ZWT - 1888 - R0997 thru R1088 / R1061 (001) - September, 1888
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VOL. X. ALLEGHENY, PA., SEPTEMBER, 1888. NO. 1.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa. C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
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TO POOR SAINTS.
This paper will be sent free to the interested of the Lord's poor, who will send a card yearly requesting it. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you who have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." --`ISAIAH 55:1,2`.
Entered as SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER, at the P.O., Allegheny, Pa.
FREE TO NEW READERS.
For the sake of new readers, we mention below special topics treated in recent issues of the TOWER of which we still have a supply. Order any one of these as a sample, free. Additional copies 5 cents each, except to those too poor to pay, who are welcome to any or all free.
THE LAND QUESTION.--June '87.
THE SABBATH QUESTION.--Sept. '87.
OUT OF BABYLON,--the claims of the Episcopal Church examined.--Oct. '87.
"ONE GOD,"--the Bible teaching vs., human tradition of Trinity.--Nov. '87.
"SPIRITS IN PRISON."--Dec. '87.
"HELL," "EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT," "WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH," "THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS," etc., are subjects treated in January, February, March and June 1888, TOWERS.
BAPTISM,--the Bible doctrine.--May '88.
SIN AND SICKNESS, "FAITH CURES," "PRAYER CURES," "MIND CURES," etc. --July '88.
THE TABERNACLE AND ITS SACRIFICES, --their lessons to the saints.--July '85.
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DAWN IN GERMAN, PAPER-BOUND.
A cheap, popular edition for loaning, etc., greatly desired by some of the friends, has finally been decided upon. The first thousand will be ready about October 1st, and orders will be filled in rotation as received. The price will be 25 cents each, the same as the English edition, that being the popular limit. The same "expense allowance" as on the English edition will be granted. See June '88 TOWER, page 1. Order at once.
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AN EPISCOPALIAN MINISTER'S VIEW.
At the Baltimore Conference of the P.E. church, recently held, the annual sermon was preached by one of their number, A.R. Stuart, D.D. "His theme was The Perils of the Church at the present time;" and the following extracts from his discourse, clipped from the Baltimore press, indicate that at least one in the P.E. church sees as clearly as the M.E. bishop, quoted in our last issue, that the blind leading the blind in the nominal church are stumbling into the ditch of unbelief as truly and as surely as the Jewish Church at the first advent. We quote as follows:--
"Never was there an age in which there has been more fervid zeal in connection with the church than in this--more energy, more self-denial, greater munificence, greater exertions or greater sacrifices. The working bands, the parish organizations, and religious agencies of every kind, the multiplied services and communions of this nineteenth century have never been equaled or surpassed in days gone by. Is it possible that vital godliness can be on the decline in the midst of so much ardent and pious enterprise? What better evidence than the foregoing can be produced to show that the church is as firm as a rock, and that there is no reaction against the reformation, and no movement toward atheism or papalism?
"I concede the strength of this position and the force of argument sustaining it, but I am not afraid nevertheless in defense of my assertion and belief that there is a falling away; notwithstanding all this wonderful zeal, to point out the fact that godless ambition, baptized worldliness, strife and vain glory, party spirit, sordid motive, selfish interest, simple bigotry, or all combined, may lie at the root of much which seems so laudable.
"With the men of this generation for the most part the practical work they are engaged in with zeal and energy does not and can in no measure supply what is all the while really lacking in their faith. This they are discovering, and it is sending many of them away sorrowful--some to seek refuge under the baneful shelter of a semi-pagan system, and others to dismally flounder about in the rayless, bottomless pit of blank negation.
"The church is growing in power and wealth, and yet there is much to cause dread in the minds of thinking men. The perilous times of which the Apostles spoke having come and there can be no doubt but that great danger is at hand from Italianism and infidelity. It is true there never was a time when the church was more active in good works. The practical and pressing question now is Are we going back to Judaism? are we holding on to a too slavish respect for the ordinances of men? It looks like we are, and it is this that is driving many into Romanism and others into the arms of infidelity. There is a loss of simplicity of faith; men are laying too much stress upon what they call religious duty and
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what they are doing for God, instead of contemplating what He has done for them and placing their trust in Him. Instead of relying upon the pure gospel their minds run to forms and they soon descend to semi-paganism, or blank nothing.
"In the light and strength which we find in the Gospel, and nowhere else, may we hope to lead a life of true devotedness to God and goodness in the fellowship of the life of our Lord. In that light and strength will we certainly come to know that the essence of a true church does not consist in the length or the brevity of its title; in its being called Protestant, or called Catholic, or called neither."
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SOME PRESBYTERIANS AWAKING.
The Presbytery of Nassau, (L.I.,) recently unanimously passed the following Resolution, addressed to the General Assembly:--
"The Presbytery of Nassau hereby respectfully overtures the General Assembly that a committee be appointed to revise Chapter III., of the Confession of Faith (with special reference to Sections 3,4, 6 and 7), on the ground that in its present form it goes beyond the word of God, and is opposed to the convictions and repugnant to the feelings of very many of our most worthy and thoughtful members; and that said revision be sent down to the Presbyteries, and, if accepted by them, be substituted for Chapter III. in the Confession of Faith."
One who signs himself a "Long Time Presbyterian Minister" writes as follows on this subject, to the Christian Union. "It is a matter of the highest importance, that a Presbytery has at last moved in the direction of the Revision of the Confession of Faith. The Presbytery of Nassau ask the coming General Assembly to revise chap. III. of "God's eternal decree," especially the sections which refer to reprobation. This is an awful chapter, in which it is said (sec. 3): "By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto eternal life, and others foreordained to everlasting death." Also, in sec. 4: "These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be increased or diminished." As Calvin said, "This is a horrible decree." It is the sheerest rationalism. It puts the inference and conclusions of fallible human logic on a par with the word of God. It is a libel on the character of God, which the enlightened Christian conscience of our time will not for a moment receive as an article of faith.
"We long and pray for the reunion of Christendom, but we should not try to hasten it by professing to believe the obsolete tenets of past ages, which are repugnant to the moral and historical sense of the present generation."
We are glad to note that light is breaking in upon, and revealing some of the hideous features of, the old creed-idols; to which alas! so many still bow down. But while we must ever pity the blind, and pray and labor that they may see, what must be our righteous indignation (and God's) against such hypocrisy as this "Long-time Presbyterian Minister" accuses himself of. Hiding behind this unrecognizable title, he confesses that he does not believe the very Confession of Faith which for years, and still, he publicly professes to believe. What moral cowardice! For fear of the loss of an easy and sure living, and for fear of the loss of dignity and honor among those whom he admits are perpetrating "a libel on the character of God," he prefers to stultify himself and stand with them; not only sharing in this "libel," but more,--an admitted hypocrite, false to the solemn vows which he took when he accepted his "ministerial license" to libel God's character.
"Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee," says the Master to such; and we greatly fear that the number willing to thus libel God's character for the sake of peace, harmony, honor of men, and a good easy living, is not a few. Better far in the esteem of God and all his honest children is the condition of the Infidel, who honestly speaks his mind, than such deceivers who sell the truth and God's character for pieces of silver.
"The latter end of that man is worse than the first." "It had been better for them, not to have known the way of righteousness [truth], than after they have known it to turn from the holy commandment, delivered unto them. But it happens to them according to the true proverb: The dog returned to his own vomit."--`2 Pet. 2:21,22`.
Awakening is good, and we are striving to awaken all--ministers and people--to see the truth regarding God's plan and character; and to see the incongruities and unreasonableness of creeds formulated in the Dark Ages; and to get them to reject these befouled streams of human tradition, impregnated with Papal errors and corruption. But each one who is awakened and sees, is a thousand fold more guilty than the poor blinded deluded ones whom his influence and example helps to keep in bondage and ignorance of the truth. He that knew his Master's will and did it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.
We speak forcibly, because such hypocrites, both in pulpits and pews, are increasing, and often do not realize their hypocrisy because it is common and popular. We speak not in anger but in love. Following God's example we would wound to heal.
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WHY WAGES SEEM LOW.
The widening of the sphere of one's surroundings, and a larger acquaintance with other men and their pursuits, have long been recognized as not productive of content. Writing to his nephew a hundred years ago, Thomas Jefferson thus concisely expressed the results of his observation: "Traveling," he says, "makes men wiser, but less happy. When men of sober age travel they gather knowledge, but they are, after all, subject to recollections mixed with regret; their affections are weakened by being extended over more objects, and they learn new habits which cannot be gratified when they return home." Again, as the former few and simple requirements of the masses have become more varied and costly, the individual effort necessary for the satisfaction of the latter is not relatively less, even under the new conditions of production, than before,--and in many instances, is possibly greater. Hence, notwithstanding the large advance in recent years in the average rate of wages, and their increased purchasing power, there is no less complaint than formerly of the cost of living; when the foundation for the complaint is for the most part to be found in the circumstance that a totally different style of living has been adopted; and that society makes conformity with such different style a standard of family respectability.--Hon. A. D. Wells.
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LETTERS TO OUR CHILDREN.--BY W. I. M.
DEAR M.:--In our last we found that, according to the Scriptures, there is one God only. Naturally you ask, "Then who or what is Jesus?" So much mystery has been thrown around his nature that it is no wonder that he is indeed "a mystery" to many. But does not the Bible speak of him in a very peculiar manner; and are not his own sayings about himself very dark, and difficult to understand? Yes, to some they are probably very dark.
Have you ever stood near a group of foreigners talking (all together, as we sometimes do) in a language you did not understand a single word of? You have noticed their manner,--now grave, then gay; now seemingly angry in their earnestness, then suddenly all seized with convulsive laughter. How strange it all seemed to you; though to one of their own people standing by, there might be nothing strange about it.
Many have never learned God's language. It has been too much trouble; or they had not time to learn it, they were too anxious to make money or to enjoy this life; so "it is all Greek" to them. Our citizenship is of the Heavenly Kingdom (See `Phil. 3:20`; `Heb. 11:13-16`; `Eph. 2:19`--Revised Version.), therefore we should be diligent to learn its language.
If we study God's Word faithfully, earnestly asking that his spirit may enlighten the eyes of our understanding, we shall learn his language, and his Word will no longer be "a sealed book" to us. --`Isa. 29:9-14`.
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WHAT THINK YOU OF THE CHRIST, WHOSE SON IS HE?
This is the way our Lord Jesus asked the Pharisees their official opinion concerning the promised Messiah. They answered correctly, in the language of the Scripture: "The Son of David." Then he showed them that David called him "Lord," and asked them again. "If David then called him Lord, how is he his Son?"
They had not got over as far as to understand that, and could not answer him.
Let us find the answer.
Whose son is he? He had been announced as the son of David, and heir to David's throne, `Luke 1:32`: As the seed of Abraham and heir of the world, `Gal. 3:16`; `Rom. 4:13`: As the seed of the woman [Eve], who was to crush the head of their deceiver,--bringing deliverance to the race.--`Gen. 3:15`.
The Jews might have partly understood this, knowing that Eve was the mother of all the human race, that David was a descendant of Abraham, that the promised Messiah [or Christ] would be a descendant of David, and that he would take the kingdom of Israel [David's throne], and subdue and rule the world with it.
But it was also written that the Christ was the Root of David's family (`Isa. 11:10`), as well as the Branch. (`Jer. 23:5-6`.) After David's Genealogical Tree had apparently been cut down and dried up and dead, new life was to enter one of the roots (`Isa. 11:1`), and it was to bud and blossom and fill the world with fruit. --`Isa. 27:6`.
Stranger things than these were written of this Wonderful One. Moses foresaw him as a prophet; and, like himself, as a leader; in a greater deliverance than the coming out of Egypt. (`Deut. 18:15-19`; `Jer. 16:14-15`.) Again, he was seen as a priest; and--like Melchisedec (`Heb. 7:1`) --as a royal priest; a priest upon a throne. (`Zech. 6:12-13`.) He was to be a king (`Isa. 32:1`), yet he would be born in a manger (`Luke 2:12`) and would come as one of the humblest of earth.--`Zech. 9:9`.
Lord of all, yet servant of all. (`Matt. 20:25-28`.) Without a place to lay his own head, yet able to say "Come unto me...and I will give you rest."-- `Matt. 11:25-30`.
Hungry and thirsty, yet dispensing living bread (`John 6`), and living water (`John 4`) and feeding thousands.--`Matt. 14:13-21`; `15:32-38`.
Tired, weary and asleep, yet rising to subdue the winds and the waves of the raging storm.--`Luke 8:24`.
Rich, yet for our sakes becoming poor; that we through his poverty might be made rich.--`2 Cor. 8:9`.
Innocent, yet wounded for our transgressions, that through his stripes we might be healed.--`Isa. 53:5`.
Sinless (`Heb. 4:15`), yet bearing away the sin of the world.--`Isa. 53:11-12`.
The Lamb of God (`John 1:29`), yet the Lion of the tribe of Judah.--`Rev. 5:5`.
Rejected by his own (`Isa. 53:3`), but yet to be revealed as the "Desire of all Nations."--`Hag. 2:7`.
To blind bigots he was without form or comeliness [good looks], (`Isa. 53:2`) but to those whose eyes are opened he becomes "the chiefest among ten thousand" and "altogether lovely."-- `Solomon's Song 5:10,16`.
He is the Light of the World (`John 1:4,9`); The Morning Star (`Rev. 22:16`); The Sun of Righteousness.--`Mal. 4:2`.
Surely we are ready to cry out, "What manner of man is this?" Was he a man? He was certainly no common man like the rest of mankind. Try to compare him with the greatest men the world has seen, and you find you cannot. They were not enough like him to compare with him. He is beyond comparison. The most famous of earth's heroes have been its warriors: Such men as Alexander, Julius Caesar and Bonaparte. They were called great men because very successful, but their success was through the slaughter of millions of their fellow men who had as much right to life as they had. But here is a hero who refused the honors of men (`John 6:15`) and who instead of taking life, actually yielded up his own; that he might enjoy the pleasure of bringing back to life and joy and peace the untold millions whom the tyrants of earth have ground down to degradation and death. "Greater love hath no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." Jesus died for his enemies.
If Jesus was not God, nor a common man, what was he? He nearly always spoke of himself as, the Son of man. In a few instances he acknowledged the title the Son of God. Was he both, a Son of man and a Son of God? Yes. Was he therefore both God and man? No.
I think you are puzzled now. Well, God's Word contains wonderful mysteries and strange secrets. But Jesus said to his disciples "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [unbelievers] it is not given." --`Matt. 13:11`. Read also, `Psa. 25:14`; `Amos 3:7`.
God's Word explains many mysteries, and his faithful servants who study his Word are not in darkness (`1 Thes. 5:4-8`), as the worldly are.--`1 John 2:11`.
"Oh how I love thy law!
It is my meditation all the day.
Thy commandments make me wiser
than mine enemies:
I have more understanding than all my
For thy testimonies are my meditations.
I understand more than the aged,
Because I have kept thy precepts."
Let his prayer also be yours:--
"Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold
Wondrous things out of thy law."
Read carefully what Paul said to Timothy. `2 Tim. 3:14-17`.
Now let us turn to God's Word with confidence that he will reveal even this mystery to us. In `John, chap. 17`, Jesus speaks clearly of God as his Father; of having been sent by his Father to the world; and of having been in glory with his Father before the world existed. This carries us a long way back into the past, but John goes further. He tells us that not only "the world was made by him," but "without him was not anything made that has been made."--`John 1:3`.
Paul makes it still clearer in `Col. 1:15-18`, saying;--"In him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible [to us];...and he is before all things.
You are ready to say: "If before all things, and if all things were made by him, would it not prove that he was eternal, and not created? In other words, that as he made all things, therefore he was not made; and if not made, then he must be an uncreated or self existant God?" Well, if there were no other scriptures on the subject it would look as if John and Paul meant that; and this is the argument of Trinitarians, and a very plausible one. But we have no right to select texts to support one side of a seeming argument, and ignore or set aside other scriptures which overthrow our pet theories. We have seen that our Lord Jesus is not the Lord Jehovah, and Jehovah has said clearly and repeatedly that there is only one God, and that he is that one. We will not discuss the assertion that the three Gods ("God, the Father; God, the Son; and God, the Holy Ghost; as the church of Rome invented it), are one God, as it admits of no discussion, being a simple impossibility, and too absurd for reasonable people to believe.
Paul in the place last quoted from (`Col. 1:15`) explains what he means. He tells us that our Lord Jesus was "THE FIRSTBORN of all creation." Let us examine this very carefully, for if we understand Paul here it will make the whole subject plain. The old version reads: "The Firstborn of every creature." This is not so clear, as we might get the thought of each creature, whereas it means every created thing. Not only the human race, or all living creatures [beasts, birds, etc.] on this earth, but all angels, and all worlds are included;--the countless spheres in the starry heavens, which are probably under process of preparation for future habitation under the reign of him who is to fill and perfect all things. --`Eph. 1:23`.
When God began the work of creation he first made our Lord Jesus. He was not called Jesus then, neither was he a man. He was made in the highest order of created beings that we have any knowledge of. He is called "The Archangel." We do not know that there was any other "Archangel," though there were other "Princes" among the angels. The word means the first or chief angel. He was both the first created and the first or highest in rank. Just as Adam was pre-eminent among men by being the first, and therefore the life-giver to all the others, so this Archangel was pre-eminent over all and the life-giver to "all creation." He was, as he himself says, "THE BEGINNING of the creation of God." (`Rev. 3:14`.) But he was more. God, having created him, evidently used him as his instrument in the further work of creation. That is, God did not continue to create things himself, but he told this "Firstborn" what to do and he did it.
Now, as God created all things through Jesus Christ, God was the Creator, and his Firstborn was also the Creator; but you see that the Son was not Creator in the same way that his Father was. God gave him the necessary wisdom and power to do all these things, "For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." (`Col. 1:19`) Fullness here means unlimited or complete power, etc.--`John 3:34-35`.
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This Firstborn then became the fountain from whence flowed out the life and power which both created and continues to sustain all things. Behind the Fountain was the great inexhaustible Reservoir, God.
Many of the texts applying to our Lord Jesus as Creator, Son, Firstborn, Prince, Fullness, etc., refer to him as the Head of the New Creation, of which he and the true Gospel Church--"The Church of the Firstborn"--are the "Beginning." We will study that feature in our next letter.
The old creation was in many things a picture or type of the new creation. Thus the first Adam was an image or small representation of the second Adam. --`1 Cor. 15:44-50`.
Abraham offering up his son (`Gen. 22`), and other circumstances in their history prefigured Our Father's dealing with Jesus, and with the Church. (`Gal. 4:24-31`.) David as a king represented Christ. So the work of the Firstborn of the old creation corresponds in some things to the work of the Firstborn of the new creation; but if we study faithfully with our Lord's help, we need not get confused, and the subject will become more and more clear and plain to us.
In our next we will follow the history of our Lord Jesus down from the glory he had with the Father before the world was, through his trial and victory to his glorious reward, his exaltation.--PAPA.
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ALL THINGS NEW.
"The world is old with centuries
But not for these she bows her head;
Close to her heart the sorrow lies,
She holds so many dead!
Sad discords mingle in her song,
Tears fall upon her with the dew,
The whole creation groans--How long
Ere all shall be made new?
"Yet brightly on her smiles the sun,
A bounteous heaven delights to bless;
Oh, what shall be that fairer one
Wherein dwells righteousness?
Oh, happy world! Oh, holy time!
When wrong shall die and strife will cease,
And all the bells of heaven chime
With melodies of peace.
"No place shall be in that new earth
For all that blights this universe;
No evil taint the second birth,
'There shall be no more curse.'
Ye broken hearted, cease your moan;
The day of promise dawns for you;
For He who sits upon the throne
Says, 'I make all things new.'
"We mourn the dead but they shall wake!
The lost, but they shall be restored!
Oh, well our human hearts might break
Without that sacred word!
Dim eyes look up, sad hearts rejoice,
Seeing God's bow of promise through,
At sound of that prophetic voice--
'I will make all things new.'" --Sel.
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THE VALUE OF SUPERSTITION.
As Josephus was disposed to apologize for his countrymen the Jews, and to attempt to show that their restlessness under the government of Caesar was not the result of their religious laws, etc., (as shown in our August issue), so many Christians are disposed to apologize for the spread of a Revolutionary spirit, a spirit of insubordination, wherever the gospel goes; and they, like Josephus, disclaim the responsibility of themselves and of the Christian religion. But this is because both they and Josephus are tinctured with the philosophy of their times.
The liberty and equality which the gospel inculcates is much akin to the more shadowy typical teachings of the same, given to the Jews; and the natural results of this knowledge upon the unconsecrated are much the same now as then, leading to socialism, anarchism and various impracticable ideas on the part of some who are neither controlled by a well-balanced intellect, nor by the spirit of Christ, nor directed by a knowledge of God's time and method of righting matters now seriously at fault.
Josephus, writing for Grecians and Romans in Rome, manifests his object to have been, to show that the Jewish philosophies, no less than the Grecian, tended to peace, and submission to rulers; hence after reporting the Jewish views as nearly as possible to correspond to the Grecian, he adds, "on account of which doctrines they are able to greatly persuade the body of the people."
The intelligent portion of the world has always esteemed peace and good government as of vital importance, hence worldly-wise philosophers and statesmen have often approved and even advocated theories which they themselves at heart rejected as absurdities, simply because they realized the need of some "doctrines by which the body of the people might be greatly persuaded" to relinquish their freedom and submit to the ruling of the more able and crafty. Since fear is one of the greatest incentives, fear has generally been used; and since prejudice and superstition are the ablest supports to fear, these have been cultivated by all philosophies. And by whatsoever name known, or accompanied by whatsoever appearances of learning--as colleges, learned men, books, etc.,--such philosophies (built upon superstition and prejudice) are really but vain imaginings of imperfect men, and reveal their ignorance of the truth.
Nevertheless, in some respects at least, the world has profited by these systems and their various errors, which have had the effect aimed at by them all--namely "to greatly persuade the body of the people" --through fear. And it is for the same reason (philosophical conservatism), that wise statesmen and thinkers of later times,--such as Webster, Clay, Lincoln, Grant, Bismarck, and others, while not able or willing to accept any of the modern creeds of Christendom, nevertheless have favored all, realizing the need of "doctrines which would greatly persuade the body of the people."
Mankind in general, in the present fallen state, is mentally unbalanced and incapable of reasoning logically on any question. Only the few, the exceptions, are capable of drawing logical conclusions on financial, scientific and social, i.e. political, problems. Hence the world had its season of greatest contentment (which in some respects should be sought by all) when the masses were in utter ignorance, and trusted and obeyed blindly the dictates of the abler, more logical, and balanced minds, which rose to the surface and gained the power. But avarice, greed for power and honor and wealth, continually corrupted this abler class; and the philosophies of oppression and superstition overleaped their bounds; and the sleeping world began to awaken; and the great Reformation of the sixteenth century followed.
By fits and starts the awakening of the Reformation time has since progressed. And it has brought with it revolutions-- political, ecclesiastical and scientific. This results from the dissemination of Bible truths among the people. The Bible is the greatest of all levellers; the greatest of all liberators; the greatest of all revolutionizers. It sows its seeds deep and broad, by showing that all men are of one blood; that all alike were condemned to death; and that all alike, king and pope and peasant and slave, were redeemed by the one sacrifice given "once for all;" and that there is only one way for all to come to God, and that as they come they must all stand upon one level of acceptance, because God is no respecter of persons.
Wherever these principles of the true gospel are appreciated they are recognized as a grant of liberty from God, which inspires the people to a realization of their common rights and privileges, and causes them to feel restive under earthly potentates both kingly and priestly.
Though the world possesses the blessing of greater knowledge, and that more widely distributed among the masses than ever before; and though with it they possess many more comforts and conveniences than ever before--yes, even luxuries formerly possessed scarcely by the few, are now classed among the necessities by the many; and though there never has been a period of such general freedom, --liberty of person, of thought, and of conduct; yet for all this, it is doubtful if there ever was a period of more general discontent.
Let none misunderstand our meaning when we assert, that the Bible is indirectly the source of this discontent, as well as of present enlightenment and progress. Had the Bible been kept in the background, hidden from the people under cover of dead languages, as Papacy designed; had the decretals and bulls of
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the church of Rome continued to be the standard and law of men's consciences; the dark ages would still continue, and ignorance, superstition and contentment would prevail now, as it did in the twelfth century.
Knowledge and liberty can only be profitably used, and without danger of bad results, either by perfect beings able and willing to reason out fully the results, and to voluntarily submit to such restraints and regulations as would be for the general good; or by imperfect beings, who are conscious of the imperfections of their minds and bodies, but whose hearts recognize the divine law and voluntarily submit every thought and act thereto; or by fallen beings under a just, infallible, rigorous government which could and would enforce righteousness.
To-day we see the knowledge of human rights spreading among the masses, and the chains of ignorance and superstition breaking, yet the people are unprepared for such liberty; they are unbalanced in judgment so as to be incapable of correctly estimating causes and effects; they are not consecrated to God, so as to be willing to be under the control of his will, expressed in the Scriptures; and we have no just, infallible government, able to enforce righteousness.
The result must be, that as superstitious dread of everlasting torment and other falsities depart, and the unwise, unbalanced masses gain a knowledge of their power, laws and governments, good, bad and indifferent, will all be swept away, and confusion and anarchy will obtain,--to the injury of all. That this very condition of things is rapidly approaching, all can see, who see at all. It cannot be repressed; it already has a great momentum and makes greater progress daily. It is both an evil and a blessing. Its first results will be evil, but it will prove to all mankind the absolute necessity of a just, strong government, which can enforce the right while men progress in knowledge--without requiring the aids of ignorance and superstition to maintain its control.
And while the people will be getting ready to welcome such a government, God is preparing just such a government for them,--Christ's Millennial Kingdom. Under its beneficent reign, knowledge shall be greatly increased, and man restored to God's image, which has been almost effaced by the past six thousand years of sin, so that he will be mentally balanced again and able to reason correctly on good and evil, right and wrong, advantage and disadvantage.
So then, ignorance and superstition are more favorable to contentment than a little knowledge; and the worldly-wise of the past saw this, and to the benefit of all kept the masses under subjection to law by these means. And God permitted it so to be, until his due time should come, in which, under control of the King of kings knowledge shall be made so perfect as to turn aside its present danger and to make it the basis of a much greater and more enjoyable contentment than ignorance ever produced.
We are now in the transition period, from the rule of superstition to the rule of truth. Many seeing the trouble will be inclined to shrink back, and to desire ignorance and superstition to chain and restrain the masses; and attempts to perpetuate these restraints will doubtless be made; but since God's due time has come for knowledge to be increased none can stay its progress. The consecrated church occupies, as ever, a peculiar position, seeing and appreciating without fear the result which others will dread. We have no fear, because we see the glorious results to be wrought out thus. It is in order that we should not be in darkness, as the world, that our Father's plans are thus unfolded to those of his children who, led of his spirit, have an ear to hear.
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It is said that, after the emancipation of American slaves, when millions who had for years been subject to the master's law and whip, were suddenly given the right to control their own affairs, it was almost impossible to get the majority of them to do anything. In their degraded condition liberty meant license; and had it not been for their fear of everlasting torment, there is no telling what extremes might have been reached. Since then, experience has been a valuable educator to many of these freed-men. Many of them have learned that they must master themselves, control their desires and weaknesses, and overcome their sloth; and that they must really be both master and slave. Experience is slowly teaching them that sloth brings hunger and nakedness and disrespect, and that diligence and sobriety bring honor and comforts and respect and a higher order of pleasure; and that now they must not only be their own masters, but also their own slaves.
So, too, it requires a large degree of experience, which is one sort of education, to enable our weak fallen natures, so long the slaves of that severe master, Sin, to use the liberty wherewith Christ makes us free.
If we were perfect beings as Adam was, in God's likeness, we should probably with present experience, find no such difficulty, but only pleasure and real advantage from fullest liberty. But alas! such is not our case; we are painfully conscious of our imperfections and downward tendencies; we find that as a knowledge of God's plan comes to us, the very freedom it brings becomes a snare to many. As they get the truth, and through it freedom from the superstitions and fears of error, wherewith Sin had bound us as slaves, the first tendency with many is apt to be toward spiritual lethargy and idleness, or into slavery to politics or business.
When the task-master, the law, is gone and can disturb us no longer, because we are "not under law but under grace" (favor), we are in serious danger, even while joyfully singing,--
"Free from the law, oh, happy condition,
Jesus hath died and there is remission."
But, a greater responsibility rests unto us, in some respects, by reason of this liberty. To be "under grace" leaves room for our wills to act; to use this "liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." Our liberty is a liberty to act; to co-operate with our Lord and Redeemer in overcoming our former master, Sin.
The fuller and clearer our apprehension of God's love, and of the length and breadth of his full salvation, the fuller will be our joy and our appreciation of "this liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free." The more we learn of the particulars of our emancipation, the greater and grander we find our liberty to be, and the more our joy, the greater is our responsibility. "Brethren, ye have been invited to liberty only use not liberty for an occasion to [serve] the flesh, but by love serve one another."--`Gal. 5:13`.
The American freedmen found many of their former masters willing to take advantage of their weaknesses and ignorance, to get them into their debt in advance; so that they would be compelled to serve them virtually as before. So, those whom Christ makes free, find their old
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master, Sin, even while admitting their freedom, ready to take advantage of their weaknesses and to make them serve him virtually as before; even while they are conscious of their emancipation. Those who are thus overcome are really slaves again, except in name.
What safe course, then, can such weak and inexperienced freedmen pursue? becomes a most important question to us all.
There is but one safe course. Because imperfect, we are unfit for self-control and incapable of using liberty to our own real advantage; hence we must really become slaves again. It becomes a question only as to whose slave. Left to itself, the question would soon solve itself; we would gradually become re-enslaved to Sin, with merely the name of being free, but without any of its advantages. There is only one other Master besides Sin, and that is Christ; and unlike Sin, he never enslaves any; all of his household are voluntary servants, and he treats them as "brethren." Though all such must be as obedient to his will as though they were the veriest slaves, yet he binds none; he compels none to stay, or to serve him. In a word, all his servants are voluntary slaves. His household is really a school where he is sole Master, using his authority for the benefit, education and development of his faithful ones.
The only safe course for those made free--justified by Christ--is this:--
Go to Christ at once, tell him of our joy and thankfulness for freedom; and of our realization of our own imperfections which incapitate us for self control; and of our fear lest our former master by cunning devices might bring us into bondage; and pledging unqualified submission to him as his servants, ask that he take us under his control;--to teach us, to chastise us, and to make use of our time and talents, in whatever way he pleases.
But we query--
(1) Would not this complete surrender deprive us of liberty?
(2) Would it not put us completely under the control of a master, whose every wish such an agreement would bind us to consult and obey?
(3) Is not all slavery detestible?
(4) Is such a slavery reasonable?
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We answer (1), Yes, it would deprive us of liberty in one sense; in that we could not abide in his service, draw his pay, and have the blessings which his household enjoy, without full submission to his will regardless of our own. But this would not interfere with our freedom in that it would be our own voluntary act, and in that we should not be bound by Christ to continue in his service. We retain the liberty to leave, even after we accept the privilege to enter this service. It is a privilege, not a compulsion; a voluntary enslavement.
(2) Yes, full submission is required of the entire household; all are required to obey whether they see fully the wisdom of the rules or not; as they obey, they are made more and more to see the justice and wisdom of their Master's rulings. But surely we need not fear to fully submit to such a master. He takes advantage of our confidence, not to injure and enslave, but to bless us and protect us from our former master and enemy Sin. We can surely trust him who died to secure for us freedom from the service of Sin, and from his wages, death;--who purchased for us life and liberty. Ah, yes, this one is interested in us, and is benevolent, wise and powerful--our tried friend.
"One there is above all others
Well deserves the name of friend.
His is love beyond a brother's,
Costly, free, and knows no end.
"Which of all our friends to save us
Could or would have shed his blood?
But this Savior died to have us
Freed from Sin--restored to God."
(3) Slavery to sin, is detestible and galling indeed; enforced slavery of any sort is always dishonorable, both to master and slave. But the voluntary slavery of love, subjecting itself to righteousness and wisdom and submitting every talent and moment to the direction of this Master, is grandly noble, and, moreover, the very essence of wisdom.
A mother's love and service and slavery to her family, is but an imperfect illustration of this love-slavery; and yet it is justly regarded with respect and veneration.
(4) Our weakness and inability to rule ourselves, and to protect ourselves against being again entrapped, by our old master, Sin, shows us that the only reasonable course for us to follow, is to submit ourselves to the one interested in our welfare, who will raise us up and strengthen us. It would be the part of wisdom to thus submit to Christ if our reason were none other than a selfish one,--that thus we might escape the other, the cruel master, Sin, whose wages are suffering and death.
But there is another and a weighty reason why we should volunteer to enter the service of Christ,--namely gratitude. When we realize that all we have and are is of and through him, that all our liberty is his gift purchased with his own self-denying sacrifice, gratitude of the commonest sort demands that we not only thank him, but also that we show our appreciation by using our redeemed lives to his glory, in his grand and honorable service.
Seeing human weakness, and the crafty deceptions of Satan, Paul urged some of our fellow-freedmen, in his day, saying: As ye have yielded your members--servants to uncleanness and to iniquity, even so, now yielded your members servants to righteousness unto holiness." (`Rom. 6:19`.) And again he says, "Being made free from Sin, and become [bond] servants [slaves] to God, ye have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." (`Verse 22`.) And again he says: "I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies [in his service] living sacrifices, holy, acceptable unto God, your reasonable service." --`Rom. 12:1`.
So, then, the only safe course for any of the justified, lies in consecration; i.e., in a voluntary and full surrender to Christ. All others really become re-enslaved to Sin, even though they may despise the service. Others, knowing not how to use their liberty and not having full divine direction, are in some respect worse off than if still in ignorance and bound by superstition; for otherwise, their release becomes a fresh source of temptation, the more difficult, yea impossible, for such to restrain. Hence self-control is dangerous to a fallen imperfect being, though good and proper for the perfect. Hence the necessity that all who realize freedom through Christ's pardon, should submit themselves to their Redeemer's control.
Indeed we may herein see the wisdom of God's course in permitting mighty systems to bind the fallen race, with chains of ignorance and superstition, until the present time; when, the selection of the church, the Body of Christ, being about complete, full knowledge as well as full power to control, will be established in the earth; after the now rising and designed tempest (`Dan. 12:1`) shall have swept away present systems and broken their chains.
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KNOWLEDGE SOMETIMES A SNARE.
We have noticed some of the bad effects of knowledge (freedom from superstition, etc.) on the depraved world,--in the futile efforts of fallen men to govern themselves by the simple power of love of right; for the twofold reason of their lack of wisdom, and their lack of strength of character.
Let us next notice, the bad effect of knowledge (freedom from errors and superstitions) upon believers in Christ who do not submit themselves fully to his control. They are exposed, by their freedom to greater besetments from their own imperfect organisms. Thus for illustration: Some who had dreaded to speak an untrue word; who had been scrupulously honest; who had been generous toward the poor, and in support of religion; who had been prompt and regular in worship, both in the public gatherings of believers and in private and family worship; who in a word were exemplary persons,--more than they perhaps imagined have been held and bound to such a life, by a fear that eternal torment would be their lot if any other course were pursued, than by real love of righteousness. It is easily seen that a knowledge of God's love and gracious plan, setting free such a one from his bonds of superstition, must have one of two effects upon him:--
The effect may be to make him less careful of his word,--of his business and social engagements; less generous toward the poor and toward religious work; less regular in God's worship, public and private; more disposed to gratify self, and less disposed to sacrifice anything for God or for fellow creatures than before; because the impulse of fear is removed, and must is replaced by may; and may is fought against, by every selfish interest which before selfishly urged the other course.
Or, the effect may be the very reverse: The fear being removed, and the love of God being seen the more clearly, the effect may, and certainly should be, to overwhelm the heart and lead it, bound in loving gratitude and appreciation, to the feet of the Redeemer; consecrated fully and forever to his service, and anxious, if but permitted, to share even the humblest part in carrying forward the great work which God has foreordained. Such a one will be blessed and enlarged in every way by his freedom. Seeing God's goodness and love, and having consecrated to God's service and will and plan, he will seek to copy and imitate his character and methods. Seeing the firmness and justice of God, he will seek to be more and more just. Seeing God's love and benevolence more clearly, he, while just and firm, will be more generous toward the weak and erring. Partaking of the spirit (the mind, the plan, the sentiment) of God, gradually, he will lose that selfishness which is always seeking its own advantage, and will begin to take so deep an interest in God's plans as to gladly sacrifice selfish desires, plans and conveniences, etc., etc., in the effort to fulfill the divine plan. His love for all for whom Christ died, will make him more than ever kind to the poor and sympathetic toward the unfortunate. More than ever will he desire to use money, and time, and influence, in God's service; because now, love has made self-sacrifice a pleasure. More than ever will he desire to acknowledge the Lord in all his affairs, and to worship him in private and with his family. More than ever will he be desirous of meeting both publicly and privately for worship, and for the study of the Master's will, with those "of like precious faith" and consecration. And less than ever will he crave other fellowship or company, except he can at least have a hope of telling them of the full salvation and of the gracious Master he has found.
Some of his unconsecrated friends, may think and say of him, that he is a fool-- a very slave to Christ, doing and enduring in his Master's service (willingly, gladly), what they would not endure under any consideration; not even in the interest of self, the master they chiefly consult and seek to please.
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But oh, how differently the truly consecrated feel:--
"Oh what comfort it brings,
That soul sweetly sings;
I am safe from all danger
While under his wings."
A slave?--Yes, a willing slave; and yet free to leave the service and go away, if he wills. A menial servant?--Yes, and one whose chief anxiety is to do the work to the approval of the gracious Master. One whose only fear is to displease, or to be rejected from the work. These are the only ones on earth to whom knowledge and liberty have brought the proper fruit so much desired by all, namely contentment. And truly as it is written, "Godlikeness with contentment is great gain."
"Farewell ye dreams of night,
Jesus is mine!
Mine is a dawning light
Jesus is mine!
All else my soul has tried
Left but an aching void;
Jesus has satisfied!
Jesus is mine!"
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BE NOT ENTANGLED AGAIN.
"Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."--`Gal. 5:1`.
Few get truly free from errors and superstitions, because few seek earnestly enough the voluntary enslavement to Christ, referred to above. Stepping out of one error and bondage of superstition, they step into another because of their own weaknesses. As we have already shown, none are strong enough to stand alone, and there is but the one we can lean on, and not be taken advantage of and deceived, enslaved and bound again, all our present surroundings being imperfect or evil.
All such enslaving, binding entanglements are deceptive; they all appear harmless or even beneficial, else few would be thus entangled. One of the very deceptive entanglements of our day, which hinders more than all others together, perhaps, that fullness and closeness of heart-fellowship with Christ, the only Master, is the prevalent idea that in joining the one church, whose names are written in heaven, we should also join some one of the numerous earthly organizations which each claim to represent that one true church, and whose creeds each claim to represent the "one faith"--"the faith once delivered unto the saints."
The impression is freely given, and is generally received, that to fail to become bound to some earthly sect, is to fail of membership in the one true church. The innocent soul, freed from Satan's service through Christ, is told truly that it cannot stand free alone, but instead of being pointed to Christ as the only Master and to the Word of God as the only rule for faith and service, they are pointed to the various sects as representing Christ, as appointed by him to receive their services, and they are pointed to the doctrines of these sects as taking the place and showing the real meaning of God's Word.
To become a probationary member of
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the one true church, "whose names are written in heaven," the conditions are first, a realization of our own imperfection and condemnation as sinners; secondly, of Christ's full atonement for our sins; thirdly, implicit faith in his love and goodness and in all his exceeding great and precious promises, however beyond the range of human skill or thought; and fourthly, a full consecration to him as our Lord and Master. These are the only conditions of our acceptance in the true church and they imply fullness of consecration, to do and be whatever our Master may desire, as we shall continually seek to grow in his grace and in the knowledge of his will. But to become a member of one of the earthly organizations, (churches), means to bind one's self beforehand, to believe and do neither more nor less than is stated in their creed and "covenant."
This leaves no room for the spirit of the truth to guide into all truth, and to show us things to come (`John 16:13`); no room for growth in grace and knowledge; and as a consequence, the new member, if he shall remain faithful to his covenant with the sect he has joined, can get no nearer to a full understanding of the truth, and no nearer to a full consecration, than the other faithful members of the same sect. He is bound by a creed seldom understood, and by a supposed interpretation of the Bible, framed by fallible men in a time of great ignorance and superstitious fog, which originated in Papacy in the dark ages.
When thus bound they are led to believe that every service rendered to such organizations, composed for most part of "tares," is service to the true church, the "little flock" of overcoming and fully consecrated believers. They suppose that money spent in cultivating sectarian pride, is sacrificed to the Lord; that fairs, suppers, and many worldly and questionable schemes to get money, are work for the Lord, and for the truth; they suppose that time and energy spent in getting repentant souls, and many others not repentant but merely alarmed, into these sects, where they will be blinded to a higher consecration, and bound and held back from growth in grace, knowledge and love,--this they are deluded into supposing is "working for Jesus!" Alas! how sadly some are thus, in the name of the Master and in the name of the true church, entangled, misled, yoked up to error, and hindered from hearing his Word, and from following in his footsteps. A fellowship with the world, and the spirit of the world, and worldly follies, extravagancies, manners, customs and views, is thus substituted for fellowship of saints under the deceiving titles of Church and Christian.
Whoever has gotten free from such entanglements and has found the Master and submitted all to him, should take heed indeed that nothing--neither Protestant nor Catholic, church or priest, shall come between his heart and the true Lord and Teacher, Christ Jesus. And it should be the chief and most enjoyable service to the free, to lead others out of bondage of Sin and into the service of Christ. But, touch them gently as you seek to set them free! Remember that they have learned to love the galling yoke and chain; and some at least wear it lovingly and patiently, supposing that the Master placed it on them. Apply the oil and wine, to strengthen and molify, and touch their weak sore-spots as gently as possible. The true ones are deceived, enveigled sheep belonging to our own one fold, and the Master seeketh to lead them into it, and you are his messenger. Be wise for his sake and theirs.
Then, too, there are other bonds of error, outside the pale of the great organizations which claim to be the living church but are dead. There are forms of error purporting to be the light of advanced truth, which only the elect will probably escape, in this evil day. Their full consecration, and faithfulness to the Master, will keep them so near to him that no such plague shall come nigh their dwelling. Being filled with the truth and with the spirit of the truth they will quickly discern error, so that it will have no power to entrap and enslave them.
To all, therefore, who have separated themselves from former entanglements and who desire to continue to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, we would say, Let us live very near the fountain-head of truth; imbibe its spirit freely; take a firm and positive stand for truth and be faithful at any cost. The Master we would thus obey, our sure and safe Guide, will be with us to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us, nor suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear, but with each temptation provide also a way of escape.
"A thousand may fall at my side,
Ten thousand at my right hand;
Above me his wings are spread wide,
Beneath them in safety I stand.
"His truth is my buckler and shield,
His love he hath set upon me;
His name in my heart he hath sealed
E'en now his salvation I see."
[In our October issue we hope to examine the question of THE TRUE CHURCH, and the liberties and restraints of its members.]
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THE CURSE LIFTED.
A curse signifies an opposition, a punishment. Ever since the representative of our race was tried in Eden, and transgressed God's commandment, the curse of that broken law has rested upon him and upon all whom he in trial represented --all the Adamic race. That this is so, we need not stop to prove at length; we merely refer the reader to the many scriptures which declare it, and the many which declare that it will be removed.
But if the Scriptures were silent on the subject, our experience proves that a curse rests on mankind. The anguish, sorrow, distress and death, which attend us from the cradle to the tomb, all tell us that a curse rests upon us. Surely we would be justified in reasoning that, if man were in full harmony with his Creator, something much better than he has, would be his portion. And looking into God's Word this thought is corroborated. We find that when man was sinless and in harmony with God, there was no curse, no sorrow, no wearying labor, no pain, nor dying; but joy, peace, life and communion with God. All our distresses are included in the term death, because they all surely lead to it, and are caused by it. And this curse--DEATH--passed upon all men in that all had sinned in the person of their representative Adam.--`1 Cor. 15:22`; `Rom. 5:12`.
It was God's law that cursed us. And since the law is the expression of God's mind, or decision, it was God's curse that came upon us. Every law, to be made of force, must contain a penalty or curse for its violation. This curse is elsewhere termed by the Apostle an "ENMITY," which word has much the same meaning as curse. (`Eph. 2:14,15`.) Enmity signifies an opposition to--a resentment.
Not only has God, represented by his law, a just and righteous opposition or enmity toward sinners, but the sinners have since come to have an opposition or enmity toward God, without a cause. Cast off, from communion and fellowship with his Maker, man went headlong into evil; and the more he lost God's image and the more degraded he became, the more opposition and enmity he had toward that which is good and holy and right. "The darkness hateth the light," and the darker the hearts of men became the more enmity they felt toward God.
Now, if God and man ever again come into harmony, and are made at-one, he who makes the at-one-ment must entirely remove this enmity. Then "There shall be no more curse."--`Rev. 22:3`.
Some would make it appear that the only enmity, is that which man feels in opposition to God and righteousness; but such see only one side of the subject. What about God's opposition to the sinner, which drove him from Eden into sorrow and death? Any theory which fails to recognize this, fails entirely; for there have been some of the race in all ages who felt no enmity toward God, but desired the blessings of his favor--Eden life and joy in his fellowship: yet such never were brought back to the original condition. And any with whom God deigned at all to commune, were made to feel that his enmity, his opposition, his curse, as a barrier still separated between them as sinners, and himself as holy. This was shown in various ways, but in none more emphatically than in the SACRIFICE FOR SIN, which they were obliged to offer, before they could have communion with God.
In these sacrifices there was remembrance or acknowledgement of sins; and since they were repeated, it proved that they never really took away sin (`Heb. 10:3,4`), or removed the curse. But these were typical of a better sacrifice, which God himself provided in due time, which did, once for all and forever, remove the sin, the curse, and the enmity on God's part.--`Heb. 10:5-10`.
The idea that the enmity is all on man's part, carried to its legitimate end, leads to the very absurd conclusion, that man got angry with God and went out of Eden full of enmity; and that he would not commune with God. Then God is represented as remonstrating and pleading with him to return and have his communion and fellowship. Man refuses, and turns his back on his Maker. God sends prophets and teachers, but man spurns them. Finally God concludes to make a great sacrifice to men to appease THEIR wrath and to win their love. This theory would represent God as saying, I have been too severe; if I had it to do again I would not be so strict; I would pardon sin quickly before you had time to get angry with me for my justice, and cast me off from your favor and love. I would bless instead of cursing you; my love for you has conquered my justice and love of right, entirely. Come, now, see what an evidence of my repentance I am willing to give. My son shall die merely to show and assure you that your sins are pardoned, and that I am anxious to have your good will. What a God that would be? Both men and angels would have in contempt such laws and such a lawgiver.
How different from this is the truth on this subject! Jehovah declares his JUSTICE as unalterable as his LOVE, and that infinite wisdom and power make possible the harmonious operation of both. He assures us that justice is the very foundation of his throne; that the empire of the universe, and the laws for its government are upheld by justice.--"Righteousness and justice are the prop of thy throne." (`Ps. 89:15`. --Lesser.) While stern Justice was reading to Adam the penalty of the broken law--THE CURSE--Love was telling him that there would be a deliverance. Men might have supposed that God would relent, and not long enforce the penalty; they might have supposed that God's enmity or opposition to sinners expressed by the curse of his law would be forced aside by his love; but if they did thus imagine, the long years of death's reign should have shattered such hopes. And when God declared that he changes not, and will never clear the guilty (`Mal. 3:6`, and `Exod. 34:7`), any false expectations might well be extinguished.
Then we may well inquire, If God's justice can never yield, how can his love help us? Infinite Wisdom was equal to the emergency, and God removed the enmity of his own just law by providing a ransom, a representative or substitute, to take man's place before the law, to suffer the just for the unjust. And thus, while he did not destroy that law, which was just and holy and good, Jesus destroyed its enmity or opposition to the Adamic race, by himself enduring its curse, as it is written: "He was made a curse [i.e., he was cursed, he bore the penalty of the curse--death, destruction] for us."--`Gal. 3:10-13`.
Because Jesus was our representative or substitute [See Webster's definition], therefore, the curse belonging to us fell on him; and the enmity or opposition against us, was reckoned against him. He was treated as man's representative or substitute, cast off to die, as an enemy, and a sinner. Remember his dying words, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Yes, "He is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition, having abolished IN HIS FLESH the enmity."-- "That he might reconcile BOTH [Jew and Gentile] unto God, in one body, by the cross,--having slain the enmity [opposition, condemnation, against both Jew and Gentile] thereby." "For through him we both have access, by one spirit unto the Father."--`Eph. 2:14-19`.
Both Jew and Gentile needed to have a work done for them. Not to make God right, in their eyes, but to render them acceptable with God. Not to atone for any injustice on God's part, but for unrighteousness (violation of God's law) on their part. Jew and Gentile are here kept distinct in speaking of Christ's work of reconciliation, because, while all were of one family originally, and all condemned in Adam, the Jew had been separated from the others and given another trial (typically) under Moses' Law-- in which also they had failed, forfeited life (typically) a second time. So that had their covenant been real,--and not merely a typical one, the death penalty under it would have been final and hopeless, the Second Death,--from which there is no hope of recovery or resurrection.
Our Lord Jesus, by his death, not only bore all the penalty against Adam, and hence against all condemned through Adam; but as a Jew he met, on behalf of all Jews, all that special condemnation which was upon them because of failure to keep their Law covenant. There was no "access unto the Father" as long as the enmity (opposition) of his just law barred us off as sinners; but when Jesus became our substitute and suffered the condemnation, he thus destroyed all claim and enmity of the original law against us on account of Adam's disobedience as well as the condemnation of the Mosaic Law against the Jews. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners," and outcasts from the Lord and his communion,
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but are "made nigh by the blood of Christ."--`Eph. 2:13,19`.
Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice, not for God unto men, to appease their enmity or opposition, but "unto God" "for men," to remove the righteous enmity and curse of God's law which was against men because of their sin.
But, note, the Law of God has not been changed; right is still right, and wrong is still wrong, and will ever so remain; but mankind has been purchased out from under the dominion of the curse, or penalty, which resulted from the original violation of the law. Mankind is reckoned as now belonging to him who bought them with his own precious blood. The claims of the law being all settled by him, the entire control of men is delivered to the Lord who bought them. Whatever now shall be done with them he shall do it. He may do what he will with his own--thenceforth "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Having purchased all mankind, he is therefore "Lord of all."--`John 5:22`; `Acts 10:36`.
Having delivered mankind from the dominion and curse of the perfect law, abolished the legal opposition--the curse of death which was against them--the work of Messiah is toward men, and not toward God; and for this work he takes to himself his great power, and will reign. The object of his reign will be to destroy man's enmity to God and his law, and to re-engrave that law upon their hearts.
Thus, our Lord not only releases us from the penalty of Adam's violation of God's law, but more, he releases us from all accountability to the Father's law; for having "bought us" we are under whatever laws or arrangements he may make for us. True, he will make no arrangement but such as is part of the Father's plan; but (as shown in August TOWER--Ransom or Pardon Which?), it is the Father's plan to deal only with perfect beings, and to have but one perfect law, viz., the obedient may live, the disobedient must die. If placed under this law (though it is just and holy and good), we fallen, depraved creatures could gain nothing by a release from the penalty of Adam's disobedience; because, we would violate this law unintentionally at once. Hence, that good law would not be good for us, now. It was made for perfect beings who could obey if they would, while fallen humanity cannot. Even released from Adamic condemnation, we realize that it would profit us nothing, if thus put under Jehovah's perfect law. As Paul suggests, it would be a fearful thing for imperfect beings to fall into the hands of the living God.--`Heb. 10:31`.
The purchase plan was adopted, therefore; so as to transfer man from accountability to the uncompromising law, under which he was created, into the complete control of his Redeemer, Christ Jesus; who for a time puts all under a compromising law, which takes cognizance of men's weaknesses and inflicts lesser penalties (as well as the death penalty--which is the only one in the Father's perfect law for perfect beings) according to the willfulness of the disobedience.
But, this change of jurisdiction, from God's judgment-seat to the judgment-seat of Christ, is not a permanent change. It is only a temporary measure, made expedient because of man's fall and because he had been redeemed, and was to have a fresh trial for everlasting life; and because he could not stand trial in the higher court. During the Millennial reign, Christ will not only be the Judge, but also the Priest and Physician and Lifegiver; to restore men to perfection, step by step, as under his judgment they are found worthy; until all shall be tested, and the disobedient cut off from life. (`Acts 3:23`; `Rev. 20:9`.) Then, all the worthy having been made perfect, the perfect law will be very good for them; and we read that then, the Son shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father,--his special law and special judgment being over.--`1 Cor. 15:24,25`.
The work of reconciliation toward God for man's sins was quickly accomplished, for Jehovah waited to be gracious. And when after laying down his life on our behalf, our Redeemer ascended up on high and there appeared in the presence of God for us, and presented the price (his sacrifice) as the redemption price of all, it was at once accepted by the Father, and the holy spirit (with gifts) was at once given (at Pentecost), as the evidence of God's reconciliation--the seal of acceptance to the consecrated waiting disciples. While there has been much error held with reference to God's character, representing him as without love, and the embodiment of stern justice only, there was in it much truth also. Like many subjects, this one has two sides; God is both loving and just. Our Father's love could not override his justice and could not acquit the guilty. The penalty must first be fully met before his love could embrace and own the sinner as his child. This was witnessed to and sealed at Pentecost and the words are now true:--
"My God is reconciled,
His pardoning voice I hear.
He owns me for his child,
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba Father, cry."
But the reconciling of men is not so quickly done. While some were anxious for reconciliation and restoration to divine favor before Pentecost, and could only receive it in part, and that after typical sacrifices for sins had been offered, yet the great majority have wandered so far from God, and have had the divine likeness or resemblance so effaced, and their ideas of right and wrong, justice and injustice, so warped and twisted, and their eyes so blinded by evil and error, that they love their degradation. They will require a thorough course of training before they can appreciate the privilege now offered them through and by Christ. Only the few, are ready for this during the Gospel age; and these are offered a share with Christ in the future work, on conditions. The vast majority, however, must be released from prejudice, superstition and blindness, before they can see; and this great work of making known to men God's love and favor and their need of it, we are informed by the Scriptures, will require an age--The Millennium.
The reason of this is apparent: It will require all of the Millennial age to rewrite the law of God upon the hearts of men. When perfect, before the fall, the law of God was so thoroughly imprinted in man's nature, his judgment of right and wrong, his conscience, was exact; so that no written law upon tables of stone was needed. Man, a moral image of God, had a conscience so delicately adjusted that it would decide instantly what was right and what wrong. His difficulty, as we have already seen, was that he did not fully appreciate the evil or curse or enmity, which was the penalty of wrong-doing.
But, cast off from the fellowship and communion of God, by reason of sin, this law became more and more obliterated; and instead there sprung up an enmity or opposition to the law which they acknowledged as good, but found themselves less and less able and willing to observe. Paul refers to this blotting out of the image and knowledge of God and his law, saying: "When they knew God they glorified him not as God, neither were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." --`Rom. 1:21,28`.
About two thousand years after the fall, and when the original law was well nigh erased, God selected the small nation of Israel, and made covenants with them based on their keeping his law, which being so erased from their hearts, was expressed to them in commandments on tables of stone. But, as God foreknew, the law in stone only re-condemned them; for none could render full obedience except with it written in their hearts, as a part of their very being. They must be constitutionally right, and just, and loving, else they would be constantly warring against themselves and unable to obey perfectly. But that law served to give them an idea of their need of divine favor, rather than justice;--their need of having their penalty paid, and also of having the law re-written in their hearts.--`Jer. 31:33,34`; `Heb. 8:10`; `10:16`.
Though Satan and sin have done a terribly degrading work in man, putting darkness and error for light and truth, we may still find traces of the original law, in the most degraded of men, the world over. Even savages have some ideas of right and wrong, justice and injustice, however crude. Paul testifies to this also, saying of the heathen: "These having not the [written] law are a law unto themselves, which show the work [some evidence] of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness."-- `Rom. 2:14,15`.
It is because this law has been so nearly blotted out of the once perfect human nature, that it will require so long to restore it to perfection. This law must gradually be again interwoven into human nature before it will again be an image of God, and at one with him. When so restored to God's image, all doubts as to what is right and what is wrong, and all preference for the wrong will be at an end. With his whole nature right, the law of God written all over him, as the law of his being, man will be prepared to do right--not from fear, nor for reward, nor because some one would see or some one would not see, but because right is right-- the very same motive of righteousness and justice which governs all of our Maker's actions.
Then, God and men will be entirely at one--in perfect harmony.* Then, it will be seen that God's laws are only blessings; that they are the only prevention of sin, the source of misery. When God and his creatures are thus made entirely at one, the at-one-ment will he complete, and then Christ the Mediator who died to redeem, and reigned to restore men to God, will "deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father." (`1 Cor. 15:24`.) All enmity and curse will have been destroyed; the enmity (opposition) of God's law having been cancelled, and man's enmity to the law removed by a restitution to original perfection, the image of God.
In harmony with this is another Scriptural statement: "If while we were enemies we were reconciled to God [the opposition and curse of his violated law being lifted] by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be SAVED by his life;" i.e., brought back into that condition of perfection and harmony with God and His law, where we will be no longer condemned but approved. (`Rom. 5:10`.) This is another brief statement of the same glorious truth by the Apostle. When the work of Christ is fully accomplished, "Then there shall be no more curse;" "for the former things" [the evil incurred through Adam's transgression] will have passed away (`Rev. 22:3`; `21:4`), being put away legally by the sacrifice of Christ, and put away in fact by his glorious reign. "Behold the Lamb of God that TAKETH AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD," for "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."
*We here deal with the great mass of the world and purposely omit mention of two comparatively small classes--the church selected in the Gospel age, and the finally impenitent of the Millennial age. (`Acts 15:14`; `Matt. 25:46`.) Because previously mentioned, it is unnecessary to interrupt the statement of the general plan as it relates to the great mass of mankind.
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PEACE IN TRIBULATION.
"Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide, keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom; for the son dishonoreth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: My God will hear me."-- `Micah 7:5-7`.
The beloved and faithful Apostle Paul wisely counseled the church, saying--"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (`Rom. 12:18`.) But in the outset he plainly admits that it may not always be possible; and we are taught that to maintain peace under some conditions would be wrong. Paul shows plainly the character of the effort we should make for peace,--that we should cultivate a loving, affectionate disposition toward others, in honor preferring one another; not slothfully casting our cares on others, but diligently bearing our own burdens to the full extent of our ability; providing things honest in the sight of all men for ourselves and those dependent upon us, and kindly sympathizing with and helping to bear the burdens of others who are overburdened; putting away vanity and self-conceit;
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not minding high things, but condescending to men of low estate; and if rewarded with evil, overcoming the evil with good--if it be possible.
And yet, strange to say, it is not always possible to secure peace with those about us, even with the most careful manifestation of such a disposition. Peace on such terms is secured with all those who love righteousness, truth, and fair dealing; but it is not so secured with others. With the world in general, peace and harmony is only secured by lowering your principles of truth and righteousness to conform to their ideas. Many do this in whole or in part, and verily they have their reward; for "the world will love its own." But those who closely adhere to the principles of Christ and faithfully carry them out, must not expect to have peace with the world--"In the world ye shall have tribulation;" "They that will live Godly shall suffer persecution." It is not possible in this age to have it otherwise. The apostles found it so, and so did the Lord. And he said for our encouragement, "If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you....The servant is not greater than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
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If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. But now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass that the word might be fulfilled that is written, --They hated me without a cause."
If after the same manner, we find persecution instead of peace in the world, we should not think strange of it, or change our course of action, but should follow on in our Leader's footsteps, letting our light shine in words and deeds of no uncertain sound, however severely they reprove the works of darkness, and bring hatred and persecution from those who love darkness rather than light. If the Lord and the apostles and all the faithful saints had just kept quiet and said nothing about the truth,--the kingdom to come, and the overthrow of present evil powers civil and religious, in order to its establishment; if they had flattered, approved, and worked in harmony with the Chief-priests and rulers of the synagogues, and conformed to the ideas of the masses of professed religious people; if they had just let them alone to work out their own plans and ideas without interference, doubtless they could have lived at peace with all men and had no persecution. And just as surely as we let the world and worldly religious systems, etc., alone, to do their own will, without warning or remonstrance against their evil character, and erroneous teaching, we also will escape persecution and live at peace with the world. But as surely as the Lord did not do it, we must not do it; unless we are willing to turn aside from the narrow way and to give up the prize of our high calling.
Although the Prophet had foretold that Messiah should be the Prince of Peace, yet when Messiah came, he said in almost the same words as the Prophet above quoted, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household."--`Matt. 10:34-36`.
Though this has been true in a measure during the entire age, it is specially true in the harvest or end of the age, when the sickle of truth is doing its work of separation; for in the time of harvest, not only are Christians to be separated from the world, and wheat from tares (the true from the false), but the ripe wheat is also to be separated from the unripe. And so it will probably be true of the faithful now, as it was true of our Lord, that they shall be left alone. He said even to his disciples, "Behold the hour cometh, ...that ye shall be scattered every man to his own, and shall leave me alone."-- `John 16:32`.
When our Lord first started in his ministry he was glorified (honored) of all (`Luke 4:15`), and men "wondered at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth;" yet faithfulness to the truth quickly aroused hatred and opposition. Very soon the great ones in the church began to oppose him bitterly; but still many of the common people heard him gladly. And it seems that persecution from his earthly kindred was not lacking in his case, and that he was unwelcome in the home of his childhood; for he said, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." (`Matt. 8:20`.) His brethren did not believe on him, and seemed ashamed of the unpopular notoriety which his course brought upon them as a family. And though Jesus walked no more in Jewry [Judea] because the Jews there sought to kill him, his brethren urged him to go, notwithstanding the danger, and do some of his mighty works there. But Jesus replied to them, "My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth [and they seek my life] because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come"--neither the time for manifesting his power to the world, nor to lay down his life as a sacrifice. (`John 7`.) His mother was doubtless always in sympathy with him, though she could not fully understand him and with a true mother's love, as well as the love of a disciple, she shared his reproach and followed him to Calvary and the tomb.
But while the world, and the nominal church, and they of his own house, were arrayed in opposition to the Lord, he turned to his disciples and said, "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? He that doeth the will of my Father, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (`Matt. 12:50`.) And yet the hour came when even these were scattered, and he was left alone. The persecution became so severe that they all fled.
And so it will probably be in the end of this age with the body of Christ. The separation must come closer and closer; friend after friend will depart; and foes will become more numerous and bitter in their opposition, until the reproach will rest so heavily upon the faithful, that all not like-minded will depart and leave them alone--alone in their fearless defence of the truth, alone in their bold declarations of the presence of Messiah and the setting up of his kingdom which shall overturn and destroy all opposing powers; and alone in bearing whatever of reproach or persecution such a course may bring.
If such is to be the stormy pathway of the saints in this day of harvest separation, how necessary is the counsel of the Prophet at the head of this article-- "Trust ye not in a friend; put ye not confidence in a guide, etc." To trust in and take counsel of former friends, however dear, with reference to our present course of action, is dangerous. Unless they join us in the same narrow way of sacrifice, we must generally keep our thoughts and purposes to ourselves, with a resolute determination to accomplish our Father's will at any cost; for their very love for us will often cause them to bitterly oppose us. And in the end even that love will sometimes turn to hatred.
We may not put confidence now in former guides however much we had esteemed and reverenced them--whether they were the ministers of the nominal church, or parents, or husbands, or Christians of considerable advancement, highly esteemed for their work's sake. None of these must be looked to as guides now; for the tests are now being applied to all. --Every man's work is being and shall be yet more thoroughly tested--so as by fire --and only those who can stand the tests themselves can be helpful to others. And even the wife (or husband) who hitherto shared your joys and sorrows, and entered into all your plans, will not now be able to sympathize with, or comfort, or help you in this way, unless of the same consecrated class. Hence the counsel of the Prophet, "Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom." If not of the fully consecrated class, she cannot understand or appreciate the prize for which you run. She can see only the thorns in your way, and her share in bearing some of the reproach with you, and her efforts will, in kindness to you and in the desire to reach her own ambitions, etc., be directed toward dissuading you from your course.
To whom then shall we look? Must we walk the thorny path-way alone--with foes and dangers all about us? If we should, as individuals, be left entirely alone, so far as human sympathy is concerned, we should be willing; for the disciple is not greater than his Lord, and he was left alone; yet not alone as he said, "because the Father is with me." But we are not, and probably shall not be so alone as he was; for other members of the body are now in existence, and their hearts are one in love and sympathy. The Prophet speaking for this class directs us where to look for help, for comfort and consolation, saying, "Therefore [though all other helps and comforts fail] I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: My God will hear me."
This must be the attitude of the saints. They must look to the Lord--through his Word--to learn his will, his plan, and the part he would have them take in the execution of that plan, and then go about their Father's business with an eye single to his glory, taking comfort and rejoicing in his words of encouragement, and his exceeding great and precious promises. In him, through his Word, we must find our friend, our comforter and guide. But we must wait patiently for the grand outworking
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of his plan--Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him. Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday.--`Psa. 37:5-7`.
During all this time of patient waiting under affliction we rejoice in the full assurance that God is causing all things to so work together as, in his own best time, to establish universal peace on a sure and permanent basis. But before that peace, must come the lash, the tumult, and the storm. Before Christ can reign as "Prince of Peace," he must rule with the rod of iron, subduing all things unto himself and establishing his own righteous authority. Peace on any other basis than that of righteousness is not a proper peace, nor is it the peace which God wants. In its very nature such a peace cannot last, and while it lasts it is injurious.
If a parent would have peace in the home circle, it should be established on the recognition in the family of the righteous principle of parental authority over children who have not attained their majority, and respectful consideration for their wise and loving counsel from those who have come to that age. If the adult child would live at peace under the paternal roof, it should be on his part with a cheerful concession of the rights and privileges of every other member of the family, and a careful attention to filial and fraternal duties; and with the recognition on the part of parents and brothers and sisters of the righteous principles of his individual rights, and liberty of conscience, to serve God and his fellow-men, or himself, or them, according to the dictates of his conscience. When we were children, we were wisely placed by God under parental authority, but when we become men, we are subject to God only, though he directs that we still be subject to the civil powers that be, as long as he permits them. If we would have peace with our neighbors, it should also be with a recognition on the part of each of the natural and inalienable rights of each other as individuals, and a proper respect and regard for those rights, whether esteemed as wise or unwise. To seek peace on any other ground is merely to cry, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace."
If we are saints, our individual liberties and right will not only be exercised in the interests of peace, but for that lasting peace which is founded on the firm principles of righteousness--the recognition of God as the rightful sovereign of earth; and of the common brotherhood and equal rights of all men. And while we boldly assert these principles, and rule ourselves and those under our authority and care accordingly, we must wait patiently for the grand result.
The Prophet adds another word of encouragement saying, "Rejoice not against me O mine enemy: when I fall I shall arise; when I sit in darkness the Lord shall be a light unto me." (`Micah 7:8`.) How like our Lord's expression, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of;" and Paul's triumph in affliction, and rejoicing under persecution. However dark our way may grow, the Lord will always be our light if we walk in close harmony with him. And though we fall in death, our power and strength will be renewed, and glory, honor and immortality will be granted when we rise in the likeness of our Lord, as his bride and joint-heir, to carry on to completion the grand work of establishing peace on earth and good will among men.
But let us not forget our Lord's words --"A man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me."-- `Matt. 10:36-38`.
There is still another thought to which we would call attention before leaving the subject. It is that precious promise recorded by the Prophet `Isaiah (26:3`), "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."
Well says one, I do not see how this can be true in view of the scriptures above quoted. It seems to me the Christian's experience if he is faithful, is very far from peaceful. Look at Paul and all the martyred saints of the past: and look at the Lord's sufferings.
True, from the world's standpoint, such experiences look to be far from peaceful; but if it were not for the deep under current, the gentle steady flow of communion and harmony with God, the Christian character could not stand amid the surging billows that disturb the surface. Like an iceburg, towed by a powerful under current, the Christian is upheld and borne onward by the strong under current of peaceful communion with God, and thus moves grandly on in opposition to the counter-surface-currents, steady and tranquil even in the midst of the wildest storms. Men of the world look on and wonder because they know nothing of this grand, silent motive power.
The mind thus stayed on God is kept in perfect peace even in the midst of persecution, just as the depth of ocean is calm and quiet while the surface is lashed with storm and tempest. Peace is not enthusiastic, ecstatic joy, but real joy can never be experienced without the firm foundation of peace. Peace is calm, quiet, restful tranquillity. When our Lord said to the raging winds and waves, "Peace be still," "there was a great calm." The sun may or may not have shone out brightly, but no matter, the peace, the calm quiet rest, had come.
It is not continuous, delightful, ecstatic joy, that is promised to the Christian, but this calm, quiet, restfulness, which comes from acquaintance with God and his great
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plan of salvation, and implicit confidence in his love, and power, and wisdom, which in due time will cause all things to work together for the accomplishment of his grand designs. You may be troubled on every side, but you will not be in distress; you may be greatly perplexed, but you will not be in despair, unless you throw away your confidence in God, and cease to consider and meditate upon his word.
Those who abide in him by faith, will never know the feeling of despair. They may see every earthly tie severed, and realize to the full that in following Christ, their bitterest foes are those of their own household, and those whom they once regarded as members of the household of faith; yea, they may realize the loss of all things earthly, yet their peace will never be disturbed, if their minds are stayed on God, trusting in the sure outworking of his marvelous plan, and patiently awaiting and working in harmony with him for its development. MRS. C. T. R.
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am glad to tell you that I am still resting my hope on the finished work of my Redeemer, his unchanging love, and his all sufficient grace. Although of late my pathway has not been strewn with roses, neither my pillow a very downy one, nevertheless I realize the everlasting arms of God's unchanging love are entwined around me bearing me up, amid the varied trials and conflicts which are but for a moment, but working out a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory; for if we suffer with him, we shall also reign with him.
And thus we can sing with the poet,
"He helped his Saints in Ancient days,
Who trusted in his name;
And we can witness to his praise,
His love is still the same.
"His presence sweetens all our cares,
And makes our burdens light;
A Word from Him dispels our fears,
And gilds the gloom of night."
Blessed be his holy name! With best love to you and Sister Russell and all the faithful ones, I remain your brother in the blessed hope, I. W. M__________.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your highly prized letter came duly to hand. It was to our hearts as a refreshing shower upon a parched land. I read it over several times myself, and then read it to those who were expelled with me from Babylon, for the testimony of Jesus. It revived them also very much. I would like to meet and serve them oftener, but I am busy teaching and cannot do so. When my school closes I can meet them oftener, and give more time to selling DAWNS.
I was a local preacher in Babylon, but now the doors are closed against me; so that I have not had opportunity to preach until lately. I will soon send for another supply of Dawns.
Your Brother in Christ, F. M__________.
DEAR BROTHER:--Please send me 1000 Arp Slips. I find it is a good plan to leave them in the seats in the R.R. depots. I notice the passengers read them carefully, and fold them up and put them in their pockets, which shows, I think, that they are interested. Yours in the service.
L. A. P__________.
BRO. RUSSELL:--I think my subscription expires about now, and I therefore enclose a postal note for its renewal. It is now five years that I have been taking the WATCH TOWER, and so faithfully and truthfully and inspiringly has it watched for and proclaimed the signs of that unspeakably grand and glorious Millennial day, now so near at hand, that I cannot well do without it. It opens up the Scriptures so fully and harmoniously that it has become my companion, continually pointing me to and aiding me along, the journey of the "narrow way."
God bless you. G. W. D__________.
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DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--There are six of us here, and we belong to what is known as the Second Advent Church. We want to know if this is right. Do you have any fellowship with the Second Adventists? We have been baptized by Baptist ministers, but we did not then have the truth as we now see it. Do you think we ought to be baptized again? It makes our hearts glad to read the letters from the dear brethren of like precious faith. The Advent preachers publicly denounce you as a dangerous heretic; though they teach a good deal of the gospel. We hope you will answer this letter, publicly or privately.
May our Father greatly bless you, and all of like precious faith. J. P. B__________.
[DEAR BRETHREN:--We are glad to know that you are growing in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. This is right. Let the good work go on. Never do as many have done--stop, and conclude that you have all the truth and can make no further progress.
In the matter of baptism: As you probably saw by the May TOWER, the real Baptism was your consecration. This had a definite time, no doubt, of beginning and it is not yet ended. The dying process must continue daily until literal death shall finish it. The water immersion, by which you outwardly manifested your consecration, should come after consecration, but not necessarily after a full knowledge of the divine plan. God gives the knowledge of his plan to us because we have consecrated, and not before we consecrate. So then I say that the matter of your immersion having preceded your full knowledge, is the right order, from God's standpoint; and if to you immersion implied consecration, then you have as valid (symbolic or water) immersion as any could have; provided of course, that you were believers in the Lord Jesus, as your Redeemer, beforehand.
In the matter of worshiping with the Second Adventists:--The principle is just the same as with any other denomination. They have perhaps two advantages over some others, viz., they hold some truths more than others, and they are generally poor and unpretentious. And they have some disadvantages over others: They are generally conceited, and so filled with the one doctrine of the non-immortality of man, that they have no room for anything else, and, still worse, have little taste for other truths. They have the disadvantage of false expectations concerning both the manner and object of
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the Lord's second coming, though like the Jews at the first advent, they are so sure that they know it all, that they will not study further.
The same rule should guide you in dealing with them as with others. If you are perfectly free to meet with them as God's children, without being hindered from talking, both in meeting and privately, of all the truth which God gives you, then you can feel perfectly free to go among them and let your light shine.
If you cannot be thus free, you of course cannot think of being among them on any other terms. And even if you have this freedom among them, it becomes then necessary for you to judge of whether your time thus spent is being used to the best advantage; whether you are getting good, growing in grace and knowledge and love yourselves, or helping others so to grow. If you conclude that to be among them is purely a waste of time, or that you can accomplish more good by spending the same time either in study at home, or with one or two, or in visiting and conversing about the truth with neighbors or friends, then it becomes your duty to do that which will most glorify God and most profit yourselves and others. Thus with these suggestions as to the Lord's will, your course is for your own decision.
Praying for your welfare, I trust that you will be faithful and let your light so shine as to glorify our Father.--EDITOR.]
DEAR SIR:--I am much in love with Millennial Dawn and Z.W.T., though I cannot get time to read them as much as I should like to. I have other duties that seem to take nearly all my time. I keep those Arp tracts on my show case, and give to any that I think will read them. I have quite a curiosity to know by what name your church is called. Some say, Do not be too fast now, perhaps they are Adventists or Latter Day Saints. Well I don't know by what church name you go, but I believe you are going and not standing still; and that you are not dead, while you profess to be alive.
I do enjoy conversing with living Christians, and reading the writings of those who do feel the spirit's influence while their pen is moving on to honor God and battle for the right. When I read DAWN and the WATCH TOWER, I cannot but feel that the doctrine is true. The July TOWER interested me greatly. Bless God for this food for my soul. There is so little to be had in the church now. I send you $1.00 for four more M. DAWNS,--I have sold two more. My own copy is out on a mission of good. Yours in Christ. MRS. E. J. L__________.
[DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST:--We are glad to know that the truth has found you, and that you are being fed by it.
You seem to have nearly the right idea about what should be "the path of the just ...shining more and more unto the perfect day." We are going on. Thank God we have no disposition to go back to the world, nor to sectarianism, nor to darkness, but to go onward to the perfect day. As Paul expresses it, we press along the line towards the prize of our high calling of God by Christ Jesus.--`Phil. 3:14`. --Diaglott. We do not separate ourselves from other Christians by taking any distinctive or peculiar name. We are satisfied with the name, Christian, by which the early saints were known. We recognize as brethren all who own our Redeemer and his work, and who are consecrated to his service. The Lord bless you; go on.--EDITOR.]
"The path before shines more and more
As we near the golden city."
Sumter Co., S.C.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--I am still selling DAWNS whenever I have an opportunity. I have only sold about forty, as I have very little time to spare. I have an afflicted family dependent on me.
I have never seen a book to sell as Dawn does. I never have any trouble to sell it whenever I have an opportunity to show it. I rode across the country about fifteen miles a few days ago and took a few Dawns with me; I sold them all and could have sold many more if I had had them along. One Methodist young man told me he had read Arp's comments, and shed tears when he read it; he was very glad to purchase a book and said he could not believe the doctrines taught by the nominal church--of almost universal damnation, and everlasting torment. I meet many who express the same sentiments.
I could sell hundreds if I could travel with it. I hope to be able to spare more time in the work soon; for as in the Jewish harvest, so now, "the harvest is great but the laborers are few."
May our Heavenly Father bless you in spreading the good tidings. Yours in fellowship. J. A. G__________.
[We feel to urge this Brother, and others thus situated, that they hereafter give all their strength and time to this, in one way the most successful method of preaching the truth; and that they do not hesitate to avail themselves of the allowance made from the TRACT FUND for their expenses. Do not feel that thus you are robbing the Lord's cause; for this TRACT FUND is supplied by the voluntary donations of dear Brethren and Sisters anxious to have a share with you in the work, but so situated that they are debarred from the more active and public service of the truth.--EDITOR.]
DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER:--I have returned home after an absence of several days, and a long tiresome walk over a sparsely settled country seeking to spread the truth by selling Millennial Dawn.
I enclose $6.50 to pay for forty copies of Millennial Dawn, (less ten cents expense allowance), and a years subscription for the WATCH TOWER. We have been very busy farming; and as help is hard to get, and wages high, I have not done as much as I would have liked to do in the spiritual harvest field. I have thought it might be a good plan to have a horse, and be supplied with a large number of Dawns, ready to give them out when canvassing. It is much more easy to sell in the country than in the cities, in this section at least. Please send the books at once. I want to contribute as soon as I can to the Tract Fund. Yours fraternally. I. S__________.
DEAR TOWER:--I am feasting and praising. Ah! the dear Lord Jesus. How glad we are to help glorify Him. "Hallelujah what a Savior!" J__________.