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VOL. XVII. AUGUST 1, 1896. No. 15.
Special Items……………………………… 174
The Inspiration and Authority of Holy Scripture………………………… 175
Poem: O Heart, Be Strong!…………………… 177
Restitution, Faith Cures (Continued)………… 177
“Mind Healing” and “Christian Science”……………………………… 177
Keep the Mind Pure……………………… 180
Bible Study: David’s Victories……………… 181
Bible Study: David’s Confession and Forgiveness……………………… 182
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THE INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY OF HOLY SCRIPTURE*
*A Paper read at the “National Protestant Congress,” in London, by Rev. E. R. BALLINGER.
“THE Inspiration of Holy Scripture, and therefore its Divine authorship and authority, lies at the root and foundation of true Christianity—not only in its relation to infidelity, but also in its relation to the Romish controversy.
“It was the one great question which underlay all others at the Reformation. For, what was the Reformation in its essence? Was it not just the abandonment of human authority for Divine authority? Was it not all contained in this—the giving up of the authority of the church for the authority of the Word of God?
“Hence, the Reformers, on the one hand, diligently translated, established and disseminated the Scripture; while Rome, on the other hand, has always been the enemy of the Scripture, hiding it from the people for centuries, using the tortures of the Inquisition to crush it out, afterwards by authorizing a Bible of her own (the Latin Vulgate), and finally making and sending forth her own translations of it, in the form of what are known as Roman Catholic, or Vulgate, versions. In the preface to her English version of the Vulgate, known as the Douay Bible, she distinctly declares what her object was in making these various translations. It was not that Rome had changed, not because she had repented of her sin in hiding the Bible; or of her crime in crushing it, by torturing its readers; but because it has ever been her policy to adapt herself to circumstances. The policy which to-day leads her to publish cheap editions of it in some countries, is the same policy by which she burns them in others.
“These are her own words from the preface to the English translation of the Latin Vulgate:—
“‘We do not publish [this translation] upon the erroneous opinion of necessity that the Holy Scriptures should always be in our mother tongue, or that they ought, or were ordained by God, to be read indifferently of all. … Not for these or any such like causes do we translate this book, but upon special consideration of the present time, state, and condition of our country; unto which divers things are either necessarie or profitable, or medicinable now, that otherwise the peace of the church were neither much requisite, nor perchance wholly intolerable. Now since Luther’s revolt also, divers learned Catholics, for the more speedy abolishing of a number of false and impious translations put forth by sundry sects, and for the better preservation and reclaime of many good souls endangered thereby, have published the Bible in the several languages of almost all the principal provinces of the Latin Church, no other bookes in the world being so pernicious as heretical translations of the Scripture, poisoning people under colour of Divine authoritie; and not many other remedies being more soveraine against the same (if it be used in order, discretion, and humilitie) than the true, faithful, and sincere interpretation opposed thereunto.’
“This vast divergence as to ‘poison’ and ‘antidote’ gave rise, in due course, to two great questions—viz., The CANON of Scripture, and the INSPIRATION of Scripture.
“If Rome’s Text (the Papal Latin Vulgate) be the true one, then the Protestant Canon is wrong; and if her Versions of it be correct, then Inspiration is done away with.
“Inspiration is therefore essentially a Protestant question—one which must be met and fought on the highest grounds.
“The teachings of Luther, Erasmus, and other Reformers, on Inspiration were met by the Jesuits at the very outset. In 1586, Leonard Less and John Hamel, of the University of Louvain, put forth three propositions:—(1) That it is not necessary that each word should be inspired. (2) It is not necessary that each truth or doctrine should be inspired by the Holy Spirit in the writers. (3) Any book (e.g., 2 Maccabees) written by human industry without the assistance of the Holy Spirit (if the Holy Spirit afterwards testifies
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that there is nothing false in it), it becomes Holy Scripture.
“Here we see the Satanic hand working by those Jesuits, and we see it working down to this present day, in all the varied attacks on inspiration.
“These three propositions were submitted by the Archbishop of Cambray and Mechlin to the Universities of Douai and Louvain. Being condemned by these, the Jesuits appealed to the Sorbonne and also to the Universities of Treves and Mayence. They also forwarded a copy to the General of their Order, at Rome.
“The dispute was terminated by an ‘Apostolic Brief,’ dated April 15th, 1588, in which Pope Sixtus V. enjoined silence on all parties until the affair should be decided by the Holy See!
“That is just where the matter remains till to-day!
“Rome has never broken the silence which she enjoined, and this great question, so far as she is concerned, rests exactly where she left it in 1588.
“But the Reformers did not keep silence. The celebrated Dr. William Whitaker, the Regius Professor of Divinity, and Master of St. John’s College, Cambridge, publicly lectured on this important subject, and in that same year (1588) published his famous work on The Disputation of Holy Scripture. He introduces the subject in the following weighty words:—
“‘If ever any heretics have impiously outraged the Holy Scripture of God, we may justly rank the papists of our time with this class of men who pervert things the most sacred. For, not to mention how insultingly most of them speak, and how meanly they think of the Scriptures, … there are especially six opinions concerning Scripture which they now hold and obstinately defend that are eminently absurd, heretical, and sacrilegious.’
THE SIX POINTS CONCERNING ROME AND THE BIBLE
“1. The first concerns the CANON—i.e., the number of the canonical and truly inspired books of Scripture which is affected by Rome’s addition of the Apocryphal and other spurious books.
“2. The second concerns the ORIGINAL TEXT, by which the Hebrew and Greek are put aside in favor of the Latin Vulgate, which was authorized by the Council of Trent in 1542. … Thus Rome exchanged gold for brass, preferred the work of man to the work of God, and chose a polluted cistern to the pure water of life.* …
*We cannot agree to this criticism as a whole. Our English common version Bible is translated from the Latin Vulgate and holds its own very well when compared with the oldest Greek and Hebrew MSS., recently found. It deserves our respect; if for no other reason, because God has been pleased to use it, in sending his gospel message over the world. But the originals are what we desire, or translations as near to them and their purity as we can obtain.
“3. The third concerns the AUTHORITY of the Scripture, by making it to depend on the authority of the Church, saying that the Scripture is no Scripture to us if the church did not give it its authority. What the word ‘Church’ exactly means in this connection has never yet been defined. The Church of England, on the contrary, has declared (Art. xx.) that ‘the Church is the witness and keeper of Holy Writ’—not its gaoler or its authority.
“4. The fourth concerns INTERPRETATION of the Scriptures. Rome complains of the incredible obscurity of the Scriptures, not for the purpose of rousing men to diligence in studying them, but to bring the Scriptures into hatred and contempt. She refers to 2 Pet. 1:20, and says that as the Scripture did not come from man but from God, therefore it is too obscure and too dangerous to be read by private individuals. True, the Scripture did come from God, but the previous verse (19) says it is a light in a dark place to which we do well to take heed! How many so-called Protestants fall into Rome’s snare and read these words as though they were written ‘prophecy is a dark place which we do well to avoid!’ But notice that PETER is the apostle whom God has chosen to speak most clearly on these two great points: (1) concerning the inspiration and importance of the written Word (1 Pet. 1:10,11,23,25; 2:2; 2 Pet. 1:19-21), and (2) concerning Christ as the Rock, the one and only foundation of his people’s salvation.—1 Pet. 2:4-8; Acts 4:11,12.
“5. The fifth concerns the Scripture as the final APPEAL on all matters of controversy. Rome refuses to have controversies decided by the Scripture. Instead of saying, ‘To the law and to the testimony,’ she says, ‘To the Pope and the Church.’ She will have only one court of appeal, and that is at Rome.
“6. The sixth concerns TRADITION, by which the Word of God is made of none effect. Rome declares that the Scriptures are incomplete without the innumerable unwritten traditions of the church, of which she is the sole depositary.
“These are the six ‘monstrous errors of the papists,’ as Dr. Whitaker calls them. He so ably refuted them from the Scripture, the Fathers, the Schoolmen’ and classic Romish authors, that even his great adversary, Bellarmine, procured a portrait of him, which he kept in his study, as an enemy for whom he had the profoundest respect and admiration.
“These six points embrace and cover the ground of the whole controversy. They were the battlefield of the Reformation, and the Protestant victory is summed up in the words of Article VI. of the Church of England,—
“‘Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the
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Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.’
“Any one of these six points is vital to the whole of Reformation Truth.
“Thus the attitude of Rome towards the Bible is clear. As to any theory of Inspiration she is dumb, and has herself preserved the silence she has enjoined on others. As to the Bible itself, there is nothing she so abominates, and nothing that she so fears. She will burn it or translate it, authorize it or forbid it, destroy it or print it, condemn it or praise it, as it may suit her purpose. She may vary her treatment of it, but whatever form that treatment may take, its aim, object, and end is always one and the same—to make it of none effect!”
* * *
The thoughtful reader will be struck with the fact that very many educated persons, called “Protestants,”
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are rapidly taking the same view of the Scriptures here attributed to Papacy. The “Protestant” higher critics deny the inspiration of the Scriptures except in the same sense that they themselves claim to be inspired—namely, by intelligence from education and not by a plenary inspiration by God’s holy spirit exerted phenomenally.
Protestants of all sects and parties state their faiths, but how few admit that “whatsoever is not read therein, or may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of faith, or thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” Protestants have left or are leaving the Scriptures as the “divine authority,” just as Romanists did in the dark ages. They too are now inclined to ask, What does our church teach? rather than What do the Scriptures teach?
O HEART, BE STRONG!
O heart, be strong, in God be strong;
Lift up thy cry, lift up thy song;
Pour out thy heavenly message sweet,
Oh, bear it forth on beauteous feet;
Cry the glad news from mountain height,
Flash through the gloom thy flaming light,
And to a listening world proclaim
The saving power of Jesus’ name.
O heart, be strong, in God be strong,
Thy suffering time will not be long;
Sow on a little while in tears,
Thy harvest is for endless years;
Weep through the night, but soon the day
Shall chase all grief and gloom away;
And thou with songs of joy shalt come
And enter thine eternal home.
O heart, be strong, for on the throne
God’s only well beloved Son
Sways the strong scepter of his might,
And vanquishes the hosts of night.
Lo, I am with you to the end,
An ever present, mighty friend—
All power is given into my hand,
Go, and obey my high command.
O heart, be strong, though countless foes
Thy march resist, thy work oppose;
Salvation’s Captain fights for thee,
He shall thy shield and buckler be;
He shall lift up and shield thy head,
While thou shalt on the serpent tread;
And more than conqueror thou shalt be,
Through Christ who gives the victory.
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RESTITUTION, FAITH CURES, PRAYER CURES AND THE GIFT OF HEALING
—(CONTINUED FROM OUR LAST)—
“MIND HEALING” AND “CHRISTIAN SCIENCE”
That the power of the mind over the body is great no person of experience will dispute. Every intelligent physician knows that in about one-half of his cases he needs to treat the mind as much as the body of his patient, and that in such cases to hold the confidence of his patient is very necessary. Who has not heard of the conscientious physician who in many cases administered bread-pills with strict orders as to proper food, drink and clothing, and thus had great success?
Every wise general has recognized the necessity of having the minds of his soldiers cheerfully employed, as promotive of general health. To this end sentimental music is prohibited in the army in time of war, and cheery and martial airs are commanded.
It has long been observed that where an infectious disease breaks out and becomes pestilential, those most afraid of it, whose minds dwell on the disease and dread it most, are the most subject to it, and most likely to have it in a violent form. The story has been often told of the college professor whose class in a joke experimented upon him, and put him into bed sick for several days, by some five of them meeting him at various places on his way from home to the school and each succeeding one emphasizing more than the former that he looked unwell, in fact sick, and should return home at once.
It is a well known fact that French scientists were some years ago granted several prisoners condemned to death, to experiment with as they chose. One was placed in a cell in which a man had just died from cholera, but was not told of the fact and was well the next day; another was placed in a clean cell, but told that the death from cholera had been in that cell and that he would surely take the disease; and he did take it, and died. Another of their experiments was, to bind and blindfold a prisoner and pass his hand and arm through a partition, telling him that scientists wanted to learn how long it would take to bleed to death from the cutting of one of the arteries of the arm. He prepared for the execution in this form and died in a few hours, though really the experiment was to learn how much effect fear would have, for the cut made in
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his arm was quite insignificant, and he lost only a few ounces of blood; the drip, drip, drip, which he could hear, and feel run down his arm, being a carefully arranged device of tepid water. He was mind-killed; he thought he had lost the blood, and exhaustion and death were the result.
Who, that has observed, will not admit that to think about an ache or a pain will aggravate it? And if it will intensify pain to allow the mind to dwell upon it, is it not reasonable to believe that pain can be lessened, and a cure expedited, by an exercise of the brain power in an opposite direction? The secret of how the mind operates upon disease undoubtedly lies in the fact that the brain is not only the seat of all thought, but also of all feeling. It has communication with the entire person by its active messengers, the nerves. Consequently when a message of pain comes from wounded nerves, the brain has power either to soothe the wounded nerves and assist thus in allaying the pain, or, on the other hand, it has power, instead of healing, to spread a general alarm to the entire nervous system, and thus both to increase the pain and delay recovery. From that centre, the brain, all the nerves are directed and more or less controlled, as a factory is governed and directed from the manager’s office. If we had no nerves, we could have no pain; and if we had the nerves even, and had no brain to which they could communicate their trouble, we could have no knowledge of pain. Hence we see that whether we shall suffer much pain depends not only upon the fineness, delicacy or sensitiveness of our nerves, but also upon the way in which our minds shall receive the appeals of our nerves—whether we magnify or minimize them. And yet, the full appreciation of the mental powers of human beings, and how best to make use of them, evidently belongs further along. In the full sunlight of the Millennial day this will doubtless be one of the prominent agencies of human restitution.
But we should be on guard against a device of our enemy, who, taking advantage of this principle of restitution which must soon be far more widely recognized than at present, endeavors to use it as his balloon by which to lift into public notice doctrines and theories subversive of the doctrines of the Scriptures. We refer now, specially, to what is deceptively termed “Christian Science.” This entire system seems to be as fraudulent and deceptive as its name, though we admit that some honest souls are possibly to be found among its advocates, having been deceived and misled by it. By reason of the gross misrepresentations of God’s character and plans by so-called Orthodoxy, some, in groping for something better, have fallen into this snare of Satan, as others have been ensnared into Infidelity, Spiritism, Theosophy, etc.
There is nothing Christian about “Christian Science.” It is against Christ and against the truths which Christ and his apostles taught. It is emphatically anti-Christian in its tendencies. But it acknowledges Christ,
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says one. Yes, we answer, so did the devils when they had an object in so doing. (Matt. 8:29; Acts 16:17; 19:15.) Spiritists also acknowledge Christ, claiming that he was an eminent medium. And so these Christian Scientists use his name to deceive, if possible, the very elect, claiming that our Lord was one of them—a Christian Scientist who did very well all things considered, but who did not understand the Science so well as its present exponents, who are ladies, and whose finer sensibilities were requisite to a full appreciation of the unfathomable depths of this science.
Candor compels us to remark that few Christian people recognize the meaning of the word Christian. It is not like the word Lutheran or Wesleyan: the secret force lies in the meaning of the Greek word Christ, which corresponds to the Hebrew word Messiah, and is a title rather than a name. It signifies, one Anointed by Jehovah as his agent, to accomplish the promised deliverance and blessing of mankind. All this was and is understood by the Jew as the import of the title Messiah, and should be recognized as the meaning of the corresponding word Christ by all true Christians.
“Christian Science” expounders, however, very far from believing in or expecting any deliverance through our Lord Jesus, the Christ, see nothing from which to deliver mankind, except perhaps delusions of pain, etc. They deny entirely any atonement for sin, and in fact deny any original sin to make necessary a ransom-sacrifice, such as the Scriptures teach. And not only do they thus deny the Lord’s work already accomplished, but they deny any future work to be done by him as the Millennial King. They deny that he did anything at his first advent except to teach their science, and that very imperfectly as compared with what they could have done,—especially as compared with what the self-styled “Rev.” Mrs. Eddy, their Boston leader and teacher, would have done.
But do not “Christian Scientists” claim to believe the Bible? some one suggests; and do they not quote from it frequently? Yes, certainly, that is a part of their garment of light, by which they deceive some of the children of the light. They quote Scripture much as Satan quoted it to our Lord in the temptation recorded in Matt. 4th chapter. But though they quote from the Bible, it is in an inconsistent manner and wholly out of its relation to the context, just as Satan did,—not to define God’s plan, but to bolster up a theory which proves a snare to many not rooted and grounded in the truth. Such, not familiar with the general meaning of the passages quoted, too often do not take
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the time to fully examine the context, but swallow the theory whole, presuming their teachers to be honest, and that the passages cited are correctly applied.
So-called Orthodoxy (by the custom of its ministers to take texts from the Bible for all sorts of discourses, contrary to the meaning and intention of the writer) has laid the foundation for just such deceptions as these which are now shipwrecking the faith of so many. Indeed, we are distinctly shown that all but “the elect,” a faithful few, will be misled by some of these various deceptive snares. But the “very elect,” because fully consecrated to God, shall have light and help sufficient to prevent them from being deceived so as to fall into such errors.
We are not criticizing Christian Science at length in this paper, for this we have already done in a former issue. We merely wish now to note that the truth on the subject of mental assistance to healing, presented above, already for many years recognized by all thinkers, though perhaps fully comprehended and appreciated, as yet, by none, is a very different thing from the claims of “Christian Scientists.” The former is in perfect harmony with both reason and Scripture, while the latter violates both.
In fact, we hold that the theories of these scientists (?) cannot have emanated from a sound brain, no matter how many sound minds may have been worked up to the point of belief in so unreasonable and unscientific a view of matters. We notice, too, that though they claim to believe that diseases and pains are not realities, but merely imaginations of the diseased minds, and curable by getting rid of such imaginations, yet when it comes to paying for this imaginary healing, imaginary dollars will not do. One might suppose that they would become so convinced of their theory that “All is mind, there is no matter; all is life, there is no death,” etc., that they would consider hunger and thirst and weariness and money as mere imaginations, and disregard them; but not so: food, and dress, and rest, and especially money, are very real to them. For instance, a book to explain (?) their theory is only $3.00. And the services of those who, after hearing about twelve discourses, get a “diploma” to practice as “Christian Scientists,” are never charged for in an imaginary manner, but at a good round figure in tangible money. All this is very different from the spirit and method of our Master, whose name they fraudulently adopt, to deceive and ensnare his followers.
But does some one ask, What object could Satan have in getting up such a deception and delusion? We answer, It is one of the many efforts he is permitted to make now against the foundation of all true Christian faith—THE RANSOM. Of course “Christian Scientists” do not claim to deny the ransom; nor do any of the various no-ransom theories so claim. It is part of their deceptive policy to retain a form of sound words, while they are diligent and untiring in their efforts to subvert their real significance. And all errors seem to take this form, evidently inspired by the one great deceiver, the arch-enemy of the cross. They are all the more dangerous and deceptive because they do not deny the Bible openly, but underhandedly. They deny original sin and its penalty, and ignore the work of Christ as Redeemer. They do not, of course, deny that he died, but they do deny that he “gave himself a ransom [a corresponding price] for all;” for they deny that any price was required or paid. The following quotation from one of their prominent writers shows that they ignore Christ’s redemptive work entirely, and substitute a principle of good as their deity. The writer says:—
“We are growing into that state where human possibilities and powers expand to their ultimate limits, and are pushing on toward the divine development as sons and daughters of God.”
In this manner Satan would deceive the world into the belief that the restitution privileges and blessings, which he can not delay, are not results of God’s time and order, nor brought about by our Lord’s redemptive work at Calvary, and his second coming in power as the promised “Seed” to bless all the families of the earth, and to restore all things, as spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:19-21.) He would offset and hinder as much as possible the proper effect of the coming blessings (viz., to lead mankind to appreciate and love their Redeemer and Restorer), by forestalling the effect of the coming restitution to the full perfection of human powers, and attributing them to a mere natural, human, mental “development” and “growing.”
This deception, as to the cause and source of the coming restitution, leading the mind away from the great work of Christ, first as Redeemer, and finally as Life-giver or Restorer, will be all the greater, because Satan thus adroitly mingles truth with error—a truth, too, more forcible far than the world and “Christian Scientists” generally conceive. The Millennial restitution will come about as a gradual development, expanding every good human quality to its ultimate limits (full restitution to all that was lost); and doubtless this will be accomplished very largely through the channel of faith and mental healing, guided by the Great Physician and his glorified Bride.
The fact that Satan, the prince of death and sickness (Compare Heb. 2:14 and Luke 13:16), has adopted “mind cures” to draw the attention of the world and to keep them blinded (2 Cor. 4:4) proves that our great foe is put to straits to continue his hold upon
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mankind; for, as our Lord intimated, when Satan begins to cast out Satan, it is a sign that his kingdom is nearing its end and will soon fall. This agrees with what we know from other sources,—that Satan’s triumph is limited; that he will soon be bound for a thousand years, that he may deceive the nations no more.
KEEP THE MIND PURE
Few recognize the influence of the mind over the body. God has so organized our beings that pure, noble, holy thoughts in general have not only an elevating and ennobling effect upon the mental and moral constitution, but an invigorating influence upon the physical system. And, on the contrary, every unclean, ignoble, unchaste, unholy thought (as well as act) has a direct effect not only toward debasement of mind and morals, but toward the germination of seeds of disease already in the constitution of all the fallen race.
If this were more widely known and more fully recognized, it would be a great blessing to very many, and would tend to prevent much sickness among both young and old, and would sometimes explain why those whose hands and brains are busiest are often the most healthy and happy. “Keep thy heart [mind, will]; for out of it are the issues of life.” These words should be deeply graved upon the tablet of memory by every person. They are words of wisdom. Their full import may not be recognized by many in the present time, but surely all must sooner or later learn it; for compliance with this rule is to be the arrangement by and under which, during Christ’s Millennial reign, the world will be blessed.
Mankind will be brought to a knowledge of the truth, and to an opportunity for restitution to full perfection by the great Redeemer, but in such a manner
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as to require them to strive against sin and impurity, and to strive for righteousness and perfection, which in response to their prayers and efforts the Life-giver will supply freely, having redeemed them from the Adamic condemnation for this very purpose of restoring the obedient to all that was lost in Adam’s fall.
It is a mistake to suppose, as many seem to do, that because our Lord Jesus paid the full price of our redemption from sin and death, therefore all the redeemed ones must be freed forever from condemnation and sin, as soon as the “times of Restitution” begin. On the contrary, when the world is awakened from the tomb it will be still under condemnation as sinners and unworthy of eternal life, and subject to the bondage of corruption (death). Its first step will be to learn of God’s gracious provision in the ransom, by which, through Christ, they may escape sin and its penalty (corruption) and obtain the gift of life. That knowledge will develop either obedience and consecration to Christ and lead to its reward of gradual restitution to human perfection, or it will lead to a personal and wilful rejection of God’s grace and the merging of their sentence from Adamic death to Second death. Our Lord’s sacrifice atoned for and is applicable to only the sin of Adam and its wide spread results. Hence it covers only those sins which result from weaknesses within ourselves and evil and temptation surrounding us, which our hearts (wills) do not consent to nor approve when we come to know the right and wrong in God’s sight.
As soon as we come to a clear apprehension of our provided redemption, and into harmony with its conditions, we may consider ourselves “saved” from the Adamic condemnation and restored to divine favor, though the time for actual restoration to the blessings secured is at the close of the Gospel age. This is true of the elect Church now, and will be true of the world in the next age. The actual attainment of the privileges and blessings of restitution provided for all by God, through our Redeemer, and to be freely offered (in the coming age) to all, will not be attained except by the desire and effort of the human will; just as the saints of this age must watch and strive and pray, to win the prize of the new nature now offered.
As soon as we know and accept of Christ’s redemption work, we may reckon ourselves free from all condemnation on Adam’s account, or traceable to his failure; and then, at that moment of knowledge, the individual trial of each human being begins; and by his efforts as well as his prayers he shows his desire for a life of holiness and purity and fellowship with God. And to such the Lord is pleased to extend his favor and every needed aid, bringing them ultimately to full perfection and to the enjoyment of all the privileges lost by wilful sin in Eden. And every sin and impurity, every unholiness, every dishonesty of thought or act will react upon the evil-doer, bringing with it a heavy toll of interest; and, if persisted in, it will prove such a one unworthy of the everlasting life of holiness and purity. This, the only everlasting life which God has offered or will grant, will be given only to those who, when brought to a full knowledge of all the facts, shall so desire a life of holiness as to strive against sin and impurity in every form.
And while this principle will apply specially to mankind during the Millennium, it is also a principle with the saints in the present time. Purity, chastity, holiness of heart (of mind), belong to our consecration,—to be copies of God’s dear Son, our Lord, who was holy, harmless, undefiled. Wherefore:—
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23.) “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8.
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, … think on these things.”—Phil. 4:8.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
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—AUGUST 9.—2 SAM. 10:8-19.—
Golden Text—”The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”—Psa. 27:1.
WHILE it is true that David’s reign was largely a succession of wars, with only occasional intermissions of peace, it should be noticed that these wars were not aggressive wars, or wars for conquest, but that they were always defensive. While David’s policy toward the surrounding nations was wise and kind, they were not so disposed toward Israel. They were jealous of Israel’s growing power and prosperity, and thus prompted, they made the attacks which David must of necessity repel as a loyal and patriotic servant of the Lord’s people. The disposition of those nations was to exterminate or drive out the Lord’s chosen people, and therefore the only righteous course for David to pursue was to fight.
While it is written, “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God,” it is also written, “Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.” The suggestion is plainly that there is such a thing as an ignoble peace,—a peace which comes from indifference to the principles of righteousness and truth, a peace dearly bought and ignobly maintained. But, on the other hand, it should be remembered that no battle is a righteous battle except when the Lord gives strength and teaches our hands to war and our fingers to fight, when the battle is the Lord’s battle, for the maintenance of his honor, the establishment of the principles of his righteousness and the protection of his cause and his people. Under the typical Jewish dispensation this was done, properly, with carnal weapons; but under the dispensation of the spirit of God we are instructed that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but [nevertheless, they are] mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4.) And happy is the man who can always realize that the Lord’s strength and skill are given to him while, with heroic Christian fortitude as a good soldier of the cross, he goes forth to fight the good fight of faith against the powers of darkness strongly intrenched on every side. Thus, indeed, he may win the reward promised to the overcoming soldiers of the cross (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26,28; 3:5,12,21), and also the blessing that is sure to the peacemaker; for the glorious peace that is won by the good fight of faith is a blessed peace, a peace resting on the sure foundations of the eternal principles of right. But beware, O Christian, that you never go to the battle without the assurance that the battle is the Lord’s. Like David’s, let your inquiry be, Lord, shall I go up to the battle? (1 Sam. 23:2,4; 30:7,8; 2 Sam. 5:18,19,22,23), and then, like him, wait for the answer in the assurance that the battle is the Lord’s.
To all who are thus in the conflict, nobly contending—by their words, their actions and their general conduct—for truth and righteousness, against all who oppose themselves, we would say in the words of Joab to the hosts of Israel, “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people and for the cities of our God: and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.” (Verse 12.) If the battle is the Lord’s, it is sure to be victorious. “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”
While the wars of David were not undertaken for conquest or plunder, but in defense of God’s people, they nevertheless resulted in the enlargement of their territory, so that now, for the first time, was fulfilled the promise made to Abraham (Gen. 15:18), that his seed should possess the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. The spoils taken from their enemies were also very great. There were shields of gold and vessels of silver, gold and copper. These were dedicated to the Lord, and reserved for the temple that Solomon was to build.
While noting the justice of the wars of David and the spirit of religious zeal in which he undertook them, his reverence for God and his high sense of justice were usually very marked in even the little things of his life. For instance, when he was hidden in the cave of Adullum, with the enemies, the Philistines, encamped near by, and he thirsted greatly for water, so that three of his captains at the risk of their lives broke through the ranks of the Philistines and procured water for the king, David refused to drink it, saying, “God forbid it me: … Shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy.” Such water he considered too costly to drink, so he poured it upon the ground as an offering to God. (2 Sam. 23:13-17; 1 Chron. 11:15-19.) Few indeed among the kings of earth would consider any sacrifice of their fellow-men too costly to be bestowed on them. They feel that they are the lords of creation, and proudly claim, as their right, the luxuries purchased at the sacrifice of the rights and privileges of their fellow-men whom they regard as inferior beings and only made to serve them. But it was not so with David, whose sober estimate of himself was that he was only a brother to every other man, and that to God only was supreme reverence and honor due.
Another instance of David’s lively sense of justice is that recorded in 1 Sam. 30:21-25, where David made an ordinance for Israel to the effect that those who in time of battle remained behind on account of physical weakness, or to guard the stuff, or the home, should share equally the spoils with those who went to the
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battle. The account is very explicit on this point. We read, “Then answered all the wicked men, the men of Belial, of those that went with David, and said, Because they went not with us, we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered, save to every man his wife and children, that they may lead them away and depart. Then said David, Ye shall not do so, my brethren, with that which the Lord hath given us; … for who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. And it was so from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day.”
This ordinance in Israel is the statement of a principle which has many applications. The wife, for instance, who cares for the home, should have an equal share with the husband, who, being relieved from such cares, has his time free to earn the money. They are rightfully “heirs together of the grace of life,” as well as of the burdens of life.
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The golden text of this lesson suggests the proper frame of mind for all the Lord’s people who are now fighting the good fight of faith. Though the situation may look dark and dangerous, and though foes may multiply and perplexities increase, it bids them fear not—”The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” David said, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”—Psa. 27:1-14.
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DAVID’S CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
—AUGUST 16.—Psa. 32:1-11.—
Golden Text—”Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”—Psa. 51:10.
IT is with a good degree of satisfaction that we write as the heading of this lesson, David’s confession and forgiveness, when we consider that, had not the good that was in the man reasserted itself, we might have had to write, “David’s unrepented fall and its fearful recompense.” Thus far, in considering this notable character in Jewish history, we have been calling attention to those noble traits which marked him as a righteous, just, godly man—a man of high attainments, both morally and intellectually, and one whom God was pleased to honor and bless and to make a chosen instrument in his service.
But with all his attainments, with all his wisdom, and skill, and sound judgment, and with all his humility and godly reverence, the poor fallen nature of even this great and good man succumbed to the temptations of abundant prosperity. It is hard to account for the fall of such a good man and of a character so strong in many respects as that of David; but one writer, we think, reasons on it very correctly, saying,—”In some natures, especially strong natures, both the old man and the new possess unusual vehemence; the rebellious energizings of the old are held in check by the still more resolute vigor of the new; but if it so happen that the opposition of the new man to the old is relaxed or abated, then the outbreak of corruption will be on a fearful scale.”
Evidently this fall of David into gross sin was not altogether sudden. There had been missteps leading up to it; and the process being gradual and each wrong thing searing the conscience more and more, the climax was reached almost imperceptibly, so that two, even of the basest crimes, were at length committed, apparently without any compunctions of conscience; and the sin was concealed unrepented of, although it was yielding its bitter fruit of restless remorse (Psa. 32:3,4), until Nathan the prophet was sent to awaken and arouse the man to a deep sense of his guilt and of the necessity of immediate repentance, confession and reformation. David had become so intoxicated with the spirit which generally attends power, popularity and great success that he evidently did not recognize his gradual moral decline. As a king his word was supreme among the people; all Israel waited to do his bidding; the greatest men in the nation were at his service; success had everywhere attended his energies on the field of battle; his kingdom was extended and very prosperous; but in the midst of all this success and exaltation lurked temptations subtle and dangerous which should have been guarded against with scrupulous care, and perseveringly resisted.
As the chief magistrate of the nation few indeed were bold enough to be true to the king as to a brother in pointing out his errors and dangers: on the other hand, the tendency was, as it always is toward those in power, rather to endorse and imitate, than to wisely, kindly and respectfully reprove, remembering the highest interests of such a one in preference to any desire for his favor at the expense of those interests. While we mark with pleasure the noble traits in David’s character, we must deplore the steps of his decline. He got to looking upon the privileges claimed by other kings about him as his privileges also, in a measure at least, and, contrary to the divine law (See Lev. 18:1-4,18 margin; Deut. 17:14,17-20), he multiplied wives to himself. Then in his war with the Ammonites he resorted to unnecessary cruelty, not alone contented to conquer, but desiring thus ignobly to triumph over his foes. (Compare 1 Chron. 20:1-3; 2 Sam. 11.) Then his numbering of the people, contrary to the law of God and the counsel of his wisest men and the religious sense of the nation (See 1 Chron. 21:1), showed that a decline of piety was leading him to doubt the divine favor, and consequently to put his trust in numbers and equipments for defence, etc. (Jer. 17:5), rather than in God, whose favor and help could be experienced only while he continued to walk in the paths of righteousness.
It was in the midst of this season of outward prosperity, yet decline of inward piety, that David succumbed to temptation and to the dreadful crime he committed against God and man. (2 Sam. 11:1-27.) Poor, fallen human nature! how weak it is, and how prone to sin, even at its best state! Truly, there is no safety from the power of sin except in a close and constant walk with God, and a resolute purpose to continually avoid and resist the intoxicating influences of the spirit of the world. To allow its pride or vain glory or desire for self-gratification to actuate us in any measure is to bring our moral perceptions to that extent under its stupefying influence. And when any one is intoxicated with the spirit of the world (which in large measure is the spirit of Satan), he will blindly do many things which in his sober senses he would shun and despise. So it was with David, a great and wise man, and, until this intoxication came upon him, a good man, and therefore beloved and highly honored of God, yet even he fell; and the previous height of his moral character makes all the more sad his decline and fall.
Well indeed would it have been for David had he remembered the command of the Lord,—”And it shall be when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom,
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that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book. … And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes to do them; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left.” (Deut. 17:18-20.) If in this matter even such a man as David failed, and therefore was overcome by the power of temptation, let every child of God take heed and profit by the lesson of his folly. The Word of God must be the daily companion, instructor and guide to every one who would be kept in the paths of righteousness, be he little or great. It is not enough that we read it, nor even that we study it, for the sake of mere information or for argument: it is given us to ponder and to feed upon, that its principles may be incorporated into our being, moulding our thoughts and guiding all our actions. This is what it is to have the word of the Lord dwelling in us as an energizing and moving power; and if we thus have fellowship with God through his Word and the privilege of prayer, we shall not be beguiled into sin, nor partake of the intoxicating spirit of the world.
It has been suggested by some, by way of excuse for David, that a man’s life should be judged as a whole, and not by the failures in it, the intimation being that if in such a view of his life the good predominates, then it should be considered a righteous life, or vice versa. And so, it is suggested, we should estimate the character of David and numerous others, among them the inquisitors of times past, who burned and tormented those who differed from them. Many of these, it is suggested, were good, but mistaken men.
From this line of reasoning we are obliged to differ, because it is at variance with the judgment of God, as clearly expressed by the Prophet Ezekiel, as follows,—”When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, … all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. … But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes [which implies also the pondering and study of them], and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. … When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them [unrepentant],
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for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.”*—Ezek. 18:24,21,22,26-28. See also 2 Pet. 2:20-22.
*This eighteenth chapter of Ezekiel relates specially to the time when the Adamic transgression will be offset by the New Covenant as a result of the ransom, so that naught will remain against believers but their own misconduct. The same principle applies to some extent to those of this Gospel age who are justified by faith; and to the Israelites justified by the typical sacrifices.
It would be a great mistake to presume that the blindness and spiritual stupor that result from intoxication with the spirit of the world constitute a proper excuse for the sins committed while in that state. God did not so judge in the case of David. The beginning of any sin is the first yielding to its intoxicating influence; and therefore we are faithfully warned to abstain from the very appearance of evil. (1 Thes. 5:22.) David’s sin, like that of all other sinners, began in giving heed to the first suggestions of evil, and having done this the subsequent steps were easily taken.—Compare James 1:14,15.
But, thank God, there is such a thing as repentance and remission of sins. And although David had sinned grievously, and God was very angry with him, yet in his wrath he remembered mercy, and sent Nathan the prophet to reprove him. It was doubtless a difficult task for Nathan to approach the king on such an errand, but he did not hesitate when the Lord commanded, nor did he go about the duty in any other way than that of straight-forward, yet respectful simplicity. He did not first endeavor to offset in David’s mind his present evil course with a rehearsal of his past good deeds—of faith and valor and justice and humility, thereby intimating that the latter balanced the former, but, remembering that in God’s reckoning all former good deeds would count for nothing unless present sins were repented of, he came straight to the point, and with skill he presented the case in a parable which David mistook for an actual case, and hastily pronounced the sentence of death upon the offender. He probably desired to show the man of God how zealous he would be for righteousness, little surmising that the prophet knew of his unrighteous course until, with heroic fortitude which waved every other consideration but the doing of the will of God, Nathan brought the lesson home to his conscience, saying, “Thou art the man. …
Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the Lord to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah, the Hittite, with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from thine house. … Thus saith the Lord, Behold I will raise up evil+ against thee out of thine own house.”—2 Sam. 12:7-12.
+Evil here is not used in the sense of sin, but as signifying trouble or calamity. This was a feature of God’s covenant with Israel as a nation. Their obedience was to have earthly recognition and reward—their disobedience and sins were to receive earthly punishments. No such covenant was ever made with any other nation. See our issue of March 1, ’95.
It was a critical moment for David, and probably for a time silence reigned. What would he do? Would he proudly resist the power of the truth, thus calmly but kindly pressed home by his old and trusted friend, the humble man of God? Probably this was the first impulse of the pride engendered by his thus far successful career; but there was the truth so plainly set before him: how could he deny it? how could he excuse it, or in any sense or degree justify it? Even to his own mind there was evidently no excuse, no palliation. Conscience, which had been more or less restless and even at times remorseful, ever since the crime, was now thoroughly awakened, and a crisis was reached. There were but two courses before the king: one was repentance, confession and reformation; and the other was to plunge deeper into sin by angrily denouncing the
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prophet and wickedly misusing his power as a king to punish the man of God for presuming to reprove him, and then proudly declaring it to be the right of kings, as exceptional individuals, to do as they please, such being the generally acceded custom of kings in all the nations. Thus he would have been claiming that the customs of the world, instead of the law of God, were to him the standard of privilege. “What king,” he might truly have said, “considers the rights of his fellow-men in preference to his own desires?”
But we are glad that David did not take this latter evil course. On the contrary, he allowed his better nature to reassert itself; and David said unto Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said unto David, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die”—although in the judgment of the parable David had unconsciously condemned himself to death. How gracious is God, how ready to pardon when true repentance is manifest! “Howbeit,” said Nathan, “because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.” David in his contrition meekly accepted both the reproof and the penalties pronounced against him; and realizing that his sin was very grievous, and that his example before the nation was very detrimental to the moral and religious interests of the people, he resolved, and carried out his resolve, to make the example of his deep contrition and repentance as far-reaching in its effects for good, as his sin had been for evil.
This was a noble resolution, and in nothing does the nobility of the man shine out more clearly than in his humble and public confession of his sin, his efforts to undo, as far as possible, the wrong he had done, and his meek submission to the penalties which God in his wisdom and mercy saw fit to inflict upon him, that thus his wrath against sin might be manifest to all, and that king and people might so be warned against it. “Better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” (Prov. 16:32.) So in overcoming the pride and selfishness that had taken deep root in his heart, David proved himself a greater hero than even in his youthful conflict with the giant of Gath, or in any subsequent encounter.
That the divine forgiveness does not of necessity imply the remitting of all the penal consequences of sin is manifest in this case and in thousands of others. According to the divine law, the full penalty of David’s sin was death. And, judged by the rigor of that law, this sentence was due under two indictments (See Lev. 20:10; 25:17); but in view of his repentance the Lord remitted the death penalty (2 Sam. 12:13) and inflicted only such punishment as was necessary for the full correction of the offender and the warning and instruction of the nation, showing that he was no respecter of persons, and that king and people were on a common level before the divine law. It should also be observed that the penalties inflicted were to a large extent the outgrowth of former sins. The severest troubles came from his polygamous household, and the sons who gave him most trouble were the children of heathen wives; and the child of Bathsheba died.
In Psalm 51 David makes public confession of his sin and of God’s mercy in forgiveness. In Psalm 32 he gratefully records the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile—no deceit, no hypocrisy, but all of whose doings are open and transparent, and manifestly wrought in righteousness. Here he declares, “I acknowledge my sin,” and he testifies to the Lord’s forgiveness (vs. 5); and for this divine forgiveness he exhorts all sinners to pray to God in a time when he may be found (vs. 6); i.e., before their hearts become calloused and set in an evil course.
Then, even in the midst of the troubles consequent upon his sin, which he meekly and patiently bore, David learned by faith to rejoice in the Lord, saying, “Thou art my hiding place: thou wilt preserve me from trouble, thou wilt compass me about with songs of deliverance;” for he will not suffer any tribulation to overwhelm his trusting saints upon whom he has set the seal of his pardoning love.
Then David voices the Lord’s sentiments toward all his trusting obedient children thus, as though the Lord were answering back to his expressions of humble confidence and trust, saying, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee, mine eye shall be upon thee [margin]. Be not as the horse or the mule, which have no understanding, whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, else they will not come near unto thee”—[R.V.] will not submit to control.
“Many sorrows shall be to the wicked [as long as they remain wicked. David had proved that by sad experience—vss. 3,4.]; but he that trusteth in the Lord [which necessitates also the departing from iniquity], mercy shall compass him about.” Therefore, said the confident faith of this repentant one to whom had been restored the joys of salvation, “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart.”
If God thus restored to his penitent and believing servant the joys of his salvation, and made the bones which he had broken to rejoice (Psa. 51:8); if he created in him a clean heart, and renewed a right spirit within him (Psa. 51:8,10), who then shall lay any thing to the charge of his beloved? As freely as God forgave, so must all his people; and therefore we rejoice to recognize David as one of the ancient worthies—worthy of our love, our confidence and a noble example for our imitation of the many graces that adorned his character. And in nothing did the king give us a more worthy example than in the victory over himself to which attention has just been called. Especially in considering his exalted station, his prominence before the
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nation, the deeply disgraceful crimes of which he was guilty, the acknowledgment of which would be so humiliating, and the consequent loss of esteem and confidence he must expect from the whole nation, and the appreciation which he doubtless had of the esteem he had so worthily held for so many years, and the keen sense of the disgrace which such a nature must have when brought again to his sober senses—when we consider all these things, the victory gained by David over himself in humbling himself and repenting, is one of the greatest and grandest achievements on the pages of history; and his course is one to be commended to every child of God who realizes that he has to any degree departed from the right ways of the Lord.