We are very glad to give brother Duley space to explain himself. In his explanation, however, we are confirmed that we understood him perfectly in his recent letter headed “The Gospel,” and published, with our remarks, in the Signs for September 1st, 1906. We still assert that “there is no such thing as letter gospel,” hence no such thing as preaching the gospel in the letter. If a man is bright enough to repeat a gospel sermon, the repetition of it does not change the gospel to letter, though the man has no spiritual knowledge of what he repeats. We heard, a little while ago, the hymn “Rock of ages “reproduced by a phonograph; every word was distinct and every note full and perfect. The reproduction of this hymn did not change it into a popular song of the day; it was as much the hymn “Rock of ages “as though an angel had sung it, though the phonograph had no knowledge of what it was doing. We use this illustration to prove that the reproduction of a gospel sermon would not make that gospel sermon “letter preaching.” The expression, “the letter,” appears in Romans ii. 27; ii. 29; vii. 6; 2 Cor. iii. 6. We hope that brother Duley may carefully examine these Scriptures and their connections, and perhaps he may be convinced that the expression, “preaching the gospel in the letter,” is not according to the word of God. In Philippians i. 15-18, we have the following: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife, and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; but the (?) of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then! notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” This also proves that Christ is preached, whether it be of envy, strife, pretence or good will. Can Christ be preached without preaching the gospel? Paul called the above preaching Christ, and rejoiced that he was preached, although some had no spiritual knowledge of Christ who preached him.
We think from brother Duley’s first letter that he referred more particularly to the servants of God in speaking of systematic preaching, because he spoke of the children of God sitting and sleeping under it. The children of God, manifestly, seldom hear the ministers of the world preach. With regard to some of the children of God going to sleep in meetings, we still say such has always been the case, and the same will no doubt continue, and it is seldom if ever the minister is to blame for it. We admit that short sermons are better than those of “two hours,” unless the man has something to say; yet no servant of God can judge his own preaching.
We acknowledge our youth, which is forty-six years, and our lack of spiritual understanding, but hope that years and experience may not fail to teach us what we should know when we have reached the age of a man: threescore and ten. We have no recollection of ever imagining a congregation before us (as brother Duley says) in our early exercises regarding the ministry; Christ and him crucified for poor, condemned sinners, was all our thought.
We may be “mistaken” with regard to godly sorrow, produced when the Spirit fills the heart and tears are shed; there are not many tears of rejoicing, however, if we have the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings; not much rejoicing in this bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus; but rejoicing shall come when the night is past and all tears are wiped away.
We assure brother Duley that our little correspondence shall not affect our fellowship and christian regard for him. K.
Elder H. C. Ker
Signs Of The Times
Volume 74., No. 22.
NOVEMBER 15, 1906.