Previous William Thomas Sherman Info Page postings, quotes, observations, etc.
from CHAPTER XV — FRIDAY’S EDUCATION
...I endeavoured to clear up this fraud to my man Friday; and told him that the pretence of their old men going up to the mountains to say O to their god Benamuckee [god of the Caribee cannibals] was a cheat; and their bringing word from thence what he said was much more so; that if they met with any answer, or spake with any one there, it must be with an evil spirit; and then I entered into a long discourse with him about the devil, the origin of him, his rebellion against God, his enmity to man, the reason of it, his setting himself up in the dark parts of the world to be worshipped instead of God, and as God, and the many stratagems he made use of to delude mankind to their ruin; how he had a secret access to our passions and to our affections, and to adapt his snares to our inclinations, so as to cause us even to be our own tempters, and run upon our destruction by our own choice.
I found it was not so easy to imprint right notions in his mind about the devil as it was about the being of a God. Nature assisted all my arguments to evidence to him even the necessity of a great First Cause, an overruling, governing Power, a secret directing Providence, and of the equity and justice of paying homage to Him that made us, and the like; but there appeared nothing of this kind in the notion of an evil spirit, of his origin, his being, his nature, and above all, of his inclination to do evil, and to draw us in to do so too; and the poor creature puzzled me once in such a manner, by a question merely natural and innocent, that I scarce knew what to say to him. I had been talking a great deal to him of the power of God, His omnipotence, His aversion to sin, His being a consuming fire to the workers of iniquity; how, as He had made us all, He could destroy us and all the world in a moment; and he listened with great seriousness to me all the while. After this I had been telling him how the devil was God’s enemy in the hearts of men, and used all his malice and skill to defeat the good designs of Providence, and to ruin the kingdom of Christ in the world, and the like. “Well,” says Friday, “but you say God is so strong, so great; is He not much strong, much might as the devil?” “Yes, yes,” says I, “Friday; God is stronger than the devil—God is above the devil, and therefore we pray to God to tread him down under our feet, and enable us to resist his temptations and quench his fiery darts.” “But,” says he again, “if God much stronger, much might as the wicked devil, why God no kill the devil, so make him no more do wicked?” I was strangely surprised at this question; and, after all, though I was now an old man, yet I was but a young doctor, and ill qualified for a casuist or a solver of difficulties; and at first I could not tell what to say; so I pretended not to hear him, and asked him what he said; but he was too earnest for an answer to forget his question, so that he repeated it in the very same broken words as above. By this time I had recovered myself a little, and I said, “God will at last punish him severely; he is reserved for the judgment, and is to be cast into the bottomless pit, to dwell with everlasting fire.” This did not satisfy Friday; but he returns upon me, repeating my words, “‘Reserve at last!’ me no understand—but why not kill the devil now; not kill great ago?” “You may as well ask me,” said I, “why God does not kill you or me, when we do wicked things here that offend Him—we are preserved to repent and be pardoned.” He mused some time on this. “Well, well,” says he, mighty affectionately, “that well—so you, I, devil, all wicked, all preserve, repent, God pardon all.” Here I was run down again by him to the last degree; and it was a testimony to me, how the mere notions of nature, though they will guide reasonable creatures to the knowledge of a God, and of a worship or homage due to the supreme being of God, as the consequence of our nature, yet nothing but divine revelation can form the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and of redemption purchased for us; of a Mediator of the new covenant, and of an Intercessor at the footstool of God’s throne; I say, nothing but a revelation from Heaven can form these in the soul; and that, therefore, the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I mean the Word of God, and the Spirit of God, promised for the guide and sanctifier of His people, are the absolutely necessary instructors of the souls of men in the saving knowledge of God and the means of salvation.
I therefore diverted the present discourse between me and my man, rising up hastily, as upon some sudden occasion of going out; then sending him for something a good way off, I seriously prayed to God that He would enable me to instruct savingly this poor savage; assisting, by His Spirit, the heart of the poor ignorant creature to receive the light of the knowledge of God in Christ, reconciling him to Himself, and would guide me so to speak to him from the Word of God that his conscience might be convinced, his eyes opened, and his soul saved. When he came again to me, I entered into a long discourse with him upon the subject of the redemption of man by the Saviour of the world, and of the doctrine of the gospel preached from Heaven, viz. of repentance towards God, and faith in our blessed Lord Jesus. I then explained to him as well as I could why our blessed Redeemer took not on Him the nature of angels but the seed of Abraham; and how, for that reason, the fallen angels had no share in the redemption; that He came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and the like.
I had, God knows, more sincerity than knowledge in all the methods I took for this poor creature’s instruction, and must acknowledge, what I believe all that act upon the same principle will find, that in laying things open to him, I really informed and instructed myself in many things that either I did not know or had not fully considered before, but which occurred naturally to my mind upon searching into them, for the information of this poor savage; and I had more affection in my inquiry after things upon this occasion than ever I felt before: so that, whether this poor wild wretch was better for me or no, I had great reason to be thankful that ever he came to me; my grief sat lighter, upon me; my habitation grew comfortable to me beyond measure: and when I reflected that in this solitary life which I have been confined to, I had not only been moved to look up to heaven myself, and to seek the Hand that had brought me here, but was now to be made an instrument, under Providence, to save the life, and, for aught I knew, the soul of a poor savage, and bring him to the true knowledge of religion and of the Christian doctrine, that he might know Christ Jesus, in whom is life eternal; I say, when I reflected upon all these things, a secret joy ran through every part of My soul, and I frequently rejoiced that ever I was brought to this place, which I had so often thought the most dreadful of all afflictions that could possibly have befallen me.
I continued in this thankful frame all the remainder of my time; and the conversation which employed the hours between Friday and me was such as made the three years which we lived there together perfectly and completely happy, if any such thing as complete happiness can be formed in a sublunary state. This savage was now a good Christian, a much better than I; though I have reason to hope, and bless God for it, that we were equally penitent, and comforted, restored penitents. We had here the Word of God to read, and no farther off from His Spirit to instruct than if we had been in England. I always applied myself, in reading the Scripture, to let him know, as well as I could, the meaning of what I read; and he again, by his serious inquiries and questionings, made me, as I said before, a much better scholar in the Scripture knowledge than I should ever have been by my own mere private reading. Another thing I cannot refrain from observing here also, from experience in this retired part of my life, viz. how infinite and inexpressible a blessing it is that the knowledge of God, and of the doctrine of salvation by Christ Jesus, is so plainly laid down in the Word of God, so easy to be received and understood, that, as the bare reading the Scripture made me capable of understanding enough of my duty to carry me directly on to the great work of sincere repentance for my sins, and laying hold of a Saviour for life and salvation, to a stated reformation in practice, and obedience to all God’s commands, and this without any teacher or instructor, I mean human; so the same plain instruction sufficiently served to the enlightening this savage creature, and bringing him to be such a Christian as I have known few equal to him in my life.
As to all the disputes, wrangling, strife, and contention which have happened in the world about religion, whether niceties in doctrines or schemes of church government, they were all perfectly useless to us, and, for aught I can yet see, they have been so to the rest of the world. We had the sure guide to heaven, viz. the Word of God; and we had, blessed be God, comfortable views of the Spirit of God teaching and instructing by His word, leading us into all truth, and making us both willing and obedient to the instruction of His word. And I cannot see the least use that the greatest knowledge of the disputed points of religion, which have made such confusion in the world, would have been to us, if we could have obtained it. But I must go on with the historical part of things, and take every part in its order...
An internet milestone.
And on whose behalf is all this corporate centralization (including undercutting the competition through theft, extortion, bribery, vandalism, censorship, blackballing, obstruction of justice, torture, and, as need be, assassination) going on? Now I should've known. Why "The People" of course.
(Excuse the as usual quite needless ads.)
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If someone needs to use violence (including vandalism), thinking particularly of violence carried on in an ongoing and persistent manner, it is (you will find, in ten out of ten cases) because they have nothing really worth saying to begin with.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives one definition of "plasma" as "a collection of charged particles (as in the atmospheres of stars or in a metal) containing about equal numbers of positive ions and electrons and exhibiting some properties of a gas but differing from a gas in being a good conductor of electricity and in being affected by a magnetic field."
Uncle Sam: "There now. Just hand over to me those brain torture radios, and we won't have any trouble."
The rational mind deals with probabilities, the heart with certainties. Though those certainties are liable to change, depending on the individual.
[Note. This will be the last of our readings from the Ante-Nicene council (325 A.D.) Fathers, and in a week or so we will resume with extracts from saints and inspired thinkers of the Post-Nicene period.]
[ch. 1]...The word symphony is strictly applied to the harmonies of sounds in music. And there are indeed among musical sounds some accordant and others discordant. But the Evangelic Scripture is familiar with the name as applied to musical matters in the passage, “He heard a symphony and dancing.” [Luke 15:25] For it was fitting that when the son who had been lost and found came by penitence into concord with his father a symphony should be heard on the occasion of the joyous mirth of the house. But the wicked Laban was not acquainted with the word symphony in his saying to Jacob, “And if you had told me I would have sent you away with mirth and with music and with drums and a harp.” [Genesis 31:27] But akin to the symphony of this nature is that which is written in the second Book of Kings when “the brethren of Aminadab went before the ark, and David and his son played before the Lord on instruments artistically fitted with might and with songs;” [2 Samuel 6:4-5] for the instruments thus fitted with might and with songs, had in themselves the musical symphony which is so powerful that when two only, bring along with the symphony which has relation to the music that is divine and spiritual, a request to the Father in heaven about anything whatsoever, the Father grants the request to those who ask along with the symphony on earth—which is most miraculous,— those things which those who have made the symphony spoken of may have asked. So also I understand the apostolic saying “Defraud ye not one the other except it be by agreement for a season that you may give yourselves unto prayer.” [1 Corinthians 7:5] For since the word harmony is applied to those who marry according to God in the passage from Proverbs which is as follows: “Fathers will divide their house and substance to their sons, but from God the woman is married to the man,” it is a logical consequence of the harmony being from God, that the name and the deed should enjoy the agreement with a view to prayer, as is indicated in the word, “unless it be by agreement.” [1 Corinthians 7:5] Then the Word repeating that the agreeing of two on the earth is the same thing as the agreeing with Christ, adds, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name.” [Matthew 18:20] Therefore the two or three who are gathered together in the name of Christ are those who are in agreement on earth, not two only but sometimes also three. But he who has the power will consider whether this agreement and a congregation of this sort in the midst of which Christ is, can be found in more, since “narrow and straightened is the way that leads unto life, and few be they that find it.” [Matthew 7:14] But perhaps also not even few but two or three make a symphony as Peter and James and John, to whom as making a symphony the Word of God showed His own glory. But two made a symphony, Paul and Sosthenes, when writing the first Epistle to the Corinthians; [1 Corinthians 1:1] and after this Paul and Timothy when sending the second Epistle to the same. [2 Corinthians 1:1] And even three made a symphony when Paul and Silvanus and Timothy gave instruction by letter to the Thessalonians. [1 Thessalonians 1:1] But if it be necessary also from the ancient Scriptures to bring forward the three who made a symphony on earth, so that the Word was in the midst of them making them one, attend to the superscription of the Psalms, as for example to that of the forty-first, which is as follows: “Unto the end, unto understanding, for the sons of Korah.” For though there were three sons of Korah whose names we find in the Book of Exodus, [Exodus 6:24] Aser, which is, by interpretation, “instruction,” and the second Elkana, which is translated, “possession of God,” and the third Abiasaph, which in the Greek tongue might be rendered, “congregation of the father,” yet the prophecies were not divided but were both spoken and written by one spirit, and one voice, and one soul, which wrought with true harmony, and the three speak as one, “As the heart pants after the springs of the water, so pants my soul after you, O God.” But also they say in the plural in the forty-fourth Psalm, “O God, we have heard with our ears.” But if you wish still further to see those who are making symphony on earth look to those who heard the exhortation, “that you may be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment,” [1 Corinthians 1:10] and who strove after the goal, “the soul and the heart of all the believers were one,” [Acts 4:32] who have become such, if it be possible for such a condition to be found in more than two or three, that there is no discord between them, just as there is no discord between the strings of the ten-stringed psaltery with each other. But they were not in symphony in earth who said, “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ,” [1 Corinthians 1:12] but there were schisms among them, upon the dissolution of which they were gathered together in company with the spirit in Paul, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, [1 Corinthians 5:4] that they might no longer “bite and devour one another so that they were consumed by one another;” [Galatians 5:15] for discord consumes, as concord brings together, and admits the Son of God who comes in the midst of those who have become at concord. And strictly, indeed, concord takes place in two things generic, through the perfecting together, as the Apostle has called it, of the same mind by an intellectual grasp of the same opinions, and through the perfecting together of the same judgment, by a like way of living. But if whenever two of us agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of the Father of Jesus who is in heaven, [Matthew 18:19] plainly when this is not done for them of the Father in heaven as touching anything that they shall ask, there the two have not been in agreement on earth; and this is the cause why we are not heard when we pray, that we do not agree with one another on earth, neither in opinions nor in life. But further also if we are the body of Christ and God has set the members each one of them in the body that the members may have the same care one for another, and may agree with one another, and when one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, and if one be glorified, they rejoice with it, we ought to practise the symphony which springs from the divine music, that when we are gathered together in the name of Christ, He may be in the midst of us, the Word of God, and the Wisdom of God, and His Power. [1 Corinthians 1:24]
[ch. 9]...But the truth is not so; for when God wished all at once to rekindle in the memories of all everything that had been done by each one throughout the whole time, in order that each might become conscious of his own doings whether good or bad, He would do it by His ineffable power. For it is not with God as with us; for if we wish to call some things to remembrance, we require sufficient time for the detailed account of what has been said by us, and to bring to our remembrance the things which we wish to remember; but if He wished to call to our memory the things which have been done in this life, in order that becoming conscious of what we have done we may apprehend for what we are punished or honoured, He could do so. But if any one disbelieves the swiftness of the power of God in regard to these matters, he has not yet had a true conception of the God who made the universe, who did not require times to make the vast creation of heaven and earth and the things in them; for, though He may seem to have made these things in six days, there is need of understanding to comprehend in what sense the words “in six days” are said, on account of this, “This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth,” [Galatians 2:4] etc. Therefore it may be boldly affirmed that the season of the expected judgment does not require times, but as the resurrection is said to take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” [1 Corinthians 15:52] so I think will the judgment also be.
[ch. 11]...But it were indeed a hard task to tell according to the conception of Jesus who is the one fellow-servant who was found to be owing a hundred pence, not to his own lord, but to him who owed many talents, and who are the fellow-servants who saw the one taking by the throat, and the other taken, and were exceedingly sorry, and represented clearly unto their own lord all that had been done. But what the truth in these matters is, I declare that no one can interpret unless Jesus, who explained all things to His own disciples privately, takes up His abode in his reason, and opens up all the treasures in the parable which are dark, hidden, unseen, and confirms by clear demonstrations the man whom He desires to illumine with the light of the knowledge of the things that are in this parable, that he may at once represent who is brought to the king as the debtor of many talents, and who is the other one who owes to him a hundred pence, etc.; whether he can be the man of sin previously mentioned, [2 Thessalonians 2:3] or the devil, or neither of these, but some other, whether a man, or some one of these under the sway of the devil; for it is a work of the wisdom of God to exhibit the things that have been prophesied concerning those who are in themselves of a certain nature, or have been made according to such and such qualities, whether among visible powers or also among some men, in whatever way they may have been written by the Holy Spirit. But as we have not yet received the competent mind which is able to be blended with the mind of Christ, and which is capable of attaining to things so great, and which is able with the Spirit to “search all things, even the deep things of God,” [1 Corinthians 2:10] we, forming an impression still indefinitely with regard to the matters in this passage, are of opinion that the wicked servant indicated by the parable who is here represented in regard to the debt of many talents, refers to some definite one.
~ Origen (185-232 A.D.), Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Book XIV