Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not.
J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The more I read, the less I admire modern theology. The more I study the productions of the new schools of theological teachers, the more I marvel that men and women can be satisfied with such writing. There is a vagueness, a mistiness, a shallowness, an indistinctness, a superficiality, an aimlessness, a hollowness about the literature of the ‘broader and kinder systems’ as they are called, which, to my mind, stamps their origin on their face. They are of the earth, earthy.
ISABELLA GRAHAM (1742-1814): I prefer the ancient writers on theology to the modern, because they dealt more in italics.
DIVIE BETHUNE (1771-1824): Dear mother! What religion can there be in italics?
ISABELLA GRAHAM: You know, the old writers expected credit for the doctrines they taught by proving them from the Word of God to be correct: they inserted the Scripture passages in italics, and their works have sometimes been one-half in italics. Modern writers on theology, on the contrary, give us a long train of reasoning to persuade us to their opinions, but very little in italics.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): In many ways the root trouble, even among good Evangelicals, is our failure to heed the plain teaching of Scripture. We accept what Scripture teaches as far as our doctrine is concerned; but when it comes to practice, we very often fail to take the Scriptures as our only guide. Instead of taking the plain teaching of the Bible, we argue with it. “Ah, yes,” we say, “since the Scriptures were written, times have changed.” Dare I give an obvious illustration? Take the question of women preaching, and being ordained to public ministry. The apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy (I Timothy 2:11-15), prohibits it directly. He says quite specifically that he does not allow a woman to teach or preach. “Ah, yes,” we say, as we read that letter, “he was only thinking of his own age and time; but you know times have changed since then, and we must not be bound. Paul was thinking of certain…people in Corinth and places like that.” But the Scripture does not say that. It says, Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): And why, I pray you? Was it because that the apostle thought no woman to have any knowledge? No, he gives another reason, saying, Let her be subject, as the law saith, I Corinthians 14:34.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: “Ah, but that is only temporary legislation,” we say. [But] Paul puts it like this: For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. Paul does not say that it was only for the time being; he takes it right back to the Fall and shows that it is an abiding principle. It is something that is true, therefore, of the age in which we live. But thus, you see, we argue with Scripture. Instead of taking its plain teaching—when it suits our thesis we say it is no longer relevant.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When we think the Scripture must be made to agree with the false ideas we have imbibed, no wonder that we complain of difficulty; but when our reasonings are captivated to revelation, the matter becomes easy.
J. C. RYLE: In matters of theology, “the old is better.”
Editor’s Note: For a short biographical sketch and portrait of Isabella Graham, see this link: Isabella Graham Divie Bethune was Isabella Graham’s son-in-law.