Sunday, June 7, 2015

Blame the Lord!

In the "Christian Doctrinal Advocate and Spiritual Monitor," edited and published by Elder Daniel E. Jewett, a leading "Old School" or "Hardshell" editor in the late 1830's and early 1840's, I found this interesting commentary from a circular from an "Old Baptist" association. Let me first give the entire citation and then make my observations.

"Now the sum of what we have written is this : whilst the New School Baptists, together with all the different orders of the anti-christian interest, may transgress the Laws of Christ with impunity, may change his ordinances, add to his commands, take from any of the prophecies of his book—the Old School Baptists, from the profession which they have made, are not at liberty to separate that which God has joined together, nor to prefer any of his commandments one above another, but to observe all things whatsoever he has commanded.

Holding as we do, brethren, the faith once delivered to the saints; and standing aloof from all other denominations in the world, it certainly becomes us, above all others, to see that we love one another with a pure heart fervently—to manifest that we are taught of God to love one another; and to give evidence of this by works of faith and labors of love in doing good unto all men, but, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

The letters from the churches, that have been read in our meeting, bring us the pleasing intelligence of the prevalence of peace and harmony among the brethren, but complain of coldness and barrenness in divine things. We believe however, that the Lord's set time to favor zion cannot be hastened, and although we feel inclined to pray for a manifestation of his presence in the churches, in building up the waste places of His Zion; yet we dare not resort to unscriptural and unauthorized measures to hasten that event. We would remember the experiment which our old mother Sarah made in days of old, to hasten the accomplishment of the Lord's promise, and from the effect thereof learn wisdom:—no mechanical efforts of ours can revive the Lord's work."
(Page 36)

Now, I recognize that success, like victory and safety, is "of the Lord" (Proverbs 21: 31 KJV); And, that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it," etc. (Psalm 127: 1); However, we cannot blame the Lord for our failures as the Hardshells are ever in the habit of doing. Certainly the above writer blames the Lord for the coldness and barrenness in their churches following their division with their brethren who supported missions. Rather than blaming the desolations on themselves, they rather blame the Lord, telling the people that it is cold and barren because the Lord has not chosen to bless them.

The Hardshell ministry is also infamous for this type of blame for their lack of preaching effectively. When they begin to preach they can be heard to caution their hearers with these words - "now brethren, I cannot preach except the Lord bless me to preach and we will hope and pray he will." Then, when they quit in miserable failure, they say "the Lord did not bless"!

What they ought to do is blame themselves for their "do nothing" attitude, for their own failure to study and prepare, and not blame the Lord.

I rather think the coldness and barrenness that the above circular alluded to is a result, not of God failing in his will to bless, but rather a failure of the Hardshells to do what God has said.
(This is a reprint from March 2, 2009 Baptist Gadfly blog)

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