"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 3, Number 6, June 2000
["As I See It" is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor's perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
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THE CONVERSION OF GENERAL NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST, CSA
In the very first issue of "As I See It," (January 1998), we reviewed Robert Selph Henry's biography of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877), and noted in passing that late in life, Forrest had become a Christian. We did not describe his conversion in detail, frankly, because we had none of the details to relate.
Recently, our attention was directed to an account of the particulars surrounding Forrest's conversion, and as they come on the authority of the Memphis pastor who pointed Forrest to Christ, we consider them both reliable and of significant interest--
"On the evening of November 14, 1875, the Reverend George T. Stainback, minister of the Court Street Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Memphis, preached on the parable of the builders in Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Present as usual was Mary Ann Forrest, but beside her this night sat her husband. In those verses from the Book of Matthew, he saw all the withered fruit of his life's grand enterprises. At the service's end, he stopped at the church door and waited for Stainback to come out and bid a customary farewell to the flock. 'He took my arm, and we passed [to] the pavement below,' the clergyman, who had known Forrest for a quarter century, would remember two years later. At the sidewalk, Stainback said, Forrest suddenly leaned against the wall and his eyes filled with tears. 'Sir, your sermon has removed the last prop from under me,' he said, 'I am the fool that built on the sand; I am a poor miserable sinner.' He looked 'all shaken,' recalled Stainback, who recommended that he study Psalm 51 to find spiritual relief. The next evening the minister visited him for a talk and prayer, and after the latter, Forrest rose from his knees to say he felt 'satisfied. All is right. I put my trust in my Redeemer.'
Not long afterward, when asked what had brought about his sudden abandonment of a lifetime of respectful non-acceptance of the faith, he replied with humor. 'Why . . . it was perfectly simple,' he said. 'I was down on my plantation on the island and I took sick and thought my last chance had come and I took it!' " (Quoted from, NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST by Jack Hurst. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993, p. 370)
That others who likewise delay would come to their spiritual senses without further tarrying!
SPURGEON AND ENGLISH BIBLE TRANSLATIONS
It has been nearly a decade since my little booklet, "An Answer to David Otis Fuller: Fuller's Deceptive Treatment of Spurgeon Regarding the King James Version," was published by Pilgrim Publications. My purpose and design in that booklet was to give a clear overview and summary of Spurgeon's actual, published views concerning the authority of the original Hebrew and Greek texts, the relative merits of English Bible translations, the real need to sometimes correct the King James Version, and the real superiority in some places of revised English versions over the KJV. To that end, I extensively quoted Spurgeon's own words, giving full bibliographical references so that any interested reader could check out the original sources. In short, I wanted Spurgeon to "speak for himself" without being subjected to the editorial slight-of-hand employed by David Otis Fuller, Bruce Cummons, Peter Ruckman and many others, who have twisted, contorted, distorted and misrepresented the views of our brother the English Baptist, to bring him into the "King James Only" camp.
In spite of the publication and wide circulation of my booklet, and the repeated publication and distribution of Spurgeon's own views on the subject by myself, Bob Ross of Pilgrim Publications, and others, many careless or (I dare say) dishonest individuals delight in nothing more than to continue to pervert the true views of Spurgeon for their own ends.
Since the publication of the booklet, I have located or been sent dozens of quotes from Spurgeon's authentic, unedited writings that relate to the issues of the original texts, revision and correction of the KJV and other associated themes. They all, without exception, are in harmony with the quotes I had collected for the booklet. Indeed, a new quote or two turns up just about every month, and if I should ever revise and expand the booklet, it will surely be triple its original length, or more.
I recently had the opportunity to do some research in several original issues of "The Sword and The Trowel," Spurgeon's monthly magazine. I found a review by him of the American Revised Version New Testament (also known as "The American Standard Version"), which came out in 1881. On the whole, it follows the Greek text of Westcott and Hort, rather than the textus receptus, as the KJV generally did. In the November, 1881 issue of "The Sword and The Trowel," p. 575, Spurgeon reviewed that revision of the KJV New Testament:
"The New Testament. American revised edition. Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1420 Chestnut Street.
It was most fitting that our American brethren should bring out an edition of the revised version with the commendations suggested by the American Committee incorporated in the text. For the most part these corrections are of much value, and if our English revisers had not been timid, they would have adopted them. It will strike most observers that in omitting them our own revisers have used more caution than courage, and by no means improved their work. The more we read our own revision, the more we feel its great value, and at the same time the deeper is our conviction that our old form of the New Testament will not be superseded for many a day, and certainly not by the present attempt at revision, admirable though it be."
Once again, when Spurgeon is permitted to speak for himself, his views are not in doubt: he valued the revisions of the KJV published in 1881, preferring the American edition over the English, though believing both were valuable and made many necessary changes in the KJV. Nevertheless, Spurgeon believed, on the whole, that they were inferior to the KJV in overall excellence, though allowing that someday, the KJV would be superseded.
No solace for KJVOism here.
ON LEARNING ENGLISH
"I would make all boys learn English; and then I would let the clever ones learn Latin as an honour and Greek as a treat. But the only thing I would whip them for is not knowing English. I would whip them hard for that."
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
CHURCHILL: IN MEMORIAM
Bantam Books, 1965), p. 156
A GUIDE TO BOOKS OF QUOTATIONS
More than a decade ago, I was stymied in my effort to locate the author of a famous quotation which I wanted to cite. The line was "man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn." Since the two chief sources of famous quotations are the Bible and Shakespeare, and knowing that the quotation was not Biblical, I took my concordance to Shakespeare (yes there is such a thing; in fact there are at least two. Mine was the production of John Bartlett, compiler of the famous book of familiar quotations), and began searching the key words. Again and again I looked. Nothing. Then I did what I should have done to begin with: I got one of my books of quotations and checked the index. Immediately I discovered my error; it was a line from Robert Burns, the Scottish poet. My high school English teacher, Miss Throckmorton (who had also been my father's eighth grade English teacher eons before), a devotee of Burns, would have been sadly disappointed with me.
And then, not more than three or four years ago, I heard a political commentator use the literary phrase "suffer fools gladly," and thought I would try and locate the source of this famous utterance. I--this time--began with a quote book, and was immediately embarrassed to learn that it was a Biblical phrase, taken from 2nd Corinthians 11:19, as translated by Tyndale, and other later English versions. I thought I had a sufficiently good grasp on Scripture to instantly recognize Biblical phraseology, even if I could not unaided state the exact location--chapter and verse--of the words
I relate these examples as illustrations of the need to have ready resources and a knowledge of the proper use of those resources in locating quotations, famous or obscure, that we may wish to cite in a paper, article, lesson or message, or even just for our own edification or enlightenment.
One can look for quotations from two opposite directions. First, if you already have the quotation, but want to learn its source, you pursue the exact quotation and accompanying documentation. If on the hand, you are not looking for any particular quotation, but are seeking either quotations on a particular topic, or quotations from a particular source or writer, your approach will be from the opposite end.
As noted, the mother lodes of famous quotations are first the Bible, and second, Shakespeare. I remember my amazement when first reading the New Testament at age 17, I discovered how many, many famous phrases and quotations were straight out of the Bible. I literally had no idea. And in my subsequent reading, I have been astonished at how frequently noted contemporary scholars and published authors will fail to recognize the Biblical source of words they allude to or quote. For example, Harvard history professor David H. Donald, in his much praised 1995 biography of Lincoln apparently thought (p. 31) that the phrase "A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand," which Lincoln would employ much later in his slavery debates with Stephen Douglas, was learned by Lincoln from an edition of Aesop's fables he had read in his youth (where the words served as "the moral to the story"), rather than being words from the mouth of Jesus reported in three of the four Gospels (Donald does seem to have figured this out by the time he got to p. 206 of his book). Imagine--a Harvard professor not knowing the Bible. Now there's a surprise. (For this reason and another gross blunder I found early on in Donald's book, I've never finished reading it).
Finding quotations in the English Bible is rather simple. The easiest way is by using a concordance, which is an alphabetic listing of verses that have a particular word in them: "love," 'faith," "beginning," etc. Brief, that is, selective, concordances are often found in the back of Bibles (the first concordance I ever used was in the back of my Scofield reference Bible). Larger concordances such as Cruden's 18th century work are readily accessible, though of course an exhaustive concordance listing every occurrence of every word will guarantee your finding the quote--if it is Biblical,--though you may have to wade through a huge mass of passages you aren't seeking to get to the one you do want. Naturally, here, the standard tool is Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, a 19th century work compiled manually. There are also concordances, both selective and exhaustive for other English versions such as the NASB and the NIV.
If you are looking for Bible verses on a specific topic (though not necessarily having a specific word), a topic index of the Bible will prove helpful, such as Nave's Topical Bible or The Topical Textbook. Of course, the best and most profitable way to locate quotations in the Bible is to read and re-read the Bible until you know the contents of Scripture thoroughly.
As for Shakespeare, there is the comprehensive concordance of his plays, A Complete Concordance of Shakespeare compiled in the 19th century by John Bartlett, first published in 1894 and repeatedly reprinted since then. (I bought a virtually new copy for $3.98 in the mid-1980s at a university book sale). I have used it often to find the exact location of quotes I already knew, and have perused it and thereby located numerous marvelous statements that I would never have located by reading through his plays (I've read, unfortunately, only about a quarter of the whole number).
We come to general books of quotations. The first of these both in time and fame and in common use today is Familiar Quotations by John Bartlett. The first edition was published in 1882, with 16 different editions in all since then. The edition mostly commonly met with used (and I recommend the purchase of used copies of the books I discuss here, since they are otherwise excessively expensive, and good used copies are usually not rare) is the 13th, issued in 1955. The latest edition--the 16th--has been dubbed by its critics as the "politically-correct" edition since it has very numerous quotations from various 20th century leftists, including hippies and yippies from the 60s and 70s, but has only two or three quotations from Ronald Reagan, who, with Lincoln and both Roosevelts, is among the most quotable of American presidents.
In Bartlett's book, quotes are clustered by author, chronologically in order of their birth. Fortunately, there is an index of authors with years of birth and death in the front, as well as an index of keywords in the back, so quotes can be located topically. And quotations are usually furnished with sufficient documentation as to make it possible to find the quote in the original source. In Bartlett, the quotes occupy over 1,000 pages, and the index runs to over 550. It is a common feature of nearly all good books of quotations that they will have at least one, and often two or more extended indices of topics and/or authors, depending on the principle of arrangement on which they are organized.
The second book of quotations worth possessing and consulting is the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, which first saw the light of day in 1942, and is now in a third edition (paperback! what blockhead thought to put a reference work in paperback?). Being British in its origin, it is naturally enough heavier on British than on American sources of quotations. It is arranged alphabetically by source/author, there being some 587 pages of quotations in my 2nd edition copy, with an alphabetic index of over 400 pages. It even has an index of Greek words and phrases. And if anything, the documentation here is superior to that in Bartlett.
The ever-industrious H. L. Mencken (1880-1956), unsatisfied with any of the quote books available in his day, compiled his own, A New Dictionary of Quotations on Historical Principles (Knopf, 1942). Quotations were chiefly taken from his own voluminous reading, over a period of some twenty five years. The arrangement of the 1,347 pages of quotes is strictly topical (and well-documented); the book has no index. One will likely find quotations in Mencken not to be met with in any other books, since Mencken accumulated his store of quotes from his own reading and not primarily from earlier compilations. An assistant of Mencken in this production, one Paul Angoff who later had a falling out with Mencken, accused him in print of having fabricated many of the "folk sayings" which the volume records. Even if true (which I question), this does not diminish from the excellence of the book. I have seen used copies for sale only twice, and purchased both (one of which I resold at cost to a friend).
Burton Egbert Stevenson (1872-1962) was a man of unrivaled diligence. Though briefly a reporter, he spent nearly the whole of his life as a librarian, both in his hometown of Chilicothe, Ohio, and at the American Library in Paris during and after The Great War. He was a voluminous writer and compiler, generating a book or two a year for more than four decades. Among these is his The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Familiar Phrases (New York: Macmillan, 1948), which is an astonishing monument to the compiler's unflagging industry. Compiled between 1937 and 1948, at almost 3,000 pages in length (of which about 300 are a triple-column index), it is by far the longest book of quotations I possess. It is topically arranged, and under each topic, Stevenson clusters related quotes, in every case seeking to trace a quotation or phrase to its earliest form and source (e.g., Shakespeare's "All that glisters is not gold," is traced back through some fourteen prior citations including Chaucer to a 12th century French monk; in all, more than twenty relevant and fully documented quotations are found under this heading on pp. 990-1). Not only does Stevenson give the English, but if a phrase or proverb is taken from Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch or German, he also gives the same in the original language! And the far greater part of the whole book is a result of Stevenson's own labors as a reader and compiler!!! (But even he could not 'run to ground' the old maxim "consistency thou art a jewel" [see p. 410]). Being wholly unaware of either book or author, I came across a fine used copy at a bookstore in Cincinnati in 1987, and purchased it for the amazingly inexpensive price of $12.50. I would gladly give many times that price today if necessary to replace it.
Yet one more standard work will be mentioned, Dictionary of Quotations by Bergen Evans (1968). It is arranged topically (with 789 pages of adequately-documented quotes), followed by a 36-page index of authors, and a subject index/concordance of almost 1,200 pages, or substantially longer than the quotation section! Though highly praised by some, I have made limited use of this volume, preferring Stevenson, Bartlett and Oxford. I do not, however, regret the $7.50 I spent for my copy.
One great problem with all these books of quotations is that they are deficient as regards recent "bon mots." One notable attempt to fill this gap has been the work of James B. Simpson. Since the 1950s, he has compiled and issued a series of books of recent quotations. The latest I am familiar with is Simpson's Contemporary Quotations: The Most Notable Quotes Since 1950 (Houghton, Mifflin, 1988). The quotations, 408 pages worth and many of them quite witty, are clustered under numerous general headings. There are indices of sources (authors) and of subjects and key lines. It makes interesting and entertaining reading to at random read a page or two.
Of course there are many other (and lesser) books of quotations than these noted, some of them specialized (books of sports quotes, medical quotes, etc.), or small compilations by various authors. I have the better part of a dozen of these on my shelves. Most are of limited merit, confined all but exclusively to humorous quotations, many of which are profane in their attempt at being funny. They usually lack any kind of documentation as well. I will spare the reader the names of these.
One valuable quote book I haven't mentioned is the one you compile yourself. With a computer, it is very easy to create your own book of select quotations, which can be infinitely expanded as you accumulate more material. I wish I had begun such a book of quotations years ago, even if they had been simply placed in the order found. For years, literally, I sought for the quote noted in the previous issue of AISI about the Catholic Church burning Bibles because the Bible was not on their side. I had read it "somewhere" and had thereafter quoted it repeatedly, but could never lay my hand on the "source," until, at a venture, I was re-reading the book from which it came. Had I written it down in a special notebook (or, computer file) when first found, I would have had it immediately. I know one pastor whose personal book of compiled quotations runs to a hundred pages. Go and do thou likewise.
I have profited immensely from books of quotations. They can serve as an introduction to an author whose name or works have been recommended to you. By reading his quotes as found in Bartlett or Oxford, you can get some immediate idea of whether you are likely to profit from reading his books or essays. Standard books of quotations usually have, e.g., four or five pages (or more) of quotations from the eminently quotable Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). From these you can get an idea of what you will find if you read his works or those about him.
A well-selected quotation or two can be a striking introduction to a sermon, or form an excellent summary and conclusion. Such can spice up a conversation, add luster to a written account, or entertain. It can direct the mind into new lines of thought. For these and other reasons, I am constantly on the search for a well-turned phrase or pithy observation. Hence, I highly value good books of quotations, and would not easily part with those I possess.
GIBBON by James Coter Morison. London: Macmillan and Co., 1895. 184 pp.
I would suspect, and hope, that most college graduates in America have at least heard of Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), historian and author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, even if they have not read any or all of this famous work--perhaps the most famous historical account ever written.
Gibbon was the only child among eight born to his parents who survived to adulthood, and even he was very sickly as a child. His father was a member of the landed and idle British aristocracy, who managed by a profligate lifestyle to greatly reduce his financial assets.
Gibbon's education as a youth was very irregular, often interrupted by illness, though reading was always a consuming passion with him. Around age fifteen, he was sent to Magdalen College in Oxford for what became a period of just 14 months. Unprepared to benefit well from this educational opportunity, Gibbon counted this period to be wholly profitless to himself.
About this time, he came under the influence of several Catholics and converted to Catholicism. His horrified father then sent him to Lausanne in Switzerland to the care of a Protestant pastor who served as both his religious and educational guardian. Eventually, he was recovered from Catholicism, but ultimately developed an antipathy to Christianity in general, as is evident from chapters 15 and 16 of his work. (How many have been turned against what called itself "Christianity" when they saw the hypocrisy, dishonesty, corruption, ignorance, or tyranny of merely nominal adherents! How different their reaction might have been had they seen genuine Christianity exhibited before their eyes in Biblical doctrine, and a consistent and devote life!).
In Switzerland, Gibbon's knowledge of Latin expanded immensely, (along with his knowledge of ancient Roman history, literature and culture, of which he ultimately was a complete master) and he there began the study of Greek. He also became perfectly fluent in French. After five years "in exile," he returned to England, spending two years as a captain in the militia (England was at war with France just then), which served him well later in understanding military matters which would have a prominent place in his history.
Planning an extended tour of Italy (which every cultured son of the ruling class was expected to make), he spent nearly a year in Lausanne in preparation, systematically studying the antiquities of Italy, especially as related in classical Latin literature. From these, he compiled a detailed "travelogue" for his trip of what had happened in each place. He spent 18 weeks in Rome, and 6 in Naples. While in Rome, he conceived the idea for The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
He returned to England for five years' residence on his father's estate, until his father's death. Gibbon then moved to London, where he prosecuted the study for and writing of his history, at least the first three volumes (volume one was published in February, 1776). Gibbon served for nearly a decade in Parliament during this period, though without making any notable contribution to that body's deliberations.
Gibbon then returned to Lausanne, where he finished his history, the whole of which was the end product of 20 years of devoted labor, and returned, less than a year before his death, to London. A long-continued sedentary lifestyle and great obesity led to his own physical "decline and fall" at age 56.
Gibbon's Decline and Fall is a detailed account and synthesis of the flow of historical events in the Roman Empire from A.D. 180 to the fall of Byzantium (Constantinople) to the Turks in A.D. 1453. It has been justly famous since its first publication, and has appeared in numberless editions and abridgments, plain and annotated, since then (I have three separate editions of it in my library). Not without its defects, it is nevertheless universally praised as a historical work of the first magnitude.
Beyond this, there is the realization that Gibbon, without the benefit of a university training, nevertheless became a complete master of Latin literature and antiquities by dint of unflagging effort that extended not over just months or even years but decades. We sit in amazement at the diligence and perseverance this required, though he admittedly had the advantages of an inheritance sufficient to support his life of scholarship, without the necessity of his engaging in business to provide for his wants, and being a lifelong bachelor, had none of the restraints of time or money that domestic relations require. By way of contrast, almost no one today has the persistence and dedication to read through what Gibbon wrote, though the effort would not cost the reader a one-hundredth part of the time and effort it took Gibbon to write his work. I personally know just one individual who has read Gibbon through (my own reading of him is in scattered sections and chapters here and there).
Morison's account of Gibbon's life and labors is concise and readable, and is one among several biographies of Gibbon readily available (Gibbon himself produced 6 different autobiographical accounts of his life, though none was ever completed or published by him, owing no doubt to his early death). It provides the details of his life, along with an even-handed analysis of his magnum opus, praising its merits and recounting its defects.
Quoting Gibbon's journal: "It was at Rome, on the 15th of October, 1764, as I sat musing amid the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind." (p. 52) [age:30]
"Gibbon had found his work, which was destined to fill the remainder of his life." (p. 52)
"[Gibbon] had pursued knowledge with single-hearted loyalty and now became aware that from a worldly point of view knowledge is not often a profitable investment. A more dejecting discovery cannot be made by the sincere scholar. He is conscious of labour and protracted effort, which the prosperous professional man and tradesman who pass him on their road to wealth with a smile of scornful pity have never known. He has forsaken comparatively all for knowledge, and the busy world meets him with a blank stare, and surmises shrewdly that he is but an idler, with an odd taste for wasting his time over books." (p. 59)
"His ideal was to devote the morning, commencing early--at seven, say--to study, and the afternoon and evening to society and recreation. . . .The stable and moderate stimulus of congenial society, alternating with study, was what he liked." (pp. 69, 70)
"The sudden and rapid expansion of historic studies in the middle of the eighteenth century constitutes one of the great epochs in literature. Up to the year 1750 no great historical work had appeared in any modern language." (pp. 98-9)
"He has treated it [i.e. Roman history] in such a way as even now fills competent judges with something like astonishment. His accuracy, coupled with the extraordinary range of his matter, the variety of his topics, the complexity of his undertaking, the fullness and thoroughness of his knowledge, never failing at any point over the vast field, the ease and mastery with which he lifts the enormous load, are appreciated in proportion to the information and abilities of his critic." (p. 104)
"He was a friend of Voltaire, Helvetius, and D'Holbach; that is, of men who regarded the past as one long nightmare of crime, imposture, and folly, instituted by the selfish machinations of kings and priests." (p. 117)
Quoting Gibbon's journal regarding the moment of completion of his great work: "On the day, or rather the night, of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future fate of my history, the life of the historian must be short and precarious." (pp. 136-7)
"There is hardly a parallel case in literature of the great powers of a whole life being so concentrated on one supreme and magnificent effort." (p. 174)
And two famous quotations from Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. by J. B. Bury, 7 vols.--
"The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful." (vol. I, p. 31)
[How very much like today's pluralism, where every religion is deemed just as good as any other by the masses, where all supernaturalism of whatever sort is viewed with contempt by the atheistic humanists, and where all religions are pandered to by the politicians for self-advancement]
". . .[H]istory. . . is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." (vol. I, p. 84)
[This very cynical remark, made famous by Gibbon, was actually borrowed by him from a 1762 essay by Oliver Goldsmith, who in turn seems to have adapted the phrase from the writings of Voltaire; see Burton Stevenson, The Home Book of Proverbs, Maxims and Familiar Phrases (New York: Macmillan, 1948). p. 1144 for the exact references]
The reaction of William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, to the publication of yet another volume in Gibbon's growing history--
"Another d----d, thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?" (quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2nd ed., p. 223)
"Arthur Young, in his autobiography, records a conversation he once had with Edmund Burke in which the political philosopher said that: 'Gibbon was an old friend of his, and he knew well that before he died, he heartily repented of the anti-religious part of his work. . . .' " (J. Wesley Bready, England: Before and After Wesley, p. 371)