ZWT - 1888 - R0997 thru R1088 / R0997 (001) - January, 1888
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VOL. IX. ALLEGHENY, PA., JANUARY, 1888. NO. 5.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
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NOT A SINFUL LIKENESS.
Briefly notice first some of the inconsistencies of this passage as it stands in the common version--"In the likeness of sinful flesh." Looked at one way the term "sinful flesh" would cast a reflection upon the Creator by intimating that humanity is sinful by nature, created so; whereas the Scriptures everywhere hold out the thought that man's nature was good, and that he is now bound by Sin's power or dominion, and that when man is set free from Sin and Death--restored to original perfection--he will again be "very good," as at first pronounced.
But suppose it were claimed that this passage refers to flesh (humanity) that had gotten into a state of sin, and suppose for argument's sake we admitted this to be its significance [which we really cannot admit except for the argument], still it would not prove what the no-ransom advocates want to have proved. Because for our Lord to take the likeness of flesh which has become sinful would still leave it an open question whether the likeness before it had become sinful was meant, or the likeness after it had become sinful. Surely none will deny that the likeness of mankind to-day is the human likeness, nor that Adam had the same,-- human likeness. If the depraved race wanted to point out its likeness to-day, the finest, least depraved and least degraded specimen would be selected as a sample of human nature, as a sample of the nature which sinners are of. And, if the best living sample of our race would be selected to represent it, why should not the race (now sinful) look back to its first parent, Adam, who before sinning was perfect, and claim his likeness as its real likeness, which had since been marred by sin and death? In thinking of the real likeness of human nature, to which nature human sinners belong, we should think of a likeness to properly represent our nature, no matter how degraded and fallen from that model, many, yea all of the race have now become. Thus indeed our Lord was made in the likeness [nature] of sinful flesh--the nature which the sinful race is of--human nature. He partook of that nature perfectly which in the sinners had become contaminated, imperfect, sinful.
Those who urge that our Lord was only like the race after it was sinful, and chiefly like it in respect to the imperfections, should consider that Adam's form and flesh did not undergo so great a change in the moment of disobedience, that the original likeness before sin, could be disclaimed for him. Hence, when first Adam became a sinner by disobedience, before sentence was pronounced upon him, and before he began in the slightest degree to be imperfect, there was one example of flesh under control of the great enemy Sin, which was perfect flesh and the best example of humanity, whose likeness our Lord took: in fact the only example and true representative of manhood.
But note another absurdity the false theory would involve: Though the flesh or nature is all one, and has one standard of perfection, or one likeness, the sinfulness varies in degree; some of the race being more degraded and depraved by sin than others. Now will those who want this passage to read that our Lord was made in a sinful likeness of flesh, please tell us just how sinful, how imperfect he was, seeing that if we are looking at the sinful likeness of flesh [of humanity] there is such an infinite variety of gradation?
Bold as many seem to be on this subject, few probably would have the temerity to say that our Redeemer was like the most sinful, like the most debased and degraded in mind and body; and yet this they must claim, else their theory falls. Because any argument or theory that would require that our Lord should be a sinner at all, would require that he be as depraved and degraded as the most sin-polluted. For, denying his ransom work, and therefore ignoring the necessity for him to be as sinless as the one for whom he became the substitute was before sin entered, and ignoring the fact that he is a pattern and example, not to sinners, but to justified believers, and that it is not like unto sinners, but "like unto his brethren" that he was tempted: ignoring all this, we say, they must claim that our Lord had an experience like that of every fallen wretch in every particular, and that the only work he did while here was to get that kind of experience; hence as shown in July and August TOWERS they are forced to claim that our Lord underwent all the depraved feelings and thoughts of all libertines, drunkards, thieves and thugs, or else their theory falls. How preposterous, absurd and almost blasphemous is such a view.
And how inconsistent to claim that one who "knew no sin," and who, even before he was anointed, from earliest childhood showed no sign of evil, and who was miraculously born so as to be separate from the race of sinners, and who was referred to before his birth as "that holy thing" (`Luke 1:35`), how unreasonable to claim that this being had the worst and most depraved disposition of any member of the human race ever born into the world.
If our Lord did no sin, he certainly lacked that sinful likeness common to sinners, but he could be without sin and have in its perfection that human likeness or nature which all sinners share, though in a degraded state. Could one be said to be like sinners, who never sinned? No, our Lord was unlike sinners in respect to sin, imperfection, etc., but like them in the sense of having their same nature or flesh, he having it in its perfection, they in various degrees of imperfection through sin.
In the following article we will show that whatever support was thought to be given by this mistranslated text, to the idea that our Lord was imperfect, a sinner, is removed by a proper translation of the passage.
"IN THE LIKENESS OF SINFUL FLESH."
We note with regret that the above text as it stands is favorable to the "no ransom views," and is being used to prove that our Lord, when he became a man, had a body full of sinful weakness and imperfections, or as they hold it to mean, just like sinful, fallen, depraved humanity. This suits the ideas of the no-ransom theorists exactly; for if he were imperfect, he could not be a ransom or corresponding price for the first perfect man
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who sinned, and was condemned, and we in him. But those who thus claim that our Lord was imperfect, i.e., had sinful flesh, overlook the fact that if their claim were true, our Lord could not keep the Law, under which he was born, and by which he was proved perfect and worthy of the high exaltation to the divine nature. They seem to forget that the Law was the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and that if he had been in the least degree imperfect, our Lord could not have kept it, could not have been justified to life under and by it. Hence if our Lord had sinful flesh, his coming into the world was useless; for under such circumstances he could neither have set a perfect example, nor could he have redeemed the condemned sinners.
But the no-ransom theorists would perhaps claim that he did not need to be free from sin, nor to give a ransom (a corresponding price) for the first perfect man who had sinned; and that his example was perfect, they cannot deny. When we ask them, How could sinful flesh obey the perfect Law of God fully and set an example to others, they would perhaps answer: Oh! he had divine help; he had the indwelling of the holy spirit to help him, and to enable him to overcome his sinful flesh.
But we reply, that takes away all the virtue or honor of our Lord as an overcomer. If his flesh was sinful and sin-disposed as that of other men, and he overcame the world by outside help merely, then he has no honor whatever; and justice would suggest that he should not have been highly exalted and honored above angels, for what he did not do, but for what was merely done in him by God's overmastering power. Indeed, if this theory be true, we see neither merit on the part of our Lord Jesus to be rewarded, nor any necessity for his coming into the world at all. For surely if God merely took possession of the sinful flesh and worked out results totally different from what sinful flesh itself was capable of, there was no need of specially bringing that sinful flesh into the world where there was too much of that sort already.
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And it would have been far more like the divine economy to have used and acted upon some other sinful flesh as a pattern and example. Indeed, if this were God's object and plan, we cannot question that the example of some man who had lived for a time in sin, and thus proved that he had sinful flesh, would have been far more powerful as an illustration of how God could change and force a man to do his will. So, then, if another sinful flesh could have done as well or better, where was the necessity for our Lord's coming in the flesh at all?
But further, while we do not claim that God could not so force any man, but merely that he does not and never has so forced any--and challenge proof to the contrary--yet we ask, If it is a question only of an indwelling divine power, forcing sinful flesh into harmony with the divine will, where was the necessity for specially making an example of it, either in our Lord Jesus, or in any other one? Why not rather let the holy power force ALL sinful flesh at once?
But further examination of these errors on this line we trust is unnecessary. We now proceed to show that opposers of the Bible doctrine that our Lord was holy and free from sin, and separate from sinners, and gave his holy, perfect manhood a sacrificial ransom (corresponding price) for the perfect Adam (whose sin involves his race), are mistaken when they use this text ("In the likeness of sinful flesh") for the support of their theory.
We are surprised that some whose knowledge of the Greek should protect them from falling into such an error, have not more carefully and critically noted this passage. A failure to note the fact that the apostle throughout this entire discourse treats of sin as a personality, [This we showed at length in May '87 TOWER, article, "The body of sin to be destroyed."] is the cause of this error, but this cannot excuse critical students of the Greek text, which is most explicit.
The Greek word here rendered sinful is hamartia. It occurs 174 times in the New Testament, yet is only this once improperly translated by our English adjective sinful. The Greek word hamartia should always be translated as a substantive, SIN, not as an adjective, SINFUL; and it is so treated by the translators in every instance of its 174 occurrences, except this one text.
The Greek has another word to represent our adjective sinful, namely, hamartolos and every other occurrence of the word sinful in the New Testament except the one above noted (`Rom. 8:3`), which is a mistranslation, comes from the word hamartolos.
As instances of hamartolos properly translated by the adjective sinful, see `Mark 8:38`, `Luke 5:8`; `24:7` and `Rom. 7:13`. The last instance shows conclusively that the apostle knew what he was about when using those two words, and did not misuse the one for the other; and be it noted that in the one verse he there uses hamartia three times as a substantive SIN, and hamartolos once as an adjective, SINFUL. We quote--"But sin [hamartia] that it might be shown to be sin [hamartia,] by working death to me by that which is good;--that through the commandment, sin [hamartia] might become exceeding sinful [hamartolos"]. (`Rom. 7:13`.) Surely this illustration makes the subject clear to even an ordinary English student, and should convince all that the translation of hamartia by the adjective sinful in `Rom. 8:3` is wholly wrong and inexcusable; it should be there as elsewhere translated as a substantive, sin.
So, then, though the translators erred grievously in this case, and have furnished the only (apparent) prop to the theory that Christ was a sinner, yet, God duly provides the needed helps, so that no member of the true body need stumble, showing us clearly the error of the translators as above. The Lord promises that none shall be tempted above that they are able to bear, and that if the test of faith were too weighty for us, he would provide a way of escape. And surely those who have misrepresented this text, owe a duty to God, to the truth, and to any whom they have mistaught, concerning the text in question.
But some unfamiliar with the rules of grammar may not see the importance of the change from sinful to sin in the above text. To such the changed phraseology may imply little, and they may read, "In the likeness of flesh of sin," the proper translation,* and think of it as meaning the same as "In the likeness of sinful flesh." Let us therefore help them to distinguish. The common and erroneous translation, "sinful flesh," implies that human nature [flesh] is a sinful nature, which is not true; for human nature [flesh] as God created it was perfect, and was pronounced by the Creator "very good;" and over it sin had no control. Human nature [flesh] came under the influence, control, or dominion of sin, which Paul in this and the three preceding chapters personifies as a tyrant, reigning over, and ruling in all flesh. He speaks of this tyrant Sin's law and the captivity in which he (the tyrant Sin) now holds all flesh as slaves: he tells of how we who were once the slaves of this great tyrant, have been made free from his control, and from respect to his law, penalty, etc., and have enlisted as slaves or bond-servants under God's Son, our Redeemer and new Captain, and are now voluntarily under his law and pledged to fight against and lay down even life itself in this conflict against our former enslaver and tyrant, Sin. In `Rom. 7:23 to 8:3` the Apostle is telling how our deliverance from this tyrant, Sin, was accomplished. The Law given to Israel failed to deliver them, and could no more deliver us, from this tyrant who had gotten such a hold upon us that the flesh [human nature] was too weak to resist it. Hence when the Law Covenant pointed out to Israel a road back to harmony with God and to the service of righteousness, they found themselves so weak as to be unable to resist the "law of Sin," their captor, so that the best they could do was to mentally acknowledge God's dominion, and show the loyalty of their wills toward God by resisting as much as possible, which was but little, the law of the tyrant, Sin.
Then the Apostle thanks God that though not accomplished by the Law, given at Sinai, yet our release is otherwise and effectually accomplished through Jesus Christ our Lord. What the Law was powerless to accomplish for us, because our flesh was too weak to withstand the tyranny of Sin, God accomplished for us, by sending his Son in the likeness of the flesh of Sin [i.e., in the likeness of humanity, which the tyrant Sin possessed control of] and because of Sin [sin's power over us]. [Thus God] condemned Sin [our tyrant, not humanity] through [or in] the flesh [Christ's flesh, given as our ransom].
But how, in what sense, did God through Christ's flesh condemn the tyrant Sin?
We answer, man, as originally created, was a free agent, and voluntarily rendered himself Sin's servant, and was soon enslaved to Sin. God had arranged before the fall that man might serve either of two masters, Righteousness or Sin, and that he should surely receive the wages of whichever one he served. So long as he did serve Righteousness the pay was life, which would have continued, had he continued in its service. But when, in disobedience, he became the servant of Sin, its wages, death, were also sure. And though he did not like the wages, and would have fled to the former master, Righteousness, Sin held him, and had power to hold him until the wages (death) should be fully paid. And since the wages
*See Diaglott also, which all of our readers should surely have for critical study of the Word. Also see marginal reading of Revised version.
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cost man his life, he was hopelessly bound both for time and eternity.
This slavery to Sin and his servant Death, was the wretched condition of all humanity when God sentenced or condemned to overthrow, the tyrant Sin, as having no longer legal right to reign over the redeemed flesh--mankind, which is officially declared to be emancipated, freed from his dominion.
But in what way did God do this? And why did he for thousands of years permit Sin and Death to rule and ruin the race, if he could justly condemn and remove them from dominion over mankind? If they had a recognized right to hold and oppress man (their voluntary slave) for four thousand years, how can God justly set aside their authority now?
Ah yes! Sin and Death did reign from Adam to Moses, when the Law came apparently to help mankind. And as it helped none, Sin and Death still reigned as high handed as ever, until God sent his Son in the likeness of the flesh (humanity) which Sin had captivated; in the likeness of Adam, the very one who voluntarily became Sin's servant and involved his posterity as those born in slavery. And it was through this one who himself "knew no sin," but who by willingly receiving the penalty or wages of sin on behalf of the enslaved and sentenced race, as their ransom, proclaimed liberty to the captives and sentenced the dominion of Sin and death to an overthrow. The wages being paid, Sin and Death no longer have authority over the redeemed, ransomed race.
Let go the prisoner from the pit, [the tomb] for I have found a ransom, is the sentence or condemnation of God against the rule of this personified power, Sin. The word "condemned" in `Rom. 8:3` is katakrino, and is the same used in `Heb. 11:7` with reference to the overthrow of the world of Antediluvians; and it is the same word that Peter uses (`2 Pet. 2:6`) when speaking of Sodom, "Condemned with an overthrow." So Sin and Death were condemned or sentenced to overthrow, by reason of the ransom given for the slaves over whom they reign.
God's due time for condemning Sin by redeeming its captives, was nearly two thousand years ago; and the due time for putting the sentence into execution, dethroning this tyrant, and breaking up his prison house, is now just at hand--the Millennial age. Right speedily he who redeemed all, and whose right it consequently is to release all, will take his great power and reign, enforcing the liberation of all captives, and granting to all a new opportunity to become again the servants of Righteousness, and receive its reward of life.
Though Sin still reigns over and holds in slavery our race, those who believe in Christ's ransom know that it no longer has a right to reign, that its authority is cancelled now, that it is CONDEMNED and is now only a usurper without real authority; that its slaves have been officially emancipated and soon will be actually released by the great Deliverer. The Apostle urges that we no longer recognize this tyrant from whose dominion God through Christ hath set us free. Let not Sin therefore have dominion over you, but as you once obeyed it now obey Christ, your new Ruler, who promises to fully deliver you back to your original master Righteousness whose wages is life.
So, then, our Lord who was made flesh when he partook of the flesh nature--human nature--partook not of imperfect flesh, partook not of fallen flesh, but was holy and separate from sinners, yet took the likeness of the flesh lorded over and enslaved by sin (humanity), and was not like any of the imperfect or depraved specimens of that race, but like the original and only proper perfect specimen of it--Adam, as he was when he first became Sin's slave. To have been less than that first perfect slave through whom Sin first gained control of all, would have prevented our Redeemer from redeeming "those captives, by giving the ransom [corresponding price] for all." (`1 Tim. 2:4-6`). By the way, the no-ransom teachers have never attempted to analyze nor to disprove or twist this or the other texts which tell of our ransom: Nor can it be shown that any other than a perfect man could be a corresponding price for Adam, through whom came condemnation and death.
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ADVICE TO THE SAINTS.
"Keep in touch with Christ.--Avoid the spirit of fault-finding, criticism, uncharitableness, and anything inconsistent with His perfect love. Go where He is most likely to be found, either where two or three of His children are gathered, or where the lost sheep is straying. Ask Him to wake you morning by morning for communion and Bible-study. Make other times in the day, especially in the still hour of evening twilight, between the work of the day and the avocations of the evening, when you shall get alone with Him, telling Him all things, and reviewing the past under the gentle light that streams from His eyes."
"Tell God that you are Willing to be made Willing about All.--A lady was once in great difficulties about certain things which she felt eager to keep under her own control. Her friend, wishful to pass her into the better life of consecration, placed before her a blank sheet of paper, and pressed her to write her name at the foot, and then to lay it before God in prayer. She did so and at once entered this blessed life. Are you willing to do this? Are you prepared to sign your name to a blank sheet of paper and then hand it over to God, for Him to fill in as He pleases? If not, ask Him to make you willing and able to do this and all things else. You will never be happy until you let the Lord Jesus keep the house of your nature, closely scrutinizing every visitor and admitting only His friends. He must reign. He must have all or none. He must have the key of every closet, of every cupboard, and of every room. Do not try to make them fit for Him. Simply give Him the key. And He will cleanse and renovate and make beautiful."--Selected.
"Though disappointments are our lot,
Grieving the soul to tears;
Though tender friendships seem forgot,
And hopes give place to fears;
Though on life's tempest-sea we toss,
Still may we humbly bear our cross."
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NEW YEAR'S HYMN.
BY FRANCIS R. HAVERGAL.
Standing at the portal of the opening year,
Words of comfort meet us, hushing every fear;
Spoken through the silence, by our Father's voice,
Tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice.
Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
For His word shall never, never pass away.
I, the Lord, am with thee, be thou not afraid;
I will help and strengthen, be thou not dismayed.
Yes, I will uphold thee with my own right hand;
Thou art called and chosen in my sight to stand.
Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
For His word shall never, never pass away.
For the year before us, Oh, what rich supplies!
For the poor and needy, living streams shall rise;
For the sad and sinful, shall His grace abound;
For the faint and feeble perfect strength be found.
Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
For His word shall never, never pass away.
He will never fail us, He will not forsake;
His eternal covenant He will never break;
Resting on His promise, what have we to fear?
God is all sufficient for the coming year.
Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
For His word shall never, never pass away.
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"I don't care to think about the awful place," says one, "for I don't expect to go there--I have no interest in it." Yet, if the "orthodox" view of it be true, that all except the saints of God go there,-- that it is the penalty for Adam's sin, that all of Adam's posterity are under that penalty except those few faithful believers in Christ who escape it, then it follows that you, and I, and all, ought to be deeply interested in finding out all we can about that which is represented as the surest and most awful, and most general calamity to which our poor race is exposed. If you and I do expect to escape, we should be anxious on behalf of the others; for in proportion to the world's population even in this enlightened day, the faithful believers in Christ are but as one out of a thousand. Nor will it do to excuse one's self with the idea that "My friends and relations will all escape." You know that many, yea most of your friends and relatives are not faithful believers; and as you look back over the pages of history, it is not a great way back that you find your great-great-grandparents were heathen idolaters who knew not of the Redeemer, and hence could not have been justified by faith in him. Besides, are not all mankind our relatives? and are not all brethren?--children of one common father--Adam?
Subjects like slavery, intemperance, pestilence, or epidemics affecting only a part of the human family, we would and should, as we do, see hundreds, yes thousands, of men and women spending time and talent and money in examining, and arranging for the relief and safety of their fellows. Yet there is no comparison between human slavery, etc., and everlasting torture in misery and anguish, which human tongue, we are told, cannot describe. The most terrible human sufferings of the present, which soon end life and thus bring relief, are really pleasurable moments in comparison to what we are told of hell, which besides will never end while the years of eternity roll.
Now what is being done about this monstrous evil before which all others combined pale into insignificance-- anything?
Oh yes, there are thousands of clergymen who are supposed to have studied all about this awful subject, who weekly meet with about two millions of the fourteen hundred millions of the earth's present population, to consider this very subject which they claim is all-important. They meet in comfortable and elegant buildings, expensively attired, and are entertained by music and oratory, and if the subject they claim as the all-important cause of their assembling is mentioned AT ALL, it is to assure the hearts of those present that they have nothing to fear; for though God will deal most awfully with others, he will deal kindly with them, and instead of delighting to torture them to all eternity, God will be glad to have such genteel people as attend their entertaining church services and participate in the usual suppers, fairs, etc., to adorn heaven. Why will God thus favor them? Not because of good works, they admit; nor because of great faith, we would claim, for they know little of God or his Word, and hence cannot believe much or firmly. Their hopes must therefore be built mainly upon their morality, because they are refined and not vulgar, and specially because they have joined a sect and assented to a creed which they do not know, nor understand, nor believe--in a word because they are thus acting a lie with a form of godliness without the real power thereof. Do these people really believe
THIS AWFUL DOCTRINE
concerning hell? Surely not! To us their actions speak, louder than words. They even count the Salvation Army people fools and fanatics, because they, poor creatures, less intelligent, less learned, BELIEVE the story of the clergy about this awful place they describe hell to be, and honestly act out their belief.
Of all the people in the world to-day who profess to believe this awful doctrine of eternal torment, the "Salvation Army" alone acts reasonably and consistently. And their wildest freaks and fancies are tame compared with what might be expected if they were fully convinced of the truth of the doctrine. The men and women who have ever fully believed the doctrine, are undoubtedly those hundreds who have gone insane from sympathy with their fellows; the effort to save others from everlasting torture unbalanced their reason. We cannot imagine any sincere believer of this terrible doctrine going from day to day about the ordinary affairs of life, or meeting quietly in elegance every Sunday to hear an essay from some of the peculiar servants of the truth on the peculiar subjects often advertised, really believing all the time that at the rate of one hundred a minute fellow mortals are dying, and entering
"That lone land of deep despair," where
"No God regards their bitter prayer."
They could not complacently sit there and think of those hurrying every moment into that awful state described by the good, well-meaning, but terribly deluded man John Watts (whose own heart was infinitely warmer and larger than that he ascribed to the great Jehovah), when he wrote that sweet hymn, which, thank God, sensible people have ceased to love and almost ceased to sing:--
"Tempests of angry fire shall roll
To blast the rebel worm,
And beat upon the naked soul
In one eternal storm."
Surely men and women believing thus would rush frantically to the heathen and to all unbelievers everywhere, and would describe hell and make people join their churches or set them crazy with fear, or both. Mothers, fathers, and children have become insane from anguish, when their loved ones have been caught in a burning building, though they knew that their pain would endure but a few minutes, yet they pretend to believe that God is less loving than they, and that He can look with indifference, if not with delight, at the billions of his creatures enduring an eternity of torture far more terrible, which he prepares for them and prevents any escape from, forever. Not only so, but they expect they will get literally into Abraham's bosom, and will then look across the gulf and see and hear the agonies of the multitudes some of whom they now love and weep over and will be so changed (become so like their present idea of God), so hardened against all pity and so barren of love and sympathy that they will delight in God and in this plan.
It is wonderful that otherwise sensible looking and acting men and women, who love their fellows, establish hospitals, orphanages, asylums and societies for the prevention of cruelty to even the brute creation, are so unbalanced mentally that they can believe and subscribe to such a doctrine, and yet be so indifferent about investigating the subject of "everlasting torture."
Only one exception can we think of, --those who hold the ultra-Calvinistic doctrine; who believe that God has decreed it thus, and that all the efforts they could put forth could not alter the result with a single person, and that all the prayers they could offer would not change that awful plan they believe God has marked out for His and their eternal pleasure. These indeed could sit still, so far as effort for their fellows is concerned, but why sing the praises of such a God and such a plan? These who hold this view of their own unconditional and unalterable election, could surely afford to be honest, since they think that they could not be rejected. Why should not these, instead of singing the praises of such a plan and keeping quiet, hide their faces in shame for their God, and express their true heart-sympathy for the people, and instead of singing, weep and lament. It would be far more creditable to their faith and their hearts;--would it not?
Why not rather begin to doubt the self-exalted clergy, and to wonder whether this "doctrine of devils," this blasphemy against the great God, was not hatched in the "dark ages," when a crafty priesthood thought it godly to do evil, that good might result? The doctrine of eternal torment was introduced by Papacy to compel pagans to join her system and support her priesthood. It flourished at the same time that "bull fighting" and gladiatorial contests were the public amusement most enjoyed, when the Crusades were called "holy wars," and when men and women were called "heretics" and slaughtered, for thinking or speaking contrary to the teachings of Papacy; at a time when the sun of gospel truth was obscure, when the Word of God had fallen into disuse and was prohibited to be read by any but the clergy, whose love of their neighbors was often shown in torturing heretics to induce them to recant and deny their faith and their Bibles--to save them if possible, they explained, from the more awful future of heretics, eternal torture. They did not borrow this doctrine from the heathens, for no heathen people in the world have a doctrine half so terrible, cruel, fiendish and unjust. Find it, whoever can, and show it up in all its blackness, that if possible it may be shown that the essence of barbarism, malice, hate and ungodliness, has not been exclusively appropriated by those whom God has most highly favored with light from every quarter, to whom God has committed the holy oracle--His Word. Oh! the shame and confusion of face that will cover many even good men (who verily thought that they did God service while propagating this misrepresentation of the devil) when they awake in the resurrection to learn of the love and justice of God, and when they shall come to know that the Bible for which some of them would lay down their lives, does not teach this God-dishonoring, love-extinguishing, truth-beclouding, saint-hindering, sinner-hardening, damnable heresy.
But we repeat that in the light and moral development of this day, sensible people do not believe this doctrine. However, since they think that the Bible teaches it, every step they progress in real intelligence and godlikeness of mind, which hinders such belief, is in most cases a step away from God's Word which they falsely accuse of this teaching. Hence this second crop of evil fruit, which the devil's engraftment of this error is producing. The intelligent, honest thinkers are thus driven from the Bible into vain philosophies and sciences, falsely so-called, and into skepticism. Nor do the "worldly" really believe this doctrine. It does not restrain from crime: theft, murder, suicide, immorality and drunkenness are more common by far in the countries where this doctrine is taught, than in other lands. Mohammedan and Buddhist countries are much more moral than those misnamed "Christendom." True, some instances are known, where murderers nearing death's door under pressure of fear or sickness confess a faith under the teaching that to doubt it is to make sure the getting of it. But their lives of disregard, as well as their profanity, show that if this doctrine ever restrained men, it does not now.
But, did the error not do real good? Have not many been brought into the churches by the preaching of this doctrine in the past?
No error, we answer, ever did real good, but always harm. Those whom error brings into a church, and whom the truth would not move, are an injury to the church. The thousands which this doctrine forced into Papacy, terrorized, but not at heart converted, which swelled her numbers and her wealth, diluted what little truth was held before, and mingled it with their unholy and ignorant sentiments, so that to meet the changed condition of things, the "clergy" found it needful to add error to error, and to resort to methods, forms, etc., not taught in the Scriptures and useless to the truly converted whom the truth controls. Among these were pictures, images, beads, vestments, candles, grand cathedrals, altars, etc., to help the unconverted heathen to a form of godliness more nearly corresponding to his former heathen worship.
The heathen were not benefited, for they were still heathen in God's sight, deluded into aping what they did not understand or do from the heart. They were tares to choke the wheat without being profited thereby themselves.
The same is true of those brought under the name Christian to-day, who are not really at heart converted by the truth, but merely frightened by the error, or allured by promised earthly advantages of a social or business kind. Such add nothing to the true church; by their ideas and manners they become stumbling blocks to the truly consecrated, and by their numbers and their inability to digest the truth, the real food of the saints, they lead even the few true pastors to defraud the true sheep in order to satisfy the demands of these goats for something pleasing to their unconverted tastes. No, in no way has this error accomplished good, but in every way harm. Let us now inquire:--
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WHAT SAITH THE BIBLE ABOUT HELL?
Seeing then the unreasonableness of man's view, let us leave human creeds and dogmas and come to the oracle of God, that we may hear his own word on this subject, convinced fully that:--
"Blind prejudice is sure to err
And scan his word in vain;
God is his own interpreter
And he will make it plain."
In the first place, let none forget that the Bible was not inspired in the English language, that the inspired Scriptures which "holy men wrote and spoke as they were moved by the holy Spirit" were written --the Old Testament in the Hebrew and the New Testament in the Greek language. We know further, that the translators were not inspired of God so as to prevent mistakes creeping in; for all scholars recognize some mistakes in the English translations.
Now, admitting that the translators were honest men who reverently desired to serve God and the church by giving English readers a faithful translation from the original, yet all who have a knowledge of more than one language, and who have ever tried translating from one to another, well know they had a difficult task, the range of both languages making it often possible to translate a word by any one of several words, all having slightly different shades of meaning; besides which the idiomatic differences, the peculiarities in the construction of sentences in both languages, must be taken into account. This makes it necessary for a translator to frequently use his judgment both in deciding which of several words he had best use, and also as to their arrangement to faithfully reproduce the original thought. And, if the translators have certain false ideas fixed in their minds, they are almost sure at times to color their renderings, without wrong intention.
Now, no matter how little hell is talked, or thought, or sung about to-day, there is no other point of doctrine more firmly held by Christian people, who feel sure that to deny hell would be to deny the Bible, and yet who know little about what the Bible says about hell. So, in coming to the English Bible to examine the subject, do not forget to exercise charity toward the translators when we show that their translation has helped forward the wrong ideas generally held. You will be far more justifiable in feeling unthankful toward the "pastors" and "shepherds," whom you have for years helped to support and educate, who [the educated] know of the errors of the translators, and who yet deliberately cover and hide those errors from the people who are paying them for the information. They have kept back the truth about hell for several reasons: First, there is a sort of understanding, or etiquette among them, as among physicians, that if they wish to maintain their standing in the "profession" they "must not tell tales out of school"--must not divulge professional secrets to the "common people"--the "laity." Secondly, they all fear that to let it be known that they had been teaching an unscriptural doctrine for years, would bring disgrace and disreverence upon the "clergy," and unsettle the confidence of the laity in their wisdom--and O how much depends upon confidence and reverence for men, when God's Word is so generally ignored. Thirdly, they know that many of the members of their sects are not constrained by "the love of Christ," (`2 Cor. 5:14`), but merely by the fear of hell, and they see clearly therefore that to let the truth be known, would soon cut loose the names and the dollars of many in their flocks; and this, to those who desire to make a fair show in the flesh (`Gal. 6:12`), would be terrible in the extreme.
Nevertheless, it has for some years been seen that knowledge is increasing among the people (`Dan. 12:4`), and the "Revised English Version" of the Bible was gotten out--in great part to patch up this hell doctrine. But they had not the courage to come out and give a correct translation: that, as we have shown, would be too serious a matter to be thought of; so they merely refused to translate the word at all, and put the Greek word hades into the English text. They well knew that the English reader would know little difference between hell and hades and would soon come to use them as synonymous. And this is the case. They feel, however, that they have justified themselves before men, by their course, though they never explain the meaning of the Greek word hades; but by their use of the word, without saying so directly, they give their confiding flocks to understand that it means a place of torture, a lake of fire. But what will be the judgment of the Great Jehovah whose character and plan are traduced by the blasphemous doctrine which this mistranslated word helps to support? Will he commend them? Will he justify their course? Will the Chief Shepherd call these his beloved "friends"? Will he make known unto them his further plans (`John 15:14`), that they may misrepresent them also, to preserve their own dignity and reverence? Will he continue to send forth "things new and old," "meat in due season" to the household of faith, by the hand of these unfaithful servants? Nay, such shall not continue to be his mouthpieces: he will spew them out of his mouth. (`Rev. 3:16`.) He will choose instead, as at the first advent, from among the laity--"the common people" --mouthpieces, and will give them words which none of the chief priests shall be able to gainsay or resist. (`Luke 21:15`.) And as foretold, "the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." --`Isa. 29:9-19`.
Consider first then:--
HELL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT.
The word hell occurs thirty-one times in the Old Testament, and in every instance it is sheol in the Hebrew. It does not mean a lake of fire and brimstone, nor anything at all resembling that thought: not in the slightest degree! Quite the reverse: instead of a place of blazing fire it is described in the context as a state of "darkness;" instead of being a place where shrieks and groans are heard, it is described in the context as a place of "silence;" instead of representing in any sense pain and suffering, or remorse, the context describes it as one of forgetfulness, where there is no "knowledge" or "work" or "remembrance."
The meaning of sheol is, THE HIDDEN STATE, as applied to man's condition in death; in and beyond which all is hidden, except to the eye of faith: hence by proper and close association the word was often used in the sense of the grave--the tomb, the hidden place, or place beyond which only those who have the enlightened eye of the understanding can see resurrection, restitution of being. And be it particularly noted, that this very same word sheol, is translated pit and grave thirty-four times in our common version by the same translators*--more times than it is translated hell; and twice where it is translated hell it seemed so absurd, according to the at present accepted meaning of the word hell, that in modern Bibles the publishers explain in the margin that it means grave. See `Isa. 14:9` and `Jonah 2:2`. In the latter case, the HIDDEN STATE, or grave, was the belly of the fish in which Jonah was buried alive, and from which he cried to God.
ALL PLACES WHERE SHEOL IS TRANSLATED HELL.
(1) `Amos 9:2`.--"Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them." [A figurative expression; but certainly pits of the earth are the only hells men can dig into.]
(2) `Psa. 16:10`.--"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." [This refers to our Lord's three days in the tomb. See `Acts 2:31`; `3:15`.]
(3) `Psa. 18:5` and `2 Sam. 22:6`.--Margin --"The cords of hell compassed me about." [A figure in which trouble is represented as hastening one to the tomb.]
(4) `Psa. 55:15`.--"Let them go down quick into hell"--margin, "the grave."
(5) `Psa. 9:17`.--"The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." [This text is treated at length in the TOWER for Oct. '86. We there show that it should read, "The wicked shall be returned into hell"--into the state of death; and that it refers to the "second death." See that paper.]
(6) `Psa. 86:13`.--"Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell"--margin, "grave."
(7) `Psa. 116:3`.--"The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me." [Sickness and trouble are the figurative hands of the grave to grasp us.]
(8) `Psa. 139:8`.--"If I make my bed in hell behold thou art there." [God's power is unlimited, even those in the tomb he can and will control and bring forth.]
(9) `Deut. 32:22`.--"For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell." [A figurative representation of the destruction, the utter ruin of Israel as a nation--"wrath to the uttermost," as the Apostle called it; God's anger burning that nation to the "lowest deep," as Leeser translates the word sheol here.]
(10) `Job 11:8`.--"It [God's wisdom] is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; [than any pit] what canst thou know?"
(11) `Job 26:6`.--"Hell [the tomb] is naked before him; and destruction hath no covering."
(12) `Prov. 5:5`.--"Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell"--[i.e., lead to the grave].
(13) `Prov. 7:27`.--"Her house is the way to hell [the grave] going down to chambers of death."
(14) `Prov. 9:18`.--"He knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell." Here the harlot's guests are represented as dead, diseased or dying, and many of the victims of sensuality in premature graves from diseases which hurry off their posterity also to the tomb.
(15) `Prov. 15:11`.--"Hell and destruction are before the Lord." [Here the grave is associated with destruction and not with a life of torment.]
(16) `Prov. 15:24`.--"The path of life (leadeth) upward for the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath." [The hope of resurrection from the tomb.]
(17) `Prov. 23:14`.--"Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell." [i.e. wise corrections will save a child from vicious ways which lead to premature death, and may possibly prepare him to escape the "second death" also.]
(18) `Prov. 27:10`.--"Hell [the grave] and destruction are never full: so the eyes of man are never satisfied."
(19) `Isa. 5:14`.--"Therefore hell hath enlarged herself and opened her mouth without measure." [Here a symbol of destruction.]
(20) `Isa. 14:9`.--"Hell [margin grave] from beneath is moved for thee, to meet thee at thy coming."--Ver. 15. "Thou shalt be brought down to hell" [the grave; so rendered in `verse 11`.]
(21) `Isa. 57:9`.--"And didst debase thyself even unto hell." [Here figurative of deep degradation.]
(22) `Ezek. 31:15-17`.--"In the day when he went down to the grave...I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to hell with them that descend into the pit."--`Ver. 17` --"They also went down into hell with him, unto them that be slain with the sword." [Figurative and prophetic description of the fall of Babylon into destruction, silence, the grave.]
(23) `Ezek. 32:21`.--"The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him." [A continuation of the same figure representing Egypt's overthrow as a nation to join Babylon in destruction.]
(24) `Ver. 27`.--"And they shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war: And they have laid their swords under their heads; but their iniquities shall be upon their bones, though they were the terror of the mighty in the land of the living." [The grave is the only hell where fallen ones are buried and lie with their weapons of war under their heads.]
(25) `Hab. 2:5`.--"Who enlargeth his desire as hell [the grave] and as death, and cannot be satisfied."
(26) `Jonah 2:1,2`.--"Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord his God, out of the fish's belly, and said, I cried by reason of mine afflictions unto the Lord, and he heard me: Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice." [The belly of the fish was for a time his grave.]
(27) `Isa. 28:15-18`.--"Because ye have
*To the credit of the translators of the Common Version (the King James Version) it should be stated that the English word hell has gradually come to have a very different meaning from what it once had, and that when used by them in the sixteenth century, the word hell still retained much of its original meaning which made it a fair equivalent for the Greek and Hebrew words they used it to translate. There is no such excuse, however, for modern translators and teachers, for the original meaning has entirely passed from the word, except as found occasionally in old books, giving place to the "hellfire" idea.
The word hell is Anglo Saxon, and in old English usage meant the place of concealment--the hidden, or secret, or covered place. Its transitive verb was hele or hill meaning to hide, to conceal, to cover, to roof. In old English books you will find numerous instances of the use of this word, in connection with roofing of houses, planting, hilling, hiding, etc. To hele a house did not mean to burn it, or torture it, but to cover or thatch it; to hele their potatoes did not mean to burn them, but to conceal them in a pit; and so likewise when men were heled there was no thought of fire, torture and pain, but of covering, concealing, etc. Both good and bad were thus heled or buried.
Conceal is the corresponding word from the Latin. See Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, under hell, hele, hill and conceal. From this it will be seen that the use of the word hell by the translators of the King James' Version, was at a time when the word hell had not so utterly changed its meaning as at present. Yet modern translators and ministers, who well know that the word hell, as now used, does not cover the thought of hades of the Greek, or sheol of the Hebrew, refuse to enlighten their credulous flocks.
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said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell [grave] are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore, saith the Lord...Your covenant with death shall be dis-annulled, and your agreement with hell [grave] shall not stand." [God thus declares that the present prevalent idea, by which death and the grave are represented as friends rather than enemies, shall cease; and men shall learn that death is the wages of sin and that it is in Satan's power now, (`Rom. 6:23` and `Heb. 2:14`) and not an angel sent of God.]
ALL OTHER PLACES WHERE SHEOL OCCURS --RENDERED GRAVE AND PIT.
`Gen. 37:35`.--"I will go down into the grave unto my son."
`Gen. 42:38`.--"Then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave."--See also the same expression in `44:29,31`.
`1 Sam. 2:6`.--"The Lord killeth and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up."
`1 Kings 2:6,9`.--"Let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace." "His hoar head bring down to the grave with blood."
`Job 7:9`.--"He that goeth down to the grave."
`Job 14:13`.--"O that thou wouldst hide me in the grave, that thou wouldst keep me secret until thy wrath is past, that thou wouldst appoint me a set time and remember me"--resurrect me.
`Job 17:13`.--"If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness." Job waits for resurrection-- "in the morning."
`Job 21:13`.--"They spend their days in mirth, and in a moment go down to the grave."
`Job 24:19,20`.--"Drought and heat consume the snow waters; so doth the grave those which have sinned."--All have sinned, hence "Death has passed upon all" and all go down to the grave. But all have been redeemed, hence all shall be awakened and come forth again in God's due time--"In the morning."
`Psa. 6:5`.--"In death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
`Psa. 30:3`.--"O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit"--recovery from danger of death.
`Psa. 31:17`.--"Let the wicked be ashamed; let them be silent in the grave."
`Psa. 49:14,15`--margin.--"Like sheep they are laid in the grave, death shall feed on them; and the upright [the saints-- `Dan. 7:27`] shall have dominion over them in the morning [the Millennial morning]; and their beauty shall consume, the grave being an habitation to every one of them. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave."
`Psa. 88:3`.--"My life draweth nigh unto the grave."
`Psa. 89:48`.--"Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?"
`Psa. 141:7`.--"Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth."
`Prov. 1:12`.--"Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole as those that go down into the pit," [i.e. as of an earthquake as in `Num. 16:30-33`.]
`Prov. 30:15,16`.--"Four things say not, It is enough: the grave," etc.
`Eccl. 9:10`.--"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
`Job 17:16`.--"They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust."
`Song of Sol. 8:6`.--"Jealousy is cruel as the grave."
`Isa. 14:11`.--"Thy pomp is brought down to the grave."
`Isa. 38:10`.--"I shall go to the gates of the grave; I am deprived of the residue of my years."
`Isa. 38:18`.--"The grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth."
`Num. 16:31-33`.--"The ground clave asunder that was under them, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. They and all that appertained to them went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation."
`Ezek. 31:15`.--"In the day when he went down to the grave."
`Hosea 13:14`.--"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: Repentance shall be hid from mine eyes." [The Lord did not ransom any from a place of fire and torment, for there is no such place; but he did ransom all mankind from the grave, from death, the penalty brought upon all by Adam's sin, as this verse declares.] And shortly now we trust he will destroy death and the grave, and every vestige of Adam's penalty, as is also declared in this verse. This sheol, hell or grave shall be destroyed, that all may come to a full knowledge of the truth, and if they then will, [by obedience] they may live forever.
The above list includes every instance of the use of the English word hell and the Hebrew word sheol. From this examination it must be evident to all readers, that the Old Testament, covering God's revelation for four thousand years, contains not a single hint of hell, as the word is now understood. In our next issue we will consider all the places in the New Testament where this word hell occurs.
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THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS.
This parable, recorded in `Luke 16:19-31`, is generally regarded as being the utterance of our Lord (though nothing is said of his having uttered it), and we so regard it.
The great difficulty with many is, that though they call it a parable, they reason on it, and draw conclusions from it, as though it were a literal statement and not a parable. To think of it as a literal statement involves quite a number of absurdities: for instance, that the rich man went to hell because he had enjoyed many earthly blessings and gave nothing but crumbs to Lazarus. Not a word is said about his wickedness. Again, Lazarus is blessed, not because he is a sincere child of God, full of faith and trust--not because he was good, but simply because he was poor and sick. If this be understood literally, the only logical lesson to be drawn from it is, that unless you are a poor beggar, full of sores, you will never enter into future bliss, and if now you wear any "fine linen" and "purple" and have plenty to eat every day, you are sure to go to hades. Again, the place of bliss is "Abraham's bosom," and if the whole statement is literal, the bosom must be literal and would not hold very many of earth's millions of sick and poor. But why consider the absurdities? All unprejudiced minds recognize it as a parable.
As a parable, how shall we understand it? We answer, that a parable is one thing said, another thing meant; we know this from some of the parables explained by Jesus: for instance, the parable of the "Wheat and Tares." From his explanation we learn that when in that parable he said wheat, he meant "children of the kingdom;" when he said tares, he meant (to those who would understand the parable) "the children of the devil;" when he said reapers, angels were to be understood, etc. (See `Matt. 13`). So you will find it in every parable explained by our Lord; the thing said is never the thing meant; consequently in this parable "a rich man" means something else. Lazarus and Abraham's bosom are not literal, but represent some class or condition. In attempting to expound a parable such as this, an explanation of which the Lord does not furnish us, modesty in expressing our opinion regarding it is certainly appropriate. We therefore offer the following explanation without any attempt to force our views upon the reader, except so far as his own truth-enlightened judgment may commend them, as in accord with God's Word and plan. To our understanding the "rich man" represented the Jewish nation. At the time of the utterance of the parable, and for a long time previous, they had "fared sumptuously every day" --being the especial recipients of God's favors. As Paul says: "What advantage then hath the Jew? Much every way; chiefly, because to them was committed the oracles of God."--[Law and Prophecy.] The promises to Abraham and David invested the people with royalty, as represented by the rich man's "purple." The ritual and (typical) sacrifices of the Law constituted them, in a typical sense, a holy nation--righteous-- represented by the rich man's "fine linen."--Fine linen is a symbol of righteousness. --`Rev. 19:8`.
Lazarus represented the Gentiles--all nations of the world aside from the Israelites. These, at the time of the utterance of this parable, were entirely destitute of those blessings which Israel enjoyed; they lay at the gate of the rich man. No rich promises of royalty were theirs; not even typically were they cleansed; but in moral sickness, pollution, and sin they were companions of "dogs." Dogs were regarded as detestable creatures in those days, and the typically clean Jew called the outsiders "heathen" and "dogs," and would never eat with them, nor marry nor have any dealings with them.--`John 4:9`. As to the "eating the crumbs (of favor) which fell from the rich man's table" of bounties, Jesus' words to the Syro-Phoenician woman give us a key. He said to this Gentile woman--"It is not meet (proper) to take the children's (Israelites) bread and give it to the dogs" (Gentiles); and she answered, "Truth, Lord, but the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."--`Matt. 15:27`. Jesus healed her daughter, thus giving the desired crumb of favor. But there came a time when the typical righteousness ceased--when the promise of royalty ceased to be theirs, and the kingdom was taken from them to be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.--`Matt. 21:43`. The rich man died to all these special advantages and soon he (the Jewish nation) found himself in "gehenna fire"--a cast-off condition, in trouble, tribulation and affliction, in which they have suffered from that day to this.
Lazarus also died: the condition of the Gentiles underwent a change, and from the Gentiles many were carried by the angels (messengers, apostles, etc.) to Abraham's bosom. Abraham is represented as the father of the faithful, and receives to his bosom all the children of faith, who thus are recognized as the heirs to all the promises made to Abraham. For the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God, but the "children of the promise are counted for the seed" (children of Abraham) "which seed is Christ,"--and "if ye be Christ's then are ye (believers) Abraham's seed (children) and heirs according to the (Abrahamic) promise."--`Gal. 3:29`. Yes, the condition of things then existing terminated by death--at the death of Jesus --"for if one died for all, then were all dead." There the Jew was cast off and has since been shown "no favor," and the poor Gentiles who before had been "aliens from the commonwealth (the promises) of Israel and without God and having no hope in the world," were then "made nigh by the blood of Christ" and "reconciled to God."--`Eph. 2:13`. If the two tribes living in Judea (Judah and Benjamin) were represented by one rich man, would it not be in harmony to suppose that the five brethren represented the remaining ten tribes, who had "Moses and the Prophets" as their instructors? The question relative to them was doubtless introduced to show that all special favor of God ceased to the ten tribes, as well as to the two directly addressed. It seems to us evident, that Israel only was meant, for none other nation than Israel had "Moses and the prophets" as instructors.
In a word, this parable seems to teach precisely what Paul explained in `Rom. 11:19-31`, how that because of unbelief, the natural branches were broken off, and the wild branches grafted into the Abrahamic promises. In the parable, Jesus leaves them in trouble, and does not refer to their final restoration to favor, doubtless because it was not pertinent to the feature of the subject treated; but Paul assures us, that when the fullness of the Gentiles--the Bride--be come in, "they (the Israelites) shall obtain mercy through your (the Church's) mercy." He assures us that this is God's covenant with fleshly Israel (who lost the higher--spiritual --promises, but are still the possessors of certain earthly promises), to become the chief nation of earth, etc. In proof of this statement, he quotes the Prophets, saying: "The deliverer shall come out of Zion, (the glorified church,) and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob," (the fleshly seed). "As concerning the Gospel, (high calling) they are enemies, (cast off) for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes." "For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" --`Rom. 11:30-32`.
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"I HAVE been reading about holiness," said one to me the other day: "I do wish I could find it."
"Find IT?" I said, "you mean find HIM. Holiness is in Jesus. As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God."
A week after my friend came to me with a radiant face: "I have found it in HIM."
We think and talk of holiness as if it were getting into the King's garden, climbing over a wall by a tremendous effort, or getting in as a great favor, and plucking a flower which we wear in its fragrance for a day, then keep it pressed and treasured, a faded remembrance of the King's grace. No, holiness is ours only when we open the door of our heart
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unto the King that He Himself may come in and make this barren place the garden of the Lord, a very paradise wherein He may walk and talk with His child.--Sel.
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WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.
"So shall it be at the end of the world [age]: the angels [messengers] shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."--`Matt. 13:49,50`.
These words follow one of our Lord's parables which represented the kingdom of heaven as it exists in its incipient and imperfected stage in this age--which in its widest sense is the nominal Christian church--as a net cast into the sea (the world) which gathered fish of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. In harmony also with this parable are those words of our Lord to the fishermen of Galilee, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (`Matt. 4:19`).
This net was first cast into the sea at the beginning of the Gospel Age when the Christian Church was first established. It has been out during the entire age; and now in the time of harvest it is drawn to shore, and the most desirable fish for the purpose for which God is making the present selection, are being gathered out and the rest cast away.
The great Fisherman has no special use for any more or other than the one kind of fish now, though by and by in his own good time, "the abundance of the sea shall be converted."--`Isa. 60:5`.
It should also be noticed, that when the net is drawn to shore, the work of the fishermen is not to dive into the sea either with a net or with hook and line to gather more fish: enough have been gathered for the present purpose; the net which the Lord sent out at the beginning of the age is full, and the present work, as indicated by the parable, is to sort and separate the fish already gathered. Let those in the sea remain there for the present, and any in the net not suitable for the present purpose (the "high calling") will be rejected and cast one side as unfit for present purposes. This is another figure of the harvest work, and how clearly it indicates and marks out the exact work of the present hour. When he had finished the parable Jesus said to his disciples, "Have ye understood all these things?" and they answered "Yea, Lord." "Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is a householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure, things new and old"--thus implying that those who understand the parable and the plan of God as indicated by it, and who are instructed from the Scriptures with reference to the kingdom of heaven, will be able to see the new features of his work as well as the old, whenever the new features become due. And therefore they will not reject the new features because they are new, but will be ready promptly, both to work by and teach the new unfoldings of God's plans. They will not insist on keeping the net out to catch more, but under the Master's eye will be ready to attend to the new work of separating.
So--in a manner similar to that indicated in the parable--shall it be in the end or harvest of this age. And as we are now living in the very time indicated, we see this very separating work going on in our midst. Truly the great net, the nominal gospel church, has gathered in fish of all kinds, and multitudes of them. And now the angels, the messengers of God--the saints who are acquainted with his word and plan, go forth commissioned of God through his Word, and by the presentation of his unfolding truth they are now accomplishing the great work of separation in the church nominal--of good and bad fish, of wheat and tares, of loyal and consecrated saints and lukewarm and hypocritical professors. Those in the net who are not really of the kingdom of heaven, and who therefore should not be in the net, but should still be in the sea (the world) where they actually belong, shall be subjected to rough handling in this time of separating, as illustrated in the parable of the tares being cast into the furnace of fire--the great trouble which shall undermine, overthrow, and finally completely destroy the nominal systems--the nominal churches and the nominal kingdoms of Christ. We say, the nominal kingdoms of Christ; for all the civilized governments claim to be kingdoms of Christ, as moral societies generally claim to be churches of Christ, while really our Lord recognizes only one church, and one kingdom not yet set up in power and authority over the world.
In that great time of trouble there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth--bitter disappointment, great chagrin. The gnashing or gritting of teeth symbolically expresses the vexation and anger of those in whom the truth only awakens a spirit of opposition and hatred against the Lord's messengers and against his plans which run counter to their prejudices, pride and plans. Those who have not the spirit of truth, will not, and do not meet the truth with candor and an earnest effort to prove what is truth and what is error. The truth they do not want, and even so much of it as they see, they endeavor to cover and hide; and their reasonings against it partake more of the nature of sarcasm, sophistry and enmity, than of sound scriptural reasonings. In their fruitless efforts to substantiate errors which they have come to reverence and love, they will contradict each other's arguments, as well as the arguments of their predecessors who helped to found or establish the errors. This, in the symbolic language of Revelation, is called "gnawing their tongues in pain." All such opposition to the truth is the gnashing of teeth predicted; and we may expect to see more and more of it as the harvest work continues.
Not only will those merely professors in the nominal church be thus rejected in this "harvest" separation, but some of the true children of God will also be rejected and get into the wailing and gnashing of teeth condition, because they have assimilated with the worldly minded and have become imbued with the "spirit of the world"--plans, ideas, aims, etc., which are worldly; for instance, the upbuilding of the various sects in numbers, wealth, or both, rather than the service of the TRUTH, and of the true "body of Christ." These fish are not "good" in the sense of the parable; i.e., they are not fit for the purpose of the present selection. They are undeveloped--not overcomers of the world, but are overcome by the world--by the spirit, ideas and disposition of the worldly minded. Their case is mentioned by our Lord in `Matt. 24:51`. He says: He will cut him assunder, [separate him from the real "body"] and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites--with the tares in the trouble, though only an unripe grain of wheat.
It should be clearly recognized by all that our Lord's parables nearly all relate to the Church only. In every instance where they refer to "the Kingdom of heaven," it is the Church, not the world surely, except when the worldly are shown as improperly getting into and identified with the church nominal. Thus in these two parables now briefly considered, wheat and tares, as well as good and bad fish, represent classes and mixtures IN THE CHURCH, and have no reference whatever to the non-professing "world," which in the one parable is represented by the sea, and in the other by the field. So then the great bundles of tares which daily are being bound tighter and tighter--organized more and more thoroughly and systematically, are all parts of the nominal Church of Christ. The great Reaper comes to harvest his wheat, and separates from his own FREE ones (`Matt. 13:30,41`) all those bound in bundles by human traditions and by a worldly spirit. And the symbolic burning of these, represents the trouble coming upon so-called Christendom [Christ's nominal Kingdom.] This imposing worldly structure with its many divisions, or sects, will entirely consume: that is, it will cease to be. The people will not perish, but the systems will perish, and the imitation saints (tares) will cease to be such imitations, and will pass for what they really are--members of the "world" and not of the select church-- some of them moral, benevolent, kind, good people, but not of the class recognized in Scripture as the "overcomers," the bride and joint-heirs with Christ, to whom alone God has promised and will give the Kingdom. This is the scene in which God will gather out of his Kingdom all things that offend [that are not acceptable to him as joint-heirs with Christ]. None of the sects can claim to be this one true church which God has all along recognized, which already contains all the wheat. The true Church of God throughout the Gospel Age has always consisted only of those wholly consecrated believers "whose names are written in heaven;" none of them have ever been missed from their Father's sight and care though often the world did not at all recognize this true "body of Christ," being attracted to look rather at the many churches of men whose names were written on earth, whose outward show and pomp and ceremonies and titles correspond more to the world's ideas. But now in the "harvest," it is the Father's plan and the Chief Reaper's work to disabuse the world of its wrong ideas on this and other subjects; and He will show forth soon the living members of the REAL CHURCH as a sample of those he has been choosing all along during the age.
As in the harvest at the close of the Jewish Age, so in this harvest, the "remnant" which the Lord will own as his, will contain few of the Chief Priests, Scribes, Pharisees--few of the Clergy or great ones, many more of the "laity" or "common people," those reckoned publicans and sinners in comparison with the "holier than thou" ministers and priests. So our Lord plainly indicated when in his prayer he said: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the [worldly] wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." `Luke 10:21`. See also `1 Cor. 1:26-31`.
The fact then that not many of earth's wise and great receive and preach these "harvest" truths, is not an argument against them. Remember that among the Apostles, only Paul was before a theologian--a Pharisee. How hardly shall they that have riches [earthly honors and wealth--of talents, of respect, etc., as well as of gold] enter into the Kingdom of God. God chooses such a method in selecting the "little flock" as will cost each the loss of these to obtain the prize he offers. Thus God selects and proves the "overcomers." None are so poor that fidelity to the truth will not cost them something--even all they have.
Let us, dearly beloved, make our calling and election to this great prize sure, by doing as did the Apostles, following the Lord, one of whom wrote, "I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him ...: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto THE resurrection of THE dead."--`Phil. 3:8-11`.
"Not many rich or noble called
Not many great or wise;
They whom God makes His kings and priests
Are poor in human eyes."
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AN ACCUSER SILENCED.
Two fellow-travellers were seated together in a railway carriage engaged in earnest conversation. It was of a religious nature, and one of them, a skeptic, was evidently seeking to excuse his skepticism by expatiating on the various evils which afflict Christendom. He was detailing, with manifest pleasure, the hypocrisy and the craft and the covetousness and the divisions found in the professing Church, and then he pointed to some of the leaders, as the most markedly corrupt of the whole.
In front of them sat a Christian who was compelled to hear all this. Had he felt the accusations to be false, he might have suffered them all, as a part of the hatred the world bears toward Christ, and been truly happy in so suffering; but he knew them to be true--too true to be concealed from the most charitable mind, so all he could do was to bow his head and bear the deserved reproach.
Soon, however, the accuser, anxious to extend the circle of his audience, addressed this fellow passenger in front of him.
"I see you are quick to detect evil," answered the Christian, "and you read character pretty well. You have been uncovering here the abominable things which have turned Christendom into a wreck, and are fast ripening it for the judgment of God. You have spared none but given all a good measure. Now I am a Christian, and I love the Lord Jesus and his people. Not a word shall I offer in defense, but I here solemnly challenge you to speak the first word against the Lord Jesus Christ Himself."
The skeptic was surprised. He seemed almost frightened, and sheepishly replied, "Well, no; I couldn't find fault with Him. He was perfect."
"Just so," said the Christian; "and therefore was my heart attracted to Him; and the more I look at Him, the more I found I wasn't like Him at all, but only a poor, sinful, guilty man. But tell me yourself if I haven't a right to be happy and to love Him when I found out that He had died for me; that on the cross He had fully paid all my debt, and thus cleared me of all guilt? Ever since then I truly love Him, and all the evil which professed followers of His may do, cannot turn me away from Him. My salvation hangs on what He has done, and not on what they are doing."--Horatius Bonar.
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"He said to Jesus, Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. And he [Jesus] said to him, Indeed I say to thee this day thou shalt be with me in Paradise."--`Luke 23:42,43`.-- Diaglott.
Those who consider salvation to be an escape from everlasting torture to a paradise of pleasure, and dependent only on accidental circumstances of favor, see in this narration the doctrine of election exemplified --Jesus, being pleased by the consoling words of the one thief, elected him to heaven, and equally elected that the other should roast to all eternity, unpitied, unrelieved. Truly if God has made salvation such a lottery, such a chance thing, those who believe it to be such should have little to say against church lotteries, and less against worldly ones.
But this is not the case. The scripture has evidently been much misunderstood. To get its true import, let us take in the surroundings and connections.
Jesus had just been condemned, and was now being executed on the charge of treason to Caesar's government, in saying that He was a king: though he had told them that his kingdom was "not of this world." There, upon the cross above his head, was the inscription of his charged crime, written in three languages: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." All knew of his claims and derided him, except one of the thieves crucified with him. Doubtless he had heard of Jesus and of his wonderful character, and said in his heart: This is truly a strange and wonderful man; who can know that there is no foundation to his claims? He certainly lives close to God: I will speak to him in sympathy; it can do no harm. Then he rebuked his companion, mentioning the innocence of Jesus, and, turning to Jesus, the conversation noted above took place.
We cannot suppose that this thief had any correct or definite idea of Jesus-- nothing more than a mere feeling that he was about to die, and a straw of hope was better than nothing. To give him credit for more would be to place him in faith ahead of all Apostles and followers of Jesus, who at this time had left him and fled, and who three days after, said: "We [had] trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel."
We can have no doubt as to the import of his petition; he meant that whenever Jesus reached his kingdom power, he desired favor. Now, note Jesus' answer. He does not say that he has no kingdom, but on the contrary, by his response he indicates that the thief's request was proper. The word translated "verily," or "indeed," is the Greek word "amen," and signifies "so be it," as you have asked: "I say to thee this day, [this dark day, when it seems as though I am an imposter and about to die as a felon,] thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
Now the substance of this is, that when the Lord has established his kingdom, the thief will be remembered and be in Paradise. Notice that we have changed the comma from before to after to-day. This makes it perfectly clear and reasonable. Jesus might have told the thief more if he had chosen. He might have told him that the reason he should be privileged to come to Paradise was because he was paying his ransom then and there --dying for his sins. He might have told him further that he was dying for and ransoming also the other thief, as well as the whole gaping and deriding multitude before him; as well as the millions yet unborn and millions then entombed. We know this, because we know that "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man," and that as in Adam, or on his account, all die, even so in Christ, or on his account, shall all be made alive and be privileged to come back to that Edenic condition forfeited by the first man's sin, and redeemed for men by Christ's righteous sacrifice.
As already shown, the garden of Eden was but an illustration of the perfect and beautiful earth when fully released from the curse. The word Paradise is of Arabic origin, not Greek--it signifies a garden. The Septuagint renders `Gen. 2:8` thus: "God planted a paradise in Eden." When Jesus has established his kingdom, bound evil, etc., this earth will become a paradise, and the two thieves and all that are in their graves shall come into it. And by becoming obedient to its laws they may live forever in it. We doubt not, however, that the kind words spoken in that dark hour to the Lord of glory, will no more lose a suitable reward than the gift of a cup of cold water, or other small kindnesses done to those whom this King is "not ashamed to call his brethren."
But have we the right to change the comma? Certainly: the punctuation of the Bible is not inspired. The writers of the Bible used no punctuation. It was invented about four hundred years ago. It is merely a modern convenience, and should be so used as to bring out sense and harmony with all other Scriptures. This harmony and sense is obtained only by the punctuation we have given above. To read it as usually punctuated, it would teach that Jesus and the thief went away somewhere that day, which is contrary to the following Scriptures, which read carefully: `Luke 24:46`; `John 20:17`; `John 3:13`. In the latter text note that the words, "which is in heaven," are an interpolation as shown by the oldest MSS.
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THE IRON WOLF.
"I conducted, two months ago," said a clergyman, "the funeral services of one of my parishioners. He had been a farmer. Forty years ago he had commenced work with one hundred acres of land, and he ended with one hundred. He was a skillful, industrious working-man, but he had laid by no money in the bank. I understood the reason as I listened to the comments of his friends and neighbors.
"'It was always a warm, hospitable house,' said one. 'The poor man was never turned away from that door. His sons and daughters all received the best education which his means could command. One is a clergyman, one a civil engineer, two are teachers--all lead useful and happy lives.'
"Said another: 'Those children sitting there weeping are the orphans of a friend. He gave them a home. That crippled girl is his wife's niece. She lived with them for years. That young fellow who is also weeping so bitterly, was a waif that he rescued from the slums of the city.'
"And so the story went on--not of a miser who had heaped dollar upon dollar, but of a servant of God who helped many lives, and had lifted many of them out of misery and ignorance into life and joy.
"On my way home from the funeral I stopped at the farm of another parishioner, who said to me in a shrill, rasping tone:
"'So poor Gould is dead! He left a poor account--not a penny more than he got from his father. Now I started with nothing; and look here,' pointing to his broad fields. 'I own down to the creek. D'ye know why? When I started to keep house I brought this into it the first thing,' taking an iron savings-bank in the shape of a wolf out of the closet. 'Every penny I could save went into its jaws. It is surprising how many pennies you can save when you've a purpose. My purpose was to die worth $100,000. Other folks ate meat; we ate molasses. Other folks dressed their wives in merino; mine wore calico. Other men wasted money on schooling; my boys and girls learned to work early and keep it up late. I wasted no money on churches, sick people, paupers, and books. And,' he concluded triumphantly, 'now I own to the creek; and that land with the fields yonder, and the stock in the barns, are worth $100,000. Do you see it?'
"And on the thin, hard lips was a wretched attempt to laugh. The house was bare and comfortless; his wife, worn out with work, had long ago gone to her grave. Of his children, taught only to make money a god, one daughter, starved in body and mind, was still drudging in the kitchen; one son had taken to drink, having no other resource, and died in prison. The other, a harder miser than his father, remained at home to fight with him over every penny wrung out of their fertile fields.
"Yesterday I buried this man," continued the clergyman. "Neither neighbor nor friend, son nor daughter, shed a tear over him. His children were eager to begin the quarrel for the ground he had sacrificed his life to earn. Of it all he had now only enough to cover his decaying body. Economy for a noble purpose is a virtue; but in the house of some it is avarice, and like a wolf, devours intelligence, religion, hope and life itself." --Friendly Companion.
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THE KING AND THE POPE.
The King of Italy and the Pope are not on anything like the distant terms which the popular idea ascribes to them. The "prisoner of the Vatican," as the Church likes to call the Pope, is no prisoner at all in any true sense. Neither is the King the obdurate enemy of the Church he is sometimes represented. In simpler terms, there is masking in Rome on both sides, a fact with which Catholics even, throughout the world, it is probable are not perfectly familiar.
We are assured from Rome that there is a secret understanding between the King and the Pope, and that it will not be long when the settlement will be made that will end forever all misunderstandings, --at least such is said to be the intention.
Some time ago it was alleged that the Pope had extensive plans for regaining temporal power and that the prospect was good for his plans. Whether what is now on foot has this realization in view, nothing certain is known. It is certain, however, that the Italian Government has made important concessions with mutual benefits in view.
Italy is ambitious of a place among nations as nearly the head as possible, and of late, the Pope--who is nothing if not a diplomat--has shown a growing desire to mix himself up with the world's affairs something after the fashion of years ago, when the Church was more nearly omnipotent than now.
Late accounts from Rome declare that at the recent Parliamentary elections throughout the country, in every case the names of the Government candidates were identical with those put forward and supported by the Papal party. In nothing does the Italian Government seem to have changed its policy. Nothing on the surface shows what the understanding is, though that there is one is shown in a number of ways.--Pitts. Times, Nov. 1.
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"The true doctrine is not our right to think for ourselves, but the right of the other man to think for himself."
The impression very widely prevails that the battle for Christian liberty has been fought and won. So far as regards precaution of the more active kind, this is the case in the larger part of the civilized world. The right of the minority to free speech and free action in the line of conscientious conviction, is, in theory at least, conceded.
But it is a mistake to assume that because harsh laws have been softened, human nature has been radically changed. The grosser forms of persecution have disappeared, but subtler forms remain. The intolerant spirit has survived the death of many institutions by which intolerance was once manifested. Christian liberty is still, in a considerable degree, conceded only in theory. Men still endeavor to punish those who have the temerity to differ from them.
There is no cause for astonishment at this manifestation of inconsistency. It is one of the curious things in human history to see how generally the persecuted have become in turn the persecutors the moment the power was lodged in their hands. And why? Because the true principle of Christian liberty had not been grasped, and is to this day apprehended by only a few. The right of any body of men to differ from others has always been claimed by them; there is no novelty in that. From the beginning, every Christian sect that has arisen has vehemently contended for its right to differ from others. It has protested against persecution--that is to say, the persecution of itself by others. But in few cases has any sect conceded the right of others to differ from it, or forborne to persecute when it had the power. And in our own day each man is prompt to claim and assert the right to think for himself, but how loth most are to concede the equal right of all other men to think for themselves. Every one resents any attempt to coerce him into the avowal of anything that he does not honestly believe, but how few fail to attempt to coerce others.
The true doctrine of Christian liberty is not our right to think for ourselves, but the right of the other man to think for himself. There is no danger now that our right will not be insisted upon and enforced, particularly if our thinking happens to fall in with that of the majority. It is the other man's liberty that is in danger, particularly if he is in the minority. It is his liberty that demands defense at all hazards; for, if liberty is denied him, how long will it be conceded to us?
To demand liberty for the other man, even when he differs from us, is not to admit that truth and error are essentially one, or to deny that it is of great consequence what the other man believes and teaches. It may be our duty to oppose with all our might what he teaches, to denounce it as a deadly error. But this may be done without identifying the man with what he teaches, and without the display of the spirit of intolerance and persecution. We need not try to make the man odious because his opinion is odious to us. To be loyal to the truth, and yet faithfully to recognize the equal rights of all men to free thought and free speech, is not always an easy task. The two may, however, be combined. And nothing can be more certain than that the preservation of Christian liberty for any, is conditioned on the concession of that liberty for all.--N.Y. Examiner.
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CHRIST THE CENTRE.
As the sun is the centre of our solar system, so Christ is the Christian's sun and centre of desire. As gravitation holds the planets in their proper orbits, so love holds the trusting heart in the pathway of willing obedience. As in completing the solar circuit, the earth receives the pleasing variety of seasons adapted to beauty and health, and to promote all organic life, so in our loving service of Christ, there is a pleasing and useful variety of gracious and profitable experiences. Sometimes fierce storms sweep across our pathway to drive us into the shelter of his promised grace. Sometimes the cold repulsiveness of the world's unbelief and sin chills us like a winter's blast, driving us to the central, steady sunlight of a Savior's constant love, causing springtime to burst forth in the Christian's heart, and bursting buds of developing faith and love to expand into the fruits of Christian grace. But there is no winter in the sun. And he who has the Sun of Righteousness in his heart will have constantly the springtime of his abiding love.
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IMMORTALITY AND INCORRUPTION.
The following, in answer to a correspondent's question, may be of general interest to our readers:--
The Greek word aphtharsia is rendered immortality in `Rom. 2:7` and `2 Tim. 1:10`. The same word is rendered sincerity in `Eph. 6:24` and `Titus 2:7`; and incorruption in `1 Cor. 15:42,50,53,54`.
The Greek word aphthartos is rendered immortal in `1 Tim. 1:17`; and incorruptible in `Rom. 1:23`, `1 Cor. 9:25` and `15:52`, and `1 Pet. 1:4,23` and `3:4`.
These are the only occurrences of this word. The Greek word athanasia is translated immortality, but three times--`1 Cor. 15:53,54` and `1 Tim. 6:16`.
Both these words are given the sense of immortal, by lexicographers. Liddell and Scott, standard authorities, give it thus. Plutarch uses aphthartos as incorruptible, immortal. And it seems to be the exact word corresponding to our words, incorruptible [not liable to corrupt, or to be corrupted], and immortal [not mortal-- not subject or liable to death].
Athanasia, while it is properly translated immortal according to usage, does not so much have the sense of not liable to die, as that of unchangeability. Hence aphthartos is the word which most closely corresponds to our word immortal, i.e., not mortal, not perishable, not corruptible. This is shown by the relationship between corruptible and incorruptible in `1 Cor. 15:53 and 54`, which in the Greek as in the English stand related, of the same root, the Greek being phthartos and aphthartos. Not so, however, the words mortal and immortal in the same verses. In the English these words are closely related, but the Greek uses words totally distinct and not related--thnetos and athanasia, the sense being, "This mortal [dying condition] shall put on [or assume] immortality" [a lasting or unchangeable condition].
So, then, the attempt of some to make out that incorruptible refers to one state, and immortality to another, is without foundation, and probably the result of lack of thoroughness in the examination of the subject. Prof. Young, Liddell and Scott, and all translators are right in using the two English words immortal and incorruptible interchangeably. As above suggested, however, we would have preferred it had athanasia been translated unchangeability in the three cases where it occurs, although our word immortality covers the idea of unchangeability.
With this change `1 Cor. 15:53,54` would read thus:--"The [special] dead [i.e., the saints] will be raised incorruptible [i.e., immortal, not liable to corrupt, decay, or perish] and we [of the same special class] shall be changed." "For of necessity this corruptible [diseased, perishable condition] must be invested with incorruptibility [imperishable quality] and this mortal [dying condition] must be invested with immortality" [unchangeability]. "And when this corruptible [perishable condition] shall be invested with incorruptibility [imperishable quality] and this mortal [dying condition] shall be clothed with unchangeability [immortality], then will that prophetic promise be fulfilled [which says] Death will be swallowed up in victory." That is to say: when this special class, the dead and we, the overcomers, the saints, are changed to undying, changeless conditions, then will that prophecy of `Isaiah 25:8` begin to be fulfilled to the world--the Millennial work of abolishing death and restoring life will then go on successfully.
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DEATH NOT LIFE.
I think we are not warranted in concluding (as some have done), so positively concerning this question, as to make it a point of Christian faith to interpret figuratively, and not literally, the "death" and the "destruction" spoken of in Scripture as the doom of the condemned: and to insist on the belief that they are kept alive forever.
"Life," as applied to their condition, [the condition of the righteous] is usually understood to mean "happy life." And that theirs will be a happy life, we are indeed plainly taught; but I do not think we are anywhere taught that the word "life" does of itself necessarily imply happiness. If so indeed, it would be a mere tautology to speak of a "happy life;" and a contradiction to speak of a "miserable life;" which we know is not the case, according to the usage of any language. In all ages and countries, "life," and the words answering to it in their languages, have always been applied, in ordinary discourse, to a wretched life, no less properly than to a happy one.
Life, therefore, in the received sense of the word would apply equally to the condition of the blest and the condemned, supposing these last to be destined to continue forever living in a state of misery. And yet, to their condition the words "life" and "immortality" never are applied in Scripture. If, therefore, we suppose the hearers of Jesus and his Apostles to have understood, as nearly as possible, in the ordinary sense, the words employed, they must naturally have conceived them to mean (if they were taught nothing to the contrary) that the condemned were really and literally to be "destroyed," and cease to exist: not that they were to exist forever in a state of wretchedness. For they are never spoken of as being kept alive, but as forfeiting life; as for instance: "Ye will not come unto me that ye may have life;"--"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." And again, "perdition," "death," "destruction," are employed in numerous passages to express the doom of the condemned. All which expressions would, as I have said, be naturally taken in their usual and obvious sense, if nothing were taught to the contrary.-- Archbishop Whately.
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
Canton, O., Nov. 11th, '87.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I present as a brief report of work done in the two weeks in Canton, the following: 500 DAWNS piled up in our room and nearly all engaged, beside nearly 100 copies already gone out to subscribers. In addition they call for a full course of lectures. We truly have great favor and a season of peace, speaking comparatively.
The ever welcome TOWER at hand, and if I can see my way clear, will have Ohio drenched with "Arp Slips." I have on some occasions given "slips" to refusers of DAWN, who afterward ran after me to subscribe or buy. Its influence seems to be always GOOD. Please send me more of the Arp slips.
I enclose Ten dollars for the Tract Fund, but if you think best send the timely "Arp Slips" into Ohio to the value of the sum mentioned, and some brother or sister may add sufficient to supply the state fully.
You may get ready 250 DAWNS for Massilon, O. The 1000 for Columbus may wait until Christmas or Dec. 20th at least. Expect another opening to preach at Salem, O., and have fully announced the lectures here. Canton is aroused. In Christ, J. B. ADAMSON.
::R1001 : page 8::
Peekville, Pa., Nov. 15th, '87.
DEAR SIR:--I lately got hold of your book, "Millennial Dawn," and the outside cover had just enough left to give your address. Now if I can get the books and paper, and especially Vol. II, please let me know at once, and I will send money for them for myself and for a friend.
I have been a member of the M.E. church for a number of years, but have often felt that we did not get all of the gospel. Your book has opened the holy Scriptures to my view in a new and wonderful light, and I am anxious to be further instructed in this way. I have always been taught from infancy until now--and I am over 40 years old--that this life is the only probation, and that at death our eternal destiny was unalterably fixed, and it nearly took my breath away when I found that no such assertion was made either in the Old or New Testament, and I am familiar with the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.
This book has opened my eyes to some of the most blessed truths, and its perusal has filled my heart anew with the love of our God, and for the last few days I have felt like a newly converted man. I hoped all along until the last page was reached that I might find something about the rich man and Lazarus. I felt sadly disappointed when I did not find anything. Well, God bless you, Yours truly,
Millard, Neb., Nov. 14th, 87.
MY DEAR SISTER RUSSELL:--Four Dawns sent last week are sold. People ask for them.
I asked God to take care of this work and he is doing it. Mr. R. is very much interested in it too. He tells me at once when he sells one for me, as he knows it does me so much real good.
Train men and travelling men are all eager for it. They read Bill Arp's comments and then want the book. I have them pinned up in the waiting room. I would like some more of them for sending away in letters.
I had a letter from my cousin to whom you wrote, telling me that her son, a young man of twenty, had given up all and gone out to sell Dawns. May God bless him and his efforts.
With love to you and Bro. R. May God bless you and forward the work while it is yet day. Yours in the faith,
MRS. L. E. R.
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Northumberland Co., Pa., Nov. 11th, '87.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--Please send me ten more paper covered Dawns for which you will find enclosed $2.50, and also send the "TOWER" to the following address --for one year, and find amt. enclosed.
Brother C. has been converted from infidelity by reading DAWN. His own words are, "I am a changed man." His only Bible for five years past has been Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason." Another skeptic whom I presented with a copy says, I would not take $5.00 for my DAWN if I could not get another. I accept the Bible now, but have rejected it because I thought it taught the doctrine of eternal torment.
The most honest people I have found are among skeptics. O! I wish I could do more to spread the truth. Never have I received such blessings, as since I have consecrated myself to the Master's service in the spread of the truth. I had thought I could send you a list of preachers' names this time, to be supplied with DAWNS, but I find that it is impossible at this time as so many others are beginning to inquire for the truth. Praying for you and the TOWER work, I remain yours in Christ. LEWIS L. EVARTS.
[Some time ago Brother Evarts started to send DAWN to all the ministers in Penna., sending us lists from time to time as he found himself able to afford it. While commending his plan, and especially his zeal, we advised him that he would probably find a larger proportion of honest Bible students out of the pulpits of the nominal churches than in them. It seems from the above that his experience is the same as ours. How like is the present "harvest" to that at the first advent, its prototype or shadow. See `Matt. 23:13`; `Luke 13:52`. The word "lawyers" in this last text corresponds in meaning to the present title of D.D. Doctors of the Law, they were then called, but now Doctors of Divinity.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER: When I became a reader of the TOWER and M. DAWN, I was preparing to enter the ministry of the Baptist faith. I have had a hard, long struggle with friends and creeds, but now I know I can go joyfully to work with whatever ability I possess circulating DAWN for the truth's sake. I enclose money. Please send me 500 "Arp's Joy," and 100 DAWNS. Your Bro. in Christ,
Becca, S.C. S. J. H.