Daniel Sommer Address Sand Creek
AN ADDRESS (By Daniel Sommer)
From Octographic Review [Published by Sommer], September 5, 1889
Transcribed April 11, 1995 by A. K. Guthrie from imperfect photocopy Missing or Illegible portions are indicated thus: [**]
See his agreement with the Bible and all of Church history: authority to know THE WILL OF GOD comes only from the Bible. What has not been commanded is not part of His expressed will.
The warning about fellowshiping with instrumentalists was based on the original basis of both groups. As well, a warning well taken is the propensity of the instrumentalists to take over property purchased by those who never in history thought of instruments in what Scripture and the Campbells called A School of Christ.
AN ADDRESS[The following address or speech was delivered by Daniel Sommer at the seventeenth annual or mass meeting held at the grove on Sand Creek in Shelby Co. Ills. August 18th, 1899, on which occasion not fewer than five thousand persons were present. In view of the important "Address and Declaration" which was read on that occasion by Elder P. P. Warren of the Sand Creek congregation in behalf of a community of Christians in Shelby and Moultrie counties, it has been deemed best to write out a condensed report of this speech of one hour and forty minutes for publication in the REVIEW.]
Three years have elapsed since I was with you in this grove on a similar occasion. In some of that period many changes have taken place, yet we are spared in God's good providence to meet again in the good purpose that has called us together. But as we are assembled and the Holy Volume is open before us, your attention is kindly invited to the scripture. I first read a familiar passage in John 20th chapter.
"Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of the Disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name." I also read Rom. 10:17.
"So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
These scriptures, my hearers, taken together clearly teach that the high and grand confidence called FAITH, which is necessary to salvation from sin, is proclaimed by the testimony of the word of God coming in contact with the mind of men. Whether the eye or the ear be the inlet of the testimony to the mind, yet it is true that the high and grand confidence necessary to salvation called FAITH is produced by the word of God.
Again, the domain of the divine testimony is the domain of FAITH. All that word of God declares we can believe; what the word does not declare we cannot believe.
Belief or faith is produced by the testimony of the word of God and not by inference. Inference may serve as a basis for an opinion, a supposition, a view, a notion or an idea, but inference cannot produce faith, nor serve as a foundation for faith.
Faith is a high degree of confidence that is produced by testimony. The faith that is necessary to give life through the name of Christ is produced by the testimony that is divine. Therefore, as was said, the domain of testimony determines the domain of faith. This being true, it follows that everything which the divine testimony reveals as the will of God and Christ we can believe to be their will.
But on the other hand, whatever is not revealed in the divine testimony no one can possibly believe to be the divine will. In other words, whatever the word of God declares with approbation we can believe has been or now is the will of God;
but whatever the word of God does not thus declare we not only DO NOT but we CANNOT believe has ever been or now is the will of God.
This discrimination between testimony and inference, and thus between faith and opinion has been the peculiar strength, clearness and power of the position occupied by the disciples of the Christ, as every disciple present today will doubtless confess.
Such a conclusion having been reached, let us examine a few scriptures as illustrations of what we can believe and should believe.
Heb. 11:6 is the first in order. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Acts 16:31 comes next. "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house."
In the light of these two declarations it is evident that we CAN believe and SHOULD believe that faith or belief in God and Christ is the divine will and necessary to salvation. WHY: The answer is, BECAUSE this is a matter of divine testimony. "He that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Again: "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Such is the testimony of the word of God and FAITH comes by the word of God.
I next read Luke 24:47. "And that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Following this comes Acts 17:30. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at (passed over); but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent." In the light of these statements it is evident that we CAN believe and should believe that our repentance is the divine will and is necessary to salvation. WHY? The answer is, BECAUSE it is a matter of divine testimony. That testimony mentions repentance in the great commission of Christ and in the preaching of that commission by an inspired apostle. Repentance is therefore required by the word of God, and that high, grand, necessary confidence called "faith" comes by the word of God.
The next scripture in order is Mark 16:16. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned." In addition to this I read Acts 2:38. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Here we find it clearly taught that we CAN and SHOULD believe it to be the divine will that faith and repentance and baptism precede the assurance of salvation from sin or the remission of sin. And here again we may ask WHY? The answer is simply BECAUSE clearly and evidently and unquestionably to this effect is the explicit divine testimony and hence the testimony of the word of God, by the which word that all-important confidence called FAITH is produced.
Again, I read in your hearing, and this time I go back to Matt. 10:32. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my father who is in heaven." Following this Rom. 10:10 is in order. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Such is the testimony on the subject of confession. But what does this teach? Certainly nothing less than that confession of faith in Christ is the divine will. WHY? The answer is, BECAUSE this is clearly set forth in the divine testimony, the which reveals the divine will. And, as we learned a while ago, that high and saving confidence called FAITH is produced by the divine testimony as found in the divine record. In other words, we learned that whether the eye or the ear becomes the inlet of the word of God, yet faith concerning the will of God is produced by the word of God.
Next I read Rom. 6:4. "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life." In harmony with this comes Col. 2:12. "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Concerning these declarations we simply remark, that they show that a burial in or by baptism is a matter of faith or belief because it is a matter of divine testimony. In other words, in the light of these two declarations, it is evident that all CAN and SHOULD BELIEVE that the baptism required of us is a burial and a resurrection. If the question be asked WHY? we simply answer--because it is so stated in the testimony of the word of God.
Now let us consider the negative side of this subject for a brief period. As faith comes by the word of God it is evident that no can believe that to be the will of God which is not mentioned with approbation in the Bible--the book of God. This being true no one on earth can believe that he can meet the divine approbation here and thus get to heaven hereafter without believing in Christ as God's Son. People may INFER, may suppose, may THINK, may have VIEWS or Notions or SPECULATIONS on the subject,
but they cannot have FAITH because they have no testimony in the word of God to that effect. That is to say, it is impossible for any one to believe that the divine favor can be secured or heaven attained without belief in the divinity of Christ, for the simple reason that it is impossible to believe anything to be will of God which is not mentioned and MENTIONED WITH APPROBATION in the word of God.
Next I mention the subject of repentance. Many have taught that repentance in course of this life is not necessary in order to reach heaven; but no one ever DID believe or ever CAN believe such teaching to be the will of God. The reason is found in this: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE WITHOUT TESTIMONY. That is to say, where there is no testimony there can be no faith. Hence, there is not a preacher of Universalism who believes that it is the will of God that he should preach such a doctrine. He may INFER , or SUPPOSE, or PRESUME in favor of his doctrine, but he cannot BELIEVE such a doctrine to be the will of God.
Besides there is not a member of the Universalist church anywhere on this earth who really BELIEVES that repentance in this life has nothing to do with his salvation beyond this life. The reason is, that he cannot possibly find testimony in the word of God which so declares, and FAITH or BELIEF as we have learned is produced by the divine testimony.
Next we come to the subject of confession. In many funeral discourses and by many compromising religionists it has been by implication and even explicitly declared, that confession of faith in Christ is not necessary in order to become a Christian, meet the divine approbation and get to heaven. But no one on earth ever did or ever can BELIEVE such teaching to be the will of God. WHY? The answer is, because there is no testimony to that effect. Not a fragment of the word of God so declares. Therefore no one can so believe. What is not revealed as the will of God no one can believe to be the will of God. Therefore secret discipleship, or that kind of a religious life which those live who are ashamed or afraid to confess the name of Christ before others--such discipleship no one on earth can believe to be the will of God. There may be inferences or suppositions but not FAITH.
Now we come to the disputed subject of baptism. Applying the well-established truth concerning the domain of faith or belief it becomes evident that no one on earth DOES or CAN believe that baptism is a non-essential to salvation, or that it is not necessary in order that the alien sinner may reach a state or condition where his sins are remitted. Multitudes have had INFERENCES, or OPINIONS, or VIEWS, or NOTIONS, or SUPPOSITIONS to that effect but not one ever had or ever can have that high confidence called FAITH. Besides, multitudes have taught that baptism is a "door into the church," "an outward sign of an inward work of grace," or "the first act after conversion," but none have ever believed thus concerning baptism, or believed that such teaching is a part of the divine will. WHY! The reason is, because none have ever found a fragment of scripture to that effect and belief or faith is produced or comes by the word of God.
Concerning the question of what constitutes baptism, the same is true. Many have taught and held that baptism does not necessarily require a burial and resurrection, but that it may be performed by sprinkling or pouring; but no one has ever thus BELIEVED or ever BELIEVED such teaching was the will of God. Multitudes have said that in order to be baptized it is not necessary to have much water or go down into the water or to be buried in baptism or come up out of the water or to be raised in baptism, yet no one ever believed such teaching to be the will of God. Of course these multitudes have had "inferences" and "opinions" and "views" and "suppositions" and "preferences," but not one of the entire company has had "faith" that such teaching ever was or ever will be the will of God. WHY? The answer is FOR WANT OF TESTIMONY.
In other words, whatever may be man's inferences, reasonings, suppositions or preferences, yet no one can believe that to be the will of God which is not mentioned with approbation in the word of God as revealed in the Bible, or rather, revealed to us as the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, then, it is evident that thus far the difference between disciples of Christ, and their religious neighbors are determined by the difference between TESTIMONY and INFERENCE, and between BELIEF or FAITH and OPINION or SUPPOSITION.
In other words, in advocating simply what is revealed on the subjects mentioned we stand on the DIVINE TESTIMONY by which FAITH or BELIEF is produced, while those who oppose us on these subjects stand on HUMAN INFERENCE by which OPINION or SUPPOSITION is produced. All that we advocate on these subjects is a matter of divine testimony and thus is a matter of belief or faith, while all that our religious neighbors advocate in opposition to us on these subjects is not a matter of divine testimony and hence not a matter of belief or faith, but being of human inference certainly belongs to the domain of opinion or supposition or view or preference. NO ONE CAN BELIEVE THAT TO BE THE WILL OF GOD WHICH IS NOT ATTESTED WITH APPROBATION IN THE WORD OF GOD.
Now let us enter upon another chapter of this subject. In so doing I again read. Acts 11:26 is first suggested. I read the last sentence. "And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Next comes Acts 26:28. "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Finally I read on this point 1 Pet 4:10. "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this behalf." In the light of such scripture
it is evident that we all can and should believe that the name "Christian" is the proper name of those who have obeyed the gospel.
WHY? Simply because this is a matter of divine testimony. If it can be said that such name was given the primitive followers of the Savior by their enemies, I answer by reading Eph. 3:14,15. "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and on earth is named." This settles the question concerning who named the divine family on earth.
Therefore, though may people may have inferences, views, opinions or suppositions to the effect that Christ's enemies gave his people the name "Christian," yet no one on earth can so believe, because to that effect THERE IS NO TESTIMONY. What disciples teach on this subject is a matter of divine testimony and hence is a matter of faith.
Next I read a short sentence in Rom. 16:16. "The churches of Christ salute you." Without going father that shows that we
all can believe that the body of Christians in any given place should be called the "Church of Christ." The reason is evident.
Here we have "churches of Christ," and as the plural form of the word--"churches"--certainly embraces the singular form of the word--"church"--it becomes very evident that "Church of Christ" is a scriptural designation for those who are "Christians" in any given locality. What is a matter of testimony is thus a matter or faith or belief, and we all can and should believe that to be the will of God which is with approbation mentioned in the Book of God.
Now your attention is invited to 1 Tim. 3:15,16. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." With this before our minds we need no argument to prove that the word of God as found in the inspired volume is clearly and evidently sufficient without manmade creeds.
But WHY is no argument needed? For the simple reason that the all-sufficiency of the inspired word to perfect the man of God and thoroughly furnish him unto all good works is a matter of divine testimony. We can believe that such an estimate of the divine word is the divine will, because it is a matter of divine testimony.
But now let us again take up negative side of this question in order to ascertain what we CANNOT BELIEVE concerning the important items just mentioned. Multitudes who profess to be Christians permit themselves to be called by some other name or names than those mentioned in the gospel with approbation. They seem not to have learned the self-evident truth that "all who are Christians will be satisfied with being called Christians;" and hence they adopt human names as religious designations. But they cannot BELIEVE such a course to be the divine will. WHY NOT? For the simple lack of divine testimony.
Belief or faith is a positive something, and thus belief or faith concerning the divine will can only be produced by positive divine testimony. Of course the multitudes wearing human names as religious designations may infer or suppose or think or presume that they are all right, but that is even opposed to the divine testimony as found in Paul's writings. I read in 1 Cor. 1st chapter "Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"
The reason why Paul asked these questions was that some in Corinth were calling themselves after his name and after the names of Apollos and Cephas. Then in 1 Cor. 3:3,4 that same apostle wrote thus:
"For ye are yet carnal; for whereas there is among you envying and strive and divisions, are ye not carnal and walk as men. For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?"
With these scriptures before the mind it is evident that for Christians to call themselves by humanly given names is not only without divine testimony in their favor,
but it is contrary to the divine testimony on the subject. The language just cited shows that Christians have no right to wear humanly given names as religious titles, and no one on earth can BELIEVE that naming and wearing such names is conduct in harmony with the divine will. Of course, if people be not Christians, then they should not wear the name Christian, but some other name suitable to their true characters. Yet it is evident that humanly given or assumed religious names for Christians is wrong, and though people may infer, presume, suppose and opine that it is all right, yet it is impossible for them to BELIEVE that it is the will of God for Christians to be guilty of such conduct.
See that the Bible and history agrees with the fact that the church of body of Christ should be identified as The Church of Christ. "Christian" defines the name of a baptized DISCIPLE. Church is really ekklesia which is the School of the Bible with God in Christ the Spirit being the SOLE teacher through His Word. His appeal is to the twos and threes to "come learn of me." An institution cannot be a church. When other terms are used such as "church of God" it is also stated "which are in Christ."
Now we come to consider the names of Churches. Humanly given and humanly assumed names are numerous, and the good people who have assumed them and are wearing them may infer and suppose and hold and presume that they are acceptable to God, but they cannot so BELIEVE. No one can BELIEVE that which is not mentioned with approbation in the Book of God.
And there can be no law to that effect because there is not one fragment of testimony to that effect.
The testimony is all in the other direction and on the other side.
Christ is the Head of the Church and as the head of every family determines the name of that family so in reference to the Church of Christ. Therefore to believe that the Church which consists of Christians may wear some humanly given name and yet the divine name be maintained is UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE. WHY? For the simple reason that there is no vestige of testimony to that effect.
The creed question comes next. On creeds, there is no such thing as belief or faith that man-made creeds or confessions of faith are in harmony with the will or are well-pleasing to God. Lack of testimony is the reason. Though multitudes hold to such creeds or confessions, yet it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe that they meet the divine approbation.
People may think, presume, suppose, reason, speculate to the effect that they are all right and that God is or will be pleased with them, but belief to that effect is impossible. Those who hold to human creeds or hold that they are necessary not only DO NOT but CAN NOT believe that such documents are pleasing to God, or that they meet the divine approbation. WHY NOT? The answer is, BECAUSE there's not one fragment of testimony that so declares.
Neither can people believe that it is the will of God that they should sprinkle water on infants and call it baptism, nor sit on a mourner's bench or anxious seat, or teach the listeners that religion is something to get and lose and get and lose time and again. WHY NOT? Simply because there is no testimony which so instructs, and without testimony it impossible to have faith.
Thus far, my hearers, we have considered the difference between disciples and their religious neighbors and we have in every instance
found that difference to consist of the difference between testimony and faith or belief on the one hand,
and inference and opinions or supposition on the other.
In other words, wherein we differ from them is because we insist upon having the clear testimony of the word of God which produces that high grand confidence, called "faith"
while our religious neighbors, on all the points thus far mentioned endeavor to justify themselves with inference, the which at its best cannot produce faith, but can only produce an opinion or supposition.
Here then is the great distinction briefly set forth.
WE insist upon heeding the divine testimony which produces faith,
while THEY endeavor to be guided with inference which can only produce an opinion or supposition.
But they should remember that Paul declared in Heb. 11:6, "Without faith it is impossible to please him," and in Rom. 14:23 he said, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Therefore all those who suppose that they can get to heaven upon inference, opinion, supposition, presumption--all such are trying a dangerous terrible experiment. They should bear in mind that is by faith and obedience of faith that they are to be saved and not by inferences, opinions, preferences, presumptions or anything of that character.
Now, my hearers, we come to another chapter of this great subject. Thus far we have been considering the differences between disciples and their religious neighbors as it respects the great subject of faith, and thus far I have set forth what every disciples understands and admits.
The discrimination between faith and opinion, and between testimony and inference is generally well understood by disciples of Christ everywhere when we speak of the strength of our position and the weakness of the position of our religious neighbors.
But now I propose to consider this same discrimination in its bearings upon the differences which exist among disciples. In other words,
I propose to show that the very discrimination, which made us a great, a mighty and a prosperous people
have been abandoned by a certain class of disciples who have been guilty of introducing humanisms into the work and worship of the church,
whereby strife, alienation and division have been produced.
By way of beginning in this direction I read first from Acts 20:28. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood." This language of Paul to the elders of Ephesus is an illustration or sample of the scriptures which enable us to believe that the flock or church of God at Ephesus was presided over by a plurality of bishops or overseers. The "church" is spoken of--not churches--and yet "overseers" are spoken of, showing that there were more than one. In the light of such a declaration we CAN believe and we SHOULD believe that a plurality of bishops or overseers were intended to be the feeders of the primitive flock and the watchers over the flock. Not that a little assembly of a dozen or even twice or thrice that number needed to have a plurality of bishops for the end in view or the work to be performed determined the number needed. But the Church at Ephesus, which was well established and was of size and strength, had a plurality of overseers whose business it was to feed the flock and watch over the flock and care for the flock. As all the other testimony of the New Testament is in harmony with this which has just been considered, I again say that we CAN believe and SHOULD believe that a plurality of bishops, at least for every church needing that many, was the original, divine order. Then, on the other hand, no one can possibly believe that it is the will of God that this order should be even partially ignored and the modern, imported, one-man, preacher-pastor established over the church or flock of God as the feeder and watcher thereof. WHY? the answer is because,--BECAUSE there is no testimony in the New Testament to that effect. The denominations generally have adopted the one-man pastorate, but only upon INFERENCE--certainly not upon TESTIMONY. Therefore it is not upon FAITH but upon OPINION or SUPPOSITION that it is based.
In the entire Book of God there is not one fragment of TESTIMONY in favor of the imported, one-man, preacher-pastor as the feeder and watcher over the flock after it had been gathered and established.
Therefore, there is no one on earth who BELIEVES that such an arrangement is according to the divine will.
That arrangement originated with apostate Rome, and from Rome was borrowed by the Protestant denominations, and from them has been borrowed by a certain class of disciples who are determined to be like other folks and be in the fashion.
Concerning the preacher the testimony is, that his business is to gather a flock, establish it and then move onward, or visit a church, proclaim the truth for a season, forewarn the brethren against all manner of evil and false teachers and move onward.
Paul and Barnabas, I have sometimes thought, were a little inclined to pastorate at Antioch. The Church there was well established and no doubt it was a pleasant place to remain--good company and good eating. Not much danger there of missing a meal in traveling. As Acts 11:26 informs us, that they assembled a whole year with the church in that place.
But the Holy Spirit said, "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them."
Then the brethren unto whom such revelation was made fasted, prayed, laid hands on them and SENT THEM AWAY.
This shows what every church should do with every man who can preach. Send him away--let him go forth and proclaim the unsearchable riches in the regions beyond.
Of course it is more pleasant to remain at home if he have a good wife, and if she be a good cook and a good housekeeper, yet as certainly as that he is worthy of being called a preachers he should be sent AWAY with the benediction, blessing and support of the church.
That this is the divine will we CAN believe and SHOULD believe without doubt, because we have the divine testimony to that effect.
But to believe that the preacher should settle down upon an established congregation and locate himself and do the work of feeding intended to be done by the overseers--
to believe this is UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE,
because there is not one fragment of testimony to that effect.
There may be INFERENCE and thus OPINION or SUPPOSITION,
but there can be no FAITH, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Next I will read Eph. 3:10, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly [high] places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God."
In the light of this declaration we can and should believe that the church in its congregational capacity is the divinely arranged missionary society.
Other statements might be introduced as found in the record such as Philippians 4:15-1-18, and 2 Cor. 11:8, but as all are in harmony with what I read in Eph. 3rd chapter there is no need to pile up evidence.
The testimony declares that by THE CHURCH the Lord proposed to make known the unsearchable riches of Christ, and hence THE CHURCH is God's own, divinely arranged missionary society to send out and support preachers--all this we can believe to be the divine will because it is a matter of divine testimony.
But, on the other hand, there is no one living who does or can believe that it is God's will that besides and beyond and outside the congregation as established under the divine direction--I say there is no one who can believe that it is God's will that beyond the church there should be organized a man-made missionary society with presidents, secretaries, boards of managers, life membership, life directorship and so forth on a money basis which would shut out Christ and, a great proportion of time, the apostles of Christ.
Yet, my hearers, these modern societies would shut Christ out if he were here on earth now as when he moved among men in course of his personal ministry. He had not even sufficient money to pay his personal tax, but sent Peter fishing in order to get the money.
And were he here now he would have to send Peter fishing in order to get money enough to have membership in a modern, man-made missionary society.
Besides, when Peter and John went up into the temple at the hour of prayer, as mentioned in Acts 3rd chapter Peter could say, "Silver and gold have I none," and it is certain that he had no greenbacks nor any other kind of money.
Hence with their pocket books thus empty they could not become members nor directors of a modern man-made missionary society without a suspension of rules.
This of itself stamps the entire society business as condemnable. But the point I with especially to impress on your minds is,
that no one on earth does or can believe such a society to be the divine will on that subject,
for the simple reason there is not one fragment of testimony to that effect.
For want of testimony, belief or faith is simply impossible. Of course, there are inferences and opinions, reasonings and suppositions, views, notions and preferences,
but there is no faith and there can be no faith, and the apostle Paul declared, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
Now your attention, my hearers, is invited to Rom. 12:8. "Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation; he that giveth let him do it with simplicity." This clearly shows that giving is not to be done in complicity or complexity, but in simplicity.
The Greek word translated "simplicity" here means also "sincerity, purity or probity of mind"--then "liberality as arising from simplicity and frankness of character."
Haplotes (g572) hap-lot'-ace; from 573; singleness, i.e. (subj.) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (obj.) generosity (copious bestowal): - bountifulness, liberal (-ity), simplicity, singleness.
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 2Co.8:2
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2Co.11:3
Thus as we are to give with simplicity we should not adopt the complex or complicated or roundabout way, but the simple, direct way
which consists of working and saving till we have something in our pockets for the Lord's cause and then to put the hand directly into our pockets and hand it out.
The difference between the simple and complex way of giving I will illustrate by way of an actual occurrence in the State of Ohio. A young sister approached one of the elderly members of the church making a subscription of five dollars to get up a festival, for they wished to put new curtains, carpet and such like things in the meeting house, as memory now serves me.
That elderly member refused. Then the young sister began to plead thus: "Why, Bro. Hill, we thought surely you would help us." He answered: "No, my young sister, I cannot give you five dollars nor any other sum to get up a festival, but I will do this:
I will give you ten dollars not to have the festival, but to help you get what you think you should get for the meeting house in the plain, direct and simple way."
The young sister was delighted with the idea, and after taking Bro. Hill's name for ten dollars she started and raised the money in a short time without the festival, and thus without one particle of the complex or complicated way of giving.
This was in harmony with the teaching found in Rom. 12:8, which enjoins those who give to do it with "simplicity." But the point I wish specially to impress is that giving in the simple, direct way we all can believe and should believe to be the divine will on the subject, because that is a matter of divine testimony.
On the other hand, it is impossible for any one to believe the modern, humanly-devised methods of raising money to be according to the divine will,
because there is not one particle of testimony which thus declares.
Let us enter upon an examination of some of these modern methods of raising money and we shall find they are in direct opposition to the divine will, and they impeach the Lord Jesus Christ as the great Head of the Church. I read 1 Tim. 5:8. "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." Now, when we see a man's family begging, it implies one of three things--either the man has not provided suitable support for his family or else that family is too proud to be satisfied with that which is suitable or too stingy to make use thereof. Just so it is with the church that goes begging--either Christ who is the Head of his Church as a family has not provided what is suitable or sufficient for us, or we are too proud to be satisfied with his provisions, or, we must be too mean and stingy to use the provisions which he has given. The first of these alternatives is fatal to Christ and impeaches him as not having provided for his family, and the second and third alternatives is fatal to us and bring us under condemnation. Yet the church is in many places made like the man-made missionary society--a shameless, begging institution. Society advocates have taxed their ingenuity in order to devise devices and arrange arrangements to get money. They have gotten up a little earthen something in the shape of a jug, about the size of a man's fist, and this they have given to their children. Each child has received a jug with a piece of paper pasted on whereon was printed the word "Missionary." Thus equipped the dear little folks have gone on their begging expedition--begging from any body and from everybody for missionary money to send the gospel to the heathen. Then at a certain date, these jugs are all brought together and there is advertised a jollification at the time of the breaking of the little brown jugs. As time advanced the jugs became an old thing and they devised the "missionary egg," and from that to the "missionary barrel" used on the same principle as the jug was used. Thus the little children are encouraged to become a set of bold-faced shameless beggars.
Many of the churches--those in the towns and cities mostly--have adopted similar unauthorized measures to raise money for home purposes. Fairs and festivals, pound parties and box-suppers are common in order to get money from the children of the Devil to pay the Lord's debts! How humiliating and contemptible this is! As some of you may not understand the box-supper business I will explain.
The women and girls of the church and out of the church--just as many as see fit--married and single, young girls and old girls, each one will cook a supper for two and put it in a box or basket, and in connection therewith will put her own name.
Then each box or basket is put up at auction to the highest bidder for cash. As all men are invited it is evident that the man who buys the supper which a virtuous wife or daughter prepared--that man may be a gambler, a drunkard, or a libertine, or he may be all of these; yet because her name is in the basket or box which he has bought she must go and eat supper with that wretch and entertain him!
Is this obeying the injunction "Come out from among them and be ye separate saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing."
Then the weighing scheme is another device. It is managed thus: They get up a supper and bring all the women they can together and weigh them, or "guess them off" as cattlemen would say. Then the name of each woman with her weight is put in the box and all are shaken up together. Then the men and boys come up and each takes out one name, and the one wearing that name is taken out to supper, and whatever the weight of the woman or girl is whose name he draws that determines how much he must pay for the supper than she and he together may eat. A half cent a pound is the ordinary rate, and at one of those gatherings a boy perhaps not more than just out his teens drew the name of a woman weighing about three hundred pounds. [This weight scheme was not in the verbal address, but is here inserted because it illustrates that shame deems dismissed from the minds and hearts and lives of innovators.]
Such, my hearers, and such like are the shameless schemes of a certain class of disciples who endeavor to twist money out of the pockets of worldlings to support what they call "the Lord's cause."
They appeal to the appetites of the sinners to come and eat with the saints for the sake of the Lord's cause. A brother told me of a sensible woman who was urged to come to a certain church festival because of the many good things they were going to have to eat, and who responded saying, "I don't believe in eating so much for God's sake."
Nor does the Lord require of his people that they should tempt the appetites of sinners or any one else, often at unseasonable hours, in order to support his cause. But there is something else in this matter which constitutes a great charm.
A preaching brother in Ohio was being told by a young lady of a certain festival and how much they made. Being a business man, he began to inquire how must the festival cost in money and time.
Having figured it all up and showed her that they had made but little. "That may be so," she exclaimed, "but, then, we had a lot of fun?" ["That's the idea--they want FUN"--Elder P. P. Warren.]
Yes, in this confession, my hearers, lies a prominent secret. The people generally wish to get to heaven, but along the pathway to life eternal, they wish to have an abundance of fun, frolic and nonsense. Sober mindedness if dismissed and with a kind of "hip-hurrah--here we go--Bible or no Bible," they proceed. But what I wish to say concerning this entire business is, that it is outside of the domain of faith because it is outside the domain of divine testimony. No one can believe that to be the will of God which is not mentioned with approbation in the Book of God. But in this book it is declared, "Whatever is not of faith is sin."
But the music question must not be forgotten. I read Eph. 5:19. "Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." I also read Col. 3:16. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
In the light of such teachings we can certainly believe without the slightest doubt that singing is part of the worship and that it is the will of the Lord that we should teach in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. This we can believe without question, because this much is clearly set forth in the divine testimony.
But no one ever did or ever can believer that it is the Lord's will to play on an instrument in the worship.
No one on earth can possibly believe that playing of any kind is a part of the worship of God through Christ, nor that it SHOULD or even MAY accompany the worship without offending Christ.
There may be inferences, opinions, views, notions, suppositions, but there can be no such confidence as the word "faith" signifies. "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
While this subject is in hand it becomes us to pause and give it a concise examination. The law given through Moses on Mt. Sinai was finished and instrumental music in connection with the worship of God was not mentioned.
How then did it get into the worship of the Jews?
The answer is that it was introduced by David who was the second of the Kings.
Then by turning to 1 Sam. 8th chapter we learn that when Israel first asked for a king God said that they had rejected him that he should not reign over them.
That was God's interpretation of their conduct. So, then, to say the least, the Israelites were in a backsliding condition from that date onward,
and it was while they were in this backslidden state that instrumental music was introduced into the worship of the Jews.
Coming to the New Testament we find that the gospel was given and finished without instrumental music in the worship of the church. Singing is found, but no playing on an instrument.
Where then do we find it? The answer is, DOWN ALONG THE PATHWAY OF THE APOSTASY. According to certain statements, about thirteen hundred years had elapsed before instrumental music was even introduced into the worship of the church of Rome. Certainly it can be traced not only to Rome, but to the most corrupt age of the Romish church.
From that church Protestants have borrowed the instrument and from Protestant a certain class of disciples have done some borrowing.
So then, the law given through Moses says of instrumental music in the worship IT IS NOT IN ME and the gospel of Christ says IT IS NOT IN ME.
This shows that no one on earth can possibly BELIEVE that the instrument in the church of Christ ever was according to the will of Christ.
Besides, as it is an addition to the worship and is an element of discord it is certainly contrary to Christ's will.
Some say that it drowns discord, but they should say that it produces discord. It is a strife and discord breeding device.
It has caused strife, contention, alienation and division among the people of God. Furthermore, a headless, heartless, soulless, voiceless instrument certainly cannot teach because it cannot utter a word.
It blurs and obliterates teaching. Some year ago I was in Cincinnati and heard a great pipe organ. The tones were so deep and loud that I could not hear the man next to me and could not tell except by the book what was being sung.
As I have several times said, I could not tell except by the book whether they were singing,
"There is a fountain filled with blood," or, "The girl I left behind me."
I could not tell whether they sang, "Come let us anew, Our journey pursue:"
or, "Old Mother Flannigan, She's gone to Michigan."
In other words, the great, deep-toned organ so slurred and blurred and drowned the human voices that no one could distinguish whether they were singing in English, Dutch or Sanskrit. Such music makes teaching by means of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs simply impossible and thus it is evident that it contravenes or comes in conflict with what is divinely authorized.
But this is not all. If those who are offended at the organ were the weakest, most ignorant and least to be esteemed in the church (which they are not),
yet even then it would be a sin to offend them by making an unauthorized instrument a test of fellowship, as is done whenever the organ is put into the meetinghouse and used in connection with the worship, since none can then worship there without seeing it and hearing it--
I say, when such a course is pursued, even if those opposing the organ were the least and the most ignorant, yet that course would be sinful in the sight of heaven.
I read 1 Cor. 8:12, "But when ye sin so against the brethren and wound their weak conscience ye sin against Christ." I also refer you also to Matt. 25th chapter where the Savior said, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren ye did it unto me."
This shows beyond controversy that multitudes are in danger of being finally rejected because in this life they have persistently sinned against Christ in sinning against his brethren.
In conclusion on this point I mention again that in favor of the organ in the worship there may be inferences, opinions, views, nothings, preferences
but there is not faith that it is the will of Christ that it should be used in connection with the worship. But "whatever is not of faith is of sin."
Here I pause to meet a few objections. When we reason with innovators on these questions they often turn upon us and ask, "Where do you get your meeting house?" A so-called "state evangelist" of Ohio once asked me that question. I answered,
"We find the meeting house in the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians where mention is made of the 'one place' where the church met, and that 'one place' was separate from the houses where they ate and drank."
Sunerkhomai , . come together, be united or banded together, “es tōuto” Hdt.4.120; philos philō es hen s.
fut. III. of things, to be joined in one, “sunerkhomen' eis hen” Emp.17.7; kharis keinou te soi kamou x. S.Tr.619; tap' emou te kapo sou es hen x. E.Tr.1155; “s. eis hen”
That closed his mouth. "But" said an Indiana preacher, "where do you get your lamps and stoves?" I answered "We find authority for them in the scriptures."
Then I proceeded thus: "And there were many lights in the upper chamber where they were gathered together." Acts 20:8. This settles the "lamp" question.
Next I referred to 1 Cor. 3:17 which says, "If any man defile the temple of God him shall God destroy;" also 1 Cor. 6:19, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, which temple ye are?"
I then mentioned that if it were condemnable to defile the body or temple of God, it certainly would be condemnable to freeze the temple of God. Therefore we must have heat.
Then by turning to John 6:12, we find "Gather up the fragments that nothing be lost." The principle of economy shows that we should have heat upon the most economical principles--that nothing be lost. This settles the matter, and thus, if time permitted, we could answer every objection which the ingenuity of innovators could suggest. But this much has been mentioned only parenthetically.
Returning now to our original theme, I call heaven and earth, men and angels to witness that the discrimination between testimony and inference, and between faith and opinion--this discrimination which made disciples a great and a mighty and a separate people--this discrimination which has given us our peculiar strength and power as teachers of the religious and irreligious world--
I say that I call heaven and earth, angels and men to witness that THIS DISCRIMINATION HAS BY INNOVATORS AMONG DISCIPLES BEEN ABANDONED.
Do not infer that I mean it has been abandoned by them in every particular, but rather in relation to their innovations. While dealing with their religious neighbors they declare the difference between testimony and inference, and the difference between faith and opinion.
But when they come to the worship and work of the church they make matters of inference, and thus matters of opinion, tests of fellowship by thrusting them in upon peaceable churches, so that none can worship or work with them except by practically adopting their devices.
They have in some instances even gone so far as to exclude men and women who would persist in opposing their matters of opinion. As a result they are responsible for all the evils that now afflict us as a people in consequence of the introduction among us of things unauthorized by the New Testament.
We therefore lay down before and against our modern school brethren who have acted the part of innovators among us on the following charges.
They are responsible for every restless, sleepless night and unhappy day that has been spent by the humble disciples of Christ by reason of innovations being thrust upon the church.
We likewise charge upon and against our modern school of innovating brethren that they are responsible for all tears that have been shed by loyal Christians on account of human devices being urged upon them.
We also charge that our innovating brethren are responsible for all the angry and unchristian words and actions that have been occasioned by their innovations for the last twenty-five years.
We further charge upon them and against them that they are accountable for all the strifes and alienations and deviations which have resulted from their endeavors to modernize and secularize the worship and work of the church.
We likewise charge against them that they are responsible for every individual disciple who has become discouraged and has gone back to the world, and for every opportunity to save souls which the church has lost by reason of the confusions which have been thrust upon the church by human devices.
We also charge that they are accountable before earth and heaven for the entire expenditure of time and strength and money which has been made in this entire controversy from the beginning to the present time and until the end may come.
We finally charge upon and against our innovating brethren that they are responsible for all the bickerings and feuds, griefs and lamentations, heart-burnings and heart-breakings which has resulted from the introduction among us of human devices which are not mentioned in the word of God--not authorized by our King--but which they have borrowed from the denominations of Protestantism and from the world.
What then must be done by those who are determined to remain loyal to Christ? Shall we be longer held responsible for the misconduct, and in many respects shameful misconduct, of our erring brethren who refuse to be admonished?
When they determined to have their devices if they had only left the established congregations in peace and had gone out into new fields and built up churches,
they would have acted with some honor.
But instead of so doing they have thrust their devices upon congregations established upon primitive simplicity, and thus have become usurpers of other men's labors. We were once a happy and a peaceful and a prosperous people and for peace we pled.
We entreated them for God's sake and for the love of heaven not to thrust their devices upon us, but they would not hearken. WHAT THEN MUST BE DONE? In the language of the Apostle Peter I answer: "THE TIME IS COME THAT JUDGEMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD."
(Elder P. P. Warren then took the stand and addressed the audience)
ADDRESS AND DECLARATION
By the Congregations Represented by Their Respective Church Officers in a Mass-meeting Assembled at Sand Creek, Shelby Co., Ill., August 17, 1889
To All Those Whom It May Concern, Greeting:
You doubtless know that we, as disciples of Christ, with scarcely an exception, many long years ago took the position that in matters of doctrine and practice, religiously, "
Where the Bible speaks we speak, and where the Bible is silent we are silent."
Further, we held that nothing should be taught, received or practiced religiously, for which we could not produce a "Thus saith the Lord."
And doubtless, many of you also know that, as long as the above principles were constantly and faithfully observed, we were a prosperous and happy people. Then we were of one heart and of one soul; we lived in peace and prospered in the things pertaining to the kingdom of God and the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then what was written as doctrine and for practice was taught and observed by the disciples of Christ. And it may not be amiss in this connection to say that many--yes, very many--in the sectarian churches saw the beauty, consistency, and the wonderful strength and harmony, in the plea as set forth by the disciples for the restoration of primitive or apostolic Christianity in spirit and in practice, and so came and united with us in the same great and godly work.
It is, perhaps, needless for us to add, in this connection, that we, as a people, discarded all man-made laws, rules, disciplines and confessions of faith as means of governing the Church. We have always acknowledged, and do now acknowledge, the all-sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures to govern us as individuals and as congregations. And as an apostle has said: "All Scripture is given us by the inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
And now, please to allow us to call attention to some painful facts and considerations. There are among us those who do teach and practice things not taught or found in the New Testament, which have been received by many well-meaning disciples, but rejected by those more thoughtful, and in most instances better informed in the Scriptures, and who have repeatedly protested against this false teaching and those corrupt practices among the disciples.
Some of the things of which we hereby complain, and against which we protest, are the unlawful methods resorted to in order to raise or get money for religious purposes, viz: that of the church holding festivals of various kinds, in the house of the Lord, or elsewhere,
demanding that each participant shall pay a certain sum as an admittance fee;
the use of instrumental music in the worship;
the select choir, to the virtual, if not the real, abandonment of congregational singing.
Likewise the man-made society for missionary work, and the one-man, imported-preacher pastor to feed and watch over the flock. These, with many other objectionable and unauthorized things, are now taught and practiced in many of the congregations, and that to the great grief and mortification of some of the members of said congregations.
And now, brethren, you who teach such things and such like things, and those who practice the same, must certainly know that they are not only not in harmony with the gospel but are in opposition thereto. You surely will admit that it is safe, and only safe, to teach and practice what the divine record enjoins upon the disciples. To this none can reasonably object. This is exactly what we want and for which we contend.
And now we may say that we beg of you that you turn away speedily and at once from such things, and remember that though we are the Lord's freemen, yet we are bound by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that it is by keeping his commandments, and not the commandments of men, that we have the assurance of his approval. Therefore, brethren, without addressing you further by using other arguments, and without going further in detailing those unpleasant and, as we see them, vicious things,
you must allow us, in kindness and in Christian courtesy, and at the same time with firmness, to declare that we can not tolerate the things of which we complain, for if we do we are (in a measure, at least) blamable ourselves. And let it be distinctly understood this address and declaration is not made in any spirit of envy or hate or malice, or any such thing.
But we are only actuated from a sense of duty to ourselves and to all concerned; for we feel that the time has fully come when something of a more definite character ought to be known and recognized between the Church and the world. Especially is this apparent when we consider the scriptural teaching on the matters to which we have herein referred. Such, for instance, is the following:
"Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."
It is, therefore, with the view, if possible, of counteracting the usages and practices that have crept into the churches that this effort on the part of the congregations hereafter named is made. And now, in closing up this address and declaration, we state that we are impelled from a sense of duty to say that all such as are guilty of teaching or allowing and practicing the many innovations and corruptions to which we have referred, after having had sufficient time for meditation and reflection, if they will not turn away from such abominations, that we can not and will not regard them as brethren.
P. P. Warren, A. J. Nance, Daniel Baker, J. P. K. Rose, James Warren,
Officers of Sand Creek Church.
Randolph Miller, Charles Erwin, W. K. Baker, Wm. Cozier,
Officers of Liberty Church
Wm. R. Storm, Ash Grove Church
J. H. Hagan, Union Church
Isaac Walters, Mode Church.
Counter added 10/27/04 at 748 12.8.11 4000