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VOL. VI. PITTSBURGH, PA., JANUARY, 1885. NO. 5.
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
NO. 40 FEDERAL ST. ALLEGHENY, PA.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--Fifty cents a year, postage prepaid. You may send by Draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Foreign Postage being higher, our terms to foreign subscribers will be 65 cents a year. Please send us no foreign money or postage stamps, as we can make no use of them. Remittances may be made by Foreign Postal Money Orders.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat--yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it-- "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently--and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."-- `ISAIAH 55:1,2`.
NOTE the removal of our business office to No. 40 FEDERAL ST., ALLEGHENY, PA. There, we will be pleased to receive a visit from any of you, when in the city.
OUR TERMS are, IN ADVANCE. Some whose subscriptions are a year or more in arrears, will be dropped this month, the supposition being that they are not interested in the teachings presented. Should any who still desire it, or who have already paid for it, be missed, it will be but an accident. Such will please notify us at once.
WALL CHARTS.--We still have a supply of the "Chart of the Ages," such as appears in FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS, page 105, only enlarged--33 inches long, mounted on rollers. These we will send free to our SUBSCRIBERS who are willing to pay expressage on the same. Express charge is 15 cents each by special contract, either by Adams or American Express.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
The opening year finds the whole world in a state of financial depression which will doubtless be worse before improvement comes. Since we are advised in Scripture that the Day of the Lord's presence will be a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation, some may be inclined to anticipate too much, too speedily. This is a tendency which all need to guard against.
We should not for a moment lose sight of the apostles striking illustration of the trouble of this day, as recorded in `1 Thes. 5:3`. From this illustration we should expect spasmodic trouble and distress of nations: and that these will become more frequent and more serious until they reach the climax stated by the prophet, and result in the death of present systems and the delivery of the children of this world into the New and better, the "golden" Millennial age, in which the King of righteousness shall rule and reign Lord of all, blessing all the families of earth.
To those who have made the Lord even the Most High their refuge and habitation, we would say: "Trust in the Lord and do good;" "He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday." In this connection we commend to your careful study `Psalms 37:1-19` and `91` entire. Strengthen yourselves, arm and equip yourselves with the whole armor of God, remembering your part in the conflict of this day, that it is not with flesh and blood but with the spiritual darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high (controling or leading) places and the fiery darts of the wicked one. Thus so much the more as ye see the day drawing on "strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a feeble heart, BE STRONG! FEAR NOT! Behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; He will come and save you." The signs then of the days of vengeance and recompense are sure signs of the Lord's presence, and that our redemption, deliverance, and exaltation, and the blessing of the world, are nigh at hand.
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EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS
New Orleans, La.
C. T. RUSSELL:--Dear Brother:--I am by birth a Norwegian. My prayers of late have been that the Lord would raise up some one in my Norway home to explain the Glad Tidings as it is in Jesus. To-day the thought has come to me to contrive to have the pamphlets "Food" and "Tabernacle," with October number of the TOWER, translated into that language. You see the interest your publications have found among the Swedes. Now, I believe that the Norwegians are a still more religiously inclined people than the Swedes in general. In short, I believe the truth would meet with a still better reception among them. You will probably question: "Do not the Swedish publications meet the demand of the Norwegians also?" I answer, "No; the two languages differ so much that the Swedish number of the TOWER is almost of no use to the Norwegians, and will hardly be read by any of them." There is also a little prejudice existing between the two nations. I pray God to open a way to have it published in Norwegian. The "Food" and the "Tabernacle" would, I know, be a great blessing to the saints in Norway.
I have an instrument for the work with me now, in the shape of a young man--a relative of mine--thoroughly versed in both English and Norwegian, and he would gladly undertake the task, if I could find the means to keep him with me long enough for the work. But, then again, comes the publication, which requires a great deal of money.
Submitting this thought to your kind consideration, I will make it a subject of prayer. If it is our Father's will, the means will be forthcoming.
My friends in Norway have been desiring me, for a long time, to come home. Would it not be a precious work to republish the WATCH TOWER in Norway, and distribute the Glad Tidings over there? Your brother in the hope,
[This and similar expressions of interest and effort remind us of the Macedonian cry, except that it comes now from all quarters, wherever a few of the saints have been led into the light-- Come over into Norway, Sweden, Germany, and let us have the truth in our own tongue. As rapidly as opportunity and means offer, we shall heed the call. --ED.]
ED. WATCH TOWER, Dear Friend:--
Many, many thanks for the November number of your paper; also for the back numbers of March and July. I am, indeed, deeply grateful that they ever came into my hands, and for your kindness in continuing to send them. Since reading them, the Bible has seemed a new book to me, and I might almost say I have found a new heaven and a new earth. Surely it betokens His presence when such glorious light is shed on His word. I am more and more amazed at the feast of knowledge. The grand truths displayed in their simplicity one after another, until I am compelled at times to stop reading, and think and ponder on it a little at a time; it is so wonderful, and one of the greatest of all wonders is that I--surely, if a saint-- the least of all, should have been brought to this light. Blessing and honor, and glory and power, be unto His Holy Name! Amen, and Amen! And may you, the honored instruments of His royal bounty, receive the blessed reward promised to his faithful ones. I hope soon to send your subscription price-- such a mite for so much. Oh, if I only possessed any of this worlds goods beyond the merest necessaries of life, how freely would I lend my aid in dispensing the glad tidings! But he knoweth best. Yours most gratefully, __________.
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ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY.
A charter of incorporation for Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society was granted December 13th, 1884. In accordance with the same, Certificates have just been sent to each contributor to the Fund, whose donations (all told) amounted to Ten Dollars or more. Each ten dollars representing one voting share.
The certificates are neatly printed and bear the Society's seal upon the face. On the reverse side is a brief statement of the object and past efforts of the Society, the time and mode of electing its officers, etc. The Incorporators are the Directors, named below, from among whom the officers indicated have just been elected for the year 1885:
C. T. RUSSELL, Pres., W. I. MANN, Vice Pres., M. F. RUSSELL, Sec. and Treas., J. B. ADAMSON, W. C. McMILLAN, J. F. SMITH.
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TRACT FUND REPORT.
This report is for two years, none having been made last January.
Indebtedness January 1, 1883...... $2,571.34
Total expenditure for publications
during 1883 and 1884,
including those in the Swedish
Total cash receipts,
of German and Swedish funds...... 2,491.43
*Balance owing................... $2,446.01
It will be remembered that in order not to allow the debt to hinder the publication of missionary papers in foreign languages the proposition was accepted, to start a German and also a Swedish fund, which, though included in the general work of the Society, should be specially applied to publishing matter in those languages.
We have to report that the total donations to the German fund amounted to $126.54. The total receipts on account of the Swedish fund amounted to $360.14.
We published nothing in German, the fund being insufficient for even a start, but, growing gradually, it may be of use some day; meanwhile, we have obtained the addresses of some, able and willing to assist, by translating, when we are ready.
In Swedish we published four numbers of the same size as the English TOWER, containing selected articles--translations from English numbers. Many among the Swedes were deeply moved by the truth, and we regret that the number of such (about 800) would not justify at present the regular publication of the TOWER in that language. However, the truth is spreading among them, and it may not be long before this will be practicable and possible. The total amount expended on this account was $744.16, or $384.02 more than the receipts on account of the same.
Aside from the mailing of several thousand copies of "Food for Thinking Christians," etc., already published and accounted for, we published, paid for and distributed, since last report:-- 39,000 Swedish Missionary papers and 79,000 English " " ------- 118,000 in all; equal to about four and a half millions of tract pages of the ordinary size.
Those who have assisted in the work, both by donations and in circulating--by giving and loaning literature to those supposed to have an "ear to hear," are too numerous to mention. It is one source of great encouragement to us to note the holy and pure zeal which inspires so many to labor and sacrifice to give to others, so soon as they taste of the "good word of God" themselves. It seems to be an unvarying rule, that light and opportunity afforded by the truth must be used, or these talents for service will be taken away. We must let our light so shine as to glorify our Father in heaven, else it will become darkness.
After all, the principle of our Father's dealing with us--allowing us to be light-bearers to others, seems to be as much or more to develop and bless us through the incidental labor and sacrifice, as to bless those to whom we bear the light; for unquestionably God could spread the truth without our feeble aid.
The Lord has so placed us that our sacrifices must be free-will offerings, and the measure of our sacrifice and self-denial, in whatever form, must in our Lord's sight be the measure or gauge of our love and appreciation of his favors and exceeding great and precious promises.
When presenting themselves before the Lord in the parable of the Talents, each one was approved equally, who had used what talents he had, few or many, "every man according to his several ability." And our Lord showed that it was the spirit of sacrifice which he appreciated when he said of the poor widow who cast two mites into the Lord's treasury, "She hath cast in more than they all." She, in her penury, had made a greater sacrifice than some who had given much more.
Some, and probably most, of the money accounted for in the above
*We here remark that the Florida land donated to the Society, is not included in the above account, as it did not come into the Society's possession before the close of 1884. When it has all been sold we hope to be more than out of debt, so that virtually we may so consider the matter now.
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statement was "hard-earned," and only sent by a similar self-denial to that of the widow mentioned by Jesus. Such gifts only as cost us self-denial in some form are sacrifices, whether it costs us friendships, or conveniences, or luxuries, or ease.
Let us make sure of the Master's "Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things." Such, having sacrificed with Christ, shall enter into the joys of the Lord. May it be true of us as of Mary, "She loved much"--"She hath done what she could."
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AN INCONSISTENT CONTEMPORARY.
We have not an inch of space to waste, nor a moment of time to devote to mere contention or argument, hence omit many of the moral reform topics which though good, are not vitally important to our readers, the majority of whom we trust are past the necessity for such exhortation. In any event these themes have abler advocates than us, to set forth their claims.
But as we long since (1880) pointed out, a great and severe trial of faith coming with increasing force upon the church--"the fire of that day" which "shall try every man's work of what sort it is." We saw that this fiery trial then coming, aimed to destroy the very foundation of Christian faith and hope, the first principles of the doctrine of Christ --"How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (`1 Cor. 15:3`) and that he thus redeemed, ransomed, bought us with his own precious blood. And because truth on this subject is the "meat in due season" for the household of faith now, as well as because there are few to publicly champion this truth which is now being attacked on every hand, therefore, we feel that time and space spent in criticizing and exposing the arguments and sophistries of those who would make the Cross of Christ of none effect, is most necessary. Hence if to any there seems to be an excuse or apology necessary for the pointed and critical analyzing of the utterance of contemporaries on such subjects, our apology is, our zeal for the truth; that its force may be seen in contrast with error: and for you, that you may be strengthened, prepared, and armed against all the wiles of the devil, and that thus, many may be able to answer and refute his sophistries; thus helping and strengthening themselves and others also.
The recent issue of a contemporary devoted to the NO RANSOM theory, presents in its leading Editorial some glaring inconsistencies, in its effort to make use of Scripture phraseology, and at the same time to discard the doctrine of redemption and remission of sins through
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the blood of the cross. We were about to say--and at the same time maintain its theory--but conclude that its theory, severely pressed for arguments, is changing and it would be difficult now to state what the exact theory is, except that the unchanged purpose is still plainly evident --the denial of the ransom.
Before pointing out its sophisms, we place some of its open and palpable contradictions side by side, thus:--
"We not only claim that He was Lord when He gave himself a ransom; or when he "bought us with a price," but we also claim that an appreciation of His divinity and lordship as the express image or manifestation of the Father's substance is necessary to a just estimate of the nature and value of the great atoning sacrifice which he made. The advocates of the theory that the divine law was satisfied with the substitution of one mere human sacrifice instead of the billions of human beings must have strained ideas of equity and justice; must ignore the statement that man cannot "redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him." `Psa. 49:7`....
"The extremely literal materialist may exclaim in horror, Can Divinity die? Oh no! it cannot die, in the sense in which you are thinking of death. He cannot lose his existence. But your idea of death is at fault."...
"The GROSS MATERIALIST could he but revise his theology and open his eyes, might see a sublime truth in this mystery of life imparted instead of extinguished by means of death. THIS is the grand MYSTERY of the cross of Christ."
"It seems as if the idea of God accepting an innocent substitute for the life of the guilty criminals is so grossly inconsistent with both love and justice that instead of winning to God it must have repelled many thinking minds from Him. It places God in the attitude of demanding all men owe, instead of in the gracious attitude of extending mercy and forgiveness to the helpless sinner. What is fully paid for, cannot be accepted as an expression of the Father's love and grace."
In a former issue the same contemporary gave the following explanation (?) of the nature and value of the death of Christ, viz.:
"Christ died to the old relation which he had COME INTO by Adam's sin." "The blood which must be shed, without which there is no remission of sins, IS that which is the evidence of the death of the ENMITY WITHIN US--death to sin."
If this contemporary had more than one editor, we should suppose that they were of opposite minds, and that by some accident, the writings of the two had gotten mixed. But the mixture is the more deplorable, as it gives evidence of a fierce struggle between a theory and Scripture, in which the former has the control. Judging from the conflicting arguments advanced and tried, our contemporary's plan and policy seems to be:--Any argument to get rid of the RANSOM--as a "corresponding price."
Extreme indeed must be its need of supporting argument, when it finds it necessary to claim as above, that life is imparted instead of extinguished by death. The very meaning of the words is the reverse. Does this contemporary endorse Satan's lie in Eden and contradict Jehovah? (`Gen. 3:3-5`). And then call it: "a sublime truth"--"the grand mystery of the cross of Christ"--"this mystery of life imparted instead of extinguished by means of death." Would it claim that DEATH is a great blessing and that Satan by whom it was introduced and "who has the power of death" (`Heb. 2:14`) is really the one who imparts life, instead of extinguishing it? If so it should at once claim that Satan is the one by whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed!
The new mixture is shown in the left column; and as we have heretofore shown the views of the other column to be unscriptural, we now merely note the expression above--"What is fully PAID FOR cannot be accepted as an expression of the Father's love and grace"--and remark that if our contemporary cannot accept of the Father's grace and love and gift, in and through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, we fear it can never accept it at all, for "there is none other name, under heaven, given among men whereby we must be saved." (`Acts 4:12`.) In this was manifested the love of God, that he sent his Son to be the propitiation [covering] for our sins. (`1 John 4:9,10`.)
We now pass to a hasty review of the expressions of the left column. The idea that it was necessary for a God to die, as the "great atoning sacrifice" for a man's sin, cannot be called new, even if it should by some be considered light. It is the commonly held, inconsistent, unscriptural, and "mysterious" view of the atonement, handed down from the dark ages, which we thank God we got rid of years ago.
The peculiarity of fallen human nature to go from one to the other extreme like a pendulum is remarkably illustrated in the treatment of this subject--it either wants to say that there was no ransom necessary, and none given, or else, that the penalty was so great that nothing short of the sacrifice of a God could be an "atoning sacrifice" for human sin.
In its confusion our contemporary says both. (See the contrasted statements of the two columns.) Would to God it had the courage and humility to acknowledge its confusion and accept the favor of God in His appointed way.
How contrary to this is the teaching of Scripture, that the penalty of human sin was the forfeiture of HUMAN EXISTENCE, and that in order to be man's ransom and give a "CORRESPONDING PRICE" it was necessary that Jesus should become a man, that as by MAN came death, by a man ALSO the resurrection or restoration of the dead might be accomplished. (`1 Cor. 15:21`.) And therefore, He who ransomed us, left his former glory and spiritual "form of God," and humbled himself to our nature and was "MADE FLESH," (`Phil. 2:6-8`, and `John 1:1-3,14`), and gave himself a ransom for all. And the apostle distinctly tells us, that "the MAN Christ Jesus" who "gave himself" was therefore highly exalted, and given a "name above every name"--Lord of all. `Phil. 2:5-11`.
This fact, that Jesus' right, and power, and control of men as their Master and Lord, was gained by his sacrifice as a MAN, hence not as claimed above, is clearly stated by the apostle, thus: "For to this end, Christ both died, and revived, and rose, THAT HE MIGHT BE LORD both of the dead and living." `Rom. 14:9`.
The statement above concerning one MERE human sacrifice, is not a quotation from the columns of the TOWER. Our contemporary does not thus favor us. The expression, "MERE man," would convey to many minds the idea of an imperfect man; hence we would not use it. When Jesus "WAS MADE FLESH" it was neither on "the lowest round of the ladder," nor on any other than the very highest, a glorious perfect image of God, in the flesh. Had he been one whit less perfect than the first perfect man, he could not have been the Redeemer of what Adam lost for himself and his race. Had he been one whit higher than PERFECT MAN, he could not have given himself as "a corresponding price." See YOUNG'S GREEK HEBREW and ENGLISH CONCORDANCE for definition, under head of Ransom, `1 Tim. 2:6`--antilutron "a corresponding price."
By reason of the "fall" of its representative, Adam, the whole race is now depraved, imperfect, ungodlike, and all condemned to death; HENCE all being under the same condemnation, "None can by any means REDEEM his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." (`Psa. 49:7`.)
This text is most too much for the views presented in the right-hand column. If it means anything, it proves that God's law did demand a RANSOM, that he would not excuse sin in the way that can be "accepted" by our contemporary "as an expression of love and grace." No, he will by no means clear [excuse] the guilty." (`Exod. 34:7`.) But when the guilty had proved the futility of their own efforts to redeem and cleanse themselves, God in great mercy and love ransomed us by giving His Son to be a propitiation [covering] for our sins--"In this [way] was manifested the love of God." (`1 John 4:9-10`.)
At the time of his consecration, at baptism, Jesus offered up himself--a man to redeem men--and there he received special power from on high, by which he was enabled not only to carry out his consecration by a life of self-sacrifice even unto death--even the death of the cross, but by which also, as a foretaste of his future power [as a partaker of the DIVINE nature, by which he could restore all things, and have all power] he was ennobled to do the "many wonderful works" with which those three and a half years abounded.
Farther on in the same article, after the query--"Does not 'redeem' 'ransom' or 'price' imply substitution?"-- it answers that question thus:--"The terms are commercial in common usage, but have also another use not uncommon. The means NECESSARY to secure any end are commonly and properly spoken of as the cost, or price of the object thus gained. The pioneer labors to secure a cleared farm; the cost is great, but he will be well repaid. The son costs his mother labor and pain, but his true manhood is her joyous reward. The means are the price and are adapted to secure the desired end."
Very good! But cannot all see that the cost of each item had to be substituted or given up for each result specified, before it could be had? The same principle is involved whether you pay a dime
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for a loaf of bread, or pay a year's labor for a clearing. This is nothing short of the commercial and only usage of the word bought.
The cost is whatever is NECESSARY to procure the thing desired, whether it be a son, a farm, or a race. Jesus bought us with his own precious blood [his sacrificed life] whatever may have been the attendant circumstances, by which this result was accomplished [such as leaving the heavenly glory, humbling himself to become a man, etc.,] the fact remains, that all those incidentals were not the price; they merely enabled, or were the necessary preparation, for giving the price. The price was his death--He "suffered [death] the just for the unjust TO BRING US TO GOD. (`1 Pet. 3:18`.)
The question arises, Did Jesus give too much? Did he give more than was needful to procure the results attained-- the liberation of man from sin and death. To say that the sacrifice of Jesus--his death--was not necessary, is not only to charge him with folly, but to deny those Scriptures which state that the giving up of his life was the price of one ransom.
If the thing given was the price, then our price or cost of our liberty from death was Jesus' death. Now follow the train of reasoning--The reason he died, was that we as a race were all under the dominion of death and his aim was to set us free from sin and death. Why did he not set us free without becoming a man? Because Jehovah's just penalty, death, rested upon us all, and his justice is as unalterable as his love. Why did not Jesus die as a spiritual being without becoming a man? Because it was men, who were condemned and God's law demanded a corresponding price. Why then did Jesus become a man? It was that he by the grace [favor, love, kindness] of God, should taste death for every man. Was this an equivalent or corresponding price for an entire race? Yes, when God condemned all because of one man's transgression, it was in order that as a result of one man's [Jesus'] obedience even unto death, he might deliver the race from condemnation which was upon all through one man's sin. Was not the death of Christ an example of resisting evil? It was that, but it must have been more; for many prophets and righteous persons resisted evil unto death, and they would have answered for examples, if nothing more had been needed. What more was needed than to be shown by a good example, to refrain from sin? Much more, for even if it were possible for all men to live spotlessly, still there was the penalty of sins that were past--which came upon all and continued upon all until Jesus "bare our sins in his own body on the tree." Could not something else meet the requirements and lift from men the penalty? No, without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. `Heb. 9:22`.
So then, Jesus gave none to great a price, but one which corresponded exactly, with the penalty, viz.:--man's death. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him and given him a name [power, and authority, and honor] which is above every name." "He [now] is Lord of all." `Phil. 2:9`; `Acts 10:36`.
Again we quote our contemporary: "Paul says that Christ redeems us from all iniquity (`Titus 2:14`). Now, if to redeem from death means to give death a substitute, then to redeem from iniquity means to give iniquity a substitute. Will any one claim that Christ gave himself a substitute for iniquity?"
Such sophism is not really worthy of refutation. Sin and iniquity are two names for the same thing. When death passed upon the race, it brought with it depravity--a liability to sin--an inability to refrain from sin. It brought in a word not only physical disease, but also moral degradation--iniquity--hence, in redeeming us from death, it was at the same time a redemption from iniquity of which death was the wages or penalty. The price or cost of iniquity was death, and to redeem us from its dominion, Jesus, as our substitute, paid that penalty, that in due time we might be made free from it. He made his soul [his being or existence] an offering for sin, to redeem us from all iniquity.
And now in view of the many sides of this question which this contemporary advances, arguing in one column that there is no ransom, no price, no substitution, and in the next column of the very same article that there was a price, a ransom, &c., but a spiritual and divine one, we candidly and seriously advise it to either abandon its various theories of no corresponding price being given in man's redemption, or else discard the Bible altogether as a text book; for the crudity and inconsistency of the above statements must be apparent to the most obtuse, not to mention the effect upon intelligent Bible students.
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HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?
My life flows on in endless song,
Above earth's lamentation;
I catch the sweet, the glorious hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul,
How can I cease from singing?
Though earthly joys and comforts die
The Lord, my Saviour liveth:
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes: the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway shines
Since first I learned to love it:
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing,
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?
--F. J. Hartley.
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THE SIGN OF HIS PRESENCE.
"What shall be the sign [indication] of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?" `Matt. 24:3`.--Diaglott.
Perhaps remembering that Jesus' first advent had been obscure and unrecognized by many, so that even John who baptized and announced him sent and inquired, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another?" the disciples may have been wondering whether the second coming of Jesus would be likewise obscure and unrecognized, and whether some might not at the time of the second presence, as in their day, be ignorant of the Lord's presence. Or, their query may have been suggested by Jesus' answer to the Pharisees when questioned about the kingdom to come--"The kingdom of God cometh not with observation [outward demonstration and show], neither shall they say, Lo here! or there! for lo, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." `Luke 17:20,21`. R.V. margin.
Whatever induced the question, it is evident from the Lord's answer, that they suspicioned that he might be present yet unrecognized by the world, and possibly by even his saints, unless some expected sign should indicate his presence.
Some who overlook the Lord's statement that the kingdom of heaven cometh not with outward demonstration, and who think that the second advent of Jesus will be accompanied with wonderful outward demonstration, put a very forced construction upon this word sign, and look for some visible manifestation in the sky. With their ideas of the manner of Christ's coming, no sign would be necessary. But such an interpretation of the word sign is out of harmony with common as well as Scriptural usage. Clouds are a sign of storm and rain; smoke is a sign of fire; frost and snow may be signs of cold weather; falling foliage is a sign of autumn. Likewise when the Lord is present, and the specially appointed work of his presence is in progress, those works will, to those who can appreciate them, be a sign of his presence.
All Christians should be most deeply interested in this question, What shall be the sign, indication or evidence of the Lord's presence and the closing of our age? In his answer, the Master's first aim was to put us (for his words were specially for all the Church) on guard against some who would assume his name (Christ-ians), and deceive many by saying that the kingdom of God has come; that they are the DELIVERER or Messiah, and that their dominion is the kingdom of God. He says: "Beware that no one deceive you, for many will assume my name saying, I am the Messiah." (`Matt. 24:5` --Diaglott.) They say, We are Christ's vice-gerents, his representatives; our Church is the body of Christ, and his rightful and promised representative to rule and conquer the world.
As the Lord forewarned, we can see that many have assumed his name, claimed to be his body, and as such the right to rule, and that his kingdom had come. We see this taught not only by Papacy, but by all her daughters-- especially those united with the governments of Europe, and who claim that in them God's kingdom has come. In harmony with this claim is the addition made to the original Lord's Prayer, by which it was made to read, "For thine IS THE kingdom, and the power and the glory forever." These words do not occur in either the Sinaitic or Vatican manuscripts.
Passing on, Jesus tells that a long period must elapse, with its wars, and commotions, persecutions, betrayals, false teachers, etc., and that "the love of the many will cool" (become lukewarm, `Rev. 3:16`), and that patient endurance to the close of the race is needful for all running for the prize held out in this Gospel age. Before this age shall have fully ended the glad tidings of the kingdom will be published in the whole world for a testimony to all the nations, and then will the end come.
These remarks of the Master are in place and needful, but we must remember that they are only a preface to his answer to the question asked, which he now proceeds to answer, saying: "When ye therefore shall SEE the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place" (`v. 15`). Here was to be a sign, which when seen, would be an indication of time for a certain action, because, as we shall see, it will be a part of the evidence, or sign of the presence of the Son of man.
The setting of the abomination is not the sign, but the recognition, or discernment of the abomination as such, and of its improper place, is a sign that greatly increased light is shining, that knowledge is increased, which is elsewhere stated to be evidence of "the time of the end," `Dan. 12:4`.
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The abomination spoken of by Daniel, and again by Paul, is the false system of systems which, assuming the name of Christ, have misrepresented the character, plans and Word of God, and deceived many. It includes not only the mother system, Papacy, but the daughters as well, for she is the mother of abominations as well as an abomination herself; and the entire abomination system being ONE, and of the same spirit, it is so referred to by Jesus, Daniel and Paul. It is "Babylon the great," "the mystery of Iniquity," the "Abomination of the earth." `Rev. 17:5` and `2 Thes. 2:7`, `Dan. 12:11`.
The "Mystery of Iniquity" came into place gradually, and it was not until it had sat for a long time in the holy place, ruling and governing it, that its abominable and detestable character was seen, and still it is not seen by all the saints, many of whom still bow to the teachings and commands of that system which God calls abominable.
The god of this world--Satan--has by many devices blinded the eyes of many, while exalting and keeping in power this system, which is "after" or like him, whose child it is. When his power begins to fail, because the stronger than he begins to spoil his house (`Matt. 12:29`), then this system will begin to be seen, to be revealed and recognized in its true character as "The Mystery of Iniquity." Of this time when the abomination shall be seen occupying and ruling in the Church, the apostle says: "Then shall that wicked be revealed [literally uncovered or exposed] whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming" [literally--destroy with the bright shining of the present one]. `2 Thes. 2:3-6`.
This accords perfectly with Jesus' words: "When ye shall see the abomination;" that is, when the mask shall be pulled off and you shall be enabled to see "The Mystery of Iniquity" as such, then you may know that you are in the consummation of the age, in "the time of the end." Your knowledge will be the sign of this.
The significance of the statement, "Then let them which be in Judea flee," etc., we do not here refer to, as it has already been explained, merely pausing to remark that this prophecy evidently referred to more than the destruction of Jerusalem and the time of trouble which came upon that land in A.D. 70. Proof of this is furnished by comparing `verse 21` with `Danl. 12:1`. This greatest time of trouble is at the close of the Gospel age unquestionably, though the closing features of the Jewish age were typical of it.
"Then [in "the time of the end"] if any man shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not.... Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold he is in the desert, go not forth; behold he is in the secret chambers, believe it not" (`vs. 23,26`). Why should not Jesus' disciples at such a time [now], knowing that they are living in "the time of the end" expect Jesus? Why not then be waiting for a Philip or a Peter to meet us and say, We have found the Lord, Lo here, or lo there? The answer is, that at his second advent he will not be a man limited to place, but a spiritual being, personally present, yet invisible because spiritual, as all spiritual bodies are invisible to human sight. As the lightening (the electric current or fluid) unseen, yet powerful, its presence widely manifested by the light which it causes, "so shall also the presence (improperly translated coming) of the Son of man be." `ver. 27`.
In `verse 28` Jesus teaches that instead of going out to seek him in the wilderness, etc., we shall be gathered together, not physically, but mentally, that all who are his shall come to recognize his presence by the instinct of their new nature, being brought together by the mutual apprehension of the truth as eagles would be drawn to their food.
"And he shall send his angels [messengers --servants] with a great sound of a trumpet [the "seventh trump," or "trump of God"], and they shall gather together [into union and oneness] his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. [The church nominal is the present heavens; the little flock, when by-and-by exalted, will be the new heavens.] The little flock as eagles are being gathered from out the present "heavens." "From the four winds" from every direction; from all denominations. `Matt. 24:28 and 31`.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, etc. (`v. 29`). `Verses 29 and 30` go back to take up the chain of events belonging to "the time of the end" as they relate to the world. That the tribulation referred to is that of `verse 9`, and not that of `verse 21` and `Dan. 12:1`, will be evident as we proceed. [In those days before they end, 1798], but after the tribulation of those days--as Papal persecutions and that of other abominations (systems) began to draw to a close--in 1780 the "Dark Day" occurred, concerning which we read:
"May 19th, 1780.--The darkness commenced between 10 and 11 A.M., and continued until the middle of the next night. The wind was from the south-west, and the darkness appeared to come with the clouds, drifting from that point. It covered the country from New Jersey to Maine, and appears to have been greatest in Massachusetts and the adjoining portion of New Hampshire; yet it was intense in Connecticut and Rhode Island. It was much less in New York, and in New Jersey it was not particularly noticed. Where it most prevailed it was impossible to read ordinary print, or read the time by a watch or clock, or do ordinary business without artificial light. An intelligent observer says: 'Candles were lighted in the houses; fowls retired to roost; the cocks were crowing all around as at break of day; objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance; and everything bore the appearance and gloom of night.'"--Library Universal Knowledge, page 647.
Again we quote:
"The Dark Day, May 19, 1780.--So called on account of a remarkable darkness on that day extending all over New England. In some places persons could not see to read common print in the open air for several hours together. Birds sang their evening song, disappeared, and became silent; fowls went to roost; cattle sought the barn-yard; and candles were lighted in the houses. The obscuration began about ten o'clock in the morning, and continued till the middle of the next night, but with differences of degree and duration in different places. For several days previous the wind had been variable, but chiefly from the south-west and north-east. The true cause of this remarkable phenomenon is not known."--Webster's Unabridged Dictionary Explanatory and Pronouncing Vocabulary, p. 1604.
Herschel says: "The Dark Day in Northern America was one of those wonderful phenomena of nature which will always be read of with interest, but which philosophy is at a loss to explain."
"In the month of May, 1780, there was a very terrific dark day in New England, when 'all faces seemed to gather blackness,' and the people were filled with fear. There was great distress in the village where Edward Lee lived; 'men's hearts failing them for fear' that the judgment day was at hand."--Tract No. 379 of American Tract Society, Life of Edward Lee, of Massachusetts.
The moon was correspondingly darkened at this time from the same causes, whatever they may have been.
In 1833 came the falling of the stars. Not the falling of "fixed stars," truly, for that which can fall is not fixed. Neither could stars many times larger than this earth fall upon it as a fig-tree casteth her unripe figs when shaken by a mighty wind (`Rev. 6:13`). Hence it is very evident that Jesus could not have meant these. But a remarkable meteoric shower, just such as fills the description, and the like of which is not recorded in history, did occur in November, 1833.
We quote the following account from "The American Cyclopaedia," Vol. XI., page 431:
"The year 1833 is memorable for the most magnificent display on record. This was on the night of November 12, and was visible over all the United States, and over a part of Mexico and the West India Islands. Together with the smaller shooting stars which fell like snowflakes and produced phosphorescent lines along their course, there were intermingled large fire-balls, which darted forth at intervals, describing in a few seconds an arc of 30 or 40 degrees. These left behind luminous trains, which remained in view several minutes, and sometimes half an hour or more. One of them, seen in North Carolina, appeared of larger size and greater brilliancy than the moon. Some of the luminous bodies were of irregular form, and remained stationary for a considerable time, emitting streams of light. At Niagara the exhibition was especially brilliant, and probably no spectacle so terribly grand and sublime was ever before beheld by man as that of the firmament descending in fiery torrents over the dark and roaring cataract. It was observed that the lines of all the meteors, if traced back, converged in one quarter of the heavens, which was Leonis Majoris; and this point accompanied the stars in their apparent motion westward, instead of moving with the earth toward the East. The source whence the meteors came was thus shown to be independent of the earth's relation, and exterior to our atmosphere."
Following this, we have had violent shakings of the heavens, or wind storms, the cyclones, etc., of our own day, which answer well to the statement, "The powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
But though we recognize in the events mentioned a literal fulfillment of Jesus' words, it is far from our opinion that this was their complete and only fulfillment,
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or even the most important one. Though the literal meaning is real, and prominently marked, yet none the less real and marked is the meaning conveyed through these words as symbols. The darkening of the sun (symbolic) is the obscuring of the great central light of the gospel, which, even in the dark ages, never ceased to shine--and that central thought is the Ransom. It has been in the past, and to the little flock will continue to be the centre of light and life, around which every other interest revolves, and from which springs every living hope, and which is the author and mainspring of every green and precious promise. No discerning mind can fail to note the fact that in our day this great central fact of the gospel, the Ransom, is being darkened.
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So called "advanced thinkers," in all denominations, are fast either ignoring the Scriptures altogether, or else--far worse--mutilating them by wresting from them the cross and the ransom, attempting to "climb up some other way" and inviting others to do the same.
As we have heretofore shown, this error will prove very successful, and cause many to fall. Many of the brightest stars, the most eloquent and most esteemed in the present heavens, will fall. Alas! has not this begun?
The shaking of the heavens, as the Apostle indicates, "signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things" that are imperfect and of human construction (`Heb. 12:27`). So the present nominal church system shall be "shaken," says Jesus; be "removed," explains the writer of Hebrews; "pass away with a great noise" [commotion], adds Peter; Babylon shall be "cast as a great millstone into the sea," adds John the Revelator (`Rev. 18:21`); and thus all agree.
"THEN shall appear the sign [evidence] of the Son of Man in heaven." Some have imagined that the events mentioned above [the literal darkening of the sun, etc.] were the sign, but the language is explicit; after these events comes the sign here referred to. But notice: it is a sign to the world, not to the saints; they will have had evidence of the Lord's presence long before. Then shall appear the sign [evidence of the presence] of the Son of Man in heaven, in the new heavens--new spiritual powers then coming into control and supplanting the old shaking and falling spiritual powers. The passing away of present nominal church influence and power, will seriously affect all the tribes of earth. Already the wise and mighty of this world, such as Prince Bismarck, are beginning to see the value of the nominal church, with its threatenings of eternal torture, as a restraint upon the people; and as these systems are "shaken," it becomes the precursor of the overthrow of kingdoms and all organized society, for earth shall be shaken as well as the heavens. `Heb. 12:26`.
These shakings in the church nominal, and the raising up of new heavens or spiritual powers, BECOME A SIGN to the peoples of earth, that their course in evil, oppression and injustice is surely and swiftly drawing to a close. They see with dread the changes coming, being unable to discern what shall be the outcome. They see the mighty overturning power and mourn because of him (Christ) long before they realize that it is the Lord's doings, or that he wounds to heal and smites to bless.
But long before this--yes, before Babylon shall have completely fallen, and before these outward signs shall have convinced the world that great changes are in process--the saints, by taking heed to the sure word of prophecy, know of the presence of the Lord. He has not left them in darkness, that that day should come upon them as a thief (`1 Thes. 5:4`). And in this same connection the Lord tells us that as the fig tree putting forth leaves would be a sign of summer nigh, so likewise, when these things begin to come to pass, at the very first we should be in such a watching attitude that we would note the first indications of the new rulership and the overturning of the institutions and systems condemned by our King.
What, then, is the sign of Jesus' presence? To some, sign was unnecessary; they being instructed by the sure word of prophecy were awake and looking, and when they saw the mystery of iniquity, Babylon, in the holy place, and heard from the Scriptures that she was cast off from favor, they said, This as well as prophecy tells me that the King is here, for this is his first work, to separate in the Church the wheat from the tares, and to "cast away" or "spew out" the unfit. Hence the words, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen; come out of her my people," became corroborative of the Lord's presence, who shall destroy her by the bright shining of his presence (`2 Thes. 2:8`). The evidence of the King's presence is increasing, and soon all will be able to recognize that a new ruler has the control.
One of the signs which Jesus gave John when he asked, "Art thou he that should come?"--a sign that he, the true Messiah, was then present, was, "Go, tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me." `Luke 7:20,23`.
And when we remember that the first advent was but a foretaste of the blessings which the second advent was to bring in fullest, grandest measure, we cannot but suppose that similar manifestations will accompany Jesus' second presence in this world. Since now he is a spiritual being, and no longer human, we might reasonably expect that human agencies would be the channels by and through which the lame would be made to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the poor to have the real gospel, "good tidings," preached to them.
And is not this the case? Are not eyes and ears long closed by prejudice, superstition and human tradition being opened? Are not those who have long been lame, and who have halted between the service of God and the devil, been healed by the truth? Is not the gospel, "good tidings," being preached to the poor and to them that have no money? Truly yes; the work now is the same as at the first advent, but in harmony with every other part, it is on a higher plane.
Undoubtedly those prophecies which refer to the blessings of the Millennial age, which tell of the blind eyes being opened and the deaf ears unstopped, refer primarily and chiefly to the opening of the eyes of the understanding, and the removal of the impediments of ignorance and prejudice from the hearing of faith, yet we know that restitution will bring with it also physical healing, and the two, mental and physical healings will go hand in hand throughout the world blessing the sin-crippled of earth in the name of him who bought them with his own precious blood.
This being the case, it should not, and does not, surprise us that now both phases of healing are in progress, and being blessed each to its class. Nor should it surprise us that different messengers or agencies are used in the different branches of the work. The one carrying a natural blessing to natural men, and the other bearing spiritual blessings to the spiritual. To every man his work.
And so it is. While we are busily engaged ministering the spiritual blessings, we note with pleasure the progress of physical blessings to natural men-- the beginning of restitution. Truly wonderful and very gracious manifestations of God's power are the faith-healings of which we now so frequently hear, and in contact with which we are sometimes thrown, though to us not so precious, nor so refreshing, nor so frequent as the evidences of spiritual blessing with which we come in contact daily.
We call attention to the fact that the nominal church is entirely ignored, and stands unused of the Master in the distribution of either the physical or spiritual healings. She is neither cold nor hot, and is spewed out of the Lord's mouth and is no longer used as his agency or mouthpiece. Would that she could see her blindness and would put on the eye salve, that she might realize her poverty and nakedness; but instead, she says, "I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing." `Rev. 3:17`.
Notice again, that the physical healings now, as at the first advent, are not performed upon the saints, but rather upon those not consecrated to sacrifice, and even among the worldly. Note the class now healed physically, and then read of those healed by Jesus and the disciples; they are alike. Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, the ruler's servant, the men at the pool, the ten lepers. Lazarus even is not mentioned as a disciple; none of the disciples were ever miraculously healed. Paul's sore eyes were not healed, though he besought the Lord on the subject thrice; Timothy had "often infirmities" (`1 Tim. 5:23`); Epaphroditus was sick nigh unto death (`Phil. 2:25,27`), and Trophimus also (`2 Tim. 4:20`); yet there is no record of any faith-healing or miracle for their recovery. The saints have been treated physically, much as other men.
The reason of this is not difficult of apprehension. As with the Master it was said, "He saved others, himself he cannot save," so it may be said of the saints: They may pray for and be the instruments in healing others, but themselves they cannot heal. They follow the Master's foot steps of sacrifice even unto death.
If Jesus had attempted to save his own life after having consecrated it to death, he would thereby have lost it, as well as have failed to become Redeemer of the race, since to violate his covenant would have been sin. So with those
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who, being purged from sin, justified as men by Jesus' ransom, and who then have presented their justified manhood a living sacrifice--joining it in sacrifice with that of Jesus, to thus become sharers in the bearing of the sins of the world. They are then bound to and by their covenant, and when in harmony with that covenant, human honors, pleasures, comforts, health and life are surrendered, it would certainly be an attempt to take back our sacrifice should we ask for human blessings and privileges to be restored to us, though we may ask these human blessings for any who have not consecrated them in sacrifice. Thus is it true of the body as it was of the head, "He saved others, himself he cannot save." "As he is so are we in this world." `1 Jno. 4:17`.
TO ALL WE WOULD SAY.
We are living in a favored and precious time, for though it is the hour of trial coming upon earth (`Rev. 3:10`), it is to those who can discern the Lord's presence, etc., a precious and favored time correspondingly. Jesus' first advent was a time similar--of trial to all Israel, and of special favor and blessing to every Israelite indeed. In reference to his presence Jesus said: "Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see these things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." `Matt. 13:16,17`.
Their privilege to hear from Jesus' lips "dark sayings" and "parables" was great, but how much greater is the present privilege of having the Master gird himself and cause us to sit down to meat and come forth to serve us (`Luke 12:37`), disclosing to us the mystery hid from ages and generations, and expounding to us his parables and dark sayings. Truly, the bright shining of the present one shall not only consume and destroy Babylon and all other systems of error which enslave the redeemed, but also enlightens, cheers and refreshes all in harmony with truth.
Now, as at the first advent, those who most quickly conform heart and life to Jesus' teachings will be soonest and most blessed, while those who like the Pharisees will not see, but on the contrary pervert the truths now due and oppose them, shall have their portion with the hypocrites in the fire of trouble now kindling.
The words of inspiration now applicable are, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings, be instructed ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before him with trembling. Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his anger is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." `Psalm 2:9-12`. The kingdoms of earth that would stand should know that the present is but a brief space--a moment as it were before the conflict. Now or never (as nations) they may recognize the new King by abandoning oppression and establishing justice--righteousness. Now is the time to concede to all men their natural rights, restore and remunerate for past wrongs, and agree with their adversary quickly. It is almost too late now to fill the chasm which the torrents of human passion daily make wider. But they will not heed, and shall be dashed in pieces as a potter's vessel (`Rev. 2:27`). The word of the Lord does not profit them, not being believed. Nevertheless it has been unto them "line upon line," and "precept upon precept," "that they might go, and fall backward and be broken, and snared and taken." `Isa. 28:13`.
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"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord." `Heb. 12:14`.
Seeing the cold, lifeless formality that increasingly prevails in the Nominal Church, the evident lack of growth in grace, and its growing disposition to imbibe the spirit and conform to the customs, ideas, etc., of the world, many of God's children, still fettered in a measure by her supposed divine authority, are becoming interested in what is generally termed the holiness movement. Holiness meetings, holiness camp-meetings, conventions, etc., as well as holiness periodicals, are becoming quite common.
That the movement is one actuated by right motives, and measurably in the right direction, we do not question; yet, were these courageous enough to cast off all the slavish fetters of Babylon, and to walk out fearlessly into the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free, trusting in him alone, they would come much nearer the true idea of holiness. Holiness means a setting apart, sanctifying, separating from the world, by divine authority, and for the accomplishment of the divine purposes. That holiness means separation from the world all will agree, though few consult the Scriptures sufficiently to know to what intent the Lord would have them separate.
May we not be separate from the world and still be far from the narrow path to which we have been called? The class termed holiness, people generally believe that their single aim should be to so subdue sin in themselves as to be able to stand approved of God, being in complete conformity to all his requirements in thought, word and deed. Some claim to have reached this desirable perfection, while others, painfully conscious of their weakness and discouraged by their repeated efforts and failures, are almost in despair of ever reaching it. And not discerning the Lord's purpose in calling them to separation from the world, they fall into the error of looking upon these efforts as a means to their salvation. Many become self-righteous and boastful of their attainments, and consequent hopes of salvation, while the more humble discouraged almost lose faith in God and entertain but a faint indefinite hope of salvation.
After all the lessons given, it should be plain to all that no imperfect man is able to keep blamelessly God's perfect law. The law is the full measure of a perfect man's ability, and Adam and Jesus were the only perfect men, and hence the only two who could keep it. Israel tried it for nearly two thousand years, and though that people have furnished us many worthy examples, not one of them was able to merit life by keeping the law, save Jesus only. The very object of the giving of the law to men who were unable to keep it, was to convince of shortcomings, and to lead to trust in Christ, alone, for salvation. It is only self-deception to claim actual perfection, though the weakest child of God clothed with the imputed merit of Christ, is reckoned perfect by our Father.
This trusting in the merit of Christ, and striving to live in exact harmony with his revealed will, which implies the diligent searching of the Scriptures to know what that will is, is the true life of holiness--of separation from the world --and of union and communion with God. Such cannot help bearing fruit.
It should be borne in mind that the statement of `Heb. 12:14` is addressed to the Church. The Church were taught to look for the Lord's appearing, which Paul explained would be in a manner unobserved by the world, and as a thief in the night. When his presence is due, only those will be able to see (Gr., horao--discern) it who are separate from
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the world in spirit, and who are searching the Scriptures to know the signs of his presence. Without holiness [separation, setting apart to God's service] no man shall see [discern] the Lord.
But a time shall come when many who are not holy will discern the Lord's presence; for we are told that "every eye shall see him." The world will see --recognize him, when his judgments make his presence manifest to all. `Isa. 26:9`.
This text has very frequently been misused in urging the world to become Christians. Christian people who have not carefully considered its meaning tell the world that without holiness they shall not see the Lord; and then, when controverting the truth as to the manner of Christ's coming, the very same class will confidently quote, "Every eye shall see him." Do they believe that all shall become holy? No; this is far from their thought. Where then is the harmony? Is there discord in the statements of God's word? To believe so is to believe the Scriptures unsound and unworthy of confidence. But such is the sad confusion into which the teaching of the nominal church has led, and such the results which its too careless handling of the word of God has brought about. The confusion is fast ripening into open infidelity.
May God help those of his children who are still within her to see her confusion, and then courageously to come out and pursue holiness, without which no man shall now be able to discern the Lord's presence.
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AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC.
"Jehovah hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec." `Psa. 110:4`.
A priest, in the only true sense, is a mediator between God and fallen creatures, the object of such mediation being to restore and establish harmony. To accomplish this work the mediator must be one who is acceptable to both parties; otherwise the work of reconciliation cannot be accomplished.
The office of the priest or mediator between God and man is to restore to perfection and consequent harmony with God, a whole race of beings condemned to death, and already dead or dying. Hence this priest must of necessity be "mighty to save." (`Psa. 89:19`.) He must have both right and power to recall the dead to life, and ability to instruct and discipline, and thus to lead every willing subject back to the perfect estate from which Adam, and the race through him, fell. To secure this right, he must first satisfy the demands of Justice, which required the extinction of the human race; and these demands of Justice could only be met by a sacrifice of equivalent value--a human life for a human life. The life of Adam, and all represented in him, might only be redeemed by another perfect human being. And so it was--"Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection from the dead." (`1 Cor. 15:21`.) By the sacrifice of a perfect human existence, then, the right of the priest to restore is secured.
But beyond the right, or privilege, of restoring, the priest must have the power, and power would of necessity presuppose his own everlasting existence. He must have power to create, since to restore to being that which had completely lost existence, is to re-create it, and is a greater work even than the first creation; he must also have perfect knowledge, both of God's requirements and of human necessities, as well as perfect ability, to guide a race so destitute, back to the glorious heights of perfection and blessed harmony and communion with God.
What an office! Who would presume to assume such a title? It belongs really and only to Jehovah's Anointed. Even Jesus, "the Anointed one, did not glorify himself to become a High-Priest," but he has "been declared by God a High-Priest according to the order of Melchisedec." (`Heb. 5:5,10`, Diaglott.) Jehovah honored him by inviting him to that position, and giving him all power to fill it. In harmony with God's plan, not only has Jesus, his anointed one, been chosen as the Chief or High-Priest, but the "little flock" who follow him in sacrifice now are called to be "joint heirs" with him in the same honor. If we suffer with him we shall also be glorified together.
Jesus alone is the priest, but when redeemed by his death and associated with him in sacrifice now, and in divine power hereafter, we are counted in with him, and together with him constitute the great prophet, priest and king promised to bless the groaning creation --the seed of promise.
From these considerations it should be plain to all that the real priest is just as truly a king, in whose hand absolute power is vested. And in looking back to the types or illustrations God has given us, we find just such an illustration in Melchisedec, who was "a priest upon his throne." Other illustrations of Christ as a priest are given in the Aaronic priesthood, where the special features of the redemptive sacrifice are shadowed forth--its perfection, its completeness, its acceptableness, as also the share which the little flock has with him in that sacrifice.
Christ was not constituted a priest after the Aaronic order. The Aaronic priesthood sprung from the tribe of Levi, while "our Lord (according to the flesh) sprung from the tribe of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood"; and the members of his body are chiefly chosen from among the Gentiles. As a man, Jesus was not a priest, neither as men are the saints members of the royal priesthood, but as "new creatures" they shall hold and execute their office. Jesus as a "new creature," "partaker of the divine nature" (which he was from the time of his baptism) was the priest, and as a priest he offered up his perfect human nature an acceptable sacrifice to God. He consecrated or offered himself in sacrifice before he became the priest, but the anointing was necessary to enable him to accomplish the sacrifice as well as to apply its benefits to men. The human nature, when sacrificed, could do nothing more; it must remain a sacrifice forever; but the new nature, fully developed in the resurrection, has "all power in heaven and in earth." `Matt. 28:18`.
The new nature (the priest) is not of the Aaronic order; it does not trace its lineage to any human source. This fact is strikingly typified in the priesthood of Melchisedec, whose lineage is not recorded, and thus is typified the endless life of Christ. In this type the work of sacrifice is not shown, as he represents the Christ glorified and reigning after the work of sacrifice has been completed, and the divine nature fully perfected.
In `Heb. 7`, this Melchisedec is declared to be greater than Abraham, thus showing that the divine Christ will be greater, and therefore able to bless the "friends of God" on the human plane.
"Wherefore he [Christ] is able to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens" [of the divine nature]. `Heb. 7:25,26`. And this blessed assurance of such a priest, so mighty to save, is confirmed unto us by the oath of Jehovah. (`Heb. 7:21`; `Psa. 110:4`.) What strong consolation then may those have, who have fled to Jehovah's Anointed for refuge: "Jehovah
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hath sworn, and will not repent. Thou are a priest forever after the order (or manner) of Melchisedec." What believer, then, may not read his title clear to the promised restitution? and what justified one who has offered himself as a living sacrifice may not read his title clear to joint-heirship with the Head in that glorious anointed body.
"Wherefore, holy [justified] brethren partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus...for we have become associates of the Anointed if indeed we hold fast the beginning of our confidence, firm to the end." `Heb. 3:1,14`, Diaglott.)
We conclude, then, that while the Aaronic priesthood furnishes typical illustrations of the sacrifices and sufferings of Christ and the blessings to follow, yet, as a system, it does not completely illustrate the glorious, everlasting and unchangeable character of his priesthood during the Millennial Age; and for this cause Melchisedec was presented that thus might be shown his glorious office of priest while king--a priest upon his throne. Here, too, the body of Christ is no longer shown as separate individuals, but in the ONE, complete. In the work of sacrifice we have seen the head or chief priest and the under priests more or less separately sacrificing, as represented in Aaron and the under priests, but in the future glory, all will be united as represented in Melchisedec alone.
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"TO US THERE IS ONE GOD."
John Wesley preached a sermon on, and in support of, the Trinity, from `1 John 5:7`. In that sermon he quotes the words of Servetus, viz., "I scruple using the words Trinity and Persons because I do not find those terms in the Bible." His belief in the doctrine of the Trinity was based upon `1 John 5:7`. Said he, "I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained as they lie in the text." Had the Sinaitic Manuscript (the oldest, most complete and most authentic MS.) been found in Wesley's time, would he have believed in the union of three persons in the Deity? We think not. He labored hard to prove this doctrine because he believed that `1 John 5:7` was genuine.
There is a good bit of sophism in some of Wesley's argument, as there always is where men attempt to make error appear as truth. He asks--"How do the rays of light from a candle brought into the room, instantly disperse into every corner? Again, here are three candles, yet there is but one light. Explain this, and I will explain the three one God."
(1) We would suggest, bring three hundred or three thousand candles into the room and there is but one light, in just the same sense that the rays from the three candles make but one light. (2) Bring a candle, an oil lamp, a gas lamp or an electric lamp into the room; would not their light blend into one?
Of these light-givers, might not one be greater than all the others, and yet the light, or rays of light, blend so as to be one light? The lamps are not one lamp, yet they may be one in the sense of giving one light, because their rays of light so agree, or harmonize as to blend into one. Therefore we believe the Father and Son are two, and not one being.
They are one, only in the sense of being in harmony. So far as light or truth is concerned, that which shines from the Father, through the Son [For said Jesus, "I can of myself do nothing." "I seek not mine own will; but the will of him that sent me," `John 5:30`. "The Son can do nothing of himself," etc., `John 5:19`.], and through the saints blends into one, and is one light.
In this sense Christ is one with the Father, and his followers are one in him, even as he is one in the Father. (`John 17:11,21,22,23`.)
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The truth, like light, always blends and harmonizes, through whatever medium it shines. Whether you bring into the room three hundred candles, or whether the rays of light shine from various objects--the candle, the oil lamp, the gas jet, or the sun--the light will blend and harmonize, thus forming but one light.
All light being of the same nature, it blends and harmonizes into one, yet the objects from which the rays of light shine may differ in their capacity to transmit it. Then if all light and all truth is the same, may not all life be the same, and do not these all issue from the same fountain? Is not God that fountain?
None of these mediums through which light is given have any exhaustless supply in themselves. So with life. None but God possessed underived, unlimited, exhaustless life. The word in Scripture used to denote this independent life is immortality. It signifies death-proof. Scripture ascribes it to God, as it is written, "God only hath immortality," etc. (`1 Tim. 6:16`, and `1:17`.)
But, again, we read that the Father who alone possessed this independent life, has bestowed this same nature upon our Lord Jesus Christ. "For as the Father hath life in himself (God's life being in himself and not drawn from other sources or dependent upon other things), so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself," `John 5:26`. Thus we see that the Father gave to the Son to possess immortality.
And again, we see that God purposes to call out of the human race a few, a "little flock," who by obedience to certain conditions shall become "sons of God," "new creatures"--partakers of the divine nature.
Thus we see that immortality was given to the Son, and is also promised as a gift to those believers in and followers of Christ, "who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honor and IMMORTALITY" (`Rom. 2:7`); who "fight the good fight of faith (and thus), lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called." `1 Tim. 6:12`.
Christ's followers, the "little flock," the "bride" company, when united to him will be given immortality--become partakers of the divine nature, be adopted into the divine family of God, thus becoming heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ--being made one with him in the same sense that the Father and Son are one. `John 10:30`, and `17:11,21,22,23`. Thus will their lives harmonize and blend, yet the Father will be greater than all (`John 10:29`), even "the Son himself being subject unto him, that God may be all in all." `1 Cor. 15:28`.
Let us not attach a meaning to one portion of Scripture that will flatly contradict another. That the Father and Son are one we acknowledge, but not in a sense that contradicts the words, "My Father is greater than I" (`John 14:28`); "my Father is greater than all" (`John 10:29`), and many other scriptures.
"To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and we through him" (`1 Cor. 8:6`), and if there be one hundred and forty-four thousand heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (partakers with him of the divine nature), yet all these may be one, in harmony with the Father, but not in person, as taught by the creeds of men.
WM. C. MACMILLAN.
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SUGGESTIONS TO BIBLE STUDENTS.
A brother writes, inquiring, "From what source are the meanings of the Bible symbols derived?" and says he cannot get away from their wonderful aptness and the remarkable light they throw on the word, but that he cannot always trace their derivation. And again he inquires, "How do you know which is symbolic and which literal? Where does the one end and the other begin?"
These queries suggest to us the propriety of calling attention to several items which we think should be observed by students of the Scripture:
First, we should remember that the Scriptures were intended to be the theological text book, and the statement and interpreter of divine law for all the world; that it was written from a standpoint of scientific knowledge and prophetic foresight beyond the knowledge of men either in the past or present, and that, what is prophecy to one age becomes history to a future age. It was not God's purpose to disclose all his plans to man at once, nor yet to leave him in total ignorance; hence truths relative to the future are generally expressed in types and symbols and dark sayings.
Secondly, we should always observe the various classes to which the epistles, gospels, prophecies, &c., are specially addressed; for although all the Scriptures will in the future be profitable to all men, certain portions of them have special reference to special classes now. For instance, the law given only to Israel to bring them to, or to prepare them to accept Christ, will in the future be to all men, to bring them to perfection. So also the instructions now given specially
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to the gospel church, pointing out their stormy pathway of suffering, will in the future, show the world how well the Christ is prepared to sympathize and succor all those then striving to overcome evil, and grow up to perfection.
If we carefully note the opening address of each of the epistles, of the `Acts` of the Apostles, and the `Revelation`, we will notice that, with one exception (the epistle of James), each is addressed to the saints, the sanctified in Christ Jesus, either as a class, or, as in a few cases, to individual saints, the contents being applicable to the entire church. It will also be noticed that the teaching of Jesus, as recorded in the four Gospels, was not an effort to persuade men to be his disciples, but rather to confirm the faith of those who had already become his disciples. He opened his mouth in parables and dark sayings to the multitude, and explained them privately to his disciples. So we find the O.T. abounding in types, symbols, and many peculiar items of history, which to the world, at the present time, have little or no interest except as matters of jest and ridicule, but which by the consecrated Bible student are found to contain concealed links of truth which form parts of the one unbroken chain of the divine testimony.
In the present time the Bible proves therefore to be of special interest and profit, only to consecrated students, and vain is the hope of converting the world by opening its pages before eyes blinded by prejudice and pride. Within the present century, Bibles have been printed by the million and scattered over the world like autumn leaves, but they are not read by the million, and they are not studied even by those who are so zealously engaged in the commendable work of publishing them. All except consecrated saints are in profound ignorance of the mass of its precious truth. Is it then asked, How is the world to be brought to a knowledge of the truth? We answer, through the agency of the living teacher. By this means, either directly or indirectly, the first interest is always awakened. It has been so in the past; it is so in the present, and it will be so in the future. And for this reason God has never left himself without a living witness in the world. Paul said, How shall they hear without a preacher? (`Rom. 10:14`.) And again he said, "Ye are our epistle known and read of all men." The world will read the living epistles, when they will not read the written one.
For this reason Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth," and again, "Ye are the light of the world"--"Let your light shine." If men see our light, they will in time believe in it, and will be attracted to the fountain whence we received it--the word of God. This explains why the Scriptures are directed so expressly to the saints. The great Prophet, or Teacher of the next age-- the Christ, head and body--(`Deut. 18:15`) is now being prepared, educated, disciplined and instructed for a great missionary work. The school of Christ in this age is preparing the teachers of the world for the incoming Millennial age.
Thirdly, we should notice that spiritual truths, or those truths relating to our "high calling" to a spiritual nature, have only been brought to light since Pentecost; and whatever reference is made to these spiritual truths in former writings, was only shadowed forth in types and symbols, and dark sayings, impossible to be interpreted until the spirit (mind) of God, through the Apostles' writings, revealed their significance to the saints. Even Jesus did not teach this line of truth, except in parables and dark sayings, for the time had not yet come. He said, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now; howbeit when he the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth." (`John 16:12`.) Consequently we find those portions of the Scriptures written after Pentecost devoted largely to the expounding of the O.T. Scriptures, as well as adding new elements of truth in the light of which other dark sayings and symbols become luminous. The New Testament thus becomes the key to the old.
Let us look, for instance, at a few illustrations as to how the key is used. Paul declares (`Heb. 9:8-10`, and `10:1`) that the Tabernacle, and its service and ceremonies were typical. This key throws open a wide door for investigation; and following the Apostle's exposition, we see the deep significance of
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its many ceremonies. [See "Tabernacle Teachings."] We are also shown that the rule in interpreting types and symbols is their exact fitness to their antitypes and their perfect harmony with every principle and statement of the inspired writers. If our interpretation of any type or symbol jars in the least with any other statement of the word, we have no right to use it. We may be sure we are not correct.
Take, for instance, the symbols earth, sea, mountain, hill. We know that they are used in a symbolic sense when they have a fitness as symbols, and when, if understood literally, they would be out of harmony with the context, or with other portions of Scripture. Thus, in `Rev. 21:1`, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." If this were literal it would be a contradiction of `Eccl. 1:4` "The earth abideth forever." But being elsewhere informed that society, as at present organized under civil and so-called religious restraint, but really held in slavery under Satan, the prince of this world, is to be dissolved, and that the elements of tyranny, ignorance and superstition, which heretofore bound them are to melt away (`2 Pet. 3:10-12`; `John 12:31`) we see that the expression, "the first earth passed away," would be a fitting symbol of such an event, and that the new earth would strikingly symbolize the new organization of society under "The Prince of Peace." And we find that this application fits, in every instance, where earth is used as a symbol.
While earth thus represents organized and settled society, sea, in contrast with it, fittingly represents the more unrestrained and ungovernable masses of men easily stirred and influenced by the storm, hence the fitness of the statement that under the new heavens there shall be no more SEA.
As mountains and hills tower above the earth, so the civil powers of earth are aptly symbolized by them, mountains being the great powers, and hills the lesser. "Therefore, will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains [present governments] be carried into the midst of the sea"-- overthrown by a general uprising of the people. (`Psa. 46:2`.)
These will serve as illustrations. They might be multiplied beyond the limit of our space. The fitness of their application, and their harmonious fitness in every instance where they are used symbolically, is clear evidence of the correctness of their application. In fact, symbols, types, parables and all dark sayings of Scripture, are subject to this same test. When asked to interpret one of his parables, Jesus replied, "Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?" (`Mark 4:10-13`.) He expected them to think if they would see the point in his sayings. He, therefore, only explained the one parable and left us to find the significance of the others by study, comparison and observation of his methods and principles. Any interpretation which is out of harmony with the general principles laid down in the Scriptures, or at variance with any plain, direct statement, may be set down as incorrect, whether we see a better one or not.
Since it is necessary to have the mind or plan of God clearly before our minds; and to do this requires sympathy and harmony; and since to have sympathy of thought, and to be able to appreciate God's plans, is requisite to our preparation for the study of the symbols of Revelation and the types of the Old Testament, it is evident that these symbols are not, at the present time, given to, nor for, any but the saints: "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven." It is further evident that these revelations of God's plans, etc., are not given to produce sanctification (consecration), but to strengthen, and confirm, and upbuild, those who are sanctified (set apart)--"that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works"--that such, being acquainted with the divine designs, may be thus enabled to work and sacrifice in harmony with the progressing development of that plan.
Hence the appreciation of the fitness of the symbols and types, is the result of possessing the spirit or mind of Christ; and this spirit of truth guides quietly into one truth after another, as each becomes due. With that guidance the fitness is manifest; without it, it is undiscernable.
MRS. C. T. R.
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TELESCOPIC AND MICROSCOPIC VISION.
The human eye is beautifully adapted to human needs and human enjoyment, yet only when aided by the telescope, and the microscope, do we discover those wonders of nature which hold us in mute astonishment. The naked eye gathers in much of the glory that surrounds us, but unaided it cannot explore the seeming secrets of nature.
Assisted by the telescope men view the distant heavenly bodies, and study their order of arrangement, magnitudes, distances, motions, periods of revolution, eclipses, etc., and the causes of their various phenomena, and aided by the microscope we are enabled to study forms of earthly life and agencies of power invisible because of their minuteness. Thus telescopic and microscopic vision together display the glory of God's work. But suppose the eye were so formed as to have naturally both the telescopic and microscopic vision, would it be to human advantage? No, the vision of immensity, were it continually spread before us, would be wearisome to eye and brain, and leave no field for investigation and the joy of finding something new; and the constant vision of infinitesimal matter and life would mar almost everything of beauty.
As the natural eye is aided by the telescope and the microscope, to behold the wonders of the material universe, so we find the Word of God furnishing both the telescope and the microscope of divine truth. By the aid of the divine telescope we have been enabled to view God's plan as a whole, and to see that it contemplates the highest glory, perfection and permanent establishment of all things in the heavens and in the earth. By its aid we are enabled also to study the order of God's plan, to estimate the relative magnitudes of his various promises, to compute the distances in time, to observe the orderly motions in the various parts of God's plan, to mark the periods of the revolution of each part, and also to discover the causes, by which such changes are brought about.
You who have learned to use it, adjust your telescope again, that you may view the wondrous plan of God, which is wide as the material universe which he created, and includes in its gracious provisions all of his creatures both heavenly and earthly.
Viewing it as a whole, we have seen its order to be, first, creation; secondly, discipline and development; thirdly, perfection, blessedness and eternal glory. We first find that Jehovah's direct creation began and ended in his Son, our Lord and Saviour. He was the first and only begotten, and by him as Jehovah's agent, is all the divine purpose to be accomplished (`Rev. 1:8`). The Father's delight is in the Son, and the Father's glory is manifested in him. Yet just as truly does it teach that it is Jehovah's work, since it is his plan and power exercised through his Son.
Leaving our observations of his creative work, we turn to view the great plan for the discipline and development of his intelligent creatures. We have seen that all were created perfect, yet free to choose good or evil, and that for wise and benevolent purposes in God's economy, evil has been permitted to run its dreadful course in the human race and among some of the angels. We see also that the great plan for human redemption and restoration, is so far reaching in its results as to finally settle the great controversy between good and evil for all time and for all creatures. Evil is now permitted to exist and flourish for purposes of discipline and development, and when this is accomplished it shall be forever banished, never again to mar the face of God's finished work.
If God's creative work declares his glory, with at least equal force, will his work of discipline and development declare it when fully comprehended.
But again, leaving these observations, turn your telescope to the still more distant future. Dimly outlined because of its greater distance, the glorious future of eternal blessedness bursts upon our enraptured vision, beginning at the close of the millennium with the great jubilee of jubilee--the jubilee of the universe-- when Christ shall have put all enemies under his feet. `1 Cor. 15:25`.
Having taken these telescopic observations of the outlines of God's great plan, we note the order of its development, and from the data furnished in the Scriptures, and our observations of passing events, we are enabled to compute the distance in time, even to the final consummation--to the great jubilee of jubilees. We have already marked the completed revolution of several great dispensational periods, and now realize that we are in the ending of another and just approaching the dawn of the day of Christ, whose blessed reign shall wipe out the last vestige of evil and usher in the universal jubilee.
As we study these great revolutions in their minor details, we discover the principles and causes of their movements. We see that the first dispensation under the ministration of angels, completed its revolution at the time of the flood, proving the inability of angelic power to rescue man; we see the law dispensation closing at the first advent of Christ, proving the inability of
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man to save himself by obedience to the law; now we see also the gospel dispensation ending, completing the selection of God's anointed priest who alone can accomplish the great work. At the same time we see the dominion of evil completing its course. In all these great and the many minor movements of the various agencies of God's plan which have been brought to our attention, we see the one central and unchangeable purpose of God--the final, permanent establishment of righteousness, peace and everlasting bliss on a basis which recognizes the freedom of the individual will, yet by the tender cord of love links that will indissolubly to the divine will as the only condition of everlasting life and favor.
Seeing thus the grandeur of the work to be accomplished through our Lord Jesus, and the high honor bestowed upon him by the Father, we are enabled to estimate, to some extent, the exceeding great and precious promises made TO US as members of his church--the "eternal weight of glory" to be shared by us, his joint-heirs. And indeed this is the chief object and value of these glorious telescopic visions of the divine purpose; and that we may be encouraged to pursue the narrow way to its end, we should take frequent observations. Astronomers, as they study the material universe, become completely absorbed in it, and seem to live in an atmosphere and be filled with a joy above other men; but how much more inspiring are the views which we have been permitted to take, and the wonderful truths and calculations deduced from them! Here is a science which towers above every other, and a philosophy which, divinely directed, probes the hitherto hidden things of God.
But none can enter the watch tower of Zion, or use the divine telescope, who do not come with meek and teachable spirit, with consecrated hearts, and a student's purpose to know the truth. To such the Lord will blessedly disclose the riches of his grace.
But what of the microscope? Thus far we have only been glancing briefly at the telescopic visions of God's Word; but what, in comparison, we may term the microscopic views, also wondrously declare the glory of God. They declare his glory most emphatically to the natural man, for they are such as the natural man can more readily grasp and accept. These relate to the natural man, and his restoration to human perfection. The telescopic views are chiefly for those
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who are "new creatures" and heirs together with Christ. We turn the telescope heavenward, the microscope earthward; and the latter discloses the promises of restitution. Close examination shows the blessedness of that restored estate--perfect manhood--and the necessary discipline to lead the race to it; the judgments of God in the punishments of the wicked for their correction, and rewarding the righteous; and the doom pronounced against present evil systems, ecclesiastical, civil, and social, which, defying the power of the Almighty, bind and oppress mankind.
These microscopic views disclose to the vision of faith a physical earth that shall be man's Paradise restored--"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad...and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon....And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water." It points to the fact that all obstacles shall be removed from the way to holiness--"No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there." It shows that all eyes and ears shall be opened to receive the truth, to be instructed in the right ways of the Lord--"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing."
It tells of the joyful progress of mankind towards perfection under that wise beneficent reign of Christ--"And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." (`Isa. 35`.)
Thus these microscopic views reveal the blessed transformation which not only awaits mankind, but which also awaits the earth, which was "made to be inhabited."
"And still new beauties do we see,
And still increasing light."
Let every child of God dig for these treasures of divine truth, long buried by divine wisdom, for our present comfort and joy, and proclaim to the world the blessed assurance that its paradise is to be restored, and that the great Restorer is soon to begin the glorious work.
Truth on every subject, has always met with opposition. Science and philosophy have had to contend for every inch of footing gained. The use of the telescope and microscope were once condemned as improper, prying into God's secrets. And none the less is the searching of the Scriptures, this making use of the Divinely-given telescope and microscope, opposed to-day on the very same ground--an improper prying into the mysteries of God. Blinded indeed is that child of God who cannot discern such sophistry, and the dark source from whence such suggestions come. Does our Father give us a revelation of his will and purposes, and forbid our study of it? Let us search and see, and be filled with the spirit and inspiration of these blessed truths; so shall we be enabled to run joyfully and with patience the race set before us.
MRS. C. T. R.
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THE PROPHETIC ASPECT.
Babylon is fallen, is fallen. `Rev. 14:8`; `17:5`; `18:2`. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which never can have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain. `Isaiah 56:10,11`.
The words here used by the Prophet and Revelator to describe the last or Laodicean (`Rev. 3`) stage of the gospel house and her ministers (watchmen) are evidently now fulfilling in the demoralized condition of the nominal church, and in her culpable negligence and wilful ignorance of the character of God, and the plan of redemption. This is shown by the tenacity with which she holds to theories of the dark ages established on false premises, borrowed from heathen fables without a shadow of foundation, and out of harmony or in direct conflict with positive Scripture testimony; and more recently by the endorsement and adoption of Evolution and other devices of Satan which ignore by inference or positive statement the fall of man and his redemption, and yet professedly and with great inconsistency maintain that the Scriptures are the word of God, as was done recently by the directors of a Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as reported in the Toledo Blade, which we quote below:
EVOLUTION ENDORSED BY PRESBYTERIANS.
Report of Dr. Woodrow's Address-- The Creation of Adam--Four Synods to Adjudicate the Matter.
COLUMBIA, S.C., Sep. 20.--The annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Theological Presbyterian Church has adjourned. The directors had an exhaustive discussion of the recent address of Prof. James Woodrow on "Evolution," which has attracted so much attention and discussion, and which consumes a large portion of nearly every Presbyterian publication in the United States, and especially its State Synods, which control the Seminary. The following was finally adopted --eight to three:
The Board having carefully considered the address of Dr. Woodrow, published in pursuance of the request of this Board, adopts the following:
First--That the Board does hereby tender Dr. Woodrow its thanks for the ability and faithfulness with which he has complied with their request.
Second--That in the judgment of this Board the relation subsisting between the teachings of Scripture and the teachings of natural science are plainly, correctly and satisfactorily set forth in said address.
Third--The Board are not prepared to concur in the view expressed by Dr. Woodrow as to the probable methods of the creation of Adam's body, yet in the judgment of the Board there is nothing in the doctrine of evolution as defined and limited by which it appears inconsistent with perfect soundness in faith.
Fourth--That the Board takes this occasion to record its ever-growing sense of the wisdom of our Synod in the establishment of the chair of the "Perkin's Professorship of Natural Science, in Connection with Revelation," and of the importance of such instruction as is thereby afforded, that our ministry may be better prepared to resist the objections of infidel scientists and defend the Scriptures against their insidious charges.
The minority then entered their protest against the action of the Board in refusing to enjoin one Prof. Woodrow not to teach that evolution is God's plan of creation, and that the body of Adam was probably evolved from lower animals. The matter will be carried before the four Synods controlling the
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Seminary, and be adjudicated by them. These are the Synods of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
There are two theories of evolution both equally false and subversive of God's word. The older, and that from which the other has probably proceeded, is known as that advocated by Darwin, Huxley and others, which teaches that man was evolved or developed from the lowest order of animal life. The other, which seems like an attempt on the part of theologians so called to accept evolution as a fact only in a modified sense, claiming that Adam was not evolved from the lower animals, but from lower races of men, is said to be based on the dissimilarity of languages, because of which it is claimed mankind could not have sprung from one common parentage, and that the Caucasian or European, the highest type of man, only is the offspring of Adam. This they endeavor to make more plausible by misapplying the promise of God to Abraham, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (`Gen. 28:14`), as being fulfilled in the civilizing influence exerted by this so-called Adamic seed over the rest of mankind. But that this promise could have no fulfillment whatever through men in the flesh, is conclusively shown by that great theologian who never assumed the titles of Doctor of Divinity or Reverend.
Paul says, To Abraham and his seed were the promises made;...he saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one...which is Christ....And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise, i.e., heirs to the promise of being made a blessing to all families of the earth; and we shall cease to be heirs when we obtain the promised inheritance. But the advocates of this theory not only misapply this promise and ignore or reject the "fall" and the Ransom, but they either twist or limit Moses' account of the deluge and the confusion of tongues, as recorded in Genesis: "All flesh died that moved upon the earth...every living thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man...and every living substance was destroyed... both man and cattle...and Noah only remained alive and they that were with him in the ark" (`Gen. 7:21-23`).
If, as is asserted, the word earth means land, and the distinction was limited, did God then destroy the highest of mankind excepting only Noah and his family and spare the lowest entire? For it is evident all were equally sinful and depraved, and because of this God destroyed them. Of Noah's posterity assembled in the plain of Shinar to build Babel, it is said, "The whole earth (all mankind) was of one language and of one speech.... the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth (`Gen. 11:6-9`). Therefore the confusion was not in that which did exist, but was the result of the introduction of new elements-- strange languages. And as a type it is very significant, and more particularly so now, because fulfilled in its anti-type, the Babel of the nominal gospel church, that has said, as in the type, "Let us make us a name" (`Gen. 11:4`). Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.: into which have been introduced new elements--traditions and precepts of men which make the word of God of no effect; all this the Lord calls "Babylon the great" (the great confusion).
We further add to this the testimony of Jesus and his Apostles that the last days or end of the gospel dispensation would be characterized by general declension in religion, and especially by the falling of pastors or teachers from the truth, of such Jesus said, as spoken by Isaiah, "In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (`Matt. 15:9`); and adds: "Leave them; they are blind guides: and if the blind lead the blind both will fall into the pit" (`verse 14`, ED.). These words, though applied by Jesus to the Jewish house, were also intended to apply to that of which it was the shadow, the gospel house, and corresponds with a like command to those who would be faithful to the Lord in her. Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins (`Rev. 18:4`).
This very evident blindness and apathy of the teachers of the nominal church, and their consequent unfitness to minister to the "sheep," are well illustrated by the prophet in likening them to "blind watchmen." The blindness charged is evidently not the lack of natural vision so necessary to watchmen, but of mental perception; "they are ignorant" of the character and purposes of God, therefore they cannot speak-- and are contemptuously compared to "dumb dogs that cannot bark" faithfully for the Master, but love to lie down in slumber--self-gratification and ease. They have turned away their ears to fables and science falsely so called-- "every one their own way" or ism: and "as greedy dogs which never can have enough," the majority seek high sounding titles and lucrative church appointments--"every one for his gain" (`Isaiah 56:10-11`). This application of the prophecy was undoubtedly intended and is fully sustained by Jesus in his charges against the seventh or last stage of the gospel house--"in Laodicea."
First, by declaring himself "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God," he implies that she is not a faithful witness for the truth, and in acknowledging the supremacy of the Father as his Creator, shows his opposition to the man made dogma of the trinity. He then amplifies his charge by declaring her "neither cold nor hot": I would that thou wert (he prefers open hostility to half-heartedness), so then, because that thou art lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth, i.e., I will no longer use you to give expression to my word... thou art the wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked one. (Var. Rend. `Rev. 3:14-17`.) Her misery and wretchedness is caused by her blindness and unnatural alliance with the world by which she is being overcome. The Lord informed his disciples in strong negative language, that few rulers would be found giving to the household of faith meat in due season at his coming (presence). "Who then (at this time) is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them MEAT IN DUE SEASON? Surely not these unfaithful 'watchmen.' Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing" (`Matt. 24:45,46`).
In fulfillment of the Master's words, the rulers of the nominal church have not only not given them the meat now due, but have positively warned them against tasting it, and continue to feed their flocks on milk mixed with the muddy waters of tradition on which Babylon is built. And this pitiable condition is very contrary to the self-satisfied opinion she entertains and statements she makes concerning herself. The Lord says, "Thou sayest I am rich ...and have need of nothing" (i.e., I have all the truth--I am Orthodox-- Evangelical--I need nothing more), and knowest not, etc. is not aware of her true condition (`Rev. 3:17`).
We quote below some very startling statements made at a recent meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, held at Copenhagen, published in the Cleveland Leader September 30:
"Professor Christlieb, of Bonn, Germany, read a paper before the recent meeting of the Evangelical Alliance at Copenhagen which contained some very startling statements. According to the statistics of the last twenty years, he said, there has been a large falling off in attendance upon religious services throughout Europe, and this has been followed by an increase of crime. Paris has more atheists to-day than ever before existed in any great city. In no Christian country, however, were things so bad as in Germany. In many districts of Berlin there was only one church to every 59,000 of the population. In New York there were 200 places of public worship; in Berlin only 50. Besides this, out of the whole population of Berlin, nearly 1,000,000, only 20,000, or 2 per cent., attend divine service. Hamburg was even worse, for, out of a population of 400,000, public worship on Sundays was attended only by 5,000. In certain provinces of Germany there are suicides at the rate of forty a week. The ordinary religious teaching of the country is quite dead, and Christianity resolved into mere education. Skeptical works are popular with the working classes, and in the middle and upper classes hundreds are led away by the influence of scientific discovery and invention."
These calculations embrace a period of twenty years, and show that the great river Euphrates (people), on which Babylon is built, is being dried up--"a large falling off." Her epitaph is written, --"The ordinary religious teaching... is quite dead." They received not the love of the truth; and for this cause God is sending (Sinaitic MSS.) them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie." The father of lies has been permitted to delude them into building on falsehood and making lies their refuge, and now "none speaketh publicly in truthfulness (Var. Rend.), nor any pleadeth for truth. They hatch cockatrices' (adders') eggs...he that eateth them dieth, and that which is crushed (analyzed) breaketh out into a
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viper (`Isaiah 59:5`). The adders' eggs are Satan's (the serpent's) lies, these men made systems have hatched them; thinking minds, unable to see their origin, have analyzed them, and the vipers, Infidelity and Spiritualism, the progeny of Satan, have come forth. The application of these and other Scriptures to the times we live in, to those who are wakeful and watchful, confirm the accuracy and truthfulness of the prophetic records as being from God; but to those who are not taking heed unto the "sure word of prophecy," everything is doubt and uncertainty;
and notwithstanding that they say "peace and safety" and give assurances of growth and prosperity, the facts are to the contrary. The Bishop's report at the last General Conference of the M.E. Church, shows an increase of less than four to each church in four years, or less than one to each church per year; and this includes probationers; and if only one in each church goes back to the world per year, which would, we think, be a very small number, probably far below the average, then as a result there is not only no increase, but there is a positive falling off. We have quoted these Scriptures and applied them with no uncharitable or unkind feeling to anybody, but in a spirit of love, that we might confirm the faith of some, and that we might, if possible, awaken others to the signs of the times as confirming the words of prophecy.
S. O. BLUNDEN.
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New Jersey, Jan. 6th, 1885.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--May I take the liberty to express my surprise on reading some of your remarks in answering questions relating to "Sheep and Goats?"
Answering the question does the word everlasting in `verse 46 (Matt. 25`.) indicate that the punishment will last forever? You say "It certainly does," and add, "When some one told you that the Greek word aionion here rendered everlasting, had no such meaning, but ALWAYS meant a limited period of time, they misinformed you, and merely applied a definition common to a sect called "Adventists," but nevertheless an error." And further on you say:--"If Adventists and Universalists claim that aionion here always means a limited period, they should, to be consistent, hope only for a life of limited duration for the righteous, since the same Greek word is used in reference to both.
The surprise is that you should say such things of the "Adventists." I have known them, and was among them, one of them for more than thirty years. They have always admitted that the same Greek word used with reference to both the righteous and the wicked in this place, must have the same force in each case, as to duration; that the "everlasting" punishment of the one class will be just as long as the "eternal" life of the other. And they have always claimed it not a question of duration, but of the nature of the punishment, and it has been very common among them to explain `Matt. 25:46`, by quoting Paul's language in `2 Thess. 1:9`, making the everlasting punishment in the one text the exact equivalent of the everlasting destruction in the other, absolutely without limit. And they have constantly emphasized the utter hopelessness of the punishment by explaining that the Greek word is kolasin, which means, literally, to cut off, or lop off, as when a limb, or the branches of trees are cut or lopped off; this being everlasting, could not possibly admit of the idea of limitation.
I am perfectly sure, dear brother, that you would not knowingly misrepresent any one's views.
Yours in Jesus,
Our glorious Lord and Living Head,
P.S. I would add, that the Adventists, in speaking of the "everlasting fire," `v. 41`, claimed that, even if forced to allow that the fire was everlasting, the same word, aionion, being used, still, the office of fire being not to preserve, but to destroy, it would prove beyond a possible question, that the wicked being cast into the fire, they must inevitably perish. And further, as it was well understood that aionion has, sometimes, a limited signification, it was suggested that the fire having done its work of destruction might then (supposing it to be literal) be permitted to go out, in perfect harmony with the sense of the passage.
We are thankful to our Brother for the above correction. We probably had in mind when writing the paragraph referred to, a class of people who might be termed--"Universalist-Adventists." The Brother is right, we would not willingly misrepresent any. The definition given above is entirely satisfactory to us.
It occurs to us that our views on the meaning of the word aionios were not fully apprehended by some. We were controverting the view--that this word always means a limited period. We have never claimed that it always means never ending but rather a space or epoch of time upon which no limit has been placed. Thus in the Old Testament the corresponding word olam is used with reference to laws and regulations then in force "This shall be a statute unto you [olam] forever" i.e. it has no limitation it would last until for some cause God its mandator should replace it with another.
Apply this same definition (continuous --unlimited) to the word aionios in `Matt. 25:46`, and it would read the righteous into continuous life, but the wicked into continuous [i.e. uninterrupted] punishment, [elsewhere shown to be the second death.] Whatever is claimed for the word aionios toward the one class must be admitted toward the other.
To our understanding, the "fire" of Matt. and of Rev. is figurative of destruction, to the evil class spoken of as cast into it. Hence substituting the definition for the figure it would read everlasting destruction--the second death.
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FLESH AND BLOOD.
It is claimed by some that the words "flesh and blood" when used concerning Jesus, are to be spiritually understood. Without stating what the spiritual meaning of flesh and blood could be, they adopt an old style and cheap method of reasoning (?) by intimating that the natural and worldly minded should not be expected to appreciate this statement, but that all spiritually minded should see it at a glance.
If we test this theory by the word of God, it soon proves to be unscriptural, as well as illogical. The words flesh and blood used over and over again in the Scriptures, always refer to human nature. Take your concordance and verify this. It is impossible to conceive of any spiritual meaning to apply to this expression which will meet all the demands of the case, and probably it is for this reason that our contemporary did not attempt it.
The text chosen, from which to teach this idea, is `John 6:51`, "My flesh I will give for the life of the world." This, without other evidence, is quite sufficient to refute the idea; for if by Jesus' flesh and blood "given for the life of the world," we are to understand Jesus' spiritual nature, then Jesus cannot now nor ever be a spiritual being, seeing he has given that FOR the life of the world. This is the logical conclusion whatever way you look at it: If the common (unscriptural) view of the wages of sin be taken, viz.-- spiritual death [or estrangement from God and deadness to all that is holy and good and pure] it would prove that Christ gave up his harmony with God, his holiness, and purity, that we might come to enjoy such spiritual life as he gave for the life of the world. If on the contrary we take the more Scriptural view of death, viz., extinction, and apply it to spiritual (?) "flesh and blood," "given for the life of the world," the case would stand thus: Jesus gave [hence ceased to possess] life as a spiritual being, [became extinct] in order to procure life for man. To this we answer that if his spiritual existence were given for man's he could not now possess a spiritual existence, having forfeited or "given" it for mankind. The fact that Christ Jesus does live--a spiritual being--is clear proof that it was not his spiritual existence that was "given for the life of the world," and hence proves that the "flesh and blood" given, in no sense represents a sacrifice of spiritual being.
Is it asked, Could not Jesus have "given" a part of his spiritual being and
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retained part? We answer, No, not if he is to be believed; for he says, that when he was a man, he gave ALL THAT HE HAD to effect the purchase. (`Matt. 13:44`.)
On the contrary how simple the argument and how logical and scriptural, that He who was in the form of God (spiritual) became or was "made flesh" [human] in order that he might give "a corresponding price," substitute or ransom for the condemned fleshly race. (See the definition of RANSOM--Greek, antilutron, `1 Tim. 2:6`, in Young's An. Concordance.) Yes, the man Christ Jesus gave himself--all that he had, a ransom for all, for "as by man came death by man also came the resurrection of the dead." (`1 Cor. 15:21`.) And to this definition the facts all agree, for he never took back the "flesh and blood," he never will take back our ransom price. Though put to death in the flesh, he was quickened in the Spirit. `1 Pet. 3:18`. Diaglott. For a showing of how we "eat and drink," or appropriate by faith that human perfection which was "given" for us, and through the (eating) appropriation of which we obtain justification from all the imperfections of the fall, which justified condition is the basis or platform from which the Gospel Church is called to sacrifice and to obtain the divine nature, see the article under this same caption in our issue of April '84.
This latest device to obtain a Scriptural hook upon which to hand the no-ransom theory--that we were not bought with the precious blood of Christ as an equivalent price, is certainly a weak effort, though a bold one.
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A people's standard of intelligence and morality is invariably regulated by their standard of literature. If of a low, trifling, immoral type, such will be the character of the people among whom it circulates. All history, experience, and observation demonstrates this fact. It is to be found in the rise and fall of men and parties, nations and dynasties. Deprive a people of their literature and they degenerate into barbarism. Limit them to immoral literature, and debauchery and crime are sure to overtake them sooner or later.
It costs no more to feed people on sound philosophy, draped in proper language, than it does to surfeit them with cheap romance adorned in rags and polluted in filth. But another objector replies that the public taste requires such literature, and the papers would not sell without it. If this be true, it simply proves that the public taste is perverted and public reform is seriously demanded. The pernicious influence of this standard of literature may not be so readily detected in the adult population as among the youth. In the one case character is formed and habits are fixed, while in the other character is in process of formation, and habits may be changed or improved. If the family table or library is loaded with indecent literature and sensational trash, the youth of the country are not to be blamed if they grow up to be desperadoes and land in the penitentiary or on the gallows. Censure belongs not to the wrong-doers, but to the parents or guardians who placed such temptations in their way. There is a prevailing tendency to ignore the wholesome restraints which characterized the culture of children at an early period in our history, and the increase of crime in our land is largely attributable to this neglect in the education of children. No feature of domestic discipline should be more scrupulously guarded than that which limits the selection of family literature to such papers and books as produce a sound, healthy, moral social and political influence on the youth.--Selected.
Of the Florida Lands donated to the TRACT SOCIETY, described in the November Supplement, the following plots have been taken: Nos. 4, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 30, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40.
Those who have written saying that they are going soon to see these lands, are advised that the steamer is not yet running between Cedar Keys and Disston, therefore the best route, at present, is via Jacksonville, Sanford and Tampa to Pinellas.
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THE LORD'S POOR LIST.
As stated in our TERMS on first page, we send this paper free to all who cannot pay for it and apply to be entered on the LORD'S POOR LIST. Such should apply at the beginning of each year, that we may be assured of their continued interest.
Modesty is a Christian virtue, and while no true Christian gentleman or lady will rudely order us thus "Send me the paper," none on the other hand should feel that they are begging of the publisher in accepting this offer. They are merely accepting through us one of God's numberless blessings. If you appreciate the food found in the TOWER and cannot pay 50 cents a year, you must not be ashamed to receive it of the Lord gratis--this would indicate pride and such pride must sooner or later give way, if you ever receive the greater "gift of God--everlasting life--through Jesus Christ our Lord," who gave himself a ransom for all. Let us remember that it is all of God--His gift through whomsoever, or in whatever way, it is sent.
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"DILIGENCE in Christ's service is a sure method of gain and growth in grace."
"A WISE man ought to hope for the best, be prepared for the worst, and bear with equanimity whatever may happen."
"You censured your friend for his seeming coldness and indifference in his treatment of you in your time of extreme grief and trial. You did not know then that he was wrestling with a similar, or even greater trial. 'Now we know in part.' We therefore should judge charitably and moderately the conduct of others."