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Exams at Cambridge University

Here is an “urban legend” regarding exams at Cambridge University which is still fun to read.

It is said that during an examination one day a bright young student popped up and asked the proctor to bring him Cakes and Ale.  The following dialog ensued:

Proctor:  I beg your pardon?

Student:  Sir, I request that you bring me Cakes and Ale.

Proctor:  Sorry, no.

Student:  Sir, I really must insist.  I request and require that you bring me Cakes and Ale.

At this point, the student produced a copy of the four-hundred-year old laws of Cambridge, written in Latin and still nominally in effect, and pointed to the section which read (roughly translated): “Gentlemen sitting examinations may request and require Cakes and Ale.”  Pepsi and hamburgers were judged the modern equivalent, and the student sat there, writing his examination and happily slurping away.

Three weeks later, the student was fined five pounds for not wearing a sword to the examination.

When we are study the law, we sometimes are careful to find those things which may benefit us, while trying to ignore the rest.  It happens with the Bible all the time.  Ever known anybody who only quoted the Bible when it was convenient for them (“Judge not that ye be not judged”)?  They want to get their “cakes and ale” but ignore the part about “wearing a sword”?  God’s Word isn’t like a cafeteria.  We don’t get to go through and pick out which parts we want and which parts we don’t like.

“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.  For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’  Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” (James 2:10-12)

Take delight in those parts of God’s law which give delight, but be ready to take the responsibility given by the rest of His law as well.

Alan Smith

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