VOL. IX. ALLEGHENY, PA., FEBRUARY, 1888. NO. 6.
Zion's Watch Tower
HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
TOWER PUBLISHING COMPANY.
BUSINESS OFFICE: No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa. C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS OF SUBSCRIPTION.
TERMS:--FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
Three shillings per year. Including "Special Number," four shillings. Remit by Foreign Postal Money Order.
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`.
Entered as SECOND CLASS MAIL MATTER, at the P.O., Allegheny, Pa.
WE HAVE PLENTY of the "Missionary Envelopes" now. Every letter you send out should bear this much of the gospel upon the outside, beside what you may think proper to write within.
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WE SEND THIS TOWER to many who have not renewed their subscription, nor indicated in any way their desire to have it come during 1888; because we want all to read the series of articles commencing "Who are Sons of God." Those whose paper stops with this number, have themselves to blame. You do not appreciate the spiritual food, if you will not "ask, that ye may receive, that your joy may be full"--and we are quite sure none of you are so poor that you cannot purchase a Postal Card.
Remember, too, that though moneys sent at any time are credited on our books, requests to have the TOWER continued free, hold good only for that year. So, if you wrote only last October it will not serve for 1888;--none prior to December count for 1888. Even if you have at sometime written that you "want the TOWER as long as you live," that is not sufficient, as we cannot tell but you may have died or changed your mind. We want to hear from you all once a year. Write a good letter or at least a card.
Again, while we will gladly send sample TOWERS to all the addresses you send us, we enter none for the year but such as are paid for or have sufficient interest to write and ask it for themselves.
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MORE ARP SLIPS.
We were out of Arp Slips "for free distribution" for a while, but have plenty now. Order all you can use. Put one into every letter you write; wrap one in every bundle you send away, and if possible arrange to engage help and distribute them to every church in your town.
As noticed in previous TOWERS, several friends paid for printing slips for free circulation in Ohio, Pennsylvania, W. Virginia and Maryland. Now we can announce to you that it is decided to use receipts of the TOWER TRACT FUND to further this cause. Seeing the good results from the slips already distributed, it is proposed to deluge the country with them. Order all you can use. Labor while it is called day, for the night cometh wherein no man can work.
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VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
The events of the past month show that the time is hastening rapidly when the Papacy will say, "I sit a queen and am no widow." The present Pope, Leo XIII., has just celebrated his fiftieth year in the priesthood, calling it a Jubilee. It has been made the occasion of the grandest gifts and ovations to the Papacy on the part of the civilized world, witnessed in centuries. Engrossed memorial letters and costly presents came from every quarter--from kings, queens, princes, bishops, mayors, clubs, churches and societies, aggregating in value ($15,000,000) fifteen millions of dollars.
The day of the celebration in Rome was a wonderful one, which can only be appreciated by those who realize what the Papacy really claims to be. It claims to be nothing less than the glorious millennial kingdom of Christ established in dignity and power to rule over the kingdoms of earth, the fulfillment of our Lord's prayer --"THY KINGDOM COME, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven." The papal hierarchy consisting of the bishops, cardinals, etc., with the pope as their head, claims to be the Kingdom of God in power, the pope being instead of Christ or the "vicar" of Christ, and the bishops, etc., instead of the apostles, in fulfillment of the Lord's promise, "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom." It must be remembered that the papacy claims [falsely] that the time of suffering with Christ is in the long ago past, and that the time of the Millennial reign and rule began long ago, when Papacy obtained the control of the Roman Empire. Papacy claims that the Protestant movement, the "Reformation," led up to the events of 1799, from which time to 1870 was accomplished the gradual destruction of her political power, and this period since 1799 she considers the "little season" of `Rev. 20:3`, in which the devil is loosed. Papacy thus ignorantly fulfills the predictions of God's word, by establishing a counterfeit kingdom, and instituting an unauthorized reign over the world under a counterfeit head, (the popes), thus constituting the anti-Christ kingdom so prominent in prophecy. Those only who see clearly the coming hierarchy or kingdom of the true kingly priesthood --the true church--under the true head, the Lord Jesus, can appreciate how great is the counterfeit deception by which papacy has blinded, and is still blinding herself and the world.
How great then is papacy's triumph at the present hour, as she seems to see what she considers the little season of Satan's power drawing to a close; and herself rising again to glory and power. But her fall will come all the more severely when it does come. In proportion as she has glorified herself, she shall have trouble and sorrow. The present uplifting in influence is but the lifting of the great millstone to make its casting down the more violent.--See `Rev. 17:6,18`, and `18:7,8,21`.
Papacy's "King of Glory," the pope, wearing the Prussian Emperor's present, the triple crown, covered with a thousand costly pearls, was carried about from place to place during the ceremonies of the celebration, and offered mass, etc. He received the homage of the forty-eight cardinals, two hundred and thirty-eight arch-bishops, and an audience of thirty thousand in the great cathedral known as St. Peters. [It will be remembered that it was the public sale of "Indulgences," to raise money to finish this immense cathedral, that opened the eyes of Luther and others, and led them to search and finally locate Papacy as the "Mystery of Iniquity," photographed in Daniel and Revelation.] But, poor man, as if to show that he was not the real, but only an imitation "King of glory" (`Psa. 24:7,9`), he fainted twice during the ceremonies.
Everything was done on the princely, or rather the kingly scale befitting to the claim that the pope is Christ on earth. The feeding of a hungry multitude on five loaves and two small fishes was not imitated, though thousands of the so-called children of the papacy are declared to be in a starving condition in Ireland; but on the contrary "Peter's pence," given out of their penury by the wretchedly poor the world over, to help the poor pope, was squandered lavishly by this (would be, if he could be,) "king of nations," (`Rev. 15:3`.) He began the day with a breakfast costing several thousand dollars,--over eighty dollars each, for all the bishops, cardinals, etc., (princes of the church) who partook of his hospitality. And by the way, it must be remembered that this was not extravagant on the part of the pope; he can well afford to do it. His poor predecessor, it will be remembered, left over twenty millions of dollars in the treasury on his decease-- safely and wisely invested with the Rothschilds, the Jewish bankers. This sum with interest and additions is probably not less than thirty millions now, as his regular income is put at a million and a half per year. Evidently the popes are unlike the apostles whom they claim to succeed. They are rich by making others poor, while the apostles were "poor while making others rich."--`2 Cor. 6:10`.
It should not surprise us to learn that Catholics did homage and sent gifts to their king, but how shall we interpret it when we learn that Protestants in places of representative influence did the same? It inclines us to think that Protestants themselves are beginning to see that they have gradually swung around so much, that they now see the foolishness of calling themselves protestants while they do not protest at all, but flatter and do homage to the system and the doctrines against which their fathers protested even to the stake, the rack and the dungeon.
The Queen of England, (the nation which claims to be the chief protestant against Papacy)--the head of the Church of England sent a very costly gift consisting of plate--ewer basin, etc.,--which was used by the pope in celebrating his Jubilee Mass. These are of gold and probably the most elegant and costly of any ever used in that most blasphemous of all the errors of Papacy--the Mass,--noted in the prophetic Scriptures as "the abomination" greater than all others.*
Next in religious influence among the sovereigns of the earth is Emperor William, of Germany. The Emperor being himself a member of the Lutheran church, and Germany the home of Luther and his notable work, any recognition of Papacy's claims on his part must not be overlooked. Did he send a present? Yes, and one of the greatest significance as indicating the German government's attitude toward the restoration of temporal power to Papacy. He sent as a present a new triple crown such as has been worn by the popes since the time of Benedict XIII. This crown is the distinctive badge of civil authority. It said in figure, Germany recognizes you as a civil ruler, though at present you are dispossessed of your territory; just as the present of the head of the Church of England said in symbol, Protestant England has changed her views on the subject and no longer recognizes your system as that of Anti-Christ, but upholds your communion.
The Duke of Norfolk was the Queen's envoy in this matter and approached the pope kneeling three times, and as the Catholic Times, of Liverpool, pointedly notes, is the only envoy sent by an English sovereign for over two hundred years.
These are so many additional straws, pointing the direction of public sentiment --pointing as we have heretofore noted to the grand confederation of the great religious systems--a union which to the many will seem a grand achievement,
*We have heretofore shown the error of the principles involved in the Mass, and when Vol. II. of DAWN is ready it will contain a full explanation of it, in connection with the prophecies which foretold its institution, and Papacy's rise and fall.
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a token of Millennial harmony, but which, to the extent that it is successful, will be as oppressive to the true church as it will be advantageous to the human systems called churches. For when the power of organization is once felt, it will soon be used to frown down and hinder all growth in grace and knowledge, and to suppress all teaching and teachers not in harmony with the errors and bondage of said unions. The only union and bondage which God has ever authorized in his children, is the union between each individual and Christ the head; and the union between the members of the church if in any way more than, or different from that prompted by love and the spirit of the head, is of the devil, no matter how honorable and moral the agents he may employ, or the arguments he may cause to be advanced to secure the bondage of God's children under the name of Christian Union. There can be no union between truth and error to last, and every attempt to secure it is an attempt to fetter the truth. We are in the "harvest" of this age, and the errors must fall before the "sharp sickle" of truth, which the Lord is now thrusting in. (`Rev. 14:15,16`.) Hence the doings of those who say "a confederacy" (a union) must not discourage us, for though they will succeed and cause a night to come, wherein no man can work except those who worship the beast or his image, (`John 9:4` and `Rev. 13:16,17`,) yet the truth will eventually triumph, as well as all faithful to it, under the true pope, the true "King of glory," the High priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.
Some further showing of the Roman anti-Christ system as "a great Christian camp" by leading protestant ministers, blinded by long cherished errors and wrong expectations concerning the church's
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present work and the promised kingdom under the whole heavens, we have been obliged to leave for another number of the TOWER; but they are truly surprising to those who see, but unnoticed by the majority, whom, as always, the god of this world blinds to the truth.
Meanwhile, as a proof that some eyes are getting open while others are being closed, we print below a brief report of a discourse delivered in New York by the ex-priest, now well known as Dr. McGlynn, as reported in the public press.
NEW YORK, Dec. 8.--The announcement that Dr. McGlynn would speak tonight on the Pope's right to interfere in politics drew an even larger audience than usual to the anti-poverty meeting at the Academy of Music. The address was a protest against a recent statement by Monsignor Preston, that Catholics are bound to vote as the Pope advises. Dr. McGlynn handled the subject boldly, declaring that wherever papal influence had been felt in politics it had been a curse to the country where it was exercised. Christ, the founder of the Church, had refrained from mixing religion with politics, but some of his vice-gerents had thought themselves wiser.
The speaker declared that even in religious matters Popes had often shown themselves far from infallible. It was the shameless abuse of the Papal power that led to the disruption of the Church in the sixteenth century. At the time when a flaxen haired German boy, named Martin Luther, was playing around his mother's knee, Pope Alexander VI. was installing his illegitimate children in his papal residence. Many Popes had been guilty of egregious blunders and crimes. It had been said that Catholics must take their religion and not their politics from Rome. But even in matters of religion they were not bound to blindly submit to dictation. Every man's conscience is to be the final arbiter for him how far he is obliged to obey the Pope.
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THE DAWN IN GERMAN
We are glad to announce to you that the German translation of Millennial Dawn Vol. I. is complete. It will be on the press shortly, and the first edition of 1000 copies, cloth bound, will be ready for mailing very soon. Orders may now be sent in; they will be served in order as received.
As the German language requires more words than the English to express the thoughts, this volume will contain over 400 pages. The price will be one dollar. We cannot promise a paper covered 50 ct. edition at present, as there will probably not be a sufficient interest to justify it. It is only by getting out large editions that paper bound books can be made to pay expenses.
We are confident the translation is excellent: it is the work of Bro. Zech, a German by birth, whose education in the language, as well as his growth in the knowledge of the truth, the spirit of which he seems to have drunk into deeply, has well qualified him for the work. We are confident, therefore, that his work is so complete that the German reader can catch the spirit and intent of "The Plan of the Ages." For this blessing to our German brethren, we on their behalf thank God especially, and secondarily we thank Bro. Zech, who in this work has been God's honored instrument.
To the interested readers of the TOWER, let us say: The work is in your hands now; now is your opportunity to engage in the service of the truth and in the service of your fellow-Germans. God made the plan and revealed it in His Word, and is therefore the real Author of the "Plan of the Ages;" the writer of it endeavored to do his part as best he could in the English language, and now Bro. Zech as translator has spent precious months of labor in preparing it for you in German. Now it is your turn to spend your consecrated time and talent in using this which is thus by others made ready for your use. How many of you will prove faithful to so great privileges as are here laid before you? How much sleep will you lose in trying to put the plan into the hands, heads and hearts of others? Probably few of you will lose as much sleep as we are sure Bro. Zech lost in his part of the work. How many will feel it a pleasure to deny themselves some comforts and pleasures, earthly, in order to carry to others the comforts and pleasures mental and heavenly, which a knowledge of God's plan only can give?
The TOWER Publishing Co. promises that as soon as the brethren and sisters shall order 2000 copies of paper bound 50 ct. Dawn in German (or send pledges that they will order as soon as the books are announced as ready) they will get out an edition of 10,000 copies. Now dear friends use your privileges and opportunities faithfully, so that the Master at the reckoning may say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord."
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THE GERMAN TOWER.
The German TOWER has been stopped for some months to permit Bro. Zech's time to go to the preparation of Dawn. That work being now done, the regular issues of the German TOWER were resumed, commencing January, 1888.
As a reward for the patience of the German readers obliged to wait during the preparation of German Dawn, it is proposed that such of them as order cloth bound GERMAN DAWN shall be presented free with the next year's GERMAN TOWER. Therefore such in ordering DAWN should mention the fact that they wish the GERMAN TOWER renewed as per this promise.
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CHAS. H. SPURGEON'S POSITION.
In our December '87 issue we referred to this celebrated minister of London, as having left the Baptist denomination. We were promptly contradicted by some who felt loth to acknowledge the loss to Babylon of so able a man. Fuller reports show that we were entirely correct. Mr. Spurgeon's withdrawal was from the Baptist Denomination--the "Baptist Union."
Many do not know that the "Baptists," "Disciples," "Congregationalists," and some others, are not organized into one body throughout the world, in the same manner as are Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, and E. Methodists, but each congregation maintains the right to control its own affairs and its own faith independently of other congregations. [This is well, but the same principle should extend to each individual in each congregation. Each should be asked if he accepts the Lord by the only name, Saviour, and the Bible as God's divinely inspired communication to man; and beyond this, each should be left to believe all that he can find in God's revelation, each ready to assist and be assisted by the other, to grow in grace and knowledge and in the love of God.] But those independent congregations, imitating the various sects, have formed "Unions" by which the majority of such churches attempt to fix the faith and affairs of the others, much the same as Conferences do for the Methodists, and the Presbyteries and Synods and General Assemblies of the Presbyterians, and the Convocations Councils and generally the hierarchies of the Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches.
We did not say that Mr. Spurgeon withdrew as pastor of the congregation he serves. If they as a people are free from denominational shackles, free from the control of others, and meet to study God's Word and to offer Him worship they are a church in the original form, such as the congregations in the days of the apostles were. And this is just where Mr. Spurgeon and the congregation he ministers to stand: They have withdrawn from the "Baptist Union" and stand independent. For this others blame Brother Spurgeon, while we commend his steps. He does not see all the truth as we see it yet, but now that he is free and has taken a bold stand, if he follows on, he will soon see more and more light--until the perfect day. That we correctly state Mr. Spurgeon will we think be apparent from the following abstract from the Sword and Trowel, a paper which he publishes.
In it he has written: "The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed infidels are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt, and stab at faith." In these remarks Mr. Spurgeon evidently refers to the same class in its many forms so often reproved (`Eph. 5:11`) in the TOWER, who reject the inspiration of the Bible, laugh at the stories of the flood and of Balaam's speaking ass, and Jonah and the fish, etc.; who declare with great show of worldly wisdom that Adam's fall must have been upward, and who, denying the original sin and its penalty, see no reason to believe in a redemption from that fall by the precious blood of Christ, and who consequently deny the ransom, and claim that our Lord was merely a good example, and that the whole world in God's order is being evolved from lower to higher conditions, and that all will finally be saved irrespective of faith and obedience to a "historic Christ." This error, as we have shown, is spreading into all the pulpits and pews of "Christendom" rapidly, being helped along by the false views hitherto held concerning the wages of sin and the character of our Lord's ransom-sacrifice. That Mr. Spurgeon is opposing this same class, is evident from the following quotations from his paper.
He says: "It is only too evident to all who are zealous for God and his truth, that on one side there is a perilous growth of superstition and sacerdotalism, and on the other of unbelief and indifference to vital religion. The substitutionary sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour is lightly esteemed and even repudiated by some prominent teachers--the plenary inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, with other verities of the faith of Christ, are explained away, in many instances."
"A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as, the old faith, with slight improvements. The atonement is scouted,...the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth; and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them 'Brethren' and maintain a confederacy with them.
"The results of this erroneous teaching and perversion of the gospel are apparent; worldliness, sensuality, and luxury... abound, and Christian liberty has become license in the walk and conversation of many of the professed disciples of Christ."
In closing Mr. Spurgeon asks--"What shall we do?" and answers, "We retire at once and distinctly from the 'Baptist Union.'"
To the supposed inquiry whether he would attempt to head a new denomination, he answers, No; and declares [what we declare] that denominations are unnecessary among Independent congregations.
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THE TRUTH IN CHINA.
DEAR SISTER RUSSELL:--The Dawns reached me on the 23d of September, for which many thanks. Three of the books are now in Shanghai. The good and thoroughly orthodox Methodist sister, to whom I gave one, said, "The restitution theology is very interesting, and I am glad you have found such rest and peace in believing it." I am sure she will read the book carefully, and be benefited by it. Another book has gone into a Baptist family. And the third I gave to Rev. Dr. W., who believes in the Millennial coming of Christ, and is, I think, somewhat prepared for Dawn. One book has gone to Ching-chew-fu into the Eng. Bap. Mission. The others I shall send--one to Peking, one to Amoy, one to Tang-chon, etc. The papers also arrived in due time and will soon be scattered over China. The books ordered came by last mail, received two or three days since. Since writing the above, the Concordance and Diaglott came. I cannot thank you enough for the kind letter received at the same time. I am using my Dawn, and the others and the papers are being scattered broadcast over the land. The Rev. Bp. S. has a Dawn. You may be sure I lose no opportunity to tell the glad tidings.
Your sister in Christ, C. B. D.
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OUR PASSOVER ANNIVERSARY.--Sunday night, March 25th next, will be the anniversary of our Lord's last night with the disciples in the flesh. As usual, the church will commemorate it. So many as can meet with us here will be welcomed.
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"THE FATHER HIMSELF LOVETH YOU."
Be still, my soul, Jehovah loveth thee!
Fret not, nor murmur at thy weary lot;
Though dark and lone thy journey seems to be,
Be sure that thou art ne'er by Him forgot:
He ever loves; then trust Him, trust Him still;
Let all thy care be this--the doing of his will.
Thy hand in his, like fondest, happiest child,
Place thou, nor draw it for a moment thence;
Walk thou with Him, a Father reconciled,
Till in his own good time He calls thee hence.
Walk with him now: so shall thy way be bright,
And all thy soul be filled with his most glorious
Take courage, faint not, though the foe be strong;
Christ is thy strength! He fighteth on thy side.
Swift be thy race; remember 'tis not long,
The goal is near; the prize He will provide.
And then from earthly toil thou restest ever,
Never again to toil, or fight, or fear--oh never!
He comes, with his reward; 'tis just at hand;
He comes in glory to his promised throne;
My soul rejoice! ere long thy feet shall stand
Within the City of the blessed One--
Thy perils past, thy heritage secure,
Thy tears all wiped away, thy joy forever sure.
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WHO ARE SONS OF GOD?
Few seem to get a clear idea of the meaning of the words son and father. The word father, signifies producer, generator, life-giver, the word son correspondingly signifying one produced, generated, one who receives life from a father.
Applying these definitions, we find that in a general way Jehovah God might be said to be the father, producer or creator of every living creature, from the crawling worm to the great arch-angel. But a restriction is placed about the word son, by its use in Scripture, which shows us that God uses the expression "sons of God" with reference only to those of his creatures whom he created more or less in his own likeness; i.e., with mental and moral qualities in harmony with his, and capable of understanding his laws and arrangements. This cuts off from the honorable name of sons the lower, the brute creation, but still leaves sons of various natures--angelic sons, human sons, and sons of divine nature.
Angels are called "sons of God" in parable, in `Job 1:6` and `2:1`. They are again represented as "morning stars," i.e., early bright ones, rejoicing together at the creation of this earth, when they as "the sons of God shouted for joy."-- `Job 38:7`. As shown in the TOWER of December '87, those angels which kept not their first estate are referred to as "sons of God" up to the time of their fall into sin.--`Gen. 6:2,4`.
Among men, Adam of course was a son of God, i.e., God's creation. God was his Life-giver, Creator, Producer or Father, and hence he was a "son of God" and is so designated, `Luke 3:38`. Be it noted, however, that none of Adam's children are called "sons of God" down to the time that our Lord Jesus gave himself a ransom for all. Those who, by wilful sin, forfeit and lose the likeness of God, the perfection in which he created them, are reckoned as unworthy of the honorable title of sons of God--as the brute creation which never had and never lost this likeness; and such are to be treated as "natural brute beasts, made to be destroyed." (`2 Pet. 2:12`; `Eccl. 3:18`.) In the case of man (Adam), he was sentenced to death at once, as unworthy of life and the various privileges God had prepared for his sons. Having misused his grand superiority to the beasts, he was no longer worthy of the honors prepared for sons. From the moment of sin onward, Adam was not recognized as a son of God; and if he was fallen and degraded from sonship, it is manifest that he could in turn give life to none better or more worthy of divine sonship than he himself was. And so for four thousand years-- until our Redeemer's coming--there were no sons of God, none whom God would recognize as such, except our Lord and those angels who kept their first estate of purity and sonship. Even Abraham, and Moses, and Elijah, and the prophets, were not called sons of God. "Friend of God" and "faithful servant" were the dearest names then possible (`Heb. 3:5,6`. `Gal. 4:4-7`); because no matter how good their intentions they were all imperfect, fallen from the likeness and liberties of sons of God, and had not yet been redeemed from that great calamity.
Next in order let us consider our Lord Jesus:--
GOD'S ONLY BEGOTTEN SON.
The question at once arises, How can there be more than one son of God, since that one is called the only begotten Son? We answer: both statements are true. God has "many sons," and one "only begotten Son." Our Lord before he became a man, was a spirit being, as "God is a spirit," and angels are spirits; and he was the "first born of every creature," or "born before all creation," as some translate it--the beginning of Jehovah God's creative work.--`Rev. 1:8`; `3:14`.
And since he is both the first and the last, the beginning and ending of Jehovah's direct creative work, it is very evident that he was the ONLY Son of God thus directly begotten of the Father. And since it is clearly stated that "all things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made (`John 1:3`), it becomes the more evident to every reasoning mind that His creation was more directly and specially the Father's work than that of any other creature, or Son of God--man or angel; for though it was the Father's power and vitality that was given to angels, to men, to beasts, and birds, and creeping things, yet with none of these was the begetting a direct work of Jehovah, as in the case of the one Son distinguished forever among the sons of God by the title, "only begotten Son." And though God calls angels sons, mark the pointedness of the apostle's question, and how it points out our Lord's superiority, when he asks, "Unto which of the angels said he at any time, "Thou art my [special] son, this day have I begotten thee.'"--`Heb. 1:5`; `5:5`.
Our Lord did not lose his right to the title "Only Begotten Son," by becoming a man; for the life was not laid down in death, when his nature was changed and he was made flesh. That change was only a transfer of existence from a higher nature to a lower nature, from spiritual nature to human nature; for, or in order to the suffering of death by him as a just man for the unjust; as the corresponding price for Adam's sin-penalty. Even as a man, then, our Lord retained his title "only begotten Son of God." As John says, "We beheld his glory [dignity, perfection], the glory [perfection and grandeur] as of the only begotten of the Father, full of favor and truth."-- `John 1:14`.
But when our Lord in obedience to the Father's purpose would redeem mankind, nothing but his death could accomplish the work. That was the penalty imposed upon Adam and the race which lost life in him--and that he must suffer if he would redeem Adam's life (and ours lost in him); so then the "Only Begotten" died, ceased to be, and remained so until the third day. Now, question: Did our Lord cease to be the only begotten Son of God when he laid down his life a ransom for many? Yes, truly. When his existence terminated in death the only begotten Son had ceased to exist--was dead. But in his resurrection, his re-creation, he was again the only begotten Son of God, for no agency was called into service to accomplish his resurrection, but, as when first created, he was the direct workmanship of Jehovah, who so arranged that not even this distinctive title and honor of "only begotten" should be lost by his obedient Son. Hence no agency of man, nor even of the angel Gabriel, was permitted in the work of our Lord's resurrection: no agencies great or small were employed, but it is written "Whom God hath raised from the dead"--"God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."--`Acts 2:24`; `3:15`; `4:10`; `Rom. 4:24`; `6:4`; `8:11`; `1 Cor. 6:14`; `15:15`; `Col. 2:12`; `1 Thes. 1:10`; `1 Pet. 1:21`. And since his resurrection was a re-creation of the same being or individuality first created, it can still be said of him that he is the first and the last, the beginning and the ending of the creation of God, the Only Begotten of the Father.--See `Rev. 1:18`.
POWER TO BECOME SONS OF GOD.
Coming now to the Gospel age, consider the import of the words, "To as many as received him, to them gave he power [i.e., liberty] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name," (`John 1:12`) and "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." --`1 John 3:2`.
As already noted, all the human race from Adam down came under condemnation through his wilful sin (`1 Tim. 2:14`), and all lost recognition as the sons of God, as well as the likeness because of which they had been so recognized above the brute creation. Indeed since their minds ceased to be godly, and became carnal and devilish, they might be said to have been reconstructed by the tyrant Sin to bear much of the image of God's adversary; and hence they might in this sinful state be called sons of the devil, bearing his moral likeness. And so our Lord declared even to the Jews, "Ye must be born again"--"Ye are of your father the devil." (`John 8:44`.) And since the same apostle also records, (`1 John 5:19`) that "The whole world lieth in wickedness," it is evident that the standing of all in God's sight is that of children of the devil.
The question then arises, Since only those possessing the perfect likeness of God, are worthy to be called sons of God, and since God himself refuses to call any others by that honorable title, how can we be called "sons of God" who are confessedly imperfect, and who at most bear but a slight likeness to the holy God? The answer is, that our Lord Jesus gave power or liberty to become sons of God, --"to them that believe on his name." Mark well, he did not make us sons, but simply gave us the liberty or privilege to become sons. It follows then, that the patriarch and prophets of the preceding four thousand years could not become sons, because they were not given that privilege or liberty.
What did our Lord do for us to secure us this great boon, this liberty or privilege? Something must have been done, for Jehovah changes not (`Mal. 3:6`.) He did not once declare Adam and his children cut off from sonship and subject to destruction in death, as brute beasts, and then change that decree. Nor could, nor would our Lord Jesus set aside the divine decision to reinstate the sinners to the dignity of sons and to worthiness of life. No; he came not to oppose the Father's will, but to obey it. "I delight to do thy will, O God," was the sentiment expressed in his every act and word. "Not my will but thine be done," was his constant prayer. Hence we say, he must have done something for us, by which he lifted from us the embargo of sin, to give us liberty to again become sons of God. What did he do for us?
Ah yes! he did a great work for us; he gave himself a ransom for us, he redeemed
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us from all iniquity and from all the condemnation and loss attaching to it. Giving thus the price of Adam's guilt he thereby purchased the dead and dying race, with full right to do what he wills to them and for them. He wills to give during this Gospel age, liberty to become sons of God to all that believe on his name. His name was called Jesus, which signifies Saviour or Liberator.--(`Matt. 1:21`.) "Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins." Hence we see that it is to them that receive him in the sense of believing in him as their Saviour or Liberator, that he gives now the liberty of becoming sons of God--none others. Believing that such a person lived at such a time is not the kind of belief which brings the liberty: believing that he was a fine man who taught many excellent precepts, is not the kind of belief necessary: believing that he set a good example, and that all should try to follow it as best they can, is not the belief demanded here: No, it is a different belief, a belief in and recognition of his name Saviour: the recognition and acceptance of him as the one who saves his people from their sins. No one who rejects the Bible account of the fall and condemnation of all in Adam, and the utter loss of sonship and all its privileges (life, etc.), can possibly receive and "believe" in this SAVIOUR or Liberator, who by redeeming them grants them liberty or privilege to become sons of God.
But is it only to "believers" in his name that our Lord grants this privilege? Only these; belief in no other person will do, nor will the acceptance of our Lord by any other name than the one which acknowledges his ransom-sacrifice avail-- he must be recognized as Saviour, and not merely as Lord and Guide. He saves his people from their sins that are past as well as teaches and guides them to abhor and avoid sin for the future.
Next let us examine the liberty which proper believers obtain through the Saviour. What does the expression liberty signify as here used? It simply means that our Saviour, having paid the penalty of Adam's sin, offers to all who accept of his finished work, and who desire to return to the likeness of God and to sonship, a clear receipt of exoneration from the sin which brought condemnation upon all six thousand years ago, and that he will throw about such the robe of his own righteousness to cover all their present imperfections and unavoidable weaknesses, so that they may at once go to God and thus find acceptance and grace to help, until having proved by their obedience in the present life, the sincerity of their consecration to God's will and service, they shall ultimately be delivered from all the present weaknesses into the grand, perfect spiritual bodies like unto our Lord's. This is the promise to such overcomers, who thus will be received into final and complete
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sonship, as heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour.
This is what the apostle means when he says: "Beloved now are we the sons of God--and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like him." The "we" here does not refer to the world of mankind, but to the saints, the truly consecrated, who believe in the only name [Jesus--Saviour] whereby we must be saved. As already shown God really has no imperfect sons, such as we now are, hence in the full sense we will not be sons until in the end of this age, the selection and trial of these probationary sons being complete, they shall be received to the full perfect likeness of God--like unto their Redeemer and King. But now we may reckon ourselves Sons of God by faith. Grasping by faith the anticipated end of our high calling, we may and do speak of the things which are not yet fully accomplished, as though they were completed. In saying, Now are we the sons of God, and grasping it as a reality, we fasten to it by the threefold cord of faith, the three parts of which are first, faith in the perfect sacrifice, and finished work of him who gave us liberty or privilege to become sons; second, faith or confidence in promises made us of grace to help us overcome and quench all the fiery darts of our opponents; third, faith or confidence in our consciousness that our consecration is full, complete, and that our desire is to know and do the Father's will under any and all conditions. This threefold cord of faith, firmly fastened upon our promised inheritance and sonship, to be verified to us when we are tried and made perfect, will indeed be "an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast," which will enable us to say and feel that even now (by faith) we are the Sons of God, though not yet clothed upon with our perfect bodies.
WILL LIBERTY TO BECOME SONS OF GOD BE GIVEN TO ALL MEN?
Do not answer this question hastily-- give it due consideration. At first you may be inclined to differ from our view when we answer that it will not. To us it seems clear that this liberty is connected with the special high-calling of this Gospel age, and ceases with it.
Call to mind again what we saw above to be the meaning of the words father and son: father--life-giver or creator; son--offspring, one who receives life from a father. Now consider man as represented in Adam. At first he was God's son, but afterward because of sin he forfeited all, and ceased to be, as God's son. Now if brought back to life and perfection, whoever is his life-giver will be his father. Since man's life was forfeited totally, it follows that his resurrection will virtually be his re-creation, and he who re-creates will be the father of the re-created being, in the same sense that Jehovah God was Father to the being destroyed by sin.
While all things which our Lord Jesus did, were done according to the will and plan of the Father, yet the Scriptures are particular to keep separate the work of Christ Jesus in man's redemption. Our Lord Jesus "bought" the world; he gave the "corresponding price" for all; and the earth and all belonging thereto are called his "purchased possession." (`Eph. 1:14`.) Having thus become possessed of sin-wrecked, dead humanity, it is the purchaser's privilege and design to begin the work of restoring all things--of giving life to the dead world, which he purchased eighteen hundred years ago. He delays the commencement of this life-giving work until the "little flock" to whom he gives liberty to become sons of God is complete. "He is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN," and they shall be his joint-heirs in the purchased possession, and his co-workers in restoring the redeemed race to life.
Since it is from death that man is saved, the Saviour is evidently the life-giver. In fact the Syriac MS. of the New Testament gives the name LIFE-GIVER in every instance where we have the name Saviour in our common translation. The special work of the Millennial age will be to awaken the dead, and by gradual process give to them the life secured for them by their Redeemer as they shall believe and accept of it upon the conditions (obedience, etc.) which the Life-giver, as judge of all, shall require. This being the case, it must be evident to all that (separating the works of the Father and the Son-- `John 5:17`,) the life-privileges which come to the world, come directly from the Son--our Lord Jesus: He BOUGHT them with his own precious blood, and He it is that will restore all who will comply with the conditions, to full perfect LIFE at His appearing and kingdom of a thousand years. He therefore is the one and only direct life-giver to whom the world must look; and as life-giver is the true meaning of father, He is properly declared in prophecy to be to mankind "The everlasting Father," as well as the "Prince of Peace" and the "Mighty God" [ruler].
Hence it is, that though Abraham and David, etc., are spoken of as fathers of Jesus,--"of whom according to the flesh Christ came"--yet it is also declared that "Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children," (`Psa. 45:16`,) meaning, instead of the fathers continuing as such, they shall, by the fact that our Lord becomes their LIFE-GIVER in resurrecting them, thus become his children--his sons.
As heretofore shown, the process of life-giving while it will begin with the awakening from the tomb, the giving of a measure of life such probably as men now generally possess, (as illustrated in the awakening of Lazarus from the tomb,) and such only as "obey that prophet," will reach completeness, in full restoration to all that was lost--human perfection--LIFE in the full sense of the word. That only such as "hear [obey] shall live" in this perfect sense of attaining life, see `John 5:25`. All others awakened and granted a knowledge and full opportunity of gaining this perfect and lasting life, who will reject it by rejecting its conditions,--conformity to God's perfect law--will be "cut off" in the second death. They will not become sons of Christ, because of refusal under full opportunity to receive his image. Those refusing the likeness of Christ or the proffered terms of the age of Restitution will be treated as Jehovah treated Adam when he chose disobedience; only, that the experience being greater there will be no preparation for another redemption. Such as die the second death are not sons as above shown, but as those who having the opportunity yet despise the likeness of the Life-giver they will be treated "as brute beasts--destroyed."--`2 Pet. 2:12`; `Eccls. 3:18-20`.
The question may occur to some, How comes it that our Lord who redeems or purchases all, is not the LIFE-GIVER to the "little flock" of the Gospel age as well as to the world in general?--Where and how comes the distinction between us as the "Sons of God" and "brethren" of Christ, and the world as children of Christ?
We answer: He who redeemed all, did not actually give or restore to us the perfect human life as he will to the world in the next age, but instead he threw over us the mantle of his merit, of his imputed
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righteousness, and thus introduces us directly to the Father, to be begotten BY HIM as "new creatures," "partakers of the divine nature" (not restored human nature, grand as that will be), and joint-heirs with our Lord and Redeemer.
The liberty [freedom from condemnation, --otherwise known as justification through his blood] which our Redeemer grants us is FREE; we can do nothing to purchase or merit it; it must be accepted as a free gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, or not at all. But there the free part stops. Having obtained the privilege or liberty to become Sons of God, the matter thereafter rests with us, and to profit by this great privilege or liberty, we must work out our salvation, with fear and trembling. Appreciating the grandeur of the privilege put within our grasp, we must act soberly, wisely, earnestly, not as them who idly play and beat the air, but as true soldiers we must fight a good fight. We must overcome our former master, Sin; and let not Sin reign and rule in us, but throwing all our (at most) little influence on the side of our new Captain, Leader, and Fore-runner Christ Jesus, we must overcome the world, that with him we may be sons of God without rebuke in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, among whom we are to shine as lights. (`Phil. 2:15`) If thus we prove our earnestness, and love and zeal for God and his truth, we shall be accounted "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." (`Col. 1:12`.) Faithfulness in our warfare implies that we will be continually losing mental and moral likeness to the world, and be more and more conformed to the image of God's dear Son, who is a perfect likeness for us to copy after.--`Rom. 8:29`; `1 Pet. 2:21`.
But if the liberty or privilege granted to us of becoming sons of God consisted only of a covering of the sins that are past, if it in no way continued to cover our imperfections, it would avail us nothing; for cleansed in the morning and presented to the Father as candidates for sonship, we would through inherited weaknesses and imperfections be defiled and worthy of condemnation again before night; hence, as the apostle declares, it would be a fearful thing for us in our present condition to have to deal direct with the perfect laws of the Father; and we are glad that he has graciously provided that we shall have our standing before him as yet, not as individuals, but as body members of the perfect one whose robe of righteousness covers fully our every deformity and weakness, whose sacrifice made full atonement for every result of inherited depravity to which our shattered depraved "earthen vessels" are subject.
So then we are safe so long as we abide in him--under the cover of his merit; while in him, we are "accepted in the beloved" by the Father, as sons. But having been admitted to this privilege, having tasted that the Lord is gracious, having learned the necessity of abiding in him, we must do the abiding--we must not ignore the precious blood through the merit of which this access into sonship and joint-heirship was obtained; we must not ignore our Redeemer, and attempt to offer our own imperfect works as meritorious and acceptable (See the type of this `Lev. 10:1-4`. `Num. 3:3,4`), else we shall come to nought. If any branch abide not in the vine it is cast forth, and destroyed. (`John 15:5,6`.) So then the liberty which our Lord grants to all who come unto the Father by him and in him, (`John 14:6`.) is full and complete; and the assistance rendered such as draw nigh to God with their whole heart is sufficient, that they may come off conquerors through [in] him who loved them and gave himself for them. This sufficiency of grace to help in every time of need is supplied mainly through God's Word, the exceeding great and precious promises of which are given us that thereby we may overcome self and the world, and become partakers of the divine nature.--`2 Pet. 1:4`.
It is thus that the Father deals with those to whom, through the Son, liberty to become sons is now granted, viz., by the word of his grace--the Scriptures. Granted the privilege, or liberty, or ability, to do so through their Redeemer's merit, these are then "begotten by the word of truth that they should become a kind of first fruits of God's creatures." --`James 1:18`.
The apostle Peter clearly tells the whole story saying: "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...hath begotten us...to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God [his exceeding great and precious promises and providences upon which we lay hold] through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time" [--in the end of this age when the body, the "Royal Priesthood," the little flock of Sons of the "divine nature" shall be completed and glorified.] "Wherein ye rejoice greatly though now for a season if need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith...might be found unto [or result in] praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ...Of which [special] salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [peculiar favor] that should come unto you."-- `1 Pet. 1:2-10`.
Since the overcomers of the Gospel age --those who use their ransomed privilege or liberty and become sons of God on the divine plane of sonship--are to be so closely identified with their Lord and Head Christ Jesus, as to be called "members of his body," his "bride" and his joint-heirs, it is evident that they with him, and by virtue of the ransom which he gave, are to be members in particular of that great Prophet and Life-giver Christ, and will share in the work of life-giving, restoring the dead and dying world to perfection; hence the term Everlasting Father, as well as every other title of the Head, is to be shared by his joint-heirs and co-workers. In harmony with this, note the Apostle's words in `Heb. 11:39-40`. Here speaking of even the overcomers of the past he contrasts their position [sons of Christ] with our position as sons of God in Christ saying: These all, having obtained a good [record] through faith received not the promise [made to them], God having provided some BETTER THING FOR US, that they without us should not be made perfect."--`Heb. 11:40`.
Since in God's plan they are to be the children of Christ instead of the fathers, it follows that they could not get their life--be perfected--until the Christ (head and body) their Everlasting Father (or father of their everlasting life) shall first be made perfect on the higher plane --Sons of God of the divine nature.
Then, dearly beloved, appreciate more fully than ever before your privilege as a Son of God and understand the Apostle's words, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access
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(by faith) in to THIS GRACE [special favor] wherein we stand,--rejoicing in hope of the glory of God" [as sons, as joint-heirs with our Redeemer in his great work of reconciling the world, whom he has already redeemed.] And from this standpoint of hope and grand anticipation, knowing that we must be tested and tried, "we glory in tribulations also," knowing that it is by such means, with his promises, that the Father would develop in us patience, experience, and hope, as well as the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit of the truth imparted to us from the truth.--See `Rom. 5:1-5`.
Be strong then, acquit yourselves like earnest, sober men, receiving now by faith (trust) the grace [special favor] to be brought unto you at the coming of our Lord Jesus, for HE that raised up Christ from the dead will raise up US also, by Jesus who will present us before him, unblamable and unreprovable in love.--See `2 Cor. 4:14-18`.
LIBERTY OF THE SONS OF GOD.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the SONS OF GOD." "Because the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption [death and dying] into the glorious liberty of the children of God."--`Rom. 8:2`.
Though the race in general will not become sons of God, it is here expressly shown that they may obtain, through the Sons of God, the liberty or freedom from death, pain, etc., the common heritage of all sons of God. The children of the Christ--all who receive the redemption life--will stand as dear and as close to the Father Jehovah, as sons, even as in the earthly family the grandsons are as dearly loved and as kindly treated. And they shall be treated as sons, having full release from all corruption and from all condemnation. But here again it is shown that "they without US [the sons and heirs] cannot be made perfect;" they cannot receive the life provided for them until all the sons of God are selected and glorified. "The manifestation of the Sons of God" is therefore the great event for which the whole creation waits and hopes and groans, even though in ignorance their hopes and expectations of the future are not clear and fixed, but only a vague longing for "a golden age" a "good time coming by and by."
ONLY THE CONSECRATED ARE SONS.
The liberty to become Sons of God not only did not extend to those men who lived before the Redeemer came and purchased the world, but it has extended to only a comparatively few during this Gospel age; the great mass of mankind even in the present day know nothing about our Lord Jesus, and how could they believe on him "of whom they have not
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heard?" (`Rom. 10:14`.) And of those who have even heard that there was such a person, how few comparatively believe in or recognize the meaning of his name Saviour; yet none but these have even the liberty or privilege of becoming Sons of God.
Look again, and see among the comparatively few, even of those who do recognize him as the Redeemer, the Saviour, and who therefore were all granted this privilege, liberty, favor, and note how few have availed themselves of the great privilege,--how few have become Sons of God. To see clearly just what class of believers constitutes the Sons of God, let us now examine the process by which those who "believed in his name" were granted and accepted the proffered liberty and became Sons of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ their Lord.
We have said that all such are covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness imputed to them, because of which they find acceptance with the Father. But to whom does the Lord give his robe for this purpose? Not to all believers; for though all have the liberty to wear the robe and obtain "access," all do not choose to use it by fulfilling the conditions. The robes are provided for the BODY OF CHRIST, and to come under those robes we must get into that consecrated company, into that select class, known as those whose names are written in the book of life--and as branches in the Vine. This is the class to which the Master said, "Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in me...If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch." To the same class the apostle John wrote, "Abide in him." The apostle Paul wrote that God "hath chosen us in him" and exhorts "so walk ye in him"--"rooted and built up in him," for "ye are complete in him." And of his own aims he says, "That I may win Christ and [abiding in him to the end] be found in him" complete at last.--See `John 15:4,6`; `1 Cor. 8:6`; `2 Cor. 5:21`; `Eph. 1:4`; `Phil. 3:9`; `Col. 2:6,7,9`; `1 John 2:5,6,28`.
The way in which we get into Christ,-- counted in as members of his body, and therefore under the robes of his righteousness, --is fully explained by the Apostle in `Rom. 6:3-5`. He there shows that such members are immersed or buried into Christ, i.e., their wills, plans, etc., are completely buried; such having thereafter no will of their own; instead, the will of Christ reigns in and rules over them, controlling their acts, and words, and looks and thoughts. Being dead to self, to their own wills, plans, etc., for them to live is for Christ to live; and in them Christ is still present in the flesh, they being his representatives before men. (`Phil. 1:21`.) These share the reproaches of Jesus their Head and Lord now and have fellowship as members of his body, in the sufferings of Christ; and in due time, if they continue faithful unto the end, they are promised membership in the church or body to be glorified--joint-heirship in the glory and dominion and work of their Lord when the sufferings are past.-- `Rom. 8:17`.
These are represented in the Jewish types by the priesthood and its head, the High-Priest. The high-priest of our profession, or order, is Jesus; and all the under priests together with him constitute the Royal Priesthood, as Peter says. As the under priests were all represented in the person of the High Priest, by his head and members, so in our priesthood; while we are each severally priests, we are all represented in our High Priest as body members in particular. (`1 Cor. 12:27`.) Our Lord the head of the body is not covered with any covering, for he was perfect; "in him was no sin;" but we all need the covering of his white robes of justification, else we never could have found access into the "holies" and "into this grace wherein we stand rejoicing in hope of the glory of God" soon to be revealed in us as Sons and heirs-- joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord.
So then we see that only those who after believing in the only name, Saviour, followed on and consecrated themselves, took up the cross and sufferings of Christ and shared them,--only such were accepting of the liberty to become Sons; and only such coming into his "body" and under his robes are presented before the Father, or accepted as Sons. In these only, can we see a begetting of the truth and a desire to be conformed to the image of God's only begotten Son.
But are not all believers under Christ's robes? even those who do not consecrate themselves? No; only the consecrated. In fact the others have no need for those presentation robes [robes in which to be acceptably presented to the Father as candidates for Sonship and heirship] because they do not wish to occupy the positions of sons, after they find that its distinguishing features in the present time are trials and sufferings, etc., in the "narrow way." (`Heb. 12:6`.) To be a Son implies both special favor and special endurance, and since the only benefit of the "robe" consists in making the wearers presentable to the Father, and since these do not desire to thus present themselves living sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable [as sons and heirs] through [in] Jesus Christ, it is manifest that to cover such with a robe would be useless.
The question then occurs: Do believers in Christ who have not consecrated, but merely practiced benevolence and moral reforms,--who endeavor to live moderately, soberly, honestly, truthfully, etc., influenced to such a life by their faith in Scripture and in our Lord,--have these no blessing as a result of their faith, etc.? We answer, Yes; every one who lives moderately, morally and temperately, has a reward daily and hourly,--in his health and true pleasure; and his every deed of kindness and generosity done from unselfish motives always brings a blessing to the doer in the present life, and is sure of a suitable recognition by the Master in the Kingdom, after the resurrection and exaltation of the "Body" class. (See `Luke 14:14`.) These too may have quite a measure of joy and peace through believing in the Saviour. They can see in Christ, dimly the Redeemer and realize (even though vaguely) that he is the one through whom God has arranged to save all who shall be accounted worthy of the gift of life. Thus all believers have much advantage over the ignorant and blindfolded even in the present life; and present progress in righteous living will be a step of progress beneficial to such in the "times of restitution" under the Kingdom soon to be set up in power.
So then all who have consecrated, and only they, have the "robe" which assures to them access to God and to sonship. Question--Will all the consecrated become sons of God? Many have consecrated (i.e., resolved on complete submission to the will of Christ at any cost) who do not fulfil their consecration, who do not follow the Lamb through evil as well as good report, but instead are drawn away into half-hearted service, dividing their services between God and Mammon. Only a "little flock" of "overcomers" are represented as attaining to joint-heirship with Christ their head, only such constitute his "body" as finally glorified. Now the question is concerning the great number who do not fully and freely fulfill their covenant--will they be sons of God?
In our opinion, yes; their heart intentions were good, and their "robe" was good, and if they do not cast away the robe of Christ's righteousness and deny his name Saviour, and do not wilfully violate their covenant, they stand in the position mentioned by the apostle: their works shall suffer loss, but themselves shall be saved so as by fire [severe discipline destroying what such do not sacrifice]. Such are building on the rock, though it be with wood, hay and stubble, and though they will suffer the great loss of the prize--the kingdom and the joint-heirship with Christ--yet they themselves, under the Master's discipline, will be saved, brought to perfection, because their hearts were longing for better things even when they fainted by the way, and got their "robes" contaminated with the affairs of this world. They did not keep their garments unspotted from the world, and hence they are represented as washing away such defilements of their "robe" in the Lamb's merit, but with great tribulation to themselves. We read of this "great multitude" that they came up "through great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." "Therefore are they before the throne and serve." (`Rev. 7:15`.) They suffered great loss by reason of their failure to go forward boldly in self-sacrifice for the Lord and his truth --the loss of the crown, and the loss of positions in the throne, and suffered more tribulation than if they had been faithful, but holding to their "robes" they were finally brought off victors of the second grade with palms of victory, though not with the crowns of glory to which they were invited, and to obtain which their robes gave them liberty or privilege.
Beloved, "Abide in Him;" let the mind of Christ dwell in you richly, let his spirit control your mortal bodies and present them living sacrifices, partakers of his sufferings and death, that you may be glorified with him also in due time and crowned sons of glory.
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"For they have begotten strange children." --`Hosea 5:7`.
"They are not all Israelites that are of Israel." --`Rom. 9:6`.
Since the true "church of the first born whose names are written in heaven," are all of this consecrated class, begotten by the word of truth, sons of God possessing the "mind of Christ," it follows that many of the nominal church are what might well be called "strange children," begotten not of the truth, but begotten of error; partaking not of the spirit or mind of Christ our head, but of the spirit or disposition of the world. These, God does not acknowledge as his sons. Many of them are well meaning, i.e., honest and kind, lovers of peace and plenty more than lovers of the truth with the tribulations, and persecutions, and self denials, which faithfulness to the truth always brings, things which every son of God begotten of the spirit of the truth appreciates as the foretold witnesses of the spirit to their faithfulness. (`2 Tim. 3:12`.) These are as really the "children of this world" as were the popular religionists of the nominal typical church, Israel after the flesh. In the next age such may become children of Christ by faith, and obedience to his just requirements, but they do not become "Sons of God" now, because of one of two reasons: either because, being blinded by the delusions of the god of this world they cannot discern even fundamental truths, or else because though seeing the fundamentals they do not appreciate the privilege or liberty afforded them of becoming sons, preferring rather lives of ease to lives of self-sacrifice with Christ, preferring the pleasures and ambitions of the present world (age) to what they can see of the honor and glory promised to those who shall become sons.
As the true sons, begotten of the truth,
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are the "wheat" described in our Lord's parable, so those nominal children of God, "strange children," developed by fear and error and by false ideas and theories, are the "tares," and the "field is the world" which makes no profession of Christ, containing elements which in the next age under the rule of the great Master and King will be accepted and used of him, but which at present untilled brings forth noxious weeds.
In the time of separation (the "harvest") the wheat and tares so long permitted to grow together are to be separated. The "tares," which constitute the majority in the nominal church or kingdom, will be separated from the true sons of God, the consecrated, who as joint-heirs with their Lord of the kingdom, will be established, "set up" in power and great glory. The "tares" on the contrary will be consumed as "tares" (as imitations of the true) and will be resolved into the elements of the field again. "He that hath an ear to hear let him hear!" The gathering together of the elect to receive the kingdom is in progress--they are being gathered, not into one place, but into one condition of heart and mind. Those who love the friendship and companionship and communion of the worldly minded, tares, shall suffer loss, and have their portion with them, partaking of their "plagues" in the trouble already beginning. Think not that the "harvest" time is a time of peace and quiet. Nay! the Jewish harvest proves to the contrary that it is a time of commotion and unsettling, a time for breaking up of old associations, for bundling tighter the bundles of the tare classes, and for the gathering of the true wheat into the barn. All this is a part of the test put upon the true wheat, to prove the "overcomers."
For the joy and refreshment of such, let us suggest here a Bible reading, pointing out our high calling now, our acceptance in the Beloved, our final exaltation and joint-heirship with him, and our glorious work of blessing the world in the coming age. These promises are indeed a great power of God unto salvation to all them that believe and obey them.
Take your Emphatic Diaglott and read-- `Col. 1:9 to 28`; next read `1 Pet. 1:2 to 23`; next `Eph. 1:3 to 14` and finally, `Acts 20:32`.
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HELL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
In the New Testament, written in Greek, hades corresponds exactly to the Hebrew word sheol. As proof see the quotations by the Apostles from the Hebrew, in which they render it hades. For instance `Acts 2:27`--"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hades," is a quotation of `Psa. 16:10` "Thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol." And `1 Cor. 13:55`--"Death is swallowed up in victory. "O death, where is thy sting? O hades [grave], where is thy victory?" is an allusion to `Isa. 25:8`--"He will swallow up death in victory," and `Hos. 13:14`--"O death, I will be thy plagues: O sheol, I will be thy destruction."
HELL IN THE FOLLOWING CASES IS FROM THE GREEK WORD, HADES.
`Matt. 11:23`.--"And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell."--`Luke 10:15`-- "Shalt be thrust down to hell." [In privileges, etc., the city was highly favored, or figuratively, exalted to heaven, but because of misuse of God's favors would be debased, or figuratively, cast down to hades, overthrown, destroyed. It is so thoroughly buried in oblivion that even the site where it stood is a matter of dispute. Capernaum is certainly destroyed, thrust down to hades.]
`Luke 16:23`.--"In hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments."--A parabolic figure: See article--"The Rich Man and Lazarus" in January TOWER.
`Rev. 6:8`.--"And behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. [Symbol for destruction or the grave.]
`Matt. 16:18`.--"Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." [Here the tomb is represented as a great prison with strong doors. The Lord's assurance is that though his church may seem to be forever locked up in the tomb, yet its strong gates will not hold the church when the due time shall come and her Lord shall break the bars and set at liberty the captives by his resurrection power, the result of the ransom which he gave once for all. Compare `Luke 4:18`, `Isa. 61:1`.]
CHRIST IN HELL [HADES] AND RESURRECTED FROM HELL. `ACTS 2:1,14,22`.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come...Peter...lifted up his voice and said...Ye men of Israel, hear these words:--Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you,...being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ["He was delivered for our offenses"] ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains [or bands] of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it [for the Word of Jehovah had previously declared his resurrection, as saith the prophet David]; for David speaketh concerning him [personating, or speaking for him], 'I [Christ] foresaw the Lord [Jehovah] always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not LEAVE my soul in hell [hades] neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thou [Jehovah] hast made known to me [Christ] the ways of life" [thy plan]. Here our Lord, as personified by the prophet David, expresses his faith in Jehovah's promise of a resurrection, and in the full and glorious accomplishment of Jehovah's plan through him, and rejoices in the prospect.
Peter then proceeds saying--"Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us unto this day [so that this prophecy could not have referred to himself personally; for his soul was left in hell, [hades,] and his flesh did see corruption]: Therefore, being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before [prophetically] spake of the resurrection [of Christ out of hell--hades--to which he must go for our offences] that his soul was NOT LEFT in hell, [hades--the death state] neither his flesh did see corruption." Thus Peter presents a strong logical argument based on the words of the prophet David showing first, that Christ who was delivered by God for our offences, went to hell, the grave, the condition of death, destruction (`Psa. 16:10`); and secondly, that according to promise he had been delivered from hell, the grave, death, destruction, BY A RESURRECTION--a raising up to life, created again, the same identical being, yet more glorious and exalted, even to the express image of the Father's person. (`Heb. 1:3`) And now "this same Jesus" (`Acts 2:36`) in his subsequent revelation to the church, declares--
`Rev. 1:18`--"I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore. Amen: and have the keys of hell [hades, the grave] and of death." Amen! Amen! our hearts respond; for in his resurrection we see the glorious outcome of the whole plan of Jehovah to be accomplished through the power of the resurrected one who now holds the keys of hell and of death, and in due time will release all the prisoners--"prisoners of hope" therefore. --`Zech. 9:12`. No craft or cunning can by any possible device wrest these scriptures entire and pervert them to the support of that monstrous and blasphemous papal tradition of eternal torment. Had that been our penalty, Christ, to be our vicarious sacrifice, must still and to all eternity endure it, which is not the case as these scriptures affirm. But death was our penalty and "he died for our sins" and "also for the sins of the whole world." `Rev. 20:13,14` --"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: And they were judged, every man, according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire: this is the second death." The lake of fire is the symbol of final and everlasting destruction. See TOWER Oct. '86. The utter destruction of everything cast into it, is implied. "Death and the grave cast into it" signifies in the language of symbols,--the utter destruction of Adamic death, hence it signifies the resurrection of all from the death penalty as we now know it, which passed upon all through Adam, but from which all men were redeemed by Christ. (`Rom. 5:12,17,19`.)
The texts containing the Greek word gehenna, will be examined in our next issue.
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SPIRITUALISM, RITUALISM, THEOSOPHY.
All this is hard to say, for one who prefers the charity which covers a multitude of faults to the criticism which lays them bare. And in dwelling on this subject we are not insensible to the perversions of another kind which have crept into our non-liturgical bodies. For, so far as we know, the liturgical churches, have not fallen into the cooking stove apostasy, which is turning so many of our church basements into a place of feasting; nor have they been ensnared with the entertainment heresy, which sets up all sorts of shows and exhibitions for amusing the unchurched masses into an interest in the gospel. We deplore these things and here and now lift our warning against them as another device of the enemy for corrupting and enervating the church of God.
But while considering ourselves lest we also be tempted we must none the less warn our neighbors against the fatal infatuation of ritualism. We take the Trinity church catechism of Dr. Dix and find it streaked through and through with the tinge of the scarlet woman--baptismal regeneration, eucharistic sacrifice, apostolic succession, prayer for the dead, intercession of departed souls, when we find its eminent author so enamored of the Papacy that he draws away from all Protestant bodies and embraces her, declaring that the three chief branches of the holy Catholic church are the church at Rome, the Greek church, and the Anglican church, and that the body thus formed is the true church catholic "because she endures throughout all the ages, teaches all nations, and maintains all truth." When we find Protestant ecclesiastics so smitten with what reformers used to call "the trinkets of anti-Christ," as to allow themselves little by little to be reinvested with the cast-off clothing of Babylon Papacy, so that a recent writer describes the Bishop of Lincoln as "adorned with mitre and cloth of gold, his orpheys so lavishly decorated with amethysts, pearls, topazes and chrysolites set in silver as fairly to dazzle the beholder;" when we see all these we are moved to repeat with solemn earnestness the warning of Bradford, the Smithfield martyr, "O England, beware of anti-Christ; take heed that he doth not fool thee."
Theosophy, is the latest religion of transcendentalists. In it the attenuated unbelief of our times is seeking to find relief from the ennui of denial. How to describe that which takes for itself the name of "Occultism;" how to give an idea of doctrines which claim to be hidden from all but the initiated we do not know. It is enough to say that substantially it is Buddhism seeking conquests in Christian lands; "the light of Asia," offering itself to those who have been turned away from "the light of Christ." It has its circles in many of our great cities, where its occult philosophy is diligently studied; though its following is small compared with that of spiritualism, it being the religion of the literary elite, as the other is of common people. If we question it in regard to its doctrines, it tells us that they are the same as those of "the sacred mysteries of antiquity." It inculcates a very attenuated philosophy of evolution; it teaches the pre-existence and the transmigration of souls, and instructs its disciples how by a rigid asceticism they may cultivate what is called "the intuitioned memory" by which they can enter into profound recollection of what they knew in far distant ages. In a couplet which it is fond of repeating, it declares that--
Descending spirits have conversed with man
And told him secrets of the world unknown.
And those words give the most remarkable hint of its origin. For its creed is "the doctrines of demons" from beginning to end. No personal devil, that which is mystically called the Devil being but the negative and opposite of God. No atonement except man's "unification" with himself; no forgiveness of sin, souls being required to wear away their guilt by self-expiation, miracles, mysteries, ultimate deification--these are specimen articles of the delusive creed. Its whole character and contents so far as we can comprehend them as yet is another phase of Satanic delusion. Now if we compare these three systems, counting ritualism as incipient Popery, we find them agreeing remarkably to fill up the outlines of the predicted apostasy. The "forbidding to marry" realized in the celibacy of Romanism, the enforced continence of theosophy and the anti-marriage doctrines of spiritualism; the "commanding to abstain from meat" appearing in the superstitious fasts of ritualism, and the rigid abstinence from flesh enjoined on the initials of esoteric Buddhism; the doctrines of demons manifested in the magic idolatry which ritualism substitutes for the chaste and simple doctrines of the ordinances of Christ, and which in many particulars hold a common ancestry with those of theosophy and spiritualism, and the fantastic miracle-working which characterizes them all. All three of these delusions give a practical denial of Christ's second advent--that doctrine at which demons fear and tremble--spiritualism and theosophy declaring that in them the promised Epiphany of Christ is taking
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place; while ritualism by its doctrine of transubstantiation makes the communion
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declare the "real presence of Christ" in flesh and blood, when the Lord ordained it to declare his real absence "till he come"--I mean, of course, bodily absence.
What now is the prophetic significance of all that we have said? Thus it seems to me, that according to the predictions of Scripture we are witnessing an irruption of evil spirits who are again working powerfully along their favorite lines--ritualism, superstition and "philosophy."
We hear much said about infidelity and communism "heading up" in a personal anti-Christ. Believing as I do, that anti-Christ came long ago, and that he was crowned a few years since in St. Peter's at Rome as the deified man infallible and supreme, I see in the present aspect of affairs his final dodging forth, rather than his ultimate heading up. As in the case of Christ, so in the case of "the man of sin," the head is revealed first, and the body gathered throughout the generations grows up in all things into him who is the Lord. For the career of anti-Christ, the exact parody and evil counterpart of that of Christ, if you say "the anti-Christ must be an individual as certain as Christ is," I remind you that the word Christ does not always stand for a single individual in description, for in `1 Cor. 12`, the apostle describes the body or beloved, gathered to the Lord through all time with its divine gifts and administrations, and this corporate whole with its many members, but "all baptised by one spirit into one body," he names Oxpiotos --the Christ. So that evil system with its various offices and administrations, yet baptised into unity by "the spirit which now worketh in the children of disobedience," is the anti-Christ. The one is the head of the ecclesia, and the other is the head of apostasia; but the head and body are so identical that they bear the same personal name.
"But he is called 'the man of sin,'" you say, "and therefore must be an individual." Not of necessity. For the line of believers is declared by the apostles to be taken out from the Jews and Gentiles to "make of twain one new man."
I cannot believe that "the mystery of iniquity," which Paul declared to be already working in his day, has been toiling on for nearly two thousand years in order to bring forth a single short-lived man, and he so omnipotently wicked that the pope anti-Christ, with the blood of fifty millions of martyrs on his skirts, is too insignificant a sinner to be mentioned in comparison. And now then, the objections coming thick and fast. "But is he not an open infidel since he is said 'to deny the Father and the Son?'" Search your concordances for the meaning of the word "deny," and observe how constantly it signifies the denial of apostasy and false profession. But is he not the incarnation of Satan since he is called "the son of perdition?" Yes, Judas was named "the son of perdition;" and "Satan entered into Judas Iscariot;" but so far from atheistically denying Christ he openly professed him, saying, "Hail, Master," and then betraying him with a kiss. But is he not a godless blasphemer, since he is declared to have "a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies?" The counterfeit of Christ again, for Christ was twice falsely accused of blasphemy, because he made himself equal with God, and because he presumed to forgive.
The pope is justly accused of blasphemy on both these grounds, for he profanely calls himself God, and assumes to forgive sins. Said Alexander VI., "Caesar was a man; Alexander is a God." But must he not be a Jew established in Jerusalem, since it is said that he sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God?" No. The particular phrase "temple of God," is never in a single instance in the New Testament applied to the temple at Jerusalem, but always to the church, the body of Christ, to its head or to its members in heaven or on earth. But could the Holy Ghost call that "the temple of God" which has become apostate? Just as possibly as Christ could call the apostate Laodiceans whom he spat out of his mouth "the church at Laodicea."
"But does not this view commit one to the year-day interpretation, since the career of anti-Christ in three years and a half and the papal system extends through centuries?" Yes, for the one instance of prophetic time which has by unanimous consent been fulfilled, the seventy weeks of Daniel, is demonstrated to have been upon this scale. Since the period was actually only 490 years--a day for a year --this may be taken as a clue to the prophetic time of Revelation. But if the Holy Spirit meant years in the Apocalypse why did he not say years? you reply. Why, when he meant churches and ministers, and kingdoms and kings, and epoch, did he say candle-sticks, and stars, and beasts, and horns, and trumpets? Yet, having used these miniature symbols of greater things, how fitting that the accompanying time should also be in miniature! To use literal dates would distort the imagery--as though you should put a life-sized eye in a small-sized physiognomy.
I have said that anti-Christ is the evil counterpart of Christ. When Satan offered Christ all the kingdoms of the world if he would fall down and worship him he refused, accepting present rejection and crucifixion, and waiting the Father's time for the kingdoms of the world to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. The Papal anti-Christ accepted the kingdoms of this world when the temptation was presented him, and proceeded to announce himself the "king of kings" and that the kingdom had come, and that in himself was fulfilled the Scripture. "He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from river to river, unto the ends of the earth."
The bride of Christ, the church, was left in the world to share the Lord's rejection and cross, enduring present suffering and widowhood, and waiting for the return of the bridegroom. But the harlot bride of anti-Christ accepts an earthly throne and a present glory, boastfully saying, "I sit a queen and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow." Do we not see that it was this usurpation of the headship of the church by the man of sin, this premature grasping of the kingdom, and the setting up of a mock millennium under rules of a pseudo-Christ, that destroys the millennial life of the church, and has infected all, generation after generation, with the delusion of a present reign and a present kingdom, while Christ is yet absent in person from his flock? But this enemy of God and his saints must soon come to an end. In Daniel and Thessalonians this end is predicted in two stages, the gradual and the sudden and complete. "They shall take away his dominion to consume and destroy unto the end," says Daniel. "Whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming," says Paul in Thessalonians. The consuming process has been going on mightily in our generation by the breath of the Lord's mouth, in the world-wide diffusion of the inspired Scriptures. "And now the devil is come down with great wrath because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." He is putting forth the energy of despair. He is sending his legions to work along various lines, which all center, visibly or invisibly, in one head. On the line of sacerdotalism he is seeking to thwart the work of the Reformation by again insinuating popish worship into its churches; on the line of superstition he is aiming to bewitch the godless and curious multitudes through the energy of unclean spirits; on the line of culture he is moving to foist upon the literary elite a diluted Paganism as an extra fine religion. But these things cheer us rather than sadden us, for all the shadows point to the dawn. The church's salvation means anti-Christ's destruction, and the same Scripture which speaks to us so powerfully to-day in the light of passing evils, "Yet a little while and he that shall come will come and will not tarry," says also, "And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, Amen." All this which I have set forth, I have declared with unutterable sorrow. All this I can think of only with weeping and crying "O bride of Christ, how are they increased who would rob thee of thy chastity."
I need not remind you that one of the first tasks which the ritualistic leaders fifty years ago felt called upon to undertake was that of getting rid of the Protestant interpretation of anti-Christ as the pope of Rome. How desperately they wrought at this task will be apparent to those who read Newman's essay on "The Man of Sin," and observed especially his earnest wrestling with the ominous saying of Gregory the Great, that, "Whosoever adopts or desires the title of universal bishop is the forerunner of anti-Christ."
If I must take sides between parties on this question my sympathies will be with Latimer and Cranmer and Bradford, whose vision was clarified by the fires of martyrdom, who recognized their persecutor, and called him by name, rather than with Manning and Newman, whose eyes are holden by the charm of mediaevalism.
I speak rather of the book than of any human books, and avow my conviction that the papal "Man of Sin" was accurately photographed on the camera of prophecy thousands of years ago; that no detective searching for him to-day would need any other description of him than that which is found on the pages of the Bible. Taking these photographs of Daniel and John and Paul, searching the world upside down for their originals, I am confident that this same detective would stop at the Vatican, and after gazing a few moments at the Pontiff, who sits there gnawing the bone of infallibility, which he acquired in 1870, and clutching for that other bone of temporal sovereignty which he lost the very same year, he would lay his hand on him and say: "You are wanted in the court of the Most
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High to answer to the indictment of certain souls beneath the altar, who were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they bore," and who are crying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?"
My brethren, let us search the Scriptures anew, and let us be sure that they do not require it of us before we silence our testimony against the man of Rome as anti-Christ. --A. J. Gordon.
"THERE is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
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STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
What it was or how it appeared eighteen hundred years ago is unknown; the conjectures are various.
Some who claim that it was a star of peculiar course or orbit, sometime approaching close to the earth and becoming quite prominent, and sometimes receding far away into invisibility, claim that it has regular periods for appearing, centuries apart. These claim, that this star has appeared since our Lord's birth, and is due to appear shortly now.
From this it is evident that no special importance could attach to the star's appearance, except at the one time, when our Lord was born and when the "wise men of the east" were directed by it. For if it has the peculiar orbit claimed, which brings it into view of the earth every few centuries only, it is certain that it appeared centuries before as well as centuries since the time it was used of God to mark our Lord's birth. Hence, if this theory be true, the miracle would not be in the star's appearance, but in the directing of the wise men by it.
But as we said at first, this is merely a theory, and has nothing specially to recommend it. We know no more about it than others, but favor, as most reasonable, the idea that it was a bright luminous appearance which during these five months' journey guided the wise men to Judea, and finally to Bethlehem, and to the place where the young child was. We cannot conceive of a distant star in the sky being a guide by which a house or even a city could be found. Try it some starry night.
But a luminous appearance, a speck of light travelling through the air would not be a star says some one. No, not as the English word star is used to-day, when by that name we refer to far off suns and planets; nor can we conceive of planets many times larger than the earth coming close down so as to mark the stable where our Lord lay. But the Greek word here translated star has the meaning of brightness or shining whether of a planet or a candle or other shining, and hence it as a word would fit well to our opinion of this miracle.
So then we have no reason as yet for expecting anything from the promised reappearance of the star which some suppose to be the star of Bethlehem, but which we think improbable. For even if it were the star supposed, its re-appearance would no more prove a second coming of the babe of Bethlehem, than the recurrence
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of Washington's birthday proves that Washington comes again. On far better evidence than this, do we look for the Lord--not again a babe in the flesh, but a spirit being, in power and great majesty.
But to find the Lord now, as then, it will be necessary to see his star and to follow its leadings. First to the fully consecrated, waiting, watching ones, and finally to all "who look for him, he will appear." Those who find him first will be the truly wise; and the star which will guide them will be the "Day-star" (`2 Pet. 1:19`), the light of truth which will arise within their hearts, giving them understanding as to where, how, and what to seek and expect. This light of knowledge, in our hearts, is the star of importance now, without which the Lord's second advent cannot be properly discerned.
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Not science, fiction, poetry or art
Our services engages. 'Tis our part,--
Guided by gentle fingers, and a mind
That loves to praise the Saviour of mankind,--
To tell his wondrous deeds, his Bride to seek;
Ever "to preach good tidings to the meek."
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS.
BROTHER RUSSELL, DEAR SIR:--A few months ago I was called to do some mechanical engineer work in the back woods of Canada. Being detained there over Sunday, and stopping at one of the lumbermen's homes, our conversation on Sunday took a religious turn. Creeds were pulled over the coals and dissected; the bright as well as the dark side was brought forth to show which was right and who was in the narrow way. I myself was born and brought up in the Roman Church, and three of my children were christened therein, we complying to all of her rules until within a few years, when we cast off the Roman yoke and began to search the Scriptures.
We joined the Presbyterian church, hungering and thirsting for more light and truth in the way of holiness. I attended regularly, Sunday after Sunday, also prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings; and I am sorry to say that I did not feel as though it did me any good. I with my family were thrust away in a back seat up in the gallery, where we could hear but little that was said, while we had a good view of the dress circle below, where the seats were upholstered and the floor was carpeted. I once tried to get a sitting down there where we could hear what was said, but in vain. Trustees said all seats were taken, but I might be able to arrange with some of the pew holders. I approached one for the purpose, who alone occupied a pew with sitting for eight persons. No, was his answer, I have a great many friends and visitors and I want the whole seat. I took note of the member for a while who sat in that pew, but for a dozen Sundays he alone occupied it, and for as many more no one at all; and in that same church there are a hundred pews as the above described, but I could get no sitting. I went in and out of this church for five years, was spoken to by four different members at different times in that five years--never spoken to or as much as looked at in the prayer meetings by any one; and I began to feel I had got in the wrong place. Finally there crept in a discontent in the congregation, and the knowing ones got dissatisfied with the pastor, and the upshot of it was the minister was dismissed, and I must say that I feel he was a true follower of the Lord in every respect. I began to feel that grace was far from that little party, and I gave up going, but never for a day forgetting my God and praying for more light and grace to battle the evil of this wicked world. This frame of mind found me in the lumberman's home on Sunday, a seeker after light. I was handed a little book, and upon a glance I saw "why evil was permitted." I perused it till nearly Monday morning, alone with my God; and I felt the next day as though I had been wearing some dark glasses and they had fallen from my eyes.
Completing my labors, and upon going to take the train, my friend placed in my hand another book and a few papers, telling me to read them at my leisure. Upon opening the package it contained some papers headed ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence, with the Millennial Dawn. I have read, studied, re-read, and have been comparing it with the Scriptures, to make sure, and I am led to exclaim "In the Lord I will put my trust. I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel." The TOWER has come to my home since my visit to the back woods, and it must be through the kindness of my new found friend, the lumberman, although I have not had the pleasure of seeing or hearing from him since my return. To-night the Dawn and TOWER are being perused by some seekers after light, and I hope in a few days to forward you some subscribers for both. I have the money for two subscribers now.
I hope to spread the glad tidings of great joy to all people in this locality, in the workshop and the highway.
Since the above writing I have received a few more applicants and hope a week from to-day to send $10.00.
I hope to do better than at first expected for there are a lot of Romans here.
Yours respectfully, J. S.
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[The following letter is from the Brother mentioned as "A Missionary Free" in the Dec. '87 TOWER, page 1. We know that you all will be glad to hear from him and to know of his zeal in spreading the truth on the "Dark Continent."
Is it not remarkable that without the means to carry on "missions" ourselves or even to reach with the truth the truth-seekers among the missionaries and converts in far off lands, God is laying hold of faithful servants there, and using them to pass the truth from one to another? Thus, as we have heretofore shown by letters published, the truth has its missionaries or ambassadors in India, Turkey, China, Hayti, South America, and now in Africa. We can only say, "It is marvellous in our eyes." We pray for these and all the dear "home missionaries" (which includes all of you who are doing with your might what your hands find to do),--O Lord, grant us according to the word of thy prophet of old. May it be fulfilled to each of us, as it is written: "Strengthen the feeble hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance even God with a recompense; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened."--EDITOR.]
CHAS. T. RUSSELL, DEAR BRO:--Your favor of the 2nd ult. has duly come to hand on the 10th inst., with the following publications: 20 copies Millennial Dawn, 2 copies Food and 25 copies Z.W. TOWER.
I am glad to inform you that we, viz: Hon. J. T. G., the superintendent of our county, C. T. B., George H. C., and myself --met at Brother G.'s residence on the first inst., and duly recognized ourselves as part of the Church of Christ, after reading the article "The Ecclesia," published in Z.W.T. of Sept. 1884.
On the 3rd I addressed a letter to Bishop F. of the P.E. Mission here, advising him that I had severed my connection with his church, and gave my reasons for the same. My course so displeased him that he issued a leaflet entitled "A Warning," in which he bitterly denounced us and the cause we espoused.
Notwithstanding this state of things, and the Bishop's strong effort to prevent his people from hearing the heresy that we were teaching, on the 4th Sunday afternoon, Bro. G.'s commodious parlor was full to overflowing with an anxious audience. We now have weekly Bible readings, and preaching three times at three different places on the Lord's day. I believe we have the presence of the Lord with us.
I hope you will send me some extra copies of Z.W. TOWER for gratuitous distribution among the Lord's poor here, who are many.
As I expect to leave here shortly for Monrovia, and as we hear one of Messrs. Y. & P.'s vessels will leave U.S.A. for Liberia, please send me 2 dozen copies M. Dawn, cloth bound; 4 dozen copies M. Dawn, paper bound, in care of Hon. W. M. D., Monrovia, Liberia. Send also some specimens of Z.W.T., to induce the people there to become subscribers.
Please pray for me and others here. Your Brother in Christ. S. W. S.
P.S.--Enclosed find a copy of my letter to Bishop Ferguson.
The following is the letter mentioned.
S. D. FERGUSON, D.D.,
DEAR BROTHER:--I am compelled to discharge the painful duty of acquainting you with the fact that I have this afternoon severed my connection with the Prot. Episcopal church, of which you are the representative in Liberia. My reason for so doing, in the first place, is that I believe the Protestant churches have departed from the pure word of God, as taught by Jesus Christ and His Apostles, and have adopted human dogmas and traditions of the elders which make void the word of God (`Mark 7:13`); on account of which Jesus denounced woe upon the Pharisees and others who were guilty of the same thing in His day-- `Matt. 23:1-33`; `15:2,3,9`; `Mark 7:2,3,5`. Not only was Jesus displeased with the observance of the traditions of men, but the Apostle to the Gentiles strongly warned his converts to beware of the same, among other injurious things.-- `Col. 2:8`, `Gal. 1:14`.--The nominal church--Papal mother and Protestant daughters--I believe is called Babylon (confusion) by reason of opposing and jarring creeds; and discord prevails among them. I firmly believe God calls you and me, as well as all His people, to come out of her; for her punishment for her sin is due.--`Revelation 18:2,4,5,6`.
My second reason for leaving the Prot. Episcopal church is, I desire to preach the pure word of God under the sole authority and commission of none but Jesus, whom I recognize as the only Head of His church.
Having my eyes once anointed with the eye salve (`Rev. 3:18`) of the pure word of God, I dare not remain longer to dabble in the human teachings, which are the prolific sources of discord and wrangling in the Protestant churches.
You may ask, Where are you going, my brother? I answer, I am not going back to heathenism, where I once was; but I have already united myself with the Church of Christ--the church which Christ and His apostles organized, and which is characterized by the preaching of the pure word of God, and by primitive simplicity in all things appertaining to the same church. You are hereby assured that I will ever stretch out the right-hand of fellowship to welcome you, and all my friends and brethren whom I have left behind in the bondage of Babylon.
I shall ever endeavor to win you all to Christ and into His church. May our brotherly love continue!--Farewell!
With fraternal regards, your friend and brother in Christ, SAM'L W. S.
MR. C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR BRO.:--Enclosed is $1.50 for ten copies of Dawn received last week. A few blocks from my home resides a pastor of the Evangelical Association. I went there a few days before I received my last Dawns, and he being from home, his wife gave me an order for a copy of the book. Yesterday, when I went to deliver it, I found him in the parlor, the wife being engaged. I told him that I had brought the book that Mrs.__________ had ordered. He took it in his hand, looked at the title, then turned to the back cover and read, "Zion's Watch Tower," then asked, "Is this book published by ZION'S WATCH TOWER?" "It is," I answered. Then he said, "O sister, you have got hold of the most dreadful, hurtful doctrines and heresies. I have seen some of their papers" etc. "Well," I said, "you have not fully examined the matter. I wish to call your attention to what Solomon said, 'He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.'" (`Prov. 18:13`.) Then I said, Paul in one of his journeys came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews, but they would not hear him, and drove him away. Then he went to Berea unto another synagogue of the Jews, and it is related of them, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they searched the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so." Then he began to preach to me eternal punishment, because of the very laws of retribution in the nature of all wrong doing. He would not think of reading the book, nor of having his family exposed to reading it. (His oldest child is five years old, and so safe from heresy for some years to come.) Then the Lord opened my mouth and filled my heart, and brought scripture to my lips which I had not thought myself capable of repeating with such fluency. I showed him that Israel's promises related to the land and restoration to favor and forgiveness, while the promise to the church is the high calling that she shall be glorified, and that from her, and not from Israel, shall go forth the law, and that God loved Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob. I showed him our mission to the world as kings, priests, etc. In the meantime I had put up my book, but at last he said "Give me the book again, I will buy it for my own satisfaction." If I had strength to canvass for Dawn I could sell them well, but I have not as yet found just what the Lord's will is for me in this work. He has, however, given me work in corresponding with my brothers and sisters. One sister, a Seventh Day Adventist, wrote me a letter a few days ago, saying, "O sister, believe the blessed book when it speaks so plainly." I answered, "Yes, I believe every word of it, and I call upon you to do the same." I told her that God expected Abraham to believe in the fullness of his promises, and that he expected us to believe as fully in the promises as in the threatenings, for he was able to make them all good. I referred her to such promises as in `Psa. 82:8`; `Rom. 86:9`, and Jesus' own declaration, "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."
I sometimes wonder if it does not worry you to get so many, and long letters from day to day. But our hearts, and lips, and pens, overflow almost without volition; and as you seem to make a sort of a center for the communion of the little flock, we can hardly send you a little bit of money without telling you a long story of our experience in the work. In love, yours, MRS. M. G. ATCHESON.
Fillmore Co., Minn.
DEAR SIR:--Enclosed you will find a money order for five dollars, which I wish to give to the Tract Society with the exception of enough to pay for two Dawns, paper covers, to lend to friends. I am very anxious to have all who will read and think, have access to those wonderful books. Those ordered came all right and were soon delivered. If circumstances will permit I shall take more orders. O, that I could only convince my own family that it is time to look into such matters. They are not opposed, but think it is not necessary. I am all alone, but none the less determined to be faithful to the end.
MRS. S. L. L.
"AS ALL the water that is upon the hills runs into the valleys, so all grace goes to the humble."