Why Marry Her?

The Choice of a Wife

by T. DeWitt Talmage (1832-1902)

“Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?” – Judges 14:3

Samson is here asking consent of his father and mother to marriage with one whom they thought was unfit for him. He was wise in asking their counsel, but unwise in rejecting it. Captivated with her looks, the big son wanted to marry a daughter of one of the hostile families, a deceitful, hypocritical, whining and saturnine creature, who afterward made him a world of trouble till she quit him forever.

In my text, his parents forbade the banns, practically saying, “When there are so many honest and beautiful maidens of your own country, are you so hard put to for a lifetime partner than you propose conjugality with this foreign flirt? Is there such a dearth of lilies in our Israelite gardens that you must wear on your heart a Philistine thistle? Do you take a crabapple because there are no pomegranates? Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?”

Beautiful Jewesses!

Excuseless was he for such a choice in a land and amid a race celebrated for female loveliness and moral worth, a land and a race of which self-denying Abigail, and heroic Deborah, and dazzling Miriam, and pious Esther, and glorious Ruth, and Mary – who hugged to her heart the blessed Lord – were only magnificent specimens. The midnight folded in their hair, the lakes of liquid beauty in their eye, the gracefulness of spring morning in their posture and gait were only typical of the greater brilliance and glory of their soul.

Likewise excuseless is any man in our time who makes lifelong alliance with anyone who, because of her disposition, or heredity, or habits, or intellectual vanity, or moral twistification, may be said to be of the Philistines.

Modern Female Loveliness!

The world never owned such opulence of womanly character, or such splendor of womanly manners, or multitudinous instances of wifely, motherly, daughterly, sisterly devotion, as it owns today. I have not words to express my admiration for good womanhood. Woman is not only man’s equal, but in affectional and religious nature, which is the best part of us, she is seventy-five per cent his superior.

Yea, during the last twenty years, through the increased opportunity opened for female education, the women of the country are better educated than the majority of men; and if they continue to advance in mentality at the present ratio, before long the majority of men will have difficulty in finding in the opposite sex enough ignorance to make appropriate consort.

If I am under a delusion as to the abundance of good womanhood abroad, consequent upon my surroundings since the hour I entered this life until now, I hope the delusion will last until I embark from this planet. So you will understand, if I say something that seems severe, I am neither cynical nor disgruntled.

No Need to Marry a Fool!

There are, in almost every farmhouse in the country, in almost every home of the great cities, conscientious women, worshipful women, self-sacrificing women, holy women, innumerable Marys, sitting at the feet of Christ; innumerable mothers, helping to feed Christ in the person of His suffering disciples; a thousand capped and spectacled grandmothers Lois, bending over Bibles whose precepts they have followed from early girlhood; and tens of thousands of young women that are dawning upon us from school and seminary, that are going to bless the world with good and happy homes that shall eclipse all their predecessors, a fact that will be acknowledged by all men except those who are struck through with moral decay from toe to cranium. More inexcusable than the Samson of the text is that man who, amid all this unparalleled munificence of womanhood, marries a fool.

But some of you are abroad suffering from such disaster, and to halt others of you from going over the same precipice, I cry out in the words of my text: “Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines?”

Marriage Not for All!

That marriage is the destination of the human race is a mistake that I want to correct before I go further. There are multitudes who never will marry, and still greater multitudes who are not fit to marry. In Great Britain today there are nine hundred and forty-eight thousand more women than men, and that, I understand, is, about the ratio in America. By mathematical and inexorable law, you see, millions of women will never marry.

The supply for matrimony is greater than the demand, the first lesson of which is that every woman ought to prepare to take care of herself if need be. Then there are thousands of men who have no right to marry, because they have become so corrupt of character that their offer of marriage is an insult to any good woman. Society will have to be toned up and corrected on this subject, so that it shall realize that if a woman who has sacrificed her honor is unfitted for marriage, so is any man who has ever sacrificed his purity.

What right have you, oh masculine beast whose life has been loose, to take under your care the spotlessness of a virgin reared in the sanctity of a respectable home? Will a buzzard dare to court a dove?

The First Step

But the majority of you will marry, and have a right to marry. As your religious teacher I wish to say to these men, in the choice of a wife, first of all seek divine direction! About thirty-five years ago, when Martin Farquhar Tupper, the English poet, urged men to prayer before they decided upon matrimonial association, people laughed. And some of them have lived to laugh on the other side of their mouth.

Eminent Blunderers

The need of divine direction I argue from the fact that so many men – and some of them strong and wise – have wrecked their lives at this juncture. Witness Samson and this woman of Timnath! Witness Socrates, pecked of the historical Xantippe! Witness Job, whose wife had nothing to prescribe for his carbuncles but allopathic doses of profanity! Witness Ananias, a liar, who might perhaps have been cured by a truthful spouse, yet marrying as great a liar as himself, Sapphira! Witness John Wesley, one of the best men that ever lived, united to one of the most outrageous and scandalous of women, who sat in City Road Chapel, making mouths at him while he preached!

Witness the once connubial wretchedness of John Ruskin, the great art essayist, and Frederick W. Robertson, the great preacher! Witness a thousand hells on earth kindled by unworthy wives, termagants that scold like a March northeaster; female spendthrifts that put their husbands into fraudulent schemes to get money enough to meet the lavishment of domestic expenditure; opium-using women – about four hundred thousand of them in the United States – who will have the drug even though it should cause the eternal damnation of the whole household; heartless and overbearing, and namby-pamby and unreasonable women, yet married – married perhaps to good men! These are the women who build the low clubhouses, where the husbands and sons go because they can’t stand it at home. On this sea of matrimony, where so many have been wrecked, am I not right in advising divine pilotage?

Numerous Pitfalls

Especially is devout supplication needed because of the fact that society is so full of artificialities that men are deceived as to whom they are marrying, and no one but the Lord knows. After the dressmaker, and the milliner, and the jeweler, and the hair-adjuster, and the dancing master, and the cosmetic art have completed their work, how is an unsophisticated man to decipher the physiological hieroglyphics, and make accurate judgment of who it is to whom he offers hand and heart?

This is what makes so many recreant husbands. They make an honorable marriage contract, but the goods delivered are so different from the sample by which they bargained. They were simply swindled and they backed out. They mistook Jezebel for Longfellow’s Evangeline, and Lucretia Borgia for Martha Washington.

Aye, as the Indian chief boasts of the scalps he has taken, so there are in society today many coquettes who boast of the masculine hearts they have captured. And these women, though they may live amid richest upholstery, are not so honorable as the cyprians of the street, for these advertise their infamy, while the former profess heaven while they mean hell.

There is so much counterfeit womanhood abroad it is no wonder that some cannot tell the genuine coin from the base. Do you not realize you need divine guidance when I remind you that mistake is possible in this important affair, and, if made, is irrevocable?

A Mistake Irreparable

The worst predicament possible is to be unhappily yoked together. You see, it is impossible to break the yoke. The more you pull apart, the more galling the yoke. The minister might bring you up again and in your presence read the marriage ceremony backward, might put you on the opposite sides of the altar from where you were when you were united, might take the ring off of the finger, might rend the wedding veil asunder, might tear out the marriage leaf from the family Bible record, but all that would fail to un-marry you.

It is better not to make the mistake than to attempt its correction. But men and women do not reveal all their characteristics until after marriage, and how are you to avoid committing the fatal blunder? There is only one Being in the universe who can tell you whom to choose, and that is the Lord of Paradise. He made Eve for Adam, and Adam for Eve, and both for each other. Adam had not a large group of women from whom to select his wife, but it is fortunate, judging from some mistakes which she afterward made, that it was Eve or nothing.

There is in all the world some one who was made for you, as certainly as Eve was made for Adam. All sorts of mistakes occur because Eve was made out of a rib from Adam’s side. Nobody knows which of his twenty-four ribs was taken for the nucleus. If you depend entirely upon yourself in the selection of a wife, there are twenty-three possibilities to one that you will select the wrong rib.

By the fate of Ahab, whose wife induced him to steal; by the fate of Maspeth, whose wife pushed him into massacre; by the fate of James Ferguson, the philosopher, whose wife entered the room while he was lecturing and willfully upset his astronomical apparatus, so that he turned to the audience and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have the misfortune to be married to this woman”; by the fate of Bulwer, the novelist, whose wife’s temper was so incompatible that he furnished her a beautiful house near London and withdrew from her company, leaving her with the dozen dogs whom she entertained as pets; by the fate of John Milton, who married a termagant after he was blind, and when some one called her a rose, the poet said: “I am no judge of flowers, but it may be so, for I feel the thorns daily”; by the fate of an Englishman whose wife was so determined to dance on his grave that he was buried in the sea; by the fate of a village minister whom I knew, whose wife threw a cup of hot tea across the table because they differed in sentiment – by all these scenes of disquietude and domestic calamity, we implore you to be cautious and prayerful before you enter upon the connubial state, which decides whether a man shall have two heavens or two hells, a heaven here and Heaven forever, or a hell now and a Hell hereafter.

Noble Wives

By the bliss of Pliny, whose wife, when her husband was pleading in court, had messengers coming and. going to inform her what impression he was making. By the joy of Grotius, whose wife delivered him from prison under the pretence of having books carried out lest they be injurious to his health, she sending out her husband unobserved in one of the bookcases. By the good fortune of Roland, in Louis’ time, whose wife translated and composed for her husband, while Secretary of the Interior – talented, heroic, wonderful Madame Roland. By the happiness of many a man who has made the intelligent choice of one capable of being prime counselor and companion in brightness and in grief.

Yes, pray to Almighty God morning, noon, and night that at the right time and in the right way He will send you a good, honest, loving, sympathetic wife. Or, if she is not sent to you, that you may be sent to her.

Avoid Matchmakers

At this point let me warn you not to let a question of this importance be settled by the celebrated matchmakers flourishing in almost every community. Depend upon your own judgment, divinely illumined. These brokers in matrimony are ever planning how they can unite impecunious innocence to an heiress, or celibate woman to millionaire or marquis, and that in many cases makes life an unhappiness. How can any human being, who knows neither of the two parties as God knows them, and who is ignorant of the future, give such direction as you require at such a crisis?

Take the advice of the earthly matchmaker instead of the divine guidance, and you may some day be led to use the words of Solomon, whose experience in home life was as melancholy as it was multitudinous. One day his palace with its great wide rooms and great wide doors and great wide hall was too small for him and the loud tongue of a woman belaboring him about some of his neglects, and he retreated to the housetop to get relief from the lingual bombardment. And while there he saw a poor man on one corner of the roof with a mattress for his only furniture, and the open sky his only covering. And Solomon envies him and cries out, “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop than with a brawling woman in a wide house.” And one day during the rainy season the water leaked through the roof of the palace and began to drop in a pail or pan set there to catch it. And at one side of him all day long the water went drop! drop! drop! while on the other side a female companion quarrelling about this, and quarrelling about that, the acrimonious and petulant words falling on his ear in ceaseless pelting: drop! drop! drop! And he seized his pen and wrote, “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.” If Solomon had been as prayerful at the beginning of his life as he was at the close, how much domestic infelicity he, would have avoided!

But prayer about this will amount to nothing unless you pray soon enough. Wait until you are fascinated and the equilibrium of your soul is disturbed by a magnetic and exquisite presence, and then you will answer your own prayers, and you will mistake your own infatuation for the voice of God.

Avoid Scoffers

If you have this prayerful spirit you will surely avoid all female scoffers at the Christian religion; and there are quite a number of them in all communities. It must be told that, though the only influence that keeps woman from being estimated and treated as a slave – aye, as a brute and a beast of burden – is Christianity, since where it is not dominant she is so treated. Yet there are women who will so far forget themselves and forget their God that they will go and hear lecturers malign Christianity and scoff at the most sacred things of the soul. A good woman, over-persuaded by her husband, may go once to hear such a tirade against the Christian religion, not fully knowing what she is going to hear; but she will not go twice.

A woman, not a Christian, but a respecter of religion, said to me, “I was persuaded by my husband to go and hear an infidel lecturer once, but going home, I said to him: ‘My dear husband, I would not go again – though my declinature should result in our divorcement forever.” And the woman was right.

If after all that Christ and Christianity have done for a woman, she can go again and again to hear such assaults, she is an awful creature, and you had better not come near such a reeking lepress. She needs to be washed, and for three weeks to be soaked in carbolic acid, and for a whole year, fumigated, before she is fit for decent society. A woman must have regard for the Christian religion or she is a bad woman and unworthy of being your companion in a life charged with such stupendous solemnity and vicissitudes.

Two Essential Qualities

Oh, man, what you want in a wife is not a butterfly of the sunshine, not a giggling nonentity, not a painted doll, not a gossiping gadabout, not a mixture of artificialities which leave you in doubt as to where the humbug ends and the woman begins, but an earnest soul, one that cannot only laugh when you laugh, but weep when you weep.

There will be wide, deep graves in your path of life, and you will both want steadying when you come to the verge of them, I tell you! When your fortune fails you will want some one to talk of treasures in Heaven, and not charge upon you with a bitter, “I told you so.”

As far as I can analyze it, sincerity and earnestness are the foundation of all worthy wifehood. Get that, and you get all. Fail to get that, and you get nothing but what you will wish you never had got.

Beauty and Benediction

Don’t make the mistake that the man of the text made in letting his eye settle the question in which coolest judgment directed by divine wisdom are all-important. He who has no reason for his wifely choice except a pretty face is like a man who should buy a farm because of the dahlias in the front dooryard. Beauty is a talent, and when God gives it He intends it as a benediction upon a woman’s face.

When the good Princess of Wales dismounted from the rail train last summer, and I saw her radiant face, I could understand what they told me the day before, that, when at the great military hospital where are now the wounded and the sick from the Egyptian and other wars, the Princess passed through, all the sick were cheered at her coming. And those who could be roused neither by doctor nor nurse from their stupor, would get up on their elbows to look at her, and wan and wasted lips prayed an audible prayer, “God bless the Princess of Wales! Doesn’t she look beautiful?”

But how uncertain is the tarrying of beauty in a human countenance! Explosion of a kerosene lamp turns it into scarification, and a scoundrel with one dash of vitriol may dispel it. Or Time will drive his chariot wheels across that bright face, cutting it up in deep ruts and gullies. But there is an eternal beauty on the face of some women, whom a rough and ungallant world may criticize as homely; and though their features may contradict all the laws of Lavater on physiognomy, yet they have graces of soul that will keep them attractive for time and glorious through all eternity.

There are two or three circumstances in which the plainest wife is a queen of beauty to her husband, whatever her stature or profile. By financial panic or betrayal of business partner, the man goes down, and returning to his home that evening he says, “I am ruined; I am in disgrace forever; I care not whether I live or die.” It is an agitated story he is telling in the household that winter night. He says, “The furniture must go. The house must go. The social position must go,” and from being sought for obsequiously they must be cold-shouldered everywhere.

After he ceases talking, and the wife has heard all in silence, she says, “Is that all? Why, you had nothing when I married you, and you have only come back to where you started. If you think that my happiness and that of the children depend on these trappings, you do not know me, though we have lived together thirty years. God is not dead, and the National Bank of Heaven has not suspended payment and, if you don’t mind, I don’t care a cent. What little we need of food and raiment the rest of our lives we can get, and I don’t propose to sit down and mope and groan. Mary, hand me that darning-needle. I declare! I have forgotten to set the rising for those cakes!” And while she is busy at it he hears her humming Newton’s old hymn, “Tomorrow.”

“It can bring with it nothing

But He will bear us through;

Who gives the lilies clothing

Will clothe His people too;

Beneath the spreading heavens

No creature but is fed;

And He who feeds the ravens

Will give His children bread.

“Though vine nor fig-tree either

Their wonted fruit should bear,

Though all the fields should wither

Nor flocks nor herds be there;

Yet God the same abiding,

His praise shall tune my voice;

For while in Him confiding

I cannot but rejoice.”

The husband looks up in amazement, and says, “Well, well; you are the greatest woman I ever saw. I thought you would faint dead away when I told you.” And as he looks at her, all the glories of physiognomy in the Court of Louis XV on the modern fashion plates are tame as compared with the superhuman splendors of that woman’s face. Joan of Arc, Marie Antoinette, and La Belle Hamilton, the enchantment of the court of Charles II, are nowhere.

A Wife’s Death

There is another time when the p1ainest wife is a queen of beauty to her husband. She has done the work of life. She has reared her children for God and Heaven, and though some of them may be a little wild they will yet come back, for God has promised. She is dying, and her husband stands by. They think over all the years of their companionship, the weddings and the burials, the ups and the downs, the successes and the failures. They talk over the goodness of God and His faithfulness to children’s children.

She has no fear about going. The Lord has sustained her so many years she would not dare to distrust Him now. The lips of both of them tremble as they say good-bye and encourage each other about an early meeting in a better world. The breath is feebler and feebler, and stops. Are you sure of it? Just hold that mirror at the mouth, and see if there is any vapor gathering on the surface. Gone! As one of the neighbors takes the old man by the arm and gently says, “Come, you had better go into the next room and rest.” But he says, “Wait a moment; I must take one more look at that face and at those hands!”

Beautiful! Beautiful!

My friends, I hope you do not call that death. That is an autumnal sunset. That is a crystalline river pouring into a crystal sea. That is the solo of human life overpowered by hallelujah chorus. That is a queen’s coronation. That is Heaven. That is the way my father stood at eighty-two, seeing my mother depart at seventy-nine. Perhaps so your father and mother went. I wonder if we shall die as well?

This message taken from the pages of The Biblical Evangelist and used by permission.  September-October 2005.

W. A. Criswell Honors Father Buckner

Dr. Criswell
Dr. Criswell

2264-truett-and-father-buckner3

Click on above link. Once you have it will open in a new window.  Click again on that new link in the new window for audio.  It is one of the most spiritual messages you will ever hear given by the former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas.  He honors the memory of the Buckner family, the founders of the famous orphanage that bears their name.

You will notice once you have arrived at the page where the audio plays you will then be on the remarkable page where you can access many of Dr. Criswell’s sermons in audio, video & text.  This is a treasure trove of spiritual riches that will bless you beyond compare.  Enjoy!

Tiger

Tiger & Dad
Tiger & Dad

Tiger Woods Speech/Comments at Inauguration


Tiger Woods spoke Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington during “We Are One,” an inauguration celebration for President-elect Barack Obama. Below is the text of his speech, entitled “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” as posted on his Web site:

“I grew up in a military family – and my role models in life were my Mom and Dad, Lt. Colonel Earl Woods. My dad was a Special Forces operator and many nights friends would visit our home. They represented every branch of the service, and every rank. In my Dad, and in those guests, I saw first hand the dedication and commitment of those who serve. They come from every walk of life. From every part of our country. Time and again, across generations, they have defended our safety in the dark of night and far from home. Each day — and particularly on this historic day — we honor the men and women in uniform who serve our country and protect our freedom. They travel to the dangerous corners of the world, and we must remember that for every person who is in uniform, there are families who wait for them to come home safely. I am honored that the military is such an important part, not just of my personal life, but of my professional one as well. The golf tournament we do each year here in Washington is a testament to those unsung heroes. I am the son of a man who dedicated his life to his country, family and the military, and I am a better person for it. In the summer of 1864, Abraham Lincoln, the man at whose memorial we stand, spoke to the 164th Ohio Regiment and said: ‘I am greatly obliged to you, and to all who have come forward at the call of their country.’ Just as they have stood tall for our country – we must always stand by and support the men and women in uniform and their families. Thank you, and it is now my pleasure to introduce the US Naval Glee Club.”

The Resurrection of the Human Body

A Great Easter Message

By William Elbert Munsey, 1833-1877

“How are the dead raised up? and with what

body do they come?” I Cor. 5:35

William Elbert Munsey
William Elbert Munsey

WE are all standing upon the threshold of an awful future, replete with facts and instinct with entities, about which we know but little. Let but the heart cease its beating, or one vital function of this body cease its office, and we are gone-gone! to grapple with the stern truths of ages, at once interminable, inconceivable, unknown.

” To be or not to be,” after death, is answered, and nearly all men, though with different degrees of faith, are looking confidently to an existence beyond the grave.

The idea of immortality has descended down the stream of human generations from the first pair in Paradise, running down every branch from the central tide, disappearing in one, corrupted in another, and becoming more lucid and sat­isfactory in another, to the present age. It is seen in the language, literature, and manners of every age; in the his­tory, philosophy, and poetry of every people. It is seen in the retributive horrors of Tartarus, the rich fields and streams of Elysium, the Hesperian seas and islets of the Red man, the heaven and hell of the Christians.

But the heathen apply the idea of immortality to the soul only. The ancient heathen complained that the sun went down at night, and arose in the morning, but their friends went down in the gloomy darkness of death, and rose no more. They saw upon the face of every mysterious Provi­dence which swept the earth, in bold and living colors the pencillings of immortality: they felt the truth attested within by an instinctive shrinking back from annihilation, yet the tomb was invested with an eternal darkness, and the body surrendered to a perpetual sleep. With them the night of death was starless: there was no anticipated morning whose auroral splendors would break in upon the darkness of the grave, and hang the rainbow of hope over the dust of the dead.

The idea of the resurrection of the body does not appear to have occurred to them. To what source is the world then indebted for its existence? Not to reason, for the mind has not the requisite data; not to nature, for it is super-nature; not to science, for it is beyond the province of science; but to the Bible. It is the great fact recognized in the text, and is purely a subject of revelation. Let semi-infidel divines seek for the evidences of the resurrection elsewhere; it is only found in the Bible. I Would not exclude those rich illustrations corroborating Bible fact, which pour from every department in philosophic and material existence-no; but I appeal to the Bible, proven as it is to be the Word of God, as the highest evidence of the resurrection of the dead.

Hear with what authority it speaks: “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise” (Isa. 26:19). “Dead men”! “Dead bodies”! “They shall arise!”-“He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by His spirit that dwelleth in you”(Rom. 8:11).  “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2) “Asleep”! “Awake”!  “The hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28, 29). / Such announcements, my hearers, have kindled a smile upon the brow of bereave­ment, and a star in the graves of the departed.

This doctrine being peculiar to Christianity and having nothing analogous in nature, has been a favorite object of attack by every school of Infidels since its announcement. It is condemned as false, because it involves a mystery. This argument is of no force unless it is true universally, unless every other thing which involves a mystery is false too. If it is true universally, if every thing which involves a mystery is false, then there is nothing true in the universe. The argument proves too much, therefore is worth nothing.

The objector confounds two things very essentially differ­ent; mystery as to fact, and mystery as to a mode. A fact may be plain, while the manner of its production may be mysterious. The doctrine of the resurrection is a doctrine of fact, and as such is clear, but its mode is mysterious. The objector confounds mystery with absurdity. An absurd­ity is something contradictory in its very nature to human reason and common sense, such as supposing an effect greater than its cause; a mystery is something beyond human comprehension on the account of its magnitude, or the rela­tion it sustains to Infinite Power. The resurrection of the human body is not an absurdity, for it is not contrary to human reason; but a mystery, for it involves the agency of infinite power to accomplish it. A doctrine whose founda­tion stone is Omnipotence, could not from its nature be sub­jected to the feeble rules and restrictions of reason.

To deny the truth of the resurrection because its mode is a mystery to us, is to say that a finite mind is equal in discovering and investigating power to all difficulties in­volved in the existence and nature of any truth, however in­timate its relations to the great infinite, either in being or principle.

Another objector says, the resurrection contradicts the great principles of science. No science is perfect: it has been the business of one age to modify and improve the science. of the past age; a future age will but expose the learned follies of this. Science is scarcely out of its swad­dling-clothes. Is it entitled to more credence than the Bible? Must this old Book, hoary with the age of centuries, written by the finger of inspiration, born at Sinai, completed amid the splendors of the Apocalypse, whose footprints are seen in the crumbled dust of earth’s wrecked and mined greatness, whose teachings are Godlike, whose precepts are thunder-given, whose promises are the hope of the world, fly the stage before the gorgeous diction and sacrilegious pre­tensions of an ungodly and pseudo-philosophy?

But I could never see any point or relevancy in the objec­tion. In what department of true science are those princi­ples found and taught, conflicting with the doctrine of the resurrection? I appeal to all the tomes in the wide range of scientific lore for an answer-they are nowhere. All science is founded upon the discoveries of sense; and if it teaches such principles, it has exceeded its province, there­fore it is no argument. Revelation is the only oracle of our faith, and the proper tribunal before which to refer our theological questions. It is under its potent influence alone that life and immortality become divine realities. To go to science to settle matters of faith, is like going to a diction­ary to learn history, or to geology to learn mathematics.

Again, the objector says, it is contrary to our experience. But the great error in the objection is, that the objector as­sumes that his individual experience is the universal expe­rience of the race. The exact and entire experience of an individual now is unlike in many respects the experience of his contemporaries; how much more is it unlike the experi­ences of men in different ages of the world, and in different stages of its development. It does not follow because the tawny son of the tropics has never seen the earth whitened with snow, that the Laplander has not seen. it; neither does it follow because we never saw a man raised from the dead, that the Apostles did not see it.

Again, it is urged that the resurrection is contrary to the immutability of the laws of nature. This argument is of no force, for the resurrection is not to be brought about by the regular action of the laws of cause and effect, but by a super­natural power.  “Do ye not therefore err,” said Christ to the Sadducees, “because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?”  “Why should it be thought incredible with you,” says Paul, “that God should raise the dead?”  It is a provision of Redemption, hence above nature and na­ture’s laws, yet not contradictory to them, to either nature or its laws. It is a provision of a supernatural plan coming down upon nature, and entering in unity with it; into the unity of God’s grand system, embracing the material, immaterial, and moral.

Another objection is, the resurrection of the dead is because this body continually changes its sub­stances, so that the bodies we now have are not the same we had a few years ago, nor will be the same a few years hence -that the bodies in which we have sinned or acted right­eously may not be in many instances the same bodies as those which will be actually rewarded and punished. This argument contradicts the infidel’s own theory of the seat of personal identity, transferring the ego from the soul, the only true subject of reward and punishment, to the body, which is rewarded and punished simply as the instrument.

Such an argument would liberate in a few years every crim­inal in the world. Why retain a man in prison longer than the time afforded by this supposition for a perfect and entire change of the substance of his body? Know you not at the expiration of the hypothetical number of seven years that he is immaculate unless he sinned during his imprisonment? that there is not a particle of that guilty body which was incarcerated?  Open your state prisons and penitentiaries, and let their hordes out upon society, they are innocent. The same argument would so affect the proceedings of our criminal courts, that judge and jury would have to exercise great care to know how much of the guilty body was ar­raigned at the bar, if any, in order to mete out the ends of justice.

Such an argument, though popular and common, contra­dicts common sense, the common consciousness and experi­ence of mankind. Again, it would apply with equal force against the resurrection of Christ. His body, according to this hypothesis, changed several times, at least four times. Yet what body did he bring up?  This brings us to the true and Scriptural answer to the objection-the same body he laid down in the grave.

We have an evidence of the resurrection of the human body in the resurrection of Christ.  “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.”  “If Christ rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?  But if there be no res­urrection of the dead, ‘then is not Christ risen.” (I Cor. 15:12,13). The resurrection of the race follows naturally from the resur­rection of Christ. This is clear from the federal representa­tive nature of Christ. The relations he sustains from his fed­eral representative nature to Adam proves it. If Adam in his representative character brought death into the world by his fall, and died himself, it is reasonable that Christ, in his representative character, should by his life, death, and resur­rection bring life into the world. The relation he sustains from his federal representative nature to us proves it. Being our second federal Head, and Heaven-appointed Proto-

type, and that he did take upon himself a human body, and resumed that body after it had lain in the grave, exalted it to heaven, changed and glorified, is powerful evidence that our bodies too shall be raised, changed, and glorified, and dwell with His forever.

Again, if it was necessary for Christ, to complete the plan of salvation, to be raised from the dead, it is also necessary, to complete the execution of the plan, that man also should be raised, and furthermore if he was able to raise himself, he is able to raise others. Such is the argument of Paul, hence he adduces as his principal evidence the fact, that Jesus rose from the dead. His resurrection is the type of ours. Part of our nature is in heaven ; the exaltation of a part argues the exaltation of the whole. The Great Head of the church has gone up, and the body must follow. He is, as the Apos­tle expresses it, “The first fruits-of them that slept.”

The Jews were commanded to cut the first ripening grain in their fields and take it to Jerusalem, and lay it upon the altar as a pledge of the coming harvest and as a thank offer­ing to God. At the end of the harvest they all again met at Jerusalem to celebrate the harvest feast; which they did with sacrifices and thanksgiving for many days. Now Christ the “first fruits” lays upon God’s altar in heaven, as a pledge of that glorious harvest at the end of the world, which will leave every old tomb tenantless, and gather us all, soul and body both, redeemed and glorified into heaven.

The scheme of human redemption necessarily embraces the resurrection of the human body. Its provisions extend to the body, as well as to the soul. Hear the Scriptures: “Ye are not your own, but are bought with a price; therefore glorify God with your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Cor. 6:19, 20).  Both body and soul are God’s.  both bought by the blood of Jesus. Surely a body bought by the blood of Christ, especially when that body has been the sanctified temple of the Holy Ghost, cannot perish for­ever.  “We wait for the adoption, to wit, the ‘redemp­tion of the body.” (Rom. 8:23). “I am the resurrection and the life,” Christ exclaims. No mistaking his meaning, for he is speaking with reference to Lazarus. Peter and John “preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” (Acts 4:2). If through Christ, it is embraced in Redemp­tion.     “Christ bath abolished death and both brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel” (2 Tim.1:10).

The seat of self-consciousness, or personal identity, is in the soul, yet the body is an integral and essential part of the constitution of man. God doubtlessly designed in the creation of man the blending of the two great elements of His universe, the spiritual and material, into one creature. This is clear from the very facts of the case; the creation of pure spirits, the creation of simple matter, and the creation of the dual nature of man, compounded of both. Man ap­pears to be the central link, uniting the spiritual and material, in the grand chain of life and existence, sweeping from the throne of God down through every rank and order of beings, by regular gradations to the passive sod upon which we walk. This being true, it follows naturally that the body is an as essential part of man’s constitution as is his soul-that he would not be man without a body. If this conclusion be true again it follows, if man is redeemed, the plan affecting such work must include the body as well as the soul, or man is but half redeemed, and the plan is but half a plan.

Again, God’s whole system, spiritual and material, em­bracing His government of both, is a unity-a well-balanced, symmetrical, magnificent unity. The creation of a bifold being, possessing in unity in his constitution the two prime elements of God’s grand system, appears to be necessary to the unity of the whole. Now such a creature was man, for he is both spiritual and material. Such being his nature, it is presumptive that as a compound, God intended he should be immortal. In fact, such is the teaching of the Scriptures. Now sin entered the world, a foreign element in the Divine system, and being a violation of law, the basis of all order, naturally produced disorganization and death. It naturally destroyed the compound nature of man by separating his soul and body. Man was destroyed; the design of God was thwarted; and His system lost its unity–results not obvi­ated by the salvation of every disembodied soul in heaven.

Such were the effects of sin, and the nature of God, and the nature of things required that it should be expunged out of His entire system. He could have destroyed sin by the destruction of everything which it had effected. He could have hurled His unbalanced system into nihilism. He had the power to do both, and His nature would have justified the action. But He of His own free will and grace chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensation, according to the laws of His system itself, extending its pro­visions throughout the entire system, and touching with its restoring power everything which sin had touched-restoring man, establishing and perfecting His original designs, and readjusting the disturbed relations of universal being-He chose to establish a redemptive and compensatory dispensa­tion constituting within itself a complete remedy for the evils of sin.

A dispensation countervailing the influences of sin; one which would neutralize its poison and destroy the mephitic exhalations in man’s moral atmosphere; one which would track with angel wing and purifying power the paths of its corruption, and extract the cancerous fibres of the deadly phagedena from the system and government of God, and cast it, its author, and children into Topher, and wall it up and arch it over, to rankle in its own corruption in eternal isolation.

Now I ask you, is man restored to his original position as man, is the apparent design of God in man’s creation main­tained, and the unity of His system restored, if the body, one of the essentials of man’s constitution, one of the essentials of God’s original design, one of the essentials to the unity of His system, is never to be raised from the dead and united with the soul?  No; Christ Must save man in all the ele­ments of which man’s is compounded, or His mission is a failure. The objector is driven to the alternative of impeach­ing the remedial character and perfection of the atonement, or contradicting the Bible and the philosophy of the case, deny that death came by sin. Which choose ye?

Christ himself taught by words and actions that the resurrection of the body was included in the great work of which he was the subject. There was a pleasant little family in the town of Bethany, nearly two miles from Jerusalem, which Jesus loved-two sisters, and one brother-Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. In Jesus’ absence Lazarus died, and was buried in a cave, and covered with a stone. Jesus heard of it, and he and his disciples started for the scene of mourning, and arrived at Bethany four days after the burial. Before he entered the town, Martha heard of his coming and went to meet him: “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”  “Thy brother shall rise again.”  “I know he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” says Martha. “I am the resurrection and the life,” says Christ.

Martha runs and tells Mary, for many Jews were, present,  “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” Mary rose up hastily and ran to meet him, and fell down at his feet: “Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” Mary wept, the Jews who had followed her wept, and “Jesus wept.”  “Where have ye laid him?”  “Come and see.” They went to the cave: “Take ye away the stone,” and Jesus prayed:    “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me; and I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Then Jesus cried with a voice, which one day will pour its trumpet thunders throughout the vast charnel-house of the dead and bid us all live, “Lazarus, come forth,”-and the pulse of immortality began its vibrations in the grave, and the sheeted dead came forth alive. That one dead man arose, is presumptive that all dead men shall be raised; that Jesus raised him from the dead during his redemptive mis­sion on earth, is conclusive that the resurrection is embraced in the work of redemption; and that Death heard and obeyed Him once, argues that he will hear and obey Him again. This conclusion is clear from the fact that when Jesus was completing Redemption’s plan the graves were opened, and as he completed it by his resurrection,  “many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves.” And as his resurrection was necessary to complete the work of redemption he came to perform, and did complete it; so by a parity of reason our resurrection is necessary to complete the work with reference to us; and will complete it.

Glorious hope!– a remedy as universal as the disease. Our bodies may be dead for centuries. The Erica heather of Scotland, or the cactus of South America, may bloom .over our graves; the chilly mists of the North may sheet our tombstones in eternal ice, or the encroachments of the Southern desert may bury them in sand ; marts of trade may be built over our resting-places, and the busy whirl of the world’s commerce may ring over our sleeping dust; the plough­boy may sing his merry song, and dance upon our long-lost graves; corals may incrust our bones in solid rock and rear up continents upon them;  or the wings of the tempest may fan our dust all around the world, yet the resurrection trump will find us, and we shall live again.

The inspired penmen so understood it. Acting and living under the influence of this doctrine, they lose all terror of death. Hear how they term it:  “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake.” “Stephen fell asleep.” “Them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” How ap­propriate! How expressive! for them who sleep shall awake. Death is not annihilation, but simply a change. It is sleep. To the energies of the laboring, sleep is rest and recupera­tion. Death is rest to the good man from all his toils, where he gathers new vigor for an eternity of action. Pa­geantries of golden dreams pass before the mind of the sleeper; the beauties of Heaven flash with more beaming splendor before the enraptured vision of the disembodied spirits. The overpowering joys of the better world will so soften the tread of cycles, and deaden the grating thunders of revolving ages, that the resurrection will take the sainted spirit with surprise.

The promised and kingly triumphs of our Lord Jesus Christ are proofs of this doctrine, “He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death; 0 death, I will be thy plague: 0 grave, I will be thy destruction.” Jesus announced Himself as the Saviour and King of the world. If He is our Saviour, he must save us from sin and its results. Death is the result of sin, and if He delivers us not from its’ power, the whole is a failure–He is not our Saviour, the One promised us by the prophets, and the One the necessities of the case demanded.

If he is our King, and His kingdom is to be supreme, universal, and absolute according to promise, He must rule over us, over his enemies, and over ours. Death is His enemy, and our enemy, and if He conquer not it, again the whole is a failure-He is not our King-our preaching is vain and your faith is vain.

Death and the grave are our foes. Death’s ghastly and shadowy form rises to Heaven and, throws its awful shadow upon all our hopes. The grave darkly gapes at our feet every step of life’s journey. But Christ our federal represen­tative is conqueror. He was taken down from the cross a bloody corpse, and borne off to the grave. Hell exulted. Death waved his black banner in triumph. The light of im­mortality leaped up in one exhilarating flash, then sank to a waning spark; sighs ran along amid the bones of the patri­archs, and a wail of woe rang in the sepulchers of the dead. Had He never left Death’s dreary domain, the grave would have devoured all the race, and retained them. in its horrid jaws forever. The scepter of Death would have been uni­versal, and He King without a rival. No ray of light would ever have broken into the arcana of the lonely tomb to tell of coming day. No welcome voice would ever have rung along its damp and dismal galleries, and pealed in joyful echoes amid its mouldy arches to break the eternal slumber of its sleepers.

The dying Christian might turn his eyes and look out of the window of his chamber upon the sunshine, the old familiar jar landscape skirting his home, and lift his withered arm and point his livid and chilled finger, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might gaze with hollow and dimming eye upon the faces of loved ones, fast receding from his vision, stand­ing around his bed, whose recollections are rapidly paling upon his memory, and say, “Farewell forever.” He might reach out his cold and trembling hand and grasp the hand of her who has traveled by his side from vigorous youth till both are old and gray,-not as the pledge of a coming union for one now breaking, but to feel its pressure for the last time, and to repeat in sepulchral whispers of saddest woe, “My wife, farewell forever.”

But Jesus met Death in Death’s own territory, and per­mitted Himself to be captured, that He might lead captivity captive. He went with the Pale Monarch to the silent darkness of the tomb, but it was to undermine its strong­holds, and kindle the star of resurrection in its murky vaults -to cement the past to the future and pledge Omnipotence for a reunion. He plucked the sting from Death, took his keys, broke his crown, chained the monster to his chariot wheels, and mounted aloft to Heaven a Conqueror. My hearers, the keys of the grave are in higher hands.

If there be no resurrection, Christianity is not adapted to all our wants. It fails to meet the aspirations and desires of our constitutional being, therefore has not all the elements necessary to make us happy. And if it is not grounded upon the wants of universal human nature, it is a failure. Can the best of you look upon your death as an eternal sleep? your grave as an eternal resting-place? can you bid without re­gret the bodies in which you have tabernacled so long an eternal farewell? Can you bid the bodies of your friends an eternal adieu, without the pangs of the keenest sorrow?

Tell the young wife, widowed by this terrible war, as she rushes with disheveled tresses amid the promiscuous ditches of the battlefield, crammed with mutilated dead, that her hus­band will never rise, and her heart is saddened for life. Tell the sister, as she gazes upon the shattered body and obliterated features of a brother beloved, that that form and face will never be restored to happy recognition again. Tell the mother, who baptized her boy with blessings and sent him to the bloody “front,” where he fell and was buried, uncoffined, in some unknown grave, with no block, stone, or vine to mark his resting-place, that he never will come to her arms again.

Tell the bereaved-fathers, mothers, widows, children-that there will be no resurrection, and a universal shriek will rend the air and crack the vault of heaven, till God hears and feels, and angels weep. Earth will put on weeds of mourn­ing, and like Rachel of old go down to the judgment weep­ing for her children.

“With what body do they come?” The same body which dies. I assume the bold Scriptural ground that every es­sential element of it will be raised though its particles be scattered over earth and sea. Hear the evidence of the mighty Paul, the chiefest of the Apostles: “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dis­honor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (I Cor. 15:42-44). The conclusion is clear: the same body which is sown in corruption, dishonor, and weakness will be raised in incorruption, glory, and power. The same body which is sown a natural body, will be raised a spiritual body. Not a similar body but the same body. Again: “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” “This corruptible” -as strong as words can make it. The Lord “shall change our vile body.” (Phil. 3: 21). “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shalt come forth.” On any other hypothesis there is no resurrection at all.

Is Christ’s body to be the model? The ineffablebrightness of His glory shone above the noonday sun and blinded Saul of Tarsus. Saint John saw Him in the midst of seven golden lamps, “clothed with a garment down to His foot,” girded with “a golden girdle,” His head environed with a radiating aureola, His eyes ablaze with Omniscience, His feet glowing like a furnace, His voice as the sound of many’ waters. The inimitable Prototype of celestial glory and regal magnificence, whose lightest shades defy the painter’s pencil, were the painter an angel. Like Him?  0 God! shall we ever attain to such perfection? me? you? Like Him  “Christ shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.”

Finally, “How are the dead raised up?”  Inquiring humanity asks the question, doubting philosophy asks it, in­fidelity asks it, Christianity asks it. Paul answers it: “Ac­cording to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” God’s power is pledged for its per­formance. That Power which made systems, and holds them in awful and perpetual balance. That Power which con­founded chaos with order, and laid the foundations of the universe deep down upon nothing, and reared up its columns, towering into empty space, wreathed them with constellations of worlds, and propped against the throne of God. That Power which carpeted creation’s temple with emerald, roofed it with azure, and lit it up with ten thousand suns. That Power Which drives planets along their orbits and hurls the erratic comet to kindle its fires upon the black altars of night where suns never shine. That Power which shakes the earth, shivers its granite, ruptures its strata, overturns its mountains, and up heaves its valleys. That Power which binds lightnings to its chariot and rides upon the tempest. -That Power is pledged to raise me from the dead. Can it do it?

Ah! angels could have philosophically descanted with more apparent reason upon the impossibility of creation before the fiat of God peopled immensity with worlds and intelligences, than you can philosophize against the resurrec­tion of the dead. Are there mysteries ? Are there difficul­ties? Paul refers them all to the power of God for an ample solution. You see as great wonders every day. Cast a seed in the ground; it enlarges: in a few days the germ sends up a stem and down a root:  the radicals imbibe the nutriment, and the stem enlarges and mounts upward as if by magic: soon its long conical blades droop in verdant curves to the earth, and the flower upon its top drops a dust upon the silken flower on its side, and a long ear of golden corn rewards the farmer’s toil-every grain of which pos­sesses the same reproductive power of the first. An acorn bursts, and a deep-rooted, gnarled, and knotted giant, who rears his trunk to ‘heaven, whose mossy limbs and crested foliage nod majestically among the clouds, is the result. Veg­etable life and existence are crowded with wonders.

The phenomena of animal life, its causes, productions, nature, maintenance, reproduction, are full of mysteries and difficulties solving and unfolding every hour. Earth, air, and water are replete with mysteries, and instinct with difficul­ties. Every moment is a seeming eternity of impossibil­ities; every atom a universe of overwhelming difficulties. For man, who is himself a microcosm of wonders, standing amid a world of wonders, profound and confounding, to present the difficulties involved in the resurrection of the body as an insuperable obstacle to its accomplishment, is at once preposterous. Though your bones may lie bleaching in the bottom of the sea, or fossilized be deeply imbedded in rock; though your dust may be scattered over continents, transmuted into animals or plants, diffused in the air, diffused in the water, or mingled with clay, God’s power is able to raise you from the dead, and is pledged to do it.  That Power sooner or later will be exercised. The last day will come. The sun unwheeled will drag along the jarring heavens and refuse to shine. The stars will hide their
faces, and the moon will roll up in the heavens red as blood, and hang her crimson livery upon the wing of the night. Earth will tremble upon her axis, and huge mountains of woe will drift and lodge upon her heart. A mighty angel with a face like the sun, clothed with clouds, and crowned with a rainbow, and shod with wings of fire, will cleave the heavens in his lightning track, and descending with his right foot upon the troubled sea, and his left foot upon the quaking earth, lift his hand to heaven, and swear by the Judge of the quick and the dead that time shall be no longer. Old Time, the father of centuries and the tomb-builder of gen­erations, will drop his broken scythe and break his glass, careen and fall a giant in ruins.

The trump of God will then sound. Its resonant thunders will roll through all the lengths and breadths of Death’s vast empire, and its old walls and arches crammed with buried millions will fall in crashing ruins. The dingy king will drop his scepter ringing in fragments upon the damp pavements of the grave, and fly howling from his tottering throne down, down to Erebus. The antiquated dead will start into life from their ashy urns and funeral pyres. Pyra­mids of granite and crypts of marble will he rent in twain to let the rising bodies come. Mummies will fling off the trappings of centuries, and pour from their vaulted cham­bers. Inquisitions will rock upon their foundations and revivified dead will stream from their dungeons. Abbeys, cathedrals, grottoes, and caverns will be vocal with life. Wanderers will shake off their winding sheets of sand, and rise from the face of the desert. Human bones will break away from their coral fastenings; mermaids draped in drip­ping weeds will mourn the evacuation of all their caves; old ocean will heave and swell with teeming millions.

The battlefields of the world: Troy and Thermopylae, Talavera and Marengo, Austerlitz and Waterloo, Marathon and MissoIonghi; the battlefields of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, will reproduce their armies, and crowd the world with revivified legions. Indian maidens will leap from the dust of our streets, and our houses overturning will let their chiefs to Judgment. Abraham will shake off the dust of Machpelah, and arise with Sarah by his side. David will come with harp in hand. The reformer of Geneva and the apostle of Methodism will come side by side.

Our village church yards and family burial grounds will be deserted. All will come: patriarchs, prophets, Jews and Gentiles, Christians and heathens, bond and free, rich and poor-fathers, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives-all from Adam down will come forth. And all the good all around the world all together will hail this redemp­tion’s grand consummation, with one proud anthem, whose choral thunders, rolling along all the paths of space, will shake the universe with its bursting chorus: “0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory”?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to my former association with Dr. John R. Rice and the paper he founded, The Sword of the Lord, for introducing me to the messages of Dr. William Elbert Munsey.  Munsey was a popular Methodist minister, born on July 13, 1833 and died October 3, 1877 (44 years).  He was converted to Christ at age 17 during a Methodist camp meeting.  He taught school and served a number of small churches before his well-prepared and powerful sermons were discovered by greater numbers.  His church services were packed and people crowded his meetings two hours before he would speak.   Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. asked Dr. Rice to publish a book of sermons by Dr. Munsey.  That book, Eternal Retribution!, was first published in 1951.  In his remarks, Dr. Jones reported that the sermons in this book were taken from a two-volume set (I believe the only books credited to Dr. Munsey) of remarkable sermons.  I searched the Internet for the books and found a used book store offering them in their original covers.  I purchased them;  amazingly at a very low cost.  It appears that everything Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice knew about Mr. Munsey was taken from those two volumes.  I am happy to own them and pleased to present the sermon you have read on this blog, The Resurrection of the Human Body.

http://salvationlinks.com/?page_id=207 This should be a link to a page featuring a marker placed in honor of Mr. Munsey.

The Lost Axe Head

Dr. Robert L. Sumner

Dr. Sumner

A Good Word for a

Maligned Man

by Evangelist Robert L. Sumner

134 Salisbury Circle, Lynchburg, VA 24562

“And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.

“Let us go, we pray thee, unto Jordan, and take thence every man a beam, and let us make us a place there, where we may dwell. And he answered, Go ye.

“And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.

“So he went with them. And when they came to Jordan, they cut down wood.

“But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed.

“And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he showed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim.

“Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it.”

– II Kings 6:1-7

We have either listened to or read many sermons on this text during the past six decades of our ministry for Christ. Somehow, in almost all of them, this young prophet has seemed to come out looking bad. Especially is he criticized for borrowing an axe and losing the head in the water. Perhaps he does deserve some criticism for this; then again, perhaps not!

The young man has our support and sympathy at the very outset because he had “forsaken all” to serve God. Jesus said, in Luke 14:26,27, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

This young man had! He meant business for God!

Like Sau1 of Tarsus, who followed him in service by nearly a thousand years, he had responded to the divine appeal by saying in essence, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:16), and like Isaiah, whom he preceded by less than 200 years, with an enthusiastic “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

The setting of this story is interesting. Although Paul’s command to Timothy was not given until some 950 years later, Elisha was following the philosophy “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2). Call what he had established the forerunner of a Bible institute, a Bible college, a seminary, or anything you please, but Elisha was in the business of training young men to do a job for God.

Bible schools, struggling to get started, have always experienced rough times. We think of the school we attended, as a new Christian, only starting its seventh year at the time we enrolled. It met in a borrowed building (a local church), had no dormitories, offered no cafeteria or meal service of any .kind, and supported a very meager faculty. Some other schools with which we have been associated over the years have been cut from the same cloth. Even Cedarville University, with over 3,000 students, was very small when we first went on the board of trustees.

Elisha’s school was no different, and it had special problems relating to room and board for its students. The problem regarding board is recorded in II Kings 4:38-41. Probably the most common complaint on Christian college campuses relates to meals served in the dining hall. Since it is impossible to mass produce food in the same tasty style as Mother’s home-cooked offerings, the students are never satisfied. Complaints abound that the food is too starchy, that there is not enough variety, often it is too meager a fare – and these are just starters. Yet none had the problem the students at Elisha’s school faced with “death in the pot” (Vs. 40). The entire student body developed an acute case of food poisoning. In fact, it took a miracle from the hand of the man of God to remedy the situation.

Now, the following year, the problem related to the room phase of “room and board.” The opening verse of II Kings 6 tells us the students came to Elisha with their complaint, “Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us.” The dorms were overcrowded, and the young men did not have sufficient space to study; perhaps there was not even enough room to sleep comfortably. Jammed in with three, four, five or more to a room, they come to the school president (this was before everyone wanted to be called “chancellor”) and pleaded for something to be done.

The maligned young man of our text was one of the petitioners and, because he has received so much criticism, we would like to call attention to several of his good characteristics. In the first place,

I. HE WAS “FAITHFUL”

He had responded to the appeal for help in the emergency. There was a very definite and a very real need to be met, and he was neither oblivious to the situation nor indifferent to the crisis. He was faithfully responding to his own personal responsibility to help with the solution.

A sense of responsibility is a noble characteristic. How unusual it is in our day to find someone to whom you can turn over a job and not have to worry about it, never giving it a second thought. There is a definite shortage of people like that, individuals who will face a task and stay with it until it is done. If someone were to ask us to sum up the characteristic of our age, we would be tempted to reply: “a loss of the sense of personal responsibility!” It is safe to say that this young man was doing the job he was supposed to do.

We read one time of a grocer who placed a sign above his fruit display: “Apples you can eat in the dark!” He was saying his fruit was of a trustworthy nature and one could eat it with absolute confidence, never fearing worms or other flaws. If it is important to have trust in apples, how much more in individuals! This young man was a trustworthy young man, one who could be counted upon to do the job he was assigned.

That is not always easy. Ever present is a temptation to do something else. Just as the grass seems to always look greener on the other side of the fence, other duties often look more appetizing, and appealing. The pastor thinks it would be great to be an evangelist, and the evangelist thinks it would be ideal if he could only be a pastor. It is hard to stay on the job, to plug away, to ignore all enticements to leave the task unfinished and substitute a more glamorous service.

Did you ever notice that the percentage of those who stay in school and graduate is far, far lower than the number who enrolled as freshmen? Up to 50 percent – and sometimes more – drop out along the way of a four-year tenure. The studies are too difficult, the finances are too limited, an opportunity comes along to make big money doing something else, or perhaps the love-bug has bitten and the student feels he cannot continue his studies because of the pull in his heart toward the marriage altar. The late Bob Jones called these drop-outs “rabbit-chasers,” those who got off the main trail of treeing the possum.

The young prophet of our text was not a rabbit-chaser and he was not going to let a major obstacle like a lost axe head stop him. I like that! His philosophy was of the kind Jesus described in Luke 9:62, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” He was not looking back.

One who is faithful in his ordinary tasks will be rewarded by God with greater responsibilities. We cannot help but wonder if this young man were not the prophet Elisha selected to anoint Jehu as king over Israel to succeed the wicked Jehoram (II Kings 9:1-10). Or perhaps he was the Jahaziel upon whom the Spirit of the Lord came to assure Jehoshaphat and Judah of victory over the children of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir in II Chronicles 20. That, you may recall, was the famous battle won by singing praise to Jehovah! Or he may have been the Jehu who faced Jehoshaphat with the stinging rebuke for his alliance with the wicked Ahab.

A German youth, Ulrich Henn, was confined to an American prisoner-of-war stockade in Italy. He spent his spare time carving items out of scrap ammunition boxes. A third of a century later he was selected to prepare four full-sized models from which the huge bronze doors of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. would be cast. Great feats evolve from faithfulness to small beginnings.

Another thing which commends this young prophet to us is,

II. HE WAS “RESPONSIBLE!”

He was concerned about the axe. We fear that many, standing along the water’s edge and watching the axe head disappear beneath the surface, might have exulted inwardly, “Thank God, that wasn’t my axe head!”

Not this young man! He was concerned even though it was not his, since it was in his care. No doubt he recalled what the Law said about such an incident. The Lord God Jehovah had told Moses to write in Exodus 22:14, “if a man borrow aught of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof being not with it, he shall surely make it good.”

It is interesting that the young prophet took full responsibility for the loss. He did not offer any alibi or excuse such as others might today. He didn’t say, “The axe was no good when I got it,” “The head was loose to begin with,” “I didn’t want to cut down a tree that close to the water, but my foreman ordered me to do it,” etc., etc. No, he accepted full responsibility.

This is not usual in our day. Employers, supervisors, foremen and others over workers will tell you how hard it is to get people to acknowledge responsibility. “I didn’t do it,” “It wasn’t me,” “I don’t know anything about it,” are the most common, most popular phrases in our places of business in 2006. Any intelligent boss will realize he has a jewel on his hands when a worker says frankly, “That was my mistake. I am to blame.”

Not only did the student accept full responsibility, he determined to do something about the loss. He immediately launched an effort to get the axe head restored, although the situation must have looked absolutely hopeless to him at the time. He had an attitude to make it right, no matter what it took. Looking back, we are compelled to salute him for his spirit.

Another commendable characteristic lies in the fact,

II. HE WAS “RESPONSIBLE!”

Reread the account in II Kings 6, and you will note that he followed Elisha’s instructions to the minutest detail. He did everything Elisha told him to do.

When Elisha inquired, “Where fell it?” the inspired writer says, (“he showed him the place” (Vs. 6).

When Elisha commanded, “Take it up to thee,” we are told that the young man instantly “put out his hand, and took it” (Vs.7).

In thinking about it, doesn’t it seem reasonable that he might have questioned Elisha’s instructions, observing, “This sounds pretty silly to me”? Yet if he had any doubt at all about what Elisha ordered, the record does not even hint it. He was completely obedient.

The young seminarian’s dedication is also seen in verse 3, immediately after Elisha had given permission to construct the new dormitory. It tells us, “And one said, Be content, I pray thee, and go with thy servants. And he answered, I will go.” Whether our hero is the one who actually made the request of Elisha is immaterial. All of them wanted Elisha to go with them!

Like these young prophets, we had better want our Master with us in our work for Him. Our insistence ought to be the same as that of Moses to Jehovah, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exodus 33:15). How foolish to go without God!

As the Savior told His disciples: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4, 5).

Nothing! That is what we can do without Him.

Conversely, there is nothing we cannot do with Him.

David Livingstone caught that truth and, in the heart of the dark continent of Africa, he wrote in his Journal the positive conviction: “If He be with me, I can do anything, anything, anything!”

The next nice thing we wish to observe about our young prophet is,

IV. HE WAS “INTELLIGENT!”

There is a wisdom that comes with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). One who has been born into the family of God has a secret source of intelligence not available to the unconverted. Paul told the Corinthian believers “we have the mind of Christ” (I Corinthians 2:16), and he explained to young Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:7}.

Part of the young man’s intelligence was seen in the fact that he stopped trying to cut the beam without the head on his axe. He did not flail away at the partly felled tree with the axe handle.

Do you suggest no one would be foolish? Then remember that, spiritually speaking, the axe head is a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit for service in a believer’s life. Yet many a child of God continues to try to do a job for God without the power of the Spirit of God upon him. In a manner of speaking, he continues to flail away with his axe handle, with the cutting edge of the axe head missing.

Another evidence of the young prophet’s intelligence is seen in the fact that he knew where to go for help in trouble. He did not turn to a fellow student or an immediate supervisor. No, no! He went immediately to Elisha and requested his help.

Note also that he was not of the “Oh, what will I do now?” crowd. He knew what to do, and he knew where to go.

Do you know where to go when you lose your cutting edge in service? Or do you think that attending a service seminar conducted by some popular speaker will unveil to you some new secret of success, some short-cut to triumph in your ministry?

While we do not object to conferences, seminars and “how-to-do-it” workshops, the proper answer to failure in service lies in a new enduement of Holy Spirit power in the life.

A final compliment we wish to pay this young man lies in the fact,

V. HE WAS “DEVOTED!”

There is no question about it; he was sold out to God! In the language of Galatians 2:20, he had been crucified, and the life he now lived was not his own.

The late Arno C. Gaebelein told of seeing a sign in a cleaning shop which said:

“I live to dye, I dye to live

The more I dye, the more I live

The more I live, the more I dye.”

While it is “die” and not “dye” with the child of God, the thought sums up an important truth in the Christian worker’s life and ministry.

The captain on whose ship James Calvert sailed to the Fiji Islands to begin a missionary ministry, knowing of the cannibalism practiced there, sought to dissuade him by saying, “You wil1 risk your life and the lives of those with you if you attempt a ministry among such savages.”

But Calvert simply responded, “We died before we came here.”

Ah, that is it! One who is going to be a success in the service of Jesus Christ will have to die before he begins his work.

The young prophet had that kind of philosophy, that type of attitude. One thing often overlooked by his critics is that he borrowed the axe to be able to help in the Lord’s work. How easy it would have been for him to have excused himself, saying, “I’d really like to help you fellows, but I don’t have an axe!” Can’t you just hear today’s crowd jumping at the chance to use such an ideal excuse?

Not this fellow! He wanted to be right in the thick of the service of the Lord, doing his part to further the work and program of his God.

His devotion is also seen in the fact that he was obviously a man of faith. He expected Elisha could and would do something. There does not seem to have been the slightest question in his mind but what he would have immediate help from Elisha.

In this sense he was like the centurion who sent the appeal to Jesus at Capernaum regarding his beloved servant, about to die with a terminal illness. Through friends he confessed he was not worthy for Jesus to enter his house – in fact, his sense of unworthiness was the reason he did not approach Jesus personally – but his declaration of faith was tremendous. He acknowledged it was not even necessary for Jesus to be present in order for the servant to be healed, suggesting that He merely “say in a word,” and it would take place. Then he said, “For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it” (Luke 7:8).

Our young prophet approached Elisha in exactly the same spirit. And this is the spirit in which all of us should approach our Master when things go wrong in our service for Him. He is the One who can help, and He is the One who is willing!

Conclusion

The question with which we wish to sum up this study will have more meaning, perhaps, if you are one of those who have criticized the young man of our text in days gone by, but it should carry weight even if you have not. The question is this: Are you as sold out to God and His work as this young man was? Now that you have seen him in a new light, such a question should carry a stronger impact.

Total commitment! This is what the young prophet had, and it is what you and I need as well. The late Robert G. Lee told of Napoleon’s march on Moscow when the Russians set fire to their own city to keep “the little general” and his troops from capturing it. Finding it necessary to go back to France, he instructed his trusted general, Marshall Ney, to command a rear guard. It was the duty of Ney and his men to keep the Russians from Napoleon’s main army until he could get those men safely back to Paris.

His men were totally dedicated to Ney, and they courageously battled the Russians, holding them back as they too retreated. While the Russians were undoubtedly conditioned to the cold nights of that country, they were especially hard on Ney and his men.

So dedicated were his troops to him, that one morning following an unusually cold night, the general awakened to discover he had been covered with two overcoats. When he left his tent, he found, at the door, two soldiers standing stiff and erect, frozen dead .They were the ones who had donated their overcoats to keep their leader warm.

Lee said, “And when they made improvised bridges, some of the men plunged into the icy cold waters and held up the parapets while the rear guard went over. As Marshall Ney went over, he pinned the cross of the Legion of Honor of France on the breasts of the dead men as they stood frozen in the icy water.”

Months later in Paris, a worn, bent and aged officer walked into Napoleon’s headquarters. Some of the officers looked up from their card game, and one jumped to his feet shouting, “It’s Marshall Ney!”

The others immediately rose and saluted, questioning, “Where is the rear guard?”

Ney squared his shoulders, Lee said, and firmly announced, “Sirs, I am the rear guard.”

He alone was left! All the others had given their lives in protecting Napoleon and the main part of the army, allowing them to get safely back to France. Yet the men in Ney’s rear guard did not consider themselves heroic. No, they were simply doing their duty and manifesting allegiance to their earthly leader.

Should we offer any less to our heavenly Leader? We ought to be as sold out to the Lord Jesus Christ as the rear guard was to Napoleon and the young prophet was to Elisha. In fact, our commitment should be even greater!

Perhaps we should ask one other question in the light of our text: Have you lost YOUR axe head”? Are you trying to serve God with the cutting edge of your ministry missing?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

This message taken from the Christian paper, The Biblical Evangelist. www.biblicalevangelist.org Used by permission.

T DeWitt Talmage

The A and Z

T. Dewitt Talmage

Talmage
Talmage

Christ is the A and the Z of the Christian ministry. A sermon that has no Christ is a dead failure. The minister who devotes his pulpit to anything but Christ is an imposter. Whatever great themes we may discuss, Christ must be the beginning and Christ the end. From His hand we get our commission at first, and to that same hand we at last surrender it. Though the colleges may give you a diploma, and Presbytery lay their hands on your head, if Christ send you not forth, you go on a fool’s errand; and though the schools reject you as incompetent, if the, Lord God tells you to preach, you have a right to go, and there is at least one pulpit in the land where your right to proclaim the Gospel is acknowledged. A sermon devoted to metaphysics is a stack of dry corn-stalks after the corn has been ripped out with the husking-peg. A sermon given up to sentimental and flowery speech is as a nosegay flung to a drowning sailor. A sermon devoted to moral essay is a basket of chips to help on the great burning. What the world wants now is to be told in the most flatfooted way of Jesus Christ, who comes to save men from eternal damnation. Christ the Light, Christ the Sacrifice, Christ the Rock, Christ the Star, Christ the Balm, Christ the Guide. If a minister should live one thousand years, and preach ten sermons each day, those subjects would not be exhausted. Do you find men tempted? Tell them of Christ the Shield. Or troubled? Tell them of Christ the Comfort. Or guilty? Tell them of Christ the Pardon. Or dying? Tell them of Christ the Life. Scores of ministers, yielding to the demands of the age for elegant rhetoric, and soft speech, and flattering terms, have surrendered their pulpits to the devil, “horse, foot, and dragoon.” May Christ be the burden of our talk; Christ the inspiration of our prayers; Christ the theme of our songs; Christ now, and Christ forever. In that stern hour when we feel that we shall never preach again, and we have ascended for the last time the pulpit, all but Christ will be nothing. Philosophy nothing; denominations nothing; conferences nothing; assemblies nothing; ourselves nothing, but CHRIST EVERYTHING!

Some facts about Dr. T DeWitt Talmage

Reverend Dr. Thomas De Witt Talmage (7 January 183212 April 1902) was an American Presbyterian preacher, clergyman and divine. One of the most prominent religious leaders in the United States during the mid-to late 19th century, equaled as a pulpit orator perhaps only by Henry Ward Beecher, he was also a well-known reformer in New York City and was often involved in crusades against vice and crime during the 1860s and 70s.

During the last years of his life, Dr. Talmage ceased preaching and devoted himself to editing, writing, and lecturing. At different periods he was editor of the Christian at Work (1873–76), New York; the Advance (1877–79), Chicago; Frank Leslie’s Sunday Magazine (1879–89), New York; and the Christian Herald (1890-1902), New York. For years his sermons were published regularly in more than 3,000 journals, reaching, it is said, 25,000,000 readers.

–From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Sermon of Great Importance by this much read man of God.

Mending the Bible
By T. DeWitt Talmage

“. . . “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city . . .” Rev. 22:19

You see it is a very risky business, this changing of the Holy Scriptures. A pulpit in New York has recently set forth the idea that the Scriptures ought to be expurgated (strained, distilled, purified), that portions of them are unfit to be read, and the inspiration of much of the Bible has been denied. Among other striking statements are these: 1. The book of Genesis is a tradition of creation, a successive layer of traditions thought out centuries before. 2. Moses’ mistakes about creation were the mistakes of his age. 3. That there are many systems of theology in the New Testament. 4. That Paul had all the notions of the rabbinical schools of his time. 5. That Job winds up his epilogue in genuine fairy-tale style. 6. That Revelation is a long array of misshapen progeny in the apocalyptic writings, tracing themselves back to Daniel. 7. That Revelation comes To a madman, or leaves him mad. 8. That what he calls the abominable lewdness of some things in the Old Testament is not fit to be read. 9. That it is an abominable misuse of the Bible to suppose the prophecies really foretell future events. 10. That the book of Daniel is not in the right place. 11. That Solomon’s Songs are not in the right place, and he seems to applaud the idea of someone who said that the book of Solomon’s Songs ought not to be in anyone’s hands under thirty years of age. 14. He intimates that he does not believe that Samson slew a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass. 15. That the whole Bible has been improperly chopped up into chapters and verses. He does not believe the beginning of the Bible, and he does not believe the close of it, nor anything between as fully inspired of God, and he thinks the Book ought to be expurgated, and there are those who re-echo the same sentiment.

THE HYPOCRISY OF MINISTERS ATTACKING THE BIBLE!

Now, I believe in the largest liberty of discussion, and there are halls and opera houses and academies of music where the Bible and Christianity may be assaulted without interruption; but when a minister of the Gospel surrenders the faith of any denomination, his first plain, honest duty is to get out of it. What would you think of the clerk in a dry-goods store or a factory or a baking-house, who should go to criticizing the books of the firm and denouncing the behavior of the firm, still taking the salary of that firm and the support of that firm, and doing all his denunciation of the books of the firm under its cover? Certainly, a minister of the Gospel ought to be as honest with his denomination as a dry-goods clerk is honest with his employers. The heinousness of finding fault with the Bible at this time by a Christian minister is most evident. In our day the Bible is assailed by scurrility, by misrepresentation, by infidel scientist, by all the vice of earth and all the venom of perdition, and at this particular time ministers of religion fall into line of criticism of the Word of God. Why, it makes me think of a ship in a September equinox, the waves dashing to the top of the smokestack, and the hatches fastened down and many prophesying the foundering of the steamer, and at that time some of the crew with axes and saws go down into the hold of the ship and try to saw off some of the planks and pry out some of the timbers because the timber did not come from the right forest! It does not seem commendable business for the crew to be helping the winds and storms outside with their axes and saws inside. Now this old Gospel ship, (what with the roaring of earth and Hell around the stem and stern, and mutiny on deck,) is having a very rough voyage, but I have noticed that not one of the timbers has started, and the Captain says He will see it through. And I have noticed that keelson and counter-timber knee are built out of Lebanon cedar, and she is going to weather the gale, but no credit to those who make mutiny on deck. When I see ministers of religion in this particular day finding fault with the Scriptures, it makes me think of a fortress terrifically bombarded, and the men on the ramparts, instead of swabbing out and loading the guns and helping fetch up the ammunition from the magazine, are trying with crowbars to pry out from the wall certain blocks of stone, because they did not come form the right quarry. Oh, men of the ramparts, better fight back and fight down the common enemy, instead of trying to make breaches in the wall.

THE GOD OF THE BIBLE COULD DO ANYTHING: A GOD OF MIRACLES

While I oppose this expurgation of the Scriptures, I shall give you my reasons for such opposition. “What!” say some of the theological evolutionists, whose brains have been addled by too long brooding over them by Darwin and Spencer, “you don’t now really believe all the story of the Garden of Eden, do you?” Yes, as much as I believe all the roses that were in my garden last summer. “But,” say they, “you don’t really believe that the sun and moon stood still?” Yes, and if I had strength enough tom create a sun and moon, I could make them stand still, or cause the refraction of the sun’s rays so it would appear to stand still. “But,” they say, “you don’t really believe that the whale swallowed Jonah?” Yes, and if I were stong enough to make a whale, I could have made very easy ingress for the refractory tenant. “But,” say they, ” you don’t really believe that the water was turned into wine?” Yes, just as easily as water now is often turned into wine with a mixture of strychnine and logwood! “But,” say they, “you don’t really believe that Samson slew a thousand with the jawbone of an ass?” Yes, as I think that the man who in this day assults the Bible is wielding the same weapon! There is nothing in the Bible that staggers me. There are many things I do not understand, I do not pretend to understand, never shall in this world understand. But that would be a very poor God who could be fully understood y the human. That would be a very small Infinite that can be measured by the finite. You must not expect to weigh the thunderbolts of Omnipotence in an apothecary’s balances. Starting with the idea that God can do anything., and that He was present at the beginning, and that He is present now, there is nothing in the Holy Scriptures to arouse skepticism in my heart. Here I stand, a fossil of the ages, dug up from the tertiary formation, fallen off the shelf of an antiquarian, a man in the latter part of the glorious nineteenth century, believing in a whole Bible from lid to lid.

THE BIBLE MIRACULOUSLY PRESERVED

I am opposed to the expurgation of the Scriptures in the first place because the Bible in its present shape has been so miraculously preserved. Fifteen hundred years after Herodotus wrote his history, there was only one manuscript copy of it. Twelve hundred years after Plato wrote his book, there was only one manuscript copy of it. God was so carful to have us have the Bible in just the right shape, that we have fifty manuscript copies of the New Testament a thousand years old, and many of them fifteen hundred years old. This Book, handed down from the time of Chirist, or just after the time of Christ, by the hand of such men as Origen in the second century, and Tertullian in the third century – men of different ages who died for their principles. The three best copies of the New Testament in manuscript in the possession of three great churches – the Protestant Church of England, the Greek Church of St. Pertesburg, and the Romish Church of Italy. It is a plain matter of history that Tischendorf went to a convent in the peninsula of Sinai, and was by ropes lifted over the wall into the convent, that being the only mode of admission and that he saw there in the wastebasket for kindling for the fires a manuscript of the holy Scriptures. That night he copied many of the passages of that Bible, but it was not until fifteen years had passed of earnest entreaty and prayer and coaxing and purchase on his part that that copy of the Holy Scriptures was put into the hands of the Emperor of Russia – that one copy so marvelously protected. Do you not know that the catalog of the books of the Old and New Testaments, as we have it, is the same catalog that has been coming on down through the ages? Thirty-nine books of the Old Teatament thousands of years ago. Thirty-nine now. Twenty-seven books of the New Testament, sixteen hundred years ago. Twenty-seven now. Marcion, for wickedness, was turned out of the Church in the second century, and in his assult on the Bible and Christianity, he incidentally gives a catalog of the Books of the Bible – that catalog corresponds exactly with ours – testimony given by the enemy of the Bible and the enemy of Christianity. The catalog now, just like the catalog then. Assulted and spit on and torn to pieces and burned, yet adhering. The Book today, in three hundred languages, confronting four-fifths of the human race in their own tongue,. Three hundred million copiies of it in existence. Does not that look as if this Book had been divinely protected, as if God had guarded it all through t he centuries? Not only have all the attempts to detract from the Book failed, but all the attempts to add to it. Many attempts were made to add the apocryphal books to the Old Testament. The Council of Trent, the Synod of Jerusalem, the bishops of Hippo all decided that the apocryphal books must be added to the Old Testament. “They must stay in,” said those learned men, but they stayed out. There is not an intelligent Christian man that today will put the book of Maccabees or the book of Judith beside the book of Isaiah or Romans. Then a great many said, “We must have books added to the New Testament,” and there were epistles and gospels and apocalypses written and added to the New Testament, but they have all fallen out. You cannot add anything. You cannot subtract anything. Divinely protected book in the present shape. Let no man dare to lay his hands on it with the intention of detracting from the Book or casting out any of these holy pages.

ALL THE BEST CHRISTIANS WANT THE BIBLE SACREDLY KEPT:
INFIDELS WANT IT CHANGED

I am also opposed to this proposed expurgation of the Scriptures for the fact that in proportion as people become self-sacrificing and good and holy and consecrated, they like the Book as it is. I have yet to find a man or a woman distinguished for self-sacrifice, for consecration to God, for holiness of life, who wants the Bible changed. Many of us have inherited family Bibles. Those Bibles were in use twenty, forty, fifty, perhaps a hundred years in the generations. This afternoon when you go home, take down those family Bibles and find out if there are any chapters which have been erased by lead pencil or pen, and if in any margin you can find the words, “This chapter not fit to read.” There has been plenty of opportunity during the last half century privately to expurgate the Bible. Do you know any case of such expurgation? Did not your grandfather give it to your father, and did not your father give it to you? Expurgate the Bible! You might as well go to the old picture galleries in Dresden and in Venice and in Rome and expurgate the old paintings. Perhaps you could find a foot of Michel Angelo’s “Last Judgement” that might be improved. Perhaps you could throw more expression into Raphael’s “Madonna.” Perhaps you could put more pathos into Rubens’ “Descent from the Cross.” Perhaps you could change the crests of the waves in Turner’s “Slave Ship.” Perhaps you might go into the old galleries of sculptures and change the forms and postures of the statues of Phidias and Praxiteles. Such an iconclast would very soon find himself in the penitentiary. But it is worse vandalism when a man purposes to refashion these masterpieces of inspiration and to remodel the moral giants of this gallery of God.

Now let us divide off. Let those people who do not believe the Bible and who are critical of this and that part of it, go clear over to the other side. Let them stand behind the Devil’s guns. There can be no compromise between infidelity and Christianity. Give us the out-and-out opposition of infidelity rather that the work of these hybrid theologians, these mongrel ecclesiatics, these half-and-half evoluted pulpiteers who believe the Bible and don’t believe it, who accept the miracles and do not accept them, who believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures and do not believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures – trimming their belief on one side to suit the skepticism of the world, trimming their belief on the other side to suit the pride of their own heart and feeling that in order to demonstrate their courage they must make the Bible a target, and shoot at God.

There is one thing that encourages me very much and that is that the Lord made out to manage the universe before they were born, and will probably be able to make out to manage the universe a little while after they are dead. While I demand that the antagonists of the Bible and the critics of the Bible go clear over where they belong, on the Devil’s side, I ask all the friends of this good Book to come out openly and aboveboard in behalf of it. That Book, which was the best inheritance you ever received from your ancestry, and which will be the best legacy you will leave to your children when you bid them goodby as you cross the ferry to the Golden City.

B