Him Ye Will Receive
By Glenn Conjurske
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another
come in his own name, him ye will receive. (John 5:43).
This text sets forth a fact, and that fact illustrates a principle. The
fact is that those who rejected the Christ will receive the antichrist.
This of course applies to the Jews, but it cannot be limited to the Jews.
It is also a fact that those who do reject the Christ will receive the
antichrist. This is true certainly of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles.
The principle which is involved in this is simply stated. All who reject
those whom they ought to receive, will in the end receive those whom they
ought not to receive. Those who refuse to trust the man who is worthy
of their trust, will trust the man who is not worthy of it. Those who
reject the man who would do them good, will receive the man who will do
There are two things which work together to secure the operation of this
principle. The first is the righteous government of God. God is not mocked.
When men reject the servants of God, God will secure that they receive
those who serve their own lusts. It was no innocent mistake for the Jews
to reject Christ, and it is never an innocent mistake for men to reject
any servant of God. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear
you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony
against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom
and Gomorrah in the day of judgement than for that city. (Mark 6:11).
Such judgements are not pronounced upon innocent mistakes. It is no innocent
mistake for men to reject anything which comes from God. It is rather
the working of evil passions and lusts, and the righteous government of
God will secure that they reap the fruits of their ways. For this
cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a
lie, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had
pleasure in unrighteousness. (II Thes. 2:11-12). It is no innocent
mistake to believe not the truth. It is the fruit of a choice
to have pleasure in unrighteousness.
As the verse immediately preceding indicates, this strong delusion comes
upon those who received not the love of the truth, that they might
be saved. When men reject the truth, it is no problem of the mind
innocent misunderstanding ----but a problem of the heart, a manifestation
of their departure from the love of the truth. The truth is plain enough,
and easily enough discovered, by those who love it. Those who love the
truth can feel after it and find it. Those who love it not cannot retain
it when they have it. And even as they did not like to retain God
in their knowledge, God gave them up to an unsound mind. (Rom. 1:28,
Greek). All of this is the judicial working of the righteous government
of God. God gave them up to an unsound mind. God shall
send them strong delusion. Those who reject the truth have no more
right to it, and God gives them up to believe a lie. Those who reject
the Christ have no more right to him, and God gives them up to the antichrist.
Those who reject the true prophets of God have no more right to them,
and God gives them up to follow false prophets. And all such dealings
of God are but the resounding echo of the word which he has spoken, BE
NOT DECEIVED: GOD IS NOT MOCKED. (Gal. 6:7).
Yet sinners have so high an opinion of themselves, and so low an opinion
of God, that they suppose that they may mock him with impunity. Those
who deliberately reject Christ now, assure themselves that they will not
receive the antichrist then. They are too shrewd to be thus taken in.
They know better. Though they daily dare both the justice and the mercy
of God, they yet suppose themselves immune to his promised judgement.
Their own intellect will carry them through those Satanic deceptions which
will deceive the whole world
----which would deceive the very elect
if it were possible. Well ----supposing your own intellect is a
match for all the cunning craftiness of the devil, are you a match for
God also? Where will your great intellect be when God sends you strong
delusion that you should believe a lie? If you had but a little of that
wisdom with which you suppose yourself endowed, you would repent now,
while the door of mercy yet stands open. Little do you realize that the
very same passions which move you to reject Christ now, will move you
to receive the antichrist then. Now you love sin instead of righteousness,
and so will you then. Now you choose the broad way of self-indulgence,
and reject the narrow way of self-denial, and so you will then. What reason
do you have to suppose your heart will be any different then than it is
now? And when to the working of your own lusts is added a strong delusion
from God, where will you be?
But this brings us to the second reason why those who reject the true
receive the false. The rejection of a true servant of God is not an intellectual
mistake, but is the fruit of wrong passions, and those same passions which
lead a man to reject the true will lead him directly to receive the false.
When men reject a true servant of God, it is not love of the truth which
leads them to that rejection, but just the reverse. Let the same passion
continue on its way, and it will lead them to embrace a false prophet.
When men turn away from their spiritual fathers and guides, though they
may profess many good and righteous reasons for it (for no servant of
Christ is perfect, in either doctrine or practice), the real reasons at
the root of the business are self-importance, wounded pride, ill will,
resentment, bitterness, envy, and such like things. But none of those
things are consistent with a conscience altogether clear. Those who act
upon such passions (while professing to act for truth and righteousness)
will naturally feel somewhat uneasy with the position which they have
taken. They will thus very naturally gravitate to anything or anybody
which will ease their conscience, or bolster their confidence in their
own position. Thus the same passions which moved them to reject a servant
of God will move them to receive that man's enemies
be the enemies of God besides. When they have withdrawn their confidence
from him whom they ought to trust, they will very naturally trust his
detractors, for to do so bolsters their confidence in their own opposition
to the man of God.
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.
(Prov. 14:14). When the backslider departs from the truth of God, from
the ways of God, from the ministry of the man of God, it is God who secures
that he shall smart for it
----yet his own ways work together with
God to secure his undoing. When he departs from the good, his own ways
work his hurt, and the righteous government of God secures that he shall
be filled with them.
So Paul must say to those who despised and slighted him (though they owed
their souls to him), For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing yourselves
are wise. For ye suffer
----ye allow it, that is ----if
a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you,
if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. (II Cor.
11:19-20). It may seem passing strange that they would slight and contemn
the self-sacrificing Paul, who wept and travailed for their souls, and
yet trust and support those who devoured and smote them. But it was not
reason which moved them, but passion, and the fact is, the very same passions
which would move them to slight Paul would inevitably move them to give
their confidence to anyone else who slighted Paul. The men who give place
to lust or pride or resentment or envy or ambition have no idea to what
lengths those passions will lead them. They never suspect, when they reject
a true prophet of God, that before their course is finished they will
countenance a false prophet, and yet the very passions which are at work
in their souls when they turn away from the true will lead them to embrace
I recognize that there are many degrees of sin and guilt in such matters,
and that a partial turning from the things of God is not necessarily equivalent
to a total turning. Allowance must also be made here, as everywhere, for
honest ignorance. God knows exactly what degree of wrong there is in the
course of every man, and he it is who will recompense. It remains true
that men cannot slight the true without embracing the false. In whatsoever
degree they turn from the true, to that degree they turn to the false.
Those who distrust the harmless will trust the harmful. Those who slight
the good will countenance the evil. Those who condemn the innocent will
defend the guilty. The only escape from this downward course will be found
----that is, in judging and repudiating the workings
of those passions which have turned us from the good and the true.
The principle which I seek to elucidate is of universal application, and
there is something very solemn in it. The time will come,
writes Paul, when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after
their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching
ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be
turned to fables. (II Tim. 4:3-4). This slighting of the truth is
no intellectual mistake, but rather the working of evil passions. It is
not that men cannot understand sound doctrine, but that they will not
endure it. After their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers
deal out hundreds and thousands of their hard-earned dollars to liberal
preachers and psychologists and college professors, actually paying such
men to teach them lies. It is not that they fail to attain the truth,
but that they turn away from it. Led by lusts of worldly ambition
or sensual pleasures, they turn away their ears from the truth ----and
what then? They are turned unto fables. They reject the light
of revelation, and even the light of scientific fact, and turn to the
fable of evolution, which they accept as a fact, though the facts of science
are directly against it. Some may call it a theory, and the more honest
among them may even admit that it is an unproved theory, but
even this is juggling terms. The fact is, it is a disproved theory. Why
then do so many intelligent men hold it? Because the same passions which
moved them to turn away from the truth have led them to embrace fables.
But there is something yet more serious in this principle. The fact is,
all who reject the testimony of God receive the testimony of the devil.
All who turn away from God turn to the devil. There is no neutral ground,
and the very same passions which turn them away from God turn them to
the devil. This is very plain in the case of Eve. When Eve lost her confidence
in God, it was replaced by confidence in the devil. There was no middle
ground. It was either Ye shall surely die, or Ye shall
not surely die, and one or the other of them must be true. One or
the other of them must be believed. It is outside the realm of possibility
to reject both the testimony of God and the testimony of the devil. When
Eve fell, she fell by faith
----but it was faith in the devil. All
unbelief is actually faith in the devil, and in this consists the heinous
wickedness of it. Eve withdrew her confidence from the God whom she had
every reason to trust, and reposed that confidence in the fiend, who sought
only her destruction. So does the whole world today.
Nor was Eve's fall a mere mistake. She was not led by a mistake of the
reason, but by wrong passions. If reason had been consulted, she must
have peremptorily rejected the devil's insinuations and temptations. She
had every reason to trust God, who had endued her with life and breath,
and lavished upon her all the delights of paradise. She had no reason
at all to trust the devil, who was unknown and untried. Nay, she had every
reason to distrust the devil, from the very fact that he was making evil
insinuations against the God whom she had overwhelming reason to trust.
But she was not led by reason. She was led by lust for what her Creator
and Benefactor had forbidden. She was led by pride and unholy ambition.
The devil first inspired her with those wrong passions, and then used
them to lead her on to a choice which was wicked. He directed her gaze
to the one thing which God had forbidden, and praised its virtues to the
skies. It was good for food. It was pleasant to the eyes. It was to be
desired to make her wise. It would in fact make her like God. And as the
forbidden fruit filled her vision and took possession of her heart, her
confidence in God was undermined. He was withholding from her the very
thing which was essential to her happiness. And as her confidence in God
was destroyed, it was replaced by confidence in the devil. This is the
true pedigree of unbelief. These are the true colors of the backslider.
His whole course is a direct challenge to all that God is. His every step
is a proclamation that sin is better than holiness, which is in effect
a proclamation that the devil is better than God.
And so it is with every sinner on earth. There is really no middle ground.
Those who do not trust God do in fact trust the devil. The essence of
unbelief in God is in fact faith in the devil. It is not a mistake of
the intellect, but a matter of allegiance. There are only two ways, with
no neutral ground between them. There is the narrow way of self-denial
which leads to life, and the broad way of self-indulgence which leads
to destruction. The former is the way of the Lord, and the latter the
way of the fiend. He who turns from the narrow way of necessity turns
to the broad way. He who distrusts the word of the Lord of necessity trusts
the word of the devil. All who reject God receive the devil.
Not that they are hopelessly shut up to this. There is a way out, but
only one way. That way is repentance. ...if peradventure God will
give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they
may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive
by him at his will. (II Tim. 2:25-26). Those who have rejected the
Lord and his truth suppose themselves free and independent, but this is
the opposite of the truth. They are led captive by the devil. Yet they
are not so hopelessly bound that there is no remedy. The door of repentance
is open. But what is repentance? Repentance is the renunciation of sin.
Those who hold repentance to be a mere change of mind greatly err. The
mind is not the culprit, but the heart. It is not the mind which needs
to be changed. And a change of mind is precisely what men are incapable
of, so long as they indulge the passions of sin. To return to the text
whence we started, the Jews' rejection of Christ was no mistake of the
mind, but the fruit of sinful passions. I am come in my Father's
name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him
ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another,
and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:43-44).
There was pride and ambition, self-seeking and man-pleasing, at the root
of their rejection of Christ, and it was not possible for them to receive
him while those passions were indulged. How can ye believe, which
receive honour one of another?
----or, as it may be better
translated, How can ye believe, while ye receive honour one of another?
There is no receiving of God without repentance from those things which
have turned us from him.
To conclude, when men reject the word of God, the Christ of God, a doctrine
of God, or a man of God, it is sin which is at the bottom of this. That
same sin which turned them from the true turns them to the false. That
same sin, so long as it is indulged, will keep them from ever returning
to the true. It will indeed confirm them more and more in the false. The
only remedy for such a state of things is repentance. But there will come
a time when there is no remedy at all, for the longsuffering of God is
not inexhaustible, and the just judgement of God will at length overtake
all who turn from the good and the true. If that judgement comes in the
form of strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they
all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness
hopeless will be the condition of such sinners! Then will they feel the
awful import of Be not deceived: God is not mocked.
Baptism in the English Bible
by Glenn Conjurske
There are always a few Baptists around who contend that baptize
ought not to appear in the English Bible at all, that it is a wrong translation
of the Greek v , or rather, not a translation at all, and that the word
ought to be rendered immerse. In this we judge them to be
unwise, and perhaps insincere. If they are determined that baptize
and baptism should not appear in the Bible, why do they use
the words continually themselves, to speak of the same thing to which
the word baptize refers in the Bible? They call themselves
Baptists, not Immersionists. Look in any phone book in the country, and
you will find the First Baptist Church, the Tabernacle Baptist Church,
or the Landmark Baptist Temple, but you will find no First Immersionist
Church, nor any Landmark Immersionist Temple. Why would they wish to thrust
a word into the Bible which they will not use themselves outside of the
Bible? Likewise they tell us that they baptized so many souls in a year,
or on a particular Sunday, and I never heard of them reporting this as
so many souls immersed. They baptize them in a baptistry, and I never
heard of an immersionary. They tell us often that their church has received
so many members by baptism, and I never heard of a church
receiving members by immersion. They still write their books and articles
on baptism, and on baptism by immersion. And I, by the way,
believe without question in baptism by immersion, but I insist that all
who use such a phrase as baptism by immersion do thereby grant
that baptism and immersion are not strictly the same thing. There are
many immersions which are not baptism at all. My wife immerses the dishes
when she rinses them, but by no stretch of language or imagination does
she baptize them. We might call this baptism if we were speaking Greek,
but no way in English. If I speak of reading by moonlight,
I thereby prove that reading and moonlight are two different things. So
if I speak of election by ballot. The latter is the means
of the former. And so exactly in baptism by immersion.
The case, then, is plain. If such folks wish us to believe them quite
sincere in their contentions that baptize is no proper translation
of v , and that it ought to be replaced by immerse, let us
first see them so replace it. Let us hear no more of the Baptist
bride. Let them tell us of the Immersionist bride. No more of Baptist
churches. Let us hear of Immersionist churches. No more of baptisms. Let
them talk of immersions. The fact is, none of them who contend that baptize
ought to be replaced by immerse in the Bible have ever made
an honest attempt to so replace it in their own common or theological
But there is more. If they were to make such an attempt, it would prove
a complete and dismal failure. It is not possible to thrust baptism
out of the English language, and replace it by immersion.
It is not possible for these folks to thrust the word baptize
out of their own hearts and minds. The word will live in their own hearts,
their own minds, their own conversation, and their own writings, though
they try never so hard to replace it. They may succeed in partially replacing
it, when their speech is guarded and deliberate, but they will never succeed
entirely, any more than the Plymouth Brethren have succeeded in replacing
the church with the assembly. Still they will
speak of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, and the Primitive Baptists. Still
they will baptize their converts. Still the bigoted among them will quibble
about alien baptisms. Still they will speak of John the Baptist,
not John the Immersionist. Let them try to call him John the Immersionist,
and they will find that the name will not stick
----no more than
it would if they called him John the Dipper, or John the Dunker, or John
the Plunger. Whatever v may mean, John the Baptist will be John the Baptist
till the end of time.
But supposing it were possible to replace baptism with immersion,
were it desirable? The answer to that question is, Absolutely not. At
this time of the day, baptism is an ancient landmark, and
it would be something worse than folly to remove it. Some folks may suppose
that it had been better to translate v immerse from the beginning,
so that baptize would never have become an old landmark, which
looms up everywhere in the writings of the church for twenty centuries,
and which stands always in its place in the thoughts and the speech of
the whole English church of God everywhere, but it is vain to wish we
had locked the gate after the horse is out, or to cry over spilled milk.
What is done is done, and cannot be recalled. Baptism will
remain the old landmark. Baptism will remain the word which
has all of the heart associations of the people of God, and immersion
will remain a cold and alien term, without any of those heart associations.
But while some may wish that we had never come to such a pass, and that
v had been translated immerse from the beginning, we doubt
the wisdom even of that. It is quite true that v means immerse,
but that is not all it means. Liddell and Scott (whose lexicon of classical
Greek has been the standard for over a century) inform us that the word
is used in various senses, from being drenched or soaked, to being sunk,
as of a ship. The latter is immersion with a witness, but surely not the
pattern for baptism. The word also has various figurative usages, such
as being overcome with sleep, or overwhelmed with questions, or soaked
with wine. Moreover, the word is never once used in the New Testament
in the mere sense of immerse, or submerge. Some Baptists insist upon the
connection of v with v , and further insist that the latter means to dip.
To this we need only reply that, though related, v and v are two different
words, and they certainly do not mean the same thing. Neither does v always
mean to immerse, but what it does mean is foreign to the question.
But a fact of deeper significance yet remains. There are many words which
have received in the New Testament a theological sense which they never
did have or could have had in secular Greek. v is certainly one of those
words. It means immerse, to be sure, but it means much more.
My wife immerses the dishes when she washes and rinses them, but she is
not so sacrilegious as to dream of baptizing them. To baptize does not
mean merely to immerse, as the word meant in secular Greek. It means to
immerse in the name of the Lord. It is the baptism of repentance for the
remission of sins. It means death to sin, and rising again to walk in
newness of life. The word immerse does not mean any of this.
When John the Baptist, or Christ, or his apostles came preaching repent
and be baptized, or if you please, repent and be immersed,
no one understood by this to take a bath or go for a swim. They understood
(and quite rightly), Submit yourselves to a divine ordinance, at
the hands of a servant of God, as a solemn declaration of your repentance
from sin, and a solemn engagement with God to walk in newness of life.
Baptize means all of this, but immerse means none
Already in the Septuagint, some hundreds of years before the advent of
John the Baptist, v was used of ritual washing
to have been at that time, says Cremer's Biblico-Theological Lexicon,
the technical term for these washings. (And these washings,
it should be observed, were not necessarily by immersion.) In the Apocryphal
book of Ecclesiasticus we read (as translated in the King James Version),
He that washeth himself after the touching of a dead body, if he
touch it again, what availeth his washing? (Ecclus. 34:25). Though
it is certainly true that immerse is the root meaning of v
, and though I fully believe that baptism is by immersion, it is simply
incorrect to insist that immerse is the only true rendering
of the word, for besides various derived and figurative meanings, v has
a theological meaning which is certainly not identical to its literal
meaning in classical Greek. Cremer's Lexicon is completely justified in
saying, The peculiar N. T. and Christian use of the word to denote
immersion, submersion for a religious purpose = to baptize. It denotes
to immerse for a religious purpose, and for a recognized and
well understood religious purpose, all of which is exactly expressed by
baptize, but is not expressed at all by immerse.
And since this theological sense of v in the Greek New Testament is plain
and undeniable, why should that theological sense be ignored or denied
in translating the word into another language, and the word made to mean
nothing more than it means in secular Greek? This is not wisdom. We have
an English word which has exactly the same theological sense in English
as v has in Greek. There is only one such word in the English language.
That word is baptize.
Some Baptists have slighted the word baptize on the ground
that it is not a translation at all, but a transliteration. They overlook
the fact that a word may be both. The English angel is also
a transliteration of the Greek [ , but I never heard of anyone objecting
to it on that account. It is a translation every bit as much as it is
a transliteration. The English blasphemy is a transliteration
of the Greek v , but I never heard of anyone wishing to cast it out of
the Bible on that account. Christ is a transliteration of
the Greek v , and prophet of the Greek v . Must we part with
With still less of reason, some Baptists slight the word baptize
on the ground that it came from the Roman Catholic Latin Vulgate.
This is darkening counsel by words without knowledge. It is quite clear
that the Latin Vulgate commonly renders the Greek v by the Latin baptizo,
but it is not so clear that the Vulgate is Roman Catholic.
And if that could be proved, it would yet prove nothing. This is a species
of argumentation which is absolutely unworthy of those whose object is
the truth. By the very same argument they must repudiate the word angel
also, which comes to us from angelus in the Roman Catholic Latin
Vulgate. They must likewise cast engel out of the German, Dutch,
Swedish, and Danish Bibles, ange out of the French, angel out of the Spanish,
and angelo out of the Italian. By the same argument they must cast blasphemy
out of the English Bible, since it comes to us through the Vulgate's blasphemia.
Christ must go also, and prophet too, the Vulgate's
Christus and propheta being responsible for those. There is no sense or
reason in such argumentation, and we must add, it is difficult to find
any sincerity or honesty in it, unless those who use it are very ignorant
if so, why do they undertake to teach others? By the same sort of argument
almost every rendering in the English Bible, of almost every word in the
Greek New Testament, could be discredited, or rendered suspect. The plain
fact is, the renderings of the English version and the renderings of the
Latin Vulgate are almost always equivalent to each other, as is a matter
of simple necessity with any two versions which are both faithfully translated
from the same original.
But how do these men prove that the Latin Vulgate is a Roman Catholic
translation? Is it Roman Catholic because the Roman Catholic Church uses
it? Then by the same argument the King James Version is a Baptist translation,
and therefore (note well) baptize is the true Baptist rendering.
But this argument will also prove that the King James Version is a Presbyterian
translation, a Quaker Translation, a Seventh-Day Adventist translation.
The argument is absolutely worthless.
But they will contend that the Latin Vulgate is a Roman Catholic translation
because the Roman Catholic Church made it. This will be harder to prove.
The Vulgate was the work of a single individual. The version was made
by Jerome about the end of the fourth century, and was certainly not received
or used by the whole church after it was made. True, Jerome made it at
the request of a pope, but that pope did not authoritatively
adopt or impose the version, for the popes of that day were not the same
creatures as those of later days. They had no absolute authority in the
church, nor was the Roman Church then the same thing that she afterwards
But even if it were a matter beyond dispute that the Catholic Church made
the Latin Vulgate, it would yet prove nothing, for it was not the Latin
Vulgate which introduced baptizo as the rendering of the Greek v , but
the Old Latin version, which was made in the second century, long before
anything resembling the Roman Catholic Church existed. Jerome's Vulgate
was not a new version, but a revision of the Old Latin. The responsibility
----along with the responsibility for baptismum and
iohannes baptista ----does not lie with the Vulgate at all, but
entirely with the venerable Old Latin version. Be it right or be it wrong,
therefore, there is nothing Roman Catholic about it.
But we do not believe it wrong. The Latin baptizo certainly meant baptize
by immersion when it first came into use, for no other kind of baptism
had yet been dreamed of then. And the English baptize, properly
understood, means the same. If the English Bible had always employed immerse
instead of baptize, then immerse would have acquired
the theological sense which now belongs to baptize, precisely
as the Greek v acquired that theological sense in the usage of the New
Testament. But we cannot rewrite the history of the last six hundred years,
however we might wish it had been written differently. Baptize
is the English word which possesses the theological sense which is exactly
equivalent to the Greek v , and baptize is extremely unlikely
ever to yield its place to any other word
----not even among those
Baptists who contend that it ought to.
But I must pursue this line of thought a bit further. I do not contend
that the Greek v gained its theological sense merely by virtue of its
usage in the written New Testament. The rudiments of that sense were visible
already in the Septuagint. The word had no doubt been in use by the apostles
and the early church in their preaching long before any of the New Testament
was written. It was no doubt in that preaching that the word acquired
its theological sense, so that when the apostles wrote v , they did not
mean merely immerse, as of a woman rinsing a dish, or a farmer
scalding a butchered hog, but BAPTIZE, in its proper theological
sense. What they meant when they wrote in Greek, we ought to retain when
we translate into English, and it is baptize, not immerse,
which expresses that meaning. Of course in using the word v , the apostles
meant baptism by immersion
----for there is no other kind of baptism ----but
they meant baptize, and not merely immerse.
Baptism is an ancient landmark, and a good one. I call upon
the church of God to stand by it
----not belligerently, but intelligently.
Chats from my Library
By Glenn Conjurske
Reprints of Early Printed English Bibles
Most of us will never see a copy of any of the early English Bibles or
Testaments for sale, nor could we afford to buy them if we did. With one
exception, I have never seen a copy of any of the early English Bibles
for sale, not even the Geneva or the King James Version. The one exception
is the Rheims New Testament. I saw a copy of that in a Boston book store,
for $2000. I left it where I found it. There are few libraries in this
country which contain more than one or two of the early English Bibles,
and those are in rare book collections, where we may have limited use
of them. But a number of those Bibles and Testaments have been reprinted
in more recent times. Even those are mostly very hard to find, but it
may help the seeker of them to know what to look for.
What was evidently the first printed edition of Tyndale's first New Testament
exists only in a single fragment, containing the prologue and the book
of Matthew to the 22nd chapter. This was published in facsimile in 1871,
edited by Edward Arber, with a very good introduction, which is printed,
however, in microscopic type.
Tyndale's whole New Testament (second printing of the first edition) exists
also in only one complete copy (lacking only the title page). This may
in fact be the first complete N. T. printed in English, for the fragment
mentioned above may never have been more than a fragment, as Tyndale's
first attempt to print was interrupted by the papal authorities. The first
reprint of this which I possess was edited by J. P. Dabney, and published
in Andover and New York in 1837, entitled The New Testament of our Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, by William Tyndale, the Martyr. This is printed
from a London edition published by Samuel Bagster, which I have not seen.
Bagster's edition obviously corrected the misprints of the original, and
so of course does Dabney's. Dabney undertook to give in his footnotes
the essential variations of the later English versions, but this part
of the work is very incomplete. In 1872 a facsimile of this New Testament
was published by Francis Fry, titled The First New Testament Printed in
the English Language...Translated from the Greek by William Tyndale. The
same was reprinted photographically in 1976, but I do not have it, have
never seen it, and cannot give the title. Fry also published Tyndale's
The Prophete Jonas in facsimile, in 1862. The gospels only of Tyndale's
1526 N. T. are printed in The Gothic and Anglo-Saxon Gospels in Parallel
Columns with the Versions of Wycliffe and Tyndale, edited by Joseph Bosworth
(second edition, 1874). In Tyndale's version, flagrant misprints are corrected,
such as wehdder for whedder, and bryggrome
for brydgrome, but the edition exhibits (with the original)
such things as affer for after, and vyll
for wyll. But the spelling is so capricious in Tyndale's first
----it is spelled eight different ways
in the book of Matthew ----that it is not easy to tell what is a
misprint and what is intentional. There were, of course, no misprints
to correct in the other three versions, as they were never printed, but
circulated only in manuscript. The letter ê is retained in the Gothic
and Anglo-Saxon, but replaced with th in Wycliffe. Modern
punctuation is substituted for Tyndale's.
Tyndale's Pentateuch was published by Bagster in 1884, edited by J. I.
Mombert, entitled William Tyndale's five Books of Moses, being a verbatim
reprint of the edition of M.CCCCC.XXX., [etc., etc.]. This is a good edition,
but it is also a good illustration of the fact that such editions are
seldom quite the same as the original. Mombert's edition, for example,
gives no indication of the mixing of fonts so common in the original.
Deut. 3:5-6 is exhibited precisely thus in the original: All these
cities were made stronge with hye walles,gates and barres, besyde vnwalled
townes a great maynye.And we vtterly destroyed them,as we played with
Sihon kynge off Hesbon:bringingto nought al the cities with men,wemen
and childern. And Deut. 20:10-11, When thou comest nye vnto
a citie to fight agenst it,offre them peace.And yf they answere the agayne
peasably, and open vnto the, etc. These are small matters, but I
believe that one of the editors of Tyndale's first New Testament (Dabney,
pg. v) speaks well when he says, even these blemishes are precious.
They are precious memorials of the hardships under which Tyndale labored,
in exile and in hiding in a foreign land, and evidently printing with
a font of type designed for the Latin, so that w and y must always be
substituted from another font, and k and v usually so. Mombert's edition,
so far as I have checked it, also silently corrects the misprints of the
original. This could have been done in the margin, which is cluttered
with less necessary matter, such as definitions of archaic words. This
edition was been reprinted in 1967.
The English Hexapla, Exhibiting the Six Important English Translations
of the New Testament Scriptures, is excellent in design, though failing
somewhat in the execution. This was published by Samuel Bagster, I believe
in 1841. I have a second printing, without date, and with the introductory
matter abbreviated. The Hexapla contains, in parallel columns, the later
Wycliffe version, Tyndale (1534), Great Bible (1539), Geneva N. T. (1557),
Rheims N. T. (1582), and the King James Version, after the 1611 printing.
It exhibits across the top of the pages Scholz's Greek text. But to call
these six the six important English New Testaments is hardly accurate.
Wycliffe might have been dispensed with, as it has no organic connection
with the others. There is nothing here of either Coverdale or the Bishops'
Bible, though Coverdale's was an important revision, and the Bishops'
was the basis of the King James Version. The fact is, it is not possible
to exhibit the history of the text without printing at least eight versions.
It would have been better to have used the 1540 revision of the Great
Bible, and by all means the 1560 revision of the Geneva. Thus the book
fails to give a complete view of the history of the text, but is nevertheless
a good tool to take in an abridgement of that history at a glance. When
I read the New Testament from any of the old versions, I sometimes keep
the Hexapla open before me for quick comparisons of the versions. The
work omits the marginal notes of the originals, except those of the King
James Version, and it does not contain all of those. I have not done any
extensive checks upon the accuracy of the texts printed. Scrivener says
that the text of the King James Version is not to be implicitly
relied upon, and states that sometimes it follows the first 1611
printing, and sometimes the second, and once apparently neither. I have
observed a number of places where the Hexapla departs from the text of
the originals, mainly in correcting what are perceived to be misprints
practice which I believe is a mistake in a work of this sort. One very
interesting mistake I will point out. In I Cor. 1:12 the Hexapla prints
Tyndale thus: one sayeth: I holde of Paul: another I holde of Apollo:
the thyrde I holde of Cephas: the four that I holde of Christ. It
should seem obvious enough that four that should be fourth,
and so it is in Tyndale's GH, and 1535 New Testaments. But for some reason
fourthe was printed as four ye in the 1534 edition, ye being
the common printer's ligature for the. Likewise, at Phil.
2:21, the 1534 edition has For all other seek ye ir awne ----ye
ir standing for their, and being divided at the end of a line
just as I have printed it. The Hexapla rightly interprets this as their.
The deficiencies of Bagster's Hexapla may be very slightly compensated
for by The New Testament Octapla, edited by Luther Weigle, and published
by Thomas Nelson in 1962. This contains eight versions, each occupying
a quarter of a page, so that a two-page spread exhibits all eight. These
are Tyndale (1535), Great Bible (1540), Geneva (1562), Bishops' (1602),
Rheims (1582) King James (1873), ASV (1901) and the Revised Standard Version.
Ligatures and contractions are spelled out. The marginal renderings of
the early versions are dispensed with. Weigle also edited The Genesis
Octapla, which contains the same eight versions.
Tyndale's 1534 N. T. was published in 1938 by Cambridge University Press,
edited by N. Hardy Wallis, entitled The New Testament Translated by William
Tyndale, etc. This has Tyndale's marginal notes, and variations from the
1526 edition in footnotes. Misprints are printed as in the original, and
corrected in an appendix. It follows the Hexapla's mistake in I Cor. 1:12,
and improperly corrects it to four(th) that in the appendix.
(I note here that the recent Yale editions of Tyndale are in modernized
Bagster also published the complete Bible of Myles Coverdale, entitled
The HOLY SCRIPTURES of the Olde and Newe Testamente; with the Apocrypha:
Faithfully Translated from the Hebrue and Greke, by Myles Coverdale. I
have the Second Modern Edition, dated 1847, for which I paid
$350 at Kregel's some years ago. The Hebrue and Greke on the
title page are the publisher's imagination. Coverdale's original title
page says Douche and Latyn, and this is the truth of the matter.
(Douche is Dutch, that is, German.) As usual,
Bagster takes small liberties with the text, and in just such a way as
to put us off our guard. The ligature ye they print so, but yi they print
The Geneva Bible has been printed twice in recent times, and the New Testament
a third time. The University of Wisconsin published the entire Geneva
Bible, including the Apocrypha, in 1969. This is a photographic reproduction
of the original 1560 edition. In 1989 The Pilgrim Press of New York published
the Geneva New Testament, a photographic reprint of a 1607 printing. This
is not the 1560 original, but Tomson's New Testament. It has an excellent
binding and cover, though some copies were produced in paperback. In 1990
The Geneva Publishing Co. of Buena Park, California, published a 1599
edition of the Geneva Bible. They speak in their introduction as though
this publication were the last sputtering gasp of the Protestant Reformation,
and of course omit the Apocrypha. They did not cover their tracks very
well, though, for the apocryphal books are all listed in the table of
contents, which they photographically reproduce along with the rest of
the book. The New Testament in this is Tomson's.
The Bishops' Bible has never been reprinted in modern times, so far as
I know. The Romanist versions have been reprinted in excellent photo-graphic
editions, (The Scolar Press, 1975), the N. T. titled, The New Testament
of Jesus Christ, 1582, and the O. T. in two large volumes, titled, The
Holie Bible Faithfully Translated into English...1609, and The Second
Tome of the Holie Bible Faithfully Translated into English...1610.
The supposed original of the King James Version has been reprinted a number
of times. It was printed in 1833 by Oxford University. I have never seen
that edition. Cambridge University Press printed it in five volumes in
1909, titled, The Authorized Version of the English Bible, 1611, edited
by William Aldis Wright. This follows the original page for page, so that
each open two-page spread contains the text of one page in the original.
Pages vii-xxiii of the first volume contain a list of all the variations
between the two 1611 printings. In 1911 the Oxford University Press printed
two editions of the 1611 printing, one in facsimile, and one in Roman
type. The latter I have never seen, but Mr. Doug Kutilek, of Wichita,
Kansas, has kindly sent me a copy of the title page, which reads, The
Holy Bible. An Exact Reprint in Roman Type, Page for Page of the Authorized
Version Published in the Year 1611, with an Introduction by Alfred W.
Pollard. The facsimile edition is entitled The Holy Bible. A Facsimile
in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611,
with an Introduction by A. W. Pollard, and Illustrative Documents. This
volume leaves nothing to be desired. In 1990 the original text was reprinted
by Thomas Nelson, in Roman type, and really an excellent edition, being
line for line with the original throughout. Mr. Kutilek tells me this
is a reprint of the Oxford Roman-type edition of 1911, which I have not
seen. It contains the valuable translators' preface, and other introductory
matter, but not the exquisite genealogical chart which occupies 34 pages
of the original. It is certain that all of these reprints exhibit the
same 1611 edition. Whether it is the first edition is another question.
F. H. A. Scrivener regards it as the second. Francis Fry regards it as
the first. When two such men differ, (who probably knew more of the facts
of the matter than any other two men before or since), the rest of us
had better know what we are talking about before we venture an opinion.
Ï Stray Notes on the English Bible
by the Editor
The above words appear often in the English Bible, in both the Old and
New Testaments. God forbid is not a literal translation, for
the fact is, the name of God does not appear at all in the original expression,
either in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, or the Greek of the New. The
Old Testament expression is hl*yl!j*, which Gesenius defines as literally
to profane things, an idiom probably equivalent to away
with it in English. The New Testament expression is V v , which
is literally be it not. The New Testament V v is used in the
LXX to translate the Old Testament hl*yl!j*, and they are both strong
expressions of reprobation. The expressions are equivalent in sense, but
there is some difference in the usual usage of them. The New Testament
uses the term alone and absolutely, except in Gal. 6:14. The Old Testament
always uses it in construction in a larger sentence. This fact gives place
to more variety of rendering in the Old Testament (as will appear below,
for example, in the Latin Vulgate), and it also in several instances forbids
the rendering God forbid. Thus when Abraham pleads with God
for Sodom, he could hardly say to God, God forbid that thou shouldest
destroy the righteous with the wicked, and there it is rendered,
That be far from thee. David, too, in addressing God (in II
Sam. 23:17), says, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this.
Tyndale has Peter saying God forbyd lorde (that is, God
forbid, Lord) in Acts 10:14 and 11:8, but this was wisely rejected
by the later English versions. Likewise when God himself is the speaker,
as in I Sam. 2:30, it would hardly do to put the words God forbid
into his mouth. He says therefore, Be it far from me. Again
in Job 34:10, Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness,
where God forbid that God should do wickedness would obviously
be out of place. Finally, where the expression is repeated twice in a
row, in II Sam 20:20, our translators very wisely refrain from using God
forbid, but say, Far be it, far be it from me (and this
discretion they exercise against all of the earlier English Bibles, except
Coverdale's). Once only (in I Sam 20:9) when there were no such compelling
reasons as the above did the King James Bible reject God forbid
for Far be it, but I think God forbid would have
been much better there.
But knowing that the name of God does not appear in the original expression
in either the Old Testament or the New, I became curious to know why it
is rendered God forbid in English. I suspected the influence
of ancient versions, but found that the name of God is not used in them.
The LXX renders as already stated. The Latin Vulgate has absit, far
be it. The Syriac Peshitto (of which I have only James Murdock's
English translation) has far be it. The Gothic has ni sijai,
be it not.
I turned to the modern European versions
----first of all to Luther's
German, knowing that it sometimes influenced Tyndale ----but found
that none of them used the name of God in the expression. Thus:
Luther's German: Das sey ferne, that be far
Diodati's Italian: Cosi non sia, be it not so.
Valera's Spanish: En ninguna manera, in no way.
Dutch: Dat zij verre, that be far.
Swedish: Bort det, away with that.
But turning to the English Bible, I found that God forbid
was the rendering of every English version, from William Tyndale to the
Revised Version. God forbid, in other words, is the rendering
of all of Tyndale's revisions, of Coverdale's Bible and both of his Latin-English
New Testaments, of Matthew, of Taverner, of the Great Bible, of the Geneva
New Testament and the Geneva Bible, of the Bishops' Bible, of the Rheims
New Testament, of the King James Version, and of the Revised Version.
This is not surprising, for it is often the case, when Tyndale has marked
out the way with some striking or expressive rendering, that he is followed
without variation by all of his successors.
Turning to the Wycliffe Bible, and expecting that to be literal, in the
New Testament I found always fer be it (once be it ferr)
in the earlier version, but this is uniformly altered to God forbede
in the later version, with the sole exception of Gal. 6:14, where it has
fer be it fro me. Turning to the Old Testament, I found a
great variety of renderings, due to a variety of renderings in the Vulgate.
Thus in I Sam. 14:45, that is felony, early version, and this
is vnleueful (unlawful, that is), later version, hoc
nefas est in the Vulgate. And in I Sam. 26:11, merciful be to me
the Lord and the Lord be merciful to me, propitius mihi
sit Dominus in the Vulgate. I found the name of God used only twice, but
that in the early rather than the later version. In Josh. 22:29 the early
version has God shilde fro vs this hidows gilt, altered in
the later version to, Fer be this trespas fro vs. And in I
Sam. 12:23 God sheelde the synne fro me, altered in the later
version to this synne be fer fro me. Shilde and
sheelde are our shield, in the sense of to ward
off or keep away.
Surviving from the medieval period there are two other partial versions
of New Testament in English
----translated from the Vulgate, but
independent of Wycliffe's version, and each existing in a single manuscript.
(These were edited and published by Anna C. Paues and Margaret Joyce Powell,
in 1904 and 1906.) Consulting these, I was surprised to find that they
also use the name of God to translate this expression, the former having
God forbede, and the latter, God schelde (or schilde
or scylde or schylde) ----that is, God
shield, as in the Old Testament of the earlier Wycliffe version.
Going back still further, to the Anglo-Saxon, we meet with the same sort
of thing. So far as I am aware, the Anglo-Saxon is extant in only two
texts which use the expression. In one of them the name of God is not
used, but in the other it is. In Luke 20:16 the Anglo-Saxon has çæt
ne gewurêe, or be that not. In Gen. 44:17, however,
it has Nelle Godd êæt ic swa do, that is, God
nill that I should so do. (Nill is the opposite of will,
formed after the common method of contraction in old times, replacing
the initial consonant of the word with the n of the negative.
Thus nadde = had not, nys = is
not, nyst = wist not, etc. Similarly, naught
and never, which we still use.)
Thus we come to the strange fact that while the name of God has not been
used to translate this expression in most other languages, in English
it has been used almost universally, from the time there was any Bible
at all in English, down to modern times, even where the various English
versions were entirely independent of each other. I can say nothing for
other languages, but the reason that these expressions found their way
into the English Bible is doubtless because when the English Bible was
made those expressions were already part and parcel of the English language.
The makers of the English Bible found them ready to hand, and answering
admirably to their end, and so employed them in the Bible, as they were
already accustomed to employ them elsewhere. Thus Richard Rolle in the
çare es na tonge in erth may tell of lufe êe swetnesse;
çat stedfastly in lufe kan dwell, his ioy es endlesse.
God schylde êat he sulde til hell êat lufes & langand
Or euer his enmys sulde hym qwell, or make his luf be lesse!
In modernized English:
There is no tongue in earth may tell of love the sweetness;
Who steadfastly in love can dwell, his joy is endless.
God shield that he should [go] to hell that loves, and longing is,
Or ever his enemies should him kill, or make his love be less!
And two centuries later William Tyndale's estranged amanuensis writes
in his apology to Tyndale, And I doute not but there be/ & shal
come aftir vs/ that canne & shall correcke our workes aád traáslations
in many places & make the3 miche more perfayt & better for the
reader to vnderstande/ and shulde we therfore brawll & wryte agenst
the3 as T. dothe agenst me? god forbyde. It was natural, and to
be expected, that men who employed God forbid in their own
speech should use it also in the Bible, when it so well answered to the
spirit of the original.
In addition to all of the Bibles mentioned above, I have also four Jewish
translations of the Old Testament into English, and of these, three use
the rendering God forbid. The fourth has Far be it.
But this brings us to another question: since God forbid is
not a literal translation, is it a proper one? On this Wordsworth says,
V v is...something much more than a direct negation, such as `no
verily.' It is a vehement expression of indignant aversion, reprobating
and abominating such a notion as that by which it is evoked. And therefore
the English God forbid! properly understood, is a fit rendering of it.
Fit I believe it is, for though we should feel it to be a
profanation of the name of God to use this expression in common conversation
(as the somewhat less offensive Heaven forbid is sometimes
used), yet it is perfectly fitting in the Bible, or in weighty Christian
writing or speaking. Thus there is nothing at all offensive or irreverent
in such a statement as this from Richard Baxter: Some think the
truth will not thrive among us, till every man have leave to speak both
in Presse and Pulpit that please: God forbid that we should ever see that
day! A word is in order, however, on Wordsworth's expression, properly
understood. Properly understood, the phrase God forbid
does not express God's aversion to the matter in hand, but the speaker's,
or the writer's. The expression is optative, and means May God forbid.
I, of course, am in favor of literal translation whenever practicable.
Is there no literal rendering of this phrase, which would express its
meaning and spirit in English? Probably not. Since the Revised Version,
several have exercised their wits over it, with but little success. Thus
(having checked only a few places):
Darby: Far be the thought.
RSV: By no means!
NASV: May it never be!
NIV: Not at all!
----Certainly not! ----By
NKJV: Certainly not!
But it was not love of accuracy, but love of change which dictated these
new readings, for the first thing to be observed concerning them is that,
with one exception, they are no more literal than God forbid.
The one exception is May it never be, which is nearly literal,
though not quite, for there is no never in the Greek. (May
it not be, or be it not, is literal.) Yet May
it never be is the weakest and most artificial of all of them
the renderings of the New American Standard Version quite commonly are.
It is worth remarking also that the makers of all of these modern versions
evidently felt the weakness of their renderings, and sought to strengthen
their weak expressions by the use of exclamation points ----a shift
which weak and inferior writers rarely fail to discover. The attempt,
however, is a failure. The exclamation points rather weaken than strengthen
the expressions. They, indeed, call our attention to their real weakness.
The old expression God forbid is forceful enough without any
such artificial support, and it does not appear very likely that it will
be improved upon.
by Glenn Conjurske
In the present age of intellectual enlightenment
to mention cold skepticism ----dreams are likely to be rather despised
than regarded. And far be it from me to attach any mystical interpretations,
or find any supernatural omens, in the ordinary wanderings of our minds
during sleep. Nevertheless, scattered here and there throughout the history
of the church we find such dreams as compel us to see in them either the
hand of God, or the Spirit of God. Many have been awakened or convicted
of sin, and arrested in their downward course, by means of dreams. Others
have been warned of dangers, or led in the way they should go, by the
In the present article I aim to relate a number of instances of such dreams.
But first I wish to direct the reader to the following remarks on the
subject by C. H. Mackintosh. They were occasioned by the revival in Ireland,
and written in 1859, as part of a series of papers on The Awakening
in Ulster. I only remark first that while Mackintosh treats of dreams,
visions, and prophecies all together, my purpose in quoting him relates
solely to the dreams. I abridge his remarks, but it would not be possible
(and hardly upright) to delete the references to visions and prophecies.
We feel it, in some measure, due to our readers to notice a special
feature of this movement [the revival] which has come more prominently
out within the last few weeks. We allude to the matter of dreams, visions,
and prophecies, many of which are most striking and solemnizing. . . .
And first, then, we would ask, why should it be thought a thing
incredible that God should speak to His creatures `in a dream, in a vision
of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the
bed?' (Job xxxiii.15.) He has done so in all ages. Patriarchs, prophets,
and apostles have been so addressed; Abraham was thus addressed, in Genesis
xv., Abimelech was thus admonished, in Genesis xx. We have Jacob's dream,
in Genesis xxviii., Laban's dream, in Genesis xxxi., Joseph's dreams,
in Genesis xxxviii. The dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker, in Genesis
xl. And Pharaoh's own dreams in Genesis xli. We have Nebuchadnezzar's
dream in Daniel ii. We have Daniel's dreams and visions, in Daniel vii.
Paul saw a vision, in Acts xvi. Various other instances might be adduced,
but the above will suffice for our present purpose. God has thought proper,
in all ages, to address His people and direct His servants by dreams and
However, it will most probably be objected, that the cases which
we have above brought forward, were all prior to the completion of the
canon of Holy Scripture. True; but do they not prove that God did, in
those times, make use of dreams and visions as means of communication
with His people? Undoubtedly. Well, it devolves upon the objector to prove
that He cannot and does not do the same, at the present day. We believe
He can and does. We believe that many have been awakened to a sense of
their danger, and brought to think seriously of their souls and eternity,
by means of a dream. To rest in, or build upon, a dream, would be, obviously,
quite a different thing. . . .
We most fully admit the need and importance of judging all dreams,
visions, and prophecies by the truth of God, and rejecting everything
contrary thereto. This is the plain duty of every child of God. We are
responsible to `try' the visions as well as `the spirits;' but to deny
the fact that God can communicate with His creatures in the way of a dream
or a vision, must be pronounced a most unwarrantable assumption. Who can
limit the Almighty? Who can prescribe His mode of acting? Can He not arrest
a man, by a vision of the night, now, as well as in the days of Nebuchadnezzar?
Can He not cause a person to see a vision now, as well as in the days
of the Apostle Paul? Who can doubt it, save one who makes his own limited
understanding the measure of what the Almighty can or ought to do, and
rejects everything which lies beyond the narrow range of his own reason.
This is infidelity, than which nothing can be more contemptible and absurd,
though it seems so uncommonly clever and far-seeing. . . .
If God is pleased to speak to us in dreams and visions, He can do
so. If He is pleased to endow us with a knowledge of what shall be on
the morrow, He can do so. If He is pleased to strike a man down and evoke
from the depths of his agonized and convicted heart the piercing cry of
anguish and terror, He can do so. He can cause a man to see with his mental
eye the gulf of fire
----the eternal pit of hell yawning to receive
him. He can cause him to see the great white throne, prepared, in awful
majesty, to try his case. He can cause him to see the roll, containing
the black catalogue of all his crimes, unfolded to the gaze of his alarmed
And again, But let it not be supposed that we would by any means,
undertake to endorse, as genuine, all the physical manifestations, or
all the dreams, visions, and prophecies of the past few months. Far from
it. We are quite prepared to admit a vast amount of infirmity, affectation,
imitation, and even gross imposition and dishonesty. Nor is this all;
we feel assured that just in proportion as the Holy Ghost manifests His
power, will Satan manifest his in opposition. This has ever been the case.
A strong belief in the Person and actings of the Holy Ghost, will always
be attended by an equally strong belief in the person and actings of Satan.
But, allowing the widest possible margin for human failure and Satanic
power, we are fully persuaded that the Lord may, and does see fit, at
times, to allow visions of the eternal world to break in upon the soul,
in order to rouse men to a sense of the reality of things which appear
on the page of inspiration, and which have been read and heard for years,
without impression or practical result. . . . We can only rest in the
revealed truth of God
----`the holy scriptures;' but He may and
does make use of dreams and visions to arouse the slumbering conscience,
alarm the sceptic mind; and, at times too, to confirm a wavering heart.
One thing is certain, we are sure to err when we venture to lay
down an iron rule, or frame a rigid system; the Holy Ghost will never
be confined by such. He is sovereign in His doings. Let us remember this.
His operations lie beyond the range of the most enlarged and vigorous
understanding. He can cause people to dream dreams, see visions, and utter
prophecies. Who will question this? Who will attempt to prescribe a limit
to the power of the Holy Ghost, or to the mode of His operations? Who
will undertake to say that there is not, at the present moment, an urgent
need for the peculiarly solemn and arresting manner in which He is pleased
to manifest His power? Have we not all had to complain of coldness, barrenness,
and deadness? Has there not been a deplorable amount of scepticism and
practical infidelity, even amongst professing Christians? And should we
not hail, with unmingled thankfulness, any thing and every thing calculated,
in any measure, to meet such a condition of things? For our own part,
we can only say, with hearts full to overflowing, the Lord be praised
for every exhibition of His right hand and holy arm
display of the lighting down of his power ----for every utterance
of His solemn voice, in the ear of this iron age of unbelief and formal
These, observe, are not the remarks of a modern charismatic, but those
of an ancient and sober divine of the most conservative school of the
straitest sect of Christendom
----the Plymouth Brethren. Mackintosh
was not credulous, but such things as he had seen and heard compelled
belief. The modern skepticism concerning everything of this nature is
largely an overreaction against Pentecostalism. And though Mackintosh
writes of a time of great revival, when there was a profusion of such
things, yet those things are not limited to times of revival. I offer
to the reader a number of examples which I have gathered up over the years.
I myself was convicted of sin by a dream, at the age of seventeen.
I grew up in a typical evangelical Baptist church, where I heard the typical
unsound gospel of these modern days, containing never a word on the subject
of repentance. I had of course accepted Christ as my personal Savior,
but I was living a wicked life, and so (of course) always doubted my salvation.
But in a dream of the night I offered some money to a servant of Christ,
who refused to accept it from me, because of my wickedness. Though I had
sometimes before felt a fear of judgement, it was by means of this dream
that I for the first time felt ashamed of my sin
----and that is
conviction. I immediately awoke, and lying on my back, looking up to heaven,
I said, Lord, if I never was saved before, I want you to save me
now. I went back to sleep, but got up early in the morning, before
any of the rest of the family, and the first thing I did was to ride my
bicycle down to the river and throw in my cigarettes.
I cannot doubt the hand of God in that dream. Had I been awake, I probably
would not have offered the money to the man, and if I had, he would almost
certainly have accepted it, for it was his principle to accept money from
the ungodly. The devil has had it long enough, he would say.
As to the dream itself, I would not pretend that there was anything miraculous
or supernatural in it. It was only the workings of my own mind and conscience.
But I observe that emotions, though always the same in our dreams as when
we are awake, are often stronger and more deeply felt in our dreams. Moreover,
it was certainly the hand of God which secured that I should wake up immediately
after having that dream, for if I had slept till morning, the impressions
which I then felt would likely have been much weakened, if not forgotten.
Many others besides myself have been awakened or convicted of sin by dreams.
The first instance I relate occurred in that time of awakening of which
C. H. Mackintosh has spoken above, and may serve to establish the validity
of his observations:
The first case of awakening here was of a very peculiar and solemn
kind. It was in 1858. It was that of a man who had been a drunkard. He
was drunk the week before. In the middle of the night he awoke, and roused
the family out of their beds; said he had had a dream; an angel came and
told him to be up and busy praying for mercy, for he would die at one
o'clock, or, if not at one, decidedly at four o'clock, next day. He dressed,
and gave himself up entirely to reading and prayer. People thought he
----in delirium tremens. He refused all solicitations to
induce him to drink; went about, wringing his hands and entreating mercy,
till about one o'clock; went to his bed, and died happy about four!
Dan Young, a Methodist preacher, thus relates his own awakening: In
my sleep I conceived that I was in a very solitary place, and walking
across a very large hall where all appeared safe. I stepped on a trap-door
which dropped me into a very deep cellar, which had no other light than
what came through the opening left by the trap-door. I wandered about
in search of a place to get out, but could find none, and came to the
painful conclusion that I should there starve to death. My feelings were
as awful as if it had been a reality in my wakeful hours. In this horrible
dilemma, to my unspeakable joy, I heard a voice above saying, `Come here
and I will help you out.' I looked, and saw a man standing on the floor
above, yet I could not conceive how he could help me out, the cellar was
so deep; but as I approached under the door he reached down his hand,
and his arm became elongated, so that he took me by the shoulder, raised
me up, and set me on the floor. I shall never forget the look of pity
and benevolence he fixed on me. But immediately his appearance changed,
his garments became as white as light, and his countenance like the sun.
He then said to me: `I am Christ, and I have come to help you out of this
cellar, and warn you of your danger. This trap-door on which you stepped,
where all appeared safe, is to represent to you the doctrine of universal
salvation, in which you are trusting; and as it gave way, and dropped
you into despair, so if you continue to trust in that doctrine it will
lead you to utter ruin.' He then instantly vanished from my sight and
I awoke. All was very vivid on my mind. I lay awake and pondered, and
said to myself, an important doctrine in theology should not be changed
on the strength of a dream. O no; but is it not possible that I may be
wrong? Can there be any harm in the review of the whole subject? This
course I finally determined on, and went into it with all the candor and
close thought that I could be master of. I reviewed all the arguments
for and against the doctrine of Universalism, and the result was, a clear
conviction that although the writers which I had read had reasoned with
great ingenuity, yet their arguments involved subtle sophisms, and that
any candid and intelligent person who would read the Bible with a disinterested
desire to know what doctrines it contained, would undoubtedly arrive at
the conclusion that it clearly contained the doctrine that the righteous
shall be forever happy in a future state, and the finally wicked forever
miserable. I now determined to count the cost: to consider candidly and
deeply this question, Is it best or not, all things considered, to be
religious? For some weeks my mind was closely engaged in weighing and
digesting this subject. All the crosses, trials, and persecutions which
would attend a religious course were closely considered. And, on the other
hand, the joys, hopes, and consolations of religion, as far as I could
judge of them by the testimony of the Scriptures and the testimony of
the pious, were well weighed. The final result was, all things considered,
it is beyond all possible doubt best to be religious, even in view of
the present life. And then when the thoughts are carried to a future state,
the argument in favor of religion is perfectly overwhelming. I then came
to a full decision that, by the grace of God, I would serve him. From
that moment to this hour I have never hesitated for an instant as to my
course. In about four weeks from that time I had the witness that my sins
were washed away in the blood of the Lamb.
In the biography of one of the early American Baptist missionaries to
Burmah we read, Toward the close of this year, cases of inquiry
began to multiply, and a number of hopeful converts soon presented themselves
for the ordinance of baptism. One of these, in relating the exercises
of his mind, said that about three months previous, his heart had been
very much perplexed through a dream; he imagined himself going toward
Shway Dagong, and when not far off, it crumbled down into a mass of ruins.
He woke up in great distress, feeling that all his life long he had been
rendering the homage, due only to God, to that senseless mass of ruins.
He betook himself to prayer and the reading of the New Testament. The
light of truth shined in upon his soul, and he found peace in believing.
Many others have been led to the light of the gospel, or to the servants
of Christ who could give it to them, by means of dreams
in these there is often something as obviously supernatural as in the
vision of Cornelius, which directed him to Peter.
Samuel Walker, usually known as Walker of Truro, was one of
the few evangelical clergymen in the church of England during the eighteenth
century. A young man was led to him in the following manner: A poor
man, Samuel W
---- ------, abandoned to sinful practices,
and long inured to a course of wickedness, had engaged himself as trumpeter
to a set of strolling players. One morning a companion told him that he
was greatly tempted to destroy himself. Samuel laughed at his weakness;
but in a few days the wretched man actually put an end to his life. Very
soon after, Samuel was violently tempted to commit the same crime. He
resisted; but his mind was always in a tempest; he thought Satan was continually
urging him to destroy himself as his comrade had done, telling him that
he had sinned beyond the hope of mercy, and that the longer he lived the
greater would be his condemnation. Harassed for more than a year, he sought
the advice of two clergymen and a physician, but found no relief. In this
distress, he saw in a dream a minister, who said to him, `I know your
troubles, and have come to show you the way to peace with God: follow
me.' Presently he thought he was conducted into a beautiful garden, where
every thing he saw was delightful to his mind. A few weeks after this
dream, he came to Truro, saw the Rev. Mr. Walker in the street, and instantly
cried out, `That is the very man who appeared to me in my dream! I must
go and tell him what my sufferings are.' After showing him the sinfulness
of sin, and the necessity of repentance, Mr. Walker preached Christ unto
him. Samuel was set free from the bondage of Satan: he left his former
companions, got another employment, and led a new life, ----a life
becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.
By means of the following remarkable dream the way was opened before Jesse
Lee in Connecticut, where prejudice was very strong against the Methodists:
One afternoon a Mrs. Wells was at the house of her neighbour, Mrs.
Wheeler, taking tea; and stated that during the preceding night she had
dreamed that a man rode up to a house in which she was, got off his horse,
took his saddle-bags on his arm, and walking directly into the house,
said, `I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I have come
to preach to the people of this place. If you will call your neighbours
together, I will preach to them to-night.' She moreover said, that she
retained so vivid and perfect a recollection of the man's face and general
appearance, that she should certainly know him if she should ever see
him. She then entered into a particular description of the preacher she
had seen in her dream. While she was yet speaking, she looked through
the window, and exclaimed, `Why, there is the man now!' And it was so.
Mr. Lee rode up, dismounted, took his saddle-bags on his arm, entered
the house, and addressing himself to the women, said, `I am a minister
of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have come to preach to the people of
this place. If you will call your neighbours together, I will preach to
them to-night.' He was welcomed to the house; and that night preached
the first sermon ever delivered in that part of Connecticut by a Methodist
preacher. Can anyone doubt the hand of God in this?
A similar thing happened to Valentine Cook: When wending his way
through the Alleghany Mountains, at a late hour on Saturday evening, a
lonely stranger, knowing and known of none, he began to reflect on his
chances for the night and the approaching Sabbath. He had already been
several times repulsed in his applications. At length he saw a neat dwelling
on the side of a neighbouring mountain. He rode up with but little hope
of success. A well-dressed lady came to the door. In a subdued tone of
voice he inquired: `Can you accommodate a stranger for the night?' She
looked at him for a moment, and said: `Yes, and to-morrow too. You are
the very man I saw in my dream last night.' . . . The Spirit of the Lord
commenced the work that night: he preached to the people the next day;
a glorious revival broke out in the neighbourhood, upwards of seventy
souls were converted to God, a Methodist society was organized, and the
whole settlement brought under the influence of the gospel before he left
Dreams have been used of God to encourage the downcast, to confirm the
wavering, to deliver from dangers, and to direct to needed supplies. The
following account presents a notable deliverance of Richard Boardman from
I preached one evening at Mould, in Flintshire, and next morning
set out for Parkgate. After riding some miles, I asked a man if I was
on the road to that place. He answered, `Yes; but you will have some sands
to go over, and unless you ride fast you will be in danger of being enclosed
by the tide.' It then began to snow to such a degree that I could scarcely
see a step of my way. I got to the sands, and pursued my journey over
them for some time as rapidly as I could; but the tide then came in, and
surrounded me on every side, so that I could neither proceed nor turn
back, and to ascend the perpendicular rocks was impossible. In this situation
I commended my soul to God, not having the least expectation of escaping
death. In a little time I perceived two men running down a hill on the
other side of the water, and by some means they got a boat, and came to
my relief, just as the sea had reached my knees, as I sat on my saddle.
They took me into the boat, the mare swimming by our side till we reached
the land. While we were in the boat, one of the men said, `Surely, sir,
God is with you.' I answered, `I trust he is.' The man replied, `I know
he is,' and then related the following circumstance: `Last night I dreamed
that I must go to the top of such a hill. When I awoke the dream made
such an impression on my mind that I could not rest. I therefore went
and called upon this man to accompany me. When we came to the place we
saw nothing more than usual. However, I begged him to go with me to another
hill at a small distance, and there we saw your distressed situation.'
The reader will observe that all of these dreams are not of the same character.
Some of them evidently contain something directly supernatural. Others
are only providential. Many are certainly to be accounted for purely on
the ground of the workings of the emotions or the conscience of the dreamer.
Yet even in these we may see the hand of God in the timing of such dreams,
and especially in the fact that the sleeper is often wide awake immediately
the dream is finished, so that the strong impression made in sleep remains
when awake. In all of this we surely see the hand of God.
Old articles are reprinted without alteration (except for corrections
of printing errors), unless stated otherwise. The editor inserts such
articles if they are judged to be profitable for scriptural instruction
or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's
own views are to be taken from his own writings.