ZWT - 1904 - R3294 thru R3460 / R3403 (225) - August 1, 1904
(Use your Browser's "Find" or "Search" option to search within this page)
VOL. XXV. AUGUST 1, 1904. No. 15.
Views from the Watch Tower........................227
Mixing Worldliness and Godliness..............227
The Vanishing Sense of Sin....................227
Chinese View of Christian
Russian Peoples in Ferment....................229
Fear Not, O Zion!.................................229
"Go, Ye Swift Messengers!"........................230
"If the Lord be God, Follow Him"..................232
Out of Babylon the Great (poem)...................235
"Faint Not Because of Evil Doers".................235
Interesting Questions Answered....................238
LETTERS FOR THE EDITOR SHOULD BE SENT TO ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS AND REMITTANCES
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY "BIBLE HOUSE," 610, 612, 614 ARCH ST., ALLEGHENY, PA., U.S.A.
--OR TO-- BRITISH BRANCH--24 EVERSHOLT ST., LONDON, N.W. GERMAN BRANCH--MIRKER STR., 45, ELBERFELD. AUSTRALIAN BRANCH--32 JOHNSTON ST., FITZROY, MELBOURNE.
PRICE, $1.00 (4S.) A YEAR IN ADVANCE, 5c (2-1/2d.) A COPY. MONEY MAY BE SENT BY EXPRESS, BANK DRAFT, POSTAL ORDER, OR REGISTERED. FROM FOREIGN COUNTRIES BY FOREIGN MONEY ORDERS, ONLY. SPECIAL TERMS TO THE LORD'S POOR AS FOLLOWS:--
Those of the interested who, by reason of old age, or other infirmity or adversity, are unable to pay for the TOWER, will be supplied FREE, if they send a Postal Card each December, stating their case and requesting the paper. We are not only willing, but anxious, that all such be on our list continually.
ENTERED AS SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER AT ALLEGHENY, PA., POST OFFICE.
THIS JOURNAL IS PUBLISHED IN THE FRENCH, GERMAN, SWEDISH, DANISH AND ITALIAN LANGUAGES. SAMPLE COPIES FREE.
"MILLENNIAL DAWN READERS MEET," ETC.
The Cleveland friends inform us that in their announcements of meetings in the daily papers they have long been in doubt as to how to mention their meetings. Lately they have adopted the above style with good results.
We can see the advantages in it. (1) Those who have read the DAWNS will know at once what it means. (2) Some who have the DAWNS but have neglected reading them may be aroused to investigate them. People like to go where others are going and to read what others are reading.
ZION'S GLAD SONGS.
We have this booklet of spiritual songs in large supply again, and orders can be filled promptly. While it is not expected that the "Songs" shall take the place of the noble hymns in the book POEMS AND HYMNS OF DAWN, they will be found appropriate for social meetings and praise services. The price is 5c each, postpaid; 60c per doz.
::R3403 : page 227::
VIEWS FROM THE WATCH TOWER.
MIXING WORLDLINESS AND GODLINESS.
THE secular press informs the world that recently The Pastime Club of Knightsville, Ind., was opened by prayer by the pastor of the Methodist Church of that place--as a compromise with the young folks who were members of his church and also of the club. The pastor and older members attended the dance to see that the "fun" did not go too far, and to stop it if it did. "There was no interruption."
Three days later, in the basement of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Toledo, Ohio, a different kind of "fun" was witnessed. The press account says:--
"The participants were Clark Crawford and Edward Gendon, two local boxers of some note, and the affair was given under the direction of the Young Men's Club of the church. William Parker acted as referee and declared the fight a draw at the end of the third round, but it was in fact "a fight to a finish," as neither one of the fighters would have been able to have finished the bout. While the authorities of the church had given their consent to an athletic entertainment, they were surprised this afternoon to learn that the fight had been the fiercest ever held in Toledo. Another six round bout was given, aside from two wrestling matches."
* * *
We mention these matters, not by way of intimating that no godly people remain in these churches, nor in the denominations which they represent, but as illustrations of the misconception of what a church is and what its mission in the world is.
Under the impression that eternal torment is the future portion of all not in some manner connected with "some church," goodness of heart, benevolence, constantly suggests greater and greater compromises to secure the interest and attendance of young men and women. To get the unconverted interested at all requires worldly attractions, and hence every concession is made that conscience will allow, and some that it does not approve but "winks at."
The lack of a knowledge of God's great plan for the world's salvation, and of his separate and distinct plan for the selection and salvation of the "little flock," the Church, first, has warped all judgment, and is rapidly devitalizing all the denominations of Christendom. Should we labor to combat these worldly tendencies? No, it would be useless: it is the logical result of the errors of doctrine. The whole system--"Christendom"--is full of worldlings: many of them very moral and respectable, but thoroughly unregenerate, unconverted,--ignorant of the principles of Christianity and inclined to regard the few "saints" as fanatics.
The divine plan is the one we should follow--the one with which we should cooperate. God declares that "Christendom," "Babylon," is rejected and now calls on all who are Israelites indeed, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins and receive not of her plagues."--`Rev. 18:3`.
THE VANISHING SENSE OF SIN.
Evolution doctrines and "higher criticism" of the Bible have for years been gradually impressing upon the people that there was no original sin in Eden--no fall from righteousness into the horrible pit and miry clay of sin. Their teaching is that men were at first close akin to monkeys and have been grandly climbing upward. This seed is bringing forth fruitage throughout Christendom, and especially amongst the more intelligent. Let us quote the words of Rev. R. F. Coyle at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, recently held in Buffalo, N.Y. He said:--
"Not only are they largely alienated from the
::R3403 : page 228::
Church, but from alienation they have passed to animosity. Next to this, one can but note the drift of the people in general away from lofty ideals. It is something that should give us pause when conservative journals and conservative public men are constrained to characterize this as an 'age of graft.' Warnings have recently sounded out from both pulpit and bench against the money madness of our times. The President of the United States, in view of the public land frauds and postal peculations, has been forced to say, '"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people" will perish from the earth if bribery is tolerated.' A distinguished prelate of the Roman Catholic Church declares that of all our sins as a people that of dishonesty is most pronounced.
"Linked to this (the fading out of conviction), its fruitage indeed is the vanishing sense of sin. It is winked at and glossed over and condoned. There are no sinners any longer, and especially in the high places of respectability. If there are any lost people, they are down in the slums."
* * *
Another matter which assists in the causing of a realization of sin to vanish from the public conscience is the fact that the creeds unscripturally uphold the thought that the wages of sin is eternal torment. And since the meanest specimens of humanity are instinctively recognized as too good for such a fate, the only rational course left is to depict as sin only the most brutal conduct.
Thus does error act and react injuriously, lowering the moral standard, universally and increasingly. Only the Truth sanctifies. "Sanctify them through thy Truth," was our Master's prayer.
THE DIFFERENCE AND THE REASON FOR IT.
Four Protestant ministers--D.D.'s--recently participated in the dedication of a Jewish synagogue at Columbus, Ohio. All of them made felicitous remarks. One of them, Dr. Lewis, amongst other things, said: "He believed that all creeds should strive together for the abolition of atheism and idolatry. The combination would be invincible. In the past the Jewish creed was strong for the right; in the future it would be strong for right in union with the religions that were followers of Jesus Christ."
Such utter blindness to the fundamentals of Christianity is truly lamentable. The essence of this statement is that any kind of a religion will do except idolatry.
And yet every one of these gentlemen would oppose the real gospel message of the Bible, whose foundation is the "ransom for all" and an opportunity for every child of Adam to learn of the only name given under heaven and among men whereby we must be saved. Every one of them would denounce MILLENNIAL DAWN. Why? Because they are blinded by error; because "the darkness hateth the light."
A CHINESE VIEW OF CHRISTIAN CIVILIZATION.
"A remarkably keen and trenchantly written characterization of Western civilization from an Oriental point of view has been published in a little book entitled, 'Letters from a Chinese Official' (McClure, Phillips). While originally written for an English hearing, the significance of these letters (the anonymous author believes) 'should appeal with a peculiar force to Americans.' Their interest, he says, and justly, depends, 'not upon topical allusions, but upon the whole contrast suggested between Eastern and Western ideals. And America, in a preeminent degree, is representative of the West....What is at stake in the development of the American republic is nothing less than the success or failure of Western civilization.'
"It is not flattering to Occidentals, the comparison drawn between the two civilizations by this Chinaman, who contends that Eastern 'profound mistrust and dislike' of Western ideals are based upon reason. The antiquity of Asiatic civilization, he says, has given a stability to its institutions not found in the West,--it 'embodies a moral order, while in yours we detect only an economic chaos.' 'You profess Christianity, but your civilization has never been Christian; whereas ours is Confucian through and through....Among you, no one is contented, no one has leisure to live, so intent are all on increasing the means of living....We of the East measure the degree of civilization, not by accumulation of the means of living, but by the character and value of the life lived....And we would not if we could rival you in your wealth, your sciences and your arts if we must do so at the cost of imitating your institutions.
::R3404 : page 228::
...While we recognize the greatness of your practical and scientific achievements, yet we find it impossible unreservedly to admire a civilization which has produced manners so coarse, morals so low and an appearance so unlovely as those with which we are constantly confronted in your great cities.'
"Irony of ironies--it is the nations of Christendom that have come to teach us by fire and sword that Right in this world is powerless unless it be supported by Might! Oh, do not doubt that we shall learn the lesson! And woe to Europe when we have acquired it! You are arming a nation of four hundred millions! --a nation which, until you came, had no better wish than to live at peace with themselves and all the world. In the name of Christ, you have sounded the call to arms! In the name of Confucius, we respond!" --Review of Reviews.
AN UNFORTUNATE GERMAN.
We clip the following from the daily press:--
"A sharp watch over the tongue is necessary in Germany nowadays, where a careless remark easily brings the speaker under the heavy hand of the law. A workman attending his father's funeral not long ago was overcome with grief as he turned away from the grave and sobbed out: 'Farewell! We shall never meet again!' His words were reported to a magistrate, who summoned the workman for an outrage against public morals by denying the immortality of
::R3404 : page 229::
the soul and sentenced him to fifteen days' imprisonment."
* * *
The above does not surprise us. Indeed it would not surprise us if similar conditions should yet prevail in these United States. The trend is in that direction, and once the federation of churches is more positively effected, much more arbitrary proceedings may be looked for.
RUSSIAN PEOPLES IN A FERMENT.
News of internal conditions in Russia are difficult to obtain because of the rigid censorship by the Government. Some things leak out, however, which indicate that the great empire composed of various peoples, all more or less oppressed and maltreated, are greatly disaffected and hoping that Russian reverses in the far East may somehow result in their greater liberty--either through a general insurrection or through compelling a more liberal government. The London Standard says:--
"There is a general similarity in the intelligence from all parts concerning the exceptional activity of the secret police, and the frequent disappearances of persons presumably suspected of implication in political plots. In Kronstadt, where an attempt is reported to have been made to injure the forts, there have also been executions under military law. In Moscow recently an eye witness reports that eighty coffins, under military escort, were taken out of the town at dead of night by an unfrequented road which was picketed with soldiers, and buried, presumably in the woods, where soldiers had previously been observed maintaining an inviolable cordon. There is a nervous feeling in the very air, and even the most sober-minded are drawing ominous conclusions from the significant fact that the regiments stationed in European Russia are being retained in their places, and only the reservists called up under the mobilization orders are being forwarded to the front."
A SOCIALIST BISHOP.
Addressing a big congregation of men at Blackburn yesterday on social delusions, Bishop Thornton, vicar of Blackburn, and formerly Bishop of Ballarat, referring to the submerged masses said it was inconceivable that God sent men into the world to exist under such conditions.
A great shaking of the social system was impending, but no remedy would last which divorced sacred from secular things. No wise man could possibly help being both a socialist and a Christian.
He wanted the possession of land and money treated as a trust, the gradual taxation of wealth for the common good, and municipal life slowly and wisely extended, particularly in regard to intemperance and the housing of the people.--Daily Express, London.
::R3405 : page 229::
FEAR NOT, O ZION!
IN a recent issue we showed that the universal anarchy should not be expected before October, 1914 A.D. We have recently heard of two dear brethren who, not grasping the subject very clearly, got the impression that we in that article were declaring, "My Lord delayeth his coming." Other new readers, not well informed, may possibly need a further word to show them that neither the time of the coming of our Lord, nor of the establishment of his Kingdom, are in any degree involved in the date of the final anarchy.
Our Lord's presence, as shown in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., dates from October, 1874, where the forty years' harvest began, of which he is the great Chief Reaper. The date for the final anarchy in no sense affects it. April, 1878, marks the date of the establishment of the Kingdom, as shown in the same volume. At that date was due the resurrection of the sleeping saints who died "overcomers." Thus the establishment of the Kingdom commenced: it has since progressed as one after another of the same class have since died and been "changed" in the moment of death. The Kingdom will be fully established or "set up" by October, A.D. 1914, as already pointed out; for that date closes the forty years of "harvest" and accomplishes its design--the gathering of all the wheat into the garner of the heavenly condition.
The separating of the "tares" is now in progress while the "wheat" is being garnered, but the symbolical burning of the "tares" should not be expected until the wheat is all safe in the "garner." Our Lord, addressing the wheat class, says,--"Watch ye that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things coming upon the world [including the "tares"] and to stand before the Son of Man."--`Luke 21:36`.
But while the "wheat" class may thus expect to escape the world's trouble, it will have its own trouble before; for "judgment must begin with the house of God." (`I Pet. 4:17`.) And speaking of this, the Church's judgment, the Apostle declares: "Every man's work shall be tried so as by fire," etc. (`I Cor. 3:13`.) From some of the presentations of Revelation we are inclined to the belief that when Church-federation shall have enabled it to considerably control politicians it may again be the privilege of some of the "members" to again suffer violent deaths for their loyalty to the Truth. But this will not be severe experience for those who, like the apostles, rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name and cause of our Lord. "Rejoice and be exceeding glad,
::R3405 : page 230::
for so persecuted they the prophets before you," are our Master's words.
So then, dear friends, it is evident that the coming of universal anarchy after the "harvest," after October 1914 A.D., has nothing whatever to do with either the presence of the Reaper or the setting up of his Kingdom. Indeed, the guidance and overruling of that anarchy will be under the control of the glorified Church--the Christ. Thus those days of anarchy will be shortened and not permitted to go on to their reasonable end--a general strife, "every man's hand against his brother"--which would in the end mean "no flesh saved." On the contrary, the glorified Christ will permit the trouble to go only so far as to teach the world a great lesson: that its rule of selfishness means in the end destruction--to be devoured one of another. It too will teach the foolishness of human boastings in re present wisdom, civilization, etc.
Just another word on this subject. We find that some have concluded that because anarchy destroyed the Jewish nation in the one year following their "harvest," therefore we should expect that the one year, from October 1914 to October 1915, following the Gospel age "harvest," would measure the period of universal anarchy coming. We cannot agree to this conclusion, because the type or parallel goes
::R3406 : page 230::
no further than the end of the forty years' "harvest" in both cases--October 69, where the year A.D. 70 began, and October 1914, where the year 1915 A.D. will begin (Jewish reckoning). The anarchy period lies entirely outside of any dates or reckonings furnished us. It may be one year or more. The "elect" are not to be in it, and as for their interest in friends who may experience its sorrows we now know our Father's character and plan so well that we dare trust our friends as well as ourselves to his loving care, assured that God's provisions will be the wisest and best.
::R3404 : page 230::
"GO, YE SWIFT MESSENGERS!"
SEVERAL inquiries and suggestions have been sent to us lately respecting the interpretation of `Isaiah 18th` chapter. One of these, from our dear Pilgrim-Brother Barton, seems remarkable in several respects. The below interpretation is his, elaborated a little. It will be interesting to all of our readers, and if flaws or objections occur to any of you, we will be pleased to have them called to our attention. We are anxious to set before the Lord's family all that the Master provides as "meat in due season," yet we hesitate specially when the interpretation seems to bring into prominence the work of our Society. We must not, however, shun to declare the whole counsel of God. We submit the following as the most reasonable interpretation known to us of the chapter in question.
The latter part of the chapter--`verses 3 to 7`-- seem to apply to our day only, thus justifying a similar application of `verses 1 and 2`. In other words, it is evidently proper for us to expect a fulfilment of this prophecy at the present time. Whatever it refers to, we should be able to discern now or soon, as applicable to events now transpiring.
The first word of the chapter, "Woe," should more properly be translated "Ho!" Thus Prof. Young's translation reads, "Ho! to the land shadowed with wings." This is by many supposed to refer to the United States of America, and the wings are supposed by some to represent the eagle wings so conspicuous on its coins, seals, bank-notes, etc., in its emblem of liberty. To us, however, the wings would more particularly symbolize divine providence caring for this land. Bible students will remember that God frequently uses the eagle and its wings as symbolical of divine care and protection. True, the promise "He shall cover thee with his feathers and under his wings shalt thou trust" (`Psa. 91:4`), is not made to the United States nor to any earthly nation, but to the Church, the "holy nation": nevertheless, in a sense the affairs of earthly nations are supervised in the interest of the "peculiar people" whom God is now gathering out of all nations, peoples, kindreds and tongues to be the Bride of Christ.
Glance briefly at the facts. This favored land was unknown to civilization, kept hidden, as it were, until the due time--until it was needed as a home, an outlet for the rapidly overcrowding masses of Europe. More than this, it opened at a time when the Reformation movement was agitating "Christendom" so called, when the study of the Bible was awakening conscience and character and Christian common sense. The awakened class was not generally the rich or the titled or the very comfortable, neither was it the very degraded and ignorant and helplessly poor, but the middle class of European society. These did the thinking and the protesting, and in turn endured the suffering under the persecution engendered. And these were the ones who needed an asylum and who found one in this land shadowed, cared for, by the "wings" of divine providence.
What has been true of the "Pilgrim fathers" and their reasons for settlement here has been true also of others. Of course all have not fled from religious persecution. On the contrary, the majority
::R3404 : page 231::
have sought a new home for the betterment of their temporal interests. But were not even these seeking escape from social and financial oppressions more or less burdensome? Although many feared the influx of so many of the middle and lower classes, yet natural laws and legislation have hindered the coming of the most degraded; and under divine providence the assimilating process has kept pace with the immigration, so that the vast improvement in the manners and appearance is phenomenal, and suggests to us what may be expected on a still broader and deeper scale under the blessed "times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."-- `Acts 3:19-21`.
Look, too, at the history of this nation. We are far from claiming that it is perfect: we can see much room for improvement in every direction, and are willing to admit that Americans can still learn some things from other parts of the world--particularly from Great Britain; nevertheless no other nation on earth has such a history. We, as Christians, are opposed to war on general principles, and yet we must acknowledge that some causes of war are more just than others, and of this more just class the wars of the United States seem to have been. True, selfishness has its firm hold upon all the people, and no doubt certain ignoble aims have actuated some of the people in connection with these wars, yet in general, as wars go, they have been, so far as the masses were concerned, just wars--wars having some apparent necessity and not undertaken purely for conquest. In every instance the victory has been with this favored nation, and in no instance has she treated the vanquished ignobly. On the contrary, millions of money were paid to Mexico and Spain when it need not have been paid, but large indemnities might have been forced.
The prosperity of this land is so phenomenal as to be the constant surprise of the world. The poor from all nations have become the wealthiest nation on earth. And, whatever may yet become true, under the changing conditions by which the trusts are
::R3405 : page 231::
obtaining so great a control, this land hitherto has certainly been well illustrated by the statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World" in the harbor of New York City--the gift of that clear-sighted Frenchman, Bartholdi. The great truth thus symbolized is appreciated by but few, however. Few see that the influence of liberty in the United States has been a potent factor in breaking the shackles of serfdom throughout the world. The practical illustration of people governing themselves so successfully, so prosperously, excited the admiration and the envy of their relatives and friends in every part of Europe, and led to the concession of greater liberties everywhere. Great Britain long gave partial suffrage to her people, but only recently, under that influence of Liberty enlightening the world, she gave universal suffrage. The same was the lesson and its results in Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria and elsewhere in Europe. Even Russia liberated her serfs and will yet be forced by the increasing light to give her people the ballot. On the whole, then, dear friends, we say that no other land could so well lay claim to being shadowed or protected by the wings of divine providence as can these United States--including Canada, really the same people in character, in interest, in freedom, in prosperity, and in divine favor.
"BEYOND THE RIVERS OF ETHIOPIA."
This is the second statement of the prophecy. In ancient times little was known of the world's size, etc., and Ethiopia was called "the ends of the earth." As for instance, the Queen of Sheba came from Ethiopia, "from the ends of the earth," to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Interpreting the text from this standpoint it would mean: "beyond the waters of the ends of the earth"--a very fitting manner in which to describe America, as yet unknown and not intended to be pointed out particularly at that time. We have, then, the prophecy thus: "Ho! to the land shadowed by wings [divine providences], which is beyond the waters of the ends of the earth." And the next declaration is,--"That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even upon the waters,
IN VESSELS OF BULRUSHES."
No one ever heard of a vessel of "bulrushes," or rather (literally) of "papyrus" or paper as the Revised Version renders the word. Are we to expect the fulfilment of this prophecy in the future--that the steamships of the future will be built of paper? We think not. The tendency is rather toward greater strength, so that wooden vessels are rapidly giving place to those built of steel. Rather we should interpret the language as symbolical--as representing books and tracts going out in every direction bearing messages as God's ambassadors to all who have an ear to hear their message. By these paper-messages, these divine embassies, all inhabitants of the earth who can see and hear are called upon to note the Lord's ensign about to be set up in his Kingdom, and the trumpet of Jubilee now sounding and to grow more and more distinct as the Jubilee morning ushers in. See `verse 3`.
"GO, YE SWIFT MESSENGERS."
This language is much more reasonable when
::R3405 : page 232::
applied to God's message going forth in literature than to worldly ambassadors in paper boats, surely. It is astonishing to those who have any knowledge of the facts how the WATCH TOWER literature, OLD THEOLOGY TRACTS, MILLENNIAL DAWN, etc., are going out as "swift messengers" to all parts of the earth and in many languages. These originate in the land shadowed by the wings of divine providence. Indeed, it is certain that from no other land could they so well be sent: and tolerably certain, too, that had it not been for "Liberty enlightening the world" other nations would not permit the publication of so glorious a "gospel of good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."
"TO A NATION SCATTERED AND PEELED."
To what nation does the message go? We answer, it goes to the "Holy Nation," the Royal Priesthood. (`I Pet. 2:9`.) Many people of various nations may handle and read these messages, but they are only for the one; and it is doubtful if others will be able to fully understand their message in the present time. Besides, the description fits no other nation. It is "a nation scattered and polished [R.V. "smooth"] --to a people terrible [in their experiences] hitherto; a nation meted out [whose course and experiences in life the Lord has measured out for them for their highest welfare] and trodden down [as a part of their necessary experience] whose land the rivers divide [R.V.]." The reference to the rivers may be taken either as suggesting that the river of death separates this "Holy Nation" from its inheritance on the other side of Jordan; or as in `Psalm 46:4`.
The swift messengers [or "light messengers"-- Young] have a message of special comfort and consolation, of interest to every member of this "holy nation" of terrible experiences hitherto; a message that the time of Zion's travail is nearly ended--that soon the birth of the "New Creation" in the "first resurrection" will be complete and that forthwith all the nations of earth will see the Lord's standard and hear the trumpet of Jubilee. This "holy nation" shall "at that time" be brought as a present unto the Lord [Jehovah] of hosts"--to Mount Zion, the Heavenly Kingdom.--`Verse 7`.
Let us show the Lord more and more our zeal, our love for himself and his wonderful message by our cooperation in the sending forth of his swift paper messengers. "Go, ye swift messengers!" Every year adds to the number who by word and deed say, "Go!" and also adds to the number of these messengers sent forth. God speed them to the accomplishment of his glorious service--present and future--and God bless also the dear Colporteurs and Volunteers engaged with us as his ambassadors in this ministry!
::R3406 : page 232::
"IF THE LORD BE GOD, FOLLOW HIM."
--`I KINGS 18:21,30-46`.--AUGUST 21.--
ELIJAH'S requirement of King Ahab, that the principal representatives of the ten tribes should gather at Mount Carmel, and with them the 450 priests of Baal, was promptly complied with. Ahab seemed to lose his bravado, and to realize that he was, in a general sense at least, subject to Elijah as the Lord's representative, and that the claim of the latter that the three and a half years of drouth was the penalty for idolatry seemed reasonable. He evidently understood that the test of the two religions was about to be made; but since Elijah was only one in contrast with so many priests of Baal, with the heads of all the tribes, and with the king and his courtiers, and since this seemed the only course open to secure the coveted rain, the king seems to have offered no objection.
The top of Mount Carmel, the place of meeting, was about seventeen miles from the palace at Jezreel. It was an ideal place for just such a spectacle as occurred there. It was probably a few days before the invited persons assembled, but when they were come together Elijah, in the audience of the people, proposed to the 450 priests of Baal a test to demonstrate whether Baal or Jehovah was God. Under the circumstances these men could evidently do nothing else than assent to the test, and it was an especially appropriate one, too; for Baal was noted for being preeminently the sun god, the god of nature, fertility, etc. The three and a half years of drouth already testified against Baal's power to bless the fields and flocks of his devotees with fertility and fruitfulness, and now, additionally, Elijah proposed that the god who would answer by fire should be esteemed the real one. The priests of Baal made ready an altar and laid upon it the sacrifice in the morning; then, after their custom, they prayed and importuned, sometimes in a loud voice and sometimes softly, that Baal would answer and demonstrate his power by fire from heaven consuming the sacrifice.
CALL LOUDLY ON BAAL. OUR GOD "HEARETH IN SECRET."
As the noon-day sun shone out scorchingly in that climate, not only the stones of their altar became hot, but the fat of the slain sacrifice must have been sizzling with heat, and it would have seemed to require very little to have accomplished their object. Tradition says that, after the manner of many of the deceptions of heathen religions, a man was placed inside of the altar with a view to his setting on fire the wood under the sacrifice at the appropriate moment; but the legend declares that he was subsequently found suffocated. At all events, according to the Scriptural account, as the day advanced beyond the time of noon, the priests of Baal became more and more desperate, calling, O Baal, hear us! hear us! As they cried aloud, Elijah made the scene still more impressive
::R3406 : page 233::
upon the minds of the elders of Israel by ironical remarks, suggesting that their god, Baal, was perhaps on a journey or perhaps asleep or what not, and he exhorted them to call still louder upon him. Chagrined, frenzied by their defeat, they called still more wildly, and ran about the altar after the manner of heathen priests in some parts until this day, yelling and cutting themselves, claiming that they had committed sins, that they would chastise themselves for these sins, and that Baal should thus be propitiated and hear and answer them. This continued until three o'clock in the afternoon, when Elijah proposed that in the cool of the evening he would make his test, assuring the people that Jehovah, who had withheld the rain, would demonstrate his power by sending the fire to burn the sacrifice offered in his name.
Elijah built an altar in the name of the Lord--that is, consecrated by prayer to the Lord. Presumably he had all the help necessary in its construction, and he added to it a feature not common to altars, namely, that it had a trench round about which he caused to be filled with water from a never-failing spring which is to be found on the slope of Mount Carmel. Four earthen jars (misnamed in the text barrels) were filled and emptied three times, until the whole altar, wood and sacrifice were saturated and surrounded by water. This would be a demonstration to the heads of the nations that the miracle to be performed would be genuine. Then Elijah prayed to God, "O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again."
The prayer is beautiful in its simplicity, manifesting that the Prophet had no boastful spirit in connection with his mission, but that humbly he recognized that he was merely a servant of the Lord. It showed, too, that his desire was not personal display of power, but the blessing of his nation and the drawing of their hearts to the Lord. The Lord responded, and fire from heaven came down in the sight of the people and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the earth with which the altar had been constructed, used as mortar, licking up the water in the trench. The people were convinced and gladly acknowledged the Lord Jehovah, thereby correspondingly denying Baal. It was a great victory for the cause of right, and would carry through the leaders of all the tribes full information to every quarter of the kingdom.
ELIJAH'S COURSE NOT OURS.
At Elijah's command the 450 prophets of Baal were caught ("Let not one of them escape") and at Elijah's direction they were executed at the foot of the mountain --at the brook whence the water had been brought for the sacrifice. Infidels have been inclined to comment upon this slaughter of the priests of Baal as representing persecution and religious fanaticism. We are to remember, however, what we have already called attention to, namely, that God had peculiar dealings with this nation of Israel, and that Elijah, as the divine mouthpiece of the occasion, was fully commissioned to carry out the divine execution against these men, who had been exercising so baneful an influence among his people, leading them from light to darkness, from the worship of God to idolatry. This would give no right or authority to anybody at the present time to execute fellow creatures because of difference of religious belief, because the world in general today is not under an arrangement such as that which prevailed in Elijah's day between God and the one nation of Israel. Today civilization frames laws and has courts of justice which decide on penalties for violations of those laws-- the death penalty being usually reserved for murder or treason. We are to remember that in the peculiar relationship between God and Israel, under their covenant made at Sinai, God himself was the King, the ruler of that nation; consequently these priests of Baal were traitors against him, and, according to the laws of our time, from this standpoint would be worthy of death.
However, there is a higher law than ours which we must recognize. It must be admitted that God is the proper judge of the whole world: that it is with him to say who may live and who may not. Were the world living today under the direct government of the Lord, and were there today a properly certified Prophet of the Lord whom, as the mouthpiece of God, we had no reason to doubt, it certainly would be entirely proper for us to hear the word of the Lord and execute his sentences on any and every subject to the fullest extent. But during this Gospel age--from the time God gave up the fleshly house of Israel and began the establishment of spiritual Israel-- he has not claimed or exercised kingly authority in the world. On the contrary, he tells us that present governments, although they call themselves Christendom, are really "kingdoms of this world." He tells us to look forward to the future, to the second coming of Christ in power and great glory as the time for the establishment of the Kingdom of God under the whole heavens. He tells us that the Kingdom thus established will be the antitypical kingdom, and assures us that when that time shall come a great blessing will come to the whole world--a blessing of knowledge of the Truth and of opportunity to serve it; and that whosoever will not heed the message at that time, whosoever will not avail himself of the glorious opportunities of that time, will be "cut off from amongst the people" in the Second Death.--`Acts 3:22,23`.
SIN SHOULD BE ACKNOWLEDGED.
It was customary in olden times that when a general sacrifice was offered it should be followed by a feast, and apparently while the sacrificing was in progress throughout the day a feast also had been prepared on the mountain top, and it is in reference to this that Elijah said to
::R3407 : page 234::
the king, "Get thee up, eat and drink, for I hear the sound of an abundance of rain." The Prophet may have been speaking figuratively, or possibly his words might be understood better, "I hear from the Lord the message of an abundance of rain coming." Ahab and his associates might much better have spent the time in fasting and prayer for divine forgiveness for the idolatry which had brought upon them the drouth, and which now had led to the execution of the priests of Baal. Nevertheless the Lord, through the Prophet, did not urge upon them any avowals of sorrow that they did not volunteer themselves. Herein is one of the distinct differences between those who are at heart the Lord's people and others. Imperfections and failures each one finds in himself continually, but those who are the Lord's true people feel so aggrieved at their failures that they are promptly led to the throne of grace that they may obtain mercy and find grace to help in future time of need, but others take their failures lightly and fail to profit by them accordingly.
As for the Lord's people, some of them can testify that their failures have really resulted in great blessing to their own souls and great advancement in overcoming weaknesses. The sentiment of the consecrated is well expressed by the poet, who says:
"O! may no earth-born cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant's eyes."
While the king and the heads of the tribes were feasting Elijah was praying for the rain and waiting for it. Seven times in all he sent his servant to look in the direction from which the rain storms usually came, to see whether or not anything in the nature of a cloud was visible in the clear sky, and only at the last did he get the favorable report that his servant saw a cloud about the size of a man's hand rising in the west. Here we see beautifully blended the part of God and the part of man in respect to prayer. Elijah did not pray for rain until he understood that the Lord's time had come to send rain: then he prayed with all earnestness and expectancy--with confidence; for we cannot doubt that the one who built the altar and flooded it with water and expected and witnessed the consuming of the sacrifice by fire from heaven would be full of confidence respecting the sending of rain, for which, nevertheless, he prayed. Just so it is with the Lord's people today in the matter of prayer. God has definitely promised us certain things, and these we may as positively expect and may appropriately request; other things, however, not promised, we are not to expect.
WHERE CHRIST IS HIS WORD IS STUDIED.
This is the key to our Master's words, "If ye abide in me and my Word abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." For us to have the ear of the Lord it is requisite that we shall abide in Christ --as members of his body, and through him children of the Father. It is necessary also that his Word abide in us--that we study the Lord's promise, that we know what he has promised, so that we may ask only those things which he has already declared to us he is pleased to grant. Just another suggestion respecting what we may ask and what we may not request in prayer, leaving the fuller examination of the subject to another time. We may not ask the conversion of our friends, because the Lord has not told us thus to pray. He set us no such example, neither did the apostles, and the entire teaching of the Scriptures is to the contrary. We may, however, with propriety pray for wisdom and grace upon our hearts and upon our lips, that we may know how to present the Lord's message clearly and forcefully and convincingly to those we love and desire to see brought under the influence of the Truth. The Lord's arrangement is, "Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free."
God's arrangement is, further, that the Truth shall not be injected into our minds in some miraculous manner when this is unnecessary, but that it shall be proclaimed by those who already have learned it. Hence the preaching of the Gospel is the Lord's means by which he is pleased to grant the blessing of his Truth and through his Truth his grace, during this Gospel age, to those who are in a proper attitude of heart to receive the same. Take another illustration: We are not taught to pray for money or luxuries, but we may labor and ask the Lord's blessing upon our labors, and such guidance of them as would be best, with a heart ready to receive with thankfulness much or little as the Lord may see best for us. Our only request may be for the absolute necessities as expressed in our Lord's prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread." We may also pray with propriety, "Thy Kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," and may be sure that in the Lord's due time this petition, which has gone up for eighteen centuries to the throne of grace, shall be answered, and showers of blessing shall come from the presence of the Lord during the second presence of our King, flooding the world with times of restitution of all things.
When the little cloud was seen and reported to Elijah, a message was at once sent to the king to hasten his return to the palace before the great downpour of rain should come. The king evidently believed Elijah implicitly and made haste homeward. Elijah, apparently endued with supernatural power, ran ahead of the king's horses as an act of courtesy, and as showing that he as a servant of the Lord nevertheless recognized Ahab as the king of the nation. Thus to some extent the shame and confusion of the king's position throughout the day was offset on his return home.
BE OF GOOD COURAGE.
A general lesson may be drawn from these incidents by the Lord's people of the New Creation today. The Elijah-like class have the lessons of courage and faithfulness and trust. Let us be strong in the Lord and in the
::R3407 : page 235::
power of his might; let us speak his word plainly and show forth on every suitable occasion and by every proper means the glories of him who hath called us from darkness to light. It is not for us to vanquish the enemies of the Truth and put them to death as did Elijah, but it is for us to slay and utterly expose the errors and follies which are deceiving the people. The Lord's little ones, as the Scriptures declare, may be mighty through his power to the pulling down of the strongholds of error and to the turning back of the tide of deception and sin from those who are in the reasonable attitude of mind to receive the Truth --those who are merely deceived into error and not willingly and wilfully its followers and beneficiaries.
There is a great lesson here, too, for those who are today more or less bound by error, and confused and thereby led to render worship to that which is false. Infidelity in our day is calling upon many to worship the god of nature; and, through higher criticism and evolution theories, the priests of error are misleading and deceiving many in spiritual Israel who really desire to know the Truth. The Lord is making an exhibit today as between Truth and Error, which is in many respects as astonishing and miraculous as the demonstration made at Elijah's hands. The Truth today is shining out clearly, the sacrifice of the Lord's people is being accepted, demonstrations of the Truth and of the servants of the Truth are everywhere being manifested. It is time for all who have been in any measure of darkness on the subject to scrutinize the evidences carefully and to decide as did the representatives of Israel, "The Lord he is God"--and to decline henceforth to recognize the errors of Babylon and the messages of her prophets, which are being demonstrated to be false. It is time for all to come to a decision whether they are for the Lord or whether they prefer to worship false systems and errors. In the language of our Golden Text, If the Lord be God let us follow him-- thoroughly, completely. Let us not only be sincere, but earnest in our religion. Let it take hold upon all the affairs of our lives, and, as the Apostle expressed it, not only let it direct our conduct and words, but back of this, our very thoughts. To use his language, "Let us bring even our thoughts into captivity to the will of God in Christ."
::R3409 : page 235::
OUT OF BABYLON THE GREAT.
A sinner, lost, and in my guilt I lay,--
Although a son, devoted son of Rome;
But Jesus in his love pass'd by that way,
And now I am a child of God become.
My soul was famish'd, till I found my God:
Rome gave me nothing to supply my need.
But since I've known the merits of Christ's blood,
My soul is with the richest dainties fed.
Confession to a priest ne'er gave me peace,
But lull'd my soul to sleep in carnal ease,
Till God awoke me, in his sovereign grace,
And taught me not myself but him to please.
And, now, my peace doth like a river flow,
Since I have known redemption, through that blood
Which makes the sinner whiter than the snow,
And constitutes him, now, a priest with God.
The rock on which my peace with God is built
Is Christ, who is God's righteousness for me;
His precious blood, for sin, on Calvary spilt,
Is all my trust, and my security.
Lord Jesus! Thou the mighty work hast done!--
Hast vanquish'd death and hell and set me free:--
Hast glorified thy Father, and art gone
A place, in heaven, to prepare for me.
Thou art my only Mediator there,
The one High Priest,--by God thou wast ordain'd,
Nor Mary--mother of our Lord--may share
That office, which by Thee alone is claim'd.
My prayers and praises I present through thee,
My only Priest! my only Saviour Thou!
From Romish bondage Thou hast set me free,
Nor need I fear her maledictions now.
My Lord will soon his injur'd name defend,
And all corruptors of his word shall find,
When he in clouds of glory shall descend,
That they have been blind leaders of the blind.
Oh! give me grace to praise thee more and more,
That light e'er shone on my benighted soul;
Thee, only, would I love, and Thee adore,
And pray that light may shine from pole to pole.
Lord! bring Thine own from 'neath her blinding power,
Her superstitions, and her priestly thrall;
Ere Thou on her thine indignation pour,
From earth sweep Babylon--both great and small.
::R3407 : page 235::
"FAINT NOT BECAUSE OF EVIL DOERS. FOR IN DUE TIME THEY SHALL BE CUT OFF."--`PSA. 37:1,2`.
--`I KINGS 19:1-8`.--AUGUST 28.--
Golden Text:--"In my distress I cried
unto the Lord, and he heard me."
ELIJAH, flushed at the victory over the priests of Baal, was not thereby made haughty or boastful toward the king, though evidently he anticipated that the drouth and now finally its abatement, with abundant rain and with the attendant manifestation of divine power, would work a reformation in Israel. King Ahab and the rulers of Israel were evidently converted, at least temporarily, from Baal to Jehovah,--as evidenced
::R3408 : page 236::
by their willingness to permit the execution of the 450 priests of Baal. There was one person, however, on whose condition of heart Elijah had not counted, and that was Jezebel the queen, who really was at the bottom of the false religious system in which, as we have seen, her father had been at one time a chief priest in Zidon.
When the queen heard the result of the day's procedure she was angry--angry with God, angry with the Prophet Elijah for having shown up the falsity of Baal, angry with her husband the king for having permitted the demonstration to proceed to the disadvantage of Baal, and for permitting his priests to be executed. She was furious, and sent a message to Elijah--according to the customary form of those times--declaring that he would be as dead as the priests of Baal within twenty-four hours. Canon Farrar thus graphically pictures the queen, her message, etc. He says: "We can imagine the bitter objurgations which she poured upon her cowering husband for having stood quietly by while her prophets and Baal's prophets were being massacred by this dark fanatic, aided by a rebellious people. Had she been there all should have been otherwise!...The oath shows the intensity of her rage--like that of the forty Jews who bound themselves by the oath that they would not eat or drink until they had slain Paul--and the fixity of her purpose, as when Richard III declared that he would not dine until the head of Buckingham had fallen on the block. She presents the spectacle so often reproduced in history and reflected in literature, of a strong woman completely dominating a feebler consort."
GOD'S REPRESENTATIVE INTIMIDATED.
The message sent to Elijah was evidently a boast and threat designed to intimidate him and to cause him to flee the country, the very effect it did produce. Jezebel was quite probably at heart afraid to have an encounter with the man who, as God's representative, was able to produce the results testified to by her husband and by the rain: she was too shrewd to risk a defeat, and her course prospered. Poor Elijah, so courageous previously, so ready to risk his life, was now panic stricken and fled to Beersheba, the farther part of Judea. Even then he did not feel himself safe, because Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, was a close friend to Ahab, king of Israel; so leaving there his boy servant, who is supposed to have been the son of the widow of Zarephath, he continued his flight southward through the wilderness to Mount Sinai--Horeb.
It is useless for us to speculate how Elijah might have done otherwise than he did--how he might have boldly stood up for the Lord, denounced the Queen, rallied the heads of the tribes of Israel and carried forward to a general completion the reform movement which he began. We are to remember that Elijah was a type, and hence that his doings as well as his words were in a particular sense and degree ordered of the Lord--beyond any knowledge or motives of his own. It is only when we view this entire narrative of Elijah and Ahab and Jezebel from the standpoint of a type of more wonderful things coming afterward on a larger scale--only then can we grasp in any measure the force and meaning of the lessons taught through these types.
Although we have already noticed this matter, we cannot pass the story now without brief reference to the antitypes. We see in John the Baptist the repetition of the type, he being a fresh type corresponding to Elijah, as Herod corresponded to Ahab, and Herodias was an advanced type of Jezebel. Similarly John the Baptist, like Elijah, sought to effect a reformation in Israel, and similarly he failed. Let us glance very hastily at the antitype of these things portrayed in the book of Revelation. There the antitypical Jezebel is distinctly pointed out, and, in harmony with commentators since the Reformation time, we understand the antitype to be the apostate Church, the Papacy,--the civil government of the Roman empire in its decisions corresponding to King Ahab, consequently the agent of the antitypical Jezebel in accomplishing her desires, in propagating her system and destroying the prophets of the Lord. As had been predicted, so it was fulfilled: "She wore out the saints of the most high God," and "was drunken with the blood of the saints."--`Rev. 17:6`; `18:24`.
In the antitype, if Papacy represents the woman Jezebel, and if the civil power was the antitype of Ahab, where is Elijah? We answer that the antitypical Elijah all through this Gospel age has been made up of the Lord's faithful people, the saints--a body of many members, yet in all a "little flock." We have already shown that the antitypical Elijah, who must first come and do his work before the second advent of Christ in the glory of his Kingdom, is the true Church of Christ in the flesh --of which Jesus was the Head, of which the Apostles were prominent members, and to which number all the true saints of the Lord from then to the end of the Gospel age, while in the flesh, must belong. This Elijah class was invisible during a large portion of this long period of nearly nineteen centuries. As Elijah the Prophet disappeared just prior to the drouth and was not seen and could not be found during the drouth, so with the antitypical Elijah class. As a class they disappeared about the year 300 and were not seen for about three and a half symbolic years, namely until the time of the Reformation, about 1550, even as Elijah disappeared after announcing the drouth and did not reappear until nearly the conclusion of that period of three and a half literal years. The drouth really began about 539 A.D. and the copious showers of refreshing came three and a half symbolic years later in 1799 A.D.
This period of three and a half years, equaling forty-two months of 1260 days, is particularly mentioned in all three of these different forms in `Revelation. (12:6,14`; `13:5`)
::R3408 : page 237::
The whole world is witness to the great drouth that prevailed throughout Christendom from the year 300 until the time of the Reformation. It is particularly known as the period of the "Dark Ages." With the reappearance of the Elijah class prominently before the world, represented in the reformers of Luther's time, we have some measure of reassertion of the proper worship of God. The Reformation work up to the year 1799 was preparatory, just as the work of Elijah on Mount Carmel and with the priests of Baal was preparatory. Then followed the great shower of blessing, scattering the Word of God throughout the whole world in every language under heaven. Nearly all of the present Bible Societies were organized between 1803 and 1815. There has been a great and refreshing shower of Grace and Truth come to the world. The antitype of Ahab, civil government, has to a considerable extent recognized the general truth of the matter, but they are more or less closely affiliated with and under the influence of the Jezebel system, and alas! as Revelation clearly points out, Jezebel today has daughters --systems termed Protestant--which, nevertheless, copy largely the mother's spirit. It is through the influence of the daughters that the antitypical Elijah may expect future persecutions, instigated by the mother, accomplished through the daughters, as typically represented in the case of John the Baptist, beheaded by Herod at the instance of Salome, but at the instigation of Herodias--Jezebel. This, however, is looking down to a period in the future.
ELIJAH IN THE SLOUGH OF DESPOND.
Elijah under the juniper tree, praying God that he might die because he had been no more successful than his fathers had been in the mission of restoring Israel to the true worship, is almost amusing when we think of the fact that the Prophet had fled panic stricken a few days before to escape Jezebel's threat against his life. Why thus flee from death and yet pray the Lord for death? The Prophet's experiences and conduct are but an illustration of what frequently occurs. Amongst the Lord's people some of strong faith at times become discouraged, panic stricken, fearful. For the moment they seem to forget whose servants they are, and the almighty power that is behind them, able and willing to make all things work together for good to his faithful ones.
The fact of the matter is that all of the Lord's consecrated servants devoted their lives to sacrifice when they became followers of the Lamb, and if they could but realize their consecration continually, they would be ready for the consummation at any moment at the Lord's pleasure and by whatever means or channel his providences may permit. The Lord's consecrated ones of the Elijah class are to remember that not a hair of their heads could fall without their Father's knowledge and permission, and the attitude of their hearts should be that expressed by our dear Redeemer--the Head of the Elijah body--"The cup which the Father hath poured for me, shall I not drink it?" The language of their hearts should be that expressed by the poet:
"Content whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me."
Doubtless the Prophet's discouragement of heart was but a natural consequence of the tension under which he had been for some time laboring in his zeal for the Truth and the exciting conditions attending his fear and flight. He slept under the juniper tree, but was awakened that he might partake of specially provided refreshments: further rest and further supplies of food brought him strength for a farther journey. We may take from this two lessons: First, a natural one, that however earnest and zealous the Lord's people may be, they need rest and food, and these cannot be neglected with impunity if we would be strong and courageous in mind and heart. Second, the feastings and fastings of the typical Elijah may well represent special blessings and refreshments of the Truth in the experiences of the Church during the past centuries, and also represent certain fastings. Elijah's reaching Horeb, the Mount of God, would seem to typify the Kingdom in its incipient establishment in the end of this age--which various Scriptures teach us was reached in 1878. There certain lessons, refreshments, etc., were evidently due to come to the Elijah class, and so we have found it. Of this we will learn more in our next lesson.
The Golden Text suggests a personal application of Elijah's experiences to all of the Lord's people at any time. Whatever our distresses, whatever our discouragements, whatever may be our Ahabs and Jezebels, we may find consolation by carrying our every trial and difficulty to the Lord in prayer. No affair of life that comes to the
::R3409 : page 237::
Lord's people, sorrow or anguish or distress of mind in any sense, is too small to bring to the Lord. "Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for you," is a very consoling and very encouraging suggestion from the Word. However, the Lord's people are to learn more and more distinctly, as their years of membership in God's family and tutelage in the school of Christ go on, that they are not to ask the Lord to guide their efforts according to their wisdom, that they are not to request that their wills shall be done either on earth or in heaven, but rather, telling the Lord their burdens, great and small, they are to realize and appropriate to themselves his sympathy and love, and to apply to their own hearts as a balm the consoling assurances of his Word, that he is both able and willing to make all of their experiences profitable to them if they abide in him with confidence and trust. His grace is sufficient for us, his strength is made perfect in our weakness.
::R3409 : page 238::
INTERESTING QUESTIONS ANSWERED.
THE LENGTH AND BREADTH OF RESTITUTION.
Question.--Is it proper to say that Restitution will bring to the obedient of the world a higher condition than that in which Adam existed before he fell? In other words, Will the development resulting from an experience with evil be something beyond a restoration of Adam's position?
Answer.--The word Restitution fixes the answer to this question; no man could be restored to a condition not previously enjoyed. Adam was the representative of his race, and the privileges and rights and opportunities granted to him belonged to his posterity as well. Through Adam's sin all of these rights, privileges and blessings were forfeited--for himself and for all of his posterity--death being the sentence covering the loss.
Restitution will mean the recovery of all these things that were lost. The "Restitution Times" are clearly shown to be the thousand years of Christ's reign. The Restitution work is most evidently the bringing back from both sin and death, degradation and depravity, from "the curse," of Adam and his children and all that he possessed before the curse came. Properly enough, this will be accomplished with each individual in a full, free and understood offer, such as every member of the human family must ultimately have. If, with a clear understanding of right and wrong, they wilfully and intelligently reject the right and choose the wrong, their condemnation to the Second Death will be wholly a matter of their own responsibility, and not because of Adam's transgression, nor because of any failure on the Lord's part to proffer them the Restitution he has provided, through Jesus, for every man.
Undoubtedly the world will attain to lengths and breadths and heights and depths of knowledge of God and his plan, and of his love and of his wisdom and of his power, such as Father Adam never enjoyed. But such attainments will be no part of Restitution, for they never were lost. However, we are to remember that had Father Adam remained obedient to the Lord all of these things would have been his privilege, pleasure and opportunity; and hence, while not directly a part of Restitution work, they are indirectly associated with it: as the privileges of these things were lost, so the privileges of returning to them are to be granted.
WERE ADAM AND CHRIST REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
Question.--Were Adam and Christ in any sense representatives of the race?
Answer.--Adam, as the federal head of his family, was its representative in Eden. This is demonstrated by the fact that we, as his posterity, are involved in every matter affecting him. Thus the sentence or curse of death coming upon Adam affected and impaired as a curse every member of his offspring.
Christ was not a representative in this same sense. He was Adam's substitute--his Redeemer--the one who paid for Adam the penalty demanded by divine law, thus releasing Adam from the original sentence of death. Since Adam was our representative, therefore we have a participation or share with him in the benefits accruing to him through his redemption by Jesus, his substitute. Thus Christ's death is efficacious to the cancelling of all of its effects upon all of his posterity. As we have already seen, the opportunity for return to divine favor, which is to come to every member of Adam's family, is his release from the curse. So far as the sentence is concerned, this will be accomplished at the very beginning of the Restitution work; but the blotting out of all of the effects of the curse will be another matter. The effects of the curse have become very extended and are represented in the impairments of mankind, mentally, morally and physically. After the curse shall have been legally cancelled it will require long years under the Lord's arrangement for the wiping out, or blotting out of Sin's records in the human mind and body. Thus the lifting of the curse and the blotting out of its effects will be seen to be two different matters: the first was accomplished for all mankind by the death of Christ; the second he proposes to accomplish for as many as will be obedient to his voice during the Millennial age.
HOW TO REPLY TO UNIVERSALISTS.
Question.--What answer should be made to Universalists, who claim that Christ's death purchased everlasting life for all who lost it through Adam's
::R3410 : page 238::
transgression, and therefore guaranteed a restoration to perfect and everlasting life to every man?
Answer.--Very few Universalists of this kind are to be found. Generally, they either directly or indirectly deny the Ransom--deny that Christ's death purchased everlasting life for anybody. Their theory generally rests upon the assumption that there was no divine sentence to be met; that divine mercy could exercise itself without meeting the demands of divine justice; that our Lord Jesus died, not to purchase us, not to pay the ransom price, not to redeem us, not as a substitute for Adam, but merely, they say, as an example to us of full obedience to righteousness, even at the cost of life.
To such we answer that if Jesus was merely our
::R3411 : page 239::
example, and not our Redeemer, then our only hope would be to keep his example to such an extent that we would be individually pleasing to the Father as he was; and this would mean that we must keep the whole law blameless as he did. Those who understand this proposition must see clearly that, if that be true, there is no hope for any of us, for, as the Apostle declares, "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in God's sight." Christ was justified by the deeds of the law, but perfect deeds were possible to him, because he was born holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Perfect deeds, perfect fulfilment of the divine requirements, are absolutely impossible for us who were born in sin, shapen in iniquity. If, therefore, Jesus be merely our pattern, our exemplar, and not also our Redeemer, we are of all men most miserable, for seeing salvation we shall be wholly unable to attain it. Our whole hope is in the declaration of the Lord's Word that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that his death was to meet the penalty against us as a race--for Adam's sins and ours. Our hope is that, being covered by faith with the robe of his righteousness, our imperfect attempts to follow his example in obedience to the Father's will will be accounted as though they were perfect--"through the merit of him who loved us and bought us with his own precious blood."
But if there be Universalists who take the position implied in this question, our answer would be as heretofore, that Christ's death did purchase lasting life for all who lost it through Adam's transgression, and that God has guaranteed a full restoration of all that was lost "to every soul of man that believeth" --in the Scriptural sense of obedient believing. Nothing in this implies that they will get all these things at the moment of their awakening from the tomb. At that time they will get a beginning of perfect life if they are obedient to the voice of the great Physician, which will eventuate in their absolute perfection in the close of that Millennial day. Our Lord, describing the matter in `John 5:29`, declares that the dead will come forth unto a resurrection by judgment. They will come forth from the tomb, from oblivion, to physical conditions somewhat similar to those enjoyed before they died, with surroundings in every way much more advantageous; with Satan bound that he can deceive them no more; with the good influences of righteousness and Truth let loose in the world to such an extent that ultimately the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth; with judges and law givers under the supervision of the Royal Priesthood to look after their best interests, to reprove and correct and chastise their failures, and to encourage, reward and bless their endeavors, and thus, by judgments, of rewards and punishments, they would be gradually brought up step by step, up, up, up to the highway of holiness, to the absolute perfection at the farther end, which the Lord is pleased to grant to all who will have it upon these his terms, obedience to his Son. "But it shall come to pass that the soul that will not hear [to obey] that Prophet shall be cut off"--in the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption and no recovery.
THE SPIRIT AND BRIDE SAY COME.
Question.--When will the Spirit and the Bride say, Come?--`Rev. 22:17`.
Answer.--This will be fulfilled in the future for several reasons:
(1) There is no "Bride" now. The Church, the "little flock," is now the "chaste virgin" "espoused" to the Lord. She will be the Bride at marriage, and for long centuries she has been looking forward to that great event at the close of this Gospel age.
(2) The context refers to the river of the water of life of verses 1 and 2 of the same chapter. There is no such river now, nor will there be until the establishment of the Kingdom; for this is the picture: the New Jerusalem (the Church in glory, the Kingdom) comes down from God out of heaven, adorned "as a Bride" and then from its throne will proceed the "river of the water of life" of which all may drink freely, and to which the Spirit and the Bride will invite all. Now the prospective members of the Bride class have the Lord's Spirit in them, "a well of water springing up unto everlasting life."--`John 4:14`.
By and by these well-springs brought together in glory with the Lord shall constitute the source of the great river of life which shall bless and heal all nations. "In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (`Gal. 3:29`.) By and by the prophecy will be fulfilled: "He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
(3) Now the call is a different one and is not open to mankind. Our Lord declared, "No man can come unto me except the Father which sent me draw him." The Apostle declares that now many are blinded by the Adversary and hence could not see even if there were a river of life flowing, and could not hear even if there were a Bride to say, Come.
HE SHALL "POUR OUT HIS SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESH."
Question.--Does Joel's prophecy concerning the pouring out of the Lord's "spirit upon all flesh," apply to the present or to the future age?
Answer.--It applies to the coming age--the Millennium. God is now pouring out his spirit only upon the Church--"his servants and handmaidens." See MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. v., p. 179.