Elders’ Journal, October 1837

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
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man believes the gospel or not, is to himself, his own concience, and to others, his confession.
But sir, how can this be, for you have just said, that with the world, it was hard telling whether they believed the gospel or not, because they know not what the gospel is. At the same time, ask them if they believe the gospel and they will readily answer in the affirmative. If then a man’s simple confession, is a correct criterion by which others may judge whether he is a believer or not, why do you say it is hard telling?
The fact is, there is such a thing as a mans deceiving, he may think he is believing the truth, when he is in an error. Was it not for this, your reasoning would be logical. This is demonstrated by the experience of thousands who were conscientious in causing their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, in being willingly crushed to atoms under the car of juggernaut, tearing their flesh with hooks &c. So it is with the world of christendom in in our day; they think they believe the gospel, and will readily acknowledge it when in fact they do not know what the gospel is, therefore, cannot believe it.
I am told I do not understand the office or proper work of the holy Spirit, nor Paul’s object in all he says about gifts, and am ignorant concerning what he means by the church being perfect, I shall therefore quote your instruction. If we can know what things are perfectly rational, there is nothing than believing, loving God enjoying or practicing religion.
Now, I infer from what you here say, that believing, loving God and practicing religion, is what Paul meant by the church being perfect. If so why did he speak of that perfection as yet to come, for all this was in the church already, and even before Paul was converted. You also say it can be already shown that the place where the church will be perfect is not in heaven or the state triumphant, because Paul says “then being no longer children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” &c. You add in heaven are no deceivers, nor wind of false doctrine.— Now dear sir, please look at the sentence again: you use the adverb then of time indefinite, in the place of henceforth of time future, which very materially alters the sense, or perverts the true meaning of the passage. As Christ had ascended up on high, led captivity captive and given gifts unto men, so henceforth they were no more children, as they were when under the law, subject to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, which was then in the world.— See Gal. 4:3. also turn your eye to the 17th verse of the 4th chap. of Eph— where Paul says I testify that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles in the vanity of their minds. You do not suppose the apostle intended they should wait until the church became perfect before they left walking as other Gentiles?
I am interogated to show where the holy Spirit was ever given, a man to make him believe, to increase his faith, or to make him enjoy religion. To the first I answer, faith comes by hearing and not by receiving the holy Spirit.— The Spirit is not given the infidel to beget faith, for the Savior has said “I will send you the comforter whom the world cannot receive.”
In reply to the second, I answer in the words of the apostles “we are his witnesses and so is the holy Spirit, which God hath given them that obey him.” Acts 5:32. Whereof the Holy Ghost is a witness to us &c. Heb. 10:15. The design of a witness, is to give additional evidence, and this naturally increases the faith of the believer. In a court of justice, we may believe the prisoner innocent or guilty from hearing a part of the evidence, but when positive evidence, which cannot be impeached is adduced, our faith is established, hence Paul says no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
The first christians believed the writings of the apostles and they promised them the gift of the holy Spirit, through obedience, and this was a witness to them & their faith was increased thereby. If they had not received it their confidence would have been diminished and they had reason to question the validity of the apostles’ testimony.— As the magicians of ancient times used to work miracles, so false prophets have done since the days of Christ, but that the saints might not be deceived, Jesus fulfilled his promise in giving [p. 14]
man believes the gospel or not, is to himself, his own concience, and to others, his confession.
But sir, how can this be, for you have just said, that with the world, it was hard telling whether they believed the gospel or not, because they know not what the gospel is. At the same time, ask them if they believe the gospel and they will readily answer in the affirmative. If then a man’s simple confession, is a correct criterion by which others may judge whether he is a believer or not, why do you say it is hard telling?
The fact is, there is such a thing as a mans deceiving, he may think he is believing the truth, when he is in an error. Was it not for this, your reasoning would be logical. This is demonstrated by the experience of thousands who were conscientious in causing their children to pass through the fire to Moloch, in being willingly crushed to atoms under the car of juggernaut, tearing their flesh with hooks &c. So it is with the world of christendom in in our day; they think they believe the gospel, and will readily acknowledge it when in fact they do not know what the gospel is, therefore, cannot believe it.
I am told I do not understand the office or proper work of the holy Spirit, nor Paul’s object in all he says about gifts, and am ignorant concerning what he means by the church being perfect, I shall therefore quote your instruction. If we can know what things are perfectly rational, there is nothing than believing, loving God enjoying or practicing religion.
Now, I infer from what you here say, that believing, loving God and practicing religion, is what Paul meant by the church being perfect. If so why did he speak of that perfection as yet to come, for all this was in the church already, and even before Paul was converted. You also say it can be already shown that the place where the church will be perfect is not in heaven or the state triumphant, because Paul says “then being no longer children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive,” &c. You add in heaven are no deceivers, nor wind of false doctrine.— Now dear sir, please look at the sentence again: you use the adverb then of time indefinite, in the place of henceforth of time future, which very materially alters the sense, or perverts the true meaning of the passage. As Christ had ascended up on high, led captivity captive and given gifts unto men, so henceforth they were no more children, as they were when under the law, subject to be tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, which was then in the world.— See Gal. 4:3. also turn your eye to the 17th verse of the 4th chap. of Eph— where Paul says I testify that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles in the vanity of their minds. You do not suppose the apostle intended they should wait until the church became perfect before they left walking as other Gentiles?
I am interogated to show where the holy Spirit was ever given, a man to make him believe, to increase his faith, or to make him enjoy religion. To the first I answer, faith comes by hearing and not by receiving the holy Spirit.— The Spirit is not given the infidel to beget faith, for the Savior has said “I will send you the comforter whom the world cannot receive.”
In reply to the second, I answer in the words of the apostles “we are his witnesses and so is the holy Spirit, which God hath given them that obey him.” Acts 5:32. Whereof the Holy Ghost is a witness to us &c. Heb. 10:15. The design of a witness, is to give additional evidence, and this naturally increases the faith of the believer. In a court of justice, we may believe the prisoner innocent or guilty from hearing a part of the evidence, but when positive evidence, which cannot be impeached is adduced, our faith is established, hence Paul says no man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
The first christians believed the writings of the apostles and they promised them the gift of the holy Spirit, through obedience, and this was a witness to them & their faith was increased thereby. If they had not received it their confidence would have been diminished and they had reason to question the validity of the apostles’ testimony.— As the magicians of ancient times used to work miracles, so false prophets have done since the days of Christ, but that the saints might not be deceived, Jesus fulfilled his promise in giving [p. 14]
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