OLD TESTAMENT STUMBLING-BLOCKS REMOVED. BY DANIEL STEELE.

There are several misunderstood passages in the Holy Scriptures which seem to justify an unholy life; texts which apparently teach that sin is necessary to the present state, and Christian perfection, or deliverance from inbred sin through the Holy Ghost shedding abroad the love of God in its fulness in the heart, is a chimera. It is the object of this chapter to show that no word of the Holy Scriptures, properly interpreted, upholds, or in the least extenuates, sin as an act, or as a state or tendency.

I Kings via. 46. In his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, Solomon represents various future national exigencies for which he implores the intervention of Jehovah bringing deliverance. Among these is national sin fohowed by national captivity. " If they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not), and thou be angry with them," etc. Here the stumbling-block is in the parenthesis, which seems to declare, with the Westminster Catechism, that every man, after all that grace can do for him, is continually sinning. If this is man's
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normal condition, there is no pertinency in the supposition, '' If they sin." It is very much like the governor of Massachusetts at the laying of a corner-stone of an

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insane asylum, being reported as saying in the dedicatory address, " If any citizen of this commonwealth becomes crazy, and there is no citizen who is not crazy, let him come here and be cured of his mental maladies." All the readers would say that there is a contradiction in the speech, through the blunder of the reporter or the printer ; and they would immediately correct the parenthetic clause, and make it read thus : '' For there is no citizen who may not be crazy." Now, an examination of this text in the original Hebrew develops the fact that the word for "sinneth" is in the future tense, the only form in the Hebrew for expressing the potential mood. (See Nordheimer's Grammar, § 993, Green, § 263, Rodiger's Gesenius, p. 238, d.) The corrected rendering then would be, " For there is no man who 7nay not sin;" i.e., there is none impeccable,
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none that is not liable to transgression. Thus the alleged criminal imperfection is not a declared fact, in any sense whatever, but only a declared possibility. The text properly translated gives no support to the doctrine of the necessity of sin in a believer. Accordingly the Latin Vulgate, the standard of the Roman Catholic Church, has non peccet, ''may not sin," as also the interlineal translations in the Antwerp, London, and Paris Polyglots ; and in the latter two we have the same rendering of the Syriac and Arabic versions.

The same criticism and correction apply to Eccl. vii. 20, which should read thus : "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and may not sin," the verb, to sin, being future, to denote a contingency, a possible, not a positive, future event. A little schol-

OLD TESTAMENT STUMBLING-BLOCKS REMOVED. I 53

arship applied to these texts would greatly improve the theology of some people.
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Job ix. 20, ''If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me : if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse." This verse lies just as strongly against justification as against entire sanctification. In the evangelical sense, in which God is the justifier and the sanctifier of the believer in^ his Son, this verse contradicts neither. Job disclaimed justification by works and absolute perfection. That he had evangelical perfection, unfaltering faith, unquestioned loyalty, and perfect love, the root of all obedience, God's testimony ought to be conclusive, " Hast thou considered my servant Job ... a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth [is shy of] evil .? "

The true state of the facts is this : Job's professed comforters were three universalists of the old school, who viewed the present life as the sphere in which perfect justice is displayed, and rewards and punishments are exactly meted out. Hence, the greatest sinner must be the greatest sufferer in this life, and vice versa, the greatest bodily sufferer must have been the greatest criminal on earth. Job, the greatest sufferer, must therefore be the greatest sinner. This
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logic Job resented, and he refused to plead his perfect integrity upon any such platform of theological errors. He believed that afflictions befall good people for disciplinary ends and not for punishment solely. Hence, should he prove his own spotless purity, his own sufferings would not shake his demonstration, or militate against God's absolute justice, because he has other reasons than penalty for inflicting physical

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suffering. For Job to adopt the theology of his three friends and then declare his own perfection would have been an impeachment of the divine administration which would certainly "prove him perverse." Nevertheless, we are not left in uncertainty respecting his consciousness of inward and outward holiness : " My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit ; till I die I will, not remove mine integrity [moral wholeness] from me, my righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go : my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live." — Job xxvii. 2-6. This
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is certainly what Dr. Whedon would call a very tall profession of spiritual perfection, not made to impeach God's righteous administration, but to confound and put to eternal silence the wretched errors of his three professed friends.

Psalm xxxvii. 23, 24, is quoted as implying that every good man will fall into sin at times, and that God in his great mercy will not utterly cast him away. The truth is, there is no hint of sin in these verses. None of the versions intimate that a falling into sin is meant, but rather into adversities, distresses, and troubles, out of which God will at last give him a happy issue.

In Psabn xiv. 1-3 God looks down upon the human family aside from divine regenerating grace, and sees every one by nature and by practice corrupt and sinful. St. Paul, in Rom. iii. 10, quotes this passage to prove the universal depravity of our race, as proving the necessity for that scheme of universal redemption in the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, which he is proceeding to unfold in this theological epistle. No one has a right to pervert this text into proof that there are none righteous in the kingdom of grace.
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OLD TESTAMENT STUMBLING-BLOCKS REMOVED. I55

Psalm cxix. 96, '' I have seen an end of all perfection : but thy commandment is exceeding broad." No text in the Old Testament is more frequently quoted against Christian perfection, usually with an air of triumph, as though that doctrine is pulverized by the crushing momentum of this verse. Let us examine it. The original word for perfection in this passage is a once-used word in the Hebrew Bible. Hence its meaning is with scholars a matter of dispute. But many of them agree that it is the complete ending and vanishing away of anything. Thus Martin Luther renders it, " I have seen an end of all things, but thy law lasts." Hence, the word perfection not being in their version, the Germans have no difficulty with this text. All earthly things end, but the Bible lasts. This rendering makes the text concordant with Isa. xl. 6-Z. and I Pet. i. 24, 25. "All flesh is as grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away : but the word of the Lord endureth forever." That the idea of
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this text in the alphabetic psalm is the evanescence of the earthly and the eternity of the spiritual, especially of divine revelation, is proven by the Septuagint version, " I have seen the end of every finishing up, but thy commandment is very wide," while the Vulgate reads, Oninis consiLinmationis finem vidi, literally, " 1 have seen the end of every consummation." We confidently make the assertion that no candid scholar, however strong his prejudices against evangelical perfection, or loving God with all the heart, after a thorough study of this text, will ever again hurl it against this precious scriptural doctrine and blessed conscious experience of myriads of his saints.

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XXVI.

ENLARGEMENT OF HEART.

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It was the Psalmist who, according to the Septuagint version, testifies (^Ps. cxix, 32), ''I ran the way of thy commandments, when thou didst enlarge my heart." In his early spiritual life there was in this Old Testament saint the same straitness, slowness, and lack of momentum, which characterize young Christians in modern times. His service had been enforced by the law and its penalties. Duty was a word which had not been written over and almost concealed by the superimposed capitals which spell Love. But it seems there was a crisis in his religious life where constraint ends and joyous liberty begins ; where irksomeness disappears, and spontaneity in service is a permanent characteristic. The crisis which separates these two ^experiences is the enlargement of the heart. This is I figure for what St. John calls '' perfect love," and which St. Paul elsewhere describes as ''the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost ; " though he once, at least, employs the Old Testament phrase (2 Cor. vi. 11), '' O ye Corinthians, my mouth is opened unto you, my heart is enlarged." Reverse the order of these clauses, and we have the cause and the effect. A full heart makes an unloosed tongue. The inquiry

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ENLARGEMEx\T OF HEART. I 57

is al limportant, When is this crisis reached ? Some say, '* Never this side the dying bed." But no Scripture proof of this dismal doctrine is ever given. It is not true that the believing soul must be a partly filled goblet till it is overflowed by the waters of the river of death. Others say : All souls at the new birth are deluged with love to the brim ; a love that drives their chariot-wheels as swiftly as the mysterious electric current drives our street-cars up and down our trimountain city. Such a steady motive-power is not the experience of multitudes, yea, the vast majorities who are truly regenerate. Their inertia is great, and the impelling power is feeble. Indeed, something worse than inertia is to be overcome ; a strong opposition often arises within, which it takes all their strength to overcome. They have not a heart at leisure from itself to concentrate upon the work of God. True it is that a few Christians, like John Fletcher, very soon after their birth into the kingdom, because of a correct apprehension of their privilege in the dispensation of the
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Spirit, are deluged with divine love and become giants in faith. The mass of believers are mere babes in spiritual development. They see days of great weakness, and are often on the verge of surrender to the foe. Some, alas, throw away their arms, and run away from the fight, and never renew the battle. Others fight all their lives with foes in their own hearts and never overcome and cast them out. They have been told by their preachers that this war in the members is the normal Christian life. Hence, believing their preachers instead of the Word of God, they limit his power by their unbelief, and never gladly run, but

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always sadly drag themselves along the heavenly way. This large class of Christians need enlightenment and encouragement, and not denunciation. They need to dwell in thought upon " the exceeding great and precious promises," that they may have an experience of the " exceeding greatness of God's power to us-ward who believe." They need to lock arms with St. Paul
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and walk through his glorious epistles, and get his large view of the extent of Christ's saving power, since he has sent down the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier. They should study the new Greek words which Paul coined to express the fulness of divine grace and the wealth of privilege which are the heritage of those who fully believe ; such as that translated by *' more than conquerors " (Rom. vhi. 37), ''much more abound" (Rom. V. 20 : 2 Cor. vii. 4), " and the grace of our Lord abounded exceedingly with faith and love." — (i Tim. i. 14.) Especially should they ponder that declaration of God's ability to save, found in 2 Cor. ix. 8, in which are two " abounds " and five " alls," — " God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that ye always having all sufficiency in all things may abound unto every good work." They should daily repeat St. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, emphasizing each petition, especially the ascription at the close (^Eph. Hi. 20), " Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly [superabicndantly, above the greatest abundance. — A. Clarke] above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." There is not sufficient familiarity with the promises on the part of professed Christians. While unbelievers neglect the threaten12

ings, believers are prone to neglect the promises of the

ENLARGEMENT OF HEART. 159

Holy Scriptures. Again, the growing failure to magnify the Holy Spirit results in constraint, and in the legal spirit, instead of the freedom of the evangelical spirit, inspiring courage to run through troops of foes. How many so-called evangelical Christians there are whose creed is practically as defective as was that of the first believers in Ephesus, — " We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost " as receivable into the heart.

This important item dropped out of a Christian's faith palsies his tongue, paralyzes his hands, and enfeebles his feet. If he is a preacher, his message will be delivered in the weakness of uncertainty and doubt. Splendid rhetoric, and oratorical tones and attitudes, are beggarly substitutes for the unction of the Holy Ghost. The anointed pulpit will always be mighty. The Spirit inspires fearlessness, imparts freedom of
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utterance, enkindles zeal and unconquerable love of souls. All of these are elements of genuine eloquence. They furnish the man, the subject, and the occasion.

The formal prayer-meeting would be transformed by the enlargement of the heart. Dumbness, the penalty of unbelief (Luke i. 20), will find a ready and glad utterance, and the dry harangue will be replaced by the hallelujah.

Let the heart of Protestantism be enlarged by the fulness of the Comforter, and rivers of salvation would flow out unto the ends of the earth, vitalizing those organizations which he can use, and sweeping away those which have been devised as substitutes for his regenerating and sanctifying power.

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