ZWT - 1895 - R1794 thru R1910 / R1793 (077) - April 1, 1895
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VOL. XVI. APRIL 1, 1895. No. 7.
Special Items--Allegheny Meetings................. 78
Serving the Emblems........................... 78
Views from the Tower--............................ 79
Religious Views............................... 79
The Social View............................... 81
Theologians Becoming Rationalists................. 81
How are the Mighty Fallen......................... 83
Bible Study: Our Lord's Typical Triumph........... 85
Bible Study: The Wicked Husbandmen................ 86
Bible Study: Watchfulness......................... 87
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THE MEMORIAL SUPPER.
Our advice that the little groups meet as usual for this celebration on the evening of April 7th (see last issue) and that there be not a deserting of the home meeting to attend larger gatherings, was not from any lack of cordiality toward all. Solitary ones, deprived of fellowship and meetings, who may find it convenient to meet and celebrate with us, will be very warmly welcomed.
SPECIAL HOURS FOR ALLEGHENY CHURCH SERVICES ON SUNDAY, APRIL 7TH.
BIBLE HOUSE CHAPEL, 58 ARCH ST.
Preaching service at 10.30 A.M. to be followed by a baptism service, and that by a German service.
At 7 P.M. a Prayer and Testimony meeting of which the central thought shall be the Apostle's words, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified."--`1 Cor. 2:2`.
At 8 P.M., after explanatory remarks and prayer, the Memorials of our Lord's body and blood will be served.
The afternoon is recommended to be used for personal and private meditation upon the great transactions which closed our Lord's ministry, and led up to the all-important finishing event, his death, by which our ransom was secured. And let us not neglect to make it a time of self-examination, as well as of communion with our Lord in the spirit of prayer. "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation," said our Master on this occasion; and experience has repeatedly proved that at this season every year God permits Satan to specially sift the wheat. (`Luke 22:31,32`.) Let us not only avail ourselves of the great Mediator's aid (`Heb. 7:25`), but also seek to be so filled with his spirit that in the sifting we may be able to come off conquerors, through him that loved us and bought us with his own precious blood.
In coming to the evening meeting we suggest that each seek to continue the meditation and avoid general conversation.
All who trust in the precious blood of Calvary, and who are fully consecrated to the Lord, will be cordially welcome.
AS TO SERVING THE MEMORIAL EMBLEMS.
A Brother writes, inquiring for an appropriate order of service in connection with the celebration of the Memorial Supper, and, as the subject may be of interest to many, we publish a portion of our reply, as follows:--
After opening the meeting, let as competent a one as is present give a little talk upon the import of the ordinance and then on the emblems, beginning with the bread and what it symbolizes--informally, and just as lengthily or briefly as circumstances indicate, endeavoring to set forth the real meaning of what is done. Follow with the remark that the Lord, in instituting the Memorial, first gave thanks; then either return thanks yourself or ask some one else present to do so. Then follow with some such expression as the following,--After having eaten the Passover Supper, the typical lamb, our Lord "took bread, and blessed it, and break it, and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." Suiting the action to the word, break a piece of the bread (preferably "unleavened bread" purchased from Hebrews, or else soda-biscuits, which are unleavened), and hand it to those who will serve it, or serve it yourself, according to the size of the company.
It is generally well, we think, to have a little interim of silence for meditation--a few moments. Then let some one give thanks for that which the cup emblemizes. Then say, "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is the blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (We advise, as preferable, either grape juice or a mixture of the latter with a very little wine and sugar,--so little that the flavor of the alcohol cannot be detected--as a safeguard for any who may have had in the past a craving for liquors.) After passing this emblem, again leave a little space for silent reflection, and then say: It is written, "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out." Let us do likewise,--in thought following the course of the Lord during that eventful night in the Garden of Gethsemane, the prayer with the disciples and admonishing them to watch and pray, the betrayal, arrest, trial, crucifixion, etc.
Sometimes it may be found profitable, instead of speaking, to read from the WATCH TOWER--Mar. '91, page 36; March 15, '95, page 71.
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VIEWS FROM THE TOWER.
EVEN in this day of rapid changes on every subject the changes on religious subjects constantly cause surprise. The secular press properly recounts as sensations the novel methods by which so-called ministers of the gospel and ambassadors for Christ are seeking to draw men after themselves by "tickling" their itching ears. One clergyman recently preached a bicycle gospel and illustrated it by using a bicycle in the pulpit. Another introduced a quotation from one of Shakespeare's plays and acted the part of Richard III. by falling as if dead upon the pulpit platform, as do theatrical professionals. Another has startled and almost magnetized, not only his congregation, but also the worldly of his city by declaring that dancing, card-playing, billiards and theater-going are not only not great sins, but positively virtues to be pursued as elements of Christian happiness. He said, "The Bible does not say that men and women are not to enjoy to the full the pleasures of the world. They are intended for the Christian." "Satan...in all his craftiness comes to us and says, 'If you become a follower of Christ, you must give up these pleasures'--to keep lovers of pleasure from joining churches." This Presbyterian minister wanted to build up a large membership, a healthy looking church from the worldly point of view, and was letting down the bars to get more goats into the flock. Indeed, we may presume that the goats already so outnumbered the sheep that the few true sheep of Christ were oddities--"peculiar people," and that nice goats had become the standard with this shepherd. Such conduct and teaching draws some, but will arouse and repel others;--those of whom the Great Teacher said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me....And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." --`John 10:27,5`.
The true sheep hear the shepherd's voice, saying, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." "As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "Now the just shall live by faith [not according to the course of this world, but contrary to it]; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." "Whatsoever is begotten of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." "Men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. [At this] rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven." "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."--`2 Tim. 3:12`; `Matt. 5:11,12`; `7:14`; `16:24`; `1 John 2:15`; `Rom. 8:14`; `Heb. 10:38,39`; `1 John 5:4`.
The Lord's course is said to be an example for his true followers, who are exhorted to follow him, to "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth and to "walk in his footsteps, as he hath set us an example." How much of his time was spent in self-indulgent pleasure-seeking, in attending theatricals, playing billiards, etc.? Only so much as we find in his life, are we to copy. But so surely as being a true Christian means anything, it means to walk not according to the course of this world, but to be renewed by the transforming of our minds to the good, acceptable and perfect will of God, illustrated in the Lord Jesus Christ,-- so surely as it means self-sacrifice and full consecration to the Lord, it means also the avoidance of even foolish talking
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and jesting, and the laying aside of all weights and hindrances which would impede us in our race for the prize set before us in the gospel.--`Eph. 5:4`; `Heb. 12:1`.
Another well meaning but much mistaken man, Bishop Fallows, has started what he terms the first "Home Saloon," in Chicago. In it he sells imitation beer, flavored like the genuine with hops, but devoid of alcohol. To make it as much as possible like a regular "devil trap" is his aim; so it supplies free lunch, billiard tables, games and cigars, and adds, we believe, hot coffee.
Two ministers in New York City (Rev. Drs. Rainsford and Rylance) have gone still farther, and on March 14th addressed a mass meeting favoring the permitting of saloon-keepers to open their saloons on Sundays--before and after the usual morning church service hour.
What is the meaning of all this? There is but one answer. It is--False doctrine; a false conception of the true situation, and a consequent fumbling in the dark. The teaching of the Lord and the Apostles, that the object of the gospel is to select or elect a "little flock" of saints, who, when tried and made white, will, with their Lord and Redeemer, constitute the "holy nation" and heavenly Kingdom, which, during the Millennium, as the promised "seed of Abraham" (`Gal. 3:16,29`) and "royal priesthood," shall bless all the families of the earth with the clear knowledge of the truth, and grant to all the world the trial for life made possible by Christ's redemptive sacrifice--this gospel has been lost to sight; and, instead, the view is held (contrary to all the evidences), that all men are now on trial for eternal life or death.
With such wrong views, no wonder ministers leave off attempting the "perfecting of the saints for the [present and
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future] work of ministry" (`Eph. 4:12`), and instead try to clean up the world, the flesh and the devil a bit. To these, the preaching of a "narrow way" that few find seems inconsistent, because they have imbibed the erroneous idea that all who do not find the "narrow way" will never find any way to life. They do not see that after the experiences of the present "narrow way" of this Gospel age of the Church's trial has sifted and separated from among men, and polished and prepared through self-denial the heirs of glory who are to be joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord --then will come the world's trial under more favorable conditions, but for a lesser glory and honor; that then, instead of the present narrow way, the grand highway of Isaiah's prophecy (`Isa. 35:8`) will be opened up, on which every facility will be offered to every member of the redeemed race to accept the New Covenant and under its gracious provisions have life everlasting.
On Sunday, March 3, Cardinal Gibbons preached a discourse on the Bible, in which he complimented it as the book above all others and the treasury of the heavenly science. He commended it to all Roman Catholics, clergy and laity alike. Our object in mentioning this is to point out the great change of policy in the Church of Rome on this subject. We say policy, not principle, for the principles of that institution never change, though its policy is always adapted to its own evil ends with a shrewd reference to circumstances and conditions. It is only a few years since Roman Catholics, by the Council of Baltimore, were given permission to read the Bible. It is only about twenty-two years since Bibles were openly burned by priestly orders in Spain, and only a little while, a couple of centuries, since men and women were by them hunted to death and burned at the stake for having and reading that Book of books which the Cardinal now commends.
We would be glad to think that real reform is taking place, and that Roman Catholics are learning to love that which once they hated and persecuted; but the light of history forbids such a conclusion. The experiences of past centuries should and do teach us that Rome's conduct has always been marked out by policy. And so we believe it is now; she is working another policy for her own aggrandizement.
What will she gain, and what could she lose, by outwardly making friends with the Bible?
She may gain much; she expects to lose nothing. She sees the trend of Protestant teachings toward "higher criticism" --infidelity. She knows from experience that the masses of the people are conservative, and will by and by shrink back from so ultra a position;--and meantime she is favoring Christian union, adopting the Bible, etc., and when the time shall come, which will be soon, for a revulsion of sentiment, she expects that the masses of Protestants will recognize her as the one safe hiding-place.
Besides, she may well reason that, if Methodists, Presbyterians and others can read the Bible, and yet each hold as firmly as ever to his sectarianism, so can and will Roman Catholics cleave to the traditions of their system, no matter what they find in the Bible when they read it. Alas! how true the reasoning, how safe the power of priestcraft, and how little likely it is to lose its hold upon the laity!
Here is an illustration of another class of Protestants. While the "great teachers" are becoming "higher criticism" infidels, and those of the laity who will think for themselves are becoming skeptical, another class, calling themselves "Holiness people," are discarding the Bible in another way,--claiming that their own minds are superior guides without the divine revelation. Note the following extract from the Galt Daily Reformer:--
"Simcoe, Canada, March 8.--The 16th annual convention of the Canada Holiness Association convened yesterday afternoon. The convention was opened by singing and prayer by the president, Rev. N. Burns, B.A., of Toronto. Mr. Burns in his remarks alluded to the distinctive mission of the Association, which was to teach and practice that each individual could know from God what is truth for himself, personally, independent of tradition, or even the Bible. Vice-President Dickenson and Mrs. Truax spoke along similar lines."
Alas! how evidently the great enemy is leading God's professed people captive, some in one direction and some
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in another; some blinded in one way and some in another. "When the Son of Man cometh shall he find the faith on the earth?" Only with a "remnant," as in the end of the Jewish age.
The following cablegram explains itself:--
"London, March 23.--The interview between Viscount Halifax, President of the English Church Union, and the Pope yesterday is regarded in Roman Catholic circles here as really of great importance and significant of the enormous strides the Catholic Church has made recently in England. In a recent cable letter The Dispatch correspondent noted the number of English clergy who have taken orders in the Roman Church during the last two years. The mere fact of Lord Halifax's visit would have raised a storm in the English Church a few years ago, but it hardly excites comment in to-day's newspapers.
"The Church Union has in its membership 3,000 of the Anglican clergy and 30 bishops. Lord Halifax is reported as asking the Pope to send 'a tender and gracious message to the Anglicans in the forthcoming encyclical.' On what ground and with what purpose is not explained."
In a fourteen-column article in the Church Times, Lord Halifax recently advocated church re-union. He expressed the opinion that--
"The Pope desires nothing so much as to take the first steps for the reunion of the Church, and by means of a reunited Christendom to find the solution for the political, social, and religious difficulties of the time. Surely, it is our duty to do our utmost to further such wishes. Surely there was never a period in the history of Christendom when there was a more favorable opportunity for the realization of such desires."
THE SOCIAL VIEW.
The announcement of the Czar of Russia, that he will uphold aristocracy as ardently as did his father, greatly disappointed the hopes of those who looked for him to favor Republican institutions in Russia. However, he is showing his interest in the general welfare by arrangements for compulsory education and free schools.
"Speaking recently at a banquet, the Pope's delegate, Mgr. Satolli, concluded by saying that the opinion was certainly growing that we were nearing a most critical point in history, and that in this country, especially, great problems would soon demand positive solution. All the horrors of a social revolution were predicted by men as renowned for accurate and calm thinking as Prof. Goldwin Smith and Prof. VonHolst. The Apostolic Delegate held, with a recent magazine writer, that the Catholic Church alone held the true solution of the terrible problem, which lies on the threshold of the twentieth century, and that it belongs to the Pope alone to pronounce a social pax vobiscum."
"General Booth, of the Salvation Army, a close observer of men and things, expressed himself as follows to a reporter of the Toronto News, when asked respecting a prophecy made by him since his arrival in Canada to the effect that the 19th century would close with greater horrors than did the preceding century:--
"Any one who knows the world and society, and hears the rumblings of discontent, if he is not blind, can easily see and forecast serious results. The masses are dissatisfied, and they are determined that their wrongs shall be righted. They have been gaining power to this end for many years by extending the franchise, and unless Governments, and those who control affairs, can bring about harmonious relations amongst all classes, there will be an outburst such as the world has never known."
All men are coming to see what our readers have for fifteen years been viewing from the Watch Tower of Zion through the telescope of God's Word. And now, as showing men the futility of hope in their own efforts for the relief needed, the world is witnessing the general disintegration of labor unions. A labor paper, the Chicago Dispatch, says:
"The labor union is rent by internal dissensions and bickerings, and unless the hard feeling engendered during the past six months is eradicated the hopes of the workingmen in the battles to be fought this spring are small indeed. ...Ninety-nine per cent of the quarrels and splits in the labor movement are caused by the failure of ambitious men, totally incompetent to be elected to office. These, with the assistance of the disorganizers, have been doing their work well."
The effect will be a general discouragement for a time, in which hope will be smothered; until finally, the pressure becoming too general, as well as too heavy, the explosion and disruption mentioned by General Booth and the Pope, but long ago predicted by the Lord, will come to pass.-- `Dan. 12:1`; `Jas. 5:1-4`; `Zeph. 3:8,9`; `Matt. 24:21,22`.
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THEOLOGIANS BECOMING RATIONALISTS.
DR. Lyman Abbott's paper in a recent issue says:--
"One of the most significant signs of the times is the change of attitude among scientists toward religious questions. Those who keep pace with scientific thought, and are familiar with the atmosphere and spirit of scientific investigation in the universities abroad, have been struck by the radical change which has taken place in the last twenty years. What now strikes one in the attitude and spirit of a great many scientific men is a spirit of reverence toward the religious side of life."
While we agree that it is a fact, that the leading scientists and the leading theologians have come into closer sympathy of thought within the last twenty years, we account for this in a totally different manner. We hold that it is the theologians, and not the scientists, that have changed their base and made warfare between the two no longer reasonable.
If these theories of Professors Darwin and Huxley have been changed within the last twenty years, we know nothing of the changes. But who is not aware that all the
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theologically great (`Isa. 29:14`) have surrendered to the Darwinian theory, that man was not created in God's image, but had apes for his parents, and is merely one or two evolutionary steps in advance of them? Who is not aware that as fast as Darwin's theory of evolution took hold, it displaced the Bible theory of a fall of mankind into sin and death, and substituted the reverse theory --that man never fell at all, but has been coming grandly upward out of the bad condition in which his ape parents started him, to his present development; and that death, so far from being the penalty of Adamic sin, is really another grand step in evolution into a still higher condition than manhood?
Who does not know that Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Abbott's predecessor in Plymouth church pulpit, was one of the first theologians to surrender to science, and that he publicly said to his congregation, "If Adam fell at all, he fell upward; and if you believe that legend of the Garden of Eden, the eating of an apple, original sin, etc., you have no farther use for my preaching?" Who does not recall Mr. Beecher's public recognition of Robert Ingersoll about the same time?
Who is so blind that he cannot see that the leading theologians have not only rejected the Bible account and accepted the deductions of science, falsely so-called, respecting the origin of man, but that many of the foremost of them, Mr. Abbott among them, have endorsed the so-called "higher criticism" views of Professors Briggs, Smith, Harper and others, which are substantially the views of Paine and Voltaire respecting the Bible--that it is not of divine origin or authority, and that the utterances of its writers are to be generally rejected, although a good thought may here and there be gleaned from the rubbish by the aid of these professors, so very wise and almost infallible in their own eyes?
And yet, knowing all this, one of these gentlemen tells us, as above, that a radical change has taken place in scientific circles, in their attitude toward religion. No wonder that a change has taken place! It would be strange indeed if the scientists would keep up the fight after they have captured their opponents;--and more, after those once opponents have become their strongest allies, astounding them continually with their vigorous attacks on the Bible from the inside,--while still drawing their salaries and holding their titles as Doctors of Divinity. Verily, while the trusted Doctors are administering poison to the trusting patients on the inside, the outside assailants can afford to keep quiet.
In evidence that Dr. Abbott's views have changed, we quote from a Religious Dictionary edited by him and published exactly twenty years ago--in 1875. Therein he says,
"We think that science confirms at every point the great religious teaching of the first chapter of Genesis."-- Page 233.
But the first chapter of Genesis declares not only that God purposed to make man in his own image, but also adds, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." Dr. Abbott now rejects this, the greatest religious teaching of `Genesis 1`, claims that man was not created in God's likeness, did not fall from it and hence needed not to be redeemed nor restored to it; but that, evolved from an ape and in much of the ape's likeness, man has been going up to manhood grandly for six thousand years.
We might here remark that it is because what is true respecting Dr. Abbott's surrender to Infidelity is true also of nearly all prominent ministers in the pulpits of Christendom, that we think worth while to point out these matters so particularly. The poor "sheep" under guidance of such blind guides are following to the ditch of unbelief, as surely as did a similar class, warned by our Lord, at his first advent.--`Matt. 15:14`.
In further evidence that the change has been on the part of the theologians and not on the part of the scientists, we quote again from Dr. Abbott's book, published just twenty years ago (page 792), as follows:--
"The doctrine of Redemption is embodied in the promise with which the angel of the Lord accompanied his prophecy of the birth of Christ: 'Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.' The doctrine of redemption, then, is that the human race have come into bondage to sin and sinful habits and propensities, and at the same time under just condemnation of God's law, because of them [See `Rom. 5:12`]; and that God has sent his Son into the world, not only by his death to atone for their past sins, so that they may be freely forgiven for the past, but also by his present power as a risen Savior, spiritually dwelling in the hearts of his people, to deliver them from the power of sin, and enable them to become followers of him in their lives and conformed to him in their character."
How beautifully and simply the above quotation expresses the truth upon this subject!--man's sin, his just condemnation, the atonement by the death of our Lord as a ransom-sacrifice, the forgiveness and reconciliation thus effected, and the new life in his people fashioned after his as a copy. Alas! that one who so clearly saw the truth should so greatly change in twenty years as to say, as he did on Sunday, March 3rd, as reported in the New York Times:--
"I mean what I say, It was not by his death that Christ saved the world, but by laying down his life for the world. Passion week began when he was baptized."
Here Dr. Abbott distinctly denies the value of our Lord's death as the basis of reconciliation between God and the sinful, fallen race, and claims that it was the three and a half years of our Lord's ministry, his conduct and teaching (and not his death as man's ransom) that saves the world. The Evolution theory led him to this position. Having rejected the doctrine that man was created in God's image and that the race in Adam fell from it into sin and just condemnation, and having accepted the theory that all men have been advancing from apehood toward God's likeness by evolution, he would be compelled by the force of logic to deny that Christ's death redeemed anything or
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atoned for anything; for if the present development of our race is progressive, and according to divine arrangement, the race has no sin to be atoned for or forgiven. But Dr. Abbott and his hearers were not yet ready to cast the Word entirely aside, so he proceeds to endeavor to show that our Lord's work for the race "was not by his DEATH" as a propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins, as the just for the unjust, but by his consecrated living, during the three and a half years following his baptism. We have already pointed out that, as in the case of the Church each consecrated one is reckoned as beginning the sacrifice from the time that he consecrates himself even unto death, so with our Lord and Redeemer, his sacrifice, which ended at Calvary, was begun at his consecration at baptism.* But the entire plan of redemption would have been a failure, and our race would have remained "strangers and foreigners" to God, sinners,--"without God and having no hope" had not his death sealed the New Covenant.
But that Dr. Abbott totally rejects the value of the ransom-price, Christ's death, and holds that merely the good words and deeds of our Lord were all that was needed and all that benefited men, and that his death at Calvary was of no redeeming value, but merely an evidence of his devotion, is clearly shown by other statements, as follows:
"The crucifixion was rendered necessary by the fear and hate of men....If the world had been willing to take Him and follow, the world might have been saved without a drop of blood or a throb of anguish."
It was with these words that this wandering star in the ecclesiastical heavens led a large congregation of professing Christians to the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Because his mind had been poisoned by "science, falsely so-called," and perverted from the simplicity of the doctrines of Christ, "as the serpent beguiled Eve," this once able man becomes a sophist who deludes his flock, so that when they read, "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins," and again, "This is my blood of the New Covenant, shed for many for the remission of sins," they will, under his instruction, conclude the very reverse to be the truth, that his death was not necessary either for the forgiveness of their sins or their reconciliation to God, but merely their acceptance of and obedience to his pattern life.
Every child of God who has gotten awake to the present situation should lift up his voice like a trumpet and call the attention of all the true sheep to the misleading of their blinded shepherds. Tell them that the true Shepherd is calling, "Gather my saints together unto me--those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
*See TABERNACLE SHADOWS, page 43.
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HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN!
WE clip the following, from the New York Times. It is no doubt a faithful report of recent utterances of Dr. Lyman Abbott in the famous Plymouth Church pulpit. How sad to see that a man once so able a defender of the Scriptures and so well informed respecting them is now so blinded as to make the serious misstatements shown below. We discuss the subject because these are general errors into which Christendom as a whole is rushing, blindly following such leaders. We quote:--
"Traditional theology supposed that God made man perfect; but what is meant by perfect, traditional theology does not disclose. The idea of man being created perfect has been carried to such an extent that I know of an instance in which a Methodist minister in Connecticut stated to his congregation that so great was Adam's perfection that he had a knowledge of the telegraph.
"Adam, although perfect from the point of view of traditional theology, fell when he was tempted with an apple, a temptation which even a schoolboy is able to resist.
"Evolution takes a very different view of man and holds that he is the result of a slower process in which his lower physical and his lower moral attributes and conditions have been lifted up to their present higher conditions.
"The doctrine of the fall of man from a state of perfection is not to be found in the Bible outside of the third chapter of Genesis. Christ never refers to Adam's fall. John, Peter, Matthew, Jude and the others never do. St. Paul does so only once, and then mentions it incidentally to illustrate only.
"It is generally asserted and believed that sin came through Adam. It is as universal as humanity, and, therefore, grace came.
"I am not a believer in the perfect man of traditional theology. I am a believer in evolution, and I tell you frankly, that I do not believe in the third chapter of Genesis. I consider it to be a legend of the early writers, which some early poet took up, like the Arthurian legends were taken up, and worked into it a sort of spiritual life, and that as such it has come down to us.
"When Paul came to portray the drama of sin, he had nothing to say about Adam on original sin."
The Lord truly declared through the Prophet (`Isa. 29:14`), "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." The most ignorant member of Mr. Abbott's congregation would not probably have blundered into so foolish and untruthful a statement respecting the teachings of the Scriptures.
Let us search the Scriptures. Let us see whether or not our Lord, Peter, Matthew, John, Jude and Paul knew nothing and wrote nothing concerning the fall of Adam, and "never refer" to it, except St. Paul "only once," and then to "illustrate only."
Mr. Abbott says, "only once," as though he thought that his audience ought to forgive St. Paul for lying just once, as he did it "to illustrate only." But if St. Paul's plain teachings belied the facts just once, for illustration or other purpose, it would be sufficient to shake and break all confidence
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in him as one of those twelve Apostles inspired and infallibly guided in all of their doctrinal utterances by the Holy Spirit, so that we might be sure that in building upon their testimony, we were building upon the foundations of faith which God himself had established.--See `Rev. 21:14`; `Matt. 18:18`; `Eph. 2:19-22`.
OUR LORD AND HIS HOLY PROPHETS AND APOSTLES DID PREACH THE FALL.
First of all we remark that the doctrine of the fall of man in Adam did not require statement, as if it were a new doctrine; for the Jews already believed it, having been instructed therein by Moses and the prophets, whose writings were read "in the synagogues every sabbath day." (`Acts 15:21`; `13:27`.) The fact that our Lord endorsed the teachings of Moses without exception, and declared that not one jot or tittle of the Law could pass away unfulfilled, was quite sufficient endorsement by him of all that Moses wrote in the third chapter of Genesis, as well as in all the other chapters of the Pentateuch. The doctrine that Adam had sinned and fallen from divine favor and that all mankind as his offspring shared naturally in Adam's curse, and, as a result, had all been "born in sin and shapen in iniquity" was the very essence of Jewish belief upon and into which
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were fitted the various typical sacrifices for sins, atonements and washings from uncleanness.
The Prophet David acknowledges the perfection in which man was created, saying, "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands." (`Psa. 8:4-6`.) He acknowledges also the fall, saying, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me." (`Psa. 51:5`.) Having the same view of the fall, Job asks, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?"--`Job 14:4`.
Solomon the wise declares, "Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions."--`Eccles. 7:29`.
All the promises of a new heavens and earth,--of a time when the wilderness shall blossom as the rose and the knowledge of God fill the earth, and his favor be offered through Christ to all who will go up on the highway of holiness, are but so many promises of Eden and Paradise to be restored, and were so understood by the Jews, and so spoken of by our Lord and the apostles, and so symbolically pictured in Revelation.--`Rev. 2:7`.
Our Lord distinctly declares that he came "to seek and to recover that which was lost." Thus he teaches man's original harmony with God and his loss of life and of God's fellowship; and that his own mission was to restore the original conditions. He declares also that he came to give his life a ransom [lutron anti--a price in offset] for all. This is another declaration of man's original perfection, and of his fall into sin and its penalty, death, and of his need of a ransom therefrom. Because if man's life were not under divine sentence, it could not be ransomed or bought back; and if under divine sentence, the implication is that at some time in the past man had been tried; and if tried, that trial implies a condition fit for trial,--a condition of capability for obedience,--the very perfection and trial and fall recounted in Genesis.
The Apostle Peter teaches the fall when he says, "Ye were redeemed...with the precious blood of Christ." He taught the same thing in unmistakable language when, in his discourse at Pentecost, he spoke of the "times of restitution." Restitution means to put back as before. If there had been no fall from perfection, and if Peter and the people who heard him had not so believed, he would not have mentioned restitution (`Acts 3:19-21`) as a part of the gospel hope which he was commissioned by the holy spirit to preach. We may be sure that if under the inspiration of the holy spirit the Apostle Peter had the Evolution view of Dr. Abbott, Prof. Drummond, et al. (that man was created about on a par with the monkey), he never would have mentioned restitution as a glorious hope to be anticipated as part of the Millennial blessing. Would Dr. Abbott preach restitution? Did he ever preach from these words of Peter as a text? We presume not. It would fit very poorly with his theory; for if the past six thousand years have been spent in lifting man up from an apelike condition to intelligence, restitution would mean the undoing of it all, and a return to ape-like-ness;--and not to the God-like-ness in which the Scriptures declare that man was created, from which he fell, to which he has been redeemed, and to which, if he will, he is to be restored. And yet, astounding fact! the Apostle Peter declares not only that he believes in restitution, but that God has spoken of it; not only once, but "by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (`Acts 3:19-21`.) No wonder, then, in view of so general instruction by God for so long, that the people knew of the fall so thoroughly that it was unnecessary for our Lord or the apostles to make it a special subject of discourse, although all of their utterances were in harmony with it and implied it.
Dr. Abbott is willing to concede that the inspired Apostle Paul mentions the fall "only once," and he seems willing to forgive that once because it was "to illustrate only." If Dr. Abbott would not use bald untruths to illustrate his discourses, why offer such an excuse for St. Paul?
But if mention of the fall be an error, Dr. Abbott will have to forgive St. Paul more than once. If mistaken at all on this point, St. Paul, as well as the others, was much mistaken; for, as we will show, he mentioned the matter several times. Note the following instances and ask yourself whether it was natural or mental blindness (`Isa. 29:11,14`) that hindered Dr. Abbott from seeing any but one of these. We wonder which one of the many he saw:--
"Through the offense of one many be dead."-- `Rom. 5:15`.
"Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was [first] in the transgression."--`1 Tim. 2:14`.
"The serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety."-- `2 Cor. 11:3`.
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"By one man sin entered into the world, and death by [as a result of] sin, and so death passed upon all."-- `Rom. 5:12`; `1 John 2:2`.
"By one that sinned."--`Rom. 5:16`.
"As all in Adam die."--`1 Cor. 15:22`.
"By one man's offense death reigned by one."-- `Rom. 5:17`.
"By the offense of one judgment came upon all."-- `Rom. 5:18`.
"By one man's disobedience many were made sinners." --`Rom. 5:19`.
St. Paul referred to the fall every time he mentioned justification, or the ransom-sacrifice by which we are reckonedly justified; as, for instance, when he said, "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [first of all], how that Christ died for OUR SINS, according to the Scriptures."--`1 Cor. 15:3`; `Jude 3`.
With the testimony of St. Paul, of St. Peter, of our Lord Jesus and of "all the holy prophets since the world began," corroborating the account of Genesis 3, we advise Doctor Abbott, and all who have determined to reject God's revelation on the subject and to adopt instead human speculation and philosophy and "science falsely so-called," that they would better cut loose from the Bible entirely. Their claim of allegiance is injurious to the Book and to the Lord's cause in general, and is very discreditable to themselves, their honesty, etc., leading them to make such untruthful statements as the one we quote at the head of this article.
But so far from falling from the esteem of men, Dr. Abbott is being lionized by the ministers and school-men of all denominations. Amongst the speakers at a banquet of the "Methodist Social Union" on Feb. 1, at the St. Denis Hotel, New York City, Dr. Abbott's name was first in the announcement. This only indicates how general among the worldly-wise is the falling from grace now in progress --denying the fall of man and consequently the redemption from the fall by the precious blood of Christ. But we are assured that some things highly esteemed among men are an abomination unto the Lord; and surely this is one of them.--`Luke 16:15`; `Heb. 10:29`.
We are here reminded of our Lord's words,--"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find the faith on the earth?" (`Luke 18:8`.) Evidently not to any great extent. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."-- `Psa. 91`.
"In God I have found a retreat,
Where I can securely abide;
No refuge no rest so complete,
And here I intend to reside.
"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."
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OUR LORD'S TYPICAL TRIUMPH.
--APRIL 7, `MATT. 21:1-17`; `LUKE 19:29-48`; `JOHN 12:12-19`; `MARK 11:1-11`.--
Golden Text--"Hosanna: blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
THE lessons of this quarter carry our minds step by step through the painful scenes attending the last days of our Lord's life in the flesh, ending with his crucifixion, and then introduce us to the risen Lord, mighty to save, having the keys of death and the grave. In the course of the last quarter we saw his rising popularity with the masses of the people, attracted by his miracles and astonished and fascinated by his teachings; and, with them, we have marvelled at the gracious words that proceeded out of his mouth, and have hung upon his words, and our hearts have burned within us while the spirit of God has applied to us also the balm of his counsel. And now as we mentally proceed with him through the last few days of his human life, let its solemn scenes bring our hearts into yet closer fellowship and sympathy with that wealth of love and tenderness which so freely sacrificed all things for our sakes.
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Three and a half years of public teaching and works which testified to the truth of his claims as the Messiah, ending with the raising of Lazarus from the dead, culminated in a seeming triumph which raised high the hopes of his disciples and of many in Israel that now their king, their Messiah, had indeed come and that the glory of Israel foretold by the prophets was soon to be realized. In this state of the public mind the Lord saw his opportunity to fulfil the prophecy of `Zech. 9:9`, by publicly essaying to assume the kingly office. And not only were the circumstances thus propitious, as foretold, but the time had come.
According to God's covenant with their fathers (`Acts 3:25,26`), the gospel of the Kingdom was to be to the Jew first. Yet God knew beforehand that, as a nation, they would neither appreciate nor accept it, and by his Prophet foretold that only a remnant of the nation would prove worthy of the covenant favor, and that the rest would be blinded (as they were by their prejudices and hardness of heart), while the great covenant blessing would be accepted and realized by some from among the Gentiles, who should be accounted the seed of Abraham to whom pertain the promises,--children not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit, having the faith of Abraham; for, as Jesus said, God was able of the very stones to raise up children unto Abraham.--See `Rom. 9:27`; `Isa. 10:22,23`; `Rom. 11:7,11,12`; `Acts 13:46`; `Gal. 3:9,16,28,29`; `Matt. 3:8,9`.
It was on account of this covenant of God with their fathers that Jesus, instructed by these and other prophecies, offered himself thus to fleshly Israel as their King, although he knew that, while the masses would give him a royal welcome and hail him with hosannas, their unstable and fickle minds, swayed by their false teachers and unwilling to act upon their convictions in the face of opposition, would, only a few days later, cry, Crucify him! crucify him!--`John 12:1,12,13`; `19:6,7,14,15`.
Why then, is it asked, did Jesus go through this form of assuming kingly authority when he knew how it would
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result? We answer that, according to the teachings of the Apostle, this action was performed as a part of that great system of types which foreshadowed good things to come.
This triumphal entry into Jerusalem, together with its chronological order, prefigured the coming of Christ as king, in the end of this Gospel age, which is the antitype of the Jewish age, the two being exact parallels in both time and circumstances.* According to this remarkable parallelism we find the year 1878 A.D. to be the point of time in this age when the king, our risen Lord, was due actually to take his great power and begin his reign.
That such is the accomplished fact we have no hesitancy in stating. We have ample proof from the sure word of prophecy+ that the time is at hand for the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the earth under the dominion of his Anointed--the Church. Around this fact cluster truths of deepest moment, not only to Christians, but to the whole world, if they were only wise enough to hear and heed.
Many are blinded to the fact of the Lord's presence, so clearly indicated in the Scriptures, by their misapprehension of the manner of his coming. Expecting to see him in the flesh, and his coming to be announced by the blast of a literal trumpet and visible to the natural eye in the literal clouds, they are unable to see, to recognize, him as having come and as now present, not in the flesh, but a spirit-being, invisible to the natural eye, yet clearly attested to the eye of faith by the sure word of prophecy, and to discern his presence and power in the midst of the clouds of trouble now so rapidly casting their dark shadows over the whole world. Nevertheless, these are facts, and of most solemn import, especially to all that name the name of Christ. You that are faithful they bid to "look up, and lift up your heads; for your deliverance draweth nigh" (`Luke 21:28`); while you, professed Christians who have grown lukewarm and indifferent, and you that are of the world seeking to satisfy your soul's cravings with the husks of worldly pleasure, all unmindful too of the cries of the oppressed and the woes of the suffering, you they bid beware of "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation"--a trouble even now imminent.--`Dan. 12:1`.
The authoritative course of the Lord upon this occasion, in overthrowing the tables of the money-changers in the temple (`Matt. 21:12,13`), saying, "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves," as a typical act, indicates what is elsewhere also stated, that in the end of this age judgment begins with the professed house of God (`1 Pet. 4:17`), and his great displeasure against those who make merchandise of the truth.
Then followed the healing of the lame and the blind who came to him in the temple (`Matt. 21:14`), showing how the spiritually lame and blind in the church here may also be blessed by his healing touch.--`Rev. 3:18,19`.
And when the chief priests (`Matt. 21:15,16`; `Luke 19:40`) expressed their displeasure against those who glorified the new king (as the chief priests--the clergy--do to-day against those whose blindness and lameness the Lord has healed), Jesus said, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." Why? Because the Prophet `Zechariah (9:9`) had foretold the shouting and rejoicing, and now the time had come and the prophecy was sure to be fulfilled--"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee," etc. So it was in the type then; and so it is in the antitype now. As truly and as necessarily as there was shouting and rejoicing there, so there is and must be now. Great is the joy now among the saints as they recognize the King; and their proclamation of his presence and Kingdom is the "shout," heard, if not believed. "Yea," said the Master, "have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?" Even so is it now also in this antitype of that day; for it is not from the chief priests, the clergy, of to-day that the hosannas rise in recognition of the King's presence and power here, but out of the mouths of the common people-- "of babes and sucklings" are heard the notes of praise and jubilee--"Hosanna to the Son of David" who has come to reign, and who is even now setting up his Kingdom.
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. vii.
+See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOLS. II. and III.
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THE WICKED HUSBANDMEN.
--APRIL 14, `MARK 12:1-12`; `MATT. 21:33-46`; `LUKE 20:9-19`.--
Golden Text--"They will reverence my son."
THIS parable was very promptly recognized by the Jews as spoken against them (`Mark 12:12`); and so aptly did it represent their state of heart that its only effect was to arouse them to renewed energy to fill up the iniquitous measure of their guilty fathers and so fulfil the final prediction of the parable.--`Verse 13`.
The foundation of the parable is the very similar language of the prophecy of `Isaiah 5:1-7`, which is explained thus--"For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry."--`Verse 7`.
The parable, briefly interpreted, would read thus--"A certain man [God] planted a vineyard ["the house of Israel" --`Isa. 5:7`. See also `Psa. 80:14,15`; `Jer. 2:21`] and set a hedge about it [the divine law, the testimony of the prophets, the special supervision and fatherly guardianship of God and the ministration of his faithful servants, all of which served to separate them from the ungodly, surrounding nations, and to protect them from their influence], and digged a place for the winefat [or wine press, including the trough in which the grapes were pressed and the vat for the reception of the juice pressed from them. Thus God represents the various advantages conferred upon Israel, such as the worship of the sanctuary, the wonderful leadings of Jehovah, the teachings of the prophets, all of which should have caused the vine, Israel, to yield a large increase of precious fruit and caused her vats to overflow with wine. Well did the Lord inquire through his prophet, "What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it?"--`Isa. 5:4`], and built a tower [a watch tower for the protection of the vineyard--representing God's care over it in setting watchmen, the prophets and others, upon the towers of Zion--`Ezek. 3:17`; `Isa. 62:6`; `Jer. 6:17`], and let it out to husbandmen [the priests and leaders of the people, whose duty it was to instruct and to lead in the right ways of the Lord, which they were miserably failing to do], and went into a far country [left the vineyard thus prepared and equipped with every advantage to insure an abundant harvest, which he had a right to expect at the
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appointed harvest time, in which those addressed were then living]."
The fruits which the Lord had a right to expect from Israel in view of all his favors to them as a people were gratitude, love, obedience, meekness and readiness of mind
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and heart in the end of the age to follow the further leading into the new paths and the greener pastures of the Gospel dispensation, through the long promised and then present Messiah, the Son of God. These fruits, properly cultivated all through the age, would also have been manifested in a proper treatment of the prophets and in giving heed to their counsel and warnings; but the fruit was sadly lacking.
`Verse 2`. "And at the season [at such times as it was proper to expect some fruit] he sent to the husbandmen a servant [a prophet or teacher], that he might receive from the husbandmen [--through their influence; for the rulers in Israel, because of their influence and power, were held specially responsible for the course of the nation, although this did not relieve the masses of the people, the individuals of the nation, from responsibility] of the fruit of the vineyard."
`Verses 3-5` refer to the shameful handling of those worthy servants of the Lord. See also `Jer. 37:13-21`; `1 Kings 18:13`; `22:24-27`; `2 Kings 6:31`; `2 Chron. 24:20,21`; `36:16`; `Acts 7:52`; `Heb. 11:35-38`.
`Verse 6`. "Having yet therefore one son, his well beloved [the Lord Jesus, who thus spake to them], he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son." Though God knew it would be otherwise, it is so expressed to show the reasonableness of such expectation.
`Verse 7`. "But those husbandmen [the chief priests and rulers] said among themselves [they plotted privately and deceitfully, saying in substance], This is the heir [this man claims to be the king, the Messiah of the Jews]. Come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours [the desire to retain their prestige and power was the very object of the leaders in Israel in persecuting and finally crucifying the Lord]."
`Verse 8` was a prophecy of the murderous culmination of the wicked purposes that were even then filling their hearts.
`Verse 9` foretells the purpose of God to cast those wicked husbandmen out of their offices and to give his favors to others than the Jewish nation; viz., the Gentiles.
Thus ended the parable with its awful significance of the triumph of evil; for full well the Lord knew that his days were numbered. But he did not wish to leave them with the idea that their triumph would be lasting, and so he called their attention to another prophecy (`Psa. 118:22,23`), saying, "Have ye not read this scripture?--The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: this was the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes."
This was said in reference to his triumph in the resurrection and his future glory as the king of the whole earth.
`Verse 12` shows the wickedness of their hearts in strong contrast with that beauty of holiness which never more than on this occasion appeared more lovely. Not a selfish thought stirred his generous soul. Here was goodness, purity, benevolence, grace, standing on the verge of an awful tragedy, with calmness and composure doing the last works of his earthly life. He had no time for gloomy thoughts or fearful forebodings: he must be about the Father's business. He must give the last words of testimony, of instruction, of warning, and fulfil all that remained to be fulfilled of the prophecies concerning him in the flesh. Then he was ready to be offered for the sins of the world --for just such ungrateful, wicked people as the Jews had proven to be, even under all their advantages, and as the Gentiles also were without those advantages.
But, thank God, he shall yet see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.
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--APRIL 21, `MATT. 24:42-51`; `MARK 13:32-37`; `LUKE 21:34-36`.--
Golden Text--"Take ye heed, watch and pray."
NEARLY nineteen centuries have passed since our Lord instructed his disciples to watch for his second coming, saying, "Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (`Matt. 24:42`); and to make sure that the whole Church to the end of the age should feel this command incumbent upon them, he added, "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch!"--`Mark 13:37`.
Again he said, "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.... Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning."--`Luke 12:35-40`.
That the early Church lived in joyful anticipation of this longed-for event is manifest from many scriptures. (See `1 John 2:18`; `2 Tim. 2:18`; `2 Thes. 2:1-5`.) And when the Apostle Paul had about finished his course, he looked forward to this event as the culmination of his own and the whole Church's hope, saying, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing." (`2 Tim. 4:8`.) To them the appearing of the Lord was the consummation of their hopes, and their one concern was to be found approved of him at his appearing.
But how is it to-day? Alas! professed Christians have generally forgotten to watch for his appearing. They seem to have concluded that the watching will never be rewarded, and that the time of his advent will never be revealed. Its object--the establishment of his Kingdom, the exaltation of the Church and the blessing of the world--has been overlooked and also nullified by erroneous doctrines which have been accepted and which have subverted the truth.
In this state of mind and under the delusions of various errors, they have concluded that it is wrong to study prophetic time with a view to a knowledge of the time of the Lord's return, and to this effect quote the Lord's words-- "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power." (`Acts 1:7`.) Yes, we reply, and he also said, "Of that day and hour knoweth no man; no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."--`Mark 13:32`.
But is it reasonable to conclude that neither the Lord's people, nor the angels, nor yet the Son of God, would ever know the times and seasons of God's appointment? Certainly
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not. Because the time was long according to human reckoning, and a knowledge of it would therefore have been discouraging, it was wisely kept secret, not only from the Church, but also, and for the same reason, from angels and even from our Lord Jesus while in the flesh, and must continue so until the proximity of the event renders the knowledge of the time no longer a cause of discouragement, but, on the contrary, of the revival of hope and anticipation. The Lord surely knew about it after his resurrection when all power in heaven and in earth was given unto him-- when there was in such knowledge no longer any cause of discouragement to him, the cross-bearing having ended and the glory begun. And it was to the intent that the Lord's people might know when God would see fit to reveal his times and seasons, that the waiting Church was told to watch.
The injunction to watch implies not only some advantage in watching, but also that the manner of the Lord's second advent might be so contrary to the general expectation as to require some discernment on the part of the watchers. The advantages of watching have been to keep fresh in mind the inspiring hope of the Church--the reunion with Christ in glory, the reign with him in his kingdom, and the privilege of cooperating with him in the blessing of all the families of earth, and to keep the heart in love and harmony with the Lord and his work. Thus, at his coming, the watchers would be found in readiness to sit down to meat and be served by the Lord, who himself would make known to them the secret of his presence. As at the first advent he was present some time before his presence was declared and recognized, so at his second advent his presence, which was due in 1874, only began to be recognized subsequently as he drew the attention of the watchers to it through the Word of truth.
It is the mistake of those laboring under the delusions of various popular errors, to think that they must watch for the appearance of the Lord again in the flesh, in the body of his humiliation, to see him descend from heaven in the literal clouds, and to hear the blast of a literal trumpet announcing his presence. But those who watch unto "the sure word of prophecy, which shineth as a light in a dark place," know that "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him [so] no more;" that the clouds in which he comes are the clouds of trouble predicted by the prophets (See `Dan. 7:13,14`; `12:1`; `Matt. 24:30`; `Rev. 1:7`); and that the trumpet sound is the sound of "the last trump," "the trump of God," "the seventh trumpet," whose sounding is in the momentous events of this day of the Lord, just as the preceding six were sounded in other historic events; for if, as all admit, the first six trumpets were so sounded, why should we indulge the unreasonable idea that the seventh will be a blast on the air?* Those who have been watching thus unto
*For treatment of this subject see MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II.
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the sure word of prophecy, and who have also been watching unto prayer and thus keeping their hearts in a humble teachable attitude, have been and are being made to sit down to meat at the Master's table, to realize his presence, and in his light to read with unclouded vision the wonderful working of the divine plan of the ages and to see the duties and privileges of the hour.
`Verses 44-46` show who will meet the Master's approval in this day of his presence. They will be, not only those who believe in him, but who also manifest their faith and love in active service--"Blessed is that servant." It is not enough, however, that they be servants of the Lord; for many serve very actively whose works are to be burned in the fiery trials to which they shall be subjected in this day of the Lord (`1 Cor. 3:12-15`); but they must be wise and faithful servants--servants who study to show themselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of truth, servants who are anxious, not only about the amount of their service, but also that it shall be in exact cooperation with God, directed by his Word and controlled by its principles, and then faithfully performed, with an eye single to his glory.
"Blessed is that servant whom his lord at his coming shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you that he will appoint him over all his possessions." The whole storehouse of divine truth shall be open to such to be ministered by them to others of the household of faith. This is the present reward of the wise and faithful servants in the time of his presence, and thus they begin to enter into the joy of their Lord now--the joy of being taken into full confidence with God, of comprehending his deep and wide designs and cooperating with them (`Luke 12:37`); but the fulness of their joy will be when they pass beyond the vail of the flesh and are made like him and see him as he is.-- `1 John 3:2`.
`Verses 48,49` are a solemn warning to those who are thus blessed against a possible falling away from even such a favored condition. As long as we are in the flesh, we will have to war against its sinful proclivities. With the increase of knowledge pride may reassert itself or arrogate to self the honor of finding out God by searching, and, to a considerable extent losing sight of the great reward of faithfulness at the end of the present pathway of humiliation and sacrifice, seek to gratify present fleshly ambitions with the prestige gained by the knowledge of the truth. Such a one virtually says in his heart, "My Lord delayeth his coming"--the coming in the glory of his Kingdom, his personal presence being already recognized. That is the language of such conduct, whether it find expression in words or not; and then follow the unseemly acts to which pride, ambition and self-righteousness stimulate:--he begins to smite his fellow-servants (to act tyrannically over those who are faithful and, generally, because they are faithful), and to eat and drink with the drunken (to imbibe more and more of the spirit of the world, the spirit of selfishness, and to become intoxicated with it). Thus tyranny and selfishness go hand in hand, as in the notable instance of the inquisitions and indulgences in the Church of Rome. The only proper course for the Lord's* people at any time is to have "no confidence in the flesh," and to watch against its old ambitions under all circumstances, and to pray, lest we enter into temptation.
`Verses 50,51`. The penalty of falling away from such high privileges, and that in the face of a knowledge of the Lord's presence and the very near approach of his Kingdom and glory, is, as might well be surmised, a severe one --a penalty which such a one must shortly realize, when, in the overwhelming trouble that shall ere long put an end to all human ambitions, he comes to his sober senses and realizes that he has sold his birthright and is cut off from his former position in the body of Christ and appointed a portion with the hypocrites in the great tribulation with which this harvest period closes. God forbid that any of those at present rejoicing in the truth should thus fall away, now when the Kingdom and its glory are so near. Yet it behooves all to watch and pray lest we enter into temptation.
*See our issue of July 1, '94, page 217.