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19 Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it 50 000 pieces of silver.
Cast away to the owls and to the bats the traditions of men and the prejudices indoctrinated into thy mind by their means; make a whole burnt offering of their creeds, confessions, catechisms and articles of religion; and, after the example of the Ephesian disciples, hand over your books of curious theological arts, and burn them before all" (Acts 19:19).
These mountains of rubbish have served the purposes of a dark and barbarous age; the word, the word of the living God alone, can meet the necessities of the times. Let the example of the noble minded Bereans be ours. They searched the Scriptures daily to see if the things taught by the apostle were worthy of belief; "therefore they believed" (Acts 17:12). If then not even the preaching of an apostle was credited unaccompanied by Scriptural investigation, is it not infinitely more incumbent on us that we should bring to a like test the opinions and precepts of the uninspired and fallible professional theologists of our day?
Let us believe nothing that comes from the pulpit, the altar or the press, not demonstrated by the grammatical sense of the Scriptures. Let us be contented with nothing less than a "thus it is written" and a "thus saith the Lord;" for He has laid it down in His law that no one is worthy of belief who does not speak after this rule. "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them." (Isaiah 8:20). If then their light be darkness, how great is that darkness!
The Scriptures can do everything for us in relation to the light. This is known, felt and keenly appreciated by all interested in the support of error. Hence, in the days of Diocletian, one of the pagan predecessors of Constantine, a decree was issued commanding the surrender of all copies of the Holy Scriptures, for it was found that so long as they obtained circulation the Christian doctrine could never be suppressed.
The popes, as deadly, and more insidious, enemies of the Truth than the pagan Roman emperors, followed the example of Diocletian. The Bible and popery are as mutually hostile as the light of the sun and the thick darkness of Egypt that might be felt. But it is not paganism and popery alone that are practically hostile to a free and untrammelled investigation of the Word of God.
The protestant world, while it deludes itself with the conceit that "the Bible, the Bible alone, is the religion of protestants" -- while it spends its thousands for its circulation among the nations in their native tongues -- is itself hostile to the belief and practice of what it proclaims. "The Bible alone is not its religion; for, if it were, why encumber its professors with the "Common Prayer," "Thirty nine Articles" and all the other "notions" of a similar kind?
To believe and practice the Bible alone would be a sufficient ground of exclusion from all "orthodox" churches.
Elpis Israel 1.1.
27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.
Incursions of the Goths upon the Roman Empire during the Fourth Seal
Around AD 250-260
In their third naval expedition they made their appearance among the numerous islands of the Aegean Sea, and at length anchored in the Piraeus, five miles distant from Athens, which they sacked. A general conflagration blazed out at the same time in every district of Greece; and the temple of Diana at Ephesus, was finally burned by the Goths. It would be interesting to us to know something of the affairs of Christ's ecclesia there while these wild beasts of the fourth seal were doing the work of Death and Hades in their midst. It would give them no pain to see this "wonder of the world" in flames.
They might regret its destruction as a work of art; but, as a stronghold of superstition, in which Jupiter's image that fell from heaven, was enthroned, and revered by all Asia and the world, its destruction would afford them much satisfaction. It had been seven times destroyed before, but from this last catastrophe it never recovered; for he that was destined "to conquer" was still "conquering," and consummating the work begun by Paul, who persuaded and turned away much people, not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, saying, that they be no gods which are made with hands (Acts xix. 26).
To them, as to us of the household of faith, the destruction of the temple of Diana, and those other temples of St. Peter's at Rome, and St. Paul's at London, not from an architectural, but from a scriptural standpoint, would be a glorious earnest of the approaching downfall of the several superstitions they represent. Ephesus was once famous for the bright lamp burning with oil of the spirit in her midst but Nikolaitanism, as an extinguisher, put out the light, and she became dark as the heathen catholicism, fashionable episcopalianism, gloomy presbyterianism, shallow congregationalism, and fanatical methodism, and so forth, of our day: therefore Death and Hades had authority to kill and destroy with wild beasts of the earth; these began their work with wild devastation, and all that remains of Ephesus in our time is a few families of Turks, and a Mohammedan mosque.