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CORRESPONDENCE.

State Road, Del., August, 1900.

Brother Beebe: – I saw an editorial in the Signs a few numbers back on the subject of people being sent strong delusions, &c., to which article I feel minded to offer some additional comments. The passage is this: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” – 2 Thess. ii. 11,12.

In the first place we should notice particularly this class of people of whom these things are said, and then notice carefully what it is that is said to them. What we of course want to know is the righteousness of God’s dealings with these people, and the reasons, they are so dealt with. That Spirit that the Redeemer said to his disciples should guide them into all truth, never guides anybody into error; he is one Spirit, and is always the Spirit of truth. From the description given of these characters, there is no need of their being influenced to error, or led into delusion, for it is positively said that they received not the love of the truth.

They are evidently not of those who were from the beginning chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. A belief of the truth is a very solemn and sacred thing, it is never received by anybody only in the love of it. As the Spirit of God guides into it, that Spirit is the life as well as the truth, and when received it is life to them that have it, and they live that life. Where there is no love of the truth there is no knowledge or experience of it. It follows then that all these spoken of were mere nominal professors, having a name to live but destitute of the life. There are times when the Lord will purify the sons of Levi, and will purge them as gold and silver, not to make the wicked more wicked, but only to sever them from among the just. The precious are sufficiently precious that they should be separated from the vile, and purity and sincerity in the worship be secured. It would seem that these had obtained a name and a standing among real believers, and were receiving tokens of recognition that they were not entitled to, but were ready whenever opportunity should offer to join the ranks of enemies and persecutors. Are they not already blinded by the god of this world? Wherefore should any delusion be sent to them! They are already under the power of delusion, and God does not send delusion into the hearts of anybody. These errors are in the world, and like the devils that went into the swine, they are over ready to go; they see their opportunities, and only wait permission. A century ago, and for a few years later the Baptist churches were sound; I mean as to their standing, and the bulk of the membership. The churches stood in high credit, and it was a creditable thing to belong to a Baptist church. There were not many who would have left their places to hunt after the delusions that were floating about. Such an influence would not have been strong enough. No; let the advocates of false doctrine by some intrigue get a tooting inside your door, let them captivate some of your children, let it sweep over the congregation in a mighty current, as though it will carry almost all before it, and the truth be openly ridiculed and despised, you will see ere long who they are that are elated and being carried with the current. Has anybody induced them to believe a lie, or is it that they have never really believed anything else? They had pleasure in unrighteousness. The confidence and fellowship of the Lord’s people is too precious a thing to be wasted on unworthy objects, or upon whom it would not be appreciated. The Lord does not design to have pearls cast to the swine. Those who have witnessed instances of this sifting that I am speaking of, have observed that nothing else works so effectually with those who have not received the love of the truth, as a sweeping current of error. It often carries away some that had not been suspected. Is this a wise and beneficent providence? or would it be better for the cause, better for the individual churches, or even for those individuals who drink in this error as soon as it comes in their way, to have remained in nominal connection with the church! I presume that I need not answer. The arrangements of Providence are general and always the same”. Everything needful was provided in the beginning, and there is a place and a use for strong delusions in the world as well as other things. I think it should read, That they all might be made manifest, &c. As that is all that the delusion docs. It makes manifest those who had no love for the truth. That they all might be damned is a bad translation. In quite a number of places we have the word “damned,” when there is no allusion to the final condemnation of the wicked. We know that here as well as in several other places where the word is used, the condemnation rests entirely on other grounds: “he that believeth not is condemned already.” Condemned under that holy law under which all sinners are condemned.

Delusions are like cyclones, in their onward progress they gain strength; but they are always strong; surrounding elements add to their velocity and their force. I once knew of a church known as a Baptist church, in which the preacher who was serving them was gathering in quite a number; suddenly the preacher announced himself a Universalist. It did not appear that he originated the delusion, but rather that he was one of many victims. It swept over that section of the country like a pestilence. After the storm one hundred members were found to be swept away; less than half remained. For awhile it seemed doubtful whether a church organization could be maintained out of the fragments that remained, but a few names were found who had not only received the truth, but loved it, and these came forth from the ordeal to shine brighter than before. I would suggest the question, whether those who had neither received nor loved the truth, did not really believe a lie, or what was false, all the time, and if so, what has been done but to make them manifest? Is it not better so, that the mask of hypocrisy and a false profession should be taken from them, and that they should be the victims of that error from which they have never been delivered. There will not be any delusion strong enough to cause them that have received a knowledge and love of the truth to ever believe a lie. These delusions (and there are many) are all under the head and inspiration of the mystery of iniquity. In love and fellowship,

E. RITTENHOUSE.

Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 18.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1900.