ZWT - 1898 - R2238 thru R2410 / R2270 (065) - March 1, 1898
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VOL. XIX. MARCH 1, 1898. No. 5.
The Coming Anniversary Supper..................... 67
Ye do Shew Forth the Lord's Death............. 69
"Till He Come"................................ 70
Who May Partake?.............................. 71
Only the Baptized............................. 72
How to Partake................................ 73
The Celebration at Allegheny.................. 74
Strong Delusion................................... 74
The Wheat and the Tares........................... 77
Interesting Letters............................... 80
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THE COMING ANNIVERSARY SUPPER.
COMMEMORATIVE OF OUR LORD AND HIS DEATH FOR OUR SINS.
THE Supper which our Lord instituted as a remembrancer of his great sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, is striking in its appropriateness and its simplicity. The world's great men have always sought very different means of perpetuating their memories. In whatever way they would remind their followers of their merits and their greatness, it surely has not been by a reminder and commemoration of their death-- especially if, as in our Lord's case, it was a death of ignominy and shame, a death as a malefactor and criminal. Another, more probably, would have left instructions for medals to be struck commemorating some of his mighty works; such, for instance, as the awakening of Lazarus, or the stilling of the tempest on the sea, or the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while the multitude strewed the way with palm branches, and cried, Hosanna to the King, the heir of David!--
But our Lord chose as his remembrancer that which represented what was, in his and in God's estimation, his mightiest work--his sin-offering on our behalf; and that which his real followers, and they alone, would appreciate more than any other feature of his mission. True, his followers would have appreciated something commemorative of his wonderful words or works, but the worldly also could have appreciated those things. But not so the value of his death as our ransom-sacrifice, the basis of our reconciliation and atonement, which has never yet been fully apprehended by any but the consecrated little flock--the elect. And it was for these that the remembrancer was arranged and instituted. And tho a Judas was present, he was given a sop and went out from the others before the supper was ended; thus no doubt representing that in the close of this age, before the little flock will have finished their part of having fellowship with their Lord in his suffering, the sop of truth will have become so strong as to drive forth from the company and communion of the faithful all who do not rightly appreciate and value the ransom accomplished by the Lamb of God for the taking away of the sins of the world.--`1 John 2:19`.
The date of the Paschal Supper at which the Jews ate a lamb, commemorative of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage and of the sparing of their first-born at that time, was of course calculated by the Jewish method of reckoning time; viz., lunar time. (`Exod. 12:2-14`.) Instead of dividing the months as we do, they allowed the new moon to mark the beginning of a new month; and the difference between the sun time (solar time) and moon time (lunar time) was equalized every year by always beginning the new year with the appearing of the new moon about the Spring equinox. In celebrating their religious festivals the Jews still maintain this method of reckoning. And since our Lord, the apostles and the early church followed this same rule for determining the date for the annual celebration of our Lord's Last Supper, we also follow it.
The first moon after the vernal equinox counts March 23d in Hebrew almanacs--probably Jerusalem obs. At 6 P.M. on that day begins the first day of the Jewish month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish sacred year. Beginning with the 1st of Nisan the Hebrews counted, and on the tenth day the Paschal lamb was chosen or selected from the flock. On the
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fourteenth day (the full of the moon*) "between evenings" (at any time between 6 P.M. of the 13th and 6 P.M. of the 14th of Nisan) the lamb was to be killed and eaten. On the fifteenth day their Passover Feast began, lasting seven days, the first and the seventh days being observed as specially holy, as Sabbath days or "high" days. (`Exod. 12:16`.) On the sixteenth day the omer of the first-fruits of the barley harvest was offered to the Lord, and fifty days after (Pentecost Day) they offered before the Lord two wave loaves.--`Lev. 23:17`.
These things done by the Jews every year were, as we have already seen, types of greater and grander occurrences. The choosing of the lamb on the tenth day typified how, if Israel would be blessed and recognized as first-born in the antitypical Passover, they must accept Jesus then, five days before that Passover Feast, and four days before his crucifixion. And it evidently was on that very date that our Lord offered himself finally to that nation--when, as their King, he rode into the city on the colt. (Compare `John 12:1,12`.) They, however, neglected to receive the Lamb of God, at once were rejected, and ceased from being the typical first-born.
The 14th day (which this year will begin at 6 o'clock on the evening of Tuesday, April 5th, and last until 6 P.M. of the 6th) was the day in which the Paschal lamb was to be killed and eaten; and the Hebrew counting of time (doubtless divinely arranged for this very purpose) permitted the eating of the
*As the Sun is a symbol of Christ's Kingdom, so the Moon symbolized Israel as a nation. (`Rev. 12:1`.) The 12 and sometimes 13 lunations symbolize the tribes of that nation. The moon was at its full at the time of Christ's crucifixion. There it immediately began to wane and waned for as long as it had previously increased. So Christ's death was the turning point between the two equal parts of Israel's history. See M. DAWN, VOL. II., p.218.
As those Jews who were unclean, and hence could not keep the Passover properly in its proper season, were permitted to do so on the 14th of the second month (at the full of the next moon--`Num. 9:8-13`), the lesson taught seems to be that all prevented (by ignorance) from accepting Messiah as their Redeemer, when offered to them, will have an opportunity of doing so when, in the times of restitution of all things, their nation (moon) shall again be full of blessings in the latter harvest.
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"Last Supper" upon the same day that the Lord was crucified. The Passover supper of lamb and herbs and unleavened bread (fulfilling the Law, which was not ended until the cross) was eaten shortly after 6 P.M. Then followed the institution of the Memorial Supper of bread and wine, representative of the body and blood of the antitypical lamb. This thereafter, as often as the occasion returned (yearly), was to be observed by his followers instead of the eating of the literal lamb--as the commemoration of the antitypical lamb and the greater passing over of the antitypical first-born which his blood effects.
The waving of the barley sheaf of first-fruits on the 16th of Nisan ("the morrow after the Sabbath" or Passover of the 15th--`Lev. 23:5,6,11,15,16`) typified the resurrection of Christ our Lord, as "the first fruits of them that slept."*--`1 Cor. 15:20`.
The two wave loaves offered on the fiftieth day, Pentecost, represented the presenting of the Church before God and its acceptance through the merit of the great High Priest, indicated by the anointing of the holy spirit at Pentecost. The Church really is but "one loaf" (`1 Cor. 10:17`), the two loaves representing the same thing as the two goats presented on the Day of Atonement. It indicated that, altho all presented were acceptable to God through Christ Jesus, he yet knew that all presented would not come up to the condition of faithfulness to the end. The two loaves represented, therefore, the two classes of the consecrated --the overcoming little flock and the "great company" of the consecrated servants of God who do not make the high calling theirs, by overcoming the world as they might and should do.
The method of calculating the date for Good Friday and Easter Sunday in vogue among Episcopalians and Roman Catholics differs from the foregoing in this: They celebrate as Easter Sunday the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring equinox, and the preceding Friday is recognized as Good Friday. This method of counting was instituted by the Council of Nice, A.D. 325, as instead of the Jewish method which we recognize. But the name "Passover" continued to be used (not Easter+ Sunday)-- for a long time; it was after Papacy had become established in political influence, and the ignorant pagans began to flock to the system which enjoyed the favor
*Here is the strongest possible confirmation of the correctness of the position taken in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.--that our Lord was not three full 24-hour days in the tomb, but only parts of the three days and nights; that he was crucified on the day corresponding to our Friday afternoon, and arose on what corresponded to our Sunday morning. The showing of this type that the Paschal lamb was to be killed sometime during the 14th of Nisan, and the wave offering of the sheaf of first-fruits was to occur on the 16th, should settle the matter for all. It agrees with the repeated statement (`1 Cor. 15:4`; `Luke 24:46`) that our Lord rose on "the third day, according to the Scriptures." This Scripture concerning the first-fruits is the only one which we recall as in any way pointing out the time of our Lord's resurrection. Then, too, the fact that history, as represented in the traditions and customs, points out Good Friday and Easter Sunday as celebrations of our Lord's death and resurrection, should have some weight on so trivial a matter, unless some motive or reason for misstating the dates can be assigned. The only Scripture seeming to oppose all these facts is the declaration that our Lord would be three days and three nights in the earth; and the only explanation that can be offered to this is, that the expression is used in a general and not in a specific manner, the nights being mentioned to preclude the idea of any cessation of death until the third day. Thus understood, the expression would signify that during portions of three days and nights our Lord would be in the tomb. At all events the evidence is overwhelming that he died on the 14th of Nisan and rose on the 16th--the third day after.
+The use of the word Easter in `Acts 12:4` is a mistranslation; it should be rendered Passover.--See Revised Version.
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of the government, that the name "Easter" was substituted for "Passover," because about the same time as the Passover the pagans had been in the habit of celebrating the festival of their goddess Easter (German Ostera)--Estera, goddess of the East. This was one of the many methods adopted by an ambitious "clergy" for gaining numbers and influence.
Sometimes the two methods of counting, Jewish and Roman Catholic, indicate the same days, but not often; and occasionally their results are nearly a moon or month apart.
The Jews will celebrate as a "feast" the Passover week, beginning April 7th (at 6 o'clock P.M. April 6th), the 15th of Nisan. We in the Memorial Supper do not celebrate the feast-week but the day previous, the 14th of Nisan, beginning on the evening of the 13th (April 5th, '98) which is the anniversary of the proper date for killing and eating the Paschal lamb-- the anniversary of the death of our Lord Jesus; the true Lamb of God, because of whose sacrifice we the "Church of the first-born" are passed over from death unto life--already by faith or reckonedly, by and by actually in "the first resurrection." The antitype of the Passover Feast week is found in the rejoicing of heart of all the first born of true Israel--the seven days signifying the perfection or completeness of the joy and the salvation.
We have given the details as to the counting as a general answer to many questions on this subject, and not because of any weighty importance or bondage attaching to the exact anniversary day. We recognize no such bondage upon those made free by Christ. For tho desirous of observing the Memorial Supper properly, upon its proper anniversary, as intended by our Lord when he said, "This do ye [every time you celebrate this yearly memorial] in remembrance [lit., for commemoration] of me," we esteem it more as a privilege than as a duty; and if we should err in the matter of selecting the day, through ignorance or misunderstanding, we believe the Lord would accept our good intentions, and forgive the error and grant his blessing. Indeed, we believe that the Lord owns and accepts the good intentions of many of his children who, because of erroneous teachings and human traditions, select various other times and seasons for celebrating this memorial of his death, instead of its anniversary which he designated. Similarly we would sympathize with the patriotic intentions of the man who should "celebrate" the independence of the United States three, four, or fifty times a year, forgetful of the date, or ignorant of the fact that the Fourth of July is the anniversary of the event, and was appointed as the appropriate date for celebrating it.
This like other truths long buried under the rubbish of the dark ages, God is now making clear to his people. And all who are truly his people are anxious for the truth and the right upon this, as upon all other subjects revealed in God's Word.
YE DO SHEW FORTH THE LORD'S DEATH.
"For I received from the Lord, what I also delivered to you--That the Lord on the night in which he was delivered up took a loaf, and having given thanks, broke it and said, 'This is that body of mine, which is broken on your behalf; this do ye in my remembrance.' In like manner also, the cup, after the supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; this do ye, as often as ye may drink, for my remembrance.' For as often as you may eat this bread or drink this cup you declare the death of the Lord till he come."--`1 Cor. 11:24-26`.
There is no necessity for discussing with honest minds what is and what is not meant by the expression --the Lord's death. Some, in an anxiety to get away from the doctrine of the ransom, or, rather, in their anxiety to get away from the logical deductions associated with the doctrine of the ransom, are claiming, regardless of all Scripture to the contrary, that our Lord Jesus had two deaths, one when he came into the world, and the other at Calvary; and that the death of the "man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," at Calvary, was of small importance as compared with the other. They seem willingly ignorant of the fact that the Scriptures declare, "In that he died, he died unto sin once;" and that that one death, and the only one ever referred to by our Lord or his apostles, was the death at Calvary.
The apostles declare that he spoke of the death which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. This one and only death of our Redeemer is what is symbolized by this Remembrancer,--his body, his flesh broken for us, and of its merits and life all who would have life everlasting must partake. "Let no man deceive you by any means," on this important question.
But as water baptism is not the important baptism, but only the symbol representing the real, so partaking of the emblematic bread and wine is only the symbol of the more important feast--our appropriation of the merit of Christ, which secures to us eternal life through his broken body and shed blood. Thus by faith accepting his finished sacrifice, and by similar faith, as instructed by him, appropriating to ourselves all the merits and perfections and rights which the man Christ Jesus possessed and laid down in death for us, we really feed our hearts upon the bread of everlasting life, the bread which God sent to us from heaven. This is the true bread of which if men will eat they will never die--the flesh which he gave for
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the life of the world, that all the dead and dying race may have life. This is, primarily, what the literal bread symbolizes and signifies to all who partake of it rightly and intelligently. It is a memorial of the ransom of Adam and his family from the bondage of sin and death.
Another thought: the bread was unleavened. Leaven is corruption, an element of decay, hence a type of sin, and the decay and death which sin works in mankind. So, then, this symbol declares that our Lord Jesus was free from sin, a lamb without spot or blemish, "holy, harmless, undefiled." Had he been of
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Adamic stock, had he received his life in the usual way from any earthly father, he, too, would have been leavened with Adamic sin, as are all other men; but his life came unblemished from a higher, heavenly nature, changed to earthly conditions; hence he is called "the bread from heaven." (`John 6:41`.) Let us then appreciate the pure, unleavened, undefiled bread which God has provided, and so let us eat of him--by eating and digesting the truth, and especially his truth--appropriating to ourselves, by faith, his righteousness; and let us recognize him as both the way and the life.
The Apostle, by divine revelation, communicates to us a further meaning in this remembrancer. He shows that not only did the loaf represent our Lord Jesus, individually, but that after we have thus partaken of him (after we have been justified by appropriating his righteousness), we, by consecration, become associated with him as part of the one broken loaf-- food for the world. (`1 Cor. 10:16`.) This suggests the thought of our privilege as justified believers to share now in the sufferings and death of Christ, the condition upon which we may become joint-heirs with him of future glories, and associates in the great work of blessing and giving life to all the families of the earth.
This same thought is expressed by the Apostle repeatedly and under various figures, but none of them more forceful than this, that the Church, as a whole, is the "one loaf" now being broken. It is a striking illustration of our union and fellowship with our Head.
We quote: "Because there is one loaf, we, the many [persons] are one body; for we all partake of the one loaf." "The loaf which we break, is it not the participation of the body of the anointed one?"-- `1 Cor. 10:16,17`.--Diaglott.
The "fruit of the vine" represents the sacrificed life given by our Lord. "This is my blood [symbol of life given up in death] of the new covenant, shed for many, FOR THE REMISSION of sins." "Drink ye all of it."--`Matt. 26:27,28`.
It was by the giving up of his life as a ransom for the life of the Adamic race, which sin had forfeited, that a right to LIFE may come to men through faith and obedience under the New Covenant. (`Rom. 5:18,19`.) The shed blood was the "ransom [price] for ALL," which was paid for all by our Redeemer himself; but his act of handing the cup to the disciples, and asking them to drink of it, was an invitation to them to become partakers of his sufferings, or, as Paul expresses it, to "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." (`Col. 1:24`.) It was the offer to us that if we, after being justified by faith, voluntarily partake of the sufferings of Christ, by espousing his cause, it will be reckoned to us as tho we had part in his sacrifice. "The cup of blessing, for which we bless God, is it not a participation of the blood [shed blood --death] of the Anointed one?" (`1 Cor. 10:16`-- Diaglott.) Would that we all might realize the value of the "cup," and could bless God for an opportunity of sharing with Christ his "cup" of sufferings and shame: all such may be assured that they will be glorified together with him.--`Rom. 8:17`.
Our Lord also attached this significance to the "cup," indicating that it signified our participation in his dishonor, our share in his sacrifice--the death of our humanity. For instance, when asked by two of his disciples for a promise of future glory in his throne, he answered them: "Ye know not what ye ask; are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" On their hearty avowal he answered, "Ye shall indeed drink of my cup." The juice of the grape not only speaks of the crushing of the grape till blood comes forth, but it also speaks of an after refreshment; and so we who now share the "sufferings of Christ" shall shortly share also his glories, honors and immortality-- when we drink the new wine with him in the Kingdom.
"TILL HE COME."
"Till he come." What is the full significance of this expression?
Since our Lord who instituted the Memorial Supper placed no limit upon its observance, this expression by the Apostle is not to be understood as limiting the length of time in which it will be appropriate to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus, our ransom sacrifice, and our consecration with him to sacrifice. Rather, he is showing that it was not to be considered a limited arrangement, for a few years, but was to be continually observed until the Lord's second coming. Looking down to and speaking of the second coming of our Lord, the Apostle includes in his expression the gathering and exaltation with Christ of his Church or Kingdom to rule and bless the world. This is even yet a common and proper way of speaking of matters so closely identified and so dependent one upon the other. The Christ, Head and body, is coming to rule
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the world in power and great glory. The presence of the Lord or Head is necessary first; then commences the change of the sleeping members of his body, the sifting of the living members, and their gradual gathering together unto him.
Even tho the Kingdom may be considered as begun from the time the King began the exercise of his great power (`Rev. 11:17`) in 1878, it will not be "set up," in the full sense of the word, until the last member of the Kingdom has been changed or glorified-- until the breaking of the "loaf," the Church, Head and body, is completed. While one member suffers the body suffers; while one member is unglorified the Kingdom is not fully come into power and dominion.
It is the coming of Christ as including the full exaltation of his Church or Kingdom that the Apostle evidently meant when he said, "As often as you may eat this [Passover] bread and drink this cup, you declare the death of the Lord [as your hope and confidence] till he come. The same thought of the Kingdom glory being the end of the symbol may be gathered from our Lord's own words on the occasion of the institution of the memorial--"I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's Kingdom."-- `Matt. 26:29`.
And surely if it were ever proper and expedient for those who believe that our Lord's death was the ransom-price for sinners to confess it--to show it forth as the basis of all their hopes--it is now, when this foundation doctrine of God's Word is being traduced and misrepresented.
Let all who hold fast the confidence of faith in his precious blood [his sacrificed life] as the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, be more zealous and fervent than ever before in confessing this great truth; "for even Christ our Passover [sacrifice] is slain; therefore, let us keep the feast." None of the nominal first-born shall be passed over, and become members of the Church of the first-born in glory, except those who, during this night, abide under the blood, and partake of the merits of the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,--just as in the type.-- `Exod. 12:7,8,13`.
WHO MAY PARTAKE?
The Lord's Supper is not for the world, nor for merely nominal believers, but only for those who, (1) accepting of Christ as their Redeemer and sin-bearer, are (2) consecrated to him and his service. But it is not for us--nor for any man or set of men-- to decide who may and who may not partake. It is our duty to point out from the Word of the Lord what are the proper qualifications for participation in the "cup" and in the "loaf," and then to say as did the Apostle, Let every man examine himself, and then, if he think proper, let him partake.--`1 Cor. 11:28`.
Now that God's people are emerging from the errors of the dark ages, when this Memorial can be more clearly understood, the judging or examining of one's self can be more thorough than ever before. Let each ask himself;--
(1) Do I believe the Scripture teaching that I, as a member of the human family, was under that condemnation to death which passed upon all because of original sin?
(2) Do I believe that my only hope of escape from that condemnation of sin and death was through the ransom-sacrifice of the man Christ Jesus, my Lord?
(3) Do I believe he gave himself--his flesh and blood, his humanity--as my ransom-price, pouring out his soul unto death, making his soul a sin-offering (`Isa. 53:10,12`) on this behalf?
(4) Do I see that the consecration to death, made at Jordan when he was baptized, was fulfilled by his sacrifice of himself for mankind, which beginning there, was finished on the cross when he died?
(5) Do I see that the rights under the Law, which he secured by obedience to it (the right of lasting life and the dominion of earth), were what he through that same sacrifice bequeathed to the fallen, dying race--to as many as shall accept the blessings under the conditions of the New Covenant?
(6) Do I see that his flesh and blood, thus sacrificed, stood for, represented, those blessings and favors which they purchased for us?
(7) Do I see that the partaking of the bread and wine symbols of his flesh and blood signifies my acceptance of those favors and blessings which the flesh and blood of my Lord bought for me and for all?
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(8) And if I do thus heartily accept of the ransom thus memorialized, do I consecrate my entire being-- my flesh and blood, justified through that ransom --to the Lord, to be broken with him, to suffer with him, to be dead with him?
If we can answer these questions affirmatively we clearly or fully discern the Lord's body, give credit to his meritorious sacrifice and may eat--should eat-- "Eat ye all of it."
Those, however, that deny that a ransom for sin and sinners was required and given, who feel that they need not to partake of Christ's merit, who deny that the merit of one can be imputed to another, who have cast off the wedding garment of Christ's righteousness, who feel "happier" and "freer" in the filthy rags of their own righteousness, and who now consider the precious blood wherewith they were once sanctified a
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not-holy or an ordinary thing--such we advise to stay away from memorializing that in which they no longer believe; for they would merely be adding hypocrisy to unbelief. For such to partake, is to add condemnation to themselves and their no-ransom theories.
But, better still, let us advise all who have merely been entrapped into this error, by the sophistries promulgated through various channels by the great Adversary, to reject all vain human philosophies and to receive again the simple Word of God, the truths therein set forth;--that all are fallen, and that the only way open for our reconciliation and restitution consistent with the divine law and sentence was the giving of the full and exact corresponding price or ransom for our sins;--that in no other way could he be just and yet justify sinners. Let them recognize the fact that our Lord Jesus, as the Lamb of God, bore the full penalty for our sins in his own body on the tree--that he gave full ransom for all.
The philosophy is very plain, but if such cannot grasp it, at least let such grasp the fact that God declares it to be so, and let them return unto the Lord and he will abundantly pardon. Let them ask for the guidance of the spirit and the anointing of the eyes, that they may be able to comprehend, with all saints, this, the foundation of all the grace of our God in Christ. Thus in true acceptance of the broken body and the shed blood--realizing that the sacrifice was for their sins and that the blood shed [life given] seals the New Covenant for all--let them commemorate the greatest event of history, the shedding of the precious blood, the sacrifice of the precious life of God's dear Son for our sins. Nevertheless we know from God's Word that these words or any words will not succeed in turning back to the way, the truth and the life those who have wilfully and knowingly gone out from under the blood of sprinkling. There will be no pass-over for them. "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance." (`Heb. 6:4-10` and `10:26-30`.) We well know that even these words of loving admonition and these faithful references to the words of inspiration will be attributed to hatred, malice, envy and every wicked feeling on our part, instead of to the real motive-- a desire to serve the Lord and the truth, and any brethren or sisters unwittingly stumbling.
Many in the past have partaken of the emblems of the Lord's body and blood without fully appreciating the philosophy of the ransom, who nevertheless did so with reverent appreciation of the fact that the death of our Redeemer had purged us from our guilt and relieved us from its penalty. Such discerned the real significance of the Memorial, though, because of gross errors associated with the truth, they did not discern its simple philosophy as many of us may now do.
ONLY THE BAPTIZED.
But some Baptist brother will perhaps remark-- You have forgotten to mention baptism as a necessary qualification to partaking of the Memorial Supper.
No, we have not forgotten baptism. We agree with you that the baptism is necessary--that the Memorial Supper is only for the Church; and that baptism is necessary before one can belong to the Church. But we differ with you as to what the Church is. We hold that the Baptist church is not the Church. Like all other churches organized and governed by fallen men, the Baptist church contains "tares" as well as "wheat;" but the Church contains wheat only. Surely no one will claim for any sect of Christendom that his sect contains all the "wheat" and no "tares." But the Church, "whose names are written in heaven," includes all the "wheat" and has not a "tare" on its roll. This is the one Church which our Lord established, and of which all the elect must become members-- the Church Passed-over--"The Church of the First-born ones, whose names are written in heaven." --`Heb. 12:23`.
Nor can we admit your claim with reference to baptism. The Scriptural view is still more exclusive than yours. You have in the membership of the Baptist church some who would be far from acceptable as members of the "Church of the First-borns." They passed your test of water-baptism, but they have not passed the test of the greater baptism which is required of all members of the Church whose names are written in heaven. The real baptism is a baptism into Christ's body--the Church--by a baptism or immersion into Christ's death, and a resurrection therefrom in his likeness. Water immersion is a beautiful symbol of the real immersion of the human will into the will of Christ, a beautiful illustration of a full sacrifice even unto death; but it is only an illustration or symbol-- just as the bread and wine of the Supper are not the real life-giving elements of our Lord's sacrifice of which we are to eat, but merely their symbols.
We agree, therefore, that none but the Church, the immersed, should partake of the Supper; but we recognize as really immersed all whose wills are dead and buried in the will of Christ, and who, as new creatures in him, are risen to walk in newness of life, while waiting for the consummation of their course in literal death and their awakening as actual new beings in the first resurrection. All such, whoever and wherever they may be, are the real members of Christ's body, the Church, whether they have performed the enjoined water symbol or not. Of course, when such consecrated ones, dead to their own wills and alive only to the will of Christ, come to see that our Lord's commands
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include the symbol of water immersion or burial, as well as the burial of their wills, they will be glad to follow and to obey their Head and Lord in all things --especially when as infants they were not "believers" and that a drop of water could not in any degree symbolize burial and resurrection. Such as see the value and beauty of this injunction of God's Word should, if possible, be buried in water also (as our Lord and his apostles showed us) before partaking of the Memorial Supper. See TOWER for June 15th, 93,--article headed "Baptism and its Import."
Of course, we cannot hope that only true "wheat" will present themselves at the Lord's table; we expect that some "tares" will come also, as Judas was present at the first gathering. But since we cannot judge the heart nor separate the "wheat" from the "tares," we fulfil the whole duty when we "declare the whole counsel of God" as revealed in his Word on this subject, and should leave the decision as to whether or not he partake to each individual who professes faith in the atoning blood and consecration to the Redeemer.
HOW TO PARTAKE.
If there are in your neighborhood others of God's consecrated people besides yourself, you should know it. Your faithful love for them and for the truth should have led you to seek them out to bless them with the truth shortly after you yourself received it. If there are such with whom you can have communion and fellowship invite them to join you in the Memorial; but not if you know them to be deniers of the ransom, lest you assist in bringing additional condemnation upon them.
Meet with few or many, as circumstances will permit, but better far with a few who can enter with you into the spirit of the Memorial, than with a throng devoid of that spirit of fellowship and union in Christ.
Provide for the occasion, if possible, unleavened bread (or crackers), such as the Lord used, and such as Hebrews now use; because the pure, sweet, unleavened bread best symbolizes the sinless flesh of the Lamb of God, who knew no sin [of which leaven is a symbol], who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from the race of sinners. Provide some drink from "the fruit of the vine," as the Lord directed. Undoubtedly he and the disciples used light wines, and we regard wine as unquestionably the more appropriate symbol; but since our Lord did not stipulate wine, but merely the "fruit of the vine," we can conceive of no objection that can be urged against the strained juice of boiled raisins, which are dried grapes. And surely this would be "the fruit of the vine" as really as wine is. We do not urge this raisin-liquor upon any who feel a conscientious desire to use wine; we merely remind all that our circumstances, climate, habits, etc., differ greatly from those of the early Church, and we very much doubt if our Lord would have us symbolize his blood with many of the intoxicating wines of our day--especially in view of the fact that some of the saints may have an inherited weakness of the flesh, which one taste might reenkindle into a great temptation. "Let each judge not to cast a stumbling-block before his brother." If wine is conscientiously preferred, choose a light wine, or mix a little wine with the raisin-juice.
The memorial service should be very simple--it is chiefly a season of communion. Have a table in the midst of the assembly for the bread and wine. After
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the singing of a hymn one of the brethren should, in a few chosen words, express the object of the service and read a few verses from the Scriptures on the subject; another might then give thanks for the bread of life, the broken body of our Lord; after which the unleavened bread (or soda biscuit if more convenient) should be passed to all the communicants. An opportunity for remarks on the bread of life might here be given. Then a prayer of thanks for the cup, and for the precious blood symbolized in it, should be offered, and the cup of "fruit of the vine" passed. Here an opportunity might be given for remarks on the precious blood. But avoid discussions at this meeting. However appropriate to contend earnestly for the faith on other occasions, this is not such an occasion. This is a meeting for fellowship and communion with the Lord, our Redeemer and present King. If any seem contentious, let him have his say, and let the others refrain from discussion, that the holy moments of special communion with himself, which the Master appointed for our blessing, be not marred.
Those who celebrate the Memorial with guileless, earnest hearts receive a great and refreshing blessing, and for this it is well to have seasons of quiet in the midst of the service, when no one will be speaking audibly and when the hearts of all can come very close to the Master in communion--in realization of his love, past and present, in renewing the pledge made to be his faithful followers even unto death, in considering how that pledge has been kept or violated during the year preceding, and in resolving afresh to run with patience the race for the prize of joint-heirship with our Lord, to which we are invited.
A beautifully appropriate hymn for closing the Memorial is No. 276 in our hymn-book. And it will surely add to our joy to realize that some of like precious faith in all parts of the world are celebrating the same great sacrifice, thinking of the same gracious Lord, being comforted and encouraged by the same exceeding great and precious promises, resolving by
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the grace of the same gracious King to do greater service and to make greater sacrifices in his service and in the service of his people thenceforth, and closing with the same song of praise and worship.
"Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Thus before the cross we'll spend;
Life and health and peace possessing
From the sinner's risen Friend."
Of the first Supper it is written: "They sang a hymn and went out." Let us do the same. Let each go to his home with his heart full. We suggest the omission on this occasion of the usual, general and proper after-meeting greetings, and all commonplace remarks and thoughts, thus we may prolong our communion and fellowship with the Master. Keep within sight of him throughout the next day. Hear the clamor of the people against the guileless one; see them incited by the clergy of Jerusalem; see him before Herod and his soldiers; see him arrayed in robes of mock-royalty and crowned with thorns, then buffeted and spat upon.
See him crucified as a criminal, and taunted with the very gracious deeds which he had performed--"He saved others, himself he cannot save." Remember that he could have saved himself; that he could have asked for, and would have received, "more than twelve legions of angels" to deliver and protect him; that he could have destroyed his enemies and villifiers, instead of dying for them; and that our hope of a resurrection and everlasting life depended upon his willing offering of himself as our ransom-price. Considering his love for us and for all it will surely strengthen us as his followers to endure more and more hardness as good soldiers of the cross. Aye, let us consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we become weary and faint in our minds under the light afflictions now permitted for our trial and discipline, which, if faithfully endured, will work out for each a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
THE CELEBRATION AT ALLEGHENY.
As usual the Church at this place will celebrate Christ our Passover slain for us. The service will be in Bible House Chapel, No. 56 Arch street, at 7.30 P.M., on Tuesday, April 5th. We no longer hold general Bible Study Conventions in connection with this Memorial; for it is at a usually inclement season. And, furthermore, we found that as only the few could attend from other places, their coming detracted from the interest in the home celebrations. Our advice, therefore, is that each little gathering seek to make these occasions of special interest at home. Nevertheless we shall be most glad to welcome all who may find it convenient to attend the Allegheny meeting.
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"For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned [as unfit for the honors of the high calling] who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." --`2 Thess. 2:11,12`.
A DELUSION is an error which, when viewed from certain standpoints of observation, has the appearance of truth. A delusion is more or less dangerous according to the importance of the truth which it misrepresents, beclouds or falsifies; and, if followed, it leads accordingly to more or less disastrous consequences. If a merchant be deluded and misled by an apparent boom in his line of industry, the result to him may be financial disaster. If a man or woman be deluded by false ideas of life or by false appearances of character when choosing a partner for life, the result may be long years of domestic misery. And, likewise, eternal interests may be, and are, continually affected by the delusions of error on religious subjects.
When a man is deluded, he verily thinks he is right. He claims to be honest in his convictions, and he is so. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof [where the subject of delusion is of vital interest] are the ways of death." (`Prov. 16:25`.) The world to-day is full of delusions, and of deluded people who verily think they are right, and who expect in due time to realize their delusive hopes. There are political delusions, financial delusions and religious delusions of every shade and hue; and thousands and millions of people are following them, and devoting all their time and energy to them, only to realize in the end a whirlwind of confusion, disaster and the utter wreck of all their hopes.
The questions then arise, Who can escape these delusions so common among men? The fact is that no member of the fallen race is, of himself, proof against them. We are all, in consequence of the fall, both physically and mentally impaired; our experience is brief and varied, and our knowledge is necessarily very limited.
Tho we see that financial delusions are continually misleading men and blighting their hopes of temporal advantage; and tho we see that political delusions are forming various factions among men and leading them to strive for the realization of numerous delusive hopes, which, in the end, will bring only anarchy and a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation;
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yet those which chiefly concern the children of God are the religious delusions, or those capable of affecting their eternal interests. The saints have little to fear from financial delusions or disasters, since they are generally the poor of this world who have little to lose, but whose bread and water are sure (`Isa. 33:16`), and whose treasures are not laid up here, but in heaven. Nor are they specially concerned with the political delusions which we are told shall ere long lead to the great political disaster, which is even now imminent. These are important to the world, whose only concern is their temporal interests. But the questions with us are, How shall we escape the religious delusions so prevalent everywhere? and what proof have we that we are not now under such hallucinations?
These are important questions which no child of God can afford lightly to set aside. But note the words of the Apostle above quoted, which seem to imply that God is desirous that some should be snared, and to the very intent that they might be condemned--"God will send [permit to come upon] them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be condemned."
Who are these whom God thus desires to be snared and condemned? Paul answers, They are those who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. They are not those who never heard the truth, but those who, having once heard and understood it, turned from it, rejected it and had pleasure in unrighteousness--not necessarily in gross unrighteousness, such as crime, but in some measure of unrighteousness; often a desire for a little more liberty of self-will instead of close conformity to the divine will, and consequently a preference for the error which would grant such liberty and silence the promptings of conscience and the voice of truth. Such prefer the error
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to the truth. Those who receive not the truth in the love of it are not worthy of it, and they, therefore, must go away from it into the outer darkness that envelops the world. To these error comes in its most deceitful forms, and they quickly fall a prey to the delusion.
With the Psalmist, therefore, we may well inquire, "Who," then "shall be able to stand?"--"Who shall ascend into the hill [kingdom] of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?" Now mark the answer: "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation." (`Psa. 24:3-5`.) Here is the class among whom the delusions of error can make no headway. These have a standpoint of observation from which every error appears in its true colors, and every truth in its proper light.
Mark the peculiar features of this class: They have "clean hands:" Their work for the Lord may be very imperfect; they may tell the story of his love and grace in a very halting, awkward manner; they may minister to the temporal or spiritual necessities of the saints, or others, from a very frugal and plain store of their own; but their work will be clean; their story will be free from self-emulation and human glorying, and their works will be free from both ostentation and parade. What they do will be done with simplicity and meekness, as unto the Lord, and not for the praise of men.
They have "pure hearts:" Under divine inspection, their motives are seen to be pure. Their whole purpose and endeavor is to glorify God and to bless their fellow-men, especially the household of faith. They have not lifted up their soul unto vanity: They have no vain worldly ambitions, either secretly or openly cherished and ministered to behind the outward profession of entire consecration to God--no ambition to be great, or good, or wise in the eyes of men, nor to grasp the fleeting earthly treasures once consecrated to God. Nor have they "sworn deceitfully:" They have not made a covenant with God of entire consecration to his service, with a secret determination to keep back part of the price: nor have they since making the covenant repudiated its obligations.
The whole course of this class is one of sincerity and truth. Their character is that of meekness and faith; they love righteousness and desire to be molded and fashioned after the principles of righteousness; and they correspondingly hate wickedness and every evil way. With a realization of their own short-comings from the standard of perfection, they put no confidence in the flesh, but humbly and implicitly submit their will and judgment to the will and plan of God. So they have no schemes or plans of their own, but are fully devoted to the accomplishment of God's plan, in God's own way and time, having full faith in his sure word of prophecy and promise.
Those who have such a spirit come reverently to the Word of God to learn God's will and way, and with a desire to walk accordingly; and here they receive the divinely-provided armor of God which will protect all who carefully put it on from all the fiery darts of the enemy. Without this complete armor, no child of God is safe in this evil day. "Wherefore," says the Apostle, "take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."--`Eph. 6:13`.
The evil day here referred to is this Day of the Lord, in which we are now living, wherein every man's work shall be tried, so as by fire. These are the "perilous times" of which the Apostle forewarned the
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Church--times peculiarly perilous to Christian faith, because of the many subtle and delusive forms of error now springing up to intercept the progress of the truth. But God's provision for his saints is equal to the emergency of the perilous hour. Never before this "evil day" was it possible for the saints to put on the whole armor of God; and never before was it needed. For some years past the Lord has been handing us this armor, piece by piece, and has been telling us to put it on and wear it that we might become accustomed to it and feel at ease and at home in it, because the time is shortly coming when it will be impossible to stand without it.
Some--a few--have been heeding the counsel. Carefully they have buckled on every part of the armor as fast as they received it, and in consequence, today they stand completely clothed with the truth. Their loins are girt about with it; their feet are shod with it; and it covers their head (their intellectual faculties) as a helmet of salvation (salvation from the snares and delusions of error). Then they have on the breastplate of righteousness--a righteous character, which the truth has developed in them; and in their hands they bear the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, which they are now able to handle with ease and vigor in defense of the doctrines of Christ; while their ample shield of faith is an able defense against all the fiery darts of the enemy, so that the flying arrows do not even jar the armor or for a moment stun the inner man.
Praise God for such an armor! Brother, have you put it on? Do not rest satisfied with the idea that you can get along as well as your fathers did with only a part of it. The time is coming, yea, and now is, when you must have it complete, or you will surely fall. The portions of the armor presented to the saints of the past were sufficient for their day and trial; but a greater trial of faith in this "evil day" necessitates a more complete defense.
Do not say to the Lord, "Well, I have the breastplate and the shield; no, thank you, I think I shall not need the helmet;" or, "I think I can get along without the sword." I tell you, you will need them all; make haste and put them on without delay. Some of you should have had them on long ago, and should be able to help others don them now. Many are already falling, and sadly many are feeling their lack of the helmet. Some with mere curiosity-interest have spent much valuable time in looking at the various parts of the armor as presented to them for the past few years, instead of earnestly buckling them on and proving them: and they have become so used to merely looking at the beautiful pieces of the armor that they expect the process of bringing forward new pieces to continue forever. Let such wake up to the fact that the armor is already complete, and that no more can be added to it, because anything more would be a superfluity. The Lord has graciously shown us its entire outline, as well as the manner in which the various parts of it work together. Look at your hand: it has four fingers and a thumb. You do not say, Well, perhaps another thumb or finger will appear by and by. You know there will be no such thing. That hand is complete and another member added to it would be superfluous.
Just so those who have come to view the full completeness of God's plan, as now unfolded to us, know that nothing more could be added to it. It is gloriously complete and worthy indeed of its great Author. But, while the outlining, the general harmony and the working together of the various parts are all clear to us now, we yet have room for profound thought and study of it, and probably will still have even after we are glorified. Some make a great mistake in continually putting on and taking off various proffered armors. There is but one armor that will be of any use or protection to us, and that is that which is stamped with the scarlet stamp of the precious blood of Christ. Every piece of this divine armor is so stamped, and it all fits together. If you think to change your helmet of salvation for some other helmet, you will very soon want another breastplate to match it. And you will want another sword; for this sword will not match with any other helmet. And this shield of faith will not match with any other armor. Do not allow your head to grow too big for the helmet which the Lord has provided, and then go around hunting a new helmet to fit your swelled head and wrong ideas. If the helmet supplied in God's Word will not fit you, do not fancy the increase is real wisdom, and try to stretch the old one or to get a new helmet; but freely apply the liniment of humility and reduce it till the helmet does fit.
Put on the whole armor of God. And make sure that you accept no spurious brand. Every piece of the genuine is stamped with a cross and the words--To be worn only by the redeemed. Put on piece by piece, quickly; buckle it on securely; and, having done all, STAND. The position thus suggested implies an attack: the attack will surely come, and indeed has already come to many. Are you ready now to do good service as a valiant soldier of the cross of Christ? Stand! do not run away; stand your ground and battle for the truth.
As we have already observed, it is as truly a part of God's purpose to let some fall in this evil day, as it is to enable others to stand. He therefore permits the strong delusion to take possession of all who have pleasure in unrighteousness, and who therefore do not believe the truth. Such are unworthy of the truth,
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and soon or later every such one must fall. All such are condemned as unworthy of membership in Christ, the vine; and as the time for the exaltation of the Church draws nearer and nearer, the testing may be expected to increase until all the unworthy ones are weeded out. "He will gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend [those who put off the wedding garment of Christ's imputed righteousness, etc.], and them which
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do iniquity [those who practice sin, who are not fully in sympathy with the principles and ways of righteousness as laid down in the Lord's Word]." And "then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."
If, then, we would escape the delusions of this evil day, let us see to it that we are in deed and in truth lovers of righteousness; let us receive the truth in meekness, hold it with humility and thankfulness, and serve it with energy and zeal.
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THE WHEAT AND THE TARES.
MAR. 13.--`MATT. 13:24-30,36-43`.
"He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man."--`Matt. 13:37`.
COMMENTATORS in general notice that the cluster of our Lord's parables, one of which is dealt with here, all relate to "the Kingdom of Heaven." Yet strangely enough they almost all ignore this Kingdom feature in interpreting these parables. Of this one, for instance, it is customary to say that God began sowing the good seed, the "wheat," in the Garden of Eden; and that there also shortly after Satan sowed the "tares." Their difficulty seems to be a failure to apply rules of order and logic--they fail to rightly divide the Word of truth. Certain false principles of theory and interpretation are at the bottom of their difficulty. It is essential that we empty ourselves of the many false doctrines "received through the traditions of the elders" and from the dark ages, if we would hear (understand) the Word of the Lord--if we would be taught of him.
The gospel of the Kingdom was not preached in Eden. It was implied but not clearly stated in the promise made to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." This Kingdom was hoped for and expected by Israel, because they were the natural seed of Abraham. The Kingdom which began in Israel with the reign of Saul, succeeded by David and Solomon, and reached its climax in the latter and thenceforth deteriorated, never was the Kingdom of God in the full sense of the promise to Abraham. At the very most it was a typical Kingdom of God, in the hands of a typical people of God--Israel after the flesh. The Israelites themselves recognized this fact and waited for Messiah the great King, to come and establish his Kingdom and to rule the world. Consequently there could be no proper application of these Kingdom of Heaven parables, in any manner or degree, previous to that event.
On the contrary, when our Lord began his ministry, the message sent forth was, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand"--"is come nigh unto you." The commission to the disciples was to proclaim Jesus the King and to announce that he was ready to establish his Kingdom. Yet his ministry with that nation closed a few days before his crucifixion, when he, weeping, uttered the solemn denouncement, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (`Luke 13:34`.) The literal seed of Abraham having thus failed to accept the Kingdom (as God foreknew and foretold through the prophets), the next step was to find another nation more worthy than the Jews.
But no other nation could be found suitable to God's purpose, and hence a new nation was to be formed: and this has been the work of the Gospel age, to call out "a holy nation, a peculiar people" from every nation, kindred, people and tongue, to constitute this Kingdom of Heaven. The "Israelites indeed," but a small remnant of the Jewish nation, were attracted by the truth and were the first accepted members of the "holy nation," at Pentecost. They in turn as ambassadors for God, were sent with the King's good tidings of the coming blessed Kingdom to us Gentiles, --to gather from all nations, kindreds, peoples and tongues a sufficient number to complete the "holy nation," "worthy" to be the Kingdom of Heaven and as such to bless the world.--`Rev. 5:9,10`.
It is this "holy nation" in its preparatory and embryotic condition that is referred to in the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven. These parables of the Kingdom, therefore, gave prophetically the Church's experiences from various standpoints,--from the time the work of selecting began, to the time when that work will be completed: when the full number of the elect "little flock" will have been called, found faithful under the tests and disciplines and polishings of the great Master. Then as a whole it shall be glorified, and shine forth a glorious Kingdom, full of the excellency and power of God and in every way fully qualified to fulfil the original promise to Abraham, by blessing all the families of the earth with the true light, and drawing them all (through a knowledge of the truth) to the great Life-giver, that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely.
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Our Lord tells us why he uttered his teachings in parables;--that it was because the truths he taught were intended only for the Kingdom class, not for the average hearer; and his words are very plain to this effect: "To you [my believing and obedient disciples] it is given [granted] to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God; but to all those who are without [outside --strangers to God and unconsecrated] all these things are spoken in parables: that seeing they might see and not understand, and hearing they might hear and not believe." In this instance our Lord, we are told, first dismissed the general multitude and then expounded the parable to his disciples privately. And this was his general custom--"Without a parable spake he not unto the [general] people."--See `verses 10-16`.
Our Lord himself "soweth" this good seed of the Kingdom, which germinating constitutes his Church, spiritual Israel. This is shown in his exposition (`vs. 37`), "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man." The good seed itself, we are told, was the message respecting the Kingdom--"the word of the Kingdom." (`Vs. 19`.) This word, or message of the Kingdom was planted by our Lord and his servants the apostles, as it is written, "Which at the first began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders."--`Heb. 2:3,4`.
So long as our Lord lived, the Adversary, Satan, found no opportunity for sowing the seeds of error amongst the seeds of truth: our Lord declares, "While I was with them in the world I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept." (`John 17:12`.) And so long as the apostles lived the Church was similarly protected from the errors which the Adversary fain would sow: the apostles for this very purpose, we understand, were specially holden and guided of the Lord, so that whatever they bound on earth might be understood as having the full confirmation in heaven, and whatever things they loosed or abrogated or set aside on earth, might be understood as having the full heavenly sanction. And the Church did recognize this divine supervision and accepted the apostolic rulings as inspired and authoritative.--See `Acts 15:24-29,31`.
"But while men slept"--after the apostles had fallen asleep in death, Satan, the great enemy, found little difficulty in sowing the seeds of error,--false doctrine. And as the true doctrine produced true children of the Kingdom only, so the false doctrines introduced produced false children of the Kingdom only. The wheat seed could not produce tares; the tare seed could not produce wheat.
The difference between wheat and tares is very great. Wheat is the standard food of the world and is said to contain the elements of nutrition in the best proportions for man's use: how apt a symbol the Lord chose when he would represent the truth, the whole truth, and the children of the truth--the children of the Kingdom. The tare as a symbol is likewise very appropriate. It resembles the chess or cheat of America and the darnel of Europe. The tare seed is poisonous and acts as an emetic, causing vomiting; and it occasions the husbandman great annoyance, because it must be thoroughly separated from the wheat before the latter can be used. The statement here in the Greek implies that the tares were over-sown--intentionally, maliciously sown in the midst of the wheat, for the very purpose of damaging or totally spoiling the entire crop. Such malice would probably be understood very well by our Lord's hearers, even if they did not comprehend the import of the parable. Professor Shaff mentions a similar act of malice in Ireland, where an out-going tenant, in spite, on account of his ejection, sowed wild oats in the fields which ripened and seeded before the crops and caused great difficulty to the farmer. Wheat and tares, while growing, look
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exactly alike until they head out: then the difference is very apparent. The wheat heads, full of heavy wheat, bend over with the weight, while the tares are very erect and have the appearance, where they are thick, of being the superiors, the masters of the field. What a beautiful illustration of the modesty and meekness of the true and fruitful Christian, and of the proud boastfulness of those who are Christians in association and outward appearance only.
As in the parable the servants inquired of the Master whether or not the seed sown had been good (pure, free from weed and tare seed), so to-day and all down through the Gospel age, the Lord's people have sometimes wondered how it comes that the Church is, and always has been from the first, infested with a class of people who have a form of godliness, but not its power and spirit. They have wondered whether or not the truths sown by the great Teacher could possibly produce such a varied crop as is seen in the church which nominally is his Church. The Lord answers our question, assuring us that the seed truths which he planted were pure, good, and that the tare seeds were planted by his enemy, Satan. And looking over the field, the world of mankind (the kosmos, not the ge, the earth, nor the aion, the age, tho both of these are often elsewhere improperly translated "world"), we can readily see its wheat-field,--the field wherein the truths and the errors respecting the Lord's coming Kingdom have been planted,--where these plantings have brought forth correspondingly, a true and a false Kingdom class.
The kosmos, the world of mankind as a general field, was all more or less adapted to use as a wheat field; but it was not all planted with the good seed: the good seed was planted in Palestine, Asia-Minor and Europe, and from thence has spread to America and to some slight extent elsewhere. But, strictly speaking, Europe and North America are the wheatfield in which grows side by side, intermingling, and often with their roots tangled, the wheat, the children of the Kingdom, begotten of the truth, and the tares, children of the evil one, begotten of error; and the name of this wheat field in common parlance is "Christendom," --i.e., Christ's Kingdom; for the "tares" claim to be the true Kingdom class and that the "wheat" are fanatics.
The fact that the wheat-field was not free from tares was not discovered by some of the faithful servants (and indeed was difficult to discern) until the fruit began to appear;--then the question was, How should the matter be dealt with? Any attempt to root out the tares--to separate between the children of God, the children of the truth, and the children of Satan, the children of error--any attempt at positive judgment
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along these lines was positively forbidden; the instruction being, "Let both grow together until the harvest." While therefore God's servants were not to attempt the separation, the true from the false, throughout the Gospel age, they nevertheless were to understand that the mixed condition would not be permanent --that a time of separation would surely come-- in the harvest, in the closing time of the Gospel age.
Apparently the tares have grown more thriftily than the wheat; no doubt indeed the intention of the Adversary was to utterly choke the true wheat, and hence he has sown the tares with extremely liberal hand, so that our Master informs us that out of the entire wheat-field, he looks only for a small harvest of good, fully ripe wheat.--"Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." By reason of the choking influence of the tares, however, there will apparently be much of the true wheat not fully ripe for the harvest--not "overcomers," but merely "babes in Christ."
It would be a great mistake to suppose that the "tares" of Christendom are merely the murderers, thieves, knaves, etc., morally corrupt: on the contrary, the "tares" are not on the low level of the field, but rise up out of the field (the world) as does the wheat, proclaiming that they are Christians by associating themselves in religious institutions, and with much profession holding their heads higher, and making their boasts louder than the true "wheat" class. They are generally moral people: this is implied in their association with the wheat class, they have "a form of godliness." Are we not told by the Lord that such people are "children of the wicked one?" Does not this seem rather harsh, considering that none of them sprang from the good seed of truth, but that they were all begotten of error--with which fact they themselves possibly had little to do?
The general view of this matter is, we think, not only unkind, but unjust and unscriptural. To our understanding the whole world of mankind (excepting the true Christians), born in sin and shapen in iniquity, aliens and strangers from God, may be spoken of as "children of the wicked one," because they came into their condition of alienation from God more or less directly through Satan's instrumentality. And considering that merely nominal Christians were brought into Christian profession not by the truth but by falsehood, by Satan's misrepresentations and perversions of the truth, and that deluded by these errors many of them are what they are in all good conscience--we can think of them sympathetically; for they do not appreciate the hopes and aims and sentiments of the true "wheat" class, but think of these as deluded, fanatical, over-enthusiastic, visionary zealots. The "tares" consider themselves to be the real Church, the real crop, sown by the Master, and look with pity often upon the true "wheat" class, considering them abnormal growths of piety and superstition. The "tare" idea of religion is that it is for the restraint of vice, for the promotion of civilization and for the cultivation of social qualities in humanity. This is the Kingdom by which now and for centuries past the "tare" class has sought to rule the world--with sword and gun and prison, in concert with the preaching of good morals, to be preferred when they do not cost too much. The "tares" are far too respectable a class of people to have been planted by the great Enemy, for any other purpose than to act as a powerful antidote or offset to the influence of the truth and the true children of the Kingdom. Had he been able to keep the world in the darkness of heathen superstition, he never would have planted so respectable and orderly and moral a class as the "tares"--imitations of the "wheat:" but seeing the influence of the truth in the world, Satan sought heroically to counteract it along advanced lines. In this he is true to his Scriptural character--ready to wear garments of light, as represented in the sciences, etc., and to put upon his faithful the same.
With this view of the "tares" we may look upon them with respect and realize that altho they can never hope to enter the Kingdom, and altho they must be destroyed as "tares" in the fiery times of the day of vengeance just at hand, yet this need not suggest their utter destruction in the second death as human beings, nor that they will have no hope of any blessing under the Kingdom, when it shall be established in power and great glory. On the contrary, the "fire" of this day of wrath (into which we are already entered) is as symbolic as the "tares" it will burn. It will destroy the "tares" as "tares"--as pretended children of the Kingdom, of which really they never were a part, but intruders, deceived. It will still leave them as members of Adam's race, bought with the precious blood, amenable to the conditions of the New Covenant, and to all the blessings of the Kingdom, as they shall flow to all the families of the earth, after the true "wheat" class have been separated and caused to "shine forth as the sun [with their Lord Jesus] in the Kingdom of their Father."
To our understanding of the Scriptures,* we are already in the "harvest" time of this age. The great Chief-Reaper, the Lord Jesus, is now, through his messengers or servants, gathering the harvest of the Kingdom truths which he sowed 1800 years ago; and very soon the last of the ripe wheat will be gathered into the "garner" (the glorified state--the heavenly condition --"changed") and then, very quickly, the sons of God will be manifested and their great work of blessing the world will begin. (See `Rom. 8:21,22`.) This Sun of Righteousness, composed of Christ our Lord and all the faithful overcomers of this Gospel age glorified, shall "shine forth" as the prophet has declared, with healing in its beams--provisions of mercy and restitution for all mankind.
The furnace of fire in which the tares will be destroyed (as "tares," and fully and freely confess that they and their institutions are not the Kingdom of God, that they have neither part nor lot in that matter, but were mistaken) is the great time of trouble, the day of vengeance; the day of the overthrow of Satan and his representatives; the day of Satan's binding that he shall deceive the nations no more; the day when the rod of divine vengeance shall smite and break the systems of earth as potter's vessels, preparing the world of mankind thereby, for the blessings and favors which divine grace has provided in Christ Jesus our Lord, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.
*MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOLS. II. and III.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Brother Arnold met with us, according to arrangements, to our joy. We found in him, we think, a loving Brother, possessed of the spirit of meekness. Notwithstanding the extreme cold weather, the meetings were well attended, and good interest was manifest all through. Those who bitterly opposed the truth could not stay away, even some who never ventured to show themselves in the house before, and I am satisfied the Lord will bless the brother's efforts. Many express their sorrow that the meetings closed so soon.
I am very happy to inform you that never did a better feeling prevail among the brethren here, than at present; and some who a few months ago could not find words severe enough in the way of epithets against those who are of like faith in the truth can now be heard defending it. How true the word that God will make the wrath of man to praise him.
Yours in the Lord, F. Z. GROFF.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Enclosed you will find Express Money Order for $1.00, the price of TOWER.
I received in due time the fourth volume of the DAWN series, and read it eagerly, without stopping, only to eat and sleep a little. After carefully reading and rereading it I feel that it is just the message the world is needing and waiting for, and therefore is of the Lord's leading and under his direction. I congratulate you my dear Brother upon the successful accomplishment of so great a task.
I have suffered much of late, and, in addition, the increasing infirmities of accumulating years render me less and less inclined to exertion of any kind, physical or mental. Under such conditions we naturally seek the easy chair and the chimney corner, and live more in the memories of the past than in the activities of the present, and put off until to-morrow things that should be done to-day; but even the old are not justified in indulging in sentimental reveries or natural inclinations amid the astounding developments of these last days. The hope that the Master has some work for me in the stirring scenes of the near future bears me up amid the depressing environment.
Yours in Christian love, S. G. KERR, Sr., M.D.
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"THE DAY OF VENGEANCE."
"This is the fourth volume of a series of books dealing largely with eschatology, the views enunciated in which caused no little controversy in this county a year or two ago. Indeed, a specific doctrine in VOL. I. formed the subject of a set theological debate between the Rev. Mr. Davidson, lately of Canisbay, and Mr. C. N. Houston, Wick, an able and eloquent expounder of the views. Basing his position chiefly on the assertion of Scripture that the Atonement was "a ransom for all," Mr. Russell shows how God's purposes in the ages towards mankind have been revealed, notably in the typical kingdom of Israel and his dealings with them, as so minutely recorded in Holy Writ. The main contention is that these purposes involve the election or selection during the Gospel age of a Church-- the body of Christ--which, when completed, will reign with Christ as a spiritual kingdom, through whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed during the Millennial age, which is due shortly to be ushered in.
"In the present volume [IV.] the author steadily and logically pursues his theme, proving from the Scriptures that the 'Day of Vengeance'--the dark day prior to Millennial dawn--is upon us, and that this is the meaning of the unrest which is so prevalent on every hand and in relation to every subject. Not content with giving his own views (or rather the Scripture testimony which he applies), the author has fortressed these immensely by quotations from scores of prominent men--Doctors of Divinity, Statesmen, Jurists, Financiers, Historians and Editors--many of whom, we presume, realized but imperfectly the import of their own words as they are here quoted to prove that the history of our day is the fulfilment of prophecies eighteen to thirty centuries old.
"The volume certainly will be valued for its extensive collection of facts and figures, relating to almost every phase of social, political, financial and religious matters as they bear upon the present situation. Nor are these dryly stated; on the contrary, they are introduced in such a manner as to fascinate every reader who is at all interested in the consideration of the wonderful events of 'our day.' We must compliment the book for its fidelity to the Scriptures and to principles of righteousness, and for the even-handed justice with which it deals with some vexing problems. It is a book that will probably make some warm enemies, but it is sure to make a host of warm friends. Its enemies as well as its friends will read it with more than ordinary zest, and will want it always by them as a work of reference. Its influence will surely be far-reaching, for its counsels are wholly on the lines of law and order and peace, even though it points out from prophecy that very shortly peace will be removed from the earth. A lengthy chapter entitled 'Our Lord's Great Prophecy' is devoted to an exposition of `Matt. 24`, and the views given forth cannot fail to interest Bible students. A shorter chapter, the last, entitled 'Jehovah's Footstool made Glorious' will be found most interesting to the same class. `Zech. 14:4` is wholly unique, and will be found deeply absorbing to Christian thinkers and others.
"The author, while holding to the Second Advent of Christ and the then establishment of his Kingdom, very evidently has more exalted idea of those events than is common to 'Pre-millennarians;' he views it, as we have already indicated, as a spiritual Kingdom, though none the less a veritable dominion which shortly will be the channel of divine blessings to men--tho introduced by a 'day of vengeance' and trouble which will figuratively break and wound the hearts of men, preparatory to their healing with the 'Balm of Gilead.' There is so much thought on new lines to be met with in the volume that the value and ability of the work will be readily admitted even by those who may be unable to fall in with its conclusions."--John O'Groat Journal, Wick, Scotland.