Sunday, September 20, 2009
The Journal of Cotton Adams #27
May 7, 1740
One of the books I carry with me is Facets of Grace by Edward Eddington. Here is a quote I want you to remember as I relate to you the time I met John Chapman, or as most folk know him, Johnny Appleseed.
"When one's belief is defined it is doctrine. But it is only Biblical doctrine if it is in total harmony with the whole counsel of God."
As I recall, it was a cool, clear night. I had been in the saddle for hours and was thinking about bedding down for the night when I spotted a fire flickering in a clearing up ahead. As is my practice, I began singing "Amazing Grace" so as not to alarm whomever I am approaching, and to let them know I am a man who loves the Lord. I could smell meat being roasted and the scent of apple cider in the air.
"Ho brother! Come sit a spell! I was praying for some company and for someone to share this meal with. I guess you are the answer to BOTH prayers!"
The man who spoke was extremely thin with gray hair and beard down to his belly. His voice was surprisingly high-pitched for his stature. His clothes were tattered and his feet were bare as the day he was born.
"The name's John...John Chapman. Some people call me Apple Jack, but mostly I am known as Johnny Appleseed."
"I am pleased to meet you. My name is Cotton Adams. I am a circuit riding Doctrines of Grace preacher."
"Well, I'll be pickled! I'm a missionary with the Church of the New Jerusalem. I don't like to kill animals but, this was self-defense. Hope you like bob-cat and 'taters."
"Well, thanks but I'm not hungry. I will take a cup of your apple cider though."
We continued small talk for a while. He told me of his planting millions of apple seeds everywhere he went, and about his celibacy and charity work in each town he visits. I was eager to find out if this man really knew the Lord.
"Tell me about this church you mentioned." I said, drinking down my third cup.
"It was started by Emanuel Swedenborg. And we preach news right fresh from Heaven! He has written a third testament that adds present revelation from God to the Bible. It says if you don't get married here on earth, you can have two wives in Heaven!"
I had read some of Swedenborg's works but I let Johnny continue.
"That ol' Emanuel fella, he has visited Heaven and Hell many times. He wrote all about his visions, dreams and experiences and I believe him!"
"Mr. Chapman, I have actually read his book on his mystical journeys and it is structured exactly like Dante's "The Divine Comedy".
"So what! Maybe this Dante fella stole it from Swedenborg!"
"That's hardly possible since Dante was born in 1265 A.D.!" I stated emphatically.
"Well, then I would have to say that Dante made the same journey! Thus verifying Swedenborg."
"I can see you refuse to see the heresy in front of your face. You need to listen to God's Word and forsake Emanuel's teaching and repent and embrace Immanuel, The Lord of Glory! Sin has made you rotten to the core, Johnny Appleseed. And the confusion you spread will wilt and die like the tree Jesus cursed. Be assured of this one thing. Those elected to salvation are the apple of God's eye. You are a prisoner of the Devil himself. I can only pray God plants HIS seed in the soil of your soul. Only time and eternity will tell. I thank you kindly for the cider. Please consider what I have said. Swedenborg will split Hell wide open and all who follow him will end up in the same place."
With that I mounted my horse and rode off. By the time I reached the next town, I had my sermon outline:
Adam's Apple - The fall of the first Adam and the triumph of the last Adam
(I changed the TULIP to APPLE)
All born through Adam are totally depraved
Predestined election is God's choice, not mine
Particular Redemption never failing
Love and grace of God creates love for God by grace
Everyone born of God is preserved for Heaven
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I will not engage in a doctrinal argument with you about the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, but I do suggest a couple of corrections. Swedenborg did not start a church. His book about marriage love is emphatic that marriage is between one man and one woman. John Chapman would not have compared Swedenborg to Dante, in fact, Chapman likely did not know much about Dante. Finally, not a fact but my opinion: I cannot believe in a God who would not welcome a humble and good servant such as John Chapman, allowing John to let go of any false ideas he may have picked up. Love, ClarkReplyDelete
Thanks for your comments Clark. I do appreciate your corrections.ReplyDelete
There are a lot of good (humanly speaking) people who have great personalities but all are sinners in need of salvation. Johnny Appleseed was quite a character but distributed material about Swedenborganism as well as apple seeds. Of course God would "allow Chapman to let go of any false ideas"...but he wasn't a "good servant" unless he preached and promoted the true gospel as revealed in the Word. I don't know how John's life ended, but if he died holding to Swedenborg's spiritualism and teachings you can be assured that he never was a Christian at all.
Here is a link about Ol' Johnny: