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Of Visions

GREATHEART. But here was great odds, three against one.

“Tis true.” replied Valiant-for-truth; ‘‘but little or more are nothing to him that has the truth on his side. . . .”

Then said Great-heart to Mr. Valiant-for-truth, “Thou hast worthily behaved thyself; let me see thy sword.” So he showed it to him.

When he had taken it in his hand, and looked thereon a while, he said, “Ha, it is a right Jerusalem blade.”

VALIANT. It is so, let a man have one of these blades, with a hand to wield it, and skill to use it, and he may venture upon an angel with it. He need not fear its holding, if he can but tell how to lay on. Its edge will never blunt. It will cut flesh and bones, and soul and spirit, and all. Heb. 4:12.

GREATHEART. But you fought a great while; I wonder you was not weary.

VALIANT. I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand; and then they were joined together as if a sword grew out of my arm: and when the Mood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.

GREATHEART. Thou hast done well; thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Thou shall abide by us, and go out with us; for we are thy companions.

Then they took him and washed his wounds, and gave him of what they had, to refresh him: and so they went away together.Pilgrim’s Progress

It is with these words that N. B. Stonehouse introduces the book J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Memoir. This book was written after the death of Machen, and we think that this above quote is the best tribute that can be paid to a man who labored mightily to defend the truth of God in the world.

And that these words applied to Machen we do not doubt, and remember that these are meant to be very high words of praise. Yet, when we read these words we ought not to think of those that have departed to their eternal reward only. We ought to think of the fact that life for any Reformed person is to be a battle of faith, and that the praise can come, properly, only after the battle has been waged. And then in the highest sense from the Lord Jesus Christ in the words, “Enter ye blessed into the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world.” Is this our deepest desire?

But what of the present? Ah, that is a tremendous question for it is here that all men labor for their final reward. Is there a real stout battle of faith waged by us? Are we striving and resisting unto blood? Are we hated even as the Lord of Glory was? We tremble to even ask the question, or we ought not to answer this question hastily with an affirmative. Yes, there are sound reasons to hesitate before this question, because there is little evidence of such a battle of faith.

For example, the young men, instead of having a constant confrontation with this battle of faith, have another vision hanging before their eyes. The vision of the “successful man.” This man has his basic schooling and is told throughout that schooling that he must pick his career as soon as possible! This is very important for then he can prepare by gleaning all the pertinent details from his courses in school and his life experiences so that he will be ready to take up that career. These are his early years! His formative years! So we have that young man at the point of entry so to speak, he is prepared. He has learned to adjust, he has been taught to conform so that whether his career is under a corporation or a private business, he is now ready to begin his battle for success. This success is equivalent to the high wage, the position, the recognition received for service.

Further, the young lady has a somewhat different approach. She must also, of course, have education. She must also be successful by choosing her way early. She must learn to paint herself rather well, she must dress becomingly so that in due time she may attract Mr. Successful. This is the common vision for the young lady for it is in this way only that she will obtain the new house, the new car, the proper social atmosphere of her choice.

Young people that is the vision of materialism, and that is the best that this philosophy of life can offer for there is a final judgement.

This is the life of those walking by sight and not by faith. (Even though the righteous may have some of those things.) And it is this life that the modern society is tempting you with, young people of the Protestant Reformed Churches. And we write of this because there is no real driving spirited antithesis manifested by the majority of us. There is no resisting unto blood, there is no development of the spiritual man to the point that this vision of the world is radically rejected. Yes, it even seems that many would rather be friends with the world than with the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For these two do not have any concourse with each other but are totally separate. There is little evidence of the youthful members of the church castigating and condemning unrighteousness and sin. Not only that but the inevitable result of this is that many seem to desire a tolerant viewpoint so that the former antithetical stand of the P. R. churches can be lessened somewhat. If this happens we will have many troubles, stemming from the fact that God will not bless those who seek wicked devices.

So it is that we pray that we may have the vision of the poor man who is rich in faith, that we may stand in the truth apart from the world. Does this seem to be folly? We do not think so for even though the poor are accounted of as nothing to the eyes of the cultivated man, yet it is to this people that God chooses to give reformation historically in the church through the regeneration of the Spirit.

This really emphasizes that there are not many mighty, not many noble that are called, but the base and the foolish things hath God chosen to put to shame the wisdom of the wise. Young people, remember this and pray for grace that the devil will not find a ready entrance through your covetousness of the worldly goods. The results are terrible, just look around yourself, you will see this. God will not be mocked.

And we hold it before your eyes that God works in His people in conjunction with the preaching of the word of God. And this is not to be despised, but it must be pursued and that in the way of prayer and supplication. And it is in this way of sanctification that one can see the Kingdom of God and that applied righteousness of Jesus Christ. And in the way of that powerful vision he will run and strive in the power of faith he the principalities and powers which attempt to destroy the church of Christ. Yet that it is a terrible battle we daily witness for even our own flesh would sell us out in its daily search for devices,

Beyond the words of the above quote, however, we can see that the portals of heaven are open so that after the warfare is finished there is a reward for the victor, an everlasting reward. For we shall stand before the great white throne and the Lamb and hear the word, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into thy rest.” But we have a foretaste of that even now while we walk in the company of the saints. For we will experience one of the Christian’s greatest blessings, the communion and the love of the brethren. Can you see that, reader? Strive, make war then, and pray that God may give us victory throughout the year 1968 in spite of the falls and temptations.