ZWT - 1898 - R2238 thru R2410 / R2335 (209) - July 15, 1898
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VOL. XIX. JULY 15, 1898. No. 14.
"Purify Your Hearts, Ye Double
How the New Mind Should Rule..................214
Poem: What Became of a Lie........................216
Immortal Vs. Incorruptible....................218
The General or First Resurrection?............219
The Sin of Covetousness...........................219
Elijah's Successor, Elisha........................221
SUBSCRIPTIONS AND BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
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OUR NEW TRACT--NO. 41.
This tract comprises the article "Must We Abandon Hope of a Golden Age?" (recently published in this Magazine) and three pages of Scripture texts, from "all the holy prophets since the world began," and from the New Testament, showing that there will be "Times of Restitution." It is very suitable for general distribution.
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"THE DAY OF VENGEANCE"--IN GERMAN.
We have quite a few calls for the fourth volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN series in the German language. It was not our intention to publish this volume in any language except the English. We would say, however, to the friends who are anxious to have it in German that, if interest enough is developed to guarantee the purchase of sufficient books to amount to the cost of the typesetting (say $500) we will, on the strength of such subscriptions, proceed to get out a German edition of VOL. IV. One dear brother and sister in Germany are so certain that it is just the thing the Germans there need, that they have, in spite of our protests, proceeded to translate the volume; and they are now quite well on with the work. No money need be sent at present, but those interested may inform us at once what amount of money they wish to invest in this manner, at the same prices as the English editions. Postal cards will serve the purpose.
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"PURIFY YOUR HEARTS, YE DOUBLE MINDED."
"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways."--`Jas. 1:8`.
BY NATURE all mankind have the depraved mind or will, whose chief characteristic is selfishness. And it is the desire to gratify this depraved will, including all selfish desires, that leads into sin in its every form. But those who have tasted of divine grace, and have come unto the Father through the Son and the merits of his sacrifice, and whose eyes have been opened to discern the difference between righteousness and unrighteousness, and the natural result of both under the operation of the divine law, and who have consecrated themselves to the Lord, are said to have a new mind, a new will,--sometimes called a clean heart and a right spirit. The natural, fallen disposition or will or mind is Scripturally termed "the mind of the flesh," while the renewed mind, disposition or will is termed "the mind of the spirit," because it is the result of the influence or spirit of the truth.
Nevertheless, this new mind or will, based upon more proper views of right and wrong, is evolved through the very same brain as the other; and these brains by which we do our thinking and reasoning and willing are very closely and sympathetically allied to our depraved physical conditions, so that it is more natural, more easy, for us under present conditions to exercise the will or mind of the flesh than to exercise the will or mind of the spirit. Nor can this connection between our depraved physical conditions and our wills be completely broken up: so long as we are in the flesh it will be impossible for us to completely deaden its influence upon our minds and wills: consequently the will of the flesh and the works of the flesh would be the most easy and the most natural to us-- the thoughts, words and deeds of the fallen disposition coming without seeking and without effort.
On the contrary, as the new mind or will was begotten or implanted in us by an outside influence, foreign to ourselves and our depravity, it, like all invaders, for a long time at least must hold its control, if at all, as would an invading foreigner--by force. The force or power by which the spirit of truth, the spirit of righteousness, the spirit of our God, gained a foothold in our hearts, was through the enlightenment of our minds and the quickening or revivifying of certain organs of the mind which had for many generations lain dormant and consequently become dwarfed and weak, and of other organs which for many generations had become distorted and perverted through misuse, under the domination of error, superstition, etc.
The spirit of truth, the spirit of the Lord, entered our minds as a great general might land upon a foreign shore, and recruit his army from amongst those whom he desires to conquer,--by lifting up and encouraging and enlightening the rightly disposed, and drilling these and arming them in his service, for the overthrow of a bad government, and the establishment of a righteous government. Such a new government, seeking the best interests of every citizen, and willing to have the cooperation of each, would nevertheless find it extremely difficult to control the lower elements of society, except by putting all of its affairs fully in charge and under the control of the rightly disposed: and so, too, in our minds, we find that there are certain lower organs or propensities which have maintained their strength and vigor, while some of the higher organs of our nature have lost their vitality and power to rule, and become dwarfed under the control of sin and ignorance. The spirit of truth, the spirit of the Lord, having gained entrance to our minds, has enlightened
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and quickened and is constantly drilling these better elements of our natural dispositions, and seeks to restore to them the control originally theirs, over the baser or lower propensities of our nature.
Nothing else need be expected than warfare between the new mind seeking under the Lord's direction to regain the control, and the depraved mind which obtained the control under the reign of sin and death. The Apostle mentions this warfare, saying:-- "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." (`Gal. 5:17`.) The inspired Apostle here puts the matter very strongly, and yet experience proves to all Christians that he puts it very truthfully, "Ye cannot do the things that ye would."
So far, then, from being discouraged that our new minds cannot conquer an absolute peace, and come into such perfect conditions that a wrong thought could never rise up to assert itself and to tempt us, we should, on the contrary, while prompt to crush the slightest uprising of the mind of the flesh, nevertheless realize that our condition is the very one which the Lord designs as best for us. We should realize that our faithfulness to righteousness is attested, not by the fact that we have no trials or besetments from the evil mind of the flesh, but that by the grace of God we have a holy will, a holy desire to promptly resist and by the Lord's grace to overcome every evil suggestion.
There are a few people in the world, we believe, who claim to have become so dead naturally and so alive spiritually that they have no "motions of sin in the flesh;"--so that no evil thought or desire ever so much as suggests itself to them. In our judgment these people are deceiving themselves; not only because their alleged experience is different from the experiences of other Christian people, faithfully battling against every motion of the flesh to the end of life's journey, but more particularly because their alleged experiences are contrary to the Word of Truth which in many places assures us (concerning the new creature with the new mind, seeking to overcome the mind of the flesh, and to bring every thought and word and act into subjection to the will of God in Christ), saying, "Ye cannot do [perfectly] the things that ye would."
This implies not only that the Lord's people, the new creatures in Christ, will be liable to besetment on the part of the mind of the flesh, but it implies also, that the mind of the flesh (in spite of our best efforts to down it, to mortify it), while not succeeding in accomplishing its evil purposes, will nevertheless hinder us in divers ways from accomplishing all the good and great and noble things to which the new mind will prompt us. He who thinks that he is accomplishing great things, he who succeeds in accomplishing all that he would, all the things that he wills to accomplish, may be sure that he is not willing on a high enough plane; just as he who fancies that he has no besetments of the flesh is merely deceiving himself, and is so asleep as respects his new mind that he does not recognize sharply the distinctions between the new mind and the old mind, nor discriminate closely between truth and error, righteousness and sin.
THE DOUBLE MINDED.
A double-minded man or woman is one who has received the new mind and recognizes the difference between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the spirit, but who, instead of giving over the control of his life to either one, thinks erroneously that he can succeed better by dividing matters. The double mind is the compromising disposition. The old nature, as soon as it recognizes the presence of the new, is inclined to dissimulate, and to propose compromise and peace, fearing its own extermination. The new mind urges right, truth, the spirit, disposition, of God; and that these should have free course, and that every thought daring to assert itself in opposition to these recognized principles of righteousness should be summarily dealt with and put to death as a rebel. The mind of the flesh trembles at such thorough-going law and discipline, and raises various objections:
(1) It would cause an awful rupture and a lifelong war between the new mind and the tendency, mind or will of the fallen flesh. It would mean self-denial; it would mean the risk of breaking of tender
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ties, and the rupture of long cherished hopes and ambitions.
(2) It objects that such a course would be fanatical; that such is not the course of the world in general, nor even the course of the most respectable among those who are classed as Christians; and that to follow the course proposed would, therefore, mean, as gauged by worldly wisdom and customs, to become a fool for Christ's sake, and to be considered such by all the worldly-wise.
(3) It urges its own claims and rights: it admits that at one time it usurped full control improperly, but declares that it is reformed now. Its proposal, therefore, is that there should be a lasting peace as between the old mind and the new, that the new mind shall have the full right to control in all matters pertaining to religious worship, Sabbath observance and outward deportment, and that the old mind (reformed) shall continue to have full charge of business and secular
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affairs; and that in matters of conscience, respecting dress, amusements, etc., there shall be a compromise between the two minds, which, it suggests, would really be the happy medium and more desirable and in better taste than the extremes of either.
This is the condition represented by the Apostle, when he says, a double-minded man is inconsistent in all his ways. And alas, how many Christians are in this very condition of inconsistency: they profess on the one hand to be renewed in mind, and are actually so to some extent; yet on the other hand, in many of the affairs of life they are walking not after the spirit's direction but after the will of the flesh. They more or less feel this inconsistency, and their lives are not satisfactory to themselves, and far from satisfactory from the divine standpoint. Nor does the world appreciate them; for frequently it calls them hypocrites, pointing to their inconsistencies as proof. Their course is thoroughly disapproved by the Lord's Word which declares that none such shall constitute the Kingdom class, which shall be composed only of "overcomers," in whom the mind of the spirit has the control, the mastery, bringing even the thoughts of the heart into subjection to the will of God in Christ.
The double-minded man, the man who has two wills in control, and who is obliged to compromise matters continually, by "splitting the difference" between the two minds, will be apt to find the old mind more and more securing control in his heart;--until finally his mind or will becomes as fleshly as it was before grace and truth reached him--full of selfishness. The only trace of the "new mind" remaining in such will be an outward semblance of respect for righteousness, truth and honesty, a "form of godliness" which, as a mere veneer, will serve to keep up outward appearances and respectability, while inwardly the heart, the will, is completely reprobate. Such have reached the condition of the scribes and Pharisees of old--they have become mere hypocrites, "whited sepulchres, full of all manner of corruption."
What then is the right attitude of mind, what is the proper course to take? We answer that the proper course is to have only one mind, one will--the will of God--to permit the new mind, the new spirit, the new disposition, to have full control. As the Apostle says, "Let the mind of Christ dwell in you richly and abound," and it will bring forth good fruit, that will be a blessing to yourself and to others, and pleasing to the Lord: and such will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord. We are to place ourselves in every particular under the control of the new mind, and as the Apostle again declares, "Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its desires." (`Rom. 13:14`.) The mind of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, are to be considered as mortal enemies,--to be fought against and exterminated so far as possible, and with them there is to be no compromise, no terms, no covenant, no agreement. "Mortify [kill, deaden] therefore your members [your mental members, your depraved tendencies] which are upon the earth."-- `Col. 3:5`.
This same thought of the necessity of having only the one will, the one set of principles before our minds, if we would be successful in making our calling and election sure, was enunciated by our Lord, when he said, "If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light." That is to say, if our eyes be focused in harmony together as one, the object before us will be seen in its true, proper light and shape, but if we were cross-eyed, our eyes glancing in different directions, every object looked at with both eyes would seem distorted. So with the eyes of understanding: if we attempt to look at matters from the heavenly standpoint, and at the same time from the earthly standpoint, the result will be unsatisfactory--confusion, uncertainty, incorrectness of judgment.
As we have found that the old nature, if permitted to have a voice at all, would eventually capture the citadel of the heart, so we find also that if the new nature be granted full sway to overcome the will of the flesh, to bring every thought and word and deed into subjection to the will of God, this also means a gradual development, a growth in grace and in the knowledge and the will of God. It means that the entire heart is thus seized in the name of the Lord, and reckoned as his, and reckoned a pure heart on this account; but it means also a progressive battle with and a progressive victory over the weaknesses, the frailties of our mortal bodies; and it means additionally the establishment, in every quarter of our beings, of fortified defences against the besetments of the world, the flesh and the devil. Thus the developed Christian, whose eye is single to the pleasement of God, and whose mind, purpose or will is single to the service of the one Master, shall, by the grace of God, day by day, month by month, year by year, find the ability, more and more, to hinder his flesh from rendering service to Sin. And not only so, but his flesh, once the willing servant of sin until mortified, rendered dead to Sin, shall more and more be quickened, energized, by the new mind, to its service, and thus more and more become a servant of righteousness and of truth: so that it not only will be passively the Lord's, in the sense of not being an opponent of truth and right and purity, but so that it will be the Lord's in a positive sense, aggressively and actively engaged in opposition to sin and error, and in the service of truth and righteousness.-- `Rom. 8:11`.
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HOW THE NEW MIND SHOULD RULE.
Many gibes and taunts are thrown at the present House of Congress, whose Speaker and representative is the Hon. Thomas B. Reed, who is styled "the Czar and autocrat of the House." Nevertheless, and without attempting any discussion of the merits or demerits of the arrangement criticized, from their political and human standpoint, we see there a most fit illustration for our subject under consideration.
The human brain is scientifically, phrenologically, subdivided into various organs, representative of various propensities or dispositions: these may be illustrated by the various representatives of the various States, assembled in the House of Congress. Each different organ has its own particular thought or interest, yet the will is not the expression of any one organ merely, but the voice of the majority. When a motion or bill is offered in Congress, it may be of special interest to only a few of the members, and the State interests which they represent. In such event, if personal or sectional selfishness ruled amongst the members, the matter in question could not be passed, because the majority would not be sufficiently interested to favor it; and hence, to accomplish its end it would be necessary to appeal to the selfishness of the various other members, by agreeing to favor certain interests of theirs in return for their cooperation. Thus, Congress, if each member and each state stood entirely separate, and without any combination, would be comparatively powerless, unless a degree of patriotism should be shown larger than we would have any reason to expect. Hence the tendency has always been to party division and party cooperation; the party in the majority having the control of the situation, and being held responsible accordingly for the results. So with our minds: if each organ stood wholly separate from the others, it could move only on lines of selfishness, unless it were perfect, which we know it is not. Hence in the human mind, as in Congress, party lines have been established, and for very much the same purpose. In the mind of the Christian the party lines are, the old mind and the new mind, the old self and the new self, the old creature and the new creature, the old will and the new will, the mind of righteousness, and the mind of sin, the mind of love and the mind of selfishness. All these various names describe the same two minds.
In Congress it was found that as its number of representatives increased there was an increased tendency on the part of minorities to baffle or hinder the accomplishment of anything by the majority: the minority party would discuss the subject for hours, days and weeks, if permitted to do so, rather than let the matter go to a vote, in hope that in the end the will of the majority should be frustrated. But Speaker Reed, cooperating with the leaders of his party, concluded that it was not the intention of the law to hinder legislation, and that consequently the dominant party should have opportunity to proceed to enact the laws which it, as the majority of the body, deemed to be the proper laws. Consequently rules were laid down giving the Speaker, as the representative of the majority, certain privileges and powers, by which the opposition would be limited in its discussion of the various subjects, and the will of the majority more speedily and more thoroughly enacted.
Now this is exactly the condition of things in the human heart, where the teachings of the Lord have been accepted, and where the propensities or organs
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of the mind have come to a strict party division;--the one the party of truth and righteousness and love, in harmony with the Lord, and the other the party of sin and selfishness, with contrary sentiments. If conversion has taken place it means that the higher organs of the mind, sufficient in number or in influence, have gained the control of the mind; that these preponderate in number or in influence; that they constitute the majority, and the evil propensities the minority. Any heart in which the evil propensities are in the majority and in control is an unconverted heart.
And what was found in Congress respecting the disposition of minorities to baffle the will of the ruling majority is found also in our minds, namely, the disposition of our natural mind not only to be heard, but to foil and baffle and render void the will of the new mind, in respect to the control of the affairs of life. What the Scriptures propose to us, therefore, is illustrated again in Congress: the Scriptures propose that the new mind, having obtained the control, shall elect a Speaker, a head,--and that that head or Speaker for our every talent, directing all our interests and all our efforts, shall be Christ Jesus our Lord. They propose that we shall place full authority and power in the hands of the Lord, so that his word and will shall be our will, our law. And how safe it is for us to admit such a Czar, such an autocrat, to control us, since we have learned to know him as the very embodiment of justice, wisdom, and love. Safely we can trust our affairs in his hands.
There are other analogies which might be drawn: for instance, the power of the Speaker of the House rests solely in the fact that it is the power of the majority. If the majority which placed him in power and gave him the authority which he exercises should become a minority, his power would immediately terminate; and the opposition party might give its representative equal power in an opposite direction. So
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with our hearts; only as our hearts voted to have the Lord in control, did he take charge; and if our wills, the preponderance of our propensities, our judgments, cease to be on the side of the Lord, he no longer retains his power in our hearts and lives, and the evil majority appoint a successor, in line with the selfish propensities, favoring everything selfish.
In Congress, when any matter is brought up, each representative has an opportunity for expressing himself, either directly or indirectly, either on the floor personally, or through representatives in committee. And so with our wills: when a matter is presented by one organ of the mind, the other organs have a chance to respond, and to seek to influence the majority, and to overthrow the rule of righteousness. For instance, a suggestion is made to the mind by the organ of Combativeness, to the effect that there is a good, proper cause why the whole being should be angry, and undertake vengeful retaliation; and under the influence of the eloquence of Combativeness, various other of the lower organs would most surely be aroused; namely, Pride, Self-esteem, Destructiveness, Selfishness, etc., and in addition perhaps some of the higher organs might be temporarily swayed by the old sympathies, prejudice, antipathy, etc., to favor the angry, malicious and resentful course. Conscientiousness might excitedly declare that it was a righteous cause of indignation; Caution might join, and claim that if the thing were not now opposed violently, worse results would follow; even Spirituality and Veneration might be swayed into favoring the angry course, with suggestions that it was in the service of God, and a duty towards God, and toward righteousness, to be angry and to crush the opponent with retaliation and vengeance. Thus, for a moment the entire mind might be swayed toward the side of evil, yet without previous wilfulness or sin--because of the hereditary tendencies of the mind.
But here the gavel of the Speaker is heard, Memory calls attention, and points out that the will of the majority has already been expressed to the contrary of such a course; and calls attention to the rules already adopted;--namely, to put away all anger, malice, hatred and strife, as being in general works of the flesh and of the devil. Memory calls attention to the fact that the majority adopted as the rule of action the words of the Speaker, Christ, "Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and speak evil of you." Commit your way unto the Lord, remembering that he has said, "Vengeance is mine, I will recompense." Where the will of the majority of organs is loyal to its own previous decision, the effect of Memory's calling attention to that law will be instantaneous: at once Conscientiousness, Veneration, Spirituality, Caution, and all the higher organs realize that they were about to make a mistake; and immediately they change front, fully supporting the law of the Speaker, Christ. Selfishness, Combativeness, Pride, etc., may attempt to argue the point, but immediately they are called to order and reminded that by vote of the majority they are strictly under the law of Christ, and all further discussion of the subject is forbidden.
Similarly, illustrations might be drawn as representing other passions, tastes or desires of the flesh, which temporarily might seem to gain some control; but from the moment that Memory calls attention to the proposal as being in conflict with the law of the Master, there should be an instantaneous surrender. Such a course would prove that the will had all along been thoroughly loyal to the Lord, and that he reigns there. It proves the reign of Christ in that heart far better than if no suggestion to the contrary course had come up. And who cannot see that a life thus ordered, and under strictest control of the will of our Head, Christ Jesus, is not only the only proper life (the only one in which the new mind is properly exercised), but in addition to this the only mind which is a "sound mind." People who are continually carried from their moorings by their emotions show that their minds are unsound; such are continually proving to those around them that they have poor judgment. They are frequently angry, troubled, vexed, hurt; or continually falling into one wrong act or another, as they confess afterward. Indeed, the majority of the things at which they take offence, become angry, etc., prove to have been mistakes, nothing having been done or intended to anger, hurt, or injure them. And we know, not only from the Scriptures, but also from our own observation, that the world of mankind in general is thus of unsound mind; and, as the Apostle explains, the only ones in all the world who have even the spirit or disposition of a sound mind are the new creatures in Christ Jesus, who have the new mind, the new will, in control. These, as we have seen, would be liable to be carried away also, by evil passions, evil surmisings, etc., but those who have put themselves fully and completely under the control of Christ and his law of the New Covenant are kept from the extremes to which otherwise they would be as subject as others.
The Apostle's exhortation to the double minded, is in place, and should be heeded promptly by all who realize that they have a double mind or will which can never please the Lord nor bring joy and blessing either now or hereafter: "Purify your hearts, ye double minded;"--purge your consciences by hearty obedience to the truth, by the washing of water through the Word.
"Grant, Lord, a heart, submissive, meek,
My great Redeemer's throne,
Where only Christ is heard to speak,
Where Jesus reigns alone;
"A heart in every thought renewed,
And full of love divine,
Perfect and right, and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine."
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WHAT BECAME OF A LIE.
"First somebody told it,
Then the room wouldn't hold it,
So the busy tongues rolled it
Till they got it outside.
When the crowd came across it
They onward did toss it,
Till it grew long and wide.
From a very small lie, Sir,
It grew deep and high, Sir,
Till it reached the sky, Sir,
And frightened the moon;
For she hid her face, Sir,
At the dreadful disgrace, Sir,
That happened at noon.
"This lie brought forth others,
Dark sisters and brothers,
And fathers and mothers
A terrible crew.
And while headlong they hurried,
The people they flurried,
And troubled and worried
As lies always do.
And so evil boded,
This monstrous lie goaded,
Till at last it exploded
In smoke and in shame.
While from mud and from mire
The pieces flew higher,
And hit the sad liar,
And killed his good name."
--Mrs. M. A. Kidder in Jewish Gazette.
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Question. The fact that our Lord received worship is claimed by some to be an evidence that while on earth he was God the Father disguised in a body of flesh and not really a man. Was he really worshiped, or is the translation faulty?
Answer. Yes, we believe our Lord Jesus while on earth was really worshiped, and properly so. While he was not the God, Jehovah, he was a God. The word "God" signifies a "mighty one," and our Lord was indeed a mighty one. So it is stated in the `first two verses of the gospel of John`. It was proper for our Lord to receive worship in view of his having been the only begotten of the Father, and his agent in the creation of all things, including man.
Besides, he had come to earth under the divine arrangement and accepted the condition of Messiahship, presenting himself to God as fallen man's sin-offering; besides, at his baptism he was anointed of the holy spirit as the Messiah, and authorized to carry out the great divine plan and to receive homage from both angels and men. This alone would have rendered worship proper even aside from his pre-human greatness as "the only begotten of the Father."
Question. Some "Christadelphians" offer the following texts in proof that death ends all for a large majority of the human family--that the majority will never be awakened from the sleep of death.--`Psa. 88:4,5`; `49:14`. `Isa. 26:14`; `43:16,17`; `Obad. 16`.
Please let me have your explanation of the meaning of these texts.
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Answer. These texts should be interpreted in harmony with the holy spirit's interpretations given us in the words of our Lord and the apostles recorded in the New Testament. These declare that the hour is coming in which all that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth, some unto the resurrection of life and some unto a resurrection by judgments. (`John 5:29`.) And we are assured by the Apostle that it is the will of God that "All should come to a knowledge of the truth that they may be saved;" and that to this end "Christ died for the ungodly," "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified [to all] in due time." (`1 Tim. 2:6`.) Indeed, the Apostle assures us that the Kingdom class (the Church) now being selected is appointed to "judge the world" (`1 Cor. 6:2`); and that "God hath appointed a day" (an epoch or age) in the which this judgment or trial shall take place (`Acts 17:31`); and the picture of this in the symbols of Revelation shows the dead, small and great, standing before the great white throne of justice, mercy and love, and being tried (during the thousand years of Christ's reign), according to the law written in the Book and according to their works. (`Rev. 20:11-13`.) In interpreting any of the Old Testament Scriptures we need all the light and help which God has deemed proper to throw upon them through the New Testament revelations. If we did not observe and use this New Testament key furnished us by the holy spirit, all of the prophecies and types of the Old Testament would be meaningless or worse to us. Looking at the passages you cite, from this the proper standpoint, we find as follows:--
`Psa. 88:4,5`. The writer is not declaring his own opinion, but is merely saying how he is regarded by others, "I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am [counted] as a man having no strength --a cast away among the dead; [counted] like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and like them that are cut off by thy hand."
The Lord reveals the fact, in the Old Testament as well as in the New, that there will be some who will be utterly cut off from life in the second death. But none will be in this class whose hearts are in the attitude of the Psalmist. The only ones who will be of this class will be such as have spurned the grace of God, after it has been made known to them. (`Heb. 6:4-6`.) The Psalmist is saying that he is disesteemed and disowned, as one who is the subject of divine displeasure,
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counted unworthy of any future life, remanded to the second death.
`Psa. 49:14`. "Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning." The prophet David is here speaking of a certain class who vainly think to build up fortunes and to make their names endure, without realizing what is the true wealth of character which should be sought. But, there is nothing in this to indicate that death will end all for these. Quite to the contrary, the statement that "The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning," proves that death does not end all for these; but that in the morning of the Millennial Day, when Christ and the Church shall be granted the Kingdom under the whole heavens, then these shall be awakened and come under his dominion. This will be God's method of bringing them under the blessings of the seed of Abraham which he has promised shall come "to all the families of the earth."
`Isa. 26:14`. The `first nine verses of this chapter` are a prophetic description of the Millennial day,-- when the land of Judah has been reclaimed (`verse 1`) and when the nations of earth are walking in the light (teaching) of the glorified Church--the New Jerusalem. (Compare `verse 2` and `Rev. 21:24-26` and `Isa. 60:11,18-22`.) `Verse 5` describes the humbling of the proud and the fall of mystic Babylon. `Verse 9` shows how some (the body of Christ) have desired and prayed "thy Kingdom come" throughout the "night" of the Gospel age while waiting for the Millennial dawning; and how the judgments of the "day of trouble" which introduces the Millennial reign are necessary to teach the world righteousness. `Verses 10 and 11` show, however, that even those terrible lessons will be insufficient for some who, even in the land of uprightness (the Millennial or "new earth" state), will be unjust still, and refuse to recognize the mighty "hand" of God. Yet they shall see, and eventually all enemies of the Lord shall be destroyed.
`Verses 12-15` represent the faithful taking a glance backward, and acknowledging that the deliverance has been wholly God's work. "O Lord our God, other lords [rulers, powers] have had dominion over us [Sin, the great task-master, and his representatives in civil, ecclesiastical and financial despotism, including trusts, combines and every evil system which oppresses men at the present time;--some of which are now highly esteemed among the oppressed]; but of Thee only would we make mention [now as our ruler]--of thy name. They are dead, they will not live again; they are departed, they will not arise again: because thou hast visited and destroyed them and made every memorial of them to perish."--See Leeser's Translation.
Ah, yes! every power of evil and oppression shall be destroyed forever, never to rise again, when the kingdom is the Lord's and he is the Governor amongst the nations.
`Isa. 43:16,17`. "Thus saith the Lord,...who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters; which bringeth forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow." Nothing in this statement bears upon the case of any individual in the world: it is a statement respecting horses, chariots and armies. The Lord will bring low, even to destruction, all the implements of war; as is written, "He maketh wars to cease, unto the ends of the earth." When once the armies of strife have been overthrown, they shall never rise again; but the individuals who compose those armies are members of the Adamic race, whose redemption was secured by the great sacrifice for sin; and in due time each and all who have not yet come to a knowledge of the truth, must be brought to that knowledge, and have the opportunity of believing, obeying, and obtaining everlasting life through Christ.
`Obad. 16`. "For as they have drunk upon my holy mountain so shall all the nations drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as tho they had not been."
The Lord through the prophet describes (`verse 15`) the events of "the day of the Lord," the approaching time of trouble, in which all the nations (improperly translated heathen) shall come into judgment, and be caused to drink of the cup of the Lord's anger. (`Jer. 25:28,29`.) When the nations fall during the coming time of trouble it will mean their utter destruction, as was illustrated in Nebuchadnezzar's image of these nations (`Dan. 2:35,44,45`). The same destruction of the nations is pictured in Daniel's dream respecting the same Kingdoms (`Dan. 7:11-14,27`). But altho the nations shall never rise up again, and altho only God's Kingdom will thereafter be recognized, yet the people who composed the various nations, "all the families of the earth," shall come forth from the grave to be blessed by God's kings and priests--"the holy nation, the peculiar people, the Seed of Abraham."
Question. Please refer me to any of your writings explanatory of `Zech. 13:6`.
Answer. We have nothing treating `Zech. 13:6`. From the connection of `verse one` with the `preceding chapter`, it would seem to imply that in this day of trouble already commenced, there will be a general change of front on the part of religious teachers who will be so greatly ashamed of the false gospel which they have proclaimed, that they will desire to disavow their previous occupation. In this view the wounds would seem to indicate severe usage received by them from their former flocks. The hand is a symbol of power, and the wounding of the hand would seem to
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imply injury or destruction of the power or influence once exercised by these "shepherds." The wounds here mentioned seem to have no reference to the wounding of the hands of our Lord at the crucifixion: there is no connection apparent.
`Verse seven` seems to begin a totally different subject, no longer treating of the false shepherds and reprobate prophets, but of the true servants of God and the fact that God would permit trial and tribulations to come against such for their proving and development, nevertheless covering the little ones, the weak ones, with his hand--power.
Question. Is not the denomination known as "Disciples" on a proper basis of freedom? Is there any cause for considering it a section or ward in "that Great City, Babylon," from which the call is, "Come out of her, my people?"--`Rev. 18:1-5`.
Answer. The denomination known as "Disciples" professedly stands just where we stand and where the early Church stood, as respects its declaration that the Bible is the only standard for faith and practice. However, all will agree that very few churches of this denomination practice what they all theoretically profess. While they have no written creed, they very generally have an unwritten creed which is most positive and arbitrary in many respects and particulars. Were this not the case, every one of their gatherings would be very glad to welcome any servant of the truth who would attempt to prove his teachings by the Word of God only: and in such event, the "Disciple Denomination" would very speedily be thoroughly impregnated with what we denominate "present truth"--the "harvest" message.
If you have been so fortunate as to find one of the few congregations of "Disciples" where the spirit as
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well as the theory of liberty prevails, you have been extremely favored and are to be congratulated. And if your articles to the Standard are received when full liberty has been exercised in their preparation, this will be another subject for congratulation. Perhaps the test for yourself, the congregation and the management of the paper, is still future. Perhaps, as you come to get clearer views respecting present truth, and as you do not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (wisely, but boldly), you may find that the attitude toward you may change. Let us hope that they may prove to be true "Bereans" and will search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things be so: and that finding them they will lay hold of them with alacrity and zeal. If so, it will mean a great revival in the Church, a great blessing. But if the truth does not prove a savor of life unto life to the Church, it is very apt to prove the reverse--a savor of death unto death, and will mean violent opposition to you and to all others who in any manner or degree call in question the cherished dogmas of "Disciples."
We advise that you put the matter to the test earnestly, courageously, calmly; casting all your care upon the Lord. Let him mark out your way by his providence; on your part merely making sure that you are faithful to him--faithful to the truth as he sends it to you. We caution you, however, not to put your light under a bushel, and not to refuse further light for fear of consequences. "The fear of man bringeth a snare." Remember, that our Lord put his Word and himself on a parity, saying, "He that is ashamed of me and my Word, of him will I also be ashamed."
We shall expect to hear from you before very long, either that you have been greatly used and blessed to the good of the church you are connected with, helping them out of the darkness into the light of present truth, or that they have rejected your testimony and that you have stepped out of the system in order to preserve to yourself "the liberty wherewith Christ makes free."
IMMORTAL VS. INCORRUPTIBLE.
Question. The terms immortal, immortality, and incorruption, incorruptible are used in the Scriptures in a manner rather confusing to the average reader. Please state the distinction between them.
Answer. The translators have helped to confuse this subject by rendering the same Greek word whiles one way and whiles another: and while there are two Greek words used and with different thoughts, yet our English words Immortal, and Immortality, really represent the thoughts of both Greek words,--Aphthartos and Athanasia.
Coming down to the fine shades of meaning,-- Athanasia signifies, deathless, death-proof, that which cannot die. Aphthartos signifies, that which cannot corrupt.
(1) The following texts are the only ones in which Athanasia occurs:--
"This mortal must put on immortality," i.e., deathlessness. --`1 Cor. 15:53`.
"This mortal shall have put on immortality," i.e., deathlessness.--`1 Cor. 15:54`.
"Who [God] only hath immortality," i.e., deathlessness. --`1 Tim. 6:16`.
(2) The following texts show all the Scripture uses of Aphthartos and its derivative Aphtharsia:--
"Now unto the King eternal, immortal [aphthartos] --incorruptible]."--`1 Tim. 1:17`.
"A corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible [aphthartos]" one.--`1 Cor. 9:25`.
"The dead shall be raised incorruptible [aphthartos]." --`1 Cor. 15:52`.
"To an inheritance incorruptible [aphtharsia]."-- `1 Pet. 1:4`.
"Not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible [aphthartos]." --`1 Pet. 1:23`.
"Seek for glory, honor and immortality [aphtharsia-- incorruption]."--`Rom. 2:7`.
"Who brought life and immortality [aphtharsia-- incorruption] to light."--`2 Tim. 1:10`.
"It is sown in corruption, raised in incorruption [aphtharsia]."--`1 Cor. 15:42`.
"Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption [aphtharsia]."--`1 Cor. 15:50`.
"For this incorruptible must put on incorruption [aphtharsia]."--`1 Cor. 15:53`.
"When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption [aphtharsia]."--`1 Cor. 15:54`.
Applying this information, we find that altho the two words represent in many respects the same thought, yet by antithesis the Apostle brings out their shaded differences in `1 Cor. 15:53,54`, by using one word with reference to those saints who should be "asleep" or
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under the power of corruption and would put on a condition of incorruption by resurrection; while those saints who would remain until the "change" would pass from mortal to immortal (deathless) conditions. But both will be exactly alike, when the one group is resurrected and the other group is "changed" in the moment of death without an interim of sleep or corruption.
IS IT THE GENERAL OR THE FIRST RESURRECTION?
Question. Does the resurrection described in `1 Cor. 15:42-53`, include the whole world, or only the overcoming Church?
Answer. It does not at all refer to the world, but exclusively to the first resurrection--the Church's. This is evident from the reading of the common version. All having a share in it get "immortality," "incorruption," "glory," "power," and "a spiritual body." See `verses 42-44,53,54`. None are to get such blessings but the overcomers, the "blessed and holy that have part in the first [chief] resurrection on whom the second death hath no power," the class which will live and reign with Christ a thousand years.--`Rev. 20:4,6`.
Furthermore, the Greek text guards against the supposition that the resurrection described could be other than that of the Church by using emphasis which expressed in English would make `verse 42` read, "Thus also is the resurrection of the dead."
Question. Will deceased infants, begotten of justified parents in this age, have spiritual (angelic) being in the resurrection life? If not, what will differentiate them from other deceased infants? This question is suggested by the reading of the June 15th TOWER, page 181.
Answer. "That which is begotten of the flesh is flesh." Children under the conditions you mention are not begotten of the spirit, and hence will not be spirit beings. Their perfection will be of the human nature, accomplished (as with the remainder of the world) through the processes of restitution, during the "times of restitution"--the Millennial age. There will be no difference between these and the remainder of the world (children of unbelieving parents) during the Millennial age, except whatever may come to them in the natural way, in that they may be better born, less depraved in their natural organism. The justification feature mentioned by the Apostle (`1 Cor. 7:14`) and by us in the TOWER of June 15, page 181, applies merely to the present age, and to children before they reach years of discretion and personal responsibility. It merely signifies that the children of believing parents are subjects of divine providence, as well as their parents, during the present life, until they reach years of discretion; and that such will be under divine providence and leading, to the intent that they may be the better prepared for becoming obedient children of God on their own account at maturity. All mankind will ultimately come to favorable conditions, physical, mental and moral. This will mean no less favorable conditions for the children of believers in the next age, but more favorable conditions for others.
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THE SIN OF COVETOUSNESS.
--JULY 31.--`1 Kings 21:4-16`.--
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house."--`Ex. 20:17`.
JEZEBEL is marked by the incidents of this lesson, if we had no other record of her evil way, as being a most diabolical woman. The tenderness which belongs to her sex had entirely given place to the feeling of envy, pride and ambition, incident to her great exaltation to power as the wife of King Ahab. She was ready to instigate perjury, and the foulest of murder, to gratify her whims, or to please those who truckled to her vanity. And the terrible degradation to which the people of Israel and their elders, who were presumably of average or more than average intelligence, had descended, is shown by their willingness to obey their wicked queen, in utter disregard of their own consciences and of justice. It is doubtful whether our disgust should be greater with the queen, who instigated the evil, or with the elders, who so supinely became her tools to accomplish it. This shows, however, that where a people lose sight of the grand teachings of the law of the Lord, and come under the influence of the devil, through other religions, there is no knowing where the corruption of morals will end--all sense of justice and right seems to become obliterated in proportion as people are separated from the Lord and from the word of his testimony.
The fact that infidels of to-day are not always immoral is no contradiction of this thought, for altho they may reject the Lord in their hearts, they cannot reject
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nor get away from the influences of his law of justice which has come to be recognized throughout the entire civilized world, and made the basis of all civil law. Besides, they are continually in touch with Christian influences, and some of them (for instance, Robert Ingersoll) received from Christian parents a good moral basis of character, which would not exhaust in one generation, even tho the faith were lost from it.
The beginning of this crime perpetrated by Jezebel and the elders of Israel--the murder of Naboth-- was Ahab's sin of covetousness. He coveted Naboth's vineyard, and wished to purchase it, and, as the sequel shows, altho he did not perpetrate the crime of murder himself, he was quite satisfied with the crime and its results, and hastened to appropriate the murdered man's vineyard at the earliest opportunity. There is a great lesson here for Christian people to-day. While the crime of murder is recognized and
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thoroughly reprobated, the crime of covetousness is now not only general and common, but almost approved as proper. It seems to be generally practised, and almost without a suspicion as to its being wrong, sinful, condemned of the Lord, and fruitful of many evil works of the flesh and of the devil.
We do not mean to charge as covetousness a desire to prosper as well as one's neighbor: desires are covetous when we wish to possess and enjoy that which we see in the possession of our neighbor: it implies a willingness to take from him a part or all of his prosperity, and to appropriate the same to ourselves. This spirit of covetousness may be readily discerned among business men and manufacturers; less readily discerned, but nevertheless present, in the ranks of labor, and in the social circle. It is unnecessary to point out how business people envy one another success, and seek to attract from one another the trade which brings the success. And in the ranks of labor, especially where competition is open, it is not infrequently the case that the workman will disparage the work or character of a fellow-workman, in order to have favor with the overseer or employer, or in hope of personal advancement. These are illustrations of covetousness in operation.
In society it works very stealthily, very quietly, fearing that it should react upon the covetous one unfavorably; hence, in society, the effort to undermine the character of another and thereby to advance one's self in the good graces of others, is kept under cover, and ably assisted by its yoke-fellow, hypocrisy. When covetousness sees another occupying a preferred place, it stealthily conceals the dagger with which it would smite the Naboth that thwarts its ambitions. It sometimes assumes a mask of love, and strikes the dagger of scandal under professions of love and esteem, or of pity and sympathy. At other times it has the hypocritical mask of duty, religion, fidelity to God, etc., while it seeks to stab Naboth in his vitals, and to gain possession of the vineyard coveted,--or whatever it may be.
Nor is the Church of God free from those who have this spirit of covetousness. It inspires many petty jealousies and envyings and strifes as to which should be greater, for honorable positions, etc. And how many large and small scandals have been the results of covetousness, and a desire to break down the influence of one, for the purpose of establishing the influence of another, or of himself or herself?
Ahab's covetousness was of the most approved kind, in that it sought to act through others, and stoned Naboth to death by proxy, rather than directly by his own act. That Ahab fully endorsed the conduct of Jezebel is shown by his ready acceptance of the fruits of her villainy; and this fact, in connection with the fact that the Lord sent the reproof as much to Ahab as to Jezebel, leaves room for the inference that he had intentionally worked upon the feelings of Jezebel, with a view to getting her (more courageous for wickedness than himself) to devise and carry out plans for the satisfaction of his covetousness. So some to-day seem to feel free to covet the possessions of others --social, religious, financial or otherwise--and to take possession of these, if possible, but they strive to have the dirtiest part of the work done by others, or at least not directly by themselves. But such unquestionably are sharers in every crime to which their covetousness by any road may lead others.
Let all who have named the name of Christ be especially on guard respecting this deceptive covert sin; and the best ounce of protection that we can take against it (far better than any pound of cure after it has entered in) is to have our hearts permeated with the spirit of love, of which we are told, "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor." And more than this, "Love envieth not, seeketh not her own [interests merely, but is concerned for the interests of others] is kind, helpful, generous, good."
As an illustration of how hypocrisy usually accompanies covetousness, seeking to cover up the real motives and intentions not only from fellow-creatures, but from one's own conscience, and from the Lord, note in this lesson how Jezebel accomplished her purpose through the appointment of a feast, and the giving of Naboth, the victim, a seat of honor in connection therewith. Alas, that it must be said that religion has often been injured by being made the tool of hypocrisy and covetousness. And similar principles are still at work in the world, and the same great prime mover and instigator of evil is still master of ceremonies, and as willing as ever to help forward every wicked cause and to prosper the evil work and way of the covetous. "We are not ignorant of his devices."
"My soul, be on thy guard,
Ten thousand foes arise;
The hosts of sin are pressing hard
To draw thee from the prize."
But while the Lord did not interfere to protect Naboth, nor to prevent the machinations of the Evil One and his servants, he nevertheless took note of the evil, and did not permit it to pass unpunished. Accordingly, when Ahab went in to take possession of the vineyard, and to rejoice his heart that his covetous desires had reached accomplishment, the Lord sent Elijah to meet him in the vineyard. Ahab recognized the prophet at once, and evidently smitten by his conscience, exclaimed: "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?" And Elijah answered, "I have found thee, because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight
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of the Lord." Then follows the prophecy of violent deaths to his children, and that the dogs should eat Jezebel; all literally fulfilled later.
However, Ahab was learning to have great confidence in the word of Elijah, and in the power of Jehovah; and when he heard this prophecy, "he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth and went softly." On account of this degree of repentance the Lord sent word through Elijah that the calamities prophesied would not be in Ahab's day, but in the days of his sons. The fact that sinners may for a time go unpunished, the Apostle Peter shows us, is a mark of God's patience and forbearance, and not an indication that he will not reward both the welldoer and the evildoer.
Some one has said, "Covetousness is like drinking the salt waters of the sea, which only increase the thirst; or like piling wood on the fire, which only makes it burn the fiercer; or like climbing higher, which only enlarges the horizon of the desires." The only covetousness encouraged by the spirit of righteousness and the Word of the Lord is that mentioned by the Apostle, "Covet earnestly the best gifts"--the gifts of divine grace, which neither rob others, nor make God the poorer.
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ELIJAH'S SUCCESSOR, ELISHA.
--AUG. 7.--`2 KINGS 2:6-15`.--
"How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask it!"--`Luke 11:13`.
IT WOULD appear that the lesson which the Lord taught Elijah by the wind, the earthquake, the lightning, and the still, small voice, was appreciated and acted upon. Elijah had expected the Reformation word to go forward like a terrific windstorm or like the earthquake, or like the fiery lightning, and when it did not take such form, he fled, discouraged, from the scene of his efforts, and wished to die. Now, he was to understand that the reformation was to work more secretly, more quietly, in the hearts of the people, before it would give great outward manifestations. The Lord's inquiry of him, "What doest thou here, Elijah?" evidently gave him to see that he had discontinued the Lord's work, and for the time was out of the service; but, under the Lord's direction, he returned, and began again his work in Israel, following more closely the lines indicated by his lesson, seeking to have the people hear "the still, small voice," the
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Lord's message to their consciences. Nor can we doubt that he was greatly encouraged to reengage in this work, by the Lord's assurance that altho his people were not courageous, not bold in defence of the truth, and in opposition to evil, but rather lacking in firmness and courage, nevertheless there were yet seven thousand persons in Israel who had not been so weak-kneed as to bow to Baal.
After attending to his commission, to anoint Hazael and Jehu, and Elisha, the prophet seems to have given his special attention to the founding of "schools of the prophets" in various parts of the land of Israel. These would appear to have been prophetic schools, gatherings of religious men, faithful to Jehovah, who desired to learn his will and word and law more particularly. And these in turn, we may suppose, exercised in their various communities a wholesome influence for righteousness, and the worship of the true God. Thus the "still, small voice" was operating. The gain in influence and respect for the true worship, as opposed to idolatry, is manifest from the fact that Jezebel, altho still as bitterly opposed as ever, seemingly made no effort to interfere with Elijah, or with the schools of the prophets; whereas, before, she had caused the death of a similar class. Public opinion, altho not very pronounced at that time, nevertheless had to be respected, and that in proportion as the truth set the people free from the superstitions of error.
There are many profitable lessons for us of the present day, along these same lines. The great antitypical Jezebel, "the mother of harlots," alarmed the reformers of the sixteenth century by her threats, and caused them to flee and to desert many of the prominent principles of the Reformation, for fear of the consequences; yet in the Lord's due time the antitypical Elijah--the Church--was refreshed in spirit, and learned the lesson that God's revolutions were not to be expected along the lines of wholesale conversions from sin to righteousness, from ignorance to knowledge, from error to truth; but that the truth was to be inculcated gradually, and was to do its work among the people, as the "still, small voice" of righteousness, of conscience, of God. It is along these lines that the truth has been progressing for the last three centuries.
Moreover, in connection with the present "harvest truth," many of us have been at first inclined to expect powerful reactions, social upheavals, lightning-like transitions "out of darkness into his marvelous light," as it is now shining. And the failure of such expectations is inclined to send us away into the wilderness, discouraged, as was the case with our prototype, Elijah. We, like him, are to learn lessons, that the inculcation of truth, according to the Lord's plan, is to be a gradual work, and we, like him, are to perseveringly engage in its gradual spread. Now, as then, "those who fear the Lord speak often together"--
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come together as schools for the study of prophecy,-- for the study of the "good, acceptable and perfect will of God." Now, as then, these schools or gatherings of persons sufficiently interested to desire to know the will of the Lord, are on the increase.
The time came for the end of Elijah's work, and for Elisha to take his place and do the Lord's work along slightly different lines. Elijah and Elisha were men of totally different types; Elisha was an influential and comparatively wealthy farmer, as is indicated by the large number of oxen working under his supervision, and presumably upon his own farm--twelve yokes of oxen. We may presume him to have been a man of considerably more personal refinement than Elijah, and that he dressed differently accordingly. Elijah was known as the man with the leathern girdle about his loins, and a mantle, which sometimes he wore, and sometimes he removed,--generally living in wilderness places; and, we may presume that he had rather a rustic and wild appearance.
Elijah's method of announcement to Elisha that he was invited to become an associate in the work, and his intimation that he might be the successor in the office of servant of the Lord, as prophet, was indicated by throwing his mantle over Elisha's shoulder, Elijah removing the mantle again, and continuing on his journey. Elisha understood the matter, and quite evidently was whole-hearted, inasmuch as we see no evidence of halting between two opinions. He decided at once that he would accept the opportunity; telling Elijah that he would be with him directly, as soon as he had bidden farewell to his parents. Then, by way of manifesting to the Lord and to the people his appreciation of this call to the service of a prophet, he made a feast to the people, and shortly after joined Elijah.
As Elijah represents the Church of this Gospel age, so we understand that Elisha represents the successors of the Church of this age, the class which will take up the work of the Lord as successors to the Elijah class, after the latter has been joined to the Lord in the invisible heavenly Kingdom--"changed," translated, become spirit beings, according to the power of the first resurrection. In harmony with this view, we find that Elisha was not called until about the close of Elijah's service--"when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven."
Our lesson shows that, while Elijah had called Elisha according to divine direction, and while Elisha had started to keep Elijah company, yet the latter seemed bent on separating himself from Elisha, requesting him frequently to tarry at the different schools of the prophets which they visited, namely, at Gilgal, at Bethel and at Jericho. But no argument persuaded Elisha to desert Elijah; he seemed to understand that the degree of his blessing would depend upon the closeness of his company with Elijah, and this evidently was the truth, and the attempts to have him stop at the various places on the journey were with a view to testing his earnestness and fidelity. Had he stopped he would not have received the great blessing which he eventually got.
Applying this as a type at the present time, we see that the time for the taking up of the Elijah class, "the overcomers," "the little flock," of this Gospel age, has arrived. An Elisha class mingles with the overcomers, yet is a separate class; and various trials, disappointments and siftings are encountered, the design of which is to have these, if they will, turn back, separate themselves from the Elijah company, and those who are sifted out by the way will neither be of the one class nor the other, according to our understanding of this type and also of the general Scriptures.
Elisha's special desire, above all things, was to have a large measure of the spirit of the Lord, the same spirit which had operated through Elijah, and this was his prayer: "I pray that a double portion of thy spirit may be upon me." Elijah's answer to this request implies that the faithfulness of the Elisha class will have to do with the measure of the Elijah spirit which will descend to it. So we understand it will be with all who become the successors of the Gospel Church as representatives of the Lord and his cause in the end of this age. The larger the degree of their sympathy and fellowship with the overcoming Church, the larger will be the blessing which will come to them consequently and the larger will be their future privileges in connection with the work of the Lord.
A chariot of the Lord, with horses as of fire, parted Elijah from Elisha. It is easier to understand the type than to fully comprehend what its antitype will be. The chariot of fire undoubtedly typified the chariot of glory--the change from human to spirit conditions, which will separate the little flock from humanity, and by which the Lord will receive them unto himself. But it may also signify more than this, for fire and brightness are not only used as symbols of glory, but also as symbols for the trials and difficulties by which the Lord's people are prepared for glory: thus, the Apostle speaks of "the fiery trials which shall try you." The chariot of fire may therefore signify also, that the last members of the Gospel Church will be separated from the world under very trying circumstances, fiery trials; but that these, nevertheless, will be merely the agencies, the chariots by which the Lord will receive them to himself.
Furthermore, the record is that Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind; and applying this to the last members
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of the Church, would seem to indicate trouble also, because whirlwinds are used symbolically in the Scriptures to represent trouble. We will, therefore, not be surprised if the last members of the Church, the body of Christ to be taken to the Lord, should be taken in the midst of fiery trials and a whirlwind of trouble. This seems to be indicated by another type of the same class, given us in the Scriptures--John the Baptist, who was imprisoned and finally beheaded.*
Having seen Elijah to the last, Elisha understood that his request was to be granted, and that a double portion of the spirit of the Lord, which was with Elijah, should be upon him. He took up the fallen mantle of Elijah as his own, and coming to the river Jordan, smote it with the mantle, as Elijah had done, saying, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" That is to say, Is not the Lord God of Elijah with me? If so, then the same power of God exercised through Elijah will be exercised through me. And his faith was rewarded, for Jordan was divided, as for Elijah. Thenceforth he was the chief teacher in the schools which Elijah had established, and was so recognized.
We do not understand that Elijah was taken to heaven, in the same sense that the Gospel Church will be taken to heaven. Elijah was taken up into heaven physically, while the Church is to be "changed," because
*See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., Chap. 8.
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"flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." But Elijah was flesh and blood, human; Elijah had no change of nature; he lived before the time of the call to the divine nature; which began with the Gospel age. He therefore did not go to heaven, in the sense that the Church will go to heaven. He was not greater than John the Baptist, of whom our Lord said, "There hath not arisen a greater prophet than John the Baptist, and yet I say unto you that the least one in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." The Kingdom of Heaven class was not started until our dear Redeemer's first advent, when he gave himself a ransom for all, and began the selection of the little flock, the Kingdom class. And it was his own testimony through John, centuries after Elijah's day, that "No man hath ascended up to heaven save he which came down from heaven, even the Son of Man." (`Jno. 3:13`.) Elijah, therefore, according to the Scriptures, could have no higher position than that of the other prophets of his time, including John the Baptist, all honorably mentioned by the Apostle (`Heb. 11:38-40`): "of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth,... and these all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise [the things promised]: God having provided some better thing for us [the Gospel Church], that they without us should not be made perfect." Elijah, as one of these prophets, will be honored and blessed after the antitypical Elijah (the Gospel Church) has been glorified.
Nor does the fact that Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration have any bearing upon the case, or in any manner or degree prove that he did not die; for, as we have already shown, the scene on the Mount of Transfiguration was a vision (see Lesson in TOWER, April 1). If there were anything to prove that Elijah had not yet tasted death in the full sense of the word, it would still not prove that he had been changed to spiritual conditions, but merely that he had been carried physically away from the earth, and miraculously preserved elsewhere for a season or time: but inasmuch as we see nothing to be accomplished by this, it is our understanding that, while he was taken up from Elisha in the chariot of fire, he no doubt was buried somewhere by the Lord, just as Moses was buried secretly.
The story of Elijah, and especially of the record of the end of his career can only be understood properly when recognized as being typical of the matters connected with the Gospel Church, and the close of its career. Let each one who hopes to be of the glorified body of Christ seek to be faithful to the Lord, after the example of Elijah, and according to the instructions of his Word, and the leading of his spirit, to-day; that we may be among those who shall be accounted worthy to be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, in death. Faithful is he who has called us, who also will do for us all that he has so graciously promised, ultimately transforming us to the perfection of his own divine nature.--`2 Pet. 1:4`.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I found a good interest at the last two points where I preached. To our joy the prejudice of many people is cooling greatly, while the bigots and self-willed are enraged wonderfully.
At some places near here, where ten years ago I could not have gotten a hearing, they now invite me to meet them and preach for them. But those whose "craft" is in danger are not enjoying this. Our prayer is, Speed on the good work and let God's name be glorified.
Yours in the work, S. WILLIAMS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Your discourse in the TOWER, "Remember the Sabbath Day," presents a grand and wonderful view of the Christian Sabbath which my mind had never conceived. I truly join you in the earnest wish that all Christians could see it so: that our God is too gracious to us who are his to limit our Sabbath of rest to a single day of the week, but on the contrary extends it through all the days of all the weeks of all the years of our Christian life, during which we may rest in full assurance of the ransom paid for us by our great Redeemer, free from any passionate anxiety concerning our final deliverance, of which no man needs try to assure us, because God has been pleased to seal us with his own holy disposition --the earnest of our inheritance. It is marvelous light to me, giving me, if possible, a more exalted opinion of our infinitely gracious Heavenly Father.
Arrangements for my future colporteur work are
quite satisfactory. The Lord continues to bless me in interesting some, and my course in the community produces great commotion, and a few have gone about to "trim their lamps." There is much here to be done. I find the leading "Reverends" among the most offended. But public ridicule and increase of opposition seem only to brighten the splendor of the prize which is spiritually discerned.
Very truly, Yours in the service of our present Lord, J. A. BROWNE.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It is some time now since I last wrote to you about matters here in Denmark. We have had much sickness all around among our little company this winter; so much that we have had to stop our meetings for several weeks. Now Springtime is here, and with it comes new energy and a better feeling, and we are now a good deal better in health.
We are holding MILLENNIAL DAWN Meetings in a small hall every Tuesday evening, and these meetings are well attended. The people are glad to hear these good tidings we are proclaiming; the interest is constantly increasing among God's people here; many are reading the DAWNS and have accepted their teaching into good and honest hearts, and the fruit will surely come, in the Lord's own time, to his praise. I believe there are many of his true sheep here, many who realize the voice of the Shepherd; as Jesus says, "I know mine, and am known of mine." Yet, it is only a "little flock" that will be chosen and elected, out of these many millions of church people.
The WATCH TOWER is received here regularly, and is ever warmly welcome. I know of nothing to compare with it, as a herald of the glad tidings to God's people. With much Christian love to you all and kind greetings, wishing you God's blessings, and upon the harvest work,
Your brother and fellow-servant of Christ,
I. S. WINTER.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have not written for a long time, but you have not been absent from my mind, and I now take this opportunity of thanking you for the benefit and pleasure received from perusing your last labor of love, DAWN, VOL. IV. I have read it carefully twice, and I received more pleasure and strength from the second perusal than the first. While I had already a very fair outline of the general features of the great time of trouble from the study of the TOWERS and DAWNS and God's Word in connection with them, and from observing the signs of the times through their light, yet I had no conception how much the leading thinkers of the world corroborated the prophetic evidences. It almost seems as if they were all ripe for the truth and must, perforce, accept it as soon as brought to their attention. But sober reflection, in memory of my poor success in interesting the most likely cases within my knowledge in the truth, endorses God's Word--that Satan is exerting a blinding influence on all but those whom God is calling. In this volume you have given us a systematic, logical, Scriptural and exhaustive presentation of this important subject; you have called up in evidence the opinion and conclusions and warnings of leaders of thought from every strata of society, and every creed and party and field of public life: and I hope that we shall all be blessed and edified and encouraged by the results of your labor and God's guidance: thereby realizing that we have not read God's Word amiss, not followed cunningly devised fables, but may in consequence be sure that our redemption draweth nigh.
By what some might think an odd coincidence, during the last few weeks, a large number of pamphlets have come to my hand, the work of writers apparently disinterested and earnest for the well being of others, which completely harmonize with the teachings of Scripture on these times: but who have no knowledge of either DAWN or God's Word in connection with current events, and yet who can see the present trend of events with startling clearness, but each imagines that his remedy is the one thing needful.
We have still some trouble occasionally here: chiefly from Mr. C. (I can no longer call him brother). For nearly two years at every possible opportunity he has forced us to listen to "holiness" theories and tried to compel us to accept a hash of present truth and Methodism until we were obliged to send him a written request to absent himself from our meetings and seek more congenial society, and this has been a rather unpleasant step. This he has declined to do on the ground that he is the father of the Church here and intends to look after us. He has often told us that none of our number were even justified, to say nothing of being consecrated, and has sometimes included himself in the same category. So far as I am capable of judging he held and taught the truth clearly some four years ago, but he has seemed to be getting gradually into denser darkness for half that time, and he seems to attend our meetings for the purpose of annoyance.
Jude intimates, in his epistle, that the falling away during the Gospel age will be on three lines:--typified by Cain, Balaam and Korah. Does this mean (1) approaching God under the cover of a different sacrifice to the one he had appointed, (2) covetousness, and (3) envy?
Your brother in Christ, SMITH WALKER.
[It is for the Church (each little company meeting for communion, fellowship and the study of holy things) to decide the character of the meetings and the leaders of the same according to their best judgment of the Lord's will as expressed in his Word. Any attempted deviation from this Scriptural rule should be kindly but firmly resented. And, furthermore, only those who profess both justification and full consecration should be recognized as having a voice on such matters. Such as have not the Spirit of the Lord surely could not know the mind of the Lord.
I think that you correctly interpret Jude's teaching. And who cannot see that these three points are the causes of stumbling in nearly every instance--and especially among those who have talents and who aspire to be used in the Lord's service. Let us beware of these seductions of the Adversary, (1) a rejection of the ransom, (2) covetousness of wealth or honor or fame, (3) envy, malice, hatred, strife as against others more liberally endowed with talents or more favorably situated for service.--EDITOR.]