The Modernness of Fundamentalism
A Sermon by the Pastor, Dr. T. T. Shields.
Preached in Jarvis Street Church, Toronto, Sunday Evening, December 11th, 1927.
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” — I Peter 1:18-20.
“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” — I Corin 11:26.
Prayer Before the Sermon.
We thank Tee, O Lord, for the return of this hour of holy privilege, when we are permitted together to come into Thy presence and plead the precious promise which Thou hast given those who meet in thy name. We would understand Thy Word. We would understand Thy Word. We pray that this evening we may not come with presumption to Thy holy Book, but rather in the spirit of him who was commanded to remove his shoes from his feet because the place whereon he stood was holy ground. Make the bush to burn with fire. May every heart in this house hear the still small Voice. We ask it in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
You will find the text this evening in two places: the first epistle of Peter, chapter one, and I shall read from the eighteenth to the twenty-first verses: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from you vain conversion received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you”; then the twenty-sixth verse of the eleventh chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” From before the foundation of the world — “till he come”. That is a wide stretch, and that is the extent of the duration of God’s plan of saving men.
Two weeks ago I spoke to you about, “The Fundamentals of Modernism”, and I think we saw, with some degree of clearness at least, that modernism is after all a very ancient thing, that it dates back to the garden of Eden. It is said that those who hold to the doctrines of evangelical faith, hold to that which is antiquated and obsolete; the gospel is not up-to-date. The answer we make to that is, The gospel is always modern; it is always up-to-date; and there can be no substitute for it. It is God’s way of saving men from before the foundation of the world until he shall come again. So that Fundamentalism is modern, and I desire to try to prove it.
Let us begin, then, with THE EVANGELICAL ATTITUDE TOWARD THE BIBLE. What is the Bible? Where did it come from? Who wrote it? What is its subject? What is the purpose for which it was given to men? We hold that the Bible is unique; it is nor a book among books, but it is theBook, which is peculiar and distinct from all other books in this respect, that it was written by men supernaturally inspired as no other men were ever inspired. The Bible itself is the word of God.
I believe the Old Testament, just as truly as the New, is the record which God has given us of His Son, — He was foreordained before the foundation of the world, and the Old Testament is just as full of the gospel as the New Testament; and Jesus Christ is to be found on every page of it.
We believe the Bible was of supernatural origin, that it came down from above — not the paper, not the ink, but that the truth herein revealed was communicated to men by the Holy Spirit in such a way that when they wrote, their writings were free from all error; and that the Bible is, in every part, true to fact, true where it touches natural phenomena, where it deals with matters which come within the scope of the scientists — wherever the Bible touches any one of them, what the Bible says is true. Therein our view is distinct and different from that of our modernistic-friends.
I have been saying some things in other places, and I forget whether I have ever said them here or not; but if I have, perhaps they will bear repeating.
Fundamentalism accepts the Bible as being as record, a rue record, of events. Understand, there may be the statements of men in it who were liars — there are some words which were spoken by the devil — for we have here the record of evil men. We have, at some points, their philosophies of life. For example, there are the arguments of Job’s friends when they tried to explain the calamities which came upon him. Their arguments were not sound; the Lord Himself said they were not sound, and that they had not spoken the things which were right as Job himself had spoken. But the record of those conversations is a true record. When a record is taken in a court of the evidence adduced on either side, the evidence on the one side may be contradictory of the evidence on the other, but the report of the evidence adduced is true to fact. The report is a report of what the witnesses said, and thereof it is written down. God has preserved for us here a record of events, of the philosophy of history; but everything that is written here is true to the facts of the case.
Our friend, Professor Marshall, says, “I hold it is dangerous to the cause of religion among men to put the alleged authority of the Bible on such matters against established scientific facts.” He says the Bible may not be true to science, and that it is folly to say it is; that it reflects the limited knowledge of the men who wrote it in respect to these matters which fall within the purview of science. He says, in effect, that the Bible is a good book — its authority, however, is limited to the realms of morals and religion; that it is not necessarily reliable when it deals with questions of science. He says it is not an authority on questions of science.
Let me give you a little bit of history. Some years ago at the conclusion of a morning service one of my deacons came up to me here and said, “I have caught you this morning.” I said, “Have you?” “Yes, sir. I have.” “What did I do to-day?” I inquired. “Well”, said he, “you made a statement that was not accurate.” “Oh”, I said, “what was the statement?” “It was what you said about a compound engine.” I do not know why I told this story, I do not remember what point it was intended to illustrate; but I told the story of a brakeman who said that sometimes, of a dark night when the train was passing through a country place where there were no illuminated objects along the track, it was very difficult to judge the train’s speed. he said, “One time I was almost fatally injured by jumping off a train that was going twice as fast as I thought it was going. I could see no objects by which I could judge of the train’s speed, so I listened to the exhaust, to the puffing of the engine, and measured the speed of the train by the frequency of the exhaust. I jumped off to set the switch, but forgot that the train was being drawn by a compound engine; and was nearly killed.” In my illustration I said that a compound engine is one that uses its steam twice, and instead of exhausting twice to the revolution, it exhausts only once; and therefore its speed, judged by the exhaust, is twice that of an ordinary engine. What application I made of that, I do not know; but it was the accuracy of the statement the gentleman questioned. I said, “What was the matter with the story”, he replied, “except that there is no such engine.” “Are you sure of that?” I enquired. “I believe you made a slip. There is no such engine as you have described.” “Well”, I said, “I am not going to dispute the matter with you. I do not spend my time, or other people’s time, telling what I do not know — that would take too long! I confine myself to speaking of that which I do know. I would suggest therefore that you go and enquire somewhere, and come back and tell me what you learn about a compound engine.” After a while he came back and said, “Well, Pastor, you score.” “How is that?” “Why, about that engine.” “Where did you find out?” “I went down to the Superintendent of the Locomotive Department of the Grand Trunk Railway, and asked him about it. He said, ‘No, we have no such engine on the Grand Trunk lines; but there is such an engine in use on the Michigan Central.” “Well”, I said, “ I was talking about the Michigan Central. Is it tue there is such an engine?” “It is quite correct”, my friend said.
Then he said another thing to me. He said, “I ought to have known better, because some time ago you preached a sermon on, ‘They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels’. And you talked a good deal about cutting diamonds, about the different kinds of wheels that were used in the lapidary’s shop. There was a man present in the service who was an expert, who was a diamond merchant. I went over to him and said, “What does the Pastor know about diamonds?’ ‘You would think he had worked in a lapidary’s shop.’ ‘Was he correct?’ ‘Absolutely. I have spent a long time in Holland, and he described how diamonds are cut in a most accurate manner.’ How did you find out? Did you ever have anything to do with diamonds?” “No”, I replied, “but when that text spoke to me, I saw there was a great deal in it; and so I put it on one side and spent some time studying diamonds, and did not talk about it until I knew what I was talking about.”
That illustrates one side of the principle, but let me give you another illustration. A man said to me once as I mentioned another preacher, “I would not cross the street to hear him.” “Why not?” I enquired. “Because he is not accurate.” “What did he say say was not accurate?” “ I heard him speak once, and he referred to some incident in the Civil War. He did not know the difference between the blue and gray. He put a blue coat on a soldier who ought to have been wearing gray. I have made the Civil War the subject of study for years, it has been a hobby with me. I know the names of all the outstanding generals on both sides; I have studied the maps of the battle-fields; I know how the battles were fought. I claim to be an expert on the history of the American Civil War, and that man was not accurate.” “Well”, I said, “was the point he intended to illustrate well taken?” “That has nothing to do with it,” he replied, “he referred to a question of fact, to a matter of history, and his reference was not historically accurate, that is all. If that man is not accurate in respect to matters concerning which I m fully informed, how can I possibly trust him when he speaks of matters that are beyond my knowledge? If he is not accurate in one realm, what reason have I to believe that he is accurate in another?”
Professor Marshall and his school ask us to believe that the Bible may be full of scientific inaccuracies; it is not true to fact historically. It was not written to teach history, and it was not written to teach science; and all we have to concern ourselves with is the religious message! I call that sheer nonsense. I do not know that I should wholly justify the history expert who criticized my ministerial friend, because my friend was but a man; and a man may be wrong in one thing, and yet he may be dependable in other matters. But if the Bible be the word of God, if it was written by men-inspired by the Spirit of God, then when the Spirit of God told men to write about the creation, he told them to write what was true; and if there is anything in the first book of the Bible that is untrue to fact, then it is axiomatic that that is not from God, for God cannot lie. Wherever the Bible touches matters of science, or of history, it is true, true in every particular, because it is the word of God.
I imagine a man who is, let us say, a professor of biology, or of geology — one of the physical sciences — and he has a little boy. He takes that little boy into his biological laboratory, or out with him to the quarry, or takes him for a walk through the woods. This great man of science may show that little boy some of the wonders that the microscope reveals, and he will explain, not in technical terms, not as he would speak to the advanced students of science in his classes, but he speaks as a father to a little child, and explains these things which the child’s eye beholds. The child gets a mental impression of it all, he learns the truth his father desires to convey; but the deeper things which are open and manifest to the eye of the scientist are hidden from the eyes of the child. Or he takes him into the quarry and explains the different strata there, but he does not talk as though teaching geology in his classes, but as a father to a child. With an entire absence of technicalities, he explains the things which he points out for his child’s observation.
Or in the woods, he plucks a flower, or a leaf from a tree, and says, “Is this not wonderful?”, and tells him in simple language something about the flower, something about the plant life roundabout him. The little boy comes home with a larger knowledge of the world to which his father has introduced him, but he cannot use a microscope, he cannot tell you about the rocks or flowers; he is filled with wonder as the father has pointed out their peculiarities.
The boy goes to school, and grow up. Little by little he reads his father’s books, he learns to use his father’s instruments, until by and by he becomes a man of science and looks through the microscope or telescope with his father’s eyes. He looks at the rocks and flowers, not with the eyes of a little child, but with the eyes of a learned man of science. And then he says, “I remember the day that my father took me into the laboratory, and into the woods, and into the quarry yonder. It is true he did not explain things as I would now explain them to my students, but I have come to see this, that the background of knowledge out of which he spoke when, in the language which a child could understand, he explained these natural phenomena, was what gave force yet simplicity to his words. Not one thing my father told me have I found to be untrue to fact, because the perfect scientific knowledge which lay behind his simple speech forbade that even in stooping to a child’s understanding, he should say anything that was contrary to fact.”
And can we suppose that He Who made the worlds and all things therein, Who said, “Let there be light”, and there was light — if it be so that He divided the waters from the waters, that He was before all things, and in Him all things consist, will you dare to tell me that the Spirit of God, writing the history of creation, wrote into His book that which is untrue? If you tell me that, you may have your Bible. Is it modern to disbelieve God? Talk about the modernism of it! I do not like that word, it is too complimentary to these out-of-date ignoramuses.
But now we can use the term advisedly. Listen: “And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called [t]he Seas; and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose see is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after this kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also” — (I drove by oon-light the night before last, and the stars are still there) — “And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day” — (listen) — “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it as so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”
That is the story of “the origin of species,” and to this day science cannot improve upon it. Professor Wm. Bateson, who at one time was President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, declared in effect at Toronto University that as yet science had been unable to produce one single instance of the transmutation of species. There is a fixed law that hybrids are sterile. There may be, and is, variation within the species, but the line of demarcation is as fixed to-day as it ever was the last word of science on that subject is that everything brings forth “after its kind” exactly as the Bible says. The Bible is right up-to-date.
I could go on to speak of its principles from Genesis to Revelation. For instance, “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation!” Is it true? I ask, is that true? One man said to me in Montreal when I quoted that, “I do not believe that is just.” “Never mind”, I said, “whether you believe it to be just or not, I ask you, Is it true?If you do not believe it, go to the hospitals, go anywhere, and you will find it to be true.” “For he that hath, to him shall be-given: and he that hath not, rom him shall be taken even that which he hath.” Is that true? Do you know that the rich man who can buy wholesale, can get things cheaper than his poor neighbour? The man who has money enough to but a carload of coal can get it cheaper than the man who buys it by hundredweight. The Bible is the most modern book in the world in respect to the matters with which it deals, the Bible fits into every principle of life like a key into an intricate lock. It unlocks the programme of life like a key, it shows men the way through life as no other book ever did, as no other guide ever can. It is like the sun and the moon, fulfilling its duty as God has provided, without need of alteration or repair. It stands to-day as the word of God Who liveth and abideth for ever. The rest of you may have a mutilated Bible if you like, but I have gone through it a good many years — again, and again, and again — and I have never found a verse, or a single word, in it that we can afford to dispense with; there is not a superfluous word in it. “Every word of God is pure”; it is he word of God that liveth and abideth for ever.
I have said it so often, but I repeat it: THE CENTRAL THING IN THE WORD OF GOD IS THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST. He is the theme of the Bible. You say, “He is the them of the New Testament”. I say He is the them of the Old Testament as well as of the New; He is in the opening chapter of Genesis, and He is all the way through. I believe Christ is in the very first verse of Genesis. “In the beginning God” — He is there. “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made”; the Bible closes with the prayer, “Even so come, Lord Jesus”; and every page between the first and the last you will find packed full of Jesus Christ. It is bound to be so if He was foreordained before the foundation of the world and “Manifest in these last times for you.”
Well then, if that be so, if that be so, He is more than a man. Before He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”, before He actually created man, the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Just as He put into the cellars of this great house we call the world our winter’s supply of coal, and furnished this carth for human habitation, and supplied it for our habitation according to climatic conditions, so He has provided for our spiritual need. What God has done for man materially in every case, in anticipating man’s requirements and providing for them, He has done for him spiritually. It would be a strange thing if He had not provided for His spiritual requirements, would it not? It would be a strange thing if he had not provided for our spiritual and moral needs when before He created us He provided for our physical needs? Before man was formed, in the mind of God salvation was planned, and little by little it was communicated to man until at last “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets”, spoke unto us by His Son; and “when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
How wonderful that He was made of a woman! How wonderful that He was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Ghost! It was by the Seed of a woman — the Seed of a woman, that the serpent’s head was to be bruised. And literally the promise was fulfilled, and Incarnate Deity appeared among men, born of the Virgin Mary, as no other man was ever born. It is an old story, it is an old story. It is contrary to nature; you cannot explain it on scientific grounds. Of course, it is perfectly true, as Dr. Fosdick says, that it involves a biological miracle that is unthinkable to the modern mind. He ought to have said the virgin birth involves a miracle unthinkable to the carnal mind, ancient or modern; it is entirely beyond the natural realm. The Book is supernatural, and the Person of Whom it speaks is supernatural — it is all supernatural.
Christ came to be the dive Saviour, and the miracle of His coming is up-to-date, for there is a sense in which it is to be repeated. Ah, let us beware of the tricks of the Modernism when they tell us that we are divine as Christ was divine, that we are a part of the Deity as He was part of the Deity. There is a way by which we may be made “partakes of the divine nature”, there is a way by which the very life of God can be imparted to a human being. What is it? What is salvation? Subscription, but that is not salvation. Belief in a book? I shall never say a word that would lead men to doubt the trustworthiness of this Book. But these are but means to an end. What is salvation? it is a repetition of the miracle of the Virgin Birth. Let Christ be formed in you. We are to receive Him into our hearts: these natures, dead in trespasses and sins, are to be divinely quickened; and we are to be made — oh, the wonder of it — partakers of the divine nature by the overshadowing, quickening, recreative power of the Holy Ghost. Yes, the old gospel os right up-to-date, my friends.
You cannot have peace until you can change the natures of men, you cannot have a regenerated society until you have regenerated individuals; you cannot have a heavenly kingdom until you have heavenly citizens. The regeneration of the individual is the need of the hour. And, blessed be God, it is the message of the gospel: “Ye must be born again”. If you deny the miracle of Bethlehem, then you deny the possibility of salvation, and leave human nature bankrupt. Oh, the wonder of it! — the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. The death of Christ was no afterthought; He was foreordained before the foundation of the world.
I love to begin at Genesis, and see Him stepping down the centuries, revealing Himself in Adam, in Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, the Jesus of the Old Testament, down through the Judges, and the beautiful story of Boaz, the redeemer of Ruth the Moabitess who becomes his bride; then Samuel, and David, and by and by Solomon in one aspect of his character. So all the way down through the Old Testament there are foregleams of the coming Glory, preintimations of the advent of Him Who was ordained from the foundation of the world to be our Saviour. Then, coming to Bethlehem — what about Him? Where shall Christ be born? It was written in the Book. And after He came, a star-guided the wise men, as it ever does, to the place where He was cradled, that they might bring unto Him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Afterward we see Him about His Father’s business. That is a wonderful touch in Luke: First of all, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” Then He went down into Nazareth, and was subject unto His parents. I used to hear mu father pray for his children, “Let the blessing of the fifth commandment be theirs.” You know what it is? “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee”. And when our Lord said so gently, and yet so firmly, to His mother, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? Do you not know that God must be first, and you afterward?” Then He went down into Nazareth and began His life of obedience — or continued it, rather, to the second table of the law, loving God and His neighbour as Himself. And when thus He wrought out a perfect righteousness for us. He set His face toward the Cross.
You cannot read any other biography that reads like that of our Lord. Read other biographies, and you will read the stories of mistakes, how the man of whom the writer speaks went into some bypath; how, like Abraham, he went down to Egypt, and had to turn back “unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first”. Half man’s time is spent going backward because he was made a mistake. But study the life of Jesus, and you will find that He came forth from God. “In the volume of the Book” — in the head of the book — “it is written, I delight to do thy will, O my God.” And with undeviating straightness He goes right to the goal, never turning aside, sating at last — I have quoted it it many times, and I love to quote it: — When Herod and the rest of them hated Him, and His brethren and His faithful disciples said, “Herod will kill thee”, our Lord answered, “Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected”.
He came to die; he chose the place of His death; he chose the maner of His death: “This he said, signifying what death he should die.” He chose the date of His death; He chose how He would die, that He might be “numbered with the transgressors”; and where He would be buried: “He made his grave with wicked , and with the rich in his death”; “The third day I shall be perfected,” and the time of His resurrection. Never in all history can you find a story like that. He is the Son of God; it was He Who said, “Let there be light”, and there was light; it was He Who made the sun and the moon, and flung the myriad stars in the sky; Who carpeted the earth with flowers, and filled it with provision for His human creatures; and at last made man in His own image — never did He have to do a thing the second time. “I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever.” You see Him going straightforward, dying at last, “the just for unjust, that he might bring us to God.”
And then some little bit of a professor comes along and says it is not true! Up-to-date? Yes! A great preacher once, lecturing to his students on the wisdom of reading the old books, was questioned by one of the students, “But, sir, do you not think we should keep abreast of the time?” To which the great man answered. “By all means, young gentlemen, but get abreast first.”
I meet some ministers nowadays who talk about being “abreast of the times”, “being up-to-date”. We were holding a meeting down in Port Hope the other day, and we always give everybody opportunity to ask as many questions as they like. The Pastor of the church there got up and said, “I want to register my protest against what somebody said to-night. It has been said that Professor Matthews has been proved to be a Modernist.” In reply I said, “Have you read his book, ‘The Literature of the Old Testament’?” “No.” “Well, go and buy it, and if you cannot buy it, I will lend you one.” Then somebody quoted Professor Cross as saying:
“And now after the lapse of all the intervening centuries, it is still an open question whether after all it was not misleading to call Jesus the Christ.”
Up jumps this pastor again and said, “Quote the context.” I said that I had not brought the book with me, and asked him if he had read it. “No,” he said, “but I have read the context.” Then I said, “We will all wait while Brother Meldrum reads the context.” He replied, “I cannot remember it.” (Laughter). Some of the men opposing us in this battle for the Book seem to have read very little of anything except The McMater Monthly and The Canadian Baptist! Really we have come upon a day when the church is cursed with a generation of ministers who are not informed on these great verities.
Here is a gen that I could not forebear giving you this evening, even though it be Sunday (I know Brother Stockley will appreciate this.) The speaker is Rev. G. T. Webb, at a meeting in Port Hope. The newspaper reports him as having said:
“The speaker showed in a very clear and forceful manner that Professor L. H. Marshall of McMaster University held substantially the same views of the atonement as Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin and T. T. Shields” — (I have got into distinguished company at last! (Laughter) Listen, — “accepting the substitutionary view although Professor Marshall being a finished scholar and a careful student of the meaning of the words expressed himself a little differently preferring to say that Jesus suffered for our sins than to say that he was punished.”
Brother Webb told the people in Port Hope that there was no comparison between Professor Marshall and C. H. Spurgeon! Had I been there I would have taken a megaphone and said, Amen. Spurgeon used to have W. E. Gladstone, and occasionally John Ruskin, and the intellectuals of his day, in his congregation, and John Ruskin once asked him how he contented himself with that mob in Newington when he might consort with the intellectuals. Anybody informed of Spurgeon’s erudition knows he was the peer of the erudite men of his time. He reached by voice and the printed page, during his lifetime, according to Dr. Pearson’s estimate, not less than three hundred millions; his sermons were translated into several languages; and he was regarded as one of the greatest masters of language of the nineteenth century. I have heard of a distinguished professor who said that next to the authorized version of he Bible itself, there was no English in all the realm of English literature comparable to Spurgeon’s sermons. Then some little bit of a man — some little bit of a man, I cannot described him any other way — goes down to a meeting of unsuspecting folks in Port Hope, and says Professor Marshall is a student of language, and knows the meaning of words and therefore while meaning the same thing, speaks more accurately than Spurgeon! Really, I think I ought to send it in Punch! I never read anything funnier than that in my life.
What have we in the gospel? We have God’s remedy for sin. Christ died “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God”. I was speaking in Brantford this afternoon, and a gentleman got up to ask a question. He said, “Do you mean to tell me, sir, that Professor Marshall does not believe in the substitutionary work of Christ?” I said, “Will you tell you tell me first what you mean by the ‘substitutionary work of Christ’?” “His sacrifice in our behalf” he replied. “In what sense did He make a sacrifice in our behalf? What did He die to do for us?” “Well, He made it possible for you sins to be forgiven.” “Did He pay your debts?” I enquired. “Yes, sir,” “But,” I said, “Professor Marshall says He did not. Professor Marshall says, ‘I do not care for the idea of the word punished”. He objects to the penal element in the Atonement. Christ did not die to cancel our obligations to the law, according to Professor Marshall.” This gentleman asked a few questions, and at least said, “What difference does it make?”, and walked out. I said to the audience, “There goes McMaster University. That is what it always does. It will not stay and face the facts.”
This blessed old gospel does not need any amendment like the Constitution of the Baptist Convention! It will last for ever; from before the foundations of the world until He shall come again. (“Hallelujah!”) There is nothing that will meet your need like that gospel; nothing in the world touch our past like the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I had a thousand other things to say, but I suppose I have said enough, I have only touched two points: the question of the Scriptures, and of the Atonement. But you see the word of the Lord liveth and abideth for ever, and it is up-to-date; it is the most modern book in all the world; it is more up-to-date than last evening’s newspapers; it is a true mirror of human life. As I come to men and women this evening I know — and who does not know? — that we have no power to touch our yesterdays. And yet, men, you are what you are to-day because of your yesterdays. You cannot divorce your present character from your record; your yesterdays are incorporated in to-day; and what you are to-day will determine, unless God shall intervene, what you shall be to-morrow. But however firm your resolution, whatever human remedy might be proposed for the prevention of the soiling of tomorrow’s record, there is no one in the world who can turn the clock back; you cannot get back to Saturday when you have come to Sunday. You cannot un-write to-day what your sins wrote yesterday; and they are all open to the eye of Him with Whom we have to do.
Go to any court, and say when a man is charged with something he did yesterday. “But, sir, he is a respectable man to-day”, and see how far the law is influenced by that. I read of a case here in Toronto of a man living somewhere in the east end, married with a family, living an eminently respectable life, having turned over a new leaf. Nobody knew anything of his past, but the law did; and one day there came an officer of the law said, “We want you”. Go to his wife, and she will say, There never was a better husband; go to the children, and they will tell you there never was a better father; go to his employer, and he will tell you he was one of his best workmen; ask the neighbours, and they will say he was a good neighbour, a good citizen. But the law turns back the pages and says, “It is written in the book; he is a criminal; he is an ex-jailbird; he has escaped from the law.” The law knows no mercy, and the law demands justice. There was no escape; and the poor man was taken back again.
There was a man converted in Yonge Street Mission some years ago with whom Mr. Davis talked. The man said, “You do not know what it would mean to me if I were to confess Christ.” “What would it mean?” Mr. Davis asked. “I should have to go from this Mission to the police station. Thy have my fingerprints, they have my photography, they know all about me. I am wanted by the police of this Continent, and if I confess Jesus Christ. I should have to confess who I am.” But he did confess Christ. At last he went down on his knees and confessed Him as Savior and Lord; then went down to the police station and said, “I am one of the men you are looking for.” He was arrested and sent to the United States, and after a while Mr. Davis heard from him in Joliet Penitentiary, where he was placed. I think, to serve the balance of a twenty-year sentence. Mr. Davis shoed me a letter he received from him after he had returned to jail in which he had been used of God to lead others to Christ. But though he had been saved, though parted from his old life, the law would have none of it, the law said, “Pay me that thou owest.”
Was that right? Of course it was right. If you heard of the son of some wealthy Torontonian coming within the clutches of the law, having committed some great offence — if you were to hear that his father’s money and the promise of his father’s help had taken that boy out of the clutches of the law, you would say, “That is not fair. No matter how rich his father is, the law must be absolutely impartial, and must insist on payment of debt.” And God’s law does. If you doubt it, break any law of nature and see. Put your finger into the fire, and it will burn; take a drink of poison, and you will drop dead. You will need neither judge nor jury; it is written into the very constitution of things, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” The whole universe attests it. God cannot be God and forgive sin without its being punished; He must restore the moral equilibrium, He must balance the books; and the only way by which it can be done is by the death of Incarnate Deity. Christ died; and I say to you that whether you have come under the condemnation of the law or not, we have all come under the condemnation of the law of God. There is not a man or woman here who does not know that he or she dare not, on yesterday’s record, go into God’s holy presence with an expectation of being able to stand. The Son of God was “manifest in these last times for you”; and the only hope for any sinner in this last day, or nay other day, is the blood of Christ. There is no other gospel, — I should be, —
“Happy if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His name;
Preach Him to all, and cry in death,
‘Behold, behold the Lamb’.”
You have never seen Jesus Christ until you see Him as the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world. So fas as I am concerned, I am going to hold on to that gospel; I am going to preach that gospel; I am going to fight for that gospel, id need be, until He come, without any amendment. How many of you rejoice in it? I do not know how you feel about it, but there is nothing in the world that thrills my heart like the mention of the atoning work of Jesus Christ. I would rather die than surrender that, for there is no hope for this sinner, and no hope for any other sinner, expect through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. How many of you believe it, and rejoice in it, from personal experience? (A great host raised their hands).
Before we sing I am going to ask Dean Stockley to lead us in prayer that God the Holy Ghost may give grace and strength to any who have never yet confessed Christ, to confess Him tonight. While we bow Dean Stockley will lead us in prayer.
Dean Stockley: O God of infinite grace, our hearts rejoice in the wonderful provision which Thou hast made for our salvation. We bow in adoring love and wonder, to praise and magnify Thy holy name. We pray now that Thou wilt drive home the message that has been delivered to the hearts and consciences of those who have listened to this word. And should there be any here now who have been convicted by Thy Spirit, who are being persuaded by the enemy to hold back, and to come to no definite decision now, O Lord, break the spell of the enemy, and se them gloriously free. Help them now gladly to welcome Thee as their Savior, and then openly to confess Thee as Lord. Give courage to those who are faint-hearted and feeble. Make them strong to bear their testimony for Thee, make them not want to hide away in the crowd. May they come forth boldly and confess Thee. May those who have not yet been baptized, come out to follow Thy commandment, and to do Thy will. May those who have not joined any Christian church, join with those who are Thy people here. Lord, do a great work, we beseech Thee. May our prayers be abundantly answered. We ask it in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Amen.
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This article is re-typed and re-edited by B. Andrew Song for personal use and under the permission.