When men will not receive the Scripture testimony concerning Gods creation, straightway they begin to form theories that are a thousand times more ridiculous than they have ever endeavored to make the Bible account of it, for God leaveth them, if they will not accept his solution of the problem, to grope for another, and their own solution is so absurd, that all the world except themselves hath sense enough to laugh at it.
And when men leave the Sacred Book of Revelation, ah! my friends where do they go? We find that in Isaiahs time they went to strange places; for he says in the 19th verse, that they sought unto familiar spirits unto wizards that did peep and mutter; yea, they sought for things concerning the living, amongst the dead, and became the dupes of necromancers.
This seems likely to become the age of preaching, rather than the age of praying. We now see everywhere large congregations assembling in halls and abbeys to listen to the Word preached; and it is an ominous sign of the times, that these preachings are not only now espoused by the orthodox, but even by those whom we have considered to be at least somewhat heretical from the old faith of the Protestant Church.
It becomes, therefore, a serious thing; for it is most probable and may not every wise man see it? that whosoever may now arise who hath some powers of oratory and some graces of eloquence, will be likely to attract the multitude, preach he what he may, though the word that he should utter be as false as Gods Word is true, and as contrary to the gospel as hell is opposed to heaven.
To what book shall he commend his hearers? How shall he keep them fast? Where is the anchor which he shall give them to cast into the rocks? or where the rocks into which they should cast their anchor? Our text is a solution to that question. We are here furnished with a great answer to the inquiry “To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”First, I shall endeavor this morning to urge you to bring certain things, to which we are afraid a superstitious importance may be attached, “to the law and to the testimony.” Secondly, I shall try to show the good effects that will follow, if each of you rigidly bring everything you hear and believe, “to the law and to the testimony.” And, thirdly, I shall give you some powerful reasons why you should subject everything to this sacred touchstone; and close by offering you some little advice how you may do this truly and profitably.
First, I would have you bring the ideas engendered in you by your early training, to the test of the Book of God. But we claim for ourselves, as men, that we should not be fed with doctrines as we were fed in our helpless infancy, with food chosen for us: we claim that we should have the right of judging whether the things which we have received and heard, are according to this Sacred Book; and if we find that in aught our training has been erroneous, we do not consider that we are violating any principle of affection, if we dare to come forth from our families, and join a denomination holding tenets far different from those which our parents had espoused. I will read the Bible, just as if I had never heard any preacher, or had never been taught by a parent; and I will then endeavor to find out what God saith, and what God saith, be it what it may I will believe and espouse, hoping that by his grace I may also feel the power of it in my own soul.
Remember, also, to bring the preachers of the gospel to this standard. A great many of you know but very little about what gospel is. The general notion of the mass is, that we are everyone of us right; that though to-day I may contradict some one else, and some one else may contradict me, yet we are all right; and though it is treason to common sense to believe such a thing, yet this is a common idea. Some men always believe like the last speaker.
Now, my dear friends, I claim for myself, when I enter this pulpit, the right of being heard; but I do not claim the right of being believed, unless the words that I speak shall be in accordance with this Sacred Book. I desire you to serve me as I would have you serve everybody else bring us each “to the law and to the testimony.
I thank God, of my Bible I have no need to be ashamed. I sometimes am ashamed of this translation of it, when I see how, in some important points, it is not true to Gods Word; but of Gods own Word I can say, it is the man of my right hand, my meditation both day and night and if there be aught I preach that is contrary to this Word, trample it in the mire, spit upon it, and despise it.
It is not what I say, but what my God saith, that you are demanded to receive. Put myself and put all my brethren into the sieve; cast us each into the fire, put us into the crucible of truth; and what is not according to Gods Word must be consumed like dross.
There is another class of men quite contrary to those I have referred to. These men are their own preachers; they believe no one but themselves, and without knowing it, there is every reason for them to hate the Pope, because “two of a trade never agree,” they being Popes themselves.
These persons, if they hear a truth preached, judge of it not by the Bible, but by what they think the truth ought to be.
I have heard a person, for instance, say, when he has heard the doctrine of Election. or of particular Redemption, “Well, now, the doctrine does not please me, I do not like it.” And then he begins to urge some objection which he has forgot upon his own anvil, yet never trying to quote a Scripture text to refute it, if he can; never turning to some old saying of the Prophets, and endeavoring to find out that the doctrine was an error, but only judging of it by his own opinion, by his wishes as to what the truth ought to be.
Now it is just the same with the truth. People say, “I do not like such a truth.” That is no refutation of it. The question is, Is it in the Bible? Because if it is there, like it or not like it, it is a fact and all the minister has to do is to report the facts that he finds there.
All I have to do is to tell you what I find in the Bible; if you do not like it remember, that is no refutation of it, nor do I care for your liking it or not liking it; the only thing is, is it in the Bible? If it is there I shall not stop to prove it. I do not come here to prove a doctrine at all. If it is in the Bible, it is true: there it is; I tell it out; reject it, and you do so to your own condemnation; for you yourself believe the Bible to be true, and I prove it to be there, and therefore it must be true.
Wouldst thou like to have a Bible made for the devices of thine own heart? If it were, it would be a worthless thing.
Wouldst thou desire to have a Gospel according to thy wishes? Then with some of you it would be a Gospel that allowed lasciviousness. Wouldst thou wish to have a revelation made that should pamper thee in thy lusts, and indulge thee in thy pride? If so, this know, God will never stoop to feed thy haughtiness or wantonness.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible