ZWT - 1894 - R1611 thru R1747 / R1675 (227) - July 15, 1894
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
::R1675 : page 227::
VOL. XV. JULY 15, 1894. NO. 14.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
LABOR PANGS OF THIS KOSMOS.
"The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now,...waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God" in Kingdom power; for which we [the sons of God who are to be manifested for the blessing of all the families of the earth] also groan, praying, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven." --`Rom. 8:22,23,19`; `Matt. 6:10`.
NO one can be indifferent to the phenomenal times in which we are living; for although the rush and crush of business and pleasure continue, and even increasingly, there is, deep down in men's hearts, even at the theaters and sporting grounds, a feeling of unrest which cannot be better described than by the prophetic words of our Master,--"Men's hearts failing them for fear and for looking after [toward] those things coming upon the earth."
We who know what is coming are relieved from anxiety; for, although we see near us a dark night of intense trouble, such as has not been since there was a nation, we see also the glorious beyond--the Millennial day, which "lights the gloom with healing ray." We can wait patiently, although not without interest and deep concern, for the development of God's great Plan of the Ages, now so near its consummation.
It is interesting to look back and note the accuracy of the fulfilment of God's Word, so that our hearts may be established with the greater confidence respecting the future,--the things coming upon the earth. For instance, as we look back and note that the Scriptures marked 1873 as the end of six thousand years from Adam to the beginning of the seventh thousand, and the fall of 1874 as the beginning of the forty-year harvest of the Gospel age and day of wrath for the overthrow of all the institutions of "this present evil world [or order of affairs],"* we can see that facts have well borne out those predictions of Scripture. We see that the present world-wide distress had its beginning there; that it has been progressing with increasing momentum every year since; and that, as the Apostle Paul declared it would be, so it has been, and so it is--"As travail upon a woman with child." Each spasm of pain is more intense; and so it evidently will continue to be until the death of the present order of things and the birth of the new.
It might be presumed that all this would seem plain to us who have been so preaching and writing for nearly twenty years on these lines; but it will be interesting to our readers to note that now, twenty years after, others who have no knowledge of our writings, or of the prophecies upon which our expectations were and are based, are calling public attention to these very dates. Rev. Josiah Strong, D.D., a man of world-wide reputation as a thinker, calls attention to the year 1873, as laying the foundation of present troubles, saying:--
"Profound economic changes have attended the transition of the world's methods of production and distribution which has taken place during this century and more especially during
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chaps. 2, 6, 7; VOL. I., Chap. 15.
::R1675 : page 228::
the past twenty-five or thirty years. It is to this source we must look for some of the principle causes of popular discontent which has been pronounced ever since the commencement of the industrial depression which began in 1873 and affected all classes."
Even more widely known is Mr. Powderly, for years at the head of one of the chief labor organizations of this country: he places the date of the beginning of present labor disturbances as 1874--just following the financial strain of 1873 noted by Mr. Strong. Thus both gentlemen and both of their dates agree with the Scriptures. Mr. Powderly says: "Go back twenty years [to 1874], and you will find that the employer and employee had interests in common."
But Mr. Powderly's address, of which the above is a part, will all be interesting, and we quote it below, from the N.Y. World of July 2.
MR. POWDERLY'S ADDRESS.
T. V. Powderly, ex-General Master Workman of the Knights of Labor, spoke at Prohibition Park, Staten Island, yesterday, on the railroad strike and the coal strike of Pennsylvania. He carried the strain of total abstinence throughout his remarks.
"Until the laboring men of America," he said, "are made to realize that they carry their worst enemy with them in the shape of liquor, they will not solve the great problems that now confront them.
"You all probably have made up your minds that I am a very terrible sort of a man. You have read of the hundreds of strikes that I have ordered, strikes that have paralyzed the business of the country, and carried want into tens of thousands of homes. Standing here before you and before my God, I can say that I never ordered a strike in my life. All the strikes that I have been credited with ordering have been precipitated before I knew anything of them; and then I have, as leader, simply made the best of what I have always regarded as a very bad situation.
"We are all now intensely interested as to the outcome of the strike in the West. Every strike that takes place upon a line of railroad is a strike against the whole country. Our railroads
::R1676 : page 228::
are so closely identified with the life of the nation that when you stop any one of these arteries through which the life blood of the nation's prosperity flows you injure those whom you least expect to injure and whom you would least desire to harm.
"There is now a great feeling of unrest in this land. Go back twenty years and you will find that the employer and the employee had interests in common. But machinery, that Juggernaut which for good or for ill has crushed millions in its march of progress, has made men merely subordinates to it. Then, too, money has become centralized, and unheard-of fortunes are in the hands of individuals. There are twenty-four men in America to-day who possess more money than there was in the whole world when this country had the revolution which gave us a name and a flag.
"Taken altogether the brotherhood of man seems to be a long way off. Is it any wonder that men who are working for wages that will barely sustain life should take desperate measures to undo a wrong? There is a cause for all these labor demonstrations, whether they be right or wrong, and the cause is not of to-day or of yesterday, but one that has grown with the century.
"The great national highways, the railways, are as much the property of our Government to-day as were the old coach roads. There are many who believe that these railroad strikes, which during the past twelve years have become more extensive, will continue, doing more injury each time, and that there will be less chance of controlling them in the future, until we adopt a plan of national co-operation and run the railroads under the supervision of the United States Government, by and for the whole people.
"This strike to-day is not for wages, not for the recognition of any association or organization. It is a strike for the control of the arteries of trade and industry.
"If all the railroads could be nationalized, then all strikes upon them would be at an end, for every man, whether he be an employee of the railroad or not, would be an equal owner in it and equally interested in the system and equally anxious for its well being.
"These great labor problems will not be solved by the laboring men alone, however. Men and women not directly engaged in labor must act and vote so that they will be a power between what are now called the opposing forces."
After demonstrating the ridiculously low wages that the anthracite coal miners of Pennsylvania have been reduced to, Mr. Powderly said: "Place yourselves in their places. Ask yourselves whether you would go down into the mines every day to slave and toil for the purpose of supplying others with coal, when by your labor you could not supply your own household with the common necessities of life.
::R1676 : page 229::
"The day will come when these coal deposits, too, will be owned by the Government that represents the people, who must have the coal.
"Do you believe that God intended that six men sitting here in New York should dictate as to whether all the people should or should not have coal--whether they should be kept warm or cold; whether they should have their meat cooked or raw: by fixing prices to suit themselves? If I thought so, I would be a rank infidel.
"This may sound like Socialism. Well, there are Socialists, and there are men who think they are Socialists. I believe that at heart most of the people are Socialists to-day, for any man who believes that the social conditions need improvement is a Socialist."
A SOCIAL REVOLUTION.
All speak of the present world-wide troubles as "strikes;" but this name is not appropriate to present disturbances. Strikes are revolts against employers, because of real or fancied grievances, or for better pay, shorter hours, etc.; but recent uprisings such as that of the dock-men and coal-miners in England, a year ago, the recent general combination of coal-miners throughout the bituminous coal regions of the United States, and the present uprising of railway employees which is disturbing the comfort and welfare of millions, are not strikes,-- they are more, they are incipient revolutions. They do not express dissatisfaction with employers or wages; for between the employers and the so-called striking employees in many instances there is respect, if not friendship;-- but they do represent a rebellion against the present social system. They are "sympathy strikes," the employees often declaring that they have no grievances, but want to show sympathy with others whom they believe have grievances.
Laborers, mechanics and employees in general are beginning to realize what we pointed out twenty years ago (but what was then scoffed at), that machinery and invention, with the natural increase of the human family, would soon [under present social and financial arrangements] show an over-supply of humanity, because the power of profitable employment would be centralized in the hands of the few, who, operating under the general law of self-interest, would always employ the cheapest competent service; and thus the masses of humanity, being thrown into competition for the necessities of life, would soon become the slaves of the few--their very living necessities depending upon the charity of their employers in providing work. This is what we see in many parts of the old world;-- e.g., millions in China and India barely subsisting upon a wage of four cents per day.
This is the meaning of the "sympathy strikes:" the masses are realizing that their cause is one, and that if something be not done to alter the present social condition and its tendencies, they will become the chattel slaves of corporate wealth. They feel that what is done must be done soon, too; because each year the pinch becomes tighter and they fear that the time may come when they as a class will be too poor to strike or to offer any resistance to oppression; for already they feel as poor, with a wage of one dollar a day, as the East Indiaman does with four cents per day.
Can we wonder, then, at "sympathy strikes," no matter how unreasonable they may appear on the surface? Surely not: to those engaged it seems to be a question of life or death, socially. To them the future looks not only dark, but black, and without a ray of hope except through the methods now being pursued. And others, in other departments of life, equally hopeless, are only restrained from joining a general revolution by the well-grounded fear that the results would be worse than the present condition, and by the undefined and baseless hope that somehow matters will right themselves. Surely such conditions call for sympathy on all sides. And the people of God, who have gained the good hope of the Gospel of God's Word, can sympathize heartily with these hopeless ones, and should point them to the only real remedy, the Kingdom of God, and earnestly continue to pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
And then can we not also sympathize with the rich and those who employ labor? Surely this is their day of trouble in an especial degree, as said the Prophet and the Apostle. (`Zeph. 1:14-18`; `Jas. 5:1-6`.) Present conditions are not, as is sometimes claimed, the result of special legislation secured in their favor, but the result of increased knowledge, and with it, increased ambition. (`Dan. 12:4`.) The case is like that of an outgrown shoe: once it was a comfortable fit and a desirable shoe; but now it pinches;--not because the shoe has grown narrower and shorter, but because the foot has grown larger. So the metes and bounds of the present social order, that once were easy and favorable, now pinch;--not because they are being contracted, for the reverse is the case: they are being stretched in every direction. They can never again prove easy, however, but will prove more and more distressing, because the general increase of knowledge daily increases the desires and discontents of the masses.
Evidently the rich men are not to be blamed for this, even though they be blameworthy for not recognizing the changed conditions and adapting themselves thereto. Indeed, only millionaires
::R1676 : page 230::
could do anything out of the current of social and financial custom. Others are powerless: the average mine-operator, storekeeper, and manufacturer is so beset with competition and with maturing debts that even an attempt to change from the rut of present custom would mean financial suicide--the wreck of his own business and that of others more or less dependent upon its prosperity. Indeed, we may safely say that the majority of this influential class of busy brain-workers recognize the situation and would rejoice if they could see any feasible method of bringing about a moderate change. And yet in times of strikes and riots, when their business is most disturbed, and when they feel themselves close to the brink of financial ruin, these men cannot call out for public sympathy as can the laborers and strikers; they cannot tell their distress, because to do so would be to spoil their credit and only hasten their ruin. And these men also deserve the sympathy of all who "look not every man upon his own things [troubles and interests], but also upon the things of others."--`Phil. 2:4`.
But, as selfishness is the basis of the present social system, so love must be the basis of the new and better order; and that radical change can only come about by the sound conversion of the majority of the people to God and his plan (which is not supposable under present conditions), or the interposition of divine power and law,--the very thing which the Scriptures predict. What can we advise? To all the "brethren" we say, "Have patience, brethren;" "avenge not yourselves;" they that take to the sword will suffer therefrom the more themselves.
::R1677 : page 230::
Trust in the Lord, wait patiently for him, and he will bring to pass in his due time and way (the best time and way) all the gracious promises of his Word--including the blessing of all the families of earth.
We see the various inequalities and wrongs of the present system of society more clearly than others, because we see them from the standpoint of the Lord's Word; but we can see also that, if it were within our power to suddenly revolutionize matters, that would be undesirable: it would produce a condition far worse than the present. Far better the present social system than none; and far better, while the present system continues, that the power remain in the hands of men of judgment and moderation than that the lever of power be suddenly transferred into the hands of the rash and inexperienced masses, unused to weighty responsibilities, and mere novices and experimenters upon all questions, social and financial. A thousand times better is a social system in the hands of education and experience, even though selfish, than no social system, or an experimental one in the hands of novices equally selfish, but not equally moderate. We much prefer then to stay as long as we can where we are than to change to any other arrangement that men can originate, or assist in any way to precipitate the trouble which sooner or later must inevitably involve all nations and all individuals.
Better, far better, wait on the Lord,--wait until his time for establishing his Kingdom and have it come about in his way. He will eventually restrain the forces of evil and selfishness in both rich and poor and bring in equity and everlasting righteousness.
So, then, although we know that the revolution and anarchy and trouble are surely coming, let us, "brethren" of Christ, do nothing to promote or hasten it. Let our advice be to the contrary, to any of our friends who seek our counsel. Especially let us improve the opportunity for pointing out to them the true and only remedy for present distress--Christ's Kingdom and its new social order under the law of Love. And, to all who have ears to hear, preach Christ the Redeemer, soon, as the Great Physician, to be the Restorer of all who cheerfully obey him. Point him out as now our Savior, your Savior. Tell them of the joy and peace and blessing which he gives and which he promises shall abide with us in every condition. Tell them that it is for this reason that "We will not fear though the earth [society] be removed; though the mountains [governments] be removed and carried into the midst of the sea [the ungovernable masses]; though the waters [the people] thereof roar and be troubled; though the mountains [governments] shake with the swellings [riots, tumults, etc.] thereof."
And if they become interested and willing, lead them to the Lamb of God and the streams of truth that make glad the true people of God, --and if they be converted to God, seal them in the forehead (mind, intellect) with the wonderful present truth with which God has caused us to be sealed.--`Rev. 7:3`.
Remember that now is the time to be active co-workers with God in doing this sealing work, and that the disturbing winds are being held back until the sealing work is done. Therefore, when the present disturbances pass away and another season of comparative calm follows, continue earnest and zealous in the sealing work, knowing that the time is short and that "the night [the darker period] cometh when no man can work." We must labor while it is called day, and cannot hope for a more favorable opportunity than the present. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life," is the promise.
::R1677 : page 231::
"ANGELS WHICH KEPT NOT THEIR FIRST ESTATE."
"The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose....And they bare children to them; the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown."--`Gen. 6:2,4`.
THE Scriptures not only point us to the future age and call the spiritual government of Christ which shall then exist a "new heavens," and earthly society and institutions under it a "new earth," but the present spiritual rulership (under Satan, "the prince of this world"), with the earthly institutions under it, is termed "the present evil world," dispensation or epoch.* Moreover, we are informed that the present dominion of evil has not always existed, but that it was preceded by a still different dispensation or epoch, spoken of as "the world that was before the flood," which also had a heavens, or spiritual ruling power, and an earth, or condition of men subject to that spiritual dominion.
The three worlds mentioned by Peter (`2 Pet. 3:6,7,13`) designate these three great epochs of time. In each, God's plan with reference to men has a distinct and separate outline, yet each is but a part of the one great plan which, when complete, will exhibit the divine wisdom, justice, love and power, to the wonder and admiration of all his creatures.
Since that first "world" (heavens and earth, or that order of things) passed away at the time of the flood, it follows that it must have been a different order from the present, and hence that the prince of this present evil world was not the prince of that order which preceded this --the dispensation before the flood--however widely his influence was then exerted and felt.
Several Scriptures throw light on God's dealings during that first dispensation, and give clearer insight into his plan as a whole. The thought suggested by these is, that the first world (the dispensation before the flood) was under the supervision and special ministration of the angels; who were permitted to do what they could and desired to do to recover and rule the fallen race, which, because of sin, needed a government other than its own.
That angels were the rulers of that epoch is not only indicated by all references to that period, but may be reasonably inferred from the Apostle's remark when contrasting the present dispensation with the past and the future. He endeavors to show both the righteousness and the enduring character of the future rulership of the world, saying, "The world to come hath he not put in subjection to the angels." No, it is put under the control of our Lord Jesus and his joint-heirs, and hence it shall not only be more righteous than the present rule of Satan, but it shall be more successful than was the previous rule by the angels.--`Heb. 2:2,5`.
In their original estate all the angels, it seems, possessed the ability to appear in earthly forms.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chapter iv.
::R1678 : page 231::
Thus Satan appeared to Eve as a serpent, or acting through a serpent. Other angels frequently appeared as men, thus performing their ministry, appearing or disappearing, as the work demanded.
It was at this time, it seems, that the fall of some of the angels occurred. It is a common supposition, though we think without foundation, that the fall of Satan's angels occurred before man's creation. We are told that Satan was a murderer (man-killer) from the beginning. (`John 8:44`.) Certainly not the beginning of his own existence, for every creation coming from God's hand is perfect; nor can we think any other beginning referred to than man's beginning, in Eden. But, so far as we are informed, he was then alone and had no followers or angels.
The ambition of Satan, one of the mighty angels, to become a ruler seems to have developed as he beheld the first human pair with their procreative powers, and the grand possibilities of an extended dominion through their posterity. He probably reasoned that, if he could obtain the control of this man, he would have the dominion over all his offspring, and be in power and influence above others--a rival of Jehovah himself; and his growing ambition said, "I will be like the Most High."--`Isa. 14:14`.
Successful in contaminating the stream at its source, Satan gained a great influence over the race; but his power over them was limited because of the competition of the great company of angels, who, as guardians, instructed and ruled mankind for a time in harmony with the will of God. But man's corruption was contagious, and some of these angelic rulers soon fell victims to the plague: left their own habitation, or condition as spiritual beings, keeping not their first or original estate. They misused the powers which they possessed, of assuming a human form, and became of a reprobate and licentious mind, copying after degenerate man, and started a new race of men in the world, as the above text (`Gen. 6:2-4`) affirms.
This Scripture is applied by some to two classes of men--one class, more righteous than the other, called "sons of God." But such a position is untenable; for it is not a sin for one
::R1678 : page 232::
man to take for a wife another man's daughter. Marriage among men is never in the Scriptures condemned as sinful. On the contrary, it was ordained of God, and has always had his sanction. (`Gen. 2:24`; `Heb. 13:4`.) Our Lord attested his approval by his presence at the marriage in Cana. (`John 2:1-11`.) Neither is the propagation of the race, under proper conditions, condemned as sinful. God commanded it, that the earth might be filled with a race of beings generated from one pair, and in order that the redemption of the race might be secured by the obedience and sacrifice of one--Christ. (`Gen. 1:28`; `Rom. 5:19`.) However, those to whom the Lord has granted a knowledge of his truth sometimes forego marriage, as they deny themselves many other earthly rights and privileges "for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake" (`Matt. 19:12`), if they consider that thereby a more efficient service may be rendered to the Lord.*
Again, if it were merely a union of two classes of the same race, why should the offspring be specially called "men of renown?" If the righteous and the wicked marry to-day, are their children therefore giants or mightier or more renowned men?
Through the deterioration of several hundred years, mankind had lost much of its original vigor and perfection of mind and body; but with the angels it was different. Their powers were still perfect and unimpaired; hence it is clear that their children would partake of that vitality and much more resemble the first perfect man than those around them, among whom they would be giants both in physical and mental strength.
Those angels which kept not their first condition, but sought the level of sinful men, and left their own habitation, or spiritual condition, God placed in age-lasting chains. That is, God restrained or limited their powers, taking from them the power and privilege of appearing in an earthly form, human or other. Hence, though we know that they did thus appear before the flood, there is not one instance recorded in which they have been able to free themselves from this restraint or chain since. On the contrary, the angels who left not their first estate are not so restrained, and have appeared frequently as men, as a flame of fire, as a pillar of cloud, etc., as recorded in both the Old and New Testament Scriptures.
Having become depraved in their tastes, and being given over to a reprobate mind, and debarred from all association with God and his works and plan, these fallen angels have no longer any pleasure in things on the spiritual plane, but crave association with depraved mankind and a participation with men in sin. How wise and kind the Almighty hand which has restrained their power and influence over men, by preventing their personal intercourse! Now, they may indeed enter and act through any who invite their companionship, as spirit mediums, but no more can they do. Thus far shalt thou go, saith the Almighty, but no further. This is the explanation of what is known as Spiritism.
Some of this class, possessed by devils, our Lord and his disciples met in their ministry. Out of one he cast a legion of devils. (`Mark 5:1-15`.) Anxious in some manner to become associated with humanity, yet unable to assume human form because restrained, when they found a man willing to have such company, a legion crowded into him, thereby making him a maniac. Even when they perceived that the Lord would release the man from their possession, they in despair requested as a favor that they might be permitted to inhabit and use the bodies of a herd of swine near by. But the swine were crazed thereby, and madly rushed into the sea.
`Jude (6,7`) gives conclusive evidence on the subject, and clearly shows the nature of the sin for which the fallen angels were condemned and restrained, when, after mentioning the angels who sinned, he says, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah,...IN LIKE MANNER giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh." That God prohibits any mixture or blending of natures, and designs that each should keep its own original or first estate is clearly taught by this passage and also by `Lev. 18:23`; `20:15,16`. And that our race as it exists to-day, coming through Noah, is purely Adamic stock, and contains no mixture, is shown by the expression--"These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation,"--i.e., not contaminated in the manner before described.--`Gen. 6:9`.
Glancing back, then, we see the first epoch under angelic control, the inability of those angels to lift man out of his fallen condition, and the debasing influence of man's continued degradation upon some of the angels. The angels were utterly unable to accomplish the great work of man's recovery. Doubtless they were anxious to do it, for they sang and shouted for joy at his creation. God let them try it, and it was doubtless part of their trial and discipline, but they failed. Some joined the ranks of evil, while the rest stood by powerless to arrest the terrible course of sin. Later we find the good angels still interested, desiring to look into the plan which God has since been working out, and ever ready to do his bidding in our service. (`1 Pet. 1:12`.) Thus was proven to
*See issue of July '93--"Man and Woman in God's Order."
::R1678 : page 233::
both men and angels the futility of angelic power to save men.
In the beginning of "this present evil world," notwithstanding Noah's endeavor to serve God and to teach his posterity to follow his example, and the exhibition of God's judgment in the deluge, the tendency was still downward; and soon the wickedness of Sodom brought its destruction. Mankind were bent on an evil course, and God permitted them to take it. Then the ministration of angels, except to the few of God's children, was withdrawn; and now, instead of sending heavenly messengers to declare to us his will, he has given us his Word, "that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished [thereby] unto all good works."--`2 Tim. 3:16,17`.
Ever since the fall, God's plan has been gradually and quietly developing, and in due time will bear abundant fruit unto eternal life; and he has now demonstrated to all his creatures that his plan is the only one which could accomplish the great work. It selects and tests first of all the "little flock," the Royal Priesthood, and then reaches out to lift up and restore all who will accept life upon God's conditions.
THE SPIRITS IN PRISON.
"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but quickened in the spirit. By which also [in addition to this work done for us] he preached to the spirits in prison; which sometime [before] were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah."--`1 Pet. 3:18-20`. See Diaglott, foot note.
A satisfactory interpretation of this Scripture has long been sought, and but few have found a solution perfectly consistent and satisfying even to themselves. But in view of the truth gleaned from the suggestions of the preceding article, the above statements of the Apostle Peter become luminous.
The two views of this passage commonly held we state first, and then give our present view of it.
The most common view is, that during the time that Jesus was entombed he was off on a missionary tour preaching to the antediluvian sinners who were suffering torture in a supposed place called hell.
If its advocates would consider it, they would find that their interpretation favors a view of future probation for the antediluvians, a thing which they strenuously oppose. For if Christ preached to them it must have been for some purpose. Surely it was not merely to mock and deride them. Consequently he must have preached a message of hope--a part of his blessed "good tidings of great joy." And if there is a future for the antediluvians, why not accept our position as correct--that in Christ
::R1679 : page 233::
"all families of the earth shall be blessed?"
This is the objection which consistency would urge against this view, from the standpoint of those who hold it. But if we view it from the Scriptural standpoint, and with the correct idea of death and "hell," we must reason that if Jesus were really dead during those three days, as the Apostles declare, then he could do no preaching; for "the dead know not anything" (`Eccl. 9:5`), and "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave." (`Eccl. 9:10`.) Second, If Jesus had been an exception to the rule, and could have preached, the antediluvians could not have heard; for certainly they have no wisdom, nor knowledge, in the grave. Hence this view is found generally unsatisfactory and as well as unscriptural.*
The second view, and the one which seemed most reasonable to us until the considerations of the preceding article threw light upon this scripture also, is to refer the preaching to that which Noah did under the direction of the Spirit of God to the antediluvians, who at this time were imprisoned in death. The objection to this view is, that the preaching was not to men, nor to the spirits of men, but to spirits, spirit beings; and the preaching was not done by Noah, nor by the Spirit of God, nor before the flood, but after they had been chained,-- by the death and resurrection of our Lord.
It seems very clear, therefore, that the spirits are those spirit beings who were disobedient during the days of Noah, and whom God therefore imprisoned or restrained in some of their former liberties and privileges, even "those angels who kept not their own principality, but left their own habitation [or normal condition]. He has kept them in perpetual chains [restraints], under thick darkness, for the judgment of the great day."--`Jude 6`, Diaglott.
This interpretation seems to meet all the circumstances of the case thus far. Now we inquire, In what way could our Lord preach to those spirits during the time he was dead? We answer that it is not so stated. It was by the facts that he preached, as we sometimes say that "actions speak louder than words." It was by his sufferings, death and resurrection that the preaching was done. Thus, as Jesus went from step to step in his work, his course was preaching a good sermon to those angels who once had been placed in control of man, and had themselves fallen, instead of lifting up mankind. In Jesus they saw exemplified obedience even unto death, and its reward--resurrection to spiritual being of the divine nature. Such was the great text; and the lesson from it is stated
*For a full treatment of the subject of "hell," future punishment, etc., see our issue of Feb. 1-15, '93. Concerning "immortality" see issue of Apr. 15, '94.
::R1679 : page 234::
by the Apostle (`1 Pet. 3:22`), viz., that Jesus was now highly exalted and given a name (title) above every name, that he was "gone into heaven, and is at the right hand of God [the position of highest favor]; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him." They knew Jesus before he left the glory of the heavenly condition and became a man. They knew the object of his self-sacrifice as a man. They saw him obedient even unto death, and then that his high exaltation came as a reward. (`Phil. 2:9`.) They must have felt keenly their loss through disobedience, being cut off from communion with God, restrained as unworthy of former liberty and communion with the purer minded of mankind, and their own future an unsolved mystery. We can but imagine that sorrow and chagrin filled their hearts, as they contrasted their course of disobedience and its results with our Lord's obedient course and its grand results. We can fancy at least some of them saying, Would that we had realized before, as fully as we now do, the wide contrast between the results of obedience and disobedience. Would that we might have another trial: with our increased knowledge, our course would be very different.
A clear distinction should be borne in mind, as between Satan and these angels. Satan evidently sinned against great light, so that infinite wisdom finds no place to do more for him, and his ultimate destruction is clearly predicted. --`Heb. 2:14`.
But did not the Lord, in `Matt. 25:41`, declare eternal torment to be the punishment awaiting these fallen spirit beings? No: this scripture cannot be used as an argument against a hope for a probation for the imprisoned spirits; for though, by force of circumstances and restraint from any other service, they are now Satan's angels--messengers or servants--yet they may not always continue such, if an opportunity be granted them to return to God's service and be angels of God. This passage relates to the "lake of fire" or destruction (`Rev. 20:10`),* into which, at the close of the Millennial age, all are to be cast, who are out of harmony with God. Satan will be of those cast into that everlasting destruction, and with him all who do unrighteousness or have pleasure therein --all of whom, spirits or men, are reckoned to be on his side, his angels or messengers. All evil-doers shall be cut off from life. To cut off such, and such only, was God's plan from the beginning. The wilfully wicked and not the merely ignorant, misled, blinded or deceived are meant when it is said, "All the wicked will God destroy."
*See our issue of Feb. '93.
THE PROBATION OF ANGELS.
Will those "spirits in prison," "those angels which kept not their first estate," and who received such a powerful lesson from the ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord, ever have an opportunity to profit by those lessons? will they ever have an opportunity to repent of their sin, to leave Satan's service and to return to loyalty to God?
If at first we thought the Scriptures were silent on the subject, we have found that to be a mistake; and when God speaks we may reasonably conclude there is something profitable for us to hear. Hence, let us give ear that we may learn whatever our Father deems expedient to communicate.
`Jude (verse 6`) informs us that those angels which committed fornication and went after strange flesh, "also," "in like manner" to the Sodomites (`verse 7`), God is keeping under restraint (as a penalty or punishment) "unto the judgment of the great day." The "great day" is the Millennial Day, and mankind is also waiting for this judgment (krisis--trial). The Apostle Peter's testimony is in harmony (`2 Pet. 2:4`); and St. Paul settles the matter that these fallen and now imprisoned spirit beings, as well as mankind, will have a trial under the reign of Christ--the Church, the Kingdom of God in exalted power. Speaking of the impropriety of the saints appealing to earthly courts of justice for adjustment of their difficulties, he says, "Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world?...Know ye not that we shall judge angels?" (`1 Cor. 6:1-4`.) The Greek word here rendered "judge," is krino, of the same root as krisis, rendered "judgment" in `Jude 7`, and signifies, to govern, to test, as to mete out to each individual blessings or stripes, according to the merit of his course when brought fully into the light of truth, and under all the blessings of the reign of Christ. Thus it is seen that it will be part of the work of the Christ to rule over and direct both human and angelic sinners--"to judge the world" of fallen men, now restrained in death, from which they have been redeemed, and also fallen spirits, restrained alive until this judgment or trial of the Great Millennial Day, when the Church under the headship of her Lord shall try their cause also, giving everlasting life and favor to those who shall then prove themselves worthy of it, and everlasting destruction to those unworthy.
Besides, we find frequent references to a work Christ is to do in subjecting heavenly or spiritual, as well as human powers, when the Church has been selected and the work of judging and blessing is commenced. For instance, we
::R1679 : page 235::
read (`Eph. 1:10`), "In the dispensation of the fulness of times, to re-establish [under God's dominion and law] all things in Christ [the disordered things] that are in heaven [spiritual] and on earth [human] in him."--Douay translation. Again, "In him it hath well pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, and through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace by the blood of his cross, both as to the things on earth, and the things in heaven"--earthly and spiritual transgressors. --`Col. 1:20`.--Douay.
In `Eph. 3:8-10`, it is shown that the length and breadth of God's redemptive plan has been hidden by God until the Gospel age, when the apostles were commissioned to declare to men the conditions upon which they might become sharers with Christ in the execution of God's loving plans; and the intent is, ultimately, to have all the heavenly or spiritual beings know, through the instrumentality of the Church, the boundless wealth that is in God's great gift-- His Son--and the different methods and steps his wisdom marked out for all his creatures. We quote the passage from the Diaglott translation:--
"To me, the very lowest of the saints, was this favor given--to announce among nations the glad tidings--the boundless wealth of the Anointed One: even to enlighten all as to what is the [method of] administration [or operation] of that secret [plan] which has been concealed from the ages by that God who created all things; in order that now [henceforth] may be made known to governments and the authorities in the heavenlies, through [the instrumentality of] the congregation [the Church] the much diversified wisdom of God, according to a plan of the ages," "which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord."
It would appear, then, that God's bountiful plan and diversified wisdom contains something of interest to the angels, and, if of interest to any, of special interest to those confined or restrained, and awaiting a trial in the judgment of the great day. They see the saints and seek to look into things revealed by the Spirit and Word to these; but in no other way can they learn of their future, or of what provision has been made for them in the boundless wealth and diversified wisdom of God, because it is to be "made known" "through the Church."
These condemned angels have been learning much since the first text and sermon;--not only the lesson of our Lord's obedience and exaltation (`1 Pet. 3:18-20`; `1 Tim. 3:16`), but also of his followers; for we read that "we are made a spectacle both to angels and to men." (`1 Cor. 4:9` --Diaglott.) The spectacle and lesson are to both men and angels for the reason that both men and angels will shortly be judged by the Church, and blessed by it, if found obedient and worthy of life. When the testimony in due time is given, all things, both in heaven (the spiritual condition) and on earth (the human), shall bow to Jehovah's Anointed and confess him their Lord and Ruler; and those who refuse obedience to his righteous authority shall be cut off, as unworthy of life.--`Isa. 45:23`; `Rom. 14:11`; `Acts 3:23`.
The angels that sinned in the days of Noah have had a bitter experience since: no doubt
::R1680 : page 235::
death would have been preferable in many respects. Cut off from association with good angels, and placed in companionship of each other and Satan, without God and having no hope, they must have had a terrible experience with sin's demoralizing effects, while their observation of mankind, dying on account of sin, would lead them to surmise that death might ultimately be their portion also. That such was the fear of these unclean spirits is evidenced by the protest of one whom the Lord cast out: "Art thou come to destroy us?" (`Mark 1:24`; `Luke 4:34`; `Matt. 8:29`.) But this no more proves that their suppositions were correct, than the belief of millions of professed Christians, that nine-tenths of humanity will be everlastingly tormented, proves that to be so. The fact is, we find that Satan, who taught men thus to blaspheme God's character through misrepresentation of his plan, was the master and chief over these cast-down spirits; and evidently he had misrepresented Jehovah's plan to the imprisoned spirits as he has to men. He is the father of lies.
Neither can we forget their respectful conduct toward our Lord and his apostles, and the message they delivered; far more respectful indeed than that of the strictest sect of the Jewish Church. While the latter scoffed and said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph?" (`John 6:42`), the former exclaimed, "Thou art the Son of God." (`Mark 3:11`.) While the former said, "Thou hast a devil and art mad," the latter said, "I know thee who thou art, the holy one of God."--`Mark 1:24`.
The "legion," which had crazed the Gadarene, worshiped him, acknowledging him to be "Son of the Most High God."--`Mark 5:6,7`.
While they respected the true, they opposed the false, saying to some who pretended to exercise power--"Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was, leaped on them and overcame them."--`Acts 19:15`.
The Jews and Gentiles beat and stoned the messengers of God, when they came among them with the glad tidings of salvation; but
::R1680 : page 236::
some of these fallen angels seemed desirous of spreading the glad tidings. One followed the apostles, saying, "These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us [angels and men] the way of salvation."--`Acts 16:17`.
THE BASIS OF THEIR HOPE.
But an important question now arises. The Scriptures show us that man's hope centers in the fact that a ransom-price was given for our sins; but what is the basis of hope for these fallen angels? On what ground can they have a trial and a hope of everlasting life? Did our Lord die for them?
We are not so informed: The ransom-sacrifice was human, a ransom for men. "Verily," says Paul, "he took not on him the nature of angels," etc. (`Heb. 2:16`.) Furthermore, they were not under condemnation to death, and hence have never lost their life in any measure, and need no ransom from death. It was because the sentence of death had passed upon men that a ransom was necessary in order that we might regain life. Those angels which kept not their first estate were condemned, not to death, but to restraint and confinement, until a day of trial, when God will judge both men and angels in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained. (`Acts 17:31`.) They are therefore undergoing their penalty as truly as man is suffering his, though the penalties be very different in kind,--"according to the much diversified wisdom of God."
And yet they had a great interest in our Lord's sacrifice; for though they were not being redeemed, bought by the precious blood, as was man, and did not need to be, not being under condemnation to death, yet their hope centered in the power which he should gain through his exaltation to the divine nature, in consequence of his obedience even unto death, to judge and restore them in due time.
Again, if we have a correct view of the matter, that these angels had been tempted and seduced by evil men, which had become very great (`Gen. 6:5`), we may see how the reconciliation accomplished by the blood of the cross for man could apply to and cancel both direct and indirect guilt, if it resulted from the one man's disobedience and was not consented to by the will of the sinner. So that now we are assured in the words of the Apostle, "It pleased the Father,...having made peace [propitiation--satisfaction] through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile unto himself all things [out of harmony];...whether things in earth, or things in heaven."-- `Col. 1:20`.
GOD'S COMPREHENSIVE LAW.
God's wisdom, love and justice decide on what is best, and that decision is his will or law. But, strictly speaking, only so much of God's will as he expresses to his creatures is law to them. Hence, while his laws never conflict, they may be more or less fully expressed on one occasion than on another.
All of God's intelligent creatures are under instruction, being taught those laws which his infinite love, wisdom and justice have enacted for the well-being of all. Though created perfect, each in his plane of being, yet they all lack that scope of knowledge and wisdom which belongs in full measure to the divine nature only. They all lack experience; hence, in giving them instruction in the wisdom and propriety of his laws, it has pleased Jehovah to make an illustration which would manifest and practically exemplify his own character and prove to his creatures the wisdom and righteousness of his laws.
It is evident that the spirit of his law is not to take advantage of some transgressive slip, occasioned by lack of experience on the part of his creatures, but that he intends it to apply to the thoughts and intents of the hearts. That this is the real intent of God, we shall see illustrated by his dealings with those who have from lack of knowledge become sinners.
His law in full, as we now see it in the light of his Word, is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, mind, soul and strength," and "thy neighbor as thyself;" and the penalty attached to the slightest deviation from that law is, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die;"--that no being shall be permitted to live, who, when fully informed of God's righteous will, and enabled to obey it, shall not conform thereto; that all such be cut off from life. But this is as it may be seen now. Once it was not so clearly expressed, nor so clearly seen.
To fully exemplify this law, God caused man to be used as an illustration before this extreme penalty was placed upon the angels. So man was placed under the extreme penalty of his law--death; God knew that through inexperience man would violate that law and come under its penalty; but he purposed to make an illustration to all his creatures of the exceeding sinfulness of sin and its sure consequences, while at the same time his love and wisdom so marked out the plan, that mankind, the illustration, might not suffer loss, but be blessed by the lesson as learned.
Nor should we forget that God's dealing with man was perfectly just. He had a right to demand perfect obedience from a perfect creature; and the fact that he at first did not inflict death
::R1680 : page 237::
upon the angels was a favor toward them; even as toward man he has displayed his favor also, though in a different manner--through a ransom, and Savior, and restitution, and future trial for life, more favorable than the first, because of the knowledge of sin and its effects, meanwhile acquired by experience. This was a masterly stroke of wise economy on God's part; for had the death penalty been pronounced on the angels who sinned, a redeemer of their own kind would have been necessary for their recovery; and not only one, but many--one redeemer for each transgressor; for they were legion and were individually on trial; and the requirement of God's law is, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life.
Let us briefly view the exhibition of God's character as displayed in his dealing toward mankind whom he made a spectacle to angels. (`1 Cor. 4:9`.) In so doing, let us guard against the common error which judges of God's actions exactly as of our own. Let us remember that justice, love, wisdom and power, as commonly displayed by the fallen race, in dealing with each other, and by human parents with their children, are far from perfect. In our first parents those qualities were perfect: they were in the image of Jehovah; but in our experience, in consequence of the fall, these qualities are constantly at war with each other. Sometimes love has a victory over justice, and sometimes justice has a victory over love.
But with Jehovah there can be no conflict; and neither ever gains a victory or ascendancy over the other. Both are perfect, and work only in perfect harmony.
Before man was created, the Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power of God held conference on the subject, and devised the plan which has since then been developing. The plan was suggested by Wisdom and concurred in by the other attributes; the arrangement and execution of it being left in Wisdom's hands.
Wisdom designed to have the largest returns from the experience of man, and the most valuable illustration of God's character to all his creatures, on every plane of being. Accordingly Wisdom said, Let the man come under the control of Justice, Love and Power, separately, that the force and operation of each may be the more forcibly illustrated. Let Justice first have complete control, let men be dealt with by the strict law, "Thou shalt not"--. "In the day that thou dost...dying thou shalt die." And it was so.
Man, inexperienced and unused to self-control and liberty, violated the law, and experienced the full weight of Justice, as Wisdom had foreseen and prepared for.
The lesson under Justice has been long and severe, but the lesson must be thorough, so that
::R1681 : page 237::
it shall never need repeating. Men and angels must learn that Justice is relentless, irrevocable and unalterable. Then, too, before it could be realized that the remedy for man lay only in Jehovah and nowhere else, an opportunity was offered for the trial of other methods for man's recovery. First, the angels were given rulership (during the age before the flood), and made a miserable failure; for, while man became more and more corrupt himself, his evil influence led to the fall of some of those who attempted his assistance--"those angels which kept not their first estate."
With the deluge that order of affairs passed away. Then, under the Law Covenant, given to one selected nation, another and different opportunity was presented, to prove to man that even if God should cancel all enmity, or resentment, and receive the world into covenant relations, they would require a Restorer, so that they could continue in harmony with God, even after being forgiven. Hence sacrifices and offerings for sin were instituted, and God treated that nation as though original sin and guilt had been removed, and then placed them under laws to prove to them, to us and to all, their inability (as degenerate creatures) to keep his law without a restitution to perfection--to his likeness.
Meanwhile Love stood ready to manifest itself at the moment Wisdom should give the word. Love would have done so at once, but for two reasons: First, it could not oppose or interfere with the action of Justice in condemning man and delivering him over for the execution of the prescribed penalty. Second: though Love might have acknowledged Justice and approved its action by promptly providing a ransom (an equivalent price), Wisdom objected and did not permit this course at that time, because it saw best to make the lesson complete and thorough.
Hence for over four thousand years Love was not permitted to manifest itself, and might only speak in shadowy sacrifices and ceremonies, and more or less obscure promises. But, finally, when the right time had come, "in due time," "in the fulness of time," Wisdom gave the word, and Love began to manifest itself for man's relief. The first act was to produce a perfect and sinless man to be a suitable "ransom for all:" one not under the Adamic curse --who would lay down his life for the race, and whose sacrifice would meet all the requirements of Justice, and therefore be acceptable as a ransom and propitiation for man's sins. And Love's great exhibition was seen in the gift of the grandest and greatest and first of all God's
::R1681 : page 238::
creation, who stooped and became man, to redeem men: and "they called his name Jesus."
"Ah!" says one who judges by his own feelings, "Now comes Love's victory over Justice. We shall see that God is more loving than severe."
But not so; God is not more loving than severely just: he is perfect in both respects. It will be indeed a victory for Love, but not over Justice. It will be much grander than that. It will prove a victory for both Justice and Love; for it will be gained by Love's paying the price demanded by Justice--a ransom, "an equivalent price." (`1 Tim. 2:4-6`.) The love of God, so long veiled from sight, was manifested in the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer and Savior. The record is: "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation [satisfaction or appeasement] for our sins." "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."
When Love had ransomed man, and was ready to reveal itself by restoring the willing and obedient of mankind to perfection and harmony with God, Wisdom postponed this on the ground that a further development of the plan would ultimately enhance Love's glory, and perfect the work: that an interlude (the Gospel age) must occur in which should be selected some from among the redeemed, some sharers in Christ's sufferings and reproach, who should be counted worthy to share his glory and to be his associates in the execution of Love's triumph in "the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets."
Long and faithfully has Love labored; but all her labor will yet be lost, unless in due time Wisdom shall commission Power to do its special part in the great plan.
Power thus far has stood in the background, doing nothing directly in man's relief, save in the resurrection of our Lord, and in the miracles which shadowed forth its coming work.
Now, we are living in the day when Power begins to act, not in opposition to Justice, but in harmony with Wisdom, Justice and Love. Oh, blessed day! The Lamb that was slain and who redeemed us by his blood is now invested with Power to bless all whom he bought; and he is now about taking unto himself his great power, and shall reign until he has subdued all enemies.--`Rev. 20:6`; `1 Cor. 15:25`.
God has chosen the plan which most fully and grandly exemplifies his unalterable justice, and exhibits the exceeding riches of his grace --his love; and in the restoration of man ("all who come to the Father by him") from destruction, from death, to perfection and life, will God's power be illustrated far more forcibly than even in man's creation. And as men and angels come to recognize the full fruition of God's plan in the ages to come, will they not with one consent exclaim with our brother and Apostle Paul, as he caught a glimpse of it: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind [plan] of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? ...Because out of him, and through him, and for him are all things. To him be the glory for ever."--`Rom. 11:33-36`.
::R1682 : page 238::
THE DIVERSIFIED WISDOM OF GOD.
"The much diversified wisdom of God" (`Eph. 3:10`--Diaglott) pursued one course with reference to the angels, not delivering the latter over to justice under the extreme penalty of the law, but pronouncing a lesser penalty until they should learn of evil and its consequences from the "spectacle" furnished them in mankind.
But the result of Wisdom's course in either case is the same. The angels being perfect, and having had an example of the extreme penalty of the law, will be able to conform to God's law when again offered the opportunity, and doubtless many of them will be glad to do so. Man, who experienced the extreme penalty of the law, will also be able to appreciate forever good and evil, and, if he will, to choose that which is good, while both, in the event of non-conformity to God's will and a persistence in an evil course, will then be liable to the extreme penalty--the Second Death. Those counted worthy of everlasting life will then, as God does, love righteousness because it is good, and hate unrighteousness because it is evil.
Though the experience of angels might at first appear less severe than man's, yet when it is remembered that man's dying experience was limited to an average of three-score years and ten, while the angels who sinned experienced over four thousand years of living restraint under Satan's rule, it will generally be conceded that their experience was not less severe than man's.
In view of the great work to be accomplished, how necessary is the elevation of the Christ (Head and body) to the divine nature, since his mission is to govern, direct and bring to perfection "whosoever will," both of spiritual and human beings. And does not the selection of this class, made different from both angels and men--of the divine nature--illustrate yet further the much diversified wisdom of God, whereby he is able to work all things according to the counsel of his own will? Verily it does!
STUDIES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL.
::R1681 : page 239::
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.
III. QUAR., LESSON IV., JULY 22, `MATT. 2:13-23`.
Golden Text--"The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in."--`Psa. 121:8`.
There are five points in this lesson worthy of special notice; viz., (1) The foresight and providence of God. His fore-knowledge is past our comprehension: the finite cannot fathom the depths of the infinite mind. But it is our privilege to know the comforting fact that Jehovah's knowledge and wisdom are superior to all the exigencies of his universal empire; and that the wrath of man and of all the combined powers of darkness cannot in the slightest degree frustrate the divine plan. The same power that was able to transform the spiritual Son of God to the human nature was able also to protect him against all opposers, from helpless infancy up to the appointed time of his sacrifice for the world's redemption.
(2) We note again the ministry of angels --"Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (`Heb. 1:14`.) Yes; and gladly are they ready for any service.--`1 Pet. 1:12`.
(3) The faith and prompt obedience of Joseph and Mary to the warning and counsel of the angel of the Lord is notable. They did not hesitate nor question, but immediately acted upon the command of the Lord; and his blessing and protection went with them, both in departing for Egypt and in returning to Palestine. In seeking to avoid the power of the new king Archelaus (Herod's son and successor, who even surpassed his father in oppression, cruelty, egotism and sensuality) and going to Nazareth instead of to Bethlehem which was near to Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary did not disregard the Lord's directions which were to go into the land of Israel--in any part of which they might settle.
(4) In the circumstances here recorded we see the fulfilment of several prophecies --viz., (a) "Out of Egypt have I called my Son." This, like many other prophecies, was one of double significance, applying originally to the exodus of Israel from the bondage of Egypt (`Hos. 11:1`; `Exod. 4:22,23`), and subsequently to the return of the infant Son of God from Egypt after Herod was dead. (`Matt. 2:15`.) And on a still larger scale Egypt represents the world, and Christ and the entire Church of God are the called-out promised seed. (b) The circumstances which led to the settlement in Nazareth thereby led to the fulfilment of the prophecy of `Matt. 2:23`, "He shall be called a Nazarene." (c) The slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem was also prophetically mentioned. See `Jer. 31:15`; `Matt. 2:17,18`. It should be remembered, however, that in these cases the events were not made to fit the prophecies; but the prophecies were made to foretell the events, and become indications of the foreknowledge of God.
(5) It is also worthy of notice that in protecting the infant Redeemer God's course did not interfere with the existing order of things. Although all power was in his hand, he did not strike Herod dead, nor overturn nor interfere with his authority and power. The time for such radical measures had not yet come. The lease of power had been granted to the kingdoms of this world
::R1682 : page 239::
until the "Times of the Gentiles" should be fulfilled; i.e., until A.D. 1915. Consequently, they must (according to his plan) be permitted to take their own course for good or for evil, except in so far as their actions would interfere with the divine plan. And in such cases God always either overrules or prevents them.
In the case here mentioned God interfered only so far as to protect his Son in whom the plan of salvation centered. But when the appointed time came for the sacrifice of that Son for the redemption of the world, then the rulers of darkness of this world had their way. They were then permitted to crucify the Son of God, because for this purpose came he into the world-- to give his life a ransom for many; and because his hour was come.--`Matt. 20:28`; `John 2:4`; `7:6`; `Luke 22:53`.
The weeping and lamentation for the slaughtered infants who did not escape the wrath of the king, was but another note of the long wail of distress of the groaning creation, of which the Lord has not been unmindful, but which his far-sighted wisdom permits for wise and benevolent ends, until "the times of restitution of all things."
::R1682 : page 240::
The promise of the `Golden Text` has special reference to the spiritual life of the Lord's consecrated people--spiritual Israel. As new creatures they are always safe in God's keeping, while they abide in Christ.
::R1682 : page 240::
THE YOUTH OF JESUS.
III. QUAR., LESSON V., JULY 29, `LUKE 2:40-52`.
Golden Text--"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."--`Luke 2:52`.
In this incident of the early life of Jesus we catch a glimpse of the rapid development of perfect humanity. "The [perfect] child grew and waxed strong* [physically and intellectually], filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him." His humble birth gave him none of the advantages of education or social culture, yet even at the age of twelve years all that heard him in conversation with the matured and learned doctors of the law in the temple were astonished at his understanding and answers. (`Verse 47`.) And later, when he taught in the synagogues, the astonished people said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother Mary? and his brethren...and his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?" (`Matt. 13:54-56`.) "And all...wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out his mouth." (`Luke 4:22`.) "And the Jews marvelled saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" (`John 7:15`.) And others said, "Never man spake like this man."--`John 7:46`.
At the tender age of twelve he was intellectually more than a match for the mature and learned doctors; and he did not assume to be a teacher, but with becoming modesty he heard and asked questions--questions, however, so keen and penetrating as to indicate a very superior comprehension of the law and the prophets. As a perfect human being his mind was active and strong, his reasoning powers were astute, his perceptives awake to every educating influence with which he came in contact, his moral perceptions always discarding every thing that was evil, and his memory treasuring up all that was worthy of a place in his mind. Thus he grew and waxed strong and was filled with wisdom.
Joseph and Mary were, of course, unable to measure the breadth and capacity of such a mind, or to realize that at such an early age their child was developed so far beyond his years. But, having some appreciation of it, they did not give themselves special concern as to his whereabouts all the time of their stay in Jerusalem. They even started home and had gone a day's journey supposing that he was with friends in the company. Finding their mistake, they spent another day returning, and a third in searching for him, and finally found him in the temple earnestly studying the law and the prophets in the midst of the learned doctors.
To their solicitous inquiry as to why he had thus dealt with them, his somewhat surprised answer was, "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" He evidently thought they understood him better than they did. But "they understood not the saying which he spake unto them." (`Verses 48-50`.) They probably had never told him of his wonderful origin, and that Joseph was only his reputed father. How then could he know? thought they. The fact was that the mystery of his incarnation was incomprehensible to them. They did not know of the previous spiritual existence of this wonderful Son of God that he was now made flesh. They only knew him as the promised Seed of Abraham. But he knew; for as he grew and developed on the human plane of existence, memory carried him back to the glory that he had with the Father before the world was (`John 17:5`), so that he knew who he was and whence he came (`John 8:58,14`), and that he came to accomplish his Father's business. He seemed somewhat surprised that Joseph and Mary did not more fully comprehend him; but since they did not, he meekly conformed to their ideas and was subject to them until he reached the years generally recognized as the years of maturity or manhood.
"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man." (`Verse 52`.) Though the wisdom of twelve years surpassed that of the sages among men, neither his mind nor his body had yet reached full development. And not until he was a fully developed man was he suitable to the purpose for which he had been called. Not until he attained the age of thirty was he the full grown man ready for sacrifice.-- `1 Chron. 23:3`; `Num. 4:3`; `Heb. 10:5-9`.
*Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. omit the words, "in spirit."
==================== ::page 242::
ZION'S WATCH TOWER
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
PUBLISHED TWICE A MONTH.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY, "BIBLE HOUSE" ARCH STREET, ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR; MRS. C. T. RUSSELL, ASSOCIATE.
SUBSCRIPTION PRICE, $1.00 A YEAR, IN ADVANCE, By Express Order, Postal Money Order, Bank Draft, or Registered Letter. Foreign only by Foreign Money Order.
FREE TO THE LORD'S POOR.
N.B.--Those of the interested, who by reason of old age or accidents, or other adversity, are unable to pay, will be supplied FREE, if they will send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper.
::R1683 : page 242::
"GO LABOR ON: SPEND AND BE SPENT."
Two have written that they feel discouraged because unable to do labor in the harvest field as colporteurs. They seem to feel that if not colporteurs they are not overcomers. This is a serious mistake; and since others may feel similarly, we reply publicly, although we have stated the same things in substance in previous TOWERS.
While the colporteur work is one of the best means of serving the truth, it is by no means the only one. If you have not the needful strength for travel, or if you have a large family dependent on you for support, or if you have not the gifts necessary to success in that work, you may know that it is not your work. Then look about you, while you pray the Lord to show you what you can do--most to his praise, most in the service of his truth, most to the blessing of his people.
However humble your talents may be, rest assured they will be accepted if presented in the name and merit and love of Christ. But be assured that you have at least one talent, else you would not have been granted an acquaintance with the truth. Be assured, too, that whatever the number of your talents, they must be used--must not be buried in pleasure or business or work of an earthly, selfish sort. If you do not use your talents (whatever they may be), it will be a proof of your lack of love, and hence a proof of your unworthiness to be one of the Lord's "little flock," all of whom will be so full of love for him and his that to sacrifice earthly good things in his service will be a part of their chiefest joy. And surely these are objects to draw upon our love and service, always and everywhere;--the Church of Christ in general, excepting only the "goats" and "wolves," are fainting for the true bread and the true water of life--truth. Under such conditions, while God's children are striving for what we can give, to be idle or pleasure-seeking would be almost criminal,--surely loveless.
So, then, if you cannot do one thing, be all the more diligent to do another. Tracts can be distributed, and it needs just such as yourself to hand them out effectively with perhaps "a word in season," in the evenings, or on Sundays,--in the cars, in the hotels and on the street corners. The brethren and sisters in Cleveland have distributed thirty-five thousand (35,000) tracts during the past month, and the results are showing favorably. Turn to your TOWER for May last and read again our suggestions-- "Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."-- Page 140.
ALLEGHENY CHURCH MEETINGS.
Our meetings are held in Bible House Chapel, Arch st., Allegheny, Pa. Readers and friends will be warmly welcomed. Preaching every Sunday at 3:30 P.M.