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Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Interpreting the Scriptures-The Danger of Applying All Scripture to the Children of God
Interpreting the Scriptures-The Danger of Applying All Scripture to the Children of God PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sylvester Hassell   


The Gospel Messenger—February, 1894
This most pestilent innovation upon Primitive Baptist faith is perhaps the youngest and weakest of all the errors launched upon us in this conceited and degenerate and unbelieving age; I myself never heard of it nor read of it till three years ago. It is the child of Presumption and Philosophy, treats with equal contempt all the religious views of former generations and the most pointed declarations of the Inspired Scriptures, makes black white and white black by a dexterous system of expository legerdemain, and either makes the Bible a huge lie or inevitably leads to one of these three false and monstrous results-universal salvation, or universal damnation, or universal annihilation. It seems almost incredible that any sane and reverent mind can for a moment be so captivated and deceived by Satan as to believe that Cain, and Balaam, and Judas, and all the most horrible and diabolical criminals that ever lived on earth, were the children of God; that the elect and the non-elect, the penitent and the impenitent, the believing and the unbelieving, the loving and the hating, the obedient and the disobedient, the saved and the damned, are the very same persons; that election, and repentance, and faith, and love, and obedience, and salvation, as well as their opposites, are nothing but empty names; that words have no meaning; that the universe is only a delusive phantasmagory, containing nothing but shadows and dreams. Such false and ruinous systems of interpreting the Scriptures seem to me far more becoming to a lunatic asylum than a Primitive Baptist pulpit.

In regard to the parables of Christ, I am well aware that a few of our wisest brethren have, for a generation or so, somewhat differed in their views of some of the characters therein mentioned, and of course latitude may be allowed in such matters; but as for myself, I have no confidence in the greatly superior enlightenment of this pretentious century, and I decidedly prefer the plain old paths in religion to the misty new ones, and the old-fashioned, unsophisticated ways of interpreting the Scriptures to the new subtle ways; and I feel satisfied that there is a radical and essential distinction made by Divine grace between the humbled and penitent and returning younger brother and the angry, unforgiving and pharisaic elder brother, in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke xv. 11-32); between the good-ground hearers on the one side, and the wayside, the stony-ground, and the thorny-ground hearers, on the other side, in the parable of the sower (Matt. xiii. 1-23); between the wheat and the tares, in the parable of the tares (Matt. xiii. 24-30); between the good and the bad, the just and the wicked, in the parable of the draw-net (Matt. xiii. 47-50)-- "the kingdom of heaven" in verses 24 and 47 is plainly the visible and not the spiritual church; between the five wise and the five foolish virgins, in the parable of the virgins (Matt. xxv. 1-13); between the five and the two talent men, on the one hand, and the one talent man, on the other, in the parable of the talents (Matt. xxv. 14-30); just as there is certainly such a distinction between the sheep and the goats, the blessed and the cursed, in the description of the last judgment (Matt. xxv. 31-46); between the believing who are to be saved and the unbelieving who are to be damned (Mark xvi. 16); between the elect, and living, and believing, and loving, and obedient children of God--the vessels of mercy of Paul's epistle to the Romans--on the one hand, and the non-elect, and spiritually dead, and unbelieving, and hating, and disobedient children of the flesh--the vessels of wrath--on the other hand, who wilfully, greedily, and inexcusably sin against God, notwithstanding the light of nature which every intelligent and responsible human being has, suppressing and falsifying even the natural evidences, everywhere around them, of the being and perfections of God (read with especial care the first chapter of Romans, and compare it with 2 Tim iii; 1-5; Acts xiv. 15-17; xvii. 22-31 ; Job xii. 7-10; xxxviii.; xxxix.; Psalm xix. 1-4; Isa. xl. 26), and who shall at last stand justly condemned and silenced before God (Rom. iii. 19)--with one and a half exceptions (within the last three years) all our writing ministers have always thus explained the first chapter of Romans (by "a half" I mean that this minister applies the 18th and following verses of that chapter to both the elect and the non-elect--only one minister applying these verses entirely to the elect, and severely condemning all who do not agree with him in this novel view); between those who are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name, of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God, on the one hand, and the unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners, excluded from the kingdom of God, on the other hand (I Cor. vi. 9-11); between those in whose hearts shine the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, on the one hand, and the lost and unbelieving, who are blinded by the god of this world, on the other hand (2 Cor. iv. 3-6); between the beloved, believing, and obedient servants of God, on the one hand, and the false, and covetous, and adulterous teachers, who, after a vain and transient profession of godliness, relapsed into the sins from which, like the filthy dog and sow, their inward natures had never been cleansed, and whose last state, like that of the man out of whom the unclean spirit voluntarily went only for awhile, was worse than the first, on the other a hand (2 Pet. i. 1-11, iii. 14, 17; ii; Matt. xii. 43-45); between the righteous and holy, the blessed, the saved, who are written in the Lamb's book of life, the servants of God, having His name in their foreheads, delivered from the curse, entering into the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, and walking in its light, and reigning for ever and ever on the one hand, and the filthy and unjust, the false, dogs, sorcerers, whoremongers, murderers, and idolaters, shut out of the Holy City, on the other hand (Rev. xxi.; xxii). The fundamental and eternal distinction made between these opposite characters--the elect and the non-elect---by the grace of God, should never for a moment be forgotten or ignored (Mal. iii. 17; I Cor. iv. 7; Eccles. iii. 14; Psalm cxxxviii. 8; Philip i. 6).

This is a most lamentable perversion of the Scriptures, similar to the foregoing, and has been born among us in the present generation. If carried out to its full extent, it blots out all the past and all the future. If we are to believe nothing but what we have experienced, we will deny all the literal truth of Scripture history and Scripture prophecies of all the events that have not yet taken place, including the creation of the world out of nothing, the destruction of the world, first by water, and then by fire, the resurrection of the body, and the eternal realities of heaven and hell. It was exactly this species of heresy--pseudo (or false) spiritualism--that the Apostle Paul condemned in Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus (Tim. i. 19, 26; 2 Tim. ii. 16-18), as gangrenous and ruinous. These wise philosophers applied all that the Scriptures said about the resurrection to the mere spiritual rising of the soul from the death of sin, in present experience, and declared that the resurrection was already past--in other words, they, like the ancient Hindoo and Greek heathen philosophers regarding matter as the source of evil, denied the resurrection of the body, and with this denial, they overthrew the whole system of Christianity (I Cor. xv 16-23). And in the latter part of the apostolic age, the same spirit of heathen philosophy, considering matter essentially evil, denied that Christ came in the flesh, or was literally incarnate, but represented His birth, and life, and death as unreal and visionary, and this heresy was denounced by the Apostle John as antichrist (I John iv. 3). In the self-same manner heathen philosophy in the Primitive Baptist church today seeks to turn all the literal truths--especially all the future eternal truths--of the Scriptures into fables. Under the magic wand of a pretended spiritualization, the tremendous realities of the final resurrection and judgment, the everlasting happiness of the righteous, and the everlasting punishment of the wicked dissolve into the illusory and fleeting picture of the present momentary life. Such a pernicious system of interpretation is but the echo of the voice of Satan in the Garden of Eden, giving the lie to the word of God (Gen. ii. 17; iii. 4).

I do not mean, by anything that I have here said, to condemn the drawing of moral and spiritual lessons and illustrations for the guidance, warning, instruction and comfort of the people of God, from all the parables, and from all the literal truths, both past and future, of the Scriptures; but what I mean is to condemn uncompromisingly every denial of those truths.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 October 2006 )
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