From Whom, About Whom?

By Larry Ray Hafley

Who spoke these words?

Christianity is the foundation of our national morality, and the family (is) the basis of racial and political life.

We want to be active, to work and make brotherly peace with one another, to struggle together, so that some day the hour will come when we can step before him and will have the right to ask him: Lord, you see, we have changed; the nation is no longer the nation of dishonor, of shame, of self-laceration, of timidity and little faith; no, Lord, the … nation has once more grown strong in spirit, strong in will, strong in persistence, strong in enduring all sacrifices. Lord, we will not swerve from you; now bless our struggle.

I am well aware of what a man can do and where his limits lie, but I hold to the conviction that men who have been created by God ought also to live in accordance with the will of the Almighty…. Ultimately the individual man is weak in all his nature and actions when he goes contrary to almighty Providence and its will, but he becomes immeasurably strong the moment he acts in harmony with this Providence! Then there pours down upon him that force which has distinguished all the great men of the world.

He made it a maxim that “one could not do enough to cultivate ties with the common people.”

This country must not be a power without culture and must not have strength without beauty.

About whom where these words spoken?

His soul seems made of leather, and incapable of any grand or noble emotion. Compared with the mass of men, he is a line of flat prose in a beautiful and spirited lyric. He lowers, he never elevates you. You leave his presence with your enthusiasm dampened, your better feelings crushed, your hopes cast to the winds. You ask not, can this man carry the nation through its terrible struggles? but can the nation carry this man through them, and not perish in the attempt…. He is thickheaded; he is ignorant; he is tricky, somewhat astute, in a small way, and obstinate as a mule…. He is wrong-headed, the attorney, not the lawyer, the petty politician not the statesman, and, in my belief, ill-deserving of the soubriquet of Honest… . You cannot change (his) character or conduct. He remained … surrounded by toadies and office-seekers, to persuade himself that he was specially chosen by the Almighty for this crisis, and well chosen. This conceit has never yet been beaten out of him, and until it is, no human wisdom can be of much avail.

(His) ruthlessness . . . had long been apparent to his foes … (he) showed himself to be a man who would hold to principles only so long as he had more to gain than lose by them. Observing this . . . (some) defined him as slippery, mendacious, and above all not to be trusted.

That despot . . . that wretched and detestable abortion, whose contemptible emptiness and folly will receive the ridicule of the civilized world.

Othersdesigned to expose him as a master of deceit, a clod, a tyrant, a bawdy clown, a monster.

Surely, the first set of quotations did not come from Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam, Hussein or Attila the Hun! They were spoken by Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln, do you not suppose?

Whatever the source or object, evil men occasionally say good things, and god men have evil things said of them (Jesus and Paul, for example). Also, good men may speak evil, at times, and evil men may have god things said of them.

However, in the final analysis, our judgments do not matter (I Cor. 4:3-5). God will judge, and he will do so in complete righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). By him, thoughts, words and deeds are weighed (1 Sam. 2:3; Prov. 24:12). Abraham Lincoln once said that if his actions during the Civil War were proved correct, it would not matter what his critics said, but that if his judgments and decisions were wrong, ten thousands angels swearing that they were right would not alter the verdict. That assessment, as it is applied to our affairs shall be judged by the “law of liberty” (Jas. 2:12).

It is easy to be misled by evil men who speak “great swellings words” (Jude 16). “By good words and fair speeches,” wicked men “deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:17,18). This is the essence of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). If there were not such critters, Jesus would not have warned against them. Our problem is that those we regard (judge) to be sheep are always genuine sheep. A wolf is always a wolf. We know the difference, or so we think! But Jesus still said there will be wolves “in sheep’s clothing.” Yes, you know that, but have you ever seen one? Do you not find that your sheep are always real sheep, but others have a wolf problem? Careful, now, for such thinking makes Jesus’ warning void, so far as you are concerned.

“Take heed what ye hear” (Mk. 4:24). “Take heed … how ye hear” (Lk. 8:18). So, take heed how you hear what you hear. It is not enough to see whether the creature bleats or growls. A sheep cannot growl, we presume, but a wolf can bleat. Jesus said so (Matt. 7:15; Rom. 16:18).

A sheep may be called a wolf (Matt. 5:11; 1 Pet. 3:16; 4:14). The Lamb of God was (Matt. 27:63; In. 7:12). Good men will be reviled. We know it is a truth, but those whom we revile are never good men. They are always deserving of our harsh words of condemnation. Does not every one so think? If I never revile good men, and you never speak evil of good men, who does? No one? No, somebody does, but we do not. Who, then? Dare you and I ask, “Lord, it is I?”

Could one of my brethren or “my Pastor” be one of those wolves in sheep’s clothing? Before extinguishing the thought, consider the implications hinted at above. Could I be guilty of reviling a good man who teaches the word of God in truth? Again, reflect. Remember, as you seek to study, know and live in harmony with the will of God in any area of truth, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). It matters not how sincerely, how sweetly, they may bleat.

Incidentally, in case you are curious, the first set of words cited in the beginning, expressing noble values and sound philosophy, were spoken by Adolf Hitler (Hitler, Joachim C. Fest, pp. 388, 389, 423, 521, 527). The second set of quotes was spoken against Abraham Lincoln (Civil War, Vol. 2, Shelby Foote, pp. 108, 883, 884, 906).

Indeed, in the faith, as in the world, wolves may bleat, and sheep may be called wolves. Watch.

Guardian of Truth XXXVII: No 19, p. 8-9
October 7, 1993