HANGED ON A TREE
By Elder Mark Green
“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land
of the Jews, and in
“Hanged on a tree” has an ugly sound to it, and indeed the crucifixion of our Lord was the blackest of scenes. To the Bible reader, however, there is a sweet sound of prophecy in that phrase, and in it is contained the salvation of sinners. Under the law, “if any man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God)” (De 21:22-23).
Paul refers to this in the book of Galatians when he says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Ga 3:13).
Christ redeemed us by suffering in our place. He was made a curse for us by hanging on a tree. We must always remember that we were the ones who deserved the punishment. We were the sinners; we were the ones who had offended the God of heaven, but Jesus was made a curse for us. He bore what we ought to have borne. He took the shame that was ours. We were the worst of criminals, for our sins were against the absolute holiness of God’s justice, but Christ condescended to be crucified between two thieves, numbered with vile transgressors. We deserved to die, but it was Jesus who died in our place.
In our text, Peter notes that his hearers (the household of Cornelius) were witnesses of the wonderful works of Christ. They should have had no doubt but that He was a great prophet, but Peter tells them He was not only that, but was the Messiah: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.”
He was sent to the work and was fitted for it. “That word, I say, ye
know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from
Peter had earlier preached that there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. We were saved by Jesus the Messiah, or we were not saved at all. The prophets said that; the apostles said that; the works that Jesus did testified to His mission; and now Peter preaches Jesus to Cornelius and his house. Cornelius was a devout man, a God-fearing man, and his devotion showed his love toward God. Jesus had saved him, a Gentile, as well as His people among the Jews, by hanging on a tree and bearing the curse of the law. Elder Mark Green.
He Shall Save His People
Mt 1:21, And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.
I well remember the first time I noticed this text and the impact it had on me. It was not long after I first received a hope in Christ.
I first received a hope about six weeks after my eleventh birthday. My folks gave me fifty cents to buy a Bible at the local five and dime. It was barely readable, and somebody my dad worked with gave him three dollars to buy me a better one. He put eight dollars with it, and ordered me a nice leather bound Bible from Sears and Roebuck. In 1948, eleven dollars was a lot more money than it is today.
Some of you will remember the Bibles that were available back then; they were printed on such thick paper they were at least two inches thick. It is pretty well worn out now, but I still have it, and I still get it down every now and then.
I was proud of it, and I spent every spare minute with it. My step mother used to tell me I was going to go crazy, if I didn’t stop reading it night and day. She said somebody she went to school with read his Bible all the time, and he went crazy, and she was sure that was the way I was headed.
I don’t have any doubt that somebody she went to school with read his Bible night and day, and he very well may have gone crazy; but you can be sure that reading his Bible did not do it to him. Reading the Bible brings peace of mind; it does not unhinge minds. But, anyway, she thought I was heading that way. Years later, when I joined the Old Baptists and was re-baptized, and re-ordained, and severed all my old religious connections, I have an idea she was sure she had been right the first time.
Every Wednesday night our little church had a testimony meeting. Everybody was expected to take a moment and tell what was on his mind. Not long after I professed a hope, one night, when it came my turn to speak, I told them that I believed the Lord had called me to preach. I did not press the point, and nobody paid much attention. I don’t know why I should have expected anything more. I suppose it is normal for people not to get too excited when an eleven year old gets the idea he has been called to preach.
Things rocked on a few years, and I reached the ripe old age of fifteen, before I made my first effort to preach. At any rate, I still made my first effort to preach before I was old enough to shave. I realized later that you are not nearly as old at fifteen as I thought I was.
It was during that time I first noticed this verse. It sounded like nothing I had ever heard before. It was certainly different from anything I had ever heard preached. I had always heard that, “God wants to save you, if you will let him. He wants to save everybody, and he is doing the best he can to do it. He would save a lot more people if he could just get a little help. Why won’t you folks pitch in and help him out?”
There was a good sister who came to the church my family attended. She had
been sent by Moody Bible Institute in
By then, I was about twelve or thirteen, and looked more like I was nine. I was always small for my age. I looked down at my tiny little hands, and my tiny little feet, and I thought, “If God does not have any hands except these hands, and if he does not have any feet except these feet, he must be a mighty little god.”
But the good sister was wrong; we serve a much bigger God than that. The God we serve simply spoke and this world sprang into existence. He simply spoke and carpeted the earth with trees and flowers and grass. He simply spoke and populated the seas with every kind of sea creature. And he can simply speak and quicken poor sinners. He doesn’t need our help. But she thought God had no hands except my hands, and no feet except my feet. I think she made a bad connection somewhere. If God cannot do the job without my help, I cannot imagine what he might do with my help.
That verse did jar me when I first noticed it. It did not mention any conditions. It did not mention anybody else being involved in the work. It did not mention the possibility that God might not get the job done. It just said, “He shall save his people from their sins,” and left it at that. I had no doubt that if the Bible said it, it must be right, but I just did not know what to make of that verse—considering what I heard preached every Sunday.
There is an old saying, “When the obvious sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.” I believe that makes good sense.
Sometimes I hear somebody say, “I always interpret the Bible literally.” I have no doubt they mean well, but they do not realize what they are saying. You cannot interpret anything literally. You either take it literally, or you interpret it. If you interpret it, you are not taking it literally.
Now, some passages do need to be interpreted. When Paul says in 1Co 10:4, “That rock is Christ,” we need to interpret it. Christ is not literally a rock. Rather, he is like a rock. He is firm and enduring. He is a firm foundation.
That is interpreting a text, but the text before us does not need interpreting. Just take it for what it says; “He shall save his people from their sins.” He will get the job done. The Lord died for his people; he died to save them—and he will do it.
Ro 5:8-10 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
This verse is not a proposition; it is a simple declarative sentence. It simply states what God is going to do. Notice what he says.
First he says Christ died for us. Then he says he justified us by his blood. Then he says we shall be saved from wrath through him. No if’s, no and’s; and no but’s. No conditions of any kind on our part. Paul says, in no uncertain terms; he died for us; he justified us, and he will save us. Any conditions on our part come after he has saved us and secured us a home in heaven.
Again, notice that we are justified by his blood. Somebody says, “We are justified by faith.” That is right; in our own heart and mind we are justified by faith, and without faith we will never be justified in our own experience. That is justification in the court of our own conscience, but that is a subject for another day. Right now we are talking about being justified before God.
God was speaking through Paul. God always says what he means, and means what he says. Christ died for his people; he shed his very life’s blood to justify them, and having died for them, and justified them, “we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
I believe a little third grader could understand that. Professors of theology have trouble with it; but then professors of theology are not generally as open minded as third graders. They are not as willing to be taught. They remind me of a comment I heard years ago. Somebody said, “That man has a mind like concrete—all mixed up and permanently set.”
Paul draws a clear connection between Christ dying for his people, and their being justified by his shed blood, and God’s saving his people. Modern religionists try to justify their work by squeezing the preacher and the soul winner in between Christ’s dying for his people, and their being justified, but there is not the slightest crack to squeeze in the preacher. The preacher and the soul winner might as well admit it; saving sinners from eternal damnation is God’s work—and he will get the job done. “He shall save his people from their sins.”
Notice that it was when we were still enemies to God that “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” And he goes on to say that as surely as we are reconciled to God, “we shall be saved by his life.” Don’t miss that, “we shall be saved.” As surely as we are reconciled by his death, we shall be saved by his life.
Think of what it would mean to say anything different. Those who are reconciled are going to be saved. Can you imagine that hell will be filled with sinners who are reconciled to God. If they are reconciled to God, why are they in that terrible place? That does not make any sense at all; reconciled to God, friends to God, and forever doomed to be separated from him.
More than that, Paul points out that, because Christ died for them—died to put away their sins—they are justified by his blood. If they go to hell, they go there justified; they go there acquitted from every charge. That is not the way our own courts operate. Our court system leaves a lot to be desired. But not even our courts would try a man—acquit him from every charge—and send him to the penitentiary anyway.
It is strange that people will make arguments with regard to religion that they would never listen to in any other context. Who ever heard such a thing—that a man should be acquitted from every charge and sent to jail anyway.
The prophet Isaiah made the same argument Paul did. That should not surprise us; they were both motivated and inspired by the same Spirit. When the prophets and apostles wrote they things they wrote in the Bible, they did not just sit around dreaming up something to say.
The ten commandments were written by the very finger of God; but what the prophets and apostles wrote was just as much the words of God as the Ten Commandments were.
David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” When those men wrote, they wrote what God moved them to write. The spirit of God literally spoke by David. David put it on paper, but God is its author.
Peter said, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
Every word in the Bible is there for a reason. Sometimes the Bible builds a profound argument on a single letter. “He saith not, and to seeds as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed [singular] which is Christ.” That is the difference of one letter. I will not waste your time by going to the original Greek, but if you want to take the time, you will find there is just one letter difference (an iota or a sigma) in the original language. There is no excess fat, no excess weight, in the Bible. Every word, every letter, is there for a reason.
Isa 53:6-8 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation: for he was cut of out of the land of the living; for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
He took on himself the iniquity of us all. However many us all involves, just that many had their sins laid on Christ, and he put those sins away. If us all includes all of Adam’s race, and Christ died for all the sins of all Adam’s race, what can send any man to hell?
It could not possibly be iniquity; our iniquity was laid on him, and he paid the redemption price. He removed our iniquity by his shed blood. Since he removed our iniquity, there is not a charge against anyone for whom he died. Could any person be sent to hell without a charge being laid against them?
If you were to look for somebody without iniquity you would not think to
look for him in hell. If hell is filled with people without iniquity, it would
not be a bad place to live. It would probably be a better place than
I believe somebody has got the two places confused. If hell is populated with people who are without iniquity, people who are friends of God, people who are healed from sin, hell would be as much a heaven as heaven itself.
We can be sure he will save his people, because he bore their sins on the tree of the cross.
1Pe 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness, by whose stripes ye are healed.
If he bore our sins on the tree, those sins must have been taken off us and laid on him. Otherwise they would still be on us. If he bore our sins on the tree, I would challenge anybody to find one verse in the Bible that says our sins were later taken off him and put back on us.
He paid our sin debt by his death on the cross. Bearing our sins on the cross he rendered satisfaction for our sins. He satisfied the righteous demands of the law.
The righteous law of God demanded the death of the sinner. He took our place. He bore our sin, and in our place he died. When he died in our place that was as good as if we had died. The law can demand no more; Christ provided everything the law required.
We would not think much of a business man who tried to collect a debt that is already paid. And you can be sure that God will not collect the same debt twice—once at the hand of his Son, and again at the hand of the sinner. If Christ paid your sin debt on the cross, that debt is forever paid; you will never face it again. You cannot deny that fact without impugning the justice of God.
If we are saved by what Christ did for us, everyone he died for will live in heaven. If anybody he died for fails to live in heaven, we are not saved by what he did for us. We are saved by what we do for ourselves.
Some good and honest people talk about having faith in Christ, when what they are really talking about is having faith in their faith. There is a difference.
If Christ did all he could do on the cross, and it is not sufficient—without your input— it is really your input that makes the difference. It is your input— your faith that saves you. If that is the case you are your own savior—and, at best, the Lord assists in the matter.
We can be sure he will save his people, because Christ put their sins away.
Heb 9:25-26 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
When Paul says Christ came once in the end of the world, it is obvious that he did not mean the end of the physical world. Two thousand years later, the physical world is still here. He came once in the end of the Jewish world, the Old Testament law world. In the end of the law world he came “to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Either he did what he came to do, or else he did not. One or the other has to be true. He came to put away sin; either he put away sin or else he did not. He said, “I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.” If the Lord told the truth—he put away sin. If those he died for are still in danger of suffering eternally, it is obvious he did not put their sins away. Their sins are still charged against them. But he said he finished the work he came to do, and I am going to take his word for it. If he put our sins away, how far did he put them away? David tells us.
Ps 103:11 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath the removed our transgressions from us.
Exactly how far is it from the east to the west? If you were to start from wherever you are heading west, how far would you have to go before you were no longer headed west? If you were to start out headed east, how far would you have to go before you were no longer headed east?
It is about twelve thousand miles from the North Pole to the South Pole. As soon as you reach the North Pole you have gone as far north as you can go. From that point every direction is south. Ahead of you is south. Behind you is south. To the right or the left is south.
The North Pole is the farthest you can go headed north. That does not apply headed east or west. You cannot measure from the farthest point east to the farthest point west. You can circle the globe ten thousand times headed east, and you will still be headed east. That is how far God has removed the sins of his people.
By the way, if I might digress a bit, that shows that the author of the Bible knew the earth is a sphere. That east and west expression does not have any significance unless this earth is a sphere, with a north-south axis. The Bible nowhere teaches that the earth is flat. Those who pretend it does have never read the Bible for themselves.
We know the Lord will save his people, because he obtained eternal redemption for them.
Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
To redeem means to buy back or to pay for. You and I may pay for a product or a service, and not get what we paid for, but God will not suffer himself to be defrauded in the salvation of his people. He has redeemed his people, and he will have what he paid for.
He did not enter heaven in order to obtain redemption; he entered heaven having [already] obtained eternal redemption for us. The Bible always means exactly what it says. We noticed before that you can build an argument on a single letter. You can certainly build an argument on the tense of a verb.
He did not enter eternal heaven to give us a chance to obtain redemption; he had already obtained redemption when he ascended up on high. Redemption was complete before we were born. “He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Redemption was already a completed fact before he entered heaven.
This is not a conditional redemption; it is not a temporary reprieve—it is eternal redemption.
But what did he redeem us from? He redeemed us from the curse of the law. Now if redemption is eternal, and he has eternally redeemed us from the curse of the law, the law can demand no more than Christ has provided. If one of those he has redeemed goes to an eternal hell, redemption is not eternal, and Paul had it wrong. But Paul did not have it wrong; redemption is eternal. God has imputed the righteousness of his Son to his people, and we are eternally redeemed from every righteous demand of the law.
If one of those Christ redeemed suffers eternally, because he did not accept the conditions offered, and another person enters heaven, because he did accept the conditions, he is not saved by being redeemed—he is saved, because he met conditions. He is saved by what he did—not by what Christ did. In that case he is his own savior. In that case Christ did not do any more for those who live in heaven than he did for those who suffer eternally.
If we are saved by what we do, exactly where does Christ fit in. What effect does the work of Christ have on our salvation, if he has done all he can do, and it is not sufficient without our adding our little part.
Those who talk so much about how they secure their own salvation remind me of a little puppy-dog who used to hang around the train station. A train would come rumbling into the station, and it would shake the whole building. That little puppy-dog would get so excited he could not stand it. He would run around barking and making a racket until the train finally left. Then the little dog would chase the train down the tracks. When the train finally went out of sight, he would turn around and go prancing back to the station with his head held high. He was proud of what he had accomplished. He had run that big bad train out of town.
We can be sure he will save his people, because we are healed by his stripes.
Isa 53:4-5 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
We are healed of the awful disease of sin. God does not do things by half measures. Our ailment is not in remission—we are healed. If one of those Christ died for goes to hell, it means that he did not really render satisfaction for our sins—we are not really healed by his stripes.
If one of those he died for fails to be saved, it means he did not really bear our sins. He did not really put our sins away. It means his work was a failure, and we will all go to hell after all.
Isaiah said, “by whose stripes ye are healed,” the apostle says, “by whose stripes ye were healed.” We are now healed, because we were healed by what he did. Both indicate a completed work.
Tit 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
He did not redeem us from some part of our iniquity; he redeemed us from all iniquity. I have had friends tell me that Christ died for every sin except the sin of unbelief.
I have no doubt they are sincere; but they are sincerely wrong. Paul says he redeemed us from all iniquity. Those who make that claim will tell you that unbelief is sin—such a sin as will doom a person for all eternity. But they have divine inspiration to contend with. Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Spirit—and he says Crist redeemed us from all iniquity. If unbelief is iniquity—he redeemed us from the iniquity of unbelief as surely as he redeemed us from any other.
One good brother, who believes in apostasy, told me that he redeemed us from every sin we commit before we are born again, but we will have to pay for the sins we commit after we are born again ourselves. Perhaps he believes there is a purgatory between death and the resurrection, in which we pay for those sins.
But the Bible talks about no such purgatory. If there is one sin Christ did not atone for, we are all lost world without end.
It only took one sin on Adam’s part to condemn himself and all his posterity to eternal woe and misery. If there is a purgatory for the sins we commit after we are born again, we would be there for all eternity, and still begin to satisfy our sin debt. Sin is a far more serious thing than we are able to imagine. Had there never been another sin after Adam’s sin, it would still have required the death of God’s Son to redeem us from iniquity. The good brother was not aware of the magnitude of our guilt. Either Christ redeemed us from all iniquity, or there is no hope for any of us—but he did redeem us from all iniquity. Paul said so, and I believe he knew more about it than my friend does.
Peter tells us that Christ suffered for sins—that he might bring us to God. Saying that he died to bring us to God is very different from saying that he died that he might give us a chance to be saved. If he died to give us a chance to be saved, you would think there would be a verse somewhere that says that. That verse is not to be found.
Quite the contrary—we are told that he suffered for sins....that he might bring us to God.
More than that, Isaiah tells us, “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged.” Then, hanging on the cross, he said, “I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.”
The question is really very simple. Did he fail—is he discouraged—or did he finish the work?
Years ago, I noticed that a Protestant church near my house had the subject for the pastor’s next Sunday sermon posted on their sign. He announced that he was going to preach on A Discouraged Christ. I would have given a nickel to have provided him a proof text; but he never did call, and I just kept my proof text to myself.
Isaiah said, “He shall not fail, nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth.”
I thought about it for a long time, and then I decided that the good pastor was right after all. Paul did say, “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well ear with him,” 2Co 11:4.
The brother did not say he was going to preach on The discouraged Christ; he was going to preach on A discouraged Christ. A indicates one among many; the indicates one alone. When I realized he was talking about one of those other Jesuses, one of those discouraged Jesuses, I decided he did not need my proof text after all.
But, let me tell you, it is those other would-be saviors, those would-be redeemers, who get discouraged. My Lord, my savior, my redeemer, does not fail; he is never discouraged. He came to save his people from their sins, and he will do it.
He That Believeth AND is Baptized
Mr 16:15-16 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The Lord told these Jewish apostles to go into all the world. The
Jews had always believed they had a monopoly on God, and so far as any
established religion was concerned, they were right. The Law of Moses was given
Under that law
Ro 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Historians like to talk about what they call the Classical Age. They talk
about the Graeco-Roman culture, the philosophers of
In the beginning of the gospel the Lord had told the apostles to stay away from the gentiles.
Mt 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and
commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into
any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep
of the house of
He came to the Jews first, but God had always intended that the Lord would be a light to the gentiles as well as to the Jews. In our text he announces that the time has come for the apostles to carry that light.
Isa 49:6, I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
There were only twelve apostles, and the Lord did not expect those twelve
men to preach in every city and village on the planet. When he tells them to
preach to every creature, he simply means that the gospel is not to
be limited, the way the Law Service was, to the Jews, and to the
By every creature he means all classes of people, or every person who would listen to what they preach. In Col 1:23, Paul uses the same expression. He tells us the gospel had been “preached to every creature which is under heaven.”
If any idea does not make good sense, it is probably not right. The gospel
is reasonable; it makes sense, and it does not make sense to think the gospel
had, at that time, reached every Hindu in
But it does make good sense to know the gospel had broken the bands that once restricted revealed truth, and it had gone forth to all classes of people, Jew and gentile, rich and poor, free and bond, men and women. It is in that sense that the gospel had been preached “to every creature which is under heaven.”
Every creature refers to every class, or every kind, of person.
But while this command is to preach the gospel to every creature, there is nothing in this command telling us to force the gospel on those who are not interested in what we have to say.
If somebody will not listen, there is no need to become frustrated. The Lord instructed the apostles to go and to preach, but if those they tried to preach to refused to listen, he did not require them to force the gospel on them—as if that was possible. He instructed them to shake off the dust of their feet, and leave them to their folly.
Mt 10:14-15 And whosoever shall not receive you,
nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the
dust of your feet. 15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for
Lest we might get the idea that was a rule that only applied to that day,
notice that when Paul and Barnabas were expelled from
Ac 13:50-51 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.
51 But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.
That was after Pentecost; so the same rule applies today. God does not require what we cannot do. If somebody refuses to listen, we cannot make them listen. There comes a time when we have done all that is required, and God requires no more.
The missionary machinery invented over two hundred years ago is not faring so well in today’s world. Islam has largely conquered the territory the missionaries used to work so diligently, and today the surest way to lose your head (literally) is to try to convert Muslims.
But in the early days of the mission movement, missionaries did literally
force themselves on their host country. The opposition was often fierce and the
missionaries were much of the time in danger for their lives. If the opposition
became too hot, they could always call on their countrymen back home to come
and protect them. Sometimes their government (usually
This passage is often used to try to prove that those who fail to be baptized in water will go to hell. But it teaches no such thing; neither does any other text in the Bible.
We said before that the gospel makes sense, and it does not make any kind of sense to think God will send people to hell—because they failed to believe a gospel they knew nothing about.
And it does not make good sense to imagine that some poor soul will burn forever, because nobody brought the gospel to him—while those who could have, but did not, take the gospel to him will bask in the sunlight of heaven above. You talk about getting things upside down. If that is not standing the truth on its head, I cannot imagine how you would go about it.
The Lord gave the apostles signs or evidences by which they might recognize the difference between the children of God and those who were not his children. We are to preach to anyone interested in listening. It is not our job to make our own distinctions in preaching the gospel.
The gospel will do its own sorting out. It has its own way of distinguishing those who are subjects of gospel address and those who are not. It has a totally different effect on those who are alive in the Spirit from the effect it has on those who are dead in sins.
Those who are alive in the Spirit hear the gospel and rejoice in it; those who are dead in sins hear the gospel and they are infuriated by it. Paul says it is the savor of life unto life and the savor of death unto death (2Co 2:16).
They could see evidence on the part of some of their hearers, in that they believed their preaching and rejoiced in it. The gospel was good news to their hungry souls. They could know by that evidence that these were children of God, and they will live in heaven after awhile.
The evidence they are the children of God is that they believe the gospel, and we have even more evidence when they obey its commands. So when one believes and is baptized, we have evidence he is born of God, and an heir of heaven.
It might help to point out that there are three classes of people with respect to belief and baptism. We might call them the first, second and third class.
The first class is those who believe and are baptized. The second class is those who do not believe, and the third class is those who believe, but die without being baptized.
The third class is simply not mentioned in this text. Those who would have us believe that all those who hear the gospel and believe it—but fail to act on it by being baptized in water—use this text, trying to prove their doctrine, but it will not work.
Read the text as many times as you will, and you will never find the first mention of those who believe the gospel, but fail to act on it. It mentions those who believe and are baptized, and it mentions those who simply do not believe— but it says nary a word about those who believe and fail to be baptized in water.
The text says plainly enough, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Believing the gospel and being baptized gives us evidence that he is a child of God. All the first class, then, (those who believe and are baptized) will be saved. The text shows plainly that not one of them will be lost.
Those who stretch this text into a proposition to the dead alien sinner do not themselves believe the text. They think they believe it, but they do not. They believe that those who believe and are baptized may apostatize and go to hell after all—even though the text says plainly that “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” So they do not believe their own proof text.
The second class—those who simply do not believe—will be damned—and their continuing to reject the gospel, and their hatred of the God of the gospel bears evidence they have never been born of God’s Spirit.
Perhaps, this is a good place to point out that the wicked are not the subject of gospel address, and nobody will go to hell for failing to believe the gospel.
The wicked will suffer in hell because they are wicked—not because they failed to believe the gospel. Unbelief is the evidence—not the cause—of their condemnation.
The gospel of grace is intended for the heaven-born soul. It satisfies that appetite for better things that comes from the presence of God’s Spirit living and reigning in his heart. There is no guarantee that he will ever hear the gospel preached in power. Not every heaven-born soul ever hears gospel preaching, but if some poor soul rejoices under the preaching of the gospel, and if his heart is stirred when he hears it preached in power, you have good evidence that heaven will be his home.
The dead alien sinner has no such appetite; he has no interest in those things that are so precious to the child of God. You may describe the horrors of hell in such a terrifying way that you scare him. You may even get him to make a public profession of faith—based on the fact you scared the living daylights out of him.
But you started out with a dead alien sinner. Now you have a dead alien sinner who is afraid of going to hell, but he is still a dead alien sinner. The Bible tells us, “There is no fear of God before his eyes,” (Ro 3:18), but that does not mean he is not afraid of going to hell. That is why the revival preacher has so much to say about hellfire and damnation. Even he knows the dead alien sinner is not afraid of God, so he scares him by talking about the flames of hell, and he prides himself in the thought that he “can preach hell so hot you can feel the flame.”
You may describe heaven in a way that sounds like a great vacation, and even a wicked man might want to book a trip. But you will never teach him to hate sin; he loves it too much. You will never teach him to love God and want to live with him, and worship him in all eternity. He may want title to some choice real estate in heaven, but he is not interested in the company of God and the children of God.
When the Lord said, “He that believeth not shall be damned.”
He was talking about the wicked—those who do not have the Spirit of God, nor the love of God, in their hearts.
The wicked do not believe the gospel; they do not love the gospel, and they do not want to hear the gospel. There is nothing about the gospel that appeals to them, and if you dress the gospel up so that it appeals to the wicked, you have simply swapped the gospel for a deceptive substitute.
That wicked person, who despises the gospel, and the God of the gospel, is lost and condemned, and he will continue in that state after he leaves this world. The fact that he fails to believe the gospel is not the cause of his condemnation. He is condemned because he is wicked, and his unbelief of the gospel is the evidence of it.
This text says nothing about that third class; that is, the man who believes the gospel, but is never baptized in water. He is just not in this verse. Our friends can look for him all they want to, but they are chasing a ghost—he is not there.
That child of God, who fails to do his duty in being baptized, will miss out on the joy of a life of obedience, but he will not miss heaven. The loss he suffers in failing to follow our Lord in baptism is a great loss, and we make a serious mistake when we minimize that loss, but is a timely loss—it is not eternal.
That person who believes the gospel, who loves the gospel and rejoices in it, will live in heaven some day—whether he ever makes it to the water or not. And it would be hard to find any fact the Bible makes any clearer than it does that every believer will be saved in heaven—water baptism or no. Listen to just a few texts that deal with the question.
Joh 5:1, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”
The text is clear enough. “Whosoever believeth....is born of God.” There is nary a word about water baptism.
Joh 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Again, it is he that heareth and believeth. There is still not a word about water baptism. If our friends have a complaint, they will have to take it up with the Lord. He said it.
In that beautiful old text our friends love so much, the Lord said:
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is still whosoever believeth—not a word about water baptism.
By the way, notice that we do not believe that we might have life. That is, we do not receive life as a reward for believing. God gave his Son that we might have life, and our believing is the evidence of that life. Both the source and the cause of life are entirely in God. We are saved because of what he did.
If we had been left to ourselves, we would never have believed, and we would never have been saved. God gave his Son to redeem us; he sent his Spirit into our hearts to quicken us from our dead state, and we will one day live in heaven— because of what he has done for us.
Those who believe in Christ are said to be born of God, to have passed from death unto life, never to be condemned, and to be in possession of everlasting life. That sounds to me like somebody who will be in heaven some day.
If there is anybody who believes a poor sinner may believe in God, and love God, and want to live with him in all eternity—but he is going to burn, because he did not allow a preacher to immerse them in water—let him produce the verse that says so. After almost two hundred years they are still looking.
The Bible makes it plain enough as to what water baptism is all about. It is a figure of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, and it is a figure of that washing that comes in regeneration. Paul shows plainly that there is a washing that comes in regeneration.
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The washing that comes in regeneration is a literal and real washing from our sins, and there is also a figurative washing away of sins that comes in water baptism. Ananias told Saul,
Ac 22:16, Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.
Our friends look at verses like that, and they say, “Aha, I told you; baptism does wash away sins; the text says so.” But Ananias was talking about the figurative washing that comes in water baptism; he was not talking about that literal washing, or purging that comes only by the blood of Christ, that is applied in regeneration.
The record is clear enough; there is a literal and there is a ceremonial washing away of sins. The one is real, the other is figurative. The literal or real washing away of sins is by the blood of Christ.
Heb 9:13-14 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
The purging or cleansing mentioned here is literal; it is real, and the text makes it plain enough; that work is done by the blood of Christ. Our sins are purged and removed by the blood of Christ, and that washing is applied to our hearts by the Spirit in regeneration. It is not done by the preacher when he immerses us in water.
Notice that he says God purges our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. There is a world of difference between being purged that we might serve and serving that we might be purged.
With all the courtesy I can muster, allow me to say, they stand the doctrine on its head. Being purged in order to serve God, is different from serving in order to be purged. The purging comes first— the service comes after. The purging is prior to the service. You cannot deny it without denying the plain language of the text.
Peter makes it abundantly clear that baptism in water is a figure of the washing that comes in regeneration.
1Pe 3:20-21 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Here baptism is called a figure in the same way the ark was a figure. In water baptism the subject is completely immersed in water. The water is under him, over him, and all around him. In the same way, the ark was in the water, and for forty days and nights, the water poured down on the ark. To all intents and purposes, those in the ark were totally immersed in water. That is, they were sufficiently immersed to satisfy the figure, and for the ark to serve as a like figure along with water baptism.
The ark and baptism are said to be like figures. They are alike, in that, they are figures of the same thing, and that is salvation by Christ.
More than that, Peter denies that baptism is the putting away of the filth of the flesh. Somebody says Peter was showing that baptism does not wash away the dirt and grime of everyday living, but that is a silly dodge that does not deserve a response. Who ever imagined that it was?
In the Greek language of the text the word translated filth is rhupos; it means moral filthiness, or sinfulness. The Bible defines its own terms better than you and I can. The best way to establish the meaning of a word is to notice how it is used in other places in the Bible. John uses the same word in Re 22:11.
Re 22:11, He which is filthy [rhupos], let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still.
John uses the word as the opposite of righteous. That ought to be proof enough that rhupos has to do with moral filthiness, and Peter says that baptism does not wash it away. Baptism in water is a figurative—not a literal—washing away of sins, and that is what Ananias was telling Paul in Acts, chapter twenty-two.
Ac 22:16, Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord.
We are baptized by God’s Spirit into Christ; we are buried by water baptism with Christ. By using the word therefore, Paul shows that baptism by the Spirit into Christ is the reason we are baptized with Christ in water.
Ro 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The first baptism mentioned in this passage is a baptism into Christ, and the second is a burial with Christ, there are clearly two distinct baptisms mentioned. There could not be a baptism into Christ and a burial with Christ in the same act. With and into do not mean the same thing.
Those who insist the two baptisms are the same like to boast of their scholarship—but they turn a blind eye to these two little prepositions. Into and with do not express the same relation. It is truly amazing how dull scholarship can become when it is faced with the simple truth.
In verse three Paul talks about being baptized into Jesus Christ. That work is done by the Spirit of God. The preacher has nothing to do with it. Paul explains baptism into Christ is in 1Co 12:13.
1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
Notice that it is by one Spirit—God’s Spirit—that we are baptized into one body. The saints are first baptized, by the Spirit, into Christ, and into his death; therefore (because we have first been baptized into Christ), we are buried with him, by water baptism, into death.
Ro 6:3-4 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The Spirit first baptizes us actually and literally into Christ; therefore (because of that baptism by the Spirit) the preacher is now able to baptize us figuratively with Christ.
God’s Spirit is God as surely as the Father is God. Our friends make the mistake of putting the preacher in the place of God’s Spirit—literally in the place of God.
Notice verse four one more time:
Ro 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Therefore (because we have been literally and actually baptized into Christ by the Spirit), We are figuratively buried with him by (water) baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
It is not enough to clear the ground; having cleared the ground, we need to build on it. We have spent time talking about what water baptism does not do; we need to also spend time in talking about what it does do.
This death mentioned in verse four has to do with death to the world, death to our old ways and our old walk. It has to do with separation from the world, and rising to walk in newness of life. Water baptism is more than a dead ritual. It does not bring spiritual life—but it should bring a new way of life, a new way of living.
Ro 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Ro 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Ro 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
It is important that we understand what is the proper purpose of water baptism; it is also important that we give water baptism its proper regard in that place where God put it. The fact that water baptism does not gain us a home in heaven should never prompt us to minimize the importance of obeying the Lord by being baptized.
The Bible makes it abundantly clear that water baptism does not make anybody a child of God, and it does not gain anybody a home in eternal heaven. It makes it just as clear that baptism in water is the first step—the very first step—in gospel obedience.
You cannot walk in obedience to the gospel without following the Lord in baptism. You can obey the moral law without being baptized. You can be a law-abiding citizen. You can refrain from lying, and stealing, and committing sins that dishonor your name and the name of Christ without being baptized.
But serving God, and walking in obedience to his commands is not a cafeteria-style arrangement. God does not give us the right to pick and choose which commandments we want to obey. Not even the law of the land gives that right. If we decide to pick and choose which laws we want to obey, the officer is apt to come knocking on our door.
God has so ordained that baptism is the first step in gospel obedience, and we have no right to put anything else in its place.
Lu 7:29-30 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
To justify in the sense of this text means to declare to be just. “All the people that heard him, and the publicans justified God [they declared him to be just] being baptized with the baptism of John.” They declared that God is just in all he says and does. He is just in commanding those who believe in him to be baptized in water. He has the right to require that from us.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. They rejected God’s counsel. By their failing to be baptized they rejected God’s counsel—they rejected his command to be baptized. They declared by their action that he is unjust; he had no right to require it.
Notice that the clear boundary line between those who justify God and those who reject his counsel is water baptism. God drew the line. You cannot cross that boundary line between rejecting God’s counsel and justifying him (declaring him to be just) without being baptized.
You may live a moral line without being baptized. You may keep the laws of the land without being baptized. But you cannot live a life of obedience to your Savior without keeping his command to repent and be baptized.
Ac 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
“Repent and be baptized” is not an invitation, and it is not a suggestion—it is a commandment. God commands every heaven-born soul to repent and be baptized. We preachers do our hearers a disservice when we fail to point out the importance of obeying God in this matter. We need to point out that, while failing to be baptized will not cost us our home in heaven—it will cost us ever so much in this life.
We should never leave our hearers with the impression that failing to follow the Lord in baptism is a small thing. We need to point out that to willfully reject God’s commandment, and to go on year after year refusing to do what he has commanded, leaves us in rebellion against him.
We need to point out that water baptism is the way God has appointed for us to publicly declare our faith in him, and our allegiance to him—and he does not allow us to pick and choose some other way.
Mt 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Mr 8:38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
How very grateful we should be for all the Lord has done for us, and we should be eager to publicly declare our love for him and our gratitude to him. He has told us if we are ashamed to confess him before men, he will be ashamed of us.
How serious it is to be ashamed to confess our Lord, and to let our friends know our faith in him. But you say, “I do confess him in other ways.” That is not the way it works. This is not a Chinese restaurant, where you choose from column A or column B. If we truly love him, and want to please him, you would think we could not wait to get in the water.
Eternal HEAVEN: Sylvester Hassell: “When Christ comes again it will be to be admired in all them that believe. Those who are then alive will be changed in the twinkling of an eye; their corruptible shall put on incorruption, and their mortal shall put on immortality. Those who are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth to the resurrection of life, their bodies fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Son of God. Thus changed, both classes of believers shall ever be with the Lord. The place of the final abode of the righteous is sometimes called a house, as when the Savior said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” Joh 14:2; sometimes “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” Heb 11:16; a country through which flows the river of the water of life, and “on either side of the river was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him; and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign forever and ever” Re 22:2-5. Sometimes the final abode of the redeemed is called a “new Heavens and a new earth” 1Co 2:9.
As to the blessedness of this heavenly state we know that it is inconceivable; “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” 1Co 2:9.
We know not, O we know not
What joys await us there;
What radiancy of glory,
What bliss beyond compare.
We know, however: (1.) That this incomprehensible blessedness of Heaven shall arise from the vision of God. This vision is beatific. It transforms the soul into the Divine image; transfusing into it the Divine life, so that it is filled with the fulness of God. This vision of God is in the face of Jesus Christ, in whom dwells the plentitude of the Divine glory bodily. God is seen in fashion as a man; and it is this manifestation of God in the person of Christ that is inconceivably and intolerably ravishing. Peter, James and John became as dead men when they saw his glory, for a moment, in the holy mount.
(2.) The blessedness of the redeemed will flow not only from the manifestation of the glory, but also of the love of God; of that love, mysterious, unchangeable and infinite, of which the work of redemption is the fruit.
(3.) Another element of the future happiness of the saints is the indefinite enlargement of all their faculties.
(4.) Another is their entire exemption from all sin and sorrow.
(5.) Another is their intercourse and fellowship with the high intelligences of Heaven; with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and all the redeemed.
(6.) Another is constant increase in knowledge and in the useful exercise of all their powers.
(7.) Another is the secure and everlasting possession of all possible good.”—C. Hodge.”
“The everlasting duration of the happiness of the righteous is shown by its being called eternal or everlasting life, eternal glory, a house eternal in the Heavens, an eternal inheritance, an everlasting kingdom, a continuing city, a better country, a being ever with the Lord, in accordance with the eternal purpose of God and the everlasting covenant of grace; were there any fears of its ever ending, it could not be perfect happiness.
As to whether there will be any degrees in the final happiness of the saints, those passages of Scriptures usually brought to support it usually belong to the militant, not to the triumphant state of the church.
The arguments against degrees in glory are: (1.) That all the people of God are loved by him with the same everlasting love. (2.) They were all chosen together in Christ before the foundation of the world. (3.) They are all equally redeemed with the same precious blood of Christ. (5.) They are all freely justified by the same righteousness of Christ. (6.) All are equally the predestinated and adopted children and heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. (7.) They are all raised up from the same low and lost estate by Christ to be kings and priests unto God’---John Gill.” (Hassell’s History ppg 266, 267)
HEAVEN: High and Low Seats: C. H. Cayce: If sinners were saved in heaven because of what they do, or because of their good works, it might be true that one would have a higher place or a more exalted position in heaven than others. But sinners are not saved in heaven because of their righteousness, or because of their good works. They are saved in heaven because of what Christ has done for them, and He did no more for one saved person than for another. What He did for one of His children He did for each one of them.
If what Christ did for one secures a high place in heaven for him, what He did for another will do the same for him also. Hence, as sinners are saved in heaven because of what Christ has done, and not because of what they do, it follows that as Christ did no more for one of the saved than He did for another, all of the saved will be on an equality, or on a common level.
Paul said, 2Ti 4:8, a crown of righteousness was laid up for him. He also tells us that this crown was not only laid up for him, but it was also laid up for all who love the appearing of the Savior. This being true, it cannot be true that one will have a higher place or a more exalted position than another.
All the Lord’s children will have the same inheritance 1Pe 1:3-5; as they all have the same inheritance, and each one has all the inheritance, then there is no difference here. All are on an equality and on an equal footing, so far as the inheritance is concerned. This being true, it cannot be true that one will have a higher place or a more exalted position than another.
In Ro 8:17 we are told that the children of God are joint-heirs with Christ. Everyone knows that a joint-heir is an equal heir. Then as they are all joint-heirs with Christ, they will all, each and every one of them, share heaven and all that it is and all that it means equally with Christ. If one has higher place that another, then they are not joint-heirs, are not equal heirs. But they are equal heirs, and therefore one will not have a higher place than another.
If one should have a higher place than another, why could there not be jealousy arising? Why could not one be jealous of another and envious of another who might be occupying a higher place than himself? This would destroy the very idea of heaven, and there would be no heaven at all.
It appears to us that this idea of a high and low seat in heaven is very much akin to an exalted opinion of self. Usually those who hold to such an idea have such an exalted opinion of self that they expect to occupy a very high place, and if we are to judge by expressions they sometimes use, they expect to look down with contempt upon those who occupy a lower place. It is pharisaical in the extreme. It is contrary to sound reason, contrary to the teaching of God’s word; and the idea of doing much for the Lord in order to enter heaven gave birth to it. May the Lord deliver His little children form every false way, is our humble prayer. (CAYCE vol. 1, ppg 339,340)
The Book of HEBREWS:
Sylvester Hassell: The epistle to the
Hebrews presents to the perplexed Hebrew-Christian mind the correct
divinely-intended relation and subordination of the Old Covenant to the New.
The internal evidence is that it was written from
The epistle is a profound argument for the superiority of Christ over the angels, over Moses, and over the Levitical priesthood, and for the finality of the second covenant. It unfolds far more fully than any other book the great idea of the eternal priesthood and sacrifice of Christ, offered once and forever for human redemption, as distinct from the national and transient character of the Mosaic priesthood and the ever-repeated sacrifices of the tabernacle and the temple. He shows from the Old Testament itself that God had designed the latter as but the temporary shadow, type and prophecy of Christianity, the abiding substance.
The epistle is, like Colossians and Philippians, eminently Christological,
and forms a stepping-stone to the Christology of John. The object of the author
was to warn the conservative Christians in
The language of the epistle is the purest Greek of the New Testament. The opening sentence is a rich and elegant period of classic construction. The description of the heroes of faith in Heb 11 is one of the most eloquent and sublime in the entire range of religious literature. (Hassell’s History pg 206)
Eternal HELL: Lemuel Potter: By the expression, endless punishment, I mean a punishment that will never cease........The expressions of Scripture relative to this subject are, punishment, torment, death, damnation, shame and everlasting contempt, or separation, and while the term death is frequently employed I believe it to be death in the sense of separation, and not that they possess no vitality. This state will be a state of wretchedness and misery that will never cease.” (Lemuel Potter)
Lemuel Potter I claim that eternal damnation is endless damnation, the same as eternal life is endless life. And notice, the sons of men are spoken of here, which must be Adam’s posterity. I quote again,” Mt 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Now notice it is not only the soul that goes to hell according to this text, but it is the body as well, and from the language recorded by Luke, it is after the death of the body. (Lemuel Potter)
C.H. Cayce: We are asked the following question: “Do the
Scriptures teach that the grave is hell— that we are banished from God,
when we are laid in the grave, until the day of the resurrection?” The
word hell in our (King James) translation of the Scriptures is sometimes
translated from a word which means the grave. The Scriptures do not teach that
God’s people are banished from God at death until the resurrection. When
a child of God dies he immediately goes to God in spirit, while the body goes
to the grave. The spirit goes to God who gave it. The Savior said to the thief:
“Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
Sylvester Hassell: “The chief objections to the doctrine of endless punishment,” says Prof. W.G.T. Shedd, “are not Biblical, but speculative. The great majority of students and exegetes find the tenet in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Sin is voluntary; and endless sin must receive endless punishment. The unsubmissive, rebellious spirits of the lost go, with like-minded companions, to ‘their own place,’ which they prefer to Heaven. History shows that the disbelief of the doctrine of the endless punishment of the wicked is most prevalent in the most corrupt times—itself being both a sign and a cause of the corruption.”
God said to our first parents in the garden of Eden that in the day they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they should surely die; but Satan afterwards came in the form of the serpent, and flatly contradicted God, telling them that they should not surely die. So, in the present age of widespread infidelity, Satan, in the hearts of both the
professing and non-professing Christian world, assures men that, though they go on in sin and impenitence and unbelief till temporal death, they will not die everlastingly—thus meeting with point-blank contradiction the repeated, multiform, emphatic, indubitable assurances of God in the Scriptures.
This soothing, infernal poison, a combination of Arminianism and Universalism, is pervading and leavening the great masses in the Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican communions. In the minds of multitudes, a terminable purgatory is taking the place, for all men, of an interminable hell—the idea being derived, not from the scriptures, but from the ancient Persian heathens, from whom the Jews obtained it and incorporated it in their Apocrypha and Talmud; the Catholics derived it from the Jews, and Protestants derived it from the Catholics.
According to this insidious deception, men after death are to be sent into purifying fires, chastened for their sins, instructed in Divine truth, and given another chance to repent and save themselves, and go to Heaven. High ecclesiastical office, pretentious scholarship, splendid eloquence, soul-moving rhetoric, and encyclopedic erudition, followed by countless hosts of lesser lights, zealously array themselves against the plainest declarations of the written word of God and in defense of this Satanic delusion. They urge that the doctrine of eternal punishment is by far the most objectionable part of the Bible to skeptics; and, unless this harsh and cruel doctrine is toned down, the infidel world never will receive the Bible.
But there are other teachings of the Scriptures that are intensely offensive to the carnal mind—such as the total depravity of man, salvation by grace alone, the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, the Divinity of Christ, the atonement, the resurrection, the holiness of God, etc. All these and all other peculiar features of Christianity must be removed from the Bible, or explained away, before the unregenerate world will be willing to receive it. It will, therefore, be much better for all who profess the name of Christ never to begin the work of toning down and explaining away the Scriptures.
The present writer has read, with deep attention, the most recent elaborate arguments advanced against the Bible doctrine of the everlasting duration of future punishment; he has compared these reasonings with themselves, with the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, and with the latest and most authoritative lexicons, and he is constrained to declare his belief that, for the very perfection of sophistry, these infidel treatises have no equal in the entire range of human literature. The same methods of explanation would make anything mean nothing.
The terms almost invariably used in the Scriptures to denote everlasting duration are olam in the Old Testament, and aion and ainios in the New Testament. While these terms, both in and out of the Bible, sometimes certainly signify indefinite duration, it is admitted by the best lexicographers that their common meaning is everlasting; they are the most frequent terms used in the Bible to denote the everlasting duration of God, and the everlasting duration of the happiness of saints in glory; it is therefore most scriptural to understand that, when they are applied to the duration of the punishment of the wicked, they also mean everlasting. The Scriptures, being addressed in the main to God’s people, dwell more upon the perfections of God and the future happiness of his saints than upon the future punishment of the wicked.
In the Old Testament olam is used 40 times in reference to God, 94 times in reference to the future happiness of his people, and 11 times in reference to the punishment of the wicked. In the New Testament aion is used 14 times and aionios 3 times in reference to God; aion 9 times and aionios 51 times in reference to the happiness of the righteous beyond the grave; and aion five times and aionios 7 times in reference to the future punishment of the wicked.
In all these cases the reference is to the future duration of God and of the human race; and the making of a radical distinction in the meanings of these same terms, so that they shall denote infinite duration in reference to the righteous , and finite duration in reference to the wicked, is, says Professor Stuart, “without parallel in the just principles of interpretation. The conclusion is plain, and philologically and exegetically certain. It is this: either the declarations of the Scriptures do not establish the facts that God and his glory and praise and happiness are endless, nor that the happiness of the righteous in the future world is endless, or else they establish the fact that the punishment of the wicked is endless.”
In Mt 25:46 the very same Greek word, ainios is used by Christ, in the same sentence in reference both to the duration of the punishment of the wicked and the duration of the happiness of the righteous. The plurals and reduplications and supplementations of these three terms are used several times in the Scriptures to express the duration of the existence of the glory of God, and of the future happiness of his people; so also are they sometimes used to express the duration of the future punishment of the wicked (Ps 9:5; Re 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10).
The extreme position has even been taken that aionios has no reference to duration whatever, but simply means spiritual, supra-sensuous, beyond and above time; and that aionion (or eternal) life may last but ten minutes, and aionion (or eternal) death may last but ten minutes. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is, on this and on every subject, a higher authority than any creature; and in Joh 10:28 he defines aionian (or eternal) life to be imperishable or indestructible life; and in Mt 25:41,46, he defines aionian (or eternal) fire or punishment or death Re 20; 14; 15 to be the same as the punishment of the devil and his angels, which, in Jude 6, is declared to be aidios, a term never meaning anything but everlasting; and in Mr 9:43, Christ declares that this “fire” is asbestos, unquenchable, inextinguishable; and in Mr 9:44,46,48 “the fire” signifies the wrath of God, and “the worm” signifies remorse of conscience.
The “great gulf fixed” between the righteous and the wicked after death is declared by Christ in Lu 16:26 to be impassable. Not a particle of all the quibbling about olam, aion and aionios will apply to such unmistakable passages as Mr 9:43,48; Joh 3:3,36; Lu 16:26; Re 21:8.
The Scriptures everywhere represent the doomed state of the wicked after death as a finality; they contain not one syllable to justify the belief that there is any repentance, or forgiveness, or radical change of state in the world beyond the grave. Even the eye of the Apostle of love, as he stands upon the last and loftiest heights of inspiration, sees only endless misery for the wicked.
The filthy and unjust then will remain guilty rebels against God and wretched sufferers forever. The severe punishment inflicted by an avenging Judge, instead of softening and reconciling, will harden and exasperate the criminal.
That a Most Holy God has an infinite hatred of sin is shown by the Noachian deluge, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Pharaoh and his host, and of Jerusalem, by the numberless and indescribable miseries of men in all ages of the world, and by the awful summons that one soul every second receives to quit these mortal shores and appear in the presence of its God.
And the infinite hatred of a Most Holy God against sin is shown infinitely more than it could have been shown by all the sufferings for all the human race forever, by the bleeding unutterable agonies of the meek and lowly and spotless Lamb of God in Gethsemane and on Calvary while he expiated the sins of his spiritual Israel. “It is far less possible that the bitter cup should pass from the lips of the finally impenitent than that it should have been taken from the trembling hand of the holy and harmless Son of God.”
The unanswerable refutation of the entire body of argument used by the infidel restorationist is that this feeble, carnal, heathen and ungodly system wholly does away with the atonement of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit, the most fundamental truths of Holy Writ, and substitutes, in their stead, satisfaction rendered to Divine justice, and purification obtained by each human being, by the actual individual sufferings of each sinner in this and the future world. If this doctrine be true, there is no salvation, in the true sense of the term, for any member of the Adamic race. The Scriptures and arguments already adduced thoroughly refute also the position of those who advocate the annihilation of the wicked at or after death, or what they call a conditional immortality.
More fully, clearly and emphatically than all the prophets and Apostles does the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate God of eternity, the Savior of men, the last Supreme Judge of the human race, describe to us the awful state of the impenitent dead. May we have the wisdom, by Divine grace, as well upon this as upon every other subject, to turn from all other masters and to hear him.
It seems, according to the Scriptures, that the sufferings of the lost will arise: from the loss of all earthly good; from exclusion from the presence and favor of God; from the unrestrained dominion of sin; from the operations of conscience; from despair; from evil associates; from bodily tortures; and from the everlasting duration of their sufferings. (Hassell’s History ppg 262-266)
Question: Will the everlasting punish-ment
of the wicked be annihilation or endless conscious torment? Answer:
Annihilation, or the utter extinction of conscious existence, is the doctrine
of the heathen atheistic Buddhists; it is a sign and a cause of the most
corrupt times. As proved by the context and by other Scriptures, destruction in
the Scriptures never means annihilation. The Almighty never made anything for
nothing; such an idea impeaches His omniscience and His unchangeability.
Non-existence, instead of being everlasting punishment, is an end of all
punishment. The Son of God never endured the infinite horrors of Gethsemane,
To every reverent, intelligent and candid believer in the Scriptures the following passages demonstrate, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the conscious, everlasting suffering of the wicked: Da 12:2; Mt 10:28; 13:49-50; 25:36; 5:28; Ro 2:6-16; 2Th 1:7-9; Re 14:11; 19:20; 20:10,15; 21:8; 22:11. Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, perverts these and other plain Scriptures into fables and nothingness (Ge 4:4-5; 2Co 11:3,14-15; 2Ti 4:3-4; Re 12:9). The false doctrine of annihil-ationism was first broached, among professed Christians, in the fourth century, by Arnobius, of Africa, a superficial rhetorician; but it has found many followers, in the last two or three deteriorating centuries, among Materialists, Pantheists, Universalists, infidels and Arminians.
Life is not existence (for things without life exist); but life is a condition of existence; and so death (the opposite of life) is not non-existence. Adam died (in trespasses and sins) in the day when he ate the forbidden fruit, Ge 2:25, but he still existed as a natural though sinful man. And so the Ephesians, who were “dead in trespasses and sins”
Eph 2:1, had a natural sinful existence, in which they walked in worldliness and disobedience, Eph 2:2, until God quickened them, or gave them spiritual and divine life. The cutting off, or consuming, or perishing, or destruction of the wicked on earth (Ps 37:20,34,36,38; Mal 4:1,3) is their judicial, righteous, violent consignment to death, from which they “will come forth unto the resurrection of damnation” (Joh 5:29; Mt 25:41,46).
Punishment is pain, physical or mental, and consciousness is essential to pain; therefore everlasting punishment is everlasting conscious pain—everlasting “contempt” Da 12:2, “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” Ro 2:8-9, “everlasting fire,” Mt 25:41, where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth,” Mt 13:41-42.
It seems enmity to God and cruelty to sinners to endeavor to soften these awful truths into annihilation or nothingness. Our English word punishment is derived from a Latin and Greek word meaning pain or suffering; and the Greek word rendered punishment in Mt 25:46 (“these shall go away into everlasting punishment”) means chastisement, and is in 1Jo 4:18 rendered torment. Christ saves His people from the everlasting torment deserved by their sins.—S.H.” (CAYCE’S EDITORIALS vol. 2, ppg 16-18)
John R. Daily: The Greek word gehenna is the word most frequently employed in the New Testament to designate a place of future punishment. I am aware that this term originally signified the valley of Hinnom, a place near the city of Jerusalem where children were cruelly sacrificed by fire to Moloch, the idol of the Amorites; afterward held in abomination, and used to cast carcasses of dead animals and malefactors, which were consumed by fire that was constantly kept burning. In process of time this place came to be considered as an emblem of hell. The name gehenna is frequently used in the New Testament to designate a place of punishment reserved for the wicked in a future state. In fact it is used only in that sense.
In Liddle and Scott’s Lexicon it is defined as a place of everlasting punishment, hell-fire, hell. In Grove’s Dictionary it is defined hell, hell-fire, torments of hell. It is translated hell in Mt 23:33. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell.” The term “damnation of hell” is from the Greek phrase kriseos tes gehennes. Krisis means judgment, condemnation, final punishment. This passage teaches that the place where this final punishment is to be inflicted is called hell or gehenna.
I now read Lu 12; 4; 5 and Mt 10:28. The latter passage teaches that the soul is not killed by killing the body; that the hell here mentioned is entered after death; that it is not the grave, for those who kill the body have power to bury the dead; and that it is not the valley of Hinnom, for those who killed the body had power to cast it into that valley. These two parallel passages plainly teach that it is God who will cast soul and body into hell, and that this will be done after death. Therefore there is revealed to us in the scriptures a place of punishment in the future world.
The same conclusion is reached by the following process of reasoning: [either] 1. Christ used this word hell or gehenna without any application of without any design and meaning whatever; or 2. He used it without any honesty, intending only to frighten them with literal burning in the valley of the son of Hinnom, an affliction they must have known they were absolutely in no danger of; or 3. He intended to reveal to them the fact that the ungodly would be consigned to a place of punishment in the future world. No one can for a moment entertain the first two suppositions. We are compelled to adopt the last, therefore, or violate every principle of reason and consistency.
Moreover, it is well known that the Jews at this time believed in a place of future punishment, and as they used this term in that way themselves, they must have so understood Christ. Their use of this term must have been known to Christ, and if they had been in error, he certainly would have corrected them, but so far from this he used the term the same himself. He would not have done this had he not intended to confirm their views and press upon them with additional force the same truth. It does seem to me that all who entertain the least regard for honesty and consistency will be compelled to accept the conclusion that Christ did teach that there is in the future state a place of punishment to which the finally wicked and impenitent will be consigned. (John R. Daily Zion’s Advocate Nov. 1898)
HENRY IV, Emperor of
HENRY of Lausanne, and The HENRICIANS (See under PETER de BRUYS) Anthology Peter de Bruys
HENRY VIII, King of
Matthew HENRY: Matthew Henry (1662-1714), an English Non-conformist minister, preached through the whole Bible, in expository sermons, more than once; and his Exposition of the Bible, though not scientific or critical, is said to be still the most practical, devotional and spiritual of all English commentaries. George Whitefield read it through four times, the last time on his knees. Matthew Henry’s dying language was: “A life spent in the service of God, and communion with him, is the most pleasant life that any one can live in this world.” (Hassell’s History ppg 547, 548)
Patrick HENRY and the Baptists: In colonial times, the state of
In 1775, three Baptist preachers, Lewis Craig, Joseph Craig, and Aaron Bledsoe, were indicted and brought to trial “for preaching the gospel of the Son of God in the Colony of Virginia.” When the prosecutor had ceased, Patrick Henry, residing in a distant county, and present to defend the rights of these poor people, arose and said, “May it please your worships; I think I heard read by the prosecutor as I entered this house, the paper I now hold in my hand. If I have rightly understood, the King’s attorney of this colony has framed an indictment for the purpose of arraigning and punishing by imprisonment three inoffensive persons before the bar of this court for a crime of great magnitude as disturbers of the peace. May it please the court, what did I hear read? Did I hear it distinctly, or was it a mistake of my own? Did I hear an expression as if a crime, and these men whom your worships are about to try for a misdemeanor are charged with what?”—adding in an impressive manner— “for preaching the gospel of the Son of God!”
Then pausing and slowly waving the paper three times over his head, and the interest of the audience being wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement, with an impassioned energy peculiarly his own, and with hands and eyes uplifted to heaven, he exclaimed, “Great God!” Continuing, he said, “May it please your worships; there are periods in the history of man when corruption and depravity have so long debased the human character that man sinks under the weight of the oppressor’s hand, and becomes his servile, his abject slave; he licks the hand that smites him; he bows in passive obedience to the mandates of the despot, and in this state of servility he receives the fetters of perpetual bondage. But, may it please your worships, such a day has passed away! From that period when our fathers left the land of their nativity for settlement in these American wilds for liberty— for civil and religious liberty of conscience—to worship their Creator according to their conceptions of heaven’s revealed will, from the moment they placed foot on the American continent, and in the deeply imbedded forests sought an asylum from persecution and tyranny— from that moment despotism was crushed; her fetters of darkness were broken, and heaven decreed that man should be free—free to worship God according to the Bible. Were it not for this, in vain have been the efforts and sacrifices of the colonists; in vain were all their sufferings and blood shed to subject this new world, if we, their offspring, must still be oppressed and persecuted. But may it please your worships, permit me to inquire once more, for what are these men about to be tried? This paper says, ‘For preaching the gospel of the Son of God.’ Great God! For preaching the gospel of the Savior of Adam’s fallen race.”
And with vehement energy he asked again, “What law have they violated?” It is said the effect of this tornado of truth, passion and eloquence was to cause the prosecutor’s frame to quake and his visage to become pale, and the judge to give the order, “Sheriff, discharge those men!”
Those were times that tried the souls of men. Like their predecessors in the faith, they suffered imprisonment, and indignities, but rejoiced in this their privilege of suffering shame for the name of Christ. No weight is heavy when he helps to sustain it. (Zions Advocate May, 1893)
HERESY: C. H. Cayce: Heresy is a fundamental error in doctrine. There may be an error that is not fundamental. There have been differences on minor points of doctrine among brethren all along, and these differences should be borne with, and we should have forbearance with each other on those minor points. The fundamental principles of the doctrine of God our Saviour are election and predestination; that God made choice of His people in Christ before the world began, and predestinated their salvation and final glorification; that these people are sinners of Adam’s race; the direct, immediate, and effectual operation of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the sinner in the work of regeneration, and that all the elect of God will surely be regenerated in time; the final preservation of all the saints or children of God by grace to glory; that baptism is by immersion, and true believers are the only proper subjects; that the ordinances of the church are to be administered by those who have been called of God and been set apart for the work by a presbytery authorized by the church; that God is eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, the fountain of truth, the embodiment of justice and mercy; that there are three divine Persons in the Godhead (not three Gods, but one God composed of three), the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one; that the Son of God is equal with the Father in all His divine perfections; that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only divinely authorized rule of faith and practice, and are given for the benefit of the Lord’s children. These are some of the main points of the fundamental principles of the doctrine believed by the Primitive Baptists and taught in the Scriptures. A doctrine that contradicts these fundamental principles is heresy.
A heretic is one who persistently advocates a doctrine that is in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of the doctrine of the Lord, some of the points of which are mentioned above. We are commanded to reject a heretic after the first and second admonition. This does not mean to reject him without any admonition. He should be admonished one time, and if he still persists in advocating the heresy, he should be admonished again; then if he persists, he should be rejected. The only way we know of to reject him is to withdraw church fellowship from him. If one advocates a heresy, it is wrong not to admonish him. If it is right to admonish him, as we are taught, then it is wrong not to do so. It may not be a pleasant task, but it is a duty enjoined upon us in God’s word, and should be obeyed, no matter how unpleasant it may seem to be. (Cayce’s Editorials vol. 3, ppg 360, 361)
HEROD The Great:
Sylvester Hassell: During the great civil war
in Rome the fate of Judea, like that of nearly all other nations, hung in
trembling suspense. After the death of Pompey the prudent Antipater rendered
Caesar essential service in his campaign in Egypt in favor of Cleopatra, and
was rewarded with the full rites of Roman citizenship for himself, and (B.C.
47) the appointment of procurator or governor over the whole of Judea; also the
full re-establishment of Hyrcanus in the high priesthood. Antipater, still
further presuming on the favor of
Herod began to develop his natural decision and severity of character. He
arrested robbers and destroyed them without trial, and set at naught the
Upon the death of Caesar, Capias assumed the administration of
Herod was ever dexterous and bold. After the great battle at
“An unexpected enemy arose, to trouble again the peace of
The Parthians plundered the city of
Herod fixed his headquarters at
In the spring of the next year, B.C. 37, he formed the regular siege of
He did more by far for the outward improvement of the cities, towns and
But he was one of the most jealous and vindictive of men in all his private relations, and cruel to the last degree toward all whom he suspected of designs on his crown or disobedience to his authority. He had ten wives and fourteen children. The particulars of his reign might be traced, year by year, down to the period of his death, but they are so revolting, so cruel, and bloodthirsty, that the reader might as well be spared the shocking perusal. Suffice it to say that in addition to the vast number of murders committed by him during a long, unbroken reign of over forty years, may be mentioned that of his beautiful and noble wife Mariamne, her grandfather, father, brother, uncle, and two of her sons, most noble youths, who were his own children, who were educated at Rome, and unsurpassed in promise by any in the land.
All these were accused of treasonable designs toward him, without any foundation in truth. He himself arraigned before Caesar his two sons for trial, and took the lead in person to manage with all imaginable and unnatural hatred. No wonder then that such a monster in human shape should play off his hypocrisy with the wise men of the East, and, so soon as the birth of a “King of the Jews” was announced to him send forth and slay all the children in Bethlehem from two years old and under, in order to include that one who, he supposed, would aspire to his throne.
Neither need we wonder that a king so steeped in human blood, and so fully convinced that the execrations of an outraged people were resting on him, should, in order to make the people mourn, instead of rejoicing at his death, order some of the principal men in every family in the land shut up in prison, so that an executioner should be ready at the announcement of his own death to slay them also.
The innocents were slain in the last year of his life, it is supposed. And
the last public act of his life was to order the execution of his son
Antipater, who was in prison, and who, it was said, had attempted to bribe the
keeper to let him out. He was slain just five days before his father’s
death. Herod for a long time was awfully afflicted both in body and mind; he
was haunted with dreadful forebodings and distressing dreams, and yet nothing
appeared to soften his stony heart or cause him to relent or repent for one
hour. His conscience was seared, and failed to admonish or have any government
over his mind. He lived to be seventy years of age, having been king of
HEZEKIAH: Sylvester Hassell: Hezekiah, the son of wicked Ahaz,
in the royal household, was fully alive to the wickedness of his father’s
course, and mourned in secret with other devout souls over the desolations of
Indeed, the whole course of the priests and the observance of the law appear in every particular to have been reconstructed and established by Hezekiah, and the reformation extended throughout Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh also. The groves were cut down, the high places thrown down, and the images broken in pieces...... Hezekiah was honest and sincere in what he did; his heart entered into the work; and the worship of the true God was beautiful to behold in all quarters of his kingdom.
Not so exactly with all the people; for, in respect to many of them, Isaiah said, wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me,; but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men; therefore will I proceed to do marvelous work among the people, etc...” Isa 29:1-14, etc.)
Hezekiah engaged in successful wars with both the Assyrians and Philistines 2Ki 18:1-16; but Sennacherib invaded his country in the fourteenth year of his reign, and forced him to tribute. Before the arrival of the Assyrian king, Hezekiah was miraculously healed of his sickness by the prophet Isaiah, and assured of the lengthening of his life fifteen years by the going back ten degrees of the shadow on his dial. And he was delivered out of the hand of Sennacherib, the Lord miraculously destroying his army.
These favorable circumstances exalted Hezekiah, and he became vain; they
were a snare unto him. He was thought highly of and honored by the nations
around him. The king of
The prophet Isaiah reproved him for this, and pronounced the judgment of the
captivity against him, his family, and his kingdom. Upon this, “Hezekiah
humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of
HILDEBRAND: Sylvester Hassell: The most arrogant and audacious pope that ever lived (excepting Innocent III. and Boniface VIII.) was Hildebrand, who called himself Gregory VII, and was real master of Rome for thirty-seven years, the lord of five popes, Leo IX., Victor II., Stephen IX., Nicholas II. And Alexander II, (from 1048-1073), and then pope himself (from 1073-1085). He was an imperious, inflexible, cruel, unscrupulous politician, whose one unswerving purpose was to make the Pope of Rome the supreme ruler and arbiter of the human race.
Notwithstanding the example of Peter, and the advise of Paul, and the horrible immoralities of a nominal celibacy, Gregory, in order to bind the clergy absolutely to the pope, decreed that all the priests and Bishops who had wives should put them away, and that the single should not marry; and he inaugurated what is called the Controversy of Investitures, declaring that temporal princes should have no right to appoint to church offices—thus making the clergy wholly free from feudal obligation to their national sovereigns, and responsible to the pope alone (although the clergy were themselves large landed proprietors and civil magistrates).
Henry IV., Emperor of Germany, refused to surrender the right of
investiture, and took under his protection Bishops and councilors who had
offended the pope, and was summoned by the latter to appear at
Papal supremacy being an integral idea of German Christianity, the Saxon princes declared, at a diet in Oppenheim, that, unless the sentence of excommunication were removed in twelve months, Henry should lose his crown. Subdued by the rebellion of his subjects and the course of the pope, the emperor, with his wife and infant child and one faithful attendant, undertook, in the midst of an unusually rigorous winter, the extremely difficult and dangerous passage over the awful precipices and ice-fields of the Alps, and finally presented himself before the Castle of Canossa, in Northern Italy, where the pope was comfortably housed with his devoted adherent, Matilda, the Countess of Tuscany.
On a dreary winter morning, the ground being deeply covered with snow, the emperor was admitted within two of the three walls that girded the castle. Divested of all his royal robes, he was clad only in the thin white linen dress of the penitent, and barefooted and bareheaded, shivering and hungry, he thus humbly awaited for three days (January 25th, 26th, and 27th, 1077) the pleasure of the stern pontiff to admit him to his presence.
The pope at last received him, and granted him absolution only on the condition that Henry would appear at the time and place named by the pope, and answer the charges made against him; if his defense were satisfactory, he should receive his kingdom back from the hands of the pope— otherwise, he was peaceably to resign his kingdom forever. Henry’s humiliation and Gregory’s absolution were both dictated by mere policy. Freed from the church’s curse, Henry quickly won back the strength he had lost. He overthrew in battle the rival (Rodolph) whom Gregory upheld. He swept his rebellious lands with sword and flame.
He carried his victorious army to
Again excommunicated, Henry, twenty years later, vainly sought mercy from his own son, the unnatural champion of the church; vainly asked shelter in a monastery; and died in want and forsaken, deprived even of the empty honor of a royal tomb. Thus the pope was really triumphant at last. (Hassell’s History 429, 430)
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FROM JUDAISM TO CALVINISM
“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:36-38). Before the Lord went away, he told the disciples, “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Joh 16:2).
In that one sentence the Lord recorded in advance much of the history of the church. The experience of his people has been one long trail of blood. At every turn the adversary has used fair means and foul to hinder the gospel. In this little booklet we will look at some of the experiences of the saints. But while we will be as faithful as possible to record that long trail of persecution, we want to be as careful as we can be of the tender feelings of those who read these lines. We have no desire to injure the feelings of any person.
For centuries Christians have chastised the Jews for crucifying the Lord. But when we read the Bible record we discover that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mr 12:37). It was the religious leaders, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and scribes, who saw him as a threat to their wealth and power, and they dogged his every step. “The chief priests and elders [the religious hierarchy] persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas and destroy Jesus” (Mt 27:20). It was at their urging that the multitude cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him.”
By the same token, for centuries Protestants have chastised Roman Catholics for persecuting their ancestors, and there can be no question that during what we call the Dark Ages, and especially during the Protestant Reformation, the Roman Catholic Inquisition did sentence untold numbers of Protestants, Anabaptists and other dissenters to be tortured and killed. While that record is clear, it does not give anyone the right to act as if our own Catholic neighbors were involved in those atrocities. Most of us know Roman Catholics who are as decent, as honest, as God-fearing as any of us. We need to be careful about the way we present the historical record. The Lord pronounces a great woe on those who offend one of his little ones.
One thing we hope to demonstrate in this booklet is that while Protestant writers have been faithful to record the transgressions of the Catholic Inquisition, they have been just as careful to conceal the fact that when the shoe was on the other foot, the Protestants were just as brutal in persecuting those who differed with them. Again, we tremble at the thought of putting the facts on paper. We cannot hold the Protestants of our day responsible for the transgressions of their predecessors. But our people have the right to know the facts.
For over 400 years, Protestant writers have been rewriting their history, and very few Protestants of today have any idea of their own history. In 1554, John Fox published the Latin edition of his Book of Martyrs. He detailed the suffering of his brethren, especially under the reign of Queen Mary. No one can read his material, especially some of his other letters, without being convinced that John Fox was a truly godly man. But, godly man though he was, when he published his English edition in 1563, his loyalty to his friends would not allow him to record their own atrocities against the Baptists, Quakers and others.
In the Peasants’ War, the German peasants had requested such rights as choosing their own pastors, gathering firewood to heat their homes, supplying their tables with fish and game, and being paid for any work they did above what was customary. The German princes refused, and Martin Luther urged them to “stab, kill, and strangle” them. 50,000 peasants (many of them Anabaptists) were butchered at Luther’s urging. Fox recorded Luther’s struggle with the Pope, and especially his objection to the sale of indulgences, but for what he called causes reasonable, he did not tell about Luther’s involvement in the slaughter of the peasants. In his early days, Luther advocated liberty of conscience, but Fox did not record that he later urged that Anabaptists should be pursued to the death, and that he made good on that threat. The Catholics burned Baptists; the Lutherans more often drowned them.
To his credit, Fox does mention John Calvin’s involvement in the
burning of Michael Servetus, but he pretends Calvin was swept along with the
spirit of the time. He does not mention that Calvin had previously threatened
that if Servetus ever came to
Fox died long before the Presbyterians took over Parliament in
When the Puritans came to
Again, we have no desire to injure the tender feelings of those who identify themselves as Calvinists. Many of them are the victims, not the villains, in this matter. They have just not done their homework. They have no use for Arminianism, and they have no taste for much of what, today, passes for the Christian religion. Some of those they see on television look more like religious charlatans than gospel preachers. Then they read brilliant and articulate Calvinistic writers, and it seems like a breath of fresh air. They devour their books, without realizing there is a much better, and more scriptural alternative.
It seems very few of today’s Calvinists have actually studied Calvin as an original source. They usually know him from very carefully—and cautiously—selected quotes by Calvinist writers. I have no doubt that many of those good brethren would recoil with horror at much of what John Calvin actually did and taught.
Our American people have been so free for so long we have forgotten what religious persecution is all about. The First Amendment has been so effective in quelling persecution, we have forgotten how brutal both Catholics and Calvinists were so long as they were able use the law to force conversions.
We hope to show that a person does not have to be an Arminian, nor a Calvinist. There is another system, which for want of a better term, we call Bible doctrine.
From Judaism to Calvinism
The single greatest mistake in church history is the notion there was a fundamental difference between the way the Roman Catholics persecuted Protestants and Baptists, and the way early Protestants (most of whom were Calvinists) persecuted Baptists, Quakers and others. A careful reading of church history clearly shows the Protestants were just as bloodthirsty as the Catholics ever were.
There were three differences between persecution by Catholics and Protestants.
1. First the Protestants never gained such absolute power, for so long, and over so large an area, as the Catholics did. That limited the scope of their power to persecute. It did not limit its severity; but it did limit its scope.
2. Protestants gained just as much satisfaction in burning and hanging Baptists as the Catholics ever did, and they did more than their share of it. But experience taught them they would not suffer as much backlash, if they instead left Baptist preachers to starve for years in cold, filthy jails until they finally died. All the while their families were freezing and starving on the outside. Sometimes, their wives and children joined them in jail, and they all starved together. If anything, the Protestants were more cruel than the Catholics.
3. Protestants have done a much better job of rewriting their
history, and most people are unaware of their atrocities. For instance, when
John Fox wrote his Book of Martyrs. He was very faithful to record the
persecution of Protestants by Catholics, but he was just as careful to conceal
the fact the Protestants were just as vicious with Baptists. For instance, he
faithfully recorded the steadfastness of the Protestants, Cranmer, Latimer, and
Ridley, as they were led to the stake to be burned. He did not record that not
long before that he had personally pleaded with Cranmer not to burn a Baptist,
Joan Boucher, (Joan of
Thomas Crosby (1738) tells us, “These sad instances of persecution practiced by the Protestants in this king’s reign against the Anabaptists are in Fox’s Latin book of martyrs , but left out in his English edition , out of a tender regard, as is supposed, to the reputation of the martyrs in Queen Mary’s day” (vol. 1, pg. 59). Fox published both editions of his book while John Calvin was still living, and, regardless of his tender regard for the reputation of his friends, with that book he began a whitewash, that has continued now for over 400 years.
But how did this conflict with Catholicism come about? How did Baptists come to be so in conflict with Protestantism? The Bible provides clear answers.
You might spend a lifetime studying every piece of religious and philosophical literature available, and regardless of however ancient, or however modern, your material may be, you will discover in all of it the same notions, and the same arguments. New features, new ideas, new eccentricities, are added; but the fundamental principles are always the same. Suffice it to say, the adversary constantly changes his face, but he never changes his ways. No really new religion, no new philosophy, no fundamentally new doctrine, ever comes on the scene. It is always a different version, a modification, a new combination of old doctrines.
The Bible provides all the material you need to answer any false doctrine you will ever face. It will always be some variation of a doctrine that was faced by Christ and the Apostles.
During his public ministry the Lord was constantly harassed by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the scribes—by unbelieving Jews. “The common people heard him gladly” (Mr 12:37), but the Pharisees and other religious leaders laid wait for him, “seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Lu 11:54). They mocked him, ridiculed him, and plotted to kill him. They were not concerned whether what he told was the truth or not; they had no interest in the miracles he performed; they just wanted him dead. Finally they took him through a mock trial, and crucified him.
After his crucifixion, it was still the Jews, and Judaism, that most persecuted the early church. The Gentile authorities did not pay them much attention, but the Jews dogged their every step. No persecution was too harsh, no measure too underhanded. They were determined to wipe the church off the face of the earth, and to sweep the name of Christ from the pages of history.
Then in the year 70 A.D. the Roman authorities besieged the city of
Fifteen hundred years before, when God gave them the Law, he promised them great blessing, if they kept the Law. But he warned them they would suffer if they disobeyed. They had long since ceased to observe the Law, but in spite of the fact they despised the Law, and cast it behind their back, that Law was still in full effect. The Law would exact its penalty. In the twenty-eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, God described in detail what they suffered in 70 A.D. They fell victim to the Law in all its fury. God did exactly what he had promised.
The back of Judaism was broken. The Jews who survived were sold into slavery, and scattered to the four winds. The Jews would themselves become the hunted, the persecuted. God had promised, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from one end of the earth even unto the other ....And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life” (De 28:64,66). In that condition they could no longer harass and bedevil the Christians.
But that brings on a curious question. Virtually every conflict of Christ and the Apostles was in a Jewish context. That is the constant theme, especially, in the book of Acts. Very nearly every attack was from the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes—the Jews. We are well informed of how they suffered at their hands.
Since that is the case, why are the historical parts of the New Testament almost entirely given over to conflict between the early Christians and Judaism? Why are we told so much about the Pharisees and Sadducees? Why prepare us for battles we will never fight?
If we miss that question, there is not much of church history that will make sense. If we get that question right, it is amazing how simple church history becomes.
The book of Acts is not out of date. We need every piece of information it contains. We need that information, because virtually every battle the Church has ever been called on to fight has been with those basic principles that go to make up Judaism. Our battles are not with Judaism itself; we have very little contact with Judaism. But most every conflict has to do with practices that have been borrowed from Judaism. That is the reason the New Testament provides so much material about Judaism. That is the place the major battles have always been fought.
The fiercest battles in the early church were with those who wanted to merge Judaism with the Lord’s church. That is the theme of the book of Galatians, but the material we need is spread throughout the entire New Testament. If the Pharisees could not destroy the church from without, they would subvert it from within. They would make the church like themselves.
In Acts chapter fifteen we read, “And certain men which came down from
Later in the same chapter we read, “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses” (vs. 5). Paul challenged them, “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (vs. 10). Those Pharisees believed, but they did not believe as much as they should. They did not believe the grace of God was sufficient without their keeping the law—without their carrying their traditions over into the church.
This Pharisaism/Judaism sometimes crept in, and swept away whole churches.
Hassell tells us, “The first fifteen Bishops (or pastors) of the
More often than not, it was a mixture of Judaism and heathen philosophy that was brought in. Paul warned us, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col 2:8).
Their greatest success came in the year 180 A.D. In that year Pantaenus, a
“converted heathen philosopher,” founded the Academy at
Hassell tells us, “The last teacher was Didymus, in A.D. 395. The two objects of this Alexandrian school were to prepare people, especially the young, for the church, and to prepare talented young men to preach. The number of students was very great, and it is said that many eloquent preachers were sent out from this school” (pg. 365). He goes on, “Religion was gradually blended with and superceded by philosophy. Judaism and paganism were kindly brought in; and a broad, liberal, eclectic system, adapted to accommodate and reconcile all parties was devised.”
In those seven words we have the key to the perversion of the Christian religion: “Judaism and paganism were kindly brought in.”
The Academy at
With that combination of Judaism, paganism, and some Bible doctrine they put together the framework of what, over the centuries, developed into the Roman Catholic Church. That is exactly what Catholicism is, a combination of those three systems.
In order to understand what the Academy accomplished we need to first know what Pharisaism/Judaism taught. Keep in mind that when we refer to Judaism we are not talking about the Law of Moses. Sometimes even the best of writers talk about those who added the Law of Moses to the gospel, when it was not the Law they added at all; it was Judaism. The two are not the same.
The Law of Moses had long since ceased to be practiced by the Jews when John
the Baptist appeared on the scene. When Paul refers to his own life prior to
Judaism is a parody—almost a mockery—of the Law of Moses. It does teach much that was contained in the Law, but its primary purpose has always been to explain away the Law and set it aside. It is their way of justifying themselves in violating the Law. They replaced the doctrine of God with “the commandments of men.” That is the way the Lord explained it.
“Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt 15:8-9).
To understand something of what happened we need to look at five basic doctrines of Judaism. Those five doctrines are not all that is involved in Judaism, not by any means; but they are five of the most distinctive features of the system. They are the doctrines it is most necessary to understand, if we would understand what Judaism is all about.
But before we get to those five doctrines, we need to look at another of the doctrines of the Pharisees. One of the most fundamental doctrines of the Pharisees, and the doctrine most basic to their entire system, was fatalism. Granted, what one writer affirms, another denies. Every false doctrine is like that; no false doctrine is ever consistent with itself. But most Pharisees were convinced that God predestinated everything that would ever be done by men or devils.
If a person would learn about Judaism, there are any number of books available. Perhaps the best known authors are Flavius Josephus and Alfred Edersheim. There are any number of others, most of them written by devout Jews in defense of Judaism.
The Pharisees’ brand of fatalism was like the Absolutism of our day. Alfred Edersheim records, “But the Pharisees carried their accentuation of the Divine to the verge of fatalism. Even the idea that God had created man with two impulses, the one to good, the other to evil; and that the latter was absolutely necessary for the continuance of this world, would in some measure trace the causation of moral evil to the Divine Being. The absolute and unalterable pre-ordination of every event, to its minutest details, is frequently insisted upon. Adam had been shown all the generations that were to spring from him. Every incident in the history of Israel had been foreordained, and the actors in it—for good or for evil—were only instruments for carrying out the Divine Will” The Life and Times of the Messiah, pg 317.
He goes on, “But there is another aspect of this question also. While the Pharisees thus held the doctrine of absolute preordination, side by side with it they were anxious to insist on man’s freedom of choice, his personal responsibility, and moral obligation....It was, indeed, true that God had created the evil impulse in us; but he had also given the remedy in the Law” ppg 318,319.
This absolutism, this notion that God gave man a law, forced him to break it, and held him responsible for doing what he was forced to do, is only one of the doctrines held in common by the Pharisees, by Augustine, and by John Calvin.
But it is not necessary to go to the bookstores to learn about the nature of Judaism. Much of the New Testament is given over to recording the persecution, and crucifixion, of Christ by the Jews—by the devotees of Judaism. They were the most bitter enemies of the Lord and of his church.
1. First, they had a kind of reverence for the scriptures bordering on superstition. They were sure that was where they got eternal life. The Lord corrected that notion. He told them it was the role of the scriptures to talk about him. “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me” (Joh 6:39).
Their scribes were, like Apollos, mighty in the scriptures (Ac 18:24). They numbered every word and every letter. They bathed themselves before they would sit down to transcribe any part of the text. They would not correct more than the tiniest number of typos in their work. If they made more than the smallest number of mistakes, they did not correct them; they destroyed the work and started over. Of all the charges the Lord made against them, he never once charged them with corrupting the manuscripts.
But with such a superstitious regard for the scriptures, they were still convinced the scriptures by themselves were not enough. They had a huge body of oral traditions which they taught alongside of, and sometimes in opposition to, the Law.
2. Notice that, not only did they raise their traditions to a level with the Bible, they changed whatever they did not like in the scriptures, and taught “for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt 15:9).
One of the commandments is “honor thy father and thy mother.” It is our place to respect and provide for our parents. Their tradition set that commandment aside, and pretended that anything they did for their parents was simply a gift; it was not necessary for them to do it. But the Lord said, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (vss. 3-6).
3. Judaism provided a form of church/state union with the High Priest as the supreme leader. But somebody objects, was that not exactly what God provided under the Law of Moses? No, it was not. Under the Law they did have church/state union—but it was with God at the head. The High Priest was not God. They had long since rejected God as their king. God told Samuel, “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1Sa 8:7).
The church/state union of Judaism was of purely human origin. It began in the period between the Old and New Testaments. Hassell records (pg. 166) that Judas or Aristobulus, the son of John Hyrcanus, was the first to reign as priest-king about 106 B.C. His grandfather was Mattathias, the founder of the Maccabean dynasty. About that time there was much struggle and infighting both between the Jews themselves, and against the Syrians, under Antiochus Epiphanes, and later against the Romans. There were enormous changes going on among the Jews, and it is uncertain whether Aristobulus can be credited with establishing the arrangement.
What is certain is that, under the occupation of the Romans, the High Priest was allowed to exercise a kind of lordship over the people, based on their own laws and traditions, so long as they did not try to overthrow their Roman conquerors, and so long as they did not impose capital punishment. If they wanted anybody executed, they had to deliver them to the Romans (Joh 18:31). Up to that point, church and state were one.
4. God provided circumcision as a covenant with
Circumcision was a seal of righteousness to Abraham only; it was not a seal of righteousness to anybody else. Many of those who were circumcised were not righteous. Some of them were unspeakably wicked. To them it was a sign they were the natural male offspring of Abraham, and as such, they had a right to the natural benefits that belonged to the offspring of Abraham—so long as they obeyed the Law given. It did not guarantee heaven to anybody.
But they began to look to circumcision for salvation. It was circumcision that separated them from all other nations, and they thought that made them superior. They were sure salvation reached as far as circumcision reached. Circumcision gave them a monopoly on God; if you were circumcised, you were safe; otherwise you were doomed.
Paul put an end to that notion. “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgression the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” Rom. 2:-25-29.
5. The fifth point is that they were so sure of their superiority, they thought they had the right to persecute, torture, and kill those whose preaching they counted to be a threat. The Lord said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Joh 16:2).
They were alarmed at the preaching of Stephen, and they arrested him, and brought him before the council. While he preached to the council, “All that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel” (Ac 6:15).
They saw his face; the evidence of God’s presence was clear, but it made no difference with them. The high priest questioned him, and he delivered a sermon that should have brought them to repentance, but when he finished his speech, we read, “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see heaven opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him” (Ac 7:54-58).
Both the attitude of Paul before his
“And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s
feet, whose name was Saul....And Saul was consenting to his death....As for
Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men
and women committed them to prison,” Ac 7:58; 8:1,3). At that time Paul was still called Saul. He
got his first taste of Christian blood that day, and he would never lose his
appetite for Christian blood until his experience on
When he could find no more Christians in
“And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders; from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished” (Ac 22:4-5).
“I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary
to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in
Before the Lord appeared to him, Paul was the hero of the Jews. He was the
rising hope of Judaism. He was so exceedingly mad against the
Christians, he had them arrested, beaten, imprisoned, and whenever
possible— executed. After he began to preach the gospel they treated him
in the same way. Three times they beat him with rods; five times they laid
thirty nine stripes on his back (2Co 11:24-25).
When he went back to
Judaism is a very broad and complex religion, and these five doctrines are
not all they teach, not by any means. We have singled out these five doctrines,
because, more than any others, these are the five principles that were
involved, when, as Hassell tells us, “Judaism and paganism were kindly
brought in” at the
After the Academy at
The Academy worked out the merger between pagan philosophy, Judaism, and their idea of the Christian religion. They educated young ministers and sent them out to propagate their new doctrines. But while Clement, Origen, and the other teachers at the Academy worked out the system, it was left to Augustine to use the political and military power of the Empire in support of the new system, and force it on the people.
Augustine was a born genius. His writings fill several large volumes, and they continue to be republished after 1600 years. There are very few writers who are still being studied after that long a time.
Augustine was as much a philosopher as he was a preacher. Among many other things, he laid the foundation for modern psychology, and his works are still being studied from the point of view of the psychologist. Unlike most psychologists, he started his inquiry with the doctrine of original sin, and human depravity. Not many modern psychologists will acknowledge either one, and that cripples their entire system. With those two principles as a starting point, he was able to produce a profound and wide ranging system of psychology. Much of his Confessions is given over to the subject. He did that 1500 years before Sigmund Freud, but even til this day, very few, if any, psychologists can equal his insight into the human psyche.
He had a vast knowledge of the scriptures. Regardless of the subject under consideration, he always had an array of proof texts he could call into service. Whether the text proved his point or not, he could convince his followers they were on solid Bible ground.
But as well known as his life and legacy are, he remains a mystery. When I was searching for the Lord’s church, I spent considerable time studying his books. I was still a teenager fifty years ago, when I first struggled, line by line, through his Confessions. The book is tattered and yellow with age. It has my little ex libris on the fly leaf. I used to do that when I finished a book. At last count, I had nine of his huge volumes in my library.
His experience and struggles of mind are such reading as will move any God-fearing person to tears. It is not easy to read of his heart-searching struggles of mind without coming to the conclusion this is a heaven born soul.
But he had a darker, much darker, side. He had political skills that would
have made Machiavelli proud. He could manipulate and persuade the emperors of
Sylvester Hassell says, “Augustine’s theory of the right of a State to persecute its citizens to make them conform to a national religion involved the germs of absolute spiritual despotism, and of even the horrors of the Inquisition; but in practice he is said to have urged clemency and humanity upon the magistrates. Sacramentalism and religious persecution are as diverse from predestinarianism as night is from day; and as Augustine held all these three principles, we learn that even God’s regenerated people may be in great darkness on some important points, while they have light on other points still more important—in other words, that we are utterly dependent on the Holy Spirit to open our understandings and hearts, and to enlighten us on all spiritual subjects” (History ppg 406,407).
G.H. Orchard, was not so gentle with Augustine as Elder Hassell. He writes,
“In 412 Cyril was ordained bishop of
“The Catholics found by experience, that the means hitherto used had been ineffectual against the Donatists; they now prevailed on Honorius and Theodosius, emperors of the east and west to issue an edict, decreeing, that the person re-baptizing, and the person re-baptized, should be punished by death. In consequence of this cruel measure martyrdoms ensued.”
“Gibbon remarks on these edicts, that ‘three hundred bishops, with many thousands of the inferior clergy, were torn from their churches, stripped of their ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, proscribed by law, if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of Africa. Their numerous congregations, both in cities and the country, were deprived of the rights of citizens, and the exercise of religious worship. A regular scale of fines, from ten to two hundred pounds of silver, was curiously ascertained according to the distinctions of rank and fortune, to punish the crime of assisting at a schismatic conventicle; and if the fine had been levied five times, without subduing the obstinacy of the offender, his future punishment was referred to the discretion of the imperial court. By these severities, which obtained the warmest approbation of Augustine, great numbers were reconciled to the Catholic Church; but the fanatics (or faithful) who still persevered in their opposition, were provoked to madness and despair.’”
“Augustine owned, the city of
I cannot deny that I have been moved by reading Augustine’s account of his experience, and his spiritual struggles. But then I read of his using his enormous influence to bring about the death of so many innocent people, whose only offense was in worshiping their Maker in ways he did not approve. And I cannot conceive of how any heaven born soul could engage in what was nothing more than calculated, cold-blooded murder. It was judicial murder, but it was murder, nonetheless.
It is far too much that he drove them from their families, from their homes, and from their churches, but for him to have them killed is simply unexplainable. And, keep in mind that, more than any other person, Augustine was the instigator and enforcer of what he calls these penal laws.
After 1600 years, the name of
Somebody tells us that Augustine was simply the product of his times; that it was the practice in that day to torture and kill those who refused to be converted. But that does not explain anything. More than anybody else, he was the man who started the practice.
Had Augustine later expressed remorse over the people who died because of his campaigns, we might reach other conclusions. Even a secular court of law takes remorse into consideration. But the fact that Augustine seems never to have regretted the many innocent people whose death he brought about, and the fact that, from all we can learn of him, he died, totally unrepentant over their deaths, we must forever withhold judgment.
It is, or should be, a source of great relief that it is not our
responsibility to determine the eternal destiny of others. And yet, it leaves
us bewildered how any heaven born soul could behave the way this
“For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son, whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons,” Heb 12:6-8.
All of that brings on the question, what could cause a person like Augustine to behave the way he did? If he did have an experience of grace, what could make him spend his life persecuting the saints? What could prompt him to have them tortured, banished, and killed? It is impossible to imagine anything more contrary to the doctrine of grace.
The answer is found in the doctrine he preached. It does make a difference what you believe, and you can be sure that any time such a brilliant, strong willed, and self important person advocates the doctrine Augustine preached—to the limit the law allows—he will behave the way Augustine did.
Whether you are talking about the Christian religion in
What, then, did Augustine teach? First, he taught much that is clearly true. He taught what would later be called the Five Points of Calvinism. He taught them as John Calvin taught then—not as the Bible taught them—but he taught them nonetheless. He is recognized by Calvinists as the founder of Calvinism. He made the same serious mistakes John Calvin did, and we will get to that later, but he did teach those doctrines.
He was clear on other major doctrines. He taught the creation, and the inspiration of the scriptures. He taught the resurrection of the dead, final judgment, and heaven and hell. On many points he was as clear and as accurate as we could expect anybody to be.
Those doctrines were not what made him the tyrant he became. We already pointed out the Academy merged pagan philosophy, and Judaism with their idea of the Christian religion, and Augustine continued that tradition. That was what made him a tyrant.
1. Judaism claimed the power of the sword to force conformity.
Augustine claimed that power, and he applied to Honorius and Theodosius, the
emperors of the Eastern and
From all we can learn of the Donatists, they taught essentially the same doctrines the Primitive Baptists teach today. They would not recognize infant baptism; they believed baptism should be limited to believers. They refused to recognize the baptism of the Catholic party. (At that time the Catholic party had not entirely coalesced into the Roman Catholic Church as we know it.) If someone came to them from the Catholics, they required them to be baptized. The Catholics said they rebaptized them. The Donatists said they only baptized them; their first baptism was not valid.
One of the reasons they would not recognize Catholic baptism was that many of the Catholic preachers were openly immoral. They insisted wicked preachers could not perform valid baptism. Augustine claimed the wickedness of the preacher did not affect his ability to baptize.
They insisted they were the true church and the Catholic party was not. For these doctrines and others, Augustine pursued them, closed their churches, and claimed their meeting houses for his own party. He had their preachers banished from the land, and if they persisted in returning, he had them executed. It was because of that the Donatists charged him with making martyrs of their preachers.
One thousand years later, John Calvin and the other Reformers would follow precisely in the footsteps of Augustine. They copied more than his doctrine. They copied his bloodthirst for preachers who would not submit to their authority.
When Calvin wrote about Anabaptists, he called them heretics and blasphemers, dogs and filthy dogs, swine and filthy swine. He made no effort to conceal his bitter hatred for them, and to the limit of his ability he dealt with them the same way Augustine had dealt with the Donatists.
Those who think we criticize Calvin and the Reformers unnecessarily should put themselves in the place of the wife of some Anabaptist preacher, who stood by, watching helplessly as her husband was burned alive. She watched in horror as his skin blistered and burned, and his hair caught on fire. Imagine the feelings that must have gone through her as she wondered what would become of her and her little family. Imagine how bewildered she must have been, as she wondered how those Protestant preachers could get such satisfaction in delivering other preachers to be killed.
In order to justify their treatment of Anabaptists, the Reformers made the most outrageous charges against them. They accused them of baptizing people naked, devil worship, conniving at human sacrifice, plurality of wives, plotting to overthrow the government, etc. They used every means available to inflame the masses against them.
Baptists have never seen the need for supplements to the Bible. For that reason they have never adopted confessions of faith in the manner the Reformers have. But in the 1600's and 1700's they put out a spate of confessions.
Those confessions of faith were totally different from the Protestant confessions. They were never intended to be supplements to the Bible, and they were not intended to be standards of doctrine. They were purely a defensive measure. They hoped that by issuing a clear statement of what they believed, and how they worshiped God, they could get the Reformers to stop torturing and killing them. They enjoyed very little success; the Reformers already knew what they believed. It was their existence they resented.
There are those in our day who pretend those Baptists put out their confessions voluntarily, but we have their word for it, they would never have put out a confession if they had not been forced to do so.
In the preface to the second volume of his four volume history, Thomas Crosby tells us, “And the rather, because they declare, ‘they are forced against their whole minds to publish it, for the clearing of their innocency in such things.’” Notice that he quotes them as saying they were “forced against their whole minds to publish it.”
They issued the confession, because their very lives, and the safety of their families, depended on it. They did it in an effort to get the Protestants to stop tormenting them.
Our Calvinist friends will continue to rewrite their own history. They will continue to cover up the cruelty of their founders. But history is too plain to be concealed. Anyone with the will to look at the record can learn the facts. The only difference between persecution by Catholics and persecution by Protestants was in the duration and the scope.
2. Judaism perverted circumcision. They looked to it for salvation, and insisted that salvation only reached so far as circumcision reached. If one was not circumcised he was doomed. Augustine preached that baptism took the place of circumcision. The Law called for babies to be circumcised; therefore babies ought to be baptized. Like Judaism before him, he taught that salvation only reached so far as baptism reached, and he pursued to the death those who refused to submit their babies for baptism.
3. Judaism had church/state union with the High Priest at its head. Both Augustine and Calvin insisted the church should be allied with the state, and the government should have the power to enforce religious decisions. The Westminster Confession (Chap. 23, sec. 3) still claims the right of the civil magistrate to suppress heresy, and to see to it that church ordinances are “duly settled, administered, and observed,” in other words to prosecute those who will not submit to their authority. It is only the First Amendment to the Constitution that prevents them.
4. Judaism called on the scriptures for their authority, but they had
their huge body of tradition as supplements to the scriptures. Augustine
claimed the authority of Confessions of Faith, and decisions of Councils as
supplements to the scriptures. Especially with his notion of the union of
church and state, he called on the decrees of the magistrate as authority. One
thousand years later, Calvinists would prepare such documents as the
5. Judaism changed what they did not like about the Law. Augustine claimed the same right. He substituted the baptism of babies for the baptism of believers. Calvin would later claim the right to change sprinkling for immersion where immersion was not convenient, because of weather, etc.
Augustine and the Catholic party finally prevailed, but it was only after they had closed literally thousands of Donatist churches, killed many of their preachers, and confiscated their meeting houses.
We already quoted Sylvester Hassell to the effect that, “Augustine’s theory of the right of a State to persecute its citizens to make them conform to a national religion involved the germs of absolute spiritual despotism, and of even the horrors of the Inquisition.”
The pattern laid down by Augustine in his campaign against the Donatists set the pattern for the Roman Catholic Church for more than a thousand years. Literally rivers of blood were shed by those who thought they had the right to persecute and kill those who would not submit to their authority. Augustine was long since dead when the Roman Catholic Inquisition was doing its torture and killing, but he was the man who laid the groundwork.
The Inquisition was a court system set up by the Catholic authorities to try those whom they deemed to be heretics. Those who refused to deny their faith were tortured and killed in the most diabolical ways. They were burned at the stake. They were put on the rack, and their bones were pulled out of joint. They were tied up in sacks with scorpions. They were scalded with boiling oil. Human ingenuity exhausted itself in devising new ways of torture.
That persecution reached its height in what has come to be called the
Spanish Inquisition. Thomas Torquemada was at its head. Under his leadership
there was a constant parade of innocent victims led to the stake and burned
alive. Their only offence was in worshiping God in a manner not approved by the
Roman Catholic authorities. He did his job so well that today, over four
hundred years later,
Our Calvinist historians have been faithful to relate the huge numbers of their own people who were killed during the Roman Catholic Inquisition. But they have been as silent as the tomb about literally thousands of innocent, God-fearing preachers who were torn from their homes, from their families, from their churches, and finally banished from the land—by this first and most illustrious Calvinist preacher.
For almost 400 years now, the Protestants have been grinding out their books, rewriting their history. They have kept us well informed about the suffering they experienced at the hands of the Roman Catholic authorities during what has come to be known as the Inquisition. What they have been very careful not to mention is that when the Calvinists were in authority, they were just as bloodthirsty as the Inquisitors ever were.
The main difference was that the Roman Catholics persecuted Protestants and Baptists, while the Protestants and Catholics both persecuted the Baptists. That was the one thing they could agree on. They were both determined the Baptists must not survive.
We have already pointed out that Calvinism did not begin with John Calvin. Calvin simply resurrected the ideas put forth over a thousand years before by Augustine. That fact becomes obvious to anyone reading Calvin’s huge work, The Institutes of the Christian Religion. If you will go through the two volumes underscoring his various quotes (underscore the name of the source only), you will notice, first, that except for a few quotes from pagan philosophers, his quotes are always from Roman Catholic authorities. You will also notice that he quotes Augustine twice as often as he quotes all the other Catholic authorities put together.
The Reformers never intended to forsake the Catholic religion; they intended to live and die as good Catholics. They just did not intend to be Roman Catholics. They would not be subject to the Pope of Rome. Calvin and the other Reformers hoped to bring about a reformation, to produce a new form, of the Catholic religion. That is why it is called the Protestant Reformation (literally the re-form-ation). Calvin wanted to restore the Catholic religion to what it had been in the time of Augustine. In that he was totally successful. The Presbyterian Church of Calvin’s day was precisely what the Catholic Church had been in Augustine’s day.
In this little booklet we have only taken the briefest look at those
doctrines both Catholicism and Calvinism borrowed from Judaism. There are
several doctrines on which Calvinists and Catholics disagreed. The Reformers
dropped auricular confession, selling indulgences, and penance. They did not
carry over the doctrine of purgatory, or limbo, or transubstantiation, or papal
infallibility. But even though they did not claim infallibility, anybody who
refused to subscribe to Calvin’s confession was forbidden to live in
There were several points on which the Reformers disagreed with
There is much more that needs to be said about Calvinism, and I am preparing a book of about 200 to 250 pages in which we will take a longer look at the system. The book is almost complete, and we expect to send it to the printer by January 31st.
In that book, among other things, we will notice that John Calvin did not himself fully believe the Five Points. He believed in Unconditional Election, but, inconsistent though it was, we will show that he preached Universal Atonement.
The Synod of Dort and the Westminster Confession taught that man’s depravity is the source of his sin, and man only sins when God permits him to sin. In the book we will show by direct quotes from Calvin that he laughed at the notion of God only permitting sin. He taught that when men sin, it is because God holds the helm, and directs their efforts. He insisted they sin because God bends them to execute his judgments. He went so far as to say that God “forces the reprobate to do him service.” None of the great Protestant Confessions would go with Calvin so far as to say God forces sinners to sin.
We will show that even though the Five Points, as they were preached by John Calvin, resemble five points of the doctrine of salvation by grace, it is only a resemblance. John Calvin was seriously at odds with Bible doctrine on every single one of those doctrines.
We will show that the Baptists in
We must be very cautious and very reverent when we talk about those brave warriors. For that matter, we should be very careful about criticizing those brave men who put out the London Confession and other confessions of that time.
We are walking on sacred ground. None of us have spent years starving and freezing in a filthy jail for the things we preach. None of us have worried about how our wives and little ones were suffering while we were languishing in jail. None of us have seen our husbands beaten and hanged.
But while we bow our heads with tears in our eyes when we consider the faithfulness of those brave warriors, we still need to be aware that for all their faithfulness, they made just as serious mistakes as the Baptists in any age have.
For one thing, at the same time they were planting Baptist churches, many of
the Baptists of that day, especially around
The point is that, regardless of how brave, and how self sacrificing those men were, the very last place you should go to look for Baptist infallibility is among preachers who serve as Baptist pastors at the same time the serve as pastors of Protestant churches. And, that being the case, we should not be surprised that they incorporate some Protestant doctrine in any confession they put forth. There were a lot of subjects they had not made up their minds about. The purpose of the gospel was one of them.
We will show that when the Puritans (Calvinists all) came to
They persecuted Baptists in that manner until the First Amendment took away
their power to do so. We will show that, while the First Amendment denied the
federal government the power to regulate religion, it did not take that power
from the states, and it was another fifty years before, in 1841, the Puritans
During that intervening 50 years, they still taxed the general population to pay their own preachers. They continued to seize the property of Baptists and claim it for their own. Isaac Backus was a well known Baptist preacher. His aged mother refused to pay her tax to support the establishment preacher. She was sick and burning with a fever, when the authorities arrested her on a cold, rainy, winter night, and carted her off to jail.
We will show that, even when Baptists began to gain some relief from paying
to support Establishment preachers, they still had to prove they were
supporting their own denomination and their own preachers. One statute required
them to produce endorsement from five churches, and they had to prove the
orthodoxy of those churches. It was against that backdrop they were virtually
forced to adopt the
We will show that when the Separate and Regular Baptists came together in 1787, they did it on the basis of the London Confession. But they adopted the confession with the understanding that nobody was required to believe all of it. That was the result of a compromise with Arminians in their own ranks. Again, any collection of Arminians and predestinarians is not a good place to look for Baptist infallibility.
We will show that John Leland compared those who placed too much confidence in any confession with those Catholics who place too much confidence in the virgin Mary.
The First Amendment makes the former kind of persecution more difficult, but
it does not entirely prevent it. Even now there is a strong movement in
We will look at the effect the recent Supreme Court decision with regard to Eminent Domain will have on religion. City governments can now seize private property and award it to private developers. If they choose to do so, there is nothing to prevent those developers from then selling a portion of that property to any church with sufficient funds to meet building codes and zoning restrictions.
For a long time Disney Corporation has been no friend to the Christian religion. They aggressively support gay rights; and they lace their children’s films with pagan themes, and sexual innuendo. For the last 9 years they have been boycotted by American Family Association.
But according to World magazine (Dec. 15, 2005), “Al Weiss, a
top-ranking Disney executive, is planting churches— doctrinally sound
ones, and lots of them. As chairman of the board for newly formed Vision
Thanks to the Supreme Court, they can again take your church building and transfer ownership to another church. Only today it takes three or four steps to do what once only required one or two steps.
Lest we might be too reassured by the promise that those new churches will
be doctrinally sound, we should read the rest of the article. We are
told the organization has teamed up with “a former youth pastor at John
Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist church” and “Though affiliated with
the Baptist General Conference (BGC), Vision
It sounds for all the world like we are being led right back to the very practices the First Amendment put a stop to.
The government would never try to tax people to pay the salaries of denominational preachers. But there are those who are even now trying to find a way for the government to fund what they call faith based initiatives. That will free up those churches’ other funds to pay their preachers. The bottom line is still the same.
Our liberties are under attack. For over 200 years Americans have been
properly proud of our freedom of speech, but Congress has a bill in
conference that would make it a hate crime to criticize homosexuality. If
that bill becomes law, any minister can be arrested and prosecuted for saying
homosexuality is sinful. It is already happening in
And if the courts decide the pastor was speaking as an agent of the church, it is a short step to arguing that any homosexual can sue the members of that church for civil damages. There is more than one way to take away our meeting houses, our homes, our property.
Someone has said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” I believe that is right. Someone else has said, “Forewarned is forearmed.” We hope to have the book ready to distribute by April. I believe the need is urgent, and it is our goal to provide a free copy for every preacher who will return a request card.
We request your prayers and any assistance you may feel impressed to provide for what I believe is a necessary effort.
The ENGLISH BAPTISTS
CONFESSIONS OF FAITH
Baptists have never been fond of creeds, declarations of synods, and confessions of faith. They have always believed, “The Bible is the Word of God and the only rule of faith and practice.” Our articles of faith say that.
We read passages such as Re 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” We understand that to mean the Bible is all we need. We do not need man-made creeds and confessions of faith to supplement it, or back it up. The Bible can stand on its own.
And yet, in the 1600's, the Baptists in
We are often told, “The London Confession represents what Baptists
have always believed. Any departure from that standard is a departure
from Baptist doctrine.” But is that true? Did that document represent
what all Baptists in
Generally, when people talk about the London Confession, they mean the Second London Confession of 1689. But why the second confession; why not the First London Confession of 1644? They are not the same. If it is a departure from the faith not to venerate the Second London Confession, why was it not a departure for them to discard the First London Confession?
Or why either London Confession; why not the confession of 1611? You say that was a General Baptist confession. You are right; it was, but what about the Midland Confession of 1655, or the Somerset Confession of 1656? Those were Particular Baptist Confessions, and they were different from the London Confession of 1689.
There were two kinds of Baptists putting out confessions at that time. They were the Arminian General Baptists and the Calvinistic Particular Baptists. The Generals began in 1608, and the Particulars began in 1633. They had both grown out of the Protestant Independents, and they insisted they were good Protestants. The Independents had earlier broken with the Church of England, who had themselves broken from the Roman Catholic Church. In the preface to the Second London Confession the Particular Baptists stated their purpose to be (1) to demonstrate their devotion to that wholesome Protestant doctrine, and (2) to demonstrate that they were as good Protestants as the Presbyterians, the Independents, or the Church of England.
And there were the old-order Anabaptists, who had been in
The Protestants made the most scurrilous charges against the Anabaptists. Without first investigating the matter, the Generals and Particulars accepted those charges at face value, and repeated them. They bristled at being called Anabaptists.
On the other hand, the old-order Anabaptists were always suspicious of the new reformed Baptists, who had so recently broken with the Protestants. They thought they had not been sufficiently reformed—they brought too many Protestant corruptions with them. When they talked about the new reformed Baptists, they sound, for all the world, like Primitive Baptists of this day talking about New-School Baptists. Persecution forced all three kinds of Baptists into the same camp, and to the best of their ability they worked together, but they were never entirely agreed. It was not possible the Generals and Particulars would ever agree with each other, or with the old-order Anabaptists.
The Particulars put out the two
But I am told the English Baptists were more in agreement in the 1600's than we are today. Where did anybody get that idea? When was the entire Baptist family ever in agreement? They were not entirely in agreement in the apostle’s day. Why do you think Paul wrote all those epistles? Sometimes he dealt with false doctrine; sometimes he dealt with false practice. In most of them, he called on them to change their ways. If the Baptists were not fully in agreement in the apostles’ day, and we are not entirely in agreement in this day, why should we believe they were in agreement in the 1600's?
If the Baptists were going to put out a confession of faith, how did it happen that they adopted a Presbyterian confession? The London Confession of 1689 is simply the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of 1646 with a few critical changes to make it acceptable to Baptists. The preface to the confession states that they concluded to “retain the same order,” “without any variation in the terms,” and to use “the very same words,” as the Westminster Confession. Why would they do that? Why did they not come up with a distinctly Baptist confession?
Someone has ventured to say they had been persecuted for so long they compromised their principles in order to gain relief. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
You may differ with the wording of the London Confession. You may insist that on some points it does not square with the plain teaching of the Bible. You may insist that it is more Protestant than Baptist, but no person who has spent any amount of time studying the conditions that gave rise to the London Confession could, even for a moment, imagine those men compromised their principles.
A careful study of the lives and experience of the men who adopted that confession proves beyond all question that no more noble, no more godly, no more faithful, group of men ever lived.
The Roman Catholic Church in
The General Baptists came along in 1608, and the first Particular Baptist
church was formed in 1633. From that time until William of Orange came to the
throne in 1689, the Baptists suffered as brutal treatment in
They no longer burned them at the stake, but they would arrest preachers, take them through a farce of a trial, and lock them up to starve and freeze in filthy jails, while their families starved and froze at home. Often, in order to have a roof over their heads, their wives and children would join them in jail, and they would freeze and starve together. The principle was out of sight, out of mind. The spectacle of a public burning, and the sympathy it provoked, were avoided. The preacher was prevented from doing his work, and those who were connected with him were sufficiently warned.
Thomas Delaune and his wife, and both their children, starved and finally died in prison. He was one of literally thousands who suffered in just that way. These were men who could have gained their freedom— if they would only agree to compromise their principles. They refused, and, by the thousands, they died for it.
John Bunyon spent twelve years in
Sometimes, with the approval of the authorities, the mob would storm into churches, drag the preacher out of the pulpit, and with swords and clubs waving, they would beat the congregation mercilessly, even women “great with child.” They would lead the preacher off to the judge, who would threaten to see to it the preacher was hanged, and impose a large fine. But, if they let him go, he would often be found preaching in the same pulpit that night, only to have the same thing happen all over again.
Parliament imposed a scale of fines and penalties on dissenting preachers and their hearers, with a lesser fine for the first penalty, a greater fine for the second, and an even greater fine for the third offense. There were different fines for the preacher, and the hearers, and the owners of the property where they met.
One third of the fine went to the informer who turned them in. An entire industry of informers resulted, with some of the most depraved and unprincipled individuals becoming wealthy on the proceeds of auctions held to raise money to pay the fines. The bishops and Establishment preachers would often attend the auctions to pick up bargains from the misery of their victims.
With informers constantly on the prowl, they would often meet in the woods, sometimes before daylight, or late in the night. They would make a point of waiting till near the time of service before they announced the place, and they would assemble and disperse from different directions. They would have guards posted to sound the alarm, if they heard somebody coming. One poor boy tried to sound the alarm, but his leather britches were frozen to the ground. By the time he broke loose, it was too late.
They no longer burnt preachers at the stake, but they did hang, draw and quarter them. Drawing and quartering meant that after they hanged him, they would cut his body in four parts (quarters), drag it through the town, and put the body parts on display. They would often chop off his head, mount it on a pike, and display it in front of his church.
John James was one of the preachers hanged, drawn, and quartered.” After he was hanged, his body was butchered like an animal, and dragged through town on a sled, to be displayed on the city gates, and his head was placed on a pole across from his church. It is impossible to imagine the feelings of his little church to see their pastor’s head so abused. Ivimy gives the account. “His quarters were taken back to Newgate, on the sledge which carried him to the gallows and were afterwards placed on the city gates, and his head was set upon a pole opposite the meeting-house.” (Ivimy’s History, vol. 1, ppg. 227).
They would often strip a family of everything they had in the world, and leave them penniless and homeless. They were just as vicious with those who assisted them in their distress. One man was fined, because he shed a tear, when he saw a Baptist preacher beaten almost to death with a whip.
On numerous occasions, when an entire community had become Baptists, they would devastate the entire community. The authorities would strip them of their personal property, their little cash, and the very tools of their trade. They were often left destitute without the means to earn a livelihood.
No one who has studied the available material could imagine those men compromised under pressure.
We are treading on sacred ground, and however much we may differ with some expressions in the London Confession, it behooves us to be very careful about criticizing those who adopted it. Those Particular Baptists who adopted the London Confession were as honest, as determined, and as faithful as anyone who ever graced the earth. If they signed their names to it, you can be sure they believed what they signed.
In spite of their resistance to confessions of faith, early in the 1600's, the Baptists did begin to draw up confessions. They intended for those confessions to act as a defense mechanism against the heinous accusations that were being leveled against them. They were put forth to deal with a serious present need, and for that reason, if for no other, we should not be overly harsh with them for doing so. We must keep it always in mind that those confessions were never meant to be official standards or supplements to the Bible. The Protestants make that claim for their confessions; the Baptists do not.
The General Baptist John Smyth put out his confession in 1611. It set the tone for the Baptist confessions that were to follow. The preface states that “they are forced against their whole minds to publish it, for the clearing of their innocency in such things.” (Crosby’s History, vol. 2, pg. a2 preface). Notice that he says they were forced to do it; the danger of the times demanded it.
No one living today has suffered the way they did. None of us have known the anguish of freezing and starving in a filthy jail, knowing that our wives and tiny children are freezing and starving at home—if they even have a home. We cannot imagine how it must have torn the heart out of a poor Baptist preacher to know it was his preaching that was bringing misery on those who were so dear to him. So if those good brethren sometimes used poor judgment, it still behooves us that we be very careful how we talk about them.
The Particular Baptists put out their first confession in 1644. They were never entirely satisfied with it, but they kept fine tuning it, and they issued new editions in 1645, 1646, 1651, 1652, and 1653. Their confessions were a benefit in that they helped to clear up many of the slanderous charges being made against them. Those outside the Baptist ranks were surprised they did not contain the wild notions that had been charged against them. Some were so surprised, they denied that they was a true representation of what Baptists believed, but acting on the confession, on March 4, 1647, Parliament gave a favorable response, and granted legal toleration to the Baptists.
That confessions would continue to be in use for awhile, but by the time the Second London Confession was first adopted in 1677, copies of that first London Confession were almost impossible to find, and very few Baptists knew anything about it. By his own admission, Benjamin Keach, who signed the Second London Confession, had never heard of it. It seems that if they had intended for the confession to be a standard of orthodoxy, their leaders would, at least, have been aware of its existence.
Keach actually began his ministry as an Arminian General Baptist, and was
well received by them. Few men had more impact on the English Baptists of his
day than he did. He was still a General Baptist when he was put in the pillory,
and pelted with rotten fruit and bad eggs, while his books were burned before
his face. He was converted to Calvinism by Hansard Knollys and William Kiffin
after persecution forced him to move to
Even after he converted, he never ceased to be in sympathy with the Arminian General Baptists, and believed the two groups should be able to minimize their Arminian/Calvinist differences and come together as one people.
The General Baptists followed with their Orthodox Creed in 1678. The influence of Keach is obvious. The title they adopted for the confession was: An Orthodox Creed or a protestant confession of faith; being an essay to unite and confirm all true protestants. Notice that their intention was to unite and confirm all true Protestants. Both the Generals and the Particulars thought of the Baptists as another kind of Protestants, and they wanted to unite the Baptists under the Protestant banner.
In spite of the denying Arminianism expression in the preface to the Second London Confession, with so many Arminians among the Particulars, and so many Calvinists among the Generals, it is obvious that many of their leaders did not consider the Arminian/Calvinist difference as a great obstacle to union.
The Generals and Particulars put out a steady stream of confessions for well over a hundred years. They could never come up with a confession they could agree on.
No sooner would one confession be advanced, than another group of churches would adopt a different confession. They would generally avow their agreement with the former confession, but they did not agree enough to allow it to stand without putting forth their own alternative.
There was John Smyth’s General Baptist Confession in 1609, and Thomas Helwysse’s General Baptist Confession in 1611, and the Particular Baptists’ First London Confession first put out 1644, and revised in 1645, 1646, 1651, 1652, and 1653, and the Midland Confession in 1655, and the Somerset Confession of 1656, and the Standard Confession in 1660, and the Orthodox Confession in 1678, and the Second London Confession put out by the Particular Baptists in 1677, 1678, 1688, and 1689, and Keach’s Goat Yard Confession in 1697, and John Gill’s Goat Yard Confession in 1729. None of them were entirely right, and none of them were entirely wrong, and none of them entirely agreed with any of the others.
With so many confessions being tried and rejected, it is hard to imagine that any of them were divinely inspired. With so many efforts made, if God was the author of any of them, you would think they would have found one confession they could live with.
What the Particular Baptists finally did was to adopt the Presbyterian Westminster Confession, make such strategic changes as were necessary to make it acceptable to Baptists, and adopt it as their own. They were more successful with that modified Presbyterian confession than they had been with any of their Baptist confessions. There were any number of reasons for that.
For one thing, the Westminster Confession had a distinct air of authority about it. It had been drafted by the Westminster Assembly which was, without question, the most august assembly of Protestant Bible scholars ever assembled at any one time and place. With both the Generals and the Particulars protesting so loudly that they were simply another kind of Protestants, they could not help but be impressed by the Westminster Confession.
It was hard for the Presbyterians to object to the new Baptist confession, seeing that, except for a few subjects such as baptism, church government, and submission to the secular authorities, it was an almost verbatim copy of their own.
The Baptists were very explicit in pointing out that they had simply copied the Westminster Confession. In their preface they point out that they “retained the same order,” that they used “words concurrent with the former,” “Without any variation in the terms,” that they used “the very same words,” and that their “faith and doctrine is the same with theirs.”
Even that might have been a benefit, if they had changed somewhat more than they did. As it happened, they retained far more than they rejected, and most of the problems that have afflicted the Baptists from that day til this are traceable to notions the Baptists copied from the Presbyterian Westminster Confession.
Even though the Second London Confession was more widely accepted than others had been, it fell far short of universal acceptance. The people in that day had less confidence in it than many in later generations have had.
Those who today place such great value on the London Confession seem not to realize how vigorously it was resisted, and how little it was appreciated in its own day. Until John Gill appeared on the scene, Benjamin Keach towered above the Baptists of that entire century. He was one of the most prolific Baptist writers of any age. John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress has endured in a way which no other human production ever has; but in their own day, Keach’s War With the Devil was fully as successful as Pilgrim’s Progress. His contemporaries predicted that War With the Devil would still be reprinted until the end of time. It did continue to be republished for over one hundred years.
Keach was one of the main forces behind the Second London Confession, but
after only eight years even he rejected the confession. Benjamin Keach became
pastor of the
John Gill was called as the pastor of the same
There are those, today, who are so totally unaware of the confusing array of confessions produced at that time, that they seem to imagine the Baptists received the Second London Confession as some kind of oracular pronouncement. But even though many of the greatest leaders of that day rejected the London Confession, it persisted, and today, it is the only Baptist confession most people know anything about.
That Second London Confession owes most of its success to its similarity to the Westminster Confession. Pedobaptists though they were, those who made up the Westminster Assembly were some of the most brilliant scholars ever gathered in one place. They were master wordsmiths, and they knew how to present their points of view. There was more sophistry than sagacity in many of their arguments; but they were fully in command of the language, and they always had a proof text they could apply, rightly or wrongly, to their arguments.
More than that, the Generals and Particulars of that day are not alone in
arguing that Baptists are just another kind of Protestants. There have always
been those like
God has given us the Bible as our one rule of faith and practice. We do not need any supplements to the Bible, any secondary authorities. But for some, the Bible has never been enough. Other people have their creeds, and confessions of faith, and there will always be those who want whatever others have. It is ironic that those whose favorite motto is sola scriptura (scripture only) are the most determined not to settle for the Bible as their only rule of faith and practice.
Not only did the London Confession not succeed in uniting the Baptists of that day. The next thirty years (1689 til 1719) saw some of the fiercest infighting the Baptists have ever known.
Keach’s Goat Yard Confession of 1697 denied that baptism and the Lord’s Supper were the only ordinances of the Lord’s church. Keach was sure hymn singing, and laying on of hands after baptism were also church ordinances. If a person was not willing to have hands laid on him after baptism, he could not be a member of Keach’s church. That was a hobby of his during his entire ministry.
History has been kind to Keach, but his own people were not so gentle. With
his domineering personality and fiery temper, he saw to it those principles
were included in his new confession. The aged Hansard Knollys sided with Keach
against William Kiffin and Isaac Marlow. Keach, Kiffin, and Knollys all signed
the Confession, but the ink was hardly dry on the confession before those three
giants were engaged in an unholy war. No doubt, personalities became involved,
and neither side would budge. The battle became so hot it tore Keach’s
Benjamin Keach was himself one source of the heterodoxy of the time. Not only was he willing divide churches over the question of whether hymn singing, and laying on of hands were church ordinances, his sacramental views regarding baptism and the Lord’s Supper were closer to the Presbyterian than they were to the Baptist view. In his Types and Metaphors, pg. 639, he says, “There is a mystical conveyance or communication of all Christ’s blessed merits to our souls through faith held forth thereby, and in glorious manner received, in the right participation of it.” Baptists have always believed the Lord’s Supper is a figure of what Christ did for us. The bread and wine are emblems. We do not believe they actually convey “Christ’s blessed merits to our souls.” They are symbols of God’s grace; they are not means of grace. Keach was a long way from Baptist doctrine on that point.
Another problem that vexed the Baptists during the thirty years after the
adoption of the London Confession was the usurping of church authority by the coffee-house
fraternals. In his zeal to unite the Arminian General Baptists and the
Calvinistic Particular Baptists, Keach and his colleagues organized groups of
preachers called fraternals which met at coffee-houses in
George Ella records, “The difficulties found in adopting a common
creed prevented the Particular Baptist church and their General Baptist
brethren from enjoying true fellowship with one another, but a number of
pastors believed that if they could only persuade their fellow office-bearers
from the various Baptist churches to meet in fellowship, eventually some form
of church unity could be worked out. The venue chosen for these
minister’s fraternals of clubs, sometimes meeting within the
denomination, sometimes together, were not the Baptist chapels, but the many
coffee-houses springing up at the time in
So, the two goals of these fraternals were (1) to unite the Arminian General and the Calvinistic Particular Baptists, and (2) to regulate the churches. They were self-perpetuating; they determined who could belong to their number. They operated outside the churches, and exerted authority over the churches. They decided grievances within churches, and between churches. They decided who could be ordained, and they provided the presbytery. They provided the Baptists with a functioning hierarchy.
The Baptists had complained bitterly against the Anglican episcopacy, but there is no discernible difference between the Anglican episcopacy and these Baptist coffee-house fraternals. Unscriptural though they were, they exercised authority over the Baptist churches until John Gill brought them to their knees in 1720.
Not only were the next thirty years after 1689 a time of vicious infighting among the Baptists, it was a time of serious doctrinal departure. According to George Ella, “John Gale, the pastor at Paul’s Alley....was considered by many Baptists as the theologian of the movement, chiefly because of his writings on baptism.” (Ella. pg 67). Til this day, Gale is quoted as the Baptist authority from that age on the subject of baptism. But in spite of the fact that Gale is still thought of a Baptist authority, Ella goes on to point out that, “Gale, besides rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity, rejected almost all Reformed doctrines, including justification by faith. Soon Gale, like his co-pastor Burroughs and successor Foster, became an out and out Socinian who preached mere rational and humanistic moralism.” (Ella, pg 68). Such skepticism and unbelief were rampant among the upper echelon of the Particular and General Baptists of that age.
Matthew Caffyn was another leading Baptist preacher of that day who questioned the doctrine of the Trinity. Eventually, largely through his influence, almost the entire body of General Baptists went off into Unitarianism.
With such men as John Gale, and Matthew Caffyn exerting influence over them, it is questionable whether the English Baptists would have withstood the storm, if it had not been for John Gill, and his stalwart stand for the doctrine. Gill’s contemporary, John Ryland “was convinced that God had specially chosen Gill to lead the Particular Baptists out of oblivion and doctrinal disunity” “He goes on to say, ‘Much of the credit for this unswerving allegiance to the doctrine of scripture, under God, must be attributed to John Gill, known affectionately as Dr. Voluminous.” (Ella, pg. 20).
There are any number of points on which most Baptists of today would disagree with Gill. Not many pre-millenialists, would accept Gill’s views on the millenium. Early in his ministry he believed the gospel was a means in regeneration. He later changed his mind about that. He was as fallible as any other mortal, and he changed his mind from time to time, but he did what the London Confession was totally unable to do. He did more to stabilize the English Baptists than any other man of his day.
Persecution had driven the three kinds of Baptists into the same camp, but persecution largely ended with the coronation of William of Orange, and the Act of Toleration in 1689. By that time they were not so much divided up into General, Particular, and old-order Anabaptist churches, as there were three mindsets intertwined in the same churches. Beginning in 1689, the three kinds of Baptists were free to worship openly, and to openly make war on each other.
Gill was called as pastor of the
The Baptists have never been infallible. They were certainly not infallible in 1689. The most ironic thing about the entire conflict over the London Confession is that so many people look to one of the most confused, and unstable, periods in Baptist history for a standard of Baptist orthodoxy.
For all its faults, the London Confession is a grand old monument, and for those who do not examine it too closely it has an air of respectability. After all, it has been around for over three hundred years.
Any number of efforts have been made to rehabilitate it. In 1787, the
Separate and Regular Baptists in
Their effort did not work. In 1787, the Separates and Regulars did come
together; but, beginning in 1792, they again separated, this time as
They had chosen the wrong foundation, and the merger would not hold. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus,” 1Co 3:11. Christ revealed in his word is the only sure foundation; no confession of faith is an acceptable substitute.
Again, in 1900, the Primitive Baptists were about to split three ways. A
large and representative body of capable Primitive Baptist preachers came
Like the Regulars and Separates one hundred years before, they tried to use the London Confession as a rallying point. They reaffirmed what they could accept; they explained away what they could not accept; and they looked aside, and walked past what they could not explain away.
They did everything that could be done to rehabilitate a fundamentally flawed document—and they failed. They had hardly done their work before the Primitive Baptists split into Absoluters, Progressives, and Old-Liners.
The elders who assembled at
In the light of all the efforts that have been made over the last three hundred years to establish, or rehabilitate, the London Confession, we need to acknowledge once and for all that, “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, and the only rule of faith and practice.”
The Bible is enough; we need no other standard.
THE SIXTEEN ANCESTORS
OF ALL MANKIND
The Bible is God’s ultimate revelation to his children. It tells us everything we need to know and do religiously. It is the final revelation in every controversy with regard to the true religion.
But the Bible is all of that and more. Among many other things the Bible is the ultimate history of the human race. It lays down firm, and clear, and unmistakable landmarks against which all other history must be tested. It has been said that history is a system of agreed upon myths, and legends, and there is some truth in that, at least, as regards any history written by men. Human history is not the ultimate judge. Historians deal with the information available to them, and if that information is faulty, their conclusions are bound to be faulty.
But, even those records run out, if we follow history back far enough. In the fifth century B.C. a Greek historian by the name of Herodotus took on the task of writing the history of the world up to his time. He wrote a huge nine volume history which has been recognized as an authority since that day. He earned himself the name of the Father of History. Since the time of Herodotus we have had a reasonably accurate history, but prior to his day, the history of the world is a vast wasteland of fabulous myths and legends. There is not much real agreement among historians about specific details and events which took place before his day. Gener-ation after generation handed down a system of legends, which were always slanted in favor of whichever nation was preserving the story. For that matter, not even Herodotus believed everything he wrote. He admitted that he included quite a few accounts simply because they made a better story.
For the last two hundred years or so, archaeologists have provided us with
glimpses into the far distant past. Some of their findings can be very
enlightening, and we would not deny the great benefit of their work.
Especially, they have produced a wealth of information about the great empires
All that stands in stark contrast to the record God has left us in the Bible. The Bible stands out as unique in all of history. The archaeologist looks at his little collection of artifacts, and guesses. The student of ancient history reads his prehistoric myth, and wonders which part of it is true, or if, indeed, any part of it can be believed.
The Bible is different. The Bible goes back, not to the dawn of history, but to the very morning of time itself. It gives the exact names of particular individuals and specific details of their lives. It traces family trees. It traces connections and relationships that are still profoundly affecting world events to this very day. Much of the conflict that is going on in world affairs at this very time is traceable to remote ages which are entirely unreachable by uninspired historians. The one and only source for some of that information is the historical evidence found in the Bible. It provides the only dependable record of ancient nations which have long since been absorbed by other people.
To give just one example, alongside of
The characters written about in the Bible were real; they really lived, and they did do the things they are recorded to have done. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were real. David was a real person. Noah was real. His sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and his sixteen grandsons were actual people.
In this little booklet I intend to briefly examine the history of each of those sixteen grandsons of Noah. One of the greatest deficiencies of secular history, with regard to the early ancient world, is the failure of historians to recognize the identity and the enormous importance of those sixteen men.
The grandsons of Noah provide the key to the history of the earliest ages of the world. In this little booklet I want to look at those sixteen men, and examine the evidence that they did live, and that the names recorded in the Bible were their actual names. More than that, we will identify the various modern nations which sprang from each of those men.
Now bear in mind that those men lived over four thousand years ago. Uninspired historians cannot reach back that far. Reliable human history cannot reach much farther than the time of Herodotus in the fifth century B.C. When you go back that far, human history loses entire empires. What are the chances, then, that we can find sixteen individuals? What are the chances that we can show that those sixteen men were who the Bible says they were?
Not only can we find all sixteen of those men, we can show where they lived and raised their families. God has provided us with absolutely mind-boggling evidence as to the existence and identity of those sixteen grandsons of Noah, and he has preserved that evidence in such form that it can never be lost or erased.
The identity of those sixteen grandsons of Noah is one of the most important facts in human history, and it is no credit to historians that they have not incorporated that fact into their histories.
There are some facts so important to be known that God has imprinted those facts on the memory of mankind in a way that all the ingenuity of men cannot erase them. The identity of those sixteen men is one of those facts. In this booklet we expect to demonstrate that God has provided mankind with a memory of those men in such manner that the evidence has not been lost even after four thousand years.
Just what is so important about those sixteen grandsons of Noah? Just this: those men are the ancestors of all mankind. Every person living today is descended from one or the other of those men.
Except for eight people, the entire human race perished in the Genesis Flood. After sixteen hundred years of human history mankind had become so corrupt that God determined to destroy every man living except Noah and his family.
Ge 6:5-8, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
God sent a flood that covered the tallest hills, changed the entire geography of the earth, and destroyed every air breathing creature on earth, (“all in whose nostrils was the breath of life” Ge 7:22). Only Noah, and his wife, and his three sons and their wives, and the creatures Noah took into the ark, escaped. The rest of the human race perished in the flood.
When Noah and his family stepped out of the ark one year later, they stepped out into a vast empty earth. Those eight people were the only people on earth. God told them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” Ge 9:2. It fell to Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three sons of Noah, and their sixteen sons to repopulate the earth, and that is what they did. Those three sons of Noah, and their wives, came out of the ark after the flood and made homes for themselves. Then the sons of those three brothers, these sixteen grandsons of Noah, fanned out over the earth and established the various nations of the ancient world.
God will not allow us to forget who these men were, and what they did. These sixteen men were the ancestors of the entire human race, and it is simply mind-boggling to examine the amount of evidence God has left us as to their individual existence and identity. Again, bear in mind that we are talking about sixteen individuals who lived over four thousand years ago. That is a time so remote that historians lose entire empires. Historians finally rediscovered the Hittite Empire only during the last century, and archaeologists are still discovering the shattered remains of civilizations they are completely unable to identify.
Perhaps, God provided us such a legacy of proof with regard to these men for the purpose of stopping the mouths of those skeptics, who are so fond of ridiculing the Bible. Skeptics in every age have insisted that the Bible is a book of myths and legends, but God has left us all the evidence we need to prove that those characters really lived, that they were who the Bible says they were, and that the names the Bible provides were their exact names. We will only have time and space to take a brief look at each of these men, and the evidence regarding them, but we believe that it will be sufficient to demonstrate that further inquiry will bear out the conclusions reached.
One important fact which secular historians rarely mention is that when the European explorers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries began to travel to the remote corners of the earth, wherever they went, they found primitive cultures where people were still talking about the Genesis Flood. For the most part, those people had no written language. They did not have books, magazines, nor newspapers. They had no written record of the flood, but they were still talking about it. How could it have happened that they still knew about the flood, literally thousands of years after the fact? For one thing, they did not have the distractions of books, and newspapers, and radio, and television; so they had an abundance of time to talk to each other. Before all of our modern advancements people communicated with each other on an individual basis more than we ever have since.
For four thousand years, those primitive, unlettered people sat around in the evening and told tales of long ago, and the most often repeated story was about a world destroying flood, and the one man and his family who survived to repopulate the new world. That was the most momentous event in the history of the world up until their time, and cultures all over the world were fascinated by the story. For four thousand years they could not stop telling it.
In the great voyages of discovery, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the European explorers traveled to the remotest corners of the globe, and wherever they went, they found the natives repeating that story. And wherever the story was told, the basic facts were always very similar. Whether it was the Gilgamesh Epic of the Babylonians, or another version told by American Indians, or still another version told by the Polynesians of the South Pacific, the main story line was always the same. Mankind had violated the law of his God; his disobedience brought a world destroying flood, and only one man and his family escaped.
One story had the ark shaped like a cigar; one had it shaped like a cube; another story allowed that the ark had nine stories. The details varied, but the basic facts were always the same: a violated law, a world destroying flood, a huge boat, and one man and his family who survived to populate the new world. Skeptics can ridicule the Bible, but they have no explanation of why (if the Genesis Flood did not happen) did primitive cultures all over the world—cultures which had absolutely no contact with each other—pass that legend down for four thousand years. What was the source of the legend if it never happened?
The various cultures remembered Noah, and they often worshiped him under a variety of names. The ancient Romans worshiped him under the name of Janus. You may remember from your ancient history classes that Janus was the god with two faces, one facing in each direction. That was the Roman version of Noah, the man who lived in two worlds, the world before the flood, and the world after the flood. In other words, he could look in two directions, toward two different worlds. Other people worshiped him under other names, and in other connections.
Even today, the human race is divided into three distinct groups, based on
the three sons of Noah. Down through the ages historians have always recognized
three major divisions of the races, the Hamitic, the Japhetic, and the Semitic,
exactly corresponding to the three sons of Noah. The Hamitic races lived
primarily in Africa and parts of
Modern anthropologists, with their evolutionary turn of mind, do their best to ignore the fact that their predecessors have always recognized those three major groups. For instance, under the heading of Race Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Tradition favored an oversimplified phylogeny, a three-race theory,” but their evolutionary prejudice will not allow them to even list those names, much less to point out that the traditional names of the races (the Hamitic, the Japhetic, and the Semitic) exactly correspond to the names of the three sons of Noah.
But, at this moment, I am not so concerned with Noah and his three sons as I am with his sixteen grandsons. It is in those sixteen grandsons that the various nations find their origins, and it was by those families that the earth was repopulated.
After the flood, the ark came to rest “upon the mountains of
Ararat” Ge 8:4.
Mount Ararat is located at the very Eastern limit of
At any rate, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat, and from there the sons, and grandsons, of Noah fanned out into the vast empty places of the earth. In the providence of God, they, and their descendants, left a very clear record of where those families came to live, and the nations that were produced by them.
But before we examine each of those names, we need to notice one aspect of that age of the world. That age had one very important characteristic which does not apply to any other age, either before or since.
Before the flood men lived to be very old. If you will look at Genesis chapter five, you will discover that it was not at all uncommon for somebody to live to be almost a thousand years old. Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years old (vs. 5). Methuselah lived to be nine hundred and sixty nine(vs. 27), and Noah lived to be nine hundred and fifty (ch. 9:29).
But all of that changed after the flood. For the next several generations they still lived to be very old by our standards, but the life expectancy of each generation dropped rapidly. Genesis chapter eleven gives the ages of the first several generations after the flood. If those life spans which are listed are typical of those which are not listed, and we have no reason to believe they were any different, then, one strange fact becomes evident: for the next eight generations after the flood, the life expectancy of each generation was falling so rapidly, that it was the rule, rather than the exception, for the parents to outlive their children. And not only that, it was the rule for the grandparents to outlive their grandchildren, and for the great-grandparents to outlive their great-grandchildren, and so on. That went on for eight generations or more.
Let us take just a moment to see how that worked out. Genesis chapter eleven records that “Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood” (vs. 10). He lived “after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years” (vs 11). So Arphaxad died 502 years (2 years plus 500 years) after the flood. “Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah” (vs. 12) 37 years (2 years plus 35 years) after the flood. Salah lived another 403 years (vs. 15). He died 440 years after the flood (2 years plus 35 years plus 403 years). So he died 62 years before his father. The eleventh chapter of Genesis has all the numbers. You can work out the arithmetic for yourselves, but here is a listing of the date of the death of each of the patriarchs up until the time of Abraham.
Shem died 502 years after the flood.
Arphaxad died 440 years after the flood.
Salah died 470 years after the flood.
Eber died 531 years after the flood.
Peleg died 340 years after the flood.
Reu died 370 years after the flood.
Serug died 393 years after the flood.
Nahor died 241 years after the flood.
Terah died 426 years after the flood.
Abraham died 527 years after the flood.
Except for Eber, Shem outlived all his descendants for the next eight generations. Abraham was the first to outlive Shem, and he only outlived him by 25 years.
The point is this: those first several generations after the flood lived to be very old, and it was not uncommon for a man to outlive his children, his grandchildren, and his great-grandchildren. By the time they died, there were several missing generations between themselves and their next oldest survivors. Those missing generations, and the enormous difference in age between themselves and their surviving descendants set them apart. They were unique in all of history. They stood all alone at the heads of their respective family clans.
In the years after the flood, they fanned out, and established homes in the vast empty places of the earth, and they repopu-lated the earth with their offspring. Their families soon became great nations, and each of those sixteen grandsons of Noah stood at the head of the vast populations of their respective areas. Several things happened. The people in the various areas called themselves by the name of the one man who was their common ancestor. Since he was the patriarch of the entire population of that region, it was only natural that they should carry his name. They also called their land by his name. They usually named their major city and the major river in that region after him.
The names of the sixteen grandsons of Noah were fixed on the various lands, and nations, and cities, and rivers, and for thousands of years those names have stood. Many of them stand until this present day. Their exact names, often unchanged in any way, have been so firmly fixed on the pages of history that they can never be erased.
God has given us clear and indisputable proof that the Bible record of the earliest days of mankind is accurate. He has left us all the evidence we need to rout those who have imagined that the Bible is a collection of myths and legends. It is impossible for human ingenuity to devise any way those names could have been any more firmly preserved than they have been. It is impossible to imagine a more convincing form of evidence.
Sometimes the various nations fell off into ancestor worship, and if they did, it was very natural for them to name their god after the man who was the ancestor of all of them. After all, if they were involved in ancestor worship, what could be more natural than for them to call their god by the name of their common ancestor. Human nature being what it is, it is not difficult to imagine how ancestor worship gained a hold over them. As we have seen, those first generations after the flood lived to be very old. If a man outlived all his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, and so on, for several generations, it is easy to see that his descendants might get the idea that he was never going to die. And if they ever got that idea, it is also easy to see how they might imagine that he was really a god. Actually, they did not name their god after him, they simply claimed him for their god. The evidence is clear that many of the pagan gods were actually men whom their worshipers imagined to be gods. We shall see that the names of many of the pagan gods are traceable to the grandsons of Noah.
More than that, for over four thousand years the names of those various ancient nations have been preserved in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew names for those ancient nations correspond exactly with the names of those sixteen grandsons of Noah. We cannot fail to see divine providence in the preservation of the Hebrew language. After all, what other language ever gained such prominence as a spoken language, then virtually died, and was centuries later revived as a spoken language.
We cannot imagine any more forceful, and any more conclusive, way in which the existence and identity of those men could have been established. Their names were attached to their descendants, to the land in which they lived, to the major cities and rivers of their various homelands, and sometimes even to the false gods which their descendants later came to worship. We shall see that those names continued for thousands of years, usually with very little change. And by divine providence, the identity of those men and their descendants was nailed down in the Hebrew language, and preserved for all ages.
In Genesis chapter ten, God gives us the names of those men, and he gives us clues as to where they lived and raised their families, and what became of their descendants. God has provided that chapter as a kind of index chapter for the very purpose of nailing down the identity of those men and the nations which sprang from them. He systematically and laboriously cataloged every one of them. In the next few pages we hope to examine those names one by one and discover some of the information available. We will only take time for the briefest glance at each one, but we believe the information provided will be sufficient.
Ge 10:1-2, “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshesh, and Tiras.”
Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. This chapter deals with them in
reverse order. It saves Shem till last; so we will do the same. We hope to
show, both from the Bible record, and from history, that after the flood the
family of Noah came down off
The first name mentioned is Gomer. He was Noah’s grandson by Japheth.
It is a fairly easy matter to trace the travels of Gomer and his descendants,
both from the Bible and from secular history. Ezekiel locates the early
descendants of Gomer. He tells us that, along with Togarmah, Gomer lived in the
north quarters (Eze 38:6). If
you will plot a line almost due north from
It is an interesting study to trace the migration of the descendants of
Gomer by their language. The traditional name of the ancient Welsh language is
Gomeraeg (from Gomer). It is a branch of the Indo-European languages known as
Celtic or Keltic. Encyclopedia Britannica says that the Celtic group of
languages reached from
The point we are getting to is that the ancient Welsh were a highly intelligent people. They had a language which rivaled the language of the Greek philosophers. They were not a bunch of savages running around in the forest, hiding behind trees. They were an intelligent people who knew where they came from. In the same way that, for thousands of years, the Jewish people have properly claimed to be the offspring of Abraham, the Welsh people have claimed to be the offspring of Gomer. The evidence is too plain to be ignored.
The Welsh are not the only descendants of Gomer. The text goes on to tell us
that the sons of Gomer were “Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah”
(vs. 3). Not all of the family of Gomer reached
Again not all of the descendants of Ashkenaz settled in
The next name mentioned is Magog. Magog is the Hebrew name for
The next son of Japheth is Madai. Along with Shem’s son
Javan, the name of Japheth's next son, is the Hebrew word for
Next is Tubal. It seems clear that most of the descendants of Tubal settled
in the vicinity of the Caucasus Mountains on the east of the
Josephus says, “Thobel [Tubal] founded the Thobelites, who are now
called Iberes” (1:6:1). The Spanish people claim to be descended from
Tubal, and their ancient name
Meshech, the name of Japheth's fifth son is the ancient name for
According to Josephus, the descendants of Tiras were called Thirasians. The
Greeks changed their name to Thracians. The Greeks had a habit of changing the
names of other people. You may remember that it was the Greeks who changed the
name of Canaan to
It is a fact of nature that there are ethnic differences that attach to
different races of people. For instance, by and large, the Jewish people have
always been more successful business men than their Gentile counterparts.
Germans are generally better mathematicians.
The descendants of those savage Indo-European people, who were long ago
called Thracians, go to make up much of what is now modern day
Next we come to the sons of Ham. Verse 6, “And the sons of Ham:
The first mentioned is
Ham's next son was Mizraim. Mizraim is the Hebrew word for
Phut, the name of Ham's next son is the Hebrew name for
Canaan, the name of Ham’s last son is the Hebrew name for
It is our purpose only to trace the sixteen grandsons of Noah, and not to spend time looking at their respective sons, but since we have spent some time with the sons of Gomer and Javan, perhaps, we should look very briefly at a few of the grandsons of Ham. We do not wish to labor the question. The descendants of several of the grandsons of Ham are very easy for even the most casual Bible reader to identify, and for that reason, we will only notice the connections in passing. There is Philistim, obviously the ancestor of the Philistines, and Sidon, the founder of the ancient city that bears his name, and Heth, the patriarch of the ancient Hittite empire, and the Jebusite (Jebus was the ancient name of the city of Jerusalem), and the Amorite, the Girgasite, the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite, ancient people who lived in the land of Canaan. The Amorites are very prominent in the history of that region.
The most prominent grandson of Ham was Nimrod, the founder of “
Last, we come to the sons of Shem. Verse 22, “The children of Shem;
Asshur is the Hebrew word for
There is no race of people who bear the name of Arphaxad, the next mentioned son of Shem. Josephus says that the Chaldeans are the descendants of Arphaxad, and he is probably right, but it does seem possible that the reason there is no race of Arphaxadites is that his name was eclipsed by the name of his grandson Eber, from which we get the word Hebrew. Until the time of Abraham Eber was the only descendant of Shem who outlived him. Eber outlived his great-grandfather Shem by some twenty nine years, and he probably became the patriarch of the clan rather than his grandfather Arphaxad. At any rate the name of Arphaxad is largely forgotten in the historical record, while the name Eber (Hebrew) is firmly fixed on the pages of history.
Lud was the ancestor of the Lydians.
We have only taken the briefest glance at these sixteen men, who are the ancestors of all mankind, but we believe that enough has been said to show that they really did live, that they are who the Bible says they were, and that their descendants are identifiable on the pages of history. We hope that we have shown in some small way that, not only is the Bible not a collection of myths and legends, but that it stands alone as the key to the history of the earliest ages of the world.
HISTORY of the Church: J. Harvey Daily: Believing that I see the great need of a brief history of the church of Christ so arranged that it can be readily referred to by any who desire to know the most important and the most interesting events, and feeling sure that such a work will tend to confirm the people of God in his promises, I have written this book, and now send it out with the humble hope that my labors in preparing it will not be in vain.
Only an elementary work
While it is to history only a kind of elementary work, yet the reader will find its pages replete with historic facts so arranged as to form a connected outline of the history of the people now called Baptists.
Mosheim admits that the true origins of this people is “hidden in the
depths of antiquity and is, of consequence, extremely difficult to be
ascertained. Their trail is not lost in these dark depths, as Mosheim claims,
but may be traced out into the unclouded light of the first century, connecting
with the clear footsteps of Jesus and his apostles, thus verifying the promise
that the “gates of hell” should not prevail against the
The witnesses of Jesus have contended earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints, and have maintained that faith with martyr courage, unfurling the sacred standard of truth in all ages and keeping the ordinances as they were delivered to them. There can be no more interesting or profitable employment than tracing out the history of such a people.
A history of the Primitive Baptist Church
I have given but few points in history relative to the various orders that
have risen since the days of the apostles, and have confined my writing
principally to the history of the
Brevity the aim
I have been brief and have not written all that could be said on the different subjects, but those who want to make a thorough study of the different events can find it in other histories. I have meant to put before our people a work that would be useful to those who want to know the history of our people. For this purpose I have endeavored to make the reference as convenient as possible. May the God of all grace bestow his all important blessings upon these pages that through them many may be confirmed in his promises and his precious name be glorified.
J. Harvey Daily
The beginning of the church.
“In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed.” God had ever had a people from Abel unto this period, but was now to set up a church, which, being providentially supported by him, should ever exist, continuing in the paths marked out by her Lord and Master.
John the Baptist
John the Baptist came in the wilderness crying, “Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and the people from all over
The name Baptist
On account of this new practice of baptizing his converts (those who believed his report) John was called “The Baptist.” From that day until now this practice has been preserved and those who have been persistent in practicing it have ever borne that name.
When the time was fulfilled Jesus of Nazareth came and went down into the water with John and was baptized like unto his blessed burial and resurrection. From that on he began to preach his own everlasting gospel and gave examples as patterns for his people. This order of baptism has been handed down through an unbroken chain of baptized believers. The book of inspiration has likewise been kept by the power of God through them.
The Lord’s Supper and Washing Feet
After an instruction of three years the blessed Savior gave to his disciples the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper and kneeling down and washing their feet he laid before them the important lesson of fidelity to their Lord and King, and humility toward one another.
After his ascension Jesus appeared to his disciples and blessed them with power to proclaim him as the way, and many from all nations were made to believe, and the seed was scattered throughout the world. Jesus appeared unto his disciples saying, “All power is given unto me, in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Thus his true ministers, those loyal to Jesus, have ever gone preaching this everlasting gospel, trusting in the blessed promise of his supporting grace.
Spreading the gospel and destruction of Jerusalem
The first Christian church founded by the Apostles was that of
Spread of the churches
The Apostles went from
While the Apostles and their disciples were spreading the gospel into all the world, the Jews continually opposed them. The innocence and virtue of the Christians, and spotless purity of their doctrine, did not protect them, but they were persecuted in many ways. They were opposed not only by the Jewish religion, but also by the idolatrous people of all nations. Notwithstanding this opposition they were so wonderfully blessed by the Spirit of God that they had followers in every city and town.
Nero’s cruel persecution
Nero, who had become emperor over the Roman Empire, after having the city of
Death of Paul and Peter
About this time the great city of
The decision of Nero in favor of the Syrians enraged the Jews and they
butchered some of the Roman and Syrian army. Then the Roman and Syrian army
besieged the city of
Period of peace
After the destruction of the Jewish capital, the Christian church enjoyed several years of outward peace. During this period, however, many professed the Christian religion and advocated unscriptural doctrines which caused much disturbance and distress in the church.
Renewal of persecution
Christianity went on suffering and spreading during the second century. The emperors as well as the people of the empire were bitter in their feelings against the Christians. The saying was frequently used, “If God does not send rain, lay it to the Christians.” At every famine, drought or pestilence they would cry, “To the lions with the Christians.”
At this time, when Trajan the Emperor was at
Ignatius, in his letter to Polycarp, another faithful soldier of the cross, says, “Let your baptism continue as a shield, faith as a helmet, love as a spear.”
Justin Martyr, a devoted Christian, who suffered death at the hands of the
Irenaeus became bishop or pastor of
Hagenback, a German Pedobaptist, says that Irenaeus in treating on baptism “merely expresses the beautiful idea that Jesus was Redeemer in every stage of life, and for every stage of life; but that does not say that he became Redeemer for children by water baptism.”
Form of church government
It is admitted by all historians that the churches of the second century were united only by the tie of faith and charity or love. That every church formed within itself a separate and independent body and that the Christian world was not yet connected by any supreme authority or legislative assembly. They were Baptist churches, because they were composed of baptized members, and were independent of each other in government.
Orchard says, “The first and most fatal of all events to the primitive
religion was the setting up of a
Baptism by immersion
Until this time there is not a single trace of infant baptism, or baptism in any way but by immersion. Those who were capable of professing faith in Christ were baptized and became church members. Cramp says, “We have searched the Christian writings of the first two centuries and have not yet found infant baptism.”
Peace followed by corruption
At the beginning of this century the persecution was light and Christianity became very popular. Many professed religion who proved not to be sincere. They loved the world and fame more than the truth, and they began teaching false doctrines, leading off many of the professors after them. Much corruption crept in which finally divided the church
Mr. Orchard says, “While the interests of religion retained their
scriptural character, all were upon equality and each society possessed its
government within itself; so that no one church originally can claim our
attention more than another. The churches during this early period stood
perfectly free of
In 249 Decius who became Emperor, required all to embrace the pagan or idolatrous worship. One writer says, “The gates of hell were once more opened, and merciless executions were let loose upon the defenseless church and deluged the earth with blood.”
Chandler says, “Many were publicly whipped, drawn by the heels through the streets of cities, racked until every bone of their bodies were disjointed, had their teeth beaten out, their noses, hands and ears cut off, sharp pointed spears run under their nails, were tortured with melted lead thrown on their naked bodies, had their eyes dug out, their limbs cut off, and destroyed by every method malice could devise.”
Many who had been so energetic in the Christian religion forsook it and fell down to the gods of the pagans. Nearly all of the aspiring Christians forsook the church, but the true Christian people endured persecution. True followers of the Lamb were never driven from their religion by persecution and never will be. The persecution lasted about two years, and those who had forsaken the church during the trouble now wanted back, and reinstated to their former positions.
They were generally readmitted, but Novation, a very learned and upright
Elder in the church at
The first division in the church
Cornelius, another Elder in the church at
The church in Africa: Tertullian
We now proceed to examine the churches in
Tertullian thought to remedy this evil by a strict adherence to discipline,
and contended for receiving members by baptism in all cases, unless they could
produce satisfactory evidence that they had been baptized by churches in
communion with that of
Question about infant baptism
“About this time the idea was first originated (which is but too common in the nineteenth century) that to believe certain points taught in the scriptures was all that was necessary to prepare a person for baptism, and the belief that baptism possessed a saving influence. This practice led to the practice of catechizing children, so as to prepare them for baptism.. This was done for the purpose of fulfilling the injunctions of John and the Savior, that faith is a prerequisite to baptism. These notions having become common in many churches, and especially in the East, gave rise to the question propounded to Tertullian by Quintilla, a rich lady who lived in Phrygia, whether infants might be baptized on the condition they ask to be baptized and produce sponsors; which Tertullian goes on to answer very exquisitely, and shows his opposition to minor baptism, and the blending of regeneration with it.” Owens’ History.
Council of bishops
About the year of 260 sixty-six bishops came together to consider the subject of baptizing infants, and agreed that “the grace of God should be withheld from no son of man, that a child might be kissed with a kiss of Christian charity as a brother so soon as born, that Elisha prayed to God, and stretched himself on the infant, that the eighth day was observed in the Jewish circumcision, a type going before, which type ceased when the substance came. If sinners can have baptism, how much sooner infants, who being newly born, have no sin, save being descending from Adam. This therefore, dear brethren, was our opinion in this assembly, that it is not for us to hinder any person from baptism and the grace of God, who is merciful and kind and affectionate to all, which rule, as it holds for all, so we think it more especially to be observed in reference to infants and persons newly baptized.”
Tertullian in his writings said, “That men’s minds were hardened against baptism, because the person (to be baptized) was brought down into the water without pomp, without any new ornament or sumptuous preparation, and dipped at the pronouncing of a few words.”
We now come to treat of Christianity in
Galetes first child baptized
During the first three centuries, Christian congregations all over the East subsisted in separate independent bodies, unsupported by government and consequently without any secular power over one another. All this time they were Baptist churches; and though all the Fathers of the first four ages down to Jerome were of Greece, Syria, and Africa, and though they gave great numbers of histories of the baptism of adults, yet there is not one record of the baptism of a child till the year 370, when Galetes, the dying son of the Emperor Valens was baptized by order of a monarch who swore he would not be contradicted.”
John the Baptist, by the authority given him from on high, instituted the mode of baptism which Christ confirmed and which has been preserved unto this day. Jesus lived and taught the true way for three years after which time he blessed his disciples with sufficient spiritual power to mark out the way and to spread the glorious truth throughout the world. Much opposition was met by the Christians, but the opposition kept them more closely to the truth. In these perilous times, Peter and Paul were killed by the Romans and many of the saints suffered martyrdom.
After the destruction of the Jewish nation, Christianity became popular and then became corrupt by false teachings which finally resulted in a division. Many persecutions were endured, however, for three hundred years and the truth soldiers of the cross were willing to die for their faith. Until near the end of the third century the church continued as a unit in faith and practice, continuing as independent bodies in church government. By this time false doctrines arose, such as baptismal regeneration, denying that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were one, and for this reason, baptizing in the name of each one separately, getting all to join the church they could, whether changed in heart or not. Novation and many of like faith denounced all of this and thus became known as Novations.
It is said by historians that the Novations forsook the path (would to God all would forsake the path of error) and taught that baptism was not in order to regeneration or salvation, but a mere confession of faith.
The fourth century
In the beginning of the fourth century the church had outward peace, but the pagan priests persuaded the Emperor, Diocletian, in 303, to pass an edict to pull down the church houses and burn their books and writings, and to persuade them to forsake their religion. They banished them from the country, kept them in caves and in many ways, for two years, punished all who would persist in the Christian religion.
In 306, however, Constantine the Great was made Emperor, who was decidedly in favor of Christianity. For a short time he gave religious freedom, but soon undertook to unite church and state, and then to control religion.
12,000 added to the church
“He gave Bishop Sylvester his mansion for a baptistery, and conferred freedom on those slaves who would receive baptism. He offered a reward to others, on their embracing Christianity, so that 12,000 men, besides women and minors, were baptized in one year. In 319 he relieved the clergy of taxes, and in 320 issued an edict against the Donatists. He abolished heathen superstition, and erected splendid churches, richly adorned with paintings and images, bearing striking resemblance to heathen temples. Places were erected for baptizing, some over running water, while others were supplied by pipes. In the middle of the building was the bath, which was very large. Distinct apartments were provided for men and women, as are found in some meeting houses at this day.” Orchard’s History.
A council called
There arose a dispute among the ambitious churches over the divinity of Christ, and Constantine, in attempting to settle the dispute, called a council which decided the dispute and also established a creed. The Bishops and Elders of this council were sent home in great honors, and the Emperor tried to get all who professed Christianity to accept their decision. This council decided on the time for the celebration of Easter, and Sunday was the day set apart for rest under the Christian religion.
Sunday a day of rest
“In remembrance of Christ’s resurrection the ancient church,
like the Apostolic church, observed the first day of the week (or Sunday) as a
day of sacred joy and thanksgiving, of public worship of God, and of
collections for the poor; but neither the ancient nor the Apostolic church ever
called that day the Sabbath. In the year 321
The soldier’s prayer
As the fourth century is the source whence were derived the principal Greek and Roman Catholic liturgies or forms of prayer, so Constantine enjoined the following form of prayer for all his Pagan and Christian soldiers. On Sunday in the open field, at a given signal, they were required, with military exactness, to raise their eyes and hands toward Heaven and say these words: “Thee above all we acknowledge as God; Thee we reverence as King; to Thee we call as our helper; to Thee we owe our victories; by Thee we have obtained the mastery of our enemies; to Thee we give thanks for benefits already received; from Thee we hope for benefits to come. We all fall at Thy feet, and fervently beg that Thou wouldest preserve to us our Emperor Constantine and his divinely beloved sons in long life, healthful and victorious.” The co-called prayer, as may be seen, could be addressed to one god as well as another.” Hassell’s History.
The Donatists opposed by Catholics
As the Catholic church grew corrupt, the body that withdrew from them the
last of the third century, continued strict in doctrine and discipline, and
thus met the opposition of the nation. This strict church was known as
Novations, Donatists, Montanists, and many other names, because they refused to
receive the Catholics without baptism. We have found the Novations in the third
century, and in 303, the able man, Donatus of Carthage, bitterly opposed the
loose discipline and false doctrines of the church. The example of Donatus and
his party was followed all over
The Novations, or the church in
In 375 the Emperor Valens embraced the Arian Creed. He closed the Novation churches, banished their ministers, and probably would have carried his measures to greater extremes had not his zeal been moderated by a pious man named Marcion.
The church in liberty
“In 383 Theodosius assembled a synod with a view to establishing unity among churches. On the Novationists stating their views of discipline, the Emperor, says Socrates, ‘wondered at their consent and harmony touching the faith.’ He passed a law, securing to them liberty, civil and religious, all their property, with all churches of the same faith and practice. While these pure churches were in peace and concord, it is stated that discord prevailed in the national churches.”
“At the conclusion of this fourth century, the Novationists had three,
if not four churches, in Constantinople; they had also churches in Nice,
Nocomedia, and Cotivens, in Phrygia, all of them large and extensive bodies,
besides which they were numerous in the
In 412 Cyril was pastor of the Catholic church in
Novations and Donatists opposed by Catholics
After the Catholic church had been supported by the Emperor, they felt that they must unite the entire church on one doctrine and practice, but the Novations and Donatists would not agree with them on infant baptism, and rebaptized all who wanted to come to them from the other churches. The spirit of persecution was raised against all those who rebaptized Catholics. A council met and ordered all the rebaptizers, and those rebaptized by them, to be put to death, and Emperor Theodosious and Honorius passed a law supporting this order.
Under this law many of the Novations in
Novations retreat from Italy
These combined modes of oppression led the faithful followers of Christ to
abandon the cities in
By the severe opposition met by the Christians, they were compelled to seek
a secreted place of worship, and many went to the
I will now quote a little description of the mountains given by Orchard.
“The south of
“At an early period,” Dr. Allix says, “the churches of the
The Donatists, or Baptists, in
Sixth century Baptists called Anabaptists
The Baptists in
In 524 in a Catholic council held at
The Baptist people that inhabited the
The name Waldenses
It happened, moreover, in the ninth century, that one Valdo, a friend and counsellor of Berengarius, and a man of eminence, who had many followers, did not approve of the papal discipline and doctrine; and it came to pass that about one hundred and thirty years after that a rich merchant of Lyons, who was called Valdus, or Waldo, openly disavowed the Roman Catholic religion, supported many to teach the doctrine believed in the valleys, and became the instrument of the conversion of great numbers; all these people were called Waldenses. This view is supported by the authority of their own historians, Pierre Gilles, Perrin, Leger, Sir. S. Moreland, and Dr. Allix.
Waldenses same as Novations
“Paul Perrin asserts that the Waldenses were, time out of mind, in
There was no difference in religious views between the Albigenses and
Waldenses. All these people inhabited the south of
Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, says as to the Vaudois, they were a species of Donatists. They formed their churches of only good men. They all without distinction, if they were reputed good people, preached and administered the ordinances. The Waldenses were in religious sentiment substantially the same as the Paulicians, Paterines, Puritans and Albigenses,”—Owens History.
It is evident that the Christians were numerous throughout the entire Empire, but because of the opposition of the Catholic party, and other religions of the world, we have no accurate record of their proceedings during this century, other than that they were persecuted because they rejected the Catholic baptism, and refused to baptize infants into their fellowship. It is thought that during this period they went to other nations and formed colonies and thus planted their churches in all the Eastern hemisphere. The pure gospel was yet maintained throughout the providence of God and many were made to die for the Truth.
It is asserted by historians that but few of the clergy of the Catholic church could compose a discourse in the seventh century. The corruption of the church increased and many things were practiced that were both unscriptural and immoral. They still had a hatred for the Christians, because of their strict discipline and doctrine. Baptism by immersion, however, was still universally practiced, even by the Catholics, as all historians agree, and many fine places were built for this purpose.
The doctrine of the Waldenses
At this time the Waldenses believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, and baptized believers, refused to baptize infants, and were reproached with the term re-baptizers, or anabaptists. Paul Perrin asserts that the Waldenses were the offspring of the Novatianists, who for purity in communion were called Puritans.
Greeks against the Paulicians
The Greeks were engaged, during this century, in the most bitter and virulent controversy with the Paulicians of Armenia, and the adjacent countries, whom they considered as a branch of the Manichean sect. This dispute was carried to the greatest height under the reigns of Constans, Constantine Pogonatus, and Justinian II, and the Greeks were not only armed with arguments, but were also aided by the force of military legions, and the terror of penal laws. A certain person, whose name was Constantine, revived under the reign of Constans the drooping faction of the Paulicians, now ready to expire, and propagated with great success its “pestilential doctrines.” But this is not the place to enlarge upon the tenets and history of this sect, whose origin is attributed to Paul and John, two brothers who revived and modified the doctrines of Manes.
Let us next give an account of
Constantine’s New Testament
From this passing stranger Constantine (Mosheim’s History) received the precious gift of the New Testament in its original language, which, even at this early period, was so concealed from the vulgar that Peter Siculus, to whom we owe most of our information on the history of the Paulicians, tells us, the first scruples of a Catholic, when he was advised to read the Bible was, “It is not lawful for us profane persons to read those sacred writings, but for the priests only.”
Ignorance of the Catholics
Indeed, the gross ignorance which pervaded
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper
In these churches of the Paulicians, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper they held to be peculiar to the communion of the faithful; i.e., to be restricted to believers.
The Paulicians, or Bogomilians, baptized or re-baptized adults by immersion, as the Manichaens and all other denominations did in the East, upon which mode there was no dispute in the Grecian church.
“It is evident,” says Mosheim, “they rejected the baptism of infants. They were not charged with an error concerning baptism.” “They, with the Manichaens, were Anabaptists, or rejecters of infant baptism,” says Dr. allix, “and were consequently often reproached with that term.”
Scriptural in doctrine and practice
They were simply scriptural in the uses of the sacrament,” says Milner. They were orthodox in the doctrine of the Trinity; they know of no other Mediator than the Lord Jesus Christ.”—Orchard’s History.
At the beginning of the eighth century the Paulicians were put to death and these people who desired to adhere to the Bible were persecuted in every nation. It is evident, though, that the gates of hell could not prevail against the church in any part of the world. The humble yet bold people would attract the attention of the enemy often in every nation, but were kept in obscurity only when the enemy saw fit to persecute.
Disturbed by Moors
In 714 the Moors entered
So these persecuted people would go from one place to another. How wonderful are the dealings of God in controlling the universe, although he suffered nations to be governed by wicked men, and while one nation was influenced by anti-Christ, God gave the Christians protection in another, so that their increase was gradual but sure.
Doctrine and practice in 750
We are informed by Bonizo, bishop of Sutrium, that the Paterines arose, or
became more conspicuous during Stephen II’s pontificate, 750. The public
religion of the Paterines consisted of nothing but social prayer, reading and
expounding the gospels, baptism once, and the Lord’s supper as often as
Ninth century: The Dark Ages
We are now entering into the period in history known as the dark ages, through which it is difficult to give the true succession of this unbroken chain of true and faithful soldiers of the cross, but we have abundant evidence that they continued in a steadfast way to contend for the same precious truth we have been tracing by the authority of all acknowledged historians.
Protected by Claude
We see that the Catholic church at
This man was a great reformer, which afforded great protection for the
Waldenses and others of like faith. He was born in
The doctrine of Claude
Let it be observed, then, that throughout the whole of his writings, he
maintains that “Jesus Christ is the alone head of the church.”
This, the reader will perceive, struck immediately at the root of the first
principles of popery—the vicarious office of the bishop of
The results of his teachings
“By his preaching and valuable writings, he disseminated the doctrine
of the kingdom of heaven, and although the seed were as a grain of mustard seed
cast into the earth, the glorious effects ultimately produced by it justify the
truth of our Lord’s parable, that when it is grown up, it produceth a
tree, whose branches are so ramified and extended that the birds of the air
come and lodge therein. His doctrine grew exceedingly. The valleys of
This man being in sentiment with the Baptist people, we can see the purpose
of God plainly manifested in sending such a man to preside over the Catholic
interests at Piedmont, in the mountain retreat of the
The efforts of Claude to restore the Catholic Church to apostolic practice and doctrine affected the entire Roman province. The dispute that consequently affected the Catholics gave opportunity to the Baptists of Italy and other places to spread their doctrine through the world. The people were known by the term Paterines, a name, says Mezeray, from the glory they took in suffering patiently for the truth.
Tenth century: Baptists in every province
In the tenth century the Paulicians, being persecuted, emigrated from
Worthy of the name
When we consider their object in diffusing truths and holding up the lamp
for guidance of others, their self-denials and trials, we cannot withhold from
them the praise due to their names. The boon such a people proved to the
nations sitting in darkness and death will be made evident in the day of
decision. They rest from their labors, and their work will follow them. Many of
the Bulgarian Baptists lived single, and adopted an itinerant life, purposely
to serve the cause of their Redeemer. It was in the country of the Albigeois,
in the southern provinces of
Views of Baptists
The French Paulicians or Albigenses were plainly of the same order in church affairs as the Bulgarians. They have no bishops; the candidates were prepared for baptism by instruction and stated feasts. They viewed baptism as adding no benefit to children. They received members into their churches after baptism by prayer with imposition of hands and the kiss of charity.
They did not allow of the Catholic baptism of infants, but baptized those again who went over from that church to their community.
Doctrine of the French Baptists
Let us give a summary of their doctrine, as given by Mosheim: Their particular tenets may be reduced to the following heads; First, they rejected baptism of infants, as a ceremony that was in no respect essential to salvation. Second, they rejected, for the same reason, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Third, they denied that the churches were endowed with a greater degree of sanctity than private houses, or that they were more adapted to the worship of God than any other place. Fourth, they affirmed that the altar was to be considered in no other light than as heaps of stones, and were therefore unworthy of any marks of veneration or regard. Fifth, they disapproved the use of incense and consecrated oil in services of a religious nature. Sixth, they looked upon the use of bells in the churches as an intolerable superstition. Seventh, they denied that the establishment of bishops, presbyters, deacons, and other ecclesiastical dignitaries was of divine institution, and went so far as to maintain that the appointment of stated ministers in the church was entirely unnecessary. Eighth, they affirmed that the institution of funeral rites was an effect of sacerdotal avarice, and that it was a matter of indifference whether the dead were buried in the churches or in the fields. Ninth, they looked upon the voluntary punishment called penance, so generally practiced in this century, as unprofitable and absurd. Tenth, they denied that the sins of departed saints could be in any measure atoned for by the celebration of masses, the distribution of alms to the poor, or a vicarious penance; and they, consequently treated the doctrine of purgatory as a ridiculous fable. Eleventh, they considered (Catholic ceremonial) marriage as a pernicious institution, and absurdly condemned, without distinction, all connubial bonds. Twelfth, they looked upon a certain sort of veneration and worship as due to the apostles and martyrs, from which, however, they excluded such as were only confessors, in which class they comprehended the saints who had not suffered death for the cause of Christ, and whose bodies, in their esteem, had nothing more sacred than any other human carcass. Thirteenth, they declared the use of instrumental music in the churches and other religious assemblies, superstitious and unlawful. Fourteenth, they denied that the cross on which Christ suffered was in any respect more sacred than any other kind of wood, and in consequence refused to pay to it the smallest degree of religious worship. Fifteenth, they not only refused all acts of adoration to the images of Christ, and of the saints, but were also for having them removed out of the churches. Sixteenth, they were shocked at the subordination and distinction that were established among the clergy, and at the different degrees of authority conferred upon the different members of the sacred body. Thus the truth in opposition to error was spread all over the inhabited world at that time.
Darkest page of church history
It is admitted, however, by all historians, that this is the darkest page of
church history, but we can find the records of the true followers of the Lamb,
both by the various names, and by their untiring efforts to restore truth.
“Many efforts were made,” says Mosheim, “by Protestants, the
witnesses of the truth by whom are meant such pious and judicious Christians as
adhered to the pure religion of the gospel, and remained uncorrupted amidst
superstitions. It was principally in
We enter upon the history of this century with more light upon the true teachings and practices of the church, as though the hand of bitter persecution was raised against them. The death of their brethren, and the prospect of themselves being martyred, could not affright them from the love of the truth, the work of righteousness, the exercise of faith, and the patience of hope. The persecution and accusations raised against them but gave sure marks of their continuing in the faith.
One of the first religious assemblies which the Paulicians had formed in
Europe is said to have been discovered at
Thirteen Paulicians burnt alive
They adhered strenuously to their principles, and therefore were condemned
to be burnt alive, which sentence was actually executed on thirteen of them.
Afterwards the Puritans that came from
Synod at Toulous
We here quote from Mr. Orchard: “In 1019 a synod was held at Toulous, to consider the most effectual method to rid the province of the Albigenses; and though the whole sect was in 1022 said to have been burnt, yet the emigrants from Bulgaria, coming in colonies into France, kept the seed sown, and the churches recruited, and soon after the same class of people was found inhabiting Languedoc and Gascony.”
Berengarius and Gundulphus
About the year 1035 two reformers made their appearance, Berengarius of
France and Gundulphus in
His success was so great that old historians say that
Orchard says of Gundulphus: “Having given some persons in his
connection a portion of spiritual instruction, he sent them forth as inherants
to preach the gospel. Some of his followers were arrested in
“They were charged,” says Dr. Allix, “with abhorring baptism, i.e., the Catholic baptism.” These disciples said in reply; “The law and discipline we have received of our Master will not appear contrary either to the gospel decrees or apostolic institutions, if carefully looked into. This discipline consists in leaving the world, in bridling carnal concupiscence, in providing a livelihood by the labor of our hands, in hurting nobody, and affording charity to all, etc. This is the sum of our justification to which the use of baptism can superadd nothing. But if any say that some sacrament lies hid in baptism, the force of it is taken off by three causes; First, because the reprobate life of ministers can afford no saving remedy to the persons baptized.” Second, because whatever sins are renounced at the font, are afterwards taken up again in life and practice. Third, because a strange will, a strange faith, and strange confessions, do not seem to belong to a little child, who neither wills nor runs, who knoweth nothing of faith, and is altogether ignorant of his own good and salvation, in whom there can be no desire of regeneration, and from whom no confession of faith can be expected.”
In the valleys of
Their churches were divided into sixteen compartments, such as we call
associations. The association of
It is recorded that in the beginning of this century the Waldenses had
spread their doctrine and influence all over
Articles of faith
In an article of faith the following is recorded by Mr. Jones that will be of interest to the readers: “We believe and firmly maintain all that is contained in the twelve articles of the symbol commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, and we regard as heretical whatsoever is inconsistent with the said twelve articles.
“We believe there is one God—the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “We acknowledge for sacred canonical Scriptures the books of the Holy Bible. (Here follow the title of each, exactly conformable to our received canons, but which it is deemed, on that account, quite unnecessary to particularize.)
“The books above mentioned teach us that there is one God, Almighty, unbounded in wisdom, and infinite in goodness, and who, in his goodness, has made all things. For he created Adam after his own image and likeness. But through the enmity of the devil and his own disobedience, Adam fell, sin entered into the world, and we became transgressors in and by Adam.
“That at the time appointed by the Father, Christ was born—a time when iniquity everywhere abounded, to make it manifest that it was not for the sake of any good in ourselves, for all were sinners, but that he who is true might display his grace and mercy upon us.
“That Christ is our life, and truth, and peace, and righteousness—our shepherd and advocate, our sacrifice and priest, who died for the salvation of all who should believe, and rose again for their justification.
“We also believe that after this life there are but two places—one for those that are saved, the other for the damned—which two we call paradise and hell, wholly denying that imaginary purgatory of anti-Christ invented in opposition to the truth. “We acknowledge no sacraments (as by Divine appointment), but baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”
Peter de Bruis
About the same period Peter de Bruis became prominent as a bold defender of the truth. Mosheim gives the following account of this man: “Peter de Bruis made laudable attempts to reform the abuses and to remove the superstitions that disfigured the beautiful simplicity of the gospel; but after having engaged in his cause a great number of followers, during a laborious ministry of twenty years, he was burned at St. Giles, in the year 1130, by an enraged populace, instigated by the clergy, whose traffic was in danger from the enterprising spirit of this reformer. The whole system of doctrine, which this unhappy martyr, whose zeal was not without a considerable mixture of fanaticism, taught to the Petrobrusians, his disciples, is not known; it is, however, certain that the five following tests made a part of his system: First, that no persons were to be baptized before they had the full use of their reason. Second, that it was idle superstition to build churches for the service of God, who will accept a sincere worship wherever it is offered, and that therefore such churches as had already been erected were to be destroyed. Third, that the crucifixes, as instruments of superstition, deserved the same fate. Fourth, that the real body and blood of Christ were not exhibited in the Eucharist, but were merely represented in that holy ordinance by figures and symbols. Fifth, and lastly, that the obligations, prayers, and good works of the living could in no respect be advantageous to the dead.”
Arnold of Brescia is another of the faithful ministers of this century.
He pointed his zeal at the wealth and luxury of the Roman clergy. The
This bold man now hazarded the desperate experience of visiting
Successive pontiffs were unable to check his popularity. Eugenius III
He was not devoid of discretion, he was protected by the nobles and the people, and his services to the cause of freedom, his eloquence thundered over the seven hills. He showed how strongly the clergy in vice had degenerated from the primitive times of the church. He confined the shepherd to the spiritual government of his flock.
In 1155 this noble champion was seized, crucified and burned. His ashes were thrown into the river. “The clergy triumphed in his death; with his ashes his sect was dispersed; his memory still lives in the minds of the Romans.”
In 1160, whilst anarchy and confusion awfully prevailed in the Roman community, strife, rebellion and conflict between popes and emperors, cardinals, clergy and councils on the claims of contending pontiffs, a person was called by Divine grace to advocate the cause of truth.
Peter, an opulent merchant of Lyons, in translating from Latin into French the four gospels, perceived that the religion which was taught in the Roman church differed totally from that which was originally inculcated by Christ and his apostles. Struck with a pious zeal for religion, he abandoned the glaring difference and animated his mercantile vocation, distributed his riches among the poor and formed an association with other pious men. He adopted the sentiments of the Waldenses of Piedmont, and from them borrowed those reforming notions which he diffused successfully over the continent.
In 1165 he assumed the character of a public teacher in the city of
The rules of practice adopted by Peter of Lyons, or Peter Waldo, and his followers, were extremely severe. They took for their model, to regulate their moral discipline, Christ’s sermon on the mount, which they interpreted and explained in the most literal and rigid manner, and consequently prohibited war, lawsuits, and all attempts towards acquisition of wealth; the infliction of capital punishments, self-defense against unjust violence, and oaths of all kinds.
Various names of Baptists
The followers of Waldo, like himself, renounced all worldly property and
interest, making common stock with the poor of the church. From this
circumstance the enemies termed them, “the poor of
They are said to have been men of irreproachable lives. They were the pious of the earth. Their views of the ordinance were, says Reiner, “that the washing (immersion) given to children does no good.” Dissenters were called by various names, as the poor of Lyons, Lionists, Paterines, Puritans, Arnoldists, Petrobrussians, Albigenses, Waldenses,etc., etc., different names expressive of one and the same class of Christians.
“However various their names, they may be,” says Mezeray, “reduced to two, that is, the Albigenses and the Vaudois, and these two held almost the same opinions as those we called Calvinists.” Their bards or pastors were every one of them heads of their churches, but they acted nothing without the consent of the people and clergy. Deacons expounded the gospels, distributed the Lord’s Supper, baptized, and sometimes had the oversight of churches, visited the sick, and took care of the temporalities of the church—Orchard’s History.
“Peter Waldo and his brethren were bitterly opposed by the Catholic
party, and were finally made to flee for protection. Some went to the mountain
home in the Pyrenees, and some to
Thirteenth century: jealousy of the Pope
The cruelty of the twelfth century was increased in this century. In 1200
the cities and towns were filled with the Baptists being protected by the
lords, barons, viscounts and others of the French nobility. This awakened the
jealousy of the Pope and different measures were taken to subdue them. In the
fall of 1209 the monks preached up a crusade against the more northerly
The army raised from these efforts was directed in the ensuing spring, 1210, by Alice, Simon de Montfort’s wife. With this army a renewal of last year’s cruelties commenced. All the inhabitants found were hung on gibbets. A hundred of the inhabitants of Brom had their eyes plucked out, and their noses cut off, and then were sent, under the guidance of a man with one eye spared, to inform the garrisons of other towns what fate awaited them. The destruction of property and life must have been very great, from the sanguinary character of those who managed these cruel measures.
Albigenses die for their faith
The most perfidious conduct was conspicuous in the leaders of the Catholic
cause. Pope, bishops, legates, and officers of the army; whatever terms were
submitted to availed nothing, when in the hands of their enemies. On the 22nd
of July, the Crusaders took possession of the
An enormous pile of dry wood was prepared, and the abbot thus addressed the Albigenses, “Be converted to the Catholic faith, or ascend this pile,” but none of them were shaken. They set fire to the wood, and brought them to the fire, but it required no violence to precipitate them into the flames. Thus more than one hundred and forty willing victims perished, after commending their souls to God. This sacrifice of human life under this crusade cannot be computed,”— Orchard’s History.
A time of great trial
“I have,” says Mr. Jones, “traced the total extermination of the Alibgenses, and with it the extinction of the cause of reformation, so happily introduced in the twelfth century. The slaughter had been so prodigious, the massacre so universal, the terror so profound, and of so long duration, that the church of Rome appeared completely to have obtained her object. The churches were drowned in the blood of their members, or everywhere broken up or shattered. The public worship of the Albigenses had everywhere ceased. All teaching had become impossible.
Almost every pastor or elder had perished in a frightful manner, and the very small number of those who had succeeded in escaping the edge of the sword now sought an asylum in distant countries, and were enabled to avoid persecutions only by preserving the most studied silence respecting their opinions. The private members who had not perished by either fire or sword, or who had not withdrawn by flight from the scrutiny of the inquisition, knew that they could preserve their lives only by burying their creed in their bosoms. For them there were no more sermons, no more public prayers, no more ordinances of the Lord’s house—even their children were not to be acquainted for a time at least, with their sentiments.”
Raymond was an earl of Toulouse, who spent his days in opposition to the
church in power, but at his death his young son Raymond, feeling stung by the injustice
done his father, banished the crusaders and inquisitors from the country of
Toulouse, and continued to give the whole Catholic party trouble until about
the middle of the century. But in 1243 Raymond was subdued and the land became
quiet. Thus terminated all hopes of protection in
Let us now turn our attention to the valleys of
Mosheim says, “Their numbers became so formidable as to menace the Papal jurisdiction with a fatal overthrow. It has been observed, and the thing is worthy of notice, that a period when all the potentates of Europe were combined to second the intolerant measures of the court of Rome, the Dukes of Savoy, who were now become the most intolerant monarchs in Christendom, should have allowed their subjects the liberty of conscience, and protected them in the legitimate exercise of their civil and religious principles.
They were secluded in a considerable degree from general observation, and led a quiet and peaceful life, in all godliness and honesty. The princes and the governors of the country in which they lived were constantly receiving the most favorable reports of them, as a people simple in their manners, free from deceit and malice, upright in their dealings, loyal to their governors, and ever ready to yield them a cheerful obedience, and in everything that did not interfere with the claims of conscience; consequently, the governors constantly turned a deaf ear to the solicitations of priests and monks to disturb their tranquility.
The tolerant principles of the dukes, with the sequestered habitations of
these people; the difficulty of approaching their territories; their little
intercourse with the world, connected with their simplicity of manners, were
favorable circumstances to all the pious of the glens of Piedmont, while it
afforded nothing inviting to strangers or the polite and fashionable.
Consequently these people appear to have enjoyed a considerable share of
tranquility, while their brethren in the south of
Origin of Albigenses
It is natural to conclude, therefore, that when persecution raged against
These people were sound in doctrine and were faithful to their profession, even through the most severe persecution. It is asserted by Orchard, “First, it has been fully admitted by all creditable historians, that the Albigenses were originally called Puritans, from the Novatian, Paulician, and Paterine dissenters, whose sentiments have passed under review.
Secondly, the constitution of all those dissenting churches left on record, viz., Novatianists, Donatists, Paulicians, with the Albigenses, was strictly on the terms of “believers’ baptism indispensable to church fellowship.”
Thirdly, after Novatian, Donatus and Constantine appeared as reformers, Gundulphus, Arnold of Brescia, Berenges, Peter of Bruys, Henry of Toulous, and Peter Waldo, who all equally renounced infant baptism, with those who were called after their names, which subject we shall refer in full section.
Fourthly, the productions of their pens, their creed, or confession of faith, the Noble Lesson, and What is Antichrist, are in accordance with Baptist views.”
Dr Wall records that the Lionists, or followers of Waldo, say that the washing given to children does no good. Dr Allis says, “Baptism added nothing to justification, and afforded no benefit to children.”
The new settlement
The extreme cruel opposition of both King and Pope caused many of these
Baptists of Italy to go to the valleys of Piedmont with the Waldenses, but they
continually increased in
The fourteenth century
We will now turn our attention to the Waldenses. At the beginning of the
fourteenth century they had become so numerous that they were compelled to
emigrate. Several of them went to the colony east of
“For one hundred and thirty years after the destruction of the church
Cruel persecution in the Piedmonts
In some parts of the country, however, the Waldenses were troubled by the
inquisitors during this century, and especially at the close of it. About the
year 1400, the Catholic party disturbed the peace of the Waldenses in the
The inhuman enemies took possession of the caves and kept the people from
their place of retreat. When the news came to the people they fled to one of
the highest mountains in the
Many other inhuman persecutions followed, and though the King desired to protect this inoffensive people, yet the Catholic party had such power that these servants of Satan could not be checked, and the evil continued.
Pure life of the Waldenses
In 1480, Candius Scisselius, Archbishop of Turin, resided in the valleys; from his situation and office, he must have known something of these people. He says of the Waldenses, “Their heresy excepted, they generally live a purer life than other Christians. They never swear, but by compulsion. They fulfill their promises with punctuality, and live, for the most part, in poverty; they profess to preserve the apostolic life and doctrine. They also profess it to be their desire to overcome only by the simplicity of faith, by purity of conscience, and integrity of life; not by philosophical niceties, and theological subtleties. In their lives and morals they are perfectly irreprehensible, and without reproach among men, addicting themselves with all their might to observe the commands of God. All sorts of people have repeatedly endeavored, but in vain, to root them out, for, even yet contrary to the opinion of all men, they still remain conquerors, or at least, wholly invincible.”—Jones History.
Innocent the Pontiff
In 1484, Innocent the Eighth was made Pope of Rome. This Pontiff follows the footprints of Innocent the Third, by issuing his bulls for the destruction of the Waldenses. “We have heard,” said the Pope, “and it is come to our knowledge, not without much displeasure, that certain sons of iniquity, followers of that abominable and pernicious sect of malignant men, called “the poor of Lyons,” or Waldenses, who have so long ago endeavored, in Piedmont and other places, to ensnare the sheep belonging to God,” etc.
“An army raised by Albert, the Pope’s legate, and marched
directly into the
The lieutenant, finding the inhabitants all fled, and that not an individual
appeared with whom he could converse, had considerable trouble in discovering
their retreats; when, causing quantities of wood to be placed at the entrance
of their caves, he ordered the same to be set on fire. The consequence of this
inhuman conduct was, four hundred children were suffocated in their cradles, or
in the arms of their dead mothers, while multitudes to avoid death by
suffocation, or being committed to the flames, precipitated themselves headlong
from their caverns upon the rocks below, when they were dashed to pieces; if
any escaped death by the fall, they were immediately slaughtered by the brutal
soldiers. It appears more that three thousand men and women, belonging to the
The monk’s confession
Desiring to put an end to heresy without so much bloodshed, and in fact seeing that even the shedding of blood did not put a stop to it, a monk was selected to instruct the people in the right way. The monk on his return said he had learned more Scripture than he had in his whole life, the few days he was conversing with the heretics. Others visited them, being sent by the Catholics, and came back with the same report.
“The first lesson the Waldenses teach those whom they bring over to their party,” says Reiner, “is, as to what kind of persons they disciples of Christ ought to be, and this they do by the doctrine of the evangelists and apostles; saying that those only are followers of the apostles, who imitate their manner of life.”
The customs of the Waldenses
The celebrated president and historian, Thuanus, says, “Their clothing is of sheep skins, they have no linen; they inhabit (1540-1590) seven villages; their houses are constructed of flint stone, having a flat roof covered with mud. In these they live with their cattle, separated, however, from them by a fence. They have also two caves set apart for particular purposes, in one of them they conceal their cattle, in the other themselves, when hunted by their enemies. They live on milk and venison, being, through constant practice, excellent marksmen. Poor as they are, they are content, and live in a state of seclusion from the rest of mankind. One thing is very remarkable, that persons externally so savage and rude, should have so much moral cultivation. They know French sufficiently for the understanding of the Bible, and singing of Psalms. You can scarcely find a boy among them who cannot give an intelligent account of the faith which they profess. In this, indeed, they resemble their brethren of the other valleys. They pay tribute with good conscience, and the obligation of this duty is particularly noted in their confession of faith. If, by reason of the civil wars, they are prevented from doing this, they carefully set apart the sum, and at the first opportunity, pay it to the king’s tax gatherers.” This man was a candid enemy.
Orchard says, “Calvin, who began in 1534 to preach the reforming doctrines, was found in his views more in accordance with the sentiments of the sacramentarians, or Anabaptists, than Luther. It does not appear that any great difference existed between the Anabaptists and Calvin’s doctrinal views, but the principal points of discrepancy were on the churches constitution and discipline.”
A boy disputes with a monk
“An Observantine monk, preaching one day at Imola, told the people that it behooved them to purchase heaven by the merit of their good works. A boy who was present exclaimed, ‘That’s blasphemy, for the Bible tells us that Christ purchased heaven by his sufferings and death, and bestows it on us freely by his mercy.” A dispute of considerable length ensued between the youth and the preacher. Provoked at the pertinent replies of his juvenile opponent, and at the favorable reception which the audience gave them, “Get you home, you young rascal!” exclaimed the monk. “You are just come from the cradle, and will you take it upon you to judge the sacred things, which the most learned cannot explain?” “Did you never read the words, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, God perfects praise?’” rejoined the youth; upon which the preacher quitted the pulpit in wrathful confusion, breathing out threatenings against the poor boy, who was instantly thrown into prison, “where he still lies,” says the writer. Dec. 31, 1544. M’Crie’s History.
Confession of faith of 1554
We will now give an extract from a confession of faith put forth by the Waldenses in 1554. In Art. 4 they say, “We believe that there is one holy church, comprising the whole assembly of the elect and faithful, that have existed from the beginning of the world, and shall be to the end thereof.” Art. 7, “We believe in the ordinance of baptism; the water is the visible and external sign, which represents to us that which, by virtue of God’s invisible operation is within us, namely, the renovation of our minds, and the mortification of our members through the faith of Jesus Christ; and by this ordinance we are received into the holy congregation of God’s people, previously professing and declaring our faith and change of life.”—Jones’ History.
Confession of faith of 1655
Now we will quote a few articles from a Waldenses confession of faith of 1655, published in order to correct any false report that might be given by the enemies who were threatening persecution: “Art. 25. That the church is a company of the faithful, who, having been elected before the foundation of the world, and called with a holy calling come to unite themselves to follow the word of God, believing whatsoever he teacheth them and living in his fear. Art. 26. And that all the elect are upheld and preserved by the power of God in such sort that they all persevere in the faith unto the end, and remain united in the holy church, as so many living members thereof. Art. 29. That God hath ordained the sacrament of baptism to be a testimony of our adoption, and of our being cleansed from our sins by the blood of Christ, and renewed in holiness of life.”—Gilly’s Narrative.
In 1685 the Pope would not tolerate one that opposed the Catholic Church to
The Baptists in
The wilds of
“We shall now exhibit our claim to these pious Waldenses, so far as it
respects the ordinance. We own their religious views are not fully known. They
thought Christianity wanted no comment, but a pious walk; and they professed
their belief of that by being baptized, and their love of Christ and one
another by receiving the Lord’s Supper. Jacob Merning says that he had,
in the German tongue a confession of faith of the Baptists, called Waldenses,
which declared the absence of infant baptism in the early churches of these
people, that their forefathers practiced no such thing, and that people of this
faith and practice made a prodigious spread through Poland (yea Poland was
filled with them), Lombardy, Germany and Holland. These people re-baptized such
as joined their churches, as the Waldenses had done in early age; and although
a law was made against the Picards for re-baptizing, yet they suffered burning
in the hand and banishment rather than forgo what they considered their duty.
Dr. Wall, who is a candid opponent, says the Beghards were also called Picards
or Pighards. They spread themselves over the great territory of Upper Germany;
they abominated popery; they chose their pastors from among married men; they
mutually called one another brother and sister; they owned no other authority
than the Scriptures; they slighted all the doctors, both ancient and modern;
their minsters wore no other garments to celebrate communion; nor do they use
any collection of prayers but the Lord’s Prayer; they believed or owned
little or nothing of the sacraments of the Catholic Church; such as came over
to their church must every one be baptized anew in mere water; they believe
that the bread and wine do only, by some occult signs, represent the death of
Christ—that the sacrament was instituted by Christ to no other purpose
but to renew the memory of his passion, etc., etc. In this statement may be
discovered a family likeness of those churches in the south of
Kept by God
Many persecutions followed them from year to year, but through the
providence of God we see that the church in its purity was likewise kept in
The terrors of death in the most awful form, were presented to the view of the people, and numbers of them were executed every day. It seemed that all their liberty was taken away from them. Many of them were discouraged, but like the Waldenses, they were willing to suffer death in any way that the evil one could devise.
“The venerable Menno Simon was born at Witmansum, in Friestand, A.D. 1496. His education was such as was generally adopted in that age with persons designed to be priests. He entered the church in the character of a minister in 1524. He had no acquaintance with the sacred volume at this time; nor would he touch it, lest he should be reduced by its doctrines. At the end of three years, on celebrating mass, he entertained some scruples about transubstantiation; but attributed the impressions to the devil. No moral change was yet effected; he spent his time in dissipating amusements; yet he was not easy in his mind. He resolved, from the perturbed state of his thoughts, to pursue the New Testament. In reading this volume, his mind became enlightened; and with the aid of Luther’s writings, he saw the errors of popery. Menno was generally respected; and all at once became a Gospel Preacher, without the charge of heresy or fanaticism. This is accounted for, by his being courted by the world, and still continued in alliance with it.
Among the thousands that suffered death for anabaptism, was one Sicke Snyden, who was beheaded at Lewarden. The constancy of this man to his views of believers’ baptism, preferring even an ignominious death to renouncing his sentiments, led Menno to inquire into the subject of baptism. Menno could not find infant baptism in the Bible; and, on consulting a minister of that persuasion, a concession was made, that it had no foundation in the Bible. Not willing to yield, he consulted other celebrated reformers; but all these he found to be at variance, as to the grounds of the practice; consequently he became confirmed, that the Baptists were suffering for truth’s sake. In studying the word, convictions of sinfulness and of his lost condition became deepened; and he found God required sincerity and decision. He now sought new spiritual friends, and found some, with whom he at first privately associated, but afterwards became one of their community. Menno was baptized by immersion, as he confessed that, “We shall find no other baptism besides dipping in water, which is acceptable to God and maintained in his word.”—Orchard’s History.
“They admit,” says Mosheim, “none to the sacrament of baptism but persons that are come to the full age of reason.” They rebaptized such persons as had that rite in a state of infancy; since the best and wisest of the Mennonites maintain, with their ancestors, that the baptism of infants is destitute of validity; they therefore refuse the term of Anabaptists as inapplicable to their views.
Baptists collected by Menno
“It was in 1536, under Menno, that the scattered community of Baptists were formed into a regular body and church order, separate from all Dutch and German Protestants, who at that time had not been formed into one body by any bands of unity. Some of the perfectionists he reclaimed to order and others he excluded. He now purified also the religious doctrines of these people. As in the early, so among these modern Baptists, two classes are found, at a later period distinguished by the term of rigid and moderate. The former class observe, with the most religious accuracy, veneration and precision, the ancient doctrine, discipline and precepts of the pure Baptists. The latter are more conformed to Protestant churches.”—Mosheim’s History.
Let us now notice the candid admission of the careful Lutheran historian,
J.L. Mosheim, in reference to the origin of the Baptist church in
“The true origin of that sect which acquired the denomination of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, and derived that of Mennonites, from that famous man to whom they owe much of their present felicity, is hidden in the depths of antiquity, and is of consequence difficult to be ascertained. This uncertainty will not appear surprising when it is considered that this sect started up suddenly in several countries at the same time, under leaders of different talents and different intentions, and at the very period when the first contest of the Reformers with the Roman pontiffs drew the attention of the world, and employed all the pens of the learned in such a manner as to render all other objects and incidents almost matters of indifference.”
[These Anabaptists] “not only considered themselves descendants of the Waldenses, who were so grievously opposed and persecuted by the despotic heads of the Romish church, but pretend, moreover, to be the purest offspring of the respectable sufferers, being equally opposed to all principles of rebellion on the one hand, and all suggestions of fanaticism on the other.”
“It may be observed,” continued Mosheim, “that they are
not entirely in an error when they boast of their descent from the Waldenses,
Petrobrussians, and other ancient sets, who are usually considered as witnesses
of the truth in times of general darkness and superstition. Before the rise
of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all countries of
Europe, particularly in
Baptists descended from the apostles
We will next give a quotation from a noted
Baptists of England: same as Waldenses
We will now turn our attention to the Baptist people of
“In 1215, Walter Lollard, a German preacher of great renown among the
Waldenses, and a friend to believers’ baptism, came into
In the reign of Edward III, in 1340, John Wycliff began to be famous in
Tyndale, another learned man, took upon himself to translate the Bible into
the English language in the sixteenth century. Because of the opposition of the
King of England he was compelled to flee to
William Sawtre and Edward Wightman
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries hundreds of the Baptist people were
imprisoned and those who would not repent and turn from their religion were put
to death in the most horror possible. At the beginning of this period a devout
man William Sawtre, who was a Baptist preacher, was the first to be burned. The
last was Edward Wightman, who was burned at the stake at
Benedict says, “From the death of William Sawtre, who was burnt in
This, however, was not the end of the persecution, for a great many were thrown into dark prisons and there died. The natural man never has been a friend of true Christianity, and never will be.
Confession of Faith in 1643
In 1643, the English Baptists drew up a “confession of faith,” which was afterwards revised and published in 1689, known as “the London Confession of Faith,” which contains all the doctrinal and practical features of all the former “confessions of faith” put forth by the Baptists. It has ever been recognized as the nearest expression of the faith of true Baptists everywhere, until the present time, that has ever been published in a like form. A short time afterwards it was republished, with the addition of two articles by the Baptists of America, known as the “Philadelphia Confession of Faith.”
Means of tracing Baptists
These people can be traced through history (1) by the persecution and shedding of blood and banishment by the enemies: (2) by the practice of immersing anew all that came over to them from any other sect ever since there has been more than one denomination, which has been since A.D. 251; (3) by their claiming that God has but one church, and it alone has church authority; (4) by their refusing infant baptism entirely and contending alone for believer’s baptism.
Robinson says, “I have seen enough to convince me that the present dissenters, contending for the sufficiency of the Scripture and for primitive Christian liberty to judge of its meaning, may be traced back in authentic manuscripts to the Nonconformists; to the Puritans; to the Lollards; to the Valdenses; to the Albigenses; and, I suppose, through the Paulicians and others, to the apostles.”
Baptists of the
We will next turn our attention to the Baptists of our native country. It
has been with great interest that I have prepared this history of this period. There
have been many things that I have omitted that would have been of great
interest to many, but my only intention has been to give to our people a brief,
useful record of the true
From the most recent and thorough investigation it is believed that Dr. John
Clark (a physician) and eleven other persons formed, at Newport, Rhode Island,
in 1638, the first Baptist Church in America. Clark resigned the care of the
church in 1651 to return to
The second oldest Old School Baptist church in the
The Baptists at that time adopted the London Confession of Faith with two additional articles known then as the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.
The church at Southampton,
Earliest associations in America
The Philadelphia Association in
Association in North Carolina organized in A.D. 1758; the fourth was the Kehukee Association of North Carolina organized in A.D. 1765; The fifth was the Ketockton Association of Virginia organized in A.D. 1766; the sixth was the Warren Association of Rhode Island organized in A.D. 1767; the seventh was the Stonington Association of Connecticut organized in A.D. 1772; the eighth was the Strawberry Association of Virginia organized in A.D. 1776; the ninth was the Shaftsbury Association of Vermont organized in A.D. 1780; the tenth was the Salisbury Association of Maryland organized in A.D. 1782; the eleventh was the Woodstock Association of Vermont organized in A.D. 1783; the twelfth was the Dover Association of Virginia organized in A.D. 1783; the thirteenth was the Georgia Association of Georgia organized in A.D. 1784; the fourteenth was the Vermont Association organized in A.D. 1785; the fifteenth was the Salem Association of Kentucky organized in A.D. 1785; the sixteenth was the Elkhorn Association organized in 1785; the seventeenth was the Holston Association of Tennessee organized in 1786.
First association in each state
The first associations organized in each of the following states were as follows: New Hampshire; the Meredith Association in A.D. 1789; New York, the Warwick Association in A.D. 1791; Ohio, the Miami Association in A.D. 1797; Mississippi, the Mississippi Association in A.D. 1807; Indiana, the Whitewater Association, in 1809; Illinois, the Illinois Association in A.D. 1809; New Jersey, the New Jersey Association in A.D. 1811; Massachusetts, the Boston
Association in A.D. 1811; Alabama, the Bethlehem Association in A.D. 1816; Missouri, the Missouri Association in A.D. 1817; Louisiana, the Louisiana Association in A.D. 1820; Michigan, the Michigan Association in A.D. 1827.
[For Patrick Henry’s Defense of Lewis and Joseph Craig and Aaron Bledsoe see Patrick HENRY and the Baptists Anthology Henry, Patrick, And The Baptists]
The origin of the Campbellites
Thomas Campbell, an ordained minister of the “Seceder Church of
On account of this doctrine the Baptist people withdrew fellowship from the followers of the Campbells, and the latter then constituted themselves into a separate body, that have called themselves Disciples of Christ, and afterwards some who were more aggressive called themselves Christians, but have been generally known by writers as Campbellites.
Missionary Baptists: a division over means
About the same time that the
Through the influence of some progressive men some missionary societies were formed under the doctrine that the gospel is used as a means in regeneration, and from these views originated the idea that “thousands were going to hell for the want of the gospel.”
As Andrew Fuller is admitted to be the standard among the Missionary Baptists, I desire to give a brief sketch of his life and work. He was born in 1754 and died in 1815. His parents were poor, and he had only the barest rudiments of an English education. He concluded that we should offer salvation freely to all sinners, without distinction, and in 1782 he published an essay entitled “The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” This involved him in a bitter controversy of twenty years with those who loved the old Bible principles.
First missionary society
The first missionary society was formed in
Black Rock protest
When the Fullerite heresies had been introduced among the Baptists, and
produced great discord and turmoil, some of the old veterans of the cross met
at Black Rock,
Old School and New School Baptists
To distinguish those who retained the apostolic doctrine from those who
departed from it, we consented to be known by the name which has been given us
by our opponents, viz., Old School Baptists. This appellation we agreed
to accept, with the express understanding that it referred only to the
The Old School or Primitive Baptists never did consent to any of the anti-Christian doctrines and institutions of the new order, even when mixed up with them in denominational connection; they protested against every practice for which there was no “Thus saith the Lord,” and after laboring to reclaim the disorderly until they found their labors were unavailing, they withdrew fellowship from them. Christ has commanded us to withdraw even from every brother that walks disorderly.
This disturbance continued in different parts of the
Because of this extreme position on the use of the gospel, some of the Baptist people went to an extreme on the other side, and believed that the actions of all men were predetermined and caused to be by the Lord, and, reasoning from this standpoint, they said that when God gets ready for his people to join the church they would join. This extreme doctrine weakened the church in many places. It caused churches to lock up their doors and quit having meeting, thinking that as it was God’s will, it was as much to his glory for them to quit holding meetings. It is likely that that is true—that it is as much honor to God for them to quit holding meetings as for them to publish to the world that God was compelling men to do what he has told them not to do. Those, however, that have advocated that doctrine have lost hold, and those who exhort the people of God to obedience have, in most places, held up their churches and built up the numbers until they have reached over 200,000; however, a definite number cannot be gotten, as many are opposed to giving the number.
Division over the means question
About the year 1880, there arose a dispute among the ministers of the denomination over the use of means in regeneration, some claiming the preached word was used as a means in the hands of God in giving spiritual life, others claiming that life must be given before the sinner could hear or believe the gospel, and for that reason it could not be used as a means in giving that life.
This resulted in a division in parts of
We see how that, through the ages, the church has been standing on the same grand principles, trusting in the providence of an all-wise God to support them. As it is written, “In the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed,” so we see that in the fulfillment of it God has wonderfully cared for it, not by giving worldly ease or honor, but heavenly blessings, that encouraged the true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus to press on to the mark of their high calling.
As the saints of old went in the mission of the gospel trusting in the Lord, for a financial as well as spiritual support, so the God-sent servants still are willing to do, with prayerful hearts, enthused with the inspiring thought that God’s redeeming love was their support, being impressed with a duty to God; they have ever been willing even to press into death for the welfare of the cause. J. Harvey Daily
Obadiah HOLMES (See under Persecution in
HOLY ORDERS: Sylvester Hassell: The popes founded the Mendicant Franciscan and Dominican Orders and the Inquisition to aid them in counteracting the growing heretical sects, either by conversion or extermination. One of the characteristic features of Roman Catholicism is its incorporation of hundreds of religious institutions, male and female, by which to accomplish its purposes.
The Military Orders were established in the twelfth century to fight against the Saracens; and the Mendicant (or Begging) Orders, in the thirteenth century, to war against the heretics; just as the Jesuit Order was created in the sixteenth century to counteract the Protestant Reformation.
Sacerdotal Christianity had, in the thirteenth century ascended a throne so high above the people, teaching them only by ritual, and neutralizing even the small benefit derivable from that teaching by priestly wealth, pride and corruption; and those communions which it denominated heretical sects had drawn so near the people by their moral and lowly condition, and by their private and public preaching of the simple gospel of Christ; that the papists realized and sought to obviate this great disadvantage of theirs in winning and retaining the masses.
The Franciscan Order, named for Francis of Assisi (a town in
Those who entered the Orders thereby renounced all freedom of thought and conscience, and became absolutely devoted to the papal service, each Order, like a vast army, acting as the instrument of a single will. Their fundamental principle, not to work, but to live by begging, was in point-blank contradiction to the express Divine commandment both of the Old and the New Testament that man should labor. “The begging friar soon became a by-word for all his ignoble arts, his shameless asking, his importunity which would take no refusal, his creeping into houses, his wheedling of silly women, his having rich men’s persons in admiration because of advantage, his watchings by wealthy death-beds to secure legacies for his house, his promising spiritual benefits, not his to grant, in exchange for temporal gifts. Bonaventura, himself the head of the Franciscan Order, and writing not fifty years after Francis’s death, does not scruple to say that already in his time the sight of a begging-friar in the distance was more dreaded than that of a robber.”
These Orders were most successful Catholic missionaries. They spread with wonderful rapidity, and soon became wealthy, proud and corrupt. It was pretended that each of their founders, Francis and Dominic, performed far more miracles than Christ, and that Francis equaled or surpassed Christ in the glories of his birth, transfiguration, gospel and death, insomuch that, in the minds of multitudes, the idolatrous worship of Francis took the place of the professed worship of Christ.
The Dominicans were so eager and successful in hunting and persecuting heretics that they were called by the people Domini Canes, dogs of the Lord. Teaching that there is virtue in frequent repetitions of forms of prayer, they invented the rosary, a series of prayers and a string of beads by which they were counted.” (Hassell’s History ppg 444, 445)
HOW TO INTRODUCE HERESY
By Elder George Bretz
The above may seem like a strange thing, but strange as it is, other people in whom the Baptists have had confidence have left the “old paths” and have followed after “strange gods.” I was thinking if I should do as others have done, I would:
First. Proclaim far and near that I am an “Old Baptist,” and would get much hurt if any should even think I was departing. I would ransack all the writings of Baptists from away back and find something I could misconstrue to make it sound like what I was saying. If that would not be enough, I would tell the people I had prayed to the Lord and would declare he had revealed it to me.
Second. I would profess fellowship for everything the Baptists preached. I would give everybody my hand on everything they preached and say aloud, “Amen,” when other preachers preached.
Third. I would say, “Let us have no war,” and at the same time preach my new doctrine. I would insist that war among our people would be ruin to us, and say that we were already in a state of anarchy in many places. I would cry, “Peace, peace,” and all the time drag in trouble, trouble.
Fourth. I would say this is all preacher jealousy. I would, in my feigned humility, declare I wished no one harm, but that for some reason the old preachers were all trying to kill me.
I have other reasons to suggest to myself or any others who feel that it is their duty to leave the principles of truth without leaving the church in one jump. But I do not want to leave at present and so will not dream any more just now.
The suggestions above are self-contradictory, of course, but the faith revealed to the saints and the doctrines of men are contradictory. When any prefer to leave, let them leave by direct line. They will find ears to listen to their tale of woe. If any are “blinded” by the perversions of truth, may God deliver them from the snares. If any hunger for truth, may God bring them to us and may the old gospel sound sweeter and sweeter to them.
The Lord bless our faithful, toiling, sacrificing people to go on in the service as of old and keep us all from errors of every kind. [Elder Bretz died in 1938. He baptized nearly 300 persons and preached over 8000 sermons. He was an Associate Editor of Primitive Monitor.] Submitted by Elder Mark Green
HOW TO INTRODUCE NEW THINGS
By Elder Adam Green
If I were going to try to introduce new practices into the church, I would complain loudly that Old Baptists are too hung up on “man-made traditions,” although I would not actually explain what man-made traditions are in the church that I find unscriptural. I would paint “tradition” in as poor a light as possible, and attempt to prejudice the new converts, the young, the weak and the uninformed against tradition with a broad definition. My desire would be to get them to equate anything I identified as “tradition” as wrong. My hope in doing this would be to color any resistance to my Progressive desire as merely traditionalism. When resisted, I would complain that I was being made “an offender for a word” and that other brethren were jealous or playing politics.
I would also attempt to paint myself as zealous. The young especially would
be swayed by my expression of desire to “grow the church” or to
The HUMANITY of Christ (See Elder Lemuel Potter’s article under The INCARNATION) Anthology Incarnation, The
LOVE YOUR WIVES
“Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph 5:25.
Sometimes, it seems that people get the idea the Bible is a Sunday book; but, the Bible is not just a Sunday book. The Bible is to be the man of your counsel every day in the week. And for that matter, if the Bible is not your guidebook from Monday through Saturday, you are wasting your time to consult it on Sunday.
There is a little wall motto I have seen, and no doubt, most of you have seen it. It says, “When all else fails, read the instructions.”
Just about anything you buy, nowadays, comes with an instruction booklet. If you can buy a $3.95 pocket calculator, it will generally come with a little paper leaflet, or if you buy a washing machine, or an automobile, you will get a more comprehensive owner’s manual; but most everything comes with instructions.
Well, the Bible is the owner’s manual for my life and yours. These are God’s instructions for constructing our lives.
There is no situation in which you will ever find yourself, but that the Bible gives full and complete instructions as to how we ought to behave ourselves. It will teach us how to be better citizens, better neighbors, better parents, better hus-bands, better wives, better children. It will teach us how to be better employers, better employees, better business men.
No matter what situation in which we may ever find our-selves, the Bible gives us all the instruction we need as to how we should conduct ourselves in that situation. It does not describe every conceivable detail of every problem we might ever face. If it did, it would be a volume so large nobody would ever read it.
It is not necessary for the Bible to describe every detail of every conceivable problem. But, it does provide broad, basic instructions, and those instructions go to the very heart of every conceivable problem. They give us all the tools we need to work with. If we will apply those principles to our lives, we will get along much better, and we will get along much better with other people.
It is hard to imagine a more important relationship, than the relationship between husbands and wives.
The family and the home are the very foundation of civilization itself. God
established the family and the home, before he provided mankind with any form
of human government. He established the family and the home, before he gave the
Law of Moses to
In the very morning of time, when there were only two people in the world, God provided marriage, provided the family, provided the home, as the very foundation of all human society; and you can count on it, that any time the family and the home begin to fall apart, the way those institutions are falling apart in America today, our very society itself is in danger.
Our society seems to be coming apart at the seams. It is not necessary to recite all the problems we are facing. The people on the six o’clock news keep us well informed. And every time some new outrage takes place, news commentators want to know what is happening? What is causing it? Where is the root cause?
They tell us the solution is that we have to pass more laws against guns; but, we already have more laws against guns than anybody is trying to enforce. Somebody says we need to spend more money on schools; but, we are spending more money per student, even after inflation, than we have ever spent. They tell us we need more school counselors; but, again, we have more counselors than we have ever had, and the situation gets worse. Little feel-good projects will never solve the problem.
“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Ps 11:3.
The foundation of civilization itself is in the loving relation-ship between husbands and wives, and parents and children. And when that foundation begins to fall apart, no band-aid you can put on the problem will ever provide the solution. Our problems began in the home, and if they are ever solved, they will be solved in the home.
A person could make a career out of writing on this subject, and a little booklet like this cannot do more than glance at the subject, and only one aspect of the subject, at that. But while we can never tell everything that needs to be said, I believe we do well to say as much as we can.
Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Notice that this is not a statement of fact, and it is not a promise. It is a commandment. It simply tells us what we are to do. “Husbands, love your wives.”
I am sure that very few people are aware of how society, and the attitudes of society, affect our own way of thinking. We talk the way we think. We listen to others talk, and we learn to think and talk the way others around us think and talk.
In many ways, we are the product of our culture, our environment. Different people, in different countries, and different cultures, think differently. To name just one exam-ple, people talk about how Americans cannot understand the Chinese. We come from a different background than the Chinese. We think differently than the Chinese. We look at things differently than they do.
People who have grown up in a Bible-based environment, who have gone to church Sunday after Sunday, and heard evangelical Christian ministers expounding the moral principles of the Bible, come from an entirely different environment, a different culture, than those who have never been inside a church. Every person born of Adam has the same carnal, sinful nature, but your environment, and the ideas you are hit with day after day, have an effect on the way you think.
In many ways we have allowed the thinking of society to shape our thinking about the marriage relationship. We should rather listen to the Bible to learn what that relationship should be. And because our society is not so well acquainted with the Bible as it should be, much of our thinking about marriage is not nearly as scriptural as we might think it is. Our attitudes often come more from the influence of our friends, than they do from the Bible.
One common expression has to do with what we call falling in love. That is a good and valid expression, and it represents a very real and precious experience with most every married couple. In a moment, I want to make some comments about the time when you first meet that special person, and the bells ring, and the lights flash, and from that day on, nothing is ever the same.
But, notice that is not actually the way this text says it. Notice what the text says, and this is the rule for every child of God. It says, “Husbands, love your wives.” How is the husband to love his wife? “....as Christ also loved the church.” Husbands are to love their wives “as (in the same manner that) Christ loved the church.”
Do you remember reading in the Bible about the Lord falling in love with the church? It does not say it that way, does it? He does not love us because of us; he loves us in spite of us. It was not that we caught his eye, and he was so attracted to us, that he could not help falling in love with us. No. No. No. Ezekiel tells us, “None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field to the loathing of thy person, in the day that thou was born,” Eze 16:5. That does not sound like we were so attractive, we just caught his eye. There was nothing about us to commend his love for us.
But before I say too much on that thought, let me make a few comments about the other side of the question.
We are taught to wait for the time, when we meet that special person, and we are instantly attracted to her, and the lights flash, and the bells ring, and the skyrockets burst in the air. Well, that is very often the way it does happen.
I well remember the first time I ever met my wife. She caught my eye the first time I ever saw her.
When I got out of high school, there were no jobs to be had. Those of you, who are my age, will remember, that in the mid-1950's, jobs were hard to find. Alcoa Aluminum is the major employer in our area, and they had people laid off with twenty years seniority. You could not find a job.
If there had been any jobs, I would have had trouble finding one. I was so thin, when I got out of high school, that my wife will not let me tell in her presence how thin I was. And since she will not allow me to tell it in her presence, I will just keep it to myself. But anyway, I was not a prospect for a job that required any kind of physical exertion.
But, I finally got a job in direct sales. You spell that door-to-door. They do not do that any more. Nowadays, direct selling is done over the telephone—usually while you are eating supper. But back in those days direct selling meant going door-to-door, and the reason you did not have any trouble getting a job in direct selling is that they did not have to pay you, if you did not make a sale. Every dollar you made was a percentage of a dollar you took in.
Those people on the telephone are paid, at least, minimum wage. Federal law requires it. But with those door-to-door sales jobs, they did not even have to pay you that. So it was no problem to get that kind of job. I got a job selling small household furnishings door-to-door. We sold most any small item you could throw on your automobile. We sold on credit, a-dollar-down-and-a-dollar-a-week. That is not a figure of speech; that is the way we did it. A dollar down and a dollar a week. We went back each week to pick up the dollar. I would go door-to-door selling my goods, and collecting those dollars.
Anyway, when I started to work, my wife’s mother had an account with the company. One Tuesday, I went by to pick up the payment. Nobody was home; so I went back that evening. You were required to make back-calls. When I went back that evening, they were all there. It seemed like the whole clan was there. That little house was full of people.
But over in the corner sat one of the prettiest girls I think I ever saw. She was not paying any attention to me, but she sure caught my eye. She was sitting in an easy chair on the other side of the room. I did not say anything; the room was full of people. But the ideas began to form, and the wheels began to turn, and I began to think about the situation.
The next week, I went by at the regular time, on Tuesday morning, to pick up the payment, and she was the only one there; her mother was gone. She came to the door, and brought the receipt card, and the dollar, and paid me. I asked if it would be alright if I came calling that evening, and it would, and I did, and as the expression is, the rest is history.
I did not find out, until years later, that it was by design, that her mother had gone visiting that particular day. And it was by design, that she was at home on Tuesday morning, on a school day. She laid out of school—I had been set up. I got the idea later the whole clan was in on it. I was the only one involved who did not know what was going on.
I am not complaining. Sometimes, God intervenes to do for us what we do not have the judgment, or the foresight, to do for ourselves. I have no doubt the hand of God was involved in bringing us together. I shudder at the thought of how my life might have turned out differently, if it had not been for that series of events. I do not even want to imagine what might have become of me, if I had not had her by my side for all of these years.
There are some people who believe God is the effective and moving cause of everything that ever happens. I do not believe that. God is not the cause of everything that happens in this world. But while that is true, God is still in charge; he still reigns on the throne. He does cause things to happen, and he does stop things from happening.
That is one of the most reassuring of all thoughts. Every evangelical Christian finds comfort in believing it. He believes it, whether he thinks he does or not. The fact that we pray is evidence that we believe God intervenes in the affairs of men. Why would anybody pray, if he did not believe God intervenes in the affairs of men?
Even those who claim to be atheists pray. When they really get in trouble, they pray. I am not entirely sure whether there are any real atheists, in the first place. He may be an atheist five minutes later, but when he gets in a really tight spot, even an atheist prays. And even an atheist believes that God intervenes in the affairs of men, and causes things to happen, or stops things from happening. That is why he prays.
When I look back over my own life, at some of the times when God has clearly intervened in my life, and changed the course of events, I cannot help but marvel at the way he has cared for me, and protected me. Sometimes, he has protected me, most of all, from my own folly.
I do not want to take anything away from the expression falling in love. How we enjoy recalling that special time in our lives.
But the point I am getting to is this: no matter how special a relationship any husband and wife may have, in every marriage there come times, when the lights do not flash, and the bells do not ring, and there are no skyrockets. Nothing. Those special feelings are just not what they were at one time.
Imagine a young couple who have just met. All the right things happen. One thing leads to another. They marry. There are children. Then one day, she is at home with the children. They are all sick, or at least, they are all crying. The phone is ringing. The bill collectors are calling; they want to know where is their money? The landlord wants to know where is the rent? The washing machine is out of balance, and it is bouncing around like it is going to turn over, but she cannot see about it now; she has to change a muddy diaper. She is all stressed out.
There was a time, when I would preach on this, that I would talk about how she was sitting on the edge of the bathtub, leaning over the commode flushing out dirty diapers, til my wife explained to me, “They don’t do that any more; now-a-days, they just load them and throw them away.” But, when ours were in diapers, they did flush them out. It is probably good they did sell the old birdseye diapers, when ours were little. If the disposables had been available, I don’t think we could have paid for them. I have no idea, how many thou-sands of times my wife has there flushing out dirty diapers.
But she is at home; the kids are sick; they are all crying; the washing machine is shaking the house down. She is seeing after one of children, and she thinks she is coming down with the same thing they have, and if that happens, she does not know who is going to change those diapers.
She is wondering, “How in the world did I ever get myself in this kind of mess?” She is wondering, “Where are all those bells now? Where are all those lights, and all those skyroc-kets now? What happened? How did I ever get in this kind of predicament?”
He is in about the same frame of mind. He is broke. The old car is making a racket. He is sure it is liable to quit any time. There was a time when he had the shiniest car on the block. He kept it all waxed and shined, and he was proud of it. Now he would just be glad, if it would start in the morning.
And she does not look the way she used to. The first time he saw her, she was the prettiest little thing he ever saw. He could not keep his eyes off her.
Now, when she gets up in the morning, her hair is in curlers, and the part that is not in curlers is going off in every direction, and she comes paddling through the house in that ratty old housecoat she has been wearing ever since before they got married. And make-up? She has forgotten what that is for.
Then, one day, they go trailing off to a marriage counselor. Now, I don’t want to disparage that profession. A lot of those people give some good advice—and some of them give some mighty bad advice. It would not do to make a blanket condemnation of the profession, but some of their advice is not as good as it could be.
I used to work with a young fellow. He was still in his twenties. He had been married three times, and divorced twice, and he was in process of being divorced the third time. When I worked with him, he was going to night school at the university—studying to be a marriage counselor. I thought, “Fellow, with your track record, you really do need to take some classes on that subject.” I don’t know if he ever became a marriage counselor, but if he did, I am not entirely sure I would recommend his services.
I don’t want to be disrespectful of the profession, and I don’t want to imply that that young man is typical of those who are engaged in that work. I just want to point out that there is a better way.
They explain to the marriage counselor that—along with all the other problems—they just don’t feel the same way they used to feel toward each other. They are not sure they even love each other any more. What do you expect? They fell in love; why should they be so surprised if, after awhile, they fell right back out again.
All this talk about falling in love makes it all sound too much like an accident. You can be sure that, no matter how exciting and all-consuming a love two people may have for each other, building and maintaining that relationship over a lifetime is no accident. If two people want the warmth and the satisfaction of that relationship to survive and to grow, it is up to them to make it happen.
In every marriage there come times, when the bells do not ring, and the lights don’t flash, and the skyrockets don’t burst in air. But, God knew that would happen before he provided us with the benefits of marriage and the home, and, before we had the need, he provided the solution. The Bible gives us all the instructions we need to keep the fire and the excitement in a marriage.
In the text before us he says, “Husbands love your wives.” Those few words are a much more profound statement than most people have ever realized. God can say more in one sentence that the rest of us can say in an hour.
If you go to any large book store, you will find an entire section on self-improvement, motivation, marriage enrichment, and the like. Among other things they will tell you how to generate a better, happier, more congenial marriage.
But the Bible provides all that and more. In the very morning of time, it was God, who performed the first marriage ceremony, and it was God who wrote the first marriage manual. Those instructions are scattered all through the Bible, but there is one book in the Bible, that is almost entirely given over to that one subject.
I am talking about the Song of Solomon. There are two main themes in the Song of Solomon. On one level, the entire book is an allegorical lesson with regard to the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. No human production could paint a more beautiful picture of the relationship between Christ and the church than Solomon paints in the Song of Solomon.
But notice. Solomon uses the relationship between a devoted husband and wife as an allegory—an illustration—of the relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. The two subjects go together. We cannot study the one without learning something about the other.
I enjoy preaching from the Song of Solomon from an allegorical point of view. I enjoy preaching about the sweet and tender relationship between Christ and the church. I like to explain how Christ loves the church, and the church loves her Lord. I like to preach about the way they talk to each other and about each other.
But more often than not, I preach on the book from a practical point of view. I like to show that the relationship between Christ and the church is the pattern for the relationship between husbands and wives.
Once, years ago, I was reading the Song of Solomon. I have no idea how many times I have read it. For many years now, I have made a point of reading the book, at least, once every month. Somebody may wonder, “Do you need to read it that often?” You do, if you want to keep it in your mind. It is a good idea to keep reading it over and over and over.
While I was reading it, I could not help but notice how many times this man told his wife how much he loved her, and how many times she told him how much she loved him. And I wondered, if I talked to my wife the way that man talked to his wife, is it possible that, maybe, just maybe, my wife might talk to me the way that woman talked to her husband. As I recall, about that time, that was not exactly the way she was talking to me.
Did anybody ever tell you, “My wife and I never have short words?” If anybody ever tells you that, do you know what that proves? It proves he will also lie about other things.
Now, I do recall a few times when my wife and I have gone for some period of time without so much as one short word. Well, actually, we were not having any long words either. It would not do to say anything.
But, I wondered, if I talked to my wife the way this man talked to his wife, is it possible that my wife might talk to me the way this woman talked to her husband. I tried it; it works.
One thing I have noticed about wives. They just will not be outdone. If you are mean, and smart-in-the-mouth, and always saying more than you need to say, she can get just as mean, and smart-in-the-mouth as you can. And there is a thing called escalation. Every response raises the discussion to higher level. Each person winds up trying to outdo the other; things get out of hand, and you wind up saying things to each other that leave scars that will never heal. Nobody ever wins that battle.
I have heard that for husbands and wives to fuss and fight is not so bad; that just makes it so much sweeter when you make up. Don’t kid yourself. The only reason it is so sweet to make up is because you were so miserable in the meantime.
On the other hand, if you try to see how considerate and understanding you can be, generally, after awhile, she will outdo you in that way too. She will be more kind, and considerate, and understanding than you are. If I am going to be outdone, I had rather be outdone be outdone that way than to be outdone in the other way, wouldn’t you?
Now, it may take her awhile to figure out what is going on. If you are not used to talking to her that way, it may leave her very bewildered to start with. She may wonder what you are up to. But, if she finally figures out that it is genuine, she will not likely be outdone. But bear in mind that it may take awhile. A huge ship does not turn on a dime; it takes awhile to change course.
The God-ordained relationship between a husband and wife reflects the genius, and the love of God. When God created Eve, he took a rib from Adam’s side. There is a beautiful symbolic lesson in that. He did not take a bone from his foot. That might have signified that the man had the right to grind her under his feet. He did not take a bone from Adam’s head. That might have signified that she had the right to domineer over him. But he took a rib, a bone from his side, to signify that she should be his constant companion. He took a bone, the very nearest to his heart, signifying that she was to be the nearest thing to his heart. He took a bone from just under his arm, signifying that she should be the subject of his constant embrace, the subject of his constant protection.
From that bone he fashioned the woman, and brought her to the man. God performed that first marriage ceremony, and in that ceremony he said, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
Over the years, as two people live together, work together, struggle together, and sometimes suffer together, in a very real sense, they become one. When one is happy, the other is happy. When one is sad, the other is sad. When she hurts, he hurts. My wife has been sick for the last several days. I cannot say for sure, that I would be glad to trade places with her. But I think I would be glad to trade places, at least, for awhile. It hurts me for her to hurt.
I am almost never sick. I am not sure whether I have ever had the flu. I have allergies every now and then. I have just a trace of an allergy right now. It is no real ailment, just a little drainage. I don’t think I have had a cold more than twice, and that was years ago. So it does not seem like such an unfair thought for me to trade places with her for a little while. In some sense, two people really do become one. Anyway, I think I would be glad to trade places, but you cannot do that.
Mothers often feel that way about their children. There have been any number of times a mother has sat by the side of a child, who was burning up with fever. The mother would have given anything if she could just swap places, if she could just crawl in the bed, take the ailment herself, and let the child get up and run and play. She would be glad to do it.
A devoted husband and wife have that kind of feeling for each other. When the Lord said, “They twain shall be one flesh,” he meant it. There is a sense in which two people really do become one.
But, on the other hand, when he said, “They two shall become one flesh,” notice that he did not say, “They shall become one mind.”
I learned a long time ago, that my wife still has a mind of her own. I have been trying for over forty years to teach her to think the way I think—and she just cannot get the hang of it. I get the idea, that she does not want to think the way I think. Somehow or other, she has it in her head that I am not always right.
But, as much as I would like for her to agree with me, she is not supposed to think the way I think. If you ever find a husband and wife who always think exactly alike, that just proves one thing. One them is not thinking.
Husbands and wives do not think alike. God did not intend for us to think alike. That is one of the profound differences between men and women. We do not think alike. For one thing, men have a tendency to be risk-takers. We have a tendency to take chances. We like to think, “It’s alright; I can do it; I can pull it off; I won’t have a bit of trouble.” It does not matter that we have failed the last ten times. We tell ourselves, “I can do it; I know how to handle it.”
Women, generally, have a tendency to be more interested in security. They want to be assured they will have tomorrow what they have today. That is not a universal rule. Of course not. But it does tend to be that way. Men are more apt to be risk-takers; women are more concerned with security.
God intended that, every now and then, she would rain on your parade. He intended for her to help you keep your feet on the ground. Very often, you need that anchor to bring you back to reality.
My wife does not always think the way I do. Sometimes, I look back in retrospect and realize that she was right. I am more idealistic; sometimes I get my head in the clouds. I have a tendency to see things the way I wish they were. She has more of a tendency to see things the way they actually are.
She has not always gone along with every idea I have came up with, and it
has been a great benefit to me that she has not. A few years ago, I was called
as pastor of a church in
Why did I not move to
Now, the thought of moving to
I served the church in
But, after a few years, my work there came to an end—and I did not
even have to move back to
Women are not intended to think exactly like men. We need their point of view to balance and complete our own. It is kind of like a car battery. When you go to an auto supply store to buy a battery, suppose the man told you, “This is a brand new kind of battery. It does not have a negative pole; it has two positive poles. We do not like anything negative; so we have started manufacturing batteries with two positive poles.” Would you buy it? Of course not. You would not have a battery with two positive poles. It would not start anything. The two poles of a battery are supposed to be different.
Men and women do not think alike; they were not intended to think alike, and that is to our benefit.
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.”
That is a commandment. It is not a promise. And it is not a statement of fact. If you want those lights to flash, and those bells to ring, it is your responsibility to make it happen.
But anyway, back to a point I started to make a moment ago. I wondered if I talked to my wife the way that man talked to his wife, might my wife talk to me the way that wife talked to her husband. If I was as careful to tell my wife how much I loved her, and how special she was to me, might she respond in the same way. I tried it; it works.
Several years ago, after I had preached on this subject, somebody asked me, “Brother Hunt, how often do you think I ought to tell her that?” Well, I believe the first thing in the morning, and the last time at night, and just a lot of times in between, is a very good measure.
Now, bear in mind, there are times when that is not the best thing to say. In fact, there are times when nothing you say is right. There are times that the only thing you can do is to take a walk—a long walk—and you would probably do well to be right quiet, when you get back. It might even be a good idea to wait till the next day before you say very much.
But, generally, the first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night, and a lot of times in between is a good enough rule.
But, will she not get tired of hearing you say it? It goes without saying that there will be times when she does not want to hear anything you have to say. Right in the middle of a heated argument is not the best time to say it. At the wrong time, it might sound a little like mockery. But still, that little book, the Song of Solomon, is our instruction manual, and it serves as a mighty good pattern.
Somebody is probably saying, “All of that sounds good, but saying it does not make it so.” You have heard that comment made about a lot of things. And in most instances that is true, but this is one instance, that—over a period of time—if saying it does not make it so, it does make it more so.
God has blessed you to have her, and she is the most precious thing in all the world to you. Why should you feel intimi-dated to tell her early and often how much she means to you. And the most important thing is this: the more you explain to her how much she means to you—the more you realize that fact for yourself. Perhaps, that is the most important point of all. We are all so prone to forget. The better job you do of convincing her, the better job you do of convincing yourself.
What a great benefit God has provided for us in the marriage union. What a beautiful thing it is when two people come together, and love each other, when they live together as husband and wife, and raise children, and grow old together.
For years, I have heard people talk about something called the empty nest syndrome. My wife and I are learning all about that. And I will tell you it is great. We raised four children, and we love every one of them. We are sure those four children are the most special people in the world.
Somebody will surely say, “Now, Harold Hunt, don’t you think you are just a little prejudiced.” Of course, I am prejudiced. They are my children, and I am supposed to be prejudiced.
One of them lives next door. Another lives across town. One lives just
across the highway. And the other lives in
About two years ago, our youngest daughter, and her husband, moved right next door. She was born after we moved here, and she tells us she had wanted to own that house all her life. The man who lived there became very old, and finally died. She called his son the morning after the funeral, before he could get to the real estate broker, to ask if he would sell the house to her. After he agreed to sell her the house, she started jockeying for the price. She wanted the house, but she wanted it at a rock bottom price. But, anyway, they got a good buy, and they moved next door.
She and her husband explained that since my wife and I were getting on in years, they wanted to be next door, so that if one or the other of us got down, and could not get up, they would be close by to help. I don’t think we are quite that feeble yet, But, I suppose it is good to have somebody looking out ahead.
Anyway, most of them live fairly close, and they all call or come by on a very frequent basis. We love for them to come by and visit. But, they have their own homes, and after they finish their visit, it is alright for them to go on home. The empty nest syndrome? Well, yes, we are experiencing it, and it is great. We are enjoying the company of each other. Granted, we have learned to stay out of each other’s way. She spends most of her time, puttering around downstairs, and I spend my days upstairs, buried in a pile of books.
There is something very comforting, something very beautiful, for two people to enjoy growing old together. The children are grown. Generally, the house is paid for. There are not as many responsibilities as there have been in the past. There are not as many debts. Often, the only debt is a car payment. Most of the really big problems, outside of death and dying, are behind them. And those two people can just enjoy the company of each other.
Recently, I had somebody to tell me that it was just a natural consequence, as two people grew older, for them to begin to drift apart. But that is not right. That is not the way it is supposed to be, and it is not the way it has to be. There is no reason two people cannot become closer and closer as every year passes.
My wife is not nearly as young as she was that first time I saw her forty-three years ago. But her smile does as much for me as it did that first day, when all the bells rang, and all the light flashed.
In the Song of Solomon the husband, not only kept telling his wife how much
he loved her, he kept telling her how pretty she was. “Thou art
beautiful, O my love as Tirzah, comely as
Do you get the idea, that no sight in all of nature had the effect on him
the sight of his wife did? “Thou art beautiful, O my love as Tirzah,
In spite of the sin all around us, we live in a beautiful world. In
I enjoy living here in the mountains. I like to travel. I was out in flat
country yesterday. I drove almost four hundred miles each way, there and back,
yesterday. I like to go, but I like to come back home. When I get out in flat
country, it kind of feels like sitting on a stool with no back on it. I know I
don’t lean back against the
I like to drive through the mountains. I don’t often get up in the mountains. I get too busy to take the time. I suppose I am like just about everybody else. Most everybody seems to think he is the busiest person around. That is one of the reasons I enjoy having a visiting preacher. If he stays more than one night, I generally take him to the mountains between the two services. I am not likely to do much except visit with him during the day, anyway, and that lets us experience some of the natural beauty of the land, and at the same time we can visit, and talk about the good things of the Lord. I have lived here all my life, but I have never ceased to wonder at the beauty, and the majesty of these mountains.
I was driving along the interstate, yesterday morning, way before daylight. It was dark as could be, and even driving along in an automobile, the stars were especially bright. Stars are always brighter, the farther you are from the city lights. Yesterday morning, Venus, the morning star, was just blazing. On a cold, clear, moonless night, especially out in the country, the stars are a beauty to behold.
I like to go to the ocean, when the wind is up, and the waves are high. It is an awesome sight when those huge breakers come rushing in to shore. In spite of all the sin there is in the world, this is still a beautiful world.
But having said all of that, there is nothing in all of God’s creation that compares to the feeling that rushes over me, when my wife smiles at me. Awesome as the rest of creation is, it does not have anything to compare. When she smiles at me, all the rest of God’s creation just has to stand aside.
Somebody may say, “Now, Harold Hunt, aren’t you just a little prejudiced?” No, no, I am not a little prejudiced. I am eaten up with it. That is my point, don’t you see? We don’t have to wait for the lights to flash. We don’t have to wait for the bells to ring. It is our job to make to make it happen.
All of that brings me to this: the human mind is a peculiar thing. Thoughts do not usually travel alone; more often they travel in pairs. We associate things in our minds. One thought causes you to think of another. Some things, and some people, just naturally trigger good thoughts, and warm feelings. Others trigger unpleasant thoughts.
If some person has been especially unfair with us, we have trouble thinking about that person without having unpleasant feelings. Sometimes those feelings can be very strong, and sometimes they stay with us for years to come. There may be some person, about whom you have such unpleasant memories that you have a very negative reaction any time you hear his name, or see his face. His very presence makes you uneasy.
That same principle works between husbands and wives. If you become petty, and spiteful with each other, there is a good chance that, when she thinks of you—consciously or subconsciously—the thought that comes to mind will be some unresolved hurt. Those hurt feelings have a way of feeding on each other. Negative thoughts generate negative feelings, and those feelings generate more negative thoughts. We begin a downward spiral that goes on and on, and poisons what could have been a sweet and tender relationship.
Positive thoughts work the same way. Positive thoughts generate warm and positive feelings. And those feelings generate more of the same kind of thoughts.
This is why it becomes such a powerful force for husbands and wives to be constantly reminding each other, and themselves, how much they mean to each other. The mind is rarely ever idle. It is either generating and feeding on good thoughts, or it is generating and feeding on bad thoughts. It is a good idea for husbands and wives to be ever so careful, and so determined to remind each other of their special love, and their special relationship, that anytime the one thinks of the other that is the thought that instinctively comes to mind.
It is when you have so often reminded yourself of that fact, that you cannot think of her without thinking of that special love you have for her, without thinking of all she means to you. You remember all the little kindnesses, all the sacrifices, all the unquestioned devotion. The very thought of her, or the sight of her face, brings that special feeling you have learned to associate with her. Then is when the lights, and the bells, and the skyrockets become a constantly more real part of your experience.
It is then that your marriage begins to most resemble the union between Christ and his bride the church.
John HUSS: Sylvester Hassell: On account of the marriage of
Richard II. of
John Huss (1369-1415) was a man of poverty and affliction all his life of forty-six years. “His is undoubtedly the honor of having been the chief intermediary in handing on from Wycliffe to Luther the torch which kindled the Reformation, and of having been one of the bravest of the martyrs who have died in the cause of honesty and freedom, of progress and of growth towards the light. He added nothing to the intellectual, but immensely to the moral capital of the world. Seldom have the power of conscience and the imperial strength of a faith rooted in Christ asserted themselves in so commanding and heroic a manner.”
He was a humble, upright, God-fearing, straight-forward, unswerving,
conscientious man. He did not discern as much of the truth as did Wycliffe; but
what he did discern he was neither ashamed nor afraid to proclaim to the world.
First a student, then a graduate, a professor and a rector of the
Inconsistently, however, with these doctrines, he taught the Bible doctrine of salvation by the electing love and grace of God, and also the right of private judgment in the interpretation of the Scriptures.
Summoned to appear before the Council of Constance he attended under a safe-conduct of the German Emperor Sigismund, and he was not in the least abashed or intimidated in the presence of that imposing and formidable assemblage. He suffered greatly, but most humbly, in the six long months of his imprisonment.
After his condemnation to death on thirty-nine articles, he fell on his knees in the Council, lifted up his hands, appealed to Heaven and prayed for his enemies. He was then degraded from the priesthood with many childish formalities, but he bore all the insults with meekness and dignity. Delivered to the secular arm, he went with fortitude and even cheerfulness to his dreadful death. Reaching the place of execution, he kneeled and prayed, using especially the fifty-first and thirty-first Psalms, and repeatedly saying, “Into thy hands, Lord, I commit my spirit.”
After being chained by his neck to the stake he was again called upon to recant, but answered that he could not unless convinced of his error; that his chief aim had been to teach men the necessity of repentance and the forgiveness of sins according to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When the fire had been kindled, he sang with a loud voice the Kyrie
Eleison, “Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy upon me.”
His voice was stifled by the flames, but his lips were seen for some time
afterwards to move as if in prayer. The ashes of the body were cast into the
The Great I AM: Proof Texts:
Ex 3:13-15, And Moses said unto God, Behold,
when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of
your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?
What shall I say unto them. And God said unto Moses, I am that I am:
and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of
Joh 8:57-58, When said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Joh 4:25, The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Joh 6:35, And Jesus said unto them, I am that bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Joh 8:12, The spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Joh 10:9, I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.
Joh 10:10, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Joh 11:25, Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Joh 13:19, Now I tell you before it come, that, when it come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.
Joh 14:6, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 15:1, I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”
Joh 18:6, As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.”
I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH
“See, I have set before thee this day, life and good, and death and evil, in that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply, and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away and worship other gods, and serve them, I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land whither thou passest over Jordan to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live,” De 30:15-19.
The majority opinion in religious circles is that every person comes into this world with a responsibility, either to choose eternal life, and live in heaven, or to reject God, to reject eternal life and to suffer in all eternity. And those who advocate that notion are convinced they have Bible proof for their doctrine.
I have heard people say that every denomination can prove their doctrine, if you will just allow them to select their own proof texts. That is not true. The only thing you can prove by the Bible is the truth. The Bible is one harmonious fabric throughout. If there is one verse in the Bible that teaches eternal heaven is conditioned on our choice, you will not find one verse that denies it. On the other hand, if you find one verse in the Bible that teaches our home in eternal heaven is based on the sovereign grace of God, you will not find one verse in the Bible to deny that.
The Bible is in agreement with itself. We cannot go through the Bible and pick out what we want, and reject all the other. I want it all. Solomon said, “Buy the truth and sell it not,” Pr 23:23. I am not willing to surrender so much as one verse to those who advocate error.
But the objector says, “Now, wait a minute, Harold Hunt; you have contradicted yourself. You started out with a text that teaches our doctrine; listen to what it says. ‘See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil.” He says, “If that is not plain enough, verse nineteen says ‘I call heaven and earth to record against you this day that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”
At first glance, those verses do seem to teach the doctrine of salvation by man’s free will. Our carnal minds are much more conditioned to accept error than they are to accept truth. And if we are not careful, we will read into a passage something it does not say.
The best way to understand the Bible is, first off, don’t argue with the Book. Let it say what it says.
The Bible does not require nearly as much interpreting as most people imagine it does. Every now and then I hear somebody make a statement that sounds very good. Error can sometimes sound very much like the truth. Somebody says, “I always interpret the Bible literally.” That sounds good, doesn’t it? “I always interpret the Bible literally.”
The fact is that you cannot interpret any document literally. Somebody says, “Now, wait a minute, Harold Hunt. What kind of statement is that?” But do you see? You either interpret something, or else you take it literally; you cannot do both. If you interpret anything, you are not taking it literally.
There are some passages that must be interpreted. The types, shadows, figures, symbols, parables, and some of the prophecies, must be interpreted in order to understand what is being said.
For instance, the metaphors of the Bible must be interpreted. The Bible refers to Christ as ‘that Rock. “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ,” 1Co 10:4. The word rock is a metaphor; it needs to be interpreted. The Lord is not a stone; he is represented by a stone. He is like a stone; he is solid and enduring.
There is some of the Bible that must be interpreted; but there is not much. With most of it, you should just let it say what it says.
And in this text that is all you have to do. It does not take a lot of interpreting to see what he is saying. Just keep reading. It will explain itself.
Verse fifteen, “And the Lord, thy God, shall bless thee in the land
whither thou goest to possess it.” He is not talking about gaining a home
in heaven; he is talking about life or death in the land---the
But lest we might have missed it, in verse eighteen he says, “I
denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish , and that ye shall not
prolong your days upon the land.” He wants to make sure we get the
point. He is talking about life in the
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore, choose life that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him for he is thy life and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” verses 19, 20.
He says the same thing three times in rapid succession, and if somebody does get it by the third time, there is not much need to say it the fourth time.
Very often, we preachers repeat ourselves. If I repeat myself, it is an indication that I probably forgot my place. I repeat myself trying to remember where I was, and where I was headed. But God never loses his place. If he repeats himself, he repeats himself for our benefit.
He repeats himself, because we might have missed it the first time. He repeats himself, generally, in slightly different words, because he knows the tendency of the sinful heart of man to gainsay and twist the Scriptures. He knows there are those who will look at a verse and say, “Well, that does not mean exactly what it says; here is what it really means,” and they twist it to fit their own point of view.
But there is often another verse that says the same thing in slightly different words. I call that the gotcha text. A person figures out a way to dodge one text, but when he has dodged it, all of a sudden, here comes another verse, from another direction, and it catches him. By twisting the first text, he places himself squarely in the cross-hairs of the gotcha text.
This text has absolutely nothing to do with eternal heaven. It has
everything to do with the
I think I have said enough to demonstrate that this text does not belong to those people who teach that eternal heaven is conditioned on your works. They can twist it all they want to, but it will never fit their system.
But, on the other hand, very often we deal with this text, and others like it. We prove that it does not belong to those who teach error. And when we are satisfied we have proved our point, we leave it alone.
This text does not teach what the majority of religious people think it does, but it does teach something. And I would like for us to spend the rest this little booklet looking at what it does teach.
What it does teach is very unsettling. Isaiah said, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God, speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all he sins,” Isa 40:1.
The gospel message is a comforting message, but there are some parts of Bible truth that scare the living daylights out of me. I fear that sometimes we preachers only preach about the comforting parts, because when we preach on the warnings of the Bible, people get upset at us. But the Lord’s preaching often upset people. God did not call us to rock people to sleep.
What this text does teach can be very unsettling. I believe God’s people need to be stirred up---stirred up about those things we do wrong. We need to caution God’s children about how we suffer, when we experience the chastening rod of God.
Paul said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31. “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom,” Ps 111:10, and if the warnings of God do not scare you, they ought to.
To get the background of our text we need to go back to chapter
twenty-seven. “And Moses with the elders of the children of
“Therefore it shall be that when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set these stones which I command you this day in Mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster....And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly,” De 27:4,8.
“And Moses charged the people the same day saying, “These shall
In chapter twenty-eight(De 28), we
read the blessings that were promised. When
“Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field,” De 28:3. That pretty well covers the territory, doesn’t it? In the city, in the field, wherever they happened to be, God would shower blessings on them.
“Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, and the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep; blessed shall be thy basket and thy store; blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest; the Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face; they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.” De 28:4-7.
That fairly well covers the ground. You are going to be blessed in the city; and you are going to be blessed in the field. Your crops are going to prosper. Your herds and your flocks will increase. You enemies will flee from you. Every way you go, and every where to turn, you are going to experience the blessing of the Lord.
They were a blessed people. Do you remember when they first sent the spies
to spy out the land? When the spies returned, among other things, they brought
back a cluster of grapes carried by two men on a pole (Nu 13:23).
“And it shall come to pass that if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to do all his commandments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land. And the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out, De 28:15-19.
The word cursed is a strong word, isn’t it? It is an even stronger word when God uses it. Men curse each other all the time, and all it does is reveal the mood somebody is in, and it reveals his manner of expressing himself. But when God pronounces a curse, that is something else again. In this text God pronounces a curse on those who despise and neglect his law.
There are some things in the Bible that scare the life out of me. One of the scariest passages in the Bible is Mt 18:6. The Lord says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Let me ask you; did you ever hear anybody say, “That man would be better off dead.” Sure you have. Imagine that God might say that about you.
That is what he said. “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were drowned (stone cold dead) in the depth of the sea.”
I have never lost so much sleep over anything, as I have lost over that verse. I have lain awake, staring at the ceiling, fearful that I might have said something, or done something, that injured one of the Lord’s little ones. The penalty is frightening.
Any time you have an inclination to strike out at somebody, it would be a good idea to quote that verse before you say anything. The Lord said you would be better off with a millstone around your neck, lying on the bottom of the sea, than to injure one of his little ones.
“Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out,” De 28:19.
Salvation is by grace, but that does not change the fact that God has given us some guidelines as to how we ought to live, how we ought to conduct ourselves, here in this life.
The heart of the Law of Moses is expressed in the Ten Commandments. Did you ever notice that he did not say a thing about the Ten Suggestions? Those are not suggestions.
Even in our gospel day we can get confused about that. Did you ever notice the way we conduct our services? We sing; we pray; we preach; and then we give the invitation. I don’t recall the Lord ever inviting anybody to be baptized. If it is an invitation, you have the option to decline. There is no option to decline. If you have a hope in Christ Jesus, God has commanded you to be repent and be baptized, and it is not an invitation; it is a commandment.
“And all the people that heard him, and the publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John,” Lu 7:29. That does not mean they caused God to be just; rather they declared him to be just. They declared that God is just in all he says and does. He is just in all he requires of us. He is just in requiring us to be baptized.
“The publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized by him.”
The Lord drew a clear, and distinct, boundary line between gospel obedience and disobedience. And he showed that water baptism is that line. Those who obey God, those who justify God, are those who are baptized in water, and those who refuse to follow the Lord in baptism reject the counsel of God against themselves.
What does it mean when is it says they “rejected the counsel of God against themselves?”
Let me illustrate it this way. Some time or other you might have started to say something to somebody, and he knew what you were about to say. He had heard it before. And he tells you, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.” Let me ask you. What did he just do? He rejected your counsel, didn’t he? He told you, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.”
It is amazing how simple this book gets, if you just let it say what it says. Don’t argue with it; just let it say what it says.
“The publicans justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John, but the Pharisees rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.”
They rejected God’s counsel. In effect, they told God, “Don’t say it; I don’t want to hear it.”
When God tells us to repent and be baptized, he is not giving an invitation. That is a commandment. God gave the very best heaven had for my redemption and yours. There is nothing you can do to earn it. But God requires that we express our gratitude, not to gain heaven, not in order to become his child, but in order to enjoy that life of obedience, and blessing, that is available to us in this life.
Back to Deuteronomy. In De 28:20, he
begins to specify exactly what he is talking about. He gives us the details.
These would be the consequences if
He has already told them, “Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.” Your flocks, your crops, and your herds, will all be under the curse.
“The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me,” De 28:20.
What does that word perish mean? Does it mean they would go around, perhaps, with a headache all the time? They would have a backache, an upset stomach, and just walk around in a fog? That is not what he is talking about. That is not what he means when he says they would perish.
Perish? That means stone cold dead, six feet under. Stone cold dead in the grave.
I know there are a lot of people, who have the idea you are not going to die until your time comes. You are not going to die a moment before, and you are not going to live a moment longer. The Bible does not teach that, and I don’t believe it.
Every now and then, you may run into somebody, who has some idea of what our people believe, and he may tell you, “I agree with you Primitive Baptists on one thing; you are not going to die until your time comes; and when your time comes, you are out of here.”
It is strange that the one thing they pick to agree with Primitive Baptists about is something we do not believe.
Some time ago, I had the funeral of a man who was killed in a car wreck. He was not a religious man. In fact, he had no interest at all in religion. But I was the pastor of the church in the community, and they called on me to preach his funeral. He had been out on Saturday night, visiting the local drinking establishments. That was his custom. But anyway, he had drunk more alcohol than he could handle. It impaired his judgment, and he went blazing off down the road; he missed a curve, and hit a tree, and was killed instantly.
Let me ask you. Do you believe it just came his time to die, or do you believe if he had been at home with his family, behaving himself, he might have woke up the next morning in his own bed, alive and well? I don’t believe God predestinated that he would die that night, any more than I believe he predestinated that he would visit all those drinking establishments.
No, the scriptures tell us, “Bloody and deceitful men shall not live
out half their days,” Ps 55:23.
Again, he says, “Why shouldest thou die before thy time?” Ec 7:17. A person can shorten his days by the way
he behaves himself. God told
In verse twenty-one, “The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto
thee until he have consumed thee off the land,” De 28:21. Disease means that somebody is sick; pestilence
means a lot people, or maybe, most everybody is sick. That happened to
“The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with a sword, and with blasting, and with mildew, and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron,” De 28:22-23.
This word brass is one of those words that need interpreting. It does not mean the heavens will one day be made out of metal. It means there will not be any rain. You do not get rain out of brazen heavens.
He goes on to say, “The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder, and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee until thou be destroyed,” De 28:24.
We are very well blessed in
But we still see what can happen from time to
time, and in some areas. There is a terrible drought at this time in
In a limited way, God gives us demonstrations of what he can do over a much broader area, when he chooses to. Our nation has such great capacity. Our technology can accomplish things that stagger the imagination, but it has its limits. The western states have been on fire for weeks, and they cannot put out the fires. If we can build rocket ships, and computers, and microwaves, you would think we could put out fires. We have been putting out fires, since the dawn of time. But simple jobs become impossible, when they become as big as those fires are.
It did happen to
“The Lord shall smite thee with the botch of
About nineteen years ago there was another ailment that came out of
In some states, you can be prosecuted for stating publicly that A.I.D.S. is
God’s judgment on that immoral segment of society. It is called a hate
crime. Well, we don’t have that law in
I feel sorry for the way those people are suffering. I feel sorry for anybody, when they suffer the wrath of God, but it does not change the fact that God did say he was going to do exactly what he has done.
“Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore thou shalt serve thine enemies, which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and he shall put the yoke of iron upon thy neck until he have destroyed thee,” De 28:47-48.
God gave the
He commanded them to work six days, and set aside the seventh day as a Sabbath of rest. He commanded them, more than that, that they should work six years, and rest the seventh year. That seventh year was to be a sabbatic year. That is where we got the word sabbatical, an extended leave from your employment. God told them to allow the land to lie fallow the seventh year. They should not put out any crops.
The next question was: “What are we going to live on the seventh year?” God promised that he would cause the land to bring forth double the sixth year. They would not need to work the seventh year. How could he do that? He is God; he can do anything he wants to do.
He promised, “Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years,” Le 25:21.
He promised that, every time seven times seven years passed (that is forty-nine years), they could take off the fiftieth year as well. The land would bring forth three times as much the forty-eighth year. They would not have to work the forty-ninth year nor the fiftieth.
“And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years,” Le 25:8. Every time seven sabbatic years passed, they were to celebrate the Jubilee.
“Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, on the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land, And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family,” Le 25:9-10.
Jubilee is the Hebrew word for a ram’s horn. On the day of atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, of the fiftieth year they were to blow on the ram’s horn, and “proclaim liberty throughout all the land.” Every bondman was to be set free, and all property was to be returned to its original owners.
If anybody had been sold into slavery, he was to be set free on that day. If anybody had sold his ancestral home, or if, maybe, his grandfather had sold it, he was to get it back. They were to have total land reform every fifty years.
The law also provided that the closer they got to the year of Jubilee, the less they could charge for the land, because they would have to give it back before long.
The Lord said if the land did not enjoy its Sabbaths while they were in the land, it would enjoy its Sabbaths while they were gone. Well, what happened? At the end of the first sixth years, they figured they were a year ahead; the land had produced double that year. They intended to stay ahead; so they went ahead and worked the land the seventh year.
They thought they could outsmart the Lord. There is no record that
At the end of fifty years, they figured that if they had bought the
property, it was theirs to keep. You have heard the expression:
“Possession is nine tenths of the law.” They figured that if they
had paid for the land, and they were in possession of it, they might as well
keep it. And they did keep it, until God sent Nebuchadnezzar to carry them all
Every fifty years they were to have total land reform. What an economic benefit that would have been for the entire nation. The rich could have never oppressed the poor. Every Israelite, no matter how poor, would have his own farm on which he could earn a livelihood for himself and his family.
The rich could accumulate all the property they wanted, and keep it forever, so long as they accumulated the property inside a walled city. The Law of the Jubilee did not apply to property inside walled cities (Le 25:30). They did not have to give that property back. But, outside the cities, all the farm land was to be redistributed every fifty years. So far as their economy was concerned, every fifty years, the entire nation would get a fresh start.
No nation has ever had a system so calculated to protect both the rich and the poor. There was no limit to how rich any person could become, so long as he accumulated his property inside the city. But no class of people could ever become rich in such manner that they could prevent their hard working neighbors from earning their livelihood by the own labors.
What happened? They ignored God’s law. God said that if they would not serve him in the land, they would serve somebody else outside the land. If the land did not enjoy its Sabbaths while they were in the land, it would enjoy its Sabbaths when they were gone.” If they did not set the captive free, and return the land in the year of Jubilee, they would themselves become captives, and others would live on their lands.
God sent an entire train of eastern conquerors. Pul the king of
Nebuchadnezzar was the last. He carried the last of
But the point is simply this: Because they would not allow the land to enjoy its Sabbaths the way God commanded, the land enjoyed its Sabbaths while they were gone. Because they would not serve God, they found themselves in bondage, serving their enemies. You cannot rob God. You cannot hold out on God.
But there is more. “Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee in the siege and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee,” De 28:53.
At first sight, that sounds like cannibalism.” Let’s back up and read it again. “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons, and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.” De 28:56-57 goes on, “The tender and delicate woman among you which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness; her eye shall be evil against the husband of her bosom, and for her son, and for her daughter, and toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children, which she shall bear, for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.”
What is he talking about? This is one of those verses that do not need any
interpreting. It means exactly what it sounds like it means. He was talking
about a time when
Bear in mind that he is not talking about natives on some remote island in
the South Pacific. He is not talking about some tribe in the heart of
In the year 70 A.D. the Roman general Vespacian invaded the
Even then, it was not a general practice. There were only a few instances of it; but it did happen.
The cannibals of the South Pacific, and the cannibals of
After five months, the city of
In these last several verses of chapter twenty-eight, we have the history of the Jewish people for the last two thousand years. God can do that. All is one eternal now with him; he can write history in advance as well as he can after the fact. It is a very concise history of what has happened to them; but concise as it is, it is very clear and to the point.
“And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people from the one end of the earth even unto the other,” vs. 64. Jewish historians call that scattering, the diapsora. For two thousand years now, the Jewish people have been scattered to the four winds.
“And there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. And among all these nations, thou shalt find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest. And the Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind,” De 28:64-65.
That is so true to their history for the last two thousand years that comment is hardly necessary. For two thousand they have been scattered among the gentiles. They have found no ease; their foot has found no rest. What they have found has been “a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind.”
There can be no question that the Jewish people are, even today, suffering the consequence of their own rejection of God. But that does not give anybody else the right to pitch in and try to help the Lord to punish them.
In the year 1348, when the Black Death spread all over Europe, one third of
the population of
Let me make one point. It is one thing to make the objective statement that the Jews have suffered the chastening rod of God. When the Lord was crucified, they cried out, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” Mt 27:25. There can be no doubt that God granted that request. It is one thing to talk about that as an objective fact. It is something entirely different to talk as if we would like to pitch in and help the Lord to chastise them.
God told them the consequences, and it did happen. I read about the way they have suffered, and I learn from it, but I gain no joy in seeing the way they have suffered. We should be very careful lest we glory in the suffering of others.
“And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life,” De 28:66. There has never been a people to whom this passage applies the way it has applied to the Jewish people for the last two thousand years.
“In the morning thou shalt say, ‘Would God it were evening; and
at evening thou shalt say, Would God it were morning, for the fear of thine
heart wherewith thou shalt fear and the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt
see. And the Lord shall bring thee into
Those Jews who survived the siege of
First it says, “Ye shall be sold unto your enemies for bondmen and
bondwomen.” That indicates that some of them were successfully sold as
slaves. But then it goes on to say, “No man shall buy you.” That is
no contradiction. Some of them were sold, and others could not be sold. After
the fall of
That was in the year 70 A.D. I do not know what the price of a Jewish slave
was in that year, but I do know what the price was 60 years later.
I have said all of that to get to this. How do you think all of this applies to believers in this day?
Do you believe that in this gospel day it is easier for gentiles to get away with sin than it was for the Jews in that day? Do you believe God is more tolerant of sin today? Do you believe he has mellowed in these last days?
Sometimes, grandparents will let the grandchildren get away with things that would have gotten their children’s backsides dusted. Very often a parent says, “If I send those kids to Momma’s house, she lets them get away with things she would have set me on fire for. She can keep those kids for one day, and it takes me a week to bring them back under control.”
Do you think God is that way? Do you think God has mellowed in these last days?
Don’t you believe it. Paul dealt with this very question. Listen to what he said in Hebrews chapter ten, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace,” Heb 10:26-29.
To paraphrase it, Paul is saying, “Don’t think you are going to get off as light as those Jews did.”
It may sound strange to talk about not getting off as light as the Jews did after we have been talking about all the horrific suffering they have experienced; but is exactly what the Bible teaches. Listen to what it says.
“Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. For we know him that hath said, “Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people,” Heb 10:29-30.
This is not talking about eternal judgment; this is talking about judging his people right here and now. “It is a fearful to fall into the hands of the living God,” Heb 10:31.
Who is that talking about? Is he talking about the wicked who are going to suffer eternally? No. He has already explained it. He says, “The Lord shall judge his people.” This is talking about God dealing with his people here in this life.
In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat, because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Mt 7:13-14”
This is not talking about eternal damnation, but it is talking about some kind of destruction. And when God calls something destruction, and tells us, this destruction is in store for somebody---this side of the grave---we do well to take notice.
On the cross the Lord took care of everything on the other side of the grave. But on this side of the grave, he says, “This destruction is waiting for you, if you continue to walk the road to destruction.”
“Enter ye in at the strait gate, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat,” Mt 7:13. There are a lot of people who will tell you the child of God cannot make shipwreck of his life. Don’t you believe it. Every one of us knows children of God who have done just that.
At this point I am inclined to give specific examples of friends of mine who have made shipwreck of their lives. They have followed that broad road, and they have brought destruction on themselves. But I fear that if I become too explicit in describing their experiences, it will be too easy for others to recognize the individuals I am talking about, and I certainly do not want to embarrass anybody. They have suffered enough; I do not want to add further embarrassment.
Most of you could furnish examples of your own. Most of us have friends, who, we are convinced, are children of God. We have worshiped with them in church. We have seen evidence of the Spirit of God in their lives. We have seen them rejoice under the power of the Spirit. Nobody could convince us they are not children of God. And yet they have made shipwreck of their lives.
How very often a child of God becomes careless and unconcerned about spiritual things. Perhaps, he is not doing anything that would get him in trouble, or even embarrass him. He is just not as spiritual as he once was. He becomes more concerned with material things than he is about his own spiritual well being. Then he begins to allow little transgressions to creep into his life.
Solomon said, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil our vines, for our vines have tender grapes,” Song 2:15. At the outset he has no trouble with the most grievous offences. He would never consider doing anything that would jeopardize his reputation. But those little foxes grow up. Little offences give way to worse transgressions. Before long he begins to cover things up, until he begins to do things he would never have considered before.
Any of you can finish the story. We all know somebody who has lost his home in the church. Perhaps, his wife finds out about his conduct, and she puts him in the street. She takes his home, his business, his bank account.
He loses his home, his income, his security. One thing leads to another. Before long he is destitute. Sometimes, when a person begins to trifle with sin, it does not take long to go from comparative affluence to being a virtual derelict. How often we have seen somebody lose a profitable business, a beautiful home, a loving family, all because of his own misconduct.
He gets in distress, emotionally, physically, and financially. His health fails. His judgment failed when he began to experiment with sin; but it gets worse. His friends begin to wonder if he is losing his mind. I could give examples, with which some of you are well acquainted. They have lost everything worth having. But, again, I do not want to embarrass anybody.
In the text we quoted before, “Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth unto destruction, and many there be that go in thereat,” Mt 7:13. How very many of the children of God we have watched go through that broad gate of destruction.
“Of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace. For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord, and again, The Lord shall judge his people,” Heb 10:29-30.
When the Lord said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing” (De 30:19), he was not talking about eternal life and eternal death, he was not warning against eternal damnation, but he was warning against the dreadful suffering the Jewish people have suffered for almost two thousand years now. And he was talking about the living death many of his people are experiencing in this day.
Indeed, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:27).
I Hear Crying!!!
Deafening Cries of Silent Millions
M. Macena Berry
Elon College, NC 27244
Primitive Publications and The Primitive Baptist Library were established by Elder W.J. Berry Sr. (1908-1986)
An Infant's First Precious Cry
A Mother's heart is filled with joy,
Her Infant's first cry to hear!
Her happy lips, God's praise t'employ;
Forgotten, now all pain and fear!
After the anguish, comes the morn,
Fulfilling God's gracious will;
Behold! a precious child is born!
Her empty arms with love to fill!
The heavenly Father's gift of love,
The pair's blissful love to seal;
Winging fervent praise above,
In humble gratitude now kneel.
But what if that Mother's list'ning ear
Is never to hear the little cry?
And naught but silence is to hear?
Dear God, we must not ask Thee why!
The awful stillness breaks the heart,
And through long hours waits in vain,
When all hope and jay depart,
Remembered then the fruitless pain!
But sometimes, our hearts must bleed!
That little cry is forever stilled!
Committed, a foul and wicked deed,
And by its own mother it is killed!
What can we say? A mother willed
That her precious darling die?
With love, her life would have filled;
She did not want to hear its cry!
How could a Mother to Monster turn?
A sacred life to cast away!
Unloved, unfit only, as waste, to burn!
For such a mother, can we pray?
Oh yes, dear Lord, her greatest need,
That true repentance You might give!
For Thy mercy, dear Lord, we 'plead,
That even she might with Thee live!
This is a subject about which I do not want to write! I would rather attempt to write about lovely things, and tell of the beautiful characters I have known. I would like to attempt the description outside my sun porch window; to tell of the awakening dawn, and how the evening shadows fall quietly over the countryside; to tell of the thrush's evening vespers; even to describe the peaceful, calming sound of the lowly insects, as they tune up for their night-time symphony; to tell of the fireflies' glow from the lantern they carry through the darkness. Then I would like to tell of the plaintive coo-cooing of the dove, and the robin's cheerful song, admonishing the dove to "cheer-up, cheer-up," it is now the time to sing the morning praises to God!
This is how I would wish to spend the closing days of my life, pointing to the lovely scenes which have blessed me. I would wish others might thrill to them through my vision, so that they might join in God's praise.
But the portrayal of His work in the earth, must, at least for a while, be neglected. For I hear crying! The silent cries of the innocent millions sound in the heart so loudly that it deafens us to the loveliness and beauty. It silences the music and song of life!
We begin by pointing to the most beautiful story we may read. This is in the book of Genesis. It is the story of Beginnings! But it leads us to the sad subject which presently weighs upon my heart. It tells the story of the creation of LIFE, coming directly from the hands of the Almighty in its perfection. It is a most sacred fact to consider at this time in the world when life is often valued so lightly, and so wickedly destroyed!
From the great void this story beautifully tells us that our Creator made man in His own image! He is the only one of His creatures who is created in the image of God! Then He said, "It is not good for man to live alone." Our beautiful mother, Eve, was His crowning creation! Then He performed the very first marriage for that first man and woman. Thus did He plan for the continuance of this earth's population. He blessed this first pair....and said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."
Because of their disobedience God said unto the woman, ….I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee."
God made the wonderful provision for the procreation of the human race. It was pure and sacred from His righteous, almighty hand. But that very first sin, through the ages has contaminated this marvelous power given to man and woman. Today it has been so greatly misused and abused, and has become the source of many evils. And now, this ability to "replenish the earth" is being disregarded, even to the destruction of little lives who are conceived by this miraculous provision for the continuance of our race.
Then "Adam knew Eve, his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain." This first-born son by the marvelous provision, because sin had entered, became the first murderer, and would kill the brother who was given to Adam and Eve!
Now, These Deafening Cries!
I hear crying! The piteous cries become so deafening that they obliterate all else. It is the pathetic cry of the helpless. The silent cries are those little ones, who would not be allowed to cry, which sound more loudly in my ears--and in the heart--as the years grow old! The ear may be deaf to the silent cry, but the breaking heart hears the silence in all its pathos.
As I hear these silent cries, I think surely, someone must cry for them! They cannot speak, so someone must speak for them! Who can do this as well as, or perhaps better, than a mother who has been richly blessed to hear that cry three times. And happily more, who heard their childhood laughter, and sometimes lovingly dried their tears.
For the past several months the cries have increased in my heart. In the waking night-time hours, I have lain and "spoken" and have "written" the pent-up emotions. I have resisted going public with the heart-breaking appeal to mothers who bear this awesome guilt. Many times, in discussing the sadness of this, I have expressed the wish that I were younger, and I could actively do something to help women see the great crime that is being perpetrated against the innocent; as well as to the nation, which might have been blessed by these little lives. Above all, I'd wish to plead with them to discontinue this wicked rebellion against God!
Edmond Burke gives to us much wisdom in one sentence: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is that good men do nothing!"
And it would seem that men are not doing enough to prevent this great sinful rebellion of women. For they are refusing to follow the Creator's purpose in the earth, and killing the fruit of their womb!
In my own hesitation to make this plea, I have told myself, I am no scholar. The silent response: You are a mother! Then I said, I am no scientist. I cannot explain the intricate formation of a tiny life! Again, the inner voice said: But you know a life is being destroyed! Life is sacred; it should be nourished and protected! Another problem confronts me: If I should write, who will read it? Those needing it most will not heed it! But that conscience within will not be silenced! Are you waiting, in vain, for other mothers to cry against this evil? Perhaps there are others who, like you, do care, but who may feel their inadequacy to undertake the task of pleading with mothers to discontinue this horrible sin. All that is required is compassion, love, and pity for the little helpless lives! If only someone, somewhere, should
be encouraged to spare even one little life, who can tell what a blessing this one life might be to the world?
I know the silenced cry of one dear little boy, who was born at full term. The long night of labor ended early that gloomy morning with solemn silence. There was not the happy cry longed for by mothers, which brings joy and causes the suffering to quickly be forgotten. To recount the story of that day sixty-five years later, brings the tears today. Oh, the awful silence of the cry that is never to be heard!
IN THE BOSOM OF GOD
We lay our tiny infant down
In its bed of cold, damp clay!
The skies wept torrents of tears
On that dark November day!
I longed to hold it close to my heart,
With soft blankets to enfold,
To hold it close and keep it warm,
Away from the rain and cold.
The wind sighed and sobbed with me,
Through the long sorrowing night;
Lovingly-made garments useless lay,-
1 could not bear the sight!
These could not warm my darling now,
In its clay bed, cold and wet,
While I wept with aching heart
Beside the empty bassinet!
So I grieved for my darling there,
'Neath the cold November sod,
Till through rifted clouds I saw him,
Fondled in the arms of God!
But what about the millions of helpless cries of the innocent ones who were not allowed to cry ?? Were their little cries forever stifled by some foul enemy? No! I must shout it--NO! It was their mothers who silenced the piteous cries of God-given life! These are little human beings, which possess the characteristics of mother and father, as well as often, of the older ancestors in their little features, or in their general manner of life. Each one is a sacred life!
Did our Creator, God, form a mother for this? No! The very word, "Mother," means: tender love, nourishing care. It means to cherish, to protect their babies with their own life, if necessary! Her tenderness is expressed by the fury of a bear robbed of her cubs, if they are in danger.
Whence comes this Monster (we cannot call her Mother), who could allow a tiny, helpless one, a part of her own self and the father, to be destroyed by an agonizing death! We must realize the methods used to perpetrate this foul deed!
LET US VIEW THIS METHOD
The helpless little being is either cruelly burned slowly to death by a strong salt solution; or, it is pulled painfully apart, limb from limb. It is reported that the little being suffers about five hours by the first cruel method, before it finally dies in agony! In the second method, the little parts, so cruelly severed, are then cast into a dumpster to be taken to an incinerator!
Recently I heard a minister speaking of this. He spoke of remembering the cruelty of some boys he knew in his boyhood days. They were having fun by pulling the legs and wings from the grasshoppers. It had horrified him! He could still feel the awful horror of such cruelty, many years before.
Worse than this, however, is what is now called a "partial birth" abortion! At this time this is allowed, legally, only seconds before the delivery is completed. The little head is cruelly punctured, allowing the contents to drain away. Then it is delivered, DEAD! Oh, too bad! The baby is still-born, perhaps someone says with a careless shrug! This is done by being as careful as possible to minimize the pain for the mother! How could she ever forget the agony of her tiny baby ? ? ?
What agony the baby endured, and could not cry! Just seconds later it could have cried, and been lovingly comforted in its mother's arms!
This awful crime is perpetrated for the specific purpose of preventing the charge of murder! It is infanticide in its most heinous manner. God will judge it so--notwith-standing the one who leads our lovely country saying it is to save the mother's life.
When a man has committed a dastardly crime, and the judge has given him the death sentence, his death is to be as merciful as possible. Our babies, who are as innocent of wrong as possible for human beings, are tortured to death without a qualm!
Can it be wondered that this poor mother is silenced in her desire to describe lovely things? The cries of this holocaust drowns out the attempt to describe our beautiful country!
We called the awful slaughter of six million Jews by Adolph Hitler a cruel holocaust. What must we say when this supposed-to-be Christian nation has allowed already, more than five times six million, innocent babies to be destroyed? Is this not a greater holocaust of helpless little human beings?
If I hear the deafening cries, just a poor human mother, surely the cries of our babies are heard by our Father in heaven! We remember that, just as the blood of righteous Abel cried to God from the ground, the cries of millions of innocent ones are coming up to Him! The sin of the mother who allows this destruction is greater than the sin of Cain, who slew his brother. What must the eternal cry of a mother be who has silenced the cry of her babies-unless she is brought to heart-broken penitence.
I am a mother. Motherhood was not easy for me. But I have three noble sons, now all are loving fathers and grandfathers; one, as mentioned before, whose infant cry was never heard. I was assured that he was safe in the heavenly Father's arms. The other, my severely anemic-weakened body could not support, was lost by an early miscarriage. I considered it a death. So I had conceived two darling little ones whose joyfully anticipated cry I was not to hear. My tears are for them, and for the millions whose little cries their mothers did not want to hear! Their lack of motherly love was tragic or they could not have caused the dear tiny hearts to cease to beat. They will not be silenced in a frightful Eternity!
I truly believe that the amazing, thrilling union of two people, occurring the moment they come together in the intimate, God-ordained act, is the consummation of marriage. This is the most tender and sacred emotion known to mankind. As we consider this, we can understand the truth of which David spoke: "We are fearfully and wonderfully made." It is by this loving mutual act that conception occurs. It is then that they have succeeded in the beginning of the miracle of joy. In this very second, the characteristics of the two people become fused into another separate life--the color of the eyes, and perhaps the father's cleft chin, for instance. What an amazing work of art there is in that precious life!
It is a sacred mystery that in the wedding of two cells, so to speak, according to God's wondrous plan, that marriage is consummated. At that moment a new life begins. If life is not present then, it never will be. If it is not a living entity, or a living being, the body expels it as waste.
VIABLE MEANS LIFE!
At conception, when life begins, there is a rapid formation of cells. From this time it has become, according to my understanding of Mr. Webster, "viable" --that is, capable of developing.
Those who have developed a profitable industry, have attempted to tell us when this life becomes "viable." That is, they say, when the little forming person can survive outside the womb. The root word, "Vive" or "Viable," from the French language, means life. From "Vive," comes "Vigor,"
"Vivacious," and "Viable." This means there is life! Vive! It will be there and develop if it is not destroyed!
And let us think of the word "Abort." This word with its "ion" ending, "Abortion," is from the Latin, "Abortus." This is the root of "Aborticide" meaning to kill, the crime of abortion--Webster.
According to the abortionists' definition, life begins at a later, indeterminate time following the conception. But it is, in fact, viable, living, from the moment of conception. I believe the medical profession now admits this fact. Being a joining of two living cells, it is viable, capable of growing, if nurtured, and left to do so. Left alone, it will survive and grow. God has given it a sacred life, as the happy result of the beautiful experience ordained by God. What a sacred truth this is! It is the love, and the joining of two lives in the creation of a new life, the fruit of a fervent emotion, and an expression of love as God had wonderfully arranged.
To abort this miraculous, living being, then, ends its viability, or its life. When this happens, there is a death! As Mr. Webster understands, it is the crime of killing; and that of an innocent, helpless little life. Abortion is an industry of death, built upon a false premise. Many women have been, perhaps, honestly deceived by this falsehood. The "thing" in their womb is not a person, but a lifeless "blob" of cells, they claim. (This is all humans ever are-trillions of living cells.) Some perhaps are led astray by this or merely because they have found motherhood inconvenient or undesirable!
If there is no thought, or ever a plan of conception; if the intimacy is limited to the sole purpose of fleshly pleasure, it can be sin! In such a case, should conception occur against their will, they commit the even graver sin of horrible murder of their "own kind," when there is an abortion. This is wilfully done to interrupt God's sacred provision, and to deny themselves the joy of happy parenthood.
The operators of this nefarious "crime," commit the heinously wicked deed merely for the purpose of their financial gain. They are successful in quieting any fears a mother may feel, by assuring her that it is not a real life. But how wicked this is! They presume to tell at what time it becomes a living person. But then they have such a flexible interpretation of the abortion law, that they will abort at any stage of development--even by the horrible "Partial Birth" method. This is nothing less than Infanticide! Even as early as three weeks, there is a tiny beating heart. To cause the cessation of the heart beat is to kill! What is death but the cessation of the activity of a heart? This certainly destroys any possibility of viability!
Neither do they tell the mother that this tiny person is capable of feeling pain! At that stage they call it an embryo. We see from a picture that the little head is greatly disproportionate to the little body. Why? Because the brain must be present and functioning, or the body could not develop. The brain receives and sends the message of pain. I do not know if they think they have determined the beginning of the ability to feel pain. I saw a part of an abortion in process on a video. A probe touched the little head of the embryo, and it quickly jerked away to the far side of the womb. But where, I ask them, could the little creature go? Its nest had become a torture chamber, from which it could escape only by painful death!
I believe that if the mothers were told this fact, there would be fewer abortions! Of course some could be so uncaring, they would rid themselves of what they consider to be a nuisance, in any manner allowable.
This points to the great sin of the law which makes the destruction of life legal! No man, nor government, can give such a right to women!
She may demand this course, which she calls her "right to choose!" She had the right of choice before conception--not afterward! She now has no right to take the life she has conceived in her womb; and no one can give her that right. She can have no more right to destroy it, than she could if it were a little girl or boy a year or two in age!
I read an article in the Moody Monthly Magazine a few years ago. It was written, as I remember, by Dr. Koop, who was the Surgeon General at the time. A mother of a large family came to her doctor. She told him, "Doctor, I just cannot have another child! I want you to perform an abortion for me! "
The doctor, with Solomon-like wisdom, answered:
"Mrs…., You do have too many children to properly care for another one. But I cannot perform an abortion for you! There is always a degree of risk in an abortion; it is, in fact a greater risk than a normal delivery. You must not take that risk, perhaps of leaving your children motherless. Let us rather, dispose of the one you are holding!" (She was a little girl of eighteen months or so).
"Doctor!" she exclaimed in horror. "What can you mean?"
SMALL BODY PARTS ON THE WAY TO THE
Some years ago a case was reported in the news. In a certain city, the men from the sanitation department picked up a dumpster to go to the incinerator. They heard a faint cry of a new-born infant! They took it to the hospital where loving care helped it to survive. They called him Isaac. The authorities were searching for its mother, so they could charge her with attempted murder. If she had, a few minutes before, had it aborted by the cruel "Partial Birth" method, there could have been no charges!
On another video I saw recently, the sanitation men took a dumpster from behind a large hospital. They could distinguish many tiny body parts of aborted babies. It sickened the workers! That dumpster contained the body parts of thousands of tiny human beings!
The men asked permission to give the contents a decent burial. This request was denied because if this had been allowed, the fact that these were humans beings would have been established. It would seem that they did not need permission. But perhaps they feared to displease the perpetrators of the cruelty.
A woman by the name of Elders, was the Surgeon General of the
The Abortion law makes legal the "Partial Birth" abortion. This law can be interpreted to allow abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even full term.
Our president vetoed a legal ban which had passed the Senate and House, "after prayer," he said. He claimed it was to save the mother's life. But, as mentioned before, I saw the interview with the doctor who performs this type of abortion. He was asked if it was limited always to those whose lives were in jeopardy. He answered, "No, in 80% of the times, it was optional." If this is not Infanticide, I would ask, what do we call it?
Quoting Don Feder, a nationally syndicated columnist, in Burlington Times-News:... The disclosures of Ron Fitzsimmons, a spokesman for abortion providers, should have been a wake-up call."
"In February, Fitzsimmons confessed that he had 'lied through my teeth,' when he told ABC's 'Nightline' that partial abortions are rare and used only when the fetus is very deformed, or to forestall serious threats to the mother's life."
"My colleagues bought those lies (the same lies the abortion lobby had been consistently telling them) because they wanted to believe them."
"When Congress passed a bill outlawing the procedure last year (later vetoed by President Clinton,) the Tampa Tribune reassured readers that it was 'used…. when the mother's life is at stake and/or the fetus is severely deformed.' "
"The Los Angeles Times editorialized that partial, birth abortions are 'done typically only to avert. .. the death of the woman--or to remove a severely deformed fetus' and account for ‘only 200 of the 1.5 million abortions,' performed annually…. By making a few calls to local physicians, Ruth Padawar of Bergen Record ascertained that 1,500 of these abortions were performed in New Jersey alone each year, more than seven times the Los Angeles Times national figure."
"Doctors Martin Haskell and James McMahon (now deceased,) who pioneered the procedure, were on record admitting that most partial-birth abortions are completely elective…."
"As Congress weighs another ban, the media are misrepresenting a so-called compromise offered by the president, implying that it contains a narrowly drawn exception for the mother's life and health."
"In fact it places no limits on the procedure in the fifth and sixth months (when 90% take place) and even thereafter, would allow it for something as subjective as emotional distress…."
These are only a few selections from his excellent article which was published in the Burlington Times News. He is to be highly commended for his plain, timely writings. Thank God for a few faithful news columnists!
Who can describe the little infant's horrible agony? The awful stillness of the little darling, who is not allowed to cry! I hear it in my dreams! And more important, our heavenly Father hears the piteous cry which its mother had silenced!
We must reiterate that when a criminal is sentenced to death, it must be done as merciful as possible! But if the citizens of our country allow this unmerciful ruling on abortion to stand, we fear that God's judgment is soon to be executed!
That "Silent Majority," has been silent too long! And I have been
silent too long! I've been too timid, too fearful to raise a voice, or to make
use of the trusty pen! I have asked myself, as a woman, should I undertake to
warn mothers of their sin? But perhaps the true mothers can and should be more
active in such a matter than anyone else. Since men are allowing this tragedy,
perhaps we, as the mothers of
As mothers, we have a love for all helpless, innocent little ones. We who have the blessed position of motherhood, who know its joys should say and do all we possibly can to stem this tide of the murder of innocents! We must plead with them, and pray with and for them. Especially our hearts go out to those younger mothers. May they become aware of the horrible destruction of their own sacred "right" and duty of motherhood!
It is the combined sin of silence which has allowed this evil flood of
rebellion against righteousness, and against our Creator to develop to the
frightful condition we now see. We thank God for a pastor here and there, who
is deaf to the accusations made by the wicked! There are those active groups
who are lifting up their voices and activating their pens and computers to cry
against the evil of abortion and perversion. There are those who are taking the
opposition to this wickedness to the halls of Congress. A cry is emanating from
a few groups to "take
We realize many are not professed Christians. But it is better to be moral, honorable citizens, even if they do not make a profession of religion. Witness those who are free of crime or immorality, whose lives contribute to the welfare of all. We would wish that all might know the joy of walking with the Lord. But we await His time to call them by His grace.
These thoughts are primarily on the sin of abortion. The abominable perversion of homosexuality is now being forced upon us. This deserves many books! But here we consider it merely as it is related also to a great sin against God. How better to limit "replenishing the earth," than for men to work evil with men. This, the apostle Paul calls "unseemly." It is called by God "An Abomination" to Him! Both this and abortion are rebellion against God's wonderful provision of "replenishing the earth."
The schools have been given the task of Sexual Education. This does consist
of teaching about the sin of sodomy, but only that it is not to be condemned.
It is merely an "alternate life-style!" (But because of this
Nevertheless, some teachers are now telling our children that it is all right to have two fathers or two mothers!
The once beautiful relationship between man and woman has not only been
degraded; now our children also, are being prepared to believe that it is just
as desirable for two of the same gender to be "married" or to act
like they are married! Do not our hearts quake, and our stomachs feel sick with
fear of the destruction of
I recently listened to a program when this perversion was being discussed--and encouraged--even to the remark, that "same sex marriage should have been made legal long ago!" The audience participated. One after another arose to contend strongly for their "right," condemning and accusing any who opposed this sin as "haters! " But if hate was ever seen, it was expressed by those who upheld this sin!
Finally a man asked for permission to speak. He suggested that they be given complete freedom to enjoy their "life-style." In fact, let us give them a nation of their own, with clear title to it. There they could make their own laws. In this way we could cease to be subject to their demands. In fact they could soon create their own final destruction. Their "lifestyle" would soon bring them to oblivion!
He sat down, having been the sole person present with the solution of their problem--and ours also!--amid loud "boo's!"
The good man's solution would also reduce the now-fearful spread of the dread AIDS with its 100% fatality!
These days, we must be "politically correct," like using a confusion of euphemisms:
"Do not pity the poor little girl too much! She has only a touch of pregnancy! A clinic will quickly cure this!"
Or, thinking of his "alternate life-style," he says, "I only
have a virus called AIDS! Why, I could live all of five years! I'm proud that
I'm Gay! I have 'compassion' for the poor phobic fools who 'hate me!"' The
Bible is impossibly out of harmony with our times! They stoned to death, those
who committed fornication then! And as for "Gays," even their God
threw down fire and brimstone, destroying those fair cities of
Now, I have identified myself surely with the so-called "Extreme Right!" A "Bigot," no less! This is only one of the epithets cast at those who admonish to godly living. I gladly accept, and answer to the name! I would rather be extremely "right" than extremely "wrong!" I must answer unequivocally, "RIGHT!' One is diametrically opposed to the other. Perhaps this is merely a "woman's logic!"
I read somewhere the origin of "Bigot." There were those in the "old country" who had acquired very little education. But they lived strictly by God's laws. So it was said, they shortened the phrase to "Bigot," meaning by God's will and strength they would do thus and so. So the word might be preferable to the demand of the "right to choose" when this means the right to destroy or to kill the innocent!
It is time to be disturbed when two basic evils are becoming so prevalent. The "Sexual Education" was slipped into the schools as a solution to ignorance of the facts of life. The parents, they said, were not capable, or at least in too many cases, were neglecting to teach their children properly. But we fear their supposed solution has been more damaging to good morals than ignorance in some cases could be.
It was begun as "Planned Parenthood." I suppose they thought it would reduce the teen pregnancies also. But instead our children were taught how to live promiscuous lives, rather than to follow chastity or abstinence. They taught the use of things which were supposed to prevent pregnancy, and provide the "safety!" Only it is not safe, but gives full incentive to follow, rather than to shun youthful lusts.
It began many years before such "Education" was to be given in the schools. It began by trying to help those mothers who were bearing too many children. It was even then a misnomer, really. It really encouraged women to rebel against their God-given purpose and duty--and joy--of motherhood.
The supposed "Planned Parenthood," in many cases, results in Non-Parenthood!
For the young people, the teaching has developed into the encouragement to sexual promiscuity. They are led, by the modern teaching, to believe that it is natural' to follow fleshly desires unrestrainedly; that it is not good to restrain "natural tendencies." "Do your own thing!" "Let it all hang out!" "Be yourself!" Anything that makes you "feel good," do it! Otherwise, you cannot "feel good about yourself!"
It is too obvious that this tendency is wrong. It is taken for granted,
then, that chastity is impossible, impractical! This being the case, (they
assume,) provision must be made which acts as an incentive to complete sexual
freedom. One is expected to be unchaste, and this removes all moral restraint
from young people at the time in life when they need to exercise it most. Then
they supply what they say is a "safe" way to prevent the results of
their actions: disease or unwanted pregnancy, with all the evils and
heartbreak. Look at the fact that now "teen pregnancies" account for
about one third of the births in
One statistic tells us the largest percentage of teen pregnancies occurs in the group between ten and sixteen years old! Imagine! A mere baby, ten years old, being a mother!
There is only one safe way to prevent either horrible disease or pregnancy. But it is amazing that when one gives voice to this possibility, he receives a rather disgusted look, as if one would say, "Why, you poor, ignorant 'Sap!' How naive can one be!"
And, by the way, the practice of abstinence and chastity is the only true method which leads to "feeling good about ourselves!" The opposite, living like the lower animals, having unwanted babies, becoming drug addicts, leading to crime and death, does not make anyone "feel good!"
This message concerns also, the resultant promiscuity. This, of course, results in the subject we are deploring: Abortion! Killing! Murder of the only innocent party: poor little unwanted uncared-for, unloved babies!
We will consider these pathetic teens first, which I would think are the least culpable. No doubt they are to be more pitied than blamed. They are the product of this modern, Humanistic teaching! The pen would be gentler with them than the older groups.
These have grown to young adulthood with not enough, or no, parental discipline or guidance. In addition to this neglect, there are the almost pornographic pictures from television and other media which have glamorized immorality. The seductive scenes are designed for the specific purpose to lower human emotions to animal level. Then comes what we have seen before: the lowered ideals and teaching in the schools (in too many cases.) Not to forget, of course, there are noble exceptions. I know exceptionally fine teachers who deplore these trends. They do all they possibly can to offset the prevailing evils.
However, the fact is too plain. We have, to a large degree, lost much of today's young generation! To this group, we are hearing the phrase, as a ready-made remedy, "Just say, No!" Of course this is ineffectual, for we have already taken from them the strength of character. This has been sadly weakened by the wrong teachings and the media pollution to which they have been subjected. They do not want to say No! They have been brain-washed to believe they should be allowed complete freedom to "do what feels good!" They are victims of much wrongful teaching and example. Everything they have heard and seen has encouraged wrong living. They have been led to believe that moral restraint is harmful to their self-esteem! High ideals have not been taught, but have rather been scoffed at.
These poor little misguided girls, perhaps, are starved for love and affection, and they mistake brutal desire for love. They have been robbed of sweet innocence by what we must call Satanic teaching of such as Freud, Kinsey, and other immoral leaders. No, they think they are loved, and there is little possibility of their resisting evil attentions. The "pleasures'" are mutual--but oh, they are so temporary! I say to that poor girl, the result will not be mutual, nor temporary! For usually, the partner in this affair has no thought of becoming a father, or of being responsible for a child's care and expense. She will bear her poor little child--and her shame--alone! Or else she will have it aborted!
The destroying of the innocent little one is a greater sin than the act which brought it into the world! This, alone, is a sad mistake, a product of wrong teaching. It brings serious responsibilities with which she is unable to cope.
This sin can be forgiven. There can be a happy ending still, if there is love for the helpless victim of her wrongful act. If there is not the possibility of caring for the innocent little baby, some couple, who have yearned in vain for a child, may be made happy by adopting your baby. They will give it love and care, which you may not be able to provide.
If you do have loving parents they can, and often do, support and help in such a case. They may, in time, rejoice in the love for a precious grandchild. And you can enjoy the love of a precious little one who may lisp the sweet words, "I love you, Mother!" Your young life may yet be very much worthwhile. You can, if you have seen the folly of false teaching which deceived you, still enjoy a worthwhile life.
MY DEAR YOUNG GIRLS!
THERE ARE OPTIONS!
So dear child, there are options, besides the continuance in wrongful practices. Especially, the far greater sin of taking a tiny life! The one who declared his love will no doubt prove it to have been utterly false. He will more than likely not be concerned in the least. "You should have taken care of that," he may tell you, or else assure you, "There's no problem! It is easy to have an abortion! "A true experience in point:
In the younger life of the dear man I married, and me, we had a very happy experience. A younger cousin of his came to visit us one day. He was just twenty years old. He confessed that he was on the way out of the state because he had "gotten a girl in trouble," to use his own words. He was solely to blame, he said. But he had no job and no skill in the time of the great Depression. His dad refused help, telling him he had better "skip" because her brothers were threatening him. He did not know what to do. He was really frightened. He felt like a "heel" he said, for leaving her. But what could he do? Etc.
My dear husband, after learning that he really loved the girl, enabled him to send her a bus ticket to come to our home. We found her truly to be a lovely, sweet girl, deeply ashamed, and contrite. She seemed to love him also, but she too was frightened.
We had our minister come to perform the quiet wedding in our living room. I helped her to make a layette for the baby. At first she was listless, feeling that we must think she was a very bad girl. So she seemed disinterested in the sewing at first, but soon, her love for pretty things awoke an interest. She said, "I can do that!" I told her I knew she could, and turned the preparation over to her. She had good taste and made all the pretty little things necessary, when she finally conquered her embarrassment of needing to have me purchase the materials for her. But it was a joy for me also.
They remained with us until it was almost time for the baby to be born, when he found employment. They were happy to move to their own little home. The baby was a sweet little girl, much loved and tenderly cared for. In time they had another dear little girl, and the last we knew of them they were a happy little family!
So dear girls, let me say again, there are happy options! Once, you lost control of your life, but it is possible to regain it, and be a much chastened and wiser person in the future.
And yes, I do know how it is to be young and vulnerable! But fortunately I was fortified by godly, loving parents. I had a mother who faithfully explained the many dangers. Once, when I told her of the foolish "love" talk of a neighbor girl who was "boy-crazy," Mother said to me, "He had been kinder, if he had shot her, Honey!" This impressed upon me the solemn fear of that girl's activity, and her foolishness. There, but for Mother's teaching and the grace of God, I should not have found the wisdom nor the strength to avoid great danger. Especially by one "brute" who paid no attention to "No!"
Of course your greatest protection is loving, godly parents, under God's care. But to those who are lacking these guidelines and protection, you need not follow the throng in doing wrong! But if you do fail and fall once, there is help--and forgiveness, if you seek it, and want to "make something of your life!" Do not, I beg you, believe the lie, "They all do it!" They do not all do it! And please do not listen to those who would lead you on the downward road of life by telling you, "There's no problem! All you need do is to have an abortion, and get on with your life!"
All the "mouthing" about "feeling good about yourself' will be made very apparent to you when you do not "feel good" about any of it! And if you listen to evil lies of abortionists, you may suffer the feeling of guilt the rest of your life; and without asking, and receiving God's forgiveness, if you have an abortion, the frightful forever afterward! But there is forgiveness with a gracious God, who does not refuse the prayer of a broken and contrite heart!
THE GROUP MOST CULPABLE
Now, let us consider the second group who rely upon abortion to remove the consequences of their sin. Unlike the younger group, these know better! They are those persons who are fully mature. These come under the great sin of willful fornication. They know what they are doing, and the result of their actions! They will take all precautions to enjoy to the full their selfish and fleshly pleasure without paying the consequences. But one day of giving account, without repentance, may become bitter indeed.
They have been told, and accept the lie, that to be entirely without restraint is the only way to be happy. They are doing what comes naturally, just like pigs and dogs! They may have scoffed at the thought of morality. Whatever seems pleasurable to them, they follow without the consideration of displeasing or injuring others. Neither do they have any fear of God. That is merely "old wives' fables," they will tell us, when we mention godly living. They "feel comfortable" with it, they will tell the world. If it feels good to ME, it's no one's business! If they accidentally conceive a new life while satisfying sinful lust, "No sweat! A day-surgery will solve everything!"
There was no real love, or they would have been thrilled with the miraculous creating of someone to carry the name and the characteristics as a seal of their love. The image of the father and the mother will be destroyed by abortion, thus destroying something of themselves!
They have plans which do not provide for messy things like "squalling brats!" Get rid of them! Get on with your life, is their modern philosophy. But they may hear those little cries through Eternity!
These are the ones who turn the blessing of motherhood into their own condemnation. There are no extenuating circumstances to lessen their guilt. They have used their "right to choose" and they have not the integrity to accept the responsibility of their "choice!" They loudly demand their "choice" after they had a free choice, and misused it! Now, they have not the right of choice to kill the result of the choice they have tossed away. No matter how loudly they demand to be given a choice, no one can give it to them. God will call them to account for committing murder.
But He is merciful and longsuffering. If they can somehow be made to realize their sin, and repent truly before God, humbly confessing their sin, God will hear and forgive. His precious Son died for sin, which with true repentance, can be cleansed by His precious blood.
What joy would fill my heart, if the reading of these thoughts could cause even one mother to weep for this sin and turn away forever from it. Not only would I rejoice, but there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. Yes, not only the poor writer would rejoice, but even the Father in heaven would share the joy! The forgiven sinner would be changed to a follower of the Lord. And her joy would be assured, though somewhat subdued, as she remembers the sin. But the heavenly Father has cast it into the sea of everlasting forgetfulness!
THE JOYS OF HOLY MATRIMONY
Marriage. What a beautiful state this is! When we think of it rightly, we do not wonder that it is called "Holy Matrimony." It was established by the Creator Himself in the day of the Beginning of all things! As we have read, it was the Creator who was the very first to solemnize the sacred joining of the first man and woman in Holy Matrimony, to begin the creation of human-kind.
In His marvelous creation, He made the man and woman in such a way as to be strongly attracted to each other. They would find the greatest joy known in coming together in a union which made them "one flesh." Thus would the all-wise Creator plan for man and woman's great happiness in achieving the multiplication of themselves! He could have populated this world, merely by speaking the word. But in His wisdom, He made man and woman, helpers in this important plan for the continuance of the world He had created. Likewise, all living things were given the ability to propagate their own species.
See how wise He was in every detail! Since they had been formed of the same lump of clay, they would not be completely happy until mutual attraction was satisfied by being joined in a relationship, resulting in their becoming "one flesh." This was the most tender and sacred relationship we may experience. It was pure and beautiful as it came from the hand of God.
Now, like the wicked destruction of the lives of millions, there is also the sad destruction of the sacred state of marriage. About half of the marriages performed are ended in unhappy divorce, which if blessed with little ones, destroys their happiness and security. So we sadly hear cries of "single parents!" God did not design us to carry the burden of families singly! It requires a pair to create a home! In such cases, precious little ones have been created. With the home destroyed, there is no longer safety and the security of a "nest," in which to be nourished so that they may develop into loving, well-balanced adults. Millions now, one third of those conceived, are destroyed in the mother's womb!
I have two lovely granddaughters. The oldest one and her husband hoped for a dear little one for eight years! She and I often talked in tears about this. "Grandmother, I do not mean to question God; but I find it hard to understand, and to bear; so many little ones being aborted, and we want a dear little one so much!"
They had gone through all the business of adoption, and waited only for a suitable one to be available. Then they were finally blissfully happy to announce her own pregnancy! In due time he arrived, and never had one been more joyfully welcomed. For another eight years they waited for the second dear little boy who came to make them a most happy little family!
LET US ATTEND THE FIRST WEDDING!
Let us attempt, as much as possible, to sit ourselves down there and attend the wonderful miracles being wrought for the continuing of the population of the newly-formed universe. He takes a bit of clay and forms something that has not before existed. Let us just try to absorb what is happening!
With this a bit of clay, He begins to form something like a statue. There is no life, but He breathes into that form, and it "becomes a living, breathing soul." It is "fearfully and wonderfully made," as the Psalmist would say centuries later. It is beyond the human mind to absorb the mystery of the creature He has made "from the dust of the ground." He could have spoken it into existence as easily as making the world, and hanging it upon nothing! He had then spoken, and the sun and moon appeared in the sky. Then, as if that were not enough, He took a giant handful of stars and flung them across the sky, pinning them there on nothing.
But in making a man, He used His own mighty hands to form such an intricate creature. It seemed as if He would rejoice in the feeling of fitting each mysterious particle to form such a wonder from the dust of the ground. The actual feeling of the material seemed to make this different from all the things He merely spoke into existence. They would remain inanimate, but this creation must have feelings, emotions, understanding, LIFE!
Well, it is of no use! The wondrous making of the first man cannot be described! And then to say that it was made in HIS Image! There is no way we can, with human mind, understand the mystery. We cannot explain it!
Now that this wonderful creature comes forth from His hand, He says, "It is not good for man to be alone! I will make a help meet for him." Then, as it were, He administers the first anesthesia to the newly created man, and removes a bone from his side. He could have formed her like He had Adam, but that did not meet with His intricate plan. This must be a very special help. How best to achieve this than to form it from his own body! This would forever establish the fact that one could not be really complete without the other!
The name Adam meant mankind, because the woman was contained in his body. God did not give her a name, but Adam named tier Woman, because was taken out of him. It seems that at the very first they were merely Man and Woman, later to be called Adam. The word Adam means "red earth." So we might say, rather facetiously, the first man could have been a red man, or an Indian. We are prone to think of man as a white man. But it does not matter what we try to imagine about God's work! He said, "Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness."
God now has a man and a woman, and He joins them together, making marriage holy. Then He plans for their propagation. He makes them also like Him, to a degree, and He now tells them to "multiply and replenish the earth." For this purpose, He created a desire in them, one for the other. Since they are of one piece of earth then, a fleshly union is accomplished. As a seed from the two are joined in what might be called the real wedding of two characters, there comes into being another, and a new life in tiny form.
How thrilled the first parents must have been! Why, Eve, he may have exclaimed in wonder, he looks like you! No, she could have said, he has your eyes! It may be significant that the first-born must be the male, so as to fill the purpose of the man as the provider and protector.
This little son brings the two first human beings into an even closer loving relationship. "Therefore, shall a man cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, and were not ashamed. "
This plainly shows us ,that there had been nothing about them at that time but godly purity. The shame of nakedness did not appear until after the commission of the first sin of disobedience to God's law. Then, they knew that they were naked! For this reason, then, God made them skins to cover their nakedness, so that they need not feel shame. For they had foolishly attempted to cover their nakedness with a few fig leaves! I think He must have smiled at the attempt to cover their shame!
(Incidentally, we must say that today many, especially the women, have about lost this inherent shame of nakedness, because they are leaving off much of their covering! And they look about as ridiculous as Adam and Eve did in their pathetic fig-leaf aprons! Delicacy is lost, and it seems there is little shame over it!)
In the various cultures, there are differing rites of solemnizing a marriage. But by whatever manner, it must be ritually acknowledged before men and God before they can be allowed to experience the ultimate intimacy, by which God made them "one flesh." And this union must not be put asunder by man. "What God has joined together, let not man put asunder. " Mt 19:6.
How this is being disregarded at this time! Alas, we have disobeyed and violated God's righteous command, and we have allowed man to put asunder about half of those marriages which have been solemnized! Thus now, there exists a chaos of confusion!
After quoting the words of God in Matthew, some asked Jesus, "Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, to put her away?" Jesus answered, "Moses, because of the hardness of your heart suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning, it was not so."--Jesus, in Mt 19:7.
We must notice that it was Moses who "suffered" (allowed) it, and it was because their hearts were hard! The very best one can say of divorce is that it is because of the hardness of heart. We can deplore any hardness of heart, whether "suffered" or not. In that answer we notice that He did not tell them that He suffered them to put away the one to whom they had been joined in marriage.
Marriage was sacred, and it was used in the Bible as a type of Christ and His Church. What a lovely thought, that we are joined together by solemn vows before God, and a man of God, to be so used! Some may say, "But I am not a Christian! I do not understand what my marriage has to do with the Church! "
Unfortunately, there are many who do not yet have the joy of communion with saints, nor with God. Nevertheless, the laws of God have not, therefore, been nullified! Marriage is still called "Holy Matrimony" and they are yet responsible to God to keep His laws. If a change occurs in your life or habits, this does not alter the fact of your requirement to obey the laws of the land! Much less does your, perhaps, ungodly life, nullify God's laws!
We have considered the very beginning of the happy and holy state of marriage, so that we may really understand the solemn responsibilities involved when we make sacred marriage vows. We consider this group now in the matter of God-given right, and duty, to "multiply and replenish the earth."
We may better understand the sin of rebellion and disobedience of God which is involved in the matter of abortion. These bear a greater guilt than either of the preceding groups. They are now free to enjoy the greatest degree of intimacy without shame, or of being guilty of uncleanness. The need for self-restraint is removed, except for the consideration of each other as in the case of illness. Love takes care of these problems. For where there is true love, there will be tender consideration of each other in any relationship.
It is taking advantage of their God-given blessing by refusing, or preventing, motherhood; even to the great sin of aborting, destroying the sacred sealing of their love. There are many reasons given for this rebellion against motherhood. They may think they need to wait until they have a home, and all the furnishings. This accomplished, they need to have a savings account for that "rainy day."
By this time, the love of "things" tempts them to acquire more, and more, and more! By this time also the working mother has developed a career! Perhaps the husband, at first, was not completely in favor of his wife helping provide these things. Somehow it seemed to lessen his pride of providing for his family. But now, he too, is accustomed to a fine car, perhaps a boat, a swimming pool, and other luxuries.
SHE HAS SACRIFICED HER BABIES ON THE
ALTAR OF THE "CORPORATE LADDER!"
She has been so occupied with her attempt to climb that "corporate ladder" that the years have rapidly passed, perhaps, when she may have safely begun to have a family! How many little ones may have been sacrificed on this "altar" because their mother aborted pregnancies in those years?
The husband has also been a great loser, as well as the wife. She has lost the blessing and joy of motherhood, and he, the most valuable purpose in his life, that of happy fatherhood. This diminishes his manhood! He has been denied his rightful place as provider and protector. In a way, he is not needed! His companion is fully able to have a successful life without him! This cannot but lower his self-worth! And this manifests itself in many unpleasant events. At one time he may have yearned for a family. Life now seems to be filled with the wrong things! Each of them has lost the joy of giving, instead of gaining of many things. They begin now to realize there is an emptiness about all they are accomplishing. A kind of "what's the use of anything now?" seems to cause a hopelessness which they do not understand. They have everything they thought would give them happiness-and they are not really happy!
She has sacrificed her greatest blessing for a career, and has joined the "rough and tumble" world of men! They have forsaken and rebelled against God's purpose for their happy existence! She now competes with men, perhaps even proving to him, and herself, that she really surpasses him in many tasks. But somehow, this gives less and less satisfaction.
The problem, of course, is selfishness! They have had little thought of serving, or of giving. They have accumulated things, and inanimate things do not give a return of love! They might have begun a family in the bloom of their youthful love, and by now have several little ones, part of themselves. What joy they have lost by not fulfilling God's purpose in the world, problem may be that they selfishly, and in rebellion against His will, refuse to be mothers.
We know that our mothers, many years ago, were greatly over-burdened. Was it, perhaps, because the men were not thoughtful enough of the woman's well-being to use considerate restraint?
I have never heard this matter discussed, but I have sometimes wondered if, after the first sin, men and women may have sinned against God's ordained provision for limiting the number of children. Is it possible that His plan would have limited the number of children to prevent too great a burden?
Could it be that there is another of His wonders of creation? The larger part of the time, a woman is infertile. Could it be that God, in His wisdom, created her so that the problem of having too many children could be avoided? Sometimes we are, perhaps, unfair to refer to low morals as being "like animals." In the animal world, the female does not receive the attentions of the male except at a particular time. And the male seems not to approach her until the season is right. Could it be that man has abused his privilege, and, over the centuries, this lack of restraint and consideration for his mate has obscured God's plan? It would seem that God, being all wise, would have included this in His creation.
It may be possible that this could be a thrilling plan. It could keep alive the thrill, somewhat like having a date. If the man could give loving attentions, as they await the proper time, they might happily anticipate the time. It seems that it might relieve the fear of an untimely conception, and thus enhance the relationship.
If a man loved and cherished his wife as he should, is it possible that this would not allow, as one man complained, that his wife "was as a fruitful vine; she brought forth every year!" Not many women are strong enough for this! I have read in obituaries in history that the mothers, often after giving birth to ten or twelve children, died at an early age. This left her children without her care. I cannot believe this was the way God had planned, but that there had been an abuse of a most sacred privilege. Does this perhaps enter into the sad and deplorable method by which women have rebelled against God to the extent of actually destroying the fruit of an over-burdened womb?
Poor humans seem to abuse any blessing, sometimes to the extent that it almost becomes a curse. Then we devise our remedies to solve the problem of our own making!
Perhaps what has happened in the plans to limit the number of our children is that it may have begun just with the intention to limit moderately. But once the "powers that be" became involved, it has resulted not in merely "Planned Parenthood," but in far too many cases, "No Parenthood" as the problem of too many children was caused by the abuse of blessings, now we abuse our own remedy, and have too few, or none!
What if, in following God's provision to take care of this problem, we should have a dear little one who was not planned. How many times I have, and I suspect many others, have seen what joy the unexpected one brought.
Again, allow me to refer to a personal experience: It is the case of our tiny premature one; perhaps the desire to have a sweet little girl caused us to allow conception when it was not advisable. Today, I am sure a termination would have been urged.
But the godly physician, nevertheless, gave every encouragement, but with the advice that extreme care must be taken. At the fifth month it became imperative that I have complete bed-rest, to prevent the baby from coming too early to survive. He reminded us that every week gave it a better chance of survival.
This posed a real problem: with one little boy three years old, and another eight, with the mother bedfast! At that time help was difficult to obtain. But we had helped a couple, which was "as bread upon the waters." There was a happy solution. We had shared our home with them when they were in need. Now they were happy to return the kindness, by coming back to care for the little boys and the home until I could give the little one the best chance to be safely delivered at seven months. They remained with us until the dear little "preemy" was safely in our arms, and I could resume the cares of motherhood. So there are ways to avoid sacrificing the lives of precious children!
How could I have imagined not having this precious son? His entire life has been a blessing! He is doubly precious because, following his arrival, it was medically advised there should be no more dear little ones to bless our family.
My mind is taken again, to the only sister I had. She was a tiny little one, who came to this world too soon to live with us here. My heart is yet sad, when I think of her, until I remember the words of Zechariah: "And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof."
She was not aborted! For Mother and Daddy were crying, and my nearly-three-year-old heart was very sad.
Today, April 10, 1997, she would have been eighty seven years old! Now, she is not eighty seven years old, wrinkled, and grey-haired! She is not weak and tottering in her walk, and suffering with arthritis! She was not really in the little horse-drawn buggy which I had watched out of sight that day. For angels had come for her to take her to the Home of our heavenly Father, to join the happy little ones who play there on those beautiful streets!
A NEW LITTLE GIRL IN HEAVEN
Oh! what do you think the angels say?
Said the children up in heaven,
There's a dear little girl coming Home today;
She's almost ready to fly away
Said the children up in heaven.
God wanted her here where His little ones meet
Said the little children up in heaven,
She will play with us on the golden street!
She has grown too fair and sweet;
She needs the sunshine, this dear little girl,
That guilds the side of the gates of pearl,
Said the children up in heaven.
So the King called down from angels dome,
Said the children up in heaven
My little darling, arise and come
To the place prepared in the Father's Home,
To the home my Father lives in.
Let's go and watch at the gates of pearl,
Ready to welcome the new little girl,
Said the children up in heaven.
Far down on earth, do you hear them weep?
Said the children up in heaven,
For the poor little girl has gone to sleep;
The shadows fall, and the night clouds sweep
O'er the earth we used to live in;
We'll go and open the gates of pearl;
Oh, why do they weep for the little girl?
Said the children up in heaven.
Fly with her quick, 0 angels dear,
Said the children up in heaven,
See! she is coming! Look there! look there!
At the jasper light on her sunny hair,
Where the veiling clouds are riven!
Ah-hush-hush-hush all the swift wings furl!
For the .King Himself at the gates of pearl
Is taking her hand, the dear, tired girl,
And leading her into heaven.
Later, when I was about five years old, in a childish voice, I was trying to sing the words, "Listen to the mocking bird; the mocking bird is singing o'er her grave." Trying to comfort my dear mother, I ran to her, and told her the mocking bird is singing over my little sister's grave. I wanted to make her happy, but there were tears in her eyes!
In recent years I have required "Same Day Surgery" twice. One time, while in the recovery room, there were two young women also recovering. The second time there were three recovering while I was in the room. Each time, as I lay with eyes closed, my ears heard the other patients speaking of their abortions. It was plain that they did not think I was fully awake.
My heart was troubled as I lay there thinking of the many times this was being done over the country! This was not as large a hospital as some. And it was frightful to think how many babies were thus being destroyed at any given moment, around the clock! It was easy to understand how the millions have been, and are being, rapidly multiplied each minute; like a delivery chain, dropping them off into eternity with machine-like regularity! And God looks on the horrible holocaust!
These women were plainly happy and relieved to be rid of their little ones, with no thought of sadness! They evidently had no thought of their tiny ones, whose little bodies were perhaps already on their way, or in that awful incinerator: shades of Adolph Hitler!
Again I refer to a video made by Moody Monthly Magazine. The tiny body parts were clearly distinguishable. Oh God! I thought, how is this happening in our beautiful country? What must the country yet suffer at the hand of God in judgment! How can the leaders approve this horror? Women enjoy all the blessings of marriage, and mostly live in affluent conditions. Available to them is the best in medical and hospital care. And they are refusing to bear the little children which they have conceived. How God could have blessed them through those little lives! For despite the pain and weariness, they were carrying near their heart, precious cargo! How cheaply they had valued God-given life!
The tears almost blind the sight as I attempt to write of this, remembering my own joys of motherhood. The memory of their sweetness is fresh, and now the joy of the aging years! Remembering too, sadly the two little lives we could not keep, nor even hear their cries!
Our problem today is not too many children, but too many mothers who are short of love! Their hearts have grown utterly selfish and hard, so small and poor--not in riches--but in love to spread around and nourish precious children with.
We read of gracious Susanna Wesley, the mother of Charles and John Wesley. Charles composed many beautiful hymns which we sing today; such as his beautiful "Jesus, Lover of My Soul."
Can we imagine it? She bore eighteen children! History tells us that she spent special time with each child each day! Today we hear the phrase of spending "quality time," which working women say they spend with their children. Just a few minutes at bed-time perhaps; that is, the most caring ones. Too many do not know what quality time means!
The time Susanna spent with her children was truly quality time. Many prayers were offered for each one at her knee. No wonder two of these children became ministers. And there was not a criminal in the bunch!
In our present time we think our children are "deprived" if they do not each have a private room! Johnny must have privacy and plenty, or he may grow up to be a criminal! See how many criminals are excused by the law of the land, if they are reared in poverty! But poverty and hardship are not the cause of crime! Witness our great men in history. Abraham Lincoln is a good example. Many could be listed. It is the lack of adversity and hardship that leads to crime! A life of ease and self-indulgence does not assure honor!
I have read about Abraham Lincoln "doing his sums," as a young boy, before the light of the flickering fire-place, and using a shovel to "figure on!" How deprived can one be who has industry, honesty, righteousness, and true compassion?
The main cause of crime today is over-indulgence, selfishness, and lack of Mother being in the home, and not supported by even a "live-in" man! There is little experience of sharing. "I will have mine!" is the cry. If they do not get it one way, they may steal, rob, and even kill!
It is not deprivation. It is the lack of learning by suffering hardship and
having loving guidance. I fondly remember my own up-bringing. I grew to young womanhood,
along with four brothers. We lived where now it is called a "depressed
I am sure that by today's standard, we would be judged as deprived. There was no welfare department. If there had been, Dad would have felt to be disgraced to need help in providing for his family.
Oh yes, I never had a room all to myself. Sometimes my best dress was one made over of some nice material, and perhaps from a garment of very fine material given to Mother. She fashioned many really nice things with her clever, industrious hands. I remember the pretty red coat she made for me from one an Aunt gave her. How proudly I wore it to school! I thought it was the prettiest one of any I saw there with its little black velvet collar!
We did learn something of music too. Mother had a lovely soprano voice, and Dad was a good tenor. Evenings, after lessons were finished on the large kitchen table by lamp light, they sang hymns with us. Each child joined in, receiving instruction. We loved that time. Afterward, Dad often gave us good talks on morals and good principles; and the beautiful hymns we sung are dear to me today.
I loved poetry, and often memorized a poem to recite at the special Friday afternoons at school. Dad would help me: "Go over that again, Honey; and give it more expression!" he would coach. I remember some of those poems today. There was one I especially liked in a McGuffey's Reader. We studied in these as well as those at school. The title was: WHICH SHALL IT BE?
It was not the very best of poetry, but it portrayed a sad and sweet story. The principle it expressed remained with me:
It told of an impoverished family with several children. They had a wealthy relative who had no children. He had told the parents that he would be glad to adopt one of the children, and give it every advantage, along with tender love. They were to choose which one he could have.
They carefully considered each one. Finally, there was only Dick left to consider. So the poem:
"Poor Dick! Bad Dick!
our wayward son!
Turbulent, reckless, idle one!
Could he be spared?
Nay, He who gave,
Bade us befriend him to the grave!"
I feel the pathos of the words and how they affected my young heart, as I tried to imagine such an offer to one of our family. The sadness of the separation of any one of our dear family would have been tragic for me. Remembering such times brings sadness, when comparing them to modem affluence, as I realize how the affluence is acquired at the sacrifice of our children, even by the cruel death by abortion!
I must admit to a very strong emotion on this subject. It seems if there is anything in this country more heartbreaking than the destruction of innocent, helpless lives, I would not know what it could be!
While I have been attempting to describe just a little of the subject, there have been times when I must lay my pen aside and weep. It has been necessary to dry the blinding tears as to be sufficiently composed to continue. The poor little slain ones would compose an entire nation! They were conceived, not to fulfill their purpose in the world. But their conception was merely for the satisfaction of fleshly lust.
Even when I see the bright, smiling faces of little ones, I remember those who have been discarded like unwanted garbage! They could not even have a decent burial, but were incinerated like poor little unwanted puppies or kittens! We hear great concern expressed over "endangered species" in the wild things. Contrast this with the lack of sorrow over millions of little human beings! Can we do this without a tear?
Yes! We need to cry for these! These days we are hearing about "Compassion!" Sadly, however, it is often expressed for the criminal, to the neglect of the victim! And just hear the concern for "endangered species" in the animal world; even to the hailing of a farmer into court for killing a destructive rat, which they claimed was near extinction!
Someone "dropped" a young female cat in our yard. She was cold, wild, and hungry! I soon won her love by feeding her. But my dear, kind-hearted husband counseled, "Honey, if you continue to feed her, she will stay here, and soon, of course, she will have kittens. You know we are not now able to care for pets! "
I knew he was right, and I did not want to cause him concern. So I told him I would drive him to town with her, but he would need to deliver her to those who would soon incinerate her. He looked very serious and answered, "Do you think I like to kill things?" "No," I said; "You would not step on a worm if you knew it! " He said no more about me feeding her, only sometimes: "Did you feed the kitty this morning?"
So how could we refrain from weeping, while thinking of the heartless killing of human babies, whose lives are a sacred gift from God?
My earliest memory is of my tiny, only sister's death. She lived only fourteen hours. She and the little brother were twins, born prematurely. But he lived a long, godly life, a minister of God. He recently died at the age of eighty-four.
Mother poured all her love into his care. And she had at least heard the cries of little Electa, and lovingly prepared her for the grave. There is the poignant memory, like a faint picture in my mind, of Daddy holding her, bending over her sobbing. There is also the memory of a man coming and placing her in a pretty little white casket and taking her away, until he disappeared around the bend in the road. As young as I was--not yet three years old, I can see today the images in my mind. It cast a shadow of sadness over my early childhood. I longed for a little sister, but this was not to be.
Sadly, for many of this group of married people, there is not much hope of them discontinuing this wickedness. It is too late! My only hope, in giving this message, is that it may reach some younger mother, somewhere. And if she is considering having her baby aborted, I hope she will enter into the sorrow expressed here, and experience an awakening love. For those who are guilty of having a part in this cruel holocaust, they might consider these thoughts of another mother. But of much greater importance is that she might be given true repentance before God. Then she could fall before Him in conviction and receive His forgiveness!
THE HEINOUS CASE OF RAPE
We come now to consider the fourth group. They are the little lives conceived by the heinous crime of rape. They also contribute to this sad holocaust.
The strongest anti-abortionists do allow for an abortion when it occurs through rape or incest. This is a truly heartbreakingly sad matter. I really do not know! It would be a terrible weight to carry a child to normal birth in such a case. But even in this sad event, it does seem cruel and unfair to destroy the innocent life thus begun; and to allow, in most cases, the wicked perpetrator to live! He might receive a life prison sentence, though too often they do not! Even then, they live at the expense of all of us, even the victim! Often following rape, a sweet little girl is murdered! It would seem that it should be mandatory that such a criminal should lose his life, rather than the innocent little one. But it is not always so. Many appeals, a clever lawyer, some technicality, or perhaps the prisoner's "good behavior" may cause him to be released! Anyone who has a dear little girl must then live in terror!
A few years ago, I heard the news of a criminal who kidnaped and raped a woman. He left her for dead, but she survived and crawled until she found someone to help her! It is hard to understand, but due to some technicality, in just a few months, he was set free! This poor woman lived in terror! She was afraid to leave her home, and afraid to remain home!
What has happened to the Justice System in
God allowed for putting to death those who committed such crimes. This should remove at least a large portion of the responsibility from the judge who must pass the death sentence.
If such a criminal could be placed where it could not be possible for him to endanger anyone again, the sentence of death might not be necessary. But even then, it would seem unfair that the taxes of everyone, even the sorrowing victim's loved ones, be responsible for his upkeep for the remainder of his life!
There could be a lesser disposition made of such a man. But it seems that the authorities hesitate to use it. For instance, a poor, retarded girl was being used by wicked men. Frequently, the Social Services were taking care of the little ones she bore.
Finally, they asked permission to have the poor girl sterilized. It was given, to which there was a great outcry. I understand that if the state could allow such a measure, it could be abused, or wrongly applied. But it certainly seems to me that it would be the lesser of several evils.
More recently, the news told of a man who was in prison for sexually abusing two hundred children! Soon it was declared "mandatory" that he be released. But the prisoner himself realized that he was a pedophile who could not assure that he could control the tendency. He warned them that if he were set free he would be an immediate danger to children. He had not killed anyone, but he was afraid that at some time he might. He begged them that if he were to be set free, they should castrate him. But this they refused, at the time, to do. I did not learn the ultimate decision in the matter.
Is there something sacrosanct about preserving the ability for such a wicked, or sick person to have sexual pleasure at the possible cost of the life of some sweet little girl?
Why, the determined will to preserve a man's ability, when the offspring of such a deed causes still another abortion? If this is allowed, it should be done immediately following the exposure, so that there be no heart beat, or at the least beginning of development.
The other day I heard a most interesting and heart warming story. Since we are thinking of the matter of conception by rape, allow me to give one case for consideration:
The story told about a little girl who was conceived by rape. Her mother felt it would be wrong to destroy the little life, so innocent of any wrong. She carried it to a successful, normal birth, but she could not feel that she wanted to keep her. It would be a constant, living reminder of the horrible experience.
She too, in due time, became a Christian and a beautiful young woman. She wished to find her mother, because she had been told the sad story of her conception. She felt a love and sympathy for her mother. They finally met, and she was an image of her mother. They were both beautiful women. I wept also at their happiness, but the tears were joyful ones!
I end this plea to the motherhood everywhere with a fervent prayer. Oh, may some of these thoughts encourage mothers to consider their sacred right to the blessing of motherhood; that we might look back to the beginnings, when righteousness prevailed. Then I pray we might repent with heart-broken tears and plead to our merciful God to forgive this great sin. He is loving, compassionate, and full of mercy! A broken heart and a contrite spirit, He will honor.
Repentance means turning away from the sin which greatly besets us. Remember again, the angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner repents and ceases to sin. He is gracious, and in the words of David, the Psalmist, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him, He knoweth our frame; He remembereth we are dust." (Ps 103:13-14)
I suspect that some who may read this little booklet will say that this is too simplistic. I answer, the fact of life and death is very simple. Some will tell us that there is not merely black and white. There are shades of the two colors, which is grey. The most important things are simple. Many times we make life very complicated, and confuse right and wrong, so that a clear understanding of everything becomes blurred! There is no confusion about the two states - life and death! Where there is life, a heart beats. When death occurs, there is no heart beat! There are not many ways for us to be perplexed about this!
There is right, and there is wrong. There is truth, and there is falsehood. There is righteousness, and there is wickedness. In so many things, it is not a matter of degrees. Certain things are bad, and others are good.
Oh yes, there are circumstances when we may express differing viewpoints, and make adjustments. Sometimes extenuating circumstances may affect various problems. True consideration, with wisdom, can often find a middle ground.
I recently heard a minister giving good counsel about working together for happy relations. He explained that we might give a little here and there, and our opponent do the same! Therefore, this would tend to achieve agreement. With charity, we could come to a better understanding. He gave some really good counsel to those who might be in conflict. But then he did not want to give a wrong impression. We could not, he explained, compromise truth, for the sake of keeping the peace. He explained the phrase, "On the other hand." One could use it in many cases, and achieve a better understanding. Then he said, "But there come the times when there just ain't no other hand!"
So, in the case of snuffing out innocent lives merely for convenience, and for our own comfort and pleasure, we must either make a decision for life or for death! There is no middle position! This is simple!
I have read many arguments for, and against abortion, but I always come to the firm conclusion, we simply cannot kill the helpless, the innocent little ones!
The abortion laws now allow the abortion of the retarded ones, or those with deformities! Would we want to kill a poor little cripple? And how sweet the dear little retarded ones often are! How could one think that because the mind is not so brilliant, we should dispose of them?
I remember what condemnation we shouted about Adolph Hitler, when he presumed to try to create a "Master Race" by disposing of anyone who was not perfect in every way! How is this different from killing, in the womb, these poor little human beings?
I have the story of the dear little mongoloid daughter of Dale (Evans)
We often complicate life, not so much by oversimplification. But we do it by deliberately making small matters very complicated.
There is a simple solution to prevent heart-break and unhappiness for all. Life is truly simple! It is difficult to over-simplify a matter which is simple! Simplification often prevents chaos and confusion!
I have read a book by a lady who gives the history of abortion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
It is very ably written. She does not argue for, or against abortion. But she gives the arguments made by each opposing group. I read it very carefully and with interest. And at the end of each argument offered, I often spoke aloud, after considering each argument thoroughly, "But we do not kill!" This simple statement seemed to be the answer which refuted each "On the other hand!" It confirmed the minister's conclusion--"There just is not another hand" when it involves the taking of an innocent life!
Is there any way this fact can be oversimplified? When a problem involves either life or death, the answer is simple! Thou shalt NOT kill!
We are reminded again, God relieved man of the responsibility of sentencing to death one who has killed another. HE pronounced the death sentence upon this person to save the lives of others, especially when there was a premeditated murder. He also made an allowance for accidental death. For the one who killed, but not intentionally, there was a refuge provided.
How can we escape the sin of premeditation in abortion, which stops a little heart from beating?
Thou shalt NOT kill!
The ICONOCLASTIC CONTROVERSY: Sylvester Hassell: The Iconoclastic (or image breaking) controversy lasted from 716 to 842. Both the Greek and the Roman Catholics had long been sunk in the Pagan worship of images or pictures of Biblical personages. In the eighth and ninth centuries six Eastern Roman Emperors assembled councils and issued decrees against this degrading idolatry; but they could not change the hearts of their paganized subjects, and, therefore, they achieved only a temporary success.
The monks, the ignorant and corrupt priestly rulers of the people, monopolized the manufacture of the images and accumulated wealth thereby. Seeing their craft in danger, they contended with all their might against the imperial decrees. They invented lying wonders in regard to the images, build up sophistical arguments, declared that a failure to worship images was worse than the vilest sins, and they succeeded in thus deluding and persuading the people until other emperors arose who seconded their efforts and again (A.D. 842) legalized the old idolatry.
The popes of
The Germans, under Charlemagne, in the Council of Frankfort, A.D. 794, declared not against the use but against the worship of images, as idol-worship was the practice of the Pagans against whom they fought. This decision helped to restrain the pope’s championship of images until the death of Charlemagne.
A Greek Monk, John of Damascus, in the civil employ of the Mohammedan caliph, was the ablest defender of image worship. He was said to have been “a child of light from his birth,” and was the most learned man in the East. He advocated the worship of images in three elegant orations, which were rapidly and widely distributed by the monks; and he declared that opposition to such worship was Manichaeism, as representing matter as essentially evil.
No wonder that the spiritual-minded Paulicians, who abominated idolatry, were stigmatized as Manichaeans. And no wonder, either, that the spiritually blind and dead honored John Damascus, the child of darkness, as “a child of light.”
Mingling Aristotelianism, traditionalism and Pelagianism, he also wrote a summary of Greek Catholic theology, which was the standard of faith in the communion for a thousand years.” (Hassell’s History ppg 421, 422)
IF YE KEEP IN MEMORY
By Elder Mark Green
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (1Co 15:1-2).
Here is an “if” salvation that depends upon the carefulness and attentiveness of the person saved. Paul clearly says that the Corinthians were saved by this gospel IF they kept in memory what he had preached unto them. What he had preached to them he particularly mentions in the next two verses: that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day, just as the Scriptures had prophesied that He would. That is what he preached, and that is what would save them if they kept it in mind. Given the fact that the chapter which this passage begins is devoted to the Resurrection, it is reasonable to think that the particular principle which Paul had in mind was that wonderful, soul-cheering doctrine.
Peter said that the brethren in his day had been begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead (1Pe 1:3). This verse is not speaking of the way in which they had been born again, but the way in which they had been restored to a lively hope. To be devoid of hope must be the most miserable condition in the world. No matter what our circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be, to have a hope that things will get better is what warms our souls and makes us press onward.
It is the gentle sea that buoys us up when the afflictions and burdens of this world would drag us down into despair. Despair is the opposite of hope. Satan likes nothing better than to drag God’s children into a hopeless and defeated state of mind. Hymenaeus and Philetus had told some of the saints that the Resurrection had already passed, and had overthrown their faith – and their hope right along with it.
Nothing cheers and sustains the child of God in this low ground of sin and sorrow like the thought of the Resurrection. No matter how bad our affairs may become, they will get better. This world will not last forever. There will be an end to the suffering and sorrow, the toils and temptations. The man who undermines our belief in or understanding of that precious doctrine has struck the hardest blow possible against our happiness here in this world.
If despair is the opposite of happiness, then we are saved from despair by a belief in the Resurrection. We are saved in that way IF we keep it in mind. If we neglect that doctrine, or become confused about it, or let it slip from our minds, we are opposing our own happiness and peace. The minister who stirs up the minds of God’s people by continually reminding them of the truth of the Resurrection is helping to save them from what their lot would be if they were to let it slip.
This is a conditional salvation, and it applies only to our lot here in time. If the term Conditional Time Salvation does not accurately describe the deliverance under consideration here, then I do not understand the English language. Our remembering something is not what gets us to heaven, but it will deliver us from many torments of mind in this life.
I suggest that we remember this doctrine, that we often speak to one another concerning our hope, that we meditate frequently upon its reality. Nothing is calculated to enhance our earthly happiness more than thinking about that great Day when the Lord shall return to raise the dead.
IGNORING GOD’S WORD
By Elder Mark Green
“And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” (Jer 31:34).
It is a fairly common thing to see on the signs in front of church buildings and on billboards exhortations to the population in general that they need to and should “know the Lord.” This is not expressed as something that has to happen in order to salvation, that is, that the people must be brought to know the Lord or made to know the Lord, or that they must be taught of God. It is expressed as a command or an obligation. The signs are telling people that they ought to know the Lord.
It is a curious and perplexing thing that so many religious orders spend so much time telling people to “know the Lord,” when the Scripture specifically forbids that being done. Our text is quoted by the apostle in Hebrews Chapter Eight, so if someone used the fact that it is an Old Testament verse as an excuse, that quickly disappears due to the fact that Paul cited it in one of the most important books of the New Testament. Any Bible reader would be familiar with the passage. Why, then, is it so universally ignored? Why is it so blatantly violated? Some may not specifically exhort the public to “know the Lord,” but their missionary zeal essentially amounts to the same thing.
God says that all His people shall know Him. This is not something that we must teach men they ought to do. It is something that we are forbidden to teach men, or to attempt to teach them. Our being born again – our coming into possession of eternal life – is not a duty of man, but is a sovereign act of an omnipotent God. It is God’s act, not our act, that causes us to know Him. Without His act we cannot know Him; when He acts we certainly are brought to know Him, completely apart from any action of our own. Our Lord taught us, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (Joh 6:45). He was quoting from the Old Testament: “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isa 54:13).
All God’s children shall know the Lord. They shall all be taught to know Him by the direct work of God the Holy Spirit. We are forbidden to attempt to do that work, for we are incapable of doing it. To attempt to do it is to rob God of the credit due only to Him. The preaching of the gospel cannot accomplish it. Preaching is profitable, but it is profitable for giving instruction to those who are already possessors of the Spirit and who already know God, and thus are spiritually enabled to receive instruction.
The modern missionary movement has to make great claims for its accomplishments, because money is the engine that drives it, and unless those giving the money think that their aims are being fulfilled, the money will soon dry up. So the Missionaries must claim that people are being saved by their efforts, that people are being taught to know the Lord by their preaching. Their claims are completely spurious, however. Billions of dollars are being spent on something Christianity was never commanded to do, has never been able to do, and indeed was directly commanded not to do. From The Christian Pathway.
The IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: Sylvester Hassell:
doctrine of the Immaculate (or Sinless) Conception of the Virgin Mary was
broached, about 1140, by certain canons of
IMMORTALITY of the Soul: It was the body Paul was talking about when he said this mortal must put on immortality. He was not talking about the spirit or the soul. The word immortal has more than one meaning. One meaning is, always living and never dying. Another is, always existing. The soul or spirit never ceases to exist. It may be always dying, yet never dead, or never ceasing to exist. The soul or spirit of the child of God is always living and never dying. (CAYCE vol. 1, ppg 387)
IN THE BEGINNING GOD
In Ge 1, we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
An old philosopher made the observation that that verse, the very first verse in the Bible, approaches the sublime. The philosopher got it almost right. That verse does not approach the sublime; it is sublime.
I sit and read this book, and I tremble at the majesty of it. I stand amazed at the majesty of the language of this book, the majesty of its expressions, its symbols, its metaphors.
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken,” Isa 1:2. What other book would dare use such language? It would be ludicrous in any other book, than that one book written by God himself.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” I suppose I preach on that text as often as I do any text in the Bible. And I expect I will preach on it more often in the future, than I ever have in the past.
It doesn’t bother me near as much as it used to, that I preach on some texts over and over. For one thing, I learned long ago that I am not bright enough to come up with a new text, and a new subject, every time I go into the pulpit.
For another, I believe there are some subjects, and some passages, that need to be preached on over and over . This verse is one of them.
For a long time now, we have been told that we are all an accident. We just somehow evolved. Millions of years ago, our ancestors started out as a little, tiny something on the order of an amoeba. Then, they evolved into something more like a salamander. Before long, they crawled out on dry land and turned into monkeys. Finally, our distant ancestors became what we are now. Just look how far we have come, and can you imagine what we are going to be in ages to come?
It seems that I remember somebody else preaching that same doctrine long before Charles Darwin ever saw the light of day. That ancient evolutionist promised his students, “Ye shall be as gods,” Ge 3:5. When Charles Darwin published his ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES in 1859, he just gave a little more information on how we were supposed to go about it.
By the way, you might be interested to know that the original title of that book was THE ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES and the Preservation of the Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin, Nietzsche, and those other early evolutionists believed the lighter races were so much more highly evolved than the darker races, and the darker races so poorly evolved that the darker races were still closer to animals than they were to humans. Darwin and his friends went on to teach that the darker races were so different to full humans, that the darker races ought not be allowed to reproduce. Later, they taught that the darker races ought not be allowed to survive. They ought to be exterminated to make room for the superior races.
Adolph Hitler was an ardent admirer of Friedrich Nietzsche and Charles
Darwin. That aspect of the evolution doctrine became virtually the state
Life did not evolve from any lower form of life, but you can be sure the
doctrine of evolution has evolved. That aspect of the doctrine has had to
be laid aside.
We are told we are part of a grand accident. We evolved. We might have evolved into horses, or birds, or roach bugs. As it happened, we evolved into human beings.
In school, our little ones are taught that doctrine over and over, and it is drilled into our own minds on such a daily basis, that it, sometimes, becomes a part of our thinking, without our realizing it. It creeps into our language almost undetected. If we are not mighty careful we find ourselves using expressions such as, “Man is the only animal that.......” That is pure evolution, and yet it is a rare person who has never used the expression---usually without realizing what he has said. That doctrine is like water dripping on a rock; it has its effect even on those who are the most sound in the faith.
In its very first verse, the Bible comes directly to the point. It sweeps that doctrine aside. Where did this universe come from? God created it. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
In the first chapter, God refutes the doctrine, and in the third chapter, he tells us where the doctrine came from, and who its first advocate was.
Sometimes I like to preach on just the first four words of that verse. In the beginning God. I am not really fond of the word theology. That sounds too much like biology, and zoology, and paleontology. It makes it sound like Bible truth is simply another of man’s ...ologies. I prefer the simple expression Bible truth. No doubt, that is just another of my prejudices. We all have our prejudices, and that is one of mine.
But if you don’t mind the word, I will tell you there is an entire system of theology in those four words---In the beginning God.
When you come to think about it, that sums up our entire system of doctrine doesn’t it? God gave the entire system in just four words. I wrestle with a subject for an hour, and, sometimes, never get much of anything said.
God says it all in four words. The rest of the Bible is commentary. The rest of the Bible explains those four words---in the beginning God.
In the beginning of what? In the beginning of everything that had a beginning. Not everything had a beginning. God did not have a beginning. Rather, he is the beginning. He always has been. He always will be. He is the eternal one. Everything is one eternal now with him. In the beginning of the natural creation there was God.
In the beginning of the spiritual creation, there is God. All the time I was growing up, I was told, “God wants to save you; he is trying to save you; he is doing the best he can to save everybody he can. He would save a lot more if he could just get better financed, if he could get better organized, if he could get more assistance. If we would just pitch in and help him, he would save more people than he ever has.”
And then there was always that old challenge, “God wants to save you, but you will have to take the first step.” I am sure you have heard that one. God knew somebody would come along with that notion long before anybody ever thought of it, and he nipped that doctrine in the bud before it got started.
Does man have to take the first step? No, no, no, a thousand times, no. The very first verse in the Bible tells us it is, “In the beginning God.” That was the first false doctrine God dealt with.
So far as our home in eternal heaven is concerned, he takes the first step, the last step, and all the steps in between.
In the prophecy of Isaiah, he tells us, “I have trodden the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with me,” Isa 63:3. I have no idea how many steps it takes to tread a winepress, but no matter how many steps that is, he took them all---there was nobody with him.
He is the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I don’t know what somebody else may think, but to me that sounds like he is all of it.
I like an expression I borrowed from a godly, old black preacher out in
If evolutionists can look at the majesty of this universe, and believe it’s just an accident, I am not going to say they are a bunch of idiots, but they must think we are, if they think God’s prayerful, obedient children are going to swallow that doctrine.
There are probably more people, nowadays, claiming to be atheists than there ever have been in the history of the world. I am not sure whether there are any real atheists. There is an old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Even an atheist prays, when he is in immediate danger. He may insist he is an atheist five minutes before, and five minutes after; but when he is facing immediate danger, it is very likely he will pray.
Somebody wrote a book recently entitled THE ATHEIST’S SYNDROME. At least, to the best of my memory, that was the title. I did not read the entire book, but I did read enough to get the gist of it. The contention of the book was that there is a clear connection between atheism and insanity. He argued that no truly sane person can be an atheist---other than on a superficial level. He argued that any truly sane person who thinks he is an atheist believes that way, only because he has never taken the time to think it through.
I think he was probably right. I appreciate anybody who confirms my prejudices. I don’t see how any sane person could ever look at this universe and imagine it is all an accident.
If by atheist, you mean somebody who believes there is no god of any kind anywhere in the world, by definition, there are not, and cannot be, any true atheists.
There are simply people who believe in a different kind of god than you and I do. The universe itself prevents any sane person from being an atheist. This universe is very nearly infinite, very nearly boundless. It is not infinite; only God is infinite, but the universe is very nearly so. It reflects infinite wisdom in the design and construction of it. It reflects infinite power in the construction and preservation of it.
You can be sure that whatever has infinite wisdom, whatever has infinite power, whatever is eternal, is God. If the universe created itself, and that is what the evolutionists want us to believe, then the universe must have infinite wisdom and power. And if that is true, the universe must be God. That doctrine is called pantheism. That is the generic name for the old pagan religion called Gaia. That was the doctrine Paul was talking about, when he referred to those who “worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator,” Ro 1:25. They could not tell the difference between the Creator and his creation. But that doctrine is not true; God is the one and only Creator.
The universe came about somehow. Either God created it, or some-body else created it, or it is eternal---it created itself. Those are the only three options available.
The evolutionist believes the universe was produced by the properties, and energies, and forces, inherent in the universe.
That is, they believe the universe produced itself. Bear in mind that whoever, or whatever, produced the universe, of necessity, had to have infinite power and wisdom. If the universe was produced by the properties, energies, and forces inherent in the universe, those properties, energies, and forces must, of necessity, have infinite power and wisdom.
So the evolutionist attributes the universe, the very earth under our feet, with having virtually infinite power, and wisdom. Bear in mind that the earth is made up of a little water, but mostly rock and dirt. And it is this earth the evolutionist would have us believe evolved itself into all we see around us today. They believe the earth, and all the rest of the universe, for that matter, created itself.
Now we are getting to the real difference between the Bible-believing child of God and the evolutionist. The Bible-believing child of God believes in the almighty, creative power of God. The evolutionist believes in the almighty creative power of rocks and dirt. And they have the audacity to call us fanatics.
We hear a lot about the ecology, nowadays. Environmentalists have ever so much to say about how the ecology is so perfectly in balance, how every aspect of the ecology has its own particular place, its own little niche to fill. They tell us if we get the ecology out of balance---if something is removed from its place--- it just messes up the entire scheme of things.
I wonder who they think put the ecology in such balance in the first place? Who put our own bodies in such balance, that if some little part of it gets out of balance we are in so much trouble?
I had a friend several years ago, who died because the copper in his system got out of balance. I never hear much about copper in our system. I hear a lot about iron deficiency, and other kinds of deficiencies, but I rarely hear about copper deficiency. But somehow or other, the very tiny amount of copper in his system got out of balance, and it killed him.
God put these bodies of ours in balance when he created Adam. But the evolutionist would have us believe it is just an accident that every trace element in our system happens to be perfectly balanced with every other trace element.
God has given us all kinds of evidence of what he has done. The very complexity of the universe is its own evidence.
One of the grandest proofs of the depravity and blindness of the human heart is the fact that scientific men are no more religious than most of them are. They ought to be. Scientists ought to be the most religious people walking this planet.
Studying the wonders of the universe as they do, why do more of them not believe in the power and the majesty of God? Why is that? It is because of the blindness of the human heart.
I remember, when I was in school, we studied the various kinds of rock. Among all the others, we studied sedimentary rock. By definition, sedimentary rock is rock settled out of water. They talked about a time, millions and millions of years ago, when the earth was covered with water. They love to use those big figures. They know if they use those big figures, there are not going to be any eyewitnesses still around to contradict what they say. So they can make up just about anything they want to.
But, anyway, they told us there was a time when, for millions of years, this entire continent was under water. They explained that during those millions of years ever so much sediment settled out of water. That is what sediment is; it is stuff that has settled out of a liquid. They told us the result was the sedimentary rock we see all around us. Somehow, they didn’t seem to realize they had just described the Genesis Flood. Anyway, they were sure those waters could not have been the Genesis Flood, because they were sure the Genesis Flood is only a myth. Besides, their waters covered the earth millions of years ago, and nobody claims it has been that long since the flood of Noah’s day.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
I know next to nothing about hydraulics, or geology, but anybody with enough sense to come in out of the rain knows that if you stir up a mess of dirt and rocks in water, it is going to settle out in fairly short order. It does not take millions of years. But these evolutionists are sure it really did take millions of years for all that mess to settle out and make sedimentary rock.
Also, bear in mind that those layers of sedimentary rock are sometimes hundreds, or even thousands, of feet thick. In order for there to be that much material gathered up in the water, the water had to be moving with a lot of force, and it had to continue to move with that same force for millions of years. They cannot tell us what kept the water moving with that kind of force for so long a time. After all, they tell us it took millions of years for all those layers of rock to form; so the water must have been in motion all during that time.
But, that thought seems never to have occurred to them, and if you ask one of them about it, all of a sudden he goes blind and dumb.
Then one day, as a little boy, I realized the Bible told us exactly how and when all the sedimentary rock came about. That is some (just some) of the evidence God has left us of the Genesis flood. The waters were not disturbed for millions of years; they were disturbed for forty days, and forty nights (Ge 7:12). And it did not take millions of years for the sediment to settle; it took part of one year, from the six hundredth to the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life (Ge 7:11; 8:13).
The evolutionist tells us there never could have been such a flood as the Bible describes. They tell us that if you could wring out every drop of moisture in the atmosphere, you could only cause a world-wide flood somewhat less than knee deep.
There can be no question. Meteorologists have equipment capable of measuring the water content of the atmosphere accurately enough to make that statement, and we can be sure they are telling it right. All the water vapor on earth is insufficient to cause a knee deep world-wide flood.
Then the evolutionist wants to know, “Does that fact not bother you?” No, of course not, why should it? That is just one more of those instances where they think they know what we believe better than we do. They forget that the Bible talks about the waters coming down; it does not say a word about the waters going back up again. Those waters that came down were “the waters which were above the firmament (the atmosphere)” we read about in Genesis chapter one. Before the flood they were up there, now they are down here.
If you would like to see the waters of the Genesis Flood, it is a very
simple matter. From any point in the
In the book of Ps 104, beginning at verse 5, we read, (Ps 104:5)“Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever. Thou coveredst it (the earth) with a deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.” That’s talking about the Genesis Flood.
“The waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains they go down by the valleys,” Ps 104:6-8. Where did they go? He goes on to tell us, “....unto the place where thou hast founded for them.”
Where did the waters of the flood go? The Bible does not say one word about the waters of the flood evaporating. That is simply a ruse others have used to discredit the Bible. The Bible says clearly enough that the waters came down. It says nothing at all about their going back up.
The text reads, “They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.” The language could not be clearer; God founded (prepared) a place for the waters of the flood. Then at his rebuke, at the voice of his thunder they hasted (hurried) to the place he prepared for them.
He goes on to say that after the waters of the flood came to rest in the place he founded for them, “Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth,” Ps 104:9. He founded a place them; he rebuked them; they hasted to that place; then he ordered them to stay put. With all that information provided by God himself, it does not take a rocket scientist to discover where the waters of the flood went.
If you want to know where the waters went, just find out where all the water is. It is a simple matter to see that the oceans of the world are the very waters that covered the earth in Noah’s day.
But, how did they go from covering the earth to filling the oceans of the world? Again, the text tells us. “At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away....unto the place thou hast founded for them,” Ps 104:7-8. God founded a place (prepared a place) for the waters; he simply increased the capacity of the oceans to receive those waters, and at his rebuke they hasted to that place.
Notice he says, “At the voice of thy thunder they hasted away” Ps 104:7. We cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like when God thundered in the heavens, dropped the bottoms of the oceans, and the waters of the flood rushed to the place he had founded for them.
More than that, can you imagine how those waters must have sloshed back and forth until God finally “set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth,” Ps 104:9.
To give just one more proof text about that day when God commanded those mighty waves to stay put, in Job we read, “Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb . . . . . And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall they proud waves be stayed,” Job 38:8,10-11.
Can you imagine what great gashes (canyons, if you will) those waters cut in the earth, when they were sloshing back and forth, before God finally commanded them to stay put.
To give just one illustration, the Colorado River, as wild and rugged as it
is, does not carry enough water to cut a canyon a mile deep, five miles wide,
and two hundred miles long---but the Pacific Ocean does, and it did. I
don’t want to offend anybody, but anybody who can believe the Colorado
River cut the
But they tell us, “It took millions of years.” That might
explain how the
When God dropped the bottoms of the oceans, all that displaced material had to go somewhere. Where did it go? God has provided us with an entire world full of evidence as to where all that displaced material went, and that expression, an entire world full, is not a figure of speech. The world is literally full of the evidence.
Bear in mind that sedimentary rock is rock settled out of water. Wherever you go, in the mountainous areas of this country, you can see those layers upon layers of sedimentary rock. Each layer is different from the layer above, and the layer below it. That is because, when those sedimentary rock layers were forming, the waters of the flood were still sloshing back and forth. They would slosh in one direction, and they would deposit the material they gathered in that direction. They would slosh in the other direction, and deposit a different kind of material they had gathered in that direction, until finally, according to Job, God said, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed,” Job 38:11. After those waters had done their work, God commanded them to stay put in the place he had founded for them (Ps 104:8).
Also bear in mind that sediment goes down; it settles on the floor; it does not settle on the wall. Depending on the surface on which it is accumulating, it settles in a fairly even pattern. It does not settle at steep angles, and it does not settle in long, wavy, undulating patterns, like corrugated roofing. But, when we look at those layers of sedimentary rock in the mountains, that is exactly what we do see. The layers of sedimentary rock are in every pattern imaginable. Some of it is in smooth, level layers, but more often than not, it is at some kind of an angle. Sometimes the layers are almost vertical; some-times they are in long, wavy patterns; and sometimes they are all out of joint.
Sometimes they look, for all the world, like a giant quilt somebody has pushed from one side until it is all crumpled and folded. And there is the answer to our question. After all that rock had formed, while it was still somewhat soft, God thundered in the heavens, his mighty hand dropped the bottoms of the oceans to found a place for the waters to haste away to, and that same mighty hand that dropped the bottoms of the oceans, pushed aside all that soft, pliable rock, like a gigantic quilt, to found a place for the waters of the flood.
Then, all over this planet, he laid bare his mighty arm in exposing that sedimentary rock, so that no matter where we may go, before long, we come face to face with undeniable evidence of what he did.
In some places so much material was pushed aside to make room for the waters, the displaced material was pushed up into lofty mountains. It is in the mountains those layers of sedimentary rock take on such strange patterns. And it is in those mountains that we see the clearest evidence they have been pushed from somewhere---pushed aside to make room for the waters of the Genesis Flood.
“That in all things he might have the preeminence,” Col 1:18.
“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last,” Re 1:11.
IN YOU AND ABOUND
By Elder Mark Green
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Pe 1:8).
In this verse, the condition to which we are admonished is that of being fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. Peter gives two things that must happen for that to be true. He says that “these things” must be in us and that they must abound. The conjunction “and” makes it clear that both the things mentioned must happen in order for the result to take place. Peter’s admonition is that we would “add to” our faith “these things” which he mentions – virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity.
The first of the conditions listed is that these things “be in you.” This is God’s work, and it is done certainly and infallibly in every child of God. He writes His laws in our hearts; He is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” These things are placed in us when we are born of the Spirit. They are from above - heavenly things that are gifts of God.
The certainty of these things being in each child of God is seen in the fact that Peter does not say, “Add faith.” Faith is sometimes used in the Scriptures to represent the entire work of grace. We are not saved by what we do, but by what God has wrought, and in the context of our discussion, particularly of what God has wrought in us. “Faith” here represents the whole of what God does in us – and it is by grace, for it is God’s work. We possess faith as a result of His work, not by our work.
Peter says that in order for us to be fruitful, these things must be in us “and abound.” We do not add faith, but we are able to “add to” faith. Obviously, the other attributes listed in addition to faith are God’s gifts just as much as faith is, and no child of God could exhibit them if they were not first placed in him by God’s grace. We are told to “add” them, not in the sense of having them or having the ability to do those things, but in the sense of exercising them and putting them to use in the service of God.
Paul rebuked the Hebrews because they had been content to remain in an elementary condition. They were still “unskillful in the word of righteousness” because they had not applied themselves to the study of God’s word. They had not exerted themselves to exercise their spiritual senses to discern between good and evil. They were ignorant and weak, and seemed to be satisfied to stay that way. They had not “added to” their faith.
We need to be very careful to notice what Peter does not say in our text. First, he does not say that our “adding to” was necessary for these things to be in us; and second, he does not say that their being in us was by itself sufficient for them to abound. We do not possess grace in our hearts because of our efforts or doing. We are not born again by or because of our works, as the Scriptures make very clear in more than one place.
On the other hand, we cannot expect that we will bring forth that “much fruit” which glorifies God apart from our “adding to.” As in the parable, if our talents are to multiply, then they must be “invested wisely” (put to use in the service of God).
This verse shows very clearly the relationship between eternal and gospel salvation. Both are necessary for a person to be fruitful as he should be. The first is God’s work alone; our works are in no wise involved in our regeneration. The second depends upon God’s grace, but requires effort on our part. Without both of these there will not be that prosperous condition – a salvation or deliverance from the spiritual leanness which so afflicts so many of God’s people.
The INCARNATION (Humanity) of Christ: Lemuel Potter: Among other things that Elder Paine preached, besides the no-soul doctrine, as I have stated in another chapter, was that the flesh and bones of Christ and his human nature had existed in heaven from all eternity. I had about as little use for this as for the no-soul doctrine, or the non-resurrection doctrine, and I had frequent conversations with him upon that subject. I also believe that Jesus Christ took everything from the Virgin Mary, his mother, that pertains to his humanity. (Lemuel Potter)
“In his days
This is a portion of the prophecy of Jeremiah, concerning the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, and is doubtless in perfect harmony with all that is written in the law and in the Psalms and prophets concerning him. As there are some controversies in the present age about the humanity of Christ, and we have often feared, many contentions by some without that strict and impartial investigation of the subject that every one should give before taking a permanent position, we have concluded not only to take a position, but to appeal to inspiration as the author of whatever position we may assume, as well as our warrant for opposing erroneous sentiments on this subject.
The first impression that we wish to make is, that it is the humanity and not the divinity of Christ that this brief chapter will treat of; for while there may be a dissension between ourselves and others on the eternal humanity of Christ, we presume all will agree on his eternal divinity. If, therefore, the eternal existence of Christ should be denied in this investigation of the subject, it will be his humanity. The doctrine of the eternal humanity of Christ, we expect to disprove in this chapter, and to this question the chapter is devoted.
The verse preceding the one at the head of this chapter will doubtless prove advantageous to the cause in which we now engage. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment in the earth.” We do not apprehend for a moment that any would deny that the prophet in this language has direct allusion to Christ. Being confident that there will be no dispute on this point, we will examine closely what idea the language conveys.
In the first place, allow us to say, that whatever of Christ might have existed before this, the branch here spoken of was something else. And while there are strong advocates for the doctrine that the body of Christ is eternal, we should notice very careful what is said on the subject. Whatever it was that is so frequently called a branch of David, or seed of David, is what he took from his mother, whether it be blood exclusively, or flesh, bone and blood.
We may also further consider that this branch came out of David, and not out of eternity. “And there shall come forth a root out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots,” Isa 11:1. Let us not forget that this is a prophecy, and that if it has ever been fulfilled, it has been since it was spoken by the prophets, and that the only existence this branch had at the time of the prophecy was in the loins of Jesse.
If he did exist in eternity, in flesh and bone he could not be the seed of
David according to the flesh. Neither could it be true that he is in any way
related to us in fleshly relation. But, in the Scriptural account of the
succession of the kings of Israel, we have the following, “And when he
removed him (Saul) he raised up unto the David to be their king; to whom also
he gave testimony, and said: I Have found David the son of Jesse, a man after
my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath
God, according to his promise, raised unto
Let it be understood that in whatever sense Christ is related to David, is what is meant here. If he was not related to him at all, he is not of his seed; and more, to deny any relation is to deny the truth of the Scriptures quoted. Of this man’s seed God had promised to raise up a Savior, Jesus.
What are we to understand from the expression, “this man’s
seed?” Is it not plain to all that the manner in which it is used refers
to his lineage, or posterity? Then Christ was of that particular lineage, and
as he himself declares, he is the “root and the offspring of David, and
the bright and morning star,” Re 22:16.
The seed of David is doubtless his offspring. It is in this sense that he is
the Lion of the tribe of
It is he that is spoken of in this language: “The sceptre shall not
Shiloh, in this text, simply means Christ, and Judah is one of the twelve
sons of Jacob, the head of one of the twelve tribes of
If the Lord sprang out of
But the objector says that his flesh and bone and nature were in heaven, and were put forth in the womb of the Virgin Mary when she was overshadowed by the Holy Ghost, and then he took his blood. But a difficulty occurs in this. John, in his vision of the book sealed with seven seals, saw, “A strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.”
After John had wept, doubtless under the true conviction of his heart of the dreadful state of affairs, looking at and meditating upon the justice of God’s wrath kindled against a ruined and wretched world, “One of the elders said, weep not; behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the root of David hath prevailed to take the book, and to open the seven seals thereof.”
The difficulty is, where was the body of Christ, at that time? It could not
have been in heaven, nor earth, nor under the earth; for none was found in
either that was able to do the work of opening the sealed book. But the branch
of David, the son of man, the high priest from the tribe of
But let us proceed with the Scriptural testimony relative to his assuming humanity. The apostle gives the following admonition: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Php 2:5,8.
What was it that was made in the likeness of men? It could not have been his
body, if it existed in eternity in the form of a man; for that which already
existed could not be made. It could not have been human nature if he always
possessed that, and yet he was made in the likeness of men. In this it seems
clear from the Scriptures already noted, that he became like a man by taking on
him the nature of and body of a man. Whatever the nature of a man is, is the
human nature, and it is strictly in this sense that he was of the tribe of
But I am asked, what was it that took this nature? I answer, Divinity. And when, Divinity took upon himself the form and nature of a man, he possessed two natures—human and divine.
When the angel explained to Joseph the condition of Mary, he did not say that an eternal human body or nature had been put forth in the womb of the blessed Virgin, but that something was conceived or begotten in her; he did not say it was of humanity, but of the Holy Ghost, Mt 1:20. Hence the truth that he is begotten of God, and is known in the Scripture as the only begotten of the Father, Joh 3:15,18. Jesus being thus begotten of God and born of the Virgin Mary, comes into the world just what had been promised from the time man needed a Savior.
It is sometimes said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and the doctrine of the eternal humanity of Christ being an invention of some one, we have often wondered what was the necessity of it. For the Bible never mentions eternal humanity at all.
Then let us ask all who may read this, and at the same time believe the doctrine of eternal humanity, what advantage is it to you? Is the doctrine of the perfection of God in all attributes easier established by assuming that position? Is the doctrine of election and salvation by grace through Christ more easily established by holding the doctrine of eternal humanity than it would otherwise be? Is it any advantage to you in establishing any one or more of the doctrinal points in the Bible?
If not, and you find nothing said about eternal humanity, why do you contend for it so earnestly to the great grief of those who wish to have, at least, one “Thus saith the Lord” for what they believe? But it is sometimes urged that God is immutable, yet “It repented him that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart,” Ge 4:6.
It is thought that as God never changes, the one who repented of making man was the humanity of God, or it was Christ. It is further urged that to say otherwise would involve us in a difficulty which we could not solve, for God never changes. But suppose we show that Christ as God is just as immutable as the Father, especially when spoken of as the Lord, as in this case, would it be any easier solved then, by claiming the doctrine of eternal humanity?
Let us see if the Son as well as the Father, is not unchangeable. “But unto the Son, he saith, Thy throne, O God, if forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath appointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands. They shall perish, but thou remainest; and they shall all wax old as doth a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail,” Heb 1:8,12.
In this quotation the Father addresses the Son. And it is certain the language of the text is as emphatic on the immutability of the Son, as it ever occurs relative to the Father; but this is not all, for when we read in the Scriptures of the “three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost,” he says emphatically, “and these three are one,” 1Jo 5:7.
If the three are one, we would think that they were all three immutable alike. One is not contrary to the other, so that one can be unchangeable and the other not.
So, without introducing any further testimony to prove the immutability of Christ, it is plain that to assume the doctrine of eternal humanity does not let us out of the difficulty introduced in the case above referred to. Hence, we now propose to notice him in his original capacity. In his original nature he is God. His name—Son of God—imports divinity; “The same in substance, equal in power and glory,” with the Father and the Holy Ghost. He is called God in the highest; God over all; the true, the great God, Jehovah; Jehovah of hosts.
“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple,” Isa 6:1. The Son of God, or “The Word,” is equally holy with the Father.
“And one cried unto another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory,” Isa 6:3. The works of creation are ascribed to him. “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; the heavens are the work of thy hands,” Ps 102:24-25.
How beautifully this language harmonizes with the first verses of
Such extremes are doubtless necessary in the work of advocating the doctrine of the eternal humanity of God. But in this text only one word is mentioned, and that one is both God and with God. It is one of the three that bear record in heaven; and these three being one God, it is impossible to speak of one and not the others.
If we call upon God in our petitions at a throne of grace, we address the Three; and so, if we call on the Word or Holy Spirit. Either of these is properly God. One of the three, to-wit: the Word is the one mentioned in the verse quoted. The Word was in the beginning, and was truly God; and also was just as truly with God, being with the Father and the Holy Ghost.
“The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made.”
Let us not forget that the subject here is the Word, one of the three that bear record in heaven; and that so far as his existence is concerned, he is co-eternal with the Father.
We read on down to the 14th verse (Joh 1:14); it is said, “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” But when we ask, how could that be made flesh, that was always flesh?
We are met with the answer: It does not say when it was made flesh. That indeed is masterly, as if it could be eternal at all, and yet be made. It does not matter when it was made flesh; but was it made flesh at all? If so, flesh is not eternal; for that which is made is not eternal. The Word was eternal, but flesh was not. Hence, when we speak of the Word that was in the beginning, we speak of the Son in his original capacity.
We have already said that in his original nature he is God, and that the works of creation were ascribed to him. “For thy Maker is thine husband. The Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called,” Isa 54:5.
This quotation tells what he is, the nearness that he sustains to his bride, and what he shall be called in the future. We see all this verified; for after he had taken upon himself the form of a servant, and become obedient unto death, “God [for that reason] hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Php 2:9-10.
Although it was by him the worlds were made, and he is truly said to have come down from heaven; yet his flesh and bone; or human nature, did not come down; for it was “made of a woman, made under the law, [not made in heaven,] to redeem them that were under the law,” Ga 4:4-5.
Notwithstanding he was in the fulness of time, made of a woman, yet in his original state all the attributes of God did belong to him. We have already shown that he was as unchangeable as the Father, so is he everlasting. “But thou, Bethlehem, Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he c