*A SELECTION OF TRACTS
WITH ACCOMPANYING NOTES
SOULS GIVEN TO CHRIST
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
in our life-time have we needed a more absolute grip on the central facts of the
Faith; and never was it more essential to get back to bedrock truth on God’s
purpose from eternity to save those whom He intends to save. Falling conversions, and partially failing
missions; collapsing missionary societies; a hardening of the unbelievers whom
we meet, nearly all the theological colleges of the
Our enormous background is an assertion of the Most High Himself. God says:- “ALL SOULS ARE MINE” (Ezek. 18: 4). God’s property in souls is not derived, as man’s property is, but original: all souls are His, not by conveyance from another owner, or by purchase, but by right of creation: every being who has ever lived on earth into whom God has breathed an immortal spirit belongs, therefore, to Him in whom we “live and move and have our being”. Such is the wealth of God! He owns souls - thinking, free-willed, deathless souls, made in the image of God; He has an absolute, unquestionable right to them, for He made them out of nothing; and, in the nature of all property, the awful responsibility is upon God Himself as to what shall be their eternal destiny.
A nearer background, still vast, but confined to the redeemed, is the background which dominates our Lord’s mind in His prayer to His Father: the simple fact that the whole of the redeemed have been made over to Christ for ever. “The men whom thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them to me” (John 17: 6): “I pray for those whom thou hast given me” (ver. 9): “keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me” (ver. 11): “I kept them which thou hast given me” (ver. 12). It is not that they cease to be the Father’s, “for”, Jesus says (ver. 9), “they are thine; and all things that are mine are thine”: but they are now the peculiar property of our Lord, given to Him as patients are given to a physician, or as sheep to a shepherd, or as pupils to a teacher, or as subjects to a king. Thus all salvation is carried on according to an eternal purpose and an exact plan of God: divine foreknowledge, never at fault, foresees and effects according to an exact transference of souls from God to Christ. “For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained; and whom he foreordained, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Rom. 8: 29). So sure is the Divine decree that the foreknown are already, in everlasting fact, the glorified.
So, therefore, on the eve of His crucifixion the Lord reveals His response to the Father’s gift, and what the consequence is of a soul being given to Christ. “While I was with them, I kept them in thy name which thou hast given me: and I guarded them” - another word: I kept them as with a military guard – “and not one of them perished; but the son of perdition” is lost. They are weak and cannot keep themselves, and so must be kept: they are jewels bought at enormous cost, therefore worth keeping: they are the personal possession of our Lord, the wealth which He most values, and so omnipotently guarded. “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I make up my jewels” (Mal. 3: 17).
Now we reach as stupendous, as reassuring, as purely divine a prophecy as ever was uttered. “All that which the Father giveth me” - the neuter, also used elsewhere (John 3: 6; 17: 2) of persons, covers the whole body of believers – “SHALL COME UNTO ME”: “all” - without exception; all down the ages, until the last soul that is given; all the Father giveth me “shall reach me”, shall arrive in the Everlasting Arms. No gross neglect of ours, however grave may be the consequences of that neglect to ourselves, can involve the loss of a single soul; and if we concentrated all our power on stopping them coming, even with the might of an empire, we could not block one: for it is a secret transaction between God and the soul; and “all,” Jesus says, “shall come.”* It is possible most seriously to misuse this truth. We may say that as the elect are certain of eternal life, therefore I can fold my hands; that God’s work is automatic, and therefore independent of me; that my own soul need be my only anxiety. A thousand Scriptures must be cancelled if such an attitude is to be assumed. But, on the other hand, the very repose of God enters the soul which grasps this truth. Conversions may die down; whole Churches - like the African, the Nestorian, the Asiatic - may be wiped out of entire countries; the Church itself may grow rotten and corrupt and the shades of the Great Tribulation be ready to fall:- nevertheless, not one soul will be wanting which God has given to Jesus Christ, in the Day that He makes up His jewels.
* This negatives a truly awful fear felt by some of our evangelical brethren. A woman who lived in the flat above Commissioner Samuel Bringle heard him preach in a Methodist church and asked if she might come down to his family prayers. One morning she was late and listened outside the door; the Commissioner so prayed that the woman was brought to her Saviour’s feet. He “trembled for days at the thought of how she might have been lost” if his prayer had been unloving or vindictive as he mentioned the rift in the Army. But Jesus says that “all shall come”.
But now we suddenly find the reverse truth - rather, the complementary truth - uttered in the same breath by our Lord; and in both the utterance of Jehovah and the utterance of Christ a vast gulf yawns between Law and Grace. Jehovah’s utterance is this:- “Behold, all souls are mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezek. 18: 4): Hell looms up at once over God’s universal property. But our Lord’s utterance, while it involves the same truth, is worlds asunder:- “All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out:” that is, Heaven rises at once as possible for the whole world, and not alone for those given to Christ.
So now two apparently antagonistic, but really complementary, truths are uttered by our Lord in one breath, and the wise believer accepts both. Let us balance them for a moment. “Men have now seized one and now the other of these truths, and have built upon them in separation logical systems of doctrine which are but half-truths. The Lord Jesus states them in union. Their reconciliation transcends human reason, but is within the experience of human life” (Archdeacon Watkins). Jesus says, on the one hand:- “No man can come to me, except the Father which sent me draw him: everyone that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, COMETH UNTO ME” (John 6: 44). All apparent ‘coming’ to Christ, and especially mass conversions, which is the result of hurricanes of emotion and not the effect of ‘hearing’ the Father, is worthless. On the other hand, Jesus also says:- “Him that cometh unto me” - not him that is given unto Me – “I will in no wise cast out;” and His last cry to men is this:- “He that is athirst, let him come: WHOSOEVER WILL, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22: 17)*
* Since “God willeth that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2: 4), He gives none to Hell, but suffers those not given to Christ to decide their own destiny, after a bona fide offer of salvation through the Saviour of an entire world.
Now therefore we are face to face with Christ’s broadcast. “Him that cometh”: no bodily act is intended, for crowds thronged and jostled our Lord to whom He said:- “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” The ‘coming’ is a sense of danger, a consciousness of guilt, an apprehension of Hell; and an enlightened understanding of who Christ is, and what he has done - my Saviour. “Him that cometh I will in no wise cast out.” “Take every other verse out of the Scriptures, and leave but this, and you have a foundation on which a world of souls may build their hopes and never be put to shame” (E. Miller). “Him that cometh” - that is all rich or poor, free or slave, old or young, moral or depraved coming at once, or coming after months or years; coming hopefully and running, or coming anxiously and carried: all who come reach Christ. And what is the promise? “I will in no, wise” - a double negative: I will never, never – “cast out.” If, then, I am sure of a welcome, why do I stay away from Jesus? And if I stay away, whose fault will it be if I am lost? The moment I will to come is the moment I know that I have been given.*
* “This declaration involves the doctrine of election: there are some whom the Father gave to Christ. It involves the doctrine of effectual calling: these who are given must and shall come; however stoutly they may set themselves against it, yet they shall be brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous light. It teaches us the indispensable necessity of faith; for even those who are given to Christ are not saved except they come to Jesus. Even they must come, for there is no other way to heaven, but by the door, Christ Jesus. All that the Father gives to our Redeemer must come to Him, therefore none can come to heaven except they come to Christ. Oh! the power and majesty which rest in the words ‘shall come.’ He does not say they have power to come, nor they may come if they will, but they ‘shall come.’ The Lord Jesus doth by His messengers, His Word, and His Spirit, sweetly and graciously compel men to come in that they may eat of His marriage supper”(C. H. Spurgeon).
Now the Holy Spirit has photographed for all time, behind the closed doors of the Upper Room, two empty seats. The occupant of one, after taking the sop, had gone out into the night, an outstanding sorrow of every preacher’s heart:- missing faces, that come for a moment into the light, slide away into the darkness, and will never be seen again until the Great White Throne. But an apostle’s empty seat is far more tragic; for it had been filled for three years: now, as the seat of the first great apostate of all time, it is empty for ever. Such are the antichrists who withdraw from the Church. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest how that they all are not of us” (1 John 2: 19).
Thomas [also] embodies for nineteen centuries the absent church member; for “Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them” (John 20: 24). No remotest reason is given for his absence, thus covering, doubtless designedly, all possible causes which ought never to have been.* The Saviour Himself draws attention to its gravity: for He says to Thomas:- “Become not faithless”: he had taken the first step on the road to apostasy.
* Love imperatively demands, however, that we very carefully bear in mind the reasons for absence that are perfectly legitimate. It may be removal to another church, under what is believed (rightly or wrongly) to be Divine leading; or it may be illness, or the illness of others at home, or unavoidable home duties; or it may be professional duties falling sometimes on part or the whole of the Lord’s Day; or it may be an exhaustion after the week’s work which makes attendance possible, but not wise; or it may be Christian work elsewhere for the day, or for a part of it.
* * *
THE ROYAL LAW
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
is critically important that we should guard ourselves against fresh dangers as
they arise; and the disintegration of the
Now the rebuke of the Apostle James - “Why dost thou judge thy brother?” (Jas. 4: 12) - makes it necessary first of all to clear the ground on judgment. God has implanted in every one of us, though in varying degree, the critical faculty, righteous judgment, a strong reaction against evil anywhere and in anyone: it may be our Christian duty to pronounce upon character and conduct; and we require to judge, mentally, for our own moral guidance and blamelessness. In the case of the six excommunicating sins (1 Cor. 5: 11) we are actually to expel. Every year deepens the need of strong language based on judgment - sound judgment, balanced judgment, and especially judgment based carefully on the Holy Scriptures - uttered without fear or favour; and such considerations reveal that it is not against moral duties such as these that the rebuke of the Apostle is levelled.
Again, we need to clear the ground further by exactly defining our own peculiar danger. The danger we are pondering is not calumny or slander; or arrogant censoriousness; or overweening pride. It hardly needs a Paul or a James to warn us against these. Our danger, much more subtle, is such a growth of corrupt doctrine, such a lowering of the standard of Christian life, that, in our passionate revolt, we shall single out individual Christians for attack, showing them openly that they have forfeited our love. “Speak not against one another, brethren” (Jas. 4: 11): it is personal denunciation, not denunciation in the mass, that is forbidden. James himself says in this very chapter:- “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” but he does not name them.
Now this wonderful Book gives us the reasons why we are not to judge one another; and the first is this:- “He that speaketh against a brother or judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law and judgeth the law.” What law? The Apostle himself, in an earlier chapter (2: 8), puts it beyond all doubt. “If ye fulfil the royal law, according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well.” The royal law, underlying both the Mosaic law and the Gospel - that is, underlying all revelation - is love; and if we “speak against one another” - when not compelled to do so, nor justified in doing so - our criticism of our brother condemns the law which forbids it. We ‘judge’ the law, as though it were unrighteous in its prohibitions; we ‘speak against it’ by our action, as over-stringent, and forbidding us to do what we ought: whereas he who loves his neighbour as himself takes an exactly opposite course; he will take care to inflict on him as little pain as is possible, and will put the best possible construction on his acts. We do well to concentrate on ourselves, rather than on our brother. A great runner, who had broken several of the world’s track records, said that all his successes came because he was always trying to get ahead of himself. “I never pay any attention to how fast the other fellow is running,” he said; “whether he wins or loses doesn’t make any difference to me; I always try to beat myself.”
The Apostle next reveals that, by such criticism of our brother, we have landed ourselves in a false position and have assumed a forbidden role. “But if thou judgest the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge”; and the position of a judge is a role forbidden to the child of God in this dispensation. Our Lord says: “judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matt. 7: 1). That is, I decide the principle on which the Judgment Seat will handle me: if I act with mercy and compassion now, mercy and compassion will be measured to me then; if I exact rigid justice, rigid justice is what I must meet at the judgment bar of God.
But now we reach the crucial solution, of the problem, the one missing fact that restores the balance and satisfies our souls. “One only is the lawgiver and judge.” God is the judge because He is the lawgiver: He who created all law is the perfect exponent of its meaning, the exact revealer of its fulfilment or non-fulfilment, and the perfect apportioner of its reward or punishment. We are apt to put their errors and faults, or the wounds they give us, in a setting out of all proportion to the character and life of our offenders: our glorious God can, and will, exactly adjust it all; and for the most part He has reserved all such judgment to the future. “I have a big vengeance waiting for my evil neighbours,” a man once said to his Christian friend. “Then,” the friend replied, “you must have stolen it; for God says, ‘Vengeance is mine’.” Judgment is to be left to God; and under the awe of this coming judgment we are to walk softly. Paul has expressed it for all time (Rom. 14: 10):- “But thou, why dost thou judge thy brother? or thou again, why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God. So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge ye this rather, that no man put a stumbling-block in his brother’s way, or an occasion of falling.”
A vivid detail of the Apostle drives home the point still further and discloses the master-key to the problem. “One only is the lawgiver and judge, even he who is able to save and to destroy”, and so alone able to judge to a nicety all degrees of offence, and all grades of award, between salvation and destruction. Only He who can execute the sentences has the right to pronounce them, and He is going to do both. This completely satisfies our sense of justice, our passion for righteousness: what hurts us in our brother, and rightly hurts us, we are not tolerating, or excusing, or condoning: we keep our hands off because we are conscious, in sympathetic awe, that it must all appear at the bar of God. Rightly understood, this is the death-blow of sectarianism; for sectarianism, at its best is the exclusion of a fellow-believer from fellowship because of what we most sincerely believe (and it may be correctly) insufficient or incorrect doctrine, or inadequate or improper conduct;* and so sectarianism thinks to vindicate the truth, and enforce righteousness: whereas the Apostles reveal that a real judgment is coming, which will set all wrongs in the Church right, and our resentment is to be swallowed up in awe, compassion, and sympathy. Paul took shelter for himself under this truth. He says (1 Cor. 4: 3):- “With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified:* but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness” - the facts in my brother’s life and character which I did not know – “and make manifest the counsels of the hearts” - his motives which I never knew – “and then shall each man have his praise from God”.
* In other words, any known sinlessness in a believer is impossible on this side of the Judgment Seat. Even a Paul had no such knowledge.
So the Apostle James closes with a final challenge on our capacity for judging. “But who art thou that judgest thy brother?” Are you qualified to be a judge of the human soul, and by whose authority do you assume the role? - this question the Apostle presses home on every one of us, without exception. “Is there in you that blamelessness of life, that gravity of behaviour, that purity of motive, that severe control of tongue, that freedom from contamination from the world, that overflowing love, which would qualify for judgment?” (A. Plummer, D.D.).
tremendous danger lies in judging the motive when only the act is known: the
motive is the soul of an act, and the only judge of motives is God. Sir
Ernest Shackleton was once asked to tell his most
terrible moment in the
*NOTE: THE CHURCH
is almost impossible to believe, but it
appears to be true, that Jew-hate is poisoning the
“I saw such monstrous anti-Semitism, such hatred, such gleeful malice, such murderous loathing among these supposedly ‘fundamental’ Christians as to turn the blood cold and make the heart sick. Do not tell me, in your tolerance, that only a few fools felt that way toward us. I know better. From the highest to the lowest, through every stratum of society this venom runs, stronger, more poisonous, more deadly day by day. It is not confined now to a mere county, a mere section, a mere religion. It is virulent and malignant, spreading with lightening rapidity, devouring, destroying, hungry and murderous.”
* * *
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
a man - for a nation - for a world one spot in the universe, and one alone, God
has decreed as the place where peace can be found. No phrase is more common on all lips to-day
than Peace and Safety - peace and collective security; simultaneously gigantic
armaments are being heaped up by all nations for war; at any moment a war
greater than the Great War may swamp the world; and a war is actually being
carried on at this moment which, for pitiless savagery, has never been
equalled. Yet, apart from the
PEACE IN COMMON
of the five great Offerings that prefigured the work of Calvary, the Peace
Offering closed them all, as the fruit and consequence of all; and in one point
the Peace Offering differs from all the other offerings in it alone God, the
priest, and the offerer all feed together that is, all enjoy perfect peace, and
all share in the one peace: it is a feast of peace, not only ordained by
God, but shared in by God, and equally enjoyed by the Priest - Christ, and by
the offerer - every man who eats the Offering. Before the
worlds were, God planned peace; when the Lord Jesus was born, the Angels sang – “Peace on earth”, for it had
appeared – Christ “who is our peace” (Eph. 2: 14);
A first outstanding characteristic of the Peace Offering was its perfection. “If his oblation be a sacrifice of peace-offerings, he shall offer it WITHOUT BLEMISH before the Lord” (Lev. 3: 1).
A blameless type pictures a blameless Man; and nothing short of this could satisfy the deep hunger for righteousness in our fallen souls. If we are to be at peace, it must be because God’s law has been perfectly fulfilled; and the Creator of all law demands nothing less than perfection: a holy God can be satisfied with nothing less than a perfect satisfaction of holy law: all our peace rests therefore on the radiant sinlessness of the Sacrifice. For “in him was no sin” (1 John 3: 5); He “did no sin” (1 Pet. 2: 22): He “knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5: 21): He “was without sin” (Heb. 4: 15): He was “separated from sinners” (Heb. 7: 26), in a class by Himself. And the very presentation of the Offering foresaw Golgotha: for first it was lifted (Lev. 4: 10) - the ascent up Calvary; then it was waved vertically, and heaved horizontally, these two motions at right angles figuring a cross; and then it was burnt - death on the Cross. The Offering was to produce peace, a state of peace, a perfect reconciliation between God and man; and so the Peace Offering is the realization, the establishment, the rich enjoyment of perfect peace, because the eye of God rests, and our eyes rest, with infinite joy on the spotlessness of Jesus.
An exquisite revelation further illuminates the sacrifice. One section of it, carefully cut apart and burnt on the Altar, was devoted to God alone: all “the fat that covers the inwards”; “the kidneys”, composed of even richer substance than the fat; “and the caul above the liver”: “all the fat is the Lord’s.”* All the invisible, most secret, richest and most deep-seated elements, all within nearest the heart, belonged to God alone: “every deep affection, every emotion, all that love could feel, all that desire could yearn over, was presented by Christ to the Father” (Andrew Bonar, D.D.). This exactly corresponds with fact. The hidden and richest parts of Christ - the emotions never seen by human eye, the secret desires, the ambitions never uttered, the affections beyond all utterance - no eye but God knows these; His eye sees them perfect and they are His alone for all eternity.
* The term ‘fat’ is applied in Scripture to everything that was best and most excellent of its kind. Gen. 14: 18; Deut. 32: 14; Num. 18: 17; 2 Sam. 1: 22, etc.
now we come to what is critical in the Christian Faith, and what is critical
for salvation. A sinless Christ off the
Cross is of no value whatever for the salvation of humanity. “And Aaron’s sons shall burn it” - all the
gathered fat devoted to God alone – “on the altar upon the burnt offering which is upon the wood
that is on the fire”. All types and rites and offerings and
prophecies converge here: death is the inescapable doom of sin, and if the
Lord’s sinlessness - sinlessness even in the most secret parts - is to be of
any use to me, He must in my place suffer the full wrath of God for me. And
So now we find the foundation of peace. God does not leave a moment’s space between the Cross and peace. The Peace Offering shows us not only God satisfied by what has been offered; and not only the Priest - Christ Himself - satisfied, for “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa. 53: 11); but the offerer - the frail, sinful human, “who shall lay his hand upon the head of his oblation” – is as satisfied as both God and Christ. The offerers are all those who accept Christ for us without the camp, for us slain as the sin-bearer, for us consumed on the altar by the wrath of God, and for us accepted as a man perfectly righteous. The consequence is perfect peace. The offerer feeds on what has satisfied God, the judge of all, and what has satisfied Christ, who set out to achieve peace. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (Rom. 8: 33). Whenever the Offerings were presented together, the Peace Offering was always the last: so “being justified by faith” - the imputed righteousness in the Burnt Offering, and the atonement in the Sin Offering – “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5: 1) - the Peace Offering, in all its blessed assurance to the soul.
But there is one condition of the continuance of the peace extraordinarily true to life. “The soul that eateth of the flesh of the sacrifice of peace offerings, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from his people” (Lev. 7: 20): that is, he loses the joyous communion with God and His people that is the Peace Offering. Nor can he regain peace by brazening out his uncleanness. A startling example is given us by Solomon. The lascivious woman comes forth, saying – “Sacrifices of peace-offerings are with me; this day have I paid my vows” (Prov. 7: 14). Uncleanness forfeits peace. If we believers contract wilful uncleanness - in typical language, ‘leprosy’ or a ‘running issue’ - the sense of communion is gone, and with it our peace: the Blood remains effective in general, and the Burnt Offering and the Sin Offering abide, but the Peace Offering is nullified. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we [God and my soul] have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John. 1: 7). But while communion is broken, the blood remains, an abiding sacrifice, on an abiding altar, with an abiding fire; and the offerer, excluded for a time from the Tabernacle, could always be restored by the appointed washings: so “If we confess our sins, He is righteous and just to forgive us our sins”, and so to restore our peace.
all finally converges on the simple vital of fundamental peace:- personal contact. “He that offereth
the sacrifice of his peace-offerings unto the Lord, HIS OWN HANDS shall bring
the offerings” (Lev. 7: 30). The man had
to go for himself, present the sacrifice for himself, lay his own hand on the
head of the offering, accept it, and eat it, God has accepted it as the sole
ground of peace; so has Christ; and now every soul must do so also, or else
forfeit peace for ever: “there is no peace to the wicked, saith my God” (Isa. 57: 21). The moment we
eat it, we become a temple of the Holy Ghost; and at the dedication of
Solomon’s Temple vast Peace Sacrifices were offered, “two-and-twenty thousand oxen
and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep” (1
Kings 8: 63); and for the entire
universe - for all out of Hell where Calvary is never accepted – “of the increase of peace
there shall be no end” (Isa. 9: 7). “WE HAVE PEACE WITH GOD THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST”
NOTE: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
“Beware lest ye fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Pet. 3: 17). The only way to prevent falling is growth; and if you are not growing, you are certainly falling. No weight will stand at rest on an inclined plane. If it is not being hauled up it will be hurtling down. The student that is not advancing in his science will forget what he has learned. Water that stagnates gathers a scum. The talent that is wrapped in a napkin rusts; and the oxidizing diminishes its weight and also dims its brightness. I feel that all our churches are full of cases of arrested development. Let me put a plain question: Are we more like Jesus Christ than we were a year ago?
* * *
ON THE BRINK OF APOSTASY
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
The Christian Faith is embodied, wholly and solely, in a few vital facts; concrete facts, which either happened, or did not happen: if they happened, the whole Christian Faith is true; if they did not happen, the Christian Faith is a pious fraud.* These events, expressed in words, become the Christian Creed. The facts are few but stupendous:- the Virgin Birth; the consequent Incarnation, the Son of God embodied in fesh; the Atonement, a sacrifice on the Cross for the sin of humanity; and the Resurrection, the spirit, soul, and body of the Lord leaving an abandoned tomb. The facts save, not faith, which merely appropriates the facts. “If Christ hath not been raised, YOUR FAITH IS VAIN”; for faith in a falsehood is worthless; “ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15: 17). The facts alone save; though the facts become effective only through our faith. Granted the facts, and the whole Bible follows as surely as sunshine follows sunrise.
* The Apostle John strongly stresses this point. “That which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, declare we unto you” (1 John 1: 1).
Therefore apostasy - the abandonment of the Christian Faith - is a denial of these few basic facts; and since the facts save, and without the facts there is no salvation, to clothe their denial in all the Christian phraseology in the world is merely wrapping a corpse. And it is obvious what form the denial must take. Since the facts occurred nineteen centuries ago, it is only through the records of these facts, purposely given to us by God, that we know and believe: all Christianity, therefore, disappears with the Gospel records. The scholar out of whom sprang the destructive criticism of the nineteenth century embodied in his own career its logical history. Wellhausen exchanged a professorship of theology for a professorship of history because he had abandoned the Christian Faith.
what we are confronting to-day, within the Churches, is a mass-denial of these
facts by an unknown proportion, but a proportion ceaselessly expanding, of
ministers and people. Professor Bethune Baker, when Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at
we take but a handful out of the masses of denial of the Christian facts which fills
so-called Christian literature to-day. “The Virgin Birth,” says Bishop Gore (New Commentary, P.
315), “was certainly not part of the original Apostolic
message.”* Dr. H. D. A. Major, the Principal of Ridley Hall,
* Matthew was an Apostle, was he not? (Luke 6: 15); and he carefully records (Matt. 1: 18) the virgin birth. It is random writing of this kind that makes so much of the ‘higher criticism’ worth less.
** The writer will never forget with what amazed bewilderment, as an undergraduate in the hall of the Cambridge Union, he read a letter in the Times from Dr. Driver, then the doyen [i.e., the ‘most respected person in a particular field or profession’] of the Critics, frankly acknowledging that there is no external evidence whatever on which the Higher Criticism rests, but that it is solely a dissection of the documents as they stand. In other words, it is purely an evolution of the heart of unbelief.
So what we are now confronting is an enormous shell largely emptied - though not altogether so - of its kernel; and a shell which, under pressure, can only burst. What Dr. Pusey said in his day is incomparably truer at this moment:- “There are afloat hundreds of ‘Christianities.’ You have Christianity without Judaism, Christianity without facts, Christianity without doctrines, Christianity without anything supernatural, Christianity which shall only be an ‘idea,’ Christianity with fallible apostles, fallible prophets (alas, that one must give utterance to the blasphemy!), a fallible Christ.” No man will be a martyr for a fancy. But this very denial of the Bible is its fresh and final proof. For it says:- “In the last days perilous times shall come,” for men shall have “a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof” (2 Tim. 3: 5) - a feeble and empty crust; and when the Day of Terror bursts, the gigantic shell, already crumbling, crashes under the shock of judgment.*
So, already, internal death-rot is paralyzing the Church and alienating the world. Dr. J. D. Jones sums up the situation thus:- “The great mass of the people seem to be drifting away from religion; the habit of worship seems to be falling into disuse; the Sabbath is rapidly ceasing to be a day of rest, and seventy-five per cent. of the manhood of the nation is clean outside the church.” To take but a single example:- in the last twenty-five years Free Church Sunday scholars have decreased from 1,744,725 to I,323, 406, which means a total disappearance of all Nonconformist Sunday schools in sixty years; and the decline in church membership is such that in seventy years there will not be a Nonconformist church in England. And despair ultimately overwhelms those who, having known Christ, abandon Him. Renan, a Catholic priest who became an apostate, opened his unbelief in radiant optimism. “We proclaim the right of reason,” he wrote, “to reform society by rational science, and the theoretic knowledge of that which is. It is no exaggeration to say that science contains the future of humanity, and that it alone can say the last word on human destiny and teach mankind how to reach his goal.” But thirty years after he wrote as a disillusioned man. “It seems possible that a collapse of supernatural belief will be followed by the collapse of moral conviction, and that the moment when humanity sees the reality of things will mark a real moral decline. We are living,” he concluded sadly, “on the perfume of an empty vase.” The first apostate of the New Testament is also its first suicide.
Therefore the harbour into which we are all driven by the very fury of the modern storm is as inevitable as it is golden. It is marvellously illustrated in Strindberg, a close colleague and fellow-thinker of Nietzsche, perhaps the most devilish mind of the nineteenth century, who died in an asylum, either a lunatic or devil-possessed. A change passed over Strindberg in his later years, during which he left behind the bitterness and restlessness of his early days. “I have been like a sailor,” he wrote, “who set out to discover a new spiritual home; and every time I thought I had come to an unknown island, I found, on looking closer, that it was our old Bible and the New Testament. There is nothing higher than the old wisdom.” He died with the New Testament clasped between his folded hands. In the words of Gladstone:- “If I am asked what is the remedy for the deeper sorrows of the human heart - what a man should chiefly look to in progress through life as the power that is to sustain him under trials, and enable him manfully to confront his afflictions - I must point to something which in a well-known hymn is called ‘The old, old story,’ told in an old, old Book, and taught with an old, old teaching, which is the greatest and best gift ever given to man.” For we can say with Isaac Watts, and the Church of all ages:-
Proclaim salvation from the Lord
For wretched, dying men;
His hand has writ the sacred word
With an immortal pen.
Engraved as in eternal brass
The mighty promise shines;
Nor can the powers of darkness rase
Those everlasting lines.
His every word of grace is strong
As that which builds the skies
The Voice that rolls the stars along
Speaks all the promises.
NOTE: THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE
One of our chiefs, full of the Christ-kindled desire to seek and to save, sent a message to an inland chief, that he and four attendants would come on Sabbath and tell them the Gospel of Jehovah God. The reply came back sternly forbidding their visit, and threatening with death any Christian that approached their village. Our chief sent in response a loving message, telling them that Jehovah had taught the Christians to return good for evil, and that they would come unarmed to tell them the story of how the Son of God came into the world and died in order to bless and save His enemies. The heathen chief sent back a stern and prompt reply once more:- “If you come, you will be killed.” On Sabbath morn the Christian chief and his four companions were met outside the village by the heathen chief, who implored and threatened them once more. But the former said:- “We come to you without weapons of war! We come only to tell you about Jesus. We believe that He will protect us to-day.”
As they pressed steadily forward toward the village, spears began to be thrown at them. Some they evaded, being all except one dexterous warriors; and others they literally received with their bare hands, and turned them aside in an incredible manner. The heathen, apparently thunderstruck at these men thus approaching them without weapons of war, and not even flinging back their own spears which they had caught, after having thrown what the old chief called, “a shower of spears” desisted from mere surprise. Our Christian chief called out, as he and his companions drew up in the midst of them on the village public ground:- “Jehovah thus protects us. He has given us all your spears! Once we would have thrown them back at you and killed you. He has changed our dark hearts. He asks you to hear about the love of God, our Great Father, the only living God.”
heathen were perfectly overawed. They
manifestly looked on these Christians as protected by some Invisible One. We lived to see that chief and all his tribe
sitting in the
- JOHN G. PATON
* * *
OUR ETERNAL HOME
By D. M. PANTON, B.A.
telescope is being constructed in
we turn our telescope on the City. One
vast negative in it blots out all the past.
shall be NO CURSE any more” (Rev. 22: 3). The Bible
closes where it begins; and this sentence embodies the whole volume of
revelation between the two covers. A
curse fell upon an individual, as Achan; upon a city,
The one great fundamental problem of all worlds-sin - having thus been solved, the next great practical problem is met - government; and one vast positive next dominates the world to come. “And THE THRONE of God and of the Lamb shall be therein.” It is a single Throne, the seat and centre of all power throughout the whole universe; ruling out for ever all anarchy, and wicked dictatorships, and lawless democracy, and savage militarism. No statement could express the Godhead of Christ more absolutely. Not two thrones, but one throne, and the Lamb is its equal Occupant; not two Gods, but one God – “His servants shall serve him”: on the other hand, two luminaries – “the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb”; but one light – “the Lord God shall give them light”: two Occupants of the Throne, but one Deity – “they shall see his face” - one Face. On the other hand, how exquisite:- it is the Lamb, not the Shepherd, a lamb, our lowly fellow-man, living our life, and sharing our manhood. The mighty Throne of the Universe is set for ever in this Metropolis of God.
Now we reach the living citizens that crowd the City; and we are immediately startled to find not an angel named. The Angels have vanished. “And his servants” - the officers of the palace, the officials nearest the Throne, through whom the Throne acts – “ shall do him [priestly] service; and they shall see his face”: He is for ever mirrored before their eyes, and they have access to Him at all times; “and his name shall be on their foreheads”. The picture, so simply worded, is extraordinarily suggestive. Seven times death, for the believer, is described in Scripture as ‘entering into rest’: on the contrary, in resurrection life, with a flawless body, work, not rest, will be our joy; and this Scripture reveals mighty activities and the responsibility of princes. Then the vision of God will be the alchemy of man. “We shall be LIKE HIM, for we shall see him” (1 John 3: 2): “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3: 18). They shall see Him literally and physically, with their risen bodies, actually looking into the face of God; and mentally and spiritually their vision will be so enlarged that they will look into the soul and life of Christ and of God, so as to understand His work, His love, Himself as never before. And the glory is graded by the fidelity of the earthly service, for superiority in glory remains over from the Millennial epoch. “One star differeth from another star in glory,” though all shine: “so also is the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15: 41). And then the royal insignia will be ours. The Order of the Bath or the Order of the Garter outwardly stamps those whom the King delights to honour: so, but incomparably more distinguishing, “his name shall be on their foreheads”; their sublime consecration and office are stamped for ever upon their brows.
regenerate physique in a regenerate world is next unfolded. “And there shall be night no more:” that is, within the City, for day and night (we are told) remain on the new earth (Rev. 21: 25): “and they need no light of lamp, nor light of sun; for the Lord
God shall give them light.” By its immense height and blazing glory, the
pilgrim nations, assembling at stated periods, travel by the light of it and
axe received within its gates; but when night falls on the earth, the City’s
gates are closed, and the holy fellowship and wondrous companionship begin. The radiance of our Lord in the
Transfiguration is permanent in the City, as Paul saw on the way to
The concluding word, one of the Bible’s most wonderful sentences, baffles comment. “And they shall REIGN for ever and ever.” The fellow-kings in our Lord’s millennial reign on the old earth were sharply limited in number, according to their equipment for royalty through training in discipleship: these, with all defect and failure dealt with and finished, are the redeemed of all ages - Patriarchal, Legal, Christian, Millennial - reigning on the sole ground that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Moreover the royalty, which is eternal, expands, in a degree known only to God; for while, as risen, their own number is for ever limited - for if there is no more death, there can be no more resurrection - the nations over whom they rule, still in the flesh, indefinitely expand “unto all generations of the age of the ages” (Eph. 3: 21), as Paul puts it. So here is our eternal home. No curse - perfect sinlessness; the Throne - perfect government; service - perfect power; vision - perfect joy; stamped foreheads - perfect security; light - perfect knowledge; royalty - perfect rule.
see the final enormous consequence of a single phrase. THE
LAMB - the offered Sacrifice - is on the Throne of Deity. Therefore how certainly we can be totally
saved! For if the Lamb is God, He could
bear the sins of the entire race: if the Lamb is God, the sacrifice on Calvary
was an infinite sacrifice, and therefore totally efficacious: if the Lamb is
God, death could not hold Him - He is risen: if the Lamb is God, God’s love to
a sinning world stands proven for ever.* “Shall we throw away our chance of such an
eternal home? Shall we slight the offers
and opportunities of blessedness like this? Let fortunes pass; let friendships be
forfeited; let earthly comforts go un-enjoyed; cast honours, titles, crowns, to
the wolves and bats: but let not the privilege go by of becoming an immortal
king with the Lamb in the
* How can sinful man ever stand within the holiest? How can he ever stand on the sea of glass? How can he enter the pearly gates? and tread the golden streets? The reply to enquiries unfolds the amazing depths of redeeming love and the eternal efficacy of the Blood of the Lamb. Deep as is man’s ruin, the love of God is deeper still. Black as is his guilt, the Blood of Jesus can wash it all away. Wide as is the chasm separating man from God, the cross has bridged it. – C. H. MACKINTOSH.
NOTE: GOD’S TIDE
Say not the struggle nought availeth.
The labour and the wounds are vain.
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke conceal’d,
Your comrades chase e’en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward, look, the land is bright!
Let no man think error in doctrine a slight practical evil. No road to perdition has ever been more thronged than that of false doctrine. Error is a shield over the conscience, and a bandage over the eyes.
‑C. HODGE, D.D.
* * *
THE COMING APOSTASY
By ROBERT GOVETT
Moses, before his people had entered into the land of promise, was inspired to foretell their falling away from Jehovah, the God of their fathers. And thus, the Lord Jesus, at the sending forth of his Gospel into the world, foresaw and foretold that declension from it, and open rejection of it, which have yet to be fulfilled. Of these intimations, none is perhaps more plain and full than that offered to our notice in the first Epistle of Timothy (3: 14).
“These things I write unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And confessedly* great is the mystery of Godliness. God was manifest in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the Gentiles, was believed on in the world, was received up in glory.”
* See Greek.
“But the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall apostatize from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and to doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry [and commanding] to abstain from articles of food, which God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving, by those who believe and recognize the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be cast away, if it be received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine, whereto thou hast attained.”
“But refuse the profane and old-womanish fables; but exercise thyself unto godliness. For bodily exercise is profitable in some small degree; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”: 1 Tim. 3: 14 - 4: 8.
This passage has been commonly supposed to be fulfilled by Romanism, and still continues to be applied to it. Without in the least desiring to palliate the destructive doctrines of that corrupt church, I yet feel persuaded, that another form of evil is here presented, and would briefly offer some of the stronger proofs in this place; reserving others to the more minute examination of the prophecy further on.
1. A conclusive proof that Romanism is not the evil thus depicted by the Holy Ghost, arises from the fact, that the Church of Rome holds every article of the faith which is mentioned by the Apostle. It believes that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, that he died, rose, and ascended, with every other point of the faith that Paul has specified as that mystery of godliness, from which the apostates of the latter day should fall away.
2. The abstinence from marriage and articles of food here supposed, is essentially connected with the apostasy foretold; so that if any leave the faith, they must abstain from both; and those only who abstain from both, leave the faith. It is the listening to and receiving these principles of abstinence, that produce the apostasy. Wherefore, if any marry or use articles of food indifferently, they have not departed from the faith. But this is true of the great body of Romanists; therefore they have not apostatized from the Christian faith. And if now it be said, that at least it has its fulfilment in the monks, and nuns, and priests of the Romish church, for these abstain from both marriage and meats, I answer ‑ First, these do not forbid marriage, but promote it in the case of others. And secondly, as noted above, they maintain all the articles of the faith as exhibited by Paul. Therefore theirs is not either the abstinence, or the apostasy contemplated by the Holy Ghost.* Much less do they forbid either marriage or “meats as things evil in themselves, which is the ground of the objection and abstinence supposed in the text.
* I would briefly throw into this note, some objections to Mede’s interpretation of the passage. He makes “spirits” equivalent to doctrines, and supports the views by quoting 1 John 4: 1. But the passage is quite against him; for the trial there supposed is a personal one; a trial which cannot be made of doctrines. How could transubstantiation be asked to confess if Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? (2) He makes (with others in the present day), “doctrines of devils,” to be “doctrines concerning demons,” and then interprets the phrase of the Romish adoration of saints. Against which I object - First, that in the other instances in which [the Greek word ...] is found in construction, it does not take the signification he supposes. Thus “doctrines of Men,”(Col. 2: 22) signifies “doctrines taught by men.” And in the 2nd Epistle to Timothy, we have “Thou hast fully known the doctrine of me” (2. Tim. 3: 10), which signifies, “doctrine taught by me,” not “doctrine concerning me”.
Secondly, the word “demon” never in the New Testament has a good sense; but the equivalent expression is always “evil spirit.” And by Augustine, Clemens Alexandrinus, Minucius Felix, Origen, Tertullian, Julian, Josephus, Eusebius, with others of the fathers, they are regarded as evil beings.
Thirdly, the personal apostasy from the faith here mentioned, supposes previous personal profession of it, and afterwards entire abandonment of it for some other faith or infidelity. But Romanists never have fallen away to any other faith; and as to their opinions concerning fasting and celibacy, since the Christian faith does not consist in these things, and is consistent with them, the holding them is not apostasy.
Fourthly, the Greek word ... cannot be rightly translated “By the hypocrisy of liars.” (1) The sense of ... for ... is uncommon, and not to be resorted to without necessity. (2) The absence of the article shows, that the phrase ... is to be taken adverbially. If it meant, “through the hypocrisy of liars” - it would have been ... (3) The Greek word ... being an adjective, it cannot be fairly connected with a substantive not implied in the context, but must take as its substantive ... that has just preceded. If men were intended, the Greek word ... must have been expressed. (4) As to the sense, this introduces unnecessarily a new class of deceivers: and men are made the means of the apostates’ giving heed to evil spirits, while it is not said that the liars themselves depart from the faith. Can it be supposed, that all these obliquities of construction, and syntax, and meaning of words, must meet to give us the true sense of the passage before us?
I would now consider the prophecy before us in its real bearing, and show the heresy against which it is levelled. With all the early Christian writers, I interpret it of the Gnostics. These were persons who sought to incorporate Christianity with their false philosophy. Hence Paul’s caution, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit:” Col. 2: 8. They attempted to explain the origin of evil by their own understanding, unenlightened by divine grace, and God’s Holy Word. It is not wonderful then that they erred.
(1) They maintained that matter was eternal, and the cause of evil, and that the Supreme God was not the Creator.
From the Supreme God, who dwelt far from matter, there flowed forth, at
different times, various beings inferior to himself, whom they denominated
Aeons. This view of theirs explains
Paul’s twice repeated caution to Timothy and Titus, to give no “heed to fables and endless genealogies:” 1 Tim. 1: 4; Titus 3: 9. The epithet “endless” shows that not the Jewish, but the Gnostic genealogies were in
question, for the Jewish genealogies were bounded, on the one hand by the known
pedigree of Abraham, and on the other by their own times. The Gnostic
genealogies of their Aeons had no limit but their fancy; and hence some sects
supposed thirty Aeons, some three hundred and sixty-five, and others might, if
they would, have made thirty thousand.* To these Aeons, they gave
the names of the Word, Light, Life, Truth, the Only-Begotten. All these names,
* “I should therefore conclude (because the Jewish genealogies were not subversive of the faith of Christian converts, nor were they foolish) that what is here said of ‘endless genealogies’ may very probably relate to their successive generations of Aeons.” Burton’s Bampton Lectures, p. 115.]
3. The Creator (or Demiurge, as they called him) was then an inferior and evil being. He was also the God of the Jews the giver of the Law and of the Old Testament.*
* As many may not have seen the origin of evil truly stated, and as it is deeply entwined with the present subject, I give a brief statement of it in this note.
There is One Being who is in every respect perfect and infinite, unchangeable, eternal. He is the parent and author of all good: without his bestowal and sustaining there is no good. Good then is something of a positive kind: it has a real existence, out-flowing from God and maintained by him. Of good, God is the efficient cause. Evil, on the other hand, is negative. It is a want of excellence and cannot flow from the Being of perfection. As it does not come from God, it can only spring from the creature, for there is no other source. Wherever God works there is good; wherever he ceases to work, and leaves the creature to itself, there is evil. Hearing is good; sight is good; they are positive excellences, and therefore from God. But deafness and blindness are evils: they are the want of the positive excellences above-named. In a statue, if we saw half of the face beautifully finished, and the other rough and shapeless as it was hewn, we should say - and say rightly – ‘The beauty and positive excellence of the finished side are owing to the skill of the artist. The roughness and shapelessness of the other side are due to the fact that the artist has not exerted his skill on that side.’ Evil then has a deficient cause, which lies in the creature.
This defect of necessity belongs to the creature. Once there was a time when nought existed but God. Then there was nought but perfection and positive good. God might have continued this for ever, had it pleased him. But he determined to create beings for his glory. Now, if creatures be made, they must be dependent on their Creator: and if dependent, they must be liable to fall, if he uphold them not. If a creature be formed, it must of necessity be limited and changeable. God alone is and alone can be infinitely perfect and unchangeable. An infinitely perfect and unchangeable creature is a contradiction of ideas. It must contain therefore within itself a reason of its liability to change from good to evil, which is called passive power. This liability to fall does not spring from God, and cannot be removed from a creature by any decree or power of God. It is the glory of God, that steadfastness in goodness belongs to Him alone. The difference arises from difference of nature, and manifests the unspeakable gulf that lies between Creator and creature. All good in the creature springs from God’s positive will, and it may be maintained in goodness for ever, if it please God: but the tendency to fall away must ever remain.
Any moral being, created finitely perfect, if God try him in equity, that is, give him only what is required to make him accountable, and suspend the communication of his out-flowing grace - will assuredly fall. The creature’s tendency to fall, if left free to his own will, will certainly display itself by sinning. The germ of corruption is in every creature: if not kept back by sovereign grace, it will show itself by open sin. But in every natural act of sin there is something which comes from God, and is good. Thus in Adam’s eating of the forbidden fruit, his beholding the tree, his reaching forth his hand and taking and tasting, and swallowing it, were all, as physical acts, good: the evil lay in the wrong manner and motive of the acts: and this was sin, which was entirely his own.
Thus every moral being is equitably free to evil: sovereignly necessitated to good. To make God the cause of evil is the fearful overstatement of those who discern not whence comes evil. To make man the cause of good, arises from ignorance of the natures of the Creator and creatures. And Manicheeism or Gnosticism errs on this very point, in not discerning the true origin of evil. Its imagination of two Gods, the one the author of good, the other the author of evil, is seen to be foolish, as soon as we discern that evil has no necessary existence, and therefore is not self existent or eternal, as God (the author of good) is. Thus also we are able to discern how everything can be foreknown and foretold by God. Everything is either good or evil. If good it can be certainly foreknown, for it depends upon God’s own acts of power: if evil, it springs certainly from the creature, and has a cause which can certainly be foreknown, even his passive power or liability of change to evil. Thus the astronomer can calculate with absolute certainty long beforehand both the light and the darkness of an eclipse; he can tell that wherever there is a hindrance to the light, there will be darkness, and can measure its extent and he knows that the rest will be light.
As matter sprang out of nothing at the pleasure of another, so if left to itself it would again cease to be. God is, and tends to be. The creature is, but tends not to be. So is it with the holiness of the creature. How humbly should we wait for all good from the Giver of every good and perfect gift!
4. Christ was the Son of the Supreme and Benevolent God, who came to deliver men from the tyranny of the Creator, the God of the Jews.
5. Hence it followed, that Christ, according to their theory, was neither born nor died. For how could he, who came to deliver men from the dominion of matter, voluntarily take upon himself that hateful thing, the cause of sin? And as he had not a real body, he was not properly a man, and did not die much less rise again. The resurrection, the atonement, and the general judgment were therefore denied.
6. From the same principles it likewise flowed naturally, that they accounted marriage, and wine, and animal food, evil. Denying atonement, they rejected animal sacrifice as unworthy of a benevolent God, and refused therefore to take away life themselves. And against marriage ‘they spoke impiously under the pretext of continence, and blasphemed the creation and the Demiurge, the One Almighty God, and taught that marriage was not to be received, and that men should not introduce into the world others to be wretched as themselves nor supply death with food.’* The practice that resulted from such awful principles was of different kinds.
* Clem. Alex. Strom. Lib. III 6. P. 531. Ed. Potter.
Some lived lives of austerity and self-infliction, attempting to subdue the body and wear it out, that the soul might be free from the chains and pollutions of matter. Others ran to frightful lengths in licentiousness; affirming that knowledge was everything, and that souls purified, as theirs were, by the true knowledge of God, could not be defiled by any action, however seemingly evil it might appear to those who were still in ignorance.
Some have thought that the accounts given by the fathers of their lives and practices are not to be trusted; but the New Testament describes men of just such characters as the ecclesiastical writers of the day testify the Gnostics to have been. Paul declares some to be magical deceivers (2 Tim. 3: 13)* as Simon of Samaria was, and as many of the Ephesians had been: while we also find travelling exorcists there attempting to dispossess a demoniac by the name of Jesus: Acts 19. Titus is warned against men whose very “mind and conscience was defiled, who professed that they knew God [whence they took the title of Gnostics] but in works they denied him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate:” Titus 1: 15, 16. They were patrons of fornication and of every evil lust (2 Peter 2). And it seems probable, from the apostle’s words, “by reason of whom the way of truth shall be blasphemed,” that the Gnostics really were guilty of some prodigious acts of wickedness, which came to be imputed to the true believers (1 Peter 2: 12-15). The Lord Jesus rebukes Thyatira for doctrines upholding uncleanness and idolatry: Rev. 2. Covetousness and hypocrisy are also imputed to them.
“The seducers were evidently men who dealt in magic.”
7. From the same principles it followed that they admired and praised the evil-doers of the Old Testament, as those who had manfully resisted the evil Creator or God of the Jews; and Cain and Korah, and Balaam and Judas, were the patterns they sought to follow.
8. It was the natural consequence of the same doctrines, that when Apostles
came, publishing, either by word or by their writing, the truth, that they
denied the correctness of their teaching.
Paul and others were, to their eyes,
Jewish teachers, who, through prejudices of early life, had misunderstood
their Master; they were the scientific and philosophical, who were able to
detect the truth, and discard error in the mixed form in which it was presented
by the half-taught. It was against this
system, rather than Romanism, that both
With this view we shall find not only the Epistles to Timothy to be in accordance, but the Gospel and Epistles of St. John, the Epistles to Titus, the Hebrews, and Colossians.
But let us examine more closely the prophecy which has been above quoted.
In it the visible church is set forth as appointed to be “the pillar and ground of the truth”. It was the pillar of the truth, as supporting it, and bearing inscribed upon it, as it were, the doctrines authorized of God. It was the ground of the truth, as staying and steadying it against the adverse blasts of error. This testimony to the truth it gave in two ways; first, by the sacred rites it publicly celebrated; and secondly, by its very constitution.
In baptism it testified the death and resurrection of the Great Founder of the church, and the hope of the believer, as consisting in resurrection. And in the Lord’s Supper it presented the emblems of blood shed, and of his body bruised for sin, thus witnessing the reality of his incarnation and death. But, moreover, it upheld, in the most solemn way, that wine is a good creature of God, fit to be partaken of by the faithful, in direct opposition to the Gnostic doctrines of old, revived, alas! in our own day.
By the very constitution of the church, moreover, the lawfulness of marriage was upheld; for its elders and deacons, and widows (or deaconesses) must all either be married or have once entered that state. Thus against deadly error, the Lord in his mercy set a double fence, to keep his flock from the Destroyer.
2. God “was justified in the spirit”.
“In the spirit”, stands exactly opposed to “in the flesh” and we may not unnecessarily alter the form of expression. I regard then the phrase as referring to the human spirit of the Lord Jesus; the flesh and the spirit being opposed to each other more than once: thus - “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit:” Col. 2: 5 ; 1 Cor. 7: 34.
The doctrine affirmed then will be, that Jesus being laden with the imputed sin of man, was under it accounted guilty, and gave up the ghost. That in that state, as a disembodied spirit, he was justified, or declared to have paid the penalty, and to have made atonement for sin. And thus taken, the sentiment runs parallel with that of Peter.
“For Christ also once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but alive in the spirit, in which he went and preached even to the spirits in prison:”1 Pet. 3: 18, 19.
Thus then Paul would give another contradiction to the Gnostic doctrine, that Christ did not die. Some of the Gnostics pretended that Jesus was a mere man, on whom the Christ (a mighty aeon) descended at the time of his baptism; at which time (and not before), he became, by the union of the two, Jesus Christ. But all held that the Christ left Jesus before the crucifixion, and some forged the story, that Simon the Cyrenian was changed into the likeness of Christ, and suffered in his stead. In opposition then to this falsehood, which denied the atonement for sin, Paul affirms most strongly Jesus’ death for human trespasses, and that acquittal passed upon him while a separate spirit [soul] in Hades.
3. “Seen of angels.”
is commonly interpreted of the angels beholding our Lord during his career on
earth: of their singing praises at his birth, their ministering to him after his
victory over Satan, and their attendance upon him in
If I rightly apprehended the matter, the three first of these mysteries are directed against the Gnostics; and three last against the Jewish teachers of the law. But whatever be the view taken by the reader, certain it is that not one of the foregoing mysteries is denied by the Church of Rome, but all are fully admitted by it. The Holy Ghost testifies, not in symbolic prophecy, but in express words, and those not to Paul’s mind alone, but in the assembly of the saints, that from these fundamental articles of the Christian faith some shall apostatize. They will once have been Christians, professing these foundation truths, but will afterwards abandon and deny them, professing another and contrary belief.
I dare to say that it is possible, for those who are willing to reckon on the power of the Lord for keeping and victory, to lead a life in which His promises are taken as they stand, and are found to be true. It is possible to cast all our care upon Him daily, and to enjoy deep peace in doing it. It is possible to have the thoughts and imaginations of our hearts purified, in the deepest meaning of the word, through faith. It is possible to see the will of God in everything, and to receive it, not with sighing, but with singing. It is possible, by taking complete refuge in divine power, to become strong through and through; and, where previously our greatest weakness lay, to find that the things which formerly upset all our resolves (to be patient or pure or humble) furnish today an opportunity – through Him who loved us, and works in us an agreement with His will and a blessed sense of His presence and His power – to make sin powerless. These things are Divine possibilities; and, because they are His work, the true experience of them will always cause us to bow lower at His feet and to learn to thirst and long for more. – BISHOP HANDLEY MOULE.
2. THE ADVENT
Whoever neglects the Second Coming has only a mutilated Gospel, for the Bible teaches us not only the death and sufferings of Christ, but also His return to reign in honour and glory. His Second Coming is mentioned and referred to over three hundred times, yet I was in the church fifteen or sixteen years before I ever heard a sermon on it. – D. L. MOODY.
Through the fiery furnace
Walk, O Love, beside me;
In the provocation
From the tempter hide me.
When they come about me,
Dreams of earthly passion,
Drive, O drive them from me
Of Thy sweet compassion.
Not for might and glory
Do I ask above,
Seeking of Thee only
Love, and love, and love.
Show me not the glory
Round about Thy throne;
Show me not the flashes
Of Thy jewell’d crown.
Hide me from the pity
Of the angels’ band,
Who ever sing Thy praises,
And before Thee stand.
Hide me from St. Michael,
With his flaming sword;
Thou canst understand me
O my human Lord!
“… I know that you have a little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” … “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no-one will take your crown:” (Rev. 3: 8, 10, 11, N.I.V.).