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Bible ourhomewithgodcomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and Thomas Coke. Coke (1747-1814) was a Welsh lawyer and mayor who later became the first Methodist bishop and Father of Methodist Missions.

Luke 17:28-37

28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32Remember Lot’s wife. 33Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women (J)grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.”[a] 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse[b] is, there the vultures[c] will gather.”

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Last week’s post looked at the first part of Jesus’s discourse about the kingdom of God and the Second Coming.

Today’s passage concludes our Lord’s stark lesson on what it will be like. The sinful people of Noah’s time (Luke 17:27) were going about their business when the flood struck. Jesus now mentions another group, those in Sodom, who perished in fire and sulfur (verses 28 and 29).

When Christ returns in glory, there will be a similar dramatic end bringing with it condemnation to sinners (verse 30).

He warns us against being too attached to our worldly goods and our surroundings (verse 31). We mustn’t be like Lot’s wife (verse 32). Matthew Henry explains (emphases mine):

Let them not look back, lest they should be tempted to go back nay, lest that be construed a going back in heart, or an evidence that the heart was left behind. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt, that she might remain a lasting monument of God’s displeasure against apostates, who begin in the spirit and end in the flesh.

Thomas Coke elaborates:

This unfortunate woman had been informed by angels of the destruction of Sodom, and promised deliverance; but was expressly forbidden to look back, on any account, in the time of her flight; because it was proper that they should flee speedily, in the faith of this divine declaration, and perfectly contented, or at least endeavouring to be so, that they had escaped with their lives. Nevertheless, she presumed to entertain doubts concerning the destruction of her wicked acquaintance, because she did not fully believe the angels’ message. Moreover, being inwardly sorry for the loss of her relations and goods, and at the same time not sufficiently valuing the kindness of God who had sent his angels to preserve her, she lingered behind her husband, discontented and vexed, allowing him and his two daughters to enter into Zoar before her, thereby laying a temptation in Lot’s way to took back upon her, on account of the danger to which she was exposing herself. But no sooner had Lot with his children entered the place of their refuge, than God poured out the fulness of his wrath upon the offending cities. The thunder, the shrieking of the inhabitants, the crashing of the houses falling, were heard at a distance. Lot’s wife, not yet in Zoar, was at length convinced that all was lost; and being exceedingly displeased, she despised the gift of her life; for, in contradiction to the angels’ command, she turned about, and looked round at the dreadful devastation; probably also bewailed her perishing kindred and wealth, (Genesis 19:14.) But her infidelity, her disobedience, her ingratitude, and her love of the world, received a just, though severe rebuke. In an instant she was turned into a pillar of salt, being burned up by the flames, out of whose reach she could not fly; and so was made a perpetual monument of God’s displeasure to all posterity. Her looking back, though in itself a thing indifferent, yet as it was done contrary to the divine prohibition, and expressed such a complication of evil dispositions, was so far from being a small sin, that it fully deserved the punishment inflicted on it

Jesus warns us not to be too attached to our own lives (verse 33); when the time comes, we must be willing to die that we might have eternal life.

However, at that time, Jesus was also warning the Jews about the impending destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which took place a few decades later in 70 AD. Coke sees it as an instruction not to venture into the city for safety; the humble countryside would be a better refuge. Henry sees Jesus’s words as a command to leave the Jewish faith and to follow Him.

Our Lord goes on to say that God knows His own. Where a couple are together on the night of reckoning, one will be taken to eternal life and the other left to die, condemned (verse 34). The same will be true of two women at a handmill grinding flour (verse 35).

In verse 37, Jesus concludes His discourse by making a reference to the Roman eagle (the word used in older translations) — the bird of prey ready to feast on rotting carcases. He is alluding to the spiritually dead Jewish hierarchy and their followers who have rejected Him.

The verse has another interpretation, a positive one for those who have accepted Christ — the body (used in older translations). They will flock together, wherever they might be. Henry’s commentary states:

wherever the body is, wherever the gospel is preached and ordinances are ministered, thither will pious souls resort, there they will find Christ, and by faith feast upon him.  

Next time: Luke 18:15-17

John F MacArthurYesterday’s Forbidden Bible Verses examined Luke 17:20-27, wherein Christ discusses the kingdom of God.

In Matthew 24, our Lord explained that the world would endure many travails before that time.

Today, many believers over the age of 50 wonder what happened to our secure Western world where, even when people didn’t attend church often, our societies respected biblical values.

John MacArthur’s monthly letter for September 2014 discusses the Church’s travails today. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Perhaps, like me, you grew up in America when there was widespread, cultural Christianity. There was a kind of Christian consensusTo some degree, people understood the church, the Bible, and the gospel.  They accepted the Judeo-Christian ethic.  While most people weren’t genuine Christians, there was still superficial acceptance—or, at least, tolerance—of a cultural Christianity in politics, business, education, and public life.

But where are we today?There is no more cultural Christianity; there is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country.  In fact, the more biblically that true Christians speak and live, the more they are being labeled as extremists, homophobic, intolerant, and guilty of hate crimes.  We are now aliens.  And I think we can all foresee a day when being a faithful Christian will cost us or our children dearly, and in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a decade ago.  I think we’re closer than ever to living in conditions like the people did in the book of Acts.

His letter says that the first Christians, a number of whose experiences feature in Acts, led difficult lives with some dying as martyrs for the faith.

Although many mainstream American clergy would say that Western churchgoers are far from being persecuted, the trend in Europe is towards a continuous denigration of Christianity which started in the last century and ramped up gradually after the Second World War. The same trend is coming to the United States, just at a slower rate of speed.

MacArthur also takes issue with churchgoers who think along extremist lines as well as those who adopt an everyone-is-saved outlook:

For years I’ve been concerned by the church’s pursuit of cultural change through political and social activities.  Large swaths of Christians have placed enormous time, energy, money, and hope in the wrong placesHand in glove with that thinking, superficial, cultural Christianity has blurred the clear lines between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world, and has softened the hard demands of the gospel, making professing Christ easy and without cost.  As a result, churches have been filled with highly religious, superficially moral, self-righteous people who don’t understand the gospel and are self-deceived about their true spiritual state.

We’re in a lot of trouble, certainly.

That said, MacArthur sees a silver lining now that Christianity stands in such sharp relief against an increasingly secular world.

His solution is a simple yet powerful one:

Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology.  With the mask of superficial Christianity gone, I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

The gospel advances by personal testimony to Christ, one soul at a time.  When the church acts like the church; when shepherds preach Scripture and confront error with clarity and boldness; when believers are sanctified, built up, and equipped in truth; people are saved.  And that’s when the culture truly changes—nothing transforms the culture like genuine conversion.

As Christ said (Luke 17:21):

the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.

MacArthur echoes this:

Our confidence is in Christ and His perfect, powerful Word.  Nothing brings us greater joy than seeing that confidence spread in and through God’s people, to His glory and honor.

I know a vicar who is determined that his congregation do something ‘big’ and bombastic (in the nicest sense of the word) for their local community. Thankfully, no one has contributed any suggestions as to what this might be. Still, he perseveres because he says that our God is a ‘great, mighty’ God. Therefore, they must do something works-based to show their faith.

So wrong on so many levels!

Isaiah 64:6 says:

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

If this vicar and his congregation were to adopt MacArthur’s long-standing approach of preaching and teaching nothing but Christ through Holy Scripture, then they truly would be honouring a great and mighty God. This doesn’t mean giving sermonettes and handing out tracts on street corners, but it does require that believers competently answer questions on what they believe and why they believe it. This involves prayer and regular Bible reading. The latter, in particular, moves us away from error and easy-grace Christianity.

May the wisdom of the Holy Spirit prevail upon them and us to adopt John MacArthur’s decades long — and highly successful — one-soul-at-a-time conversion to biblical Christianity.

May God continue to bless those converts and those who have returned to the faith after a long absence.

Bible kevinroosecomContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary really want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and Thomas Coke. Coke (1747-1814) was a Welsh lawyer and mayor who later became the first Methodist bishop and Father of Methodist Missions.

Luke 17:20-27

The Coming of the Kingdom

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”[h]

22 And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.[i] 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.

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The Pharisees had a worldly idea of what the kingdom of God would be and their enquiry of Jesus (verse 20) is a mocking one. How could this humble man before them possibly know anything of the long-awaited kingdom?

Thomas Coke’s commentary explains:

They had very grand notions of the extent of the Messiah’s kingdom, the number of his subjects, the strength of his armies, the pomp and eclat of his court; and were eager to have that glorious empire speedily erected; or, being inveterate enemies of our Lord, they might ask the question in derision, because every thing about Jesus was so unlike to the Messiah whom they expected.

Jesus told them that the kingdom would not manifest itself in these ways. Matthew Henry says that our Lord’s answer was intended more for the disciples than the Pharisees. The disciples were better able to understand it. The Pharisees’ hearts and minds were closed to Jesus and His message.

Jesus also warned against false prophets talking about their own divination and predictions (verse 21). This was an immediate message to the Jews but also to us today to ignore preachers and notionally Christian authors who arrive at a date for the end of the world. No one knows when the Second Coming will occur.

He elaborates on this in the ensuing verses, specifically directed towards the disciples — and us: the dark days of persecution and waning of faith which makes us long for Christ’s return (verse 22); another warning against following false prophets (verse 23); the statement that His return will be accompanied by terrifying circumstances (verse 24).

For now, the kingdom of God is a spiritual one inside each believer. God’s grace and the Holy Spirit are working through us quietly. Henry tells us (emphases mine):

The kingdom of God will not change men’s outward condition, but their hearts and lives. Then it comes when it makes those humble, and serious, and heavenly, that were proud, and vain, and carnal,–when it weans those from the world that were wedded to the world and therefore look for the kingdom of God in the revolutions of the heart, not of the civil government.

Therefore, it is not liberation theology, big government, theonomy or ecological dogmas which are intended to bring about utopia, heaven on earth or the Second Coming.

Jesus says in Matthew 24:

6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

 14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Note especially the last verse: that the Gospel will be spread to every corner of the world and then the end comes. We have not reached that point yet, and as one popular Christian online plug-in shows, many remote peoples have still not heard the Good News.

In verse 25, Jesus alludes to His own rejection and death, which must occur before anything else can happen related to the heavenly kingdom. During His ministry, the Jewish establishment actively rejected Him, taunting Him wherever He went.

In verses 26 and 27, He refers to the world in Noah’s time. I posted recently on the biblical account of Noah and his family which gives the background to our Lord’s reference here. God sent the flood because (Genesis 6:5-8):

5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

Jesus says that the Second Coming will take place in similar circumstances. He will come whilst people are going about their daily business with many sinning through revelry, hate and evil.

Daily news reports concern war, crime and atrocities so appalling that it is hard to imagine how much worse things can get. We also live in an increasingly secular Western society. Yet, our Lord calls upon us to stand firm in the faith, as did Noah, regardless of the sin around us.

Henry’s commentary discusses the waxing and waning of the Church:

This looks forward to his disciples in after-ages they must expect much disappointment the gospel will not be always preached with equal liberty and success. Ministers and churches will sometimes be under outward restraints. Teachers will be removed into corners, and solemn assemblies scattered. Then they will wish to see such days of opportunity as they have formerly enjoyed, sabbath days, sacrament days, preaching days, praying days[:] these are days of the Son of man, in which we hear from him, and converse with him. The time may come when we may in vain wish for such days. God teaches us to know the worth of such mercies by the want of them. It concerns us, while they are continued, to improve them, and in the years of plenty to lay up in store for the years of famine. Sometimes they will be under inward restraints, will not have such tokens of the presence of the Son of man with them as they have had. The Spirit is withdrawn from them they see not their signs the angel comes not down to stir the waters there is a great stupidity among the children of men, and a great lukewarmness among the children of God then they shall wish to see such victorious triumphant days of the Son of man as they have sometimes seen, when he has ridden forth with his bow and his crown, conquering and to conquer, but they will not see them. Note, We must not think that Christ’s church and cause are lost because not always alike visible and prevailing

The most important things we can do are to pray for more grace and wisdom during these trying times — and to know what God expects of us. May we take this opportunity and use it wisely, especially where our children are concerned. They, especially, will need to know how to conduct themselves in the years ahead during difficult times among sinful people.

Next week’s entry continues our Lord’s discourse on His Second Coming.

Next time: Luke 17:28-37

The Adulterous Woman (Lorenzo Lotto, circa 1527-1529) One of the most unusual aspects of being a Christian in the 21st century is reading what seems to be a constant barrage of biblical reinterpretation by modern ‘experts’.

The Puritan Board forum has lively discussions on Scripture. A recent one concerned the verses John 7:53 (‘They each went to his own house’) through to John 8:11, about which I wrote in 2011.

Bibles often have a notation saying that these verses were not in early editions of the New Testament. I’ll explore that below.

However, in general, it is galling to run across so many modern ‘expert’ opinions on the Bible, as if everyone from the early doctors of the Church to, say, clergy of the mid-20th century were talking out of their collective hat. Atheists often make good use of this modern ‘research’ to discredit Christianity.

In reading through the aforementioned Puritan Board forum thread, I nearly applauded when I read this comment by the Revd Bruce G Buchanan of the ChainOLakes Presbyterian Church in Central Lake, Michigan (emphases mine):

I, for one, will not abdicate my mature discernment to the opinions of “experts,” many of whom are not even believers (no matter how practically reliable their overall ability, or pure their intention). Why should a group of modern scholars–them[selves] not especially cognizant of standing in a long historic line of men equally dedicated to accuracy in transmission–determine for me that I should begin with suspicion of Jn.7:53-8:11 as coming from the Spirit of Christ; when 40-50 generations of my fathers heard Him very well in those same words? Perhaps even decline to share that testimony with me?

A Puritan Board entry from 2007 on the same passage explores these concerns. Admittedly, some ‘modern’ scholarship is actually quite old. That said, it has only been circulated widely in recent years.

As Steve ‘Jerusalem Blade’ Rafalsky, member of a Presbyterian church in Queens, NY, says:

This is a case in point, the destruction and confusion engendered by the secular antichristian criticism that came out of Germany (and Rome as well) some centuries ago. Now even genuine believers are in doubt as to what belongs and what does not belong in their Bibles!

And it will not get better, but worse as the years – and generations, should the Lord tarry a while – pass. Better a sure Bible with some antiquated words than an unsure one. It comes down to this, we have a “Critics’ Bible” and a “believers’ Bible”, the former torn to shreds by a methodology alien to faith, and the latter intact, though suffering ill-repute due to a concerted attack of slander. She remains pure nonetheless.

Rafalsky has spent years studying the Bible and the scholarship connected with it.

The contentious passage from John’s Gospel under discussion contains the story of Jesus forgiving the adulteress, telling her to go and sin no more.

Theologically, the passage is known as the pericope de adultera.

In supporting the pericope de adultera Rafalsky cites Edward F Hills’ The King James Version Defended, 4th Edition (Des Moines: Christian Research Press, 1984).  Excerpts follow:

The story of the woman taken in adultery (called the pericope de adultera) has been rather harshly treated by the modern English versions. The R.V. and the A.S.V. put it in brackets; the R.S.V. relegates it to the footnotes; the N.E.B. follows Westcott and Hort in removing it from its customary place altogether and printing it at the end of the Gospel of John as an independent fragment of unknown origin. The N.E.B. even gives this familiar narrative a new name, to wit, An Incident In the Temple. But as [John William] Burgon has reminded us long ago [1896], this general rejection of these precious verses is unjustifiable.

(a) Ancient Testimony Concerning the Pericope de Adultera (John 7:53-8:11)

The story of the woman taken in adultery was a problem also in ancient times. Early Christians had trouble with this passage. The forgiveness which Christ vouchsafed to the adulteress was contrary to their conviction that the punishment for adultery ought to be very severe. As late as the time of Ambrose (c. 374), bishop of Milan, there were still many Christians who felt such scruples against this portion of John’s Gospel. This is clear from the remarks which Ambrose makes in a sermon on David’s sin. “In the same way also the Gospel lesson which has been read, may have caused no small offense to the unskilled, in which you have noticed that an adulteress was brought to Christ and dismissed without condemnation . . . Did Christ err that He did not judge righteously? It is not right that such a thought should come to our minds etc.” (32)

According to Augustine (c. 400), it was this moralistic objection to the pericope de adultera which was responsible for its omission in some of the New Testament manuscripts known to him. “Certain persons of little faith,” he wrote, “or rather enemies of the true faith, fearing, I suppose, lest their wives should be given impunity in sinning, removed from their manuscripts the Lord’s act of forgiveness toward the adulteress, as if He who had said ‘sin no more’ had granted permission to sin.” (33) Also, in the 10th century a Greek named Nikon accused the Armenians of “casting out the account which teaches us how the adulteress was taken to Jesus . . . saying that it was harmful for most persons to listen to such things.” (34)

That early Greek manuscripts contained this pericope de adultera is proved by the presence of it in the 5th-century Greek manuscript D. That early Latin manuscripts also contained it is indicated by its actual appearance in the Old Latin codices b and e. And both these conclusions are confirmed by the statement of Jerome (c. 415) that “in the Gospel according to John in many manuscripts, both Greek and Latin, is found the story of the adulterous woman who was accused before the Lord.” (35) There is no reason to question the accuracy of Jerome’s statement, especially since another statement of his concerning an addition made to the ending of Mark has been proved to have been correct by the actual discovery of the additional material in W. And that Jerome personally accepted the pericope de adultera as genuine is shown by the fact that he included it in the Latin Vulgate.

Rafalsky also cites John William Burgon’s The Causes of the Corruption of the Traditional Text of the Holy Gospels, by John William Burgon, Edward Miller, ed. (London: George Bell And Sons, 1896), pages 247-249.

Here is a brief excerpt from Burgon demonstrating how widely the early Doctors of the Church cited this passage:

We are thus carried back to the second century of our era: beyond which, testimony does not reach. The pericope is observed to stand in situ [in the same place] in Codd. [Codexes] b c e ff g h j. Jerome (A.D. 385), after a careful survey of older Greek copies, did not hesitate to retain it in the Vulgate. It is freely referred to and commented on by himself in Palestine: while Ambrose at Milan (374) quotes it at least nine times; as well as Augustine in North Africa (396) about twice as often. It is quoted besides by Pacian, in the north of Spain,—by Faustus the African (400),—by Rufinus at Aquileia (400),—by Chrysologus at Ravenna (433),—by Sedulius a Scot (434). The unknown authors of two famous treatises written at the same period, largely quote this portion of the narrative. It is referred to by Victorius or Victorinus (457),—by Vigilius of Tapsus (484) in North Africa,—by Gelasius, bp. of Rome (492),—by Cassiodorus in Southern Italy,—by Gregory the Great, and by other Fathers of the Western Church.

Today’s revisionism regarding this passage and other reinterpretations of the Bible is some of the Devil’s finest work. We would do well to ignore it and read Holy Scripture as it is, being assured that it is the inspired work of the Holy Spirit.

Bible GenevaContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (sermons cited below).

Luke 17:1-4

Temptations to Sin

1 And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin[a] are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! 2It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.[b] Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

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These first four verses of Luke 17 give us important lessons about sin, forgiveness and humility.

Jesus urged His disciples to disregard the Pharisees’ system of legalism and hypocrisy. The Pharisees talked about divine law and imposed an onerous burden on ordinary Jews, however, with the help of their colleagues the religious lawyers, found numerous loopholes for their own religious observance. Their elitist system allowed them to ignore the spiritual health of what they might have called ‘the lesser orders’ and possibly caused countless souls to be condemned for eternity.

Yet, as John MacArthur tells us, even the Old Testament pointed to salvation through imputed righteousness not meritorious works. He explains (emphases mine):

Genesis 15:6. Abraham or Abram believed God, and it was imputed to him as righteousness. Because he believed, God credited His own righteousness, completely alien to all of us, to Abraham. Psalm 103:17, “The loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…listen to this…and His righteousness to children’s children.” He just keeps giving His righteousness to every generation of people who believe in Him.

How were you saved in the Old Testament? You were saved in the Old Testament by believing in God as sovereign Creator, all-holy Judge, understanding, therefore, your own sinfulness and repenting of it before God. Acknowledging the fact that salvation could come only on the basis of sovereign grace, because it couldn’t be earned. Embracing the fact that God is a forgiving God by nature. You come to Him offering nothing but your faith, no works whatsoever, realizing that if you were ever to enter into the presence of God and be considered righteous, it’s going to have to be because some alien righteousness is credited to your account. God will accept you on that basis until He can make you fully righteous in His presence.

Furthermore, as God forgives our sins, our responsibility is to forgive others. The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) says:

forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

In the first verse of Luke 17, Jesus speaks against the Pharisees’ condemnation of Him and His ministry. It is also a warning to unbelievers and believers today. If we cause others to disregard Christ as our Saviour through our words and actions, we, too, will be condemned.

That can include all manner of sin which detracts from the Christian message. MacArthur says that the Greek word used there was skandalon, from which we get ‘scandal’, which originally referred to a baited trap:

When the animal grabs the bait, the stick is released, the trap is closed, the animal is caught. That’s a skandalon, it’s a trap. We know we live in a world of traps. We know we live in a world where people are going to be offended. God’s little ones, God’s children, believers, are going to be offended. And by offended, trapped, harmed, hindered. That’s what it’s talking about. The world is full of stumbling blocks. They’re all over the place, to seduce us directly into error, to seduce us into heresy and false understanding of the Scriptures, false understanding of God and Christ, to seduce us in false understandings of how we are to live our Christian lives. And there are scandalous temptations laid out there to directly or indirectly drive us toward sin. There are all kinds of bad examples and there are all kinds of things that lead us away from righteousness. The world is just filled with them and we, of all generations, are exposed to them in a way that prior generations have not been. There was a time, you know, in the world when you had to see the sinner do the sin to see sin. And now you can see the sinner sin at home pumped into your house on your TV. You can read the ugly details of the sinner and his sin in a book or a magazine or a paper or other media exposure. But there was a time when you had to see the sinner sin to know the sin occurred, but now you can experience it constantly in a barrage of images. It’s a different world and there are all kinds of seductions to evil. It’s inevitable that they come.

Our Lord tells us that it would be better to be drowned with a heavy stone around our neck than to cause others to sin (verse 2). Divine punishment will be that severe. MacArthur explains:

The one who sets the offense in motion is guilty before God…guilty before God. It’s a serious thing and God considers it a serious thing … It’s better to stop him now by an execution than to let him keep doing this because if he is a non-believer, he is only going to incur greater damnation, a hotter hell. If he’s a believer, he is only inviting greater chastening and forfeiture of eternal reward. Better that he be dead. Better that he die a horrific death now than to continue to offend and therefore accumulate ongoing damnation.

Why did Jesus choose drowning in this warning? Because it was a Roman import. The Jews were not only terrified of this method of punishment but also considered it as one for Gentiles. Therefore, Jesus’s words have added impact. MacArthur notes:

The Romans did that. The Jews did not do that. In fact, the rabbis taught that drowning was for Gentiles, not for Jews at all.

In verse 3, Jesus says the right thing to do is to call a sinner’s attention to his transgressions. If he acknowledges that he regrets them and turns his behaviour around — repents — then we are to forgive him (or her!). MacArthur says that Jesus speaks of persistent, serious sin:

So we beware of offending and we beware of being indifferent to the sins of others. The Pharisees, they didn’t care about the sinners … We don’t lead people into sin, we lead them out of it. And that starts with rebuke …

Matthew gives the process. The process, is if your brother sins you go to him. If he repents, you gain your brother. It’s over. If he doesn’t repent, you take two or three with you so that you can confront his sin again and confirm his response. If he still doesn’t repent, you tell the church and the whole church goes to call that person back. That’s a concern that holy people have for the debilitating sins that find their way into the lives of the fellowship. This is done out of love. You that are spiritual restore such a one in love…Galatians 6. We don’t sit by and watch some sinner go off into a pattern of sin without caring.

However, MacArthur warns that our Lord did not intend us to turn into nagging busybodies:

Not every sin is to be confronted, please. Love covers a multitude of sins. We don’t want this to go berzerk. It’s those sinful patterns, it’s those sins that are destructive, long-term pattern. It doesn’t mean that every time you say a thoughtless word, or every time you fail to do something you ought to have done, or you have a slip up here or there, somebody has to set confrontation in motion. No … I’ve giving my wife‘s testimony. She couldn’t live with me if she had to confront every failure in my life. This would be a rather dominating feature of life. Love covers. You couldn’t do that with a dear friend, you couldn’t do that even with your children, or children with parents. You couldn’t do that in the fellowship. But there are some sins that effect the life in a turning sense that send it in a new direction and impact the church, and those have to be dealt with. And for those kinds of things, forgiveness becomes conditional. And that’s what he’s talking about. It’s those kinds of sins that you rebuke that must be repented of.

Jesus concludes His brief discourse by saying that if someone sins against us multiple times — even in one day — and says that he repents each time, we are to forgive him each time (verse 4). MacArthur explains that if we do not forgive, God will not completely forgive us, even if we are eternally saved:

Until a believer forgives, he remains in a temporal sense unforgiven. While in an eternal sense we are forgiven, that’s in our justification, in a temporal sense we can be in a condition of being unforgiven in our sanctification. In one sense, all my sins are forgiven because Christ paid the penalty in full. But in another sense, as I go through this world and sin, God will not continually forgive me on a parental level, on a temporal level which opens up blessing and joy to me unless I am forgiving others.

No doubt a number of us have a nemesis in our families or at work or both. They’re draining influences. Our spirits fall a bit every time we encounter them. They might hold grudges against us and we against them. These can last for months or years. Alternatively, we might be angry with a certain institution, e.g. church, employer, political party.

This negative energy, MacArthur says, might well be preventing us from reaching peace of mind in our lives. On this subject, he has an interesting observation, which could well be true:

I think there are Christian people who have had their sins forgiven on an eternal sense, but on a temporal sense, they’re not enjoying the rich fellowship that they should with God and they’re undergoing discipline from Him because they don’t forgive others. They carry around bitterness. I think the emptiness in people’s lives, even those who are Christians, depression, dullness, lack of joy is often due to withheld blessing, withheld forgiveness, guilt and chastening from God.

Offline, I know many churchgoers and clergy who have no end of emotional or psychological problems. My better half often asks, ‘How can a churchgoer or clergyman be clinically depressed?’ MacArthur posits that reason, which seems plausible.

Our modern society is an unforgiving one, even though we believers are always talking about peace, unity and reconciliation. (We had more of all three in the old days when we weren’t talking about them all the time.)

Yet, we look in our hearts and are angry.

We are often calm on the outside, but what’s going on inside?

Some Anglicans are angry because we don’t have female bishops in most of the Anglican Communion. Some leftist churchmen are angry because we don’t have a ‘fair and just’ way of life in a fallen world. Traditionalists and modernists scoff or rail at each other’s interpretation of Christianity. Those are just a few church-oriented examples. The list is endless.

We would do well to pray for grace to forgive others and, in turn, be divinely forgiven. This is why I advocate prayer and Bible reading over a primary focus on things that will never be resolved in this world.

That doesn’t mean we should not try to improve the Church and the secular realm. However, if we turn our attention more to our everyday blessings — and learn to forgive others — we would find this task easier.

As Matthew Henry’s commentary for the first few verses of Luke 17 says:

That we have all need to get our faith strengthened, because, as that grace grows, all other graces grow. The more firmly we believe the doctrine of Christ, and the more confidently we rely upon the grace of Christ, the better it will be with us every way

Next time: Luke 17:20-27

h5 style=

Bible penngrovechurchofchristorgContinuing a study of the passages from Luke’s Gospel which have been omitted from the three-year Lectionary for public worship, today’s post is part of my ongoing series Forbidden Bible Verses, also essential to understanding Scripture.

The following Bible passages have been excluded from the three-year Lectionary used by many Catholic and Protestant churches around the world.

Do some clergy using the Lectionary want us understand Holy Scripture in its entirety? You decide.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Luke 16:18

Divorce and Remarriage

 18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

——————————————————————————

Last week’s passage from Luke 16 concluded with:

17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

The context is our Lord’s pointedly rebuking the Pharisees’ hypocrisy.

He takes on divorce because of the way the religious hierarchy approached it, writing their own rules on top of God’s.

John MacArthur tells us that there were many ways in which a man, particularly a highly-placed Pharisee, could divorce his wife. The esteemed Rabbi Hillel devised these and, for those of us who know the name through the Jewish university-oriented charity of the same name, they come as a shock (emphases mine below):

… fortunately for the Pharisees, along came Rabbi Hillel. He lived the last 50 years of B.C. and Rabbi Hillel came up with his very popular interpretation that whatever you decide is uncleanness to you is uncleanness and the point of the passage is when you decide it’s an uncleanness, you have a right to divorce her. They stopped at that point. They didn’t bother with, “and when you remarry you commit adultery,” etc. They had twisted that. Hillel conveniently had worked his machinations with the text to make it a permission to divorce your wife for some uncleanness and go ahead and marry another, total misinterpretation and total misrepresentation and I might just add hastily that false religion is very adept at misinterpretation and unable to make accurate interpretations. And so, by the way, here was Rabbi Hillel’s list. Here are the causes for divorce…burning dinner, lousy food, too much salt, spinning in the street so someone saw her knees, taking her hair down, saying something unkind about her mother-in-law, infertility, not giving you a son, or finding someone prettier makes her in your eyes unclean and then there’s a whole lot of blanks. You can fill in your own, very convenient interpretation, a very happy one for the Pharisees, and they didn’t bother to interpret the rest of it accurately so they were proliferating divorces. When they saw somebody they liked better or somebody that was nicer or they were tired of having lousy food or whatever for any excuse.

The Jewish Encyclopedia says the same thing:

The origin of the Jewish law of divorce is found in the constitution of the patriarchal family. The fundamental principle of its government was the absolute authority of the oldest male ascendent; hence the husband, as the head of the family, divorced the wife at his pleasure. The manner in which Hagar was dismissed by Abraham illustrates the exercise of this authority (Gen. xxi. 9-14). This ancient right of the husband to divorce his wife at his pleasure is the central thought in the entire system of Jewish divorce law. It was not set aside by the Rabbis, though its severity was tempered by numerous restrictive measures. It was not until the eleventh century that the absolute right of the husband to divorce his wife at will was formally abolished.

Both MacArthur and the Jewish Encyclopedia mention Rabbi Shammai, who said that divorce could take place only in the case of sexual infidelity.

The Jewish Encyclopedia explains the difference between the two schools of thought. Please note the last sentence:

In the Mishnaic period the theory of the law that the husband could divorce his wife at will was challenged by the school of Shammai. It interpreted the text of Deut. xxiv. 1 in such a manner as to reach the conclusion that the husband could not divorce his wife except for cause, and that the cause must be sexual immorality (Git. ix. 10; Yer. Soṭah i. 1, 16b). The school of Hillel, however, held that the husband need not assign any reason whatever; that any act on her part which displeased him entitled him to give her a bill of divorce (Giṭ. ib.). The opinion of the school of Hillel prevailed. Philo of Alexandria (“Of Special Laws Relating to Adultery,” etc., ch. v.; English ed., ii. 310, 311) and Josephus (“Ant.” iv. 8) held this opinion. Jesus seems to have held the view of the school of Shammai (Matt. xix. 3-9).

MacArthur explains Jesus’s statement, which condemns frivolous divorces:

“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?” That’s what they believed. That’s what they did and he answered and said, “Didn’t you read in the book of Genesis that He who created them from the beginning and made them male and female and said, ‘For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. The two shall become one flesh. Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.'” Marriage is two people coming together constituting now one flesh indivisible for life. That’s the divine pattern ...

And so Jesus is saying, “Look, you’re accusing Me of being a lawbreaker. You’re the lawbreakers. You’re divorcing your wives all over the place for burning your dinner, for putting too much salt on it, because you found somebody you liked better. I’m upholding that law.” And of course, in the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ, God forgives all violations of law to the one who repents. They didn’t understand grace and the gospel and they certainly didn’t adhere to a true interpretation of the law.

Matthew 19 has more on this conversation about divorce:

3And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”[a]

This is no doubt why some couples separate in situations where a serious issue other than adultery is involved.

MacArthur explains the Old Testament passages to which Jesus referred:

Jesus here is referring back to that Deuteronomic law in Deuteronomy 24 in which there are no exceptions. He’s simply reiterating that law but that has to be taken in comparison with a couple of other passages. Since God in His common grace had allowed the death penalty for adultery to disappear, and it is a kind of common grace; since God graciously had allowed the nations to go their own way sinfully and not punish adultery with death, there was a provision for divorce under one condition …  Jesus is saying this is taking it all the way back to the original law with the one exception that if there is the cause of immorality, unchastity, sexual sin, then there is a granting of the right to a divorce.

the death penalty not being enforced, even back in Moses’ day, there was a concession that you who have been offended by immoral conduct of a spouse can divorce …

We find the same statement in Matthew 5:31-32:

Divorce

 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

These are difficult verses to accept and understand. I struggle with them myself.

On the other hand, for too many couples, divorce is the first thought which comes to mind at the first sign of marital disagreements which could be resolved with care and consideration.

Too many people today also tend to marry because the sex is good and they’re having fun together. When that comes to an end, they look elsewhere. Not so different to the Pharisees, then. Maybe that is a reason why Scripture forbids fornication. As the old saying goes, ‘Kissin’ don’t last, cookin’ do’.

There are also a number of men — I can think of three whom I know personally — who divorced their wives when their sons became teenagers. Being a full-time father seems to have become too much for them. Only one of these men went off with another woman. The others just want to be left alone except on weekends.

Marriage is full of trials and death. It’s not a bed of roses, but a solid friendship between the betrothed enables them as a married couple to survive with a deeper love and affection for each other. God works His grace and blesses an informed choice of spouse. This is why it is important to pray and use discernment when deciding whether to marry.

In closing, Matthew Henry’s commentary has this gem on marriage:

Christ will not allow divorces, for his gospel is intended to strike at the bitter root of men’s corrupt appetites and passions, to kill them, and pluck them up and therefore they must not be so far indulged as that permission did indulge them, for the more they are indulged the more impetuous and headstrong they grow.

Point taken.

Next time: Luke 17:1-4

My preceding post summarised the influence that Huguenots had on English society and culture.

Today’s looks at a generational example of how the descendants of Huguenots continued the same tradition. Sir Samuel Romilly was one such example.

Although children and grandchildren of Huguenots absorbed the value of education and hard work, some found that their faith began to wane. This is probably not surprising, given that, by this time, the Age of Enlightenment was in full flow and secularism became more popular.

In his article ‘England’s “First Refugees”‘, historian Dr Robin Gwynn cites the story of Samuel Romilly for whom the eponymous street in London’s Soho is named. Romilly was born in nearby Frith Street.

Before we come to Gwynn’s account of Romilly’s thoughts about his heritage, Wikipedia describes his origins:

Romilly was … the second son of Peter Romilly, a watchmaker and jeweller. His grandfather had emigrated from Montpellier after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and had married Margaret Garnault, a Huguenot refugee like himself, but of a far wealthier family. Samuel served for a time in his father’s shop; he was well-educated, becoming a good classical scholar and particularly conversant with French literature. A legacy of £2000 from one of his mother’s relations led to his being articled to a solicitor and clerk in chancery with the idea of qualifying himself to purchase the office of one of the six clerks in chancery.

Romilly went on to have a radical influence on English law:

In 1808, he managed to repeal the Elizabethan statute which made it a capital offence to steal from the person … in 1812 he had repealed a statute of Elizabeth I making it a capital offence for a soldier or a mariner to beg without a pass from a magistrate or his commanding officer. In 1813 he failed to pass a law which would have abolished corruption of blood [prohibiting inheritance from a criminal] for all crimes, but in the following year he tried again and succeeded (except for treason and murder). Also in 1814 he succeeded in abolishing hanging, drawing and quartering.

In addition to the learned circles in which he mixed locally, Romilly also had many influential friends in France with whom he exchanged ideas. These helped to affect his view of the law. His reputation was such that he became highly popular in political circles and was knighted. He served as Solicitor General and as a Whig MP for three different constituencies on the Sussex coast.

He also helped William Wilberforce and other fellow MPs to abolish slavery in 1807:

The trade was abolished by a resounding 283 to 16. According to Thomas Clarkson, it was the largest majority recorded on any issue where the House divided. Romilly felt it to be “the most glorious event, and the happiest for mankind, that has ever taken place since human affairs have been recorded.”

Now to Gwynn’s information about Romilly and his ancestors:

His great-grandfather, a landowner at Montpellier, had remained in the south of France after the Revocation, but continued to worship in Protestant ways within the security of his own home, and brought up his children as Protestants. It was Samuel’s grandfather, Etienne, who became a refugee in 1701, at the age of seventeen. He went to Geneva for the specific purpose of receiving Communion, and there decided not to return home but to go instead to London. Only then did he inform his family of his decision, but his father accepted the situation and sent money to him from France which helped him establish himself as a wax-bleacher in Hoxton, It is typical of first-generation refugees to marry others of their own kind, and Etienne married Judith de Monsallier, the daughter of another Huguenot immigrant.

Samuel Romilly’s father, Peter, was apprenticed to a Frenchman in the City, a jeweller named Lafosse. In due course Peter[,] too[,] married the daughter of a refugee, Margaret Gamault, so Samuel was brought up in surroundings which retained strong Huguenot influences.

Samuel Romilly later recalled attending church twice on Sundays. His father Peter alternated these visits between the Anglican parish church and the French church of which he was a member. Peter was also intent on practising charity, which Samuel noted held more importance for his father than religious practice.

Samuel had poor impressions of the French church, parts of which sound as if they could have been written yesterday:

Most of the descendants of the refugees were born and bred in England, and desired nothing less than to preserve the memory of their origin; and their chapels were therefore ill-attended. A large uncouth room, the avenues to which were narrow courts and dirty alleys, and which, when you entered it, presented to the view only irregular unpainted pews and dusty plastered walls; a congregation consisting principally of some strange-looking old women scattered here and there, one or two in a pew, and a clergyman reading the service and preaching in a monotonous tone of voice, and in a language not familiar to me, was not likely either to impress my mind with much religious awe, or to attract my attention to the doctrines which were delivered.

His impressions of attending French school were no better.

With regard to organised religion, he seems to have been ambivalent. On the one hand, he continued to attend the aforementioned French church as an adult and was delighted when John Roget became pastor there. He and Roget became close friends, to the extent that Samuel’s sister Catherine married the minister.

However, John appears to have died at a young age. His and Catherine’s son, Peter Mark Roget (1779 – 1869), remained close to his uncle Samuel. Peter Roget, incidentally, was a physician, then after retirement, compiled the first Roget’s Thesaurus. Such detailed list-making helped him to combat depression. His son John Lewis Roget and grandson Samuel Romilly Roget expanded his work. You can find out more about Peter Mark Roget here; he also invented the slide rule. He was also the secretary for the Royal Society for 21 years and invented a pocket chessboard.

With the loss of his clergyman brother-in-law John, it is possible that Samuel Romilly drifted further away from the faith. John might have had some part to play as well. It was he who introduced Samuel to Rousseau’s work. That said, it appears that Samuel continued to attend church, at least occasionally. As an MP, he recorded in his diary (Memoirs of the Life of Sir Samuel Romilly, Volume 2, p. 301):

Oct. 25. After Church, and after I had sat in court, I went to Bishop Auckland, and passed the rest of the day there. 

Although he admired the concept of the French Revolution, he was highly critical of its atheistic nature. Spartacus Educational explains:

In 1790 he published a pamphlet Thoughts on the probable influence of the French Revolution on Great Britain. Rose Melikan, has argued: ” … His own indoctrination in Anglicanism and French Calvinism had not inspired a very profound dedication to organized religion. He felt that the French anti-clericalism, however, was both unreasonable and likely to presage further persecution.” Romilly later admitted that the French Revolution produced “among the higher orders… a horror of every kind of innovation”.

Romilly continued his father’s charitable efforts by serving as a director of the French Protestant Hospital in London.

It is unfortunate that, upon hearing of the death of his beloved wife on the Isle of Wight, he secluded himself in a room in his house in Russell Square, London, and slit his throat. His aforementioned nephew Peter Roget — still traumatised by his father’s and wife’s premature deaths — attended to his uncle in his final moments on October 29, 1818. Although Wikipedia states Romilly is buried in a family vault in Radnorshire, Wales, Find A Grave’s biography by Iain MacFarliane states that he is buried in his wife Anne’s hometown of Knill, Herefordshire, in St Michael’s and All Angels churchyard.

There are more examples of Huguenots and their descendants who similarly changed society and culture in dramatic ways. I’ll take a closer look at their stories in August 2015, God willing.

For now, here is Dr Gwynn’s summary of this particular generation in England:

by and large it was the members of his – the third – generation of refugees who were the last to show any profound awareness of the Huguenot character of their families. In 1787 those Protestants who remained in France finally won toleration, and shortly afterwards special rights were offered to Huguenot descendants who might wish to return there. Very few of those who had crossed the Channel can have been tempted, for assimilation was complete. What had been French had become British.

Yesterday’s post covered the Huguenot influence on the Channel Islands, Jersey in particular. It also looked at General — or Marshal — Vauban’s statistics on the wealth, expertise and military training the Huguenots were taking from France.

Religious persecution can have a profound effect on the nation of origin — in this case, France — and the new host nation for refugees, the second most popular of which was England.

Dr Robin Gwynn — author, historian and retired professor — deplores our late 20th century loss of history, particularly that of the Huguenots. In 1985, he told the Christian Science Monitor of his astonishment that a 1978 volume covering the period between 1658 and 1714 has no mention of the French Protestants who fled to Britain, principally England.

Gwynn was referring to Crown and Court by J R Jones. Jones, by way of reply to the Monitor, said he thought the Huguenots were little more than a footnote.  Jones is not alone. A contemporary of his, Professor John Kenyon of St Andrew’s University in Scotland, is equally dismissive of this large wave of immigrants — approximately 50,000 people in a country with a population of a little over 5 million during Louis XIV’s reign. Afterward, the Huguenots continued to migrate to England. By the mid-18th century, 500,000 had arrived.

Gwynn says that the Huguenots’ influence on English society should not be forgotten:

They knew that in the 19th century. If you read [the English historian] Macaulay, he was well aware of the Huguenot input. In 1900, you couldn’t possibly have written a history of Stuart England without mentioning the Huguenots. But in the 1980s you can. 

The Monitor explains:

In England, Huguenots were spread across a range of classes, although they were mainly urban in origin. Their mark was left on painting, sculpture, acting, teaching, and medicine.

Moreover, the Huguenots seem to have forced on England a greater degree of religious tolerance …

Not to mention their fine goods manufacture: silk weaving, lace trims, furniture, jewellery, silversmithing and watchmaking.

The Monitor then cites two important details which prove that Vauban was right about the Huguenots’ departure weakening France militarily and economically:

Huguenot presence in the English Army became a significant factor in the eventual defeat of Louis XIV.

In finance, too, the Huguenots were prominent: They provided 10 percent of the initial capital for the Bank of England, and six of the original governors, including the chairman, were Huguenots.

Gwynn developed his interest in the French Protestants because his mother was the first official researcher for the Huguenot Society of London. She also wrote the standard book on the history of the Huguenots in Ireland.

Incidentally, Gwynn spoke at the 1985 tercentenary commemorations of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in Jersey, the subject of my previous post.

I have found his summaries of his research and his books to be not only informative but fascinating to read. The following information comes from his article for History Today called ‘England’s “First Refugees”‘. (The transcribed article has several glaring punctuation and spelling errors.)

As I wrote yesterday of countries which welcomed the Huguenots:

These nations, among others, were known to the French as pays du Refuge. In fact, the word refugié (refugee) is hardly a new one. It came about with the escape of the Huguenots from France and was first coined in 1681 (see p. 4 of the PDF, a talk by historian Robin Gwynn).

Gwynn tells us this was often shortened to rés.

Popularity of England — and London

England proved a popular destination, second only to the Netherlands. The Huguenots’ faith would be well received with freedom of practice unhindered.

Most who fled to England were highly skilled craftsmen or learning the trades, as a number of poorer Huguenots were among them. Others were in the main professions — e.g. law, medicine. A few Protestant noblemen also made a new home for themselves. Whatever the status, literacy was good to strong as was assimilation into society.

The English — then as now — were fond of French merchandise, particularly at the upper end of the scale. Therefore, Huguenots gravitated to London, found a French congregation, met its members and secured work through it. Whilst not all made a fortune, they were at least nearly guaranteed to make a living and support a family. A number of Huguenot charities were in existence which helped, too.

Huguenots coming from French seaports often preferred to settle along or near the southern and southwest coast from Kent to Bristol.

Further north, they were fewer. The markets were not as favourable as London’s, although Chester and Edinburgh both had small Huguenot settlements.

Reaction of the English

Then — as now — there was a natural suspicion of the French, based on longstanding history dating back to the Norman Conquest. Those in lesser positions of work also feared that the new arrivals would take their jobs.

As Gwynn says:

The appearance of so many people fleeing government action abroad had no previous parallels in English history … Not until the nineteenth century can any other swell of refugees be said to compare remotely with the Huguenots.

However, nearly everyone — from whatever social class they came from — understood that the Huguenots were being mercilessly persecuted in France by a Catholic king. Public opinion soon changed to a more empathetic and welcoming one.

Rapid assimilation

The first sign of Huguenot assimilation was in their surnames. Depending on the clerk who was processing paperwork upon their arrival, it happened sooner rather than later:

‘Lacklead’ has a Scottish, ‘Bursicott’ a West Country air; they are what Englishmen made of de la Clide and de Boursaquotte when they first encountered those Huguenot names.

That said, as in South Africa, a number of Huguenot surnames survive today:

names like Bosanquet, Courtauld, Dollond, Gambier, Garrick, Minet, Portal, Tizard. A few, such as de Gruchy, Le Fanu, Lefevre, Lefroy or Ouvry, still immediately strike one as of foreign origin.

Some Hugenot families anglicised their family names themselves from:

Andrieu, Boulanger, Barbier, de la Croix, Forestier, Reynard, Le Cerf, Mareschal, Le Moine, de la Neuvemaison, de la Pierre, Blanc and Dubois

to

Andrews, Baker, Barber, Cross, Forrester, Fox, Hart, Marshall, Monk, Newhouse, Peters, White, Wood.

One man who did so was the famous actor David Garrick’s grandfather — also named David. Wikipedia tells us (emphases mine):

Garrick’s grandfather, David Garric, was in Bordeaux in 1685 when the Edict of Nantes was abolished, revoking the rights of Protestants in France. David Garric fled to London and his son, Peter, who was an infant at the time, was later smuggled out by a nurse when he was deemed old enough to make the journey. David Garric became a British subject upon his arrival in Britain and anglicised the name to Garrick.[2]

Gwynn says the Huguenots settled in to English society relatively quickly with the following result:

The number of Huguenots who sought refuge in England was so large, in relation to a national population of perhaps five and a half million at the end of the seventeenth century, that assimilation and intermarriage mean that most English readers of this journal will have some Huguenot blood in their veins.

Allegiance to England

The Huguenots maintained their good social and religious reputation in England. In addition, their contribution to commerce and intellectual life won them friends among the English.

The Huguenots also felt an allegiance to their new host country. As I mentioned above, they fought with the English to defeat Louis XIV. They also opposed Bonnie Prince Charlie:

[W]hen the Young Pretender appeared in 1745, the Huguenots were quick to come forward with loyal addresses promising men for service against him.

Their loyalty never waned, even through successive generations.

Tomorrow’s post examines the life of Samuel Romilly, a descendant of Huguenots. London’s eponymous street in Soho is named after him.

My past two posts — here and here — looked at Huguenots settling in South Africa, thanks to the efforts of the Netherlands and the Dutch East India Company.

Other Huguenots found European countries more to their liking, among them England and the Channel Islands. These nations, among others, were known to the French as pays du Refuge. In fact, the word refugié (refugee) is hardly a new one. It came about with the escape of the Huguenots from France and was first coined in 1681 (see p. 4 of the PDF, a talk by historian Robin Gwynn).

This timeline describes the long persecution of French Protestants. Some were allowed to settle in England under Edward VI’s and Elizabeth I’s reigns in the 16th century. Elizabeth I also helped to finance the Huguenot effort in France, as did Germany (see item 9 of the timeline).

After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in October 1685, opinion among powerful Frenchmen was divided. Whilst many lauded Louis XIV’s decree, General Vauban sounded the alarm regarding the Huguenot flight four years later in 1689:

- 80,000 to 100,000 people had left;

- 30 million livres (‘pounds’, their currency at the time) went with them, in cash;

- France’s high-end craftsmanship and luxury goods industry — a lucrative source of exports — were ruined with their departure;

- 8,000 to 9,000 sailors had defected, ‘the best in the kingdom’;

- 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers along with 500 to 600 officers had deserted, ‘more warlike’ than those of the countries to which they had escaped — potentially putting France in grave danger in her ongoing conflicts, especially with England.

In England, suspicions grew over James II’s seeming support of Louis XIV. Noblemen, politicians and everyday people believed James II was trying to stamp out the Protestant faith. The establishment’s opposition to his reign led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the accession of William of Orange (Dutch) to the throne. My post explains (emphases mine):

In order to bring England back to the Catholic Church, James II increased his standing army to 40,000 men.  Innkeepers who refused to accommodate Army officers lost their licences.  He also used the newly developed post office as a means of spying on dissenters.  He also ensured that local government officials supported him and filled Parliament with men who were onside.

A number of Christians in England — mostly Protestants, but even a number of Catholics — opposed this illiberal approach.  So, too, did the prominent political parties at the time, the Whigs and the Tories.  Together, they managed, despite the lack of instant communication we know today, to build a network to oppose James II’s reforms.  This revolt, known as the Glorious Revolution of 1688, was less bloody than the subsequent French revolution of 1789 (in which revolt against the monarchy and the Church featured prominently).  Nonetheless, it was marked by intense and violent popular uprisings which culminated in an Anglo-Dutch military invasion which saw William of Orange become King of England …

The Glorious Revolution was short, ending the following year.   Yet, it paved the way for the Acts of Union in 1707, readying the country for the Industrial Revolution and the building of the British Empire.  England became a modern, liberal state by becoming a constitutional monarchy, which effectively did away with the notion of the divine right of kings.  Parliament created a Bill of Rights which, among other things, guaranteed freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right of petition and abolition of cruel and unusual punishments.

During this time, the island of Jersey, close to the French mainland as are the other Channel Islands, was a popular first port of call and, for some, final destination for fleeing Huguenots.

Jersey still retains a French flavour and combines the best of France and British influence.

In 1985, the Société Jersiaise commemorated the 300th anniversary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. To assemble the most history as possible of their Huguenot families, they called on a number of sources, including the Huguenot Society of London. They also invited guest speakers, including some from France, to talk about this period of history. As Marguerite Syrvet explains in her article (linked above):

Stories of evacuation, escape by sea, deportation, helped us to recreate the circumstances of those earlier migrations. Escape routes, safe houses, trusted guides, information by word of mouth or on scraps of paper led to La Rochelle or Granville, recognised ports of escape. 

She describes two stories of refugees. Louis Moquet, who died in 1789, related his to his grand-daughter Marie Chevalier. Since then, it has stayed in the family:

A native of Poitou, Moquet was forced to wander from place to place to avoid his enemies: ‘The persecutions in France against the French Protestants constrained him to fly for refuge to the island of Jersey. Having been married by a Protestant minister, he was in danger of being sent to the galleys for life. His wife was taken from him and placed in a convent, where she remained eighteen months. Whilst there she gave birth to a child who died soon after. One of the nuns, moved with compassion, promised to help her to escape, provided she would not discover it.

Mrs Moquet made this known to her husband in Jersey who went over to Granville. With the assistance of friends she escaped in the night and, having joined her husband, went over with him to Jersey. Louis prospered and was appointed ‘distributor of the Royal Bounty to Protestant refugees’.

The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland explains more about this Royal Bounty. They add that it can be useful for those tracing their Huguenot heritage. That said, they advise that people know in advance roughly where in England or the Channel Islands one’s ancestors lived.

Ironically, given the history above, James II instituted the Royal Bounty in 1686, the year after the Revocation of the Treaty of Nantes. The Royal Bounty continued through the reign of George III.

In 1804, Parliament ruled that the Bounty be paid to existing pensioners only. The last Huguenot pensioner died in 1876, as did the Bounty.

An English Committee managed the funds which they delegated to the French Committee made up of prestigious and well-respected Huguenots to distribute accordingly. An Ecclesiastical Committee was in charge of donating funds to poor Huguenot clergymen.

Distributions were made to the following categories of Protestant refugees: Noblesse or People of Quality, the Bourgeoisie or People of the Middling Sort and the Common People. Bounty records often are good with the first two groups but less so with the last. Some receipts of people signing for money have also been preserved. This is why the Bounty documentation can be helpful to genealogists.

Returning to Jersey by way of Marguerite Syvret’s article, she tells of another true Jersey story, related to Charles Dickens which he included in an 1853 edition of his journal, Household Words. It involves Magdalen Lefebvre whose great-granddaughter, in turn, related it to Dickens:

Farmer Lefebvre lived in Normandy on a small, self-sufficient estate producing honey, vegetables, poultry and livestock to feed his family; sheep, hemp and flax to provide wool, linen and fine thread to clothe them. On a rare visit to the market at Avranches to purchase a cow he learnt of the Revocation and its implications. His wife was an invalid unable to travel, but lest their infant daughter, Magdalen, be taken from them to a convent, they arranged for her to be sent to Jersey. Wrapped in a mattress half concealed in sackcloth and a load of straw, the child was taken by horse and cart to Granville and entrusted to the owner of a fishing smack with apples and pears for Jersey, where the orchard crops had failed.

With her went a trunk containing her unfinished trousseau begun at her birth by her mother and made with fine spun thread from home grown flax. Willing hands took her from Jersey to London to be brought up by maiden aunts.

The schoolchildren of Jersey took part in an essay-writing competition concerning the island’s Huguenot influence. One essay quoted the Victorian author and civic reformer, Samuel Smiles, a Scot who was raised as a Reformed Presbyterian. Although he discontinued religious practice as an adult, he blended Calvinist values into his works, the most famous of which is Self-Help. Of Jersey and the Huguenots, Smiles wrote:

Although the refugees for the most part regarded the Channel Islands as merely temporary places of refuge … a sufficient number remained to determine the Protestant character of the community and completely to transform the islands by their industry; since which time Jersey and Guernsey, from being among the most backward and miserable places on the face of the earth, have come to be recognised as among the most happy and prosperous.

They continue to be so today and prove to be delightful holiday destinations. Those who are able to live there permanently are blessed indeed.

More will follow tomorrow on the Huguenots in England.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/90/South-Africa_Johannesburg_Botanical_Garden-011.jpg/800px-South-Africa_Johannesburg_Botanical_Garden-011.jpg

Yesterday’s post looked at the Huguenot migration to South Africa. The plaque of their family names (pictured above, courtesy of Wikipedia) is located in the Johannesburg Botanical Garden.

The Huguenot Society of South Africa has a page with a list of family names and describes their history in the country.  H C Viljoen, the author of the article, tells us that not all the original names survive today because offspring were daughters.

Viljoen describes the Dutch East India Company’s offer to the persecuted French-speaking Protestants. The Dutch were primarily Calvinist and saw like-minded co-religionists in the Huguenots. That meant their worship and values would be the same. However, the Dutch knew of their expertise in a number of fields which made them attractive candidates to settle in South Africa.

Huguenot families could bring only a minimum of possessions on board. The Dutch East India Company was interested in increasing the number of farms in South Africa. The Company’s plan was to focus initially on wheat and sheep farming. They gave interested Huguenots land, implements, seed and/or livestock free of charge. Any harvest or proceeds from livestock or meat sales would go to the Company as reimbursement. The Company thought that crops and livestock would bring in income more reliably than viticulture (growing grapes for wine and vinegar), which came later.

With regard to wine, the number of vines grew quickly, from 100 in 1655 to 1.5 million by 1700. Successive generations of growers have improved growing and production methods to create a superior product known around the world. A number of the estates still bear their original French names. Viljoen writes:

The De Villiers brothers in particular arrived at the Cape with a reputation for viticulture and oenology. Through the years the De Villiers brothers planted more than 40 000 vines at the Cape.  They moved from the original farm allocated to them (which they named La Rochelle) to finally settle on individual allottments near Franschhoek with the names Bourgogne, Champagne and La Brie.

Franschhoek, incidentally, translates as ‘French Corner’.

Those Huguenots who did not pursue agriculture agreed with the Company to pursue a trade or profession, e.g. medicine, teaching, carpentry, hat-making.

Viljoen makes an important point regarding Huguenot assimilation into Afrikaner society, one which today’s immigrants might do well to keep in mind (emphases mine):

The Huguenots did indeed leave a direct and indirect legacy in South Africa. They did not continue to live as an separate, clearly identifiable subgroup. Already early in the eighteenth century they were assimilated by the rest of the population at the Cape as a result of both political measures and their minority numbers.  But despite their relatively small numbers, they nevertheless left an indelible mark on and made a valuable contribution during the early years of the settlement at the Cape of Good Hope to various areas – economy, education, technology, agriculture, culture, church life, religion, etc. 

HuguenotMemorialMuseum.jpgTo honour their memory, South Africans have erected several monuments. The two most prominent are the Huguenot Memorial Museum and the Huguenot Monument (pictured at right, courtesy of Wikipedia). Both are in Franschhoek.

The Monument’s Wikipedia entry (click this link then on the monument picture for an expanded view) explains the symbolism behind the design:

The monument was designed by J.C. Jongens, completed in 1945 and inaugurated by Dr. A.J van der Merwe on 17 April 1948.

The three high arches symbolize the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On top of the arches is the sun of righteousness and above that, the cross of their Christian faith.

The central female figure, created by Coert Steynberg, personifies religious freedom with a bible in her one hand and broken chain in the other. She is casting off her cloak of oppression and her position on top of the globe shows her spiritual freedom. The fleur-de-lis on her robe represents a noble spirit and character.

The southern tip of the globe shows the symbols of their religion (the Bible), art and culture (the harp), the agriculture and viticulture (the sheaf of corn and grape vine) and industry (spinning wheel).

The water pond, reflecting the colonnade behind it, expresses the undisturbed tranquility of mind and spiritual peace the Huguenots experienced after much conflict and strife.

It is a fitting tribute to a deserving people.

We can learn much from the Huguenot example in being responsible, faithful Christians.

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