ZWT - 1912 - R4943 thru R5152 / R4997 (089) - March 15, 1912
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VOL. XXXIII MARCH 15 No. 6
A.D. 1912--A.M. 6040
"The Resurrection of the Just and of the
Resurrection of the Church.................... 91
Resurrection of the World..................... 91
Degrees of Sin and Their Punishment............... 93
Who Are Thieves and Murderers?................ 93
God is Training the Judges Now................ 94
A Judge Must Possess Perfect
"Ye Are The Light of the World"................... 96
Love of the Brethren a Crucial Test............... 98
Causes of Friction Increasing................. 98
Jesus' Soul Resurrected........................... 99
Which Day is Sabbath?.............................100
Man's Seventh Day.............................101
The Church's Sabbath Day......................101
Why Men Fear the Second Coming of Christ..........101
Questions Re Atonement............................102
WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY
CHARLES T. RUSSELL, PRESIDENT
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BRO. RUSSELL'S SOUTHERN ITINERARY FOR APRIL
Fri. April 19 Lv. New York 12:30 a.m. Penn. R.R. Sat. " 20 Ar. Montgomery 10:40 a.m. W. of Ala.
" " 20 Lv. " 10:05 p.m. L. & N. Sun. " 21 Ar. New Orleans 7:50 a.m. "
" " 21 Lv. " 9:00 p.m. " Mon. " 22 Ar. Birmingham 12:10 noon "
" " 22 Lv. " 10:30 p.m. Frisco Tue. " 23 Ar. Memphis 7:30 a.m. "
" " 23 Lv. " 9:30 a.m. C.R.I.P.
" " 23 Ar. Little Rock 1:30 p.m. " Wed. " 24 Lv. " 8:45 a.m. "
" " 24 Ar. Memphis 1:05 p.m. " Thu. " 25 Lv. " 6:00 a.m. N.C. & St.L.
" " 25 Ar. Nashville 1:32 p.m. "
" " 25 Lv. " 9:30 p.m. Tenn. Cent. Fri. " 26 Ar. Knoxville 6:45 a.m. Southern Sat. " 27 Lv. " 1:45 p.m. "
" " 27 Ar. Chattanooga 5:55 p.m. " Sun. " 28 Lv. " 3:00 a.m. N.C. & St.L.
" " 28 Ar. Atlanta 7:10 a.m. "
" " 28 Lv. " 9:55 p.m. S.A.L. (E. Time) Mon. " 29 Ar. Richmond 5:05 p.m. " " Tue. " 30 Lv. " 4:50 a.m. R.F. & P.
" " 30 Ar. New York 2:00 p.m. Penn. R.R.
BETHEL HYMNS FOR APRIL
After the close of the hymn the Bethel Family listens to the reading of "My Vow Unto the Lord," then joins in prayer. At the breakfast table the MANNA text is considered. Hymns for April follow: (1) 165; (2) 130; (3) 91; (4) 82; (5) 89; (6) 227; (7) 300; (8) 47; (9) 145; (10) 313; (11) 109; (12) 110; (13) 78; (14) 331; (15) 325; (16) 12; (17) 107; (18) 27; (19) 307; (20) 229; (21) 127; (22) vow; (23) 209; (24) 301; (25) 240; (26) 245; (27) 93; (28) 27; (29) 160; (30) 291.
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"THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST AND OF THE UNJUST"
THE RESURRECTION of the just could not mean a resurrection of those who had been perfect, for there are none perfect, none just, "no, not one." "The resurrection of the just," then, must mean the resurrection of those who have been justified; and the justified are those referred to in the Scriptures of whom Abraham was an example. Abraham believed God, and was justified by faith. It was the faith that justified, and the works corroborated the faith.
So with the Church of this Age. The Apostle says, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom, also, we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (`Rom. 5:1,2`.) We are not only justified out of sin, but are also brought by operation of our faith into the glorious standing of members of Christ; and we may hope to participate with Christ in the glories of His Kingdom in the future. It is one thing to be freed from guilt, and another thing to be raised to the position of sons of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, our Lord.
The resurrection of the dead is similarly spoken of in `John 5:28,29`, where we read, "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth." The Lord does not mean merely all the good, for He also includes in this all that are in their graves. We read in the context that they that have done good shall come forth "unto the resurrection of life"; those who have done evil shall come forth to "damnation." The word damnation, in the Greek, signifies a crisis, a turning-point, a decision.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE CHURCH
Those whose faith enables them to stand through evil report and through good report, and who thus fulfil the Divine requirement, are character-likenesses of Jesus. These now pass from under the condemnation condition to the life condition. As the Apostle says, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (`I John 3:14`.) This passing from death unto life is not in the full sense in the present time. By faith we are reckoned dead with Christ, counted members of His Body. That future life is reckoned to us. We are counted as having it; and this is our condition because we have the Divine approval.
Since there is none good, the only sense in which one could "do good" would be by coming into accord with God by obedience, as under the Covenant which prevailed with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or under the still higher Covenant that prevails with the Church in this Gospel Age. We have this testimony, that we are pleasing to God, who indicates His pleasure by begetting us of the Holy Spirit. In contradistinction, the world are aliens, foreigners. (`Eph. 2:19`.) By this Holy Spirit, this "unction from the Holy One," therefore, we have the evidence of acceptance with the Father.
The outcome will be, that those having this approval of God, having passed the trials and testings which they have received--for He receiveth no son whom He does not scourge (`Heb. 12:6`)--and having proved faithful to the end, will be raised by the Lord to the very highest place--glory, honor and immortality. This is the crown, or very highest pinnacle of life that could be imagined. So, then, those who will have part in this First Resurrection will reign with Christ a thousand years. This is the first class mentioned by the Apostle. They are approved; they shall come forth to "life resurrection."
What is the significance of "life resurrection"? We answer that these shall come forth to perfect life instantly. As St. Paul says, "It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spirit body." Thus instantaneously these blessings come to them. They have their trial in the present time and, therefore, theirs will be the chief resurrection.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE WORLD
But all will have a resurrection. How will the resurrection of the world differ from that apportioned to the Church? The world has not had the Divine approval; the heathen have not had the Divine approval. The Apostle says, "How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" (`Rom. 10:14`.) They are not fit for heaven. They are not fit to be with the angels or with the saints, no matter how they came to be in this condition. They came into this condition because of heredity, as children of Adam. But they could not have the same kind of resurrection that those will receive who have God's approval now, at the time of their death: "Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life."
So with the majority of those in Christian lands. They could not be thought to be fit for heaven or to have God's approval in any sense of the word. And they know it. They confess it themselves. Nobody could deny that nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand are living "after the flesh." They are not saints, but have
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the Divine disapproval, some having heard more of the Word of God, and some having heard less.
THE GENERAL RESURRECTION TO BE GRADUAL
"Those who have done evil" will come forth to the resurrection of "damnation" (Greek, krisis), resurrection of trial, resurrection of testing. What kind will it be? The Scriptures show us that it will be a gradual resurrection. During the thousand years of Christ's reign the people will be awakening from the sleep in the tomb. This awakening will be a preparatory work, not the full resurrection, which will require the entire thousand years.
But the Divine provision is that the account will have been settled for the whole world, so that when they shall come forth from the tomb in the future they will be in the hands of the Redeemer, whose Kingdom will be worldwide. They will have the opportunity of being raised again to that which was lost. Human perfection was lost, which includes not only perfect physical health, but perfect mental power; for mental power depends upon the brain, is affected by the brain, as well as by the body, so that men are now in a dying condition, mentally, morally and physically.
None will be fully raised, from imperfection to perfection, until the end of the thousand years. All who will respond to the beneficent arrangements will secure that which Father Adam enjoyed at first--perfect manhood. Those who will not be obedient to the requirements of Christ's Kingdom will be cut off in the Second Death. They will be destroyed as brute beasts, having had the full measure of Divine favor.--`2 Pet. 2:12`.
"And the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." (`Rev. 20:5`.) When the sentence came upon Father Adam he was thrust out of Eden. All of his children have been born dying, and are still in a dying condition. Therefore, the raising of man out of sin and death will be the bringing of him to full perfection--perfect life. This will be a gradual process. They will be made more alive and more alive, and less dead and less dead, as the thousand years progress, and none will get the resurrection life until they are raised to the condition of perfection--perfect life in the image of God, which was lost by Adam.
BURNING OF THE WORLD SYMBOLICAL
The Scriptures declare that "the earth abideth forever" and that "God formed it not in vain; He made it to be inhabited." (See `Eccl. 1:4`; `Isa. 45:18`.) It has not yet reached the blessed condition when it will blossom as a rose, although it is in process of completion. At the end of the thousand years of Christ's reign, the whole earth shall have been brought to perfection. In the
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prophecies, mountains are symbolical of kingdoms. In `2 Peter 3:12` the Apostle's words signify that there will be a great conflagration and that the heavens also will be on fire, but that, nevertheless, there will be a new order of things, to take the place of the old order; and under this new order of things there shall come a blessing to all in the earth. The word "fire," in this sense, signifies destruction of the present order of things, of the kosmos-- not the ge, the earth, but the social system, society as at present organized.
We not infrequently hear people say, "Well, matters are getting pretty hot!" Yes, the battle between capital and labor is getting hotter, as is evidenced lately in the labor troubles, particularly in Great Britain and the United States. But the time of conflagration will be such a "time of trouble" that it will entirely consume the present order of things, a time of trouble, therefore, that will be Epoch-making, and the new Epoch will be introduced immediately thereafter.
MOUNTAINS SYMBOLIZE KINGDOMS
We remember riding over the mountains once with an Adventist. The Adventist brother said, "Do you not think it will be a glorious time when these mountains will be brought down to a level?" We said, "Dear brother, the mountains are very beautiful, very useful." He said, "You cannot raise corn on this mountain." "Well," said we, "go to the prairie if you want to raise corn." Then he said, "What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the mountains shall be brought low, and when they speak about the melting of the earth"? We said, "Dear brother, the 'mountains' there are kingdoms. We read that 'the Mountain of the Lord's house shall be exalted in the top of the mountains'; it will be the chief Mountain or Kingdom."--`Isa. 2:2`.
THE RESURRECTION WILL LEVEL ALL CLASSES
The Psalmist tells us that "the mountains shall be removed and carried into the midst of the sea," mountains being symbolical of the kingdoms, of the governments of the earth, and society in general, the elements which support the governments. (`Psa. 46`.) St. Peter also speaks as though the whole world will be consumed by fire. These things are symbolical, implying that the people who are now in a low condition will be brought up, and that those who are high will be brought low. Thus there will be a leveling process.
We remember the statement of the Scripture in Zephaniah, "Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord." Here Jehovah is speaking to the Church, telling us that we should not be dissatisfied, that we should not be anarchists and strife-breeders: I shall attend to this matter Myself. You can rest with the present order of things. "Wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy." That this fire is not literal is shown in the next sentence: "Then will I turn unto the people a pure Message, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent."--`Zeph. 3:8,9`.
WHEN "THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE SAY, 'COME'"
It will be the work of the thousand years of Messiah's reign to thus make known the pure Message of God, the pure Word of God. We all see, as we look back, that a pure Message of God has not been declared to mankind, but creed contradicting creed, making confusion worse confounded. The Lord, however, will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh, and the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the great deep. (`Isa. 11:9`; `Hab. 2:14`.) As the Revelator puts it, "the river of the water of life" will flow freely.--`Rev. 21:6`; `22:1,2`.
We see that there is no Throne yet established and that there is no Bride now. We are waiting for the time to come when the Throne will be established and when "the water of life" will flow out. In the future it will be "a river of the water of life." This cannot take place until the second coming of our Lord; consequently, it will be after that, in the glorious time of Messiah's Kingdom, when the Spirit and the Bride will say, "Come!" The election of the Church of God will then have been completed; and every creature will come to a knowledge of
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the Truth and will have the opportunity of attaining to the full perfection made possible by the redemptive work of Christ.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHURCH TO EARTHLY
The spirit condition is spoken of as a heavenly condition in the sense that the words heaven and heavenly in the Scriptures are used to signify higher. So the heaven to which the Church will be taken is this higher condition. But the mission of the Church in the next Age is in connection with humanity. We are, then, to understand that the Lord and the Church will be present, operating through human, earthly agents; supervising, overruling.
We have an example of this invisible power in Satan, who has been ruling here for over six thousand years, through his agents. His work is a deceptive work. He has ruled mankind through ignorance, superstition, etc. But the rule of Christ will be the scattering of error, superstition. The world shall know the Truth that the Truth may make them free. Those who will receive the Truth will receive the freedom and will eventually attain the liberty which belongs to the sons of God. Men will be quite visible to The Christ, but they will be invisible to men. It is in respect to these that the Lord said that the twelve Apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel--that the Apostles shall be associates with Him in judging and ruling the world.
Then there is another class: "Ye shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the Prophets in the Kingdom of God"; but our Lord does not say a word about their seeing Himself or His Apostles. He and His Apostles will be in the invisible phase of the Kingdom. So it is written, "Instead of Thy fathers shall be Thy children, whom Thou mayest make Princes in all the earth." (`Psa. 45:16`.) The patriarchs will be considered the children. A father is a life-giver. While in one sense of the word Abraham and Isaac, etc., might be considered fathers, yet by virtue of Christ's redemptive work He will give them life and they will be His children; for whoever gives life is the father and whoever receives life is the child. They will be Princes in all the earth, not on the heavenly plane, but on the earthly plane, having obtained the "better resurrection" because they were faithful. Each one of them will be a sample of perfect manhood; and each one of them will be a prince or ruler. Their wisdom will be a wisdom superintended by the Church in glory.
THE OBJECT OF THE INDIVIDUAL TRIAL OF MANKIND
Mankind will need to be put on trial to see whether or not they will accept God's Plan with the knowledge they will have received. If they accept they will be adjudged worthy of everlasting life. If they fail to come into harmony, they will be adjudged worthy of everlasting death. But this judgment will be passed by Christ and His Bride.
So, then, we see that there is a great judgment or trial coming to the world to give them the opportunity of deciding whether or not they will come into harmony with the arrangements of Christ's Kingdom. In the work of judging, the Church will be associated with Christ. We read that God "hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained" (`Acts 17:31`), Christ, the Head, and the Church, His Body. Again, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (`I Cor. 6:2`.) Therefore our own judgment or trial takes place in advance, that we may be prepared to try or judge the world; and by the experiences through which we have passed, we may be assistful to them, as they shall be on trial and under our control.
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DEGREES OF SIN AND THEIR PUNISHMENT
THE QUESTION is often asked, "Is there any special punishment for thieves, murderers and other criminals, or will they, if repentant, be received into the Kingdom along with those who have tried to do right throughout their lives?"
This question can be viewed from two standpoints. God Himself is the great Determiner of right and wrong. Everything that is right God approves; everything that is wrong God disapproves. The things that God approves are those things that are good, helpful and favorable for everybody. The things that God disapproves are the things that are wrong, unjust, injurious to every one. Therefore God has condemned certain things as sin, because He would have us free from those things that are unjust or injurious to ourselves or to others. Whoever, therefore, commits sin, violates, first of all, a Divine command, and to that extent has a certain penalty attached to him for that wrong doing.
We speak of certain persons as "sowing their wild oats." What does this expression signify? It means that they are now contracting habits which are injurious, not only to their own health and happiness, but probably to that of others. As a result of practising sin they are sure to bring upon themselves a degradation of both mind and body. Thus sin brings its own reward in a natural way. Whoever sins will suffer, is the general Law. But aside from that Law, there is a God, who has given certain commands and certain penalties that go with those commands.
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WHO ARE THIEVES AND MURDERERS?
God's standard of righteousness is much higher than is man's present standard. Our Lord gave very fine meanings to the words "thief," "adulterer," and "murderer." He taught that anyone who is angry with his brother without a cause is in danger; that he who looks upon another's wife with impure desire has committed adultery. (`Matt. 5:22,28`.) These are very fine distinctions. Moreover, we must all admit, as Shakespeare has said:--
"Who steals my purse steals trash;
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed."
Many people have been guilty of stealing the good name of others; many have been guilty of murder in the sense that they hate others. When it comes to the point of deciding who are the most guilty murderers and thieves, we are not competent to judge, for we are not able to know the qualities of mind and the weaknesses with which each person was born. God only could tell the degree of wrong in any of these cases. There are some people who are, we might say, naturally good; others seem to have been born with less patience. Some who, naturally, would not get angry with their brother, nor with any one, as soon as some one else would, may never be in danger of committing murder, either literally or figuratively; for they are born with the quality of forbearance.
As these may not manifest any special patience
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more than that with which they were born, so others may manifest special qualities because of the condition in which they were born.
The world has learned the necessity of restraining those who are injurious to others. The judgment of the people of the State of New York is, according to the law, that no murderer shall be at large. He shall be confined; for a murderer is not a safe person to permit in society. Therefore, he is put into prison or is executed. This is the general judgment, outside of God's judgment. The best thing for him and the world in general is that he go down to hades, sheol--the great state of death, where he cannot murder anyone else. The Scriptures agree with the laws of the State of New York, that if a man commits heinous crimes he should be punished.
GOD IS TRAINING THE JUDGES NOW
But so far as taking the position of a judge is concerned, we are not capable of doing this. God alone, at the present time, knows how much more worthy of punishment some are who are in prison than some who are out of prison would be for something else. The offense of the prisoners might outwardly be the greater crime; that of those who are not confined might be just as great a crime from the Divine standpoint; for they might be sinning against greater light and ability. No one but God could tell. Therefore, "Judge nothing before the time." --`I Cor. 4:5`.
When is "the time"? People are always glad to get the chance to judge others. Someone may ask, "When may we have the chance to judge? We would like to have it now." We reply, "Yours is the wrong spirit. Get rid of it or you will never be a judge at all. God is selecting another class to be judges--a saintly class that will be fully satisfied to judge nothing before the time, but to leave everything to Him. He says, "This is the kind I want. I will select them." The Apostle says, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?"--`I Cor. 6:2`.
We shall judge the world, not now, under present conditions, but after we shall have been changed in the First Resurrection, changed in a moment. The Apostle explains what that change will mean to us--"Sown in weakness, raised in power; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown an animal body, raised a spirit body." (`I Cor. 15:42-44`.) When we reach that condition of bodily likeness, as well as character-likeness to our Lord, we shall be His associates, His Wife, the Royal Priesthood. Then there will be plenty of time for us to judge the world. All the lessons we get now will only develop us for that time. All the experiences we have with ourselves--you judging yourself and I myself--the better we shall be prepared for the opportunity which God will give us by and by.
A JUDGE MUST POSSESS PERFECT SELF-CONTROL
Whoever has not learned to rule his own spirit, is in no condition to rule others. Whoever has not learned to judge his own heart motives and has not put a restraint on them to the best of his ability, is not prepared to sit in judgment upon another. Those who are now being selected of the Lord are not by nature free from imperfections, but have many of the same weaknesses that others have.
Nevertheless, they are seeking to judge themselves, to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, to get self-control, or as the Bible says, to "overcome." All those who will be with the Lord in Kingdom glory and power and the work of the Millennial Age will be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" and bought us with His own "precious blood."--`Rom. 8:37`; `I Pet. 1:18,19`.
Various qualities of murder, lust, covetousness, etc., are more or less seen in the unbalanced mental and moral conditions resulting from the fall. We see how this is operating in the whole world. Some are so mentally unbalanced they are put into asylums. Some are so morally unbalanced they are not permitted to be at large, but must of necessity be put into prison. Others are able to be about in the world and have their liberty, but they are not sound of mind. "There is none righteous; no, not one" (`Rom. 3:10`), is the Bible declaration.
Since we have learned to appreciate the Bible teaching, to see that a great fall came upon our race six thousand years ago, and that all are born in sin and "shapen in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us" (`Psa. 51:5`), it gives us a great deal of sympathy for many poor people; and as we have more strength of character, mentally and morally, than some of them, we thank God and say, "Who hath made thee to differ?"
We were, perhaps, born differently from many; and what we did not get by heredity, we got through grace; so our strength of character is not of ourselves. It is all by God's grace that we are better than others; and it is not for us to glory, but to give thanks. So we have sympathy for murderers, thieves and vagabonds in general; and we believe the Lord has.
This does not mean that we have the kind of sympathy which would say, "Open wide the prison doors and let every one out!" No, no! Some who have received the Truth while in prison have asked us to intercede in their behalf, that they might be released; and we have answered that we were not sure but that they were better where they are; for in prison there is less temptation than in the world. Liberty is a good thing; but it brings a responsibility and additional trials as well.
SIN AND DEATH ARE HEREDITARY
As we consider the weakness and sinfulness of humanity, the question naturally arises, "Why is this so?" The Scriptures, not the Evolution theory, give us a satisfactory answer to the question.
When God placed our first parents in the Garden of Eden, He made this proposition to them: "If you do right, as I command, you may continue to live; but if you do wrong, contrary to My command, you shall die." Our first parents disregarded the Divine command and were disobedient. God immediately sentenced them to death. Death was the penalty of disobedience. In other words, God said, "If you are a sinner I will not permit you to live. Those to whom I wish to grant eternal life are those who will gladly obey My Law." For, as Jesus said, true worshippers will "worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him."--`John 4:23`.
But in addition to having the death sentence passed upon him--whether that death come sooner or later-- Father Adam received other punishment, aside from that penalty. Ejected from the Garden of Eden, he was brought into contact with thorns and thistles; he labored with sweat of face; he had the sorrows and troubles that come with the decaying body. All these things were the result of sin.
But so far as God was concerned, the penalty of sin was the death sentence merely. In effect God had said, "You are not fit to live; you are not fit for everlasting life; you shall not have everlasting life." But through the sacrifice of His human nature, Jesus, by the grace of God, has tasted death for the whole world
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of mankind--Adam and all his children, all of whom will ultimately be redeemed from God's sentence. They will be redeemed from death in order that Jesus may, during His Messianic reign of one thousand years, lift them up out of sin and degradation.
THE TRANSGRESSOR MAKES HIS OWN WAY HARD
But do you ever think to what extent man degrades himself? To that extent he will be more degraded than is necessary; and whenever the time comes for his uplifting, the lower he is, the more difficulty there will be in getting him up again. Since God's arrangement for lifting mankind out of the death condition is that he must help himself, each man must labor to rise from his degradation, and must be assisted in his labor. But by his own efforts he must get out of the difficulty. No man will get out by saying, "I would rather be out of this and have life." The way back to perfection will be an up-hill way. It will not be the narrow way of the present time-- darkness on every hand, a strait gate, etc.--but a highway, an upward way, something favorable to the person going up. He cannot roll up, but will be required to put forth some effort to get up. He will not be required to put forth so much effort in a month or in a year or in ten years, as we have to put forth, but he will have a good share of the thousand years of Christ's reign in which he can gradually rise up out of his imperfection.
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We, on the contrary, are required to turn from sin to righteousness and to make a full sacrifice of ourselves to the Lord. Then we must walk in the Narrow Way to the best of our ability. In this we have the Master to help us; but ours is a short, sharp period of fiery trial; and if our trial is hard, we have the assurance that there is a great reward to those who come off victorious in this battle against self and sin.
In a word, then, when people die, that is the end of things, in one sense of the word, and not an end in another sense of the word. When a man is dead he has come under the full sentence of the Law, for the Law said, "Thou shalt die."
THE WORLD'S HOPE IS THE RESURRECTION
A junk heap represents the condition of humanity, as well as it can be represented. Some people will go to a junk pile and find a great deal of value there; they can do something with this, that and the other thing. Our Lord is the greatest Restorer ever known. When His Kingdom is set up, He will take over the world of mankind, approximately 20,000,000,000 of humanity--Adam and his children, all in their broken, fallen condition; and then the great work of refreshing and restoring will begin. The sawing, the hammering and the filing, if you please, will continue during the whole thousand years of the Millennial reign.
So, you see, the condition into which a man gets himself now has a great deal to do with his future. Many will be so degraded that when they come forth from the tomb they will have a very difficult time. Some of these are mentioned in the Scriptures. We are told that some will come forth to shame and lasting contempt. There are many people who will come forth to shame. After they had died, many have been found to have been defaulters; many people have been found to have indulged in very criminal acts; yet perhaps no one knew it while they lived. These things came out after their death, and some things may not have come out yet; but we may be very sure that when the Lord's time shall come for the general opening up, there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed. Therefore, keep your records as clear as possible. Whatever is there will surely be made manifest, is the Lord's declaration of the matter.
When the world's history shall all be known, some that we have thought to be very honest, just people, we may find to have been just the reverse; and others who may have been thought to be dishonest may be found to have been very honest. The judgment of the world is not always right. This is one reason why the Lord warns His people not to judge at the present time. We are not competent now. The Lord will judge in the future. When that time comes and the whole world of mankind are brought forth to have their trial before the "Great White Throne," the books will be opened. Then some will have shame, and some will have great contempt, which will last just as long as they are contemptible. How long will they be contemptible? Just as long as they remain in the wrong state of mind. But if they will obey the terms and regulations of the Messianic Kingdom they will rise daily out of their degradation and meanness, coming back more and more to the perfect likeness of God in the flesh, as represented in Adam.
As mankind rise from their fallen condition, so this contempt will pass away. At that time people will perhaps say, "Well, you know he was a very wicked man in his time. He suffered contempt when it was first realized what a degraded character he was." Or, "She was a wicked woman, but now see what a change has come over her! See how well she has gotten along! See what effort she is putting forth! See what character she is developing!" And all will rejoice to see the change.
By the end of the Millennial Age, one who was in shame and contempt at the beginning will, if he has taken the right course, have been lifted up above it. We see the principle illustrated in the Scriptures. Saul of Tarsus was in shame and contempt because he was a murderer and blasphemer. But we do not hold him in contempt. Neither do we hold St. Peter in contempt because he denied the Lord. At that time it will be said of the world just as we say of the Apostles when we see what wonderful characters they were afterwards. When the world shall have been brought to a knowledge of God and His righteousness under the favorable conditions of the Kingdom, restitution will take out of them all imperfections and give them all the good qualities that God originally gave to the perfect man, when God said that he was "very good."
WHO MAY ENTER THE KINGDOM
But do not the Scriptures say that no murderer shall enter the Kingdom of God? Yes. The Scriptures state that murderers will not be in the Kingdom, that they will be outside--have no part in it--"without are murderers," etc. (`Rev. 22:14,15`.) This statement does not signify that a man who has once been a murderer might not reform and become a saint and an heir of the Kingdom. We have already referred to one murderer mentioned in the Scriptures, guilty of the murder of St. Stephen, Saul of Tarsus, who afterward became one of the most notable Apostles. He was a murderer, the responsibility of Stephen's death lay at his feet. He was a member of the Sanhedrin and approved of the stoning of Stephen, without which approval the latter could not have been stoned.
So when we read that no drunkard or murderer of robber shall enter the Kingdom, the New Jerusalem, how shall we understand it? In this way: that when during the Millennial Kingdom all mankind shall have the opportunity of coming into harmony with God, those who maintain a sympathy or love for unrighteousness of any kind will not have Divine approval. They will not be
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permitted to enter within the gate of the City, which symbolically represents the Kingdom and the Divine favor. Originally, Jerusalem represented the Church. "I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife"; and "the wall of the City had twelve foundations [foundation stones], and in them the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb." (`Rev. 21:9-14`.) But into that City there would be brought the good only.
So all the world of mankind who will come into harmony with God will come into that City, into the New Jerusalem and Kingdom of God, and outside of that City will be found all impure characters. We have them pictured in this statement, that liars and murderers, etc., shall have their portion in the "lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." This "lake of fire and brimstone" is as symbolical as is the City. As the City is not a literal city of gold, neither is the lake a literal lake of fire and brimstone. That City was pictured by Jerusalem, and the "fire" by Gehenna. As the offal of the literal city of Jerusalem was put into the Valley of Hinnom for destruction and for the purification of the city, so all the offal of the Millennial Kingdom will be destroyed and be kept outside of the Golden Jerusalem. That will be a glorious Kingdom, free from anything that would be a blight or blemish or sin; and all who love unrighteousness, in any sense of the word, will be destroyed in "the lake of fire," which is, we are told by the Revelator, the Second Death. --`Rev. 21:8`.
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"YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD"
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."--`Matt. 5:16`.
WE NOTICE that our Lord's statement in this text draws a particularly sharp line of demarcation between the Church and the world. He is not their Father, but our Father; it is not their light, but our light. The Lord was addressing the Apostles in particular and all the "overcomers" of that time. But He gives us elsewhere to understand that we who believe the testimony of the Apostles are counted in as the same class, so that these words are applicable to us also today. This statement implies that the class which the Lord acknowledges as His disciples have some special light that marks them out as light-bearers. This light that has come to us is the illumination referred to by the Apostle Paul in other places. This illumination that we have received is the light of the Holy Spirit.
One does not receive this light when he says, "I will lie no more; I will cheat no more; I will blaspheme no more." If anyone were in a state of alienation from God it would be very proper for him to turn from these sins. But turning from sin would not make one a child of God. We know a great mistake is generally made in the world by thinking thus. There is only one way of coming into this relationship of sons, and that is the way that the Scriptures set forth--faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, full confidence in the Divine arrangement of which He is the Center, a faith which works, a faith which would lead us to the point of full consecration--baptism into His will. It is the strait gate and narrow way.
THE LIGHT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT
No one is in the family of the Lord at the present time unless this person has entered through the strait gate into the narrow way. Such begin to be marked by the Holy Spirit, which illuminates their hearts and minds, giving them a clearer light on things in harmony with righteousness. This illumination, this light which is in us, the Lord says we should be careful lest we lose it. If that light should go out, we would be in greater darkness than we were before.
In another place it is written, "Quench not the Spirit." (`I Thess. 5:19`). It could be extinguished entirely. We are, therefore, to keep it as an evidence that we are children
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of God. And if this light be in us we should not keep it secret, not put it under a bushel. We should not say, "We know not the Man"--we know not Jesus. For if any one is ashamed of Him, He will withdraw the light from such a one. One who is ashamed of Him and His cause is ashamed of everything that is right. Such have no right to be in the Church; for the Church are to be the Body of Christ and joint-heirs in the Kingdom of glory and in the work of judging and uplifting mankind.
So, then, we must not be ashamed and hide our light from the masses of men. We have a new illumination. We are to set our light upon a candlestick that all within the house--our own family, our own household, our neighbors--may see it burning; that they may all know that we have a light upon the character and Plan of God; that we see the difference between sin and righteousness, justice and injustice.
OUR LIVES SHOULD CONFORM TO OUR PROFESSION
Whoever holds up a light must of necessity confess the light he is holding. Of some our Lord said that they confess with their mouths, but deny in their lives. We are to let our light so shine that it will bring honor to the Father's name. This means that our whole lives are to be in conformity with the professions we are making, so that others will see and say, "Well, that man believes what he preaches. It is good that such a person lives in our neighborhood." They may not always prefer us for companions, for wherever the children of the light go, it has a reproving influence.
Let us not be surprised, then, if when our neighbors have a reception and entertainment they say, "We will omit their names, for we shall have some wine and some good times, and we do not want them in." We are not to expect the world to love us. We are not to marvel if it goes to the other extreme. Yet not all of the world will hate us. Some will criticize and find fault; others will notice a consistency and say, "It looks to me as though this is genuine."
We are living epistles, "known and read of all men." (`2 Cor. 3:2`.) The light is conspicuous because the darkness is general. We are not to consider this text as being in conflict with that which says we are not to let our left hand know what our right hand does, nor do our good deeds to be seen of men. There is a difference between doing our good deeds to be seen of our neighbors, and in doing them to be seen of our Father. The person who is doing his good deeds to be seen of men will be noticed by people in general, who will say, "Well, I do not believe that he means half he says. He is a hypocrite."
But the person who is living to glorify the Father will not do good to win applause for himself. Whatever he does in the way of charities, or in visiting the sick, etc., he will prefer to do it in an unostentatious manner, making as little show about his good deeds as possible. Consequently, the result will be beneficial to himself and to
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the person to whom he ministers, for he does these things for the glory of God.
HOW THE WORLD CAN GLORIFY GOD
The latter part of the text says, "and glorify your Father which is in heaven." It was not the Master's expectation that the little light which the disciples would let shine would have a convincing effect upon the world, and that they would all fall down and bow before the Father. Even if the whole world knew about the narrow way, only a few would be willing to undertake to walk in it. Therefore the Lord hides these things from the world, and reveals these secret things respecting the great "high calling" to the meek, to the humble, to those to whom the knowledge would be most advantageous.
How do the world, then, glorify the Father which is in heaven? How would men glorify our Father? We answer that there is a difference between vicious, worldly people and well-meaning worldly people. We are inclined to believe that the majority of mankind, who are in alienation from God and who have no ear to hear the message of the "narrow way," have, nevertheless, an appreciation of righteousness. And if without too much cost they could be righteous, just, generous and all that would be noble, as represented in perfect humanity, they would like to be so. Many of the world have an appreciation of nobility in others. They would like to have it themselves. The difficulty is that the cost of righteousness is more than they are willing to pay.
This class say, "We approve the righteous way, but at the present time it is too difficult. To walk in it would mean the blighting of all our hopes and prospects. We would have to consider whether we could make such transactions as would bring us prosperity. These things are too difficult now. If there was just as much reward to do right as to do wrong, we would prefer it. We honor God. We honor the principles of righteousness. We see some of the principles of righteousness exemplified in these peculiar people. They are of God. We appreciate these things. Indeed, it is the ideal life. They glorify God. Evidently God is a righteous God; and we hope He will not do too much harm to us. But we cannot let go of the things of this world. Perhaps we may become saints before we die. Who knows?" So they have the idea that they will be neither too saintly, nor too bad!
ST. PAUL'S LIGHT SHONE BEFORE RULERS
The influence of light is christianizing, civilizing, uplifting and produces a regard for right, an appreciation of right and wrong, a respect for God. But we are not to think that the building of cathedrals, etc., has had an enlightening influence in the world, nor that the members of these institutions have the light. They admit, themselves, that they are not saints. Only a small number in the world have been saints.
But this minority has had an influence all down through these eighteen hundred years--and it is having an influence today. Look at Jesus and the Apostles! See how the light from their lives and conduct has had an enlightening influence upon the world in leading men to honor our Father! Every one of the Body of Christ all down the Gospel Age has had light, has had influence to some extent and has had something to do with scattering the darkness and inculcating reverence for the Heavenly Father.
We see an illustration of this in the Apostle Paul, who was suffering for righteousness' sake. He was before the Roman Governor; and as St. Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance and the coming judgment, or retribution, Felix trembled. He apprehended; he was convinced. He said, "Here is a man who is living in harmony with these principles of righteousness. The life of this man Paul shows what right is, and that my life is wrong. And if the Lord is to reward right-doing and punish wrong-doing, this Paul will get good things from God. But what shall I get?" So he trembled.
There is a natural dread in mankind because they know that they deserve punishment. The Scriptures tell us that there will be a righteous recompense of reward. St. Paul's words were a great blessing to Felix, for that light which was shining out of Paul's life and words led Felix to see his wrong condition. He might have thought, "It will be altogether right for God to give me some punishment for my sins."
Again, as the Apostle was reasoning before Agrippa and Festus, Agrippa said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." St. Paul said, "I would to God that, not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds." (`Acts 26:28,29`.) Having the thought pass before his mind, however, did not make Agrippa a saint. But he had heard the things which led him to appreciate his own fallen condition. He saw that St. Paul was suffering for right-doing and that he was suffering for wrong-doing. He saw that God is a God of justice.
GOSPEL AGE THE CHURCH'S DAY OF VISITATION--THE
MILLENNIUM THE WORLD'S
Another Scripture somewhat along the same line reads, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles that...they may glorify God in the day of visitation." (`I Pet. 2:12`.) This shows us a distinction between the day of their visitation and the day of our visitation. This Gospel Age, the present life, has become the day of our visitation, when in the Divine favor it is the time of forgiveness of our sins and of our being brought into relationship with the Father.
No one can have these blessings now except he can exercise faith; otherwise he does not have his day of visitation now. "We who believe" and "enter into rest" are having our "day of visitation." God has come to us now, and has adopted us into His family. And His Plan is that if it so be that we are willing to suffer with our Lord, we shall also reign with Him in glory. This is our visitation day of honor.
Will the remainder of mankind have a day of visitation and honor? Most assuredly so; they will have opportunity to avail themselves of the redeeming work of our Savior. If their ears are not open now to hear and their eyes to see, the day will come when this will be so; if not now, in the blessed opportunity we have, then it will come by and by. But if we have our day of visitation and neglect these things; if after having put our "hand to the plow" and having received of the good Word of God, we look back; and "if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" of the Lord.--`Heb. 10:26,27`.
But those who do not share in this "day of visitation" will have an opportunity of coming into harmony with God later. If they cannot be reached by the gentle methods mentioned and the visitation by which God is calling out the special class now, they will have an opportunity in the next Age, when judgment will be laid to the line and righteousness to the plummet; when all the righteous recompense of reward will be brought to bear, to give each one according to his course.
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LOVE OF THE BRETHREN A CRUCIAL TEST
"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."--`Psa. 133:1`.
`PSALM 133` is evidently prophetic and seems to refer to the brethren in "the Church, which is the Body of Christ." This thought is implied in the second verse, which says, "It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments," which is a picture of the Holy Spirit running down over the Body of Christ, the Church.
The Psalm seems to be specially applicable to our day, although it has always been a pleasant sight to see brethren dwelling together in unity. In times of persecution there would be greater unity, because there would be fewer likely to attach themselves to the Church; outside persecutions would be likely to deter all but the truly consecrated. Such persecutions all would be likely to feel, and only those who had common interest and common cause would be drawn together.
But as persecution would cease and as more would come into the Church, who were not so zealous, the opportunities for differences would seem to increase. Although today there is much opposition to the children of light, there is, apparently, little persecution. The Truth has attracted a number, some of whom, probably, are not all that they should be. In fact, none of them are what they desire to be--copies of God's dear Son; but each and all should be striving to attain to the standard.
CAUSES OF FRICTION INCREASING
It might at first seem strange that there would be any friction between these favored children of God. One would suppose that their hearts would be so filled with the Holy Spirit that there would be no room for the weeds of hatred, envy, strife, jealousy, and that these would be crowded out by the fruits of the Spirit. Perhaps such was the condition when we first made our consecration; and there was no room for these works of the flesh. But it seems that the causes of friction are increasing rather than diminishing. It is proper, therefore, that we should note the source of the difficulty and thus be enabled to ward off the danger and to be peacemakers amongst the brethren. "Ye that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak." (`Rom. 15:1`.) If this standard be the measure, there are not so many strong as we might have hoped; therefore, it behooves each of us to become strong and helpful to the weak brethren in the Church.
One thing to be considered is that there is more opportunity for friction amongst those who are spirit-begotten New Creatures than there is amongst the world, as a whole; that is to say, a company of people in the nominal Church would find it easier to live together in unity and peace than would a company of people more thoroughly enlightened, energized by the Truth. This statement might seem strange at first, but becomes more apparent as we examine. In the nominal Church religion is more a matter of form. With nominal Christians it is customary to dress up and attend meetings, to sit quietly and then to return home. Pleasant things are noticed, as, for instance, the sunshine, the flowers, the bonnets. Thus the day passes. But with those more enlightened there is a greater activity of mind, of thought. We, too, love the flowers, and all things provided for us by our Heavenly Father. We discuss these--and there is much opportunity for discussion; for as no two persons look exactly alike, so no two persons think exactly alike.
Some of the Lord's people boast that they do their own thinking. But the wisest course is for us to do our own believing. Some subjects are matters of inference and not of knowledge. We are taught of God. He tells us thus and so in His Word, and, if we accept these propositions as they come from the Lord, we can do so without too much discussion. It is pleasant, of course, for us to philosophize on the teachings of God's Word; it is our privilege to believe that which the Lord has stated to us. But whatever philosophizing we do should be kept in restraint and in harmony with the Divine statement. And when we remember that while we are philosophizing each other one is philosophizing also, we see where comes in the doctrinal difficulty.
These different doctrinal matters are drawn from the Scriptures. But as soon as we begin to reason about the things not written, there is danger of conflict. Whoever sticks most closely to the Word of God will thereby not only do himself good, but will also be able to avoid controversy with other brethren and their philosophies. We presume that the Lord would not be averse to our having certain reflections along certain lines. We are, nevertheless, to remember that if we have a thought and present it to the brethren, and it does not seem logical to them, we are not to force it upon them, nor are they to force their views upon us. The difficulty seems to be that there is a tendency in such matters to fight each thought to the finish, to want everybody to agree with us, whereas the proper way is to be content and let the matter rest.
Each brother has a right to his own opinion. We have no right to make our own views tests. The things that are tests are the things given us in the Scriptures; as, for instance, it is a test with us and as to our standing with the brethren that we should believe that Jesus Christ is the Anointed One and the Savior of the world; that we are to be joint-heirs with Him and share in His inheritance; that we are bought with a price; that we are to have share with our Lord in the sufferings of this present time and in the glories to follow.
Such plain Scriptural statements are to be the ground of our belief, and not any fanciful interpretations put on them by some others. Some see the more general outlines; some see the details and fail to see the general outline. While those who possess the different casts of mind are to be neither blamed nor praised, yet they must grasp the thought that we are to be willing to suffer for the Truth--in our loyalty to God, to the brethren and to the Truth in general.
THE TRUTH ATTRACTS STRONG CHARACTERS
We are to remember that these brethren who find it so difficult to dwell together in unity have this difficulty in part because of their real intrinsic worth, or character. There are some people whose characters are like putty; there are others in whom you can make a momentary dent, as in a rubber ball; still others are like diamonds. The class that are diamond-like have attained a firmness of texture, of character. If we put a number of balls of putty, a number of rubber balls and a number of diamonds into a pan and shake them well, the diamonds will scratch everything with which they come in contact, because they are so hard. The Lord is not looking for the rubber ball class now nor for the putty class. In due time the Lord will deal with all classes--the people who are of the putty kind and the people who are of the rubber ball kind. But we know that the Truth is appealing now only to the jewel class, the diamond class.
When learning that there is danger of stumbling each other, wounding each other, the knowledge should give
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us wisdom. We should be appreciative of the fact that these brethren have real characters, and that they are not of the putty kind. Even their differences show character. We should try to appreciate the fact and so to exercise ourselves as not to irritate them. We are to counsel them, and to remember that they, as New Creatures, are just as desirous of pleasing the Lord as we are. We must, therefore, have patience with each other. There is one text in the New Testament which declares, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (`I John 3:14`.) The intimation is that some of the brethren would be hard to love, and that, unless we had passed from death unto life, we would be unable to love them.
The Truth seems to take hold on the stronger characters rather than on the weaker ones. The former have in their flesh more of the firmness, grittiness and combativeness than have many others, who are too pliable and "wishy-washy" to be acceptable to the Lord as members of the "little flock" of overcomers. Thus we see that the very quality which makes us acceptable to the Lord and which is one qualification of the overcoming position, is a serious disadvantage in some respects, when a number of these come together as a Church.
Even a diamond surrounded by mud would cut nothing, would scratch nothing; but place a dozen diamonds together, and the more you get rid of the mud element the more gritting, scouring and cutting there is likely to be. So it is with the Lord's jewels--the more they come together, the more they get wakened up, the more opportunities there will be for friction, and the greater necessity there will be that all be thoroughly imbedded in and covered with the Holy Spirit, which, like oil, is smooth and unctuous and tends to prevent friction.
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JESUS' SOUL RESURRECTED
--`I CORINTHIANS 15:1-11`.--APRIL 7.--
Text:--"This Jesus hath God raised up,
whereof we are all witnesses."--`Acts 2:32`.
TODAY'S STUDY leaves the words and works of Jesus and, appropriate to the Easter season, we are to consider our Lord's resurrection. At the very outset we are confronted with certain errors which have gradually crystallized around the central truths of God's Word. One of these errors is the supposition that the resurrection of the dead, which the Scriptures hold forth as the hope of the Church and of the world, is to be a resurrection of the bodies which go down into death.
This mistake has given ground for Infidelity to sneer at this precious doctrine of the Bible. We are asked, How could the dust which once constituted the bodies of thousands of millions of humanity ever be re-collected and rearranged so that we could say that those bodies were resurrected? The infidel urges that many of humanity have been eaten by fishes and animals, and many other corpses have been absorbed by vegetation, which in turn has been eaten time and again by man and beast, entering into the many organisms. The proposition is manifestly unanswerable, yet it does not refute the Bible teaching of the resurrection, but merely our creedal misapprehensions of the Bible teaching. What the Bible does teach is that the real man is the soul, the being, and that he persists while gradually his body keeps changing-- sloughing off.
Scientists estimate that the human body undergoes a complete change every seven years, so that a man fifty years old will have lost seven different bodies through natural wastes. None of those bodies was the man himself, for he is the soul, the intelligent personality, which used those different bodies. According to the Bible, the process of rejuvenation would have continued everlastingly had man by obedience continued in Divine favor and in the enjoyment of the everlasting life promised. It was sin, therefore, that brought the death penalty--the death of the soul. It was Adam's soul that sinned, it was Adam's soul that died. "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"; "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
The result of this Divine sentence upon man would have been extinction--he would have been on the same plane as the brute, without a provision for eternal life, had not God in great mercy provided a redemption--that Jesus Christ by the grace of God should taste death for every man. The death which Jesus experienced was exactly the same kind as the one which destroyed Adam-- the soul of Jesus died, as the ransom price for the soul of Adam (including Adam's posterity). Thus we read of Jesus, "He poured out His soul unto death"; "He made His soul an offering for sin."
It is by virtue of this corresponding price which Jesus paid that ultimately Adam and all of his posterity, every soul of man, will be granted a release from the death penalty--a resurrection from the dead. It will be a resurrection, not of the dead bodies, but of the dead souls. In the resurrection God will give to each soul a body as it has pleased Him.--`I Cor. 15:38`.
The few during this Age who have become followers of Jesus, begotten of the Holy Spirit, will be granted spirit bodies like to the Savior's. The remainder of mankind, not having been begotten of the Holy Spirit, will in the resurrection be granted human bodies, the same as they previously had; and their raising up will bring them eventually to all the perfection of the first Adam, unless they refuse the grace of God, in which event they will die the Second Death, from which there is to be no resurrection.
It is because God has provided for such a resurrection of the souls of men that the Scriptures speak of humanity as not being dead in the same sense that the brute beasts are dead--actually. On the contrary, they speak of the souls of men as being asleep--awaiting the resurrection, when they shall be quickened to life, in conjunction with the bodies which God will supply at that time--earthly bodies to mankind in general, heavenly bodies for the saintly few who will receive the Kingdom.
JESUS' SOUL RESURRECTED
St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost declared that the Holy Spirit then bestowed came as a result of our Redeemer's death and resurrection and ascension on high. It proved that He had appeared in heaven on behalf of those who desired to be His followers, His Bride class. St. Peter argues backwards to prove that while the sacrifice of Jesus, finished at Calvary, was to pay for Divine reconciliation, nevertheless there could have been no reconciliation if Jesus had remained dead. Hence he laid stress upon the fact of His resurrection, and he reminds us that this was foretold. The Prophet David declared, "Thou wilt not leave My soul in sheol, nor suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption."--`Acts 2:27`.
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St. Peter's quotation of this, in the Greek, substitutes the word hades for sheol, showing that the two words have the same meaning--the tomb, the state of the dead. St. Peter points out that the Prophet could not have used the word respecting himself, because his soul was left in hades, and his flesh did see corruption. St. Peter said, "David has not ascended into heaven, and his sepulcher is with us to this day." (`Acts 2:34,29`.) He proceeds to point out that the words were a prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus, that His soul, poured out in death as the redemption price for Adam's soul and for the race, was not left in death, in sheol, in hades, but He was raised from the dead.
St. Paul tells us that "He was put to death in flesh, but quickened in spirit." He declared that Jesus, in His resurrection, was exalted to a higher than human nature, to a higher than the angelic nature--far above angels and principalities and powers--the divine nature.
OUR DIFFICULTY SOLVED
Many have supposed that the fact that our Lord appeared as a man to His disciples after His resurrection proves that He is still a human being, "a little lower than the angels." This is a great mistake. He was the Church's Forerunner, and St. Paul explains the Church's resurrection, saying, "It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown an animal body, raised a spirit body." Hence the resurrection of Jesus must have been as a Spirit Being. Again we read, "Now the Lord is that Spirit."--`2 Cor. 3:17`.
In considering the Lord's eight appearances to His faithful ones after His resurrection, we should remember that He had two purposes to serve: (1) He wished them to know that He was no longer dead. (2) He also wished them to know that, resurrected, He was a Spirit Being of the highest order, with all the privileges and powers that spirit beings like the angels exercise. As angels could materialize and appear in the flesh and then disappear, and had done so in the past, so did Jesus. In order that they might not misunderstand He appeared in different forms; on two of the occasions, in forms representing the Crucified One; on the six other occasions, in various forms, as the gardener, the sojourner, etc.
In the last verse of our study the Apostle sums up the essence of his preaching, saying, "So we preach and so ye believe." This, in the first verse of our study, St. Paul calls the Gospel; and the word "Gospel" signifies "good tidings," which St. Paul and the other Apostles preached, namely, that God, in His own due time, four thousand years after sin had entered the world, had provided a Redeemer, who had died a ransom price for the man Adam. The Redeemer had risen that He might, as Jehovah's Anointed One, the Messiah, confer upon the human race the blessed opportunity for restitution to all that was lost in Adam, and redeemed at Calvary.
But before this could be accomplished, the Church, the Bride class, must be selected from amongst mankind, to be the Second Adam's Bride, on the same plane of glory as the Second Adam, for the regeneration of all the willing and obedient to human perfection--all that was lost.
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WHICH DAY IS SABBATH?
--`MARK 2:23-3:6`.--APRIL 14.--
Text:--"The Sabbath was made for man,
and not man for the Sabbath."--`Mark 2:27`.
THAT THE BIBLE teaches some important lessons respecting the Sabbath is undisputed, but what that lesson is is much questioned. The fourth commandment of the Decalogue refers to the seventh day and requires its observance as a day of rest, and no more. The Ten Commandments, as a whole, were the basis of the Law Covenant, compulsory upon every Jew. The Jew keeping all of those commandments was promised everlasting life. Failure to keep them all condemned him afresh. There can be no doubt on this point.
However, in our Lord's time, Jewish religionists had become to a considerable degree formalists, and greater stress was laid upon the literal commandments than on their real spirit, their real meaning. Jesus reproved this on several occasions, saying to the Doctors of the Law, "You bind heavy burdens upon the people." For instance, to hunt for a flea on the Sabbath was construed to be a violation of the fourth commandment, a breaking of the Sabbath, for it was claimed that the man was hunting as truly as though it were a buffalo or a lion.
Similarly, as mentioned in this lesson, fault was found with our Lord's disciples because, passing through a wheat field, they rubbed out some of the grains in their hands and ate them. This was construed as a violation of the Sabbath because it was threshing, winnowing, whether the amount was small or great. Jesus did not violate the Sabbath ordinance nor teach men so. He was a Jew and bound to keep the Sabbath law to the full. He did object to such nonsensical misinterpretations as we have mentioned. In this study He shows that the Sabbath was ordained for man, and that it is a mistake to suppose, as some then and some now seem to suppose, that God made
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man simply to keep the Sabbath. One day of rest to six of work was intended for man's comfort and protection, and at the same time to symbolize a certain great lesson, which we shall note hereafter.
Jesus, knowing the mental attitude of His hearers in respect to ancient customs, supported His teaching by citing them to what David did--that in an emergency he ate some of the show bread, unlawful except for the priests, and that doing so he was not punished, not considered blameworthy. Jesus, as the Son of Man, was Lord of the Sabbath, and had a right to explain its true import.
Later Jesus went into the synagogue where there was a man who had a withered hand and they watched Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath day, that they might accuse Him. Addressing them, Jesus said, "Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" They made no answer. The Savior was grieved and angry with a righteous indignation that men should so seriously mistake and misrepresent the Divine arrangement as to think it sinful to relieve human distress on the Sabbath. Then He said to the man, "Stretch forth thine hand!" It was healed. But the Pharisees, more zealous for their theory than for the truth, for the letter of the Law than for the spirit of the Law, were angry and took counsel with the Herodians how Jesus might be destroyed--be killed.
LORD OF THE SABBATH
No commandment was given by Jesus or the Apostles to the Church respecting the Sabbath day. The early Church evidently did observe the Jewish seventh day in many places, and in some places the first day of the week, the anniversary of the Lord's resurrection; and sometimes
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they observed both of these days. But their observance was not that of law or command, for the Apostle wrote, "Ye are not under law, but under grace." They had the privilege of keeping either or both of those days holy, sacred to the Lord, resting from earthly affairs and giving themselves peculiarly to spiritual matters.
So with us today. We are glad that one day in the week is so generally observed as a day of rest or Sabbath (Sabbath day signifies rest day). We are glad that the day so generally set apart is the first day of the week, because it so beautifully commemorates the Christian's hope, attested by our Lord's resurrection from the dead on that day. And if God's people had two Sabbaths, or seven of them in the week, we believe they would have that much more of blessing.
Indeed, to the Christian, every day is Sabbath, every day should be used as holy to the Lord, and nothing should at any time be done contrary to the Divine will or the principles of the Divine Government. Jesus' declaration that He was Lord of the Sabbath reminds us afresh of St. Paul's declaration that God the Father rested from His own work on the Seventh Day; He left the work entirely for Jesus to do. The Seventh Day of Jehovah's rest was one of the great Days of the Creative Week, each seven thousand years long. Six of these great days had passed and man's creation was in the end of the sixth.
Having established His human son in Eden as the god or ruler of the earth, Jehovah rested or ceased from His work during the Seventh Day or seventh period of seven thousand years. Six thousand years of this seventh period have already passed and Jehovah God has rested, ceased from His work--He has not interfered to assist man or lift him out of sin and degradation. Another thousand years of the seven remains, but God will not personally engage in man's rescue even then. Why not? Because it is a part of the Divine Program to leave fallen man and his rescue entirely in the hands of Jesus. He is Lord of this Great Seventh Day.
MAN'S SEVENTH DAY
This entire period of seven thousand years which constitutes the great Seventh Day or Sabbath, with God, is divided with man into seven great Days of a thousand years each, in six of which he has been under a reign of sin and death, toil and suffering; but the Seventh, or Sabbath of a thousand years, has been appointed for his rescue and uplifting and blessing. In that glorious Seventh thousand-year period Jesus is to be Lord. It will be the great Antitypical Sabbath, and the great Antitypical Jubilee for mankind. The six days of toil will terminate in the great Sabbath of Messiah's glorious reign and the blessing of all the families of the earth.
THE CHURCH'S SABBATH DAY
St. Paul clearly intimates that to the Church, the New Creation, every day is a Sabbath day, in the sense that God's consecrated people rest as God rests, in faith, in hope, in trust that Jesus will eventually deliver the groaning creation and bring them into a glorious Sabbath, Rest. St. Paul says, "We who believe do enter into rest." Literally, we who believe have a perpetual Sabbath. Seven days in the week, and fifty-two weeks in the year our hearts rest in the Lord and take comfort in the glorious promises of His Word through faith. Thus we rest from feelings of responsibility and worry on account of the world's salvation in exactly the same way that the heavenly Father rests.
We, like the heavenly Father, have the fullest confidence that the Redeemer will yet accomplish the blessing of all the families of the earth, and bring all the willing and obedient into the great Rest Time of the future--the thousand years of the Messianic Kingdom, in which the world will be released from the slavery of Satan, sin and death--in which the groaning creation "will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God"--so many as are willing and obedient.
But while the Church is thus resting by faith and now enjoy a Sabbath, even though, according to the flesh, we are passing through tribulation hoping to attain a share in Messiah's Kingdom, the Apostle points out that "There remaineth a rest for the people of God"--still a different one from that which we now enjoy. The actual rest or Sabbath will be not merely that of faith and rest of heart, it will include also a rest from all labor, while our works will follow with us. In other words, the resurrection change will bring us full relief from the trials, the toils of the way, and usher us fully into the glorious blessings of the resurrection state.
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WHY MEN FEAR THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
ALL MEN realize that they come short of perfection. Additionally, nearly all realize that in the past of their lives lie crimes more or less serious. In the majority of minds fear is instinctive. Under proper limitations it is a healthy condition. "Let us fear lest a promise being left us of entering into His [Divine] rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." The fear [reverence] of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."--`Heb. 4:1`; `Psa. 111:10`.
But the Adversary has taken advantage of this proper and wholesome fear through what the Apostle terms "doctrines of devils." Thus from infancy an abnormal, irrational fear has obtained a lodgment in nearly every mind, heathen and civilized. Of this fear the Lord, through the Prophet, says, "Their fear toward Me is taught by the precepts of men." (`Isa. 29:13`.) These "precepts of men," or human traditions, have grossly misrepresented God and His Word; and alas! many, even Bible students, are seriously handicapped by these devilish theories established in a period of ignorance and superstition, but supposed to be based upon the Divine Word.
THE TIME OF RESTITUTION IS THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
Amongst other false theories respecting the second coming of Christ we have the view held by our Adventist brethren, that the moment of the Lord's coming will be the "crack of doom" to the world and the inhabitants thereof--marking the end of hope for all not previously brought into relationship with God through Christ, as saints. And Adventists are not alone in this theory. Practically the creeds of all denominations teach the same thought, which is the very reverse of the Scripture presentation.
St. Peter describes the time of the second advent and the blessings that will then come to mankind. He says, "Times of refreshing [greenness--springtime] shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you, whom the heaven must receive [retain], until the Times of Restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy Prophets since the world began."-- `Acts 3:19-21`.
The Scriptures teach that Christ Jesus and His glorified Church will together "judge the world." (`Acts 17:31`; `I Cor. 6:2`.) The judging of the world is commonly supposed
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to signify a condemning, or damning of the world. The real thought, however, is that having condemned the whole world through one man's disobedience, God has arranged that the entire race of Adam shall have a full fair, personal trial for life or death everlasting, as a result of the redemption accomplished by our Lord Jesus. If God had shown no mercy, there would have been no redemption and no future judgment. The trial of Adam six thousand years ago had its result and its penalty, under which sin and death have reigned for six thousand years.
Having provided the Redeemer, God is about to establish the Messianic Kingdom for the very purpose of giving to all humanity a special, personal opportunity for reformation, uplift, sanctification and the attainment thus of life everlasting. Only the preliminary steps of this great plan have yet been taken:
(1) The Redeemer has died, the Just for the unjust. --`I Pet. 3:18`.
(2) He has appeared in the presence of God for us, the Church, and thus, as our Advocate, has made it possible for us to become His Bride, or, under another figure, "members of His Body."--`Heb. 9:24`; `2 Cor. 11:2`; `I Cor. 12:12`.
(3) This offer, or opportunity for the Church, has separated from the world all those who accept this High Calling. They become Spirit-begotten children of God and, prospectively, joint-heirs with Jesus. They now share with the Redeemer in sacrificing the earthly life and, if faithful, will by and by be granted a share with Him in the glorious work of His Kingdom--the judging of the world--the giving of the world a fair, impartial trial for life everlasting or death everlasting.--`Rom. 8:17`.
"WHO SHALL STAND WHEN HE APPEARETH?"
However, there is another side to this question. The Scriptures indicate that at His Second Coming only the saintly ones will be ready to receive the Master with joy; that at that time the masses of mankind will be so associated with sin and injustice that, instead of being worthy of His approval, their course in life will come under reprobation and stripes. Hence, it is written, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you"; "Woe unto you that are full now."-- `Jas. 5:1`; `Luke 6:25`.
Babylon the Great is to fall; and the wonderful institutions of civilization, which are partly good and partly bad, will be found only partly satisfactory to the new King and the rulers of His Government. This will mean that many who are now stewards of wealth, influence, position, honor of men, etc., will be called to account and dispossessed of their stewardship. Their realization of their losses is figuratively represented in the Scriptures as wailing and howling and misery, as that class will suffer the loss of practically all upon which they are now setting their affections.
We are not saying that the poor are more righteous than the rich, but this class are more numerous; and those who have little of this world's goods and who are used to trials and scarcity will probably feel less the great time of trouble impending than will some who have long rested in the lap of luxury.
Under various symbolic figures the Bible graphically pictures this day of trouble which is approaching--as a whirlwind, as a fire, as a tempest, as a flood, as a "time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." That this great day is near, and "hasteth greatly," has been distinctly shown recently and is shown again today in the labor disturbances of Great Britain. There a startled world has been given a glimpse of the fires of passion and anger and resentment which are smouldering beneath the surface and which will shortly envelop the world in a fiery trial, the like of which the past has never known.-- `Dan. 12:1`.
"HE SHALL JUDGE THE WORLD IN RIGHTEOUSNESS"
From this standpoint the apprehensions of mankind are well based in respect to the Great King's disapproval of much that is carried on in the world in the name of civilization, yea, in the Master's own name! But let us not dwell too much upon this side of the question. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Let us rather point men to the glorious silver lining to that dark cloud which draws daily nearer and nearer. Let us point men to the glorious blessings of Messiah's Kingdom, and teach them to pray, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done," and to strive to understand and appreciate the principles governing that Kingdom; peradventure they may pass through the time of trouble with the less injury.
Hearken to the words of the Prophet (referring not at all to the Church, which is accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world, but speaking to mankind in general and exhorting the better element of the world), "Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger." (`Zeph. 2:3`.) It surely will be true that the more meek and more righteous men may be the better they will be prepared for the awful shock and terrible distress of that day of trouble, which as a plowshare will prepare the hearts of mankind to receive the good seed-- the Message of Divine Truth and Grace, which then will be made known to every creature.
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QUESTIONS RE ATONEMENT
A DEAR BROTHER asks some questions, the answers to which, we believe, will be helpful, both to himself and to others--either by confirming their understanding of the Truth or by correcting misunderstanding. We trust that the answers will be helpful to many of our readers:--
Question.--Would it be right to say that all the merit of our Lord's sacrifice is imputed to each and every individual when Scripturally he becomes a believer?
Answer.--No; the entire merit of our Lord's death was already in the hands of Justice when Jesus ascended up on high, but it was not applied in any degree nor to any person. According to the Divine intention that merit is to be applied for Adam's original sin and for all the sins of his children, which are the result directly or indirectly of original sin. Thus we might say that every member of Adam's race has a personal, individual interest or share in that redemptive merit, coming to him by Divine arrangement.
Our Lord left the early Church with the instruction that they should tarry at Jerusalem for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the evidence of their forgiveness of sins and of their adoption as children of God. He ascended on high and appeared in the presence of the Father--for the entire Church of the First-borns. The imputation of His merit was for them all, as well as for the representative few of the Lord's followers who waited for the blessing in the "upper room."
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Question.--You have pointed out that no less than the full merit of Christ would be sufficient for the sins of any individual of the human family. How, then, shall we think of sub-dividing this merit amongst these various individuals composing the Church of the First-borns and amongst the individuals who will compose the restitution class of the future?
Answer.--The placing of the entire merit of Christ in the hands of Justice guarantees to Justice a full satisfaction for all the Adamic weaknesses of all mankind-- even before that merit is specifically appropriated. And since the Church was a part of the world, for whom the sacrificial merit is a sufficient price, God could be just in imputing to each one coming in the name and merit of Jesus a sufficiency of His merit to make up for the imperfections and shortcomings; and so of this entire class --"the Church of the First-borns." The imputation of this merit to the Church as separate and apart from the world engages and obligates that merit for awhile in making good the imperfections of the flesh of the Church, so as to permit this class to offer to God a justified, and, therefore, an acceptable sacrifice.
But this is merely imputed or loaned to the Church, because the Church does not wish to keep the earthly rights of Jesus. The Church wishes to sacrifice its all and thus to follow the example of Jesus. And the great High Priest imputes to them enough of His merit to make the Church's offering acceptable when offered by the High Priest. When all of the Church of the First-borns shall have attained to the rewards of the spirit nature, all of the merit of the High Priest, Jesus, will be released, so far as they are concerned--the whole amount will again be free in the hands of Justice, as it was when Jesus ascended up on high.
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Question.--Would it be correct to say that the merit of Christ cannot be compared to a garment or robe until after consecration?
Answer.--A robe is a covering. The wedding robe of the parable represents our Lord's merit imputed to His people as a covering for their blemishes or imperfections of the flesh. This robe takes cognizance of the Church as the prospective Bride who acknowledges the Headship of Jesus her Lord. Another figure represents the members of the Church as wearing white robes and hoods or bonnets, the illustration of the under-priesthood. In this figure the priests represent the brethren or Body members and indicate that they are not independent, but under and subject to the Headship of Jesus.
The robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to the Church as a covering for her blemishes and to make her acceptable gives place to or becomes transformed into a robe of her own righteousness, in the resurrection. As our Lord Jesus is represented as robed in white linen, so the Bride is pictured as arrayed in fine linen, "the righteousness of the saints." The imputed robe merely covers our fleshly blemishes and imperfections in the present time.
The new body which God will give us in the resurrection will be perfect of itself and need no imputation of the merit of Jesus. The spirit body of those who will attain to the "first resurrection" will be absolute, complete, perfect, as was the resurrection body of Jesus. The robe of Christ's righteousness, imputed to cover our fleshly imperfections, we will need no more, because we will no longer have the fleshly imperfections.
The new robe is said to be embroidered. And this figure carries with it our endeavors at the present time to develop the character-likeness of Jesus--to perfection, in the spirit. As we read, "It (the New Creature, the soul) is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown in dishonor, raised in glory; it is sown an animal body (needing the imputation of Jesus' merit); it is raised a spirit body" (in full possession of a merit of its own).
Question.--Will any of those found worthy of a place in the Bride company wear Christ's robe of righteousness?
Answer.--We understand that all who make the consecration do so and are accepted, in one hope of their calling, and that that one hope is the hope of being a member of the Bride class and joint-heir with Christ. The fact that there will be a "great company" is a special favor ordained of the Lord in the interest of those who do not prove sufficiently zealous to be counted in with Jesus as "more than conquerors."
The "great company" of `Revelation 7:9` is composed of such as fail to come up to the highest standard of sacrifice required of the Lord, but who, nevertheless, will prove not unfaithful in their final test. These are said to have not kept their garments unspotted from the world; hence the requirement that they shall wash them in the blood of the Lamb--prove their loyalty under discipline and stress, having failed to prove it by voluntary obedience unto sacrifice. Thus both the Bride and her virgins who follow her all wear the Bridegroom's robe (justification) in the present life. And all in the future life will attain perfection on their own account.
This imputed robe will not be needed by the "great company" after they shall have experienced their "change" to the spirit condition; for they, too, will be changed, in a moment and thereafter possess an individual perfection of their own.
Question.--Will not the Church when she shall have passed under the veil have all the merit of Christ in her hand to put on the mercy-seat?
Answer.--No; the Church has nothing whatever to do with atoning for sin, even as the under-priests had nothing whatever to do with the presentations of the Day of Atonement blood on the propitiatory.
A correct view of the matter, we believe, is this: The High Priest, Jesus, ascended on high and made imputation of His merit to the Church. Those who waited in the "upper room" for the Pentecostal blessing had presented themselves before God, desiring to be accepted of Him as sacrifices. They did not sacrifice themselves, they merely presented themselves for sacrifice. Thus we read, "I beseech you, brethren, that you present your bodies living sacrifices." The presentation matter is ours, not the Lord's; the acceptance of the offering as a sacrifice is wholly the Lord's--the High Priest's work. With the acceptance of our flesh as a sacrifice we cease to be as men and thenceforth in the sight of God and of each other we are living members of the Anointed One--the High Priest.
The High Priest accepted the Church as a whole through its presentation at Pentecost. And in harmony with the Scriptures we come into this favor or grace, which remains open until the last member of the Body of Christ shall be perfected and pass beyond the veil. The work beyond the veil will not be ours as under-priests. It will be the work of the High Priest to sprinkle the blood of the Lord's goat as He sprinkled the blood of the bullock. The figure of the "Bride" is to be distinctly eliminated in any thought of sacrifice, and is to be merely associated with the Redeemer and Bridegroom, as joint-heir in His Kingdom. The figure of the under-priests is the one which applies to the Church in respect to all sacrificial matters.