ZWT - 1885 - R0707 thru R0816 / R0720 (001) - February, 1885
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VOL. VI. PITTSBURGH, PA., FEBRUARY, 1885. NO. 6.
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
NO. 40 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- `ISAIAH 55:1,2`.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
The cry is peace! peace! but there is and can be no permanent peace until the Prince of peace is Lord of all. Until he has taken his great power assumed control and put down oppression, injustice, and every error and wrong.
Storm clouds are gathering thick over the old world. It looks as though a great European war is one of the possibilities of the near future.
Overproduction has for the moment clogged the wheels of trade the world over, and a halt is called by producers from fear of loss. The result is first felt by the wageworkers, so many of whom live "from hand to mouth." Unrest is now more quickly developed than formally in this class because of a wider range of knowledge. Large gatherings of men have assembled in London and Paris lately demanding that some Public improvements be prosecuted to afford them work and wages.
Such crises tax the ingenuity of statesmen and not infrequently help to foment contentions and war. At present we find all the prominent powers of Europe intent on colonization schemes and the acquirement of increased territory. The object of this is two fold perhaps: to furnish employment and diversion for the thousands of regular paid soldiery and maintain among them the martial spirit without jeopardizing a revolution at home while at the same time these civilized (?) nations hope to take such advantage of poor ignorant barbarous tribes as may henceforth increase the home treasury by heavy taxes wrung from these heathen people for their protection (?)
France the liberal Republic which claims for itself and each citizen freedom, has on hand a war in Africa caused by the rebellion of some people who want their own freedom but whom France wants to govern and squeeze wealth from. She has another war with China growing out of the attempted annexation of Annam.
England's king long ago took possession of Ireland and divided it among his supporters who as Lords have since drawn large revenues from that little island to be squandered in high living in England. The sons of these Lords are now Lords in the British parliament and hold tightly to every ill-gotten acre. General education among the Irish peasantry has begotten bitterness against injustice which is leading to shocking outrages in London--dynamite explosions, etc. Unable to cope with their master and oppressor otherwise, leads some to attempt to justify this course by pointing out when and how Britain with less cause destroyed a thousand times as many innocent lives. Selfishness, greed and injustice are the causes of all this evidently.
Greed, a desire to "protect British interests" and to hold to other conquered countries from whom directly and indirectly large revenues are obtained led the great Christian (?) government of Britain which boasts that on its empire the sun never sets, into a war with the most ancient nationality of the world-- Egypt. Failure to attend to its own business and let Egypt attend to her's has already cost much money and many lives, and the war seems to be but beginning.
Germany, more cunning, though equally selfish and, unscrupulous, rejoices to see her strongest competitors scattering their treasures, armies and ships afar and attempts to take the position of Umpire and calls conferences relative to the affairs of Egypt and the Congo country of Africa, and asks for a share of the spoils. Meanwhile Portugal has sent an army and forcibly taken possession of the congo country without conference.
Russia meanwhile is not idle, she has been building railroads and massing troops in the direction of the Indian Ocean with evident desire to be in a position to injure England's vast interests in India should the latter offer objections to the long nourished Russian scheme of taking possession of Turkey.
Thus one thing leads to another and somewhat so only worse and worse it will be throughout the "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation" until these present governments with their prince (`Jno. 12:31` and `14:30`,) falsely called "Kingdoms of God" shall fall before the true kingdom, and the dominion under the whole heavens shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high God. No wonder then that those who appreciate these matters truly, should and do pray "Thy Kingdom come--Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." No wonder that those in ignorance should groan for a better government than any their present Prince has ever provided. "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now waiting [ignorantly] for the manifestation of the Sons of God" clothed with heavenly power to lay justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet. Then "a king shall reign in righteousness and princes shall execute judgment [justice] in the earth." Then "all the families of the earth shall be blessed," and every man may sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree with none to molest or make him afraid. `Micah 4:1-4`.
While looking forward to the World's emancipation day, let us not forget that though the coming trouble is the preparation for that lasting peace, yet, the saints have no share in any conflict with carnal weapons. Our foes and besetments in this same "evil day" are of another, though not less dangerous character. Combined with and a part of these kingdoms which call themselves Kingdoms of God, are church systems calling themselves churches of God whose doctrines on religious subjects are as much a libel on God's truth as the earthly empires with which they are associated are libels on God's Kingdom. The two go hand in hand. The soldiers and guns and swords to compel submission, taxes, etc., and false doctrines to bind and fetter the poor heathen with fears of hell more awful than even their barbaric minds had ever conceived, and to uphold and defend the action of their kingdoms, as of God's appointment and the enslavement and robbery of the heathen as a mark of God's grace.
For these so called kingdoms of God and their armies, prayers are offered to God in the name of him whose command is peace good will toward man, and who announces himself as the one who shall set at liberty the captives and proclaim love, peace and liberty throughout the earth to all--for whose liberty he died.
Thank God the emancipation proclamation is going forth; shackles theological and political begin to break, and the groaning creation must shortly be delivered into the true liberty of sons of God under the dominion of Immanuel.
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
Blackburn, Eng., Jan. 13, '85.
DEAR BROTHER:--I am happy to be able to give an evidence of the hope that is in me. I had been a teacher for fifteen years in the Sabbath school in connection with the Church of England, but I had taught myself fast; in fact I taught things I neither believed nor understood, but like the majority of weak-minded Christians, I tried hard to persuade myself that the clergy were more likely to know than me. And so my reason overcame my belief, and I should have been an infidel, but I thought this and other planets could not work as they do, without some first cause. I was deeply perplexed, and often prayed If there is a reality may the First Cause of all things reveal it to me. In this state of mind "Food for Thinking Christians" came to me. I need not explain the result.
My friends who have received the teachings of "Food," &c., have had a similar experience. But those who are asleep in Zion have not an ear to hear, and look on us as fallen from the faith (?). But we count it as nothing if we may only gain the favor of Christ.
Spiritism is gaining a good hold on the people of Blackburn (our market town.) They are building a large (shall I say) church, to hold meetings in. They have hired the Science and Art School nearly two years, but it is becoming too small. The nominal system has laid the foundation and they build thereon.
The WATCH TOWER has scarcely been heard of in this part of Lancashire. I have no doubt many would gladly accept its teachings, if they only had them explained, and I can do but little in this matter. Pray for me and my brother in the faith here. Please send me eight copies of WATCH TOWER hereafter regularly, as I can use them to advantage, I think. I hope I shall soon be able to use twelve as the good news spreads.
Yours, etc., __________.
Ambia, Ind., Jan. 28, 1885.
DEAR BROTHER: I sent you fifty cents about the first inst. intending it as a contribution, but I find that my subscription to the TOWER expired about that time, so here is twenty-five cents more, as I want to do something in the good work of disseminating truth. Wish I could make it as many dollars, but "Silver and gold have I none." Such as I have I will give. If I lack in contributions I will try to make it up in service.
I will no longer spend my money for that which is not bread by giving it to the Nominal Church to be used for worldly display and rivalry in the mission work, pretending to desire the spread of the gospel, when in reality they only care to increase the power and influence of their own particular denomination. Hereafter, what I may be able to give will be given for the spreading of the "glad tidings, which shall be of great joy to all people." At present I know of no other way to do this other than to help support the TOWER in its good work of "breaking the loaves" for the disciples, who then receive of the broken, prepared bread and distribute to the fifties
(and the ones and twos) that the multitudes may be fed. I know a few good people who are not satisfied with the husks of orthodox preaching who I think would gladly receive the "true bread" if presented to them. There are a good many Swedes here, among whom I know two or three families that are religious; indeed, exemplary Christians. In order that these may be fed, I would like two or three copies of the TOWER in Swedish, and I would like a few copies in English.
I will just state that since my withdrawal (January 1) the Sabbath School has been reorganized, and my successor to the superintendency is a non-professor, and an admirer of Ingersoll, and the owner of a Skating Rink and Dance Hall, a society man, "popular." "To the work; to the work," is a favorite song, but the kind of work: getting up entertainments and benefits ostensibly to pay the bills, but really to gratify worldly pride! Deplorable indeed!
Although "straightway commended" by the head of the council (the presiding elder) "not to teach" my doctrine, I was chosen by the worthy (?) superintendent to teach the Bible class in the U.B.S.S. I accept, feeling that "the angel has opened the prison doors and bids me, Go, stand and speak in the temple all the words of this life." This I will do, the Lord helping me, until "Jerusalem shall be filled with this doctrine," or until the "council be called together and I am sent for." Pray for me that I may be "counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (`Acts 5`.) Yours in Christ, __________.
Mead, Saunders Co., Neb., Jan. 30th, '85.
DEAR BROTHER:--I am highly interested in the teachings set forth in ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and I am studying the Bible as much as my time allows me to see if these things are so, and I must confess that the truth of God is growing more and more simple, plain, effective, harmonious and estimable with me in the light of the REDEMPTIVE PLAN of God, which seems to be the corner-stone of your teaching. I thank God that he brought light to me on these subjects. I am a Swede, and regret very much that the publication of the Swede's Tower had to be discontinued, but I hope that God will in the near future provide for its continuance. These truths, considered new, have caused a sensation among the Swede congregation at this place, and persecution in the form of ridicule and slander have already fallen on me from the more reverenced among them.
Your brother in Christ. __________.
Thank God for the privilege, my brother, and that you are counted worthy. See `Acts 5:41`.--EDITOR.
London, W. England, Jan. 1885.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:--I have much pleasure in ordering the "TOWER" for another year (1885). I continue to enjoy it much, am very grateful to you, and all those whom the Lord is pleased to use for the blessing of others through ZION'S WATCH TOWER.
I thought the past year was going to be unfruitful with me, and it seemed to be so till August. Then I had the pleasure of finding a man preaching in the Park, who had been a member of a chapel 8 years, and had left it and despaired of finding a church what it ought to be. He was preaching against the hypocrisy of the Church of England, and the oppression of the poor. Two or three views from the WATCH TOWER was what he wanted and he was so delighted after about two hours conversation, you would think he had had a fortune left him. He preached TOWER views the following Sunday, read parts of Food for thinking Christians to them, showed them the plan of the ages, and quite interested the people generally. "The Christian Evidence Society," sent out to oppose him, but they had no good news for the people, and as he had, they were anxious to hear it. He was about emigrating to Australia, so we did not have his company more than three weeks. He told the people how he would spread the "glad tidings" in Australia and borrow a barn or shed to keep the rays of the sun off himself and his hearers. As soon as he is settled there he will write to you and order the WATCH TOWER. Unfortunately I cannot preach so as to attract out of doors, nor assume sufficient authority against noisy opposition. We have interested another in the TOWER, who is now in Liverpool. He has ordered and received it. We have some profitable times, about a dozen of us, but have not yet begun to preach or lecture to the public, although our hall will hold about three hundred.
As I am out of employment for the second time since this time last year, I am sorry I cannot send a donation for the "Tract Fund."
With Christian love ever yours,
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Liberia, Africa, Dec. 23d, 1884.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL:--Dear Sir:-- About twenty-eight years ago I became a Bible reader, and preached for twelve years, but I never understood it so clearly and plainly as I now do, when reading it with "Food for Thinking Christians," etc. I would be under many obligations to you if you would be kind enough to send me half a dozen copies of the following: "Zion's Watch Tower," "Food for Thinking Christians," "The Tabernacle and Its Teachings," or any of your periodicals that may have been recently published.
Very truly yours, __________.
We are glad to hear that the "Food" has gone far off to Africa's sunny land. May the Lord enable you to let the light so shine there as to honor His name by making known His glorious plans.
Latrobe, Pa., Jan'y. 20th, 1885.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Some of my experience recently reminds me of Brother Paul's anxiety and astonishment as indicated by his earnest words to the Galatians, Corinthians and others.
I think I am beginning to realize, at least to some extent, the patience which not only Paul, but all saints, have had and still have need to exercise toward others of the household of faith, who are just beginning to throw off their yokes of bondage.
We also have reason sometimes to feel both anxiety and astonishment at those who, after having received with joy, the truth through Christ, become dull of hearing and turn away, some even perverting the Scriptures, and accepting some other gospel (which is not another) than that taught the Apostles, through a revelation from Jesus Christ and preached by them. Says Paul, "though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you let him be accursed. `Gal. 1`.
Most assuredly those who accept any other set of doctrines than that delivered to the Apostles, are being deceived. Sad indeed when those whom the truth has made free, turn back, becoming again entangled with the yoke of bondage; becoming followers of false teachers by reason of whom the way of truth is evil spoken of. (`2 Pet. 2`.)
But how very easy it is for any of us to become overcharged with the cares of this life; (`Luke 21:34`) and how very easy to become unskilled in using the "two edged Sword" if we do not continually exercise our senses in the daily use of it.
It is useless for us to pray "Give us this day our daily bread," whether for natural or spiritual bread, if we do not use our senses, and make effort to obtain that for which we are hungry. Then we need daily to partake, not alone of the natural, but also of the spiritual bread, that we may be able to walk according to the Spirit; that we may be able to overcome "through him who loved us" and bought us, keeping ourselves in subjection to his will, not stumbling at affliction or persecution on account of the word, nor letting anything separate us from that love of God which is in the anointed Jesus our Lord.
Since writing the above I have received, and have been reading the January number of the TOWER. You therein mentioned what seems to you an unvarying rule, viz.: "that light and opportunity afforded by the truth must be used, or these talents for service will be taken away. We must let our lights so shine as to glorify our Father in heaven, else it will become darkness."
Yes, Brother, this also has been a part of my experience. Truly we all need to heed the warnings given, that we may not be found "asleep" nor "drunken" (intoxicated with the spirit of the world). Therefore, let us watch and be sober.
Your brother in Christ, __________.
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CHRIST OUR PASSOVER.
"For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast." `1 Cor. 5:7,8`.
The Passover feast lasts seven days with the Jews, commencing this year March 31 and ending April 7, and typifies perfect and everlasting purity and joy to all who partake of the Lamb slain. Paul teaches that as Christ our passover [lamb] is slain, so many of us as have by faith partaken of his imputed merit should henceforth continually rejoice before God and feast upon the truth, putting away completely all leaven of sin; malice, hypocrisy, etc.
The death and eating of the Passover lamb was with Israel the cause or basis for the "Passover Feast" which lasts a week. The lamb was slain the day preceding the feast week, and was the type of Jesus' death. Hence the anniversary of the crucifixion this year [Jewish time] will be March 30, between noon and 3 o'clock P.M.; and the evening before, viz., the Sunday evening March 29 (the same day by Jewish time, their day beginning at 6 o'clock in the evening) between 6 o'clock and 10 o'clock, was the time spent in killing, preparing and eating the Passover supper, and after it the supper of bread and wine, representing our Lord's body and blood broken and shed for us, which he here introduced to his disciples as thereafter taking the place of the literal lamb; these emblems being representative of himself the antitype --"The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
When the Lord, after giving the disciples the bread and wine as emblems of his body and blood, and telling them to partake of them, said, "This do in remembrance of me," (`Luke 22:19`,) we understood him to teach that henceforth the Passover anniversary should be commemorated not by eating the typical lamb, but by partaking of these emblems of the anti-typical lamb. Not in remembrance of the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, but in remembrance of our deliverance from the bondage of sin and death. The anti-type should be recognized as begun in every sense.
And when the Apostle says, "As often as ye do this ye do show the Lord's death till he come," we understand him to teach, that as often as this anniversary is observed [at its yearly recurrence] we should thus show the Lord's death as the basis of all our joy, purity and hope. Nor do we understand the words "till he come" to limit us and make its present observance improper, since the evident meaning is-- until the Lord's kingdom shall have come, and he shall have called you to share with him the new wine (the joys, rights and privileges of the divine nature), in that kingdom. See `Mark 14:25`, `Luke 22:16`.
For the sake of our many new readers, we mention that it has for some years been our custom to "do this" "as often" as its anniversary recurs; preserving so far as possible the simplicity of the early church and of the first occasion as instituted by our Lord. The Church in this city will meet at our usual place, the "Upper Room" of No. 101 Federal street, Allegheny City. We shall, as heretofore, welcome all who are the Lord's disciples--all who appreciate the broken body and shed blood, to meet with us, that we may together commemorate our ransom.
We cannot all meet here, but we can all meet with our Lord, and in the communion of heart we shall have fellowship one with another and with our Head and with our Father, while realizing that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Where two or three are met in Jesus name, the Head will be present and a blessing ensue.
As we break the bread which represents our Lord's body, let us not forget that by his appointment we are now members of His body, and as such are to be broken also. As we drink of the emblem of his sacrificed life by which we are justified, let us not forget that we are called to share the cup with him, thus partaking in symbol of his death. By his grace we shall indeed drink of his cup and then share his glory. `Matt. 20:22,23`.
It is to this, the Apostle refers in `1 Cor. 10:16-18`. Those priests who ate of the sacrifice, were the ones which did the sacrificing and whom the sacrifices represented. "The cup of blessing which we bless is it not the communion [sharing] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [sharing] of the body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread [loaf] and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread [loaf]." Let none partake thoughtlessly of the emblems but with attentive, earnest hearts let each endeavor to realize not only his share in the benefits resulting from Jesus sacrifice, but also as a result, his share afterward with Jesus in sacrifice.
Our meeting will be at 8 o'clock at the location mentioned above, Sunday evening March, 29.
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"GOD gives you the best nourishment, although not always the sweetest to the taste."
COMPARE `Rev. 17:5`, with `1 Cor. 6:15,16`, and decide whether you are joined to one of the daughters: Then judge of the Lord's will concerning the matter.
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"No fable old, nor mythic lore,
Nor dream of bards and seers,
No dead fact stranded on the shore
Of the oblivious years:--
"But warm, sweet, tender, even yet,
A present help is He,
And faith has still its Olivet,
And love its Galilee.
"The healing of His seamless dress
Is by our beds of pain;
We touch Him in life's throng and press,
And we are whole again.
"O Lord and Master of us all!
Whate'er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.
"Thou judgest us. Thy purity
Doth all our lusts condemn.
The love that draws us nearer Thee
Is hot with wrath to them.
"We faintly hear, we dimly see,
In different phrase we pray;
But, dim or clear, we own in Thee
The Light, the Truth, the Way.
"Our Friend, our Brother, and our Lord,
What may Thy service be?--
Not name, nor form, nor ritual word,
But simply following Thee."
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While from past study of the Scriptures we have found that not the present age, but the age to come, is the world's judgment or trial day, the questions have doubtless occurred to many: To what extent are men of the world now accountable for their actions? and will their present actions be considered in their future trial? Will those of the world's children who are moral, honest, honorable, and even benevolent and charitable (for there are such) receive no reward in the future? and will those who are immoral, dishonest, selfish, and even criminal, receive no punishment for their evil deeds?
These are important questions, especially to the world, and well would it be for them if they could realize their importance and profit thereby. They are important also to the Church, because of our interest in the world, and because of our desire to understand and teach correctly our Father's plans.
We have learned that the sacrifice of Christ secures for all mankind, however vile, an awakening from death, and the privilege of thereafter coming to perfection and living forever if they will: "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust" (`Acts 24:15`). The object of their being again brought into existence will be to give them a favorable opportunity to secure everlasting life on the conditions which God requires--obedience to his righteous will. We have no intimation whatever in the Scriptures that in the awakening there will be any change in the moral condition of men; but we have much, both in reason and in revelation, to show, that as they went into death, so they shall come out of it. As there is "no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave" (`Eccl. 9:10`), they will have learned nothing. The Millennial Age is the time allotted for the world's awakening, discipline and trial under the reign of Christ.
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While strictly speaking, the world is not now on trial: that is, the present is not the time for their full and complete trial, yet men are not now, nor ever have been, entirely without light and ability, for which they are accountable. In the darkest days of the world's history, and in the deepest degradation of savage life, there has always been at least a measure of the light of conscience pointing more or less directly to righteousness and virtue.
At the advent of Jesus an increased measure of light came to men which increased to that extent their responsibility, as Jesus said: "This is the condemnation, That light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (`John 3:19`). And for those evil deeds which men have committed against what light they had, or which it was their privilege to have, whether of conscience or of revelation, they will have to give an account, and receive a just recompense of reward in their day of judgment. And likewise to the extent of their effort to live righteously, they will receive their reward in the day of trial (`Matt. 10:42`).
The age of Christ's reign will be a time of just judgment, and though it will be an age of golden opportunities, it will be a time of severe discipline, trial and punishment to many. The deeds of the present life will have much to do with the future. Paul taught this very clearly when, before Felix, he reasoned of justice and self-government in view of the judgment to come, so that Felix trembled (`Acts 24:25`. Dia.).
If men would consider what even reason must teach them, that a time of reckoning, of judgment, is coming; that God will not forever permit evil to triumph, but that in some way he will punish evil-doers, it would undoubtedly save them many sorrows and chastisements in the age to come. "Woe," saith the Prophet, "unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?" (`Isaiah 29:15`.) Behold, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good" (`Prov. 15:3`); and "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil." `Eccl. 12:14`. He "will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts." `1 Cor. 4:5`.
That the judgment will be fair and impartial, and with due consideration for the opportunities of each, is also vouchsafed by the character of the Judge (The Christ--`John 5:22`; `1 Cor. 6:2`), by his perfect knowledge, by his unwavering justice and goodness, by his divine power, and by his great love as shown in his sacrifice to redeem men from death, that they might enjoy the privilege of a favorable individual trial.
The varied circumstances and opportunities of men in this and past ages, indicate that a just judgment will recognize differences in the degree of individual responsibility, which will also necessitate differences in the Lord's future dealings with them. And this reasonable deduction we find clearly confirmed by the Scriptures. The Judge has been, and still is, taking minute cognizance of men's actions and words, although they have been entirely unaware of it (`Prov. 5:21`), and he declares that "Every idle ["pernicious," injurious or malicious] word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (`Matt. 12:36`); and that even a cup of cold water given to one of his little ones, shall in no wise lose its reward (`10:42`). The context shows that the pernicious words to which Jesus referred were words of willful and malicious opposition spoken against manifest light. `Vs. 24,31,32`.
Jesus also affirmed that it would be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon and Sodom in the day of judgment than for Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, which had misimproved greater advantages of light and opportunity. `Matt. 11:20-24`.
In the very nature of things, we can see that the future punishments will be in proportion to past guilt. Every sin indulged, and every evil propensity cultivated, hardens the heart and makes the way back to purity and virtue more difficult, and consequently sins willfully indulged now will require punishment and discipline in the age to come; and the more deeply the soul is dyed in willing sin, the more severe will be the measures required to correct it. As a wise parent would punish a wayward child, so Christ will punish the wicked for their good.
His punishments will always be administered in justice, tempered with mercy, and relieved by his approval and reward to those who are rightly exercised thereby. And it will only be when punishments, instructions and encouragements fail; in short, when love and mercy have done all that wisdom can approve (which is all that could be asked), that any will meet the final punishment which their case demands-- the second death.
None of the world will meet that penalty until they have first had all the blessed opportunities of the age to come. And while this is true of the world, the same principles applies now to the consecrated children of God in this OUR judgment [trial] day. We now receive God's favors (through faith) while the world will receive them in the next age, viz.: instruction, assistance, encouragement, discipline and punishments. "For, what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons."
Therefore, we when we receive grievous chastisement, should accept it as from a loving Father for our correction, not forgetting "the exhortation which speaketh unto us as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." (Read `Heb. 12:4-13`.)
How just and equal are God's ways! Read carefully the rules of the coming age--`Jer. 31:29-34` and `Ezek. 18:20-32`. They prove to us, beyond the possibility of a doubt, the sincerity and reality of all his professions of love to men: "As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die?" `Ezek. 33:11`.
If men in this life repent of sin, and as the term repentance implies, begin and continue the work of reformation to the best of their ability, they will reap the benefit of so doing in the age to come; they will in the resurrection age be to that extent advanced towards perfection, and their progress will be more rapid and easy, while with others it will be more slow, tedious and difficult. This is implied in the words of Jesus (`John 5:29,30` --Diaglott), "The hour is coming in the which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life" [those whose trial is past and who were judged worthy of life will be raised perfect--the faithful of past ages to perfect human life, the overcomers of the gospel age to perfect life as divine beings], and "they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment." [These are awakened to receive a course of discipline and correction--judgment--as the necessary means for their perfecting.]
The man who in this life, by fraud and injustice, accumulated and hoarded great wealth, which was scattered to the winds when he was laid in the dust, will doubtless awake to lament his loss, and bewail his poverty, and his utter inability under the new order of things to repeat unlawful measures to accumulate a fortune. It will be a severe chastisement and bitter experience with many to overcome the propensities to avarice, selfishness, pride, ambition and idleness, fostered and pampered for years in the present life. Occasionally we see an illustration of this form of punishment now, when a man of great wealth suddenly loses all, and the haughty spirit of himself and family must fall.
We are told (`Dan. 12:2`) that some shall awake to shame and age lasting contempt. And who can doubt that when every secret thing is brought into judgment (`Eccl. 12:14`), and the dark side of many a character that now stands measurably approved among men is then made known, many a face will blush and hide itself in confusion from others. When the man that stole is required to earn and refund the stolen property to its rightful owner, with the addition of twenty per cent. interest, and the man that lied, deceived, falsely accused, and otherwise wronged his neighbor, is required to acknowledge his crimes and so far as possible repair damages, on peril of an eternal loss of life, will not this be retributive justice? See the clear statement of this in God's typical dealings with Israel whom he made to represent the world. (`1 Cor. 10:11` and `Lev. 6:1-7`; also "Tab. Teachings," page 52.)
"But they that be wise"--the little flock who are wise enough to accept the present favor of God which permits us now to be joint-sacrificers, and by and by joint-heirs with Christ, these "shall shine as the brightness of the firmament" --the Sun. These shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." `Dan. 12:2`, and `Matt. 13:43`.)
And there will also be some others who have endeavored to live in this life according to the light and opportunity granted them, and who tried to turn others to righteousness. Of this class were the prophets and other justified faithful ones of past ages, and some others, such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Confucius, who enjoyed only the waning light of nature, but were faithful to that little light: These shall shine as the stars forever and ever. They will be notable, honorable and advanced because of faithfulness. These will always
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be bright ones--men and women of special honor because of their noble efforts to stem the tide of evil when the full force of the tide was against them.
As we are thus permitted to look into the perfect plan of God, how forcibly we are reminded of his word through the prophet Isaiah, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet (`Isaiah 28:17`.) We may also see the wholesome influence of such discipline. Parents in disciplining their children realize the imperative necessity of making their punishments in proportion to the character of offenses; and so in God's government, great punishments following great offenses are not
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greater than is necessary to establish justice and to effect so great a moral reform.
Seeing that the Lord will thus equitably adjust human affairs in his own due time, and knowing the outcome of his plan, we can well afford to endure hardness for the present, and resist evil with good, even at the cost of present disadvantage. Therefore "Recompense to no man evil for evil." (`Rom. 12:17-19`.) "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The present order of things will not always continue; a time of reckoning is coming, and the just Judge of all the earth says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay"; and Peter adds, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." And as we have seen, those punishments will be adapted to the nature of the offences, and the benevolent object in view,--man's permanent establishment in righteousness.
Other Scriptures corroborative of this view of future rewards and punishments are as follows: `2 Sam. 3:39`; `Matt. 16:27`; `1 Pet. 3:12`; `Psa. 19:11`; `91:8`; `Prov. 11:18`; `Isa. 40:10`; `49:4`; `Matt. 5:12`; `10:41,42`; `Luke 6:35`; `Rev. 22:12`; `Rom. 14:11,12`.
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FORGIVABLE AND UNPARDONABLE SINS.
In view of the foregoing review of Future Retribution, some may inquire, If for every pernicious word and every willful misdeed, an account must be rendered and a punishment inflicted, wherein consists the forgiveness of sins, of which so much is said in Scripture? Does Scripture teach a difference between sins--that some are forgivable and others unpardonable?
We answer, that under the provisions of God's law of life, no sin is excusable; perfect obedience--righteousness, is the only condition of perfect life and happiness. Under this law the entire race was judged representatively in Adam, and through his willful disobedience, condemned to death--destruction--as unworthy of life, and the penalty--death-- passed upon all. (`Rom. 5:12`.) They cannot be excused nor pardoned. The penalty is the just expression of the will and the law of God toward man--"The wages of sin is death."
But to give exercise to His love without varying or impairing his justice or his righteous and wise law, God arranged the plan by which Jesus as His agent became the Redeemer or Purchaser of the race, by becoming a man and tasting death FOR every man and thus gaining the right to set at liberty all the prisoners, in his own time and way, without opposition to or hindrance from Justice and its requirements.
Having obtained control and right to be master, owner, and Lord of all, Jesus will exonerate or grant forgiveness and remission of sins to all the race. He will however, require each individual to apply for the exoneration for himself, in order that each may fully realize his necessity and dependence, as well as the Lord's bounty in this free gift of justification, which he purchased for them with his own blood. He did all the purchasing; to them it is free for the asking and accepting.
This then is the forgiveness presented in the Bible--the free gift of God THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord. Jehovah does not set aside his law to forgive: He could not: to revoke or set aside his laws, would be to unsettle his kingdom by the King antagonizing its laws himself. But his great gift to sinners, was Jesus, whose sacrificial death bought or ransomed man from death.
But for what did Jesus die? Not to grant sanction and license to sin and sinners. Not to permit men to continue to sin, but to release them from the injuries and penalties of their representative's failure; and in hope that the experience thus gained, might help each individual in the new trial, which by virtue of the ransom given, he wills, and has the right to give them--an individual trial.
If this be true, the sacrifice of Jesus while covering "many offences" (`Rom. 5:16`) covers and is the basis of forgiveness to only such offences as come more or less directly as a result of Adam's disobedience and fall. Hence it does not cover such sins as are not the results of Adamic weakness. It does not cover WILLFUL SINS, against light and ability.
While, therefore, we recognize this clear distinction between the two classes of sin, we must not forget that the depravity resulting from the "fall" and impairment of the moral as well as physical qualities of human nature, furnishes a tendency toward willful sin, even when the surrounding circumstances do not entirely mislead the judgment. Not being able to fully appreciate the weight and influence of circumstances, and depravity, is one reason why we may not decide against some whose professions and actions widely differ; we must, therefore, "judge nothing before the time."
Nevertheless Scripture lays down certain marks by which we must judge those whose professions and actions are at agreement. "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee." The Lord in `Matt. 12:31`, and the apostles in `Heb. 6:4,6`, and `10:26-29` and `1 John 5:16` point out unforgivable sins, and in the light of our foregoing remarks we trust all may be able to see to why these sins can not be forgiven, and do not come under the class for which a ransom was given by Jesus.
Our Lord addressed the Pharisees; in their presence he had healed the sick, cured the blind and lame, cast out devils, and even raised the dead; and though depravity through the "fall" might have so blinded them that they could not accept of Jesus as the promised Messiah, they were certainly inexcusable for saying as a last resort when they could find no fault--"We know that this man hath a devil" and casts out devils by the power of Beelzebub the prince of devils, `v. 24`. Such a manifestation of hatred, malice and opposition to light came not through the "fall" and cannot be forgiven as such, and so Jesus informs them: "All manner of sin and blasphemy [malicious words of opposition `v. 36`] shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the holy spirit shall not be forgiven unto men." They might reject Jesus and speak evil of him, misunderstanding him and his mission; but when a demonstration of the power [spirit] of God in doing a good work was manifested, though they might not have received it as a proof of Jesus' claims, they were inexcusable for attributing it to Satanic power.
If then, that blasphemy shall not be forgiven them, neither in this world [age --Jesus miracles and preaching were the commencement of the Gospel age as he is the head of the Gospel church] neither in the future, [age occurs but once in this text], what shall we say of those Pharisees, have they no hope for future life? We answer, they are not without hope; the blood of Christ was still applicable to cleanse from all Adamic sin, and though they shall never be forgiven for this willful opposition to, and blasphemy of God's holy power they may expiate that sin. That is to say they shall receive "stripes" or punishment in proportion to the willfulness of each of them.
A prisoner condemned to one year's imprisonment applies to the Governor for a pardon; it is refused; nevertheless when the limit of his condemnation has expired he will be released, having expiated his offense. This serves as an illustration of how a sin might be expiated and the sinner survive. It should be noted however that if the penalty were death there could be no survival.
Next comes the question can all unforgivable sins be thus expiated and the sinner survive? We answer, No. The penalty for the Pharisees' willful sin was stripes and not (second) death, because, though sinning against light, it was not against full and perfect light and knowledge. To have acted and spoken as they did under full appreciation would have been punishable only with the full "wages of sin--death."
To some it may occur that they were "blinded" by sin and Satan, and hence not at all responsible for their course. To this we reply, that while it is freely admitted by all, and the Scriptures plainly declare, that blindness in part is upon all the children of Adam through the fall, yet from Jesus' words we must conclude that these Pharisees were not totally blind. None except idiots and maniacs are totally blind. It was to these same Pharisees that Jesus said "If I had not done among you the works which none other man did ye had not had sin." "This is the condemnation --that light is come into the world and men love darkness rather than light." (`Jno. 15:24`, and `3:19`.) If you were blind totally you would not have been responsible but now you admit that you see some, therefore you have sin. `Jno. 9:41`.
The sacrifice of Christ will be applicable to cleanse from and forgive, all sin and results of sinful influences which are the results of Adam's fall. A ransom was provided because Adam and his race
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had not fully appreciated the results of sin "in hope" (`Rom. 8:20`) that many after having experienced would appreciate and shun sin and its wages. But these Pharisees and the entire race have by experience obtained that knowledge. That they were blinded by their own willful prejudice beyond that prejudice engendered by the fall, is evident, because while they ascribed Jesus' works to Satan, others no less depraved, asked, "Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?" "For no man can do these miracles... unless God be with him." `Jno. 10:21`, `3:2`.
Their sin was incomplete--not unto death because, first, they had not yet come in contact with all the light, truth and evidence which God considers necessary to a trial for LIFE; and secondly, because of a measure of blindness, they had not fully appreciated, the light against which they sinned. Hence, we repeat, the sin of each of them was proportioned to his wilfulness in opposing what he did discern, and this is unforgivable in any age.
Others may suggest, that if the Pharisees shall and may expiate or suffer the penalty of their measure of willful sin so may others. Just so, we respond, and it is because the world will be thus punished that Scripture informs of the many and few stripes (`Luke 12:47,48`), in the age to come; and that "God knoweth how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." What we need constantly to have in mind however, is, that the punishment will be a "just recompense of reward" upon every soul that doeth evil.
But if such sins against only a measure of responsibility and light may be expiated, why might not such a course have been adopted with Adam? why might not he and others have expiated sin by sufferings and thus no ransom price have been needed? Has God changed? Does he now say sin may be expiated by the sinner and did he then say, Sin cannot be expiated, the very EXISTENCE of the sinner is the penalty?
No God has not changed--neither his laws which represent him--"I am the same and change not." (`Mal. 3:6`.) The difference is this: Adam was perfect, not fallen, not blinded in the least degree, and in his purity, innocency and holiness had no sectarian system to uphold and no proud theory to maintain: the Pharisees were greatly fallen, very imperfect, and much blinded. Adam had full intercourse and communion with Jehovah, witnessed his power in his own perfect talents, and had the law of God inwrought in his very nature--was a moral image of God in flesh. The Pharisees had in common with all others of the fallen race lost the intercourse and communion: The moral image was well-nigh effaced, the heart of flesh had turned to stone and the law of God written thereon had been almost obliterated.
Hence, for the perfect Adam to sin wilfully against perfect and unquestioned evidences was in the fullest sense sin, and justly received the fullest penalty--not stripes, but death--extinction. He has been under that penalty ever since condemned to it. The penalty commenced with the process of dying, and for over five thousand years he has been subjected to the full penalty of his transgression, death. He would have so continued, dead to all eternity, had not a substitute given himself a ransom, and taken his place in death. And this is true of all the race whom Adam represented in the first trial.
Just so with the second death. It is the penalty of full, complete and willful transgression against full, complete knowledge and ability. It is evident, then, that the Pharisees did not commit sin unto death because of lack of light and ability, and just as evident that any one through the acceptance of the ransom fully recovered out of the degradation and imperfections resulting from Adam's transgression and brought to a full, realizing sense of his relationship to God, etc., COULD commit the sin unto death--the second death, by willful sin against light and ability, or by a willful rejection of the ransom-sacrifice, through faith in which, they had once been released from Adamic guilt and penalty.
In view of the foregoing the question arises, could anyone commit the willful sin and come under the penalty of the second death until they had first been entirely freed from every result of the Adamic death? Could such willful sin against full knowledge, ability and light be committed in the Gospel age--must it not belong exclusively to the Millennial age?
It would seem so, at first thought. But the Scriptures point out a small--very small class, which could commit this sin now. That it is a very small class in the church, is evident from the apostles description of the advantages and knowledge they must first have enjoyed, as recorded in `Heb. 6:4-6`. Those who
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have been once enlightened [whose eyes have been opened]; who have tasted of the heavenly gift [realized and enjoyed forgiveness of sins through the redemption in Jesus, whom God gave to be a propitiation for our sins]; who have been made partakers of the holy spirit [and thus come to appreciate God's holy will and have full fellowship and communion with him as Adam had before the fall]; who have tasted the good word of God [appreciating the richness and sweetness of its promises--which but few yet do]; who have tasted also the powers of the age to come [come to realize the powers which will in the next age hold sway and restore and bless the dead race--both in and out of the tomb]; If such shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance.
They have fully enjoyed all the blessings and privileges secured to any by the ransom, and have made no use of them. Such would really be making the redemption provided through Jesus sacrifice of no value to themselves by failure to make use of the privileges and blessings offered. Thus in act they put Christ to an open shame, as though they said: You died and redeemed us but we spurn and reject the privileges and opportunity thus afforded. Such do wilfully what the Roman soldiers did ignorantly viz., reject and crucify him who laid down his life on their behalf.
Is it asked, How could these described by the apostle be said to have enjoyed fully all the blessings resultant from Jesus ransom, during this age? We reply that here comes in the province of faith. By faith they grasped the heavenly gift and realized that they were redeemed by his precious blood. By faith they tasted and appreciated the goodness of the promises of God's Word, realized the powers of the coming age and partook of the mind or spirit of God. All the imperfections resultant from the Adamic fall were reckoned covered, with the perfection of their Redeemer who gave himself for all; and every good endeavor, ever so imperfect in itself was reckoned as a perfect work when presented covered with the righteousness of the Redeemer. His righteousness imputed to our sanctified efforts makes them acceptable as perfect before our heavenly Father. Without his merit attached our efforts and sacrifices would be unacceptable as shown in the argument of the same apostle, `Heb. 10:26,29`.
He here shows another class liable to the second-death. He addresses still the saints and speaks specially of those who have fully received by faith the privileges accruing through the ransom. He assures them that any who reject the blood of Christ--the price of their redemption --counting the blood of the covenant wherewith they had been sanctified common and ordinary and not specially sacred and precious, attempting to stand in their own righteousness ignoring Christ's ransom, have no longer any interest in the sacrifice for sins. If the rejection of the typical mediator, Moses, was worthy of death, of how much sorer [greater] punishment will such as despise the sacrifice offered by the great antitypical Mediator be thought worthy? is the apostles query.
The despisers of Moses' arrangements [see `Lev. 10:1-3`] who attempted to present themselves before the Lord with unauthorized incense of their own instead of that authorized, which represented Christ's righteousness, perished-- died. But this was merely a hastening to completion of the Adamic death penalty already in force against them, hence not so serious as the matter which it typified--the rejection of the real incense or merit of the better sacrifice and its penalty the second-death from which there is no hope of a resurrection.
In view of this argument which he presents, no wonder the Apostle concludes that, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (`v. 31`.) God has expressed to us his abhorrence of sin and his intention to utterly root it out, at the same time providing a ransom, a way of escape by which we may be freely justified: but, if we after coming to a full knowledge and appreciation of His gracious provision wilfully ignore and reject the sin-offering which God provided for us, we dishonor God and the Lamb and go out from the protection provided, into the fiery indignation which devours [destroys] God's adversaries.
Nor can the reasonableness of this, God's plan, be questioned. Such as are once fully enlightened, as described `Heb. 6:4-6`, and then wilfully reject God's favors whether by open sin or by a denial of the value of the "blood of the covenant," could not evidently be benefitted by a continuance of God's favor, seeing they have had, full and abundant opportunity. Besides this, the Apostle declares: "It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance." What is impossible could not be accomplished in a million ages, and would not be attempted by our God of infinite wisdom.
Now, casting our minds backward and keeping in mind the DIVERSIFIED WISDOM OF GOD (See Dec'r. issue.), let us notice that God could have dealt otherwise than as he did with man, but not according to his wisdom.
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We cannot but suppose that "Those angels which kept not their first estate" sinned wilfully against light and knowledge, and therefore, that they, as well as the Adamic race, had both been put under the same law, would have been punished also with death. This must not lead us to suppose God's laws variable or unequal, for as shown in our Dec. issue, it has always been God's mind that willful sin shall be punished with death, but thus far this law has only been placed over mankind--they being made a "spectacle" or example to angels, who, meantime, have not been placed under the full and final penalty of the law. But they shall eventually be under the same law after they have witnessed the full outworkings of good and evil, obedience and disobedience, as illustrated in mankind.
We also saw in that issue, that the favor of God granted to "those angels," in giving them experience with sin and an illustration of its final results, before placing them under the full law and its penalty, was amply compensated for or balanced by his favor to man in granting him a redemption and recovery from his first offense, through Christ Jesus a ransom.
In conclusion, the sin unto death is not one act of one moment. None could happen to commit it. It is not a "slip" or a "stumble" which constitutes the sin unto death. The slips, happenings and stumblings are evidently occasioned by our inherited imperfection; they are among the injuries occasioned by the Adamic "fall," and are all fully covered and fully forgivable, and cleansable by the application of the precious blood of "the Lamb of God which taketh away THE sin of the world." Every evil, whether in act, word or thought, or every propensity toward evil inherited by us, is fully atoned for by Jesus already. (`Rom. 5:19`.) And all that remains is for us to acknowledge his ransom work and apply for our share in its results.
The sin which is unto death is a complete rejection of God's favors, against full light and understanding; and only the very few, the saints, could possibly do this at present, because only they have the light and appreciation necessary. In due time all shall come to this full knowledge, and then whosoever will, may obey and live forever.
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It may be asked, What if in business or on any other account, one should tell that which he knows to be untrue and not from Adamic weakness, etc., but wilfully and deliberately, to misrepresent-- Is such a sin unforgivable?
We answer No. To our understanding such a sin is not covered by the ransom. But we doubt if there be such sins as this often committed, if ever. It is usually in the heat of discussion, or in the anxiety to make a trade, that for the moment the more depraved elements of the being carry away as by storm the better qualities which in the fallen condition are the weaker.
Notice the reasonableness of this. If the man should sin wilfully, and premediatedly, and should thus gain five dollars and should apply to God for forgiveness and remission of his sin because of Jesus' sacrifice, and if it should be thus forgiven, and if he continue so to do, it would be making Jehovah and Jesus parties to and abettors of his evil deeds--an evident absurdity.
On the contrary, no man or woman can wilfully commit sin while under the control of the Spirit of Christ. And should such be overtaken in a fault; it would certainly be the result of the weakness of the flesh. When such would discover the error of their way, they would not only apply for remission through the precious blood of cleansing, but would under the exercise of true repentance confess and repair the wrong to the extent of their ability. Wrong doing under such circumstances would be too expensive to be willingly indulged.
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Some are inquiring: If there is hope for "those angels who kept not their first estate" may there not be hope for Satan that he may yet be reclaimed? If not, why not?
We reply that it is for any who so think to produce the passage of Scripture which holds out one ray of hope for Satan. It is not incumbent on us to prove that he will not be saved, for this may reasonably be assumed if no hope is held out for him in Scripture. Nevertheless we believe our position so strong, that we will take the offensive and say that it can be demonstrated from Scripture that Satan will not be permitted to exist beyond the Millennial age.
Does some one suggest that as we once thought there was no hope for "those angels," yet were mistaken, so we may be mistaken about Satan? We reply that it was the very positive declarations of Scripture about the utter destruction of Satan, that we applied ignorantly once to "those angels," not rightly dividing the word of truth." Those Scriptures still stand unchallenged, against Satan. We must not throw away Scripture because once too widely applied. So too we once too widely applied `Rev. 20:8`, and supposed that Satan's host, of finally impenitent ones at the close of the Millennium would be a great multitude "as the sand of the sea," but a closer examination and better division of the word of truth convinces us--not that Satan will have no followers or "goats," (`Matt. 25:33`) nor that this Scripture is at fault, but that the words "the number of whom is as the sand of the sea" refers not to those whom Satan will lead into sin and destruction, but to the whole population of the earth at that time, all of whom, Satan shall attempt to mislead. He shall be successful only with the goat class, which will thus be manifested and separated for the destruction mentioned in the `succeeding verse`.
Regarding Satan: From the curse on the Serpent his agent and representative in nature, down to the vivid pen-pictures of the apocalypse, every statement regarding his destiny, either pointedly or plainly as in `Heb. 2:14`, and `Rom. 16:20`, or symbolically, as in `Rev. 20:10,15`; and `Matt. 25:41,46`, all tell the one story, viz.: The proud, haughty prince of evil, whose rebellion and evil intent God has used and overruled to his service, is, in the end of the Millennial age, when good can no longer be served through his permitted existence, to be totally and forever destroyed.
Nor can a judgment illuminated and guided by Scripture do otherwise than approve this sentence.
The fact of Satan's opposition to good seems to some an evidence that he was either created a devil, or has undergone a moral change which should be corrected. But an examination will, we think, show the incorrectness of both suggestions.
First, God in the very nature of things could not create a devil, for the same reason that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. Therefore Satan in his first estate must have left the Creator's hand perfect. We should remember that God's method in the creation of intelligent creatures, is to give full freedom of choice to do good or evil, that such may, like himself, do right because it is right. Thus the first and representative man had full freedom of choice to do good or evil. His rejection of what God told him was good and choice of the reverse, has proved to many of us the wisdom of God's judgment concerning good and evil. When restored to perfect manhood at the close of the Millennium, the restored race will again have the choice of good or evil before them and finally. (`Rev. 20:7-15`.)
Secondly, Satan so far as we are informed has undergone no dying or deteriorating process, hence is as perfect as when created, and could not be restored to a perfection not lost. A perfect, intelligent being by the same perfection, can either love or hate, and can use his powers in harmony with either good or evil. Thus Christ, before he became a man, had the same liberty and ability that Satan possesses, to either do good or evil. This liberty is indicated by the Apostle in `Phil. 2:6`. Who, being in the form of God, [spiritual] did not meditate a usurpation [of Jehovah's power and authority] to be equal with God, but [on the contrary, and in direct opposition to such a self-exaltation, he] humbled himself [in obedience to the divine will], etc.--Diaglott.
Nothing is clearer from this, than that he could have chosen the opposite course of self-exaltation, which Satan chose. The Apostle's language here suggests
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the contrast between the courses of these two perfect spiritual beings. One sought to exalt self, saying: "I will be AS the Most High;" the other, willingly took a lower, a human plane of being, to accomplish obediently the will of the Most High. Pride was Satan's choice and course; humility was the course and choice of him who was the beginning of the creation of God. Both will find the fruit God foretold. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (`James 4:6`.) Him (Jesus) hath God highly exalted. By a right use of his perfect powers, in harmony with Jehovah's will, Jesus has gained the very
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thing--the high exaltation to be as [like] the Most High, which Satan coveted and endeavored to grasp, while he, God says, shall get the reward of his course--Pride leadeth to destruction.
Does some one suggest that Satan ought to have another trial? What advantage could he have that he does not possess? We ask, If none, what could be the object or benefit of such other trial? Man will be benefitted by being restored to a perfection lost, but so far as we can judge from Scripture, Satan has not lost any of his powers, hence could not have them restored and could not be thus advantaged. Man has learned valuable lessons of the sinfulness and injuriousness of sin and disobedience, and all the human race labors, groans, waits and hopes for the better day promised. Their experience with sin, counterbalanced by an experience in righteousness, will evidently convince the large majority that "righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." (`Prov. 14:34`.) And when the Lord's standard is set up in that Millennial Day many shall go and say: "He will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths." But of Satan what shall we say? He has seen the evil which he brought upon man. He has witnessed the sin, depravity, suffering, wretchedness, and death working havoc for four thousand years, yet pitied and repented not, but the reverse. When, then, the Redeemer appeared, to give himself a ransom for all, he beset him and endeavored to dissuade him and tempt him and cause him to fall.
Not only the head but the members of the body he has beset and opposed. He so completely controlled and used the Roman Empire that symbolically it is sometimes called by his name--the devil and Satan; and thus and through its successor, Papacy, he wielded a terrible persecuting power against the saints of the most high God. He is the same still, opposing through all whom he can use in his service, (`1 Pet. 5:8`,) "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." (`John 1:29`.)
This is what we know of his course, past and present. It is one unbroken course of evil, in opposition to the blaze of light and knowledge. And what we might have surmised of his future, judging by his past course, the sure word of prophecy clearly foretells, viz.: that when restrained from evil-doing for the thousand years of Christ's glorious reign, and made to witness the grand benefits conferred upon men through their Lord and Redeemer, all this not only fails to lead Satan to repentance, but upon the first opportunity, immediately that the restraint is removed, he engages afresh in his former work of exalting himself and opposing God and his laws. Then shall the full penalty of God's law be let fall upon him who richly deserves it--destruction. (`Rev. 20:15`.)
It should not be forgotten that the Apocalypse is a symbolic prophecy. It tells of things not as they may happen to come to pass, but accurately--as they shall surely come to pass. Hence it is not its teaching that Satan might not change during the Millennial reign, but it absolutely shows that he will not repent or change. This prophecy of our risen Lord (`Rev. 1:1`) is no less sure of fulfillment than the statements of any other prophet. Hence we conclude, there is no doubt or question possible on this subject, except it be to question the divine record.
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AGES TO COME.
But questions some one, How do we know that there are not other, perhaps many ages of probation, beyond the Millennial age? Does not Paul mention it thus in the plural--"The ages to come"?
Yes, Paul mentions ages in the plural, but neither Paul nor any Scripture writer, speaks of probation during ages to come. It is as grievous an error to be ignorant of what the Apostle says of those ages, as to be as so many are, ignorant of the fact that future ages are mentioned.
Paul says that God--In the ages to come will show the exceeding riches of his grace and loving kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. During this age God tells us of his love, but he has not yet "shown" or manifested it. He loves all, and will show his love for all, but The Church, head and body--all in Christ-- are greatly beloved, and in and on and to these he will manifest the exceeding riches of his favor and loving-kindness exalting and honoring this anointed body. It will commence with the Millennial age, and when its work is complete, man and his earth home made perfect and the kingdom delivered up to God (`1 Cor. 15:27,28`,) then, says the Apostle, there is yet more honor and glory to be revealed upon and through this glorious Christ, each step in God's plan, each age opening up a further development of God's unending programme, and furnishing fresh opportunity for the display of more and more of the exceeding riches of Jehovah's grace and loving-kindness toward us, in Christ Jesus.
But nothing in those words mention probation, and nothing in Scripture even hints of it, beyond the "times of restitution" --the Millennial age.
If God has appointed times (or years) of restitution and limited their number to one thousand, and declares that then Christ will deliver up the kingdom to the Father (`1 Cor. 15:27,28`,) who could not accept of anything imperfect, then on the reliable authority of these statements, we may assert most positively that there will be no probation beyond that time.
We believe that none can produce a single passage of Scripture that will contradict these Scriptures, or by any reasonable interpretation set aside their plain significance.
God's revelation closes with the symbolic presentation of the blessings of that age, and winds up by showing that during it, all who will to have life, shall have it, freely, and those who will not conform to God's law shall be utterly destroyed. And as though to make it doubly clear and to prove to us beyond question the end of evil and its train of pain and misery and death, it is written: There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (`Rev. 21:4,5`.)
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A METHODIST BISHOP'S OPINION.
Brother MacMillen, in a private letter suggests the following points which are worthy of notice. He says:--
"What think you of Bishop Foster's sermon (about eleven columns long) delivered before the Centennial Conference. Is it not a little gold and much clay? He utters some facts which we who have no titles would be denounced for saying. He says, 'I have the most profound conviction that one of the most crying needs of the Church of God today, if not the greatest, is a revival of the spirit and fervor of religion in the pulpit, and sorry I am to say it, in no pulpit is it more needed than in our own. The people are hungry, and for bread they are fed on HUSKS--worse than that often, mere wind and sound.'
Well do I remember when I was severely criticised for uttering almost the same words. After speaking of the spiritually half-dead pastors and churches, the Bishop exclaims--'Oh for the awakening of the pulpits of Christendom!'
In speaking of the creeds he says: 'We are safe in saying that up to date there is no perfect creed--we even doubt if there ever will be.' Then a little farther on we are surprised to hear him say, 'The Church has no treasure which it must so carefully guard as its creed. It is its Sheet-anchor, its foundation, its life blood, its very soul.'
This to my mind is nothing less than an acknowledgement that the creed or foundation, or life blood, or soul of the nominal church is imperfect and impure.
I would like to suggest to the Bishop that the true Church has a perfect creed, viz.--the Bible--that it has no treasure that can be compared to God's Word.
The Bishop is beginning to see (using his words) 'Signs that our Protestant Christianity is losing hold of what are called the masses, drifting away from humanity'--that it--'can no more be disputed that it has a tendency to separate poor and rich at the altars of God'--that it--'is the religion of the respectable.'
This sermon is a wonderful mixture of clay and gold.
There are points both good and bad to which I would like to call attention, but time and space forbid."
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THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST.
Lord signifies master, ruler, governor. Lordship signifies dominion, power, authority...."For to this end Christ both died and rose and revived, that he might be Lord, both of the dead and living." `Rom. 14:7-9`.
1. The fact is stated "Christ is Lord of both living and dead."
2. How he became Lord: By death and resurrection.
3. Our responsibility: Being his we ought to obey him.
The reference in this text is to Christians, Christ DIED FOR ALL, and therefore has a claim upon the obedience of all. A Christian is one that recognizes the claims, and yields obedience.... His power over mankind is secured by the Ransom. Definition:--
Ransom (verb), to recover by paying the price.
Ransom (noun), the price paid for recovery.
The ransom has relation to the thing bought as its equivalent. Note the value of Christ's death. "There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time." `1 Tim. 2:5,6`. Human for human is the legal ransom. He became a man that he might "give his life (Gr., psuchee--the natural life), a ransom for many." `Matt. 20:28`. It was the human life. "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death;... that he by the grace of God might taste death for every man. `Heb. 2:9`.
"He took not the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham." `Ver. 16`.
This enabled him both to sympathize with and to redeem. "Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same (not that he might die for himself, as one of us, but) that through death he might destroy...the devil and deliver" from death those who, while they lived, were afraid to die. (See `verses 14,15`.)
It was not the pre-existent life; but, "A body hast thou prepared me.... Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.... By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. `Heb. 10:5-10`. "Since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made "alive." `1 Cor. 15:21,22`. The making "alive" of the 22d is clearly the raising "of the dead" of the 21st.... He hath "abolished death (by the ransom) and brought LIFE AND IMMORTALITY to light." `2 Tim. 1:10`. He gives life to all, "And became the author of ETERNAL salvation unto all them that obey him." `Heb. 5:9`.
Truly, Christ is Lord of all--angels, men, conditions and things. God in Christ is our Redeemer and Saviour. Our dependence is well established by the Word.
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He has the highest claims on our hearts and lives, on account of the RANSOM PAID and the glorious expression of his love in this and all else he does for US.
May a "patient continuance in well-doing" secure for US the "glory and honor and immortality" which he has promised. `Rom. 2:7`.
J. H. PATON.
[The above is a reprint from our issue of December, 1879. It gives evidence that the teaching of the TOWER on this fundamental doctrine of the Ransom is now the same that it was then. It should be remembered also, while contrasting the statement above with some quoted in our last from "An Inconsistent Contemporary," that the definitions given above, once true, cannot change with the changing theories of men. We hope the above extract will have a second careful reading, as it treats an important subject truthfully and forcibly. --EDITOR.]
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DR. NEWTON says: If there were no enemy, there could be no conflict; were there no trouble, there could be no faith; were there no trial, there could be no love; were there no fear, there could be no hope. Hope, faith and love are weapons, and weapons imply foes and encounters, and relying on my weapons I will glory in my sufferings.
THE river of life is pure and clear as crystal. Is the doctrine offered to thee so, or is it muddy and mixed with the doctrines of men? What water is fouled, is not water of life. Wherefore, if thou findest it not right, go up higher toward the spring ahead, for the nearer the spring the more pure and clear is the water.--Bunyan.
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The pastor of ALL SAINTS MEMORIAL CHURCH, New York City, is reported by the public press to have preached as follows on Sunday, Jan. 18th, 1885:--
"It is a remarkable phenomenon, which our country has witnessed during the last few days, the brilliant and eloquent lecturer going through the length and breadth of the land lecturing in your churches and halls on Sunday evenings to crowded audiences, with a sweeping attack upon all that is understood to constitute the Christian religion. No one questions his rare ability. All confess that whatever destructive work he does he is constructive in this at least--that he would build up happy homes, and plant within them men and women living sanely and nobly. Let us be thankful for this. I count it a signal illustration of the advance which has been made in the so-called infidelity, that the spirit is clean and pure.
"Further than this, let me frankly own to you that I believe Mr. Ingersoll in his rough attacks on religion is doing a real service to the cause of enlightened religion. It does not look so to the devout believer; but he who knows the extent and depth of the obscurantism which prevails within the churches will be forced to admit that even such coarse attacks upon the faith of Christendom, have their part in forcing forward the growth of reasonable religion. One may long for a wiser, calmer and more reverential mode of doing this needful work, as I, for one, do most deeply, but none the less must one, who sees the fact of our situation to-day, admit that there is a work for even such an audacious iconoclast. Nature is not even nice in picking her instruments when she sees a great job of demolition before her. Out of such stinging attacks there must come a deeper conviction on the part of the Church that there is that in the body of its beliefs which lays it open to such trenchant blows. Consider what is meant by such a system of thought as Calvinism. Consider what awful blasphemy the doctrine of hell really is. Consider what a fetich men have made out of the Bible. Having admitted all this in simple justice to the man and in simple truth to the facts of our situation, I may speak more frankly of the bad side of Mr. Ingersoll's work. The essential defect of his work is, that while doing a very needful work of destruction, he is decidedly overdoing it. That which more than anything else shocks me in the work of our eloquent lecturer is, that he seems to leave no feeling of reverence unsmirched by the hand of coarse humor. The brilliant lecturer gives the Christian Church and Christianity itself hard thrusts. Let us admit that in the Church are manifold and serious defects; grave and shameful faults. Let us be glad that so doughty a foe as this great Goliath of the Philistines walks up and down before the armies of Jehovah, ridiculing their feebleness, for we may thus be aroused to make civilization the Christian society which it is in name, but which it is not in fact. Before we cast away rashly our Christianity let us consider well what it has done for humanity."
The above is not unreasonably expressed. It illustrates what we have frequently claimed, that the world in general is beginning to think. The great danger with all who will use reason at all, on religious subjects, seems to be that they speedily incline not only to throw away the falsities and absurdities of the faith of Christendom, but supposing that these falsities of the Church are correctly based on Scripture, the general tendency is to discard everything in the Bible which does not square with their reasoning ability. The effect of this is to leave such reasoners without Chart or Compass. Their reasoning ability gauges their faith and will soon destroy it, for as soon as the Inspiration of the Bible is denied, the reasoner is an Infidel whatever he may call himself.
This is perhaps the chief curse of all "Church creeds and confessions"; they draw attention from the Bible to themselves as the sense and teaching of the Bible, hence when a church creed is convicted of errors and inconsistency all of the worldly and nearly all of the church-members are led to suppose that the Bible is the authority for the errors and inconsistencies. And the Bible like a telescope is not so constructed as to be looked into from the wrong end. Its beauties and value cannot be appreciated by any other than the guided and trained eye of faith.
As a result of seeing the inconsistency of Creeds supposed to represent the Bible, and then looking at the Bible from the skeptical standpoint, some of the brightest intellects in the Nominal Church are being lead into what is called "Rational Christianity," and leads the gentleman quoted above, to remark, "Consider what a fetich [object of adoration and reverence] men have made out of the Bible." Doubtless the celebrated M.E. minister of the same city who recently characterized the Old Testament as a batch of "Old wive's fables" reached his conclusions by a similar process of reasoning.
But a true reasoner looking from the standpoint of faith, will own that the entire book is so hinged and bound together that it stands or falls together. Either Christianity and the Bible, its basis, is a great fraud and deception, or else it is what it claims to be, a Revelation from God to man of some of his plans and purposes relating to him. Jesus was either a great teacher and the Son of God as he claimed, or he was a false teacher, deceiver and blasphemer as the Jews who crucified him claimed; hence we must reject all or none of his teachings.
So with Jesus' disciples, they were either good men who declared the truth when they recorded the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus and taught under the direction and by special revelations from the Lord, or else they were deceivers who foolishly wasted life and talents to teach untruths; and few who can appreciate the logical reasoning of the apostle to the Gentiles, could reasonably consider him, who was more abundant in revelations and stripes and imprisonments, and who witnessed his reasonable faith by a reasonable service, could either doubt his sincerity or suppose him a fool.
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To those whose eyes are anointed with eyesalve, to see the truth of Scriptures and to realize the intricate, but harmonious and sublime plan therein traced, in its past, present and future accomplishment, it would be as impossible to deny the Bible as to deny the Sun at noonday because clouds were visible.
There are features such as Isaac on the Altar, Isaac and Rebecca, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the great fish, Moses and Aaron with the Magicians of Egypt, Elijah, Samson, etc., which to the masses seem devoid of teaching and much like fables. Such let us guard against a hasty rejection of these, by reminding them that all of the above are vouched for by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament repeatedly. Hence to hold the one is to hold the other, to reject the one is to deny the other. Already, we are seeing from the TOWER with the Telescope of faith great and important lessons in these things, which while actual occurrences were specially valuable as lessons and types of doctrines to the Gospel Church, and in the Age to follow, when the knowledge of the Lord and an appreciation of His plans shall fill the whole earth and none need say unto his neighbor, know thou the Lord, for all shall know Him.
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A WIDE DIFFERENCE.
Seeing that the Scriptures teach that all who shall be of the "body" of Christ must follow the example of the Head, and sacrifice--even unto death; all who think at all, must form some idea of what is meant by the command. And those who fail to get the Scriptural view of it, get an unscriptural one which must more or less becloud their views of the entire plan of God.
The Scriptural view of our sacrifice must harmonize fully with the Scriptural teaching regarding the nature and value of Jesus' sacrifice. And therefore any view of our sacrifice which does not thus harmonize must be unscriptural.
The most common of these unscriptural views is set forth about as follows in an item which has been going the rounds of the religious press:--
"Not the death of the cross, but our death to sin reconciles us to God.--Key to the Scriptures."
A more deceptive and hurtful little paragraph could scarcely be constructed. It certainly is not of God, and was not indicted by any one under the control of the holy spirit, for it is in direct conflict with the Scriptures. Its claim to be a "Key to the Scriptures" is the bate upon Satan's hook, to make it attractive and easily swallowed. To the vast majority the Scripture is a sealed book (`Isa. 29:11`,) and that in great measure because of unwillingness to sacrifice needful time and effort in its careful study; yet to such, the thought of finding condensed into one sentence a "key" by which the whole Bible would at once and without labor and study become plain to them, is a temptation somewhat similar to the one with which the same adversary beguiled Eve. And "I fear lest by any means, as the Serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ"--to "another gospel." (?) `2 Cor. 11:3`, and `Gal. 1:6-9`.
The temptation put before Eve, was an easy acquirement of knowledge, and to all intelligent people this must ever remain one of Satan's most successful temptations, until he is bound. One of our duties is to resist this temptation and to try and prove every doctrine by the Word of God. And this remark applies as much to popular Creeds and Catechisms which claim to be keys to the Scriptures, as to the little clip referred to. The only God-given key to Scripture, is within itself. The harmonizing of its various statements open to us its treasures. It has a "Combination Time Lock," and cannot be opened by any other key.
But let us examine the clipping in question. Dividing its statement and critically examining its parts, we may all see what it means, viz.: Jesus' death on the cross did not reconcile us to God; but when we put away sin and become dead in the sense of having no desires for sin, we thereby commend ourselves to God, and He receives us into fellowship, communion, etc. Ah yes, such a doctrine quickly commends itself to all the morally disposed people of the world. In a word, though false, it is the WORLD'S HOPE, and is the basis of the achings of all the great heathen philosophers and the core and centre of the most prominent religions of the world.--Brahminism and Buddhism.
The substance of this theory is--away with the cross of Calvary, away with ideas of a ransom, of a Redeemer, on whose account men are made at one with God. Let in the more modern light* of reason and let us wash ourselves from sin-filthiness, and then come thus to God in our own righteousness. Alas! they lose sight of the fact that they are so tainted with sin that they cannot put it away. But their theory causes them to lose sight of real righteousness and absolute perfection of thought, word and deed, so that thus self-deluded, some in every age, have attempted to come before God in what He declares are the "filthy rags" of their own righteousness.
But let us compare this suggested "key" with the Scripture which it pretends to unlock. We read, `Rom. 5:8-11`. "We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." That "key" don't fit this lock--it is not the true key; it is a false one. The foregoing statement of the apostle is the centre shaft of the true key, and nothing short of the recognition of "The death of His Son" as the centre and handle can possibly turn the combination and open the Scriptures.
Let us compare carefully: not only does Paul not say we were reconciled to God by our death to sin, but he asserts that the reconciliation he refers to was accomplished "while we were enemies" --"while we were YET SINNERS"; hence the reconciliation is not the result of our "slaying the enmity in us," but as here stated the enmity or condemnation resting upon mankind through sin was destroyed, and the condemned ones while "enemies", "reconciled to God by the death of His Son"--"justified by His blood."
But is not deadness to sin, or a ceasing to live any longer therein enjoined in Scripture?
It assuredly is enjoined, but not as the ground of "forgiveness of sins that are past": not as the basis for restored communion with God, at-one-ment: Not as the reconciling act which gives the sinner access to God: Not as taking the place of Christ's sacrifice for sins when he offered up himself without spot unto God.
When enjoining deadness to sin the apostle Paul addresses those who already believe in the ransom, and through it accept the forgiveness of sins; he addresses those, who, while they "were enemies were reconciled to God by the death of His Son"--"by whom we have now received the atonement." His argument is, we were enemies, "but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." He then asks, "Shall we [toward whom, as sinners, God's grace abounded through Jesus] continue in sin?" Not only so, but we, who have now received the atonement through Christ, have received with it the call or invitation to join our justified selves with Christ, and by becoming joint-sacrificers to become joint-heirs of divine nature and glory, with Him. What does our joint-sacrifice imply? It implies that as His was a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, our sacrifice being joined to his must be reckoned as for the sin of the world and not in any sense for our own sins. (See Tabernacle Teachings, pages 37-39.) And now the apostle's inquiry is: If we were honest in our consecration when we professed to be so much opposed to sin, and so sorry for its baneful results that we would join with Jesus to redeem the world and to wipe out sin--if we really meant all this: "How shall we, that are dead [consecrated to death] to sin [by, or on account of sin--see Diaglott] live any longer therein?" (`Rom. 5:10-20`; and `6:2`.) Knowing this: that our old man [human nature] is crucified with [Christ] that the body of sin [or of the sin-offering] might be destroyed." Hence, we should no longer be enslaved by the sin
*Really as old as Cain, who brought the sacrifice of his own labor as a ground of acceptance and communion with God, instead of the typical, slain lamb. `Gen. 4:3-5`.
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we died [consecrated] to abolish. "For he who died has been justified from sin." --Diaglott. That is to say, any who thus died or consecrated themselves to death with Christ, must first have been justified freely from all things by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." "In that he died, he died BY sin [or on account of sin, see Diaglott] once: but in that he liveth, he liveth by God"--because of God's promise and resurrection power. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed BY sin [or on account of sin, as sacrifices; see Diaglott,] but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. `Rom. 6:6-11`.
Hence, the statement that, Not the death of the Cross, but our death to sin, reconciles us to God, is the very opposite of the truth. The truth, as stated by the apostle is: Not our death to sin nor any works of the Law which we can do, could reconcile to God, but being reconciled by the death of His Son, while we were yet sinners and enemies, we love Him who first loved us, so that we detest and put away sin, and so far as possible cease to live any longer therein, but the rather now present our members as servants of righteousness unto sacrifice with Jesus, the Redeemer.
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EXCEPT A CORN OF WHEAT DIE.
"Verily, verily I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: But if it die it bringeth forth much fruit." `John 12:24`.
Thus beautifully and forcibly does Jesus teach the necessity for his death, and the results which shall follow. The grain of wheat was himself--"the man Christ Jesus." He was alone. All other men were either dead or dying--under condemnation to death and reckoned of God as dead already. `Rom. 5:15`. These were all imperfect decaying grains of wheat. Jesus alone, had life. He might have continued to live, there being no cause for death in him; he was holy, harmless, undefiled. But if he should carry out his original purpose, on account of which he had left the glory which he had with the Father and been made flesh" he would now die, as a grain of wheat in order that his life might be imparted to many--the first Adam and all his race.
It was while considering his death, and when he knew that the time or hour was about at hand, that Jesus used these words to his disciples to explain to them the necessity for his death--in order that the human race should be justified to life--"If it die it bringeth forth much fruit." Then realizing as no imperfect man could do, the greatness of the sacrifice which death (extinction), meant, he cried to God in agony saying (`John 12:27`) "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father save [spare] me from this hour" [from death]! Then remembering the Father's infinite Power, Wisdom, Love, Justice and exceeding great and precious promises made to him of a resurrection to a nature much higher than the one he was sacrificing, his FAITH in God triumphs and he adds: "But for this cause [or purpose] came I unto this hour: Father glorify thy name."
To Jesus, undeluded by Satan's sophistries, death was a bitter cup, he did not think of death as some of his deceived followers to-day think of it--as "the angel God hath sent." No, Jesus knew of DEATH as the great enemy of the race, which had laid low Adam and all his posterity, because permitted on account of sin. He knew that none thus far had ever gotten free entirely from death who ever passed under its dominion. Now he was here, a man to die for men, to give his life a ransom price for all who died through Adam's sin. The question then in Jesus' mind was, Can I become man's substitute and ransom price and then be given existence on a higher plane of being than that I surrender for men? Is God indeed able to do this greatest of all things? Is He able to do this which has never yet been done and bring back the same conscious existence which became extinct in death?
Faith questioned but for a moment, when his knowledge and past experience triumphed and he answers, Father, do as seemeth to Thee best. I will drink the cup. I will be obedient to thy will and plan, even unto death--"Father, glorify thy name" and carry out thy great plan I am ready to do the part assigned to me. For Jesus to have gone so far as he had gone and then to draw back and refuse to complete the covenant of sacrifice symbolized in his immersion, would have been sin and would have been forfeiting every right and promise. Jesus so expresses the matter in the succeeding `verse (25`). "He that loveth his life [that loves to keep it after having consecrated it to sacrifice] shall lose it; and he that hateth [is willing to sacrifice] his life in this world shall keep [have] it unto life eternal." And is not this doctrine as applicable to all the members of the consecrated priesthood as to the chief priest? The covenant of sacrifice must be actually fulfilled or all is lost.
The grain of wheat dies; it is no longer a grain of wheat. The other grains which partaking of its life become perfect grains, are none of them the grain which died. It is gone--gone forever as a grain of wheat. So Jesus was made FLESH in order that by God's favor he might taste death for mankind--that through or by means of His death the Adamic race might live. This teaches two things clearly and forcibly. First: as the grain that will grow up will be of the same kind as that which is planted and dies, so the being or existence secured to mankind by Jesus' sacrifice must be of the same kind as that which Jesus GAVE UP. He gave up himself-- a man; all his previous work had been preparatory to this, "For this cause [or purpose--sacrifice] came I unto this hour." Not only so, but as he was a PERFECT MAN the seeds which come as a result of his death, will, if they reach maturity be PERFECT also.
Secondly: as the grain which dies becomes forever extinct and never again has an existence as a grain, having wholly given itself to produce others of the same kind, so with Jesus whom the grain of wheat is used to illustrate: The man Christ Jesus--having become flesh for that very purpose, gave himself wholly--"gave all that he had" (`Matt. 13:44`) in order to produce others--in order to re-produce the human race lost in death through Adam. Thus he becomes the Father [life-giver] of humanity, as it is written; "He shall be called the everlasting Father." But he becomes FATHER at a great cost--He died that they might live as is taught by many Scriptures and here illustrated by the grain of wheat which gives itself wholly to produce others.
Here a little and there a little, is God's method of teaching. So Jesus would not only lead his disciples to study and search for truth, but he would thus hide for the present from the careless and worldly reader the riches of his favor and the beauty of his plan. So this statement relative to the grain of wheat touches only one side of the question-- the necessity of Jesus' death in order that he might become the source of life to others, that as by a man came death by a man also came the resurrection of the dead, (`1 Cor. 15:21`.) The Lord does not indicate in this statement his hope of a resurrection as a new creature; that is all omitted here though plainly taught elsewhere.
How clear and plain this is; how it shows just what was given and how completely given and the results to be expected. Great was the Teacher and wonderful the simplicity of His doctrine.
Now suppose there were but one sound perfect grain of wheat in the world, and we plant it. It dies, it is gone forever, but it bears a hundred fold of the same kind. Now we plant these one hundred grains, and suppose they also yield a hundred fold, then though they are gone, gone forever, and could never be found, yet their product--the result of that death, is ten thousand grains, of the same kind and we may truly say that the original one grain yielded ten thousand.
Let this illustrate God's dealings through Jesus. Jesus was the only perfect grain--the only perfect man; He gave himself--He died, giving up human rights and privileges, all that perfect human existence includes that thereby he might impart these rights to men.
During the Gospel age, the fruit of Jesus sacrifice has been, those who believed, who accepted of the life provided through his death. These have not actually partaken of his human perfection sacrificed on their behalf; they have not become actually perfect men and women, but they have become perfect human beings reckonedly. God reckons them as though they were perfect beings (and they should so reckon themselves), the perfection of the "grain of wheat" being counted to or imputed to all those who by faith accept and appropriate the rights and blessings which Jesus laid down for us.
These "grains" (believers) reckoned perfect through Jesus sacrifice are invited by him to do as he did--to follow his example--to die as grains of wheat [as men reckoned perfect], to lay down or sacrifice all their human rights and privileges, to suffer now with him, to become joint-sacrificers, and thus become joint-heirs with Him. Like Jesus, these will be gone forever as human beings, but instead, they shall have the great prize held out during this Gospel age; for not only shall they be made conformable unto His death, but they shall have share also in His resurrection [a resurrection to spiritual being]. `Phil. 3:10,11`.
Jesus addressed this class (believers) and explains the conditions on which the high calling may be obtained, when after telling of himself as the grain (`vs. 24,25`) he adds: "If any man will serve me, let him follow me;" [let him sacrifice the human nature to which he is justified by my sacrifice] "and" [I promise such followers a share of all that the Father shall give me.] "where I am there shall also my servant be [who follows my example]: If any man serve me [share with me in this service] him will my Father honor" (`John 12:26`).
These grains, (reckonedly perfect) following the example of the first grain are consecrated, and their death is reckoned as a PART of His death, and not of the Adamic death, (they having been justified out of and reckoned out of that.) And "if we be dead with Christ we believe that we shall also live with him" by a resurrection like his, to spiritual existence as "members of his body."
What will the harvest be--what the result of this planting in death of the man Christ Jesus and then of those justified through him? Great will be the harvest, all springing from the one grain-- the one perfect man who gave himself; for "since by man came death by man came also the resurrection of the dead." And "as [through] Adam [and Eve indirectly--God "called their name Adam] all die, even so, in [the] Christ shall all be made alive. `1 Cor. 15:21-22`.
The same thought is expressed by Paul when he speaks of filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. (`Col. 1:24`). And as seen in the "TABERNACLE TYPES, "the sacrifices of the "Day of Atonement" teach the same lesson--the bullock for the Priests and Levites (typical of believers now) and
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the goats representing the justified priests sacrificed for all "the people." Soon the day of Atonement (the Gospel Age) will be entirely past; the planting and dying will soon be at an end, and the glorious day of Millennial blessing, perfecting, ripening and harvesting of its fruits, will commence.
To us the grandest feature of our Father's plan is this election or selection of the "Body of Christ" through obedience to sacrifice, now in progress. The grand benevolence which thus offers to some of the fallen race not only redemption from sin and deliverance from its curse--death, but in addition holds out divine nature and honor as a reward for obedience, stamps the plan as divine, for who could have thought of such honor and glory had God not proposed it.
Thus seen the privileges of this Gospel Age--the privilege of sacrificing with Christ and thus becoming members of his body and sharers of his coming glory and work of restoring mankind to human perfection lost through Adam, is a wonderful privilege. Should we then shrink from it? Should we not with Jesus say: Amen, "Father glorify thy name"--Thy will be done. With Paul should we not count all these things but as loss and dross, IF BY ANY MEANS, we might win a place in the Anointed one?