VOL. VII. PITTSBURGH, PA., AUGUST, 1886. NO. 12.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
C. T. RUSSELL, Editor and Publisher.
BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 40 Federal Street, 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.
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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`.
SEND names of any you have reason to think might have a hearing ear for the truth, for samples of English, German or Swedish TOWERS.
WRITE addresses very plainly, please, in every letter. When you change address say where from, as well as where to. You can thus save us much trouble.
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We are now prepared to fill the largest or smallest orders for Volume I of the Dawn. We have published 4,500 copies in cloth binding handsomely embossed, and we believe its outward appearance will meet your approval. And though delicate about eulogizing our own effort to set forth the glorious divine plan, we can surely say in all modesty that we believe the contents will be very interesting and very profitable to you. It presents the Plan of the Ages in a much more complete and connected manner than was possible through the TOWER. If its reading shall afford you a tithe the blessing it has been to the author it still will be rich.
Some will doubtless regret that the time proofs and treatment of Revelation are not a part of the contents of this volume, but we doubt not your judgment will concur with ours, that it is best not to try to crowd too much into one volume; that it is better to treat the subject more thoroughly than could possibly be done in one or two even large volumes. The next volume, now in course of preparation, will treat of the Times and Seasons of Scripture.
One great advantage of the present arrangement is, that if you loan the book to friends or neighbors to read, in glancing over it they will not be "choked" and "stumbled" with dates and figures, the value and necessity of which, they at first cannot see. The study of prophecy, especially time prophecies, has come to be considered the exclusive privilege of the denomination called "Second Adventists;" and their failure to apprehend the "plan" and the intended and needful office of time prophecies, as related to that plan, has made the subject odious to many. Hence it is a part of our duty to be "wise" (`Matt. 10:16`) and not stumble our brother with our "meat." When vol. I. "The Plan of The Ages"--the plan of salvation, --is thoroughly digested, then, those who appreciate it, will be prepared and anxiously waiting for vol. 2, The Times and Seasons.
We quote the price of vol. I. as follows:-- One copy,............................ $1.00 One copy and one Z.W.T. subscription, 1.25 One copy to those already subscribers, .75 Four copies and one Tower subscription, 3.00 Seven copies " " " " 5.00 Fifteen copies" " " " 10.00
These prices include postage or expressage prepaid by us. In ordering see that your address is full and very plainly written. When ordering four or more copies, mention your Express office as well as your Post-office, that we may send by the least expensive way.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
We this month in several articles continue our examination of some of the devices of Satan, which, if possible, would deceive the very elect in this Evil Day of trial and testing, continuing our endeavor to show up the errors of the present "perilous times" in their true light; and helping you to find and adjust the "armor" which God has provided.
It may have escaped the notice of some that this has been God's uniform method of dealing with the Church from the first, namely, giving truth as an offset to error. When error was advanced and was about to sweep away the faith of some, God sent by some messenger the correction of the error and thus disclosed more fully the light upon the subject.
Thus as we look at the Master's ministry, we find that some of his most pointed lessons were suggested by the erroneous teachings about him. The "long prayers" and "sad faces" and public alms-giving of the Pharisees, called forth the truth on these subjects and led Jesus to give us a sample of how to pray in spirit and in truth, after the manner of what is commonly termed the Lord's prayer. The caviling questions of the Pharisees and Sadducees brought out precious truths which not only silenced them, but what was much more important, informed us on subjects of deep interest. So too it was with many of our Lord's parables; for instance, that of the young nobleman. He spoke this parable because they erroneously thought, that the Kingdom of God would immediately appear.
So it was with Paul's letters and those of the other Apostles. The Epistle to the `Romans` is an answer to the errors of some converts from the Gentiles, who supposed Israel after the flesh to be permanently cut off from all divine favor, and themselves permanently grafted into their place of favor with God. In his correction of their errors, how beautifully and how clearly he sets forth the past favor of the Jew, and the present favor to all, both Jew and Gentile, who in Christ Jesus have become new creatures. How clearly he marks the steps of divine favor in justification, sanctification and honor, to the little flock who gladly hear and obey the call to suffer with Christ that they may be also glorified together. And finally, how beautifully he shows that there is a future favor for Israel according to the original covenants (`11:26-28`), and also to the world (`8:19,21` and `16:20`) to be accomplished through the elect church, called and tested during the Christian age. (`11:31,32`.) The conclusion of the Epistle shows that the mysteries therein unfolded, were intended to be the power of God to establish them in the faith by correcting their errors. The `First Epistle of the Corinthians` was mainly to correct sectarianism among those at Corinth, and to answer the erroneous teachings of some, that there would be no resurrection of the dead. (`1:11-13` and `15:12`.) What a valuable fund of blessing and knowledge came to the church down the ages in connection with the answer and refutation of these errors. He shows the false divisions (`1:13`) and where the divisions should be made. (`5:9-13`.) He shows the needful unity of all the true body, and that all truly connected with Christ the head, are of ONE BODY. (`12:12-27`.) He takes advantage of the doubt about the resurrection, to explain the entire subject, that all will be raised, though not all alike (`15:22,40`.) He shows how the saints will be raised first (`15:23,41-44`.) He shows that the world's order of time is afterward, in their own order (`15:23`); and he shows what they will be like (`15:48`), and other precious lessons.
Thus it was also with other Epistles; for instance in writing to the Galatians it was to correct false teachings concerning the Law and freedom of Christians from its bondage, and to caution them against false teachers and their doctrines, which were perversions of the true gospel. (`Gal. 1:6-9`; `2:16`; `3:1`, etc.) How grandly the light shines out upon the entire plan, the true gospel, while he exposes the errors.
The `First Epistle to Timothy` was to instruct him relative to false teachers (`1:3,4,19,20` and `4:1,7`.) It was the same with his `Second Epistle to Timothy` (`1:12-15` and `2:14-19,25,26` and `3:1` and `4:3`.) It was the same with the Epistle to `Titus--1:9-16`.
The `Second Epistle to the Thessalonians` was written to correct an error also, a misapprehension regarding the Lord's presence, some having gotten the idea that the Lord was then present. This occasion to correct error, became the channel through which God gave us such clear instruction regarding the "man of sin," the "mystery of iniquity," which has aided us materially in the understanding and applying of many of the prophecies relating to the same.
In view of these facts then, let us not hesitate to meet errors squarely, with the word of God. It will work out good surely to the fully consecrated, even as all things are working for their good. This has been our experience during the past few years: the oppositions of error have in every case resulted in clearer views of truth to some.
For instance: it was the promulgation of errors regarding substitution, that drew our attention more closely to it, and pointed out to us the fact that our Redeemer in becoming such was the substitute for Adam, and thus for all our losses entailed through him. This in turn showed us the distinctions between natures; for we saw that he gave "a corresponding price" for that which was lost and thus our attention was drawn to the fact that the divine nature to which he was raised, is totally distinct from the human nature which he sacrificed.
The same error drew our attention more closely to the teachings of the Tabernacle types, particularly the type of the atonement sacrifices, `Lev. 9` and `16`. What a blessing came to us all therefrom many can testify. It opened up a wide field of knowledge there hidden for this very time. It showed us beyond question the significance of the sacrifices in the accomplishment of the atonement, and it illustrated to us the
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privilege of being a partaker in the sufferings of Christ and joint heirs with him in the divine nature and in the glory to be revealed. And this in turn opened up the true meaning of Baptism as never before seen. How much that was precious did the Lord thus give just at the time it is needed to combat the errors.
It was the same way with the false doctrine advanced by some, that Jesus was the natural son of Joseph, the husband of Mary, Jesus' mother. The investigation made necessary to answer the many ingenious sophistries advanced, only made the truth to shine the more clearly on the entire subject, showing more conclusively than ever, that he was "the first born of all creation," "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" of God's creation, and that by him as Jehovah's chief son and messenger "all things were made."
We might proceed to enumerate, but forebear, merely reminding you that truth has ever needed to be defended from the great adversary and his repeated and various deceptions. Since "we are not ignorant of his devices" we well know that we must "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints." Let us, like Paul, fight "a good fight" nor cease to wield the sword of the spirit, the Word of God in opposition to every device of Satan, until we lay our armor down permanently.
Reminding you again of the true method of proving all things, described in our last, we make the above our apology to any who have failed to note the general principle used by God in the unfolding of the truth. It will explain this feature common to the TOWER past, present and future, as well as to all the writings of the Scriptures.
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EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
Corry, Pa., June 29, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: Since I saw you last week I had quite an interesting meeting at Greenville, Pa. As I got there late on Saturday night, I hardly knew how to advertise it. Finally a bright idea struck me. I bought a piece of chalk, and with it wrote on the sidewalks near the churches and elsewhere, "Gospel Meeting at the School House at three o'clock." This had the desired effect. I had the best and most intelligent audience I have yet had. I spoke for about four hours with but little intermission. You must know they were interested, when most of them stayed for three hours, and delicate looking ladies kept on their feet all that time. You see the Lord supplies with power to make known the "unsearchable riches of Christ." Is it not wonderful how the Lord uses even the weak ones for his glory? for you know I am no speaker or orator, but blessed be his name, he knows I hunger and thirst to do his will. My one great desire is that every faculty and every power of which I am possessed may be used for his glory. So far the days I have intended to preach I have not felt very well bodily and have been nervous, but notwithstanding this, I have gone forth in the strength of the Lord. I was recently asked by a brother if I did not sometimes lose my interest. I assured him I did not. How could I when the Lord continues to fill me with riches of his grace?
I don't expect to be idle during my vacation. I have no reputation to be afraid of, having sacrificed all to Christ.
I think I might have use for some of those missionary WATCH TOWERS while I am away. With love to your household,
I remain yours in Christ,
S. O. BLUNDEN.
[Brother B., a Commercial Traveler, thus and in many other ways improves his opportunities for the spread of the truth.]
DEAR SIR: I have been reading the book entitled "Food for Thinking Christians, Why Evil Was Permitted," and I see you offer to supply copies free. My husband is a clergyman, and we have a large boarding school for boys, as well as a part of the parish which we are responsible for. Several have seen your book, and I am quite surprised at the desire they express to have one themselves. We had no idea that these views were held by any one around us, but it is not the few but the many ripe Christians that would gladly see the circulation of this book. I shall be glad to use as many as you can spare me.
Very truly yours, __________.
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Mich., July 5, 1886.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--It seems a long time since I wrote you, but the delay has not been in consequence of any abatement of interest in the TOWER and its teachings. On the contrary, my appetite for the truth it proclaims has constantly sharpened. I can hardly wait its arrival. When it is received, it is anxiously opened, and usually read through before stopping. The outlook from the TOWER columns is like the index hand of the clock dial showing the number of the hour.
It numbers passing events that give knowledge of approaching night to the civil and ecclesiastical world, and the overthrow of all systems of error in all of them. Like Noah warning the people in his days of the impending deluge in consequence of their sins, so is the TOWER. It is the Observatory and Telescope from which may be seen the passing events of the present culminating in the great day of the Lord.
But, as in Noah's day, so in the present, but few seem to comprehend that the Lord is present. Nor is it strange that so few understand the present times. Since, like the Jewish Church in the time of Christ's first advent, men are so thoroughly trained in the traditions and teachings of the elders, as to prevent now, as then, their seeing the plan of God in the final restitution of all things.
This is more clearly seen and apparent from the opportunities in connection with others in various localities. Scarcely one member of any of the nominal churches seems to have a clear idea of the teachings of the Scriptures bearing on the present and future.
They seem as much puzzled to understand what is taught as Nicodemus did, though teachers like him in Israel. The standpoint from which they have been taught to look leads them into error, and hence confusion.
Having dropped into a Bible class not long since of one of our great churches, its teacher (one of the professors in a great institution of learning) confessed that he had put much study on the lesson, yet it seemed to him that there was something taught in it which he did not understand. This was frank, and opened the windows for the admission of light from all quarters. There were some present, whose age and qualifications in a knowledge of several languages, was appealed to to shed the necessary light. After much discussion and the truth no plainer, a few passages were quoted to remove the perplexity and suggestions made to change the stand point of interpretation, and the truth and harmony would appear. But results seemed much like the man, confused, who repeated constantly that "once one is two."
If the dogmas which have been long embraced by many were thrown away, their perplexity would cease at once. One minister confessed to me that he had a Commentary that cost him $65.00, and the more he read it the less he knew of the Scriptures. That's confusion confounded; and so it is; the very source of light is hid, by passing error before the sight. I feel that almost all have passed the center of truth, and are on the extreme, like the clock pendulum, and though strongly attracted by the truth at the center, are held in the extreme position by the cohesive attraction of the dogmas of their long honored creeds.
Many Christian teachers are loudly proclaiming that the world is getting better. They tell us $7,000,000 were appropriated to the Missionary cause last year for the spread of the Gospel among Heathen nations, while the city of New York paid $100,000,000 for the privilege of burning tobacco, and in the United States $100,000,000 for liquor drank. While in the very city in which it was proclaimed, about 10 Christian churches existed and 44 saloons are patronized and sustained in some manner by the masses.
The picture drawn suggests that the affirmative of the evidence lies on the other side, and loudly proclaims that some other power than human is absolutely needed to bring around truth and righteousness.
Satan seems to be training his forces for a day of thick clouds and darkness.
Dear Brother, for six months past, severe sickness and final death of my wife, has prevented me from sending money to aid in the spread of Gospel truth. I enclose $1.00, all that it seems to me I can spare now. I hope to be able to appropriate oftener. Would to God I had the means to give liberally. If you can spare a few copies of Tower and Food in German, I think I can place them where some good can be done.
[We have not the "Food" in German, but expect to have a German edition of Millennial Dawn ready about January next. Brother Von Zech is now engaged in translating it.--Editor.]
Bay View, July 23, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The WATCH TOWER just received states that "Millennial Dawn" is ready for distribution. Please find enclosed five dollars ($5), payment for three copies; balance for "Tract Fund." I am still trying to follow in the footsteps of the Saviour. I find much opposition, and sometimes feel lonely and sad, and led to wish the conflict was over. Nevertheless, my strength is renewed, and although the night is dark, "joy comes in the morning." The WATCH TOWER always cheers me, edifies me, and strengthens me. I anticipate a feast in the coming book. I realize more and more every day, and am thankful to my Saviour for the WATCH TOWER. By its teaching I have been led to a good understanding of God's Word, so that it is not possible for Satan or his emissaries to delude me or lead me from the truth.
Your Brother in Christ, __________.
[Glad to know of your pleasure in the truth. Let your light shine. Be on your guard, too, for when realizing a dependence upon God for strength, we are best prepared to stand complete in his strength. "The hosts of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the prize."-- EDITOR.]
Sand Hill, Va., July 26, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It was with pleasure that I received the announcement, in the July TOWER, that our new book, "Millennial Dawn," is about ready. At the time, I was finishing a chart, which I have enlarged from the one found in Food, and have put it in a nice frame and hung it in my parlor. Already it has been useful in instructing others in God's great plan. I am much pleased to know that the forthcoming book will be a help in the understanding of the same great plan, and also that it will be divided into volumes, which will make it very convenient.
Yours affectionately, __________.
White City, Kan., Aug. 1st, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have been anxiously looking for the long promised book and am now very anxious to receive it. "View from the TOWER," in July number, has been very interesting to me, and I have re-read the non-Ransom Theories there presented and am astonished. The chart also has been very interesting. I am more and more conformed to the TOWER'S view of the Bible so that that book I value far above rubies.
Your Brother in Christ, __________.
Lackawanna Co., Pa., July 28, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I am so glad to learn that "Millennial Dawn" is complete. I am sure it is just what I shall want both for myself and for loaning. Brother Adamson told me of it while here last winter laboring for the Master in this part of the vineyard. Please send me fifteen copies and find enclosed money order for ten dollars for same and my subscription to the TOWER. I shall ever be grateful to our Heavenly Father for the precious truths learned through Brother Adamson's ministry and the WATCH TOWER publications.
Gratefully yours in Christ, __________.
Dover, Ills., June 23, 1886.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--It has been some time since you have heard from me but I am still living and feeding on the blessed truth that you are the means of spreading. The WATCH TOWER is always received very gladly and read and re-read with great interest and profit, but I am standing pretty much alone, but few will listen to me, but I think after all, the truth is getting hold of some minds. I received the TOWER last night and read the notice that your book "Millennial Dawn" is about ready for distribution, so I enclose money order for the book and subscription for paper. Please send me also a few packets for loaning.
Yours in the Blessed Hope, __________.
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A gunner in the British Navy writes thus from Singapore, India:
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST: Grace be unto you and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come.
I don't suppose you remember much about me, but about twelve months ago I wrote to you asking for "Zion's Watch Tower," monthly. About a month after, my Battery was ordered out here very suddenly to come and strengthen the defences of Singapore.
I must say that Singapore is one of the most beautiful, fertile islands in existence. It is called the abode of health and garden of India, and so I think it is.
But you will want to know something of the missionaries out here, and what they are doing, and I think my account of them will surprise you. Never in my life did I see such Babylon and confusion and such pretenders. Why they know absolutely nothing of the Scriptures. There is a very dear man here, an American, about the best and most able speaker in Singapore, but in dreadful bondage, always asking for mercy in his prayers, yet calling himself an adopted child of God; so I wrote and asked him why on earth he continued to ask for mercy when he had obtained it long ago?
I have written four or five long letters to a Presbyterian minister here, and he can't see it at all. Of course I copied from your paper, but he is quite willing to read any of your papers. I have lent four already, and he rather likes them, except Restitution, but he don't at all like my speaking of Babylon, confusion among the sects. I have also lent another to the Wesleyan preacher, and one to the Baptist preacher here, and a long letter from your paper also, but he won't have it. He says he can't preach the gospel if he accepts that.
I have another friend at the Sailors' Home reading ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and he agrees with it; for he says God would be a monster to create this universe
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of human beings and delight in casting us into hell at the rate of ninety-nine out of a hundred. I have another among the soldiers who has accepted its teaching. I often have a chat with him, and he likes your paper very much. Several of the gunners here have accepted it also, saying that it is sound common sense. I have also put it before a lady here, a dear friend to soldiers, but she is silent about it. I lent her two or three papers to read, and have written several letters. All she said was, "I quite sympathize with you on prophecy." I often go to her Bible class. She liked your account on the "little flock" very much indeed. I wrote to an officer here the other week, an earnest Christian, and he returned both my paper and letter, and said he had no time for studying such things. I am opposed very much by a representative of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the Baptists.
I have very much upset several of the preachers here by this doctrine. It is all over Singapore. Of course I keep putting in a word here and there, which brings them to a complete standstill at times, and they seem quite stupefied about it. I am writing letters all over England to people that I know, as I have a great deal of spare time. I have put that beautiful illustration before nearly all here of the diamond in "Food," and the jewel having its beauty again restored so as to perfectly reflect its Creator's image again.
I must just tell you how I opposed the Baptists here the other night: They asked God to save the heathen from going to an everlasting hell. I said how could that be when in `Psa. 46:10` God says he will be glorified among the heathen and exalted in the earth? and again, a people that were not called a people shall be called the people of the living God, and nations that knew not thee shall come unto thee and worship.
I must just tell you the positions they hold here as missionaries. They are a lot of perfect gentlemen, they ride about in the "gharries" like gods of the earth: for instance, the Presbyterian minister here gets three thousand dollars a year, beside a splendid house fit for any of our noblemen in England. His gardener and "syce" and everything free. Is such the position of a stranger and pilgrim here below, following the Master's footsteps whithersoever he goeth? And I find, too, that he preaches to suit his congregation, which consists of all the higher class of Scotchmen and other Europeans. One of the Baptists here occupies a large house, and takes in boarders at fifty and a hundred dollars a month. This is another stranger and pilgrim. Please send me some of your tracts for distribution. __________.
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"GET into the habit of looking for the silver lining of the cloud, and when you have found it, continue to look at it, rather than the leaden grey in the middle. It will help you over many hard places."
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"THE Jewish population of Jerusalem is constantly increasing, and now numbers 18,000. This is the largest number that has lived in the sacred city at one time since the destruction by Titus in 70 A.D. The first blind asylum in Palestine, the land that probably has now, and has had for centuries, the largest number of blind people proportionately in the world, has been established in Jerusalem. It is connected with the Syrian Orphan's Asylum, under charge of the German missionary, Schneller."
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THE SECRET OF THE SAINTS.
"To play through life a perfect part,
Unnoticed and unknown;
To seek no rest in any heart
Save only God's alone;
In little things to own no will,
To have no share in great;
To find the labor ready still,
And for the crown to wait.
"Upon the brow to bear no trace
Of more than common care;
To write no secret in the face
For men to read it there;
The daily cross to clasp and bless
With such familiar zeal
As hides from all that not the less
The daily weight you feel.
"In toils that praise will never pay
To see your life go past;
To meet in every coming day
Twin sister of the last;
To hear of high heroic things,
And yield them reverence due,
But feel life's daily offerings
Are far more fit for you.
"To woo no secret soft disguise,
To which self-love is prone;
Unnoticed by all other eyes,
Unworthy in your own;
To yield with such a happy art
That no one thinks you care,
And say to your poor bleeding heart,
How little you can bear.
"Oh! 'tis a pathway hard to choose,
A struggle hard to share,
For human pride would still refuse
The nameless trials there;
But since we know the gate is low
That leads to heavenly bliss,
What higher grace could God bestow
Than such a life as this."
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IS GOD THE AUTHOR OF SIN?
"I make peace and create evil: I Jehovah do all these things."--`Isa. 45:7`. "Shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah hath not done it?"--`Amos 3:6`.
"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit...by their fruits ye shall know them."--`Matt. 7:18,20`.
"Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee....Thou hatest all workers of iniquity."--`Psa. 5:4,5`.
"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold [countenance] evil, and canst not look upon iniquity."--`Hab. 1:13`.
"Every good and every perfect gift is from above." "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted when he is led astray of his own desires and enticed."-- `James 1:13,14,17`.
"All unrighteousness is sin" and "he that committeth sin is of the devil."-- `1 John 5:17` and `3:8`.
"What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid" that we should reach such a false conclusion.--`Rom. 9:14`.
"Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."--`Deut. 32:3,4`.
"There is no iniquity with the Lord our God."--`2 Chron. 19:7`.
"Hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: Far be it from God that he should do wickedness and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity. ...God will not do wickedly."-- `Job 34:10,12`.
"The Lord is upright; He is my Rock; there is no unrighteousness in Him."-- `Psa. 92:15`.
"Let God be true [though it make] every man a liar."--`Rom. 3:4`.
The editor of another journal lately started in the interest of the no-ransom theory, had not noticed the first two texts quoted above until recently, when he concluded he had struck a rich vein of new light, and hastily without mature reflection, he has jumped to the conclusion that he has found the key to the divine plan, which he in substance explains thus:--God is the author of all sin and evil. Having caused the evil he must rectify it. To fail to do this would make God and his government criminally guilty. Since he caused the sin and the pain, trouble and death, he must and will fully banish these when he has fulfilled his purpose with them.
To this one-sided reasoning we object. But some one inquires, do you not also teach in the pamphlet "Food," that God was the author of sin? By no means, we answer: it teaches the very reverse. We agree with all the texts above quoted, all of which when understood, harmoniously declare that just and right is he, hating evil and condemning sin in every form. We claim and teach that every good cometh from God as the good fountain, and that evil on the contrary comes from sources and fountains in opposition
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to God and his goodness. In "Food for Thinking Christians" we show to the contrary, that God's wisdom and power enabled him to foresee the course of all his creatures, and that from the first he designed or purposed to PERMIT evil to have sway for a time, because he saw how he could ultimately overrule it, and how the permission of it would but prove to his creatures the wisdom of his arrangements, and give them a beneficial lesson experimentally, on the advantage of good and the disadvantage of evil. This is totally different from the theory above mentioned, which places upon God the responsibility and criminality of being the creator or author of evil: it is the very reverse.
God is indeed the author or creator of all things, of things that are evil and sinful, as well as of those that are perfect and upright; but the error is in assuming that God made them evil, imperfect or sinful in any sense or degree. "God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good." Absolutely perfect himself, he could not create anything morally imperfect, corrupt, sinful. Wherever such imperfection is found it is the result of violation of God's wise and perfect arrangements and consequently is a degradation of his creation.
Are there fallen angels? They are those who "kept not their first estate" of perfection in which God created them, but who violated his rules and brought themselves into the evil condition. Is the human race in an evil condition? Whose fault is the evil? Can it be charged to the fountain of every good? Shall the fountain of life and blessing be charged with being a fountain of bitterness, of evil, sin and death? Was our Lord Jesus mistaken, when he declared that a pure fountain could not send forth bitter waters, and that a good tree could not bear evil fruit?
Those disposed to thus malign and asperse the character of the great Jehovah had best go slower. They had best do a little thinking, and not try to build a theory with such miserable wood, hay and stubble. Are they prepared to entirely reject the Bible testimony upon the subject, except the two texts first quoted above? Or have they studied out a way to twist and wrest the many other statements of Scripture into apparent harmony with their theory and with their misinterpretation of these two texts?
How plainly it is stated of man, as of angels, that God's "work is perfect," that he created man in his own image. A likeness of the perfect God, only of earthly nature.--`Gen. 1:27`.
These whom we criticize claim that `Gen. 1:26`, "Let us make man in our own image," implies that God intended eventually to bring man to a "very good," a perfect condition, by a process of evolution or development, but that he began by making him EVIL, in order that man might develop into a good being, a likeness of his Creator. But how blinded by theory--can they not see, that the next verse (`v. 27`) declares that God not only purposed beforehand to make man a likeness of himself in clay, but that he accomplished that purpose in full, in Adam's creation: "So God created man in his image; in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
David understood it thus and refers to man as created perfect, and crowned with honor and dominion of earth, a likeness of the divine honor and rulership of the universe, and declares, "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." --`Psa. 8:5`.
If then, man's first estate, like that of the angels, was not evil, but perfect, very good, an image of God, did man like the angels leave his first estate, or did God cast him from it? We answer, man like the angels sinned wilfully against light and knowledge (`Gen. 2:16,17`) and thus came under the proper righteous punishment which God had designated and foretold as the wages of sin. We are distinctly told that Adam was not deceived in his trial, hence he incurred the penalty willingly and knowingly, with full ability to have resisted it. (`1 Tim. 2:14`.) And the prophet plainly tells that "God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions." Man was as much the author of the evil which came upon him, as were the angels which kept not their first estate of purity, perfection and harmony with God, the authors of the evils which resulted to them.
Paul's testimony, that sin and death and all the train of evil came by one man's disobedience, is certainly a positive denial that God is the author of it.-- `Rom. 5:12,17-19`.
We have now established the fact that God is good and not evil, the author and creator of good and not of evil. We have cleared his character of such a foul stigma. If he were the author and instigator, and designer and cause of all evil, or of any of it, he would certainly be the chief of sinners, insomuch as his superior wisdom and power are greater than those of all others. And the fact that God was not the author and cause of sin, disproves the theory built upon that claim, which is that God must bring mankind to a higher and happier and more perfect condition than he has yet attained, because of having caused him to suffer, he must in justice compensate him therefor, by giving him corresponding blessings. This theory, which makes man's future to depend upon God's debt to man because of past injustice in creating evil and placing man under it for six thousand years, is wholly set aside by the proofs we have given, that God was not the author of sin and evil, but the author of every good and perfect gift and naught else. We have shown that man was justly condemned and hence the author of his own evil [trouble] and that he is wholly dependent upon the loving mercy of God for future life. And we have heretofore shown that God has manifested his love and mercy in and through Christ--in the ransom--thus provided as a free favor to all.
How then shall we understand the two texts which say that God is the creator of evil? Shall we reject them because at a casual glance they do not fit? Nay, let us rather examine them, assured that God's book like himself is good, and not contradictory and inharmonious. If the harmony does not appear on the surface, careful study and examination will always discover it. The explanation of these two texts is very simple indeed. The word rendered "evil" in these texts might have been translated adversity, trouble, affliction, or calamity. In fact the same Hebrew word is twenty-one times thus translated in our common version of the Old Testament. Thus understood, these two texts inform us that whatever calamity, adversity, affliction, or trouble, there may be, none of it is outside of God's knowledge and control. These could not happen without his concurrence or permission, as all power and authority is of him. And what saint can not and has not drawn consolation from this fact (the divine control of every trouble or evil), as he believed the promise that all things, even the calamities and troubles of life, would work together for good to those that love God and are called according to his purpose--the high calling.
However, "evil" is not an improper translation here, for our English word "evil," like the word "ra," here used in the Hebrew, has a wide range of meaning, and may be used to signify either trouble or wickedness, according to the connections, the context deciding which thought should attach to the word.
Webster's definition of evil is, I. "Anything that directly or remotely causes suffering of any kind." II. "Disposition to do wrong, corruption of heart, wickedness, depravity."
Now we ask, would any pass over the first and primary meaning of the word evil, and apply the second definition of it, in these texts under consideration, unless their judgment were rendered unsound by reason of a false theory which they desire to prop up? Such must be our conclusion if we examine the context. `Isaiah 45:1-7` is speaking of the evil which came upon Babylon at the hand of Cyrus, who was God's messenger (`verse 13`) to punish Babylon and restore Israel. `Amos 3:1-8`, is referring to trouble, evil, calamity, about to come upon Israel as a punishment for their iniquities (`verse 2`.) The mind that could construe either of these expressions to mean, that God by these proclaimed himself to be the author of sin, the Creator of disposition to do wrong, the cause of wickedness, depravity and corruption of heart, (Webster's definition of moral evil) has serious cause for examination of either his mental or moral balance. Yet the journal which advances this idea as new light, represents itself as the exponent of the very spirit of the Word of God. If the bare suggestion that they had followed the maxim, "Let us do evil that good may follow" was resented by the Apostles as slander, (`Rom. 3:8`.) what shall we say of such an imputation against the Almighty?
But then, considering it proven beyond question that God is not the author of moral evil, i.e., sin, what shall we say:--
IS GOD RESPONSIBLE FOR EVIL IN THE SENSE OF CALAMITY AND TROUBLE?
We answer both yes and no. Yes,
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in the sense that the particular forms of trouble and suffering come by his permission and arrangement as the proper penalty of violating his wise and just laws. No, in the sense that man is the author of his own sufferings and trouble, by his violation of laws which were wise and good. And indeed it is a fact recognized very generally, that sin--disobedience to God--would bring its own penalty naturally, even if God had not marked out its kind. Thus for instance, violation of the laws of health hasten disease and death, while the violation of conscience and morals, brings its line of rewards in unhappiness, entanglements, and remorse. On the whole it is a principle fixed as the law of gravitation that "Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death."
Hence we say that the evil and trouble which God has permitted upon man are but a just and reasonable result or outworking of man's own wilfully chosen course, which would have been far worse, had not God from time to time headed it off, as in the case of the antideluvians
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and the Sodomites, whom God blotted out, to prevent the spread of their corruption, as well as to be an "example" to those who should afterward think to run riot in ungodliness, that God still oversees mankind and their affairs, and will restrain them within certain bounds even now. In evil, as trouble and sorrow, as well as in moral evil or wickedness, everything in Scripture declares that "God created man upright, but he sought out many inventions" contrary to the divine command, and defiled himself, and brought trouble and sorrow, direct or indirect, upon himself. Hence man, not God, is responsible for evil in the sense of calamity or trouble.
All evil is punitory, i.e., evil [trouble, calamity, etc.] is always a punishment for something. Had all things continued as they were created, perfect and upright, there would have been no evil [trouble, calamity, etc.] nor any occasion for it. In fact there could have been no such thing; for it is, always has been, and always shall be contrary to justice and right, and hence contrary to the will of God, to inflict pain, trouble or distress upon the guiltless. Hence whatever evil [calamity, trouble] exists in the world, exists as a punishment, as a result of wilful, moral evil i.e., sin on man's part; it is the fault of the race which is being punished.
All evil [trouble, etc.] is reformatory so far as the race is concerned, but not always reformatory so far as individuals are concerned, though this last is claimed by many. God is the great Physician and Surgeon; the race with its many members is the patient sick and diseased, and dying. Every time the good physician touches the sores the patient has increased pain; yet it is needful to the reformation and recovery of the diseased parts. So evil [trouble] forms a necessary part of man's experience as a result of his moral obliquity and fallen state, and also as an attendant circumstance to his recovery from that state. But there are times when the wise surgeon will find a member incurable, and for the sake of its polluting influence upon other members, it must be entirely "cut off." In such a case the cut off member is not healed, because that is impossible, though the other members are protected from poisonous influences thereby. So it is in God's government, not a member of the race shall be "cut off" whom it is possible to recover; but not one member which divine wisdom finds it impossible to renew (`Heb. 6:4-8`) shall be permitted to remain and to spread its baneful poisonous influence to others.--`Matt. 25:41,46`. To this intent an abundant provision for the healing as well as the testing of each, either in this age or the age to come, is arranged for. Every member shall come under the care and skill of the great Physician, but when that treatment is ended and shall have proved which members of the race prefer evil to good, which it is "impossible to renew," then, such shall be cut off for the general good. And the case once decided will need no further testing or trying. God is too wise to attempt that which he himself has declared is "impossible." Of this class Satan is thus far the most notable example; all the manifestations of God's goodness and of the terrible consequences of sin for more than six thousand years have only increased his wilfulness and hardness of heart. Those of men similarly affected by knowledge and experience are reckoned his messengers and co-workers and share with him the final destruction-- to them the second death.--`Matt. 25:41`. Thus we see that evil [trouble] though never good, under divine supervision may be punitive, corrective and protective --a punishment for sin, a correction or remedy in bringing from sin to righteousness, and a protection to the race in that it destroys any of its members who will not yield to righteousness.
Aside from the advantage to the race of such protective measures, it is better for the individual willful sinner, that he should be cut off from life, than that he should forever be under the natural consequences of his determined evil course.
God can not be held responsible for evil, then, even in the sense of trouble or distress, for his part was right. He created good things and good laws governing them. And though all power is of God and all is subject to his wise control, the fact that his power and laws fall as distress and trouble upon his creatures is not the fault of the laws, or misuse of the power, but entirely the fault of the transgressor. And as we have shown, though the trouble which God permits or causes to result from wrong doing seems an evil or undesirable thing to the sinner, yet it really is good, as seen from God's standpoint. In creating [preparing] or arranging that trouble and distress should follow wrong doing, God did only that which was right. That which was right, to men seems evil, yet whatever way he may regard it the cause of it was in his own willful sin.
THE PLACE OF THE CROSS IN THE SUBJUGATION OF EVIL.
While considering thus, how evil [trouble] comes as a consequence of moral evil or sin, and is used of God in dealing with the sinner, let us not lose sight of the fact that evil of itself is not corrective, but destructive only. Contrary to the opinions of some in this matter are the facts of history; for though reforms have occasionally sprung up, the general tendency of any corrupting influence is from bad to worse. It is only to the extent that God interposes and applies the "salt," that the masses are preserved from more and more rapid putrefaction. In the age prior to the deluge when God let men try their own skill, and what they could and would do for themselves undirected and measurably unaided, the result was not corrective. The corruption increased and resulted in destruction, for the imaginations of man were only evil and that continually, swallowing up and almost wholly obliterating the divine image except in one family, that of Noah.
Thus God's work and wisdom is made manifest in overruling the destructiveness of evil, and so arranging that to those who will accept of his favor it shall be corrective and not destructive, and prove to be a blessing in the end through God's merciful and wise overruling. And those who would have his favor, learn to accept it in the way his wisdom offers it. He offers favor and release from evil to all, through the cross.
It was with full knowledge of the dreadful effects to result from giving mankind freedom of choice of good and evil, that God created man thus. He saw how things would appear from time to time to necessitate a disobedience of his laws, and that lacking the knowledge which comes from experience, man would sooner or later choose to disobey, if he had the liberty. God decided nevertheless to give man the liberty, and let him bring upon himself the consequences of disobedience--death, with all its incidental train of sorrow and trouble. In wisdom he foresaw he could be just, and yet recover the man out of death even after he had been condemned, by giving a ransom--a corresponding price, for the willful sinner. And in wisdom he further determined to let the test be wholly upon one representative man, through whose disobedience the experience of evil would come to the race, while only the one man should thus be the willful sinner, and thus one ransom-sacrifice be sufficient to justify all and release all from the condemnation of sin, death.
Nor could it be said that God had dealt unjustly with Adam's children, or that he inflicted evil [trouble, death, etc.] upon them, for God dealt only with the one man. He created only the one, tried only the one, and condemned only the one to death. Adam and his sons have spread the race and spread the evil. "The fathers have eaten the sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge." The groaning creation has propagated its evils as well as itself.
But here God's plan steps forward in due time, and his wisdom and love begin to appear as we get glimpses of his plan. The ransom given in the person of Jesus, the willing sacrifice, is made to redound to His higher exaltation far above angels, (`Heb. 1:4`; `Phil. 2:9`) to a glory and an honor far superior even to the excellent glory he had with the Father before the world was. God's arrangement to have the one representative not only was the grandest economy, in that but one sacrifice for sin was needed to redeem-- to be a corresponding price, but it became also the means for the exalting of one "far above" all others of his creatures, justly to be head over all that in all things he might have the pre-eminence who was the beginning of the creation of God--Christ Jesus our Lord.
Had there been many tried, there would have been many guilty and as many would have been condemned. Justice in payment of the ransom for all, must then have demanded as many sacrifices for sin as there were sinners, and as a consequence it would have been but just to reward alike, all who would thus engage, and there would then have been no one "far above all" others, no one with a great pre-eminence.
And yet the wisdom of God is further seen, when we consider, that though it is his plan to bring a number, a "little flock," to the divine nature and joint heirship with the highly exalted Redeemer, he manifested his favor and wisdom by selecting these from among the redeemed race, in another way, which would serve a double purpose. First, the selected ones are from among those who already recognize the first begotten as their Redeemer and Master, and being exalted through his favor they recognize him as head and Lord, even while highly exalted to joint-heirship with him. Secondly, God's arrangement permitted the testing and sacrifices of these, to be among the sinners whom afterward they should share in blessing, and in the midst of the evil from which by and by they should be God's agencies to deliver the groaning creation; and meanwhile they would be "lights," "examples" and "witnesses" to those yet in chains of darkness, among whom as "salt" they have a preservative influence.
THE CREATURE WAS MADE SUBJECT TO FRAILTY IN HOPE. `ROM. 8:20-23`.
The Apostle while speaking of the hopes of these joint-heirs of the only begotten,
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and telling us that the earnest hope of the world centers in their manifestation, clothed with power as the sons of God, (`verse 19`) branches off to give us a word regarding the permission of evil. He says: "Creation was made to submit to [its present state of lifeless inability or impotency] frailty, not willingly, but by reason of him [Adam] who [as their representative] subjected it" [to this lifeless or impotent condition]. This is a statement of the facts of the case: Man is in a hopeless state of inability to recover himself from the bondage of corruption (death); not that he would not, after seeing the results, desire to abandon the state of sin and death; but having been brought by Adam under the penalty, man can not escape from it and is obliged to wait for God's help. This statement (`v. 20`) is thrown in as a parenthesis and the Apostle's argument continues between `verses 19 and 21` thus:--
"For the eager outlook of creation is ardently awaiting the revealing of the sons of God [the little flock, the elect]; in hope that even creation itself shall be freed from the bondage of corruption [death] into the glorious freedom [from death, corruption] of the children of God."
God permitted mankind to be thus subjected through one man's disobedience, because he had planned the redemption of all from it. The hopes of the world, that somehow there would be a future life, were always vague, but their hopes will be much more than realized in the abundant offer and opportunities of attaining life, which will be brought within their reach when the manifestation of God's Kingdom takes place.
What shall we say then to these things? These features of God's plan demonstrate that God is not the author of sin, imperfection and wickedness, but a fountain of holiness and life, from which spring joy and blessing. They demonstrate that calamity, trouble, etc., are the proper, just and natural results of sin to which all the violators of God's laws are subject, and which he has been graciously tempering and overruling for the instruction of the wayward and sinful, and for the discipline of his chosen, --the saints. They demonstrate that evil in no sense cures itself, and prove
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the cross of Christ to be the only remedy provided; and an all sufficient one which lays hold upon every one that was lost in Adam, granting every needful assistance to enable them to come to fullest freedom from death--to a complete restitution to their former estate represented in God's perfect creation, Adam, the divine likeness in earthly nature --"very good."
In conclusion, we suggest another reading of the text placed at the head of this chapter.
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A certain extreme and unreasonable view of God's foreordination leads many into errors such as we endeavor to correct above. Those who fix themselves in the belief that God causes everything, can scarcely get rid of this and a thousand other errors now lying as snares in the pathway of the saints. Upon their false premise they build false conclusions and theories. If God foreordains everything, then it would be necessary to say that he foreordained or compelled Adam's sin and every other sin, as well as every good deed since. This would not only remove all credit for well doing from man's efforts, but also all responsibility from evil doers. God would in that case have the credit of any good there is, and the responsibility for all the evil, (moral evil, wickedness, as well as physical evil, suffering) and man would be merely a figure, a puppet, a machine.
In such a view how absurd, deceptive and sinful it would be for God, in sentencing Adam, to say, Inasmuch as thou hast done, etc. In such a view how absurd and misleading for the Lord and the Apostles to urge the people to do certain things, and not to do others. In such a view life's opportunities are a mockery, for if it is all settled beforehand, there is no opportunity for us to change or guide our own affairs, or affect our own interests either present or future. In such a view every thought of rewards or punishments is unjust; for wherein is the justice of rewarding a man for doing that which he could not avoid doing, or where the justice of punishing man at all for that for which he was in no sense responsible?
But such a view of God's foreknowledge is utterly wrong; it is opposed by reason and common sense as well as by the Bible. "Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world." His plan is complete in all its parts, and his wisdom and power are such that even though he grants us liberty, freedom of will to do as we please within certain broad limits, yet his wisdom and power being so superior, he can anticipate, counteract and overrule the various affairs of life to work together for good to his saints, and in the outcome to accomplish what he had planned. Such a view of God's foreknowledge, wisdom and power gives confidence and trust to those whose earnest desire and endeavor is to walk with God, lean on his promises, and render themselves living sacrifices in his service. But it gives no consolation to the careless, indifferent, slothful, foolish or overcharged servants.
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BEWARE!--Flatterers are the worst kind of traitors, for they will strengthen your imperfections, encourage you in all your evils, correct you in nothing, but so shadow and paint your follies and vices that you shall never, by their aid discover good from evil, vice from virtue.
In connection with the two articles following, the reader should call to mind the article in the June, '86, issue, entitled "Forsaking All."
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TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR TO-MORROW.
"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on." --`Luke 12:22`; `Matt. 6:25-34`.
This should not be understood as encouragement to carelessness or sloth. The Lord does not mean that we should go to bed without having, to the extent our ability, taken thought and made preparation for the morning meal, nor that we should expect clothes to grow upon our backs as feathers do upon sparrows or adornment upon lilies. Other exhortations from the divine Word quite contradict such an interpretation. Is it not written that we should be "Not slothful in business"? and again, "Let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give"? and again, that we should "Provide things" (`Rom. 12:11-17`)? and again, that he that provideth not, denies the Christian faith (`1 Tim. 5:8`)? And did not our Lord reprove the idlers in the vineyard parable, and does he not call the slothful servant wicked, in the parables of the pounds and talents? and did he not hold up to scorn the thoughtless builder who began a tower without taking thought whether he could finish it? All these things, as well as the Creator's method of having a plan and working all things towards its accomplishment, forbid that we should understand our Lord to enjoin upon his followers carelessness, thoughtlessness, improvidence, or anything akin to these.
What, then, does the Lord mean? He means that we should not be anxious in the sense of being fretted and worried about food or clothing. To be so corroded with care for these earthly things would dwarf our spiritual growth, and prevent our interest in, and labor for, the promised kingdom. He would have us absorbed in heavenly things; in obtaining, and using, and giving out to others, spiritual food--truth,--and in keeping our wedding garment of Christ's righteousness unspotted from the world, and in daily inworking upon it the embroidery of good works and self-sacrifices. (`Psa. 45:14`.) And to do this,-- to make this our chief work, he sees that we must be freed from distress of mind with reference to earthly things.
First, we should be free from that pride of life, that worldly spirit, which leads on so many to a love of money, fashion, costly apparel, and show, which as a great maelstrom swallows up the time, energy, and love, consecrated to the Lord and the truth. And through the apostle, he tells us that having [needful] food and clothing, we should be content (`1 Tim. 6:8`), and not seek to compete with the world in a race for the luxuries of the present time, but use that time and energy in the service to which we consecrated it. Secondly, should the Lord see fit to permit us to come down close, to the want of even the merest necessities--if, in spite of our diligence in business, and prudence, and economy, we should find the cellar and the purse growing empty, and the cupboard bare, we should not be as others--as the world, but should remember that our Father knoweth that we have need of the necessities, and that it is a part of his promise that bread and water shall be SURE to us. And with this confidence, we should be ready to share our last loaf or last dollar with any more needy than we. The Lord will provide! He may by this means teach us the lesson of trust, or correct us if we were being overcharged with the cares of this life, in an attempt to race with the world for present luxuries and earthly wealth. Yet without doubting his power, we should not expect the Lord to send us the wheat, or flour, or ready-baked bread, any more than we should expect him to put food into our stomachs already masticated. That we may learn to walk by faith, and not by sight and signs and wonders, our Father usually supplies our necessities as he does those of the sparrow which our Lord used as an illustration--namely, in a natural way, as a reward of industry.
Many, however, who know nothing of real, actual want of life's necessities, are much exercised by the loss of luxuries when adversity comes. These they should never have set their hearts upon,
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and in most instances wealth and luxury are snares which entrap and consume the spirit of love and service toward the Master. As he said, "How hardly [with what difficulty, and how rarely] shall they that have riches enter the kingdom of God." (`Mark 10:23`.) We should remember that luxuries were never guaranteed to us, and if we are parted from them, our only regret should be if the means did not go to forward the truth and honor of our Lord. Our consolation and rest and trust should be in the fact, that "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," and who are striving to make their calling and election to the Kingdom sure.--`Rom. 8:28`; `2 Pet. 1:10`.
PROVIDING FOR OUR CHILDREN.
But another phase of this subject presents itself. What thought would the Lord have his consecrated ones take for their children? To what extent should they use or appropriate his money, time, etc., to their children?
We answer, that as God's stewards we are authorized to use our Bible-guided judgments upon this as upon other exercises of our stewardship. We are given a natural special supervision over those whom in God's providence we have brought into existence. God would have us consider our children and deal with them as under his care; and our influence over them was part of our "all" consecrated to him. He tells us that he would have us "provide" for their necessities which thus come in as part of our own necessities. As with ourselves their clothing should be neat, comfortable and becoming "decent" but not "costly" (`1 Tim. 2:9`). And though youth need not always be arrayed in somber shades, we should ever remember to use economy both of time and means in this matter as in all others, lest we waste the Lord's substance and injure our children as well. Children are often injured by overdressing and adornment, making them the subjects of flattery, and cultivating in them a spirit of pride and selfishness, and creating the unchristian class distinctions of society even in childhood. The proper and best provision for our children's future, is a sensible education which should embrace at least the common school branches, as well as the practical lessons of life, whether trade or housekeeping or business. It is our duty to fit them to do something as well as to know something in life. And what is not learned in early life, is learned in later years, if at all, at great cost to themselves and others.
If our stewardship includes money or property, may we set aside a portion of this for the use of our children in the future by will or otherwise? This is a delicate question to answer for another. To his own Master every steward must make his report of his use of the things committed to his trust. We suggest, however, that in the case of maimed, sickly or young children or aged, infirm, indigent parents, duty and privilege would seem more clearly defined, and aside from very pressing necessities for the money in the Lord's special spiritual work, the future, as the present of these, might be understood as being part of our responsibility in the Lord's sight.
Yet, should our cool judgment ever dictate that our trust funds should all be spent in the present, we should not hesitate to trust our dear ones with ourselves, to our Father's care. The writer's observation agrees with that of the prophet who said, I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. And this must be the comfort also of those whose trusts do not include wealth. We can as fully trust our Father's care over our helpless little ones, and his provision for them, as for ourselves. Therefore, take not anxious thought for the morrow, worry and sweat not as the world to amass wealth for the future, but give all the surplus of your time and energy over and above that spent in providing things needful, in the accumulating of the heavenly riches, in filling yourself and others with the riches of heavenly favors, that you may abound [be rich] more and more in the knowledge of the Lord, in wisdom and love and joy and peace and in every good word and work. Be careful [worried, harassed and overcharged] for nothing [on no account]: the Lord is present, and whatever may be the present, the future of the faithful is glorious, and of the world blessed.
"His providence is kind and large,
Both man and beast His bounties share;
The whole creation is His charge,
But saints are His peculiar care."
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TREASURES EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY.
Closely relating to the subject above is our Lord's statement: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, ...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (`Matt. 6:19-20`).
The call to which the consecrated have answered is a "heavenly calling;" the prize for which the Christian Church runs is a heavenly prize. Because our hearts will be (and our time and talents too) where our treasure is, therefore, we should be on our guard lest earthly treasures draw our hearts from the heavenly prize. A treasure may be of any sort--money, children, wife, flowers, birds, horses, cattle, or self, or business --anything. That which fills the largest place in our hearts is our treasure. As our hearts are "deceitful" we cannot always take what they say relative to this subject, and each should judge his own heart and decide what it treasures the most. To aid in such examination, we suggest that, that is its treasure upon which the mind and affections dwell most pleasurably, and though broken off or interrupted by business or sorrow, the heart returns as naturally to its treasure as the compass needle to the pole. The heart's treasure is that for which we would and do make the greatest sacrifices of time, strength, convenience, etc. It is of our heart's treasure that we always most desire to speak to those we love, and to the defense of which we quickly come when we see it assailed, and in whose
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defense we would most quickly spend all--even life itself.
The honors and privileges of our calling to be "the Bride, the Lamb's wife," and joint heirs with him of the heavenly kingdom, should make that the supreme treasure of every heart in which it is appreciated. In comparison with that, every other treasure should seem, as it really is, insignificant. The heart should continually gravitate toward this as its center or treasure; and though flowers and birds and children and wife and parents be treasured and highly esteemed and dearly loved, yet all of these combined should not be as precious to us as the heavenly prize upon which our hearts have centered.
To have this heavenly treasure will not prevent love for others, in proportion as they are good and pure; but it would always hold them in abeyance, so that if a clash of interests should come, and it should become a question of holding the affection of any or all of these, at the sacrifice of the Lord's approval we should be ready to decide for the Lord at once, without delay or hesitation; and we should see to it that our loyalty to the Lord is ever ready for this test; for he not only calls us to the honor of being his bride and joint heir, but he tells us he will test the faithfulness of our professions, and that he that loveth him not more than houses, lands, and all else, and whose love will not stand the test of fiery trial, is not worthy of him (`Matt. 10:37-38`), and that they who are ashamed of him and his word now, he will not own by and by. And who can say this is an unreasonable test, when the honor of the position is considered.
In proportion as we are faithful to our consecration in rendering our sacrifices, denying self and following the Master's steps, we come to realize the heavenly treasure more and more clearly, and our hearts are set more and more upon it. On the contrary the more we handle and spend time and attention upon earthly things, the more they get to fill our hearts and so would crowd out the heavenly. "Set your affections on things above." Where your treasure is your heart will be, and what you sacrifice most for, becomes your treasure. That which costs us most and which we give most for, we love most, and thus it is proved to be our treasure.
Those who hope to gain the heavenly prize would do well to consider frequently and with care what difference these hopes have made upon their plans and aims in this life. There should be a marked difference not only in our feelings, but also in our actual plans and interests. It is very easy to lightly say and think, "O, yes, I love the truth and the Lord's cause better than any thing else"; but lest our hearts deceive us, we should not hesitate to put them to the test--to measure and weigh our devotedness to God by our daily sacrifices. Those who thus frequently sit in judgment upon their own case do not so often need to be corrected of the Lord; "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord."--`1 Cor. 11:31,32`.
It may be a painful thing, sometimes, to apply the test thoroughly; but as we consider the eternal and valued interests which are conditioned on our present faithfulness, we should not shrink from the task. The Lord will not be deceived, nor take for his joint-heir one whose heart is divided. "He that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."--`Matt. 10:34-39`.
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WHO SHALL BE GREATEST?
"There arose a reasoning among them, which of them should be greatest. And Jesus, perceiving the thought of their heart, took a child and set him by him, and said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me. And whosoever receiveth me, the same is great." `Luke 9:48`.
Selfish aspirations to supremacy are not in harmony with the will of God; they do not come from a right and proper exercise of mind; and consequently they form no part of any perfect character. "Godliness," says the Apostle, "with contentment is great gain." (`1 Tim. 6:6`.) And said Jesus, "Whosoever shall exalt himself, shall be abased, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (`Matt. 23:12`.) We have no intimation that either Jesus, or any of the angels that kept their first estate, ever aspired to anything beyond that sphere to which divine wisdom had appointed them. It was because of such unlawful aspiration to position and power to which he was never invited, that Satan fell; and it was to such ambition that he tempted Eve, saying, "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods." `Gen. 3:5`.
The example of Jesus was a perfect illustration of the Father's pleasure, in that he was obedient to the extent of humbling himself; first to become a man, a nature much lower than his former nature, and then when a man, to become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. And because of this obedience, proved by his extreme humiliation, God hath now highly exalted him. (`Phil. 2:6-9`.) It would be the very height of presumption on the part of any human being, as it was on the part of Satan, to aspire to the divine nature if he were not invited to that position by God himself; and the Scriptures, when referring to the future high exaltation of the Church, make a special note of the fact that they were all "called, and chosen, and faithful" to the conditions of the call (`Rev. 17:14`); and consequently their aspiration was not an unlawful one, but a grateful acceptance of the grandest favor of God, giving evidence of their full faith in the divine promise, and being obedient to the divinely appointed conditions.
The love which God will have to prevail among all his creatures of every name and order, is also illustrated in the fact that throughout his plan, any exaltation of some of his creatures above others, is for the greater advantage and blessing of others. This principle in the divine economy was expressed by Jesus, when he said, "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." (`Luke 22:26,27`.) This should not only be considered a warning to the individual seeking preferment in the Church, but also as an instruction to the Church to accept as its honored servants, only such as he describes; and furthermore, it expresses the will of God, and shows us which members of the "body" God will use in serving the body with meat in due season.
To aspire to advancement for self-glory or self-gratification, to desire personal preferment above others, is contrary to the spirit of God's plan, which is love-- a love that places a neighbor on an equality with self, and which only desires advancement for the grandly benevolent purpose of increased ability to serve others.
But notwithstanding the plain teachings of the Scriptures on this subject, these selfish aspirations have been a stumbling stone to very many of God's children. And even those fully consecrated to God need to watch constantly lest they fall under this temptation to selfishness. If we would be pleasing to God, we must have the spirit of a little child with regard to others, and an unselfish, guileless spirit, full of love and without hypocrisy.
If we engage in the Lord's work for any other purpose, or with any other motives than those of the purest benevolence, we may or may not receive the reward sought; we must run the risk; but we will never receive the sure reward of the faithful overcomers. Those who aspire to the promised favor of the divine nature, should think much of the joy set before them of participating with their Lord in the grand work of restoring all things, of bringing speedily to the groaning creation life, and health, and happiness, and every blessing which a perfect heart can crave. And not only so, but of carrying the glorious work of blessing to all things in heaven, as well as in earth. This is our future mission, and the extent to which we enter into the spirit of our future mission, and thereby prove our worthiness of that honor, is measurable by our present efforts to prosecute the work to the extent of our present ability. Thus our Father measures us, and thus we should measure ourselves if we would know how we stand in his estimation. MRS. C. T. R.
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"NOT ALL OF DEATH TO DIE."
"Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."--`Matt. 10:28`.
"God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him: male and female created he them," and he blessed them and gave them the dominion of the teeming earth (`Gen. 1:27-31`). Thus the crowning work of creation was completed and given the Lordship over "all the works of his hands." This likeness of himself--a little lower (only) than the angels--was crowned by his Maker with glory and honor (`Psa. 8`). And when God rested from his work and surveyed all that he had done, he saw that all was "very good."
It is a fundamental law of God's universe governing all his creatures that, "The soul [being] that sinneth it shall die." He will not supply life to any creature that will not live in harmony with his righteous laws. When Adam disobeyed he therefore fell into this condemnation (`Gen. 3:19`), and in him the race was doomed to extinction (`Rom. 5:12`), the sentence being (not to die merely, and after a period to live again, but to remain dead,) eternal death.
Thus by this one act of disobedience the whole benevolent design of God seemed to be frustrated. But known unto God are all his works. He knew what man without experience would do before he formed him (`Jer. 1:5`), and full provision for this failure of the creature had been made. A "Lamb" had been slain in the counsel of God before the foundations of the earth were laid (`John 1:36`; `Rev. 13:8`), and it had been arranged that by another man should come a new supply of life to the perishing race. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (`1 Cor. 15:21,22`). The fearful cost had all been counted (`Luke 14:28`) ere it was decided, "Let us make man." Thus in God's comprehensive plan all live; "For all live unto God" (`Luke 20:38`), in view of this new source of life which will in due time reach and restore all (`Acts 3:21`). And because of this determination in the mind of God and the provisions made thereto (the ransom) there will be a "resurrection from the dead" (`Acts 4:2`). This plan, more or less darkly expressed, formed the basis of faith for all who were accepted of God in former ages. By their "faith in God" (`Mark 11:22`) "this mountain was removed," and it was not to them an incredible thing that God should raise the dead (`Acts 26:8`). This fixed faith that all live unto God sustained the overcomers of the Jewish age (`Heb. 11`), who, though they died without receiving the promises, yet saw them afar off, and were persuaded of and embraced them because they believed them (not because believing them would make them true, as some teach to-day).
To this gospel "which shall be to all people" (`Luke 2:10`), another measure was added during the Gospel Age--a "great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord" (`Heb. 2:3`); an exceedingly precious favor not before made known (`Col. 1:26`). By the terms of this gospel, all who by faith lay hold upon this new source of life are reckoned of God as already partakers of it, and as having passed from the dying condition of the old, and as receiving of the "fatness" of the new (`Rom. 11:17`) source of life.
While their condition is but a reckoned one (that they may have access to the gospel which began with our Lord --`Rom. 12:1`), and they are still going into the tomb, yet at the time appointed their vitality (which by fellowship with Christ in sacrifice has become hid with Christ in God's design--`Col. 3:3`), will reanimate them, because they (with the world) live in the memory and plan of God, having had the new supply accounted to them through the redemption.
These shall not "see death" (`John 8:51`). They are "asleep" and have not "perished" (`1 Cor. 15:18`). They have escaped from the condemnation and will be fully released (`Rom. 5:18` and `8:1`) at once when their head assumes control. If any "fall away" after having the full benefits of this great favor (such are few in number, we hope and believe,) they "see death." As they reach the tomb they "perish." Because it is "impossible to renew them again" (`Heb. 6:4-6`). They are not "asleep," but have fallen again into the original condemnation for their own (not Adam's) transgression, and are blotted from the memory of God as though they had never been.
In harmony with the symbolic framing of the text, these had been "delivered from the [original] power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son" (`Col. 1:13`). "Translated that they should not see death" (`Heb. 11:5`) into the new Jerusalem, but through willful rejection of the favor, shall be themselves "cast into Gehenna," --not in their "graves"--(they are no
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longer reckoned "asleep" with a future hope of awakening), but being denied burial, are "destroyed" (not preserved) in the "Valley of Hinnom" (on the south and west of Jerusalem) here in text translated "hell" from the Greek spelling "Gehenna,"--the figure of second death, and "lake of fire" of John's vision. (`Rev. 20:14`).
Thus not only the body of willful sinners perishes, but the soul (being) is forever blotted out of existence, having no hope of a resurrection. Yea, I say unto you, fear him who is able to do this.
H. L. GILLIS.
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A DANGEROUS RULE.
Says a contemporary:--"Accept the truth as it is set forth in the Bible as a whole, and let isolated passages wait to be reconciled to this truth, until further study, experience and light from heaven. There are a number of doctrines which I firmly hold to the joy and rejoicing of my heart, because I believe that the Bible as a whole fully supports them, and yet there are some passages that I cannot satisfactorily to myself harmonize with those doctrines. I do not think it is possible to lay too much emphasis on this point. Draw your conclusions from a consideration of the teachings of the entire Word upon any given subject, and then hold to these CONCLUSIONS, notwithstanding your inability to harmonize single passages therewith."
This is a common and dangerous rule; so common that it scarcely needs an advocate, yet so dangerous that few public teachers would dare advocate it. Briefly stated, it is, select a theory for yourself regarding the general teaching of the Bible and "firmly hold" on to it. If any meet you with a passage of Scripture contradicting your theory, still hold firmly to your theory with joy and rejoicing of heart, and tell them their quotations are "isolated passages." This is the very course pursued for centuries by all the various religious sects, and it has kept them separate--each member rejoicing in, and holding firmly to the theory of presumed Bible doctrine which circumstances and education have led him to regard as the "general teaching of the Bible." And thus each withstands the truth; and growth is impossible by reason of the common defence: "You quote only an isolated passage."
The Bible, when rightly understood, is one harmonious whole, and in proportion as these "isolated passages" are ignored, the theory built is sure to be erroneous: hence the danger of the rule quoted above. And the more closely such a rule is followed, the more surely will error be firmly held and truth firmly rejected and ignored. If this common dangerous rule were not followed, many false and pernicious theories would fall. The special effort of the journal referred to, seems to be to overthrow faith in the Bible doctrine of the ransom. It claims that God IN JUSTICE OWES mankind a restitution, and hence that we were not bought, redeemed, with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, notwithstanding the statements of Paul and Peter (`1 Cor. 6:20`; `1 Pet. 1:19`.) It holds to an opposite view, "with joy and rejoicing of heart." It claims that Jesus did not give himself a ransom [antilutron, a corresponding price] for all (`1 Tim. 2:6`), and that he was not a propitiation [hilasmos, satisfaction] for our sins. (`1 John 2:2`.) Its readers have probably been asking how these and a hundred more of the most pointed passages in the Scriptures, including the sacrifices typical and real, can be explained away. These our contemporary frankly acknowledges it cannot explain away, but would have its readers ignore as "isolated passages," and accept its claim of being supported by the Bible as a whole.
"The Bible as a whole," and "the general teaching of the Bible," are very common expressions among many whose theories are very far from "the general teaching of the Bible as a whole." The Bible as a whole, never teaches that which any portion of it contradicts. The general teaching of the Bible on any subject, can only be obtained by a careful comparison of all that is written concerning it. And we should never conclude that we have the truth on any subject of divine revelation, so long as there is a single passage that contradicts, or is out of harmony with what we conceive to be the general teaching. The perfect harmony of every statement of Scripture with reference to any subject is the only proof of the correctness of our interpretation.
And while our contemporary deems this error of ignoring any passages of Scripture which contradict or oppose its theories, as a principle of primary importance, and thinks it cannot lay too much stress upon it, we would warn the children of God to beware of any such counsel. It is the snare of the adversary which will lead any who are so listless and careless as to be drawn into it, away from the truth, and possibly to entire shipwreck of faith. Guided by this false principle, the journal referred to has drifted away from the rock foundation of faith, the ransom. Upon no other principle than this pernicious error, upon which it lays special stress, can any other plan of salvation claim Scriptural support. This dangerous rule is followed, though not generally so boldly stated, by every journal that advocates salvation without a ransom.
If in all the Bible there is one doctrine more than any other which can be denominated, the teaching of the Bible as a whole, it is the doctrine of a ransom for all--of a price paid by Jesus for us, on account of our sins, on account of, or through which, present access to God, and future blessings upon all depend. It is the scarlet thread running all through the Scriptures. It attests both the heinousness of sin, and the love of God in providing the way of salvation, as well as the love of Jesus Christ our Lord in carrying out that plan for our redemption and restoration to favor.
The sacrifices of forty centuries commanded and acknowledged of God as types of the true sin-offering, the words of Jesus himself, the fact of his death, and the many expressions and elaborate arguments in the writings of the Apostles, attest the fact that according to God's arrangement, "Without the shedding of blood" there could be "no remission of sins," no "reconciliation for iniquity," no "access to God," no "life;" hence no restitution. All these attest also, that not the blood of bulls and goats, nor the service of the typical priests, could "take away sin" and open up the way of life, but the blood, the life of Christ, as the "Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world;" and that "He put away [our] sins by the sacrifice of himself."-- `Heb. 9:26`; `John 1:29`; `1 Pet. 1:19`.
Against this very general as well as very particular teaching of the Bible, not one solitary passage offers contradiction. Shall we ignore this testimony, and call these texts isolated passages, and accept and rejoice in any theory to the contrary?
We suggest a more correct and safe rule for the study of Bible doctrine, which is the very reverse of the one given by our contemporary, viz:--
Confess the ignorance of yourself and your friends regarding God's plans except as revealed by him in the Bible. Come to its study free from prejudice, ready to receive its teachings and to reason from its standpoint. Whatever theories may present themselves either from your own mind, or from others, prove all by a rigid examination in the light of every statement of Scripture bearing upon it; and while there are passages which you "cannot satisfactorily harmonize," DO NOT HOLD your theory very firmly.
There are picture puzzles made which will illustrate this principle. The block of wood bearing the picture is cut into all sorts of shapes, some of them much like others in size but all bearing different portions of the one picture. After these pieces are disarranged, the puzzle is to get each into its proper place again and thus produce again the original picture. Those who have tried it, know that the larger blocks bearing larger portions of the picture are most easily located, and if rightly placed facilitate the placing of the smaller pieces very greatly; but if one of these larger pieces be misplaced, it produces utter confusion in the placing of the smaller pieces, and though none can feel sure that he has it worked out correctly until the last piece is fitted in place properly, his assurance must be in proportion as the harmony of the picture progresses and the number of unplaced pieces decreases.
So it is in the study of the Plan of God; it is given to us complete but dislocated in the Bible. The largest piece of all--the centre to which all others must be matched and fitted is the doctrine of salvation through the ransom. To it all other features of the plan must be fitted perfectly, and our assurance and the firmness with which we hold to any theory regarding God's plan should be in proportion only as the unfitted portions diminish.
To put together a picture and leave out the center piece, hoping that when we had made a picture of our own of the smaller and less important and distinct pieces, we should be able perhaps to have it complete without the main center piece, would be to follow the rule our contemporary suggests. You might make a sort of a picture thus, but it would give but a distorted and imperfect view at best. The grandeur and perfection and strength of the complete and finished view can only be had when all the parts are harmoniously fitted to the grand central truth of redemption through a ransom--a corresponding price.
Let each bear in mind that the Bible as a whole does not teach that which any portion of it contradicts. Hence we denominate a dangerous rule the one first given, though the editor of that journal professes to seek in this way for the Spirit of the Word.
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NOT IN VAIN.
"Now thanks be to that God who always leads us forth to triumph with the Anointed One, and who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of him in every place; because we are a sweet odor of Christ to God, among those who are perishing: To these indeed an odor of death to death, and to those an odor of life to life. And for these things who is qualified? For we are not like the many trafficking the Word of God, but really from sincerity, and as from God, in the presence of God, we speak concerning Christ."--`2 Cor. 2:14,17`.--Diaglott.
One advantage which the Christian toiler has over every other worker, is the full assurance that his labor shall not be in vain. And in proportion as he has faith in the promise of God, his service will be a joyful one, notwithstanding many things otherwise calculated to discourage. How truly may the consecrated child of God enter into the spirit of the Apostle's thanksgiving. Thanks be to God who always leads us forth to triumph, and who diffuses by us the fragrance of the knowledge of him in every place.
Like Paul it is our privilege to go with Christ outside the camp bearing his reproach. In the harvest field the Lord has appointed to every one of the anointed body a place, and showed that not even the humblest is excluded, and that the one, or two, or many talents may all be employed. Other saints have labored faithfully in the past, sowing the precious seed which we are now privileged to help in harvesting, and ere long the faithful sower and the faithful reaper shall rejoice together.--`John 4:36`.
But some may question, In what sense are we always led forth to triumph? We answer, In the same sense that Paul was so led. His message was not always received and appreciated, but whether received or rejected of men, he triumphed in the fact that his labor and sacrifices were a sweet savor to God in any case, whether they resulted favorably or unfavorably to those who heard. Paul's service was rendered heartily, as unto the Lord; and while his love for others made him intensely anxious that they should receive the full benefit of his service, he was not disheartened or tempted to give up the work, when the desired results failed to follow. It was his privilege to rejoice even then in his Master's approval, for he worked with an eye single to his glory.
The results of the preaching of Paul and the other apostles were not always favorable to the individuals who heard. Some rejected the whole message and would not hear it. Others would hear or receive only a part of it; and it seems that some even, after having received the truth and for a time walked accordingly, afterward became apostates and "enemies of the cross of Christ," not only turning their talents and energies away from the truth, but against the truth, and endeavoring to subvert the faith of others.
But notwithstanding these exceptions, which charity bids us hope were few, there were two general classes reached by Paul and every other true ambassador mentioned in this text. To the one class the message is "glad tidings," a sweet odor, a message of life giving hope of life. To the other class it was a reproof, a warning, unpleasant in that it condemned them, declared their lives to be out of harmony with the will of God, and showed that those which do such things, and take pleasure in them, are unworthy of life, worthy of death.
To these then the message had an unsavory odor; it was a death message and held out no hopes of life to such, but warned them that death was the legitimate consequence of their present course.
Thus our Lord foretold that it should be (`John 16:8`); that when the spirit of truth would come [upon the church] it [operating through the church by precept and example] would reprove the world, convincing them of sin and righteousness and of a coming judgment--of sin [by showing their present life to be contrary to the will of God]; of righteousness [by showing them by word and example what right is,--what the will of God is]; and of judgment to come [by informing them that though punishment does not always follow sin now, yet there will be a day, and age, in which every deed whether good or bad will have a just reward].
The fact that our message is not acceptable to them as a sweet odor, does not prove that it will never be so. They are now more or less blinded by a failure to rightly appreciate either good or evil,
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else they could see as we do, that they are perishing through entailed Adamic sin, and that the message we bring is good tidings of a way through Christ by which all may enter into life everlasting. Their rejection of our message does not cause them to perish; they already perished through Adam, and they merely in blindness reject, for the time, the only means of recovery.
The Apostle mentions the same class in a following chapter continuing his discourse. (`2 Cor. 4:3,4`.) He there says that these who reject and do not receive the offer of life, are surely blinded by Satan; they do not see things in their true light. It is because they are blind and not that the message is not clear and favorable that the advantages of the message are not seen, but hidden to them--the lost, the unsaved. All were lost, but believers having heard and accepted, are reckoned as saved or recovered to life. These who reject are still in their former condition, still lost--unbenefited by the favor as yet.
But thank God for the assurance that these whom our message does not now reach, and cannot now benefit or recover from their lost or perishing condition, will be brought under favorable conditions shortly, when the glorious Millennial reign is fully inaugurated. The "god" or "prince of this world" shall be bound and his chains of blinding error and misrepresentation shall be removed from the groaning creation, and he himself shall be bound with the great strong chain of truth, and he shall deceive the people no more during the glorious reign of Messiah.--`Rev. 20:1-3`.
Then the blind eyes shall be opened (`Isa. 29:18`); then the glory of the Lord and the righteousness of all his arrangements may be clearly seen, and all flesh "shall see it" together. Then the same message, now an odor of death, and offensive to them because of their blindness, will be rightly seen. The knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, and all shall know him.
The conditions of the message as it relates to sin, and God's abhorrence of it, and the fact that he will not grant life to willful sinners, etc., will still be the same; they cannot change; but the conditions of the sinner will change; his blindness will be removed, and he must then decide the question (obedience and life, or sin and death), which we are able to decide now.
But it is asked, What advantage then do believers of the Gospel age have over those now blind, who will see in the Millennial? We answer, much every way. Think of the joy and peace which we have from believing, which the world can neither give nor take away; think of the fellowship with the Father, and with our Lord Jesus, and the realization that under his favor and care all things, good and bad, are working together for our ultimate good. And then, besides all this, remember that those only who believed during the acceptable time (See June TOWER, page 5), receive the high calling or invitation to become joint-sacrifices with Christ Jesus, and thus joint-heirs of his coming glory and kingdom, which is to bless and uplift those whom he redeemed.
But though we enjoy the service most when it results in finding those to whom the message is good tidings, and sweet odor, yet our service to the other and much larger class is profitable also. Sometimes a seed of truth is a long time in germinating; sometimes those to whom at first your message is not agreeable, an odor of condemnation and death only, recover from their blindness and become faithful servants and messengers of the truth long after your message. Others it restrains from more violent and outward evil, and your labor is thereby a blessing in some degree to the world. And even the individual, though he die blinded to the beauties of the message you sought to carry to him, will in the future doubtless be helped and benefited by the remembrance of your words and example.
But nevertheless, whether we see much or little fruit to our labors, let us remember Paul's lesson above, that our labor cannot be in vain if it be acceptable to God as a sweet odor, as it surely is where done with an eye single to his service and glory.
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THEY SHALL CAST YOU OUT.
A number are waiting anxiously to learn the result of the trial of several brethren by their fellow-members in the "Disciples" or "Christian Church." The report was crowded out last month but we lay it before you now, as follows:--
Westmoreland, Va. DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
In my letter of June 1st, [See June TOWER] I made known the fact that a trouble had arisen in this section in the Disciples or Christian Church in respect to the promulgation of those precious truths which have been sealed and hid until the due time, now present, and as advocated by ZION'S WATCH TOWER, which we believe are in harmony with the word, plan and character of God, though out of harmony with the doctrines and theories of men. As the preachers mentioned, five in number, have come and gone, I feel it my duty as well as privilege to give you the result. I will venture only this criticism. They carried nothing with them of which they will ever boast and they left nothing behind them of which they will ever be proud. After the sermon on Saturday
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night the Evangelist announced their mission in our midst. In our conversation he first tried to have us think of "that man Russell" as a fanatic, etc., but we have begun to see things in a different light. We conversed on various subjects, giving reasons for our faith, and for the rejection of former theories; he finally stated that no good could be accomplished by an argument, as we would reject his proof and call it figurative if it did not suit us. All arguments were cut short save that those five preachers met us in the church yard Sunday afternoon seemingly to entangle us in our speech by asking mixed and tangling questions, and demanding an answer, yes, or no. We all answered according to the questions and not with respect to their desire. Sunday morning he preached on "Christian Union our Plea," etc. Sunday night it was announced that the trouble existing in the church would be decided on the following night and that the decision would be final. On Monday night at 8 o'clock we had a sermon by the Evangelist from the text, "I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness." (`Psa. 17:15`.) He went on to show that death was not death, that is, man does not really die but only sleeps, referring to the cases of Lazarus, Jairus' daughter, etc., as proof, stating that we might call it figurative if we liked, but it was there. But he called no attention to their connection which might have shown that the language was figurative. After services the church was called to order and organized for business in the usual manner and the following resolutions were read and motioned to be adopted:--
Report of Committee selected to decide the trouble existing in Ephesus Church, June 27th, 1886.
"Inasmuch as certain views are held and advocated by those whom we have hitherto considered as one with us, which views we hold are speculative, unreasonable and unscriptural, and do but engender strife and produce no good result, and inasmuch as the Disciples of Christ have a right to Ephesus Church and premises, and do hereby forbid for the above reasons, the public expression and propagation of said opinions,--therefore, be it.
Resolved, by us the Committee selected, that those holding such views be required to cease from expressing themselves upon such views. And should they not agree to this, that they here make known their intention, and publicly withdraw themselves from the Disciples worshiping at Ephesus, giving their names, and the Secretary of this meeting will note them, and the clerk of this church will strike them from the church register. And if they do not comply, we withdraw and are no longer responsible. Be it further
Resolved, that we deplore this sad occurrence and love these brethren in spite of their erroneous opinions, but to save the church and preserve the harmony, peace and prosperity of her membership, we feel this our bounden duty. W. J. COCKE, Evangelist and Chairman.
We concur in the above,
E. A. COLE,
H. C. GARRISON,
I having asked and obtained permission to speak, said: While I have not even leaned against a college wall that I might, perchance, draw some of the moisture out of its brick, yet in my humble opinion the true meaning of these resolutions would be more plainly expressed in these, though fewer words, viz.: "Notwithstanding the Disciples regard the holy Scriptures of both testaments as their only creed, Be it
Resolved, That hereafter no person holding membership in the church at Ephesus, shall search those Scriptures in order to learn that he may teach to his fellow man, any truth which was not seen and advocated by Alexander Campbell in his day."
When you vote on the resolutions, think of their meaning: If you reject them we will stay with you; if you adopt them you will drive from your midst every Christian who has in his heart a proper reverence for the Word of God, and love for his fellow man. You will not drive us from the Word of God, nor from the Christian Church, but from your midst, into the pure, free air of heaven. In that pure air, on this free American soil, we will still search those Scriptures and speak of their truths.
We were ruled out of order. As none favoring our views were allowed to vote, they were adopted without a dissenting voice. Four of us complied by asking that our names be erased, stating that they were no longer responsible for our teaching, nor we for their actions; that we must obey God rather than man. There are more to follow when convenient, who are not silent. A true idea of the confusion and trouble can more fairly be stated in the words of our opponents. After they had proceeded to select the committee, etc., his attention being called to the fact, the president stated that in the confusion of the hour they had forgotten a most important part of the programme, viz., to engage in prayer. Further on the evangelist said: "I have never been in such a trouble before, and we pray God we never will be again; it has been forced on us and we have tried to settle it the best we could."
We understand the plan of the chief reaper to be first, to bind the tares, next, to gather the wheat.
"Let fearful saints fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessing on your head."
If you see anything in the above that would be of any interest, you can use it as you think proper. These things were not done in a corner, there being no less than 300 persons present, and we are under no obligations to keep them secret. Your brief outlines and advice were sufficient and of great service, though we could not get those preachers to attack it in any form, and we thank you for them.
Your brother in the harvest work,
H. C. REAMY.
REMARKS BY THE EDITOR.
This is not what might have been expected of the "Disciples," who claim to be the most unsectarian denomination, whose creed is "the Bible only." Other denominations making no claim to the Bible as the test of fellowship, would have tried their dissenting brethren by their creed and their regular church court, and would have cast them out without needing to violate justice, since all assenting to such creeds are subject to their conditions; indeed they should not attempt to stay in an organization with whose fundamental faith and regulations they are no longer in harmony.
However we see in this the tendency of this harvest truth--to separate. The tares are bound up and separated, while the true wheat stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Compare `Matt. 13:30` and `Isa. 28:21,22`.
Thus the elect from the four winds of heaven are being "gathered together" into harmony, into the light, into the truth, "out of Babylon," but not "out of his [Christ's] kingdom." By coming out of Babylon in harmony with the command, they are but proving themselves overcomers of the "Beast and his image," etc., (`Rev. 20:4`) and thereby are confirming or making sure their calling and election to that kingdom and class. Others, on the contrary, being tested by the truth, are found to be its adversaries, and thus proved to be unworthy of the position to which all were called--unworthy of the kingdom. They are gathered out of it--separated from the class the Lord recognizes, and bound tightly by their own prejudices, in which condition they will be in the "fire" of trouble coming upon such in this "day of wrath" and "trouble."
Stand fast, dear brethren; maintain a good record as soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb. The Captain assures us that we shall conquer through death in his service; that the "crown of life" is laid up for overcomers. "Let no man take thy crown."-- `Rev. 3:11`.
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"WHAT is our death but a night's sleep? For as through sleep all weariness and faintness pass away and cease, and the power of the spirit comes back again, so that in the morning we rise fresh and joyous; so in the last day we shall rise as if we had only slept a night, and shall be fresh and strong."--Martin Luther.
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