VOL. XIII. OCTOBER 1, 1892. NO. 19.
ZEAL ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE.
"The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up."--`John 2:17`.
The correctness of our interpretation of Scripture, set forth in these columns thirteen years ago, relative to what would be the ground of the testing of God's people during this harvest time, is year by year more fully demonstrated.
We then showed that the prophecy which declares, "He shall be for a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel" (`Isa. 8:14`), refers to Israel after the Flesh and Israel after the Spirit; and that as the testing and sifting of the fleshly house came in the end or "harvest" of their age (the Jewish age), so the testing and sifting of the spiritual house is due now, in the end or harvest of this age (the Gospel age).
And we showed, to the satisfaction of ourselves and the majority of the TOWER readers, that the testing of the spiritual house (strange though it seems) will be upon the same question of faith with which the fleshly house was tested--namely, the cross of Christ. Not that any now doubt, nor that any in the Jewish harvest doubted, the fact that our Lord died, or that he died upon a cross; for that fact cannot be questioned. The test with the Jews was whether or not they would accept the sacrifice there finished as the ransom-sacrifice which paid the penalty of their sins and justified the believer. This they refused to believe; and thus they made the cross of Christ of none effect, of no value. The Apostle states this pointedly of them, saying: "We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block."--See `1 Cor. 1:17-24`.
Similarly the nominal Gospel Church is now to undergo a test upon this same subject-- whether each accepts the work of Christ as the full ransom (corresponding-price), the complete "propitiation [satisfaction] for our [the Church's] sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." And, the Lord's Word for it, the vast majority will stumble, and only a faithful remnant will stand the test. The Lord's tests are very simple, but very thorough.
It may be said, This is the last issue upon which a testing might be expected, since all "orthodox" Christians have held it tenaciously, even during the dark ages. Yes, we answer, this is one item of truth which has been constantly held, even though surrounded in every case with various contradictory errors: it has thus been held unreasonably, held in unrighteousness, held without being fully appreciated, but nevertheless held. And it is because this doctrine of the ransom has been held, and that as the foundation of faith, that even in the dark ages, and in the midst of great corruption, the nominal church has been recognized of God at all, or been worthy at all of the name "Christian."
Had the doctrine of the ransom been held intelligently and reasonably, it would have hindered its holders from falling into any of the great errors with which the doctrines of Christendom abound. With a correct view of the ransom (a corresponding price), where could the doctrine come in which claims that the wages of sin is everlasting torment? Was the
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suffering of eternal torment the ransom-price which our Lord gave for all? or was his death our ransom? What saith the Scriptures? It would have settled the question of natural immortality of man beyond dispute. It would speedily have settled the question of the Trinity. The holding of the ransom is the key to every truth. It is the center or "hub" from which all other truths must radiate to the circumference of the divine plan for salvation.
Because this truth is generally held unintelligently, and in the midst of various contradictory errors (in unrighteousness), therefore, now that the testing time has come, and God is bringing it as an issue or "stone of stumbling" before Christendom, the large majority are willing to cling to the errors and let go the ransom.
And those who reject the errors of eternal torment, and who are inclined to go to the opposite extreme, and to hope for the everlasting salvation of all men, would be saved from that error, too, if they would but hold to the ransom, giving it its full signification. For, if the Scriptural account be admitted, that condemnation of death resulted from Adam's wilful sin (`Rom. 5:12`), and that the death of our Lord Jesus, finished at Calvary, was the ransom (corresponding price--See the definition of "ransom," Greek, antilutron, in Young's Analytical Concordance), then it must also be admitted that whoever will fail in the new trial, and hence be condemned in that judgment, will be subject to the same penalty that was originally inflicted upon all in Adam. This second trial results directly, under God's grace, from the ransom-sacrifice; and God has appointed that the world's Redeemer shall be the Judge, in that Millennial judgment-day. (`Rom. 14:9`; `Acts 17:31`.) Because it is the penalty of the second trial, this sentence is Scripturally called "Second Death." And it is not difficult to see that if God's law was such that he could not clear the sinner without giving a ransom for the first transgression, so also if any were ever to be released from Second Death (which God has not even hinted at), it would require a ransom for each one tried, found guilty and sentenced.
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But as some are so anxious to hold to eternal torment that they will let go of the ransom, when they see the two doctrines to be in conflict, so others, when they decide that they want to believe in the everlasting salvation of all men, and find the doctrine of the ransom contradicting them, they feel that the doctrine of the ransom must be gotten rid of, and they drop it. The Scriptures show that only such can have everlasting life as come willingly into oneness with Christ and his laws, when the full knowledge and opportunity are offered; and that this opportunity will end with the Millennial age, beyond which sin and sinners cannot go to mar, or even to endanger, the felicity of eternity.
But since they are very anxious to propagate their views, it becomes necessary for us as true under-shepherds to point out the fallacy of their position, to those sheep who have an ear to hear the voice of the Chief Shepherd, and to follow him. They perceive that the issue is well taken, and hence make every effort to "get around" the difficulty. To do this they are all agreed; and hence they are in this respect in sympathy and fellowship, no matter how different their theories may otherwise be, and make common cause against the WATCH TOWER publications, which defend the doctrine of the ransom.
As a matter of fact, each party (represented by a journal) tries to dodge the ransom in a different manner. One, totally ignoring the meaning of the word ransom, claims that it refers to the forcible deliverance of men from death; another says the ransom was given by our Lord when he left the heavenly glory to become the man Christ Jesus; another says that the living example of our Lord while among men was the ransom; and another now comes forward claiming that our Lord is now making the ransom, that even since his ascension he has been expiating the sins of the world in heaven, and that this work of ransoming will not be finished until the end of the Millennial age.--This last twist becomes the wretchedly thin foundation for another "no-ransom" journal, just started, called "The Herald of Glad Tidings." It is no better and no worse
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than the others--"The World's Hope," "Spirit of the Word" and "Herald of the Morning."
What wresting and twisting and dodging! one way and another, to avoid the real issue, and to get around the many plain statements of Scripture to the effect that "Christ died FOR OUR SINS;" that it was "the man Christ Jesus who GAVE HIMSELF a ransom [a corresponding price] for all." The thought of these people seems to be, any argument or theory is good that sets aside or gets around the Bible statements that the ransom for sinners was "finished" (`John 19:30`) when our Redeemer died on the cross at Calvary.
We denominate all of these as "no-ransom" views; for although they all use the word ransom, it is only to blind, to confuse, and to lead the minds of their readers away from the real and only ransom-sacrifice, and from the real and only meaning of the word ransom (antilutron--a corresponding price).
Let those who seek to serve the Lord know that his truth is his representative, and let them cast their influence, all of it, on the right side of this momentous question which is now the testing, the stumbling question, to all those who are not loyal soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb. Show your loyalty to him who gave himself a ransom for all. (`Tit. 1:13`; `2:15`.) Leave no doubt with any as to just where you stand. However much others may seek to dodge and evade the truth on this subject, let us be true to God and his Word. (`1 Pet. 2:19`; `Matt. 5:16`; `Rom. 3:4`.) As soon as we see that any teacher (or would-be teacher), whether a human being, or a paper published by a human being, is wrong on this one, central and vital point--the ransom-- evading, misrepresenting and misapplying the word and doctrine to some other sense than the true one--"a corresponding price" for all--we should have nothing further to do with such person or journal until it fully and openly acknowledges the error and retracts it heartily.
The Lord's instructions to us are very pointed on this matter, and leave no doubt as to the course of duty and loyalty. The Apostle Paul says (`Rom. 16:17`), "Brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned [from inspired sources]; and avoid them." Surely, among all the doctrines taught us by Christ and the apostles and prophets, no other is of so vital importance as the doctrine of the ransom. Hence those who reject the Scriptural statement that our Lord Jesus gave himself a corresponding price, a substitute, a ransom for all, are to be rejected from recognition as Brethren, and even to be avoided.
The Apostle John says: "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you [man or paper, professing to be a teacher], and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." (Compare `2 John 9-11`; `Gal. 1:8,9`; `2 Tim. 3:5`; `Titus 3:10`.) Thus it is evident that we who would follow closely the way marked out for us have not much liberty or choice in our attitude toward those who deny the very foundation of our faith--however much they may desire to company with us. Compare also the rules respecting immoral persons who desire fellowship (`1 Cor. 5:11`; `Eph. 5:11`; `2 Thes. 3:6-14`), although there is generally less danger from such than from those who become doctrinally corrupted.
The present King commands his faithful servants who have not cast off the "wedding garment" of his imputed righteousness (faith in his blood [sacrifice] for the forgiveness of sins), concerning those who reject it, saying, "Bind him hand and foot [i.e., restrain his influence by thoroughly answering his arguments], and cast him into outer darkness." (`Matt. 22:13`.) Reject such a one from any fellowship which would mark him or her as a Brother or Sister in Christ. Soon such will be in the outer darkness of worldly confusion and uncertainty, called Agnosticism, saying, "I don't know surely what is truth."
It is not the question whether this course is worldly-wise, but whether or not it is in conformity with God's Word. The wisdom of
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men and the policy of men and the theories of men are all foolishness with God. It is the essence of wisdom to obey God. Let us do it.
In all this we advocate no harshness, no bitterness, no unkindness; but firmness for God and for the truth. Let the spirit of love rule in our hearts--love which is first of all true and loyal to God, his truth and his Church. "The zeal of thine house [Church] hath eaten me up."
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PAY THY VOWS UNTO THE MOST HIGH.
The `Fiftieth Psalm` furnishes food for most profitable meditation to the consecrated. It starts with a precious reminder of the glory that is shortly to be revealed in and through the faithful. Taking the standpoint of the Church's future completeness and glory, it says (`verse 1`): "The mighty God, even Jehovah, speaketh [through the glorified Church, the Christ, Head and body], and calleth the earth from the rising of the Sun ["the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in his wings"--`Mal. 4:2`] unto the going down thereof" [i.e., from the beginning to the close of the Millennial day, Jehovah, through his Anointed, will be calling the earth to repentance and to righteousness and eternal life]. `Verse 2`: "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty [out of the Church exalted and glorified], God shineth forth" [his glorious character and plan are made known].
But `verse 3` reminds us that that time is yet future, and begins to describe the coming of the Lord, while the `following verses` discourse as to the first work of his presence.
`Verse 3`. "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire ['the fire of his jealousy'] shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him." It will be the tempest of the great time of trouble so often and so variously and vividly described elsewhere.
`Verse 4`. "He shall call to the heavens above, and to the earth, to judge his people." In this time of the Lord's presence and the harvest of the Gospel age, all who claim to be his people --i.e., all "Christendom," Christ's kingdom, falsely so-called, or "Babylon" as named in the Scriptures (`Rev. 16:19`)--are brought into judgment before the assembled hosts of heaven and earth--angels and men. Already this judgment of "Christendom," "Babylon," is in progress: hence the late overhauling and demanded revision of the hitherto accepted and unquestioned creeds of its various sects. And hence, too, the unsparing criticisms of nominal Christianity by the world at large, in the secular press, etc., calling attention to its traditional errors, and to its untenable positions. It is now recognized as a self-contradictory mouthpiece of God.
`Verse 5` is the command of the now present Lord of the harvest, to the reapers, to separate the true wheat from the great bundles of tares in Babylon--"Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me [not merely by the lips, but] by [actual] sacrifice" --those who have faithfully carried out the solemn covenant of entire devotedness to the Lord.
`Verse 6`. "And the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God himself is judge." In that judgment which heaven and earth are called upon to witness, and which shall closely discriminate between the wheat and the tares, and effectually separate them, "the heavens [the kingdom of God which will be established as the outcome of this judgment] shall declare his [God's] righteousness; for God himself [who cannot err] is [the] judge."
The `following verses` of the chapter sum up charges brought against God's nominal people, while `verses 14,15,22 and 23` interpose a word of wise counsel for those who will receive it.
`Verse 7`. "Hear, O my people [ye who claim to be my people by a solemn covenant], and I will speak: O Israel [nominal spiritual Israel], and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God. Not because of thy sacrifices will I reprove thee; and thy burnt offerings [free-will offerings, such as benevolent works, etc.] are continually before me." But
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such works cannot commend them to God in that day of judgment; for, said Jesus, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? and then will I say unto them, I never approved of you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (`Matt. 7:22,23`.) These have been "false prophets" (`Matt. 7:15`), "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (`Matt. 15:9`.) For their own erroneous theories they have claimed divine authority; and though in going about to establish their own righteousness they have done "many wonderful works," those works are not acceptable to God, because they have not submitted themselves to his plans and methods.
`Verses 9-13` declare God's independence of their works, and intimate his perfect ability to accomplish the blessing of the world according to his own plan without their assistance. "I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds; for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof. Will I eat flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?" --Am I in need of your wisdom or works, or in any way dependent upon your gifts? No-- "Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the Most High." (`Verse 14`.) What have any of us to offer unto the Lord that we did not first receive from him, and that should not therefore be thankfully received and used according to the directions of his plan? And this is what all who have consecrated themselves to God have covenanted to do. It is therefore obligatory upon all such that they pay their vows, fulfil their covenant unto the Most High.
True, in the faithful fulfilling of a covenant of entire consecration to God there is much to endure in the way of reproach and persecution from the world (`2 Tim. 3:12`), but to such the Lord through the Prophet (`verse 15`) says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou [by thy testimony and faithfulness] shalt glorify me."
`Verses 16,17`. "But unto the wicked God saith" [But bear in mind that the wicked here referred to are not unrighteous people of the world; for, according to `verse 7`, this testimony is borne against those who claim to be the Lord's people, and members of the spiritual house of Israel. These "wicked" are the covenant breakers among those who still claim to be faithful people of God.]--unto these God saith, "What hast thou to do to declare my statutes [decrees, doctrines] or that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth? seeing thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee." The Lord will not hold them guiltless who, professing entire consecration to him, nevertheless despise instruction and cast his words behind them while they cling to their own traditions and theories; "For," says the Apostle, "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold down [Greek katecho-- hold down or suppress] the truth in unrighteousness." (`Rom. 1:18`.) This is what the various ecclesiastical systems of Great Babylon have been guilty of for centuries past: they have taught their own false doctrines and have claimed for them the divine authority of the Word of God. In doing so, they have unjustly suppressed the truth: they have hated instruction and have cast the words of the Lord behind them whenever they were brought forward to testify against them or their plans.
What right, the Prophet inquires, have such covenant breakers to declare the plan of God? None whatever. Such unfaithful and "wicked and slothful" servants are hindered by their errors from seeing truths now due. Having been unfaithful to the measure of truth received, they are not permitted to know, and hence cannot declare, the deeper things of God--the breadth and scope of his wonderful plan. "Light is sown for the righteous" who faithfully and thankfully receive and disseminate it, "and gladness [the gladness which comes from a realization of the truth] for the upright in heart." --`Psa. 97:11`.
But the testimony against this class proceeds --`Verse 18`--"When thou sawest a thief [one desirous of robbing God's children of the truth],
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then thou consentedst with him." All who do not guard the truth and the flock of God against the encroachment of error, who bid false teachers God-speed, or who commend wolves in sheep's clothing to the Lord's little ones, are, according to the Prophets language, wickedly consenting with thieves and robbers. And not only so, but he continues--"and hast been partakers with adulterers." Such a compromise with the spirit of the world is, in the language of the Scriptures, defined as adultery. For this reason Babylon the Great [Papacy] is termed a harlot, and the mother of harlots [of the various similar systems that sprang from her]; and the principle holds good in every case where unfaithful covenant-breakers consent to any degree with the thieves and robbers who plot and scheme against the truth.
`Verse 19`. "Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit." Such is the course of all who in unrighteousness suppress the truth and go about to establish their own righteousness and their own plans.
`Verse 20`. "Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son." The unfaithful always take the attitude of persecutors to some degree of the faithful. Such is the attitude of the whole nominal church against those faithful servants who receive and advocate the truth.
`Verse 21`. "These things hast thou done ["Babylon," "Christendom," the great nominal church], and I kept silence: [up to the present time, the harvest; and because I kept silence and permitted this evil to run and prosper] thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself [that I was consenting with thee to thy evil ways]; but [not so; for a purpose I permitted you to run your course and to make your real character manifest; but now, in this harvest and judgment time] I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." Hence the present investigations and exposures of creeds, and the growing unrest in the various sects of "Christendom."
`Verses 22,23`. "Now consider this [reproof], ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces [destroy you], and there be none to deliver."
"Whoso offereth thanksgiving [thankfully receives the reproof and applies his heart unto instruction] glorifieth me [or honors me, as a faithful and consistent believer and representative of the truth]; and to him that ordereth his course aright [that conforms his life and teaching to the light received] will I show the salvation of God."
How solemn and weighty the admonition, and how worthy of the most thoughtful and prayerful consideration of all who name the name of Christ. The day of reckoning is upon the Church--upon all who profess to be members of it: "The hour of his judgment is come." Who is worthy to stand? Only those who gratefully receive the message of divine truth, and who faithfully pay their vows to the Most High.
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One writes us who has been for some time a TOWER reader, and who seems to have determined that he wants the Scriptures to teach the everlasting salvation of all men. We fear he has not been much helped by the articles on this subject in recent TOWERS. We will answer his questions publicly for the good of others; hoping also that the objector may see the weakness of his position, and come over again to the firm foundation of the explicit statements of God's Word. He says:--
(1) There is no Scripture which states that there will be no resurrection from the Second Death.
We answer, The Bible is God's revelation of what he has done and purposes to do for human salvation. If, therefore, it reveals no resurrection from the Second Death, no one has a right to believe or teach so--no, nor even so to hope. Those who do so are adding to God's Word. It is a bold, bad heart which, after receiving all the mercies revealed, would attempt to set aside those just features of the divine plan which an unsanctified will rebels against.
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(2) His mercy endureth forever; and is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.
Yes, those gracious expressions mean much of joy and comfort; but, in the original, the word of which our English word forever is a translation does not mean exactly the same as forever or without an end. It means, rather, continuously as long as proper or necessary, until a proper end has been reached. To illustrate: In `Lev. 16:34` we read, "This shall be an everlasting (Hebrew, olam) statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins, once a year." And in `verse 29` we read, "And this shall be a statute FOREVER unto you: That in the seventh month and tenth day of the month ye shall...do no work at all." (Compare `Exod. 21:6`.) How long did "forever" or "everlasting" mean in those cases? Are those statutes still in force? No. When did that "forever" and that "everlasting" cease? At the cross. These, with all the other features of the Mosaic Law, ceased
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when Christ made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross.
Just so in the texts quoted by Objector. God's mercy toward human sinners will endure until Christ makes an end of it in the close of the Millennial age. Mercy by that time will have exhausted every legitimate means for showing to sinners the path of life. More than that could not be called mercy. When all will have been done that can be done for sinners (and God's promises concerning the great work of Christ for the world during the Millennium are nothing short of this), then, the true, proper end of the mercy having come, divine Love and Justice will step forward and declare that those who have rejected this fulness of mercy shall be "cut off [not from their sins, but] from among the people."--`Acts 3:23`.
(3) "Once for all" Christ died to release Adam (and all in him), whether it be from First Death, Second Death or any other death. His blood can never lose its power until all are saved, to sin no more; because the man Christ Jesus gave himself a ransom FOR ALL.
We are glad that this Brother holds fast to the ransom, and bases all his hopes upon that sure foundation. (For this reason we can call him Brother.) If he will hold fast to that foundation, and test every part of his theory by that, he will come out all right. But to do this he will need that humility which will say, "Let God be true, though it show my theories to be nonsense." The words, "once for all," and "a ransom for all," while they do teach a salvation for all (and not a limited atonement and a limited offer of salvation, as most Christians believe), do not teach that the salvation secured can never have an end.
Let us keep in memory the Scriptural statements that the penalty under which all the race fell from divine favor and into death was for Adam's transgression (`Rom. 5:12`), and that the recovery from sin and death secured by our Lord Jesus' ransom-sacrifice affected THAT death and THOSE sins and weaknesses which we inherited from our father Adam, and none other. Is it not, therefore, logical as well as Scriptural to say that wilful sins (intentionally committed, under full light and ability to the contrary) are not Adam's sins in any sense of the word, and that the ransom from Adam's sin and penalty would therefore not at all affect a release from these sins and their penalty? So say the Scriptures concerning all whose share in the Adamic sin and penalty has been canceled (--through faith in Christ's sin-sacrifice), and who are therefore reckoned as no longer dead in Adam, but as "alive in Christ" --"risen with him." After they have been once enlightened--been brought to a knowledge of the truth, tasted of the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come [the Millennial powers--resurrection, etc., tasted by faith], and been made partakers of the holy spirit--if such shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again--because their course does despite to the favor God offers, and counts as common and valueless the blood of the New Covenant wherewith they had been sanctified. --`Heb. 6:4-6`; `10:26-31`.
Since God's plan is to save all men from all that was lost in Adam--through the Second Adam, Christ--it follows that when every child of Adam has been brought to a full knowledge of God's plan, and a full opportunity for forgiveness and restitution to divine favor, all have been SAVED from that calamity. Then,
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however, their individual trial begins; and the length or brevity of their salvation depends upon their own (not Adam's) course. If they after all that sin wilfully, the penalty they will get will be their own and not Adam's --for which Christ died. And there is no authority in Scripture for your statement that our Lord's death was for, or that it will have any effect upon, those who will suffer Second Death, the penalty of wilful sin against full light and opportunity.
(4) Did not Lazarus of Bethany die twice? (Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, we of course suppose that he died again sometime after his miraculous restoration by our Lord; for he is not now living.) Surely Lazarus will share in the future resurrection; and hence it is evident that dying a second or even a third or a fourth time is no bar to the power of God.
Ah! now we see, by this, that you do not grasp the subject of the Second Death. Lazarus did not die the Second Death. He had not yet gotten free from the Adamic or First Death when our Lord awaked him. The great ransom-sacrifice had not yet been finished, and when awakened he was, with the others of the human family, still under the original death-sentence incurred through Adam's disobedience. The only way to get Lazarus out of the Adamic death was, first, for our Lord to die as the substitute or corresponding price for condemned Adam and all his posterity; and afterward, for Lazarus to be justified from Adamic sin and its penalty--First Death--by faith in that sin-offering, based upon a clear knowledge of God's goodness and a full consecration to him.
Since these were not the conditions in Lazarus' case, his was merely a re-awakening to the measure of Adamic life (yet under sentence of Adamic death) which he had enjoyed before he became sick and fell asleep. Consequently, the awakening of Lazarus and others by our Lord at his first advent is never spoken of as their resurrection; for "resurrection" signifies lifting up, out of the Adamic death entirely, to full life and perfection. Only those thus actually released from Adamic death by such an actual resurrection, or such as by knowledge and faith come to the justified state (a reckoned resurrection condition) are or will be in danger of the Second Death--the penalty of wilful, individual sin against clear light and knowledge. Sanctified believers of this Gospel age (reckonedly passed out of Adam into Christ--from Adamic death to life) when they die are not counted as dying in Adam; for reckonedly they are out of Adam. They are reckoned as dying with Christ their Redeemer. (See `2 Tim. 2:11`; `1 Thes. 4:16`; `Rev. 14:13`.) But if such abide not in Christ (after getting into him as members of his body, as branches of the Vine), it will be because of wilful sin and rejection of his sacrifice and favor. Their death will be Second Death--the penalty of second failure during second trial.
As for believers in the next or Restitution age, they will likewise be justified by knowledge and faith and obedience--reckoned as resurrected out of Adam and his death penalty into Christ and his life gift. But instead of suffering and dying with Christ, as do the faithful in this age, they will be gradually restored to the perfection and life reckoned to them from the moment of justification. Only the disobedient will die after the new dispensation opens. Their death will not be because of any weakness inherited from Adam (all of which will have been reckoned paid and canceled in Christ's sacrifice), but because of their own wilful opposition to the Lord's righteous requirements. Hence their death will not be the Adamic but the Second Death--the wages of their own deserving, for which no ransom was given and none is promised--an "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power"--"cut off from among the people."
(5) Let us try to do a good work for Christ in spreading this good news. I hope that you will yet spread the glad tidings of a resurrection from the Second Death.
Our reply to this, in conclusion, is, If this were good tidings, we could not preach it; because we have no authority to declare, in God's name and as a part of his plan, what he has nowhere revealed. But we fail to see how it would be good tidings to any but the wicked. To all who love righteousness it would be very
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bad tidings; just as to-day it would be bad tidings to any good community to learn that the jails and penitentiaries and work-houses and pest-houses were all to be thrown open; for no other pest has proved so baneful as the leprosy of sin. The righteous might dread such a release from the Second Death of those evil-doers described in `Rev. 22:15`--evil-doers for whose permanent reform there would be no hope; because, before sentencing them to the Second Death, their righteous Judge had given them every opportunity possible to repent and come into harmony with his righteous law, that they might live forever.
Furthermore, let us remember that the Second Death will receive the incorrigible at the close of the Millennium (`Rev. 21:8`); and that at that time Christ's Kingdom, the thousand-year day of judgment, comes to an end. Hence, if it were true that there is to be a release from the Second Death, it must come after the Millennium. This would involve the thought of a continuance of sin, and a continued trial or judging of sinners, whereas God's gracious promise is that the Millennial day of judgment will make a full end of sin and sinners, and that beyond it, in the everlasting ages, there shall be no more sin, sorrow, pain, dying or crying; for all those former things will have passed away. --`Rev. 21:4`.
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THE THIEF IN PARADISE.
"He said to Jesus, Remember me when thou comest in thy kingdom. And he [Jesus] said to him, Indeed I say to thee this day, thou shalt be with me in Paradise." --`Luke 23:42,43`.
Those who consider salvation to be an escape from everlasting torture to a paradise of pleasure, and dependent only on accidental circumstances of favor, see in this narration the doctrine of election exemplified--our Lord Jesus, being pleased by the consoling words of the one thief, elected him to heaven, and equally elected that the other should roast to all eternity, unpitied and unrelieved. Truly, if God has made salvation such a lottery, such a chance thing, those who believe it to be such should have little to say against church lotteries, and less against worldly ones.
But this is not the case. This Scripture has evidently been much misunderstood. To get its true import, let us take in the surroundings and connections.
The Lord had just been condemned, and was now being executed on the charge of treason against Caesar's government, in saying that he was a king: though he had told them that his kingdom was "not of this world." There, upon the cross above his head, was the inscription of his charged crime, written in three languages: "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS." All knew of his claims and derided him, except one of the thieves crucified with him. Doubtless he had heard of Jesus and of his wonderful character, and said in his heart: This is truly a strange and wonderful man. Who can know that there is no foundation to his claims? He certainly lives close to God. I will speak to him in sympathy: it can do no harm. Then he rebuked his companion, mentioning the Lord's innocence; and then the conversation above noted took place.
We cannot suppose that this thief had any correct or definite idea of Jesus--nothing more than a mere feeling that he was about to die, and a straw of hope was better than nothing. To give him credit for more would be to place him in faith ahead of all the Lord's apostles and followers, who at this time had fled, and who, three days after, said: "We [had] trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel."--`Luke 24:21`.
We can have no doubt as to the import of his petition: he meant that whenever Jesus reached his kingdom power, he desired favor. Now note our Lord's answer. He does not say that he has no kingdom; but, on the contrary, he indicates by his response that the thief's request was a proper one. The word translated "verily" or "indeed" is the Greek word "amen," and signifies so be it, as you have asked: "I say to thee this day [this dark day, when it seems as though I am an impostor,
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and I am about to die as a felon], thou shalt be with me in Paradise."
Now the substance of this is that, when the Lord has established his kingdom, it will be in Paradise, and the thief will be remembered and be in it. Notice that we have changed the comma from before to after "to-day." This makes our Lord's words perfectly clear and reasonable. He might have told the thief more if he had chosen. He might have told him that the reason he would be privileged to be in Paradise was because his ransom was then and there being paid. He might have told him further that he was dying for and ransoming the other thief also, as well as the whole gaping and deriding multitude before him, and as well as the millions then entombed, and the millions yet unborn. We know this because we know that "Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man," and that as all in Adam die, even so all in Christ shall be made alive, and be privileged to come back to that Edenic condition forfeited by the first man's sin, and redeemed for men by Christ's righteous sacrifice.
As already shown, the garden of Eden was but an illustration of what the earth will be when fully released from the curse--perfected and beautified. The word "Paradise" is of Arabic origin, and signifies a garden. The Septuagint renders `Gen. 2:8` thus: "God planted a paradise in Eden." When Christ has established his kingdom, and bound evil, etc., this earth will become a paradise, and the two thieves and all others that are in their graves shall come into it; and by becoming obedient to its laws they may live forever. We doubt not, however, that the kind words spoken in that dark hour to the Lord of glory will no more lose a suitable reward than the gift of a cup of water, or other small kindnesses, done to those whom this King is "not ashamed to call his brethren."
But have we a right to change the comma? Certainly: the punctuation of the Bible is not inspired. The writers of the Bible used no punctuation. It was invented about four hundred years ago. It is merely a modern convenience, and should be so used as to bring out sense and harmony with all other Scriptures. This harmony and sense are obtained only by the punctuation we have given above. As usually punctuated, the passage would teach that the Lord and the thief went away somewhere that day, a statement contrary to the following Scriptures, which read carefully: `Luke 24:46`; `John 20:17`; `3:13`. In the latter text note that the words, "which is in heaven," are an interpolation, as shown by the oldest MS.
STUDIES IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
--INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS.--
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULLNESS OF THE GOSPEL. PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
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THE GOSPEL AT ANTIOCH.
IV. QUAR., LESSON V., OCT. 30, `ACTS 11:19-30`.
Golden Text--"A great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."--`Acts 11:21`.
This lesson takes us back several years, and reveals the persecution against the Church at the time of the stoning of Stephen--Saul of Tarsus being one of the chief persecutors. It shows us some of the results of that persecution, and illustrates well the fact that the Lord's work is sometimes prospered by those very circumstances which to human judgment might seem unfavorable, if not disastrous. The persecution scattered the light instead of extinguishing it. Accordingly, years afterward news came to the Church at Jerusalem that the knowledge of salvation through Christ had spread to the third city of importance in the world--for Antioch was such at that time.
`VERSES 20,21`. Here we see a difference in the Lord's dealings, as compared with our last lesson, on the opening of the Gospel Door to the Gentiles at the hand of Peter, Cornelius being the first received. That event had been God's method of drawing the attention of Peter and the other believers to the changed and widened character of the new dispensation. But in this lesson we see how the Lord led others to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, when the due time had come, without visions, etc., such as were proper, and indeed necessary,
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for Peter and others. These Christians had been Jews, born and living in Cyprus and Cyrene, and hence intimately acquainted with Gentiles; and when God's due time had come to remove all differences between Jews and Gentiles these were easily led into telling the good tidings to their Gentile friends--many of whom promptly accepted it.
`VERSES 22,24`. The Church, whose chief representatives still resided at Jerusalem, having already learned, through Peter (`Acts 11:1-18`), of God's favor having been extended to the Gentiles, were glad to learn of the good work that had been done, and promptly took steps to help the new believers by sending Barnabas, "a good man full of faith and of the holy spirit," to teach them the way of the Lord more perfectly. And Barnabas, after doing a good work among them, bethought him of Saul of Tarsus, converted some years before, and who probably had meantime been under divine instruction and discipline preparatory to his introduction as the great "Apostle to the Gentiles," to take the place of Judas as one of the twelve (`Rev. 21:14`); which place the eleven had unauthorizedly conferred upon Matthias before their anointing with the holy spirit at Pentecost.
`VERSES 25,26`. Saul--or Paul--was seemingly ready for the opening of this door of service and entered it with his peculiar fervor--yet humbly, remembering his own unworthiness to preach Christ, whom he had persecuted and slain, representatively, in his disciples. Barnabas and Paul, instead of saying to the intelligent people of Antioch, "We must leave you to go and look up some uncivilized peoples, barbarians, cannibals, etc.," took a different view of the matter, and, seeking the most intelligent auditors they could interest, staid with them a year after they were converted--teaching them. Alas, that so many now feel that teaching is unnecessary. How the actions of the Apostle Paul agree with his teachings.--See `Eph. 4:11-13`.
"And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Whoever may have started this name it matters not: it is the most fitting title that could be conceived of--followers of Christ. What a pity it is that in modern times it is considered a valuable addition to prefix Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, etc. Surely, to all who rightly view the matter, our Master's name is a sufficient one for all who are his. Let us not only adopt the Apostolic simplicity in practice and in doctrine, but also in name. We do not belong to Wesley, Luther, Calvin or any other man; and we should show that we are Christ's, and his alone, by refusing the names of others than the Heavenly Bridegroom. Thus, too, we stand where we can have fullest fellowship with all the Lord's true followers.
`VERSES 27-30`. The fruits of the spirit are here shown by the willingness of the Christians at Antioch to contribute to the famine-stricken and persecution-spoiled brethren at Jerusalem. It was a noble return in temporal matters for the spiritual favors they had received from the believers at Jerusalem, through Barnabas, and Paul, whom he had brought. And this seems always to be true where the spirit of Christ has operated and dwells richly: each is anxious to serve the other, first with the spiritual and priceless favors, and second with temporal favors as opportunity offers.--See `1 Cor. 9:11`.
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IV. QUAR., LESSON VI., NOV. 6, `ACTS 12:1-17`.
This lesson enforces the thought of God's power to help his servants when his wise purposes can best be served by so doing.
It does not teach us, however, that all of God's servants will be miraculously delivered, nor that the same servant will be so dealt with on every occasion: For was not James, whom Herod killed, also a servant of God? See `verses 1 and 2`.
The lesson to be learned is concerning God's ability to do whatever may please him. Then, if confident of his love, as all should be who have intelligently accepted God's gift to men in Christ our Lord, we have only to rely upon divine wisdom to feel perfectly content, whatever may come upon us,--realizing that all things are working together for good to them that love God--to those who are called according to his purpose.--`Rom. 8:28`.
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COLPORTEURS' WEEKLY REPORTS.
Our request, that we hear weekly from all Colporteurs who are giving all their time in the work, has been well responded to. But please remember both parts: State the spiritual prosperity and health, as well as the number of orders taken and the physical health. If more convenient, a postal card will do; and those working together may send their reports in the same envelope, if preferred. It will do you all good to write to the "home" (office) at least weekly, and it will do us good also. You are continually remembered in our prayers.
Do not forget the Missionary Envelopes. We have a new lot and supply them now at the reduced price of 25 cents per hundred, and $2.00 per thousand. This includes free delivery to you at your Postoffice.
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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM EARNEST WORKERS.
The following letter, from his brother in the flesh, was recently received by Brother J. A. West. What joy it must cause him to receive such a testimony to his faithfulness to the truth! How much he would have lost, both for time and for eternity, had he put the Light under a bushel from fear or shame or policy or other selfish motive.
Brother James is still in the harvest work, and although with him, as with all, much of the effort shows no fruit immediately, he and all of us must go on our way rejoicing, leaving the results to our Lord.
The letter (which follows) was sent us for our joy, and we lay it before you all for a similar object. It becomes a report from three of the harvest laborers.--EDITOR.
Dear Brother:--We daily invoke our Heavenly Father's blessing upon you, you who have been used by him in our blessing. We are feasting, rejoicing, drinking at the fountain of truth, and yet we each now have even a higher privilege than this. It is the joy of taking the glad tidings to others, and seeing them blest as we have been. We meet some of them everywhere. At E__________, Brother P__________, who was considered the best Bible scholar in the city, and the most consecrated and spiritual-minded man, received us kindly. We had just what he needed; and though restitution, the plan of the ages, etc., were new to him, he readily accepted them; and we left him rejoicing in present truth. Another brother and sister also gave us a hearty welcome, and happier souls you never saw than they were. This book we sell, dear James, is certainly a child of Providence--a bearer of "meat in due season," simply and truly. Praise the Lord!
Our problem is solved: We have demonstrated the fact that we can sell DAWNS, and make a living. We economize and work hard; and with God's blessing we can and do succeed. Accept our united love, and remember we think of you every day--especially when with the blessed Lord in prayer.
Your brother and sister in the precious hope, rejoicing in our present Lord and busy in the Harvest, E. R. WEST AND WIFE.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I wish you to send me forty-five volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. I. These I shall distribute in Canada, enclosing a printed slip, a copy of which I send you herewith. The circular reads as follows:--
DEAR FRIEND:--I commend this volume, The Plan of the Ages, to your careful reading. It is the best commentary on the Scriptures I have read. I value it next to the Bible. It develops love for the truth, an eagerness to "search the Scriptures," an independence in Bible study, a reverence for God's Word and a refreshing liberty of mind. It is not written in the interest of any religious organization: its author is not a member of any sectarian body, but simply a Christian. Because of its rich helpfulness to me in the unfolding of the wondrous truths of the Bible, in the clear presentation of God's own gracious plan for the blessing of "all the families of the earth," in the brightening of my own life by dispelling the conflicting doctrines of denominationalism and giving the sweet hope of a better and everlasting life, possible to every one of my fellow creatures, and in heralding the dawn of a glorious and lasting day for the whole creation, I present it to you with the request that you read it twice and examine all the references. If, when you are through with it, you will send it to other truth-seekers, I shall be grateful.
In "the good hope through favor,"
E. R. BLACK.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:--We think it very kind of Sister R. to take the time from what we have known must be her very arduous duties, to write us so fully concerning the matter of which we inquired, especially when we remember how many others are seeking information at your hands.
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Loss of sleep is a part of the price I have to pay for the truth. It is so precious, and sometimes so all-absorbing, that I cannot quit thinking about it long enough to go to sleep. My present sleepless condition was brought about through my efforts to do some missionary work among the members of a religious gathering in our city.
They have no organization, and in many respects are like us. I have enjoyed their meetings and Bible readings very much, and I think that they are the Lord's own children; but they are handicapped in their search for truth by the horrible, blasphemous doctrine of eternal torment. I cannot tell you how I longed to lead their minds out into the clear sunlight of God's truth, and I have done what I could to this end. But oh, how Satan uses this horrible impeachment of God's character to blind the eyes, even of those who love him. How subtle the arch-enemy is--whispering as he does
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to them, This is no concern of yours. You are not going to Hell. Why bother your brain about the matter at all? Ah, well does he know that so long as he keeps this veil over their faces they cannot apprehend the truth. If there is any thing for which I entertain an able-bodied hatred, it is this hydra-headed relic of the dark past; and my experience with it in the past week has been anything else than pleasant.
Although I have been painfully conscious of the fact that the outward man is perishing, yet during the past week I have been most blessedly conscious of that other fact, that the inner man is renewed day by day. It seems to me I have never before so fully realized the simplicity and security of our refuge in Christ as I do now. I am sure I have never before fully comprehended Paul's description of it, as we have it in `Romans 8`.
In comparing the various translations of `verses 33 and 34`, I discovered a marginal note in the Revised Version which says that some ancient versions read, "Shall God that justifieth," "Shall Christ that died," etc. Notice that the words "it is" are in italics. This is the same sense given to the verses in the Diaglott and Rotherham translations. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? Shall God that justifieth? Who is he that condemneth? Shall Christ that died? yea, rather, that is risen again--who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us?" No, blessed be his precious name, we know that our Advocate is too true to our interests to condemn or accuse us in the presence of the Father. Oh, no: he constantly says to the Father, They have been judged in me. I have borne their sins; by my stripes are they healed. Lay nothing to their charge. I have met all the demands of justice against them, and they are free.
Oh, how blessed to know that "the past is under the blood," as well as the present, if we abide in him; and thus John says, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him;" and then he adds, "Perfect love casteth out fear." Ah, yes: when we begin to comprehend the perfection and measureless depths of God's love to us, as manifested in the gift of his dear Son as our ransom from death, we are lost in amazement; and the testimony of his spirit with ours, that we are his children, clears all our doubts and fears away, and there is no torment.
"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment." This wonderful manifestation of God's love to us, through its reflex action upon the heart, will deepen and broaden our own love, until at last, when we partake of his nature, we shall also possess the perfection and fulness of his love, and become the instruments through whom he will manifest this love to the world, as he is now manifesting it to us, that they may know and believe the love that God has for us, and for them also. Sharing with Jesus the "all power in heaven and in earth," we shall go forth upon our mission of love, lifting up, tenderly nursing the groaning creation back to the moral likeness of God the Father--which, if willing, they may possess and enjoy forever.
Beloved friends, let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.
May our Heavenly Father kindly lead and bless you both. Yours in the service of the Master, C. A. OWEN.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I wish I could see you and talk to you as my soul desires. I am so anxious for a pure heart--one from which emanates nothing but purity. As Peter said, not only my feet, Lord, but every thought, word, act and motive of the heart I desire made pure and right. Oh, how I long for this, to be able to resist every form of evil. Is it not possible for me to live without any evil in my heart? I want my environment to be clean; or rather, I want to be clean in my environment. Any help you may be able to give me will be gladly received. Pray mightily to God for me, Brother, that I may be in the procession with the crown and uniform at the great meeting of the elect of God. May God bless and keep you! Yours in Christ,
J. O. DAWSON.
[Am glad to know that you are desirous of living a pure life; for that is an indication that you already possess to a considerable degree a pure heart. Purity of thought, word and act can result only from purity of motive; and the best way to cultivate purity of motive is to make a friend and companion of the Lord, our Redeemer, who is not only pure himself, but able to give wisdom and grace to all who seek his aid. Then all his desires will become yours, his will and work will be your delight, and you will become more and more impervious to temptation, and able to think and live worthy of his friendship. It will be no longer you that lives, but "Christ in you." --`Gal. 2:20`.--EDITOR.]
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MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It has been some time since I wrote you, not because I am not interested, but I am so busy that I cannot do as I would. However, I meet some interested ones occasionally, and talk with them about the grand things that encourage us so much. Thank God for this privilege, that we can (though in trouble) look to him who is our life; and we are encouraged with the blessed assurance that we (in due time) shall be like him.
I have been traveling a little in the great cause, and I do not think that my humble effort is in vain. Had a good meeting here this summer. It was a time of feast and rejoicing. When I left the Methodists, I had a large acquaintance, for I had been preaching for forty miles around. I have kept up appointments in several places, and have some who love the truth. I can go to these places, preach to them day and night, and not be away from home long; and this is the way I have to do. I love the truth; I am made free by it; and I love to tell it to others; and oh, when I can find a hearing ear it does me so much good.
I have all the reading matter from the TOWER office since 1883, and am still feasting on the precious Word of God. I love the "TOWER" dearly. I love the spirit in which it is written, for I believe it to be the spirit of my blessed Lord. I love to read the few words from interested ones in different places. Surely we are drawn nearer together; and though we are so far apart, yet we are realizing that we are one in Christ Jesus our Lord; and though we are strangers and pilgrims, yet we are made nigh unto each other by the blood of Christ. Oh, the blood, the precious blood, that cleanseth from all sin. Praise the Lord!
I will go on in the good way, trusting that I may fill some humble place in which the name of our Master will be glorified.
In the blessed hope, yours, S. WILLIAMS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--In a little conversation last evening at the home of two staunch Presbyterians, I was not a little enthused, and was made to see clearer than ever before our position regarding the doctrine of the holy Spirit. They, of course, maintained that the holy Spirit is a person, denying the possibility that the mind of God could be infused into our minds.
I drew their attention to the following, which nearly all must have experienced, namely: When one gets interested in some book, a novel, for instance, and gets wrapped up in the subject, does not the mind of the writer become our mind, until we think the same thoughts, love what he loves, hate what he hates, etc.? Well, then, the same effect follows when one gets thoroughly interested in the Book of books. The mind of God is then infused into our minds and hearts, and it is thus that we are sanctified by the truth--separated from the world and the worldly spirit.
To prove that the apostles named the expression of the mind of God through his Word "holy Spirit," I referred to `Heb. 10:15,16`, in connection with `chapter 8:10-12`. The Apostle calls this quotation "a witness" of the holy Spirit, while `verse 16` plainly states that "the Lord" is the speaker, as does also `Chapter 8, verse 10`.
Truly the words that he has spoken are spirit and life. I relish this more fully now than ever before, and am greatly blessed by the Spirit's leading. So you see our controversy was profitable to myself, even if I did not succeed in convincing my opponents. Yours in the Redeemer, CHARLES STRAND.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The package arrived safely a fortnight ago. I have been waiting to write a letter, but find I cannot work it in just now, so please accept this as acknowledgment of my great indebtedness and gratitude. It is very good of you to so abundantly supply us, and we hope to remit for same shortly. Do not deduct from previous amount sent. The Lord has blessed me very especially, and I shall be well able to cover extra cost in a month or so. I have sent a goodly number of DAWNS and Tracts by a brother going to Australia, who will distribute half of them on board of ship and the rest on landing. He will write you when he has settled down.
Our little band is making its influence felt, though we have never been heard in the streets and squares; but a steady and quiet manner coupled with a consistent life--being led of the holy Spirit--is mighty in reproving the worldliness and political spirit of our time. The churches are now mostly shows, and political agencies. Things are rapidly shaping themselves for the battle of the great day. Thank God, he has enabled us to see it. Accept our united love and a hearty greeting to all our dear brethren and sisters, especially Sister Russell.
Yours ever affectionately in Christ,
A. P. RILEY.
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