|Volume 21 Number 11 November 2019||
This obscure family of ours was early in the Reformation, and continued Protestants through the reign of Queen Mary, when they were sometimes in danger of trouble on account of their zeal against popery. They had got an English Bible, and to conceal and secure it, it was fastened open with tape under and within the cover of a joint-stool. When my great-great grandfather read it to his family, he turned up the joint-stool upon his knees, turning over the leaves then under the tapes. One of the children stood at the door to give notice if he saw the apparitor coming, who was an officer of the spiritual court. In that case the stool was turned down again upon its feet, when the Bible remained concealed under it as before.
This story is given by the hand of Benjamin Franklin in his autobiography.
We live in a time that is unparalleled insofar as access to information and learning. Scholars and philosophers alike would have treasured our libraries and bookstores. The Internet has moved thousands of instructors into our living rooms and dens to be at our beck and call. The instructions of Aristotle are at our fingertips; we may “listen” to Cicero’s masterful orations, be entertained by the works of Shakespeare or follow Don Quixote on one of his journeys. We have no fear that someone will confiscate and burn our books or seize our Bibles. Yet, our society is guilty of the crime of neglect and laziness. It is felonious in the way we have abandoned the reading and study of the great thinkers and writers of antiquity. How much more is it a travesty for our Bibles to be left unread? Truly Israel was destroyed for “lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), not because God’s Word was inaccessible, but rather because it was rejected (Hosea 4:6b). Spiritual Israel has learned from her ancestors and is today nearly biblically illiterate. No more is the Lord’s church comprised of Bible toting, Bible quoting people.
We have forgotten the truth described by Henry Van Dyke. He wrote of the influence of the Holy Volume and recommended to us its contents. He wrote, “It comes into the palace to tell the monarch that he is the servant of the Most High, and into the cottage to assure the peasant that he is the son of God. Children listen to its stories with wonder and delight, and wise men ponder them as parables of life. It has a word of peace for the time of peril, a word of comfort for the day of calamity, a word of light for the hour of darkness” (Lappin 31).
No longer must we hide our Bibles, as did Ben Franklin’s ancestors, or conceal our faith in the Almighty! Let us resolve to read the Bible, study its contents intently, believe its words and practice its principles. A day should not pass in which we have failed to read our Bibles. Lay this article aside; pick up the Oracles of God and allow the Divine Author room in your minds and a place in your hearts. You will soon agree with the Psalmist when he wrote of God’s Words, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much find gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10 ESV).
Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Charles W. Elliot, ed. New York: PF Collier & Son, 1909.
Lappin, S.S. Training the Church. Cincinnati: Standard Publishing, 1911.
The Power of Hypocrisy
Ronald D. Reeves
Hypocrites—I cannot think of anyone who has ever approved of them. I’ve never crossed the path of someone who affirmed that when he was young, he wanted to grow up to be a hypocrite. It hasn’t happened, and I do not expect that it will. There seems to be universal agreement that hypocrisy is wrong, unacceptable and sinful. Yet, hypocrisy is still with us. Yes, hypocrisy is a strong force as it destroys those about us (Proverbs 11:9). It may even be the immediate cause that bars others from entrance into the kingdom of God (Matthew 23:13). Hypocrisy deprives us of the approval of the Lord (Matthew 23:14-15, 33) and restrains the mercy of God as an operative force in our lives (Isaiah 9:13-17). The wrath of God is activated and applied when hypocrisy is unchecked (Isaiah 9:17b; Matthew 23:13ff). The valid hope of faithful children of God is made destitute when we stand as unrepentant hypocrites before the Lord (Job 8:11-14; 20:4-7; 27:8). May each of us courageously heed the admonition of Peter and therefore lay aside all hypocrisies (1 Peter 2:1). Any other course is too costly. May we as well possess the courage to change our attitudes that encourage hypocrisy and thus take us away from the path of God.