character, but the latter doubtless
does more damage to her daughters. Light-heeled mothers, who love to work
and to serve others, and love to shield their daughters from hardships
also, need to learn to deny themselves, and require their daughters to
earn their keep. Daughters whose heels are too heavy already will not
thank them for this at the moment, but methinks they will thank them another
Another Casket of Jewels
SPARE - HOVRES of Meditations
[When I gave a few extracts from Bishop Henshaw in a former issue, I
was unable to give the dates of his life, almost all of my books and records
being then packed in boxes, and inaccessible. He lived 1603-1679. Concerning
the following items, I only suggest that as they were written as the fruit
of meditation, so they will do their best office if they are used to suggest
further meditation. To pass through them too hurriedly will be of little
profit. They ought to be read slowly, with pauses enough to digest their
Earthly things are like dreames, awake to nothing; like hadowes set with
the sun, wealth and honour will either leave us, or we them. I will labour
onely for those pleasures which never hall have an end, and be more delighted
that I hall be happy, than that I am so.
'Tis a good Signe, when GOD chides us, that He loves us, nothing more
proves us His than blowes, nothing sooner makes us His: God can love His
children well, and not make wantons of them; if I suffer, it is that I
may raigne. How profitable is that afflicion, that carries me to heaven?
To grow heavy or lumpih with crosses, argues not so much want of courage,
as grace: nothing more soyles the reputation of a Christian, than to have
his minde droope with his Mammon; what if health, friends, meanes, have
all forsooke thee, wilt thou lose thy wittes together with thy goods?
all the afflicions in this world, cannot answer the joyes of that other.
I will never care whose these pleasures I see be, while those I do not
see are mine, and the fountaine of pleasures whom I shall one day see,
as I am seene, shall be mine.
Contentation is a blessing, not wealth; true riches consist not so in having
much, as in not desiring more: why then doe wee so labour to abound, and
not rather to be content? If I have but a little, my account is the lesse;
if I have much, and doe not more good, I hall adde to my condemnation,
together with my store: I will ever studie rather to use my little well,
than to encrease it.
I will not care to bee rich, but to be good; this onely is that treasure,
that never hall have an end: let mee be rich in goodnesse, and I cannot
complaine of povertie: he onely is poore whom GOD hates.
To speake little, is a note of a wise man, to speake well of a good man:
goodnesse is not seene in the length or brevity of our speech, but in
the matter, the streames of the tongue run from the current of the heart,
and are like the fountaine; it is a signe we have little goodnesse in us,
when there comes little out of us: if GOD were more in our hearts, He
would be often in our mouthes, and with more reverence. Though I will
never affect to speake of my goodnesse, yet I will shew it in my speech.
He that will be a Criticke of others actions, had need look well to his
owne: 'tis a soule shame to have that found in our selves, which we would
take upon us to mend in others: in this I will ever follow my Saviours rule, first get out mine owne beame, and I hall see better to helpe my
brother out with his mote.
The malicious man is so much no mans foe as his owne; for while he is
out of charitie with others, GOD is so with him; if he lov'd himselfe,
hee would not hate his brother. I will love all men for His sake that
made them: but the Christian, because he is GODs sonne, I will love doubly,
for his owne sake, for his Fathers sake.
To doe well and say nothing is Christianly, to say well and doe nothing
is Pharisaicall; if the hands bee not Jacobs as well as the voice, wee
are but imposters, cheats: If we are good trees, by our fruit they shall
know us. I will not lesse hate not to doe good, than to tell of it: my
faith is dead if it beare not.
Sinnes grow like Grapes close, but in clusters: Wee usually say, He that
will sweare, will lye; and he that will lye will steale; and hee that
will doe all these, will doe any thing. Satan is a Serpent, if the head
bee once in, his whole bodie will not bee long behinde.
Mee thinkes it is but th'other day I came into the world, and anon I
am leaving it: How time runs away, and we meet with Death alway, e're
wee have time to thinke our selves alive: One doth but breake-fast here,
another dine, hee that lives longest doth but suppe: We must all goe to
bed in another World. I will so live every day, as if I should live no more: 'tis more than I know, if I shall.
No man thinkes hee shall live ever, yet most men thinke they shall not
dye yet; otherwise, they would dye better, and more care for the heaven
they shall have, than the earth they must part with.
All men would come to heaven, but they doe not like the way; they like
well of Lazarus in Abraham's bosome, but not at Dives doore, they love
heaven well, but they would not pinch for it: silly wretch, al the wealth
in the world cannot buy thee into heaven, or out of thy punishment, and
this thy glory shall adde to thy torment, that thou art now so well, shall one day be the worse for thee. I had rather wait for my happinesse, than
smart for it.
The Covetous man hath his eyes in his feete, ever poring on the earth,
all his care is, to lay up for many yeares: like spiders, men spend their
bowels to catch flyes, trifles: toyle and sweat, and all that they may
leave a little behind them when they dye: if they have but somewhat to
leave behinde them, 'tis no matter whether they have any thing to carry
with them. All are for the present, is it not good, if there bee peace
in my dayes? He that truly remembers what hee hath lost, cannot be so
delighted with what hee hath, then onely mayest thou say to thy Soule,
Take thy rest, when thou hast wealth layd up, not for many yeeres, but
God hath given us this ayre to breathe in, it doth not give, but continue
life; 'tis the meanes of living, not the Authour of life: God gives it
us to use, not to serve. How many make this world their God, and serve
it: and God (as it were) but their World to make use of? I will never
be a servant to my slave.
It is the fault of a great many, if God beare with them in their sinnes,
they thinke hee countenances them: if they bee not presently stricken
dead with Vzzah, they goe on; when they smart not, they beleeve not, and
he is not fear'd til felt. Sicknesse is not thought of til death, nor
that till hell: forgetting that the longsufferance of God should lead them
to repentance, he forbeares us that hee might forgive us; shall I sinne
because grace abounds? God forbid? [*]
It cost God more to redeeme the world, than to make it: He that made
mee with a word speaking, when he redeemed me, spake, and wept, and bled,
and dyed to doe it: what can I thinke too much to endure for his sake,
that was made a curse for mine.
I seldome see sinne but in a religious tire: Nay, but I reserv'd them for sacriice, was Sauls to Samuel: for sacrifice, not for prey. Goodnesse
is the best disguise of evill, either seeme what thou art, or be what
thou seemest: God is not mocked.
The tongue is the only betrayer of the mind: The foole, while he is silent,
is not discovered. I will not be more thrifty of any thing, than of my
speech; I had rather be thought to know a little, than be knowne to know
*[It is common in older English to use a question mark where we would
use an exclamation point today.
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.