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Vol. 8, No. 11
Nov., 1999


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 masculinity.

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 be altered.

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----or 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----even 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 power.

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----or 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----and without 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,----possessing 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----that is, 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----you 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 girl----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----or 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 and tact.

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 you----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 you----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 up----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----and I 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 them.

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 evaporate.

It is pride that stands in the way of forbearance----pride that 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----though 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----so 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 sufferers----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 of God.

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 evident----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 world.

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 those reasons.

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----for 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--------nothing. 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 testimony:

“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.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


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 day.

Another Casket of Jewels


Horæ Succiivæ


SPARE - HOVRES of Meditations


Joseph Henshaw

[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 content.----editor.]

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 for ever.

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 nothing.

*[It is common in older English to use a question mark where we would use an exclamation point today.----editor.]

† [= attire]

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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.